How I quit raiding and learned to enjoy playing World of Warcraft again

January 22, 2013

On my mother’s deathbed I promised her that I would learn to drive, buy my own house, and be happy.

Before Christmas I started adding up the hours required to achieve all the things I wanted to do in 2013.  It became obvious that my weekly World of Warcraft rotation was taking way too much time.  A rough tabulation of activities:

  • Mobile app AH play for 5-10 minutes each workday morning
  • On getting home, relist expired auctions and use daily cooldowns for Alchemy, Enchanting, Inscription, and Tailoring
  • Make buckles, BOE blue weapons and other plate gear/shields for AH sale
  • Sigh in frustration as no one buys my raw gems, cut gems, or metagems
  • Run through the Tillers farm on three-four alts, with Tillers quests on whichever toon just hit 90
  • Run a scenario for VP, run a 5 man if the tank bag appears
  • Bang out the required dailies on my raiding main, getting some mining in en route
  • Hit the AH again
  • Start running LFR for the week, continue running LFR, keep running LFR until I hit VP cap
  • Two three hour sessions of raiding, plus half hour+ of raid prep
  • Hit the AH again
  • Maybe … spend a couple of hours at the weekend levelling an alt
  • Maybe … heal a random Battleground
  • Maybe … do a xmog run of old content with guildies.

So World of Warcraft was easily eating three hours a night of my time, plus more in the weekends.  For what its worth I currently have 1.927 million gold, despite spending over 250,000 gold after the expansion launched.

I was feeling frustrated with guild progression in the current tier (6/6 MV, 3/6 HOF, nothing in TOES).  I was personally finding the fights difficult to execute, every boss was just more fucking mechanics layered on top of new fucking mechanics.  I read a blog where an experienced tank was cackling with glee over how hard and refreshing Vaults was to run.  I hated it.  Almost every damn fight, but especially the first one. I couldn’t believe that was an introductory fight in an introductory tier of raiding.  Watch energy build up, while kiting out of bad stuff, but not so far as to break the chains … hated it.  Will of the Emperor, I’m supposed to know which way to dodge based on how the boss is standing. This is a case where martial arts experience was useless, as I dodged into the blow every single fucking time.  In the end I just gave up, stood still and mitigated the damage as best I could.

Healing was less fun than it used to be. Holy Paladin healing is now based around free heals. The moment you start to use heals that cost mana, the mana bar collapses. I found that using my Guardian required me to keep 40-50% of my mana bar, or else it was a waste of time dropping the guardian because I would go OOM before the 4th or 5th heal went off.  This makes the healing rotation easy, but boring. Holy Shock on cooldown, Holy Light in between  then Word of Glory or Light of Dawn as a finisher.  Repeat, for 6+ minutes.  Through 5.0 and 5.1 I was decidedly behind the Monk and Priest healer on all the metrics that count.  While my raid position was in no danger, I no longer felt awesome as a healer … for progression kills with two healers, it felt like I was healing mainly because I was the worst tank available.

So one morning at work I decided to stop.  After work I still felt good about that call.  Posted to the guild forums. Went on a last raid.

The last thing I expected to happen when I stopped raiding was that I would actually really enjoy playing World of Warcraft again in short one hour bursts.  I no longer log in every day, but when I do I have a good time.  I run one LFR each week, and then play either my Fire Mage, Healer Monk, or Warrior Tank for an hour.  Its fun, and the moment it feels grindy, I stop and log out of the game. When I play the AH, I just do belt buckles, plus junk I found while questing.  One thing I foresee for 5.2, having a legendary metagem will further depress prices in a market saturated with sellers and few buyers.

One bonus of stopping raiding is more time for content creation.  So I am looking forward to more time spent on roleplaying games, boardgames, and the Grand Strategy game for Buckets of Dice.  Plus a few more blog posts here from time to time.

In World of Tanks news, I reached Tier X in the Soviet Tree with an IS-7, which immediately proved frustrating in play. After 50+ matches I’m on a 20% win rate.  Despite being a fast tank, the armour is pitiful and the reload time on the gun is agonizingly slow.  So I am back to concentrating on Soviet TDs, with both the SU-100M1 and SU-152 in play each evening. Of the two I find the SU-152 more fun, the higher mobility of the SU-100M1 does not influence play very often, but its weaker armour and gun does.  The SU-122-44 also gets a run each night, often resulting in a blitz in assault destroyer mode as the game enters endgame – damn its fun sneaking up behind a heavy and one shotting them in the engine.

At the lower tiers the main regular tanks I play with are the H35, which I play like a TD with the Sixth Sense skill, the Renault UE57, KV-1 and last of all, the KV-2 loaded with “electrum rounds” (gold rounds purchased with silver).  I did exceptionally well with the KV-2 in a Tier VI-VIII match last night, managing to get three kills on Tier VIII tanks with the 152mm Howitzer over medium ranges in Redridge by sneaking up through the village and pumping 700+ damage in through side armour or engine covers.  Two weeks back I took the Hetzer out for a rare spin, and drew Highway map and three artillery per side.  Myself and two medium tanks went to town, while seven enemy tanks went to town.  Things looked bad when my two medium escorts were destroyed.  Then three enemy tanks come around the corner one at a time, and I destroyed them one at a time.  I drove up to the corner, spotted an enemy TD around the corner.  I looked at the strategic map – the rest of my team was almost on the enemy flag, having swept the open field clear.  So I hooned around the corner, lost half my health, but was not tracked.  Turned, killed the TD, BOOM, reload, BOUNCE, target medium tank, BOOM, reload, BOUNCE, BOUNCE, target medium tank BOOM, reload, BOUNCE, target medium tank BOOM!  So I ended up with a seven run Reaper Award which was nice.

