My Chars

Friday, April 16, 2010

Leaving WoW

It's been a great 5 years. I've had fantastic experiences which I'll never forget, made many friends and perhaps touched some lives.

Raiding, my main activity (together with leveling alts :)) has always been fun and continued to be fun right up till the moment I decided to quit. From the shouts of joy on TeamSpeak when Ragnaros (40-man raid!) was defeated to the same shouts on Ventrilo when Lich King 25-man was downed recently, WoW has always provided me with more than enough motivation to log-on.

Too much motivation, in fact. I've been letting RL issues slowly slide downhill, playing WoW nearly every evening. Nothing like a major issue in my life, but a combination of small issues which I am unhappy about and which might, if I don't put a stop to them now, grow to be major issues.

So I'm taking a break. Maybe till Cataclysm, maybe longer, but for now I'm freezing my account.

To any bloggers reading this who are in SAN, thanks for accepting me so warmly, although I barely logged in to that char the few times I did were lots of fun. Feel free to gkick my level 8 Shaman from the guild :)

I'm shutting this blog down for now. Maybe I'll re-open it in the future, if I re-join WoW.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

First ICC-25 Run with the +10% Buff

Last night (as is almost always the case on Wednesday) we had more than enough people for ICC-25, so we had our usual ICC-25 clearing run.

What was different about last night was that it was the first time with the all-new +10% ICC buff, a 5% increase over the previous weeks' buff.

To make a long story short, there were some noticeable differences but they didn't make much difference in terms of progression for the evening.

  • Our tanks had more health as did the rest of the raid, leading to increased survivability.
  • Healer HPS actually went down. I guess this is due to all the healers doing more healing per spell, resulting in more over-healing. I could be wrong.
  • Raid damage was higher. We managed to take down Blood Queen with 2 MC'd people at the end, something which probably would have meant a wipe before the buff.
Bottom line though we took down the same bosses as we always do, in fact wiped a few more times than usual on Blood Queen due to some new people in the raid (the downside of heavy recruitment). Since the raid ended after Blood Queen we didn't even take down Dreamwalker which we have done in previous Wednesdays.

Still all-in-all I think the effects of the buff are noticable and I hope this week we'll have some good attempts finally on LK-25.

In personal news I won a nice new necklace, replacing my old 251 necklace and bumping up my GS just above 6k. Yey :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Romp Through Ulduar-25 Hardmodes

Last night being a Tuesday we had less than 25 raiders online as is usually the case for us lately (officers are currently busy recruiting so hopefully this sad situation should change in the near future).

After a while the GL asked if we all wanted to go Ulduar-25 hardmodes, I guess the officers also wanted a break from ICC. Since people agreed (we all want the drake :)) the invites were sent out and off we went.

We started out 20 people, luckily a few people joined us (friends etc.) so I think we were 22 or 23 after clearing the trash before FL. FL himself was pretty easy with 4 towers and we one-shotted him even though some of the people had not done it in the past - the increased damage and health from our gear made the difference. Still several people died and we did have people jump on him and stun him once so it was obvious to me that without knowing that tactic we would have wiped.

XT hardmode is of course just a DPS race up to the broken heart phase so that was easy. Once we had the heart broken it takes a while to down him and ranged sometimes slacked a bit on taking down sparks leading to us having 2 up at once but we managed to get things under control and one-shotted him too.

From XT we continued to the Assembly of Iron. This hardmode is still not trivial by far, even with our gear. First 2 bosses are of course pretty easy now but once Steelbreaker is the last one any death will heal him for 20% and the smallest mistake usually leads to a death. So we wiped a couple of times but the third time everyone did the tactic correctly and we downed him.

Next up was Kologarn, this hardmode actually becomes difficult when you have too much DPS as it is easy to make a mistake and kill him without killing both hands together. Luckily our officers were on top of the tactics and required health levels and stopped DPS on each arm as required and we one-shotted this too.

Auriaya the crazy cat lady was easy, with our tanks improved stats they were taking very little damage from cats or boss and the healers had an easy job.

