Site Meter Curse of Senility: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An ADDONis among posts

Over the weekend, I got my very first email from a reader of Curse of Senility. It may seem silly, but it meant a lot to my old-man brain that somebody took the time to write me. Better yet: it wasn't even hate mail! It was a request! And as though to top it off, it was written in proper English. So, since the request should actually make a relatively interesting post, here's the breakdown of my interface addons:

The funky way my character portrait, target window, and raid information are displayed can be attributed to X Perl, a classic unit frames addon. There are more uses for X Perl than I could possibly make use of, much less cover here. What I do use it for is to display more information in less space. For example, you'll notice that rather than my buffs being in the upper right, they're right under my face. What's more, I can see all my party's buffs, and the target of every person in my party, as well as the casting bars of everyone in my party. It also gives me a lot of customization in how my debuffs are displayed--which was immensely helpful before I started using Dot Timers. More on those later.

One thing about having so much information on my screen at once is that, while it is extremely useful, it can be overwhelming if I need to access a specific piece of information in a split second. To take care of that, I use ArcHUD2, which is the reason for those half-circles on either side of my character. From left to right, starting with the red bar, is my Target's health, my health, then the health of my pet in the small crescent, and on the other side of me my pet's mana, then a casting bar which appears whenever I cast, then my mana. For me, ArcHUD is for my eyes what the home-row on a keyboard is for my fingers. It's the default position my eyes return to after they glance somewhere else for some tidbit of info. [EDIT: I messed up what some of the ArcHUD bars do. They're fixed now.]

One of the most difficult thing about playing the game, for me anyway, is figuring out what abilities do what, and how well they do it. I throw up a DoT, and I'm left to gauge it's effectiveness based roughly on how fast a monster dies. I can look at my combat log if I like, but the combat log is a giant mess of numbers representing dozens of different things. Scrolling Combat Text and SCT Damage keep me in-the-know. Those two addons are responsible for what most people dub the 'clutter' on my screen. And perhaps it IS a little cluttered -- but I always know where to find any information I need, so it works for me anyway. To break it down, scrolling downward to the left of my character is the damage I'm dealing, to the right is a display of things like healing and mana replenishment, and scrolling upward above my head is a representation of all the damage I'm taking. Using these, I can see in real-time what the difference is between Corruption, Corruption with Haunt, Corruption with Curse of Elements, and Corruption with both Haunt and Curse of Elements. Extremely useful for working out your DPS.

This is how 'cluttered' my interface is outside of combat.

While in the past, I refused to use addons to help me time my dots, affliction eventually reached a level of complexity that forced my hand. And honestly, I'm happy it did. The depth of the current rotation requires a quick tactical sense and a good sense of rhythm in order to make the most of it, and DoT Timer just looks plain sexy in the bottom center of my screen. Dot Timer shows countdowns for all over-time effects on a targeted creature, and moves effects further toward the bottom of the list depending on how little time they have left compared to the other dots. It goes a long way toward helping a player create that all-important rhythm that goes with playing affliction these days. And as an added bonus, it keeps track of your cooldowns!


It has always pestered me that Blizzard gives some classes more abilities than can possibly fit on an action bar. Most people are fine with this. They simply don't put their useless abilities on action bars, keeping only the most essential buttons easily accessible. I, however, am certain that one of these days I'm going to suddenly be in some sort of situation where Curse of Weakness is useful, and I don't want miss the moment while I'm digging around in my spellbook for it. So, to supplement my action bars, I use Bartender 4 to give me the extra space I need. It also allows me to move the action bars into the corners, giving me some more real estate on my screen. (Bartender is also what let me move my reputation bar to the top of the screen.)

Prat 3.0, while it doesn't directly help me be a better warlock, helps me be a better group member because I'm not chewing my fingers off while trying to manipulate the clunky default chat interface Blizzard gave us. Well...I guess that would mean it makes me a better warlock, since I doubt I'd be very good without fingers. Prat has a multitude of useful features, including the ability to use a wheel mouse to peruse chat, as well as showing the level and class of anybody who says anything, so long as you're familiar with them. And perhaps my favorite feature is that when I'm talking in one of the /# channels, Prat remembers that I'm doing so, and next time I hit the 'enter' key, I don't need to re-type my channel number.

Similar to Prat in the way it helps me avoid a stubby-handed fate, cartographer is a much needed escape from the positively evil default map interface. I've hated that interface since day 1. You can't move while it's up, unless you were already moving when you brought it up. And that hardly matters anyway because you can't turn, or see where you're going. With Cartographer, I can resize the map, move around while it's up, and it even gives me handy tidbits of information about the zones I'm hovering over.

