Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The good and bad about changes to loot in 6.2 and a brief no-fly-zone opinion

Everyone knows that shitty feeling of killing a really hard boss and then all the loot is just rubbish. Blackhand, which took us so long to kill, we sharded 3 items, which seemed so horrible! You'd think that people could use this stuff!  But NOOOOOO...

Blizzard has seen that loot isn't as rewarding and decided to do something to try to fix that - which they has been listed as Item Level Ramp.
To address this, we are structuring Hellfire Citadel so that the Item Level of the loot awarded by bosses increases as players proceed deeper into the zone, culminating in Archimonde—providing both the ultimate challenge and the ultimate reward.
In theory I can see how that would work.  It would ensure that we take loot from the later bosses and it will feel more rewarding.  But you'd hope that the bosses are tuned correctly for that to happen (like you'd have to kill x boss and get the loot from that and get your gear up to scratch to be able to kill y boss, rather than just walking straight up to y boss and not doing x boss ever).  However, I think it would have been much more rewarding if certain items dropped from those hard bosses, that people would much rather have, rather than having a higher item level as you move through.  Or perhaps having some kind of upgrade item that drops from the harder bosses so you could upgrade some items.  But then I could see that if you did that, then people would not take the new loot item, and just go for the upgrade item.  However, with better secondary stats that may be overcome.

Another worrisome point is when those bosses are farm they just become pointless trash to slog through to get to the bosses you do want.  I actually like the "wings" raids like Blackrock Foundry (and Naxxramas and Icecrown Citadel) rather than the linear progression seen in most of the raids in Mists of Pandaria. Working on one section rather than getting through everything in order to get to the bosses you want seems much more time efficient, especially when the game these days has moved towards the 15 minute player rather than the 4 hour player.  I suppose one way to get around that would be some kind of portal that could be activated once you had killed the earlier lower ilvl bosses (like in ICC or Ulduar).

Then there is this secondary stats shuffling...
Inside Hellfire Citadel, you’ll see a wider range of high and low secondary stat values on items than you have in a long time. Alongside some tuning adjustments that should ensure your attuned stats are the right choice, this change should also make it easier for you to identify which items are good for you in a more interesting way than just “equip the highest Item Level.” Our goal is to help make Hellfire Citadel Raid items more distinct and meaningful to you, and we hope you’ll let us know how things feel once you start collecting your new gear.
Firstly, who the hell took something because it was higher item level.  Not me.  If it didn't have haste or mastery on it I was reluctant to touch it!  Would I take that versatility and crit item just because it was 6 item levels higher than my current item?  I might if it was 20 levels higher I suppose but with less throughput from lousy stats I'd be really dredging the bottom of the barrel with that loot!

Personal looting also has had some tweaking.
First, rather than treating loot chances independently for each player—sometimes yielding only one or even zero items for a group—we’ll use a system similar to Group Loot to determine how many items a boss will award based on eligible group size.
RNG at it's finest - it can work in your favour with 7 people getting loot in a raid of 20, or 1 person getting loot in a raid of 20 (I think it works as 1 loot her 5 people in group loot).  So now it looks like that it will always be at least 4 in 20 getting loot, but I wonder if people can get luckier than that and maybe get that 7 in 20 again.
We’re also increasing the overall rate of reward for Personal Loot, giving players more items overall to offset the fact that Personal Loot rewards can’t be distributed among group members. We know that finding that one awesome specific trinket to round out your gear set can be difficult with Personal Loot, and this should help increase your odds.
So does this mean more chance of getting crap I don't want?  Wouldn't it be great if  a boss dropped 3 items that I could use and if I rolled something it would be something I'd like, as opposed to a boss dropping 7 items that I could use and only 3 of them being usable?  Or does it mean that instead of a 10% chance of rolling a loot, now my odds are 20%?  I guess we'll see.  I've never been that lucky a roller.  And Luxy probably was way worse luck than me.
Finally, the most visible change is the new Personal Loot UI... The previous Personal Loot system celebrated your own rewards, but would bury what your groupmates received in the chat log.... Now when you loot an item, everyone in your group will see what you won!
I'm a bit funny about this - I suppose it is nice to see a little box on the screen saying "So-and-so and Whatsie just got these loots", but what's so hard about scrolling up? EPGP obviously announces it to the raid as well (which also gets rolled away in the loot scroll text), but I find this a strange thing to add.  I suppose a bit more fanfare when you roll an item is nice because shinies on your screen when you win loot is rather exciting.  I always love that pause when the dice are rolling because you KNOW that you're about to win something!

