… And We’re Moving For Real

July 12, 2012

So, I’ve had some webspace for some time, and I finally decided to get around to installing WordPress, and moving the blog over there. So, this will be the last post here. For those of you trying who want to listen to my nonsense, point your browswer to http://www.thegrumpymage.com


Moving Right Along…

July 11, 2012

So, not been playing much WoW in the last year or so. I’ve kept my account alive, mostly to get D3 when it came out, but I just can’t seem to work up any real enthusiasm to play. Some of that’s lack of people to play with, but mostly, it’s just that I’ve burnt out on doing the same stuff over and over again. The basic paradigm of WoW (and I imagine most MMOs) is that unless you’re in an active raiding guild, you’ve not going to see end-game content, and I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to devote to that: finding a guild with a compatible raiding-schedule, establishing myself with it, etcetera, etcetera.

I did discover a real liking for PvP, but even that is really tough to go alone on an ongoing basis. Happily, a friend at work turned me on to MOBAs, Multi-player Online Battle Arenas, and most significantly, free to play MOBAs. I never played Defense of the Ancients, which was a clever mod in Warcraft III, but I’m given to understand that it basically spawned the genre. I started playing League Of Legends, and found I really enjoyed it. For those that haven’t partaken, the premise is simple. Two teams, usually of five players, go head to head on a standard map. Each player selects a different toon, referred to as champions or heroes,  from a predefined stable.  Each toon has a different set of abilities, etc. They start at level 1, and gain experience by killing the other teams minions. As they gain levels, they gain their abilities, and can buy various items to increase their capabilities. The object of the game is to destroy the other teams towers, and ultimately their base/Ancient/whatever term the game uses. Matches last anywhere from twenty minutes, to about an hour and a half, at most.

Unlike WoW PvP, there are no “best in slot’ items. Different heroes prefer different items, of course, but even then, the “item build” will vary greatly from match to match, depending on your teams composition, the opposing teams composition, and what the opposing team is doing. One match you may need more armor, the next, more magic-resistance.

Perhaps most importantly, to me, is that the MOBA vendors are at least trying to do what Blizzard failed to even attempt – cut down on the abuse between players. Players are penalized if they leave a match. There are real reporting systems, with teeth, that can be used if a player is just being a regal ass-hat to his teammates. Obviously, you can’t do away with player rage altogether, but the short match length, and the option to report a player, and know that it will actually be investigated, helps my state of mind, anyway.

Most recently, Valve has recreated the original DotA, using the Source engine. My understanding is that one of the original DotA developers is in charge of the project. DotA 2 is currently in late beta, and happily, I was able to get in on it, so that’s been chewing up most of my computer time lately. There seem to be remarkably few balance issues. I spend a lot of time playing against bots, as DotA 2 is a definite step up from League of Legends, difficulty-wise, but when my co-worker is on, he and I usually play, and I’ve held my own pretty well.



Battleground Common Sense

February 22, 2011

So, I finished the weekend just dinging level 69 on Lirys. Last night, I decided to watch House M.D., so I only got a few battlegrounds in. I ended up doing two more this morning, before work, and hitting level 70. The rest of my “pre-work” time was spent flying out to Tanaris to talk to the Legacy Arena vendors, and getting outfitted in my Brutal Gladiator’s set. This evening, I’ll be doing enchants, gemming, etc., before I set out on the next leg of the my climb to 85.

The weekend was pretty frustrating at times. More and more, I found myself wanting to do what I despise, and go off on teammates because of just plain lack of common sense. If there’s one thing worse than someone who hasn’t a clue what to do in a battleground, and refuses to spend a half hour reading any one of the hundreds of posts on the subject, it’s someone who obviously has read those posts, and then turns off their brain.

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February 16, 2011

So, in a reply to my last post, Repgrind mentioned that she now has four  85s, and some nights runs a heroic on each, and that pretty much kills the entire night.  It reminded me of a thought the other day that I had. How does she do it, and not get burnt out???

