Archive for October 2012

Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 1

It’s official. In eleven days, my World of Warcraft account subscription will expire and, for the first time in years, I will not be renewing it. This, I imagine, is not news to anyone who’s read this blog more than a couple of times in the last several months, or listened to Blessing of Frost since, oh, Firelands was nerfed.

I haven’t actually clicked the “cancel” button yet, but the last time I renewed my sub, I used a game time card so that even if I forgot to cancel, they couldn’t bill me again. Once I do hit that button, I plan to use these forthcoming posts to help describe my reasons for leaving the game. (There’s no way 500 characters or something like that would ever even put a dent into my reasons and feelings about the game.)

Anyhow, I’m not out to convince anyone to quit or that the game sucks or anything of the sort. Play or don’t play, that’s your choice and your choice alone. I feel compelled to document my decision and my reasons to better understand it all myself. I also want to blog about it because I’ve become more interested in the decision to game/raid/etc than the actual content of the game and so exploring my own reasons seems like a good place to start.

Reason 1: The Evolution of Raids/Accessibility of Raiding Content

Since I discovered what “raiding” was, back in Vanilla, I have wanted to raid. I wanted to be like that guy from my server, Thack (no, not Theck, Thack) who was in 9/9 Dreadnaught Armor (warrior T3) and who was a Scarab Lord. He would stand around Lagforge Ironforge on his bug mount, in his gear and would basically just look awesome.

I was fascinated by the idea of a team, a real team, of 40 people working together in concert to do stuff. So when I discovered what raiding was, courtesy of my brother who was killing Ragnaros with another guild, I went into research mode. I found out everything I needed to know about attunements and questlines and then I shared that info with my guildies. The old Fated Heroes guild had a significant problem in that people would join the guild, we’d work hard to help them get to 60 and then they’d hop over to a raiding guild on the server. So I approached the GM and asked him if he WANTED to raid. All the officers did, they just didn’t know how to retain the players. That’s where I came in. I helped to educate the players and helped to put into action these plans about raiding. I did attunement runs out the wazoo. I helped recruit people. It was a great team effort just to start raiding ZG, then AQ20 (to an extent) before finally hitting up MC and trying to down Onyxia.

Then, the guild kind of fell apart and we kind of went our own ways for the start of Burning Crusade, only we all regrouped in May and then formed Apotheosis on June 1st, 2007.

Here, I thought, was my chance to raid with some people whose company I really enjoyed and we’d do it better than we ever did back in Fated Heroes. We formed with the goal to kill Illidan. And, eventually, we did.

While we fell apart in Wrath of the Lich King, we reformed for “Apotheosis 2.0″ for Cataclysm and we put the old Apotheosis to shame by doing 7/13 HM in T11, 6/7 HM and Glory of the Firelands raider in T12 and following it up with 8/8 HM in T13 Soul along with Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider. These were unprecedented levels of raiding success for our guild. So many people had grown with the guild and had come back to play with us and it was really amazing to see this mix of old and new together, working as a team and succeeding.

Having said all of that, I play the game to raid. I LOVED learning Lucifron in Molten Core. It was such an epic fight to me back then. I remember this one moment where I realized I was about to die, because I had Impending Doom on me. I had used my healthstone. My health potion was on cooldown. My bandages were on cooldown. In fact, here… Since I knew I was going to die, I took a screenshot of it. This was taken on July 22nd, 2006.

So I did die after that Impending Doom. And yet, that ended up being the winning attempt. Lucifron down! And I got the Tome of Tranquilizing Shot. Then we played with Gehennas a bit (Magmadar with just 1 Tranq Shot? HAH.) and called it a night.

I loved the teamwork we showed in this instance. I loved setting up my hunter rotations for Tranq Shot — there was me, Toga, Kaiu, Sharpbow and a few others over the course of the next few months. We never missed a single rotation. We nailed it. Because we worked together as a team.

Now, you may be wondering, Kurn, don’t you still have to work as a team to defeat raid encounters?

Yes. But only to an extent. Why only to an extent? Well, dear reader, if you wait long enough, Blizzard will nerf the encounters.

In their ongoing goal to make raid content “accessible”, their design choices have changed drastically from what they did in Vanilla to what they do now.

