Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chat or Die

I've been enjoying my vacation recently and venturing into that fabled instance, the real world, for the majority of it. However, after about a week of enjoying the fresh mountain air and now the white sandy beaches I'm ready for some more inside activities. Plus its very embarressing to have a sunburn in December. You have to have to be practically an albino and fall asleep in a hammock reading the newest R.A. Salvatore but it can be done. So while I'm hiding out to avoid being compared to a lobster I thought I would try to get back on track posting on my blog. Not much has changed since the last patch in World of Warcraft to write about though. Guild raiding is still at a low, Tier 3 pre-mades are still hording honor, and most people are still complaining about maxing out on marks of honor. I know I've started to use mine to collect epic mounts.

I think the new PvP system is still at the front of everyone's mind until the expansion comes out next month. Most people are hoping to collect at least part of the pvp armor set since doing the first Hellfire Citadel instance in epic gear has got to be a lot easier then Scholo/Strat tier-0 gear. Plus from the layout of the zones in the Burning Crusade you can be sure that questing is going to involve defending yourself from the opposite faction at every turn. With the world objectives and conquerable neutral towns it seems like there is going to be a lot more PvP in the expansion then in the old world. Thus if your planning on questing in the first zone in the Burning Crusade its looking like you might want to at least have the full epic pvp set.

So to speed you on your course to epic pvp gear I decide to post a small hint that helps me a lot when I go into the battlegrounds. I usually play with a group of friends from real life but we don't number enough to make a full pre-made group. Usually its just 5-7 of us going into WSG and AB together. What makes a difference of course is a chat channel. Now I know a lot of people use chat software like Xfire or Teamspeak already but from what I've seen a decent percentage of people still have no idea how to set up any kind of chat software.

The free ventrilo server offered at is good for learning how client/server chat works. It's limited to only allowing 8 people onto the server but its easily hosted on the same computer you play games on. Plus since your running the server you can simply turn it off when you don't want to host it. Thus it really does become the disposable chat server.

Steps for Free Ventrilo Server

1) Download the Client and Server from

2) Get your IP address from or use the ipconfig command

3) Click on the Server Icon to start it. Then Downsize it.

4) Click on the Client Icon and put the IP address into the Client. If you have a router look in the forums to learn how to setup port forwarding.

5) Chose a Hotkey under Setup that you will hold down to talk. I like to use the ~(tilde) key.

Voice communication is the number one advantage in battlegrounds that pre-mades have over teams of random people. Its easy to coordinate flag running in WSG when you can call out crowd control and when not to break out. Nothing is more frustrating then watching someone break that sheeped warlock so he can fear your flag runner backwards into a tide of red names. In Arathi Baisin players at the lumber mills can quickly call out incomings for both the blacksmith and the farm with a chat channel. Its also much easier for people to break up evenly so that you don't get huge clumps of defenders at one resource node.

If your goal is to collect the pvp gear then you are going to have to get some sort of chat capability to be functional. Else always expect to lose to pre-made groups even if they are just wearing greens and blues. Don't depend on others to make a chat channel for you, be proactive and figure out the software for one of them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Honor Nerf destroys Alliance PvP

With the recent pvp revamp it became quite possible for many casual players to partake in the battlegrounds and gain epic rewards equal to about the Tier-2 raid set. However, the rate at which these rewards were being earned was very high for some individuals. As a result the developers decided to implement a hotfix into the game which reduced the honor rate for players by about 30%. While a change was needed to maintain the value of the pvp rewards this change has had major consequences for some players.

The population imbalance between horde and alliance makes pvp changes especially difficult to balance because of the difference in queue times. Since I have several level 60 characters on both factions and they just happen to be in the same battlegroup I was able to collect some data on the rates of honor gain. Most horde players were earning about 18-25k honor for playing about 7 hours with queue times that were at most a couple of minutes. The alliance who were running into average queue times of 11-16 minutes for AB/WSG and 35-45 minutes for AV were earning about 10k honor for playing 7 hours. These numbers were based on non-premade teams and reflect last weekend on Lightnings Blade and Shadowmoon servers.

