What your Rogue wants you to know

April 18, 2014

What Your Rogue Wants You to Know (and Enemy Rogues *Don’t* Want You to Know)

Hey, there, I’m a rogue and I would like nothing better than to sink my daggers into your back. Well, unless you’re my teammate; then I’d like nothing better than to sink my daggers into the back of whatever is attacking you. You want to know something funny? I need *your* help to do either one.

 

Rogues Are Opportunistic

Rogues are, quite literally, Ambush predators. We are the lion that picks off the straggling zebra, or the crocodile that snags the unwary gazelle. As such, one of the best and easiest ways to thwart us is to stay with your group.

One of my most common tactics is to Sap a target and see what happens. Despite the popularity of the SaySapped addon, which notifies nearby teammates that my target has been sapped, it is not at all uncommon for the group to run ahead without their sapped teammate. When/if that happens, they’re mine. What’s more, the gap normally gives me time to re-stealth and do it again, so even a flag group of 2-3 can be picked off by a single rogue if they are slow enough (or I catch them early enough).

As such, if you see somebody standing still with a swirling circle over their heads, or if they have the SaySapped addon that warns you of the Sap, stay close. The rogue may choose to wait for an easier target, or not attack at all. Even if they do attack, you have an excellent chance of saving your teammate or at least killing the rogue if you stay nearby.

 

Rogues Work Best From Stealth

A Rogue caught out in the open is relatively easy prey.  Especially at lower levels we are the proverbial glass cannons. We tend to have smaller health pools and less armor, relying on CDs for survival. We rely on surprise and stealth to get in close and kill our enemy before he can fight back.

As such, a Rogue should always attack from behind. An enemy will never see you sneaking up behind him, but alert players may see you coming in from the front. When I’m on my hunter, I can easily bring a noob rogue out of stealth before he has a chance to attack. I have been able to catch up to three rogues at a time, because they were streaming in from the front. As a rogue myself, I can bring up to two enemy rogues out of stealth (depending on my energy situation) before they have a chance to Ambush. I can only imagine they were sitting in the GY accusing me of cheating, but it was nothing more than a very poor choice for their avenue of attack. If you are a Rogue, take the extra second or two to circle around behind the enemy or you may well find yourself a free HK. If you are the teammate of a Rogue and you see him circling behind the enemy instead of bee-lining in from the front, try to be patient and understanding. My best shot at saving you is killing your attacker, and the best chance at that is to attack from behind. If I attack from behind, I almost certainly will kill him, even if he gets you first. If I move through his line of vision, all I’m doing is gambling with *both* of our lives.

As a Rogue, one of my favorite things to do is to Sap an enemy Rogue, bringing it right out of stealth. Pay attention, folks. If a rogue suddenly appears in your midst, kill it before it gets a chance to re-stealth.  If it looks like my teammates aren’t going to kill it in time, I’ll hop in and do the deed myself, but IMO, it’s much better to have all those hunters, warlocks, and mages in the group nuke it down. Think of Rogues as a six-shooter pistol: you can’t afford to pray and spray, you need to make every shot count.

 

Rogue Damage Is Front-Loaded

Remember up there, when I was talking about how precious Stealth is? And how we have limited ammunition in our metaphorical guns? Well, Ambush is why. Ambush hits very hard; in fact it’s the hardest-hitting weapon in our arsenal. The catch is that it has some requirements: that we are in Stealth mode and that we are behind the target. This means that we will have only one shot (or two with the Subterfuge talent) to use it. This is why I was really hitting hard on the point of bringing the rogue out of Stealth with an instant attack if you can. If you bring him out of Stealth before he has a chance to Ambush you are taking the teeth out of his attack.

