Monday, July 26, 2010

T-Minus... 5 hours. SC2 Beginner's Guide (part 3)

It's almost time now, to not only find out how the next chapter in the StarCraft story is going to unfold... but it's almost time to once again be able to play StarCraft on

I've waited 12 years for this, and I'm excited. I've had my copy sitting on my desk at work... just staring at me, and taunting me for the last week about how I'm not yet able to buy it... Tomorrow morning, (or tonight if you're going to a midnight release) we'll finally be able to play.

In the final portion of my SC2 multi-player beginner's guide, I'll touch on a few tips on playing SC2's other two races... the Zerg, and the Protoss.


Back in the days of the original StarCraft, the Zerg was my favorite race to play. Due to this, during the SC2 Beta, I played quite a bit more of the Zerg than I did of the Terrans or Protoss. The Blizzard team have really done some awesome things to the Zerg in SC2. You truly get the feeling that you're controlling a "swarm" while playing the Zerg, which (in my opinion) is a lot of fun.

Zerg Tip #1: Overseers vs Overlords

I'm putting this as my "#1" tip for the Zerg because I didn't know this when I started playing the Beta.... and I got my ass kicked the first game because of it.

Unlike in the original StarCraft... Overlords do NOT detect cloaked or burrowed units.

I believe my reaction to this when I first realized it was something along the lines of "wtf?!".

Once you've built a Spawning Pool, and upgraded your Hatchery to a Lair, you can upgrade Overlords to the new unit called an Overseer.

Overseers can detect... Overlords cannot.

Overseers cannot transport units though, and Overlords can, so don't just upgrade every Overlord you have to an Overseer.

This is one fundamental change that Blizz made to the Zerg... and it really threw me off guard the first time I played compared to the Original StarCraft. The Overseer is a pretty cool unit though, so it's not too hard to get used to the change once you find other uses for the Overseer and realize they are more useful than an Overlord in other ways as well.

Zerg Tip #2: Nydus Networks

Nydus Canals were a staple of the Zerg in terms of ground troop mobility in the original StarCraft.... but if the map was large and you had many places you wanted to move troops to quickly, it could get insanely confusing trying to keep track of all the entrance and exits for each canal.

In SC2, they simplify the Nydus concept while maintaining the awesome mobility they provided in the original game. Enter the Nydus Network and the Nydus Worm. To use it, you build the original Nydus Network structure somewhere on Creep. You can then spawn Nydus Worm "exits" for the anywhere on the map that you can see. Each worm exit costs (currently) 100/100, and generate creep (which allows you to build defenses around it if you want).

You don't have to spawn the Nydus Worm exits on Creep!... but, the exits have very low hp and no armor, so they die quickly if attacked.

To move your units via the Nydus Network, you simply select your units you wish to have go through the network and right click on any Nydus Network or Nydus Worm and they will load into it like a transport. Then click the worm or "exit you wish to have them exit through and click the "unload" button. Any Nydus Network/Worm can be entered or exited from any other Nydus network/worm.

These networks allow a Zerg player to very quickly and easily move large numbers of ground units from one point on the map to another.

My tip is that the Nydus Network is an excellent way to support and defend multiple expansions with ground forces, without being required to keep your units stationed at those expansions.

Zerg Tip #3: Queens

Probably the biggest change in SC2 to a unit that kept the same name from the original StarCraft is the Queen.

In the original SC, the Queen was an offensive support/caster unit. In SC2, the Queen is a defensive powerhouse that stays near your base. In the original SC, the Queen was a fast moving air unit... in SC2, she's a relatively slow moving ground unit.

Why would Blizzard keep the same name for the Queen when she's a completely different unit?... probably because Queen is a much more fitting name for a unit like this when you consider that a Zerg base is essentially structured like an insect hive. Think Queen Bee instead of Queen of Blades. The Queen's movement is severely slowed if she is not on Creep, making her an excelent unit to defend your base, but a poor choice to take on the offensive.

The Queen in SC2 will allow your Hatchery/Lair/Hive to produce more larvae which allows you to build more units. The Queen will not do this automatically though. My tip here is remember to tell your queens to spawn more larvae as often as you can. Also, Queens make pretty decent T1.5 anti-air defensive units.


My SC2 knowledge on the Protoss is semi-limited considering I played very few matches during the SC2 Beta as the Protoss.... I did however spend the majority of my matches playing against the Protoss, and learned that the Protoss is a very cool (and powerful) race.

Protoss Tip #1: Warp Gates vs Gateways

Probably the biggest change to the way Protoss play their ground game in SC2 is the introduction of Warp Gates instead of Gateways to spawn in units.

You still have to build Gateways (the Protoss version of a Barracks) but once they're built, you can research Warp Gate technology.

Once you have the Warp Gate tech, you can convert any number of your Gateways into Warp Gates. You can convert them back into Gateways later if need be.

Warp Gates allow you to instantly "warp" in any unit that you would normally be able to make at a Gateway to anywhere powered by a friendly Pylon... (and yes, Warp Prisms count as Pylons). The units you warp in still cost the same amount of resources to warp in as they would if you would make them at a Gateway.

For example, say you have a bunch of Warp Gates ready to warp in units at your main base, but one of your expansions is being attacked. You can then select those Warp Gates, and "warp-in" units from those Gateways to that expansion (assuming you have a Pylon up at the expansion).

There is a cooldown on warping units in, and you cannot queue up units to warp in like you can at a Gateway, but it does give the Protoss versatility on where and when they spawn units.

My tip is, early on in the game while you're still building your initial army, it may not always be the best call to convert to Warp Gates right off the bat. Use the Gateways until you feel comfortable that you have a sizable force because you can queue up units to be built and don't have to always be watching your Warp Gate cooldown. Once you feel comfortable you can convert them to Warp Gates, but there is not always a need to do so right away.

Protoss Tip #2: Void Rays.

By far, the most widely used Protoss unit I came across while playing against Protoss players was the Void Ray.

They're popular for a reason: They're powerful....

...but only if you use them correctly.

The beam weapon the Void Rays use becomes more powerful and "charges up" the longer you use it continually. If you stop attacking with it for too long (I believe it's three seconds, but that may have changed in a patch) you lose your charge and you have to start all over again.

My tip is, if you're going to go Void Rays, make sure you try to keep attacking targets and keep that charge up. Don't let an enemy player lure you away from your target and lose your charge, or you'll lose a good chunk of your offensive power.

Protoss Tip #3: Multiple Pylons

Many newer StarCraft players who are just starting out with Protoss make the simple mistake of building too few Pylons.

Protoss buildings need to be powered by Pylons, or they shut down and cannot function. You see many new players building 2093820 buildings... all powered by one Pylon. An enemy comes in, and focuses on that single Pylon and they have effectively shut down your entire base because all your buildings are sitting dormant without power.

My tip is to try to make sure that as often as you can, make sure your buildings are powered by multiple Pylons, and that your Pylons are protected. This part of playing Protoss did not change with SC2, but it's still a mistake I saw pretty often while playing Beta.

Friday, July 23, 2010

T-Minus... 4 days. SC2 beginner's guide (part 2)

A couple days ago I posted a few general tips to get folks started in SC2 multi-player. Today I will go over a few tips that are specific to playing the Terrans.

Wings of Liberty's single player experience focuses primarily on the Terrans. There will likely be some sort of tutorial to explain the ins and outs of the Terrans, which makes them an excellent race to start out with if you're new to StarCraft multi-player.

Terran Tip #1: SCV's and Repair

The Terran's worker units, the SCVs, can repair buildings and mechanical units... like they could in the original StarCraft. New to SC2 however, this repair now has an "auto-cast" feature, much like the Priest's "heal" spell from WarCraft III. Simply right-click on the "Repair" icon and it will enable the SCV to repair anything within range... assuming you have the resources to do so.

This takes some of the micro-management out of Terran base defense, and recovery. Now, when you bring a half-dead group of Vikings back to base after an attack, you no longer have tell an SCV to repair each Viking in your army. They'll keep themselves busy doing it for you, so you can focus on other things.

Terran Tip #2: Using buildings as a defensive "wall"

Many of the Terrans' primary means of base defense rely on killing enemies at range... before they can get too close.

