Monthly Archives: December 2009

Mage Gear: Spidersilk Drape

I’m about 2/3s of the way complete gearing up Cynwyn in BiS or near-BiS gear. The great thing about building a twink is that the gear grind ends, eventually. There is a finite amount of gear available for your level, and it changes very infrequently.

(It will be interesting to see what Cataclysm does to current twinking equipment. Kinda exciting, actually!)

There are three recent changes to gear that mages will be interested in: new Spidersilk tailoring patterns, heirloom items, and rewards from the daily random dungeon satchel. Any guide that doesn’t take these into account is outdated.

I’ve noticed as I look at various twinking gear lists that though there are some slots with clear BiS items, there are others where it’s not so clear. Just because someone puts together a list and puts it on the internet doesn’t mean you’re excused from using your grey matter.

I’m just saying!

So, instead of throwing up a gear list at the start, I’m going to talk about why I’m choosing certain items, and then see how the gear list looks at the end.

I talk a lot about stat priority on CBM, but gear at level 19 is much more simply (and poorly) itemized than at level 80. Just because something has worthless stats doesn’t mean it’s not BiS for a lot of classes, and Spidersilk Drape is definitely one of those items. It’s long, it’s blue, it has Stamina, and it has Hit. Sexy, sexy Hit, which is so very rare at this level. This easily-available crafted cloak is good for offensive casters, rogues, hunters… Well, I can say that it’s good for them, but I don’t really know.

I worry sometimes about my devotion to the Church of Hit. The chance to miss someone of equal level in WoW is 4%, or about the same as rolling a 1 on a 20-sided die. To be safe in PvP you should have a little extra to counter elven racials and class abilities. I don’t think any if those class abilities are even available at level 19, so Alliance casters and Horde melée classes need 6%, while everyone else just needs 4%. And this one cloak supplies about half of what you need.

So, if you’re like me and subscribe to the philosophy that Hit outweighs every other stat until you reach the cap, then Spidersilk Drape is clearly BiS. If there were enough items in other slots with Hit, you might be able to swap this out for the cloak that comes as a reward for the new LFG random dungeon Satchel of Helpful Things, which swaps out Hit for Intellect.

But since there’s not a lot of Hit to go around, I feel pretty comfortable going with Spidersilk Drape for my mage’s cloak.

Holy moly. I hope I don’t have a post to write about every. single. piece. of gear. We’ll never finish if I do!

7 Comments

Filed under Green Tinted Goggles

The Queue

One of the reasons I like playing battlegrounds so much is the casual nature of queuing for them. I can go about my dailies while waiting for an invitation to pop, letting Blizzard do the work of putting a team of like-minded people together. I don’t have to go assemble a crack team of 39 of my close friends to go freeze their buns off in the Alterac mountains, and then herd them all up to an island off the coast of Northrend. Instead, I get to check off some options and, if I think I’ve got 20 minutes to spare when the invitation comes, click “Yes, I would like to engage in mortal combat with other players please.” Or something like that.

It’s hard to imagine not having a battleground queue now. It is so easy, so convenient, that the idea of having to actually go to the battleground in question is strange and antiquated. I still get lost on my way to the WSG portal!

Battleground queues really help make BGs accessible to anyone who wants to try them out. And while I lament the loss of the pre-Wintergrasp party that queuing brought to that battleground, overall I think it’s a great strength of the system.

So, it’s not hard to imagine that a similar change is in store towards dungeon portals with the release of 3.3’s LFG tool.

I ran Deadmines last night using it, and it was a totally surreal experience. I got to the first boss before I realized we were actually in the instance – I somehow thought we were still pulling trash on the way into the cave! That run from Moonbrook to the portal is so ingrained that even with all available evidence, like, oh, standing in front of the portal and buffing, I was still surprised to see that big silly orge standing there.

(I also ran H UK as a guild random dungeon and thought I was going to UP until I zoned in.)

I made the run to the Warsong Gulch portal today on my level 19 twink, and it’s a long, long journey through a zone that can kill you a lot. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t do that run a lot to go PvP, but it is interesting that people have been doing exactly that to run instances. Someone in the party had to get to the Summoning Stone, after all.

