Monday, December 28, 2009

Tanks for the Memories...

Tankfail... I've started seeing it more & more. (and healfail, and DPSfail...)
I have seen a noticeable decline in the normal folks running in the PuG Heroics lately. My guess is that all the more hardcore, more determined, and such folks have got all their triumph badges, and have moved on to more gear-heaven-y pastures.
How so?
When the new LFG/Badge system was implimented oh-so-long ago (sarcasm) I would get into a fail PuG, maybe once in 10 runs. Now, I would say it's 50-50 at best. What makes a PuG fail? Here's what I think:
- Everyone is "moderately" geared , at best. Though there may better geared DPS or two, it won't really help unless they can off-tank.
-ANY of the following:
- woefully undergeared tank
- woefully undergeared healer
- moderately inexperienced (or dumb) tank
- moderately inexperienced (or dumb) healer
- all 3 DPS are dumb/undergeared
- one incredibad DPS (early pulls, etc)
If you have a uber-geared Tank, or Healer, they can save (many) fail PuGs from failure, simply because they can either tank or heal the stupid/etc.
The problem is, they are becoming less & less common. They've "out geared" the regular Heroics, and have moved on.
I also think the long wait times for DPS are contributing to this. On my server, it can easily take 20 minutes to find a group as DPS. As a tank, it's less than 10 seconds. (I assume it's similar for healers)
This has led more & more DPS people to play off-spec in an obvious attempt to get into runs more quickly. Fortunately, I have not seen any tanks port in and ask "who's the tank", like some have, but it's clear that many tanks & healers are second rate.
This includes me. (more on this later)
(and DPS? well, we're still the same lot of folks you had before, only with the best & brightest/geared-est of us moved on. ...durp durp..)
Per espempio....
I joined an LFG PuG that tried to run Utgarde Keep (UK). We wiped once just before the enslaved proto-drake area, TWICE in the protodrake area, (we killed the boss) and then wiped on the stairs leaving the level. TWICE.
The tank was a Blood Spec DK with a 4,200 gear score. (I mention GS, simply to give a sense of the group's gear) We had me at 4,000 GS, a hunter at 3,900, a 4,900 Warrior and Priest healer at 4,000-ish (don't remember exactly) So, we were NOT undergeared, by ANY stretch of the imagination.
Per my learnings from last weeks "5 things your PuG DPS (DK tank) want you to know", (see my second to last post) I make sure to give the DK Tank a few seconds to get aggro. (which lets me watch him "settle" into a spot, and let me circle behind) And then I start wacking.
I have to keep stepping back out of combat, hitting "Hand of Salvation" (aggro dump) and overall, just throttling the hell out of my DPS. EVEN when I ensure that I am attacking the target that the tank marked. (which he actually did a couple times) Mind you, I wasn't heavily buffed, and I was only doing ~2,500 DPS on any single mob.
After the second wipe, I put on my tank gear (still stayed Ret/DPS spec) Even at the lowered DPS (1,100 -1,600) I still managed to pull aggro a couple times. The best news was that I needed less healing, so the healer could focus more on the tank, etc etc.
The third wipe, I just lost focus, and when I noticed my health drop quickly, I bubbled and healed, only THEN did I realize that everyone else had already died. If I had been paying better attention, I would have tried running to at least save some gold.
The fourth wipe, the tank died, followed REALLY quickly they mobbed me and BOOM dead, even before the healer could help. Also, I had hit my Avenging Wrath key (not intentional) a minute or so earlier, which put my bubble on Forbearance (unable to use) so I died. (also, I had needed to Lay on Hands earlier, so it was on CD as well)
I then died a 5th time running back through the proto-drake area, because one of the mobs managed to aggro on me. The tank didn't want to clear the Drake room, so we had left a drake on either side and, evidently, I didn't stay far enough away, got aggro and died.
*leave group*
I had another equally fail group that got so bad that the tank left(again a DK that kept losing aggro) followed by the healer. And 3 DPS waiting for group in LFG, in a dungeon is going to be a looong wait. (we waited for 5 minutes - then *leave group*)
Katt had one group, with a tank & heal team (they were guildies) and the left group right after they killed the first boss in one instance. I guess they got whatever loot they wanted and bolted. I've not seen that behavior yet, so I can be thankful...
On the GOOD side, we had a couple REALLY competant groups run, including a Tank that ran us through Stratholme, and started off by asking "are we going for drakes of zombies?" Thanks to his work, Katt has a Bronze Drake. :)
Now about *my* sojourn into tanking...
I have a couple good pieces, and a few so-so pieces. My GS is 3,200, which is well above the recommended Heroic level (which is stated to be ~2,500 or so) However my n00b debuff is strong, so I did NOT go "random LFG PuG". I know the Violet Hold (VH) fights reasonably well, so I simply looked for group for THAT.
And even though I had a specific dungeon request, I *still* had a nearly instant invite.
So where did the n00b-fest start? Let's see...
Crusader Aura on? - check (makes faster mounted speed, not a combat spell)
Righteous Fury off? - check (increases my aggro - THE tanking spell)
Blessing of Sanctuary off? - check (THE tanking blessing)
Did I start the fight? - nope
Inadvertantly screw up my action bars because I lef them unlocked? - check
However, even though I *DID* get heckled a bit by a rogue (he had the time to create the macro that said: "Balthazario's business as usual") we finished the instance without anyone dying, and with only mild face chewing on the DPS folks. When I thanked the group for dealing with my n00bishness, the healer said "you did fine", which helped my bruised ego a tad...
So yeah, Tankfail is NOT limited to the folks on the other end of the network connection. (oh, and after running Vh the first time, I switched specs and ran Forge of Souls. But I left Righteous Fury on, and still had my tank gear equipped. Oops)
My next two runs through there (one regular, one heroic) both went much better.
Once I learn other instances better, I'll try tanking them as well. (Stratholme is my next likely target, followed by Nexus)
So, even if I can only run a couple instances this way, and even though I lose 2 "free" triumph badges (you only get the 2 extra if you use random) I can still earn badges faster this way. Mainly because I can run/tank 2 entire instances in the time it takes for me to simply queue for one on DPS.
So, while the loss of expertise, gear and skill of tanks & healers is frustrating to me as a DPS, I COMPLETELY understand why it happens.
I just wish they weren't such COMPLETE failures, so much of the time.
EDIT - yeah, blogspot is acting up and not seeing my carriage returns, so you're stuck with periods for paragraph breaks. *sad furlbog*

Sunday, December 27, 2009 la la...

Not Much WoW-ish to talk about, but wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays. Even if it's just a Festivus Pole in your living room.

Kattastrophe did a neat year-end wrap up about where we've been, a bunch of her (and our) accomplishments.

One note:If you look at her link in my blogroll, it does not have the "www." in the link, BUUUUT, if you click on the link, it auto-inserts www. FRAK.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wheels in the Sky, and Mountains Too!

