Blizzard Watch – A Review

Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play.
John Steinbeck

Blizzard Watch — A Review

I don’t know whether to call this a critique, editorial, review or rant. Blizzard Watch is my “go to” website for information on World of Warcraft. I feel that for the past three months that they’ve been failing me.

Let’s take a look and see if it can be fixed.

A Little History
I first started following WoW Insider (Blizzard Watch before the name change) back during early Wrath of the Lich King. The writers were excited! Information and experiences were shared on a daily basis. The writers were high-end raiders and so then were our mentors, leaders and their voices shaped our opinions in the game.

I have followed WoW Insider/Blizzard Watch almost every day for almost eight years. I’m not alone, this is a very active busy site. I’m still following.

Transition
AOL dropped WoW Insider and Alex gathered the writers and created Blizzard Watch. This was just as Warlords of Draenor was beginning (if memory serves). The followers responded with big guns and the site was born! It was exciting to see our favorite writers and leaders continue to do their fine work.

Alex, Mr. Rossi and Anne are the three Big Guns who do the heavy lifting and as the site has expanded, they now cover the other Blizzard products: this is great. Alex believes (rightly so) that if they are going to publish writers that they are going to be paid.

The framework, I can’t specifically describe. The Queue is daily and some writers offer pieces weekly and some offer twice a month. I think that this framework is too rigid, which I’ll get to soon.

A Very Rough Start
Even though there was an out-pouring of love from the readers, the Big Three went on record as not liking Warlords of Draenor. Anne in particular ripped end game content, stated she’d not be raiding and there was the Dragon Age fiasco. As gamers, they can say these things: as politicians, they can not.

I wonder, given the volume of traffic at Blizzard Watch if the Big Three have shaped the negative response to Warlords of Draenor. With great power comes great responsibility. Never dismiss the power, voice, words or attitude of a leader: I wonder, I really do. My friends who do not pay attention to BW, Wowhead, Dev Twitter etc: they love this expansion.

Politicians
Life is politics. It would be naïve to think that there is no power. Our wonderful writers are not politicians and it is there that they fail and they need to grow up: fast. Mr. Rossi appears to be the only honest writer and player of the Big Three.

I learned this lesson as an artist. I could stamp my foot and say that I only wanted to my Art — but I was young. Being an artist is being an educator, promotor and politician; just listen to Bob Dylan or Andy Warhol talk about their work.

Over Structured.
There is very little room for fun and whimsy on the Blizzard Watch site. If, say, the hunter writer posts his material twice a week; he is bound on some level to make a post that covers a broad and wide topic that is very general. He is unlikely to post a quick little find or fun idea or tricky macro for a specific fight. AND, no other writer can mention anything Hunter for fear of poaching on their grounds.

Not Raiding
Mr. Rossi is the best of the best. I can’t describe when, in the Queue, he mentions doing the weekly bonus event. He is playing! He isn’t hard-core end game mythic raiding and he doesn’t have to be. Anne and Alex reject what defines most players, the raid scene. You see it in the questions answered for the Queue.

If Blizzard Watch is not meeting the needs of raiders, their comment sections get reduced to fan-driven Transmog Tuesday, burger recipes and old images. The raiders won’t turn to Blizzard Watch and that cripples the site as an information delivery system as they also won’t offer what they know.

How To Fix Blizzard Watch
It might be too late.

Still, they can try. I would put Anne out to pasture and let her post her Lore articles twice a month; she is of no value to listeners and readers who are active in the game. Triple Mr. Rossi’s salary, he is so incredibly solid as a writer and human being.

They need to get raiders who will write. They need to feature podcasts, bloggers and players who are out in the world still working. They need writers who want to fly, get the Legendary Ring and raid with it, who are farming rares and battle pets — every day.

Their stance on PvP needs to change. Ignoring it on the reasons they state is weak. They could simply have a “My pvp action bar set-up and macros” — no, Alex, it’s not obvious nor stupid to do this.

They need to love and play the game. The class writers are all done raiding and taking a break (as they should be), sadly we never got their best experiences.

Can Legion Save Blizzard Watch?
The terrific writers at BW need to learn to be politicians and teachers. They need to recognize their power as a big site and get answers from Blizzard when we want it.

In Conclusion
Blizzard Watch is still my daily visit, if not several times. I recognize that they are not meeting my needs nor are they winning my respect as a player: even though they did in the past. I hope that there is room for whimsy and fun.

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Hearthcast Again!

Read something positive every night and listen to something helpful every morning.
Tom Hopkins


I was with my guild mates last night. We got Bronze on the Skyreach Challenge Mode and then turned around and did the Mythic version for the weekend bonus quest.

My Guild Master says, “Did you listen to Hearthcast yet this week?”

Whoa, no I had not but I sure did this morning!

