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KimmoKM

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KimmoKM last won the day on October 11

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  1. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    The differences are blown out of proportion. Realistically, they are almost meaningless, valued at less than a week's worth of gear, so in PvE context the effects are felt by guilds going for realm firsts, and beyond that point it doesn't really matter seeing as that, by having progressed slower and utilizing gear from more resets, you've already been compensated for and then some relative to racially advantaged but undergeared guilds who still managed to clear the content (if the strongest guild is Horde to begin with, on Hellground relaunch for example Autismus Ultimus was three resets ahead of everyone else as Alliance). In PvP it's at least arguably a bigger, but only a very small minority of playerbase is serious about minigames anyway. And indeed, historically TBC servers often had fairly balanced populations without any efforts to balance them because in actuality very few people care enough about racials to let them influence their choice of faction. This problem is real but it is a new one, caused by feedback loop of some recent servers having had lopsided population, which makes Alliance-leaning players anxious to roll on a dead faction where they might get outnumbered 2 to 1 in world PvP (66-33 pop) or being unable to find suitable guilds, making them go Horde as a safety measure, and now even the more faction-loyal folks might have to reconsider. Funnily enough, by having this discussion we are propagating the problem. However, the cat is out of the bag and, as you say, the fate of the server could be decided on day 1, with any adjustments done after the fact likely having little to no impact. After all, who would roll on 80-20 slaughterhouse of a faction even if you leveled twice as quickly or had an extra grand saved up from free riding skills? If a thousand people rolled simultaneously it would be fine, but we'd be living in a post-scarcity eutopia if that sort of coordination problems were easy.
  2. KimmoKM

    Dual talents on TBC

    Besides, feral is among the strongest solo specs, prot paladins are really good at AoE grinding in areas like Black Temple, so only prot warriors actually draw the short straw. And then Blizzard added daily quests to the game in 2.1, addressing that problem too.
  3. KimmoKM

    Nightbane Timeline

    Well, technically they even had Hyjal, although it was even further from being finished than T5 was, and no one got there prior to patch 2.1 anyway. Anyhow, besides the issue of only having T4 at launch not being Blizzlike, it's worth noting there's only three 25-man bosses in T4, which isn't exactly ideal for 25-man guilds. Moreover, having T5 available at launch has an additional benefit in that the first guilds entering there will do it comparatively undergeared, making content that much more difficult, while still keeping it doable for worse/more casual guilds once they have farmed heroics and Karazhan for a couple of resets. Content receiving indirect nerfs from gear gathered each reset is a wonderful and elegant mechanic, and you shouldn't ruin it for no good reason by allowing people to farm near-BiS equipment before being able to enter.
  4. KimmoKM

    What's up with the PvE difficulty?

    I don't think there's doubt in anyone's minds about 4/5 Hyjal and 4/9 BT being substantially easier than killing Kael and Vashj, and while I guess it's reasonable for some early bosses to be easier as a reward of sorts for beating T5, more than half the tier being free loot if you just can access it goes a bit too far. However, in my personal opinion it's not just those bosses but pretty much the entirety of the tier: Archimonde too is an easy fight in terms of numbers and coordination (individual mistakes can fuck the whole raid over, yes, but comparing apples to apple-aspects-of-Archimonde, he's not tough at all), and in BT only Illidari Council starts approaching parity with T5 end bosses... and that's if your point of comparison is 2.1 values for T5 rather than 2.0 never mind pre-nerf! Hell, even Illidan has just one tough phase (P2), the rest of the fight being a mere formality.
  5. KimmoKM

    What's up with the PvE difficulty?

