My Chars

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Good Heroic

Well I promised an update on running heroic with disc spec and here it is.

The verdict? Pretty damn good :)

I managed to find a PuG for heroic UP. The PuG was between reasonable and good, out of 3 DPS one (a boomkin) had a bit of lower personal DPS but made up for it with a nice party buff and decent AoE. The tank has 25k health unbuffed which is good for a PuG.

Basically the run went very smoothly, the only wipes we had were on Skadi. Even there I feel it was a matter of knowing the tactic, coordinating it and executing it and not a problem with my healing.

On one other boss fight - Gortok, I went OOM, but that is a difficult fight due to the amount of AoE damage from some of the mini-bosses before and having little or no time to drink between the mini-bosses.

Basicallly during the run I had little trouble in keeping the tank up and I never felt my mana was an issue, even though the tank kept a good pace.

So all in all I'm pretty happy with the disc spec and I intend to keep it for now. Hopefully Blizzard won't nerf it for some reason too soon :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Solidfaith as Disc

Well my last post had a little mistake, I linked the wrong build when I wrote about the Disc build I was considering. But that's okay because I've settled on a slightly different one which is this 57/14/0 build.

Basically the main issue was taking 2/2 Renewed Hope so that I had only 1 point to spend on Improved Renew. With my current gear every shred of crit counts and because crit is so central to the disc build I thought it was worth it even though my renew would tick for less. It's just a hunch since I haven't gone through any number crunching, however...

What I have done already is go to a Naxx raid with my guild as a disc priest and I'm finally feeling that my mana can last in long fights and I can be an effective healer. Of course my healing according to the meters is lower but even my friend who tanked the place and so usually sees mostly just the boss on his screen commented on all the bubbles that were popping around (thanks to Divine Aegis of course) so I know my influence was seen and felt :)

In fact in one fight which is the Loatheb fight I actually pulled ahead of the other 2 healers. I was assigned to heal the ranged group among whom I was located. So during the fight, 1 second before the healing window opened I used Prayer of Healing, which meant I got it off just after the window opened, and followed that by a Holy Nova which is instant cast. As a bonus due to the spore buff I got even more crits than usual which meant bubble goodness all around :D

I have to be fair though and admit that a Naxx farming run is not a real test of the build. The real test will be when I do a heroic PuG... I guess I'll see then if this spec can really pull its weight... :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Changes To My Chars

I've now officially added Solidstar to this site, his picture-signature is now added to my other chars. It's true he's only level 68 but he's already in Northrend and I've had so much fun leveling him so far, I don't see myself stopping till he's level 80.

Blood spec has worked great for me so far and I intend to continue leveling with it till 80, at which point I'll respec to a Frost-tanking build. Thanks to the self-healing from Blood talents I've managed to solo every 3-man group quest in Terokkar Forest that I've come across and so my leveling has been very quick. Last night I finally dinged 68 and made my way to my new home, Borean Tundra. I did a few of the quests in the immediate area of Valiance Keep before going to sleep and already managed to replace 3 of my pieces of gear. Of course this is not surprising as I'm basically wearing low level Outland greens, not even level 70 ones so it would be surprising if I could not find upgrades from Northrend starter quests.

Another big change to my characters is for Solidfaith. I've specced Solidfaith as a holy priest ever since he dinged max level and I've never looked back. However WoW changes and so must we who play it. At level 80 as a holy priest life is very different for me than as a level 70 holy priest. Mana effiency is a major concern for one thing, no more ability to chug mana pots. Add to this the fact that CoH, one of our best spells, is going to get nerfed soon. Finally other healers have gotten serious boosts to their healing while at the same time having much less mana worries, for various reasons. This means that it is much harder for me to compete in pure healing output, which was my strong point as a level 70 holy priest.

However... a Discipline priest, a.k.a. disc-priest, brings much more to the table at level 80 as compared to a level 70 priest. So while still not able to compete in the pure healing department, at least I can much more strongly complement and enchance the raid.

Based on my performance as a holy priest in initial Naxx raids I've currently respecced to this mixed 36/35/0 disc/holy build. My intention was to still keep a strong holy tree but get as many int/spi enhancements from disc. This actually worked pretty well in the sense that I now have, with raid buffs, a much larger mana pool and mana regen while still having a large amount of spell-power. At my current gear level, this build makes a lot of sense if I want to be able to put out large healing numbers while being able to sustain myself in longer fights.

However I've talked to a raider from a 25-Naxx raiding guild who swore by a full disc build, especially for 10-man groups. So taking a closer look at a possible disc priest I think this 55/16/0 build looks very interesting. Huge PW:S damage reductions, more damage reductions from talents like Grace and Inspiration, yet more shielding from Divine Aegis... as wowhead comments say, such a disc priest should make an uber MT-healer. I'll miss the group healing abilites of full holy build though... :(

Kel'thuzad Down

It's been a while since my last post, mostly due to RL issues (work pressure) keeping me busy. However my guild has continued to progress in 10man-Naxx and I'm happy I was there for most raids since it was a lot of fun.

So finally 2 nights ago we got to Kel'thuzad and started attempts on him, at first we wiped some due to not understanding tactics 100% and later due to some player errors. However we kept perfecting our execution and getting better until we got him to 9% in the last try. However it was very late and people were getting tired so we called it. Then last evening we went on him again, wiped once to "warm up" and finally got him down in the 2nd try :)

Kel'thuzad is an interesting fight and one where you really feel every player has to play perfectly in order to succeed. Of course the better your gear is the less that is important but for our gear level it felt that way.

Phase 1 is deceptively easy, just nuke the incoming adds fast enough. On all attempts we always had some adds, mostly the banshee-type, still alive when Kel'thuzad was released at start of Phase 2, but those were quickly nuked down by the ranged. So basically phase 1 is about DPS and control and not very challanging. Our main tactic there was to assign one ranged to cover ~1/3rd of the circle (we had 3 ranged) and each tank covering 1/2 of the circle. So tanks would pickup Abominations as they came in from their half (with 2 melee helping with DPS on those) while ranged would shoot skeletons and banshees before they got to the circle. Healers can also help with DPS here as there is usually very light damage on tanks.

However once phase 2 started the fun really began. First every player needed to watch his/her positioning - the 10 yard spacing between players is absolutly vital in this fight, not something "nice to have". Kel'thuzad's Frost Blast was the main challange for healers but for all players it was important to watch out for the Shadow Fissures and we even wiped a few times due to tanks not moving out from those. Even tanks get 1-shot by those :(

Phase 3 is again a healer challange as now you need to heal 2 tanks, one of whom takes increasingly more damage. So another challange is for the DPS to really nuke this phase and get Kel'thuzad down as fast as possible before it becomes impossible for the healers to keep the 2 tanks up. In addition Kel'thuzad keeps doing his abilities from phase 2, including Frost Blast, so healing is pretty tough at this point. Yet it is vital to keep up DPS as well since a dead DPS = longer phase 3 = more chance of wipe.

Our takedown fight was by no means perfect but enough few individual mistakes were made to make the fight doable.

Our guild challanges are now to down Malygos 10man and continue farming Naxx 10 since we by no means have all the fights down, some bosses we still need more practise on and will probably fight. Many people are still missing T7 gear and other possible gear improvements from drops.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My First WotLK Raid

For the last few weeks I've been playing very few hours each day, logging in late and managing at most one instance run, usually with a PuG, or leveling my alts a bit more (Solidstate hit 71 and Solidstar is almost 65). Because I logged in late each day I missed the chance to raid with my guild.

Last night however I managed to login before raid start time and as it happened they were missing a healer, so I got in. I should mention, my guild is small and does only 10 man raids currently.

First we went to Sartharion which was the first time for the guild there. Because this was the first time we first downed all 3 drakes before taking him on. I found it pretty hard (and confusing) to heal and watch the incoming lava wave, I got hit by it many times but managed to heal myself (or got healed by others) untill almost the end of the fight when a combination of adds + wave + low mana killed me. Better gear and more experience and I should be much better at that dance...

Speaking of dances, once Sarth was down (1-shotted in spite of it being a new encounter and several people dying during fight), we decided to go to Naxxramas and continue clearing it, as previous guild raids have gotten up to Heigan and wiped on him. This time we wiped the first time but the practice must have done people good because the next time we got him. Once I understood the tactic I managed to stay alive quite a long time but died to to a little lag causing me to get him by a wave in the nature phase.

Next up was Loatheb and this was truely an interesting fight for healers as the 3 second healing windows meant I had to be on my toes and really use every tool I had to keep the people up. Pre-casting Renew and Prayer of Mending just before and of course spamming CoH during the window itself. We wiped the first try since one of the other healers didn't understand the fight and kept trying to heal during the 17 seconds no-healing period, but the second try we got the boss.

Gothik was next up and he proved to be a pushover, going down on the first attempt. The fight itself was fun, we split up - 4 people for the living side and 6 for the undead side. I was on the undead side and all the people took a lot of damage - there was a lot of continous AoE damage going around. However this meant that Prayer of Mending could really be used to full effect and together with CoH and of course together with the other healer (a paladin) we had no problem keeping the people us. DPS was also sufficiently high and once Gothik himself joined us he only had a chance to stack his debuff 5 times and teleport twice before we downed him.

