Feb 12, 2013

And you thought I was gone...

Not quite. Actually, I've been tying up some loose ends on the four toons I've decided to keep active. The rest of the stable, sadly, will have to be mothballed until some future date.

But also, thanks to a twitter post by Matticus of World of Matticus, I've also received some good advice about blogging, which I was treating as a seriously disorganized activity before. The biggest takeaway? Have a calendar and schedule your updates. Plan out what the next several posts are going to be.

Be looking for some updates in the very near future.

Jan 18, 2013

Chance for drops IS dynamic!

Wow. I have to say I am kinda blown away by a revelation by Bashiok, who is certainly wasting no time in dropping WoW-related bombs since returning from the Diablo 3 team. In a blue post in the official forums responding to perceived flaws in the LFR loot system, he makes one hell of a statement about how the game can, on the fly, improve your odds of getting a drop:

We have tech for quests that increases your chance for a quest item to drop if you haven't gotten one recently, and so that's something we're at least beginning to think about and how that kind of consistency system could translate into things like the LFR.

We'll have to see if they actually use that tech in any way, but Bashiok actually says that they are considering using it to boost loot drops in older tiers of raid content to assist people in reaching the required iLvl. And that would be a hugely welcome change.

Jan 17, 2013

VP gear to get cheaper in 5.2

WoW Insider has a breakdown of the latest patch notes for 5.2, which is currently on the PTR. There is a lot of stuff coming, and a good deal of it is good news for us casuals. Probably the best news is that access to gear purchased with Valor Points is about to become considerably more accessible.

  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.0 has been reduced by 50%.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.1 has been reduced by 25%.

There's plenty more to know about upcoming changes to class mechanics and balance, some welcome changes to transmogrification rules, and more. Check them out!

Jan 16, 2013

LFR for the Casual: you need to put in some time

A recent thread on the EU forums ("Why MoP ruined the game for casual players") garnered some blue posts from CM Draztal. The TL;DR version of the original post is that MoP has taken WoW into a direction where dailies aren't something you could do if you wanted, but something you must do, since that is the only way to get rep with many factions. Those factions, as we all know, are gatekeepers and vendors of epic gear and various patterns for gear and enchantments. No rep? No access to their stuff. Moreover, the dailies are, for many casuals, the primary source of Valor Points, the currency used to purchase said epic gear. But there are now so many dailies and so many factions (with at least three more coming in patch 5.2), that a casual player literally cannot do enough dailies to progress. At least that's the opinion of the Original Poster of the linked thread.

Bullfeathers, says Draztal:
LFR requires you to have ilvl460, which you can get by completing all the Dread Wastes quests, some Townlong Steppes rewards, and if you're still lacking gear for some reason: heroics/scenarios. You don't need to dailies to get in.

Now, that caught my attention. This is the first time I've seen an authoritative source tell me that there is a path to get into the LFR by questing alone. Good news! I have 4 alts in current levels of progress under level 90 in Pandaria, and all of them could use a method of getting LFR-ready that doesn't reply on running the dailies -- again, like I have on my three 90's already.

But, "oops", says Draztal:
As some people have pointed out, you can't reach ilvl 460 in Dread Wastes/Townlong Steppes (and I totally made a mistake in that sense). What I was referring instead, was 5-man heroics. My points stands still, you don't need dailies to gain access to the LFR, and chain running 5-man heroics will be faster too since you don't need a 463 item on every slot to access LFR, but you won't get it either just with Dread Wastes/Townlong exclusively :)

Easy come, easy go... Now, to Draz, I will say that claiming you were "referring" to chain-running 5-man heroics when you said you could get LFR-ready "by completing all the Dread Wastes quests", well... Let's just say you must have a creative way of equating those two.

But for us casuals, it still means you're going to have to drop coin in the AH, craft some gear yourself, or pray to the gods of the RNG in scenarios in order to get to that ilvl 460 you need for LFR.

Jan 14, 2013

A Casual Roadmap

So I'm in the process of writing two future posts, and Blogger is giving me fits for what should be routine actions. I'm getting them worked out, but in the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about my plans for upcoming posts.

  • The Casual Raider: Gearing. How do you get geared enough to go into the LFR? I'll look at a couple of strategies, including how to get there without setting foot in a heroic instance.
  • Game within the Game. There's an emphasis on raiding in the game, but there's plenty to do that goes nowhere near a raid boss. We'll do an overview, with pointers on how to get started in one or more.
  • Casually Rich. Stuff costs. Good stuff costs lots. How do you get gold without making the auction house the focus of your game?
  • Dressed to Kill. Transmog can make those mismatched greens and blues look like a million gold. There are tons of transmog sites to help you plan and then acquire pieces to complete your look.

Hit Cap and the Casual

Whoa, dude! Chill!!
askmrrobot.com understands...
Everybody knows it. Well, almost everybody. OK, maybe only some of us. ALL RIGHT, only the ones who are obsessed with numbers!!

