Archive for Rant

The grand design…of sorts

Posted in Fun, News, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by Natarumah

There’s a lot of clamoring about Shadowpriests in the current Beta build; I can’t verify any of it since I don’t have Beta access myself, but I will try and make a coherent baseline setup of what we’d be looking at doing in the current build from what I’ve gathered.  (I received Beta access with the second wave of keys, with most of the other GreyBeard accounts). There are, as always, major concerns and gaps which need to be filled, but we’ll have to hope these get addressed as time marches on.

Keep in mind the general changes to the game, such as Intellect no longer providing mana, meaning we all have the same mana pools, and that Replenishment is gone.

Note that, due to my personal affection for my class, some ranty elements might be included in this post, for which I apologize beforehand. I love my class, and that sometimes gets the better of me.

The base system: Shadow Orbs

Shamelessly lifted off of the Paladin model, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Blast generate Shadow Orbs, which are used to unleash our most potent attacks. I can’t tell if there’s a limit to the amount we can have, but this picture by Theed on the MMO-Champion forums suggest 3 (three), since the UI has been changed to make room for three slots under the character portrait.

Option 1:Shadowy Apparitions is now a triggered ability, which consumes all Shadow Orbs to generate 1 SA per Orb.

Option 2:Psychic Horror now costs Shadow Orbs to trigger, no mana, and lasts longer with more Orbs. [PvP, do not touch!]

Mastery

Our new Mastery is a straight %Increase to our Shadow damage dealt, and when we trigger Shadowy Apparitions, there’s a chance to be refunded Shadow Orbs when they deal damage. This seems to feed into a system where we trigger Shadowy Apparitions in “lean times”, hoping to be refunded the Orbs. Currently, since the only other thing we can do with them is triggering Psychic Horror, we will do this a lot.

Talents we take

Tier 1: Psyfiend (Static Fear), Shadowy Tendrils (Root), Dominate Mind (New Mind Control) – all of them are as useful or useless as you make it, pick one.

Tier 2: Path of the Devout (Increased speed while Levitating), Phantasm (Fading currently gives you a Smoke Bomb effect as well as a Root escape) – take Phantasm, unless you like recasting Levitate every 5 seconds. (There’s currently word that the speed buff lasts 30 seconds, which would make this a more equal draw).

Tier 3: Dark Archangel (25% Damage boost) or From Darkness Comes Light (VT damage procs an instant MSpike without losing DoTs) – We probably need to calculate burst damage benefits versus the benefit of having a semi-useful MSpike every so often – I probably will go for Dark Archangel then. There’s one spot for an unannounced talent, so let’s hope there’s something good to be had here.

Tier 4: Void Shift (Swap Health and heal lower health target by 25%) – the others are healing talents.

Tier 5: Power Infusion (Straight damage buff), Divine Insight (MB casts allow you to treat your target as <20% for SW:Death), Twist of Fate (15% damage on healing and damage on targets below 20%) – Divine Insight will be the key to the immense damage overload of SW:Death, so I would take it over ToF. PI will be the winner in the beginning, when we have to adjust to our rotations and our mana returns are still bad.

Tier 6: If the “Coming Soon” talent in the preview is Shadow related, take that. Else take Divine Star (Holy Jojo) to steal a Mage’s Fire Orb that also comes back because our spells are loyal to us.

Spell changes

  • Vampiric Touch no longer triggers replenishment, which has been removed. It instead heals you for 15% of the damage it deals.
  • Devouring Plague has been removed; its initial damage aspect has been moved to SW:Pain.
  • SW:Pain now deals instant damage, and generates 1 Shadow Orb when it is cast (no when it ticks).
  • SW:Death now deals X damage to both you and your target, 4x times damage on a target below 20%. It no longer provides mana. When you fail to kill the target its cooldown is reset, as if you had the current SW:Death glyph.
  • Vampiric Embrace now has a 3 minute cooldown, but when triggered heals (Party Memebers) for 50% of the damage you deal.
  • Vampiric Dominance (New) used to be a talent but is now baseline or replaces VE possibly, heals 3 nearby low-health targets for 15% of damage dealt. It cannot be cast in Shadowform however, which is completely against the nature of its ability, name and icon.
  • Mind Control has been removed and replaced with Dominate Mind, which has a 30 second cooldown, maybe (?) instant cast, and affects all non-mechanical targets. Considering people are speaking of using other spells while mind controlling, it might be that this is a full CC or that you get a pet bar instead of losing control.
  • Psychic Scream is baseline again, because screaming like a little girl while tossing dots around didn’t go out of style, no matter what the Devs thought.
  • Spectral Guise is a new ability, generating a copy of you while making you invisible. If your real form is hit with direct attacks 3 times, the spell dissipates.
  • Inner Fire: Now gives a 10% static boost to Spellpower.
  • Shadowfiend’s cooldown has been reduced to 4 minutes.
  • Empowered Shadows is gone entirely.

