Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary - Guild Woes

I really wanted to write about Blizzcon and all the cool things I did there and the things we have to look forward to, but I sat down during lunch today and found out that my guild leaders have decided to quit the game (or at least go on a mega-hiatus that will last for some months). Worse yet, they promoted me as the new guild master. Damn.

Making matters worse, two of the people I had actually met at Blizzcon and shared happy times with have suddenly gotten really cranky about the guild's problems. One has already announced her departure from the guild, and the other will probably leave if he hasn't already.

What a day.

So now I'm at a crossroads, inadverdantly becoming a guild leader when I didn't ask for it (and if you know anything about leading raids you know it's not an enviable position to be in at all). It looks like we may try to get an officer meeting going tonight to discuss what to do.

I don't know if we'll break up, if we'll regroup and recruit, or just start over with a new guild tag. I do know that there are a lot of people who I liked playing with in guild and I hate to see people go. When Bloodl├╝st broke up last year it was terrible, with ex-members all over the place in different guilds. We kept a private channel running for everyone to log into so we could keep chatting.

The creation of Oporotheca saw our reunion, and it was happy times as many of us came back together under the same guild tag.

Fast forward another year and we're not even sure if we're going to stay together, and it sucks to be put at the helm of a leaky ship. The question is how bad is the leaking and can it be repaired. There are new people I've met, enjoyed playing with, and I'd hate to see leave for other guilds.

I never asked to be an officer. I have a very strong sense of duty, and now that I've been made guild master I know I'm going to feel bad if this guild goes under even if I wasn't the one who set it motion.

I don't know where we're going to go from here, but I know that I won't be able to do this without the other officers. I don't want the burnout that happened to our old GLs to happen to me. If the majority of them are not on board then in all likelihood we'll disband the guild.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hana Will Be at Blizzcon

Hey guys, I'm going to be heading off to Blizzcon later this week. Now that Blizzard has finally released the con schedule I've been planning which panels to hit, and I'll probably take a look at some Diablo III stuff too.

I won't be doing any kind of live-blogging thing (I probably would need a laptop for that), but I hope to have some good things to say once I get back. I do live in southern California though, so I'll be home in the evenings. Whether or not I'll be in shape for blogging is another thing...

On an unrelated note, I did a lot of honor grinding this weekend on my 59 following the course I set myself in my kinda twinkish post for 59 and 60s. And I've updated that post with the new information I've uncovered.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

[Druid] My Raid Tanking Debut

Notice anything funny in this picture? (Besides the crappy UI.)

Hana is a bear! And I'm tanking Lord Jaraxxus!

It's not exactly what I expected for my raid tanking debut (not counting the time I bear-tanked Gluth in my moonkin spec/gear). After I made my decision to go feral for my off-spec I made some heroic attempts, figuring that I would pinch tank as an OT if one was needed, but by and large my guild wound its way through Ulduar without me needing to go bear. We had enough backup OTs that we generally got by, and besides, I'd never raid tanked before. Well, I had as Gillien in 10-man Naxx, but never as a bear. I only had a half dozen heroics under my belt; if that.

Thursday night was not a good night. We were short several people due to various circumstances that all decided to converge on one day (and a few people who professed to burnout as well) so our usual 25-man turned into a 10-man Trial of the Champion run for those people who did want to run. Problem was, both our MTs were feeling the burnout and our usual OT didn't have any interest in 10-man. Several people wanted to run though, including me, so I said, "I've never tanked this before, but I think I have the gear."

35k health unbuffed. It seemed like a healthy number. I had two piece T8.5 for my feral set, BIS bear boots from Ulduar (according to Rawr), and other leather pieces I'd picked up in 10 and 25-man Ulduar.

One of our ret pallies said he had a decent tank set, and he did. It was also T8 and Ulduar off-set pieces he'd picked up. He was geared and enchanted. 31k health. I'd never seen him tank before, ever, but evidently he took it seriously enough to put a set together.

The healers said let's give it a shot.

So we did.

