Friday, June 27, 2008

Blizzard Authenticator

I am sure this has been posted all over the blogosphere by now but since I haven't been able to do my regular rounds to see what people are posting about I present you with some generic Blizzard type news directly from the mouth of big blue:

Blizzard Authenticator

And there we have it: The blizzard Authenticator. Essentially a means to add a little weight to your keychain by giving you a little device that can spout out unique numbers used to authenticate your wow credentials.

Basically your wow account gets tied to the authenticator which generates a random number sequence every so often. This number sequence is also kept on a blizzard server. When you log in you type in your username and password and then provide the number on the Authenticator and voila... you can play wow.

The advantage is obviously that if your account gets hacked somehow the hacker will not have the code on the authenticator and as a result not be able to rob you and your guild half blind.

The authenticator will be available from the blizzard stores but I wouldn't be surprised if they start shipping it out with the next expansion or some form of battle chest in the future.

If you don't have a tendency to lose keys and generally don't spell doom for various USB devices and if you like the thought of a little extra securit then perhaps the authenticator is for you.

You can take it with you anywhere you want so there's no real restriction in using it other than that it might be a problem for people who share accounts regularly.

Overall this is a very sound approach to providing a little extra security for their customers and I am sure it will prove to be very succesful provided there are no hidden bugs.

The little buggar will cost 6.50$ and since euro / dollar conversion charts only apply to 'normal' people I am fairly certain it'll be 6.50 euros for europeans once it's made available.

I myself will most likely get one once they've been out for a while (avoiding the wave of potential start-up problems) since 6.50 isn't a large premium to safeguard a wow account that is worth at least 100 times that much (in purely sentimental value of course...).

Make of it what you will, I for one am very happy with blizzard taking security of their customer's account serious (that or they're just trying to cut customer support cost).

Monday, June 23, 2008

A gamer's Warning

I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I remember playing pacman when it was new. I remember playing games before the advent of windows 3.11 where you still had to painstackingly configure your bat files to use mouse and joystick and a commodore was state of the art. I remember playing pretty much anything I could lay my hands on and to a certain extend I still do.

Gaming is relaxing, can take you away from the daily hassles, put your mind at ease and even elevate you from the unknown number you are to some true E-fame.

Gaming will teach you teamwork, language skills, decrease your reaction time and will give you a healthier outlook on how to handle real life things.

But gaming _is_ addictive. There's no 2 ways about it. I remember spending months on end on dune (the first rts one not the rpg), I remember perfecting my master of orion game on hard mode over the course of years, I remember playing the final fantasy series for so long I could've played through the games with my monitor off.

Ironically gaming isn't the demon that people make it out to be. Gaming doesn't turn people into social degenerates (anonimity does) nor does it incite violence or other questionable behaviour (no moreso than the violence driven daily news at any rate) but a game can appeal to an addictive nature.

Gaming is an immersion drug. It doesn't kill braincells like alcohol or kill you outright like prolonged 'heavy' drug usage; but if done excessively it will swallow up all your time. And that's what sets it apart from other 'drugs'. It's a drug that gives you goals and lets you achieve them, it lets you 'be somebody' when you are not so much someone in real life.

Millions have been spent in researching the potential harmful effects of gaming and in all this not a single piece of evidence has been found that gaming is essentially bad for you. In fact research shows more and more that gamers are generally more driven to achieve specific goals and generally make better employees.

But the game can take the upper hand. If you're past a certain point in your addiction then it quickly turns into a lackluster approach to real-life obligations as long as you can finish goal x in-game. In-game items/ goals/ fame become overpowering to the point where 'real-life' seems trivial.

I can't even remember how many classes I missed due to gaming. I can't even remember when I chose homework over a game (any game) unless forced.

For a brief time I lost control completely, my grades slipped and to amplify the problem my in-game career sky-rocketed. With the time saved from doing irrelevant chores like homework, studying and showing up on time for lectures I was able to boost myself into virtual stardom.

Luckily somewhere around that point I became more interested in the game's mechanics and the math behind it. First from a pure desire to improve my game-character but gradually moreso because I was intrigued in what made games tick.

I slowly figured out how game mechanics worked. I became interested in game theory and was already on the path of a 'software developer' by making various mods/maps and whatnot for games.

The coin dropped... I realized that all games are created 'equal' on the basis of pre-defined mechanics and that once mechanics were understood games became trivially easy if not boring (due to lack of innovative techniques).

The challenge was no longer in beating the game but understanding what made the game tick. My addiction evolved into a greater understanding of software as a whole, evolved into an understanding that the game isn't there to be 'beat' but to be enjoyed. Built-in game mechanics are there to draw out your gaming experience and attempt to do this without sucking too much of your enjoyment.

In all this it is important to understand the limits of the game. You can play an open economy like wow forever as long as there are expansion packs but once you come to understand (conciously or subconciously) the game mechanics even an expansion will have precious little innovation (i.e. will not be more challenging than what was before).

Understand the limitations and ask yourself how much time the game is truly worth.

