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Playing Better

One of the things that I’ve been trying to figure out is how to play a better game. If you’re thinking about PVE, then it could be rotations, optimal cooldown use, or just knowing the encounter. Now, if we translate this into PVP, then these same things generally apply, but there’s the added components of the human mind and the objectives of the map to contend with. As well, we have to consider some limiting factors in these equations: gear, player skill, your teammates (or raid members if you’d prefer), skill of your opponents (in PVP), and the encounter (or map).

The first thing (and easiest thing) to help even the odds is acquiring better gear. If you’re going into battlegrounds with less than 100k health at 85, then you’re creating an undue burden on your teammates. If you’re going into the Zul’agains with just ilvl 346, then you may not have an optimal experience. Find some of those upgrades you can afford, throwdown the cash, and begin equalizing the playing field. Lately, when I’ve been playing my druid in battlegrounds, I’ve been getting instagibbed by the opposing team. It happens. It is very frustrating, but I’m working on acquiring the gear to equalize the experience. However, you’re going to have to suck it up, but there’s going to be an intrinsic benefit of playing a bunch to acquire the better gear.

Improving your skill level will come with playing consistently. You can have the best gear in the world, but if you don’t consistently play in the arena that you’re looking to master, then you’re going to plateau here quickly. A friend of mine started working on tanking right before the Zul’roics came out, and he was having a hell of a time with it. I asked him what was giving him the most fits, and he said, “I spent so much time DPS’ing, I don’t know what all my tanking cooldowns do!” But he stuck with it, and when 4.1 came out, he was ready to roll through them and provide a consistent tanking experience. Gear can help increase the gap at which skill becomes important, but it can’t remove it entirely. You have to stick with it to improve.

However, both of the above things can be quickly undermined by the skill (or lack thereof) of your teammates. The biggest variable in any encounter is how someone that you can’t control will react when things go. If your healer spends his entire time casting big heals, then he’s going to run out of mana. If your DPS don’t stay on the marked target (be that player or boss), then something will go wrong (you marked it for a reason, right?). If your CC targets keep getting loose and no one controls them again, then your incoming damage will spike or you’ll get controlled. This does get better if you know your teammates and play with them regularly, but in the world of random battlegrounds, dungeon queues, and PUG raids this can be a nightmare to deal with. Just stay calm and don’t panic.

The same thing goes for your opponents. If you have a group of players coming at you that really know how to accomplish their goals, then I hope you have the same thing going for you. Without an equivalent level of players, prepare to get rolled. The first time I set foot in the Battle for Gilneas, we went up against a premade. That sucked. A lot. I mean, like, 3 capped in less than 5 minutes kind of suck. Now, the buddy I was playing with and I did give them some good fights, but without the same level of coordination, it was over quick. So, take what you can when this happens, but just understand that you will lose sometimes with very little control over the entire thing.

The final thing, and I saved it for last because it needs to be said, play to the encounter. If your goal in an encounter is to kite a boss across the room, then kite the boss. If your goal is to take and hold enough points to generate more than your opponents, then take your points and defend. Push if you need to to generate pressure, but don’t forget the goal. The most frustrating thing in battlegrounds and dungeons is trying to play the game to the objective without any support. I hate WSG for that reason. For some reason, people think that just grouping up and killing random players is a worthwhile activity… while the flag carrier just runs right by. What the hell, guys? You could kill that one random DK, but not the guy running the flag? Sure, some of this is improved by situational awareness (player skill), but some people just ignore the encounter objectives completely.

Most of this can be translated to any activity, though. If you’re playing a card game, better cards can help your decks. If you’re playing a sport, practice increases stamina and skill. If you get a bad teammate, then you can work with them to help them get better (if you play with them consistently). If you get rolled a bunch by the same opponents at a game, then maybe you take a break and try to find someone else to play with. Most importantly, if you’re starting something new, then you can learn the rules. Take the time and work on what you can control, and you will get better.


Multiple Adventures

Two Modes for Enjoying the World of Warcraft

Well, I’ve always been intrigued with the RP aspects of the MMORPG that I’ve been playing for… well, a long time now.  However, this is the first time I’ve actually DONE something about it.  A month or two ago, some friends approached me about doing a Role Playing Game (since our last one ended rather abruptly).  So, I said, “Well, what about Azeroth as a setting?  That way we don’t have to get any new books or teach anyone what the world is like.”  They seemed to think that was a great idea.

