Nov 102014
 

blizzcon-2014From browsing around the Internet, there’s a lot of mixed feelings about this Blizzcon. Pretty much, the people who were there in person thought it was awesome (how often do you get to see Blizzard announce a new IP?) but the people watching on Virtual Ticket weren’t so happy, due to there being no WoW news at all.

Let’s recap!

Overwatch

My prediction: No new franchises.

Actual: Swing and a miss. :) In retrospect, it makes sense; that time gap in the schedule had to be for “SOMETHING,” after all. 0/1 points.

Overwatch looks stellar. It’s very similar to Team Fortress 2 in many ways, but with a dash of MOBA flavor. Most shooters go for a limited set of classes or loadouts; Overwatch is going for LOTS of classes (“heroes”) that all fall into 4  archetypes. I can’t think of a shooter that’s tried this since the ill-fated Shadowrun (which was ahead of its time) on PC/360, though I’m definitely not a shooter expert. I will probably play it some, but in general, I agree with Azuriel (which I tend to do). I’ve always preferred IoC/AV over WSG/TP, largely because I know my lack of PvP skill will impact the team less. Similarly, that’s why I’ve been okay playing Battlefield or Planetside 2, but tend to shy away from things like Call of Duty or Halo.

It’ll do well (when does Blizzard make anything that doesn’t?), but I can see the “no restriction on hero selection”  balancing being a major issue. I was already hearing stories of people playing at Blizzcon and stacking multiple Reinhardts. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the competitive play mode ban multiples of the same hero.

Warcraft/World of Warcraft

My prediction: No new WoW news except a patch 6.1 teaser, No WC1-3 remake news, Trailer for Warcraft Movie.

Actual: There was absolutely NO new WoW info at Blizzcon, which I think is a first. They obviously didn’t want to take any focus off of Overwatch, but judging by the coverage, you’d almost think it was one of their older games they were remenbering fondly, not an active game. There was also no news about the remake of the earlier Warcraft games.

There was a Warcraft movie trailer, and the movie panel was very impressive. Unfortunately, you had to physically be at Blizzcon to see the trailer. They did put out a tentative release date of March 2016 for the movie, which is very interesting, timeline-wise. Seems to me that Blizzcon 2015 would be a perfect time to announce the Warcraft remakes and the next WoW expansion, shooting for release around the movie’s release. Anyway, 2.75/3 points, deducting a quarter point for no patch 6.1 news.

Starcraft 2

My prediction: Legacy of the Void announcement, playable, no date.

Actual: Nailed this one, but this was pretty much a given. They had to say something about SC2 this year. 1/1 points.

Diablo 3

My prediction: New D3 expansion announced.

Actual: Nope, just information about Season 2, which has a little bit of new stuff, but is the WoW equivalent of just adding a new quest hub. I’m surprised by this; I though they would have learned from their mistake of not pushing more expansions for Diablo 2, while it still had a large following. 0/1 points.

Hearthstone

My prediction: New expansion announced, Ulduar-themed. No date, Winter 2015 timeframe.

Actual: Wow. I was NOT expecting a new expansion pack this early (next month!), or the Goblins vs. Gnomes theme. Blizzard is pivoting here; they brought in an initial fanbase with the WoW hooks, but now they’re going hard after mobile users. Half credit for at least getting the mechanical theme right, .5/1 points.

Heroes of the Storm

Prediction: No major features announced, open beta Winter 2015.

Actual: Well, they said “closed” beta in January instead of open beta, but time will tell how closed that actually is. They did announce a couple of new game modes which are clones of other MOBA game modes. Half credit again, .5/1 points.

  • New Hearthstone expansion, with cards for new WoW figures and Ulduar. No date, maybe a timeframe.
  • Heroes of the Storm: no major new features, just announcement of open beta timeframe for Winter 2015.

Overall, I didn’t do too bad (4.75/8 in my arbitrary scoring system) except for not predicting Overwatch. Looking forward to Blizzcon 2015, I think you’ll see the pendulum swing back towards WoW and Diablo, with expansion announcements (WoW’s will probably be Legion-themed), plus more on Overwatch.

 Posted by at 9:15 am
Oct 252014
 

I hope everyone enjoyed their first week of 6.0! I’ve been busy playing and farming far too many Tricky Treats for pets, so here’s a quick roundup of some of last week’s events that I didn’t work up a full post for.

The ElvUI backdoor

A week ago, a backdoor was discovered within ElvUI. As documented by this Reddit post, a group of people started doing odd things in an LFR; one person investigated and found that ElvUI contained code that allowed Elv to remotely issue commands to any character that was using ElvUI. Talarian investigated further and found that this backdoor could theoretically have enabled editing friendslists, deleting/creating macros, deleting/creating keybinds, deleting gear, force quitting, and possibly disbanding guilds/mailing gold.

As you can imagine, this is quite upsetting; ElvUI and TukUI are widely beloved and used in the WoW community for their clean, modern look, compared to Blizzard’s default UI. Unfortunately, I find Elv’s justification of “this was just some developer commands that got left in for testing” wholly disingenuous, considering a) the code commits implementing the backdoor from 2013 are titled “new toy” and “this is too fucking evil,” among others and b) there was no apology or even notification on the ElvUI blog of the backdoor, just a quiet removal of the offending code. Frankly, I’m disappointed, and I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone continue to use anything developed by Elv.

The Running of the Raids

So, everything is nerfed quite a bit, and I was able to get through quite a bit of old content. Everything from WOTLK is quite easily doable, with Ulduar 25H and ICC 25H falling over without much complaint. (TotC 25H’s Gormok abilities were not scaled properly, but that was hotfixed later in the week.) Dreamweaver is even doable with HOTW-healing.

Cataclysm (as you might expect) is a bit more challenging. I decided to try 25 Normal for the first attempts, and I was able to fully clear Firelands that way, with several wipes (Plumb forgot about the first tier of raids.)  Some bosses are burstable as Feral and nearly require it (Baleroc) but I was generally stuck in Guardian. I was able to clear the first four bosses of Dragon Soul on 25N, but was not able to do Ultraxion, so dropped back to 10N for the rest. Next time I go in, I’ll try heroic 10 and see how that goes. Spine is ridiculously annoying though; you basically have to spend the entire fight doing racetrack patterns around his back to keep him from rolling.

The Great SoO Nerfing

So I got all the gear I’ve been missing out on. :) Business Time did a Heroic (former Normal) run of SoO to knock off the rust and get everyone back to raiding speed, and we one-shot everything, which was unexpected. My damage wasn’t the greatest, but that was before I went up about 15 item levels, so I can’t really compare. Apparently Mythic is just as easy, but I think I’m geared enough for WoD at this point.

Feral Buffs and Fixes

A round of feral hotfixes went out to bring up damage, which appears to have left us in a pretty strong position. It’s hard to get accurate data with everything dying so fast now, though. I’d estimate that we’re definitely top tier in single-target damage, at least.

Finally, Jeshu has completed a beta version of Ovale for 6.0, so your wonderful move suggester is back. We’re actively taking feedback to improve Ovale and the Simulationcraft action priority list on our forums, so head over there if you want to contribute. Traffic has ticked up to the forums substantially since 6.0 released; it’s good to see so many new (and old) ferals stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 1:31 am
Oct 142014
 

Guide Status: Updated for 6.0, some level 100 material to be added.

Greetings. I’m Chase Hasbrouck (aka Alaron), formerly of WoW Insider. I’ve been blogging and writing about Druids since Wrath of the Lich King, and I’m here today to teach you everything you need to know about playing a feral druid in Warlords of Draenor, WoW 6.0. Let’s begin!

(Author’s Note: This guide is targeted at the intermediate WoW player. I will include links to guides that cover concepts in more detail where appropriate.)

Changes in 6.0

While we didn’t see the huge change that we did in 5.0, feral got quite a few tweaks across the board. If you’re already familiar with how to play feral and just want a summary of what’s changed, check out my Feral Druid Changes in Patch 6.0 post. As a short recap, though:

  • Hit/Expertise is gone. Two new secondary stats have been added; Versatility (flat buff) and Multistrike (chance to double hit). Reforging is gone.
  • Snapshotting is gone; no more stacking super-powerful bleeds.
  • Combo Points are on the player, not the target.
  • Mangle is gone. Ravage/Pounce are gone, and functionality folded into Shred/Rake from Stealth.
  • Level 90 talents no longer affect damage.

