Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Love of Fallout 3 part 1; How to tell a story.

Images courtesy of Googling. It's probably good that no one reads my blog.
I started a new play through of Fallout 3 a few weeks ago. My first play through was just about 4 years ago, in late 2010 when New Vegas came out. My memory of that clear is a bit hazy, but I recall not understanding VATS for the first hour. I know I did not have a clear understanding of how to use the Local Map and how to fast travel until I was done with Vault 112 at least, possibly further.

That time I mostly just followed the main storyline, and did a few side quests that I ran into accidentally. I didn't really use many online resources to assist. At the end I started looking for unique weapons on the Fallout wiki, and picked up a few, but I didn't check the World Map online for areas I missed etc.

I ended that run without completing all of Broken Steel, but did beat the game. Not sure why offhand but I think I started a New Vegas game before I finished all of Broken Steel, and probably lost interest.

This time I decided that I wanted to actually dig into the game more. I had read stories about 300+ hour saves that folks had. Based on my experience it made no sense, that first run for me was maybe 40 hours, so I wanted to see if I could understand what content folks were spending those 300 hours on.

Fairly early in the process, right after the GNR quests were done, I started to just walk around in various places I hadn't explored before.

What I encountered really surprised me.

One of my first stops was the Capitol building.

File:The Capitol.jpg
Image shamelessly stolen from the Fallout Wiki folks. Because I don't know how to make screenshots on my PS3

I was surprised to walk in to see several members of Talon company ahead of me, with their backs turned. I popped into Sneak mode so they wouldn't get startled and started following them from a distance.

Talon was sweeping through the building, trying to clear groups of Super Mutants. They were fairly successful, and killed 4 or 5 standard Super Mutants on their trek through the building.

Then they hit the Rotunda.

Inside the Rotunda a Super Mutant Behemoth and several Brutes, and Overlords were engaging in a full scale battle with additional Talon company mercenaries.

I stayed in stealth, and watched everything unfold. Talon killed most of the small mutants, while the Behemoth rolled around one-shotting Talon mercs. One of the Talon guys had a Fat Man and some mini-nukes and wasn't afraid to use it. It was a fairly epic battle.

After the dust cleared the Behemoth was the last one standing, Dogmeat and I made fairly short work of him.
File:Behemoth Capitol.jpg
That's approximately what I saw. If DogMeat was chewing on his nuts in that shot it'd be canon.
We dug around the building a bit more and headed out of an exit to Seward Square.

Directly outside we walked right into another firefight between Talon and the Super Mutants. I kept progressing through Seward and onward. As I kept going through the area, I kept running into skirmishes between Talon and the Mutants.

Now, I've noticed something about Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and the way they tell a story this playthrough. In many games now you hear exposition via dialogue in cut-scenes or non-game scenes.

In GTA V for example most character interaction happens in cut-scenes. There are a few discussions that happen say, while driving. Generally though information is conveyed to the player, about the plot and world, via non-gameplay based devices.

GTA V's Trevor Sure Likes Forklifting Some Weird Things
Please note any cut-scenes involving Trevor Philips are potentially traumatic to minors, the elderly, rape victims, incest victims, recovering alcoholics........
Fallout is different however. Fallout 3 tells it's story in game, during game play, by giving you information and letting you put the pieces together.

At this point in Fallout 3 I've heard Three Dog mention the Talon company presence in DC. He doesn't know what they're up to though, he just warns you about them. In fact in the entire main plot line I'm pretty sure no one ever clearly states who and what hired them.

After walking through the Capitol building it looks to me like they've been sent to DC to clear out the Super Mutants.

Another example of this imo, are the lairs of the various Raiders you occasionally find in ruins, or subways. Especially the lairs of the solo ones or small groups.

The world of Fallout 3 is supposed to be exceptionally harsh. Folks are eking out a meager existence in a dangerous world, barely holding onto their lives.

You realize that clearly when, say, you walk by the semi-hidden lair of a solo Raider, and he attacks you despite the fact that you have Dogmeat and Charon with you.

After you easily kill him you loot his lair. It's full of empty Nuka-Cola and Whiskey bottles. Some random instant-food is sitting in a box. The fridge is broken, and the dead Raider's bed in under an open sky, so he has no real shelter.

He's just attacked a very superior force because, in this wasteland, anyone that comes knocking is likely coming to kill you.

It's amazing how much stuff like that tells a substantially clearer story than 40 hours of cut-scene dialogue in Final Fantasy 13-2.'d see me wondering why I wasted 40 hours of my life on your game...only to find out it was just a setup for another sequel.
It's more real because you figure it out yourself based on observable details, like real life. This lends the process a natural, organic, type of feel, as opposed to the forced feel of Final Fantasy.

