Friday, March 27, 2009

PVP Season 6, a brave new world

I should probably be the last person in the world of warcraft talking about PVP since I am far from experienced. Still the topic has always had my intrest since I entered my first BG and this resulted in me eagerly reading most of anything I can find on PVP even going so far as to occasionally troll the ArenaJunkies forums / sites.

Having not looked into PVP since february (coincidentally just about the time I got my new job) I decided to do my rounds and figure out what the current state of arena / PVP is.

Let me start by saying: There's massive changes incoming for the next season. Not only will the rating system be completely re-vamped to start rating from 0 for everyone but all the rewards from PVP have also been re-balanced in the cost department.

From what it looks like arena rating requirements will be significantly lower for most pieces and a lot of pieces will be relegated to the realm of honor purchase. To what extend the new rating values will be achievable with the new system remains to be seen, but only a few items are still left that seem completely off the rating charts.

The arena system has always been in a constant state of flux as blizzard tries to fight the various groups of people that abuse the system or just addressing overall balance issues. If nothing else dealing with their obscure matching system that more often than not resulted in your first 100 matches at a rating of 1500 being against better geared people that'd stomp you into the ground in no time.

Cloth wearers have had it especially hard this season as the very crit-happy wotlk expansion clearly displayed in the average survival times of cloth wearing classes being around the 5 - 15 second mark. The few arena experiences I had as a cloth wearer were dysmal at best and at times I wished I would've brought my prot pally instead just so I could actually last longer than 15secs.

The incoming flurry of arena changes for season 6 were to be expected but most likely fueled by one simple fact:

Overall arena representation / participation is down by a whopping 65% across the board.

65% ... that's almost 3 quarters of the arena population throwing the proverbial towel into the ring.

You know that feeling you had that 2 out of 3 or your former PVP partners stopped playing arena alltogether? Well, turns out that you were spot on on that one.

Sure, people levelling would account for lower arena representation but after 5 odd months of WotLK most people have been level 80 and working on gear / rep / other for a while now.

Arena play motivation is at an all time low. With no incentives for casuals to play the arena and the outlook of spending a good amount of time getting your skull crushed in just for some measly arena rating which in the current setup rarely is enough to get some decent gear caused most of the casuals to literally give up on arena alltogether.

Starting the arena rating from 0 seems the natural way to go and in the long term will hopefully allow people to fight people on their level rather than overgeared people with artificially low ratings; But then the arena matching system might throw a spanner in the works on that one.

In the end, whatever change they decide on the goal should be not to make PVP a horribly frustrating experience for the casual players, not because PVP should be easy for casuals but simply to maintain at least the impression that arenas are more than just a strap-on E-sport.

We are willing to accept the fact that we can't reach high-end pvp gear for some occasional pvp-ing but I think most casuals would agree on this: we would like to compete vs other people on our level, and we would like to be able to get something out of it even if it takes a while.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

'Old World' Valuables

With my job encroaching upon my valuable playtime I have resorted to the one thing a wow player can do in times where time is short: playing the AH.

The ah however doesn't really make for any exciting tales but I did notice a trend that I figured you might like to know about.

With the masses of unwashed deathknights having taken care of most of their outland levelling and even the achievement mongers having cleaned out the last parts of outland things have gotten quiet in ye ole outland.

So quiet in fact that it has begun affecting prices for outland materials. Sure sure, the demand isn't what it used to be and neither are the prices but then again the supply isn't exactly glorious either.

Primal fire prices are holding steady at a the 10g a piece mark on my server which, considering the relative ease of farming these on a level 80 character just goes to show that what once was just plain 'old' now has antique value.

Many azerothian trading materials seem to have been enjoying decent prices as well, a stack of thorium ore goes for more than a stack of saronite bars will go on my server and a lot of other trade materials are suffering from a lack of farmers and a continual demand from the profession levellers.

In other words it's good times on the ah. I am +2 epic flyers in what has been at most a pair of month of very little effort doing this and that very little of which being farming.

So if you're looking to make some quick gold and you haven't gotten around to cleaning all those alt's banks out yet, now might just be the time to find a few hundred gold hidden away in some old bank slot.

Monday, March 9, 2009

3.1 patch notes part 2

Warlock changes... and there's a lot of warlock changes in 3.1 to come so lets take a quick look at what I would consider one of the more aggressive changes to the warlock class. A lot of stuff has been removed or seen their talent point cost reduced which should give warlocks a little more room to breathe in terms of point distribution.

