Monthly Archives: December 2008

I’m Tier 8, and so’s my wife.

There are some new screenshots of the Tier 8 gear in World of Warcraft over at MMO Champion.

Tier 8. Tagline: Now you can look more like everyone else than ever before!

Hi! We’re Death Knights! Grr!

Hi hi! We’re Death Knights too! Grrrrr!

Oh wait, no. We’re Hunters. Although the guy on the end in red is probably a Death Knight. Grrr?

Good day to you, we’re all Magii. Magus. Mageses. Whatever.

Good day to you, we’re all Magii.

Oh lordy no, sorry. We’re priests. You see, because our ludicrous shoulders go ‘up then out’ rather than ‘down then across’. And we don’t wear a hat, because we’re wearing a face mask these days. Like a Rogue.

Well met! We’re druids.

Warlocks! I meant Warlocks. Ha ha ha, oh dear. Come on lads, we’d better get out of Moonglade.

Q: How do you tell if someone is a hardcore raider?

A: Easily. It’s telling them apart from all the other hardcore raiders that’s the tricky part.

A review of 2008.

Two thousand and eight, or 2k8 as the sassy marketing people would have us call it, was possibly the best year in the recorded history of mankind. Unlike its predecessor 2007, 2008 was the year to be seen participating in, with an updated graphics engine as clearly evidenced by the Beijing Olympic Games, and improved live events provided by a wealth of volunteers, such as the drama of the US presidential election and the thrilling “Will it, won’t it?” speculation extravaganza that was the first circulation of the proton beam of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Now, some reviewers may be quick to highlight the few teeny tiny bugs in 2008, such as the collapse of the world economy and the escalation of hostilities in Afghanistan, but I think these few and far between minor defects can be overlooked when one considers the vast array of great entertainment that 2008 provided.

2008 was a great year, fantastic value for money and comes highly recommended, and what’s more it’s unlikely to be improved upon by the vastly over-hyped 2009.


This review paid for by Year2k8 Games, developers of the year 2008.

A free copy of 2008 and a one year subscription was given to the reviewer.

And some cash in a brown paper bag.

The author would like it known, however, that only three prostitutes were provided as a review incentive. And two of them were mingers.

Dingrats II, Return of the Rats of Din

Maximum levels in MMOGs are like buses. They’re big, have wheels, and carry lots of passengers. And then two come along at once. No sooner has Melmoth hit the big eight-oh in WoW, I made rank 40 in Warhammer (which might only sound half as impressive, but he did have a 70 level head start…)

No screenshot I’m afraid, partly ‘cos I rarely remember to take screenshots, and partly ‘cos I hadn’t really been keeping much of an eye on the XP bar and it caught me by surprise in the middle of some random quest. Things were a bit slow in the late 20s/early 30s, but whether it’s the tweaks made in recent updates, or just that time off work has given the opportunity for some major play sessions ’til ludicrous times of the morning, the last few levels positively flew by.

Like Melmoth I’ve also been thinking about what comes now, though in my case the answer’s a bit easier: carry on regardless! I’ve been mixing up general questing, public quests, scenarios and open-RvR while levelling up, and other than cutting down on the general questing (unless there are particularly shiny rewards on offer) I reckon there’ll be more of that as WAR rages across Tier 4, with zones flipping back and forth most days. How much longer I’ll keep going I’m not sure, but WAR certainly reinvigorated my MMOG habit, given me a few good months, and a third game with a level capped character. Huzzah!

Dingrats and all that.

The question is: what to do now? I’m certainly not interested in raiding, I just don’t see the point in running the gear treadmill when the next expansion will, in all likelihood, negate all that effort in an instant. Although it would be nice to see these raid dungeons, the amount of repeated effort required to be a raider just doesn’t appeal to me. Heroics could be an option, the new reputation system that’s in place allows you to wear a tabard of a certain faction and any rep. gained goes to that faction, which is nice. Again though, I’m not massively enthusiastic about reputation grinds, but at least there are nice mounts that can be gained from doing them.