I went around looking at what other people thought about changes in 6.2 and all everyone is fixated upon is that flying will no longer be a thing.  Blizzard said they might not ever bring it back, and the number of people who are thinking of quitting WoW because of that is rather surprising. Or perhaps it isn't. It's like being given a taste of something that was not only efficient in terms of travel but also cheap, convenient and also we got to play with new mounts and take some cool screenshots.  And then it was taken away.  The favourite toy you didn't realise you loved so much was gone. With the huge outcry from the community it makes me wonder if they will bring it back. I guess it depends if people have genuine reasons rather than "I want it".

Godmother, AldshotfirstMataoka and Saya have all had their say on the no flying.  I am one of the ambivalent.  Yes, I miss flying. I like going back to Pandaria so I can fly. But if Blizzard thinks there is a reason why we shouldn't have flying - which I suspect is due to us not admiring the content they spent so long doing which should be appreciated from the ground level - then it is their game. We are playing it. We have a choice. Don't play it if you don't like it. That gets the message across louder than hurling abuse at devs and other Blizzard employees.

Whether flying is there or not I will still be playing.  I wonder how many of you out there will still be playing with me?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Guild Gold Challenge #3 - Shadowmoon Burial Grounds

We decided to try to do Shadowmoon Burial Grounds as our third challenge mode.

The first challenge was to find the damned place.

As Horde I don't spend a lot of time in Shadowmoon Valley except in the places that are part of the daily Apexis quests.  Ultra and Sars were there before me and I followed them around before I realised they had no idea where they were headed to either!  However, they eventually figured it out and we got started.

The first dodgy bit was waiting for the blueberry Void spawn to pat away and then rush over to the group standing next to the runes, hitting them when the Void Spawn on top of the alter despawns. Pets, wide asses and in general a lack of awareness of agro range would stuff that pull up, but once you get used to it, it's not an issue.

Jumping down the hole was another point where there would be mistakes when pets were not dismissed.  It was not all terrible - one time Sev forgot to dismiss his pet and all the mobs pulled - he just ran outside and died to those mobs whilst we stayed out of combat and rezzed him after.

The first boss, Sadana Bloodfury, isn't too bad.  Just kept ranged stacked together so they could move as a unit and get healed easily when those big shadow daggers fall from the sky, and then make sure you stun the Defiled Souls because when they get close enough to Sadana she sacrifices them and gains some health.  DPSing them down wastes time, so stuns are good.  At least I got to use a mighty bash!

Lots of creepy crawlies as we made our way to the next boss, Nhallish.  Man, I must have triggered EVERY RUNE in the place as we went to him. When I lamented over the fact I had triggered everything, Ultra reassured me that there were a few runes I hadn't triggered.

Bonemaw wasn't anything different, but we invis'd past the spiders and made our way to Ner'zhul. We were stoked, when we killed him in time for the gold.... BUT WAIT...

OMG we were one mob short.  Fortunately we weren't far from mobs so we ran and pulled another mob and killed that... THANK GOODNESS for that!!

Woohoo! That wasn't too bad as a challenge mode.  Very doable!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Raiding - What to do now that Blackhand is dead?

Well, we did as I said we would, which was do alts and casuals in heroic.  How we were going to do that seemed clear - we set an ilvl limit for alts and casuals at 660 and then said that if you died to mechanics within 1 minute of the boss encounter for 2 bosses then you would probably be sat out because we wouldn't be able to carry very well without our mains.  This seemed to kick people into paying attention and though I thought there would be many people who may need to be sat out, that didn't happen at all.