Then of course there are the essentials. Recount, in the lower right, is my damage meter of choice. Below it is actually another recount window. That one displays my personal DPS in real-time. And of course, if I click on the little purple bar with my name on it, I can see a pie-chart style breakdown of my damage. All of them helpful tools to maximize my usefulness to a group. In the upper right, between my minimap and my target, is Omen, my threat meter. And Sir Not-Appearing-In-Any-Screenshots is my handy-dandy raid-leading helpamajig: Deadly Boss Mods. Everyone, regardless of class or role, should probably have these three addons (or an equivalent) if they plan to do any raiding.

This example of recount's pie chart feature was taken during a brief experiment as destruction.

Those aren't all the addons I have installed, but the rest are either dubiously helpful, silly, or are going to be uninstalled whenever I stop being lazy. If I missed anything that you're terribly interested to hear about, or you have an addon you'd like to recommend I try, please feel free to comment!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Curse of Reform

So as the hardcore fans I pretend that I have probably noticed, the rotation being used in the screenshot I posted recently is different from the one I advocated in my post on casting rotations. And for the non-imaginary among you, you'll note that I'm using Curse of Agony instead of Curse of Elements. In forum threads entitled "LS has sold out!!!11eleven" the more astute of my imaginary idolaters no doubt pointed out repeatedly that there is clearly a boomkin in that party, rendering Curse of Elements pointless, and freeing me up to use Curse of Agony instead. And while this is very true, it's not actually the reason for the change in my preferred curse. The truth of the matter is, I have reformed.

As part of my reformation, I've decided to use only level 70 gear from now on.

Before the imaginary flame wars continue, let me explain myself. The catalyst for my decision was the recently announced changes to affliction. Most notably among them, the fact that Corruption and Siphon life are going to be combined into a single casting time. This change comes in response to the fact that Blizzard believes the current affliction rotation to be 'too complicated.' And in truth, affliction warlocks have possibly the most complicated rotation in the game right now.

I love that complexity though. I realize the removal of one global cooldown from the active rotation won't completely kill that complexity, but it will simplify it somewhat. It will make affliction more accessible to all the people who stopped playing their warlock because it became 'too hard.' And before that happens, I wanted to get in a few hours of play with the most difficult rotation I'll ever be likely to have. And I wanted to kick ass with it.

So does this mean that once the rotation is simplified, I'll go back to using Curse of Elements like a good warlock? Nope. While I will, of course, still use it if I feel the situation calls for it, I've noticed that, as of late, I seem to be the only one benefiting from it much. My group/guild is positively notorious for never once having a max level mage that wasn't 'too good' to run things with us, and most of the DPS we DO have is of the physical variety. Hunters, Death Knights, Rogues, and so on. Curse of Elements certainly helps them a little (arcane shot comes to mind) but given the rather significant increase in personal DPS that I've seen since talenting and glyphing properly for Curse of Agony, I think it's time for me to officially replace CoE with CoA*. Not to mention the fact that the boomkin I ran with in that screenshot seems to be playing much more actively again, so this might not be the last time I run with her!

Note the prominent percentage of damage CoA did

So, for those imaginary fans of mine who strive to emulate my play style to the best of their ability, here's my new casting rotation. It's been modified for my newfound lack of trinkets with use function, as well as my new curse preference:

1) Cast one Shadow Bolt, causing the Shadow Embrace effect.

2) Cast Haunt, causing both that debuff, and a second stack of the Shadow Embrace effect.

3) Cast Corruption (I now have this bound to Ctrl+3, since if haunt is re-applied properly, it only needs to be cast once in any given fight. Moving it here allows me to keep my subsequent rotations rooted in keys 1-7. 8 is a little hard for me to reach.)

4) Siphon Life

5) Curse of Agony

6) Unstable Affliction

7) Immolate

8) Re-apply dots as necessary, avoiding clipping (re-casting a dot before it has 100% completed.) Cast haunt whenever it's up--don't worry about clipping it. If not otherwise occupied, be casting Shadow Bolt. Life tap / Dark Pact when you've got a moment of free time too short to cast a shadow bolt in.

*I honestly never thought I would say that.

How LS became a whore:

After I finish writing this post, I'm going to sign up for Google's ad service, and start putting advertisements on Curse of Senility. Actually, first I'm going to finish writing tomorrow's post, THEN I'm going to put advertisements on this site.

Now usually, I wouldn't feel it necessary to inform readers of such a thing. I put a lot of work into this blog, and while my primary satisfaction comes from a job well done and from making the lives of my readers just a tad bit more amusing; I also need to keep a roof over my head. And for the record, that's exactly what it has come down to: keeping a roof over my head.