The next thing that we had to figure out was the system.  As we all know (or are now aware of), Blizzard has decided that the RPG books that they published with White Wolf aren’t canon anymore.  That kinda sucks.  However, I really am not a fan of D&D 3 or 3.5, so that wasn’t too much of an issue, and if I’m going to go, I may as well go big.  We settled on Savage Worlds, since the system is generic enough to accomodate just about anything we come up with.  We had to come up with a racial template, though, for the Tuskarr… oh, yeah, that’s right.  I haven’t talked about the setting.

The Events Prior to Wrath of the Lich King

Well, one of the periods of time that I thought would be fun to explore would be Northrend prior to the events that occurred in Wrath of the Lich King.  Back when the Taunka are blissfully not a part of the Horde, the blue dragonflight is as insular as it should be, and the continent itself should be considered frightening.  My players are playing a Human member of the Argent Crusade sent to scout Northrend and determine where the Crusade should focus its efforts.  Another is a Gnome member of the Explorer’s Society.  Think of Indiana Jones if he had ADHD, was  two and a half feet tall, and suffered from kleptomania.  Then we have a Tuskarr Shaman.  It’s a fun assortment of folks.

The initial plot hook is that there’s a contingent of the Silver Hand that were sent up to Northrend at some point and didn’t get the memo that they were disbanded.  It’s pretty fun stuff.  My plot outline has eight major points, but I’m going to try to insert some fun stuff in and around major places on the continent before they get steam rolled by the forces of the Lich King.  I’m especially looking forward to statting out the Nerubians.  I’m going to explore the plot aspects that they decided to leave out of the game in that regard.  I was super excited about that at the announcement of Wrath, and I was subsequently exceptionally disappointed when they cut it.

What about in Game?

I’ve finally got two of the three classes to max level that I’ve always wanted to play.  First off, we have the hunter that I was working on a while ago.  He’s firmly at 85 with all four Northrend spirit beasts in his stable.  Loque was a bitch to get, but I finally got him a week or two ago.  It made me switch to BM, but I’ve been enamored with two other projects.  The second class to make it to 85 was my Rogue.  I’ve always wanted to do one.  I kind of got that experience with my feral druid earlier this year, but I decided that I wanted the “pure” version of that experience.

The final class (or so I thought) that I wanted to level is a Warrior.  He’s in the early 60s as I wait for a friend of mine to finish classes or make some time to level him some more.  If anyone has a character at a similar level and wants to play some, then feel free to make a comment here (with a valid email address) and I’ll get in touch with you to level some.  It’s a super class… I frequently comment that if rogue isn’t the best designed class that warrior is.  Which I pick is pretty much based on which I’ve been playing most at the time.

Another Possible Character

I know I shouldn’t even be doing this, but I have a friend that’s got a level 20-ish rogue.  So, I started a Priest with a friend that started a shaman… the intent will be to get them to the same level as my buddy and then we can roll through PVP leveling together.  I think that’s a great idea.  Rogue, Shaman, and Priest?  Pretty good combination to have rolling in a BG together.  I’m just concerned that I’m not going to be able to contribute at such a low level with only 3 heals… though Penance looks to be super good.

Yeah, I chose Discipline (oh the irony), but I’m not opposed to trying other things as I level.  I’m thinking I’ll do holy as my second spec, but that’s not for a while yet.

Rogues, how do they work?

Well, in addition to my hunter (who’s in Northrend now – god help him), I’ve begun to play a rogue and last night I dinged 30. I have to say, it’s definitely one of the most well-rounded classes I’ve seen in the game so far. I don’t know if it’s a function of the balance that’s occurred in 4.x, but I’ve not encountered anything that strikes me as silly over powered. Now, bear in mind that my PVP exposure has been a handful of games at the 10-14 bracket. When 4.1 comes out and there’s no movement penalty on stealth, then I may be singing a different tune.

My first spec attempt was combat. I did that for about 3 levels before getting tired of it. Sinister strike is just completely uninteresting. Blade flurry is pretty cool and the increased energy regen rate is nice, but it just seemed really slow to me. So, I respecced over to assassination. I have the two heirloom daggers, so I thought that it would be pretty fun to try. Well, I look at the first tier of talents, and one really stuck out to me. Deadly Momentum. This talent is so, so, so, so good for leveling. Let me explain why.

