Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Somewhere Between Casual and Hardcore

There exists a pretty large group of people who aren't bleeding edge raiders, top of the ladder pvpers or diehard theorycrafters, but who still take a keen interest in what happens to their class and what other players have to say. Much more so than a casual player who learns on their own or from/with a small circle of friends at their own pace.

That group can be further classified on how that information is used. At one extreme you have the flavor of the month folks who change their entire play style around the newest bit of intel available and on the other people more like myself who are not going to change something that they enjoy to benefit from a buff or escape a nerf.

A prime example is my hunter, I rolled marksman when it wasn't the ideal spec; beastmastery reigned supreme throughout BC. As I was leveling I picked talents that complimented my play style and as it turns out they were mostly in the marksman tree. I remember back when WotLK had recently come out and survival was the "best" spec I was in the inn over in one of the Northrend starting areas and a mage came up and whispered to me something like, "you know survival is better right?". I don't recall what I said to that if anything, but if I did I am sure it wasn't nice. :)

I was also a feral druid/dps hybrid since I made my druid and still am to this day. Even with dual specs I took Resto as a secondary rather than min/max two specs for feral DPS and tanking. I've always leaned on the tanking side when speccing, but I do forgo some of the less vital tanking talents to be more proficient in my kitty gear. I am sure I could do more dps if I specced exclusively for it, but as is I know my class well enough that I can put out competative damage plus have the added utility to tank or heal at a moments notice. That is what being a druid has always been for me.

None of that has anything to do with any research into what others have discovered about my class though. That information does play a part though, just a pretty small one. The most valuable source of information in that regard is Blizzard themselves. When I change something it is because of a fundamental change in the class, like the talent trees were redone or a new ability was added. I don't ever have to worry about a small nerf here or a buff there. The little stuff handles itself if you follow the developers vision of the class/spec.

Fighting your class/spec does have short term benefits, but those come at a cost. The trick is to figure out what blizzards plans are for your character and use that as a guideline. There are things out there like diseaseless dps for death knights, add-ons that automatically cancel eclipse procs to benefit boomkins, stacking of armor penetration above all else for a competative edge. None of these things will last long since they were never intended. Short term you've got yourself something great, long term you will get hit down with the nerf bat something fierce.

I think a large part of anticipating class changes is enjoying the class you play and finding the class you enjoy most is a very time consuming process. Different classes have different feels to them in different level brackets and even then you can't really be sure until you've played it a while. I tend to favor melee DPS and tanking, healing feels like whack-a-mole and ranged DPS just seems to go at a slower pace than melee. I still enjoy healing and ranged DPS, they are kind of relaxing and require a lot less concentration on my part. On the downside they get really boring after a while. Took me the better part of a year to figure that out.

Even within my preferred roles of tanking and melee DPS I still can't get into paladins or warriors, they are too simplistic for my liking at least at the levels I've played at. My warrior is only level 6 and my paladin 23. I know warriors get more cool stuff, but paladins I am not so sure. I plan on leveling a goblin warrior next expansion along with a worgen priest, so we'll see if that changes my opinion any when the time comes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thoughts from an Undead Bear

After a most enjoyable if not a little long guild Naxx run Monday I was able to collect enough gear to hit and defense cap my death knight after dropping a chunk of change yesterday.

Speaking of the Naxx run, it was your run of the mill to the point where we cleared all 4 wings within raid time. Our interim leadership was ready to call it a night, but by popular demand we figured we'd give the last two bosses a shot. After all we had one shotted everything so far. So we got the boney dragon down in one try and moved on to KT, wiped once at a ridiculous 5% or something. I'm sure I was not the only one that had zero expectations and was amazed that we got that far. Two brand new to naxx players, 6 melee and only one ranged DPS. Second attempt we got him down nice and clean. 3 people get the Naxx clear achievement, yay!

So back to the death knight tanking. From a bear's perspective there is a whole lot more to watch and think about as a death knight. The worst thing that can happen to a bear is to find yourself without rage and have to fight for threat without it. The death knight equivalent is to be without runes or runic power when you need it which can happen at any time in a fight where as a bear will generally only have a rage issue early on.

So as a death knight you have to think ahead, "Some adds will come out soon, I need to have my death and decay ready." and/or "Let me make sure I have a blood rune available to refresh my diseases on everything." This is in stark contrast to what goes through the mind of a bear, "Hey... adds! Swipe."

While bears just go about spamming buttons, death knights have a more structured approach that isn't as flexible with a mistake or two. For example you pull a group, burn all your runes building initial threat and woops where that other group come from. Death and decay will take too long, blood boil won't help much without diseases with everyone AOEing them. You have to spread diseases and then blood boil them preferably before they eat anyone. For a bear there is no change of tactics, swipe, swipe.

Another thing about death knights, specifically the blood spec I play is that you have to balance resources between threat and mitigation. I have a lot of oh shit buttons that require a blood rune and the cooldown associated with them. In a pinch I might have to stop generating aggro to keep myself alive. I'm sure this will be less and less of a problem as I gear up, but it is another thing you never have to think about as a bear.

I don't have and experience with warriors or paladins, but from what I know of their abilities death knights are a step above them in complexity as well. Warriors do have a comparable number of tricks up their sleeves, but again near infinite resources to work with most of the time. That whole can't do something exactly when you want to is something unique to the death knight play style.

Death knights have the ability to really shine when used to their full potential though. I tanked heroic Halls of Lightning yesterday and after forgetting frost presence, then tanking gear for the first couple pulls things went pretty smoothly. That frost presence thing is easy to miss at times, I need a big furry reminder in the center of my screen. And tanking in dps gear isn't so terrible for a feral druid. Just a couple more things that death knights need to be more aware of.

So about death knight awesomeness, we crashed and burned the first Loken attempt; healer went down in a nova and I was left to fend for myself. I completely forgot to use two of my abilities, one of which was my anti magic shell the other was another healing ability. Least I remembered to pop lichborne and heal myself with a few death coils. In any case the second attempt I am pretty sure I kept healed all by myself although with druid hots flying around one can never be entirely sure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coming Full Circle

It has been a while. Coincidentally I stopped posting around the same time raiding 4 nights a week became a little to much for me. You know how it is, so and so is recruiting for a raid, you're free that day, sounds like a good idea at the time and you stick your name in the hat. Then a few weeks later the person that recruited you and his brother leave and your the leader of 10 man raid that you weren't quite sure you were really all that into to begin with. Yeah I think that is just me.

Well in any case that raid used to be 4 hours both Tuesday and Thursday night, till I came right out and said that was too much for me with my resignation in hand. Turns out as I had suspected many felt the same and now we just run Thursday. Boom extra day to do whatever I feel like, even if that something happens to be raiding. Something has to be said for doing away with a fixed schedule. I look forward to getting Thursday back as well, but so long as I am leading I feel an obligation to stick around.

Long term I see myself sticking solely to guild runs which is where I started raiding in the first place. Which is where I see most of the core members of the guild have ended up. Must be the natural progression of a casual raider to go out there and see all you can see then find you were happiest where you were to start with.