Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reservation - The Desire to Tank, but the Fear that Prevents it

Tanking from the point of View of a DPS:

Since I'm reasonably durable, and because I know how cahllenging some fights can get, I am usually pretty lenient with Tanks. This is especially true with a lot of mobs, and even more true with a lower geared tank. If I'm not attacking the same target as the tank (either due to stupidity on my part or target switching on theirs)it's pretty darned easy for me to yank aggro.

As long as the healer doesn't bitch at me (which has happened once recently, in HoR during the run from Arthas - though the tank wasn't bothered evidently) I don't sweat it much.

The only time I will get a bit testy is when the tank is reasonably geared (at least from a GS number - as mentioned before, I don't inspect folks - I don't have the time) and when the healer keeps getting aggro, and I have to keep playing damage sponge because I have to keep taunting mobs off the healer.

Sometimes I think the healers are standing a tad too close, but with so many fights I realize that LoS is an issue, so that they NEED to be close-ish.

Then again, on other fights like the current Holiday Boss (Athune), with the bevy of mobs that keep spawning, I can fully understand how it's pretty much impossible to keep all the mobs on the tank. In these fights (especiall with a lower geared tank) I will actually turn on Righteous Fury and run as Off-Tank to help keep mobs off the healer. (an interesting PuG story about last night later in this post)

So, I am understanding, but when I see a tank NOT doing the basics (consecrate, stomp/whatever) to at least get SOME aggro, I will groan, and bitch to myself. As long as I don't get bitched at ("Watch aggro, nub!!"), I'll suffer silently.

Tanking from the the sword & board perspective:

I can sum this up in 2 words:

"Oh, Shit!"

Especially on nights like last night, where I offered to tank on a 4/5 guild run. "Unless we get an ICC heroic, then I'm bailing".

And what do we get?


Piece of Shit Pit of Sauron

I wanted to bail, but the guildies said "nah, you'll be fine".

As ide from a slightly overeager group of DPS on the first couple groups, things went smoothly all the way to Ick & Krick.

We didn't wipe, but we did lose 2 DPS. But, I was happy with my performance overal to this point, because I kept the mob moving out of the green, didn't get more than one at a time, and the actual Boss fight seems to have gone well enough.

And then came the ramp from hell. You know, large groups of multiple mobs, including several casters? Yeah, that slice of hell.

We didn't get there quickly enough to avoid the first 2 groups, so we slogged our way up. We had a couple deaths and a couple REAL close calls, but we still made it.

I was asked several times if I was using Consecrate, and yes, I was.

If you're at all interested, my initial way of going in was:

Start running in
Hand of Reckoning (to damage one, and also to taunt)
Avenger's Shield to further taunt, damage, slow and silence
Drop Consecrate when I get into the middle to get more AoE aggro
Hit Holy Wrath to stun them and get even more aggro.

And then try to tab-tab-tab-tab. Which never works all that well. It will select a new target, but often will not actually TARGET them, until I cast something.

This means they will have the red circle below their feet, but my toon will not auto-attack, and some spells won't cast. (fortunately, Judgements will, as will Crusader's strike)

So, we slowly trudge our way up the ramp.

From there on out it was pretty easy, with only an occasional Righteous Defense.

The final boss fell without much ado.

So, I can fully understand loss of aggro on large groups, but there's still need for SOME work.

(by the way, if you read this half way through, I inadvertantly hit [enter] twice and it posted it.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do You See What I See?

When you’re in a movie theater, or other event where there is tight seating, and you and/or other folks will need to get in and out of the seats, there’s an odd bit of decorum people use, yet it seems to be different for everyone.

Think about it.

When you are the one trying to move across the row, do you face the folks in your row? Depending on the seating, and how large or small you are, this could lead to a “thump –thump” as your butt-cheeks slide over the head of the person one row in front of you, and could lead to an overly intimate view of your crotch by the person in your row.

Conversely, the only alterative is to essentially stick your ass in the face of the person you are passing, which will eliminate the butt-thumping, but makes it a bit more likely you will spill your beverage and/or food on someone’s head. And give someone an up close and personal view of your tushie.

I will usually face the folks in my row. Why? This leads to observation/question/preference #2.

#2 (no, not THAT kind of “#2”) If you are the one sitting, which way would you prefer someone else pass by you? Crotch-facing or ass-facing?

Personally, I hate having someone’s ass in my face. Especially a stranger’s.

And this leads to an odd WoW thingie: I’m melee DPS, so unless I’m fighting a dragon, I’m usually staring at the ass of various bosses. Distinctly unpleasant on some fights, like Festergut, where the Boss is farting. A lot.

Are Boss crotches any better? Not really.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Manic Monday, After a Long Weekend

Due to a change in vacation policy at work, I needed to use up some of my accrued vacation time, so I took this past Friday off. Katt joined me, so we got to play a little (ok, a lot) of WoW starting Thursday night.

Thursday night - started and finished the Summer Festival stuff. Painful and long, but made a LOT of gold doing it! (I think about 600 all together?)

Friday Night and early Saturday - Ran 10 man and 25 man ICC up *to* Fester. Couldn't get past him either time. (I became Exalted with Ashen Verdict though!)

Saturday evening - I went and ran "For the Alliance" and got my bear. I had done Thrall and Bloodhoof a few months ago, but got to finish it.

Sunday evening - Katt's guild was messing around and decided to run Karazhan. WoW. That was a VERY cool dungeon! I'd never been in before, and all I can say is WOW! Then, literally as I finished Kara, I got a guild invite to run Ony 25. I'd never done it before (10 or 25), so that was neat. I'd been in a fail group before, so seeing it done correctly was nice.

Lessee... other randomness... I saved up enough Frost to replace my PvP belt with a decent PvE one.

I am working on a basics of Ret-Pal talents, so I hope to have that up in a few days. It's a fair bit of work though.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ruby Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Whenever.

I've been playing WoW for about 14 months now. I dinged 80 in December(ish) and have only been raiding since ICC.

The only Naxx I've done is a few weeklies, and one guild run that went through 2 of the quarters.

Weekly raids are ALL I've done in Ulduar.

I've attempted ToC 25 man once, but never finished it (made it to Anub). I've never even been in ToGC.

I've been late to the party. For any boss fight, all I (or any raid members) need to do is look stuff up on Tankspot, or read strats in any number of other places. Not a good thing or bad thing, but there it is.

Now comes Ruby Sanctum. For the first time I am (pretty much) ready to go. It's new content, and I am probably geared enough to try it. I think the guild has enough geard members to try as well.

I have no illusions about being server first or ANYTHING like that, but the thought of working through the fight that isn't essentially farm content for others is exciting.

This is the first time I can say that I'm excited about content. As I said last post, I probably won't see it until later, but I intend to try it by hook or crook.

Just to be there.

In other news, I only need one more primordial saronite for my boots. WooHoo!!

Oh, yeah, I got a new pony (top pic) I got VERY lucky; according to my wowarmory stats, I only killed Rivendare 19 times.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hit Me With Your Best Shot - I have No Choice

It's Tuesday again, and we get our weekly server maintainance today.

And a frikking patch.

As I've mentioned before, I am not a fan of REAL ID, I think it has a whole HOST of exploits and ways to antagonize and ruin folks.

Ruby Sanctum? Um, sure... but I won't probably see much of it until I get through the Lich King kill.

