I need to get back in the habit of writing regularly. Especially these microblogs, which are good for accomplishing small things every few days.
Wow, I’ve been doing this a long time. The big events this year were Legion beta, Legion release, and all the new raids and guides that come with that. It’s been a big year for this site. I’m particularly proud of how far my guides have come. My raid guides have more polish, my class guides are more streamlined. I’m happy with the microblog series, giving me an opportunity to blog without the overhead of a polished opinion. Where this time last year I was feeling like I was failing the blog, now it feels like it’s thriving!
The other day I was playing a console game and struggling with a boss fight. I’d been working on it for many attempts and failing miserably to get the boss anywhere close to dead.
After tolerating a half hour of raging, my boyfriend borrowed my controller and, after having never played this game, killed the boss in one try.
Long time readers might be familiar with how I chose talent recommendations, and might know that it’s a little different than most guides out there. I think what surprises most is that I don’t rely on sims. They’re a part of the equation, but not the last word. I value many other things when it comes to talents.
In no particular order:
- Ease of use
- Personal preference
- Sims & Logs
That’s just for recommendations in my guide. When making actual talent choices in game, there’s an important #1 addition: fight mechanics.
Talents are more than just the damage / healing / damage reduction benefits, there’s always something more. As tanks, we are especially well served by being able to trade objective benefits for subjective ones.
Ease of Use
We are not computers, so in contrast to sims, anything that doesn’t demand extra attention gains some points from me. Just having a talent that doesn’t serve as an extra distraction while learning a fight is a powerful thing, even if that talent might not be the final choice when you kill the boss.
Some talents are really strong in niche situations, and others are just modestly strong in all situations. In a guide, since I have no way of knowing what content you’re trying to tackle, I’m going to lean toward recommending general talents.
I don’t know what other people like, but there are a few talents I’m just fond of. I can’t completely separate my own biases from this blog, nor do I really want to.
Keeping in mind my own bias, sometimes I’ll adjust my talent recommendations based on what the community as a whole prefers, even if it’s not my favorite thing. Just because I don’t like a talent doesn’t mean it’s a bad recommendation for others.
Sometimes I recommend talents because I love finding uses for all of them. Even if there’s a super-niche talent, I want to find a case where it’s valuable and talk about it.
Simulations / Logs
Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves, and even the utility benefits of some talents are overshadowed by poor simming and logging.
Example: Special Delivery (before the latest buffs to its siblings)
For the most part in this expansion, I’ve been able to use my monk and dh interchangeably. Sure, there have been some situations where one was a bit stronger than the other, but I could cover those weaknesses with some adjustments in strategy or toolkit and it worked out fine. But when we hit heroic Gul’dan this week, that was the first time I ever swapped out one character for the other for progression.
I wrote a while back about talents that I cling to because I just kinda like them. There are also talents I avoid, because I just kinda don’t.
Most of the talents I avoid are just fine balance-wise. Often, they’re even part of the cookie cutter spec most people take. And that’s great! I want them to be viable talents, for other people.
On my monk, I never take Black Ox Brew. It’s a favored talent of that tier for other people, but it doesn’t contribute to my ideal brewmaster, which is one that manages resources from second to second. I mean, I just really love the other two choices, and they’re how I want to play. (I also tend to avoid on-use talents if I can because I’m terrible/lazy.)
There’s also Blackout Combo, which is a fantastic talent that I don’t enjoy all that much. Many people do enjoy it, and I’m glad it exists. But again, it doesn’t contribute to my brewmaster ideal in the same way the other choices do. I want to manage my stagger to extremes! Either by making it really big, or purifying it really small. Stagger is my drug, and while Blackout Combo does effect it indirectly, it’s not quite the same level of excitement for me.
On my demon hunter, I hardly ever take Spirit Bomb. This historically was an unpopular talent, but even now that it’s buffed I still not be super excited about it because I don’t really feel a need for sustained leech on my DH.
I also rarely take Last Resort, another strong, popular talent! Because the way I play, I hardly ever make simple mistakes that can be recovered from with a heal to 30% and extra hp. No, the mistakes that kill me are catastrophic, usually when I fail to use Demon Spikes when I clearly should have, or if I stand in something, or mis-taunt. Last Resort doesn’t save me from those, so I pick one of the other choices instead.
I still use these talents from time to time, but I don’t enjoy them as much as the other choices.
As we approach my 10 year anniversary of playing World of Warcraft, I thought I’d take a step back and do some reminiscing. Many years ago I wrote about how I started playing this game, from The Burning Crusade to the middle of Wrath. Here’s where that post ended:
Power Word Awesome was the last guild I ever felt a strong social connection with. I’m still Facebook friends with some of them. I met quite a few members at Blizzcon ’09. We went out for spaghetti and I discussed if I would race change to a troll druid when Cataclysm dropped. It was wonderful.
But sadly, real life events forced me to transfer. But that’s for another time…
I enjoy my class better when it isn’t the best. I might even enjoy it the most if they’re the worst. It usually means that I’ll be challenged a bit more, and I crave challenge of the sort where I just have to play tighter to survive. The way balance works in this game, it’s unlikely that any (perceived) balance issues will actually hurt my chances at progress.
I like being sort of uncommon. This is true in for many of my choices, too, including talents and cosmetics. I regularly change my demon horns if I see too many people with the same ones. There are so many vengeance demon hunters strolling around Dalaran, Lazier is but one among many nearly-identical demon-elves. But on my brewmaster, I’m special. There’s not so many of us, and I like that.
Flavor-of-the-month population surges aren’t my thing, either. I like my little group of people that enjoy the class for what it is, not the ones who felt required by their raid to reroll to it.
Most of the time I don’t even realize there was an imbalance, and I still did just fine! I tend to not pay attention to population or rankings at all until I get multiple questions about it. I’ll never be one to reroll for balance reasons.
I don’t make any money off this blog. At least, not directly. When I started many years ago, the primary way to make money was through ads, which are ugly and obtrusive and don’t make enough money to justify marring my “artistic expression”. So I didn’t do that.
Now, there are things like Patreon which allow readers to directly give back to creators. And those are great. People should be able to get paid for their work, even if it’s stuff like blogging for video games. But I’m still not interested in turning this blog into a (minor) moneymaker, for my own reasons.
Because I don’t get money from this blog, I can do whatever the hell I want. I can avoid topics I dislike (like stats and legendaries), and write about passions not many people share (learning theory, transmog), all because I’m not obligated to please a paying audience. I can fail to update or write anything for two months straight, and I’m not letting any potential customers down.
“You could do all that, and people would probably still subscribe through Patreon!” you might say. That that might be true, but for me it still feels like it would warp my selfish goals. If I have an audience that’s actually spending money out of appreciation for my stuff, I feel obligated to do something for them; to reward them for their patronage. A lot of people who subscribe on Patreon might have questions, and I probably should answer them, right?
I feel like if this were a job, it has to come with responsibility. If you’re being paid to do something, that includes doing the things someone else doesn’t want to do. And I don’t think I could make enough money through Patreon to convince me to write about boring things.
Now, indirectly I have made money off of this endeavor. Bigger sites like Wowhead pay for guides, though it’s usually just enough to cover my costs to play WoW. I wouldn’t have gotten those jobs if not for this blog. What’s probably a bigger, if more subtle, payoff is the marketable skills I’ve learned through this blog, like CSS, documentation, and learning how to answer frustrating questions in a nice way.
I’m pretty privileged to have a well paying job, and the skills I’ve learned from maintaining this blog actually contribute to my job, so that’s all the payment I need.