Thursday, February 26, 2015

Communication Breakdown?

It's been quite a patch week. I wasn't really going to write about the patch because I hate just repeating things I agree with from other community members. But I've been wondering about the state of the WoW dev team's communication ability for quite a while. After this week I am really concerned. I can confidently say in my 9 years of playing this game I've never seen worse communication between the developers and the players than I have this week. And it didn't even start this week.

For a while I have thought Blizzard's timing for patch 6.1 was a misstep. Why on earth did they feel the need to drop it so close to the opening of Blackrock Foundry? The timing has created all kinds of confusion for players. Is BRF a new tier or not? Where are my BRF follower missions? Do we need the new +125 food to stand a chance in Blackrock? I've seen all these questions and tons more over and over again since the date for 6.1 was announced. I really believe a ton of confusion could have been alleviated if they had waited to release 6.1 until all the LFR wings of BRF were open. The division between the raid tier and that patch would have been obvious. And why the rush for a "features patch" (that's a new one to me)? Did we really have to get 1-click work orders (should have been in at launch) and a selfie camera (who cares) asap?

To make a bad situation worse Blizzard communicated patch details horribly. I don't know why they used such a convoluted system for spawning the new crafting vendors in the first place, but it became clear by Wednesday that the players did not get it, including myself. I'm rarely the smartest guy in the room, but I do my homework. I didn't fully understand the "system" until today, and that required a great explanation from Blizzardwatch. Not Blizzard. It goes on and on. Players didn't understand the changes to follower missions and equipment levels. Or professions. Or the Twitter-Real ID issue. Now, why someone would be comfortable with completely open Twitter but not Real ID is baffling to me, but that's a different topic. So much confusion! Like no other week I've ever seen, including the launch of five expansions. Thank god I play a hunter. I can't imagine how hard it might have been for support classes to get good information on their class changes. Something has deteriorated in Blizzard's ability to communicate with its customers. I'm not going to pretend to know what it is. Ghostcrawler was awesome, and we don't have him anymore. Maybe it's the scatter shot approach (see what I did there hunters?) to where info goes. What I mean is sometimes it's a blog, sometimes it's a blue forum post, occasionally it's twitter (and about 500 different accounts to track), rarely it's redditt or twitch or a podcast interview.You get the idea. I don't know what it is, but after the last three days I'm convinced of the existence of a big communication problem. There was a clear pattern of players feeling like things they were promised were not delivered. Even if that is perception and not reality, it's an incredibly dangerous situation for a company relying on happy subscribers to sustain their cash cow of an MMO. Especially at a time when a big chunk of them already feel screwed about the lack of flying in Warlords. I don't think anything sums up the communication problems related to 6.1 better than this twitter thread. Somebody down in Irvine needs to take charge of the message and how it is disseminated. And probably soon if they want to keep subscription numbers up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Favorite Raiding Glyph

Let's talk about glyphs. Frankly, let's talk about anything other than how the three specs sim and which talents we should take. For good reasons, that's about all the hunter community has been discussing since the launch of WoD. Now that we can play any spec we want, and have more talent options than any time I can remember, I feel ready to talk about something else.

I really like Glyph of Endless Wrath. I love Glyph of Deterrence. But hands down my favorite glyph for raiding is Glyph of Animal Bond. I've talked to many hunters who don't use it. The reasoning is always along the lines of, "It doesn't do anything for my abilities, so why bother?" And yes, it is more fun to enhance one's personal game play. But it's also pretty damn fun to down bosses, and Glyph of Animal Bond is amazing for downing bosses. A 10% increase to all your healing received is going to really add up over the course of a boss fight. At least for me it does. When I'm learning a new fight (or new role in it) I will end up in the bad stuff at some point. I don't think I've survived Tectus yet without a battle res. And even if you're way better at avoiding damage than I am, so many fights have unavoidable, raid-wide damage. At those times, when your healers are doing everything they can to just get the group through a high damage phase, the extra 10% healing could mean the difference between life or death. It will at least give your healers a little extra breathing room. And that's never a bad thing.

