World of Warcraft: When to Do LFR (at the Moment)

When Diablo 3 first came out, the World of Warcraft essentially died as a huge number of players migrated to the latest fad. Although there still is a fair number of people playing D3, I think that the initial mass rush is over and people are slowly returning to WoW. The fact that the queue times aren’t as bad as the first week or two of D3’s release and the increased success rate are indicative of my theory.

That said, LFR still suffers from terrible players so it’s important to note when the best times to queue are. My feeling is that the best times are on week nights minus Fridays for LFR part 2. Mondays might be the best day as it seems that the vast majority of players hit LFR right after the resets. Unfortunately, you will have to suffer through the large number of immature asshats, but there’s a good chance that you’ll avoid ridiculous wipe fests along the way.

Saturday during the day seems to also be a reasonable period. However, I found that Sunday is pretty awful although at night it might get better. My guess is that the average person who might attempt to queue during the bad periods tend to be quite clueless. Also, I think that most people who wait to the last minute are these average players who get in just to see what it’s like. The biggest frustration comes more from the last two parts of LFR part 2. But if you see your group downing Ultraxion within a reasonable period, there’s a good likelihood that your group will not fail with regards to straight DPS.

World of Warcraft: LFR Looting System Suggestion

Although the LFR looting system will be completely changed in Mist of Pandaria, I think that the current looting system still can be upgraded with a patch. The looting system rules is pretty disastrous in that people with better gear can ninja items that others need while those that participate, perform their roles well and cause the least bit of trouble might not even see a single drop. As a result of this horrible system, it’s not uncommon for people to abuse the mechanics, leading virtually everyone to need on every single item drop (even greens that drop off of trash mobs). This leads me to believe that Blizzard should make an attempt to upgrade the system rules for looting. If they do this, here’s what I think should be factored into the equation:

  • Class/spec matching the item (obvious), giving the primary bonus
  • Secondary spec matching the item, giving half bonus
  • Gear differential with regards to slot (but bags and bank slots are checked¬† for an equivalent item to ensure someone does not intentionally equip a green or lesser blue just to receive the bonus). An example might be an enhancement shaman’s mail glove that contain agility and stamina and elemental gloves which contain intelligence and stamina. If a tier piece drops where a shaman can qualify and the shaman has both, but is currently using his enhancement spec, is wearing a green version of the agility gloves, but has an epic 384 version in his bank account, the system will “see” the bank account version and reduce his score so that someone who is wearing a lesser version will have a shot. If he were attempting to obtain one for his elemental side, the calculation will still favor his enhancement side in terms of penalizing the roll. However, it will discard a number of points in relation to the elemental version of his gloves and half that amount. If the shaman attempted to play as elemental, the system will favor the elemental side and not penalize the shaman.
  • Overall gear differential
  • Exact duplicate item found on toon (this includes bags and bank slots)
  • Participation in the raid (this would take into account not just the overall DPS or healing for a toon, but also the actions corresponding to this amount. That way if people intentionally DC, go AFK, etc. during a fight, they will lose eligibility in terms of points on a percentage basis depending on the length of going DC/AFK).
  • How recent someone received loot
  • Small overall “random” factor
  • Number of times a person has been reported, kicked from LFR, etc.

I think this system should take into account most aspects in terms of giving people a base score to use in terms of rolls. I’m not sure how much has been taken into account by Blizzard’s system but it feels as though some of these aspects have not.

World of Warcraft: Last Minute Gearing with Valor Points in Patch 4.3

I started gearing an Arcane Mage, making her my 8th 85 level toon. Since this is my 8th toon, I decided to write up a post for casual players that want to gear up their toons. In particular, I want to discuss how you can plan out your gearing process, partly with valor points and partly through the whole grind.

Let’s say you just hit level 85 and want to avoid the older Heroics. Since you probably missed a lot of the progression raids from earlier patches, you more than likely want to dive right into the Hour of Twilight Heroics. If you’re a solo casual player with limited resources to help you, you might ask yourself, how can you get into the HoT Heroics?

First, buy any epic gear that you can. If you have other level 85s, use your spare justice points and valor points for your new toon. Usually, I’ll buy the 378 bracers and 359 boots to start. Also, do the two Molten Front introduction quest lines as you can get a 365 cloak and either a ring, boots or necklace depending on your spec. There’s still a good 12 slots to fill, but your goal is to hit item level 353 at the bare minimum.

