Thursday, April 29, 2010

PUGs = Grrr......

I do not like PUG'ing.  Plain and simple.  I feel forced to do it in order to advance (see getting badges for better gear).  I have groups where the run is smooth, everyone knows their role, we communicate, and if mistakes occur, we're cool about it.  Unfortunately, I'm finding groups like that more and more difficult to find.  What I run into now are impatient players who ridicule others for lack of skill/mistakes.  A prime example came last night in heroic Utgarde Keep.

I've run UK before.  It's an easy instance.  When the loading screen came up, I breathed a sigh of relief (it wasn't Oculus).  Should be a piece of cake, right?  WRONG! The tank was having difficulty holding aggro.  As a result, random mobs would come at myself and other players.  To the tanks credit, he was able to pull them back in.  The problem came with the first boss.  More specifically, the room with the first boss.

The tank pulls a trash mob wandering by the boss.  Somehow, the boss got pulled too.  Party wipes.  No worries I think to myself, we'll just try again.  Here's where the party starts to fail.  One of the players starts making sarcastic comments, and trying to place blame on the boss pull. I roll my eyes, thinking to myself this is ridiculous.  We'll just do it again and move on.

We try it a second time.  Same result.  One of the players comments how the tank was in DPS gear (probably didn't want to wait in que). That's never a good sign, and would explain the tank's performance.  Tank leaves party.  New tank comes in, and a couple of party members proceed to mock the previous tank's performance (after running instances and seeing the abuse the tank gets from party members, I'm NOT dual-spec'ing my pally to tank).

The third time really was a charm this time around.  The tank pulled the remaining trash mobs. Cleared them, then took on the boss.  We defeated the boss, but I noticed one of the players was dead.  Apparently, he was frozen tombed.  I should have noticed, and I will take blame for it, as my situatational awareness was focused on the boss and clearing the skeleton mobs.  Once again, more sarcastic comments (though they never used expletives except for one time after the inadvertent boss pull).

As I've grown used to doing when a party is full of jerks, I left the group.  There was a time when I used to put up with the sarcasm and jerks so I can complete the run.  Not anymore.  Sure, did I waste 15 - 20 minutes plus however long waiting to get into que, only to not finish the run?  Perhaps, but I usually use that waiting time to complete dailies and organize the stuff in my bank.  However, as the case was last night, I lost the chance to get frost badges (I'm only four away from my next gear upgrade).  I didn't have the time to wait around another 15 minutes, and spend another 15 to 30 minutes running something. 

The party last night highlights why I don't care to PUG.  I have no qualms with players who make mistakes, and I am very patient with other players who may be learning how tank, heal properly, etc.  I was, and to a point, still in that boat myself.  I admit I have been frustrated at times with tanks who couldn't hold aggro at all, or healers who were slow to heal, but if they communicated they were learning, or seem to be making an effort, I'm okay with it.  A little communication goes a long way.

You never really know what you're going to get in PUG's.  I've been in PUGs where nobody talks to each other, but we clear the run in ten minutes because the players are so good.  I've been in PUGs where the players were good, but were bickering amongst themselves over stupid stuff like gear and repairs.  I've been in PUGs where the players were pretty much all on par with skill and gear, and I've been in PUGs like last night.  Ideally, the best PUGs for me are with players of similar skill and gear, communicate with each other, and not take wiping seriously.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Go There Wolf...

As I've commented on previous blogs, I'm figuring out the mechanics of the hunter class in WoW.  A key component I realized, and I'm a tad embarrassed to say quite recently, is pet control.  Pets are indeed useful to hunters, but they can cause trouble too, which I've learned.  If there's anything good to come out of the LFG tool besides badges, it's that it allows players to learn things about their class they never thought about while soloing.

As I was questing along (I didn't even do 5-man instances until I got to the high 70s), I always had my pet on defensive mode, with growl turned on, because I didn't know any better.  As long as I was able to kill x number of boars or go speak with this NPC, it was all good.  I got the job done.  I didn't die.  I completed the quests and received my rewards.

Flash forward to a normal UP and heroic Nexus run a few weeks ago.  I had been running in PUGs, but nobody ever commented on what my pet was doing.  I let the tank pull the mobs, and once the tank was in place, I fired away, with my pet charging in.  In the Nexus run, I had my pet in defensive mode, and yes, with growl on.  The pet pulled a trash mob, and of course, a player in party made some helpful comment to effect of "the huntard pulled the mob".

That incident made me think of how I was controlling my pet during these runs.  So I put the pet on passive for subsequent runs, but still sending the pet in when it seemed it wouldn't be able to pull anything.  In the UP run, I was wrong.  I didn't think to turn growl off, so of course, the pet generated threat, and pulled another trash mob.  Once again, a player in the party made some sarcastic comment akin to "nice pull hunter". 

