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?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Screw Pure DPS and Guilds in a Single Move

Blizzard announced something that truly made me ask, what the hell are you thinking?  In case you haven't heard, 4.1 is presenting a new system that will offer bonuses if you queue for a small represented role (read: tanks).

Now, this sounds great on the surface.  Bonuses for tanks and healers and shorter queue times for DPS.  However, while they get shorter queue times, the pure DPS classes get screwed over.  Let me make this  very clear.  If you are a pure DPS class (hunters, warlocks, mages, rogues), you will never have a chance at these rewards.  NEVER.  There will never be a day when there is an overflowing of tanks and healers enough to make it where you will get the Call to Arms.  Now, yes, you do get faster queue times which should mean more instance runs in, however, that will only help you for the first 7 dungeons of the week.  After that, there is no pont for DPS.

The other group that gets screwed in this is guilds.  A lot of guilds are approaching the level 23 rank right now.  As I mentioned on Monday, the quickest way to level up a guild is guild heroics.  This new system completely takes away the incentive to run guild heroics.  Thankfully, the perks are still there, but after you hit 25, what is left?  Nothing.  If I'm not getting guild incentives, what is the point of going with a guild group, especially considering that I have to solo queue for a chance for a mount or gems or anything else.

Hybrid classes are loving the changes.  As a resto/balance druid who has a good set of tank gear in his bank, I'm loving this new system.  When 4.2 hits and all the old gear becomes Justice Points gear, you bet I'm gonna try to catch up on gear if I'm needed in emergency for a raid.  And I have chances for extra gold or a rare mount in the process?  Yes, please.

So, is it possible to fix this?  In my opinion, yes.  One, it should change every four hours and just make it random, not based on what is needed.  That way, at least the pure DPS have a chance to get the rewards.  Second, if a guild, not just a group, are queued for the random role for the next 4 hours, the people filling that role still have a chance to get the goods.  Yes, this means that 1 of only 5 people may get the chance for a mount, but that person is not sacrificing the chance at least to run with the guild.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let the Race Begin

It is expected that my guild, Conquest (Who is recruiting for both the PvE and PvP sections. I mean we are really recruing for PvP.  See sidebar for link to guild.), will reach guild level 23 by today. (Latest will be tomorrow)  This means that the race will start for the first level 25 guild on Ner'zhul since I'm expecting other larger guilds to hit the cap at the same time we do and I don't think anybody has hit server first level 25 guild.  So how do you win the race to level 25?  I have a few ideas.

1) Run Heroics - Probably the fastest way is to have people in the guild form up and run chain heroics.  You get guild XP for every boss kill plus extra XP for every dungeon completed.  This will be the likely quickest way and easiest way to get guild XP.

2) Level Alts - This will be the second easiest way.  You get guild XP with every quest you turn in.  While the amount is less than if you were running guild chain heroics, it still is a hefty addition to the guild XP. 

3) Random Guild BGs (Not Rated) - Ideally, doing rated BGs with a very good team, would bring in a great amount of guild XP.  Unfortunately, when you can have rated BGs that last a full 25 minutes between two good teams, it may not be the quickest.  What would be quicker is to form 2 5 man groups and queue for WSG, Twin Peaks, or Battle of Gilneas.  A guild group against random PUGs should roll them pretty easily.  Not as good of guild XP as the first two, but not bad.

4) Raids - Break the 25 man raiding group into 2-3 10 man groups and clear out all the farm content with no hardmodes.  That will likely bring in a good deal of guild XP if you can get people who don't normally raid in your guild into the third 10 man group to complete it or alts.

5) Loremaster Anyone? - If you could have a couple people devoted to going and getting all the quest on their max level alts done, all that guild XP would be coming in.  It is better if it is an alt so that you are leveling them too, but if you don't have anyone leveling, you could easily send your 85s out to try and get Loremaster after guild level 23.  However, those 85s would be better suited to be running heroics.

I'm sure there are bunches of other ways to get guild XP.  I have tried to help my guild this weekend by finally leveling my mage to level 85.  The fact of the matter is a lot of guilds on your server are probably hitting level 23 right now, which means the race starts soon.

Friday, April 1, 2011

And Now, The End is Near. I Face The Final Curtain.

This post is going on both Redhawks Gaze and Redhawks Ascension.

It is with a heavy heart that I'm reporting that I'm stepping away from blogging.  Main reason that I'm stepping away is that I don't have time to play WoW or Rift anymore. 

My career has taken me in a very different direction than I ever thought.  I know I was a player, but I never thought that Jay-Z would actually listen to my rap single.  He e-mailed me and told me that I spit hot fire and he wants me to make an album.  I'm gonna be recording a new album with his studio, Rock-a-Fella Records.  He has even lined up duos with Beyonce and Rhianna.  I'm super excited to be moving into this new area of my life.  I also have talk show apparences for Conan, The Colbert Report, and co-hosting with Kelly Ripa on Live after Regis leaves.

I want to give out many thanks.  First, I want to say thank you to Conquest for encouraging me to start this blog in the first place.  While I was hoping to achieve the same success as Matticus from World of Matticus, you just can't let go of the rap game.  Also, I want to thank Qieth not for his blogging skills, but helping me with my new rap name, Quick Qieth Quipper.  As the first person to respond on my blog, I'm glad to honor you in this way.  Also, to Lufitoom and Tralina, you are welcome backstage at my rap shows anytime.

In addition, I want to thank all the people from Rift who have come on to support my new blog.  While I'm a little upset that I'm not gonna hit the level cap for a while until I become bigger than Jesus, be assured that anybody who stands in the way will be hitting a very different cap, most likely in the ass.

Finally, I want to thank Charlie Sheen for teaching me the philosophy of winning.  I have tasted the Tigerblood and now I'm succeeding in the rap game.  I hope to be doing some Charlie Sheen with you soon.

So, with a heavy heart, I thank everybody for their support.  Also, pick up my new joint on Rock-a-Fella Records, Q Cubed, coming in July 2011.  Don't hate the player.  Hate the game. (Which if you believe this, you just lost it.) 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Nerd Rage While Winning Friends and Influencing PvPers

Last night, I did something that I don't usually do in WoW.  I went on a major nerd rage during our rated PvP group.  I was leading the offense and was calling targets and telling people to CC stuff and things were not going down.  I saw targets that were not the kill target going down first.  I even had somebody say they were CCing the kill target literally 2 seconds after I said that person was the kill target.  In addition, someone who was not a BG leader was trying to change our strat in a Warsong Gulch, which I won't give away what our strat is.

