Archive for dungeon finder shenanigans

Transmogrification PSA: LFR sets, Scholomance, Scarlet Monastery

Posted in Transmogrification with tags , , on August 4, 2012 by Aeliel

(Yes, I disappeared again. Preparations for MoP, not much to talk about, etc. I’ll try to stick to it this time.)

As I was looking through my various characters’ gear and deciding what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to toss, something occurred to me.

Namely, that I really like some of the Dragon Soul tier sets in their LFR color, and right now – the couple of months left before MoP hits – is the last chance I, or anybody, will have of completing those sets. (Well, unless you XP-lock at 85 – then I’d imagine you can still run LFR, if there are enough people. But most people will just level on.)

So I’ve been running LFR on some characters, rolling on items that, at times, are a downgrade, just for the sake of completing the sets. Which is a bit of a dick move, I admit, but there are two months to go until MoP hits and all that shiny LFR gear becomes obsolete (quest rewards in Jade Forest, the very first starting area, are ilvl384). And I’m going to be an elitist snot and point out that most of the people I run into when doing LFR these days are so very bad – 10k DPS, 9k HPS, “how I taunt boss” bad – that I don’t really feel the least bit guilty in rolling on the items. I’m putting in just as much effort as they are – often more – and I want the item for something beyond vendor spec. I have a damn right to roll on it and not relinquish it if I win it.

Anyway. To the point of this post. Here are the LFR sets that will become unobtainable – and, for completion’s sake, any unique-model items found in the current versions of Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance. This is mainly to remind myself what I want to grab, since I have no illusions that I have any readership left, but if this post is of use to somebody who isn’t me, all the better.

Screenshots are taken from the in-game dressing room whenever possible, since the Wowhead model viewer can sometimes be inaccurate, especially when it comes to glows. Sets are shown on whichever race the character I have of that class is, hence the preponderance of night elves and draenei. Please forgive my preferences. Most screenshots will be cropped to give a general idea of what the set looks like without cluttering the page.

(Also, I’m not going to screenshot what is likely to be almost the entire loot table of Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance. I’ll point out especially rare or unique-looking items, though, and provide Wowhead links for everything.)

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On bad design

Posted in Achievements, Miscellanea, PuG business with tags , , , on December 11, 2011 by Aeliel

I got all the Darkmoon Faire artifacts this month on my main – every single one. Because I’m an impatient completionist and achievement points call to me.

The PVP ones were pretty easy. Ran a couple of Alterac Valley, stopping to loot every single corpse, got two, got frustrated and realized it would probably be more efficient to just buy the third one on the AH. So that’s what I did.

Most of the dungeons ones were easy, too. Stockades coughed up Ornate Weapons quite easily, Scarlet Monastery was farmed for Imbued Crystals (Whitemane) and Mysterious Grimoires (Doan), and Gahz’rilla kindly dropped a Monstrous Egg. These are meant to drop from the new heroics, too, and I saw some – but it was just more efficient to grind old instances and not risk getting outrolled.

Getting Soothsayer’s Runes was a simple matter of building a trade-chat PuG for Magmaw 10 only, for the specific and sole purpose of getting them. One drops for each raid member, so no problem there.

The Treatise on Strategy was the problematic item, and it’s simply a matter of poor design.

I can understand the theory behind it. In the same way the Soothsayer’s Runes are “hey, let’s get people to run raids that aren’t Dragon Soul!”, the Treatise on Strategy is “hey, let’s get people to run heroics that aren’t the new ones!”.

It’s a lovely theory, and I salute the desire to give players reasons to run old content. The way this was implemented, however, leaves much to be desired.

The problem is this:

We didn’t really like having separate queues for each tier of Heroic 5-player dungeons. The random option should be all-inclusive. […] if you want to run any random Cataclysm Heroic dungeon, we want the system to choose from all of them. […] you’re probably getting the new ones more frequently because more players are queuing for them specifically. You’re being grouped with those people by the system so the wait times are as short as possible.

(source)

In other words, players want to run old heroics (because the Treatise on Strategy only drops from there) but, at the same time, are frustrated in their efforts to do so, since the dungeon finder will drop a well-geared character into the new heroics more often than not. Because of this, players end up having to queue specifically for the old heroics by selecting them all in the “specific dungeons” list – which means they’re unable to do each heroic more than once a day and they won’t get valor points from the run, just justice points.

