Thursday, April 16, 2020

Corruption and Raid Healing

Tonight we only had two healers in a 15-person Heroic N'Zoth raid. It took us a few tries, but we got it down in the end. But it was a good fight to reflect on how corruption affects healing.

The thing about corruption is that the healer doesn't really see it happening. All you see is someone's health suddenly dropping, with no relationship to mechanics. Honestly, it's a little weird. It makes healing rather unpredictable and more reactive than normal.

It's actually a really good fit for Glimmer paladins, because you can immediately Shock the person who just dropped.

Another odd thing is that it's suddenly your best players who need attention. Normally, in a raid, you have the usually suspects who are a bit slow to move out of the fire, and so you have to pay extra attention to them. But now, it's likely you have to pay more attention to the better players, because they're pushing the edge on corruption.

I can't decide how I feel about it. One the one hand, it's better than the heavy raid-wide damage auras that past tiers used to challenge healers. And it's not really that different from a mechanic where the boss blasts random raid members.

However, it might have contributed to the lower difficulty of Heroic raiding this tier. When we first went through Heroic, people had relatively low corruption. So our dps was lower, but people weren't taking random damage. Instead damage was very predictable and and not as severe. That made it easier to survive and learn the fights. Compare to something like Heroic Kil'jaeden where people would die left and right while learning.

In some ways, healing actually feels a little more difficult now than it was when we first did the fights. But damage has significantly increased, so the fights are over faster.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Warlock Finished, Current Roster

I finished leveling a Void Elf Warlock to 120 and went through the legendary cloak quest line. It was pretty enjoyable. I leveled mostly as Affliction, as I've always been fond of the DoTs and Drains playstyle.

My current max-level roster:

  • Human Paladin
  • Human Mage
  • Night Elf Demon Hunter
  • Draenei Shaman
  • Void Elf Warlock
  • Blood Elf Warrior
  • Blood Elf Paladin
I kind of regret the Horde Paladin. I played the Warror as a Sylvanas Loyalist, so I boosted the Paladin to see the Saurfang side of the Horde War Campaign in Battle for Azeroth. However, I haven't actually played through the campaign again.

The bigger problem, though, is that my main, the Human Paladin is on the Doomhamer server, and all the others are on Lightbringer. So really, I got them to 120, and pretty much let them languish. I kind of wish Blizzard would do a one-time sale and let you rearrange all your characters. I'd consolidate Alliance on Doomhammer and Horde on Lightbringer. (Which sounds backwards, now that I'm typing it out.)

I'm not sure if I should level another alt, or just leave it as is and wait for Shadowlands.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

No Warforging in Shadowlands

Blizzard revealed today that there will be no Warforging, Titanforging, or Corruption for loot in Shadowlands. Essentially, we will be going back to the static items as in previous expansions before Legion.

I personally did not mind these mechanics. Blizzard gave out more loot, so that it was easier to hit the baseline, but harder to get Best-in-Slot. Now they will revert that, and we will go back to a more Classic feel where there is less loot overall, and upgrades are rarer, but if you get a piece, you're not going to replace it again until a new tier comes out.

That does mean that the variance will be higher. I remember some tiers where one time simply never dropped for us.

On the positive side, this means that class sets can come back. You won't have to choose between set bonuses and warforged items.

Overall, it's probably a positive change. I think that there was a significant faction of the audience who had troubles dealing with the fact that you could not "finish" a character in Legion/BfA. That you could not say, "this character has the best gear possible, I can put him aside and move on to a different character".

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

FFXIV: Save the Queen Relic Weapons

Final Fantasy XIV released it's latest patch, 5.25, yesterday. This isn't a full story patch, but contains the start of the current expansion's Relic weapon quest line.

Relic weapons are an interesting item. They're the second-best weapons in the game, but they will require a lot of steady grinding to get them to their highest form. A reward for pure dedication. I rather think they're a good fit for MMOs, which thrive on steady progress.

On the other hand, for games with alts, there will be a lot of unhappiness because the alts have to regrind their weapons. Surprisingly, though, FFXIV makes you grind each weapon separately, and no one complains about that. I wonder why.

In any case, the new story was pretty good. It featured a solo scenario that turned into the equivalent of a trial at the end. Indeed, an Extreme version of trial, for 8-man groups, was also released. The story hinted at a lot of future developments.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes. However, I've never actually finished any of the relic weapons from the previous expansions, so I'm not sure how this will go. At least the current version is enough to get my item level up so that I can finish a couple of pieces of content from the previous patch.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Shadowlands Class Update

Blizzard has released a Shadowlands Class Update, discussing changes coming to the classes in the next expansion. For the most part, they look to be drawing back on specializations, creating a more common base that all specializations share.

For paladins, we have:

Devoted servants of the Light, Paladins tap into its holy power to protect their friends and vanquish their enemies. In the original version of the game, Paladins had several categories of spells that transcended their specializations, such as Seals, Blessings, and Auras. While we feel that not all of these categories of spells make sense for the modern game, having those categories defined the Paladin class. We want to restore that feeling of shared spell categories with the unification of the Paladin resource system, and the restoration of several iconic abilities including Auras. While a few of these abilities are situational utility, they play well into the Paladin’s archetype as a holy avenger and bane of the undead.

