Giving a big, thankful welcome back to Wrath-style heroics

Oh, I remember those young, innocent days in Wrath. The days when we’d sit there, saying things like “these Heroics are far too easy” and “I miss TBC”. Those days when we eagerly lapped up the news of crowd control making a return and Heroic dungeons being difficult again.

How naive we were.

After six months of PUGs of Epic Fail and whispered tales of pickup groups who actually completed Grim Batol, Patch 4.2 has come along, and all of a sudden, Heroics are easy again. And I’m sure a lot of us are having the same reaction that Stormy at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall has been writing about todaythank goodness:

No doubt we’re in for a rash of people complaining about how we’re going back to the WOTLK days they hated so much. While we may indeed get another tier of tougher five-mans similar to the ICC-5s of Wrath, Stonecore, Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep are now the Utgarde Keep and Nexus of Cataclysm. The Cataclysm heroics came in with much fanfare, heralding the return of crowd control and the return of “heroic” heroics, but by that measure these dungeons are now a relic.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that.

I had the same reaction to this post as to a good observational comedian – guilty, secretly pleased agreement. I’ve been one of the biggest whiners out there about how things were better in TBC, and I still miss the charged, highly tactical atmosphere of TBC dungeons. But Cataclysm was a half-way house at best, never as tactical or as brutal as TBC, but just difficult enough to interact very badly with – let’s be honest – the Looking for Group tool.

Since 4.2, I’ve been running quite a few Heroics for Chaos Orbs. (Yeah, I did the math a bit late). And I’ve been – embarassingly – rather enjoying the faceroll. I can now charge through dungeons chain-pulling again! I can aggro two groups at once and do more AOE DPS than most of the DPS in the party! I can get Valor Points for Heroic Stonecore!

Are you feeling the same way?

_Quote taken directly from Stormy’s post.

You can find Scribblings on the Asylum Wall’s homepage at http://theasylumwall.com_

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How Do You Talk To Strangers?

Shintar over at Priest With A Cause is taking a look at the malaise surrounding PUG groups and asking a straight-up question: How do you talk to people in PUGs? She’s got a theory that it’s much easier for it all to go wrong if you – and they – don’t put in a bit extra effort to be clearer in communcating.

It all boils down a simple idea: not being able to rely on extra communication signals like body language really hurts the chances of understanding words as they’re meant. Shintar says she doesn’t have any proof for this and it just sounds sensible. She backs it up well with some great examples of how communcation in PUGs can go unintentionally wrong  and get you off on the wrong foot with other folks.

However, I quickly realised that these words could also be interpreted in a completely different way, for example: “It’s not my fault, I had to split my healing because you weren’t soaking up all the damage like a good tank should be doing.” It’s not what I meant at all, but it soon became clear that this or something similar was what the tank had actually read.

Shintar’s right – there’s something to be said for being clear and making sure you’ve said what you mean in a group of strangers, and it might put them at their ease. But how crucial do you think that is – and do you think there’s such a thing as too much communcation in a PUG when you’re never going to see the people talking at you again?

_Quote taken directly from Shintar’s post

You can find Shintar’s Priest With A Cause homepage here_

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Grouping With Friends – For A Price

The big kerfuffle this week is about Blizzard’s announcement that they’re planning to allow WoW players to group with Real ID friends – for a price. This is a huge move – so much so that the blogosphere’s alight about it – and well worth a roundup post.

Most folks are saying that it’s a good idea but they’re split into two distinct camps over whether it’s fair to charge for it. Many folks have a unique take on it which is leading to a really interesting debate – let’s take a look at some of the reactions out there…

  • Corath: Premium Dungeon Finder – “One big question I know a lot of people will have is whether this will support cross-faction groups along with cross-realm.”
  • Typhoon Andrew: Fee To Play With Real ID Mates? No Thank You – “its frigg’n cheecky for them to say, “oh please don’t scream till we price it”, as that misses the point. This is the thin edge of the wedge for wow’s subscription fees.”
  • Graylo: A Fee To Play With Friends – “On one hand this really doesn’t have any impact on how we play the game. If you don’t buy the service nothing changes for you.”
  • Jar: New App: Dungeons With Friends – “Call me “old” (in wow terms i guess) and crusty but I really don’t get why there is so much vitriol and venom being spewed in response to Blizzards newest premium service idea.”
  • Matticus: Would You Pay For Premium? – “The point I’m trying to get to here is would you rather pay a higher monthly cost for included services or have a lower monthly cost along with optional services?”

That’s it for now – and I bet there will be more reactions than this out there. What’s your take on it?

Quotes all taken directly from linked articles.

