Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nerf Fear? Actually...Yes!

In this entry I will discuss the many facets of Fear in regard to its relationship to Affliction in PvP, why it needs "nerfed", and with that being said why the role it currently fulfills is 100% necessary. Excessively ranty? Yes. Wanders off topic? You bet!

Fear...Fear...What's everyone have to say about Fear?

"I hate it!" You hate it. I hate it. Melee hates it. Casters hate it. Healers hate it. Even Warlocks hate it.

"It lasts forrrrrevveerrrrrr!"
"It breaks instantly."
"I got feared to death."
"There's too many ways to break it."
"It takes no skill."
"It's all we've got."

All of the above are correct. For as long as many of us can remember the WoW community has had a terrible relationship with Fear. It's so hated because it takes the control away. Nobody can argue with that. I don't disagree with the general assessment of it in the least. It's a primo #1 grade-A pain in the ass skill to put it bluntly. It's something of a necessity Affliction, however, and I'm going to tell you why. I'll be a little creative throwing around terminology here but bare with me.

In PvP you tend to have one of three types of classes/builds etc. some of which overlap to an extent:

  1. "Burst damage": You kill your target very quickly. Your survival hinges on destroying your target before they can fulfill their role. MS Warrior, Rogue, PoM Pyro Mage, etc.
  2. "Burst healer": Can heal yourself and teammates to full health relatively quickly. If bursted down you can use some form of CC(or have a teammate do so) to buy yourself time to remove your health deficit. Holy/Resto of the respective classes.
  3. "Can't touch this": Painfully difficult to kill through large amount of mitigation, escape skills, etc. Frost Mages, Prot Warriors, Demo Warlocks, etc.

The problem here is Affliction fits into none of these categories. "Burst damage"? No. "Burst healing"? Nope. "Can't touch this"? Not quite. The problem with Affliction (not that it's necessarily a problem in and of itself) is the fact that it's moderate in everything. It doesn't have massive burst. It can't heal a lot at once. Its escape tools aren't the most effective. Self heals require damage, staying alive to do damage requires time. Fear gives Affliction this precious time it so desperately needs.

Let's face it, folks, as strong as Affliction can be it's always an uphill fight whether we win or lose. All the other damage classes want us dead now and we want them dead later. To win a fight of efficiency is rather difficult when those you fight seek to end said fight before the matter of efficiency begins to matter. Drain Life, in order to reach effectiveness requires a target to be DoTed up for the Soul Siphon talent to kick in (Increases the amount drained by your Drain Life and Drain Mana spells by an additional X% for each Affliction effect on the target, up to a maximum of Y% additional effect.) Now you have the infamous 'DoT+Fear'. Oh, here comes the Drain Life spam. It's starting to heal....

...and one of three events occur:

  1. Fear breaks early. You die because the fight didn't reach anything approaching a reasonable duration for Affliction.
  2. Fear lasts a reasonable duration. The fight goes on to be determined by such elements as gear/skill/teamwork. (Ideal)
  3. Fear lasts 'forever'. You win through DoTlock. The other guy is screaming at the monitor and you feel like a cheap hooker for taking a win which truly displays no skill.

Fear tends to be 'hit or miss' in regard to its effectiveness.
The randomness factor it holds for being an activated ability is entirely too high to the harm of all, be it lasting too short, or too long. If you've either played as or against a Warlock and hold a perspective even somewhat resembling objectivity you'll be inclined to agree, no? Either way that was probably an excessively long winded passage pretty much saying this:

We need Fear, or at least something like it simply due to how Affliction functions.

"But Draele," you say. "Not every tree should be PvP viable. Some talent trees are meant for one part of the game, not all." To that I say: Fair enough, even though
Kalgan, AKA Tom Chilton, lead WoW developer in charge of game systems(class balance/PvP/etc.) seems to lean towards bringing the effectiveness of all specs up for PvP. Example here for Warriors(search for the word disparity) But you can't have your cake and eat it too. Why are Contagion and UA in the Affliction tree then? It's the PvE tree, right? RIGHT? Sure, make Affliction the "PvE" tree, but you'll have to replace these PvP talents with PvE focused variants. Or realize Affliction needs to be able to survive to apply itself in PvP. I am sorry that your ____ tree is no good for PvE or PvP. If it does it needs to be fixed. ultimately, don't dump your issues in my lap as an excuse for my issues. Too much of that nonsense goes on at the Blizzard forums anyhow. If something is broken it needs fixed, we don't need you justifying one problem with the existence of another. I digress...

Well, what do you propose to do? Well, I propose to do nothing, but I will offer some suggestions which I feel will rectify the problems fear creates while keeping it in the role which it was designed for.

