The entirely hideous challenge armor set

Look at this:

This is the sandwich board advertisement for transmogrification known as the Challenge Armor Set, to be released soon by Blizzard.

Where does one begin? Well, forget the ridiculous shoulders, dumb hat, inexplicable face, and gaudy robe for a second. Instead: Someone tell me why there is a bulging eye over the crotch.

It's a symbol of wizardry. Is its location supposed to have meaning, or was it put there purely as an aesthetic choice? Neither option makes sense. And I assume it's not there to indicate that magic comes from genitalia. Is it?

And did you see the three electric pinecones jutting out from the crotch eye? 

Who would choose to wear gaudy crotch pinecones? And why? I mean, outside of a bet, dare, or community service in a carnival?

No. This set is wrong

Victory over Nefarian

Last night, our guild finally defeated Nefarian! It was a tough fight for us. We'd had a few aborted attempts before (I think this was our fourth or fifth night?), but were hampered by folks who weren't up to the task, as they'd just returned to WoW after time enough away to forget how to do things. It's not a horrifically difficult fight, but one does need to be current with one's character.

Last night's effort took 11 attempts (data based on the number of Seafood Magnifiques I had left). Varied tactics were tried and we made progress each time—except for I think about four attempts where someone/thing screwed up and we decided to wipe immediately.

My task was to kite the skeletons in phase one and interrupt the blast nova in phase two. A mistake I made early on was putting too much damage on the skeletons, as they took too long to die. And one fight I just could not get their attention away from another person. Frustrating. The other times went smoothly enough, plus or minus. Having a hunter freeze trap in the center of the room was helpful.

Anyway, we got 'im down and the last attempt went pretty smoothly!

I forgot to snap a pic, so here's one from the internets!

Image courtesy WoWHead

Leveling before MoP

There are new panther mounts made out of jewels (see them in action in a previous post).

Regarding that, this post from Blizzard:

These will be Jewelcrafter recipes and we're not actually completely decided on whether there will be a recipe for each colour, or whether the creation of one will produce one of the four colours at random. 

As I think you already know, the black one will be a little different. It's a flying mount and it'll be created by combining the other four mount colours together. 

We're estimating that the cost of creating these mounts will be very expensive. ;)

So, that's why I'm leveling Abvilsk, my shaman jewelcrafter. Not so much to make money from making mounts for others (though I suppose that may be possible? Or providing materials for others?) but the primary reason is I want every one of those mounts. By which I mean, I don't just want the black one, but the black one plus the each of the other colors.

I figure the best way to effect that plan is to be a jewelcrafter.

As a bonus, I'm learning about shamans and being melee DPS!

The mounts of Mists of Pandaria

These mounts are fantastic. I love them all. Panther, turtle, crane, yak, water walker. All of the super cool, and I want each and every one of them! For all my characters!

Have a look-see...

Despite the fact that I have the Mountain of Mounts achievement, I'm still avidly collecting mounts. And now, with MoP, this behavior will only more rabidly increase since the mounts are OMG cool!

In fact, it was all my mounts that prompted me to get into addons again. (That, and the fact that my new shiny has more RAM than the OS can address means I have plenty of room for addons now.) I installed the GoGo Mount addon, which I adore.

All it does is randomize which mount comes up when you issue a Mount command. Plus it knows whether you can only summon a non-flying mount, and you can pick favorite mount(s) for specific zones. Quite keen.

Using it has reminded me of mounts I've long since forgotten, and that's no way to be!

MoP + GoGo Mount = awesome.

Why I dislike PvP

I stumbled across this forum comment. Since I can't link to specific posts, I'll just quote it here verbatum. 

Point one is terribly wrong, I think. I know people who PvP and they're very nice. kaelspriest must've had too many bad experiences.

Anyway, the other points are closer to the correct side of the circle than outside it...

kaelspriest Apr 3rd 2012 3:20PM

I don't like PvP.

1) I don't like the culture of hostility. My experience of people who like to PvP, overall, is that they are *jerks.* Not all of them. Perhaps not even a majority are actively jerkish, although most seem to tolerate it. But it's enough to completely ruin my experience in battlegrounds and on PvP servers. And I'm not talking about the opposing faction - I'm talking about *my own side.* The sheer volume of viciously insulting chat in PvP areas is enough to make me never want to do it.