Owing to the front-loaded nature of Rogue attacks, there are a few tips you should use, especially if you are a healer. Priest bubbles are a Rogue’s bane, especially at lower levels when the shield can nearly double the effective health pool of my target: try to keep them up at all times. Keep an eye on your health bar. Thanks to the aforementioned Subterfuge talent, a Rogue may be able to get off two, count ‘em two, Ambushes before he comes out of Stealth. At lower levels, that’s generally enough to take 75-150% of a health pool, depending on crits, gear, etc. As a healer, noticing that drop in health and healing it before the second Ambush hits can be the difference between life and death, but it’s a very tight window. As a target of the attack, noticing that drop in health may give you the chance to pop a CD to minimize damage or move you out of harm’s way before the second shot lands. Again, it takes careful attention and split-second reactions, but it can be done. Having been on both sides of that equation, I can safely say that killing a healer or flag-carrier before they even know you’re there is a great feeling, mirrored by how frustrating it is to have all your work undone by excellent play from an attentive EFC/Healer.

 

Rogues Are a Control Class

Rogues do have some excellent tricks up their sleeve, and yes, coming from Stealth their burst is pretty extraordinary, but once out in the open, we rely on control to carry us through the battle. This is where you can really separate the wheat from the chaff, as far as Rogue skill goes. Bad Rogues just stand toe-to-toe with his opponent and slug it out. Even with a 75% head start on the health bar, that is all too often a losing strategy. Positioning is paramount for a Rogue. Our attacks (like all melee attacks) are more effective from behind, where the effects of an enemy’s dodge, parry, and block are minimized, and just as importantly the opponent’s attacks cannot hit you. The more effective I am at staying behind an opponent, the better my chances at winning any skirmish. If I am simply standing still and fighting you with no CDs and minimal movement, then I have absolutely no respect for your ability to put up a fight. As such, when fighting a Rogue, do your best to keep him in front of you, and use stuns, disorients, snares, and roots to keep him at a safe distance and direction.

Good rogues make effective use of all their tools to survive being caught out in the open. There are some obvious defensive CDs that should be used appropriately, such as Evasion and Combat Readiness, but to a skilled Rogue, even Kidney Shot, Gouge, and Sprint are defensive CDs. Each of these tools can buy me a couple of precious seconds to get a tick of Recuperate or 1-2 ticks of First Aid, which can easily mean the difference between life and death. Evasion and Sprint can also be used to kill a noob hunter who relies too much on Concussive Shot to keep his distance.

Finally, I highly recommend the “go out with a bang” strategy, especially if your targets have no/limited self-healing. If it looks like I am about to die, my last great act of defiance is to dot up as many folks as I can before I die. While it may not seem like much, a ticking dot or bleed can weaken up an opponent so that he can be more easily brought down by your teammates. The way I figure it, if I can take out the healer, whatever damage I do to the rest of the group is gravy. Sadly, all too often I have seen an EFC with 50% or less health run the entire length of the field completely unmolested, but I’ve also had groups that were decent enough to finish him off quickly.

Rogues Aren’t Just For Offense

Rogues make excellent goalies in flag-based combat. Just when a flag or base looks to be completely undefended, BAM! You’re dead on the ground, wondering WTF just hit you. On my latest lowbie Rogue, I play D a lot in WSG. A single rogue can cause a surprising amount of chaos for enemy teams. A single flag-runner that stealths into the base is easy pickings for a rogue. Sap, Ambush, Cheap Shot (Stun), Eviscerate, and it’s usually Game Over. I use Crippling Poison to slow my enemies and a combination of poisons and bleeds to dot them up, so even if they manage to get a few paces on me, I can often kill them without blowing Sprint to catch up. Even with a group of 2-3, I can almost always take out the healer (or EFC, if there is no healer) before the EFC team even knows they’re under attack. With a wingman (a 2nd Rogue or a hunter are particularly effective, especially if it’s a night elf that uses Shadowmeld to stealth), even teams of 4-5 can quickly find themselves in trouble.

In Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, I like to dot up everyone I see, because each tick of the dot interrupts would-be flag-claimers. A good Rogue can neutralize an enemy healer, taking the wind right out of the sails of any incursion team: they aren’t nearly as tough without their healer. When you’re playing D, either guarding a flag or seeking out the enemy flag-carrier, remember, Healers Die First in all but a very few situations (if you’re trying to run out the clock, harassing the EFC with Sap is usually better).