IntroductionHorkin Figluster, Art by Dave Kendall

What are feral druids? Well, we’re the druid melee DPS class, and we kill things, fast and stylishly. Overall, we’re similar to rogues (we have stealth, energy, and wear agility leather), but there’s less stealth and poison and much more bleeding.

Our primary resource is energy. We have a 100-point pool of energy that all of our abilities draw from, which regenerates at 10 energy/second (increasable via haste). Our basic attack, Shred, costs 40 energy, so we can chain together 3 when starting with a full bar; after that, we have to use an energy regeneration ability or simply wait. However, there’s more than just energy to deal with.

Our secondary resource is combo points. Each of our basic attacks generates a combo point, which can be stacked up to 5 and can then be consumed by other abilities known as “finishers” to increase their damage. In almost all cases, you will want to use finishers with a full 5 combo points to maximize their effectiveness. Thankfully, it’s now much easier to do that; Warlords of Draenor changes combo points to store them on the player, rather than the target. This means you can freely change targets without losing your current combo points.

Feral Strengths
  • Speed. With Cat Form’s innate speed buff, Dash, and Stampeding Roar, cats are one of the most mobile roles in the game, bar none. As raid encounters continue to get more complex and require more movement, the ability of cats to open and close range quickly becomes essential.
  • Self-healing.  We have multiple self-healing abilities that can be used in-form; we also can glyph for a permanent 20% healing done (to us) increase. We will not stress healer mana.
  • Best off-role potential. With the Heart of the Wild talent, we can jump into tanking or healing temporarily and “save the day,” if necessary.
Feral Weaknesses
  • Complicated rotation. Feral is easy to learn, but hard to master. A vast chunk of our damage potential comes from damage-over-time effects and self-buffs; you have to juggle these to keep them up. This has been considerably simplified for WoD, however.
  • Area-of-Effect damage. Our basic AoE attack, Swipe, is very weak. We can do competitive AoE damage, but it involves rapidly switching targets and applying Rake to each, which is difficult. While final damage balancing for Warlords of Draenor is still being done, it was common in Mists of Pandaria raiding to assign feral druids to full-time boss damage.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:04 pm
Oct 102014
 

I understand some people are still pushing SoO raiding for a month at 90, so here’s a quick bare-bones addendum to my preparing for 6.0 guide that addresses that. These are VERY abstracted solutions; for more in-depth info, go read Aggixx’ guide on the forums.

Rotation, single-target: Drop Thrash, otherwise stays the same. Open from Stealth to get the free 5cp Savage Roar.

Rotation, multi-target: Don’t bother with Swipe; Thrash + Rake.

Secondary Stats: Agi > Crit or Mult > Vers > Mastery > Haste. (Invert Haste and Mastery if optimizing solely for single-target.) Crit is more than 50% of Agi, so it’s worth gemming for pure crit. Mastery and Haste are toss-ups.

Enchants and Consumables: Currently, many Cata (and a few pre-Cata) items are better than their MoP equivalents due to oddness with now the stat squish affected things. It may get fixed, it may not.

Talents: Force of Nature is significantly better than the other options for single-target, if you can consistently follow optimal treant usage (use all when trinket procs, otherwise use 1 charge only when you get 3). SOTF is better for AoE or if you don’t want to bother with treants.

Glyphs: Savage Roar, Cat Form, your choice.

 

 

 Posted by at 5:06 pm
Oct 062014
 

WoD logoIt’s that time again! My full guide for feral in 6.0 will be out soon; like most, I wait until the last week before expansion release to try to incorporate as much of the last-minute changes as I can. (*cough* and to wait to see who else does work that I can use as…inspiration. Yeah.) That said, for those of you that haven’t gotten deep into numbers or betas, or are just returning to WoW, here’s some things to think about when 6.0.X hits the live servers, likely on Oct 14th. Luckily, things are changing much less than they did when MoP rolled around.

(Latest PTR patch notes, which may be not 100% up to date.)

Universal Changes

Character stats squished. Smaller numbers across the board, don’t freak out. Everything is about 10% of what it used to be, so don’t freak if you’re suddenly doing only 10k DPS instead of 150k.

Agility no longer gives extra Crit and now only gives 1 AP, BUT AP is 400% more powerful and we get 15% crit baseline. TLDR: Nothing to see here, agility is still good.

Hit/Exp gone, Reforging gone, Enchanting/Gemming reduced. This cuts down on some of the gymnastics required when you get a new piece of gear, but also makes it harder to really optimize a character. More when I look at secondary stats.

All leather gear has both Agility and Intellect. Only one primary stat is active at a time, depending on your spec. This means you can share gear between Feral/Guardian and Balance/Resto, though you’ll still need two sets of jewelry and two weapons.

Multistrike and Versatility added. Multistrike gives a chance to proc additional hits/abilities/spells at 30% strength, while Versatility gives a small across-the-board buff; increases damage/healing, reduces damage taken. Again, more when we cover secondary stats.

Snapshotting is mostly gone. For those that don’t know, this was the strategy where you attempted to get as many procs stacked up as possible (potion, trinket, etc.) and get DoTs up while the procs were up. Procs dropped, but the DoTs continued to tick for massive damage. (Especially if you were Feral and the boss was below 25%, letting you roll super-Rip for the rest of the fight.)

They played around with what effects would and would not snapshot, but it’s finally come down to this; innate abilities will snapshot, external procs will not. This means Savage Roar, Tiger’s Fury, and Bloodtalons will continue to affect your DoTs even if you shift out of form, let SR drop, or something to that effect. The potion you used pre-DoT, though, will boost the damage while it’s active, and won’t while it’s not. IMO, this is a good change, but if you were still hanging on to Rune of Re-Origination, this pretty much kills it (of course, you’re going to lose reforging to optimize it as well).

Racials changed a bit. Night Elves (best race): gain 2% passive movement speed, 1% Haste OR Crit, depending on time of day (yeah, weird). Tauren: gain 2% crit/healing done. Troll: Berserking reduced to 15%, no more damage increase against Beasts. Worgen: no change.

No combat gain from Professions. Goodbye, Synapse Springs macros, I won’t miss you. This only applies to direct buffs, like extra stats; there will still be epic gear you can craft as an LW, or super flasks as an Alchemist, etc. Most profession things are no longer exclusive.

Combat rezzes now slowly regenerate based on raid size. 90 divided by the number of members in the raid (so 9 minutes for 10-man, 4.5 minutes for 20-man, 3.6 minutes for 25-man, etc.) Rez charges also are not deducted until the member accepts the rez.

There’s a lot more stuff, but read the full patch notes for that; I’d like to jump into the class changes.

Feral Changes

Combo Points are on the player now, instead of the target. Just let that sink in for a while. 3 adds and a boss? Rake all 3 and Rip the boss, if you feel inclined. I can’t stress enough how great this is. However, this does mean that your multi-target game will need to be on point in WoD for maximum performance, especially with the addition of Lunar Inspiration. If you don’t have a good method of tracking DoTs on multiple targets, it’s a good time to figure that out.

Cat Mangle is gone. Shred no longer requires you to be behind the target. But you’re a good little kitty, so you will stay behind the target to avoid parries.

Rip extensions and refreshment (via FB below 25%, aka Blood in the Water) is gone. Rip is now 24 seconds baseline, however, so the extensions are built in. EDIT: Rips can still be refreshed by FB, I was looking at the non-feral FB tooltip.

Swipe/Thrash can now generate Combo Points via Primal Fury. Another quality-of-life change that makes AoE rotations easier (though tab-raking is likely better).

Ravage/Pounce are gone. Shred from Stealth is basically Ravage, and Rake from Stealth is basically Pounce.

Innervate and Tranquility are gone. HoTW is still here, so you can still hit that and heal everything to save the day, but it won’t be with Tranquility, which is now resto-only.

