My Chars

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PuGs Since Patch 3.3

There seems to be more than the usual amount of negative posts on various blogs lately about pugging since patch 3.3 was released.

The latest I read was this rant by BBB, who is usually much more calm in his posts. But I've read other negative posts from other bloggers about the quality of PuGs since 3.3.

This has me a bit puzzled since I must admit I haven't run into nearly as many bad PuGs as BBB or other bloggers I've read and I PuG a lot on Solidd. Granted, I'm usually the tank and being the tank means I can still save the PuG even when things go bad, but still, I would have expected more bad PuGs based on the amount of negative blog posts and I just haven't.

I hardly ever run into people who are outright rude or refuse to listen when told they are doing something wrong. One memorable time was on an Old Kingdom heroic, we had downed all the bosses except the big mushroom dude at the end, so we were running around mob packs we left behind, going up the stairs and jumping down behind a mob pack around a fire so as not to pull them or the patrol of a humanoid+2 elementals. However a warlock in the party didn't dismiss his pet and of course his pet pathed down the stairs and pulled agro from both the static mobs and the patrol which was just passing. To add to this the patrolling mob from below (the mushroom area) was also pulled by range agro as we were too close to the end of its route and so we had a seriously merry fight on our hands. I popped CDs, mass-taunt and started swiping like crazy to get agro. Luckily our DPS were good and we survived. After the fight was over, I wrote in party something like "hey mate, that's why you always dismiss your pet before jumping! hope you learned your lesson :)", all friendly like. The warlock replies "it doesn't matter". Doesn't matter? The idiot nearly wiped us on trash! Out of the blue comes a group kick vote, I hit "hell, yeah" and the warlock missed out on an easy last emblem. Maybe a Triumph Emblem didn't matter to him but it felt good that the entire group knew he was being a jerk.

What else? Well obviously I also run into many DPS who on the one end of the spectrum are very low and on the other end are very high and pull agro. To tell you the truth? Doesn't really bother me. Heroics are so easy these days, I don't mind if people are doing low DPS as long as the run goes smoothly and is wipe free. They almost always are. If someone is obviously AFK or leeching, I will vote to kick them. But I haven't met many of such people and never more than one in a group.
On the other end are people with very high DPS who in spite of my fairly good (for heroics) threat manage to pull agro. These are usually Warlocks and Fury Warriors, but not always. For me TBH this usually adds a little extra interest in an otherwise too-smooth run, as I play ping-pong-taunt with the mob being pulled. Or sometimes I'll let it go, knowing the DPS is high enough to take it down before being killed themselves. An extreme case of this was one run where I was grouped with two people with over 4.5k DPS. I usually lost agro on all but the mob I was directly on. It never mattered, as mobs died so quickly the healer had little damage to heal. But "worst case" and the DPS died? That's fine with me too, their repair bill and so forth. Again as long as it didn't cause a wipe, why get excited about it? The only thing I don't like is DPS pulling mobs instead of me as tank, since that can easily cause a wipe. Usually a quick "next time you pull you tank it" warning will do, if not a kick vote usually does the job.

I've run into very few people with "attitude" problems. One time in Old Kingdom I started out as tank and right away I saw I had a DK with the "thorns in ass" problem, he was nuking sometimes before I got a single hit in after a pull and since he had high DPS many times he pulled agro. Still because his DPS was high and the mobs were going down, I held my peace. However the healer we had was not too good (not well geared and played badly too) and I kept having to hold back to give her time to drink up. One trash about mid-run the DK got impatient and I saw him pull a big patrolling mob. I held back thinking he would die quickly but then I noticed he had 47k health. Obviously he decided I was too slow and that as tank he could speed things up. Well I had no problem with that, I switched to healing spec once the fight was over and we creamed the next boss, although of course now DPS was lower since the priest stayed as healer - maybe no shadow spec, I never asked and she never spoke up. However we had the same problem as I described before, in trying to save time the DK tried to bypass some mobs by going around them and jumping down from the top of the stairs, however a warlock or hunter (I forget which) forgot the dismiss his pet and pulled the nearby static group. And a patrol. While the DK was running out front and without looking back to make sure all passed safely was already pulling the second patrol... needless to say, we wiped - the sheer damage output of those mobs coupled with interrupts (I was hit with Curse of Tongues 3 times) was too much. So much for being in a hurry and trying to save time... but what annoyed me really was the DK blaming the healers for the wipe! He was like "2 healer and you couldn't keep me up that's pathetic". Yeah, big surprise, either he was new to the instance or had never healed and had no idea what kind of burst those mobs were capable of. Basically, he was an idiot with an attitude and caused one of the least pleasant PuGs I have been in.

I've PuGed with many people who didn't know basic tactics for various trash or boss fights. Sometimes they said in advance and I explained the fight, sometimes they didn't and therefore died or caused a wipe. You might not be surprised to hear that on the first boss of the Old Kingdom group from the above story, we wiped because the priest healer (who as I said didn't heal well in any case) didn't know to stand on top of me (so I could swipe as soon as the adds were not immune) and the DPS didn't kill the big add quickly enough. so the healer quickly died and we wiped. After the wipe I explained to the priest the tactic, I wasn't mad at her for causing the wipe or voted to kick her, sometimes people will get kicked for admitting not knowing tactics so I would not kick someone even for causing a wipe unless it was done on purpose or with disregard to the group.

I think the one thing that bothered me about BBB's rant was his insistence on teaching others how to play correctly. Yes, I understand DPS doing badly is annoying, but no one likes to be told how to play their class and telling them "stand behind the boss" probably did more harm then good. Maybe not. I've been in PuGs with 2 bad DPS (below my damage), never 3. If I had I might have left, it seems BBB and other bloggers ran into such groups more often.

Maybe it is that U.S. players are less mature than European players? Or maybe I've been partly more lucky and partly more picky, as many times my PuGs tend to be me and a friend or two, lowering the number of totally random (and failing people).

I'll finish with a story about Halls of Reflection. This is my least favorite heroic to PuG since it is so easy to wipe there. Well I don't chose to go there on purpose but sometimes it will come up randomly. One time, I had a group made up of a druid healer, and 3 DPS including a warlock. My preferred tactic for HoR is to have the 3 DPS focus kill ranged adds, if they have CC use it otherwise just focus kill as quickly as possible, while I keep melee busy. Since the ranged don't hit hard the healer should be okay in keeping the DPS up. In this particular group I was counting on a DK to pull ranged mobs to him and "tank" them while the other 2 helped him. First pull went fairly okay although already I saw the DPS going after separate mobs. However next pulls became harder as the DPS were spreading their efforts, causing the healer to have to heal the entire group like crazy not to mention spike damage on me due to stuns which make my 40% dodge chance useless (one of the nastier aspects of tanking HoR). On the wave where we wiped I actually saw the DK DPS-ing the melee adds for some reason... anyway after the wipe I'm flying back, thinking how I can explain to the DPS that they must follow my tactic and what I can do to improve our chances, when the warlock pipes up and asks how to enter the instance he can't find the entrance.
Note, this was not a day or two after 3.3 release. It was more like 2 weeks and this guy still didn't know where the entrance was?
Well, it took me, literally, 3 minutes of patient typing to explain to this guy how to find the entrance. While I was doing this the DK decided to leave, maybe he thought we didn't stand a chance with the group as it was. Maybe he got bored. A few seconds later, the druid healer left.
After all my hard work, the warlock left the group without even a "ty" as soon as a entered the instance. Wish I could remember his name so I could put him on ignore list, the ungrateful twat... At this point the one remaining DPS was wondering in party chat if we would manage to find replacements. I didn't want to get the deserted buff so I stayed and lo and behold a few seconds later we did manage to get a healer (priest in this case) and 2 DPS to finish the run. It wasn't easy, the priest actually helped with CC apart from healing but we got it done without wiping. I was as proud of that PuG as I was disgusted with the previous one.

All in all, I am still very approving of the new LFD system and the PuGs I have found through it. I still prefer as many guild/friends in it (who wouldn't) but even most complete PuGs have been fine. Solidd basically doesn't have any more Triumph gear to buy for his tanking gear and is close to finishing buying Triumph Resto-gear, so PuGs have certainly been good for me gear-wise. If your experience has been otherwise, I hope you have a happy new-year and a better 2010 :)

P.S.- the one kind of PuG I do completely detest and avoid is a raid PuG. Almost without fail at least for me these have been complete fail-fests full of idiots and jerks of the worst kind. Maybe when x-realm raid PuGs are possible I will try them out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Honor's Code has a good point

There's a good post over at Honor's Code about the new LFD system and wait times. In a nutshell, wait times are short now because many raiding tanks are doing one daily heroic for the Frost Emblems and once the need for those drops, so will the number of tanks.

It's a good point but I'm not quite so pessimistic. Certainly I don't think we'll be back to the wait times of pre-3.3 for the simple reason that you are now queued up with people from all realms on your battlegroup so at least on average you should be able to find tanks/groups faster.

However apart from the above point I don't think Honor's Code is taking into account just what a change the new system has made with regards to gear and instance difficulty. Since Triumph emblems give 232 gear, which is way above what is required for 5-man heroics (apart from HoR), alts, off-specs and casuals will all gear up quickly. This will be aided by the new system allowing you to run an unlimited number of heroics each day.
I think that for a long time to come, long after most raiders stop doing a single daily random heroic on their main, groups will still be able to find tanks and healers quickly. And unlike before patch 3.3 these won't be under-geared but will probably be actually quite well geared compared to level of gear required for doing heroics.