With two off-spec tanks and some sloppy deaths we still got Icehowl down to 3% on our first attempt. Even then we probably would've killed him if someone hadn't died to his charge, causing him to enrage and then slay me so fast the release button came up before my brain registered what had happened. We beat him though, unlocking the next boss for us, which no one in guild had seen yet; Lord Jaxxarus.

I watched the Tankspot video for this fight a bit nervously. There had never been a boss I'd tanked that I hadn't participated in as a dps or healer first. This was brand new to me. Progression. I like tanking, but it's a high stakes job. Obviously it's easier for me if I have first-hand experience regarding what happens, even if it's from a different point of view. When my raid started discussing whether we stay in for the fire or we kite I didn't know what to say. I just said something to the effect of doing what I saw in the video, which looked like some modest kiting, presumably away from the green fire and volcanoes on the ground.

I was still feeling a bit hazy on what I had to do (even after watching the video), but decided I would just do what I knew to be most important; hold aggro on the boss, blow cooldowns if needed, and don't stand in the green stuff. Surprisingly, that strategy was enough from a MT standpoint. Our pally was the add tank because paladins have far more ways to get snap aggro on recently spawned mobs than a bear (Avenger's Shield, Hand of Reckoning, Righteous Defense…) and he did a fine job picking up adds. Most of the problem seemed to be with the heal team actually. The shaman we semi-pugged (friend of a guildie) kept dying early, leaving us short a healer for the majority of the fight.

Even so, we beat him on our second try. There were only three of us alive at that point, and I was dead after having blown every cooldown I had on top of a healthstone and health pot. If you're gonna die as a tank, that's the way to do it. We were down to a single healer in the final moments of the fight so I really can't blame him for not being able to keep me up, and in any case I held on long enough that the dps was able to finish him in the few seconds that the raid was without a tank.

It felt good.

Maybe we didn't do 25-man, but at least the people who wanted to raid had a good time and got to down a new boss. And I finally got to try out my bear tanking set and see how it held up. I'd have to say I'm relieved to know that I can tank 10-man ToC, because it probably means I'm good for pinch tanking in 25-man Ulduar. Once I was raid buffed I was breaking 45k, which is pretty nice!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

[Paladin] So Long Prot Healing

Ever since Wrath came out it's been a little odd that the most viable 2v2 arena builds have been a fairly deep ret build (with some holy), and a really deep prot build (with some holy). The "proper" holy/prot build one would instinctively expect a healing paladin to use doesn't have enough damage, utility, or survivability in 2s and thus finds its popularity in 3s and 5s where its ability to heal two targets at once (and quickly, with Holy Shock) is more useful.

The holy/ret hybrid was nerfed at the start of Season 6, which fueled the migration to the deep prot build. With all the tankiness talents in the Protection tree, a prot healer would have a lot of stamina, a potentially everlasting Divine Plea, and most importantly Touched By the Light, which would rocket the paladin's spellpower above and beyond what he or she would have in a holy spec.

The trade off would be the loss of Holy Shock (no more instant heals), Illumination (but with an everlasting Divine Plea, who needs it?), Beacon of Light (which isn't that useful in 2s anyway), and other deep holy talents. But on the other hand, the prot healer gains a 20 second stun and a silence with Avenger's Shield. If one had a durable arena partner, say a DK or a warrior, then the instant heal might not be necessary, and the stuns and silences can lock up an opposing team's healer pretty well.

It's not hard to see why prot healing became popular for 2s. But it looks like it's going to end. Ghostcrawler wrote a couple things yesterday.

We are going to fix the specific scenario where a PvP paladin with a Prot build but spell power gear can heal for more than a Holy build in the same gear. We want to do this without messing up the Prot paladin trying to tank in PvE.

We will probably not make this change before the end of the current Arena season, but you can be thinking about your teams for season 7 with this change in mind.

Touched by the Light helps to solve a specific problem which is that paladins do both physical and magical damage and Prot paladins need both for threat (and damage). It works fine when the paladin is in tanking gear, and in fact was designed so that paladins wouldn't need to mix tanking gear with caster gear as they did in the past.