Next time. Why I'm playing Fallout 3 right now instead of Skyrim.

Friday, January 10, 2014

No, really fanboys, Sony won this round.

So, it seems like the whole internet has been talking this week about the current console generation's sales figures for launch month. Sony sold 4.2 million PS4, Microsoft sold 3 million Xbox Ones. Sony fanboys are declaring victory.

Microsoft fanboys are stammering to explain why, and how this isn't a set back.

Unfortunately it seems like folks are missing a number of key points, that show that Sony really has won this round.

1) PS4s are still sold out, Xbox Ones are not. - A few folks on the MS side are trying to state that lack of Xbox supply could be an issue, but clearly it is not.

Xbox ones have been available everywhere since launch. PS4 have been sold out since launch at all major retailers, the majority of the time.

You have to be fairly dedicated to purchasing a PS4, to buy one because of the lack of availability. If you own one now, it is likely due to pre-ordering, or actually working to purchase it by camping Amazon, or a local retailer.

You can easily make a casual Xbox One purchase, it is available everywhere. Despite the ease of purchasing one, they still can't sell as many as Sony.

Therefore, it's safe to say that Sony, even with 4.2 million units sold can't keep up with casual demand. Microsoft, with 3 million sold, is over inventoried even for causal and hardcore demand as neither has been high enough to make the xbox difficult to obtain.

2) GameStop employees know the score - Seriously, walk into one, talk to an employee. They're over inventoried on Xbox ones and demand is low. They can't keep PS4s on shelves.

 3) 40% leads are hard to beat, when you don't offer anything better - It would make sense that now that Sony has a ~40% lead in sales over Microsoft that the install base would simply build.

It would stand to reason that current 360 owners, when tasked with making an upgrade, will look at the ecosystem and see that their early adopter friends have mostly gone to Sony (at a 4.2:3 ratio, so far.) It would also stand to reason that they'll realize that you have to pay a yearly fee for Xbox Live whereas the PSN is free, and paid service gives you free games, and discounts. Since pretty much every game is going to be released on both consoles why not just pick the cheaper one that doesn't include a mandatory camera....

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blogging the Gate

Due to my excessive reading of crpgaddict ( I've decided I'm going to play through the Baldur's Gate series and Planescape Torment during the next year. I'm pretty excited to play all three games and the pertinent expansions. IIRC I beat Baldur's Gate in 2001 or so by cheating somewhat heavily, but besides that I'm going to attempt to avoid spoilers on this initial play through. My current plan is to blog about it, we'll see how that goes. I'm also considering doing some blogs about various Gold Box games.

EDIT: not?

Let's see if I get around to this eventually.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Opinions are like…..(part deux)

Blizzard has been really busy recently making changes to the game and announcing future changes. Like everyone else I have an opinion on most of all of these things and I thought I'd share them over the next few days. Today I will turn my attention to:

Recent Threat Changes.

So blizz went and changed the threat co-efficient on tanking classes from 300% to 500% in a hot fix in the past few weeks. As a proud owner of two level 85 tanks this change affects me fairly drastically. To be completely frank, I had a very strong, initially negative reaction to this change.

After playing around with it for a while, and actively thinking about it, I think I've changed my opinion on it a bit. Here are my opinions on the following comments I've seen around the blogosphere about the topic.

1) This removes the challenge from tanking.

This was my initial reaction personally. I've always been proud of my ability to keep threat on a target, despite the fact that sometimes it is a lot of work. This has been more of an issue on my Prot Warrior than on my Prot Paladin, but it affects both regardless.

After playing with the mechanic a while I've come to a few conclusions as to why its a good idea:

- My well geared Protection Paladin often had problems keeping aggro on a full pack of mobs in 5 mans.

In LFD groups dps seem to not notice that they are soloing a mob; personally as a tank I tend to not mark a kill order on standard trash packs. I'll toss a skull up on a healer usually, but besides that people pick their own target. Prior to this change, I spent a lot of time tab targeting around mobs to make sure I still had aggro on them, and often in trash packs I'd have to taunt nearly on CD if I had more than one dps doing 18k+. With this change I can safely maintain an AOE rotation on a trash pack and not expect 2+ mobs to break out and charge random DPS. I believe this should be a realistic goal, considering that a paladin with my relative gear level could expect to hold threat on a similar pack, with a similar rotation.

