Saturday, September 17, 2016

Overwatch August 2016 Montages

I heard you might like Overwatch videos, so here's some Genji/Reinhardt/Mercy clips:

Also, Roadhog's hook is ridiculous:

And proof that I'm basically the best Genji ever:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Overwatch September 2016 Montage #1

Kind of what the title says, this is just a montage I put together from the first week or so of September.  Mainly play Genji/Mercy/Reinhardt/Ana/Reaper, if people would like to see gameplay/commentary of any specific heroes (including the rest of the cast) let me know!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Overwatch: How a Tank/Support Main Became a "Genji Main"

I know I haven't posted in a long time.  My WoW guild was going through difficult times and <Despotism> effectively died last November in some drama that still boggles my mind to this day.  Nor do I really want to talk about it right now, to be frank.  I might later for now I'm simply trying to get back into writing some blog stuff, period.

It's not going to be about WoW, either.  I haven't played since my guild broke up and I don't know if I'll ever play Legion (or WoW again, period).  So what will it be about?

Lately I've been playing a lot of Overwatch.  I ended Season 1 at rank 69 and currently am nearly to Diamond in Season 2.  I mostly play Genji though I also play Mercy, Reinhardt, Ana, and some Reaper.  Other games I'm playing include 7 Days to Die, Endless Legend, Civ V, Neverwinter Nights, and Starcraft II.  I might also write about some/all of those.  We'll see.

Today I'm just going to repost a thread I made on the Overwatch forums as I wrote it and then thought "Hey, that actually wouldn't be a bad blog post."  So without further ado...


Yes, I know there are a lot of awful "Genji mains" out there. People who are weebus (or whatever the hell it's called), Seagull "fanbois," or whatever. People who have never touched a character other than Genji (and maybe Hanzo) in their life.

But we're not all like that (hint: check my player icon).

When the first trailer came out, you know who I was most excited about? Reinhardt. Here, I set this up so you could appreciate his glory:;266

I also liked Mercy's original inflection for "Heroes never die!" better -- that line alone made me want to at least try her.

When the second trailer came out, you know who I was most excited about? McCree. Sure, Genji was badass when he appeared, but only to the point of "Oh, hey, that's cool. But back to playing CLINT EASTWOOD!"

For a long time my most played heroes were Mercy, Reinhardt, and McCree. Mercy's still my second most played hero with 31 hours in Quick Play alone (and I was getting PotG from day one as her), Reinhardt is third with 29 hours, and McCree is fourth at 9 hours (then Ana at 7 hours and everyone else at 5 hours or below). But you know what happened?

A lot of my friends ALSO liked Mercy, Lucio, Reinhardt, McCree, and S76. We generally had healing covered, tanking covered, and front line DPS covered...but no one played Genji or Tracer (or flanking Reaper). So I decided to learn Genji because Deflect is crazy awesome (I loved the idea of turning the attacks of enemies against them). I never even heard of Seagull until someone complimenting me on my Genji play asked me if I watched him.

When competitive came around, only a few of those friends were seriously interested. And during my placement matches I picked last to fill out our composition. I think I went 4-6 and ranked about 53. But I was constantly frustrated by bad DPS on the team because, y'know, I can only do so much as Reinhardt/Mercy.

During one particularly bad afternoon I was duo queuing with a friend who plays Reinhardt 99% of the time and I was mostly playing Mercy as the second (or sometimes only) healer. After a match with an excruciatingly bad Genji my friend said "Dude, just instalock Genji from now one. You're good with him and it stops idiots like that from picking him." And I said "Fine."

That match was bad enough to get my friend to stop for the day but I kept solo queueing. Each time I insta-locked Genji. I won like half a dozen in a row to get to rank 61. In some of the games I had people praising my play and talking about how they were glad I was on their team. In other games I had teammates claiming I was worthless and constantly insulting me (I just ignored them during the match but it wasn't pleasant). Note that we won every single one of those games.

Finally I "caved" and started swapping off Genji when my team yelled at me for being worthless or even started as other heroes. I immediately started dropping in rank and wound up at 56 in the span of a few hours. The breaking point for me was two games in a row with a terrible Genji in the first and a team that couldn't grasp "stand behind the Reinhardt's shield" in the second. I finally said "Screw this" and went back to instalocking Genji.

Seven wins a row later I was at rank 63. Finished the season at rank 69 with a mix of solo and group queues.

Overall competitive winrates in season 1?

Reinhardt: 31%
Mercy: 32%
Genji: 65%

I don't mind playing tanks and healers. Hell, I *like* playing tanks and healers. But I *hate* playing tanks and healers with crappy teams that have awful DPS. Put a good Tracer/Genji player on my team and I'm happy to play Mercy/Reinhardt/Ana (even Reaper). But in my experience good Tracer/Genji players have been rare and it's been much safer to just lock in Genji myself.

In other words, the next time you see a "Genji main" instalock their favorite hero, consider that it might not be because they're an idiot. It might be because they've been scarred from trying to tank/heal for teams in the past. Talk to them, don't insult them. You might be surprised once in a while.