I've been mulling a couple posts "in process", and they're all a bit grim/frustrated, so considering the season, they will likely never see the light of day, so here are a couple random bits:

Go see Avatar, if for no other reason than to get to see Zangarmarsh & Nagrand "for real". Somebody on James Cameron's design team HAS to be a Wow player... (as a movie/plot snob, I give the movie an 8 (as if you care) - But Kattastrophe gave it a 10+)

I learned something that I had "rubbed up against", but never really put together: right before a fight/pull, target your tank. As he runs in, hit "F". So simple, so helpful. (it makes you target the same mob as the tank)

Even though I getting better, I still end up taking a stupid number of dirt naps.(yes, even using the "F" tip I mentioned above) Some of them are the result of less than ideal tanking, but many are still me standing in the stupid. (not necessarily fire/voids, I'm actually ok avoiding that, it's just other stupid shit)

A red flashing screen (when you have Omen) is bad, m-kay? Learning this (I asked a guildie the other night) and the "F" bit have definitely been helpful, and have reduced my time spent sniffing pavement, but haven't stopped it.

I need to assign Hand of Salvation to a hotkey.

One other observation, that relates to my dirt naps: even with time time spent face down, I am usually at the top for both damage and DPS. Even when in groups with folks 500-1,000 gear score higher. I've had one Warlock, and one Ele Shammie beat me out, but that's all I recall. And I'm still doing this while I'm either: a) throttling my DPS down to lose aggro and b) standing there confused because [tab] won't target and I'm struggling to click on one c) too focused on my rotation and didn't notice that the tank pulled the mobs away from me. (doh)

I wanted to thank Amber (Forthebubbles)for posting the meme-du-jour: "5 Things you PUG [insert class] wants you to know" and posting the links for Tank, DPS, Mage and DK. I learned a LOT reading these posts, as well as the comments below. THANK YOU!!!!!

Oh, and I had never thought about the fact that Prot Warriors needed to chain pull to keep rage. It's very nice to know. It doesn't make uber-fast chain pulls less annoying, but it's nice to know there's a legit reason for it :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Like my Naan with Pickles and Tamarind

Ok, so that's not a song title in my post title, but hey, we all have limitations. There MAY be a song with tamarind ni the title, but I seriously doubt it. (though if there is, I MUST see any video for it. I love Bollywood! lol)

So, what's it all about, eh?

Over on Righteous Orbs, dear Tam(arind) proposed the following:

It’s basically a blog-content gift exchange (and it really needs a catchier title), and here’s how it works. If you’d like to play, leave me a comment and in return I’ll give you a subject, or ask you a question … and then you go away and blog about it.

And lo, I said COUNT ME IN!

I also sent Tam a quick email with a suggested topic for HIM to address. (more on this later)

So, being the spanner that I am, I waited for a return email... (turns out he posted a reply right below my "count me in" comment)

My Topic De Jour?

Okay, here’s my topic for you, taking advantage of your unique perspective at the end of the levelling game, beginning of end game: what do players immersed in endgame forget. I’m going to leave that deliberately broad to allow you to interpret in whatever direction you like – to remind of us lost pleasures or condemn us for disconnection.

So... what would I like the more experienced players to remember?

Basically it comes down to to one thing: remember your confusion. (though the confusion may have been less for folks that levelled up inside a large guild)

So, please remember your confusion about...

- the alphabet soup seen everywhere in /2 trade, lfg and everywhere else. "lf2m dps gs4600 HTOGC abcd eieio."


Um, wha...?

- Learning to play as a raider, instead of levelling, often solo. Spell rotation, abilities, tactics and even equipment needs are significantly different for the levelling player than they are for a raider. Even if a player DID know exactly what the "ideal" specs are for a level 80 raider, I guarantee that an educated solo radier will spec/equip differently. Especially for DPS and healy classes.

Healers will likely opt for for damage producing gear and more survival/duarbility, and DPS players may often look for more armor and more health than is "correct" for end game raiding. The more solo (aka "isolated") a player is, the more likley everything about their gear and playestyle will be homebrewed and the fursther from "ideal" it will be.

- Complete noobishness about the various dungeons & fights. I hinted about this in my last post, but the HUGE number of Lich King raids, combined with 3-5 bosses for each, means there are nearly 70+ fights HEROIC/10/25 man to learn. ( INSTANCES BY LEVEL on wowwiki)

I would hazard to guess that a significant portion of players are not running a lot of instances as they level. So not only are they new to the whole raid environment (ie, very specialized roles) but they/we are COMPLETELY lost our first coule times into each and every fight.

- Respect the crafted items. If we jut hit 80, we likely put a TON of effort into levelling up one skill or another to help us out in late game. Especially blacsksmiths, leatherworkers and tailors (for plate/mail, leather & clothie wearers respectively) Yes, they may only be crafted blues, but if the are 400-450 skill items, they are the result of a lot of effort. We're damned proud of them! :)

- going in to your first raid or pug,proud of the equipment you had, because of all the effort it took to get, but also shame at the same time about that exact same equipment, because you know full well that what you have, is so completely and utterly below whateveryone else in your group/raid/whatever has. An odd feeling, that.

Other more random things... do you remember...

- what it's like to blunder around in pretty much ANY place in old Azeroth, 2-3 shotting everything, just because you can? No matter what level you were at the time, your first steps into a new zone were always terrifying and awesome. The mosters were SO nasty and aggroed if you even looked at them! Now, being able to revisit these places without a worry, because you won't aggro anything and anything you decide to harass, will die in a handful of sceconds. The feeling of "I HAVE ARRIVED" is such a bubbly warm satsifying feeling.

- going into your bank, and looking at the odds & ends you've collectted through the levels. Some are probably quest items that didn't get turned in, or were left over after the quest ended... or maybe you've got a few mementos of tough, challenging or rewarding quests or challenges. They now collect errant electrons, taking up valuable slots, but theystill mean something.

And last but not least is what, in my most humblest opinion is the biggest feeling/thing to try to recall:

HOLY SHIT!!! NOW WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I think many of us actually enjoyed the levelling process, and hitting max level pulled the rug out from under you. Yes, there's raiding, but that's still "yet to come". As of the moment you hit 80, you are DONE!

Satisfaction, uneasiness and a sense of directionlessness seem to be (for me) the complicated stew of emotions that I experienced.

So, dear Tamarind, I hope this answered your question (albeit it in a long winded fashion).

It's been a long road, and the prospect of raiding (and gear harvesting) has become the new obsession, but I have to admit, I get restless hearing about the upcoming cataclysm, because I look forward to more interesting quests, the "oh shit what now" feeling of levelling up.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Farmer in the Dell (Heroic)

3.3 is now live along with the new LFG function, and bloggers worldwide rejoice: a spicey, new topic, fresh off the Blizzard Grill!


And yes, this is a bandwagon I will happily jump on!

I don't know HOW many Heroics I have run, but it's been a bunch. I've managed to purchase one T9 (tier 9) piece; Turalyon's Gauntlets of Conquest.

If you're following with any interest, between the above purchase, and a few decent drops, my GS (per is up to 1710.

(sorry about the fuzzy pic, Blogspot now "enhances" my embedded pics - click to see a clearer version)
Or, if you're more familiar with the Add-on scale, my GS is about 3,300.
My performance is.... well.... adequate.
I *DID* have one fight where I hit 4,000 DPS. I can't even remember which Heroic it was in, but I was accounting for ~40% of the total PuG party DPS. (I think I averaged about 3,000, and the next highest was averaging about 1,600)
BUT, (again, lest good performance go to my head) I've had some fights (the several attempts at Malygos come to mind) where I'm still doing only 1,600. Ick.
So, it's with a huge dose of Sad Furlbog® that I read in some other blogs (Righteous Orbs) that there are newly dinged 80s, in quest greens & blues that are pulling down ~2k. (a n00bcow in this case)
So, enough about my "oobur leet geer"...
Overall, I really can't complain about the new LFG tool. On my battlegroup, it's not uncommon to wait 5-10 minutes if I go in as a solo DPS. If it's later at night, I have waited for 20 minutes or longer.
A funny anecdote about this. A guildie joins group with me (his main spec is DPS shammie) We sat in LFG for at least 10 minutes. He /p's "Watch this", and re-enters us into LFG, this time with him as healer. As soon as I click "accept", we get the invite. I mean literally within a second or less. Healers are always in demand. DPS? Not so much...