    I think, more so than strict Blizzlikeness (which can be a bit problematic, more on that later), there's two other criteria that should be preferred: 1. Consistent difficulty. One of the problems on Angrathar was inconsistent difficulty. To an extent this is an issue on Blizzlike Wrath too, seeing as that 5-mans and T7 are faceroll trivial, Ulduar NMs are substantially tougher, Ulduar HMs are overwhelmingly more difficult than anything previously seen, and then TOGC is easier than Ulduar. However, inconsistent custom tuning made this worse: The gap between OS (both raid sizes)/Naxx10, and Naxx25/EoE, was overwhelming. Ulduar was arguably even worse: unlike Naxx25 that featured fairly consistent difficulty across bosses and then Malygos being one step above that, NMs were easy even for the weaker guilds (due to not compensating for final patch talents) but even the easiest of hardmodes would have proved overwhelming and not worth attempting for a lot of guilds that managed to clear normal. Moreover, even if you did beat Orbit-uary and perhaps Yogg+1 (final boss HM being a contender for the easiest hardmode fight doesn't seem right either) or XT-002, the gap between them and the easier keepers was a wide gulf, and the difference between Knock*3/Firefighter was wider still. There was no gradual progression from boss to boss with loot from each new boss conquered helping you to beat the tougher ones, with some steps being worlds apart. From what I've understood, realm first Grand Crusader went to a guild that hadn't beaten Freya HM yet, even after the nerfs! The gap between required execution and raid composition was just that wide. How does that relate to TBC? Well, for starters, if you go with pre-2.1 tuning on heroics and provably Blizzlike tuning on Karazhan, the raid is far easier, which seems backwards. Similarly, T5 is notorious for being broken at launch, but if you settle for the final, fixed, versions that actually were killed, most of them would be easier than the most original versions of Gruul and Magtheridon. Similarly, most of T6 is easier than most of T5, and then SWP is again a huge leap. If you pick one standard and apply it across the board, you'll likely end up with a bizarre, often backwards, difficulty curve, and as seen from Angrathar, that's not such a good thing. Final patch tuning wouldn't have the issue at quite this severity, but we want (and need, due to knowledge and experience advantage) some approximation of "pre-nerf". 2. Maintaining Blizzlike IDENTITY of content. For example, the pre-nerf versions of Gruul and Magtheridon are remembered as though Blizzard had designed them for 40-man raids. T5, as mentioned previously, was notorious for being utterly broken, with some bosses changed around a bunch before they were even worth attempting, and the end bosses enjoying a legendary status as some of the longest-lived bosses in the game. The thing is, if you present contemporary high-end guilds with versions that retail guilds from back in the day managed to kill, they'll go down immediately. Conversely, you obviously can't have bosses bugged the same way Kael was, say, and on the other hand, a boss like Morogrim Tidewalker probably wasn't bugged, just too difficult to even bother with his original incarnation with water elemental spawns etc. The thing is, if you managed to implement pre-nerf post-bugfix versions with exactly the same values retail had, some bosses might be impossible even for contemporary guilds, some bosses like Morogrim might be really tough but doable, and then you'd have bosses like Kael being comparatively easy. T5 tuning is such a moving target that, even if you did pick one standard of values you'd use, and managed to research them accurately with no doubt about the values being the most original pre-world first values, difficulty would be all over the place, often times in contradiction with how difficult bosses are perceived. And then there's the feasibility of figuring out the "pre-nerf" state to consider. Take a boss like Curator for instance: I think there are compelling reasons to think he used to have damage reduction shield outside of evocation phase: there are some old forum posts talking about something to that effect, and Astral Armor spell ID is right next to his other spells. I think it's very probable Curator was changed some time early, but can you find definite sources like combat logs from the first week or two when he presumably still had this ability? Maybe, but I haven't seen any. What about Morogrim Tidewalker water elementals? From what I've seen in discussions from early 2007, guilds didn't even bother to try him. How are you going to find values for their health, damage, spawn locations, anything? Maybe there in fact are reliable sources for some of these details that I'm not aware of - I'm not omniscient so there will definitely be at least some of them - but most likely there will be a lot of times when you have to come up with values yourself by just guessing, or playing it safe and leaving some bosses in their real pre-nerf state and others at something substantially easier, because you couldn't find any proofs... which might well result in backwards difficulty curve discussed earlier. Personally, I think it's just more convenient to go with Corecraft values. They meet the two criteria I outlined earlier while at least some of the values definitely being pre-nerf Blizzlike, and given that they obviously didn't custom tune everything, some of the questionable stuff might be based on real research with original sources no longer available. However, you shouldn't treat them as immutable gospel either: while many T5 bosses haven't been tested by serious guilds, I think some values might be on unfairer side of things and would be better off with adjustments. For example, when we were doing Leotheras with a dying guild on Hellground, he seemed doable, but dealing with Inner Demons seemed a bit too overwhelming for a few classes like shadow priests even provided all the help you can give them (earth shields etc). Conversely, Fathom-Guard Tidalvess seemed a bit too RNG for my tastes with potential for windfury 1-shots.
  6. KimmoKM