Of course that doesn't help with people who are well geared but have no idea how to play or do the instance, but that's another story...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Updates to Healing ICC

First of all there is a nice post up at Dreambound about healing ICC-10 as a Resto Druid. Actually it was posted Dec. 9 so I'm a bit behind the times but better late than never :)

The guide is a bit too focused on general fight mechanics for my taste but is otherwise very good. I disagreed with some points, e.g. the need to run away from Marrowgar's whirlwind - there is no need, it can be easily out-healed. A much more serious problem is the blue fires now shooting out in seemingly random directions as he moves across the room. However as Dreambound correctly points out, healing while moving is much less of a problem for Druids :)

Secondly I wanted to share a couple of observations from last night's 10-man ICC run with my guild. This was the 3rd group going so we used 2 off-spec tanks and 1 alt healer, still cleared it with very few wipes. I definitely noticed Marrowgar seems much easier in 10 man at least, so it is not as much of a challenge as it used to be.
For Lady. D., nothing much to add to what I wrote, except I noticed DnD really does do quite a bit of damage even if you move out quickly, so if you get that mid-cast, stop and run. Also I died since I didn't notice a ghost coming for me. Gah :)
Gunship Battle we actually managed to wipe once. Seems the gun operators were new to it and were not correctly DPS-ing the axe throwers, so they pretty much nuked us. Make sure your gun operators know what to do and how to do it and nuke the axe throwers or you may find healing a tad more hard than I made it out to be... :)
Deathbringer - we wiped twice with me as Holy, I didn't switch to Disc since I figured, hey, we're 25-man geared so taking him down in 10man should be easy right? Well after 2 wipes I switched to Disc and before I knew it he was down to 28% life before caster the first Mark!!! So anyway I've given up on having a Shadow spec as I'm tired of paying for Holy<->Disc switches only for Deathbringer. I'm now MS-Holy and OS-Disc, so will be able to easily switch to Disc just for Deathbringer.

Oh and is it just my guild's luck or is there a serious lack of healing cloth items dropping from ICC, either 25 or 10 man?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Healing ICC 25 as a Priest

This is a post about healing the first wing of ICC, hopefully I'll remember to do followups for additional wings as they open up. I'm not going over boss tactics, except as they relate specifically to healer, as there are enough good sources of information for general tactics.

The first boss is rather healing intensive but don't expect to top healing meters here. Paladins and Shamans assigned to healing the tanks will/should get consistently high HPS output due to the massive amounts of damage the tanks take. You can help by shielding the tanks pre-pull and after every whirlwind as well as using Renew and PoM. However most of your healing should go to the raid, especially on spiked people. PoM/Shield a spiked char if he was low on health to begin with and follow up with three fast FH followed by a (now slightly faster thanks to Serendipity) GH if anyone needs it. If not you can probably use that fast GH on a tank, steal some of that HPS from the tank healers ;p
During the whirlwind stage, even a Renew should be enough on anyone in range, plus of course shields and PoM (well as a holy I don't use shields much but if PoM is on CD and the target already has Renew a shield while moving can help). This stage is all about moving out of the blue fires while basically ignoring the whirlwind - renew/PoM yourself from time to time and you should be fine. However due to the now random directions of the blue fires you will find yourself moving a lot, so anything beyond the occasional FH will be hard to pull off and AoE heals will be of limited use due to people being spread out.
The most important thing to do at the whirlwind stage is actually at the end, just get away from wherever the boss is - he resets agro, has a freaking huge hit box and his cleave will of course 1-shot you. On the other hand don't run so far away from the tanks that you won't be able to help keep them alive at the transition. So basically, never stand in front of the boss (where the tanks are) but not too far from tanks.
Site-stepping blue fires during the tank-n-spank phase is easy, I usually go right-left, e.g. first line of fire I move to the right, next one I move left, back to my original position (if possible). Sometimes it will be right-right-left-left as the first line sometimes does not completely pass before the next one comes. A short duration (less than 1 second) of being in a fire is okay but don't attempt to stand and cast in one. This fight is all about instant casts and short duration heals, except for the occasional GH on a tank with low health.

Lady W., the second boss, has 2 phases. An annoying one and a less annoying one :)
Well in terms of healing the first phase nothing special comes to mind, except make sure to move out of the Death and Decay the boss does and use Fade if an add is slow to be picked up and you get agro (shouldn't really happen though). Mages should be able to sheep MC'd chars but if you are close enough a quick fear probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Just make sure to keep up tanks as some of the adds hit for stupid amounts of damage. I call this stage annoying because there are times with practically no healing required and times with some serious spikes. Tends to throw me off.
Phase 2 is slightly less annoying as the entire raid is much more bunched up and furthermore taking occasional damage from frost-bolt barrage, keep up Serendipityx3 and nuke-heal this with a quick PoH + CoH combo. Keeping up PoM is of course a must. Watch out all the time for ghosts, a quick shield might save some DPS who is too focused and not moving from the ghost, as for yourself always move since even a shield won't be enough probably to save you. Overall a much more relaxing fight than the first boss, much less moving about and less healing intensive.

Gunship battle - I'm guessing Blizzard put this in as a sort of "here's a relaxing reward, prior to the hell that 4th boss is". Seriously fun fight and very little healing required. If you're on the boarding crew, basically only the tank needs to be healed and everyone else should take only incidental damage. If you're on the side staying in place, sometimes a melee might stand too close and too long next to a whirlwinding add, or the tank might get some spiky damage from several adds on him, but really I spent part of the fight jumping around on my rockets doing a little damage to the boarding adds. There is a very nice caster ring that drops here by the way, so save your DKP :)

This brings me to Deathbringer, by far the most healing intensive fight in ICC's first wing. As the only priest in the raid, I respecced to Disc for this fight. If you have multiple priests, only one needs to respec to Disc although perhaps more can be better. So anyway this is from a Disc point of view.
Your first and main task is to keep the tanks bubbled at all times. This means of course PW:S and as many Aegis procs as possible. In addition you should be bubbling and emergency healing Marked targets and people with Boiling Blood. Note that main healing of Marked targets is a paladin task as they can keep up 2 such targets with beacon, you can just help out especially past the 30% frenzy mark. Pop pain suppression once on the first tank after a few seconds from fight start, it will be ready by the time you hit 30% however you will not at this time be able to use it on the current tank due to having two tanks very close in agro and the 5% agro reduction Pain Suppression causes. Instead use it on a Marked clothy to ease the healing on it.
The main problem as a healer with this fight is mana, as you basically want as many Aegis procs as possible on the tank, you'll want to keep casting throughout the fight. Use your Hymn and pet wisely and be ready with a mana pot. Do NOT let yourself run OOM near the end since it is at the very end that the fight becomes most intensive, with new people being marked much more frequently and therefore the chance of a Marked person dying, as well as the tanks taking very large damage spikes. If you must, stop healing before the 30% mark (or at least ease up) to let your mana regen a little prior to the most critical part of the fight.

That's pretty much it. So far my guild (which previously cleared ToC-hc-25 up to and including Twins) has cleared ICC with relative ease, except for a few wipes on Deathbringer and even there I suspect it is more a matter of perfecting player positioning and fight tactics that it was an issue of gear. So if you have full or even mostly 245 gear you should have no problem healing in ICC.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3.3 First Week Impressions

Well it has been a week since 3.3 came out and I continue to be pleased with it, especially the new LFG tool.

I've been doing a lot of random heroics, mainly on Solidd but also one per day with Solidfaith (for the Frost Emblems). Although the teams I have been grouped with have varied in ability and success, the new system is an enormous improvement over the previous system in all cases, regardless of which people you are pugged with.
First of all actually getting a group together is much faster, even if you go as a DPS but especially as a healer or tank. In fact I already have the Perky PuG pet on Solidd and I have so far since 3.3 never waited more than a minute for a PuG (granted, I'm playing as a tank).
Secondly getting to the instance is now instant and add to this the fact that if you need to repair, you just teleport out using the LFG minimap button, repair and teleport back in. Actually this has one disadvantage, as one random PuG member said in party chat: "pretty soon no one will remember how the entrance to an instance looks like". Maybe not the best outcome for the designers who worked on the instance entrances.
In addition to the finding a group and getting to/from the instance, the new system is superior with regards to the actual experience of running an instance. With unlimited heroics each, I don't mind wiping and splitting up after being saved to the instance, joining a group on the last boss, etc. I also like that anyone can mark mobs and that kicking a person is not just up to the party leader. The new disenchant option is fantastic and a great time saver while limiting classes to need rolls only on gear for them (e.g. plate wearers can only need on plate gear) helps in preventing ninjas. Apropos ninjas, almost no one rolls need on the heroic orbs which is a nice surprise.

Solidd now has 4 pieces of 232 tanking gear and I hope will be well enough geared to join guild alt runs to ToC, assuming we manage to get enough interested people. But it is pretty certain nothing like this idea would have been suggested, or possible, before patch 3.3.

As for raiding, Ice Crown Citadel is a very nice instance and I'm happy to be raiding there, the Gunship battle is especially fun, while as a healer I find (surprisingly perhaps) the first and last bosses the most healing intensive. More on that in a separate post...

Friday, December 11, 2009

A very nice 3.3 first night

Well nothing went wrong tonight thankfully, and I managed to login without a problem and join the raid. Well, addons will take a bit more configuring to go back to normal state but otherwise the game was fine, not even much server lag (only once or twice the whole evening and not very bad then).

Lady Deathwhisper went down on the first attempt, of course the guild had already wiped on her several times yesterday so people were already well practiced. Gunship Battle is an amazingly fun fight and in normal mode not very hard at all, certainly easier than the other bosses IMHO. healing on the other ship (I stayed on the alliance side) was a bit hectic from what I heard on Vent, but no one died except at the end 2 melee who forgot the jump over before the Horde ship veered off and they died. Of course we waited for them to rez before we looted the chest :)

Finally there was Deathbringer Saurfang and he's a real tough one. Our best attempt was around 10% which is not bad for a difficult new fight, problem is 10% doesn't really mean "you're close to beating him", since by that time around 5 people had the Mark of the Fallen Champion debuff and it became impossible to heal. Of course every time one of them died, he healed up and we finished most attempts with him back at 40% or higher. The fight is pretty much a mix between a DPS race and a healing race, in addition to some add control which is pretty difficult. So it seems we still haven't found the exact balance we need to bring him down, hopefully it will be on Sunday.