Anyhow, overall I'm pretty happy with the results and the experience. Here are a few observations and some circumstances that stick out.
- Overall, the LFG *DOES* seem to take relative gear levels into account when creating a group and selecting the instance to put them in. I ran Nexus a bunch when it first started. Since, getting better gear, I've only been there once.
- Halls of Lightening (HoL) is a bit tough, especially the second to last boss (Ionar) - those damnable crawling bits of electricity. The first time, Deadly Boss Mods (an add-on that gives on-screen prompts about the next type of attack) would give a warning, then -
*nothing* and then MANY seconds later, I would find myself struggling to outrun the damnable balls of electric hell. I have since gotten better about avoiding them, but for a n00b, new to the fight, they were a MAJOR bitch. Loken was a breeze in comparison.
- As SO many folks have said - the PuGs are are amazingly quiet. If it's a run that's new to me, I will usually follow for a trash fight or two to establish my DPS vs the group (and I'm usually mid pack) and THEN I'll ask "so, this is my first run through here... anything I need to know?" That will usually get a response, mostly "don't worry, just kill stuff." I have yet to be kicked from a group.
- The other big comment of other bloggers (and I've commented about this even BEFORE 3.3) was how fast everyone runs through the instances. Only now, after 7 or 8 runs, can I say I know what to do, where to do it and how each fight goes. I had actually watched vids about Nexus, so even before I went in, I had SOME idea, but that was because I knew that was a "beginner Heroic", and that's where I spent my LFG time.
One note regarding this last comment: with the random dungeon/raid aspect, it's impossible to know where you will be going. This means it is impossible to read up, watch a vid or two, and try to know what's up before going in. This creates a double ding against the new guys:
1 - They are new. Their gear is "sub par" and since they JUST dinged 80, they won't be really familiar with all their abilities & spells. Ergo the reason they/we are called n00bs.
2 - They can't possibly read up no all the possible raids they can go in. You
can't simply read the tactics on 5-10 instances and expect to be able to
retain any usable information. It ain't gonna happen. Hell, I've probably
actually GONE through several of them, and I have a hard time keeping
everything straight.
So, not only are you the scrub new guy, your performance will be below simply because of gear, AND you're going in essentially blind with (often) a group of people that don't communicate, give pointers and probably don't want you there. Not very fun.
That being said, I have yet to see any open hostility (as some bloggers have ) to anyone simply because their gear is poor. Hell, nobody has even mentioned GS in any of the PuGs I've been in. I've been in a group or two that were simply doomed because of being under geared. (ie, a healer can't expect to heal HoL if he/she is in greens, ESPECIALLY if the tank and one or two DPS are also on the blue/green side.
But, I've also been the tail end charlie in a couple WAY over geared groups where even the healer has given me a run for the money in DPS. (which is quite humiliating, I might add) There was one run through Nexus that took all of 7 minutes or so, and it seemed like the healer didn't have to heal anyone except for me.
One last raid of note - Kattastrophe & I enter LFG with both of us as DPS (her new preference) We get teamed up with a group of other low/medium geared folks in Culling of Strathlome.
One note before I go further - I have tried tanking. I suck at it, and I realize it isn't easy. That being said, you can't out-gear the stupid debuff, if it's bad enough.
For us, the tank kept running around playing with the trash undead, and kept ignoring the "real" trash, that are too difficult for a non-tank to stand toe-to-toe with. Even with a pretty well geared priest healer.
The tank just would NOT pull the "big" guys.
So, after the second wipe against the trash, the healer bails, and we start to vote to kick the tank. He actually leaves before we can, so in an attempt to stave disaster, I switch specs and gear and get ready to at least TRY tanking.
We manage to get another tank & healer;
The healer is nowhere near as good as the previous, but he/she is adequate.
The tank is still less than ideal, but he at least knows what he SHOULD be doing, even if he does keep losing aggro.
Fortunately, I hadn't changed back to my DPS spec/gear, so I just do my best to play the off tank (and still not doing all that well at it) but between us, we manage to get to the end, WITH Arthas alive (during that escort section, I focused on keeping aggro off him, and bubbling him as necessary), and take down the final boss.
But seriously, that raid shouldn't be that tough.
That was one fail PuG we had, and then we had another that fell apart (lost the doofus tank) even before the first trash mob was cleared. (I again switched over and tried tanking, but with a healer in greens & blues - it was destination: fail)
Overall, I'll give the new LFG system a 4/5. Along with the relatively fast emblem acquisition, there's also the opportunity to tabard your way to a boatload of reputation.
My only complaint is that the patch failed to address was fixing the jousting. I don't mind that the AI can be tough and smart, but these piss me off to no end:
- AI that can shield break and charge WAY closer than I am able to.
- AI that always seems to be on the winning side of any latency. I can go from 3 shields to zero in about 3 seconds, after 1 shield break and some melee. (and my shield timer was still over 30 seconds)
- AI that refuses to stay ANYWHERE near the field of play, opting instead to go out of bounds, forcing me to either follow (and DQ) or stay in bounds and be shield broken to death (with an occasional charge thrown in for good measure) And even if they don't go out of bounds, they seem to take evil delight getting me stuck on tent poles, fences, torches or any other obstacles.
Seriously, I could handle tougher AI (more health? smarter?) if only they would play by the same set of rules that I'm bound to play by.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey, Dirt? Hello, it's Me... Balthazario

Um, yeah... see the boss kill achievement? Yup... I helped... by dirt napping.... It was a PuG 4-man of Drak Theron (I'd never done it before) and the other 3 folks were all from the same guild, and all were significantly better geared than I.

Even dead, I still put up reasonable damage (and DPS) though the Destro lock was just killer (literally - she's the one that went for the ride on the Rhino's horn I mentioned a couple posts ag0 - lol)

Um, yeah... Here I am contributing again....

And again...

Though, to be fair, LAST night I was actually a contributing member of a 5 - man (Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle)

2,800 DPS and top of the damage list? Oh yeah....

And a FIRST!!!! I broke 3k DPS and still managed to top the chart. (the # 2 was a DK that was geared similar to me) WooHoo!!!

Lest you think it went to my head... yeah, I had several fights at/below the 1,200 mark. The lowest on the list was a guy REALLY doing well considering his gear.

(*note to self* - performance isn't helped when food buff & strength potions wear off, and I don't re-apply them :P )

I've been slowly buying (with tokens and from crafters) some better items, collecting a couple decent drops and really working on gemming and enchanting stuff.
And trying to focus on the fight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's Going On - What's a RetPals' Role?

Thanks to Tamarind at Righteous Orbs I have a couple topics to ramble on about...

This first one is a follow-on to my diatribe yesterday about how raids can be an "omgwtfbbq!" experience for me. Some of it may be due to the lack of good play by others, but much of it is my own fault. But, before I go into my failings, party failings and "bangin & blaming" anyone, let's take a step back.

