Shamus Plays: WoW #11: What? More Work?

By Shamus
on Jan 5, 2011
Filed under:
Column

This is our last episode in Elwynn forest.

I’m really missing the “cosmetic apparel” feature of Lord of the Rings Online. In that game, you could control your appearance independently of your actual equipped gear. So, I could have Lulzy maintain a consistent look, even though she was constantly changing gear in the low-level areas of the game. It made it easy to keep her distinctive (to the reader) look without gimping myself with old gear.

World of Warcraft doesn’t have that feature. This is one of the reasons I decided to play a character in a robe. He’s still wearing the same robe he had at level 1, but underneath I’ve been able to replace everything else, several times over. This isn’t a big deal in the early stages of the game, but as you go up in level you need better gear – the game is balanced with the expectation that you will be wearing the appropriate stat-boosting equipment.

The stat-boosting stuff actually annoys me a bit. Like any character-building player, I love upgrading gear. But World of Warcraft does a horrible job at teaching you how to do it right or telling you what you need to know in order to make an informed decision. Check out the stats on my hunter:


wow_shadowless2.jpg

On the right we have Damage, DPS, and attack power. Then we have both Speed and Haste. Then we have Hit Chance and Crit Chance. Note that I’m level 62 and the game has never even directed me to look at these numbers. It’s never explained what stats are important for my character or how they interact. (Except when I created the character, and it suggested agility was important.) Should I just stack agility? Is there a system of diminishing returns? What other stats are worthwhile? This armor has ten times the defensive rating, but one point less agility, but I have no way of weighing either of those numbers to know what I’m really getting.

A good system is clear and understandable right away, but will reveal interesting trade-offs once you get to know it. (Diablo 2)

A boring system is straightforward and there is always a single, optimal answer. (Most BioWare games, at least until they abandoned gear-hoarding altogether.)

A bad system is one where you have no idea what decision you’re making and you have to do a bunch of homework and run a spreadsheet before you can know which hat you should wear.

A horrible system is one where you have to read the wiki just to know what options you should be researching. A system where you have over twenty attributes and most of them are synonyms. A system where you can read the wiki, a forum thread, and a leveling guide, and still not really have any idea what you’re doing because nobody agrees on how the stats work, which ones might be bugged, or if all of their calculations were made obsolete by the latest patch.

I don’t need absolute perfection or maximum power. I’m not trying for the most optimal build in the world. But the game is constantly presenting me with choices I don’t understand. Last night I got my first socketed item. The game made no effort whatsoever to explain it to me. “Hey, here is a totally new gameplay mechanic. No, we won’t explain it to you. No, don’t bother looking in the knowledge base. Or the website. Maybe some other users have studied this and maybe they put it on the web and maybe it’s not out of date and maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for after skimming through a half-dozen ‘Pro Guides’ that are 90% ads and scams.”

Ugh. This could be done better, is what I’m saying.

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  1. RCTrucker7 says:

    I no longer play WOW, but when I did, this was one of the top 5 things that annoyed me, as well as my friends I’m sure, as I would constantly be asking them questions like the ones you posed.

  2. Conlaen says:

    Well, I wouldn’t say the system is horrible. I think the game does explain about the effects of the stats and diminishing returns when you hover over your characters stats. But yeh, I do tend to make a spreadsheet to make a bit of a planning to see what is best to get.

    So maybe just bad in stead of horrible is all I’m sayin’.

  3. DougO says:

    While I’ve not played in a while, Cata is supposed to have addressed this by emphasizing 4 distinct stats and chucking most of the other fluff. Did they not?

    • Hitch says:

      It was supposed to. They did in fact streamline things a bit, but they’re still about 3 Cataclysms from a truly elegant and understandable system of gear stats.

      Of course, before they got to that point, they’d throw in a couple more layers of cruft and be right back where they started from. Most of this comes from trying to create a competitive “e-Sport” platform. They seem unwilling to accept that PvP will never be a fair and balanced part of the game. Any game where you can boost your stats with gear, enchantments, temporary bonuses from potions etc. will never have a level playing field. Especially not with 10 classes and a dozen different races with varying racial bonuses. Blizzard should give up and just announce that it’ll never be fair and balanced in everyone’s opinion and they’re going to quit trying. I feel sure that any loss of customers among the dedicated PvPers would be easily made up for by a devoting the efforts that currently go into PvP balance on PvE content.

      • kmc says:

        Gahh, I have hated this so much! I spent most of my leveling time on my main knowing close to nothing about stats, and, looking back, that probably goes a fair way to explaining why I had such a hard time. That and I was playing one of the most gimped specs in the history of WoW. Not that that would’ve made me switch…
        And Hitch, you totally made me lol with your “3 Cataclysms”. It’s true, that’s about what it would take–with all the huge improvements they’ve made in Cata, the stat changes are paltry in comparison. They’ve got a long way to go before it makes sense.
        They need to do like LotRO, btw, and have at least three equipment slots–one for appearance items and one for each spec. It’s not too much to ask…

        • Aldowyn says:

          Actually. LotRO has two cosmetic outfits and the ones you are actually using. You’d have to switch out your actual equipment manually to change stats.

          Also, I have issues with any game that has specific builds that are best – where an approximation is much worse than the specific. LotRO makes this easy by making player-crafted stuff awesome and not having that much stat customization. Everyone gets the same skills, the only difference is how you choose to use them. (Plus a couple of bonuses you can choose, but that’s not THAT big of a customization)

        • Adam says:

          You really don’t now and never did need to know anything about stats while leveling. You could go all the way just taking whatever quest rewards were of the right armor or weapon type and seemed vaguely related to your character. The 5% min-maxing doesn’t matter until you’re raiding or PvPing.

          A bad spec, though, would fuck you over. Cataclysm pretty much fixed that by making it damn near impossible to spec badly (again, for leveling) but it was messier in vanilla.

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

            What does “the right armor or weapon type” and “related to your character” mean in this context? Cloth-based armor and staves for casters? Or the correct stat boosting for the class? If the latter, wasn’t the issue that you can’t tell what is best for you character?

            Although that’s kind of aside the real issue, which is that apparently leveling doesn’t in anyway prepare players for raiding or PvP. And I got the impression that those are the best parts of WoW and the reason why everyone is supposed to just bear the grinding and bad starting areas.

            What’s the point in having long leveling time if it’s not related to any of the endgame actions and only serves to give the wrong impression? Why not just force one playthrough of sub-raid levels and then have every character from that account automatically start at the raid levels?

            Also I call BS on “impossible to spec badly”. I keep hearing stuff like that about games, but in reality it’s always said by people who have a good handle on what’s important and what’s not and therefore avoid newbie pitfalls instinctively. When you’re actually leveling for the first time and don’t really know what’s actually important and how much 1 point in something matters, you’re going to make choices that will turn leveling from “breeze” to “pain”.