The main problem with the honor nerf is that while it lowers the rate at which pvp epic items can be earned for both sides it still gears the horde players up faster. Normally this wouldn't be a problem since players would get their rewards and then leave to raid or continue doing instance runs. However, it seems that almost all raiding has been put on hold by high level guilds in effort to gain the max amount of honor and tokens that can be held in reserve. This strategy is in preparation for the Burning Crusade introducing new level 70 pvp rewards.

You can already see the problem that the alliance players are running into. As more and more horde earn their pvp rewards the average amount of honor gained per game for the alliance is reduced since they are fighting against better geared players. However, just applying the nerf to the horde would be unfair since they shouldn't be punished for their choice of race. Some better ideas have been introduced on the forums but it looks like most of the developers are too busy with the expansion to implement any of them.

Options instead of Honor Nerf:
1) Cap the amount of Honor that could be earned per day.

2) Implement a rest system for honor.

3) Implement the matching system which would make better geared players wait in the queue longer until they could be matched against players with similar gear.

4) Just let people get the current pvp rewards and reset honor and marks with the expansion.

Some Honor Calculations:
Entire Honor Set
Boots: ~12k, Shoulders: ~12k, Gloves: ~12k
Helm: ~20k, Chest: ~20k, Legs: ~20k
Two 1-hand weapons or One 2-hand weapon: 45k
Total: 141k Honor

Last week I gained 25k honor which allowed me to buy two pieces of the pvp armor set. My friend who played horde on my battlegroup last week gained 54k honor for playing about the same time as me.

Playing with a small group of friends and keeping constantly queued for AV which provides the most honor for the alliance I gained me about 9K honor in 7 hours last week. Now technically with the honor nerf I should now gain 6k honor in 7 hours but last night I only got about 2k honor for playing 5 hours since the queue times for AB and WSG had gone up considerably. I have a horrible sinking feeling that if I play for 5 hours on my horde character tonight that I will gain the 6k honor I calculated. Its simply a matter of the queue time imbalance combined with the honor nerf which is really hurting the rate at which alliance can gain honor.

Original Thread discussing the Honor Nerf and some misleading done by Drysc

Friday, December 08, 2006

What happened to the Matching System?

The last patch has been bugtastic for most raiders out there and they seem to be the ones experiencing the most pain from the new patch. This seems to have caused a large number of players to put raiding on the back burner and adopt the new PvP system as their new favorite pasttime. Now admittingly people might get bored with the same three battlegrounds over the next month so raiding isn't over by a far shot. Plus with the stacking of Heal over Time spells and new healing talents a lot of old encounters might have easier strategies. And honestly learning how to kill Baron Geddon without Decursive might be easier then winning against a pre-made team in Arathi Baisin.

Those of you who have been following the promises of the CM's remember that a matching system was in the works for the battlegrounds. The system supposedly assigned points based on the quality of the gear in a player's inventory and bank slots. These point totals for each player would then be used to assign them to a battleground against opponents with similar totals. Pre-made teams with high quality gear would then be quickly assigned to fight other asshats with Tier-3. (Jealous much?) This would basically allow players in Blue and Tier-1 armor to have a fighting chance of earning enough honor points to gain PvP rewards.

However, it seems with all the problems in implementing patch 2.0.1 the developers have decided to hold off on the matching system until the expansion. Of course when the expansion comes out most of us are going be busy questing and running dungeons so I'm not sure how useful it will be then. Yet if the system is not working then there is not much that Blizzard can do except spend more hours trying to get it working. A similar matching system will be put into place for the Arenas except it will be based on Arena rankings instead of gear quality.