    Dual talents on TBC

    If you can change roles at will, it's not "specialization" anymore, is it? I sympathize with people who want to PvP at their leisure instead of having to dedicate certain parts of the week to PvP side of things, so as to avoid respec costs becoming overwhelming. I kinda sorta sympathize with warrior tanks and healers too, although their grinding disability was the reason Blizzard added dailies and after 2.1 content it kinda works out just fine. However, TBC isn't designed with the expectation of being able to switch roles at will. Being able to DPS in tank spec is a feature unique to ferals. You are supposed to do bosses like Shade of Aran with the two tanks doing the best, as opposed to brute forcing it with specs optimal for the fight. Moreover, one of the reasons (basically the only reason, in fact) you can have novel builds in the game is conflicting interests demanding different optimization criteria. By having troublesome respecs, some people actually go for hybrid builds rather than the cookie-cutter min/max ones. Systems like the one Hellground used to have make respecs bearable for the people who really really want and need to respec regularly, while having minimal overall impact on the mechanic's status as a gold sink and not interfering with its intended purpose. As far as I'm concerned, they are fine. Going any beyond that, however, fixes a non-existent problem. Respec is supposed to sting, because it's a specialization, and getting rid of that sting removes hybrid builds, unique strengths of feral spec, indirectly nerfs a number of encounters, reduces the incentive to build a network of trusted peers to run dungeons with, and a whole range of other undesirable outcomes.
  7. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    People haven't argued against it in text, but I'd hardly say there's a widespread agreement of it being a good idea: After all, custom redesigns are at 20% in the poll. I for one would be against such a change because it's a permanent unblizzlike feature affecting endgame, and one you cannot realistically revoke without causing utter outrage (supposing your intent was to achieve faction balance, and you either end up hitting your target or, worse, overshooting it). On principle, efforts to balance population should be achieved through least invasive methods available, ie. those that don't have lasting impact in endgame. Moreover, I think it changes the identity of factions, identity arguably being a bigger deal than exact replication of Blizzlike details (one example of preserving identity over blizzlikeness would be custom buffs to compensate for patch and/or knowledge advantage, achieving original level of subjective difficulty, ie. keeping content remembered as hard, as hard), and the identity of Alliance in TBC is the faction with the better tanking seal, the identity of Horde is the faction with the better DPS seal, and the identity of TBC as an expansion is one in which some degree of faction diversity still existed. However, probably more importantly, I think this falls squarely in the category of things you might do to make TBC better if you started making custom changes in general, not in the category of things that would achieve more even faction balance. After all, most players don't pick a faction (or race) on min/maxing grounds as it is. And if you are actually in the business of picking the stronger faction, be it for PvP or PvE, that faction still remains Horde. Instead, I believe the main force driving people away from Alliance is the fear of ending up in a dead, severely outnumbered, faction, and a couple of more ret pallies going ally isn't the kind of credible signal or a rallying call that would convince people on the fence that the other people on the fence (most of whom are not ret pallies) might go Alliance after all.
  8. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    This makes sense, up to a point. I agree that most players are not min/maxers, as demonstrated by unoptimal races regularly being popular, and that typically you'd be getting faction balance close to 50-50 on grounds of the playerbase's aesthetic preferences having a roughly even split. Indeed, historically TBC servers too have maintained a rather healthy balance between the factions. However, exemplified by the existence of this thread, a fear of Alliance side becoming a dead faction has emerged and it is now something that will factor into people's mental calculus when choosing sides. As I mentioned in my previous post, Hellground relaunch was actually pretty much fine (at first)! However, by the time server got shut down by "B" and later re-relaunched as Wargate, situation on the Alliance side became unbearable (the balance had already started tipping towards Horde, but at that point the scales broke, causing a rout of people just quitting or rerolling Horde). I don't know/remember if that was