Now what?

This will be a disjointed post, but it reflects my current feelings about the game. I really don’t know where I am in my enjoyment of it, if indeed I am even still “enjoying” it. I just don’t know.

Last night I stepped out of the morass that is Draenor and revisited some of my favorite legacy areas. Places like Uldum, Tanaris, and all of Pandaria. I got out my favorite flying mount and swooped and soared to my heart’s content, taking in what I believe were Blizz’s finest art designs. Designs that cannot ever be truly appreciated from the ground, designs that inspire and delight when viewed from the air. This, I thought, this was Blizz at its best. This was art and design made by passionate, creative, talented people who loved what they did.

I dipped down in Pandaria and traveled awhile on my chopper, and I saw that this zone’s design was so rich that it gave me an entirely different experience on the ground — complex, varied, and with unexpected visual rewards just as I rounded a corner or trekked through a jungle.

The Blizz that designed Pandaria knew how to deliver a product for all of its player base. That Blizz welcomed challenge and met it head on, taking joy in showing they were more than a match for it. They gave us visual content at its very best.

But ultimately visiting these areas was sad for me, because I knew that I would never experience any of it again except by revisiting legacy areas. I realized that among other things it has done to weaken the game for me, Blizz has killed the joy of anticipation. I cannot make myself get excited over 6.2 because it will be nothing more than an undisguised rerun of the worst parts of WoD. More slogging around on the ground even at level, increased garrison chore load, even less relevant professions, class imbalances so great as to make some specs unplayable, crappy gear that can be bought with gold at prices as exorbitant and ridiculous as the Apexis crystal price, and “new” flying mounts that will never fly in Draenor or any future content and are just reskins of old mounts anyway.

Worse, I am so demoralized over this last weekend’s in-your-face announcement that I am pretty sure I won’t be able to work up any real enthusiasm over the next contraction expansion either. Blizz has made it clear that they are no longer about proudly doing the hard things and making them look easy. Instead, they are about cutting corners, about designing Potemkin Villages and telling us over and over how “rich” and “complex” they are, about setting up mechanisms that slow us down so we won’t notice there is very little content.

I doubt I will be logging on much for awhile. When 6.2 comes out, I’ll go through it at least with my hunters, because I’m not ready yet to give up raiding with my guild. But Tanaan will be simply a necessary means to an end, something to get through rather than enjoy.

The sad thing is, the fun I used to have running old dungeons and visiting old content is gone now. I used to have fun running Firelands for the mount, but now really what’s the point? Even if I get the drop, all I will be able to do with that magnificently-drawn mount in any current content is waddle around on the ground with it. Whoopie.

So thanks, Blizz, thanks for sucking the fun out of not only the current content, but also past and future contents.

I have started looking into Final Fantasy XIV. The new expansion, Heavensward, looks very promising and launches June 19 for early play, June 23rd for those who do not preorder. I did download the free 14 day trial on the current xpac, but unfortunately was unable to make it playable on my VMware Windows box — could not get more than 6 fps. (Yes, I play games on a Mac, don’t judge.) But Heavensward has a native Mac download, so I am very hopeful. I will definitely give it a serious try.

I am debating whether to unsub from WoW in the near future. Part of me says it would make a (microscopic) statement of protest, part of me says wait until after 6.2, part of me says get real you know you will stay with this game until the bitter end so quit fooling yourself. (Sometimes I do talk rather sternly to myself.)

I am foolishly now waiting to see what Blizz has to say for itself in the June 6 “Q&A” which clearly will be Watcher “A-ing” bogus watered-down “Q’s” designed to show brief “concern” over the reaction to the no flying decision and then quickly moving on to how exciting and content-packed 6.2 will be. The most I am expecting regarding flying is some vague hand-waving semi-promising to “relook” it possibly maybe in the future in some limited fashion, in hopes that those of us who want it to happen will be gullible enough to hang on and buy the next xpac. (Hey, that approach has worked for over a year, no reason it shouldn’t keep on working.)