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The Spread Of Bad Habits In Low Level Dungeons

Anyone ventured into an instance recently? C’mon, hands up. Specifically low level ones. Big Bear Butt’s got a post today about his recent experiences in a low level instance – well, I say experience, but it doesn’t sound like he gained much in the way of XP while he was there.

Most of his post is an entertaining tale of what happened in the dungeon. He says he was levelling a new druid and felt there came a time when he should try tanking a low level dungeon. Risky business, I know. But BBB explains that he had all the old bear-tank tricks up his sleeve to compensate for the lack of any bear AoE abilities at low level. Wasn’t enough: apparently his problem turned out to be the DPS.

The DPS, two Hunters and a Warrior, actually attacked while I was still running up. I hadn’t even gotten close enough to face pull and boom!

So mobs are on the three DPS and their pets, but not ALL the mobs of the group. I grabbed one of them, and started trying to get the rest, and the healer panicked, exacerbating the problem by frantically casting heals to try and keep all the DPS alive… bringing the remainder of the mobs down on her head.

He goes on to speculate how the tanking classes are balanced at the moment, saying that at the same low level warriors would have solid AoE threat abilities but bears have nothing. He’s hurting a bit over that and I don’t blame him, though I’m not sure I agree with BBB’s conclusion that other tanking classes with their fancy AoE abilities ‘train’ DPS to let all nitwibble break loose within miliseconds.

What do you think – are tanking classes unbalanced right from the offset, and are DPSers spoilt and allowed to switch their brains off by AoE-tastic tanks?

_Quote taken directly from BBB’s post

You can find Big Bear Butt’s homepage here_

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Problems With Finding A Fix For The LFD Tool

I’d guess over the holidays you’ve run a few dungeons using the LFD tool. Or at least thought about it, turned slightly green thinking of the idiots just waiting to be inflicted upon you and gone for a lie down. There must be a fix out there for it, right? Well, Ardol over at WoW Philosophized has turned his thought towards it.

Most of us gripe about LFD now and then. Ardol, objective as ever, sets that aside and just looks at ways the LFD tool could be changed and whether they’d make it a better place. He starts with the more popular ideas – being able to up-rank people (by friending them) or down rank people. A reputation system. He also looks at other solutions like his own idea of a questchain that instils players with useful Heroic skills. Throughout, Ardol keeps recognising the fact that players will try to break the system, use it to their own ends or have subjective values of what they’re judging people on.

Even worse, since down-votes would move the down-voted player farther down the queue, any down-rate you give another player would theoretically move you up the queue, assuming the down-rate isn’t reciprocated. This would give players real, tangible motivation to down-rate people who don’t deserve it; in other words, it wouldn’t be just the jerkass players who down-rate everyone.

Reading through Ardol’s post I had the feeling it was a little mercenary, repeatedly talking about giving undesireable players longer queue times. But then I remembered that when questioned most of us would probably prefer “go go go lolz u no ned tacs u stupid u dunno hw 2 play” touting ‘Iizrougee’ to have time to brew himself an extra coffee. Or six.

What about you – do you have any ideas on how to fix the LFD tool, or are you thinking “if it ain’t broke…”?

Quote taken directly from Ardol’s post

You can find WoW Philosophixed’s homepage here

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Questing’s More Essential Than Ever – And We Haven’t Noticed

Shintar’s got a bee in her bonnet about questing, and it’s not the same one everyone else is bothered by. As she says, many folks have had plenty to say on the linear way quests are set up in the post Shattering world, but no-one’s said anything about how essential questing seems to be.

Shintar starts out looking at the history of questing and whether we could get away without it in original WoW and the previous expansions. She notes various things that you couldn’t get unless you did specific questlines but that most of them weren’t essential. Except, of course, the shoulder enchants from the Sons of Hodir in WotLK, though personally I got round that by exchanging slightly shoddy PvP shoulder enchants for a lot less grinding.

But anyway, Shintar tells a tale of trying to level without questing. She recounts how she tries to level professions but is thwarted by what zones she can get to. How she tries to do a few dungeons for experience, loot and glory, but is thwarted by… everything.

Throne of the Tides is a problem again though. Unless you have someone who’s willing to summon you, you can forget about doing that one without having quested in Vashj’ir first. Without the Sea Legs buff you’ll probably drown before you even get there. Since I really wanted to do it [Stonecore] however, I bit the bullet and let Aggra take me through her cut scene again while I tabbed out. The moment I’m down at the Temple of Earth, I fly up to discover the Stonecore entrance… and am still locked out, because the dungeon finder considers my ilevel too low.