I got ANOTHER mention from Rewt and Freckleface on this week’s Hearthcast. The topic, again, was leveling and he mentioned my post right here on Coffee Cakes and Crits.

A banner day, I tell ya.

He was talking about late leveling and finding Treasures for XP. My experience is that the quests are generally around 20,000xp and a treasure found is worth 30,000xp.

My own experience is that the treasures can only be found in the zone of your level or lower. So, at 91, you can only do Shadowmoon Valley. As you level up, the treasures then become available in Talador, Spires, etc.

I did to some treasure hunting in Shadowmoon Valley at level 91 (I can fly!). I used the Handynotes addon with Dreanor Treasures. I found SMV to be a bit tedious: they are hard to find! Little clicky cogs hidden in the weeds was my dire experience.

On the other hand, the whoosh from 98 to 100 features Nagrand! These treasures are easier to find since many are part of Jumping Puzzles and the goal must be seen. I really enjoyed the speed and ease of leveling via Treasures in Nagrand.

You can use Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning from your Garrison Quartermaster for a 20% boost to XP for a full hour! (Remember the Elixir of the Rapid Mind is only 15 minutes). The Excess Potion is a mere 100 garrison resources and a nice perk if you choose to level via flying and Treasure Hunting.

Once again: visit Hearthcast for all your podcast needs and entertainment.

Thanks Rewt and Freckleface!

A Pug Life: Getting Your Four-Piece Tier Set

I’m a reflection of the community.
Tupac Shakur


No reason to exchange words, because we will most likely never meet ingame again. Thoughts?

The Finders were supposed to be for when your friends weren’t available, not as a way to experience an MMO solo. (OccupyGStreet)

But the awesome convenience of quick matchmaking means why wait for friends? League has the same problem. (OccupyGStreet)


The above is from MMO Champions. OccupyGStreet is Ghostcrawler, who is now with League of Legends. He should be in the gaming Hall of Fame.

We can go rogue. We can fly independent of our raid team and gear ourselves up. If you are impatient or want to test your skills: go for the four-piece tier set.

I’ve written before on the need and advantages of crafting up your gear. I stand by it: a weapon, boots and belt (or cloak) is a strong advantage throughout the raiding or gearing experiences.

I’ve also written on upgrading your Baleful gear via the Empowered Crystal, allowing you to have ideal secondary stats on all of your gear. Toss a lucky piece from Kazzak and you can be pretty strong.

A Pug Life
A typical raiding week is two nights at two or three hours each. As you progress, you fight certain bosses that drop Tier sets which will add a strong bonus to your spec. You know your needs and (lets use Gorefiend as an example) and when your team kills him; you /roll on the loot and you use your bonus roll too, if you didn’t win the raid-wide roll.

The odds are against you. During MoP, a bonus roll was a 15% chance; I assume it’s the same. This will likely mean that it could be months before your get your piece.

Since you can get three Seals of Inevitable Fate a week, this could mean that you have two more bonus rolls and I recommend going Pug (pick up group).

How to:
Let’s use Gorefiend but you can look up on the Adventurer’s Journal to see the loot tables. Pick the one you want. The Group Finder tool is very powerful and it is there for our purposes.

Go to Group Finder (on your action bar), click Pre-Mades, click WoD raids and you will see a listing of all the people who are hosting an experience (boss kill or achievement or progress or guild run, etc).

Look over the listings. Some loot (maybe yours) will be reserved, if it’s only a bonus roll, this won’t matter. There are two types of looting MS>OS (main spec then off spec) which requires players to /roll for highest number or the simpler Personal Loot.

Some listings only want one more player to fill their team, a healer perhaps. You can try to join them if you want. Remember you can apply to up to five teams on a five minute timer. Some teams will keep the listings up in anticipation of players leaving after a wipe.

Type in the search box: Gore. This will show you the offerings for your much desired boss kill. Look to see if it is Normal or Heroic, make your choice and apply to join. With luck, you will be invited and go kill your boss and use your bonus roll and get your piece. A lot of luck!

Pro Tips:

  • Be at the Summon Stone or entrance, you are expected to run in and join the group.
  • Know the fight, do your home work by reading the Adventure Journal.
  • Bring your own stuff: buff foods, potions, flasks, be repaired.
  • Be patient. Building a group can take time. Mind your own business and try not to bring out every toy you own.
  • Turn your language filter on: these are strangers and they can get a bit feisty.

Challenges:

  • Be careful in late afternoon. The kids are out of school and they flood in. I love the kids but they tend to quit after one try, hide in corners for a carry and lash out with venom if challenged.
  • The communication options are severely flawed. A host can insist on Vent, Mumble, Teamspeak or several other third-party software. This can reduce greatly the number of choices that you have.
  • You may not win the roll. That is okay. Join another group tomorrow and try again.
  • There will be Fail Groups. Quietly leave or stay but there is zero need for you to tell them that they are failures.