Then there's THIS little gem:

The functionality of the Vote Kick feature in the Dungeon Finder will now
behave differently according to a player's history with the system. Players
using the Dungeon Finder who rarely vote to kick players from a group, or rarely
abandon groups before a dungeon is complete, will find that the Vote Kick option
will have no cooldown. For players who frequently abandon groups or vote to kick
other players, the Vote Kick option will be kept on a cooldown. This
functionality will adjust itself as a player's behavior while using the Dungeon
Finder changes.

Wait, let me get this straight; if there's an asshole in my group that we manage to vote kick out, the game will remember this and will work to prevent me from doing it again?


You have created a system that enhances and encourages douche-baggery, and now you want to make it even MORE difficult to get rid of them?

You already make it impossible to ignore someone after the group breaks up (if they aren't on your sever) you already have a "once per run" maximum on the numbers of idiots we can boot.

And now this?

As a DPSer for the most part, I am pretty much at the mercy of any tanks or healers that want to be an asshole. Mainly because we then have to sit and wait for another one.

If we do manage to boot someone, we still have the high likelihood of THEM being a jerk, and at that point we are S.O.L. and stuck with whomever we get.

And now, you will make my sanity preserving decions follow me?


Again, all I can say is fuck you.

In the 200+ randoms I have run, I have voted to kick 3 times. That's all.

Twice more I *tried* to initiate a vote kick, but I had joined a group already in progress that already had kicked someone, so we were stuck. I have ignored/voted no on a couple other occasions.

I do not abuse the kick system, and it's rare to see others doing so.

I already despise the LFG heroic grind. While assholes aren't the majority of folks running them, there are MORE than enough of them around that 1/3 of my runs have some sort of actively annoying jerk in them.

Most times I will put up with the crap, rather than prolong an already tedious and annoying process. It is only with great hesitation that I will (and the rest of the group will) go through the hassle of vote kicking.

But now you've taken this lame, pretty much already broken tool, and made it even less useful.

Thanks for giving griefers even more power.

If you wanted to do something to help, allow us to rate each other, and track THAT. Or at least keep track of how often a person is voted out. If they get voted out too much, give THEM a time out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Time... Ever I Slew Your (Rot) Face

I have probably wiped 20+ times on the S.O.B., and I finally got to be a part of dropping him in a puddle of his own ickiness.


The 10 of us then ran over to give Putricide a try. (lesson: it helps if you open the valves in Rot & Fester's rooms - doh -)

We then wiped a few times, but eh, since only 1 of us has ever fought him before (not me), it went well enough. For giggles, after we had given up on him for the night, we ran over and got the "free" badges (killing some Vyrkul, can never remember the name) and we wandered into say "hello" to Dreamwalker.

It was amusing, for the minute/minute & a half that we lasted. None of us (other than the RL) knew anything about the fight, so it was interesting to see. I am going to suggest that we actually give it a few tries WITHOUT knowing strats. Just to see if we can figure it out. (although, the RL has seen and defeated her, so has Kattastrophe, who sits only feet away and can watch/comment)


In other news... we ran Magister's Terrace a few times... Kat went with a guildie and got the Phoenix pet, then we ran it a couple times, and I got the chicken mount: Swift White Hawkstrider.

If you want to see something hysterical, find a Draenei Pally, with Crusader Aura on, watch him run on teh hawstrider. After being hit with baby spice.


Prior to yesterday, I had run Stratholme about 8 or 9 times. I was doing it for rep, and a couple times was to run one of Kattastrophe's alts through it.

And then yesterday, I found out he drops a rather rare mount: Deathcharger's Reigns.

Here's a possibly gut churning bit: because it is a BOP drop, and it has no vendor value, it is *possible* that the dang thing dropped, and I didn't bother looting it.

When I am running rampant through a low level istance, I will keep stuff of value (in gold) and will ignore other stuff. Balth isn't an enchanter, so I don't DE anything, and the few auctionable items are hard (for me) to tell from just gold-lewt stuff, so I just loot everything and vendor it. 25-50 gold per run, depending.

So, if the reigns had dropped, I doubt I would have bothered reading what it said. I would have noticed the lack of a vendor price. That *might* have given me pause, especially for something purple.

But no guarantees.

So I ran the instance in "speed" mode last night a couple times with no luck. I have run it only 11 times, so it's likely a long way to go before I will get it. That being said, I cleared about 75 gold for all the crap I vendored. (and maybe 30-40 minutes total, and not very efficiently - I should be able to run/clear once every 8-10 minutes or so) At 6 runs per hour, 25 gold per run, that's 150 gold per hour.

That just about matches the gold per hour rate I get doing the Argent dailies.

If you're interested in what/how to do a speed run, go here ya go:


Oh, I got a nice drop of Saurfang (25) on Saturday: Polarbear Claw Bracers.

These now replace my Wrathful bracers (for PvE), and all together, I get an increase of 35 strength or so. Because:
- They have intrinsically 5 more strength
- They have a gem slot already (so as a blacksmith, I can put a second on)and the wrathful did not
- They have hit instead of resilience, so I can replace a +10 STR/+10 Hit gem with straight +20 STR gem.

They are identical in gearscore (big deal) but they are an actual good upgrade, so I'm jazzed!



Oh, and I think I need only 1 or 2 more pieces of primordial saronite and I can make my nifty boots.


Things seem to be looking up with the guild. Again, I like the folks there a bunch, and I hope they are feeling more the same. We shall see.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Satisfaction - At What Cost?

The other day over at Hots & Dots, Cassandri brought up a video log about a guild (called Big Crits) that was progressing to 25 man Lich King, and documenting the progress in a very "reality TV" type of way. Hots & Dots Link Here. It's a very interesting video, and seeing the tidbits from the raider POV and the leader POV as well as the culture was very revealing.

For me, this was rather topical, since I had had a brief interaction with a guild that seems to be in a similar "mode": i.e., the guild's progression is paramount, and any individual is only a cog in the machine for that progression.

As I mentioned before, that is wholly unacceptable to me. But this got me to thinking, clearly this type of guild exists, on multiple servers, and represents a truly dedicated hardcore attitude towards raiding. Obviously, there is a panoply of variations, but there seems to be a reasonable spectrum of "cores" that progression type guilds seem to fall into. (as opposed to PvP oriented, or RP oriented, which I assume have their own spectrum, but that's something I know very little of)

So, in very basic terms, here's the spectrum guilds as I see it, from least "hardcore" to maximum hardcore. (yes, there are all sorts of variations, as well as variability of membership within each "type")

1 - Completely social. There is no internal organization for raiding or even Heroics.

2 - Social guild that runs heroics as a group, but that's about it.

3 - Social that runs progression raids (ICC, either 10 or 25). Participation is "as wanted by the toon". Real life ("RL") and "fun" take precedence to any progression. Anyone can join as long as there's room.

4 - Raiding as social. A semi-core group of regulars. Most members are usually there, but no social pressure if you can't make it. having fun while progressing is the goal.

5 - Moderate progression - a pretty static group of people that raid. RL and such are allowed, but some commitment is required. This is the first "type" where being friends and good rapport is not needed: this is a raiding guild first & foremost. (friendships may still be there, but is not necessarily needed)

6 - Dedicated Progression Raid - You had better be there. Missing is grounds for /g kick. Generally the same group that starts is the same group that finishes.

7 - Hardest core raiding - Progression of the guild is paramount. Performance and functionality for each fight is paramount. Very good performance is not a guarantee that you will raid.

For me personally, I prefer somewhere in the 4-5 range. Kattastrophe's guild a 5, or maybe a 5.25. Big Crits is clearly a 7. I don't know, but I would assume that Ensidia and paragon are also. I would guess that Tamarind's guild is a 4, and Single Abstract Noun (the WoW Blogger reader's/writer's guild) is a 1.

