Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
T minus 4 weeks

Cataclysm is just 4 weeks away, time to post some thoughts about my personal situation regarding the expansion. First of all I have to say that I’m looking very much forward to the expansion, but I’m trying to not spoil the experience; thus I won’t play on any beta or public test servers, nor do I follow the discussion of the expansion on sites like MMO Champion. I do however play World of Warcraft more these days. Due to me having turned on “parental controls” on my own WoW account to block RealID, I get a play time report every week by e-mail, and my weekly play time is back up to around 20 hours, having been just 2 to 5 hours per week during September.

The character I’m playing most right now is my level 77 druid, of which I am confident that he will reach level 80 in time for Cataclysm. I’m mostly playing him as a healer in dungeons, and that is a lot of fun. In this patch 4.0.1 environment I do like both holy priest and restoration druid healing, while I find my paladin more boring as a healer, him having a lot less options. The second character I play is a level 64 shaman, but he is enhancement spec and not a healer. Not my favorite character, somehow enhancement at this level is a lot less effective than it used to be, and in spite of using an optimized build and rotation researched from the internet, I’m doing at best mediocre on the damage meter. My general impression of patch 4.0.1 is that spell damage is a lot better than melee damage now, e.g. my priest as shadow or the druid as moonkin do awesome damage. If I really wanted to play the shaman further, I would have to switch to elemental, but then I’d need to replace all his gear, and there is basically no level 60ish blue gear available on the AH. Anyway, the shaman is mostly used as a bank alt, and the main reason I’m leveling him is to get the portable mailbox from engineering at level 65.

Assuming the druid reaches level 80 soon, I will have 5 different level 80 characters when the expansion hits (druid, priest, paladin, warrior, mage). I’ll have a level 60 rogue, 60 death knight and a level 65 shaman, and I’ll start a goblin hunter and a worgen warlock in the expansion, so I got all classes covered. But which character is going to be my main? Well, the paladin is out, being a lonely level 80 Alliance character on a different server, while my main should be in my guild on the Horde side. The warrior, in spite of being my first character on the European servers, and first to 60, has always been problematic. I have a distinctive impression that Blizzard hates tanks, especially warrior tanks. The removal of the defense stat didn’t help much; I’m still forced to have two completely separate sets of gear, one with avoidance stats like dodge for tanking, and one set for dps. And getting plate gear without caster stats has always been more difficult than getting any other type of gear. Playing a tank simply requires a lot more work and dedication to be useful than any other role. And if you don’t keep up, you’re quickly out: Nobody wants to play with a half-geared tank, while an extra healer can always get a raid spot.

As I enjoy playing in groups more than I enjoy playing solo, I also don’t want to make my mage my main. While that would certainly be easiest to play, a pure damage dealer has the longest waiting queue in the Dungeon Finder, and the lowest chance for a raid spot. Furthermore my priest and druid deal at least as much damage in their dps spec as my mage, albeit less AoE, so it isn’t as if I’d give up on damage dealing by choosing a healer as my main. So the choice is between the priest and the druid. Now as I said, I do like druid healing, and the druid has maybe the best “oh shit” emergency heal button with Tranquility. But I find the priest has even more options, between direct heals, heals over time, and more exotic healing variants. And the priest has always been my raiding character, so I think I will just stick with him as my main for Cataclysm.

Having said that, I’m not sure to be able to get into a raiding team with my guild. That isn’t my guild’s fault; in fact after years of working on that problem the guild is doing an excellent job of balancing the needs of the more hardcore raiders and the more casual guild members. But the timing of the Cataclysm expansion is somewhat unfortunate for me, so close to the Christmas holidays. I’ll be spending Christmas with family, away from my place, and so I won’t have all that much time to play, and only a laptop with not the best internet connection to play on. Even in a relatively friendly and casual guild, raiding starts when there are enough people at the level cap and well-equipped enough to start, which causes a certain rush to the level cap in the early phase of the expansion, and I’m a bit worried about missing the boat there. That is especially due to my experience in Cataclysm, where I was behind the curve, and then Blizzard decided to practically shut down the older raid dungeons before I could finish them. I never saw the second half of Ulduar. If I, as casual raider, am already stressed a bit about missing out on raid spots due to leveling slower, I can imagine how stressful this must be for a more hardcore raider than me, unless he has a guaranteed raid spot for being the organizer. I don’t think Blizzard has completely solved the problem of casual raiding yet, it probably needs an automated Raid Finder functionality in a future patch.