From her we continued to Hodir, this is a straight DPS race so of course was very easy. This is such a caster friendly fight, I went as shadow and placed 8th on Recount with over 12k DPS. Not bad for an off-spec :)

Thorim was much more of a challenge. As few of us had done this hardmode before (I think I did the 10-man version only once), once Thorim and Sif were down the combined lasers, ice-storms and lightning damage combined to take out over half the raid. I'm sorry to say I didn't move out of a Blizzard in time and died before I could heal myself :(
With less than I think 10 people alive and only 2 healers the fight dragged on but eventually Thorim was down, one-shotted even if a bit messily :)

Freya was next and we nearly wiped on one trash pack once, that trash is tough! :)
Thankfully there were only a couple of wipes on Freya due to people having to remember how to correctly kill the 3 big adds that spawn (that lasher will still pawn even a 60k health tank if it hits), or one wipe due to a tree not getting killed. Once everyone remembered the tactic we downed her smoothly and added Knock Knock Knock on Wood to our list of hardmodes.

It was raid end time so we still have Mimiron, Vezax and Yog-Saron hardmodes. I have a feeling these hardmodes will keep us occupied for a while! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some Thoughts About Grouping in WoW

About a week ago Stylish Corpse put up this nice post about PQs and Grouping in MMOs in particular. As I haven't played WAR I cannot comment on PQs.

However I do disagree with some of the blanket assertions used by Stylish Corpse regarding Grouping and leveling and I can comment specifically about WoW.

"if you do want to group you have to put up with getting less xp, taking longer to complete quests, and generally getting less bang for your questing buck than if you were by yourself."

S.C.'s main point is that questing alone in MMOs today is better in the XP/hour department and therefore discourages grouping. I agree with this, at least in general. However, it's not so black-n-white, for example there are always group quests in every area of WoW and you'll nearly always see players writing in /1 asking for a group for that. I admit the mechanic for looking for a group for these quests could be improved but the point is such quests do exist and people do find groups for them (I know I have) - so it is not like questing at least in WoW is 100% solo. I suspect the same is true of other MMOs.

"What I would like for the next few MMOs to do is to provide some genuine benefit to grouping..."

Well here's the funny thing, WoW really does have a genuine benifit to grouping. The XP/hour, gear upgrades and everything are really good there. Only it is not for questing, it is when using the LFD tool.

Making this tool cross-server and allowing you to do any instance in your level range randomly however many times you wanted per day has had a huge influence on leveling. I would estimate my Warlock gained about 70% of his XP while leveling from instance runs and this was mostly because I had to wait so long as a DPS (~30 minutes) between runs. Had I been a healer or tank I suspect 90% would have come from them!
The XP/hour is amazing, I would be questing along for 20-30 minutes doing about 1/4 or less of my bar to next level, then the LFG window would come up and in a short 20 minute run I would be doing 1/2 of my bar to the next level. Not to mention gear drops!

I guess you have to experience it for yourself to realize what a difference the new LFD tool has made for leveling. I know I underestimated its effect by a lot before leveling my Warlock to 80.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Heroic ICC 10 Impressions

I wanted to put down on paper, err virtual in this case, my thoughts and impressions of ICC-10 man heroic boss fights. This won't be a strategy guide as the information on the normal websites (wowwiki, wowhead, tankspot) is already pretty good, but I will highlight some things I think are important, especially from my point of view as a healer.

For all(?) bosses one of the main differences compared to normal mode is an increase in health, leading of course to an increase in required raid DPS before the enrage timer which almost all bosses have. Since a larger health pool is a given, I won't mention it below per boss, but you can assume this is the case.

Lord Marrowgar - There are 2 main differences in this fight between heroic and normal mode. The first is the blue flames emitted move more slowly and cause more damage. Our normal tactic on L.M. is for all the raid except hunters to stand right on the boss hit box (behind of course), forcing him to spew those out to his only targets, the tanks (or the occasional hunter who has to stay at range). On heroic this makes it slightly more difficult for the tanks as they need to "dance" more to stay out of the fires. I don't really think this is a huge deal but it did mean more raid damage (tanks moving -> boss moving -> people suddenly find themselves outside hit box and targeted by flames...), so this is something to be expecting as a healer.
However while not a huge deal in the first phase, Bone Storm now becomes a hell of long-lasting, slow moving blue fires covering nearly the entire floor. Add to this the 2nd change which is bone spikes which continue to occur during Bone Storm and you've gone from a 10-man fight you can yawn your way through to one where you probably will be losing people. Pre-HoT before Bone Storm as much as possible and keep yourself alive - a dead healer heals no one. We managed to get Marrowgar down after a few wipes but it was certainly not easy.
I think in terms of tuning the fight for heroic mode, the devs got this one right. Now so easy that the "heroic" tag is a joke, not so hard as to make it impossible.