the exact point in which Alliance in TBC started becoming perceived as the low-population faction in the private server community by large, but it certainly reinforced this idea and seems to be the case now, some servers ending up being dominated by Horde or ending up even-ish despite providing perks to Alliance. For example, we (Autismus Ultimus) decided to play Alliance for the benefit of the server, but after the re-relaunch Alliance proved to be a simply untenable environment for a high-end guild, and this fear now exists for every new project as well - by playing Horde, you can rest assured knowing it's AT WORST going to be at parity in terms of economy and pool of recruits. I was in favor of playing Alliance (for server-balancing reasons, I have no preference one side or the other beyond mechanical advantage of Horde, and in a 50-50 split server I'd unquestionably go Horde) and I have not changed my mind in that sense, but without some assurance of Alliance being a viable option, I would not play there again and I'm sure a lot of people are thinking the same thing. This all snowballs, and at the end of the day you have lots of folks unwilling to play Alliance. This is not the whole private server population: a lot of folks would play blood elves, say, purely for aesthetic reasons, but it is a sizable slice of people more in touch with the private server communities, presumably even more so among the high-end players (the demographic already most incentivized to go Horde for the sake of better racials and seal). As you point out, I don't think there's any innate preference to play Horde in most people's minds. But a new coordination problem has seemingly emerged, and given that you can't just assign each player/guild to a faction with no opportunity to appeal, you have to find some way to find a way to achieve a equilibrium, providing some kind of perk to Alliance being one way to achieve that: people on the fence pick Alliance since they know the perk will also affect decisions by other people on the fence, and you'll probably end up with something close to what you'd get if this whole phenomenon didn't exist. Certainly, I wouldn't expect any reasonable advantage to overshoot the balance point and make Alliance the bigger faction (for example, Warmane has had strong boost to Alliance in various events and the current population allegedly still remains Horde-favored at 4.05k/3.45k H/A), making it a rather risk-free endeavor. Maybe a series of reasonably balanced servers will cause the idea of Alliance population disadvantage to fade into obscurity as servers can also revoke Alliance-favoring policies,ending up with people forgetting all of this was even a thing, but here and now, I think it is a realistic concern.
  9. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    I don't recall Hellground doing anything of the sort, be it the original server (which I remember being decently balanced) or the relaunch. Maybe Wargate did before it kicked the bucket too? However, the balance was irrecoverably screwed at that point: the server actually launched with tolerable balance (40-60 or something to that effect, it might even have been closer than that), but it started snowballing from there. After the relaunch as Wargate, the situation was already untenable: even as the sever first guild leading the competition by a few weeks, we didn't have the recruits to fill a raid, never mind Alliance having a healthy scene that could have supported more than one high-end guild, and even extreme advantages wouldn't have been enough to convince a player to join the dead faction facing an insurmountable disadvantage in world PvP. What I'm getting at is that the current ratio of players matters as much as any incentive in a vacuum. Playing in a slightly outnumbered faction could even considered advantageous since that's enough to provide you with instant PvP queues while not affecting world PvP by a whole lot (you have .48 potential allies who might be around to each of your opponent's .52 potential allies, big deal), or by allowing you to grab all the top players from your faction while the opposing one has two would-be server first guilds competing for recruits. On the other hand, if the balance tips too match to one side or the other, life on the lesser faction becomes untenable. Large-scale coordination, like entire guilds switching factions, might help, but when you are making decisions concerning yourself, would you join a faction that doesn't have ANY respectable raiding guilds? Or that's constantly outnumbered in Skettis even if you go there in a full party? At that point the answer is no, and you're not going to have a good time even if you were given a free 70.
  10. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    By the way, while I'm in agreement that something should be done, there's one major omission in the poll: "No changes are needed".
  11. KimmoKM