I played Lajos (now Layjos) for a couple years straight, almost exclusively. Some drama hit, and about August or so of last year, I found my enthusiasm for WoW completely gone. I decided to take a break, and wait for Cataclysm to come out. So Cataclysm hit, I ended up doing a server transfer, and I’m still finding my enthusiasm for the mage to be lagging. I’ve got 50+ mounts, 75+ pets, and a ton of titles. Lots and lots of work into that toon, and I’ve decided I’m pretty much done for now. If our guild starts raiding, I’ll be available, and Caraway and I have discussed arena, but my “minute to minute” motivation isn’t centered around the mage.

Enter my gnomie-lock. I’ve been having a ball, as I’ve expressed in my last couple posts. So obviously, my WoW-mojo isn’t gone. So I have to come to the conclusion that I’m just burnt out on the mage. Which leads me back to Repgrind’s remark. She has choices, options, and apparently, that helps buffer the burn-out. Pretty obvious, actually.

So, I indicated before that I thought affliction was over my head at the moment, and besides, I was enjoying the boom factor of destruction.  But, in doing research, I came across some things that really resonated with me, and last night, I decided to flip back over to affliction. I saw one statement in particular, that really resonated to me: You should be pulling targets to you, not running to them. And yes, I’ve remarked on it before, my biggest problem in battlegrounds is I get so gung-ho team-wise that I charge in, find my teammates dead, and find myself facing multiple opponents, and that doesn’t usually go well. That simple statement – and yes, a lot of hours in the battlegrounds – brought it into focus for me.

Probably my biggest “BOO-YA!” moment last night was in EotS. We grabbed Mage Tower, and Draenei Ruins off the bat, and set about going after the flag. I used my handy dandy telescope to zoom in on Fel Reiver, and saw all the Hordies there bail, and head towards the flag. So, I mounted up, and headed out, and did a solo capture. Yeah, I knew there had to be a rogue around somewhere, and sure enough, he opened on me. I trinketed, jumped, Death Coiled him to get some space, tossed Curse of Exhaustion on him, and dotted him up, and finished him off. He came back less than a minute later, and died again. Then he brought a friend. By that time, I’d used my Healthstone, and my cooldowns weren’t cleared yet. I died, but by that time, some teammates were arriving on the scene, and cleaned up my mess.

Moments like these are a joy. It isn’t about an arena rating, or how good I am, or how good the opponent was or wasn’t, it’s about the realization setting in “I can do this!” At this point in time, every time I beat an opponent, I tend to shrug it off as “he must not have been very good”. It’s going to take awhile for me to be comfortable saying “Yeah, I pwned him that time.” But it’s coming.








Putting the “War” in Warlock

February 14, 2011

Blame in on Repgrind. She led me into temptation, and pointed me to The Dark Side.

Last spring, she asked me to play a warlock in the Arena Tournament, to fill out a 3s team with her and Fiak. At that point, I had played a little lock (no pun intended), but I was primarily focused on mage. I decided, what the hey, why not? We got in our 50 matches, got our pets, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

While I was boning up on lock, I started playing Liris, on Winterhoof. One of the things I discovered, in passing, was how much fun battlegrounds are with a warlock. So, after working my disc priest up into the 50s, and finding myself lost trying to heal in battlegrounds, I decided I wanted to play my little gnomie-lock again. “Liris” was taken, so she became Lirys Only now, the battleground brackets are 5 levels wide, and start at level 10. I didn’t start at 10, as I was on a questing roll, but soon thereafter, and from that point, probably 80% of her experience has come from battlegrounds. She rolled into this weekend at 51 or 52, and last night, I finished up at 62, pretty much all of it in battlegrounds. Over this last week, I did some of the holiday quests, turned in a few charm bracelets, and had Nick run me through Stratholme, in search of a couple nice gear items (what is with the plate and mail drops???), but other than that, it’s pretty much been all battlegrounds, all the time. By the time I hit 60, I had over 5000 honorable kills, and enough honor to buy the Field Marshal’s Threads, my second set of Dryad’s Wrist Bindings, after having bought most of the useful PvP gear up to that point, and still have a couple thousand honor left over. I snagged a Felheart Belt off the Auction House, and the Grand Marshal’s Mageblade and the Grand Marshal’s Tome of Power as well, and jumped into the new bracket, with almost double the health.

