Monday, December 29, 2008

Loremaster takes a long time

... especially if you're a rerolled character.

But, it's finally done, I have the achievement and I'm so glad. I'm far too stubborn to let something like that go; I couldn't leave it with 50 quests left - I had to finish it. Along the way I finally got attuned for Onyxia, got my UBRS key, Keymaster achievement, and my Maraudon scepter. I got the achievement for 3000 quests, too.

Kalimdor is HARD. Especially hard, as mentioned, if you're a rerolled character. I had none of my Brood or Hydraxian rep to help me, none of my old quest chains completed. At least, I suppose, I knew the quests and could remember where to go for each.. but after levelling 6 or so characters through Azeroth it can become difficult to remember whether I picked up that yeti fur that starts a quest, and how many of the suicidal metal chickens I escorted through Feralas, Tanaris and the Hinterlands.

Still, I got there in the end.. and I never want to do that ever ever again!

For those of you who do, though, here are some tips.

1. This thread is extremely valuable. It will prompt and prod you to recall all of the tiny, out of the way, obscure quests that you may have missed, or ones you were never aware of. When you get down to your last 50 or so, and you're starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel, this will be a life saver.

2. Do Eastern Kingdoms first. EK is much easier than Kalimdor, and many of the EK quest chains lead to Kalimdor. If you do EK first, you're more likely to pick up extra Kalimdor quests.

3. You may need to do multiple sweeps - sometimes completing quests will open up quests elsewhere.

4. Don't forget to turn your low-level quest tracking on!

5. Use your Wowhead filters to check all available quests per zone. For example, here's Azuremyst Isle. Then for each zone you can sort by faction to see if you have missed any quests.

6. Don't forget new hubs - have you visited Mudsprocket yet? Turns out I had missed these quests (Keeva was past them when they were released) but I thought I had done them because I remember them - must have been on my hunter/mage/other druid, though. Don't trust your memory, go back and check.

7. Wowhead is your friend. Many quests don't seem to count - comments will tell you if they definitely don't. These comments can save you a lot of time, travelling and disappointment. Some dungeon quests count and some don't - for example, in Dire Maul, the Broken Trap quest doesn't count, but the Ogre Suit one does (and they are almost identical), and this is where Wowhead can really save you a lot of frustration and wasted time.

8. Also, long quest chains may count for one continent and then swap to another. The heading in your quest log will tell you what the quest should count towards. Eg a quest might start in Orgrimmar, but be listed as "Eastern Plaguelands" in your log. In this case, it will count towards EK because it is listed as EPL, not Orgrimmar.

9. The Tier 0.5 quest line is worth about 8 quests, and begins with the blue bracers appropriate to your class (eg Wildheart Bracers). The quests start in the king's room in Ironforge or Thrall's chambers in Orgrimmar, and in total you will need the bracers, gloves and belt - which are all BOE. Try searching on your auction house. A lot of travelling is involved in this line, but 8 credits is a lot when you're getting to the end of Kalimdor. Once it gets to the Stratholme part, though, it no longer counts for Kalimdor - just a heads up.

Also, remember that in patch 3.0.8 the number of quests for the Kalimdor achievement is being lowered by 30, and some adjustments will be made, so your number may change slightly (I gained 1 extra quest on the PTR).

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Super quick reminder

I'm off to eat, drink, and be merry and such. Have a safe holiday, everyone! <3

(and please recycle your cards and paper, the trees will love you for it)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sartharion +3 down

This is a crazy, crazy fight. Add in a MT death late in the attempt and a quick pickup by a feral tank.. just nuts. Lots of learning and re-learning, tweaking strategies, and so many wipes to random bad luck.. but we got there in the end. Good job Inexorable! Well-deserved.

And congratulations to Stomp on the server's first Reins of the Twilight Drake!