TO ENTER MOLTEN CORE IN VANILLA:

– Attunement quest at Level 55, requiring you to defeat most of the bosses in Blackrock Depths in order to get your core fragment. This often required you actually knowing how to play your class well enough to be part of a successful core attunement run. (Or for you to be carried by friends/guildies/etc. Or summoned by a warlock.)

TO ENTER DRAGON SOUL IN CATACLYSM:

– Ding 85.

It’s not exactly even. And don’t get me started on Onyxia attunement. (Dammit, Maj, I still cannot believe YOU DIED on Jailbreak, dude. ;))

Now, and this is where I think a lot of people misunderstand me, I want to make it clear that I don’t much like jumping through arbitrary hoops, despite my admiration of attunements. I think a lot of things they’ve changed about raiding through the years have been quality of life changes.

In Burning Crusade, they introduced the “1 flask or 1 Guardian elixir and 1 Battle elixir” rule. They also changed food buffs so you could only have one on you at a time.

Lots of people cried “NERF OMG” but I was one of many others who were like “oh thank God, I don’t need to have a flask, plus another 5 elixirs on me.” I mean, look up at that screenshot again — I don’t even have an Elixir of the Mongoose on. (Bad Kurn.)

The change made sense. It allowed the devs to assume everyone would have one flask OR two elixirs and one food buff and they would build the encounters with that in mind and it allowed people who wanted to raid to not, you know, farm for the 20 hours a day they didn’t raid. ;) I was a fan of this. (Less of a fan of them nerfing holy paladins and Illumination, but ANYWAY.)

Later in BC, Blizz lifted the attunement requirements to Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, The Battle for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. While we didn’t do the attunements for SSC and TK in Apotheosis back then, we did do the Hyjal and BT attunements just by virtue of progressing through T5 and we also wanted the shadow resist necks for the Mother fight in BT, so we got just about everyone that attunement.

While I wasn’t, shall we say, thrilled by the change, my guild benefitted from it. So I can’t really complain too much. And we did the “important” attunements anyhow, getting most everyone Hand of A’dal and their BT necks.

One month before Wrath of the Lich King was to be released, Patch 3.0 dropped. With new talents and abilities and such came a 30% nerf to all raid bosses. Unchangeable, couldn’t turn it on or off. If you were raiding, you were dealing with a 30% nerf to everything. More, it was initially undocumented.

This was the first really big nerf that Blizzard implemented.

Again, my guild benefitted from it. We were 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 BT at that point. We knew we would get Archimonde down without the nerf, but didn’t have the opportunity to prove it. Then again, without the nerf, we probably wouldn’t have gotten through the rest of BT and wouldn’t have achieved our goal of killing Illidan.

I never thought this would become a trend.

The next time we saw huge buffs/nerfs like that was in Icecrown Citadel, with a stacking “buff” to make players more powerful in increments of 5% all the way up to 30%. I first killed Heroic 25-man Sindragosa at the 15% buff and later, repeated 11/12 HM progression on 25-man mode (with another guild) at the 25-30% buff level. It was still difficult, because fights like Heroic Putricide and Heroic Sindragosa were more about coordination than raw power.

I was okay with the buff, for the most part. It got pretty silly by the 30% point, but I told myself it was just because the instance was going to be the last major one (please, who counts Ruby Sanctum? Screw you and your boots, Halion!) of the expansion and it was going to last a while. And it did last a while. It lasted a year. A YEAR.

Then Tier 11 showed up in Cataclysm and, well, chunks of it were really difficult. Apotheosis went 7/13 HM before Firelands came out and we were like “SEEYA” to Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight and Throne of the Four Winds.

They nerfed T11 normal modes when Firelands came out. They did not touch the heroic modes.

I felt that nerfing T11 normals was a bad plan. My guild’s alt run carried me through T11 normals on my hunter post-nerf and it was ridiculous. In a single night, Kurn got Defender of a Shattered World, a title that had taken Madrana several weeks (three months?) to earn.

Still, they hadn’t nerfed the heroics and we weren’t touching T11 content anyhow, so I thought, well, that’s fine. I guess.

And then came the Firelands nerf. This is where I became acutely aware that Blizzard’s ideas on raiding were now significantly different from mine.

What had previously been end-of-expansion nerfs or buffs, what had previously been “last tier of content” stuff, was now hitting my CURRENT normal and heroic raid content.

That’s when it stopped being okay for me.

“We want raids to be more accessible,” Blizzard told us.

