Leading with Lightning: An interview with Moshne

This week, I was fortunate to have another friend graciously accept my request for an interview. Moshne has been known to dabble in Shaman theorycraft, and also has an item that drops off Ordos named after him. He frequents the AJB forums, and can sometimes be found at MTG tournaments. For those of us in <Something Wicked>, Moshne is also our GM and Raid Leader. As someone who has played the game since Vanilla, he brings a nuanced and experienced perspective on numerous paradigms within the game today, as well as a keen analysis of things to come.  Thanks for being with us here today Moshne!

Hello! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been playing WoW? What class(es) do you currently play, and do they differ from what you played in the past? Besides WoW, are there any other games (not limited to PC games) that you enjoy playing?

I started playing WoW shortly before the open beta. I originally started on a rogue, as I wanted something completely different from what I’d been playing in Everquest (I was a Shaman and a Bard there. The WoW shaman around the BC era is a pretty good hybrid of those two EQ classes.) I’ve played mostly continuously since then, taking a small break during Vanilla when the servers were too unstable. Outside of WoW I don’t play a lot of games anymore, it takes a fair bit of my time. Between tiers I play a lot of the Civilization series and (shamefully) way too much Puzzle and Dragons lately.

<Something Wicked> has been around for quite some time. Can you briefly take us through the history of the guild? Was it founded with high-end progression in mind, or was that something that it grew into?

We created SW in mid-late Vanilla with the idea of being a raid focused guild. I’m not sure we really knew how to define “high-end” progression at the time, but we had a similar mentality as we do now – do as much as we can with a very trim schedule. We have been a three night guild since the beginning, though I think we’ve gotten better at it since then. The guild originally formed through probably pretty typical means. We absorbed a flailing guild, recruited what we could and eventually trimmed ourselves down into something that was a bit more manageable. There are some colorful (sometimes less than noble) details, but those are best saved for getting out of me during late night Mumble chats.

In addition to being GM of <Something Wicked>, you’ve also been its raid leader for quite some time. Looking back, what have some of your most memorable moments as a raid leader been? Do you find yourself nostalgic for certain elements of raids that are currently lacking (3-tank encounters, 40 man raids, etc)?

I’m absolutely nostalgic for some of the things that have vanished. I miss multitank encounters specifically, not necessarily because the encounters were better, but I appreciated the guild design that it supported. Most of the things I miss in the past are related to changes in raid philosophy that have altered the way I’ve recruited or prepared for raids. BC was a high point for me from this point of view, as I appreciated balancing the various utility roles that have sort of vanished from the design paradigm since then. The most memorable points for me are the ones that demonstrated the community within the guild:

  • Killing Illidan was when we really felt we were a “legitimate” guild. It was a tangible victory for a lot of people when we’d prior to then been pretty considerably behind the curve.
  • When we transferred to Whisperwind at the end of Wrath every single raider came along for the transfer, even the initiates we had at the time, and all of the non-raiders who were actively playing. It really showed me the level of community we’d built within the guild.
  • A few years ago we had a guild meetup in Las Vegas. We had some eye opening surprises finally getting to meet people we’d been playing with for years. I discovered we had a charismatic group of raiders that I found were great to hang out with outside of the game. I’m still in contact with many players, some of which were there and I consider them to be good friends. I’m not sure if Margaritaville in Vegas is actually a good bar, but I have memories of it being fantastic because of the memories made there.

Speaking of raid leading, can you share your thoughts about the state of raiding this expansion? Does anything about the raiding paradigm stand out to you as having been particularly fun or, on the other end of the spectrum, particularly boring?

The Good: The encounter design has been fantastic. There have been a number of new feeling mechanics in a game that is nearly 10 years old, which is a fantastic feat. My favorites, in no particular order: Gara’jal, the first tier Sha, and Siegecrafter. Surprisingly, I also have fond memories of the earlier outdoor bosses as well.

The Bad: The beginning of the expansion felt a bit grindy, but it seems this has been acknowledged.

The Ugly: Pacing, pacing, pacing. The first tier was about a month or two too short. ToT could have been a few weeks longer, and now, SoO has been out for too long, with no date for it to end. This is a mistake that has been made before, and Blizzard is aware of how it affects players. I’m disappointed to see it made again with little discussion about it from the devs.

Factional imbalance among raiding populations has been brought up a lot this expansion. As a raid leader for an Alliance guild, how have you found recruiting to be over MoP? Do you feel that better racial balance in Warlords of Draenor will have a meaningful impact on this imbalance?