Like the little kid diligently searching for a pony when presented with a room full of horse manure, I am furiously digging through this game to find the fun I know has to be hidden somewhere. Sadly, it is that reaction that makes me exactly the kind of player Blizz has come to love. . . .

Still not over it

My grandma, an eminent Western philosopher, used to admonish me to count to ten before I said or did anything when I was angry. You probably had a mom or grandma or someone who told you the same thing, it is a traditional way to wean children away from lizard brain reaction in favor of more rational neo-cortical actions.

So I have been counting since Watcher’s Friday afternoon bombshell about no flying ever again in World if Warcraft. Mostly, my counting has been in the form of staying away from the game, the forums, the blogs for most of the weekend.

Unfortunately, I am still counting. I should be over my initial anger, but I am still furious at Blizz over this and I have been trying to work out why. What I have decided is that Friday’s announcement was a perfect storm of hot-button issues for me.

Trust. Everyone who knows me IRL — whether they like me or not — will tell you that I am always true to my word. If I say I will do something, you can be confident that I will do it. This is because first of all I never say I will do anything unless I am certain that I can, and second of all if I have said I will do something then it becomes an absolute “must” for me. This is true whether it is a Big Life Event like wedding vows or a small favor like giving you a ride to the mall. There are plenty of times that I have regretted saying I will do something, because it has become inconvenient or difficult or costly to carry out, but I do it anyway because I have said I will.

I do everything I can to keep people’s trust in me, and I expect others to do the same.

When Watcher made his Friday announcement, it was a huge breach of trust. I realized this when I read a comment to The Grumpy Elf’s post yesterday. The person making the comment perfectly summed it up, so I will quote it for you:

There are many ways a company can screw up using the accountants guidance on how to be more profitable. Perhaps the single one thing most precious that is being spent, liberally like a fire hose pouring out water, is trust. Once trust is killed, trust that the developers are willing to make a good game with the fans in mind; once spent, it is extremely hard to get it back. That was the point I saw made time and again by the folks posting in the forum “Watcher says…” topic. The utterance of the words, by many and perhaps most, for the first time is a psychological effect that represents a breaking point. Sort of like the A.D. and B.C. timeline shift, there is a point before and a point after Trust is Broken. Life before the broken trust, if not rosy, was at least a bit optimistic that ultimately the game developers wanted the best for the game. Life after trust is broken, nothing said will re-establish it and every word will be parsed for duplicity. Blizzard is going to rue this Memorial weekend in my opinion for the loss of that trust.

(The “accountants guidance” referred to is an economic outlook opinion piece about Activision Blizzard. It is interesting reading, even if it is not mainstream economic thought on the company.)

Flawed logic. I was educated by Jesuits, and the elements of logic were pounded into me from a young age. I was taught to distinguish opinion from fact, and to detect logical flaws in arguments. In the process, I will admit, I became kind of a snob, quickly labeling anyone with sloppy arguments as an ignorant rube unworthy of further attention. I expect professionals to have a logical approach to their profession, and this expectation extends to companies when they discuss their products.

The idea that the game is more engaging or even more fun without flying is an opinion, as is the idea that flying in and of itself is fun. I happen to hold the latter opinion, but I recognize that it is just an opinion. Blizz apparently holds the former opinion, but they insist on presenting it as fact, by stating over and over again that no flying results in more fun because we are more “immersed.” So not only do they mistake opinion for fact, but they use their mistake as a club to beat down any player attempt to state contrary opinions.

The facts are that some part of the player base finds flying to be fun and integral to their game experience, and another part of the player base is happier when no one can fly. However, neither I nor Blizz has any idea how many players fall into each of those categories, because Blizz has never done any kind of meaningful poll or other action to determine this. The most anyone can infer is that there are significant numbers of customers in each category. To deliberately enrage either group by glorifying one opinion as fact seems to violate any standard of good solid business practice.