There will always be another game, but you can only ruin your grades once for them to have a lasting impact.

Don't let the game stand between you and real-life achievments, because in the end your real-life achievments will dictate the course of your life moreso than a game ever will.

I am a better software developer now than I would've been without gaming. I know more about networking protocolls, catering to large end-user bases, ui design, networking security implications and even economics than I would've known had I not been a gamer... but all this would've mean nothing had I not been able to get into my chosen profession because of shoddy grades.

In all this I know that while there's nothing wrong with gaming all day; bills still need to be paid, money needs to be made, grades need to be achieved, partners need to be kept happy and life's lessons need to be learned - Even if they sometimes have all the charm of wipe night on shade of aran.

Protection Paladin PVP - Part II

With my paladin now having dinged 70 I decided to toss myself into the AH and grab myself some gear to bring my defense rating into the 490 range. I am still not sure if it will carry significant benefit to boost DR for PVP over other stats like resilience + agility but at least I can savely do some 5-mans when I feel like it.

In the meantime I spent a few hours doing Eye of the Storm and AV in order to get some honor together for the PVP merciless gladiator weapon and shield which is bound to hit the honor vendors on wednesday night.

I am starved for stamina at the moment since all that extra defense rating came at the cost of about 1500 HP but there is something to be said for the extra dodge/parry/block rating.

A few matches in I decided to drop my green spell damage mace for something more substantial namely a main hand fish.

Ironically I couldn't really feel the difference between using a fish and an actual weapon so I spent most of the day slapping people across the face with a large smelly fish hoping they would get annoyed enough to start bashing my shield and taking some real damage.

And it went well... no... better... it went excellently. The protection paladin makes for an excellent protector of flag spots or anything else that needs defended. Those sneaky rogues that would rip my warlock apart in mere seconds now skewer themselves on my holy shield unable to do much damage if at all unless I am actually stunned.

Tunnel vision turned out to be my greatest ally. I could toss myself into a crowd of melee players and they would go crazy on me without taking into regard other people around me or as much as consider disengaging after they see I am practically taking no damage.

At some point I was holding the flag point in EotS against 2 warriors a rogue and an enhancement shaman (I think) and managed to tie them down long enough for reinforcements to arive.

Even in shoddy outland greens and blues the survivability of the protection paladin is amazing to the point where they dedicated a priest to mind control me and jump me into large gaping holes in the ground (although I suspect I am not the only victim of that deplorable tactic...).

The prot pally also seems to make an excellent flag runner. With temporary immunity to movement impairing effects blessing of freedom is great and those pesky arrows hunters shoot at me result in little more than a lovely block sound.

There's 2 significant problems with the protection paladin as is though.

1. Damage: You do appaling damage unless you funnel your reckoning charges into a cloth wearer and even then it's not amazing
2. Disengage: People do disengage once in a while (especially rogues) and there's almost nothing I can do about it.

I am thinking a few modifications on my paladin spec to include pursuit of justice and some heavy investigation in Engineering bombs and other goodies might be able to at least partially solve my problem. A rocket launcher, a net-o-matic, an oversized stack of frost grenades and fel iron bombs should give me some of the utility I need.

I wonder what else engineering has that could be useful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beyond Raiding and PVP

After following the blog roll (yes I link to blessing of kings and BoK links to everywhere else for me :P) and being confronted with a seemingly endless discussion on various blogs about why you need to enchant and gem your gear or 'please transfer off of the server noob' I started to wonder a little.

I've gotten my share of whispers commenting on my enchants and my gem choice as well as 'lol what's with the green pants' and frankly I am a bit confused.

What prompts people to comment on your gear out of the blue? They don't know what you do in WoW. They merely assume you either raid or you pvp and that you're serious in either direction. And of course... if you are serious in either direction that enchanting / gemming your gear will help you towards your goals.

On top of that if you're serious in PVE you get laughed out of even 'casual' PVP and PVP geared people are very rarely welcome in PVE instances (at least that seems to be the general behaviour I see).

I've always been a 'freeform' player. I enjoy the ability to solo things as much as I enjoy the grouping aspect. I enjoy PVP and PVE but can also regularly be spotted sitting at a remote pool just fishing or flinging myself off of a mountain repeatedly for that 1 nice to have screenshot.

I am never going to hold a 2000 arena rating nor will I ever be invited to raid sunwell with the T6 guilds and my gear reflects this. It is not uncommon to see me walking around in PVP gear that is gemmed for PVE or vice versa. I take from both worlds what I can because I am not on a specific path of progression but need to be viable in solo, multiplayer and pvp alike.

People have become so pidgeonholed in their end-game specific class / spec / aoproach that they exclude more flexible freeform choices as viable options.

Have people really become so narrow minded that they exclude any possibility of gameplay beyond end-game raiding and pvp?

How satisfying is end-game raiding really? Do you enjoy the challenge of teaming up and taking down a boss? Of course you do... but after the 20th run on the same boss the challenge is gone, you may still have some fun but you're there for the gear.