Mounts are something that I think is worth working for, because they are always with your character and never lose their worth; my shaman pictured above still has the Mist Sabre that she bought at level sixty and rides it wherever flying mounts are not allowed. I like the look of the bear mounts, and could pay for one easily from a vendor in Dalaran, but getting something a little more unique appeals to me, so I may do the daily quests at Brunnhildar Village for a chance at Reins of the White Polar Bear. Then there are the flying mounts. Oh what flying mounts there are. The achievement I worked for when I had hit the end of the leveling game with my shaman in The Burning Crusade was to get the artisan riding skill to allow my character to ride the faster flying mounts, so with that under my belt there are a raft of drakes and other very fast flying mounts in WotLK that I could work towards, all of which look fantastic. There are also the really quite bonkers mounts such as the Reins of the Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth and with several areas in WotLK that I haven’t quested in at all, such as Icecrown and Crystalsong, I could potentially earn the money for such mounts through questing without a hideous amount of effort.

Speaking of places that I haven’t been to yet, there’s also the PvP zone of Wintergrasp. I’m not entirely adverse to PvP these days, and being a Restoration spec. shaman ‘4 life’ (as I believe the cool kids say down in the ‘burbs) – and yes that included my time leveling the character – I find world PvP to be less of a series of one sided battles where I’m getting my arse handed to me on the end of some rogue’s daggers, and more a chance to annoy the enemy intensely by healing my teammates just as some rogue is about to serve them Cul au gratin à la Poignard.

Other than that, I could play one of my other level seventy characters, but I’m in no hurry to do that either. Wrath of the Lich King was an enjoyable expansion and added a lot of fun elements, and combined with impressive graphical tweaks meant the game felt fresh and new again for a while, but having played one character to level eighty things are starting to become repetitive again. I may well pick up an alt if any of my regular leveling friends come back to the game (I’ve mainly solo’d and PuG’d with this character), otherwise I’ll leave those characters where they are, perhaps for a rainy day.

So there you have it, I’ll probably pop WoW on the back burner soon, pop in to do daily quests; the daily research on my Inscription profession to get that to 450 and finish finding all the non-trainable inscriptions; a little bit of PvP perhaps, but other than that, I think I may have to look elsewhere for my next MMO fix.

I likes me some fresh leveling.

Have Mythic sorted out a dwarf melee DPS class yet?

WinterWiki – Your guide to Christmas cheer.

Santa Claus (tactics)

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply “Santa”, is the legendary and mythical figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to good children on Christmas Eve, December 24[1] or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day).

1 Abilities
2 Set Up
3 Strategy Overview
4 Reputation & Loot
    4.1 Reputation
    4.2 Loot
5 Additional Notes


Santa Claus has several abilities that he uses in the fight, sometimes accompanied by yelling. They are as follows:

Kringle crash

“Ho ho ho!” Combat is initiated as soon as the group of whispering, shushing, children adventurers enters the living room on the night before Christmas. Santa will dive-bomb down the chimney, stunning anyone within 10 yards of the fireplace.

Eat all the pies

20–30s cooldown. “Om nom nom nom!” This attack targets a random child with mince pies or sherry in their backpack and drains all resources from them.

Saint Nick Nuke

“Have you been naughty or nice?!”If no one is engaged in melee with Santa he will throw a present for £4-6 of damage which will take out most non-Pocket Money Earners in 1 hit and quickly send everyone back to bed. It’s advisable to have a PME stand by at the end of Phase 2 to pick him up immediately upon reappearing from beneath the Christmas tree.

Santa’s Swinging Sack

15s cooldown. Santa swings his sack of presents in a wide arc, knocking back any children caught in the way. This sets up a target for his Saintly Stare.

Santa’s Saintly Stare

A directed attack, Santa turns his cheeky-cheery gaze on a random kid in the party and sends them to sleep with dreams of puppies, chocolate and snowmen. Other children can wake the slumbering infant, but they risk being caught by the gaze themselves. When woken the child suffers the Bleary Eyed debuff and cannot target Santa until they have rubbed their eyes uninterrupted for three seconds.

It’s Raining Dear

“Dasher, Dancer, Prancer… !” After 3 minutes of combat Santa will summon 8 flying Reindeer and disappear beneath the Christmas tree (he will still be visible though; this might be a bug). After 90 seconds or once they are defeated (whichever happens first) Santa will reappear. This process continues after a further 3 minutes until either your group is sound asleep or Santa is dead. Be aware that Santa considers Banished reindeer as defeated and can resurface prematurely. See below for a detailed flying reindeer strategy in Phase 2.