Sometimes nerd raging is helpful.  Sometimes, it is not.  I'm sure we have all heard the audio with a raid leader just berating everybody in a level 60 Onyxia raid which has the famous phrase "More DoTs".  Just berating the whole raid usually does not get the results you are looking for.  That usually brings down the morale of the group.  A better technique would be to rage against one or two people who are not doing their jobs correctly.  That way, you may change the behavior of those one to two people instead of bringing down the entire group.

Also, the language of how you say it is important.  I'm not saying don't curse.  I said "fuck" at least once last night during my nerd rage.  However, endless cursing without content is useless.  If you are just cursing endlessly and not providing any help to people, you are just endlessly cursing for no reason and people don't know why, which tends to piss people off more than help them. 

Also, nerd raging is for during matches only.  After matches are for constructive criticism.  Don't continue raging after matches.  People accept nerd raging during a match because of the time constaint of the match.  People don't want to berated after the match.  After the matchs where I did nerd rage, I brought up issues that occurred during the match in a critical way, but not in a rageful way.  In high pressure situations, nerd raging is usually accepted.  However, nerd raging should not occur after a match.  After a match is a time to calm down and look at the situation as a whole.  Sometimes, you may even find that your nerd rage was over the line after calming down a little.

Final thing that is needed to properly nerd rage is balance.  It is okay to point out faults during nerd rages.  In real life, I work with a boss who routinely picks out faults, sometimes even faults that are not there at all.  However, something my boss doesn't do is make compliments when good stuff occurs.  If your team is doing a good job, tell them they are doing a great job.  Nobody likes constant nerd raging at them without any compliments on what they are doing right.  If you return a flag that is very difficult, compliment your part of the team.  If you have balance, your team will accept your nerd rages knowing that they will get complimented when they do stuff properly. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Site News: New Blogs, Drunken Podcasts, and New Update Schedule

I have not done a general site update in quite some time, so I decided it was time to give an update as to what is going on with the site.

First off, I want to say the biggest thanks to everybody who comes to the site.  In 2011, we have already had over 10,000 visits in the first three months of this year, something that almost took the entire 2010 to achieve, so thank you very much for your continued support.  I know blog posts have been a little slower coming around than usual, down from the every day schedule I was keeping, but I am glad you still come regularly.

Second, I want to announce that I was on the Leet Sauced podcast for episode 20, Redhawks Strikes Back.  I really would encourage you to check them out, not just my episode, but all 20 of them so far.  These guys are quickly becoming some of the most popular people in the WoW community and I'm glad to call them friends and guildmates of mine.  Pick it up and I gurantee you will laugh your ass off and learn something too.

Third, during the podcast, you will hear me mention my new Rift blog, Redhawks Ascension.  I know a lot of WoW players are very interested in Rift as well.  If you are interested in even learning a little bit about Rift from someone who has played WoW, you will enjoy this blog.

With a new blog, it also has brought into attention my updating schedule.   As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to update this blog every single day and Redhawks Ascension when I have something to say.  However, to consolidate my time in a little more orderly fashion and to provide enough content for two blogs, this blog will be updated twice a week on Monday and Thursday.  Redhawks Ascension will be updated on Tuesday and Friday.  This will also give me a little break during the week.  Of course, if big news breaks (patches, major WoW news, etc.), this will get thrown out immediately and I will update whichever one it is more pertinent to update during that time.

So again, I want to say, thank you very much, and I hope you continue to enjoy the site and keep coming.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Fix Feral Druids in Rated BGs

I know a lot of the PvP feral druids have complained about their state in Rated BGs.  In 4.0.6, they lost the ability to shapeshift out of snares.  In 4.1, they are nerfing Lifebloom, one of the few healing spells that feral druids can use that was somewhat helpful.  They used to be the ideal flag carriers due to the fact that they had travel form, which could help them move across the map quicker, and bear form, to help mitigate damage by increasing their stamina and armor.  However, they have been religated to about 4th line, behind protection warriors, protection paladins, and blood death knights.

So looking at, there could be some ways to save the Feral Druid in rated BGs.  Here are a few non-game breaking things that could be done to fix it.  I'm not suggesting do all of these, because that would break the game.  I'm saying maybe do one or two of them.

1) Make Shapeshift Useful Again - This used to be their biggest advantage.  Even as a moonkin, I routinely practice changing in and out of moonkin form to break snares.  (Mainly because I still can.) Giving them this back would give the advantage needed for them to become competent flag carriers again.

2) Kitty Heroic Leap - While a giant bear jumping the distance that a warrior can is absolutely ridiculous, the idea that a cat could do it is much less so.  Feral kitties already get Feral Charge, which is basically a jump behind an opponent, just use the same animation for heroic kitty leap. 

3) Fear - This is likely not gonna happen, but couldn't a bear have a roar that scares everybody off of him for a few seconds.  I don't think it is completely unreasonable to have.  Call it Terrifying Roar and make all enemies fear for 8 seconds.

4) Nerf Lifebloom Only For Casters - In other words, the game can already recognize if you have spellpower gear on and what your spellpower is.  Make it that if your total spellpower is above 6500, your Lifebloom is nerfed appropriately. Again, very unlikely to happen, but would give some benefit.

5) Make Barkskin Protect From CC. - Barskin is the ability that decreases the amount of damage you take.  Why not have the added benefit to have it free you out of snares, traps, etc. for its 8 second duration?  Paladins have Hand of Freedom, which removes movement impairing effects.  It would act very similarly to that but would also have the damage mitigation.  Either that, or make it a glyph that would decrease the amount of mitigation, but give you the CC protection.  Heck, if they make it a glyph, I would consider getting it for my moonkin/resto.