Shintar’s got a point: it seems that questing is essential to a lot of other features in the game – even to itself, if you want to access certain zones. Which is fine if you enjoy questing, but the problem’s compounded by the linearity reducing the number of quests you can choose between at any time.

What do you think – is Shintar right and questing is too essential, or do you think it’s about time questing was at the forefront? Or is it not essential at all?

_Quote taken directly from Shintar’s post

You can find Priest With A Cause’s homepage here_

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Aiii, Not the Face – Healers on Cata-Pain

I must confess, I’ve not hit 85 yet – stuck at 84 instead thanks to a week full of busy evenings and crazy-mad weekdays. And I’ve certainly not hit 85, or even 81, as a healer. But a fair number of people have, and it appears that hitting Cataclysm with a new healer is a bit like hitting a powerboat propeller with a club made entirely of jelly.

Zan at Altoholic Anonymous is certainly feeling the Cata-Pain. As of a week ago, he’d yet to compete a single heroic on his Paladin healer, and since then, things seem not to have improved much. He’s arguing that not only is healing brutally hard and thoroughly horrible when using the LFD system right now, but that healers have been robbed of the gratification of healing by the new paradigm:

Healers watch their unit frames and are used to see press their buttons and see things happen. In Cataclysm we don’t see that, we no longer get a noticeable change in our target’s health. We no longer get a visual gratification for pressing our buttons. This combined with the mana problems, the slow cast times, the lack of real change in the way damage is taken, and the shit healers have been getting in randoms has taken the fun out of the game for a huge number of people.

I could care less about how hard heroics are. I only care a little about baddies and being vote kicked, or even spell efficiency, but not having gratifying results when pressing my buttons steals away a good deal of my fun.

Meanwhile, Disciplinary Action (great name, guys) is also feeling the pain of  healing in Cataclysm.

You’re running out of mana every two mobs and the group keeps pulling, oblivious to your panicked squeals for mana, mana, mana! Bars are dropping. You pop triage heals on the DPS, even though you can’t spare the mana, because you know you’ll wipe for sure without that strangely tough hunter because your tanks’ health is dropping faster than a brick on fast-forward and he’s vying for the title of World’s Biggest Dick anyway.

The ‘lock Life Taps six times in quick succession, the tank pulls the boss while you’re counting the seconds on your Shadowfiend cooldown and sobbing softly while whacking the last three mobs feebly with your stick, and then it happens:

You wipe.

And then the group boots you.

They’ve been learning from the pain, the wipes, and the noobs, though, and present an excellent list of tips for surviving the Cata experience, including some suggestions of helpful communications macros to help stem the confusion and/or noobitude. And they’re even suggesting returning to Wrath instances – but just to improve your new skills in a less-terrifying environment.

Have you levelled a healer in Cata yet? Is it as horrible as everyone’s saying? And do you have any tips to help improve teh haelz?

Quotes taken directly from Zan’s posts and Disciplinary Action’s post.

Find Altoholic Anonymous here_, and Disciplinary Action here.


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Cata Roundup: Hunter Pets, Tanking Rewards And Tactics, Gearing A Lock For Raiding

I’m taking a break from saving Mount Hyjal like the powerful, suave and slightly maniacal hero my fury warrior suddenly is to take a look round the blogosphere. I’m excited – I’ve just seen my first worgen player! Yes, yes, I know, I’m a little behind the curve, but I wasn’t in beta. I liked what I saw, anyway. And I’ve finished helping the wolf ancient, which took some doing. You’d think a giant wolf might be able to wolf down his enemies (thank you, I’ll be here all week).

Anyway. This seems a great time to give you a few quick links to useful posts. Before I go safe fluffy rabbits from the terrors of a forest fire. Ahhh, new favourite quest.

  • Beth has some tips on getting started in Cataclysm – I know I linked some posts like this earlier, but her tips are different. Quick posts, good tips – just check you haven’t forgotten anything!
  • Janyaa over at Muradin Musings tells us how her queuing outside the local gamestore with fellow gamers went. Nice to hear an account of this actuallyJanya”s really quite detailed too, and sounds like the fellow-gamer spirit is still alive for midnight launch shenanigans. Good read.
  • How to tank Cataclysm instance bosses? Well, good question. Luckily smcwhtdtmc has a post originally by Idkittens which tells you exactly the tactics you need to know as a tank for the new five mans. It comes in two parts – find the first here and the second here.
  • Saga has a guide up to pre-raid warlock gear covering everything from trinkets to wands to armour. She gives multiple options wherever possible and lets you know how to get hold of them.
  • Mania’s Arcania has a run down of the new hunter pets available from now thanks to Cataclysm. Want a rare lion? A molten turtle? Ghostcrawler the spirit beast? There are links to everything on the list and more promised over at Petopia, the main hunter pet website.
  • Kadomi over at Tank Like A Girl has a guide to the faction rewards for prot warriors out there. Some of these are probably usefu reputation rewards for paladin, DK and druid tanks too. There are even – wait for it – tanky bracers from reputation grinds. My, the world has changed.