What are the "core" abilities of a Ret Paladin?

- DPS (though 2 equally geared/skilled DPSers, a Ret and say Mage, Lock or Rogue, and the Ret will probably be 5-10% lower in DPS/damage)
- Buffs - Blessings of Kings, Wisdom, and Might.
- Survivability - We're plate wearers and can self heal
- Raid/"Oh Shit" healing - We may not cast quickly, but 7k+ heals can get the Tank (or anyone else) through a rough spot
- Cleansing - We have some of the fastest, most thorough debuff removers in the game
- Taunt/Righteous Defense/Repentance -We can pull Aggro off clothies and (hopefully) survive until the situation is "fixed"

Now, in 10 man (and even moreso in a 25 man) raid, there are dedicated raid healers, and off tanks to help deal with many of the smaller oh shit moments. The flexibility of the Ret might not be as helpful.

But, in a 5 man, (which is all I've done so far) it seems to me that each player has to be on their toes a bit more. I know it's a *bit* of a joke, but the roles in raids, 5 man especially, seem to be as follows:

Tank - don't let the healer die
Healer - don't let the tank die
DPS - don't let yourself die and STAY OUT OF THE FIRE! Oh, and kill the bad guys.

Now, because this smaller player pool, having the Healer taking care of the Tank AND doing raid heal can be a problem. Mana, cast time, damage spikes and such can make it difficult for them to raid heal. Let alone do cleanses, etc (if they even can)

And with Pallies being as "self sufficient" as we are, this *can* be a help because the healer can (should?) be able to focus elsewhere. The hybrid aspect of Pallies is there to work well in multi-functional roles.

That being said...

During a recent run through 5 man ToC Heroic, we had a Tree healer that wasn't really doing that much healing. While eating after one of several wipes I glanced at the healing page of Recount. During the previous fight/wipe, I had roughly 75,000 healing, and the Tree had about 200,000. THAT is truly a failure of the healer (one of our guildies mentioned that the guy had ToC 25 man gear, so gear wasn't the issue). But that much of a failure is rarely the case.

So, now to my "opportunities" as a player...

I am bona-fide A.D.D. I was diagnosed way back in the mid 70's, WAY before it became the trendy thing. One of the things that ADD-folks (me) do to compensate for being easily distracted is to hyper focus. We have learned to focus VERY intently on something, so that we can avoid the temptation of the other distractions. The world can fall down around us, but we won't notice. The only problem is that, well, I'm focusing on one thing. (ok, maybe 2 or RARELY 3) This means that I will NOT be able to:

- maintain rotation - (watch the bars light up and do the FCFS thing)
- watch the aggro meter
- watch my own health
- make sure my target hasn't run away
- make sure I'm always targeting something (the [tab] key doesn't always work)
- keep an eye for any debuffs *I* may have
- watch deadly boss mods for phase thingies
- watch the chat window for instructions
- make sure I'm not standing in the fire

Let alone watch the rest of the group.

This isn't a problem that Ret Pals face alone. EVERY player has a similarly long list of things to watch/take care of. And when you list it all out like this, AND see someone doing it well, you get one of those "holy SHIT that's awesome!!" moments.

Now, learning to scan the screen, to keep intent, partly focused and such is a learned skill. And I *am* making progress. My biggest bugaboo is that I sit and stare at the cooldowns on my action bars, and not watch the rest of the screen enough. (*blush* or at all)

Driving is a good analogy:

-Watch the road
-Check left side mirror
-Watch the road
-Check gauges/speed
-Watch the road
-Check rear mirror
-Watch the road
-Check right side mirror

etc, etc

I just need to incorporate the same scanning/awareness in WoW.

Could having a better UI help? Most likely, but that's a topic for a different day... ;)

EDIT - I forgot to actually discuss how this all applies to my rotation/jobs that I mentioned in my post yesterday.

A significant part of those issues/crises are "helped" by the fact that I don't see thing happen early enough. "Better late than never" applies, but "early Bird gets the worm" or, um, "doesn't get waxxed", may be more appropriate. Being "in the moment" and reacting to things as they happen, not AFTER they happen can make a HUGE difference:

- watching the Aggro meter can help PREVENT the boss from chewing on my face
- watching the fight (and not my cool-downs/action bars) will help me stay ON the target, and not lose it
- watch the fight so that I can AVOID the fire, instead of seeing/hearing the low health warning after I've been standing there for 5 seconds, THEN running away, THEN having to heal

As for the Healer getting eaten, well, during the Black Knight fight, the undead spawn phase, there's not much a healer can do to avoid the ADDs. They just spawn and chase him/her down.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Helter Skelter, and this is FaceRolling?

When I'm in a group, and we're starting a Boss fight, my cast order looks like the following:

- Sacred Shield
- Avenging Wrath
- Judgement (wisdom) as I run into the fray - range = 10 yards
- Crusader strike
- Divine Storm
- Exorcism (if AoW procced, if not, skip)
- Consecration
- Crusader Strike
- Judgement
- Divine Plea
Bascially running down "FCFS" (first come first serve) using my action bar as shown above. If two spells are available, use the one to the left. (again, as viewed on my action bar)
For the occasional Boss, this is the entire fight, and it's pretty easy. (ie, a "faceroll")
But, that is pretty rare. Usually it looks/sounds more like:
- Sacred Shield
- Avenging Wrath
- Judgement (wisdom) as I run into the fray - range = 10 yards
- Crusader strike
- Divine Storm
- Exorcism (if AoW procced, if not, skip)
- Consecration
- Crusader Strike
-Run over to the boss
-get into rotation
-run out of the fire
-Hand of Salvation
-Righteous Defense
-back to rotation
-Lay on Hands
-Run back to Boss
-Restart Rotation
-Divine Plea
-back to rotation
THAT is more "the norm" for the raid Boss fights I've been in. And in PvP, it's even more complicated.
I sit & watch range DPS do their pew-pew, and the healers clicking on Healbot, whilest I'm foundering around trying to do 3, 4 or more things in different directions, while still trying to "do my job" (DPS)
All the while, I read "Retpal = faceroll" and I get pissed.
And to make things worse (and my fault - no blame here) I don't have Vent, so I *should* be reading the battle text.
Except there's no frikkin way I can.
During a lul in a recent ToC fight, I noticed the phrase "Well, have Balth bubble you". I have no clue when that was typed or who I was supposed to bubble (or with which bubble, we have 3)
Sorry for the rant... and maybe it's just because I'm still pretty dang new to all out, balls-to-the-wall fights, but calling this class "super easy" is just mid boggling.
EDIT - drat... formatting is all cattywompus again, so I had to use periods to separate the paragraphs

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shake it UP, Cuz this is Learning!

In a recent post, I mentioned that some interesting DPS things happened in my run through Violet Hold. The interesting part is due to the picture above. Those that recognize the website I captured it from may groan, but I plan on using the info above as a learning tool, and I may possibly show how it CAN be useful.

For those that don’t recognize the picture above, it’s a screen cap of a character comparison from the website The reason for the possible (likely?) groans is that the main use for that website is to review a character’s “Gear Score” or “GS”, and there has been a recent trend (in both PUGs and Guilds) to focus a bit too much on this number. All it is, is a means to get a VERY rough idea how well geared someone is. It says nothing about how appropriate the gear is, or how skilled the player is. It just says how “powerful” all the gear is. I could gear my pally in all iLevel 200 cloth, caster gear, and I could get my GS to be as high as I want. I would be an EPIC FAIL if I played with that gear, but I could “easily” get a high score that way.

