I'll be honest with you. Retribution DPS has made me a rather sad panda lately. It wasn't my DPS exactly, but I sat down to watch my brother-in-law farm Valkyrs in Valkyrion with his three-week old Level 80 Death Knight. He pulled about five mobs and proceeded to demolish them. With Cinderglacier and Killing Machine proccing, he hit all mobs with a Howling Blast for about 6-7k each, and topped things off with a 7k Frost Strike. It made my jaw drop. Mind you, my brother-in-law is an excellent player, so this probably isn't your average Death Knight. But then, he was only equipped in heroic gear, with his best loot being a Wraith Spear. He hadn't even hit his peak.
I know anectdotal stories like these are plenty and tangential to the issue, but if you've raided as a Retribution Paladin with equally geared and skilled players, you'll know exactly what I'm trying to say. So it was a major surprise in Patch 3.1 that the slimming down of the Retribution tree hit our DPS hard with a nerf to Fanaticism (reduced to three ranks for an 18% crit, down from 25%) and Righteous Vengeance (reduced to three ranks for 30% damage, down from 40%). Was it to balance out the fact that Exorcism could be used on any target? Certainly not. At any rate, Blizzard was aware that Retribution DPS on the PTRs wasn't where they want it to be.
World of Warcraft is categorized as a MASSIVELY Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) - so it only makes sense that you should aim to connect with (relatively) massive numbers of other players when you're playing. While it's true that you can successfully fumble about in the relatively unpopulated leveling zones on your own, you'll enjoy a richer, more complete game experience if you play with other players, as intended. At some point, even social butterflies who meet other players at the drop of an emote should consider teaming up with other players in a more structured way by joining a guild.
Guilds are teams of players who share similar goals or play styles. A guild that fits your needs will sweep your enjoyment to a whole new level. It's like gaining a pool of automatic friends. Your guildmates are the folks who can group with you, craft items for you, lend directions and advice to you, loan you a few gold when things are tight, and keep you company in guild chat or Vent as you quest your way through the levels.
But not just any guild will do. Guilds are formed, evolve, break up and reform for all sorts of different reasons. It's up to you to find a group that matches your play style, personality and needs. Being part of the coolest, most uber raiding guild on the server is utterly worthless if you're the only, lonely level 32 casual among its ranks. Joining a level 80 progression raiding guild or a competitive PvP team can be a tricky endeavor, and it's most assuredly not what we're covering here today. For ways to target a guild that fits you as a new, leveling WoW player, read on.
Tobold has a post up with an interesting analysis of all the epic loot that drops in the ten-man version of Naxxramas, broken down by armor type and by broad stat type (tank, melee, caster). At the top of this post is a chart I made from his armor type breakdown ("Other" is anything that's not cloth, leather, mail, or plate, i.e. weapons, off-hands, shields, jewelry, and cloaks). As Tobold mentions, this confirms that there is significantly more plate than anything else, about 50% more, even though there are the same number of plate classes as cloth classes. My guess is that this is because they expected an influx of DKs bumping up the plate numbers.
As far as stat types, leather and mail are both split half-and-half for caster vs melee. This is a little iffy. In both cases, there are two caster specs (Balance and Resto Druid, Elemental and Resto Shaman) out of six total specs (Druids and Rogues, Shamans and Hunters), so it seems a 33/66 split would make more sense, but maybe they just wanted to keep it simple.
The case that really bothers me is plate, which is split evenly between caster, tank, and DPS (see right). The only plate spec that wants caster gear is the Holy Paladin. That's one of three specs from one of three plate-wearing classes, and yet it gets a third of the plate gear. I'm sorry, my plate-clad healing brethren, but that's just not an equitable proportion. Mostly it just means that our prot pallies have full healing sets and we're still disenchanting a good chunk of the plate every week. Here's hoping we see less caster leather, mail, and especially plate in Ulduar.
The drama of DKP - Wed, 18 Mar 2009 17:00:00 EST Donnyman is going through an issue with his guild that many a guild has faced before: the drama of going to DKP. Especially lately, it seems like lots of guilds are aiming to make the jump to DKP: because the endgame is relatively easier lately, lots of folks are getting into raiding seriously, and unless your guild is the closest of friends, you can really only go so long without people starting to wonder why the other guy got that roll when he's only been to two raids in the last month when they've been to five. At that point, the guild either breaks up due to loot drama -- or you decide to settle on a system like DKP.