The good

The dynamics of a [SW:Px3, SA, MB, MF] rotation, while horribly similar to a Paladin’s or Fire Mage’s rotation, can be very interesting but it’s a sudden change in direction. We have one less DoT, and the remaining DoTs need to be more significant to not let this talent spec become the “infant terrible” among DPS, with lots of new kids lolling about how “easy the spec is”. There’s an immense amount of battlefield control – Scream, Horror, Dominate/Tentacle/Psyfiend, Silence which will make us versatile in PvE but a destructive train engine in PvP.

The combination of SA, MB and SW:Death in its current form also means we are absolute masters of the Execute, which will have people cry for nerfs in PvP about three minutes into Live.

We have strong (albeit strange) escape mechanisms including the new Phantasm and Spectral Guise, which seem aimed at making us more like real ninjas than rogues are. I mean, we can’t just go invisible, but we leave  a double behind. We have a Smoke Bomb which also breaks roots. It feels a bit like being in an episode of Naruto.

The bad

Shadowpriest talents and abilities still seem horribly aimed at healing (VE, VD, Void Shift, Divine Star), while our raid support otherwise is still non-existent. TBC saw the nerfing of our raid Shadow healing, WotLK saw the nerf to replenishment and subsequent increase in our damage. Cataclysm saw our first real revamp where Shadow Orbs and advanced SW:Death techniques were added and VE healing further nerfed. But through all this, we haven’t gained anything worthwhile (in fact everything that was added will be removed or completely revamped in MoP) whether in personal or raid support.

Dispersion is a survival cooldown and I am called on a lot to soak/survive crazy stuff like solo-soaking Zon’ozz orbs or Hour of Twilight from heroic Ultraxion. So only now does that ability really shine. But when I compare it to things like the Doomguard/Infernal, Demonic Teleport and Demon Form from Warlocks, or most of the awesome things Unholy Death Knights get I feel a bit shortchanged. And when I look at what extra work is done on these classes for MoP, it makes sticking to my Shadowpriest actually hard. I mean I want to play my Shadowpriest, and I remind myself that this is only Beta, but I see ourselves being so much more boring than the Warlocks while offering nothing an Affliction Warlock couldn’t.

The ugly

There does not seem to be a real proper design direction for Priests, which heavily impacts the current choices. It all seems like some random “do damage”, “boost damage” and “heal crowd” abilities being tossed about at various levels, trying to put them in such an order that we’d have a hard time picking between them. The developer Metagame of “tease the player, not the class” takes an all new high in attempts to make us jump through hoops to do the same damage as other classes while still being elected “off healer of the year” the moment a healer doesn’t show up for a raid.

I’d say forget about the talents for now. It’s obvious they will either fall in the “pick one, they don’t matter” or “mandatory” classes. The core of the class is the manner in which we deal damage. We used to be “Dots with benefits” but it seems the designers want to move away from this role to give the Affliction locks more breathing room. This is fine, but this does mean we need to have a new, proper role that does not make us infringe upon the intellectual property of Mages.

I have made several posts before about design philosophy and design, and I see the same mistake being made daily in Process Management and Document Control – the lack of a proper foundation, lack of a “Management Summary” which all designers can stick to, no “winning themes” or “design document” which details the end result that the designers want to achieve. I am not sure, I have to assume that the Developers have these, but the more I see the new changes I am wondering what it could be…

Concusion

The change from Shadowpriests to a more balanced, direct-damage type seems to be in full swing, but otherwise there is no real flavor to the class. The mana issues have recently been handled with reductions in mana costs across the board, but the lack of raid utility seems rampant. To this, I must ask: “Why would I play a Shadowpriest over a Warlock? What does a Shadowpriest have that is fun and unique?”

