A Little Something for the Shaman

January 31, 2008 at 8:56 am (Shaman)

From thinkgeek.com.


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Why Not to Level as a Caster

January 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm (Game Design, Shaman, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I haven’t played my Shaman much since tons of gankers started showing up in Duskwallow, but Pike’s post about leveling alts got me thinking about my experiences with him again.  When I first started, my plan was to go straight down the elemental tree.  Everyone leveled enhancement, and I like to choose the road less traveled.  It was really frustrating.  I had to compromise stamina for int, weapon DPS for a shield, and I still ended up doing most of my damage by meleeing.  The compromises meant survivability was really bad.  Having and add or even just a chain pull, meant death.

At level 25 I gave up.

The next patch (2.2?) showed some signs of improvement though, and I gave it another shot.  Didn’t help me near enough to make it fun.  I switched over to enhancement rather than throw in the towel since during the downtime, I had managed to pick up a Burning War Axe for cheap on the AH.  I struggled up to level 28, and replaced my Smite’s Mighty Hammer.  Suddenly, I was a killing machine.  Add in Windfury 2 levels later, and suddenly I was enjoying myself.

But that got me thinking.  The trees are more or less balanced at 70, why would one build be so much more superior to another?  Answer: gear.  By buying a single piece of equipment, I increased my white DPS by 8.  Of course that doesn’t include the huge impact 8DPS make on windfury.  That’s with melee, but what kind of increase could I see at those same levels as a caster?   At level 20, the best I could find was +10 spell damage Medicine Staff, and at 30, it’s around +20.  Those are both for single schools of magic by the way, so better be lucky on the AH to see them.  The 10 extra spell damage actually translates into +8.5 damage because of spell coefficients.  With a 2.5s cast time, that’s +3.4 DPS if I constantly spam Lightning Bolt, and never get interrupted.  Keep in mind, that’s the best you can do… and those conditions are obviously unreasonable.

The majority of caster gear focuses on int, spirit, and stamina, and I had a hard time finding  any of those stats in leather.  The extra crit from int is nice, but it’s unreliable and without a decent amount of damage to increase, it’s more for saving downtime or long fights.  This goes doubly for spirit and stamina.  The glass cannon becomes a plexiglass slingshot, while the tank becomes a juggernaut of death.

So in summary, if you have a choice, you’ll find it much easier to level a physical DPS class than a magic based one.  It’s easier to boost physical DPS which in turn makes kills and exp gains faster.

Now, I don’t like pointing a problem without a solution.  My thoughts are that 50% of listed DPS should go towards spell damage.  At low levels, a 20 DPS weapon automatically granting 10 spell damage is not overpowered.  The best weapons in the game only have around 130DPS and 65 spell damage still isn’t unreasonable.   A little caster love would go a long way.

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Custom Character Pics

January 29, 2008 at 11:31 am (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

This is very cool.

So you want to show off what your character looks like outside the game, but you want to keep the picture up to date. These guys will go to the armory, look up your gear and attach it to a 3D model of your character. Like so:

If you want to refresh them, just take your URL and append taint.txt instead of the .jpg to flush the cache.

All is explained here.

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January 24, 2008 at 1:23 pm (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Stop with the fake patch notes already. They are fake.

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PvP Progression

January 23, 2008 at 11:18 am (Game Design, Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Having gotten my 7th piece of S1 armor I have gone from this clown

Z Clown

to this: Read the rest of this entry »

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January 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)


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Why I don’t raid anymore.

January 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I know I said I was taking a break, but once I got thinking about this, I just had to write it down to get it out of me.

There’s a post on TKAsomething, where a raider was asking what he should do since his raiding schedule has been reduced due to real life issues. He’s feeling that he’s being left behind. I just wanted to warn about the idea of flat out dropping raiding for more than a month or 2.

Way back, my guild was on MC and starting BWL. I was doing 2 of the 3 raids every week and the officers liked my skills enough to over look my green gear even at that progression stage. I was even helping the class leader with itemization priority issues and helping recruits gear up. Then, my baby girl arrived, and raiding was flat out.

I still showed up for an hour or two a couple nights a week to shoot the breeze and was very active on the guild forums. Durning that time the guild also hit a road block in progression and had to rebuild a bit. I got an occasional /w from a new person, but it still felt like my guild.