Weakened Armor debuff is gone. RIP, Faerie Fire.

Barkskin, Might of Ursoc, and Symbiosis are gone; SI nerfed. Yes, this means ferals just took a massive hit to survivability, compared to the last expansion. This is balanced out to a degree with better self-healing (more on that in a bit) but if you enjoyed being the raid soaker, sorry. If you didn’t, congratulations!

Tiger’s Fury and Berserk are no longer coupled. If you accidentally Berserk before hitting TF, you can hit it now without losing TF uptime. Good change.

Glyphs, Perks and Talents

New glyphs. There’s a few more choices out there. Note that several of these are exclusive, meaning you can pick one or the other.

  • Glyph of Savagery or Glyph of Savage Roar. The old glyph of Savagery (0 CP Savage Roars) is gone. Now, we have these two choices; either GoS, which provides a passive always-on Savage Roar at 75% effectiveness, or GoSR, which is a free 5 CP Savage Roar when opening from Stealth. Pretty easy choice; Savagery is one of those “good for learning, bad for optimal DPS” choices. GoSR massively buffs Incarnation, though it was buggy last time I tested, so I’m not sure if that’s intended or not.
  • Glyph of Cat Form or Glyph of the Ninth Life. We now have an alternative to the 20% healing glyph; 10% damage reduction. I think Cat Form is still preferred, but there’s definitely certain situations where you’d want to switch.
  • Lots of choices for the third slot, mostly situational. Ferocious Bite is still a decent generic option; soloers may prefer Dash.

Perks. Perks are granted randomly (ugh) at levels 92, 94, 96, and 98.

  • Enhanced Berserk – Energy increased by 50 while Berserk is active.
  • Enhanced Prowl – Removes the movement speed penalty from Prowl.
  • Enhanced Rejuvenation – You can cast Rejuvenation while in Bear Form or Cat Form.
  • Improved Rake – Your Rake deals 100% additional damage when used while stealthed (or during Incarnation).

Hello, renamed Primal Madness / Glyph of Prowl. You were handy but mostly irrelevant, and the same will remain for WoD. (though GoP was nice for soloing). Enhanced Rejuvenation is a much bigger deal; combined with the new Dream of Cenarius and the “everybody partially damaged all the time” model, the potential exists for some significant healing. Finally, Improved Rake is nice for soloing, but the benefits in a group are fairly minor.

Talent Changes/Additions

  • Tier 1: No changes.
  • Tier 2: Healing amounts tweaked.
  • Tier 3: Typhoon’s range reduced to 15 yds.
  • Tier 4: No changes, save the changes in abilities usable during stealth for Incarnation.
  • Tier 5: No changes.
  • Tier 6: All damage effects removed; now solely effects that contribute to off-healing. HOTW + Wrath spam reduced in damage. DoC now increases HT/Rejuv healing by 20%, and causes those effects to heal you as well when you heal another. NV is now just additional splash healing. (Yes, this is going to be bad for your DPS for the month you’re stuck at level 90.)
  • Tier 7: New Level 100 talents!
    • Lunar Inspiration – Moonfire now usable while in Cat Form, generates 1 CP and deals damage based on AP. A ranged Rake, basically. Will likely be the go-to talent for fights with lots of movement/multiple targets.
    • Bloodtalons –  Healing Touch causes next two melee abilities to deal 30% additional damage. A reborn DoC, works effectively the same way. Likely best for single-target and mass AoE.
    • Claws of ShirvallahAlternate Cat Form that allows the use of all non-damaging Druid spells while shapeshifted, and increases versatility by 5%. Hugely popular talent due to the new form, but not likely to be optimal for raiding. Good choice for those that don’t want to mess with learning LI/BT, good for PvP, good for fights requiring dispels, etc.

Feral Analysis

Here’s the fun part, where I look at numbers and try to guess trends. Please note that all of this stuff can and will change up to release.

Bleeds down, direct damage up. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that Blizzard constantly goes back and forth on how much damage our bleeds vs. our direct damage abilities should do. Too much, and PvPers complain about being “bleed kited.” Too little, and they complain about “too much burst from Berserk.” I think the lesson is “PvPers complain,” but nevertheless: Bleeds are falling off somewhat in WoD. Rake and Rip are still cornerstones of the rotation, but they’ve gone from being ~50% of our damage to about 35%.

The big beneficiary: Ferocious Bite. It hit very weakly in MoP, and didn’t see much use as it was our lowest DPE ability, except for Shred/Mangle. (For comparison’s sake; it hit for about the same as Shred + 1 tick.) It’s been brought back in a big way, though, being changed to have a much higher crit chance + hit harder overall.

Stat weights. As you can imagine, this change has greatly affected how we value secondary stats. Here’s an early look (VERY much still in flux, don’t rage yet). Note that this is for a generic profile (preraid, no set bonuses, SOTF/CoS) as active talents will change things; for example, LI does not scale with Mastery but does with Haste.

  • Weapon DPS: 5.57
  • Agility: 4.94
  • Crit: 1.90
  • Multistrike: 1.67
  • Mastery: 1.48
  • Versatility: 1.45
  • Haste: 1.32

Overall, not terrible, but Haste pieces will likely make you sad. It’s also odd not stacking Mastery after having done so for two expansions.

Level 90 DPS. Not going to be that good. Sorry. If you really need to optimize, change gems over to agility/crit and find an alternative to Rune of Re-Origination, if you’re still using it.

That’s it for now! The full guide will incorporate much of this material, but just what’s here should be enough to get experienced ferals up to speed. Good luck with your drops!


I understand some people are still pushing SoO raiding for a month at 90, so here’s a quick bare-bones addendum to my preparing for 6.0 guide that addresses that. These are VERY abstracted solutions; for more in-depth info, go read Aggixx’ guide on the forums.

Rotation, single-target: Drop Thrash, otherwise stays the same. Open from Stealth to get the free 5cp Savage Roar.

Rotation, multi-target: Don’t bother with Swipe; Thrash + Rake.

Secondary Stats: Agi > Crit or Mult > Vers > Mastery > Haste. (Invert Haste and Mastery if optimizing solely for single-target.) Crit is more than 50% of Agi, so it’s worth gemming for pure crit. Mastery and Haste are toss-ups.

Enchants and Consumables: Currently, many Cata (and a few pre-Cata) items are better than their MoP equivalents due to oddness with now the stat squish affected things. It may get fixed, it may not.

Talents: Force of Nature is significantly better than the other options for single-target, if you can consistently follow optimal treant usage (use all when trinket procs, otherwise use 1 charge only when you get 3). SOTF is better for AoE or if you don’t want to bother with treants.

Glyphs: Savage Roar, Cat Form, your choice.

 Posted by at 9:00 am
Sep 262014
 

Proven Assailant AlaronIf you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve heard my lamentations and exultations with the Proving Grounds’ endless mode. Having completed it successfully after a few nights of attempts, I’ll share my advice and notes for those wanting that “Proven Assailant” title prior to it’s removal in 6.0, and also briefly discuss getting Gold for your off-specs and the “You’re Doing it Wrong” achievement.

WARNING: This is much more challenging to complete than Brawler’s Guild. Those fights, excepting Hexos, are made much easier by gear.  Proving Grounds, by contrast, scale all your gear to ilvl 463, There’s a few exceptions to this (which I’ll discuss below), but largely, your skill at planning a strategy and executing it will be what carry the day.

An Introduction to Proving Grounds

For those that are completely new to Proving Grounds, it’s a new set of solo challenges that were added in Patch 5.4, and can be reached by speaking to your class trainer or Trial Master Rotun. There’s a challenge for each group role, namely tank, healer, and damage, and four levels of difficulty for each challenge: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless.

Each challenge features waves of enemies that you must defeat by following your role. In the Damage challenge, waves of enemies spawn that must be killed within that wave’s time limit. In the Tank challenge, a friendly NPC heals and DPS’s for you, and you must keep both of you alive. Finally, in the Healer challenge, a full NPC party spawns, and you must keep all of them alive.