            • The Naked Emperor says:

              Except it really is impossible to screw yourself over. When you hit level ten you’re locked into one talent tree until you’ve spent 31 points in it and you’re given one key ability with a couple passive bonuses. Each tier in a talent tree requires you to spend 5 points before you can move on to the next one, meaning that you’re guaranteed to pick up something useful along the way. You could go for every utility talent as a DPS or every damage talent as a tank and still be able to fulfill your role prior to the higher levels.

              Pre-level 60 is less about stats and gear as much as it is the basics of combat and how the different roles coordinate with one another. If you run instances you’ll get a feel for the flow of the game fairly quickly and that knowledge will help even if some aspects (like crowd control) don’t come into play until much later.

              Gear, stats, you can get all that set up with a quick trip to Elitist Jerks and/or the forums. (There are usually stickies for each class so you don’t have to delve deep into the cesspool for answers.) The basics are something you only learn through experience and the Cata quests and dungeons make an admirable attempt to educate new players. It’s not perfect by any means; they need more direct feedback mechanisms, like something that alters the tooltips so they highlight bad stats for your class, but it’s safe to say a player starting today will end up being more capable than one who came on board before this expansion.

              • Jarenth says:

                Of course, that does require knowing what Elitist Jerks is, and a willingness to devote a significant portion of your time investigating something the game should by all rights just tell you.

                • The Naked Emperor says:

                  True, but by the time it’s relevant you’ll need to coordinate with people who will know about those sites and will likely direct you to them. Everyone should know about the forums and the topics relevant to stats, builds, and gear are always stickied at the top.

                  Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that the game itself should be more explicit, but this information isn’t hard to find if you ask. If someone can’t find a good guild or helpful people then I’d be amazed that they’re still playing. WoW is good in its own right but as a single-player experience it’s very lacking; capitalizing on the social aspect isn’t just vital to your success it’s also how you squeeze the most fun out of it.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                  But before that time you’re left wondering if you’re having difficulty with a quest because it’s unbalanced or because you made wrong choices with gear/whatever.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                Try this (or ask someone else experience with WoW to do it):

                Make a character, level it normally. Then make another character, of the same class, but make the worst decisions possible in the talent tree. Ignore how stupid or ignorant someone would have to be to pick them, just do so. Level both to, say, 20 or whatever. Then try the same quests and enemies with both characters.

                Is there a difference in difficulty? Is it enough that it would hamper a newbie? If the answer is yes, then it is possible to screw yourself over with talents. It doesn’t matter how obviously horrible choices you’ve had to make, it’s still possible.

                • Jarenth says:

                  Interesting experiment. Should try that sometimes.

                  I’ll argue that by the time you’ve played the same character class to level whatever twice, you should at least have a decent handle on how the class works, and on skills and tactics and the like.

                  In that case, I think it’s very hard to purposefully destroy your build. A lot harder than in used to be, at any rate. Still, it might be possible.

            • Klay F. says:

              I don’t really know how everyone else figured out their key stats, but with my main pally, I just kinda used common sense. He was my basic thought process when I first rolled (note that I’m a new WoW player with no raiding experience as of yet):

              Hmm…okay lets take a look at what this game’s key stats are…okay there is Strength, Stamina, Intellect, Spirit, and Agility. Well, the character creation screen told me that a pally is a tank whos job is to take damage so the other classes don’t have to. I assume this means I will end up having more HP than the other classes. I should probably focus on gear that increases Stamina since that will add to the total amount of HP I have. Since I will be taking more damage that the other classes, I also need to focus on any stat that deals with reducing incoming damage (or canceling it altogether).

              You should really be able to do this with any class assuming you know the role your class fills, and if you don’t know your role then I suggest you go back to the character creation screen and do some reading.

              Also, if you are actually caring about participating in endgame raids, it really is ridiculous to expect to be able to jump right in without some foreknowledge. It is such a different experience than regular dungeons. Teamwork is orders of magnitude more important than anything else, and yes being geared properly is important, but knowing what your going to face beforehand is infinitely more important. There really is no way for the game to hold your hand as you make the transition. It would be like a lifelong tabletop gamer making the transition to FPS gaming. You can explain it all you want to make the transition less jarring but there really is no substitute for actually getting into it and getting some experience.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                So, what you’re saying is “if you don’t know, RTFM”?

                I don’t remember if I had difficulty picking up what the key stat is, but I wasn’t really talking about myself here anyway. What if someone doesn’t know what a tank is in this context? What if he understands it as someone who draws attention and keeps others hitting at himself and thinks Dodge or whatever is better than HP and focuses on Agility? What if his previous game did precisely that (tanks have high Agi)? The problem as I see it, is that nearly everyone here has gaming background and instictively see things through it and don’t understand that WoW might be someone’s second game after something wildly different (but still a multiplayer rpg). You need to have some obvious pointing for newbies, even if it feels like they should be able to get it themselves.

                My point was that the leveling part of the game doesn’t prepare anyone for endgame raids, and that it should be either overhauled or dropped if the endgame raiding is The Thing that WoW has to offer. If you have to do extra studies when you hit the appropriate levels, then the game isn’t designed properly. And back when I played leveling was too slow to learn new abilities properly, because it was easy to get stuck in a habit of using those you’ve had for a while, so there wasn’t even that.
                (Not interested in hearing how this is now faster, I’ll judge that myself when I give WoW a new try later this year.)

      • Someone says:

        One way to balance PVP in such a game, is to enforce the same stats for all of the participants. In other words, make all players on the Battlegrounds and Arenas wear special “battle gear” (or give them a special status effect, or just hardcode it) which gives a fixed stat bonus, different depending on class, of cource. It would hardly abolish all of the problems, but it would remove the uneven gear scaling and a few other headaches.

        The main problem is, PvP and PvE content requires two different rulesets, but Blizzard continues to try to cram it into one, to the chagrin of both playerbases.

        • Klay F. says:

          Except PvP is about rewarding players who have a better knowledge of the game mechanics than other players. If you force players to have the exact same stats then the outcome of every fight will be completely random. Talking about balancing PvP is all well and good until you realize that its the imbalances that make it entertaining. The only thing I think should be taken out of PvP is Twinking (that is: a toon below the level-cap with the absolute best gear available with enchantments that are obviously beyond their level abilities)

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

            And capability of using the appropriate ability at a given moment doesn’t count as knowledge of the game mechanics? Not that I agree that everyone should have the same equipment/abilities in PvP, just raising a question.

  4. bickierdyke says:

    Good point about the consistent looks.

    My guess: No one cared about that cause the beta players all were content bragging with their newest gear….

  5. Hal says:

    While WoW won’t explicitly say things like, “You’re a Hunter, you don’t need Strength or Expertise,” you should be able to figure some things out on your own (even if it isn’t immediately obvious).

    For example, at some point you learn a gear mastery, which gives you a bonus for wearing all gear of a specific type (which is half of getting the right stats anyhow).

    You can highlight those stats in your character screen, and they should say what they do (increase attack speed, increase critical hit chance, etc). And now with Hit/Expertise, the game even tells you what your chance to miss is with those stats (though I think that’s more helpful to max level characters).