The former consequence makes getting a Treatise frustrating – it only drops from one or two bosses in each instance, at a very low drop rate, and it’s quite likely that several people in the group will have a Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide and therefore be competition for the loot. The latter consequence will further frustrate players with well-geared characters, since justice points are essentially useless for them.

All this also further exacerbates the resentment between well-geared players and undergeared, under-performing or freshly 85 players. From a well-geared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“I’m carrying these scrubs, I’m doing three or four times their DPS, they stand in all the bad possible, and I’m not even getting any valor points out of this, never mind a Treatise. This sucks.”

Or possibly even this:

“I carried these scrubs, I did three or four times their DPS, they stood in all the bad possible, and now one of them actually rolled against me on the Treatise and won? This really sucks. Ungrateful little bastards.”

From an undergeared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“These guys come into dungeons they overgear, yell at me for being new, want to skip bosses I need loot from, boss me around and don’t even bother explaining how fights I’ve never seen work. This sucks.”

Nobody’s happy, everybody’s frustrated. Not a well thought out system at all.

I wish I could feel like it’s going to get better with subsequent arrivals of the Darkmoon Faire – after all, the Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide stays and the artifacts drop even when the Faire’s out of town – but I don’t see it happening. More people are going to queue up for the new heroics anyway if they want valor points (because they’re faster, they can potentially provide gear upgrades and valuable BoEs as well as valor points, and “they’re not filled with scrubs”), so queuing for a “Random Cataclysm Heroic” in the dungeon finder will still drop well-geared characters in the new heroics. So well-geared characters wanting a Treatise will have to queue specifically for each old heroic, leading to the same frustration all the time.

There’s no elegant solution, either, and no solution I can see Blizzard taking. One solution would be to take the three new heroics out of the random Cataclysm heroic list – but Blizzard has openly stated they don’t want to do that. Another solution would be to make the Treatise drop off at least one boss in all heroics, including the new ones… but that would defeat the original point of the Treatise.

But then again, that might be better. Well-geared and knowledgeable players and under-geared, new-to-85 players in the same heroic together is a recipe for disaster anyway. (See also: the drama when it looked like raiders would have to run heroics to cap valor points every week.)

Enter a choir of angels singing “Hallelujah”

Posted in Tanking with tags , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Aeliel

This just hotfixed:

Threat generation for all tanks has been increased to 500%, up from 300%. This applies to warriors in Defensive Stance, death knights in Blood Presence, druids in Bear Form, and paladins with Righteous Fury.

 A few choice quotes from Ghostcrawler concerning this change:

[…] It’s not fun to feel throttled. It’s not fun for the Feral druid to stop using special attacks in order to avoid pulling aggro. It’s fun to use Feint at the right time to avoid dying, but it’s not fun for Feint to be part of your rotational cooldown. We want you to spend most of your effort trying to overcome the dragon or elemental, not struggling against your own tank.

Tanks are busy. […] We ask tanks to do a lot — everything from picking up adds, to moving bosses around, to staying out of fires, to providing interrupts, in addition to the classic tank roles of staying alive and generating threat.

[…] However, this system fails and often spectacularly so when it’s the tank who is the undergeared player. Even if a competent healer can keep the undergeared tank alive, the fully raid-geared DPS spec is going to constantly be on the verge of pulling threat. That’s not an issue of skill. It’s just numbers. It’s also not a problem that is easy to overcome for either the overgeared DPS or the undergeared tank — it’s just not a lot of fun for anyone.

And my thoughts? Well, they can be summed up like so:

And the satchel delivers

Posted in Alts, Miscellanea, Mounts and pets with tags , , on May 16, 2011 by Aeliel

Longish time no post, as is becoming usual for me. Ended up not writing that guide to the troll heroics, mostly because by the point I’d ran enough of them to feel comfortable writing a guide as all three roles (tank, healer and DPS) there were plenty of guides available on the internet already. So I figured I wouldn’t waste the time.

