Friday, December 28, 2007

Second Year Mark

It's been exactly two years since I started writing this blog.

I've been looking back at the posts from a year ago, and I find that I am much less happy than I was back then. Specialization came and, rather than freeing other paladins to join me on the front lines, it chained me, and bound me to join the vast majority of my brethren (90%!) spamming heals from the back.

Do I really like playing my paladin, or do I just love the paladin archetype?

The paladin archetype, that of a holy warrior, is really, really strong. Even a movie like Tales of the Past--a WoW movie steeped in over three years of WoW lore--depicts a paladin as a divine fighter.

One of my very first posts was about how important the mental image of your character is. Watching that movie just hit home how much I want my paladin to be that style of paladin. For a brief moment in Blackwing Lair, that paladin was my paladin. And it also hit home that being a hybrid will never happen again.

WoW Paladins are healbots. The design of Flash of Light, coupled with the extreme specialization now in the game, ensures that, now and forever. A low power, high efficiency heal that resets the swing timer has doomed us to a life of spamming heals from the back.

I could pretend to be a tank, or DPS, but that puts stress on the already thin healing corps, and that just feels selfish to me. We're already struggling to field a full set of healers. Our Shadow priest had to respec back to Holy, and I think we're down to one Resto druid. And quite frankly, I don't want to be a tank, or to be DPS. I want to be a paladin once again.

Do I like my paladin? Or do I just like the idea of a paladin, a hybrid melee character who healed and blessed her group while dealing retribution with a two-handed hammer? Coriel was that paladin once, will she ever be again?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tales of the Past

Tales of the Past, Part III is an awesome WoW movie. It's a full feature-length (1.5 hours) movie.

Be warned that it is 2.4 gigs in size, but it's worth the download. I recommend the torrent option, and that was pretty fast for me. I didn't see parts I or II, but they aren't necessary to enjoy this.

Martin Falch has made a work of art. It must have taken him an incredible amount of time and effort, but the results are amazing.

The final battle in particular is spectacular, and even modern filmmakers could probably learn something about how to make something truly feel epic.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hit Rating and Dual-Wielders

One very common question is how much hit rating does a dual-wielding character need? My Hit Caps Guide only lists the actual cap, and doesn't address whether going for the cap is a good idea or not.

Basically, after you reach 9%, hit rating only affects a portion of your damage. However, hit rating is cheaper than crit rating. So how does that balance out?

It depends on how much white damage you do. As a general rule, with the current costs of hit and crit rating, you need about 65-70% of your damage to come from auto-attacks for hit rating to outweigh crit rating. However, you also have to take into account special abilities that may come from white hits.

Baseline, most melee classes get about 50% of their damage from auto-attack (white damage) and 50% from specials (yellow damage). Each class does have unique aspects though. Please note that you must get at least 9% hit so your specials never miss. This really concerns the range from 9% to 28%.

Rogue

The most powerful finisher is Slice and Dice, which speeds up auto-attacks by 30% (equivalent to increasing auto-attack damage by 30%). This pushes rogues into the range where hit rating becomes worthwhile. Additionally, Combat rogues get extra energy from off-hand strikes, through Combat Potency, making it additionally important that their white attacks hit.

Thus the accepted wisdom for rogues, especially combat rogues, is to try and reach the hit rating cap, choosing equal values of hit over crit.

Warrior

Fury warriors often use Heroic Strike, which converts your next white attack into a special, using the miss rate for specials. This actually pushes the proportion of white damage down, and makes crit a better option.

Auto-attacks do provide rage, so hit rating shouldn't be completely scoffed at. Don't go out of the way to pick up hit rating, but most warriors tend to have a bit more than the minimum.

Shaman

Enhancement Shamans again have about 50% of their damage coming from auto-attack. However, unlike warriors and rogues, shamans don't get rage or energy from their white attacks. The only other consideration is Windfury, which procs off auto-attacks. Windfury has an internal cooldown, however, so hitting more often does not really increase the number of procs.