Where do you/your guild fit? Did I miss anything?

Oh, and here's a question I *need* to ask: does a "7" guild exist pretty much exclusively for the benefit of the raid leader, and their 2-3 officers/etc? After all, from what I cans see, the only players "guaranteed" as spot during the final boss will be the raid leader and his/her cadre. Everyone else is expendable/interchangeable.

Does the benefit of being a part of that organization make it worthwhile to everyone else?

(or are there "7" guilds where the RL and cadre will pull themselves out for the raid/guild benefit?)


Thursday, June 17, 2010

WoW and that Sweet Emotion

OK, so the angry kid above isn't playing WoW (it's either CounterStrike of Unreal Tournament, I can't remember which) but I think it's still apropos for "those" moments that we all have.

And if you heard the audio clip from Paragon's Lich King 25 Heroic Kill, you get to see the other side: the cheering, excitement and joy. (Sorry, I can't find the clip/link)

WoW definitely has the ability to set our emotional meters swinging wildly and strongly. (I am speaking mainly from a PvP and Raiding perspective, though I suspect RP would have similar points) I have a couple ideas, and I'd also like to hear any others that you may have.

The Personal time and effort investment

You don't succeed in raiding or PvP without spending a LOT of time in the game:
- leveling your toon
- working on gear
- learning to play your toon
- learning the basic fights (both raids and PvP have pre-planned tactics)
- learning to play as a team

Even if you aren't "in character" (in an RP, or anthropomorphic sense), you have still put several hundred hours into any character that is "ready to go". In my own experience, the more time I put into a task or objective, the more emotionally invested in that given thing I will be. It seems that most people I've known are the same way. Time may or may not equal money, but time most certainly seems to be equate to emotion.

So, when something doesn't go as planned, failures of some sort, or negative interactions with other will hit a nerve and we will likely have a negative response.

Conversely, when you FINALLY drop the boss, or get up to an arena rank, or beat a tough team, the exhilaration is amazing.

Thems is Peoples behind those pixels

Maybe this part gets driven into the ground. That voice you hear over your headset, and those pixels dancing in front of your avatar are the visible "face" of other folks. People aren't bits of code and they will almost always have *some* type of impact on you.

Whether you despise them, love them, or simply don't pay attention to them, they are an integral part of the game and how they interact with you can be a huge part of any feelings you get int the game.

Combine this with with the emotional investment we have, and the results are demonstrated every day, both in-game and here in the blogosphere.

Rools iz Rools

If you ever played pen & paper D&D, with the DM (dungeon master) sitting behind his screen and rolling the dice to determine your fate, there was almost ALWAYS a way to bend a rule, create a rule, or just do something out of left field. The only limits were imagination and patience.

WoW doesn't have that flexibility or intimate level of interactivity. Let alone an imagination.

So we are all stuck playing within the rules of bit, bytes and teraflops that were created by the designers. Much to the QQ of folks on the various forums and blogs.

How does this affect our gaming in any emotional way?

Let me ask it this way: how do you feel about somewhat arbitrary laws in your city, town, state, county, etc? Especially ones that you feel are either draconian or ones that almost encourage irresponsibility?

If you're anything like me, they will piss you off. Either because they restrict you too much, or give too much leniency to assholes.

-But I WANT to go to Ironforge Airport without fear of banning or booting!
-Stop the gold sellers, botters and the like!


The sad/frustrating part of this aspect of our emotional interaction within/around the game, is that its effect on us is almost universally negative. Perhaps you could argue that the story telling, lore and questing are also part of the "rules", and can be EITHER annoying OR good (or completely banal) so that "rules" aren't always a negative... *shrug*

The Mirror

How we deal with ourselves and our time with WoW is probably the biggest factor, although others can certainly be a huge part.

If you had a crappy day at work, school at home, what ever, you can probably bet that your real life (RL) is going to have an emotional impact on how your time in Azeroth will go. It is very possible (and often a hoped for side-effct) that playing will relax you and get you out of your rut or mood. But that's not always the case.

This is especially true when you put yourself into a part of the game that tests you. Either via PvP against other players, or in Raid content WITH other players (and all of THEIR own issues, problems, and joys) You will be trying to successfully perform a task, and you will either succeed or fail.

This can be viewed from a group perspective (did we win/down the boss or did we lose/wipe) or it can be on a much more personal level (how did I do? did I stand in stupid? Did I help those I should have? Did I kick butt?)

It's under the lens of the latter part of the individual, personal review that you can get you down. ESPECIALLY if it is reinforced in any way by any of the previous "emotional modifiers" that I mentioned above. You can end up happy, sad, or any of the other myriad positions on the spectrum of emotional state.

And you know what? That's ok. As long as whatever state you are in doesn't become "clinically relevant", having an emotional response to the game, even negative ones, is OK. It's what makes you who you are, it's how you grow, learn and stay human. (or cyborg for some of you)

I almost deleted or drastically edited my post from yesterday. I don't want to QQ *too* much, but hey, it's all part of who I am. I'm a grouchy, competitive, social person. While my primary reason for bloggin is the interaction and community, I *do* still think of this as a scrap book of my gaming. Not just the good and that, but also some of the less fun parts.

So, did I miss anything? Majorly screw something up? Let me know...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And There Will be, Sorrow...

Time for Deep Thoughts... though I'm no Jack Handey

Last night's raid was a first for me: I just felt nearly incapable of doing what was asked.

Was it avoiding the defile on on Lich King? Nope.
Was it dropping the buffet on Sindragosa? Nope.

I simply could not keep myself alive.

On the Four Horseman.

To be fair, I've never been deep into Naxxramus before. I had never seen the Four Horseman, didn't know the strat. When the RL asked:

"Bal, do you have a Tank of Healer off-spec?"

"Yeah, I have a tank off-spec, though I'm not great."

"How is your healing in your tank spec?"

"Um... not great"

In case you are in the same boat as I was early yesterday evening, I'll explain this fight in VERY basic terms.

1 - There are 4 bosses in this fight that each need to be fully engaged, or any single one of them will AoE and wipe the raid.

2 - The "first/front" two bosses will be dealt with by DPS, "real" tanks and the healers.

3 - The back two bosses need to be engaged, and the two people engaging them need to be able to survive. On their own.

4 - Once the front 2 bosses are down,the rest of the group will come back and take care of the second 2 bosses.

5 - Oh, and there are these stacks you have to watch out for, so each pair of tanks has to switch off so that the debuff can wear off.


So we went in, with me and a Blood DK on the back bosses. I was supposed to heal both of us.

In case you aren't aware, Pally gear (Ret & Prot) has zero intellect on it, so our mana pool is rather small. While my Ret spec has a fair amount of haste (about 375 or so) I don't think my Prot gear has ANY.

Can you say looong cast time? (even without stalls/interrupts?)

Anyhow, I have Seal of light on, and swapped my binding so that I was judging light (both replenish health) I'm healing the other guy, trying to heal myself, I pop Lay on Hands-



Not even close. (Also, I wasn't paying attention, and I think we both ended up with 4 stacks of the debuff) I also think that the front group was having some issues themselves.

Oh, did I mention the group?