If you have the gold, buy an ilvl 365 (or 353) weapon, the Darkmoon Faire trinket card (ilvl 359) and check the Auction House to see if there are any additional epics for your class. Plate wearers, for instance, can typically find a belt and chest piece at ilvl 359 while cloth wearers have boots, pants and a belt from crafting. If you’re missing pieces, try to fill in the remaining slots with the 377 PVP blue gear. Additionally, if you’re an alchemist and/or engineer, you’ll be able to create a trinket and/or helmet at ilvl 359 respectively. If you’re soloing and don’t have any alts, you might consider taking this path possibly to get some epic upgrades. Usually, I find that by using this method, I can get between ilvl 353-360+.

One thing though is that I don’t advise overspending. You’ll end up replacing your gear quite fast so be prepared to make the appropriate investment. You might also attempt to grind out some reputation gear. Usually, by the time you reach this point, the gear you can buy from venders, the AH or Molten Front quests typically are better than the older Cataclysm pieces. There are a few exceptions, for instance the 346 rings that the Therazene sell. Also, don’t both putting gems into these as again, you’ll be replacing these fairly quickly.

Once you feel ready, start queuing up for the Hour of Twilight instances. I believe initially you’ll have to do these in the proper order. But I’ve found that you’ll probably end up receiving at minimal one upgrade per instance, even if you get unlucky due to poor drops for your toon. But it’s the quests that will probably some good 378 gear. Your goal for the first week is to do a minimal of seven runs to max out your Valor Points. Not all classes/specs will be able to get every piece of gear for each slot in ilvl 378. So this is where the additional Justice Points will help you out.

What I tend to do is focus on hitting around ilvl 372 within the first week. Part of what I’ll do is use my Justice Points to upgrade things like my necklace, which will not drop in Heroics. Also, you probably will need to find another 378 ring and potentially a 359 trinket. So JP will aid you in these cases.

Once you max out your VP for the week, you might consider spending some of it. With the exception of the hunter, all classes can get one VP upgrade for 700 points during the first week. Usually, it’ll be a relic, a throwing knife, etc. I think this is one of the better upgrades as it’ll be the Best-in-Slot item for your toon. Gem this one if you have the opportunity.

At this point, you should be in a good position to start running Dragon Soul LFR. Always do the first part first because it’s easy, provides some decent gold and you’ll have a shot at getting an item. Most people at this point won’t care about your DPS so you easily hide in the group. You won’t be able to get any VP (unless you hit the 372 mark earlier and decided to go straight into Dragon Soul) so your goal is to get the achievement and any items that drop your way.

LFR part 2 starts to get trickier because people tend to become more sensitive whenever you have lower DPS. I really think this aspect is related to when you run LFR. I’ve found that early on in this week, especially Monday nights, you’ll encounter more immature assholes compared with Friday night or Saturday. But if you get lucky, the group will manage to pull in some good DPS and players. Overall, as long as you do your job, most people won’t complain too much.

Either way, hopefully, you’ll be able to complete both sides and get a few drops along the way. I’ve found that it takes about a week before I start winning things. So just keep persisting and do at minimum the first half every week.

Once you hit that 372 mark, your next goal really is to fill in as many of your slots with HoT Heroic gear as possible each week (unless you get lucky with LFR) while waiting for your tier pieces, weapons and BiS to show up. This is where careful planning of Valor Points can make a huge difference.

Here’s what I do with regards to Valor Points: I try to avoid picking up any items that possibly can be replaced through an LFR run. So that’s mostly your tier pieces. Instead, I focus on smaller items like rings, necklaces, cloaks as I know those will become my wall. Typically, after obtaining the ranged/relic 700 point item, I’ll move onto the cloak since that is a guaranteed BiS item. But there’s a few more important points to note about getting a cloak. One, you can enchant it and two you can gem it. So this makes it a good #2 (or #1 if you’re a hunter) VP piece to obtain.

Afterwards, I tend to obtain items in this order from the VP venders: ring, necklace, belt, trinket, boots, bracers. I think the boots and bracers aren’t as high priority because there’s always the possibility that you can buy them. Also, for some class/specs, you might be able to pick up these items in LFR (e.g. the druid boots and bracers). If you have multiple pathways to obtaining a type of item, then try to find something else to substitute as your bet is for a similar item to drop in LFR.