The good news is that lots of guilds have been through this before, and there's a lot of great guidance out there about how to switch to DKP and what kinds of systems you might use if you do. I've only been in one guild that decided to go from a free-for-all roll to a loot system -- they chose Suicide Kings, everyone agreed it was fair, and they've never looked back. Donnyman's having an issue with his guild leadership's decision to put a little erosion on the DKP, and it's true -- if the whole guild isn't behind a disagreement like that, there could be some breakup. There's lots of great discussion in the LJ thread about how decay actually affects people who can't raid from time to time, and Donny ends up with two choices: be OK with it, or find another guild (there's plenty of them around).
It's not impossible to pull off a switch to DKP from a free-for-all system, but you need to a) make it clear that it's in everyone's best interest (if loot drama is starting to sneak up, it probably is), and b) make sure it's as fair as can be. Consider what your guildies want (more loot, just to have a good time raiding, or to reward people who do well or people who need the gear), and then go with a system that meets those needs.
Our good friends in Sleeper Cartel over on Perenolde are having yet another server party -- Spring Break 2009 is taking place not in Cabo, but Sholazar Basin! As with all of these player-run events, it certainly sounds like fun: they're planning to have free food and drinks, tournaments, and games and contests of all kinds (last time around, they had trivia contests and scavenger hunts). They're even setting up a "Gnomes Gone Wild" event -- level 1 gnomes are going to be trying to sneak into the party, and it'll be partygoers' responsibility to keep them out.
The party starts this Saturday, March 21st, at 7pm server at the River's Heart in Sholazar Basin (you could probably make it there with a DK, or they'll have people summoning as necessary, as long as you send them an ingame mail first). As they say, Kel'Thuzad and Malygos will be there next week -- this Saturday, head over to Perenolde and celebrate Spring Break with the Sleepers.
The Queue: Progression - Wed, 18 Mar 2009 15:00:00 EST Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.
I would have had this written and posted earlier in the day, but I was too busy refreshing the official World of Warcraft site and praying for more news regarding the WoW Mountain Dew. I guess when they say they'll have more information in the 'coming months' they don't mean 'tomorrow afternoon.' Disappointing, really. Taylor asked... "I am just getting back into WoW now that I have a bit of free time. I am trying to get to 80 on a relatively new character of mine. I am around 50 right now and I am wondering how end game will work when I eventually get there? There are heroics and raids and all these things I hear about, but I just don't understand the progression yet. Mainly, I am worried that once Ulduar launches, I will be woefully behind without gear from Naxx. I know the whole "gear doesn't matter" argument, but I can't be in quest blues/greens and keeping up in a raid."
Bummed that, unlike last week, our podcast is back on Saturday this week? Worry not -- we've got a special dose of WoW Insider podcastery goodness midweek for you. Tonight, over on PixelatedLIVE's Ustream page, they're broadcasting a special World of Warcraft-themed show, and they've asked us to appear, along with our good friends Matticus (from World of Matticus and our own Spiritual Guidance Priest column) and Medros of All Things Azeroth as well as Erin from Eringames.com and Darren of MyGameMug. Whew! It'll likely be a Warcraft extravaganza, and as a bonus (or a penalty?), they're even broadcasting video, so you'll be able to see my ugly mug on screen while I'm on. Make sure to send your young children and weak-willed women out of the room first.
The show starts at 7:30 pm Pacific (use this to figure out what time that is where you are) over on Ustream. And they're having a trivia contest, too -- they're looking for people who have a Ustream account (you can get one here), Skype installed, and a good headset to come on the air with them and answer questions to win prizes.
Seems like quite a party. Definitely stop by and tune in tonight (I'll probably be Twittering while I do it, so you can follow us there as well), and of course if you can't make it, our official podcast will return to our own page on Ustream this Saturday at 3:30pm Eastern.
Aratil has posted the early US standings, and Vaneras has posted some early EU Arena tournament standings (the actual tournament doesn't end for a few weeks yet, so it's far from over) on the forums. Strangely enough, while RMP still rules the day in the EU (three of the top teams there, including the first place team, are made up of a Rogue, Mage, and Priest), Death Knights have taken over the rest of the tournament. The American side has seven out of 10 teams made up of Death Knights, Paladins, and Warlocks, and another team that subs the Warlock for a Hunter. And on the EU side, five out of the ten are DK, Pally, Hunter as well.