Alas no loot for me but the fun of being once in a raid was reward enough :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good Heroic UK Run, New Gear Too :)

Well the title pretty much says it all. I got a guild group, tank and 3 decent DPS with me healing and we went to heroic Utgarde Keep which I was told was the easier heroic. Indeed the run went very smoothly (no wipes) although the spikiness of the damage on the tank surprised me, I'm used to him having a huge amount of mitigation at 70 and suddenly even though he's got 27k life his gear isn't so great, so he gets hit harder and more often.

Still I managed to stay on top of things by using Renew, Prayer of Mending and of course Greater Heals. Mana was tough in the boss fights but I used my shadowfiend and all was well there too. I will however need much better gear for Naxx, if I ever hope to join my guild in there (they are starting this Wednesday if all goes well).

During the run the BoE Cracklefire Wristguards dropped from a random mob. This being a guild run and my bracers being not as good, the people were nice enough to allow me to need on it so I got a nice upgrade there. Lost some haste but I'm really perfectly fine with that.

Then the 3rd boss Ingvar was kind enough to drop the Breeches of the Caller which were a great upgrade for me. I used one blue quality and one green quality gems to socket them as I didn't want to go overboard investing in pants which will likely be replaced very soon. However I also took the time to get a shoulder enchant from Sons of Hodir, enchants on my weapon and bracers from a friend and a head enchant from TBC. So now I have 1.5k spell power when I have Inner Fire on (since I've taken the Improved Inner Fire talent). It's actually quite annoying to have to keep refreshing it due to the short 10min duration, I hope Blizzard add a glyph sometime that extends that to 30min or an hour.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ding 80

It took several hours of questing in Sholazar Basin, including doing the Nesingwary chain quests, but Solidfaith finally dinged 80. I actually dinged just as I returned the quest Post-partum Aggression which ends the quest line so I got both the level 80 achievement as well as The Snows of Northrend achievement.

I actually could have leveled faster but Sholazar is such a heaven for herbalists, I just had to stop every 2 seconds to pick a flower. I managed to get my Alchemy skill up to 415 thanks to these plants and plants I picked previously in The Storm Peaks. For now I'll take it easy in terms of leveling the rest of the way, I'm not planning to power-level my alchemy and really I don't have a reason to do so. But it's nice that herbalism seems to be much easier (faster) than in BC.

Once I hit 80 I respecced to Holy (I chose this 13/58/0 build). I'm not too sure about either my build or gear choices as I seem to have very low spirit, leading to low mana regen. On the other hand I don't really have the gear to allow me to have both high spirit and spell power. So my next task is to find such gear :) I will also think about repseccing away from CoH and taking the Divine Spirit talent, although I am relucntant to do this - I really love CoH.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ding 79, and 400 Alchemy too

Level 78 came and went in storm of questing. Along the way, thanks to my flying mount, I managed to pick a lot of plants, resulting in being able to level my Alchemy to 400. I haven't been in a hurry to level my Alchemy and so I'm pleased with my progress so far :)

Among other things I also dinged exalted with the Valiance Expedition, which means exactly squat as this faction doesn't have any quartermaster or rewards. Still it's nice to have dinged exalted with a faction even before level 80 :)

I also did the quest line for the Frenzyheart Tribe vs. The Oracles. I started it rather randomly but what happened was I started as a "slave" to the Frenzyheart, quickly progressing in status with them until I was honored. At this point I was given a quest by the head honcho to grab a wounded Oracle from nearby, so he could be "poked at". Imagine my surprise when the quest led me to being friendly with the Oracles and hated with my former allies :) Not only that, I was happily greated in villages where just minutes ago I had been killing villagers left and right in the name of the Frenzyheart...
This rather medium length quest line finally led me to a cave where a I was asked to kill a lich called Artruis. This is a 3-man quest but luckily some guild mates of mine could come and we quickly too him down to 30% where he becomes immune and you have a choice of killing either a Frenzyheart member or an Oracle. As I've set my sights on the Mysterious Egg I killed the little "puppy-man" and let the Murlock-man live.

I'm not sure what exactly I will focus on once I hit 80 (hopefully today), will it be gearing up my priest or leveling an alt. But I'm sure I'll have fun :)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ding 77, I haz wings back :)

Yep, I finally dinged a couple of nights ago and immediately hearthed to Dalaran and got rid of a tidy 1k gold :)

It's a great feeling to be able to fly again, and a good thing I have an epic flying mount since Northrend is so large.

The day after I dinged 77 I started the Sons of Hodir reputation chain. This is one of the most fun series of quests I've done in WoW, involving (among other things) being transformed to the likeness of a tall warrior woman, riding and using war-bears, killing level 80 elites with my own small army of mobs under my control (now I know what multi-boxing feels like :)), riding dragons (always an enjoyable experience) and even riding a huge sleepy giant :)
The entire chain, plus some extra quests and a few Hodir dailies I managed to do once I got to friendly with them, brought me after 2 days to the status of honored with them, which I'm very pleased with.

I'm also close to level 78, between all the quest XP I've been getting as well as XP from killing level 80 mobs.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ding 76, flying mount Real Soon Now :)

I pushed myself this weekend and managed to get from 74 to three-quarters of the way to level 77. Only 25% left till a flying mount! :)

I leveled almost entirely in Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills and I enjoyed it a lot. The daily quest which involves riding a dragon and doing aerial combat with enemy NPC dragons was a blast and I will definitely be returning to that and not just because of the rep :)
It does however make me wish Blizzard had put in aerial PvP with dragons in Wintergrasp and not just between planes - well here's hoping they add that as well :)

Initially after finishing questing in Dragonblight I thought to continue directly to Zul'Drak, however after 10 minutes of questing there I decided I didn't like it. The area is very dark, almost perpetual twilight. This isn't something I enjoy, it just makes me squint more and want to increase the gamma setting. In addition the zone simply doesn't look very good to me.

Grizzly Hills on the other hand is a beautiful wooded area, with streams and mountains and interesting places everywhere. There were a ton of quests and one in particular that I very much enjoyed. It involved a twist on the escort quest. Instead of walking/running next to the NPC, you get up on a horse (acting as a vehicle) with him and use the vehicle pet bar to ward off attackers as you make your way to safety, while they attack the horse and slowely take down its health bar. The speed of the chase and the excitment of trying to ward off the attackers while your horse makes its way to the destination made for quite a rush and ultimatly a very enjoyable quest.

I'm pretty sure that between doing a few dailies and finishing all my quests in GH I will ding 77, after which it will be time for exploration-XP-fest :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ding 74

Solidfaith dinged 74 last night after a furious evening of questing. I started out with a couple of daily quests, for the rep. I then continued questing in Dragonblight, having finished all of my quests in Howling Fjord.

In Dragonblight I started doing quests along the shore for the Tuskarr, earning Kalu'ak reputation. Soon though I moved inland to Wintergarde Keep and spend the rest of the evening questing there. It's an impressive place, and the dark forbidding Naxx floating high above the fields outside the keep with all of the undead running around outside really ties in the whole feel of the place, of war between the Alliance and the Scourge.
I had a lot of fun, the quest to save villagers from the back of a gryphon was a lot of fun as was the dialog between a certain cleric and an undead mayor :)
There was one short chain where I had to go down to the shore and get stories from some undead humans followed by showing them an orb which shows them how the young Arthas was the one to betray them, burning their ships and thus stranding them on the shores of Northrend. Apart from the cool factor of seeing young Arthas, I thought it was a fair reproduction of the Warcraft III plot (not that I remember that too well having played it several years ago). I thought this was a nice touch on the part of Blizzard.

I also got some group quests there, luckily I quickly found a group and even though I am Shadow specced and the tank was not protection specced, we still managed to kill Kreug without a problem. The other group quests naturally were also quite easy.

All in all I'm quite happy with Dragonblight, there is a huge number of quests to do and a wide variety, some are a bit less interesting in essence but I try to read the quest text and enjoy the story lines even when the quest itself is not so interesting. I'm sure I will ding 75 in this area although not yet sure about level 76, will have to wait and see.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Solidfaith Dings 73, Solidstar Maxes Professions

Solidfaith "ding-ed" level 73 last night, an event which I promptly celebrated by going to bed :)

I'm still only questing in HF and still have a lot of quests there so plenty left to do. However I am not sure if they turn green what I will do since I don't want to level even more slowly, I'm behind most of my guild as it is.