Set Up

  • All children should be in nightwear with good sleep resistance; dressing gowns, slippers, nighties and pyjamas are all suitable attire. The main tank must, at a minimum, be wearing an oversize cute-looking nightcap set at a jaunty angle such that it covers their eyes, this protects against Santa’s Saintly Stare.
  • Melee should wait until Santa has fully completed his descent of the chimney before moving from their hiding place behind the sofa. The best tactic seems to be to wait until Santa begins his patrol of the Christmas tree before engaging him.
  • Ranged classes should move to the chimney as soon as Santa is clear in order to block his escape.
  • Healing classes should remain behind the sofa and shout encouragement to the rest of the children, and boost morale by looking sweet and innocent.

This means that melee should be around Santa generally on the south, west and north parts of the Christmas tree, and the ranged is on the south and west area near the chimney. There are small patches of chimney stack that, when stood directly against will usually prevent Santa’s Swinging Sack from knocking you back.

Strategy Overview

This fight alternates between two stages – in the first, Santa is up and everybody concentrates on DPSing him, in the second Santa is immune to DPS, and the children have to deal with his reindeer instead. Santa is always up for 3 minutes (stage 1), then hides beneath the Christmas tree for 90 seconds. This alternates until either the children fall asleep or Santa is dead.

The basic idea is to get him down to 30%-40% before the first wave of reindeer, to be able to kill him before the second. If your plucky young whipper snappers are up to the task, it is possible to get him down between the second and third wave of reindeer, but there’s not much point in holding back DPS as no trade-off between survivability and doing damage is possible.

Reputation & Loot


Lose 15000 reputation with the Desperately Tired Parents faction.


Santa drops a vast array of fantastic loot. Everyone here at KiaSA hopes that you all get the drops that you desire this Christmas.

Additional Notes

Santa and his reindeer can be skinned and turned into excellent patent leather Christmas stockings for next year.

Happy Christmas (WAR is not over)

I couldn’t look a gift song title in the mouth, as it were, especially one so appropriate. The Tier 4 war in Warhammer rages on unabated, Destruction last night locking Dragonwake (which at least gave a temporary break from Serpent’s Passage), but Order weren’t to be denied their salvage part capturing fun and locked Eataine down shortly after. Unfortunately I’m going to have to take a break for a while, as Christmas is family-touring time, so I’m off for a while. Happy Christmas to everybody out there, I’ll be back in the New Year!

Thought for the day.

Anyone playing a healer in an MMO is perfectly adapted to being a fluffer in real life.

For example: there are always those melee DPS who charge in to an encounter and bang away for a short period of time until, before you know it, they’re spent, exhausted, and dropping to the floor limp from taking a severe beating, at which point the healer has to massage them into some semblance of life again and buff(!) them, after which the DPS can once again perform their heroic feats of flesh piercing and pounding.

So the next time that one of you DPS heroes decides to brag about how hard you are, don’t forget to thank your fluffer for keeping you standing proud on the field of battle. To pretend that you can perform many of your feats of endurance without a healer standing at your back is a fallacy (phallus-ee. See? It’s like… oh never mind).

I’m not saying that you should erect a statue to the healers you understand, it’s just that some of you could act like a little less like the perfect tool for a fluffer to operate on, if you catch my drift.


I’m insinuating that you are PENISES.

Three is a magic number

As Christmas hurtles ever nearer like giant red and white boulder rolling down a tunnel decorated with garish lights it’s a busy time for assorted wassailing, leaving not so much time for gaming, which is a shame, what with 98.73% of all games being released in December. My City of Heroes characters are at least working towards Day Job badges as they remain un-logged-in (must remember to at least move them somewhere else after 30 days), but I’ve barely managed a round of Left 4 Dead in the last couple of weeks (apologies for the continuing failure to hook up with other Soupy Twisters), Fallout 3 continues to sit, shrinkwrapped, on the shelf, and The Jackal remains at large in Far Cry 2.

When I do get the time, three games are really standing out for me at the moment. Guitar Hero World Tour continues to be a lot of fun, the separate guitar/bass/drum (and, if feeling particularly masochistic, vocal) careers should keep that going for a while yet just with the on-disc songs, on top of that the EU Wii version has finally caught up on downloadable content with a nice selection of songs and more on the way. Just in case that wasn’t enough, 2009 should be an even harder rocking year, with more details emerging on Guitar Hero: Metallica, looking brilliant if moshing is your thing. Also, joy unbounded, Harmonix bring great seasonal cheer at least in my house by announcing “…we can confirm that [Rock Band 2] is compatible with other existing instrument controllers available for Wii for both guitar and drums. Even if you’ve picked up another full band game, you can grab Rock Band 2 in its standalone software format…”.

