Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cataclysm Newbie Thoughts

Since Cataclysm has placed such a large focus on new players and the leveling experience, I decided to use some of my beta time to roll a new guy to see the changes. On my live server I'm at the character cap already, and will have to delete a mule just to roll a goblin so I won't get to see much of the new content on live. So, I started up an undead warrrior; undead because I've always liked the Forsaken lore and warrior because I want to tank.

Very early on I'm impressed with the new level of story the quests show; it isn't all 'kill 10 rats' anymore, you're involved with several NPCs for more than single quests. There are also quests that begin automatically when you kill certain mobs (they don't even require drops), quests that complete and chain right in the field, etc. In Deathknell some of the quests are similar (first you kill undead, then hounds/bats, then spiders) but condensed: you don't need 10 of each type of undead anymore, you need 10 total, collect 3 bat wings instead of 8, etc. Generally they left the key story points of Tirisfal Glades intact while tightening it up, adding some new plot threads, and streamlining your path throughout the zone. Example: Once you hit Brill, you're given quests to go up to Garren's Haunt. After completing the quests there, you're sent directly to Agamand Mills without having to return to Brill to pick up new quests.

Once you're done with Tirisfal you head down to Silverpine, where the focus is on the Worgen. You battle the Worgen directly throughout the whole zone, eventually taking the fight into the city of Gilneas itself. This zone was a lot of fun, and felt almost completely different than it's vanilla version. You're working directly for Sylvannas here, and it really immerses you in the war going on between the Forsaken and the Worgen. Once Cata launches I recommend everyone go quest through this zone just to see an example of quests that put the War in Warcraft.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cataclysm Beta

I finally got in. ^_^ Copied over a DK, specced for tank and queued up for a heroic! Two wipes later, we're still on the first trash pull. I guess heroics really are going to be hard now? Not sure if want. You only start with blues, so maybe I need to grind some regular dungeons first before testing the heroic stuff. Or maybe we were just doing something wrong. More to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010

DK Tier Armor, 4.0.1 Prot Pally Thoughts

The wait is over for our Tier 11 gear; mmo-champion has a link up with nice pictures. It looks like each spec is going to have it's own color this time around, which is cool; I'm particularly fond of the blood set, as it reminds of the new Lich King.

Looking for a change of pace, I logged onto my Prot Pally last night to see how their changes look. Once I got my talents set (I skipped the Word of Glory stuff and took almost everything else in prot, then went ret), I put together an ICC10 PUG to see how the new stuff looked. With the Holy Wrath changes and Consecrate, I was able to hold AoE aggro very well. When we got to Marrowgar I main tanked him; my survivability seemed a little lower than before, although that might have been the nerfed Holy Pally healing me. I don't mind the Ardent Defender nerf, as at least it gives me another CD; LoH being usable now (instead of sharing a CD with Divine Prot) is also nice. The best part was my dps: I was landing 45k Shield crits with 3 Holy Power and ended up pulling 6.8k DPS as main tank; I outparsed our hunter and ele sham. The rest of the run was pretty terrible; our other tank was drunk and the holy pally kept DCing so we didn't get very far, but at least I got to check out the Protadin.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

4.0.1: The Beginning of the End

After considerable time and hassle downloading, patching, downloading and installing addons, etc., 4.0.1 has finally arrived! I got some hands on time with the DK tonite; I tanked a couple heroics and ran a VoA25 so I can get a handle on the new mechanics.

The Good
My unbuffed HP went up about 6k, from 47k to 53k. Things that factored into this include Plate Specialization (+5% Sta for wearing all Plate Armor; this would be 5% Str if I was Frost or Unholy spec), stats and a gem socket on Sigil of the Bone Gryphon, etc. We've gained a few new CDs as I mentioned previously: DRW as a defensive CD and Bone Shield, as well as a refresh on Rune Tap from WotN. Our mastery is nice; I reforged away some excess hit and the crit on my weapon and got up to 10 mastery rating, bringing the absorb on my DS up to 64% (can't tell how useful the absorbs are since Skada doesn't appear to track them well yet).

I had mentioned previously that QA and other auction addons were broken by this patch; the good news is that a nice guy named Supa94 has restarted QA as Auction Profit Master. I'll talk more about that tomorrow, but suffice to say it's an entirely sufficient replacement for the moment.

Other nice things include 310% flying on all mounts for only 5k gold, cool new UI elements for Character, Spellbook, Mounts/Companions, Talents, Glyphs, etc., an influx of players back to the game for the patch, and all kinds of stuff I'm probably forgetting or haven't noticed yet.

The Bad
The biggest negative I noticed while playing that I missed in previous write-ups is the change to Morbidity: previously it reduced the cooldown of D&D from 30s to 15s. Now, it increases damage done by 30%, but without the short cooldown AoE tanking heroics is a nightmare. I was losing threat left and right because, even specced, BB doesn't do it. We've got a glyph for longer duration but I really hope we get something that lowers the cooldown so it's available every trash pull in heroics.

Crimson Scourge and Scarlet Fever don't seem generally useful; I specced into them but found difficulty fitting BB into the rotation. On bosses it seemed a waste of a blood rune that didn't do enough threat, while on AoE pulls it was difficult getting diseases up, Pest, then finally getting to BB while still hoping to have a) aggro or b) mobs still alive. I'm probably going to drop them for BCB and/or Scent of Blood. The change to RS allowing it to be used while in Blood Pres w/o requiring dodge/parry isn't live yet, so I can't tell how much RP I'll need.

Our rotation (as intended) feels a lot more random now, due to Blood Rites (the old Death Rune talent that I never bothered with while tanking, but which we now get for free) and Runic Empowerment. Once the RS change hits, RE will probably feel a bit better since we'll be able to RS more predictably and thus get more procs.

The Miscellaneous
Trade chat spam is dead; you can now only send two messages in a ~30s period. Many addons are nonfunctional or crippled due to lack of updates. Stability has been surprisingly good, however; no world server crashes, instance caps or instance crashes that I've seen. There's a new raid UI that I guess is cool if you're a healer, but I'm not so I turned it off immediately; unfortunately I can't see my party while in a raid anymore which means I can't watch the other tank for HP, buffs/debuffs, etc.

All in all a decent patch that will take some getting used to. I still need to spend my DPS talents and try frost out, and maybe give unholy a whirl too. Then there's my other 6 80s...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quick Auctions and the like broken in 4.0.1

Blizzard is nerfing the StartAuction() and CancelAuction() UI functions to require an actual click or keypress come 4.0.1 (which goes live Tuesday 10/12), thus breaking most auction addons that automate posting or canceling large amounts of auctions. This sucks for me, as playing the AH is where I have a lot of my fun; I've been doing it since vanilla, and QA had made my life a lot easier. It's going to suck going back to manually posting everything.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cata Launch 12/7, WoW hits 12m!

We've finally got an official release date: Cataclysm will launch December 7th! At long last!

In other news, people who thought WoW was declining are wrong; we just hit a new peak at TWELVE MILLION players. This new milestone was met mainly by two things: players returning psyched for Cataclysm, and the launch of WotLK in China. Good to see that the game we all love is still growing!

Monday, October 4, 2010

4.0.1 Probably 10/12

Over the weekend, there was a minor update to the PTR (a couple achievement tweaks and some spell changes) which means we probably aren't getting the patch tomorrow. Should be next week though, assuming nothing goes awry.

Forgive the lack of updates the past few days; there hasn't been a lot of news and I've been busy working.