The idea that players will spend more time in the game “world” by removing the option of flying is not empirically supported — there is no flying in Draenor, and Blizz cannot show us any real evidence that proves players spend more time interacting with the world than we did in expansions that permitted flying. In fact, a huge body of anecdotal evidence points to the exact opposite. Yet they insist on using this “fact” to justify removing flying for the current and all future game expansions.

I am insulted and angered when anyone uses their position of power to shut down logical debates with opinion and false facts.

Disrespect. I have explained before that I tend to be naive when it comes to dealing with others. I know this about myself, but I do not care to change it. However, I hate it when I feel someone has taken advantage of me. I get furious when I think someone is using me and believes me too stupid to realize it.

For the last two years, Blizz has shown growing contempt for its WoW customers. They have demonstrated this contempt both passively and actively. Passively, they have ignored widespread and reasonable criticisms of WoD, refusing even to admit that there are significant problems with the basic implementations of it. Instead, they give us play pretties like selfie cameras and jukeboxes, as if we were children easily distracted by checkout counter toys. When they do admit a problem — as with the idea that garrisons are far too time consuming — they provide minuscule tweaks like the submit-all-workorder button and a new speed potion to “fix” the problem.

They assume that we will believe them when they tell us not to worry our dear little heads, they will fix the annoyance of convoluted taxi flights. Then they make a couple of very small changes and assure us now it is all better, when it clearly is not. But they have so little respect for us that they assume we will believe them, especially if they say it sternly and often.

They have actively shown disrespect multiple times by giving snide, snarky comments in response to legitimate customer concerns. They have shown active contempt for us by lying to us in big ways, for example by insisting for two years that garrisons are optional play, then suddenly making full garrison development a prereq for Patch 6.2. They have outright lied to us and deliberately led us to believe flying in Draenor would be reinstated at some point, apparently thinking no one would notice when they suddenly “announce” — in the most obscure way they could — no more flying.

In the face of an overwhelming outcry of protest, they show contempt for us by refusing to discuss anything on a holiday weekend (even though they deliberately chose this timing). They taunt us by featuring a new flying mount — flying over Draenor! — on their web page, and have the unmitigated gall to promote it as something we should spend real money on. (The ad is gone now, but it was there for at least 3 full days after the Friday announcement.)

Knowing what a major issue they have caused, they insult us further by telling us they probably will discuss it in two weeks, by responding to canned questions. Which by the way they will not even deign to say how we may submit questions for consideration for another week. In other words, “Yeah, yeah we hear you. Take a number. We’ll get back to you.”

No one likes to be thought of as a fool, and no one likes to be taken advantage of. But Blizz routinely and openly does both to its customers.

These three issues — breach of trust, insistence on flawed logic, and obvious disrespect — have all come together since Friday. They are possibly the three most hot button issues I have. And when they are all pressed at the same time, counting to ten will not even come close to making me cool off.

They add up to a pattern of odious business practices far greater than no flying ever again.

This is why I am still angry. I want Blizz to prove me wrong, and I will wait for awhile to see if they do. But not for long. I can only count so high.

This. Just this.

Today I have no thoughts about games. Today I remember the friends and comrades I have lost, those I knew and those I never got a chance to know.

Lest we forget

This could be my WoW killer

Well, now we know. No more flying in this or any subsequent WoW patches or expansions. Thus saith Watcher the Great and the infallible Blizz dev team. In what can only be described as breathtaking hubris, in a May 22 interview with Polygon, WtG explained how much better for us is his way of playing and bygod we can like it or lump it.

“The world feels larger, feels more dangerous,” he says. “There’s more room for exploration, for secrets, for discovery and overall immersion in the world. At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We’re not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that’s kind of where we’re at going forward.”

Hazziokostas confirms that this direction includes future expansions, though he doesn’t discount the possibility of adding flight options in to specific expansion ideas or zones that would benefit from it. In general, though, he believes that exploration in Blizzard’s massive world “works better and feels better in our view when you’re doing it from the ground.”

Blizz wants the world to feel larger.