Over in the MMO-o-sphere, the war in WAR is really picking up. Our server seems to have a decent balance, as zones are regularly changing hands; over the weekend, Order were making a big push, I landed in the Chaos Wastes just as we locked them down and joined the assault on the Chaos fortress in the Maw. Substantial Destruction defence and the inevitable lagfest meant we weren’t able to capture the fortress itself, and a couple of days later Destruction obviously mounted a counter-attack as I turned up in Praag to find it locked and Reikland under attack. The open RvR also has a positive impact on scenario availability, as things like Howling Gorge and Reikland Hills actually pop up so a spare half hour and a scenario queue don’t inevitably mean Serpent’s Passage Part MMXCIVVIXCXXMICWTF, and there are PvE quests aplenty around the nine Tier 4 zones to relax a bit after some full-on PvPing.

Finally there’s Grand Theft Auto IV. Installing it was pointlessly tedious, there’s time to make a cup of tea as it starts up, performance hovers just the right side of “acceptable”, but, and it’s a great big rocket-propelled strontium-edged “but” on skis, damn, it’s a good game. I’m not very far in at all, still on the first island, so perhaps haven’t fully experienced some of the annoyances people have picked up on apart from the handling of the cars being a bit awkward compared to previous games; I am, as they say in the adverts, loving it. On top of all the usual running/jumping/standing still/carjacking type fun, I’m actually caring about the protagonists, which is a rare thing in games.

So, Santa, what I really, really want for Christmas is an extra week to be inserted into the calendar between travelling around visiting the family and going back to work. That would be lovely.

Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.

Tobold COMMANDS us to design a new hero class for the next World of Warcraft expansion, and so we grudgingly obey. Because we’re bored. And it’s been a while since we’ve sat in our designer’s armchair, which is a designer armchair, so it’s a designer’s designer armchair and… I’ve no idea where this is going.

Tobold has settled on the next hero class being a healer of some sort, and as such has outlined a framework for consideration that I shall bullet point thus:

  • “The first question to answer is how the new healer hero class would power their heals. All existing healing classes in WoW use mana for heals. And just like the death knight doesn’t use mana or rage, but a completely new mechanism, it would probably be a good idea to design a new healing mechanism for the new hero class.”
  • “A related question is what else but healing the new class should do, and what connection there will be between his healing and his damage dealing.”
  • “The hardest design question is how to balance that new healer hero class against the other existing classes.”

With the points all firmly lined up against the wall and bullets squarely pointed at them, we shall now attempt a little straight-faced design brainstorming. ‘Dis shit be somewhat more serious than the customary puerile persiflage found here, yo. Old bean’, as I believe they say down in the game design meeting rooms of Harlem.

So everybody put on their serious straight faces. If you don’t have a serious straight face, perhaps you can skin one from the person sitting next to you and attach it like a mask through the use of Sellotape or staples. Right, is everyone wearing a straight serious face, be it theirs or someone elseís? Good, then I shall begin.

Stop giggling at the back! Yes I know Jenkins’ serious face mask is drooping and it looks like he’s having a permanent orgasm; you should have used more staples along the brow line Jenkins, this is supposed to be serious! Now shush!


Healing hero class

I like melee healers as a concept, but they’re often a tricky blighter to get right because you’re combining two roles – both of which need concentration to perform well at – into one class. As much as we like to pretend otherwise, your average healer is someone who plays health bar whack-a-mole whilst standing as far away from the enemy as possible and hoping that they find the tank a more interesting conversationalist, usually enhanced by the tank shouting intriguing topics of conversation at the mobs such as “Yo mamma so fat!”. And as much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, doing decent DPS with a character does take some level of thought, even if that’s nothing more than hitting the right buttons in sequence for the current ‘optimum attack rotation de jour’, it doesn’t give that person much time to think about healing other than maybe quaffing a potion if they see their health bar drop dangerously low; certainly it’s a bit much to expect melee characters to maintain focus on all of the health bars of other people in the party at the same time, which leads us to idea the first:

  • The hero melee healer automatically applies a buff on other party members. This buff can be charged-up by the melee healer doing damage, the player it has been cast on can then activate the buff (it would appear in their UI as a button) to heal themselves, as and when it is required. The buff can be activated at any time and heals proportionately to the amount that it has been charged.