The Bronze and Silver challenges are relatively simple, and are designed to familiarize you with the different enemy types you’ll be facing. (Completing a Silver Proving Grounds challenge will be required to queue for heroic dungeons in WoD.) The Gold challenge is a “final exam” of sorts, roughly equivalent to a raid in terms of difficulty.

Endless mode starts out similar to a remixed version of Gold, but instead repeats itself after completing 10 waves. Each wave increases the damage output or HP of the mobs by 1%, so Wave 11 will be identical to Wave 1, but with 10% more damage or HP. You keep going until you fail; the title and highest achievement require completion through Wave 30. Endless mode scores are also part of your armory profile, so if you desire, you can compete with others for high scores. (As of writing this, I’m the US-8th/World-29th druid, which mostly proves that people do it once and quit. :P)

Gearing for Greatness

Let’s start with the bad news. All gear is scaled down to ilvl 463. (Anything below is not scaled up.) All set bonuses are disabled, as are items from the legendary questline: Sha-Touched gems, legendary metagems, or legendary procs do not work. No consumables are allowed.

The good – all stats from food, flasks, enchants, gems, and profession bonuses work and are not scaled in any way. All raid buffs are provided.

What does this mean? First, it’s incredibly important that you maximize these unscaled stats. Eat 300-level food, drink a MoP flask, get your professions caught up if you’ve neglected them, etc. At 463, your gear is only providing around ~13k agility, unlike the 25-30k agility it normally does, so a food/flask has far more effect.

deadeye badge tooltipSecond, consider building an exclusive challenge mode set. Basically, an item’s worth can be measured in the number of sockets it has and its socket bonus. This leads to some non-conventional items being cosnidered good; for example, Dashing Strike Treads, an ilvl 463 set of boots, is one of the best choices available, due to the yellow socket + agility socket bonuses. This guide lists some of the best items for each slot. Once you have your items, you’ll want to reforge them for the level 92 expertise/hit cap of 6%, then mastery. I highly recommend the JP trinket Deadeye Badge of the Shieldwall (or the Horde equivalent). It’s easy to obtain (what the hell else are you doing with your JP currently?) and the cooldown lines up perfectly with the waves. I macroed mine in with Tiger’s Fury.

(Do you “need” to farm a PG set, spend money on enchants/gems for blues, etc. to do this? Well, it’s up to you. I screwed up and had a Cataclysm flask instead of a MoP flask on my last night of attempts; that night, I also had several wipes with enemies at <5% HP. That 700 agility would’ve saved me several hours of attempts. I’d rather spend a bit of time and money optimizing than a lot of time wiping. Note that you don’t die if you wipe on an attempt, which means food will last its full duration. Also, if you decide you want to do any Challenge Modes, the same gear scaling rules apply there.)

PG talentsI Am Talented

  • L15: Feline Swiftness. Makes it easier to kite globs and just generally get around. Wild Charge is also an option.
  • L30: Irrelevant.
  • L45: Faerie Swarm. Only used to slow/stop Banana-Tossers that get away, not that critical. You’ll have Rake or Thrash on everything, so Entanglement breaks too fast. Typhoon does not affect most enemies here.
  • L60: Soul of the Forest. Feel free to play around with this if you’re comfortable with Incarnation or Force of Nature.
  • L75: Ursol’s Vortex. Very nice for dealing with Banana-Tossers, especially on Wave 3. Bash works as well but takes a GCD.
  • L90: Heart of the Wild. The key to Wave 8. You will want 2 macros; 1 to /cancelform, /cast Heart of the Wild, /equip intellect weapon (if you have one). Macro 2 will /cast Cat Form /equip agility weapon. Dream of Cenarius rotations are not workable here. Nature’s Vigil isn’t bad but isn’t worth the tradeoff.
  • Glyphs: Savagery, Dash, Shred.

WoWScrnShot_092514_205808Know your Target Dumm…Foe

There are 8 types of enemies you will face, all of which come in small and large versions. Large versions have more HP, but are otherwise identical. You also get 2 power-ups.

  • Slayer. Has no abilities, just sits there until you kill him. You see this guy a lot in the lesser difficulties, but he only shows up once in Endless.
  • Varmint. Just sits there like the Slayer, but spawns as a group instead of one guy. Designed to be AoE’d. Drop a Thrash on them as you run by and they’ll fall over.
  • Guardian. Projects a very visible shield to the front that deflects all attacks from that direction, similar to the Oathshield mobs on the Timeless Isle. You don’t want to attack from the front anyway, so this just helps reinforce that point.
  • Amber-Weaver. These are caster mobs that spit a slow-moving glob (Amber Globule) which chases you until it hits you, hits an enemy, or expires. Amber Globules stun whatever they hit for 6 seconds and increase their damage taken by 50%. Obviously, don’t get hit by them. If possible, kite them into enemies, but don’t lose too much DPS time doing so.
  • Mystic. Healer enemy. Always a priority. Letting them get a heal off is bad, so you’ll usually want to start on them, get up a full set of DoTs, and interrupt their heal.
  • Banshee. Creeper! These guys spawn mid-wave, and go boom (ending your run) if they are not killed quickly. They move about slowly and randomly, which usually isn’t much of a big deal except for making it slightly trickier to kite a globule into them. Small Banshees explode in 10 seconds, Large Banshees take 15.
  • Banana-Tosser aka Damn Monkey. Run away from you, firing bananas at your location that greatly debuff your Hit if they, well, hit. I didn’t get the debuff much, but chasing them all the way to the edge of the arena takes valuable time.
  • Sha. Boss mob. Level 93, so you’ll get a few misses/dodges if you reforge for 6% level (which I still recommend, the other waves are the ones to optimize for). Puts up a shield for 40 seconds that reduces damage taken by 50%, followed by a 20-second period where they take 300% damage. Get SR and Rip up prior to the shield dropping, then pop TF+Zerk and burn hard when it does.
  • Berserking Power-up. Spawns at Wave 4 and 6. When picked up, increases damage by 30% for 30 sec. Does not expire (i.e. you can save it) but you cannot keep it for more than 10 waves; Wave 14’s powerup will overwrite wave 4’s, etc.

General Principles

  • Prep for each wave. Prior to the spawn of the wave, use Savage Roar, Dash or Stampeding Roar, and Ursol’s Vortex (for waves with tossers). This saves vital early GCD’s. If the previous wave allows, try to keep one enemy alive and get off a 5 CP Roar that’ll carry over into the next round.
  • Savage Roar+Rake is your go-to. I’ll go into more detail for each wave, but keeping SR up and keeping Rake up on everything is generally the best option. Only use Rip if there’s 3 or less Large enemies, or you have some CP’s to burn.
  • Use TF early. Even if you cap energy for a bit, you want to use it early in the wave so you can use it again later if needed.

Wave-by-Wave Strategy

PG floorIn the Endless Damage trial, there are 10 waves of enemies. Each wave has a 60 second timer for completion; failing to kill the enemies before time expires, or failing to kill a Banshee before their bomb timer expires, ends the run.

I’ll be writing out the strategy I used for each wave. You’ll notice the floor has two concentric rings; all enemies spawn in and around the inner ring (though Tossers can run anywhere).  To describe where you start each wave, I’ll be using clockface directions to describe where to position yourself in the inner ring, with 12-o’clock pointing towards the door. (Putting a raid mark at 12 and 6 for orientation is a good idea.) Wowhead also has a fantastic diagram of each wave in their guide.

Wave 1: 3 Weavers, 6 Varmints. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR. Thrash+Swipe Varmints in center.  Run to an Weaver, using TF to regain energy, and Rake + 2-3cp Rip. Leave when he gets globbed, and repeat for the 2nd and 3rd weaver. Re-Thrash Varmints if needed.

Wave 2: 2 Guardians, 1 Weaver, 1 Mystic. Start at 10’o-clock. Pre-Stampeding Roar, SR. Start near the front and quickly Rake the Guardian, Weaver, and 2nd Guardian. Run to the Mystic at 6-o’clock, refreshing Savage Roar on the way. Use TF and Rake/Mangle to a 5cp Rip, interrupting the heal. Glob should be enroute, glob mystic and run to first guardian. Rerake guardian, weaver, and guardian 2, running behind guardian 2 to glob him. Move to center, reraking mystic if it didn’t die for some reason. 3rd glob should hit center just as banshee spawns, globbing banshee. Kill it and finish off everything else.