"Caps" are values that have been determined to be necessary to avoid some negative effect to your performance. There are cap values for many traits, but the caps for Hit and Expertise are the ones that affect every class since Mists came out, but I'm going to focus on Hit

See this is where it gets interesting for the casual. Almost all of the information on the net about hit caps is based around the idea that you're going to be raiding, and that you're trying to hit a level 93 raid boss. But if you don't raid, you are never going to see a target at that level apart from the Boss-level training dummy. So how much hit do you really need? What is the cap for the casual player?

Looking for information for this post, I was very surprised at how hard it is to answer that question completely, without having to involve a lot of math. Wowpedia.org had probably the best table of information on required Hit, but it was specifically aimed at spellcasters.

Note that the table is split into 2 rows: the top one is where you get a 1% hit bonus, and the bottom one is where you don't. (The Notes section tells you what circumstances get you that bonus.) The take-away for us casuals is: you need enough Hit rating to hit whatever you're planning to hit. Is that a raid boss in LFR? Then you need enough to hit a level 93 mob. How about just a 5-man heroic? Well, bosses in 5-mans are level 92. Scenario "bosses" are just 90-Elites.

Here's how that translates for melee types at level 90:

So in a nutshell: whatever your activity is, you can be comfortable if you're close to the required hit rating for the maximum level of mob you expect to face. How close is close? Well, consider this: if you are .50% below the cap for a given target, according to probability, you will miss your target .5% of the time. Or, in real terms: 50 misses per 10,000 swings. Now if that doesn't make you be more relaxed about getting to the cap, I don't know what will!

Jan 11, 2013

Myth-conceptions about Casuals

Part of the problem casuals have is that there is a perception about what they are that is wholly removed from the reality of what they are. Unfortunately, that's the just the way it is, and it's human nature to put stock in such myth-conceptions, until it is proven to them otherwise. As a casual, you are fighting against not only those myths, but also against the impressions that have been left in the minds of those you meet by the complete doofuses that are all too common in the game. Yes, you're suffering the consequences of there being other casuals in the game who don't know how to play and aren't interested in learning. All we can do is try to show people that we're not all like that.

Before you can solve a problem, though, you have to understand the problem. You have to know its scope. Here are some myths that I'm aware of and have had to personally deal with. The list isn't exhaustive, but it'll give you an idea of what not to do.

Myth: Casuals want everything given to them for nothing.
The reality is that casuals aren't any more (or less) susceptible to wanting something for nothing than anyone else. The perception, however, is based on something that is quite true: we aren't willing to put in 30 hours/week in the game, and at least some significant portion of that spent in rather intensive activities like raiding heroic modes. The solution here is a two-parter. First, recognize that more intense effort in the game provides opportunities for more/better/cooler cash and prizes than less intense effort. That just means that, as a casual player, your odds of rocking a full set of current tier gear has been practically nil since way back in Wrath (Tier 9 was something you could get using points earned solely by running 5-man heroics). Accepting that will allow you to do the second part, which is to not complain, in the game or in the forums, about not being able to have the coolest, most powerful gear. The bottom line is that if you want all that top-tier bling, you should have to work for it. If you (like me) are unwilling to pay the price, you don't get to have the big glowy shoulders. If you have an opportunity to express your understanding of this fact, it will go a long way in dispelling the myth, at least as far as you're concerned. Sadly, that's the best we're going to be able to do, given how many folks are out there still clamoring at Blizz to make it so raid gear can be bought off the wrack for doing dailies.

Myth: Casuals aren't reliable.
Casuals generally don't commit to a raid schedule. We like to play when we want, for as long as we want, preserving the ability to stop what we're doing and get out of the chair to deal with something non-WoW-related, like the kids. Pets, too. Spousal-unit, maybe. This is where the perception of unreliability comes from: the idea that we might up and logoff at any moment when the whim strikes us. Most of the casuals I know don't do this, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who do bail without warning. The solution here is to develop a reputation for reliability, if you do anything group-related at all. Don't bail at the first sign of something going wrong. Even in a scenario, going AFK and letting others carry you is a dick move, so don't do it. Now, if you mostly play the game solo, or only with a couple guildies, you're not going to do much about the "unreliable" label. Just be aware it exists, and is believed by many.

Myth: Casuals aren't interested in playing the game right.

Myth: Casuals refuse to learn better ways of doing things.

After originally planning to write about these separately, I realized that they're just so integrated they have to be taken together.

The perception that casuals are bad players, aren't interested in playing it right, and won't learn from more skilled players is probably at the very heart of why the "casuals" is spit like an insult by those who play the game more intensely. Of course, it's a fallacy. Many of us casuals are former hardcore players whose main toons still bear the scars of weeks wiping to bosses, of late nights and more than a few "tense" Ventrilo conversations. (Thankfully, none that I experienced were ever as bad as the storied Onyxia Wipe.) We know very well how to play the class(es) we bring out, and are always willing to learn better ways to do things. It's just that the motive is very different.

Casuals tend to seek improvement in their ability/gear/rotation/spec so that we can be even more casual! If we can kill things faster, take less damage, have more health, it means we can take an even more relaxed stance when out playing the game.

For this reason, and the fact that you should really try to avoid doing something that reinforces the myths, take the opportunity to learn from other players to improve your own gameplay. You'll enjoy it more if you're struggling less.