Friday, August 26, 2011

Site News: New Blog Address and Affiliation

This is going to be a quick post about some changes coming to Redhawks Gaze.  First off, I have a new site and web address.  I have moved the blog to Wordpress.  In addition, the new way to get to the new site is  When you go there, you will see some familiar things and a couple of new things that will be happening in the future.

Second, in collaboration with my wife, we have started a group called the Grooms Blogging Group.  What does this mean for the site?  First off, it means you will be seeing me blog more often that I have recently. I will be returning to a once daily blogging.  Second, you will start to see advertisements on the blog.  I would encourage you to click on the links because the more business you give me, the more contest, prizes, etc. I can give to you.  It is a tit for tat situation.  Third, I would encourage you to go to the main website above to see all the new blogs as we introduce them and would encourage you to check them out.  There are going to be blogs about entertainment, politics, etc.

The future is looking great at Redhawks Gaze and I hope everybody will come along for this next phase of the journey.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trends in MMOs

I have seen many different trends recently in MMOs.  Some have greatly advanced games and some have set games back considerably.  Here is a list of current trends with my opinions on them:

1) Rated BGs - While this seems like a great idea and leads to a more competitive enviroment, the fact of the matter is if teams are equal, it comes up to either luck or gear, neither of which are great ways to determine a rated BG winner.  While arenas can be quickly changed by tactics, the tactics for rated BGs stay the same and it comes down to execution.  If excecution is equal on both sides, it comes down to luck or gear.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

2) Reputation Grinding - I know yesterday I complained about reputation grinding for Firelands.  The fact of the matter though is that games need reputation grinding.  It seperates those who are committed from those who play casually.  The issue I have is the style of grinding.  If you put your all in to it, between tabards, daily quest, etc., you should be able to hit the highest reputation with a faction relatively quickly, not 30 days.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

3) Looking for Dungeon - Any MMORPG that does not come with this standard will fail in the current state of MMOs.  This has been the biggest improvement in any game.  I remember trying to run BC and Wrath heroics with people.  It was a pain in the ass.  Even in Rift before they implemented the LFD, it was a pain in the ass.  This is a requirement for any successful MMORPG in these days.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

4) Add-Ons - If you are exclusively a WoW player, you may say that addons are a necessity to playing the game.  If you are exclusively a Rift player, you may say screw addons, just give me a highly customizable UI and I will be happy.  My opinion is that addons should not be a requirement.  If your UI makes it almost impossible to play without addons, that is a problem and is something that should be addressed.  Hell, free MMORPGs like Dungeons and Dragons Online have a more customizable UI then games you have to pay for.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

5) Free to Play - A lot of games are going free to play (F2P).  While I admire companies trying to increase their numbers, this is a false increase.  Sure, a F2P MMORPG may have 15 million players, but how many are actively playing.  Why do you think WoW implemented a F2P model up to level 20?  They have lost subscribers and want people to boost their numbers.  Going F2P is ok, but you have to do it for the right reason.  Unfortunately, a lot of companies are doing it for the wrong reasons.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

6)  In Game Money for Items Shops - Along with the F2P model is the implementation of spending real money for in game items.  You have two extremes for this.  One one hand, you have Blizzard selling pets and mounts in game.  On the other, you have Runes of Magic that allows you to buy nice gear, etc. for real money.  While I'm ok with paying money for pets and mounts, if any MMORPG goes to buying an advantage in a game however, that is where I draw the line.  Opinion:  Thumbs Down

7) Real Money Auction Houses - While not technically an MMORPG, Diablo 3 has announced a real money auction house to buy other players equipment.  While I like this idea better than the in game item shops, it falls along the same path.  People with more money will buy an advantage.  If Diablo 3 is successful with this, don't be surprised to see this in other MMORPGs.  The one thing I do like about this is that it benefits players selling as well as players buying. Opinion:  We will see after Diablo 3.

