Friday, December 19, 2014

Edgy young adults

I stopped raiding with my guild. I'm honestly not sure what caused it originally, but a group of people in the raid had come to the conclusion that I was unworthy of raiding with them, and were basically bullying me during raids.

My guild's response to this boiled down to "we do it to other people too, and it's our policy to allow it".

The story they tell themselves about this seems to be "it's just how we talk to each other", which I'd attribute to a lack of conscious awareness of social structure. A person's social context always frames what they say to affect its meaning. It's basically how satire works-- if you assume that the speaker is on the same page as you, it's easy to understand when they say something out of character, so you understand they probably don't mean it literally.

Where I'm going with this is to point out that there's actually a big difference between a guild officer calling the guild leader a cunt*, and a guild officer publicly shaming a trial raider for making a mistake.

I thought I'd found a great raid group with the "b-team" 10-man raid back in Siege, but it seems like the omg super serial progression realm first group (that is the only option now) takes raiding a bit more seriously than I'm able to while still enjoying the game.

*in Australia the word cunt is still used offensively but has become very trendy among edgy young adults, sort of like black people adopting the word nigger, but with less point to it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Message of the Day

Today's message of the day as I logged into WoW was "Being polite in groups will get you invited back."

They need to update it to "Being polite in groups doesn't matter any more because you can just re-queue straight away."

I had a total blast leveling through Draenor. Some of the most interesting questing I've seen in the game so far. I did a few leveling dungeons are they were all fun and challenging. Whether the challenge came from the dungeon or the poor gameplay of my teammates wasn't really relevant-- I had fun.

Then I reached endgame.


Now there is something you need to understand about World of Warcraft. It's the healer's job to keep everyone alive. So if someone dies, it's only because the healer failed to stop them from dying. This is so obvious to everyone that it's not even worth saying. Yeah, that's right, you just wasted seconds of your life reading something you already knew.

Maybe I just need to face up to being not a good enough player to heal heroic 5-man dungeons. Self-delusion can be pretty insidious.

**SATIRE OVER ** I was trying to demonstrate how ridiculous it is to blame the healer even though everyone seems to do it anyway by coming to a ridiculous conclusion based on this assumed truth. The relative merit of my healing accomplishments as compared to other players has already convinced me I'm not a bad healer-- but this context had clearly not been established to a degree that the satire would be obvious. My blind conviction to what most would consider a highly-debatable idea (and the concurrent shift in style toward awkward tautological sentences) was also meant to be a tonal cue, this one relying only on an established context of me not being that stupid.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Angry ranting

I really wish Blizzard would stop selling more than they're capable of delivering.

I paid for this expansion six months ago. I paid for my current subscription time in July. This is not the way I expect to be treated after handing over that much money, that far in advance.

Did we not know what was going to happen on launch day? The same thing that happens on EVERY FUCKING LAUNCH DAY?

Okay great, you convinced a million ex-WoW players to resubscribe. Pat on the fucking back. I'm sorry I didn't threaten to unsubscribe enough for you to care enough about my experience.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dances with raiders

If you've ever used the term "dancing" pejoratively when you talk about raid gameplay, you absolutely need to read this blog post from Alexander Brazie on how he fucked up the Netherspite encounter, specifically naming how and why it ended up becoming a "dance". I'm so convinced by his definition that I have to concede that this term can be useful for describing a specific type of raid gameplay.

But I maintain that the word has been used unfairly way more often than it has been used fairly. I've seen a clear pattern of mid-range guilds whose raiders lack the situational awareness to "play" encounters as intended, so the leader must resort to dictating specific instructions just to keep people from doing the wrong thing. This type of raiding group makes encounters into a dance, and to be fair it clearly works, for the simple fact that most people are better at following instructions than thinking for themselves. It's just another example of players taking the efficient route to success rather than enjoying the game as intended.

The root issue has always been that the raiding game was too difficult for a majority of players, a criticism that Blizzard has more than owned up to, and today's range of difficulty levels are a incredible improvement. It's so vitally important for any game to match itself to the skill level of the players.

I'm reminded of this pervasive idea of the "Patchwerk fight". Pervasive despite the first rule of Patchwerk fights being that you don't talk about Patchwerk fights because they are boring and raiding is so much more than that. I don't disagree.

But players love these fights. Players love the pure throughput environment, simply because this kind of sustained DPS/healing check gives them the (rare?) opportunity to kick into top gear, to use every cooldown, every proc, and for once not worry about distractions like target switching or ramping or delaying abilities to run away. It's like a drag race for your WoW toon; less about finesse and more about who has the fastest engine and knows how to drive it.

Perhaps this drag race metaphor better illustrates some players' overwhelming tendency to play chicken with deadly mechanics.

The problem with Patchwerk fights is they are only relevant at gear level; once the raid's throughput passes a point the switch flips to trivial. I wonder if it's at all possible to save this type of fight from sudden obsolescence by implementing mechanics that scale with your raid's throughput. Not so far as to negate gear, but just enough to stop the encounter from becoming trivial overnight.

I suspect that there is a very large group of players who genuinely enjoy standing still and DPSing and are more than happy to ignore raid mechanics as much as possible because their combat mechanics alone are intrinsically fun and/or because competing with others in the same role is the main goal for them.

Social competition is a stronger motivator than we realise. In the end it's the same old human story; we covet our neighbour's ass, so we feel compelled to spend three years grinding to get the same mount to drop for us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The dream of melee healing is alive in Mistweavers.

UBRS is fun. I've been running it over and over, spending as much time in Crane (melee) stance as possible. I can melee heal the whole dungeon now (as long as the group isn't terrible), it just takes balls to play so close to the edge the whole time. This usually puts me at the top of the damage meter too, but I feel like this might have more to do with my gear level and the relative power of the caster Legendary proc. I have a suspicion that 100% melee healing may not be a viable playstyle for doing content "at level", but dammit if I'm not going to try.