After the raid I did a random heroic for the badges with some guild mates, and later the first of the 3 new 5-man instances with a PuG. It was very fast to find a PuG, the LFG tool worked great for me and the run was pretty smooth,

Overall a great night, I love the look of the new instances and the new LFG tool worked well for me. I haven't had time to login my other chars but I'm looking forward to trying them out too :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No patch for me, but guild did nicely last night

Alas, I had problems with the new patch and couldn't login (only finally got it sorted this morning), but at least my guild raided and they downed the 1st boss in ICC (25man) and got the 2nd boss down to 3% or so, so I'm sure we (assuming I have no further problems and can get a raid spot) will get it down tonight.

Pre-patch 3.3 the guild also progressed very nicely, clearing Faction Champions on 25-heroic on one night and Twins 25-heroic on the next, so only Anub left. I'm sure once we clear normal ICC in 25 man we will go back to ToC-25 heroic since we still get good gear there, so I'm hopeful we will also get Anub down in a few weeks.

I understand that except for some server lag initially, the patch update and raid went very smoothly for the rest of the guild, as I was the only one who had problems with the patch. So assuming this is the case with everyone else, that would make it about 1/30 people having some problems and for everyone else a very smooth launch for the patch, without any major bugs or instance bugs (at least for ICC raid). So, although personally I'm irked that I got shafted by the update, I have to hand it to Blizzard on launching what seems to be initially a very stable and good patch. I just wish they had the support to quickly help people with problems instead of falling back on the old "please reinstall the game".

As for the content itself I got a short peek at a friends screen while the guild was starting to clear trash (he lives close by and I was trying to copy the patch files from him, didn't work though*). The inside of the citadel looks amazing, I am really looking forward to raiding there.

Overall I am really looking forward for the next few weeks, my guild has been doing very well in raiding which is a new and nice feeling for me :) In addition I'm excited about playing my Druid as well as leveling my other chars as it should be much more fun now with the new leveling tools and LFG tool. Fun times ahead :)

(*) I finally solved the patch problem by deleting Data/{patch.MPQ,patch-2.MPQ} and running the repair tool. This reverted the game back to version 3.01 after which it patched itself all night back to a working 3.3 version. Long but at least it worked.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Solidd Goes Tanking

Well it's been a month since I last mentioned Solidd. I've been busy raiding of course with Solidfaith but Solidd has not been neglected. Over the past month I've been busy doing heroics with him and even the very rare 10man raid. Although I haven't done the heroics every day I still got enough emblems to gear up my resto spec rather nicely.

However I was not really enjoying my Moonkin spec much, I was almost never called on to use it in 5-mans and when I did my DPS was not so hot. I also noticed a pretty bad lack of tanks on the server, so in the end I decided to switch to a Main-Spec healer, Off-Spec tank. It's a strange combo since you can't share gear (unlike the resto/moonkin combo), however it has helped me a lot with finding PuGs and I don't mind tanking, in fact I kinda like it :)

It cost me a few thousand gold to get the beginner gear I was happy with and I've been spending emblems since then getting more gear but I feel my druid is fairly well geared for healing 5-mans so I didn't mind spending the emblems on tanking gear (I don't like to PuG raids much).

That's it for now, I have a lot more to write like my tanking talents and glyphs but am too tired now, maybe another time :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Tribute to Insanity

Although my guild raids 25man ToC and so has good gear and although we had a team who already downed Anub'arak in Heroic 10-man ToC, I have, until last night, failed to take him down. Nor has any team of the guild managed to do a wipe-free ToC-10 heroic till last night.

Every time, a combination of slightly weak DPS, bad tanking, not enough healing (this was usually the cause) or just bad luck kept me from getting the Anub'arak kill with the group I was in. Bad luck was hounding me..

Thankfully, last night as I said my luck changed, and quite dramatically. It started when we only had 2 tanks online so couldn't raid the 25-man Heroic ToC. It was therefore decided to raid 10man, both normal and heroic, with a single group. At this point I had to go offline for some Real Life stuff but I when I came back the group to the heroic instance was being organized and I was offered a spot. I was also asked to change my off-spec to Shadow (I was disc off-spec) so I could DPS on the last boss.

I don't think when we started, anyone had any special expectations, although we had our guild's top 2 tanks, 2 of the top healers with myself as a third (not as good alas) helper and some of our best DPS. The other 2 healers apart from me were a Paladin with Valanyr and a Druid with incredibly good HPS output.

We passed our first potential wipe point, which is the Worms encounter part of the Beasts fight, with no problems: e.g. no deaths due to the usual people with Burning Bile running into other people or stuff like that. It was really good to see everyone on top of their game like that. Icehowl also was not a problem as everyone managed to avoid each and every one of his charges (if only we could reliably do the same in the 25man Heroic version...).

Having downed Beasts with 50 remaining attempts we got ready for good old L.J. Here the discipline (and damage output) of our DPS team made the difference with every portal and volcano being taken down ASAP. Luckily for us the group we got for Faction Champions was not one of the harder ones (no ret-pally or Fury Warrior) which is probably the major reason why we managed to get to Twins with 50 tries remaining. Twins also didn't prove to be a barrier and finally we got to Anub'arak.

We started with the usual tactic of using only 2 healers so our damage would be high enough to push him to phase 3 after only one borrow. However unlike in the past this time I prepared my alternative action bars with a selection of healing spells and as soon as he we entered phase 3 I stopped DPSing and started healing. Sure this was a gamble (and not asked for by the raid leader) but it was a chance I was willing to take, since I believed our problems in the past had always been due to losing people due to Penetrating Cold. Well I was right, all went smoothly and finally, not only did I get the achievement for killing Anub'arak Heroic-10 and clearing ToC Heroic-10, but I also got at the same time the Tribute to Insanity.

Now personally I don't think it was that insane, just a combination of very good gear, following tactics to the letter and no one making any mistakes. But it was certainly fun and I was happy to be a part of it, even though the iLvl 258 cloak that dropped was a tanking one and not the healer one ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ulduar-10 Hard Modes - Revisited

4.5 months ago I blogged about Ulduar-10 hard modes, how we tried to get a few of them down and met with limited success.

My-my, how times have changed :)

This weekend, with much better gear I entered Ulduar-10 and very much nuked the place. Well, almost...

On Friday evening we took a friend of one of the guildies, a holy priest who was pretty well geared but not quite as much as we were. So we were 2 holy priests and a paladin healing (the other 8 people apart from me were all from the guild). With a strong DPS team and good tanks, we did okay and managed some nice achievements:

FL - we tried for 4 towers up but you really need people who know how to drive the siege engines and throw a person up to shut down FL at least once. We didn't have these people so we wiped a few times before deciding it was not important (almost all of us already had the achievement) and did it with 2 towers.

XT - this is where our strong DPS team really shined, going into hard-mode was not difficult at all and the fight itself was healing intense but very doable.

From XT we continued to Kologarn, no hard-mode there so we just nuked him. Crazy Cat Lady was also not too hard, mostly I guess do to our paladin healer and 50k+ health tanks :)

Now it was Hodir's turn and again our strong DPS made a once very-hard achievement into one which was, well, pretty easy :) I think we had like 1 minute left on the 3 minute timer, what a change vs. 4.5 months ago when I blogged about being short by 6 seconds!

Last but not least was Thorim hard-mode, actually I was caught off-guard by how hard the healing is once the gauntlet team jumps down and I got a little confused and managed to get myself killed near the end :(
Thankfully the rest of the team pulled through and we one-shot him also.

We had time for a few hard-mode Mimiron tries but it was quickly obvious we just didn't have the healing output for it, so we called it a night.

On Saturday evening the non-guild priest was replaced by our GL, a very well-geared (and well played) resto-druid. We were also joined by a new recruit, an enhancement Shaman who had great DPS but had not in the past cleared Mimiron so didn't know the fight. Hard-mode Mimiron is a really difficult fight, even for a team with ToC-25 gear doing Ulduar-10. It is really tuned so that any mistake will wipe you - so everyone has to be just perfect and not do any mistakes. So having a new guy who didn't quite know the fight led to a few wipes, apart from all the wipes made by people making the usual execution mistakes.

However the new guy learned quickly and after a few wipes I guess the rest of us had worked out how to not make mistakes, since we finally got the fight down, eliciting much cheering on Vent and a Firefighter achievement :)

My GL says that Mimiron hardmode is the hardest fight in Ulduar apart from Yogg+0 and after doing it, I believe him.

We continued to Freya+3 and not only got her down on the first attempt with time to spare but no one died. After the healing crazyness which was Mimiron hardmode, Freya+3 which I once described as a healing challenge felt... almost easy. Not quite, since people still needed to be on top of the action and do stuff like kill the 3 adds together, but certainly a lot less hectic than Mimiron.

I would love to say we also 1-shotted Vezax hardmode but alas we wiped the first time. What happened was, we had only 1 ranged DPS (a hunter) so we decided to have only him and the resto druid be ranged and group everyone else under Vezax. Alas, Vezax would have none of that and promptly cast Shadow Crash on a healer - yes on me :( As I was practically under him this of course completely messed up the melee and we missed the interrupt rotation. On the second try we had all the healers stand at range and this time we managed to get him, hardmode and all, almost without a problem - it was close though as both surviving healers were at the end of their mana :).