Lady Deathwhisper - During the first phase, the occasional MC (which does not happen in normal 10 man) can make life difficult for a 10 man team, as it takes DPS away from the adds/shield. We tried 2 tactics, in the first we stood in the platform behind L.D., relatively bunched up. The adds were then killed with AoE used to take down the shield at the same time. While this worked to get us to phase 2, bunching up meant a lot less room for mistakes, leading to wipes due to loose adds or MC'd people killing healers or other DPS before they could be CC'd.
Standing in the normal place in front of the boss, between the add spawn areas, meant more control but much less DPS on the shield so that we had trouble reaching phase 2. That's actually funny as in normal mode we can get her to phase 2 before the second add wave...
Reaching phase 2 just makes the fight harder as adds now continue to spawn, meaning the tanks now have an extra headache to deal with while the healers have to heal raid wide damage due to both boss, adds and ghosts.
I think based on our attempts that actually a solution of standing behind her in phase 1 and spreading out in phase 2 might work but we'll have to see. For now L.D 10-hc remains undefeated by us.

Gunship Battle - Heroic? What heroic? We got the I'm on a Boat achievement for the people who still didn't have it while 1-shotting this so-called Heroic battle. Oh well I guess free 264 loot ain't bad, although it would have been nice to be less bored.

Deathbringer Saurfang - I'm actually not quite sure what differences exist here from normal. The main one is the beasts spawn and cast a raid-wide slowing debuff on the raid (80% I think) which means when they get agro on people, they usually hit (unlike normal where you can usually run away). However D.S. was getting tons of Blood Power even faster than the beasts hitting people would explain, so I am probably missing something (need to read the heroic tactics myself I guess).
Regardless, this fight went from "kill D.S. on normal before a single mark" to "get a mark at 70% and wipe at 50%".
Our best attempt was after we settled on rooting one beast (say the left) while all ranged focus-killed (and slowed down) the right. Only once it was dead was the focus shifted to the right one. I suspect that a combination of better handling of the beasts (sometimes they were rooted close to melee) together with faster taunting of the boss by the 2nd tank when the 1st tank has the debuff would reduce the boss incoming blood power enough to let us win the fight.
Needless to say, the healing load when 2-man healing this fight is very intense and a paladin healer capable of keeping up 2 Mark targets using Beacon is worth his/her weight in gold in this fight.

Festergut - Interesting fight compared to normal, which alas I spent mostly face down on the floor (on the takedown attempt), proving without a doubt that the heroic version too can be 2-man healed, which of course was my intent all along ;p
Unlike the mostly static normal version, the heroic fight is made more dynamic by Putricide standing on a balcony on the right side of the room and occasionally throwing one of his yucky Malleable Goo things in the direction of a raid member. These come in (bounce in) rather quickly, so the approach we took was to stand in the left side of the room so as to give ourselves more time to react. In addition we stood in loose groups (still spread 6 yards of course) of ranged and melee, and a DPSer called out "ranged" or "melee" whenever a Goo was incoming.
As long as you can keep mobile while still paying attention to the regular fight mechanics (spores, etc.) you should be okay. We got him down in the 3rd attempt.

Rotface - I'm used to thinking of Rotface as a much more difficult fight compared to Festergut but the heroic version was surprisingly easy and we 1-shotted him. Like Festergut, Putricide "helps out" by adding an element to the fight, only in this case it was the much more manageable Vile Gas mechanic. I guess an unlucky Vile Gas + spew from Rotface + Infection would have killed someone especially with the increase to the healing reduction effect from M.I. but either we got lucky or 3 healers using 25-man gear are more than enough for this fight :)

Professor Putricide - We only tried a short wipe on heroic mode, so the only thing I know from first hand is that the new disease thing which you need to pass around killed our druid healer so fast it left our heads spinning. I have a feeling we'll be wiping on him for a while ;p

Blood Prince Council - It's hard to know what went wrong for us here. We tried slightly different tactics here on different wipes and perhaps that was a mistake, or maybe we were getting tired or impatient. Regardless, the increase in number and speed of Kinetic Orbs left us struggling to handle them while still keeping up good DPS on the bosses, while the movement-causes-dmg-and-slowing-debuff mechanic was truly a pain in the royal behind, especially if as a healer you were knocked back due to a vortex outside of healing range of the main tank. We lost the tank several times due to this. It's especially bad when you have to run from/to the empowered Fire Orb, but that tactic should still be used, regardless.
Pro tip (I only found out later alas) for all you Priests and Warlocks out there - wanding works very well from what I've read on those pesky Beach Balls. So having an arsenal mostly of DoTs and channeled spells shouldn't keep you from helping out with those orbs. Keep a macro handy maybe? Anyway using a wand as more than a stat stick, who would have thunk it? :)
Hmm come to think of it, rogues and warriors might be able to help out as well with their ranged weapons (guns/throwing-knives)? Nah, they will probably complain of the DPS loss ;)