Freeform is finding the fun without chasing after the gear. Gear is a means to an end, a thing you may need to do what you want but not something that should dictate your game.

Your gear will become invalidated with every expansion. I for one don't want to look back at 200 Karazhan runs and decide I did it for the gear. If you can run Kara 200 times for fun, then by all means do. If you're just doing it for gear then you're on the path that blizzard laid out for you and you should curse your lack of creativity.

Come WotLK your brutal gladiator set and your T6 epics will be for looks only (and they're not all that pretty)... but the ability to polymorph something into a turtle will still be priceless and that sporregar tabard will still be one niftiest tabards around.

By all means, claw your way to 70, burn through the instances you want to do and then look back... because there is a world beyond Raiding and PvP.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2.4.3 patch notes

I wouldn't be a good blogger if I didn't regurgitate everything everyone else has already said so...

Behold the patch notes for 2.4.3 with some very very interesting changes.

I'd repeat them all here but instead I refer you to mmo-champion for a pre-formatted list:

Patch Notes 2.4.3

I'll let you draw your own conclusions from the patch notes as usual. If you're not in the habit of reading patch notes then take from me the knowledge that your standard mount will be available at level 30 when the patch goes live.

An interesting read I'd say.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bring your B-Game

Raiding is an interesting animal within the burning crusade. Unless you outgear content so significantly that it becomes trivial it has been said that every person in the raid needs to bring their A-game for a lot of encounters (sunwell probably being the case to point).

To a certain extend this makes sense. If you're in a bid to save the world you need your 40 or 25 or even 10 people to be the best they can be in order to defeat a high level boss and if they're not. You fail.

You don't want every fruitloop group that comes along to be able to kill illidan, magtherion or kael'thas because that would be game breaking to those who invest a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears into the game and would invalidate content at a pace too fast for development to keep up.

But the requirement to bring your A-game has some very disturbing consequences: They don't take into account personal emergencies, illness or untimely disconnects.

If your entire raid is dependant on everyone bringing their A-game then someone disconnecting will more often than not result in the entire raid wiping and a personal emergency can spell doom to a good night of raiding.

This puts more pressure on the rest of the raid who all of a sudden will have to bring an A+ game to the table to make up for the difference.

But other than those immediate consequences of wiping a raid there are also a lot of 'unexpected' side-effects. If you need to field an entire raid with players that can hold their own then all of a sudden you're looking at stringent requirements in terms of gear, time availability and even skill in order to have a good shot at progress.

This means that the friends of the guild, the somewhat less skilled, the undergeared and people with lower reaction times will either have to be trained and geared or sidelined for the raid.

This in turn puts pressure on the guild to gear and train people to a level where they can participate in raids.

Strap these training requirements to usually hefty raid loads (it's not uncommon for guilds to raid every day) and farming requirements for consumables and you end up with a very volatile situation.

A situation where long-term raiders are prone to burnout. Very few long-term raiders have the patience and the thick skin to go farming and gearing up lower geared players each and every day without them seeing any return in their investment. They could be training someone who is never going to be able to bring their A-game, they could be gearing someone only to see them wander off once they're in T5+, they could be bringing people to progression raids that simply are too unexperienced and as a result prevent progress.

What inevitably follows is burnout, leaving an even greater gap of gear and skill to fill in for your guild thus resulting in more pressure on everyone else.

A game mechanic that requires a set group of people to always bring their A-game is a mechanic that is prone to failure. If you cannot make up for random disconnects or personal emergencies without failing a raid then there's something inherently wrong with the mechanic. This in the long run will simply result in less people willing to deal with the mechanic.

There needs to be room for mistakes. Not necessarily a lot of room. But an instance should only require a B-Game so that if things go pear shaped the people that did bring their A-game will truly shine.

Until that is the case (again) you might well be excluded from end-game content merely on the basis of a bad internet connection...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Season 4

The news has been sticking in the back of my head for a while now but didn't make it to the blog yet. So for those who try not to troll any WoW news sources other than my blog (kudos to that btw):

Season 4 will be upon us probably on the 24th of this month.

You keep your arena / honor points and merciless gladiator gear will go to the honor vendors.

So it's probably a good time to go grab that extra stack of honor / arena points so you can buy yourself some spiffy goodies...

Or not and enjoy the relative quiet of other places like myself.

Hardcore vs Casual vs real metrics

Hardcore vs casual has been a debate that has been around so long it's suspected of even pre-dating the advent of common sense.

With so many people calling themselves hardcore this or casual that it's almost impossible to find a spot for oneself because the hardcores and the casuals have 1 thing in common: They're both.

They're not hardcore, they're not casual because neither of these terms actually have a definition. If you spend 72 hours playing WoW in one stretch some people would consider that pretty hardcore, others note that you haven't been playing for 3 years and dismiss it as pretty casual. Another group will point out that you can play as much as you want and if you don't get into the theorycraft / math behind it you will never be hardcore. Others again will dismiss all your achievments as casual because you haven't killed illidan yet or haven't gotten your chunkogear of azzinoth.

