And time passes again

Posted in Diary, News on August 18, 2014 by Natarumah

When I quit raiding (before the release of the patch that introduced the Siege of Orgrimmar) I had been thoroughly done with World of Warcraft. I had decided to become a casual, and then found myself spending so little time playing that I didn’t feel it was worth the efforts and costs of subscribing.

Since then I have tried to entertain myself with a variety of games – Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Fallout 3 Collector’s Edition, Fallout: New Vegas, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Blacklight Retribution to name a few. I also tried a few MMO’s both during my WoW times and after: Defiance, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Firefall when it was in Beta, Guild Wars 2, TERA, Aion and a few others.

I have to conclude that so far, none of the MMOs I have tried have come close to capturing my heart and attention for as long as World of Warcraft, which is why it took such effort to leave it. The social aspect, the enormous choice in activities, the (original) storyline.

It has its weak points, as does any game, and these are glaring:

  • There is definitely a sign of Horde favoritism in everything I see. It used to be small, but it grew with time. I understand they are the “cool” faction, but Blizzard has chosen to put the blame on the players themselves, claiming they “were not involved enough” to create their own cool warcry/culture. That is a sign of weakness on their part. They are the designers and I feel they should make sure that the factions are balanced when it comes to exposure. Sometimes this means one faction should get more PR and the other less, but not in favor of the stronger one.
  • There is also a lack of strong female protagonists and supporting cast in the last expansion and it is a growing trend with Warlords of Draenor. In Cataclysm we watched strong and independent Tyrande become a wavering waif in front of Varian Wrynn. Jaina Proudmoore snapped and became the stereotypical “mad ex”. In WoD, Seven warchiefs, Velen, Kadgar and some paladin who was in the TBC opening animation are shown. There was talk (but no show) of a female Draenei paladin. I understand that before the opening of the portal, female characters basically are restricted to Orcs, Arrakoa and Draenei, and that previous WoW Lore does not support any of it. But times change and the number of female players who want female lead players is heavily on the rise. I think there’s been enough time spent on the male Orc power trip.
  • Mobility in WoW is still old-fashioned. You have a few movement directions and a jump. If you have an appropriate class you can have a roll, backflip or the like. But with the number of action-MMOs on the rise, WoW still sticks to the old model of movement. This could work, but wouldn’t it be nice to have more action-oriented mobility to support the new active tanking model (other than the monk)?
  • Storytelling used to be the main focal point of the original game, TBC and WotLK. A lot of effort was placed into weaving events from various regions together, so that if you levelled a character in various areas, you would find intricately interwoven bits and pieces of lore that painted the whole picture. While still present, the current storylines show a certain lack of effort in that department, possibly due to rushing content or having less developers that are of the old and true bent and more that favor the “something to do and shiny rewards” model of play.
  • The current storyline with Garrosh in Draenor for Warlords of Draenor is awesome to set up the Iron Horde as the new enemy for Horde and Alliance. But Garrosh is not the final boss, so he is doomed to die an ignoble death at the hands of some NPC in a 5-man, likely Thrall. Garrosh was set up for Warchief, and the intense dislike caused him to relegated to “end of arc” boss to get rid of him. Yes, people claim it was all part of the plan but I do not buy it. He was sidelined because a lot of people hated him. Then he escaped his righteous defeat at the hands of the PCs to set off a whole expansion pack (robbing them of their kill likely not once but twice). He is starting to be like Kael’thas, rehashed until he is a pale shadow of himself and ready to be taken behind the shed and shot.

But there are many good things about WoW and the related games. Hearthstone is a lovely diversion, and the Naxxramas expansion is a heart-felt shoutout to the days of raiding that place. I love it to bits. While playing the NPCs all the time is a drag, the casual play is a quick option to find a game (if you don’t mind being stomped by the low-level alts of people with massive amounts of epic cards), and the Naxxramas class challenges are a blast. Arena is supposedly a lot of fun and I will definitely make a report on it when I save enough gold to fuel some games.