I think faction imbalance is a major problem and it has absolutely caused a negative impact on my guild. A number of players are just not willing to come over to the Alliance side. I don’t think this is because they just like Horde more, but as a purely economic/practical concern, it is more expensive and risky to come to the minority faction for raiding. If they join us, and it doesn’t work out, they are looking at more likely than not having to pay the faction transfer fee again. It makes more sense to just stay on the side with more guilds. I’d like to see the server transfer and faction transfer fee to be merged together rather than separate so players can pay the same amount to join any guild, regardless of faction. This might actually make the faction imbalance worse (as Alliance players could go Horde), but it would make the downside of being on the minority faction significantly less. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the last guild standing on Alliance side, as long as it isn’t twice as expensive to join us. I don’t think the racial changes will do a thing. I think the racial imbalance before was overblown, and really wasn’t the reason the imbalance exists. People are going to join the faction that has more people, it just makes sense. You see it in every game with factions; the racials were just a nice scapegoat. The changes feel good, but they aren’t fixing the real problem.

Getting back to MoP for a moment: What has your experience as an Elemental Shaman been across various forms of content? What do you feel are some of your spec’s biggest shortcomings, and what hopes do you have for your spec and the class as a whole in WoD?

Elemental has been hamstrung by being given too much movement and burst. These are things that are advertised as class assets, but good players minimize the amount that movement affects them, so being balanced against it ends up being a net loss. Finally, concerns about our burst (mostly in PVP) has made scaling issues. All that said, the class has been mostly fine this expansion. I have minor complaints, but they are being addressed in WoD already. Removing the constant ability to cast while moving should go a long way to fixing the devs hesitation to increase our damage.

On a larger scale, what have you thought about class balance as a raid leader this expansion? Have you felt compelled to stack particular classes/specs for progression, or avoid others? How does this compare to your experience in earlier expansions?

Honestly, I thought it was fine. I’m hardly a Blizzard apologist, but I really didn’t have many class concerns. I was one of the people complaining about melee problems early on, but it never really impacted my recruiting, and honestly we’ve been pretty melee heavy most of the expansion, and I never felt like it really held us back. The only class stacking that comes to mind in MoP is really just warlock supremacy. There have been a handful of fights where we’ve wanted some niche ability, like DK grips, or some rogue gimmick, but it never really affected recruiting in a major way. My biggest “stacking concern” this expansion has really been anti-healer stacking.This isn’t in favor of any one class, but against an entire segment of the raider population. There was a notable downward pressure on the number of healers required and against certain specific healers. “Class Balance” arguments tend to focus on DPS, but I think most DPS just can’t see the forest for the trees. If there was anything broken in class design this expansion, it was in the healing department.

Warlords of Draenor promises a number of major changes and new features to the game. While we (sadly) aren’t in Beta yet, what have some of your initial impressions about some of these features been? Examples include Garrisons, the item squish, stat changes, etc.

I don’t really care about the item squish at all, it is a non-event. If I was forced to have an opinion, I’d call it positive just because it might make people comprehend data more easily. The stat changes, I’m withholding judgment on. I have some concerns about a world where reforging is gone and secondary stats become more important when other issues with secondary stats aren’t being answered (capping stats, and disproportionate scaling being my personal peeves) Garrisons I’m sort of in a “wait and see” pattern as well. If they don’t matter for raiding, I probably won’t care about them. If they do matter, I’ll probably hate them. But hey, I loved pet battles and I assumed I’d dismiss them too, so we’ll see!

If there were any one announced decision/change about Warlords of Draenor that you wish could be averted, what would it be and why?

I’ll admit I haven’t had my ear as close to the ground as others. I’m in sort of WoW apathy mode right now until there is actually a game to play again. My only real concern right now is not having shared lockouts between the different raid tiers. I’m worried there will be pressure to run multiple runs of the same zone a la ToC. I’d consider that a massive failure.

It’s pretty hard to believe WoW turns 10 this November! Do you think <Something Wicked> will do something special to celebrate? Speaking of celebrating, how has it been meeting guild members in real life at events such as Blizzcon?

I’d like to think we’d done something. That is around the time of BlizzCon. There has been some talk of getting a guild house and maybe having a bigger get together. Nothing really set in stone. I think I addressed the rest of that above, but it is really the highlight of running the group. Without that first Vegas meetup and subsequent Blizzcon get-togethers, I’m not sure I’d still be playing. I play for the community and that is really the biggest thing.

