Friday, November 30, 2007

Twink is slang for a gay man, lol

And again, I have nothing against gays. I myself would probably be considered somewhat "bent"--but that's neither here nor there, hehe. I just wanted a title that would illustrate many people's feelings regarding twinks.

If you're unfamiliar with the practice of twinking, there's a reason why certain blues are exponentially more expensive than others--why, for instance, a Sentry Cloak can run 100 gold when the Cape of the Brotherhood can be had for free with a Deadmines run, or why an Assassin's Blade can fetch 250g, but a Skeletal Club (which does identical damage per second and has an equal level requirement) is barely worth a tenth of that.

The answer, in a nutshell, is twinking--the practice of taking a lower-level character and giving him the best possible equipment for his level. This is well and good for PvE, but in PvP battlegrounds, twinks can really upset the balance of the game. The 10-19 Warsong Gulch bracket has long been choked with twinks, to the point where they outnumber "normal" characters. In other words, to avoid being two-shotted in a level 19 WSG, you need to be twinked. Put mildly, it's somewhat unfun for "normal" players in these battlegrounds.

I know, you say, I'm one to talk. I do, after all, have a 19 warrior twink, a 29 hunter semi-twink, and a 59 rogue twink. I created them, though, out of frustration after my first toon (the paladin) suffered through battlegrounds at every level bracket up to and including 70. (I goddamn earned my PvP rank of Knight, let me assure you. I must have spent a day and a half staring at the "30 seconds until resurrection" dialog on my way to Rank 6.) I wanted that feeling of domination that everyone else had held over me along my way to level 60.

My brother's warrior was level 18 when he decided to give him up (he rolled a rogue after that, I think). I inherited him, and an assortment of truly awful gear; by that time, I already had a 70 and a fair amount of gold, so I geared him up. Upon hitting 19, I figured, why not, let's do a battleground. I did quite well, but in hindsight I wish I had gotten mercilessly pwned.

That early success caused me to pursue twinking. I abandoned his professions--Alchemy and Herbalism (on a Warrior?! Clearly my brother hadn't thought this out, oh wait, my level 70 warrior is an herbalist/alchemist...guess it runs in the family). Instead, I took up Engy to make some twink head armor. All told, at level 19 my brother's warrior had around 1400 health (which incidentally is over 200 more than my enhancement-spec Shaman has ten levels later).

Fully twinked, I entered Warsong Gulch. And what happened? Surprise surprise. Ganked by twink rogues left and right. Turns out Warriors are a sucky choice for twinking at 19.

My aforementioned Shaman is currently level 29, and as an experiment I gave him better-than-average gear (but not even close to twink). In other words, his gear is better than a typical non-twink would have, but nowhere near twink-quality. What's the frequency, Kenneth? Turns out he gets knocked around like a USPS Ground package. The bottom line is, twinks have become the norm in battlegrounds (at least in 19 and 29; I haven't been in a 39 or 49 BG in awhile, but when my Shaman dings I'll keep you posted). You need to be one just to be competitive. And quite frankly it sucks.

Rest assured, I never would have twinked if no one else did first. A poor, jejune excuse, I know, but admit it to yourself: You'd do it too, if your first toon got knocked around as much as mine did. I blame Warlocks, for one. ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

War(craft)-Torn Hearts

And when that question is asked, deny everything.

I know it seems hard and contrary to every human (or at least male) instinct, but if a girl in-game proposes anything that smacks of a relationship, and you think you might want to pursue her seriously, DON'T DO IT! For the love of God, yank your Ethernet cable out of the wall if you have to, roll a new toon of the opposite faction and level it for a few weeks, even commit a misdemeanor and spend a month in jail if you have to. (I hear public urination is all the rage this time of year, incidentally.) Just do NOT try to make a WoW relationship work!

