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Posts with tag Balance

The tension between balance and player interest

I'm looking forward to Ashram, the new PvP island zone in Warlords that seems to combine elements from zones such as the Timeless Isle, Wintergrasp, and the old days of world PvP. So I tend to go looking for information on it, which is where I found the following.
With cross-realm groups being possible on Ashram, this is a perfect example of the ways the game has to balance what most players will do vs. what some players will do - balance the min-maxing attitude vs. the more common, and more often executed, use of a feature or game element. Ashram as it stands will allow players to group cross realm - this is intended so that players who have characters on separate realms (my wife and I, for instance, often would run the Timeless Isle on characters that were on separate realms) can still go to Ashram. This is a good and fun use of cross-realm grouping. But there's a potential down side to this.

Since cross-realm grouping is possible, we know the next step - something like oQueue that allows you to put together a group of 40 players and go destroy Ashram on an already imbalanced server. If a certain server is already heavily skewed towards the Alliance, putting together a 40 player group (since Ashram exists in the world and not in a raid instance) and just destroying any hapless Horde you come across, or vice versa. Even if you don't pick a server with a faction imbalance, it's still feasible that a big raid group could end up owning Ashram for an extended period of time, and using players that aren't even on the server.

Decisions in the game's design are always made between these two poles - between the ease of abuse, and the benefit it brings to individual players. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, things don't work out like we'd hope. Reforging, as an example, falls into the 'possible player imbalanced use trumps player convenience' category.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

PvP developer round-tables taking place at Blizzard

PvP developer roundtables taking place at Blizzard tomorrow
PvP has been a hotbed of discussion and change since Blizzard hired new PvP design guru, Brian Holinka, to their development team. And this week that discussion is going to ramp up even more, as a group of the world's best PvPers descend upon Blizzard HQ in Irvine, California, for a day of discussion, debate and design. Of course, PvP is the focus, and these players will be joined by several of Blizzard's most senior developers to talk about where we stand, the plethora of changes that Mists has brought in, and the future of WoW PvP.

The player attendee list, reading like a Who's Who of top PvP streamers, is Hoodrych, Rzn, Venruki, Tosan, Talbadar, Sodah, Reckful, Nadagast, Kollektiv, Athlete, and Vanguards, who's also joining me on the Press side. If you wished you were a fly on the wall in this discussion, let me be your eyes and ears! I'll be reporting back with as much information as possible, but first, a question.

It doesn't matter if you're a multiglad, or just someone who wants to get into PvP but feels there's an issue standing in your way -- pick an answer below and let me know why in the comments! Yes, I know, I missed your specific issue. Pick one from the list and tell me why I'm awful.
What is PvP's biggest problem right now?
Gear738 (11.1%)
Burst Damage is too high553 (8.3%)
Too much Crowd Control2601 (39.0%)
Healing is too strong798 (12.0%)
Class Balance - certain classes are too strong or too weak1605 (24.1%)
Nothing, PvP is perfect as it is!367 (5.5%)

Filed under: PvP

WRUP: On the question of faction balance

WRUP On the question of faction balance
There are few tumultuous subjects with the power of faction balance. Whether you satirically point out that Orgrimmar can't be destroyed, or whether you think the cinematics simply need rewritten, addressing the subject of which faction is on top... well, it goes poorly.

So this week, we asked your intrepid WoW Insider staff what they think of the current balance. Is one faction better off than the other? And more importantly, what could be done to even out the story? Some of the answers might surprise you.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The student's guide to balancing real life, good grades, and video games

The student's guide to balancing real life, good grades, and video games
If academic success for fans of video games were as simple as "Do your homework and limit your time online," we'd all be LFG amongst a population of Rhodes Scholars. But maintaining your sanity (and your grades) when your most beloved hobby is designed to be an endless maze of virtual delights involves more than vague notions of buckling down during key pressure points. Achieving balance requires effective tactics to help you keep your life in balance -- and that's what we'll be covering here.