2) I'm gay. I don't like being called a f*g/got. Or a p*ssy. I don't like being called gay as if that's a bad thing. I don't like being called a girl as if that's a bad thing. I'm also extremely upset by the n-word and other racist language just on principle. And the PvP community is full of all of that - not just in the jerkish behaviour I covered in (1) but also just thrown around casually. I'm not all that thin-skinned about it - I actually enjoy interacting in trade chat, because even though there are some people who troll with derogatory language, there are also a lot of decent, intelligent people who will call it out. But that balance isn't present in PvP environments.

3) I'm primarily a healer. I like healing. I do not like being CCd. I do not like CCing. I do not like being interrupted. I do not like spending time trying to avoid being interrupted. It is impossible to simply go into an organized PvP environment and do what I like to do - I spend ~80% of my time doing things I don't like to do.

4) I don't always want to fight. I don't even particularly want to fight NPCs most of the time - I'm a champion at avoiding combat (probably because I'm a healer). When I want to do something, I want to do it, not fight someone/something else for the opportunity to do it. People who want to encourage open world PvP seem to operate under the assumption that everyone should want to fight, all the time, and should be willing to endure all manner of inconvenience (see: removal of HGWT, no flying until 90) in order to arrange it so that everyone is in a position to be forcibly engaged in PvP combat at any time.

5) I like being able to talk to the people I'm playing with. All of them.

6) I think PvP is bad for the game. It limits possibilities for everything from class balance (shamans can't be buffed because it would make them more OP in PvP!) to travel technologies (we can't have HGWT or flying because it's bad for world PvP!!)

7) I don't think MMOs are the right platform for PvP competition. MMO PvP is inherently, permanently unfair, and the more depth there is to a game's PvE gameplay, the less balanced it can be for PvP. Strategy games (Starcraft II rocks!) and shooters are much better PvP platforms, and I wish people who wanted to PvP seriously would go play games that are actually suited for it.

I especially agree with number six. PvP ruins things for the rest of us because it demands that all classes be balanced in ways that they wouldn't otherwise need to be. Because of PvP, everything needs to be reigned in.

 

Frostweaving

Do you need an infinite amount of Frostweave Cloth? Do you have a high-level character with a AoE attack? Yes? You're in business!

Teleport to Dalaran, then fly north to Icecrown at 70,61. Land at that spot and begin AoEing! You want the Vicious Geists, as they carry the Frostweave. If you can tag a couple vicious geists on the periphery and get them to come to you without your moving, so much the better!

Stand in one place and the geists will come to you! It's like pressing a button and having Frostweave Cloth just tumble into your bags.

Using this method, one may acquire a stack of Frostweave Cloth in five minutes, I kid you not. Or three in 15 minutes!

Ironman Challenge!

Yes, I think I just might do this. What is the WarCraft Ironman Challenge? It's an informal challenge to yourself, if you follow these rules:

Level from 1-85 using the rules below.
  1. Only White or Grey gear. No Heirlooms of any kind.
  2. No transfer of gear, items, or money from any other character (yours or others).
  3. No gear enhancements, including gems, enchanting, and reforging. Class abilities are allowed (eg. Rogue poisons, Shaman imbues).
  4. No specialization, talent points, or glyphs. No pet talent points.
  5. No professions or secondary skills, except for First Aid.
  6. No potions, flasks, or elixirs except for required quest items.
  7. No food buffs or other external buffs (including buffs from items and other players).
  8. No groups or assistance from other characters, even if not grouped.
  9. No dungeons, raids, battlegrounds, or arenas.
  10. No guilds, except for level 1 guilds created specifically for the Ironman Challenge.
  11. No Refer-A-Friend.
  12. No addons which assist in combat and/or leveling (eg. leveling guides, Ovale).
  13. THE BIG ONE: No deaths. Character death for any reason disqualifies the character
The following are allowed:
  • All class abilities, racials, and personal buffs.
  • All mounts, bags, and non-combat pets.
  • All quests, including holiday events and dailies (unless prohibited by some other rule, eg. Fishing and Cooking dailies).

I tried this with an undead hunter (of course a hunter). Undead because that way I wouldn't be tempted to get help from my guild. And the only people who'd even know I was there would be RealID friends. Yay!

Unfortunately, I got 'er to level four before being killed—by being distracted by texting someone about the Ironman Challenge. Ah, irony. So, I deleted that character.

Then I rolled a blood elf hunter and...wait a minute...