If I seem somewhat passionate about this maxim, and it almost looks like I'm speaking (well, typing) from personal experience...well, I just might be. Believe you me, it is twice as difficult as making a real-life relationship pan out, with just a fraction of the benefits. For one thing, there's no going out for a quiet dinner (no, eating a Tough Hunk of Bread in Teldrassil together does NOT cut it), or watching a movie afterwards (you can try sending each other YouTube links, but trust me, it's not the same--and the popcorn tastes strangely like carpet). You can't look into each other's eyes, exchange sweet nothings, and cuddle (although if you've ever gone to the second floor of the Stormwind Inn, I bet you've seen a few couples trying their hardest to make something happen on the bed). As for, ah, more intimate accoutrements, suffice to say that a keyboard in one hand and a, uh, "mouse" (wink, wink, cough, cough) in the other, is not a good surrogate for a healthy sex life. (Not that I would know what does constitute a healthy one, unfortunately.)

And try as you might to overlook it, there will always be a kind of competition between the two of you: who's the higher level, who has the better gear, who's got a higher rank in the guild. You might laugh at such "virtual" tokens of station being capable of wrenching two lovers apart, but if the game was enough to bring you two together, you better damn well believe it's enough to rend you apart. Not to mention all the difficulties inherent in traditional long-distance relationships: increased risk of infidelity, little or no face-to-face interaction, astronomical phone bills, etc.

If nothing else, think of this poor, heartbroken Paladin who once loved a level 60 Night Elf hunter (whose names, both in-game and real, will be kept secret to protect the skanky). Think of all he did--in real life--to salvage the relationship, and think of how devastated he was to lose her to a level 38 Human Warlock. (Yet another reason to hate those goddamn locks.) If you don't want to end up like me, then for God's sake say no to WoW relationships.

Best of luck to you Casanovas out there...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

All's Fair in Love and War(craft)

On busy server days, it's not an uncommon occurrence to depart the bank or the Auction House and find a female Night Elf, bereft of any armor, dancing endlessly, as a stream of characters (all male, strangely enough) lining up before her. I will refrain from passing judgment on this practice, but you should avail yourself of any delusions that this nearly naked Night Elf is, in all probability, either a gold-strapped male, or a female who is, how shall we say, alarmingly starved of opportunities to relieve her pent-up frustrations in real life.

To put it more pointedly, then: At best, you're giving your gold to a really, really, really unattractive woman; at worst, you're giving it to another guy. (Or, if you happen to be gay, and that is perfectly cool with me [although you probably wouldn't be giving gold to a female Night Elf dancing in that case], then reverse the "at best" and "at worst" qualifiers.)

The fact is, most of us aren't stupid--we know this! We accept as unquestionable gospel--perhaps begrudgingly, but accept nonetheless--that most WoW players are male, and the few female players joining them wouldn't be so (to be blunt) slutty as to strip and /dance for the benefit of a few gold pieces. Exceptions exist, naturally, but this is by and large accepted.

But, as I already pointed out, you're not stupid! So why am I belaboring the naked Night Elf point? Well, while most of us wouldn't be taken in by such a vulgar display of pixellated poontang, there's no denying that WoW is a social game by nature. Group quests, guilds, instances, raids, the Trade channel--all depend upon forming parties and interacting with others.

And when people interact, sometimes they hit it off. They become friends; they grow interested in ages, in locations, in families, in jobs, in other personal details, as friends are wont to do. As they grow more comfortable with each other, they confess sordid details and ask, in [Guild] 10-point, fluorescent green Arial, for help--not just with quests or mount money, but with real-life issues. And should it become evident that they are of opposite sexes, and single, and looking, then a bigger question looms on the horizon, one that begs to be asked and, all too often, is...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give Yourself A Break!

There's no doubt that WoW is, for the most part, a brilliantly designed game. New players are eased so gradually into the "grinding treadmill" that they're desensitized to the addictive monotony of killing mob after mob for their XP bar to fill in sliver by sliver.