With five characters at level 85, four of which can access the troll heroics, I’ve been pretty busy. My poor little warlock, the one who isn’t yet geared for them, has fallen by the wayside – I’m busy enough capping 980VP weekly on four characters to want to lose my will to live in normal heroics for a fifth. Eh, it’ll come.

Anyway!

With two tanks and a healer at cap, I’ve obviously been getting plenty of CTA reward satchels. I don’t queue just for the satchels, but I have queued a few additional times after I was done collecting my weekly VP, simply because I do still need some gear drops. (And yes, with four characters running the same instances, the gear I want for each character always drops when I’m on a different one. Fact of life.)

Either way – 15-20 CTA satchels per week is probably a fair assumption, considering I don’t always manage to hit the healer CTA and I occasionally queue with the boyfriend rather than by myself.

(Oh, an observation. If you queue for a CTA heroic by yourself, get to the end and get your CTA satchel, then decide as a group to requeue because it’s a good group – you’ll get a second CTA satchel when the second heroic is completed. Not sure if it’s a feature or a bug, but it’s a nice extra when I manage to pull an excellent group from the RDF and would’ve requeued with them anyway, satchel or no satchel.)

I’ll get to the point soon, I swear.

Mostly, I’ve gotten gems, potions and flasks out of the satchels (in addition to gold). Some I’ve sold, some I’m keeping, it’s a fun little bonus. I’ve also gotten a handful of pets: since I knew all of them on my main already (unsurprisingly enough), I sold some, kept some for alts and gave one (a Captured Firefly) to the boyfriend since he was still missing it.

And then today, I got lucky:

Not lucky enough, mind you, since the satchel could’ve deigned to drop me a Blue Drake or Blue Proto-Drake instead (blue is my favourite colour and those are, by extension, my favourite drakes; I’m still missing both of them on my main, and to add insult to injury, my alt paladin got not one but three Blue Drakes out of Oculus – no, I’m not over that annoyance yet, thanks for asking)… but let’s not look the gift horse in the mouth, shall we?

Let’s do this instead: 

My littlest hunter (littlest both in height and in levels) was the only one of my flying-enabled characters who didn’t have a special flying mount yet. She was therefore stuck with riding a sparklepony. I was vaguely considering grinding some reputation or other for it – glad I don’t have to, now. Besides…

…it’s quite fitting, in my opinion – green character on a green drake. I had even considered factioning her with the Oracles and buying eggs once I bothered leveling her through Wrath content. (Decided against it, though – it was irritating enough to keep getting yolks for years on my main, thanks very much, not keen on repeating the experience on an alt.)

It’s also quite amusing to watch people’s reactions. In 10 minutes spent semi-afk in the middle of Orgrimmar I got 5 whispers along the lines of “wtf, how????”, one accusation of being a hacker (“wtf are u a hacker omg”), and one intelligent amused person (“lol, let me guess, CTA reward bag?”). Fun times.

Troll heroics: first impressions

Posted in Achievements, PuG business, Strategy, Tanking with tags , , on April 29, 2011 by Aeliel

(Lacking screenshots of the actual boss fights – since I was too busy tanking to take any – the above will have to do. If you’ve done the lashtail hatchling quest chain in Northern Stranglethorn Vale, once you kill Mandokir you get your hatchling back. And she’s “Lashtail Hatchling <playername’aka>” rather than “<playername’s companion>”. Awwwww.)

I’ve spent the better part of an afternoon and evening tanking Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman. My first run was alone; all the rest were done with Alieth, my trusty pocket healer. Some of the difficulty of the instances was doubtlessly removed by the fact of having a healer with an average ilvl of 370 (some kills would’ve been wipes with a lesser-geared healer), but considering that a healer wearing full PVP gear could keep me up just fine on my lone run through ZA without Alieth, I don’t think the instances are that hard. We got all the new achievements without much trouble (with the exception of Spirit Twister – we gave it a couple of tries, but it was a late-night group, everybody was tired, so we eventually decided the hell with it and just killed the boss).

And, at least for now, I think they’re fun. I like Zul’Gurub better than Zul’Aman: without going too in-depth about it (I’ll probably be making a post detailing boss strategies at some point), Zul’Gurub got brand new mechanics for every fight, whereas Zul’Aman is exactly identical to how the raid used to be, with minor adjustments made to allow for the smaller group size and composition. It makes me think that ZA was just an afterthought – that they worked on ZG, with all the shiny new fights, and then when they got closer to releasing it they thought “hm, wait a second, we can’t just release one heroic, especially since Firelands is nowhere near ready yet, let’s rehash ZA for a 5man so we have a second heroic to release”. Ah well.