After a few battlegrounds, I’m contemplating dropping back to my Grand Staff of Jordan for the extra resilience. There was a hunter on my team talking about his 8K crits, and I was getting outright owned by rogues, so I need to look at more damage mitigation.

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea of leveling completely through the battlegrounds. Blizzard has made this a viable option, for the most part. With my two BoA pieces, plus the 5% bonus from our guild, a winning Alterac Valley would yield over 50k experience around level 50. Even dropping those two pieces, a losing AB or EotS is giving me 9k experience. The best part? Instead of spending my time doing quest chains – some of which, I hasten to add, are simply awesome – I can spend my time at the auction house, leveling professions, or reading, all while queued for a random battleground. So while not necessarily being the fastest or most efficient way to level, it may be more efficient overall.

The biggest problem, of course, is gear disparity. There are relatively few PvP pieces available on the way up, and they fall in level increments of 10. Of course, at lower levels, resilience isn’t as critical as it is at higher levels. I just stacked lots of stamina, and had Layjos make a trip out to Old Hillsbrad once in awhile to fill up a couple bags with Rumsey Rum Black Label every so often, and all in all, I generally do pretty good. Once DKs entered the picture at the 55-59 bracket, things got tricker, as a leveling lock has very few escape mechanisms. Essentially, I’ve got a 5 minute trinket, and a 3 minute escape with Death Coil. Fear? Too long a cast time when a rogue is carving you up, or a DK/pally/warrior is chopping you into kindling. Howl of Terror, likewise, unless you spec it to insta-cast via Affliction.

I struggled with Affliction, though. For Affliction to really rock, you have to DoT everything in sight. I’ve always had a problem with tab-targeting in general, and the Soul-Swap Inhale/Exhale mechanic isn’t going to really shine if you’re not using it. Additionally, on the way up, not all the spells were there yet. I decided at 30 to try Destro, and liked it. My off-spec is still Affliction, though, so I’ll be playing it occasionally.

Back to gear. At level 85, you can buy a full set of PvP gear with honor, before going for the Arena sets. On the way up, however, you have very few choices, as far as outright PvP gear goes. Almost invariably, you’re going to have to run instances or do quests for gear.  Which takes time away from the battlegrounds and other stuff. Here’s the rub… Lirys is 62 right now. Just doing BGs in the evening, I’m pretty confident I can get her to 65 in a night or two. On the other hand, if I spend that time doing LFG, I may get a couple nice pieces of gear (or I may get drops that aren’t any good to me), I may get a couple of levels, I may… you get the picture. Oh, and I may catch a ration of shit from the other people in the random who see PvP gear, and automatically assume you’re going to .  Yes, what she’s wearing are PvP  pieces. However, if I go out on Wowhead, and do a find upgrade for any of those set pieces, most of what I’m seeing is “drops in Ruins of Ahn Qiraj” or “Drops in Blood Furnace”. Here and there, I see “quests – Zangarmarsh”, but those are a minority. And don’t forget, that’s with the PvE stat weighting. Just out of curiosity, I’ve done a few comparisons with other warlocks of similar level off of WoWHead, making sure on the Wowarmory that they’re still active. Lirys Health, Mana, and Spellpower, in general, compare favorably to locks at least a couple levels greater.

In the short term, I have an easy choice. I can go out to Hellfire in the mornings, and do the world PvP quest to get Honor Hold Marks of Honor, and get the Circlet of the Victor and the Band of the Victor. I could go for the Seal of the Exorcist, however, it costs 50 Spirit Shards. Which can only be gained from running Auchindoin instances, and then only when the 5 towers are in Alliance Hands. Um, no thanks. Not good bang for the buck. By the time I get 50 Spirit Shards, I’ll be knocking on level 70.  So, it looks like I’m going to be spending time in Hellfire. Assuming, of course, there’s anyone on the Horde side capturing the towers back.

