Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Help Graylo Get A Legendary!!!

I've exploited this blog for personal gain before. It has played some part in me getting accepted to 7 different guilds. I got into the Cataclysm beta because someone knew me from the blog. My family views my gaming with a tiny bit more respect because I also write about it. I've even made a tiny bit of cash in the process, and none of this includes all the wonderful people I've gotten to talk to all because I write this blog.

Yes, I have benefited greatly from writing the blog (probably more then my readers have from reading it), but the introduction of Cross-Realm raiding begs a new question. Can I take my blog exploitation to a new low?

Can exploit my readers to help me get a Legendary Staff?

All tongue-in-cheek aside, I don't have high expectations for this, but it's worth a try. Also, I am in no way expecting anyone to go out of their way to create a raid for me. However, if are making runs for Mounts, Achievements, or Alts, and have an opening I would love to come a long if I can pick up the legendary quest items. Here are the more formal details:

Project: Help Graylo Get A Legendary!!!

Current Status: I am currently collecting [Seething Cinders] for the Time Grows Short quest. I need 490 cinders to complete the quest along with all 250 Essences after that and the Rag kill.

What I Offer: I am a Heroic DS geared moonkin (armory link) that has killed every boss in Firelands on heroic mode. I will come prepared to do my absolute best with flasks, food, and potions. Plus, I will pass on all loot and mounts that drop in the raid. Finally, depending on the consistency of the group, I would be willing to continue to run FL to help other people get there staff or mount after I've finished mine.

My Scheduling: I am available on a consistent basis Friday through Monday after 9pm CST. I may also be available before 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays, but I can't comment to those times on a consistent basis.

What I'm Looking For: Ideally I would like to run heroics with a consistent group at the same general time each week. However, I would be willing to run normals or with an inconsistent group. Also, this goes without saying, but I am US-Horde so the group would need to be US-Horde as well.

Contact Information: While I am happy to discuss the possibilities in general terms in the comments below, I would recommend that nobody put their RealID email address there. My blog email address of graymatterwow (at) gmail (dot) com is the best way to discuss the more private details, but you could also send an in-game mail to Graylow (with the W) on the US-Stonemaul server.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MoP Talent Calc: Second Impressions

I had a lot of fun last week looking over the new MoP talent calculator, discovering changes and tweeting about them with Lissanna, Murmurs and the rest of you. However, one thing became obvious to me really quickly. I had way too many topics to write about to put them all in one post. The problem was there were so many interesting additions and changes that I wanted to comment on, but there where also a lot of comments like "I still don't like the new Insect Swarm" or "No change to Heart of the Wild yet." So, last week I choose to focus on the changes. This week I want to comment on some of the broader thoughts I have about the new design and address some of those comments I read and disagreed with.

IS Change: A Positive View

One of the most common topics of conversation last week was the change of Insect Swarm from a DoT to a debuff. Lissanna made a blog post about the new design on her blog Restokin, and Murmurs made this comment on twitter after the new calculator was released:

"Still do not approve of Insect Swarm. Changing it from nuke damage to all damage just makes it worse, not better. Target switching guys."

After reading these and other comments from around the internet, it struck me that many of us are missing the point of the change. Let me ask a couple of rhetorical questions. What are the good moonkin fights currently, and on which fights are we weak? Those questions are easy to answer with a quick look at the WoL rankings. Any fight with AoE or multiple persistent targets is a good fight for moonkin, but on any single target fight like Ultraxion we are weak. This is one of the biggest problems with Moonkin DPS currently, and I think this Insect Swarm change is trying to address that.

Lissanna said in her blog post that she thought "hampering solar cleave is the primary reason for the change." While I do think limiting solar cleave is part of the reasoning, but I think that analysis ignores the significant issue of Multi-target vs Single Target DPS (yes, this is different the solar cleave). Not to get to sidetracked, but I view solar cleave as an AoE tactic. You get into Solar and hold it while DoTing as many targets as possible while using Mushrooms on CD and Hurricane if needed. In my opinion, with multi-target DPS we still maintain our rotation on a primary target but throw DoTs on a second and possibly third target when we can (the classic example being V&T in BoT). Some form of eclipse cleave will always exist as long as you have AoE and DoTs that are buffed by Eclipse, but this change with the change to Hurricane should limit it's positive and negative impacts. However, Hurricane has no impact on a moonkin's multi-target DPS so we can't expect that change to affect the Multi-Target vs Single Target issue.

