Thursday, June 15, 2023

What's in a Name?

Earlier this week I did the implausible, I renamed my druid of 15 years and passed the name onto my demon hunter.  Why?  My enjoyment of the druid class had waned, but not my attachment to the name.  It also helped that the name happened to fit.  It will definitley be a little disorienting at first, having a name everyone associated with orange now being purple, but the roles (tank/melee DPS) associate with the name remain unchanged.  It still looks a little weird to me on the character selection screen, but good weird.  It was the last link in the chain of events that brought my druid from main to alt behind evoker, to second alt behind evoker and demon hunter.

This wasn't the first time I've renamed a character, traded names, or even renamed a main, but the one previous time I renamed a main it was just a second druid with engineering instead of leatherworking because I didn't want to lose my profession progress in leatherworking, but also really wanted to have access to engineering gizmos on the character I played the most.  I also tried out a male character for a while changing my name to a masculine suffix (which in English was interpreted as plural), so I mostly just confused people and ended up flipping back the next expansion.

I've always gone for the hybrid class in RPGs; jack of all trades, master of none.  Druids totally fit the bill when I started, all within a single specialization I could be a bear/tank or a cat/DPS.  Sure I wasn't the best of either, but for a 10-man guild raid groups I was holding my own.  Without even a gear swap I could flip back and forth rather fluidly between roles, and my gear mainly determined if I was prioritizing damage or being crit immune.  Dual specializations in Cataclysm allowed me to add healing into the mix and that was even better, but it also meant that druids weren't much more of a hybrid class than any other class that could perform multiple roles.  There is still catweaving which can be done situationally, and the odd hero bear, but from a tanking perspective where I spend most my group play time there is mostly just bear form.

MoP was probably the beginning of the end when guardian and feral specializations were formally split apart, but it didn't really feel like it at the time.  It was like being licked to death by kittens, no one change all of a sudden made me want to stop playing my druid, but the last change I didn't like before I decided to raid on my demon hunter for season 2 instead of my druid was berserk no longer eliminating the cooldown on thrash/mangle.  I don't think any of the changes were necessarily bad, but it was different than what I had grown comfortable with and over time I was playing a slightly different class than when I'd started all those years ago.  Meanwhile there were brand new classes being added which hadn't factored into my original class choice: death knights, monks, demon hunters, and now evokers.  Three of those 4 new classes I already have at level 70, and I actually leveled up my evoker first in Dragonflight, then my druid, and then my demon hunter.  I actually have a spreadsheet to numerically rank different aspects of different classes to try and prove to myself which classes I enjoy playing the most.  It's pretty subjective since I can change the number to whatever I want, but so is the choice of which class to play.  Just before Dragonflight, after having played evoker on the beta, I had evoker and druid tied for first with demon hunter close behind and that's the order I went with for leveling.  With some reevaluation at the end of season 1 evoker had taken the lead followed by demon hunter and then druid.

There is one more potential step to go I guess, now that I'm playing more on my demon hunter I miss my loot-a-rang and other engineering goodies.  But once again I've got leatherworking and skinning leveled up and don't want to throw those away.  Plus, I love skinning on my demon hunter.  Perhaps with the next expansion there will be another boost included so I can level another demon hunter, or maybe undelete the horde demon hunter I had before faction lines disappeared for alts which already has some engineering progress, but also happens to be on a different realm.  Which would all lead to another name change/swap...

Monday, October 17, 2022

Preservation Evoker

Finally found the time/patience to hang out in a 30+ minute beta dungeon queue to try out healing on an evoker, and it was great.  I doubt I was great it being the first time I'd healed on that class and the first time I was in any Dragonflight dungeon, but we made it and by the end I had a much better feeling for how the class worked.  It definitely wasn't everyone's first dungeon, or experience with an evoker healing; I could tell as soon as I cast my first dream breath and saw all the DPS run into it.

I suspect the long queues and lack of enthusiasm from tanks, and non-evoker DPS, might be directly related by everyone wanting to try out an evoker.  If it is more likely that not going to be one of the healers first attempts at a dungeon I could see how that could be off-putting.  Shame there isn't an evoker tank spec as that would almost certainly decrease queue times, and give me one more reason to main an evoker.

That said I'm definitely going to main an evoker in Dragonflight, confirming I enjoyed the healing spec and running a couple dungeons was all I needed to finally make a decision.  I'm still slightly torn on my second main/primary alt, but leaning toward my demon hunter.  There is a nice symmetry of having "ranged" DPS/healing on one toon and melee DPS/tanking on another, plus I really enjoy demon hunter DPS, much moreso than druid DPS.  I do prefer druid tanking to demon hunter tanking, but enjoy the overall demon hunter experience more; I have tanked a bunch on my demon hunter and the only bad thing I have to say about it is that I don't feel I have as many oh shit buttons as on my druid.  I'll miss travel form and stealth, but with limited playtime some sacrifices for the greater fun are necessary.