    I guess the question is, how much hand-holding from this stuff do you want in a game? Some people prefer the opportunity to look at stats on gear and figure out which ones will benefit them more.

    • Josh says:

      “how much hand-holding from this stuff do you want in a game?”

      The stats issue is inconsistent with the rest of WoW. WoW is incredibly newbie-friendly and hand-holding in most respects, but not here.

      I have no idea why expertise or strength wouldn’t be important to a hunter. They use bows, right? Which are hard to pull? So I read the forums or visit elitist jerks. The alternative is to spend a lot of time researching and testing it on my own. No thank you.

      • Hal says:

        As I said, if you highlight the stats in-game, it should say what each stat does. Perhaps that feature should be highlighted more. But when you look at those stats, they should say, “Increases Melee Attack Power,” “Increases Ranged Attack Power,” “Decreases Chance to have Melee Attacks Dodged or Parried,” etc.

        I’m going on memory, though. If the game isn’t that explicit about it, then that is a problem.

        • DancePuppets says:

          It’s more explicit than it used to be, on my warrior if I hover over spirit or intellect it actually says something along the lines of these have no use for your class, which is at least something. My main is a Disc priest so it’s stack spirit a bit, then stack intellect until you can’t stack intellect anymore, if you’re feeling controversial you can always add a bit of critical strike rating.

          • Dys says:

            Actually, sitting in wow right now and mousing over strength says ‘increases Attack Power’
            Which, thinking about it, probably isn’t much use to a new player.

            I’m trying to think back to when I began playing, but I really… it was a long time ago…

            I know I levelled in ass spec on almost all my characters. I levelled rogue Sub, because I liked the sneaking. That was fine.

            I levelled Paladin Prot/Holy hybrid waaay back in the day when it made you basically unkillable. I actually used to pull a mob and go afk while autoattack killed it.

            I levelled Druid Resto, and knifed things to death for 40 levels, with running heal over time spells on me. That was no problem, for me, tho other ppl may laugh. Then went moonkin at 40 and root-dot-lol all the way to max.

            What I guess I’m trying to say is, it doesn’t matter a god damn what stats you have when levelling, so long as you have fun. If you want to stack strength on a warlock and melee things to death while your imp tanks, go for it! If it doesn’t seem to be working out, change something and see if it helps.

            Does anyone else remember Gutrot the Naked Troll?
            He levelled from 1 to 70 with no weapons and no armour, just some (invisible) rings and trinkets.

            • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

              What if I want to kill things quick, but don’t know what stat actually boosts my abilities dps? What if I want to be able to level safely, but don’t know which stats actually boost my defense/defensive abilities? How am I supposed to level the way I want when I don’t know what I should do in order to be able to do so?

              If it doesn’t seem to be working out, I usually end up dead in MOGs. Add death penalties and I don’t see the fun of experimentation, since it hinders my ability to get my character to the mystical land of Great Fun (high levels).

              Was Gutrot played by a complete newbie? How long did it take? Would you actually consider that most would think that the effort it took would be worth the laughs?
              Just because someone can and does, doesn’t mean others can or want to.

      • MarkHawk says:

        hmm, pumping strength to use heavier draw-strength bows, leading to longer range for hunters?

        Could be fun… :)

  6. Friend of Dragons says:

    Another big culprit of this issue is EVE Online. That game will spit spreadsheet after spreadsheet of esoteric stats and percentages at you and seems to expect you to know what they all mean by intuition.

    Signature Radius? Inertia Modifier? Transversal? Sensor strength?<- Which is separate from Scan Strength which is separate from Maximum Scan Deviation which is Separate from Scan Resolution…

    • Ian says:

      In EVE’s defense, they did address much of the complication with some of the newer patches. The tutorial holds your hand a bit more than it used to, at least.

      That game is still insanely hard to learn, though.

      • Friend of Dragons says:

        Yeah; I’ve been Playing EVE for a while now, so most of the stuff makes sense to me, but I still remember looking at all the stats back when I was still learning and thinking “WTF?” and (back then at least) the tutorial only taught you the very basics of doing things, and didn’t discuss at at the stats driving them… and even the online wiki manual, which seemed only half-complete and/or out of date in a lot of areas, didn’t provide much enlightenment.

        • Ian says:

          Haha, yeah, I felt the same way. I started playing EVE before they made it easier to start playing.

          I did like the learning aspect. I would constantly learn new things about the game and it was very rewarding. Luckily, I didn’t waste too much ISK on things that I didn’t need.

  7. bickierdyke says:

    No title card on this weeks episode?

  8. Joe Cool says:

    I love reading these posts from the perspective of a WoW casual. One of the complaints from the hardcores is that WoW is too “dumbed down”. One of my friends even complained that it made it too easy to figure out what you were supposed to do, specifically with the way that talent specializations now work. But the new player or causal player’s experience is entirely different. He hasn’t been playing since launch and doesn’t have the hit and haste caps memorized for every level.

    The thing is, Blizzard has admitted that they have a problem with this type of thing. I remember reading an interview with one of the devs (I think it was Ghostcrawler) where he talked about how much trouble a lot of players had after patch 4.0, specifically hunters whose entire resource system changed. They didn’t really anticipate that most of their player base didn’t see the changes coming. Most of their communication to and from the players comes through the forums. That’s where they announced the class changes and that’s where they got feedback on them. Who posts on the forums? Hardcore players. So you have a situation where 10% of the players contribute 90% of the voice.

    I do remember back in Vanilla and BC that I struggled with these same concepts. “Ok, so what’s hit rating do? Do I want it more than crit? This item has 3 agility and 5 crit, and this other one has 1 agility and 10 hit. Which is better?” Without seeing the formulas that they’re using, it’s really hard to make a determination. That really, really bugged me back in the day.

    I guess the important thing to remember here is that for solo play, having the optimal itemization really doesn’t matter. Your biggest resource now (which we didn’t have back in the day) is the ilevel (item level) of the gear. My gearing recommendation for you, Shamus, is just choose the items with the highest item level, with a preference for agility. Yeah, it’s possible that you might do slightly more damage with the 5 agi, 10 hit, 10 haste bow then you do with the 8 agi, 8 crit, 10 expertise gun, but you know what? It really only makes a difference in a raid. And if you’re raiding, you have the experience and advice of the other guild and raid members to help you along.

    • Shamus says:

      This is encouraging. Sounds like I’ve been doing it right: Go for item level, stack agility.

      I still look like I got dressed in the dark, but what can you do?

      • ngthagg says:

        Yep, if you’re looking to min/max your character at this level, you want as much agility as possible. But honestly, if you aren’t looking for the optimal build at this point, you could pick cosmetically pleasing items and do just fine. Unless you think a dagger and shield combo is the perfect look for a hunter, the effect of items will be dwarfed by the increases from leveling.