1) Redesign Fear

It now breaks at a preset health percentage or stated duration (if used purely for CC) whichever occurs first. What would the preset damage percentage be? Enemy HP percentage of... (20% give or take?) seems fair, so you're feared at 100% when you hit 80% health it breaks. This would eliminate those outlier Fear durations like the 1 second insta-break, and the 100% to dead Fearlock.

2) Nerf Fear into the ground and alter existing abilities. (
As for Priests getting the trickle-down Warlock nerf make Psychic Scream a lower duration horror effect so it can be exempt from any Fear nerfs)

(Fear breaks on any and all damage. Now a purely CC skill) Probably the least desirable choice as there has been much whining on the subject of Drain Life as of late, and Deathcoil as always, but I'll throw it out there anyway. Either: Buff Fel Concentration to give added silence resistance/lowered silence duration. This would allow Drain Life to stand on it's own two feet. Though I'd be reluctant to buff a skill which isn't in the realm of diminishing returns and has no cooldown. Or: Drastically reduce the cooldown of Deathcoil to make it more staple and less "Oh Shit!" Again, likely not the popular choice.

3) Nerf Fear into the ground and give Warlocks something else.
(As for Priests getting the trickle-down Warlock nerf make Psychic Scream a lower duration horror effect so it can be exempt from any Fear nerfs)

(Fear breaks on any and all damage. Now a purely CC skill) Add completely new abilities to fill in the hole Fear left. Potentially with the new expansion? I have a couple of ideas which I'll share, both of which are much more 'debuff' and less 'CC'.

  • Corrupted Touch: Low cooldown 20-30 seconds. Reduces damage dealt by target foe by X% for Y seconds. This cooldown range is an interesting one since it requires proper timing, but isn't an "Oh shit!" button either, potentially usable multiple times per fight.
  • Void Field: Moderate cooldown 2-3 minutes. Reduces damage dealt by all foes in a 15 yard radius by X% for Y seconds. Group utility here. Fear nerf brings locks down a notch in 2v2 and Void field brings up group utility in 5v5.
  • Something else appropriate. Again, leaning towards the debuff side of things ends up making the game much more desirable for all. Character control for all means less griping and more fun. Fun is the goal, right?

Ultimately the goal (in my mind) is to remove the nuisance that is Fear and rework/replace it to achieve the same ends without extensive loss of character control, etc. The role Fear fullfills is quite necessary, but the annoyances and inequities it presents are simply not what I'd call good gameplay.

Thanks for reading and please leave comments and discussion as always!

Monday, August 20, 2007

New 3v3 Team

Sorry for the low post count the past few days! Between a busy weekend and my AB weekend honorwhoring(got my PvP ring!) I haven't gotten the chance to post anything worthwhile.

Started a new 3v3 team tonight aptly named "Instants R Us". The old Rogue/Paly/Warlock combo wasn't bad by any means, but it lacked a sense of focus that I knew could be achieved with other combos. (Plus the old 3v3 hadn't played in a while) I ended up making the 3v3 with Arv, my 2v2 Shadowpriest partner, and Melias, a Resto Druid whom I'd 5-manned with before. This combo was by design and I'm still surprised just how well it performed. Melias handles the nasty melee classes that screw us shadowy types up good(especially Warriors) with Cyclone, while Arv and I chew up casters, healers, Hunters, etc. I'm looking forward to future games with this combo as we really seem to have all the bases covered and the mobility we possess is simply astounding(DoTs/HoTs/Roots/Fears/etc) especially compared to the somewhat non-mobile Paly/Rogue team. Effective or not it's really just a more enjoyable combo for me and requires less...bending? of my playstyle to mesh together. Kiting works. Delaying works. Indirect combat works! Ah, I'm in arena heaven...

(Also, I promise to get a real article up in the next day or two. Expect a few paragraphs with ranting, suggestions, etc all about the most hated ability in the game: Fear, and its many pros, cons, annoyances, etc.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Talent Feedback Request on WoW Europe

So I was browsing the WoW Europe forums and noticed that every class forum has threads from CMs requesting feedback on talents. What's good? What's bad? Etc. Now my question is: Where's our request for feedback? Is the U.S. community really that ill tempered? Are we more biased? Or was this just an initiative on part of the EU CMs? Either way it would be nice to have some official form to submit feedback. It would be even nicer if the U.S. CMs communicated nearly as well as the EU CMs. Sadly, I glean more information from the Europe boards than ours...Wouldn't one think otherwise since we're "closer to the source" ? Eh, call me an information whore but this bugs me! Either way, if you're at all curious here's the links to the EU class forums:


If you'd like to submit similar feedback comment on/bump my post here and maybe our blues will set one up!