In conclusion, have a video I posted back in May as a montage:


A second video of me doing some commentary on Genji gameplay in June:

And a final video of me testing out the Season 2 Genji nerfs on the PTR in August:

If people are interested in me writing posts or making video about specific things (that offer isn't just limited to just Overwatch either) please leave some feedback in the comment section!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

(Mini-Post) Free Dragon Age: Inquisition Multiplayer

I was coerced by Stubborn of Sheep the Diamond to pick up this game mainly because, well, it's free.  Or rather, the multiplayer is.  If you "buy" the trial version for a whole $0.00 you get 6 hours of the single player campaign (haven't touched it) and infinite hours of the multiplayer.

If you've played ME3 multiplayer then it's similar to that except with a fantasy setting rather than science fiction.  One major improvement, though, is that it's nearly all a forward moving "dungeon crawl" with a final showdown battle in an arena (compared to ME3 where the whole thing is a showdown battle in an arena with waves of enemies).  Also sort of similar to Diablo style games, I suppose, except it's over the shoulder and the camera can be freely rotated (and it's not a whole campaign).

There's some stuff I like about it and some stuff I don't (and perhaps at least part of the latter is simply stuff that's *different* and I'm not used to it yet).   I don't know if it'll be something I play "seriously" or just mess around with Stubborn and other friends, but at a minimum it's a fresh/new experience for a bit.

The catch is that the "free" part of it apparently ends just over seven hours from the time of this post -- deadline listed is noon CST (10 PST) on July 21st.  But all you need to do is register with Origin and "buy" the game...and at that point you could install Origin and download the game at your convenience.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Your Stat Weights Don't Matter

The Grumpy Elf recently made a post called "Don't Judge a Character By Their Item Level."  His general argument is that item level is a terrible way to judge a character's potential performance because things like stat weights and set bonuses can wildly skew results.  An example of this that he mentions is using four 670 tier pieces from BRF for four set over four 695 items.  If I was to form a "thesis" of sorts, this would seem to be it (please note that isn't a single contiguous quote, I cut out some stuff in the middle to focus on the essentials):
I mentioned my 687 item level, which for a raider is pretty poor, but once again that does not mean I would do poorly.  Put me along side someone that just did the T2 grind, upgraded anything they could get, and purchased a few BoEs off the auction house and you will see someone with an item level over 700 but someone that is not even remotely capable of matching my hunters numbers.  Why is that?

Because the stats on gear matters, the bonuses on gear matters, almost just as much as hitting the right keys in the right order.
I'm here to tell you that he's wrong.  Now before you grab your torches and pitchforks, kindly let me explain.

For those of you who aren't familiar with my history, I started playing WoW shortly after Vanilla launch.  It was the first MMO I played and the second game I had played online (the first being Warcraft 3).  I was generally quite the "n00b" at the time about, well, almost everything and I didn't seriously start raiding until Burning Crusade.  Now, of course, I'm the guild/raid leader of what is currently the top two night a week Mythic guild in the US.  There was an incident, however, that still sticks in my mind from those Vanilla days.

My main at the time was a 60 Night Elf rogue who had somewhat recently hit level 60.  I was using a level 52ish blue dagger in my main hand and a level 55 green sword in my off-hand since I hadn't had the chance to do many max level dungeons yet.  A friend on the server said his guild (which was fairly casual and had recently started raiding 20 mans) were short people for Zul'Gurub (a 20 man raid at the time) and asked if I could go.  I said sure.  When I got there I saw that nearly everyone was massively better geared than my poor rogue -- full level 58+ blue gear and a smattering of epics (hell, at that point I had never even gotten an epic on any character).  There was even another rogue with level 60 epic daggers.  To say I was a bit nervous about looking like the worst player in the history of the game would be an understatement.  So what happened?

I *crushed* everyone on the damage meters for the two bosses we did (bat and snake bosses).  Like, top DPS by 20% and the next highest player was my friend on a Fury Warrior.  To say that everyone else was bewildered (especially that other rogue) would be another understatement.  But why was I able to do that?

1, I was playing Combat Daggers (yes, Combat Daggers wanted two daggers, I was using an off-hand sword, I didn't have another dagger handy yet that was reasonable, yes it was terrible) while that other rogue was playing Seal Fate (mostly Assassination spec with some Subtlety talents).  Seal Fate was insane for generating quick combo points and doing massive burst damage in PvP.  It was terrible for sustained boss damage in PvE.

2, I played my spec correctly.  This means I did stuff like actually use my combo points on Slice and Dice (long term attack speed increase) rather than Eviscerate (instant burst of damage -- Rupture wasn't even an option due to only having eight debuff slots on a boss back then).  While that might seem like a "Duh!" thing to you now, it was not common knowledge back then at all. 

3, I maintained high target uptime.  That means I was careful and quick about my movement so that I could be attacking the boss as much as possible despite either myself or the boss needing to reposition at times.  This is sort of similar to the ABC rule (Always Be Casting) of a ranged character if you've never experienced the joy of a melee character.

In short, having the correct spec, playing said spec correctly, and playing my character well resulted in the other rogue switching to Combat Daggers for the very next raid (where I still beat him, but by a much smaller margin).

Playing your character correctly is far, far, far more important than optimizing your gear.

But if that's true, then why do we have so many tools designed to give us stat weights?  Why do we have stat rankings, gear lists, and so on?

