Catch-22 : The unanswered problems with the proposed LFR Loot System

Ghostcrawler just posted a Dev Watercooler Blog addressing the proposed LFR Loot system for Mists of Pandaria.  A system that was not clearly articulated in the press interviews when it was revealed during the MoP Press event and a subject that has caused much heated discussion in the official forums and other fansites.  While the article does clear up a few questions, in my opinon, the bigger and more troubling questions remain unanswered.

Perhaps Blizzard is not prepared to answer these questions as its still in the design stage and cannot be fulled answered but at the same time, they are answers that need to be answered before the end of beta.  Let’s look at the Loot system more closely after the break.

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To Beta or Not to Beta

MoP Beta Launcher

Unfortunately I have not been invited to the Mists of Pandaria (MoP) Beta; but having signed up for the Annual Pass deal, it’s just a matter of time.  That said, I know several people that have been invited; and if you read your server’s trade chat, it is easy to find plenty of people who have gotten in.  So the question remains: would you, should you, will you participate in the MoP beta?

Some personal thoughts on the subject, after the break…

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Quick Shot – Naked Panda Bears Oh! My!

 

Nude Pandarian Female Model BETA

Quick Shot – A column sharing pictures, screenshots and photos related to WoW.

I saw this amusing screenshot from the Mists of Pandaria Beta on Reddit.  I have always wondered if artists started out with a “naked” character model texture before adding the default undergarments to characters.  I guess now I know.

PS This was also the first image I saw of the red-tail panda model.  Me Likes!

Checking in

Image

Its been a long time since I last wrote anything for this blog, and for that, I am sorry.  It has been a large combination of things, real life, slight burn-out from the game and other factors.  So what have I been up to since I last wrote?

One of the major things was trying out the Star Wars : The Old Republic MMO that came out in December last year. I was feeling burnt out from Cataclysm in post LFR rut where I was just logging in to do the LFR on 10 characters a week.  With the LFR the desire to do 5-mans was diminished, and LFR was a mixed bag with loot frustration and nerdrage from baddies in PVP gear ruining some of the fun.  So I tried one of the SWTOR beta weekends and was pretty hooked with the familiar yet different gaming experience.  I did that for about 3 months and then quit.  My sub doesn’t run out till late April but I felt it was time to go.  It was a worthwhile diversion and I leveled 3 characters in my typically altoholic fashion before I said goodbye.  I think the best part of SWTOR was making me appreciate the little things from WoW.  Something I want to address in a separate post.

I’ve still been active in WoW, working through the current content of Dragon Soul, with 2 characters raiding regularly and the other 8 just tooling around in LFR and doing some 5-mans.  In a lot of ways, the best part of LFR has been the broadening the accessibility of end game content for casual players.  For altoholics like myself this has been a particular boon.

So as we look ahead to the next expansion coming in 3-4 months, I am sure we’ll have lots to talk about.  I want to be more active in this blog so look forward to more posts coming up.  If you missed me or even like the content a little, leave me a comment good or bad.  It’s hard to get motivated when you don’t have any feedback.

Quick Shot – Into the Maelstrom

Quick Shot – A column sharing pictures, screenshots and photos related to WoW.

While I am sure you’ve seen similar screenshots, I think of this as the iconic image for Cataclysm.  That first quest that hits you when you log in as a level 80 on launch day, the cool but too brief cutscene with Thrall at the Maelstrom and this moment at 82 when you meet him and fly into Deepholm.

Ding! – Quick Tips for leveling alts from 80 – 85

Ogre Ambush

Ogre Ambush

Ding! is a column focused on alt leveling tips.  Do it faster the second time around!

With more free time during the holidays, are you starting to level again?  Or perhaps you have leveled your first character through to 85 and want to relax and level a second alt.  Why level a second character?  If you read this blog, you probably already know.  Whether its about leveling a character for a different experience, to level a profession or to see how much faster you can do it a second time.  Whatever the reason, I am here to help you level up quicker the second time.  Lets take a look at some tips after the break…

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Quick Shot – Gnome Bowling in Uldum

Quick Shot – A column sharing pictures, screenshots and photos related to WoW.

One of my favorite quests in Uldum ends with a fantastic vehicle sequence in which you ride a fusion core to “eliminate” infected gnomes.  There is a great Katamari feel to the whole quest and who can resist mowing down tons of gnomes.  It is second only to the gut spliting humor of the previous quest to “hack” the Gibson supercomputer.

Nemain – Hitting 85!

It has been a week since Cataclysm launched and what an awesome week it has been.  I started out leveling my Warrior, Nemain as I had mentioned in the last post and leveling with my Rogue friend hit 85 in four days.  We didn’t rush much and took time to read all the quests text going through.  However, in the chaotic frenzy of the first few days, having a small group to work on kill quests and save your ass with the insane respawn rate made leveling a lot quicker.

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

I really liked how the leveling through questing experience has really been refined this expansion.  The flow from quest to quest is consistent.  There are numerous scripted cutscenes that show rather than tell us how the story progresses and there are a liberal amount of “blue” item rewards peppered throughout the quest chains.  The instant quest complete window that shows when you finish some tasks help to reduce the time needed to go back to the quest giver to turn in the quests.  For some quests like the new Crucible of Carnage chain, the Cataclysm version of Ring of Blood, it prevents a lot of the anguish of not completing the quest before the next round begins.