This change has drastically increased the quality of life for my lesser geared protection warrior; it was much harder to keep up with DPS on him, and at times it was simply not possible and I had to do my best and use a lot of taunts.

Long story short, this change allows a new tank to actually hold threat on mobs when they are being attacked by geared DPS.

- Tanking isn't about just holding threat anymore.

In Classic, positioning was a minor issue outside of a few gimmicky fights. Outside of a few things like Safety Dancing; tanks generally just had to stand in the right place and tank. Ony, all of MC, BWL, AQs, none of those fights really involved moving, none of those fights really included harmful clouds of poison, fire, etc. "Don't stand in front unless you are a tank and if its a dragon don't stand behind it" was like 90% of the encounters. Therefore tanks maintaining threat on a boss was the only thing for a tank to do really.

This model evolved in TBC drastically; hitting a bit of an apex in fights like Illidan where positioning was actually pretty crucial to success.

Now, if you look at most of the fights in Firelands, tanks have a LOT to do outside of simply working to beat the DPS in threat. Mob positioning is crucial in many fights. Often the "correct" position is a variable location that moves based on other factors in a fight.

Alysrazor, which I attempted for the first time last night, is a good example; tanks have to move their adds over to worms during tantrum, but have to avoid cleaving fellow raiders in the process while avoiding fire damage from the worms and while avoiding Aly herself flying down the middle and cleaving. Having to work to beat the dps in threat while doing all of that is not only a tall order, its a role that requires significantly more effort than healing or dps would in the same fight. Hence the "imprint" mechanic in that fight; as a tank you do not need to worry about threat on your add as you can't lose it without dying.

2) Blizzard is just dumbing things down, catering to casuals and is working towards removing the holy trinity from the game

Um, no.

See, Blizzard's statement on this has basically been "when the game started, tanks had nothing to do BUT hold threat. Now that mob control is crucial to a successful fight tanks have things to do besides worry if their threat is currently high enough."

Nothing about their statement says "we're trying to remove this role" or "mob control is being removed as a factor in our fights." Quite the opposite in fact; I think in this case Blizzard plans to make the positioning portion of the tank's role a bigger factor in fights than it is now.

So instead of tanking revolving around maintaining a higher threat rating than your dps, it becomes about making 100% sure you and the mobs are in the correct place, for that phase of the encounter.

I can't really find any fault with that.

3) Blizzard is bad at math and does not anticipate scaling problems within their own game design properly when completing the endgame balancing for an expansion. If they had they would have anticipated this and would have dealt with it at launch instead of as a hot fix.

I lied, no one else is saying this. I am. It's a very true statement. This has happened to them time and time again, since Classic.

Blizz always does this; not sure why they don't run the numbers and figure this out. That being said, WoW is probably one of the more complex systems every devised by mankind (when looked at end to end) and so unanticipated issues are going to occur.

Personally I think blizz needs to make up "phantom" last tier gear during the beta of any expansion, hand it out to groups of players, and just see what breaks. They need to have those "geared" folks group with normal folks and see what breaks. If they had done this for Cata I think we would likely have seen this threat change go into effect at Cata's launch.

A 300% threat modifier from a tank doing ~6k dps, trying to hold threat against a dps with no threat modifier, doing 19k dps is a simple math problem. 18k < 19k. If basic oversight had been performed they would have caught this, so it is a bit frustrating.

In closing, while a lot of people are heralding this as a problematic change, I'm personally looking at is as a mid expansion tuning change. New tanks can now pug in LFD and not be penalized when a high dps-er pops into their queue. People pulling high DPS no longer need to sit on their hands, if they happen to be unlucky and get a under geared tank.

This is a quality of life adjustment that is basically just necessitated by some unanticipated problems inherent in the design of the game at 85. To put it in it's simplest terms, this change makes tanking for pugs less aggravating, while having little to no negative effect on guild Raiding.

More opinions to come!

Opinions are like….

Blizzard has been really busy recently making changes to the game and announcing future changes. Like everyone else I have an opinion on most of all of these things and I thought I'd share them over the next few days. Starting with….

4.3 Will be the last patch of the expansion

This makes sense and I'm fairly happy about it. A number of other people have mentioned this in their own venues, Lore mentioned this on PST this week for example, but generally in WoW the last tier of any expansion has been fairly broken.

Not in terms of the instance specifically (although there have been cases of this) but in the fact that the enhanced gear level ends up often creating gameplay problems that had not been anticipated in the initial max level design for the expansion.

In Classic WoW Fire Mages did really good dps, despite being very RNG based. There used to be a mechanic in place for them that was referred to as rolling ignites.