So shamans are generally safe in ignoring extra hit rating and going for crit rating and attack power.

Hunter

No. Just No.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

I spend a lot of virtual ink discussing what I think are flaws in Blizzard's game, mostly because flaws are more interesting to look at. It's not really fair though, as there are a lot of things that Blizzard has done well, and has improved significantly.

In particular, the current endgame is leaps and bounds ahead of the endgame that existed when I first started writing, about two years ago. Back then, level 60 dungeons such as Stratholme and Scholomance were a joke, as everyone "raided" them with 10 people, twice as much firepower as was necessary. They provided very little challenge, and the quality of play was abysmal. Raiding was Molten Core, where half the DPS was AFK watching TV. It required 30-40 level 60s, which was next to impossible for the small guilds to build towards.

Today on Skywall, both the heroic and normal dailies pointed at Botanica. As 40g and 7 Badges for one run is a great opportunity, I was trying to get into a pickup group (it was a bit early, and few guildies were online). I joined a group of 4 people who were all from the same guild, Hysteria, a small guild who's name I did not recognize.

That run turned out to be one of the best pickup groups I've been in. The players in this guild had a high level of skill. The tank kept everything on him, the mage sheeped and counterspelled efficiently, the warlock banished and switched demons on the fly, the rogue pulled off some tricky saps, and everyone did solid DPS. It was the type of run that I love, where everyone is playing with focus and skill. It was such an unexpected pleasure to find this run with a pickup group.

It turned out that they were a small casual guild working on Karazhan. They only raided one or two nights a week, and were up to Shade. They were planning their first expedition to Zul'Aman sometime in the new year.

It really struck me that this guild could not have existed in the old WoW endgame. The 60 dungeons would not have provided the challenge they needed to hone their skills to their current degree. The skill level is basically what I would have expected from a Blackwing Lair guild, and yet this is an entry-level TBC guild. They also wouldn't have had the numbers to field raids in the old game, and in the end they probably would have broken up and died.

And yet, in the current game, they are not only surviving, they are doing well. They have challenges that they are working on, challenges which are worthy of their skill, and have further challenges to look forward to. They don't have to raid four nights a week if they don't want to, nor do they need to marshal 25-40 people in order to progress.

I like that people, especially non-hardcore raiders, are playing with greater skill than before. To me, that's a sign that the game is healthy. I like that guilds such as this have new challenges available to them, and can continue to progress at their own pace.

In some ways, I guess I see my first guild in these guys. But where we found only barren rock after hitting the level cap, and were essentially forced to scatter to the large raiding guilds if we wanted new challenges and progression, this guild has found fertile soil and is thriving.

And this is mostly due to the efforts of Blizzard. They have made the endgame more challenging, with better and smoother increases in available challenges, which has encouraged skilled play, and they have made the endgame more accessible to smaller guilds. All in all, the WoW endgame of today is far superior to the WoW endgame of two years ago.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last look at PvP vs PvE Rewards

Alright, this will be my last post on this subject for a while. Most of this comes in response to a reader's email.

The heart of my issues with PvP rewards is probably more philosophical than anything else. I don't like rewarding failure. I like rewarding success more. And to me the PvP loot system is very close to excessively rewarding failure. It does a good job at rewarding success, it just doesn't do a good job of NOT rewarding failure, if that makes any sense.

Further, if there's one thing I hate in this game, it is people who do not even try. And while you occasionally see people like that in PvE, it seems like PvP attracts more of them. For example, people who go AFK in battlegrounds, or teams that deliberately lose in Arena. And to me, it seems like this behaviour is caused by the way the reward system is structured. In contrast, in PvE, it is fairly hard to get rewards if you don't try, especially on a guild or team level.