The reason I decided to make a post about this is because many of my readers found me through my girlfriend's blog. And in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if at least a FEW of my readers are only following me so they can wait for me to mess up badly enough that they might have a chance with Pike. Not happening guys. =P

Getting back to the heart of the matter, Pike has taken a firm stand against advertisements on Aspect of the Hare. It might appear to some people that Pike's boyfriend allowing advertisements on his blog somehow weakens that stand of hers. Somehow makes her a hypocrite, simply by association with me. I'd like to nip that idea in the bud before it lifeblooms. (GET IT?) Pike and I have always had extremely disparate goals for our respective blogs. Aspect of the Hare is, for pike, more of an end in itself. While Curse of Senility has always been a means to an end for me. When I first started, it was a means of forcing myself to write regularly in the hopes that my style would improve. Now that it has taken off the way it has, I'd like to see if maybe it can be a means towards my next meal.

Know that I will do my utmost to ensure that none of the advertisements placed here are at all intrusive. And I encourage anybody who notices any popups or noise-making advertisements to inform me post-haste so I can rectify the situation with great immediacy. Thank you all for your understanding, and your continued readership.

P.S. By the way, to make up for last week's lack of posts, I'm attempting to post every day this week. This post, of course, does not count.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

RP so hardcore, it walks OUTSIDE of town

It would be a lie for me to say that I'm an active Role Player, but I still like to RP in my mind. Thinking about my character as more than a 'toon' goes a long way towards deepening the gameplay experience for me. I enjoy considering their motivations, their histories, and the way the world around them would appear to a fellow who wasn't looking at it through a 17 inch CRT monitor. I don't always hold to my character's opinions on things. In character, Sentai thinks Varian Wrynn is a tyrannous bigot, and I've gone into self imposed exile in Dustwallow Marsh. Out of Character however, Stormwind is still my favorite city in terms of layout, so I spend a lot of time there.

As of late, I've greatly enjoyed thinking about my spells from this semi-RPing perspective. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about my spells as pure mechanics. They are piles of numbers representing casting time, base damage, damage modifiers, and so on. But they do have names, icons, and fancy animations. Rain of fire isn't just an area of effect spell which is channeled over 10 seconds and deals 2-3k non crit damage to every enemy in a 15-yard radius every 2 seconds. It's fucking FIREBALLS falling out of the SKY. So lets dive in shall we?

FIREBALLS FROM THE SKY! (Damn, level 70 numbers, amirite?)

Haunt, as has been made clear in this blog before, is one of my favorite new spells. Based on the fact that it's called haunt, and the way it makes my dots hurt the target more, as well as how it returns to me when it's done, I like to think of haunt as a 'controlled release' of one of the souls imprisoned in my soul shards. My warlock imbues a shadow bolt with this soul, and launches it at the victim. The tormented soul then haunts the body of my target, exacerbating any debilitating ailments their host has, as some kind of blind revenge for their own suffering. They are then forcefully drawn back to me, unwillingly healing their own tormentor.

Corruption corrupts. It rots away the insides of my victims. Premature decomposition--a necrosis, if you will, of the intestines and stomach and so forth. Those afflicted by this spell frequently gush forth liters of bloody vomit--as is depicted on the spell's icon.

Curse of Agony doesn't actually cause any physical damage to the target. It is rather, an affliction of the mind. Over the duration of the spell, it causes the victim to feel exceedingly severe sharp pains, every second or so. The agony the afflicted suffers becomes still more painful with each burst of pain, mounting one on top of another until even the most stoic of warriors is left in the fetal position, weeping.

A soul stone is like a temporary phylactery that can be applied to a living person. I drain the lucky target's soul from their body, and place it in the soul stone, and I replace their soul with one of the souls imprisoned in my soul shards. Given as the soul-sharded soul is bound to my will, I can allow the soul of my friend to remain in command of their body, despite no longer inhabiting it. After the spell runs out, or the body dies, the imprisoned soul--having done his duty--is set free to return to the afterlife, and the Soul Stone crumbles, forcing my friend's soul to return to their body.

You can't tell me RP isn't awesome.

Long before I started playing WoW, I created something called a Blood Mage for Dungeons and Dragons. The idea was that it was a constitution based caster class (constitution being the equivalent of stamina) who took damage every time they cast spells--the more powerful the spell, the more damage they would take. In character, the Blood Mage carried knives, and made cuts on their body. Their own blood then became the reagent for the spell they would cast--and they could keep casting for as long as they had health. Given that bit of history, my masochistic interpretation of Life Tap should come as no surprise. I don't figure life tap is actually a cutting-upon-one's-self thing though, rather I think it's just an immense physical pain--similar to what curse of agony causes--and that suffering is converted into mana.

Damn...writing this post makes me feel like a bad person. Sentai Grehsk is a nice guy! Honest! He's all about peace and love, and he only fights when he believes the cause of world peace will be served by it. Arnoux is pretty mean though...Astien too. They'd be perfectly okay with how horrible these spells are. >:D

Monday, February 16, 2009

slash roll 100 >.>

Gee willickers, midterms can sure have a way of showing you when you've bitten off more than you can chew. Turns out updating a blog 3ish times a week through thick and then, while also attending university full time isn't a walk in the park. This round of midterms is done with now, however, and I'd like to get back in the swing of things by adding to my ever-so-slowly-growing collection of posts that might actually be helpful to somebody. So, in the spirit of being helpful, lets talk about gear.