Lowbie BGs

April 11, 2014

I’ve been hitting the lowbie BGs pretty hard this week. I’ve got a hunter, rogue, and disc priest on the burner at the moment and I’m doing ok on all of them (semi-twinked on OP classes, so no surprise there). What annoys me is the overabundance of complete mouth-breathers gumming up the works. What sends me postal is when one of said troglodytes decides to blame others for their fail.

This pretty much sums it up.

my-team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, obviously, it’s not every game, but it gets annoying when you fight hard the whole game and just can’t get anything done because 4-6 members of your team seem intent on being farmed at mid. I’ve noticed something strange. If the other team is also content to stream into mid in little waves, each side happily farming each other in useless HK-gathering combat, then a group of 3 can successfully hold off the enemy team, both being the FC and killing the EFC while the short-bus crowd do the derp dance. But if the other team is even semi-competent, you just can’t carry them, and it is just one of the most frustrating experiences in the whole game. I may be better-skilled or better-geared or both compared to the enemy team. I might be able to handle them 2, 3, or even 4 on 1. What I can’t do is be everywhere all at once. I’ll help the FC and nobody will bring down the EFC. I bring down the EFC solo and nobody helps the FC. It wasn’t so bad when I was with my sister. After all, if you have a ready-made party of 2, you can sometimes help the FC despite himself. But sometimes… just ugh.

In one particularly egregious example, the enemy team had a group of 4 (2 rogues, 2 druids) who would stealth into the flag room and try for the flag. I was playing solo on my rogue, trying defend the flag alone, freeing up all 9 people to get the flag. Twice I killed all 4 of them before they got me, but the third time they learned from their mistake and changed their plan. I killed the resto druid and the two rogues, but the feral ran ahead without them while they kept me busy. Naturally, I gave chase as soon as I could, but it was too late, he had already ran the full length of the field and capped, somehow going completely unmolested by any of my 9 “teammates” who seemed completely oblivious to the fact that there was a BG going on around their heads. This despite the fact that I managed to type “efc tun” mid-combat to warn them where he had went. Just like that, 15 minutes of stellar defense (if I do say so myself) right down the drain.

Tonight was just as frustrating, with roughly half of the teams containing one or more people putting on a veritable clinic of “What NOT to do in a BG.” There’s only so many times that you can see the same stupid fucking druid with 700HP (roughly half of anyone else in the BG) use his various speedboosts to run ahead of the group only to get one-shotted by a rogue and have the flag returned. He seemed to think that the sole purpose of the speedboost in the tunnel is so that he can get there first and then completely abandon the group. My sister and I took to trying to carry it ourselves, but we were always met with enough resistance that we couldn’t cap. (There were always at least 4 of them going after us, and sometimes up to 6-8, if the first 4 had trouble and not once did any of our teammates come to our aid, despite our urging.) It feels like they must all be bots because no human could conceivably be stupid enough to play like that.


Had a Great Day

April 2, 2014

Yesterday was pretty awesome. Askevar whispered me to see if I would fill in for their missing shammy on a SoO normal run. Despite my rather weak gear and the fact that I was winging it (first time on normal mode) I had a really good time. I even got two nice pieces of gear out of the equation (one from bonus roll, one from a drop). I wish I could have rewarded them with some better numbers, but I did the best I could.

After that, I ate some food and took a nap. Waking up refreshed, I decided to take a crack at Brawler’s Guild and brawled my way to rank 8 and the Brawler title. Unfortunately, that’s when I hit Hexos. Or rather, he hit me. I keep making it further and further on him, but I still don’t see any way I’ll ever make it all the way to 0% (my best effort so far is knocking him down to 77%). The spinning thing just messes with my head. It’s a shame, because I really wanted that Mushan Beast from rank 10.


