Monday, 8 December 2014

The Art of War(craft Class Design) and an Open Letter

So Warlords has been out for a while. I've levelled to 100, done some garrison shenanigans, some PvP, some PvE, and I'm still left with a bitter taste in my mouth. This is mainly down to one thing.


The situation is this:
  • Arms Warriors are actually the most braindead class in the game with no procs, no engaging aspects to the spec, and mindless AoE burst where you just stack all your talented cooldowns.
  • Fury Warriors are in the early-xpac woes of having not enough crit from their gear to keep them competitive with pretty much most DPS classes. Not to mention they're also a clusterfuck and a spamfest in order to come close to doing respectable dps, which is stretching it.
  • Gladiator Stance has been a tremendous success. If you count "success" as being a better DPS than the two actual DPS specs for Warrior, taking less damage and requiring less gear to do so. To be honest the only downsides to it that I notice constantly are that it doesn't have Rallying Cry or a Mortal Wounds debuff.

So where do I stand on this entire mountain of WTF?

Right at the top, wondering what on earth the Developers are doing to my class.

Normally, I try my hardest to keep a cool head and look at changes objectively, as any sensible game designer should, and try and see how they fit into the overall picture. That of course requires changes to be made, of which there are none to see for the despicable state of Arms and Fury's spec dynamic, if you can even call it a dynamic in the case of Arms. In all my time playing Warrior (Since 4.2, in case you were wondering), I've never seen such an outcry of "Blizzard, what are you doing?" until Warlords of Draenor rolled around.

Warriors were taken from their pedastal at the end of Mists of Pandaria and told that they had lived enough life of luxury and needed to go back to their roots (pun intended on multiple levels). The issue here is that nobody asked for change. What's funnier is that Celestalon himself said that Fury only needed "a bit of change".

So, I'd like to end this very short article with a request and a fairly open letter:

Dear Blizzard, and more specifically the World of Warcraft Class Design Team.

Listen to the Warrior community. Nobody wanted drastic change and you forced it on us. Nobody wanted to return to Vanilla and you forced it on us. Nobody wanted the eerie silence that we received during Alpha and Beta testing, but we got it.

Every single Warrior plays Warrior for a reason. Because it's fun? Because it looks cool? It doesn't matter.

What matters is that you don't become the reason that they stop playing Warrior.

This class has endured change after change after change from all those years ago until today, and never before has there been an outcry this large for you to change it. While we might scream, shout, and stamp our feet, understand that we just want the best for our class, just like you do.

Work with us, not against us.

You know where we are when you want to talk.

Yours sincerely,

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

An Overdue Farewell - D.N.R

It's 23:27 on the 14th of October 2014. In about half an hour the servers are going to start going down in Europe to apply the 6.0.2 prepatch for Warlords of Draenor. I'm sat here with a nice glass of Disaronno, chilling to some music and sat staring at this amazing view:

Mists of Pandaria has been full of ups and downs, from the fiasco of Taste for Blood in 5.0, to the stale period inbetween, and then the peak of the expansion and the reign of Fury Warriors in 5.4. I've made friends, hopped servers, peaked out in terms of my performance as a Warrior and still not satisfied. This is the first time I've felt this way since Serpentshrine Cavern, where I absolutely trashed everyone on Kalithress somehow. I've reached a point in my WoW "career" where I can actually just sit and enjoy the game for what it is, rather than having to constantly improve and improve and improve to keep up with others. This is the first time I've been able to truly enjoy this game since I was 14 years old.

World of Warcraft is just that, a world. It's filled with people you'd never thought you'd meet, it's full of people you wished you'd never met, and everyone inbetween. It's full of memories, of fun times, of dark times, of raid end times. I did this a while back but I feel that it needs to be done again because of reasons.

To Contingency on Tarren Mill EU - I joined this guild on July 18th as a Trial in a spot that was never guaranteed and under a bit more scrutiny than most due to the state of my logs. Apparently I passed. I've had some awesome times with you guys and I hope that real life doesn't get in the way so that I can continue to play with you guys in Warlords of Draenor.

To my old friends on Argent Dawn - You're all crazy, sort your server prices out. Team Raft need to carry you back to some form of glory.