Let's dispense with the pleasantries and dive right into the sarcasm (for a full list of changes simply scroll past my endless dribble till you see the word 'warlocks' come by).

Blizzard decided to radically solve out soul shard problem by not allowing us to have more than 32 which is likewise compensated by drain soul now creating shards when fighting non-gray mobs. Considering I reguarly go out to solo instances of the low level variant and I remember burning through shards in pvp like nuts I have a few doubts about this change but this change is undoubtedly easier than making the suckers stack (*caugh*).

Curse of recklessness and siphon life go to the trash bin, one dissapearing alltogether and siphon life being rolled into corruption. The change to siphon life will change how warlock rotations look and should definitely simplify things... that is if 40% of corruption damage is about what siphon life returned in the first place at any rate and our damage doesn't go down the drain over losing siphon life (not likely). Curse of recklessness... well I won't miss it now considering they already removed the ability to control our fear with it.

With the masses of demons in northrend all those lovely changes to enslave demon will undoubtedly pass most warlocks by unnoticed, I'd wager good money that enslaving a demon will never make it past the level of novelty spell in the next 2-600 expansions.

The extra damage for curse of elements is taken out of malediction leaving affliction warlocks not really feeling the difference but now having to decide if malediction is still worth the effort.

Pandemic will make affliction warlocks a bit crit happier and went on a diet now saving us 2 points. Beyond that affliction now seems to benefit shadow more and we will probably see immolate drop out of our rotation due to not getting any benefits from talents anymore.

Demonology also got slimmed down a bit losing demonic empathy and 2 points from mana feed which can be re-invested into a new talent called nemesis reducing cooldowns on some interesting demo talents. Decimation may put soulfire back on the map as useable by reducing it's cast time and removing the reagent cost. Failing that it'll completely invalidate nemesis and soulfire will remain the absolute poorest choice for a warlock to do some damage.

I'll leave destruction to the destruction enthusiasts to comment on but it looks like the tree got tightened a little by bumping bonusses on the less used talents and shaping it to be what I would call a more pvp oriented tree. Lets hope the bump in survivability via molten skin will mean we won't have to scrape our precious warlock off the floor after each arena match... then again he better not use any soul shards anymore or start draining a little soul now and then.

Overall some interesting changes but the cleanup to affliction's rotation will definitely be felt (and if not implemented too poorly) welcomed by what few warlocks haven't switched to dk's yet.


• Curse of the Elements (Rank 5) : Increased to 13% spell damage, up from 10%.
• Curse of Recklessness has been removed.
• Curse of Weakness: Now also reduces the armor of the target by 5%.
• Drain Soul: Each time Drain Soul deals damage to a target which can grant experience, it now has a chance to generate a Soul Shard.
• Enslave Demon: Spell haste penalty reduced by 10%, Melee haste penalty reduced by 10%.
• Warlocks now innately have an increased 10% spell hit chance on the Enslave Demon spell.
• Fire Shield (Imp): You can now cast this ability on raid members, rather than party members.
• Soul Shard: This item now has a maximum count of 32 in inventory.
• Ritual of Summoning: The summoning of the initial portal is now instant cast, down from 5 seconds.
• Talents

- Affliction
• Eradication re-designed: When you deal damage with Corruption, you have a 2/4/6% chance to gain the Eradication effect. The Eradication effect increases the critical strike chance of your Shadow Bolt spell by 30%. Each critical strike reduces the critical strike bonus by 10%. Lasts 30 sec.
• Haunt : Now only increases your shadow damage-over-time on the target. (No longer includes non-Shadow damage over time spells.)
• Malediction - No longer increases the effect of Curse of the Elements.
• Pandemic: This talent has been reduced to a 1-point talent, now grants your Corruption and Unstable Affliction the capability to critically hit.
• Shadow Embrace: Now only increases the damage done by your shadow damage periodic spells.
• Siphon Life: The Siphon Life spell has been removed. Siphon Life now causes your Corruption spell to instantly heal you for 40% of the damage done.
• Suppression: Now increases spell hit for all of your spells.