If I really wanted to Ironman it out, what I should do is roll a mage! Since you can't pick talents you can't get a water elemental or anyone to tank. And there's no self-heal! No nothing! Hmm. Maybe. OR a rogue, on account I don't know rogues. 

Anyway, I'm totally down with this fun diversion!

Roles

There's been some discussion recently on the Blizzard forums, WoW Insider, and Twitter about class roles. 

The point that most concerns me about roles is this: "Hybrid tax."

Here's my definition of it: The hybrid tax means that if you play a hybrid class (one able to peform multiple roles), you give up a degree of effectiveness at a particular role in exchange for being able to perform another role. For example, a paladin's DPS would be "taxed" and not be as good as a rogue's, because the paladin is a hybrid class: able to DPS, heal, and tank, whereas the rogue can only DPS. To make up for this discrepancy in available roles (and thus utility in the game at large), the paladin's DPS is artificially suppressed, or the rogue's is boosted, depending on your perspective, to ensure the rogue has a place, a reason to be brought along.

They're both melee classes, and they're both operating in the DPS role. What's the difference? It's that if the paladin and rogue are both able to perform as well in the same role, there's "no reason" for someone to pick rogue, they might as well pick paladin and be able to do more than one thing and be invited to more things.

Why relegate yourself to just one thing and not get invited if you don't have to? The why is the benefit of the tax—you get more out of your role by being dedicated at it. Pick a rogue over a paladin because the rogue will do better at his role, DPSing.

I support the hybrid tax because of how things are now.

I would prefer that every class be able to perform multiple roles. Everyone should be hybrid, no one should be dedicated. This would eliminate the tax altogether and everything would be hunky-dory, leaving us to quibble over whether druids or priests should heal better, or whether melee or ranged should have higher DPS.

You know, the important topics.

But that's not how things are. Instead, there are classes that are only able to perform one role. Nearest to my heart is of course the mage, who can only DPS. Others include the hunter, rogue, and warlock who, also, can only DPS.

While it's not unfair that these classes cannot also perform other roles, I think the game would be better if they could. I would love to explore being able to heal with my mage (one explanation I like is that mages would heal by turning back time on people to a point before they were injured, using chronomancy spells—a theme that's already going to be supported when Mists of Pandaria releases that includes chronomancy talents).

Role

I think it's critical to clarify what a "role" is and isn't, and thus whether your character is a hybrid class or not. There's a simple test:

If you have the option to select more than one role in the dungeon finder, your character is a hybrid class.

That's pretty much it right there. I believe that being able to perform a limited function in a particular battle does not constitute a role. For example, being able to stun someone in combat, or remove oneself from danger, is not a role. It can be a valuable trick, and depending on the fight and the makeup of the group it can be just about vital, depending on how things shake out in that situation. Again using mages as an example, being able to cast Polymorph is not a role because not only is it only rarely used it's not usable all the time, even if it was called upon.

Tricks during particular fights is far too limited a scope to rise to the level of importance as an entire class role. 

What do I want?

I want multiple roles for everyone, for every class to have the opportunity to do more than one thing so the idea of a hybrid tax is ridiculous. Warlocks should DPS and use their demons to tank. Same as with hunters. Mages should DPS and heal, as described. There's no reason to expand even on that, having mages tank by summoning elementals, or warlocks heal by transfusing demon-boosted blood.

Is the hybrid tax unfair? I think it is to those who have to pay it. I think it's not to those who get the benefit from it—but would be if it was taken away. It's a question of where the unfairness should be placed: onto the classes that have choice or the classes that don't?

Right now, it's on the classes that have choice, and I think that's where the unfairness has to be, given how things are. The hybrid classes are rich enough to pay the tax. The beneficiaries are too poor.

The best solution is to not have the unfairness in the first place. Hybridize all classes. Allow multiple roles for everyone.

Moggin' it!

Transmogrification is the best thing ever—second only to armor dyes, which WoW doesn't have.

In lieu of dyes, we can search for things to transmogrify our things into and out of. But to do that requires an unspeakably vast knowledge of the gear in WoW—or a handy-dandy site to help you find a medium-length purple cloak with a gold border.

I found some!

World of Wardrobes

This was the first one I found and it still remains my favorite go-to place. Good, simple, interface that gets the job done. It has a great index of everything I've looked for in terms of clothing, and more. Plus the creator is on Twitter and is very nice!

WoW Roleplay Gear

Next up is a good site for displaying sets of clothes. I perused this site quite a bit, just going on a general tour looking at what all's available and looking for ideas. It was the first place I saw an occupation category and that's pretty clever. It's a good guide, and a good source for ideas.

