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Allison Robert

- http://www.wowinsider.com

Guide to Children's Week 2014

In the aggregate, Children's Week is one of the most entertaining annual holidays. Dragging a small child with you around Azeroth's grand vistas and dangerous places is surprisingly fun ("I want to go to the Dark Portal." "Sure, why not?"), and it's a fairly immersive reminder that the planet's constant wars have almost certainly left a large population of orphans for each faction to rear. Also, getting a pet or the aptly-named Curmudgeon's Payoff is pretty cool too.

But.

(You knew the "but" was coming.)

Unfortunately for all of you poor sods who still don't have School of Hard Knocks, that achievement still exists. I hated it so much that it was the sole remaining achievement between me and What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been for a year. With account-wide achievements, you no longer have to do it on multiple characters (and the whole system was worth it if for no other reason than that), but you'll still need it on one. Sorry, folks.

Anyway, Children's Week 2014 runs from April 28 to May 4, and, as always, the achievements and the meta For The Children are part of the year-long What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been.

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Filed under: Achievements

Tanks, healers, and the most dangerous LFR bosses

Recently I wrote a small article wondering whether the fabled Monday night Raid Finder festival of ugly death was just an urban legend. Opinions in the comment section were mixed, so I wanted to do a little ingame research to figure out whether the conventional wisdom was right and Mondays are an unusually deadly day for LFR runs.

While I'm nowhere close to being done with that little project, my first venture into the numbers in Siege of Orgrimmar and the Raid Finder did turn up some interesting results with my characters. The deadliest Raid Finder boss of tier 16 was not who I thought it was, the safest Raid Finder boss was really not who I thought it was, and there are some eye-raising numbers on the fights where a well-geared tank or healer was disproportionately likely to swing the odds in the raid's favor.

Also, the Gates of Retribution wing sucks. But you knew that already.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

The dangers of Monday night LFR

After my guild finished raid on Monday, we voted to do the fourth wing of Siege of Orgrimmar in flex for another shot at Garrosh's heirlooms. Before queuing for flex, people took a break to let their dogs out, get something to drink, or jump on alts to do their farming. My fellow tank hopped to his alt warrior and wondered aloud over the wisdom of doing an LFR on him later that night. "Don't do it," was the universal consensus. "Monday night LFR is just asking for trouble. The only winning move is not to play."

That got me thinking about the weirder aspects of the game's culture, in which a single day and a raid lockout divides an alleged nightmare (Raid Finder on Mondays) from a safe bet (Raid Finder on Tuesdays). The usual story is that people run their better-geared mains through Raid Finder soon after the weekly lockout finishes, but come Sunday and Monday they're running their less-geared alts, and usually on classes with which they're less familiar. There's got to be more to it than this, but it's a narrative that most players are probably aware of by now.

Out of morbid curiosity, I've occasionally taken my main or alt shaman through Sunday and Monday LFRs but can't say I've noticed a massive difference. There are definitely more times late in the week where I've zoned into a squabbling raid with a two-stack of Determination, but most runs are fairly uneventful. However, one player's experiences are rarely representative, and your own gear and experience play a role as well. A well-geared toon, especially if it's a tank or healer, is at least marginally more likely to contribute a successful raid, and vice versa.

I'm tempted to do a series of LFRs and measure overall raid DPS and number of deaths by day. I'm genuinely curious whether the conventional wisdom is right, and late-week Raid Finders are more likely to encounter trouble than their early-week counterparts.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Healer representation in Mists of Pandaria


Dedralie at Healiocentric has started a series examining how the 6 healer specs fared in Mists of Pandaria, and the first installment starts with a look at representation in raids. It's a fascinating article on the rise, fall, and sometimes stagnation of class fortunes, and toward the end there's a pretty cogent prediction on what mythic raids in Warlords of Draenor are probably going to look like if current trends continue.

