Archive for July, 2010

A cool GM is full of win!

I am trying to get my Warrior tank to level Blacksmithing. Previously he was a Miner/Enchanter but then I transferred Dranok from Aerie Peak and made the Night Elf dude into a sexy little Blood Elf. Why a female character? To be honest, Blood Elves just seemed to be the best based on racial stats and paying for a transfer I thought I’d try to get the race selection as optimal as I could. But I really do not like the male Blood Elves. They just seem too poncy to me. Like Hugh Grant’s Hair flick with David Beckham’s “duh I am so hot” mentality, it just seemed wrong. And besides … whose arse would you rather look at all day?

Anyywwaaayyys. Digression over. My transferred Priest, now called Krunial (Kruntak, Krunial … easier for guildies to recognise) was already max levelled into Enchanting, so it was pointless having two Enchanters. Dropped Enchanting on Kruntak and started off with Blacksmithing.

It has gotten the point where he now needs to do the specialisation quests in Orgrimmar. I decided on Armorsmithing and now need to do all those quests crafting stuff for this NPC so that I can get the recipe to craft stuff for that NPC which in turn lets me craft the stuff for … well I think you get the idea. Its complicated.

And then, to my dismay, the NPC that is supposed to give me a quest on the road to being an Armorsmith has no quest to give. /sad face

I pop open the ticket creation interface, type in the story and decide (due to past experience) that I will probably only see a response the next day. I queue for random HC, zone into Pit of Saron, and we start the run past the first few mobs.

“Hi there, my name is [insert unpronounceable name here]. I was wondering if you had a few minutes to discuss your ticket.” First pack is not even down yet, and I am Thunder Clapping, Cleaving, Demo Shouting, silently urging the DPS on to get these buggers down before the GM decides to just leave.

“Hi. I am just tanking PoS right now. Would you be able to wait till I am done?” I reply, biting my lip and hoping I don’t lose the very few opportunities you get these days to actually talk to a GM.

“Sure not a problem. But you had better win. This GM doesn’t talk to losers! :P” . I had to laugh. Someone with a sense of humour. But it shows that they often deal with morons because he felt he had to include another message “Jking :)”.

So I want to talk to this GM and fix my issue. And I am tanking PoS. Not some cakewalk intance like Nexus you can do in 10 minutes with one arm tied behind your back but an ICC instance. And as Murphy’s legislation states, “If you wish for an event you are currently occupied with to finish faster it will result in the inverse being true”.

Garfrost wipes us. Twice. DPS don’t want to get behind the boulder to drop the debuff. Ick and Krik wipe us once. DPS don’t want to run away from Poison Nova or the funny arcane explodey things. And even Tyrannus wipes us. DPS don’t want to stop DPS when he gets “overwhelmed with power”. Thirty minutes later I am hoping that the GM hasn’t fallen asleep at his keyboard.

Tyrannus is eating dirt and I pray that I still have a connection to the GM with a sense of humour. “Hi there. We’re done finally. Sorry for making you wait.”

“Wait wait. Did you win?”

Again a giggle from me and I admit that yes, finally, we did kick Tyrannus’ arse. In short order I hearth to Dalaran, portal to Orgrimmar and the GM gets said NPC to pop a little quest exclamation mark. Yippee.

A get the chance for a survey and give the guy full marks. He really was awesome and I note in the “extra comments” section that Blizzard really should try to have more GM’s online to answer tickets because just the simple fact that I got a response within minutes of posting a question already boded well for this guy. Its when you have those long waits that result in a GM response only being made when you next log in that you don’t feel too good about Blizzard’s in-game support. Its more of a forum-post style response then as opposed to an actual in-game support request.

I don’t know how things work over the pond, but on EU servers, GM’s take ages to respond. I was wondering though if lately anyone else has noticed a difference. Have Blizzard being beefing things up staffing-wise for GM’s? Has anyone else noticed much quicker responses or was I just coincidentally lucky this time round?


I have never been a big raider. Predominantly because I never have bloody time for it. I can’t spend multiple nights a week up late and so with the current guild I am in I have found a bunch of like-minded individuals who raid on Friday nights.

And we are not hardcore. We are completionists. We want to do Naxx first. And we are now one step closer. We have been attempting to get Heigan down for a few weeks now. I say weeks because of our casual nature, we don’t force anyone to attend so we had a week or two now we couldn’t raid because of lack of members available, and we want to make it a guild run not PuG it.

Our last attempt at Heigan we made about 9 attempts. While wiping over and over is not supposed to be fun we were having fun. We were there to try something not many of us had done before and we were having a blast. “Just one more…” become our mantra. We didn’t get him down unfortunately that night.