Fine, okay, I get it. And then we got LFR. And I thought “hey, there might be a bright side here. ANYONE can see raids through LFR. Now they’ll leave our normals and heroics alone!”

But I was wrong. They continued to nerf the crap out of both normal and heroic Dragon Soul, ultimately reaching a 35% blanket nerf on all encounters.

This was basically my breaking point.

I had started raiding back when it was a pretty punishing hobby. I enjoy many of the quality of life changes we’ve seen since then (don’t get me started on how they’ve now removed cauldrons and made feasts inferior to 300 stat food) and have enjoyed how raiding has absolutely gotten more accessible. However, when I started, people worked and worked to get bosses down. There was nothing on the horizon that was coming soon to help you get over that hump. All you had to work with was your raid team and all you could do was keep bashing your head against the boss, until you suddenly had a breakthrough and got the boss down.

These are the epic moments I remember best. People didn’t rely on just waiting until they became more powerful or the boss became weaker due to some developer tweaks, they worked hard to improve themselves — farming gear, using consumables appropriately, researching their class. Gruul did not just fall over for us one day, he finally died because we realized we needed this thing called “hit rating”. Lady Vashj was over 100 pulls of over 35 different raiders and a variety of strats before we got her down.

That’s the challenge I like, knowing that I am stuck on this boss until I down it, knowing that the boss will behave in exactly the same fashion time and time again until such time as I work out what it is we’re doing wrong.

When Blizzard buffs the players or nerfs the encounters, that changes and it infuriates me. I feel like they’re saying “oh, you aren’t progressing fast enough, so here, let us help” and then they drag that finish line closer to us by about 10 meters. That ruins the kill for me.

Let’s look at when Apotheosis first killed Heroic Ultraxion, shall we?

It was Tuesday, February 28th. We had had a crushing 0% wipe on Heroic Ultraxion on Sunday, the 26th. We had spent pretty much all night on Ultraxion by that point, but because we wanted to clear the rest of the instance that night, we had decided that our last pull on Ultraxion would be around 11pm, leaving us an hour to finish up the rest of the instance on normal. The date is important. Why? Because on Tuesday, February 28th, the 10% nerf to Dragon Soul went into effect. This made a huge impact on our decision for Sunday’s raid. “Well,” we said to ourselves, “if we don’t get it tonight, at least we’ll get it on Tuesday with the nerf.”

That’s my problem. Even though I have serious issues with Blizzard nerfing the instances, I had to take it into account. What was more important to us? To kill Heroic Ultraxion and maybe miss out on Madness loot (which was still a bit new to us) or to ensure a full clear and know, with total certainty, that we would kill Ultraxion on the next reset?

Logistically, it made more sense for our raiders to get new trinkets and weapons from Spine and Madness, so that’s what we did. Had we not had the nerf incoming, I think I would have continued to work on Ultraxion until he died, because that kind of “he will die next reset” certainty wouldn’t have been there.

The very presence of the nerfs altered the way I ran my raid. That isn’t a concession I’m happy to make. I do miss the old days where if you were stuck on a boss, you were stuck on the boss and all you could do was farm previous bosses and improve your own performance to get through it. Now, you just wait for the nerf. Even my raid group did it, although I’m not pleased about it, because it made sense for us at the time.

Of course, not everyone misses those old days of being stuck on a boss for weeks, months at a time. That’s a great segue to my next point. My next post will discuss the disconnect between other people’s thinking and my own as a reason for my deciding to quit.

(As always, please remember there is a comment policy in place. Thanks!)

Raider Time Sinks: Dailies, Cooking, Fishing and More

I’ve been wanting to post this for a few days, now, but felt I really should post now after having read Anafielle’s excellent post, Mists of Farm-daria.

Let’s be super-clear about this: I am no longer a raider. As such, I have a lot of latitude in being able to do what I want to do. But I’m in a raiding guild and I read blogs by raiders and follow many raiders on Twitter. The biggest concern I keep seeing, over and over again, is how much time people are spending doing all the non-raid stuff they feel they “should” do as a responsible raider.

At Level 90, I gather that there are a few dailies a raider “needs” to do for rep with various factions. Here’s what those factions give you:

– Golden Lotus: Tailors and LWs particularly due to the patterns available at honored, plus VP rings at honored. At Revered, Shoulders and Chests become available with VP.

