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.