Arena players were worried in the last pro tournament that Death Knights might take over the Arenas and it looks like that might be what's going on here. Of course, there are still weeks left to go, so anything could happen, but as it stands right now, looks like the final winners will probably have plenty of Runeblade wielders in their ranks.
While I'm clearly a WoW junkie nowadays, I wasn't always that way. On the list of games which defined my life as a geek, the classic "Max Payne" was top among them. That detective-noir feel and epic "Bullet Time" just went a long, long way to blazing a permanent fondness across my skull. So, you might be able to imagine my excitement when Varath released Max Payne Noir Undercity - Chapter 1: The darkness inside.
Varath has basically taken the premise and some sound from Max Payne 2, and laid it overtop World of Warcraft-style animations. This piece isn't based of in-game footage. Instead, since the middle of 2008, Varath has used custom editing and 3D models to completely reanimate the movie. The effects are astounding. The film style captures the gritty, noir feel of Max Payne, and his action is convincing and fun. Stylized freeze-frames and comic-book effects are clear homages to Varath's original material, but work well in the context of the brooding, ponderous script.
Any review of Varath's story would simply be a review of Max Payne 2's story, which isn't something I'm trying to do here. While I'm not normally a huge fan of genre mashups, I look at Noir Undercity in context of WoW-Noir. In that light, it works. The imagery is strong and effective, even if the overall viewing time is longer than your average effort.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch ..
In a recent blue post by everyone's favorite lead developer, Ghostcrawler gave us a bit of insight into Blizzard's view on Rogue strength in PvP. One commenter brought up that "Rogues are fine, but DKs are simply insane," which is an argument that I've made. GC agrees, stating that "We like where rogues are in PvP in terms of damage and utility, but other classes are doing too well."
While I'm glad to hear that we won't be seeing any serious nerfs in some unreleased 3.1 notes, I'm also very concerned about how the rest of the community will handle this news. If Rogues are considered sub-par bby most players, and yet Blizzard is happy with their performance, this means that other classes will be trending towards our current performance instead of away from it. If there's one thing the WoW community has a hard time stomaching, it's nerfs. But we can all agree those Death Knights need it, right? Right!
Late-night WoW players have a very different gaming experience from those who play during prime time. The night shifters, time-zone oddballs, and insomniacs of a guild or a server tend to form a special bond. One by one, people log off to go to bed or to work, until at around two to three in the morning you're left with a group of players that you know are going to be there until dawn. You can either join up together, running your remaining heroics and hanging out with the drunks in Vent, or you can strike out on your own and enjoy time spent in a peaceful, deserted Azeroth. Nitetrain of <Heroes of Old> on Stormreaver chose the latter path one night, and send us some lovely photos of late night and dawn at the Auberdine docks. Here's to you, night shifters!
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.
Which isn't much of a surprise: we already know that there'll likely be a Gurloc and a Wolvar orphan added to the game (along with pets for each of those groups), and there's no mention of any quests involving those guys on the PTR yet. The original complaint in the forum was about "good" RP characters having to do evil things for achievements (haven't we made it plenty clear that achievements are optional?), so maybe we'll even see some more quests for all kinds of players.
At any rate, expect new things to do during this year's Children's Week. We're sure Kisirani and her team are dreaming up all kinds of crazy things for us.
Breakfast Topic: Manners - Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:00:00 EST One of my guildmates ninja'd the Large Satchel of Spoils from the Obsidian Sanctum the other day. Technically, it was his run, he organized it, and he was Master Looter. Because it was his run, you could argue, he could do anything with the loot. But that's just ninja talk. The truth of the matter is, my guildmate had no manners. I mean, even fish have manners.
This is an MMO, the central letter there standing for multi-player. This means we play with other people, real people. Real people we need to treat with a basic sense of courtesy. That's one of the tricky things about that little fiasco -- we know our guildie in real life. He's a real person, an affable big fella my wife has described as a teddy bear. The problem is that in the game, 'bear' isn't the four-letter word to describe him. The satchel was just his largest haul, but he's been known to nick the occasional Abyss Crystal from a heroic run.