      • Khizan says:

        The Burning Crusade expansion is rather famous for the way its leveling gear resembles a Clown Suit. It was a rather frequent complaint at the time.

        So they changed it in Wrath, and as you go through Northrend, you’ll find that items have been designed to complement each other and it and actually looks pretty good as a set. Cataclysm continues the tradition.

        Of course, then we got the complaints about how EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME QQQQQQ, but you can’t win them all.

        • Gaukler says:

          I remember levelling my mage through Burning Crusade, and during the early quests you get a pimp cane (staff), pimp hat, and technicolor robes. And it was Awesome. Just because you’re undead doesn’t mean you can’t have style.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

          How about you add gear that changes your looks, but not stats? And then add a setting that can toggle them off for all/other players? That way anyone can change their looks to fit their tastes and those who want to see what gear others are wearing can disable showing the customized looks.

        • Zukhramm says:

          I’m sure it’s possible to design armor that falls somewhere between “boring” and “clown”. Just because Blizzard only tried the extremes doesn’t mean that they’re the only option.

      • Sanguine says:

        Oh, and spec Survival. Survival is currently OP, while BM and Marks are underpowered.

        This is true even and low levels, as the Survival specialization, Explosive Shot, is vastly superior to both Aimed Shot and that blasted BM taunt/stun thing.

        http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/1829962

        • Danel says:

          That’s not necessarily the best advice. It’s true that Survival is a massively OP spec for high-end stuff while the others are underpowered but a) they’re fully aware of that and are planning to change it soon, which may well result in Survival being massively overnerfed; b) for levelling, the ‘best’ spec switches at a certain point from being BM to MM at the moment; for totally different reasons than what makes Survival so good – BM helps with soloing by giving you a very powerful pet, but after a certain point MM hits a sweet spot so that you should always have lots of focus available.

          In any case, the best spec for levelling is, with a few exceptions, the one you most enjoy using. That’s what Dual Talent Spec is best used for on a hunter, after all – it’s not like they have a healing or tanking (except for the experimental extreme pet-tanking builds) spec.

      • You do make the excellent point that Diablo and Diablo II were so very, very clear. It is amazing that WoW, which is the MMO Diablo game, manages to be so hard.

        They are really trying to clear things up and make it better, and the entire matter is complicated by heritage issues involving MMO design, but it is frustrating.

  9. Valaqil says:

    As a previous Druid tank, it seems I had an easier time of things than you did. I, too, had to research what I needed since it wasn’t explained, but my options were apparently simpler than you found. The simplest of searches revealed that you needed enough defense to be “uncrittable”, then Stamina/Strength/Agility as desired. It was probably closer to the “boring” system you describe because it was common to just grab the “Starter” set at the level cap (Clefthide?) and then shoot for the obvious upgrades in instances/raiding. As long as my defense was at/above a certain number, then anything else was wasted and I should focus on attribute stacking. It was nice, in my opinion, because, for once!, I was simply playing instead of number crunching. (See: Every other game, ever.)

    • Mephane says:

      Druid tanks were always having a talent making them crit-immune, and only with Cataclysm all other tank-classes received a similar talent. So stacking defense has always been a non-issue; whoever told you to do so, had you waste a lot of time.

      • Khizan says:

        Druids didn’t get that talent until Wrath. Back in BC, they still needed defense.

      • Joe Cool says:

        It wasn’t crit-immunity we druids needed, but crushing blow immunity, which during BC required a significantly lower value for druids than for other classes. With WotLK, they removed crushing blows from bosses and we druids haven’t needed defense since.

        • Dys says:

          I do not recall druids ever being immune to Crushing Blows. So far as I understand it (as an end game main tank), crush immunity involves a combined dodge, parry, block and miss chance of 100%, pushing the crush chance off the end of the hit table.

          Since druids were never able to parry or block, being crush immune would involve actually being unhittable in any way.

          In BC at least, Paladins were the only uncrushable tanks, due to the Holy Shield block bonus.

          • Mayhem says:

            Correct, Druid tanks were alway vulnerable to crushing blows, its why they had the massive healthpools to compensate.
            When Patch 3.0 and Wrath came out, immunity to crits was baked into the tanking spec to make leather gear more homogenous between rogues, cats and bears.
            Druids were still vulnerable to crushing blows however until they completely removed the mechanic except for creatures more than 4 levels higher. This was to smooth out incoming damage spikes.
            Post patch 4.0 and Cata, all tanking classes are immune to crits from talents and crushing blows are still not a factor, which is why Druid health pulls got reduced still further to bring them in line with the other tanking classes.

            They also gave us barkskin while in forms to compensate somewhat for not being able to block or parry. Ymmv.

          • Trix says:

            Prot warriors easily got to “uncrushable” areas, since Shield Block back then was a very short cooldown/75% block chance with 100% uptime….mostly. The only problem was that it had limited charges, so if a boss hit enough times within the 5 or so second window, a hit could go through without being blocked (and thus, a crush).

            Crushing blows were the bane of many a healer in BC, as they could be impossible to predict on most tanks (which is why pallies were nice).

      • Valaqil says:

        The last time I really played was well before WOTLK dropped, i.e. Burning Crusade. I may have confused crushing blows / criticals, as Joe Cool posted above, but I don’t believe I have. In Burning Crusade you needed ~415 defense to push crits of the table. I did my research because the Clefthoof set was one of the final pieces I used Leatherworking to create. Survival of the Fittest only makes you crit immune at 80, if I read WOWwiki correctly. I haven’t kept up with talent changes / patches in over two years, so you’re probably referencing things that are somewhat new.

        Source for Survival of the Fittest: http://www.wowwiki.com/Druids_as_tanks
        EDIT: And source for the “415 defense” bit from BC: http://www.wowwiki.com/BC_tanking_equipment_%28druid%29

    • kmc says:

      And I think that many players may not even think to look on forums or wikis, and as Shamus points out, which one? We who are veterans of the game know about Wowhead and the others, but there are tons of sites who would love to lure in unsuspecting players. Remember, for better or worse, this is often a “gateway” game, that people who like games use to bring in their kids or non-gaming parents or significant others. Most games don’t have to fill those shoes as much as WoW does, and if WoW didn’t do it, some other game would. There will always be a game that is friendlier to non-gamers, and the gear thing is kind of a holdover from before Blizz accepted that they had to take care of this player base to be successful.

  10. Hitch says:

    Long time WoW player and quest reader. The James Clark wanted poster is a new quest with the changed world of Cataclysm. He’s been in the game for 6 six years and you could attack him for no particular reason. But he was no part of any quest. I thought it was great when I saw the poster and realized they finally did something with the character. I then thought it was absolutely wonderful when I read that I was going after him because he was suspected in the disappearance of the pig I just killed.

    One real challenge in this sort of thing you’re doing, Shamus, is the Blizzard writers are aware of the absurdity of the genre and make fun of it themselves. (When you get to Redridge ask Parker about Yowler.)