Fortunately raiding isn’t all there is to Cataclysm or World of Warcraft. I’m currently enjoying the events leading up to the Cataclysm, doing quests that have me run around with a “the end is near” sign, and closing rifts for the achievement. But I’m not doing those with all of my characters, just one or two. I’m also cleaning up my bank storage and inventory. What I’m *not* doing is hoarding specific items and materials in the hope of making huge profits on the auction house. Not because I don’t believe that wouldn’t work, but because I already have over 70,000 gold, and don’t really see the point of putting effort into making more, just to buy expensive mounts or the 310% speed flying skill, which is barely an improvement over the 280% I already have.

I am looking forward to playing a goblin and a worgen, with classes I haven’t played all that much up to now, and to try out archeology. But these are things that will be around for a long time, and I’m not in a hurry. The newbie zones for the new races will be overcrowded for a while; I think I’ll enjoy them more if I wait a bit for the first wave to subside. Archeology I don’t know too much about yet, as far as I’ve read it might be non-competitive, not lots of players camping the same few nodes at the start. That would be good.

So the last question remaining for Cataclysm is how to actually get it. The no-hassle, pre-downloaded digital version sure sounds attractive, provided that this works as advertised. On the other hand I also like having a disc for future reinstallations, and to support my local game store. So I decided to do both, as I anyway need two copies of Cataclysm for me and my wife. I pre-ordered one copy on, and I’ll buy a second copy in the store on December 7th.

So how about you? What are your hopes and fears and preparations for Cataclysm?
Why stick with a guild that doesn't fit your schedule when it comes to raiding?

With 10-mans, I think it is simpler to find 9 other individuals who share similar time constraints, and where the emphasis of play is experience, rather than progression.

IMHO, casual raiding is really shorthand for 'players with limited play time, who can't commit to raid schedules'. As far as the raiding activity is concerned, there's nothing casual about it.

To quote Scott Andrews, you can raid as a casual guild, but you can't raid casually.
Scott Andrews is the writer of this fairly old, but good article on 'casual raiding':
For me myself, i just started up my current 80 tauren druid to kind of prepare him for Catactlym expansion after a 1½ year of wow break beacause i didn't like wotlk very much. But i'm really really looking forward to cata, i'm doing side quests as well, getting my professions up so i can craft and create which i never got to do in wotlk, and then i'm just farming general stuff and last but least, i try to avoid cata info as well and yes i have already pre-ordered my copy at the gamestore because i love hardback games especially blizzard's <3. So yeah i'm getting ready and i've wanted to lvl my 66 DK to 80 but i just can't bother ugh i suck at lvling :/ even tho i loved going through the content first time with my druid back in late 06 4-5 months before tbc release. hmm i better pull my self together, i can't just run around with only 1 80-85 main character, i need more to differ...
oh and Tobold, will you review the new wow community site that's coming along with cata? or is that completely out of your interest. PEACE
I'm in a similar position as you right now Tobold. I'm debating about whether I'm going to continue playing my druid tank or switching over to one of my other 80s or another spec.

As far as which version to buy, I already pre-loaded the game without paying for it yet. (You can do that by changing your WTF and Config files to a CT account type. and Yes this is legal and not against the ToS)

And the final bits of data needed for Cata is only 700 MBs. Hopefully with a download size that small even day 1 downloaders won't crash Blizzard's servers.
Why stick with a guild that doesn't fit your schedule when it comes to raiding?

Apparently we have VERY different views on what a guild is for. I'm sticking with that guild because my warrior I mentioned was one of the 10 characters signing the guild charter on day 1 of the European servers, because I've been through lots of ups and downs with them in 6 years, because these people are my friends, and because loyalty is more important to me than convenience.

Furthermore my personally preferred raid schedule is not constant, but changes over time. I'm very much against the idea of changing guild frequently, just because you progressed faster or slower than the rest of your guild, or some real-life thing changes your preferred raid day.
Hey, don't even try that "DPS plate is the hardest gear to get nonsense.

