Reliq

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Author: reliq (page 2 of 2)

A final look back at Cataclysm, and forward to Pandaland

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. An expansion that showed so much promise but which, eventually, would become something of a disappointment even to devoted fanboys.

Cataclysm was the first expansion I got to experience from Day 1. The changes it brought were, at first, something to get used – including the (now seemingly) minor change to the talent trees and spell abilities. The revamped 1-60 content, and being able to fricken’ FLY in Azeroth, was amazingly-well done and much-needed.

And that first tier – the new, hard heroic-mode dungeons; the 3-dungeon raids; the whole race to world and server first that I was able to follow was brilliant. Seeing the realm-first achievements popping up, and throwing a random strange a ‘GRATS!!’ really seemed to give the entire thing a huge buzz.

Trollolol
Then, we waited for the next content patch. And it had 2 dungeons, and no extra raid. And the sense of disapointment was astounding. I wasn’t even PROPERLY raiding at this point. I found the trollroics difficult but, in time, fun to run – but it was hardly enough to last us through to 4.2.

Firelands
The Firelands patch was much-anticipated. Not only a new raid tier, but a whole slew of new dailies which opened up gradually, revealing more story as you progressed. Sounds fun, don’t it? And it definitely sounded fun when pitched to us, but getting into it and finding out what a charmless grind it was… ugh. I still haven’t opened the second tier yet on my main. It was ruthless.

And the raid, by all accounts at the time (my guild at the time were still chipping away at T11 normal modes) was difficult, painful at times, and… red. Ragnaros not only wiped many raids, but also seemed to have killed a number of guilds through the sheer difficulty.

Dragon Soul
By the time DS came out, we knew we’d be having Pandaren in the next expansion; this was the end tier, and it needed to carry Cataclysm out with a bang. Instead… it whimpered.

The new 5-mans were fun, fast, and full of story (however subtle, and missed by some). The raid, now available to everyone via LFR, was OK. It had the amazing Spine of Deathwing encounter (another guild breaker), the fun BUTTON OF DOOM Ultraxion fight (“JUST PRESS THE FUCKING BUTTON”), and the platform-oops-you-fell fun of Madness. But it was all a bit… meh.

I enjoyed Cataclysm. But I didn’t love it. I loved Wrath – the entire continent to explore, the gorgeous art throughout – but Cataclysm was like little weekend getaways to various zones that are just next to ones you go to all the time. It lacked the sense of adventure and travel that Northrend and Outland gave.

The renewed 1-60 content is great, but unless you want to level alts for a living then there’s not much to offer. And, with the general lack of end-game – especially for non-raiders – there wasn’t much else to do than level alts or unsubscribe. Guess what many people chose to do?

Tonight, we get Mists of Pandaria.

It’s needed. It’s wanted. And it looks gorgeous. This will be the make-or-break of WoW for many players. The game needs to have substantial end-game, or replayability, to retain people in the long run. We’ll soon see if this will offer it (personally, I think it will, but then I’m unlike the majority of players it seems).

I’m going to be diving into it, wringing as much as I can out of it.

The differences for me, on a personal level, are that:

1. I am in the guild I always dreamed of being in
2. The scenery in MoP is breathtaking
3. There just seems to be so much to do: raiding, 5-mans, challenge modes, scenarios, farms, pet battles, OH MY.

This blog will hopefully be updated a little more regularly now that I’m not just spinning my wheels in WoW. If I get time to post — I’m off to adventure through Pandaland, dontchaknow?

MoP Planning #2: Embracing The Adventure

I’m a man of two minds. There is the half of me which admires and strives for accomplishment, regardless of obstacles (real or imagined), and the other that yearns for adventure, be it in the real world or through my imagination.

My two favourite memories from my childhood are winning the ‘Junior Boys All Strokes’ swimming competition at my school (despite not knowing I was in contention for it – I just liked swimming and winning), and the other was me, 8 years old, laying on the back stairs of our family home at the time, in a sunbeam, listening to bees buzz amongst the flowered-vines that lined the walls while I day dreamed.

I approach WoW with two minds, as well. There’s half of me what yearns to build a strong raid team, or accomplish the things I’ve wanted for so long (un-nerfed kills! overcoming difficulty through sheer determination and pig-headedness). The other half has me wanting to take things slowly, to take in the world of Pandaria, to find the little nooks of adventure that others race past on their way to the end-game.