What is the Multi-Target vs Single Target issue? What a lot of people forget in the heat of the moment is that none of these changes happen in a vacuum. Improving a moonkin's single target DPS isn't as simple as buffing the spells because that could make those same spells too strong in a multi target situation. If they buff our nukes but nerf our DoTs, that might fix the multi vs single target problem but they would also run the risk of putting us in a situation were we don't want to cast our DoTs like in WotLK and TBC. If they keep our DoTs strong but limit our nukes, then we are in the situation we currently are in.

So, how do they buff our single target DPS without buffing our multi-target DPS and keep our DoTs relevant to our rotation. One solution is to create a buff that affects only one target like the new Insect Swarm buff. This is one of the reasons why I think the Insect Swarm change is a good thing.

This isn't to say that I think the current design of Insect Swarm is perfect. This change doesn't happen in a vacuum either, and I do recognize that this design has some issues with PvP. I also don't want to have to refresh this buff in PvE even at a minute duration. However, I think those concerns are manageable. From a purely PvE perspective, they could add a glyph that causes your Starsurge to refresh the duration of Insect Swarm. Or, maybe your Rogue Symbiosis ability is a redirect type ability that would transfer all of our DoTs and debuffs to a new target. I'm not sure what the coding limitations are, but another option may be to have apply like Earth and Moon and have our DoTs on other targets adjust dynamically when targets gain and lose the debuff.

In short, I recognize that there are issues with the current Insect Swarm design, but I view the general direction as a good thing. Hopefully, Moonkin DPS won't be so lopsided in the future because of it.

Heart of the Wild: In for the Long Haul

One of the most common views expressed last week had more to do with a change that wasn't made then one that was. I saw several comments expressing exacerbation that HotW wasn't changed, fixed or removed. While I am no fan of Heart of the Wild, I would be a bit surprised if we saw any significant change in this ability any time soon. I think a lot of the people who expect this talent to change significantly are forgetting the design goals for druids that Blizzard expressed around Blizzcon. You may remember that Blizzard talked about bring back some of the druids hybrid nature and that some players missed being Shapeshifters. If that remains the design goal, this talent isn't going anywhere until at least the expansion after MoP.

I also wonder if we as moonkin are being a little hard on Heart of the Wild. To use an analogy that shows I watch too much Top Chef, I view DPSers as the traditional chefs of the player base with tanks and healers being the pastry chefs. Whenever you see a pastry chef on one of the cooking shows they seem contractually obligated to say "pastry chefs are the same as traditional chefs, but we can cook everything when they can't do pastry." I don't know if that's true or not in the kitchen, but I definitely think it’s true with regard to the PvE roles in WoW. Tanks and healers have to have some experience DPSing because that’s how you level most of the time, and DPS is the easiest roll in the game. Asking a DPS to heal or tank is riskier because those roles require tools that most DPSers are less familiar with and the basics of the tanking and healing roles aren't quite as obvious as the DPS role.

When I step away from my DPS bias, I notice that HotW has some potential in the right situation. Take the Ultraxion fight for example. It's a DPS race where the healing needs are light early in the fight but much heavier later. This would present an opportunity for managed HotW usage if a guild was struggling with the enrage timer on the fight. Resto Druids could pop their HotW cooldown early when healing is more stable and give the DPS a push to help them get over the enrage hurtle. Or, may be healing is only tight for short periods of time and could benefit from having a moonkin throw bomb heals on a single target for 45 seconds, allowing the raid to run with one less healer.

I'm still not a big fan of Heart of the Wild, but I do think its critics have been a little too hard on it. It's not going to be the exciting level 90 talent that some people want, and I seriously doubt it has any significance as an emergency tool. However, it does have the potential to help a raid group if used in a managed way where the raid's needs are made clear ahead of time.

The Moonkin Tank?