    • Mephane says:

      Beware, the whole comment is a spoiler:
      It gets better. In Deepholm you will do a quest to kill “Fungumant Glop”. Later, you will receive a quest that can be repeated every few days (several quests share the same “spawn slot”), requiring you to kill “Glop, son of Glop”. There’s even an achievement for killing the 10th generation’s Glop. Hilarious.

      • Dys says:

        You neglect to mention that the quest takes several minutes to complete, and can only be done by one person or group at a time. Which leads to a crowd at the spawn point, waiting for the damned npc.

        The bottlenecks at boss killing quests are one of the worst aspects of the game. Making an achievement for doing it ten times is just… cruel.

        • Ryplinn says:

          Actually, anyone who damages Glop gets credit, whether or not he’s tagged. The only difficult part of the achievement is getting the quest 10 times, since it’s randomized each day.

        • J Greely says:

          They hotfixed Glop so you just have to participate in the fight. I did it last night with five people, none of them grouped, and we all got credit for killing him. Also, he had respawned by the time we made it back to the start point, and the NPC showed up for the next group as we were leaving.

          -j

  11. Ian says:

    On one hand, as you level up, the gear that is designed for your class generally has everything that you’ll need. Thankfully, now the game tells you before you create a character which primary stats you should be focusing on. That feature at least points you in the right direction so that you don’t see a bunch of hunters running around in shaman or resto druid gear, that sort of thing.

    On the other hand, I completely agree that the secondary stats are confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking at (with the exception of hit rating and expertise, which both have nice breakdowns of your miss/dodge/parry chance against enemies in the tooltip, something that was sorely lacking before). While some nice strides were made, like removing the attack power stat from gear, that complication was restored by the addition of the mastery rating and by making haste more useful in general. For instance, on my DPS DK in WotLK, all I had to do was boost my attack power and try to bring my crit up a bit (haste just decreased the global cooldown, which only served to starve you of runic power and runes because the rune recharge wasn’t any faster then) — now I have to balance mastery, crit and haste and still leave room for attack power. As an experienced raider, I love having those options, since I can tweak how my character performs, but if you were to give the past me two pieces of gear that have identical stats aside from one having crit and the other having mastery (which seems to happen quite a bit in Cataclysm!) then I would likely be confused. The tooltips do a better job of describing what the stats actually do now, but picking the optimal stat is a very spec-specific task. Not to mention that some things that might seem like a good idea (i.e. why wouldn’t I want dodge rating?) just aren’t when you’re doing certain rules.

    Let’s not even get into what reforging brings to the table. I think that’s far worse for a newbie’s sanity than gems are. Luckily, it’s sort of hidden from the public eye to a certain degree, and only works on item level 200 or better gear, so it sort of dissuades the curious to a certain extent.

    Also, your character really doesn’t look all that bad. You should see my paladin!

    • Aldowyn says:

      You mentioned attack power – I don’t know how that works, but it reminds me of something.

      Some games have weapons with a “damage” stat and a “speed” stat, but no DPS stat, and without the formulas, I simply can’t figure out whether the axe or the sword is better. Actually, Dragon Age did that, I think, but some MMOs do that too.

      • Ian says:

        Attack power in WoW is essentially one of the raw variables behind damage calculation for physical damage. Prior to Cataclysm, it was boosted both by stats (which stat depends, to a certain extent, on your class) and listed on gear as a specific stat (there were gear and gems that boosted attack power directly). To make things more confusing, some things boosted ranged attack power while others boosted melee attack power.

        In Cataclysm, for the most part attack power is influenced solely on stats, making it far easier to gear characters (though the haste vs. crit vs. mastery thing is still confusing, at least maxing your attack power isn’t as complicated.

        As for damage and speed stats, WoW shows both, but is kind enough to calculate a weapon’s base DPS for you. That being said, it’s only useful for low level toons that have regular grey or white gear. A green sword with +50 strength labeled as doing 100 DPS is going to trump a grey sword labeled as doing 110 DPS due to the boost in attack power. That also doesn’t take into account other things that could increase damage, such as spells or procs (random effects from trinkets). For instance, death knights and paladins both use spells in addition to melee when they take on a DPS role.

        Unfortunately, since people usually subscribe to the concept of “MOAR DPS = GOODER,” I distinctly recall seeing people in random dungeon groups with grey quality weapons just because they had a higher DPS rating than their old greens and blues.

        tl;dr: it’s still complicated and confusing even though they show that.

    • Klay F. says:

      I clicked on your armory link thinking, “It can’t be as bad as my pally.” Then I couldn’t stop laughing. You, my friend have a work of art.

  12. Gahazakul says:

    Hey, to help with the “Distinctive Look” problem open up the menu and under, uh, interface I do believe activate the gear manager. You can then make Gear Sets that can be put on your hotbar and clicked to instantly change into that saved set of gear. Then you can have a set you click that’s just for a screen shot and then your normal “Leveling” gear. I do this for In Town clothes for style purposes for when I go back to a home city.

    • Robyrt says:

      This is a fun idea, but it’s a hassle to keep them organized. Is there a macro or hotkey for “Equip this item, then save it to my current item set”? It’s already annoying (and expensive) enough to keep 2 full sets of gear around for my secondary spec.

      • kmc says:

        Just equip the new item, then under the equipment manager, click on the set you want to save everything you’re wearing to (either an old or new one) and hit “save”. It’ll ask you if you want to overwrite your previous save.
        As far as I know, there’s no macro to do all of that with one click. Either way, though, you’ll have to use the equipment manager to switch gear and carry it all with you anyway. Which is why, I think, they should have multiple gear set slots on your character window instead of in your bags.

  13. Leviathan902 says:

    To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen a loot/inventory management system in any RPG that I actually like or thought was easy to use and make decisions quickly with (though I never did play much Diablo 2, blasphemey I know). I don’t play WoW, but that looks like a total nightmare, and I love hardcore RPGs.

    RE: getting dressed in the dark, that’s one think I actually like about Fable 2’s clothing system, they seperate attributes from clothing and as a result I could make my guy look like anything I wanted. I started the game as a dapper gentlemen gunslinger, switched to a shirtless hammer-swinging barbarian, and then after completing the awful main quest, a white-robed bearded Gandalf wanna-be. All without a penalty my attributes. Meanwhile, in Dragon Age I spent half the game walking around in a mis-matched dunce cap because it gave me the best stat boost. Not to mention Alitstair’s tool-box winged helmet.

    Of course, a contingent of fans bitched to no end about Fable 2’s system as being dumbed down (as fans are wont to do). And maybe it was, but it was fun. It sounds like your LOTRO approach is possibly the best of both worlds.

    • Meredith says:

      I always think the headslot gear in the KOTOR games is the absolute worst (but then I haven’t played DA yet). I actually don’t even equip it unless for a specific task/really hard fight, it’s that painful for me to watch my character wear them in cutscenes.

