Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Black sheep resto talents - and why you shouldn't (necessarily) write them off

It seems black and white with most talents.

This talent is good; this one is useless - don't even think of picking that up. Good talents, garbage talents. Take these talents. If you pick that one up, you're terrible. This one is mandatory; that one is a waste of points. Straight down the line. Simple.


If you take this talent, you're a bad druid.

Many people will categorically state a number of our talents to be "useless" or "terrible" for raiding. I'd like to talk about why I think it is a mistake to take these kind of statements as gospel. Most often they will be quite correct; but it's important that you make your own judgments and not just follow blindly the statements of others.
It is all too easy to rubber stamp an ability as "useless" because everyone says so - without considering and exploring the possibilities of how it might actually be an asset to your healing..

..or to another player, whose playstyle and content level do not match your own.

Now, obviously, many WoW blogs that set out to teach their respective classes are aiming at the raiding level of players, so most statements will be made with that in mind. If they state that a particular ability is bad, you can usually tack "..for PvE raiding" onto the end of the statement. And if you're getting your info from a knowledgeable and trusted site, then they're likely to know what they're talking about.

But I will always try to frame my statements and advice as "here's how I do it" rather than "here is the best way to do it, period." I prefer to give people options, rather than dictate what is right and what is wrong. Give them the pros and cons, and let them apply that to their own situation, and make up their own minds.


Be open to new ideas

As players, I think it's important to avoid developing long-term biases towards our talents and spells. Not only can this cause a lot of heartache and frustration if those talents and spells are changed, but it also makes you blind to the possibilities that some talents may give you for different encounters. I'm not here to force anyone to change their ideas; but I myself have changed the way I look at certain things, and it really opens your eyes to new strategies, styles, rotations, and gives you more ideas for how to adapt in particular situations. Abilities once labelled "garbage" might actually be incredibly useful if you open your mind to the possibility that they might not actually be ignored by default.
Remember when Regrowth was "bad" (expensive/ineffective/etc) and only bad healers used it (much)... and then with talent and encounter changes, suddenly it was THE go-to spell?

Remember when Rank 4 Healing Touch was almost our sole heal (until HoTs could stack)? Healing Touch all day? For many people it is now just an occasional clutch heal - and a running joke in my old guild. Doesn't get much airtime anymore, the old Healing Touch.

Remember when Lifebloom was so amazing, then it was nerfed, and changed in such a way that people had to change how it was used, and many even stopped using it altogether?

The point is that things are always changing; a talent that might have been considered useless 6 months ago might suddenly become super amazing after a patch, or extremely helpful for hard modes. Don't become too set in your opinion on what's terrible and what's good.. because changes to talents (or to gameplay and fights themselves, or the introduction of new content) may find it very hard to accept that you need to dust those spells and abilities off.

But as raiders - especially hard mode raiders - you should also be careful not to dismiss something as terrible; it might actually be awful for most fights, but incredibly powerful on one particular hard mode. You may think, as a min-max hardcore raider, that the widely-accepted cookie cutter builds are the best you can get - but you never know when something once labelled a waste of points will turn out to be valuable.

Keep an open mind, basically.


The pie is a lie (sometimes)

In particular I believe that it is far too easy for us to get caught up in meters, spell breakdowns and Recount pie graphs when deciding whether an ability is good or bad. It just doesn't work like that. We're not DPS classes; we can't just look at a spell, see that we cast it X times and got 7000hps out of it, and decide it's our best spell. A spell cast only a few times per fight may be just as crucial in downing that boss, but look terrible on paper because we only got 10k total healing out of it for the entire night.

It's important to look at all of the facts, and yes, meters and reports ARE important. But numbers aren't everything - and you should never simply look at a pie graph and decide that the smallest sliver represents a terrible ability. It just doesn't work that way. It's important to examine things from all angles.


Trash or treasure?

So let's talk about the black sheep talents that people are always beating on. I'm not talking about weighing up whether to drop a point in GotEM now that you have XYZ haste and a boomkin in every raid, or whether or not Nature's Grace will make you clip your Nourishes. I'm talking about talents that, at some point in their life, have been labelled "garbage".



Are they really terrible?
Should you give them a wide berth? Are they useless for everyone? Or do they have some merit?


Improved Tranquility



When I first hit 80, Keeva had 2/2 Imp Tranquility, despite the fact that most people said it was rubbish. Why? Because I was doing heroics, lots of heroics, and having a 4 minute CD Tranquility at my beck and call was sooooooo good.

But as I moved into raiding, it became less valuable, and rarely used.

The thing to remember about Tranquility is that it is usually most valuable for smaller groups, and least valuable in large raids. In a 5 man group, it heals every person (in range). The whole group, all at once. In a 10 man, it heals half the raid - still pretty great, and I would consider having Imp Tranquility if I was mostly doing 10 mans. In a 25 man though, it only heals 20% of the raid (at best), and since 25man raids often have people spread all over the place, its effectiveness is reduced even further. There are just fewer times that Tranquility (even if you DID have it on a 4 minute cooldown) is useful, in a 25 man raid setting.

But it's definitely NOT a garbage talent - if you spend more of your time in 5 and 10 man dungeons it can be really great. Definitely do not write this talent off if you are a more casual player and you mostly run in smaller groups.


Tranquil Spirit



Tranquil spirit reduces the mana cost of your Healing Touch, Nourish and Tranquility spells. Previously it only affected HT and Tranquility, so it was seen as a pretty bad talent (because HT and Tranquility are used rarely, therefore there was no real need to pour 5 points in to save mana). Now though, it also affects Nourish, and as more people are now using Nourish, it is better value.

Obviously, the more you use Nourish (and HT/Tranquility), the better the investment. But before you decide to invest 5 points in it because you're a tank healer and it makes sense - stop and ask yourself if you are having mana troubles first. It's kinda like "stacking" regen on your gear - you want enough regen to get you through the fight reliably - and not much more than that, or it's a waste. If you're not having mana problems, why would you need to invest 5 points in a mana-saving ability?

Also consider the encounters and your usual assignments. Your mileage may vary - particularly as you move into hard modes. Do the fights require lots of Nourishes? How does your usual assignment affect this? In the end, the question is - How much economy will I get out of these 5 points? Do I need a mana discount, or can I get by without it?

Now, I'm not saying this is a rubbish talent, not at all. If you are using these spells a lot, then it can be great. Just don't blindly say, "I use Nourish a lot so I should take this talent." This talent is basically only useful if you find that you need to save mana - otherwise it is poor to useless. Examine whether you need the mana savings first, or whether those 5 points (or some of them) may be more valuable placed elsewhere.