Gear selection is a contentious issue for many warlocks. Hell, if you've ever debased yourself by visiting the official forums you should know that for many people, gear selection is tantamount to one's worth as a person. Rubes of the official forums aside, though, there is more than one school of thought about how to select gear. Some of them are absolutely terrible (we call these "Stamina Stackers") while some of them have a legitimate case to make. Since my goal with this blog has absolutely nothing to do with objectivity, what follows is an approximation of how I select my own gear. It seems to have worked pretty well so far.

*Cough* >.>

As a forward to my discussion on gear selection, I want to reiterate--for those who have never read my blog before, or those with a poor memory--that I'm talking about PvE affliction gear here. Usually I go ahead and leave that unstated, since it's implicit in the way I talk about things. However, when discussing gear that distinction is nowhere near as clear--and far more important. PVP warlocks, PvE demonology warlocks, and PvE destruction warlocks have different priorities for each of their stats--even if we all use the same ones.

I'd also like to say, before I start, that I could have simply written about specific pieces of gear I think a person should get, but that wouldn't really be helpful in the long run. You might say that rather than giving you a gear-fish, I'd like to teach you how to catch a gear-fish. Gear-fishing, however, is no simple matter; there's MATHZ involved. And while a good WoW player should never be too lazy to play with the numbers, I think there's a threshold where it becomes acceptable to approximate and move on. I call that threshold the "damn, where the fuck is my old calculus textbook" line.

Having said all of that, lets start to break this down. Selecting gear is, essentially, a choice between various stats. There are seven stats a warlock should care about, and every other stat is absolutely and utterly pointless for a PvE affliction warlock, and should be completely ignored. Each of those seven stats serves a specific purpose, and should be weighted according to the importance of that purpose.

Spell Hit is of paramount importance--at least until you get 446 of it. This is a pretty standard requisite for all the DPS classes but frequently I hear some young warlock proclaim something akin to "I never miss anyway, so I don't need spell hit." To which I must respond that anybody who thinks they never miss isn't watching their combat log closely enough (May I recomend Scrolling Combat Text Damage?)

Consider this: haunt is the groundwork for any affliction rotation, and it has a nice big 8 second cooldown on it. If haunt were to miss, then that's at least 8 full seconds of unbuffed dot ticks--a massive blow to any warlock's standing on the DPS meter.

Stacking hit isn't very fun, though. In fact, it's pretty boring to stack compared to things like crit. Fortunately, there is relief if you spec correctly. While it is true that without talents, you must get 446 hit rating to be hit-capped, if you put even 1 point each into Suppression and Cataclysm (in the affliction and destruction trees respectively) that will bring your requisite hit rating down to 420 to be hit capped for all of your spells. If you put TWO points in each, the hit-cap is lowered still further to 394! And if you're able to put a total of six points aside for putting 3 in each of the two talents, then the hit cap goes all the way down to 368. Obviously those talent points might be better spent elsewhere, but they are a nice cushion that can allow you to play a bit above your gear level.

Spell Power is a warlock's bread and butter. There really isn't too much more that can be said about it. Gearing up is largely the quest to make this number higher and higher without getting un-hit capped.

Spirit was, until very recently, utterly useless. However, in patch 3.0.2, things changed! Not only does Life Tap scale with this stat, but (far more importantly) 30% of our spirit is turned into Spell Power by our Fel Armor! This isn't horribly significant, but it is worth keeping in mind if you're ever faced with a tough decision. Lets say, for example, that you're trying to choose between two pieces of gear. One has 30 spell power, and the other has 100 spirit and 10 crit rating. Now, spell power is always preferable to crit rating for an affliction warlock, but, that 100 spirit will be turned into 30 spell power by fel armor, meaning that the second piece of gear effectively has 30 spell power and 10 crit--a clear winner when compared against the first piece, which has only 30 spell power.

Crit Rating is everybody's favorite stat, and thanks to Pandemic, now affliction warlocks can play with it too! That doesn't mean we're allowed go go wild, however. But thankfully, most pieces of endgame gear have at least two green stats (Spell Power, Hit Rating, Haste Rating, or Crit Rating) and once one has gathered enough hit rating, it's a perfectly legitimate strategy to use mostly Spell Power / Crit Rating gear. In fact, that's precisely what I do.

Intellect is to crit rating what spirit is to spell power...sort of. Intellect has two primary uses. First, more intellect means deeper mana pools, which means less life tapping and more pew-pewing. More relevant to the aforementioned relationship however is that intellect raises crit rating. To be precise about it, 167 intellect translates into 46 crit rating at level 80. 46 crit rating being the requisite amount for a full 1% crit chance. So, much like the example I used with spirit above, enough intellect can make up for losing some crit rating on a new piece of gear--and in fact, it's preferable to get your crit chance off of intellect, since intellect also increases your mana pool.