Playing an MMO like World of Warcraft as a student drops you into a minefield of inflexible teachers and schedules, disapproving parents, unaccommodating raid schedules, and blithely tempting guildmates. Trip on any one of these drama bombs, and you're in for what we sometimes ironically refer to as "good times." Whether you're an independent college student or still working out your schedule with Mom and Dad, we'll show you how to set and stay on course while heading off the most common school/life/play issues before they strike.

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Filed under: Drama Mamas

Breakfast Topic: We all want to play the overpowered class, right?

Breakfast Topic We all want to play the overpowered class, right
'Splain this one to me, breakfast crew: Do WoW players really want to play overpowered characters? I mean, we all joke about wanting to be the OP flavor of the month. And if you're trying to level quickly or you know you're going to be playing primarily on your own, sometimes you really do need a particularly sturdy character.

It's one thing to have a toolkit that works especially effectively in certain situations. I consider that to be flavor, not a sign of OP-ness -- the dungeons with DoT-based encounters that simply cry out for strong HoTs, or the bosses that demand more interrupts than some melee classes can reliably produce. But some players seem to want characters that can bully their way through whatever the game can dish out. It's that kind of gameplay, in my mind, that turns what should be a glorious adventure into a one-note to-do list. But maybe that's not the way you see it. Maybe you think being OP feels more like a reliable, rewarding way to heroically master whatever the big bads can throw at you.

Does being "overpowered" make you feel capable and satisfied with the game, or do you feel hungry for a real challenge after chewing through content with ease? Do you think most players really want to play an "overpowered" character that can manhandle most of the content without breaking a sweat? Do you? What is being "overpowered," and is it a good thing or not?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Shifting Perspectives: Druid leveling and talents in Pandaria

Shifting Perspectives Druid leveling and talents in Pandaria
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we grind.


Okay, I know this column is a little behind the Mists of Pandaria power curve. That said, if you happened to fall in love with another class (coughMonkcough) for leveling this time around, and you've just now leveling to 90...here's some tips. And yes, that's a moonkin on a mechanostrider by a fish. Why? Isn't it obvious?

Before your arrival in Pandaria

Well, that depends on what level your gear is at. If you didn't play significantly at endgame in Cataclysm, you'll find that the enemies get a lot stronger as soon as you hit ground in Jade Forest. You'll get pieces of 378 green gear as you proceed through the early quests, but if you're still rocking Mount Hyjal greens like some of my alts, you may want to look at picking up some Misthide crafted leather items from the auction house. If none are available, you can also ride to Dawn's Blossom and visit the gear vendor there for some starter pieces. You can skip this if you choose, but in that case expect the initial quests to be fairly difficult, and you won't have the item level to queue for dungeons right away.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: The Heart of the Wild and Symbiosis hotfixes

Shifting Perspectives The Heart of the Wild and Symbiosis hotfixes
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we abandon our pretensions.

I knew this was going to happen. I tweeted about it back in August, suggesting that Heart of the Wild was far too powerful for both balance and feral druids; when combined with a weapon swap, the damage potential was significant. Several others warned about it on release, but to no avail, Bosses fell, DPS meters were topped, and all the non-druids complained bitterly. The cry of "Nerf druids!" was heard throughout the land, though most of us were too busy playing PandaFarm to notice.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: 5.0.4 changes for feral and balance druids

Shifting Perspectives 504 changes for feral and balance druids SUN
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, NUMBER 5 IS ALIVE!

The patch is coming! The patch is coming! Run around screaming wildly! Right. Anyway, if you're just coming back to WoW, here's everything new you'll need to know to get your feral or balance druid up to speed. First I'll hit some of the overall druid changes before drilling down into the spec-specific stuff.

Changes for druids

Feral is no longer a tank/DPS specialization. Yes, bearcatting is officially dead for those who practiced it, though it lives on somewhat in one of our new talents. Feral is now solely melee DPS, and a new spec has been added for bear tanks, guardian.

All the old talent trees are gone. You still pick a specialization at level 10, but instead of a 31-point tree, you now have six tiers of talent choices, with one choice out of three options every 15 levels. With the talent tree deletion came an ability shuffle; many druid abilities that were spec-specific, such as Force of Nature or Feral Charge, have been made into talents that can be used by any spec. For more, read my column on talent tiers 1 through 3 or tiers 4 through 6.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Further redesigns to the Mists of Pandaria balance druid rotation

Shifting Perspectives Beta changes
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we make ch-ch-ch-changes.

