I don't want to invoke BTPNTC again, but it's a common perception that one of the goals in class balance in Wrath has been to bring the damage various DPS specs more in line with each other. This, in turn, has raised questions like "if a feral druid does as much damage as a rogue, what's the point of the rogue?" This question is arguable, but fortunately, that lovable crustacean Ghostcrawler has laid bare the developers' goal for how the classes should be positioned relatively in terms of DPS.
Here it is:
Hunters, mages, rogues, and warlocks.
It's important to note that the gap between 1 and 2 is meant to be quite small, and that it will probably be swallowed up by gear, player skill, and the particulars of individual encounters in most cases. As GC puts it, "If you know your class cold, I mean really know it, then there is no reason you can't be topping meters."
I think this is a good design goal. The pure classes have a slight edge, but skilled players of any class should do well. Of course, we're not quite there yet, class balance being a perennially moving target, but they're working on it.
Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. After playing around some more on the PTR, Matt's got some more extended thoughts.
That's a picture of the upgraded Penance! It looks really weird when you cast it on yourself. I imagined that the bolts would fly forward before arcing skyward and back down towards the original caster. Too much to hope for sadly. Maybe in a future patch!
Hymn of Hope makes its triumphant return back to the Priest arsenal! For the past week, I've been receiving emails and DMs on Twitter asking me the same question:
Why put in a Hymn of Hope glyph if Hymn of Hope is going to be removed?
My personal theory is that it was just a general brain fart. Upon closer inspection and reflection, the motive's a bit different. We know Resto Shaman mana regeneration is the new standard that all healing classes are going to reach. Perhaps the theory is to nuke certain Priestly mana regenerative capabilities and then start from there.
And that seems to be Drayner's main issue with Blizzard: they aren't consistent on twinking. They'll make changes that level the twink field, and then they'll ignore bugs that almost completely break it. They kept the latest enchants off of players below level 60, but then they grandfathered in players with the 450 profession buffs. He's got a whole list of changes they've made for and against twinking, and basically asks Blizzard to either support twinking, or (and obviously he's less happy with this decision) end it for good.
Unfortunately for him, he probably won't get an answer. There are plenty of players twinking, but not nearly enough for Blizzard to consider making changes based on twinks alone (and while twinks are howling at some of the changes, the rest of the player population either dislikes the whole idea of twinking, or couldn't care either way). And considering that twinking does draw some players into the game, it's not likely Blizzard will ditch it anytime either. Twinks, they would likely say, are playing a meta game already based on made-up rules, so why should it matter that they've also got to abide by other inconsistent rules? Based on what we've heard from them in the past, it seems twinking is a player creation, not a Blizzard creation, so it's up to players to deal with the issues, not Blizzard.
We suppose it had to happen at some point -- with PTR interest kicking in this past week, and the game having sold so many copies already, there had to be a point where something else jumped up above Wrath. But don't count the award winning expansion out of the number one spot yet. While Dawn of War II is getting reviewed very favorably, this little bump is likely due to an audience of fans who wanted to get the sequel on day one. Once first-week sales for that game level off, it's entirely likely that we'll see WotLK back up on top. Not that Blizzard needs any more money, of course. But it is good to be the (Lich) King.
But seriously, the press release says AT&T has been working with Blizzard on providing bandwidth and network monitoring for nine years already, and that they have multiple "Internet Data Centers" that provide global support of the network infrastructure that lets your character wander around Azeroth. AT&T isn't the only company Blizzard works with -- while their network provides the connections and bandwidth, the actual coding and the databases behind all of the action in WoW are another story, and Blizzard likely works with multiple big companies to make sure that all runs smoothly. AT&T provides the cables, but someone's got to help provide the servers and the code they're hooked up to.
