Friday, September 12, 2008


I can completely understand that for some people, the Arena can be a terrifying and strange place where there is no quarter given and none expected. This is a place where egos are made and dreams are crushed. For those who perform at an exceptional level, there are far more rewards given than to those of average skill. However, at the end of the day it is still a part of the game for every player to enjoy, but, for a new player to succeed, reading strategies and trying to understand tactics can often be an exercise in futility as some of the established strategies are quite difficult.

One recommendation that I can make to newer players is to follow the age old acronym of KISS, or Keep It Simple, Silly (or Stupid, for you purists). Overcomplicating strategies only add to the things a newer player has to worry about, beyond staying alive and performing primary class functions.

Let's take an example. When my Warrior/Enhancement Shaman/Druid team started playing, our success in the 1800's was fairly stagnant. Up until last night, our strategies were as such:

Against Warrior/Warlock/Druid: Warrior and Shaman should start on the Warlock, stop fears, and swap between the Warlock and the Felhunter, with the eventual goal of killing two pets and working the Druid's mana pool down through constant pressure. The Druid should control the opposing Warrior and Druid as much as possible, but prehot himself to avoid the inevitable swap.

Against Rogue/Mage/Priest: Warrior and Shaman get on the Mage, stop polymorphs on the Mage and slow down the dps output of the mage while forcing the Priest to heal instead of mana burn. The Rogue is a viable swap target if the other targets are not accessible.

As of last night our strategies have become: Kill healer, Druid controls whoever is controlling the shaman.

Much simpler, right?

Overthinking the various matchups have caused alot of indecision, with our melee often targeting different targets, not utilizing the strength of the composition, which is to use Mortal Strike in combination with the Shaman's utility and Windfury to RNG (Random Number Generator) someone in seconds. Last night, after some silly losses, we put all of the advanced theorycrafting aside and basically played 'gangbang the healer'. We did have some losses where the complicated strategies would have come in handy, but we also won several 20 point games.

The interesting thing about this strategy (if you can call it a strategy) is that it forces the opponents to play differently. Warlocks expected to be trained down, and when they were ignored, found that they couldn't help their Druid with fears through Tremor and Cyclones. Mages were also used to be the main target, and when they werent, slowed their own damage output by focusing on peeling for their priest, thus allowing me to a) avoid mana burns, and b) cc chain the mage as the healing output required was much lower.

While such a zerg mentality will not probably get us past 2000, it has definitely our opponents to play differently from how we're used to seeing them play, which, in turn, makes it feel like we're more in control.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

PvE to PvP

Blizzard today announced that they've finally lifted their previous restrictions of character transfers from PvE to PvP servers.

This a great thing as I have 2 woefully unused Alliance characters stuck on a PvE server that have been collecting dust, and I'd love to xfer them to a PvP server and join in on the royal rumble with WotLK. I've long been disenfranchised with the easygoing attitude of a PvE server, and enamored with the rush of World PvP. Take my herb, will you? Eat a PoM Pyro, b!#*@. Even if I get smeared across that road between Tarren Mill and Southshore, there's a good chance that my guild/faction will be there in a few minutes to paint the town red. That's just how we roll, homeslice.

However, I am a bit wary about the effects of lifting such a rule, more from a technical standpoint than a gameplay enjoyment perspective. You see, for the past few years, there has been an interesting phenomena where many of the top Raiding and PvP guilds have been on PvP servers. For example, Mal'ganis has been a raiding hotbed, with a very large number of endgame raiding guilds. Tichondrius has been the PvP breeding pit, where many top teams from the various battlegroup have made their new home. I believe Moon Guard is one of the biggest RP servers for some reason or another ((am I right?)).

For each player seeking the 'ultimate' experience in whatever aspect of the game they chose to pursue, those servers became somewhat of a 'solution' to their need, a Mecca, if you will. For those already on PvP servers, the transfer was simple. However, those with careers on PvE servers, this meant rerolling, which, for some, was not an option due to a variety of reasons (sentimental value, leveling is too difficult, gear grind, etc). As such, as time progressed, PvE server guilds often had a difficult time finding suitible raiders or PvP partners, often resorting to searching 'off server' to fill their needs or poaching from smaller, less accomplished guilds.

With this change, I am definitely interested in the number of transfers from PvE servers to PvP servers, especially to these servers that are already at capacity and are already at risk of having a queue each night to log in. Server stability is definitely an issue, and I can't imagine the long time denizens of one of these Capacity servers appreciating the increased strain on their eHome away from Home. In addition, I'm curious to see how some PvE servers will react when entire end game guilds transfer off. I've personally been on servers where there's a good chance at any given time that you're one of 10 people of your faction in Shattrah, and it's truly a miserable experience.

Where were you?

Non WoW post for now.

Where were you 7 years ago on this day?

I was staring at the TV's in the lunch room on the 5th floor of the Accenture building in Reston, Virginia, before they evacuated the building since 'it is the tallest building in the area and may be the next target'.

The evacuation rationale seems silly now, but at the time, it sounded reasonable.

WoW post later...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ebb and Flow

Last night's arena went okay, as there was no respectable ratings change in either direction, but what was valuable was the experience gained at ratings my partner hadn't seen before, especially against well coordinated double dps teams. We must have run into every single Rogue/Mage and Rogue/Lock team in the 1900+ brackets and did okay against them. At one point, I started using my Battlemaster's Trinket just for additional survivability.