I take everything back about my class being less "active" now. Crane stance is intense and frantic. I'm starting to appreciate that as long as there is an enemy in melee range I'm a 100% mobile healer-- free forever from that terrible choice between finishing a cast and avoiding an effect. I feel like I have a response to any pattern of damage now, so the panic attacks are becoming less frequent. Protip: Detonate Chi is absolutely essential-- it a major AoE heal. Don't let your party let themselves die while your balls are right in front of them. Remember Thunder Focus Tea can be used for a double-strength Surging. Also, Revival and Grape Bubble early and often. There is no need to change stance until both of these spells are on CD.

I swapped out my Surging Mist auto-target glyph and changed a few of my mouseover binds for better access to the Crane stance spells, which has kind of messed up my muscle memory for direct healing, but I'll get used to it because clearly I'm the kind of player who will change playstyle completely if I think it will be more efficient in the long run.

Crane stance feels like a damage spec with healing utility. I keep flashing back to healing dungeons as Enhancement Shaman towards the end of Wrath-- I mean Enhancement is where that "buff that stacks to five with each stack reducing the mana cost and cast time of a healing spell by 20%" paradigm first came from. We had Chain Heal back then too... but I guess Blizzard always was pretty hot and cold with what they "allowed" melee healing to get away with.

Speaking of flashbacks, Jade Crackling Lightning mixed in with melee abilities feels like playing a Sith Assassin again, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure whether this phenomenon exists in other classes, but since the level one hundred patch I have never run out of mana while healing. Jade Lightning however drains it fast. In today's near-infinite mana environment it's still expensive, so does that mean the mana cost will be even more severe when the class reaches equilibrium again?

Now I want to tell you the most ridiculous thing about Crane Stance. Changing stance back to Serpent, starting a channel hot, and firing a big direct heal: total time 1.9 seconds.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Pre-expansion Month; or "Why Did I Pay For This?"

The new Blackrock Spire is short but sweet. I ran it a few times just for fun. (I know, right. Does anybody play video games for fun any more?) Also because it's the only challenging healing environment that exists right now because the rest of the game is fucking broken.

"But Coreus, it will all work out at level 100! This version of the game isn't designed for level 90 so it's unfair to--" Yeah let me just cut you off there. If it's not designed for level 90, why did they put it out while we are all stuck at level 90? A week or two before the expansion is understandable when the changes are this drastic, but we are spending one whole subscription period in limbo between working versions of the game.

If I'm starting to sound a bit like a broken record on this subject it's only because I can't do Proving Grounds, I can't do Arenas, I can't do Brawler's. The Black Market is gone. PvE is a joke now but I can't even put out decent numbers because my class is dependent on abilities and stats that are not in the game yet.

I know the game never has been perfect but this is the definition of breaking it.

But anyway, Blackrock Spire. I feel like I'm doing more damage (relatively speaking) than I was before, but that's not something you can really judge in a 5-man dungeon, especially when you significantly outgear it.

There were some wipes, but only because BRS was designed in 1996 when claustrophobic three-hour-long maze-like dungeons were the new hotness. So we still have to deal with low ceilings, tiny doorways, mobs strategically placed within aggro radius around corners and not a single clue which way is forward.

Now I'm worried that they're doing another Cataclysm and making the game too hard again. I mean I'd be happy with that but I understand the other eight million players aren't so easily entertained.

I keep instinctively trying to switch from melee straight into direct healing and have a minor panic attack when I realise that it's not working and everybody is still dying, then another panic attack when I realise I could have changed stance by now if I'd remembered to do that first and everybody is still dying.

Blizzard seems to have recognised that smart heals were ironically dumbing down healing, so every untargeted healing event now follows the "random injured target" paradigm, with the exception of Renewing Mists which I assume would be just terrible if it wasn't intelligent about its targets.

The annoying thing for melee healing now is the number of buffs we need to juggle. Tiger Palm, Crane's Zeal and Rising Sun Kick all need to be kept up, while managing Chi and Vital Mists, and if you have any cognitive resources left on top of that, a glance at the group's health bars every now and again can be useful.

I've been pondering doing that thing where you keep 25 completed quests in your log for some quick XP once we can level again. What I thought was funny when I googled it was all the people who went to the trouble of writing a whole big paragraph about how that would be a waste of time and there's no way they would waste their time doing anything pointless like that.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fistweaving is awesome now

My guild's new "combined" Mythic raid killed Garrosh this week. "Post nerf" if you will. "Totally carried" if you will. That might be an overstatement, but I just never feel like I'm playing properly if I'm at the bottom of the healing numbers.

I need to reiterate at this point that it's fucking bullshit to ask us to pay for one whole subscription period of "between expansions" where half the game is broken because the game is now designed for a level that does not exist. Most of the information online is now out-of-date, the rest is irrelevant to the current state of the game.

With that over with, I'm gradually hating the Mistweaver changes less. The unobvious tradeoff for slow stance changes is that the melee stance has been developed into a much more "complete" specialisation.

Melee is now actually interesting, not just the same two abilities over and over. Blackout Kick finally justifies its Chi cost by causing literally five healing events per cast, and we now have burst AoE healing. We're doing junk for damage, but honestly that was never the point.

I've been meleeing between critical healing phases because mana regen is so ridiculous and tanks are so self-sufficient that we suddenly have a lot of downtime and I would probably get totally bored with raiding if I didn't.

Detonate Chi is the main burst AoE ability for crane stance and seems to have a spectacular synergy with the improved Blackout Kick-- five separate heals means five times the chance to spawn orbs. I'm a bit confused about whether this ability does five heals from yourself and five from the statue; or whether it chooses five targets from within the combined range of yourself and of the statue. I've tried google and a few theorycrafting forums but haven't found anything.

Detonate so far seems like it's been mostly ignored by theorycrafters, since they seem to assume that (a) your balls will expire while there are people in range (b) those people will probably need healing at that moment. When we could glyph our balls to last for three minutes it was a lot easier to justify leaving them around for people to use later on in the fight. But the whole point of this ability is burst throughput, not increasing overall healing. Our first job is to keep people alive, as much as we obsess over numbers most of the time.

