Monday, September 28, 2009

The little rogue that could

It was one of those days, one of those days I had specifically set aside to level a lowbie because I had been wasting my days in various PVP battle grounds pretending to be a raid leader and providing the crowd with intelligent sounding but, most likely, wrong tactical advice.

At any rate I was happily marching my priest out of undercity to catch a blimp to some obscure place or the other when a strange object caught my eye.
There, only a yard or 10 outside of the undercity gate sat a bunny. The obnoxiously fluffy kind that's just asking to be turned into kibble.

I started winding up my mindblast only to cancel it halfway wondering why the little bunny had an alliance tagging which would result in me being instantly pvp flagged. What's the harm I wondered for a moment, after all I wasn't even 10 yards outside of a city filled with enough horde to field a mid-sized army.

Being the defensive player that I am I decided against turning that bunny into a light afternoon snack, moved a bit off the road and sat down and waited...

I didn't have to wait long before a fellow member of the horde galloped out of the gates and without any thought dismounted and gave the bunny a good whack before I even managed to utter the words: 'possibly not the smartest idea'.
Not a second later the hordie that had decommisioned the bunny lay on the floor, quite dead, possibly quite confused about what happened and I saw a well dressed rogue (mostly furious gear) sprint off and fade into the darkness.

A few minutes later he clearly had decided to return as he unstealthed, dropped a new bunny decoy and vanished right before my very eyes.

I suppose at this point I could've gotten a high level alt, perhaps a prot paladin to dispatch the rogue... or even just stand around and warn fellow horde about their impending demise but I felt a strange attachment to the rogue. After all, how much more rogue can you get than that? Sneaking deep into enemy territory, armed with a set of decoys and then slaughtering anyone stupid enough to get pvp flagged by killing the decoy?

You have to admire that kind of dedication in some way shape or form. By the time I was done thinking about what to do about the situation the rogue had dispatched 2 more horde members and the horde had fielded a small team of level 80 characters that was combing the area with heavy aoe.

I saluted quietly into the emptiness and secretly wished the rogue all the best in his future adventures before logging out. And after I had logged back in on my warlock I had a good chuckle at myself for wishing a rogue well as a clothie after wishing doom on them since... well forever.

Doing creative things, no matter how sick or demented they may be is worth something and I thank the little rogue that could for displaying that tiny little bit of 'out of the box' thinking that should serve to inspire us all.

After all, when is the last time you did anything out of the ordinary?

Can one (wo)man change the world?

WoW servers in general make for very interesting social structures, there's a great many people on a real and only a few seem to stand out.

Whether it is the griever constantly spamming the trade chat with lines that summarize a whole world of stupid in one go, the guy who has been selling and buying wares for so long he's practically part of trade or the illustrious leader of some obscure high-end raiding guild that is just known because his guild happens to be 'the most progressed'.

Despite the few good shining examples of people that deserve to stand out due to actually having achieved something (as far as one can achieve anything while playing a game anyway) there always seems to be a negative connotation to the World of warcraft.
Whether it is the person calling the guy with a question a 'stupid nub' or just some guy with 5th grade spelling making a terrible attempt at correcting someone's 3rd grade spelling in a very unfriendly way.
Or perhaps it's the guy who comes in and mines your node after you've painstackingly cleared out all the mobs only to proceed to tag your named mob kill on a 15 min respawn timer before you can close into combat range after having sat there for 15 minutes because some jackass stole your mob rather than grouping up for the kill.

The problem with things we percieve as negative is that negative things are substantially easier to remember than acts of random kindness. A strong emotional response helps to commit things to memory and negative impact generates a stronger emotional response.

That isn't to say nothing good ever happens. Getting your rear-end saved by some druid who was just flying by seeing you struggle with an elite or getting fully buffed in while you're just standing in a battleground guarding a flag does happen but in the end it seemed like those were a few solid rocks in a sea filled with grief.

At some point I grew tired of all the nonsense. The endless e-peening, the random insults about spec, gear, arena points, missing achievements, dps averages, the pointless trade spam and the generally grievous behaviour: I disconnected. I left trade, I made my own guild with people I appreciate and I simply stopped associating myself with most people that couldn't produce a legible english sentence (or a dutch or a german one, I am not that picky after all).

I wondered where all the good people had gone whilst I enjoyed my stay in my jade palace knowing full well what happened with all the good people. They had done exactly the same. They had disconnected themselves from most things they didn't like, they learned not to get involved or ignore them and went on their own merry way leaving the world to fester associating only with their own guild or even just a sub-group in their own guild.

I decided to make a change, the disconnect wasn't doing anything to make life anything more tolerable. I decided to answer the simple questions that come by in trade, to toss out a few dozen buffs every now in then as some form of good will and even started actively helping people without going particularly out of my way. For the first time since I started playing I joined /help, granted, the channel was empty, but if anyone had any questions that required help at least now there was someone available in /help.