And that's exactly where the problem comes in. Hardcore and casual are terms that mean very different things to very different people.

In fact the terms have become so frayed over the years ( I remember times where hardcore simply meant you could only die once ) that they add no informative value to anything anymore. And it shows... if you decided to join a casual guild in WoW as it is you could end up in a guild for levelling alts but you could also find yourself strapped to a mandatory sentence of 4 raids a week with 100% attendance requirements.

If we really want to qualify and quantify guilds we would be better off using things like skill and time to measure what guilds are suitable to us.

Time dictates everything. If you can play for 2 hours every night then that is the time you have. You already know you're not going to be doing large 25+ man raids because they simply take longer than 2 hours. You could potentially join a Kara raiding guild provided they have a modicum of: skill.
Skill dictates what you can do. There's limits to what we can do. Some of us excel in healing, some of us are high quality tanks and some of us are huntards (with all due respect to skilled hunters out there).

So on one end of the spectrum you have people with lots of time and incredible skills and on the very other end of the spectrum you have the unskilled that couldn't play more than an hour or two a day anyway. Between that you can find anyone from unskilled with lots of time, to skilled with no time and moderately skilled with lots of time and so on and so forth.

And this is where the comparison between hardcore and casual falls short because it fails to see that the metric can only be a metric if it's tied to either skill or time.

As long as people see hardcore and casual to be both a measure of time AND skill it's completely unuseable as a metric and we're basically just bashing each other over the head with things that don't mean the same thing to everybody.

Using terminology on a large scale basis that doesn't mean the same thing to everybody involved is akin to religious and political debates. If I call you a smart aleck you either know what it means or you can look it up. If I call you hardcore you can look it up but you still won't know what I meant.

You can find a quizz for every metric in the world. You can find a quizz that tells you what religion is most suitable for you. You can do a quizz that tells you what friends character you would be but you can't find a quizz that tells you whether you're hardcore or casual because there is no definition for either.

So next time someone tells you they're hardcore point out that you're way more hardcore because you read my blog (not recommended on pvp servers).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When is enough?

I've been looking at the gear on my warlock lately and whilst it is far from impressive (a batch of kara purples mixed with some pvp purples and a dabbling of blues/greens) I wonder sometimes if it's not enough as it is.

Sure if you're heavily invested in raiding and really have a hunger for the 10s, 25s and 40 mans out there there is a significant need to keep upgrading your equipment (so they say).

But how much of that really applies to the casual player? Do we even have time for larger raids? I for one struggled enough with cleaning my schedule up enough to squeeze in the occasional 4hour raid and attempting to do this more than twice a week was generally met by a storm of dissaproval from my better half.

What justification could I possibly have spending hours on end grinding things like badges for gear upgrades that already mean very little to me? Sure it would be nice to pick up a few top-shelf badge items but in the end I am not playing for gear I am playing for fun. The fun of summoning people 2000 yards under the ocean or having a good laugh at one of the millions of easter-eggs hidden in the game.

I am not on a 10,25,40 man progression path (not anymore anyway). I can already hold my own in (heroic) 5-mans and my lock is always welcome in a mechanar forey. So in essence one could argue that my gear is 'enough' for what I am doing.

I think at some point we simply have to ask ourselves the question: Do I want to keep gearing up a character even if it brings little to no return or do I at some point decide to jump off the gearing train and find something else to do?

Our gear 'will' become outdated... so are we just gearing up for the sake of gearing up?

I took my pally through RFC a few times the other day. I didn't get any decent gear but I had more fun doing it than I ever had doing a 5man.
The closer I get to 70 and gear that I'd consider 'enough' the more interest I develop for doing things like running Azerothian instances and doing some mild world pvp in the various zones like silithus.

We'll all be sporting WotLK greens soon enough and we'll have nothing to show for our efforts except the questionable honor of having done Kara, ZA, SSC etc. before it could be 2 manned.

When is enough?

smelting through stupidity

In a bid to get my paladin ready for some form of Battleground PVP I decided to drop my mining for engineering (for utility's sake). I could've dropped my blacksmithing but I remember how much effort it was to getting it to where it is now (360) and just couldn't get myself to drop the skill despite it being almost completely worthless (lets hope WotLK shows blacksmithing some love).

So to get myself set up I spent most of the day mining various resources I would need to get engineering levelled. Turns out I can really recommend the various hives in silithus for a spot of thorium mining (moreso than round-tripping ungoro crater anyway). At level 67 the bugs hardly aggro anymore so it's rather smooth sailing.

Having gathered and stashed all the needed ores in my bank I ran to the nearest trainer, ditched my mining and started the engineering levelling grind...

Which lasted right up until I figured out that it would've been smart to smelt all the ore before dropping mining that is. *Sigh* /kickself

Being stuck with all the resources I needed and no way to process them I figured I'd equip my lowly lvl 26 rogue with some mining powers and check how far I could get these days on smelting alone.

