Winged Guardian Cub

Winged Guardian Cub

How can a guy this cute cause so much controversy?

Let me tell you a little story. I went to a private catholic high school. Even though we were only middle class my parents put a high value on education so they sent me to a school they thought would provide me with better opportunities in the future. There were plenty of people in that school who had parents that were very, very well off. There once was a concert of some popular band coming to the city, and some of my classmates decided to go… not only did they get the best sits that money could afford, they also made a big sign with the word “Poor” to show to the rest of the crowd. It even made the paper. It was probably just a stupid teenager move, but it illustrates something that happens in WoW quite a bit.

“I have something you don’t have.”

From raiders displaying their hard to obtain mounts, to people riding their celestial pony. Many people like to show off what they can get. It used to be that the game was “pure” and you could only get certain things through grinding or skill, but the celestial pony, at least to the masses, told everyone… I can afford to buy this.

Sure, there are plenty of people that buy it just because they like it, are “completionists”, or think is ubber-cute, but there will be a segment that gets stuff like this to tell others, “I have the money to spend that you don’t.” I think that is what rubs most people the wrong way, that they either can’t afford or chose not to spend real money beyond their monthly fees for the game.

The real issue with this cute guy is that he comes packed with tons of issues.

The most important in my opinion is value. It used to be that if you bought a pet at the store you got it on all your characters. Say you have 10 toons you play, at 10 dollars you are paying about 1 dollar per toon to have that pet. Now if you want that cute little guy on all of your 10 toons… you have to dish out 100 USD!

You say ridiculous… I say really? Yeap, there are people with multiple mains that love pets and might end up dishing out money to get it on all their toons. I think the value for the customer there is at that point diminished greatly.

The second side-effect is that since this item is now trade-able you now have an indirect way of converting real money into WoW money. This is not new, the WoW admins pointed out already that you could do that with the loot cards. Easier and more available to players it is though. It will depend greatly on your servers economy, but in essence now you CAN buy gold in a legal way if you want to.

Blizzard is being really smart about a lot of things, and this one might rub a lot of people the wrong way, but you cannot blame them for trying. Will this curve gold selling? I have no idea, I don’t know what that market looks like at all anymore. I have always been against buying gold. Is this annoying to the people that don’t want to or can afford the extra money? It depends on how much you care.

I never bought the celestial steed, I did not like how it looked. I still might some day buy the winged guardian… it will be for the convenience of having a ready mount that flies when I am leveling an alt. The game is so easy right now that I doubt it will really give anyone a big advantage to be able to sell those cubs and make gold. I don’t think it will translate into progression for anyone unless the market for them is super high. What I will be doing is waiting to see what happens with the prices for it. I know I won’t be shelling out 1000k for a pet, the cuteness factor will probably make my wife pay 10 bucks. I don’t think it will break the game… will it open the gates for other things, more than likely. Blizzard has to make money to keep the lights on, and overall I think they do a good job at not making the game all about micro transactions.

In all reality, all they are doing is keeping us talking about WoW for another week before Blizzcon. That they are obviously masters at.

*Update*

WoW insider has now posted the official response, which back ups what I mentioned about the card game already doing this. I also like the fact that Matthew Rossi bring up the point that with the cub you don’t have to hope you get a card, you actually know you are getting the cub.

Sethria’s Roost

I started to play WoW in a PvP server from the very beginning. I have been to other servers, but never leveled anything past level 10. It has been always alliance, always AzShara <- yea I spell it like that… or used to anyway.

The molten front dailies have brought alliance and horde back to clashing. In an underpopulated server, its all about the luck of the draw when you get there to work on your dailies. If you are the side with the numbers, wohoo, lets get this done. If you are not… then welcome to a miserable time.

In PvP servers people don’t get it when you are not interested in PvP. I have PvP gear, I can hold my own in must battles. When you are questing though, it is almost never a fair battle, a mob has you half health and a stealth or range comes over and burns you down quickly. I don’t care how good you are at the game, when you get ganked, it will some times turn into an annoyance.

I personally deal with it by either leaving the area if I am outnumbered or giving the player 2 – 3 battles to establish a “winner.” If I am outmatched, then I simply leave the area. Many of the people I play don’t get that concept, they continue to go back and the ganker has just too much fun killing them over and over. I don’t get it myself, I can let go of a current objective and go do something else… but some people are not like that and want to accomplish that goal before they move on to something else.