Now came Yogg+0 and this is where we completely failed. I don't know if it was the late hour, the group composition (too many melee, only a single ranged DPS) tactics or a combination of all of the above but on most wipes we barely made it even to phase 2, our best attempt was 50% on the brain. Initially we tried it with the druid as Moonkin but the DPS just didn't interrupt the Shadow Volleys and me and the paladin just couldn't keep the raid up, especially as we are both classes that need to stand to cast (especially big heals) and we were running almost all the time away from clouds. Once the druid switched back to resto we had problems with the DPS pulling agro on guardians. We tried to solve this using 2 tanks and had better luck getting to phase 2 but now we obviously lacked the ranged DPS to down the big tentacles, not to mention all the smaller ones who were casting spells/fears on us all the time and we quickly wiped.
Near the end of the evening we decided to give up on Yogg+0 for now and try for Yogg+1 but although that helped us to get to phase 2, our group composition of only 1 ranged DPS as I said basically killed us and on our best attempt we only got the brain down to 50%. I hope we try again with a slightly different DPS setup and manage, although Sunday-Tuesday are raiding nights so we might be too busy with ToC-25 heroic... we'll see.

All in all though the entire weekend for me was a huge success in terms of just having fun and stretching my raiding abilities. Sure some of the fights were much easier now but the hardmodes were not trivial by far, certainly not the hard ones like Mimiron and Yogg-Saron. If I make some of them sound easy it is only because all of the people in the group are experienced raiders who know all the fight tactics well. So I definitely have a sense of accomplishment about the recent 10man-Ulduar achievements and I hope to be able to down Yogg-Saron too :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An almost successful Heroic ToC-25 and Other Stuff

It's been a while since I last blogged, and the reason is due to the "Other Stuff" part of the headline - you see, I've started playing Torchlight :)

What happened was, I was disappointed with lack of heroic ToC-25 attempts by our guild, every time we were missing a tank or just not enough people. Tank shortage meant trying to do heroics with my new level-80 Druid was mostly pointless, so I was kind of looking around for more things to do.
At this point I read a couple of reviews of Torchlight, which described it as a Diablo clone with modern graphics but no multiplayer options - sort of Diablo 3 "lite", but here and now instead of in the far future. I took a look at some videos and screenshots, saw the price was just $20, fired-up Steam and bought the game.

Youtube and Google will give you all the videos and screenshots you want, suffice it to say I enjoy the cute graphics although I miss the true 3D environment of WoW - this 2.5D stuff pales in comparison. They did solve the "character behind some object and you can't rotate the camera" problem in a nice way though, your character becomes like a ghostly outline, you have to see it but it's very cool looking :)

Gameplay is very straight-forward with a single quest-line driving the "story" - there's no real meaning to the quests though as they only require you to drill down deeper into the levels of the dungeon. There's no such thing really as a class, since the "mage class" Alchemist for example can be played as a melee type! However I've always enjoyed playing a "mage" so that is what I'm focusing on.

There's also no World and no ability to wander from the path you are traveling, although there are side-branches/rooms you can enter for extra loot/xp. But in general gameplay is - go down the stairs to a new level, follow the path while killing everything in sight and looting anything that drops, continue till you reach the stairs to the next level, repeat.

Actually there are 2 other side quests, one is a robot that gives you a quest to kill a boss mob on a level further down, this is repeated every time you return - you just get the same quest but for a boss a few levels down. Rather pointless since there is no other way to go but down and you pretty much have to go through those bosses...
The other side-quest is from an NPC which will give you once every few levels a quest to get an item from a mini-dungeon to which it will open a portal. This mini-dungoen plays exactly like any level of the main dungeon, so the only reason to do it is for some extra loot and XP.

On the negative side, this is a very simplistic game, especially when compared to the complexity of WoW. There is nothing to do except kill mobs - no crafting/professions, no trade (except NPC vendors), no real story. There is one "mini-game" which is fishing, sometimes in the dungeon you will see fishing holes, which when clicked bring up a hook icon surrounded by two rings, the inner one is constant while the outer fluctuates. When the outer one merges with the inner, you click the hook icon to pull up the fish. If you timed it right, you catch a fish which you can feed to your pet - it gives it another shape and various abilities.
In addition to being very simplistic, you can see the lack of polish - items with the same name but different stats, ability to kill mobs that cannot reach you, quests from the robot NPC having exactly the same text, abilities and "talents" that are repeated (exactly the same) between the 3 "classes".
Of course the biggest downside is the lack of any multiplayer ability, never mind massivly-multiplayer :)

On the positive side, this is a very simplistic, simple game requiring no thought or effort to play :)
So if you've just spent a night wiping in WoW and want to relax, spending 20 minutes clearing a level or two of Torchlight with loot and gold dropping like rain might work for you - certainly I appreciate the experience. I don't really worry about my gear, certainly not about my stats. Time will tell if I can play and enjoy it for an entire month, which is what I would like to happen to feel that my $20 were well spent. For example there's no re-playability when trying another class- you get the exact same storyline, quests and instances. So it is possible that after finishing the game with one character, I'll find it too boring to repeat. We'll see.

As for the first part of my subject, we finally had the tanks and people online (well sorta) to give ToC-25 heroic another try. I say sorta, since one healer DC'd practically the entire night and one tank would DC almost every other fight. Still we did well and actually got Icehowl to less than 1% life before we wiped - even the healers were DPSing at the end, hoping to kill him before he killed us all (he was enraged already so all the tanks were dead), it was that close. The cries of frustration on Vent would have been amusing if I hadn't felt like howling myself at that moment (couldn't of course as the rest of the house were sleeping :)).

Hopefully we'll continue with more attempts following the reset today and finally get Beasts-25 down in Heroic mode - a big factor will be if people will learn to run away from his charge, since this is what wiped us every time we got to Icehowl (Worms still wiped us most of the times).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Solidd Dings 80

I actually dinged a few days ago but haven't had time to blog about it :)

Leveling was quite fun and fast, very profitable too - I probably made around a couple of thousand gold. In fact even after I dinged 80 I continued doing a bit of questing, just for the gold.

The main spec I chose was Restoration while for off-spec I chose Moonkin (a.k.a. Balance). Having played both a mage and a warlock I can say Moonkin is a very different caster from both, especially when questing/killing mobs.

I was pretty lucky once I hit 80 - between ToC-normal drops, gifts from friends and craftable gear made buy a guildmate (I gave the mats), I was soon decked out mostly iLvL 200 gear, with my weapon and trinkets being notable exceptions. Since then I have joined a guild alt run to Ulduar-10 where we cleared up to (including) Auriaya. From this run I got a very nice head item and ring. I also did a ToC-5 Heroic run where I got a nice necklace. Lots of stuff to enchant and gem but I'm not complaining, makes me a better healer :)

Healing certainly does feel very different from Priest healing, I'm not quite sure I have the hang of it yet but I know I'll get better. At least I don't think I messed up too bad in the guild Ulduar run :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Raiding Updates and Druid Leveling Impressions

I've been a bit quiet but not due to lack of playing, more due to lack of time to update here what with work pressure on the one hand and constant raiding or leveling taking up my little spare time.

Solidfaith continues to raid as a Disc priest mostly, although one exception is worth a mention. A group of guild-mates had cleared most of 10man ToC heroic and were stuck on the last boss, Anub'arak. A spot became available and I was invited to join as a healer. However the problem is, Anub'arak is a classic Holy-priest fight as the entire raid takes damage all the time so needs to be healed, in addition to 2 tanks - one on the boss and one on the adds and both needing large amounts of healing. Probably the best combination would have been a Holy Paladin (for the 2 tanks) and a Druid or Holy Priest (for the raid). We didn't have a Paladin and after it became obvious my Disc healing wasn't cutting it we did a switch and tried several attempts with 2 Resto-druids and me as shadow. We almost made it, 4% best attempt. Better luck next time I hope but it was certainly a fun night trying to beat an impressively hard fight.

Since my guild clears normal content very fast and we still don't attempt heroic 25-ToC every night, I did find myself with some raid-free nights recently, which I used to level my Druid (who is level 75 currently). I started leveling him by chance, a friend who was 70 wanted a partner and my warlock was still (and still is) level 67 so I had my choice of a hunter, mage or druid. I knew I could now get cold-weather flying for my druid at level 70 and assumed flight-form would make for easier leveling, maybe even easier than a hunter. I think I was right :)

Flight-form is an incredible boost to leveling. In many quests I have to pick up stuff, frequently with mobs pathing close to the required items. With any other character I would have to clear these mobs, not hard but certainly a slowing-down factor. With a Druid in flight-form I just swoop down, pick up the item still as a bird, and fly back out of range, taking me OOC.

Actually killing mobs is pretty fast as a cat with practically zero downtime, except on elites or multiple mob pulls when I have to go bear. I consider that I think an advantage over a hunter where I have to micro-manage my threat and my pet's actions or a DK where if I'm specced as blood for better survivability and less downtime, my DPS suffers. Although thinking back I recall it being easier to solo 3-man quests on my DK compared to my Druid :)

In any case I'm enjoying going over some familiar quests with a new character and I'm already imagining life at level 80 as a resto/moonkin duel-spec raider :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Solidfaith Goes (Back To) Discipline

When I joined Nightmare-EU I was asked to come as Shadow, as they had enough priest healers at the time.
Although I have never played as a raiding Shadow Priest I was willing to give it a try and gave it my best effort. I read blogs, forums and various sites, worked on my gear and rotation and generally tried to output the best DPS that I could.

Results were... frustrating, to say the least. On some fights I could output very nice DPS - but only if they were overwhelmingly AoE fights where I could spam Mind Sear. On single target fights (most boss fights) I was sadly behind most of the other DPS in the guild.

It was not a gear issue nor was it rotation (I think). I think the problem is a combination of two factors. One is that Shadow DPS is behind in general, you can see that in in the Rankings, Shadow Priests are almost nowhere to be seen. The other factor is I think that Shadow Priest damage is just more susceptible to being hurt by high latency and since I usually play with 300ms-500ms lag I was hurt more by this.