Apparantly in one of the last patches they fudged with the smelting aspect of mining and I am quite happy to say that despite me having to buy an ungodly amount of iron ore (due to not having mined it) I was able to boost my rogue's mining right into the mithril range (175+) by smelting alone.

There's too large a gap between mithril and thorium so I don't expect to be able to smelt my way through that but with a little luck and lots of mithril I should be able to break 200 which only puts me 50 points away from being able to smelt thorium... again.

That's significant because it means you could break 200 in mining simply by working the AH for raw materials and thus skipping loads of travelling whilst training mining.
You could argue that buying it all from the AH is prohibitively expensive but up till thorium that is simply not the case. With my lvl 70 sugarlock easily able to grind out 100+ gold in an evening the only real cost translates right back into time.

So I am quietly hopeful I'll be able to sneak my way back up to thorium without too much work. After that I'll be stuck simply because my rogue is too low in level to be able to do anything with fel iron.

Looks like I'll have to call on one of the few wayward 'friends' I have on the server to see if I can effectuate some smelting services... that or I'll camp the AH and buy felsteel bars and sell off fel iron ore.

On the bright side of things my rogue will probably have no problems hitting 300 mining before outland. I am sure that's worth something.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Protection Paladin PVP

Having spent the greater part of the weekend trying to level up my protection paladin (whose now happily sitting at lvl 67) I started to think a little about the future of the character.

Initially the idea had been to raise a fully fledged protection paladin that would eventually see the inside of 10-mans and 25-mans alike as a tank / off-tank. However being guildless, with wrath looming in the distance and me having a tendency to play things solo for the most part anyway this goal seems further away now than it ever has.

Refreshing holy shield every 10 seconds while you're standing in between 15 mobs really gives you time to think on a protection paladin. I didn't want to give up the awesomeness that is pally aoe (I have to quest after all), I didn't want to respec ret (I rather like to think that that's more of a warrior thing) and I am no fan of canned healing (receiving it yes but handing it out not so much).

So that left me a in a bit of a pickle. I could do the usual route of 5-mans but the thought of pugging things isn't really appealing for the 'chance' of a drop.

To break the rut of grinding / questing I decided to toss myself into a few battlegrounds and almost immediately noticed that I could occupy quite a few enemies (especially with a healer in tow) without too much trouble.
Granted, I didn't kill anything. But consecrating everything, throwing my shield at everything and doing the occasional spot of self / off-healing meant that even with my crappy outland green/blue gear I was able to fend off more than I expected.

Occupying 3+ people in a WSG turned out to be a huge benefit. Our manouverability increased ten-fold. Unwanted targets were simply dropped off in my range and at some point I even got some backup and we were literally dominating the center field.

It was right there and then that I decided that a protection paladin was indeed viable for PVP. Not from a generic 'must do max damage' perspective but from a tactical perspective.

A protection paladin should do in a BG what a protection paladin does in PVP. Generate as much threat as possible on as many enemies as possible and keep the damage away from those who can't take it.

I may never see the top of any meter with a PVP protection paladin but with a little effort, the right gear choice I can make the first step of turning the unorganized rabble that is the horde into a proper standing army (or at least look spiffy whilst I am standing next to my battle standard).

This may just be the start of a journey into protection PVP.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fishing Gold

Nearing the end of my questionable career in monstrous regiment (guild) I had picked up fishing and trained cooking in tandem (something that is easily done although does result in a bit of travel around the world).

I am not going to recommend any specific guides to train fishing and cooking at the same time since there are a ton out there and I really just fudged around with it myself till it was what it is now.
Google it if you're interested I am sure you will find a ton of advice.

The big question however for me was always: Why should I pick up fishing and cooking in the first place?

The answer is obvious if you're heavily invested into raiding. Stacks of buff-foods can cost a pretty penny and if you're going raiding more than once a week you're actually burning gold purely on consumables which you are not likely to get back during your raids.

You could opt to raid without consumables but a lot of guilds will frown upon this practice.

But what if I don't raid?

Then you are most likely in the position I am in now. Guildless, doing 5-mans and generally having a good time levelling some alts. Buff foods can be helpful sometimes but they're not needed and definitely not worth buying.

So why fish? Well, fishing is pure gold. At lower levels firefin snappers and oily blackmouth as well as stonescale eels and deviate fish are in decent demand with alchemists and crazy people. At higher levels you can practically turn any fish into some useful buff food which will sell for quite some gold on the auction house.

With profits ranging from 5g for 5 deviate delights to 30g for a stack of fisherman's feast it turns out that there are very little things you can fish up that are worthless.

All the extra things you fish up out of pools of fish like crates, 'junk' and motes of water are generally gravy and can usually also be sold for a decent profit (even junk seems to be valued quite high).

In terms of value for money it is very much possible to get the same, if not more money from straight up fishing than you can get doing dailies because you can just stand and fish rather than having to whizz all over the place to get dailies done.