Because those tools are meant for Mythic raiders and, to a lesser extent, Heroic raiders.  Mythic raiders, generally speaking, have *already* mostly mastered their characters.  There's always room for improvement, of course, but you run into significant diminishing returns.  Figuring out how to go from 50% to 80% of optimal DPS is fairly easy.  Learning how to go from 80% to 90% of optimal DPS is a harder.  Managing to go from 90% to 95% of optimal DPS is harder still.  And so on.  Then, of course, you need to learn how to optimize for specific fights but that's difficult to practice outside of actually raiding.

At the point where it becomes very difficult to figure out how to squeeze out a few percent more DPS out of your rotation and you're generally comfortable with dealing with raid mechanics, *then* obsessing a bit over optimizing gear starts to make sense.  Spending a few hours figuring out the best gear to grab that gives a 2% DPS boost winds up being a better choice than trying to spending that time learning how to play your character slightly better.

But how many players are at that level?  Only a few percent overall (mostly Mythic raiders and the "upper" Heroic raiders).  Yes, you have the occasional player who's amazing but "retired" and raiding Normals with friends...but that's really a Mythic/Heroic raider in a Normal guild.  So what about Grumpy?  Well, let's assume for the sake of argument that Grumpy knows how to play his class perfectly and instead focus on his raid group -- Grumpy leads a group trying to work on Normals.

What do we know about said raid group?  I'll quote some of the statements he's made in the last few days about it (all are taken from here):
We wiped a few times, all to stupid stuff that is completely avoidable.  I was the middle of the chain, the mage I was attached to came to me, the other person did not.  Even after yelling his name on voice chat to come to me.  Guess who that other person was?  You got it, him.

He dropped doom right on melee 2 times.  He did not run to the person he was chained to three times.  He did not switch off the boss when I said multiple times adds were top priority.  If there was a mechanic in this fight, he was messing it up.  About the only thing good I can say was that at least he was consistent, but when that consistent is consistently bad, that is a problem.
Lets put it this way to show you what some of these people do that I deal with.

When explaining that fight I put a square marker for where to stand when phase 2 comes. Someone screws up and stands in melee and drops doom right on that marker. Phase 2 comes, I say on vent, stand to the left of the marker (because the doom is there of course right. Common sense to any raider that has ever raided if you ask me) but what does half the raid do. They F'N stand on the marker and die in the doom. When I say something on vent after the answers I get. But you told us to stand on blue in phase two. aaaahhhhhhhhhh

Sorry for ranting, and no I am not making that up, it happened, it really happened.
I will not move the marker. I am trying to train these people to be better raiders, doing that teaches them nothing. If they can not adjust on the fly and understand simple theory such as "markers are not absolutes" and be able to adjust they have no reason even stepping into a raid. 

I need to teach these people. I will be raiding with them every week. I can not just always move the marker. That makes for piss poor raiders that do not know how to do anything but follow orders. They do not understand the mechanic on their own, they do not become capable of making snap decisions and they will never learn how to listen to changes on the fly from the raid leader.
I have the permanent rune now, so I do not worry about it and I suggest to all my raiders that they should get it too. It is only 5K and you never need to buy one again. Sell the ones you get and you will make more than the 5K you spent on it back. Casual or not, there is no excuse for not being the best you can.
As for my guild. DPS is never an issue. Mechanics are. It takes them a bit longer than I would like to pick up mechanics than I would like it too. 1% more however is 1% better. The faster the boss goes down the fewer chances their are to mess up mechanics.   
Is this a group that needs to be worrying about perfect stat weights?  No.  Gaining a few percent more HPS/DPS is not going to help them.  Despite what Grumpy said, 1% more is not 1% better -- if you're wiping to Doom Wells/Shared Fate on Gorefiend that early in the fight then 1% more DPS, 5% more DPS, and 20% more DPS all have the same effect: none.

And let's look at another statement in that block of quotes: "Casual or not, there is no excuse for not being the best you can."  Yes, yes there is.  Time is an obvious one -- I'm sure most people remember the horror of MoP dailies and rep gated valor items from multiple factions.  Overload is another one -- pretend you're a newer player trying to get into normal mode and figure this whole raiding this out.  You're given one of two "checklists":

Checklist A

1. Get Augment Runes from the AH for now, work on getting the permanent Augment Rune from Tanaan rep. 
2. Watch boss videos/guides for the first four bosses in HFC.
3. Figure out what your ideal stat priority so you can evaluate which pieces of your current gear are weakest.
4. Buy/craft some 715 items for those weakest slots.
5. Gem/enchant your gear with your best stats.
6. Figure out what your best stat is and get 125 stat food of that type, since feasts aren't optimal.
7. Research your set bonuses so you know which tier pieces you want and whether it's worth using some lower ilvl pieces.
8. Practice your skills in Proving Grounds.
9. Show up to raid and do your best.

Checklist B
1. Watch boss videos/guides for the first four bosses in HFC.
2. Gem/enchant your gear.
3. Practice your skills in Proving Grounds.
4. Show up to raid and do your best

In a perfect world, is someone who does all of Checklist A better off?  Sure.  But ask yourself this: what is the actual *practical* difference between the two in terms of end result?  I'll give you a hint: it's very small and insignificant for the vast, vast majority of Normal raiders.  And Checklist B is a lot more likely to actually get done for said players while Checklist A is likely to overwhelm/discourage them.

