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Posts with tag LFD

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The struggle between gear disparity and good play

Okay, truth time - I can solo any five player heroic dungeon in Mists of Pandaria, as long as it doesn't have mechanics that prevent me. If I'm even concerned that I'll take too much damage and die, I'll pop on my tank set and go prot, but many times it isn't even a concern. Blow all my DPS cooldowns, blow my defensive cooldowns when I'm at about half health, boss falls over. Done it in Mogu'shan Palace and Scarlet Monastery. And I'm hardly the exception here - the fact is, the Mists of Pandaria dungeons were introduced at the beginning of the expansion and tuned so that players in ilevel 450 gear could complete them.

I'm at around ilevel 576.

Even players who are just in flex or LFR gear out gear these instances immensely. If a DPS player in full SoO LFR gear goes into Mogu'shan Palace and decides to pull more mobs than the tank was ready or waiting for, he or she can probably DPS them all down before dying themselves, especially if they get a few heals. Meanwhile, even the tanks can often put out enough damage (while taking so very little and having various means to heal it up) that they can basically solo the whole place if they want to, leaving absolutely everyone in the group feeling very little need to actually play as a group. As many, many people point out to me on twitter, it's just assumed that everyone is going to pull like crazy, so even undergeared players in a specific role often assume it's going to happen and react. Maybe your tank doesn't want to pull like a fiend, but they saw your gear and thought they had to in order to keep control of the dungeon. The lines of group communication have broken down into a silence that masks intent - runs are zoned into and pulled with grim efficiency.

Into this veil of silence enters you, the player. So what can be done about it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Warlords of Draenor: Proving Grounds will be required for Heroic Dungeon random queues

Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, the Lead Encounter Designer for World of Warcraft, has already told us that proving grounds will be updated for Warlords of Draenor. In a move that helps explain why, he dropped some late night news yesterday in the form of dungeon progression information.

In short, if you want to join the dungeon finder queue for level 100 heroic dungeons, you will need to get a silver medal in the proving grounds for the role you want to queue for. That means if you want to heal, your DPS silver medal isn't good enough. You'll need to go back and get it for healing as well. This applies only to the random queue. If you're going straight in with friends, no medal is required. Normal dungeons will not require any proving grounds experience at all, and normal dungeon and scenario gear should be enough to let you queue for the raid finder.

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Oops, I queued as tank again

I've tanked a few LFR's lately. The thing is, I didn't mean to.

I don't mean I pulled aggro. I mean that when I queued, I forgot that I had tank selected alongside DPS. I do this in five man heroics I'm running for justice points as well. When I find myself selected to tank the dungeon (often only noticing after I get in and no one else is the tank) I usually shrug and put on my tank set and do it. It's not the group's fault I keep forgetting to uncheck that box, after all. And there's a bit of an up side. The other day my wife and I were talking in game and I said "I think I'm going to ride my blue dragonhawk" which surprised her, because I am not a mount collector. "Wait, you have a blue dragonhawk?" Well, yes I do, and I can thank forgetting to uncheck that tanking box for it.

I'm under the impression that I'm fairly rare in this regard. I don't know how true that is, because I've really only talked to a few people about it, and some of them don't play hybrids, so there is no other box for them to check. I'm sure all the warlocks I know would select tank if they could, for instance. But at least some folks seem to do this from time to time.

Being an opinionated cuss, I have some thoughts on this whole phenomenon I'd like to share.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Things that were harder before

Things that were harder before
I did a post this week about raiding in previous expansions and in vanilla WoW, and how people often say those raids were harder and my opinion that it is easily demonstrable that current raids are if anything more complicated than they have ever been. I frankly believe there is almost no room for comparison between the game at 60 and today in terms of raid complexity and difficulty. Part of this stems from the many different variations on what the word hard means in this context. Something can be harder because it is conceptually or executionally more complex (the difficulty can stem from how much is required to successfully complete its mechanics) or it can be hard because it is laborious and/or time consuming. Was raiding with 40 people in classic WoW more laborious? Absolutely it was. It wasn't mechanically harder, but it was more time consuming and took a great deal of effort to organize and plan. It's the difference between working out a complex multi-stage math problem and carrying five thousand pounds of rocks from point A to point B.

But there were some points worth addressing. It absolutely has never been easier to level, even without heirlooms, than it is right now. Vanilla leveling to 60 took more time and effort than leveling to 90 does today. Even without heirlooms, one can easily and without much stress reach level 20 in a few hours, level 40 in less than two days, and be level 60 within a day of that, and this isn't spending all day staring at the screen either. This is a fairly casual leveling pace. I leveled a blood elf warrior to 35 in two days of rather casual play, an hour on followed by a half hour reading websites or having a snack or even going for a long walk.