Tell us the first word/phrase that comes to mind when you think about any of the following: “Mythic Raiding”, “Melee vs. Ranged”, “Bonus Gearing” and “Amber-Shaper Un’sok”!

Mythic Raiding: Feels like New Coke branding

Melee v. Ranged: Are the DKs and Rogues really complaining about fight design?

Bonus Gearing: The Loot System will endure.

Amber-Shaper Un’Sok: I hate bug zones.

Last question: Why do the birds cheep so much whenever you queue your mic?!

They are just really friendly. The mic picks up their sounds much more loudly than they actually are. When I call home, I hear them like the raid does, but sitting around they are just background noise. I suspect the reason they talk is they hear people through the headset and are constantly responding to it. Happens to me when I’m on the phone too. They just really want to say hello!


Interviews: A Quick Note

I’d apologise for the fairly sporadic rate of posting that’s been going on over the past 2 weeks or so, but the majority of you are likely already aware that I’ve had severe computer issues to deal with- not to mention that I guaranteed sporadic posting when I first began this blog!

I did, however, wish to make a note about interviews on this blog, such as the one I posted a few days back. Recall that this blog is strictly for my personal use/analysis, and thus has no particular community role or niche to fill.
That being said, some of the feedback I received in response to the interview made me think that it would prove to be a fun exercise to repeat in the future. I like that this is a space where I get to voice my own thoughts, and I can see the potential in occasionally hosting other voices as well. I’m very fortunate to be friends with a number of WoW players whose views and role(s) in the community I find quite interesting and worth sharing.
The fact that I’m able to conduct interviews in a purely textual setting, on a relatively unknown blog also allows for a much more relaxed atmosphere- something that some people who might not feel comfortable in a larger, spotlight-esque situation can also appreciate. Finally, the fact that I’m likely to only approach people I’m personally acquainted with means that there’s no set pace or time constraints under which I’d need to operate.

So, tl;dr? Expect more interviews in the future. I make no guarantees about who, when and how, but expect them nonetheless!

Reclusive Youkai: An interview with Mione (a.k.a. Mionelol)!

Today’s post consists of an interview with one of #Acherus’s core members! Mione has been a member of the #Acherus family since the inception of the channel, and has steadily grown from being someone I admired from a distance, to becoming a channel mod and someone I consider a close personal friend.

Mione, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences as a top world raider, avid soloer and Touhou fan with us; just remember that in the end Flandre is still best 2hu!

Welcome! Why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been playing WoW? What class(es) do you currently play, and which guild do you play with?

Hewwo I’m Mione and I play a DK in <Envy> on the EU-Kazzak server, ranked #4 in 25-man for both Lei Shen and Garrosh. I’ve been playing WoW since the first day of Vanilla back on the French PvP server Illidan, but never played in the Vanilla Beta. I used to play Warcraft III quasi-exclusively prior to that (surprisingly, I mained Undead…).

I played a Mage in Vanilla, then an Elemental Shaman and Warrior in TBC, and finally a DK from WoTLK onwards. Did play quite a bunch of PvP until Cataclysm, grabbed a few gladiator titles here and there (highest rating being 28xx at some point during WotLK), and I even used to be a mod on Arenajunkies, but I completely stopped PvP’ing when I broke up with my SO who happened to be my arena partner! <.<

Regarding PvE, I was in top~50 guilds until Firelands, exclusively playing on French servers at the time. At that point my current guild, <Silent>, somewhat fell apart during the summer, and a few remaining members of the guild decided to do a great performance before completely quitting the game. We swapped back to 10-man with this tight knit (?) group, and snatched a West First on both Heroic Spine and Heroic Madness of Deathwing on that difficulty (much competition in 10-man, rite?).

By that point the majority of the group decided to quit, while a few of them turned casual or joined other guilds. That’s when I made the jump to English servers and joined <Envy>, and I’ve been happy here since then.

My current alts are an Elemental Shaman, and a Prot/Ret paladin, both of which I’m quite terrible at. I’m barely any better even worse than a LFR hero.

Besides raiding, you’re a notable figure in the soloing community. What is it about soloing that appeals to you? How do you approach a new encounter that you’d like to solo?

I mostly find appeal in the challenge it presents. I like difficult video games and soloing is one of the very few ways to turn WoW into a challenging game in my opinion.