They worked something like this; a fire mage would proc ignite whenever he scored a crit on a target with a fire spell. Ignite would cause 40% of the damage, of the initial crit, as a dot over the course of 4 seconds. In classic, if you proc'd an ignite, with an existing ignite on the target, the damage inflicted would stack and the dot timer would be reset.

So in our example, a fire mage hits a target with a crit for 1000; the target is now going to take 200 points of damage, every 2 seconds for the next 4 seconds. 3 seconds in the target is hit with a second crit for 1000; the ignite resets, and will now tick for 400 every 2 seconds, for 4 seconds. Ignite would "stack" up to 5 times, any subsequent casts after this would push an earlier ignite off of the table (i.e. when the 6th crit hits a target with ignite on it, the first crit cast would be pushed off of the ignite stack.)

The ignite's damage, and corresponding threat, would "belong" to whatever mage had cause the most recent crit on the target. "Ownership" of the ignite's damage and threat would then transfer to the next caster that crit after that.

Due to gear levels, etc, this was somewhat manageable in tiers prior to Naxx. In Naxx this became a huge problem. You can still find videos of fire mages pulling aggro on bosses 10-20 seconds into a fight. Naxx gear basically "broke" fire mages here; with that additional spell power, crit, etc, the damage on their ignites was simply too high.

Blizzard reacted by simply removing the rolling ignite function. Ignite procs, a second ignite now overwrites the first. An ignite proc'd off of a scorch, following a ignite from a fireball, was a dps loss, instead of an increase since the lower damage scorch ignite now overwrote (or munched) the initial ignite.

This massive problem in the endgame was fixed by basically destroying the main DPS talent of a spec. Combustion was really useful when rolling ignites were still around; after they were dropped it became a useless talent for about 2 expansions until they wholly revamped it for 4.x.

As a leveling mage that change took my class down a major step in power. Prior to the change, as a fire mage, you would usually expect to get a couple of crits on a target and would often get a rolling ignite on trash mobs. The minute that change went into effect my time to kill a mob went up by 25-30%. My ability to kill mobs, without dying, dropped drastically.

This change also possibly contributed to the incredibly lackluster dps of fire mages in TBC post T4.

In TBC's last tier, i.e. Sunwell, Blizzard had to introduce Sunwell Raidance, a dodge and hit debuff, in order to prevent tanks from being able to cap on avoidance. Even with Sunwell Raidance a well geared feral druid could become 100% unhittable, due to bad gear scaling. There were also issues with dps classes at this tier; a few specific classes had significantly higher dps than average. Most world firsts involved the stacking of these classes. Warlocks and Rogues I believe were the main examples.

Wrath had a similar issue with tanks and introduced Chill of the Throne, a major dodge debuff for tanks. Healing was another issue during this period as well in Wrath; it was common to take people in your party from 1% to 99% in one GCD due to the (comparatively) low health pools of the time, combined with the healing throughput in those gear levels. A few well geared resto shammies could save a party full of fire standing nubs.

In addition to all that, some of the obvious indicators of power are telling me we're really OP with current gear. My prot paladin is 374 now; I can kill most normal 85 mobs, without cool downs, in fewer than 2 holy power rotations. As a fresh 85 it took 3+. If I pop some CDs I can take a mob down from 85k to 0 in like 3 attacks, as a tank.

That kind of output, combined with my current survivability (i.e. I have a set that provides 102.4% ctc) is unbalanced. And I'm not even heroic geared. Someone in heroic 4.3 gear will kill a similar mob in fewer hits….things are moving towards "broken" rapidly. Two more tiers of gear would simply make it worse.

Up next, TRANSMOG!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stuff I've been doing...

So WoW and I have this odd "ask and ye shall receive" relationship; especially over the course of this year.

One day in January, after having been unsubbed for ~10 months, I thought to myself "gee self, it'd be nice to have an insanely compelling reason to log into wow again."

That day, my accounts were hacked and all of my toons had their inventories liquidated; including all of my T4-6 banked gear, etc. To resolve everything I had to log back in, and eventually re-subbed in order to get enough game time to get everything restored.

A month or so later, after leveling my paladin to 85 and getting him full 346 I started realizing I need to join a raiding guild to do anything useful. I had no JP upgrades, and VP was limited to 70 per day in a random. Since I was playing so casually I did not want to join any of the serious raiding guilds my former guildmates were in.

I thought to myself "gee self, it'd be nice if I could find a super casual raiding guild that is not progressed at all".

