Jul 082010

So, I’m a little late to the RealID condemnation party, but I’d like to add my thoughts on the new real name commentary policy.

Why this is a bad thing

  • The death of escapism: I interact with my professional contacts as me. I interact with my gaming contacts as my handle (Alaron). When I’m playing WoW, I don’t want to be Joe Schmoe, I want to be Alaron, the druid. I get heals from my guildy Elassar, not John Smith from Los Angeles. My guildy Valerian tanks bosses, not Sarah Jane from New York.  One of the major draws of the Internet is the ability to create new identities, for good or ill, and this policy eliminates that.
  • The end of privacy: While I believe that this will change eventually, gaming currently suffers from a negative stigma. While I believe that my line of work (the Army) is reasonably tolerant of gaming in general, all it takes is one intolerant boss writing one negative comment on my evaluation reports to damage my career. (For that matter, they’re not too happy about bloggers, either.) This is the primary reason why I’ve taken steps to separate Alaron from my real identity. I applaud those who are in the position to communicate under their real name, but many are not.

Why this is a good thing

  • The restoration of a community: It’s a generally accepted rule for Internet discussion that as the size of the audience increases, the usefulness of the discussion decreases. Blizzard is taking a bold step towards being the exception to the rule with this change. I expect official forum activity will decline DRAMATICALLY, which will make it possible for the existing moderators to do their jobs. I’m not sure that this will lead to the result Blizzard expects (all the good posters stay, all the bad posters go) because I expect that many of the best posters are also the ones with the most to lose, and will chose not to participate. Either way, though, forums will become legitimately useful again for new players, which is the primary target for Cataclysm.
  • Compliance with Korean law: In 2009, Korea passed a law requiring realname identification for sites with more than 100,000 visitors/day. Starcraft is a huge part of Korean culture. (There are two cable channels devoted to showing matches, frequently showing the same match from the perspective of each player. A pro-league for SC2 players exists, complete with wagering and match-fixing.  Blizzard announced SC2 in Korea. Etc.) While Blizzard could probably have pressed for an exemption to the law, they may have not wanted to risk it.

Why this is irrelevant

  • Forum posters <<< WoW players: I don’t know the actual numbers, but I suspect that the amount of people who actually use the official forums is incredibly low compared to the number of players. As of this writing, the number of posts in the official announcement/comment thread stands at 41k…the amount of players worldwide is over 11 million.
  • Existing forums: Many, many forums already exist outside of the official forum for WoW discussion, and those forums aren’t going away.

The end of the day

If Blizzard wants to gut its forum traffic…go ahead! It’s their choice, after all. At the end of the day, this doesn’t stifle any discussion; it just moves it to another location. I was initially opposed to the decision, but if this means that Blizz can spend less resources on forum moderation and more on game development/responses to player concerns, I’m all for it.

Jul 082010

Some sad news to relate…My wife has MS, which (thankfully) has been largely asymptomatic so far. Unfortunately, yesterday she had a flare-up, which managed to cause a bad fall. She has a herniated disc (among other things) and will be heading into surgery on Monday.

Needless to say, she doesn’t feel confident in her ability to watch our son and pets while I raid; so until she heals, my raiding career is on hold. I’ll still try to comment on what I can, but I’ll be taking a break for a while, it seems. (And so will everyone else, apparently. GL on those 41-point talent trees being ready any time soon.)

 Posted by at 1:23 am
Jun 302010

(not that it ever stopped me, anyway)

Now that the Cataclysm beta has officially started, you don’t have to rely on dirty alpha leaks anymore. Feel free to hit up MMO-Champion’s overview, their druid page, and Wowhead’s Cata database. There aren’t any changes from the alpha as yet, so I’ll let Kalon take this one. :)

 Posted by at 10:01 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 292010

Interesting article on the forbes.com website today about how guild leadership experience translates well to the business world; claims that Starbucks’ CIO succeeded in his career to his WoW experience. (Thanks, Keredria!) It probably shouldn’t surprise me when I see things like this, but WoW seems to be getting more mainstream each day.

Anecdote: Myself and several other young officers were invited to a lunch with an Army four-star general the other day. (No names, but this general is responsible for hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars of assets.) During the Q&A period, he was asked about ways to find training time for soldiers. His response? “In the future, unconventional methods will be a large part of our military’s training. Look at World of Warcraft…an online game where many players have to come together as a group to accomplish a common goal, underneath a leader who has to keep that group happy. Group leaders in the game exhibit many of the same skills that our junior officers do today.” He then asked who there played WoW; I raised my hand, as did one other officer next to me. He turned to me and asked if what he had said was accurate. I agreed, and he then replied, “I’m glad you’re learning something. Now stop playing and start doing your homework. :)”

Jun 252010

Crap, it’s Friday already?