To HeroicStrike.Org - You nutcases, you left me out of all the fun. Don't do that shit again.

To the Devs - Part of me is still holding out that you've got an ace up your sleeve. Even if that ace is a redesign for expansion 6, make sure to bring it out someday.

I feel a special mention should go out to Archimtiros, because I very much doubt that I wouldn't be even half the Warrior I am today without the desire to kick his ass on ranks one day. See you in the pit.

It's now 23:48, the servers are going down in 12 minutes, I doubt very many people will miss MoP, but it will always have a place in my heart as the place where I fell in love with my Warrior and when I started writing this blog.

That's it. Time of death, 23:51, October 14th, 2014. Patient gave the order to not resuscitate in the event of death. Inform the family.
You didn't think a Doctor quits just because one patient dies, did you?

Nurse, bring in my next patient.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Weapons Master(y)

Since my last article, I've had a few messages about "what I honestly thought" about the Warrior changes, primarily due to the fact that I go from periods of explosive rage on the MMO-Champion Forums or Twitter to being calm when I write here. I'd just like to take a minute to say that to say that the most accurate version of what I feel about a change usually gets documented here. Most of the time when I go full-out ragemode on something, it's because the initial reaction to a change is pretty bad, but then after about 10-20 minutes I've had enough time to weigh up all sides of the change and post something somewhat respectable here.

Today's plight is unfortunately just that I'm tired. I'm tired of asking, in some cases begging, that the Developers take feedback and use it appropriately. The case in point is the new Mastery for Arms Warrior, where it just increases the damage of your abilities by X%. There were two things that were wrong with this Mastery.

1) It wasn't good enough to be an even remotely valuable stat. It was beaten by Crit, Multistrike and Haste at every turn.
2) It doesn't scale with any AoE we do, at all.

Tackling Issue #1 isn't just a case of "Throw numbers at it 'til they like it" like Windwalkers got with Fists of Fury, it needs to actually be a stat that you look at and go "That's good". And you should want to. Blizzard clearly want the Spec Blurb to match your perception of the spec (See: Fury Warrior) and Arms is supposedly "A battle-hardened master of two-handed weapons" so you should look at mastery and the little RP box inside your head should go "I'm a weapon master, I should value Mastery over anything else". The issue of this of course is that Blizzard has been told numerous times and instead of tinkering with individual values and making sure they added the right amount of flavour/damage to it, they just buffed it by 40% and called it a day. Except this doesn't solve the problem because Crit is still better.

Amusingly, solving Issue #2 might indirectly solve Issue #1. Nerf Whirlwind appropriately (it's already hitting 40% harder than it's meant to) and then make it scale with Mastery. The simple fact that our main AoE ability doesn't scale with our supposed "best stat" is mind-boggling. To me, something is the best stat if it makes everything do more damage overall, regardless of whether that more damage is obvious or not (Haste Breakpoints and Colossus Smash spring to mind) Mastery right now makes Colossus Smash, Mortal Strike, and Execute do Mastery% more damage. Pretty unintuitive, though you can see that as "Oh it makes me do more damage, sweet!" Except that on AoE, it seems like we're balanced around obviously having Ravager and Dragon Roar and Whirlwind Spam (I'm not even going to count Bladestorm here as it's so horribly tuned currently). Obviously if they make Whirlwind scale with Mastery, our AoE in the next raid tier is probably going to dwarf anyone else's.

It's a double-edged sword. Don't change the Mastery and it stays worse than Crit and they may as well make our Attunement Passive into 5% Crit rather than 5% Mastery. Change the Mastery to make it scale with WW and watch as our AoE slowly spirals out of control, in which case it gets nerfed 6 months down the line.

I'd love to say that one solution is better than the other, but I can't. Each has their ups and downs, and for every thing that you fix, two more are almost guaranteed to break. I guess all I can do is hope that Warriors get a redesign for either 6.1 or the next expansion, so that we finally get the treatment we deserve after this sham of a Beta test.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Doctor's Report: Anger Management

Okay so I'll get it off my chest right now. I'm angry. And no this post won't be about the talent Anger Management, it's going to be about me.