Combining dailies and fishing is without a doubt a good idea and can generally be combined fairly well (considering the fishing and cooking dailies send you places where other dailies can be done).

All in all it's good not to underestimate fishing as a source of income and the time invested is usually not as big an issue as people make it out to be simply because you make money as you train.

In wow, fishing truly is catching and there is no cost involved.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The end of TBC is near

I am sure even the most wow-news unconcious amongst us know it. They feel it in the air. With the extensive buzz over the leaked alpha trees for Wrath of the Lich king, more and more info coming out of big blue's corner and the first trailers flooding in of what's to come it has become fairly obvious:

The end of TBC is in sight.

Leaked financial statements indicate that the whole thing will probably hit the shelves at the end of this year, possibly the beginning of the next.

The expansion will undoubtedly bring a whole new set of crafting recipes, skills, new talents, new lands and even a new class. What it will also bring is a great equalizer for gear.

With the advent of TBC the old lands were lost, the old item sets became useless and only those decked out in top of the line azerothian epics could compete with the flood of new 'ueber-greens'.

Wrath of the Lich king will be no different. Big blue has always strived to give their players and equal playing field and WotLK will be no different.

Realistically that means if you have any intention of still playing wow next year (you addict!) then gear goals should become less and less important to you.

What will be important is currency of all shapes and flavors. Honor, Arena points, Badges, trade goods like ores and similar.

With the crafting skills being extended and the continual whining over how bad they really are most crafting skills will most likely be getting a little love and levelling beyond 375 will be an expensive and resource intensive task.

Items even epics will become worthless beyond their disenchant value and the market for trade goods of higher qualities will most likely inflate like crazy.

Now is the time to ask yourself the question... what do I want to do in WotLK and is what I am doing right now in any way shape or form useful for when the expansion hits?

Monday, June 2, 2008

On Statistics

I was digging through the older posts from wowinsider the other day and ran across this little gem here.

Basically it is a short overview of different stats and who can / can't use them. The list isn't perfect but I certainly think it's worth a glance over whenever you roll a new alt or are just starting off your career in wow.

I wish I had found this list when I started...

All credit goes to Elizabeth Harper over at, the poor formatting is mine however.

Agility (AGI): Increases ranged and melee attack power (for some classes), increases armor rating, increases dodge chance, increases your chance to score a critical strike with a weapon.

Warriors, Hunters, and Rogues gain 1 ranged attack power per agility.
Hunters, Rogues, and Druids in cat form (yes, only cat form) gain 1 melee attack power per agility.
Attack power increases your damage per second (DPS) by 1 for every 14 attack power.

So who's agility important for?

Hunters: Agility gives you more ranged attack power and critical rating which means more damage. At later levels, you may find gear with straight out attack power and critical rating to be more attractive.

Rogues: Agility is one (of two -- the other being strength) sources of melee attack power for rogues. However, agility also increases critical rating and dodge chance -- the former important for damage and the second for defense.

Druids (cat): Because agility only benefits attack power for cat druids, you might consider strength as an alternative, since it provides attack power in both cat and bear form. However, it doesn't provide the critical rating, armor, or dodge. Cat-form Druids with the Improved Leader of the Pack talent (which heals the Druid whenever the Druid scores a critical strike) will likely be more interested in the boost to crit agility provides.

Warriors: Agility doesn't improve their melee attack power at all, though it will improve their critical rating. However, its defensive aspects are worthwhile -- increased armor and dodge are both good choices for tanking Warriors... but agility gives so little of these things per point that low-level tanks are likely to find more value in straight out stamina while higher level tanks are likely to be more interested in specialized stats like defense, dodge, resilience, etc. (More on those later!)

Paladins: Agility has the same defensive improvements for Paladins as it does for Warriors.
Shamans (enhancement): This may not improve their attack power, but it still improves their chance to score a critical strike. With Flurry (increasing attack speed after a crit) and Unleashed Rage (increasing your party's attack power after a crit) strike, so agility can be key to certain build types -- though at higher levels, you're likely to find gear with straight-out critical rating to be more useful.

Intellect (INT): Increases your mana, increases your chance to score a critical strike with spells, and improves the rate at which you learn weapon skills. For Warlocks it will also increase their pets' intellect (and therefore their pets' mana).

For each point of intellect you have, you gain 15 mana.
The amount of spell critical strike received per point of intellect varies per class and per level. (Though we don't have exact numbers for other levels, expect less intellect to give you more spell crit in the lower levels.)

At level 60...
Warlocks receive 1% spell crit for each 60.6 points of intellect.

Druids receive 1% spell crit for each 60 points of intellect.

Shamans receive 1% spell crit for each 59.5 points of intellect.

Mages receive 1% spell crit for each 59.5 points of intellect.

Priests receive 1% spell crit for each 59.2 points of intellect.