Ok, so let’s say you’re doing one of those quests where you have to kill 10 or 15 of something. You stealth in, ambush, then mutilate. Slice and Dice goes up, the monster goes down. Slice and Dice goes back to full duration and your crit chance (which should already be high) skyrockets to silly for mutilate, and you’re off to the races on the next one that’s close to you. So, you pop it with a mutilate, get another combo point, and then you’ve got your recuperate going. Well, your crit chance just went back up, both buffs just refreshed, and you’re free to just keep killing. You say, “Well, what if it’s far away?” You blow sprint and then you’re in it’s face. The class is just very, very good at closing gaps and killing things.

As you get into tier 2, you can snag Quickening for increased movement speed and increased healing (since you’re using recuperate). This spec just gets BETTER! I also snagged Puncturing Wounds to get me to tier 3. I think that’s a pretty reasonable choice. 15% more crit on your primary nuke is pretty nice.  Then you have to pick up Cold Blood.  Instant energy regen with a cool effect?  Just like the feral ability, King of the Jungle, you have to have it.

Well, now, I’ve picked up dual-spec and I’m going to try out Subtlety for a while. I’ve heard good things about it, and I think shadowstep is probably one of the coolest abilities ever. So, I started by getting Nightstalker and Improved Ambush. Tier 2 was Opportunity and Initiative. Tier 3 should be obvious: Hemorrhage. I’m not quite certain how much I’m going to like positional requirements. Shadowstep is supposed to be Shadowpwn, so hopefully that will help… but for doing randoms counting on the tank to hold the guy in one position may be asking too much. Side note: skip gnomeregan. It sucked before, and the redesign didn’t help too much.

My next goal is to start into the Southern Barrens, then go south to Dustwallow Marsh. I want to see how the story for Theramore shapes up. It looks like such an awesome zone, and it’s one of the ones I haven’t done since before patch 1.4, I think. After that, though, I don’t know where else to go. I haven’t done the new Tanaris yet, so that may be next. I did the Plaguelands last time, and that was ok, but I want to see some of the changes to the zones.

Links to my specs:

Warhammer: Invasion – LCG > CCG

Alright, so in my local community of gamers, we’re pretty diverse.  One of my friends has a huge collection of board games (not just Monopoly and the Milton Bradley variety), and while we were hanging out playing Descent we got to talking about other games that would be fun.  As is evidenced by some of my other blog posts, I like me some Warhammer.  So does my friend, and well… he showed me (and another few friends) the Warhammer: Invasion LCG.

So, I’m sure you’re asking, “What the hell is an LCG?”  If any of you out there ever played Magic: The Gathering, then you’ve played something similar, called a CCG.  A CCG is a collectible card game.  A LCG is a living card game.  The difference between the two is not getting fucked by RNG all the time.  There are set cards that come in the expansions (called Battle Packs in this case) rather than a random assortment.  So, there may be 80 cards in the cycle (think set), but only 20 of them come out in the Battle Pack.  More importantly:  you get three of every one of the cards in the newer Battle Packs so there’s no reason to ever buy more than one.  Unless of course you’re building multiple decks revolving around the same cards.

So, yesterday, my copy of the core set came in to the friendly local gaming store (FLGS for the unintiated), Grand Adventures Comics.  If you’re ever in the mid-state?  This is the place to come game.  We have people coming from just about every corner of the state to play Hordes, Warmachine, Warhammer (40k and fantasy), Magic, WoW TCG, board games, whatever.  It’s a happening place.  Anyway:  I pick it up, head over to my friend’s house, and crack this sucker open.

In the core set you get counters for resources and damage, 40 cards from the first 4 factions, 30 mercenary cards, 10 cards that are teasers for the next expansion, and then 4 faction tiles.  After opening the box, though, we spent the better part of 15 minutes making fun of the packaging.  If you get one, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.  It’s nice in retrospective, since it gives you lots of room for extra cards (in the event you have someone else that will gift you with a bunch of them like I did) so when you get more cards you don’t have to worry about splitting them up into multiple boxes.