Natural Perfection



NP is generally seen as a PvP talent, and I think it's a pretty fair call. It is one of the talents that I would put at the bottom of my list of priorities.

Some people will argue that crit is more valuable to us now that we use more direct spells, which is true; and that it goes on to benefit us through other talent synergy, for example Living Seed and Nature's Grace, but unfortunately it is still of limited value - we are still first and foremost HoT healers, meaning that the majority of our healing does not benefit from our crit rating. Obviously, the more direct healing you do, the more you'll get out of your crit rating, but it is still towards the bottom of the list of our stat priorities, and 3 points is quite expensive for 3% crit.

BUT - Blizzard wants crit to be more useful for us as resto druids. There may be changes on the horizon that may make this talent more useful for PvE raiding. Sometime. Something. We're not sure. All we know is that they've said they want crit to be better for us.

For now, I treat this one as more of a "I have a point left over, 1% crit is better than an empty talent slot" kind of talent. I don't think it's BAD.. but I think there are better places to put your leftover points.

Future patches may dictate whether this talent becomes more attractive for us for PvE raiding.


Revitalize



The Revitalize rollercoaster. It's great. It's awful. It's broken. It's sex on a stick. It's garbage.

It's hard to keep up!

Certainly it's a better talent now that A) it's not bugged, and B) it also procs off your WG ticks. Team it up with the Wild Growth glyph to hit up to 6 people, and it really increases those procs, particularly if you are a dedicated raid healer. Remember, too, that it will return power to your target even if they are at full health and the HoT tick is counted as overheal.

The problem though is that far too many people simply compare it directly with other mana replenishment abilities. They size it up next to Replenishment and decide that it's terrible. The strength of Replenishment will dwarf Revitalize, true, but I think it's a mistake to just put them side by side.
Things to remember:
- It isn't overwritten by Replenishment - you can benefit from both, you know!
- Revitalize isn't just for mana users; it helps your melee boost their DPS through extra rage, energy, and runic power
- Smaller raids and guilds may not have the luxury of a Ret pally (etc)

Now, if you're usually on the tank, and you tend not to throw many raid heals around, Revitalize will probably be a waste of points for you. On the other hand, if you are more of a raid healer, you (and your raid) will benefit much more. It's not a constant pulse of power return, because it still relies on you to cast the spells, and then for the procs to happen - but if you're a raid healer you will likely have Rejuv and Wildgrowth on most of the raid a lot of the time, and there will be a fairly good return from it. Add the WG glyph, toss on the melee, and they will love you.

If you really can't spare the points, then you'll get by without Revitalize. The raid probably doesn't need it to succeed. But I enjoy being a utility/support class, and bringing abilities and talents that can benefit others in the raid (outside of me just keeping them healed).

As usual, I don't have numbers for you, but Dreambound has a great writeup from last week showing returns for different classes over the course of a raid night. Have a look, and hopefully it will give you a more practical view of how well it works. Usual disclaimer: your mileage may vary according to content and raid makeup.


Improved Barkskin



I wanted to give this one a quick mention. It is clearly directed at PvP, but it's a good example of unconventional talents that you just might find very useful for particular encounters.

In this case, I know that some high-end raiding druids are starting to use this for some hard modes, because they are finding the extra mitigation to be invaluable on high-damage fights. The less you have to worry about damage on yourself, the more you can concentrate on keeping the raid up.

This is a perfect example of why you shouldn't be too quick to label a talent as bad for PvE. It definitely has limited value most of the time - but shines in a few fights. Worth keeping in mind!


Living Seed



Many people don't really understand the value of this talent, to be honest. I see so many people spitting on it and saying it's useless.
It really drives me nuts when I see people whip out a chart or report and say something like, "Living Seed only made up 3% of my total healing for the night! It's terrible!"

You can't just look at it like that.

Druids don't have any "buffer" abilities. We don't have shields or anything we can put onto a tank to help reduce damage taken (as much as I have campaigned for a barkskin we can cast on others). Aside from HoTs ticking, this is our only buffer ability, such as it is.

Now, it's still probably not going to make up much of your healing "pie". It's never going to look very good when you size it up next to the numbers from Rejuv, Regrowth, Nourish, etc. But then, neither is Swiftmend, for example - but the majority of druids know how great Swiftmend can be in a clutch situation. It doesn't matter that it doesn't look very big on paper - but if you are in a tank healing situation, particularly where the tank is taking big, fast hits, then it can save them. Most people (I say most because I am aware of some druids who don't take Swiftmend) wouldn't toss Swiftmend out of their spec because it only made up a small proportion of their healing on the night. I believe it is the same with Living Seed.


Living Seed: A talent that only worked a measly 3% of the time,
or a spell that may have saved my tank a number of times tonight?

I compare it to Glyph of Rejuv. Pretty crappy on a whole lot of fights, but then simply amazing when the job calls for a bunch of Rejuvs on a whole lot of people who have low health for extended periods. Living Seed is mediocre-to-useless if you're a raid healer; but if you're a tank healer on a fight where he's taking chunky, sustained damage.. that's when it shines, because it has the potential to save that tank over and again. It may not do much in the way of total healed, but how many times is it going to help save your tank?

You have to weigh up how much tank healing you're going to be doing, and whether or not those buffer heals are going to make a difference *at the time*. I remember back learning Sarth3D and it I would watch 5K Living Seeds land on the main tank when he was very low on health, and it was a huge relief to have 5K "free" heals backing me up (and that was in Naxx gear - the seeds are going to be even bigger as we progress through content).

It's not how much healing it does on paper at the end of the day, it's whether that healing is enough to smooth the damage and get your tank through whatever hardmode it is that you're learning (or whatever). Are you going to be assigned in a way that will have you chain-casting direct heals on someone who is taking lots of damage? Or will you be healing raid members who won't usually be hit twice in the space of 15 seconds?

Like everything else, you need to weigh up whether those 3 points are worth investing, based on how much direct healing you'll tend to be doing, and whether or not that could potentially make or break the fight/s for you.



In conclusion

Throw out the pie (well, mostly) and consider the encounters themselves. Deep in resto we do have a number of talents that are situational - and each person will get different mileage out of those talents according to the raid content, their guild, the number and type of healers in your team, assignments, the tanks' gear levels, etc. If you look at all of these variables and still don't see much benefit in that talent, for YOU, then toss it and grab something else, absolutely. Just remember that numbers aren't always everything and you can't simply look at a graph and say "this spell is useless".

Remember that many blogs and resource sites are going to be dictating the best choices for min/max hardcore raiders. You need to consider whether this actually fits you, your guild, your raid size, and the level of content you are tackling.