2 Tanks, 2 healers, with 2 ranged DPS.

It was entirely a guild run, but I think only 1 or 2 of them had ever seen this fight before. The tanks were both 1st time raid tanks, (though they did quite well) and it was mentioned that we were trying to 2-heal a fight that really needs to have 3 healers. Lastly, most of the toons there had a GS below 4,500. YES, I realize that folks beat this without so much as a full T-7 set, but gear is usually needed to help folks that lack experience, which we did.

We tried it once more, and one thing crystallized for me in my tanky-healy duty. The DK & I are both melee classes, and I actually need to be hitting the bad guy to regain health. Similar to the DK. The only problem is that if we are both in melee range of our target, I was out of range to heal the other guy.

Hell, ignoring the other guy, I was having a tough time healing myself!

And So...

Well, one of the other Pallies had to leave (it was a bit late) and we got a 3rd healer in. It took another 3 tries, but we finally got past it. In addition to my inability to survive (let alone heal another) I did one dummy move that irritated a couple of the folks.

In previous wipes, the RL said to stay put, they would rez us. The last wipe, nothing was said, so I figured we didn't have anyone with a self rez available. So after a few minutes of nothing being said on vent, and no visible movement, I released. Well, everyone else DID get rezzed, and I now had a whole passel of mobs to go through that had respawned.

"Where are you, Balthazario?"

We had a 'lock, so they ported me in, but it was with some consternation.


I've never felt like I couldn't handle any responsibility I've been given before. (granted, most of the time its just "KILL IT!!!" but still...) I logged off last night feeling pretty crappy about my performance. Doubt about my actual performance and *my* perception that I was being looked at askance, left me feeling pretty discouraged about WoW overall, and me in particular.

Between this, and a couple of implied/perceived failures of mine during our recent failed attempts at Rotface, I think the group has me pegged as "one of those pallies". While I do NOT think I was any type of failure during Rot, I clearly didn't perform all that well in Naxx (that last encounter in particular)

Perhaps I have been getting too used to the ICC buff, and my 8,000+ DPS numbers, but my overall DPS for the night (barring my "tanking" interlude) was only 4,400. That pretty much sucks, by ANY measure, if you consider my "skill" and gear. I'm not sure how I could have bumped it much to be honest. That almost makes it worse.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the group of folks in this guild. They seem to be good people and I like running with them. But, I have this gut feeling that the sentiment is not reciprocated by the guild leadership.

Casual Raiding

This isn't a guild that uses World of Logs (a subscription service that records your raids in intimate detail) or that pays much attention to the "back pages" of Recount. (you know, damage taken - which implies damage avoided, # of interrupts, stuns, etc - the "other" stuff you can do, both good and bad) Heck, as long as DPS is cranking along, they don't seem to pay much attention, other than "is the group doing enough?" (we are). I *agree* that not putting too much value in Recount can be a good thing, especially just the "front page" (damage/DPS numbers)

However, the bummer is that your value to the group, be it raid or guild, then becomes a very subjective thing. Did the RL see you taunt that add of the healer 3 times? (doubtful, since he's not the healer) Or the other clothies other times? (I don't think so) Did he realize it was me that cast the ghetto priest buff multiple times after wipes? (nope) Did he see you and another established guild member having troubles combining oozes? (I think so - though it isn't clear "who's fault" it was, but again, one of us is an established guildie, the other isn't) Did he see you die stupidly that one time? (yep, he did)

My only "response" to this type of stuff is that some of it did happen, but that overall I am a VERY productive member of the group. Some of my assistance could be borne out by looking deeper into Recount. If they only look at the front of Recount, they will likely see me as top Damage and first or second in DPS, which could be a bad thing (see, he only cares about DPS)

So, I have this feeling that I will not become a full member of the guild any time soon.

By the way, Naxx seems like it must have been an awesome place to raid in, "back in the day". I can believe that some of the fights must have been monster pains to get past, but the look of the place, the neat and different fights, all seem like it could have been a blast as well.

OH! In case you don't read Kattastrophe's blog, they got past Sindy the other night, and have started work on Arthas. It was neat to watch them... I saw at least one Sindy fight where they had her down to 70,000 health, but still wiped. Seeing the final kill was great! Good job folks!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Step by Step

A quick post today.

I know I've blathered on quite a bit about using PvP gear for PvE. I was digging around my blog andwasn't sure I actually had one single post that covered most of it. Mainly because I would learn/realize something, post about it, and then I would learn more and post more.

So, in an attempt to make things a bit more reader friendly, here is all I have to say about...

PvP Gear for Use in PvE

What items are possible "easy" upgrades? Well, there are PvP items for just about every slot you have, but some are better than others. Places to AVOID using PvP items would be:

- Replacing any Tier slot (head, shoulders, chest, legs, hands) Unless you have EVERY Tier item, and a PvP item would still be an upgrade. Most of these slots would be filled with "Furious" gear, which should be last on your PvP upgrade list (let alone your PvE list)

- Replacing any item that has a nearly equivalent ilvl. If you have a choice of a ilvl 264 PvP item, and an iLvl 251 PvE item, the PvE item will (most likely) be better for you. The only exception here would be if you (for example) had a hunter necklace that was an upgrade (maybe had Str, Hit ang Crit) but you are a Warrior, and a "DPS PvP" item might still be better.

All the PvP items you will want will be bought using honor. (unless you get a lucky drop in VoA) Don't just buy the cheapest one you can get. The cheapest ones (Relentless items) are also the "weakest". For not *that* much more honor, you will get a much better item.In order of likely "need" and/or value:

1) Back or Wrist or Neck - Depending on what you have currently equipped, one of these will likely be your first choice. They are all "Wrathful" which are ilvl 264, which means they are VERY good items. The one you chose, is the one that offers the best stats upgrades: ignore resilience, and armor in this evaluation (unless you are a tank)

2) Waist & feet - These are "Relentless" items with an ilvl of 245. Not great, but still far, far better than any pre-heroic item (and better than many heroic items as well)

3) (probably #1 for Pallies) This is for for Paladins only. (unless there is an equivalent item for other classes, which I'm not sure of. Maybe Elemental or Restoration Shammies?) You can buy the Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude from the Apprentice Arena/PvP goblin vendor in the sewers under Dalaran.

OK, so you can buy the stuff. What to do next? review your critical stats to make sure they are still where they need to be. These are things like:

- Hit
- Spell Hit
- Experise
- Defense
- etc (stuff that applies to your class & spec)

If using one of the PvP items lowers one or more of these, be prepared to re-gem and/or re-enchant an item (or two, or three...) to get it back to where it needs to be.

Which gems & Enchants to use? I'm glad you asked because this brings up the other item I wanted to mention


Yes, I've gone and sold out. My blog now has a page two, and therein I attempt to collate, organize and link any information that I deem useful, important and or worthy.


Obviously it will be a work in progress until I can get most/all of my useful stuff included. (how much of my stuff is useful is up for personal debate, but that's another story)


Monday, June 14, 2010

DPS, Gear, and Metal by Numbers

I'm going to ramble here a bit about gear, both PvP, and PvE, and some pitfalls associated with them. I don't do any theorycrafting, but I do discuss some test dummy numbers and numerical stuff, so if you don't like that type of stuff, I guess I'll see you next post...

Wagons Ho!

The first upgrade to mention was my PvP belt; Relentless Gladiator's Girdle of Triumph. It's got some really nice stats, and, like every other PvP item I've picked up, it's a significant upgrade over my previous PvE item.

My PvP Gear summary If you look at each item, overall, they are an upgrade.