I get that it's not really possible to track your active healing orbs so it's hard to measure, but I strongly suspect that both Detonate Chi and Blackout Kick are probably being undervalued by the theorycrafting community at the moment, especially in the current half-broken environment. Every time I've remembered to use it has resulted in a massive amount of Gift of the Serpent healing-- you can't explain that.

Jade Crackling Lightning has changed function completely. This ability used to be ridiculously strong; dealing almost the same damage as the more complicated melee rotation but without the range or movement requirement, and it follows people around line-of-sight breaks. I know, right? But it never comboed well enough with any Chi spenders to be a cohesive playstyle; I always felt like using it as a primary damage ability was cheesing the game.

Now the duration has been reduced from eight seconds to one-point-four and all four ticks generate a Chi. Also it costs about a quarter of your mana bar-- it's the "fast heal" of crane stance, generating four Chi in the time it takes a basic melee attack to generate one, so you can keep pumping out kicks and orbs. Also I think it might do damage to its target, but I haven't confirmed this.

Revival and grape bubble (I literally can't remember the name of the big green absorb bubble ability) are both unrestricted by stance thank god. And for that matter Surging Mist actually is not a terrible substitute for proper healing if you just need to top someone off. Revival is ridiculously strong at the moment, probably just due its design-- I'm pretty sure that it is simply the one spell with the most healing throughput.

Good to know Monks still get something OP.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mistweaver crisis!

I raided Mythic last night and I'm pretty sure my class is ruined forever. They turned the most innovative healing class in the game into this weird emulation of a classical healer that is allowed to deal damage only under strict regulatory guidelines outlined in paragraphs one through three of Stance of the Spirited Crane.

Over the course of the raid I did eventually get used to the weird timing of half-second GCD followed by 1.5 second GCD, and I figured out that Surging Mist is now just Heal with the ability to "cheat" the cast time...

I guess I can't help but see all of this as a big huge nerf. Back in July last year I posted about my first experiences with this class, that I loved the high skill-cap of doing two jobs at once with one set of resources, how smoothly you can transition between damage and healing, and I loved how active the class felt, having a multitude of support abilities and a multitude of responses to any situation and being able to choose the most fun.

Now the class is literally slower, with fewer support abilities, and a deliberately un-smooth transition between pure healing and damage healing.

Skill capping a Mistweaver now means changing stances in low damage phases, then dumping your Chi and changing stances again, and again and again, and again and again.

Have you ever been forced to change stances in combat? Wasn't it the most fun you've ever had playing WoW? Yeah I get to do that now. I assume that Warriors and Warlocks are stuck with an extra GCD of fun when they change stances, right? Right? It's not just my class getting fucked in the arse?

That cross nanny metaphor perfectly represents how I felt about stances while raiding last night. Melee abilities are simply not allowed while healing. And direct healing is simply not allowed while damaging. It wouldn't be proper.

This happened before with Paladins in early wrath. Stop taking away my fucking melee healing. I enjoy it. I paid for another fucking expansion because I was having so much fun with it. Why bother creating brand new innovative gameplay only to savagely homogenise it?

Assuming anyone made it this far into my rant, there's a question I've been pondering out of curiosity. Many class abilities get tweaked early on if players weren't using it as intended, but removal implies that the whole concept was a mistake to begin with:

In all of WoW's history, what active class ability (button) was in the live game for the shortest time before being removed completely?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The best WoW change ever

"When someone applies to your Group Finder group, you can see their Proving Grounds achievements."

I can't help being optimistic sometimes. I'm just so, so, so, so fucking sick of itemlevel. Plenty of players wont even be polite to you until you've told them you have a good itemlevel. I've taken to telling people my itemlevel any time I think I'm being judged as a player just as a way of minmaxing social leverage, and I hate it every time. I feel like I'm part of the problem every time I buy into it.

Now, Proving Grounds; as well as being one of the more fun solo activities that exists in the game today, are being presented to players as an easy way of judging other players. Key word: easy. Because you will never convince players not to rank every other player against themselves; gamers are a competitive bunch. And average itemlevel was never the best way of judging a player, just the easiest. All Blizzard needs to do is make one that's even easier.

So when you start a Group Finder group, each applicant will have their Proving Ground score attached. Yes, we're still judging people, but at least this one can make some distinction between a skilled raider and a social raider.

I guess all of this is predicated on players actually using this new Group Finder feature, which is hard to predict. Blizzard has a long reputation for trying to replicate third-party functions without bothering to give people a good reason to change their established method. But honestly, Openraid requires external registration and doesn't integrate with the game, and OQ is a huge piece of intrusive bullshit designed by idiots, so I can see there being reason enough.

Now bring on the PG balance complaints! As long as resto druids don't have it easy like last time I'll be happy. Those guys can stand to be brought down a peg imo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Titan announcement cancelled

I posted when Titan was "delayed" last year that in the time since development started on that title, the MMO genre had undergone radical evolution. I didn't name it at the time but the reality is clear now; the entire MMO genre has evolved into World of Warcraft.

I'm genuinely surprised at the news, though. I assumed that today's Activision Blizzard was no longer a company that could throw out that much work. Seven years is a very, very, very long time in game development-- I can't even imagine how much money it cost.

So I applaud Blizzard for this. They made a mistake as big as any a video game company can make and they fucking owned it. It's exceedingly rare for anyone in the video games industry to demonstrate this level of maturity.

It's funny, just last week I was thinking that with WoW's subscriber numbers slowly but steadily decreasing over time (or as MMO bloggers put it, "dying"), perhaps this year's Blizzcon is when we'd finally see just what the fuck Titan was.

I wonder when we'll find out now.

On a different topic, I mentioned last week the way Blizzard seems to be specifically targeting ex-WoW-players by expiring names-- my thesis being that, today, a good name on a good realm is a valuable thing, and that for an ex-player ambivalent towards returning to WoW, preserving your character's name is in itself a compelling impetus to resubscribe. I compared the tactic to the way some social games will cause you to lose progress if you stop playing for a while.