Anyway, I noticed after a while I was not really improving relative to the rest of the DPS-ers in the guild. I also noticed we were usually lacking a Discipline priest in the raid. Putting 2 and 2 together I approached the GM and suggested I would go main-spec Discipline. He agreed and that very night I raided 10man Ulduar as Discipline :)

Since then I've had only one other fight as Discipline (25man Mimiron normal mode), as I was needed as Shadow during the other fights. But I have to say I enjoyed going back to Disc - my last time was after LK was released when I realized as a fresh level 80 that my low gear just didn't support Holy very well. I enjoyed being Disc also back then but was tempted to Holy by high healing output especially in fights with lots of raid-wide damage, of which there are a lot in Ulduar. Since then I've seen Holy HPS nerfed a lot with the Prayer of Healing nerf while Disc has not suffered as much (although the Penance nerf did hurt). In addition we have enough Holy raiding priests but not as I said Disc priests.

In terms of actual healing, the main HPS spell I have is PW:S - just cast it on as many raiders as possible, especially in AoE damage intensive fights. Prayer of Mending, Flash Heal make up my other main healing spells, with other spells such as Penance or Renew being used a lot less often.

Mana regen is just fantastic, I just don't see mana as being an issue currently. Of course I still haven't tried out Heroic ToC-25 as a healer which is where the real test will be.

In fact the only gripe I have so far as a Disc healer is that Recount doesn't measure bubble healing so I have to wait for the post-combat log parses to see the real healing picture. But of course this is not a problem with Disc healing itself :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Warlock Dings 67

I haven't had a lot of time to level Locksolid, hence the slow leveling. Thankfully leveling is now so fast that even with the little bit that I played I still managed to hit 67, only 1 level shy now of going to Northrend.

I dinged 65 still in HFP, amazingly. I did manage to get the HFP achievement for quests which is nice. 66 happened after a few quests in Zangramarsh. I could have stayed and done plenty more green and yellow quests but the mobs would have given me very little (if any) XP so I decided to split to Blade Edge Mountains, where the fact that I have a flying mount helped a lot.

After getting over half-way to 67 I was invited out of the blue to a Mana Tombs PuG. I decided to take risk that it would turn out to be a disaster, but thankfully we had a level 80 Paladin tank who pretty much cleared the place for us (everyone else was 66 or 67) and I dinged 67 just as I handed in the quest at the entrance of MT after the run was over. I even got a nice upgrade from the last boss, a necklace. So I'm happy :)

Anyway my rest XP is very low now so I think I'll rest and let it build up again before pushing on to 68. In any case, Northrend here I come :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Short Guild Update

Been a while since I've updated on our raiding status. Haven't really felt the need since we are neither bleeding-edge hardcore, nor are we struggling. Surprisingly, we're doing just fine, so situation as usual, nothing to report. No news is good news, right?

Last night we took down Yogg-Saron in 25man Ulduar, I think this has been something like 3rd or 4th takedown. A few wipes but people are really getting used to doing the phases right, especially the portal team which typically caused most of our wipes. Outside DPS is getting really good, I think it was on the takedown fight were we cleaned out all tentacles outside during every portal phase, leaving us with time to stand around and regen mana while the brain team did the hard work :)

ToC is also doing well, both 10 man and 25man. In 10man we finally got the team and time together and cleaned up heroic 10man ToC up to Anub'arak. I was there for the entire normal run and the first heroic boss (which we 2-shotted, although it was a close call there at the start). I had to leave at that point but my replacement must have done well since the team cleared all the other heroic bosses except as I said for the last.
25man has been cleared I think twice now(?) in normal mode, I don't remember exactly but we had some problems with attendance and AFKs but basically hiccups in otherwise successful runs. Hopefully people will show up today and we will be able to start 25man ToC heroic attempts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Day Events Suck

I missed Pirates Day.

I was away from my computer due to RL reasons and so missed out on getting the achievement.

The same thing happened to me on the AQ gates opening event which wasn't even an all-day event but rather one that took place only during a few hours.

That kind of sucks. I much prefer events which take place over several days so that if you miss playing on one day you at least have the other days. Obviously you could take this argument and stretch it to silly lengths such as "let's complain if all events are not 1 month long". Well maybe some people feel that asking for a "Pirates Day" which is more than 1 day long is just as silly but I think it is no use to anybody to take things to extreme, if the purpose here is to let people have fun, why not do it over 2-3 days instead of only 1 day? I'm sure there is a simple Gaussian which will show 99% of WoW players log in within a 3-day span or something like that...

Also, who ever heard of pirates getting drunk for only one day? :)

Oh well, maybe next year...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Warlock is already 64

In only a day I dinged 2 more levels, one from questing and one level from more Blood Furnace followed by several Slave Pens + Underbog boosts with my friend, who seems to have decided to take my leveling under his wing :)

So I just thought to mention that since I don't want to lose track of my levels :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Warlock Dings 62

I should have posted when Locksolid hit 60, but RL kept me away from having enough free time to both blog and play and I preferred to play.
I actually dinged 60 only 2 days ago. However a level 80 friend decided to help me out yesterday and took me through 5 Ramparts+BF runs (I think it was 2 Ramparts and 3 BF), and the XP from mobs + quests inside those instances saw me through from level 60 to 61. From 61 to 62 I leveled today in 2 hours by questing in HFP, flying around on my brand-new normal speed (150% these days) flying mount. What an upgrade to the leveling experience vs. running on the ground!

So for a total of a few hours spread out over 2 days, I leveled 2 whole levels. That's amazingly fast progress (in my eyes) and I'm very happy with it.

So far so good, looking forward to the next few levels and tons more fun with my warlock. Ability to kill 5 mobs 2 levels higher than myself at the same time? Check! Soloed Drillmaster Zurok, a level 62 elite, at level 61? Check! Warlocks are great, sorry all you mages out there :)

Oh and in other good news, patch 3.2.2 notes show Shadow-priests getting a little buff-loving. Here's hoping for some better raid DPS!

Monday, September 07, 2009

A Few Updates

Still very busy with work so not much time to blog...

Solidfaith still raiding, guild doing well, although I missed the Toc-25 normal clear, at least I got to clear ToC-10. Also got some Ulduar achievements such as FL+4 towers in 25man which is nice for the guild (but I'm not too excited about it, as it doesn't look like achievements are ever going to mean anything).

My warlock hasn't seen a lot of play time but even with the little I have played, I have managed to level him to 55. Sadly none of it was in Un'goro, since I had a warlock quest in Felwood, got carried away with doing some quests in that area in general, and before I knew it I dinged 2 levels ;p
The thing which is mostly on my mind now is making sure I have enough gold to buy him the epic flying skill once I ding 58 - I want to do Outlands leveling in style :)

I actually had some fun last night playing on my long forgotten mage Solidstate. First of all I got him the cold weather flying via the tome, so now he's flying around Northrend at level 71 :)
Also a friend sent me a huge pile of Frostweave cloth so I leveled my tailoring, I got all the way to 433 which is way above what a level 71 character needs ;)
As I had the ability to fly and some spare time (no raid last night), I decided to do the Dalaran Oracle-orphan quest. It worked well, I got lots of free XP just for flying around, both for discovering new areas and for completing the individual quests in the chain. On the way I did a couple of quests in BT and it was really fun flying around to exactly where I needed to go, dropping down right on the quest mobs heads as it were :)
I even did the daily fishing quest, something I haven't done in a long time on my mage. Didn't get any special reward, alas.

Based on my experience with Solidstate I'm really looking forward to leveling my warlock while flying, it is so much faster and more fun than running around on the ground, especially when you combine the ability with Questhelper so that you can just follow the dots around the map directly instead of being slowed down by annoying mobs along the way. 3 more levels without flying to go...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shadow Priest - Disappointing

I'm working hard and don't have much time to post updates, but I continue to raid and play with my new guild and we've taken down the 3rd Coliseum boss encounter, Faction Champions in 25man (and 10man but that was easy :)).

Today we also did a part of Ulduar-25, we spent a couple of hours trying FL + 4 Towers. It's a hard, complex fight, and while the people doing the hard stuff are well practiced, we still didn't manage (10% best try). In the end we took him easily with 3 Towers and continued on our way.

But while I'm winning loot (and gearing up using badges), I'm annoyed at my low DPS as Shadow and I feel frustrated that no matter what I do, I still end up on the lower end of the damage meters. Even an officer who is a much more practiced and better-geared s-priest than me, only made it to about 7th place on the damage meters. That... sucks. Unfortunately there doesn't seem much I can do about it :(

Maybe I should continue leveling my Warlock ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yogg-Saron Down

I haven't posted in a while, not due to lack of playing in WoW but basically due to work pressure and also because I wanted things in WoW to settle down a bit before I wrote about them.

You see, I've left my guild and joined a new one.

I don't want to criticize the previous guild too much - they did after all accept me, gave me a place in raids and let me win loot. However raiding with them felt very much like a "job" rather than a family. Relations with most officers were basically limited to a guild-invite and I felt neither appreciated nor wanted. Nor did I like some of the decisions made by the officers, like looting all plants from Freya's room as well the the Alchemist Cache from her loot to themselves. Well they said it was for the guild bank, but then they wanted members to buy (for gold) flasks from the guild-bank. I don't mind not getting free flasks from GB but taking the plants just for officer use seemed self-serving to me.

Another example of the lack of personal interaction I felt, after a strong raiding start I had to stop raiding for a few weeks due to work pressure. During the time I was not raiding not once did an officer or the GL so much as whisper me asking me what was going on with me. Don't get me wrong I'm not looking to get scolded but I would have expected at least casual interest - when is the new recruit coming back to raiding? Later I learned I had been demoted to social - without telling me anything. The feeling I had was, you're not wanted and not missed.

Anyway, I said a short (1-sentence) bye in gchat and left, followed quickly by talking to a friend about joining her guild, a raiding guild with similar progress to the one I had just left (they had downed Yogg right after the patch). After talking to her I posted an application with her guild and the day after I was accepted.

