Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heroic Aggramar Defeated!

Heroic Aggramar fell surprisingly quickly.

We spent over an hour trying to get our second kill on Heroic Coven. We finally got them down and reached Aggramar with about 50 minutes left in the raid. I think we resigned ourselves to going over the basic strategy and then pulling it a few times to see the fight.

Instead we killed Aggramar in five pulls.

I think that part of it was that we use a lot of assigned CC on Coven, so it was pretty easy to do the same thing on Aggramar. Then the rest of the fight is straightforward.

I think our guild's major weaknesses are movement and spacing. If a fight doesn't require precise movement and positioning, we're decent enough. I'm not really sure how we can get better at movement and spacing. From previous guilds, it's not something which is really discussed, but more something which is done naturally.

In particular, I sometimes think that many players have a "home" position in a given fight. That's where they stand, and where they return to after a given mechanic ends. I feel that there are several players in our raid who don't do this naturally. They don't go back to a standard position, instead moving to new positions, often based on the position of different mechanics, all the time. It's not like this is wrong, exactly, but it does make their movement unpredictable. This ends up hurting us in fights where predictable movement is more useful.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Allied Races

With 7.3.5, Blizzard released four allied races if you pre-order the next expansion, Battle For Azeroth. There are two races for the Alliance: Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei; and two races for the Horde: Nightborne, and Highmountain Tauren.

Each of these races played a part in the Legion storyline, and recruiting them is a very organic development in the story. Each race requires a certain amount of reputation and achievements, which you basically have if you've been playing Legion.

I'm really happy that Blizzard chose to make playable scenarios about recruiting each of these races. A long time ago, I complained about Theramore, wishing its destruction had happened in game, rather than in an associated novel. It's heartening to see Blizzard put important story events in game, and give the player a role to play in those events. It feels like the Blizzard of a couple expansions ago would have just made the Allied races available to play, and put the story of how they joined in a novel or story online, or a cutscene.

Perhaps this change was prompted by competition with FFXIV, which is all in on the storyline occurring in game. Regardless, it's a good change. Hopefully the same thing will happen with the scenarios for Battle for Azeroth, especially the triggers for the war. I hope players have their bloody hand prints all over the burning of Teldrassil or the attack on Undercity, or whatever other events happen.

In any case, I created a Void Elf shadow priest, and have been very slowly levelling her up. She's currently level 35. I really like the scaling changes made to levelling, as well as having zone completion tied to the story lines. I've been levelling in Kalimdor, as I have not seen most of the post-Cataclysm stories there. The new levelling is very enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Heroic Coven of Shivarra Defeated!

Coven of Shivarra was bidding to become our fight with the most wipes so far in this expansion. We finally got it down this week, only a few wipes short of our Heroic Avatar count.

Heroic Coven is an interesting fight in that the individual mechanics are not very hard, but dealing with the combinations can be very difficult. Some mechanics push you to spread out, some mechanics push you to collapse, and there's some randomness as to which mechanics happen when which makes it hard to learn the fight. You may see a certain combo only a few times a night.

For us, our big change was how we handled the marching adds. We switched to a strategy where we tried to lock down all the marching adds. This delays running behind them as long as possible, and makes it a lot easier to find safe spots during darkness.

It took us a little bit of practice, including several attempts where we got fairly close. But something always happened in the last 20% and the attempt fell apart. The final kill was fairly smooth. Hopefully we will be able to repeat this next week.

This is the one fight this tier that has really tested my mana. I was running on fumes for much of the last bit of the fight.

The only other thing to note is that the Legendary Prydaz makes a large difference this fight. It's well worth bringing it out for this fight if you have it.

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Problem of One-Tricks

The current major cause of angst in Overwatch are "one-trick" players. These are players who play almost entirely with a single character and refuse to play other characters. The problem is that Overwatch is a game where you can swap characters to better match different situations.

Add to that the fact that some characters are seen as weak, or specialized, and a lot of people become unhappy when another player chooses a character that seems sub-optimal.

The other problem here is that generally, if you play a lot on one character, you become better at that one character than you are at the others. A Torbjorn main can rightfully feel that she plays best on Torbjorn, and would be worse on the character her teammates want her to play.

Of course, no one complains if you one-trick a character who is in demand and who people don't play. Mercy players or tank players come to mind.

Not to mention that if you play in regular team, each teammate often gravitates to the same roles. Dave is the support, Sally is the tank. From an outside point-of-view, this is one-tricking, but the big difference is that everyone on the team is comfortable with it.

So far, Blizzard's stance is that--as long as you try to win--playing one specific character is acceptable. But there are signs that resolve may be cracking. One-tricks are often reported by other players, and can get caught in the automated banning systems.

I wonder what a purely mechanical solution would look like. Imagine that, in competitive, any hero who's playtime this season is more than one standard deviation away from your average playtime per hero is locked out. So your hero pool would be limited at the start of a game, and you'd be forced to play on a wider variety of heroes.

It would make matchmaking more difficult, as you'd now have to account for available heroes when assembling a group. It wouldn't do to make a group where everyone is locked out of the healers (as unlikely as that is).

On the other hand, perhaps your rating in Competitive would be more representative of your ability in the game as a whole, and not just with one hero.