I am currently looking for the answer and dreading the outcome. I want to play my Shadowpriest, but I won’t sacrifice my fun to do it.

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Collateral Damage

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on February 26, 2011 by Natarumah

When we refer to Collateral Damage, we mean the damage that is caused as a side-effect to actions we have taken. For example, if you drive your car into the front of your local store, you don’t just wreck the front but also hurt people and, of course, the service you will receive from then on is likely to be lousy.

And at this point I can’t shake the feeling that we are a bit “collateral” at the moment, and after patch 4.1. If you’ve checked some of the messages and data discovered over at MMO-Champion, you’ll see that there are a few things (PvP balance issues, what else?) that are going to be biting us in the robes again.

  • Dispel Magic can only be used on the casting priest as a baseline effect

And then in the Holy and Discipline trees:

  • Absolution (new passive) enables priests to use Dispel Magic on up to 2 harmful effects on friendly targets.

In other words, we Shadow Priests lose the ability to use Dispel Magic offensively, and we can’t help out our raid/party healers with it either. This means that in raids, we aren’t going to be bringing our Dispelling on anything but ourselves, which is quite a shame.

In the old days, knowing when to help the raids with a well-placed Power Word: Shield or Dispelling duty could make you stand out, could show you were more than a warlock-wannabe.

I am sure it’s all meant for PvP – but I can’t fathom what they wanted to balance out. I mean, our survivability is quite low because of the changes to VE, despite the increase in Power Word: Shield. Our damage is spikey and unreliable in PvP due to Mastery, and I don’t think Shadowpriest is a very popular spec to take into Arenas…

All priests lose the offensive Dispel, which basically limits it now to Shamans (I think) with their Purge, and sometimes the Mages if they can Spellsteal it. I can only imagine that the developers have tired of trying to balance the dispelling system, and simply said: “only Shamans can do offensive dispelling, and they can’t use Bloodlust in Arenas so it’s balanced”. That way they don’t have to balance it, since only Shamans can.

I feel a bit worried that more and more is sacrificed to the balance game, and that the game is more about “doing your role” rather than being smart and figuring out new things to do or making a difference as a person. If you combine the balancing done on classes since 3.0 (Bring the Player not the Class), 4.0 (Increased homogenization of classes, balacing of damage, Mastery used to smooth out differences) and now (Removal of dispels) all comes down to this:

“Abilities that allowed a player to stand out among his raid members other than through the accepted channels of Tank Peen/Healing meters/DPS Outputs have been removed.”

While the game has become more advanced, and the ways in which we play our roles have been greatly improved, I am getting the feeling more and more that it hardly matters who’s playing it. If you remove the “smart players die less/do more damage/heal more” argument (in other words, play with capable people), all you are left with is that they are pretty much interchangeable.

WoW has become much more easy to begin, and easy to learn – but standing out above the crowd, being truly excellent, is harder than ever. It has begun to lost its marvel, and it feels like the balancing has become a whip cracking over our backs, and fun is sacrified in the process.

But we’ll see how it pans out – it’s on the PTR, but a lot never made it past that phase before. Let’s hope that the developers keep us (you know, the third priest spec) in mind when dealing out the Black Ace of game balance.

Halftime spam

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 26, 2009 by Natarumah

A quick post, with some analysis and perhaps a bit of ranting concerning spam. No, not the email kind where you are offered enlargements of your manhood or a Russian wife, nor the kind of comment spam which I have to delete daily linking to sites offering the same crap.

I am talking about blog spam.

That Goblin with the gold fingers we all love (or hate), Gevlon, has at a certain time posted concerning someone trying to get him to feature advertisments on his blog. In his lovable way he openly reveals the tricks used to play into a blogger’s feelings to get them to comply.

Now since my site has gathered some interest, I have noticed an increase in two types of mail I get. And they make me uneasy. For a long time I have walked the edge between making an angry rant about these people and ignoring them to death. Instead, Greedy Goblin style, I am warning you should it ever happen to you.

Partnerships

The first of these are the advertisment partnerships. Some shady guy at an illegal character auctioning site sends me this once-in-a-lifetime moneymaking deal by featuring advertisments. Now I think my stance on selling characters and gold are pretty clear, so I ignored him. Few days later, a follow up. And later others.

