Raid Lockouts & Casual vs. Hardcore

Tobold recently discussed the effects of raid lockouts on casual guilds, so I'll cover the hardcore side.

One important aspect of raid lockouts what also ties into Tigole's mention of fostering competition between guilds: Raid lockouts act as a pacing mechanism for inter-guild competition. If you need a certain gear level for an upcoming raid encounter, you can't just raid the previous raid encounters nonstop and have your whole raid equipped to the brim. Since you get just a certain amount of items per week, you can't compensate for lack of skill with extra time spent to progress. A perfect example of this is the Chinese guild The Seven, who killed Illidan in just 52 days. An average guild might spend 52 days just farming Karazhan to get gear to kill Gruul, The Lurker Below and/or Void Reaver. If Blizzard wants to encourage inter-guild competition in PvE, they must also discourage long raids and other unhealthy playing habits to avoid bad press. And that probably means that raid lockouts are here to stay.

Yes yes, I love Icy Veins as well!

Since everyone else (and their dogs) have commented about the mage changes in 2.3.2, so must I. Let's get the easy parts out of the way first.

Trainable Ice Block: A vital skill for any PvPer who wishes to live at least 10 seconds. The same reasoning which allowed Improved Arcane Explosion and Evocation to become core class skills applies here as well. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that it wasn't done sooner. Previously I was worried that removing Ice Block would remove one of the few spells that make the frost tree distinct from Fire and Arcane. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Conjure Mana Gem (rank 6), which restores 1800-3000 mana and has three charges: Again, a no-brainer. The current rank 6 Mana Gem was simply pitiful, enough for only a few spells. This one is equivalent to a Super Mana Potion, only on a different cooldown.

Then the juicy part. Icy Veins:

Icy Veins (NEW Frost Talent) decreases casting time of all spells by 20% and increases the chance your chilling effects will freeze the target by 25%. Lasts 20 sec. 3 min cooldown. It is now in the Cold Snap position in the talent tree.

Although Blizzard did break Frostbite completely, a fix is scheduled to appear just in time for this gem of a skill. 20% Spell Haste for 20 seconds is a very nice DPS increase, especially if it also affects the Water Elemental. Some testing is required to see whether this stacks with other periodical Spell Haste effects, but I wouldn't be surprised if some Black Temple & Zul'Aman-farming troll frost mage was already drooling about the concept of being able to chaincast Frostbolts almost as quickly as the Global Cooldown allows.

As for the PvP side, +25% proc rate for Frostbite is pretty significant. Coupled with the casting speed increase it means that a well-timed Icy Veins allows the frost mage to both disable his opponent and follow up with a devastating Shatter combo before he is able to react.

..which is why I doubt that this talent survives the outcry.


The dog who yelps..

..is the dog who is smitten. Apparently 2.3 introduced changes to Warden that to one writer are quite worrying:

The changes to Warden effectively remove our ability as a community to police Blizzard's activities, and may lead to undetected violations of personal privacy, among other possibilities.

Now.. which privacy watchdog group is this? Or a concerned citizen? Perhaps some government entity?

Nope. A company that develops farmbot software. While an argument should not be discared solely on the basis on who is making the argument, I'm too cynical to think that there's no ulterior motives hiding behind the scenes.

With that out of the way, let's tackle the argument itself. Yes, polymorphism is used to obfuscate the inner workings of a program from it's users. Yes, Blizzard could snoop personal data from your computer without you knowing anything about it. But why would they? They already have your personal information, including your credit card number. As a business, they have no interest whatsoever in snooping what's on your computer. Unless you're trying to cheat in their games, that is..

However, a lone programmer could try to sneak in an unauthorized modification (and risking detection by bypassing all of Blizzard's Quality Assurance processes along the way) and collect your data for his personal benefit. So I'd consider that risk to be fairly miniscule.

But how about the whole notion of having a program in your computer that you don't know what it does? Is that a cause for alarm? It depends. Unless you are one of the few that use an Open Source operating system and have read through all of the source code in it.. making a fuss out of Warden is a bit hypocritical. Your computer is filled to the brim with software that might do things that you have no idea about. Quoting Microsoft's 10 immutable laws of security:
If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it's not your computer anymore.

If you don't like unknown software doing stuff you don't know about on your computer.. don't install it.

(via Slashdot and WoW Insider)

Edit: Broken Toys is on the case as well.


The rise, fall and re-emergence of IGE

Tobold noticed this interesting article about IGE's past and present. Apparently Blizzard's one-hour timer on gold transfers has really hurt IGE, and it had to flee to tax-free Vanuatu, out of reach of litigous players, disgruntled gun-toting gold farmers, scared-off investors and banstick-wielding legistators.

Of course, should Blizzard's efforts continue to interrupt the flow of (virtual) currency between IGE and the gold farmers one might find the island nation quite isolated..