Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to Solve the Spellpower Plate Problem

Healing plate. In a typical group, when it drops, everyone gives a collective grown and the seemingly endless amount of ret pallies roll for it on their offset. Yes, I'm exaggerating (Not by much, though, just a few weeks ago I ran a VoA10 with 4 ret pallies DPS, and 1 paladin tank), but still, the problem remains.

Spellpower plate is on one end of the spectrum of number of usable specs vs. the number of specs that primarily use the armor class.

What that means, in readable English, is that out of the 7 possible roles that use plate (2-Tanking and DPS for Warrs, 2-Tanking and DPS for Death Knights, and 3-Tanking, DPS, and Healing for Paladins), only 1 possible spec, the holy paladin, can use it.

Compare this, for example, to +agility leather, out of the 5 different roles played by leather wearers (Ranged DPS, Healing, Melee DPS, and Tanking), 2 of those use it. That's 40% compared to 14%

Thus, we get into a situation where if a +agility leather piece drops, and it get sharded because you don't have a feral druid or rogue in the group, it's a shame, whereas when the same happens to spellpower plate, it's "BLIZZARD SUX AT ITEMIZATION!"

The most predominant suggestion to fix this is by making holy pallies use +strength plate. That would lead to either talents or masteries converting strength int spellpower, agility into spirit, and so on and so forth. That is an inelegant and cumbersome solution by any measure, and if you thought protheal paladins were bad in arena, wait until you get paladins that hits and bursts like a ret pally, and specs holy so that it heals like a holy pally. It would be a nightmare to balance.

I believe that there's a better way, and it involves DKs in spellpower gear.

No, I assure you, I'm not that terrible of a DK. By making DK DPS use spellpower plate, it evens out the gear to role ratio: from 1/7 to 2/7. It may not think like much, but think how many Death Knights are in your raids right now, they'll soak up the spellpower plate like candy.

I can feel every single holy paladin twitch in apoplectic rage at DKs stealing their loot, but let me explain. Look at how much plate DPS items drop, especially compared to spellpower plate. This will allow Blizzard to even this out by dropping more spellpower plate. Sure, DKs will be fighting you for gear now, but there will be more gear to fight over to offset the problem.

Another plus side is that this is all reconcilable to lore, thanks to the large number of spells that Death Knights cast. If you'll remember, death coil is just as much a warlock spell as it is a death knight spell. Plus, with many Death Knights just being fallen paladins, it seems reasonable enough that they would keep the same gear, as well.

Now, too, DPS warriors and ret pallies will be happy, as they would no longer have to fight with DKs for gear.

The one problem I can see with this is weapons. Currently, Death Knight weapons are all melee stats, and unless we want to completely take out death knight 2-hander DPS and have them dual wield spellpower weapons, there's nothing currently available to make death knight weapons under the new system. Plus, where does that leave tanking Death Knights? (I'm not including tanking death knights in this proposed system to avoid cases where someone can spend their 76 points into a tree and get all the tanking and DPS talents, and wearing the same gear, be both unkillable and do great damage. There's just no getting around tank gear)

The best I've come up with is to drop +spellpower 2 handed weapons, and make holy paladins as well as DKs use those, but that introduces more clutter in loot tables and doesn't solve Death Knight tank problems.

Though, with that, perhaps one could put in a talent or mastery that change spellpower stats to an equivalent tanking stat, and since DK DPS and tanking were designed to use the same weapons anyway, wouldn't cause protheal problems to nearly as much of an extent. However, that seems like an incredibly ham-fisted and inelegant solution.

The same concerns apply to reforging, as well, they are designed, from what it looks like, to be slight stat changes, not complete stat overhauls, and it would again be a cheap and inelegant idea to force tanking DKs to use reforging.

Looks like I'll have to ponder this some more, until next time...

...I need a catchphrase.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rogue Itemization and DPS: Or Why There Needs to be More Pointy Things in Game

I currently have:
1 Ulduar10, ilvl 219 OH fist
1 Malygos10, ilvl 213 OH sword
1 Naxx25, ilvl 213 OH dagger

But the only non heroics main hand is a Naxx25, ilvl 213 dagger.

Now, I've been combat for 2 years, I know combat inside and out, I like the rotation, I like the cooldowns, I like how the spec plays, and I like the feeling of being a swashbuckler rather than a sneaky assassin.