Long term, it gets harder, and I can only think that this is going to be the norm from here on out.  Get to the “zero” level (i.e. 60,70,80) and get the new set, then augment with off-set pieces from the auction house, or specific quests that I can knock out quickly.

I’ve been giving thought to professions, as well. Initially, I took engineering, for the “gadget” factor. However, when it gets right down to it, I’ve been a bit disappointed with it for PvP. I have yet to notice a real effect from bombs in a battleground. The engineering headpieces are great, if you’re twinking, but for a profession that is damnably expensive to level, it hasn’t been really helpful. Nitro-boosts/rocket boots are awesome for getting away – if you have  a chance to pop them in time, and you can’t carry a flag with them, and you can’t use them in an Arena. To be honest, it may be me. In the heat of combat, bombs, etc. are just one more thing that my mental “what do I do next” sub-routine has to do. I’m going to make a point to think ahead, and fling more bombs over the next few evenings, and see if maybe I’ve just been doing it wrong.

Alchemy, on the other hand, has served me well.  Something as cheap and simple as a Swiftness Potion, for example. I can’t wait until I can make and use elixirs that last through death. Bang for the buck. And best of all, with the exception of something like Swiftness, you have time to consciously think about what you’re doing.

Given the way I’m playing this toon, I’m thinking  taking up herbalism would make more sense. It’s relatively quick and cheap to level, and I can do it while I’m waiting for the queue to pop. I can make money off of it, and support my alchemy. Not to mention Lifeblood has become very interesting, with a combination Heal/Haste buff.

Gear concerns aside, though, I’m simply having a blast.


A Lock on PvP, and Arcane Shatter Revisited

January 27, 2011

It’s a fair statement to say that for the most part, Cataclysm so far has been about PvP for me. Yes, I’ve done a fair amount of questing, and I’m very impressed with the new areas. Yes, I’ve run some instances, and what I’ve seen has been great. But until our guild has the class distribution to regularly run a full guild-manned 5-man, I’m not really that concerned with the PvE side.

I dabbled a bit in Frost, but with all I’m trying to take in with the game in general, there’s a lot going on with Frost, so I’ve so far pretty much stuck with Arcane. This week has been a challenge, since my main computer decided on Monday to fry after a power outage. For the balance of the week, I’ve been on a laptop, and dealing with framerates sometimes in single digits. Not good for PvP, but finally by lowering all the settings, I’ve gotten it at least playable.

Lately I’ve been splitting time between my leveling warlock, Lirys,  and Layjos. Layjos got his PvP robe last night, and pushed his resilience up significantly, so he’s a bit less fragile. Despite fighting framerates, and trying to stay alive, I’ve actually noticed a couple clear times when the shatter aspect of my arcane spec has proven itself out. Last night in Tol Barad, I froze an opponent (and it happened so fast that I didn’t even notice the class. I believe it was a blood elf) and hit a PoM+Arcane Blast that one shotted them. To put that in context, I don’t know how much health they had, what class they were, etcetera, so that’s not particularly impressive. It was just more a proof of concept.

The biggest problem of my new Arcane Shatter spec is that it lacks the mobility of the earlier spec, and I’m not sure where I got the “triple damage crit” idea in my head. In the old days, so to speak, you could use Rank 1 Frost Bolt, which is no longer an option. The slowing effect of Nether Vortex is nice, but you still have to get Arcane Blast off, which with a 2+ second cast time, can be problematic.

Part of the issue, of course, is that I need to get better at fake casting. Last night, in particular, I was being interrupted constantly, often by a mage I barely saw in the melee. Annoying, but a necessary lesson. Frost Bolt is still an option, but unless I seriously stack haste, foregoing mastery, I don’t think it’s a significant difference.

PoM + Arcane Blast is still an option, but the cooldown on PoM prohibits relying on it. Frankly, I think I’m better served using it with Polymorph to set up opponents.