What Your Healer Wants You to Know

March 30, 2014

8 Things Your Healer Wants You to Know in Battlegrounds

(As Conveyed by Famous Movie One-Liners)

Ok, so I’ve been watching a bunch of movies lately, and my sister and I have once again been doing lots of lowbie Battlegrounds. It’s been kind of a mixed bag, as far as that goes, but on our pair of Disc priests we’ve gone a combined 18-5 in BGs, so we’re doing alright for ourselves. As you might expect, when the team is winning, everything is sunshine and roses. We always love to hear “nice heals” or “great heals” and though we hear it often, you can never hear it often enough. The thing is, when the team is losing, it’s always “c’mon heals” or “heals are shit” or some other variation on “I am super special awesome and could not possibly be to blame, therefore it’s the heals’ fault.” Well, I hate to throw a monkey-wrench into your whole “carry me harder” plan, but there are a few things you should know before you open your big mouth in BG chat…

“Come With Me if You Want to Live” – The Terminator (1984)

I want to heal you. Really, I do. The thing is, I have these pesky little rules I have to follow. You need to be in range. You need to be in Line of Sight. Chances are, I’ll need to stop moving long enough to cast. This means that if you are running ahead of me like a madman, especially if I become sapped or stunned (you may notice this by the speech bubble that appears above my head informing you of this), and/or you’re blowing speed-boost CDs to travel faster than I can, you aren’t going to be getting any heals. You know whose fault that is? Hint: it’s yours, for being a dumb-ass.

As a healer, each BG I’ll have somewhere between 9-14 other people, the vast majority of whom expect me to be their personal immortality cheat code.  I can’t chase down and be in range of all of them. What’s more, even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. It’s not my responsibility to run after 14 people with a wet-nap to wipe your booboos. You want heals? Help me out enough to be where you can get them.

“I ain’t got time to bleed.” – Predator (1987)

Ok, so you’ve mastered the first lesson up there, or you are at least non-retarded/lucky enough to actually be in range of my heals. Good for you! What now, though? Wait a second, my heals stopped. What gives?

Turn around. Ok, you see those 3,4, 5, (or more) enemies wailing away on me? They’ve diverted your healing into another target: me. If I’m busy fighting for my own survival I probably won’t be able to spare much, if any, healing for you.  If you would be so kind as to kill or maybe even CC one or two of them that’d be just ducky.

This is called peeling: the idea is that you’re going to put enough pressure onto somebody that they can’t afford to ignore you anymore. If they’re attacking you, they aren’t chain-CCing me, which means that I’ll be able to heal you. It’s a win-win. If they continue to ignore you, they die. If they switch to you, they die. As a healer, it’s always better for them to be attacking you instead of me. If they’re attacking you, I can focus all of my healing on you, and I won’t be suffering chains of CC, silences, or piling up the pushback from taking hits. This isn’t to say that I will always be able to heal through anything, but the best chance of survival for both of us is for them to think (incorrectly) that you are a bigger threat than I am.

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?!?” – Batman (1989)

Especially at the lower levels, there are tons of useful little gadgets that help you out. Most of these come from professions, but they usually don’t require professions to use them. Potions, bandages, dynamite, healthstones, food, buffs (flasks/elixirs/scrolls). The boosts from these things may not be powerful enough to carry you through poor play, but wise and efficient use of them can be devastating. Sometimes even a little boost is enough to push you over the top. These things become particularly important to pure classes because what limited self-healing they have usually comes at higher levels.

“I know Kung Fu.” – The Matrix (1999)

Knowledge is power. One of the great things about add-ons is that they give you a lot of information. Now, this information is almost always information that the game itself gives you anyway, but the add-ons throw some neon lights on the sign so that you’re sure not to miss it.

Which add-ons you will find useful varies from player to player, and has a lot to do with your role and spec, but these are some that almost everyone will find useful:

SaySapped: When you become sapped, you automatically /say “Sapped” to draw the attention of your nearby teammates. Only some of them will be smart enough to stick around, anyway, but it’s good to know who is mentally functional when deciding on healing priorities.