Come this Friday, it starts out as it did that raid a while back. People seem to be struggling to coordinate properly for the dance. And one thing I love about Blizzard’s raid design is there are fights where gear cannot save you. If you can’t dance with Heigan, even ICC 25 gear isn’t going to make up for that.

We wiped a few times as people started getting back into the groove. A number of times it was just me and our guild priest, Keevar, alive. While we could go on forever it seemed, Heigan was at 70% still, and just me trying to down him would have taken too damned long so we wiped it so we could all start again on another attempt.

But then … the bastard hit the dirt. Me, Keevar, and two others, (Elfpla our GM and Bloo our guild Hunter mascot) were the only ones left alive. My headphones had to be ripped off my face and chucked to the other side of my desk with the wooping and hollering that ensued. People were over the moon, myself included.

Oh, and then we downed Loatheb one shot 😀

I know its not Lichking. We don’t have Kingslayer titles. But I feel like we should. I am so pleased about our accomplishment that I don’t care if its not the greatest and toughest raid out there. For Dragon Lords, that was an awesome night where we showed that we can do that raid thing too.

Raiding like this can only be as much fun if you have a group of people you feel comfortable with. People that don’t push you to do what you don’t want and can have an awesome laugh with. At least for me. The fun night was all the quips and comments from all the graveyard runs back. The unending panting from the guy whose TS was stuck on permanent transmit (and the ensuing revenge panting back at him).

Congrats Dragon Lords. Now for Gluth!

Blizzard does listen

You are running Forge of Souls. The healer disconnects, and a wipe ensues. Zoning to the graveyard, flap, flap to the entrance and in we go….

And we wait. One guy still has not rezzed at the entrance. The healer is already back from his untimely vanishing act, but you are still waiting for that one guy. Then it pops up… “wre is the entrnce lolz”. Resurrection ensues…

Oh, its not just ICC. Oh no no no. Almost all instances with a graveyard run longer than five feet results in the inevitable wait for some dufus who has no idea how to get back inside. The LFD system, while convenient, has created a syndrome whereby players never actually see the exterior of an instance. The knock-on effect of this, of course, is that you end up trying to guide someone in via vague descriptions of  “See that funny metallic pointy bit to the west of the graveyard?well turn …. What do you mean where is west?”.

Not to mention the fact that you end up losing that disconnect with the rest of the WoW world. Where does this randomly spawned instance actually fit into our titanic struggle with the Lich King? The place could be in the Twisting Nether for all we know. And to be honest, unlike myself, most players don’t care, they just want uber lootz, and they could be playing an instance that sits within the largest known construction ever created on the face of Azeroth in order to safeguard all life on …. blah blah … lootz plOx.

Personally, the inconvenience aspect aside of waiting for some guy to find the entrance for the first time, I want to know why I am entering Utgarde Keep. What does this place have to do with the broader story of the expansion? Why are there zombies mining in here, being overseen by not-so-undead looking, oversized humans? Where did they get those drakes from? Not knowing would drive me bat-shit insane. I cannot fathom why people just don’t give a damn. I do!

And so do many other players it seems, because I stumbled across a blue post (maybe its old news to some but its the first I have heard) where Ghostcrawler says:

Currently, come Cataclysm, in order for a character to gain access to the majority of dungeons through the Dungeon Finder, that character will need to first discover them via normal travel.

Yippeeee! We may not be back to the more “epic” feel of gathering the group outside the instance and summoning via summoning stone, but at least players are forced into actually putting the instance into context with the bigger, open world before they can run it in LFD. Now the only way that Blizzard could improve it, at least for me, is to make certain quests compulsory to complete/acquire before you can queue for an instance with LFD, but who am I kidding. The mindless uber lootz players would complain like stuck pigs about that.

Ok I need to breath. Deep, slow breaths. Internally I am repeating “They are not finalised, they are not finalised….”. If you haven’t seen the new 41-point talent build for Holy Priests in the Cataclysm Beta go take a peek. I’ll wait. Honest.

I don’t know about you, but the changes left me seriously concerned. Granted I have not played the Beta yet. I do not know what other changes Blizzard have made to the Priest class that might make that talent build exciting. So I will attempt to relax a little. But lets go through the changes I feel are controversial and perhaps even scary.

A greater reliance on “Heal”

For those that are not Priests, you may not know that what sounds like a spell that defines our entire existence, Heal, is currently, useless. Flash Heal is faster and about the same Mana per Heal as Heal so it is better. Greater Heal is slower but again very similar Mana per Heal and has the added bonus of a possible hasted cast through the current Serendipity talent. Lesser Heal is just silly. So most Holy Priests tend to use Flash Heal as the primary single-target heal, and when the 3x Serendipity stack buff is up, pop a Greater Heal.