Still, despite the jokes about the downtime, it's quite a feat. We're still interested in hearing more about the mechanics behind the World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, lots of this information is probably a trade secret at this point -- even if no other MMOs are coming close to WoW's numbers, Blizzard has probably come up with a lot of techniques they don't exactly want known to the public. But a look inside one of these "IDCs" or an idea of just what machines they're using to run a realm of WoW would be intriguing.
So maybe you don't have the kind of name recall as Leeroy Jenkins, and maybe you don't have the street cred of GotFrag TV's Kintt or the British accent of ESL's Joe and Zalmah -- but if you think you can commentate with the best of them, Blizzard's got the right contest for you. Blizzard is looking for the best people to do play-by-plays on Arena matches (dubbed Shoutcasting), so if you think you've got the chops, head over to the contest page and see what it's all about.
If you think you're the Dick Vitale of eSports (that's an interesting thought), go ahead and download the stock Arena tournament video on the contest page and dub over the best color commentary you can muster. The best entry will win a Dell Ultrasharp 3007WFP-HC Monitor as well as the code for a cool BlizzCon 2008 Polar Bear mount. Runners up will receive BlizzCon shirts and the mount. Contest ends on April 17, so get a-shoutin', just be sure to read the rules first.
Today, in addition to all of the questions I'm answering for you, I need all of you to answer a question for me. Hawaiian Pizza: Delicious, or Crazy Delicious? This is an important question, my friends. I need each and every one of you to contribute. It's for the good of mankind. Also, to prove my girlfriend wrong. It rules, does it not?
Are there any Ulduar achievements currently on the PTR? I'm guessing they aren't there yet, because we would have heard something about them if there were. Another question if I may, do the bosses on the PTR currently drop loot? Again probably not, for the same reason as above, but can't hurt to ask.
Retribution DPS too low - Wed, 04 Mar 2009 13:00:00 EST Ghostcrawler had one line to say about a flood of complaints from Retribution Paladins who are feeling the pinch of a restrictive tree, effectively ending the argument: Blizzard feels that Retribution DPS, particularly in PvE, is lower than how they would want it in 3.1. This comes in light of the changes in the upcoming patch, which on the surface seems like a good thing because of the slimming down of the tree and freeing up talent points.
What many players should understand is that unlike pure DPS trees or even other hybrids, Paladins simply don't have any room to be flexible. Retribution Paladins can pick up every damage-boosting talent already with points to spare, and there's just a DPS ceiling that simply can't be broken through. Whether Ghostcrawler's statement indicates that they'll be reversing the 3.1 nerf to Fanaticism and Righteous Vengeance remains to be seen.
We saw Origano's first machinima offering back in February, when he debuted with The Achiever - Rapid Defense. The video was interesting, but plagued with some soundtrack issues. However, it looks like he took that criticism to heart and is now back with the second installment, The Achiever - The Duelist.
The premise is the same. The main character (self-titled as Origano) is competing in a gameshow called the Achiever. This time, however, the Tauren protagonist has to win a duel. He starts out demanding equal opponents, and proceeds to have trouble with the arrangement. I don't want to give the story away, but it's a pretty nice progression of events. I think Origano is really showing promise with his story arrangements, though it could probably move at a little faster pace.
Origano's got some really good gags in here. The whole turtle lineup is pretty funny, and I love the shout out to those annoying toy trains. I think Origano's really starting to get his legs under him, and we should watch him closely to see how he grows as an artist.
Since the departure of BigRedKitty from our site, we haven't had many new videos for you to watch while idling at work. I decided to step up to fill this gap in programming by FRAPS'ing some of my adventures on the patch 3.1 PTR. With several changes to Rogues in this latest content release, I wanted to stay ahead of the curve by testing the modifications out before they are deployed to live servers.
There were reports of new animations for several spells, as well as moves that had been changed mechanically. Catching any bugs that had slipped through QA was also a top priority. I copied my Rogue over to the PvP PTR realm and started shooting, and the results of that labor follow after the cut. A few caveats: all videos were shot without UI addons or keybindings, and so I do click quite a few of my abilities. I tried out five specs in about 30 minutes, and so my action bars are also disheveled. That said, let's review the videos.