Battle Herald: This handy dandy little gizmo serves two useful functions: first, it replaces some default UI elements (like the scoreboard) with a better version that gives you more information, more quickly. Secondly, it announces system messages (like “The Alliance has Assaulted the Stables”) aloud in a professionally-voice-acted sound clip. The reason this makes such a difference is that you a) have to look away from the action less often, and b) gain more information more quickly when you do have to glance at the scoreboard.

BG Defender: This addon creates  a mini-ui to call for help. It automatically detects your current location (i.e. “The Lumber Mill”) and inserts it into your cry for help. Simply click the number 4 on the UI and it delivers the following message to BG chat: “Lumber Mill, 4 Incoming.” It even has an all clear button to let your teammates know that you killed the incursion and they can stop rushing to your rescue.  This is invaluable for saving time while calling out incomings. The earlier you are able to call for help, the more time your teammates have to come to your aid. Every second you save on typing is a second of travel time for the cavalry.

“You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.” – Men in Black (1997)

Skill is important in PVP. Really, really important. Still, gear is not inconsequential. Better gear means you have more health, hit enemies harder, and generally perform better. Regardless of your skill level, better gear will help you out. This is especially true at low levels. If you have half the HP of everyone else in the BG you are wearing a bullseye on your back. No matter how awesome I am at healing, I can’t heal through a one-shot. The more HP you have, the more wiggle room I have. That’s not just good for you, that’s good for everyone. The less often I have to focus on you, the more often I can spread heals around.

When the time for triage comes, better gear is one of the factors I consider. It may seem harsh or elitist, but I have to go with the guy that I feel gives us the best shot at winning/accomplishing the goal. That’s generally the guy that I have the best shot at keeping alive. In fairness, the guy that interrupts, CCs, and peels the enemy is also at the top of my list. Not coincidentally, the people who take PVP seriously enough to have good gear also tend to be the ones who take it seriously enough to know what they are doing. Help yourself out: be one of those guys.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.” – Star Trek II (1982)

There comes a time in every Battleground when I am left with a choice: follow you, or do what we need to win the BG. Let me just tell you now, for the record: I’ll choose the objective every day of the week and twice on Sunday. This means that you should know what you’re doing and how to do it. Don’t just trade HKs with the enemy team.

Fight at the Flag: If you are defending a flag, consolidate your defense by fighting at it.  A common tactic is to draw away the main defense from the flag while a stealther sneaks behind to claim it. Don’t fall for this simple ploy. On the other hand, if you are a stealther and you see the enemy abandoning the flag, take advantage of their carelessness. If I am a healer and I am defending the flag, that’s where I will be. If you want heals, don’t go fight on the road or get pulled into a maze of tunnels. These things are range and LoS nightmares.

Fight at the Flag II  – Fight with Your Friends: If you are in a capture-the-flag match (such as WSG), stick with your friendly flag carrier (FC or FFC) or else attack the enemy flag carrier (EFC) as a group. Fighting in the middle of the field rarely accomplishes anything, which is why most people refer to it as “derping at mid.” Streaming in one or two at a time against their team is a great way to make sure that you are always at a disadvantage. Take a second to group up and fight as a team.

Fight at the Flag III – In Soviet BGs, Flag Fights at You: If you are the flag carrier, it’s almost always better to stick with your entourage than to run ahead. Sure, sometimes circumstances might align such that making a break for it will help you cap, but most of the time, all you’re doing is running away from your heals and peels. This makes you a really easy target. Understand that leaving the group is always a risk: if you intend to do it, make sure you’ve done the math and feel that it’s worth the risk.

Fight at the Flag IV – Highway to the Danger Zone: One of the surest ways to separate yourself from your group is to pick up a speed boost (or use a CD to grant you one) when none of your teammates can follow suit. Sure, if you’re flying solo or you’re making a mad dash past their last line of defense, go for it. Just be aware that if you are traveling with a group, and you take the only speed boost, you will very quickly run yourself right out of range of their protection, especially if you were faster than them to start with (I’m looking at you druids, shammies, rogues, and monks).