Dear Greatfather Winter,

This year I have been a very good druid. I've stopped to save people in trouble (Alliance included). I farm up extra food for my friends. I never steal nodes or kills, and I let people join my group if they need a hand killing something. The other day, while I was looking for Loremaster quests in Tanaris, I let a lowbie trail around behind me looting all of my many pirate corpses for his 20 pirate hats (remember how long that quest took at the appropriate level?). That's gotta be worth a whole bunch of brownie points with you, right?

If I come across other Hordies out in the world, I always buff them and toss them a heal if they need it. I craft things for people for free, no tip. I HoT warlocks when they tap, innervate priests during chain-pulls on trash, and I heal and rez hunter pets. I always /tickle Moonkins that I meet, and I don't gank flagged lowbies. I let Alliance people fish in Orgrimmar, too.

I don't spam Wild Growth. I try really hard not to stand in fire, and I don't throw Baby Spice at bosses even though it's REALLY tempting to do it.

I think it's clear that I deserve a great big pile o' fat lewtz for being so good.

So... here goes!

- New feral skins & hair styles
- Imp Barkskin that I can cast on other people!
- a pretty dress for my collection
- more bank space
- raptor mounts
- a buff to Replenish and a revamp for Nourish
- a new fishing pole
- Tuskarr as a playable race!
- healer weapons with graphics that make you go "ooh"
- polearms
- the recipe for Fish Feast
- change to the Northern Spices system
- credit for all of the Kalimdor quests I've done



Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AMG! Best buff ever!

No, I'm not being sarcastic, this is something I have wanted for a long, long time, and I whine about it often.

From the EU forums:
- Polearms: Now trainable by Druids.

YAY!!!!!!!! My farmer outfit will finally be complete! I can use my Pitchfork with my overalls and hat!

What can I say.. I like my town sets.

(also, Lumberjack Shirts + polearms + farmer hats... WIN.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Brain dump on smart heals and why I hate them already

I love the quests and the scenery and the music of this expansion, but I am feeling more and more disappointed and concerned with the direction healing is taking. I feel like they are dumbing things down for people who don't have the reflexes to heal, and I can't help wondering whether things will improve or worsen.

Did they give us smart heals so we could spend more time watching the fight? I have to be honest, I'd rather have a challenging fight that I barely get to watch than have the game pick my targets for me while I watch an entertaining show.

I want to manage my healing and my targets more, not less. I want to feel as though my healing comes from skill, not because the computer chose the target with the greatest health deficit.

Remember old Decursive, that they broke because it chose the correct target to cleanse? They didn't want mods making decisions for you.

...wait a sec..

I heal because it can be stressful and challenging, and at the end of a fight you feel like you really pulled it together for your team. Everyone is important in a raid, but really, the group begins and ends with its healers. If you have great healers, you're set. I enjoy being one of those healers that people can depend on because they know I'm good at what I do.

If the game is choosing my targets, where is the challenge? If we can stand in one spot and cast a heal on ourselves/the MT/the boss and have heals splash on whoever needs a heal the most, where on earth is the challenge and the skill there? We've gone from whack-a-mole (which at least required you to watch what you were doing) to shooting fish in a barrel. With dynamite.

I just feel bitter at the moment because I feel that they are making it easy for bad healers to do okay because they don't have to think... which in turn completely cheapens the efforts of those of us who actually put in a lot of effort to be good players.

I really strive to be a good player, and when they allow people to heal without needing to think, it makes me feel very frustrated.

Blizzard keeps saying that AoE damage is there to challenge the healers - yet give us spells that remove any and all challenge. Then the next logical step is to stop us from using those ezmode heals too often. But will nerfing these smart heals (by adding a cooldown) fix the problem? I don't think so. I think people will be able to use them less, but it doesn't change the fact that they can still stand there with themselves targeted and have the game choose the right targets (provided of course the group is bunched up, which, oftentimes it is).

Leave the damage in place. Make WG and CoH bounce off the target's party (and don't give me that rubbish about the raid not wanting to take Hunter #3 because they didn't "fit" into a group for CoH). That will force more decision-making.