My wife is one of those people. Even though she has not the only one that has nerdraged hardcore about being ganked, she is the one that I get to hear get progressively frustrated. Sometimes I drop what I a doing and come to her “rescue” hoping to outnumber the ganker, sometimes she just logs into another character. It happens often now that the molten front is the place where a shinny new mount resides.

Sethria’s Roost is a mess of annoying design. Not only is the resurrection spot very far away from the place, if you are unlucky enough to fall off the clift, there is the chance that you cannot get to your body and WILL have to take the durability loss and rez sickness.

I personally have died in Sethria’s Roost more times since the molten front came out than all other places combined since Cata came out(Excluding Raids and Dungeons). Doing the TB dailies I would die maybe once a week when someone felt like PvPing. It was fun for me most of the time and I did not mind having to complete those dailies. The Roost is not the same place though, you are joined by NPCs that “help” you… but they have the side effect that they will attack the opposing faction if they get too close.

Even when I carefully wait my turn to engage mobs in the area, sure enough some else runs and hits the horde character and it turns into a mini battle. The chances of being outnumbered in that area in AzShara are pretty good, so you end up with a long walk back. Sure you can take revenge, but I don’t wish that walk on another player, even if they tried to gank me.

One night a boomkin was there, I can’t remember if I attacked first or if he just hit one of my “helpers” with an AoE. Bottom line was that even after I backed off, there was going to be a battle and he knew how to use his abilities well. I ended up helplessly flying through the air to my impending death. My character got stuck, I got to learn that it is not a good cliff to die.

It was not the gold it took to repair, I did not even waste too much time, I knew getting to my body was going to be a pain so I too the rez sickness and move on. It was just the fact that being in a PvP server meant that even if I did not want to engage in battle with another player I did not have a choice.

My wife reminds me all the time that she did not have a choice on the matter either since I was playing in a PvP server. I also did not have a choice because when I rolled my first toon I had no clue what it really meant to be in a PvP server. The frustration of not having the power to just say, hey I don’t feel like being killed while completing this quest had finally clicked.

This is probably one of the top 3 reasons why AzShara is not going to be our home server anymore. And as a friend wisely put it, if they were ever to make the server PvE and the population issues were fixed… we might some day come back “home.” If you are new to WoW, make sure that you take this into consideration before you chose between PvP and PvE servers.

Why WoW is losing players

I have debated whether or not I should post this for quite some time. Its a very touchy subject because I don’t want to send the wrong message to my guild. So I start by saying that the opinions here while coming from your guild leader, its from the point of view of a player.

I love playing WoW. I think it is one of the most complete games, but what makes it even more compelling beyond the great development effort that goes into creating fresh content it is the community. However, the community is losing members faster than I have ever seen, and not just in my very low populated server but all over.

I real a lot of blogs, not just about WoW but other subjects. When it comes to WoW most of the people that I loved to read are gone or have switched to other games. Once you start losing people that support the community beyond the game, you start losing players as well. I am not a doomsayer and when Rift came out I was very much a defender of WoW and blizzard. However, the more time passes, the more I think they are failing to provide a service for most people.

The reality of what is going on right now is that trying to please everyone with this expansion they ended up screwing everyone over.

Firelands is a big failure in my opinion, as well as the molten front. Not even when I was going back to grind some rep for an alt did it feel like I was simply grinding. The firelands raid has done nothing but highlight that the raiding in this tier is at best annoying and at worst a waste of time. Some of it feels so out of touch with what makes raiding fun that I wonder if any of the developers are actually playing through the game. Raiding always felt like leading an orchestra… now it has turned into an exercise of paying attention to an endless amount of things that can kill you, but can be easily trivialized by either knowing the fight well or gear trivializing it. It brings down the replay value of that aspect of the game a lot.

If I did not play with a group of friends that I enjoy quite a bit and make me laugh every time we get together I don’t think I will be playing this game anymore. I feel like I have seen the content I wanted to see, and even killing Deathwing does not feel like something I would enjoy if I am going to have to dodge fireworks that I cannot even clearly see.

Most casual players that don’t raid have already stopped playing. They did everything that there was to do, and the ones that continue to play are doing so via alts. It is not like back in the day that everyone had tons of stuff to do on their main… now almost everything feels like an endless grind and when you do get the rewards they are not that exciting anymore.