Matching System Scheduled for Expansion

Random Quote copying the Princess Bride

Thursday, December 07, 2006

WoW Patch 2.0.1: A Breath of New Life

Well I must say that for a patch that didn't introduce any new content it sure seemed to breathe some life into a game that had been on standby till the expansion. The delay of the expansion had caused some major repercussions within World of Warcraft which effected both players and guilds. Most high end raiding guilds were having problems fielding raids when the expansion would make a majority of their effort wasted in a couple months. Others who were simply hanging onto the game until new content were disappointed they would have to wait for another two months and decided to quit until January.

However, the numbers I've seen in my battlegroup and server seem point to a trend that this patch brought a lot of people back to the game before the expansion. I've spent the last couple of days playing in a small 5 man premade group and doing Arathi Baisin and Warsong Gulch. When the cross realm queue was working I've seen close to 160 games for each of these battlegrounds. Alterac Valley games were also decently high in number since a majority of the epic PVP gear requires marks of honor from there.

My guild has almost become a PvP guild overnight with a majority of our healers choosing the highest damage specs over the standard raid healing. It seems very few people were that interested in sacrificing 20gp a night to learn the Vael encounter when they can simple wait a month for better gear. Now everyone has a chance to earn the epic PvP gear sets which are quite honestly equal to Tier-2. The amount of honor per piece is a bit high but seems doable to even casual players which were turned off to Battleground PvP by the ranking system. I had about 190 kills last night and my honor total for this morning was around 3,000. Most epic pieces cost betwen 13,000-20,000 honor with the epic weapons being about double that.

I know a lot of PvE and casual guilds are now PvPing because I'm seeing a lot of new trends in the battleground.

1) A lot of pre-made guild teams who seem to be inexperienced at PvP

2) Most people playing now seem to be wearing mixtures of the Tier-1/Tier-2 set instead of the blue PvP set.

3) A lot of pre-made teams are ignoring some of the well-known strategies for battlegrounds
- No one guarding flags in Arathi Baisin
- Zerging into the opposite faction's base without trying to control the center in Warsong Gulch.

4) People spamming general chat in Ironforge/Ogrimmar advertising their PvP group.

I'm also seeing a lot of talent experimentation going on and I am noticing that PvP seems a bit more on equal grounds with the new talents. Some classes are still overpowered in certain regards but it honestly seems that the talent changes have made it so everyone is on equal footing when fighting.

1) Paladins can now do damage like a decently equipped warrior if they are retribution spec. Combined this with their stuns and shields and you have a deadly combo. Number one thing I saw in battleground that surprised me was that most paladins can now kill a warlock in the time of their divine shield. 12 seconds of invulnerable allows them to crusader strike twice and judge seal of command twice while being immune to all damage.

2) Hunters are now powerful against casters and melee classes. Silence Shot and Scatter Shot combined together are deadly when timed against casters correctly. Freezing Trap is no longer a real factor with its long arm time. Some smart alec hunters were already using Zulgurub snakes since they are now tamable. The seem to have a poison spit ability but I am not 100% sure on this. All I know is "Snakes, I hate Snakes?"

3) Mages have gotten a huge boost to the fire tree. Every time I died suddenly in a battleground with no idea what happened there was a mage behind me. Fireballs now seem to hit for above 1500 even if the Mage is only moderately well equipped.

4) Feral Druids are now a bit dangerous. Their damage in cat form is higher and their damage mitigation in bear form is also very nice. A lot of my teammates were noticing that they were doing more damage meleeing against tier-2 warriors then a druid in bear form. Also the new Tree of Life form has a nice healing bonus but cannot be realistically used in PvP.

5) Most warriors I saw were now immune to disarm and now gained rage/hitpoints whenever they were stunned. This basically just makes it even harder for rogues to fight them though I was surprised to see a couple side effects. One fight I saw a warrior with barely any life get hit with scatter shot which gained him rage and life enough to intercept the hunter and execute. Also warriors with the Endless Rage talent really seemed to constantly have rage.

