Friday, March 28, 2008

What the spec?

My intention has always been to eventually have 1 character of each class at level 70. I've never really thought about how to spec them.

So here's my attempt at pre-speccing my alts before they are built and to see if I can end up with a good overall picture that will help me cover all that goodness that wow can throw at me.
The main orientation is solo play, every character should be viable to grind some (with the possible exception of the healer) and do decently in 5-mans. This is definitely not a 25 man raid oriented group.

In my previous post I already pointed out the need for 1 dps, 1 tank and one healer and I came to the conclusion that the following line-up would be best suited for my needs:

1. Capsize: affliction warlock
2. Capstone: protection paladin
3. Capibara: Restoration druid

this leaves me with: a shaman, a priest, a warrior, a rogue, a mage and a hunter

I am already decided on my priest going shadow for mana battery goodness and some nice overall utility ( I guess he'd count as dps but meh). And the mage will end up DPS either way and in the long run I'd really like him to be arcane/ frost or arcane / fire

4. Capacitate: Shadow Priest
5. Capitulate: Arcane Mage

I will most likely end up using the rogue for the stealth aspect. sneaking into places and whacking the occasional low-level boss and doing some farming so it would definitely have to be a solo pve spec which suggests either combat or a combat / assassination blend.

6. Capone: Combat/Assassination Rogue

The warrior is a bit of a tough choice. I could use another tank to have a bit of balance between my paladin but the paladin should cover most of my tanking needs and I really don't see the viability of prot if you need to go do a bit of grinding every now and then. I guess this settles the debate on fury for now.

7. Capeesh: Fury Warrior

The hunter isn't too hard. Beast Mastery sounds a fun way to go at least in the beginning with a potential spec into survival later down the line. Odds are this character will never see much group play and is one of the only classes that uses pets extensively so I might as well focus on that.

8. Capricious: Beast Mastery / survival Hunter

Last but not least the shaman which is a toss up between enhancement and elemental. I have plenty of melee as well as magic DPS at this point so it's really based on what will feel better. For the moment I opt out of having mana issues and so this will end up solidly in enhancement.

9. Capow: Enhancement Shaman

And there we have it. The easy part is done. Now for the levelling which I am sure will make for a few interesting blog posts in the future.

Karazhan and the expected impact

It has finally happened. Not so much because of the attunement removal in 2.4 but simply because the guild finally is ready for it. Karazhan... our first raid on Kara has taken place and I think the raid is currently on Curator.

It's hard to say what's going on though, news from the raid group is few and far between and even listening in on raid chat doesn't give a clear picture of what's going on.

They seem to be having fun, making progress and that's all that really should matter to them but in the meantime the rest of the guild is already starting to get that 'recently deceased' feel to it.

With the healers and officers tied up in kara and there already being a low amount of healers in the guild it seems that my soloing days I thought were on the decline are back stronger than ever.

Time to re-focus. It's a fair assumption to think that they will never invite me to Kara (at least not within the next month or two) and even if they do go out looking for DPS then there's enough of it around to make it easy to miss the opportunity to sign up.

Whilst I wait for my pity run through Kara it's time to build what I like to call the 'triumvirat'.

Every party has 3 corner stones. DPS, Healing and Tanking. Despite my legion of alts I don't have anything on level 70 able to do the tanking job or the healing job so the goal is quite simple: grow a tank and grow a healer.

I already have a ranged DPS in my affliction lock. So that's covered.

For tanking there's the trusty bear, the cut and dried prot warrior or the paladin. Since I will probably run in an off-tank role or in 5-mans I'd say the paladin is my best pick. A good deal of aoe tanking capacity, coupled with plate armor and some decent emergency buttons make this my preferred choice for 5-mans.

on to the healer, once again the paladin but also the priest, druid and shaman are options. I don't necessarily want to use a paladin as a healer because he will be my tank and I am no fan of the respeccing and collecting double/triple gear sets (or rolling 2 characters of the same class for that matter). The priest has a very interesting option for going shadow and being a mana battery so he's probably not my pick either. That leaves the shaman's chain healing and totems vs the druid's HOT approach in which case I opt for the unique approach to healing of the tree.

So to name the lineup that will get a boost in the coming future:

Ranged DPS: Capsize (affliction warlock)
Tank: Capstone (Prot Paladin)
Healer: Capibara (Resto Druid)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The legality of RTM

Well there we have it. The inevitable post about real money transfers and the implied legalities / illegalities of such.

Now I am no lawyer, and good lawyers that actually have half a clue about intellectual property in combination with RTM in online worlds are rare (as unusual as that may be for a lawyering field).