It is not balanced for a Prot paladin who decides to wear spell power gear. At that point you're double-dipping.

We have no problem with Prot paladins in PvP, but they need to be there because their survivability is an asset, not because they can out-heal an entire tree dedicated to healing.

There is a fine line between creative use of game mechanics and something that goes against our vision for the game. It's always going to be subjective. If the Retribution tree ended up being better at tanking than the Protection tree, or the Shadow priest was a better healer than the Disc tree, or the Marks hunter had a more powerful pet than the BM hunter, we'd take similar action.

While I'm sure the deep prot healers will not like this change unless holy gets some sort of buff to make up for it, I'm rather pleased with it from a design perspective. It just never made sense to have such a strong healer come out of the prot tree, to the point that being holy just isn't worth it for 2s.

My focus hasn't been on 2s at all this season, and I think some of that may have been because holy just isn't as strong in 2s versus 3s and 5s and I have to use this spec for PvE as well (or give up my tanking spec, which I don't want to do either).

While I do occasionally see prot healers in 3s, they're much rarer. It's more likely I'll see a Beacon of Light up signaling that they're deep holy, since a holy paladin has a much easier time dealing with split dps (Beacon one target, heal the other, and use Holy Shock for quick heals when the switch happens). When I'm playing 3s and 5s I generally Beacon one melee and then Sacred Shield our hunter (because everyone likes focusing the hunter). This lets me heal a melee while also covering our hunter.

In 2s there's not much split damage so Beacon's much less useful. Also, 2s focus a lot more on shutting down one player while burning the other, which a holy paladin is not very good at.

What I would like to see in Season 7 is a little more utility in a holy paladin. Shamans have their totems (which drop four at a time now!), Hex, and Wind Shock, druids have Cyclone, priests can Mana Burn and Psychic Scream. Paladins have a stun on a 40 second cooldown if they spec for it. Unless they're blood elves with Arcane Torrent, that's about it for CC and interrupts. We heal, and we bubble, but Hand of Protection only stops physical damage, making it of little use against DKs and ret paladins and just about everyone at range. Only warriors and rogues are really stopped by it, and a warrior can break it if he wants to.

I can't say I'll miss prot healing having never tried it, but I hope paladins in general get something to make up for it, especially for 2s. I'd like to give it another shot in Season 7.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Honoring Grinding for the Level 50-59 or 60 Post 3.2

Updated 8/18/09 - Additions in bold.

Even as I was trying to come up with a title for this post I thought it was retarded. This is a really obscure bit of info for a really obscure set of people, but seeing as I was caught in the twink dragnet for my not-really-twink, I figure there may be someone out there who will find this useful.

Post 3.2 has separated out the career twinks from the regular folk just passing through by putting people who turn their experience gain off into separate battleground queues. Regular folk will gain experience and thus be able to level up through battlegrounds alone. Twinks will never fear that they will level up under any circumstance.

In theory this is a win-win situation. The twinks who crave fights of skill where gear is not a factor (because all twinks are geared more or less the same) will only fight each other and the regular folk won't get two-shotted.

The problem lies with fact that the twink population is not all that high at any given moment. While lower brackets such as 10-19 and 20-29 generally have enough twinks playing that WSG and AB matches still happen, the higher, less popular, brackets from 40-49 and above don't have enough people who've stopped experience gain to actually have a match. When my 50-59 matches were going I generally wouldn't see more than five or six twinks, tops, and that's counting Alliance and Horde together. It's not enough to get a match going.

Also caught with the twinks are people who would like to take a break from leveling and just PvP a bit (and maybe pick up some gear). When I was leveling my paladin I actually parked in AV for a while and picked up two pieces of level 60 PvP gear. I never considered myself a twink. Not even close. I was just playing games for fun.

Now that's no longer possible. I doubt anyone will get more than one piece of Warlord/Marshal gear (if they're lucky) without turning leveling off. I'm pretty sure I'm no longer in a position to do so through battlegrounds without leveling, but I'm a determined person, and I'm missing one last piece of Warlord gear. If I can't get the honor through BGs, I'd find another way. I am the person who got the Horde Bros Before Ho Ho Hos achievement without the ability to fly. Once I set my mind to something I can be notoriously stubborn.

