small-scale violence in the world of warcraft

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

and she's back in the game. for now, anyway.

my wife took a sabbatical from wow to focus on school and work these past few months. the semester is winding down now, and this weekend she logged on and started leveling alts through pet battles. after enjoying herself for a few hours, though, a problem arose.

"why didn't you tell me there are four new untradeable pets that can only be got through fishing?"

"i dunno. i thought i mentioned them at some point."

"I gotta have them."

"you gotta?"

"i need!!!"

and she was off.

of course, fishing is a slow process, even when you aren't trying to catch really rare fish. so she did some research, and ran across the ancient pandaren fishing charm, which gives you a buff that gives you a 20% or so chance to get a bonus fish every time you catch one in a fishing pool. to get it, you have to talk to the ghostly pandaren fisherman, a friendly npc who spawns once every few hours in the valley of the four winds. (i probably read all this back at the beginning of the expansion, and then promptly forgot it.)

unlike me, julie does nothing half-assed in this game. she set up her npcscan add-on to detect the fisherman. she parked herself right at his spawn point. then she launched a second wow session, logged on to her second account, selected a character on a different server, and parked that one at the spawn point as well. then she fired up her other laptop and proceeded to do school work. after maybe an hour, the scanner alarm went off, followed immediately by a triumphant "ha-ha!". then she switched to a different character, parked it, and got back to her homework.

by the end of the day, she'd picked up fishing charms on five different characters, including one of mine (thank you, love :) ). along the way, she had a couple of conversations with other players who said they'd been looking for the fisherman for "weeks", and then flew away. moral of the story: this is a game that rewards patience.

she hasn't got any carp yet, but i expect she'll get all four before i do (i still need red and white). either that, or school will pick up again in the summer and she'll make me play her account to get them.

Monday, April 22, 2013

hydra doesn't pvp. except when she does.

hydrargyrum, of the twisted nether blogcast and (when she remembers she still has a blog) almost evil,  is my oldest wow blogging friend. we met back when we were the only two wow bloggers on the now-defunct blogging / pre-facebook social media platform. long time ago, that was. somewhere along the line one of her alts on my server got lucky and picked up a winter's little helper pet, which she generously gave to me.

for years it sat in my bank or pet book, only coming out on occasion during the winter veil holiday. when we got the ability to name our pets this expansion, christening it "hydrargyrum" seemed the appropriate thing to do. and at some point, even though it was only an uncommon pet with a really strange spell set, i decided to level it to 25. then i found myself with an extra flawless humanoid battle-stone, so i stoned the little gnome because why hell not?

and then the other day i ran across a pvp team comp that caught my eye. kun-lai runt (a very popular and effective pet currently). slow tundra penguin. and winter's little helper. didn't have a penguin of that particular breed, so i substituted pengu - same spells, but a little faster and a little weaker. wasn't worried about it, because i still think that, with certain exceptions, having the right breed is greatly overrated. anywho, three pets, all with the ability to "chill" an opponent, and all with an ability that gets a bonus when hitting a chilled opponent. so how'd hydrargyrum, slide, and grievous muppet do?

they pwned teh face.

over the  course of the weekend they racked up twelve wins against five losses. not too shabby. along the way i picked up the experienced pet brawler achievement. fifty wins isn't a lot, at least when compared to my pve wins, but pvp is still so darn slooooooooow and doesn't offer much in the way of rewards. yet. can only do a few battles before my brain starts pointing out how many opportunities we're losing by not doing other stuff. but still, i have fun while i'm doing it, and i'm looking forward to the pvp achievement grind that will come in 5.3. mostly.

but remember - hydra doesn't pvp*

*old joke. she'll know what i'm referring to ;)

Monday, April 15, 2013

there will be blood in the water ....

.... and the sharks will come.

one of the new achievements in patch 5.3 will be brutal pet brawler, with the very enticing reward of a stunted direhorn pet. i fully expect that a large number of pet collectors who so far have avoided pvp battling will give it a shot, because, you know, gotta catch'em all. but there are some distinct differences between pvp and pve, and if you aren't prepared in advance you're in for a drubbing. most notably, it's not enough to put any three good pets together and call it a team. if the pets have abilities that (a) build off of their other abilities, and (b) complement the abilities of their teammates, it gives you a very powerful edge. for example, a triple conflag team uses two fire elementals to set the enemy on fire before dropping the conflagrate bomb (bonus damage against burning targets), but also has a dragonhawk with a flying attack to cover for them should the enemy send in an aquatic pet. i won't say it's impossible to beat a tight team like these with any three old pets, but it'll be damn hard.