Anyhow, back to my point, and the commentary about my raid into Violet Hold.

During the raid, the other melee DPS player was a Fury Warrior (who happened to be a REALY nice guy to play with). At the start of the raid, we were both running about 1,400 DPS for each fight. As the raid progressed, and we both “got into the grove” we both made it into the low/mid 1,700 range. He was slightly ahead. (I didn’t screen cap, but the numbers I recall are me – 1,720 and him – 1,740) Also, he was doing a bit better in getting into the fights faster, because his overall damage was a bit higher than the slightly higher DPS would cause.


I know I was paying a fair bit of attention to Recount (my DPS meter) though this was mainly to try to make sure I was “doing ok”. And yeah, a bit of a competitive blood stirred. So I was a *little* disappointed that he out DPSes and out DMGed me, even though the numbers were pretty darned close.

After the fight, I decided to see if he had worse gear than me. After all, it would be a competitive blow to be out done by someone who wasn’t even geared as well as I was.

Such was not the case.

If you look at the numbers listed in the picture at the top (click to see large version), you’ll notice his score was roughly 2,100, and mine is roughly 1,100.


Also important is the fact that the gear that shows up here is my tank gear. (I must have been in Wintegrasp doing PvP prior to the data up/download, because I wear my tank gear to PvP. It just lets me live a bit longer…)

My original thought was that my DPS gear would be similar in score, so I just went with it.

And here comes the learning part: evidently I was doing at least reasonably well, because I was performing pretty much the same as a guy in a very similar class (melee DPS) and I had significantly “lesser” gear.

He had clearly put moderately good enchants on all his items, way more than I had (though he was missing one gem for an empty slot) and even though some of his gear was “tanky” (more stamina/defense as opposed to strength/hit) it was still pretty dang good. (and heck, some of *MY* “DPS” gear was also tanky)

A couple days later, I FINALLY remembered to make sure I logged off with my DPS gear equipped and was a bit surprised to find that my DPS gear was worse than my tank gear. By a LOT. My GS for my DPS gear was less than 850.

So what does all this numbery mumbo jumbo mean? Well here are a few general take-aways…

1 – A higher GS does NOT equate to better numbers. It can certainly help, but on its own, it means little.

2 – Focus your gear, as much as possible, on what your particular class/spec needs. Obviously, gearing yourself during leveling/questing is far different from the specialization that occurs during raids.

3 – Know how to play your class to the best of your abilities. There’s no need to obsess, but knowing more never hurts…

4 – Pay attention during the battles. As I mentioned, our DPS was pretty close, but overall damage was distinctly in the other guy’s favor. Why? Because he was getting into the fight a bit faster, he was staying on target more (like when one dies, he got his next target faster) Overall, he just did better.

5 – Damage Done will nearly always be the more important number, since it’s total damage that kills the bad guys. The bosses don’t simply keel over if the RATE of damage (DPS) gets to a certain point, they keep going until ALL their hp are gone.

6 – I may have obsessed more over the details of playing/gearing a ret pal, and I have probably read EJ more and practiced my rotation more, but if you look at the Damage:DPS ratio, it’s clear that he did better. Player focus during a fight and experience during a fight will almost always do better, even if everything else isn’t exactly optimal.

Pictured below is my latest gear set for my DPS spec. It’s now 1072! That’s up over 200 points from a few days ago, and the gear is getting more focused on what I need. (click to enlarge, if you’re so inclined)

As for the near future, based on my recent fights as well as some test dummy info I need the following:

1 – Get my 2 handed mace skill up to 400. It’s at 389 right now, and during my fights, I still see a number of “glancing blows”. That’s 11 “free” skill points. It may not prevent misses and glancing blows, but against a Boss, every bit helps. I may switch weapon types later, but I can worry about “topping” that skill off later.

2 – Increase my “Hit” score. On the test dummy and in battle I have a fair number of misses. Increasing my hit will help. As the screen cap below shows, my hit is a bit low. It’s about 200, and should be closer to the “max” of 263. (known as the “soft cap”, and prevents melee misses)

3 – Increase my Crit. For my Pally, Exorcism accounts for 8-12% of my total damage. The problem is that it’s only an useful attack if another attack crits (which procs Art of War, aka AoW) Even with my old 2H axe (Axe of Frozen Death ) , I would have the occasional situation where Exorcism would be ready to cast, but AoW wasn’t active. And this is a weapon that has 43 crit points. When using my new 2H mace (Titansteel Destroyer ) which has zero crit, I find that AoW is ready only 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Since I don’t always notice that AoW isn’t ready, I will sit there casting, which wastes 1.5 seconds, which slows my attacks, etc, etc, etc… Now, the fact that my weapon skill for the mace isn’t maximized will also affect this.

4 – L2p. (learn to play) As I mentioned above, my raid experience, focus and such aren’t ideal. Unfortunately this isn’t something that can be gemmed for: you can’t gem against stupid. BUT, I can do as many raids as I can to remove this debuff lol.

5 - Work on better gear. Even though I've got my GS up a fair amount, looking at my list of gear, it's pretty obvious I still have a few green pieces there. That's not exactly conducive to better performance.

Ah well.... it's all good and getting better. :)


I am currently using the crafted purple chest piece: Bulwark of the Ancient Kings LINK with 3 gems:

Etched Ametrine (10 str & 10 Hit)
Rigid Autumn's Glow (16 hit)
Bold Cardinal Ruby (20 Str)

This gives a final "as used" stats of:

1825 armor
+70 str
+56 sta
+51 hit
+41 crit

PLUS - "on use" I get 1,500 extra health and 150 extra strength

My other DPS chest is Breastplate of Undeath LINK which has:

2166 armor
+80 str
+112 Agi
+75 sta
+45 hit

The gains in Str, Sta & armor are (to me) pretty small (and I'm now over my hit cap, so I could swap out the Etched Ametrine for another bold ruby) so that it's nearly a wash... The AGI (works out to 2.15% crit) is more problematic

BUT, that extra strength and health has become a VERY nice thing to have in Boss fights.

*sigh* If I got a chest piece that was equivalent to the Undeath one WITH gem slots, it would be a no-brainer. But I'm having a hard time giving it up... "Bulwark... I can't quit you..."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Money for "Nothing", and your Greed for Free

Everyon knows the SOP for loot rules in non-DKP (Dragon Kill Point ) informal raids:

Need - for main spec
Greed - for everything else

And it works. Mostly. There's one small addition I'd like to see roll order be:

- Need - main spec
- If noone rolled need - off-specs can roll need
- Greed to sell

I've been in a couple raids that allowed this, and I think it's neat. But because the "uninterested" folks (ie, the ones not rolling need) are potentially losing out on vendoring (or sharding or possibly auctioning) the items, I think some compensation should be "encouraged".

SO I have a proposal:

1 - Need for your main spec
2 - If noone rolls need, then the option to roll for off-spec
BUT - if you win, you should give each member a portion of the potential gold they lost. I think most blue & purple items vendor for 10-15 gold, I think it would be reasonable to require the "off spec Needer" to pay each raid member 5 gold. (for a 5 man raid)

This ensures a couple things:

1 - I honestly think that gearing everyone's off-spec is a more worthwhile goal, than simply getting lots of "useless" items vendored.
2 - Since each person is getting real gold for each of these (and slighlty above vendor price, divvied up) I think it potentially works BETTER for everyone.
3 - If you ensure that the "cost" for the person to buy the off spec piece is worth more than the vendor, you can help ensure that it is actually used for gearing.