Blizzard had the opportunity to do so much, but instead of making some things excellent and well polished; so much of the game feels incomplete. Guilds hit 25, and even those weekly challenges are not something that we are having to coordinate to do as a guild, they just happen on their own. PvP is so all over the place and unbalanced that fight are either done in seconds or take 30 mins + or until someone simply gives up. So I see more and more people kind of think the game is not fun to play and I really have nothing to point out as a fun thing to do… I used to be full of, have you tried this? this quest like is lots of fun, this class has some new cool mechanics… this is where you find x or y and it will make things awesome.

Maybe I am completely crazy, but I think that if raiding was a lot more like the mega man series, where you would find things along the way that would really help you with other bosses it might change the game a bit. Right now there is no reason to get more gear because the gap between normals and heroics is too big, and for non hardcore raiders the grind of learning a fight and then having to deal with the annoyance that it was the normal now double in damage and with more “pretty lights” just feels like an insane endeavor.

I really hope that the next patch comes out soon, because even though I have only raided 4 bosses in firelands, I am sick of the color palate already.

4.1 and the Goodie Bag

I have been meaning to post more about my reactions to Cata, but most of my spare time has been spent actually playing the game. Overall I am very happy with the way this expansion came out and its first mayor patch is only a glympse at the things to come.

The phasing technology used in the past has been a great success story for the development team, and besides some annoying nodes that you cannot mine but see in the map or gankers that hide behind a phased quest, it allows for the story in many areas to unfold before your eyes rather than be told through text.

Heroics are not challenging anymore… well at least not the original ones. The new ZA and ZG are not impossible, but I do feel bad for people that have to pug it. When the expansion first came out the bad group to good group ration was about 1 to 10. I have only qued for the new instances a couple of times and I still have not finished one with a pug. A full guild group can complete it with no problem even though it still takes more time than it probably will.

Most people are complaining from the Ruby Sanctum effect with the new content. It goes something like this… when RS came out it dropped mid level gear, a little better than people that did not raid have… but the encounter seemed to almost require raid gear to complete. The groups we have taken through ZA and ZG most overgeared it. I still think it will be a good place to level alts to catch them up to gear level to fill up spots or alt runs.

ZA and ZG are making one of the issues that Blizzard is “trying” to fix more appearent… people don’t want to tank. I have 3 of those right now, all either in raid gear or ready to start raiding. I know several of the tanks in our guild that raid don’t enjoy it. They do it for the quick que and that is about it. Tanking is really not that much fun when you don’t have people cooperating. I tank for guildies, but dread tanking for pugs. So Blizzard released this new goodie bag that pushes tanks and healers to que alone to fill the gaps left by people not wanting to tank or heal.

I know this subject has been discussed at lenght, but this week I have actually been able to que up for the bag and give it a world… and the result was that I really don’t care for the bag all that much. The mounts it promises I already have. I really don’t need the gold or flasks. The irritation level that is reached when pugs start being less than nice is ridiculous and something I just don’t find worth my time.

I might change my mind a couple of weeks from now when most people have done ZA and ZG and most of the run does not consist of explaining each trash pull to people. I don’t have the patience to once again explain to people that CC will make life easier because most of the time they are starting to pull stuff for me if there is any hesitation. I don’t get how a DPS that waits 30 minutes for a que is not willing to wait for 2 minutes of marking and explaining CCs and would rather wipe so that he can “go, go, go!”

So for now I am not that intersted in the goodie bag and running the content with guildies has been tons of fun. This week’s raiding was kind of put in the back burner since a couple of encounters are just bugged, we killed everything we could this week and will continue to progress. Only 4 bosses to go on this tier of content :)

First Alliance Guild to Level 25

First Alliance Guild to Level 25!

The Saints did it. For months now we have been quietly getting ready for this goal, to be the first guild to hit 25. Another guild that did just a little more grinding that we did and got it first in the Horde side of our server, but we won the race on the Alliance side by days, possibly even a week or two. However, no guild in our server has as many Guild Achievement points as we do! :) You guys are AWESOME!

Ranks

Ever since the new guild leveling feature was announced I knew that we would be excellent at it. Our guild has been able to do amazing things by just working together and at the same time having fun.

I am still tired by some of the grinding we had to do :) but it was all worth it :)

We have about 15 lions now, and next week that number should hopefully double! You have to be Exalted with the guild to claim the price. The perks don’t stop there though. Mass resurrection is a blast of an ability, and plentiful bags is also making it sweet to farm.

I would like to thank all the officers and most of all our members that put in an extra effort this week to achieve this goal. While the end result is sweet, the journey was the most awesome part. We are very proud to have accomplished this as a group since this is not something that just a few did! we all had our part on adding to this awesome accomplishment! Congratulations Saints! and THANK YOU!