One very effective way of forcing ground forces to stay at range for the Terrans has always been by blocking off ramps, or choke-points with buildings. In SC2, this is still an extremely useful strategy. The Terran Supply Depots even support this strategy by having the new feature of being able to submerge underground and allowing units to walk over them (as to not trap your own units). When an enemy attack is incoming, you can tell the Depots to pop back up and block the way.

If you're going to utilize this strategy, there is one thing to remember about the grid-map system that all SC2 maps use: Many ramps will not be fully blocked by Supply Depots alone... but they can be used to limit the number of melee units that can attack your defense at a time. Considering both Zerg and Protoss have melee Tier 1 units, it makes this a very effective early ground rush defense.

Terran Tip #3: Detectors

The Terran mobile detection unit (detect means the ability to see cloaked or burrowed units) is the Raven. Ravens have many other abilities other than detection, but they are slow moving, easy to kill... and expensive.

Now, I'm not saying the Raven is a bad unit... they're my favorite new Terran Unit... I'm saying that they make lousy detectors. Unfortunately, Detection is essential for the battlefield, especially later on the in the game. Fortunately, Terrans have other means of Detecting aside from the Raven.

Terran Command Centers can be upgraded to the Orbital Command Station which allows you to scan an area of the map. This is an excellent way to scout, but it also detects any units within the area scanned for a short duration. My tip is to have the Orbital Command hotkeyed, so you can use the scan quickly during an attack/defense.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

T-Minus... 6 Days... SC2 multi-player beginner's guide (part 1)

As I posted previously, I have retired from WoW until Cataclysm. I will be focusing primarily on SC2 until then, but I'll still keep an avid eye on the priestly side of things in terms of WoW. I'll post about WoW, when there's something interesting that I have an opinion on.

Now... StarCraft, is not WoW, nor do I think that SC2 will ever be nearly as wildly popular as WoW is/was. One thing that makes WoW such a great game is that it can appeal to nearly everyone whether they are hardcore gamers or casual and WoW's the only game they've ever played. WoW truly followed Blizzard's "Easy to learn, difficult to master" motto.

By nature, an RTS game like StarCraft is going to be more competitive overall than a game like WoW simply because the point of the game is to win. There is no casual questing, RPing, making conga-lines in Dalaran, or any of that type of thing. Even in the more casual brackets, or co-op AI games... SC2 pits you against someone (or something in terms of the AI) else, and your goal is to defeat them.

If you are new to the RTS scene and are thinking of checking out StarCraft II when it's released next week, or if you are like me and love it but haven't touched a StarCraft game in 10 years, here are a few tips you probably want to remember when starting out in the SC2 multi-player arena. A few of these are race specific, but most of them are general rules-of-thumb.

General StarCraft Tip #1: Know your enemy...

...and I don't mean simply looking to see what race the other players are on the load screen. I'm talking about scouting during the match. Scouting has always been important in StarCraft (and RTS games in general) but in SC2 it's practically essential.

Scouting, aside from knowing where your rivals are located, will allow you to know what units the other players are building, so you can build your army to counter it. Scouting can also give you a heads-up about impending attacks because you will know when the other players are moving their units.

General StarCraft Tip #2: Supply and Demand.

Well... more like Supply before Demand. Keep building Supply Depots/Overlords/Pylons, and don't forget about them. Nothing can stint your army's strength before an impending attack or before attacking like having to build a supply depot before you can build more units.

Build up your supply before you're in major demand for units. Also, don't stop building simply because you have a bunch of units to attack with. This isn't WarCraft III... StarCraft is meant for huge armies.

General StarCraft Tip #3: Spend your resources.

StarCraft II is not R/L... There is no need to save your money for a rainy day. Spend those resources and continue pumping out units to build your army, expanding, or tech-ing up to try and gain the upper hand instead of just sitting on resources.

For many players new to RTS games or StarCraft, this most commonly happens while they are attacking a rival's base/expansion. The player will be tunnel-visioned on the attack and will stop production while they're focused on the attack. It's sometimes a tough rhythm to get into, but try to remember to shift your focus back to your base during an attack to queue up units to be built. This will not only strengthen your defense, but it will also allow you to go on the offensive again faster to replace units lost in your attack.

General StarCraft Tip #4: Expand early, Expand often.

Those who control the most resources, control the map... most of the time.

If you're playing at your proper skill level (which the new matchmaking system is very good at) this should generally be the case. There will be games where you control more resources than the other player but they simply surprise you or outplay you. It goes without saying though, that you need resources to buy units/buildings. Without buildings and units, you cannot win.

Don't simply think that once you expand once, you don't have to do it again. You never know how long the game will take, so if you have the resources/defenses to expand.... do it.

If you have more resources than the other player, you can build a bigger army and therefore have a better chance of survival.

General StarCraft Tip #5: The Economy is your friend...

...and in a competitive game like SC, you don't want to share your friends. Sabotage your rival's economy as much as you can.

This can be something as simple as harassing their workers, or something as complex as not allowing your rival to expand. Even if you harass their workers and you don't kill any of them, sometimes that time lost where they're not mining anything, can give you the upper hand.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mongrr Metal Update

Soilwork - The Panic Broadcast

Last Tuesday (7/13), Swedish metal band Soilwork released their eighth studio album entitled "The Panic Broadcast."

I've been strapped for time lately, and haven't had as much time to listen to this album as I would have liked, but on the first few listens, it seems to be pretty solid.

It's hands down better than 2007's "Sworn to a Great Divide," which was a bit lackluster imo. This album is slightly heavier than Great Divide, yet still shows Speed's talent in being able to be both a superb screamer, and melodic vocalist. It's no "Stabbing the Drama" but it's still a great listen.

There are a few tracks where you can tell that they were trying to be "radio friendly" and are therefore toned down quite a bit and pretty mellow. Overall, The Panic Broadcast seems to keep a good mix and balances well between the heavy screaming and melodic metal sides they are so well known for, and don't lean too far in either direction.

The first track on the album is pretty epic, entitled Late for the kill, Early for the Slaughter and has found a permanent place in my playlist.

Monday, July 19, 2010

T-Minus... 8 days...

...Until StarCraft II.

I realize that most of the past posts on this blog have been WoW related, but come on... it's friggin' StarCraft II.

I haven't been this excited about a new game release since the Diablo II release ten years ago.

I've been playing the SC2 beta for months now (it recently started back up again), and in my opinion, it's awesome. Keep in mind that I was a HUGE SC1 fan, and I'm still pretty confident that my hours spent playing SC1 still outnumber the hours I've spent playing WoW (which is no small number).

I can't decide though, whether or not my excitement about the upcoming release and my enjoyment I've had playing the beta is due to the game being great, or me simply "missing" playing that type of game.

Up until very recently (I stopped playing WoW a few weeks ago), my gaming focus had remained solely on WoW. Granted, there were a few single player games here and there that caught my attention for short periods (Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, etc.) but nothing that I "stuck" with like WoW. It has been very refreshing "catching up" on some of the games I've missed while focusing so much on WoW, and I think part of my excitement and enjoyment in SC2 is due to the same reasons....

It's something different than WoW. I'm not saying that WoW is a bad game, it is just that sometimes you don't know how fresh the air outside is until you finally realize how stale the air inside has become... and SC2 is a breath of fresh air.

Aside from enjoying the different type of gameplay from WoW, I have also re-connected with some of the friends I spent all those hours playing SC1 with while playing the SC2 beta. Not all of the buddies I played SC1 with were into WoW, so over the past few years, we kind of drifted apart. It has been enjoyable getting back in touch with them and getting back into the swing of things with a new RTS.

I'm also excited about the new changes. I haven't had much to say on the whole "RealID" issue, since I haven't been playing WoW and it hasn't really affected me. I'm not going to comment either way on the whole RealID on the forums thing, but I feel that RealID for cross-game chat is an awesome feature. It will (hopefully) allow me to keep in touch with my WoW friends who aren't into RTS games like StarCraft, so I don't drift away from them like I did with my SC friends when WoW was released.

I'm extremely excited about the SC2 single player campaign, and from what I've heard, it's going to be epic.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rule #1

So.... I haven't blogged in a while... I really don't have much of an excuse for that fact, other than there simply hasn't been anything (imo) to blog about. The game hasn't changed much, anything Cataclysm-related is likely going to change a bazillion times before release, and there hasn't been anything earth-shattering to note.

