Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

MMO Champion’s Raiding Tactics Flowchart Makes Knowing Your Role Easy

Click the image above to embiggen and get a nice large version of the flowchart that you can, you know, bookmark or print out and put up next to your monitor, whatever it takes to remember your role in a raid or an instance.

The chart, which comes to us by way the fine folks at MMO Champion and was originally created by Aear, from guild Fierce Creatures of Bloodhoof-EU, does a really great job of boiling down raid responsibilities and roles into something that’s easy to follow and understand, regardless of the class you play – it’s really about the role that you play, and there are more than a few specific tips for people who play specific classes along the way.

Admittedly, these aren’t specific raid strats for specific instances or events or bosses – they’re general tips that, if you follow them 99% of the time, you’ll make out just fine in just about every dungeon or raid you join.

Visualize Raid Strategy with BossBlueprint

If you have a difficult time explaining to your raid or your guild exactly how they should move and where they should stand in a given raid encounter, or if you have people in your raid or guild that are be far visual learners and just don’t seem to be getting the hang of what you’re saying, Boss Blueprint might be a handy tool to help you build those raid strategies and share them with your raid members before the encounter so there’s no confusion.

The site only has support at the moment for Blackwing Descent, Throne of the Four Winds, and Bastion of Twilight, and the boss encounters therein – it would be really useful if the tool added more encounters and raids, even older ones that some people still run as practice or for fun – but it makes sense that the most recent content would be of primary interest to the people using Boss Blueprint.

The app then lets you add raid icons, raid roles, and directional arrows and zones to the map to indicate where players with ranged DPS should stand, where the healers should be, and where the tanks should be in relation to the boss, and other mobs and elements of the encounter that players should be aware of are located. You can drop big red circles on the ground to indicate places where you shouldn’t stand, arrows to tell players where they should move, and more.

Once you’re all finished, you can save your blueprint and share it with your raid either by downloading the JPG and posting it somewhere yourself, or by embedding the blueprint in another Web site.

Raid Ready Wants to Change the Way You Play WoW

This hilarious video (hit the link to see it in HD at YouTube) is one of three that have been unlocked over a Raid Ready, all designed to give you a little bit of a clue as to what Raid Ready will be when it’s released.

Okay, the videos themselves don’t say too much, and that’s okay because they’re all hilarious – the one above is the first to be unlocked, and since then there’s another great one that parodies an eHarmony ad, and yet another that makes me feel awful for that poor guy – he just wanted his morning cup of joe.

Anyway, between the site and the videos, I had to find out what this Raid Ready business was all about, so I dropped the team there a line to find out what they’re planning and what they could tell me about it now.

I noted the air of mystery around the videos, and I asked what exactly Raid Ready was going to be: a Web site? A service? An add-on? A utility? A subscription service? What was the deal? Here’s what Stubby, one of the folks behind the scenes working on Raid Ready, had to say:

Raid Ready is a new way to measure the readiness of players and entire raids for certain content. In the past 3-4 years several methods have been introduced that give players what I feel are rather ambiguous ways of measuring their readiness for certain content. What’s wound up happening with all these methods is that we have several sites, add ons and calculators which give you either a number or a graph that tells you what you’re ready for and how you rank against other players. The problem with these systems is that they tend to use things which don’t matter to measure the capability of players. I’ll be 100% honest. The only real thing that matters is a player’s ability, but there’s no true way to measure that outside of having that player in your raid and seeing how they perform.

Raid Ready doesn’t focus on iLevels or achievements to make it’s assessment of players or groups. Instead it takes the accumulated research on player stats and measures known good stats against the stats of players in your raid, allows for variance in stats to compensate for others and mathematically takes into account players who will make up for others in order to come up with an assessment that determines whether a raid can find success in the content they’re attempting. The idea is not to tell a raid leader that their raid will pull content off but to give them a better understanding of what they’re taking in so they can be better prepared and build strategies accordingly. This is really just a small part of what we intend to do but at it’s core this is what Raid Ready is.

So, I asked, it’s more about understanding the overall “talent” of a player, as opposed to his or her gearscore or total HP or DPS averages, right? Some way to determine how a player will likely perform overall, not just a stack of numbers that supposedly define them, right? Stubby replied:

Somewhat a look at talent. It does take some level of understanding of a class to be able to stat properly, but more to the point it’s about knowing whether the group as a whole based on the known required stats can pull off the task at hand. In that way, yes, our approach is much more holistic and takes the character into account over gear.