Another important aspect to me that I alluded to early is the notion of when to gem/enchant items. Because the cost of mats and gems vary, you should carefully consider when to obtain gems and enchants. I think gems aren’t so bad but getting the enchants seem to be tougher due to harder to obtain materials. So items like leg enchantments, you might considering holding off for a bit in case you manage to win the item in LFR. However, as with me since I have several miners and a maxed out Jewelrycrafter, I handle my own gem making. As a result, I never have to worry about wasting mats once I get 378+ items. Ultimately, it’ll be your judgment call, but I think it’s silly to enchant something that you know you will replace soon.

In my case, I’m fortunate in having worked hard to max out my professions. That gives me a great deal of flexibility in crafting epics and other items for myself in preparation for Hour of Twilight instances. However, you might not be in the same boat so you might have to wing a lot of this. But this is just an idea for people who want to see some end game content.

 

At the same time, you’ll be receiving Justice Points.

I’m in Love with Charlize Theron!!!!

Okay, so her as the so-called “evil” queen in Snow White gave me a massive hard on in terms of respect for her compared to her halitosis, pizza-mustard-hot dog breath infected inability to produce any emotions counterpart Kristen Stewart. If Charlize Theron were, as the queen Ravenna, to manifest on this planet and declare herself queen of the people on Earth, I would be the first in line to declare my utter obedience. No strings attached (except the hourly sex aspect). I mean, how can you NOT like a woman who is perpetually gorgeous with the ability to extend your life if you can do her will? And she dresses bad ass.

But let’s go on about our wonderful Charlize Theron. First, she is the perfect match for me as she is a Leo and born in the same year as me. That means, we’ll get along great! Leos are excellent matches for us Aquarius folk. And to have someone in the same year means we’ll get all the cultural jokes of our generation and snicker at the little snot nose brats who believe they’re starting to figure this world out.

Most importantly though, she shares a similar passion of mine: onara. I think Theron’s main issue all these years with failed relationships is that her true soul mate was well hidden away. We have been parted for too long but we need to increase our biological diversity in this world. Hence, the true perfection between our mating.

Here’s the thing Ms Theron. You can continue to date models, millionaires, famous actors, politicians and others. But just like that king in Snow White, they’ll mean nothing because they’ll view you just as another pretty face, a number that they can toss aside. But true fealty is something endearing.

The New Plan (For World of Warcraft)

So I guess my plan of staying away didn’t really pan out. But I managed to get my mage ready for the Hour of Twilight instances. In the meantime, I’ve been helping a friend gear up his Paladin by taking one of my better DPS geared toons and running with him. The idea is that by covering his DPS and going as a group, there’s less of a chance that he gets kicked. In turn, when his Paladin gets better gear, I’ll be able to run with him on my lesser geared toons. Or perhaps do an exchange where his warrior can tank on my behalf of my mage. Usually, around the ilvl 370 mark, you don’t have to worry so much about getting kicked in the Hour of Twilight instances. More than that, you can start hitting Looking for Raid at the 372 mark. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up a piece of gear.

Unlike previous 85s, I managed to accumulate some justice points on my mage. As a result, I picked up a few ilvl 378 items on top of crafting and buying epics. I just need to run through the three instances once. You’re pretty much guaranteed about 3 epics. In my case, I can fudge it slightly because there’s a couple of questing cloth items and an off hand that my mage can use while attempting to pick up loot. Hopefully, she’ll be able to find a few more useful ones along the way before attempting to tackle LFR.

For now, I think I’m going to concentrate mainly on gearing my druid, warlock and mage. I might go back to my warrior and others. But I feel that I’m maxing out on those guys. Once those guys start hitting higher levels of gear, I’ll probably finish up by working on my rogue and priest. Can’t wait to start playing my mage on the HoT instances though.

Not Happy With Diablo 3

Diablo 3 certainly isn’t the league of its predecessors. Instead, the corporate machine of Activision/Blizzard has converted a once great franchise game into a soulless abomination. I managed to finish the game with the help of a friend on normal mode, but it was quite clear that the game has become excessively frustrating. I started playing Nightmare mode and found the fights to be equally frustrating, especially in fighting the mini bosses and champions. The sad thing is that the game halts your progression practically by following a similar formula to World of Warcraft’s grind.