A Little Bit Closer!

So after getting some feedback I've made several tweaks/changes to the level 80 talent trees which I've posted before here. Transformation was popular for many, but it was just as unpopular for many others. Replaced it with Fel Absorption which in addition to being nice on it's own accord has great synergy with Demonic Revenge. Reverted Pestilence to Blasphemy. Pestilence just didn't seem worth it, and while Blasphemy may be a little over the top it's tough to find something neither over/underpowered for Affliction.

Talent Tree
Forum Discussion

Please do post in the thread or leave comments here on what you think!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back on the Horse!

So after several weeks hiatus from the arena(I had a not-so-friendly 3v3 encounter a few weeks back several games in a row with Rogue + Enhancement Shaman + Windfury + Bloodlust = Draelemush. Let's just say you couldn't force me to queue for an arena for a while there) Now I'm back, however, doing 2v2(in the meantime as least) with Arv. Affliction + Shadow is a fine combo, so fine a combo in fact we went 10-0 on day 1. Spectacular? No. Most of the teams were below 1500 and quite terrible, but after leaving the arena system on such a sour note it felt good to get in there and kick ass on the rebound. It should be an easy run to 1800.

More Dawts! :D

Monday, August 13, 2007

This Week in Raiding (AKA "Come Back Jandari!")

So this was an interesting week...

Tuesday: We spent the entire raid on Hydross. He's not on full farm yet, but I think we're getting close. We downed him, but it will sure be nice when we can 1-shot his ass and move on to Lurker, Tidewalker, and maybe even Fathomlord all in one day!

Wednesday: Yeah...So our raid leader, Jandari, is on vacation and backup raid leader, Arv, isn't raiding tonight. So guess who gets the honor? Your's truly, of course! Now let's be honest here: I'd consider myself a damned good Warlock, but raid leader? Psh! I think Thunderhorn's finest, Fenrir(Anyone else remember that jackass?) would do a better job as raid leader than me. Thankfully, Kujo was there to set the pulls up leaving me to master loot. /salute Kujo. We got Lurker and Void Reaver no problem then called it an early night.

Thursday: "FLOOD OF THE DEEP, TAKE YOU!" If I've heard this once I've heard it too many times. Let's just say we heard this phrase many times over the course of the night and nobody was rewarded for putting up with it. On the bright side there are tales of guilds with Vashj on farm that still wipe to Tidewalker a few times before dropping him. I guess he's just one of those fights?

Sunday: A nice recovery to end our week in raiding. We got both Tidewalker and Fathomlord with some time to spare. It's always nice to end the raid week on a high note! Although World Breaker really needs to quit dropping!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I just realized this color scheme looks like camo. Something I may have to remedy...

Level 80 Talent Trees (AKA WotLK Anticipation)

Ah, insomnia at its best. 11:00 AM and still not asleep!

Warlocks@Level 80

Do keep in mind when judging these that nothing was done in a vacuum. Other classes will be getting new talents too! I've tried to be pretty balanced with everything, but ultimately the concept is what matters, not the exact numbers. Also, do make sure to look at all the talents, some of the old ones were tweaked as well.

If you're at all interested in all the iterations the trees have taken you should check out my thread on the Blizzard forums. I started with a few ideas, added to them, tweaked them, took feedback from the Warlock community, and this is what we're with now. Do post in that thread to leave feedback and maybe we can see version 5. With enough positive feedback ...and keeping the thread bumped enough... maybe Kalgan himself might look at it and get an idea what kind of talents we'd like to see. (As an aside, after seeing the devs on the Blizzcon videos they seem like pretty likable dudes, which is kinda funny since they seem like such jerks in their forum posts :P)

Some Possible Upcoming Articles

Here's a list of things I'd like to cover over the coming weeks:
  • "Talent trees" Just some thoughts on the talent trees and some of my created level 80 versions up on unleashed gaming, along with tweaks, explanations. etc.
  • "The State of Fear" I'd touch on the pros and cons such an ability grants, why we're so hated for it, and what should be done about it.
  • "DoT Gear" A rant on how Affliction/Shadowpriest gear is so terrible post-Karazahn with some possible solution(s).
  • "DoTs vs. DD in PvP" A possibility here. Pointing out some of the advantages, shortcomings, clarifications, etc. We're such cheap bastards abusing line of sight, yet we must to survive.
  • "Debuffs?" I'd hit on why I'd like to see the class taken more in this direction and be less DPS focused.
  • "Mages, the other caster." I'd touch on why I think Mages could use some buffs, and why that shouldn't bother us as Warlocks.
  • Northrend thoughts and speculations.
  • Deathknight theorycrafting (once info is released!)
  • Hero classes. Good concept, but not what I expected/hoped.
  • Raid goings-on. Good week, bad week, funny pulls, etc.
  • PvP/arena goings-on.
  • Maybe some more real life junk thrown in. (Interesting stuff only)

A New Toy!