In no way do I think anything in the current MoP Talent calculator suggests that we will see a return of the TBC Panzerkin, but look at all the defensive cooldowns its possible for a druid to have in this calculator?

  • Barkskin - The old stand by.

  • Tier 2 - Nature's Swiftness or Renewal will probably be in almost every moonkin's tool belt.

  • Dream of Cenarius - Would work very well with Nature's Swiftness but could also be helpful on its own.

  • Might of Ursoc - Requires a little effort but could be very useful in an extreme situation.

  • Movement & Control Options - Tiers 1, 3, & 5 are full of options that could be used to get a druid out of a sticky situation.

I've spent years, explaining deaths by saying Barkskin was on cooldown or I had already used my healthstone. It looks like we will have a lot more options to keep our selves a live in the next expansion and fewer excuses for early deaths.

Tier 5: The DPS Tier

Whenever I've discussed tier 5 of the new talent trees I've talked about the options in broad terms saying what I like about each talent on its own. Then I always finished the comment with a generic line like "but the best talent will be determined when we get more details and can math it out." This makes the tier sound really boring, and it was boring until the addition of Soul of the Forest and a little tweet from Murmurs. He asked:

@Graylo So ... am I crazy or does Soul of the Forest seem much better than Incarnation?

I did some extremely rough napkin math with a lot of assumptions that may or may not be correct and ended up agreeing with Murmur's assessment. Soul of the Forest does seem better then Incarnation in pure math terms, but I then realized that pure math will never make this tier interesting. If all the options improve DPS by about the same amount then it doesn't really matter which talent you pick, if one of the talents maths out to be clearly the best in most situations the choice obvious, and choice is boring in either situation.

The only thing that can make this tier interesting is design. Let’s take Soul of the Forest and Incarnation as examples. The Dragon Soul raid has shown us that total DPS isn't always the best measurement when judging talents, glyphs, stats or any of the other DPS choices we make. There are a lot of fights like Ultraxion where total Sustained DPS is the most important thing and a talent like Soul of the Forest will likely shine. However, SotF is a horrible option on a fight like Spine of Deathwing where short term burst DPS is extremely important and Incarnation is clearly the better choice. A talent like Incarnation would also likely be a better option in a fight with lots of movement and down time like Morchok. This is a clear example of where design has created a significant choice even when numbers are involved.

To say the least, I am very happy with how Soul of the Forest and Incarnation are shaping up, but it begs the question of how is Force of Nature going to fit into this tier? Our trents are basically burst DPS as is. If the situation calls for burst then the choice of Incarnation vs Force of Nature would be easily mathed out. So, I'm hoping that Blizzard is planning a change.

Personally, I would like to see our third Tier 5 option to be AoE or Multi-target focused. The current versions of Soul of the Forest and Incarnation are both single target focused, so multi-target DPS could be a nice niche for the tier's third option. There are several ways that Blizzard could implement this. If Blizzard wants to keep the FoN structure they could give the trents some sort of cleave or splash damage for when targets are grouped together. I also wouldn't be opposed to scrapping Force of Nature entirely and making it a Tree of Life style buff that allowed us to put Insect Swarm on multiple targets and multi-dot. Another option would be to grant our nukes some splash damage for a short period of time.

Tier Choices: Advanced, Moderate, Dummy

Maybe I'm just being insecure, but several of the tiers and their choices seem to be designed with skill level in mind as well as the talents utility. Take Tier 1 for example:

  • Feline Swiftness - Increase movement speed by 15%.

  • Displacer Beast - Teleports druid 20 yards forward and activates cat form and prowl.

  • Wild Charge - Six different affects based on form.

I realize that all of these options have their own advantages in the right situation, but you could also separate them based on the skill level needed to use them to their fullest potential. Wild Charge could be extremely powerful when used by a highly skilled player. Instead of being just one ability, Wild Charge can be six based upon what form the player is in, and a highly skilled player should be able to manage it in extraordinary ways. Displacer Beast is the moderate option in that it provides a short burst of movement, but its user activated and you have to be careful about where you land. Feline Swiftness on the other had seems like the default option that's nice but doesn't require any skill.

