Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My First Night of Patch 3.2

I was a good girl and had the patch completely downloaded and installed before I left for work yesterday morning (not doing a repeat of my 3.1 Ulduar disaster where I finally got online an hour and a half after raid and totally missed our first downing of Flame Leviathan). So of course that meant everyone else was having connection issues and the raid didn't happen as planned.

We ended up with about 16 people online at raid time. After some asking around (and witnessing multiple DCs) we found out some people couldn't stay connected and some couldn't even get online at all. We started inching closer to 20 people a half hour later, but were missing key people we'd want for a proper 25-man, so we decided to attempt a 10-man Trial of the Crusader. With our MT being absent and our other MT not feeling up for raiding, I switched to feral spec on my druid and pulled in one of our substitute tanks; a DK. He'd tanked 25-man Ulduar when we needed a third tank before so I assumed his gear was up to snuff. We got two healers, and more than enough dps.

While waiting around for another healer, I said that if we had another tank I would switch to my paladin to heal, and this is where our new moonkin guildie surprised me. I knew he had a prot pally as his former main, but when he brought said prot pally to the raid… wow… His prot paladin was very well geared. I think only our two main tanks and maybe our usual OT/third tank are better geared than him. I hadn't expected that knowing that he had come from a 10-man guild. He'd never raid tanked for us before since he'd apped as his moonkin.

So I switched over to my paladin and in we went.

The raid encounter is Northrend Beasts, which is composed of three substantial mini-boss fights with no chance to drink in between. They have no trash and I think that they're largely intended to serve as a gear check given how easily they can be accessed. Amusingly enough for us, there was no strat to be found on WoW Wiki or most anywhere else at the time so we watched the only video we saw available and then played it by ear.

The first mini-boss is Gortok, a magnataur, and he applies a stacking debuff to the tanks that takes 30 seconds to wear off so they have to periodically switch. In addition to that, he sends snobolds out to latch on to people and randomly stun them. Needless to say, it's bad news when they land on a healer. All dps has to kill the snobolds as soon as possible so that player can get back into the fight.

It's not that it's impossible to heal while a snobold on one's head, but the stun is unpredictable and it would be very bad to get stunned in the middle of a Holy Light cast.

We had a very good first couple of attempts on him, but as we fought him it became apparent that our DK tank was not quite up to snuff. I don't know if it was solely a gear issue, since he had done OT work for us in 25-man Ulduar. I'd think that having tanked Ulduar 25 he should be able to handle the first boss in 10-man Trial of the Crusader. But he kept dying, a lot. There would be times where he would die within the span of a couple global cooldowns.

Now, it's possible to keep someone up when that happens. It's just not pleasant. Prior to 3.2 holy paladins would Holy Light bomb their assigned targets to keep them up. With a high crit rate Illumination would suffice to keep their mana pool up. Now Illumination has been nerfed, making HL bombing undesirable. What's more is that holy paladins aren't supposed to need this practice anymore when healing a properly geared tank. I think had we made one more attempt I could have kept him up much better, but it would have been at the cost of having any mana for phase 2.

Which we did get to 2-3 times. Acidmaw and Deadscale involve two jormungar worms, one stationary and one not. One exudes a paralytic poison and the other fire. Anyone getting poisoned has to run over to the fire worm and get the poison burned off (ouch!). We didn't get to do this phase for very long since the DK would die so early on (and our prot pally/moonkin got to enjoy his moments with the new and overpowered Ardent Defender), but it was enough that some of us got a feel for the poison clouds and how the worms burrow and reposition themselves.

After we called it, we talked about the outcome a bit and now I'm wondering just how hard the DK had been hit by the nerfs. He did say that he lost about 3k health, going from 33k unbuffed pre-patch to 30k post, which is a fair chunk of health. Not to mention he'd taken an armor nerf as well. Considering one of our two MTs is a DK as well I'm a little concerned about what that will mean for our 25-mans.

A group of us reconvened post-raid to farm the new 5-man normal mode in hopes of getting the The Black Heart trinket. It's an upgrade from the old Essence of Gossamer and because it comes from normal mode we can run it as many times as we wanted. We fiddled around with the group make-up a bit and ended with me going prot on my paladin (since I want the trinket on both Gillien and Hana).

The 5-man is very short and can be done in about 15 minutes once everyone knows what they're doing. We probably did it about 5 times last night (and no tanking trinket, though I did get Tears of the Vanquished for my holy set).