Don't write things off permanently as garbage - they may turn out to be extremely useful down the track. A talent may be less useful for your current content and style, and you may get better economy and results out of investing your points into something else. But sometimes the bad PvE talents can be very useful (for example, the druids using Imp Barkskin for hardmodes)


A small disclaimer to round things out

I'm not here to tell you how to play.

I'm not trying to sell you on talents that are generally considered bad, or uneconomical. I'm not telling you to go invent some crazy unconventional spec and try to force it to work for you.

I do hope people understand the intent!

MOST of the time, cookie cutter builds and most talent advice will be sound. They will be the best route to take (especially if you min/max). I'd just like to urge people to keep an open mind, consider your personal circumstances, and don't write the "bad" talents off permanently.. because they can be useful.

Perhaps not most of the time, and not for min/maxers.. but they're not all entirely useless. Not always, not for everyone.

Spring cleaning

I tidied up my side bar a little, and added a chatbox. Feel free to use it to say hi, leave a message, or ask questions!

(This is about as close as I'll get to Twitter)

I condensed a few things that I had at the side, to make it tidier. Moved a few things around, too. I think it's in a more logical order now.

Then I realised I'm missing a couple of blog banners - how have I gone this long without a link to Restokin there? I feel so bad. I can't list ALL of the blogs I read, but I do like to list my particular favourites. I need to look at my blog list and see if I've missed anyone else that should be bannerized! My "blogroll" (such as it is) needs to be updated.

I'd like to shift to WordPress (and my own space) so that I can have more freedom with the layout - I really loved putting together my guild's website - but A) I'm kinda lazy and B) I wouldn't have a clue where to start. Blogger is really great.. but I do like having full control of how things look :P Wordpress also has shiny gadgets like Armory info and latest achievements.

Not only that, but I'd love the ability to have "pages", so I don't have to shove a lot of info into a side bar. I could have tabs! Wonderful tabs. About, contact, guides, all that stuff. I'm sure a lot of bloggers would understand when I say that as your blog gets older and bigger, it starts to get a little unwieldy if you don't have a place to put your static information, separate to your day-to-day musings. Guides, etc, would be what I would really want to put into a static page, so they don't become "lost" in the archives, or end up becoming a long, long list in your side bar.

I'd really like tabs and pages. And to be able to have better control over the layout. And maybe those cool "featured article" type banners.

Maybe a project for sometime a little later.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Half gnome, half bird, all wrong

This is not a trick picture.

In Icecrown, Frazzle Geargrinder will give you a daily quest to use her Jump Bot to jump all the way to the highest point of a nearby mountain, and then plant a flag (Alliance or Horde flavoured, depending on your persuasion).

Along with having a whole lot of bouncy fun, I also got a cute surprise when I tried to shift to birdy form to go back down the mountain. Now, as we know from most other vehicles, shifting doesn't usually work. It just spits back an error message that you "can't do that right now" or similar. I always do it anyway.. mostly out of habit.

But this time, I found that it did work.

Well, almost.



I couldn't fly (much to my extreme disappointment), but oddly my shadow took on aspects of my forms when shifting. Cat form gave me a tail (*shudder*), bear form large paws, etc.

Cute? Disturbing? I can't quite make up my mind. The shadow makes me think of the winged monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, or something. Gives me the willies!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Healbot v Grid (final) - better late than never!

Disclaimer: this writeup comes from experimenting with Grid and Healbot earlier this year (up to about March). If there have been improvements since then, they will not have been included in this post. If you know of a particular improvement that has since implemented, please let me know and I will edit in a comment to reflect the change. For example, if I say that Grid doesn't let you put your tanks together, and you know that there has been a change or a new module to change this, let me know and I'll include it.

However, with the many features constantly being added and improved upon, it would be too much work for me to keep updating the post as each addon evolves. Much like my "How to get 50 mounts before WotLK" it will be fairly static; it won't be a dynamic, evolving "guide", but a comparison of the addons in their current forms.

(This is basically to prevent comments in 3 months' time telling me I'm wrong because Grid CAN do XYZ and Healbot CAN do XYZ... which I bet will still happen!)

Also, once again - these are my personal opinions of the various features and drawbacks of each addon. I have endeavoured to be as fair and objective as possible. Please do not take any negative criticisms against your preferred addon as an insult to you and your choice! Any nasty comments will be deleted. Feel free to disagree - but be constructive, please.

Also, I'm going to have to say it before I hit post: Yes, I do know about VuhDo and I may give it a try sometime - I just haven't had time to have a look. :P




So - in the category of:

"Out of the box" functionality
WINNER: Healbot

Out of the box functionality - meaning how quickly after installing the mod you can jump into healing with it - is a huge factor for many people when deciding between different addons. Many people are happy to spend hours tweaking their UI to be perfect, but others prefer to hit the ground running with addons that are ready to go as soon as they are installed. You can have the most super awesome mod in the universe, but if the default looks terrible and it's difficult to set up, then many people will steer clear.

It's very cut and dried between the two addons in this case: for a healer, Grid has limited functionality out of the box - at the very least you will need to change the size of the boxes to be able to fit names properly and see health information. Fine for DPS/cleansing classes, but not good for healers. In fact, I think the addon would benefit greatly if the author was to add a couple of pre-packaged layout frameworks, one for DPS (similar to the current default) and one for healers, with the bar-like format that many healers prefer. This would make it much easier for healers to use "out of the box", and prevent a lot of people from being scared off by Grid's overwhelming customisation options.


Healers need to tweak Grid a fair bit in order to have an easy-to-read frame display.


On the other hand, Healbot comes out of the box looking pretty darn shiny; and while there are a bunch of things that I personally would want to adjust to suit my own personal style (can't stand the way it fades bars - I only like faded bars for people who are out of range), I could easily use Healbot in its default state and do a respectable job. I wouldn't be able to do the same with Grid in its default state.


Healbot's appearance when you first unpack it, showing tooltip



Customisation
WINNER: Grid

Grid wins in this category, but not by as great a margin as most diehard Grid users might think.

Grid does have options that Healbot doesn't, for example corner dot indicators, extra icons, extra texts, and of course the flexibility to change the placement, size and colours of each. Healbot really has everything you need to build a good frame display, it's just that Grid goes further and gives you many more options so that you can truly customise the display to suit your own personal taste.

However, for many of these options, you will need to install additional Grid modules. While this makes for a far more customisable set of frames, the downside to this, obviously, is the need to find and install the modules you need, and keep them updated. As Healbot's options are all built-in, you only ever have to keep one addon up to date to have them working.