Blood-Queen Lana'thel - Although we failed rather miserably on her council, B.K.L. herself proved to me more susceptible to our gentle persuasion and succumbed to us after about 5 attempts.
Key to the heroic fight is intense healing. With a 3 healer team our best healer, a resto druid, topped 10k HPS on the fight and I switched from Disc to Holy as I was unhappy with my healing output (I think I topped 7k on the takedown fight). Of course going from 2-man healing on normal to 3 healers on heroic means more pressure on our DPS but once they sorted out things like not biting people on time, we were all good ;p
As usual the Air Phase is where you have the most chance for people to die - If you are a priest like me, cast FW on the pull and it will be ready again for the second Air Phase. I used it on our druid (as he was our best healer) while using my Human Racial to break out of a fear in one Air Phase.

That's it for now, I hope when we take down additional heroic bosses I have more to update. In summary I think the heroic versions of the fights are well done and the fights are appropriately hard, except for the Gunship Battle.

State of the Solid

Been a while since I posted, as I've been writing short updates on Buzz which was enough for me. But I hear I may actually have a couple of readers so perhaps I should update here too ;p

Solidfaith and his guild have been advancing nicely, downing several bosses in Heroic ICC-10 since downing LK-10 opened the way. LK-25 alas remains an elusive target as the guild struggles with people not showing up due to RL problems/priorities.

Solidd - pushed into a healer role in guild alt runs and PuG raids, I've been thinking about buying Frost Emblem gear for him. Till now I've spent his Emblems on Primordial Saronites which I've sold in the AH. Buying raiding gear for an alt seemed a waste especially when I felt strapped for cash. OTOH I seem to have enough cash now for immediate needs unless I want to spend it on a 12k gold mount which would be silly :)

Solidstar - my poor neglected DK. You were such a fun character to level, but doing heroics as a tank compared to my druid Solidd seems blah, Solidd is more fun to tank with TBH. As for DPS off-spec, I never was big on melee DPS and frankly would rather play a ranged... At least I have Inscription as an excuse to log in from time to time :)

Locksolid - Speaking of ranged DPS, Locksolid finally dinged 80 last night. I even went to my first heroic instance run (how exciting ;)) and later joined a PuG 10-man to go to the weekly raid boss, Razuvious in Naxx. Not only did I get Emblems from the quest but he also dropped an iLvl 200 cloth shoulders piece which I happily snapped up - it was an upgrade! :)
I haven't gone to the trouble of crafting Locksolid items or buying him the BoA shoulder enchant (as a head I already use en engineering helmet which comes with its own "enchant") so that is next on my list. I expect I'm going to have a lot of fun doing heroics as a DPS, without worrying about tanking or healing like I usually do :)

That's pretty much it. I've sent Locksolid's BoA chest and shoulders (the chest was replaced with a quest drop) to Solidstate, I want to get him to level 75 at least before the expansion comes as well as max my tailoring and enchanting on him. I expect it will be a bit of a bummer playing a leveling mage after playing my warlock, as a mage is so much squishier :(

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Buzzing Around at Google Buzz

Where have I gone to these last few days?

Well I've been trying out Google Buzz and liking what I saw :)

Sure it's not a replacement for Blogger (yet!) but it is very easy/fast to use and really that's what I always wanted, a place to make short small posts about my WoW experiences. I don't really have the time (or inclination) for long/in-depth articles.

For my style of blogging, once Google add tagging and proper editing controls to the Buzz text input box (not that the Blogger one is very good, but that's another issue...) it will become a full replacement for this site. Till then, I'll probably be posting very little here as I keep updating Buzz with my daily/weekly WoW highlights.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blood Queen Lana'thel 10-man Down

Last night I went for a scheduled 10-man raid. Actually we were supposed to have 2 teams running but we were short on both an off-spec tank and a healer, so in the end the officers decided to put one strong 10-man team up and have the other deferred to another evening when hopefully there would be all the mains needed.

Obviously not something all the people who got left out were happy about, but thanks to having 2 main-tanks and 3 main-healers my group managed to get all the way to Sindragosa, including clearing Blood Queen as I said (that we cleared Putricide is a given of course :)).