I've been playing Warrior full-time since (roughly) 4.2, and I've been playing DPS full-time since 5.3, and this is the first change I've had to deal with that has actually infuriated me

Click to zoom!

So yea, Colossus Smash is going to peace out and stick to Arms. Now some of you may be wondering why this has made me mad, and I'll be happy to explain because it's probably angering me in a way you wouldn't think of. I'm not mad because it's gone, I'm mad because nothing is replacing it.

Fury has always had this concept of being a Berserker that lets his Rage out in bursts, annihilating a target's defenses and then giving him both barrels while he's vulnerable, except in Warlords, that idea is gone in favour of "Oh you're just furious, just keep hitting him with whatever you have handy". Even ignoring the actual concept of the class, Colossus Smash was the only serious mechanic the spec had in it's rotation, obviously it has Enrage and Raging Blow to track, but Colossus Smash was the mechanic that kept you on your toes, always thinking about your RB charges, your Enrage, your BT cooldown, your Rage levels, your cooldowns, your trinkets. It was the core spec mechanic, and now it's gone.

I really hope that Blizzard realises that the "bandaids" that they were going to apply in small changes are not going to help this class ascend to it's former glory. Now, if you want a spec that rewards correct play and correct use of it's complexity, you're forced to play Gladiator, which means you lose out on Rallying Cry and situational use of Defensive Stance, making you and your raid worse off as a result.

Right now, what the class definitely needs is an overhaul, a complete redesign from the ground up, and I think I'll be one in a very long line of people willing to fly/walk/drive to Irvine to help Blizzard redesign one of the most iconic classes of any RPG universe every created.

For the time being, looks like Gladiator is the only way forward, and I don't want to be this harsh, but I'm sincerely hoping they don't fuck that up as well. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Doctor's Report: Mr A. Warrior

So, I decided to do another Doctor's Report, this time looking into a class, rather than ongoing surgery on a boss, a mechanic style, or something similar, as I main a Warrior, I'll use this as a preface to say that this might be similar to some other posts by Stoic over at Stoic But Not Silent or by Archimtiros over at, but I like to provide a little bit of a critical overview of the situation so that people are encouraged to think up their own suggestions.

Without further ado: Nurse, scalpel please.


Warriors like big weapons and big armour and generally things being big and then having the Warrior chop them into reasonable sized pieces for pansy wizards to deal with. That's more or less the history of every RPG Warrior class ever. They jump in, kill everything, jump out. With WoW there's more facets to this killing machine as you've got Protection, Arms and Fury. The Guardian, Weaponmaster, and Frothing Berserker respectively.

So with each spec, comes a certain identity. Protection Warriors specialize in big shields, heavy armour, and are all about just being a human (or Orc... or Gnome if you're that way inclined) tank. Soaking up all the damage and smashing stuff in the face as all Warriors do. Arms Warriors are the masters of two-handed weaponry, carving man and monster into nice neat piles with devastating attacks. Fury is the rabid wolf, choosing to sacrifice personal safety to guarantee that if something will lose one limb, it'll lose them all, carving it's way through armour like a hot knife through butter.

The issue here is that of course, these are -my- visualisations of the specs. Much like how you might have your own image of a Fury or Arms Warrior, I have mine, and the Devs have theirs. So lets look at what we'll have to deal with in this unexplored land of Draenor.


Naturally, many will dislike the changes because nobody really likes change. When you get used to something, it becomes a difficult task to adapt to a new way of doing it. I'm guilty of this myself. I was well prepared for a "slow and boring" Arms Warrior rotation on Beta, but threw myself into it thinking it couldn't be that bad, and while I'm used to the slowed down pace now, it was a definite shock at first, especially when my fingers are twitching because they need to be pressing buttons after a year of playing Fury in MoP.

But it's just that, it's a need to be pressing buttons. Nobody wants to play a game where they only press one button every few seconds, it would get boring too much. So we need to think about what we could do to it to make it better, while still cutting down a lot of the buttons we don't need.