so far, i haven't done a lot of pvp. i like it, especially the fact that it encourages you to use a much wider variety of pets than pve does. but i've got milestones to reach, and both the queue times and the slowness of the fights keep me from doing more than a handful of fights before going back to more time-efficient game elements. but i've done enough that i can spot someone who is just "checking it out" as soon as the fight starts, and I know my odds are very good. (against more solid teams, my track record is roughly 50-50; i can hold my own, but i'm no master). if the patch does bring in a big influx of non-pvp'ers, i'm afraid i'll be doing my part to make it as unpleasant a learning curve for them as possible. after all, i want a baby dinosaur pet too....

i am kicking around an alternate idea though. if a number of non-pvp'ers (or pvp'ers willing to set aside their solid teams for a while) could meet up on a particular server and all queue up, it might be enough to swamp the queue with amateurs. the result would be short, if not instant, queues and fights that were quick and evenly matched. a couple of hours, and everyone could knock out a good junk of the 250 needed wins. not sure how many people this would take. five, maybe? ten? it'd be interesting to find out, and it would be a good excuse to bring my all-squirrel team out to play.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

who's getting the loving now?

six weeks or so ago, i tallied up all the level 25 pets from each of the ten families, just to see. now, after after a few weeks of using pet battles to level characters, thanks to the xp introduced in 5.2, i've got a lot more 25s. so i am again curious to see how the families are faring. numbers from the last time are in parentheses, for comparisons.

critter - 26 (+11)
beast - 24 (+5)
aquatic - 19 (+7)
elemental - 16 (+4)
flying - 12 (+5)
humanoid - 10 (+3)
undead - 9 (+3)
dragonkin - 9 (+4)
mechanical - 8 (+1)
magic - 4 (+0)

big gains for critters and aquatics, due to all those rares i captured in the valley of the four winds getting leveled. gotta do something about the magic situation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

some thoughts on the changes to hit and dodge

in pet battles, there is a baseline 5% chance that you will miss an attack against an opponent of equal or lower level. there is also a 5% chance that your opponent will dodge your attack. i grew up in a world filled with dice, spinners, rnd() functions, and, when nothing else was available, the last digit of each phone number on a page torn out of an old phone book. as an adult, a big part of my job is managing risk. also, i still play d&d, so there's still lots of dice. as a result, i've been rather baffled by all the people on the wow forums claiming that random outcomes have no business in mini-games like pet battles. there has been a deluge of complaints since day 1, some constructive but many from people with no understanding of confirmational bias, claiming to have been the victims of all sorts of statistically unlikely events (such as missing 15 times in a row). sometimes people report having thrown hellacious temper tantrums, as if this was something to be proud of.

playing zombie dice with these people would probably be a miserable experience.

in patch 5.3, blizzard is going to overhaul the entire system, much to the delight of people who are uncomfortable with probabilities. the baseline chances to miss or dodge will be reduced to 0%. there will still be a chance to miss/dodge higher level opponents, but it will be reduced from 5% each per level to 2%. all tooltips will show the chance of missing (no more "this attack has a moderate chance to miss").


a number of basic attacks will now have a small (5-15%) chance to miss, instead of using the baseline. to compensate for the reduced accuracy, the damage for these attacks will be increased 5-15%. these attacks are mainly the no-frills attacks pets typically get at level 1, such as chomp, diseased bite, and water jet. the thinking is, players will find it more fun if they can opt-in to a baseline chance to miss, rather than have it imposed on them. for the full details, go here.

so what does it mean? for starters, it's a blow to healing. healing abilities were never subject to the 5% baseline (how would you dodge your own heal), so they gain nothing while attacks are getting a 10% buff. the other effect that i can see possibly coming from this will be in pvp.

a lot of pet battle players have shown themselves to be extremely averse to the element of chance. therefore, i expect them to avoid using the attacks with a chance to miss, whenever possible. and this may be something that can be used against them. look at it this way: an attack that does 10% more damage when it hits but misses 10% of the time means that most of the time i'll be doing a little better than my opponent, and some of the time i'll do a lot worse. over the long-term it all averages out, but so what? if i can win a bunch of fights by a small margin, i won't mind getting trounced every now and then. now, there's a lot else going on, and the most effective attacks are generally the more complex ones not getting the chance to miss treatment, so the ultimate impact may be too small to notice. but i will definitely be selecting these attacks when setting up pvp teams, and i'm very curious to see how it will all work out.