Before we conclude, let's take a look at some actual numbers about the difference that ideal vs non-ideal stats makes.  I'm going to look at Shadow Priests for two main reasons:

1. I play a Shadow Priest and have handy lists of gear available with stat weights/values.

2. Auspicious Spirits has some crazy secondary stat weights with Crit being worth more than Intellect and Mastery being less than half the value of Crit.  In other words, it is arguably the spec (or at least one of the top 2-3 specs) where stat weights matter *most.*  90% of specs or whatever are going to see a much *smaller* difference than what we find here.

So what we're going to do is pick out our ideal Mythic items from BRF and then pick out our least ideal items from BRF and see how much the best set possible versus the worst set possible changes our DPS.  They're all 700 ilvl (which is why we're doing BRF) and I'm going to ignore set bonuses for the moment (since in theory people would have four set either way and this way we can skew the results even MORE).  I'm also just truncating (rounding down, basically) the decimals for the sake of time -- also note that since we have sixteen slots that this means the maximum possible impact is a whole 16 int when we're dealing with thousands of int.

Also, I apologize in advance for any initial errors, intentionally trying to find the worst option possible from a particular tier at a certain ilvl is frustrating/annoying.

Best Set
Helm: Tier, 725.
Neck: Flamebender, 357.
Shoulders: Kromog, 547.
Back: Gruul, 359.
Chest: H&F, 718.
Bracers: Thogar, 398.
Hands: Tier, 479.
Belt: Iron Maidens, 509.
Legs: Flamebender, 679.
Boots: Beastlord, 511.
Ring 1: 715 Legendary, 472.
Ring 2: Beastlord, 378.
Trinket 1: Oregorger, 810.
Trinket 2: Blackhand, 736.
Main Hand: Blackhand, 2328.
Off-Hand: N/A

Total: 10,006 intellect (or the equivalence, rather).

Worst Set

Helm: Blackhand, 606.
Neck: Gruul, 335.
Shoulders: H&F, 476.
Back: Kromog, 340.
Chest: Thogar, 641.
Bracers: Blast Furnace, 391.
Hands: Kromog, 421.
Belt: Beastlord, 451.
Legs: Tier, 606.
Boots: Trash drop, 451.
Ring 1: 715 Legendary, 472.
Ring 2: Iron Maidens, 340.
Trinket 1: Blackhand, 736.
Trinket 2: Beastlord, 716.
Main Hand: Flamebender, 1909.
Off-Hand: Thogar, 316.

Total: 9207

Yeah.  So even with intentionally picking a spec with insanely skewed stat weights, intentionally ignoring tier (which is both a normalizing factor between the sets and an overall boost in power to both which decreases the percent difference), and intentionally/deliberately picking the absolute worst and absolute best sets possible to compare...we got less than an 8% difference.

90%+ of specs, even using this deliberately awful comparison, would probably see more like a 4-5% difference worst case.  And a person just randomly picking gear without regards to stats would see more like a 2-3% difference.  Maybe less.

Optimizing gear matters far, far less than most people think.

There is one last thing I want to point out/acknowledge.  A lot of Normal raiders may not be willing to improve -- they simply don't care enough to fix basic "rotation" problems or talent choices.  And for those people perhaps trying to optimize gear is the only way to get *any* improvement of their output, even if it's only 2-3%.  But, of course, Normal raids are not tuned to the point where that 2-3% even matters -- sheer ilvl increase over the course of a tier is going to result in a much larger improvement and the vast, vast majority of wipes are solely going to be due to massive screw-ups of mechanics.

This leads to perhaps a paradoxical conclusion: the people who are capable of realizing how small of a difference gear optimization makes are also the only people for who the gear optimization even matters.

Further reading: Talarian has an excellent post as well on the general topic of ilvl and (Warforged) upgrades as well as a second post particularly concerning sockets on items.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More Thoughts on Casual Progression in WoD

Someday I'll be better at actually making sure I'm writing stuff on my own blog and not leaving essays on other blogs.  That day is not today.  Well, uh, it sort of is, I guess, but that wasn't the main motivation here.

I've been leaving said essays on two blogs lately:

1, The Grumpy Elf has a post about a player unexpectedly ignoring mechanics in normal raids and the potential decline of raiding skill due to age/time away from WoW/etc.  There's sort of two "conversations" I have going on with Grumpy at the same time in the comments with the first being here and the second being here.

2. Azuriel has a post questioning the amount of content in WoD.  The comment chain I've been involved in starts here and it is quite long.  So long, in fact, that since Azuriel seems to have lost interest in the subject and it's a royal pain to reply that I'm "restarting" the chain here in an effort to bring the vertical scroll down to a more manageable length.  The last several replies have been to a MattH and that's who I am quoting in this post in response.

(Note: the following quote originated from Grumpy's post (which is why I noticed said post), though if you've read some of that already you might guess that I disagreed with that player being a good example of normal being overtuned -- rather, it was a player just completely ignoring mechanics)
MattH wrote...
I can’t think of one pre-Garrosh fight in Flex SoO that relied on one player following mechanics to not wipe the raid. Closest I can think of is Sha. Normal is overtuned. It should be the equivalent of Kharazan late BC if you are looking to have a Friends and Family raid, but that’s been the complaint since day one of WoD raids. Hell, Brackenspore killed so many raids I pugged, either because I had to sacrifice my dps to do the flamethrower or because others couldn’t do them properly. Yeah gear eventually took care of that, but not pug friendly.
 First of all, let's be clear about something -- most people's memories of Flex SoO are from when they overgeared the place and were facerolling it.  That whole year of farming with having an item level significantly above what the raid dropped (plus the direct item level upgrades and legendary cloak).  You also had a lot more mains raiding Normal/Heroic going to Flex or even going on just their alts out of sheer boredom.  Which meant a lot of the later raids in particular significantly outskilled and/or outgeared the content which is NOT happening now in Hellfire Citadel (or earlier in Highmaul/BRF).

