September 28, 2011

Patch 4.3 Achievements (Or, The Darkmoon Timesink)

Just a quick roundup of the new achievements datamined from the PTR:

Darkmoon Faire
Blastenheimer Bullseye
Come One, Come All!
Darkmoon Defender
Darkmoon Despoiler
Darkmoon Dominator
Darkmoon Duelist
Darkmoon Dungeoneer
Faire Favors
Fairgoer's Feast
I Was Promised a Pony 
Quick Shot
Step Right Up
Taking the Show on the Road
The Darkmoon Faire Timesink arrives in patch 4.3 - I wouldn't rule out a meta achievement at this early stage. Call it a hunch but I also think that the cannon achievement will require more skill than luck. Darn it.

Dragon Soul/New 5-mans
Minutes to Midnight
Moon Guard
That's Not Canon!
It's hard to know much about getting these until the NPCs and their abilities get datamined out, or people report from the PTR. I'm hoping to get some PTR time in next week so in the name of SCIENCE I will investigate!

Lunar Festival
Elders of Cataclysm
That's 9 more elders to find! I have my work cut out finishing this meta when January arrives.

Midsummer Fire Festival
Extinguishing the Cataclysm
Extinguishing Northrend
Flame Warden of Cataclysm
Flame Warden of Northrend
All the bonfires could already be found in game (see here for co-ordinates), but didn't have any related achievements this year. Looks like next year I'll be doing them again for the points!

Winter Veil
A-Caroling We Will Go
We get to go caroling? I'm kind of excited, even if my thanks comes in the form of certain death. It looks like the sweater will be our under-the-tree present for 2011 but don't panic, carolers! Winter Veil will run from 15th December right through till 2nd January. Plenty of time to go regale the Horde (or Alliance, if you're so inclined) with our melodious tunes.

Feats of Strength
Gaudy Winter Veil Sweater (2011 Winter Veil Present)
MiniZep Controller (2010 Winter Veil Present)
Red Rider Air Rifle (2009 Winter Veil Present)
Vicious Gladiator (Season 9 Arena Title)
Vicious Gladiator's Twilight Drake (Season 9 Mount)

So there are 215 new achievement points up for grabs. This is just the start of datamining efforts and I expect we'll see a lot more uncovered as the PTR goes on. I'll be keeping this list updated and current as they appear so let me know if I've missed a new one at any point and I'll send you virtual cookies. They're absolutely 100% as tasty as real ones, if not better!

September 20, 2011

Brewfest Update

Due to the arduous few weeks spent moving flats (we're done now, thankfully!), work commitments and the arrival of my new nephew, I haven't had time to write a Brewfest guide.

Look at him! There's no way I could get a guide written!
I'm a bit sad that it hasn't happened this year, but there are some great guides out there if you're looking for help:

Brewfest Guide at Wowhead
The Overachiever: Guide to Brewfest at WoW Insider
Brewfest Guide at Icy Veins

Do you know of any other great guides? Drop me a comment below, or catch me via email/Twitter and let me know. If I'm not going to write my own, I can at least round up all the fantastic guides out there for you to read! As always I'm happy to answer any questions I can :)

September 17, 2011

Frostcake the Death Knight

I made a Forsaken Death Knight called Frostcake on EU-Draenor (it's a PvE realm) as chosen by Twitter polls a few days ago. Thanks to all of you who voted! She'll be taking up mining and engineering (goggles are awesome) and I'll be asking Twitter to make some levelling decisions for me (potentially risky but more fun). It's about time I stopped making Alliance alts with full heirlooms and ready supplies of gold!

Ready to go!

September 14, 2011

The Nerfbat Is Not My Biggest Worry

This week, Blizzard announced that they would be nerfing Tier 12 content soon:
With the final showdown against Deathwing approaching, we’ve been keeping a close eye on players’ progress through the current Firelands raid content. Before patch 4.3 is released, we want groups who are working on Heroic-difficulty content to be able to get as close to Ragnaros as possible, and we want players who are tackling normal progression to be able to experience as many of the encounters as they can. To achieve these goals, we’ll be toning down the difficulty of both normal and Heroic raids through hotfixes in the coming weeks. In general, we plan to reduce health and damage of all raid bosses in both normal and Heroic Firelands by around the same percentage we brought difficulty down for the original Cataclysm raids when Rage of the Firelands (patch 4.2) was released.
We’re looking forward to seeing more groups of players face off against the firelord in the weeks ahead. However, before we make these changes, we want to give everyone a final shot at the bosses at their current difficulty level — so this is a heads up that we’re planning to apply the difficulty hotfixes beginning the week of September 19.
Stay tuned to the Patch 4.2 Hotfixes blog for these and other live updates to the game as they happen.
Surprisingly (to me as well) this really got my back up. So humour me while I try to get my thoughts out in a coherent way.