Dungeon Finder CTA update and addendum

Posted in Healing, Tanking with tags , , on April 9, 2011 by Aeliel

Blizzard has clarified that the goody bag rewarded from the dungeon finder call to arms is going to be account bound.

The additional reward for completing the Dungeon Finder Call to Arms (called the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries) will be Bind on Account; able to be freely sent to other characters on your account once you receive it.

(Source.)

That’s better, already; it gives incentives to those who have alt tanks, or are considering leveling one, but collect pets and mounts on their mains.

That said, I’d just like to clarify the position I took in my previous post a little bit.

I’m not against this change, per se. I fully agree that it’ll help with queue times, and could even make things better for tanks and healers in the dungeon finder in the long run as more people learn those roles.

And I agree that something needs to be done to shorten the queue times for DPS.

What makes me grumpy is that this is a bandaid fix. It says “people don’t want to tank in the dungeon finder, what can we do to make them?”, rather than “people don’t want to tank in the dungeon finder, why is that?”.

The thing is, I can – off the top of my head, and without even thinking very hard about it – come up with several quality-of-life improvements Blizzard could implement to ease some of the tension in dungeon finder groups. (Note: I wouldn’t want these restrictions in place for low-level dungeons, just the higher-level ones… let’s say Wrath content and onwards.)

In no particular order:

  • Check what specs people have before they queue for a dungeon, and block them from roles accordingly.
    In other words, to queue as a healer you have to have the majority of your points placed into a healing tree (holy priest / paladin, restoration druid / shaman, disc priest); to queue as a tank, you have to have the majority of your points placed into a tanking tree (protection warrior / paladin, blood death knight, feral druid with points placed into one or more tanking talents such as Thick Hide, Natural Reaction, Pulverize); to queue as DPS, you have to have the majority of your points placed into a DPS tree (you might think this is unnecessary, but I’ve seen so many mono-spec tanks and healers queuing as DPS, either by accident or on purpose).
    This would, of course, take into account both talent specs if you’ve bought dual-spec.
  • Check the gear people have before they queue for a dungeon, and block them from roles accordingly.
    This is going to be more complicated to implement than the first idea, especially considering the overlap of stats for several classes (feral druids and just about any healing class); it might end up being necessary to check gems, enchants and reforges. Probably a bit too complicated to be implemented, really, but one can dream.
  • Splitting need rolls into main spec and offspec.
    If an item with tanking stats drops and a tank and DPS both needroll it, the tank should win it; likewise for healers and DPS. Allowances will of course need to be made for gear overlaps (spirit items are not just for healers, but there is no reason for a mage or warlock to roll on spirit cloth; feral druids of both types share armor with rogues and weapons with hunters, and a feral druid tank shouldn’t end up with higher priority on loot versus rogues and hunters – but they should end up with higher priority on tanking trinkets; and so on) as well as more hybrid items (take the axe from Altairus or the sword from Rajh, for instance – they’re good tank one-handers for a warrior or paladin and good DPS one-handers for a frost death knight or Single-minded Fury based fury warrior).
    This should probably be done internally, rather than complicating the roll interface any further, but players should obviously be notified by the system when rolls happen.

There is, unfortunately, nothing that can be done to fix the “people flinging abuse at each other” issue; although I hope the dungeon finder call to arms will lead more DPS to try out a tank or healer offspec or alt, and therefore end up respecting tanks and healers a bit more (like Gavendo says), it’s probably not going to do anything to fix the “primadonna tank” / “primadonna healer” syndrome, and might even aggravate it (“well Blizzard thinks I’m special and important enough to give me extra incentives to queue, you DPS scrubs should just shut up and be glad one such as me is here to help you out”).

But I’d love to see the above suggestions implemented. The first one, in particular, would make queuing for a random dungeon a lot more pleasant for DPS, since it would eliminate the “DPS with no tanking or healing spec decided he wanted to queue-hop” disaster entirely. Wouldn’t do anything for the gear, but considering I’ve seen people with the right spec but not-so-right gear (tanks whose only tanking items were their 1h weapon and shield, for instance) succeed at tanking or healing heroics, especially with a healthy amount of CC, it would work out better than the current system.