Blizz wants us to think there’s more room.

Blizz thinks that our gameplay is better without flying.

Blizz feels better when we remain on the ground.

These are not reasons for keeping us from flying, they are sugar-coated lies designed to distract us from the fact that Blizz is pulling resources away from WoW, and they can stretch out the WoW money machine by forcing us to consume already-thin content as slowly as possible.

They have already stretched out the process for close to a year by coyly refusing to say if there would ever be flying in Draenor, possibly realizing that combining such an announcement with the debacle called WoD would be disastrous.

Step 1 of the squeeze-blood-from-the-turnip plan having been “stall,” they have now gone on to Step 2: explain to the mindless ditzes that are our customers that they will be much happier playing the game the way we tell them to. That should be good for several more months, especially if we hint that we may allow very limited flying in very limited places at some unspecified time in the future. Maybe.

And, just in case there are still some skeptics, trot out the never-fail fuzzy “fact” that unspecified people prefer to not fly.

Originally, Blizzard took out flying in Warlords of Draenor as an experiment, and Hazzikostas says he would have bet “slightly better than even money at the time” that they were going to bring it back eventually. But as they played the expansion and watched others play it, they discovered that they liked the game better without flying.

Of course, what this says is that Blizzard liked the game better without flying. Not the players. (And no, I don’t count that bogus forum “poll” everyone likes to cite. Even if it had been a legitimate reflection of the entire player base, which it most certainly was not, it still showed over 30% of players were in favor of flying. Blizz is the only business I ever heard of that could blithely ignore 30% of its customers and get away with it.)

I don’t know about you, but I am insulted that Blizz thinks I am stupid enough to believe that their concern for my game enjoyment is why they are no longer going to permit flying. And I am incensed that they have the [genital units] to tell me how I must play the game and what parts of it I must consider fun.

Here is the bottom line as far as I am concerned: Blizz has cut its WoW resources to the bone, and making three-dimensional play is just too resource-intensive for the final few patches and expansions. They are going to do them on the cheap, and are you sure you wouldn’t rather play Hearthstone anyway, or watch someone else play Heroes of the Storm?

By disallowing flying, Blizz can get by with creating much smaller spaces. They can ensure that players spend a lot of time just getting to their quest locations by making the taxi drop them off far away and by loading the final path up with mobs. So players go through content more slowly, hopefully making them think there is more content than there is. And holy moly they get to have this experience over and over and over again as they try to level and gear up alts. Really, by staying on the ground the fun never stops!

Not having to design three dimensionally — except for a few highly controlled areas where you can fall and jump — saves artistic and programming resources, resources that can be better used for developing Activision Blizzard “year round” games. (In the same vein, we can expect to see more and more “rerun WoW”, passed off to us as new content and “exciting” new innovations, such as time tunnels to existing areas and getting to running old instances in old gear.)

I might be able to cope with no flying ever again if I thought Blizz was telling the truth about why.

Look, we all know this ten year old game is on its last legs, and the reality is that we can no longer support extensive new content for an outdated game model. The development complexity added by flying is too much, but we’ll do whatever can to give you a couple more fun expansions.

That would be a Blizz comment I would respect, and it would show respect for the player base. But when they try to tell me a bald-faced lie and pass it off as being for my own good, that just makes me mad. I think it is getting very close to the final straw.

Of loot and Comcast

This will be a fairly short post, due to circumstances beyond my control. For several days now, Comcast has had lots of sporadic internet service problems, to the point where I never know if there will be service or not. Today it has been even worse, so I will try to minimize my annoyance meter by making this post fairly short.

Quick topic for today is that when 6.2 goes live, the great group loot vs personal loot debate should be over for all but the most hardcore raiding guilds. Yes, folks, we have it officially from Blizz:

We don’t usually provide exact drop percentages, and we’re still tweaking the bonus when using Personal Loot in 6.2, but I can say that objectively:

More items will drop on average for a raid using 6.2 Personal Loot than would have dropped using 6.0/6.1 Personal Loot.
More items will drop on average for a raid using 6.2 Personal Loot than would drop for that raid using any form of Group Loot (Master, Need/Greed, etc.).