Wave 3: 18 Varmints, 2 Tossers. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. The pack of Varmints is too large for 1 Thrash to get all of them, so I use 3 Thrashes in a Y pattern. Chase down the Tossers; if they’re close, rake both, if they’re far apart, finish them singly. Come back to center and Thrash+Swipe to finish the Varmints.

Wave 4: 4 Guardians, 1 Weaver, 1 Banshee, Berserking Buff. Rake all the things, part 1. Start in center. Pre-Stampeding Roar, SR. Rake weaver and 2 guardians. SR, TF. Rake 2 remaining guardians, rerake weaver, dodging glob. (Try not to glob weaver.) Rerake 4 guardians, dodging second glob. Banshee and 3rd glob will show up in center, hopefully together. Rerake weaver, rake/kill banshee. TF again if needed and finish off what’s left. Avoid the buff.

Wave 5: 1 Tosser, 1 Mystic, 1 Small Sha. Midboss! Start at 12-o’clock. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. You’ll start on top of the Tosser; quickly rake/mangle/rip, then head south, interrupting the Mystic who should’ve just started casting the heal. TF, SR, and get up a full 5cp Rip on the mystic to make sure it dies. Run back to the Tosser if it’s still alive, finish it, then run back to the Sha. Banshee spawns with 30 seconds remaining; kill it quickly, then kill the Sha, using TF+Berserk when the shield drops.

Wave 6: 2 Mystics, 6 Varmints, Berserking Buff 2. Start at 3-o’clock. Pre-SR. Rake mystic 1, Thrash varmints, Rake Mystic 2. Wait at Mystic 2 for a few seconds for TF to come back up, then SR, TF, Mangle/Rake to a 5cp Rip. Skullbash the heal. Run back to Mystic 1, Thrashing the Varmints again on the way. Mangle/Rake to a 5cp Rip on Mystic 1, then finish off whatever’s left.

Wave 7: 3 Guardians, 2 Weavers, 1 Tosser. Rake all the things, Part 2. Start just north of center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. I don’t really have a coherent strategy for this wave other than running around and raking everything, starting with the Tosser. The UV will keep him from running too far off. You can Berserk here, just make sure to use it early in the wave.  The globs here are a trap; it’s very tempting to double glob an enemy for the 100% damage taken buff, but you’ve got six enemies to deal with so you need to keep moving and Raking. Feel free to use Stampeding Roar and a second TF as needed.

Wave 8: 1 Mystic, 2 Slayers, 3 Banshees. Bonus round! This one’s fun. Start at 6-o’clock. Pre-SR. Rake the Slayer. Run cross-circle and Rake the second Slayer. Come back to the Mystic and Rake/Mangle to a 5cp Rip. As soon as the first heal starts, interrupt it, then…it’s WILD TIME. (Heart of the Wild, that is.) Pop your HOTW macro and Wrath down the Mystic, the Banshees, and then the Slayers. It usually takes me 3 Wraths (6 seconds) to kill a Banshee, and each lasts 15 sec,  so you don’t need to switch to them immediately if the Mystic needs some more love.

Wave 9: 1 Weaver, 1 Tosser, 1 Guardian, 2 Slayers, 1 Banshee. Rake all the things, final round! This wave is the most difficult of the 10, IMO; luckily, we’ve saved the Berserking buff for it. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. Rake the Tosser, run to 12-o’clock and rake the Weaver, then run counter clockwise around the circle raking the Slayer, Guardian, and Slayer. Grab Berserking and use TF as you go. Find the Tosser and repeat the circle-rake. Once you finish the second loop of the circle, the Banshee should be spawning; kill it, then circle-rake one more time and finish off whatever’s at the highest HP.

Wave 10: Large Sha. Final boss! The simplest wave of all, though not at all the easiest. Use a standard DPS rotation, looking to put up a 5cp Roar with ~40 seconds left on the timer. Grab the second Berserking buff with 30 seconds left on the timer, and Rip at ~22 seconds.  You can use TF if it’s up in the first 10 seconds; otherwise save TF + Berserk for the last 20 seconds when the boss’s shield drops.  Finish off the Sha; breathe, enjoy the 15-second break (thanks, guys) and get ready to go again.

Off-Spec Gold

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here, as I’m definitely not the expert. The wowhead guide is great as an overview, and if you’re looking to get Endless Defender or Healer, you’ll need to look around for other resources. A few tips for Gold, though:

Gold Tank isn’t too challenging, if you’re experienced. Gear wise, I just used my feral PG set. It’s counter-intuitive, but the method to surviving this challenge is frequent kiting. Sure, you can try to face-tank everything, but your only healing is a constant HoT, which burst can overcome quickly. Spec Typhoon, Ursol’s Vortex, and Force of Nature; use Typhoon and UV to keep things off, and Force of Nature treants to pick up/peel off Ambushers and Windguards as needed.

Gold Healer was harder for me, but that was due more to my rusty healing skills than anything else. Spec Ysera’s Gift, Typhoon, Force of Nature, Bash, and NV. Set up your party or raid frames to show the Chomp and Aqua Bomb debuffs. #1 priority is dispelling Aqua Bomb; #2 is Rejuv+Healing Touch on a Chomp target to clear it: #3 is making sure your Efflorescence effect is on Oto the tank (he moves a lot); #4 is standard healing, keeping Lifebloom and Rejuvenation on Oto, Swiftmend + HT on Oto as he needs it, Wild Growth if there’s some raid damage, etc.

I macroed FoN to Swiftmend because I was terrible at remembering it, and used Ironbark on Oto at the start of every wave for the first 5 waves. (Save it for Conqueror enrages after that.) Interrupting the Hive-Singer’s Sonic Blast with Bash/Typhoon helps a lot, but I forgot about it and still did okay. Beru has an exhaustive guide for Endless if you want a full strategy there, or just some more tips.

Alamo PVPYou’re Doing it Wrong

This achievement is granted for completing a Silver challenge in a spec not suitable for it. I had a lot of fun trying all the different combinations of wrongness; for example, doing the Tank challenge as Resto and using a combination of healing aggro and Bear Form to split mobs between you and your healer NPC. That one’s doable with enough effort, but eventually I just went with the easier one: Silver Damage as Guardian, specced into HOTW and Bash.

The key strategy to do here is form twist. Start in cat form, and Rake/Mangle until out of energy; then switch to Bear and Mangle/Thrash + Maul. Repeat. This comment on wowhead has a full breakdown of the Silver enemies, if you want to plan out a strat. My quick list:

  • Wave 1: Easy. Rake both, then standard DPS.
  • Wave 2: Easy. Start in bear; thrash the Varmint pack, and Mangle/Maul the Slayer. Go cat and double Swipe the Varmints, then Rake the Slayer. Repeat.
  • Wave 3: Easy-Medium. Rake both Slayers and Weaver, then Thrash two. Glob a Slayer and kill him with Mangle+Maul. Go back to Cat, rerake both, then go back to Bear and kill whoever got globbed, then kill the other.
  • Wave 4: Easy. Start in cat. Rake/Mangle the Weaver from the front (important). Stop DPS when he starts casting the glob, run behind the Varmint pack, and Bear Thrash/Swipe. Once the glob hits the Varmints, go Cat and double Swipe, which should mostly finish them. Go back to the Weaver (who still has your CP’s), Rake/Mangle him to 5CP’s, force him to glob himself, and kill him with a big Ferocious Bite.
  • Wave 5: Hard. This is the tough one…or at least, I thought it was, until I realized how easy the later waves were so I could use HOTW here. Bear Thrash/Cat Swipe the Varmint pack; this should trigger an immediate heal from the Mystic, so interrupt it. Rake the Mystic, Bear Thrash/Mangle/Maul, than pop HOTW and nuke down the Mystic with Wraths. It CAN be done without HOTW, but you need to get fairly lucky with crits on the Mystic, as the timer is tight.
  • Wave 6: Medium. You have a If you have a good bit of HOTW time left, this phase is pretty easy; just Wrath down the mystic and Bash his heal. Once you run out of HOTW time, the mystic should be dead: go back to the usual Rake 2, form twist DPS strat. You have a lot of time here.
  • Wave 7: Medium-Hard. The Weaver here has two small Varmints flanking him; ideally, you want to use his globs on the Mystic and Guardians, so stay away from the sides. Bear Thrash/Cat Swipe the Weaver + Varmints, which should trigger the Mystic heal. Interrupt it, Dash, and quickly Rake the two Guardians and the Mystic. The first glob should be on the way; glob the Mystic and form-twist DPS on it until dead. Repeat for both Guardians and finish off the Weaver/Varmints with a Thrash/Cat Swipe combo.
  • Wave 8: Easy-Frustrating. You get 2 Weavers here. Weaver globs stack, so globbing something with both will kill it quickly; however, if you mess up and get globbed yourself, the Weavers will chain glob you for the entire 60 seconds. Not fun. Plenty of time; just take the 4 enemies in turn, double globbing the Mystic and killing, double globbing the Slayer and killing, then the usual to finish out. You’ve won!…until WoD comes out and you get to do it all again!

Lastly, if you’re really crazy, there’s a hidden achievement for doing Gold in the wrong spec; You’re Really Doing it Wrong. Per Celestalon, though, that achievement is hidden, and is for tracking purposes only.


That’s it! 3300 words on content that’ll be gone in a month, woo. If you liked this, please leave me a comment or Tweet me (@alarondruid) and let me know!

 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Sep 192014
 

After finishing up all the Brawler’s Guild achievements last night, I’d like to type up a quick guide for those looking to get this done before 6.0 drops and they are no longer obtainable. It’s very doable if you’ve got some decent LFR/Timeless Burden gear, so let’s get to it!

Getting Started and General Tips

To get in, you need a Brawler’s Pass or a Blood-Soaked Invitation. Easiest way is AH, but if you’re unlucky, they’re always on the BMAH, and have a chance to drop from the PvP rares in Krasarang Wilds. (It also has a 100% chance to drop from Willy Wilder, if you’re willing to camp for a while.)

The format is simple. After queueing, you’ll be dropped into the ring, and have to fight a boss enemy (or enemies) and defeat him within 2 minutes. The main ladder has 36 bosses that must be defeated in order; after every 4 you defeat, you go up one Rank. There are also 16 “special” bosses that can be fought at any time; however, 12 of them require you do various things to unlock the card needed to battle them.

You will want to buff up. A vendor at the Guild sells cheap DPS potions, which are essential, but you’ll want a flask as well. Heroism drums are also nice, as are buffs from any other players around. If you want to completely trivialize some of the fights, you can also go farm some Faintly-Glowing Herbs from the Timeless Isle, which will work in Brawler’s Guild and have no cooldown.

Ranks 1-6

None of these bosses should be difficult, a few just have some tricks. Dippy (Rank 2) has a one-shot attack, but every attack from you knocks him back; you’re fine as long as you don’t corner him. Ixx (Rank 3)’s attack is best avoided by sitting directly on top of him while DPS’ing, but with good gear you may be able to burst him down without ever seeing it. Deeken (Rank 4) is your first “avoid tons of stuff” boss, and is a good sample of what awaits you at higher ranks.   You might have to try them once in order to see all the things you need to avoid, but that’s it. There’s a decent guide here.

Rank 7

Now is when things start to get interesting. GG Engineering is likely your first challenge. There’s a gnome who shoots you and a goblin you launches rockets at you; stay on top of the gnome so that he takes damage from the rocket blasts.

Dark Summoner is simple in theory. The Summoner brings in ghosts, which have an instakill melee attack, but you get a “flashlight” (cone attack) that stuns them. Killing a ghost drops Summoner’s shield for 20 sec. With good gear, you should be able to burn Summoner in 1 ghost sequence; just keep away from other ghosts that spawn. Turn on nameplates (V key).

Battletron will test your ability to DPS while moving. The boss summons 8 bombs that orbit him constantly and blow up when touched. You’ll want to run into 2 of them with a damage-reduction cooldown up (like Survival Instincts) to give you a window. After that, stay in that window circle-strafing around him until he dies. Beat him, enjoy the next joke boss, and get ready for the hardest fight of them all.

Rank 8

YOU FACE HEXOS, ROTATION LORD OF THE GEOMETRY LEGION!

If you’re not prepared for him, Hexos will make you rage-quit. The mechanic is brutally simple: You’re stuck in the middle of the arena, Hexos is stuck to your face, and waves of laser beams come at you. All you have to do is quickly and accurately rotate the camera to “steer” through the lasers while executing a DPS rotation at the same time.

There’s no way to make this easy, and you can’t really outgear the fight to the extent needed to avoid the mechanic. In lieu of a walkthrough explanation, then, here’s a list of tips that helped me, which may or may not help you.

  • Enable Mouselook. This will let you rotate without the mouse without having to hold-down right click the whole time. (Make a macro with the command below, and bind it to a key; the key will toggle it on and off.)
    /run if IsMouselooking() then MouselookStop() else MouselookStart() end
  • Put a raid mark on yourself. I found it much easier to steer the mark through the maze, ignoring Hexos.
  • Untalent Faerie Swarm; slowing Hexos before he attaches to you can occasionally bug out the fight.
  • As soon as you zone into the arena, turn on Mouselook, pop a damage potion, then Savage Roar. From that point, focus purely on survival. Simplify the rotation as much as possible; use Soul of the Forest and Heart of the Wild, don’t worry about Thrashing, etc. Heck, spamming Rake as a combo point builder and alternating between Rip and Savage Roar is probably enough.
  • Consider tweaking your mouse sensitivity in the WoW options menu. I found myself frequently over-rotating for the rapid 180 spins until I turned it down a bit.
  • If you have a flaky network connection or mouse, you’ll definitely find out about it now. I moved my computer to a different room in my house recently, and my previously-fine wireless started dropping out and giving me little lag-blips. (It’s darkly funny when you see the lasers hit the center and then start heading back *out.*) I bought a powerline networking kit and killed Hexos on the next few attempts after switching to it.

Compared to Hexos, the rest of the Rank 8 bosses are a breeze. For Tyson Sanders, just play hit-and-run, keeping him dotted as you evade chickens. For the T440, run out of melee at 15 stacks of the debuff, let it drop, reengage and repeat. Finally, Anthracite is similar to Dark Summoner; use your special action (water spray) to make the boss vulnerable, DPS him, then kill one of the adds to recharge your spray and repeat. Note the spray points rearward (insert joke here) so face away from Anthracite when firing.

Rank 9

Big Badda Boom is your first fight, and a good appetizer for the much harder boss to follow. When you kill him, he explodes and spawns 2 smaller versions of him. Those likewise split and spawn 2 versions, etc, until you suddenly have 20+ hitting you. Not too tough as long as you take the fight slow and don’t kill too many adds at once; use Ysera’s Gift and Predatory Swiftness procs to keep up your health, and pop SI + Barkskin + Berserk for the final burst.

Next is Nibbleh, who’s the next “ugh dammit” boss.

The video encapsulates the fight strategy pretty well. Nibbleh leaves a trail that will buff him to a level where he will one-shot you, so you have to keep him moving around a rapidly-closing spiral. He also occasionally spits a bit of trail to a random sport in the arena. This is the frustrating part, not for the spit, but because he’ll sometimes stand still long enough from spitting to gain his buff, and there’s nothing you can do.

You can try the strat in the vid (turn on walk and constantly backpedal) but it didn’t work for me, perhaps due to Cat Form’s built-in speed increase. He constantly enraged in the corners. After that, I switched to running and constantly tapping back, and that worked well enough.

Doctor FIST, after Nibbleh, is essentially a joke boss; just stay close to him to evade his clearly marked attacks, and use Bash/Typhoon to interrupt his fifth attack, Hammer Fist.