8) Guild Leveling/Challanges/Quest - This is probably the biggest change in the past year of MMORPGs and I love it.  This encourages guilds to run dungeons, raids, rifts, etc. together to get benefits.  It adds a whole new dimension to guilds that is incredible and makes it where you almost have to play with a guild.  And if you want to get anywhere in an MMORPG, you should be in a guild.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

9) Quest at the Start of the Dungeon - Yes, the good old days before LFD, you had to go through an entire quest chain just to get the quest that will take you into a dungeon.  Not anymore.  Usually, the quest you need for a dungeon are right inside the dungeon to begin with.  Especially while leveling, this makes it so much better to get good gear and gives a great incentive to stay queued in the LFD while leveling.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

10) World Events - It is so unfortunate that some games only have world events right before an expansion because world events are insanely fun.  They are a different type of daily quest that provide greater benefit and you actually feel like you are part of the world itself for once.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Goodbye WoW, Hello Rift (a.k.a. The State of WoW)

Yes, you have read the title correctly, I'm saying goodbye to WoW and my druid.  I have canceled my account which runs out of time in November and I haven't decided what to do with it yet. (Honestly, I'm thinking of MMOBaying it and getting some money for it.) 

So you may be asking yourself? Redhawks, why?  Why is a beloved moonkin blogger quitting WoW altogether?  Now, first don't get me wrong.  I'm not going to say WoW sucks.  I have devoted almost 3 years of my life to this game and it will be around for a very long time, maybe even longer than Rift or other MMORPGs.  However, there are major reasons why I'm quitting WoW.

1) Money - It is amazing that $77 for every 6 months is still the price for WoW.  I know that people will pay it and the market drives price, but that is insane.  It comes up to more than $10/month.  As many people know, I was recently married and while I didn't think a thing about cost in the past, now I'm supporting another person and cost becomes a major factor.  Also, I realize they made WoW free up to level 20.  And while twinking out a level 19 rogue and ganking people in BGs sounds fun, I would much rather do something else.  Rift's current price is less than $10 per month if you pay for a year subscription, which I would gladly pay up front to be able to save the money in the long term.

2) Staleness - I know people still find WoW content exciting and I still like some parts of it.  However, even raiding a little bit recently made me realize that the content has been used over and over again.  Same mechanics, same ideas, same fights.  And while Rift is guilty of this too, there seems to be a freshness with it that I can't explain, but you just feel.  You can run expert 5 mans, group together with random people to do a daily raid rift, run raids, run PvP, run crafting rifts, do the world event, do zone events, or do dailies.  They have even just implemented on the weekends where they change a PvP map to another game and it was exciting.  In addition, you got massive amounts of favor for it.  Also, look at content updates.  Since Cataclysm released in December 2010, there has only been one new raid tier opened up in that.  Since March 2011, Rift has released 4 major patches, 3 raid tiers, Cross-Shard LFD and PvP.  And they are going back and putting in a starter raid between expert dungeons and Greenscale's Blight in patch 1.5. 

3) Grinding - This is more of just a personal argument, but I remember the 30+ day grind to get the Crusader title in patch 3.2 and I have no desire to do that again anytime soon.  I'm looking at you Fireland dailies.  It is absolutely insane that you have to grind out 30 days to get the vendors to get the new equipment, etc. 

In addition, doing ICC for almost an entire year killed my desire to go back.  There is only so much of one raid you can do. We did the normal raid.  We came back and did the heroic versions of the raid.  We came back a third time and did the achievements for Glory of the Icecrown Raider.  Week after week after week of the same raids over and over again.  And unfortunately, what people are going to find in Firelands is that it is going to be 10 times worse because there are only seven bosses.  With the exception of the Argent Tourney raid, which in my opinion is Blizzard's biggest blunder to date, all the other raid tiers had at least 10 bosses.  And people tired of Argent Tourney too and I feel a lot of people are gonna do that same with Firelands.