 

Go Mog Yourself

This site doesn't have a grand guide to all possible items but instead profiles a specific outfit and tells you how to go about getting those specific pieces. I like this site because it's nice to see what people are doing when they mix and match various items to create their own look.

 

Disenchanting Azeroth

This site has a wonderful resource: A guide to all weapons. If you're looking for the perfect staff to go with your outfit, or sword, or whatnot, you simply must go here. For example, take a look at this image:
 

Pretty cool, right? And on the site are instructions for how to get to each one. I also love how they're organized according to how many similar models there are of each item. There are lots of staves like those in the lower right, but there's only one specific staff for those on the upper tier. Handy if you want to ensure your character's look is rare or unique.

 

Wowhead Transmogrification Tool

Last—but certainly not least—is Wowhead's tool that is quite keen. It begins with a basic set of items then you can filter that selection to quickly find just what you need. A very handy starting off point and it's easy to use. You definitely want to give it a whirl.

The Tier Problem

So the guild I'm in is going to give a shot at raiding again, using the Looking For Raids tool to fill out the roster.

To this end, I'm thinking, yet again again, of re-re-activating Abkani, my dwarf paladin (and my original main). Well, I can't do that without going out and about in a proper set of clothes, don't you agree? With transmogrification there's really no excuse for dressing like a clown. Plus, soloing something to get tier gear would help me learn the new (to me) paladin abilities.

But which set to choose?

Tier 1 Lawbringer

The infamous "banana shoulders." Pass.

Tier 2 Judgement

This is the set everyone's ga-ga over. It's fine, I love the shoulders, but aside from the fact that this is everyone's choice, the helmet is also a hood which completely obscuring the face. I don't like that.

Tier 2.5 Avengers

Are you serious with this?

Tier 4 Justicar

Potential. It's nice, symmetrical, isn't gaudy, shows the face, and best of all: has purple. Strong contender, but let's not choose yet...

Tier 5 Crystalforge

Lots of purple, which is good. Not quite gaudy, also good. But, the helm completely covers the face. Pass. Also, the boots are just a bit too poofy/goofy for me.

Tier 6 Lightbringer

I like it. It's gold, has an unusual, distinctive, and unobtrusive helm. Would need a good-looking weapon to accompany it, though.

Tier 7, 7.5 Redemption

No.

Tier 8, 8.5 Aegis

I like the shoulders because they're unusual and look like they animate. The rest is a little busy though. But there's the helm, with its face-obscuring disqualifier.

Tier 9 Turalyon's

I like it. The shoulders are almost too much, but not quite. Wait...what's that on his legs? Fur? No. I'm a paladin, not some barbarian from the northern wastes.

Tier 9 Liadrin's

Looks good. I like the exposed skin and the color scheme works. There's that helmet problem again, though.

Tier 10, 10.5 Lightsworn

The helmet looks like an English bobby's hat. Pass.

Tier 11 Sapphirum

Hmm. I like the idea of the crystal-heavy motif—it goes well with the idea of dwarves and mining. The colors are good, and the helm makes sense (it doesn't obscure the whole face). Strong contender #2!

Tier 11 Heroic Sapphirium

It has purple, which is always a big plus. But the other colors...I dunno. Just don't do it for me.

Tier 12 Immolation

Ye gods, no.

Tier 13 Harvey Birdman, Attourney at Law

The helmet is utterly goofy yet has a strange appeal. The thunder thighs don't quite do it for me. And the shoulders are...I dunno. Pass.

So...which one?

Lightbringer, I think. By a hair!

I guess the only question now is: can my pally solo Black Temple?

 

Forest Reaction

In the dev watercooler post "Seeing the Forest for the Talent Trees," Ghostcrawler had a few interesting things to say about the new talent tree scheme in Mists.

Let's get to 'em, eh?

In the case of the old trees, choosing the talent you want from among the talents that don’t interest you isn’t an interesting decision -- it's a multiple choice test, and an easy one at that.

'Multiple choice test' is an exellent analogy, and I agree. 

Look, we tried the talent tree model for seven years. We think it’s fundamentally flawed and unfixable.

Whoa! Quite the statement, I must say. And...I'm inclined to agree. Is it causing more problems than it's solving? Not really, but it has so many problems that, yes, something radically different should be tried, if possible.