Ahoo’ru is the final fight between you and Rank 10, and a worthy challenge.

It’s a two-phase fight. In P1, Ahoo’ru will walk to the middle, put up a shield, and fill the room with sparks that move randomly and hit for about 200k. He’ll also send out three larger flashes (1 at a time), which will be extra sparkly. Touching these will spawn an Angel; DPSing the Angel to 50% will cause him to start casting a Charge. Run to the other side of Ahoo’ru, let the Charge hit him, and repeat twice more to trigger P2, which is mostly a straight burn phase. Ahoo’ru’s only abilities here are summoning a ring of circles around you (run out, you’ll take about 200k damage as long as you only touch 1 circle) and casting one full-heal, which must be interrupted.

Phase 1 is the key; the better gear you have, the more time you can afford to take there. Well-geared players can use the strategy depicted in the video, touching each spark and killing each Angel in turn. Lesser-geared players will need to trigger all 3 Angels together, then AoE them to trigger 3 charges at once. Either way, push hard in P2 (don’t forget to pot) and collect your mount + achievement!

Optional Bosses

Aside from the ranking bosses, there are the original Rank 8 bosses (now called “special bosses” that can be fought. They were all quite difficult back in 5.0/5.1, but gear has trivialized them all to Battletron level, with the strategy for each being summarized as “stay out of bad, and AoE to start (Zen’shar)/jump a lot (Disruptron)/interrupt Blue Crush (Epicus).” Milhouse is a bit different; he summons energy sources that charge him via beam; you’ll want to stand in the beam and charge yourself instead. Let the first set of beams charge both you and him, and them start killing one source and standing in the other.

There are also 12 “challenge” bosses, that are found by doing various tasks to unlock hidden quests. Instead of reciting everything here, I’ll just link you to a guide by Pwuebear on wowhead that excellently covers how to unlock them and strategies for the fight. None are especially difficult as long as you follow the strat. Best of luck, enjoy your achievement, and stay tuned for my Proving Grounds guide to come soon!TM

 Posted by at 12:49 pm
Sep 082014
 

George_McGovern2About 40 years ago, there was a presidential election. It wasn’t much of a contest; on one side was a popular incumbent who had just signed peace agreements with two other major world powers, while the other had a candidate who barely scraped through his primary. Following the primary, the upstart challenger continued to make several political missteps, dumped his VP candidate for health reasons three days after stating that “he backed him 1000 percent,” and was widely perceived as a lock to lose heavily.

There was no Cinderella story; the challenger did indeed lose the vote by 23 percentage points. That’s not the interesting part. Here’s what is: after the election results were announced, a prominent journalist who supported the challenger was quoted as saying “How could he lose? Everyone I know voted for him!”

The year was 1972; the incumbent was President Richard Nixon, the challenger (pictured here) was George McGovern, and the quote, though more of a paraphrase, is completely real.

(“Alaron, what does an old white guy have to do with an Internet scandal in 2014?” “Shh, I’m expositing.”)

Gamergate

…it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. -Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

In case you’ve (wisely) been ignoring the whole thing, the entire gaming world has been rocked by controversy over…dudes behaving badly. Okay, it’s more than that, but that’s basically what’s been going on. Dudes sexually harassing a female game developer after her ex-boyfriend accuses her of sleeping with game journalists for favorable press. Other dudes sexually harassing a female media critic after she posted a video on Youtube criticizing how women are portrayed in games. Another group of dudes calling in bomb threats to ground a plane because the president of SOE was onboard, and temporarily shutting down PSN, Xbox Live, and Battle.net just because. Someone else, probably a dude, calling in SWAT to raid the house of a popular Youtube streamer.

This has led to counter-dude. Numerous online sites have written tons of editorials criticizing the vicious misogyny and general boorish behavior being shown my those self-identifying as gamers. Several sites took it a step further, however, declaring an “end to gamers,” such as with these editorials on Gamasutra and Ars Technica.

Naturally, the dudes didn’t take this calmly, declaring this wasn’t about misogyny, this was an issue of journalistic ethics and corruption! A guy by the name of InternetArchitect made a few youtube videos making this point, actor Adam Baldwin tweeted out the videos along with the hashtag #Gamergate, and that’s when the Internet exploded.

Dueling Narratives

Here’s the thing. In a lot of these cases, the Gamergate folk have somewhat of a point. (Not the hackers and the SWATters, though, those guys are just assholes.) There’s a legitimate discussion that could be had over whether games journalists are too close to game developers to report ohjectively. Lord knows there’s plenty of examples of game developers crossing the line; from cutting back advertising after receiving a poor review, to a writer being fired for giving a poor review to a title that had prime advertising space; to the 2012 Games Media Awards, where journalists were given free PS3’s, among other things (and subsequent firing of the person who wrote that critical article).

Unfortunately, though, the argument never gets made like that. Gamergate supporters like to complain about a giant “conspiracy.”

The reason many websites have turned off comments, deleted/blocked threads, etc. is not to be gleefully conspiratorial; it’s because the discourse is 80% toxic misogyny. It’s like that Tide commercial; if you have a big stain on your shirt when you get up to speak at the big company presentation, nobody’s going to listen to you, they’re going to sit there and think “Man, if this dude can’t even dress professionally, why should I take his words seriously?”

I’d like to dig a little deeper, though. I think there’s an indictment of our culture to be made here. When insults are your normal discourse, you don’t know what’s professional speech and what’s not, and you don’t know how to have a civilized debate.

Modern Tribalism

Look. I’m in the Army. The attitude, language, and threats that you see people spew online is nothing compared to your average military barracks bay. We (gently) abuse people during basic training deliberately in order to build up a sense of brotherhood. (Or, alternatively, to gauge their level of bullshit tolerance prior to giving them things that go bang bang.) I’m not too far removed from going through a version of that myself, and I see it in my soldiers every day.

What these guys do know, however, is their audience. They give each other shit all the time, but when an officer comes by? “Good evening, sir. What are we talking about? Um, some strategies for doing better at Call of Duty, sir. Roger, sir, we’ll keep it down. Have a good night, sir.” …officer walks away… “Dammit Jones you fu*king faggot you TK’ed me again!” “Haha, pwned you bitch just like I did your mom last week.”

This is not a new thing. I’m sure Roman soldiers pretended their hasta were dicks and poked each other with them too when their superiors weren’t around. They grew up, became those superiors, and similarly got frustrated at their new soldiers who were now pretending their new pila were dicks.

What has changed, however, is the Internet, and how it has connected and divided us at the same time.

Echodit

That journalist I cited in the introduction lived in an early “echo chamber.” Everyone she interacted with had similar opinions and beliefs, so the opinions and beliefs that diverged from the group consensus were automatically rejected.

What the Internet has done, however, is to narrowly cleave groups into thousands or millions of these chambers. Reddit is the perfect example of this. Fan of something? There’s a discussion group dedicated to it! Others exist that have the same tastes you do! There’s never any reason to go anywhere else!

Unfortunately, living in an echo chamber gives you no skills to respond effectively when something challenges those views. Instead, you respond as the group does; harassing the outsider until they go away, and coming up with crazy stories to justify why those outsiders’ views are wrong. Combine that learned behavior with the assumed anonymity of the Internet and you have the perfect recipe for jackassery.

Is there an easy solution? I don’t think so. We’re conditioned to think in terms of fast, instinctive decisions, which games only accentuate. Friend! Enemy! Fight! Run! Somehow, “well, both sides have valid points, let’s talk this through and find consensus” doesn’t enter the gamer consciousness very often.

Kill ‘em with Kindness

I’m not going to propose some bullshit Synthesis ending here that wraps everything up neatly; if there was an easy solution, it would’ve been done already. (Seriously, ME3, come on.)

Most of you are familiar with John Gabriel (Penny Arcade) and his Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. According to the GIFT, it takes 3 A’s: average person + anonymity + audience = fuckwad.

He’s right, but there’s one term missing: acceptance. Fuckwads act like fuckwads because they get away with it. Want to curb the behavior? Start checking it at every turn.