Pick the Best Man for the Job: When it comes time to pick up the flag, it always kills me a little inside when I see that the person who picks up the flag suffers from one or more types of terminal stupidity. If you have half (or less) of the HP of everyone around you, if you wear cloth or leather and have no defensive CDs, or if you have absolutely no idea where you’re going or what you’re supposed to do with the flag, then DON’T PICK IT UP. No, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever get to enjoy the action just because you’re a squishy or are undergeared, but stop and think about it a minute. The FC is going to be a target of all the enemy’s attacks. Who has a better shot of surviving that: the rogue with 700HP or the Prot Warrior with 1,800? The prot warrior has better armor, more defensive abilities and over twice the HP. He’s marked as a tank for a reason, so let him tank.

Don’t be a Statistic: If you’re being Graveyard Camped (i.e. repeatedly killed in your own GY), and you can’t break through, just stop rezzing (click “Cancel” to refuse the rez or else just walk out of range as a ghost). You don’t have to be free honor candy to the enemy and they’ll usually lose interest and finish the BG when the free HKs dry up.

Defense Wins Championships: It also wins BGs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people leave a base/flag completely unattended so that they can run off and assault something else.  I pride myself on playing D in BGs. Yes, it is often less fun or exciting than assaulting the enemy, but it’s also the surest way to win, particularly in resource-gathering or flag-capturing BGs. When I take a base and hold it for the full duration of the BG, defending it against all challengers, I pat myself on the back like an NFL linebacker. “This? This is MY house. You don’t come into MY house.”

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Communication is one of the marks of a good team. When BG chat is full of people calling out incoming, calling for help, or divulging the location of the EFC, I always feel good about our chances. That 2 minute window before the BG starts is a great time to make plans, divide up duties, etc. If you want to be a flag carrier or try for an achievement, that’s the time to bring it up (just don’t be too sore if the group has other plans).

Then there is the other side of the coin. If BG chat is filled with “solo heroes” venting out their frustrations about the other team poking holes in their Rambo complex, I know I’m in for a long day. Even with a gear and individual skill advantage, failure to work together as team is an easy way to lose a match.

Even if you are feeling stressed and annoyed, try to control the urge to vent your frustrations, especially by projecting them onto your teammates. For one, your repeated deaths most likely aren’t their fault. For another thing, they may well have a rebuttal that will leave you looking foolish and embarrassed when they explain this prospect. That aside, filling up BG Chat with useless whining and moaning means that you a) aren’t fighting, and b) are interfering with the lines of communication for those who actually are still fighting.

If you absolutely must vent, try to save it for your guild, after the match. During the BG, “EFC GY side” is far more valuable than “OMG, heals. You suck.” Yes, even on the very rare occasions when the heals actually do suck.

Bottom line: don’t make assumptions. Make clear requests, verify that your teammates are cooperating.  Just because you yell “Heals on me” in BG Chat doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon the group and go be your pocket heals. Most healers will go where they feel they are most needed. Quite often, that is the flag-carrier group, so yeah, let us know if you want to carry it. Just be sure we’re actually with you before you get too far ahead. Remember, you aren’t our commanding officers, mothers, or bosses: you need to make sure we’re on board, too.

“Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. But then later there’s running and then screaming.” – Jurassic Park (1993)

PVP can be very frustrating. Battlegrounds, in particular, can be trying to the soul. They highlight the worst aspects of human nature and combine that with all the worst aspects of the LFD/LFR system. The inherent weakness of randomly-assigned teams in a team-sport environment can make for some sore bottoms and bruised egos. I get it. No, really, I do. But try to keep your chin up.   Some of the most frustrating BGs I’ve had have been ones that we actually won. Try to separate, in your head, the difference between the natural difficulty of an even match-up and soul-crushing horror of being curb-stomped, even though sometimes they feel like the same thing. Remember this: death is inevitable, fun is not. You will very rarely make it all the way through a BG unscathed, so there’s no reason to set unrealistic goals. Just stay calm and have some fun.