To be honest, i'm perfectly fine with the evening's results as those teams are designed to beat Warrior/Druid and an even record against them is sometimes the best you can hope for. We're still working out strats against double dps but the two things that I can say we definitely need to improve on are

1) Positioning (SO important)
2) Defensive Play

I've said before that positioning is one of the biggest keys to success in any form of PvP, and against double dps, that couldn't be more true. It literally will make or break you if you are playing a healer/dps comp. However, while the healer can position themselves perfectly, spells such as deathcoil or any form of fear can place people in exceedingly bad positions. In this case, it falls upon the dps to create a beneficial positioning situation through defensive play so that they a) dont take a ton of damage and b) allow the healer an opportunity to recover.

Lets take, for example, the scenario is War/Dru vs Rogue/Shadow Priest. This fight showcases the warrior's mobility and ability to keep targets controlled. Starting the match, the Warrior will be on the Priest, but due to the Shadow Priest's burst, the Warrior is at risk of being soloed. Pummelling the Mind Blast/SW:D combo is paramount, as is keeping the Priest hamstrung. The Druid should come out as soon as possible in LOS of the Warrior before too much damage is put on the Warrior as a Warrior at 50% can be essentially solo'd by the Priest while the Rogue locks the Druid down. Immediately after placing a couple of hots on the Warrior, the Druid should abolish and hot himself up due to imminent arrival of the Rogue.

This is one of the points at which the game is can be decided. The Priest will be trying to run to the Druid to get a Psychic Scream off and if he does and if the Druid's hots are dispelled, it's essentially game over for the Druid. If the Druid doesn't trinket the fear, he'll be beat on by the opposing team until the fear subsides, at which point he'll probably behind on both healing and have a 5 stack of wound poison up on him. If he does trinket the fear, the opposing team will lead a blind into sap into another fear, while destroying the Warrior.

So, what to do?

To prevent this situation, the Warrior needs to create an opening through defensive play and keep the Priest hamstrung to prevent the druid getting feared and applying pressure on the Rogue in the form of intercepts to give the Druid some kiting room. At the same time, the Warrior needs to recognize when the other team is doing a target swap and instantly sword/board/def stance/intervene. If the warrior can create a kiting/healing/cc opportunity for the druid, chances of success are greatly increased, however, at no time should the priest get close to the druid as it is pretty much a game over whenever that happens (assuming blind is down). If you've ever seen a warrior use intervene into intercept and bounce around like a pinball on steroids, you've probably seen a smart warrior with good defensive play.

Recognizing these types of situations, especially when to minimize damage while the healer is cc'd is an essential aspect of the game. It seems ludicrous to suggest to people that sometimes the proper play is to GTFO and fast, but seeing the number of players who mindlessly tunnelvision in one direction, it does bear repeating.

Also, WotLK is months away. As mentioned to Euripides, unless youre at the pinnacle of ratings, there's always something to be learned, and all of it will be relevant in the expansion.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Arena Mindset

Headaches can be a pain, and last night's arena results weren't great because I had a headpounder a-brewing in my noggin. We went 2-2 before I called it for a night because I was getting outplayed and forgetting to use abilities. While headaches can cause a lapse in concentration, the point is that often, the best time to do arenas is when you're able to put aside kids, pets, spouses, and all other distractions. Playing while hungry or thirsty just won't do either. I'm a firm believer of treating it seriously (y so srs?) and having a positive mindset when doing anything competitive. If youre going to do it, give it your all. Not trying isn't being fair to your teammates and as a corollary, playing while distracted is like running the 100m dash with a sprained ankle. At the same time, if I know we're not playing well, I'll call it early and try to fix the strategies instead of constantly queueing while getting demoralized due to losses.

In short, I don't like going to bed frustrated and pissed off at either my play or my partners'.

As for my mistakes, because I was distracted, I failed to communicate my actions and call out important key events. We lost to a Warlock/rogue team because I wasn't prepared for the damage output of the rogue (good rogues are scary!) and we lost a mirror match to a much more coordinated team that controlled my positioning well.

I also kited like a retard. Shame on me.

The games we did win were against two Warlock/Druid teams. The first team feldom'd out a second felhunter after the first felhunter died and subsequently lost due to ridiculous damage on the now non soul linked Warlock. The second team was able to, through massive cc's on the part of the Druid, hard summon a voidwalker, but their Druid wasn't very good at running to drink as she was moonfire'd/faerie fire'd/throwing weapon'd as she left OR the voidwalker was cycloned and the Warlock was eating lots of damage through a 5 stack of sunder armor. They did play well, linking fear and cyclones on me and then cycloning the Warrior to stop my hots from ticking, but their coordination sorta broke apart a few times, letting us heal back up to full. We swapped to the Druid once she got low on mana and the poor Warlock couldn't peel enough to let her Druid get away.

Poor druid.

In other news, my 3's buddy (other than the warrior) is going to pick up his S3 weapon today. Granted, its not a S4 weapon, but its nice to be able to upgrade while still learning a comp. We play War/EnSham/Druid and zerging stuff has gotten us up to a season high of ~1850 or so. We're still refining our strats and call out cc's, so I can definitely expect something greater than the 1800's.

To be honest, i'm truly scared of melee classes in WotLK. It's not because their damage is so retardedly high on clothy/leather targets, but more that many of them have gotten Beastial Wrath type effects. Kiting a Feral Druid is going to be a difficult prospect if all you have is snares. Kiting an Enhancement Shaman is going to be downright impossible now that they can break snares with Ghost Wolf form a la druid shapeshifting.. and they have mail!

We'll see how things change for class dominance and if the poor Paladins and Hunters will ever be brought forth from their current depths of utterly poor class design.