While raiding, a big part of the difficulty comes from coordination etc, wheras while soloing you have noone to blame but yourself for any mistake that may happen. I like blaming myself <.<

Coming up with creative/out of the box strategies is also part of the fun (Elegon and Reliquary of Souls being good examples), especially when it comes to bosses that would be impossible otherwise. Finally, being one of the first people (if not the first) to ever solo a boss always feels a bit gratifying, although I try to minimize that as much as possible. But hey ego is always part of human nature and you can’t deny that!

Regarding how to approach a “new” encounter, this might sound generic but I approach them just like we approach a new encounter during progress. That means a lot of thinking before even engaging the boss, coming up with some ideas, and already knowing the general lines of my strategy when I begin attempts.

Generally speaking, I require very few attempts to kill new bosses. It’s extremely rare for me to spend more than 20 attempts on a given boss, and when it happens it’s either because of a RNG-driven element or because of an extremely tight number check.

In terms of progression, what were some of your favourite bosses to approach as both a 25HM raider and a soloer this expansion? Were there particular bosses that stood out for you?

As a 25H raider: Dark Animus, Siegecrafter Blackfuse and Paragons of the Klaxxi. OH AND ZOR’LOK, how could I forget my favorite ability of all times, Attenuation.
(Magdalena’s sidenote: You should all check out this *awesome* video of a very um… unique… strategy for Heroic 25 Dark Animus that Mione decided to implement during progression!)

As a soloer: Ragnaros (normal mode), Yan-Zhu the Uncasked (Challenge mode), Will of the Emperor, Elegon, Gunship 2.0.

As both a raider and a soloer, what have your thoughts been on Death Knights been this expansion? Are there particular aspects (specs, glyphs, talents, rotations, etc) that you’ve felt could be improved?

Blood: Going to be blatantly honest: I feel like we were one expansion behind. Our MoP model was a slightly improved Cataclysm model (which would have done extremely well in Cata itself), but not comparable to any other tank’s model. Death Strike scaling off actual damage taken instead of unmitigated damage was simply not up-to-par. As a result Blood has always been underpowered this expansion, IMO. The lack of DPS coming from Blood (compared to BrM, etc) was the icing on the cake that made Blood completely undesirable in any progression setting. Not unplayable, as Blood was still within a somewhat reasonable margin from the other tanks – just undesirable.

In terms of playstyle however, MoP Blood was the best the class has ever seen, minus 2-3 minor issues (DRW!). It’s fluid, it’s engaging, it’s all around healthy and fun. Despite all I said above, I still played Blood on a few progression fights, namely Will of the Emperor, Shek’zeer, Lei Shi, Sha of Fear, Dark Animus, and Garrosh. I’m generally the offtank of choice if there’s any need for a 3rd tank for any given encounter.

Frost: DW is mindnumbingly boring (disclaimer: my opinion), while 2H is fun. Killing Machine is ignored, but quite frankly I never remember a time where it really mattered (even in LK it didn’t matter that much, let’s be honest). I also don’t think a world where the current Killing Machine would matter would be fun to play.

I wish Frost had some more engaging mechanics (ICC rotation with glyph of pestilence was way more fun than the current ones), and stopped being so dependant on Howling Blast on single target. Generally speaking I still think Frost didn’t adapt at all to the Cataclysm rune model, and will never really work until both sets of runes regenerate at the same time. Permanent death runes alleviated the problem, but ultimately it remains there. Soul Reaper is a good example of this, seeing as how awkward it is to try to integrate it into the 2H playstyle

Unholy: I’ve never been a fan of Unholy to be frank, and I’ve barely played it outside of ToT during Festerblight’s days. As such, I honestly don’t feel qualified to comment.

This expansion has seen a number of other classes (Warriors, Paladins, Warlocks and Monks most notably) also become very capable soloers. How do you think they stack up compared to the Death Knight? Have you ever played or thought about playing one?

I think Monks are actually comparable to Death Knights (arguably better), aside from the fact that they lack Anti-Magic Shell, which can be a dealbreaker on certain fights, and have slightly inferior single-target damage in low vengeance scenarios. In every other respect, I feel that Monks outclass DKs.
Fortunately for DKs, single-target damage is still a very important metric, and I have access to way more gear, much more quickly than any Monk currently interested in soloing.

Warlocks are … Well, dunno. They are blatantly overpowered so IDK 😀 Nerf pls!