I'm sure there are other ways to get bears back up to the flag carrying positions they have held prior to 4.0.6.  I'm also sure that Blizzard is working on a way to balance it out so that all the tank classes can be reasonable flag carriers in rated BGs.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Money for Virtual Goods - Intrinsic Value versus Personal Value

This past weekend, my fiance and myself were discussing things that we do in games that cost money.  We both play Smurfs Village on the iPad, which is a cross between a party game and Farmville with adorable Smurfs as the workers.  We both have probably spent around $25 buying Smurfberries in the game to help us along.  The game doesn't require it, but it makes it easier to play.  With some of the players in game, that is probably nothing.  I'm sure some people have put hundreds of dollars into their Smurf village.

During the course of this discussion, we came up to the fact that it is kind of weird to pay for things which have no intrensic value.  I brought up that in the course of playing World of Warcraft, which she does not play, I have bought two virtual pets for myself, a mount, and pay monthly to watch an AH that doesn't really exist.  That is outside of the normal fee just to play the game.  However, these items have personal value for me.  I still use my sparkle pony in my rotation of mounts since I use Gogo Mount to randomly pick a mount.  I also still pull out my little moonkin and my pandaren monk every so often.  And of course, I use my remote AH all the time.  Add in all the time getting gear that just helps me play the game better, and I have probably spent as much as people who put hundreds of dollars into Smurf Village.

The reason I bring this up is we have the newest mount that can be bought in game soon, the Winged Lion.  A lot of people are going to complain again that they are having to spend money to get a mount.  To those people, I say that it may not hold any intrinsic value to you, but to some, it may hold a personal value.  If they want to spend their money on a flying lion, it is their money and not of importance to you.  You both have different values.  In addition, some people may not get achievements like "Glory of the Cataclysm Raider" where they can get mounts and this is their way to get something new.  Basically, whether or not you pay for a mount, it is your decision.  You must determine the value for you, not for everybody else.

Will I be getting a winged lion?  It depends.  I will be honest, from the datamined pictures on MMO - Champion, he kind of looks ugly, so I'm thinking no.  However, new pictures may come out where it looks incredible and I may change my mind.  But the value for me is how cool the mount looks?  The Sparkle Pony looked awesome, almost like something out of Ulduar.   Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for the winged lion.  Maybe seeing it in action will change my mind about this one.    

The point is to all the people QQing about another mount, just let go of it.  It is not your money, it is not required, and it does not give an unfair advantage to someone.  It is a mount.  And if you do buy one when they come out and are on the Ner'zhul server, fly around the dwarven district in Stormwind so I can take a look at it.  You may sway my decision.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vivid Dream Emerald - Useful for Moonkins?

When patch 4.0.6 came out, there was one new green gem added to the game that is centered around PvP, the Vivid Dream Emerald.  The Vivid Dream Emerald provides + 20 resilience and + 20 spell penetration.  In PvE, our blue gemmed slots will be gemmed with the Purified Demonseye, which is +20 Intellect and + 20 Spirit.  So the major question, would this gem be more useful than Purified Demonseye for PvP.  The answer is possibly depending on your situation.  I'm gonna break this into two different categories:  moonkins with offspec other than restoration and moonkins with a resto offspec.

In addition, if you are going for spell penetration cap, the cap is 228.  There is an enchant that will get you 70 spell penetration for your cloak.  There is also a PvP cloak, Vicious Gladiator's Drape of Diffusion that has 201 spell penetration.  It makes it look like you could hit the cap with just these two items, but you don't want to sacrifice hit for spell penetration, which depending on your gear, you might be doing.

Moonkins with Other Offspec -  Looking at the moonkin's vicious 5 pieces for PvP, this is the slot breakdown.

1 Meta Socket - Meta Gem of Your Choice (See prior blogs for my PvP choice)
3 Red Sockets - Use Brilliant Inferno Ruby
2 Blue Sockets - Usually Purified Demonseyes
2 Yellow Sockets - Usually Reckless Ember Topazs

If using PvE gemming strategy, you would end up with + 200 Intellect, + 40 Spirit, + 40 Haste.  If you take out all the blue and yellow sockets and replace them with Vivid Dream Emerald, you give up 40 Spirit and 40 Haste for + 80 Spell Penetration.  Even with the enchant on a cloak, you still wouldn't hit the spell penetration cap.  To hit the cap, you would also have gem with the Vivid Dream Emerald in your pristmatic slot in your relic, in your belt buckle slot, and in 2 red sockets, which means now you are giving up 80 intellect (assuming you would have used Brilliant Inferno Rubies for all those slots) as well to hit the spell penetration cap.

All this math comes down to a single fact.  If you are just building a moonkin PvP set, you will need to get the Vicious Gladiator's Cloak of Diffusion.  Once you do that, you won't need to gem with the Vivid anyway.  If you need the Vicious Gladiator's Cloak of Meditation for being hit capped (since it has Spirit on it), you will need to gem with the Vivid Dream Emerald to hit the spell penetration cap, but be prepared to give up a lot of helpful DPS stats to get it.

Moonkins with Resto Offspec - First thing that is necessary is knowing spell penetration does nothing for heals at all.  It has no benefit.  A few blog post ago, I mentioned that you can switch out 2 of our moonkin 5 piece to get the resilience bonus for your restoration spec and pick up more spirit.  The two pieces in particular were the shoulders and the chest.  The two blue gem sockets and one of the yellow gem sockets are still around.  So now, you have 60 spell penetration in a restoraton set that doesn't matter about it. 

If you are a moonkin with a restoration offspec, you should never gem spell penetration in your gear, which means you can forget about the Vivid Dream Emerald.  You can save up your Conquest points and get the Vicious Gladiator's Cloak of Diffusion to use just for moonkin alone and get the spell penetration enchant.  But have it as a seperate equipment set, not as a part of the shared set.

So all in all, the biggest advice I could give is go for the Vicious Gladiator's Cloak of Diffusion and forget about using Vivid Dream Emeralds entirely.    However, remember, don't sacrifice hit for spell penetration.  It is useful, but not more useful than hit.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Get a Rated BG Group from Trade Chat

Last night, I did something that I thought was a little bold on my part.  I tried building a PUG rated BG group.  I mostly did it just for fun to see how it would go.  Here is the thought process behind building a rated BG comp from PUGs that I developed during the night.

