Death Knight Spree

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Blog closing - for good this time!

I've decided to consolidate my blogs into something more general. In future anything I write about WoW will be in my new blog, Stabbed Up.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mudflation and the 3.2 badge changes

Escape Hatch, always a great read got me thinking tonight and I'm putting one of the posts up here as I think it is of general interest.

I think Blizzard has dug itself into a pit with its policies on mudflation.

Mudflation is used in these games as a way of keeping people interested. If the gear had never got better after Lucifron then by now everyone would have every sidegrade they could possibly want and there would be no reason to run raids for loot for 99% of players.

That's all well and good and fair enough.

However the way gear works in a raid is that each different attribute multiplies all the others. For instance if your tanks' armour goes up 1% then your raid is about 1% better. However if every stat goes up 1% then the tanks are avoiding more, mitigating more, defending a larger health pool and being healed by a healer team with faster casting, more mana, bigger heals and more crit heals. And of course they don't need to keep the tanks alive as long since the dps finishes off the boss faster.

Because of this 1% would have been a reasonable step up from tier to tier. At most 2%. Because 1% on all your stats for each raider is about 10% on the raid as a whole.

Because this isn't intuitive to non-mathematical players Blizzard implemented its mudflation by giving large boosts to the quality of gear. Each Tier is about 10% better than the last tier in every stat.

This means that a raid going up a Tier becomes much more powerful. The same player with the same rotation goes from 1k dps to 5k dps. Purely as a function of gear upgrades.

This means they couldn't possibly bring in a new tier of content without making a large swathe of top raid loot available to fresh dinged 80s. Because otherwise they would be so far behind there would be no point taking them or people would be angry about "boosting" "slackers".

I can see why Blizzard likes bug solid upgrades that make people says "wow". But the price of them is that they escalate mudflation.

I recently gave up raiding seriously but have started pootling about on a shaman alt on Kazzak EU server. It's one of the more conpetitive servers around. There is a wierd gap opened up between fresh-dinged 80s and raiders. The raiders run Ulduar with their guilds. They pug Naxx. There are no Naxx guilds. There are guilds that have level 70-fresh 80 players which are about to start naxx. But as soon as people get the achievement they leave their guilds and pug. Since the pugs are all people with the achievement (and sometimes with the Epic achievement required too) the pug can clear Naxx in 3 hours.

If new raid content was brought in without opening things up then all the players who are stuck in the can't get a raid without achievement, can't get achievement without raid trap are locked out of the entire pve end-game.

It's very much an unforeseen consequence that making Naxx so face-rollable allows people to be so selective. It's also an unforeseen consequence that making gear progression so steep means people without the gear really are useless. No one will want my 1k spellpower shammy on a Naxx raid, even if they are short of healers.

I think the solution is a shorter gear curve but I hope that explains why they have had to take drastic action to stop fresh 80s being locked out of raiding.

My other response to Hatch was more specific and of less general interest. It's here if you want to read it.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Reports of my demise...

I think I'm interested enough in WOW to play it very casually and occasionally post here.

So reports of the demise of Death Knight Spree may have been exaggerated. However it's more of a Level 1 Zombie Snotling than a Death Knight just now.

"We could pug raids without linking achievements before"


You didn't

Stop making stuff up

I've raided since Onyxia was the top raid instance and the history of pug raiding is something like this:

Mar 2005 - Jan 2006 No one pugged raids. Very few people raided at all.

Feb 2006 - Jun 2006 semi pugs of MC and ZG started. Almost invariably people from more progressed guilds who had either left or didn't need their lockout would organise a raid by inviting as many people from notably successful raid guilds as possible adding a few hardcore pvpers (who were great raid dps) and rounding out with a few complete strangers.

Jul 2006-Dec 2006 widespread pugging of MC and ZG. Very little pugging of anything higher because those instances were considered too hard for people who didn't know what a rotation was and didn't know tactics (standard pug back then).

Jan 2007-May 2007 raids were the hardest ever. Karazhan was brutal. Attumen trash respawned every 15 minutes meaning if you were slow clearing it spawned on your casters and wiped you. Moroes extremely hard with the mortal striking add able to two shot a clothy and the garotte lasting 5 minutes. Even if you killed him garrotted people would bleed to death. No one pugged raids. Hell, no one even pugged heroics. The top guilds in the world were unable to finish TK- The Eye.

Jun 2007-Mar 2008 Karazhan successively nerfed to the point where people started to try pugs there. Usually depended on over-geared people with T5 or T6 loot leading. All higher content still too hard to pug.

Apr 2008 - Aug 2008 Kara pugs become common. Pugs becoming available for ZA and SSC but gear is carefully checked by the raid leader. Basically you have to have killed the content to get into the pug.

Sep 2008-Nov 2008. Sunwell Radiance removed. All raid bosses hit points lowered by 30%. Most content up to and including early SW25 is pugged. Kara through BT raids simply zerg down the bosses with a raid full of people not listening or knowing tactics, gameplay is more like Diablo 2 than traditional WOW raiding.

Dec 2008 to Feb 2008. Naxx is discovered and found to be easy. People still generally go with guilds though.