Generally I'll refrain from posting too many non-WoW related articles(you certainly won't see me whining about how my pet died, or how awesome or terrible my love life is), but this one is recent in my mind and the blog needs some content starting off so I figured...why not?

So a couple years back I lent my buddy my bass guitar. I didn't play much and wasn't very good so it wasn't that big of a deal. A few months back I ask him if I can have it back because I'm wanting to play it. He says he'll get it to me. Time goes by and I don't get it. I ask again, he says he'll get it back. So last week we're out at a bar and he tells me he can't find it. He explains that something must have happened to it in the move(he had moved out a few months prior) and explains he'd buy me a new one.

So yesterday we go out to Guitar Center. He tells me to find one I like in fair price range. I pick me out a nice wood finished 4 string Peavey Grind bass. Between a sale they had going on and him being friends with the manager there we got a 600$ MSRP bass for around half price. I'm pleased to say the least. The bass is sharp looking and has a great tone. I like it better than my old bass already! I look online at reviews and come to find out it's rated as one of the best basses for the price range. So not only did my friend buy me a bass for rather cheap, but I, in my limited knowledge picked out one of the better basses in the joint. That made my day!

27/34/0, Ugh!

Probably not a great precedent to set, but I guess I'll make my first real post a whine. I hate 27/34/0. "Why not respec?" you ask? Well, unfortunately I'm stuck with this spec for tanking our good buddy, Leotheras the Blind, in Serpentshrine Cavern. I'm stuck, at least, until I can farm up enough heroic badges to get my FR set high enough to not have to rely on the Felhunter's Master Demonologist buff. Why do I hate it so much? It's a great spec to be sure, but I've grown...dependent? on a few key deep Affliction abilities over the past several months. Unstable Affliction, Dark Pact, Instant Howl of Terror; my muscle memory won't let me *not* use them. Ah, 43/7/11, I miss you so...Only forty badges to go! Yeah, only forty...I could spec back between raids I suppose, but it's such a hassle. Tanks, healers, I certainly feel ya on respecs now...

And It Begins...

(So after an hour or so of tweaking the colors, setting, etc for the blog I'm finally up and running. I opted to go with an greenish grey/black/white scheme. Let me know if it's tough on the eyes and I'll tweak it some more.)

On to introductions!

I'm Draele, 70 Warlock on Thunderhorn. I've been a gamer since the age of 4 (Super Mario Brothers still kicks ass!) Over the course of my gaming career I've developed certain tendencies that I feel define me as a gamer. I play the slow game in most every way. Wars of attrition. I wear you down. Direct combat was never really an intriguing play style to me. It works for many, but to me it lacks a certain...elegance that wearing the other guy down has.

In Texas Hold'em I play very conservatively. I play few hands. Very little all-ins. I rarely bluff. And when I do I'm feared across the table because they think "I better back down, this guy has the cards if he's playing them." In the long run I come out ahead.

In RTS games I was a big boomer(*cough* turtle *cough*). I loved to build a strong economy and wear my enemy down over time with fast units using hit-and-run tactics. Over a period of time they'd lose more units than me. I'd kill their gatherers slowing their economy. Do this enough and they'd be effectively crippled. Then I could finish them off at my leisure when I felt it was safe.

Even in Diablo 2 I played a rather unique character. I was big on the "Meleemancer" archetype- a sort of Necromancer built to utterly cripple their opponent. While it lacked a strong offense it could CC large amounts of enemies with Dim Vision, debuff my focus target with a maxed Clay Golem and Decrepify, and wear them down with my melee attacks. Slow going, but unique and fun as hell.

I think I make my point. I really, really, like playing a defensive/crippling play style. There's a certain fun factor to it I just can't explain. Do I enjoy watching my enemies squirm? Yep. Is it the sheer efficiency you can employ by playing D? Certainly. Do I like ruining the plans of my foes who think they can just mow me over in one fell swoop? Most certainly. No, there will be no "shock and awe" when fighting me, you better strap in because I'm in it for the long haul.

As you can see the Affliction Warlock was the natural choice for me when I came to WoW. Efficiency, longevity, and indirect combat tactics. All facets of gaming I've come to embrace over my years. Call it dull, call it cheap, call it what ever you like...but I love it!