I'm probably being a little irrational, but I'm a little concerned that some of the talent choices will be dictated by a perception of skill. For example, I don't want to feel pressured to take Wild Charge because that is what the "good" moonkin take. I'm not sure how Blizzard could avoid it but there seems to be several choices in the tiers that may be made more based on perception of skill then the utility provided

Thursday, February 16, 2012

MoP Talent Calculator Update: Feb 15th

With Dragon Soul raid being two months old, it has lost a little of it's shininess, and players have been asking for new Mists of Pandaria information for weeks, but have only received the traditional Blizzard response of "soon". "Soon" arrived yesterday when Blizzard dropped an information bomb by updating the MoP talent calculator with tons of changes for most of the classes and Moonkin were not left out. Over the course of an hour my total number of tweets more then doubled as Lissanna, Murmurs and I (along with others of course) explored the new changes and gave our first impressions.

The best part is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The MoP press tour is scheduled for March and there’s a vague comment on twitter by a Blizzard CM about cool things happening before the weekend that may or may not have anything to do with WoW or even video games. It's hard not to get excited.

Anyway, there's a lot of information and it's some times hard to tell what’s new and what’s not since I don't have the old version of the calculator available to compare to. Please feel free to comment on anything I missed or expand on anything I didn't cover in enough detail.

Eclipse Changes:

  • Solar Eclipse: Wrath damage to refresh Sunfire's duration.

  • Lunar Eclipse: Starfire damage to refresh Moonfire's duration.
This change isn't the "WOW!!!!" moment I originally thought it was (it's amazing how often that’s true when you jump to conclusions before you think), but it's a very solid change that is another step towards the simplification the moonkin rotation desperately needs. What this means for the moonkin rotation is that once you enter Eclipse you cast will cast your DoT once and not worry about it again until it either falls off, or you are about to enter the opposite Eclipse. It completely removes the question of should you clip a DoT during Eclipse, because your nukes are constantly refreshing it.

This change solves one of the biggest issues with our current rotation, but it doesn't remove the potential for DoT clipping from the table completely. There's still going to be a question of if we should clip our shorter Eclipse buffed DoT with a longer unbuffed DoT as we are about to enter a new Eclipse since we won't be able to refresh the DoT after we enter the new Eclipse. However, I have a feeling this choice will be less significant and less punishing if we get it wrong then our current choices.

There are also some balancing questions on how the "refreshing" mechanic will work with temporary buffs that need to be answered, but as long as Moonkin DPS is competitive in the long run I won't be very concerned about this.

The only change I would make to Eclipse at this point would be to add Starsurge to the refresh mechanic so that SS would refresh SnF in solar like Wrath and refresh MF in lunar like Starfire. It's not a huge deal, but without it some people will suggest that Moonkins shouldn't use SS as their last spell in Eclipse because it won't refresh the DoT.

Soul of the Forest:

Balance: When a Lunar Eclipse ends you gain 20 Solar Energy and when a Solar Eclipse ends you gain 20 Lunar Energy.
This is the 4T12 Moonkin set bonus from Firelands. You may not recognize it because the mechanic is different but the impact will be exactly the same. If you don't remember, the 4T12 set bonus increased the amount of Energy your Starfires and Wraths generated outside of Eclipse and the increase was roughly totaled 20 energy each way. As a result, it shortened the amount of time you are out of eclipse increasing your total Eclipse uptime and the percentage of nukes buffed by Eclipse.

This was every solid buff as a set bonus in Firelands and will be a very solid set bonus as a Talent in MoP. The only question is how it will stand up to the other Tier 4 choices of Incarnation and Force of Nature. We can't know that until we get more details.

Dream of Cenarius:

Dream of Cenarius: Wrath, Starfire, and Starsurge increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%
I LOVE this change. Not because of what Dream of Cenarius is, but because of what it is not. And that is Master Shapeshifter. In case you don't remember, Master Shapeshifter was the talent that caused feral abilities to buff Moonkin abilities and vice versa with some other hideous affects as well. It was a horrible talent with disaster written all over it and I'm ecstatic that Blizzard saw the light on this one.