These are my bars currently on live (I know, not using ElvUI, how could I?!) and the square box is where I have Shift Modifiers to swap the first 3 abilities to Battle, Defensive and Berserker Stance respectively, and the Taunt swaps to Spell Reflect. Arguments could be made to say "Oh you don't need to bind Int Shout or Disarm, and you can click potions from your bags" etc etc, but my point is that this is what I use and it functions perfectly. I understand that stackable defensive CDs need to disappear to prevent someone going from perfectly killable to invulnerable for 8 seconds, so Shield Wall disappears and DbtS gets buffed. Banner and Reck are merged and Battle/Commanding Shout are turned into buffs so they can get shifted to a second action bar, and of course our beloved Heroic Strike is gone too.

Some of this ability culling makes sense, and in other cases it's a case of "Why was that removed? It was fine". What you need to do is put yourself in the mind of the developers and ask if it's fine now, and is it fine in Warlords, where what we're basically experiencing is Vanilla anew.

While there's arguments for both sides, let's look at some of the positives of this triple-actionbar-bypass surgery.


Of course you will, and with some changes that you might find refreshing.

First off, Recklessness and Skull Banner are merged now, but only for you. There's no need to have to min-max when you drop SB for maximum raid DPS benefit, you can just go nuts with CDs whenever you want.

Secondly, Battle Shout and Commanding Shout are buffs. While many liked the on-demand rage during the (small periods of) downtime, I personally would have rather been hitting buttons. Not sad to see it go, though I'd like to know why they weren't merged into one button like what happened with Monks' Legacy of the Emperor/White Tiger buffs.

Thirdly, Demo Banner is gone. Now while many will immediately say "Demo Banner was great, we could intervene to it and it was another raid cooldown and...and...and..." I really don't care because it was an extra we got that won't be needed in Warlords. Raid utility is being cut down and reassigned across the board and we already have (in my opinion) the strongest raid utility cooldown with Rallying Cry, so I'm not going to cry about losing a 10% damage reduction CD.

Finally, while many are opposed to the "I have to learn my class all over again" scenario that happens to crop up with Warriors, I'm actually looking forward to it. Consider it a Leaderboard Reset if you will. All of the top players, middle players and bottom players now get a fresh chance at the class and get to pick a spec they might not play in Mists and run with it. World of Warcraft has been out for 10 years, if you've not played Warrior yet, you might find that despite a lot of the negative feedback, you'll like the class after all.


Firstly, make sure to drink plenty of water to prevent overheating. Secondly, give the game a chance. While you may not agree with what the Devs want for the game, the only way for the game to advance forward and be better than what it was is for the Devs and the Community to communicate. Everyone is guilty of ranting when they see a change they deem ridiculous, including myself, but when you see something that looks out of place, take a step back and think about why the change was made, and if you can't figure out why, ask. Watcher, Celestalon, Holinka et al are all on twitter and can be asked basically any question pertinent to design of classes. Granted you may not get a response, but better to ask and get a late response than to never ask and to never find out.

That said, the same principle needs to be understood by the Devs themselves. Nobody wants to be playing a game that isn't fun. When large groups of players see a change and all come to the same conclusion and react the same way, quite often that reaction is justified. The players get given the opportunity to interact and help pave the future of WoW by the Devs. That means both parties are responsible for how the game turns out.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my readers for sticking around, this blog started off as a rant page for stupid changes and it's matured somewhat over the year and a half or so that I've had it, and I'd like to think it's changed for the better. Nearly 3000 views and 37 posts later (make this 38), CSTK has come a long way. Though with the release of Warlords of Draenor, I'll probably split my time equally between Warrior and Windwalker, meaning some of these posts will be relevant to one, the other, or just melee as a whole.

Warlords of Draenor will mark the 10th year of World of Warcraft's existence, 10 years of developing the community, the game, it's creators, it's haters and it's lovers. 10 years of my life have been spent playing this amazing game, and I'd like to think it's worth something. If you're like me, take the new expansion with a pinch of salt and dive in. Don't pretend it's like Mists of Pandaria for a second. Pretend that you've never played WoW before and just play. Enjoy yourself.