L2Play Heroics!

Since my last rant about healing I went the Holy way and it is possible to heal heroics a lot better than with Disc, at least at the moment… Sad day for me, but I guess I will have to wait until the next patch to try Disc again. My tank is geared past heroics now; but even with him I dread tanking heroics.

The game has always been about the purples. Everyone wants to get their shinnies, be it to show off in the trade district or just to get the achievements related to them, everyone wants to be “Epic.” Most of us in the guild want to get geared so we can start raiding and that means we have to do heroics.

Heroics are taking a lot of time. Back in the Vanilla or BC days when I started playing, a lot of the time was travel time to get to a heroic, but even with instant que from a tank a heroic can go as long as 3 hours if you have to explain the fights. Its also not as cool to be a tank as you think, sure we get insta que’s but the moment we get in with 4 other people, that means there are plenty more in que waiting for one. I have heard of que’s for DPS of over an hour.

L2Play (Learn to Play) is often tossed around when people find something challenging that someone else can do easily in the game. It is really getting on my nerves at the moment that most people seem to want to fall into groups of “awesome” players and people that need to L2Play. Heroics are doing that though. Some encounters are pretty challenging and don’t only have a learning curve but unforgiving mechanics… (what good is a 150K health pool if some mechanics still one shot people?)

I don’t consider myself awesome at the game, I feel I am competent at tanking but certain mechanics still get me. My perfect nemesis is right now in Stonecore. The third boss, huge rock dude is just nasty. He basically can 1 shot everyone including tanks. He has a frontal attack that I can strafe out of with no problem, however that is when things get complicated. he also has a stomp ability that everyone need to run out of, including the tank… and well, timing the strafe, run out, don’t let it face the DPS and healers can sometimes get out of control. I am sure with more practice I will do fine on that fight, but it seems like a pretty unforgiving mechanic that with one misstep can take out everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the game is amazing. Questing and dailies don’t seem to have an end to them. The fun I used to have in the Isle of Q grinding is back in several places where I don’t mind doing dailies. The JC daily minus the freaking Lila quest (jeweldigger she is) does not feel like a grind and is making me look forward to getting all patterns. I am having tons of fun farming rep and it has even made me want to go back and get all the alliance side preps to Exalted. Running dungeons on heroic is just not that much fun. Healing them is not either, its challenging but not fun at all.

I think that Blizzard did a heck of a job with this expansion, and I am sure many people are happy to be able to tell other L2Play. I personally don’t find it all that satisfying to do heroics when I know a lot of the people I want to play with cannot do them just yet. Regulars are still fun and now that my tank is geared I might be able to enjoy both healing and tanking on alts a lot more. Raiding is starting to pick up momentum and that will be a lot of fun. For now, heroics are still not a fun part of the game and the only true grind besides archeology.

The Dark Side of WoW

Cataclysm is an amazing expansion, I have not had this much fun with the game EVER! All around the questing is just very well built. The dungeons are beautiful, the new mechanics are challenging, plenty is broke with the classes, but time will fix all of that. We even managed to down the new boss in Tol Barad in our first visit. Things are going well… well so it seems. The best thing about WoW is that is an MMO and people make the game enjoyable. Having an awesome group of people to play with makes it a wonderful experience… but the moment you step out, the moment the game changes and it turns into a very, very frustrating experience.

Blizzard decided that healing was too easy and decided to go back to making it challenging again. They are sticking by their decision of making things more challenging and while I respect that, well it has also made for some horrible interactions with people. I hear stories every day from guildies having horrible times in heroics. Even though my healer is past the gear level for heroics I stay away. I run heroics with my tank only with guildies and gave up trying to have people CC in pugs.

Sometimes you get into a group and everyone does what they are supposed to, but the norm right now is that one person will not do what they are supposed to and ruin the experience for the rest. Most people got used to the pace of chain pulling heroics during the last part of Wrath and expect that same speed out of a heroic dungeon. I think people don’t realize that heroic is not a 15 minute burn through bosses run, but a couple of hour commitment to team work and execution.

As a guild we have completed most heroic dungeons. Some people have already done them all and are even working on the achievements. I personally have stepped back and been working on reps and professions. I think that we will run a lot more heroics in the coming weeks and probably stay away from pugs as much as possible.

The anonymity of being behind a keyboard miles away makes people say some nasty stuff. Try to not take it personal and stick to your friends when running things for the time being. Its a nasty world out there at the moment and until people start to slow down in heroics, I think more and more people will find them to be a source of frustration rather than the source of sun they should be.