Can one person change the course of a realm? I don't know. Perhaps I am too idealistic to say no, dreaming of a world where we can more or less get along without stabbing each other in the back.
I am not asking for some kind of utopia where it's all love, fluffy bunnies and hugging trees but a realm where when push comes to shove you can feel like you can trust your fellow faction member, where you can lock ranks and fight side by side to fight a common enemy without having to wonder what bastard is going to roll need on something they can't use anyway or how you'll be left in the dirt because someone so an opportunity to earn x gold/honor/marks/emblems instead of helping a fellow horde out for the 30 seconds it would take..

In the end: if a handful of grievers can make the world a worse place, then why couldn't a handful of good people make the world a better place?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Warlock survivability build

Well with all the whining going on about warlock survivability and even cataclysm promising no hope when it comes to upscaling the survivability of the warlock I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.

Quite frankly since I did my best to complain about various warlock problems whenever I had the chance I thought it fair to take a look at the situation and come up with some kind of build that should be able to withstand a bit of a beating.

The build, how else could it be, is hardly what anyone would consider a standard warlock build, it's not highest in DPS, it's a pretty lousy instancing build and odds are you'll get kicked out a raid the second you even try raiding with it.

It's about cold hard survivability: letting go of all those lovely damage oriented skills and supplanting them with the few mediocre survivability talents a warlock has.

In the end my primary concern was to create a warlock build that would allow the warlock to take the battle to the enemy in a bg setting rather than spending the entire bg waiting on healer rez timers (aka the warlock watercooler).

Before we dive into the why lets take a quick look at the build I am proposing:

Or alternatively dropping the 10% physical damage mitigation for a lot more room in the affliction tree:

Clearly this is nothing like the average cookie cutter spec. We dig deep fairly deep into both affliction and demonology to pick up a few key survivability talents and then top it off with a little more damage reduction from the destruction side.

A quick look at the build will identify the focus areas: Mobility through instant cast dots, draining capability through various drain talent enhancers, boosted survivability through voidwalker sacrifice, improved shielding, master demonologist (in case of the first build) and molten skin.

We're completely ignoring the high tier options from the various trees because they generally add very little to survivability and whilst increasing the damage output is good it is not what we're looking for with this build.

The additional issue with some of the high tier talents is that they require you to stand still to cast which, as a warlock, is most likely the last thing you want.

Destruction apart from nether protection, molten skin and shadowfury stun offers very little in terms of protection so we take what we can get in this case and spend the 8 points to top off molten skin.

Playing the build

The build focusses on mobility and generally relies on having a voidwalker available. While the voidwalker himself adds very little to the battle (other than a good way to occupy people's pets) his primary purpuse is to be sacrificed. Demonic brutality will ensure that you get the benefit of a 10k damage absorption shield every minute which is something even a discipline priest wouldn't scoff at and your voidwalker makes an excellent dump for soul link damage. Try not to lose him, you'll miss him when he's gone (or are voidwalkers female? hmmm).

The trick is to stay mobile. Drop your demonic circle on a ledge, preferably somewhere elevated and focus your combat around your circle. If the battle moves away from your circle the first thing you should do is move your circle. Not having a teleport available when things get too tricky is what causes most warlocks to die.
Dropping your circle on top of a wall means you'll have a nice place to return to to lick your wounds... leave the dying to the lesser mortals.

Spread your dots around, don't worry about trying to kill single targets, instead spread the corruption, use your curse of exhaustion and even throw in the occasional seed of corruption. Non-instant cast spells can be used occasionally but don't focus on trying to spread those around unless you have a lot of breathing room.

You're not a single target combatant but you have the potential to be worse than any catapult in large groups. If you do get caught out on your lonesome use your fear liberally, drain and bubble up as much as you can, you'll be amazed how frustratingly hard to kill you can be and sooner or later someone always comes by and saves the warlock.

Last but not least remember that drains are your friend. People often say draining is a lousy way to dps but personally I think doing damage while getting a bunch of hitpoints for free which can easily be converted to mana is priceless.

On stats

There's not much to say about stats. As a caster you get very little choice in the stat department and whilst I would love to say stack up on armor it's really not an option for us. Instead focus on stamina and spellpower like an ordinary warlock.
The choice between crit, haste and spirit is a bit of a toss up. Haste clearly does nothing for you except lower some GCD's which is nice but hardly crucial. Spirit vs crit is a debate in itself and I simply put to you to go with what you appreciate more. Personally I have a tendency to run with fel armor 99% of the time and spirit translates very nicely to spellpower in that way but as said crit vs. spirit is not a debate I am willing to take on.

Resilience as always is a good choice for any bg'ing warlock. 500 of it should be easy to obtain but you'll really start to feel the difference resilience can make once you get above 700.