Well, we spent the next few hours playing, with me losing each time.  Which is fine by me… I just enjoy the hanging out and playing part of it.  However, the thing that really sticks with me is how well designed just the core set is.  We were talking about one of the new Battle Packs (Omens of Ruin) and one of the cards that comes in it:  the Steam Tank.  Look at that thing!  7 health, only 4 resources if you control 3 other empire things, and it gains power every turn!  Pretty cool, right?  So, yes, it’s powerful, and given the opportunity to gain power, it has the potential to bowl you over late game.  Well, in the core box, there were several cards per faction that will just remove it.  Nothing you can do, the tank just goes away.

It’s really cool to me that the designers of this game still think about all the stuff that’s come out compared to what will come out.  I’m really looking forward to playing it more.

Weird Druid Bug

Looks like there were some unintended consequences.  Weird.

tldr version – Ghost Protector of the Pack talent for some folks @ cata launch.  Thick Hide hotfix either never took or was screwed up.  This go around the PotP talent thing was fixed, and the armor value was updated.  However, there’s some Attack Power thing going on now, too.  Weird stuff.

Sabotaging the Enemy: the Ethics of Gear (via Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual)

This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. I think there are several valid points here, not just on how the game handles at lower levels, but at the appropriate behavior.

Sabotaging the Enemy: the Ethics of Gear Sabotage: Level 10 PvP is my first PvP video, and I confess that I had a blast making it. I really enjoy the simplicity of low level PvP, especially on classes I don't know all that well, and hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it. But while making it, I found myself thinking about how I'd brought a gun to a knife fight. Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they … Read More

via Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

Being Sick is No Fun

Getting Revered with the Earthen Ring is the pits. It took me a good while. I don’t know if I need to get Exalted right now, but I’m thinking it will just take forever. Without dailies to supplement reputation gain, the only way to get rep with them is to do quests through Vashj’ir, Deepholm, the Twilight Highlands, and Grim Batol. The number that I came up with from quests available to the alliance side was a total of 19,830 reputation across 93 quests. that gets you almost to Revered without doing any dungeons. However, that means that you still have to grind out 21,000 more reputation without the benefit of a daily or two to help you out. I skipped Deepholm, which is where the majority of the quests are, so I’m going to go back and try to finish that zone out… also so I can unlock the Therazane Rep. Man, I’m so bad this expansion.

Anyway, this past weekend I was sick. Headache, sinus pressure, and post-nasal drip are the ultimate combination to kill the desire to do anything. I wanted to go down to the gaming shop (war gaming, tabletop gaming, nerd gaming – whatever), but I didn’t want to pull a patient zero. I was thanked by someone that was there when they texted me to come play, and I told them no.

The good news is, I got to finish one of the books I’ve been reading – Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett. I got the omnibus, since I think its rather difficult to come by the original novels in single format, and I read through most of it in the airport coming back from San Jose a few weeks ago. If you’re at all a fan of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, then this is one of the best books I’ve read. I made a mistake, though, by getting the Ravenor Omnibus and reading through part of that before reading this one. Nothing was really spoiled (Ravenor follows Eisenhorn in the chronology), but I knew that things were going to go WAY downhill in the last book of Eisenhorn. I mean, it’s a 40k novel, so things always get bad, but I wasn’t expecting how bad.

On to other news: I think that I’m going to put down my druid for a while. I’m a little flummoxed at how the shapeshifting nerf went to live, but I can cast my vote by contributing to the decrease in that particular class’s representation on live. I’ve been meaning to go back to my Hunter… at least to get him to the point to where I can fly and level through Archaeology. I’m over Outland content, and Northrend right now is miles away. I’m planning on doing some PVP, too, but even that’s an excercise.

The other option, though, is a little more intriguing. Psynister put the paladin interest in my court. I’m just not too keen on doing the Dranei starting area. Thankfully, someone reminded me */cough* that I could go somewhere else. I like the idea of having… another… class that can tank or heal.

I’ve also got my lowbie rogue. I need to get her the appropriate twink gear since Psynister and Cyn are keen on the idea, I should use their ideas to my own benefit. I was thinking about spending some JP on the dagger for an offhand, but I don’t know if I want to drop the JP for it. I know it would be useful, but I don’t know what other class would use it. The other option is to get the mace, but the same quandry presents itself. I think I’ll get both characters to 10, then see what strikes me as more fun to do. I have a hard time thinking about which way to go when I don’t have a talent tree to look at and guide me in game.