Haste, I will be honest, is a bit of an enigma to me. Rather than try to sound like I know what I'm talking about when I don't, I'll say this: it makes your spells go faster, this is awesome. However, in most cases it seems like you must choose between gear with spellpower/haste, or spellpower/crit. Which either means accepting a very low crit chance, or balancing out the two stats and having them both be mediocre. Personally, I stack crit rating. This may well not be the best choice, as I have seen spreadsheets that imply haste to be the superior stat. I am slowly building up my haste, and hope to get a better idea of just how much it helps my DPS in the future.

Stamina happens. That's really all there is to say. Yes, stamina is an important stat for warlocks, it keeps us alive and it allows us to do mad life-tapz...but it doesn't need to be considered. Sentai's unbuffed HP has fluctuated from 14,000 to 18,000 and back again, and it doesn't matter. All gear has loads of stamina on it these days, and a piece of gear would have to be an absolutely titanic loss of stamina in order to warrant even a passing consideration in the decision making process. In honesty, the only reason I even included it in this list is because there are PVE affliction warlocks out there, the bad ones who showed up to Kara in Gladiator gear, who think stamina is the absolute most important stat for warlocks. It is not. At all.

And that's the four-one-one on warlock gear selection. The most important thing, of course, is balance. 446 hit rating is worthless if you've got 100 spell power, and by the time you've got 1800 spell power you should probably have at least 15% crit, or a nice bit of haste if you decided to go that rout. I'd like to thank my warlock-buddy Kolrawn for helping me work out the best way to break this all down, and I hope that it ended up being helpful.

A closing note on spell penetration: It's essentially useless. Here's what WoW Wiki says on the matter:

PvE, targets of a higher level than the caster have a base resistance (2% of mitigation per level difference) which cannot be overcome by spell penetration nor by any other stat. Otherwise, very few mobs and raid-level bosses have a substantial amount of resistance to overcome.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Personal Norris

So, it turns out breaking down gear selection into a pleasurable read isn't as simple as I was expecting. Do I break it down into simple 'this stat is always more important than that stat?' No, that would be wildly inaccurate. Do I give weighted averages and graphs detailing a particular stat's effectiveness in conjunction with other stats? No, cuz then I might as well just copy paste a spreadsheet. So I'm trying to work out a balance for the post, and while I've been doing that, this blog has gone five days without being updated--oops!

So, lest I allow myself to be considered a poor host, I'll bake you a delicious cake as an apology for my lack of productivity. This cake just so happens to be made of words. Words on a web page. Words on a web page which appear to be 'humorous anecdote' shaped, rather than cake shaped. Words on a web page which probably taste like electricity and death if you try to take a bite out of them. Still, it's a delicious cake damn you!*

From about level 45 or so, and on through Karazhan, I was a member of a close-knit group of friends who instanced together. Very much at the heart of this group was our tank; a warrior who went by the name of Espado. Espado is a lovable, artistic fellow, who becomes an absolute bear of a man when he tanks (not literally, that's druids silly.) Tank is hardly even an appropriate word for what he did for our group. This man was a combine harvester, who shredded his way through groups of mobs while the DPS and the heals tagged along behind him, never fearing that anything would escape his massive pile of aggro.

Espado and I pause for a moment after a fierce battle--can you tell I was a clicker back then?

I'll not list all the many exploits of my good tanking friend because my reader's heads would explode, and I rather enjoy having readers with heads. Instead, I'd like to fast forward to last week, when Espado and I were hanging out together, talking about art in the manliest possible fashion, and at some point, I asked him if he would mind if I leveled his toon--which has been neglected due to how very boring he finds Wrath of the Lich King (I told him not to level in the Boring Tundra!) He readily agreed.

He got me logged into his account, and I stepped into shoes that I would attempt to fill by using approximately one metric fuckton of tissue paper. I promptly logged back out again because who the heck plays using the number pad!? Rather than mess up his settings, I installed bartender so I could set up my own action bars--which I populated primarily with things I already understood from the 28 levels of McJiggins I've played so far. And, since my understanding of the class is pretty much limited to tanking--and because it's ESPADO--I decided to tank something. I found a level 76ish healer, two level 71ish DPS, and headed off to Utgarde Keep!

Words really don't do the rest of this story much justice, so I'll turn it over to a more visual medium:

Huh, those first dozen pulls weren't so bad! The death knight only pulled from me a time or two, and he's REALLY good...maybe I can pull this off after all!

HOLY SHIT I JUST TANK'D A LEVEL 70 INSTANCE WITH ONLY A SINGLE DEATH! (Wasn't my fault either, the lock got hit by too much AoE!)

