Monday, July 21, 2008

Is Season 4 Fair? - Part 2 of "Welfare Epics"

Yeaaaah, this is late. I'm just not going to make an excuse and jump right into things. XD

Admittedly, my article on welfare epics was outdated long before I posted it. So think of this as a bit of a continuation of that article so I can update the argument to include the newest content.

Last time, my argument was that there was some relative truth to the "welfare epics" theory. Generally speaking, the PvP gear is interchangeable with PvE gear despite stressing different functions (longevity versus instantaneous results) and the same is not true vice versa due to the resilience stat. So the new question is, if Seasons one through three were comparable to Tier four through six, what does that make Season 4? Is it unfair that there's a Season 4 available and not a Tier 7?

Now, my first instinct is to say the PvEr's got first advantage with the release of Sunwell in patch 2.4. However, before I form a real opinion, I need to compare the available gear to one another to see which, if either, is superior. I will once again compare Paladin Holy gear for simplicity's sake.

Sunwell |||| Season 4
------- |||| -----------
Armor..............8104 |||| Armor..............8055
Stamina...........207 |||| Stamina...........313
Intelligence.....194 |||| Intelligence.....192
Spell Crit.........93 (100) |||| Spell Crit.........185 (189)
+ Healing........550 |||| + Healing........397
+ Mp5.............65 (70) |||| + Mp5.............0
Resilience.......0 |||| Resilience.......136 (143)
Spell Haste.....64 |||| Spell Haste.....0
5x Red Socket |||| 4x Red Socket
3x Yellow Socket |||| 2x Yellow Socket
3x Blue socket |||| 0x Blue Socket
1x Meta Socket |||| 1x Meta Socket

It is also worth noting that there is no set bonus for having the Sunwell pieces - they aren't part of a set, I'm just comparing the two sets. The lack of slots in comparison on the S4 gear is made up by the two miscellaneous bonuses: The Glove equip which gives a +2% crit chance to Flash of Light spells, and the 4 pc bonus which gives +30% healing to Holy Shock spells.

What we see here is a relative change, but not because of the direct scale in between the gear. Only because we have, at this point, reached the highest tiers and it's gear expectation that scales terribly, not the gear itself. While you could gem for a decent amount of Mp5 to make up for the deficiency, it wouldn't be *enough* for Sunwell standards. To be honest, that could also be true for the S3 to T6 comparison. However, wearing S4 would make you pretty much set on T5 content and under - and it's arguably quite easy to get at least a couple pieces of S4.

The problem of welfare epics, therefore, is not that they're interchangeable at the same level, but that they are easier to obtain to blast through lower level content. Basically, you can skip T4 content, jump straight into T5 and early T6, and get to late T6 to Sunwell content without half the effort other players put into the work. That is the ethical issue that I, and many others, have the problem with.

Even badge gear can't be considered "welfare" as you really do have to work to get the amount of badges it takes to get similar gear. Heroics aren't easy unless you have people way outgearing it, and it's simply a lot easier to grind honor or arena points than it is to farm badges. Perhaps that's a personal opinion, but anyone can jump into a BG or make a 2's team for points - gathering a tank, a healer, and two others to do a Heroic (or gathering a 10-man raid for Kara) is a little more difficult.

What I think I'm most annoyed with is that Blizzard keeps saying they try to make PvP and PvE interchangeable, yet they failed miserably at it by introducing the Resilience stat. There really wasn't a reason to introduce it in the first place - all it really accomplished is screwing over all crit-based damage classes, such as Rogues, Mages, Retribution Paladins, and Boomkins. They all *rely* on their ability to do burst damage, especially when fighting healers. All Resilience did was tip the scales in the healer's favor for survivability - it doesn't really help any of the other classes or specs.

To answer my self-imposed question, Season 4 is not fair - at the very least, it provides near-equivalent T6 (or superior in some cases) Gloves to every class except Tanks for practically no effort. As to the answer for Welfare Epics, while I don't like the concept, I can't say I don't use them. Granted, Blizzard didn't provide me in particular much of a choice - let me know when you see some actual Retribution Paladin gear drop in PvE content. I'll start looking for the flying pigs. =P

Tomorrow, I'll start the delve into the new Paladin talents. That will be the next three posts - distinct analysis on each of the trees for paladins. Unfortunately, I won't be doing this for other classes, since I simply don't possess the knowledge for high-end talents for any other class. Though I may be persuaded to do some rough one-day analysis of particular classes and my thoughts if people really have a demand for it. Simply comment in the next few days and I'll be happy to comply!