Future plans

I am unlikely to resub WoW and get Warlords of Draenor unless it shapes up to be awesome. Strong female protagonists on at least somewhat equal footing to the big brown orcs, a more serious and intricate questline that gives us a story rather than a vehicle to get from quest zone A to B, and some love for Alliance. Even then, I am unlikely to step into a raid again unless it’s raid finder – the long hours, preparations and occasional conflicts have taken their toll.

I have started up a small trial account to keep track of the game and its people. You can only level to 20, trade skills to 100 and cannot trade, pet battle, buy stuff on the AH or use the mail, but it’s great for a bit of a diversion. And I can still go for some achievements and even PVP for a change.

What about this blog?

I had thought long and hard, and decided not to close or sell Twisted Faith. Even if WoW is currently out of the picture, there’s plenty of Blizzard’s games to go around. Hearthstone provides amusing adventures, guides and tips for me to write about, and I can still do something fun with the Trial account. Let me know if my Trial Adventures seem interesting to you guys – I will gladly start a diary on that one.

I may be a very, very infrequent poster – but as long as I am alive I will be writing about something!

Gold Mode Gunner: Temple of the Jade Serpent

Posted in Challenge Mode, Guides, Shadowpriest with tags , , , , on March 12, 2013 by Natarumah

ability_druid_flourishTemple of the Jade Serpent is a good introductory dungeon to try for a Gold challenge mode. It’s not a very long instance, and while there are a few places you really shouldn’t screw up, there are also remarkable areas where you can save time if you’re savvy. There’s a definite advantage in this dungeon for melee and ranged that can cast on the move.

The first pull: from start to Wise Mar’i

All trash up to the first boss should be pulled; if you have a sturdy tank or one capable at kiting, you should pull the boss while keeping DPS on the adds. Use heavy damage reduction cooldowns to survive until the first three adds are down, including the one spawned by the boss. Options are gathering together and using Spirit Link Totem, or having them tanked by an Army of the Dead. Once the boss is dead, rush to the library.

The library

Pull and kill the first group of adds, two Pandaren spirits and a Sha. Kill them and use an invisibility potion to rush over the bridge and stand near the corner. Pull the packs on the bridge and any of the other packs as your are capable of handling. Have someone start the fight by killing the sha-touched book on the ground floor, while the rest kills of the mobs. There’s plenty of time spent in a small section of RP to kill them, and even if you have an add left it’s not a real bother.

When killing the two minibosses here, allow the stack to go up to 8. This will kill them considerably quicker, especially with DoTs ticking. Stop immediately at 8 however, or you risk them getting ultimate power and becoming immune.

Rumble at the courtyard

Rush over to the courtyard, and use serial AoE stuns and fears as much as you can to keep the small adds controlled. When the last add is dying is a good time to use Hymn of Hope and help the healer get some mana.  Fireblossom will spawn, but if the healer needs to drink you can probably help keep up the tank with a PW:Shield plus Prayer of Mending long enough. Vampiric Touch is also very good here, as the boss can have some mean damage spikes.

When the boss is between 7% and 10%, if you have a Hunter in the party, have him or her get ready at the door. Other classes also work, but will require a battle rez. When the boss goes down, this person will aggro the three Sha through the door, and rush to the far left corner. The rest of the party gathers in the right corner. Hunters feign death now, the rest has to die quickly. The moment the Sha are reset, pull the Sha of Doubt and they will be gone as well.

This fight goes much as usual. AoE down the shadow copies when they spawn, and burn him down with whatever cooldowns you have after killing the first spawn of adds.

Enjoy your gold medal!

