Thursday, 30 July 2009
To summarize, the discussion came down to this: Blizzard’s new policy for WotLK has been ‘bring the player, not the class’. It is a push to make individual classes/specs less beneficial to a raid composition by making their buffs/abilities available to multiple groups. As a relatable example: if you want the 3% hit debuff to be placed on raid bosses you either have the option of bringing a Shadow Priest (providing Misery) or a Balance Druid (providing Improved Faerie Fire). The desire behind this is to prevent what was occurring more and more later into BC with ‘stacking’ certain classes and excluding others. The idea is good in theory in that it does not hinder anyone’s gaming experience simply because they did not choose to play the latest best class that people want to bring to the raids. However, Shaman have the advantage of still being the only class to provide providing BL/H which, in many player’s opinions, is too influential to an encounter.
The argument coming from the other camp is that there has to be limits to the homogenization that occurs in the game. What is the point of even having classes if there is no uniqueness to them? If everyone provides exactly the same thing the game will be walking a slippery slope to becoming too bland which leads to a boring, generic experience. BL/H is seen as an iconic shaman ability should not be shared with anyone else. (On a side note, I was surprised to find how a large number of people sharing this belief were non-shaman who just liked the uniqueness of the ability.)
Ghostcrawler came out saying that they did not design any of the hard modes around BL/H and that they do not believe that any 10 man hard mode encounter in unable to be accomplished without it. 25 man content is a different story, he continued, and thought that although the inclusion of a shaman in 25s was considered necessary it was not unreasonable; a point to which I have to agree. One shaman in a 25 man raid is hardly a big ask. Hell, I am lucky if I cast it once a raid because we roll with 3-5 shaman every night (1 Ele, 1 Enhance and up to 3 Resto).
Both sides of the argument carry pretty valid points and I am actually on the fence to some extent. BL/H is an extremely powerful benefit to the raid and can, without a doubt, decide the outcome of a fight. A personal example I have would be the XT hard mode (both 10 and 25). First times I did this fight we needed the BL/H when the Heart dropped just to be able to kill it in time and activate Hard Mode. A couple of weeks later, however, we did not. Better gear and some experience with the fight makes up for the gap and we were killing it with time to spare without the aid of BL/H. This is, of course, just one particular example. The point I am trying to convey with it is how although at first it may seem like an unquestionable necessity, but as you improve it may no longer be the case. That is why I have to side with GC on this one, because I believe that he is probably right when he says no 10 man Hard Mode encounter needs heroism. Does it make it more difficult? Without a doubt. Necessity? No.
The other point is that it is not like it is hard to fit a shaman into a raid. GC hinted on this when saying quote: “If you needed 3 or 4 shamans then I could see the point. If only Enhancement shamans brought Bloodlust, then it might cross the line”. By the fact that any of the three specs can provide this benefit, it makes it a whole lot more viable and reasonable. We can fit into a ranged DPS, melee DPS or healing role, it is not like we are difficult to manufacture a role for. If you really feel BL/H is a necessity, then you should probably stop complaining and just look for a shaman. Otherwise accept the fact that the fight is going to be a little more difficult and keep working at it.
As for the homogenization issue, I personally believe it is a good thing if Blizzard is careful with how they handle it. I was not in a top-end guild at the end of BC and was only halfway through Black Temple when WotLK dropped. As such I did not see the class stacking that was going on through Sunwell and only heard the stories, but from the sounds of it it was pretty extreme in how limiting it made the raid compositions. It is pretty clear we do not want to see that stuff again and this homogenization movement has thus far been a success in preventing it from occurring in Wrath.
Bloodlust and Heroism are an ability that I believe are unique to shaman and should remain so, but the day Blizzard makes a fight that is unbeatable without it then it becomes unfair. Until that day I am going to keep on enjoying this weapon that only we carry in our arsenal.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
New Armor Sets
I'm not sure how many of you adamantly follow MMO Champion; it is understandable as they tend to post about a million times a day. However, they are one of the best sources out there for news and information as soon as it becomes available and are generally very accurate. Before I digress any further, they have recently posted the "finalized" armor sets coming with the release of 3.2. I use the term with some caution because they have released what we think will be the final version a couple of times now, but this one seems to be the most promising.
There has been a bit of a twist with the new tier set. In a bit of a stray from the norm, they have now given each faction a different model for their classes. As such, us Draenei's won't be looking similar to our Horde counterparts as we will both be sporting individualized gear. However, they have made all armor-similar classes wear the same model with differentiation in color schemes. That's right: although we will not look like our factioned counterparts, we will ALL look like hunters. I don't know how I feel about this, I think I would rather be associated with a Horde than a huntard...
