Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Favourite playable race

Response to http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/06/25/community-blog-topic-what-is-your-favorite-playable-race/

EDIT: featured! http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/07/04/community-blog-topic-results-favorite-playable-race/

I see three tangents for this topic: Racials, Lore and Animations.

So let's start with racials. Each race has a passive ability or two such as a bonus to hit with certain weapons and/or a bonus to a certain profession. The profession bonuses only really have an effect at the beginning where instead of starting at 1 engineering (Gnomes) you start a little further up the profession ladder at 15, saving you at most a handful of copper bars. When new expansions hit you'll be a little higher up too, but those first few skill points often come easily creating things you'll need for later skill up's anyway so to be honest I see profession bonuses as holding very little to write home about.

Anyone serious about min-maxing their character will choose a Pandaren; quite simply with their racial that gives a double effect to food buffs they are the best choice for raid performance. No matter what class you play, the bonus to a primary stat will almost always out perform any other racial in game, I think with the exception of those who have the legendary meta gem where a Goblins bonus to haste out performs the food buff advantage for certain class/specs (and that'll only hold up whilst the legendary is current). The bonus to rested experience is also handy for those who want to level faster.

The next most popular and talked about racial is definitely Humans. Every man for himself is great for pvp, the bonus to reputation is noticeable and the extra spirit is good for healers/hybrids. Mace and Sword specialisation only really help when you just so happen to get such a weapon, but I don't think anyone would turn down an upgrade that doesn't benefit their racial.

Sticking with Alliance, Draenei have always struck me as having an odd combination of racials, the healing cool down is great (especially for healers and pvp) but the hit barely benefits healers at all.

Gnomes have a watered down version of every man for himself which I've found to be great for pvp as you can double trinket say a stun and then a snare. Their shortblade specialisation benefits casters and melee, but sadly expansive mind now only affects your mana pool and not your intellect.

The Night Elf quickness ability is without doubt the best for bear tanks, but sadly their other talents are rather lacklustre. Shadowmeld can be used to save on repair bills, or for rogues to re enter stealth when vanish is on cool down. Night Elves used to be a very popular choice for rogues as they had the highest base agility but I believe this is no longer the case.

I think the only thing to say about Dwarves would have to have the words Priest and Onyxia in the same sentence for vanilla players.

As for the Horde, Goblins have a very popular haste boost which is great for casters and their rocket jump can be great for hopping around, the bonus bank access is a nice perk too.

Orc Blood Fury is wonderful for dps, especially during execute and burn phases, the other bonuses are rather situational.

Blood Elves and Tauren both get an AoE stun/interrupt which was a huge advantage for Cho'Gall (and probably a couple of other fights too) but their other perks are exceptionally "meh!"

Trolls and Forsaken have a nice passive health regen, and Trolls get a dps cool down to boot.

Lore wise I have to agree Forsaken really stand out as having one of the most interesting backstories and I love being able to go into the throne room from the Warcraft III cinematic where Medeivh first appeared to Menethil and later Arthas committed patricide. However I hate Undercity and frequently get lost there. Real shame the battle at the end of the Wrathgate quest line was removed, that really was a great quest.

I always felt that the Draenei missed a trick with the Broken in lore, there are a couple below the Exodar and none in the Draenei starting area quests as they're almost exclusively in Black Temple. I think it would be nice if some are involved with the first few combat training quests as they're supposed to be good spies and warriors.
Female Draenai are definately one of the most asthetic models... their curvature, the horns and I had a guild mate who once thought that those tentacles sprouting from behind their ears were an erogenous zone!

As far as animation is concerned, Tauren are the largest of all playable races and due to model scaling their mounts appear much larger; always amuses me in glory of the raider screenshots. Bizarrely Gnomes also have enlarged mounts despite being one of the smallest races.

The vanilla races aren't as graphically up to date as the newest ones, Goblins especially look much better in my opinion as their models have the best shading.

So, what is my favourite playable race?

Definitely Gnomes.

The crazy hairstyles, their friendly demeanour, the oddball moustaches, the wonderful community-based insanity present in fan based comics and machinima, the odd in-game quirks like how in the Sapphiron fight if a gnome gets targeted by Ice Bolt, full size players must kneel or sit down to avoid getting hit by frost breath ("My, you're a tall one!"). It's incredible how a quirky race overcame the tragic loss of their city to emerge optimistic and unbroken by the ordeal, with a real sense of ambition that can sometimes backfire; who'll ever forget Willfred Fizzlebang's demise at the hands of Jaraxxus?