The convenience of running instances suddenly opens up a new leveling strategy – run random dungeons and battlegrounds instead of questing. I have known a lot of people who swear by instance leveling, and in most cases the loot is the best you can get. Combining this with some battlegrounds gives you variety without sacrificing loot or money.

Admittedly, you won’t get many flight points this way.

But you will have a lot of fun.

10 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

Mage Twink Introduction: Cynwyn

Welcome to Green Tinted Goggles. I’m Cyn, of Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual.

I started this weblog as a separate place for me to document my adventures in twinking. Over the course of my PvP experience I’ve come to really respect the attitudes of some of the twinks I’ve met, and I also enjoy the prospect of having characters who aren’t part of the gear grind. One level 80 main is enough. Seriously.

I decided to go with a separate site, even though this is still about PvP in the World of Warcraft, because twinking is a very personal effort. I try to write CBM to be broadly applicable. The posts that I envision here are more like journal entries, which – while interesting to some, I hope – I’m not going to even try to make universally appealing. This is a journal of someone trying to make some twinks.

Also, I should mention that I only have the vaguest clue what I’m doing. On CBM I write what I know. Here, I’m writing about what I’m figuring out.

With that in mind, let me introduce my first twink, Cynwyn, a level 19 Frost Mage. Cynwyn is the third Mage I’ve played. Her name comes from my current naming convention on Durotan, where all my public alts start with Cyn-, and my very first character, Danwyn, rolled on Vek’nilash all those moons ago. (It helps that Cynwyn is a legitimate Anglo-Saxon name, too.)

I know there’s a lot of supposed rivalry between Mages and Warlocks, but if you let something like that stop you from trying new things, I don’t know what to tell you. Wait, yes I do: don’t. Because you might find you really like those things.

Such was the case on my return to magery. It was prompted by two posts on leveling a Mage: one by Christian Belt, and the other by Jason Griffith (@psynister). These articles really presented the Mage as a fun class to play, and since I’m a big fan of fun, I rolled ‘wyn.

I was not disappointed. I loved playing a Mage. I sent her several heirloom items to make the early levels fly by, and fly by they did. Here’s what I sent.

The rest I filled in with vendor whites and them crafted gear. Cynwise, my main, is a tailor, so it was trivial to make some cloth off-pieces to round out the outfit. My basic thought was to stack Spellpower whenever possible, then Intellect, then Stamina. Some Hit is always good, but hard to find at these levels. I have mixed trinkets for three reasons: getting Health back is always good, Haste is almost always good, and while I gave two melée trinkets, I only have the one caster one right now.

Leveling ‘wyn was a real pleasure. I found the Mage much easier to play the third time around, especially since I’m able to move around much more fluidly than my first clumsy attempts. My growth as a player was really apparent in the ease with which I burned up those first 15 levels. What took me days only took a few hours, at best. It really was a lot of fun.

I pretty much followed all of Psynister’s advice with respect to talent builds, glyphs, and rotations, so I’ll just point you over there for more info.

I started playing WSG around level 15 and adored it, to the point of deciding to stop once I hit level 19. And that’s where the story really begins, because while leveling gear is very, very good for leveling, it’s less good for twinking.

More on that in the next installment.

6 Comments

Filed under Green Tinted Goggles

Wednesday Reading

Some great articles I’ve come across in the past few days:

  • Ihra has begun a great series on How to Heal A Battleground, which is good, because let’s face it — I have no clue how to heal one.  Well, I have bandages, but they don’t count.
  • MoodylonerDK has put out some nice Tips on Leveling your New Death Knight.
  • Psynister has started both Hunter and Druid twinks, and it’s always interesting to learn how he does it.
  • Arrens continues to get himself into big trouble of the RP kind.
  • I’m nowhere near 80 with my Frost Mage, but I’m really happy to read Krizzlybear’s take on it becoming a viable raiding spec.
  • Fel Fire talks about gearing your warlock in 3.3, which I am kinda interested in right now?  But not salivating at the gear grind?  Patches are funny like that.  But it’s a good guide, so consider it bookmarked.

Okay, folks!  Back to 3.3!

Comments Off

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Links

Green Tinted Giggles

Twinks.