Basically my ideal system of rewards would go like:

1. Person who does not try - gets nothing
2. Person who tries but is not very successful - gets something decent
3. Person who tries and is successful - gets something good

And to me, quality of reward matters. S3/T6 should be reserved for Category 3. Category 2 maybe gets Badge Reward/S2/S1/T4/T5 depending on how unsuccessful you are. Category 1 should die in a fire.

From the raider point of view, this argument is not about how Category 3 should be treated, it's about how Categories 2 and 1 should be treated. PvE gives them T4/T5 or nothing, respectively. PvP gives them lesser amounts of S3. I just think that is an excessive reward, especially for Category 1.

Please note that I generally consider myself to be in Category 2 in both PvE and in PvP (when I do participate).

To be honest, I probably shouldn't have titled the original post "Welfare Epics". I meant it as more of a tongue-in-cheek reference to Tigole's Blizzcon presentation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Arena Rating Reset

One thing that's always puzzled me about Blizzard's Arena system is that Blizzard resets ratings at the beginning of every season. Most other rating systems go out of their way to avoid situations like that.

The concept of ratings is that a person has a "true skill level". Ideally, her rating accurately reflects her true skill. And as her true skill increases and decreases, so does the rating. The problem is that when a person first enters the rating system, her rating does not match her true skill, but through winning and losing many games, the two will eventually match.

As such, most rating systems treat that entry point a little differently. In chess, people are often given a "provisional" rating, which lasts for about 25 matches or so. While they have a provisional rating, rating changes are calculated differently. Microsoft's Trueskill system actually has a second value paired with the rating, which is a measure of how "confident" the system is that the rating actually reflects a player's true skill. As you play more and more games, the system becomes more and more confident that your rating is correct.

Blizzard's rating system is very unusual in that it returns everyone to that low confidence state every so often. The usual reason given is that it gives everyone a fresh start. But in reality, your true skill level doesn't change that much that quickly. All the reset does is cause people to end up playing matches against teams of wildly differing skill level. A team that should be rated 2000 is now rated 1500, and is going to steamroll most teams it will encounter at the start of the season. This happens until the ratings shake out and people are restored to their true skill levels.

I think there's a different reason Blizzard resets the ratings. The Arena rating system is meant to be a zero-sum system. If my team gains 20 points, your team loses 20 points. However, in its current incarnation, the Arena system is vulnerable to rating inflation. What happens is a low-ranked team (say 1200 rating), gets tired, dissolves, and reforms as a new team. The new team enters at 1500 points, meaning that 300 points are added into the system. They will probably eventually fall back to 1200 and the process may begin anew.

By resetting the ratings, Blizzard clears out the excess ratings added into the system and restores the system to its zero-sum balance. Unfortunately it has the side effect of ensuring that ratings don't match the true skill of the teams for a few weeks after the reset. And it causes heavy load and long queue times on the servers as the higher ranked teams seek to restore their correct rating.

It's sort of amusing, but chess actually has the same problem, only in the opposite direction. I have a friend who is heavily involved with the Chess Federation of Canada. According to him, one of the main problems with their rating system is the existence of chess schools or camps for youth. What happens is that during the summer, the kids play constantly against each other and end up being pretty good because of the practice and training (not Grandmaster-good, but better than average).

Then at the end of the summer, they will play in a couple of rated tournaments. Because their entry rating is lower than their true skill level, they end up taking a lot of rating points from the other people. However, after that summer they stop playing tournament-level chess, taking those points with them, and the chess rating system suffers from point deflation.

To combat this, the equations used by the CFC that govern rating changes have a very small bonus term, which increases the amount of rating in the system, hopefully restoring the balance and keeping the amount of rating in the system constant.

It's an amusing parallel to the situation faced because Blizzard did team-based ratings and allowed teams to be dissolved and rebuilt. A personal rating system, such as is being introduced with Season 3, tends to be more robust because it cannot be reset easily, and the system is not quite as vulnerable to inflation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why does the Reward System Matter?