    • Nyaz says:

      Oh christ, Dragon Age… imo, plate armor / leather armor looked mostly decent whereas cloth armor was completely awful. There was pretty much two types of robes in three color variations, and the hats looked like someone had thrown a sack of potatoes on your head. I refused to let any of my magic users even wear hats because they looked so ridiculous, stat bonuses be damned.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Dragon Age at least has item sets which look pretty cool together. Then there’s the endgame armors, which of course look awesome. I don’t like the dwarf armor on humans, though – too blocky.

        … and I thought DA:O was one of those games where you can not show head gear?

  14. Mirthlani says:

    Talking about “‘Pro Guides’ that are 90% ads and scams”, when I looked at this page the right-rail ad was for a WoW gold farmer: guy4game.
    Gold farmers are some of the worst scum in the world.
    Do you have any control over these Google ads, Shamus?

    • Shamus says:

      Sadly, I’ve already chopped out 90% of the ads. If I get any more exclusive, I won’t have any ads at all.

      • Shamus says:

        More info:

        The demand for ad space for dating sites, bad credit / credit checks, MLM, and a few other shady types of things is huge. I wish I could set prices for different types of ads. Like, a videogame publisher could advertise cheap. But if some sleezeball MLM outfit wants my space they would pay me a ransom in gold and / or their own blood.

        I’d like that. Right now I can just sort of control it a bit by filtering for subject matter, and I’ve cut out all of the non-nerd stuff.

        • Robyrt says:

          I think the demand is high because those are the types of businesses that can get by with just a website and some banner ads. The shadiness is high because there are only a couple legitimately useful services a credit check, marketing seminar, or dating site can provide, and large successful companies have already filled that niche. The “growth market” is in scams and gold farmers.

        • Mirthlani says:

          That’s a shame. I’m guessing such granular control would be difficult to scale to something the size that Google works with.
          I guess the only recourse is to go to Google ad vetters and get them to dump these gold farming scum.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Couldnt you try and offer add space to some game developers directly and then run just their adds instead of google ones?I mean you do have a pretty well recognizable blog by now,so there is a chance marketing guys have heard of it as well.

          Plus,with all the wow stuff youre writing,blizzard practically has an exclusive advertisement with you,so you only need to ask for money and dont change a thing afterwards.

          • Aldowyn says:

            Get WoW to pay you for Shamus Plays. That would be awesome. Or at least a free subscription – you might actually manage that.

            Actually, that might work. Tell Bioware, Blizzard, whoever about your shows, and ask if you could get a free copy of their next game, or whatever. *shrug*

            • Shamus says:

              I tried. I did get a lifetime sub for LOTRO, which I still treasure. But I think Blizzard is just too big for me to appear on their radar.

              Hell, I couldn’t even get their support to re-activate my old account.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Nice descend into evil there Shamus.And funny too.Especially the “We made woods safe for…us” line.

    • Aldowyn says:

      I liked the title – I’m pretty sure it’s a reference to one of the orc peon acknowledgments, in both WCIII and WoW (I was so happy when I heard that in WoW… and they have the color commentary if you continuously click on them, too.)

  16. MichaelG says:

    Hey, if there were no complicated stats system, people wouldn’t be able to come up to you, inspect your gear, and call you an idiot!

    • Robyrt says:

      Although someone calling me an idiot did save our lives in a dungeon group. As the healer, I had forgotten to switch from my leveling DPS gear to my healing gear; as a paladin, I couldn’t tell the difference visually because they are both sets of generic plate armor. So there is a silver lining behind the dark cloud of haters :)

      • Aldowyn says:

        That, would be bad. Hmm, you were the main healer as a Paladin? *cough* Broken! *cough*

        Paladins should be tanks with healing as a support, imo. (in general, not necessarily WoW)

        • Will says:

          With healing gear, Paladins can make perfectly acceptible main healers in PUGs. It’s only when you hit the upper-level raid content that classes become seriously pidgeonholed into their respective areas of expertise.

  17. neothoron says:

    I have been remarking that only after leveling my third alt in Outland that quest rewards in Outland do end up giving you a consistent look: I was generally able to find a combination of leggings/breastplate/gloves/boots quest rewards that was consistent.

    The problem was that the likelihood of reaching a consistent state for an appreciable duration was essentially nil – you were always upgrading your stuff.

    In WotLK and Cataclysm, they fixed the “quest reward clown clothing” problem by having every quest reward skin be the same for its armor class.

    AFAIR, Blizzard refuses to implement a cosmetic tab because it would prevent people from guessing how well-equipped someone is by looking at him, and such a guess can be important in PvP. I also cringe when I think about possible abuses of that system – for example, if everyone goes for the “I have extremely poor stuff” look. Despite these drawbacks, I still wish such a functionality was implemented, because there are lots of outdated armor, the skin of which I like more than anything recent.

    As for the stat system, I would explain that the UI you are looking at is essentially made for the minority of people who care about stats – for people who don’t, just choose something in your armor class, with the primary stat that you want (in your case, Agility), with as high an item level as possible. While I agree that the whole system is complex, I believe that the aggravation could be alleviated by replacing the stats with a simple message saying “That item is better for your class/spec than the one you currently wear”/”That item is not useful for your current spec, but would be useful if you were elemental/healing-specced”/”You should NEVER wear that item if not for RP purposes”. Of course, experienced players could add the stats breakdown to the message, or hide the recommendation message entirely (in the same philosophy as beginner tooltips)

    • Jarenth says:

      The downside of this ‘one skin per item type’ thing, of course, is that if your armor type skins happens to look atrocious (I’m looking at you, Cataclysm cloth hats!) you end up looking like a clown forever no matter what you do.

    • Aldowyn says:

      That’s a good point. LotRO has very, very little PvP (just one game mode where you play as the evil guys – not sure how that works, but it’s high level), so it doesn’t matter there, but it would be huge for WoW.

      One possible, albeit annoying, solution is to have enemies see your actual equipment, or during battlegrounds and stuff have your real equipment showing, or a combination. Something like that.

      • Joshua says:

        Saw your comment after I posted mine further down. As I said there, PvP in LOTRO disables the cosmetic system for this same reason.

        As far as what it’s like, playing as a Creep(monster character) is similar to playing as a normal PC(called a Freep, or Free Peoples), except much simpler. Creeps are at the max level of PCs, but start with a more basic set of skills. So, you can start competing against Freeps right away(no need to level up), but you’re lacking some of the stronger skills that will give you a better chance against them.

        However, considering that a lot of PvP ends up being large battles of 10-20 or so people per side plus NPCs, particular skills don’t seem to matter as much as knowing who to attack and when to attack them, when to retreat, etc. Just my 2 cents, although to be honest I don’t do a lot of PvP, so it’s somewhat of an amateur opinion.

        • Regarding cosmetics in the Moors, it’s not turned off from a fear of deception its a technical limitation due to lag. The Moors already has some pretty crushing lag problems at times and the cosmetic system was in danger of killing it.

