Sunday, February 28, 2021

Heroic Sludgefist Down!

So last raid night we were working on Heroic Sludgefist. Our raid leader used Exorsus Raid Tools to make this neat note with a list of healer cooldowns and the time to use them. What was particularly cool is that times in the note would count down as the fight went on. Then they would grey out as the time went past. So you'd see the who the next CD was, and how long it would take.

Still, though, Sludgefist was pretty hard. The thing is that almost every death is from chains in some fashion, so every death actually takes out two people. It's also a fight where it comes down to whether you have enough people survive to the end. We had some heart-breaking wipes. We wiped at 5%, 2%, and 1%, among others.

Finally on our very last attempt of the night we got him down. We had most people survive past the fourth pillar, and that was enough to kill him even as we lost many people in that last phase. I was chained to another healer in that phase, and we both moved in opposite directions and broke the chain. Must have given our raid leader a heart attack to lose half the healers at the very end of the fight. Luckily, the raid was able to hang on for another 30 seconds and kill him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Diablo 3 Follower Revamp

In a complete surprise, Diablo 3 is revamping Followers next patch:

Follower System Revamp: The Follower system for Diablo III has been revamped and will be made permanently available for Seasonal and Non-Seasonal play! Players can now equip Followers with a total of 14 different item slots which include the Follower Relic Item, Helm, Shoulders, Chest, Gloves, Bracers, Belt, 2 Rings, Neck, Pants, Boots, main-hand weapon, and off-hand. We're introducing a new Follower feature into Diablo III called Emanate, which allows the player to gain the intended effect of certain Legendary Powers and Set Bonuses when equipped on the hired Follower.

It's a pretty big buff to solo play, as well as getting a lot of use out of secondary or utility items. Blizzard is also revamping many of the Follower abilities.

As someone who plays D3 solo, I'm quite looking forward to the next patch. The only real issue remaining with followers is that it is difficult to use a follower with a different main stat than yours. D3 loot revamp meant that if you're a Strength class, most of the loot that drops for you is Strength. Personally, I like using a follower which is different, like Crusader + Enchantress, so gearing them well is always a pain.

The most amusing thing about this change is how it took the forums completely by surprise. It's a bigger change than expected for such an old game with 2 new entries on the horizon.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Diablo IV Rogue Reveal

At Blizzcon, Blizzard revealed the fourth class in Diablo IV: the Rogue.

The Rogue is your typical Dexterity-based character. Interestingly enough, it covers both ranged and melee, making it unlikely we'll see another class focused on one type. I think it looks pretty good, with a nice back-to-basics vibe, rather than something exotic.

The classes previously revealed are Barbarian, Druid and Wizard. So naturally enough, everyone is speculating about the fifth class. The two big archetypes missing are the heavy plate wearer with a shield, or a summoner class.

I'm hoping for the Paladin, or a similar class like Crusader or Templar. Alternatively, I'd like something new. Though not a Death Knight variant. So far Blizzard is playing it really safe with Diablo IV, and I would like to see at least a little bit of innovation.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Chains of Domination Trailer

Not a huge amount announced at Blizzcon this year. For WoW, we got the trailer for Patch 9.1: Chains of Domination.

So it looks like Anduin is being controlled by the Jailer into a quasi-Death Knight. The Covenants will be going on the offensive, attacking the Maw. The new raid will be attacking the Sanctum of Domination in Torghast. There's also a new long Mythic dungeon like Karazhan or Mechagon.

Nothing unexpected, but it all looks pretty decent.

Regarding the story, and Anduin being mind-controlled, I was amused to recall the start of Pandaria. In the Jade Forest questline, Anduin mind-controls Sully into letting him escape. Maybe a touch of karma there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Short Raid Night

Apparently WoW is having server issues as we were having odd lag and delays during the raid tonight. Regardless we did the skip in Normal, killing the last bosses, and then went on to Heroic.

We got up to Lady Inerva, and then saw the dreaded "Server Restart in 15:00". So we pulled her.

Luckily the fight went well, we got her down on the first attempt. We looted quickly, ran out of the instance and logged out.

It looks like the servers will be offline for a while, so we called the raid early. None the less, we are in a good position for our next raid night. Hopefully this will translate into a lot of time to practice Sludgefist.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Slide Into the Void

I came across a really well done fan music video for Remedy's Control. It's by The Stupendium, called Slide Into the Void:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Heroic Xy'mox and Council of Blood Down!

 Two new Heroic bosses down this week! We killed both Xy'mox and Council of Blood for the first time.

Xy'mox was pretty funny. We started the attempt with a hunter misdirecting onto our top healer, getting a critical aimed shot, and Xy'mox killing the priest instantly, who then had to be battle-ressed. But after that, the fight settled down and we went through phase 1 and 2 really well, lost some people in phase 3, but had enough alive to finish him off. No fuss was made, as half the raid (including me) thought we had already killed him last week, but we had only gotten into phase 3.

Council of Blood took a few attempts, mostly to handle the partner mechanic properly. We did it in a slightly different order than Normal, going Stavros-Niklaus-Frieda, so that we got rid of the partner mechanic first.