To do both, I don’t necessarily need to sacrifice one in the short term to accomplish the other, but sometimes it feels like it. Doing the first requires some commitment, discipline, and bringing together others to all work towards these goals as a team. The other allows me to just fart-arse about however and whenever I please. I like fart-arseing about.

Is it possible, though, to be balanced with both without necessarily being behind the curve? I’m not going to be pushing the limits of either, but nor do I want to be leaning against the back wall.

In my last post, I covered how my experience in Cataclsym was spread across multiple characters, leaving me to linger too long in the mid-field without really accomplishing anything. I don’t want to make the same mistake in Mists.

While I do have plans to level up a few non-main toons, Reliq will be my focus. And he is a mighty adventurer (even if he does trip over things and fall to his death far too often). It will be his boots which are first muddied by the misted shores of Pandaria, the wind in his hair and soy sauce in his epic beard.

I honestly can not wait until those first moments of stepping into the game and seeing the world anew (albeit covered by hundreds of other players stealing your quest items).

Perhaps I’ll spend the first few days just driving around, as I have done in the beta, to see the world as launch day presents it to us.

I will imagine the sun on my char’s neck, the sense of adventure tingling his skin, the weight of the weapon on his back, and go forth to his inevitable death!

To Pandaria!

MoP Planning #1: Concept of a ‘Main’

When Cataclysm launched, I put my then-main Reliq, a Blood/Unholy Death Knight, to the side and instead focussed on levelling and gearing Baym, my Holy/Protection Paladin. My thoughts were that the guild I was in would benefit from having a healer/tank all set to go when we inevitably began raiding soon after launch.

As it was, the officers decided at launch, or soon after, that raiding would be on the back burner for some time to allow the guild’s members to focus on enjoying the content. By then, I was already set on Baym being my first level 85, and so he would be – and would remain my main focus in the expansion for the first 3 months or so, leaving Reliq to inch his way to 85 whenever I fancied a break.

I moved on to play my shadow priest, Aotearoa, around this time as a break from PVE, and got half-decent on her as a PVP mind-melter. Good fun. But in due course, my attention was being dragged back to what was, in my heart, my first love: my death knight, Reliq.

He is the toon people know me by. It’s the name I use on Twitter, everyone who knows me in-game refers to me as “Rel”, and if you shouted the name out in the street I’d respond (although probably keep walking, because humans confuse me).

So, finally, about 6 months into Cataclysm I took to playing Reliq properly. I’ve levelled and geared other characters in the last 12 months or so, but Reliq has always been the main priority, especially since branching out earlier this year and starting my own guild and raid team. Reliq is our main tank, with only occasional-appearances by other toons (usually my shaman Pakeha), but I now have a definite main.

The crux of the matter, and reason behind this post, though, is my feeling of lost time from Cataclsym; I spent so much time faffing about, that my experience of this past expansion seems fractured due to not having a focus at the start.

I don’t intend on making that mistake in Mists of Pandaria.

While I do intend of levelling each tanking class to max, and getting them geared enough to raid (in time), my main focus will be Reliq. He is the one I will run challenge modes and scenarios on. He is the one who will have his own farm and work on his Tiller reputation. He is the one with the raid achievements first, and priority for everything else.

MoP looks to be an exhaustingly-exciting expansion, based on what we’ve seen coming for end-game content, especially the non-raiding content.

Mists of Pandaria Cinematic – Favourite Shots

Thoughts on a Blood Death Knight talent build in Mists of Pandaria

I haven’t had a chance to delve too deeply into the Blood DK changes for MoP as yet, but by all accounts they’re minimal (compared to the changes other classes are), but I thought I would at least look at the upcoming talents now we’re getting close to 5.0.4 landing, with the hope that the system as it is now on the beta/PTR is final.

As you all know, the talent trees have seen a complete revamp, with the ‘must have’ talents now being given to you automatically when you choose your spec, with others being selectable from 3 per ‘tier’. Here is the window as it appears for Death Knights, with the talents I’ve chosen already selected.

Now, these have been chosen with a mix of 5-man and raiding in mind, as that is my general bread and butter. Some talents will be moved around, but for the most part I’m happy with this.

Disclaimer: I am not a theorycrafter. I am interested in my class, and go to decent lengths to be knowledgable about it, but for me it’s all about gameplay, not the stats.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you have some information to help me choose a better setup, or if I’ve missed the point of a talent altogether.