Key Sentences

“I am Fred, Marketing Representative for <Stupid Company>, the worldwide leader in WoW accounts trading and a major WoW gold provider, and I am contacting you in order to increase our online presence though a partnership with your blog, should you be interested.”

Translation: I am a person (uses a personal name, maybe fake) so don’t ignore me. We are really big players, and we are getting bigger. I even have a job title, which I start with caps so that it seems more important. You can profit too! All of this is of course a lie as these “facts” cannot be checked and companies live and die all the time in that sector. Also note how illegal selling of characters and gold is made to look fancy here. “Trading” and “Provider” instead of “Dealing in stolen goods”.

“Founded by gamers, the <Stupid Company> Team is dedicated to bringing its peers the highest value from its services, with the highest business ethics (100% Security Guarantee Accounts and Gold, member of the Better Business Bureau, no farmed accounts).”

Translation: We’re not some slick salespeople who buy gold and compromised accounts to resell, we are gamers. We are very nice people who are dedicated to our “job”. Also, we do not trade in farmed accounts, and you can trust us. Right.

“At <Stupidcompany>, we have specifically selected your website as a good fit for our affiliate program, since your visitors are already targeted players looking for more information about World of Warcraft. Therefore, we are willing to start a partnership with you.”

Translation: This was a follow-up email, we really want to spread our business, so after all the big blogs turned us down we came to your blog again. Notice how they think “people looking for more information” equals “people who buy gold and characters”.

Blogger “Peer Pressure”

The second kind is emails I get from “fellow bloggers” who feature me in their “greatest sites of all time” list and added me to their blogroll. Carefully checking out the site there’s not all that much more to read than this list, aside from tons of goldspam, advertisments and guides for sale. This person hopes that by adding me to his blogroll he can pressure me (and other bloggers he writes to, all in the same non-personal way) to add him too (by making us feel obliged) thus generating traffic and sales for him.

Key Sentences

“Just wanted you to know that I’m a fan of your blog and read it a lot even though I don’t play WoW anymore (got stuck at level 75), brings me back to those days when I still had the time to play a lot. I’ve been wanting to go back but may be when Cataclysm arrives.”

Translation: This person did not even use my name, yet is a big fan, really. Also, he does not play WoW anymore so I should feel special he still reads my blog (why? He obviously reads 49 more…). He is trying to evoke pity by claiming he never got to 80, and tries to make me greedy for a faithful reader when Cataclysm comes and he starts playing again.

“Anyway, I made a blog post on what I believe are the 50 best WoW blogs out there on the net and I included yours in it. Hope you enjoy it. I also added you up to my blog roll!”

Translation: Here I am being stuffed with feathers – I am fairly sure that if you ask the WoW community to make a list of the 50 best blogs I am not even in it. He’s presenting it as his personal preference, sure, but I am not convinced. The fact that his site is mostly basic money-making information (mostly out of date) and bursting with adds does not make me like this person.

What do they get out of it?

By using blogs (the more popular the better) these people get their message directly to their audience. They will add links to their guides, character selling sites and their gold provisioners. They earn really, really big money this way. And they have to do nothing for it. Bloggers do all the work.

The company contacting me even offered to “negotiate a price to buy out my website”. First off, I blog for life, not for money, this page is holy. Second, wordpress is a free site. Someone did not do his research when copy-pasting his standard letter.

“Buying out” in this case giving me a heap of cash, taking my site and making it a spam site. Yeah, that really is what I have always aspired to.

What do I get out of it?

Imagine I go to work covered in post-its with ads on them. That’s what I would feel like working on my blog from then on. Second, I get to have people click through to sites participating in illegal activities which means any reputation I have is down the drain, along with the possibility of being sued for these activities, and possibly being banned because one day a Blizzard fraud employee would see this.

All this for about 10% of the money made on gold sales. Here’s a goblin saying: “10% off something cheap isn’t much”. Another one could be: “10% of something cheap when you don’t know how much I sold it for is even less”.

All risk, no gain.

And I hate advertisments, account sellers, goldspammers and people selling their “one and true bible of becoming rich and successful”. Problem is, it works in WoW as much as in real life, so their practices continue.

Want to hear the scariest thing?

Email number 2 (empty site with ads) could be the direct result of number 1 (selling out for ads).

Brrr.

