Monday, February 28, 2011

RestoDude asks why it might be the right thing for a healer to let someone die:
Tanks and healers are in general top priority, you could do with a dps less but losing a tank makes most fights impossible and losing a healer puts more stress on the other healer(s) still alive, which then could force them to let people die because of the damage being to high for them to handle.

It's an interesting question in a lot of ways.

In practice, I find that my healing algorithm is to focus on the tank and then handle the raid when I have a moment. Thus it's usually not all that conscious of a call to let a dps die. If the tank is below 50%, the tank is getting my next heal, and there's nothing to think about. I only make an exception for wild growth, which is so powerful you've just got to hit it on cooldown if you've got an opportunity to use it.

A related question is when do you battle rez someone? I run into this question all the time in raids if a dps dies early on. If I rez them, then we'll have a lot more dps, but I'll waste the fight's only battle rez. (I mostly run in 10-mans). Maybe we'll have an emergency later on? Deciding when and who to battle rez is often a more concious and interesting choice.

Most of the time, I won't battle rez a dpser. However, if the enrage timer matters for us, I'll do it. If that dpser was performing some vital role and not just nuking the boss, I'll do it. Also, counter-intuitively, I'll also battle rez dps if the content doesn't seem that challenging. In such cases, I figure we don't need the battle rez for the purposes of defeating the content, and it's more of a social issue of whether to leave a fellow player laying on the floor or not.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What to do at level 85

Aspect of the Hare raises a common sentiment among Warcraft players:
Upon hitting 85 on my main, I looked around and realized that I had no motivation to do what I’d already done several times before in previous expansions. One month later and Tawyn’s still in greens and I’ve hardly touched her. I did have a brief spurt of motivation when I remembered how much I absolutely LOVED doing Uldum, so I ran over to my Horde-side hunter, powerleveled her to 83 specifically to do Uldum, and went and did Uldum again. It’s just as awesome the second time around. Unfortunately, upon finishing it up, I have, once again, found myself at a loss for what to do.

Many people said the same thing about level 80 in Wrath. When you're leveling, there's a clear direction on what to do next. At max level, though, what do you do?

If you have fun doing daily quests, exploring zones that you skipped, and going for solo achievements, then reaching the level cap opens up a host of possibilities. You won't be bored. You will, however, have to approach the game differently than you did during levelling, which already runs people into a sort of options paralysis.

Things are different if you want to continue to make your character more powerful. You have to increase reputation with factions that will give your character better gear. You need to run a random heroic once a day. You need to run randoms, heroic or otherwise, until you have at least 333 gear in most slots, either through drops or through justice points. You need to get your professions up to max level. It's a lot of different things, and you have to direct yourself to know to do them, and you don't get the clearcut goals and dings from the default UI to guide you on the path.

In addition, you need to run raids. Raids in Cataclysm are less forgiving than in Wrath. I don't just mean the first-tier raid, either. Naxxramus was notoriously easy, but Ulduar, Trial, and Icecrown were all manageable if you maxxed out gear from the previous tear. To contrast, trying to do Cataclysm raids in mostly ilvl-333 gear is going to be painful. Lots of fights are going to be balanced such that you must do everything exactly perfectly or the healers will run out of mana or you'll miss the enrage timer or some other problem.

To my taste, the intro raids are balanced a little bit too difficult in Cataclysm. I wish they had at least a few raiding bosses that were pretty easy, so that less organized guilds could at least do the easy bosses every week and gear up slowly. More dedicate guilds would be coordinated enough to beat the harder bosses every week, too, so they'd advance much more quickly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Talking in random dungeons?

Jinxed Thoughts has a great article up on individual play versus group play in Warcraft. It's an important topic for making Warcraft a great game. If anything, I lean toward thinking it is too far toward the individual side. If I really wanted to play a single-player game, there are vastly better options out there. The reason to play Warcraft is the social interaction.

One point I'd emphatically agree with is this:
I socialize as much with my random pugs today as I feel like I did a couple of years ago, and believe it or not, people are as prone to act as morons now as they were then. To me the random dungeons are the same, but without the 1-2 hours wait of collecting people for the run and having everyone travel to the instance. Seriously guys, do you miss that?
Gathering groups for a 5-man was just terrible. It's good to be reminded of this before complaining about the groups the Dungeon Finder assembles.

One question is one I've been thinking about lately:
I've got a friend who, without any special reason, doesn't say much in instances. He never has. I on the other hand talk all the time, even when tanking and healing (which has lead to some wipes). It is naturally a little difficult to do a good job tanking/dpsing/healing if your keyboard is busy typing words. So if you do a smooth run, ie stay in combat alot, there might not be much typing and not much "talking".

I wouldn't say it's wrong to be silent in a random. I used to stay silent during most randoms, and I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing. For other people, I'd rather shy folks come along than that they sit out. However, lately I've personally started making an effort to say hi to everyone and get a little small talk going. If nothing else, it makes things more fun than if you grimly march through and blast pixels to bits without a word. As well, sometimes something really interesting or funny will come up.

As well as those advantages, however, it also increases your chances of success. Suppose you wipe on a boss due to miscoordination. Suppose you see that the tank isn't using cooldowns. Suppose the paladin has a weird choice of auras up. Your group will be better if you can share your insight. When you get ready to share that insight, it's going to go a whole lot better if you have a talking relationship with them. If you don't, then the first words out of your keyboard are going to be criticism, and players will have an initial reaction to blow you off.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Normals dungeons are for learning?

Icedragon writes:
I’m fine with newbies when they’re in normal instances. Some people prefer questing all the way to the level cap, which isn’t a bad thing. You’re new to the dungeon? Use your map and ask questions if you don’t understand a mob pack or boss strategy. Communicate with your group. For the most part the newbies I meet are open to learning how things work, and some are even nervous about their performance. I’m a regular poster in the Newbie forum and it’s satisfying to help someone out.

It is a pretty theory that people should practice in normal dungeons and then go do heroic dungeons. However, it doesn't work in practice. I've tried getting people to crowd control in normals, and they complain it is too slow. They're not wrong, either. If it weren't for the aspect of trying to practice for heroics, there really wouldn't be much point in crowd controlling in most normals fights.

As a result, the only way to practice the new things you need for heroics--crowd control, damage reduction--is to actually run heroics. As such, I don't see a way for Icedragon to attain a mythical world where other random people he meets through the Dungeon Finder are going to know as much about Warcraft as he does. Everyone starts out not knowing, and then mostly learns from doing it rather than reading about it, and since they are all in one pool, they are just going to be a lot of groups that mix old hands with hopeful newbies. Personally, I kind of like that mix in general.

The closest thing to a good answer I can come up with is to drop the valor-point bonus for running daily random heroic dungeons. The valor point bonus was initially put in so that people will have a reason to run heroics after they outgear them. However, it's not needed any longer. Meanwhile, the heroic dungeons are clogged up with people who totally outgear them. If they dropped the valor-point bonus, then the only people in heroic dungeons would be people who have some heroic gear but are hoping for a little more. Groups would have a consistent gear level, and they'd also have a more consistent level of newbiness. The feel would be more like with levelling dungeons, where three out of the five have no idea and the other two are levelling alts and can contribute a lot of pointers.