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Posts with tag skill

Breakfast Topic: It's lonely at the top

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to

Maybe some of you will understand where I'm coming from. I play a fury warrior, my favorite class that fits my playstyle in every way. I like to think of myself as a raging berserker painted in woad and the blood of my enemies. I'm a whirlwind of doom that will fight 'til his last dying breath against insurmountable odds.

But here is the problem that I'm facing: I'm number one in damage done and damage per second on nearly every fight. Now you may be thinking to yourself, "What's your problem? Doesn't that just mean you're doing your job?" Yes, it does -- but it also means that my raiding team isn't doing its job as well as myself. Now don't get me wrong, I've been with this team since I knew what end of the axe to even hold, and I consider all of them to be my friends. But I put in my time, got my gear, did my research and started topping the charts by an alarming amount. I thought that once I would get to this level of the game, I would have to struggle to keep my place among the elite, but that just isn't so. I don't see any of my fellow damage-dealers putting in the same effort that I'm putting in.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Scattered Shots: Skill vs. gear

Welcome to
Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.

The skill vs. gear debate comes up fairly often, whether it's people cursing Gearscore or cursing Recount or cursing their teammates from the Dungeon Finder. And it's not even a debate: across the board everyone agrees that skill is greater than gear. Good DPS comes from skill and that skill far outweighs the impact of gear. Gevlon's guild brought this into the spotlight in October of last year when they did Ulduar in all blues -- including Yogg-Saron.

But here's the thing: every time someone is out-DPSed by the same class the response seems always to be, "Yeah, but he has better gear." I've never seen anyone say, "Yeah, he must be a better player than me." I mean, not once, not ever.

The reason is that in our heart of hearts, we all assume that we're skilled players.

So today we're going to take a look at exactly how much our gear contributes to our DPS, and compare that to raid buffs. We're going to define what we mean by skill, as opposed to mere competence. Join me after the cut for a mix of hard numbers and philosophy and arm yourself for the next skill vs. gear debate that pops up.

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Filed under: Hunter, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Blizzard's success with equalizing content

Kinless Chronicles talks about something I think Blizzard has done exceptionally well with the latest expansion: "equalized content." Their story is about taking control of a Blightblood to finish off Drakuru, but there are countless examples of this in Northrend, from the last fight of Drak'theron to the encounter in Eye of Eternity with Malygos. World of Warcraft (and MMOs in general) has always been about levels and gear -- get better gear or level up, and you can cast more spells, swing an axe harder, and move on to more epic encounters. But Blizzard's "equalizing content" means that gear isn't always an issue -- by putting you in control of something else, whether that be a mind-controlled Troll or a siege vehicle, you can have extremely epic encounters without worrying about whether you're powerful enough for them or not. The limiter becomes not gear but skill (and/or the knowledge of how to use those skills).

Obviously they can't do nothing but equalized content, otherwise we're all just playing the same game (and, under pressure from players, they've even moved on to a mix of both, where gear does affect how you play in a vehicle). But Blizzard has really hit on something brilliant with what we're calling "equalized content" here, and used in a balanced way, it can allow players of all kinds of different skill levels to do even more epic things than they'd normally be able to do.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Gear vs. Skill

Bell over at 4 Haelz made an interesting post about gear and skill. She relates several experiences where, looking for group, players ask for her 'stats' and grill her further upon finding out that she's on the low end of the spectrum numbers-wise. Sometimes, those players don't invite her or, worse, log off from their party without even giving her a chance to prove herself. But there's a flip side, too, and Bell tells of running Heroic Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom with a tank who gave her a chance. That story ends well and a Druid in less-than-stellar gear earns some new friends along the way (and hopefully loot, although she didn't mention that).

This is an old and valid argument. In many cases, some raids or instances just require a certain level of gear in order to beat it. Take Archavon, for example. He's the easiest raid boss in the game, but players will need to bring a minimum DPS in order to kill him before he enrages. It's a simple fight, and players don't need much skill to do it (step out of the clouds), but there's just a modicum of gear required to pump out enough DPS to beat him. No matter how good you are, weapons and gear scale your DPS upwards or downwards and there's a ceiling you just won't be able to break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances

Take the player, not the class

There's a new philosophy in Wrath (actually, already here in the post-3.0.2 world) when it comes to who you should bring on your raids. In short, as the headline says: pick the players you like, not the classes and specs you need. In all of WoW until this point, there have been certain specs that were virtually required in various parts of the various raids. Which specs these were has changed with time, but think of Shadow Priests' mana battery capabilities, or stacking Shamans to get many Heroisms/Bloodlusts. To be a cutting-edge raid it was simply required to prioritize "correct" raid composition over other factors. Yes, your players needed to know how to play their class, but beyond that, you took what was needed for the fights you were doing. And you took a Warrior main tank, generally speaking.

All that is set to change forever in just nine days. Now the classes are much more interchangeable with each other than before. Some prominent buffs have been nerfed, and in one notable case, distributed: Shadow Priests, Survival Hunters, and Retribution Paladins all give mana back with Replenishment. In general there is more than one class that can provide most types of buffs and debuff. Also, many buffs that used to be group-wide are now raid-wide, such as Paladin auras and Shaman totems. This makes it much more likely that picking two tanks, three healers, and five DPSers out of a grab bag will get you decent coverage on buffs and debuffs.