1) Lay Down the Requirements - I had a lot of people message me when I posted I was looking for more for rated BGs saying they had 1k to 2k resielience.  The fact of the matter is most people I have run into in rated BGs have at least the Bloodthirsty Gladiator set and quite a few have the full Vicious Gladiator set for their class/spec.  If you are coming in with less than 3k resilience, you are gonna get smacked around a bit.  I made it crystal clear that everybody had to have at least 3k resilience.  The other requirement I had was that everybody needed to download Mumble for communication sakes.  Believe or not, some people have problems downloading Mumble.  I had people refuse to come to a pretty good rated BG group because they didn't want to download Mumble.

2) Setting Up an Ideal Composition - Knowing that 2 of the current 3 rated BGs involved capture the flag, I built the PUG rated BG group around this.  Here is the composition I decided to go with:

One flag runner (Prot Warrior, Feral Druid with Tank Gemming/Enchanting, Blood DK, Prot Pally)

Three main heals (Any healing class would be fine, but prefer three different healing classes.)

One DPS/Heals - Somebody willing to DPS in Gilneas but heal in the other two. (Moonkin/Resto druid is excellent for this.)

Five DPS split into three categories:  Three heavy CC ranged classes (Mage, Warlock, etc.), one heavy CC melee class (Subtelty Rogue usually),  and one high DPS (any class)

3) Questions to Ask - Of course, if you meet the class and resilience requirement, it doesn't mean you would get in necessarily.   I asked each person about their rated BG experience.  First question I usually asked is what is your current rated BG rating.  Having a low rating did not necessarily exclude you from coming, but I was going to keep more of an eye on you and if you started failing, you would be replaced.  In addition, some people with really high resilience has just had problems finding rated BG groups, so I was willing to give people a chance.  I also asked about their arena rating to get an idea of how much they PvP, etc.   This is all important.

4) Breaking Hearts - Sometimes, you have to let people down easy.  For example, I got about 5 mages asking to come.  However, we were already full on mages.  So I would whisper them back and tell them that we are full on mages, but hang around and if something happens, I could bring them in.

5) Set Up Expectations - Once everybody gets in your communication device of choice, you should set up expectations.  I told them up front that I would explain strats as we got to the BGs.  I also told them to make sure they are communicating and calling their CC.  It is important to tell them what you are expecting from them as a rated BG team up front.  Find the problems early and correct as soon as possible. 

As one of the leaders of my guild's rated BG group, I also have additional important roles.  I need to watch these PUGs to see who I would and would not want to bring back if we needed people again.  There may even be people we want to encourage to come join our guild and our rated BG group. 

Final thing I can say is give yourself some time.  It took about an hour and a half to build a group I was comfortable with, we went into one Gilneas BG, won, and then had two people drop.  We replaced one but could never find a healer to replace the other, so after about 30 minutes of going through trade chat, we had to call it.  The lesson I learned last night is to get on early to start finding people if you think you may need to PUG some people for your normal rated BG group.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blizzard's New Patching Strategy - A Great Deal

Last week, Blizzard mentioned that the new Firelands raid would not appear until patch 4.2, skipping patch 4.1 entirely.  This is a huge shift from their strategy in Wrath of the Lich King.  In Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard released 3.1, which was Ulduar; 3.2, which was the Argent Tournament; and 3.3 which was Icecrown.  Yes, they did add Ruby Sanctum in 3.3.5, but that was just a small addition like the VoA bosses.  However, in Wrath patches, they only added 4 more 5 mans with 3 of those coming in the Icecrown patch and 1 additional BG, Isle of Conquest, in 3.2. 

If more frequent patching means more stuff for everybody, I am all for it.  Look at what we know we are getting in 4.1.  We are getting two 5 man dungeons with epic gear and rare mounts in them.  And we know for a fact that Abyssal Maw is coming in 4.2 with the Firelands raid.  And they still likely have 2 tiers of content after that.  With going back to old world content, they are opening up the ability to have all the dungeons tuned to level 85 heroics.  We could easily see 5 - 7 more 5 mans and at least 3 more raids.  If they add in a few more BGs then it will be absolutely perfect.  We know for a fact that we are getting 3 15 man BGs retuned for rated BGs.

In addition to expected content, they are going to be adding in guild quest, new questing area for Firelands raid, and new achievements. Who knows what else they are going to have for patches 4.2 and beyond.  Path of the Titans may make a comeback.  They might fix archaeology to not make it more boring than fishing.  The more they can push our in smaller patches, the happier everybody will be.

The main reason I think the are doing this is because of what I'm calling the great drought of 2010.  In December 2009, they released Icecrown.  From December 2009 until December 2010, there was only one minor content patch and no major content patches at all.  As much as I loved Icecrown as a raid, by the time July rolled around, it was getting kind of stale.  Hopefully, this new strategy from Blizzard will prevent another content drought from occuring.  In fact, Blizzard can't have another drought like that.  Rift has already come out and is garnering a lot of attention.  Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out this year and will garner a lot of attention as well.  If they have even a 6 month drought this year, there are two viable MMOs ready to take their place this time.

So bravo Blizzard for doing smaller content patches to help keep the game fresh.  Hopefully, this strategy will pay off for you in this year where you may have the hardest competition yet.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Resto Druid PvP - The Major Gear Question

Just wait and see how much you will be freaked out when it turns back into a person or a dog.
Yes, this old moonkin has decided to try out being a resto druid in PvP for a bit.  My main spec is still moonkin.  However, the PvP gear does not have any hit on it which makes it nice to also use it for resto druid spec for PvP.

I have said mutliple times that the balance 4 set PvP bonus is incredible and every moonkin should have it if you are PvPing.  However, if you are building a resto set, should you go for the 4 piece bonus or get the additional resilience?

 My suggestion is to go 2 and 3 on the resto PvP set with the balance set in order to get the 400 additional resilience. (Note:  This will hold true until 4.1 at least.  With the resilience change, this answer may or may not change.)

Let us take a quick look at the restoration 4 piece set bonuses.  The 4 piece set restoration bonus  for PvP is:

4 Piece: Reduces the Cooldown on your Swiftmend ability by 2 seconds.
4 Piece: Increases Intellect by 180.

Swiftmend is currently on a 15 second cooldown.  It also should be glyphed anyway so that you can keep HoTs up while using Swiftmend.  In addition, if you have talented into Efforvesence, which I have, then you have another HoT being used.   The difference between 13 seconds and 15 seconds is neglibile if I'm not alive though.