My accomplishment filled me with such exuberance that I started shouting Espado's old catchphrases! PANTS OFF, GAME ON!

That was one of the most fun things I've done in World of Warcraft in MONTHS. And I've been to Gnomergan.



*Anyone found iterating 'the cake is a lie' in the comments just because cake was mentioned will soon find me on their doorstep with a notarized document from a judge, which grants me the right to harm him/her for the e-crime of repeating that god-awful phrase.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Changes on the Horizon!

Extra! Extra! Changes for warlocks are a-coming!

I was planning to do a post today about how to select gear as a warlock at any level, but the information which was just release means I'll have to save that post for another time. For now, lets dive right into the changes announced, and my thoughts on them.

Improved Shadow Bolt – this talent now provides a 5% spell critical strike buff (similar to Improved Scorch)
This is clearly in response to Blizzard's stated concern that Improved Scortch was, as they put it, "too much of a unique snowflake." That said, I'm not sure how happy I am about this change. On the face of it it seems very obviously to be a buff, but if this new function of the Improved Shadow Bolt talent removes the OLD function, then this is probably going to work out as a nerf for affliction warlocks. On the bright side, perhaps, it might make shadow destro / shadow demonology a more viable choice (provided more changes are enacted) which will certainly be beneficial to people who don't like casting nothing but fire spells these days.

Improved Soul Leech – this talent now provides Replenishment (similar to shadow priests)
I'm pretty happy about this change. It will add some badly needed utility to the destruction spec, which I'm always happy to see. Furthermore, it turns destruction warlocks into a mana battery, which makes them more attractive for raids. Move over shadow priets! We're here to take your raid spot. =P

Drain Soul now has a chance to produce Soul Shards even if the target doesn’t die.
I'm not quite sure what this means, but I'm really happy to see that blizzard is continuing their recent trend of making soul-shards less of a pain in the ass. Between resummoning your pet after every death, making firestones, summonging people, passing out healthstones, and soul-stoning the healer, I'm ready to accept any change that makes acquiring some souls easier in situations such as PVP, and instances with very few trash pulls.

Siphon Life no longer as an active ability but the talent grants the old Siphon Life effect to Corruption.
What precisely this means is a bit confusing. Fortunately Blizzard explained it a bit further later on. So it seems that the simplest way to put this is that Siphon Life will no longer be a button on your action bar; rather, it will simply be automatically applied when you cast corrupion. Two dots, once cast. Good news for everybody who thinks affliction is too complicated, so-so news for everyone who relishes in that complexity. I can only imagine that the new Siphon Life will join corruption in being re-applied by Haunt.

Curse of Recklessness and Curse of Weakness have been combined into one spell.
More curse combinations! If these keeps up, the debuffer class will only have a handfull of debuffs left. Still, this conjunction of two semi-useless debuffs will hopefully be more useful than their contingent parts were.

Consume Shadows – this Voidwalker ability is no longer channeled but has a cooldown.
Nice little quality of life buff here. No longer will we have to stand still while our voidwalker heals himself. Instead, he can run along beside us while he regens health!

Several other warlock talents have had their ranks reduced, their effects changed or removed. This list includes but is not limited to Demonic Empathy, Shadow Embrace, Eradication, Suppression, and Pandemic.
I'll avoid speculating as to what exactly these changes are. My sincere hope is that the shadow damage buff afforded by Shadow Embrace has been increased, that the amount of dots Pandemic applies to has been improved, and the internal cooldown of Eradication has been lowered. I'm also wondering if, perhaps, suppression is being combined with Cataclysm. Damn, I speculated. >.>

Additional new talents have been added.

I trust they are as generally promising as these have been! =D

Obviously, as the blue post points out, this is all subject to change. I remember there were a LOT of things in 3.0 that I was looking forward to with great anticipation; things which never saw release on a live server. Still, this is at least a good indication of things to come, and we can always hope that things will only improve for the better as this patch is developed further.

In closing, I'd like to thank Blizzard from the bottom of my heart. I want to thank them for being more open with us--the community--than they have been in the past. It makes the game much more fun for me to be able to follow the development process in something like real-time. And I further think it is our duty, as the World of Warcraft fan community, to respect Blizzard's decision to be more open with us. We should respect it by remembering that they could have easily kept all of this secret from us until it was more finalized. We should respect it by not bitching if a change we liked is reverted before the patch goes live.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where Went the Warlock Quests?

Sentaigrehsk's Journal; Level 1, I met a lady standing in the graveyard behind the chapel today. She looked scary. Beside her was a dark man, with a wicked little creature dancing beside him. She had a task for me--much like everybody else around here seems to have. Like a fool I took her at her word. I hunted down and killed three people--defias scum, no real loss I suppose. But when I returned to her she revealed that what I took from them had never been hers in the first place; she revealed that the defias theives had played right into her hands by stealing a book that she had wished to steal herself. I'm unaware of how I should feel about this...but she taught me something in exchange...