The evening started off as usual, first wing was never hard for us in 10-man and after the recent nerfs it is practically a joke. Second wing however was another story...
On entering the second wing we encountered the quest giver for the new weekly ICC raid quests who tasked us with getting infected from both Rotface and Festergut. As this requires not wiping on the second boss after downing the first, we decided to down Rotface first under the assumption that we were more likely to wipe on Rotface. As it turns out, we were right. We wiped on Rotface. Twice!

I have no idea why that happened to be honest. Sometimes even gear won't make up for lack of attention/focus. Also our third healer was trying to remove the debuff all alone with the result that he nearly didn't heal at all. 2-man healing this fight is no joke especially as both other healers were priests (a druid+priest combo would probably have had more luck). Regardless, we switched to having the paladin tank decurse with me helping and this time we managed fine, although a couple of people did die so didn't get the debuff.

Festergut was thankfully 1-shotted and as we had read previously, it was enough for one person in the raid to return the quest for all to get it completed. One lucky sob even got a 264 BoE ring in his bag, not me alas :)

In spite of this weak start (2 wipes on Rotface...) we managed to 1-shot Putrcide 10 and 2-shot Blood Council. Coming up to Blood Queen we were not so sure we would manage as the fight is intensive for both DPS and healers and privately I had some reservations about our healing setup, yes we were 3 main healers but none of us was usually in the top 2 of healing meters and I was sure the lack of HoTs from a druid would be felt. Indeed, we wiped 2 times and both were due to people dying, usually in the spiky damage period right after the fear from the air-phase. However on the 3rd try people were more careful after the air phase, healers were more ready or perhaps we simply got lucky, since in spite of losing one DPS mid-fight, we managed to get the Blood Queen down.

My tip as a holy priest is to use Fear Ward on yourself just before the boss takes to the air in order to continue to heal people up in preparation for the shadow bolts nukes. On the second air phase I used my Human racial to break free of the fear, so again I could top people up. Otherwise at least in 10man it is a fairly easy fight to heal, mostly using AoE heals together with PoM and liberal use of Renew. The fight is very mana intensive, prepare to use all 3 of pot, pet and Hymn.

Anyway after the Blood Queen we went for Valithria Dreamwalker, for me this was a first time in the fight but the other healers had already beaten this encounter in 25man so after a wipe due to me getting healer agro and dying we managed to beat the adds and heal her up to full. Interesting fight as we had 2 healers go into the portals all the time, one a paladin and the other an off-spec elemental shaman using a healing spec but DPS gear. In spite of the DPS gear he managed an incredibly impressive 13k HPS since he had almost full stacks from the portals all the time.

I liked the round room fight just before Sindragosa, with the waves of spiders coming down from the walls around you. There was some joking on Vent about being afraid of spiders :) But it was mostly a time for the DPS to enjoy some pretty wild AoE.

I guess due to the late hour and feeling hyped about getting to Syndragosa with 18 attempts left, we entered her room and cleared the trash, followed by killing the 2 big dragons flying around. Turns out, killing them started the fight so we lost an attempt. Then a DI'd paladin rezzed me and I stayed on the floor too long and pulled her again, costing another attempt... :(

So we called it a night but overall it was a very successful night and I think really good practice for all involved as none of us (I think) had been at Blood Queen with the previous 10man group which downed her last week. I think we are now better ready for the 25man version :)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Putricide-10 Down

Last night ICC was accessible, which means of course we didn't have enough people in the guild for a 25man raid. Murphy's Law and all that...

So instead we got together a 10man raid. As I've written before we only have main tanks in the guild which means for this 2nd group, one tank was an off-spec (warrior). In addition we were missing a healer so a DPS paladin went on his off-spec.