Tank plate (3 specs)
Melee plate (5 specs)
Caster plate (1 spec)
Melee mail (4 specs)
Caster mail (2 specs)
Melee leather (4 specs)
Caster leather (2 specs)
Caster cloth (9 specs)

Although I guess it could just be your bad luck. But it's the second most prolific gear in the game!
WRT 310% flying: I suspect the big thing about this is that it will be required for certain new mounts. I *can't* be about a 10% speed increase for 5000g. There must be new mounts that require this flying level.

Why else?
just in case you didn't know regarding game discs, you can now download the client from Blizzard's site if you ever need to reinstall the game. I've always found that to be a faster option because back in the day on my WoW/TBC disks I'd get a lot of installation errors.

For myself I'm giving up GM over my guild to someone else and taking a break from WoW when Cata comes out. I'll most likely end up rejoining at some point though.
Apparently we have VERY different views on what a guild is for.

I take a utilitarian view of the 'guild'.

It's a convenient social feature to facilitate raids, unless the guild is made out to be more social than gaming.

Being a 6-year member of the guild, surely you can hustle up 9 guild-mates who have similar schedules or constraints?

IMHO, there are many ways, both offline and online, to maintain friendships, besides having a common guild tag floating above your toons, or a tabard.

Furthermore my personally preferred raid schedule is not constant, but changes over time.

This constraint, in itself, may not get you many opportunities to raid, notwithstanding your loyalty to the guild.
Even if it is not your favorite class, I would like to hear from you about what it's like to play an enhancement shaman. I don't remember any posts on the subject on this blog, but I may be wrong.
My biggest fear for the upcoming expansion is that Blizzard will effectively kill 25 man raiding for all but the most elite guilds. The new shared lockouts, achievements, and gear between 10 and 25 raids disincentivize larger raids if for nothing else than the additional logistical hassle. As an officer in a progression oriented 25 man guild, I am already thinking about the prospect of losing our realm #1 spot to more versatile and similarly skilled 10 man guilds. For most 25man guilds that are not comprised of equally skilled players, there is going to be a great temptation to drop lesser skilled players and focus on the easier to organize 10 mans.

I hope that doesn't happen for my guild as while we are focused on progression and Realm First kills, we are also friends.

As for the expansion more generally, I'm quite excited. Everything I've seen and heard suggests that it will be the sequel to WoW we will never otherwise get, an opportunity for the designers to iterate on all of the design paradigms and game mechanics introduced over the last six years. It seems like they have and largely for the better. Looking forward to the 7th.

Lastly, Tobold, why are you preoccupied on class roles when choosing a character to level first in the expansion versus your preference for that character (from a roleplay or aesthetics perspective) or how he plays? Blizzard has been trumpeting their "bring the player not the class" mantra for awhile now and the changes to buff in Cataclysm are a large step towards that goal. If you like playing a damage dealer, why not focus on being a damage dealer and make yourself valuable in that role? Likewise if tanking is where your true interest lies, be the best tank that your guild could hope for. I have tried that myself having always played a pure DPS class and have never found raid opportunities hard to find.
It just so happens that World of Warcraft is a multiplayer game. And when doing multiplayer activities in that game, you depend on other players. Thus factors like "dps wait 20 minutes in the DF queue, healers 20 seconds" need to be taken into account when choosing your class and role. "Bring the player, not the class" is a lie, you can't replace the healer with a mage.
It just so happens that World of Warcraft is a multiplayer game. And when doing multiplayer activities in that game, you depend on other players. Thus factors like "dps wait 20 minutes in the DF queue, healers 20 seconds" need to be taken into account when choosing your class and role. "Bring the player, not the class" is a lie, you can't replace the healer with a mage.

So, again, why not focus on being the best mage if you like playing a mage? Why not queue with guildies to avoid issues with the Dungeon Finder? In a tightly tuned encounter, you won't be able to replace the mage either, and at least for dungeons you'll need three of them.
You have 70K and won't part with 7% of that to fly faster on every flying mount?

Holy crap I bought it on my main so fast my head spun. And I only had 20K over 3 80's. Just the time and frustration I will save not having to do any more stupid Holiday tasks (that was really my only option for getting a 310 mount other than rare spawns or <1%drops). That made me one happy camper.

And the speed difference is noticable to me. Especially for just crusing around sightseeing or hunting for rares/rifts/nodes. IMO ease of travel is the #1 value in the game overall.