- Demonology
• Demonic Empathy has been removed.
• Demonic Empowerment: This talent spell now has a unique spell effect and sound.
• Demonic Sacrifice: This talent has been removed.
• Fel Synergy has been moved to tier-1. No longer increases Intellect, Stamina and damage of your summoned demon.
• Improved Enslave Demon talent removed.
• Mana Feed: This talent is now a 1-point talent, down from 3-points. Now is the 21-point talent in Demonology. Now grants 100% mana return to your pet, up from 33/66/100%
• Master Conjuror: Increased from 15/30% up to 150/300%.
• New Talent: Decimation: When you Shadowbolt or Incinerate a target that is at or below 35% health, your next Soulfire cast time is reduced by 30/60% and costs no shard. Lasts 10 sec.
• New Talent: Nemesis: Reduces the cooldown of your Demonic Empowerment, Metamorphosis, Soulstone and Fel Domination spells by 10/20/30%.

- Destruction
• Aftermath re-designed: Increases the periodic damage done by your Immolate by 3/6%, and your Conflagrate has a 50/100% chance to daze the target for 5 sec.
• Backlash has been moved up to tier-5, up from tier-7. Now requires Intensity (pre-req).
• Cataclysm: Now reduces the mana cost of Destruction spells by 4/7/10%. No longer increases the chance to hit.
• Conflagrate: Spell now works similar to Swiftmend, consuming an Immolate or Shadowflame effect on the target and dealing damage based on the strength of that effect. Reduced to a single rank.
• Improved Immolate: Now increases the damage done by your Immolate by 10/20/30%, rather than just the direct damage.
• Improved Shadow Bolt: Now increases the damage done by your Shadow Bolt spell by 1/2/3/4/5%, and causes your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against that target by 1/2/3/4/5%. Effect lasts 30 sec.
• Improved Soul Leech: Now has a 50/100% chance to proc Replenishment.
• Molten Core: This talent has been moved to Demonology (Tier 8).
• New Talent: Molten Skin: Reduces all damage taken by 2/4/6%.
• Pyroclasm re-designed: Now increases your Shadow and Fire spell power by 2/4/6% when you critically hit with Searing Pain or Conflagrate. Lasts 10 sec. Also moved down to tier 7, down from tier-5.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

3.1 patch notes part 1

There's been much said about the infamous 3.1 ulduar patch but it seemed to take forever for anything substantial to roll in.

I bided my time a little trying to hold off on saying anything about it without substantial information in hand and outwaited myself a little since there's now more to report than will fit in a single post.

Or at least that's what I decided.

I will get into my typical routine of highlighting the warlock changes in the next post (and there's a lot of them) and maybe grab some other interesting notes as well.

Today however I devote to the curious, the strange and the vaguely documented additions. If you want some more details on the patch you can check out mmo-champion of course or take a look at what wowinsider had to say here

Let's start with a few general ones. A notable entry here is a 'gear manager' addition to the game that will allow you to save and apply armor sets meaning you'll be able to swap out your gear for another set in an instant. Spectacular? By no means, but a hopeful candidate to replace addons like outfitter and the like meaning the end of the update season for yet another addon.

There's also a new set of high-res textures coming in. This really doesn't do much considering we're already playing on an outdated graphics engine but it's nice to have another option to turn on to decrease overall game performance ;) which is nicely coupled with a video mode ultra to show that even wow still has enough oompf in it to bring a decent fx card to it's knees.

Apparantly we're also getting some new quest tracking options. Who knows what that means, but we'll have to remember to turn that one on before we go through our alternative of updating the questhelper addon and see what this shiny new gem will do for us.

The final noteworthy entry from the general section is the fact that you will no longer be dismounted while swimming... I have a feeling it's going to look curious but if the speed increase from mounts persists then most of us will enjoy the change while druids will lament their now profoundly less impressive water form.

The glyph section and profession sections are always interesting but I think I'll check if we can't make some money out of it in a later post, what I do however want to give you is the stats for the elusive titansteel spellblade to be added to the game. Take them with a grain of salt, it didn't make it into any official databases yet it seems:

Titansteel Spellblade [440] MH Dagger, (99-316) 82.9 dps, Speed 2.5, +40 Spirit, +33 Stamina, +408 Spell Power, +37 Critical Strike Rating, +27 Haste Rating, Level 80 (Epic, BoE)(Unique-Equipped)
Materials: 6 Saronite Bars, 6 Titansteel Bars, 2 Frozen Orbs

Last but not least from the noteworthy section is: dual specs

They have been announced, I made my analysis on who would win/lose on that feature a while back and the exact functionality is still a bit sketchy beyond the fact that: you will be able to dual spec at level 80 for a price.

And there we have it, a quick glance at the patch notes from a neutral perspective. There's a lot of class changes in there though so I suggest you put on your QQ resistant outfits and wander over into the patch notes section and see what fresh hell/blessing awaits your class.