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

Posted in Healing, PuG business, Tanking with tags , , on April 7, 2011 by Aeliel

4.1 Preview – Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

Of all the godawful ideas. Good heavens.

I have two tanks (feral druid and prot paladin), one healer (disc priest), and two pure DPS (hunter and warlock) at the level cap. All of them are geared for heroics and running them pretty consistently, although I’ve found myself taking the DPS queue on my feral druid more often than not simply because it gives me the time to do dailies.

On the surface, rewarding tanks and healers for queuing with a goody bag containing gold, gems, flasks, mounts and pets is a good idea. (I’m certainly happy that I’ll be getting extra shinies for something I do anyway.) And yeah, more people will queue as tanks or healers, so it’ll help with the queue length.

But it won’t do anything to fix the real problem with the dungeon finder – the attitude of people running heroics.

Tanks have instant queue because there are so few of them. And there are so few of them because of the prevailing attitude towards tanks in the dungeon finder. Jinxed Thoughts has an excellent post on the scarcity of tanks and reasons for it, and I agree with it. I keep tanking in the dungeon finder because ultimately, I enjoy it, but if I didn’t enjoy it, not all the goody bags in the world would get me to do it.

This change might help keep tanks from dropping mid-run when their item doesn’t drop from a boss (at which point the run dissolves and the DPS are left staring at the screen and going “I sat in the queue for 45 minutes for this?”), but that’s really all it’ll do.

On the other hand, my absolute lack of any faith in humanity predicts we will see an increase in:

  • People queuing as tanks or healers when they don’t have the spec. The dungeon finder doesn’t check your spec. If your class can perform the role of a tank or of a healer, it’ll allow you to queue as that, no questions asked. People already do this to queue-hop, with no intention of performing the role they queued as – and then they try badgering the DPS who sat through a long queue because they wanted to DPS into healing or tanking instead of them. Now that there’s a goody bag as a reward, it’ll only get worse.
  • People queuing as tanks or healers when they don’t have the gear. As far as the dungeon finder is concerned, if you have the right ilvl you’re fine. This tends to lead to people trying to tank or heal in PVP gear, or wearing completely inappropriate gear (for example, a protection paladin trying to tank in mostly healing gear).
  • Disrespect and abuse towards DPS coming from tanks and healers. You know the type. “You guys are a dime a dozen, that’s why you have long queues, you should’ve rolled an useful character instead.” “DPS is easy.” “Oh just go ahead and drop if you don’t like it, it’ll take 30 seconds to get a replacement for you anyway.”
  • Disrespect and abuse towards tanks and healers coming from DPS. If you’ve ever tanked or healed, you also know the type. “Go go go go go go.” “lol we don’t need CC” “WTF healer why are you OOM all the time” “lol your [health / mana] sucks, you’re not geared for this GTFO” “we don’t need marks keep pulling” “HOLD THREAT BETTER STUPID TANK” “WTF WHY DID I DIE STUPID HEALER” and so on. The dungeon finder is a toxic environment in general.
  • People rolling on tanking and healing items against tanks and healers. “I’m trying to gear up my offspec so I can get shorter queues and the goody bags.” More often than not, these people then proceed to complain if a tank or healer rolls need on DPS items. Never mind that such behaviour only decreases the amount of tanks and healers queuing in the dungeon finder. (I enjoy tanking a lot, and I even enjoy healing on my priest, and yet nothing will make me drop a run and go play something else faster than people needrolling against me for their offspec without even asking. And never mind that “tanks and healers get shorter queues” has been the case since the dungeon finder was launched, and it’s incredibly easy to level 80-85 as a tank or healer entirely through the dungeon finder (there are crafted pieces to start you out, or you can just quest through Hyjal or Vashj’ir to gear up a bit) and be heroic-ready the moment you hit 85.

tl;dr – yeah, this change will probably succeed at its stated goal, which is to make DPS dungeon queues shorter. But it won’t make running heroics any more pleasant, and in fact, it’ll probably make it less pleasant instead.