Back in the day, there were class-quests. Why the hell did they quit making those? Granted, many of them were stupidly easy, and those that were not easy had somewhat lackluster rewards (I imagine to placate those who wouldn't be able to find groups.) But they added a depth and immersion to the classes and to the game itself that I simply don't feel from level 61 onward.

Astien's Journal; Level 10, 'At green-stached codger Blackwrench gave me some bit about needin' ta head ta the ol' stormie city to talk ta some tall bastard 'bout getting meself a blueberry. Fucker said he'd fallen in with some pretty young thing and lost 'is shiney bauble. Now it's my job ta go get it back jes cuz these tallies can't keep it in their pants. Nether blasted assholes must not be gettin' enough air bein up so high likes they is.

Going to the trainer and simply learning new abilities has no charm, no flair. I certainly understand why it's necessary for most of a class' abilities. After all, if we had to quest for every single one, than most people wouldn't bother getting half, or more, of their spells--but blizz had a good balance in vanilla WoW, why'd they abandon it altogether?

Arnoux's Journal; Level 20, Men of honor and goodness, the blind one was right in questioning their existence--for there are none. Their race is week; subject to the whims of their flesh-bound form. In all the world only two were said to exist, and even those two cursed me as I cut their hearts from their chests. What honor can there be in such an ignoble entrance to death? I was fortunate that the Succubus accepted my offering despite the impurity of weakness with which it was tainted.

Not just abilities either. I remember gathering shards of a crystal from Shadowfang Keep and Blackfathom Deepths (I think) to forge an off-handed item with some killer stats. And back before all the gear was re-itemized in patch 2.3 (when spellpower and other stats were added to low level gear) the bloodrobe was one of the best pieces of non-endgame gear in vanilla WoW. I know at least a few warlocks who stuck with it until Outlands. (Though I managed to upgrade to the Robes of the Lich myself.)

Sentaigrehsk's Journal; Level 53, I was working with the druids in the Fel Wood today, trying to use my knowledge of demonic magic to help them reverse the demon-taint that pervades the land. We made only a little progress, but that's not important. Far more noteworthy than my continued failure to apply my knowledge as a force for good is this pompous little gnome I met. He promised me the ability to summon a guardian of immeasurable physical strength if I helped him out. While the gnome's petty ambitions are of no concern of mine--perhaps this knowledge he promises will prove the key to unlocking Fel Wood's cure!

Wait, wut? (Yes, I was a terrible warlock in those days.)

There are a lot of mechanics blizzard has abandoned as time has gone on, thanks to WoW's development team has learned and evolved. On most issues, I applaud them for that. I may be a fan of the old, more hardcore-oriented content, but speaking in terms of the big-picture, I think most of blizzard's decisions have been for the better. Making raids more accessible, creating more 5-man endgame content, giving classes like druids and pallies the ability do do something other than heal--these are all excellent things.

Sentaigrehsk's Journal; Level 60, I constructed the cage as I was instructed, and used the device Mr. The Decrepit had me build to ensnare one of the legion's Doomguards here in the tainted scar. Thank The Shadows Lord Kazaak no roams there. As promised, I learned the secret of summoning and controlling one...but the secrets that were imparted to me fill me with fear. Such terrible power at my fingertips, with a cost only a demon would be able to bear upon his conscience. I wonder, not for the first time, if the path I have chosen will leave anything left of my soul.

On this matter, however, I think the devs made a mistake. I'm certainly not an experienced game designer, but I'm familiar enough to know that adding 2 or 3 quests for each of the ten classes would not be a terribly difficult thing to do. Certainly not as difficult as many of the other projects blizzard undertakes. An NPC here or there, some quest text, toss a named mob into some unused bit of real estate and boom.

Sentaigrehsk's Journal; Level 70, Today I helped my young student Moreven master her Dreadsteed. For months she's collected spell components, bartered with demons, and ventured into lethal danger, and today I watched as she single-handedly subjugated a Nathrezim with the skills I have taught her. My eyes welled with tears at the sight...and I'm not sure if it is my pride in her for succeeding, or my shame in myself for enabling her to do so.

Given that two expansions have gone by since the last class quest, with one or two exceptions, I doubt we're going to see any more of them in the future. However, if Blizz is listening, then please heed the words of this humble old warlock, and give me back this little bit of immersion that you abandoned. I don't care if the rewards are absolutely worthless, or if there are no rewards at all. I just want my class to feel special again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pirate Urination (Arrrgh, pee!)

Silver Hand (US) is my home. I love this server, and I doubt I'll ever seriously consider leaving it. Often, some (truly brilliant) witticism I make in /2 will quickly be followed by one old friend or another responding with "HEY SENTAI!" or some old enemy responding with "FUCK YOU, SCRUB." I sometimes joke that everybody on the server either has me on their friends list or their ignore list by now. Good times.