There is also a nice ramp up in normal creature difficulty which builds a foundation for dungeon grouping.  From the start at 80, the health pools of the creatures triple from the 10.6k health from Icecrown mobs to about 30k.  This truly lets you work more of a rotation in before they fall over.  By the end gear levels in WOTLK, even heroic dungeon mobs were dropping like flies, giving the game an almost Diablo 2 zerg mentality.  By the time you hit Deepholm at 82-83 mobs start using abilities that were previously exclusive to dungeon bosses.  you’ll see mobs that use void zones, spells that should be interrupted, and spells that can be avoided by moving.  All important for the dungeons.

Naga Visions Chain

Naga Visions Chain

Speaking of dungeons, they are now much harder.  No more watching the Daily Show on the second monitor while you faceroll heroics.  Forget heroics, even the new dungeons are challenging.  All of the creatures have deadly abilities to be aware of.  The general rule of thumb is this; If your class can use crowd control, you need to know what it can be used on and have them on your action bar in a easy to use spot or if you can find the place for it, keybinded.  If there is a spell with a long cast time (more than 2 secs) that can be interrupted, interrupt it if you can.  In most cases, the longer the cast time, the worse its going to be when it gets off.  Finally, if you see pools of stuff on the floor don’t let the mobs stand on it and if its on fire, you should get off it too.

In what must be training for raiding, dungeon bosses are more complicated than ever and in lieu of voice communication requires everyone to know the fight mechanics and some planning.  A sure sign of a bad group is one in which the tank just charges into the boss without a ready check and the dps charges pass him after the first taunt on the boss.  Most bosses use modified mechanics from WOTLK raid bosses, so veteran raiders will have an advantage.  For example, General Umbriss from Grim Batol uses Blitz, an attack similar to Icehowl’s charge attack from the Argent Tournament.  They also use new unusual mechanics like needing to position yourself up wind of Altairus the new dragon boss in Vortex Pinnacle.  The key to learning the dungeons is to read up on them on other websites and also to check your combat log when you die to figure out what killed you.  If WOTLK was defined by the mantra, “stay out of the fire”, Cataclysm is going to be the expansion of “stay out of the fire that follows you.”

Ragnaros Awaits...

Ragnaros Awaits...

So finally at 85 what is there left to do?  Lots!  There is a great sense of elation upon hitting 85.  But its also like climbing to the top of a long flight of stairs to see a huge chasm with another flight of stairs beyond it.  Unlike what many experienced in Wrath, hitting the terminal level does not mean its time to start doing heroics, rather, you’ll need to gear up in regular dungeons to get your gear up to snuff before doing heroics.  As a consequence of the new stat system, it has never been clearer how much better or worse an item is.  Items of the same level with have identical primary stats.  So if you are a warrior like I am, any blue level quality 333 ilevel chest will have the same amount of strength and stamina.  The only variation will be which two secondary stats are included from the list of critical strike rating, hit rating, expertise rating, haste rating and the new boy in town, mastery rating.  You’ll notice your health climbing rapidly as you replace your precious purples from WOTLK.

Level 80 gear will match ilvl 251 gear for stats if you have epic gems and enchants.  Once you get to level 82 greens, they will completely overshadow 2264 gear from ICC 25.  They only reason to keep those would be for an awesome 2-piece set bonus.  By level 83 greens you’ll want to switch, mainly for the raw increase in primary stats. you’ll start having 50-60k of health by this point and it only goes up.  A fresh 80 in quest greens and blues will have about 80-90k health and when you are ready for heroics, 100k and more.  This applies for dps and healer classes too, not just tanks.  Even with this massive stat and corresponding health increase, you will notice your dps drop as you level.  This is painfully true for Fury Warriors.  The stat formula changes each time you level, requiring larger and larger amounts of the secondary stats like hit, crit and haste to give the same percentage increase in accuracy, critical hit chance and speed they once provided.  As a fury warrior it amounts to about 5-6% hit lost per level if you do not increase your hit rating.  It is a noticeable lost of rage generation.  Basically with upgrades, you will hit harder, but hit and crit far less often.  If you use a dps meter, it means your dps stays mostly the same or for warriors, slighty lower than what you were doing at 80.

So sitting at level 85 now, I am slowing down slighty, taking time to level my professions, do the dailies for reputation and finish questing in Twilight Highlands.

PS.  The picture above comes from standing in the fire in Twilight Highlands for the Deathwing achievement.

PSS.  Amusingly I hit 85 doing the uncovering the conspiracy quest in Stormwind as part of the chain for the call to arms to Twilight Highlands.

Cataclysm is Here!

Cataclysm is finally here.  Its also my 100th post on this blog.  When the changes go live, my plan is to log in and start working on Nemain again as my main character for Cataclysm.  She’s logged out at Ebonhold and will start off by turning in the 22 daily quests I have saved for a bit of an xp boost and then learn all my new profession levels.  Finally I’ll hearth back to Stormwind to learn Azeroth flying and then discover the Blackrock Caverns entrance so I can queue for it in the LFD Tool.  Then its a quick decision of whether to start off in Vashj’ir or Mount Hyjal.  I am leaning towards Vashj’ir as it seems everyone on my server is going to Mount Hyjal.