After those experiences, I keep my pet on passive 90% of the time while running an instance.  In boss fights, I'll let the pet go in.  Of course, growl is off!  I've been doing this the past couple weeks, and I was surprised the other party members didn't comment as to why I never send the pet in!  After browsing forums on this topic, I found other players put their pet in passive in instance runs too.  Of course, after the run is over, I put my trusty wolf back on defense, and turn growl back on when I'm questing.  

While I wasn't exactly happy about the way I was called out running the instances with my pet, it was a learning experience, so in an odd way I'm thankful for them being jerks.  It really hit home that I didn't think much of pet control, and hence, became a little more educated with the hunter class.  When I run instances now, I'm more comfortable as to when to use the pet, and when to keep it a spectator.  I haven't had any complaints yet!

It's All About the Gear Baby (Maybe)

Though my hunter hit 80 four months ago, I'm STILL gearing him up.  Some people I know who hit 80 after I did are all geared and running ICC.  The delay?  I got bored with playing that toon, and spent a couple months working on a paladin I started.  I also didn't run any random instances because of the jerk factor I encountered.  I play games for fun.  Random PUGs when I was a fresh 80 were not fun for me.  At the time though, I didn't really understand the proper gear stats for my toon, and from playing solo through most of the game, there was a lack of skill factor.  I began to think I'd be better off leaving the hunter behind and working on the paladin, which I was enjoying greatly...

Anyway, a coworker who playes encouraged me to give the hunter toon a chance.  So I did.  Along the way I did actual research on the hunter class, worked on my attack rotation, pet control, and...gear.  My gear was a mismash of bad stats, so I began to focus on getting badges to upgrade gear with agility, attack power, and crit.  Before, I was equipped with gear that had bonus strength and stamina (apparently I thought I was going to be a tank).  I even had a couple items with spell power bonuses...Yeah, it was bad!

That's a quick background story for my toon.  I began running normal Northrend instances to get familiar with them, and to work on getting my playing skill up. I also ran them with my coworker and people on my friends list to make me feel more confident in PUGs. Once I became comfortable with what I was doing, I put myself in heroics.  Sure, I made mistakes here or there (see forgetting to turn off pet growl), but my dps was no longer the subject of PUG taunting and criticism.  Of course, with feeling more confident with PUG'ing, I began running more of them (though I usually only have time for one a play session).  I had some boss drops that were item level 200 that I needed on because they had the proper stats for my hunter, and hence improved dps.  I was on my way.

I ended up accumulating some gear I purchased with triumph and valor emblems, and last night I purchased a chest piece in AH, as it is one of the best hunter chest pieces I could find.  I could use frost emblems for a better one, but I'm saving my frost for a level 264 cloak.  Frost emblems for a non-raider seem to take forever to grind, so I'm going the easiest route possible. 

As of now, most of my items are level 200 or above, except for the boots, and trinkets (I still have a green trinket).  I'm hoping a trinket upgrade drops for me in the Trial of the Champion instance.  On the priority scale, trinkets are at the bottom for me.  My dps numbers are decent now.  They won't blow anyone out of the water, or get me in ICC raids, but I hold my own.  I use a certain shot rotation that I feel works for me, though I sometimes wonder if I can tweak it even more.  My next test will be my next run.  I equipped the chest piece, gemmed and enchanted it.  My attack power went up by 150, hit rating increased by 20, and critical strike increased as well.  I'd be interested in seeing the numbers I pull.

I hear and read debates on gear versus skill.  I'm in the camp that it's a bit of both.  A player may be in all epic purples, but put out mediocre dps numbers because they may not have figured out how to play their class.  Or, they could be in a mixture of purple and blue gear, but put out good dps numbers because they know the proper mechanics of the class, have useful macros, etc.  From what I've experienced as I've been gearing up, my numbers do go up with better gear equipped, with using the same shot rotation.  I'd be willing to bet if I was still relying just on auto-shot using vendor ammo (I admit it), with the gear I have now, my damage output would probably still bring on the taunting and criticism.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The $25 Pony

I know I'm a tad late to the party regarding this, but Blizzard added a couple items to their pet store.  I rolled my eyes, and logged into the game.  Walking around Dalaran, I saw a slew of players sitting on ponies that were sparkling.  I rolled my eyes, but this time with a feeling of rage knowing Blizzard can get away with adding these things to the pet store, milking their player base.  Some players apparently don't see a problem with paying Blizzard more money in addition to the monthly subscription costs and and for the game itself.  But hey, it is their money.   

My friend, who doesn't play and I had breakfast over the past weekend.  He told me he could see Blizzard adding gear with extra stat bonuses to the store that players could pay for.  While I responded that I don't see that happening, I seriously can't rule out that possibility, especially considering I see so many people on these new mounts.  If Blizzard can milk the player base like this, and if it is successful, who knows what they'll do next.  My friend proceeded to ask me what I would do if Blizzard were to impliment adding gear you can only purchase with real money.  My simple answer: I'd quit.