Paladins receive 1% spell crit for each 54 points of intellect.
At level 70...
Warlocks receive 1% spell crit for each 81.92 points of intellect.
Druids, Shamans, Mages, Priests, and Paladins receive 1% spell crit for each 80 points of intellect.
As you might guess from these figures, with the amount of intellect needed to get a single point of spell crit, you'll often find it easier to improve your critical percentage with crit rating gear rather than massive amounts of intellect, especially at level 70.
Several classes can increase their spell damage by a percentage of their intellect, with the appropriate talent selections.
At tier 8 in the Arcane tree, Mages can acquire Mind Mastery, which (for five talent points) increases their spell damage and healing by up to 25% of their intellect.
At tier 8 in the Holy tree, Paladins can acquire Holy Guidance, which (for five talent points) increases their spell damage and healing by up to 35% of their intellect.
At tier 8 in the Restoration tree, Shamans can acquire Nature's Blessing, which (for three talent points) increases their spell damage and healing by up to 30% of their intellect.
At tier 5 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Lunar Guidance, which (for three talent points) increases their spell damage and healing by up to 25% of their intellect.
At tier 3 in the Arcane tree, Mages can acquire Arcane Fortitude, which (for one talent point) increases their armor by 50% of their intellect.
At tier 5 in the Elemental tree, Shamans can acquire Unrelenting Storm, which (for five talent points) allows them to regenerate mana equal to 10% of their total intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting. (Read: under the five second rule. See the spirit section for more information on mana regeneration and the five second rule!)
At tier 7 in the Balance tree, Druids can acquire Dreamstate, which (for three talent points) allows them to regenerate mana equal to 10% of their total intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting. (Read: under the five second rule.)
At tier 7 in the Marksmanship tree, Hunters can acquire Careful Aim, which (for three talent points) increases their attack power by 45% of their intellect. (Meaning that each point of intellect also gives the Hunter about half a point of attack power.)
So who's intellect important for?

All casters: Since intellect controls the amount of mana you have, it's important for anyone with a mana bar. For soloing and grouping, you need a big enough mana pool to allow you to continue doing damage (or healing) through an average fight. (After all, mana potions are expensive.) If you find yourself running out of mana mid-fight or stopping to drink between every fight, you may want to consider looking into more intellect gear.
Healers: If you're interested in healing groups, I personally advise weighing intellect fairly heavily up to level 60 or so (when you'll start having easy access to +healing, MP5, and other handy stats). Having a large mana pool will allow you to keep healing through bad pulls or numerous adds, which can occasionally mean the difference between life and death for the party.

Stamina (STA): This one's easy -- your health! For Hunters and Warlocks it will also increase their pets' stamina (and therefore, their pets' health).

For each point of stamina you have, you gain ten hit points.
If you're a tauren, you get 10.5 hit points for each point of stamina.
So who's stamina important for?

Everyone: If you ever get hit by monsters in your adventures throughout Azeroth, stamina will help you out by delaying your inevitable demise. (However, certain classes may favor the "glass cannon" approach to adventuring, in which case health and survivability is less important than dishing out damage and killing the target before it can kill them.)

Hunters & Warlocks: May find stamina more useful than other classes do for the improvement it gives their pets.
Warlocks: Their Life Tap ability turns health into mana (the base spell gives an even return of mana for health, but with two talent points in Improved Life Tap, they'll get more mana for less health). Because they can make this exchange so easily and regenerate their own health with skills like Drain Life and Death Coil, Warlocks will often favor stamina over intellect.
Tanks: Tanking Druids, Warriors, and Paladins will all find that a certain level of stamina is absolutely essential to tanking instances. Healers can only cast heals so quickly, and you're going to need to survive taking hits between those heals. (The exact amount of health needed varies depending on instance -- you'll get a feel for the more you play.)
Spirit (SPI): Increases health regeneration while out of combat and increases mana regeneration while not casting spells. We're primarily going to discuss it for mana regeneration, since there are easy ways to regenerate health out of combat (food, bandages), but few ways to regenerate mana in combat.

Mana begins regenerating via spirit only when you have not cast any spell using mana during the previous 5 seconds. (This is generally referred to as the "five second rule.")
If you haven't cast a spell in the past five seconds, your mana will begin regenerating every two seconds (or every "tick"). The amount regenerated varies based on your class:
Druid (caster): Spirit/4.5 + 15

Druid (feral), Hunter, Paladin, Warlock: Spirit/5 + 15
Mage, Priest: Spirit/4 + 12.5
Shaman: Spirit/5 + 17
Several classes have talents or abilities that allow spirit to improve their mana regeneration while in the five second rule.

At tier 3 in the Restoration tree, Druids can acquire Intensity, which (for three talent points) allows 15% of their mana regeneration to continue while under the five second rule.
At tier 4 in the Arcane tree, Mages can acquire Arcane Meditation, which (for three talent points) allows 15% of their mana regeneration to continue while under the five second rule.
At tier 3 in the Discipline tree, Priests can acquire Meditation, which (for three talent points), allows 15% of their mana regeneration to continue while under the five second rule.
Mages' Mage Armor buff (first available at level 34) allows 30% of their mana regeneration to continue while under the five second rule.
Several classes have talents that allow spirit to improve their spell damage or healing:
At tier 5 in the Holy tree, Priests can acquire Spiritual Guidance, which (for five talent points) increases their spell damage and healing by up to 25% of their total spirit.