Some of the additional Grid modules available at Curse.com


The big benefit here is that if you have some kind of catastrophic UI failure (we've all been there), you're more likely to be able to get back on the horse as a Healbot user, because you won't have to spend time doing the simple things like changing the size of the bars to make the raid's names visible. From running with Healbot users and listening to them, there seem to be a few random minor problems with the addon, whereas Grid seems to be more stable on a daily basis; but if you lost everything, it's going to be much easier to recover Healbot than to recover Grid, particularly if you rely on a lot of the additional modules.

Basically, Grid gives you tonnes of display flexibility in exchange for a bit of hassle setting it up and keeping it running. Healbot gives you all of the basic things you need to see - health, buffs & debuffs, heals, HoTs, and so on - and you can customise these to a point - but you don't get all of the extra bells and whistles that Grid gives you.

But Healbot has definitely come a long way and is surprisingly customisable. I think a lot of die-hard Grid fans would be shocked at what you can do with Healbot - it's definitely not the clunky, boxy, rigid set of frames that I expected.



Navigation and ease of use
WINNER: Healbot

Ease of use ties in with the previous category, logically. Grid's extensive customisation options mean you also have to navigate.... extensive menus. Depending on what you prefer, of course, I found Healbot's tabbed windows to be much easier to navigate than Grid's drop-down style. But then, I think this is due in part to the fact that some of Grid's options (to me) seem to be put into the wrong categories, and I often wish I could get in there and rearrange things a little.

Once you've been using Grid for a while, you'll know where to find each option in the menus; but even as a seasoned user, I still often find myself getting a little lost in the long list of options in each section. With so many options to customise, it's only natural that there are lots of boxes to check and fields to fill in, but I do think that Grid's menus may need a bit of a tidy up so they are less overwhelming. I'd love to see give tabbed menus a try. Whether or not they would be just as overwhelming if they tried to cover the same options, I'm not sure; but surely a whole tab devoted to say, HoTs, would be a nice logical way to customise your frames.



Aesthetics
WINNER: Grid

I feel that Grid wins this category because it just gives you so many more options to customise the look of your frames, meaning that you can have a really slick looking setup according to your tastes.

BUT Healbot has come a long way, and does have quite a few customisation options. It has a couple of options that Grid doesn't: the ability to display your frames in a single column (old-school style on the left or right of your screen), and the ability to show health bars as green progressing through to red according to health deficit, as a slow colour change. Grid allows you to set thresholds for the health bar to change colour and warn you (eg 85% or below = yellow, 50% or below = red) but many Healbot users enjoy that gradual colour change.

Overall though, Grid just has more bells and whistles, more options to change fonts, colours, icons, indicators, and other layout elements, making it more flexible and giving it the potential to be as attractive as you want to make it.



Information display
WINNER: Grid

Both mods display their information nicely, but I think Grid edges ahead, both because of it's level of customisation, and because it has the ability to present more information in the same space.

Grid can show various triggers as:

- frame colour
- border colour
- corner indicator (and with extra modules, extra indicators on the sides and more in the corners)
- icons (and with extra modules, extra corner icons and side icons)
- texts (up to 3 texts, I believe)

It also has a better custom debuff system but I will go into that later.

Healbot does frame and border colour, two texts, and icons, but doesn't have any corner indicators or as many options for changing colours etc. As far as I'm aware it has no options for adding extra texts and icons.

I'd like to stress that both mods will show you everything you want to see; they both display all of the important information that you need. Grid just gives you more options to display it in a way that you want, meaning that if you react faster to colours, you can set it up so that colours are one of your main triggers. If you work better with icons, Grid has the standard center icons but also corner and side icons. Grid makes it very easy for you to set up your frames in the way that YOU will interpret the information fastest - which might be completely the opposite of how someone else likes to see information - but you get the flexibility to choose.



HoTs
WINNER: Grid

In the past, the general opinion that I heard about Healbot was "fantastic healing addon.. Although probably not so great for druids." During my time experimenting with Healbot, I found this to be true, for one main reason - the most important thing that druids should look for in a UI, in my opinion - HoT tracking.

I have to say that if I had to list what was most important for me to see in a frame mod, the health bar/deficit would be first (obviously), and HoTs would be second.

Grid's HoT Trackers (GridStatusHoTs and GridStatusLifebloom) do a brilliant job. They allow you to put numerical, coloured counters in the center, sides or corners of the health bar, so that you can track each HoT. The timers can be a set colour, or can be assigned to change colour as the timer runs low; in the case of Lifebloom, you can also assign colours to stack numbers, so a single stack might be a red timer, and 3 stacks a green counter.

All of this information is displayed clearly, but does not obscure the rest of the information on the frame. This is where Healbot falls down in its HoT tracking; in my experience I found that trying to display the HoT icons on the bar meant that the name and health information was obscured. Making the icons smaller (to be able to see the bar) results in not being able to identify the spells very well (as the icons get smaller) and trouble reading the timers, as the texts of the counters are ultimately linked to the size of the icon. Similarly, if you increase the size of the font, it can also obscure the icon itself, making it hard to see if you're looking at Regrowth or Rejuv, for example.


I found Healbot's HoT timers made it hard to see information beneath them;
if made smaller, then the icons and texts become hard to see.
This means your frames overall have to be quite large to accommodate
the HoT counters and show the player's frame clearly.


Healbot's HoT icons look great. But in practice, they make the health information difficult to see (on a moderate sized UI), and scaling them down makes the HoT hard to see. You have to try to find the happy medium between icons that are large enough to see which spell they are (in turn allowing for decent sized timers), and still being able to see the person's frame under those icons. With Regrowth, Rejuv, Lifebloom and Wild Growth all up on someone's frame at once, I found it difficult to see the health bar, and this would make me very nervous in a raid. Grid's timer information never obscures health information, so you can still make judgments on when to throw an extra emergency heal.


Comparing Healbot and Grid HoT displays when
both mods are set up to have similar sized frames.

As you can see, Grid's HoT timers do not obscure the rest of the information in the frame. I found Healbot's timers to either be so big they obscure the frame, or too small to read the text. The alternative then is to increase the size of the frame to allow for good sized icons without obscuring the other information - but this ends up making your raid frame quite large. I like my frames to be neat and compact.

Also, Healbot lays down the HoT icons in the order cast, not in a specific placement, which means that you can't even get used to Regrowth being say, the one on the left each time - you still need to rely on being able to see the icon properly, as the icons will be in random order on each person's bar. I find that Grid's layout, with set positions for HoTs (that you choose according to your own prefences) makes it easier to interpret timers because you can rely on each spell always appearing in a set position. You can use icons if you want, or simply use colored dots or texts, plus the option to have these colors change over time. You can use the standard green/yellow/red, or choose any colour you like; you can also choose the time thresholds for these color changes to occur, to allow for your own style. Healbot does not have this depth of customization.