About an hour later, a guild advertised their need for a tank in /2. They were super casual, and were starting raiding. I joined, we downed two bosses that night and they gave me a Soul Blade that I won the MS roll on. I stayed with them for about two months before they stopped raiding, we got 4/6 in bwd, 2/4 in bot, all prior to 4.1.

So about a week ago I found myself thinking to myself "gee self, it'd be nice if some decent guild needed a tank for Firelands to fill in during the summer slow season."

…..2 hours later in /2……guild…looking for a Paladin tank……for summer raiding.

So, now about a week out, I've raided with that team twice.

The setup is somewhat interesting as I'm in a 10 man raiding team, in a guild whose main team runs 25 mans. The particular group I'm in was in another guild that disbanded; rather than starting over they joined up with an existing lv 25 guild and now raid under it's banner. Unfortunately the raid teams do not share personnel at all and are basically independent entities.

This is a phenenom I have not seen before, but that being said it is not surprising to see. The smaller group feeds the guild bank with the whole 10% loot thing, and with group instance runs, etc. The larger guild provides perks that the smaller one could not (including the Phoenix mount, which I'm now grinding exaulted to get)

For me it's been a bit of an adjustment because I sort of assumed I was being recruited for something a bit more substantial than what I'm working with. Since this group is independent from the main guild we tend to have personnel problems they do not, and the overall level of player quality and focus is not what I quite expected. So far, we have yet to run a full guild group in either of the 10 mans I've done and in two nights have only downed one FL boss.

That being said however, the core of this group seems solid and mature; so I'm going to sit back and see how things progress before making any decisions about staying or leaving.

At times I do regret not having a more open schedule since I do sometimes miss being in a serious raiding guild. As-is I have two nights a week I can devote to the game, at most, and the more serious guilds prefer 3+ nights of 4 hour raids. Unfortunately though I know the game, and my class, well enough that I figure out fights pretty fast. With the amount of content available, I'd be bored with 12+ hours of raiding a week pretty fast and therefore am not much use to a serious guild that wants to plan things a month + down the line.

I was in a guild in the last 3-4 months of 2007 that was Top 100 ranked; at that time I raided at least 4 nights a week for 4-5 hours, did Kara runs on weekends, and farmed and was on 20-30 hours outside of that a week. My core muscles atrophied during the year that I played this way, and I had a serious back injury (a ruptured disc) that occurred due to my overplaying of WoW. Sitting in a bad chair, for most of my day, with an atrophied core, lead to the disc weakening and eventually rupturing.

As a result I quit playing WoW; I could not sit up in a chair easily due to the injury for a few months and had little desire to get back into the game that seriously.

Since then I have never tried to join a guild that is anywhere near Top 100 ranked. I've joined guilds that felt they were serious about raiding, but lacked the pool of talent to truly progress or be serious; I've joined guilds that knew they were bad and casual; I've joined guilds that were bad and casual and felt they were serious.

At this point I'm almost questioning that behavior and my decision to stay out of a more serious guild. I'm a better player now than I was when I was in a Top 100 guild; period. Overall the game requires less time now than it did then, since we're talking about TBC and the game was pretty grindy back then. In theory it could almost be possible to be in a skilled serious guild, without the insane time requirement that was inherent in TBC.

Normally I would not mind it, but whenever I raid with a new guild I feel this. It is hard for me to keep trying a strategy that obviously does not work; often the less competent guilds will think their strategy is plausible, despite constant wipes. It is hard for me to be in a raid where the leader is obviously not being listened to; where everyone has a incomplete perspective yet tries to create their own strat.

I do not remember these things being a problem in the more focused serious guilds I was in, during TBC. The few I was in during Wrath were at least lead well, despite personnel issues.

Now I just find myself lamenting the disorganization and lack of perspective.

WTB raiding guild that needs a serious Paladin tank 2 nights a week……

Monday, July 18, 2011

The horrible Pug guide to the Jin'do Encounter - Phase 2


I've noticed a few things from the PUG scene this weekend. One of them is the fact that the last boss in ZA now seems to be a bit of a pushover.

Now that folks have been collecting VP for T12/378 gear for a few weeks, and are now reaping the benefits, I'm starting to see most pugs outgear that fight in the nicest way. Healers were often taxed if you got Lynx; now I'm seeing them end that phase at 60%+ mana. People fall into Bear rotations without prompting, Totems die during bird phases, and people aren't standing in dragonhawk flames for hours on end.

Unfortunately, it seems that Jin'do has not transitioned into a face-roll. This is likely due to the somewhat complex mechanics of this fight; along with the fact that your average PUG-er doesn't seem to understand the entire phase, from a holistic perspective.