At tier 5 in the Discipline tree, Priests can acquire Improved Divine Spirit, which (for two talent points) increases the spell damage and healing of players with the Divine Spirit buff by 10% of their total spirit.
At tier 9 in the Restoration tree, Druids can acquire Tree of Life Form, which (for one talent point) increases healing received by party members within range of the Druid by 25% of the Druid's total spirit.
A couple of spells will vastly increase your normal mana regeneration (read: mana regeneration from spirit) for a brief period of time:
Starting at level 40, Druids have access to Innervate, which will increase the target's mana regeneration by 400% (casting or not casting -- Innervate causes your mana regeneration to disregard the five second rule) for 20 seconds (on a 6 minute cooldown).

Starting at level 20, Mages have access to Evocation, which will increase the Mage's mana regeneration by 1500% for 8 seconds (on an 8 minute cooldown).
So who's spirit important for?

Everyone: In general, spirit's impact on both health and mana regeneration or so minor, that it's not a terribly important stat for anyone. In fact, even Blizzard seems to have caught on to this idea, so you'll usually find poor spirit itemization on better (blue and up) gear. For classes relying on mana, you'll often find MP5 gear to be a better way to regenerate mana over the course of a fight. Depending on how you cast -- for DPS casters who chain-cast spells, MP5 will always provide better mana regeneration than spirit. But for healers who may have breaks between casting, spirit can be a good option. Obviously, if you're a class with a talent that increases your mana regeneration during the five second rule, spirit is of more use, but how useful it is still depends on how much time you spend in and out of the five second rule.
Healers: The usefulness of spirit to a healer depends heavily on casting style. If, while healing your group, you cast spells in spurts and then have several seconds of waiting before you act again, spirit can be a useful way to regenerate mana. (If you take this tactic, I advise finding yourself a high-spirit staff enchanted with +20 spirit to equip during your downtime -- since you can swap weapons during combat. Trust me, it makes a difference!)

Anyone who might be Innervavted: In raids and groups, Innervates are often saved for the healers. In this situation, spirit will play a large role in how much mana you get back. If you see that you've just been Innervated, equip your spirit staff (you have one, right? With a +20 spirit enchant?) and keep casting -- Innervate causes your mana regeneration to ignore the five second rule.
Druids (caster): For a druid speccing in Restoration down to Tree of Life Form, spirit could be a reasonable investment to improve their healing, though at higher levels, +healing gear will likely be easier to obtain

Priests: With Spiritual Guidance and Improved Divine Spirit, you'll find spirit a decent addition to your spell damage and healing. The only problem is finding enough high-spirit items to work these talents to their max.
Mages: Spirit is what makes Evocation and Mage Armor do their thing for your mana regeneration -- so you will find some investment in spirit to be worthwhile. At the very least, look for a high spirit staff to put a +20 spirit enchant on to swap in when you use Evocation!
Strength (STR): Increases your melee attack power and the amount of damage you can block with a shield.

Warriors, Shamans, Druids, and Paladins gain 2 melee attack power per strength.
Rogues, Hunters, Mages, Priests, and Warlocks gain 1 melee attack power per strength.
Remember, attack power increases your damage per second (DPS) by 1 point for every 14 attack power.
At tier 6 in the Feral tree, Druids can acquire Nurturing Instinct, which (for two talent points) improves their +healing by 50% of their strength.
So who's strength important for?

Warriors: This is a warriors' source of attack power -- and, thusly, damage. Arguably the most important stat for a DPS warrior, but also a reasonable stat for Protection spec warriors, as more damage will give them more threat and the additional damage mitigation with your shield doesn't hurt, either.

Shamans: This is where the melee-powerhouse Enhancement Shaman gets their attack power and a good portion of their damage.

Druids (feral): Strength is my stat of choice for feral druids, simply because it works for druids in both bear and cat form which means one less set of gear to carry around. You lose out on extra dodge and critical strike chance by choosing Strength over Agility, but you gain more attack power overall -- and for both forms! Also, for feral Druids playing a hybrid role, with Nurturing Instinct, strength also improves your healing abilities -- meaning that when you shift out of your feral form to cast an emergency heal, your feral strength gear still helps you out.

Rogues: Rogues get just as much attack power from strength as they do from agility, so I'd advise favoring agility for the dodge and critical strike chance.

Paladins: This is the Paladin's only source of attack power, so it's important for Retribution Paladins (to improve their DPS) and Protection Paladins (to improve their DPS and thus their threat as well as increasing their shield's damage mitigation potential). However, at higher levels, Paladins (of all types) are likely to find spell damage gear to be a more effective way to improve their damage output, as so much of their overall damage output is done with Seals, Judgements, and other spells doing holy damage.