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Face to Face with the Lich King

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Wednesday night, Razorblade Arcade took advantage of the raid lockout extension feature to finally push through Singdragosa. With new Frost Resistance gear for our tanks and an improved block placement strategy, we were able to get her down on just the second attempt… and that left us with just the Lich King.

That’s when I realized – this is the last boss! We’re about to BEAT THE GAME. This is really significant to me, as I have a nasty habit of not finishing games of any type. Whether it’s because I don’t want it to end or because something new takes my inerest, I just never seem to reach the “final boss”.

World of Warcraft has been no different. In Vanilla, I was no where near the end of the game (mind you, not many were.) In Burning Crusade, I wasn’t even ready to set foot in the final raid dungeon. But Wrath has opened a lot of doors for a lot of people, and I am glad of that. There’s a feeling of conclusion to a story this time around, and I am a bit humbled by it.

I’m both excited to finally kill the last boss, and also scared to be finished. I know there will still be plenty of things for me to do, alts and hard modes waiting to be taken on, but this really is the end of the core story until the next expansion.

This demonstrates the strengths of this expansion. Yes, I’ve had issues with how raids have been released, and the 10 vs 25 setup has had it’s faults, but I think Blizzard has accomplished what they set out to do: All players, no matter how much or little they play the game, have the ability to follow a whole story through questing, dungeons and all the way to the final encounter.

I really hope they’re able to build a similar feeling with Cataclysm, even though they can’t have quite as interesting a villain to focus on as Arthas.

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Spammy Hunter Macros in WotLK

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

2007-08-02spamBack in my day, all we had was Steady Shot and a mousewheel!

Things have changed a lot for Hunters since the days of BC.  And while we no longer are consistently at the top of the damage meters, I would still say things have changed for the better.  Nearly everyone was BM.  And almost everyone had given up the fine art of handweaving shots, to use a spammable macro which would use our cooldowns, avoid auto-shot clipping and let us hit one button constantly to pump out proper DPS.

Now, we have priorities.  We have people playing each spec viably in raid settings, all with different styles and focuses.  You don’t have to even think about your auto-shots anymore, just timing your abilities and cooldowns to be used most efficiently.

I now use at least 5 buttons in my regular ‘rotation’, and I’ve mastered the ability to keep an eye on my cooldowns and my environment at the same time.

“The days of the spammable macro are gone!  Long live priorities!”  I exclaimed.

But I was wrong.  Apparently, people have built macros that still can be spammed, casting all abilities in the right order and priority.  I know a few people who use these, both for Survival and Marksmanship.

They are not simple macros, either.  “Why does it call all these other macros and use all these castsequences and stuff?” I asked someone who was a big supporter of his giant do-it-all button. “It’s because they won’t let you use more than 1 GCD in a macro, so this works around that.”

But wait… didn’t they do that for a reason?  If they wanted you to work around it, wouldn’t they have just allowed it in the first place?  /confuzzled.

To me, it’s silly.  It’s silly to put all your eggs in one basket, or all your abilities in one button.  What do you do if you want to change your priority?  What if you want to use Multi-shot instead of Aimed Shot?  Can you do it with the macro?  I don’t know.  But I don’t like it.

I like having full control of my character, pressing buttons when they are ready, my own personal whack-a-mole.

But that’s not for everyone.

I’m not going to say I think these convoluted macros are cheating, or that they make you a worse player.  It’s a different playstyle.  True, it’s not my playstyle, but who am I to say what is right or wrong?  Some people prefer to hit multiple buttons when they flash, some people prefer to spend a bunch of time learning and writing giant macros so that they can do it all with one button – both require some kind of skill.  Is it really different to be smacking 5 buttons or smacking 1 button?

So what do you think of these macros?  Do you use one?  Do you think they make someone a bad player?

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Achievements: The New Progression

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

The officers of Unemployed had a little meeting last night, and discussed things along the lines of raid morale and attitude and such.  One part of the discussion got me really thinking.

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that with Wrath of the Lich King, the goals of a raider must change.  My goal can no longer be to work my way week by week through a dungeon, hoping to someday take down the big bad guy at the end.  I’ve taken down all the big bad guys that are available to me, and I’ve had them down a number of times already.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve “beaten the game”.  Yes, there are fewer boss encounters and raid dungeons to see than there were in Burning Crusade or Vanilla.

