(Gnome) Tank for Life

Respect your damage dealers
October 28, 2010, 17:10
Filed under: dps, healing, tanking, thought

It came to me when I recently overviewed the new race/class combinations arriving with the launch of Cataclysm: the roles of individual classes in WoW have blended more and more together over the years, except for 4 special select classes.

When I started playing back in 2005, there was hardly any overlap when it came to role selection for certain classes. Those advertised on the official WoW page as hybrid were practically holed into one role and that was healing. “Paladins can’t tank” was a catchy phrase back then and indeed the vast majority of paladins were forced into specing holy. Druids had a tree for all three roles yet it was a truly rare sight to see a feral druid or an “oomfire” druid and with good reason too, there was at most 1 single end-game item for feral druids per slot if that ‘many’ at all and itemization for example for balance druids was non-existent (observe the first tiers of the first raids), but the same thing was true for paladins who wanted to tank or shammies who wanted to DPS. If you were a druid, you were restoration and that was it. Things have changed drastically since then…

The classes in the game today offer the following options:

  • Pure DPS class: 4
  • DPS/tank hybrids: 2
  • DPS/tank/healer hybrids: 2
  • DPS/healer hybrids: 2

In other words, 4 classes who strictly play in 1 single role and 6 classes who can play 2 or 3 roles, when you factor in the dual-specs feature even 2 at the same time. The only core limiting factors are a player’s personal preference and time invested. As you can see, we’ve come a long way since the old days and the tables have been reversed quite a bit. Today less than half of the available classes make a dedication to truly fulfil one role (and I am, of course talking about mains here) and those are hunters, warlocks, mages and rogues.

Let me repeat that: while the hybrid classes are perfectly capable of fulfilling 2 or 3 roles, only half of all classes dedicate their WoW careers to bringing the pain.

In my view of the post 4.0 world of WoW these 4 classes should be treated with high respect for what they do. They don’t have the option of hopping back to a major city and respecing to either protection or holy or resto, should they get tired of playing to see big numbers or racing to the top positions of Damage Done. They endure the long waits in the Dungeon Queue because all other classes have the option to go DPS. Only these 4 have the eternal task of bringing down the monsters we face in 5-mans or raids. They commit themselves to dealing damage and that above all. However important the tanks’ and healers’ job is at any given time, their roles will be increasingly important in Cataclysm. Judging by the new raids we’ve seen so far, they will have almost as hard a time doing the DPS task as tanks who dedicate their toons to soaking damage or healers who dedicate their toons to nullifying damage. Except a mage, a warlock, a hunter or a rogue will only do one thing and will not have any other option to do anything else, save for rolling a new toon of a hybrid class. Hats off to them!


WoW (sur)names
March 23, 2010, 14:29
Filed under: real-life, thought

The name’s Bond. James Bond.

At the risk of making my blog look like a wish list of features/functions that I’d like to see in WoW, this post questions why WoW still only features single-word names. No, there will be no quoting Shakespeare.

I recently read an article on wow.com which goes into the fine details of naming characters in WoW and it evoked a recurring thought: why Blizzard still didn’t implement surnames in WoW. Take a look at some other MMO’s, some of which even predate WoW (Everquest, Guild Wars, EVE Online, Anarchy Online, you name it)  where having a surname is mandatory. Not only does it effectively double the unique-ness of your avatar name but it allows for an exponentially greater number of names than currently. And a surname isn’t just for roleplayers either. Although there are addons for RP purposes such as flagRSP, which add a description to boot, these don’t really expand the range of variety when choosing a character name.

My main reasoning in giving surnames to players would be pretty simple: The game has been running for 5+ years with 5 million+ EU+US subscriptions and Heavens know how many millions of characters created all of which had to be uniquely named… there comes a point where we simply run out of unique, meaningful names.

My secondary reasoning follows directly – going by Blizzard’s own extensive naming policy and Support article, quote:

The bottom line is that we want World of Warcraft to be a fun and safe environment for all players. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG, and the key words are “Massively Multiplayer.” In playing this game, you will encounter thousands of other players who share different experiences and come from vastly different backgrounds. While a certain name may not be offensive to you, consider the fact that that same name may have a completely different effect on someone else.

one could be pretty damn hard pressed to find a name that is both unique, appealing to you, totally appropriate and unbeknownst to you, doesn’t contain some hidden cultural, national, scientific etc. meaning that people will read into it when they first see you in party or chat window.
although creative people will never have too much trouble with kuming up (ha ha-bad pun) with something (look no further than Tamarind and her masterfully named troll shaman 😉 ) But aside from purposely drawing on RL references, your name will always be at risk of sounding just like something else, something random that you never knew about but which exists in the world, just waiting for people to confuse it/associate with. For example, I lost count of how many times I’ve been asked in-game if I play hockey IRL. Huh? Yet no explanation was ever given, why? It wasn’t until the N-th time that I learned of Mats Sundin who was a swedish hockey player and since he’s been retired for some time, I guess SWE people just assumed that he just shuffled some characters around in his name and went by the name of Sudiin to play a gnome warrior in WoW in his free time, I dunno.