Why is this important?  Well, your mention of Sha, for example, because I'm not even sure what you're referring to in the fight.  Breaking people out of prisons?  Avoiding getting Pride (because if you got a lot of Pride you could nuke the raid through one of several abilities based on Swelling Pride)?  The tanks taunt swapping to avoid getting Pride (and thus MCed)?  Or are we excluding tanks from these mechanics?

And then we bring in that skill/gear factor I mention above -- I actually remember being able to one-tank Sha of Pride due to having some very geared players (as in a large chunk of the raid being Heroic geared players doing Flex for fun with friends).  How did we deal with the lack of a tank swap?  We pushed him to 30% before the tank hit 100% pride so it then got reset (lusted on pull).  But that was not how Flex originally was in your average Flex group.

The point I'm making is that if you look at some of the following examples and think "Well, it didn't hit THAT hard" then you were doing the content with an overgeared or overskilled group.  Because I saw PUG groups struggle with some of stuff I'm about to mention.

1, Galakras required two people to be able to fire the cannon correctly at the same time and at the right time (didn't want to do it mid add-wave, for example).  Usually when discussing this topic people are referring to randomly targeted mechanics rather than assigned mechanics but you *did* mention Flamethrowers on Brackenspore.  In the final phase you needed to have people bring the fireball through the raid -- and I saw several cases where a person got targeted and got OUT of the raid since that's usually what those mechanics do.  Queue raid wipe.

2, Iron Juggernaut had the tank debuff, of course, and in the second phase a person kiting the laser over the tar while the pulse was going off could wipe the raid.

3, Dark Shamans had several more examples where one bad tank could screw over the raid -- taunt swap, slime placement, Ashan Wall placement, etc.  Individual raid members could run Foul Stream over a large chunk of the raid -- and if people were at lower health due to the Falling Ash landing <25% it could easily kill quite a few people and lead to a wipe.

 4. Nazgrim had another tank swap and if a person or two decided to stand in Aftershocks and DPS the boss during Defensive Stance you could easily get some Ravagers flying...which that person or two would then stand in and you get more Ravagers and oh god the axes.

5. Malkorok had another tank swap and required people to soak the puddles -- in theory anyone can get in any puddle...but in practice everyone can't run across the entire room to get the puddle next to that oblivious mage.  A person or two not soaking the puddles could lead to a wipe.  Then we had the Displaced Energy debuff during Blood Rage -- I don't want to count the times I saw everyone with the debuff stay in the raid and then the raid just exploded.

6. Thok had a tank swap (technically could be solo tanked but made the fight much harder) and, of course, the Fixate in phase 2.  Raise your hand if you saw someone get chased by Thok and they just led him through the entire raid.  Yeah.

7. Paragons had the Kuchongs which people could either stand next to and get Mesmerized into or they could just flat out run into the Kuchongs.  Either way you got the Mature Kuchongs which sucked to deal with and I saw them wipe some groups.  Technically you could often handle them as long as you didn't get more than one or two but...still a major problem.

So yeah.  SoO had a lot of mechanics that relied on individuals following them to not wipe the raid (or at least cause major problems which sometimes resulted in a wipe).

Regarding Brackenspore: I don't know what class you play(ed), but Flamethrowers technically should be a DPS increase if you do them correctly as a ranged DPS, at least.  Might be a DPS loss for melee, don't remember at this point.

This next part is talking about ZA/ZG in Cataclysm -- previously I pointed out that while he said the gear was nowhere close to the raids that had come out, they were only 6 ilvls below the normal raid difficulty at the time the dungeons came out (during Blackwing Descent/Bastion of Twilight/Throne of the Four Winds).
MattH wrote...
Except for the Valor and weapons, they were terrible. Justice got you 346 blues, Valor 359 purples. The only slot you couldn’t fill with Valor gear was the main hand drops in the Zul’s. Terrible as catch-up content, especially considering they were the only weapon drops available outside a raid until patch 4.3 dungeons. Imagine how many people spent a whole year with one weapon.
I don't understand what you expected out of them.  Valor gave gear equal to normal raids (current heroic difficulty) and had a weekly limit -- you could only get one item every week or two.  Did you expect ZA/ZG to also give gear equal to normal raids despite being easier and on a daily lockout?  You might be able to *eventually* fill most slots with Valor but that would take months to do (even one item per week on average would be 14+ weeks for a full Valor set -- that's 3.5 months of capping Valor every week).

Again, normal BD/BoT/TotFW (tier 11 -- which was the *current* content, you had nothing to catch up to at the time) was tuned around 346 blues.  ZA/ZG gave 353 gear.  It was amazing catch up content in that regard -- though whether they were too difficult is another story (meaning ZA/ZG were too difficult for their intended audience -- *I* loved them personally).