EXCEPT for hit. According to the sites I visit (wow-heroes among them) I 229 need points of hit, and I was at 223. So I gemmed my belt buckle with a +20 hit, and we're good to go. (if you look at the "summary page for my PvP gear, you will notice that I lose a fair bit of AGI, but that translates to about 1.5 Crit points (NOT %) so I am still at a net gain in Crit.

Now, even though they are clear benefits, there are a couple downsides:

1) As I noted with my waist, the PvP gear will have different stat allocation than PvP gear. So in my case, I replaced a waist that had moderate hit, with a waist that did not. GOTTA WATCH THAT!!

2) It is entirely possible that someone will inspect your gear and go "wtf up with your PvP gear?" Especially with me, where I have 4 pieces currently. All you can say is that the PvP gear you have is absolutely an upgrade over the item it replaced (it better be!)

3) PvP gear will give you a higher gearscore than you really "deserve", and your output (heals, DPS, whatever) may not meet expectations. With my 4 pieces of PvP gear, my gearscore is ~5,530, which looks nice. However, I would say I am only as effective (assume equal skill/class/spec player) as someone about 5,400. If you're reasonably skilled, it won't matter, but it is worth noting.

Moving On

So... I did a bit of raiding and a little acquisition this weekend. I was able to get the Blade-Scored Carapace from Saurfang 10 man. (One neat thing I learned is that mmo-champion's listing/links includes gems & enchants!) Since this would replace my T-9.5 chest, but NOT remove my 2 piece T-9 bonus, I was pretty jazzed.

I also had 95 frost emblems, which made me even more jazzed! Now, assuming I used the new chest piece, RAWR said the T-10 helm was the item to get. So, off to the vendor I go, and I get the new item.

A slight aside here.

I have noticed that since I replaced my old weapon; Orca-Hunter's Harpoon with Ramaladni's Blade of Culling, that I was not always proccing "Art of War" (AoW) which causes my next Exorcism (or Flash of Light) to be instant cast. If you look at the picture below, it should be kind of obvious why:

(Click on it for a larger, more legible version)

What it shows is that I lost 66 crit, and 112 Agility. I don't care if Agi is a Hunter stat or not, the Crit I got off that weapon was AWESOME. All together I lost about 69 crit points (~1.55%)


Now, if it were "just a stat" and had no real world benefit, I wouldn't care. BUT, as I have mentioned, I am actually losing out a bit on my DPS because AoW isn't proccing all the time. (usually at the beginning of a fight, but it occasionally happens mid-fight as well)

So, I did something NOT "called out" by Elitist Jerks, and I added a Crit gem to my new chest. The other 2 gems are standard Ret Pally: 2x +20 Str gems.

Back "On Topic"

So, with my gemmed and enchanted chest and helm, I headed over to a test dummy to see how the new 2 - piece T-10 set bonus (I now have Head & Shoulders lol) plus the new chest.



My DPS with my old gear was about 4835 (+/- a bit) and I could bash away on the test dummy essentially non-stop as long as I popped Divine Plea (DP) occasionally.

My DPS with the new gear?

4835 (+/- a bit)

AND I ran OOM before DP came off cooldown!

AND I had even more troubles with AoW not proccing.


*deep breath*

OK, what happened?

First off, I lost my T-9 2 piece set bonus (Your Righteous Vengeance talent now has a chance for its damage to be critical strikes)

So, I lost some critical strikes from my Righteous Vengeance. This lowered THAT damage, and also (probably) contributed to fewer crits overall, which then lead to AoW not always being up.

Um, overall, that isn't too good. It explains (possibly)a net "zero" for DPS gains.

What about the whole OOM thing? (OOM is "Out of Mana")

Let's see, losing the T-9 wouldn't have any effect. BUT, I GAINED the T-10 2 piece set bonus (Your melee attacks have a 40% chance to reset the cooldown on your Divine Storm ability)

Hmmm, this means that I will be casting Divine Storm a fair bit more. HIGH mana consumption, and only "so-so" single target.

Clearly, losing the T-9 set bonus and getting the T-10 bonus is Not worth it. (at least not on Bosses. I need to try it out for trash)

Moving On

So, what if I use the Helm, and store the chest, what sort of DPS will that get me?
4850 (+/-)

I'll be honest here and say that I have no effing clue why this didn't do better.
I expected this to really kick butt. No such luck.


The last combination of gear is the old helm, with the new chest. Keep the T-9 bonus, lose the T-10 bonus, but gain a bit of crit & other "stuff". Given the results of the previous, I won't hold my breath. So?

4995 (+/-)

Again, I have ZERO clue why this combo is better than the other 2. Not by a squinch, but by a LOT. (well, at this point 150 DPS seems like a large amount)

But What Does It All Mean?

The only thing you can really say about the whole thing is that number crunching, widgets (like Rawr) and other bits can only help so much. Training dummies are much better, and "in raid" testing is even better yet. Perhaps the best theory crafters out there can avoid this, but I don't play that game.

Anyhow, just because an item has better stats, it doesn't mean it will be an actual upgrade. Item interaction plays a big role in overall gear performance. Sometimes you will need to hold on to that piece until such a time when it WILL make a difference (like holding on to my T-10 helm, so that when I get another 2 pieces of T-10, so I cen get the 4 pc bonus)

Other times things can be a real upgrade, but you need to be extra careful about stat itemization. Some of this might be "core"stats for your class (like hit, or other hard & soft caps) that are easy to catch and adjust, other times it will be more subtle (like my own crit issue) where it will require you being aware of how your toon plays, and realizing that all things aren't behaving quite right.

Actually, on this point, it may actually be worth going back to the Orca harpoon and seeing if all that crit would improve the DPS. Or, perhaps, some combination of the above would be good/better for trash.

Test Dummies for Dummies, perhaps?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Double Vision, Tunnel Vision

(photo by Jill Fehrenbacher, part of her "Tunnel Vision" series LINK )

Alas, this is my usual vista when I play WoW. I tend to get very focused (or zoned out, if you think about it) and I will often miss things. Part of it is the often mind numbing aspect of RetPal DPS (hounding the action bar to hit spells *just* as they come off CD) or trying to avoid the fire/slime/bad AND DPS, etc etc, and I just don't see what's going on

  • Twice with one group in Forge of Souls I was last man standing, and didn't even realize it.

  • Similar things at least once a week, that I just don't recall.

  • "Stealing" ore from someone else because I didn't see them in a struggle, 5 feet away trying to mine, but getting nabbed by a mob.

  • Etc etc etc

Now, As a "mindless DPS", you can usually get away with this, ESPECIALLY when you out gear whatever content you are doing. But if you get into anything challenging, either personally or as a group, it will cause problems.

A brief sojourn off the path (did I mention I distract easily as well?)

Last night for our frost run, we (Kattastrophe & I) went into Violet Hold. WOOHOO! Fast easy run!

Well, Until the first boss, yes: Xevozz.

Now, keep in mind: I am geared pretty well. About 5,400, with pretty good itemization, gems and enchants. Kattastrophe is 5,700 +, and is healing through Sindragosa in 10 man.

The tank is knowledgeable and does his job, but he's rather low geared (3,200 GS, or there abouts). A few times, I wasn't paying attention and yanked aggro off him, but with Katt's healing, it went well enough. There was a boomkin with us that was keeping pace with me in DPS as well, and a third DPS I am completely unaware of who/what they were.

Regardless, aside from the tank, and maybe an extra DPS, we outgeared the crap out of that place, and neither the boomie or myself really had much chance to get into our rotation before most mobs died.

Yeah, there were a couple mobs I'd have to scoop up that went away from the tank when they spawned, but other than that, easy peasy.

