My Chars

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...