Then you mention 4.3 in a manner that makes me think you're trying to talk about ZG/ZA as catch-up content for both tier 11 AND Firelands.  I don't see how that makes any sense given that ZG/ZA were released before Firelands was the current content.

So now if we're talking Firelands catch-up content, when Firelands came out there was a new selection of Valor gear while the old Valor gear became purchasable for Justice.  Meaning you could get ton of 359 items from Justice, some 365 items from the Molten Front, and 378 items from Valor.  Weapon-wise you could get a 365 weapon from Blacksmithing (BoE so could buy it on AH as I recall).  If people spent an entire year with one weapon from ZA/ZG then they weren't raiding (otherwise they'd have a tier 11 or Firelands weapon) and didn't care enough to buy a crafted weapon.

So I'm really not sure what to say here.  Cataclysm/ZA/ZG all certainly had some flaws but what you're talking about doesn't seem to have been a major issue...

Next up we have dungeon (either dropped or "Valor" type rewards) vs LFR gear!  The previous question was "Dragon Soul LFR dropped 384 with tier/trinkets/etc. The dungeons with the same patch dropped 378. Are you claiming that no one was running those 378 dungeons for catch-up/alternate progression?"
MattH wrote...
No, but I do claim people won’t now. If anything it’s the opposite of Cata LFR. LFR gear is obsolete within a few weeks because of the Tanaan gearing. Those people who are looking to get into a normal run would see more upgrades from the outdoor grind than from LFR. It’s almost a direct violation of the RNG-as-content argument that Blizzard trots out constantly. It’s certainly more likely to get you the items you need and not extend out play time for most LFR players. Except maybe hunters looking to transmog that god awful tier set. Sad that the LFR mail set actually looks better.
A major thing you're missing here is the time investment.  The vast majority of people who only run LFR/dungeons are not going to be doing all of the the dailies every single day.  Even if you did do all the dailies every day and earned, say, 6667 crystals per day (I don't know how accurate that number is, I basically just tripled the "main" quest's rewards) it would still take a minimum of 45 days to get *just* the upgrade items themselves (well, technically 42 if you also do the Garrison Campaign for Tanaan since you get a free upgrade item).  Then you also need another 5000 crystals per slot you didn't get a drop/reward of and 10000 for a weapon slot in particular.  This is also assuming a 2H or ranged weapon -- add some more time in if you use two unique weapon slots.

That is a massive amount of time invested right there whereas LFR takes significantly less time relative to the rewards given.  That's the paradigm -- LFR will gear you far more quickly with less effort but the gear is random and a lot of it is worse than the Tanaan Empowered gear.  Then you can fill any slots missing with Empowered gear and/or crafted gear if you want.

Also, LFR is not *supposed* to be extended out.  Blizzard specifically wants people who only do LFR to get through it quickly and then unsubscribe if they so wish, not drag out a gear grind in it.  They said they'd rather have a person generally enjoy their LFR (gearing) experience and be wanting to resubscribe for the next patch rather than have that person miserable and hating LFR and quitting WoW entirely.

Now we have a discussion of catching up in WoD and I pointed out that "If your goal is to raid, then in 6.0 and 6.1 catching up was never easier in the history of WoW. However, it did require doing LFR and normal and/or heroic of older raids (in addition to other things like crafting, apexis gear, and so on). And since HM/BRF was the current tier, there wasn’t really anything to catch-up TO if you weren’t raiding." 
MattH wrote...
Not a huge fan of raiding the same raid to raid. Raids should be what you strive for, not what you do to do more of what you’ve done, grinding LFR, to grind Normal, to grind Heroic. This expansion and Cataclysm are the two that essentially ask you to do that since Blizzard established catch-up mechanisms. Before that you had faction grinds and dungeons, content outside of the raids themselves.
Where did I ever say "grind LFR to grind Normal to grind Heroic?"  We were discussing someone trying to catch up as quickly as possible here to Normal/Heroic raiding.  Between 630 dungeon blues, 640 Challenge Mode epics, up to three 670 crafted items, various 655+ BoEs, 640 LFR Highmaul items, and potentially even some Apexis gear you could *easily* be ready for Normal, hell, even Heroic Highmaul within a week of hitting 100.  I trust you're not saying that potentially doing Highmaul LFR one time for an item or three due to being behind the curve is a grind?  That's not even getting into the Conquest items either which were 660 I believe.
MattH wrote...
Look, all I want is gear progression that lets me test myself, that I can do with 4 friends, without having to find 5-25 more, that is new content, not rehashed, warmed over, tired material. Now all I have is the hope that I don’t get into a group of mouthbreathers in a normal raid after spending an hour in Group Finder asking every open group if they need a dps, and no other content short of that.
I’m not trying to convince you that you aren’t having fun, that you aren’t enjoying yourself, all I am trying to get across is that this expac feels skimpy if you aren’t either a raider, or don’t care about social play outside of RP. I’d probably be fine with “Mythic” dungeons had I not exhausted my tolerance of them long ago, simply because they were the only thing to do.