Rhaid cropian cyn cerdded.*


[* - Learn to crawl before you start walking]

Monday, 25 August 2014

Warlords of Draenor Beta: First Look

So I finally got access to the beta thanks to an awesome friend of mine, and I decided to get some first-hand experience with what the Warrior has become.


So I was dreading this and yet was excited for it. I'm a massive lover of Arms, the aesthetic, the actual playstyle, the whole shabang. So I just bound everything to where it usually is and already noticed that I was using 2/3 the buttons I usually have bound. Shouldn't complain because I knew that was coming, but it was still a shock to get used to while running around killing wolves for 10 minutes getting used to the standard UI again.

It's good. And when I say good don't think "OMG Exhil! Arms is terrible and slow and you spend time doing nothing, you're bad OMG!". I've had some time to come to terms with the fact that the Devs have a vision for Arms and nothing the players can or will say will change that, so I tried to go into the spec pretty open-minded.

Rend isn't that bad, strange having back after not having it for two years, but I'll live.

Mortal Strike consuming rage doesn't bother me considering it hits pretty damn hard.

Colossus Smash consuming rage doesn't bother me considering it hits like a truck.

In fact, the only thing I've had to get used to was pressing Whirlwind as a filler instead of Slam, and that was pretty easy to do. The game, to me at least, does feel better. Actions are more responsive, and at least now it does feel like Mortal Strike is an actual attack, rather than just something I press on cooldown.

If I rate live Arms as a 6/10, I'd give this an 8/10, though could still be improved upon a lot.


So basically Fury was mutilated compared to live and it just feels horrible. Spamming Bloodthirst is the only playstyle that's even legitimate due to the massive nerfs to Bloodthirst's crit chance at higher levels and slight buffs at lower levels of gear. Due to this playstyle, it literally doesn't matter if you don't proc Enrage, because you can just press Bloodthirst again and the spec does actually turn into a slot machine of annoyance. Wild Strike is still the ability that nobody wants to press, still sounds like crap, and currently (I might be slightly off with this one so I'll correct if neccessary) is actually doing less DPR than Whirlwind.

So that's both DPS specs using Whirlwind as a filler/rage dump. Yay.

In other news, Enrage lasts 8 seconds and Colossus Smash is extended by Raging Blow! But that doesn't matter seen as Raging Blow only costs 10 rage so you still rage cap while using it because Wild Strike is trash and literally does nothing besides dump a lot of rage at once. BUT OH WAIT it doesn't do that all the time because the spec has a proc which makes your rage-dumping ability completely free. Yes. Marvellous. Lets completely ignore this bad design and just go into a numbers tuning pass where we'll just throw damage onto the spec until people want to play it.

Awesome, thanks.

Live Fury I'd actually say is a very solid 9, and a 10/10 in some cases, in which case, I'd give beta Fury a 4/10.

All in all I'm really not impressed with either of these specs. Blizzard in the past has been very open to feedback in regards to whether something is bad design or not, even having some of the best Warlocks in the world help them redesign Warlocks when they got a rework. This time around it feels like they just wanted to have their way with Warriors and disregard any feedback that was constructive, and even feedback that might not have been constructive, but was still relevant. Many of the more prominent Warrior Theorycrafters, Forum-Posters, and some of the best players in the world have all been more-or-less ignored by the class designers, and in some cases have even been told "give it a chance, you'll like it".

They've then tried it, disliked it, and still been ignored anyway.

Warlords of Draenor has so many aspects to it that could very well make it the best expansion we've seen since (in my opinion) Burning Crusade, and yet the biggest letdown is how much the Devs are actually listening to the people who play their game.

If anyone from Blizzard reads this, I'd like to hope that I've opened your eyes. Warriors are sad that we have to deal with this gnarled up corpse of a class that we've enjoyed for so many years now. I just hope that we'll see some intensive care to deal with the burns we've received during Alpha and Beta testing.

Until then, I guess I'll just get back to gearing my Windwalker, because that's so much more fun to play compared to Arms and Fury on Beta.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

10 Years, 10 Questions.

So, it's very rare for me to write a post that's not explicitly about Warriors in some way, shape or form, however I've had the distinct pleasure of talking with a certain fairy godmother of the community that many of you may know by the name AlternativeChat. I had read her blog a few times during some of my research for articles with PVP Live, and even had the honour of trying to reformat one of her posts to fit our site (as I recall it was about Pet Battles having more PvP options available).