Operation: Gnomeregan was wonderful fun and really encapsulated the Gnomes sense of fun, adventure and the overuse of engineering gadgets to achieve their goals.

Then there's the comedy quest rewards such as the helm from Netherstorm that sends the user flying up in the air for onlookers amusement and probably lots more I can't remember... One things for sure, the game would be a darker place without Gnomes around.

Second place would have to be Goblins if only for the "Doom Juice" spiel that had me in fits of laughter whilst waiting for a zep to Twilight Highlands.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Most memorable moment in PvP

This subject is as clear as day to me, whilst there are many contenders there's one clear winner.

I used to really enjoy running random battleground's with a couple of friends, we'd start up a skype call and stick together, playing as an organised arena team against a set of random players. It's the only way to run battlegrounds and by comparison going in alone is not only boring it just seemed silly.
I would go into bg's alone from time to time and it was certainly gratifying to have those clutch moments, Aff locks used to get a lot of passive self healing through glyphs and talents (as well as haunt and drain life) so as an affliction lock it wasn't uncommon for me to do more damage than anyone else and die infrequently. Healthstones and soulstones certainly helped, there are few things funnier than dot dot fearing 2 or 3 players at the same time, slowly tapping at their health whilst they kill your ally and then grind you down, only to have them kill you and be at 25% health for you to resurrect via a soulstone once they turn around and you can finish them off.

Once had a similar moment in a 2's arena where they both killed my warrior pal and I managed to hold them off and win the match, was a great feeling for sure but sadly he quit playing shortly after.

Best thing I learned from going into bg's alone, make a macro saying that %t = healer. Whenever you're the only guy attacking him, hit the macro and suddenly your team mates will start attacking the right targets. Makes a huge difference.

My favourite bg was Arathi Basin. I loved it. I wasn't a fan of the similar Battle for Gilneas - the map is too small and it's too hard to cap flags. I wanted to like it but it never played out too well.

The guys I'd bg with were nothing if not entertaining, it wasn't uncommon for us all to be in fits of laughter the whole time and that's really what enjoying the game is all about.
I had one of those 3 seater mammoth mounts and I loved playing with a friend of mine (priest). We'd run straight to a base and he would aoe fear at the dismount, then start capping the flag. I'd follow the feared defenders and aoe fear them again as soon as the first wore off. by the time the second fear wore off my friend had pretty much capped the flag. Worked really really well, every time.

So anyway, most memorable pvp moment... I was in Arathi Basin with a couple of friends, together we were two rogues and a shaman. The shaman was busy defending somewhere when us two stealthies wandered over to the gold mine. It was defended by a warrior and a DK. great we thought, this'll be fun. My friend sapped the DK and opened on the Warrior. I waited by the DK, re-sapped him just before the previous sap wore off and opened on the Warrior. Before the 2nd sap on the DK wore off, the warrior was dead and we had both vanished. Watching the DK shit bricks knowing that he was next was great, he popped blood boil and death & decay trying to find us, knowing what was coming and we laughed together on skype. My friend asked:
"do you want to open on him and I'll distract the warrior when he rezzes from the graveyard?"
"no" I replied, "let's leave him there."
My friend and I laughed really hard and we both decided that if we just left the suspense of getting gibbed with the DK and the warrior when he returned it'd be much funnier. We made our way to the farm to find a bunch of reinforcements making their way to the gold mine (the warrior obviously called for help in bg chat) so we capped the farm without opposition then made our way over to the blacksmith.

I'm glad we left that DK alive, made for a much better story.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Cata Sub Rogue

Response to http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/06/16/community-blog-topic-what-is-your-favorite-class-and-spec/

EDIT: Featured! http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/06/24/community-blog-topic-results-favorite-class-and-spec/#continued

I loved playing a subtlety Rogue in Cataclysm.

Having played most classes and specs I found that at that time in the game it was definitely the most difficult and rewarding (damage output wise). You had to use your finishers to maintain uptime of 3 buffs/debuffs (Slice and Dice, Eviscerate to refresh Rupture, Recuperate for the bonus health/energy regeneration), maintain Haemorrhage (+ bleed damage) unless someone else in the raid was doing it and of course use any survival cool downs, interrupt and move out of the poop.