    Faction imbalance

    That would nullify any prior Alliance advantage in terms of XP, seeing as that Outland funnels players to fewer number of zones where you'll certainly be outnumbered (whereas on Azeroth you can at least gain local superiority by leveling in a group, or by coasting on the advantage provided by leveling on less contested 1-20 zones), and you will be, because you don't need to be super-hardcore to get to 60 in "a couple of weeks" with 2x rates and there will be plenty of Horde players. - Other servers apparently have used free riding skill to successfully balance the server and from the suggestions I've come across, that category of solutions seems the most reasonable. For starters, we know from experience it's a strategy that can be successful. Secondly, it definitely doesn't provide a permanent advantage: the advantage is a specific constant amount of gold, and a few hour's investment from any Horde player will cause this advantage to dissipate. Thirdly, it has reduced impact in influencing the race for T4 firsts: gold farmed by the guild's first 70s can be traded to slower levelers, enabling them to purchase flying mount and start working on their Karazhan attunement as soon as they hit 70 (time from level 1 to Karazhan is more or less constant), while solutions such as higher XP rates unquestionably increase the speed of guild's progression. Personally, I think reduced training cost would be the preferable option in this category. It essentially amounts to the same overall effect in the long term (each Alliance player effectively receives a small stash of gold), but the effects of more convenient leveling are felt as soon as you save up enough silver to buy a 6-slotter bag, and in some sense it's a change that can be thought of as correction to an unblizzlike 2x experience rates ("you make half the gold by spending half the time performing acts that grant you gold -> halve the costs -> your purchasing power at any given level is normalized to Blizzlike levels"), rather than being a new category of unblizzlikeness. If you follow this line of reasoning further, halving training costs prior to level 55/60 arguably makes the most sense, although in that case you might also want to halve 60% riding skill cost so as to maintain sufficient level of incentive, or just discard my outlined logic and reduce costs till the end.
  12. I know anecdotes of retail of guilds that finished TOGC25 with 50 attempts left, went back to Ulduar in ilvl258 gear AND HAD MORE TROUBLE FINISHING T8 (even excluding Yogg+0). Of course, there are factors like motivation with Ulduar gear being obsolete and all by then, but Blizzlike post-nerf Ulduar is substantially tougher than TOGC ever was, especially when it comes to execution rather than pure numbers. Here we're not even comparing it to post-nerf Ulduar but one that still retains (or so I'm lead to believe) the PTR "pre-nerf" tuning, making the gap wider still.
  13. Many of the custom changes were rather inconsequential, like Emergency Mode on Mimiron going from +30% HP+damage on Mimiron to +40%/35% HP/damage, now also affecting the P3 adds. Some of the bosses had custom buffs on the extreme side of things, like XT-002 Heartbreaker health buff going from +50% HP to +220%, but the toughest encounters would have maintained that status even with all custom changes reverted. The thing is, "pre-nerf" here meant PTR versions that never saw live servers, and often these things were changed for a reason. Say, PTR values for tree buffs pushing unavoidable damage on Freya past the threshold of most HP pools, necessitating paladin stacking for raid sacs and even that wasn't quite enough to stop people from getting sniped. At the end of the day Ulduar turned out not to be a disaster, but it wasn't too far off. The difficulty gap between the Keepers and everything else, as well as Mimiron/Freya to Hodir/Thorim, was enormous. Yogg+1, the hard mode of the end boss, was arguably the easiest hardmode besides Flame Leviathan (It's "supposed" to be easier than the likes of Firefighter, but not the easiest of the lot). Freya, a boss that wasn't known for her difficulty in retail, was the hardest fight in the tier and is complete bullshit with RNG snipes (and her original state with 12s shrooms was outrageously horrible). Vezax necessitated an unhealthy degree of class stacking but is still easy if you have the right comp, and while we're on topic of raid setups, Yogg+0 hardly needs mentioning (although, at the end of the day it's a prestige achievement rather than "real content" so whatever). Honestly, "pre-nerf" is a bit of a meme. What's more important is to maintain a satisfying difficulty progression between encounters provide a suitable level of challenge for high-end guilds while still keeping the bosses within reach of mid-end guilds (capable casuals, uninspired tryhards and well-led unremarkables) through indirect nerfs from gear preserve the identity of encounters, both in terms of their reputation and how the encounters can be completed in practice Sunwell didn't do too well in terms of point number one. In regards to the second one, some of the higher-end guilds didn't even attempt a number of them for the longest while (not without justification, considering what happened to the old #2 progressed guild), and without changes they would have been forever out of reach for most of the players. Finally, while Sunwell Ulduar is good at allowing you to play encounters straight instead of using unblizzlike exploits, the difficulty curve of the raid is screwed up and some encounters require min/maxing to an extreme degree not seen in the retail days. Indeed, I think "being Blizzlike" would be better understood as preserving the identity of content, rather than fighting a losing battle of getting the numbers right when they are wrong by default, thanks to the patch difference in mechanics. And then there are places where you don't want to be Blizzlike in any sense because Blizzlike is just garbage, like the tuning on T7 and T9. Sartharion aside, I think T7 actually was really nicely tuned. Had Naxx and EoE been available from the start instead of giving everyone time to go for pre-raid BiS, even top-end guilds would have spent a while progressing (original Malygos probably would have gone down quickly, thanks to slow P1 making the fight easier, but the fixed version likely would have survived more than one reset), and for the most part it actually made you care about mechanics that are often ignored even in Naxxes with numerically more extreme buffs. T9, I think, would be best served by similar treatment, even changing mechanics a bit, similar to Malygos and some of the Naxx bosses. What you have to realize is that TOC is OUTRAGEOUSLY TRIVIAL. Numerically, the normal mode could unironically be likened to Naxx, and even in TOGC very few mechanics are impactful enough to matter. Health buff doesn't do anything at all to fix that issue and only serves to makes the difficulty, such as it is, more about min/maxing the numbers rather than doing the mechanics properly.
  14. To be fair, TOGC25 being substantially easier than Ulduar, even when both are done with TOC25 gear, is Blizzlike.
  15. KimmoKM