Friday, July 18, 2008

90% of All Statistics are Made Up - "Welfare Epics"

Sorry for the tardiness on this one - this week's been rough. Rest assured there will still be another post tomorrow. Expect a continuation; this article is a bit old and written before Patch 2.4, so I don't take into account Sunwell or S4 gear. I will focus on that in particular tomorrow. Think of this as a primer. =)
Every time I find myself browsing the WoW forums, the biggest "problem" I see peoiple complaining about is the amount of people who never get to see end game content. It's a different percentage every time I see a new thread (though the average seems to be about 6% actually seeing end-game). I can sympathize to an extent. After all, I want to see end game as much as anyone else does. But I feel there's a point that most people are overlooking.
I feel because of the ease of obtaining PvP gear, everyone seems to feel that the game is obligated to hand everything to them. The only class functions who do not benefit from this "welfare epics" system are the tanks - after all, PvP gear has no useful PvE stats for defense and avoidance. Back to my point, people don't have to progress entirely through early PvE content to see later PvE content anymore. This is only true because of the removal of all attunement requirements, from SSC/TK to Hyjal and Black Temple.
What happened when the Hyjal attunement requirement got removed? We saw an influx of PvPers wasting their way through Archimonde after having spent months at the top of Arenas. We saw all the BG farmers use their easily gained PvP items to plow through PvE content.
Allow me to take a step back again. Neither PvE or PvP is easy. At least, not at the furthest tiers. Black Temple isn't a cake walk, and neither is 2k rated Arena. At the very least, Blizzard did a good job of scaling gear requirements for both sides of the game. Running battlegrounds over and over again is much akin to running 5-mans or Heroics repeatedly. Low rated Arenas are kind of like T4 content, mid rated is like T5, and high ratings are like T6. The gear represents these comparisons.
What I have an issue with is the effectiveness of low season PvP in PvE content when the low tier gear for PvE content is practically useless in PvP. Yes, resilience doesn't matter in PvE. But often times, the other stats more than compensate for these wasted points.
Let's make a direct comparison, from the T4 gear to the Season 1. I'm going to use the Paladin Holy gear as it's the easiest to compare between and the best for my own personal knowledge to make educated statements about.

Tier 4 |||| Season 1
------- |||| -----------
Armor..............6136 |||| Armor..............6284
Stamina...........163 (169) |||| Stamina...........209
Intelligence.....164 (167) |||| Intelligence.....141
Spell Crit.........67 |||| Spell Crit.........130 (134)
+ Healing........396 |||| + Healing........257
+ Mp5.............22 (24) |||| + Mp5.............0
Resilience.......0 |||| Resilience.......124 (131)
1x Red Socket |||| 4x Red Socket
2x Yellow Socket |||| 2x Yellow Socket
3x Blue socket |||| 0x Yellow Socket
1x Meta Socket |||| 1x Meta Socket

So, basically, as expected, the S1 gear is made for survivability while the T4 gear supports longevity. While you could easily socket for MP5 and get only slightly lower amount in the S1 than the T4, the same cannot be said for the lack of resilience on the T4 (not that anyone really sockets for resilience as it is). While Blizzard has supposedly supported the interchangeability between PvP and PvE, it seems the PvP items are generally itemized better for this swap than the PvE gear is. This only becomes slightly less true at higher tiers.

Tier 6 |||| Season 2
------- |||| -----------
Armor..............7415 |||| Armor..............7415
Stamina...........193 |||| Stamina...........268
Intelligence.....173 |||| Intelligence.....166
Spell Crit.........116 (118) |||| Spell Crit.........158 (162)
+ Healing........522 (542) |||| + Healing........341
+ Mp5.............42 (44) |||| + Mp5.............0
Resilience.......0 |||| Resilience.......136 (143)
0x Red Socket |||| 4x Red Socket
4x Yellow Socket |||| 2x Yellow Socket
4x Blue socket |||| 0x Yellow Socket
1x Meta Socket |||| 1x Meta Socket

While you have more gem slots in the T6 gear, you still can't make up the deficiency in resilience. And though meeting Mp5 standards in S3 is difficult and won't be on the same par, it's still do-able. On top of this, there is much more availability in other slots (trinkets, rings, misc armor) for Mp5 than there is for resilience.