That was on Saturday. On Sunday I was invited to an Ulduar raid which had Vezax and Yogg left and we took down both, giving me the Heroic Ulduar achievement. That felt good :)

The only regret I have is that they needed a Shadow Priest which means no more raid healing for me - a role I enjoyed and was good at. Shadow Priest DPS isn't so good currently (see Misery's blog for details) in general and more specifically my gear is not so good - it was off-spec gear so my position in the damage-meters was pretty near the end...

Still I'm sure my gear (and DPS) will improve and I look forward to more fun raids with my new guild, who it must be said have a very amusing Vent channel :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Roo

Last night I finally decided to do the Dalaran Orphan quest. I picked up the little Oracle orphan Roo, as I chose the Oracles faction in Sholazar and thought I might as well stick by my faction :)

I thought the chain would be painful and annoying but as it turns out it wasn't too bad - just fly around Northrend a bit. With a 280% flying mount that was not so bad. It was fairly good gold, although at the end I goofed-up a bit and in the Wonderworks shop I bought the zepplin kit (4g) instead of a 'small zepplin' (80s). So I wasted 4g, omg l2read noob :)

I barely ever take out a pet so having the pet Roo (which you get in the mail after completing the chain) isn't important for me, but it's nice to mark another thing "done".

Later that night I tried the achievement in Occulus heroic of killing the last boss within 20min of the first. It went hard, mostly because we missed a patroling drake around one of the platforms who attacked us and killed 2 of us after we landed. But in the end we actually managed to get the the final boss with 2 minutes to spare and having 5 red drakes we should have managed. However I think we used the abilities wrong and we wiped due to a combination of too-low DPS and the small whelps that spawn killing us. I'm going to have to do some reading before I try that again...

In other news my Warlock hit level 50 but I haven't had too much time to play with him since the patch. Having switched to Demonology the new pet (Fel Guard) is nice but the advantage of having him is offset by having weaker DoTs compared to Affliction and most importantly no mana back ability from Drain Soul, meaning I am constantly struggling with mana, unlike Affliction. Am considering switching back to Affliction, will see...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Patch 3.2 First Impressions

I'm liking it :)

Mind you, that's not a totally positive thing - it means I don't love the patch, as I feel the new instance/raid leaves much to be desired. I've covered this previously but I'll summarize my feelings - it's nice to have a new instance, but I just don't feel an instance composed of nothing more than a round room is worthy of the title of a "raid instance". Not when compared against the likes of everything from Molten Core, through Karazhan, Naxx and Ulduar.

Still, there's plenty to like about the patch. I love the profession boosts, the new epic gems, everything. It has breathed new life into all professions.

I've done the new 5man in both normal and heroic versions and I would categorize the normal version as fast, fun, easy enough to be nearly impossible to wipe, a very good place for people just dinging 80 to go to. The heroic version was much harder, my PuG wiped several times. Yet the GY is very close, you can even enter the room mid-fight (bug?) and the wipes were mostly about us not knowing the tactics - first time there, and the bosses have different abilities in heroic. Compared to some other heroics it is very quick and not too hard, and gives very good loot.

There are a TON of new daily quests in the Argent Tournament for my priest, so getting more gold should be very easy.

I bought the +10xp chest for my Warlock and mailed it to him, I hope I will feel the difference while leveling. I'm also looking forward to getting the 100% speed mount.

That's pretty much it. I'm tired, but pleased. Today I took the time to enjoy the patch and the rush of new content, however over the next few days I will continue to work hard, so not much game time for me, alas. Still it was worth it and I'm very happy with the fact that I have plenty of new stuff to do now :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dinging News

So many updates, hence the strange subject :)

First of all my efforts with Solidfaith doing low-level quests and grinding the daily Argent Tournament finally paid-off - he's now dinged exalted with all the city factions. He's also exalted with the Silver Hand and champion of all the factions except Gnomergan (holding off on turning that in till the patch, for extra dailies = more cash). This means that once patch 3.2 arrives I will be able to buy the new heirloom Bind-On-Account +10% XP chest for my Warlock using the Champion badges, which is very nice :)

In other "dinging" news my Warlock hit level 47. At this point I stopped his mad rush upward long enough to power-level both Mining and Engineering. Mining is now at 227 after buying a few gold ores and tons (200?) Mithril Ores. Smelting Mithril is still green so theoretically I could still level my Mining even further, but it's not really worth it - I can probably much more easily (and economically) mine my way to 230 at which point Truesilver smelting will be available for further power-leveling.

Using all the Mithril bars from the mining power-leveling I leveled my Engineering, when I hit 245 I made myself the best item I have so far got from Engineering, a head slot item called "Green Lens". This is actually, despite the name, a blue-quality item and apart from the standard 10 stamina is created with a random enchant - I got +29 spell power which is very nice and should last me quite a few levels. There are also a few nice trinkets available from Engineering but since I'm using the heirloom trinkets, I don't think it is worth the hassle - the nice thing about BoA items is how they scale with my character leveling.

Anyway all of this leveling is done mostly very late evening after I finish working for the day - still not raiding due to working late. So considering the amount of time I have to play, I think I'm doing not bad at all :)

I'm currently questing in Tanaris but will probably soon visit some other areas, like maybe Searing Gorge - tons of quests there if I recall correctly. At ~50 it's off to one of my favorite areas in the old world - Un'Goro Crater :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alliance in BGs

The following Peanuts cartoon describes exactly what happens to Alliance in BGs:


It would be funny if it weren't so sad and true...

Monday, July 27, 2009

WoW Not Conductive For Multiple Play Styles

This post I'd like to rant a bit about WoW's addon system and multiple play styles/chars.

Let's say that you have a player who likes to do both PvP and PvE. Furthermore, she also likes to play multiple characters, some are low level and need to level and some are high and raid. No problem, I hear you say. With duel-specs and a built-in equipment manager she can respec to a PvP spec when she wants, use PvP gear, and switch to another character via log-out and log-in. All dandy, right?


Thing is, WoW is really not the same without addons. Sure I realize they are not a must and some people even play without them, but they are really helpful once you get used to them. The problem is:

  1. There is poor support in the general addon screen for multiple characters. The character selection drop-down list feels clunky and annoying to use, you can only modify addons for a single character at a time. Worse, I've had it bug-out on me and change addon selections for all characters, even though I had a name selected in the pull-down list.
    As an example of where this is annoying, if I install a new addon it starts enabled by default for all characters. What if I don't want a, for example, BG addon on my priest who doesn't do BGs? Arrgg.

  2. You have to manually click on every addon line, but sometimes addons have multiple entries per addon, for example think DBM or X-Perl. In other words, the manager doesn't have the option of addon collections. This is especially bad when taken together with item (1). Want to disable DBM for all your low-level chars (who aren't going to need a raid addon soon)? Multiple-clicks FTL :(

  3. The manager runs outside the world - if you login and find a problem, or just want to make a dynamic change - e.g. go PvP with PvP addons but have them turned off rest of the time - you need to logout, make the change, and log back in to your char.

  4. There is no clear support (IMO, looking as a user) for separate settings of addons per character. Yes some addons do this themselves and do it well (X-Perl is a good one) but most don't. Sure you could claim this is the province of the addon author, but it just makes so much sense to have built-in the ability to change addon settings per character.
The upshot of all of the above is that if you have a single max-level character who only does one area of WoW (say PvE), you mostly won't feel this pain. But if you have multiple play styles and/or multiple characters, handling addons will soon become a chore and a pain, especially when switching roles/play-style in-game.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gnomish or Goblin Engineering?

I've been working hard on my Warlock's engineering, and am now a level 200 engineer. This means that I can specialize in either Goblin or Gnomish engineering.

From what I read, there is not really a huge difference, hence I tend to go with Gnomish, just because I am a Gnome :)

But, anyone have any specific recommendation?

Oh, and ding 43, yey :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Warlock Dings 40

Well I dinged 40, but it seems's Alex did the same thing (at nearly the same time) and his experiences mirror mine - his warlock is specced Affliction for leveling, he dinged 40 at Dustwallow Marsh and it the number wasn't as "magical" as it was the back in Vanilla WoW. That 60% mount sure looks sweet compared to running all over the place :)

So nothing much to report, except as before, still leveling very quickly and tons of quests left in my quest log. I've nearly skipped STV completely, that's how quick I made it from 35-40!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2 New Playable Races == Fail

For the record, I don't really believe that Goblins and Worgens will both be playable races in the upcoming expansion. But just as a "what if", let's say that is going to happen - why do I think it is fail?
Well very simply:

  1. Blizzard have resisted adding more character slots per server. Assuming they continue with this policy, this means for many players either deleting an existing char or rolling the new character on a different server (or getting another account but this is really not a valid option for most people). Big boo if this turns out to be the case!
  2. Leveling up yet another alt from 1 to 90?! ouch :( Don't get me wrong, I like alts, but I like leveling a new class - different talents, different way of leveling. Leveling another char 90 levels just to have a different looking char seems, well silly. I realize there are altoholics out there who would happily do this but I feel they are in the minority. With race differences being 99% cosmetic, I just don't see the point. Especially, when you consider the fact that these are 90 levels we will be talking about after the expansion...
  3. Spreading out of developer/artist resources for little benefit. As I said, 99% of racial differences are purely cosmetic. So adding new player races similar to how the Draenai/B-elves were added will mean adding two new level 1-20 areas, making new armor skins for these races for levels 1-90 and making all other changes required to support new races (their casting animations, etc.). All of this effort, to what end? At least the Draenai/B-elves added the Shaman/Palandin class for the Alliance/Horde (respectively), so they were not just a new race. Here we are talking about a new race for it's own sake...
I think if Blizzard do add 2 new playable races, it only makes sense if: (a) They come with a new hero class that you can only roll with the new races and this class starts at level 65. (b) The expansion adds another character slot per server to each account. (c) Not Goblins. Dear Blizzard, please not Goblins! :)

Warlock @35, Advancing Nicely

One nice thing about writing a blog, I can see stuff I would not have remembered otherwise. So I can see that 6 days ago I was level 28, and now I'm level 35, so slightly better than a level a day. Considering I didn't play every day, that's pretty good!