Solidstar got to level 62 a couple of days ago, still doing Zangramarsh quests. More importantly I found the time to level his Alchemy to 375 and Inscription to 350 (there's no reason to level Inscription beyond 350 before Northrend). So my profession goals with him are currently achieved and I'll continue leveling him whenever I find some spare time, or just feel like having fun with an uber char :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A couple of quick notes

First of all, this EJ thread on DKs DPS is a fantastic must-read resource for anyone serious about their DK. Every section there is pure gold, explanations about hit rating (which is complex for a DK as they use both melee and spell hit ratings), rotations, explanations per spec. Seriously good stuff there, if you rolled a DK and are not heading over there right now to read it, shame on you :)

Secondly, I got a solid 1.5 hours of playtime last night on Solidfaith and as I hoped, questing as a Shadow Priest was trivialy easy compared to my previous leveling attempts as a Holy Priest. So I hope I'll start leveling a bit more quickly now, as I'm still only level 71. I am alas constrained by some work pressure at the moment but I hope that eases up later on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Leveling Solidfaith as Shadow

I've broken down and decided I just can't do it. As much as I wanted to level as Holy, I have to give up on the idea. DPS too low, downtime too big.
The difference, once I specced to this 9/0/53 build, was night-and-day (fitting metaphore :)). I didn't manage a lot of quests as Shadow before going to sleep but in the ones I did do, the mobs dropped like flies.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Impressions from WotLK

Like many other people I've been keeping busy the last few days, getting to know the new continent of Northrend. In a nutshell, the quests are fun and well written, the instances are well designed and leveling is something I've always enjoyed - I love that "level ding" :)

But I should start with how I got to Northrend. On midnight between Wednesday Nov 12th and Thursday Nov 13th, a store about one hours drive away from where I live was holding a WotLK sale/event. I had pre-ordered and went with a couple of friends to pick up our copies. We arrived ~20 minutes early to find the place packed with hundreds of people and at least 2 (!!) camera crews that I could see! It was so strange seeing this massive amount of people and knowing at least a few play on Thunderhorn and who knows maybe I even know the chars of some :)

Because the line was so long and we arrived late, we only got home around 4 a.m. - much later than originally planned. Even so, I still managed to install the game + patches and take the boat to Northrend with Solidfaith before going to sleep. I had originally planned on going to Borean Tundra (from SW) but most of the people online from my guild had gone from Menethil to Howling Fjord, so I did the same.

The next morning (I had the day off from work) I did not start with my priest, instead I started a new character - yes you guessed it, a Death Knight. Welcome Solidstar to the company of solids :)

Solidstar is already level 60 at the time of this writing and to say that playing a DK was a blast would be a massive understatement. Actually I wanted more than one DK but it turns out you can only create a DK on a server where you have a level 55 char and you can only have one DK per server. Anyway the quests from 55 to 58 were simply amazing, the phasing technology and massive battles you undergo really add to the feeling of an epic class. Of course there is the epic gear that you get from those initial quests :)

I have never played a plate wearing class before and I know the gear the DK starts with at 58 is very good but it is still amazing how powerful I am. At 58 I can (and have) killed level 61 elites. Unlike previous characters where I waited till level 60 to enter Outland, I entered Outland at level 58. I really didn't have any problems, any mobs that attacked me died quickly, even 3-4 levels above me. The blood build I chose is proving itself, making sure I can heal myself and thus have zero downtime. As I'm now level 60 I'm planning to skip all of the remaining HFP quests (never did like the zone) and continue leveling in Zangramarsh. It will be interesting to see if I remain as relatively powerful in higher levels when my initial gear becomes outdated and replaced.

In parallel I played with Solidfaith, getting to know the new continent and doing quests and instances. I am currently Holy in order to provide a healer to my guild - this worked out for me in terms of being requested to come to guild runs as I have already done both Utgarde Keep and The Nexus several times, and even Azjol-Nerub once even though I was only level 71 when I did it. In terms of looks I thought The Nexus was simply amazing and I liked it the best, however the other 2 instances were not bad looking either.

In terms of difficulty it feels like Blizzard have toned down instances, both UK and Nexus were really easy runs. Even Azjol-Nerub was not too difficult even though our group was under-level for it.

The negative side of playing a Holy priest is that I level slowly, killing mobs takes a long time and the difference compared to the uber-powerful DK makes this especially noticeable. I may even respec to Shadow if it becomes too much...

Quests are fun to read and do. I've always liked the process of leveling and I find the quest text to be a fun part of that process. It's obvious Blizzard developers gave some thought to the quests, it's not just "go kill 10 {x} since they are bad"... at least not usually :)

So my first impressions from WotLK are very favorable so far. I would have liked if the 5-man instances were both more challenging and gave more XP per complete run but I can understand Blizzard wanting people to experience the massive amount of quests they designed and not just limit themselves to instance runs.

I also wish I had more time to play, but then don't we all :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Final Kara Run

This evening people will probably be getting ready with final preparations for WotLK and I doubt anyone will be in the mood to raid. Knowing this in advance, when someone suggested last night to go to a final Karazhan run we quickly got the required 10 people, all ready to blow a final /kiss to the Kara bosses.

We had 2 tanks (one of which was me on Solidd), 1 holy paladin as healer and 7 DPS. Even though we had only 1 healer and even though not all the DPS were good geared it didn't matter. We didn't wipe even once and we cleared the place from top to bottom, no wipes, in about 1 hour and 45 minutes. We didn't even have a warlock for the Illhoof fight and only a single mage, but it didn't matter - I think Illhoof managed to shackle only 2 people before we downed him.

My only regret is that once again Moroes didn't drop his Lucky Pocket Watch - predictably, I've only ever seen it drop while going through Kara on my priest or mage, never on my druid... damn you Moroes!
I also didn't get the T4 helm token from Prince, again my lousy luck meant I have seen the druid token drop multiple times - always on other chars...

All in all it was an awesome run, not something to brag about due to lack of challange but just something to say goodbye to the instance we raided most during TBC in a fun and ez-mode way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Death Knight Leveling

If you've been thinking like I have of leveling a Death Knight, WoW Insider now has a nice article on possible DK leveling builds.

As is usually the case with this things I tend to take the advice as a set of helpful guidelines and not an exact guide to how to play. So from looking at the talent descriptions and after reading the article, I think I'll start my level 55 DK with this spec, continue at 60 with this one, at 70 with this spec and at finish at 80 with this one (59/0/12).

Why a blood heavy build and how is it different from the WoW Insider blood build? Well for leveling I love two things - survivability, and little to no downtime. For a melee class this means self healing and the build I chose, especially the changes vs. the one recommended by the article, reflect this. Rune Tap (modified by Improved Rune Tap), Vendetta, Blood Aura, and Vampiric Blood should all decrease my downtime significantly. Will of the Necropolis will increase my survivabilty when things get tight.

It's possible of course that I've taken too many self healing talents, leading to lower DPS (I wasn't in the beta so I have no idea how the class will play). If I start off and see that e.g. (improved) Rune Tap is really enough to keep me up (and a 20% self heal once every 30sec does sound very impressive), I'll simply respec the other points back into more damage-increasing talents, in either the frost or unholy trees.

I'll finish this post with a couple of blood DK beta videos, one showing the blood spec used to good effect killing mob after mob in HFP and the other showing some AoE grinding in Zangarmarsh. I was impressed by how little the life of those DKs went down in most fights - exactly what I was looking for.

This is going to be fun :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Player Feedback and the Blizzard Forums

Relmstein has a post from a couple of days ago where he talks about the Blizzard forums, player QQ and trolling and the effect of this on Blizzard. He raises some points which I frankly disagree with. As background, I visit the forums almost ever day, including the class forums for all 4 of my classes, so I'm well aware of the content of posts there and of the occasional Blue feedback.

The number of hot-fixes and patch revamps caused by out of controlled forum posting is almost too high to count... Blizzard has mistakenly changed nerfs and buffs too many times based on fabricated forum feedback
Actually, the number is probably close to 0.

Blizzard patches and hot-fixes which affect class balance or other such "hot" issues have never followed a pattern of following the latest forum shouting match. In fact direct calls for nerfing are forbidden and usually such threads are locked. What usually happens is that Blizzard release a change, wait a while, realize based on game data that a fix or change is required, and implement it. Sometimes, this fix aligns with player requests. Sometimes it doesn't.

The most you can say is that players sometimes manage to bring to attention a topic that would otherwise take time to surface via testing and bug reports.

There are possibly exceptions, but they are rare and we have no way of knowing if player QQ really had any effect. For example, the recent outcry over Blizzard's decision to reset all honor points going into LK, citing "fairness to players at 80" was eventually reversed and the honor points were not wiped. How much effect did player arguments have on this decision is hard to say, since there were actually many forum posts which argued against the outcry from PvP-ers and was pro the initial decision.

That's not to say that players can't have any effect. Blizzard blue posters routinly request balanced and thought-out class feedback and we can hope that some of the issues raised by players actually make it to the devs. But again, it looks from long experience that little of the mountains of player opinion which gathers in such threads is used and certainly trollish posts have never solicited blue response (except the negative kind :)).
This is probably why they are talking about getting rid of the class forums
Actually, this decision was changed fairly quickly and the new forums were added to the Blizzard forums, instead of replacing the class forums. While weakening Relmstein's case this ironically seems to be a case of Blizzard listening to player QQ, since the stupidity of the idea of removing the class forums was almost universally hated by forum posters.
All I know is that a change in WoW's forum structure might be called for at the moment.
I think a more meaningful and helpful change would be to completly scrap (or at least retire) the current forums and build new ones based on better software, able to handle tens-of-thousands of readers and hundreds of comments per post and able to scale with increased load.

In order to help with the issue of "blue attrition" mentioned by Relmstein, It should also allow better moderation of posts, either through a select group of volunteers (which would perhaps get forum or even game perks for their work) or through a system of randmly assigning mod points to any registered user (so that at any time you would have say ~10% of users being able to mod posts up or down) and letting (in a manner of speaking) the community police itself (up to any arbitrary limit at which point a blue could step in).

I'm of course modeling my suggetion on the well knows slashcode software which runs slashdot, but there are probably similiar offerings out there which could also serve Blizzard's needs.

Existing forums could be retired and kept as a searchable archive so that information is not lost, while the content of selected stickies and guides is moved.