Call me cheap, but I pay $15 a month to play the game, add in the actual game and expansions, and I feel I'm giving Blizzard enough of my money.  Items such as mounts should be earned with in-game currency and awards.  If they want to add a pony that sparkles as a mount, make it a rare one and have players earn it, and not turn over $25 for it.  I have a feeling Blizzard will continue to add to this store.  The fact I see so many players on my server riding this new mount adds confirmation to my feeling, but only time will tell.

If players want to spend the money for some mount that will probably mean nothing in a few years, or whenever WoW either goes away or becomes irrelevant, that is their choice.  As long as Blizzard doesn't charge for content that affects tangible gameplay elements (gear, quests, etc.), then I can live with them adding to their pet store, though I may not like it just the same.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Return of DtheDark?

DtheDark was the first toon I created close to a year and a half ago on the Grizzly Hills server.  He is an undead warlock.  I thought a warlock was a fitting class for an undead, or as I like to call it, zombie magic caster.  I didn't do too much with him.  Did some quests, got to level 34 about a year ago, and basically stopped playing him, instead favoring a hunter I created, which became my main.  As of just a few days ago, I thought of deleting him, but with Cataclysm on the way, I'd like to level a toon on the horde side before the expansion hits.  I also want to play on another server for a bit.  My two other toons are on Thunderhorn.  I'd like to see how the people are on GH.  While I'm sort of exciting about the prospect of running him out again, He's going to need some work to be an effective warlock.

For starters, being my first toon, and playing entirely solo outside of helping someone on a quest here and there, I didn't have a chance to learn how to play a warlock.  As a result, while he is mainly spec'd for destruction, his talent tree is going to be completely redone.  If I'm not mistaken, the talent points for that toon aren't spread out properly to achieve maximum DPS.  I just picked talents that seemed cool.  Perhaps they had some benefit.  Perhaps not...

The next area that needs work is gear. At level 34, he has two white vendor trash pieces!  The rest of the gear is okay, albeit not great.  First and foremost obviously is to upgrade those white pieces.  They don't provide any attribute bonus. 

On a note that relates to the previous!  DtheDark is broke.  I never really thought to use auction house, and vendored everything.  He may have two gold?  It's been a while since I last logged onto him, so I really don't know.  He does have skinning as a profession, so I can put some lower level leather pieces on AH that I don't need for tailoring (the first change I made) to get some money.

There's also the LFG system.  When I started DtheDark, leveling was a slower process, and geting groups to run instances was nearly impossible.  With LFG, he can find a group to run with.  I know his DPS numbers are going to be, well...let's say not great, but if I can get an item from the Satchel of Useful Goods that can benefit me, and some money you get as well, why not?

Can DtheDark roam out of the Undercity after a year?  Can I make him an effective warlock?  Can he be redeemed?  It may be difficult, but I think it is possible.  He's only level 34, so it is not too late for me to fix up the mistakes I made with him.  It may take awhile though, but it can be done.  It won't hurt to try.  As mentioned, I'd like to experience the horde quests, and experience a different server environment, perhaps make some new friends along the way. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Personal Opinion on WoW

I'm sitting on the cliched fence right now regarding WoW. I played a little last night, going after some achievements, when I felt I wasn't having fun. That's right. I was playing a computer video game, and not enjoying it. I could explain this off by saying perhaps I was in a bad mood, or I was bored with nothing else to do, so I logged in to play and kill time. However, I feel more blah when playing WoW than excited. The question I ask myself is, "why"?

I think one issue I have is I leveled my main to 80, and realized it all becomes a gear quest game, or so it seems. I'm working on upgrading my toon's gear, but it is not a big priority. I'll upgrade the pieces when I get around to it. I could have enough badges to upgrade a piece next week, or next month. It doesn't matter to me. However, it seems with many other players, it does, which leads to a whole other, yet somewhat related issue...

"Elitist" players running heroics. While my overall experience in PUG groups has been good, there have been a few where players complain about either another another player in the party, or myself. I don't really have that issue any longer due to some gear upgrades, but really? Just because you're all in epics, getting 3-6k DPS, doesn't mean all the other players in the party are. Many players running heroics are still in blues, and even some quest greens. I know that the elitist player wants to blast through the run as quickly as possible, but please show some patience to other players who are just starting to experience the heroics, and not sour them on it.

The next is the social elements of end game. I may have touched on this in an earlier post. One of the reasons I enjoyed leveling was the social element of some of the guilds I was in. They were mainly leveling guilds, and the players were friendly, sharing their time to assist other players when asked, and just in general sharing the leveling experience. Come end game, that seems to change. Some players who I befriended along the way...I kind of lost. They either stopped logging in for reasons unknown, or they geared up to begin raiding, met fellow raid-minded players, and moved on to that.