I am also mucking around in Skyrim again, restarting from the beginning and following the Imperial and Mage story lines.  Same principle as WoW, play in one hour bursts then do something else with my time.  Its pretty, but I miss the MMO aspect of MMO games, no matter how well down the RPG is.

 

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WoW Cataclysm: the Grind

January 2, 2011

The Grind: the period after the level cap when you do the same thing over and over in order to get ready for raiding, whether its farming resources, running instances for gear, or doing daily quests for faction reputation.  So, my impressions of how the grind is going.

Healing
 
Five minute duration of Beacon of Light: every boss fight in a 5 man should be finished in less than 5 minutes (most seem to take 3-4 minutes, a far cry from durations in WotLK where we were down to sub-20 seconds for most and where I think early expansion fight durations where around 2 minutes), its when DPS die early that fight durations extend over 5 minutes.
 
Steady state attrition: minor amounts of damage (10-20k per tick), covered with Holy Light, or Holy Shock.  In a relative sense, incoming damage is often much less than Wrath, often when a tank dies it takes a minute for the boss to wipe the survivors, compared to the 10-20 seconds to do so in Wrath. So its a change from hard and fast to hard and slow damage.
 
Standing in flames: (30k per tick) can be healed, but requires cooldowns, so cannot always be done or done for long periods of time.  On a trash pull it means the healer has to waste a minute after the fight on mana regen.  On a boss fight it means the healer may go OOm before the Boss dies.
 
Tank spike: (30-50k) can be healed, but requires mana inefficient nukes (Flash of Light, or Divine Light).  This may make avoidance more useful than stamina, as a fat mana bar is just a big mana sponge.  Tank hitting zero health is usually mechanic fail, tank pulling too many mobs or pulling too soon or healer incorrect decision on type of heal to use. I seem to start Divine Light casts too often when the Tank is low health, and Flash of Light might be better because its faster.
 
Insta-gib: attacks that do > full health bar, cannot be healed (use SS or Brez), attacks that do 500,000 will not be outgeared until the next expansion (at the earliest).  There are not too many of these, but where they exist, you can’t carry someone who fails on the mechanic.
 
Soulstones are better on tank for learning new fights.  Reason: lack of mana after a healer resurrects, means the fight may be a soft enrage wipe.
 
Mana management: the more things everyone else does right, the easier it is for a Paladin to judge, which makes for less downtime between pulls.  When I have to Always-Be-Casting heals, mana regen stops.  Ability to cope with AoE heals/damage spikes depends on part on ability to maintain stacks of 2-3 holy power for as long as possible (and this is pure RNG, can be 1 stack/18 seconds or a continuous stack for the same period).
 
Brainlock: all the healthbars are orange/red – use Holy Radiance, Lay on Hands or triage (having 1-2 DPS die makes all future healing decisions much simpler for a Paladin).
 
Midline concept: if a health bar is on 50+% mid-fight, that’s okay, as health bars dip below 50% the intensity of healing output needs to be scaled up with bigger/faster heals and cooldowns.

Problem: if holy power is zero and tank health redlines, there are very few options for healing – LoH or 2-3 quick FoLs followed by WoG.
 
Game Economy
 
Far more bottlenecks than in Wrath, which will drive up the cost of raiding, as people can extract rents from sitting on the bottleneck.  Some crafting materials (Dreamcloth, Chaos Orbs) are bind on pickup, so a lot of gear is hard to acquire – you can’t just pick up the materials from the Auction House, you have to find a crafter with them who is willing to sell, and you have to take the price they want or walk away.  Mat sinks for vendor patterns (means patterns currently cost several hundred gold, not 10g, also means people do not acquire all patterns at once, which reduces ability to supply, e.g. I can only craft a few patterns my healadin can use, plus belt buckles).  Higher vendor value for mats, increases minimum price, which increases AH price, and gold lost to AH cut.  Enchants: BIS require raid only mats (not obtainable from 5 mans like in Wrath.
 
Gear Grind
 
Justice Points pile up fast, due to the 4k starting bank after less than ten heroics I am out of main spec JP gear that is a strong/BIS upgrade.  In Wrath  the Tier 7 shoulders took 60 kills to obtain, in Cataclysm the JP Shoulders only take 24 kills to obtain (but not equivalent Tier 11 equivalent, 13 iLevel difference).  So faster grinding, but dual specs means acquiring two sets of gear, and being subject to two sets of RNG for slots that do not have JP purchase options.

Its not that bad really.  If you do all the quests in the levelling zones, you should be able to enter directly into heroics.  By the time you hit exalted with all the dungeon factions, combined with Tol Barad dailies and rewards, you should be more than ready to raid.