Still, having worked in the field of software development over the last 10 years next to having it as a hobby has taught me a fair share about intellectual property, money transfers and whatnot.

I remember the olden days where diablo2 items were sold en-masse on Ebay, I also remember how quickly that got stopped.

But what's the truth? what's the deal? Is it illegal or is it just plain annoying?

I am not going to elaborate on the impact of gold-selling and account selling on the economy of a MMO because either way 'value items' do not leave the system easily anyway (see castranova's analysis of ultima online's open / closed economy).

There are however 2 quintessential truths to the matter:

1. By selling gold/items/characters for real money you are breaking the TOS / EULA of blizzard.
2. By selling gold/items/characters for real money you are selling the intellectual poroperty of Blizzard.

You can argue about number one. Company terms of services are hard reads, seldomly easy to interpret and very subjective when they actually do make it to court.

However number 2 is beyond argumentation even though most people do not understand it. Anything you work for in-game and everything you achieve doesn't become yours. You pay a certain fee a month to be able to use services blizzard provides for you. Your character, the items on your character and the gold you 'have' are in fact not actually yours but property of blizzard (as defined by intellectual property laws).
So if you are actively selling your stuff online you are in fact selling someone else's property which in fact is illegal and subject to litigation from blizzard's side.

That's it... that's all there is to say about the matter. I leave it up to you to make assumptions or imply things like if it were actually your property it'd be subject to taxation and so on and so forth.

The fact of the matter is that your 15$ a month buy you nothing except the right to use Blizzard's intellectual property on Blizzard's servers. Anyone presuming otherwise and claiming any form of ownership and the sales rights attached to such ownership is plain and simply wrong.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Do you reckon(ing)?

With the advent of my paladin (alt, although I dont subscribe to the term alt) I've been doing some of the arbitrary reading recommended for a protection paladin class and ran into multiple discussions about how reckoning procs can cause an increased amount of parries from a mob (usually a boss), resulting in the swift demize of the paladin.

Now I am no wizard in theorycraft and in general I like to fly by the seat of my pants and a spot of reading here and there but if it actually is a problem that reckoning procs cause increased amount of parries that turn into a so-called dreaded insta-gib then I ask the simple question: How do warriors tank anything then?

The questions arises purely from the vantage point of the amount of parryable attacks each class is capable off. Warriors have a ton of abilities that can be parried, paladins have practically none since most damage is through 'passive' return damage or magic, like exorcism, seals, consecrate and shield returned damage.

None of these outside the standard paladin melee (auto)attack can be parried.

So unless reckoning speeds up your attack well beyond the attack rate of a warrior there's no reason to believe that haste induced parry gibs are actually a significant problem (or at least more of a warrior issue than a paladin one).

Much like any parry though it can increase spike damage. The more you hit a mob the more you increase the chance the mob will parry and thus the more damage you can receive over a percievable timespan.

In the meantime even a parry can be blocked, and since paladins were made to block every blocked parry means extra damage to the enemy and more importantly extra threat.

So it stands to reason that reckoning is not a bad thing, perhaps slightly dangerous in straight up single boss fights, but much more useful when the targets are numerous which they generally are.

But reckoning at 5/5 is expensive so I did some more looking around to see how much you could actually scrape off of the talent without losing the bulk of its effect.

And voila a bit of digging on maintankadin and I was faced with a nice little graph that shows reckoning uptime depending on the amount of targets. Turns out that there is virtually no difference between 4/5 and 5/5 reckoning in terms of uptime and 3/5 is really close to what you could hope to achieve as well.

2/5 however shows a significantly lower uptime and of course 1/5 is abysmall (but arguably better than nothing).

See the graphs here.

Looking at the most common 4-8 target range you could say that with 3/5 reckoning it would be up 50% of the time and with 4/5 reckoning about 65% of the time and only marginally more with 5/5.

So there's definitely call for dropping at least 1 point out of reckoning and if you don't mind an approximate 10% loss of reckoning uptime for your average group of mobs then you can easily go 3/5.

A godsend for those of us who want to take reckoning but can't find the points anymore to pick it up.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Levelling the casual way

Well it's been a while since I made my last post but since I don't have any readers I think all of them will happily forgive the transgression.

Today we will kick of with what I would like to call a very very condensed levelling guide that will simply show the progression of zones as we slowly climb the level ladder.