However, I'm not just talking about PvE grinding.  I'm talking about PvP grinding too.  Grinding for the latest season of gear.  And while there seems to be a variety of rated PvP games, the fact of the matter is it comes down to basically two.  Capture the Node/Flag or Capture the Relic. (And that's assuming they put Strands back in the rotation, which I doubt.)

Rift has dailies and factions to grind.  Rift has Prestige to grind in PvP.  However, the benefits seem to come at a faster pace than what they come in WoW.  Sure, you have to buy the PvP set with favor, but after that, you upgrade them for Prestige without having to spend a single point of Favor.  Then they have added PvP Rifts which encourage world PvP, something that has arguably been dead in WoW since Burning Crusade.  In addition, they offer alternatives.  If you haven't had time to grind out the head enchant, that's okay because there is a rune that you can use in the meantime that is not as good, but still will give you benefit.

4) Desire - This is maybe just a personal thing, but I have little to no desire to sign on to WoW.  Nothing in particular wrong with it, but if I get on, I may check my auctions and if I have time, maybe run an expert ZA/ZG as a tank.  But beyond that, I have no desire to do anything else in game.  The raids aren't PUGable.  PvP is not great unless you are in a pre-made.  It is almost like a feeling of completeness.  I defeated the final boss of Wrath and most of the hardmodes in ICC before Cataclysm and I feel accomplished.  On the other hand, in Rift, if I find nothing to do, I'm not looking hard enough.  There are people always looking to run raid rifts, expert rifts, expert dungeons, PvP, etc.  It at times seems almost like too much to do in the game and I enjoy that.

5) Excitement - This week, Blizzard got the copyright on the name Mist of Pandaria, which means more than likely, that is the name of the next expansion for WoW.  I'm not looking forward to grinding out more levels, fighting with people for quest items, etc. in order to grind my way to level 90 or 95, whichever they choose.  However, I also realize that in the year and a half it takes that expansion to come out, I will probably have a bunch more raids and more content in Rift likely before even the first expansion comes out.  And we know from prior history that in WoW, there are only two more raid tiers this expansion before the next expansion.  Two raid tiers in a year and a half doesn't cut it anymore in my book.

So these are my main reasons to quit WoW.  It still is a great game but it doesn't have the allure that it once held.  Will I come back one day?  I don't know honestly.  Even if Rift does end up failing, which I doubt at this point since it has been the most successful launch since World of Warcraft for an MMO, I don't know if I can bring myself back to WoW.  

To all my WoW friends, thank you.  It was a pleasure raiding with you, PvPing with you, and just hanging out with you in general.  And don't worry, I'm gonna still be blogging, although it will be heavy Rift focused.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Best Warrior Leveling Souls in Rift (In My Opinion)

I'm sure many players in Rift are still leveling as quickly as possible.  I have my warrior at level 47 on the brink of 48. (Two bars away).  Having leveled through, I have played around with the souls a lot.  While I'm certain that this will change a little when we get start raiding,  (FYI Conquest of Emberlord is recruiting all classes and roles for raids, rifts, and warfronts.) I think I have found the best souls for leveling if doing PvE with a little PvP on the side.  Again, this is just my personal experience and may just be my observation more than anything.

When leveling, I think of a few requirements.  First, the soul should be able to put out as high of DPS as possible.  Second, they should have some mechanic to help if you pull multiple mobs.  Third, they should be able to have a mechanic to decrease downtime.  Finally, it should be able to be used in instances or warfronts.

Looking at these requirements, some souls would be out.  Clearly, anything that is focused on tanking would not in and of itself be a good solo leveling soul.  Those tend to focus on threat and mitigation but does very little for high DPS output.  And while Paladin does have a self heal, there are no real good mechanics to decrease downtime.  However, I would recommend one of your specs to be a defensive spec, especially when fighting elite mobs. (Also, I should add in that Hazeed in Shimmersand is a bastard and should burn in hell for all eternity.)