Too bad I don't have a main hand to be able to do that.

After resisting it for literally months now, losing KT's grasp a number of occasions, downing Razorscale far too many times, and going into one too many Naxx25 pug that invariably fails before we get to KT trying to get some sort of decent main hand drop, I had no choice but to switch to Mutilate, because combat with Naxx10 level weapons in Ulduar, and the poor DPS (400 less than if I switched from Crimson Steel and Kinetic Ripper combat to Twilight Mist and Webbed Death mutilate, according to spreadsheets) plain disgusted me.

With a bit of practice, my DPS did go up, but even still, I'm not quite sure 400 DPS is worth completely switching my playstyle.

Thanks to Hack n Slash, Close Quarter Combat, and Mace Specialization, with the possible exception of arms warriors, no other class is so weapon dependent. Our specs are so weapon based, that RNG with gear drops easily outweighs skill factor in determining DPS. And the worst part is, we need 2 weapons of the same type, whereas arms warriors need only one.

Not only that, our weapons have to have just the right speeds, as well. Not only does this make us unhappy when a weapon of the right type, but wrong speed, or right speed and wrong type drops, it makes DKs and Shammys unhappy when a fast weapon or dagger drops and the rogue doesn't want it because what he really needs is a slow weapon. Though, the fact that DKs and Shammys don't have to match weapon types gives them a big enough offset to this problem that I don't feel the least bit sorry for them.

For a rogue like me, who's stuck doing Ulduar 10 normal modes, there are literally a total of 2 main hand weapons I can use, one of which is from Yogg. And in all of Naxx25, there's also only 2 main hand weapons I could use, one of which drops from KT, and the other is a rare trash drop. Even counting KT's reach from Naxx 10, that's a grand total of 5 main hand weapons throughout 2 instances, 3 of which drops only from the end boss, and another only from trash, and is inferior to the others. Compare this to the total of 8 2-handers throughout the exact same instances. And the classes that use them only use 1! It would seem that shamans also got shafted here, but now, with 3.2, they can just run ToC-H until their eyes bleed for 2 of Aledar's Battlestars, and they're good to go. No such luck for rogues, as we still have to find a off hand to go along with it, of which there are only 2, 1 of which is a rare trash drop.

I don't know what Blizz's reasoning for only having so few weapons for rogues to use, without going into hard mode or 25 man Ulduar or beyond, and maybe their reasoning is that it's balanced by the fact that fast weapons and daggers are defaulted to us, I don't know, but that doesn't make the fact that pure, random luck has relegated me to play the game in a way that I don't want any more tolerable.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Feed the trolls

My realm forum is 99% trolls.

In any given thread, the same 3 people show up, including 1 person who spends an extra $15 per month for an account just so he can troll the forums, as his main account was banned for trolling. Every. Single. Thread. Someone may try to start a normal thread once in a while, looking for a guild, a pug, what have you, but it always ends up degenerating into some sort of joke/meta joke back and forth between maybe the 15 people who browse the realm forums on any regular basis. Every other thread is started by the trolls for that exact same purpose, because maybe they're too impatient to wait for a thread to degenerate on its own.

And you know what? I really don't mind, at all.

On any given realm, even the ones that are relatively troll free, only a tiny percentage will check the realm forums on any regular basis. Anyone posting on it for a useful purpose is betting on that percentage is enough people to maybe fill a prospective raid, or find a buyer, or what have you.

On my realm however, that number is so small, it's not even worth trying to post on the realm forums for any useful purpose, no one will ever see it. It's a vicious system, really. No one posts on the forums because no one checks it, and no one checks the forum because the only posts are from trolls.

Do the trolls contribute to that somewhere? Sure, but without them, the forums would be completely dead, as no one posts more than the trolls, and there will be no humor or entertainment in the posts.

Thus, on my realm forum at least, I gladly feed the trolls.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cataclysm Thoughts-Part 2: The Stat System Change

There has been many negative things said about Cataclysm, including one that has been said over and over and over again, since the beginning of time. Of course I'm talking about all the QQ about "Dumbing down the game for the (Casuals, M&S, Noobs, scrubs, insert word here)"

This time, the hate has been directed at the proposed stat system changes. At worst, all the QQ is elitist, and at best, it's misunderstanding and an overestimation of people with the "skill" (And I use the term loosely) to plug gear choices into a spreadsheet.