With the current talent changes in the Beta, it looks as if Blizzard is attempting to push Heal back into contention some more. Which, in fairness, is something they said they were trying to do pre-alpha anyways. This does mean a big switcheroo for us Holy Priests, mixing and matching Flash Heal and Heal as the situation demands.

So ok, maybe this particular aspect is not all bad, probably just my slight fear of now having to relearn how best to be a healer. I can deal with that, and I can adapt. Moving on.

Greater Reliance on “Holy Nova”

Now, Holy Nova. Hrm. This is a toughy. When I was levelling up as a Priest, Holy Nova was considered underpowered for both healing and DPS unless your entire party were all clumped up together on top of the tank (which rarely ever happens). It was also incredible efficient at sucking all your mana up as well as pulling aggro. Then Blizzard “fixed” Holy Nova by making it less likely to pull aggro. One problem is, however, that healers, well, heal. Having a spell with a small radius that required party members all to be in the tanks lap to get a healing effect and do damage at the same time …. if I wanted to DPS I’d spec shadow.

Now it seems that Holy Nova is getting a few talents all for itself. Surge of Light, for example, which is a great talent for helping to reduce mana costs is now only procc’ed on ONE “healing” spell. Yup, you guessed it … Holy Nova. Improved Holy Nova is a brand new talent added in a shortened talent tree. Why “improve” it. Its entire mechanic to me is useless. The only way I would find it an improvement is if it had a much larger range, did more healing and no DPS and was lighter on mana. Guess you would have to add a cooldown to not make it OP and then mayb….. Oh wait! We do have an “improved Holy Nova”. Its called Circle of Healing.

So we now have a spell whose limitations make it nigh-on useless except for pretty light shows and confusing the crap out of tanks, taking up a spot in a much smaller talent tree as well as nerfing an existing talent in this much smaller tree. This is one I do not like!!

Chakra! What have they done to you?

Back before Cataclysm alpha, Blizzard discussed a new talent they were going to include for Holy Priests called Chakra. They way they described it as a buff applied after using a heal three times in a row that would enhance your healing after that for 20 seconds sounded pretty damned good. More intelligence in the way we heal. I like to be thinking and not just mashing buttons or going through a repeatable loop of abilities to cast. Sounds good Blizz!

This is not what I expected though. The buff will be applied if you cast Prayer of Healing, Renew or Heal three times in a row. Oh, you can’t mix them. You need to cast 3x PoH, 3x Renew or 3x Heal to get the applicable buff for the heal that you cast 3x in a row.

Any Priest that needs to cast Prayer of Healing three times one after another has serious issues. Either the group is totally inadequate for the content or he is an idiot. Prayer of Healing’s extra long cast time is seriously dangerous. Sure the extra healing bonus is nice but just not enough to justify the risk of pushing three PoH and then still having to cast one more to get that bonus from Chakra.

Renew I may cast three times in a row, I am a Renew heavy Priest, but the bonus just isn’t all that good. 2% increase in healing effect (no idea if that affects existing Renews ticking on people before the Chakra bonus hits) and a reduced GCD. Looking at a scenario, if I am in a 10-man raid and hit three people with Renew, I enter Chakra state. I now have 20 seconds to hit the other 7 people with a Chakra enhanced Renew that only does 2% more heals really. And those people might not need healing. But I need to use my Chakra. Ugh.

And Heal. Perhaps, once all the Priest changes, including what else they are doing to Heal to make it more effective, comes through, this might be the only real Chakra state with viable bonuses. If Heal becomes the new Flash Heal, then sure, it can be handy. But ….

The big Lightwell Block

Dun dun dun!!!

You have decided you want Chakra for its bonus to Heal (and maybe Renew). So you take Lightweel to gain access. Woah there. Lightwell?! The healing mechanic that no one understands how to use besides the Priest? You want other people to heal themselves? Oh boy.

Or you could just waste a talent point to get to Chakra and never use Lightwell, making Chakra a 4-point talent to max out. Sure, you may have raid groups that you can educate to use a Lightwell, and they may know its there and have it available. But Blizzard has been designing raid encounters with more and more movement and they have stated its a trend they want to keep up. So how on earth do you place a Lightwell anywhere if people need to be constantly moving and, essentially, running away from the self heal tool?

Not to mention the fact that most other players have forgotten the art of self-healing. Asking a tank or DPS to remember to click your shiny Lightwell probably wont go down too well. I can already see the response. “Why should I heal myself? That’s your job!”

Hope they change stuff … A LOT!

As it stands, not very inspiring. Blizzard is trying to make healing with a Priest more interesting by incorporating Holy Nova and Lightwell into the mix because as of now they are really unused. Unfortunately, those two spells, if forced on Priests, will simply add to the frustration a Priest feels, especially in PuG’s.

Anyways, we will have to wait and see. Hopefully the next tree update for Priests won’t give me a heart attack!