But don't let that make you, uh, forget about real life. It's well and good to spend one, two, or even more hours straight playing WoW, so long as it isn't at the expense of other, real-life needs. And regardless of how free your schedule is, for the sake of your health, it'd be beneficial to take breaks from the game every now and then. For every ten miles your in-game alter ego runs, resolve to run one yourself.

Breaks from WoW make you appreciate the game even more when you come back. Trust me. With 3 70s and a 59 twink, I've obviously spent what most would deem an unhealthy amount of time in Azeroth. And even I tire of farming, grinding, and PvPing every now and then. If I don't step away from the keyboard and spend a few days doing something else, the game would probably start getting to me, and I'd quit.

(A personal anecdote: You know you play too much WoW when someone asks your opinion of a professor, and you respond, "He's lev...levity in a turbulent society" to cover up the fact that you were about to say, "he's Level 70". Yeah...I didn't log in for a solid week after that one.)

See you all in Outland...just not every day, I hope!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In Defense of the "Retnoob"

So I've just explained why the Retribution tree needs a serious revamp. But I'm sure I'll hear from someone who'll say something like, "If you don't like it, respec to Prot or Holy. No one needs another lawladin."

First of all, screw off. No one needs another huntard, Arcane Explosion spammer, or pussy lock either. But people play those classes because they like it, and to hell with anyone who tells them to respec or reroll. Right?

Second of all, Blizz never intended for the pally to be a healbot (or for that matter, a tanky), either. With the exception of staves and fist weapons, Paladins can use any melee weapon in the game, and not just for visual effect. Before Burning Crusade was released, only Humans could be Paladins, giving them Mace and Sword Specialization. Before patch 1.6, Crusader Strike was learnable by any spec, not just Ret. Hmm. Maybe Blizz intended for Paladins to be, I don't know, holy warriors? Not priests-in-plate or tanks with mana, but actual crusaders, valkyries, Knights Templar? Never forget that Uther the Lightbringer was a kick-ass Paladin, as is Highlord Bolvar Fordragon. Sure, that might just be a bit of abstract lore, but it shows Blizz's true intent of allowing the Paladin to be more than just a supporting healer or aggro magnet.

It would be nice if Blizz considered a talent tree revamp to help make that dream a reality, huh?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How we can stop being a joke, part 2

Some ideas, I'll just throw them out there...

*Increase the cost of Crusader Strike slightly, but give it a chance to daze the target, increase Holy damage taken, silence/interrupt spellcasting, etc.
*Decrease the cooldown of Repentance, or
*Remove the breaks-on-damage stipulation from Repentance, but reduce its duration slightly, or
*Replace Repentance with a ranged attack, for example:
Chastise (Rank 1): 280 Mana, 2.5 sec cast, 30 yd range, 15 sec cooldown. Causes 262 to 314 Holy damage to the target and reduces its movement speed by 30% for 10 sec. Higher ranks cost more mana, but deal more damage. Or,
*Repentance instead reduces the target's movement speed for 10 sec. It doesn't matter, as long as it's changed. Repentance is FAR too weak to justify it being a 31-point talent.
*Rather than reduce stats, Vindication should increase casting time and/or reduce movement speed by 5/10/15%. (Most bosses are already immune, so this shouldn't radically up-end raiding.)
*Give Eye for an Eye a 15/30% chance to stun, fear, etc. whenever the Paladin is stunned, feared, etc.
*Make Hammer of Wrath useable against any target, not just those nearly dead, but reduce its +spell damage coefficient (so that healadins don't get 3k Hammer of Wrath crits), or
*Remove Hammer of Wrath's casting restriction, but instead make it castable only after someone in your group lands a killing blow, or
*Leave Hammer of Wrath as is, but remove its 6 second cooldown. Warriors already have Execute; why can't Pallies HoW spam to the same effect?