For as long as I have played World of Warcraft, “twink” has been a dirty word. Conventional wisdom held that twinks were the reason low-level PvP was inaccessible to normal players, that those toons with their Green Tinted Goggles and their Lucky Fishing Hats –the most visible sign of a level 19 twink — had ruined casual battleground play.

Prior to the great Battleground Experience Patch of 2009, I think the conventional wisdom had identified the symptoms correctly while missing the real problem. A new player venturing into Warsong Gulch, clad in a few quest greens and whites, with untrained skills and professions and only a few hours of /played under their belt, would (and did) get slaughtered at the hands of players with a deep understanding of their abilities and the battleground, best-in-slot gear, maxed skills and professions, and weeks of /played time. Couple that disparity with the nerdrage prevalent in so many battlegrounds and the 10-19 WSG bracket was hellish for casual players.

Setting aside the nerdrage, which is its own independent problem, the ability disparity is neither unique to WSG nor the fault of twinking players. With but one exception, this is the almost the exact same problem experienced at the level cap: a freshly-dinged 80 is nothing like the main of a hardcore raider or arena gladiator with maxed skills and ilevel 245 gear, except in level only. If we ignore the character levels, the attitudes of hardcore raiders and twinks are identical: pursue excellence in your character’s chosen activity and seize every advantage possible. What would you call a raider without maxed professions, who refuses to ever flask before a run or get the Hodir shoulder enchants?

Benched.

The exception I mentioned above is that hardcore raiders and gladiators get to select both their teammates and their opponents, while WSG twinks could not. Raiders can be as picky as they want about who is in the raid, and run content appropriate to their ability. Gladiators have opponents chosen for them based on a complicated evaluation of gear and performance, and while the system has some flaws, it does prevent teams in crafted blues going up against teams in Relentless gear.

Battlegrounds can be joined by anyone who could find the appropriate Battlemaster and met the level requirements. I think this is why the conventional wisdom about twinks in Warsong Gulch was right, though it was for all the wrong reasons. It was never the twink’s fault. Warsong Gulch sucked for casual players because they weren’t fighting other casual players, and it sucked for twinks because they would get non-twinks assigned to their team, with no corresponding weakness on the other side. In other words, the content was too hard for some characters to handle, and those players with characters who could handle the content grew frustrated at their inability to choose teammates who took it as seriously as they did.

But since there is an order of magnitude more casual players than there are twinks, twinking became the dirty word.

BATTLEGROUND EXPERIENCE


This situation changed with patch 3.2 and the introduction of XP to battlegrounds. In one fell swoop, Blizzard both opened up the low-level battlegrounds back to casual players, and gave twinks their own battlegrounds. The decision to let experience-frozen characters only play their own kind divided each bracket in two: a leveling bracket and a twink bracket. It was a good move, though it had devastating effects on some of the brackets. My level 59 Death Knight Cynwulf couldn’t find a match in his twink brackets for weeks after 3.2 hit, while the leveling bracket exploded with players flocking to the rich XP rewards. Alterac Valley became a place for lightning-fast leveling through difficult stretches, with people leveling alts all the way to 80 within its frosty confines. It changed the dynamic of the game, opening up a new way for players to level. Quest for a while, then take a break and play battlegrounds for a night without falling behind!

I have heard that a similar phenomenon took place in the 19 twink bracket as the 59; very long queue times for infrequent matches. Some twinks resorted to playing in the leveling brackets and leaving the matches before they finished to avoid too much experience gain. But many twinks just had a hard time finding games after 3.2 dropped.

It’s difficult for me to reconcile those reports with the current situation, three months after battleground XP was implemented, because both the 10-19 leveling bracket and 19 twink bracket are thriving now on the Ruin battlegroup. I suspect that what happened was that since 3.2 contained so many changes (Argent Coliseum raids, new tier sets, new heirloom items, a new battleground, and mounts at lower levels) that twink players found other things to occupy their time. I know that 3.2 is when I threw myself out of the battlegrounds and into raiding. I leveled my few alts with their new mounts. I played some Isle of Conquest. I ran the new Argent Crusade dailies every single day and became an heirloom item junkie.

But mostly, I ran the Trial of the Champion and heroics until my eyes bled.