A few months ago I wrote about group vs personal loot, and my conclusion was that, for what I called “guild pugs”, the best choice for loot was probably personal loot. It offered a lot of advantages, but the chief one was that it eliminated drama.

It looks like in 6.2 that conclusion will hold even more. The announced loot change should make all but top level guilds, who pay attention to even tiny team gearing advantages, move to personal loot as their usual configuration. True, there may be rare times when a run of the mill raid team will set group loot, but as far as I can see most of the time personal loot will offer far more benefits.

It will be interesting to see if groups in Raid Finder change to mostly personal loot in 6.2, or if they remain almost exclusively group loot as they do now.

It will also be interesting to see if the increased drop rates apply to bonus rolls also.

Gone, of course, will be the times when the RNG gods smile upon the team and shower everyone with personal loot, but on the flip side gone also will be the times when no one gets any loot on personal. In spite of the fact that there is still a lot wrong with the entire loot system, I think this announcement is a positive step in the right direction.

Everyone be safe this Memorial Day weekend, and please take some time to remember those who gave everything to guarantee us our peace and freedom.

Raid finder and things I don’t understand

Last night I had some extra time on my hands and realized it has been almost a month since I really played my main hunter. Our raid team is on break until 6.2, and I felt like I might be losing some hunter skills by not raiding. Plus I have had zero luck getting any tier gear beyond two pieces of the crappy LFR version. So I decided to try to get into a Heroic BRF.

What was I THINKING??? /headslap

Before I go into this long sordid tale, I will save you the effort of reading to the end: I never did get to the point of actually killing any bosses or even any trash mobs.

Let me state up front that I detest pugs. While I have done them on occasion, and while I have had a few good experiences with them, the overwhelming majority of them have ranged from “pretty bad” to “guided tour through Hell.”

At any rate, in my state of (hopefully) temporary insanity, I pulled up the Raid Finder, filtered on “BRF”, and commenced to scrolling through. This in itself is a frustrating exercise, for several reasons. First, there is no way to sort the list so that the most recent posts are listed first. In fact, I couldn’t see any pattern to how they are listed. So you may see the first entry was posted 43 minutes ago, then the next one one minute ago, then the next one 12 minutes ago, and so on. Generally if something was posted over 20 minutes ago, it is a safe bet they are no longer looking for anyone, but the RL just didn’t remove the listing. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a raid, you have to scroll all the way through to see what is available, by which time every listing will be outdated.

Second, it is both amusing and frustrating to read through all the conditions RLs feel they must put into their listings. (This also takes up lots more time which makes going through the list even longer.) I found that the longer the list of conditions, the more ridiculous they were.

 Fresh H BRF. Full clear, don’t sign up if you can’t stay for all. Guild alt run. RL is 9/10 M BRF. Need dps. AotC priority. Know fights, don’t suck, under 30k dps=kicked. ML MS>OS, BoE reserved for guild bank. Carrying warrior, all druid gear reserved, [Big Shiny Mage Staff] reserved.

Level required: 680

etcetera

Well, gosh, who wouldn’t jump at a chance like that? Help them carry their alts, get a big ole ration of attitude, and probably get zero gear. Whoopie!

I have never really understood dps numbers. Damage per second is just that — per second. It changes every second. There are a large number of variables involved, not the least of which are type of fight and your role in the fight (special raid tasks almost always lessen your damage). Yes, you can average the numbers over the course of one fight, or one entire raid, but the variables still impact that.

When RLs require a certain dps number, I am never sure what they are asking for. My hunter sometimes has huge dps numbers, for example on AoE fights or when I get very lucky with procs. Sometimes the numbers seem low, for example on onesie-twosie trash mobs that die quickly, or for a boss that has a lot of adds I am required to kill (thus rapidly switching targets, not my best thing), or because I got a sneezing fit in the middle of the fight.