Today Blizzard announced they will add an interface to the game client to let players recover any of their deleted WoW characters. They have also specifically confirmed that any deleted toon level 50 or above will still be recoverable, forever. (But you better do it soon or you might lose your name!)

Is it a coincidence, or has there been an increase in people requesting character restorations? Perhaps too much for Customer Support to handle it all manually?

This new feature is terrible news for compulsive players who deleted all their WoW toons for the same reason an alcoholic would empty all their liquor bottles down the sink.

Blizzard wants you back, baby! This time it will be different!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Still dumping on Blizzard

Blizzard has thought of a solution for those people with enough disposable income to pay extra for the Expensive Edition of the Warlords expansion, but who are upset that people who bought it online got their 90 boosts already, while they wont get it until they hand over the money.

Just buy it twice. Buy it once now for the boost, and again later for the mouse mat, and if you ask nicely, Blizzard will be generous enough to refund the money you paid for the digital key. Or wait... what's that? They don't offer that refund? They'll only refund the digital key and keep the money?


Well... if you're not actively recruiting WoW players by buying them full-priced copies of the expansion that's your own fault now isn't it?

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Bashiok put out a blog today to reveal a new anti-aliasing setting they're adding for Warlords which is really really good and will improve the performance of the game and allow Blizzard to do things they never dreamed of before.

The old graphics setting wasn't that great anyway, so it's definitely not a bad thing that it's going away. You don't need to wonder why a feature was completely removed from the game because it's a crap feature anyway and you shouldn't like it because they did a load of testing and everyone agreed that it's terrible. They even asked the art and engineering teams.

You should love this new graphics setting, it's really solid and performs really well. It fulfills Blizzard's goals and it's the best they can do right now.

After Warlords release they are going to explore options for better settings, and they might even take a serious look at adding them to the game.

The graphical future has never looked brighter!

I hate the word "paradigm".

It's not often I disagree with Yahtzee, that guy is a smart cookie. Which I guess is why I was so surprised to see him in his column this week spout a bunch of distracting bullshit about "ensuring the continued survival of the species" while he tells us that a male hero / female damsel relationship is actually worse for the male because he has to do all the work (which in this case is "being a hero") while the damsel is actually better off for not having to (or being able to) do anything at all.

He says his "only" objection is that it's tired and lazy (which it is), then goes on to specifically state that he doesn't find it unrepresentative of himself. Leads me to wonder what  he expects from the real females in his life.

I'm realising that this point of view is really tricky to see past. The trouble with smart people is they are smart enough to fool themselves into believing ridiculous things if they have a good (emotional) reason to.

We all need to stop assuming that we understand all of reality. It's an illusion that your brain creates-- a necessary illusion, because a consistent reality is pretty important for human sanity. When your brain runs into ideas that don't fit in your present understanding of reality, it either ignores them or finds a reason to dismiss them. That old axiom "ignorance is bliss" is reflected in the way your brain has evolved to selectively ignore anything it thinks you don't want to know.

Some examples of ideas some people can't handle: the way we unconsciously discriminate against people we see as different from us, the fact that we are screwing up the planet with our excessive consumption, resistance to the idea of women's autonomy, the prevalence and impact of bullying on both a personal level and on the geopolitical stage. The idea of homosexuality or especially transgenderism is very hard for some people to resolve because their understanding of reality can't support an idea that complex.

And I honestly feel for those people. Society is doing things many people never even considered as possible before, and instead of explaining to everyone how our understanding of reality has evolved and improved, we just mock them for not already understanding, because our pretension forces us to deny just how easy it is to be wrong about something so fundamental. And from there people start overreacting, everyone gets angry and more time and energy goes towards controlling the conflict than tackling the ideas themselves.

So that's where we are now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Character Name Reclamation

Blizzard has realised that since they sell name changes, allowing people a richer pool of names to buy from makes very good business sense.

This idea probably came from what I assume have been extensive brainstorming sessions with the goal of finding any (cheap) changes they can make to the live game to distract players from the fact that it hasn't been updated in a year.

Or even more cynically, maybe they thought of it last year and have been keeping it in their pocket for just such a need. Hmm... would they delay the money train just so they have something to do during a slow subscription period? More active players means more purchases, right?

It strikes me as a very Farmvillian tactic; the wealth of ex-WoW players are now being dealt the news that an aspect of their character will degrade if they don't return in time-- the obvious goal being to galvanise ex-players into returning if they were on the fence.

Is this the first time that this has happened? Leaving characters the way the player left them has been a long-standing tradition for this game, and it's easy to understand why (sunk cost bias). Even deleting a toon has never been permanant.

Cynicism aside, I wonder whether this might geniunely be the best time to release unused names, in the same way that this is the best time to recruit reliable raiders: Less committed players tend to have stopped playing by now.

I'm more inclined to believe the cynical explanation though.

I've been raiding with a new 10-man group. We spent last night wiping our way through two boss kills, which isn't incredible, but being in a slower group did put me at the top of the healing numbers, which I think probably does more for my reputation in the guild overall than trying to put out good numbers against their best healers while learning a progression fight. Never underestimate the power of looking good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I know this happened last week but I just read about it and I am FREAKING OUT but not really though because that's ridiculous.

Blizzard, Blizzard, Blizzard... Isn't one of your mantras to "make it a bonus"? Didn't anybody think to phrase this as a buff to everyone that isn't a tank?

Saying over and over "it's not a bad thing, it's not a nerf" leads me to wonder why they are so certain they will have to rebut that viewpoint in the first place. I feel like these guys have lost faith in their playerbase to be rational. It reflects poorly on the company to seem so insecure and afraid of doing anything that might upset people. Couldn't this attitude even reinforce some players' demanding expectations?

Is there anything we can do about players who react negatively to anything they see as detrimental to their playstyle? How do you help someone see that they aren't the only person that matters?

Or can we at least stop giving dumb questions a platform? Is it that difficult to determine which questions are based in a totally unrealistic understanding of reality?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wat is satire i cant understand

Today I learned a new way to win an argument. If someone disagrees with you, you just pretend whatever thing they disagree with isn't real, which makes it a STRAWMAN ARGUMENT. Which means your opponent is wrong, which means you win!