This isn't about what is a more worthwhile endeavour: PvP or PvE. In my opinion, if you want to spend endgame raiding, that's fine. If you want to spend it PvP'ing, that's fine too. This is a discussion of two fundamentally different reward systems. One where quality varies with challenge/skill (Quality System), and the other where quantity varies with challenge/skill (Quantity System).

One of these is a better system than the other. I believe that the Quality System is superior because we tend to value quality more than quantity. Because it has a better natural, even progression. And that it leads to better gameplay and encourages people to constantly improve, while the Quantity System leads to unnatural and counter-intuitive gameplay.

But clearly, many of the commenters clearly don't feel the same way. To them, the Quantity System is superior because it allows people to reach parity gear-wise faster. It also means that all progression options for your character are within reach. You'll never reach a point where you just cannot improve your character because you can't meet the challenge.

It's fairly easy to use either system in PvP or PvE. For PvP, simply slap Rating requirements on the gear. Boom, there's a Quality System in PvP.

To implement a Quantity System in PvE, we could assign ratings to each boss. Attumen would be a 1000, and Illidan would be 2400 or so. The other bosses would be scattered along the spectrum between them. Each week, a PvE player gets a rating equal to the highest rating of a boss defeated that week. For example, a raid that kills Prince Malchezzar might get a 1400 rating. On Tuesday, the Consortium gives you a certain number of Raid Points depending on your rating. You then use these raid points to purchase rewards from the Consortium.

Bosses no longer drop loot. Maybe you could get a title for defeating specific high-end bosses (Coriel the Dragonkiller Killer). The only result from downing a boss is an increase in rating, if the boss had a higher rating than your current rating. Your rating would reset to zero on Tuesday. Every so often, perhaps with the PvP Seasons, Blizzard introduces new raid gear which you can purchase.

Now, there are some fine details to work out. PvE is not quite as granular as PvP, and you can't do swaps as easily, so you have to somehow account for people who sat out that fight. And ratings would inflate over time as gear makes the challenges easier, and would have to be readjusted when new instances came out. But that's a basic Quantity System implemented in PvE.

Is that a better system than we have now? Maybe. I don't think so, however. I think it would lead to stagnation for a lot of guilds, as they would reach a "comfort level" of farming and refuse to try higher bosses on the grounds that the additional rating would not be worth the time and effort, the same way that some people prefer to lose Battlegrounds fast rather than go for a drawn-out win.

But everyone else seems to be solidly in favour of the PvP Quantity System, so maybe we should leave PvP alone and change raiding to match it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Raider Perspective on Rewards

Perhaps a deeper explanation of the raider mindset when it comes to loot rewards would help in our discussion on PvP vs Raid Epics. Please note that this is strictly from a Loot As Reward perspective, not Loot As Investment.

For a raider, quality of loot depends on the challenge you need to overcome. The harder the challenge, the higher quality your reward is. Quantity of loot does not really change. Throughout my raiding career, I've averaged about one epic every two weeks or so. It is random, so it's not exactly one every two weeks, but it's close. The rate at which a progressing raider gains upgrades doesn't really change as content changes. What changes is the quality of the upgrades. As the raid gets better and better, as harder and harder challenges are overcome, raiders are not rewarded with more loot, they are rewarded with better loot.

So in the raider mindset, quality is the most important characteristic of loot. It represents the challenge that has been overcome. Raiders generally don't like content where the quality of reward does not match the challenge. Even bosses which are too easy for their loot are disdained (Void Reaver, most of Molten Core). Bosses which are too hard for their loot inspire a lot of forum angst.

This is diametrically opposite of the PvP situation. In PvP, the quality of the reward is fixed, and is generally whatever the highest season is. What changes is the quantity of loot. Higher skill or rating, which translates into overcoming harder challenges, is rewarded with more loot, not better loot.