Back to the preservation evoker, so my first dungeon (something with gnolls, freeing tortollian and corruption) I managed to completely forget about spiritbloom despite it being exactly in the right spot/hotkey.  I had tried all the healing spells out in town about a week earlier, but it's hard to get a feel for healing without actually healing a real group.  I feel that with DPS and tanking you get a better feel for how to use your abilities just doing world/solo content.  In hindsight I could have tried to find out where to queue for one of those solo instance things for medaling in a certain role, I remember those from Pandaria/Warlords, but I'm not sure if they are still relevant.  Lack of preparation aside it went well, no wipes, I never died nor did the tank, but I did lose a few DPS here and there.  Most if not all those deaths were at least partially my fault, but people just released and ran back without comment.  I didn't end up using a rez until the last trash packs before the last boss.  I didn't know it was the last boss until we'd killed it and stopped as I was focused on other things.

After my first dungeon I tweaked my healing bars a little based on what I'd learned and requeued expecting to heal again, but I was assigned DPS instead.  I suppose it makes sense there would be a lot of healer given the new class to try out.  DPS I was used to by this point and it gave me the opportunity to look around a bit more and try out some of my utility abilities.  It felt really awesome to scoop that lumbering bear up from the back and plop them in the front with the other Dracthyr running between trash mobs.  I also enjoyed helping out the evoker healer by using my own healing abilities when things got hairy.  Mostly it just felt incredibly liberating to not have to constantly hover away from and/or knock back mobs while killing them.  I could just hang out and concentrate on maximizing damage and get a feel for an actual rotation rather than constant improv.  I didn't have any add-ons/meters installed, but it felt like I was doing well.  The dungeon was some sort of blue dragonflight tower with lots of teleporters.

I tried my luck one more time after that and did end up getting into another dungeon as a healer, but the tank went afk right before the first boss and the group dissolved after we couldn't get another tank for more than a half hour.  The only reason I stuck around that long was that I was playing with transmog.

So now I just have to wait until evokers become available in pre-patch so I can level up to 60 and get everything set up for launch.  That will mostly be leveling up engineering in a couple previous expansions to get all the important gizmos like a loot-a-rang, MOLL-E and a Jeeves.  Probably an invisibility tinker to sneak past the odd mob or two and maybe a Reaves as well.  I'll also probably want to gather up some gear from the pre-launch event to catch up my evoker and get some transmog appearances on alts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Devastation Evoker

Got access to the Dragonflight beta about a week ago and jumped right in creating a new Dracthyr evoker. Luckily I had already played with my character customization in Wowhead's dressing room, so i was able to quickly transcribe those selections and jump right into playing.

Reading other posts about evokers I had a rudimentary knowledge of which abilities were available to me, but there is no substitute for first hand play experience.  Especially when considering if I want to main and evoker in a few weeks or stick with my tried and true druid.

I was hoping with the reduced range that the evoker would feel a little more melee than your normal 40+ yard caster, but I realized no matter the range a caster is a caster, and prefers not to be smacked in the face.  Luckily evokers have a lot of mobility/utility tools to help keep a distance between them and their targets.  Maintaining distance is something melee classes don’t have to worry about, unless things are going poorly and it’s time to run away.

So the added task of social distancing in one downside of maining an evoker over a melee class, and the other is perhaps less of a con and more of an opportunity to better myself.  With all the mobility evokers have it is extremely important to keep tabs on your surroundings.  It’s pretty easy out leveling in the world, or in any PVE content for that matter, to deep breath or hover too close to another mob/group and quickly bite off more than you can chew.

On that note I’m not sure if the tuning is quite right yet for leveling content, but I was getting my tail handed to me by gorloc shamans in the second leveling zone.  Their lightning attack does a ton of damage and I was trying to focus on interrupting their mud shield instead to kill them faster.  So even at ranged evokers can still feel a bit squishy, but having not been there on any other character I’ve nothing to compare it to.

One of the questions I had prior to playing an evoker was, in the context of the current classes, what does playing one feel like?  And the answer was mostly that it didn’t.  I think it sort of feels closest to a demon hunter, but more utility, maybe a little more single target oriented (but that could just be because they are squishier and I’m pretty new at them) and there are a couple (non channeled) spells with cast times.  If I overgeared and/or outleveled content and could just eat melee attacks the evoker would feel much more like a demon hunter, but social distancing is key.

I made one mistake in beta, after leaving my evoker a bit and getting my first dragon riding mount I loaded the account info from my live account which overwrote all my mounts rather than combining them.  So I had to quick run though the first few quests on my druid to relearn that mount so I could complete the dragonriding questline.  All for a yak so I could transmog my gear.  Worth it!

So I have a couple more months to decide between team druid and team dragon.  The evoker is really fun, but so are demon hunters and that wasn’t enough to deter me from my druid.  I currently prefer druid for tanking and do enjoy kitty DPS as well, prefer demon hunter for DPS, and shaman for healing.  I’ve yet to try out healing on the evoker and am planning to try that out next time I play.  I’ve not really been into healing at max level since Cataclysm, just tinkering around in leveling dungeons for the shorter queues.