If anyone tries to tell you that you have misunderstood, just disagree with everything they say. You already know you didn't misunderstand anything, which makes it a STRAWMAN ARGUMENT so your opponent is wrong, so you win!

Always remember, if you can find a two-word excuse for why someone is wrong, you don't need to engage with what they are saying because you already proved them wrong.

It's also important to note that in the case that you know your opponent is wrong, then it's okay to use a strawman to demonstrate it. If anyone calls you on it, they're only quibbling over nonsense so who cares.

Now let me tell you about the king of argument winners: sleeping with your opponent's wife. That way in case you run out of ways to attack your opponent, you can still fall back on "Yeah? Well I slept with your wife!" And you win.

In case they use the same tactic in response, make sure you've slept with your opponent's daughter as well.

You might think this all sounds a bit absurd, but just remember that if someone disagrees with you, that means they are wrong, so it's okay to be a little bit unfair to "balance" it.

Though if someone you disagree with says something unfair, that's a strawman and you win by saying so.

Engaging with the topic should only be done as a last resort. Have you tried calling your opponent childish names? Do that first.

Remember, the point of arguing is to win by reinforcing what you already knew to be true. Trying to understand other points of view is only appropriate if you already agree with them.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Initial thoughts on 6.0 Prot Warrior

It's the same as it was before.

But we lost Disarm, we lost Disrupting Shout, and I think all our (non-talent) damage cooldowns are gone but honestly I didn't notice. Shouts are now just mutually-exclusive 1-hour buffs fucking finally oh my god. Bladestorm and Shockwave are now on separate talent tiers so you can have both.

Dodge is gone. Parry is now called "Critical Strike" and now also increases your chance to crit with damage abilities. Mastery now also increases your total damage done (~40% of crit block chance iirc). Haste for prot warriors has been buffed from doing absolutely nothing to now reducing the cooldown on Shield Slam and Thunder Clap, increasing damage and rage generation.

I played a bit with the new Ravager talent-- 1min CD to place a spinning weapon as a ground effect and get 10% parry chance for ten seconds-- which strikes me as a really useful tool for making pulls, and a really weak defensive CD for every other situation.

Still, Warriors have been for years the only tank unable to place a ground effect (unless you count Heroic Leap) so it's good to finally get one.

I think that's everything. Something tells me that once all this stuff is finalised and balanced Haste will end up being the preferred stat for Warrior tanks. Just a feeling.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

25-player raiding is objectively terrible and if you disagree with me you are wrong.

All the mount achievements in WoW are now decided by unofficial Twitter poll.

I am now 100% sure that my opinion is being neglected by the WoW dev team because I'm not making stupid demands on twitter and threatening to quit if they are not met.

Am I the only person who doesn't assume that shoving in more and more players into a group somehow makes the game more fun?

It has been decided that my guild is now and retroactively always was a 25-man guild. This apparently pleased everybody except for me. I was looking forward to working on Heroic Thok; but our 25-player team could only kill a single heroic boss, and as much fun as wiping on Protectors for two hours was, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd done it all before like six months ago.

It was explained to me that 25 mode is better because it's easier and has more loot and it's better loot and that should be enough for me.

So it's an easier goal, and my contribution has been reduced from 1/10 of the raid team to 1/25 of the raid team, and by some retarded fucking reasoning the game treats this as being worth more loot for me?

And it really is so much easier. 25-player raiding on a Monk is three spells: Renewing Mist, Surging Mist, Uplift. There is no point in using any other spells. Renewing chooses smart targets, Surging chooses smart targets, Uplift is a Chi dump that also happens to heal some of the people in the raid.

25-player reduces every healer to spamming their most efficient spell rotation and nothing else. Mana barely matters. Technique barely matters. Death barely matters because the rest of the raid was going to carry you regardless. You will always succeed as long as the number of stupid people you bring is fewer than the number of battle reses.

I maintain that unless you are in a world-class guild, 25-player is just an excuse to carry people who die too much to succeed in a 10-player raid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Challenge Get!

Yesterday three of us completed our final Challenge Mode gold. Yay. Next: Warrior tank.

I feel empty. I don't know what I was expecting to feel... happy, I guess. Was I expecting something to change? It's an achievement, but it's also an ending. I was really enjoying healing CMs. I want to keep playing my Monk but all she has left to do now is rated PvP and Heroic raiding. And fishing, I suppose.

I tried replaying Endless Healer but got demoralised when my ranged dps died to the fucking ground fire halfway through the second round-- about two seconds after I had used a CD to top her off. Someone please inform Kavan the Arcanist that I'm replacing her until she can get her shit together. Also I suppose I can improve my lockdown sequence on the quad caster wave to reduce the amount of fire on the ground for my idiot party to avoid.

I tanked a dungeon to get a feel for the Warrior again, but tanking is so boring when you overgear the content. And I'm going to say it: Heroic Strike is the worst rage dump ever. At least Arms makes Heroic Strike crit a bunch. For Protection it does approximately twelve damage and makes you feel like an idiot for wasting 30 rage.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Three months

Warlords will go live in three months.

This information is so important that its communication demands a medium of its very own. I know I've been planning my "finding out the Warlords release date" blog since before Mists came out.

So three months is about 90 days, or three subscription periods, or another $45 for the same game you've been playing for the last year.

The months in question are September, October, half of August and just under half of November. September, October and November are named such because they began as the seventh, eighth, and ninth months respectively. According to Wikipedia; August was at one point called Sextili-- I have no idea why they changed it. In the Southern Hemisphere, August is the seasonal equivalent of February in the Northern Hemisphere.

Thirty days hath September and November, but October is going to be a slightly longer month than usual due to its thirty-first day. It's still unclear whether this extra day was intended by the devs.

I haven't watched the cinematic advertisement yet. I assume it will be pretty but pointless.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


How many days is it now until we learn how many months we will have to wait?

