On Patch 5.1

So, it’s here.

And I find myself at a loss to say anything meaningful about the patch, other than to parrot my wife’s remark that Varian Wrynn makes a great pet, and that I’m happy those damned Lesser Charms are out of my bags and on a currency tab…

New gear, yeah. More dailies, fan-fucking-tastic. I’m really getting tired of the daily thing. I can see this being SOP for the rest of the expansion and beyond. Faction after faction, each one a new monster to feed, a new green bar to fill to get the next level of shinies. Although I do find the new Commendations to be a welcome change. My hunter should be up there with the Tillers and the Golden Lotus fairly quick-like.

Seriously, though, yay for soloable raids! Nerfed bosses and no group to get in, hallelujah! The hardest part is deciding where I want to go first, and on which toon. Could my 85 solo ICC? Could my 80 take down Nightbane for the cool shield? It’s going to be fun finding out.

To me, the most important part of any patch is class changes, and Bears got a doozy, a huge change to how we use Maul.

Notice I said Bears, not Guardians. I would prefer to use the term Feral, for that is what we are–feral. I was and am just as feral as any cat druid. “Guardian” makes me sound like I should be signing someone’s permission form before raid, just in case there’s an accident and Azuremyst Middle School doesn’t want to get sued because a gnome got eaten on the school trip to Gruul’s Lair.

It’s at this point that I’d like to point out that I in no way put myself up as an authority, a theorycrafter, or anyone who gets sexually aroused by a spreadsheet. There are many fine blogs out there that cater to those needs, and I’m happy to use them, just as you do. My “data” is observational and anecdotal. I’m a word person, which means numbers and I have a hate/hate relationship.

Some of you may remember that Maul used to be a nice filler attack, back when rage flowed like wine. I had it macroed to just about every attack on my bars. With the talent overhaul, Maul got pushed to the background. Suddenly, I had to use rage to stay alive with Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration. This meant that when I had generated a certain amount of rage, I had three choices about how to use it: more threat, SD, or FR.

I have to admit that I’ve only recently been making use of FR on a regular basis. I’m still in the mode that it is part of my oh-shit macro, only to be employed in the direst of situations. But it’s getting better. And it still makes me angry that bears have no way to significantly mitigate magic damage other than Barkskin and Survival Instincts, both of which have long enough cooldowns that bringing them into the rotation makes me worried. What if I need to time those for big damage later on? Will they be ready? Look at the abilities, and you’ll see that our bread-and-butter short cooldowns are mostly centered around physical damage, making swings miss or count for less damage. You’d be surprised, however, at how few raid bosses just hit the tank because they don’t know any magic.

Anyway, Maul costs 30 rage, which before 5.1 I would much rather have spent on a defensive cooldown, especially after it lost its threat bonus. After all, I can do much better with Swipe and Mangle. Post patch, a fourth option has been given to us. Using rage has become a minute-by-minute multiple choice exam…

Question 1: A raid boss boards a train in Honolulu and is bound for San Diego. He is moving at 88 MPH, and travels into the future to meet your raid 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, when everyone will actually show up. When the raid boss collides with you and you generate sufficient rage to use a defensive skill, you should _______________.

A. Spend a hefty 60 rage on FR to get back the health lost from that big hit
B. Spend 30 on Maul to make his next autoattack hit for less
C. Spend 60 on SD to get your dodge up
D. Use Barkskin/SI and hold off on the others until you “need them”.

You have .05 seconds to finish the exam.

Am I exaggerating? A little bit, but who wants to read the unadulterated facts all the time? How incredibly boring that would be. And by the way, my raid is quite good about being there on time…for the most part. I’m looking at you, Mash. Working, earning money, improving your quality of life and all that bullshit. Seriously fucked-up priorities, right?

I did some initial testing on all of this in LFR, and it pretty much panned out like I thought it would. Once I got stuck into a boss fight, I had plenty of rage, sometimes enough for both SD and Maul. But on trash I’d often find myself a bit rage starved, having to use it for a defensive (since nobody CCs) and coming up a bit short for threat generation.

Speaking of threat, both I and my warrior tanking buddy Blackbear have seen aggro issues since the patch. A guest paladin in raid this weekend was working his Salv button like it was earning him cash, and that’s not quite right, especially several minutes into the fight, when both of us had a good grip on the mobs. Maybe it’ll get sorted out in a hotfix, but I swear there’s some shenanigans going on–evil shenanigans. Patches are odd things; their inner workings baffle me. I remember a Wrath patch that broke Scarlet Monastery. How? HOW?! How can tinkering with current content affect a lowbie dungeon? Is WoW like Dunkin Donuts, made fresh every patch? It just doesn’t make sense…

Anyway, what do you think of the new patch? What do you like or not like? What odd things have you seen?