In-spite of this and and late start we managed to quickly take down both Festergut and Rotface (Rotface was 1-shotted to my delight).
At this point someone suggested going to Blood Council instead but the raid leader and most others thought it would be better to try Putricide since that way we would not have to re-clear trash unless we took too long.
As it turns out, it only took one try :)
Actually that amazed me, we should have failed. The off-tank was assigned to the Abomination yet had never used him before, so we gave him 5min to watch a video about it. Yes despite being fresh to the job he managed to (mostly) slow down the adds correctly and drink up the pools.
At phase 1->2 transition we had an add up since the DPS continued too long on the boss (didn't stop at 82%). We survived.
Someone died mid-fight. Our druid rezzed him.
The fight was crazy but controlled, everyone did their part and of course having DPS that is already amazing for 25man raids meant that in a 10man raid small mistakes didn't matter thanks to the insane DPS.
Still it was the first Putricide-10 kill for all of us in the raid and there was much cheering on Vent when he died :)

Feeling good we continued to Blood Council, where the same off-tank had a lot of difficulties in a previous raid either staying alive (not enough dark blobs on him) or keeping agro on the boss (too much attention to dark blobs, not enough to boss). This time, for some reason, he was perfect. We wiped once due to all 3 healers being too far from the MT tanking the other 2 bosses but one the 2nd try we got the council down as well.

I believe we would have taken down the Blood Queen as well but a raid member had to leave early so we called it. Maybe today :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Small Steps

I haven't reported on progress for a while, for the simple reason there really hasn't been any. At least, not significant (in my eyes).

Sure, the guild cleared ICC-25 of all but Putricide and Blood Queen but really, those are the two bosses that I would like to report as taken down since taking them down means we can advance, but so far no luck. We have not even tried Blood Queen 25 yet and Putricide best attempt was 6% which is not bad, but not good enough ofc.

Earlier this week in 10-man a group consisting of 2 of our 3 main tanks and 3 of our best healers cleared all of ICC-10 including Blood Queen, so at least in 10-man the guild advanced as a whole. However since I was not in that kill and since a group consisting of a main tank and an off-specced or alt tank is hardly likely to be as successful, my personal advancement remains stalled.

Hence the small steps title - yes I have advanced in downing intermediate bosses in 25man ICC, but not the end-bosses. I've gotten new gear for Solidfaith and am actually pleased with his advancement in that respect. I keep doing the daily random heroic each day even on raiding days in order to get as many Frost Emblems as possible.
I've also gotten more emblems for both Solidd and Solidstar, but due to heavy raiding and focus on Solidfaith, there were many days where I did not do a daily random heroic with them.

Finally one nice thing I did was level Locksolid slightly yesterday. What happened was I was trying to help a friend with a 10man raid in ToGC-10 but for several reasons it fell apart. I was not in the mood for more heroics on Solidstar and had already done on Solidfaith and Solidd. Well as it turns out I had spoken the day before with a friend who was leveling a Shaman and he leveled 6 levels in one day just from grinding random instances (he started level 22 and got all the way to 28). This story made me very interested to see if I could level that quickly also. Since Locksolid was left at level 67 still doing quests in TBC areas and at 68 could start in Northrend quests, I decided to give it a try.

I logged Locksolid and signed up on the LFD tool. While I waited I continued with some more questing and pretty soon (I think it was around 15min, not sure) I was prompted with the party ready-check interface. Once inside, our group, composed of a paladin tank, priest healer and 2 other DPS promptly proceeded to totally smash the place.

This was Sethekk Halls. None of us was over-leveled for the instance (67 was highest level). None I assume were over-geared, since who tries to maximize leveling gear? Sure, BoA items are better than average usually, but even though the healer did a pretty lousy job, mobs were being taken down so fast my DoTs were pretty useless and I was pretty much forced into a hasty single instant-DoT and Rain-of-Fire. Pulling was non-stop and we were always at 50% health, it never mattered. So, either I'm remembering heroic Sethekk Halls and normal was always this easy (which I doubt) or Blizzard nerfed the hell out of lower instances. We did wipe once due to pulling too many mobs and getting 2 people MC'd, but that was the single time. Considering some of the crazy pulls we did, I am amazed we didn't wipe more times.

After finishing the instance in record time, the tank signed us up for another. The priest left but a druid healer (who was much better BTW) replaced him in under 10 seconds. We got Auchenai Crypts which used to be a hard instance but again, we nuked the place. I was actually using Hellfire on some trash pulls since the Druid was barely having to heal so I figured he would not have any problems. Helped my DPS by a lot, although the paladin tank still came up on top of damage done :)

I dinged 68 in the middle of the AC run, so that's 1/2 a level in about 1 full run, including rest-XP. I don't think I would have had the patience to do 12 runs (or more) in order to gain 6 levels but I see how it can be done, which makes instance-leveling one of the best (fastest) ways to level, assuming you get a good group.

I've already parked Locksolid in the Borean Tundra starting zone after doing a couple of initial quests there before logging out for the night. I hope raiding leaves me with some more time to play him as once again I find playing a warlock is immense fun :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Do all WoW players prefer ez-mode?