          Before the system went live, one dev said on the forums that cosmetics could be used to dupe Creeps if allowed (but as Shamus has noted, the LOTRO devs are unrepentant griefers). Since it went live Avon and all the other devs have consistently said they couldn’t get it to work without inducing huge lag. As it is, even too many Freeps displaying their cloaks can make raids lag to a halt. They’ve also said they didn’t think trickery was an issue if they ever fixed it since the Creep players were smart enough to respond to Freeps based on how they were acting not how they were dressed.

  18. Jarenth says:

    RE: The improved Cataclysm quests:

    In the new Tol Barad daily quest hub / PvP nightmare, there’s one daily quest that has you kill Ghostly Soldiers, or something. The Ghostly Soldiers share their spawn area with two very-similarly looking mobs… and they will fight to the death with one of those two mobs (Ghostly Infantry), while the other type (Ghastly Scavenger… yes, they’re all ghosts) just happily wanders around and attacks you on sight.

    So, to recap: you have three types of mobs, all hostile, all very much alike; you need only one of those three, but the others will mercilessly attack you; and if the other players haven’t already cleared the area completely, the mobs themselves will attempt to kill each other.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, Blizzard did a lot of good with the Cataclysm, but they still managed to drop the ball here and there.

    • Alastair says:

      Yeah, but if you have the quest, the guys you need to kill have red text above their head, making them easy to pick out. And the scavengers just throw wrenches at your head and are pretty much ignorable.

  19. Ace Calhoon says:

    Totally agree about the opacity of the statistics in the game. For the addon literate this can be mitigated with RatingBuster, which distills stats down into their base components (i.e. you don’t actually care about agility in most cases, you care about the Attack Power, Dodge, and Critical Strike chance it gives you), factoring in talents and class abilities. I really wish this was part of Blizzard’s new item comparison UI…

    Once you get to that point, WowPedia can explain what the base stats actually *do*.

    • Dev Null says:

      Hey! Missed your comment, then wrote the one two posts down where I more-or-less wished Blizz had done exactly what you describe. Which may make my other comment the worlds longest “me too”, but it also means that theres an addon out there that I didn’t know about that will do this for me – thanks for pointing it out!

    • Ian says:

      THANK YOU! I was looking for that addon when I redid my UI the other day and completely forgot what it was called.

  20. Nyaz says:

    One of the worst things to me was when stuff started giving ratings that in turn gave you something else that made something completely different do something.

    For example, you might get agility. But agility gives you, say, attack power and crit rating. Attack power gives you DPS, and DPS is how much damage you do. Except not per hit, but per second. Wait, how many times do I hit something per second? And is that better than crit rating which gives you critical chance and… AAAAAHH!!

  21. Dev Null says:

    and maybe it’s not out of date

    Thats the bit that drives me absolutely off the wall; not only do I have to go do out of game research to learn how to play the game, but its been running long enough that anything you pull down off the web – not to mention anything that I might retain from my years of playing the game – has a better than average chance of being completely untrue.

    Most of Blizzard’s attempts at simplifying the stats seem to focus on consolidating or removing secondary stats (%hit, %crit, mana regen, etc,) and pushing the focus back on primary ones (Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Spirit.) Despite going against the vast bulk of the history of RPGs, I think they’d be better off ditching the primaries altogether and focusing on the secondaries. Couple this with the item comparison thing that finally made it into the main game, and you get something fairly easy to understand. At the moment, I mouse over a new item, it compares it with what I’m wearing and tells me:

    +10 Str
    -10 Agi

    Is that good for me? How the heck should I know? But if it said (making up some secondary stats that I’d be more likely to have used):

    +0.3% melee hit
    +30 melee damage
    -0.3% spell hit
    -100 mana

    I think most people could work out whether that was good for them or not without the need to google it. Of course if you’re melee, and it says -0.5% melee hit, +30 melee damage, you have to make a judgement call about whether you’re missing things much atm, but even that is the kind of thing thats fairly straightforward to understand, even if it might take some _ingame_ research (by, y’know, hitting things) to know what to pick.

    • Ace Calhoon says:

      +0.3% melee hit
      +30 melee damage
      -0.3% spell hit
      -100 mana

      RatingBuster and addons like it provide precisely this sort of comparison (well, they use “Attack Power” instead of melee damage).

      It’s a little baffling that Blizzard chose to mimic their form, and yet missed the key element that makes the addons useful…

    • Aldowyn says:

      primary stats are less scary for non-math people. “Oh hey, Strength and Agility. Well, I’m a warrior, so I want to be strong! Yeah!”. It’s simpler even for those who don’t want to go far, but just want to know the basics of what they do – scroll over and they tell you. That’s how most RPGs work – on the surface are the primary stats, but simply scrolling over that stat in your character screen tells you waht they do.

  22. Groboclown says:

    You forgot to add the simply broken ones. Ultima IX was nice in that it didn’t matter what you wore; it was all equally bad.

  23. Oleyo says:

    HUNTARD! Haha, just kidding Shamus. I love researching stats and tweaking them in games but I sure would prefer if that was done in-game with some sort of game encyclopedia rather than surfing the web.

  24. somecrazyfan says:

    Why does james have a huge pig’s head mounted on the wall?
    As I imagine, you killed princess, and he came, walking casually on the road and sayed “lol, that’s the prise pig of my rivals.”. And he has taken it for himself?!?I’m really puzzled as to why is the pig’s head on his wall when you killed it in an anterior quest.

  25. Danel says:

    It’s much better than it used to be, which says more about how bad it used to be than that it’s decent now.

    Really, it’s somewhat worse than it seems – you’ve closed the Melee and Spell things since they’re respectively mostly and entirely irrelevant to a hunter, but that’s not something that is explained very clearly.

  26. Aldowyn says:

    I love how everyone here is delving deep, deep into the stats issue and is completely ignoring the part where you went across the entire zone to kill a type of mob. This issue is so annoying, leading to the “Hey if I can’t find any, they aren’t a problem, right?” ordeal.

    So, either you got unlucky and they just weren’t spawning at that moment, or Blizzard screwed up the spawn rate (more likely, considering the prevalence of the issue).

    The best solution I can think of is having the game go look at how many people are in the area with that quest (and what specific monsters they need) and adjust the spawn rate according to that, with a default for when no one or very few are. It would be a pain to implement, though, and it would be much easier and almost as effective to just change the spawn rate.

    • Danel says:

      Looking at Wowhead’s data for it, it seems the wolves are clustered around that area while the bears are scattered more sporadically across the entire zone.

    • Shamus says:

      There are actually two bears in the area, assuming another player hadn’t killed them. You don’t really need to cross the zone. There are more on the other side of the river, although the point stands that you’re no longer killing bears that have any relevance to the camp.

      So yeah, it’s silly, but not as bad as it might look from the LP.

      • Falco Rusticula says:

        From what I remember, there were a few bears across the road, heading towards Duskwood. The animal ratio there was about 50:50 bears and wolves last time I played a human (which was months ago).