So close, and yet so far. The screenshot you see above? It was a wipe. The whole guild died off on Kel'Thuzad... at 9.5k health, low enough for the mod above to list it at 0%. Yes, Benediction on EU Turalyon experienced the dreaded 0% wipe -- we hope you never have to see it, and we hope, just like them, that victory comes soon after if you do. They downed him on the attempt right after that one.
Lots more downed news after the break in this week's Guildwatch. To submit your tips (we do have a backlog currently, so it may take a week or two to get them in), send them off to email@example.com. And there are so many ninjas on the realms lately that unless they're exceptional or otherwise guild-related, we probably won't be listing them here. So if some random dude stole a blue out of your 5-man PuG, you'll have to look for vengeance elsewhere (the forums, maybe?). Enjoy the column!
Tonight from the Patch 3.1 PTR we bring you the Alliance Area 52 guild Symbolic Logic fighting against the XT-002 Deconstructor, a new Ulduar boss. They are scheduled to attempt it on hard mode, and we'll have to watch and see how it goes. You can watch it on the above stream or head over to their UStream page.
Stream is over for the evening. Thanks for coming out everyone! Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.
Okay, okay, so it's not that amazing, but it's still pretty awesome. Soda (pop, whatever) is one of my few vices, and I have this strange fascination with trying out all of the new and exciting flavors that soda companies put out over the summer months. Do you remember 7Upside Down that 7UP tried a few years ago? dnL? No? I do. It was delicious. This? World of Warcraft Game Fuel? It, too, will be delicious, just like the Halo Game Fuel that came before it.
Release dates or availability hasn't been shared yet, the official World of Warcraft website states they'll announce that sort of thing at a later date, but they do have the flavors listed! There will be two of them, one for the Horde and one for the Alliance. The Horde's Game Fuel will come in Citrus Cherry, and the Alliance's Fuel will be Wild Fruit flavored. The Horde's version sounds a little too Code Red to me, so I think I'll give the Wild Fruit a whirl first.
Truly, we live in a great age.
Edit: I am a fool. A foolish fool. The foolishest! I just looked it up, and the Citrus Cherry flavor isn't Code Red at all. It's the same flavor as the Halo Game Fuel. For the Horde!
Where were we? Ah, yes, tanking. Last time, we took a look at some basics of Paladin tanking, namely a few things about survivability. That's just the tip of the iceberg. When I said tanking was the most technical play style in the game, it's because tanks have to look at more factors and study more things than healers or DPS. Aside from working towards important gear requirements, a tank more than any other player must understand how a fight works. While many encounters are survivable with a few DPS not knowing too much about the fight ("get out of the void zones!"), a tank who doesn't know anything about a boss is likely to wipe the group or raid.
In many ways, a tank is the most important member of a team. The cornerstone, so to speak. Because even though healers are indispensable, there's never really a 'Main Healer' position the way there is a 'Main Tank'. That's why a tank's responsibility goes above and beyond what players in other roles have. We've already examined for a bit how to build up your survivability. Today we'll look at three things: generating threat and the tank spell rotation.
There was an interesting discussion that happened on the official forums the other day, and I think it deserves a bit of light here on WoW Insider. Of course that thread devolved quickly into standard forum QQ and blue bashing, but hopefully that doesn't happen here.
The thread asked: are achievements optional?
This is a loaded question, for sure, so what I'm going to do is look at three different types of players and analyze what achievements mean for each of them. But of course to begin, it should just be said that any achievement is completely optional in the game. You don't need them, they deliver nothing to you that's necessary for your character to progress.
The casual is the person who chooses to play the game at their own pace for a little or as much as they want. The casual rarely, if ever, make appointments or schedule in game activities with other people. The casual may or may not be in a guild, and that's just fine. The casual is there to enjoy the game on their own terms.
If you've been following WoW Insider since patch 3.1 hit the PTR, not much of this stuff will be a surprise to you, we've tried to cover the UI additions as they were pushed onto the test realm. Regardless, the new UI page details all of the following:
Talent Dual Specialization
Updated Objectives Tracker
Looking For Group Improvements
Queueing for Battlegrounds From Anywhere
Go on, give it a read, and make sure you're not caught off guard by all of the shiny new UI elements slapping you in the face the day you load up patch 3.1. You can also check out the galleries below that we've done previously, which will walk you through a few of these things. If you're the type that likes surprises? Well, don't look at them!