I know I shouldn’t be looking but I couldn’t help myself. And when I gazed upon the as yet unfinalised, reduced talent tree available to tanky warriors, my heart did know gladness. If anyone has not yet heard about it, Blizzard have decided that come Cataclysm, the talent tress for all classes will be greatly reduced as well as certain other restrictions. I won’t repeat what has been publicised elsewhere all over the place so feel free to read the article summarising it

Suffice it to say I used the wow-champion talent builder for the latest Beta build of Cataclysm and I came up with a Protection spec I think looks pretty damned handy. But before I reveal what I have slapped together, feel free to go gaze at them yourself

Back? Awesome, so lets discuss things a little. Firstly I LIKE these changes. They really are awesome in my opinion and make being a Protection Warrior far more distinctive early on in levelling, especially with the bonus that comes as you ding 10 and pick Protection as your specialization.

Secondly, there is one thing that caught my eye; Blood and Thunder. A new talent we have not seen before and looks like it can be something that will help equalize a Warriors AoE threat capabilities without making it OP or sacrificing other aspects of the class. It also seems to point to Blizzard trying to make being a Protection Warrior more of a thinking game. Lets look at a scenario on a trash pull as it stands now:

  1. Charge first mob, preferably a caster, silence any other casters with Heroic Throw, and if there is another out of range caster, Shield Bash current target and run to the third caster.
  2. Queue Cleave, Thunder Clap, Shockwave, Demoralizing Shout, hit Revenge and Shield Bash procs as they pop and then pretty much, Thunder Clap, Cleave until they are all down.

Now lets consider adding Blood and Thunder into the mix. Where in that sequence above would you insert it? How about:

  1. Charge first mob, preferably a caster, silence any other caster with Heroic Throw, and if there is another out of range caster, Shield Bash current target and run to the third caster. No change here.
  2. Queue Cleave, REND a target, Thunder Clap, etc etc as before.

Or should that Rend come after the first Thunder Clap or just before your second one to give you a chance to build more insta threat on the mob pack? Or are we going to Shockwave first to stun, then Rend, then Thunder Clap? The possibilities are endless and it will be an interesting experiment to see what works best. I can already see the Elitist Jerks crew having a huge amount of fun with this

Then there are the added self heals available at relatively low levels in the other two trees. Field Dressing I can see being a must have. Increase all heals done to you by 6% as well as all self healing effects by 20%. Yes please! And then there is Blood Craze in the Fury tree which is a proc based self heal. Add the effect of Field Dressing to that and you essentially have a 10% chance to heal yourself for almost 10% of your total health on getting hit. And we get hit a LOT. That’s the point. So the chances of this proccing are actually quite high. Personally the Blood Craze talent would have made more sense in the Protection tree, as I cannot see many DPS Warriors (who shouldn’t be getting hit all that much) taking it, but for Protection it can be a big help.

All this seems to point to Blizzards goal of “bring the player not the class”. By extending the AoE threat of Warriors with Blood and Thunder and extending the self heal capabilities of the class with Field Dressing and Blood Craze, it looks similar to things Paladins and Death Knights can do (NOTE: I have never tanked extensively with those classes so I may not be entirely accurate but at face value that is what things seem like).

So here is my own talent build:,,12479

First let’s discuss what a Tank should focus on as far as spec is concerned. Tanks in general are not overly concerned with DPS. That being said, enough damage needs to be done in order to keep threat high. In addition, tanks need to be concerned with survivability, so anything that can mitigate or avoid damage is important. I know many people reading this already understand these aspects of speccing a tank but I like to outline it to help justify my talent build from the Beta.

So, going through my talent selection, I’ll mention why I did/did not spec into a certain ability:

Tier 1:

  • Toughness: This is a given. If any tank argues that increasing your base armor value is a bad decision is just Doing It Wrong ™.
  • Incite: Putting all three points into Toughness you need at least two more in another talent to get to Tier 2. While I said that Tanks are not necessarily worried about overall DPS, Incite adds a nice crit bonus to three of our most-used aggro generating abilities (well, maybe not Heroic Strike). Having crits hit on AoE abilities like TC and Cleave is a good bonus threat generator.
  • Hold the Line: This is the reason Incite is a better choice. Increased critical strike and block for all of 2 seconds after a parry? Does not seem to be that much of a bonus when compared to Incite’s crit bonuses for us and there are better talents those points can be used on.

Tier 2:

  • Improved Revenge: Must have. Increased damage and additional target. Can’t do without for some nice TPS boosting as well as more AoE viability.
  • Shield Mastery/Specialization: I bundled these together cos they had me umming and aahing a bit. They both can take three points. One makes mitigating damage easier, the other helps with threat generation. This can only be summarised as a “if you need it take it” combination. Since we don’t know what threat generation is going to be like come Cataclysm, if it is nerfed, SS might be the required spec. If, however, it isn’t, big reductions in cooldowns on our always-off-cooldown Shield Block and our “Oh Shit” Shield Wall might be fantastic, allowing us to give healers a break more often. So really, come Cata, these two might be swapped around depending on if you find yourself too squishy or rage blocked.