This is a quick summary, but I'll provide more details past the cut. As Dedralie writes, while we're not really talking about healer balance or throughput here, there are a few obvious trends you can track from the Mists launch in September 2012 all the way to heroic Garrosh kills in January 2014:
  • Discipline priests and holy paladins ruled the expansion.
  • The absorption effects brought by these two healers is a huge advantage in heroic content (even more so in 10-man), and it may be too valuable as a mechanic.
  • Tier 15 (Throne of Thunder) was the most balanced with respect to representation. Tier 14 saw significant gulfs between class popularity that unfortunately returned with a vengeance in Tier 16 (Siege of Orgrimmar).
  • While monks and holy priests are still struggling for representation, it's instructive to look at the fights where they were significantly more popular.
  • Mythics will probably look like the "under-healed" heroics of MoP, which will prejudice heal teams toward synergies between absorption healers and those with strong throughput-based cooldowns.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Monk

Tertiary stats and that pesky bag space problem


I think it was really nice of Blizzard to cook up a way to fix our bag space problem with the toy box and primary stat conversion. Recognizing this, I propose a way to make it even worse.

I'll start with a story. There was a brief period on the Mists of Pandaria beta where the combination of the feral 4-piece PvP bonus, the Feline Swiftness talent, and a run speed enchant resulted in the glory that was the 132% speed bear. I could run around the first boss' room in Stormstout kiting a howling pack of monkeys before the DPS even made it up the stairs, and zooming around Pandaria's countryside was equally fun. Run speed's value was obvious and it was a bummer when the PvP bonus no longer stacked with Feline Swiftness.

So now that run speed, cleave, and "multistrike" are on the table as randomly-generated tertiary stats to be found (if rarely) on gear, I'll be blunt: I want enough cleave while healing that my Rejuvenation will hit, if possible, the people in local hospitals. I want enough cleave while tanking that Thrash will run out of targets in the game, physically reach through the computer and smack the people who don't read raid chat instructions in LFR. I want enough run speed that I can cap the Warsong Gulch flag before the match even starts, triggering a singularity that will cause time to fold in on itself.

Here's the rub. Knowing that tertiary stats are going to be completely random and also rare, the only way I can stack any of them to a useful level is to hoard whatever pieces I can find and create specialized sets for them. It'll be great to free up all the bag space currently devoted to our offspec gear, but how long will those bags stay empty with the siren call of a "speed set" or a "cleave set?"

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

The coming tank squish?

When Wrath launched in 2008, the last thing I ever expected to see was a decline in the number of druid tanks. We'd just come off a successful expansion of not being Innervate bots, and I thought we'd capitalize on a new set of talents and skills in Wrath to hold our own against the brand-new death knight. Not so: The population of feral (now guardian) druids went into freefall and has never really recovered, and at the time, protection paladins took a hit too.

My best guess remains that the popularity of the death knight and the protection warrior in early Wrath pushed a lot of druids and paladins out of tanking. We had more role options than they did, so respeccing to melee, heals, or ranged DPS was a better option than getting yourself or others benched. There were other things going on that probably didn't help much, but at the end of the day it was a numbers game that the bear and paladin simply lost. It was a vivid lesson that design decisions that don't necessarily have much to do with your class or role can wind up having a serious impact on them anyway.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

The best of WoW Insider: December 2013


And now we come to a close with the final entry in our Best of WoW Insider series. This was a slower month for editorial work in comparison to October and November, but a busier one for features and the arts scene. Thanks for hanging with us while we wrapped up the year, and we hope you'll stick around for whatever 2014 decides to bring.

Happy New Year, everyone! Stay safe out there tonight and we'll see you back in Azeroth.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Humor

The best of WoW Insider: November 2013


November was packed. BlizzCon is always an event big enough to blow up the site, and recapping all of it for a year-in-review piece is just an exercise in futility. Let me just direct your attention to our BlizzCon 2013 tag and I'll pick out the most high-profile stuff behind the cut.

Oh, and while this has nothing to do with WoW, I wanted to throw a shout-out to CarBot for the trailer to Heroes of the Storm at BlizzCon. If 1:22 doesn't make you burst out laughing, you have no soul.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Humor

The best of WoW Insider: October 2013


Another busy month! As you'd expect, more and more news related to BlizzCon picked up as October drew to a close, but this was also a heavy period for editorial work.

We also had some of the best machinima of the year in October, and I'd like to draw some particular attention to The Phantom of the Battlegrounds. What a brilliant piece.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Humor

The best of WoW Insider: September 2013


Patch 5.4 went live on September 10th, and the month pretty much blew up from that point with an avalanche of editorials, art, predictions, and arguments. This and November were easily the busiest months of the year.

The Know Your Lore column in particular went into overdrive in September analyzing what we found in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, but this month was an embarrassment of riches no matter where you looked.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Humor