At this point I've DPS'd it on my mage; healed it on my paladin and tanked it on the Paladin and Warrior. I'm very clear on multiple strategies and their possible application. With that in mind I present to you the Horrible Pugs guide to Jin'do - Phase 2.

Overall actions:

There are a few things to keep in mind while performing this fight.

1) twisted spirits are easily killed - good dps should be able to two or three shot them. If you are a DPS and do not have a specific target, kill adds.
2) Spirit warriors get a stacking damage buff - the longer they are alive, the more damage the tank takes. This means killing them early and fast makes your healers life easier.
3) Standard mechanics still apply - It's funny how people forget this but, um you are still playing wow in this fight. Healers heal, tanks tank, dps dps-es.

With the above three items in mind I'll describe how we want to perform the overall phase, to minimize issues.

When the phase starts, melee and the healer need to stack on or near the shield closest to the first big add the tank is pulling. The tank will pull this add to the shield. Everyone at this shield needs to not stand in stuff (incoming crashes, etc) but needs to be near enough to the shield to get there in time, if targeted for slam. Ranged should be on other shields, killing adds from range.

When the spirit warrior slams for the first time, have the tank park it in the fissure spot, if possible and have melee kill it asap. You want it to die 10-15 seconds after a slam, at most.

Ranged and melee need to continue to focus on twisted spirits at this point. You can honestly safely ignore chains for now. Move melee and the healer to a non-broken shield, if required at this point.

Tank pulls the second big add, wait for slam, kill it asap.

Tank pulls the last add, wait for slam, kill it asap.

At this point, the encounter will turn into a joke; if your dps has spent any time killing adds then the number up will not be substantial. At this point your healer should stick near your tank, your tank needs to pick up all the adds. Even on my prot warrior I can usually kill them in a few AOEs, so with CDs, a decent healer, and ok dps, your tank should be able to pick up and control all the small adds.

This places DPS into an easy role; kill chains, don't stand in stuff and try not to aggro the adds with AOE. The healer can stay with the tank, who again, should be abel to pick all of the adds up.

After a minute or two of this chains will be down, and you can collect your loot.

Why this works with bad pugs!

I've found that, from a DPS perspective, that the above strategy helps bad dps-ers because it minimizes target swapping and personal decision making. You basically give people a binary choice depending on the situation. When a bad DPS is faced with too many possible decisions in a fight they will generally not succeed. Too much target swapping can cause issues as well. Giving them a simple kill order of "kill adds as required till all the shields are down, then focus chains" prevents any possible confusion.

From a healing perspective, killing the big add after the first slam minimizes the amount of healing required on the tank and therefore reduces the amount of healing aggro generated by the healer. Both are helpful; the first prevents the healer from going OOM or from being unable to heal a secondary target. The drop off of healing aggro makes it easier for the tank to pick adds off the healer. It also makes it easier for the dps to pull aggro off the healer; which is generally not a bad thing. Also as a healer, it is crucial that you STAY NEAR YOUR TANK. I cannot overemphasize this enough. A paladin paying any sort of attention will never fail to pull an add off a healer, assuming the healer stays near the paladin. The adds spawns are generally slow enough that even warrior AOE will be off CD between packs. Put the adds between you and your tank, and they will not get to you.

From a tank perspective this is a bit easier since you will usually not have to blow CDs as the big adds wail on you. The early death of the spirit warriors means you are taking little incoming damage, so you can save your CDs for when you AOE taunt the entire pack of twisted spirits. And as a tank, never forget that you need to pick up spirits as they wander toward the healer.

I've done this fight with one slam per mob, two on the first, one on the second, and three on one.

One per, is simply the easiest in terms of dps requirements, hps requirements and overall coordination.

What am I doing wrong here!

So there is one major thing we're doing incorrectly here; I'm aware of it so I'm pointing it out. Post slam the spirit warriors leave a circular area where they slammed. This area increases incoming damage to all within it by 100%. This technically means you would want to dps the chains when that debuff is active.

With a good group you will. With a bad pug, its honestly less work to just control adds after all the shields are down, than it is to let bad DPS have to figure out a target priority when shields are still up. Yes chains will take longer to die, but this is not a race.

In closing:
I only suggest this strategy when we've wiped a few times and I know the team is incapable of the personal decision making required to be successful in this encounter. It is honestly best to let people try to learn the fight properly when possible as it is a good learning experience.

In those rare sitations where no one in your PUG seems capable of rational thought, much less learning and adapting, this strategy is fucking gold.

Enjoy your VP!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Looks like we made it….