It's also far easier to do the following things:
  1. Get a dungeon group. You can queue for dungeons at level 15, and from that point on, all you ever have to do to run a dungeon is hit that queue. If you're playing in the tank or healing role you can effectively chain dungeons all day, and even leveling as DPS there are stretches where you don't even need to quest or do anything but dungeon.
  2. Run a battleground. While you could argue that doing well at BG running as you level up and at max level takes some time and effort, if you want to risk queueing in whatever gear you have, it's simplicity itself.
  3. Getting ready to raid at max level. The game now has catchup mechanisms in place for players who start later. If you just got your alt to 90 and are switching to it for raiding, deciding to give raiding a try for the first time, or what have you it's not the case that your raid group is compelled to run you through previous raids for attunements and keys, much less gearing you through older raids to get ready for the current content.
  4. Find something to do. You could even argue that there's too much to do, or that it feels too mandatory. But you can't argue you don't have options - if you don't want to run dungeons, raid, or PvP there are pet battles, daily quests and scenarios you can do.
So the question then becomes this: is it better or worse for the game that these things are easier? For that matter, are they easy enough?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Dungeons and you - a guide to basic etiquette

Dungeons and you  a guide to basic etiquette
I am generally a tank, and therefore when I run heroics I tank them. This is not always the case. If I want DPS gear, I queue as DPS because it's only fair to perform the role you intend to gear up. This results in me ending up switching to tank after a previous tank has left, or the group has wiped a few times, about half the time I sign up to DPS. This is intensely frustrating to me, because I don't like having to switch and end up seeing the gear I came for, and signed up for, going to someone else because I'm tanking. I also don't like tanking after waiting in a queue for twenty minutes.

Therefore, this is a basics guide to dungeon running that covers a few things all groups should know, because I'm seeing a lot of groups that don't seem to know them. Five man dungeons are all about personal responsibility in the Mists of Pandaria era - you need to help keep yourself alive by making smart decisions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Your evil, animatronic late-night pugging is back

Image
Why hello, insomnia. Fancy seeing you around here again. It's been what, a week? I guess that's enough sleep. As is my wont, I tend to log onto WoW and do ridiculous things when I'm tired, like run Dungeon Finder groups over and over again. I don't need the points, as I usually cap valor just by raiding, and I don't need the gear. Sometimes I tank, sometimes I DPS. (I have yet to figure out how to queue my warrior as a healer.) I've figured out, to some extent, why I do this.
  1. I test out build ideas in PuGs. That prot spec with all the threat talents, or the other one that cherry picks for Second Wind and Blood Craze. (Yeah, I tanked with that one. It worked OK, but man, I missed Blood and Thunder.) My fury spec that has both SMF and TG for no good reason aside from switching between Gurthalak and Souldrinker every few minutes. (Gurth's way better, in case you were wondering.)
  2. I like killing things in video games. No real surprise there.
  3. I indulge my transmog jones. There's something about running Well of Eternity in tier 2, then going back and transmogging into level 40 greens and running it again. It amuses me.
  4. I get to feel like a superhero. Seriously, a lot of the time I get dropped into a run halfway through that's struggling on Azshara or Murozond, and I can just kind of go completely and utterly bonkers on said boss. Yes, one of the reasons we collect all this gear is so we can feel powerful. I don't go around posting meters or bragging; I often say very little aside from an occasional joke.
Number 4 up there is the easiest one to be obnoxious about, so I try never to be that guy going on about how awesome his DPS is or pulling threat because he couldn't wait for the tank. Yeah, I could probably do more if I opened up sooner, but I don't feel like it's necessary. I'm there because it feels good to show up and help lift a group over obstacles, not to become an obstacle. I did enjoy the one group where everyone was very encouraging to see exactly what I could do, though. It was fun to just cut loose on Dawnslayer for once.

How about y'all? Ever up at ungodly hours? If so, and you see that guy above, he might be me. (I change looks by the hour.)

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

The Raid Finder, the Dungeon Finder, point caps and you

I have a theory that either our various caps for justice and valor points are too low, or the amount we get per activity is too high. I'll relate my thinking. I have several level 85 characters I'm running through the Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder tools. Clearing both halves of the Raid Finder Dragon Soul gets me 500 valor; I then run four random heroics, and I'm capped. This means that playing my main any further that week is effectively a waste of time. (I usually cap my valors out before I even raid for a week, which makes raiding just about the gear, but I'm OK with that.)

My problem is, I like my main. I'd play him more if there was anything to do. As it is, I tend to cap out on justice points rather than run on one of my alts, and even then, they usually cap on valors as well. (At least two of them do.) I even sometimes cap on honor, and with the new conquest point gains for Random BGs, I could cap on conquest if I really set my mind to it. And while I understand why we have both weekly and total caps on points, it often feels like I'm being penalized for liking the game and wanting to play it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Patch 4.3: Hotfix on the way for Dungeon Finder crashes

The launch of patch 4.3 has been smooth overall, but there's one major exception: The Dungeon Finder has developed a case of narcolepsy. If you've been in the queue for any of the new Hour of Twilight dungeons tonight, chances are good you've noticed the system suffering from crashes with extreme frequency.