I do not claim this is an absolute truth for all specs and class combinations, but I do believe I'm onto something. Perhaps there is a truth in the Welfare Epics theory after all.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about Season 4 and the fairness of giving PvPer's the option to higher end gear than is available to PvE'ers - or whether that theory is debunkable.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alliance Vs. Horde - An Interesting Dichotomy

Before I get started with today's topic, I'd like to point out the nifty little polls I've started using over there on the right. Last week I asked if people played the same gender as they actually are - here are the results:
4 said Yes (80%)
1 said No (20%)

While this is a very small number for ratios, I didn't expect a huge response as I have no way of knowing how many readers I have to begin with. But! I hope that these become another draw for people to be active and participate in discussions in my blog - what I write is just a beginning, it's up to the readers to really flesh it out. I hope my humble little blog becomes an interest as far as a place to have discussions, just as much as its a place to read interesting articles.

As for an update from me personally, I'm much more settled into my new life, though my WoW life is still suffering. A three hour time difference has me unable to raid with my guild anymore, so I've taken a more active interest in PvP. Sitting in 2/5 Brutal already, I'm hoping that in the coming weeks I'll improve my arena rating with my Frost Mage buddy and get somewhere good... Provided I'm not forced to switch servers in the mean time. =(

Now, for the actual topic you guys came to read:

Something I've always thought about is whether or not the violence the two factions perpetuate is right or not. Naturally, that behavior is allowed, no, encouraged on PvP servers, and I'm sure the animosity between the two is just as thick on the RP servers. Even people walking on the street in real life will see my Horde button on my bag and send me a glare, or even shout "For the Alliance!" in my direction. And trust me, I respond in kind (I'm sure some of you will find the image of a 5'3" petite girl shouting "For the Horde!" in public Los Angeles highly entertaining).

Yet, the base story for all conflict currently within the World of Warcraft does not explicitly pit Horde versus Alliance. Neither is more good or evil than the other, when it comes to current events of lore (except maybe the Blood Elves. Those guys are pretty *$#$ed up). The bad guys are always a third party, as early as the Scarlet Crusade and as late as Illidan or Kil'Jaeden themselves.

I understand that the current situation is special. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that jazz, right? And yet, for all the "working together" we have in the current storyline, we still kill each other on sight, regularly wage war on each other in battlegrounds, and generally harbor a sense of hatred that is, essentially, racially oriented.

Now, I'm hardly accusing Blizzard of promoting racism. Inciting such against a non-existent race isn't grounds for much of anything. This is merely an observation that I find particularly interesting. Above all, I recognize this is a game and nothing more. I just enjoy social commentary (though if you've been keeping up with my blog for a while, I'm sure you've figured this out by now).

I would like to see more instances of forcing the Alliance and Horde to begrudgingly work together, and not just indirectly as we have been (via the Shattered Sun Offensive, for instance). Scryers versus Aldor content would be entertaining - but it would be counter-productive lore-wise. A'Dal certainly wouldn't stand for it. We do have Wrath of the Lich King around the corner, of course, and it leaves lots of room for creativity. We have to fight off the Scourge once more. Jaina Proudmore has more than a beef with former Prince Arthas. Lady Sylvanas Windrunner is leading the Forsaken against the threat, likely to settle her own personal score. Will one get to the Lich King before the other?

Or will they take him down together? I'm curious to find out. And I eagerly await the answer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To Gank or Not To Gank - PvP Servers

Sorry for the lack of a Saturday update - I was away at Anime Expo this past weekend and unable to post. This Saturday will be a normal update day though.
Since I went over RP servers, I figured I should do a similar topic for the PvP side of things. As PvP is hardly dead (and indeed, more encouraged than any other part of the game in my opinion), I thought I'd touch on the habits and ethics of this nature of gaming instead.

Every action on a PvP server is always automatically justified by the fact that you rolled on a PvP server. End of story. Anything that happens to your character is intrinsically *your fault*. To an extent, I agree. But it brings up the question of what is typical behavior and when does it cross the line into malicious?