Most of these ideas are attempts to remedy the Retribution Paladin's sorry lack of ranged ability and CC. I'd be happy to see even one of them considered by Blizz. Here's to patch 2.4!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How we can stop being a joke

One idea. We need some form of crowd control. Here are means by which each class can ensure their target doesn't get away, by class:

Druid: Entangling Roots; Travel Form. (Faerie Fire, to prevent stealth.)
Hunter: Freezing Trap, Frost Trap (1 minute shared cooldown, reducible via Survival talents); Wing Clip (6 second cooldown); Intimidation (Beast Mastery); (Improved) Concussive Shot. (Hunter's Mark/Track Hidden, to defeat stealth.)
Mage: Frost Nova (30 sec cooldown); Cone of Cold/Dragon's Breath (30 sec shared cooldown); Frostbolt; Impact (Fire talent); Slow (Arcane talent); Polymorph. Blink (15 sec cooldown). (AoEs can be spammed to reveal stealth.)
Priest: Fear (also breaks stealth). In addition, DoTs will break stealth and ensure a slow, painful death for anyone who tries to run away.
Rogue: Cheap Shot; Blade Twisting (Combat talent); Gouge (6 sec cooldown); Kidney Shot; Blind (3 min cooldown); Sprint (5 min cooldown); Crippling Poison.
Shaman: Frost Shock (6 sec shared cooldown); Earthbind Totem; Ghost Wolf. (Some totems will foil stealth.)
Warlock: Curse of Exhaustion; fear and DoTs (see Priest).
Warrior: Intercept (requires Berserker Stance); Hamstring; Intimidating Shout (2 min cooldown). (Thunder Clap can detect stealth.)
Paladin: Avenger's Shield (requires 41 points in Protection--in other words, a non-DPS build); Hammer of Justice (1 min cooldown); Repentance (1 min cooldown). (Consecration can break stealth, but it is EXPENSIVE.)

Do you see now the folly of having a melee DPS class with only 2 CC abilities on long cooldowns (one of which breaks on damage, for Arathor's sake)? Compare the Paladin's CC with any other class and try to tell me we even come close.

Now, for a comparison of Melee DPS classes and their ranged abilities:

Feral Druid: Switch out of form to cast Starfire, Moonfire, etc.
Enhancement Shaman: Shocks; Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning.
Rogue: Deadly Throw. Blind also has a 30 yd range.
Arms/Fury Warrior: Auto Shot/Auto Throw. Weak, but better than nothing.
Survival Hunter: I'm half-joking, seeing as how even a Survival hunter shouldn't melee unless absolutely necessary. But for the record, the pet can pursue the target or the hunter could actually use their ranged weapon (and shots)...
Retribution Paladin: Uh...Consecration has an 8 yard radius! And Hammer of Wrath! (Expensive as hell and can only be used against nearly dead targets...oh, and can be resisted AND can miss...don't forget the 6 second cooldown)

Yeah, so who gets the short end of the stick there? Warriors maybe, but they don't need mana (or rage, or whatever) to take an auto-shot at a fleeing target...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Look at me, I'm a Retadin...oh I'm dead already?

So Patch 2.3 will supposedly make the Retribution build endgame-viable. I suppose it will, although that's not to say we will suddenly be hot stuff in PvP. The biggest change on the table seems to be a reduction in cooldown for Crusader Strike from 10 to 6 seconds, and a 30% threat reduction incorporated into our 35-point talent.

None of the changes, however, remedy our inherent weakness. Sure, we do good burst damage, wear plate, can toss out an odd heal, and even bubble should the situation warrant it. But retadins aren't like Shock pallies, who have 5/5 Spiritual Focus, 12k+ armor and 10k+ mana pools to draw from. A Holy Light that would take 8% of a Shockadin's mana pool and 2.5 seconds to heal around 3500, would take maybe 15% of a Retadin's mana and upwards of 5 seconds to heal around 2500. In other words, if a Retadin's in combat, he has no hope of getting a heal off (unlike shockadins and druids), unless he bubbles or burns a stun.