I would think that you’d like to see me and others like me happy, so that we keep subbed and you keep getting the content you like. We don’t know below what threshold they won’t be able to pay the people who make your favored content, even though FFXIV can do it with less than 4 million subs, so you probably aren’t close, but I hope you never stop raiding, because there’s nothing else right now.
Have you considered using a site like OpenRaid rather than the Group Finder?  You're a lot more likely to find quality groups there that lack the "mouthbreathers" you mention.  I know you said you don't have a set schedule, but you don't have to go to the same run every week or something.

And I'm not sure why you're trying to get that across to me -- I've said multiple times through the comments I left that I agreed that if you tried to play WoD at max level "solo" and didn't want to do anything besides daily quests, normal/heroic dungeons, and LFR that there was very little to do.

Things like...

"If your goal is to do solo content, some five man normal/heroic dungeons, and then an occasional LFR…then yeah, WoD would suck for you. Very little max level solo content (mostly a weekly quest chain that took probably less than an hour per week), quickly obsoleted normal/heroic dungeons, and LFR intentionally watered down to pure tourist mode.

On the flip side, if you’re interested in Normal/Heroic/Mythic raiding then raiding has literally never been better or easier to get into, for example."

"Someone who mainly does dungeons/max level solo content would have loathed WoD (and for good reason from their perspective)."

"The problem was that if you take all of them together you wind up gutting the game for people who don’t want to engage in organized group content at ANY level of difficulty (PvP OR PvE) and their experience sucks. They basically just took away stuff from the “solo” player and added it to other sections of the game (raids are better than ever for many reasons) but didn’t replace the stuff for “solo” players with anything those players wanted."

"Where did I disagree? Pretty sure I’ve said multiple times that WoD massively lacked stuff the “solo” players were used to."


That said, what *would* make you happy?  Azuriel said he'd be happy with 2-3 new (harder) dungeons per raid with better rewards and all dungeons giving Valor -- basically the ICC patch but every patch.  But presumably mostly doing the same dungeons over and over again (with a few new ones added into the pool each raid tier) for a renewing Valor gear grind would fall into the category of "rehashed, warmed over, tired" stuff for you (I personally can't imagine doing an entire expansion of that, for the record).

So his solution wouldn't satisfy you -- what do you think is a reasonable solution?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Been Rather Busy, But a Cross-Post...

I apologize for the vast delay on...well, anything happening here.  RL has been busy, WoW has been busy, other games have kept me busy.  A few things of note:

1, my guild got 13/13H week one of Hellfire Citadel on two nights a week which was technically US 30th (despite killing Archimonde on Monday night at about 11 PM CST).  Very happy about that.  We prepared a lot (no PTR testing, didn't work for our schedule -- Sun/Mon is fun) and it paid off.

2, I was interviewed on the Twisted Nether blogcast.  So if you want to hear me ramble on for two hours feel free to check it out.

3, I'm still running weekly Openraid runs, switched to normal Hellfire Citadel with the release of 6.2.  May possibly switch to heroic a few months down the line, but we stick with normal until we're full clearing it consistently and people don't need much gear from it.  If you're new there's no guarantee you'll have a spot (some weeks we have like 20ish, some weeks we're at the max of 30) but if you're interested then feel free to sign up.  The run is meant for anyone -- have a mix of casual members in guild, alts in guild, bored mains in guild, and friends both on and off server.  That said, like the description says, it IS normal and thus you need to be willing to, well, actually try.  We don't expect perfection or even anything remotely close to it but if you show up completely unenchanted with empty sockets and try to AFK fights, well...

I'm working on another post at the moment but I got distracted by what wound up being a very a long comment on another blog so I decided to post said comment here as well.  In general, I've been enjoying WoD and particularly the raids.  I hardly think the expansion is perfect (both the garrison and shipyard have many issues, for example) but I admit it annoys me when I see people try to pick on WoD unjustifiably (stick to the justifiable stuff, please).

So I saw this post and left the following comment...


I don't think this is exactly fair:

"WoD will clearly be marked as the expansion with the least amount of content since launch.  2.5 raid tiers, 8 dungeons, no races, no classes, Garrisons, which killed cities, Ashran which put the final nail in open world PvP, a near-complete destruction of crafting.  But we got selfies."

1, WoD launched with Shadowmoon Valley/Frostfire Ridge (I'll combine them as they're mostly faction specific even though they each took an entire's zone of work), Gorgrond, Talador, Spires of Arak, and Nagrand.  So that's five "main" zones for leveling and I'd also point out that many of those are larger than past leveling zones.

BC launched with seven, best case -- Hellfire, Zangarmarsh, Terokkar, Nagrand, Blade's Edge, Netherstorm, Shadowmoon.  Terokkar/Blade's Edge were both smaller zones and Netherstorm/Shadowmoon were mostly intended for max level (while in WoD specific segments of those five zones were set aside for max level to continue previous storylines).  So even if you argue that BC had more in that regard, it's not substantially more.

In theory, WotLK had eight...except two are basically mutually exclusive (similar to Shadowmoon/Frostfire in that regard), Grizzly/Zul'drak were smaller, and Icecrown/Storm Peaks had mostly max level content.

Cataclysm hit us with Vashj'ir/Hyjal (same mutually exclusive thing), Deepholm, Uldum, and Twilight Highlands.  So that's five absolute best case, more like four if we compare to WoD (though, in all fairness, they did need to revamp all the earlier leveling zones in Azeroth).

MoP had six best case with Valley/Krasarang really "one" zone rolled into two names, size/story wise.