My ‘lock, on the other hand, has been a blast. Last weekend, during the Warsong Gulch Call to Arms, I went from level 23, to level 34, with 90% of it being in the battlegrounds. She’s taken a beating at the lower levels of the brackets, of course, but there was till the consolation, after being war-stomped and then two-shotted by some Tauren, of seing “Killing Blow ” and some opponents name float up my screen. Once the honor started flowing in, and I was able to start stacking some stamina, things improved. And let’s face it, I’ve just gotten better, getting back into the swing of things after a long layoff. There are still some similar challenges – Fear’s long cast time, for one, and relative squishiness, for another – but I’ve also not been utilizing a lot of mechanics as much as I should. Soulburn, for instance.

Time to revisit my macros, revisit my mechanics, and revisit my tactics. But that’s part of the fun.


Taking One’s Time, and Taking One’s Lumps

January 20, 2011

What a concept!

We had an interesting discussion in guild chat last night. Caraway, our GM, is a pally tank, and was raging about pugs wanting to rush through the content, and wanting the tank to know every fight going in. One of the other members chimed in, and noted that this is pretty much how WoW is played. Before you tackle content, you read up on it, make sure you’re geared, gemmed, enchanted appropriately, etc.

Caraway made a couple very good points last night. One sounded very familiar. Blizzard worked on Cataclysm for over two years. Why does everyone try to finish it as fast as possible? Hmmm…. I’m fairly certain I heard similar rumblings from a mage that shall remain nameless, during Wrath.

The other, and more telling, point Caraway made, was that somewhere, sometime, someone went through this content without the benefit of guides, advice, perfectly tuned gear and specs, etc. Does that somehow mean that they’re better, smarter, or more capable than we? I really doubt most of us would say “well, yeah! They’re WoW gods!” The fact of the matter is, they were lucky enough to get into beta, and have a crack at it. Or, on the Live realms, chances are their guild had a commitment to be the first, and they tackled it blind.

One of our other members chimed in with some valid points. It’s very hard to find people who are willing to tackle content that way. Most people are caught up in the “NEED MOAR GEER!” mindset. And further, they look upon anyone who doesn’t know the fights as a noob.

Um, no. All it means is they don’t know the fight. They may know how to play their class perfectly well. Which Caraway proved in a pug last night by turning off chat bubbles, switching to the combat log, and tanking Blackrock Caverns, successfully, without any prior prep.

Caraway and I work together, and we started talking about last night’s chat, and he came up with an idea that I quickly band-wagoned on. Moonlight Requiem is the most casual of guilds. Basically, you have people to talk to on guild-chat, and we try help each other as we can, but no one really makes a point of helping someone level, or whatever. When one of our members was getting ganked in Hyjal, I dropped what I was doing and went to help. those of us that know each other outside the game will run together somewhat. Things are pretty loose, though. Which, given my own distaste for pugs, has been a bit of a drag.

However, that may be about to change. Caraway announced to me this morning that we’re forming our own Explorer’s League, within the guild. He’s completely committed to people doing their own thing, and keeping things casual, but last night reinforced the problem with the prevailing view in WoW, and this is how we hope to resolve it in our little corner of Azeroth.

The Explorer’s League is going to be for those players who don’t want to rush through content as fast as possible, as painlessly as possible. We’re not excluding anyone; they’re welcome to run with us. Just don’t tell us how to play. Our devil’s advocate made a good point last night: “So, what if I know the fight? What, am I supposed to pretend I don’t?” Nope. Play your toon. Just don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

See, what get’s lost in the heat of discussion is a simple fact of human evolution. If someone constantly solves your problems for you, you never learn to solve problems yourself. As a parent, I’ve spent my last fifteen-plus years letting my kids go through unpleasant experiences that I might have spared them. It’s hard, especially as a parent. But that’s the only way they really learn. You can tell someone not to stand in the fire. But until they stand in it for themselves, and die, sometimes it just doesn’t sink in.

It’s an experiment. I’m optimistic that it will be a productive one.