Until Xevozz. Did I mention him?

I've fought him once before. I think. (I have the VH achie, so I must have, but I have zero recollection of it)

So, we start the fight against Xev (he's the first boss we get) and it's going a little slow. Even with nearly 10k total DPS, he's barely dropping in health.

BOOM! - tank's dead

BOOM - I'm dead

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! everyone else is dead.


"Ah, according to wowwiki, the tank needs to kite the boss away from the orb things."

Try again.

A little bit better on DPS, then-

BOOM! - tank's dead

BOOM - I'm dead

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! everyone else is dead.

Now, this isn't just me getting too much damage and not paying attention. It's pretty darned near instant (faster than I could see the damage and try to click something - 29k health gone, in less than a second or two) This time the tank simply had trouble getting the Boss to follow him.

Last attempt, I put on my tank gear and Righteous Fury, and they have me try to kite him.

It worked better, even though I'm having to taunt every time my taunts come off CD. I die, but the rest ended up dropping him.

The best we could figure is that the tank was just so low geared that he had trouble maintaining enough threat to kite, especially with 2 strong DPS, PLUS I'm not sure at that low GS if the tank was def capped (regardless, Katt said he needed a LOT of healing - he was a squishy tank) so that he also had to fend off a CRAPTON of healer aggro as well.

Not a fault of the skills of the tank. He did quite well overall, and the rest of the heroic was uneventful, aside from everyone thanking everyone else for sticking it out (and a couple big shoutouts to Katt for some awesome heals)

Back on message (sort of)

So after our frost run, Katt wanted some help levelling her mage. For her, (at level 69 or so) the LFD queues have been >>20 minutes (if she even gets into one) so we decided to run through one of the Zangarmarsh instances. (Steamvault)

Overall, uneventful, but I hadn't noticed that the final boss could really hit hard on occasion. Well, I was just rolling, BOOM! I got killed. (He was less than 1%, so Katt's mage was able to finish him off)

Katt calls it a night, and one of our online buddies asks if I could give her a hand getting a little exp and rep with Honorhold. (She's on her lvl 74 Prot/Ret pally)

We go into ramps (reg) and I pretty much steamroll the place. The only downside is that she didn't get any rep. (she wants to buy epic flying, so rep discount would be nice)

So, she buys the key, and we decide to run it in Heroic. Now, I've tried to solo the place before in Heroic, and I *know* it's more than I can really handle solo. So, I ask her to DPS when she can, but heal as much as possible.

Overall it worked, but we BOTH suffered from not paying attention.

- Me, I wouldn't notice that she was taking damage (or had died) and I just kept on doing the 969, and tabbing between mobs.
- Her, she would focus on healing me, and not notice that she was OOM, or that she was really low on health, and would get popped.

Now, there was only one or two cases where I simply didn't have aggro and she got attacked. Those I should have taunted off, and she would have lived. The rest? Neither of us were sure, but probably a combo of a few things that led to her deaths (4 or 5 times I think)

- The instance is really near the limit for a tank of my skill and gear
- Neither of us are all that skilled at the class/role we were each doing. She's a good priest healer, and I'm a pretty good Ret Pal. I am less than skilled as a Protadin, and she's not all that familiar with RaidRet.
- Tunnel vision on both our parts

Now, the good thing, was that we both improved. I actually started to get the hang of keeping up 969, Sacred Shield (SS) and Divine Plea (DP) and keeping things moving, target switching and such. (the darkcasters in there are a major pain. The layout isn't great to LoS, and 3 or 4 together of them hit like a truck) She also got better (or learned about) using repentance and such.

The one thing I never thought to ask/mention/suggest was for one of us to Judge Wisdom, and the other to Judge Light. I use Wisdom as a habit. If I were to guess, I would think she did as well. Much pain might have been avoided if we had been careful.

Regardless, we cleared the place without a wipe, though fighting Vazruden and Nazan was a close thing.

Our combined single target DPS wasn't all that great (I'm a bit less than 2k in Prot spec, and she was well below 1k - remember, she was healing too), so that Nazan landed before we had killed Vaz. By this time, I was having mana issues (not sure why) and by the time my friend died (Nazan was at 33% or so) I was essentially OOM.

My health was REALLY low, mana was barely there, so it was a race to the death and I wasn't sure how it would end. I kept adncing and moving to avoid as much fire as I could, kept judging wisdom as it came off CD (or I had enough mana to even cast it) and casting Divine Storm to get a bit of health back (which sucked the mana well dry). Finally the scaly bugger dropped, and we relaxed.

While I'm still not back to my "A" game, the challenges of playing a VERY different spec and playstyle, as well as a fairly challenging environment (H Ramps was, for me at least) definitely sharpened me a bit.

I may even try tanking heroics in LFD now. (though I am still petrified about getting an instance I will get lost in, or one that has a tank/kiting/etc mechanic fight that I'm unaware of) ButI really need to stop running heroics as Ret: it's mind numbing, boring, and teaches me to not think or pay attention.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

War Pig, or Battle Goat - More General PvP Gearing Thoughts

In general, there are 4 typesPvP gear, each with it's own level of investment to get:

  • Heirloom PvP Gear, purchased with Stone Keeper Shards.

  • Crafted PvP gear. This will generally be iLvl 187 or there abouts.

  • Honor/Mark purchased PvP gear. This can be Potent! (especially the Wrathful stuff!)

  • Arena PvP Gear. Purchased with Arena points with a minimum rank requirement (hard to get for a noobie)

Well, there's one other place to get PvP gear, though it may not be perfect:

Outdated Heroic/Tier/Epic gear! (you know, the T-9 stuff, your Heroic drops, and maybe even some T-10 stuff that got replaced by ToC and/or ICC gear)

Huh? NONE of that has any Resilience, the bread & butter of PvP!!!

True, but it will have AWESOME "normal" stats for whatever spec you play, AND, you will likely have 10-12 gem slots that can accept resilience gems. Either Mystic King's Amber (a JC cut) or Kharmaa's Grace, which you just buy with Stone keeper Shards. Both of which are +20 Resilience. That's 200-240 resilince right there!

(thanks to WoW gem-finder for the easy search & filter)

And then you can add:

  • Arcanum of the XYZ - Add 20-25 resilience (depending on particular one, there
    are SEVERAL) to a head slot.

  • Earthen Leg Armor - Add 40 resilience to

  • Enchant Chest - Exceptional Resilience - Add 20 resilience to your

  • Inscription of XYZ - (like the Arcanums, there are several) Add 15 resilience to your shoulders

(thanks to epicenchants for the easy to use search/filter)

That's another 90+ resilience there, for a bare minimum of 300 resilience. Not too shabby!

While this won't be a truly "Epic" (let alone Gladiator) set, it will still be epic in its own way, and will get you a "full set" of PvP gear for only the cost of a few gems & enchants. (just remember not to throw away all that old gear!)

Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle


Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Well, it would have been tomorrow, if I had finished this post last night. In case you can't read that picture (I can't) it shows that I am currently Revered with the Kalu'ak, and am only 890 reputation points from being Exalted: 20,110 out of 21,000. I will get that with 2 quests this evening.

So I can get my fishing pole: Mastercraft Kalu'ak Fishing Pole

Though I'm not entirely sure why I want it. Part of me would like to get the "Salty" title, but since I've never even been able to show up for a fishing derby, OR catch either Old Crafty or Old Ironjaw, that may just be a fit of fancy.