Since the last time I posted something, our 10-player guild merged with a 25-player raiding guild that was floundering due to lack of raiders showing up for raids. We went into this with the impression that this guild we were merging with was a "Progression" guild, and that they wanted the same thing we did: To down bosses, and to see Heroic LK dead, and that they were willing to do what it takes to accomplish this goal... hence getting us in.

It has become pretty obvious since joining, that this simply was not the case. While I have no doubts in my mind that most of the folks in said guild *do* want to see heroic LK dead... they seem to have the mindset that they can accomplish this feat while half-assing it during raids. There are players who think it is ok to show up to Hard Mode fights without flasks, and who don't even take the 15 seconds before a pull to eat the provided fish feast to get a well-fed buff. This is just one example of a shared mindset amongst many of their raiders that you don't have to put forth any extra effort in order to do heroic raiding.

Well... you do.

There are other details that point to the fact that many of the players in this guild are not willing to do what it takes to make things happen... but I'm not going to go into them here, since this isn't what this post is meant to be about.

This guild we merged with seems to only have one rule, a rule in which their officers seem to almost religiously refer to as "Rule #1."

This rule, according to the post on the guild's forums is "Don't be a douchebag."

This rule, upon first reading it, may seem like a good idea for a rule of thumb to run your guild by... but after seeing it in multiple different guilds I've been in (one of which I was the GM), you start to see some major flaws with it. Flaws that make you wonder if this type of rule is a smart way to run your guild.

The first and biggest flaw with this line of thinking is... who determines what specifically, a "douchebag" is?

People within the guild may have different standards, expectations, and lines to cross before something becomes "douche-like" behavior.

For example... (and a very common one): Someone calling out another player for standing in the fire during a boss encounter. The player doing the calling, may feel they are doing the Player who was standing in the fire, a favor, and helping him/her become better at SA (situational awareness). The player being called out, on the other hand, may have paper-thin skin, and may think that the Player calling him/her out for messing up.... is acting like a "douchebag."

Another example... Raiders who bend their schedules around to make sure they make every raid they say they'll be at, may think that players who miss raids with no warning are acting like "douchebags," whereas the players who miss may not think it's a big deal.

A rule like this is completely relative to each and every player. I may hate tree-druids, and think that every time a druid spec's resto, they're acting like a douchebag.... but does that qualify as behavior that would break this "Rule #1"? Obviously not...

Another problem with a rule like this, and the fact that it is relative to each and every player, is when people start breaking it out simply because they may not like, or agree with something that is being said.

Does having a different opinion than someone else on a matter qualify as "acting like a douchebag" toward that person? Again... this is why a rule like this fails... and why I feel that it is incredibly unwise to base a guild on a rule like this with so much gray area, and room for individual interpretation and no set parameters.

I've seen this rule in action in different guilds... and maybe it can work in a casual/family-type atmosphere... but in progression raiding, it simply isn't going to work. You have to call people out if they are doing something wrong during a hard-mode encounter, or you will not succeed. If calling people out is being a "douchebag" and breaking the guild's paramount rule... then it is counter productive.

Sorry for not posting anything in a while... and I apologize for the rant.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An unexpected surprise

When I got home from work today, and the servers came back online after the 3.3.3 patch being released... I did what any normal person would do.

I made a B-line toward Frozo, the new vendor in Dalaran that uses the previously useless Frozon Orbs as currency.

After all... I needed my new ice-blue magic carpet!

Once I got there, I nudged my way through the 20398723094870924 people huddled around Frozo, who was hovering safely on one of his own ice-blue magic carpets, and bought the pattern to make my new Rug-of-Awesomeness.

The mats to make said Rug-of-Awesomeness (did I mention it's blue?) were not steep. One of each Moonshroud, Ebonweave, and Spellweave, and four Frozen Orbs.

"Cake" I thought. I right-clicked the pattern, and after a brief moment of horror where I thought my casting-bar had disappeared, I remembered that I had not remembered to update my addons... so it wasn't showing. Once I had learned the pattern, I opened my tailoring crafting window to become a proud owner of my new Ice-Blue Rug-of-Awesomeness....

...only to find out I didn't have the mats.

"No sweat" I thought to myself as I remembered that this patch had gotten rid of the location requirements and obscene four-day cooldowns on making the cloth, and I went to my bank to find my stash of eternals and imbued frostweave.

I made the cloth I needed... and to my surprise, you still receive the buffs from making the cloth, like you used to when you had to travel all over Dragonblight to make it.

So... along with removing the annoying cooldown and travel requirements to make the cloth, Tailors get a stealth buff that could be utilized for raiding.

In case you're not familiar with the buffs I'm talking about, theey are: 20-Haste from making Spellweave, 20 HP/5 & MP/5 from making a Moonshroud, and 20-Crit from making an Ebonweave. Each buff lasts 30 minutes.

Sure, you have to create one of each cloth to get the buffs... but with as cheap and easy as these mats are to farm... it's a pretty decent raid-buff to the Tailoring profession. You can buy eternals with Frozen Orbs now as well.

I'm not sure if this is intentional or not... so we'll see how long it lasts. Either way, I'm likely to get at least one raid out of it if they decide to hotfix it...


Well... I found out tonight that you don't get the buffs in ICC during a raid. :(

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heroism... and I don't mean the shaman-type

A guild member of mine sent this short story he wrote to me via Facebook today, he asked that I share it, and I certainly thought it was worth sharing.

It isn't at all WoW-Related, but it is certainly food for thought and recognizes some types of "heroism" that folks may not always think of.

I was sitting at home minding my own business. Up a little later than I should have been, playing a computer game. All in all it was a pretty decent night. The dogs had all been out for the last time, I had just polished off a bowl of sugar smacks, and was content that the cereal was the last bit of business I needed to take care of for the day. So I decided I would finish up what I was doing in the game, afterall I was playing online and had 4 other people playing with me, didn't want to bail out on them. Besides what was another 15 minutes going to matter. Yep...pretty decent night. After the year I've had I'll take all of them I can get. So I continued my game, tummy tum satisfied, and content that it was too late at night for anything to go wrong, another day whooped.
Denise came into the room and yelled to me. I couldn't make out what she said because of the sweet sounds of "Voodoo" blaring through my headphones blocked most of it out. So I slid them back on my head, a bit annoyed at having one of my favorite songs interrupted and asked in a mildly sarcastic tone "Can't you see I'm busy? What now?" Ignoring the jest she told me we need to go...NOW! Before I could ask why she said one more word, Jen. Jennifer is one of her best friends, hell she was one of her bridesmaids. She is also going through a pretty ugly divorce. I haven't known Jen very long myself, met her at the wedding, maybe answered the phone once or twice when she's called, but until the last few weeks I wouldn't have counted her as a friend. Things happen quickly though, maybe it's because I had a lot of the same problems when I got divorced, maybe I'm a sucker for the damsel in distress, maybe it's because she brought me a six pack for the superbowl, whatever the reason we've become quite good friends over the last month or two. I've gotten to know her well enough to know that she's far too independant to ask for help on a whim, so whatever was happening on the other side of that phone must have been important.
Without a word I jumped up from my computer chair, like a jackrabbit...or a ninja... a ninja jackrabbit. Hell yeah. Two steps later I was nearly pulled off my feet as the cord to my headphones wrapped around my neck got the better of me. So this is how it was all going to end? At least I had clean underwear on. I proved to be too much for the headphone monster though, as I pulled my tower from it's stand and the cord came unplugged, tagging me in the neck. I told Denise I didn't need to diet, had I listened to her I may not have had enough inertia to pull off that whole manuever. So we ran outside to the car, I considered doing a Bo Duke slide across the hood but thought better of it. Perhaps I should rethink that diet. On the way to Jen's house Denise filled me in. Jen's husband was drunk, had her trapped in her bedroom, and was cussing and threatoning her. Business was getting ready to pick up. So I stood on the gas, I may not be able to do the hood slide but Mr. Duke ain't got nothin on me on the freeway. We got to Jen's a lot faster than we legally should have, I locked the brakes up as I hit the driveway still doing 30, and jumped out the door while throwing my glasses somewhere in the back seat. I completely outsmarted the seat belt, taking it off when we got to her neighborhood and i had slowed down to a sane speed. That's right Mr. seatbelt, not today. You and your friend headphone cable are going to have to wait if you want me. At that moment I got the best news I could have asked for. Jen was waiting at the door for us, alone and safe. Of course the whole night couldn't stay that easy. It didn't take long and her drunken husband decided to make an appearance. There was some yelling, cussing, threatoning, everything that you would expect from me...he said some things too. In the end I never could quite bait him into attacking, but my goal was achieved so i was happy. Jen and her kids were safe, and he was too focused on me to even remember they were there. Sure I could go into a lot more detail here but that's not what this is about.
The next day word about the events the night before got around as you would expect. I know I posted my version of the story on facebook. Largest social network in the world and it didn't reach nearly as many people as the women gossip channels though. Very quickly a lot of people knew, and I got tons of emails, phonecalls, text messages, all these fancy new fangled things, telling me how great I am for stepping in like I did. At first it was great. Who doesn't like a little praise for a job well done? So I did what any reasonable person would do. I sat down and began writing a proposal to send to Washington to have Mount Rushmoore altered to showcase Thor, Hercules, myself, and of course Bill Nye the Science guy...that guy is a badass. About halfway through the proposal I was interrupted by another text. Adoring fans can be such a pain in the ass. This one said that I was a hero for stepping in like that. Wow...a hero? For nothing more than going to her house and standing in between two people? This got me thinking...and a little upset. Why is it so damn rare for a person to do the right thing that a simple act like this could be called heroic? All I did was stand in front of her being all big and ugly, hell that comes naturally to me. I've made quite a hobby out of screwing with drunks. Spooking some drunk at a bar that's walking around acting like a badass is my favorite past time, so why would this be any different? Then I realized, it's not. I did nothing special, certainly not heroic. Sure this was more emotional, more personal, but the end result was the same. I intimidated a drunk. Scared him into sulking back to his room and hiding the rest of the night. In all honesty it's something that should have gone unnoticed. People should be expected to step in and do the right thing. Then again most of the time people are put into a situation where they have the option to do the right thing or not.
So i guess that praise is warranted here. And yes, even the title of Hero. Afterall, it's not often that someone goes so far above and beyond what you can consider reasonable for someone else. To show so much courage and compassion. To act with such fierce loyalty and love. To have the fortitude and strength to endure. This is why I'm writing this. I want everyone to know what I think it takes to be a hero. I believe that after reading this you might realize that there are a lot more of them around us than we take the time to see.