Now that I'm done dancing on Master Shapeshifter's grave, let’s talk about Dream of Cenarius. This is exactly the type of low maintenance hybrid ability the Druid talent tree needed. It allows DPSers and off-tanks to throw an emergency heal on themselves or another player if needed, and would be especially powerful when combined with a talent like Nature's Swiftness. For healers, they can throw out a little DPS when healing is light which can be especially helpful on DPS races like Ultraxion and Spine of Deathwing.

Starsurge Improvements:

  • Shooting Stars now has a 20% chance to trigger (up from 4%) but can only trigger from a periodic critical strike from your Moonfire or Sunfire.

  • Euphoria now also procs off of Starsurge.

  • Starsurge generates 20 lunar or solar energy.
One of the strange things about Moonkin in Cataclysm is how weak Starsurge has become relative to our other spells. It was originally billed as this powerful cooldown based nuke, but the flaws started appearing almost immediately. The first was that it didn't generate energy in the same way as Wrath and Starfire because it wasn't affected Euphoria. Then in patch 4.2 Wrath and Starfire had their damage buffed which made Starsurge relatively weaker. Finally, in Firelands the 4T12 set bonus made it unattractive to cast at times because it also did not affect the energy generation of Starsurge.

As a general rule it is a good idea not to pay to much attention to the numbers this early in an expansion's development because they could be errors and there's a high probability that they will change if they their real. However, in this version of the talent calculator there are three pieces of info suggesting that Blizzard is trying to return Starsurge to its original role as a powerful cooldown based nuke. The Euphoria change is obvious and required in my opinion. Increasing SS's energy generation to 20 sounds like a good idea to me, but it could very easily also be an unintended typo. I think change to Shooting Stars is being made primarily to improve how Moonkin scale with Crit (something we don't do well currently), but it has the potential to buff our Starsurge damage as well if it increases the proc rate.

Quick Thoughts on Other Changes:

Symbiosis may not be cast on other Druids and the effect is lost if the linked targets are too far apart. 6 sec cast time.
It still sounds cool with the additional info, but there's still way to few details to make any conclusions. There is one question that I have though. Whose idea was it to have Symbiosis give warlocks Rejuvenation? Unless there's something I don't know about warlocks or it modifies the spell in some other way, that just seems silly.

Insect Swarm now increases the damage taken by 25% (down from 30%) but affects all spells.
On the surface, this isn't a big change but I like it. I realize there are still a lot of people that don't like the new Insect Swarm at all, but I'm starting to think it's a great idea. It will really help Blizzard balance moonkin DPS, but I will get more into that in my next post.

Celestial Alignment had its bonus damage reduced by 5% but causes Moonfire to also apply the Sunfire effect. 3 minute cooldown. (Up from 2 min)
I'm not surprised by this change, but I'm still wondering what role Blizzard expects Celestial Alignment to fill. Is it meant to be a DPS cooldown, or is it more of a utility to provide an on demand eclipse? We won't be able to tell until we see it in beta.

Ursol's Vortex can now be cast at a specific location instead of being used on the Druid. 30 yd range.
This is a big improvement over the old version. It never seemed like a good idea to pull a mob of targets to you unless you are a tank or possibly melee. This change gives it a ton of new utility. You can still pull mobs to you, but you could also pull mobs a way, or into a trap, or possibly off a cliff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My MoP Wish List - Part 4: A Better Legendary Solution

This is part four in a now five part series I'm writing about my hopes for Mists of Pandaria. In part one I talked about a gem overhaul, part two focused on Moonkin issues, and part three looked at 10man vs 25man raids.

I hate the existence legendary weapons.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a Legendary staff on my moonkin, or the daggers on my rogue, but even if I had either of those I would still hate the concept of legendary weapons or at least the ways that Blizzard has chosen to implement them over the past 7 years. The problems are already well documented, but let me go over them again.

The Problems:

  • Group Effort/Individual Reward: Every legendary implemented so far has required a group effort to acquire it. Even the random drops of TBC required a group to clear the instance. There are literally thousands of tales of players getting their legendary and then quitting the game a month later or leaving to join another guild. So, the guild works for something over an extended period of time but loses it because the individual has to make an individual decision rightly or wrongly.