Tier 3:

  • Last Stand: If you need to ask why, you need to rather pick another role. Tanking ain’t for you.
  • Blood and Thunder: Oh hell yeah. The additional fire-and-forget AoE threat this provides is unquestionably worth it. The only way this might not be “required” is if the number crunchers after Cataclysm releases decide it isn’t worth it, but Rend once, one Global Cooldown and then it gets spread and maintained across ALL mobs that get Thunder Clapped … how much easier do you want it?
  • Gag Order: A must have as well. Us Warriors need our silencing abilities for those 3+ caster trash packs.
  • Concussion Blow: Now that its not a requirement for getting Vigilance this talent is debatable. Definitely great for PvP with its stun but its long cooldown, high rage requirement and not all that high damage does not make it awesome for PvE. Having said that, it turns out that its better than alternative talents further down the tree that are needed to get later tiers so I took it pretty much only for that reason.

Tier 4:

  • Improved Defensive Stance: Another one of those compulsory talents that no self-respecting Warrior tank would be without. But hang on, it has some changes. Reduced crit by 6%? There’s Blizzard trying to make up for the fact that Defense Rating is being removed from the game come Cataclysm.
  • Devastate: A sunder armor effect with additional damage and with the right glyphs can hit multiple targets and/or add multiple sunder affects onto a target. Definitely worth it for that extra threat generation.
  • Safeguard: A debatable ability. If you are doing your job right as a tank, you really shouldn’t need to use Intervene all that much if ever. So not taken in this build. This is why Concussion Blow was taken in Tier 3, as that is definitely better than Safeguard and lets us get into the next tier.

Tier 5:

  • Warbringer: Yes, yes, yes. The increased mobility makes tanking a pleasure. And if you are into PvP, it allows your Intervene to break movement impairing effects.
  • Sweep and Clear: Pretty much a default talent to help get to next tier. It also looks to be a great Rage generator making that Shield Specialization seem paltry in comparison. So yes, took it.
  • Vigilance: I like Vigilance. Some Warriors don’t. Its a matter of personal preference really. What that Vengeance ability is, as described in the tooltip, is unknown, but that could make this talent killer and unquestionable as a Warrior talent. We will have to wait and see

Tier 6 and 7:

From this point on you pretty much max out all the talents. Damage Shield for added AoE threat, Sword and Board for those yummy, rage free, Shield Slam Procs and Shockwave as the defining Protection Warrior ability and another AoE threat generator.

Fury and Arms:

Going to run down these point by point as well but briefly:

  • Armored to the Teeth (Fury): Increase your ability to hit based on how much armor you have (and Protection should have oodles of it) is a definite plus. Nothing worse than no threat generation because of misses.
  • Cruelty (Fury): Mostly just to get to Tier 2 of Fury but additional Crit on Shield Slam is handy.
  • Blood Craze (Fury): A debatable talent for a Fury specced Warrior but combined with Field Dressing in Arms is a nice way to make yourself less squishy.
  • Fields Dressing (Arms): Really the only talent shallow enough in the tree to be useful. While currently the Deep Wounds spec for extra bleed-on-crit is quite popular, with Blood and Thunder this is not necessary anymore, hence the Fury slant in the talents.

This is actually my first analysis post on upcoming changes and builds. I do need to mention, as Blizzard has countless times, that these talent builds are a “first pass” and not necessarily what Cataclysm will launch with. That being said, I already like this preview build and hope they don’t change too much.

What would you change in your own build assuming it stays this way? Are there perhaps any guys in Beta right now (I’m not sadly) that can shed some light on how it all works? Looking forward to any debate.

I guess everyone has heard by now the upcoming changes to Blizzard forums whereby every post or response will include the posters first and last name with the post. To say the response has been exceedingly vocal and negative is a rather large understatement. I am not sure if Blizzard was expecting this amount of vitriol and disgust but they got it regardless.
So what do you do as a company with over 12 million paying customers and a new feature you thought would be cool (and apparently is one step in a long line of changes you were envisioning) is so heavily and negatively responded to?

1. Do nothing

The first option would be to pretty much give the vociferously negative community the finger, implement the feature as planned regardless and force everyone to adjust. This is probably the easiest thing to do and (I hate to say it) very likely. There are a lot of problems with this, however.