Silver Hand is also an RP server. And while there were a multitude of factors that led to me rolling there, among them is my long and sordid history of role playing. Be it over a table top or across the endless tubes of the Internet, I've always loved trying on different identities. My thoughts on World of Warcraft RP are--perhaps--a topic for another time, however. Today, I'd like to take a moment to talk about RP descriptions. Terrible ones.

For those who have never attempted to 'immerse themselves in a fantasy role playing environment,' you may perhaps be unaware of the addon FlagRSP. All one must really know is that it allows a person to write a role play description of their character, which other FlagRSP users can see by selecting that player. Naturally on RP servers, it is a somewhat common addon. And as any intelligent person can no doubt guess; many, if not most, of these descriptions are nothing short of cringe-inducing.

And so, without further ado, your humble servant LS submits to you a non-comprehensive satire of Bad-RP-Description Archetypes:

The English Mayger: This guy had a 7th grade reading level when he was in 6th grade, and is convinced he's William fucking Shakespeare. His RP description can be marked by bizarre similes, always referred to as metaphors, and unnecessarily long words, often used improperly (so in those respects, you might say his RP description is very much like this blog.) Frequently his entire persona will change just to give him the opportunity to use a different big word. Rarely will he ever be seen actually RPing, because nobody can match his particular brand of intellectual prowess.

Smugly, the majestic magi Aznorzondicumulese masticates his tongue in his mouth as he observes you gazing upon him. His silken hair, draped elegantly across his elegant shoulders, glides down to the cold hard earth with the grace and elegance of a dove. His heavy-set jaw in clenched in admonition, and his eyes exude the feeling that he will stomach no soilment of his most auspicious honor. Between his long fingers, he spins an elegant crystal disk, which shimmers as though Beelzebub's fury were encased within it.

You win the RP if you're more badass than the other guy: For these people, the only reason they're RPing is so they can impress people by one-upping everyone with imaginary accomplishments they often make up on the spot. Pity them; they only do it due to a lack of any real accomplishments to brag about. Their RP descriptions are marked by excessive length, and the assumption that your character is able to make wild inferences about their past just by looking at them. Additionally, these characters are almost always rude, and will make an insincere attempt to repulse any attempt to talk with them--an attempt which is really just a cry for attention by the player.

You see before you a regal Night Elf. His glowing white-hot eyes glow with an inner fire, that express a deep and profound sadness, along with a memory dating back to the very creation of Azeroth. A deep scar runs down the side of his face--it looks as though it was made by Frostmourne in a three-way-battle between Illidan, Arthas, and him. His arm is marred by the teethmarks of a dragon, could it have been Deathwing? His armor is pitch black, and when you look at it you feel as though you are looking into eternity itself. His flowing cape brushes the ground, and is made by the finest clothiers of Silvermoon--who have interwoven the threads with mithril, making it indestructible. On his back is a sword forged by the breath of Alexstraza (his former lover) and set with magic gems that allow the wielder to sprout magical dragon wings. From his belt hangs a dagger etched with magical runes, and if you look at it you seem to see black rose petals wafting off of it. As you stare at him, he telepathically warns you to stay away.

The Guy who wants you to think he's a girl: Does it mostly for the hot lesbian cyborz. Never plays anything but a Night/Blood Elf, or very occasionally a Human, always female of course. If it's ever discovered that he's a guy, he'll defend himself by saying that he strongly identifies with femininity.

Petite and and cheerful, the bubbly young lady smiles at you when she notices you looking at her. Short and curvaceous, her eyes glitter with a mischievous glint and a dimpled grin never leaves her cheeks. Her dress is modest, though you get the distinct impression that she's not quite aware of her own sexuality yet; as her bountiful bosoms are left to bounce freely with every bounding step she takes.

The Girl who wants you to know she's a girl: Probably either a fat sow whose never had sex due to nobody ever being able to find her genitals*, or (more often) an emotional leech of a girl who will 'confide in you' that she cuts herself within 10 minutes of getting your attention. (If the latter case ever engages in cyb0rz, she will treat it more seriously than most girls would treat losing their virginity to a rapist.)

Shy and reserved, she is usually found sitting in the back of the room, gazing listfully at her hand, and twisting an old wedding ring around her finger. Her simple, long sleeved dress looks to be hand-made, and aside from her ring, the only piece of jewelry she has is a locket draped around her neck, with two small pictures inside.

So beware, WoWrriors! If you ever dare to venture onto an RP server, do so with courage in your heart. For if you venture into the lair of the beast, the beasts that prowl there will soon find you and pester you with their terrible characters! Your best defense is a macro bound to Keystroke #1 that goes "/y LOL RP."

Best of luck, adventurers.

(*Yes, I am a horrible person. I'm comfortable with that.)