Of course it could have been faster, for example if I followed a leveling guide. However I enjoy questing and the process of leveling and while it will be nice to hit max-level with this char, I'm in no rush to do so (not like I'm going to raid with him).

Affliction continues to be a very nice leveling spec, in terms of DPS and little downtime. Well actually my DPS could be higher, I saw that when I was invited to an SM Armory run. I knew I was a little low-level but I figured I would give it a try. As it turned out I was the same level as most of the group (33), except a level 40 hunter. The others were a pala tank, a ret-pala and a priest acting as healer. Well the tanking changes made since WotLK was released have sure made their mark on low level tanks as well, out little paladin tank had almost no problems holding agro and we pretty much rushed through the mobs, almost with no problems (I died once) and no wipes, even though we pulled additional mobs from time to time when low-health mobs ran away. At the end of the run I was below not just the two other DPS but also below the tank in damage.

After the SM Armory run I did a nice Warlock chain quest, mostly involving a lot of flying about and sending stuff from my bank alt to my Warlock. The hardest thing I had to do was kill a few mobs 3-4 levels about me (fire elementals in Arathi), which was not too hard. In the end I got a very nice blue chest, so I'm happy :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Playing a Warlock

Since I have not raided last few days I have some free time when I finally login to WoW late at night. Last night for example I only logged in when the raid was actually almost done, so I guess on second thought it's not so much free time, it's more that I'm not worn out from raiding and want to go to sleep but I login and want to play even if it is pretty late.

Doing dailies for rep and gold is nice and all but I wanted to do something else and doing PuGs late at night when all I want is a short and fun game session is out of the question. Hmm what to do? Level an alt of course :)

Now I could have gone to one of my level 70 alts but on a whim I decided to forget about Northrend for a while and logged into one of my low-level alts, a level 22-ish Warlock. Now I have not played him much, got to level 22 over a very long period of time and in the past whenever I did play it was not much fun, seemed to be just another underpowered clothie caster. This time I decided it would be different, so I bought every Bind-on-Account item I could get my hands on using my priest's stock of badges and Stone Shards and sent them to the Warlock. I got the shoulders (+10% xp, yey :)), Staff of Jordan (great 2H stave) and 2 trinkets with both an equip stat boost and a proc every time a mob dies (+health and +mana, great for leveling and perfect for a Warlock).
I also sent the little guy (he's a gnome) 200g and splurged in the AH, getting some nice green gear for all other slots. Some of his previous gear was from level 15 or even 12, sheesh!

Well what can I say, the new gear sure made a difference, plus getting new abilities as I dinged levels. I'm now level 28 and feel like a real bad-ass, DoT-ing and Fearing my way to victory. With my big blue bodyguard by my side I'm consistently taking down groups of 2-3 mobs my level and even higher (1-2 levels higher usually).

My best kill so far was of an elite one level higher than me who had a caster add, it was a really tough fight as the caster banished me right at the start. Luckily I'm Demonology specced so my Void Walker managed to last till the banish was over and I could stream some health to him. I finished the fight with both me and the VW almost dead and me OOM, but eventually we won.

It is definitely a huge difference from my mage - of course I leveled him during Vanilla WoW, very different game then. But still, as a mage I was always dying (or afraid of it), almost never attacked multiple mobs and my down-time was significantly longer. I find that in comparison a Warlock is tons of fun :)

I understand from reading forums that until level 52, Affliction is the preferred spec for leveling. However I personally prefer Demonology even if it is a bit slower, as I feel safer that my pet can tank several mobs at a time without dying, and it is not so easy to get agro from him. I'm also not following any leveling guide, instead I'm just doing quests as they happen, whatever is in my log and seems interesting, even if it involves a lot of running / flying on griphons. Still I'm looking forward for level 30 and a mount.

Traditionally I've always found levels 30-40 the hardest to level (most boring), with 40-50 being not much better. In addition, the current work pressure will ease off eventually and I'll go back to raiding so not sure I will have time for more leveling. So I'm not sure I will get the Warlock much higher. But we will see :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Social MMOs

Keen has an interesting post about Bringing the Social Game Back. I had some comments but they became too long, hence this post :)

There are two main ways for players to interact with each other in an MMO: either by competing or by cooperating. Note that these don't map directly to PvP and PvE since you still have cooperation in PvP (your side's team) and competition in PvE (no direct example comes to mind but I could imagine a scenario or two).
There are also more minor forms of interaction, such as trade, crafting and chat.

I don't think Keen is right that the way to make MMOs more social are things like forced groupings, harsher death penalties or more "meaningful quests". The first only relates to PvE content and in any case anything which forces players to do something will end up alienating some part of the player base. The second is too negative - too much stick, not enough carrot. The third has nothing to do with social - you can have epic solo quests as easily as grouped ones. One suggestion I especially didn't like is the "No map / crude map" one. I'm sorry but it is never a good idea to make a technically worse game in order to force your players to work around those limitations. Some will. Most will leave for greener pastures, and with good reason.

But I agree that more social MMOs would be a good thing. How to achieve that?

* Provide strong incentives for player cooperation, without making it too much "stick" or too much "carrot". Examples could include better XP while grouped for leveling; easier game mechanisms (than WoW's - I don't know what other games have) for forming groups for group quests/instances/raids; a strong guild system with benefits for players the longer they stay in the guild; etc.

* Provide equally strong and interesting game features for players who prefer competition. This can take the form of PvP, RvR, PvPvE, or even competition-based PvE.

* Trade, crafting and chat (as well as other social tools such as ingame voice) can all enhance the social aspect without having artificial limitations (e.g. no auction house as Keen suggested). In a game focused more on PvE and PvP these will probably be minor, but there is plenty you could do even in such a game: special crafting mats which require groups to get; recipes which require active (same-time, no alts) cooperation between players with different professions to produce; The "carrot" to offset these limitation would be that the items produced from such cooperative efforts would be better than average.

I think a game which would combine all the above in a strong and polished way would be even more successful than WoW :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Forced Break

Raiding has been very good since joining the new guild, just yesterday we cleared Ulduar25 up to and including Thorim and I won a very nice pair of boots, finally replacing my very old Naxx10 boots. We've gotten Yogg in 2nd phase down to 60% so only another 30% to go and we will be able to enter 3rd phase.

However, due to work pressure I have decided I don't have any choice but to put in some extra work time in the evenings, which means I need to give up raiding for a while :(

Friday, July 03, 2009

A List of Useful WoW Sites

Now here's a nice list of useful WoW sites:

It's a wiki too, so anyone can help edit it and add more sites. Very handy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thinking of the new 3.2 Raid Instance

There are so many 3.2 news items right now, it seems almost a shame not to write about them.

On the other hand, I hate writing about PTR changes. Here one week, gone the next... so much for the buckets of words you spent on them :)

But I will say this, so far, I like the gem and profession changes (although I wish the Alchemy perk had been beefier). I like the token changes, badge changes and the new druid look (but I wish holy priests wouldn't get nerfed). I like the possibility to extend the raid lockout.

I don't especially like what I'm reading about the new raid instance. If I understand correctly, it will be basically a ring-style event rather than a proper instance. Now don't get me wrong, I like beating difficult boss fights (right now my guild is wiping on phase-2 of Yogg-Saron and I'm loving every minute of it :P). But I also love a dungeon's atmosphere, I loved it that SSC and TK and Karazhan and Molten Core and BWL and AQ (20, never did 40) etc. each had a unique look and feel and that as you progressed inside you not only saw new bosses but also new interesting rooms opening up. The instance would draw me inside and the feeling of being in an epic place enhanced the pleasure of fighting epic battles. Let me put it this way, would the Ragnaros fight had felt half as epic if you hadn't had to make your way to the very center of a huge underground cavern full of molten flowing Lava? If all you had to do was enter a bare round room and poof he would appear in the middle of the simple dirt floor?
The trash clearing up to bosses is also part of the challenge of an instance and while I never liked too much trash, too little trash is also I think problematic. No trash at all is just not appealing to me and I think ultimately detracts from the fun of the raid.

What can Blizzard do to spice-up the new "ring-of-blood raid"? Maybe have the look of the room change when the boss appears, so that you actually got a room with different size, LoS mechanics, etc. for every fight. Even better would be if at every "stage", the raid started out not directly fighting the boss but at the beginning of a small instance with a short distance and a small amount of trash to clear before getting to the boss room.

But in my nightmares I dream it will be none of the above, that instead we'll get a simple arena, dirt floor and all, and bosses appearing out of thin-air, completely devoid of atmosphere, lore and setting, like giant pinyatas ready to shower epics if only the raid can get the tactics right... if that becomes the new end-game raiding instance I fear I will lose a big part of my motivation for raiding :(

There I go, writing buckets of words about un-released content that is sure to change 10 times between now and release... so I think I'll stop now :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ulduar-10 Hard Modes

Apart from the regular Ulduar-25 runs during weekdays, my new guild also does Ulduar-10 runs during the weekend. Sometimes it is 2 groups, usually a strong "A" group (who have cleared Ulduar-10) and a much weaker "B" group.
Last weekend there were not enough people for 2 such groups so there was only one group, a mix of people from both groups. Since there was pretty good firepower and healing, we took on some hardmodes and achievements.