But achievements are the new encounters.

And this is something that many raiders need to be convinced of, including me.  I may not like it, but it’s the way it is.

Now, people who are playing this game to challenge themselves, rather than because they are fans of the lore and design, would probably have a much easier time coming to grips with this concept.

However, from a lore perspective, it was a lot more compelling to be working towards some big head honcho and killing his lackeys along the way.  To work towards that moment when you finally, after weeks of work, take that evil man/dragon/demon down and teach him a lesson!

There’s no lore-based reason to take Sartharion down with his drakes up.  Whether we walk in there and take the drakes down first, or leave them up, we’re still walking out of there with a dragon and 3 drakes lying on the floor.  And I feel this is one reason why people are having a hard time trying to see what is left for them to see and do in raiding.

I understood their goal with this expansion was to allow everyone to see all of the content rather than restricting it to the top few percentages who had the right combination of skill, time and coordination.  I always thought that they tried to do this with their 10- and 25-man versions of all raids, and I felt it wasn’t working properly because most of the 10- and 25-man fights are identical, you just have more/less people to worry about.

But I was wrong.  The way they’ve allowed everyone to see the content, yet still give something for hardcore players to work towards is through “hard modes”, achievements.

Achievements are usually thought of optional fun little things that you can do as a bit of a challenge to yourself, or as some way to get yourself a shiny new mount.  And some of them are exactly that!  There are many players who just aren’t interested in optional fun little things or new mounts, they want to raid, see new content and to play the game for what they’ve always enjoyed.

But what they fail to see is that encounters like Sartharion with drakes up are not just optional fun ways of changing a fight – they are completely new encounters in themselves.

From a Raid/Guild leader perspective, it’s MUCH more difficult to motivate people to want to kill a boss they’ve already killed just to do it with more difficulty, with some sort of handicap.  This is a froward challenge that all leaders must be prepared to work through, and it’s something we’re dealing with right now.

When a progression guild is recruiting, they say up front if they’ve done 3D, or 2D or 1D.  They don’t just say they’ve killed Sarth (unless, well, they’ve only killed Sarth).

This is because it’s not about just getting a new mount, it’s about the challenge.  It’s about the skill.  The different in difficulty from killing Sartharion to killing Sartharion with all three drakes grows exponentially, and those who are able to get 3D down have what it takes.

And it seems with Ulduar, this will continue as the norm.  You might blow through all of the new raid within the first couple of weeks of the patch release, but you’ll then need to spend months working on getting the “hard mode” achievements.

Like I’ve said, I don’t like it.  But I’ve come to understand that it’s the way things are going to be now.

That might change when Icecrown Citadel comes along and the majority of raiding guild have Arthas down in the first few weeks, and just spend the rest of the game trying to see if they can all do it with their hands tied behind their backs…

But for now, I can accept it.

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I am NOT prepared!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Okay, I know, wrong expansion… but whatevs.

I don’t want to be one of the people who cries about all the downtime we’ve been having lately, and how it ruins my life not being able to play.

I also don’t want to be one of those people who pats Blizzard on the back for being the saviours of the world and tells everyone to wait patiently.

But to be honest, I am probably leaning more on the QQ-side.

I understand that it takes a lot of work to prepare for the expansion, and they’re trying to make the expansion burst go as smoothly as possible, but both last Thursday, this Tuesday and it seems today as well have been periods of major downtime.  We’ve lost a couple of days worth of play time as they’ve been trying to quickly get things ready for the 13th.

IF the expansion is released, and everyone is able to play all weekend long without a hitch… I will maybe hop on the “let’s forgive Blizzard” bandwagon.  But I doubt it’s going to happen.  There will still be major server problems when the expansion hits, in spite of all this extra downtime.  The result?  We’ll have lost play time both before AND after release.

Losing these last couple days of game time has been a bit of a big deal to me, since I’ve been hoping to use them to finish off the last things I need to do before the expansion, and maybe get a last few quests done on my Mage before she’s temporarily abandoned for the 70-80 ride on both Brajana and Ferguson.