As for the 2 piece + 400 resilience bonus for the restoration set, it decreases damage by 6.87% going from a full resto set to breaking it up between 2 restoration and 3 piece balance set or vice versa.  6.87% is alot of damage mitigation.  If someone hits you for a 30k hit in the 4 piece restoration set, you will decrease the hit to 28k hit with a 2 and 3 setup.  The 2k difference could be the difference between saving yourself or a flag carrier and dieing.

So, the next question is if you are like me and have the full balance PvP set, what two pieces of restoration gear do you pick up for honor.  Looking at the difference betwen balance and restoration, here are the importance of stats as of right now.

  Moonkin: Spirit (to 5% hit cap) > Hit (to 5% hit cap) > Intellect > Haste > Resilience > Critical Strike > Mastery

Restoration: Intellect > Spirit > Haste > Resilience > Mastery > Critical Strike

Some explanation.  In the moonkin order of importance, spirit is only useful to the PvP hit cap (which is 5%).  Hit can be used but none of the PvP gear for moonkins I have seen has hit on it anyway.  Then as a DPS, you want the things that will increase your DPS, mainly intellect and haste.  From there, you want to stay alive, so you get resilience (although you would never gem for resilience anyway).  From there, critical strike rating and mastery.  However, for healers, this changes up slightly.  The purpose of the healers is to stay alive and to keep their target alive.  To keep their people alive, you need the strongest heals you can get.  You will get this from Intellect, Spirit, and Haste.  Spirit also helps with in combat mana restoration.  From there, resilience is the next most important stat in order to keep yourself alive.  Again, I wouldn't gem or enchant for resilience, but you can if you want.  From there, mastery and critical strike rating with mastery being ahead of critical strike for restoration.

Since spirit is the second most valuable stat to a restoration PvPers, it should go without saying that you want to pick up the PvP pieces with spirit.  With the spirit PvP set, there are only two pieces with spirit, while the moonkin set has no Spirit on it.  The Bloody/Vicious Gladiator's Kodohide Spaulders and Robes (links are for the Vicious set) would be my choice.  Combined, they give you and additional 311 spirit in the Bloody set and 360 with the Vicious set.  In addition, you should have picked up some other gear with spirit already to hit your hit cap as a moonkin so you should have a good amount of spirit.

So, if you are doing both balance and restoration in PvP, you shouldn't have to change up your gear alot.  You may however, want to get the resilience bonus from not going with your 4 piece restoration set by splitting up your moonkin set into a 3 balance and 2 restoration piece set.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Hopes for Rated BGs for 4.1

Earlier this week, I talked about the current PTR patch notes for patch 4.1.  While there were a few battleground changes, there was not a lot of talk about something that I have been looking for since they moved all rated BGs to 10 vs. 10.   Reworking the 15 man BGs into 10 man BGs. 

Nothing against the current 10 vs. 10 battlegrounds, but they are starting to get a little stale.  Two of them are played exactly the same while Gilneas is actually a different BG, which may be why I'm enjoying it a little more right now.  Here are some ideas I have on making the 15 man BGs into new 10 man rated BGs.

Arathi Basin - Considering defense is gonna be harder spread out over 5 nodes, they need to make flag caps shorter in Arathi Basin, maybe 30 seconds to change faction.  That way, it punishes the team that zergs and rewards the team that coordinates.  In that case, each node becomes a little 4 vs. 4 or 3 vs. 3 arena match.  Playing smart defense would also be necessary.  There would be very little incentive to push a 4th node so it would come down to straight PvP.

Strand of the Ancients - Of all the BGs, this would be the hardest to change. (And truth be told, I personally wouldn't be hurt if they didn't change it.)  However, since we are dealing with fewer people, the battlefield needs to be shorted slightly.  Maybe you only have to break the blue or green gate, then have a wide PvP area leading up to the yellow gate and the relic chamber.  In addition, I would take away the time limit for the 1st offense team or at least make it longer since you are dealing with less people.  In addition, make the explosive charges do more damage and the demolishers do less or make the demolishers squishy.  As of right now, the focus on Strand of the Ancients isn't PvP, it is kill the demolishers.  If they upped the damage of the explosive charges, it would be more incentive to PvP, especially if they made it where you drop the charges if you die.

Eye of the Storm - Of all the 15 man BGs, this is the one where they can probably get away with making no changes.  Area caps are based on number of alive people.  The flag is still in the middle.  I can't see any reliable zerg strat that would work.  It would probably go into a 2 node vs. 2 node situation with PvP right in the middle for the flag, which means flag caps would likely decide the winner.  My one big request in all of this is for Blizzard to do what they do in Tol Barad.  Put Slowfall automatically on the players at the start of the game so they don't take fall damage.  I know they did not do it at one time, but they set a precedent with Tol Barad for the defense team.

So, I'm hoping, sooner rather than later, that we get the redone 15 man BGs into 10 man rated BGs.  I would be happy with even new BGs. (An underwater Vashj'ir BG would be awesome.)   If I had to design one, it would be a one flag capture the flag.  Each team has a base with multiple entrances.  There is a flag in the middle that everyone is going for.  You get 100 points per cap, first team to 1000 wins.   It would literally be a 10 man versus 10 man arena fight for the flag every time.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

From a British Shorthair, this quote is not surprising.

Notice:  If you come here for moonkin/druid/PvP/WoW talk, you can come back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled WoW blog post.  I just wanted to take one blog post to talk about the new MMORPG, Rift.

No man can live by bread alone.  As much fun as WoW is, there are times you have to try playing some other games.  For some, it may be Call of Duty: Black Ops or Halo: Reach.  For others, it may be Starcraft II.  I recently have been trying to diversify my game playing a little.  I first started with DC Universe Online.  While I'm sure I will return to it sometime, it just wasn't enough to hold my interest.   This could mainly be because I have never been a huge fan of comics.  However, when I heard the discussion about Rift, it sounded incredibly interesting.  From the description I initially heard, it was WoW plus prettier graphics.  I thought I would try it out some.  What I found when I started playing Rift in the Head Start was something more incredible than I could have come up with.