To me, this is the real cost of going with Lone Wolf for your level 100 talent. Now, my inherent bias toward the talent is well documented, but that's not what I'm talking about today. I have actually backed off a bit and have used LW in raids a few times. It turns out I'd rather not have a pet then have a long cast time Focusing Shot. I'm trying to like FS, but that's a topic for another time. But when a hunter chooses Lone Wolf they are not going to get the benefit from Glyph of Animal Bond. I really, really hate giving that up in a raid. Any time I consider going Lone Wolf for a fight I ask myself if I should give up that extra healing. If my group needs to squeeze out every drop of damage we can to beat a timer, it's probably worth it. On the other hand, if your healers are struggling to keep up and your group's damage is in a good spot, Lone Wolf might not be your best choice. It will depend on your specific situation, but for me, more often than not the healing benefits of Glyph of Animal Bond are more useful than the 1k dps increase I get from using Lone Wolf.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Comes Early

This week's buffs to Survival and Beast Mastery mean all three specs are close enough in DPS to allow player choice. Obviously, certain specs will still shine on certain fights, which has and always will be the case. The important thing here is play the spec you want (and hopefully excel at). If people give you crap for playing with a pet (or without one depending on their level of hunter ignorance) they are wrong-not you. Get good at your two favorite specs, grab some pets, and go be a hunter again.

And there was much rejoicing from the hunters.

For about 5 minutes.

I have already seen a TON of comments and tweets about Survival needing more. Some mention the rotation's feel, the lack of on demand burst damage, and no execute ability. These are all valid points. I've said myself (before the buffs) that there is plenty of room for Kill Shot in Survival's toolbox. So I share the feelings of these other hunters. But now that we have decent spec parity, CAN WE JUST NOT FUCK WITH IT FOR A WHILE PLEASE? Clearly balancing hunter specs is pretty hard. Blizzard couldn't get it done before releasing WoD, even with months of beta evidence to guide them. Now that we're in a decent place, adding Kill Shot back into SV is just going to lead to more months of adjustments.

Ok, that said SV does need something. As much as love the spec's flavor and utility ability pruning has left it feeling just a little empty, especially compared to BM. I would propose giving SV better interrupt options than the other two hunter specs. SV seems to be the utility/PvP flavor of hunters these days. On top of that, Counter Shot's cooldown feels long a lot of the time. I mean looooong. I would love to trade Enhanced Entrapment for a perk that gives us a 12 or 15 second Counter Shot. Even an SV only glyph that reduces the CD would work. Or hell, give SV Scatter Shot back and remove the damage part of it.. When you have those fights where you can be the interrupt person, throw on the glyph and go. Managing your dots and procs AND interrupting every 12 seconds or so would certainly add some complexity to SV that so many hunters are asking for. I dare say it would be much more interesting than just adding Kill Shot back into the last 20% of the fight. And it wouldn't effect DPS balance at all.

Final thoughts: Personally, after the last month I'm happier about hunters than I have been in a while. I'm willing to just sit tight until we have to do this all over again due to set bonuses and gear scaling. But if you really want to muck around more with Survival, maybe damage dealing isn't the place to do it. Obviously Blizzard isn't as good at balance as they used to be.

I want to acknowledge the work that Bendak and Delirium are doing these days. Bendak has been really vocal on his blog and the Hunting Party Podcast about this ridiculous spec situation. And Delirium supports the community with amazing theorycrafting I could never hope to accomplish. I owe both of these guys a beer or five.

My last thing: A lot of hunters will be picking up Beast Mastery this week. There is a ton of conflicting information out there about secondary stats and when to use Focus Fire. This post by Delirium convinced me of when to use it, but my point is be a critical consumer of information. Know WHY you believe one side or the other. Also know that we as a community have a lot more testing to do, especially with all these adjustments over that last few months.

Hey Blizzard, I predicted this bullshit months ago.