My Chars

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).