Now, this doesn’t mean stooping to their level and throwing insults; that’s what they’re used to, and that just confirms that this kind of discourse is effective. (That’s partly why this thing is such a ugly mess, because some of the people criticizing the misogynists for their language are condemning them with their own language. Pot, meet kettle?) Instead, find the lever. It might take some work to do, but it’s always there.

Let me share a quick story. I was putting together a public 25-man raid for Onyxia, back in 2009, when she had just been re-designed and was current content. As was my luck, I got one of those; a decked-out raider who insisted on repeatedly wiping the group by feigning death in the egg piles. Other members of the group started berating him, and he laughed at us, calling us “noobs and casuals.” Did I rage at him? No. I found a lever.

I tabbed out to wow-progress, looked up his guild, and found his guild master’s name. Tabbed back and whispered him “Hey, I know XXX, the leader of <Your Guild>. I’ve been logging your actions and chat, and I’ve got it all typed up to send his way. Want me to send it?” Instantly, he shut up, apologized in /raid, apologized privately to me in a reply, begged me not to tell his guild, and dropped group.

Is that going to work every time? Of course not. Sadly, sometimes you can’t reach the lever, or it’s broken. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to find it. Sometimes the only thing you can do is leave and come back another day, because the griefers own the whole map. Do it. Remember, games are supposed to be fun. Stand up to the boors if you can do so lovingly; otherwise withdraw peacefully. Either way, make the point that you won’t tolerate that kind of behavior around you.

And with that, I’m done with ranting about social issues. Anyone up for a game?

 Posted by at 11:54 am
Sep 032014
 

In an effort to shake off the doldrums, a banal post of what I’ve been up to lately.

Hearthstone

I’m still playing and thinking about Hearthstone a fair bit. I’d play more, but the game has a couple of disincentives that’ve caused me to cut back my play time significantly.

First, the ranked mode has two reward “tiers.” Every season, which resets monthly, you can earn a card back by achieving rank 20, which is trivial. After that, the next “reward” isn’t until you reach Legend (aka Rank 0) where you can actually see how you stack up against all the other Legendeers that month. Unfortunately, the grind to get to Legend is pretty rough.

Based on anecdotal data and some math, I figure it takes most between 300-450 games to get to Legend, for those that are capable of achieving it. That roughly correlates to a winrate between 55-60%. (Theoretically, a 50% player could get it, but they’d have to get very lucky from Rank 5-Legend, where the bonus win for winning two games or more in a row goes away.)

If a game averages 10 minutes, that’s 50-75 hours of play. Could I do it? Probably, but I’d have to play exclusively Hearthstone for the entire month. I just don’t see the appeal of something that’s going to reset so quickly.

Second, Blizzard allowed players to buy Naxxramas (the first expansion) with in-game gold. As someone who has most of the cards in the game already, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend money on additional packs when they’ve already revealed 100+ cards coming in the expansion, likely with a new pack type.

Kingdom of Amalur

Remember this company-killer? I played it for a while on Xbox when it came out, but it didn’t hold my interest, due to significant scaling problems. I purchased it for PC during the last sale, and spent an hour getting the “YSA” trainer working to significantly up the difficulty and lower the XP/gold gain.

It’s been wonderful; kind of a Dark Souls-lite, but with quicksaves. All the systems that I ignored the first time I played, like blocking (heh) are now much more relevant, and I’m constantly running low on potions and the gold to buy them. I’m currently stuck on the Maid of Windemere, but I think if I go farm a few alchemy mats, I should be able to buff up enough to burst her down.

WoW

I haven’t touched the live game, and have no real desire to at this point pre-Warlords. Trying to nail down uninterrupted time remains difficult, which eliminates things like challenge modes and raiding. I never did finish Brawler’s Guild, however, so I’d like to give that a go pre-6.0, as well as taking another shot at the Doing It Wrong achievement for Proving Grounds.

As for the beta, it’s been fun, but I’m actively curtailing playing it because, per my usual, I’d like to save the discovery process for the live realms. Pretty much, all I’ve done is create premade druids for testing abilities. As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ll be doing a full guide for feral for 6.0, as well as short guides for the other 3 druid specs. With stats being shared between gear, it’ll be easier than ever for druids to respec, so I need to teach myself how to be fluid (TM) again. :)

Site Updates

Last but not least, I’m poking around at updating the blog. WordPress 4 will be released soon, and with that, I’m looking to make some improvements to readability. Don’t really have a clear idea as to what I’ll be doing yet theme-wise, so you may see a few things change if you’re visiting the blog directly and not subscribing via a feed. Always interested in suggestions, so send them in.

I also need blogroll updates! If you have a druid blog (or there’s one you read regularly), then I want to know about it so I can plug them in. I’ll also take any general WoW sites, anything you think is cool. Let me know!

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Aug 142014
 

EDIT: Didn’t realize it, but November will be WoW’s 10th anniversary, and WoW was released on Warcraft I’s 10th anniversary, so it makes sense they’d keep that going. If this keeps up, we’ll see WoW 2 in November 2024.

13:20 That’s it, folks. Some quick mental math gives us 428 days (ish) between 5.4’s release and the expansion, which will rate as the longest time between tiers ever. So much for attempting to avoid that. (ICC was 343, Dragon Soul was 301.)

13:17 November 13th, 2014 listed at end of trailer!

13:12 WoD cinematic trailer starting.

13:11 Metzen gives a shoutout to the guy who was first in line to get in to the theater, awkward camera zoom ensues.

13:10 Gameplay trailer over, Metzen back out to introduce the cinematic trailer.

13:08 Leeroy Jenkins sighting!

13:06 Blizzard really needs to stop showing in-game NPC swordplay in the trailers, as it just looks ridiculous.

13:05 Watters back out, gameplay trailer coming up.

13:03 Four more LoW eps coming out. Showing teaser now.

13:02 Cinematic over. Nice Metzen line, “No more whimsical pandas!”

13:00 (LoW) If only jump attacks worked as well in real life as they do in cinema.

12:59 (LoW) Maraad pressuring Varian, okay. whatever. Setup to talk about Kargath.

12:57 First episode of Lords of War (animated shorts) starting.

12:55 Lost connection for a sec.

12:54 Metzen asking how many people saw Burdens of Shaohao, says it went well. (Note: he didn’t say it was “popular.”)

12:53 Chris Metzen comes out to introduce the new animated series. Must every presenter do a Horde/Alliance shoutout?

12:52 Some talk about the new version of Draenor.

12:51 Temporary Level 90 version of UBRS. Cool!

12:50 6.0 patch – initial Iron Horde invasion to Blasted Lands and UBRS, you respond.

12:48 Back to Hazzikostas talking about the Dark Portal. Ion, you lost the audience at “existential.”

12:47 Mild crowd response to being able to loot Ashran Fragments from other players.

12:45 More on Ashran, the tech to keeps things faction balanced, and some of the cool abilities they give to classes. I’m not much of a PvPer, but PvEvP (if that’s a thing) is something I enjoy, so I might give it a shot.

12:43 Holinka now talking Ashran PvP. Comparing it to the long-running AV’s of yore.

12:42 Have to raise an army to defeat the Iron Horde. Yawn. Wake me when I can take my army into the raid zone.

12:40 Talking about cleaning up action bars, better graphics. Very ho-hum so far.

12:39 Talking up the boost to lvl 90. (EDIT: Nobody ever gets stuck in Grizzly Hills, that zone was awesome.)

12:38 Waters brings out Holinka and Hazzikostas.

12:36 Back to the call outs of Horde and Alliance, yawn.

12:34 Mike Morhaime out in an interesting shirt. Blue stripe down the right-hand side, mmkay. Looks like a Windows 8 Snap.

12:34 First accidental calling it Worlds of Draenor.

12:33 Chris Watters out to talk now. Also, the person who was responsible for the overuse of ellipses has been sacked.

12:32 That…was a very short cinematic. I’m guessing that’s just the intro.

12:31 War is the lifeblood…yay.

12:30 Lovely ESRB Rating…thanks, guys.

Just happen to have the day off from work at the same time of the cinematic! (Times in EST)

 Posted by at 12:31 pm