From a raider mindset, this is very weird. It breaks the link between challenge and reward. And we like that link. Raiders feel that having that link is important, as it inspires people to push forward. If you don't get better as a raider, you stop progressing loot-wise. In PvP, it seems like you don't the same pressure to improve your skills. You stay level, and the loot keeps coming in, and you are able to improve your character without improving in skill. Sure you could get the loot faster, but the upgrade train never actually stops or even slows down.

Raiders actually like PvP rewards that match the "challenge = quality of reward" mindset. People with the epic flyers, or the various titles, are impressive. People with high ratings get a lot of respect.

And it's an honest question if a game should break the link between challenge and quality of reward. I kind of like that the game pushes you to continually increase your skill. I would love 5-mans or solo quests that continued to increase in challenge. Zul'Aman has been highly received by the raiding community, even though it's only a 10-man. Many pre-TBC hunters still speak fondly of their quest to get their epic bow Rhok'delar, as it was supposed to be a very challenging quest.

When the game doesn't have that push, we end up with negative behavior. We have people AFK in Alterac Valley. We have teams /dancing in Arenas so that they can finish their games quickly.

Raiding does have many problems, especially with time and organizational issues. But the basic idea that "quality of reward is linked to the challenge overcome" is not one of them.

Ask Coriel: Levelling as Protection

We interrupt the PvP / PvE war to answer some questions from Amava:

I found your site the other day while searching for advice on a talent build for my levelling Paladin alt who I'm currently viewing as a tank. My main is a relatively new lvl 70 Hunter. Some things that I could not find on the site, but would love to hear your ideas on are:
1) As a Prot Pally levels, what is a good order to invest the talent points? This is for a bit of solo work and tanking in 5-man instances. Speed of levelling is not a concern of mine as I value becoming a good tank way more than rushing to the end game.

This is a somewhat complicated question. Basically, there are a few key talents when levelling a Paladin: Spiritual Focus in Holy; Holy Shield in Protection; and Seal of Command in Retribution. Your plan should focus around which of these you want to take and when.

Protection really only comes into its own with Holy Shield at 31 points. The lower part of the tree is decent, but Holy Shield is the engine which drives the entire tree. My usual advice is not to bother with Protection until level 40 or 50. You can do well enough with the other trees for tanking purposes at the lower levels.

Spiritual Focus is an amazing talent for solo play as you can easily heal yourself while meleeing. Unfortunately, it costs 10 points in Holy, which will put off getting Holy Shield for another 10 levels. However, you don't need it if someone else will be healing you all the time.

So my usual advice is to go 10 points in Holy for Spiritual Focus, then 11 points in Ret for Seal of Command. Then level as Retribution until level 40 or 50. If you think you can get by without Spiritual Focus, respec to Protection at 40. Otherwise respec at 50 and keep SF.

Other than that the only difference between a Prot levelling build and a Prot end game build is Reckoning. Reckoning is very nice while levelling, but not all that useful at 70. I'd take Reckoning over 1H Specialization while levelling, then switch at 70.
2) Besides simply running instances and performing trial-n-error, do you have any ideas for how I can develop my tanking skills? I grew up as a beast master hunter on my first toon, and tanking is a hugely counter-intuitive concept to me. Ideally, I'd like to hear about things you do in 5-man groups while levelling up, since the full spectrum of threat-generating abilities and talents is not available until you get further and further into the talent trees.

Generally, learn the theory of tanking, especially the rules on how threat works. Take a look at:

Fortifications

This is *the* tanking guide. Although it is aimed at warriors, it is very useful for all tanks. Paladin specific resources include:

Zen Tanking
Maintankadin

After that it's pretty much just keep Holy Shield up all the time, Consecrate when necessary, and Judge Righteousness when you can. Unlike warrior tanking, the actual mechanics of paladin tanking are not that complex.

Any other advice from Protection Paladins?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Welfare Epics, Part II

As I was reading the comments to the previous post, I realized that I had ignored one of my own ideas, that of the Two Views of Loot: Loot As Reward; and Loot as Investment.