If you got your rotation and finishers right, you'd be nothing special. The niche lay in using Shadowdance, Vanish and Preparation to maximise the expose weakness debuff at the right times (eg not before SnD was about to fall off) whilst executing everything else flawlessly. If done really well the damage meters would make you stand out but it was very difficult to do perfectly. It was that level of difficulty that I really liked. At the time there were very few sub rogues about as most players simply found it too difficult. I got so many whispers after running Baradin Hold asking how my damage was so high and people saying that I shouldn't be doing that much in my gear so they'd be reporting me for cheating. It's funny that a lot of people just don't believe some people really are better than they are. I remember nine manning Argaloth with only one tank early on when most people didn't have the dps to beat enrage; few people I told that story to ever believed me and I couldn't be bothered to argue with them.

Combat as a sub rogue would go something like this:

Target the boss and ask healers to over-heal until you get 5 CP’s on the boss. I would usually /w a resto druid or shaman a little while before combat so their trinket procs would be off cool down before the pull, but some liked them being on cd as there’s never much healing to be done in the first 30 secs or so (with the obvious exception being HC Halfus who puts out a hell of a lot of damage early on in the fight).

Hit Tricks macro 20 secs before pull.

Pop SnD or Recoup just before the pull.

Use “+stealth opener” macro to get into combat, I had premed, shadow-step, ambush and backstab all tied to one macro and spammed it until I had 5 CP’s.

Use backstab to build CP’s interweave Hemo before it drops off if you're the "mangle bot", hit Rupture early then use Eviscerate to refresh it. Maintain a rhythm of SnD, Recoup and Eviscerate finishers from then on throughout the fight; usually had to do them in order and I’d usually find myself refreshing them just a couple of seconds before they would fall off.

After refreshing SnD and then Recoup I’d hit Shadowdance then spam that “+stealth opener” macro to get the expose weakness buff. During Shadowdance I'd hit nothing but that macro and Eviscerate. Whilst the expose weakness buff is active I could usually maintain Eviscerate finishers for the duration (hence why it’s so important to refresh SnD and Recoup before Shadow-dance “burn” phases as you really don't want to be refreshing SnD/recoup whilst expose weakness was up).

By the time expose weakness fell off it’s time to refresh SnD and Recoup.

Hit Vanish, pop macro, expose weakness, go back to burn phase.

Depending on fight mechanics, either wait for shadow dance to come off cool down or hit prep so you could shadow dance or vanish again and get back to the burn phase.

Other things you might need to do during a fight include using tricks on either the tank or another rogue, feint to drop threat or reduce damage (threat wasn’t usually an issue in Cata), redirect when target switching, sprint when movement was involved, cloak to remove magic debuffs, shiv to dispel enrages oh and of course interrupt the boss!
There were a few abilities I hardly ever used; garotte, cheap shot and kidney shot had little use in a raid environment as most bosses were immune to those sort of things, and I found I had a lot of buttons that just didn't need to be used very often.

How I made it easier on myself:

I always found having an interrupt bound to a hotkey helped except on fights where you had to use feint to soak damage in which case I’d switch the interrupt for feint. In either case it's good to have the button where you can hit it without thinking.

I used TellMeWhen (addon) to highlight important buffs/debuffs I needed to keep track of. I used power auras to keep track of my combo points and set it up so that it would make a noise when my target or focus cast something I had to interrupt.

The way Serrated blades worked it was a gamble using Eviscerate to refresh Rupture at anything less than 5 combo points as it had a 20% chance per combo point to refresh it, so if you hit it at 2 the odds on it “working” was only 40%. I had some micro thrills when those gambles paid off as having to re-cast rupture was quite the dps loss as 5CP finishers should really be used elsewhere.

So yeah, sub rogues – very challenging compared to the “cast X unless Y is off cool down” play style of a lot of classes but the challenge and difficulty is what drew me to it. I had to go Combat for Ultraxion (also made trash easier) but I found it a very boring spec to play, was far too simple for my liking. I regret never really giving assasination a good attempt but for all I could tell it wasn't that different to combat really, as most of the damage came passively from poisons.