The first fight involves a 2-minute long intro and then some mounted combat. The "minion" riders are easy, but the champions themselves are a little annoying. Not only do you have to unhorse all three of them, but as long as any of them as still mounted, the other two can get up and walk over and get new mounts. You stop this by repeatedly trampling them while they're walking to a new mount, which makes me feel a bit terrible. Aren't we supposed to be champions and representatives of our faction?

After they're all dismounted (or if the party wipes) then the three of them have to fought on foot. This poses a couple problems.

1) They're scattered all over the place, making them annoying to gather up for tanking purposes.

2) Everyone (including the tank) will have their weapons swapped for lances.

It's rather embarrassing to realize that the reason your Hammer of the Righteous can't be used is because you're currently equipping a lance and your tanking weapon is still stashed away in one of your bags. Aside from that, everyone else in the party really needs to be ready to run to the tank. I generally would tag one mob with Avenger's Shield, taunt a second with Hand of Reckoning, and then run over to the third, saving Righteous Defense for an emergency. With luck, all of them would then stay on me. But sometimes the human warrior's whirlwind would mow over a team member before I could get him and I got to witness Ardent Defender in action when the newly 80 resto druid alt bought the farm.

Fortunately, it's possible to graveyard zerg the first boss fight so between bubble wall, Lay on Hands, the new AD, and some spot healing from the dps I actually stayed up until she ran back.

The second fight is mostly a tank and spank, though depending on who you get you'll either have to turn around (even if you're the tank, and the game gives you fair warning to shield your eyes) or you'll get some weird memories that look like shadow versions of previous bosses (and Hogger, though I didn't get him). Eadric the Pure was ridiculously easy. Argent Confessor Paletress wasn't difficult either. It's just a matter of picking up the memory add before it stomps somebody.

The third fight is the Black Knight. He's not that difficult either, even on heroic. Phase 1 is just him and his ghoul. The ghoul rises up a little later, after you engage him, so just be ready to taunt him if you're tanking. Phase 2 he has army of the dead. I drop a preemptive Consecrate and then just spam my usual 969 rotation. Some of the zombies may get lose and chase other people. Just taunt them back. They don't do a lot of damage individually. Phase 3 reverts back to more tank and spanking and then you're done!

I'm sure there's more to it than that, but for a decently geared party it's really not hard at all. It's quick and a good way to farm abyss crystals. I think we ended up with twelve of them by the time we decided to call it. Very profitable.

And for my final activity of the night (though chronically I actually did this before raid), I logged on my 59 feral to see what my future would be in BGs. I logged in to see a beautiful black kitty. Apparently I'd left myself in cat form the last time I was on. The black cat's not much to look at when it's standing still, but is quite attractive in motion! The bear form isn't too bad either.

Someone was next to me by the mailbox when I logged in and asked me to shift back and forth so he could see the new forms. They're definitely in improvement.

So… into the BGs. I queued for all three. AV was sadly still a wash. I got in to see 40 vs. 18 (I guess the Alliance don't care if their twinks level, or Horde still won't queue) and left because WSG had popped too. WSG looked awful, with 2-0 in Alliance favor, but AB had also popped so I entered that last. I started the match fresh, on my new 100% speed mount, and it went exceedingly smoothly.

I got to see the new bonus honor buff where you get 50% more honor if you fight by a flag (no more fighting on the road!), but even with that I only got about 170 honor for a match and approximately one bubble of experience. I heard that two bubbles is common in the lower levels. It's a good pace for leveling I think, but I don't want to level and the honor gain isn't good for the amount of experience I'm getting so I may have to figure out another way to get my last piece of Warlord gear. At this point I might have to give up on this bracket, but I at least want to finish the set! Sure, I could buy it later (and have a much easier time of it), but that's not the point! I want to pose in front of the Dark Portal at level 60 with my High Warlord set and say "This is me! You're gonna eat it, Outland!"

Okay, maybe I don't want to say that, but I do want to finish my set. It doesn't mean anything really. I'll outstrip the gear so fast. But it's just something I always wanted to do. My feral was created back during vanilla WoW, on a PvP server, with a bunch of coworkers, where we talked about all PvPing up through the honor system when we hit 60. We never got that far. People went back to their old servers, but I still played my feral every now and then, and I still thought about getting the PvP set. That's mostly why I still want it. Just for old time's sake.

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