The only downside I can see would be for enchanters which would lose out on the possibility of gaining an item to DE. (disenchant) Although, thinking about it, maybe they could "pay for the need"...

OK, maybe this would be better:

1 - Need for main spec - just click and roll
2 - "Need for a Fee" - if no one rolled for their main spec, then ANYONE can roll need, BUT, if they win, they MUST pay each of the other raiders 5 gold.
3 - Greed for the rest

Hmmm.. that could actually work. EVERYONE can make out.

- Main specs get the chance to gear up.
- Off spec get the chance to gear up, for a modest fee
- Enchanters can get "high value" DE items at reasonable cost
- Everyone else gets hard cash, ideally more than the vendor value, so they make out.

It's a lot simpler than some of the "Gold DKP" runs I've seen mentioned (at Spinksville) which I think are neat ideas in their own right. It *should* benefit everyone in getting gold (possibly extra gold?), and should still let everyone gear up ASAP.

What do you think?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You Often Get What You Greed

After Dinging 80 last week, I had some time to run around and try to run a couple raids and whatnot. Needless to say, it’s been a bit of an eye opening experience.

First was an attempt at ToC, 5 man heroic.

A really well geared guildie tried to help us out, but since this is a tough fight for even moderately geared 80’s and we had us two n00bs, and a couple “so-so" geared others, it was a lost cause. We went home with our tails between our legs.

We then did the herioc run though Nexus.

And here I emphasize RUN through. Our Tank & a DK DPS were both pretty well geared, and pretty familiar with the fight. We had Kattastrophe healing with her Shammy, and a Shadow Priest helping with DPS. (The Priest was the friend of a friend, the DK was a guildie, and the Tank was a PuG)

During the raid, Katt & the Priest were struggling to keep mana’d up between fights. As soon as one was completed, the Tank & DK were already pulling the next group.

This didn’t really hurt until we ran into Grand Magus Telestra. Me, Katt & the Priest got worked and had to run back. I’m still not sure if the DK & tank died or not (I think the DK survived to fight all by himself)

Needless to say, Katt was livid, since the semi-wipe would have been avoided if mana hadn’t been an issue.

The good news is that the rest of the run went off without a hitch. I didn’t get any gear worth remembering.

Then we went on to run 5 man ToC, normal.

We ran this in a PuG, and it went pretty well. I was killed once, I think, but we did OK. I got the Helm of the Violent Fray . A pretty good run, and some lootz! (I also ran it a second time some time later. No loot, but at least I'm learning the fight)

My next to last run was Heroic Violet Hold.

We did this with me, Kattastrophe, a tank we knew, a DPS warrior that Katt knew, and his wife, the Priest I mentioned above. I really enjoyed running with these guys!

We forgot to set it to heroic when we started so we had to exit and re-enter, but other than that it went really well. I even got the best piece of plate loot in the place! (a tank piece; Bolstered Legplates )

Some interesting DPS info, that I’ll discuss in a later post (I hope)

Last we ran Culling of Stratholme, heroic. (same group as last time)

This was neat on a BUNCH of levels. It was a longer one, and we got to meet Arthas! (and let him die a couple times muhahahah! Erm, booo…)

I’m not much into the lore of the game, mainly because so much of what happens is shown to us in small snippets here & there, completely disjoint and with no easy way to remember it. It doesn’t help that I barely ran any of the old world instances either. Here, however we got to see the events of the past in full recreating. VERY COOL!!!

We only had one issue; the tank DCed a few times and contributed to Arthas dieing a couple times. It wasn’t catastrophic, and he’s a really neat guy to play with, so no worries. :)

Oh, and I got one piece of loot: Legplates of Steel Implants. a decent piece of DPS plate.


So, I’ve finally dipped my feet into the deeeep water that is raiding, even if it’s only a toe. The longer instances are better, except that they’re so long! (hard to fit them into the life schedule) I can see why folks get a bit annoyed with running the various ToC iterations, over & over & over again. But hey, badges is badges, loot is loot, and and above all, learning to raid/play is paramount.

The quest for lootz continues…

Monday, November 30, 2009

I've Finally Made it to the House of Fun! It's Madness!

Yep, I dinged 80.

I did so on the pentultimate (I think) quest with Thorim (poor guy!)

And now comes the long slow progression for better gear. (or should I say grind?)

Yeah, maybe grind is a better word, since getting the gear necessitates a fair bit of grinding:

- for stone keeper shards
- for emblems (heroic, valiant, etc)
- more rep (Hodir, Oracles, etc)
- Argent tourney factions and emblems (btw, do all factions offer the same gear?)
- ToC
- ToC
- ToC
- other raids that I'm geared well enough for
- mats for crafting a couple more pieces of armor (1 titansteel bar per day - ick)

I know for a HUGE portion of WoW players, dinging 80 is the START of the game. Me? Well, let's say I'm a bit ambivalent about it. From an "achievement" point of view (the real meaning, not the little pop-ups you get in-game) I'm VERY happy I made it. It's been a loooong long road.

The downside? For the last couple months, WoW has been a LOT of grinding. Rep for Kurenai (for the mounts), rep for sporregar (for that shield, AND the pet) for the Netherwing (yep, more mounts) Now, it looks like I will have to do.... more grinding! And not just for cool mounts (that netherdrak is frikkin awesome!) but to get decent/good gear.

The good side? Katt & I have found a guild that seems to be a pretty close fit. We're still very much the outsiders, but seems really nice. We;ve run a few small raids with them, Pugs and friends and it seems fun. (does everybody treat a raid like it's a race?!?!? lol)

I've already started to collect (and gem & enchant) some better gear, though I have a LOOONG way to go to even be "adequate".

The majority of the dailies aren't too bad, since they're pretty quick, though a couple (Argent and Hodir) ones can be a bit slow. And the gold you get from doing them is pretty nice (I've been getting 200 gold an evening, including the profit from any items sold)

I'll post more of a sit-rep later, since this is getting a tad long...

One last topic before I wrap this up: the Thanksgiving quests.

I DID complete my mission impossible, though not without further incident. (NOT of the Horde kind). While hiding inside a Furlbog disguise is cool, it can also hide the fact that you are (or are not) in the proper Pilgrim outfit. Needless to say, it was after I finished stopping by all 4 Horde cities (and didn't get the achie) that I realized that I had been improperly garbed in 3 of them (DOH!)

I eventually got my Turkey (and my Title) in a pretty fun holiday celebration. *golf clap for Blizzard*

Oh, and I got a letter back from my Undercity killer. (she?) was VERY nice about it and even appologized. Evidently she had just gotten ganked herself and had the urge for payback. I responded back with a "not a prob, I *was* flagged after all. lol"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mission Impossible... Pilgrim's Peril

Our Hero

*Cue Music* LINKY

Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to infiltrate the four major Horde cities and sit at their thanksgiving table.

The chances of death and humiliation is extreme. Use all of your available assets.

As with most dangerous solo missions, disguise is key. In this instance we will use Dartol's Rod of Transformation

I'm a Furlbog!

Disguise: Check.