If winning is what matters most to you, try to focus on little victories. I look at it like this: it’s 3 on 1 and I’m going to die. I can accept that. But how many can I take with me? If it’s one or two, I call that a win. If I can lower their health enough that my teammate running up behind me can finish them off, I call that a win. If I can just take out the healer, I call that a win. If I can take their flag long enough to slow down their incoming resources, I call that a win. And so on, and so forth. Sure, you may not be able to win every skirmish in every BG, but there is plenty of honor to go around (both figuratively and literally). Try to focus less on the “I keep dying” and focus more on the “This is what I can do for the team. This is the difference I am making.” Even if it turns out to be insufficient to win the BG, you can at least rest assured that you did your part.

If you just like the thrill of combat, try to focus on that. In particular, if you are losing skirmishes, try to focus on what your opponent is doing to beat you. What, if anything, can you do to counteract it? Tell your teammates to focus that player? Ask for peels? Can you alter your own tactics to counter it? Can you learn from them and use their own tactics against them? Getting stomped may be a painful way to learn a lesson, but if you keep a level head about you, it can still be a very effective way.

TLDR:

“Help me help you.”  – Jerry Maguire (1996)


Alt Updates

March 16, 2014

What’s that? Alt #17 and class # 11 at 90? Yeah, that’s right. That’s how I roll.

Also, this week:

  • Hit Ulduar and claimed the Rusted Proto-Drake mount and the Starcaller title, along with a bunch of other achievements and some nifty transmog gear.
  • Picked up the Tome of Dinomancy and tamed myself some pretty dinosaurs.
  • Completed the Savior of Stoneplow achievement.
  • Leveled up some battle pets.

Alt Updates

March 14, 2014

Apparently I’ve been neglecting my alt updates. I thought I’d been posting, but I guess it was all lost in the twisting nether. So, anyway, I’ve gotten an Enhancement Shaman and another Protection Warrior (both dwarves) up to 90, bringing the grand total up to 16 level-capped toons, and the monk is now 89 and closing in fast. I may start hitting Proving Grounds more frequently or I may find something else to distract myself. I do tend to have a rather short attention span when it comes to completing projects.

For now, the Proving Grounds Gold Tank challenge is proving to be my kryptonite. I can get to level 10 with some regularity but I just can’t seem to survive that final wave. I may have to brush up on my strategy guides.


Hearthstone

March 12, 2014

I saw the free mount offer and so decided to check out Hearthstone (as was undoubtedly Blizzard’s intention). A few firsts impressions.

  • Gameplay itself is pretty fun. It’s not as good as some other CCGs I’ve played (Magic: The Gathering, for example), but it seems to offer a nice mix of simple and complex.There were enough mechanics to allow you to set up combos without being completely overwhelming. The tutorial was pretty well done; introducing one new mechanic at a time was a good choice. The old axiom “easy to play, difficult to master” comes into play here.
  • The UI is terrible. Everything from character selection to deck selection to the deck editor is harder than it needs to be. Obvious features are missing, and some of the options listed don’t actually work.
  • It feels unpolished and buggy, especially for a launch. By my standards, this game is at the beginning of the “playable beta” stage. It simply is not ready for release.
  • The matchmaking feature, in particular, needs work. It seems to randomly pair you with literally anyone in the queue. An match has basically 3 outcomes: 1) you get stomped, 2) it’s a tight match, or 3) you pwn the other guy. A balanced match should lean toward option 2 with options 1 & 3 being a rarity.  Granted, I don’t have a massive sampling thus far, but to date, 1 & 3 seem to be the norm in roughly 2:1 W/L ratio, with tight matches being such a rarity as to suggest they may as well never happen. I either get stomped quickly by someone with a massive card superiority (they’ll get out more rare cards by round 5 than I even own), or I overwhelm somebody so completely that I can only imagine they never knew what hit them (meaning I probably have a massive card superiority over them). Twice I’ve beaten an opponent so fast they never got a single point of damage off against me and several other times it was 5 or less damage. Whether this was bad matchmaking, poor shuffling RNG, or both, doesn’t really matter to me. It wasn’t fun for me and I can’t imagine it was fun for them, either. The system(s) need work.

So, TLDR: overall a positive experience, but it feels incomplete.


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