A new week, a new beta patch, and a new design for the balance druid rotation (again)! There are some large changes here, as it appears the developers have scrapped a few of the new ideas that they were trying in the beta and have reverted to more of a Cataclysm-style model. All the theorycrafting on this is still being done, so some caution is in order, but I'm tentatively excited about how this is turning out.

First, here's a quick list of the new changes (thanks to Elrahd):
  • Moonfire and Sunfire are now two separate spells independent of Eclipse. Base damage of DoT component damage for both spells increased by 50% and duration reverted to 18 seconds.
  • When Celestial Alignment is activated, casting Moonfire will apply both DoTs.
  • Crits from Starfire and Wrath increase the duration of Moonfire and Sunfire respectively by 2 seconds. Starsurge crits increases both by 2 seconds. This effect is independent of Eclipse.
  • Fae Empowerment no longer exists.
  • Euphoria is no longer a proc but a passive that guarantees double energy generation from nukes outside of Eclipse.
  • Shooting Stars proc rate now 30%, down from 40%.
  • Astral Communion now channels 25 eclipse energy per second for 4 seconds, from 15 energy per second for 7 seconds.
  • New PvP 4 set bonus allows Astral Communion to be channeled while moving.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: An additional dimension for the balance druid rotation

Shifting Perspectives An additional dimension for the Balance druid rotation
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we ready our spreadsheets for battle.

Well, it looks like those who said the balance rotation was dull carried the day. Insect Swarm isn't back, but interesting developments are afoot. A few days ago, Ghostcrawler dropped a minor bombshell on the balance rotation, and I'd like to do a bit of theorycrafting and explore the implications.

Ghostcrawler
We are experimenting with some changes to the rotation. No promises that these changes will stay, but we definitely look forward to your feedback (both in terms of theorycrafting and how fun it is). Shooting Stars should occur much more frequently, and Starsurge should be a more important (read: high damage) button. Additionally, we're adding a new passive that has some interesting implications. Should you choose to ignore it, your DPS will likely be only a few percentage behind someone who uses it optimally, but it should hopefully provide some more varied gameplay. To use some game designer jargon, we're happy with Moonkins' macro level rotational gameplay, but think they needs some more mirco-level decisions.
  • Shooting Stars chance increased from 20% to 50%.
  • Starsurge damage increased by 30%.
  • Fae Empowerment: New passive for Balance Druids. When you cast Faerie Fire, you gain Lunar Empowerment and Solar Empowerment.
  • Lunar Empowerment: Increases the damage of your next 3 Starfires within 15 sec by 15%.
  • Solar Empowerment: Increases the damage of your next 3 Wraths within 15 sec by 20%.
Please note that these changes are straight DPS buffs, and we don't think Moonkin need a buff right now, so we need to reduce overall damage (probably across the board) so that overall DPS stays the same. These nerfs may take a few builds, because we need to evaluate if these rotation changes are worth doing.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Relooking at feral and balance druids in Mists of Pandaria

Shifting Perspectives Feral and balance druid updates SUN
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we analyze to theorize.

A few months ago, I posted my initial thoughts on the balance changes and feral changes in the Mists of Pandaria beta. Now that the abilities and numbers have gone through a round of fixes and changes, I'd like to relook at some of my initial concerns and see what problems the specs are still experiencing.

Balance issues

Underpowered single-target rotation, overpowered AoE rotation Thankfully, this has been addressed significantly. This specific issue was touched on by Ghostcrawler in the beta class analysis thread:

Quote:

Actually, is the design intention to have both Eclipses with the same damage output for single targets and AoE?

Actually, no. We're currently intending for Lunar to be slightly better at single target damage and Solar to be AoE damage. When you have time between phases or situations where you can use Astral Communion to quickly switch sides, you should be able to further optimize performance by tailoring which Eclipse you line up with which boss phases. The difference should not be significant enough, however, that in a Patchwerk-style scenario, you are compelled to only DPS in one eclipse.
As a side note, I posted incorrect information about Mushrooms. They DO count as Solar, and we think that's fine.