Eventually, I talked my wife into giving me a night each week where I had no baby responsibilities. Excited, I signed up for the next raid night. The guild was actually not as progressed as before and was doing onyxia and starting MC, when I had previously done Domo/Rag/Razorgore for several months and I had gotten my Rhok in that time, so I thought I was in for sure. Logged in an hour early, asked where we were meeting (thereamore), and was told invites would go out according to forum sign-ups (I was the second hunter to sign after the new CL). We also only had a 40 spot vent server so only raiders were allowed to be on.

I wait. About 30min before start people show up, I ask my class leader if invites are going out and he says only CLs right now. I wait a few min, more show up. I went to check mail and get my pots. It’s still 10min before raid time, but when return to the FP meet area, everyone is gone. I /w my CL and ask what happened

CL: “You had to sign up on the forums.”

Me: “I did its 2 posts after yours.”

CL: “oh… who are you again.”

Me: “I’m Znodis. Same name as used on the forums.”

CL: “Well, sign up for tomorrow and I’ll make sure you get in.”

Me: “I can’t go tomorrow. I only get one night a week to off to play.”

CL: “Hold on we’re starting our attempt.”

<15min later>

CL: “We wiped. I talked to the RL and he says you can swap before MC.”

Me: “Cool.”

<I wait 45 min more in Thereamore before realizing people would hearth to IF instead of taking the boat to get to MC.>

/who CL
>CL 60 (hunter) <guild> Molten Core

Me: “Um. What’s going on?”

CL: “What?”

Me: “What happened to the swap?”

CL: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Am I going to be able to raid tonight? You said I could swap in before MC.”


CL: “I just asked the RL and he agrees that it’s not a good idea to swap. Just sign up for tomorrow.”

Me: “I already freaking told you I can’t make it tomorrow. You could have told me I couldn’t come an hour ago and I wouldn’t be so upset.”

CL: “Sorry, I guess.”

<Heads back to town.>

Me: “Just so you know. I am not satisfied with this resolution, and will bring this up with the guild leadership.”

CL: “Whatever.”

<I logout so hot with anger that theres a good chance of actual fire was shooting out of my eyes.>

That was the actual conversation. It’s still burned in my memory. My first night back and I spend 2 of the 4 hours waiting for an invite that never came.

On the forums, I privately messaged the raid leader and the guild leaders who I knew pretty well and had chatted with often during my downtime. I knew all of them well enough to know their real names, and considered them as close to friends as you can get online. I figured that I’d at least get “Sorry Z, good to have you back. We’ll make sure you get into the next raid you can make.”

Instead, I got the curt message saying they would discuss it at the next leadership meeting next week. I asked a few weeks later if anything was resolved seeing as I happened to be out of town that next week, but got a reply of “I don’t remember. By the way, are you new here?” That was it. I didn’t even bother to reply. Eventually, the guild blew up due to the 40-man to 10-man to 25-man raid progression in BC, and I transferred servers to play with my brother (who I freaking bought WoW for, but didn’t sign up on my server).

The lesson here folks is that friends on WoW are not real friends. Seriously. I’ve met a lot of people online. I know their names, their spouse, what country/state they live in, where they went/go to school, what their job is, what they study, what classes their taking, but when I go back to say ‘hi,’ the reply is always: “who are you?”

If anyone ever sees Gilraen, Spellcasta/Spelcasta, or Dionysiah on Nazjatar, give them a link to this page for me.

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January 8, 2008 at 7:25 am (Uncategorized)

I have at least 5 ideas for posts, but it looks like I’m going to have to take a break from the blog.  My boss is having us keep track of how much time we spend on things, which probably wouldn’t be a big deal for most people.  Just stretch the time a bit so that what takes 1 hour is written as 90min right?  Well I would except I don’t really do anything at all, truth be told.  I used to ask everyone daily if they needed some help, but after a few months of nothing I backed off a bit.  Now I’m to the point where I just sit at my desk, and do the few tasks that are assigned to me as they come trying to stretch them as long as I can to justify my employment.  Anyway, I’m going to be spending a lot of time finding things to do without seeming like I have nothing to do.
I wonder how many other people in the office do the same thing…

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Reworking Pets

January 2, 2008 at 1:49 pm (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, World of Warcraft)

So, I’ve been thinking about pet redesign again. Here are issues with the game design of pets:

  1. Not balanced by families. There are good families, and there are bad families as opposed to good for some situations bad for others based on families. Players are also confused as to which families have which stats and whether elites have better stats, etc.
  2. Unintuitive training. No where in the game is it explained how to learn a pet ability to teach your pet. Nor is it intuitive that you need to keep upgrading that ability as your pet levels. This mechanic also requires hunters to either keep a stable slot empty or abandon a pet to learn a new ability.
  3. Unbalanced pet abilities and trainablity. Compare gore to shell shield. Twelve seconds of damage reduction with a DPS penalty every 3 minutes vs huge improvement to damage limited only by focus is not a balanced trade-off.
  4. Balancing abilities / families for future expansions. Several new families of beasts can be expected every expansion. Add in new abilities as well and keeping the expanded families new and interesting while balancing against old families will become increasingly difficult.
  5. Loyalty/training points. It is an unnecessary mechanic. There are already enough hoops to jump through to learn a new pet ability and tame a new pet.
  6. No reason to tame tanking pets. Tanking pets cannot generate enough threat to tank while DPS pets can take damage fairly-well. The exception here is if more than one mob is attacking HP drop fast, which means using mend pet, which means the hunter generates additional threat, which means he gains agro from the adds. I think that is well balanced but mention it to show that DPS pets were not meant to tank well.

My focus is on making every family viable. Now, I’m sure I’m not the first to think it, but I’m going to go with this two pronged idea:

  1. Every pet is identical when tamed. You heard me. A Ravager is just as good as a Crocolisk which is just as good as a Sporebat. I also mean that pets do not come with any abilities. It’s what any system aims for anyway so we’d better start there. Additionally, every pet can learn any skill. Don’t go all RP on me. My crab and owl can growl just as well as a lion already. If you want to know how he could learn to screech or use lightning breath: ‘A wizard did it.’
  2. We create 3 talent trees which are permanent to customize each pet as the hunter sees fit. Yes permanent. You want to respec, you abandon your pet and go retame. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks and all that. Each tree will focus on one aspect: Grouping, Soloing, and PvP. One for each stable slot. Pet talent points are earned at the rate of 1 every 10 levels, based on the hunter’s level. For clarity, at level 70 you will have 7 points for each pet, but at level 12 you only have 1. The trees will improve base stats and provide some pet abilities. The points are available as soon as the pet is tamed eliminating Loyalty.

Pet abilities could also be learned from simple quests. You’d get a taming rod as in the level 10 quests and when you return with your owl you learn the screech ability, or return with your gorilla to have learned thunder stomp. In fact, I’d design the level 10 quests so that with with the first 2 tames you learned the growl, and dash abilities.

So here’s what’s in each level of the tree: a stat boost, an instant ability, a second passive boost, a second ability, and last a really cool passive utility spell.

Since there’s nothing out there like this, I’m using the Warrior set to create the trees in the talent builder and since I’m not feeling creative with names at the moment Arms is the Group tree, Fury is the PvP tree, and Protection is the Soloing tree. Another way to put it is long-term survival and damage, burst damage and CC, and early threat with reduced damage.


There are lots of changes to skills. Bite is now instant, but costs more focus. This should help the pet establish agro early in the fight while soloing. Furious Howl has morphed into 2 versions granting haste instead of physical damage. Lightning Breath has an added chaining effect. Thunder and Shell Shield have had their cooldowns drastically reduced.

There are some pet skills that didn’t make it into the trees. I already mentioned that growl and dash would be learned during the level 10 quests. Dive is gone because dash does the same thing and we’re no longer concerned about reality. Charge will be part of a level 40 quest and obtained by summoning and taming some level 40 elite pig. Perhaps he’s Hogger’s pet? Cower is done, but who will miss that. Poison Spit didn’t make the cut. The advantage of ranged over Poison doesn’t make up for the loss of damage when compared to the new LB.

Warp just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. It’s basically another version of charge, but with damage reduction instead of a stun and +AP. Other than protecting a squishy in 5-man instances I can’t think of a use for it as it currently is. So the question is how to change it. Adding a stun or AP just makes it Charge. Chance to hit or crit still seems to similar. I was thinking of adding a full-on taunt effect, but then I think it would have to be 4th tier protection which was already crowded.

On the whole this allows for huge diversity in pets, and the hunter given the choice of any pet in the game to play as they choose. It eliminates the issues of balancing family stats and abilities. New abilities can easily be balanced across trees and the trees themselves are very modular. The tame-learn-abandon mechanic has been lost granting the ability to fill all 3 stable slots and easing new players learning of the class. It also makes adding new abilities and families extremely simple for future expansions.

The only downside I can see is that the damage abilities deal would have to be based on the pet’s base damage rather than a static value so that they could scale properly.

Show your support (or dislike) here. 

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