If it doesn't work then maybe we would just have to use fan sites like Elitist Jerks and MMO-Champions.
Just about everybody who plays WAR agrees that lack of official forums is a major mistake of the part of Mythic. So I would very much hope that Blizzard continue with running official forums. Personally I have found a lot of good advice, guides and helpful players in the forums (and I try to add my own). They may not be perfect but to dump them would be to dump the baby out with the water.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

4/5 MH, 2/9 BT

Too bad raiding MH and BT no longer qualifies you as a hard-core raider, since we are now a BT raiding guild :)

Last night my guild joined with our another guild and we went to tackle the 4th boss in MH, Azgalor (I mentioned taking down the first 3 bosses in a previous post). The waves in my opinion were more challenging than the boss, as the nerf meant the "race" against his Doom ability was very short. I managed to roll the lowest score on the T6 glove tokens which dropped - a 10. Only one more 0 and I would have had a 100! :)

However at least the fact that I was with my mage meant that I had a ton of fun nuking the trash and climbing sky-high on the damage meters. Useless numbers to be sure but still gratifying for a mage to see such large numbers :)
I actually did fairly well on the boss, mostly since I (a) didn't get the Doom debuff and (b) managed to stay otherwise alive (rain of fire hit me a couple of times but I managed to run out of it). However his AoE silence ability meant this was not a very caster friendly fight.

We went to see Archimonde but didn't engage as the fight is too complex and requires a specific group setup which we lacked - we would have just wiped and wasted time. Instead, we decided to try our luck in BT.

Flying in front of the main gates of the Black Temple, you will see down below at ground level a portal-entrance which looks like a breach in the right side wall. The entrance area was not as I imagined it - I thought it would be a dry place but it is full of water. I guess the temple sewers?

The trash was not hard at all, I guess the nerf really lowered the difficulty.

Naj'entus was an interesting fight, having to click the spined person and attack the shield with the spike in your bag. Amusingly, one of the raid members was spiked just before Naj went down, so when I clicked him I got the spike in my bags but nothing to use them on. I decided to keep the spikes for now :)

The trash before Supremus gave us our first (and only) wipe of the evening, when we accidently pulled both a humanoid patrol and 2 patrolling winged demons. However apart from that wipe and the occasional death of individual raid members we didn't have any probles.

Supremus himself I thought was a fun fight, with volcanoes erupting, blue fire being cast around and phases where he chases people. He came after me 3 times, two times I simply Ice-Blocked and he lost interest, the 3rd I ran and he got tired of chasing me :) However he had the last laugh as near the 20% mark a volcano erupted next to me and instead of turning and running or blinking, I walked backwards. Too slow... I took too much damage and died :(

Still the boss went down and so we were at 2/9 BT and I could even buy 2 tailoring recipes from the Ashtongue Deathsworn quartermaster, having hit friendly with them.

All in all, a fun evening :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I'm Currently Happy As Frost

So why am I currently happy as frost, caps and all?

Well over at Critical QQ, Euripedes made a very nice post about the state of the Arcane tree (and I agree with most of the points). However, I was struck by this sentence:

Frost is easily the most boring spec right now

I'm not sure this is as true as it used to be before 3.0.2. Sure, you're still nuking with Frostbolts, however you now have (in addition to WE summons, IV and trinket activations which you had before):
I think that fights post 3.0.2, from a Frost mage's point of view, are less of a "nuke Frosbolts till my finger drops off from boredom" than they used to be :)

In addition, one of the things I loved about Arcane before-3.0.2 was the high DPS.

Well due to the general instances nerf and the general buffing of classes, mobs are going down very fast in both 5-mans and the raids I've done such as ZA. Add to this the fact the all tanks can now AoE tank and the result is that most times runs consist of pulling the next group of mobs and AoEing them down - and CC-be-damned.

So what happens when you take a run heavy on AoE damage and a Frost mage with fully improved Blizzard which can finally proc criticaly? That's right, you get a very happy mage :)
Even if the tank losses agro on mobs, they are now moving so slowely, they can never reach you before dying :)

Solo play, both when alone and when killing a single target in an instance/raid, is more disappointing. Crit values are a bit pathetic compared to my pre-3.0.2 values. But this isn't surprising, since as an Arcane mage I had some serious buffage to my spell damage from talents.

Game play in WotLK at level 80 is something I'm not going to try and predict. Even if current numbers show Frost as being bad for raiding, Blizzard could easily change the entire picture between now and level 80. So for now, I'm happy with Frost and sticking with it for both the remainder of BC and for leveling to 80.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Regarding the Blizzard Forums

A post over at Hudson's Hidout led me to think about what would make the Blizzard forums better. Hudson wrote (about the addition of the 3 new forums):

This still dilutes the conversations, as it adds another place to check for information, thereby causing one of the boards to die I am sure. I still don’t like it either way.

I think it kinda depends on the players but if for example general healing guides, Q&A etc. are posted in the healing forum, while e.g. specific issues to holy priests are posted in the priests forum, this could work. On the other hand I suspect a lot of material which would be posted on these new forums would actually go better in a class specific forum. A priest heals very differently from a paladin, for example.

TBH ever since I've started working with tags (gmail really made me work with them in force) I have really liked the idea and I consider these much better than categories. Imagine if the forum allowed you to tag your post: "priest, healing" - instead of having to post in either the priest or healing forums.

But for that to work, search has to be done right (since the volume of posts esp. in general forums/tags is huge). Search right now in the Blizzard forums simply isn't working and even when it did, it was bad - barebones at best and with a very strange (and incomplete) feature set.

No solution is good when the basics are bad and really the basic forum infrastructure of Blizzard is horrible - no threading of replies, no tags, no search, no ability to "mod up" good posts/replies. And what's with the stupid limit on number of posts in a thread?

I also think they should let selected players moderate the forum, this would give them a much bigger set of moderators, who would volunteer in order to keep the forums useful to all. There is no way the current Blizzard moderators can follow every post and this is a pity since it causes both a lower S/N ratio and on the other hand good posts/replies get missed. Alternatively selected players (based on the Slashdot model) could get mod points and use these up to mod posts down or up. This system actually works pretty well for Slashdot posts, which while not a forum come pretty close to it.

Guardian of Cenarius

Just a quick post, I finally managed to find the time to gring CC rep with Solidd. I managed to grind 10k rep in about 3 hours which is pretty good I think (especially as there was competition) and got to exalted. So now Solidd has the Guardian of Cenarius title which is good because (a) it's good title for a druid and (b) he finally has a title floating over his head (poor alt :)).

I would have gotten to this earlier but I kept getting sidetracked on other days to do stuff like ZA (full clear in ~1 hour, insane how easy Zul'jin was - this was my first ever takedown of him) and ZG, both on my mage. I didn't need ZG but several guild friends wanted it and I figured it would be more fun than grinding rep :) Since we AoE'd a lot (mostly on trash) my overall position on damage meters was 1st or 2nd. Blizzard with crits is imba :)

Also did MH first 3 bosses one night, was really awesome raiding T5 content and being able to see new bosses and down them. We grouped up with another guild to do it and hopefully we can continue MH on Monday. My only regret was I was there with my priest and not mage so I didn't get to nuke those lovely AoE fights.

So anther pre-Wrath task is done, now I need to get busy grinding herbs and I want to do a few instances with Solidstate for the achievements. Doing a few more 25man raids would be nice too :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Preparing for Wrath

Gamer Mommy is preparing for Wrath by getting several things done. Her post led me to think of my preparations for WotLK.

I've messed about a bit with both the LK invasion event and Hallow's End. I've tried to keep myself restricted to small, easily achievable goals. The Hallowed Be Thy Name achievement seems a bit too big and too resource intensive, especially since I want to invest time in several of my chars, not just my mage.
I wanted to do achievements related to both these events because of their transient nature - soon they will be over and I will not have a chance soon (or ever) to get things like the Tabard of the Argent Dawn.

I've also been trying to grind rep with Solidd with the Cenarion Circle. Both Solidstate and Solidfaith have titles and I really wanted to get one now for Solidd. The Guardian of Cenarius title is very fitting for a druid to have. However once LK arrives, it's not likely I'll go back to grind this rep (at least not before doing many other things, and maybe even getting other titles), so it's pretty much now or never.

I should still collect alot of plants for my Death Knight (who will be an Inscriber/Alchemist). However I'm having a hard time getting around to this, with all the distractions from the invasion and Hallow's End. However I'm nearly done with those so hopefully will have more time soon.

Lower on my priority list is getting more achievements for Solidstate, like re-visiting all the dungeons that are not yet marked on my achievements list (like Doodle has been doing). This is something I want to do, but achievements like those are something I can do just as easily (more easily in fact) at 80. I like going to older instances, it's not like grinding an older rep.

As for gold? I'm not going to worry about it at all. I've found in the past that whenever I had a specific goal, even if it was 5.2k gold for the epic flying mount, I could grind the gold in a reasonable amount of time. I find both grinding gold (e.g. doing daily quests) and playing the AH quite boring, so I take the attitude of "do it when I must".

I'm not going to level any of my alts now. For one thing they are all too low and I would never hit 70 before the LK release. For another, I'm already going to roll a Death Knight so I will be focused on playing five different chars come LK. I think that's more than enough for one person to handle... :)

I'm also not doing anything special with Supersolid - he's got a shiny new level 69 gorilla so as far as I'm concerened he's all ready for the expansion.