Regardless of my opinions, you can check out the sets for Alliance here and Horde here. Give me your opinion, what would you prefer? Do you like the looks of your set? Be sure to specify which faction's you are commenting on.
It seems they are keeping the Arena gear homogenized across factions, which you can see here (both factions included in the link).
All rights to the images are courtesy of MMO Champion (http://www.mmo-champion.com/).
Earth/Wind Shock Changes
Due to the glaring redundancy that was created when Wind Shock was first added to the Shaman arsenal, the developers have decided to make a couple of changes. Wind Shock is now becoming 'Wind Shear' and remaining, for all intents and purposes, pretty much the same. The major change is it is now off of the cooldown shared by our other shocks, so we will have a much better ability to interrupt enemy spellcasts. This is a real perk for PvP where we will no longer be faced with an either/or situation for our Flame Shocks and interrupting the enemy.
Earth Shock is being reinvented. It is, as of the latest PTR build, a debuff that will reduce the enemy's melee attack speed by 10% for 8 seconds. It was previously 2 seconds which hardly seems worth the cast. Even with the change, I am wondering how useful it will be. It is obviously another attempt to increase our PvP viability and prevent melee from tearing us up as soon as they get within range, but is 10% really going to be a game-changer? Another mystery that the patch will withhold.
On a personal note, my guild and I are really beginning to push the hardmode buck after a period of relative lacking recently. As I have previously mentioned, we got the FL+4 a couple of weeks back which was long overdue. We also got Freya+1 but neither seemed to screenshot worthy and had a feeling of 'finally' to them. We are seriously working on Assembly of Iron Hard mode (and have been for a good 4 weeks on-and-off, this is what has been slowing our progress a lot); additionally we have started work on Thorim hard and Yogg 3 Keepers. If we can get the right mix of raiders I believe we can achieve all 3 of these in the next 2 weeks.
Hopefully more kill pics will be on the way soon.
Monday, 13 July 2009
That is, except for elementals.
I have already posted on how the Q&A session left us feeling a bit left out in the cold. Sure, we scored with some of the class-wide changes but getting excited over them feels like salivating over the scraps of someone else's feast. Sure, the totem changes will be nice and a little extra stam couldn't hurt, but not one spec-specific change?
Now by this stage you are probably all wondering what rock I have been living under for the last few years to not realize we always get left out in the cold when they are handing out buffs. I am anything but a overzealous optimist; that said, I honestly thought we might get some more of the spotlight this patch.
Why now you ask?
Because since 3.1 there has been considerably more buzz regarding us then what we usually hear. In our case the 'usual buzz' would be silence; and by silence I mean like deep space without a spacesuit, several million miles away from anything remotely resembling anything notable kind of silence.
If you hadn't noticed, that was me getting carried away in an analogy tide. But think about it: There was the Lava Burst 'Stealth Nerf' which, whether it happened or not did get a couple of blue posts which happens less frequently than the similarly colored moon. Potentially in response, we then got the Lightning Overload buff because it was noted by developers that as a whole our spec was lacking.
Finally, our close brethren in the 'forgotten casters' category, Balance Druids or 'Moonkins', have undergone a number of changes integrating spirit to be a scaling stat for them to make them more viable at the cutting-edge endgame content. I was foolish to believe that this could mean we would see similar attention being thrown our way seeing the issue was at least showing up on Blizz's radars. One would have thought this topic would have at least been mentioned in the Shaman Q&A seeing there was a number of well-constructed posts regarding it. Unfortunately though, there was nothing. Not in the Q&A feedback, and not in the 3.2 build up. There was nothing in regards to elemental shaman at all.
Now, just this weekend I have seen that Wind Shock is being changed to be off the cooldown of the other shocks and that Earth Shock is being changed. I can't see I didn't see this coming because having the two was a little redundant to say the least (I think Blizz thought Wind Shock was going to be a DPS shaman's aggro dump, turns out it wasn't nearly as effective as they thought. Plus we already have one in Resurrection, don't we?). But again, I am back to the point that these are class wide changes and not exactly 'rocking the shaman world' at that.
I remain as skeptical as myself and every other long-term elemental shaman always is about the future of our class, but I can't say I am not wishfully thinking something will emerge before the patch. You can't blame me for that, can you?