I just recently met Jennifer. Until a few weeks ago I wouldn't have even counted her as a friend. In that time I've gotten to know a woman that is under constant attack whenever she's at home from an abusive husband. A woman that is being intimidated and pushed around on a daily basis. One that I can only imagine is terrified at what her future will bring for both her and her kids. I've also met a woman who will not break...not back down...not give up. She's not doing it for herself, but for her kids. I don't have the courage to take on all that she has...not even close. Sure I can stand up and scare someone, but there's no way I could withstand what she does every day. She's in a position where she can't even fight back. Her only option would be to run, but she won't. She's going to stand face to face with the devil and not give an inch. Jennifer, you are a hero to me. I hope that before this is over there is something I can do to help lighten your load. I also hope that if I'm ever put into a situation where it is needed that I'm able to learn from you, and show a fraction of the courage that I see in you.

Amy Anderson was one of my high school english teachers. I never kept in touch with her. We went fifteen years without speaking in any form. In fact we don't talk often now, an occasional comment on facebook, and before this started maybe 2 emails in the past year. You know the kind, hey remember me? Yeah? Ok talk to you again in another 15 years. After all of this happened I decided it would be a good idea to write down the events of the night in case it could be used in court later. I wanted it to be well written and professional sounding, then I remembered I had an english teacher on my facebook friend list. Bingo. I asked her if she would proofread a short letter for me and she agreed. This is the point where she amazed me. She took the story to heart, genuinely concerned about this woman and her kids from the letter. Most people would try to avoid getting involved for their best friend, but Amy opened her heart up to a complete stranger. She's taken the time to talk with me, and help me deal with the situation, and I'm little more than a stranger to her. You are a hero to me Amy. One of these days I hope to be able to repay you for the support you've given me when you had no reason at all to get involved. Most of all thank you for the prayers. I know I told you I didn't need any for myself, to use them all up on Jen and her family, but I also know you didn't listen. Thank you for your time, your prayers, and your compassion.

I consider myself a pretty loyal person. I stick by my friends and family, and it takes a lot to scare me off. Until recently I believed myself to be one of the most loyal people you could meet, but my wife, Denise, has showed me that I have a long ways to go. She is there for Jen no matter what. There's been a lot of things that Jen has done that Denise and I disagree with. Where we vary though is I get pissed off about it, and refuse to be nice about something I don't agree with. Denise on the other hand is willing to put her own feelings to the side just to be there for Jen to lean on. If you ever find yourself in trouble and need someone you can count on, hope that you have Denise for a friend and not me. I've gotten yelled at several times myself for saying something bad about Jen, or claiming that maybe she causes some problems for herself. It's not that Denise doesn't agree with me, it's that to her it doesn't matter. If her friend needs her then she's going to be there, standing at her side ready to protect, comfort, and love her. Denise, I love you, and you have shown me that I'm never going to be alone. You are a hero to me. It was easy for me to stand up and defend Jen that night. Looking all big and ugly comes naturally to me. The way you put yourself into the situation, sitting at her side hugging her while everything was falling down around her is amazing to me. I don't deserve to have a friend like you, thank you for sharing your life with me.

Caitlinn is Jennifers oldest daughter. She's 14...I think..about that anyways. This young lady has already been through more than most of us will ever see in our lives. She's old enough to begin to understand how sever the abuse that her mom endures is. She is from a previous marriage so her stepdad has always treated her like a second class citizen in what is supposed to be her home. You can only imagine how screwed up she is because of all of this. Except, she isn't. She's exceptionally smart, funny, and a joy to be around. She has been hit with the worst life has to offer and she's walked through it all without a scratch. How is it even possible for someone so young to have so much strength? She is her moms most faithful companion through all of this. Always there to help her mom cope, to comfort her, and to spend time with her. Not only facing her own problems through all of this, but willing and able to help take on her moms, and she does it all with a smile and a joke. That type of undaunting spirit is truly unique in this world, and it's why Caitlinn, you are a hero to me. I pray I never have to withstand as much as you do, but if I do I hope to follow your example.

So yes, praise is warranted here. Just not for me. I did nothing special. These women I've told you about have each done far more than I could ever hope to. I'm in the company of giants...of heroes. So tonight say a prayer for them, raise a glass to them, however you would salute a hero. I think I'll do both just to be sure. It's not often that someone goes so far above and beyond what you can consider reasonable for someone else. To show so much courage and compassion. To act with such fierce loyalty and love. To have the fortitude and strength to endure. This is why I'm writing this. I want everyone to know what I think it takes to be a hero, and I want the heros in my life to know that I am blessed for having them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Priest T10 4pc bonus... Redux

I did a post on how mediocre I felt the Priest T10 4pc bonus was a while back... well, I'm going to revisit that topic.

/Begin Rant.

Part of the 3.3.3 PTR patch notes informed us today of a possible new change to the Priest Tier 10 set bonus.

I will be the first to admit that our current 4pc bonus is less than awe-inspiring. Some priests may like it, but many feel it to be mediocre at best.

The current Priest T10 set bonus is:
Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.
Now, the idea for this set bonus is, in my opinion, pretty cool. The devs are trying to make things interesting by resetting a cooldown for one spell, by using another, thereby giving the player the option to utilize a spell they wouldn't normally be able to use because of a cooldown.

Awesome. Sounds like fun, and would be fun (as well as much more useful)... if they had opted to use a different spell other than Flash to trigger that cooldown-resetting proc.

Flash Heal, while I do use it, is not the most used "filler" spell I use between Penance or CoH cooldowns. As Disc, the "filler" spell I use between CD's is PW:S probably 70% of the time. This should not come as any surprise, since bubbling is one of the major strengths of the class. As Holy, I utilize Renew most of the time as a "filler."