And, at roughly 7:30 pm server, my second Mysterious Egg should be hatching. My first one had a cobra hatchling, which is worth maybe 10 gold. (I already have one, so no value there)


One gripe many people seem to have on our server is that a LOT of people will ask "do we have WG?" or "when can we do VOA?"

The implication being that the folks asking are looking for a benefit (going to the WG vendors, or VOA loot) without even showing up to help fight for WG.

And that is a gripe I can get on board with. Don't whine about not getting VoA, if you aren't willing to help fight to get it. We are constantly outnumbered in WG, and very rarely win it anymore. (at least when I'm on)

A couple of asides.

As I have slowly been accumulating PvP gear, it is becoming apparent that my survivability is increasing, though it isn't consistent. Sometimes, I will go after one guy, get jumped by 2 more, and destroy all three.

Other times, I will go after one lone guy, and NOTHING works: none of my stuns have any effect, my bubble won't cast, and I die in a VERY lopsided 1v1 fight. Even if I blow my CDs and avoid being stunned too much, I do MAYBE 10-15% damage to them, and then I'm wiped. If it matters, I have ~27k health when PvP ready, ~500 resilience and 14k armor. My PvP Gear Score is about 5,560. (HERE'S a link to my current PvP gear progress)

I can understand that a well geared PvPer (like a full arena Wrathful set -ouch!) will be nearly immune to my crits, but none of my stuns rely on that: Hammer of Justice, Repent and Seal/Judge of Justice are all instant cast or effect on hit. (I PvP with Seal of Justice active - it procs a diminishing return stun 3 times) This is a total of 5 stuns I should be getting, and yet there are other players that are 100% immune to them.


Overall, I would say the bane of my PvP experience lately are fucking bubble fucking priests. I don't fully understand how they work, but they are 100% immune to my attacks, and yet can still DESTROY me while immune. I'm not a fan of Locks or Rogues, but I'm learning to bubble, trink, cleanse, etc to counter them.

Just in case you think the Pally bubble is "ZOMG! OP!": our bubbles have severe limits:

1 - EITHER it's only a 50% damage reduction OR 100% reduction BUT *our* damage is cut by 50%
2 - only lasts 10 seconds
3 - is dispellable/breakable (Warriors, anyone?).
4 - has forbearance AND a 3 minute cooldown.

From what I can tell, NONE of the above are true for priests. I would welcome some insight into how to fight them, so comment away! (I believe they are "just" standard priest bubbles that absorb X amount of damage, but they are spammable and come off CD much faster than I can burn through them)

I'm not a fan of CC spam either. Seal of Justice has diminishing returns that does NOT reset. Unlike Fear. *cue dramatic sigh*

Now, on to some of the "fun" bits: wading through the enemy and just wiping the floor with them. This is where my asides FINALLY come full circle. Some of the "easy" kills are no doubt due to better gear, but I realized last night what the most likely cause is:

Multiple stacks of Tenacity. It's amazing what a little extra health, healing and damage dealing can do for a plate wearer. (though it does nothing against CC)


Monday, June 7, 2010

Shiny Happy People - Or Not...

It has definitely been one of those weeks and weekends.

Last week (the Memorial Day holiday weekend, for those not stateside) a good friend of mine at work had a heart attack and died. He was only 46. Saturday was his funeral. That was a tough thing to see/attend, but I’m glad I went.

Nothing like a case of human mortality to give you pause and to make you think about where you are, and where you are going.

Even if you aren’t on any major path in your life, or if things aren’t going as you had hoped, just take a second to reflect, and to appreciate what you have. As my dad loves to say,

Any day I’m looking at the flowers from the top is another good day.

It’s not a mantra I live by (though I should), but it does give some perspective.

We will all miss you Jon.

To top it off, two more got laid off during the week.


In other less depressing news, things in WoW have been a mixed bag.

Iggy the Mentor

I have been making slow progress leveling Ignomeminy. I generally run one instance a day, and do some questing along side.

In recent days gallivanting around the Redridge Mountains, I have run across a couple human Pallies that are very new to the game. These folks (guys or gals, not sure) were not dumb, were not mooches and seemed genuinely interested in the game. BUT, they were very lacking in some very basic knowledge:

- There are websites that can help with WoW?
- Why bother using the auction house?
- What’s a dungeon finder?
- Agi helps me attack faster and stuff, right?
- I got tailoring because I heard you can make good money selling bags (a Paladin, remember?)

Some of the questions & comments may seem like they come from a complete doofus, but while /whisping them, it became VERY clear that they were not stupid or anything like it. It’s just that if there was no direct, in-game mechanic to teach them, they didn’t know much, or very little, about a given thing. “Learning by trial and error” is fine, for a couple small things, here & there. But trying to learn all about WoW that way is just not practical or realistic.

Between the two, I probably spent a good 2 hours wandering around, chatting, questing, teaching and stuff. (I even logged on to Balth to craft some gear for one of them)

But the whole thing highlights the single biggest failure that WoW/Blizzard has to deal with: an absolute, fundamental and unequivocal failure to educate the truly “new-to-the-game/genre” player.

Where to How?

Maybe this will change with Cataclysm, maybe not. How could things be changed to help?

- don’t rely on loading screen “hints”
- create entire optional quest lines for each topic. Make the “?” marks a different color (like they are for dailies).

Such as:
- pick 5 herbs, skin 5 animals, make 5 bolts of linen and mine 5 nodes of copper, and a couple “feaux” greens from an NPC or two, to be disenchanted, all “freebie” and done without learning an actual trade.

- part 2 would be taking them to various NPC crafters who explains what benefit each type of craft has to offer, in addition to the use of each relevant collection trade: some ore to a blacksmith, leather to a leatherworker, cloth to a tailor, herbs to an alchemist, strange dust to an enchanter, and copper to a jeweler. Maybe you get to keep them as your first greens?

- part 3 could be to sell a few items on the AH, and use the profits to buy something else on the AH.

And for completing the questline, you maybe get a class specific (or maybe trade specific) set of tools, gear or equipment. And a good bit of exp for each step.

WoW’s got Talent!

As for talents, well, I think several bloggers have pointed this one out, as well as a good partial solution: quit charging for spec changes. My thoughts would be as follows;

- again use a quest line that walks you through the very basics for each class (and a walkthrough/intro to each spec!)

- possibly give “cheat” abilities, and a test dummy, so that you could try out each basic talent function, with a full 10-20 talent points, that last as long as you are in the training room.

- re-spec for free until level 40, or maybe 60, and reduce the cost overall, at least until you hit max level.

Trinity –now in 3 flavors!

The basics of raiding in 4 simple quests. (or maybe 2 or 3, if you aren’t a hybrid) One quest introduces the whole concept, and the other quests would give you a ”boosted” ability to do a particular function (tank, DPS or heal), within an NPC group, and would teach (and test) you for each one

-1 NPCs get to escort YOU while THEY tank, DPS and heal. You just get to watch and see what the whole thing means. It can be run a couple times to see different tanks, healers and DPS classes. Ideally, each run would show a “near miss” by one of each type (lose threat, over aggro, and poor heal) to highlight the functions. Each one would only be 2-3 minutes and 1-3 encounters to keep it short and watchable.

-2 How to DPS and watch threat. IF you do too much DPS, the baddy pulls off the NPC tank and eats your face. If you stop soon enough, the NPC healer might be able to heal you and let the tank regain agro.

-3 How to tank. The NPC player-mobs can pull *some* aggro, so you have to work at it, but as long as you keep the bad guy beating on you, you “pass”.