XT - we managed to kill him within I think 200 seconds or something like that. Very nice DPS, even I as a healer helped a bit :)

Hodir - we went for getting him down within 3 minutes, did a very good job with the crit buff but we were just 6 seconds short - I blame it on the fact that I had to heal all the time so couldn't help the DPS :)

Freya - we went at first right to the biggest challenge, taking her down with all 3 adds up. The complexity and intensity of the ensuing fight has to be experienced to be believed, I seriously have to say I didn't feel as challenged since trying OS+3. As a healer, the amount of stuff I have to do and be aware of is way above a normal Freya fight. Unfortunately, I was suffering from lag and DC issues (which in fact I have been suffering from for the last week or 2) all evening, and a healer not there 100% means an almost sure wipe in this fight. Nor was I the only one with such problems, plus we also started with an under-geared OT who was simply impossible to keep alive when he was tanking the 3 big adds. Well to make a long story short, after quite a few tries the RL decided to give up, we took down one of the adds and proceeded to 1-shot Freya+2. I guess all those attempts on Freya+3 helped us learn the fight well :)

We continued to Mimiron however it was too late to do anything serious with him so we just did normal mode, no hard mode for him. After Freya+3, one-shotting Mimiron seemed almost easy :)

I read in another blog that hard-mode fights were just "gimmicks", or "more of the same (boss abilities)". Having experienced first-hand some of them, I have to say that this is only partially true. At least so far for Council, Freya and (from what I've read) Mimiron, this is plain wrong. In addition, while there is nothing different about the Hodir fight mechanics when you are going for hard-mode, execution becomes everything and this does change the fight - it's no longer enough to beat the enrage timer, you now have to really execute perfectly in order to beat the much harder 3-min timer. If good fight execution isn't a test of hard-core raiding, then I don't know what is :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Running Molten Core

Last night there was no raid scheduled and I decided to pursue an old dream of mine, try to get the legendary Thunderfury for my DK. What set it off was a friend telling me he wanted to work on his reputations and mentioned a few names, including Hydraxian Waterlords.

So my friend (on his rogue) and myself (on my DK) started out to Molten Core. Neither of us had the required object to douse the runes but we figured we would get all bosses except the last 2, he would get rep and the bindings for the sword have a chance to drop from bosses before the last 2. However it turned out that Blizzard have changed it, now when a boss is killed his rune automatically goes out, so we would clear MC.

When we got there, I found out my DK was not attuned to MC so we quickly did the ATC quest (took us all of 5 minutes). Luckily for us as it turns out, a druid friend decided he wanted to come as well. He is boomkin specced but he healed us a lot and really without his healing we would have wiped a lot more so I'm glad he came.

As it is, we did manage to wipe, 2 times due to silly stuff and once due to wrong tactic. The first time we wiped was trying to take out Shazzrah before Geddon, instead of course we pulled both her and Geddon and a patrolling hound at the same time, plus I got lag spike at the same moment (but we would have wiped even without the lag).
Second wipe was when I pulled Geddon while rogue was AFK, I and the druid forgot that Geddon does a magic debuff on the raid that burns mana and without a paladin or mage to remove it, the druid's mana was gone in a second. Without healing on me and too low DPS, I died with Geddon still at 50% health (rogue came back to find himself dead :)).
Third wipe was on Majordomo, we thought the healers would be a problem so I suggested the druid go bear, taunt one healer to him far from the pack, quickly take him down with the rogue and so on, while I tank the rest of the pack. Well that turned out not too good, especially as I DC'd mid-fight. Also it turned out it was not a problem at all to AoE down the entire pack.
So after that wipe we simply AoE'd the entire pack down, with the rogue using reduced-healing poison and interrupting heals where he could and we quickly won the fight too.

Ragnaros actually was a bit harder than I expected, not because of the boss (he hit like a wuss) or adds - we took him down after only 1 pack of sons and the sons ofc we AoE'd down within seconds of them spawning. The problem was, I had never before been at Ragnaros as melee/tank so I didn't know where to stand, and the knockbacks he did threw me in the air so high that I took considerable falling damage every time I landed on ground. Thankfully the druid was able to heal me through it and eventually the rogue found the right place to stand so that I fell into the lava every time. TBH I don't remember the tank and melee getting thrown around like that at level 60, but it's been a long time and I played a mage back then so I didn't pay too much attention to melee positioning.

All in all it was a very nice full-clear of MC, we did it 3 people in about 2 hours, including 3 wipes which we could have easily avoided. Of course we ran past most of the trash instead of trying to kill them, as that really would have taken too long. It was a fun evening, a little bit of a challenge and brought back a lot of nice memories (just before the Ragnaros pull the druid goes "ok no pulling now before you give us 15 minutes of tactics", that set me lol-ing, we really did have some of the longest tactics sessions back at 60 on Ragnaros :)).

No bindings of course, but enough gold to cover the repair bill and then some - not really good gold/hour but than, that wasn't the purpose. Oh, and my DK got the Molten Core achievement, which is nice :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Running Ulduar-25 with the new guild

Here are some impressions from the few runs I've done so far with my new guild:

* Raid setup is fast - while typically in my older guild, even though we were doing only 10-man raids, it took us a long time to get started. According to guild rules we were supposed to start invites at 19:45 server time, in reality we would still be missing people at 20:00. Many times our raids would start only at 20:10 or later - sometimes much later. With the new guild, you are supposed to show up online at 19:30, even though raid invites are at 19:45. Invites start on time and no special effort is made to make sure people come, e.g. asking if people need a summon. People are just expected to show up on time at the Ulduar entrance, and typically they do. Yesterday was a very good start for example - invites were on time and raid was filled by 19:50. I had to go AFK for 5 minutes - by the time I got back (19:55), most of the area leading up to Flame Leviathan was already cleared... by 20:05 FL was down.

* Optional (non-tier loot) bosses are skipped if possible. In my old guild we did FL, followed by Razorescale, XT and Ignis (who is IMO the hardest boss in the first wing). Only after first wing is cleared did we use to continue to the second wing, where we would go for Assembly first, followed by Kologarn, and the bosses after him. My new guild takes down FL, XT, skips Razor and Ignis and the Assembly and goes right for Kologarn, opening the way to the harder bosses. Last night we wiped some on Thorim but had we taken him down quickly and managed to do Freya, we would have had all of today for Vezax and Mimiron and Yogg-Saron - bosses which are still hard for the guild. I like this method of clearning Ulduar and I'm sorry we didn't think of it in my previous guild. Live and learn.

* Minimal setup time before boss fights - if someome doesn't know tactic it is explained briefly but the sentiment seems to be "lets do it and if we wipe at least you would have seen the fight which is better than a long explanation". On the one hand I like this, spending 20 minutes in my old guild explaining tactics to people new to the boss was something I always found very annoying. However I think the new guild takes this minimal setup approach to an exterme, for example, there is almost no healer setup done, except when required by fight mechanics (e.g. split up the group on Razorscale to 2 sides or gauntlet and arena group on Thorim). On the one hand this saves time, on the other we have wiped in the past due to healing problems... well, time will tell what is the correct balance.

* Back to the DKP - a 10 man raiding guild is small enough to just roll on loot, I think (I hope I am right) that after a week or two all people got at least some loot from bosses. In the new guild they use a DKP based system, on the one hand this is good due to the inherent advantages of a DKP system (the more you raid the more chances at winning loot), on the minus side it seems to make people only care if they have enough DKP, some people I've seen out-bidding on items even when it was clear the other person bidding needs the item more.

* We have nothing to be ashamed of - basically the people who came over from the old guild are 1 DPS, 1 tank and 2 healers (well and 1 social :)). In tems of doing your job in the raid, knowing to "get out of flames" and being high on meters I think we are all doing a great job. Our DPS has been as high as 3rd place, incredible considering his gear (mostly 10man Ulduar). On healing meters we are lower but healing meters in any case don't measure everything and the important thing is that the raids we are in manage to take down even hard bosses (there are some hiccups but those will go away as our gear gets better).

Oh yeah, last point - it feels good to be raiding regularly again :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A New Guild

Sometimes, love just ain't enough...

I remember a song in the 90s with those words, or something similar. Somehow it was the first thing that jumped to my mind when I thought about why I had to leave my current guild.

Sometimes people leave their guild because they don't love it, or they don't fit in somehow. Last night I left Phalanx on my main, Solidfaith. I did this together with 4 other people, not because we don't love Phalanx, but because raiding had completely stopped lately and there was no solution in sight.

In hindsight, perhaps it should have been obvious. A 10 man serious raiding guild is a strange beast, caught in the middle, not good enough for the serious raiders who want 25man loot and achievements and the casuals who only want/are able to play once or twice per week, who cba to read boss tactics or show up for raids prepared and on time.

So, as much as we (the Phalanx officers) tried, we just couldn't recruit serious raiders. And the casuals who sometimes joined us claiming to want to raid but then barely showing up to raids just made things worse. As we lost raiders due to attrition and RL reasons, we simply didn't manage to replace them.

Some people might think that us leaving Phalanx is just another variation on the raider who has geared up enough in his current raiding guild and jumps to the next higher level. But there is a big difference between leaving a guild still actively raiding and leaving one which doesn't even manage to have enough people online to raid, night after night.

My new guild has at least 3 people I know previously (have guilded with), apart of course from the people I moved-in with from Phalanx. There are also several people I have pugged with who I know to be good people. So I felt comfortable right from the start, not a "stranger in a strange land".

In addition, right after we joined last night we were invited to a 2nd 10-man Ulduar run (the guild does 25man raids during the week and 10man during the weekend). Even though we were new and this was the "b-group" we still managed very nicely, taking down FL, XT, Kologarn, Auriaya, Hodir, Thorim and Freya. Not exactly the order I am used to but still half of Ulduar cleared after a late start and with people not used to playing with each other? Not bad :)

In addition, even though I am new and have no DKP I still was allowed to win (by roll) several items of gear - I won new shoulders and a new 1-h weapon (dagger) which are a very nice upgrade to my gear.

So long Phalanx, it's been a long road, not easy but with a lot of satisfaction. We did very well for a non-hardcore guild IMHO, and I have nothing but respect for all the great people who made it happen, including those who due to RL could not show up for every raid. I'm sorry it didn't work out better but I think those left behind understand.