That's pretty much it for me :)

I'll be there!

Both Hunter's Mark and BBB wrote about how they intend to pick up their copy of WotLK at release night. So I wanted to confess, I'm just as crazy and am going to pick up my copy in the middle of the night from a store 1 hours drive from my home.

I also intend to stay up until I see either the WotLK opening screen on my monitor, or a very large patch downloading. Oh, and I've taken the next day off from work :D

Unlike HM or BBB I'm not going to show up 2 hours before the opening though, my insanity has limits you know! :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Zerging Zul'Gurub

Ah, Zul'Gurub. When I started raiding, about 3 years ago, Zul'Gurub was hard. At least at first. I still remember wiping multiple times to the Bat boss. Killing Hakkar without killing at least most of his aspects before was considered impossible, and for my guild we always killed all of them and still occasionally wiped to him (although near the BC release he was becoming pretty easy).

Level 70 changed all that of course, and I haven't been there in a long time. Not much fun in something which is not a challenge, and there was always something else to do. However, last night, the guild we sometimes join with for raids was organizing a ZG run and there were a few open spots. As Solidstate didn't have the achievement I joined. We were nearly 20 people when we started, so almost full.

I knew ZG would be easy. Heck, the rest of my guild were in ZA (I logged in late) and rolling though the fights without any problem, I later heard they got the 3rd chest with ~25 minutes to spare on the timer. But I didn't reallize how easy it would be.

Trash lasted seconds, and barely hurt us. Several times I pulled agro from the tank and had a Gurubashi Berserker hitting me - I usually didn't even bother to Ice Block.

We skipped the Bat lady. We also skipped the Spider boss and Panther boss.

We downed the Snake boss and all his adds together, first by doing AoE to kill the snakes, then killing the boss. I may have managed to get off 5 frostbolts - I'm not sure. We didn't bother keeping distance from him.

We killed the Raptor boss. There were no tactics, we didn't even get ready for the fight as a priest pulled the add by mistake. The boss even killed 2 people and it made no difference. No mount dropped, alas.

Tony the Tiger and his adds went down so fast he didn't manage to do even one of those annoying AoE knockbacks that used to annoy me so much at level 60. He also didn't manage to summon any tiger adds - or if he did they went down too quick for me to notice. We didn't bother seperating the adds, just AoE'd them both. Again, no mount dropped.

We ran straight to Hakkar, skipping most trash. Once we started the fight, the MT spent most of the fight Mind Controlled. Hakkar used abilities from 3 aspects. Once or twice I even pulled agro and had Hakkar melee-ing me - I lived. Hakkar even manged to do the Blood Siphon once (and of course we didn't nother with a Son of Hakkar). All of it didn't matter, he went down. Alas, I lost the roll on the Heart, which I had never won back when I was raiding him at 60.

The entire run took about 25 minutes, not including time to invite and summon people.

On the one hand, it was fun to get an achievement so easily and quickly and not have to worry about nearly anything (keeping mana up with the fast pace was my only real worry :)). Tip to those going to ZG and reading this - kill the Bat Lady as the AoE silences from Hakkar were annoying for the casters.

On the other hand, my main enjoynment from raiding has always come from the careful planning, execution and cooperation needed to take down a complex boss. Last night's ZG run was not a raid by any definition, except for the technical aspect of being part of a group of 20 people. Of course most people would not have wanted to do the run any other way - getting a ZG achievement in ~30min (summons and all) is the fastest and best usage of that most precious commodity, time. But I'm weird :) In spite of it having been longer, I would have liked to try and re-create the feeling of challange. Perhaps by going in a group of 5 people. Or even just talking over the tactics before the boss and trying to execute them, even if they are not really needed now.

If it's hard to understand my motivation, consider this - a group that can force themselves to follow an exact and personally demanding tactic even when it is not needed - such a group can have a much better chance to down bosses that do need such tactics.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Funny Forum Quotes

The Blizzard forums are usually a source of whining and trollish posts, but sometimes there are some pretty nice ones:

Q u o t e:
You can't stay angry at a doorknob for long, now can you?

These people can. They'll also claim it is overpowered it can do the same operation as a handle whilst retaining the ability to swivel as well. The doorknob is a hybrid, it should not outperform pure opening mechanisms such as handles.

More to come... :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Wave of Hostility

People are not happy about the zombie event. In post after post on the official Blizzard forums, as well as in various blogs, a wave of hostility to the minions of Arthas is sweeping the Internet.

People are saying they don't like it due (mostly) to the fact that players can misuse the event to grief/camp/molest lower level players, even on PvE servers where this is usually harder.

I'm not going to tackle each individual point or case. I think in many cases people are right to be angry and in many cases people are wrong - for example, people have always been able to kill NPCs of the opposite faction, this type of griefing was hardly invented when the zombie invasion started.

However I'd like to say in general, in my very personal opinion I think the negative aspects of the event are being overblown. Yes, there are some jerks who misuse the event. These people have always been around, causing problems in PuG runs and they will continue to be an issue when the invasion is over. However from what I've seen, they are outnumbered by the people simply trying to have a good time and enjoy the event for what it is - a one time opportunity to do something out of the ordinary.

Not every killing of a flight master or banker NPC is the act of griefers. Not every player who tries to turn you into a zombie is a ganker. Some are simply trying to get into the spirit of the event and I for one don't begrudge them their fun, even if it inconveniences me.

I think the forums and to a lesser extent blogs cause people to make a bigger issue out of this than it is. Even a mild post can turn into a nasty argument, let alone a provocative one. The entire invasion looks like it will last only a few days. Certainly the phase where people started being actively turned into zombies in large numbers has so far been what, 2 days long? And yet people are focusing on the negative aspects as if their entire 3 years of WoW have been ruined by the last 2 days. I think people, especially bloggers and forum posters, need to take a deep breath, step back and re-evaluate whether this is such a major issue.

For many people, even a determined zombie ganker can be dealt with by using higher level alts or friends, or even asking for help on the local-defense channel (that's what it's there for, after all). At worse, you can switch locations or even log off for an hour till the ganker gets bored. Is this an ideal situation - no. But it is hardly game breaking.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Embedded Comments

Via Tobold's blog I found out about a new Blogger feature - embedded comments. Now the comments box appears below the existing article+comments instead of having to go to a separate page or popup in order to leave a comment.

Very nice IMHO, so I just enabled it :)

A Romp Through SSC

Last night my guild joined another to go to SSC. I was asked to come as a healer so I can't comment on mage DPS in there, except from looking at Recount and seeing how other mages did.

At least one mage in my guild whom I know to have good gear and a good grasp of mages was specced Arcane and came up only 5th or so in the raid, not bad but not brilliant either. First 2 places were hunters and the third was, hold your breath, a Retribution Paladin. Nerf! :)

Trash were a blast, people rarely died (unlike before the patch) and the trash went down amazingly fast. The new CoH was sweet to use, I used up mana like there is no tomorrow but it healed like crazy.

Hydross was 1-shotted. We went through 3 phase changes before he was down and luckily all DPS managed to stop in time and not pull agro to the wrong side. The new AoE abilities of all the tanks I am sure helped a lot in tanking the adds.

Lurker started out badly, the tank somehow got knocked back, causing some melee to get agro and die. Also a few people didn't jump in the water fast enough and died from the spout. Luckily the fight was easy enough that the rest of us managed to recover and finish the fight.

From there we continued to Morogrim, wiping a couple of times on trash. Even in a nerfed raid tanks need to make sure people are ready and wait if healers are still rezzing people... Anyway Morogrim himself was easy, easier I think than Lurker. The ability of tanks to AoE-tank meant none of the healers was ever in real danger from the murlock adds.

Karathress was next and again we wiped on trash... hasty pulls ftl :(
But thankfully the boss himself was a snap. I managed to die to the spitfire totem while healing the MT but the other healers on the MT didn't have a problem keeping him up even near the end and once the raid finished the last add and went on the boss, he went down quickly.

Last for the evening was Leotheras. Of course, you guessed it, we wiped on trash on way to him. Sigh. By this time everyone was getting a bit tired (~3 hours since raid start) and making mistakes so we wiped the first time, mostly since we couldn't keep the warlock tanking the demon phase alive (he was BR several times during the fight). We tried again but failed. Third time, the warrior MT simply continued to tank him during his demon phase and we managed to do it, although just barely. Most made it alive to the final stage where he splits up (I even managed to kill my inner demon) but the demon form started fire-blasting random people and killed about half the raid before they managed to bring down the humanoid form.

We decided to call it a night after Leo and not try Vashj as it was getting late for most people. Also being a complex fight, she will probably wipe us a few times and it's best to try her fresh.

For a couple of guilds full of people who had barely set foot into SSC in the past, this was a fantastic night. Both Karathress and Leotheras were first kills for the vast majority of people. However in no way did I feel SSC was trivial for us, as evidenced by the multiple trash wipes. Yes it had become very easy, but it was still possible for individuals to die or even for the raid to wipe on both trash and bosses. So there was definitely a feeling of challenge there, even if it was mostly in keeping our mistakes from killing us ;)

Overall I enjoyed the run, I even got some new epic shoulders which should help me a bit while leveling :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Supersolid the Gorilladin

Having taken the time to re-spec my other 3 characters, and achieving the heck out of Solidstate (you know what I mean :)), I decided it was time to prep my hunter for WotLK.