General Changes
Blessing of Sacrifice, Hammer of Wrath, Sense Undead, Shield of the Righteous, Turn Evil, and Word of Glory will be available to all Paladins, regardless of their specialization.

Holy Power returns as a resource for all Paladins to use to fight off attackers and defend their allies. Abilities such as Crusader Strike and Hammer of Wrath grant Holy Power on use, which can then be spent to call upon the most powerful forms of the Light—including Word of Glory and Shield of the Righteous—to vanquish foes and protect allies.

As champions of the Light, all Paladins can use powerful Auras to safeguard and enhance their allies. Concentration Aura returns to all Paladins, reducing the duration of interrupts and silences. A redesigned Retribution Aura allows Paladins to avenge fallen allies with a short burst of Avenging Wrath, giving these holy warriors the strength to vanquish evil or keep their remaining allies on their feet. Crusader and Devotion Auras are also available to all Paladins.

All Paladins will also have access to more Talents that allow them to manipulate and spend Holy Power. The Divine Purpose Talent will be available for all Paladins to select and standardized for all specializations, allowing their abilities that spend Holy Power to have a decent chance to make the next Holy Power-spending ability free and increase its damage or healing output. Holy Avenger allows the generation of huge bursts of Holy Power in a short window, while Seraphim allows the Paladin to spend their Holy Power to increase their secondary stats for a moderate amount of time.

The Azerite Trait Glimmer of Light moves to a space in the Level 50 Talent row, competing with powerful existing options such as Beacon of Faith. While Holy Paladins’ Aura Talent row has been replaced by the class-wide Aura bar, Aura Mastery continues to give Holy Paladins the unique ability to give any Aura a special empowerment.

To better uphold their oath to protect the innocent, Protection Paladins now exude Shining Light—a new passive that makes the next cast of Word of Glory free whenever Judgment critically strikes a target, enabling Protection Paladins to shield themselves and defend their allies from attackers.

The darkest places within the Shadowlands inspire Retribution Paladins to perform valorous acts in the name of the Light. Wake of Ashes is available to all Retribution Paladins instead of needing to be picked as a Talent, allowing these holy warriors to vanquish evil with a blow so powerful it damages all foes close to its impact and reduces any survivors’ movement speed significantly. Demon and Undead enemies are further crippled with a substantial stun when struck with the ability.

Empyrean Power (previously an Azerite Trait) will be available as a Talent, giving Crusader Strike a moderate chance to make the next Divine Storm cost no Holy Power and increase the damage dealt by a significant amount.
The big change is Auras and Holy Power (and Hammer of Wrath!). While getting back Auras is very nice, I have a much more mixed reaction to Holy Power.

Holy Power does not quite work with healing. Last time around, all I really remember is blanketing the raid in 1-HP Eternal Flame HoTs. It was really weird, and ended up making the paladin feel more like a druid than anything else.

As well, Holy Paladin healing was excellent this expansion. Both builds (Glimmer and Judgment of Light) were fun to play and felt paladin-like. We are getting Glimmer as a talent in the expansion, which is good. However, significantly changing paladin healing at this point feels like fixing something which isn't broken.

Well, we'll see what the system feels like in the Alpha and Beta.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Control: Foundation - First Impressions

Control's first DLC, Foundation, was released last week. I picked it up and have been slowly working my way through it. I'm not very far in, though.

It looks like the difficulty has picked up a bit. Or possibly it's just that there is a new type of enemy, and I haven't figured out how to handle them well yet. Control was mostly a ranged game, but the new enemies are melee who rush you with pickaxes. If you try to pick them off from heights, they start throwing dynamite at you.

Control also continues its pattern of having the main story line be reasonably hard, but having the side mission bosses be a difficult challenge. It's a pretty good pattern, because you never get stuck entirely. Since the side missions are independent, you can go after them in any order. Or skill up through the main story line first.

The story appears to be filling out some of the history behind the Federal Bureau of Control, investigating the time period before the main cast of Control.

In any case, Control was an excellent game, and Foundation is a worthy continuation.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

My First WoW Addon: Minimap Coordinates

A couple of months ago, I decided to try to learn how to make a World of Warcraft Addons. Here's my first addon: MinimapCoordinates. MinimapCoordinates is a very simple addon that only does one thing: puts your current location in the text above the Minimap.

It's so simple, it actually caused me problems when I first tried to submit it to Curseforge. They rejected it until I could say something about why someone would want to use this Addon. Apparently, "They want to see their location above the minimap" was not good enough. So I called it "minimalistic and light-weight", and that passed.

I made it primarily to learn a bit about Lua, the WoW Addon API, and to how set up the infrastructure around Addons. The code is hosted on Github. There's some neat integration where pushing a Git version tag automatically notifies Curseforge and packages up the Addon for download.

MinimapCoordinates is available for both Battle For Azeroth and WoW Classic.