– Klaxxi: Blacksmiths get their plans here at honored. There are also VP necks here at honored. VP legs and belts are available at Revered. Exalted has some blue-quality (ilvl 463) weapons available.

– Shado-Pan: VP cloaks at honored, VP trinkets and helms at Revered.

– August Celestials: Enchanting patterns at Revered, as well as VP boots, gloves and bracers.

Of course, “needing” to do the dailies is a very subjective term. From my perspective, a raider should probably maximize his or her gear in order to perform better in raids. As such, since VP gear is available from ALL of those factions (and I’m not even talking about how you had to earn rep with factions for JUSTICE point gear until recently!), raiders should likely rep up to at least revered with most of these factions.

I feel that a raider should maximize his or her gear within reason. (And bear in mind that my thoughts no longer necessarily reflect the mindset of Apotheosis!) That means I feel that you shouldn’t need to drop 200k on a heroic drop at the Black Market Auction House. It means you shouldn’t need to craft something worth 60k (possible exception for the Darkmoon Faire trinkets).

At the same time, it means that I feel one needs to do LFR weekly for upgrades, rep up for upgrades, cap VP for upgrades.

Not everyone will agree with me. Raiders who fall on the more casual side of things than Apotheosis will think I’m insane. Raiders who fall on the more hardcore side of things than Apotheosis will be more likely to say “of course, duh, PLUS you need to get those BMAH items AND craft all the things”.

The fact remains that in order to improve your performance in a raid, your gear needs to be upgraded. How you do it and how dedicated you are to doing it is all that’s in question.

That brings us to cooking.

In brief, fuck cooking.

I say that as someone who has ALWAYS had at least one max-level cook. In Cataclysm, I had 3 max-level cooks. I own three Chef’s Hats. In short, I enjoy cooking.

Whoever decided to fuck with cooking in this expansion needs a smack upside the head.

Don’t get me wrong, the farm thing is cute. I like being able to grow things. My problems with cooking are not problems with farming, although they are tangentially related. No, my problems with cooking consist primarily of the fact that it takes an incredible amount of materials to max yourself in one single Way of cooking and that unless you max all the Ways, you can’t drop a 275 stat food feast. Plus, 275 stat food feasts aren’t even as good as the 300 stat foods that are single-use! What the eff happened here?

If we look at my personal feelings about gear, doesn’t that mean I think everyone should use personal 300 stat foods? Sure. Until you look at what’s REQUIRED for 300 stat food. Say I want to make the 300 Agility food for Kurn. That’s Sea Mist Rice Noodles.

Ingredients for 5:

– 1 Rice Flour (Ironpaw Token)
– 25 Scallions (farm or 1 Ironpaw Token for 25)
– 5 Tiger Gourami (fishing or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)
– 5 Raw Turtle Meat (farming mobs or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)

At minimum, for a stack (20) of 300 stat food, you’re looking at 4 Ironpaw Tokens, 4 days of farming on a farm that is at least 5 plots, finding 4-5 Tiger Gourami schools and fishing them, possibly two, then killing some turtles for the meat. Or spending 16 Ironpaw Tokens for all the mats. Or mixing and matching and supplementing with the Auction House.

Imagine a typical progression raid guild can wipe 30 times in a single night. You now want at least 30 foods. Add another 2 tokens, minimum, up to another 8. For a single night of raiding.

I’m pretty sure many people will agree with me when I say “fuck THAT right in the ear”.

There are different swaps to be made, of course, something about Bundles of Groceries and trades with Spirits of Harmony and the like, but that’s still pretty rough, particularly the farming of mobs and the fishing up of fish.

Now, I happen to enjoy fishing. Prior to Mists’ launch, I had ALL the fishing achievements. I like it. But a lot of people don’t. And a lot of people may feel pressed into fishing to get that “best food”. Plus, the fact that there are SO MANY ingredients means that the AH is not a great source. There may be hundreds of carrots up, but not hundreds of Tiger Gouramis. Which leads back to tokens or farming/fishing yourself.

Now multiply that by 10 or 25, depending on your raid size. Gah.

So in terms of effort vs. gain, having the guild bank handle banquets is probably your best bet. After all, it’s “only” 25 stats. But, and I don’t know about you, it would drive me crazy not to have the 300 stat food on me. (Have I mentioned I’m glad I’m not raiding? No? I AM VERY GLAD TO NOT BE RAIDING.)