Not if you judge by my recent random heroics - AN on Solidfaith and Zul'Drak on Solidstar.

By the way the trigger for this post is an excellent post by PvD about what the Death Penalty really means. Go read it :)
However at the end PvD talks about how in WoW 5-man PuGs frequently kick a person who is under-performing or under-geared. Or easily leave group (especially if they are the tank) if they think they will save more time.

While this may be true in general, not all PuGs are like this. See Honor's Code PuG's Tale for a nice example of a good PuG.

Here are also 2 of my recent stories.

Solidfaith had a bumpy heroic AN start the other day, with a paladin tank who after the first 2 trash groups left the group without even a word. I can only assume he was upset at the DPS for pulling agro. Instead of everyone leaving group or myself leaving the group (which would have activated the 15 minuted debuff), we all stayed and chatted till and after less than 5 minutes (probably closer to 2 but I'm being cautious here) a new tank joined and we cleared the instance easily and without a wipe. Yes, the DPS were far from perfect, especially a noobish warrior. But there are many ways to deal with such issues and the most useless one is quitting the group without a word. Still the point is, the 3 DPS and myself didn't go into a fit when the tank left but waited the few minutes required to find another.

Solidstar had a much bumpier ride. Being an under-geared tank, it is hard for me sometimes to hold agro. Or for healers to keep me up. Well yesterday or was it the day before (only my RSS feed knows :p) I got into a heroic Zul'Drak random. Paladin healer, 3 DPSers. A few pulls later and it is obvious I'm going to have to work hard at keeping agro. But I like the challenge and the run goes relatively okay up until King Dred. At this point the rogue I think suggests we try the achievement. We try but I take too much damage from all the raptors hitting on me at the same time and die so we wipe. The healer rage-quits. Now at this point the DPS could have rage-quit as well, but they stay on and we get another healer. We go for the boss as you normally would, but the healer and a DPS die. I manage to stay alive long enough to the DPS to kill the boss, but as there is on one able to rez the healer and dead DPS, we are forced to wait. Again at this point any of the others - healer and DPS - could have rage-quit over the near wipe and long wait, but they don't. We continue on the groups in the next corridor, up the stairs and to the last few mobs before the last boss who are the annoying fearing DKs. Well at this point the DPS make an error and run in front of me and pull agro from the first 2 DK's + the patrolling single one. I might have been able to save even this from a wipe, but one of them gets feared into the back group of 2 DKs and pulls them as well. Wipe, and a DPS leaves. Now, I don't exactly blame him for leaving - it was annoying to wipe. But it was also stupid to leave at this point, with only 3 mobs between us and the final boss (we did manage to kill 2 adds). We quickly found another DPS, the dead people ran (well except for the rogue who didn't release and I could see the healer wasn't going to rez him but in the end one of the other DPS rezzed him) and we finished the instance. So sure, it wasn't pretty and it wasn't quick but the point is those players who stuck it out till the end prove not all WoW players look for the OP group to boost them through the instance.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Blood Council (25man) Impressions

Last night after clearing the first wing in ICC-25 our officers decided it would be better to give the new wing a try instead of doing Fester/Rot/Putri.

So off we went.

The trash before the blood council hits hard and the first pull nearly wiped the raid. We cleared the other packs more carefully (CC-ing one mob) but in general our DPS is high enough so that trash thankfully is not a problem.

Once we were standing before the council it was obvious most of us didn't really know the tactic. Personally I read the fight details but had not had time to watch a video so was not sure what to expect. Also read is perhaps a bit of a stretch, more like skimmed :)

Well anyway after going over a short tactics review we put a warlock as the shadow boss tank, and 2 of our tanks on the other two bosses. Initially we wiped very quickly as people learned what to watch out for but as the attempts progressed we learned and managed on our best attempt to get the council down to 40% which is pretty good for a first night. I'm confident we'll take them down the next time we face-off.

As a healer, specifically one tasked with tank-healing, I found the best tactic was to stand as far from the main "action" as possible, that way I could avoid most of the incoming damage simply by being far from it all the time. If you're going to be raid-healing or are melee or otherwise standing in the middle, there's no help for it but to be aware of the various explosions and stuff around you and run in/out as required. Practice makes perfect and all that...

What wiped us initially was raid people not knowing when to run out and when to keep away from boss. That was quickly fixed.