-4 (or 3, if your class doesn’t have a tank spec) How to heal. The basics: keep the tank alive, help out keeping DPS alive, and don’t get so close to the baddies that you get healer aggro.

The Fourth Wall

While I'm sure you know that there is a mega-metric shit-TON of online information available about WoW online, not all the new players do. Even the most basic places like wowhead, wowwiki and thottbott are (for me at least) daily helpers in my meanderings. But clearly, a LOT of folks don't know they exist.

How could you approach this? Well, in-game, it would require that the game break "the fourth wall". That is, the game (or a movie, or a book) exists within 4 walls. Three walls internally, with a fourth wall separating us (the reader/player/viewer) from the action.

Breaking the fourth wall is when the actor, in-game-avatar, or whatever, talks directly to the reader/viewer. You know, when the actor looks directly at the camera and winks? Or when the comic book character explains just how silly the situation is to the reader? THAT is "breaking the fourth wall".

And, as far as I can tell, there's no reasonable way to pass on the needed information (about online resources) without blatantly breaking the 4th wall, (and very much breaking the immersion) Maybe THIS would be a good use for loading screens?

Then again, I don't think Blizzard much cares for the non-official info sites, even if they are the lifeblood of their game.


On the Road Again

Balth has now joined a guild. It’s a fairly social guild, though they do have groups running ICC in 10 and 25. I know very little about them, and have only done the weekly with them. We shall see.

He’s also been doing the oddball activity… he now can buy Oracle Mysterious eggs and is only 2 more days from being exalted with the Kaluak.

He’s also run through both Razorfens. While an easy task for him, it actually came in handy, since Iggy had the chance to run through Kraul the other day.

OH! He has now soloed “Threat from Above” a few times now. I ran it once, and BARELY survived, ran it the next day with 75% of my health, then died twice on the third day (not sure what happened, but it was ugly) and then finished it.

And he and Kattastrophe have run ZulGurub a couple times for the cat and raptor mounts. No luck as yet, but I’m slowly building rep with the Zandalar tribe :)

A couple more thoughts about guilds.

I actually had a Vent interview with another guild that was a bit more of a raiding guild, but I don’t think I’m a fit. Basically, it would be a moderately long wait before I *might* get a spot, and even then, they are taking the fairly hardcore approach that a given raider may be switched out for another raider, so that they can progress. (If a given fight favors a given class, and is not ideal for another class, they will get switched)

I would much rather play in a guild that lets me play as a regular team member, even if it slows down progression, and not simply be a guild component/tool, that gets taken out of the “tool box” and put back when a better tool is a better fit. (yes, I’m calling myself a tool :P )

Please note that this is simply my own preference, and not a reflection on the guild in question. The folks that interviewed me were quite nice, and VERY honest about the situation. Clearly, they have a goodly number of players raring to go and that want to play that way. I just don’t think it’s for me.

Kattastrophe has had her own progression and guild work. I think, over the course of the whole weekend, they put in 8-10 hours beating their head against the wall that is Sindragosa.
Kattastrophes Happen That’s just too much time in the Citadel for me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Iggy Pops and Burns

So, um yeah. That's li'l Iggy. With a Beer mug in one hand, and a dagger in the other. Thanks to fishing, ganking and a niggling for a change of pace, he's now pushing level 25. It's interesting, and a COMPLETELY different style of playing.

And I desperately needed help figuring stuff out.

Thanks to some great guidance from Gnomeageddon as well as a nearly verbatim following of Euripides/Critical QQ step by step fire mage guide, I am slowly making headway.

Part of my reason for getting a bit "Mage-y" for this post is actually inspired by the mis-information post that Larisa did over at Gnomeageddon's site. It was a moderately tongue in cheek list of "real" mage attributes, and among them was agility. While the "Agi" itemization stat is NOT important, player agility most certainly is:

OK, admittedly at Patchwerk you can just stand on one spot and spam one or two
nuke buttons. But apart from him and a couple of other exceptions, you actually
need to be pretty movable as a Mage. Somehow you’re supposed to manage to move
out of crap on the ground or evil things coming for you through the air, and
STILL make your several seconds-long spells go off, resulting in pretty yellow
numbers on the screen. A good Mage can nuke on the move. If you’re slow like me,
there’s nothing else to do but to place yourself in front of the dummies in
IF,running back and forward, until nuking on the fly is a second nature to you.

Agility. It’s a must-have for your mage.

When it comes to soloing/questing, I cannot emphasize strongly enough, how important mobility is.

It's kind of odd, actually when I think about it. After all, on Balth, I have to run hither & yon to get into melee range. With Iggy though, it's the opposite: I run hither & yon to stay OUT of melee range. Even with mana shield, a mage is one squishy little target, so mobility (and planning!) are crucial.

Take for example, the Tharil'zun's Head quest. It's listed as a level 25 group quest. Tharil'zun himself is a level 24 elite, with 3 or 4 mobs around him.

Getting there is pretty straight forward;

- 1 target a mob with pyroblast at max range.
- 2 do an immediate followup fireball
- 3 throw a fireblast and (usually) kill the mob, even before he gets to you.
- 4 if he's still not dead (and is likely running in fear to the next group) nail him with Arcane missile (you don't need to turn to keep him in front, AM does it automatically.

If it's a caster, tap counterspell between 1 & 2.

Just repeat this step 6-8 times, and you are nearly there. There's one mob you may get that pulls a second (often a caster) This one is a *little* different:

- 1 target first mob with Pyro
- 2 sheep the second mob (I save casters for last, since they melee like little girls,I can stand toe- to toe with them)
- 3 wait until the 1st mob gets close then Frost Nova
- 4 run (or blink if you're bored) away to give you some room
- 5 (& 6 & 7) Fireball/fireblast/missile the mob to death
- 8 pyroblast the second mob and continue as normal.

The only thing I didn't mention is make sure you have you buffs and protections up (arcane intellect, frost armor, dampen magic and mana shield. For the above trash, it isn't really necessary, but it helps.


So, all the trash, up to Tharil'zun's group is gone. The big problem now is that there is usually a "guard" mob, right at the entrance to his little area, and to get him in Line of Sight (LoS), you have to get REALLY close.

So sheep him, and run out to a good distance, and target him with pyroblast, then fireball and (sound familiar?)

Do the normal pyro attack & kill the second mob in the area, which will leave you with Tharil'zun and another mob right next to him. As mentioned earlier, Tharil is a 24 elite, so you need to be able to focus on him without interruption, so take out the guard first:

- 1 Pyro the mob/guard
- 2 sheep Tharil
- 3 kill the mob/guard (fireball, etc)
- 4 RUN LIKE HELL! (just run far enough that you get out of combat and Tharil goes back to his hole, all alone)

Now, re-buff, mana and heal up, and head back in.

- 1 Pyro
- 2 fireball with a fireblast follow (maybe, depends on distance)
- 4 run to distance and fireball. (possibly fireblast as well, if mana looks ok)
- 5 when he gets close, BLINK
- 6 he should be low now, and if you have the mana, just arcane missile him to death
- 7 if he's still got a good amount of health, run & dodge until Frost Nova comes off CD, and just burn him down.

Fireblast and arcane missile are spells I like A LOT, but they cost a ton of mana, and depending on how often Tharil manages to clobber you (and your mana shield) mana may be an issue, so be careful.

What I *hope* comes across is that during this fight, you need to be running, dodging and using all your mobility (and your mobility reduction on him) to stay alive.

It's not that hard and I never died trying it, but I did have to run to safety a couple times before I figured it out.