So, we combine the two ideas of melee and healing into one. Other party members become responsible for monitoring their own health, which is not too much extra to ask in the grand scheme of play, and the melee healer powers this healing through the somewhat surprising mechanic of… have you guessed yet? Those who said ‘meleeing’ well done, those who said ‘scientology’, seek professional help.

We need to consider several things with this mechanic. Firstly, we know that powerful melee characters with healing abilities are what are known in technical circles as OMG WTF NERF NEERRRRRRRRRRFFF!!!1, so the healing buff would not be applicable to the melee healer themselves. However, we also know that playing in an instance and being a main healer who is unable to heal oneself would lead to what is known in technical circles as OMG WTF I R BROKEN FIX ME OR I QUIT THIS IS AN OUTRAAAAAAAAGE!!1, so to compensate we would need idea the second:

  • The hero melee healer is also healed by some amount X when others in their party are healed

This leads to what I think is an interesting party interdependence on healing. The party requires the melee healer to be alive and doing damage to get their own heals, but the melee healer relies on the party members using their own heals judiciously so as to keep themselves alive and also to keep the melee healer alive as well. This spreads the primary healing responsibility out between the party as a whole, giving each player a little more to do, but gaining the party an extra level of DPS. However, this is a very passive level of healing for the hero class, so we would give them a little more control over healing by implementing idea the third:

  • The hero melee healer has special abilities that can draw on the stored healing power of all party members in order to activate a more powerful overall effect.

This could be as little as an ‘Oh shit!’ ability on a reasonable cool-down that allows the hero class to heal all party members by a substantial amount at the cost of all currently stored healing power in the buffs of the party members, but for a proportion more than the stored power would allow if the buffs were activated by the players themselves. Or it could be a powerful damage ability, again at the cost of stored healing, to be used when the group was on top of a fight and not taking that much damage, again on a cool-down, lest the temptation be for the hero class to constantly activate their damage ability in PvP at the cost of their team mates being able to heal themselves.

Speaking of PvP (and for PvP here I’m talking about PuPvP, i.e. battlegrounds and open world), this passive healing helps a little with the whole (alleged) ‘nobody heals in PvP’ problem. The hero class merely has to wade into combat and they will be empowering their side through the Joy of Healing. PvP is also the reason why the buff is applied automatically to all team members, to get around the notorious secondary problem that many players are too lazy even to buff their own team mates in PvP (again we’re talking battlegrounds and world PvP here, obviously arena teams are likely to be a tad more disciplined if they want to get anywhere at all). Now the reason that it is an automatically applied buff rather than a stance or aura comes in to play here: in PvP (and potentially PvE) if the enemy has a dispel ability in their arsenal they can remove the buff; the buff is, of course, automatically re-applied, but the stored healing power is lost. Therefore we provide the enemy with a way, through intelligent play, to compensate for the fact that the hero class is a very powerful member of a team, as a hero class should be. However, we don’t want the hero class to be so awesomely powerful that no other class is worth playing, and therefore we have to temper them somewhat, so onto idea the fourth:

  • The hero melee healer’s melee damage is related, in some way (which I haven’t quite calculated because I’m too lazy and it’s too much work for a bit of armchair-based design beard stroking) to the amount of power that they have stored in the healing buffs of their team mates.

The idea here is that the hero class’s power will ebb and flow with a battle, therefore they won’t necessarily be one static level of uber DPS, they will start low, build up to higher levels of DPS, but inevitably their team mates will need to heal themselves, and thus the hero class’s power will lessen as some of the stored healing power is used up. This is all well and good for PvP, but now we have to go back and consider solo play, because if we cannot store healing power when we are solo, as stated in idea the first, then we need a way to increase the damage of the hero class when solo, thus idea the fifth:

  • The hero melee healer has an innate ability which increases the power of their melee abilities when they are not a member of a team

Quite simple, the hero class can do more damage outside of a team, at the expense of any healing.

So there we have it, my initial brainy stormy idea for a melee healer hero class in World of Warcraft. To be sure there are bound to be flaws and problems and missing elements, I’m certainly not claiming that it’s perfect and ready to go, but hopefully it is food for thought and might inspire others to take part or all of the ideas and run with them further.

You may now return your faces to the non-serious non-straight position, and if you stole your serious face from someone else, please be sure to remove all staples, wash it thoroughly and reapply any make-up before returning it. Thank you.