Look, I'm a Hordie!

Aggressive, spikey armor and growly "Hordish" Bear: Check. (I had to borrow 200 gold to buy the bear lol)

Here goes Nothing!

(note - entering the fortifications to get to the tables will flag you PvP)


uh, no it didn't....
(but I did get a chance to sit before I died! lol)

I actually logged off, logged in as a Hordie and sent a nice (if sad) note to my killer. I haven't checked yet to see if I got a response...

As of now, I am starting my own meme that IS a meme: no sad panda, just a sad furlbog.

So I trudged off to silvermoon (which doesn't get you flagged for going to the table)

Yes, I am actually sitting here, but the "camera" angle I chose, to best show Silvermoon, also happened to hide me behind the centerpiece...

A couple things of note:

  • I was able to get both the Ghostlands and Eversong Woods without incident. Well, I got flagged twice, but no deaths (on either side) resulted. Though a couple low level Hordies probably messed their shorts. (If the horde actually wore skivvies ;P )
  • I tried to get to Silvermoon by see. You can't. I went out to sea north of Brill, and I fiollowed the coast all the way North, East and South and the FIRST place you can re-enter the continent of the Eastern Kingdoms is EASTERN PLAGUELANDS!! meh. A waste of 10 minutes and a water walking potion.

Tonight I shall continue to on Thunder Bluff and Orgrimmar... stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Raid-eee-Days.... Food for Thought...

If you've been browsing wow forums and blogs for a while, even if you're nowhere near level 80, I'm sure you've heard much-a-doo about "Raid Food".

What is "Raid Food"?

It's food eaten by high level characters (level 70 and up) that provides more than just replenishing health. It takes 10 full seconds to be applied. The Fish Feast above is one of the more popular raid foods because it provides stamina (health), mana, attack power and spell power, which are usable for pretty much every player class and talent out there. It's high level, because you need to be a level 70 or higher to eat it. But clearly, it's a pretty awesome munchie, and the buff is it's own class ("well fed") and can exist in addition to spell buffs, blessings, potions scrolls and other effects.

Feasts are foods that feed more than one person: they usually feed an entire group or party.

But I'll let you in on a very poorly kept, but rarely acted upon, tidbit of info: "raid food" exists for all levels of players.

Take the food item below; Beer Basted Boar Ribs.

If you have taken up cooking, it's probably likely that you never bothered to make it, or if you did, did you notice that it provides a buff to stamina and spirit, as well as the normal health return? One other thing to note is that many "buff foods" require 2 separate ingredients to make, or require single, annoying to get, ingredients.

A full list of Buff foods is HERE, on It lists the foods, as well as the buffs you get from each, as well as the level needed to eat them.

So, not only can cooking help you out when you get to higher levels, but there are some clear benefits to "cooking well" and "eating well" as you level.

Bon apetit!

Raid for the Cure - a BLAST!

It alls tarted quietly enough, with us arriving
in Shadow Glen to a growing group of pink...

Lots of dancing and merriment

We could only guess what any brand new players must have thought as
we streamed through Dolanaar

"WE'RE ON A BOAT" ... uh, yep! lol

I got caught checking my mail, so a thoughtful chap
on his Mammoth gave me a lift.
(thank you Jardal!!!!)

And then the horde of Horde arrived and it was hugely amusing (dancing bears for the win!!)

Making a racket in Ratchet, awaiting our boat...

And dancing on the roof( since we couldn't bring down the roof)

Thanks to all involved, ESPECIALLY to the regular residents of Kael'Thas and the suportive guild, Sidhe Devils! Well done!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blogging life with a Polaroid

I've been busy in Azeroth, but haven't accomplished much, and haven't been able to coherently put thoughts onto electrons for a real post, but I wanted to link to another blog.

By Chris Higgins.

This blogger ran across a website with THOUSANDS of posted pictures, taken one per day, over the course of 18 years. The pictures were taken by another gentleman, and the linked blog takes you through some of them and a lot of commentary.

One of the more touching things I've read lately, and might lead some of you to pull a Kleenex or two. Both the original website and that blog are the epitome of sharing life via the web.

(many of you may have already seen this, but it's new to me,)

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Get By with a little Help from My Friends...

When I got home last night, Kattastrophe had already done her dailies and was traipsing around Northrend trying to get the last few ore nodes she needed to hit 450 in mining. She had just landed in Amber Ledge when I started my log in. To her surprise there was a 1 v 1 battle (not a duel) going on between a level 75 Belf Paladin and a level 70 Human DeathKnight.

I urged Kattastrophe to help out and nail the Belf, but even against a weakened foe, and in her Elemental spec, Kattastrophe didn't want to poke the nasty Pally.

So I flew out from Dalaran to meet them. While flying, I tabbed over to and looked him up. It was probably a good thing Kat didn't engage the guy. He was in mostly Boss Drop purples, with the rest being blue. (well, he had one green trinket)

At the same time, this Pally is running around trying to get folks to fight him. And, well, being an annoying pain in the butt.

As I lapproach, I see him running around.

The moment I land, I turn to face him, and bring up my Seal of Vengeance. He responds by asking for a duel.



Nope, I'm not in this to fight fair, I'm in it to win it, damnit!!

A moment later, I hit him with Hammer of Justice and just start pummeling the guy. He had the advantage of better gear, but I had the advantage of shammie that had just switched to her healing spec.

I got him REAL low, and he got me sorta low. He did Lay on Hands, I just fought and absorbed the lovely shammie heals.

By the time I stood laughing over his corpse, I had dealt out 29,400 damage (Katt had added about 2,000), and had received about 27,700 in heals. He was completely dead, and I was at 75% health.

That's actually a bit troubling. But a quick look at the numbers below, and you can see why: even thoughI've got better offensive numbers (and my DPS *WAS* better) his added armor and TONS of health...

And I mean CRAZY health ... he "sits" with 14,700 health, and in my "normal" setup, I have 9,800. We both had the IDENTICAL weapon. He had some much better gear, but he had opted for more stamina and "tanky" gear. (A lot of his was the Tempered Saronite" stuff (I have a couple pieces I use for my tank spec)

Honestly though, I don't think his gear was magnitudes much better than mine. Yes, he has several Boss Drop Epics but my gemmed chest piece is pretty fookin epic, so I can't really cry TOO much.

That said, I wouldda prolly had my ass handed to me if not for some (ok, GOBS) of healing. In my best fight, I can only put down ~15-20k healing while still doing damage (more usually in the 10-15k range). BUT, that's at the cost of a significant amount of damage, and my DPS wsn't THAT great in this fight. (granted, I was being lazy and sloppy because I knew I had a ton of healz in my back pocket)

Regardless, even though we won, he really did a nice job in his fight. On my best night, with a lot of luck, I *might* have won in a real 1 v 1 fight. But then, with good friends around, who needs luck?

Take a look at the results below: The guy had MONSTROUS stamina and health for a Retpal (seems he was of the same mind I was and went for survivability with the ability to hit - a type of ret-tankadin)


I use Seal of Vengeance, he used Seal of Command.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Got a Long Way to Go, and a Short Time to Get There...

OK, so maybe time ISN'T so short but still...

I finally got around to getting my dual spec. Yay, I’m officially a tankadin as well as a retadin.