Essentially, the only way to beat the game is play the Auction House. However, that notion is pretty insane and defeats the purpose of having a well designed game. You basically are tied to your gear rather than skills and abilities. The game also employs many one shot tactics found in boss fights in Cataclysm, the same lame tactics that chased away a good few million people.

Then you have cool downs for potions. It makes some fights virtually impossible without having an overpowered friend assist you. The whole idiocy of converting an RPG-like game into a stupid resource management strategy game has made me slowly hate this game (and Blizzard in general). Sadly, I feel as though grinding through World of Warcraft is more effective than playing Diablo 3 simply because I already put the effort into that game. Now, it feels as though I’m starting from scratch.

On a side note, I tried playing Heroes of Might and Magic 6 and found myself jammed. What is it with game makers these days? Do they simply enjoy putting high barriers to entry?

At any rate, the only time I enjoy Diablo 3 is when my friends are playing online. But most are far ahead of me so it’s hard to catch up. Either way, I’ll probably just stick with World of Warcraft for now (even though I said I was going to take a break). I just don’t see a lot of games that are enjoyable anymore.

Temporarily Quitting World of Warcraft

I got really fed up this past weekend at World of Warcraft because of the inability to really progress in the game. Ever since Diablo 3 launched, the quality of players in World of Warcraft has significantly declined (as most likely the better ones have left for D3). As a result, things like LFR and LFG to a degree have become somewhat impossible. It’s not that LFR nor LFG are difficult; it’s that the remaining people are incapable of handling it.

There have been some theories as to why the decline in players outside of D3’s release has occurred. One person mentioned that the various Scrolls of Resurrection has brought back older players that might’ve given up when Cataclysm was released and felt that the game at that point was too difficult due to the wall of Heroics as compared to Wrath of the Lich King. At the moment, I’ve seen that despite LFR being out for several months now, people still are unable to complete it. Even with instructions given by various people who are experienced at LFR, people still refuse to listen.

Either way, this decline in player quality has made moving forward with my toons in terms of gearing rather impossible. I’m just tired of the World of Waitcraft where attempting to clear LFR can take several hours. It’s just not worth my time.

Instead, I’ve decided to move with the flow and just play D3. Currently, I’m working on Nightmare mode and learned a few tricks such as using the Auction House for gearing. Also, I know more people who play D3 compared to WoW so there’s more motivation for playing that.

Fortunately, I’ve been normal mode D3 so I can move on to other things. I still have two other games I’d like to finish as well as some writing projects. But I’ll wait another month or two before returning to World of Warcraft. Maybe by then people will get bored of D3 and switch back.

How the World of Warcraft Talent Tree Really Should Work

I’ve discussed what I would do to change the way classes work in WoW. Now, I want to discuss how the talent tree should be altered. First let me say that the so-called talent tree being introduced in Mist of Panderia is a complete joke. It’s not a “tree” per se. It’s picking similar abilities that make the developers’ lives easier when it comes to balancing out each class for PVP purposes. Glyphs are even worse, but that’s an entirely different story.

The thing is that a talent tree really should be a skill tree, something similar to what was done in the original two Diablo games. Skill trees simply are putting points you get from levels into a particular talent/ability to enhance the flavor of it. The problem with WoW this entire time partly has been attempting to balance out PVP. The other problem was creating so-called talent points that really did nothing special for a class, except boost a statistic here and there.

Having a per-level skill point is a great idea in that it can be seen as a reward for reaching a new level. Otherwise, leveling is just a chore to unlock one ability at a time. Since MoP will have 90 levels, not every level will have meaning. Instead, leveling will be just a longer chore that only provides health and a few additional stats.

What a real skill/talent tree could do is take a class’ existing talents and enhance them. For instance, take a mage’s fireball spell. It’s considered a core spell for a mage using the fire tree and certainly is part of their rotation. The current way things work is that certain talents may reduce cast time, or proc another ability, etc. But all that leads someone into a rotation, which for the most part is boring and just another chore to learn.

Instead of forcing people into a rotation, the way a real talent/skill tree would work is focus on a few abilities, enhance those and provide a smoother game play. Compare for instance the way an arcane mage’s rotation works against a demonology warlock. You can’t because demonology warlock’s are horribly complex at the moment with too many things to deal with while an arcane mage only needs to worry about one button for the most part.