So without further adieu, I give you my 10 Years and 10 Questions. A little bit of background on the idiot that writes this blog.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

I started playing Warcraft back in Vanilla Beta, a friend of mine from school had been a massive Warcraft 3 fan and he mentioned that his brother had access to the beta for "World of Warcraft" and I was immediately drooling. I was so used to games like Warcraft 3, Starcraft, Pharoah, that a different genre of game interesting me was a new experience. I went around to his house one evening and we prodded his brother until he gave us a mess around on his Beta account and I was immediately in thrall of this game. I'd never experienced anything like it, and I think even back then I had a feeling that I'd be playing this game for a long time.

My sub history has been a bit of a rollercoaster, as I was unsubbed for a lot of Wrath of the Lich King in order to actually focus on school, but I've been actively playing for about 8 years, give or take a few months.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

The first character I ever rolled was actually a Night Elf Warrior though I played it until level 10 or so then realised I didn't actually like it at the time and opted to try something different, an Orc Warlock, which ended up being my main from the start of the game until the first time I was forced to quit.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

Factions never really bothered me that much originally, it was just a case of Red vs Blue and I was used to that anyway, I was more interested in the races themselves. Being a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons nerd Night Elves had that Dark Elf grim, magical edge to their appearance and I liked that about them. Horde however just ended up being the best fit in terms of symbolic aesthetic attraction (try saying that with your mouth full).

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

Oddly enough it was going through Ashenvale on that very Orc Warlock that I mentioned. I was just wandering around exploring when I was a higher level and noticed a place that I had never seen before with a load of demons there. I saw this big clickable rock and went for a look and read the inscription on Grom's grave. 

Now, bearing in mind Orcs were my favourite race in Warcraft 3, I loved the story, the look, the angst but drive for salvation feel around them, so the cutscene where Grom sacrificed himself to try and get rid of his own Blood Curse and then in his last seconds finding out that he's actually saved everyone just by being who he is, was probably the most emotional I've ever been in a video game. 
Looking back, I think I cried at that inscription.

"Here lies Grommash Hellscream, Chieftain of the Warsong Clan.

In many ways, the curse of our people began and ended with Grom. His name meant "Giant's Heart" in our ancient tongue. He earned that name a hundred-fold as he stood alone before the demon Mannoroth - and won our freedom with his blood.

Lok'Tar Ogar, Big Brother, may the Warsong never fade.
- Thrall, Warchief of the Horde"

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

My favourite aspect of the game is and will always be raiding. There's something just so cool about being the guy that goes and slays big monsters for a living. A list of my other favourite games includes Monster Hunter and Darksiders in first and second place respectively. I sense a pattern here.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Links back to question 3. At the back end of Orgrimmar there's a very tall cliff with almost a circular area on top of it that overlooks Orgrimmar on one side and Demon Fall Canyon on the other. If I'm lurking in Orgrimmar waiting for something, I'll be there.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

On my Main at the moment, my Warrior:

Total time played: 190 days, 7 hours, 45 minutes, 32 seconds

Time played this level: 148 days, 15 hours, 28 minutes, 16 seconds

I have only had this character since 4.2, hence the ridiculous amount of time spent at level 90. Honestly I think it'll be the only character I actually care for as I no longer have my original Warlock.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I do if it's something I have an interest in, I'll probably read a lot of it in Warlords of Draenor as it's the core of my love for Warcraft. Orcish History. Mmmmmmmm.

[Drooling Intensifies]

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

My single regret is deleting my only two characters on my account when I quit the game near the end of Burning Crusade. I had too many memories on those characters that I'll never get back now and I kick myself for it every day.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

It enabled me to get my position in PVP Live, made me meet some amazing people, and have some of the most hilarious moments of my life so far.

I honestly don't know where I would be if not for this amazing game. As much as I might rag on at the Developers for design decisions, they've still made the game that I've been playing for close to half my life, and for that they deserve my respect.