Overall, I'm at a crossroads with not only my main toon, but my desire to continue to play WoW. I don't have intentions of seriously raiding with that toon, so what am I going to do when I do finally gear it up? Do I stay with my current guild, which is overall quiet, and focuses on leveling and arena matches, or take a risk and find another guild that meets my social needs? One that gives me a chance to assist other players, while attempting a raid or two with more advanced players?

Overall, the excitement to play WoW just isn't there for me anymore. When I do log in, more often than not I feel like a zombie running the same routine over, and over, and over again. The questions I ask myself are why do I continue to play? What's holding me to the game? Could I be experiencing burnout? How in the world do other players have multiple toons at 80, while it's a chore for me to get even two to that point, including the fact Blizzard made leveling faster?

Those are all questions I need to answer for myself while I continue to sit on the fence.

Mixed Thoughts on WoW Achievements

This past weekend was Easter, and the weather was beautiful, so I didn't spend too much time on WoW. When I did play, I took a break from running heroics for badges to obtain better gear. Instead, I worked on getting some achievements that I've been real close to getting, but didn't push myself for those final couple tasks to push me over the edge. Some achievements I earned included having 10 mounts, the knuckle sandwich achievement (450 unarmed skill), the scavenger achievement, 100 Dalaran cooking awards, the Dalaran fountain fishing one, and being able to represent Ironforge in the Argent Tournament. Oh, toss in a couple of the Noblegarden world event achievements as well for good measure.

Those were some of the simple achievements. I tend of focus ones that are a good fit for playing solo, but I'm starting to run out those. Currently, I have 53 out of 75 profession achievements. There are some I could do solo, such as completing the different cooking dailies in Outland, and the 100 cooking receipes (currently at 96). However, after that, what can I look forward to going after? Some of these other achievements, such as fishing up the turtle mount, are too time consuming for me.

Working on getting these achievements is almost akin to other players running heroics for their emblems to upgrade gear. Once you have your gear upgraded, what's next? I feel the same way about achievements. That system is one of the few reasons why I still log in and play. They allow me to play solo, but still allow me to feel I'm progressing my character. At this point, I could work on PvP achievements, but I don't care for PvP. There are dungeon ones I can earn I guess, but don't feel much of an urge to run vanilla and Burning Crusade instances for them.

There are definitely still other achievements I can earn. I have to ask myself though, am I willing to put in the time to get them? Do I even care enough at this point to try to go after them? Would all of this matter anyway in the inevitable future when WoW either doesn't exist, or matter as much any more?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goals Before Cataclysm

The next WoW expansion, Cataclysm will be here before we know it. That got me to thinking of goals I have for my toons before I get the expansion (I won't be one of the people hanging outside Best Buy on launch night btw). No doubt other players are trying to cover as much of the current content as they can before Cataclysm releases. In my case, with spring now here, and the weather improving, my focus on playing on WoW is going to drop until late autumn, so that may not happen. Anyway, here are some goals I have for my toons.

Crazyd the Hunter
Currently, I'm working on gearing up my hunter. Though I dinged 80 over three months ago, I started another toon for awhile to take a break from this one. On the hunter, I'd like to:
  • Get him geared up as much as possible. This is the main one. I've been running heroics the past couple weeks to earn badges. I've gotten some drops along the way too, but I have aways to go still.
  • Exalted reputations. I want to get as many of the Northrend factions to exalted as possible. So far, I'm on the right track. I have a few at exalted already, with several more at revered. Once the new expansion hits, there's going to be new factions to gain rep for, and the Northrend ones will probably fall to the backburner.
  • Achievements. Last night I earned the Knuckle Sandwich achievement. I wanted to get that out of the way, because apparently it's going to be gone in Cataclysm. There are miscellaneous small achievements such as the Dalaran fountain fishing achievement, etc.

Those are the main goals for the hunter. I would also like, if time allows, to go back to the Burning Crusade content and do stuff there. I sort of burned through it, skipping quests in multiple zones, and overall disregarding that content for the WotLK as soon as I got the appropriate level.

Magphloin, my paladin, is currently at level 47, questing in Tenaris. My main goal for that toon is to hit 80, or to at least clear as much of the vanilla content as possible before it all changes, but we'll see. I'm not going to go after so many achievements and titles on him like I did with Crazyd. Achievements, while fun, take a lot of time and effort. Magphloin is my experiment on melee DPS and learning to work with other players.

So those are some of the goals I have before Cataclysm. As mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I'm probably not going to rush to the store to by it when it releases, but do plan on getting it at some point. Between now and then, I want to get as much out of the game as possible so when I do finally get the expansion, I can focus my efforts on that content.