  • Lopsided Results: When I first joined my current guild we were working on Yor'shaj and I was whispered by another player that I was doing significantly less then the WoL ranked logs. My response back was that I didn't have top 200 gear. There were other issues with my DPS strategy at the time, but a significant part of the difference is that I don't have a legendary staff. Legendarys are such a performance boost that players without them are penalized because they can't get one. How many recruiting posts have you seen where it says "1 ranged DPS (with Legendary)?"

    The fact of the matter is that Legendary weapons create lopsided results that are based more on the gear a player has then the skill of the individual. Given Blizzards mantra of "Bring the Player, Not the Class," this doesn't really seem to fair.

  • Unfair Distribution: Every time Blizzard announces a new legendary, there is always some argument of "why does class X get the legendary instead of class Z". But to be honest, much of the time the complainers have a point. Blizzard has implemented nine legendarys in WoW's seven year history. So far, five of the nine have been melee focused, three are caster focused, and one was a ranged weapon. There has been a melee legendary in every stage/expansion of this game and four of them have been usable by Warriors. I would also point out that there has been only one healing legendary, one of the caster legendarys was only available for a few months before the content was obsolete, and that feral druids after seven years still haven't gotten a legendary.

    I don't think there is some Blizzard conspiracy that loves melee and more specifically warriors, but hates ferals. However, it's clear that their decision making process is more dominated by lore which favors pointy metal sticks than fair distribution.

    For example, why is there a rogue specific Legendary in Dragon Soul? Yes, it's a very cool quest line that allows rogues to use infrequently used abilities like pick pocket and distract, but if you're going to make a class specific legendary why not make it feral the spec that has yet to have a legendary? I'm sure the creative people over at blizzard could have made a similar story centered around a feral druid instead, where they use abilities like Soothe, Hibernate, and Seacow form.

  • Individual Effort is Irrelevant: Finally, I have never taken a break from this game in 5 years. I ran Firelands almost every week from when 4.2 was released until 4.3 was released. I have the gold to buy the expensive vendor mats needed to create the Legendary. Yet, I do not have a legendary because I was in four different guilds during the Firelands progression cycle. I have done everything I can to get a legendary, but it's extremely hard to find nine other people that want to go to FL now that it's old news even though it would take me just 9 weeks to get the legendary and other people could get mounts.
Potential Solutions:

The proposed solutions to the legendary issues are just as numerous as the issues themselves. If you look around the official forums and blogosphere you will find a lot of suggestions. Let me take a look at a few of the most common and suggest a couple of my own.

  • Bind On Guild Legendarys: This is probably the most common proposed solution, and it fixes the "guild effort, individual reward" problem I've described above. A player can't leave the guild with a legendary because it's the guilds legendary. However, this solution raises other questions and creates some additional issues. For example, is there only one legendary per guild or is it something everyone could buy from the guild rep vendor? If a guild has only one, many guilds will feel forced to trade it around so that every one gets a turn which seems a little silly and confusing. If everyone can get one, then it would be to common which Blizzard clearly sees as an issue. Finally, what happens to the player that need to transfer guilds for legitimate reasons who has a legendary? It's hard to expect the person with a legendary to have back up weapon, because the guild is likely to give those to players with out a legendary, yet you also can't expect them to be tied to one guild forever. Many guilds die or become unworkable for many legitimate reasons. Ultimately, I think this solution crates more problems then it fixes.

  • Reward Individual Effort: Another idea, is to make the legendary process a completely individual process, that players can complete at the same time as other players. For example, if the FL legendary had all the same steps but allowed players to do them a the same time, you would see a lot less complaining about losing a legendary, because any caster who raided FL for three months would likely have one. However, this would make them extremely common, which I said above was not something Blizzard would like and it also would seem silly to give every caster the last weapon they would use in the expansion half way through.

  • Get Rid of Legendarys: There's two things that make Legendarys great. First, most of the time they have come with a cool story. If you look at the last three, they were a major part of defeating the Lich King, naming a new aspect of magic, and helping the last pure black dragon. The second thing is someone gets an extremely powerful item that will likely last them the rest of the expansion. Both are very cool, but I Blizzard has proven that you don't need a legendary to tell a good story, and Blizzard has argued before that it's not always a good thing to have a player get an item they will not replace.