Like I said, I do use Flash Heal in both specs, but it isn't usually my first choice. In my opinion, the current T10 bonus could be easily fixed by simply changing it to something along the lines of:
Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Renew cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing spell, and your next Power Word: Shield cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Penance spell.
This change, although I have no idea how difficult something like that would be to pull off on a technical programming side of things, would make the the T10 bonus great (although still not on par with Druids and Shaman).

It would keep the set bonus "fun" and continue to make it reactive by giving the player a chance to use a spell they normally wouldn't be able to... and it would keep it useful by allowing it to proc off spells we actually use most often.

I don't get why this is such a foreign concept for the Devs. They do it with Druid and Shaman sets. The Druid 4pc bonus procs off Rejuv, probably their most used spell, and the Shaman 4pc procs off Chain Heal... which is by far their most used spell.

I simply don't understand why this concept is so hard to grasp for the Devs when it comes to Priests.

Instead of addressing the public outcry about the Priest 4pc bonus in some fun or creative way, they are now testing this change:
Increases the effect of your Renew and Power Word: Shield spells by 5%.
Wow... while making Renew and PW:S 5% stronger is nice (and probably more useful to many Priests than the current bonus)... what an incredibly boring and uncreative way to put a band-aid on the original problem.

I'm an artist, not a math guy... so I don't enjoy running numbers, but 5% on either of those spells seems a little anti-climatic for being the 4pc bonus to the Top Tier set in this expansion.

Seriously... a static 5% increase? Druids get a chance for their Rejuv (many druids' most used spell) to jump to a nearby target for full duration. Shaman get to have their Chain Heal crits heal for 25% more over time... and we get a static 5% boost?

This stacked on top of the fact that due to being Disc probably 90% of the time in raids, I'm incredibly anti-Spirit, probably more than most priests (until they make it worth my while... aka Cata). Due to the amount of Spirit (aka wasted stats) on the T10, the bonus will have to be pretty nice in order for me to even consider picking it up.

This potential change on the PTR irks me. Not because I feel the bonus is sub-par. I already spent emblems on other gear so there is no real loss for me there. I'm irked because this change just seems incredibly lazy, and so drastically un-creative in comparison to other classes.

/end rant.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Single Target Healing"

Today, while scanning over the blue-tracker over at MMO-Champion, I saw that Ghostcrawler addressed some posts about Disc Priests.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Ghostcrawler. I think it's great that he is a presence on the community forums to show that the Devs do indeed read them... but sometimes, I get the impression that he posts just for the sake of posting, and actually puts more fuel on the flames, so to speak. I'm also not a huge fan of the "shotgun approach" they seem to have taken with class balance over the last expansion, and then applying hotfixes to fix their mistakes when a nerf/buff doesn't perform the way they expect.

All that aside, I have to applaud him today with his responses to the Disc Priest threads, because as a player who has played as a healing Priest since launch and is perfectly happy with the way the class is now... he nailed his description of a Disc Priest's role.

His description of a Disc Priest's specialization is:

"Discipline priests specialize in single-target heals and damage prevention. They are nonetheless fairly well rounded and have some fun tools, such as Power Infusion and Pain Suppression.

They are awesome and in some cases borderline overpowered. :)"

I'm willing to bet that one of those cases he is referring to where we are borderline overpowered is the Lich King encounter.

Any Disc Priest who has healed that fight knows exactly what I'm talking about. PW:S makes the LK's Infest ability practically trivial... whereas it would normally be an incredibly difficult ability to heal through, considering the other things happening during the fight at the same time.

Ghostcrawler also addresses "Single Target Healing." This quote alone makes me respect GC a whole lot more than I had prior to reading it, and goes to show that an overwhelming number of Priests in the WoW community (at least the ones who post on the boards) have absolutely no clue about the amount of potential the Priest class has.

The quote I'm referring to is:

"Yep. Perhaps I should have said "single-target HEALING" since unglyphed PW:S isn't technically a heal. But any Disc priest who is trying to heal multiple people at once is probably doing it wrong. You can raid heal effectively by targeting one person at a time, and that's what Disc priests do. Shaman and Holy priests can heal several people simultaneously."

The part of the quote that I feel most of the Priest community cannot seem to wrap their brains around is "You can raid heal effectively by targeting one person at a time..."

The term "Single Target Healing" does not mean you are limited to healing solely the Main Tank. Yes, the MT is probably the person taking the single most amount of damage... but no where is there a law saying that limits you as a Disc Priest to healing solely that one person.

Again, I will refer to the Lich King encounter and his Infest ability. Infest, for those of you that have not had the chance to face the Lich King, is an ability that hits the entire raid for ~7-8k, and applies a DoT that increases in power every second it's up. The only way to remove Infest is to get the target back up above 90% HP. He does this ability every 30 seconds or so during the first two non-transition phases of the encounter.

What makes Disc so great for this is our ability to pre-shield the entire raid with PW:S. If you're doing the encounter correctly, the rest of the raid, aside from the MT's, should not be taking a huge amount of damage during these phases, which means you can reliably keep PW:S up on the raid in preparation for the Infest. With iLevel 232 gear and above, PW:S is strong enough to absorb most (if not all) of the Infest, meaning it does no damage to the raid... and that means it does not apply the DoT, since the targets never go below 90% HP.

Anyone who does not consider this "Raid Healing" in an encounter like this, needs their head examined, IMO.

The Lich King is not the only encounter in which Disc Priests can excel at "raid" healing. During Dreamwalker, in ICC... the healer's hay-day because they get to "dps" the boss... I raid heal, as Disc. I'll post our guild's kill the other night of Dreamwalker below, and if you watch, I never cast one single heal on the Dragon... but I'm responsible for keeping the entire raid up.

Ghostcrawler's description of us being able to raid heal, only by doing it by selecting single targets, is spot on... but this is not a "new" concept. Prior to Burning Crusade, the only "AoE" heals in the game were PoH, Holy Nova, and Chain Heal. There was no CoH, or Wild Growth back then. Unless you were a Shaman... (which Alliance did not have at the time), most of your "raid" healing came from, you guessed it, selecting single targets.

Here's the Dreamwalker video. I'll try to remember to record a Lich King video this week (I forgot to hit record last week) and get that posted once I have it. Remember to watch the video in HD... it looks better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Lich King: Finally, a boss worth fighting.

I have made multiple posts about different player mindsets and reasons why people spend time playing a game like WoW. Some play it casually, some much more hardcore. Some play it to do quests, to level, to get achievements.... others do it to raid.

I am one of those players who plays WoW to raid.

That being said, since the release of WotLK, I have found myself extremely disappointed in the end-game raid content released during this expansion.

It simply wasn't very... epic (imo), or as challenging as I would have liked it to be. Don't get me wrong... I completely understand the reasoning behind Blizzard going the route they did with Wrath, and making the content more accessible. I just wished the "hard" modes for most of the encounters would have been a little *more* challenging.

That is... until the badass big-boy himself... the Lich King, aka Arthas.

This encounter, lasting 15+ minutes is, in my opinion, sure proof that the boss devs over at Blizzard have not lost their nerve and still know how to make an epic and extremely challenging fight like Chromaggus, Kael, Vashj, and Mu'ru.

In fact, since the formation of the current guild that I'm in, I believe (and I hope my guildies correct me if I'm wrong) the Lich King is the first normal mode boss that has taken us more than two full nights of attempting to get down. In my opinion, this is a good thing. It keeps the game challenging, as well as interesting. It also makes the feeling when you finally get the bad boy down, that much more fulfilling.

I was asked by one of my guildies the other day if I thought the fact that we hadn't gotten the Lich King down yet would cause tension and frustration amongst the members (keep in mind we're used to rickrolling normal-mode bosses the first or second night). Personally, I would have been incredibly disappointed if we had gotten the Lich King down in our first couple nights of attempts. If we had gotten him down the first, or even second night, it would have shown that while the Lich King has a badass model, and his sword looks really cool... he's no different than any other boss the devs have thrown at us since Wrath.