I don't gank others much myself. Granted, a good part of that is because the nature of my character is usually defensive and not offensive. Most of the time, though, it's because I consider how irritating it is for me to get ganked, so I don't bother. And even when I do get provoked or killed, I just go about my business. It's difficult to seek Retribution if you're not specc'd it, after all.

I also play on the theory I grew up with: if you stop being fun to pick on, the bullies will leave you alone. As most gankers are just looking for a fight, usually if you either prove too much a thorn in their side or if you don't put up a fight at all, they'll lose interest with you and leave you alone. If it's not worth their time, they'll not waste it.

Conversely, you have the 70's who hound STV ganking people because it makes them feel superior. There's not a lot you *can* do about them, unless you have your own 70 or there are others on your faction who are roaming around combating the ganking themselves. You can either run or die, and those are usually your only choices.

However, if you can find a creative way to hold them off, I wholeheartedly endorse it. Once, my female Orc Warrior was being chased down by three 70 Allies. I knew there were a group of Horde 70's fighting off gankers in the area and they had been looking for this particular group, so I managed to alert them in the LocalDefense channel. They invited me to group and tracked me down. Luckily enough for me, they weren't too far away, but I still needed to keep the Allies busy. They'd surrounded me at this point, so I dismounted my slow mount. Without really thinking about it, I targeted the gnome warlock and... started dancing.

Obviously, they thought this was hilarious and all dismounted to dance with me. Some emoted laughs, clapped for me, one flirted... and right in the middle of this, a group of five Horde 70's mow them over out of nowhere.

While the PvP environment can incite some pretty ugly behavior, it's for the moments like the one I just described which makes it often worth the risks. It's fun and exciting, and sometimes downright hilarious. The jerks aside, it's a fun place to play. So, despite it all, I'll grin and bear the anguish inherent with the hostile environment and never regret the nature of the server I rolled on.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

RP Servers - Are They Dead?

What a wonderful topic for me to come back on. I'm not dead yet, I swear! =) I've just been settling into a new life in glamourous Hollywood *cough* and been enjoying the limited amount of freedom being an adult endows. It's not really all that much. In fact, it may be more restricting than being a student. But I'm here to blog about games, not life. So I'd like to talk a little about one of my long-lost loves: Roleplaying.

I like roleplaying. Anyone who knows me outside of my guild will know this about me. In Dungeons & Dragons and in chat rooms, I greatly enjoy taking on an alternate persona. After all, by training and trade, I'm an actor. Mostly for fun now, but it's still a passion of mine. So naturally, I have on at least one occasion attempted the RP experience offered by World of Warcraft.

My first experience with an RP server was when I created my human rogue on the ever-infamous Feathermoon server (if you don't know why it's infamous, well, do a search and I'm sure you'll find an interesting tale concerning the Deeprun Tram). This was before I really understood the mechanics of WoW, and had my own aspirations for what I wanted my rogue to become (regardless of whether or not that was possible for said rogue). This was, I believe, my first Alliance character (at the very least, my first human), so I was rather enjoying my exploration of a "new" area. Around level 15 or so, I found a rogue-only guild called the Cutthroat Crew, named for a particular alleyway in Stormwind City, and was quickly accepted as something akin to the guild princess. This was mostly due to the fact I was, at the time, the only female among us. I had fun bantering with some of the more flirtatious vagabonds (nearly all of whom were also human), but this rogue borrowed from my D&D incarnation of her: she only appreciated the company of those with an elven heritage.

Yet there was one time she was almost swayed from her typical predjudice of other races (including her own). However, I'd like to do that little excerpt justice, and I'd be digressing a bit too far from my point.

My point is, I had a rich history of fun interactions on my RP server. After I effectively left the server to level on Mug'thol with the majority of my friends, anytime I returned, I could never quite experience the same magic. Gone were the days of seeing "Rogue LF RP, pst" in trade, and in came the same trite Barrens-esque chat about Chuck Norris and your mama. I would never run into another kind hearted player who would practically sacrifice themselves for my benefit, all in the name of character-driven chivalry. I would never find another kind gentleman to address me as "M'lady" while I tried to hide my true, shadowy nature.

So my question is this: Is the RP element of the game dead everywhere, or just on Feathermoon? Are there better servers out there where I could take or re-roll my rogue for this purpose?

I rather enjoy RP servers, or at least their intent. I'm sure I'm not the only one. If anyone could direct me accordingly, I'd be most appreciative.