It was particularly cute that Gunsnbowses, Koda's hubby, who raids on Sundays was so excited about the raid that at lunchtime he was chattering about how he had all his flasks and pots and runes ready to go and he had parked himself outside Blackrock Foundry.  Taxar was excited too, and so was Tacky.

Voe was pretty keen to come along. He came on Sunday to the normal BRF run, but he obviously hadn't read up because he died to every mechanic within the first minute or less of the fight!  Was this Voe, I wondered.  He was not playing particularly well, maybe he was just rusty!  I had a word to him and told him I hoped he would do better, and he said he would not disappoint.

Loot was not done particularly well, though it wasn't an issue during the raid.  I had decided to loot it like we do the weekend, mains over alts rolls, and each person looting two items before the items had to be shared with others.  After I'd said that to the raid, Madcow said it should be one because we actually may not kill many bosses to be able to share loot anyway, so we changed it to one.  Luxy suggested an even better option which we will do next week - as there are a few items that the heroic raiders still want - which was to have the alts and casuals roll on the loot that is to be sharded, and loot that heroic raiders want they pay for in EPGP.  There was only one item which that would have applied to - the strength trinket that drops from Flamebender.  That item was coveted by Madcow for many raids and we hadn't seen it drop and it dropped last night and everyone was rolling on it.  Fortunately because Madcow hadn't looted all night, he was able to take the item ahead of the person who rolled higher than him.  But the awkward situation could have been avoided with Luxy's idea.

All up we did 6 heroic bosses which was good.  Very little loot was sharded and alts and casuals seemed pleased with the run overall.  We had started off with Ultra's monk tanking with Crusnik, but we switched over to Arelion when poor Ultra was having a time of it with Oregorger.  I played like an idiot and got hit by trains in Thogar TWICE, but the rest of the raid went well.  Sev's workmate, Teknoman, joined us halfway through the raid as a trial to see if he would like it in our guild (and to see if we could put up with him) and his mythic geared mage blew most people out of the water.  Or maybe everyone.

Guns and Koda were holding hands together and got smacked by a train, though it may have been lag.  They were both so apologetic about dying, that it made me feel guilty about dying also.  But I wasn't going to apologise.  No, I would rather laugh at myself.

Voe didn't die to every mechanic under the sun!  And Taxar didn't either!  Taxar had tanked on Sunday and he actually did a great job - when he DPS's he has dreadful positioning and dies a lot but his tanking was good, with the clear, concise instructions that Kyjenn said to him, that I complimented him afterwards on his tanking.

Crus and Arelion tanking was an interesting combination.  I think they had fun trying to pull threat off each other.

With that raid happening, I didn't really feel like doing Sunday's raid anymore.  I think that until 6.2 hits, we won't be doing Sunday raids if we are doing alts/casuals on Thursday.  What are we going to do on Monday?  Well, there are the bosses we haven't finished off and we might just do Thogar on heroic with everyone and for maidens and blast furnace see how it goes for a couple of attempts before we start switching over to mains.  Either way, I think this is a nice relaxing thing to do and I'm glad that everyone seems to be on board with it and not yell at me about why we aren't going into Mythic.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Raiding - Our turn to smash Blackhand

I hate to say it, but they love to hear it. The warlocks may have saved the day.

It's Wednesday.  Every Wednesday I'm usually in a great mood at work because I know I'm going home and going to raid. However, it's Blackhand Wednesday and I hoped to get some progress on Blackhand today, so I was excited about that, but yet not excited about people getting frustrated or continuing to make mistakes. Koda said we were going to kill it today and I laughed because... well, I didn't want to get my hopes up.

We are always light on ranged and Aza said that he would come to raid on Wednesday, as I think he's slowly coming off his break from WoW.  Sev happened to logon before raid time and Aimei said to him "Are you going to raid Sev?  Aza is coming and we're doing Blackhand."

Sev is still on his break from WoW and so I have been telling him not to come back early because it will just reset his cycle of WoW apathy and so I was surprised when he said he would come.  TWO extra ranged!  TWO warlocks!

Two warlocks who haven't seen much of the fight and don't use DBM.  Two warlocks who pick up the fight relatively quickly. But it's two ranged.  YAY!