I first started off playing Guardian.  Nothing against the Guardian starting area, but it seemed to be same old, same old.  It starts off in the current game time with you trying to defend the world against Regulos. (God, I'm hoping I spell that correctly.)  I got my Guardian character up to level 6.  However, some of my Twitter followers said they were joining a group on Emberlord as Defiants.

Sorry DK and Worgen starting zones in WoW (I haven't played Goblin yet so I won't judge you), but the Defiant starting area kicks your ass.  As a defiant, you start in the future being brought back to life.  The world has collapsed under Regulos' terror.  Their goal is to send you back in time to prevent the future from happening.  There are explosions all around you and it feels like the final stand in a war.  And the area ends with your first boss fight, which is incredible.  After that, you go through the time machine portal back to current game time. 

As soon as you leave the starting area, you will likely encounter your first Rift.  Remember all the fun you had with the elemental world events and closing the rifts there.  Now imagine it on a zone wide scale.  It is a nice interruption from the questing.  You quest a little, then the sky turns black and you know you have a Rift to deal with.  It makes for incredible pacing that I have not experienced in an MMO in a long time.  As soon as a Rift happens, it gives you the option to join a public raid to help take down the Rift which gives you a good amount of experience.  Also, the game auto hands out the loot and what you get is in your quest log. 

Everything I have talked about is pure gameplay.  I have not even gotten to the deep class customization where you get to choose your main calling (warrior, cleric, mage, or rogue).  Then instead of being consolidated to one of three trees, you get to pick what three trees you want in the first place.  For my defiant, I'm wanting to experience some of the dungeons, so I decided to roll a tank build of paladin, void knight, warlord.  But you can buy other souls (their fancy terms for specs) to have multiple roles.  I'm thinking of doing a leveling spec of some sort with beastmaster and maybe some other things.  In addition, if you are used to WoW mechanics, you will feel at home.  In game quest helper, check.  Auto-loot option, check. UI customization, not only check, but kicks WoW's ass at it for the default UI.  Unfotunately, you can't have addons yet, but the interface is so good, you really don't need them.

However, I'm not gonna go without bringing up a few of the games faults.  First off, there are only 3 races per faction and to be perfectly honest, I couldn't really tell the difference between any of the 3 defiant races.  One has pointy ears, one looks more human, and the other looks like a human and a draenei from WoW hooked up and made a human baby with weird markings on their face.  Now, there is loads of personal customization you can do, but having a few more race options would have been nice.  Also, rifts maybe happen a little too frequently at times.  I'm trying to complete quest in the level 9 area, then a rift opens up and I have to struggle to find what targets I was looking for in the first place.  Thankfully, the rift events are really fun.  If they weren't, this would be a bigger issue.

I'm only level 9 so far, but I have enjoyed the hell out of Rift.  I'm still gonna play WoW as my main game.  However, this will be a nice distraction from WoW.  I encourage you to look me up in Rift.  I am Redhawks - Defiant Warrior on the Emberlord US server.  I'm going to be joining the Dregcast guild soon on that server, Negative Zero.

Also, I'm sure I'm gonna have a lot more to say about Rift in the future.  So as to not turn this blog in a WoW/Rift blog, I am please to announce Redhawks Ascension, my new Rift blog.  Starting off, I will be talking about my experiences leveling up in Rift.  Once I hit max level, which I intend to do, I will talk about theorycrafting, raiding, etc.  I'm going to be updating it twice a week which I will be intending to update this every day that I can, which is usually weekdays.

So, final conclusion, if you love WoW, I would really recommend checking our Rift.  There is a whole lot to love in there.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Patch 4.1 - Druid and PvP Perspective

Well, 4.1 has finally hit the PTR and combing through the patch notes, there are several intersting things that need to be pointed out related to both druids and PvP.  Here are some of the interesting things I have found so far.

1) Zul'Aman is Back - Ok, I know this has nothing to do with PvP, but Zul'Aman is a druid dream.  Every boss from the 10 man raid during BC had to do with druids.  From the bear boss to the lightning boss, all of them were druid related.  I can't wait to get in there and go crazy.  I mean Zul'Garab is cool, but Zul'Aman was my second raid instance ever cleared.  Of course, I wonder if they are going to kill off Harrison Jones again.

2) DKs get a Battle Rez - I will be honest, I never would have seen this.  First of all, they have had Raise Ally for quite some time, but it made you into a ghoul.  Now, it actually brings you back to life.  It is the first time a melee has a rez (Yes, I know feral druids and enhancement shaman melee, but it is the first time a dedicated melee get it.) and it is only the second class to get a battle rez.  After mages got Time Warp, which was equivalent to Heroism/Bloodlust, I guess we should have seen some class was gonna get a battle rez.  I just thought it might be priest or shaman, I never could have guessed DKs would get it.

3) Resilience Scaling - Now, just reading through what they say about resilience scaling, it could be a little confusing.  What is the reason behind this change?  You know that Blizzard said they wanted to stop people from doing the 2 and 2 on dps/healing caster gear to get the additional resilience.  This is partly an answer to that.  Once you get above 32.5% damage mitigation, the effect decreases.  What does this mean?  Assuming season 10 starts around the time of patch 4.1, we are going to want to get our 4 piece bonuses.  In addition, since our resilience will be higher, we may actually want 1 or 2 PvE pieces to allow for more damage.  For healing classes, they will likely want to stick with full PvP gear however since they tend to get focused a little more than DPS.

4) Cyclone Duration Decreased - In 4.0.6, it increased up to 8 seconds.  Then, they hotfixed it back down to 6 seconds.  Now, they are going to decrease it again down to 5.  I'm not really surprised since cyclone is an incredibly powerful spell, but a lot of other traps last 8 seconds.  There should be some way whether a glyph or something to make it longer for PvP use.

5) Starsurge Nerf - As much as I hate to say it and as much as I love 40k hits on players in full PvP gear, this was needed.  Starsurge was incredibly powerful in PvP, maybe overpowered to be exact.  I mean, it is still 32k hits, but at least it is not half of their health bars.