If I had to pick one major fault (for druids) with Healbot, HoT tracking would be it. I can honestly say that I could manage swapping from Grid to Healbot if the HoT tracking was improved. It's definitely on the right track, but needs some changes so that HoT information is better displayed. Because we have 4 different HoTs at our disposal, often on many people at once, we need to be able to view and interpret tracking and timer information extremely quickly, to be able to make snap decisions. If the icon is obscured, the display order is random, and the text is difficult to see, then this reaction time suffers. This is a big problem. You don't want your HoT displays to slow down your reaction time.

Any HoT tracking is better than no HoT tracking; but I strongly feel that Grid's tracking options give you a much clearer view of your spells at any given time, they don't detract from the rest of the information, which allows you to process the information faster. A druid with no HoT timers can perform well; but a druid with great HoT displays can really maximise his/her output and fine-tune their timing down to miliseconds.

Basically - if you're serious about excelling as a healer and you're doing difficult content, then you need a really good HoT timer to streamline your performance and improve your reaction time. Healbot is almost there - but Grid just does it better.



Buffs
WINNER: Healbot

This is another category where both mods can show you what you want to see, but in this case, Healbot has some cool features that Grid doesn't.

Both will show you buffs present and buffs missing, depending on what you prefer to see. For example, I prefer to see a pink dot on every frame, denoting Mark of the Wild, and if someone is missing a dot, they need the buff. It's just what I'm used to seeing. Other people prefer to only have a dot showing on someone who is missing the buff, which you could argue is more logical, since it is easier to see one person out of 25 who has a bright pink dot, compared to one person with no dot, out of a sea of 25 people. It's just personal preference.

But Healbot goes further and has alerts for when a buff is about to run out - including sounds. I thought that was a really cool little feature. Most of the time I buff by default, and don't need a reminder, but perhaps there are shorter duration buffs like Thorns that you forget to rebuff. Or it's a special fight and you need to remember to give people Amp Magic or Shadow Protection.

Of course, Grid does have a little more customisation in that you can assign buffs to corner icons and whatnot, but I don't think this is particularly noteworthy in this case. If your frame can show you a buff (or a missing buff) it probably doesn't matter too much how it does it.



Debuffs
WINNER: Tie

Standard debuffs (curses, poisons, magic etc) are basically identical in both mods, aside from (once again) a little more flexibility in display options with Grid. Both will show you debuffs as a centre icon, border, or frame colour. Grid goes a little further and lets you have corner/edge indicators and corner icons (with extra modules). But both mods will show standard debuffs fine.


Poisons & curses - set to display as frame colours (my preference!).
Note: both mods can display these as icons, which many people prefer.


Grid edges forward a little for me personally with its custom debuffs. Healbot still allows you to display custom debuffs (for example, by changing the frame colour or adding a border), but if you want to use frame colour as your indicator, you can only use one colour for ALL custom debuffs. Most people would probably say, "so what?" but this is something that I am particular about, so it stood out for me :)

I like to be able to colour particular custom debuffs particular things (and sometimes with a particular priority). This is especially important in fights where there may be multiple custom debuffs that I would like to track. For example on XT002, I might colour Gravity Bomb bright pink, and Light Bomb bright green. I need to know who has each, but I also need to be able to discern between the two very quickly. Of course, many people just use icons, but I ditched that method long ago when I found that some curse icons looked like poisons (and vice versa). I find it much easier to react to colours than pictures.

So really it is an extremely trivial and TINY edge that Grid has over Healbot - and it will ONLY matter to you if you like to use frame colour AND have separate colours for each debuff.

Apart from that it is basically a tie.



Mouseover macro/Clique compatibility
WINNER: Healbot

Both mods are compatible with click-casting and mouseover macros.

In the case of Grid, you will need to download and setup another addon, Clique, for this functionality. I have seen many Healbot users criticise this fact in the past. In reality though, many Grid users don't use click-casting, so this doesn't matter to them at all.

If you are a click-caster, then Healbot comes ready to go - with no extra modules or setup required; you simply have to assign your spells accordingly. Many people see this as a big plus.




Summary

Healbot was once considered by many to be an "ezmode" healing addon that chose ranks of spells for you, which earned it a bad name as a mod that created lazy healers. Things have changed. It is now a powerful, feature-packed frames mod that shows you all of the things that Grid can show you. It is far easier to use "out of the box", has easy to follow menus, and is easier to keep up to date. Its main failing for druids is the clunky HoT display; but I am confident this will be improved over time.

Grid simply offers many more options for customising your frames, according to how you want your information to be displayed. It has far superior options for HoT tracking, which is essential for druid healers to excel in their healing. It requires some setting up before use, and quite a lot of tweaking to suit personal taste; adding more modules will also mean more and more extensive dropdown menus, but this is the tradeoff for seemingly limitless options for customising the look and layout of your frames.

I think one of the most common arguments against Grid is that "you need to install so many extra mods to go with it!". In reality, I think I have 3 extra modules - which is hardly a big deal at all. You could potentially have hundreds of extra modules installed - which would be a bit of a nightmare to keep updated manually - but what non-Grid users need to keep in mind is that while it may seem like a pain to have to use addons for an addon, this is where Grid gets its massive level of customisation.

And on the flip side, I don't want a whole lot of non-druid addons included by default. Why would I need totem timers, or rune tracking? That would just be bloat, and extra options in my menus that I don't need to see. With Grid you can "build your own mod" by picking and choosing your addons accordingly.

Many non-Grid users see this as a negative. Grid users understand that it means that the mod only includes options that we choose to use.



Really, I could write about these mods all day - I've barely scratched the surface of both. But I do hope I've given people a basic idea of some of the main features of each. The best way though is to give them a try and see what suits you. I believe more druids prefer Grid for their frames, but many use Healbot and swear by it.

If you want a mod that requires only minimal setup and shows you all of the information you need, with click-casting built in, Healbot is great.

If you prefer to tweak and customise your UI to exactly how you want it, including HoT timers, extra texts and icons, and custom debuff options, then Grid excels.


There is no right or wrong mod to use - it's all about whatever helps you best.

Happy healing!

Monday, July 20, 2009

When greens mean progression

Kiiva is 80.



When I hit 80, I naturally started to put together a resto set (having levelled as feral and without any healing gear put away), so that I would be able to get back into healing.

I was a bit lost, to be honest. When Keeva hit 80, she was still wearing Tier 6 and Sunwell gear, which was quite good for Naxx 25. I never had to "put together" a set. Compare and contrast with Kiiva, who levelled entirely as feral and around about the 79 mark I realised I should prrrrobably consider taking the resto quest rewards if I was going to want to at least do 5 mans at 80..