I'm trying to decide what to tackle next. Ideally, it's more complex than this, but not too crazy.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Winds of Wisdom Buff and Heirlooms

Due to the coronavirus, Blizzard has enable a buff, Winds of Wisdom, which increases XP by 100%. Naturally, this is encouraging people to level alts.

I have been leveling a Void Elf Warlock. I'm up to 112 and into Battle for Azeroth. The Legion Warlock campaign was really good. I haven't finished it, as the next part requires dungeons, so I'll go back and finish it at 120.

I'm kind of regretting not leveling one of each class during Legion. The class campaigns are really enjoyable.

In any case, one of the interesting things about Winds of Wisdom is that it stacks with heirlooms. So you can zoom through levels. Or alternatively, you can stop using heirlooms and still level at quite a rapid pace.

I've realized that I really enjoy upgrading gear when leveling. You get a new piece of gear, you equip it, and your character's look slowly changes. Without the gear treadmill, you're just filling in a bar and your level increases every so often. Nothing really changes, especially since Blizzard front-loads most of your rotation.

I wish the XP gain on heirlooms wasn't tied to the piece of gear. Maybe it should be always active once unlocked.

In any case, the Winds of Wisdom buff offers a good opportunity to combine fast leveling with upgrading gear.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Grand Empress Shek'zara

Wow, this World Boss is terrible. The week in between causes me to forget how bad this boss is.

It isn't even that bad of a boss, but the lag is really, really bad during this fight. The lag combines with with the special where you have to run to the safe zones to deadly effect. I think that most people just don't register as being in the safe zone and thus they all die. I lost half the raid today even while Aura Mastery was active.

At least your ghost spawns right next to the fight.

The devs probably should have given that ability to the other world boss, and left Shek'zara without any heavy raid-wide damage moves. Though they probably didn't predict the amount of lag.

Actually, Vale in general is much laggier than the rest of the zones. I wonder what is causing the issues in that one zone?

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Jewelcrafting in Battle For Azeroth

My paladin is a Jewelcrafter. This expansion was very weird for that profession.

On the demand-side, sockets became part of titan-forging. There's a small chance that any piece of gear drops with a socket on it. But it's pretty rare. I think I have one piece (other than my crafted ring) with a socket at the moment. So not very many people were buying gems this expansion.

On the supply-side, jewelcrafters were flooded with gems. The number of raw materials gained per unit of ore was very high, much higher than in previous expansions. I think I have over 100 of each rare gem in my inventory, just left over from crafting the rings.

That combination of low demand and high supply drove gem prices very low, and made the profession very disappointing.

For solutions, on the demand-side, I would have liked to see a socket be the "first level" of titan-forging. If a piece of gear titan-forges, it always gets a socket. It may get additional bonuses after, but it starts with a socket. This would make the demand for gems higher and more consistent. In addition, it would also smooth out the power of titan-forging. Socketed pieces were generally considered better than 10-15 extra item levels.

Another idea is to allow jewelcrafters (or maybe blacksmiths) to make an item which adds a socket to a weapon. Like Ramaladni's Gift from Diablo 3. This would also make it a little easier to use the main stat gems for hybrid classes, as weapons don't often share primary stats in endgame.

On the supply-side, simply produce less raw materials per ore. Also instead of having special colors that weren't used for stat gems, have those recipes use two or more regular gems.

Jewelcrafting in Battle For Azeroth was a disappointing profession. Let's hope that Shadowlands makes it more useful.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Ahead of the Curve: N'Zoth

My guild killed Heroic N'Zoth a couple of weeks ago. Here's some screenshots of us celebrating with the mount:
Group photo at Proudmoore Keep

Parade in Boralus
It's a really nice mount, an excellent reward for the last boss of the expansion.

Ny'alotha, The Waking City, itself was a good raid. Having the raid entrance switch between zones was very weird and very fitting. The fights were pretty good. There weren't any clear-cut outstanding fights, though.

I did like the ending cutscene. Blizzard incorporating your character into the capstone event of the expansion was very well done.

If I have a complaint about Ny'alotha, it's that Heroic felt oddly easy. It was tuned correctly, but the Heroic-only mechanics didn't really change anything. If you master the fight in Normal, you've mastered the fight in Heroic. About the only real difference is that in Heroic, multiple people have to do mechanics, while in Normal, you can have the stronger members of your team carry the rest of the group. For example, soccer in Dark Inquistor Xanesh or the lower realm in N'Zoth. You didn't have to learn the fight again.

As an aside, "soccer" in Xanesh is a misleading term. "Billiards" or "pool" is a better and more intuitive description of how the mechanic works.

Ny'alotha, The Waking City, was a pretty solid raid to end the tier. It was not as good as Battle For Dazar'lor, but it was on par with Eternal Palace. Blizzard should put some more effort into mechanically differentiating Normal and Heroic versions of the fights. The point of raiding is to wipe, and slowly master the new encounters. But there was very little wiping in Heroic Ny'alotha.

On the whole, I think Jaina Proudmoore was the best raid fight this expansion. A superb encounter, and quite fitting for the expansion.