Logging in to Supersolid and respeccing was fast and painless. Super will never be a raider (probably), so the correct max-DPS spec, shot rotation, gear etc. all don't matter. I specced BM - 55/3/3 currently. If I have agro problems due to lack of focus with my pet, I'll spec 11 points in MM in order to get Go For the Throat. Max fun, E-Z mode leveling and playing for this guy. Only really meant to have an easy time with him to grind leather, ore and gold.

Once I specced and also put in talent points for my cat, I decided it was time to get a new pet. Good old Notallthere has served me well since I dinged level 19 but now that leveling a new pet has become easier and now that all the pets have changed, it was time I felt to get a new pet. I was really impressed by the BRK Gorilladin movie (even though the name "Gorilladin" is slightly silly :)). In addition, it helps that the Gorilla is a tenacity pet, perfect for my goals.

Of course I didn't want any old Gorilla, I wanted the cool looking Uhk'loc. However I have very little patiance for camping, so in the end I tamed U'cha. At least he has a nice looking fur, even if he isn't as nice looking as Uhk'loc.

As soon as I tamed him he dinged 65, as per the new system, me being level 70. I fed him, specced him and started doing daily quests in the Shattered Sun Offensive Island.

What's that you say, why are you taking a level 65 pet to tank level 70 mobs, are you daft? I guess I am, because I did it :) It actually wasn't all that bad, a little kiting, Frost traps and concussion shots were enough to serve most times. It was not as easy as it would have been with a level 70 pet but even as a level 65, Gorilla (no I haven't named him yet :)) was in no real danger of dying. Plus I got some nice gold out of it :)

After doing the 10 Island quests I continued to grind mobs in BEM and finished the evening when Gorilla dinged 67. I think 2 levels in one evening is very nice and I think once he dings 69 I will consider him ready for LK.

I have to say the experience of taming and leveling a new pet has been made much more friendly by Blizzard, something for which I as a casual hunter am really greatful. I'm even considering getting one of those cool looking Core Hounds as a pet, just for the novelty value :)

As for playing a hunter post-patch, what can I say, it was easy before, it's even easier now :) I switch to AotV once in a while to mana up. Overall my DPS was not bad but again this isn't really a concern for this char so I wasn't trying to optimize or anything. I will over time try of course to improve this since it makes it easier to grind when mobs die more quickly, but it's not a priority atm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Having fun with content

Last night as I logged in I was invited to an AQ20 run organized by my guild and a guild we sometimes raided with. We started about 17 people and filled up over the run to the full 20 people. We managed to wipe on Ossirian once due to pulling an add in parallel to him and the tank not picking up the add in time, leading to healers dying. However otherwise it was an incredibly quick run, without any worrying about tactics, mobs/bosses abilities, etc. Just run and nuke everything.

As many people have noted, the new talents and the general nerfing of instances has led to raids being incredibly, sometime ridiculously, easy. I don't have a problem with that. At this stage no loot that drops, except from BT or SWP, means anything anymore. So when I read people blogging or writing in comments in blogs or forums about how sad it is that raiding is now so easy, I have to scratch my head. I can understand being sorry you didn't manage to take down a boss before the nerf, but why be sad about the current state of affairs? I read about people complaining about how easy Karazhan has become - if you want a challange, why not simply go to a harder instance, or try an instance with fewer people?

For us this is exactly what we did last night - after we downed Ossirian we decided to try AQ40. I had never managed to take down the first boss and I think few if any of the people in the raid had, so this was new stuff for most of us. We actually wiped there 2 times before downing him - first when clearing the adds in front of him we pulled the boss by mistake, and the second time when he managed to wipe us due to the Mind Controls and the adds he summons. Still in the 3rd time we managed to get him down. With ~20 people in the raid it was not a trivial fight and I although I was there as DPS (on Solidstate) and not as a healer I think the healers did have to work a bit harder.

Alas, we had to stop after Skeram to a server shutdown. Later I came back online but most of the people had logged for the night so I just completed a few more Achievements (fishing FTW :)) and went to sleep.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poor Solidd, What A Mess

Tonight for the first time since patch 3.0.2 went live I finally logged on to Solidd. I've been so busy grinding achievements on Solidstate I haven't had time to take care of my druid, but I decided it was finally time (for no particular reason).

My poor druid, what a mess he was post-patch :(
Without talents and with sub-optimal gear (still 2 pieces of clefthoof), I had 10k (!!) less armor than before the patch. Several hours later, I finally have my tanking and DPS items sorted out (at least partially) and my talents invested.

I now have more dodge than before, but slightly less health and a lot less armor (~8k less armor). That kinda sucks TBH but I was expecting it.

Apart from spending time on my talents and gear, I also spent some time with macros for both my bear and cat form. So for example I now have my mangle activate my trinkets, and my cat auto-attack also includes both Barkskin and Berserk (I want both up as much as possible when I'm hitting stuff as a cat). Again, still not done there. For example, not sure if I should auto-activate Barkskin as a bear. Guess I should but as a bear I want to optimize it a lot more than I do as a cat. However I tend to forget long-CD abilities so this will probably be something I'll automate.

I did 3 daily quests on the SSO Island just to see how my cat DPS stacks up. Must admit I am very pleased, I had good DPS and the new way Blizzard have implemented to let energy go back up is infinitly better than before and means I need to wait a lot less for my next Mangle or whatever.

So Solidd was a mess before I logged in tonight, but he is doing much better now. Next project - Supersolid... :)

Solidfaith BTW got the uber-quick treatment, as I was invited as healer to a quick UBRS run to get the Jenkins title with him a few days ago. I could have gone without talents but since I logged him I decided I might as well organize him. Did it in less than 5min, unlike the hour or so I spent on Solidd tonight. I most probably didn't pick the best holy build but even if I am called to heal a raid I doubt I will have any problems, I got most of the important talents I think.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Luck is a big part of WoW. Obviously, for some things no, or little, luck is required. For example I got my "The Diplomat" title 2 days after patch 3.0.2 went live after I finished grinding exalted rep with the Timbermaw. This required little luck, just the ability to grind.
Same with the exploration achievements I finished yesterday (only Northrend left :)) - there was no luck there, just the time needed to run around.

However as part of my exploration I had to go and discover Orgrimmar. Since I was already there, I figured I would go inside and do the Ragefire Chasm instance for the Achievement. Took quite a few deaths but I finally made it. By the way, Shattered Barrier was increadible, really helped a lot. Every time I would rez I would first of all put on my Ice Barrier. Quickly I would have a bunch of guards on me, hitting me like I was aiming to kill Thrall or something ;p Ice Barrier would quickly break and poof - suddendly I'm running alone, leaving all the guards far behind me :) Invisibility was also my friend :)

Anyway once I did the instance I figured as I am inside Orgrimmar why not catch a fish in order to get The Fishing Diplomat achievement done. So I ran a little more to the closest pool (another 2 deaths), fished a single fish and got it. Well, as I was already in a pool, in Orgrimmar, with a fishing pole in hand, I figured - why not give it a go and try to catch Old Crafty! He's also needed for an achievement! Alas, I did not have any luck - first I spent 30min fishing without catching him, then a horde hunter decided it would be fun to gank me and that pretty much put an end to my fishing.

So in general I much prefer those things in WoW I can get done without depending on luck. Usually, I simply don't have luck :(

However, last night, to offset the disappointment with Old Crafty, I got very lucky indeed. I went to do the Headless Horseman with some friends. Didn't even plan on doing him last night, we wanted to do some heroics, but all the Outland instances were bugged and could not be entered. So we decided instead to do the Horseman. As all 5 of us had not yet done him, we could summon him the full 5 times.
The 4th time, The Horseman's Reins dropped. We all rolled need, and I won! Talk about lucky, first I got lucky the item even dropped, then I got lucky by winning it. Soon after I had the Headless Horseman's Mount in my mounts window and when I summoned him after porting to Shattrath I was blown away - a flying horse is very awesome :)

So I dislike depending on luck, but when I do get lucky? It's awesome :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

More 3.0.2 Impressions

I ran 2 heroic instances today with Solidstate, Sethekk Halls and Mana Tombs. Both with my Fire build. I don't know if Blizzard nerfed Heroics but the mobs went down in next to no time. As a Fireball is a 3sec cast and my other spells don't have the DPS to compete, I was either 3rd or even 4th in damage (behind even the Paladin tank!) Only during AoE could I really compete.

I don't know whether it was due to the other classes or just the short fights but I didn't really have any mana issues. Sometimes with very fast chain pulls I would still be drinking but not often.

On both practise dummies and the summoned boss in Sethekk Halls (which let me build up 5 scorches and nuke) I got to over 1.2k DPS which is good - on par with my pre-patch DPS. However any short fight or caster-unfriendly fight (such as the first Seth Halls boss), my DPS lagged badly behind that of the hunter, druid and as I said sometimes even behind the Paladin tank.

The heroics were insanly easy, sometimes we would pull 2 groups at the same time, sometimes we would pull agro from the tank - it all didn't matter, the mobs just went down increadibly fast. Even bosses didn't last long.

After the runs I switched to the full Frost build I mentioned in an earlier post and went to nuke a test dummy. Guess what? Again 1.2k DPS! Of course this is the combined damage from my WE but still, Frost doing same damage/dps as Fire... Why would anyone take Fire?