I guess I find stuff like this a bit demeaning-- being told to be excited about something, or being spoken to under the assumption that of course I'm excited about the new product that this company wants to sell me at some point in the future. Or possibly has already sold to me and is trying to keep me from thinking about them having my money and me having nothing to show for it yet.

Well, not nothing. My Blizzard Launcher gained the option to play "Warlords of Draenor" months ago-- but I still get Mists of Pandaria every single time I load it. Maybe I need to submit a bug report.

Some stuff I did find interesting has emerged over the last few days:

Blizzard is trying yet again to build a comprehensive group-finding tool into the game. Maybe people will use it this time. No seriously, people might actually use it. They really might!

A new 250-mounts achievement was announced, then a few complainey people all simultaneously quit WoW because the mount reward was not better than all of the previous 250, so we don't get that mount any more, but now we do get a green recolour of the Firebird from Firelands, which I think is pretty cool.

I've only got eight mounts left to go which should be a piece of cake. Actually only five mounts if you include the three free Phoenixes in 6.0. Or three mounts if I'm desperate enough to log onto a toon with class mounts to get the achievement. So yeah, piece of cake.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Announcement announced.

My launcher has been screaming at me that the 12th of August is when Blizzard intends to announce when they will announce the date of the next WoW expansion.

This is pretty good news for people who hope to play the expansion before the end of the year. Maybe it will arrive before Blizzcon. Or just after.

I keep hearing about Warrior's new Gladiator stance and the amazing things you can and can't do while using it and... I can't be the only one who hears "stance" as "gameplay restrictions."

Every now and again stances get a superficial make it a bonus pass where they rephrase the tooltip to  describe the stance change in a glass-half-full way, but stances alway end up becoming the cross nanny rapping your hand for daring to try to use the wrong combat ability at the dinner table and telling you to go stand in the corner for a GCD and cool off before you try again.

I finished my little Mistweaver spreadsheet. It doesn't do much, but I really wanted to "prove" this thing for myself. Also, I really wanted to make some graphs. I like graphs.

I should also note that I'm using Healiocentric's maths, but I added some extra stuff to take into account the small amount of crit granted by Intellect. I answered the question anyway; crit gems became more valuable above ~42k spell power. I hope I didn't make any mistakes.

I'm still tooling around with my hordies on Moon Guard. I rolled an Goblin Shaman years ago because I fucking love their mechanical totems and I had in my head the concept of a street-smart mechanical genius who is as clever at manipulating the elements as he is his business partners. He has scuzzy hair pulled into a greasy ponytail and jets around reclined in his personal rocket.

But anyway I sent him some heirlooms and ran around smacking things with my fire-tipped weapons for a bit. The randomness of enhancement fits a goblin character really well; he just throws everything at the enemy: fire, metal, electricity, explosives. I'm think I'm also starting to like my clattering fire totem more than any other pet.* It stays where I place it and just shoots, like an imp minus the constant whingeing.

Of all the classes I'm playing on Horde, Shaman is the one I don't also play Alliance-side any more. Might be a good candidate for a level 90 boost. Enhancement is really fun.

*Except Xuen, he's my cuddly kitty.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Icy Veins has updated their stat priority for Mistweavers to put crit at the top, so I guess that makes it official. Again, not a single word of explanation for this change, and as far as I can tell only that single line was changed. I'm pretty sure that only top research theorycrafters understand the science behind this new fact. Nobody is quite sure when it turned into fact but apparently a consensus has been reached now.

All I want is a chart mapping the boundaries and balance point between crit and intellect. I think I'm halfways there with this neato spreadsheet I made in google.

Years ago when I had first heard about Challenge Modes I set myself a goal of clearing all the golds on each of my “focus” toons for the expansion. At the time those were Warrior tank, Warlock, and Shaman healer. But I got bored with the Shaman long ago, the Warlock failed to capture my attention past mucking about with green fire during Throne, and even my very favourite class Prot Warrior fell by the wayside as I got swept up in the fun of Monk healing.

Now that I’m closing in on my first CM clear with the Monk, I can start imagining doing it with a second class, and Warrior is the obvious choice. I’m hoping that once myself and our tank finish all the Golds, we switch toons and go again from the start. In any case I reckon there is enough interest in the guild to keep this going until 6.0.

And depending on how slow Blizzard is to make Warlords happen, a third toon doesn't seem completely out of the question yet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surprise Priest!

This weekend on a whim I levelled my Gnome Priest from eighty-eight to ninety and have been derping around the Timeless Isle and feeling ridiculously underpowered in any and all group content. It turns out a hundred item levels is a pretty massive power deficit.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how fun Shadow is. It's really not too DoT heavy, and has plenty of instants for movement. I've always complained about multi-dotting, but it's so powerful that I've started liking it. Priests are squishy as hell! I've been making heavy use of speed bubble and renew just to stay alive against larger elites.

Discipline healing has a fantastic niche in Power Word: Shield. I think of it as a universal stop-someone-from-dying button, and Penance backs it up nicely as an instant heal. And... that's about it. Everything else is a two second cast, during which you just sit and wait for your cast bar to move. Coming from a Monk who can start casting an efficient heal and then transform it into a huge heal mid cast, watching my Various Heal casts slowly drip out seems underpowered and really unresponsive. In a truly dangerous healing environment the situation can and will change in the two seconds it takes to cast a spell.

Any raid healer knows the way to make your number bigger is to focus on AoE healing. Unfortunately Discipline's AoE is really terrible.

I've talked about Prayer of Mending before: I called it a "dumb" heal. As opposed to a smart heal which heals the person who needs it most, the dumb heal will choose someone who doesn't need it and do nothing until it expires. But it's still mana-efficient most of the time so I use it on CD.

Prayer of Healing is the "direct" AoE heal. It's quite powerful, but has the utterly bizarre restriction of only hitting people in the same party group as the target. If this spell was designed today there is no question it would use smart healing to choose targets. Instead, I have to rejigger my interface so I can see who is in which party. How has this vanilla WoW bullshit survived so many expansions?