My post was entirely from a Loot as Reward perspective, while many of the comments in opposition were from a Loot as Investment perspective. So let's break the problem down and look at it from both perspectives.

Loot As Reward

Under Loot As Reward, PvP loot is far easier to obtain than PvE loot. If we contrasted a new raid guild starting out now against a new start up PvP team, the PvP would get T6/S3 quality gear first. As well, they need to put in far less time and don't have to worry about repair costs.

The quality of reward matters under Loot as Reward. You want the best reward possible, which translates to the best gear. While the new raid guild is earning T4, the new PvP team is earning S3.

And that's unfair to PvE.

Loot As Investment

However, looking at the situation through the Loot as Investment prism reveals an important difference. The raid uses T4 gear to beat T5 content, uses T5 gear to beat T6 content, and will use T6 gear to beat Sunwell. In contrast, a PvP team needs S3 gear to beat S3 teams.

Because of the level playing field, you need to be comparable gear-wise in order to have a fair fight. Otherwise, the best teams will always have a lead on the lower teams, and it will be much harder for a new PvP team to make an impact.

So a hardcore PvPer, one who wants to compete for the Gladiator title or the epic flyer, needs to get S3 as fast as they can.

Conclusions

It's important to note that under Loot as Investment, the pace of PvE rewards doesn't really matter. Victory is measured by different standards: killing bosses, or rating achieved. Unfortunately, both views of loot are valid and deserve to be taken into consideration.

If Loot as Reward did not matter, why make S2 and S3 armor? Blizzard could have stuck everyone in S1 armor and kept the playing field level. They could have tagged armor with a "PvP flag", and only allowed you to wear PvP armor in the arenas, maybe with a heavy debuff if you are wearing a piece of non-PvP armor. But Loot as Reward is important to us, and thus we get new upgrades every season.

I think it's clear from the above analysis that Loot as Reward conflicts with Loot as Investment. Loot as Reward wants a slower, smoother upgrade path. S3 must be earned, and part of that earning is gaining S2 and S1. Loot as Investment wants a faster, spikier upgrade path in order to get everyone to a level playing field.

So how can we resolve this conflict?

My thought is that different areas of the PvP spectrum are dominated by different views. Low-rated teams are more likely to be PvPing for the gear reward, and are not really in contention for any of the higher rewards. In contrast, high-rated teams are competing against each other for titles and ranking, and the armor falls into the category of investment, rather than reward.

There is an inflection point, probably somewhere around 1750 rating, where you cease to look at PvP as a source of epics only, and look at it as a competition for ranking. So I would suggest a solution that took this shift into account.

My solution would be to have two purchase prices. An S3 epic would either require (numbers made up for an example):

1) 1750+ rating and 2000 Arena points

Or

2) The equivalent S2 piece and 1500 Arena points

The idea is break up Arena rewards into the areas that they dominate. Where Loot as Investment dominates, we have a fast progression that must be earned through skill. Where Loot as Reward dominates, we have slower, more natural progression.

The key idea here--which I did not consider in my original post--is that both views of loot are valid, and both need to be considered in any potential solution.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Welfare Epics

Well, time to wade into the PvP epics, or "welfare epics", controversy. Basically, many raiders feel that PvP epics are too easily available, and are having negative effects on raiding. For example, most DPS will sport the best PvP weapon, and PvE weapons will be sharded when they drop.

First off, I am happy that PvP is another way for a player to advance their character. I like raiding, but you shouldn't have to raid in order to progress. But there are two main issues that I see with the current setup of PvP rewards.

First, the decision to make the PvP sets recoloured versions of the PvE sets was a bad one. It cheapens the accomplishments of both sides. PvP armor should look visually distinct from PvE armor.

Second, and more importantly, PvP rewards seem to lack the same sense of progression that PvE has. In PvE, you have to go through T4 content/rewards before you go to T5 content/rewards, and T5 comes before T6. You can't really skip vast amounts of content. I mean, the reason I don't have any T6 is because we're still working on T5 content.