Shadowpriests specifically

  • Because of the many adds and high mobility, you might want to consider From Darkness Comes Light and the glyph of Mind Spike to put out more damage on the move.
  • As most mobs will be clumped up or running after the tank in front of you, Shadow Jojo (Divine Star) seems the most solid option.
  • Before the challenge mode starts, use PW:Shield and Prayer of Mending on the tank to help out in the first pull, unless your healer is Disc.
  • Movement is key here – Body and Soul is a solid choice for movement if you have any healer other than Disc, where I’d suggest Feathers.
  • Divine Insight or Twist of Fate is a tossup; you will have plenty mobs at <20%, but also multidotting running all over.

Turning over a new leaf

Posted in News with tags , , , on March 5, 2013 by Natarumah

spell_shadow_twistedfaith1Over the course of Mists of Pandaria, I started to feel the effects of my “old age” in WoW terms. I’ve been playing my Shadowpriest ever since the Burning Crusade, and during this time, the changes I experienced have been minimal. Many things were shaken up in Mists of Pandaria, but even here much of my playstyle remains the same. This has been leading to me becoming somewhat disappointed and disillusioned. I began to slack more in the raids, and my damage started to deteriorate.

In addition, Unity has seen a recent surge of new and returning Priests, meaning we’re pretty swamped. On the other hand, all of our Strength DPS seems to have vanished. So to combat my ennui and provide additional worth for my raiding group, I have decided to switch my mains.

Currently I am gearing up my Death Knight in rapid time, and hoping I can jump in quickly when 5.2 hits us. I will try to complete the posts I had been working on about Shadowpriests in challenge modes, but I do feel that I am lacking the emotional reach to get it done right now. However, my enthusiasm about my Death Knight is only growing, so it’s quite likely I will be switching around my blogs as well, when I am settled in.

This means my absence is going to last longer, and new posts will be slower in the making. I dearly love my Priest, and my guild was shocked about my intention to switch my mains, but it is a necessary change to stave off the stagnation I had been feeling for months now.

I am currently considering using Twisted Faith to house my three favorite classes: Priests, Death Knights and Warlocks. That way I will have plenty to write about, and the general theme remains viable. What do you guys think?

Insanity – and they weren’t kidding!

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory, Theorycraft with tags , , , on January 17, 2013 by Natarumah

ability_warlock_eradicationIt is hardly a secret that Shadowpriests have been avoiding Power Word: Insanity like the plague; an ability that consumes your Shadow Word:Pain in return for a modest amount of damage (and only if consumed at the very last moment) is like trying to play whack-a-mole with a set of tweezers. Now Blizzard noticed this and tries to put the plague back into this talent, redesigning it for patch 5.2.

The Deal

The current incarnation of the ability as presented is “Solace and Insanity”. We ignore Solace – that’s for our healing brethren. The “Insanity” portion basically causes your Mind Flay to deal double damage while there are three shadow damage DoT’s on the target. This wording is very important because it’s the difference between Insanity being total suck or total win.

First Impression

When you think of the reasonable application, it means that Mind Flay deals double damage only with three of your shadow damage over time effects. That would be all three of VT, SW:Pain and DP. And considering that DP can be applied with 1 to 3 Shadow Orbs (increasing its damage) it suddenly becomes a pain game of deciding whether a 2-Orb DP + double damage MF more often is worth it over a 3-Orb DP with less double damage Mind Flays. In practice, it won’t be.

Taking an 8 second cooldown, you will have a 3-Orb Devouring Plague every 24 seconds, after which your Mind Flay (3 second channel base) will deal double damage. Of course you might get lucky with the Divine Insight procs, but we should discount this for now to get the base value of the talent. This “bare increase” will give Mind Flay a slight boost in DPECT (Damage per Effective Cast Time). Basically, it’s DPECT value increases by 100% but only 1/10 of the time.

To get to this 3-Orb Devouring Plague we need:

  • Three Mind Blasts (1.5 second cast time)
  • Three Mind Blast cooldowns (8 seconds each)
  • Devouring Plague (Instant cast + GCD)
  • We can start casting Mind Flay

Total time required: 4.5 seconds casttime, 24 seconds cooldown, 0.5 seconds GCD = 29 seconds (let’s round to 30); Devouring Plague lasts 6 seconds base, giving us room for 2 Mind Flay casts. This gives us an active time of 12 seconds per minute; 20% uptime on the buffed Mind Flay. This also means a 20% increase (roughly) of the Mind Flay damage you’d see in your logs.