I might try Holy eventually, but I'm enjoying Disc for the moment despite all the whinging. Somewhat ironically (if you know me) I've been mostly ignoring the other of Discipline's strengths, Atonement healing through damage. I think I'll get to it eventually... I'm finding the main healing spells challenging enough to master for the moment. I'll keep working on my gear and hopefully soon do some 25-man Priest healing with my guild's alt raid.

On the Monk front, I'm finally done with the Island, which has left me without much to do. I suppose this explains the Priest.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


It's come to my attention that at some point every Mistweaver started telling every other Mistweaver to gem for crit. So far not a single one of those people has been able to justify this opinion past "you should be doing this" or "yeah crit is really good". Some people like to have evidence before advocating radical change.

So I've done multiple google searches, I've been to EJ, Icyveins, Noxxic, official forums, multiple healing blogs; most still provide specific advice to gem for intellect, and the ones that do seem to prioritise crit don't explain why.

Is this cutting-edge theorycrafting that the establishment has yet to bring on board? Are people simming to get this conclusion? Is it just a tradeoff for mana regen? Is it that stupid Robot site spitting out poorly calculated stat weights again? Has it come out of poorly worded gemming advice where it's assumed that the reader already understands that Intellect is their best stat. Is it something that some famous raider did and inadvertently popularised?

Using facebook regularly has shown me how easily terrible ideas can gain legitimacy. Perhaps crit gemming like is the anti-vaccine movement of Mistweavers. Hah.

I should clarify that I'm not arguing against crit gemming. It's just that the people who have spouted this point of view at me are obviously not doing their own research, just repeating what they've been told, and I don't trust those people.

Someone show me I'm wrong about all this so I can shut up. That's called science.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In which Coreus tells Blizzard they are doing it wrong

Several years ago I made the complaint that Blizzard sucks at planning, giving the evidence of a raid release schedule which could have been much better timed to how long players would likely take to get utterly bored with each raid. Basically, they gave us far too little time in Ulduar and far too long in Icecrown Citadel. (There was another raid in there too but I'm pretty sure that was mostly a jousting minigame and some PvP.)

It doesn't seem like they have learned from it because the exact same thing happened last expansion. And again this expansion: A spectacular second raid tier was cut short so a fairly middling final raid tier could sit around for a year gathering flies.

"One expansion every 12-14 months" is the very long-stated intention and... I'm sure they're still working on that one.

I'm not really sure where the imperative has come from, but WoW's dev team is cutting class abilities left and right. Their market research probably indicates that games with fewer buttons sell more mounts or something.

I've always given Blizzard the benefit of the doubt when they improve their game at each expansion. It's mostly all worked out so far. The Warlock thing was probably a bit severe so I'm glad they're backpedaling on that a bit.

I just feel like I'm seeing change for change's sake. Nearly every existing ability has its niche. The ones that didn't find theirs immediately were modified to fit better or removed. "WoW has too many buttons!" is one of those things that sounds obvious in a meeting, but when you get down to it even small changes like removing a passive mean adjusting everything else to compensate. I guess I'm trying to say it would be nice if they could concentrate a bit more on making the expansion exist before they worry about it having too many buttons.


I totally understand toning down crowd control abilities, though. Let me tell you a story. Back during the Burning Crusade, tanks were rubbish at holding threat against more than a stiff breeze and AoE was a niche thing that Mages did, so CC was essential for completing high-level dungeons. However, only certain classes had CC, so the classes without any complained on the forums that they were being left out. Meanwhile Paladins had started picking up Warrior gear and groups suddenly realised that AoE tanking was easier and faster and would never ever go back to CC and fuck any non-Paladin tanks.

Blizzard gave everybody what they wanted: Wrath loaded nearly every class with effective CCs, and it also gave every tank spammable AoE, making all CC redundant. And nobody used CC ever again. The End.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Levers and rewards

I got my two hundred and thirty-seventh mount this morning: a Swift Zulian Panther. One more boss crossed off the list, though the Raptor will keep me coming back to ZG for most likely a while yet.

Getting a new mount has a noticeable effect on me; a greater feeling of attachment to the game, and a compulsion towards immersing myself in WoW. The reward system in action.

I really need to go check a few mount bosses for soloability. The problem is they're mostly the final bosses of raids; Al'akir, Lich King, Yogg-Saron, and Deathwing each require me to clear an entire raid just to attempt. Alysrazor sounds doable, though, and I'm pretty sure only needs one trash pack cleared. Perhaps I'll try her tonight.

I noticed today that I've ended up with all four Legendary cloaks on my Monk. As well as separate helms for each of the meta-gems. Maximum Legendary. You might ask what use a class without a caster spec has for caster procs... The answer is Jade Crackling Lightning. Using this spell alone does almost as much damage as a full melee rotation, and benefits spectacularly from the 30% spell haste proc on the meta-gem. Along with a caster multistrike trinket I picked up on an offset roll, this gear set has been a huge asset for all the ganking-- I mean, world PvP I've been doing to grind Bloody Coins.

So Alysrazor should be a piece of cake, right?

Friday, July 4, 2014

What I've been doing in WoW

I rolled a Blood Elf Monk a few days ago, and levelled him to 45 so far. I think I'm thoroughly in love with this class. I feel powerful, and the attacks all feel good to pull off. Windwalker has a great rhythm to it: Jab is your downbeat and Combo Breaker procs determine your time signature; Jab, Palm, Jab, Kick, Kick, Jab, Kick, Jab, mega aoe stun bullshittttt....

I'm running a damage and a healing spec, doing a bit of questing and a bit of dungeoning. I healed a Dire Maul run while topping the damage meters, which I think offended the DPS of the group-- they instantly accused me of poor healing after the squishiest tank ever died from one of his constant damage spikes. So much rage. But apart from that I've been enjoying the fuck out of the class. I don't have any particular plan for this toon, I've just been enjoying playing it.

In conclusion, Monk is the best class.

The level 90 boost icon sits on my character screen taunting me. But I'm just tired enough of the current tier of raiding that I don't see any point in doing it over again. It makes sense to save it for whatever class/faction I end up wanting to play through Draenor with but don't already have at 90.