Say you want the 300 stat food and want to rep up with, oh, everything. That is a stupid amount of time investment. Plus, you still may run dungeons and LFR in addition to raiding…

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been doing Golden Lotus dailies, Tiller dailies and Anglers dailies on Kurn. I’m a hunter. Pure DPS. It still takes me ~90 minutes to do all my dailies and tend to my farm. And I’m not even doing Klaxxi dailies because, well, ew, gross. Add in another 20-30 minutes for Klaxxi, then another 20-30 minutes for other factions as they become available and you are looking at 90 minutes to 2 hours for a not-particularly-geared DPS to earn rep EVERY DAY in order to get better gear. God forbid you’re a healer.

Then there’s flasks. Gone are cauldrons entirely. And each flask requires a Golden Lotus. Do you know I haven’t ever PICKED a Golden Lotus on my herbalist? Haven’t seen any. As such, the most reliable method of getting a Golden Lotus is trading in a Spirit of Harmony for three of the herbs. Whee, that’s one night of flasks in my guild, but hey, that doesn’t even include the herbs. Thankfully, the other herbs are only 4 of a single type, in conjunction with the Golden Lotus, so it’s no longer 8 of 2 separate herbs, it’s just 4 of one herb. Feel bad for the Strength users who pay out the wazoo for Fool’s Cap, but anyhow.

This seems as though it’s overkill. In their effort to give more, diverse things for people to do, Blizzard has only succeeded in making a lot of the things “mandatory” for many of the raiders in their game. When, then, do raiders have the time to do Challenge dungeons? Scenarios? Hunt down those rares? Level alts?

Blizzard has, in my opinion, screwed up and needs to rectify certain things ASAP:

– Banquets should be 300 stat food (450 stam for tanks)
– Cauldrons should be re-integrated into the game at a similar cost as last expansion: 3 of each flask (int/str/agi/stam) (I still think we’ll outgrow Spirit flasks, so I don’t think that’s necessary to include in the Cauldrons)
– Cooking should not be quite as brutal in terms of materials required
– Dailies should NOT be taking 90 minutes every single day

And, as was pointed out on Twitter by Rades and Vosskah, why the reversion back to a DAILY heroic dungeon for VP instead of just capping at 7 heroic dungeons a week?

Blizzard has done a lot of things right this expansion (I love a LOT of little things) but these “wrong” things are things that would drive me to quit if I weren’t already planning to do so.

Kurn's First Pandaren Experiences

So, I’ve been in Italy for the last couple of weeks. I left home on Monday, September 24th, landed in Rome at about 10am local time on Tuesday, September 25th. That’s right, I was in Italy for launch. And most of the first couple of weeks. I got back home on Friday, October 5th.

Since I am not planning to raid this expansion and since I am, in fact, probably quitting WoW shortly after my current subscription expires (after the Annual Pass expires), I have not been in a rush to level. I’ve logged on to just about all my toons to get them rested, of course, but I’m just chilling. Kurn just hit 86 last night and I’m, again, in no rush to level more quickly. I’ve been raising professions — all three of my alchemists, my JC, my scribe, plus my herbalist/miner. Poor Kurn’s professions are not very high at the moment (540-550 range) but I’ll get there eventually. (Must make use of the DMF profession things for +5 to various professions.) The biggest issue I’d encountered is that I had, for some reason, never levelled my enchanter on Eldre’Thalas to 525 enchanting. Nope, she was stuck at 450(!) so I had to get her to 475 to start DEing Mists stuff. She’s sitting around 525 enchanting now, I think.

What’s absolutely astounding to me is that, for the first time since Vanilla, I am totally lost when it comes to stuff. People in guild chat are talking about locations and mobs and instances and I am completely lost. I am saving all these cooking ingredients I have because I don’t know what I need to use yet and I don’t know what isn’t needed by me.

Of course, nothing is really “needed” since I’m not raiding, but you get what I mean.

It’s so very strange to take a couple of weeks off and be THIS lost.

At the same time, it’s kind of a good thing, I think.

Anyhow, time to go enjoy myself doing whatever I want (including making a lot of gold). I’m sure I’ll chime in about things once I’ve hit 90 on some toon. In the meantime, you should look at some of the pics I took in Italy:

http://twitpic.com/photos/kurnmogh

x
Keep up to date on Kurn's Guides!