As a company, Blizzard has stated many times that they listen and consider and act on player feedback. This one announcement has created more negative response than any other feature I can think of ever in the history of World of Warcraft. I may have missed something else but this trikes as me the biggest (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). To not respond to this would pretty much make all of Blizzard’s assertions that they listen to the players a moot point. You cannot be a company that “listens and cares” if this event doesn’t force you to do something about it.

2. Allow the name display option to be opt-in

Do you want to post on the forums but not show your real name? Just turn it off on your forum settings. There, problem solved. Real name display is still on the forums but only if you want to.

One big problem! What would be the point of real name display at all then. If you can just turn it off then all the reasons Blizzard said they were implementing this become pointless. Reduce the amount of forum trolls? They can just turn off real name display. Allowing an opt in would satisfy all the people that have a problem with displaying first and last name with every one of their posts, but essentially removes any benefit of having it there at all.

3. Remove real name display entirely.

This is similar and even simpler than Do Nothing above. Just don’t replace the existing forums at all. Or do replace them but add other useful features of Real ID into them, such as only showing your real name to people who are on your Real ID friends list, allow people to request being added to your Real ID friends list from the forum, etc. Adding those Real ID features might help push Real ID further while still giving people options and protection. If trolling is still the main driver for implementing real names in the forums, find alternate ways of fighting it rather. Have more moderators perhaps?

4. A Sum-up

Blizzard needs to do something. They need to alter their plans in some way to appease the very upset player base. Real ID needs to start including more control for an individual for it to really take off. As I have commented elsewhere, Real ID is an all or nothing experience. Either your friends you have added see everything you are doing on any of your characters across all Blizzard games all the time whenever they want, or you don’t use the feature at all and they know nothing. There is no middle ground, no “Offline mode” or “Do not allow Friends of Friends to see my details”. This lack of options to control what data is visible to who and when is what essentially prevents me from using Real ID. And the forum changes are another scary “all or nothing” feature. I may not care if my real name is displayed on the forums, my problem is not that. My concern is we have no choice in the matter.

All or nothing!

Holy crap, but Blizzard are good at getting attention. In this case, the bad kind. If anyone has not heard yet, Blizzard have posted details that they are going to relaunch the Starcraft forums when Starcraft II comes out and the World of Warcraft forums shortly before Cataclysm releases with a rather scary new feature … everytime you make a post your RealID first name and last name will be displayed alongside your post. And here are the facts as we know them now:

  • There will be no way to not allow your name to be displayed.
  • This change will not be retro-active, so if you have posted in the WoW forums before, your posts wont have your real details with it, only new posts created in the new forums once they go live will have this feature.
  • Parents can only stop a child’s name from being displayed in the forums by using Parental Controls to not allow the child to post at all.

Blizzard have stated that it is opt-in. By that, they actually mean that its opt-in to make a post. Not opt-in whether they display your details or not. In other words, you can choose whether you want to post, but once you do, everyone knows your real name.

What difference this makes to me is negligible. My WoW persona is linked already to my real life details and personally I am not scared of the change. What does bug me however is that Blizzard is starting to slowly erode our ability to control our own privacy.

RealID for me is a big sticking point. While I am not afraid to share my real life details to people through RealID, what does bug me is that people I add as friends can see my online status no matter which character/realm/faction I may be on. There is a lot to be said for hopping onto an alt to get some “away time” from everyone that knows you in WoW, and its that away time that I treasure, not necessarily my anonymity.

And now, Blizzard have decided to remove even more privacy controls. Now, not just those you authorise to see your real name are allowed to, but if you post on the forums EVERYONE can! Sure, I might choose not to post there. In fact I rarely do. Its not just this one act taken as a single event that bothers me so much, its thoughts of the future.

Right now we have RealID in game, where adding people to it is opt-in. On its own sounds reasonable. We also now have the forums, whereby your real name will be displayed with each post. On its own its a bit more inflammatory, but at least you have the option to post or not. But what comes next? Will other aspects of WoW that we can’t avoid start becoming mandatory?

Again, its not just that I am paranoid about disseminating my personal info, its that I CHOOSE to. Choice is what people are losing with these “features” that Blizzard’s touts as a way to “bring the community closer”. Its the lack of choice about how personal information is being propagated into the sometimes-not-so-lovely world of the Internet.

In closing, while having my personal info out there is not that big a deal for me, it is for so many other people. The fact that these people’s rights to choose what private information is being exposed is being limited and impinged upon is what is causing the ruckus. Somehow this smacks of Facebooks attempts at trying to force people to start being more open with everyone else by resetting Facebook profiles to open with every privacy change (the reason my Facebook profile is disabled).

Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs posted something that just made me want to post in response to. He discusses the use of “elitism” in WoW and its impact on how we view others around us. I know, three posts in two days, its unheard of, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity as it struck cords with me.