If there is frustration amongst the members, I don't feel that it's due to the fact that we haven't killed the Lich King yet, but due to the fact that we hold ourselves and each other to extremely high standards of play. If we don't constantly uphold those standards, people get frustrated. It's expected, and one of the things we've built the guild around. Peer accountability is a huge factor within our guild, and we like it that way. It may not work for all guilds, but it works (and has worked) here. If there's a problem, instead of letting it fester because no one's willing to say anything, we address it, and take care of it. Things like making stupid mistakes repeatedly, or missing a raid with no warning while we're excited about a boss like the LK can cause just as much frustration as failing to down a boss itself.

Potential frustrations aside, the fact that we haven't gotten the Lich King down yet, makes the boss special. He's challenging, the fight itself is epic, and the RP (even though the beginning stuff gets a little old after the 32nd attempt) makes it feel like the player is actually part of a huge moment in WoW lore. Add all those things up with the fact that he is incredibly challenging, means that it will be a truly awesome moment for us when we get him down. When we get him down, I fully expect to hear octaves from Thraxx' voice that I haven't heard since his dagger dropped for him off Ragnaros.

While we haven't gotten him down yet, we're getting there, and I am fully expecting to get the Lich King down tomorrow... and if for some reason we're not able to, it's just another reminder that we are fighting the most powerful being currently in existence on Azeroth... it shouldn't be a cakewalk.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shooting yourself in the foot...

/Begin Rant

While watching the NFC Playoff game last night, and watching MN essentially shoot themselves in the foot by turning over the ball so many times and losing a game they should have won... it got me thinking about WoW, and how the same type of thing often happens during raids.

Granted, in WoW, there are no such things as fumbles or interceptions... there are still many things that raid members, regardless of how experienced they are, do (or don't do) that can cause your raid to essentially shoot itself in the foot and fail at what it set out to do...

Although... things like bad calls, and poor clock management are at times a very real thing in WoW.

What can be done to prevent things like this from happening? Just as remembering the fundamentals like protecting the ball, and not throwing cross-field can keep you from losing a football game, remembering the fundamentals of healing (or whatever role you play in a raid) can keep you from walking away from a raid night without a boss kill.

What healing fundamentals am I referring to? Things like sticking to your healing assignment (if given one), healing smart instead of healing to "pad the meters," and managing your mana/cooldowns.

As a healer, if you do not stick to these "fundamentals" while raiding, it's likely that someday it'll come to haunt you. Sure... you may look like a superstar for a while, healing everyone in the entire raid, spamming heals on everyone, dominating the healing meters. But... come that time where you were supposed to be AoE raid heals for the raid and a raid member dies to AoE while you were spamming heals on the MT.... or you use your Divine Hymn early and don't have it when you truly need it... these types of behaviors are likely going to wipe the raid, and there really isn't any excuse for it.

We, as healers, have truly been spoiled during WotLK raiding. Anyone who has been raiding since Molten Core, remembers the days of healer rotations on Twin Emps, fights like Major-Domo which required upwards of 5 tanks with specific healers and assignments... or fights like Chromaggus, where the MT was often out of LOS, so only the assigned healers could heal him/her. Back then, you had to trust that the other healers in the raid would do their job, and be able to heal their assigned target, just like they were trusting you to do yours. Often times, you wouldn't even be able to "back them up" if you wanted to, due to range, LOS, or mana constraints.

Now days, most raids don't even require healing assignments, and can be healed with the "everyone just heal everyone" approach. Every once in a while though, especially while working through new content, there comes a time where the raid may need specific healing assignments and CD's used at a certain time in order to succeed... and if you don't stick to your game, you may well blow it for the entire raid.

This is not just a healer rant. Every class and role has their own fundamentals in terms of raiding that need to be done in order to succeed... the healer ones just hit closest to home. Tanks need to make sure they're always keeping the mobs turned the right direction, or taunting/kiting/inturupting when they need to. DPS need to make sure they're DPSing the correct targets at the right time, and switching at the right times, or stopping DPS at the right times, as well as doing things like inturupts, dispells and spellsteals.

Stick to the fundamentals as a raider, even if you may not necessarily need to in order to beat the content, and you'll end up being a much better player for it... because the behavior will already be habit when you need it to be, instead of having to learn it on the fly when you actually need to use it.

/End Rant

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Battle of the Stats: Haste vs Crit

While not nearly as epic of a battle as the impending Vikings/Colts Super Bowl is gonna be (sorry, I had to do it)... it's time to see which is more popular for priests... haste, or crit.

Today, bored beyond belief while spending hours in a hospital waiting room at obscene hours of the morning, I had the opportunity to catch up on many of the forums/blogs out there that I have been missing out on over the last few months.

One of the hot topics that I have seen on many of these forums and blogs, especially in regards to Priests, is the seemingly endless debate about which stat is "better"... Haste, or Crit.

First off, a disclaimer: I am not about to go and say that either stat is "best" for a spec/class, or that people who do not choose to gear the same way that I do are "noobs" and need to "L2Gear." People thinking that the way they do something is the only way to do something and anyone who thinks or does otherwise is stupid, seems incredibly closed minded to me. This age of WoW is not the age of Sunwell Plateu or Vanilla Naxx, and while there may be math and theorycrafting to "support" why a stat may or may not be slightly better than another, this type of micromanaging simply isn't required for WoW in this day and age... even if you're raiding hard-modes. Don't misunderstand me... there are ways of gearing that are bad, like a Priest gemming Strength or AP. My point is, that if something works for you, and your raid isn't getting pwned and the bosses you're going after are falling over... chances are you're doing something right... regardless of the math and theorycrafting that may or may not directly support something you choose to do.

Keep in mind that the problem with theorycrafting vs actually testing something yourself is that while theorycrafting, most people do not factor in individual aspects of boss fights. Things like having to move out of the Giant Big, or kite a giant slime... or having to switch to raid heals while a druid battle rezzes etc. are simply not things that most folks think about when trying to theorycraft. This is the problem with strictly going by the math as well. Most of the time when things like this are calculated strictly by "going by the numbers" it assumes that the situation is always optimal.... and we all know the situation is rarely optimal.

The post in question that spawned this whole tirade, was a post about someone going for straight haste and having 1100 haste. It was on the WoW Priest forums, and can be located here. The second response to the OP, in its entirety was simply someone typing the word: "BAD". This is the exact type of attitude that I'm referring to above. The poster obviously doesn't agree that extreme haste is a good way to go, but instead of giving helpful or useful feedback to support why he/she may think that way, or help answer the OP's question... they simply type "BAD."

This is not what this post is about. I have a very specific goal in mind in terms of my gear, and I am simply curious to see what other priests out there are doing with their gear, and why they go that route. I know there are many ways to play a Priest, and with those many ways of playing also comes many ways of gearing. I'm also simply curious about which stat is more popular amongst priests.

Personally, I prefer crit over haste being Discipline specc'ed. While I do feel that Haste is a very important stat, when it comes down to Crit and Haste being the sole deciding factor on a piece of gear, the piece that favors Crit is likely to win out.

My reasons for this are mainly due to the Divine Aegis talent, where the more I crit, the more damage I mitigate. Divine Aegis also stacks, which also benefits from multiple crits. Having 3/3 in Imp. Flash heal also adds an additional 15% chance to crit when your target is below 50% hp, along with 5/5 in Holy Specialization adds another 5% chance to crit. When raid buffed, my Crit % for heals is sitting at ~45%, and 60% on my FH if the target's below half hp. Believe me... when the target is below 50% hp, it's a nice time to snag a crit. Gaining crits in those types of situations also saves mana, because many times I end up not having to cast more than once to get them back to full.

Crit, along with the PW:S glyph, also greatly helps out when having to play the "mobile healer" and having to heal while on the run. I've seen the PW:S glyph crit for 4k, which is nothing to sneeze at for being an instant heal I can cast while running. This "heal" also does not directly benefit from haste due to the Weakened Soul debuff preventing from casting another shield on the same target.

Haste is still a favored stat, but it isn't something that I gem for. I do however try to get as many pieces with both haste and crit on it as I possibly can, but I try to shy away from pieces with strictly haste unless the other stats on it make it a clear upgrade in other areas. I will however take a piece with haste and no crit if it doesn't have Spirit. Like I've posted before, I feel that Spirit, for a Disc priest, is a complete waste of a stat when it comes to any gear above Nax, making Haste a much better option.