Mar 2008 to present. Widespread raid pugging usually with requests to Link Achievement.

Conclusion. Please do not spread the LIE that everyone pugged raids happily until achievements were introduced. Before achievements were introduced you would not be asked to link one because YOU WOULD NOT BE ASKED TO RAID.

Got it?

(Reposted from the WoW EU R&D forums)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Signing off for now

I'm taking a break from WoW. Real life combines badly with raid leading if you become unexpectedly busy so I'm going to play a game where it matters less if I don't show up.

Thank you for reading I'll be making a new blog about Eve Online soon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

CPP: when the store stops extending credit

Gevlon tore into the notion of the Consumer Producer Paradigm recently based on a flawed notion that it is identical to his own paradigm that WoW has two types of players: competent players on the one hand and morons and slackers on the other.

There are several reasons why CPP is a more robust model for raiding than tolerating underachievers and the most significant is that you are able to set a minimum standard. (For other reasons I refer you to my response over on Gevlon's site).

The minimum standard varies from guild to guild and changes over time. As far as Might of Kalimdor is concerned we're still finding our level. However we start from this single basic principle:

1) However good or bad you are currently you must be set up to improve. We want people who are paying attention, interested and enthusiastic. Our best dpsers I can remember being under 1k dps on some early heroics when we were all in blues and greens. Our highest throughput healer is completely new to WoW with this character that he rolled in January.

Effectively attention is the currency in which we producers expect to be paid and improvement is the verification that you are paying.

Some things which show as positive in this regard are:

- meter performance
- performance of an assigned task (eg if you're a healer did you let your tank die?)
- coping with raid boss gimmicks (eg safety dance, not standing in fires, not faceplanting etc)
- listening on Vent
- participating in chat, jokes are a great sign people are awake and alert (we have very light-hearted raids)
- supportiveness. We need you to be in our side and not out for yourself at other people's expense. We recently removed two players who complained about not getting more loot.

Over time the guild will be raising the bar. At the moment we get 20-25 people logging on for each 25 man raid which is not really viable. We just need to push a little past that and then the management can focus more on helping people to meet the standards needed to push us through Ulduar.

So I'd welcome feedback on this: where do you set the minimum bar and what in particular shows that someone is failing to meet the minimum?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Death Knight specs

I'm now going to review the specs I've used since patch 3.1 hit and talk about the way I use them.

Blood tanking

This spec double dips Frost for Frigid Dreadplate while taking many of the survivability and self-heal Blood talents. I think it is the strongest possible DK survivability spec. It has fantastic cooldown uptime, great mitigation and outputs in 25 man raids about 1/4 to 1/3 as much healing as a full-on healing specced raid-buffed healer. I use this spec when I'm tanking a boss that might kill me and aoe threat is not an issue.

Rotation is diseases + Heart Strike, Death Strike, Rune Strike. Excess rp is dumped into Death Coil self-heals (using Lichborne) or Death Coil attacks.

Cooldowns are:
Mark of Blood (20 secs every 3 mins)
Icebound Fortitude (12 secs every minute)
Anti-magic shell (5 secs every 45 secs)
Vampiric Blood (30 secs every 2 mins)
Rune Tap (instant every 30 secs)
Lichborne (15 secs every 3 mins)
Trinket: Defender's Code (20 secs every 2 mins)

I aim to keep most of these on cooldown while tanking in this spec. Vampiric Blood is the most powerful cooldown so it's the one to plan the others around if you know the boss damage will spike or the one to use first otherwise.

Threat tanking build (Unholy)

This is significantly lighter on survivability but gets a number of area effect threat abilities as well as a well-developed Scourge Strike. Scourge Strike and Death and Decay are especially important in a high threat build because they have an extra threat multiplier in addition to the multiplier gained from Frost Presence. (Source: Tankspot).

Rotation for AoE threat is:
Death and Decay, diseases, Pestilence, Unholy Blight (as soon as runic power permits), Blood Tap, Blood Boil. Then Scourge strike, Rune Strike + Bloodboil the skull, adding Corpse Explosion and Unholy Blight when available.

Rotation for single target threat is:
Death and Decay, diseases, then mash the Scourge Strike, Blood Strike, Death Coil keys with Rune Strike macroed.

Note that there are no pet talents in this build. Pets do not give you threat, they have their own separately tracked level of threat.

DPS build

Single target rotation: diseases > scourge strike, blood strike, death coil

AOE rotation: death and decay, diseases > pestilence, and as many unholy blights, corpse explosions and blood boils as you can squeeze off.

Keep Empower Rune Weapon, Gargoyle, Blood Tap and Ghoul Frenzy on cooldown.

Pretty straightforward nuke build, the pets are important and pet uptime is a big factor. Even without especially good dps gear I was around 6th-7th in our 25 man raids with this spec.

Spec switching

My main interest is playing dual tank spec and I constantly spec switch. My Blood tanking spec is much better on dangerous pulls or if we are doing a fast paced raid and the healers are struggling to keep up with us. The threat tank spec is essential for collecting adds on fights like Sarth with drakes. Always judge from pull to pull which spec works best. It's great fun to drop in and out of the two different specs to handle different challenges and I'm having a blast with dual tanking specs.