My guild started raiding during this expansion. We've always been late to start - Tier 11 in May, Tier 12 in July - but we've not regretted that for a moment. Raid nights are a social thing, a chance to do our best and down some bosses in the hopes of seeing all the content. We finished Tier 11 while progression guilds were starting Firelands but for each of the 5 bosses we downed post-nerf, we felt we could have cleared them without nerfs if we'd started sooner and had more time.

For Tier 12 we started late again as we were still finishing Tier 11, trying to get people head and shoulder tokens to gear up for Firelands. Our guild is 4/7 now, our last kill being Baleroc. That fight was beyond us the week before but we chained Zulroics, got whatever extra gear we could, fiddled with reforging and even made the leap to getting potions for everyone to pre-pot. Lower those eyebrows, progression raiders! Pre-potting was never necessary before! The next time we went to Baleroc we got him down. It took all of us to collectively push the limits of our gear and skill to get it but I honestly believe it was the best kill we've ever made. As a raid team we're starting to believe that we have what it takes to clear full, current raids and it's a great feeling.

None of us had foreseen nerfs while the content was still current though. We were sure that we could get to Ragnaros and kick his ass before Tier 13 hit. We have the dedication, skill, and patience but we just need a few more weeks of gear upgrades. Unless we get Alysrazor this week, we're left with the knowledge that those last three bosses will be post-nerf. I'm 100% sure that we could do it pre-nerf, if we had the rest of this tier to do it. Now we may never know.

Only Blizzard know how these hotfixes will be implemented. There's no clear statement to go on, only small clues:
"through hotfixes in the coming weeks"
which suggest a gradual change.

There's another option, in that case - one that doesn't involve nerfing bosses. Jasyla's post over at Cannot Be Tamed was a timely reminder that a previous method of making the raid content more accessible was introduced for Tier 10, the Icecrown Citadel raid. A 5% buff to player health, healing done and damage done was applied on March 2nd 2010, ramping up in 5% increments, with the final 30% buff coming into force on July 20th 2010. Admittedly, it's not likely that we have 5 months before 4.3 in which to mimic that idea but I honestly feel that this is a better solution than nerfing the bosses themselves. As Kurn says:
" a buff situation like the ICC buff, the onus is on the players to step it up"
I would prefer that. To kill the same boss as everyone else but to do it with a slight boost? Nothing wrong with that at all. It still requires you to have the skill and put the effort in. The element I like most about this method is that it would be optional. If you wanted to do the raid at full difficulty, you would simply turn it off. This solution seems perfect to me - a buff for players who were struggling (or had been too daunted to get started) and an option to do it a harder way for those who wanted to.

The biggest part of the nerf issue this expansion (in my humble opinion) is the lack of options. There's no way to do it un-nerfed if you wish to. You're forced to take those nerfs that you might not need and finish current content without knowing how far you could have got unaided. I don't understand why they opted for boss nerfs instead of players buffs during Cataclysm but it's highly likely I'm missing something, as I wasn't raiding back in Wrath. I do think that the lack of choice is really, really frustrating to a large group of the playerbase though, in a time when many of them have been playing for a number of years. At a time when other MMOs (I'm looking at you, Rift) are on the market and WoW isn't the only option of its genre anymore.

I understand accessibility, and I think it's great that people get to see content. At the same time I don't feel that this should come at the expense of those people who are already capable of seeing content as it is. Is it right to make it more fun for one group but less fun for another? I don't think it is. If Blizzard's goal is to get more people to Ragnaros is it really so crucial that this is done before the new raid even arrives? I don't think it is.

I'm a newer player, and no changes or nerfs to the game have ever made me think of quitting. The nerfs are not my main worry, although you'd be forgiven for thinking that if you've got this far. I read a lot of blogs, and the frustration, bewilderment and resentment radiates from posts by people who care a lot about this game. It seems that Blizzard is making unpopular decisions lately and it's hard to keep believing that they're for any other reason than keeping those subscriber numbers high.