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Filed under: Features, Raiding, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King

Weapon Mastery as a single weapon skill stat

Forum poster Exodeus has made a suggestion that I heartily endorse: abandon the weapon skill mechanic for a universal weapon mastery system. It's not just for the reasons he suggests that I'm on board. His examples (of a hunter having to go AFK on Dr. Boom after getting a new gun drop because he's always used bows, or a rogue having to mindlessly slaughter low level mobs to get that dagger skill up) resonate for sure... we have a talented DPS warrior in my guild who had to go buy a green 2h axe because he hadn't used one since the old Arcanite Reaper days and he was supposed to be using the 2h legendary in the Kael fight, so I know how ridiculous the skilling up process can be... but because his suggestion makes sense in light of all the other ways the folks at Blizzard are unifying things like spell power, hit rating, crit rating and so on. His point about how the introduction of Expertise effectively made the whole system obsolete is dead on in my eyes.

I personally even like his proposed mechanic, but adopting it wouldn't be necessary: I'd be fine if they simply abandoned weapon skill entirely and just based everything on your character level to start with (so that if you were a level 80 paladin and you got a new hammer, you'd automatically hit with it as if you had a 400 weapon skill, no muss, no fuss) if you're dead set on keeping things simple. No matter how they go about it, since training dummies still don't provide weapon skill on use, I'd have to believe that some change or revamp of the system would be a very nice improvement to the gameplay. Getting a nice drop shouldn't send you into the Blasted Lands to find Servants of Razelikh. Those poor guys -- not only are they cursed to be unable to die, but they get smacked in the head by guys way higher level then they are all day. It's a hard life being an unkillable mob.

If Blizzard was a pixie one could make wishes to, this would definitely be one of mine. Also, I'd try and keep them safe from Captain Hook.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Forums

Forum post of the day: Try a twinkie

Seska of Ysondre has posed the challenge of twinking to players who hate this style of play. She stated that the joy of playing a twink is in planning how to get gear for the effort. To her twinking proves that gear is more important than skill. To do it right, twinking requires considerable time and effort (not to mention cash from higher level characters), but is a valuable experience. Seska is currently a level 16 Shaman, and plans to keep that character as a twink.

She was met with agreement by some other twinks, but also a lot of resistance and resentment. Some people say that they have tried twinking and gotten bored with it soon afterward, like playing any other video game with cheat codes. This practice can also be frustrating for other players who would like to battleground as they level up but become demoralized by twinks.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Alts, Forums, Battlegrounds, Forum Post of the Day

Forum post of the day: Arena Leagues

We all know that it can be hard for new level 70 characters to break into the arena. Many people start out playing their 10 games a week in order to scrounge up arena points for their first PvP pieces. Welfare epics? Maybe, but having decent gear makes it easier for many players to progress. It make some time for players to really learn to play their classes in a competitive PvP setting. Despite their best efforts, Blizzard has largely failed at fixing problems in the arenas.

Cyrse of Farstriders suggested the creation of a minor league arena with reduced rewards to help players get their feet wet in PvP. The oginal poster listed several advantages of such a system. A minor league for PvP might discourage point and team selling, which despite Blizzard's efforts is persistent in the arena. It would also allow elite players to only be bracketed with folks who give them more of a challenge.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Forums, Arena, Forum Post of the Day

Blood Sport: Yup, still broken

PvP in its purest form is a beautiful thing. Amanda Dean, always obsessed with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat brings you news you can use in the Arena.

The World (of Warcraft) seems to be full of arena lovers and arena haters. I suppose somewhere out there you might find some folks that are completely indifferent to the arena. The recent changes to the Personal Rating system seems to have brought out a furor in both camps. Suince the dawn of the Burning Crusade Blizzard has made many attempts to balance the arenas, now I find that the arenas are still broken, just broken differently.

In a sarcastically titled thread "New PR system is cool" Camelvendor of Korgath explained his situation. He played on his 2200 rated team with his old partner, who obviously had a lower rating for 33 games. Boasting a record of 29 wins and 4 losses for the day, the end result was a rating change of 56 points lost. Since the team rating was considerably higher than one of the personal ratings on the team, they found themselves playing in the 1500 bracket.

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Filed under: Tricks, Blizzard, Forums, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Arena

Why PvE has been, and always will be, the only real game

World of Warcraft has two distinctly different types of play: Player versus Environment and Player versus Player. The styles of play are dramatically different and there are few, if any, skills that cross over from one style to the other. WoW started out as a PvE game, adding in PvP content as the player base expanded. And despite the numerous PvP fanbois out there, the real game in WoW will always remain the PvE game.

There are a few reasons why I think this. First and foremost, you cannot progress in PvP without first completing a large potion of the PvE content. You start out at level 1 and progress up to level 70. You don't level up by PvPing against one another. You level up by fighting against the environment. Put simply, without the PvE there would be no PvP.

