Monday, July 27, 2009

Speed run through Uld10

The guild just can't seem to get that pesky Yogg down in 25man! We do 25mans on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and we also have two groups set up for 10mans that happen throughout the week. While only doing 25mans two nights per week definitely puts my raiding out of "hardcore" in my view we still seem to get quite a bit done in the time we do spend raiding. We've gotten to the point where we can beeline through the keepers and either get to or down Vezax in the first night and then spend the 2nd night either finishing up Vezax or just putting attempts in on Yogg. This has been happening for the past 3-4 weeks and it's just rather disheartening that we are having such trouble just getting past Phase 1 on yogg :(. Us officers are pretty sure the problem is that we just don't have enough people with experience on the Yogg fight.

So this week most of the people who generally run the afternoon Uld10 group waited until Thursday night so we could have a friendly little race against the second Uld10 group that goes at that time. We put 1000g at stake from the guildbank to be awarded to the first team to kill Yogg on that night. I wasn't sure if it could all be done in one night but thought it would be fun to give it a shot.

Amazingly enough my group was able to cruise through with only a few blips on Kologarn (lol) and Vezax before going and 1 shotting Yogg. We finished the instance so fast that after we downed Yogg we went back and swept up the optional bosses just for some S&G's. The combatlog says that our total time logged for the full clear was just over 5 hours but that doesn't take into account the full hour break we took so a few members could grab dinner, lower some gf aggro, etc.

So a 4 hour full clear for all of Ulduar 10, not too shabby in my mind and I think it definately reflects how Blizzard is trying to make new content accessible to more players while attempting to keep the "hardcore" raiders interested as well. While clearing the instance isn't difficult and can be done quite quickly if desired, there are plenty of hardmodes and bonus loot to be had for groups that want to slow it down and challenge themselves. During our race my group did 0 hardmodes, but generally, my 10man group is currently on 3 elder Freya so hopefully we'll be flying around on some rusted protos soon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ghostcrawler Q&A

I was perusing around and I saw that there was a community spotlight on Druids which is basically a question and answer between some dude and Ghostcrawler from the Blizzard staff. Some of the things that were said I found rather interesting.

We are at a little bit of a crossroads with the Tree of Life however. We are currently wondering if druids sacrifice too much just to be as good as a healer as everyone else.
followed by

I’m not saying we would just cut Tree of Life from the game. It’s been around awhile and for better or worse, it’s part of World of Warcraft now. However, we could see taking the druid in a direction where shifting was much more common and easy to do. Maybe you only go into tree form for certain spells but leave for other spells -- this didn’t work previously because of the high cost of shifting, but in the absence of power shifting, we’d love to get rid of the costs completely. Another way to go would be to make Tree of Life form a cooldown, more like Metamorphosis.
I had no idea Blizzard hated ToL so much. The only downside to the form is that it isn't aesthetically pleasing and I can't cast starfire while in Tree form. Besides that I personally don't see any problem with having a specific form to heal in. The ToL hating also seems weird to me since at the very beginning of the Q&A Ghostcrawler mentioned that the most unique thing about druids is our forms. While things aren't going to magically change overnight with Tree of Life it looks like Blizzard is cooking something up in the long haul. Estimated big ass change: 12-15 months.

Here is the most disappointing thing I saw from the Q&A

Tranquility is a fine spell. You can use it in situations where high amounts of damage are coming in on one group. Ultimately, we’d like to get away from the concept of groups within raids, but that’s not super high priority.

False. Just false. Tranquility is NOT a fine spell and it is NOT used in situations where high amounts of damage are coming in on one group. First, the high amounts of damage needs to be the group the druid is in. Second, Rejuv and Wild Growth and Swiftmend allow the druid to gauge who in their group to focus their heals on. Third, Tranquility can ONLY be used in conjunction with Barkskin, otherwise the channel will be reduced and spell will be wasted. Tranquility has so much potential to be good but in its current state it just sucks soooooooooo bad it makes my little tree branches quiver just thinking about it. The changes don't have to be mind blowing either, reduce the cooldown and make it party selectable. End of rant.

What didn't they talk about in their Q&A?
1. Blizzard's inability to make Lifebloom a balanced spell.
2. Nourish is the up and coming star of the Resto tree and with enough buffs (which appear to be 1-2 per major content patch) Druids will become the 4th and final direct healing healer.
3. Regrowth is back to the position of HoT placer on tanks to buff Nourish
4. No mention of Critting HoT's
5. No acknowledgment that we're extremely effective raid healers, perhaps too effective?

I'm sure there are other questions for Ghostcrawler that I'd like answered but morning brain isn't working right now. So a little surprise about ToL and yet another affirmation of disappointment for Tranquility is what i got out of this Q&A with Ghostcrawler about druids.

Here's the link if you want to take a look for yourself:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What's my job?