Now, as a rogue, I'm intimately familiar with those dreaded spreadsheets. I don't know about you, but it's clunky, nearly impossible to set up, and often has glaring omissions from its gear lists in that the gear I'm wearing and the upgrade I'm considering isn't listed, because maybe it's from a heroic or, fsm forbid, Naxx10, but the BiS that <5% of the population will see is well represented. I mean, how are "noobs" supposed to use those tools to improve themselves "Like they're supposed to", if they're designed towards the top end of the top end of the spectrum rather than the bottom?

Anyway, I digress.

Now, as a rogue, I'm intimately familiar with those dreaded spreadsheets. Even with RatingBuster or now the Blizz clone of it, Pawn, and, the only way to see if an item is an upgrade is by using a spreadsheet. No one, not even Ensidia rogues, is expected to calculate 54 armor penetration rating into a percentage and then calculate how much armor it ignores on a raid boss depending on whether it has sunder on it or not, determine how much more damage that allows them to do, and decide if it's worth the 15 agility, 25 crit rating and 22 haste rating that he'll lose, and if he switches gear again to give him more or less passive armor penetration he will then have and then have to make that decision all over again. And if he switches to Mutilate which values armor pen much less and...No, much, much easier to plug it into a spreadsheet, negating any "skill" involved.

And that's why I support the stat changes. Why do we have to rely on spreadsheets to tell us what's better? It doesn't flex your epeen nearly as much as you think it does, and yes I realize the whole argument with "If it's so easy and takes no skill to do it then why not do it", to which my response is that I still don't know exactly what point you're trying to make here on why spreadsheets are better than eyeball calculations and basic arithmetic, but a band-aid fix to bad game design does not increase the size of your epeen at all.

Also, I'm convinced that the effects of the stat changes are far overestimated.

For one thing, the hit and expertise will still be there, thus you're still going to be running into problems like "I go 23 under the hit cap if I get this upgrade, but it increases my agility by 20 and has a red slot with a 4 agility socket regemming for pure hit worth it?"

The same thing applies to casters, except replace agility in there with intellect.

For healers, or even, for that matter, all casters, they all value their stats differently. You'll still run into problems where if 1% haste is better than 15 int, and is that better than all the crit and spirit from this other piece?

Even for tanks, who gained the freedom from defense cap, still has to juggle Block Rating (If not block value) vs Parry vs Dodge vs pure stamina.

We're still going to have to juggle stats, and weigh cost vs benefit on every piece of gear we get, but we're just going to do it with a few less stats. Is that really catering to the casuals?

And then there's the mastery stat. Oh, boy, I'm not sure if I understand this correctly, but it increases different stats depending on which tree you're in. Talk about confusion. "Wait, I though mastery gave me Armor Pen! Why is it giving me poison damage?" And then, after you convert mastery to the appropriate stat, you'll still have to calculate to see your DPS bonus! "Hey, this 20 Mastery gives me the equivalent of 54 armor pen rating and is that worth the 15 agility, 25 crit rating and 22 hast..." And hey, guess what, it's the same thing again! I hope someone gets to prove me wrong and enlighten me on how it really works, but for now, it seems to be just more of the same, and all the QQ and the cries of joy are unfounded.

Cataclysm Thoughts-Part 1: Zone Changes

This was originally supposed to be a post on the stat changes in Cataclysm, but I went on such a tangent in the introduction that I felt it deserved its own post.

By now, everyone and their mother has read about Cataclysm, and opinions are divided, to say the least. From what I've seen and heard from everyone I know, and all the blogs that I read, reactions have either been either complete and utter love for Blizzard, or bursting at the seams, seething with pure, unbridled rage for any number of things.

Personally, I think these reactions are a few things. First, they are premature. Despite the playable builds at Blizzcon, the air of "We're discussing it" and "We might think about it sometime in the future, maybe" at the panels made it seem that the designers are still at a very early stage in terms of game design. Plus, the expansion is still about a year away, anything can change, no need to get so worked up over something that may not even get in the game.

Second, I think it's a bit overhyped, and what people think what the Cataclysm entails may not actually be what they think. For example, blues have posted many, many times that some zones will get a lot of changes, and some zones won't. Throughout their posts and panels, Blizzard has tried over and over again to downplay the changes in zones, and I quote from the FAQ on their official cataclysm page.
"Q: Which classic zones have been overhauled? What are some examples of changes?
A: Nearly all of the game’s original zones are being altered to some degree, but the extent of the changes varies by zone."