I also keep haste pieces of gear around for the times when I'm required to spec Holy. I view Haste for Holy the way I view Crit for Disc. They're both good, but for Holy, I see Haste as more important.

So, for me... Crit > Haste, with Haste still being very important for Disc, and Vice Versa for Holy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Does Elitism run rampant in WoW?

First, before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I'm going to make an admission... and no, it has nothing to do with "elitism"...

I admit that when I started this "priest" blog, I did not realize just how difficult it would be to come up with interesting, informed, and original posts about priests. Seriously... I've been wracking my brain for the last few days, trying to come up with something priest related to blog about. The way I see it, is the Priest class in WoW, has not really received any major changes in almost a year.

There really isn't anything to theorycraft about (imo) that hasn't already been beaten to death on other blogs/forums, there hasn't really been anything special about the ICC bosses (so far released) that requires anything different than any other raid boss out there at the moment, and so far, none of the gear from ICC (aside from T10 which I've already touched on) is really all that game-changing (aside from Rotface's Trauma, but I'm waiting until I actually get it to post about it).

So...... that being said, I figured I'd post about something else WoW-related that I've been thinking about.

Yesterday, MMO-Champion linked a video on their homepage from G4 called the "MMO Report." This is not the first time MMO-Champion has linked an installment of this report on their homepage, but for me, it was the first time I had actually watched it. Overall, it wasn't all that impressive. It was a rundown of MMO related headlines from the week, with a one-liner thrown in after each where the host tried desperately to be funny (and failed).

There were two WoW-related blurbs on this MMO Report, the first about some 16 year old kid who got a 40-something woman to meet him in some hotel, and the second which highlighted MMO-Champion's feature of the WoW-addon "Elitist Group."

The first story, aside from being a bit disturbing, I didn't really care about. The second caught my attention not because a member of my guild recently started using the addon mentioned, but because of the remark that the host threw in afterwards, which was along the lines of how "WoW-nerds" love to "verbally eviscerate" fellow players for "simple in-game mistakes."

I'm not going to try and deny that this type of behavior doesn't happen, because it does... sometimes, quite often in some cases. I'm sure that my guild members and I are guilty of our share of "verbally eviscerating" fellow players for "simple in-game mistakes." Does that make someone "elitist" by default?

In my opinion, no.

"Simple in-game mistakes" will happen, I (and probably most of the members of Parabola) understand that. They happen to me, more often than I like to admit. From my experience though, most of us are pretty good about letting a mistake slide without the "verbal evisceration" if that's what it was... a simple mistake.

Mistakes are meant to be learned from though, and if the same "simple in-game mistake" keeps happening over, and over... and over.... That's when the "verbal evisceration" usually comes in during our raids. There is a difference between a "simple in-game mistake" (which happens occasionaly) and not paying attention and standing in the Giant Big... over... and over... and over even after your name is called.

This post may (in some people's eyes) make me look like an "elitist," but I don't feel that I am. I simply have specific expectations from players who choose to raid with Parabola (and I'm not even the raid leader).

1.) Be on-time, and be prepared. This should not just apply to raiding. Punctuality is important in all aspects of life... why should it be any different for a video game? If you're raiding and you're late... you're either holding up nine people, or 24 other people. Take some initiative and if the raid starts at 6:30, be at the raid and ready to raid at 6:30... not logging on at 6:30 and asking for a summon.

2.) Pay attention to what's going on around you. Either in-game, or on vent. Pay attention to what's being said by the raid leader... most raid leaders don't enjoy having to repeat themselves 23 times, and can lead to some early "verbal evisceration" even before mistakes are made. Also, pay attention to what's happening to your character in-game. If you die due to standing in the Giant Big too long, don't blame the healer... blame yourself for not watching your feet and moving.

3.) Know what your role is. If you're healing, know who you're supposed to be healing. If you're a tank, know what you'll be tanking, and when. If you're a DPS, know what you're supposed to DPS and when, and manage your hate accordingly. Most important of all for this point... if you don't know or are unclear on something, ASK... hopefully it was not something that was said on vent already and you just weren't paying attention. You don't necessarily have to ask the Raid leader either... ask someone else of your same Role, and they may be able to explain something more role-specific than the RL did.

4.) Most of all (and this probably sounds like the most "elitist" expectation), know how to raid. Don't misunderstand me, this is not a "L2Play" expectation. There are very specific things that players need to know how to do in order to successfully raid. Every role in the game changes a bit when it is in a raid environment vs a 5-man. Be aware of what you need to do differently as your class in a raid setting. Things like paying closer attention to your surroundings, managing your mana and threat, or not going out of range of heals. Don't go into ICC without ever having running a raid in your life and expect to know what you're doing... There are reasons why other raids came before it. If your DPS/Healing/Threat is significantly lower than what you should be at for your gear level... chances are you may be doing something wrong and someone's likely to call you out on it. We're in IceCrown Citadel, and ICC is not the place to learn how to raid... that's what Nax, Sarth, and Ulduar are for. In most cases, it's nothing personal... but we are here to succeed, not carry people through content. If you notice that you're significantly behind someone of the same class/role with similar gear... ask them what you may be doing wrong. I know personally I'm much more understanding when I know that you're actually trying to improve vs just being content in being carried.

So... back to the original point of the post. Does "elitism" run rampant in WoW? I think it again comes down the different mindsets of the players who play WoW, and I made a post about this a few weeks ago. With 11 million people playing one game, you are going to have players of varying skill levels, as well as varying mindsets. It's a fact. Some players are more skilled than others. The folks in guilds like Ensidia and others getting world firsts... are far more skilled than most players. There are also those players (and we've all seen them) that can't seem to see the big flaming patch of ground they're standing in... who are less skilled than most.

In my half-decade of playing, I feel that "elitism" (or what appears to most as elitism) usually shows up when people of drastically different mindsets meet. This can either be within a group/raid, in Trade-chat, or even sometimes in Guild Chat. What most people (from what I've seen) think is "elitism" is actually just people having expectations (usually about raiding) that clash drastically.

I have no doubts that I would appear to be "elitist" to someone who does not have the same expectations about a raid as I do... does this mean that I'm "elitist" and think I'm "better" than they are? Absolutely not. I'm a firm believer that everyone should raid in whatever way gives them the most enjoyment. Having specific expectations does not make one elitist, as long as you don't expect things from others that you don't do yourself. I don't think I'm "better" than anyone because of the way I choose to play... I know and understand that the type of raiding I enjoy isn't for everyone. I love a challenge and think fast-paced hard-core raiding is fun, whereas others may enjoy a relaxed pace. It's nothing personal, it just all goes back to different mindsets and what people are playing the game to do. I feel it's better to set the expectations early, so all the raiders know what's expected instead of just "verbally eviscerating" people after they haven't lived up to something they didn't know they weren't doing.

"Simple in-game mistakes," like accidentally cleansing the Abom controller on Putricide (oops) or forgetting to taunt because there's a football game on TV, happen to all of us. They only really become a problem when the continue to happen and you don't try to make an effort to keep it from happening again.

I'm pretty confident that with 11 million players, there are just as many "lazy" players who never try to get better as there are "elitists" who actually think they are "better" than everyone else.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Armory Features

The WoW Armory got a pretty nifty update today, which allows you to do this:

Now, everyone can see how hawt or fugly your toon is!

Since /facepalm doesn't actually have an animation... this is as close as I could get.

There were a few updates as well, like being able to RSS feed into a character's activity, which can be useful for things like guild recruitment, etc..

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Problem with long boss encounters...

To be completely honest, I enjoy long boss encounters.

I love having to manage mana to make it last upwards of 7-10 minutes... I enjoy utilizing ability cooldowns to their max potential... and I truly enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when you overcome a long and challenging boss.

What I do not enjoy, is having to find music for the FRAPS video for long boss encounters. -.-

I enjoy recording the videos for our guild, and I enjoy not using that boring techno that many videos use... but picking out music is not as easy as one may think. First, the music has to fit into the time of the video. If it's too short, you either have "dead air" or you have to fill it with another track. The more tracks you have, the more likely you are to pick something that Youtube doesn't agree with, and have it muted once it's uploaded. If you pick something too long, it either gets cut off (which bugs the hell outta me) or you have "dead air" at the end of your video.