PS: I have gone back over some of the comments in the previous posts and responded. I am sorry I did not do this sooner. If you left a comment that didn't have me responding to it you should go back and check it now.
Feel free to leave comments or emails. I always find them useful and it helps me in posting things more relative to you all.
Monday, 6 July 2009
So far the most major things related to our spec that have been announced is the change to our totem mechanics, plus our new spec-specific gear. I announced a while ago when the totem mechanic changed was announced (here) but did not give an opinion on the topic. Unfortunately I am not going to change my position, but I am going to open up discussion a little. The ability to drop 4 totems concurrently is a deliberate attempt to increase our ease of use of totems and make them more viable for how the game works now. They are an outdated design and this change has been needed for a long, long time. It will provide benefits on both the PvE and PvP sides of the spectrum. How much? Well, that is to be seen.
I do not understand those who claim it will act to our detriment. This simply does not make sense. If you want to treat it like it is now and drop individual totems then you still can as I understand. You can, if you so desired, act like nothing has changed at all. Although I don't see the point of not utilizing the new design, the option will be there to act like it is non-existent. These naysayers not only annoy me but mislead the less experienced players into believing their personal opinions as fact. There may be teething problems, the mechanic may be awkward and almost non-functioning in the worst-possible circumstance but it will not ever be a downgrade from what is here now because it is simply an addition to the existing. I hate to vent, but sometimes the ignorance of the stubborn frustrates me.
To answer a few of you, I am not on the PTR. I do not tend to joint the PTRs in that there is still a lot that could happen before the patch and I find preaching about what is happening on the test realms will inevitably end up making you look foolish later when things you have been complaining about are not implemented. I would rather judge the end product when it hits with the patches then worry about things that *might* occur.
The new tier set bonuses have been announced, and ours is as follows:
2-set bonus: Increases the duration of your Flame Shock spell by 9 seconds.
4-set bonus: Increases the damage done by your Lava Burst spell by 20%.
These set bonuses, although rather plain in comparison to our t8, should prove rather powerful. The 2-set extends out DoT time on FS from the 18 seconds (assuming you have it glyphed, which you probably do) to 27 seconds. This means in the time we currently have to cast 3 Flame shocks we will not only have to cast 2, giving us as spare GCD once every 54 (27 + 27) seconds. May not seem like too much but that little extra window of time should prove useful.
The 4-set is fairly notable. A pretty sturdy 20% slap on top of our Lava Burst will be nice. It may alter our glyph setup back to including Lava (which most shaman dropped in favour of ToW in 3.1) and potentially the inclusion of the seemingly useless [Thunderfall Totem], our spec's designated totem in Ulduar which has been making more use as a bank slot decoration. This is highly doubtful though, as [Totem of Hex] still provides beneficial for so much more of our damage so unless they magically buff up Lava Burst damage on top of this set bonus I can see that bank slot being filled for a long time to come.
New Totem Slot
All this talk of Thunderfall vs. Hex is a nice lead-in to our new totem for 3.2: Totem of Electrifying Wind. Now, the talk on the forums is that this baby has practically no cooldown and an uptime of close to 100%. This is good, because it would have to be close to this to beat out Hex. They keep pushing this haste-proccing totem idea for some ungodly reason; both our last 2 badge reward totems ([Totem of the Elemental Plane] and [Skycall Totem]) have been the same concept.
I have been holding off doing my totem comaprisons until 3.2 to see just how good the final Electrifying Wind product turns out. For now we will just have to wait in eager anticipation of just how good this thing turns out to be. As I said before, I rather judge the end product and not what is being seen on the PTRs.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
- No screenshot, but Bladestorm killed Flame Leviathan +4 Towers on Tuesday night (finally). We have been so focused on our XT and Assembly of Iron hard modes that we kind of forgot about FL, even after being the server first with +2.
- Have neatened up the Ulduar 10-man Gear Guide. Go check it out, list of changes is at the bottom.
- You can email me directly now at puutnitdown(at)gmail(dot)com. No more need to roll alts on Moonrunner when you want to talk to me.
- The layout of the page has changed slightly, making some of the content areas larger.
- I have added the ability to subscribe via RSS feed in the top of the right hand toolbar.
You may have noticed the frequency of posting increase recently. I have an internship this summer where I am given very little work to do and am highly unsupervised; maintaining the blog is keeping me sane from the periods of boredom. I have nothing in the works at the moment (giving myself a little bit of a break after a couple of pretty substantial posts in the last week) but at a guess I am thinking my next major post will be on speccing.