    So, why not get rid of legendarys. Yes, Blizzard would be getting rid of a cool element of the game, but it could easily be argued that this "cool" element has caused more problems and anguish then the reverse. I doubt a whole lot of people would miss them if they were discontinued because in reality, very few people have a realistic chance of getting them anyway.
My Ideal Solution:

The general design principle for legendarys is create a normal weapon, but add special proc that is powerful and somewhat unique. Currently, those proc have only helped the individual with the legendary, but what if the benefits were raid wide?

I think a legendary could be designed in such a way that, it is slight benefit for the individual to use a legendary, but a big benefit to the raid if someone in the raid has a legendary.For example, the proc on Dragonwrath is "When you deal damage, you have a chance to gain the Wrath of Tarecgosa, duplicating the harmful spell." That same buff could be applied to all the casters in the raid if someone in the raid has the staff. If done correctly this could fix most of the problems people complain about today, without big balancing issues.

  • Individual players wouldn't be penalized severely for not having a legendary since the primary benefit to a legendary (the proc) would be raid wide.

  • After multiple people get a legendary in a tier, losing one of them to real life or a guild transfer is less significant because the buff is covered by multiple players.

  • Guilds aren't encouraged to recruit legendary users if they already have one in the guild.

  • Also, the proc doesn't have to benefit just one type of player in the raid. It could be truly raid wide where a caster weapon could buff melee or a tank legendary could buff DPS.
I like this solution because it's the only one I've heard that truly rewards a group for a group effort without holding an individual hostage to a guild and keeping the legendarys in the game in a fair way.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My MoP Wish List - Part 3: A 10 vs 25 Fix

In part one of My MoP Wish List looked at some ways that Blizzard could improve the gem system to create greater demand for all the gem colors. Part two, primarily looked at what I would like to see changed in the Moonkin play style.

When they announced that 10mans and 25mans would share a lockout and drop the same loot almost two years ago, I got worried. As much as I liked my WotLK 10man group, I prefer the 25man format for progression raiding, and it was obvious two years ago that 25man raids would struggle under this new design. The organizational advantages of a 10man raid alone would push many guilds to the 10man format, and the predictions made of 25mans slow death are coming true. If Blizzard wants to preserve the 25man format, they are going to need to make some changes to prevent the slide into 10mans.

The Numbers:
* All WoW Progress numbers in this post were pulled as of 2/6/12.

I think it's commonly accepted that participation in 25man raiding is in decline, but wanted to look at the numbers just to see how much. And to be clear, I realize that that not all of these comparisons are Apple to Apple, but I do think it shows how dramatic the decline has been.

This isn't a fair comparison, but lets look at the ICC numbers compared to the T11 25man first. According to WoW Progress 16,103 guilds killed Heroic Marrowgar in ICC, and 4,698 guilds killed Heroic Halfus on 25man in T11. That implies a 70% decline in 25man guilds with the start of Cata. However, since 10man raiding wasn't equal to 25mans in ICC, the ICC number is obviously inflated. Also, ICC was up for a year as the main tier of content, while T11 was the main tier for only 6 months and it's impossible to say how many of the guilds in the ICC number existed at the end of WotLK. All that said I think it's fair to say that a lot of players jumped from the 25man format to the 10man format at the start of Cata for what ever reason.

However, I'm sure some of you would argue that that doesn't really show a decline in 25man raiding. It could be argued that it shows that people didn't really want to raid 25mans during ICC but had to for the greater rewards. I have to agree that is definitely part of the issue. We can debate how much that contributed to the, but it's definitely part of it and makes those numbers unreliable. Fortunately I have some better numbers that really show the decline of 25man raiding.

I've taken the easiest heroic boss from each tier and compared number of kills in 25man to the total number of kills on either mode to see what the participation in 25man is. Here are the numbers:

25man10manTotal25man %

I think these numbers point to the decline of 25man raiding very clearly. As you can see the kill rates on 25man have declined with each tier of new content going from 17.45% in T11, to 13.21% in T12, to 11.28 % in T13.