Guild Perks

There is way too much to talk about in Cataclysm and the more I play this expansion, the more I love it. Guild Leveling is by far the most rewarding because it is an amazing feeling when you are in the middle of playing and across your screen the entire guild gets an achievement. No matter where you are at or what you are doing you see across the screen that we as a group acomplished something that will benefit all of us. From leveling faster to having cheaper repair bills, the guild rewards are making us work as a team and made us all focus on the guild.

During the first week of gameplay I though we were going to make a push to start raiding right away, seeing that many top world guild were already done with the initial normal modes like we were conquering dungeons. Then I took a step back and saw that everyone was having fun, not just leveling but looking at those guild achievments and not being daunted by the task of killing 50K critters but just ready to kill another 500 today.

We have our crafters and miners going nuts to reach all those watermarks. We have our PvPers hunting down horde (actually we are done hunting and already got Horde Slayer). We are slowly but surely getting our raid team geared and together to start farming heroics and helping people get through the initial content, but overall we are having fun as a guild.

Initially some people had concerns about how the rewards would affect their alts. Some of the rewards really don’t kick in until you reach honored with the guild which can take some time. The thing is about commitment though, if you are commited to being a part of a guild you now have to work towards getting those rewards not just by simply showing up, but by actually doing things with and for the guild.

Everyone seems to have their favorite perk, and some are just beinging to notice. Cheaper repairs has been one that almost everyone is noticing, specially after getting into a bad heroic group. The one I am looking forward to Hasty Heart because its always nice to not have your HS on cooldown.

I really want to thank everyone that is working so hard to get the rewards we are all benefitting from and want to say AWESOME JOB guys. This game is all about the people :) and we have the best guildies ever!

A Week in Cataclysm

After a week in the post Cataclysm Word of Warcraft I have to start by being a blizzard fanboy. I did not mind that ICC was the only new content for a year as much as other people did. It became the training grounds for many players that had never raided before, including my wife. All that time spent in there made them a lot more prepared to take on this new content that is a lot more challenging but far more rewarding. The finished product feels a lot more polished than Wrath felt when it came out. I cannot stop saying, WoW. I never cared much for a game being beautiful because always find gameplay more important… but I just cannot stop flying and swimming through some of these areas and saying, this is just amazing. One freaking paragraph in, and I am already going to start using all the positive adjectives in the English language.

Before I go into more of the love fest, lets talk about some of the bumps on the roads have been.

While the added complexity of the dungeons is truly fun and challenging, there are some mobs and some pulls that are too complex for non heroic content. I keep on thinking on the people that don’t raid but still like to go into dungeons, they almost have no chance against some of these mechanics. As casuals that raid, we are used to not only moved out of the fire, but read the buffs that the mobs have to paint the roadmap of how we are going to kill them. Hey, that thing has a mana bar and its casting healing spells or silencing our healer… kill it. A lot of people will not get why they keep on ending up dead and become frustrated easily.

Even though 90% of the quest content has been revamped to be really easy to complete, there are still some quests that are very frustrating. We play in a PvP server and the other faction does not play nice, and in some cases mob tagging becomes very, very annoying.

Tagging is the practice by some players of hitting an NPC right before you actually engage it so they get the kill. This can be done to an elite that you need to complete a quest, if the target’s health bar is gray it means you will not get credit for it.

I have personally have not been frustrated by world PvP. Even walking through a group of about 30 opposite faction members we were left alone. It seems that for the most part people are trying to level. I have heard from other guildies that some areas become simply infuriating with the ganking, but my response is simple… the moment the game is becoming frustrating, just log into another toon or switch areas. Most gankers are also cowards, so every time we show up to rescue a guildie they seem to leave, even if they were camping. I would say in most instances it has not been worth our trip, but it has been very satisfying to just drive people away from anyone wearing our tag.

Tanking has been pretty difficult specially in heroics. While there is really no more one shots due to gear, most of my deaths have come the way of oom healer (out of mana). This is a little frustrating when it happens because DPS are still thinking ICC or Wrath (burn the whole group) and ignore CC attempts or marked targets which depleats the healers mana. Most healers are also not used to letting DPS drop to conserve mana. Once these shifts (not sure it really will) I think that DPS will get the idea that they cannot tank, even if they do have enourmous health pools now.

And that is it, that is pretty much all I can complaint about… and I am starting to realize that this is becoming lenghty and rambly! So I might have to leave some of the rest for another post!