Druids everywhere will probably cringe when I say this, but maybe there should be a 1.5s cast time (or similar) rather than a 6 second cooldown. We have plenty of things we can do on the run, and other healers don't - perhaps part of the problem with WG is that we can do it on the move. If we had to stand still for a second, it would lower the amount we could "spam" on fights where we have to move. The other healers are losing healing uptime because they have to run, stop, and start casting again. Making it a 1.5sec cast would also mean that people can't just "draw circles on Grid" while spamming an instant cast.

I would just love to see the intelligent part of the spells ditched. Smart heals are making people into bad, lazy, unskilled healers by letting them blindly hit spells (whether on a cooldown or not) without having to think or aim or care... while the good healers out there wonder where the challenge and skill has gone.


WG nerf: where are the crazy parses?

The CoH and WG nerf. As far as we all know, it's still coming, even though lots of people have posted on the healing forums to say that they're just not seeing the crazy numbers claimed in beta.

Last night we did a full clear of Naxx. Now, in the interests of science, I was doing everything I could to snipe heals with WG to see if I could get anywhere near the 90% that I believe was quoted in beta. I was basically healing anyone and everyone (while doing my job, obviously, I don't jeopardise my raid to experiment), and looking for any opportunity to get more heals in with WG. It's not easy to pre-cast with WG because it tends to reapply itself to the same people if everyone is at full health (which is a waste), but I was in super aggressive mode and trying anything. I don't usually play to the meters but I was doing everything I possibly could to try to push massive WG numbers.

The result?

1. Priest: 18% effective healing (17% bosses only)
2. Keeva: 17% effective healing (16% bosses only)

Here's the breakdown of my healing:

44% WG (34% bosses only)
20% LB (26% bosses only)
17% Rejuv (18% bosses only)
13% Regrowth (14% bosses only)
3% Swiftmend (4% bosses only)
1% Nourish (2% bosses only) (mostly boredom)

Only 44% of my healing over the entire night, trash included, was from Wild Growth, despite doing everything in my power to use it whenever I could, almost to the point of abuse. And on boss fights it made up only 34% of my healing, with my other HoTs doing respectable healing. Normally, when I'm not deliberately being a bad healer, WG is in 3rd or 4th place behind my other HoTs.

So why are they still going to nerf it? 30-40% healing from one spell hardly constitutes "spamming" or overuse. My WG use normally falls between 25% and 35%, unless I am going out of my way to overuse it (and it's hard work to do that!). I have to wonder what would happen if our parses suddenly showed 45% Regrowth, or 45% Nourish - is that too much from one spell?

Don't get me wrong, if a spell is OP, I don't mind them tweaking it. I enjoy casting a bunch of different spells, and to be honest, a nerf in the form of a cooldown won't affect me *too* much. It's more the principle - why nerf something when the numbers aren't being reproduced?

When the possible cooldown was announced, I didn't mind the idea so much, and I even posted to say I was satisfied with it over a nerf to throughput or an increased cost - but the reason I was so accepting was that according to the information coming from beta Naxx, WG was doing some crazy healing. I don't mind them tweaking my abilities if they really are being overused. But now - in live - where are these 90% WG parses to warrant nerfing the spell?

I wish there was more transparency, that we could see the data they are basing their decisions on. GC has said he has spoken to some a bunch of skilled raiding druids, but we still don't know where they are getting any numbers from, how large the sample size is, and a bunch of other variables like healer composition, assignments, gear.

If the nerf is inevitable, we will all adjust, certainly. I would just love to know where the actual, objective, numerical data is coming from, so that we know it's not just anecdotal evidence from a small number of raiders.

If we could just see some numerical "proof", something to substantiate these claims that WG is OP and being "spammed", then I know that a nerf would be easier to swallow. At the moment though, I'm still very curious to see something more compelling than old beta data and GC saying that "some druids told us they use it a lot."