Later, we wiped at least twice due to other tanks or melee getting agro on the floating shadow balls, causing the shadow tank to die (due to missing dmg-reduction buff). Another time he ran straight into the physical-boss explosion - again in this fight everyone has to be aware of positioning and spell effects. Once we got the shadow agro sorted that was okay.

We wiped once due to a bug where the flame ball being bounced by one of our 2 hunters was bounced too high and pulled the final boss from above. That's a bit annoying if it's a bug since it's the sort of thing which I feel should quickly have been caught and seen in the PTR. The other option is that this is intended, for the purpose of preventing the ball to be bounced so high it doesn't pose a real problem, in which case the mechanic is sort of amusing. There we were happily fighting the council when suddenly an extra boss makes an appearance. Panic in the ranks is a good description of what happened next :D

On our good wipes, the ones where we progressed beyond wiping quickly due to a mistake, we wiped every time due to the empowered flame ball not being kited, exploding and killing many people. Now I'm not 100% sure what can be done about that since that sucker moves *fast*. We'll see.

All in all I would say this is a very fun fight, continuing the trend of complex fights such as Rotface where everyone in the raid really has to watch what is going on and not just blindly DPS or heal. I find such fights more fun than fights like Festergut which are a pure DPS race or simple fights like Lady Deathwhisper where you only need to move from the D&D she casts.

Of course part of the fun is being in a good raiding guild where everyone learns the fight quickly, if we continued to wipe all evening due to people making stupid mistakes I doubt I would have been as pleased at the end of the evening.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holy Priest Healing in Festergut 25

Last night, which was Sunday, the guild continued our ICC-25 raid from last week.

Last Wednesday we had 3 groups doing 10-man ICC with some slots filled by off-specs and this actually went well (all 3 groups made it up to Putricide).

Thursday we cleared the first wing in IC-25 but couldn't continue due to massive server lag. So today we continued.

Festergut was as usual 2-shot, no idea why we always wipe once on him, it's like a guild thing. We even do it on 10-man... lol :)

But in spite of it being a fairly easy fight, I do want to point out what is in my opinion at least a better way for a Holy priest to heal the fight. What brought this on was seeing another holy priest in the guild who is geared about the same as I am do significantly less healing than me (3.5k vs 5k HPS) on the wipe attempt. So while getting ready for the next attempt I gave her a whisper and told her to heal the same way as me, namely focus on only 3 spells: PoM on every CD, CoH on every CD and spam PoH.
The result was both of us doing on the takedown attempt around 5k HPS.

Due to the constant spamming of PoH mana can become an issue in this fight, at least it is for me near the end of the fight. Manage your pet wisely and don't be afraid to use your Hymn and a pot at the right moment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rotface-25 Down, All is Well

Been a while since I've posted, really mostly been too busy. But WoW business has been as usual, since the new wing opened we've cleared both Festergut and Rotface in 10-man and 25-man. Rotface-25 only last night since the guild missed a couple of raiding days due to missing people (including myself one day).

Speaking of last night, on 10-man we have already had 2 groups try out Putricide, one group managed to get him to 46% best attempt and group 2 (which I was in) to 60%. However soon after we finished Rotface-25, cleared the remaining trash and managed a single attempt on Putricide-25, ICC lagged-out. To be more exact, from angry users posting on the Blizzard forums, it seems that ICC was server-lagging massively on all the realms belonging to the same battlegroup of which Thunderhorn is part. That was very disappointing to us as we got stuck we massive server lag spikes, unable to complete spells, release from death or other weirdness. After about 20-30 minutes of waiting for the problem to be fixed we gave up (it was getting late) and called it a night.

Apart from raiding on Solidfaith I have gone down to a single heroic per day on Solidd since I now only need frost emblems on him, he is fully Triumph-geared on both tanking and healing specs. Instead I have been slowly doing more heroics on Solidstar, starting to gear him up. However due to lack of time (more raiding, less vacation from work) this is taking much longer compared to Solidd.
I think I'm doing reasonably well as a Frost DK-Tank but I'm not sure. For example I'm using a 2H weapon and the other day I was advised by another DK that "Frost is more for duel-wield tanking, if you want to 2H tank you should try Blood". My problem with that advice is that I don't see it is particularly true (I haven't taken talents specifically for duel-wielding) and I would lose out on some good AoE talents, something which I am not too keen about. In addition I only yesterday read an article on talking about this very issue and they didn't mention Frost as being only for duel-wielding, so I suspect that DK was wrong.

I need to post my impressions as a healer in Rotface-25 which is a crazy fight, will update another time...