So most places I look there is the general consensus that Resto Druids are Raid healers, end of story. We have the arsenal of spells, the mobility to heal hard to reach players, and the springy branch arms to get the job done. Since we have the ability to mash rejuv and wild growth until our entire grid screen is a bright Christmas tree of HoTs we must absolutely suck at tank healing. I believe that statement is false. Although we don't have the same amount of life-saving cooldowns (Guardian Spirit, Pain Suppression, Bubble/Sacrifice, Aura Mastery, I probably left some out but I thought of those off the top of my head) as other classes I'd like to think that our HoTs are providing a reasonable buffer as well as multiplier for Nourish to allow us to effectively heal tanks. We do have Nature's Swiftness/Healing Touch but when a tank is being 1 shotted by a boss even the fastest fingers in the west can't NS/HT the tank to life.

I think in terms of versatility Druids are a close 2nd behind Priests. Those silly clothies have 2 specs to pick to heal from and a broader array of healing spells that just makes them a better jack-of-all-healers in my opinion. And while more and more I see that druids are being assigned to the raid healing position I'd like to believe it is because we're the best class for that job, not because we're the worst class for tank healing.

So here's my mission. Over the next few weeks/months I plan on doing some number crunching and theorycrafting on all things Resto in order to verify or challenge some of the assumptions about our healing. I think it will be a fun project and hopefully one I can archive to help all the little trees out there. Now where did my calculator go?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Too much druid love?

This'll be a short post on something I've found interesting lately. Over the past week or so I've reinstalled Warcraft 3 and gotten into playing a few games of DotA per day. I've generally avoided All Random games and whenever I have the chance I'll pick Furion or Enchantress as my heros of choice. While playing one game the realization dawned upon me that both of these characters are very close reslembances to WoW druids. Enchantress for example has a healing spell that summons little wisps and the tooltip button even looks like the Rejuvenation icon. Then my buddy Furion not only shoots green balls of Wrath as his default attack, he summons trees! The only other hero would be that bear dude to bring out the feral in me but such is life. Can there ever be too much druid love?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Cheating.

While the main focus of this blog is dedicated to all things Resto druid, I'd like to chime in on the recent 72 hour ban of the members of Exodus who used an exploit to defeat Yogg Saron +0 keepers. Quite frankly I'm rather upset that blizzard decided to institute a ban on the members of Exodus and removed their achievement of world and server first for the kill. Exodus had all the same tools and skills as every other WoW player and they used those tools and skills in a creative way to defeat a boss that has been calculated to be otherwise mathematically impossible to defeat.

My main points of contention with blizzard are: The exploit used by Exodus was put into the game by Blizzard, Exodus did not have any tools or enhancements that weren't available to all World of Warcraft players, the result of a 72 hour ban is essentially saying that creativity will be punished.

What bothers me the most is that Blizzard decided to punish Exodus for blizzard's own mistake. If they didn't want the guardians aggro into the brain room and evade bug, then they should have programmed them not to go into the brain room and evade. Had this been caught on the PTR or some other testing area, the person who found the bug would not be punished but rather praised for finding such an ingenious exploit. Unfortunately, Blizzard send out the patch as it was with bugs and all and when the bug is used to defeat an encounter, the bug catchers are punished as a result.

Exodus didn't go into Yogg +0 with some godmode stick. Exodus spent hours upon hours wiping and learning and trying and mashing their heads against this wall of an encounter. And they were faced with a problem: how to handle the guardians that spawn in phase 3 and are unable to be killed since there is no Thorim to finish them off at 1%. I'm not a mind reader but the idea of leaving a shadow priest in the Brain room to cause healing threat from Vampiric Embrace and aggro the Guardians into the Brain room to evade bug probably was not the first strategy they attempted. And prior to the hotfix any guild could have done this, not just Exodus. So since they had no extra help or enhancements, the only reason behind the ban is entirely based on the creativity of the members of Exodus.

What is this 72hour ban supposed to mean? Is it supposed to be a warning or deterrent to other guilds to not think creatively and try different boss strategies? Is there supposed to be only one way to defeat an encounter and straying from the path will result in punishment from blizzard? Or is Spock just really upset that Krik was actually able to beat his unwinnable encounter? (Kirk actually cheated to win his scenario though because he did things not available to other Starfleet cadets by changing the scenario's programming). I'm not happy with the message Blizzard is apparently sending to top end progression guilds and their approach to new content. Trying strategies not sanctioned by Blizzard will be punished, and as an extra kicker Blizzard will throw in encounters that are completely unwinnable until they decide to nerf the encounter. No me gusta.

So in the end, don't quit your day job to play WoW for 50-60 hours per week and become one of the top raiders in the world, you might just be punished by the game you so desperately want to beat.

P.S. here's a link to the statement made by Exodus and the video of the shadow priest doing the exploit, my first thought on watching the video was "damn, that's a ton of guardians"
The statement turned into a little bit of a QQ fest and strangely morphed into a "pro-America, Europe sux" statement but whatev.