This isn’t a one-in-a-million coincidence, but perhaps could be avoided if I could properly name my gnome Sudiin Crimsonstone which is his surname in that hazy RP background I thought up for him.

Anyway, there were many was some discussion about this topic (and it has been brought up in another blog.. back in 2007) on the official forums and the answer was never a plain negative, so until Blizzard specifically states No (which they virtually never do, they always leave a door open) there is still some hope that this feature will make it into the next expansion or the one after that.

Is WoW & MMO’s one path of auto-evolution? Jane McGonigal@TED
March 17, 2010, 16:03
Filed under: gaming, philosophical, real-life, thought

“…it turns out, that by spending all this time playing games we’re actually changing what we are capable of as human beings, we’re evolving to be a more collaborative and hardy species.”

Celebrating the 1st double-post day with an awesome thought-inspiring talk @ TED, which was posted today on YouTube. The things she talks about are particularly interesting in relation to raiding…

Whiney Post Day: The Login Screen
March 17, 2010, 12:21
Filed under: philosophical, thought

“What is a Whiny Post?
It’s a post about your unjustified, unsupported, stupid complaints.”

Behold, in all it's glory!

In accordance with Klepsacovic’s call for what promises to be a very funny day of Whiney Posts, I intend to whine a little about something that has been troubling me for several years now, and hopefully do a decent job at it (while in reality will probably suck too much to be mistaken for real whining). Anyway, actually this has been a thorn in my side since TBC came out. Even before The Burning Crusade, I knew that someday some stupid expansion will come along and ruin everything. EVERYTHING!

I used to like logging into World of Warcraft. After starting up the game and listening to the classic heroic WoW theme, I used to sit around for minutes on end and enjoy the sheer beauty of the Portal, the ominous statues and the foreboding snake head, imagining the other side of that swirling portal which invited me to Enter the World, to see magical lands, experience adventures and fight epic battles. Maybe even watch the classic Game Intro just because. It was the Login Screen of my life… Then came TBC. My beloved shimmering, inviting portal was replaced with some ugly green goo-like swirls of foul Outlandish fel magic! The old music I enjoyed for years… gone! Just this stupid monstrous Dark Portal with these loosely hanging chain-things (what IS it with Blizzard and chains???) and a dumb-looking dragon head. Funky. Give me back my dangerous, menacing snake! Even the dark statues lost the evil red glow from their eyes, to be replaced with some green neon disco lights.

From then on I hated logging in, preferably not even looking at my screen to click Login, just pressing Enter after my password and hoping that Connecting and Authentication would be done with it as fast as possible. And I despised WoW devs for messing with the sacred Login Screen.

But it was not the end of the torture, the senseless disenfranchisement of the very essence, the very thing that WoW starts with, every day, for everyone. For when the next expansion got released, the already twisted and wicked Login Screen that was only a shadow of its former magnificent self was again replaced by this… blue, white, bright, snowing, ugly.. something. Just compare the dominant colours of the classic Login Screen and this.. abomination – warm, welcoming and friendly colours in contrast to a white, blue, cold and alienating palette.

I understand that WOTLK is played out in Northrend. I understand that Northrend has stuff like Icecrown and snow. And chains, damn them. I understand that the Lich King has a frostwyrm that invades and totally destroys your less-than tranquil Login music every minute with a horrendous BAAARFF sound. I understand that there is no portal in WOTLK that invites you through to the wonderous land of the Warcraft Universe. And wrongly so, if anything there should be a door you step through when logging in. I understand that few if any MMOs has had the original Login Screen through its lifetime and it’s natural for MMO’s to evolve and their Login Screens updated to reflect advancement and time moving on and whatnot. It’s not like I’m just nostalgic for Vanilla WoW. Or that it wouldn’t take Blizzard a huuuuge amount of dedicated developer time to make a small check box that sets your Login Screen to your preferred style.

Bah, I just want my white swirling portal back! Go away, dragon…

Prelude to Cataclysm: Gnomeregan retaken!
February 20, 2010, 15:10
Filed under: cataclysm, gnome, thought

Gnomes rejoice! Freshly posted by Boubouille on MMO-Champion comes the jaw-dropping news all gnomes have been waiting for since the start of World of Warcraft: Gnomeregan.. will…. be.. retaken! FOR GNOMEREGAN!!! Ehmm… so yes, Blizzard has finally been gracious enough to listen to us and by the looks of it, recapturing the Gnome city will be part of a world event similar to the Scourge Invasion, setting the stage for Cataclysm. It seems trolls on the Horde side will have a role to play in the event in or around Durotar, which appears to focus on their moving back to Echo isles lead by Vol’jin.

  • Gnomecoming King – You assisted High Tinker Mekkatorque and the Gnomeregan Exiles in the recapture of Gnomeregan’s surface.
  • Gnomecoming Queen – You assisted High Tinker Mekkatorque and the Gnomeregan Exiles in the recapture of Gnomeregan’s surface.