I think what would be better is focusing on certain abilities and providing various customizable options. Let’s go back to the mage’s fireball spell example. Right now, the biggest issue with fireball is the cast time. In the case of a fire mage, they have a talent to reduce the cast time as well as certain talents that help proc the fireball. But I think making an ability dependent upon the chance another occurs is kinda silly.¬† Instead, what I would do is provide say 3-5 options for the fireball that a mage can spend points into like reducing cast time, reducing aggro, increasing damage, increasing the critical strike chance, leaving a DoT on the target, exploding into a radius, etc. Say the mage put everything into all these talents. So the mage has one powerful ass fireball. But say that there’s a talent for shields. As a result, the mage is left vulnerable because they put all their eggs into a single basket.

Or what if we went back to some of the older hybrid specs like the Shockadin (a paladin that used holy shock as a DPS rather than healing option). A retribution paladin could then perhaps have holy ranged attacks that compliment their melee assault.

If we did things in this manner, we would have to define a way for scaling talent points. Some games double points each time they’re increased. Since WoW has only 85-90 levels, it would be hard to do it this way. Then you also run into problems where powerful abilities unlocked at higher levels might have multiple areas people were saving points for a long time. In those instances, you’d either limit the number of points people can place or limit abilities available overall to several core abilities and make talent points the method for evolving an ability.

But I like this idea. I think that there’s just too many buttons being mashed and most of them are pretty much meaningless versions of damage, healing, CC, etc. I really liked the idea of Diablo where you could put tons of points into a firewall spell and create massive walls of flame that last for longer periods as you continued putting points into that ability. Right now, you get an ability and that’s pretty much it. Sure in MoP, glyphs add special effects, but those are just visual. I want the ability to customize how those effects can work depending on my game play style.

 

World of Warcraft Needs A Massive Revamp of Classes

World of Warcraft originally allowed for interesting specs to come about as a result of a flexible talent tree. When Cataclysm came out, it destroyed the flexible system by forcing players to choose a talent tree from the beginning. Supposedly, the idea was to help “new players” in creating a more focused talent tree and removed “some unnecessary talents.” With Mists of Panderia, this talent tree will pretty much be non-existent in favor of the one that has evolved in Diablo 3.

However, the real issue is that the class system is narrowly defined into three types: tanking, damage and healing with a PVP equivalent for each side. PVP has been a massive thorn in the class system from the beginning since most of the real crying over overpowered classes have been as a result from arenas in trying to balance every combination. So the class selection is pretty much dull and narrow and just small variations on each type (for instance a damage-over-time vs burst damage, etc.)

At the moment, this issue kicks in when people have to work in PVE teams like raids and dungeons. If a healer or tank goes down, pretty much the rest of the group is in trouble. Although there are certain classes like druids and death knights that can perform a battle resurrection, you’re pretty much at the mercy of a random party generator in getting enough of those classes. Things become worse as an imbalanced party (say all hunters or rogues) can make an instance a pure nightmare.

The problem is that some classes lack any useful utility at all. Or their utility is really situational. From that, everyone then becomes dependent upon a few select classes, which just makes the game horribly frustrating. This is why I propose re-doing the way classes work in the game.

First, I think that the notion of tanking, healing and damage as pure roles should be eliminated. I think each class should have some capability for each role. My ideal class is the enhancement shaman. I like the class because you have good burst DPS, some healing (both AoE and larger ones) and some tanking (rockbiter on a weapon along with their totem to hold aggro). What makes the enhancement shaman for me interesting is how they can be used as to help with healing using Maelstrom Weapon. For instance, let’s say you’re fighting Yor’sahj and the Mana Void appears. Your healers will pretty much be at the mercy of your DPS until it goes down. However, a smart enhancement shaman could help with healing since their mana pretty much never goes down.

That’s just one example of a larger potential picture. I know Rift did something like this where each class could perform multiple duties. An example someone mention was how a rogue could be a tank. Why not? What if a combat rogue utilized stealth to evade damage? What if they put Tricks of the Trade on themselves to increase aggro on themselves? Or what if Beast Master hunters could tank by using their pets? In Icecrown Citadel, one of the bosses required an additional tank-like toon. It wasn’t uncommon to see a hunter or a warlock use their pets to hold some aggro for that fight.