On The Parting of the Mists

So, Mists has been out for a while now. I’ve had time to evaluate the dungeons and get into the LFR system. And while I have had plenty of time, I’ve not actually done either of those things.

Why? I’ve been doing dailies.

Klaxxi dailies. Tillers dailies. Golden Lotus dailies. Son of a bitch, I haven’t even done my first set of Cloud Serpent dailies! And then there’s the Anglers, which I’ll eventually get to on my hunter.

This is my life, and it’s ending one daily at a time.

I was starting to think that this might be my favorite expansion, unseating Wrath from its throne in the cockles of my heart. Now, after endless rounds of blue exclamation marks, I ain’t so sure.

“Well, you don’t have to do all those dailies,” says Blizzard. “You could run dungeons if you wanted.”

Yes, but that’s not entirely true. When I’m in a dungeon, I’m not earning nearly a much as on dailies, where I get money, Valor points, and reputation which unlocks gear. In a random dungeon, all I get is somes Valors, the chance at gear, and a reaffirmation of my decision to consider everyone I meet in WoW to be socially retarded until I am pleasantly proven wrong:

[Asshatheals]: your welcome for being carried, btw
[Tankytwat]: Lolz at 20k deepz
[DoucheyMcDPS]: OMG gooooooooooooooo

I will be so very glad when the tourists and hardcores are tired of this expansion. Fuck all of you. Go play something else. Forget you own this game. Leave it to those sane, pleasant people who just want to enjoy themselves. Just fuck off and die. Oh, and your dad is tired of the Lunchables crumbs in his keyboard. Just FYI.

Where was I? Oh yes…

If I don’t do my dailies, I’m missing out. I’m not maximizing my potential. I’m not doing my best to prepare for raiding. I owe it to my raid to do my best, so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to WoW I go. But dailies just aren’t fun. They’re as close to work as a video game can get without being a FPS where you’re a human resources manager who upgrades his stapler by doing eight quarterly reviews in under five minutes.

Dailies really don’t bring out the best in people. Competition in a very limited space for a few mobs and spawns always makes people go all helpful and smile-on-your-brothery, right? Blizz wanted to ratchet up the tension between the Horde and Alliance, but quite frankly I despise more Alliance players on my server right now than Hordies! The Golden Lotus dailies are a prime example of this.

Clustering sets of dailies in a small area is indeed convenient, but it also creates tremendous pressure on the resources in that area. Look at Skyrange and those damn antelopes or gazelles or whatever the fuck kind of ungulate they are. With ten people up there trying to get their steaks or anuses or whatever from them, it’s a very frustrating experience. Or the mushan in the Dread Wastes, same thing there.

Was putting on a tabard and running some dungeons so wrong? One of my guildies said, “Ahhh, that’s lame. It doesn’t show dedication.”

Now listen here: I did 30 or so dungeons with puggers like the ones above. I have demonstrated my dedication.

Do I have more to bitch about? Why yes I do; thank you for asking.

The weapon and armor models are much more lackluster than I thought they would be. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected, but everything looks like it was once on sale at Pier 1 Imports, and that is definitely not what I expected. Burning Crusade had the best models, hands down. Time and time again, I find myself being drawn to those items, farming end bosses of dungeons God knows how many times, just to get that sexy sword or pair of shoulders. So far, I don’t see myself going back to Shado-Pan Monastery at level 100 for anything.

Is it all gloom and grinding toil? Is there nothing good about this expansion? Certainly not.

I can say that this is probably the prettiest expansion, edging out BC for sheer spectacle. The Great Wall is breathtaking, and Kun-Lai Summit makes me feel like I’m on top of the world much more than Northrend ever did. The heroics are tuned to a puggable level, not like Cataclysm, which I can say unequivocally was my least favorite expansion. The stories in Mists are fun and compelling, if at times a bit grindy. The pandaren are delightfully expressive and well put-together, though I don’t have one of my own. But mainly their cute little animations piss me off as I look at my night elf male’s Thriller dance and pathetic flipper hands.

Yeah, I’m grousy about it all, but it’s early yet, and Blizzard is proving much more responsive about difficulties than in the olden days, so maybe some pleasant changes will come along. I’m going to try to stay positive and keep an open mind.

We’ll see how long that resolution lasts…