So, I set about quickly looking at the reputations I had, what I had stashed in the bank, etc. At first I had to make do with half greens, half feral gear! Finding a green resto item was exciting. Greens at that point really were progression items for me.

With my "rule" that all of Kiiva's gear has to be paid for properly out of her own earnings (no outside loans, donations, or funds from other characters), I had to scrape together the cash to buy rep items and BOE epics.

My current gear is half enchanted, partly gemmed.. yuck. But it's because I am very literally scraping money together as I go. An epic here or there and I'm back to no cash - then back out to quest and farm and play the AH to get the next piece. Ha, I just remembered I still don't have glyphs.. :P

It's fun - it feels like I'm really working on my character, rather than having epics land in my lap.



My current gear:

Helm of the Majestic Stag - Kirin Tor (Honored)
Artruis's Focus Stone - quest (Sholazar)
Mantle of the Underhalls - quest (Icecrown)
Wispcloak - Auction house ~500g
Tunic of the Unduly Victorious - quest (Icecrown)
Putrescent Bands - purchased from gbank 200g
Moonshroud Gloves - Auction house ~500g
Bridenbrad's Sash - quest (Icecrown)
Earthgiving Legguards - Auction house ~320g
Earthgiving Boots - Auction house ~350g
Runed Mana Band - made by a friend (with my mats)
Lady Nightswood's Engagement Ring - quest (Icecrown)
Will of the Red Dragonflight - quest (Dragonblight)
Totemic Purification Rod - Kalu'ak (Revered)
Iron-bound Tome - made with Inscription
Harold's Rejuvenating Broach - quest (Nagrand)


To be honest I have been very busy with my two jobs, plus my current RL project of building a new chicken coop, so I haven't even had time to look at available gear and see what I should aim for to round out my "pre-raid" set.

I'm sitting at around 1450 healing in tree - not bad for not having stepped into heroics or raids yet. I'm quite happy with this starter set of gear that I have mashed together through quests and AH shopping sprees. Hopefully I'll get some time shortly to get a few more pieces, enchant and gem everything, buy some glyphs (heh), consider the various reps that I need to raise and for what benefit, plan out which badge items to get and in which order, and finally - do instances!

I can't wait to get back into healing :D

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blizzard's Q&A and the future of trees

A look at the druid corner of the blogosphere today shows just how passionate we all are about our forms - whether you love them, or you want them changed.

I won't copy/paste the entire Q&A session, as others have already done so and given good summaries of their thoughts for each item. If you would like to read the entire Q&A, it can be found here.

Instead I wanted to touch on only one point - regarding Tree of Life itself. First - a disclaimer: GC is speaking very vaguely on "improvements" that might be made "sometime" to the druid class. This is not a definite, it is probably something that was merely tossed around standing at the water cooler. Here's the question, and GC's answer:

Q: Can you describe for us what the intended identity and versatilities of the Tree of Life druids are supposed to be?


A: Druids overall have a strong niche. 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. What I mean is that if druids were good healers in caster form but great healers in Tree form, then there might be a decision there. However, we pretty much assume that healing druids are in Tree form nearly all of the time and balance around that. We don’t think it would be fair for them to be the best healers just for taking that talent.

In addition to having to give up utility in order to heal as a Tree of Life, we have become less enamored with druids locking themselves into one form. In fact, you really never see the basic tauren or night elf druid form (you know, the one that actually shows off the awesome armor art) because all druids are in cat, bear, tree, or moonkin form nearly 100% of the time. 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. You shift into tree when you need a healing boost, but you don’t stay in it all the time. Now, I am totally waving my arms here. This is not the kind of change you are going to see in the next patch. But it is something we’re thinking about long term, and the kind of thinking we’d love to have more feedback on from the community.

Note to other healers: this is why you are unlikely to see any kind of “Holy form” ever. Giving up healing to do damage works okay. Giving up everything to heal is lame.



I almost don't know where to start, because I have so many point swimming around in my head that I want to get down on paper - not uncommon for me!

I think the blatantly obvious thing to state is that forms are our "thing". We give up certain parts of our abilities in order to improve other aspects of our abilities. We transform into bears, giving up our ability to heal ourselves or cast offensive spells, but becoming solid tanks. We transform into cats, also giving up the ability to heal, in order to be nasty melee dps. We transform into trees, giving up our ability to do damage, in order to excel at healing.

If the cats, bears, and moonkins are content to do their thing and not think it's unfair that they can't heal AND DPS at the same time, why is it such an issue for trees?

Here's Lissanna's take, which I think mirrors my own thoughts:

We lock ourselves into forms and don’t come out because that’s what druid playstyle IS at this point. It’s possible that tree form could work differently than our other forms, but doing that would probably be lame, because the druid class expects to spend all of our time in a form. In PvE, there can be more shifting around to use Utility spells (hurricane & roots, etc) that aren’t useable in tree or feral forms. The problem of sacrificing everything else to be able to fill our roles well is just that… we have to sacrifice everything else, and in the end, that’s fine. Making tree form a shapeshift on a cooldown is actually a lame idea, since none of our other forms would have that, and it would go against what it is to be a druid.

Bears choose bear-centric talents and gear and roles because they want to tank.
Cats choose kitty specs, gear, and they rip things apart because they want to DPS.
Moonkins choose to zap and pow with spells.
I spec ToL because I like to heal. I don't care about DPSing.

There may be times as a bear, cat or moonkin that you need to pop out and heal, rez, innervate, CC, depoison, etc. But it's rare enough that we don't see people jumping up and down and demanding that bears should be able to cast Regrowth and cats should be able to shred their target to pieces while tossing out Rejuvs on the party.


The problem with Trees

Since its inception, the Tree of Life form has undergone a lot of changes, mostly to remove or improve restrictions placed on us that were seen as disadvantages. It was rough at the start - but we've had a lot of minor improvements to relieve some of the problems. Compared to Day 1, trees can now:

- move at normal speed instead of 20% slower than other classes
- cast all restoration spells, not just HoTs, NS and Swiftmend
- cast Remove Curse and Remove/Abolish Poison
- cast Nature's Grasp
- cast Mark/Gift of the Wild and Thorns

The remaining restrictions or complaints against ToL:

- ugly appearance (to be changed sometime in the future)
- form hides the character/equipment (not unique to this form)
- can't CC
- can't cast offensive spells

Since their release, I don't think anyone can argue that we haven't had some good improvements. We're no longer locked into certain heals and not others. We have access to our utility spells to cleanse. We can run around with everyone instead of having to shift out and run at normal speed.

But STILL some druids complain that we should be able to heal and DPS in Tree form.