I’m really excited about my dragon and the new expansion, and am planning to level my evoker first even if I do end up raiding primarily on my druid.  I went that route with my demon hunter in Legion.  It just fun to change things up and get a break from a couple years using the same abilities.  It’s possible my evoker will only be another alt in the end, but that won’t diminish the enjoyment of experiencing the new content as a dragon.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

GetRandomArgument Removed or Renamed

 I have a new found respect for those who develop and more specifically maintain add-ons when things can break without warning each patch/expansion. I had a couple macros making use of the GetRandomArgument function to randomize emotes expressed when putting up a pull timer or marking a priority kill target, and only discovered they were broken on raid night. Luckily I was at least prepared class change wise, and more importantly barber shop wise, so I had a bit of time to fiddle while others were figuring out other gameplay changes.

I plan to do a little more looking into the LUA code to see if there is still an equivalent function somewhere, but in the meantime my workaround was just to create an array of values and index into that with a random number (luckily that function still works). Maybe I'll get lucky and someone else will find a more elegant solution while I procrastinate. The array workaround eats up an extra 3-4 characters depending on whether or not you like to keep optional spaces in for readability, so it would be nice to have those characters available for other things given that macros can only be 255 characters total. Now that everyone is thoroughly confused, here is an example:

My original macro:
/run SetRaidTargetIcon("target",SecureCmdOptionParse('[btn:2][mod]7;8'))
/stopmacro [nocombat][btn:2][mod]
/run DoEmote(GetRandomArgument("helpme","attackmytarget","openfire"))
/s Please assist me in killing %t {rt8}!
/rw Please kill %t {rt8}!

My edited macro:
/run SetRaidTargetIcon("target",SecureCmdOptionParse('[btn:2][mod]7;8'))
/stopmacro [nocombat][btn:2][mod]
/run local e={"helpme","attackmytarget","openfire"} DoEmote(e[random(3)])
/s Please assist me in killing %t {rt8}!
/rw Please kill %t {rt8}!

Pretty trivial change, and probably more future proof in the long run. In case anyone is interest this macro just marks the target with an X and stops when the right mouse button is used, otherwise it marks the target with a skull. Additionally when in combat it emotes, asks for help in chat, and pops up a raid warning, because out of combat that would get a little annoying.

Hopefully this get caught by search engines so the next person to search for GetRandomArgument not working gets here instead of a useless bunch of outdated pages.

Friday, September 6, 2019

My First Add-On

I've been playing Warcraft Classic for a few days now when I have time, and I've finally sought out an add-on, a mana bar that shows when my druid is shape-shifted. I'm pretty sure this was also the first add-on I installed when I first started playing Warcraft. If I was asked what my first add-on was prior to Warcraft Classic I don't think I would have been able to answer. Such a silly little thing that eventually got baked into the standard UI and the add-on forgotten, but at the same time such important information to have.

Now I've only gone so far as to find and download the add-on so far, DruidBarClassic. I still need to install it and make sure it works next time I play, but I'm pretty optimistic.

We'll see if this leads to another cascade of ever increasing numbers of add-ons, or if my current minimalist outlook on add-ons will prevail.  A lot of that may be up to add-on developers since the availability of add-ons is pretty limited as compared to when I started playing near the beginning of the Burning Crusade.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Level Scaling Caps are a Mixed Blessing

In the past few months, or I support over the past year is more accurate, I've been working towards loremaster achievements with alts.  Particularly with the new allied races and the "new" level scaling changes.

I've run into a couple of annoyances: group quests for old content than cannot be soloed, and outleveling zone before finishing the content.  Both can be worked around, but both also sort of defeat the purpose of level scaling.  I can wait and come back when I outlevel the content in the case of group quests, and I can just keep completing gray quests and killing green mobs when I want to stick it out and finish a zone.

Ideally the group quests would be nerfed and/or made to be single player, and the level scaling scale to a higher level, just another 1-2 levels would be fine.

If they really wanted to get fancy they should dynamically change the level scaling cap based on what content you've played.  You could level up to the point of the current content (the character boost level) in whatever old content you wanted, but killing mobs or completing quests in the next content tier would snap the scaling for the previous content tier down.  For example you could quest to level 83 in vanilla content, but as soon as you started questing in Outland or Northrend the level camp for vanilla content would snap back to 60.

The whole point of the level scaling is to be able to quest along happily in whatever content you are working on without feeling you need to leave for greener pastures to actually progress, and right now that is broken along the boundaries between content tiers.

Some sort of compromise could be an NPC in Stormwind to toggle level scaling caps on or off.  That seems to be the go to solution for similar things.

Friday, February 1, 2019


I really like the paladin sound effects, and the visuals are pretty good too.  I'm not sure when they changed, but it was sometime after I abandoned my paladin in Cataclysm, and before I picked it back up in Legion just to see the class hall.

Maybe I've just been playing a druid so long that the growls and roars don't do it for me anymore.  I noticed they changed, but they don't excite me in the way the paladin sounds do.

I've been devoting pretty much all my unscheduled play time (aka non raid time) to leveling up a new Dark Iron paladin.  Something about the race/class fantasy of cleansing holy fire does it for me.  So far I've made it up to level 80 and I am really excited to get into Warlord of Draenor content to make use of some Blackrock style transmog gear, Blackhand's hammer in particular.