When Lurial of <The Dottagers> on Turalyon-EU ran out of her pre-paid game time, she was booted off the game during the middle of an Eye of Eternity run. After a frantic renewal of her subscription, she logged back in to find this scene in Dalaran. Apparently Lurial wasn't the only person not to pay a subscription -- it seems that the good leaders of the Kirin Tor have forgotten to pay the electric bill again, with dire consequences for the city's residents. I guess the streetlights are battery-powered. Either that or Lurial caught them in the process of moving the city again. (Actually, it's just a graphics bug, but it's quite a nice one.)
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
We here at WoW Insider and others around the WoW community have talked so much about the term "bring the player, not the class" that I'm a little surprised we haven't started shortening it to "BTPNTC." But apparently I, at least, have not really understood what Blizzard meant by it when they said it was part of their new philosophy of balancing for raids.
Ghostcrawler basically QFTs another forum poster who said the following: "Blizzard has repeatedly stated they didn't mean any class will be identical to all other classes in effectiveness for your last raid slot. Blizzard has provided a bunch of options you can choose from to get Replenishment, but expects you to choose one of those options. If any choice were a valid choice, there would be no incentive to think about the choice you make. Blizzard wants you to think about your group composition."
As you may have gathered, this is in the contest of "A plea to remove Replenishment." What Blizzard, then, apparently means by BTPNTC is that it's now easier to get your (semi-)required buff and debuff coverage, not that you can do it with any old group. Sort of like threat for tanks, the mini-game of group composition has been made easier, but not made a non-issue. Honestly, I do think Replenishment should be removed - I don't see how requiring my 10-man raid to bring one of five specific DPS specs, or face the consequences, makes the game more fun. But it's good to have some insight into the developers' mindset.
Toys inside a game. Just how good can things get? I'm a huge fan of toys, you see, so when there's an opportunity to exercise this little obsession, I indulge in it. So when I heard about the toy shop in Dalaran, I was absolutely thrilled. I got myself the Train Set (well, actually, my wife gave me the money to buy it), and proceeded to disrupt every raid I could. Of course, when the train destroyer comes to town, I'm picking one up, too, just to be able to make my own train wreck.
What other toys would you like to see in-game? I mean, Upper Deck's next expansion, the Blood of Gladiators, has a bunch of new stuff for us to play with. Foam swords and a sandbox spectral tiger (just in case you never lucked out or could afford the real one). I particularly like the ball I use to play fetch with my pets. There's just a lot of room to be silly and playful, I can't imagine Blizzard or the clever guys at Upper Deck running out of ideas. What do you think should be next? Gnome boxing balloons? Throwing pies? I dunno. You guys can probably get more creative.
We have to admit -- that takes chutzpah. Ziro stepped away from a progression raid, got summoned to Molten Core just to ding the achievement, and then asked for a summon back. And got it, even without being /gkicked. First of all, we're surprised he pulled it off -- if something had gone wrong on either side, he'd be out an achievement and a guild. But wow, we're really just amazed at his confidence. All he did was type "Ok ready for summon." And it worked.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how much you want to be entertained), not all guild runs go so smoothly. After the break, we've got the good, the recruiting, and the ugly. All the guild news fit to print in this week's Guildwatch after the link.
The developers sent us for a bit of a loop today, putting an Ulduar boss up for testing with very little notice immediately after PTR maintenance. Matticus, ever reliable, threw together a quick 10-man raid and welcomed me along to try out the Flame Leviathan. Unfortunately, Michael Sacco (who walked you through Hodir and the Iron Council) wasn't able to go with us this time around. I think he did it on purpose so I couldn't make any jokes about his inability to perform, if you know what I mean.