Trees are not a sometimes food

I will concede that trees are.. a little ugly. But a spruce-up (hehe, spruce.. get it :D) is on the horizon - and I'm confident it will be impressive.

Sure, we can't see our pretty elf or tauren characters. But that is true of every druid form. Are they also hoping to make cats, bears and laz0r budgies shift in and out frequently? Surely not..

I don't want my ToL to be turned into a 3 minute healing trinket that I put into a rotation. Or worse - a proc that is out of my control. I don't want it turned into a trinket in exchange for the ability to moonfire and cyclone. I can already do those things - I just have to temporarily give up my boosted healing. And I'm fine with that.

Geez, it's not like shifting out makes us AWFUL healers. If a cat shifts out, his healing is going to be woeful (but better than nothing). But as a resto druid, I can pop out and do respectable DPS and continue to do respectable (if not excellent) healing - I've just lost those boosts to my spells. They're not crippled, just reduced. Shifting does not suddenly make me a terrible healer.

I honestly do not see it as a huge sacrifice to have to lose some healing in order to DPS or CC.

However, I do understand that some resto druids don't like being a tree all the time, and would like to spend some time in caster. Certainly I would like to see myself every now and then. Others like the idea of a super-resto form that you bust out when things are really dire - along comes the awesome tree to save the day. I can definitely understand the appeal of that one! Pew pew, heal laz0rz.

For me, I guess what it boils down to is that we've had Tree for years now - and suddenly they want to take it back and make it something you can only use occasionally, as a super perk. I don't want to give up the form I have loved for several years because some people feel that we should be able to DPS and heal.


Counter argument: Tree form benefits aren't much

So just when I thought I had a handle on exactly how I felt about the issue, Siobhann from Silver Hand comes along and complicates things for me by bringing up a really good point, grr. so I'm cranky at you, Siobhann! *angrytree*
The difference between moonkin/ToL and other forms is that all we do when we shift into them is lock out half our casting abilities. Feral forms are an entirely different playstyle with energy or rage and you GAIN a completely different set of abilities by shifting.

Why should I be forced into a form that only has access to healing spells to heal the same as other classes who have all their base abilities?

I shift into cat form, I get an entirely new ability bar and energy rather than mana. Shift into bear, I get a different set of abilities and now I'm a warrior playing with a rage bar. I shift into tree from caster, all I do is lose abilities. I gain nothing but the spirit->spellpower conversion and aura that I should have access to all the time with 41+ points in a healing tree.

Gotta say it, this is a great point. What do we actually gain in tree form? Buffs, and that's about it. Immunity to poly (which has limited use for me, as a PvEr). Modifications to what we already have - nothing new or special. And to add insult to injury, I not only don't get anything new or different, I lose abilities also.

I have to say that I never really thought of it that way. I consider/ed our tree form buffs/auras/improvements to be defining, and more than adequate. But maybe tree form is - as other people have said - just a bunch of modifiers wrapped in a broccoli graphic? (I believe I'm paraphrasing Nadine from Magtheridon - sorry, I closed the window)

Should they perhaps be considering giving us different abilities or a different power system as a tree? Some kind of energy-type power like "life force" or something? And some funky new spells (and take months to balance them..) Not necessarily more spells to have to choose between, but something different. A slightly different style of play if you choose to become a tree.

Rather than focusing on the fact that we give up our offense and defense - should we address the fact that we don't really gain anything great when we shift into tree?

Suddenly I'm not so sure of myself.




A common sentiment on the forums at the moment is "if it isn't broken, don't fix it". The majority appear to be vehemently opposed to turning ToL into a trinket (as am I).

But I have to admit that now I am questioning what really is so great about this form that I love.

I still don't care about being able to DPS in tree form. I doubt I'll ever care. But now that I sit and think about it - even though we are definitely formidable healers in our current state - ToL basically just boosts our existing spells and spellpower and doesn't give us anything new or change our play much (if at all). On top of that, it removes our offensive and CC spells (although we can still cast them, but then we lose healing performance).

Even though I honestly don't care to DPS, now I find that I can't help feeling as though we've been a little short changed.



I'm happy the way we are at the moment, though. I will be very unhappy if ToL becomes a proc or is put on a cooldown.

As always - time will tell.



Monday, July 13, 2009

Epic flyer: done!



Next goal: 1000g for dual specs.

Then after that.. I'll start stockpiling, I suppose!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

5000g





I'm off to start my epic quest!

I'm very pleased with myself - starting from scratch with no gold and no outside help, and now I have my epic flying skill. Much faster than when I got my first couple of epic mounts, too. I think this is the fourth one? I'm not sure - I've lost count. At any rate, I've definitely put a whole lot of gold into my characters.

Now I just need another 1000g (and half a level) and I'll be flying in Northrend :)

PS - Wrathgate is awesome and it will never get old. And if you have only done the Undercity quest as Horde or Alliance, you're missing out. The two quests are quite different and it's pretty cool to see what "the other side" was apparently doing while you were running through the city following the route that your city leader has chosen - Thrall goes through the ruins/elevator and goes after Varimathras in the royal chamber, Wrynn goes through the sewers and hits up Putress (down where that creepy Apothecary Keever hangs out).

It's awesome how it ties the two sides together into one event at the end.. you really should see it from both factions' point of view.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

3.2: Northrend flying at 68, no waiting; more info on raid extensions

In 3.2, Cold Weather Flying is being changed to an heirloom item.

Taken from Wowraid:
Tome of Cold Weather Flight is actually a new heirloom item planned to go into patch 3.2. At level 80 players can buy this heirloom item from the Cold Weather Flying Trainer in Dalaran for 1,000 gold and send it to an alt of the same realm, faction and account. The tome can be used to learn Cold Weather Flying at level 68, consuming the tome in the process.



Translation:

You can buy Cold Weather Flying (note: no change in the price), and send it off to an alt; the item is consumed when the alt learns it. "Big deal!" was my first thought - it's the same price, and single use (at first I thought it meant you could mail it to *every* alt, thus saving you the cost for each subsequent character). If it gets used up, you're not saving any money, so who cares?

But then I realised what it actually means - the cost is the same, but you no longer have to wait until you are almost through levelling in Northrend to be able to fly.

You'll be able to fly in Northrend from level 68 - essentially immediately - by having your main character mail you the skill while you're still in Outland. No levelling to 77. No trudging across Northrend on foot/horse/cat/monkey. You'll be able to fly as soon as you get here!

It really goes without saying that this will make a massive, MASSIVE difference to levelling. Especially to Alliance characters starting off in Daggercap Bay, ugh.