All in all I have to say I am quite pleased with the builds. The second build was my attempt to irk out just that more damage without sacrificing too much mitigation and it seems to be working out well so far. While the damage still remains lackluster the combined effort of my pvp trinket, the demonic circle, a much needed defensive proc with the voidwalker sacrifice and the healthstone means that I can survive the initial burst of most of anything.

In the end these builds gave me what I wanted most out of the battlegrounds: The ability to /smile at a rogue and mean it.

That's something isn't it?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For the Horde: Wintergrasp 102

Welcome to wintergrasp soldier. If you have not yet done any wintergrasp battles I would suggest you go out and taste the flavor before returning here to get a few more ideas on what YOU can do to turn the entire wintergrasp battle in your faction's favor (this is not a 101 after all).

Today we will focus on the finer points of Wintergrasp looking at a few specific tips and tricks that can seriously alter the course of a WG during the battle.


While NPCs generally add very little to a WG battle they do add rank when you kill them. The more rank you have the quicker you will be able to produce some kind of useable vehicle for the battle. If the battle starts and you're not getting the enemy contact you'd like to rank up scour the planes for NPC's to rank up on. It's not as fast as enemy players but they can help rank up in a pinch and theres a bunch of them at most bridges.


Paratrooping is the fine art of dropping into wintergrasp via parachute when the battle begins. Paratrooping can have a 1001 and one (yes, 1002) applications to the creative minds and they can help turn the battle in your favor in no time.

Paratrooping comes in many shapes and forms but here's a few interesting options:

1. When on offensive drop into wintergrasp via parachute and take out the fort gun towers. More often than not high stacks of tenacity means that you can take out a gun long before you have to seriously worry about more than one enemy coming after you. Every gun they lose means longer life for your siege vehicles.

2. grab a few guys and parachute into the fort when on offense. If you can hit a less populated area you can put the wringer on the enemy right from the start and even start working on those walls. If you can get enough people together to parachute in you can control the battle right from the get go.

3. Mages use your slowfall... you'll have no greater happiness than pulverizing your foes while still in mid-air.

4. Drop in and camp the defenders graveyard. They will have to shift back some forces or be stuck there for a few minutes fighting you. The graveyard is surprisingly easy to camp with a few DPS and a tree healer.

Towers, Towers, Towers

Despite popular belief wg is all about the towers. When in offense you must have defense to protect your towers and the rear workshops. You need at least 5-10 people to put up a solid defense and you need just as many to put up a solid offense to take out the towers when defending the wg.

A southern tower represents 10 minutes off of the WG timer. If you're on offense you cannot afford to lose that time, if you're on defense you cannot afford to wait around that extra time.

Put as much pressure as you possibly can on that southern area in offense or in defense. People will not rally to your cause so you will have to take it upon yourself to go down there.

Breaking things

There's more ways than one to break things in wintergrasp. The RRPGs available at every workshop are insanely good at taking out siege vehicles and yet I rarely see them used. Even though they're horrible to aim they can also be shot into walls...

Engineering bombs and sapper charges can be used to damage walls and gates just the same so a large group of engineers can put pressure on walls and towers long long before the first catapults start rolling out of your workshops.

Dealing with Tenacity

If you have tenacity things are looking in your favor. Be aggressive be out there but don't forget to have a goal. Just running with the masses killing things will not get those walls or towers destroyed.

If you're dealing with oponents that have a tenacity buff ... CC. Crowd control them. Sheep them, do what you must to keep them busy. Rather than disabling a single person with your crowd control you're effectively eliminating a whole group of players with a single CC. Use your CC... I know you still have the button somewhere.

We strike from the west

If you ever been in defense of WG you already know that your ressurection spits you out on the east side of the fortress. As a result it's terribly easy to defend the east side of wintergrasp from incursions because you have a constant stream of fresh bodies and vehicles at the east side.

Attackers come from the west. An attack from the east is 100% more likely to fail than anything you would throw at them from the west side. If the west side is solidly defended then barge in through the front door.

The east side should only be attacked to form a distraction or if you want your side to be stuck in a long drawn out battle with an eventual loss.

Understanding catapults

Catapults are generally weak but fast vehicles. They do have a significant advantage in personell destruction that should not be underestimated. Laying down noxious clouds of gas on enemy turret positions will deter the enemy from standing there and casting spells at you. Fling your barrels over the walls and you can start inflicting damage to the enemy without them being able to do anything about it.

While siege vehicles are often prefferred a catapult or two can wreak havoc to tightly packed groups of people... say the ones defending a fort. Catapults also fit through the doorways of towers.

And that's it for wintergrasp 102. I hope you have learned a few new things soldier, or at least are willing to use the things you already knew.
In the end a group of 5 coordinated people is infinitely more powerful than the raid full of honormongers.

Now, to battle!