While I understand maintenance is necessary, unexpected downtime is not cool at all.  It is not the end of the world when I can’t play WoW, but when I’ve got a tight schedule and I’ve planned specific times I’d like to play, or when I’m hoping to get on and talk to a few guildies, it’s really a major inconvenience and disappointment.

I would also appreciate more updates and ETAs.  If there’s no update, I tend to wait around twiddling my thumbs hoping it’s just going to last a little longer.  Even if the ETAs are not entirely accurate, letting us know whether we should expect to wait 30 minutes extra, or in the case of yesterday, 12 hours extra, it would be a really nice gesture.

Enough QQ.

Here’s a list of things I’d like to finish off before tomorrow:

  • Clean up Brajana’s bags and bank, make her ready for questin’!
  • Try to finish a couple more cooking achievements that I won’t want to go back and do once I start leveling
  • Get Gorilla from level 68 to 70 (and maybe think of a name for him!)
  • Clear out my Blog drafts of posts I half wrote but didn’t finish and won’t be relevant post-Wrath.

This will likely be my last post before the expansion.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when I first get out there, since unlike a lot of people I’ve actually got no idea where I’m going or what is going on, thanks to my lack of Beta experience and ingoring of all things Beta related!  It’ll be a whole new game for me.

*bounces like a Night Elf with excitement*

Err… please pretend you didn’t just see that.

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Early Morning Thoughts of Wrath

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

What’s this?  Brajana is posting?

Yes, my friends.  It’s 1:30am on a Tuesday monring, I’ve spent the last 6 hours getting 5 questions done on a 10 question assignment that is due at 8:30am.  So what am I doing?

Writing about Wrath of the Lich King.

As the expansion gets closer and closer, my mind has been pushing forward and starting to think about how I’m going to handle the new expansion when it hits.  Our guild has almost stopped raiding completely, and have found ourselves only pulling enough interest to do ZA.  And I’ve found myself with little time to do anything but my Brewfest dailies for the last little while.

In fact, I don’t think I’ll be getting much done on Brajana between now and November, and I’ve almost put Ferguson in a little hibernation chamber waiting for the expansion to hit.  I really miss playing my priest, but with school and work and November all going full-speed ahead, there’s just no time for rep grinds and Kara runs.

Anyway, back to the point.  What am I going to do when Wrath hits?

When The Burning Crusade came out, I picked it up the evening after it came out, and barely played it in the first week it was out.

I’ve gotten a lot more involved since then, and part of me wants to hit up a midnight release and join my guildies in that first burst off the boat, racing for quest mob respawns and trying to get to 80 ASAP for raiding.

But the other part of me, the sleepy part and the part that genuinely enjoys questing and exploring would rather sleep in, pick up the game after class and take my time doing the quests.

Next question – pets.  I did my little review a couple of weeks ago – and yes, I took screenshots… but now is not the time for me to look for them – and I’m still pretty set on getting a Moth.  I can even get one when the patch comes out, and then I’ll probably have a level 70 Moth to bring out to Northrend with me right away.

And I think I’d eventually like to get a Gorilla.  I’ve watched BRK’s Gorilla videos, and heard what he’s said about the tanking ability in instances and such.  I’ve never been much for AoE grinding, but I sure don’t think it could hurt to be able to hold a bunch of mobs in place.  So I think, at whatever level the first Gorillas are in Northrend, I’ll probably grab one of those.

*looks at looming algorithms assignment*

Hrm.

Soo, achievements!  Getting a bit excited for some of those.  I’ve even been working on the Brewmaster ones, because “Brewmaster Brajana” is just such a cool title.

Amava Knows Aggro has had a couple interesting posts about her opinion of achievements, and it’s been nice to hear another player’s honest view of them.  Someone who isn’t working their butts off before the expansion even hits to get these things unlocked.  I don’t think that’s what they are meant for, but I suppose they are for whatever you mean them to be!

I must admit, I picked up the 60% Brewfest Ram today to add it to my collection.  And I’ll probably work on a few more mounts once they are learnable.  But I’d be likely to do that whether their were points for it or not.  I have always seen my mount collection as a pukka achievement!

Speaking of which, anyone know if there has been a way figured out so you can randomly summon mounts?  Maybe someone will make an addon that could do it?  I hope there’s something.  Because that is one of my favourite tricks!

Okay.  Enough rambling.

The Algorithms are calling me.