Conclusion

If you read this and recognize your email, don’t fret. I made sure your name and site were removed so you get no income through me, not even from a rant post. To all my other readers, I apologize for having an angry at this, but each time I receive one of these “partnership” emails I feel my intelligence is insulted.

People get their accounts compromised, privacy invaded and extorted for this, and the only ones benefiting are the people who set them up. Buying gold today can mean finding yourself stripped naked in Stormwind on a strange server the next.

I don’t buy gold, characters or guides – and advise anyone against doing it as well.

And this blog is as ad-free as I can make it!

Debuffs made easy – Blizzard’s way out

Posted in Raids and Instances, Uncategorized with tags , , on August 29, 2008 by Natarumah

So let’s face it, with a 10th class coming, the number of debuff slots on the raid targets will be immense, so what is Blizzard to do? Increase the cap on the number of buffs you can place on the target?

No, instead they folded the existing debuffs into thirty-something categories and made it so that of a debuff of a certain kind, only the strongest is active.

That should not be too bad, except that I feel some seriously bad thinking went into certain categories…for example, the Tree of Life’s aura of the restoration Druid is in the same category as the Improved Devotion Aura of the Paladin.

Here are the most relevant changes for Shadowpriests:

  • Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff: Improved Faerie Fire, Misery
  • Stamina Buff: Power Word: Fortitude

But wait!

In addition to this change, we also needed to address the “mana battery” roles in a raid. The mana regeneration effect they grant is no longer limited to their own party, and it no longer depends on the amount of damage they deal. Each time they trigger the mana regeneration effect, 10 people in their raid group will receive a buff which causes them to regenerate 0.5% of their maximum mana each second. This buff, Replenishment, will be given preferentially to raid members with the lowest mana, but will re-evaluate which raid members receive it each time it is fired. Replenishment is provided by Shadow Priests, Survival Hunters, and Retribution Paladins.

Let me repeat that:

Each time they trigger the mana regeneration effect, 10 people in their raid group will receive a buff which causes them to regenerate 0.5% of their maximum mana each second.

0.5% of maximum mana per trigger? Let’s do some maths.

Assuming my spells (VT and SW:P) tick per 3 seconds, this means 40 procs per minute from these spells alone. This is 20% of maximum mana over a minute, or 3.3% of max mana per 5 seconds. If my raid member has 10,000 mana, this means that 1% of his maximum mana is 100 mana.

So we effectively regenerate 330 MP/5 for up to 10 raid members who are replenished, with priority given to the person with lowest mana. From nothing but VT and SW:P.

This is actually not so bad, and if you check my earlier post on the subject of the content patch and the maths, you’ll notice a startling equivalence here. The good thing is, because the replenishment of mana would be bashed on Procs per Minute (PPM) this means that all we have to do from now on is spam as many spells as we can on the target to achieve maximum mana regen >.<

The wording of the spell could, however also be interpreted as “regenerates mana whenever VT deals damage”. If this is the truth, we are in deep Kodo Doodoo. Why? Well…

As a DoT, Vampiric Touch ticks once every 3 seconds. That is 20 ticks per minute, or 6 triggers per 5 seconds (which we need to get to our MP/5 rating). Assuming a 100% DoT uptime, that is.

This means that we will regenerate 3% of maximum mana per 5 seconds. If a mana pool is 10,000 mana that equates to 300 MP/5

We’ll have to see how the new VT looks, and redo the maths appropriately of course.

On the flip side, our Misery buff goes from wicked (5% extra spell damage taken by target) to lacklustre (+3% spell hit on target). I don’t see myself being welcomed in raids for the latter, really. Especially with the normalization of Hit Rating to require 9%, and the fact that I would severely berate a person who shows up at a raid 3% below Hit Cap. Worthless, in my opinion.

Also, our Shadow Weaving (+10% shadow damage) becomes self-only, as does the Warlock’s Improved Shadowbolt (Shadowbolt Crits on the target cause the target to take more Shadow damage for X charges). This means that multiple Shadowpriests will not be able to keep each other’s Shadow Weaving up, and that we no longer support Shadow-specced warlocks (and they do not support us).

The destruction of this glass-house structure of interdependent classes and damage modifiers means that we have in one fell swoop been denied the entire boost in DPS that we gained from the changes in talents and spells, as well as having lost a huge chunk of raid viability.

We’re back to square 1 people, welcome to The Burning Crusade.