My guess is that players will have to use Motivate to assemble a gnome army that can push the troggs back and drive them from Gnomeregan’s surface. This implies that after securing the upper areas the recap force will fight for the inner parts and lower levels of the city, perhaps eventually even reaching an end boss with tangible epics. All those poor gnome evacuees that have been continually escaping from Gnomeregan for years will now get to have their revenge. Brilliant Tactics and Gnomeregan Overcloak both appear to be used in the fight for the city, maybe even a covert operation of some sort, while Hydrodynamic Flippers and Frogs Away! could play a part in the retaking of Echo Isles on the troll side of the Event.

High-Tinker Mekkatorque will be receiving a new model with an upgraded weapon and badass glasses, this suggests that he will either be spearheading the recap force or could be involved as a quest giver.

Another possibility is that the lower parts of Gnomeregan will stay controlled by the leper-gnomes and act as an instance inside the capital like Ragefire Chasm in Org. In any case I would assume all those siege vehicles the gnomes have been building for years will come in handy. It is even possible that the surface area of Gnomeregan will become a gateway to the underwater parts of the New Azeroth, an underwater connection to the Maelstrom and the surrounding ocean floor. Remember from Blizzcon 2009, there is a whole new underwater tech system coming with Cataclysm that will allow underwater gameplay as if it were on dry land, only with the ocean surrounding you.

As time moves forward and we inch closer to Cataclysm launch, I reckon we are likely to get more and more additions to the game that steer us gradually back to Azeroth, slowly shifting focus away from Northrend and back to the Old World. At this point it is pure speculation but my guess is that if Blizz put all this teaser info in the PTR files, it won’t be long before we get an official announcement about the pre-Cataclym event that will leave us wanting more.

WoW Haiku
February 19, 2010, 11:52
Filed under: philosophical, thought

Haiku: a form of Japanese poetry, spread around the world mainly in the last 100 years.

It is impossible to single out any current style, format, or subject matter as definitive. Some of the more common practices in English include:

  • Use of three lines of up to 17 syllables;
  • Use of a season word (kigo);
  • Use of a cut or kire (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to implicitly compare two images.

From Wikipedia

Another not-really-tanking-related post, but at least some of these are on the subject of tanking.
There was a WoW Haiku ‘thread’ started over at the WoW sub-Reddit and going over some of the entries inspired me to look back on a some earlier Wow-related haikus I have read. When we talk about urban-theme Haiku these days (and most other times when people are looking to compose), it is generally accepted to obey a simple 5/7/5 syllable format and to keep the subject of the poem specific, in this case WoW.  I decided to not give credit here because I’m lazy, but my post-thanks go out to the original authors. So without further ado, here are my favourite finds in no particular order:

Tried to PvP
I am so invincible
When they ignore me

Spell Plate keeps dropping
RNG Wants me to heal
I cry for more stam

Female tanks are rare
We tank as well as the boys
Even in high heels

I love you so dear
when you misdirect to me
Threat spikes are so nice

Random Dungeon Time
Look, a death knight tank in greens
This will end poorly

What is a tank, then?
Invulnerable? No, sir!
We bleed just the same

Don’t look so smug, I
know what you’re thinking, But it
was just a set-back!

Rogue appears behind
You cannot do that while stunned
Winds weep soft sorrow

Hard, dark cavern’s damp
A hunted warrior’s shout
Dead, fell the spider.

Juicy Envelope
Your innards I do await
Ah, auction failed

We began Warsong Gulch
with high hopes and a premade
That was yesterday

Snow is pure and white
Winterspring is beautiful
A Yeti killed me

Tauren are not beasts
Forsaken are not undead
Gnomes are not critters

Hit the ground running,
Die at the flightmaster’s feet…
Bloodsail hat worth it?

Five days straight of WoW
Constipated, I still play
Where did my wife go..



With privilige comes responsibility
February 1, 2010, 13:58
Filed under: advice, PUG, thought

The position of tank

And I don’t mean in-game. In today’s PUG environment the tank is expected to know the instance he’s tanking, to keep agro on everything, and to make the run quick. The “gogogo” mentality that I think originates from a big chunk or players only using the LFD tool to get their 2xFrosts quickly, is so prevailant that even Veneratio has posted advice on how best to speed up the pace of pulling. Not one second wasted, no sir.

Now, tanks are in the position to dictate the speed of clearing an instance but does this mean we are free to use the rest of the party like an extension of our arms, doing what we want at will and expecting 4 other players to adept without a word and like it? Although they may not say a word, in each instance we are running with a party of 5, 3 of which have been sitting in queue for possibly 10-20 minutes. Thus they may rightfully expect a fast run but not at the expense of the healer. Now, I’m not saying that every PUG’s wishes should be the tank’s command, but given his position, one of the best traits of a good tank is that he considers the other 4-24 people he’s working with. We expect all DPS and healers to do their job and assist us in doing ours, we should accept no less from ourselves.