Level 15
Roiling Blood
Wow. The thought that I could spread my diseases so easily just makes me giddy. I’ve seen this in action in a video, and seeing the black tendrils leaking out to all enemies in a back with a simple Blood Boil (itself already dealing Shadow Damage) is lovely. For AOE tanking, and trash pickups especially, this is ideal.

I can’t see the point of Plague Leech here, and Unholy Blight strikes me as a pure DPS or even PVP ability.

 

Level 30
Anti-Magic Zone
I was tempted to take Lichborne, since it is very useful – especially in 5-mans where your one healer may decide to sit on his hands for a minute, leaving you to fend for yourself. But in a raiding situation, AMZ makes perfect sense to me – and an extra raid wall is always good.

 

Level 45
Death’s Embrace
Moving faster is always a good thing, especially in 5-mans. I was very tempted with Asphyxiate, as a ranged silence is nice and the crowd-control element would be useful, but really your DPS should be taking care of CC IMO.

 

Level 60
Death Pact
Oh my giddy aunt, this is a useful talent. Again, useful for those moments when your healer is picking their arse and leaving you near death: raise a ghoul, then sacrifice it to get a great self-heal. Use Vampiric Touch right before this, and you get healed for even more. Lovely. Death Siphon and Conversion also look very good, but until I get a chance to put them into practice, I’ll be sticking with what I know.

 

Level 75
Runic Empowerment
It’s actually a toss-up between this and Runic Corruption, and I may go with RC if I find my runes – despite depleted ones being regenerated with RE – slow to come back into use. This is a funny tier of talents, as it’s all about those bloody runes, which – to be quite frank – I pay little attention to until I see I’m nearly resource starved. How this will play out in MoP will be interesting. I will say, though, that my limited time in the beta has seen me starved of runes more often than not, but I can’t remember which talent from this tier I’d chosen.

 

Level 90
Gorefiend’s Grasp
Like Roiling Blood, anything which makes everything around you stand up and take notice is a good thing, in my mind. Remorseless Winter is, in my eyes, more a DPS ability to control packs of mobs until the tank can get to them, while Desecrated Ground I see being more useful in PVP, or in fights where there is a mind control or something.

 

Mists of Pandaria Cinematic – Thoughts (with spoilers)

So, it dropped today as expected, with its world premiere at Gamescom, and being posted to the official WoW YouTube channel a short while afterwards.

Technically, it’s excellent.

Story-wise, I love the fact that it’s the Alliance & Horde landing on a new, unknown world, immediately go into conflict, but are thrown by a new element – a Pandaran rolling into their midst.

It’s an unknown foe to them both, and being the naturally-violent factions they are, they attack it – and choose their closest, but known, enemy as an allie.

The kick at the end, where the panda shows that, the combat is not a major thing to them but part of the balance of their lives, is a perfect balance to what will in truth be an expansion where the Alliance and Horde conflict impacts greatly on this peaceful land with its own problems.

I can’t fucking wait.

Brief Bits: Thoughts on LFR

From my Twitter – @ReliqEU

WoW, and the Immediate Judgement effect

(Warning: aimless rant ahead)

Location: Baradin Hold, sometime during the first month of T13.

Reason: to face off against Alizabel. Again.

Company: a ragtag bunch of strangers from Trade.

I fell into a BH 10 pug as a tank on my DK main, Reliq, because I was bored. No other excuse. I had no real reason to be there; I didn’t really need or want the gear (and wasn’t interested in the possible PVP drops), but it was something to do.

The raid leader was, if I recall correctly, one of the healers or DPS. The other tank was a warrior, and we then had the usual mix for a typical 10m class run. We cleared the trash, and stood facing Alizabel in her many-armed glory.

“Tank #2, after her spinning attack, I’ll taunt her back”, I say. I like to make this clear just so we both know who will do the pickup duties. It’s not necessary, but I feel it helps rather than both wasting our taunts at the start of the next section of the fight.

Then the raid leader piped in: “LOL you taunt on Skewer. Do you even know this fight?”

“Umm, yes,” I said. “I’ve done it a few times now.”

“Doesn’t even know the fight,” he said again.

“Just go,” said one of the DPS, and so we did.

The fight went its usual way – the odd DPS not moving from the boss as she spins around the room doing her whirly-gig blade-spin thing. Meanwhile, the raid leader is saying, “I bet he gets the achiev after this.”