Moreover, Warriors can Mortal Strike, and Rogues can stack Wound Poison, thereby eliminating the benefit of stun-healing. The planned 15% increased movement speed benefit of Pursuit of Justice is rendered moot by Hamstring or Crippling Poison.

Sure, you say, but you have a bubble! Isn't that good enough? Sure, until you bubble and heal (using up the last of your mana and reducing yourself to weak white attacks), and watch as the Warrior or Rogue bandages, reenters stealth, runs away, etc.

And against casters, forget it. Frostbolts, fears, PoM pyroblasts, DoTs...It's a miracle if I can even land a single melee swing on a caster, much less kill one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Look at me, I'm a Warlock!

Once upon a time, in the early days of WoW, Warlocks were actually a very underpowered class. Around patch 1.8, the collective lock community had a big whine session on the official forums crying about the nerfiness of the Warlock. So what happened? Did Blizzard acknowledge this emo outburst the way they normally do, with a blue post saying something to the effect of, "The Warlock class is functioning as intended, we apologize for the inconvenience"?

In a word, no.

Since Patch 1.9, the Warlock has been by far the most overpowered class in WoW. Combine the Hunter's ability to command a pet (which can, depending on the situation, tank, DPS, or even be sacrificed to heal) with shadow priest-like DoT spells, fear effects, and health drains (AND a soulstone rez, for crying out loud), and you get, in effect, an unstoppable machine. Oh, let's not forget the Infernal summon, Dark Pact, 5k Shadowbolt crits...

For their truly epic unbalancing of the WoW classes, I hope the entire Warlock Development Team at Blizzard got fired...out of a cannon.

I mean, what are we supposed to do against a lock? By the time a melee class got close enough to take a swing, he's already got 5 DoTs stacked on him, ticking for, oh, 1k a second? Should the lock then feel he's still in trouble, hey, why not drop a fear bomb, and for good measure, sling a Shadowbolt once the fear is about to expire.

I'm not annoyed at Blizz for buffing Warlocks so heavily though; I'm more pissed that certain other classes that have every right to complain about being underpowered are going unnoticed...

Friday, November 2, 2007

It Hurts When I PvP

So, as a follow-up to last time, I was unable to obtain a good replacement helm for my Retadin during Hallow's End. Furthermore, my schedule doesn't allow me enough time to run instances to gear up. As for Arena, it's an unfortunate fact of life that most players /lol at Retadins (whether or not such a reaction is deserved). The only option open to me to get some decent endgame gear is PvP Battlegrounds, and lots of them.

Seems like a pretty sweet deal; kill Horde and eventually get a nice set of Dungeon Set 3-equivalent gear. There was only one unforseen problem in my plan:

The Alliance sucks at PvP.

Ok, maybe that's an overly broad generalization. Let's rephrase, slightly:

The Alliance in the Stormstrike battlegroup have no sense of teamwork or cohesion whatsoever, meaning that the Horde steamroll us with minimal effort.

Every Warsong Gulch is either a turtle or a midfield orgy; the only thing I see in Arathi Basin is scattered offense and a hell of a lot of fighting on the road; Alterac Valley's offense usually peters out and, once we lose our graveyards, becomes a humongous turtlefest. As for Eye of the Storm, watch the entire Alliance team gather around the (empty) flag spawn, despite having no base to return the flag to (if we ever manage to pick up and hold on to the damn thing in the first place).

The constant losing might be tolerable if I were actually able to, you know, kill some Horde. Unfortunately, Ret pallies admittedly have a lot of weaknesses. As an entirely melee-based class, against casters I'm helpless once I've burned my stuns. (The "retnoob" comments from my own teammates are a nice grinding of salt into my wounds.)

I'm hoping I'll start kicking ass once my gear improves, but until then, I've got untold hours upon hours of painful battleground losses to endure.