Otherwise it was much the same as Normal, only with 2 more dance steps and adds for the ranged to kill in the second phase.

Then we tried Sludgefist and got wrecked a lot. It will probably take some time to handle the new chain mechanic. We have an unfortunate amount of people who kept using speed boosts on that part.

Still, now we're 7/10. We really need to look at shortening our time in Normal now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Return of Valor Points

Yesterday Blizzard announced that in the upcoming Patch 9.0.5, Valor points will make a return in Mythic Keystone dungeons and allow you to upgrade Mythic Keystone gear.

I have mixed feelings about this.

The one really good thing about Mythic Keystones is that there is a constant push to do higher and higher Keystones. Better gear from the dungeons, better gear from the Vault, a higher score so you will be accepted into better groups, everything pushes you to keep climbing.

That is actually pretty rare historically. Whenever quality of reward scales with difficulty in repeatable content, players target the highest difficulty they can do. However, whenever quantity of reward scales with difficulty in repeatable content, players instead go after the easiest content they can do quickly, optimizing for reward per unit time. And Valor is pure quantity of reward.

We saw this every time Valor was introduced previously, from Mechanar onwards. We see it in Diablo III, where players farm the easiest Torment they can do in 5 minutes instead of the difficult ones.

The worst thing that can happen to Mythic Keystone dungeons is if players stop pushing high keys, and start running low keys incessantly just to get Valor quickly.

I think the Torghast model of rewarding Soul Ash might be a good fit. Let's say you get a 100 Valor per level of Mythic Keystone. So if you do a +2, you get 200 Valor, a +6 is 600 Valor, and so on. If you did a low level and then a high level, you only get the difference. So you only need to do the high level. You could do it for each dungeon, like Torghast does for each wing, encouraging people to get a spread of high keys.

I guess we'll see what model Blizzard goes with. But from my point of view, Valor points are dangerous, encouraging a spammy, non-challenging playstyle which brings out the worst in the playerbase.

Monday, February 08, 2021

FFXIV: Endwalker Announced

To the Moon! Apparently that's a tradition in the Final Fantasy series. 

The trailer is a bit opaque, as the main thrust of the story is more that it finishes the major Zodiark/Hydaelyn story that has been ongoing since launch. Apparently a new story will start with Patch 6.1. As well, I think what's actually going on is a bit murky in-game.

The new class is Sage, which looks like some sort of sci-fi Healer. I understand it will be a shield healer along with Scholar. Meanwhile Astrologian will be reworked to be closer to White Mage as a regular healer, giving two of each type.

There's another new class as well, but it will be revealed in May. I believe the expansion proper is launching in September.

Truthfully, though, I haven't played FFXIV since 5.3, so I'm probably not up-to-date on what is happening. On the one hand, it probably would be good to finish the complete story. On the other hand, I don't really like the current main villain, Zenos. I wish he had stayed dead in Stormblood.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Heroic Sun King Down!

It was our Heroic raid night, so we continued on from where we left off. We recleared fairly quickly and then settled down to practice Sun King.

Heroic Sun King is a lot more, well finicky might be the best word, than Normal. It seems to want pretty precise timing on things, as we try to transition phases at just the right time. We're doing a strategy where we move Kael down the sides of the room, side-stepping out of the cone and fire blast. Overall it works pretty well, though it took a fair number of tries before we were able to get out of that phase without too many deaths.

In the end though, we killed healed him up and beat the fight. 5/10 Heroic!

Then we moved on to Xy'Mox. I think we figured out phase 1 and phase 2 on heroic, so we just have to get the timing right on phase 3. We only got past phase 2 on our last try of the night. I think if we get a decent amount of time on him next week, we'll get him down.

In some ways this is the weirdest part of the raid tier. We have to decide on when we should drop Normal so that we can get enough time to focus on the last half of Heroic.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Gaming Log - February 2

Raid night again. We went through Castle Nathria Normal fairly quickly, with only 1 wipe on Sludgefist. We even had a flawless Sire Denathrius, where everyone did mechanics correctly and no one died. Pretty solid raid, all in all.

I got a i207 trinket off Denathrius which replaced my lowest piece of gear, an i184 trinket. The old trinket did have Leech on it, which is why I kept it for so long. Otherwise I did not get anything from the Vault. All three pieces were sidegrades or downgrades. I probably should have done a Mythic Keystone last week though. Oh well, I picked up the extra Stygia, which I expect I will lose by accidentally dying in some unreachable part of Perdition's Hold in the Maw.

Otherwise I'm mostly working on trying to get caught up on Renown on my paladin. I got 3 Renown from the raid, which unlocks more of the story. The plan is to finish that off this week, hopefully.

Oh, I also got the Chinese New Year mount today, the golden bull. I forgot I had a 6-month subscription. It's actually quite well done and looks very good. Not like the Bastion mounts which have a wider back than normal. My Paladin's legs stick out straight way to the sides, kind of like a Barbie doll forced on the back of toy creature. Looks wrong and rather painful, so I'm sticking with the Legion Highlord charger.