I think the issue with elitism goes a step further than Tam suggested even. Kruntak is my Warrior tank that I faithfully levelled up. And I know this will sound like tooting my own horn, but throughout every PUGged instance I did, I would get compliments on my ability as a tank, with people able to appreciate my actual performance regardless of my gear. This is at low levels.

What happens to people at 80 though? Its as if their appreciation and understanding of performace flies out the window as soon as they start gathering up emblems and gear. One can quite easily point to Gearscore being the cause of the majority of this thinking, but it isn’t just that. Hitting 80 on Kruntak and being able to queue for random HC’s in order to gear yourself up, you naturally take that course. That is essentially the only way to gear up once you hit 80 and eventually qualify gear-wise to actually queue for an HC. The drops are great and the emblems start stacking up to help as well.

So why is it that as I started tanking HC’s I would encounter dicks that would take one look at the generated number Gearscore provides or the HP of my freshly dinged 80 in pretty much all blues, and decide I should not be running HC’s?

One particular occurence sticks out. I queue randomly. In other words, I have NO control over where I will be sent except for what the game itself decides I am capable of doing, and get zoned into an Occulus run. I know, not the most fantastic HC that exists, but I am willing to see it through.

“Oh hell no! Not with that tank!” pipes up a 9873498734 GS mage. Starting to seethe at the umpteenth time that someone comments on my as yet unproven ability to tank an instance, I ignore him and get going. 20 minutes later, we are all looting the lovely chest after Eregos is down with nary a wipe in sight, able to hold aggro even with super-leet ICC 25 geared monster DPSer in the group (and he only pulled around 2-3k DPS anyways).

“So I guess ‘that’ tank wasn’t so bad after all” I chuck into party chat. Thats right knob, suck it up. No apology or anything, they all just stood there with their fingers up their arses waiting.

“Please leave” comes the eventual response and I realise they are all from the same guild, waiting for me to leave so that I guess they can get a “real” tank. I left in disgust.

There are just far too many other encounters similar to that to recount in this one post but that just stood out to me. Others include the “lolz, my penis has more HP than you” to yet another mage even saying “lol, i can tanks this instance” to which I responded “Sure, if you want that I can switch to Fury spec!”. Needless to say that instance went over fine as well with the mage behaving himself.

My question after all this is … how do these idiots expect someone to become an uber GS toting, 70k HP tank if they aren’t allowed to run HC’s? And then I wonder why they don’t realise the reason they spend so long queuing for an instance is because of a shortage of people willing to tank because of intimidation from dicks like them?

I am not the best tank ever in WoW. Occasionally I mess up. It happens. But I do work damn hard to do the best I can. Hell, I have even main tanked Naxxramas for christ’s sake, which is supposed to be harder than a lot of the HC’s I get flack for queuing for.

Unfortunately, the guys that react like this, killing baby tanks before they get started, are not the type to actually read articles like this. Sure it would be great to have yourself a 5k+ GS tank with over 40K HP, but guess what? Not all tanks ding 80 that way. We have to gear up just like everyone else.

This is my version of elitism. Not being able to realise that even YOU were at this stage of your characters development. Even YOU didn’t walk into your first HC toting the latest and greatest tier 9 gear. Now that you suddenly have a full ICC 25 everyone else is deemed unworthy? That is elitism too, and one that I wish could be stamped out.

Dragon Lords on Chamber of Aspects is now my home. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, I even spent money realm and faction transferring a character just to be here. I just couldn’t abandon my character I started the game with so many years ago to dust and mothballs. Meet Krunial:

From being a Night Elf to a Blood Elf. Can’t get more .. traitorous than that. I am sniggering slightly here at the thought. But at least now I can actually play this character when I am not tanking. And doesn’t she just look .. bad ass? That helm on a Night Elf just looked incredibly weird so it was always hidden on him, but with Krunial I think it adds a certain devilishness.

One of the funnest times I had since the switch was a quick PUG when I got into work yesterday morning. I really didn’t have much time (boss was immanently arriving), and so I asked the Bear Butt Tank to make it a quick run.

What I didn’t ask him was to blow my mind and make it a suicide run! Halls of Stone, chain pulling three to four packs at a time, and I am spamming Flash Heal’s, Circle of Healing, Serendipity hasted Greater Heals, Prayer of Mending, going totally bat-shit insane. Then we get to Bran.

Now that things have paused ever so slightly I look over to my mana bar. 92%. I hadn’t even popped a cooldown or a pot for mana regen and yet I was still perfectly capable of continuing chain pulls. Did Blizzard buff mana regen on Priests while I had my levelling/tanking hiatus on Kruntak? To say I was shocked was an understatement. I clearly remember having mana regen issues on this little priest. Or is the Blood Elf racial with increased base intellect really that OP?