The Flame Leviathan is the boss (or one of the bosses) that uses siege vehicles in its encounter in the outdoors portion of Ulduar. For the safety of those that do not wish to be spoiled on anything Ulduar related, I'll put all information on the encounter beneath the cut below.
Again, if you do not want to be spoiled, do not click the link below.
Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we examine the roots of the uproar over the proposed Heart of the Wild nerf, and also ask ourselves if it wouldn't just be easier to reroll a Death Knight and have done with it.
"Why would you title the column this way?" you ask, as you reach for your "Please fire _______ from WoW Insider" form letter. "Crushing blows are out of the game, dipwad."
In this article I'm going to try to explain the source of "shield tank" frustration over health pools -- and why they are correct to see it as a problem -- and the Druid tank's unhappiness over the nerfing of Heart of the Wild -- and why Druids are also correct to see it as a problem.
Why the crushing blow was important
One of the biggest differences between pre-Wrath and Wrath tanking is the absence of the crushing blow. If you're unfamiliar with the term, then as a very simple explanation: any given raid boss had a 15% chance per melee hit to perform a 150% damage attack, which was also known as the crushing blow. It was typically a big damage spike and could lead to a wipe on progression content, with healers struggling to compensate in the small window of time before the boss' next attack landed. Burst damage is very unwelcome as it's often the greatest contributing factor to tank death. This is why reaching crit immunity is still so important to all tanks, and why the ability to avoid or absorb crushing blows was a fundamental part of pre-Wrath tanking mechanics.
Last week, WI reported about Oscar-winning WoW player Steve Preeg, a.k.a. Ramases the Undead Rogue and usual GM of <incoming> on Stormscale-US. Steve's got some pretty lofty geek cred: a 2009 Oscar for Visual Effects (along with Eric Barba, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron) on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; work on films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, King Kong and I, Robot -- oh, and a nice, fresh kill on Sartharion-3 Drakes.
With cell phones bleeping and his publicist chuckling in the background over the sheer nerd factor of our conversation, 15 Minutes of Fame visited by phone with Steve in L.A. about his WoW/life balance, what he admires about Blizzard's work, and what keeps him coming back for more.
But maybe not for the reason you think. Beatus on Kul Tiras posted a pretty well-written complaint about the layout of Wintergrasp on the EU forums, and new blue poster Ancilorn speaks up with a little insight into just how Blizzard was planning to keep down the lag in WG. They were planning to spread players around to the towers in the southern side of the zone, thus allowing hundreds of players to play, but in a few separate groups conquering different objectives.
The only problem, says Ancilorn, is that there's not enough incentive to split players up -- people who go south miss out on honor and daily quests, and there's not enough reward to make them go that far. He says a retuning of the map will eventually be done to try and spread out the battle a little more.
Emblems of Conquest are the new Emblems of Valor - that is to say, they drop from the 25-man version of Ulduar and enable you to buy ilvl 226 stuff. This much we knew. What we haven't known, until now, is what exactly they'd let you buy.
With this latest PTR patch, the gear sold for Emblems of Conquest is now availabe. The names are placeholders ("Emblem of Conquest Healer Neck"), and the stats may also be relatively placeholder-y as well, but it's something to look at, anyway.
Currently up are:
Runed Orbs for 15 EoC; these are like Frozen Orbs and will be used for crafting.
Necklaces for 16 EoC.
Belts and gloves for 23 EoC.
Legs for 32 EoC.
Deadly Gladiator gear (38 EoC for hands and shoulders, 48 EoC for head, legs, and chest).
Tier 8.5 chest and head tokens for 48 EoC each.
Emblems of Valor for one EoC.
You can see the stats on everything over on the inimitable MMO-Champion, although I don't think the tier 8 vendors are implemented yet, so we still don't know the precise numbers on those. What I'm really anxious to have confirmed is that we'll be able to buy tier 8.0 with the Emblems of Valor that drop out of 10-man Ulduar - if that's not the case, I will be one very upset raider. And what's with some of those prices? 38 badges? Really?