The thing is that the ideas for sub-roles have been around for a while, but the expansions have slowly been eliminating them in favor of some delusional balancing act. Worse yet I think removing the more flexible talent tree system hurt the game in forcing players into a very simplistic mind set of playing their toons. People know only how to kill things for the most part but don’t know how to fully utilize their characters’ abilities. Also, I think that the whole balancing act ended up creating more confusing specs as each tree would get its turn for the DPS of the month award.

From my point of view, I see most of the talent trees to be pretty much useless. For instance, you have a survival hunter and marksman hunter trees. Originally, I believe that survival was more of a PVP spec or perhaps even a melee spec. But now it seems to play more like a damage-over-time spec, whereas marksman seems to do just burst damage. Honestly though, I think both specs are redundant. To me both are just “ranged specs;” the only true difference is that one gets an interrupt and some healing while the other gets a secondary CC. Beast Master would almost be useful except that it really just is a leveling spec. However, I’ve seen people level as both survival and marksman, so what’s the point of having a leveling spec? BM as a leveling spec made far more sense in pre-Cataclysm since you needed your pet to hold aggro. But once you hit 85, BM pretty much dropped off. Maybe it has some PVP utility but the real power lies in the pet’s ability to tank.

That led me to realize that survival and marksman should be thrown away in favor of just a pure ranged spec. Since MoP will get rid of the secondary weapon slot for hunters (or ranged for melee), survival pretty much becomes a meaningless class, something far removed from the original intent (which, imo, was more or less a Legolas-type of ranger who could dual wield and fight in melee). That leaves an open idea for the hunter. I think that an interesting possibility would be to add a healing type of spec for them. They currently have spirit bond and marksman hunter’s chimera shot functions as a healing type of ability. So what if they provided a group type of healing ability? Maybe this spec could have a pet that could boost healing. Part of the spec might have the healing impinge upon doing damage similar to how Chimera Shot provides healing to the hunter. Perhaps, the pet could provide low group healing while alive while Chimera Shot does burst healing to the person near the target (or to the shooter).

The revamped hunter idea I proposed here is just one of how I see revamping the classes in order to make them more useful and more interesting. But let’s take my hunter example further. The main idea I see with revamping the classes is to provide degrees of healing, damage, etc. Let’s say in the case of the hunter healing is weak, but that they could put talent points into a certain type of healing or more points into aggro generation, damage reduction, etc. rather than just critical strikes.

Or let’s revamp the enhancement shaman so that they can tank. Maybe their earthen shield is their major damage reduction capability. Rather than just restoration shamans possessing it, any shaman can take talent points to use it along with rock biter weapon. Part of their rotation might be to use a greater healing wave on themselves whenever Maelstrom Weapon procs. And rather than just dual wielding weapons, they could use a shield.

What about priests? Although Shadow Priests are the favored class to solo/level, I see disc priest as being redundant. Some people say that discipline priests are more PVP healers, but it isn’t uncommon to see them being raid healers either. Their main ability is Power Word Shield, which, to me, is where tanking might be a possibility. The problem is that I think discipline priests were designed more for PVP in mind. So having two types of healing specs can make things a little confusing, imo. I like the idea of cross breeding the discipline priest and shadow priest for a tank-like spec. You get the damage dealing capabilities of the shadow priest with the protective abilities of the discipline side. Perhaps, part of the tree would be sacrificing some damage with damage mitigation.

Then you have mages and warlocks. I’ve heard arguments of how Warlocks became mages via the Destruction talent tree since Burning Crusade. The truth is that fire mages and Destruction warlocks look the same: DoT type of classes that burn things. The only difference is that Destruction warlocks get a pet imp. Demonology warlocks had some differentiation both from their pet and the ability to transform into a demon. Supposedly, their pet can tank to a degree, but the damage done by the warlock consistently hurts the aggro of the pet. But when you look at things in the overall scope, you start to realize that Demonology warlocks aren’t that much different from hunters (except that some hunter pets do a better job at holding aggro).