So, to put it bluntly, I've been having a rough time with most of my LFD pugs with Tartainian (my warrior tank) the past week or so. I'm pugging into fresh runs more often, instead of pugging in at or near the last boss, and for whatever reason the pugs I'm getting do not end up getting the final boss down.

Recently I have felt that part of this could just be me; I do feel a bit bored with the current instances. I've run them so many times at this point they are really getting a bit tired. So maybe my lack of interest is dulling my skills?

Some of it has to do with the people I'm getting in these pugs. I hate blaming other people, but in this circumstance is it the truth. I have been getting pugs of mostly sub-10k dps (in ZA/ZG) that always split dps/won't cc/won't kill skull.

One shining example was my first ZA run last night; the dps consisted of a rogue and two DKs, all from the same guild. One of the three was putting out 10k+ dps, the other two were in the 8-9 range. One the first stair pull before naloriak I put a skull on the Medicine Man (because invulnerability totems are bad). The three dps proceed to all attack different targets. The frustrated healer doesn't heal them as they pull aggro. We wipe.

When the healer and I tried to talk to the DPS about the problem they were super smarmy and sarcastic. I get it, they were having fun; I wasn't so I suicided, released and dropped group.

Then something magical happened; I decided after about 4 failed runs to try one last LFD just in case.

Then I got this

Whenever I hit ZA on any tank I start the run pretending we can pull off a mount run. Since the timing is pretty tight, even with 3 high dpsing dps-ers, you can't really meander.

Case in point, in my 2nd best ZA run we missed the mount by about 30 seconds; I had lagged a bit earlier in that run which cost us the Achi, I've learned my lesson and come out of the gates at full speed.

I normally TC the first pack of adds going up to the 1st boss and then charge to the second. This tends to save time, but bad groups will generally dps the initial adds and pull aggro. I did that, on this run, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this group not do that and I easily kept all 4 mobs, and the later adds, on me.

Our druid healer never went below 50% mana so I was able to chain pull. After the first two packs I grabbed the third; grabbed the fourth with one up in the third and then grabbed the big add on the stairs (whose name escapes me.)

At this point I realized we actually had a solid chance as we had cleared the gauntlet in about 2 minutes and the average dps was 17k.

First boss died easily, no one failed on anything; we were at 16 minutes when he died, which was honestly the first time I've seen that.

The run to Maloriak was uneventful, he died fast, as did Dragonhawk. We only cleared on side of adds before he hit 30%; and tbh as a warrior I prefer this. Picking up adds three at a time on a warrior can be a bit of a chore when you consider the long CD on shockwave and the somewhat long CD on TC. I stunned the entire second pack with a shockwave, popped a TC and Demo shout because I could and burned the crap out of the boss.

Dragonhawk died with 8 minutes on the time. At this point we were all pretty sure we *could* make it, I know I was.

One problem, no DK, no Shaman.

Luckily Gator Boy was almost to the very front of his patrol route. We hit the water, swam around him very fast, got back on land, and rode on towards the ambush spots.

I chain pulled the packs of kitties, pulled one into two; pulled the remnants of that combined pack into the third.

Things got a bit hairy on the temple stair pull, because, well, stuns suck when you're a tank. Luckily we clear it, with about 4 minutes up.

I dragged the last tiger add to the boss to save time. As we engage I see my DBM "fastest kill" timer pop. It's about 3 minutes; the clock, as I mentioned before, shows 4 left on the run.

We have this.

Boss goes down, hostage gets released.

I unfortunately lost the roll on the mount but getting that with a LFD pug, of 5 strangers, felt really good.

Honestly too, the best part was the esteem boost. I'd been feeling bad about my tanking skills on the warrior recently. When I'm on him and things get out of control I have a harder time reigning them back in that on the paladin.

Seems like on the paladin, dps can all pick a different target, and I can just keep my normal rotation. Occasionally I'll throw out a taunt, but on the pally it's just normally a matter of using my normal rotation/priority.

On the warrior I simply have less AOE; if three dps pick three different targets it can be very tough to keep aggro on all three. This happens a lot in pugs; even if the DPS are from the same guild. So often, when I'm on the warrior, I'll see two of the 4ish mobs I'm tanking, peel off and go for separate dps. I'll taunt one; but them I'm out of taunts unless I blow my aoe one. That can often cause a chain reaction as I'll switch single target to the taunted mob, to pull ahead on aggro, and then something else gets loose.

To put it mildly it is not fun to have any of that happen, when your job is to keep that from happening. It quickly becomes frustrating, and recently it has dulled my desire to tank on my warrior.