A FRESH START

I don’t know what it was, specifically, that caused me to roll a new alt. I’m a slow leveler, and I have tried to focus my attention on as few characters as possible to achieve as much as I can with them. Perhaps it was the mount changes, or all the pretty heirlooms I was getting, but something caused me to roll a paladin just to see what it was like. I outfitted her with some nice heirlooms, leveled her up to level 12 or so, and then took her into Warsong Gulch to see if things had changed since my last ill-fated visit.

Oh. My.

Warsong Gulch at 10-19 is completely different now. The leveling bracket is filled with toons of all different levels, gear, and player skill. Interestingly, level seems to be a poor predictor of performance, which is counter to what you might expect. The matches are short but not frenetic. Best of all, you get to see how your class plays in PvP before a lot of complications are added – there just aren’t as many things to keep track of as with an endgame character. Your opponents lack a lot of counters that they get later on, so you can learn how your abilities are really supposed to work.

It’s really a great experience. I recommend at least trying WSG again if you’re starting a new alt. It is a great training ground and helps you understand the core of your new class much better than solo questing does. (Running Deadmines is the other part of learning a new alt that I find really valuable.)

The leveling bracket of WSG is also ridiculously low-stress. I jokingly call it the Come-As-You-Are bracket, because you will find such a wide variety of gear, skill, and ability spread throughout both teams. Compared to the intensity of endgame PvP, this bracket is like a pickup flag football game. Sure, you want to win, but having fun is just as important.

THE HARDCORE ATTITUDE

If the matches in the 10-19 leveling bracket are afternoon pickup games, the level 19 twink matches are decidedly professional affairs. The expectation is that you’re geared, skilled, stocked, and prepared. You need to know your role in the fight, or learn it quickly.

The item levels are different, but the hardcore attitude is just the same as the endgame: be the absolute best you can be.  If you’re not there yet, you better be working on it.

Seeing this attitude applied to level 19 characters is really amazing. The potential abilities are astonishing, if you are willing to pursue them. Bandages that heal you to full in two ticks? Food buffs that give 10-20% more health?

I don’t know about you, but I had no idea any of these things were possible when I first leveled up through Westfall and Loch Modan.

The experience cap has made twinking much easier; no longer do you need to plan out every step from level 10 on. You can quest all the way to 19 and then get your gear, if you choose. Faction changes allow players to get the best of both worlds now, eliminating the problem of faction-only BiS gear. Yes, that’s how hardcore twinks can be – faction changes for a BiS ring.

Having a separate bracket for these characters is a very good thing, for everyone involved. Twinks fighting twinks is a completely different kind of game, with a slower pace and more emphasis on control. There are no facerolls in the twink games.

And when you beat a premade, the taste of victory is very, very sweet.

IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

You don’t have to be as hardcore as the most hardcore twink to take away some very good lessons from their approach.

First, train your professions to max level as early as possible. You can pick them up at level 5 and reach 150 skill by level 10 – do it. This gives you access to all the benefits at a time where they are completely OP. You will also have a viable income if you are rolling on a new server. Don’t forget that many of the best endgame professions are not very good at lower levels, and vice versa. Herbalism, Mining, Skinning, and Engineering all have excellent benefits while leveling.

Second, max out your First Aid. At level 10 you can reach 225 skill, which let’s you use (but not make) Heavy Runecloth Bandages. So you can use any old-world bandage you can get your hands on. Bandaging can be done in combat and is a cheap, easy way to reduce downtime.

Third, get good gear. Heirlooms are great if you have access to them, but crafted gear is really good at low levels, too. Seriously, crafted gear. Check it out. Enchant it if you can afford it.

I’ve started doing these things on my alts and it’s remarkable what a difference it makes. A level 10 dwarf warrior with Green Tinted Goggles and fully-enchanted heirlooms makes leveling a joy, not a grind.

I admit – I giggle a lot going into WSG and beating people 5-9 levels higher than me in 1:1 combat.

It’s funny; I didn’t originally associate these tips or attitude with twinking; I considered it part of learning how to play well, especially for a part of the game I struggle with. Let me be honest — I made just about every mistake you could make while leveling, No, really, I’m terrible at it. But I got to the endgame, I learned how to play, and now I’m learning again by watching the twinks.

Twink.  It isn’t a dirty word anymore.

12 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual, Green Tinted Goggles