Our guild got Putricide last night, and it was epic, and incredibly fun. I even treated my guildies with the sandbox tiger after the boss went down. Now tonight I am having difficulties finding music long enough to fit the video.

The video is 7:38, and the closest I got was 7:05 for stuff I haven't used yet... so there's some boring dead air in the vid... but not so much that it's too annoying... in my opinion, anyway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Priest T10 4pc bonus... worth the hassle?

Ever since the stats/bonuses for the Priest's T10 set were released, I have been trying to decide whether or not I like the 4pc bonus. Keep in mind, while I do respec Holy for a fight here and there, I primarily raid as Discipline.

The bonus reads as follows:

"(4)Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells."

Upon first glance, you may have the same initial reaction that I did in thinking that it'd be really cool to have my Penance CD reset after a flash heal.

After thinking about it over the last few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that there are two major problems with this set bonus.

1.) It relies on a proc in order to reset a Cooldown, on a key spell. This is a problem because any priest worth his/her salt already knows how to play well with those set cooldowns in place, and works around them.

I'm not saying that I would ever complain about my Penance CD being reset... but the problem comes when people start relying on or getting used to that Penance CD being reset.

If you get too used to that Penance CD being gone 20% of the time, and then change out some gear... your tanks or raid members may not be too pleased with you.

Personally, I've never been one to rely on procs. Like any other proc in the game, it'll be nice when it happens, but you should always plan on playing as though the proc isn't there... and just react when it is.

2.) The amount of "wasted" stats on your gear you need to go through in order to get the 4pc bonus.

As I said above, I primarily raid as Discipline. As such, it is my opinion that Spirit, as a stat, is completely worthless. (as a priest raiding current content, keep in mind)

As a Discipline priest, aside from Meditation, there are no talents that benefit from high Spirit. With the way the game is setup right now in terms of raiding, and gear, Mana is not enough of an issue to stack your spirit in order to benefit more from Meditation. You'll get spirit from other sources, there's no need to stack for it. As Discipline, it should be very rare that you ever find yourself outside of the FSR to actually benefit from straight Spirit regen. Meaning, that unlike Holy, Spirit does not increase your spellpower, nor does it noticeably increase your mana regen.

As Discipline, most of my mana regen comes from Rapture, and my PW:S being absorbed.... thus making Intellect, a much more valuable stat. Intellect increases my mana pool, making Rapture return more mana. Intellect also increases critical chance on spells, making Divine Aegis proc more often, providing more damage prevention. Intellect also passively increases your mana regen, along with spirit.

My point is, in order to receive the 4pc Tier10 bonus, you have to be wearing four of those pieces (duh). At the lowest ilevel, the priest T10 items have 406 total Spirit on the items. Granted, you don't have to wear all five pieces, but at the lowest, the gloves and shoulders, both have 71 spirit... that's a lot of what I would consider a "waste" of a stat, just for a 4pc bonus that I consider pretty mediocre.

Now, the 2pc T10 bonus is pretty nice, and worth the spirit, but the 4pc just isn't worth it for me... Especially when you look at some of the Frost Emblem items, and Ashen Verdict crafted items that don't have the spirit, but have both Haste and Crit on them... two stats I value much more highly than Spirit.

Monday, January 4, 2010

WoW: 2009 Year in Review

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! It's hard to believe that at this time last year, many people had either just very recently hit 80 in the new Wrath of the Lich King expansion, or were still leveling their way up.

It's difficult to believe that I spent half of the last decade playing World of Warcraft. This game has changed drastically since November of 2004, and 2009 (like every year since the game was released) introduced quite a few new changes to the game.

Was 2009 a good year for WoW though? The answer to this question will be different for each and every one of the 11 million people who play this game. From my standpoint though, here are a few of the major wins for WoW in 2009... I'll talk about the "losses" later.

Wins for WoW in 2009:

-10 and 25-player raids. Although WotLK was released in November of 2008 with the option to run 10 and 25 player versions of the initial raid content... I feel that 2009 was where this option really took off. In terms of the 11 million subscribers, a very small percentage of those players were actually doing a ton of raiding in 2008, so I'm chalking this option up as a win for '09.

The option to be able to see content, and only having to find nine other players to fill the roles within a raid instead of 24 other players, was one of the greatest things to ever happen to WoW in my opinion. Don't get me wrong... raiding with 40 players, and even 25 is an epic experience to be sure... but sometimes you just don't want to have to deal with that size of a group. It also allows smaller guilds that may not always have the numbers needed to run 25's to still be able to see everything there is to see without always having to PuG.

-The Hearthstone Cooldown Reduced to 30 minutes. This may not seem like a big deal... but it is... It really is.

-Ulduar. Ulduar was, in my opinion, a truly great raid instance. It looked great, it had an interesting story leading up to it, and within it, and the bosses were very diverse and interesting.

Ulduar, like Sartharion, offered "hard modes" which were the same fights... only with an added twist to make them more difficult. This allowed the bosses to be tuned such that the more casual guilds could still down bosses, while at the same time, providing a bit of a challenge for the more hardcore guilds out there.

There may be debate about whether the bosses were too hard, or too difficult, but as an instance, I feel that Ulduar was a very well done raid instance.

-Dual Spec's. This feature changed the way many guilds raid. All of a sudden, "off-spec" loot becomes useful outside of PvP or doing dailies.

As soon as Dual-Spec went live, everyone's toon became much more flexible in terms of what they can do both inside and outside of a raid. Hardcore raiders could now spec for that "situational" spec that offered a talent or two that were incredibly useful in one situation... but not so useful the majority of the time. Players also had the flexibility to have a PvE spec, as well as a PvP spec for doing battlegrounds or arenas... without having to spend obscene amounts of gold changing specs every day.

-Faction Change. There will likely always be folks out there who "complain" about people who faction change, and whether they are "true" horde/alliance.

It's a video game. Who cares if you weren't one faction from the beginning or not. I faction changed to Horde earlier this year... and I'm loving every minute of being a part of the Horde.

Does it make me any better/worse of a player? Nope. I do however look a whole lot cooler, as well as feel much more like a badass because I get to have Hellscream as a leader come Cataclysm.

The reason I chalk this up as a win is because never before has the game been more accessible for friends to be able to play the game together... without having to completely re-roll. It's also nice for those that may be getting bored with their faction and want a change of scenery.

-Built in Equipment Manager. Not having to update an addon after a patch to manage your 19087120397 different sets of gear is a simple, and often overlooked feature that can make life much easier.

-The "Disenchant" option on the loot roll window. It's about time... enough said.

-The new cross-realm LFG system. Even though it's only been out a few weeks, I feel that this new LFG system is probably the best thing to come to WoW this year... and maybe since the game was released (with the exception of raid-wide buffs, of course).

For a guy like me, who hates questing but loves running instances... this system is a dream-come-true when it comes to leveling alts.

The LFG system doesn't only work great at level 80 either... I ran quite a few level 20-25 instances the other night. The ability to be able to quest or do dailies instead of having to sit around in a city trying to find a group is awesome. There seems to be a bit of a tank shortage, but hopefully that'll change with Cataclysm.

The only downside of this system, is the fact that you can't be queued for Battlegrounds or Raids in the LFR system at the same time. The Battleground restriction makes sense to me... but not being able to be queued for Raids when they are still realm specific and can take a while to form just seems counter-productive to me. I'm sure it's due to some technical limitation... but it'd still be nice if you could be queued for both at the same time.

Mongrr Metal Update: Top 10 Metal tracks of 2009

I will say that although Tool did not have a new album out this last year, overall, 2009 was a pretty good year if you're a metal fanatic.

Due to the holidays pretty much being over, and I finally have some free time on my hands... I've decided to put a list of my favorite metal tracks released during 2009.

This was a very hard list to narrow down... but here it goes:


"The Consciousness Eaters" by Scar Symmetry


"Esoteric" by Skyfire


"In Ashes They Shall Reap" by Hatebreed


"Broken Hands" by Lamb of God


"Before the Damned" by All that Remains


"The Venom Inside" by Chimaira


"Resurrection Blvd." by Devildriver


"Stockholm Syndrome" by God Forbid


"Cypher Drone" by Disarmonia Mundi


"World Painted Blood" by Slayer