Raid started and everyone was agog.  "WARLOCKS! Not one, but TWO!" Everyone was pleased to see them, I think. Hopefully that would inspire them to come back to raiding.  It's always nice to be wanted.

So we had a good Wednesday turnout. Our roster was:
Tanks: Aimei, Kyjenn
Heals: Navi, Koda, Bish, Rag
DPS: Madcow, Arelion, Hwired, Crusnik, Luxy, Crooked, Ultra, Kel, Aza, Sevrus, Lushen, Punchynok, Yuuda

We had some good attempts and then some bad.  I took Heart of the Wild because I was solo tranqing the demolition phase. First phase was going well and DPS was good - we measure it as good when Kyjenn doesn't get punted by Blackhand before the transition (so the tanks only get smashed once each).  And we were making that.

Phase 2 is always where the struggle is.  Rag was being sent into the up group, and he didn't think that was ideal (and I didn't either because tanks REALLY take a hit during that phase).  However, everyone knows how crap I am at getting up onto the balcony - I'd be lucky to make it up half the time and then nobody would get heals.  Which meant I had to chase the bloody tanks around and hope Bish and Koda had everyone else covered.

We had lots of mistakes as usual, the usual things we struggle with.
- both warlocks had their share of being shot by the Mark
- Ultra was kiting the tank around and positioned himself a little bit funny so he ended up getting shot because he was in front of the siege engine when marks came out.
- bombs in melee being triggered
- siege engines not being killed fast enough and fire going out
- healing just before the transition

I had some spectacular mistakes.  One time I was concentrating on healing the tank and then I got the mark so I turned and bolted to the siege and set off a bomb on EVERYONE around Blackhand, right before transition.  Well that was dumb.  I also got shot a couple of times and I had a bad habit of swearing into vent.  Crooked made a subtle comment that vent should be less cluttered and I have to control myself with talking into vent - I'm not even sure why I say "Oh shit....!" when I misclick a heal or get some bad debuff to myself.

It was good to see that Phase 3 was getting better - BOMBS LEFT MARKS RIGHT was eventually sinking in.  Madcow stood there with the bomb one attempt not realising he had it but overall people were good with the bombs, but the marks were still a bit iffy.  Healing for phase 3 feels like a massive poo-fight, and so we had Bish standing out of the smash constantly so that the tanks get healed, and obviously anyone who had the bomb wouldn't get in the smash.

On the 11th attempt for the night we had a really great attempt.  We got to phase 3 and people were doing OK, and then the tanks died when the boss was at about 10% and we managed to squeeze a little bit more out and wiped at 4%.  EVERYONE was stoked for that attempt and on our 12th attempt everyone was excited and feeling positive and we managed to kill Blackhand, though a lot of us were dead towards the end.

BIG CHEERS WENT OUT! Everyone was excited, happy, elated - it had taken us 156 attempts to get it (which according to Ask Mr Robot, at our ilevel it should be 85 attempts) but who cares, we had done it!

Well wouldn't you know, 3 vanquisher tokens dropped.  Crusnik was a happy DK.

Aza walked off with Blackhand Doomstaff, and both Iron Soldier's Sabres were taken for transmog. Shattering Smash leggings were sharded.  No trinkets were rolled and none dropped so that was disappointing!  But who cares, we killed it!

So what to do for the rest of the week?  The officers had a pow wow and we decided that we would welcome alts into the heroic raid depending on DPS and heals, and the casual raiders on Sunday could come as well.  However, some limits were set - if they died to mechanics within one minute of the fight for 2 boss fights then they would be asked to sit out.  I think that's fair.  And it will give others the opportunity for a break now that Blackhand is dead if they don't want to raid but secretly I'm wishing that we would do some of the meta achievements.  Maybe I can hijack Sunday to do that since we're alt raiding during the week.

Are we doing Mythic?  Some people asked that, but we noticed that patch 6.2 is on the downloader so that means patch will drop in the next couple of weeks.  I think our time would be better served doing Blackhand and then relaxing for the rest of the time doing alt runs or achievements so we still keep our fun yet have our toes in the raiding scene still.  Ah, the life of a casual raiding guild :P