6) Lifebloom Nerf - Having been playing some resto in PvP as my secondary spec, this was unfortunately  needed as well.  If the bloom critted, it was returning anywhere from 35k to 50k health to a player in PvP.  I have been protecting the flag carrier with 2 of the healers down, had a bloom hit, and the flag carrier stayed alive even while they were focused on him.  Now, if I can just remember not to refresh Lifebloom by stupidly hitting buttons until it blooms.

7) Swipe Cooldown Reduced - I don't tank anymore, but I'm sure I speak for all feral druid tanks when I say, Thank the frickin' Lord.  Having to rotate Swipe and Thrash on almost perfect 3 second intervals is tougher than it looks.

8) Solar Beam More Responsive - My favorite CC tool in BGs just got a little better.  I'm hoping that when the notes say "more responsive", it is if any part of the player is in the Solar Beam, it will silence them.

9) Flag Carrying Debuff Changes - I may have been the only person to do this, but as someone who routinely is on offense trying to get our flag back, I smiled a little when I saw the changes to the flag carrier debuff.  It starts off at increased damage of 10%, then stacks 10% per minute.  Plus, they can't run anymore as they are limited to 100% run speed after 7 minutes.  Yes, even druids and their travel form.

10) Battleground Changes - This BG was typically determined in the first few minutes, but not anymore.  They are setting it up now where you get transported to another graveyard instead of the same graveyard where you die.  This means capturing nodes will be a whole lot easier.  However, this also means that defending nodes will be a lot harder and will take a lot more coordination.  In addition, in Twin Peaks, if you die in the enemy base, you will spawn back at your base.  This will give the defending team some time to breathe and get caught up before another assault comes in against their flag carrier.  This is also likely going to change some strategy since you will want to wipe groups coming in at your flag carrier.  

I know these are preliminary notes and I'm 100% sure there are going to be changes along the way.  However, this should give you some idea of what they are planning for 4.1. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Arenas and Rated BG Experience - A Healthy Relationship

This is what Mr. Bigglesworth Got for Doing Arenas

In our rated BGs, we have started requiring an arena requirement in 3 vs. 3 or 5 vs. 5 of 1100 for all our rated BG members.  (Yes, we are recruiting for the rest of this season and next season.  See sidebar for more.)  The reason we are requiring this rating is because all of the BG leaders, myself included, see the value of having arena experience in rated BGs.  However, I also see the value of having rated BG experience in arenas.  Here are the links that I personally see between arena and rated BGs.

Arena Experience in Rated BGs

1) CC - Playing in arena gets you used to your different forms of CC.  For druids, we only have 2 plus one ability we can combine with roots.  However, it gives the experience of when to use the CC and when not to. Having experience with this in arenas will directly translate to being able to do it in a rated BG setting.

2) Focus Firing - A major part of arena is learning to focus fire.  Not only focus firing, but also being able to CC while focus firing.  This takes a lot of using focus frames, finding targets quickly, and changing targets quickly.  All of this experience in arena will help in rated BGs where you have to do many of the same things.

3) LOS - While learning how to use line of sight is vital in arenas, there are not a lot of times you can use it in rated BGs.  When you can though, it helps out.  Let me give an example from our rated BGs.  We were in a Twin Peaks.  We had the enemy flag and they had ours.  Our flag carrier had 3 healers with him.  In each of the bases of Twin Peaks, there are several places you can use line of site.  You can go upstairs, around the walls, around the outside, etc.  This was vital in keeping our flag carrier up.  Being able to line of sight in arenas is critical and comes in handy occassionally during rated BGs. 

4) Cooldown Management - The difference between a win and a loss in a closely contested arena match could be when a trinket is ready to proc and how it is utilized.  If you are busy applying CC, you may want to wait a few seconds before popping your trinket while you control the enemy.  However, there are more than trinket cooldowns.  You also have to think about healer cooldowns.  For example, if you are a resto druid, if you see another healer go down in a rated BG, that may be the time to pop Tree of Life to keep your flag carrier up until the other healer can come back in.  When to use cooldowns is something you learn initially in the small scale arenas and then apply it to the large scale rated BGs.

5) Calling Targets - If you see a priest, a mage, and a rogue, do you know who you should kill first?  Well, if you do arenas, you should.  First, you look at their HP.  Is anybody a little less than the others?  If they are, that may indicate some PvE gear on that person which means their resilience is less.  Are they controllable?  A priest would probably be the easiest to CC since mages can blink out of snares and rogues can get out of combat and go invisible.  What do you have available to you?  If you have lots of CC, you may want to CC the mage and rogue while you burn the priest.  If you don't, you may want to CC the priest and kill the mage.  While this is a typical arena setting, there are many times where you run into identical situtions in rated BGs.  Doing arena helps with target calling.

Rated BG Experience In Arenas

1) Saving Fights - In arenas, you usually have a designated healer.  In BGs, there may be times that you don't have a healer in your group.  If that is the case, you better know what abilities can save yourself.  Do you have a melee on you, pop Thorns and pop Nature's Grasp and root him while you heal yourself.  Are you running with a group and you are all in trouble?  Pop Tranquility and heal them.  While you see more of this in rated BGs, this knowledge can come in handy in arenas.

2) Different Comps - While in arena, you see some popular comps like mage, rogue, priest.  In rated BGs, you see comps that you wouldn't normally see anywhere in arena.  However, this is when you can practice against those odd comps.  For example, you never usually see a 4 healer, 1 DPS comp in arenas.  However, if you are trying to get the flag back in Warsong or Twin Peaks, you may run into that exact comp.  This will give you a broader experience on what different classes can bring to the table, classes that you may only see once in a while in arenas.  This experience can help you in arenas when you face similar compositions.

3)  Field Awareness - Arenas are smaller scale.  Usually, you can see what is going on pretty easily.  However, in rated BGs, you may need to know what is going on at the other side of the field.  For example, if you are in the middle trying to control the enemy from getting to your flag and you see people break off towards your flag carrier, you may need to go assist your flag carrier.  You are not doing anybody any good if you are in the middle and just keep killing things while your flag carrier is going down.  This translates to arena since you may need to get people off of your healer or give yourself some extra time or heal somebody while a healer is CCed.