I worry, because many of these recent decisions meant to increase accessibility are pushing away long-term players who bring a lot to the game and its community. These are the people I want to play this game with. This is the community I am happy to be making myself known in. As Oestrus said recently:
"We are losing people... We’re saying goodbye to friendships and memories and ties that we have formed with one another.  It’s more than just lost revenue and subscription numbers... These people have names and they have made contributions to the game and to the community."
If change after change drives these people away, people that write guides, theorycraft, share their advice and speak out for their class, the whole game will be poorer for it. Blizzard needs to find a way to improve the accessibility of content without taking some of the fun away for others and it needs to think about this sooner rather than later.

Brewfest Guide in the works!

Just a quick snippet of an update. I am planning to put together a Brewfest Guide for this year! It'll probably be this weekend once I've finished moving house. If you want a run-through of how to complete this meta (interspersed with my inner monologue) then check back in a few days!

September 12, 2011

Hunt for Tier Gear: Week 3

Ok, so doing a post per tier, per week? A silly idea. One of you could have said something...honestly! *tuts* idea scrapped! I think a weekly ramble about what I've looted is quite enough.

This afternoon I went with two guildies, shaman and priest, to vanquish bosses in Blackwing Lair & Molten Core. Not a single drop for me! I won a couple of nice-looking cloaks though, and there was also a quest to hand Nefarian's head in to Varian Wrynn. He seemed happy to take it, but the cleaning bill for my bag will be ridiculous.

Interesting note. That yell that goes out across Stormwind all the time, about mighty allies and defeating Nefarian? Turns out it's for that old quest in Blackwing Lair...not for defeating heroic mode T11 Nefarian like I thought...

Yep, I'm a noobcake.

We popped over to Outland too and ran Gruul & Magtheridon's Lairs. Karma was on my side after the lack of druid drops earlier, because I won a shoulder token. Which means...

Tier 4, baby! I like it even more now I've seen it in the flesh. There's a good chance I'll be transmogrifying to this set and some matching items when 4.3 hits.

September 05, 2011

Hunt for Tier Gear: Tier 4, Week 1

Tier 4 tokens drop from three different raids:
Head: Prince Malchezaar, Karazhan
Shoulders: Maulgar, Gruul's Lair
Chest: Magtheridon, Magtheridon's Lair
Hands: The Curator, Karazhan
Legs: Gruul, Gruul's Lair

The Tier 4 druid set for balance is the Malorne Regalia:
Courtesy of Wowpedia
I like the pale colours of this set, and the blue on the shoulders. It's a little unusual as druid tier sets go!

Last week one of my guildies put out a call in gchat for people to run Karazhan and for once, I wasn't busy. A chance at two Tier 4 tokens? Sign me up! I've also wanted to see inside Karazhan for ages because everyone who played in TBC times (no exceptions) absolutely raves about that raid. We did it with three of us - balance druid, blood DK and resto shaman. The chess event was an education for a first-timer like me! It's a beautiful place and I can imagine some fights were great fun back in the day.

Tier 4 tokens drop from three different raids:
Head: Prince Malchezaar, Karazhan
Shoulders: Maulgar, Gruul's Lair
Chest: Magtheridon, Magtheridon's Lair
Hands: The Curator, Karazhan
Legs: Gruul, Gruul's Lair

I was lucky enough to get both the tier tokens from Karazhan, as there's no Tier 4 for Death Knights! I figured that since we were on a roll, we'd go and do Gruul's Lair too. For that we had four of us - balance druid, resto shaman, unholy DK and shadow priest. I missed out on the shoulder token but won the leg token there. At that point, 3 pieces out of 5 felt pretty good! I persuaded the DK and priest to join me in Magtheridon's Lair, where I proceeded to pull a complete Leeroy and trap our priest outside the room...


Watching a DK solo Magtheridon slowly down through 3M HP was a hilarious experience, but I'll be waiting until we're all ready next time! Our priest scored a really pretty staff and passed the chest token to me in return, so that was 4 pieces out of 5 in a couple of hours. I'll be heading back to Gruul's Lair this week to try and pick up that shoulder token - it would be my first complete Tier set from the days of yore :D

Guys, go hunting for this older gear if you like the look of it. It's not hard to get your hands on and there are plenty of laughs to be had if you take some friends! Have you been back to any of the Tier 4 raids yet?