Either way, that makes me think that Demonology has to be revamped to make it even more distinct from hunters. Or rather the warlock class in general. I remember how back in the day warlocks were some of the most feared (literally and figuratively) classes in PVP. Just DoT some hapless victim up and fear them. I don’t really see that playing style used much in PVE though and it’s sad because it reduces one of their more useful functions (worse yet , shadow priest have nearly identical abilities except that their playing style seems far easier by comparison). The thing that made warlocks powerful back in the day was their crowd control. Although crowd control made a return in Cataclysm, it feels as though every class has some level of CC and that warlocks aren’t that special in this regard anymore.

So what to do about warlocks? Again, I think the three specs need to go away. I don’t want another burst mage. But having a tanking type does sound useful. Still, that idea is too similar to a beast master hunter by itself. You need to add more spice to make this class interesting. I’m not talking about just a rotation where you press buttons according to a priority list. I’m talking about defining situations to make what you do more interesting. Maybe make a warlock more like a necromancer, where they can use dead bodies to siphon part of their powers. For instance, group healing might occur by using dead bodies to channel some ritual. Or perhaps those dead bodies might enhance the warlock’s (or their demon’s) power. If Blizzard doesn’t intend to add a necromancer class, I don’t see a reason why the warlock could not perform similar duties.

Then there’s the death knight. Originally, when they came out there was tons of controversy over them. Either they were overpowered in battlegrounds after hitting level 58, or they were confusedly played as tanks in instances. But the idea of both a heroic class and being able to tank or DPS in any spec hit a nerve with me. That nerve was that both ideas were interesting. It was the execution that stunk all this time.

My first death knight was a blood death knight. This was during Wrath of the Lich King. They were interesting in that they had good self-heals and some threat generation. Later, when I switched servers, I started from scratch and tried an unholy death knight. I got annihilated and went straight to blood after the starting zone because I missed the blood spec. Of course, the damage wasn’t as great but they still were pretty powerful and fun to solo. However, when I started hitting instances, I went to frost and found a fun, bursty-type of DPS class. Several patches later, I found frost to be almost as boring as an arcane mage since you’re pretty much hitting 1-3 buttons at most.

So in seeing the different type of playing styles, I thought a bit about how this class could be made more interesting. In the past, I think with blood vs unholy vs frost, what you see mostly (or at least originally planned) was a class that could tank via self-heals vs tanking with a pet vs a class that could tank with AoE abilities. That makes for more interesting conceptual game play. I think the problem in WOTLK with death knights was just that they could get squished since they lacked a shield and that their damage reduction abilities were far too spread apart between trees. Right now, Blood DKs are supposedly really powerful since their Death Strike sustains them (if you do doubt Blood DKs, go check out various videos of some that solo the Lich King or Cataclysm instances).

The thing is that DKs actually have some hidden healing talents. Better DKs use their Raise Dead capability. However, they also can use their Death Coil for minor ally healing. I don’t think I’ve seen any Death Knights use that ability, but it’s there. If the ability could be expanded, the Death Knight class could be even more useful. The thing is that you have to look at the class in relation to everything else, especially the paladin, which, is traditionally what a Death Knight is the anti-thesis of. That idea is what really drives a class more than this stupid idea of game balance.

For instance, before death knights in Vanilla WoW, shamans and paladins were really their faction’s respective opposites. Shamans were pagans, having melee and some ranged capabilities while paladins derived their powers from the Gods, had good armor but lacked ranged abilities. With the introduction of death knights though, I feel that this class is the true anti-thesis of the paladin since their abilities are derived from an unholy nature. So motifs like corpses, dishonor, and ranged attacks fall more into what a death knight can do. Since Death Knights lack shields, they ought to do more damage as tanks while paladins might be able to reduce more damage by having a shield.

Again these are just some suggestions and ideas for improving the classes. But I’m noticing is that what you really want are categories of abilities that fall into degrees of powerfulness. The special effects that go along with these abilities and the situations are what will make each class distinct. The main thing is the degrees of powerfulness. That’s where talent points should be used again so that people can define their utility in each area to a certain degree.

Now, here’s where the tricky part comes into play: raiding and instances. What happens now in getting rid of core role types and splitting it into separate classes? What happens to things like 25, 40 or 10 man raids?

Personally, I hate the idea of raiding. I think raiding is just a big clusterfuck pure and simple. I hate having to wait for 25 people to show up and I hate it even more when people come and go, drop groups, pull unnecessarily, etc. The only thing about having 25 people is just a big, disorganized mess. Some people may argue about the whole “epicness” of having 25 people simultaneously together. But I see the situation as just having more random variables that are out of control on average. Also, I hate the idea of grinding for gear. It’s stupid and pointless, not to mention it puts the focus of the game on the wrong areas.