Even if Cata resets the next flight speed level, it's been well worth it.

And I got the Headless Horseman mount. Best mount I've ever had. And only mount you need. No more stupid macros for flyable/unflyable zones. Run to the Dalaran flying area and just take off, no changing mounts. Take off the instant WG ends.

So, what IS 5K worth to you?
Why not queue with guildies to avoid issues with the Dungeon Finder?

How would that possible avoid the issue? In the guild there are also too many dps, and not enough healers and tanks. And it's first one to raise his hand that gets invited, we don't excluded somebody from guild groups because his dps is lower.
It doesn't avoid the issue if your primary concern is running dungeons and out of an interest in facilitating that you choose to primarily spec/play an underrepresented role.

However, your original post seemed to suggest your character choice was as, if not more, motivated by worries about raid viability, than faster dungeon queues. My comment was an honest question about how much you value the playstyle of a specific class versus conveniences like DF queue times or said raid slots. It seemed odd to me to hear you lay out a "utilitarian" rationale for character selection while also defend staying with a guild that inconveniences you along those same lines. I can appreciate that tension, I just wanted to hear more.

Personally, I have one main, a Warlock, and a recently leveled DK as my only level 80 characters. I focus most of my time on my Warlock because I enjoy the combat mechanics (particularly the Affliction spec), the vague story I have for that character, and the general flavor of the class. I'm also very good at what I do and constantly work to improve my performance. I don't spend a lot of time using the dungeon finder and if I'm in a terrible hurry there is usually someone on in the guild who needs the daily on his tank/alt tank/hybrid dps-tank. Perhaps I will rue my character choice come early Cataclysm leveling but for me that's a small price to pay for the satisfaction of playing this particular character.
While 70k is more than you *must* have, I think one certainly could use more initailly. If you are trying to level professions or buying BoEs in December, my guess is you can find use for some gold. ( I remember the now 12g frozen orbs selling for over 2000g in a week after WotLK launched. )

Plus, there if you are trying to keep up in order to get a raid spot, then some BoE gear can help. I quit raiding from the last half of Ulduar through ICC and then changed mains. Buying 264 crafted boots, legs and BoE neck and wand cost over 70k but was a nice jump start on getting geared. Some gold is sort of like hitting 85 with 4000 JP instead of 0; not a huge or permanent advantage but a convenience.

In December, if you want to raid or get professions maxed, then gold may be quite useful. If you want to do either in February or March, then 70k is way overkill.
If frozen orbs (or equivalent) sell for 2000g, and you know the price is going to quickly deflate - it would take a very compelling reason to not be selling any you found, waiting two weeks or so then using those you want.

Most people are impatient. Sometimes a little patience is an easy way to eliminate the need to think about money.
I predict I won't play Cataclysm, and will rejoin WoW sometime after 2013, if it is even still there.
Me again, off topic again. Have you tried to heal as a shaman, to see what it's like and compare with your priest and druid experiences on the matter ?
Have you tried to heal as a shaman, to see what it's like and compare with your priest and druid experiences on the matter ?

No, due to my inability to find decent mail caster gear for a level 60ish character in the auction house. Same reason which prevented me from trying elemental spec. However I *did* see that the shaman has a lot less healing spells than the priest or druid. It looks as if he was basically limited to Chain Heal plus the standard set of small/medium/large heals all the classes have now.
Cleaning up the inventory and bank is a good idea :). I am leveling up a few alts using the new quests !
You really should get a 310 mount. Your belief that it's "barely faster" than the 280 speed is unfounded.
I played a dps toon for BC and got sick of having a hard time getting into raids and dungeons. And that was with a great guild, which is really critical. If you are by yourself alot (which I am, my guilds don't really do much socially), it's really convenient to be the guy the raid/dungeon revolves around.

Plus don't forget the grief you get as a dps. The adage is that if the tank dies its the healers fault and if the healer dies its the tanks fault, but if the dps dies then, well who cares. The few randoms I did as a dps I got alot of grief that I would never get as a healer or tank, just because they are supposedly in charge (the one time a group decided to be an ass to me as a tank, I just sat down and enjoyed their 15 minutes of attitude)

Anyhow i'm looking forward to playing with my wife and best friend again, and leading some casual raids. Pretty bored of wraith at this point.
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