  27. Christine says:

    I remember (old lady voice) back in the day when we had 6 – just 6 – count ’em – numbers for our ADD characters (7 if you wanted to add in charisma for 2nd ed) and then they went all crazy and came out GRPS and you had to be a statistics major to run a game. Going to go drink my prune juice now.

    But seriously, yeah, Shamus, you are totally right on this one.

    • Will says:

      Well actually this sort of obfuscation has it’s roots in ADD and similar older RPG’s in that in those you typically did not know the magical bonuses for any piece of equipment and had to work it out yourself.

    • houser2112 says:

      Charisma was not a 2E addition. AFAIK, the only difference between 1E/2E regarding attributes was the order they were presented in on the character sheet. I believe 1E did have an optional Comeliness stat, though.

      1E/2E attribute systems were similar to what is shown in this post in the sense that your raw score was useful only in a very general sense (for a general ability check), and was an amalgamation of more relevant stats (+hit, +damage, +HP/level, max spell level, etc.) 3E ditching all of that with the unified d20 mechanic and having the ability modifier the true stat was a huge leap forward in streamlining the game.

  28. Joshua says:

    Just note that Cosmetic appearances in LOTRO is DISABLED when you’re in the PVP area. Presumably, it’s to avoid some kind of bluff of heavy-armor people dressing like clothies, or to inform savvy Creeps that the guy wearing the high-end set piece probably isn’t an easy kill. I don’t know.

    Just saying that it’s likely why WoW doesn’t go for it, being a PvP centric game.

    • Jjkaybomb says:

      Wow, that does make a lot of sense.
      Although you can click on people and get an idea of their level.
      But immediate visual cues are sometimes better than getting close enough to get killed.

  29. Witteafval says:

    A few tips that I’ve learned, in case no one else has mentioned them. A lot of secondary stats don’t matter much until higher levels anyway (about 80). I’d say the most important thing with secondary stats is to start with hit rating (your chance of missing a target) and get it to 8%, at which point you’ll never miss (“hit capped,” to use the jargon). Then focus on the others, like haste and crit and stuff, though which ones are best depends on which spec you play. If your gear’s item level is at 200 or above, you can see a reforger (they always hang out near enchanting trainers) and get some of those secondary stats tweaked. Socketed items are where jewelcrafting really becomes useful as a profession, though it’s another thing that matters most in end-game playing since gear gets replaced often while leveling.

  30. BenD says:

    When I played, I felt like WoW had two gearing systems.

    1.) Flying blind, popular until you hit level cap. Keep a little extra gear in case you feel like what you’re wearing isn’t doing it for you. Swap stuff out anytime you like. Don’t let the complete lack of useful information in-game bother you because none of this gear matters anyway.

    2.) Doing exactly what the internet tells you to, popular after level cap. Look up the gear and character build “needed” for raiding, grouping, soloing or whatever and your role in the raid. Follow this prescription exactly.

    This was boring because 1) means lack of investment and no incentive to learn, while 2) means every DPS raiding hunter wears the exact same gear (limited only by what raids they have and have not run and the luck of the drops and rolls).

    It got tiresome either way, but I felt that 1) was better.

  31. Shamus, just thought you might be interested to know that it looks like either your host is blocking some legit Russian ISPs or for some reason you’re being blocked from Russia. My flat has internet from one of the major Russian domestic providers (Beeline/Corbina) but to look at your site I have to use ktunnel, which I had to use to watch YouTube when I lived in Turkey, but which I’ve never needed in Russia before.

  32. webrunner says:

    You know, there’s probably some comedy to be had about changing outfits. Norman seems to be the type to wear what he’s told to wear even if he doesn’t really like it, like every piece of gear is that sweater you get at Christmas from your grandmother.

  33. Mina says:

    I don’t play WoW anymore, but the information that you needed to know that was never ever remotely hinted at in the game always drove me crazy, especially as a tank. You needed (pulling the numbers out of memory so they might be off) 490 defense so that you didn’t get crit by raid bosses. How would you know this? You wouldn’t, without research. It’s just not told to you anywhere in the game, but it was absolutely necessary to know. Lets not even get into getting to be uncrushable.

    Tanking gear was a mess. So you have your tanking stats, dodge/parry/block/miss. These are expressed as a percentage. Then there are the ratings that correspond to each of these, so something like 40 dodge rating would equal 1 dodge percent (or whatever it was). Each stat had it’s own ratio too, you needed more parry rating for each percent of parry than you did dodge rating for dodge. To complicate matters, the defense stat gave bonuses to you parry/dodge and miss (I can’t remember whether it affected block). So with all of that in mind, take the following two pieces of gear:

    Gear 1:

    Defense Rating
    Dodge Rating
    Parry Rating

    Gear 2:

    Dodge Rating
    Parry Rating
    Stamina

    Which one gives you more avoidance (dodge + parry + miss, we’re ignoring block)? You’ll have to do algebra to figure it out. Item 2 might have slightly larger dodge/parry rating bonuses on it but gives less overall when you count what you get from defense. Or maybe it has a lot of parry and less dodge and you need to figure out whether the greater amount of parry rating nets you more total avoidance or not.

    Basically you had to do algebra to figure out whether an item that dropped was even an upgrade for you. And it’s not complicated math and it’s not hard, but you should never have to do this.

    It was stupid stupid stupid.

    • Klay F. says:

      Your leaving out the entire world of Expertise. Its important for tanks to be at the hard-cap for expertise, while non-tanking classes need to be at the soft-cap. You have expertise rating, and then you have expertise points. This is directly from WoWpedia:

      “One point of expertise decreases the chance that melee attacks made by the player will be Dodged or parried by 0.25%. At level 80, every 7.688690185546875 points of expertise rating grant 1 expertise.”

      Ehhh, what? Its the most convoluted mess I’ve ever seen. And thats just for level 80, as the number change with every new level. Also, before patch 4.0.1, the numbers for level 80 were completely different.

      EDIT: Also, WHY ARE ALL THOSE DECIMAL POINTS NECESSARY?

  34. Jjkaybomb says:

    Its these unexplained things that make me always want to have an experienced friend to play with me. Because then they can just give me a simple answer and act something like a tutor to approach the depths and fun parts of the game. When games don’t explain anything or explain poorly the massive amounts of knowledge required to play it, I tend to just quit instead of trying to figure out how to have fun.

  35. Ubu Roi says:

    What Shamus said is one of the aspects of why I quit this game. It was work to succeed. It wasn’t too bad during leveling, but once you go to the max level game, it was holy hell to get geared. Pick an item you think is superior, but your pickup group says all the websites claim it should go to another class, they call you a loot whore. Pick an item that looks good, but is one notch below some other item on Shadowpanther (or whatever site is appropriate), because they spent hours poring over spreadsheets, but you didn’t even research that site, and you’re a noob.

    Don’t spend so many hours in every dungeon that you know exactly which spells to cast and when, how to avoid all the traps,know exactly where to stand and how to fight every encounter — and you’re dumbass noob.

    I play DDO now, and I have FUN.

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