Very interesting – so we still don’t know how Raid Ready will do what they’re planning to do, but the concept is exciting regardless – imagine as a raid leader having the ability to understand the capabilities of your group and whether you have the right mix of talent, stats, and skills to get the job done, as opposed to just staring at some potentially non-representative piles of numbers that supposedly will help you make a judgement call on your own.

We’ll have to wait and see what the folks behind Raid Ready have up their sleeve, but the prospect is exciting, and the videos are more than entertaining!

Blizzard Unveils World of Warcraft Game Guide

One of the features recently added to the new community site is Blizzard’s brand new World of Warcraft Game Guide, which is designed to give people who may not be familiar with the now 6-year-old MMORPG an idea of what the game is, what MMORPGs are, and what all the fuss is about.

The guide walks you through what World of Warcraft is, how you play the game and how to interact with people in the game, and offers a great resource for people who either just don’t get why people love this game, or – heaven forbid – just don’t know what the game is about or why you should play. The new guide also branches off to race and class specific pages so you can learn more about the races in Azeroth and the classes you can choose to play in the game.

In the end, it’s a perfect resource if you’re trying to entice new players, or if you’re faced off against someone who doesn’t seem to understand and you want something they can read so you don’t have to explain to them.

MMO Champion :: Updated Class Previews for Cataclysm

Gotten your fill of class preview information yet? MMO Champion has compiled a list of the most recent updates to the class previews and presented them in a very simple to navigate and use series of posts.

In lieu of having to do it myself, head on over and take a look and see what’s in store for your class when Cataclysm comes!

Rawr Helps You Plan Your Gear Upgrades


Back in the BC days it was easier to plan your gear upgrades – there were certain well agreed-upon items that were clearly best-in-slot, and just about every class knew which instance they should head to in order to get specific upgrades. With the flurry of 5-man instances, the addition of a couple of 10-man instances, and new hard-modes and heroics where the gear that drops from the same instance is of higher quality, it’s a little more difficult these days to really plan out your upgrades, especially if you’re looking at getting the gear required to get into some of those 25-man hard-modes.

Thankfully there’s Rawr, a tiny little portable app that you can use to test out upgrades, various enchants and gems, and to see how your stats will be affected if you choose one piece of gear over another potential one. Since Rawr is completely portable, once you download it you can drop it on a USB flash drive and carry it around with you. You may need to do the extensive Armory or WoWhead update once to make sure you have all of the source information for all of the items correct, but once you’ve done it, you can load your character from the Armory and see what items make the most sense for your character.

The video above is pretty long, but it’s an incredibly detailed tour of the application and all of the things you can do with it. Now that getting badges and getting geared up is as simple as running a few random dungeons using the Dungeon Finder, it’s more important than ever to know whether or not you want something when it drops from a boss, and to know what you should get when you have a bag full of badges and no idea what to spend them on. Download the app and give it a try!

Get Stats on Your Server at


If you’re looking for some information on your realm, like what the horde-to-alliance ratio is, or how many alliance paladins you have on your server versus how many rogues there are, WarcraftRealms can give you all of the information you’re looking for. Just head over to the realm data page and look up your server to see everything you wanted to know about the population of your server.

The data is mined from a combination of the Armory and user submissions using the WarcraftRealms add-on, so it’s only really accurate for characters over level 10 that have made it into the armory, but if you’re interested in lending the project a hand on your server, you can download the utility and use it to help bolster the site’s database. In the interim though, the service probably has more information about your realm than you thought you wanted.

Which Class is the Easiest to Level?

hunter class logo

A little while ago, I polled my friends at Twitter (you can follow me at @halophoenix, by the way) to find out what the WoW players I know think are the easiest classes to level.

Old wisdom has always been that hunters and warlocks are the easiest to level because you almost had a second character there to help you in the form of a hunter’s pet or a warlock’s summon. I’ve played both classes and found them pretty easy to level, but my main is a hunter and the lock I play is pretty small, so I was curious what other people thought.

Are Death Knights the automatic winner because they start at 55, and the biggest help to leveling is getting rid of those 55 levels to grind? At the same time, retribution paladins have gotten a lot of dps love lately – are they easier to level? I’m playing a ret pally alt right now and she seems to blow through levels faster than I can get her gear for them. What about warriors? Has the nerf stick hit them so hard no one plays them anymore? And what happened to all of the rogues?