And in other blue posts which I am too lazy to look up, they've said that the changes will entail the flow of quests, and quest design in general, rather than a complete overhaul. Also, they've said that they've wanted Old World leveling to be more like Wrath leveling, and that seems more in line with what they've been saying for Cataclysm. Other than a few zones, and I'm certainly not discounting them, what Cataclysm has in store for the 1-58 game really seems more to be quest redesign, rather than touching the basic, core design, or doing anything overly cataclysmic (This is the part where you laugh at the obvious pun).

This is also the part where I realize that my second point completely disregarded my own advice contained in the first.

Now, don't get me wrong, a quest system overhaul is much, much needed. And combined with flying mounts in Azeroth, as well as the new, and those zones that are completely overhauled, will still change the game as we know it. With that said, to expect Barrens level change for the entire world seems unfounded, at best.

Again, going back to my first point, anything can change, nothing is even remotely close to being set in stone. I wouldn't be surprised if I came back here 10 months later, reading this post, and then promptly putting my face into my palm.


I don't claim to know what I'm doing. I don't claim to be a great writer. I don't claim that my posts will be insightful, thought-provoking, or informational, but I do hope that it will be entertaining.

This first post seems like as good as a place as any to introduce myself: my name is Brokenmilk, human rogue of Blades of Oblivion, on the Galakrond-US realm, and this is my blog. 

A little bit of background information on me:
I am a full time high school student, aged 16, and I'm known to be passionate about WoW. Unfortunately, being a student, and a proud book nerd at that, leaves me with very, very limited time to play, perhaps an hour or two at the very most on weekdays.

However, this, combined with my love for raiding and endgame in general, which, as you can imagine, doesn't quite work out so well, leads to plenty of problems in terms of scheduling and time. Still, I don't try to delude myself, thinking that I'm a casual. I raid, I read EJ, I don't farm dailies, or collect pets, or mounts, or try for wacky achievements. But, given my extremely limited weekend raiding schedule, I'm certainly not hardcore, either. I'm not quite sure what this makes me, I would call myself "Hardcore Casual" or "Casual Hardcore", but those are already both blogs I read, and I don't intend on plagiarizing.

What I do know is, as my mother once said to me (except she, and I, are both Chinese, so I'd assume she would've done so in that language), is that I am a unique snowflake. As far as I know, there's not really any blogs that describes my playstyle, especially not from a rogue, and definitely not with my experiences. Thus, I hope that you find my blog and my everyday comings and goings in WoW just as exciting as I do writing them.

Now that I've drifted away from my original intention into this being a background section, I'll do so here.

I actually had my start in WoW back, around 2 years ago, in private servers, actually, as I foolishly asked "Why pay for something that can be so easily be had free?" Morals aside, the answer turned out to be "Because private servers, for a lack of a better word, suck". Buggier than an apiary, and crashier than realms on patch day (3.0.8, I'm looking at you), it was a nightmare.

However, I managed to make some great friends, and had a fantastic time going through what amounts to broken imitations of BC raids, I don't claim it to be the same as real WoW, but the experience was just the right blend of close enough and yet so far away that I was hungry for more.

Fast forward to summer last year. I sucked it up, and bought a WoW battle chest, rolling Brokenmilk on Alleria-US. Thus, I very much consider myself a BC baby, though my experience on real WoW really doesn't go back that far.

I think I was in the 60s somewhere when Wrath hit, and the massive amounts of lag, and queues, more or less forced my hand into taking the free transfer to Galakrond. Then, I turned 80 and spent 3 months in the type of hair-pulling, keyboard-bashing, bank-ninjaing, guild-disbanding and merging and reforming guild circus mess that can only happen to a brand new server where thousands of people in hundreds of different guilds all trying to use this server transfer to try their hand on guild leading.

This was where I joined Blades of Oblivion, a guild, that, get this, raids on weekends, and having been around for 4 years after being started by real life friends, provided some much needed stability and a reasonable raid schedule that I so desperately needed. We may not be the most progressed guild, or the largest, or the most prominent, but it's home to some of the greatest people I know and I feel it's an honor to be a part of such a guild.

And thus, here I am today. I hope you have learned enough about me through this post to get you interested in reading a blog from the perspective of someone with this background, and I'll do my best to keep you entertained.