PvP really seems to lack this. Alts in blues are now sporting S3 gear. In some manner, I think you should have to pick up some S1 gear before getting S2 gear and then S3 gear.

Someone who is in full S2 and with a 2000+ rating definitely deserves T6/S3-level gear. She shouldn't be outgeared by raiders just because she chooses to PvP. I'm just not sure that someone with a 1500 rating should be allowed to jump straight from blues to S3.

Perhaps a system where you had to have the S1 weapon and 2 pieces of S1 armor before you could purchase S2 armor would be good. Then you'd need some S2 armor and the S2 weapon before you could move on to S3. A sense of progression, of moving up steadily, rather than making large jumps.

This would also help the raiding side, as people wouldn't be able to PvP just for the weapon.

The old PvP Honor system, for all its flaws, provided this sense of progression. You got your blue boots and gloves at a certain rank, and as you rose through the ranks, you got better and better gear, eventually earning epics. But there was no sudden jump. A player with a Grand Marshal or High Warlord weapon had earned every piece of armor before that. You couldn't have a player with blues and a Grand Marshal weapon.

I think that PvPers shouldn't be allowed to skip tiers so easily. Having a more natural gear progression would also work well in PvE. A player might go from a T4 weapon, to an S1 weapon, to a T5 weapon, then to a S2 weapon, instead of jumping straight to the S2 weapon.

So those are my two issues with the current PvP Arena reward scheme. The armor needs to be more distinct from PvE armor, not just recoloured, and the rewards need a better sense of pacing and steady upgrades.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guild Ranks and Guild Banks

Most guilds approach guild ranks as if they were in the army. They set the ranks as if they were a hierarchical chain of command, where each rank commands the ones below it.

But realistically, most guilds are small enough that there's really only one power relationship: Officers and Members. Officers command members, and that's pretty much it. The actual hierachy is very flat, regardless of the number of ranks.

So rather than looking at ranks as a chain of command, it might be more productive to look at them as mutually-exclusive "tags". These would label your membership in specific ways. For example, many raiding guilds will have "Raider", "Guild Friend", and "Alt" ranks. There's no chain of command present in those ranks, though some will be higher-ranked than others. It's just a way of labelling characters to make it easy for the leadership to sort them.

So what other ways of labelling characters might there be? One example I found on Elitist Jerks (sadly, I don't remember the guild that did this) was a guild which had the "Tank", "Healer", and "DPS" ranks. Now this is very useful way of categorizing members for a raiding guild. It allows the leadership to quickly see at a glance exactly how much of each category they have online. This is especially useful with hybrids, as you could have 3 paladins online, and each in a different category.

This setup was pretty interesting before 2.3, but with the introduction of Guild Banks, it becomes downright amazing. Permissions in the Guild Bank are tied to rank, and having different ranks for each role has a lot of benefits. For example, you could dedicate a Bank Tab for each Rank. Healers would have their own Bank Tab, dedicated to healing materials. (I forsee a lot of mana potions being stored.) Tanks would have their own tab, etc. You could even split up DPS into "Melee DPS" and "Ranged DPS" and give each of those groups their own tab.

The other advantage comes with repair costs. You can set different withdrawal limits for each role/rank, and perhaps give the tanks a larger allowance to fund their repairs. There are a lot of intriguing possibilities with this setup.

The key idea here is that treating guild ranks as a power hierarchy is possibly the most limiting way to look at ranks. Approaching ranks from a different angle can allow a guild to use their Ranks and Guild Bank much more effectively.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who is Willy Toledo?



He appears to be a Spanish television/movie star, and he's a paladin who likes "body-to-body" fighting.

As an aside, the word "paladin" in Spanish sounds awesome.

Sadly, what jumps out at me is that once again Blizzard is promoting the paladin as a melee character. Why is it so hard for their raid/class team to understand this and shape the class accordingly?