There have been some balancing issues between the 25man and 10man formats, but I don't think any of these bosses are significantly harder on 25man then they are on 10man or vice versa. If anything, I would say that these numbers underestimate the decline of 25man raid since I think it could easily be argued that 25man raiders as a whole are probably more progression focused then 10man raiders as a whole.

Cause of the Decline:

I would like to blame the decline on difficulty imbalances between 10s and 25s, but I can't do that. A lot of 25 man raiders like to claim that 10s are easier, but the numbers don't really show that. Take a look at the heroic Kill percentages:

25man Cnt25man %10man Cnt10man %

On all but one of the T13 heroic fights 25man guilds as a whole have killed these bosses more then 10man guilds. I do think that the 10man percentages are depressed a little due to the fact that "casual" raiders are more likely to raid 10mans and therefore inflate the total number of 10man guilds bringing down their percentage. However, that can't explain away all of the differences. Hagara is clearly easier on 25man with a 26.25% kill rate in 25man guilds compared to just 6.43% among 10man guilds. On the flip side Ultraxion is clearly easier in the 10man format and I would argue that Yor'sahj is probably easier on 10man as well.

Obviously Blizzards balancing hasn't been perfect when comparing 10man to 25man, but it doesn't appear to be benefiting one format over another in a significant way, and if it is it's benefiting 25man guilds. Clearly, poor balancing is not the cause of 25man's decline.

In my opinion 25man's decline is primarily due to a lack of significant rewards to make up for the 10mans organizational advantages. Yes, 25mans do have a small loot advantage, but that really isn't that significant. Here we are two months into the patch and my guild is already sharding some gear on heroic. Additional gear isn't much of a motivator because if you raid for an entire patch you are likely to get almost everything you want from the bosses you kill regularly. Additional, Valor points are an even bigger joke since they've taken Tier gear out of the Valor system making the Valor points almost valueless in terms of raiding.

Since the only real reason to continue to raid 25mans over 10mans currently is personal preference, it is clear that 25mans are going to continue to decline because of 10mans organizational advantages.

Can it be Fixed:

To honest, I would be entirely OK if Blizzard came out and said that they were eliminating 10man raids for MoP, but there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of that happening (as much as I would like it), so I hope they are looking for other solutions.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of good ideas in this regard. I still like the suggestion I made two years ago to have gems and other raiding mats drop almost exclusively from 25man raids. After a year of Cata 25man raiding I think there are a couple of "easy" changes that think could make 25s more attractive.

  1. Better Rare Mount Drops: It's funny. If you kill heroic Rag on 10man you have a 100% drop chance to get one [Smoldering Egg of Millagazor]. If you kill heroic Rag on 25man you still have a 100% drop chance to get one [Smoldering Egg of Millagazor]. I don't care how they do it but this should be balanced.

  2. More Epic Gems: When I suggested two years ago that 25mans should be the only source of epic gems, many of you disagreed, and I can understand why. That said, I don't see a problem with 25man kills dropping more Motes of Darkness and Essence of Corrupted Deathwing. Why not give 25man kills two of each instead of just one?

  3. Free Flasks & Free Food: The organizational difficulties of 25man raids largely falls on the leaders of the raid. In an effort to reduce the organizational pressure on a 25man raid's leaders they could provide free food and flasks that only work in 25man raids. If the raid leaders didn't need to coordinate Cauldrons or Feasts they may be more willing to deal with the other organization issues of the 25man format.


When Blizzard announced that they were going to have 10mans and 25mans drop the same level of gear, many people (including myself) predicted this would result in the slow death of the 25man format. Unfortunately, that prediction is coming true. 25man kills as a percentage of total kills has declined with each new tier in this expansion.

The cause of this decline does not appear to be due to balancing issues, but seems to rest solely on the fact that 10mans are easier to organize especially when they are created out of the ashes of a dead 25man guild. To counter the 10man's advantage, Blizzard needs to find a way to reward 25man raiders and their leaders that doesn't give the 25man format an unfair advantage. The best solution would be one that would reduce the organizational requirements of a 25man raid like eliminating the need for cauldrons or feasts in the 25man format.