Warriors and Paladins are similar to Monks (Warriors only in medium-high vengeance scenarios), except they lack a lot more damage in low-vengeance scenarios.

We often see mentions of Touhou on your youtube channel- both as a game, and the music that you use in your WoW videos. What is Touhou? Why do you play it, and what can you tell us about Touhou music?

Touhou is a video game series created by ZUN, a drunk Japanese guy. Generally speaking, the game is a 2D vertical shmup (Shoot ‘em up) where, instead of playing as a plane against tanks or other planes, you play as a magical girl against other magical girls. Of course, bullets are replaced with magical bullets. The goal of the game is to dodge these bullets, which come in various patterns, speeds, shapes, directions, etc.

I play it because of the music, quite honestly. It’s fun and challenging (although the difficulty of Lunatic is overstated IMO), but the BGM is what appeals me the most; I’m not attracted to any other shmup. Touhou music, which I blatantly use and overuse on my Youtube channel, has some magic in it that simply touches me. Although it has diminished a bit lately, the community and circles around Touhou have a lot of creativity and there is an innumerable amount of arranges in nearly every possible genre, whether it is electronic, orchestral, metal, piano, happy hardcore, dnb, jazz, rap, dubstep, whatever.
My favorite circles are Jerico’s Law and Demetori.

Besides your Youtube channel, where else might the community find you? Do you post on particular forums or hang out in certain places? Who is that purple-haired girl we keep seeing on various forum avatars?!

#Acherus of course. I’m Miyako on there.
Twitter: @maiohnee
Reddit: /u/mionee
Twitch: twisparkz (Yes! It’s all cute and stuff, but I stream maybe once a month if even that). You can always PM me on MMO-C, I guess… Well no, screw that.

The purple haired girl is Miyako Shiina, which I do not recommend googling!

Getting back to WoW for a moment: We’ve seen some major reveals about changes coming to Death Knights in Warlords of Draenor. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on what you’ve seen so far? Any particular concerns?

Blood: Every single change is magnificent, ASIDE FROM THE FACT WE END UP WITH ABSURD DOWNTIME. Yes, that is in capslock, and for good reason: We currently have over 50% downtime and no, I’m not kidding. Fix this downtime issue, and Blood is going to be a magnificent spec.

Frost: Nothing was changed yet besides a few minor QoL changes. I don’t think Blizz has anything particular in store for us anyway, which is disappointing.

Unholy: IDK. Nothing changed much, just like Frost, but Necrotic Plague has interesting implications. Can’t really tell until we hit level 100 to test Necrotic Plague though =X

Overall: Losing Army for Frost/Unholy is sad, losing Raise Dead and Death Coil for Blood/Frost is even more sad. Otherwise nothing particular to note yet.

I would appreciate removing RE in favor of a talent that allows both sets of runes to regenerate at the same time.

Speaking of Warlords of Draenor, what are your thoughts on the expansion in general? Changes to mechanics like Hit/Expertise, bonus gear rolling, Garrisons, item squish, etc.

Hit/Exp being removed is a great change, but I don’t like how they are removing reforging because of it. If anything, with the removal of hit/exp reforging would not have been a nightmare that required addons anymore, and would have greatly helped to compensate for…

The loot changes: I am extremely skeptical that anything good will come out of it.

Garrisons: I don’t care about them in the slightest :X

Item squish: I will test it in old instances to make sure that our player power level remains the same compared to old creatures, but that’s about it. I don’t particularly care about the numbers themselves so I don’t really understand the need for a squish either (aside from going out of bounds).

It seems like we have a very long time to go- September 24th of this year at the very least- before Warlords of Draenor premiers. Do you still see yourself playing WoW if and when the expansion comes out? Will anything major change for you, if you do?

IDK! 😀

Tell us the first 3 words/phrases that come to your mind when you think about any of the following: “#Acherus”, “Developers”, “Warcraft” and “Death Knights”!

#Acherus: Fengore.

Developers: Not perfect, but deserve way more credit than the general populace gives them.

Warcraft:http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/qkdwe6z6tc4fuov/coilnova.mp3 – This was literally my entire childhood.

Death Knights:http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/qkdwe6z6tc4fuov/coilnova.mp3 – Same deal.

Last question: Why on Earth did you agree to an interview with Mag?!

He promised to stop biting me.
(Magdalena’s sidenote: I totally lied.)