Well, the Twitterati came through in a big way. While no one really agreed on a specific class that’s definitely the easiest to level, some trends appeared. There was “easy classes” to level, and there were “unrewarding and completely too difficult” classes to level.

draenei paladin

Among the winners? Shadow priests, retribution paladins (as expected), hunters of all specs (also expected), and one passionate vote for warlocks even though they had their hayday a few patches ago and no one seems to play them much anymore. My good friends @nanceinsnow and @transrelativity both weighed in in support of shdow priests, locks, and of course, hunters. (although nance’s dps output is making me want to change specs from BM to survival…) The trend seems to be that dps classes are the easiest, which makes sense – they’re designed for damage output, which makes questing and grinding that much faster. The only class to buck the trend were death knights (suggested by my guildmate Yoshi, who tanks with a 2-hander with style), which were easy not just because of their massive DPS but also because they start at 55, and sure enough – skipping 55 levels makes a difference.

prot warrior

Among the losers? Restoration druids, protection warriors and paladins, and elemental shaman. (unless you’re a multi-boxer and have enough of them to one-shot elites 5 levels above you!) The trend there isn’t so clear. I can understand why prot-spec’d anyone would be difficult to level: you’re specced for damage absorption, not output. Resto druids I can understand too – healing classes are designed for, well, healing. Elemental shamans I was confused by though.

holy priest

One stand-out though: a good friend in my guild, @tongarityphoon pointed out that she thought holy priests were the easiest to level. I boggled; holy priests? Cloth-wearing healers? Easy to level? How could that possibly be? She insisted; it was the easiest class to level she’d ever played. I’m still skeptical: I might have to roll one to find out.

So what about you? What classes have you played that you found particularly easy to level? Does it matter where in the cycle of patches from launch it was? Rogues and enhancement shaman were in vogue about a year ago, as were warlocks; everyone was playing them. Then along came the nerf train and the new expansion and it seems like everyone who played a rogue now plays a death knight. Additionally, you can’t find someone to pick up all the caster plate that drops in Naxx to save your life.

Maybe it’s a function of which class is on top at the moment, but some classes are consistently easy to grind. Let us know your picks in the comments!

Find a Build Worth Using with TalentChic

Talent Chic

Talent Chic

Now that 3.0.2 is out and about, a lot of you are likely struggling to find a build that works for you. Sure, the talent calculators have been out and about for a while, but people are finally getting an opportunity to (outside of the beta, of course) test out the builds and the abilities and see if they’re yielding the results that everyone thought they would and see what kind of performance they get.

The trouble for those of us who have been dissapointed with the results or are looking for some guidance from folks who have more time, energy, and effort to put into theorycrafting than we do (or are just plain lazy), there’s TalentChic!

To get the most out of TalentChic, select your class from the menu on the left side, select the spec you want to go, and you’ll immediately be taken to the most popular talent builds for the various classes and specs in the game. The site pulls its information from the Armory, so you’re not necessarily seeing what’s best, just what’s most popular.

The most popular builds are at the top of the page and shown with the most stars, and you can click on any of the particular builds to go to the talent calculator and see how they play out and where everyone has been putting their talent points. You can also filter based on what you plan to do with the build – as in if you’re looking for a build that’s specifically good for PvP, PvE, questing, grinding, raiding, or more.

The information is good, and I used it to help validate my selections for my ret pally and my BM hunter. Again, the service doesn’t tell you whether or not the build is good – just whether or not it’s popular; and it’s fair to mention that just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it worth doing – so take all of the builds with a grain of salt; maybe the most popular ones aren’t the ones for you, but they’re great starting off points where you can make your own choices. Enjoy!

WoWhead Releases Item Comparison Tool

See, this is the reason WoWhead has surpassed others like Thottbot and Alla in usefulness to me. I still do most of my searches over at WoWwiki, but when I need item information or quest information, it’s WoWhead all the way.

Now the fine folks at WoWhead have released something I’ve been dying for for a long time now, an easy way to compare two items that isn’t somewhat busted like Blizzard’s own “Find an Upgrade” feature on the Armory is. WoWhead’s Item Comparison Tool allows you to distinctly compare two items, multiple items, or even item sets against one another to see which is superior in the areas that matter to you.

See above? That’s where I’m comparing the Season 2 hunter PVP set against the Tier 4 hunter PvE set to see the differences. The tool couldn’t be easier to use – simply click to add an item and type in the name of the item or the item set to add it to the tool and get instant results. Never again will you have to go wondering if a specific item is an upgrade or not…unless that is, unless you’re in-game and have to make a snap decision once it’s dropped. Roll on it and decide later, I say! It’d be cool though if a tool like this came in the form of an add-on (are you listening, add-on developers?)!

Thanks much to one of my favorite WoW bloggers, Big Red Kitty for breaking the story!

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