6) Warlocks still pwn people with their fears and dots. I noticed that the rate which dots appeared on my characters was still a bit slow. I'm surprised to see no one has used the new cast sequence command yet to link all their instant cast dots to one key. Oh well I am sure it will happen pretty soon. The new doomguard pet was around in force and I got to experience its intercept ability first hand.... multiple times. It now seems to be a tie between the succubus and doomguard for most dangerous pet.

7) Duel-wielding Shamans took some getting used to but it didn't seem as overpowering as I first thought. I know a lot of shamans will like the build for grinding but it seems only moderately dangerous in PvP. Getting hit by high damaging shocks still seems the better way of delivering the burst damage necessary to kill people.

8) I didn't really notice many changes fighting against priests and rogues though it did seem that rogues were getting perfectly timed stunlocks more often. Any rogues out there can tell me if the new talents make it easier to keep people stun locked?

All in all this patch really did more for PvP then the last patch with its world PvP objectives. It seems the developers are learning that while some people enjoy PvP most people are going to ignore it unless there are good rewards or no risk. With the old ranking system players had almost no chance of getting anything beyond the blue pvp armor set unless they spent more then 6 hours a day winning battlegrounds. This effectively blocked the awards for any players that had PvE raid obligations or a real life. With the new patch the PvP rewards became available to all players which effectively unlocked new content.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Top Ten Tips you won't see on the Loading Screen

No time for a real update so once again here is a list, enjoy.

10) Since everyone needs money, yes you can in fact always roll Need.

9) If you are new and need insightful advice about the game try the official WoW forums.

8) Always give your password out to anyone claiming to be a Blizzard employee else you might get banned.

7) The Cow Level is what the Alliance now call Tauren Bluff since DKs have been removed.

6) If you ever see a link for a lengendary item you are obligated by law to link it in general chat 1,000 times.

5) Remember that Aspect of the Pact can also be used in dungeons to stop cowardly teammates.

4) Vowels are not allowed in W()rld ()f W<:rcr<:ft instead use numbers and special characters

3) /spit is a sign of Pirate respect.

2) Carefully watch the Succubus pet, hehe did you see that? We are such pervs.

1) Quest givers of the opposite faction refuse to give you quests because they are dicks, you know what to do.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Short Update on WoW's new dungeons

The last raid dungeon in the expansion, the Black Temple, will not be ready for the release of the Burning Crusade but should have minimal impact on the game. Even the most hardcore player is going to take at least a few weeks to get to level 70 and farm the gear for fighting against Illidian. Veteren MMORPG players will recognize that this is standard fare for most expansions and that end game raid content always takes a little bit longer to finish. Lets just hope we don't see the same mistakes that SOE made with Everquest expansions and find unfinished raid zones two months after the release date. However, with Blizzard being opened about the status of the dungeons in the expansion I really don't see any surprises being sprung on us.

The other dungeon that will be patched in after the release of the Burning Crusade will be Zul'Aman. This is another 10 man instance like Karazhan but with a troll theme. It has been remarked upon before that the 10 man dungeons in the Burning Crusade should play the same role that Zul'Gurub and AQ20 now hold. However, with the new policy on gear distribution both these dungeons should have items close in power to those gained from full 25 man raids. One other item to note is that the Caverns of Time could have multipled dungeons patched into it at later dates because of its unique lore in World of Warcraft.

Confirmed Dungeons that will be ready for TBC realease date are:
Hellfire Citadel
Coilfang Reservoir
Gruul's Lair
The Caverns of Time in Tanaris
Karazhan in Deadwind Pass
Tempest Keep

Zones/Dungeons we are still left wondering about:
Hyjal next to Felwood
Uldum inside of Tanaris
Gilineas next to Silverpine Forrest
Nessy's Zone between Ironforge and Stormwind
Island in the Middle of the Map
Grim Batol
Emerald Dream