So now, we turn our attention to the offensive souls.  Champion, who is probably the heaviest of damage but also the most vulnerable of the offensive souls;  Paragon, who uses duel weapons and has ranged abilities; Riftblade, who has elemental buffs and more crowd control than the other offensive souls; and Beastmaster, which is the only offensive soul to have a companion and self heals in combat.  So with these four choices for offensive roles, which would be the best ones for leveling.

In my personal opinion, Beastmaster is an absolute requirement for leveling.  It gives you a companion who could potentially tank if you pull multiple mobs.  It also gives you two different self heals, one that can be cast on cooldown and a bigger heal that cost attack points but heals for 150% of weapon damage.  In addition, it offers 3 different buffs for while you are leveling and you can switch your pet to tank or damage.

This leaves room for the two other souls in your leveling spec.  The second choice should be really based on your playstyle.  You could make an argument for Paragon; however, I think the Champion soul is the best second choice.  One, it puts up huge damage with two handed weapons.  Second, it has an attack power ability that is a "kill" ability, Deathblow.  In other words, when you get an enemy to 30%, you have a way to finish them quickly.  The quicker you kill an enemy, the less time you have to recover.  Add in the fact that you get heals from Beastmaster and you are talking very little down time.  Plus, you get higher damage the faster you move with Bloodlust.

Since I don't see much of a point in taking the other high damage tree, Paragon, since you are going to be focusing on two handed weapons, this means the final soul is kind of chosen for us.  Even if you go deep into Beastmaster and Champion, you can still get the Flaming Spears in Riftblade and have a decent ranged attack.

In order of preference, while leveling, I would get Beastmaster to 31 points to pick up the bigger heal that requires attack points.  From there, I would get Champion up to 31 points.  Then go to Riftblade to get the Flaming Spheres.  This should be enough points to get to level 50 which at that point, you would go for more mitigation or damage based on your role in raids.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Single Meanest, Cruelest Technique to Use on the Auction House

Itty Bitty Poker Kitty

I have seen a lot of crazy stuff at the AH.  I have seen massive undercutting.  I have seen people trying to drive markets down.  I have even seen people for insanely high prices.  However, I would like to think that I have come up with the single cruelist technique to use on the AH.  This technique actually punishes people for not using addons like Auctioneer.  It also punishes people who use the remote AH.  But the biggest people it screws over is people who don't pay attention.

Let me set up the scenario I like to use.  Let's say that Fortune Cookies are the following on the AH:

Seller 1: Fortune Cookies X 20 for 400 g (5 stacks)
Seller 2: Fortune Cookies X 20 for 399 g, 99 s, 99c (3 stacks)
Seller 3: Fortune Cookies X 20 for 390 g (10 stacks)

Now, most normal people playing the AH would set up a stack of 20 Fortune Cookies for 389 g, 99 s, 99 c.  If you sell it, you would be getting approximately 19 gold per 1 Fortune Cookie.  Not bad in any market.  But how can you improve it.  You can't post it for higher without buying the other 18 stacks which let's be honest gets expensive.  Plus, you know more than likely all the sellers will come back and undercut you.

This is where the single meanest, cruelest AH technique comes into play.  What if you were to sell only 5 Fortune Cookies for 389 g, 99 s, 99 c?  You just increased the price for one Fortune Cookie up to approximately 77 gold per 1 Fortune Cookie. 

But the biggest advantage is how you played your hand.  If this was a game of poker, this would be equivalent to a bluff.  Someone who uses Auctioneer would see that your price to market price percentage is too high and would not buy it.  However, someone who doesn't have addons, like weekend players, or someone who is using the remote AH may buy it thinking they are getting a stack of 20 since your price lines up with the other stacks of 20.  When they buy it, they will realize they were bluffed out of 15 Fortune Cookies and you are walking away with the money.

And in this case, the best thing in the world could somebody come in and undercut you.  If you are posting stacks of heavy savage leather or bolts of embersilk cloth, you will be surrounded by both higher and lower by people posting stacks of 20, which means they are even more likely to click yours thinking it is a stack of 20.