So I find arrogant announcements of dps requirements stupid and off-putting. A good RL knows if you are performing well or if you are performing poorly given all the factors, and some arbitrary dps threshold is usually not the best way to ensure good performance.

I also don’t understand the concept of MS>OS for non-hybrid classes. Especially now that secondary stats play such a pivotal role. Prior to 6.0, for example, a hunter was a hunter, no matter what the spec. If you rolled on a piece of agility mail and got it, that was pretty much your gear drop for the night. You couldn’t roll on a piece for off spec because there was really no such thing as off spec for hunters, rogues, locks, mages, etc.

But I think secondary stats have changed that, or at least they should have changed it. There really is a big difference between mastery and multistrike for a hunter. (Currently — whether that distinction will count as much in 6.2 remains to be seen.) Same is true of other non-hybrid classes. Whether any given RL realizes this us anyone’s guess, though.

Secondary stats might have also changed the concept of “upgrades.” I don’t run with a guild that uses Loot Council, but I wonder if most LCs take secondary stats into consideration when they consider the upgrade factor.

Similarly, with the 3-item restriction on crafted gear, loot that appears to be the same level and have the same stats as a piece of crafted gear could actually be a significant upgrade to a player, since it might allow them to equip a piece of crafted gear in a different slot that would be a big upgrade.

With all the secondary stat and crafted gear and tier piece factors, I really don’t understand hard and fast rules on ilevel any more. For example, if I just equipped my highest level gear on my main hunter, I would have an ilevel approaching 690. But it would be worse gear than the 679 set I am wearing. (Thanks to my inability to get any tier pieces beyond LFR level, and thanks to my bad luck on secondary stats.)

So should I go ahead and try to sign up for raids that require 680 ilevel? I am sure some RLs would consider I was close enough for them to try out anyway, but my experience last night was that I got declined for every raid (maybe 10 or so) that had a 680 requirement, even if I put a short gear explanation in the comments section.

Back to the Raid Finder. One other very frustrating “feature” is that it does not show you the class composition of the raid members. It shows number of tanks/healers/dps, but not classes. Twice last night I got accepted for a raid but once I got in I saw there were way too many hunters to give me any decent chance at tier gear, given the apparently universal preference for group loot. On one team there were already 3 hunters and on the other there were already 4! I didn’t want to be a jerk about leaving these teams once I found out the composition, so I said something like “Looks like you already have plenty of hunters, so I’ll bow out to give them a better chance at gear. Good luck and have fun!” But I shouldn’t have had to do this — the Raid Finder should have shown me this in advance.

I was surprised that Raid Finder is so cumbersome. I have used it in the past to find world boss groups, apexis groups, garrison groups, rep groups, etc., and I was very happy with it. But — due to my hatred of pugs — I had not used it to look for an actual raid group.

So I ended up spending a couple of hours trying to get into a raid and not getting into a single one. I know Blizz loves to hype this as a big feature that has made life easier for players, but I found it to be enormously annoying and time wasting. It is useful for RLs, because there is basically no burden for them to list their raid. And it is useful for one-off groups. But for someone trying to find a raid, it is overwhelmingly bad.

I guess it’s time (sigh)

Most of the signs point to release of Patch 6.2 fairly soon. My guess is within the next month, but of course I could be wildly wrong. Parts of the patch are being downloaded now, Dev-Watercooler just posted quite a lot of info (none of it very detailed though) about changes to loot, traditional patch harbingers such as Watcher and Bashiok have emerged from their dens to hype it up, etc.

So I suppose it is time to prep for the patch, although honestly I just can’t get too excited about it. In fact, it feels like I’ve been on a long forced march and just had a quick breather, but now it’s time to stand up, shoulder my pack, sling arms, and slog on.  There are a few things I am looking forward to in 6.2, but mostly I am dreading another long garrison/mission/follower setup and starting the gear treadmill again.