I don't have any Horde toons at endgame, but I've been playing around with a few fresh-rolled class/race combinations on Moon Guard (great friendly place to level) to see what's resonant; a male Goblin Warrior, female Undead Death Knight, and the male Blood Elf Monk have kept my attention for several hours of playtime each so far. The male Blood Elf works really well for a Monk I think, though I can't say I've mastered Arcane Torrent yet.

It's interesting to note that all three are melee classes. It's not that I haven't rolled any ranged classes-- I recently tried a Mage and a Hunter, but neither stuck. They just seem to get boring faster I guess. It's weird that I always disliked raiding or PvPing as melee, but melee classes somehow tend to be more fun to solo than ranged.

I wonder why that is...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

High-res nipples

Bashiok has explained that the first wave of Beta invites is being targeted to "WoW veterans". I wonder what their definition is; and whether we might extrapolate any interesting pattern by looking at the data of which players got an invitation. For the record, I've been playing since 2006 and I got an invitation.

Or, perhaps the aim of this targeting is to give long-time players something to do. Or it could be any of the twelve other reasons why choosing experienced players is useful for a beta test. Speculation is fun!

We've been seeing some very active chatter on the subject of new character models. The way they're talking about it gives me a strong impression the expansion has entered crunch. They need to get as much as possible done before the end of the year when they promised to deliver the product they have already sold people-- the dialogue has shifted to become mainly about managing expectations and prioritising the most important things.

It's really interesting to watch the character model situation evolve, and to gain an appreciation for how tricky a challenge it really is. It reminds me of the way game sequels always tend to update the player character models-- they never look quite right next to the old ones. I always assumed it was because they were deliberately updating the style with each iteration, but now I understand it's simply hard to maintain a sense of common style between two different levels of detail.

But the most important update is complete: male human high res nipples/chest hair.

It's also interesting to note the emphasis on PvP testing this time, which has always struck me as an important thing to test because it's the area where class balance issues reveal themselves most prominently. One of the PvP beta realms has been set up for this specific purpose, with players who roll on this realm given an instant boost to level one hundred, but with all of Draenor's PvE zones disabled. Previous WoW betas I've been in always struck me as poor tests for PvP because without meaning to they were giving players the choice between brand-new pre-release PvE content or the same BGs they can play on live and receive real rewards for.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is Wildstar going free to play?

I understand that if you make your headline into a question you don't have to actually say anything to back it up.

I keep hearing about this new MMO (WoW-clone) called Wildstar. Apparently it's pretty good. I would have been happy to give it a try, but the publisher is asking sixty fucking dollars just for the privilege of becoming a paying subscriber, and I'm unwilling to pay that much money into a long-form video game I don't even know if I'll play for very long.

Someone needs to tell this publisher what year it is, and point out that everyone knows that the box price (so appropriate a term) attached to an MMO released today is just an early adopter fee. They wont stop charging for it until enough people demonstrate that they wont pay for it.

Weird that buying full-price game software has become almost like some meta-MMO. Players keep paying for boxes with the hope that there's something wonderful inside, even when most of the time there isn't. Skinner would be proud.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More Mistweaving

I've been a bit concerned at all the attention the Mistweaver Monk spec has had in WoW's ongoing development. Mainly because I'm acutely aware of all the scandalous ways it overpowers other healing specs (at least until you need damage reduction), and although I can appreciate that nerfs are necessary, I'm really worried that some important things might be lost in the process of redesign. I truly love playing the Mistweaver class. It's my favourite way of playing my favourite game, and I don't want to lose that.

First, the ability to place Healing Spheres manually is being removed. I've written a few times about how overpowered this ability is, even considering its difficulty to use. All the other healing specs will be losing a major spell, so it probably seemed appropriate to kill this one for Mistweavers. (We got to keep all our proper healing spells.) My balls were never really as fun to use as to talk about casually during raids, reminding people to watch their health bars and when they go down make sure to grab my balls. -cough- Anyway, I'm not too sorry to see it go.

Mistweavers will no longer have a melee slow, and although this is another ability that I'm willing to concede was overpowered, as someone who plays 200ms behind the server, I always found it to be a huge asset in PvP.

The Mistweaver global cooldown is being raised from 1.0 to 1.5 seconds. This pisses me off. They are slowing down my gameplay and I think that sucks. Mistweaver is a distinctly active feeling spec and that feeling comes from having a lot of fun buttons to push, and lots of opportunities to push them. Longer GCDs means fewer button pushes means less gameplay.

Lastly, we are getting a brand new stance! Crane stance grants you attack power equal to your spell power, and causes healing from damage dealt! Incidentally, those are the same things that your healing stance no longer grants.

Or to say it in clearer terms; our healing stance is being nerfed to no longer provide melee attack power or any healing through damage. And of course the Crane stance restricts which healing spells you're allowed to cast. No more weaving Renewing Mist hots across the raid while melee healing. No more free auto-attack healing between instant casts.

Instead, stance dancing. They are giving my favourite class one of the most objectively clunky mechanics WoW has ever seen. Even though there are more classes that use stances than don't, each one seems to have gone out of its way to make sure stance changing is not part of gameplay. And there is a good reason for this: every single time stance changing has been incorporated into gameplay, it has sucked.

Currently the only class that still needs to change stances mid-combat to be effective is Demonology Warlock, ironically a recent change and part of the great Warlock revamp of Mists. I enjoyed Mists Demonology for a good long while. I levelled and then raided with it. Running around with a posse of imps is an awesome realisation of the class fantasy. But the stance switching always felt clunky; I never got used to it. And this is coming from someone who not only "got used to" but actually enjoyed placing Rain of Fire rotationally.

I can only hope that stances themselves are being changed in some way to make them easier to deal with. At least one other class (Warrior) is getting a new "optional" stance, which makes me hopeful that at least some development attention is being paid to improving the mechanic itself.

I just really hope they don't screw up my favourite class while trying to fix it. It's already brilliant.