Cool Stuff:

  • These are player hosted events and you can host one too, why not?
  • Bring a friend (or five), when you apply, your whole party will be listed in the application.
  • Being able to cherry-pick a single boss for loot is fabulous.
  • Helping others: yes, you can make the world a better place.
  • It’s fun.

Working on your four-piece separately from your raid team’s runs will make you stronger. It will help your raid team with your improved power and experience with the boss. It can be frustrating if you let it but it is a small time sink.

Have some fun and explore the tools offered. Expand your choices and the game gets even bigger. Go get your four-piece and then … do it again on Heroic!

Progress Report

I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
– Dorothy Parker


Hotcha! I got a mention on the podcast: Hearthcast.

I wrote them earlier in the week and they mentioned my post on the Elixir of the Rapid Mind. I am a big fan of their podcast and so honored to be mentioned.

This blog is moving right along. I have visitors from all over the world, which is thrilling. My most popular visits are on Fun Toy Box Macros and my How To articles, like farming felblight or my vudho set up for healing.

I don’t think many read my opinion pieces! It’s not really expected to get much interest, but the exercise in writing is always a treat.

The game is still a lot of fun. I have the two-piece tier set on my hunter and druid. I have the legendary ring on both as well. And I got the feat of strength, Predator, yesterday.

It’s a good day to be in Dreanor and Azeroth.

Legendary Ring — How It Works

I’ve never known of Wal-Mart to be a good neighbor in any town it’s ever moved into.
Steve Earle


Legendary Ring – How it Works

The DPS Ring is nice and obvious. One person triggers their ring and all damage over the next 15 seconds is amplified. Then, as if storing up all that damage, the ring will explode in a 20 yard radius around the person who triggered the ring. Everyone with a DPS ring will all be triggered by that first person and “feed” that person.

The Tanking Ring is basically doing an amplified version of our secondary stat: Versatility. One tank will trigger their ring (thereby triggering the other ring as well); healing and damage is increased for 15 seconds and then the release at the end is raid wide.

The Healing Ring is a bit of a question. There is very (very) little information on how the Legendary Rings work. It sucks and I am weary of finding the zillion sites on “how to” get the ring and it’s quest lines and no information on how it works.

The best guess is that any healer will trigger the ring. After the 15 second increase in healing, each healer with the ring will explode (if you will) in a 20 yard radius with healing. Does that even make sense?

In any case, the Healing Ring is simply flawed by design. A fifteen second span of pumping up the ring will heal the raid anyways. A heal explosion on a fully healed raid is numbingly wasteful. At best, an experienced healer might anticipate a five second Pound or Grasp.

The Feast of Souls is an example on Gorefiend. The temptation is to trigger the ring at the beginning with Hero and tranquility (for example) which will explode when everyone is healed. The best that I’ve seen is seeing one healer use their cooldown, then another healer, then use the ring and hope it explodes before the damage is done.

The DPS Ring is beautiful and straight-forward and clean. The Tanking Ring is probably best used on cooldown or against specific events within the raid. The Healing Ring is a roll of the dice.

Since the Tanking Ring feeds back damage and healing (Versatility), there is no information from any site that I’ve seen that will tell us what happens when rings are stacked (dps, tanks and heals).

I’ve posted on Blizzard Watch and those posers won’t hazard a guess. The mega-sites like Wowhead and Icy Veins have nothing beyond how to obtain the ring via the quest chain.

Way too many World of Warcraft secondary sites like Wowhead are commercially driven. When the subscriptions dropped in mid-WoD, they all looked to other income.

This is like WalMart driving out all the Mom and Pop businesses in your community and then closing down. There are no bookstores any more on the street corners, no local hardware stores.

The theory-crafters and bloggers were all buried by Icy Veins and Wowhead, they got their asses kicked. Now, wanting to find good hard information on a substantial raid boost is impossible to find.


Update: I have found a trickle of information on the Healing Rings.

The Healing Ring builds up it’s power on effective healing, not over-healing.
The burst is raid wide.
The burst is an absorb shield which will last for 15 seconds or until used up.
The Rings are line-of-sight, so being in Visions or in the Belly would not trigger someone outside.
Two ideas: one is to lean on the 15 second buff for it’s use and not the burst (being reactive, not anticipatory); second is to consider it a different cool-down and not stack with big healing cool downs.

Op-Ed: WoW and Technology

Years ago, I was commissioned to re-create a design I did on a dance piece. It was to be re-staged at Cal-State Fullerton for a dance festival with the hope of eventually going to the Kennedy Center.

I got a couple of hundred bucks, I was driven to the university and fed lunch and dinner and then driven back at the end of the day. My job was to set the piece on this new stage so that it could travel and be duplicated.