I am not sure how to prep, anyway. Last night I knocked down my two barns in my hunters’ garrisons and put up trading posts in their place. My thought was that I have all the Savage Bloods I could ever need, and with a new garrison building spree coming, some extra garrison resources couldn’t hurt.

A couple of weeks ago, for the alts that had their followers at max gear, I replaced my Dwarven bunkers with other buildings — a stable for one of my gatherers, and a mage tower for another alt just because I had not done one of those yet. As 6.2 draws nearer, I’ll put the bunkers back up so as to get the weekly new loot seal thingie. (The mage tower has some nice features to it, but they are not enough to make me want one permanently, certainly not on my main.)

I have no idea if it will be useful or not, but I have also done all I could do to build up a stock of profession cooldowns, so that I have well over a thousand for each profession. I figure if nothing else I can craft worthless items from them and DE them.

I have two tailors at level 100, and I am considering switching one of them to herbalist in order to gather herbs in 6.2. My only other herbalist is my poor neglected druid, who is sitting in a bare bones garrison at level 91. The only reason I am hesitating to switch the tailor is that she knows some legacy patterns that my other tailor doesn’t. Still, I’ll probably end up switching her.

The last thing I have done, begrudgingly, is to switch both my hunters to beast mastery as their primary spec. So one of them now has marksman as an off spec and my main is stubbornly hanging on to survival as a secondary. It will come back, dammit, it WILL. But the indications are that Blizz, having completely broken SV once again, is digging in its heels and refusing to do any more class changes that it considers “major.”

I am furious about this. SV had really just clawed its way back to being a viable spec. No one — except of course the eternal PvP whiners — could call the spec OP. But Blizz, in what seems like someone’s personal vendetta against SV hunters, could not leave well enough alone. They swooped in, made inexplicable changes to SV to such a degree that it is practically unplayable, then dusted off their hands, said “Our work here is done,” and then haughtily decreed that they would be doing no more “class balancing.” Having first wildly unbalanced hunters, of course.

Seriously, what is it about SV hunters that Blizz hates? They made the spec unplayable at the start of WoD, too. Is it like a patch and expansion ritual or something? “OK, here are the project assignments for the next patch. We start work on it next week, but everyone be sure to attend tomorrow’s ceremony to sacrifice the hunter class to appease the gaming gods.”

I am looking forward to resuming raiding. My guild has been on extended break for about three weeks now, but I am very hopeful we will start up again after 6.2 goes live. The recently-announced changes to loot distribution sound good to me. We usually run on personal loot to eliminate chance of drama, so the change to make the number of loot drops on personal match the number on group loot is probably positive. Of course, gone will be the lucky times when almost everyone gets loot, but so in theory will be gone the times when no one gets any. I also applaud the move to progressive loot, so that by the time you get to the final boss you have a chance of getting actual usable gear.

I am not so sure about the announced changes to secondary stats on loot — not sure I understand them. What it sounds like to me is that there will be a much greater chance of receiving useless “upgrades” because the secondary stats will vary much more widely than currently. Here’s the quote, maybe you can make more sense of it than I can:

To help bolster that sense of excitement, we’ve decided to shake things up when it comes to how secondary stats appear on Raid loot in this patch. Inside Hellfire Citadel, you’ll see a wider range of high and low secondary stat values on items than you have in a long time. Alongside some tuning adjustments that should ensure your attuned stats are the right choice, this change should also make it easier for you to identify which items are good for you in a more interesting way than just “equip the highest Item Level.” Our goal is to help make Hellfire Citadel Raid items more distinct and meaningful to you, and we hope you’ll let us know how things feel once you start collecting your new gear.

I don’t know about you, but I get very nervous every time Blizz tells me they are going to “shake things up.” Makes me want to run through the streets shouting “Here it comes!! Run! Save yourselves!!” Cynically, my thought is now that mastery will be “the” stat for a couple of hunter specs, mastery will almost never be on any gear I win.

Anyway, I guess I am going to get ready for 6.2. I just wish I could do it with less foreboding.