Regardless, it was fun, exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Now I would love to try that kind of run on Kruntak, my tank:

He isn’t anywhere nearly as well geared as Krunial above, but perhaps on the easier instances I can actually start blowing other people’s minds and turn a Nexus run into a 5 minute affair. I guess I will have to experiment on that.

One barometer to measure my lack of experience with end game gearing, thanks to my affiliation with so many characters all at once, is the fact that I had no idea that the smithy “Tanks for Everything” actually sold emblem gear. Yup! I had no idea. I tried to scrounge gear that I could get from the quartermasters above the Horde inn with nary a clue that just down the road a bit was a bunch more waiting for purchase. Suffice it to say I ran a ton of HC’s to start grabbing some of the yummy Triumph gear so willingly provided by those vendors and he’s getting there just that much quicker now.

Looking forward to adding another 80 to this list in the near future too. The altaholic has not reverted his ways quite yet. There are a couple other characters slowly inching their way up the level mountain (a hunter, druid and mage to be precise). I think I might focus on a DPS first to 80 though. Sometimes its nice to not have the responsibilities of a tank or healer in an HC and (comparatively) slum it in a run.

Vidyala’s Allegiance

Vidyala, who author’s the Pugging Pally blog (in my blog roll), wrote a rather interesting article on the allegiance of you as a player to a specific faction in World of Warcraft. This made me wonder really which faction I “ally” myself to.

I started playing WoW as an Alliance Night Elf Priest, Dranok. Then I went to a new realm about 6 months ago and decided to try out Horde on this realm (I am a sucker for trying out something I haven’t before, hence the altohlism I find myself perpetually perpetrating) and rolled a Tauren Warrior, Kruntak. Anyone who has read my blog before surely would have seen some posts on my efforts at getting this little cow levelled and geared, and I can now report that he has Main Tanked Naxxramas with my guild on Chamber of Aspects (CoA).

There is just something about the rough-and-ready style of Horde locations that pleases me. Comparing Stormwind, Daranassus, Exodar and even Ironforge to the likes of Orgrimmar, Thunder Bluff and Undercity, you get the distinct impression that the Horde really are the underdogs, struggling to eke out an existence in a world that doesn’t really accept them. Blood Elves? Hrm. I don’t know. Slightly flip-flop in their allegiances maybe? A bit of an identity crisis? Personally I just think Blizzard got sick of all the complaining that Horde has no “pretty” races. But the pretty boys aside, I have always been a sucker for the underdog (even the occasional sports match I watch which has no team I support I root for the guy with all the odds stacked against him), and so I found I liked this idea of a genuine struggle in every sense of the word. No fancy towers, glittery crystals or mountain fortresses, just a valley turned city thanks to natural processes, a collection of teepees on the safety of some mesa’s or a fallen human city’s sewers turned to use by the Undead.

And my guild on CoA is also the biggest factor that decided me on a switch of faction. They are the first bunch of people I really feel … what can I say to describe them without sounding to emotionally wishy-washy? At home with? I know it sounds silly, but other guilds on Aerie Peak as an Alliance character I never truly felt as if I could relax with them.  Maybe it was the pre-conception that Alliance tends to house more of the younger, drama seeking players so I was always on edge waiting for infantile outbursts? As a kid, you always want to play the “good guys”. The impression does exists that Horde tends to be more mature than Alliance as far as players are concerned, and it was possibly this that allowed to find a better bunch of folks to hang out with. Honestly, I am still not entirely sure why it took me THIS long to find a good guild that just fits.

This all ended up with me using Blizzard’s additional services. Dranok, the Night Elf Priest, is no more. A server and faction transfer later, Krunial the Blood Elf Priest was born. The decision was not lightly made (firstly cos it isn’t all that cheap; 45 Euro in South Africa is a fair wad of cash to be spending on something as transient as a game like WoW), but I had spent a fair amount of time on Priestly healy goodness and he was just stagnating on the other realm and faction.

Making the switch from Alliance to Horde was a bit of a challenge. Going from the spangly, glittery, fluffyness of most of the Alliances cities and settlements to the more hardcore, build-it-out-of-whatever-you-can-find Horde locales is an eye opener. A Horde NPC will never tell you they are the underdogs but the feeling is there. “We are surviving, no matter the odds stacked against us”. And that is kind of … inspiring. “Lok’tar Ogar” just seems more impactful than “For the Alliance”. Not to mention hearing Sylvanas for the first time in Forge of Souls .. well lets just say that was far more gut wrenching than more Jaina tears (boy that woman needs to learn to control her emotions).

I am now fully dedicated to the Horde it seems. With a great bunch of people in a guild willing to trust me to tank them through raids, even considering there are far better geared people to do the job. I wouldn’t want to change factions again as it stands.

Worgen. Hrm. That may throw a spanner in the works, but we will have to wait and see…