I had come up with the concept after a few early rehearsals. My idea was to restrict the space by lighting only a zone, perhaps 15 feet. I would light the zone with the three primaries of light; red, blue and green. By stacking these lights from different angles, they’d add up to a white light.

However, in every fold of cloth, shadow of arm, every crease and wrinkle — one color would be naturally blocked. So, a subtle magical color in each shadow would appear.

The idea went on with some big 2000 watt Fresnel lights that would slowly (about six to eight minutes) fade up; in the end washing out the stage with big bright white light. Illustrating the arc of the piece; the filament of the lamps naturally go through a warm phase as they brighten.

I had the idea. I created it on the stage and brought the choreographer to look at my idea. He embraced it to the point of setting his piece based on my structure. The costume designer supported the idea by creating loose flowing tops that were white on the dancers, completed by black biker shorts and bare legs. It was cool.

On my way down to Fullerton, I had time to think and review their space and equipment. I’d be using moving lights. It was new technology, only about 15 years old. The light source is a short-arc lamp. This means that it is not dimmed, it has a dowser.

This means that it does not naturally go through a warm phase as it gets brighter.

I wondered, at that moment, what it must’ve felt to the designers back in the early 1900’s. They had been using gas lighting; the most basic light of all — fire. Fire has a life to it, you and I know this. How they must’ve struggled with the new electric lighting and it’s inherent flatness!

How, I wonder, did cinematographers dread the digital age? Film is a chemical process with deft subtle colors. Digital is flat, so very flat. Today we see all the CGI and wonderful looks of digital but does anyone miss the masters of light in Film Noir?

I had no choice. The technology was thrust upon me. We have this happening in our day-to-day lives all of the time. New technology is forced upon us (like Windows 10) every day, long before it’s been tested. The breaches into every single security system we’ve created from our government, our cars, our banking, our medicals prove how risky new technology can be to us and ours.

We’ll be gaming with new technology and have no choice. The idea of keyboard and mouse will seem clumsy and archaic. Soon enough, I’m sure. Still, we’ll remember fondly of this time, right now, when millions of players gamed in World of Warcraft for ten years. The community, the excitement; years of played time, together.

Never again; but I wish I knew the time of:
Serials released as chapters in newspapers like Great Expectations or Sherlock Holmes.
The age of Film and the era of Film Noir.
When food was unprocessed and before microwaves.
When women did not have fake tits.
When stage lighting was not for documentation on YouTube but for live viewing.
The incandescent lamp with a filament.
Of art movements as they progressed (Dada, Surreal, Cubism, Impressionism, Expressionism).

Eras rise and fade. Stage lighting will always be for documentation for ever more. We enjoy the changes and advances as they move forward and relish that we “were there” when life was rich and interesting. When we could enjoy the play of shadows on a dancer; beautiful in the moment.

Planning in WoW — Healer

Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.
Phil McGraw

Planning in WoW

I think one of my strengths is being able to plan. This is NOT true with my personal life, sad to say. When I was the boss in a road house, I could put up the lighting and masking for three shows at once; giving the crew a break. Prior, my boss would do one show at a time. He couldn’t think that way.

Planning in WoW, for me takes some time as I see the pieces strewn about. But, once I grasp the bigger picture then all those pieces necessarily and naturally fit into place.

We got our “90 Boost” a few years ago and mine has been sitting. I’m thinking of using the boost and try a new class!

My two raiding mains are set, done except for the raiding. This is the fun time in WoW because a lot of people are raiding and are not too picky who they get; they just want numbers. Healers are in demand, always, and I think I’d like to try a healer.

But here is the deal. I can’t decide! I have the means. I can level 90 boost. I can make gear, high end gear. I can use the empowered crystals and make even more gear.

Part of my choice is which kind of healer. A priest is pretty cool; they can be Holy or Discipline. I even have a name: Temerity. A freaking great name for a priest healer.

Or, I could go paladin and serve the light. I have a name for this one too: Rascal. Isn’t that a great player name?

I’d want to be quick. I don’t want to spend near the amount of time that I did on my mains. Just a few new class to learn as the expansion spreads along.

Gear could take three weeks. Getting to level 100 would be mostly healing dungeons and doing some Elixir runs. The tripping-point would be the Tanaan Jungle which requires some DPS. With my gearing plan, I might be able to skirt much of the painful stuff.

I’m thinking Rascal the Paladin. What do you think?

Hmmm … I could delete the priest and give a new paladin the Temerity name.

It’s so hard to decide!

……………………..

Break it Down:
Paladin Sword, Shield, Belt and Shoes — 180 Savage Blood, 360 Felblight (whoa!)
Gear from Shipyards via my mains.
Upgrades from my alts with empowered crystals
Legendary quest line? Hmmmmm