Finally, the reality is that for many players, WoW has become a game focused on max level. Back in the day, leveling a fleet of alts was really compelling gameplay, but for many of the old-timers, there just isn’t a ton of interest in making a second mage or whatever. 

This is true. I would like very much to spend all my time in my main. Achievements, pets, and other rewards is one factor keeping me from playing my other characters. (I like having a wide variety of pets to choose from—if only I could have the same selection for all my characters...)

The players in question fully admit that they don't experiment to find the best build. 

I abhor "better-than-n00bs" malarky. But this sentence is salient because while I would love to experiment with a different build, I just know that I'd be criticized for having too-low DPS, or some such.

As long as there are cookie cutter builds, there will be a lack of individuality—it doesn't matter how many or few talents there are to choose from. The, perhaps insurmountable, problem for Blizzard to solve is to develop a system that rewards leveling and acquiring personal power that doesn't boil down to numbers on a spreadsheet and "choices" everyone has to make to be invited to a raid.

It's a tough nut to crack.

But knowing how to Google "4.3 Shadow spec" doesn't automatically make you a better player.

Heh. Word.

We are also taking some steps with Mists to encourage more crossover between PvP and PvE as the game once had, so even if you don’t care for PvP now, maybe we can get you interested in the future.

As I sit here, I have no idea what that could possibly be. As I've noted before, I have a strenuous dislike for PvP. What would get me to PvP? Well, it's not in-game rewards. I just adore the coloring of the mount reward from Long Strange Journey but that achievement requires (what for me is) quite a bit of PvPing. And, I adore mounts. I'm not a super-fan of the drake model, but that color plus mount equals instant love.

If neither love nor mount will persuade me, what's left? I really don't know.

When players use their full toolbox of abilities intelligently, they tend to feel good about their character and the game. But it is our responsibility to engineer more of those situations into the world.

Yes. This.

What we have concluded is that many players want to choose their spec based on flavor (“I want to be the mage who uses Frost magic”)

It's like he's talking about me!

In Mists, we want players to have even more flexibility about which character they want to play. Asking a player to swap from damage to tanking for a couple of fights is acceptable to us.

I'm all for it. Either make single-role classes the best at the one thing they do—or allow them to do more things.

I'm fine with having the option, like in Rift, of having one class fill multiple roles. I could tank as a mage by conjuring magical armor around myself, say. Or healing by simply casting healing spells instead of damaging ones (or the same spell that either heals a friend or damages an enemy—that would be pretty neat, eh?).

I'm a mage not because of the DPS role, I'm a mage because I like wizards, books, spells, magic, all that kind of thing. Its role is neither here nor there—as far as my flavor for playing it is concerned. If I could choose to encase myself in thick layers of ice so as to tank, so much the better!

Arcane is about mana management and clearing Arcane Blast stacks.

Um, no, it's not. Demonstrably not. In none of the fights in the Firelands last night did I hardly have to give a consideration to running out of mana.

Is that what he means by mana management? As a major aspect of the spec? I, uh, hope not...

 

Magister's! It's here!

Abethany in StormwindBehold! The brand-new look for Abethany—her complete Magister's set!

I'm so super very happy I can't hardly even say! She's clad head-to-toe in Magister's.

Her weapon is The Headless Horseman's Baleful Blade because it has just a delightful glow, don't you think? Also, it's a plain sword at its core, which is something I was after. Mages shouldn't carry overly fancy swords, I think. Also, there's some filagree at the base of the sword which somewhat matches the pattern of the Magister's robe.

I attempted to use Dalaran Sword, because it's a classic sword—but with purple in it—and also because that's the town Abethany calls home, but the transmogrification process wouldn't let me.

Her off hand is the Chronicle of Dark Secrets. Don't you just want to open it up to see what secrets it hides?

It's altogether a rather smashing outfit, don't you think?

All 'n' all, I'm very quite super happy with transmogrification. It's the thing I was most looking forward to in Patch 4.3!

And where have YOU been all this time?

We were all night elves once…It's Chromie!

No, wait, it's Abethany! Yaay! Yes, I'm back with an all-new edition (yet again) of everyone's (my) favorite WoW-related blog, Spell Rotation. Why is it here? Because I needed to consolidate my blogs a bit. Having them in multiple places was getting on my nerves.

There shouldn't be anything too terrifically different than what you're used to—other than a much prettier, cleaner, and easier interface and design with which to navigate Spell Rotation.

So thanks for coming and I hope you have fun!