Is this applicable to other MMOs?  Well, the Rift AH is kind of messed up right now.  However, as more people are getting to level 50 and having established characters, this technique would probably work even better since they don't have addons yet.  When they get addons, it would only be punishing people who don't use the addons.

So, I would encourage you to try.  It feels a little dirty and a little underhanded, but it is a technique that can make your profit margin higher.  Much higher.  And if you feel really bad about it, think of it as playing poker and you just pulled off a really great bluff.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Redhawks Gaze Season 2 - Electric Bugaloo

Redhawks Gaze 2: Electric Bugaloo

Ok, yes.  It has been a long while.  I haven't forgotten about all of you.  I hope you didn't forget about me.  So you are probably wondering where the hell I have been all of this time.  Well, I have had a lot of exciting life changes going on right now.

First,  I got married.  I have been engaged since December 2010 where I got engaged in Charleston, SC during a snow storm. (Thinking geographically, you should see how unique that really is.)  We originally were going to get married in late 2011 or early 2012.  My second big life event changed that completely.  We found out in May that we are expecting.  This made it where we had to push up the wedding a little so that we can accomodate the new baby on the way.  Plus, she needed healthcare to be able to take care of the baby.  We are going to have an actual wedding for all our friends and family in July, but we had to go ahead and get married.

So, the big question you are probably wondering is what is going to happen to Redhawks Gaze.  First off, I am going to keep blogging.  Will it be as frequent as it once was?  No.  Will it still be as informative as it once was? Yes.  Will is just be WoW?  No. 

Since all of this started happening, I have also formed my own Rift guild on Emberlord-US called (no surprise on the name) Conquest.  You can find the site here. (We are recruiting for all classes, callings, etc. for PvE and PvP.)  Also since I am having a lot of these life changes, I actually have a co-GM by the name of Lilstick.  Do I know what the future holds?  No.  Will I be MMOing forever?  Probably not.

So this brings me to part 2 of this blog post.  How will this site change?  First off, I realized that updating two seperate blogs is next to impossible and I'm not going to even try to.  So, as of this post, Redhawks Ascension will be deleted.  This also means that Redhawks Gaze will now cover both WoW and Rift.  I will make it clear as to which is being covered in the title.  In addition, you will probably see some general gaming post as well to add a little spreading out, especially if it is news related to MMOs.

So, as I mentioned in the title, welcome to Season 2 of Redhawks Gaze.  Hopefully, you will enjoy the new content you will be seeing coming up.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Most Annoying Thing About 4.1

I have liked most of what has come out in 4.1.  While I wasn't wild about Call to Arms, I have noticed a much shorter LFD queue time when going as moonkin.  ZA is fun albeit pretty difficult. (I haven't had a chance to run ZG yet.)  I like being able to do 7 LFD at one time and get all your Valor points for the week.  I haven't run AB yet for rated BGs, but I'm looking forward to it.  I even liked the fact that they reduced the number of Conquest points you get per rated BG win so you have to win more at higher ratings.

However, there is one thing that is driving me nuts with 4.1.  Especially considering that I pay extra for it and it is working like crap.  I'm of course talking about the Android WoW Remote App.  I'm glad that we finally have an armory and guild chat, but something about this thing broke the remote AH on Android.  I can't collect my gold from sales.  I can't put stuff up to auction, especially things where being on market quickly matters.  It is driving me insane.

Yes, I know that I can log in game and do all those functions.  However, I am paying $3 more per month for this functionality and I feel like I'm being cheated here.  Now, I could run off to the forums and complain like everybody else, but I don't think that will help.  I also don't know if other people are having similar problems to me, so I'm sure somebody is going to say something.

Am I going to demand money back?  Probably not.  I still have guild chat functionality, which is great, although I haven't seen anybody talking in guild chat yet.  I also have some armory functionality.  Plus, I use it so much, I used probably $8 worth of AH dealing for $3.

So, remote AH users, has anybody else been noticing issues or is this something that is just happening to me?