As a result it was very nice to see what I can accomplish when the group I'm in plays well, and does their jobs.

I hate to name names, but I'd like to give a big thank you to the following folks that made that run happen:

Racket - Llane
Bocru - Earthen Ring
Warbit - Llane
Peach√ęs - Llane

Thank you for restoring my faith in lfd pugs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The brutal cost of game piracy, n stuff.

Taking a detour from Wow today to talk about something that happened semi recently in the world of gaming.

The short version is this; Capcom shipped Resident Evil Mercenaries for the 3DS without the ability to reset saved games.

Capcom claims that this wasn't to prevent resale and borrowing of the game but…that's pretty much why everyone else thinks they did it.

That being said I did want to take a quick second to review my own experience with a particular franchise as it relates to this issue. The franchise in question is Final Fantasy.

I first played Final Fantasy 7 on a borrowed Playstation, on a rented copy of the game. That initial complete playthrough was done at a friend's house with him since I did not own the game. Final Fantasy 8 was similar; played at a friends house on a copy I did not buy. I later played X in a similar fashion. My passion for Final Fantasy games was forged in this period (a passion so strong that I suffered through 10 whole hours of XIII before quitting :-) .)

Later on I borrowed copies and played on my own. Back when I was broke.

Then um, you know, I grew up and got a job. And stopped being broke.

Then a funny thing happened. Since I had spent so much time playing Final Fantasy games, I started buying them.

At this point I own Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX for the PS1 along with Tactics and the V and VI remakes

Final Fantasy X, XI (with HD) and XII (Collector's edition) for the PS2

XIII for the PS3

I, II, IV, V and VI for the GBA

III and IV for the DS

Oh yeah and XI for the PC along with the Advent Children DVD.

Bottom line, I played these games for free, when I was broke and all I had was free time; because of that I have spent hundreds of dollars on them now that I have money.

It's amazing how much borrowed/second hand games harm developers……

Monday, June 27, 2011

Old Raids

Since yesterday's post was about something I dislike (fail pugs) I've decided the post today needs to be about something in the game that I love.

On that note I'll talk about old raids.

My passion for raiding old content has been present for quite some time. I think the initial spark was ignited by the fact that I hit 60 a day or so before BC.

At the time I had read about some of the existing raid content, but realized I would not be able participate in any of it. Since you had to 1) hit level 60 2) gear up in instances for a while then 3) gear up by raiding through tiers in order, and I was not going to hit 60 in time to do any of that, pre-bc.

I had read up on the AQ gate opening event in particular, and that one really interested me. As a result I always had a nagging desire to head in there and see the place.

Fast forward to early BC; I've been raiding a few months and do not have any upgrades available from heroics. Outside of my weekly Kara runs (which take 2-3 4 hour sessions) I'm basically logging in to keep sharp and for fun.

At that point I was generally threat capped while running Kara. Tank threat in TBC wasn't great at that point and I'd often have to ride the line of threat while dpsing. I could potentially do more damage, but I'd pull threat if I did.

I realized one weekend that Twin Emps dropped a -2% threat enchant for cloaks and decided that it would be in my best interest to pick that up. Note that this was obviously prior to that recipe being available on a vendor.

Since I was bored anyways, I decided to start an AQ 40 run. Interestingly enough, at the time Twin Emps had never been killed on my server; and we found 40 people quite fast, as there were a number of raiders, who were now 70, that had butted their heads against that instance at 60. They were all happy to go back and were hoping to see it cleared.

Long story short, we cleared to Twin Emps and unfortunately did not get them down. At that point, I had never been in a full 40 person raid, and I was honestly hooked. I had really only raided Kara at that point; and at that time, Kara was hard.

It was nice to take 40 people into a raid that was basically a faceroll. It was liberating and felt like a game, as opposed to the raiding I was doing at the time which often felt like challenging work.

After transferring to Nazjatar, as a member of WTF and later Nascent, I was dragged through BWL and Naxx a few times. The following year, when I was back in Hellscream Marauders on TN we ended up doing Naxx almost weekly in the lead up to Wrath's launch.

Back when ZG was still around in it's old form I'd solo Tiger and Raptor every reset on my og prot warrior for the mount. These days I solo Kara on the paladin for the mount and for lolz.

The new tank is about 3 instances from getting the Outland Raider achi and has a full set of AQ bugs.

At it's essence I enjoy the activity due to a weird combination of nostalgia and relief at not having to "work" while playing. I obviously do not mind "working" a bit while playing (2 of my 3 tons are tanks…so…) but being able to let go and just blow stuff up can be a refreshing change.