The idea of casual levelling is to make decent progress in a short time but without having to constantly look for a group, do a lot of travelling or bite your teeth out on mobs that are too difficult for your level. The idea is to avoid complexity alltogether and as a result we will simply put forth 4 basic ideas to make our life as easy as possible:

1. We kill mobs that con green (i.e. are a certain amount of levels below you)
2. We skip instances, group quests and extensive fetch quests that send you all over the place
3. We download 1 addon and use it (Questhelper)
4. We have lots of bagspace

The above is almost self-explanatory. The idea is to only kill things that are substantially weaker than us because this will reduce the amount that we have to sit around and drink/eat and it will allow us to kill mobs faster which in turn means more loot and more xp.
We also don't want to be bogged down by group quests or instances. It's true that instances give better loot but the risk of failure is also substantially higher. Generally between waiting for an instance / group quest group to assemble and the increased risk of not making it past the first boss you end up wasting more time than you are winning with it (unless you can get a group the second you want one).
This is true until about lvl 60 after which you should definitely consider doing instances in outland as your gear becomes substantially more important than it is from 1 - 60.

The last 2 things you will need is a little addon called questhelper available from and other mod sites and a significant amount of bagspace. Questhelper is not perfect but it will display all current quest locations on your ingame map making travelling to the location you need to go to to complete the quest a piece of cake.
Bagspace on the other hand is crucial. The more bagspace you have the more you can stay out in the field. A very cost-efficient startup for bagspace is either mageweave bags or runecloth bags. Anything more than that is of course great but substantially more expensive. Runecloth and mageweave bags are relatively cheap and have the advantage that they can be sent to alts once you do get an upgrade. Most other bags are bind on equip making them untransferrable once you get an upgrade.

From 1-60 the only thing really worth buying are bags and banking slots to hold bags. Between that and your skills you will be spending a chunk of gold already and there's really no reason to buy anything from the AH in terms of gear because it will be outdated in mere levels.


Oh... this guide will be for horde only. Still starting from about level 20 most areas are accessible to both alliance and horde so even our dear mortal enemies might find some use in the setup below.

Levels 1-10

Stick to your starting areas, each starting area is well thought out and has enough quests to keep you levelling on a nice constant pace. Levels 1-10 will fly by very fast.

Zones in order of difficulty (where applicable):
Tirisfal Glades
Eversong Woods

Stick to these zones until mobs start conning green or you run out of quests that are easy to do.

Levels 11-19

Nothing special here, for horde the useable zones are somewhat far apart but remember that you can go from undercity to silvermoon via the teleporter in undercity.

Zones in order of difficulty:

Silverpine Forest
The Barrens

Once again try to stick to the zones until you're out of quests or mobs start conning gray. If you want to skip the barrens in order to preserve braincells you will be forgiven.

Levels 20-29

The barrens should still be usueable well into level 20.

Zones in order of difficulty

The Barrens
Stonetalon Mountans
Ashenvale Forest
Hilsbrad Foothills
Thousand Needles

Hilsbrad foothills and thousand needles will carry you over into the next level segment.

Levels 30-39

Nothing special here but start noting the order of the zones below since the ones at the end of the list will definitely be harder than the ones at the beginning. yes I did say sorted by difficulty :P

Zones in order of difficulty

Hilsbrad Foothills
Thousand Needles
Alterac Mountains
Arathi Highlands
Stranglethorn Vale
Swamp of sorrows
Dustwallow Marsh

Levels 40-49

Lots of overlap starting as early as stranglethorn vale.

Zones in order of difficulty

Stranglethorn Vale
Swamp of sorrows
Dustwallow Marsh
The Hinterlands
Searing Gorge
Blasted Lands

Levels 50-59

Once again a lot of overlap with previous zones.

Zones in order of difficulty

The Hinterlands
Searing Gorge
Blasted Lands
Un'goro crater
Western Plaguelands
Eastern Plaguelands
Burning steppes

Levels 55-65

Note the level overlap here from 55-65.

Eastern Plaguelands
Burning steppes
Deadwind Pass (not too much to do here)

The overall idea is to stick to a zone till you either run out of quests or mobs start going gray. If mobs are pre-dominantly yellow then go back one zone and see if you can finish off some more stuff there.

I have used this method for my latest pally and he's levelling very comfortably and gets to do all the pleasant and easy quests in almost every zone.

The level recommendations I have given above are a simple indication of what you should be to consider those zones. Adjust accordingly if you want to fight more greens or more yellows respectively but make sure you leave the zone when 1/3rd of your targets con gray.

I'll leave you to your own devices in outland since the levelling is fairly straight forward there. However if you can put off going to outland till you hit level 60 you will end up with more gold in the bank at the end of the line due to the fact that quests start giving gold at lvl 70.

Outland levelling is also different from the aspect that you should focus on gear and not on getting to 70 but opinions may vary on that so I simply refuse to comment on outland progression.