    25-Man Raid Comp for TBC

    There's a number of encounters that are very much hostile to melee so you don't want a second melee group for progression raiding. Whether you'd ideally want to run a tank group and a melee group or if you go with one that includes the warrior tank (prot+arms+enhancement+ret+rogue) depends on the encounter, but when thinking of a general progression raiding setup, always gravitate towards less melee. Tank group fury (without enhancement shaman buffs no less) and hunter group enha (enha in hunter group in itself is fine) bring you to the nasty territory. On a lot of encounters the setup is fine, even ideal (hell, if you were to speedkill Brutallus or something, you'd be running two dedicated melee groups), but you don't want 7 melee in your core roster because you'd really want to bench them sometimes. You can sometimes make an argument for spirit buff spec on disc, maybe even for PS on very specific circumstances that could come up in buffed (or pre-world first state of pre-nerf) content, but generally speaking disc isn't a PvE spec in TBC. Even with the modest amount of physical damage in one melee group and one hunter group, you want to run one of the hunters as survival. That would be a complete no-brainer if you did run extra melee, as in your setup. Balance personal DPS+raid DPS contribution is close to +-0 kind of deal relative to another mage/lock, but in the end it's close on the - side of things. It's not a disaster but running balance isn't optimal either. Fill in the rest with locks, mages and a shadow priest. The best-geared casters (supposing they can adjust their hit gear accordingly) with the ele shaman, you can mix healer and caster groups as needed. The exact party setup depends on the necessities of the boss and your exact raid composition.
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