Very busy week for me, so little time to sit down and research/write anything good. Here’s some postlets:

  • Guild progression: Collateral Damage successfully downed H Dreamwalker this week and got a second kill on H Festergut (my first), which leaves us at 5/12 for 25M heroic. Ferals are pretty OP for Fester; since such a low percentage of our DPS is autoattacks, malleable goos don’t affect us nearly as much. Me and the other feral in our raid were 1-2 on the DPS chart; unfortunately for me, we were 2-1 for EPGP purposes, so now he’s got Heroic Distant Land. :( (Grats Feans!)
  • Heroic progression isn’t nearly as interesting as normal progression, I find. Every time we firstkilled an ICC boss on normal mode, there was a killshot and much rejoicing; on heroic, it’s just kinda eh. We’re basically gearing up for the H LK fight, which doesn’t look fun, at all. Oh well, at least there’s Ruby Sanctum to look forward to.
  • Site upgrades: I successfully upgraded the site to WP 3.0 without anything important breaking (yay). I decided to convert my bear guide to BBcode to post on the forums as a test, and it 1) took forever to do and 2) still looks a bit crappy. I think I’m going to give Zel’s suggestion a try with static pages on the blog itself, and put a sticky on the forums with links to the guides.
 Posted by at 2:12 pm
Jun 202010

A short note: I’ll be working on the site and forums some over the next week (upgrading to wordpress 3.0, fixing some phpBB stuff, moving guides from the blog to the forums to make them easier to find (though I may change my mind on this and just make them static pages like Keeva did), updating plugins, updating side-bar, etc.) If you see anything broken (or you want me to implement something), please post a comment and let me know. (Also, I apparently like parentheses.)

 Posted by at 12:52 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 192010

I’ve previously posted this list, but a few pieces have been added to the loot table, so here it is again with expanded commentary.

271 Leather Melee.DPS Wrists Umbrage Armbands
271 Neck Melee.DPS Neck Penumbra Pendant
271 Finger Phys.DPS Finger Signet of Twilight
271 Trinket Phys.DPS Trinket Sharpened Twilight Scale
271 Trinket Tanking Trinket Petrified Twilight Scale
258 Leather Phys.DPS Chest Gloaming Sark
258 Neck Melee.DPS Neck Baltharus’s Gift

The big prize from RS-25 for feral DPS is the Sharpened Scale trinket. The massive chunk of ArPen makes it superior to any other trinket in the game, save Heroic DBW, and the ability to have two ArPen trinkets (should you be so lucky) will make reaching the ArPen hardcap much easier. Of course, you’ll be rolling against all melee dps classes (except for enh shammies) and hunters, so good luck. Hopefully it will drop more often than DBW has for us.

The Signet ring is pretty nice as well, but the hit/crit itemization drops it in value some. If you don’t have a 264 ring for your second slot and this drops, take it, but otherwise it’s pretty much a sidegrade from Frostbrood Sapphire/H Saurfang’s Cold-Forged.

The Umbrage Armbands are similar; a sidegrade from Toskk’s, a downgrade from H Toskk’s, but better than anything else.

Finally, neck-wise, the  Penumbra Pendant is a strength item, so let your plate DPS have first dibs on it. If you’ve had bad luck on neck drops for some reason, it’s about equal to an ICC-10 neck. (Or you could just buy a Wodin’s, if you have the gold to spare.) For 10-man, Baltharus’s is pretty equivalent to its ilevel; better than a 251, worse than a 264.

For bears, the Petrified Scale tank trinket is very nice as well, but it depends on your personal preference–it’s basically an upgraded Glyph of Indominability, with the same issues. Great mitigation trinket, but no extra HP to swallow burst.  I’d still prefer 2 of Organ/Fang/Key for progression, I think. Come Cataclysm, though, when healer HPS will be more limited, the ability of armor trinkets to reduce DTPS will be much more important. I could see this trinket lasting you until 85, easily. From 10-man, the Gloaming Sark is pretty terrible for feral DPS, but it’s an excellent tanking piece if you don’t have the badges for Shadowseeker’s or the cash for Ikfirus. There’s a strength ring, also, but it’s pretty bad.

 Posted by at 11:49 pm
Jun 152010

I thought this post from EJ by Rijndael on the Resto design for Cata was excellent, enough that I’m quoting it in its entirety here.

Blizzard is moving towards healer homogenization. As Ghostcrawler said, they are trying to walk a fine between keeping class identity distinct, and having raids be called because wrong healer classes are online. Right now healers are not homogenized enough — paladins are too good on tanks and not good enough on raid, disc are too good on LK, druids are not good enough on LK, etc.

It seems pretty clear to me that Nature’s Bounty + Efflorescence is broken and will change in some way. What’s interesting though, is what the designer intent is.