Secondly, PvP is an addition to the game. If you remove PvP from the game entirely, the game itself would not fundamentally change. However if you remove the PvE elements, the game would be nothing like it is. Everything would just exist like the Arena Tournament server. That might be fine for some people, and this is evident in the success of the Arena Tournament server. Even I enjoy spending a couple hours a week on there, but by no means would I want to just exist on a server where the only thing to do is kill one another.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP

Officers' Quarters: The road to mediocrity

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

We've all come across those mediocre players. They are the hunters that can DPS but don't know how to trap a mob; the shamans that never break crowd control but windfury their way to the top of the aggro list every single pull; the warriors who excel at single-target tanking but can't hold more than one mob at a time. Where do these players come from, and how do they stay so mediocre after 70 levels? The author of this week's e-mail thinks he has the answer: The road to mediocrity is built by your own guild.


I enjoy your Officers' Quarters articles on, so maybe you can tackle this subject for me in your next piece:

I am now a casual player (played since beta and used to be hardcore) and I'm in this nice and friendly social guild. I'm not an officer, nor do I have the desire to be one. I just want to log on and do whatever I feel like with my limited play time. This guild puts no pressure on me and I appreciate that.

The guild leaders' philosophy is to be helpful to one another – helping on whatever is needed by other members. Guild members get rank up by how much they help others. This was a noble idea . . . but there's a huge caveat.

One of the things that lower level members often ask higher members for help on is to run them through instances. However, there's a very bad side effect to this: mediocrity.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Arena Tournament details

Blizzard provided further details on the much anticipated 3v3 tournament. A mere $20* entry fee per player will give you a shot at the $75,000 grand prize. That's $25,000 a piece (unless you have more players on your team), which is not too shabby. Second place will net your team $30,000 and the third place team will get $15,000. There will also be monetary rewards for regional finalists.

Your entry fee will grant you access to the arena server for the entirety of the six-week qualifying tournament. You will be able to create up to three characters on the server. This tournament will be about skill rather than gear. You may select your weapons and armor from arena and raid epics. You will also be able to select honor-based rewards and enchantments for your items. If you don't like your original selections, respecs and gear will all be free of charge.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items, PvP, Arena

Mining to get easier in 2.4

Leveling up certain skills has been a pain for some time now, and while some skills have received leveling changes, mining has been left behind. As things stand currently, if you don't run around in circles just looking for ores every 10 or 20 levels or so, you could easily find yourself having to do a massive amount of catch up once your character reaches the level cap. The amount of mining you do in the normal course of leveling just isn't enough to keep up with your experience gain.

Drysc says that Blizzard has finally noticed that this "isn't fun" and plans to do something about it in patch 2.4. The various types of ore will be adjusted so that you can consistently level up your skill from the nodes available in the zones where your character will be leveling, without you having to go back and spend lots of extra time in areas where you don't have any quests.

Filed under: Mining, Patches

Sticks and stones...

Yesterday a player on the WoW forums pointed out that the Warrior skill Demoralizing Shout would be interesting to see in action. According to Undamian's interpretation, essentially, the skill involves insulting your opponents to throw them off balance in combat. Taunt, Challenging Shout, Piercing Howl and Intimidating Shout could also be viewed in a like manner. Unlike similar skills in other classes, warriors aren't considered magic users, so they must have an extensive vocabulary and a lot of creativity in order to affect their foes with mere words and body language.

The original poster's idea, of course, led to a slew of suggestions as to what it is that warrior's actually say when they use these abilities. Community Manager Nethaera even proffered a suggestion, and as the thread progressed, other skills, such as Commanding and Battle Shout were included. Some players even posted catch phrases that they have bound to their abilities in game via macros. What do you imagine your character would say when using these skills? Please keep it clean.

Filed under: Warrior, Humor, Forums

Death Knights' "rune" system might take some skill

"Oh my frikkin dog, everybody and their second cousin is gonna wanna be Death Knights!" was the cry heard throughout Outland when the new Hero Class was announced. WoW players everywhere had visions of dungeons and raids filled with only Death Knights; as well as Alliance and Horde cities alike all filled wall-to-wall with thousands of players who abandoned their original class to become Death Knights, only to discover (along with rogues and hunters) that it ain't so easy being uber-cool and powerful when everyone else is uber-cool and powerful too -- because everyone else is taking your raid spot.

Well Drysc has a ray of light to shed on this despair... or, in the case of Death Knights, perhaps that should be a big tank of unholy frozen blood to spill on it (assuming that would help):
I expect just about everyone is going to want to try one, but is everyone going to want to drop their long-time proffered class for one? I seriously doubt it. Also there's some amount of self regulation that will really be required to keep group composition equalized.
Not only will the other 9 classes still be needed to succeed in any group effort, but the tactics involved in playing a Death Knight might be too hard for the average Stanley Noobsauce to master. In response to one player who felt that the rune system Death Knights will be using seemed "clunky and not fun," Drysc responded:

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Filed under: Expansions, Humor, Classes, Death Knight

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