Off to save the fluffy bunnies! See you later folks – was anything here useful for you, or are you looking for something in particular?

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Priest With A Cause: Is Levelling Too Fast?

The new levelling game is shiny, fast paced and action packed. There’s so much to do! Well, that’s kind of the problem says Shintar over at Priest With A Cause. She’s noticed a thread on the EU forums in which someone said they were levelling too fast, then 17 pages’ worth of replies pitched in. Some of them even stayed on topic!

Shintar says she was a bit taken aback by this thread. That’s a lot of people commenting on levelling being too fast. It’s got her thinking about how levelling’s changed as WoW’s evolved – she levelled back in Vanilla before all the cuts to xp you needed to level, and says that when those were introduced she wasn’t overly keen on them. Now that’s not something I hear often but can really sympathise with. Now, Shinat points out, the game’s grown into an interseting but awkward place. Suddenly there are a million and one things to do but not enough levels to fit ’em all in to.

I don’t think anybody is pining for the days when you had to be half a Loremaster and run every instance at least once to reach the level cap at all, but this new system doesn’t flow very well either. Blizzard used to encourage people to dabble in different aspects of the game, but right now doing so almost feels like a punishment. When you’re halfway through a zone-wide story arc, you don’t want to see that all the quests have turned grey after you “dared” to run an instance and a battleground.

Shintar’s left this quite open for debate. She does acknowledge the XP turn off/on option but says doing that every time you want to let a zone’s quests catch up with you or don’t want to level in dungeons is clunky, and I agree with her. Though the XP you get from dungeons being nerfed this week might affect the latter – and I suspect Shintar posted before that was announced – it doesn’t affect the quest XP. Nor the fact that the new Battleground level brackets (thanks for this news, Cynwise!) meaning you can probably get a fairer fight – and more XP for your BG – if you PvP when levelling.

Great post from Shintar and while we’re all enjoying the levelling experience I’d really like to hear what you think – is it too fast, are you getting left behind and can’t fit everything in? Or is it fine and there’ll be years to explore everything anyway?

_Quote taken directly from Shintar’s post

You can find Priest With A Cause’s homepage here

You can find Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual’s homepage here_

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Rank 4 Healing Touch: What You Need To Know, Part 1

Rank 4 Healing Touch (herein R4HT) has stumbled over a rather good read on the MMO Champion forums and is pointing it out to us. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement: he’s practically waving his arms up and down and making frantic noises that somehow suggest we should read this post. How’s he doing that on a blog? Simple: he’s re-posted most of the post in question on his own blog – with full rights to the original author of course.

He also says he’s going to follow up with his own thoughts on the subject. So why the big deal? Well, the information he’s linking (and reproducing) is about what Wrath players need to know going into Cataclysm. Both R4HT and the original author are quick to clear that definition up: “wrath players” means anyone who’s played during Wrath, not just those who started playing in Wrath. They’re addressing anyone with an account and a pulse.

So what’ve they got to say? Well, the original post says we’ve got into some bad group habits and those aren’t going to fly in Cataclysm. Our limbs might though. Fly, that is, if we don’t drop the bad habits. But the gold dust of the post and the real reason that R4HT highlighted it is that the post then goes on to make very sensible and necessary suggestions of things we could all remember. There are general suggestions for all of us, a list of tips and good habits to remember each for DPS, healers and tanks, and even… a TL:DR:

Wow, are you guys still here, or did you just skip to the end?

If, as I suspect, this was WAY too long and you didn’t care, here’s a brief summary.

Be patient. Be observant. Communicate with your group. Own up to your mistakes. Learn as much about your class as you possibly can, and use all of your tricks. Learn to kite and Crowd Control. Learn to mitigate as much incoming damage as possible, even as a dps. Manage your mana. Think on your toes!

It’s a great piece of writing and is exactly the sort of thing we need to keep in mind as we leap into Cataclysm next week. Wait, next week? Really?

Anyway. I’m also really looking forward to reading R4HT’s own thoughts on this topic in a seperate post – and yours. What do you think – are there any habits we should remember that aren’t on that list, or bad habits that we really need to get rid of but are going to be oh so hard to break?

_Quote taken directly from R4HT’s post, which is a direct reprint from the original post on the MMO Champion forums by Daetur

You can find Rank 4 Healing Touch’s homepage here_

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