Monday, September 24, 2007

A Bit of a Lull

I haven't been playing WoW much lately but I thought I'd drop a line anyhow.

So what *have* I been doing? Well aside from studying for my Operations Management, Statistical Optimization Models, and International Business courses (ugh) I've been playing a lovely game by the name of Vanguard.

Sure, it's no WoW, but with the lull in content lately coming out of WoW I figured I'd step it up and pay 30$ a month to run pixels around *two* servers! Kidding aside Vanguard does have some amazing traits. Loads more areas to explore, infinitely more quests, Diplomacy, believable towns/cities, more classes, huge view distances, interesting crafting. In short Vanguard is a lot deeper. It simply has more content and presents players with a much more realistic world. Though it certainly loses out to WoW on performance, character customization(VG has no talent trees, AA points, feats, etc to distinguish your character from others of the same class) and an overall sense of "polish" which WoW possesses an excess of which VG is very much lacking.

Two different styles, really. Both are fun!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

DoT Itemization Woes

If you've ever played a Shadowpriest or Affliction Warlock in any depth (Or spoken with me in game to know truly how much I complain about this issue...) you'd know just how restrictive itemization is for these two specs. With a near complete reliance on +dmg once the hit cap is reached it leaves (in the best case) little room for thoughtful comparison of items that other classes get to make with one stat vs. another, etc. and (in the worst case) simply no clear upgrade within reach. +DMG +DMG +DMG! Push it to the limit! With 60-70% of our DPS consisting of spells that don't crit and are unaffected by spellhaste it leaves many items severly lacking in the +dmg department.

Either way, I don't want to bore you all with excessive math, though even without it it's rather easy to notice the problem we face. Now, by no means am I asking for outright buffs, or even complaining about my damage (I tend to be top 3 damage 90% of the time in our raids) but rather a change opening up itemization choice, moving away from the dull, restrictive and...honestly, moronic route of itemization these specs take. I'm complaining for my own benefit, but even more so for Shadowpriests as they have it even worse.

My further in depth with mechanic changes suggestion post on the WoW Suggestion forum. Please comment in the thread if you agree (or disagree!)

Also, here is an interesting thread specifically on Shadowpriest itemization, though there is much crossover for Afflocks as well.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Crusade Against Drain Life

...And The Nerf Brigade Just Keeps Coming!

In my previous post I detailed how Fear is about as unfair a mechanic as we see in the game. I feel I'm a pretty good judge for what's "OP" and what's not. Fear is one of them. Lately, however, as far as the WoW community is concerned (or at least a *very* vocal minority) Drain Life is the next skill on the list. Yes, there is a list. There's always a list. Since Warlocks became anything short of a free HK there has been a segment of the WoW population who has taken upon themselves to crusade against us. First it was Deathcoil. That lasted...nearly a year? Blizzard (rightfully) didn't relent so they quieted up for a bit. In patch 1.13 (TBC talents at level 60) there was a massive outcry about DoTs which did get hit with the nerfbat due to excessive scaling. Then it was Fear again, which got nerfed. Then for a brief period Fel Armor received some ill will, but come on...Fel Armor? Gimme a break. That died off without much of a fight. Then it was DoTs + Resilience, which did get a response, but nothing quite game breaking as many had hoped.

What's my point in listing all of those off? The nerf cries will always be there. We're an exceptional 1v1 class. People get their egos wounded over that. We're an annoying class. People don't like getting feared and don't like dying to DoTs after they kill us(FFS they won already! They proved the better, reaped the honor, etc. How can they have the audacity to complain about dying after the fact?) We're an easy target. I digress. They keep coming. They always will whether we're powerful or not. Let's face it, as the saying on the Warlock forum "They won't stop until we're left with Corruption and autowand" is quite true.

With a solid momentum from DoTs + Resilience the nerf criers have chosen a new target: Drain Life.

Is Drain Life a good skill? Sure. It's a staple in many a Warlock's arsenal. One, again, necessary to assist in keeping the Warlock alive for the DoT damage to deliver. The thing about all the complaints is they tend to focus on Drain Life and its use in 2v2/3v3 arena brackets in one specific build: 23/38/0. This build is make specifically to take a beating and slowly, ever so slowly, drain the life/mana from your foes. It does quite well, especially when teamed with Druids. The issue, however, isn't that Drain Life is particularly powerful. It's that Drain Life + Drain Mana + talents in this build provides + a specific partner = one powerful combo.

My point here, is that Drain Life isn't particularly overpowered in any sense. It's not some god skill in a deep Affliction spec. Felguard Locks don't have a claim to fame with Drain Life. The issue is this one particular talent spec in one particular area of the game. The question now to ask is...."Is this a bad thing?" It's a niche build. It excels using particular skill combos (of which Drain Life is one of) to exceed at one task. This build, however, is not some cure-all as far as specs go. It's mediocre in battlegrounds as the whole "drain everything they got" strategy doesn't extend beyond 3v3. Without UA or Felguard it's left rather flaccid, not to mention its complete ineptitude at dealing any form of burst damage. It's raid damage leaves much to be desired as well, and while it's not a terrible solo/5-man spec, it's not exactly stellar either.

No, Drain Life is balanced. It's quite powerful in one spec, a spec that has found it's place to be firmly in the 2v2 and 3v3 arena brackets. Something you can't say for other popular arena specs that do rather well in other areas of play. I, for one, haven't felt the slightest inclination to go back to 23/38/0. IMO it was quite boring and too limited. I find 43/7/11 to be a great one-size-fits-all spec that does moderately well in all areas of play. Which is the point of it all. You can have a niche spec or a generalist spec. I, for one, relish the idea of having these options. The game would become a terrible thing if everything were to become so dilituted as to remove these choice.

No, if you want to call nerf on anything I suggest raiding Mages set their sights on Seed of Corruption. The brokenness of this skill far exceeds anything the sniveling PvP forum whiners could ever grasp. Out damaging Mages in AoE is just heresy as far as I'm concerned...but that's another topic in itself ;)