I ignore it. He’s judging me because he misunderstood my statement to the other tank. That’s not my fault, and can’t be helped.

We finish the fight; I don’t get the achievement, as I had it from the first week Alizabel was available, like many other people. I hearth home, drop group, and go about my business. But I’m pissed off.

I’m not pissed that the raid leader questioned my ability, but rather that he jumped to the conslusion that I deserved to be judged because of his own misunderstanding. He came to an immediate judgement of me based on one sentence.

  • He decided I didn’t know the fight
  • He decided therefore that I’d never done it before
  • And, no doubt, he decided I was a lesser player because of it.

The fact was: if he’d tanked the fight himself, then he would have understood why I’d said that to the other tank (as that tank did). But the tactics around this are moot — what’s important is the jumping to judgement.

This is all too common in many areas of WoW (and other games too, I’m sure).

  • Someone logs into a 5-man wearing nothing but PVP gear, therefore he’s a shit DPS who’ll fail.
  • Someone gems/reforges for X rather than Y, therefore doesn’t know his class.
  • Someone asks for clarification one a boss, therefore doesn’t know the entire instance.

Where does this get us? The PVP-geared player often out-DPS’s whoever was giving him crap. The player who prioritises other stats may well have their own reasons, and simply doesn’t follow the EJ-sheep herders. The guy asking for extra info on one boss’s tactics may have done the entire thing before, but can’t remember one tiny strat.

Why do we do this? Once someone forms a judgement of a person, it’s difficult to get that person to retreat. They’ll hold onto their opinion like a rabid dog, no matter how hard you hit them around the head with your logic shovel.

It makes the game impersonal, causes people to pull back from doing anything with strangers, and once we get to the point where people will only run content with people they know, what’s the point of playing an MMO? Why not just make the game into a single-player adventure with co-op modes?

World of Warcraft, and Competitive E-Sports

WoW has never translated well to the E-Sports stage. Despite having live Arena matches at Blizzcon and elsewhere, WoW has failed to take off the way SC2 and other games have. Primarily this is because, to understand exactly what’s going on in Arena, you need to have some understanding of the classes, and their mechanics, involved in the battle. Otherwise it’s just 6 characters running around throwing random crap at each other.

So, it’s often been said that as an e-sport platform, WoW is a non-starter.

However, the last month – and Blizzcon 2011 – has shown that there is one way that Blizzard could further embrace the e-sport scene and do so with their flagship product: live raids.

With Blood Legion v. Vodka at last year’s 2011 Blizzcon (where they raced to finish Firelands Heroic first), and this year’s 2 live raid competitions via Athene’s OPSharecraft.com benefit (Vodka v Method, and then Blood Legion v Paragon v STARS v Exorcus), live competitive raiding has proven to be a huge draw. The 100,000 viewers for the last four-team live raid should have proven as much.

So why is live raiding so compelling compared to Arenas?

First of all, you don’t need to understand the class system, or even necessarily the specific boss mechanics. What you see, instead, are groups of highly-skilled individuals working together as teams through game encounters that are, at the basic level, easy to understand. And, it’s a simple race: which team gets that boss down quicker; how far behind is that other team, and OMFG THEY’RE CATCHING UP HOLY SHIT.

However, having world-top guilds competing on a regular basis would be difficult to keep active (unless there were sizeable prize pots). What is needed is a way to encourage the ‘normal’ players to compete without having to devote 2-3 hours of gametime to do so. And Blizzard has precisely the platform coming with Mists of Pandaria.

Challenge Mode dungeons will be coming in with patch 5.0, with the new MoP dungeons open to ‘speed challenges’ whereby teams will be rewarded bronze, silver and gold rewards based on how quickly they can complete the dungeons. Their gear will be normalized, and as such it will take pure skill and team work to excel.

Put this in a situation where teams can race each other in some way, and we would have an exciting platform where skill will be matched against skill (rather than gear against gear). Then have a way for these match-ups to be watched on replay, throw access to that to YouTube and streaming casters, and voila: a WoW e-sport that many more players can relate to than arena does.

Add in semi-regular live competitive raids, with the support of the larger gaming sponsors and networks, and the WoW e-sport scene would, I’m sure, blossom.

Mind Vision-ing one of the Aspects during Madness (LFR)

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