In the red corner, replacing our retarded Shadowfiend: Mindbender. With a minute cooldown base, the Mindbender is fire and forget, deals more damage and restores more mana than the Shadowfiend. It deals about 60% of the damage of a normal Shadowfiend, but can be used three times as often. You will see your “Shadowfiend related damage” increased by 80% if you have the Mindbender talent.

The key here is: which one’s higher?

If we read the tooltip literally

Well, we’d be happy with all our Warlock and Shadowpriest colleagues in the raid, that’s what. If we read it literally, it doesn’t say that we need 3 of our own shadow DoTs on the target, meaning we get the buff as long as aside of our main DoTs (VT, SW:P – which we should keep on our target at all times) one other Dotter is doing his job.

Corruption, Shadowflame, Unstable Affliction, Doom, and Shadowpriest DoTs will all count, and we can effectively say that in a 25man raid we have a 100% uptime on Insanity. That quite changes the outcome of things.

The Match

I am going to take the damage per cast time for Shadowfiend and Mindbender, and bring them back to damage per minute (the shortest cooldown), then I can see the benefit that Mindbender gives as opposed to having a vanilla Shadowfiend over a similar span of time.  I don’t need to do that for Mind Flay, because it has a convenient channel time I can abuse for this. Here I can simply check the direct increase in damage based on its uptime of roughly 20%. (so also 20% more DPECT). 

Shadowfiend DPECT (my gear):51529 (3 minutes cooldown) = 17.176,3 per minute
Mindbender DPECT (my gear): 36.129 per minute
Benefit of Mindbender vs Shadowfiend = 18.952,7

Mind Flay DPECT (my gear): 38.969 (3 second channel)
Insanity DPECT increase: 100%
Active time: 12 seconds/minute (20%)
Benefit of Insanity vs vanilla Mind Flay = 15.587,6

If all DoTs are counted, then the uptime of Insanity becomes about 10o%, massively improving the output of Mind Flay.

Mind Flay DPECT (my gear): 38.969
Insanity DPECT increase: 100%
Active time: 100%
Benefit of Insanity with all DoTs = 77.938 (!)

Results

We can tell that if Insanity is triggered only by our own DoTs, it suffers from giving us a smaller increase in damage even if we’d time our Mind Flays perfectly, and on a Patchwerk style fight. With increasing Haste, the value of Insanity will slowly creep up to the value of Mindbender, but as soon as we have to move or suffer from lag, its value drops significantly. Also note that the 20% active time is really generous, considering it’s 6 seconds of buff for 29 seconds of rampup. Over a fight of 10 minutes you will have 34  buffed Mind Flays (so closer to 17%).

Only when it counts for all Shadow DoTs, from all other raid members, does Insanity catch up – and then it shines. Of course I did count 100% uptime here, but I think that’s reasonable considering that it takes only two Shadowpriests or Warlocks to get this done.

Do note that Mastery, which increases our Shadow DoT damage (and thus Mind Flay) scales very well with this talent. While Mind Bender doesn’t benefit from Mastery at all, a Mastery-heavy gear set will not only bump up DoT damage a lot more, but when combined with Insanity will also interact with the 100% damage buff. A +10% damage from Mastery effectively doubles while Insanity lasts and with a 17% uptime this will work out to 11,7% in practice (or +20% if all DoTs count).

I am not sure which design Blizzard is going to take, but if my napkin math hits anywhere near home, this choice will determine whether we will ever use the talent or not.

2012 in review

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 by Natarumah

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog – and it shows that I definitely haven’t shown Twisted Faith the love it deserves.

Definitely time for a new year’s resolution!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 50,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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