More info on raid extensions
* In order to allow for parties and raids to progress through instances at their own pace, players can now extend a dungeon or raid ID on an individual basis.
* Existing or recently expired IDs can be extended via the Social tab under Raid by clicking on Raid Info.
* The ID of any instance to which a player is saved can be extended. Doing so will extend the lockout period by the same amount of time as the original lockout (i.e. extending an Ulduar raid ID will add 7 days, a Heroic: Halls of Lightning dungeon ID will add 24 hours, and a Zul’Gurub raid ID will add 3 days to the lockout time).
* An ID can be extended more than once.
* An extension can be reversed on an individual basis provided the player does not do anything in the instance during the extended lockout period that would save that player to the instance.

So my interpretation of this, correct me if I'm wrong:

- extensions are individual; each person chooses to extend their ID or ditch it for a fresh week/day/3 days/whatever
- if you decide you don't want it extended anymore, you can reverse it, BUT
- if you've killed another boss since extending it, you have to wait for the rest of the extension period to expire before you can start fresh.

So if you do half of Ulduar, extend your ID, and then kill one more boss on a Thursday, you can't just opt to reset the instance and get a few days of farming in before the next raid reset on Tuesday.

Also, the second last point is pretty interesting - it would seem that you can extend your raid period indefinitely, for as long as you need. That should really help the raiders who can only raid a few hours per week, but are really keen on conquering the fights; but also the hardcore raiders whose team might be completely decked out (and so don't need resets to farm gear), but want to push on for their kills.

Exciting changes!



Rawr!

I set my alarm for 6:30am on Sunday and sat bleary-eyed in my pyjamas, as Stompalina cheerily wished me good morning. I asked whose crazy idea this was, anyway. She laughed. I grumbled.

But I had a blast being on the show with them. It was a lot of fun, and I think I did okay, considering the fact that it was stupidly early on a Sunday. I only had a couple of mishaps.. one where I zoned out for a sec and misunderstood what the guys meant when they were talking about not being able to get into instances.. heh. Ohhhhh you mean actually getting INTO instances. Right, right. I thought that was a PTR thing, I never even knew that could happen on live servers.. I'm so clueless. Playing on a small, backwater Oceanic server means we never have maxed instances, so I have just never come across that problem.

Still, I was a little embarrassed that my eyes had glazed over and I missed a few key words like "error message" and whatnot. Those couple seconds of silence from Stomp that said to me "you have no idea what I just asked, do you?"

/blush.

Had a great laugh about it later, though. Not sure if it got edited out - haven't had a chance to listen yet. :P

Other than that, I think at one stage I was waffling about tradeskills and forgot my point (luckily one of the guys cut me off with his opinion.. saved!!).. I knew what I was talking about when I started, I swear.

The other slightly embarrassing moment was when Stomp paused mid-sentence and asked, "Do you have birds?" I have nine pet budgerigars who tend to be extremely noisy - often to the point where I can't hear people on vent. My grand plan to keep them quiet for the podcast was to leave their blankets on and sit in the dark. It almost worked.



I had a great time on the show, and the time absolutely flew past. I was so disappointed when it was over, I wanted to stay and chat more! Thank you to everyone who stopped by the chatroom, especially old friends... and thank you to Stomp and Haf for having me (and Jeppy for being the chat moderator). I had heaps of fun - would love to do it again sometime :)

If you missed out - head over to The Rawrcast Show's site and grab it (in various formats).



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I hate Borean Tundra

I really hate Borean Tundra.

Lots of people have their favourite zones, and their most hated zones. I seem to find that most people I talk to hate the zones I love, and vice versa. For example, I ADORE Stranglethorn Vale, and get excited to "finally" get there when I'm levelling. Many people can't stand the zone.

I love Zangarmash. I love Blade's Edge Mountains. In my experience, STV, Zangarmarsh and BEM are some of the most hated zones.

Oh, and Dragonblight. Most people hate it - I really enjoy it. To each their own, I suppose.

But I hate Borean Tundra.

I don't really know why; I suppose it's an irrational hatred. There are some good quests. Maybe it's the landscape? The weird groundcover? I'm not sure. All I know is that I really hate the place.

The only saving grace for this horrible zone is this:



/click
/click
/click
/click

.... *explodes from the cute*


Level 75 now, enjoying fishing and cooking dailies so much! I'm weird. Bank alt has 3500g.. well on my way to epic flying/cold weather flying. Levelling slowed a little in the last few days, had a minor accident at work and haven't played as much over the weekend. I'm hoping to get to 80 this weekend though.

Most people would want 80 so they could start doing instances, get some shiny gear.

I want to get to 80 so I can do dailies. DAILIES YAY!

Maybe I hit my head in the accident? :P

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Faction change service Q&A with Nethaera

Just a quickie - Neth has answered a few of the faction change service questions (although I'm still very interested to hear more info on how they will deal with reps and mounts).

Updated* 7/1- Due to the many questions that have come up with the announcement of this new service, we wanted to take the time to answer the ones we can at this point in time.

Q. Will we be able to switch between the races on our own faction?
A.. No. Players will only be able to switch to a race of the opposite faction.

Q. Will I be able to choose the race on the opposite faction that I want to change to?
A.. Yes, but you will only be able to switch to a race that has your class type available to it. So if you play a human paladin, you’d only be able to change to a blood elf paladin.

Q.How much will it cost?
A.. We do not have further information on this at this point in time.

Q.Will I be able to switch back to my original faction but a different race?
A.. No. You will only be able to switch back to your originally chosen race.

Q.. How will the switch between reputation, gear, mounts, etc be handled?
A.. We’ll have more details for you at a later point in time, though we plan to keep these as close to a reflection of the other faction as much as possible.

Q.How often can you change your faction?
A..We do not have any information to share on this at this point in time, however we will have restrictions on the frequency by which players can change their faction.

Q. How will this affect the balance of Horde and Alliance on the realms?
A.. We are taking great care in how we implement this new service in order to maintain balance between the factions on the realms but do not have any further details to share.


So you won't be able to change races within your faction, nor will you abe able to change to the opposite faction, wait out the cooldown, and then change back in order to say, go from Orc to Undead.

I think they want to prevent people from deciding that "the best rogue is Race X" or "Race Y has the best warrior racials" and everyone just piling into these particular combos.

Even so, I think we'll see race to race swaps in the future. I'm surprised faction to faction came first, actually. And then eventually, I think we'll see class to class. Yeah, it might seem silly.... but hey, they said PvE to PvP would never happen, and it did. Eventually.

Oh oh oh, and I forgot another question that I thought of: what if you're on a PvP server... the rules state that you can't create characters of both factions on one server on the same account. Are they finally going to break that rule and allow for players to have both factions on a PvP server?

Doesn't affect me at all, I play PvE and I've had multiple accounts for a long time.. just curious!