Annoyingly, the length of time I managed to nuke the test dummy as Frost before going OOM, including using 2x gems and Evocation, was only 25% or so longer than the time I lasted as a Fire mage. So Frost is not as big an improvement as I thought it would be with regards to mana.

I'll continue to Arcane spec if Frost doesn't work out for me, but I still need to try it in a run or other more real situation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Patch 3.0.2 First Impressions

First of all let me say the new patch graphics, entry screen, new loading screens - everything looks good. In terms of looks, this patch is a winner. I tried setting the new shadows to highest setting and it looked nice but my frame rate dropped from 75 fps to 15 :) So I gave that up. But everything else looks fantastic.

The new UI elements all worked well and were nice. The mount/pet interface took me time to understand due to server lag issues which prevented me from playing but once that cleared up it became clear what was going on. The new Achievements screen was a lot of fun to play around with. I was a bit annoyed by all the new "[x] has achieved " messages in the chat window. I didn't find a way to turn them off, even though I ticked off the appropriate box in the chat settings. Probably a bug which I hope will be solved.

Addons - I started with all turned off and started turning them on one by one. Even though I had updated them using the Curse Client, I still had a few which I had to manually update (beta version was not updated, release version was old) and even then a few did not work correctly even then (Outfitter :( ). Still I hope the authors will quickly update all of these.

However I started playing late and with all the playing around with addons, getting to know the new UI and trying to get a few new achievements (Shave and a Haircut :)) time passed quickly and I found myself near the end of the time I could play and still without any talents.

Now to the interesting stuff (for mages :)). I took my 0/58/3 build I outlined in my previous post and learned the new talents, then went to practise a bit on a practise dummy in Ironforge. BTW I have to say the new practise dummies are a fantastic idea, will help a lot in theorycrafting and understanding relative merit of various builds. Too bad I couldn't level my melee skill on them - at least even after a minute of hitting one I didn't get any skill points :( Just make sure you pick on a level 70 one to test your talents - a friend picked a level 80 one by mistake and couldn't understand at first why all his attacks were missing/resisted :)
Right away I noticed my damage per Fireball was not higher compared to my Frostbolts before the patch, and the crits were actually lower. This was an increadible disappointment. Another big issue was mana regen - it was very low and I was running OOM very quickly.

I teleported to Darnassus and flew to Felwood in order to try out the spells on low level mobs (the Timbermaw mobs which I had been grinding for rep). It felt really bad. Before the patch, I was one or 2-shotting these mobs with Frostbolts and was basically able to run around and never drink because my regen was higher than my usage. Now, I was still one or two shotting mobs but my mana was running our insanly fast. I have no idea how full Fire can be now used for anything with such high mana usage and low regen, but now I better understand why beta mages were QQ-ing about mana issues. I am sure as Arcane or Frost I will not have these problems but I was really hoping to have some fun with Fire, plus with the other two trees my DPS will go down even more.
I am also worried about the relatively low damage my fire spells were doing, while it's true my spell power dropped due to missing the Arcane tree talents which increase damage, my fire spells specifically should still have been doing more damage. Adding the occasional instant Pyroblast and refreashing Living Bomb might be good for DPS but will make my mana issues even worse.

BTW the Timbermaw repeatable turn-in quest gave me 330 rep now istead of 165 before the patch, so this was seriously buffed by Blizzard. Nice, will be it much easier to get to Exalted :)

I'm going to try installing an updated Recount and if it works spend as much gold as required to fully comapre my DPS and damage and mana usage on practise dummies for several specs. I'll start with my current spec and compare to a 0/0/61 full Frost build. If I have mana troubles with full Frost, I think I'll give up on my mage for a while and play with just my druid and priest :(

Speaking of my other chars, I haven't even started looking at them... sigh, so much to do, so little time... :D

In spite of the intial server + lag problems, addon and talent troubles and misc small bugs I would say this patch is a huge success. The new content is captivating and while I will be disappointed not to top the damage meters any more, I still expect to have lots of fun - maybe even more than before :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Build for patch 3.0 - Solidstate

This Wednesday patch 3.0.2 is coming to WoW, bringing with it many changes, not the least to the talent trees. As there will be about a month between patch 3.0 and WotLK, I need a good spec for Solidstate that:

  1. Will be useful to me at level 70 for about 1 month.
  2. Can be used for mainly soloing and raiding/instances
  3. Is fun.
I've already decided I will go full Frost once WotLK arrives as it is simply the best leveling spec possible. Therefore I have decided to go Fire once 3.0 comes, specifically this 0/53/8 spec.

I went with fire because I want to try something different before I respec to "boring-old Frost". I want it to be good, or at least viable, damage in raids. I also from looking at Arcane just don't see a good raiding spec there at 70 since the AB nerf.

My choices for talent points started with the requirement to have the extra 3% spell hit chance from Elmental Precision, meaning I had to spend 8 points in the Frost tree. Everything else was put in the Fire tree, mostly I tried to take talents that would increase my crit chance and spell damage. Regarding the spells I didn't take:
  1. I didn't take Improved Fire Blast because I just don't see Fire Blast as a viable part of my spell rotation.
  2. Burning Determination is a clear PvP spell so that's out. Although it would have come in handy in some specific fights, I just couldn't spare the points.
  3. Impact - pure leveling/soloing/grinding spell, not really useful for my purposes.
  4. Molten Shields - silly spell :)
  5. Blazing Speed - PvP.
  6. Fiery Payback - I was confused about this spell description. Reduced damage is always nice to have but hardly essential for a mage. Increasing the CD on Pyroblast while decreasing the cast time? That's good for what exactly? It looks to me like the developer here couldn't make up his mind...
  7. Firestarter - nice to have but I don't see Flamestrike as being all that useful even as an instant cast. Especially if you're close enough to be using Dragon's Breath or Blast Wave on the mobs.
  8. Playing with Fire, Hot Streak - I had 1 point left to use up. PwF looked like the more solid upgrade to damage. HS the more fun talent. I went with fun :)
It's really too bad about the Arcane tree, I really liked being an Arcane mage with "uber" damage. Ah well, back I guess to doing mediocre damage, at least untill WotLK is out and we all start leveling...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Solidstate exalted with Sporeggar

Just a quick update, in little less then an hour I finished getting to exalted. I did the repeatable quest "Now that we're still friends" a few times rather easily, except once when a slave was attacking me and kicked me while I was trying to cast Frostbolt and I couldn't understand why I clicking the Frostbolt button did nothing until I noticed the cooldown on the Frost buttons due to the kick. Used Arcane Explosion afterwards when fighting those pesky slaves :)

After I hit exalted something a little depressing happened. Specifically what happened was I saw the Fhwoor Smash! quest light up (I later read it becomes available at exalted). On a whim I decided to take it, even though it said that it needed 3 people. Of course the first part went okay but then the elite showed up and killed me.

This is one bummer which illustrates one of my pet peeves with the Mage class. A level 65 elite is not a problem for a level 70 Hunter, Druid or Paladin. To a lesser extent, a Rogue or Warrior will also do fine (depending on gear). A Warlock has a fighting chance if the elite can be feared. But a mage? Most of all quest elites are not kitable - immune to both the slowing effect from Frostbolt. So as powerful as my mage is, for all my immense power, I am essentially helpless against such a mob even though it is 5 levels beneath my level.

Solidstate gains rep, Solidd gains Swift Flight Form

It's been a while since my last update, partly because RL has prevented me from both playing and blogging much, and partly laziness :)

On Solidstate, I've grinded Cenarion Circle rep, from just above revered to exalted. Almost 21k rep, done in just a few days of playing. How was this possible?
First of all because of the current Human racial 10% bonus to rep gains, which meant each turn-in of Encrypted Twilight Text gave me 550 rep instead of the usual 500. The announced changes to racial bonuses, including the removal of this racial bonus to Humans, is part of the reason I decided to do some rep-grind now, before patch 3.0.
Secondly because as an Arcane mage running around 1-3 shotting the various Twilight mobs in Silithus with Frostbolts, using the Mage Armor on me meant I simply didn't need to drink - my mana regen was higher than my mana usage. Once or twice in a long while I did stop to top off, but it was much much easier than killing mobs at my own level, which forces me to stop and drink after every 3-5 mobs. The one exception was the elite Twilight Prophet which required some AoE due to kill her 2 adds and took a few more spells to finish off the prophet herself - not that I had to drink after killing them but it usually brought me down to 70% mana and as a mage does around 300 DPS (wand) without mana, I never like to go much below that. Matter of habbit, even when fighting much lower level mobs. It has saved me a corpe run more than once in the past :)
Thirdly I stuck to grinding and left enough room in my bags so that I didn't have to go every X minutes to the mail or vendor.
Lastly, I usually went down to the southern most camp, I was always alone there, unlike the camps closer to Cenarion Hold which were many times visited by other players.