Of course, now we get to debate what "slightly better" means. Current theorycrafting suggests that Starfire (aka Lunar) and Hurricane (aka Solar) are about 20% better then their counterpart abilities in the other Eclipse. I agree with Graylo that this difference is probably too large and makes Eclipse-twisting feel more mandatory and less like an "optimization." Dropping this to the 5% to 10% range would still allow theorycrafters to come up with optimizations, but it wouldn't be necessary for players to use; they could ignore Astral Communion entirely and still do reasonably well.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion

Shifting Perspectives: The potential return of Insect Swarm for balance druids

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we go hunting for mosquito nets.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the impact of removing Insect Swarm from balance druids' toolboxes. I was pretty positive about the change; in my view, Insect Swarm was mostly superfluous, as the times you would use it independently from Moonfire were few and far between. Removing it was a welcome simplification to the rotation. Several commenters took an opposite view, however. To them, removing IS (along with some of the other changes) took things too far, and made the spec boring to play.

Well, if you were one of those commenters, you're in luck. Take it away, Ghostcrawler!

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Honey cat don't give a ...

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we gem +10 in awesome.

With apologies to Isaiah Mustafa ...

Take a look at your cat. Now look at me. Now back at your cat. Now back at me. Sadly, your cat isn't me, but if you stopped playing that silly rogue and switched to feral, you could have a cat that looked like me. Look down, back up -- where are you? You're on a boat with an armored cat, the cat your cat could look like. What's in your hand? Back at me. I have it -- it's a clam with patch notes declaring ferals to be epic. Look again; the notes are now the tears of all the classes who wish they could look like me. Anything is possible when you roll feral. Forget horses; I'm a stag.


Yes, I was tempted to end the column right there --but we've got so much good stuff to talk about.

Armored cats

A few weeks ago, Ghostcrawler mentioned that Incarnation would have specific art for cats, bears, and moonkin; in the latest patch, a datamined model showed us what is likely the first example of that. At first, I wasn't too sure about the idea of putting armor on a feral form, but it's really grown on me over the last couple of days. It's obviously difficult to do cosmetic effects for a class that revolves around shapeshifting, but I'm grateful that Blizzard's continuing to add something for forms. I can't wait to see the bear and moonkin armor. (Do moonkin even need armor?)

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

This Too Shall Pass: Balance and imbalance in World of Warcraft

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First off, we know that game balance is an eternal goal. As the game evolves and becomes more complex (as it does every expansion, because new abilities are introduced and new classes or races make their debut), balancing them all for every role they can fill and every aspect of the game (Arena PvP, BGs, 5-man instances, raiding) becomes ever more complicated. Abilities that seem minor in impact can mushroom in importance due to synergy with other talents or abilities. As an example, Vengeance in PvP became important enough to cause it to be turned off, as gear improved and health pools rose.

This has been the case in World of Warcraft since its debut. Heck, thanks to Indalamar, warriors got nerfed before the game went live. Balance is ephemeral. Your class may be on top one day, but your day will end. Anyone who's tanked for the past six years can attest to the roller coaster of which class is best at which aspect of the role. There was a time where paladins were the undisputed kings of AoE tanking, a time before Death and Decay or Blood and Thunder.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, PvP, Raiding, Hotfixes

Shifting Perspectives: Mega moonkin, fabu ferals, and Symbiosis specs

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we discuss how fast to deny hunters Symbiosis in exchange for all those taming attempts.

This is apropos of nothing, but I love how the current Incarnation effect for balance druids simply makes them huge. (For comparison, here's the before image, and thanks to Lissanna at Restokin for the screenshots.) This totally reminds me of the first time I got a Mega Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros, actually. "Yes, I'm just going to walk through everything in the level; maybe I'll pick my teeth with the flagpole."

Sadly, this effect isn't going to make it to live. Happily, though, we've got plenty of other stuff to talk about this week, such as several new glyphs and a mostly complete reveal of Symbiosis.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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