Ho-lee-crap! It is a major change of pace! Not that I’ve tanked with any groups or anything, but even sauntering up to the practice dummy is all kinds of different. Fighting PvE just amplifies it… Lots to learn and it’s not the kind of thing you want to try out for the first time in a PUG.

Let me ‘splain to those that haven’t made the dual plunge…

(The first part kinda just highlights the changes that ALL dual spec folks have to deal with, but the last half (or more?) gets into some very specific Ret versus Prot yabbering)

And here… we… go!

There are 3 big things that change when you get a different spec, to the point that you are essentially using a completely new character:

1 – Talents & Glyphs – in general, nothing you know about your old character will work. In most cases (unless you have a PvP version and a PvE version) you are talenting for a completely different game style. Just researching what tree and different talents is nuts! Look at my talent numbers above, and it’s clear there’s not much overlap.

2 – Gear – This may actually be the easiest part of the change: at least for the under-80 crowd. For a ret pally, you want strength, strength, strength, with some attack power, crit and a “dash of haste” (hey a pun…) For a tankadin (Protection spec) you want stamina, block, defense and THEN maybe strength. While I’m probably getting the exact order of importance wrong, the basic premise holds true – there is gear that is primarily Ret, and there is gear that is primarily Prot. It’s fairly easy to see the difference and grab what’s right. It can be expensive, time consumingh and space consuming (in your bags) but it’s not all that tough.

3 – Spell/ability rotation – YIKES!!!!! Here is where things get a bit hairy. First, the basic spells I use are a tad different, and the WAY they’re used is different. Hmmm… this point is gonna get long, so I’m going to break it out even further… But in general, all your spells, abilities and how you use them will be changed. Either they are unusuable, or are less effectual, AND you will usually get something completely new to learn how to use.


Ok, for a Ret Pal, you use what is referred to as “FCFS”, which is “first come, first serve”. In practice, this means simply looking at your regular spells, and using the first one that comes off global cool down, and, if 2 or more do, picking the “best” one. Because the spell times, cooldowns and such are so all over the place, there's no real "best" rotation. The basics are:

Hammer of Wrath
Judgement (usually wisdom for me)
Crusader Strike
Divine Storm

Just start casting them in that order, and recast the next one to become available. If two come off cooldown at the same time use the upper one.
Though to be honest, if it’s just me, or me & Kattastrophe, I will pull with Hand of Reckoning, and then Judge them when they get in range, THEN start the list as above. But then, knowing to do that little thing to maximize damage as the baddie runs towards you, is part of knowing your character.

I don’t have that comfort/knowledge with the Prot build yet.

In Prot, you actually DO have a spell rotation; the 9696969 (or the 696969696)

For me this is usually as follows (I got it from HERE )

Hammer of the Righteous
Holy Shield
Shield of Righteousness
Hammer of the Righteous
Shield of Righteousness
Holy Shield
Hammer of the Righteous
Shield of Righteousness

And repeat. Over & over, til death do us part.
(also I will try to pull using Ardent Defender – which can hit up to 3 targets. YAY!)

Here’s a Pinkraidframes vid of it in action:

Learning to use this, when to bend it, how to watch threat/agro on other members so they don’t get their face chewed off, etc is a BIG deal. Test dummies don’t help with that…

There are 2 good taunts that we can use:

Hand of Reckoning – which taunts and can do damage on a single target

Righteous Defense – which pulls up to 3 attackers of a raid/party member

Now, I know *how* to do them, but one thing I would LOVE to find, is something like healbot, but shows whenever team members are taking damage (when they shouldn’t be) so I could just click that bar/frame/whatever to taunt them off.

Is there such a thing?

Lastly, I’ve been running into one other possibly MAJOR issue when I try to play as my tank spec – I keep going out of mana. FAST.

Now, if I use Seal of Wisdom, and I Judge Wisdom, the problem takes longer to manifest, but is that REALLY the way it should work? I had always thought that Tankadins should Judge Light (for the health rejuv) and that Ret should be the one to Judge Wisdom.

Now, I usually hit this problem when fighting “trash”, and I *believe* that we should be getting mana back from our shield blocks, which doesn’t happen much against low level trash.

I know Consecrate is a mana hog, but given it's the only AoE we have, I can't think it's advisable to skip....
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To All My Friends in Low Places

Most of us have alts. Who are they and why do we have them?

Well, here’s a “Rogues Gallery” of mine… at least the ones on my home server (I won’t bother with Balthazario, since I ramble on about him all the time)

Yeah, there are a couple toons up there that you won’t see pictured, simply because I pretty much never play them: Slikrx – my ”real” namesake – He’s a Tauren Hunter and Vexell, a Belf Warlock. Vexell is a name from 25 years ago, back when I played Dungeons & Dragons. Vexell (actually, I always called him Vex) was Half-elven fighter magic user (yes, I know, only full blood elves could multiclass – and his stats WERE elven, I just was being weird and liked him having some human blood)

The rest of my tunes have plain odd/goofy names. There’s no history to them, and I don’t identify with them at all. They are, at most, Balthazario’s “friends” and of ill-repute at that..

Good old Wysywyg. (pronounced “whiz –ee- wig”) It’s a mis-spelling of the acronym “wysiwyg”: “what you see is what you get”. Back when the Macintosh first came out, and Claris released “Word”, it was the first wysiwyg word processing program to see common use. The text you saw on your moniter, was pretty much what you saw when you printed it out.

He’s a Dwarf and a Warrior; what you see, is what you get. He’s a skinner and an engineer. I don’t think I have put ANY talents for him yet. I am not a fan of the rage mechanic (it works well enough, I just prefer mana) I made him so I could level an engineer. Sword & board is relatively easy to do, and I didn’t want another paladin, so Warrior was the choice. He’s only level 31, so he has a pretty long way to go.

And here’s Bigmistake, a level 25 Druid, speaker of Druish, from Druidia (funny, he doesn't LOOK druish - thank you Mel Brooks). I wanted to make an enchanter, so I made another toon. I like the mana aspect of casters, but I also like the ability to go into the melee and bang around. So I went with a Druid. The name came about because I didn’t think I’ll really enjoy playing a druid. (it's actualy OK, just a HUGE change from a pally) Why a Nelf? Not sure I can remember. Probably so that his first mount could be the big Cat.

Later I realized I wanted a pretty much dedicated bank toon. Because of this, I started a Human, so the trip to Stormwind would be quick & easy. The name Bernimmadof is, of course, a nod to the criminal Bernard “Bernie” Madoff that had one of the largest Ponzi Schemes the world has seen. SO of course, Bernie had to be a rogue (aka thief, to my D&D heritage) The personal guild I started for her is (obviously) called Ponzi Scheme. Why a female? Because if I had to watch that goofy ass human running style, it could NOT be a dude running. There’s just something off-putting watching this burly avatar with massive muscles and deadly weapons, just flouncing around on the screen. So it's a girl.

Just recently I started her off doing a bit of jewelcrafting. Kattastrophe has a JC alt, but eh, why not…

Most recently, I decided that I hadn’t seen a couple aspects of the game and the alliance. Namely, the brief history of the Gnomes, and I had not played a mage. So I created a Gnome mage. (and you can also thank Gnomeageddon for some influence here) And of course, I had to come up with an appropriate name, so I came up with my take on “ignominy”: Ignomeminy. (pronounced ignominy) I may have him do alchemy, though I’m not sure…

I will do more leveling for these guys, but most likely it won’t happen until Balthazario can buy some Heirloom gear.