Good news: There's a fix in the works, and we're likely to see it tonight. Cross your fingers.

Bashiok - LFD Tool Down?
There's a known issue causing the LFG servers to crash, which is kicking people out of queue. A hotfix is already in production and we expect will be implemented this evening.

There's also an issue that's causing long queue times, and again a hotfix is in progress.



Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!

Filed under: Hotfixes

Patch 4.1: Blizzard explains new valor point mechanics

The era of the daily heroic is over! After much speculation that the one run per day random dungeon valor point rewards would turn into seven runs per week randoms instead, it turns out we are all getting exactly what we hoped for.

Blizzard has finally commented on (and explained) the incoming valor point change, which will hopefully make gearing up and gaining valor points easier for players who don't have the time or want to play each and every night to run a random for their points. Lylirra explains:

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Raid Rx: 7 pet peeves of healers


Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. If you're looking for more healing advice, check out the Plus Heal community and the new healing, raiding and guild management podcast Matticast.

Healers, you get to take the week off from reading Raid Rx. Instead, I'm going to encourage you to send this link to DPS players or tanks you know.

As a healer, there are these little things that really annoy us. Now granted, they are little. They don't bother us healers all that much individually -- hey, we have to wear our big healer pants sometimes. Now the problem occurs when these little things all add up. That's when we have a problem, because then it makes our life that much more difficult. If our life becomes more difficult, dungeon runs become brutal.

It's in the best interests of everyone to just slow it down.

Curious about the title image? Consider it a subtle reminder to get to work cracking on those Therazane deals and representing.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Blizzard working on ways to improve dungeon finder

The current dungeon finder is of course a vast improvement over the old LFG channel, but it can always be made better. In response to a forum thread about the dungeon finder's ever becoming performance-based, Zarhym weighed in with some interesting news.

Zarhym - Dungeon queue should be performance-based
We would love to implement better ways for Dungeon Finder to detect if players know what they're doing in dungeons beyond just the gear they've accumulated. We have some long-term design goals in mind for this we're not quite prepared to share this early on though. ;)


What was more interesting was the idea that Blizzard wants to improve the educational aspect of the service, however. With the current vote kick system, often players who are forced out of a group may have no idea why they failed, especially when they are new to the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Cataclysm

Making the dungeon finder suck less

Anyone who's read the official forums lately has probably seen a raft of complaints directed at players abusing the dungeon finder and vote to kick features. It's a reminder that people will always figure out a way to twist a system to their own benefit. The most upsetting technique I've read about is two hybrid DPS in cahoots with a third DPS queuing as a tank/healer duo, getting an instant invite to dungeons, and then pressuring the two other members of the party to shoulder the tank or healer job. If they don't or can't fill these roles -- kick 'em after the 15 min grace period and requeue themselves as straight DPS. Voilà -- they are now at the head of the dungeon queue for the next tank or healer! Is it any wonder that players find this enraging?

Heartbourne of Lore Hound offers an analysis of some potential solutions to dungeon finder abuse. As he observes, a proposed rating system for players could be easily abused on its own, so maybe that's not the best way to go. However, I find his suggestion of a social networking angle to be pretty interesting. What if there were a priority system to be grouped with players you met and "liked" before? What if guilds across servers could "friend" each other and form pools of players from which to draw 5-man groups?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard announces phase 2 of region-wide battlegroup matching

In an effort to connect more players through the dungeon finder tool and battlegrounds matchmaking, Blizzard is slowly rolling out a region-wide battlegroup matching system. This enormous undertaking will eventually link all of the North American realms to one another, allowing for faster queues, a more diversified opponent pool and much more. Since this is a huge step for Blizzard, both in terms of hardware and software, it will take some time. Thankfully, this is all rolling out slowly. Hit the jump for the official announcement.


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Filed under: PvP, Cataclysm

WoW Moviewatch: LFD Episode 1: First Quests

This is Preimbias's first machinima, titled LFD Episode 1: First Quests. Preimbias seems to be poking gentle fun at the antics of players just getting started in the World of Warcraft, as well as the somewhat idiosyncratic NPCs in the starting zones. That tends to be pretty good material, as I know I'm about as sick of spiders as anyone could be.

Preimbias is pretty thorough about thanking the people who have served as his inspiration, like Yumfries, Irdeen and Oblivious Films. I think that speaks pretty highly of Preimbias and probably means he's taking his machinima efforts fairly seriously. That makes me hopeful of what we'll see next.

Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an e-mail at machinima AT wow DOT com.


Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

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