So as you can see, doing arenas in addition with rated BGs can give you a lot of benefits for both.  I would encourage you to do both to become a well rounded PvPer.

Also, for winners of the Header contest.  I have not forgotten you.  I have  had a lot of stuff going on lately, but I should be sending them out by the end of this week.          

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Humor: Must Read Web Comics

I have been thinking about this one for a while, but here is a list of 5 gaming comics that every WoW player should be reading regularly.

1) NPC (Non Player Character) - A comic about a woman, her husband/boyfriend (They never really say which, but I'm thinking husband), and her 2 cats who all play WoW.  It is cute and funny.  You will fall in love with Chloe and Bink from the first time you read it.  She also talks about life outside of WoW including Dungeons and Dragons, their neighbors, their coworkers, and a lot of Nintendo DS talk early in the comic life.  They also just celebrated their 2 year anniversery yesterday.  Highly recommend you check them out.  Here is a personal favorite from the comic. (Mainly because my cats come and lick my face all the time.) 

2) Dark Legacy - This comic, which has been around for about 4 years, is almost exclusively about characters in WoW.  They have pretty much every stereotype in WoW player that you can think of.  There is the overbearing raid leader (Krom), the lackey you bring along because you need people (Donald), gnomes bent on world domination, and regular players.  Really one of the funniest WoW comics around.  Here is their latest comic.

3) Extra Life - By Scott Johnson of The Instance, this is a general geek comic covering some WoW stuff, but mostly gaming in general as well as some situational comedy stuck in there.  Here is a personal favorite from the collection.

4) Penny Arcade - The granddaddy of web comics, this comic covers the opinions of Gabe and Tycho, fascimilies of the real life owners of Penny Arcade.   And thankfully, Gabe plays World of Warcraft regularly so they do cover WoW topics.  It is mostly general gaming topics, but WoW is covered.

5) The Daily Blink - This comic is another comic completely about WoW, however, it is not a comic in the traditional sense.  It is usually a one block comic that is satiring something in WoW, whether it is gameplay, lore, opposing factions, and even patch notes.  Here is a fine example of their work.

So please support these comics by going to their sites.  They are some of the funniest comics around the net right now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

7 Habits of Highly Effective PvPers

In the very early days of this blog, I had a post called "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Raiders".  Well since that original post, I have moved from a raider to a PvP BG leader.  Given this change, I decided it was time to rework those habits into being effective PvPers.  And not suprisingly, the main title of each of the seven habits are going to be identical.  The only difference is what you do with each of the habits.

1) Prepare - In rated BGs, this is probably the most different than PvE.  You can't use flask.  You can't use the Goblin Barbeque or the Seafood Magnifique.  But you still have to prepare yourself.  Be in full PvP gear.  Be gemmed, enchanted, etc. with the best possible enchants for PvP.  Some enchants are different.  Some enchants are the same.  Make sure you are in a proper spec for PvP.  All these things are things that should be done before stepping into PvP.

2) Readiness - Make sure you are on time and are prepared to come in.  With the elimination of 15 vs. 15 rated BGs, there may be a chance you will have to sit.  If you do, be on standby.  Be in Vent or Mumble if your leaders need someone.

3) Optimize - While it is still important to make sure your computer is in top shape and won't disconnect during fights, the strain is a little less in BGs compared to 25 man rating because the BGs are spread out.  If you had 20 people in an arena BG, I'm sure that it would lag like anything.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, you should optimize your gear.  Buy the blue honor gear to get started and go from there by using Conquest points to buy the epic PvP gear.

4) Research - While PvP is alot more fluid than a PvE setting where bosses have certain mechanics, you can still research.  First, and the most important, is to know your class inside and out.  You should know what CCs you have, who they are the most effective against, what things can maximize your DPS output in BGs.  Also, know the BGs inside and out.  Know where the power ups, like Beserker and Heals, are since they can turn the tide of battle.

5) Learn - As I mentioned in the original post, learning comes from education and experience.  If you find a PvPer of the same class who is doing better than you, ask them to help you out and figure out what you are doing wrong.  However, experience is the biggest teacher in BGs.  You will find out which targets are the healers or are the most dangerous.  You will figure out kill orders.  You will figure out what strategies work and which ones don't.  Best way to get experience is to run random BGs and arenas.  BGs will help you understand your DPS rotation.  Arenas will help you learn coordination and CCing.

In addition, there is two type of experienced learning in BGs.  Short term experienced learning is something you need to learn in this BG for this BG only.  For example, if you have Mage X who is CCing your healers and killing your DPS, you know that he is a high priority target so you will need to CC healers to kill the mage first.  The other type of experienced learning is long term experienced learning.  This would be overarching principles such as kill or CC healers first, how not to allow ninja caps, how to tell if someone is squishy by looking at HP, etc.  The only way you get that type of experience is doing BGs and arena.

6)  Observe - I thought that PvE raid awareness was something you had to get used to and it took a while.  Awareness in BGs takes it to a whole other level.  Let me give an example.  We typically have 3 healers on the flag carriers in Warsong Gulch or Twin Peaks.  If all 4 healers are around our flag carrier, I can back off and use CC to get melee off of our flag carrier.  There are many instances where this can occur.  If you see a healer healing your target, kill them or CC them to kill your target.  Sometimes, you really almost need eyes in the back of your head to have PvP awareness.

7) Communicate - If I was going to reorder my list from the original list, I would have put this as number 1 easily.  Communication is the single biggest key in PvP.  The team that does not communicate loses.  What should you communicate?  Let me count the ways:  kill targets, CCed targets, nodes being attacked, flag carriers being attacked, healers protecting flag carriers die, flag carrier dies, enemy flag carrier dies, enemy flag carrier's location, our flag carrier's location, strategy, and reporting what is occuring at nodes.  And this is just with the 3 BGs currently available for 10 vs. 10 rated BGs.  The place this is best learned at is in arenas.  Learning this type of communication is vital in arenas and it translates very well over to rated BGs.  The more comfortable you can get with communicating, the better your team will be.  This also means that if you are on a rated BG team, you have to get comfortable with Ventrilo or Mumble and speaking because you talk a whole lot more in BGs than you do in raids.