Now that I'm exalted with CC I'm trying to get my Sporeggar rep up to exalted, haven't had much time but it shouldn't take long - I'm now at around 19k/21k :)

Solidd has finally done something I've meant to do for a long while - the Swift Flight Form quest. I entered heroic Sethekk Halls with 4 guild mates, me tanking of course. This was actually a few days ago so I don't remember the exact group composition or run details (except that we wiped only once on some trash). But the fight itself with Anzu the Raven God was fairly easy, even though I didn't really manage to hold agro on the adds that spawned they went down easily enough. Alas, no raven mount dropped. However the Swift Flight Form is a joy to use. It is beyond me why regular mounts have a cast time, as having an instant flight ability is just too much fun. Maybe Blizzard are afraid of PvP issues but I wish for the same of all of other characters they would reconsider.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Respeccing Glyphs

Glyphs are going to be a not-inconsiderable and constant drain of gold/resources on every serious raider.
Why do I say this? Because of the fact that while some glyphs are good for solo play - grinding, daily quests, etc. - some are better for raiding. So a serious raider will want to switch back and forth between the glyphs.

Consider for example Glyph of Frostbolt. This will be a must-have glyph for a raiding frost mage, as the slow component of Frostbolt is (almost?) never needed in raids. However the +5% damage is invaluable.
However as soon as you finish the raid and want to go do your dailies, what do you do? If you leave it on you'll lose ability to kite the mobs, a core feature of playing a frost mage. We don't want to get hit on by the mobs, that's for fire mages to endure! ;)

So what can be done? Nothing much in my opinion. Do your homework, select which glyphs you'll be replacing regularly and which will stay and get a large stock of the ones you'll be switching. I'm hoping the extra cost of switching glyphs will be offset by the reduced cost of using less mana and health pots during raids, but we'll just have to wait and see.

As for leveling 70-80 and doing instances - if you're worrying about glyphs while leveling, you're either waaay more hard-core than me or over-optimizing. Consider the fact that a shadow-priest can be a healer for an instance run while leveling - do you really need to tweak your glyphs?

For leveling 70-80 my current plan is to go as Frost on my mage. My prefered glyphs will be: Glyph of Water Elemental, Glyph of Mage Armor and either Glyph of Evocation or Glyph of Mana Gem. I might switch to Glyph of Frostfire at 75 - I'll have to wait and see :)

For my other characters I still haven't taken a look but I will have time as I really won't have time to level all of my chars at first.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On Mage QQ and balanced posts

I like reading wowinsider. As a site that gives current news, opinions, tips and helpful articles it's a one-stop place for all your WoW needs. Various bloggers, each an expert in his/her field/class, all contribute to the site, making it a place for any WoW-enthusiast, regardless of class or specific game interest.

So it's unfortunate that my favourite class, the mage, has gotten an article that has gone over the deep-end with a QQ post. The entire article complains about a single talent, Deep Freeze. Mages have been known as the QQ class but as far as whine posts, this one takes the cake.

Seriously, does a single-point talent, even if it is the top most one in the frost tree, warrant writing an entire whiny QQ post about? Are we supposed to be serious about this article when the writer states about the talent that "Its fate will determine the viability of an entire spec in PvE"? Really? Just below Deep Freeze in the talent tree lies Chilled to the Bone, a fantastic 5-point talent which every frost mage will take. Sure, the next talent sucks and is currently not worth the extra point. So what? Slow sucked (pre patch 3.0.2) through TBC and that didn't stop me nor many other mages from speccing Arcane and nuking the living daylights out of anything in raids and topping damage meters.

The article specifically states PvE viability, so I'll go out and say it right now - Deep Freeze will have ZERO impact on mage raid viability, with or without the damage component. Barring a massive re-working of this spell, the only ones who will really care about it are PvP-ers.

Perhaps frost mages (or mages in general) will have damage problems in raids. That remains to be seen. But Deep Freeze, with or without damage, will not be a factor in increasing this damage or determining whether a mage has a raid spot.

Does it suck that our 51 point talent isn't as cool or helpful as that of other classes? Yes. Is it a spec-breaking issue? heck no!

This has been a whine post about a whine post, brought to you by a mage irritated by mage whining :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

WoW Endgame and The Journey

Keen, a blogger I have been following for a while now, has a nice post up about "The Journey vs. A Means to an End". He writes that WoW is both types, where the WoW endgame is the "End" part and the leveling process is the journey. To quote:

In World of Warcraft when I was playing through for the first time it felt like an amazing journey... The third, fourth, and even the tenth time through the leveling process became all about 'How can I get through these levels as fast as possible so that I can raid, pvp, etc.'

So for Keen, as least as I understand it, the leveling process was the journey, and the endgame (raiding, PvP, etc.) was "the End".

I beg to differ.

WoW's endgame is where a player (or rather character) will spend most of his/her time, unless you level extermly slow or play for a short time before canceling. Blizzard know this, and have made sure the endgame remains captivating by allowing your character to progress even while not being able to level. This progression can take many forms: simply finding new places and seeing new content, getting new gear, advancing in reputation with various factions, progressing your trade skills (e.g. getting new recipes) and of course, for those who like it, improving your PvP skills and getting higher Arena rating.

Dinging max-level, in WoW, has always been a beginning, not an end. It unlocks new talents, allows you to wear level max-level only gear and go to max-level only content. Progression pre-TBC meant doing regular level-60 instances (Strat, Scholo, etc.) for good enough gear to enter MC, followed by getting the next harder boss down in MC, followed by BWL, followed by AQ40, etc. In TBC, 5-man instances formed a much larger part of the progression, with a greater variety and heroic versions too. Attunments also were a big part of TBC originally, providing a clear path for players to follow while attempting to progress.

It was only recently that I dinged 70 on my druid so I still remember both the satisfaction at getting yet another max-level character and the slight apprehension I had on the new horizons opening up before me - would I be a good tank? How hard would it be to progress my tradeskill (LW), gear and faction reputations? As I starting tanking normal instances, followed by heroics, I had a deep satisfaction from seeing my little bear become a big bad tanking machine. The culmination (for now) was in tanking nearly an entire Karazhan run. The journey I had done on my bear to be able to do that, since I dinged 70, was a journey by any definition of the word - dinging 70 had not been "the End" for me by a long shot!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gruul and Magtheridon

Last night my guild joined with another guild in order to have 25 people so that we could begin raiding again (not counting Kara or ZA as raids ;)). Even with 2 guilds bringing people it was not enough, one of our people brought his brother (a tank) and the GL of the other guild asked a friend (healer) to come, otherwise we would not have had enough people.

Our guild leaders decided on Gruul and Magtheridon for the night, as those are easier fights and we would get a chance to see how the guilds cooperate and how individual players do. For many of us those fights are old content, but there were people who joined who have never been to any 25 man raid. Both guilds joined our TS server and created new chat channels for mages, healers etc. in order to better coordinate efforts.

There are only 2 mages with stamina gear and experience in tanking the HKM fight in my guild, myself and another. As there are no such mages in the other guild and the other mage was not online last night, I went on my mage to this fight.

Clearing the adds on the way to HKM went fine, I was surprised to see myself high-up on the damage meters as there are some very good geared people in the other guild (left a BT-raiding guild as they did not like the leadership). I did die once but in my defense those ogres have a wierd agro mechanism as I was not even close to being 1st or even 2nd in Omen...

I switched to my stamina gear for the actual HKM fight, what can I say, it's nice to have nearly 15k stamina :)
First pull went okay for me, I got Krosh to stand right where I wanted him and stole his shield and it felt like it was going smooth, paladin healing me had no problems. However the rest of the raid had problems due to (from what I later heard) mis-assigned tanks, and the try had to be aborted (reset). On the second pull the hunters pulled a second before me and Krosh got to around the middle of the area before targetting me, causing some people to be in range of his AOE and dying. However everything else went smoothly and we downed HKM without further problems.

On Gruul himself, I let out all the stops, blasting away with Arcane Blast whenever I could. I found a good spot near the wall where I was far from other people and at most had 1 person close during the Shatters. I also got lucky with the cave-ins, none landed on me. The result was I was first in damage according to my Recount, which is pretty amazing as Gruul, with all the silences, is not a caster-friendly fight. As we had some top-rate healers and tanks and the DPS was not too bad we managed to down Gruul in the first attempt. Another nice thing for the evening - my mage even got some loot, the T4 token for the pants - as no one else wanted and I greeded for my stamina set (I replaced the green pants I had been using with the S1 PvP pants you can buy with the token).

After Gruul we all went to Magtheridon. As we had a healer leaving I was asked to bring my priest to this fight - I didn't mind as I enjoy healing as much as I enjoy nuking :)

In spite of 2 "surprise" pulls of the mob-packs around his room we managed to clear all the adds without wiping and got ready for the actual Magtheridon fight. As everyone was almost ready, the Raid Leader asked one of the tanks to stand closer to his add. The tank somehow managed to click the add while getting closer to him and started the fight before all were fully ready and in places!
Thankfully the other tanks and healers made a quick recovery and grabbed their adds. The DPS was at first a bit low (shocked maybe? :)) but quickly got into it and were on the last add just as the boss released. I was busy casting heals left and right and group-healing so I didn't see when exactly the last add went down but it all went smoothly. The cube clicking which is the part which usually wipes raids actually went very smoothly, I guess thanks to the fact that all the people there were experienced.

Near 15% at least 2 people (including one on a cube) and perhaps more got DC'd mid-fight, causing half the raid to die due to the blast from the boss. In the remaining fight I took over the un-manned cube and we manged to take down the boss with only half the raid alive, although it was a bit slow :)

All in all a very positive experience as 25 man raids are a lot more fun and involving than 10 man raids. We have plans to continue with SSC/TK - I hope it will go well.

Oh a side update - Solidd managed to get to exalted with Argent Dawn. Yey :)