But how do you deal with the MM aspect of the MMORPGs? Well, given that LFR is still in its infancy, we have to give it the benefit of a doubt and see it as a system that will be in place for a while. The more critical question is taking my idea of eliminating the simplistic DPS/tank/healing classes into more broader ones per class and seeing how they fit into raids, LFR and dungeons. One possibility would be to do a computation on the server end for an LFR that would determine whether or not you have enough points in healing, DPS and tanking to survive.¬† The problem is that really is just another form of gearscore or ilvl except that it’s placed on the talent tree.

In another model, you have pure versions of the three types of classes, except that each class can be of each type. In other words, a hunter can go tank or heals same with the rogue, mage, etc. That’s a good short term solution in that you eliminate redundant specs in favor of allowing any class to trade off. But for something like LFR, you’ll still encounter the problem where the vast majority of people only know one role. So even if a hunter could tank, they might not know how. As a result, you’re back to square one since people are just waiting for a certain type to enter the raid.

The last model is probably the most difficult to implement but potentially the most rewarding. The idea for this model is to eliminate pure roles from a raid (kinda like how PVE scenarios sound like they’re going). So instead of constantly waiting on healers to show up, anyone can heal. It then becomes the responsibility of the raid as a whole to ensure its survivability.

What happens if you get a situation where everyone just deals damage? Supposedly, in MoP they will be introducing a way to change specs on the spot for encounters. Depending on how that’s handled, it could be either really tedious or useful. I’m willing to bet on the later. Instead, I think what should occur is eliminating the idea of dual specs and making it so that you can purchase multiple specs instead. That might take care of some problems in providing more flexibility so that people aren’t forced to purchase a re-spec on the spot every time they hit an encounter.

Still that might not solve the issue of having enough damage, heals, etc. I think part of the problem in raiding is that it typically centers around fighting a single boss. Usually, the mechanics are pretty stupid. Two people trade off each other while healers keep them topped off while the DPS bring the boss down to health. Add a few more mechanics like adds spawning or the necessity to keep the raid up with raid-wide healing. Then you might have mechanics like moving out of fire or riding a drake. But for the most part the average raid encounter is stupid tank and spank.

The issue with this model is that you have a limited number of people absorbing damage while you have a limited number of people healing everyone up. I fail to see why the game has to be so limited in this manner. Why not have multiple tanks? Or what if spell caster likes a mage could provide some healing too? The problem with so many raid bosses is that they have wipe abilities where only tanks have enough life to withstand these capabilities and why you need certain classes to be able to top off these people.

These mechanics are too limiting. One this pretty much means that every encounter more or less is going to boil down to dealing with a single boss. And two, if it doesn’t deal with a single boss, then the encounter is about managing adds. But why can’t you have a big war where you have tons of adds, tons of melee just soaking up damage for the range to knock out? Can’t that be a raid encounter? And why just a single boss all the time? It feels like a stupid archaic arcade game where you fight all these smaller things leading up to the bigger thing.

The other thing is that some of these fights feel absolutely pointless. For instance, the dragon gauntlet before Ultraxion. All you’re doing is killing a bunch of adds for a few minutes and you can’t even loot them! Or the stupid slime encounter on Yor’sahj. What has colored boogers have any relevance in relation to Death Wing? But in each of these scenarios, you’re still dependent upon an egomanic tank or sleeping healers.

Now, I’m not sure how the PVE scenario thing might play out. What would be nice, if they took my suggestion for revamping classes, is that you pretty much “sign up” and the game does a check sum to ensure that certain minimum requirements are met. If not, then make encounters not boss centric but something more like a puzzle. You have to kill XXX in this section and that section. Or you need to solve a riddle by splitting up. Or maybe there’s a siege where your ranged are needed to take out people from a tower while melee hold their ground and absorb incoming damage from arrows.

At any rate, I think WoW has evolved to the point where it can be more than just hack-n-slash. Classes need to be richer. Raiding needs to be evolve too. Raiding at the moment is just for groups of people that have enough time to group up and coordinate against a boss. It can be more and linking that to how classes can and should do more will improve the game play overall.