I think the designers are intending to nerf Rejuv and boost Regrowth so Rejuv will only be worth casting when you move, and Regrowth will be cast when you stand still. This accomplishes a few things:

(a) Diversifies the spells druids actually will use

(b) Forces druids to stand still more. This may seem bad, but Blizzard has been pretty consistent in making the movement/burst/cooldown tradeoff. In other words, a healing spell always has one of three disadvantages: it either forces you to stand still, or it heals over time, or has a cooldown. In encouraging druids to use a cast time spell, Blizzard is freeing themselves to buff druid burst, which is what we need to be a more well rounded healer. I suspect druids in Cata will be more like priests — good when forced to move but optimal when standing still.

(c) Make druids think about where they cast, rather than spam. This is the intent behind Nature’s Bounty interaction with Regrowth, and I think this idea is sound as long as they “smooth” it, and just give a bonus that scales with lower target hp.

I think this is absolutely true. Right now, Rejuv is our most used spell because its cheap, instant, heals fast (first tick in ~2s with GoRR) and heals hard (3kish per tick for a well-geared tree, pre-ICC buff, which is 10-15% of a DPS’ers health pool), and heals over time. It’s too powerful. I think they’ll make it significantly weaker and buff Regrowth, forcing a choice between the two.

Jun 142010

Note: Pretty busy with class this week, so posting will be light unless something juicy comes out.

There’s some interesting new information out there in regards to weapons enchants. It’s been a while since I examined them (and when I did, I just followed what EJ said, anyway), so I decided to crunch the numbers myself and came to some interesting conclusions. Let’s take a look.

(Note: several of the weapon enchants below are PPM procs. If you’re not clear on what that means, the proc chance is the PPM * 100 / number of autoattacks in a minute before haste, which for kitties is 60 due to baseline 1.0 attack speed. This means Mongoose(1 PPM), for example, has a 1.66% proc chance. While this may seem low, it can proc off specials as well, so you generally have over 100 attacks hitting each minute.)

The Old Guard

  • Mongoose (proc, 15s duration, 1PPM proc chance, proc of +120 agi, +30 haste rating…NOT 2% haste as everybody thought)
  • Berserking (proc, 15s duration, 1PPM proc chance, proc of +400AP, -5% armor)
  • Executioner (proc, 15s duration, 1PPM proc chance, proc of +120 ArP)
  • Massacre (static +110 AP)

These four have been the general focus of discussion for most of WOTLK. The general consensus in 3.0  was Berserking as your best choice, with Mongoose being a slightly inferior option for players who both tanked and dps’ed, and Massacre slightly worse than either. (Personally, I thought that Mongoose was a better overall DPS enchant.) In 3.1, however, ArPen received a huge buff when they changed the ratings to drastically raise the amount of ArPen you gained per point.. Well-geared ferals suddenly saw huge DPS increases from gemming ArPen with an ArPen trinket, and Executioner became popular. Blizzard eventually reversed course, nerfing the ArPen increase by 50% and putting in a hardcap. (Previously, you could actually stack enough ArPen via gems + trinket procs to cause a target to have negative armor.) Executioner lost popularity, and ferals went back to the other three and continue using one of these today. Unfortunately for Mongoose, someone finally realized that we’ve been quoting the wrong numbers all along; the 2% haste was actually 30 Haste Rating, or slightly more than 1%. This changes the numbers significantly. (See below.)

The New Breed

  • Scourgebane (static +140 AP)
  • Black Magic (proc, 10s duration, 35s CD, 35% proc chance on Mangle/Shred, +250 haste rating)

With the advent of ICC, Scourgebane became popular as a minmax choice. Unfortunately, it’s useless anywhere else and for certain fights in ICC. Black Magic, though, is very interesting. While its intended as a caster enchant, it still procs off Mangles and Shreds, for some reason. I don’t think this is intended behavior, but it makes it very usable for ferals.

The List

I decided to run the numbers twice; once with my gear, once with BIS gear, to see how the numbers change. (Rawr, as usual.)


  1. Scourgebane +132 DPS
  2. Berserking +110 DPS
  3. Executioner +104 DPS
  4. Massacre +104 DPS
  5. Mongoose +103 DPS
  6. Black Magic +97 DPS


  1. Scourgebane +144 DPS
  2. Black Magic +123 DPS
  3. Berserking +116 DPS
  4. Massacre +112 DPS
  5. Mongoose +99 DPS
  6. Executioner: +0 DPS (ArPen capped)


Scourgebane is obviously your best bet, if you purely run ICC. If not, then Berserking is probably your best choice. Mongoose remains a decent option for hybrids, but its not a contender like it once was. (sigh, time to switch enchants.) If you really hate proc effects, for some reason, then Massacre is a good choice as well. The behavior of Black Magic is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant since it does not provide an upgrade over Scourgebane.

 Posted by at 8:30 am