Put that all together and WoD equaled or exceeded MoP for sure, definitely exceeded Cataclysm (though leveling revamp), was about equal (maybe slightly smaller) than WotLK, and about the same as BC.

2, the raid tiers have 30 bosses between them (also note that Blizzard has explicitly said they want to get closer to a year between expansions, which means you can only realistically HAVE two raid tiers if they have like 12+ bosses per tier (about six months for each) so expecting more than that means you also have to take issue with Blizzard's expansion goal) -- and we'll lay aside quality for the moment (since it take massively more amounts of work to not only design modern bosses compared to something like BC but also to balance them for multiple difficulties -- LFR doesn't take careful tuning but Normal/Heroic do and Mythic is very tight tuning).

BC had three bosses in t4, 10 bosses in t5, and 14 bosses in t6.  That gives us 27 total (not counting Sunwell since that was planned for WotLK and only introduced to avoid too long of a wait -- hence something like that could technically happen for WoD still).  That doesn't include the 13 bosses in Karazhan (if we count every Opera boss individually) or 6 in Zul'Aman but the raids were also designed for only one size (and difficulty, but we said we'd leave difficulties/tuning/quality out of it for now).  Overall, though, absolute best case we have 52 bosses for 22 months of BC (counting Sunwell) compared to (theoretically) 30 bosses for maybe 13-14 months (hopefully) of WoD.  Ratio of 2.36 for BC and 2.14-2.31 for WoD which isn't far off.

WotLK technically had 15 bosses in Naxx (though given that they literally just adjusted some numbers and the tuning was laughable I'm not sure how much that counts), 1 in Malygos, 14 in Ulduar, 5 in Trial of the Crusader, and 12 in Icecrown Citadel (ignoring Ruby Sanctum since it was added as filler and literally was only 1 boss anyway, wouldn't even make a significant difference).  So best case (even WITH Ruby Sanctum) we're looking at 48 bosses for 25 months which is a ratio of 1.92...which is worse than both BC and WoD, especially given the lack of effort needed for Naxx.

Cataclysm had 28 bosses TOTAL counting Sinestra.  That's just flat out less than WoD.

Mists of Pandaria had 42 bosses for 25 months, or 1.68 ratio...not exactly a "good" ratio there compared WoD.

The funny thing is that people didn't complain about the lack of overall raid content in WotLK/Cata/MoP despite the fact the ratio was "lower" than BC -- they really only complained about super long final patches.  And that "ratio" can't even afford to get too high -- guilds can only go through raid bosses so fast.  Even if Blizzard could drop a 10 boss raid zone on us every month it wouldn't make any sense to do so, we can't consume the content at that pace.

So really, the only reason you could complain about the "lack" of raid content in WoD is if you want the time between expansions to be longer than Blizzard's stated goal...which I guess you'd do because you're concerned about the one-time expansion purchase fee or something?

3, no races/classes.  This is completely a matter of personal taste -- I don't *want* new classes and I don't care about new races either.  Remember that a new race also means every piece of gear needs to work for that new race too and a new class can cause major issues (balancing 11 classes is already a major problem -- and I don't mean Blizzard is incompetent, I mean that it's really hard to do).  I admit it kind of feels like the people usually wanting new races/classes are the people NOT doing high end PvE/PvP.  I'm not saying you're "inferior" or something if you don't engage in either of those, just keep in mind that our perspectives are vastly different about some things.

4, Garrisons.  I honestly don't know what "killed cities" means in this context.  I didn't pay attention to other players in cities before and I can still meet people in many locations (including garrisons AND cities) if I want.  The only times I really recall cities "mattering" are...

Vanilla: people tried to show off gear on Ironforge bridge and people spammed trade for groups.

BC: people spammed trade for groups.

WotLK: people spammed trade for groups.

Beyond that?...  I mean, I guess people sometimes people spammed trade for actual trade...but that still happens today too.

I interact with people in guild chat, group finder (as in pre-made raid group tool), OpenRaid, and blogs mainly.  Cities never really played a role.

5, Ashran.  I'll admit I don't really follow/participate in PvP much these days so I'll just skip this point.  Maybe you're right, we can try to discuss it if you want, but I'm not sure it's really important in the grand scheme of things (aka, even if you're 100% right on that I don't think it would matter if you weren't right on everything else).

6, Crafting.  I honestly don't know what you want.  Vanilla/BC crafting was terrible -- complete RNG for rare open world drops for the most part, some raid drops I think?  I got a rare tailoring belt pattern in BC and had a monopoly on it for a while since only I could provide the primals.  Made me a lot of money but I don't think it was a good system.  Saying that everyone can slowly work towards items with daily cooldowns seems to generally have been the best system yet.  Yes, it does mean that there was little people could do outside of the daily cooldowns.  I'm not saying it's perfect, but what crafting system in WoW was better?  Remember, you said it was a "near-complete destruction of crafting" :P

7, selfies.  I'm pretty sure a Blue posted that the vast majority of the "feature" was done by one employee over a weekend or three.  If I'm wrong I will gladly retract this statement but I seem to recall that.  And as a programmer myself I can assure you that adding the "selfie" feature would not have been a major ordeal.  We didn't lose a raid tier because of selfies.  The music jukebox honestly probably took more work but you don't see people complaining about that.