So for those who turned off XP at 59 or 60 and still want some honor, here's what you need to do.

Go to Silithus and pick up Report to General Kirika from an orc in Cenarion Hold. He's right by the flight master when you come in. That quest sends you to the Horde base in Silithus. If you're Alliance you'll get a similar quest to go to Marshal Bluewall.

When you report to General Kirika, she'll give you Scouring the Desert, which has you collecting Silithyst from geysers scattered around Silithus. Remember saying "LOL, we're fighting over sand" back when this feature was introduced? Well, this sand is free honor now.

After you do the first turn-in you can continue to grab any geyser you see and do the turn-in. There is no repeatable quest for it. You just grab and go.

If you're on a PvE server grabbing Silithyst will flag you, but fortunately Silithus is all but abandoned these days. The chances of getting ganked are extremely low, and if you're in it for the honor you probably have some gear to back you up.

How is the honor gain compared to BGs? It's a hell of a lot less exciting, but it's comparable to a 50-50 win rate without factoring any bonus honor from doing the PvP daily. If you normally win, the honor gain will be lower. On the other hand, if you're trapped in 40 vs. 18 AV, farming Silithyst geysers is actually better.

It'll feel a little slow at first while you get used to the geyser spawn points, but once you know them it only takes a couple minutes or so to run back and forth between a geyser and the Horde camp. Each turn in is worth 19 honor, which works out to about 450 honor per hour if you assume two and half minutes per turn-in. It's not great stuff, but surprisingly decent. With practice and better knowledge of spawn points I was able to bring that down below two minutes a turn-in, making for just over 600 honor an hour.

I would not advocate doing this for the entire Warlord/Marshal set, but if for some reason you just have to have it at level 59/60 this is a viable way to get that last bit of honor. I got over a thousand honor last night as I listened to music and just ran back and forth across Silithus.

There's a particular circuit I liked to run as Horde. I'd run the blue route in general, but would loop in the red multiple times. I found the spawn rate there is really good. Only once I could no longer find any in the red I would return to the blue route until I hit red again, at which point I'd repeat.

This image is from Wowhead and the pins mark the known spawn points for the geysers. I've found out that the running the red circuit is all your really need to do (as Horde). There's really no reason to go anywhere else. I used to think that all the silithyst spawn points on the map were tied together, but I think they're actually arranged in clusters. The circuit highlighted in red (plus a node or two to the southwest) are all in the same cluster, so if one node is collected, another one immediately spawns.

I've actually seen it where I will grab a node and before my very eyes I'd see the new one spawn in. I ended up turning my camera every which way as I ran back to turn in the silithyst so I could look for the next spawn. If I was lucky, the new one would spawn where I could see it and I'd be able to go directly to it for my next pick-up.

This made gathering so much faster. You just need to be aware of where all the local spawn points are (it's the ones to the southwest of the red that tricked me earlier) and you won't have to run all over the map anymore.

For some reason I would very rarely see two "new" nodes up while running back to make a turn-in, and I'm not sure how that happened. It's possible there are always two nodes up in a cluster and I just don't normally see them because I'm always picking up whatever I find, but in any case, they don't change the minimum of one I've always found in that general area. I did over 50 turn-ins without heading anywhere else.

When you grab the silithyst it puts a debuff on you that makes you move about 75% speed. Travel form form and Dash will not speed you up. Mounting makes you drop the silithyst. But if you stay relatively close to your factor base it's not a bad run.

There is also a world PvP quest in Eastern Plaguelands that gives 19 honor per tower capture, but it takes about five minutes to solo capture each tower, and that doesn't include travel time between towers so it's horribly inefficient (and you also have to rely on Alliance to have captured the towers).

On the forums there's a lot of talk about getting twink-only battlegroups so the entire twink population of WoW can be consolodated into one battlegroup, but I think the logistics behind that would probably be horrendous. Blizzard has at least four different server clusters and they aren't physically located anywhere near each other.

Other people are saying that they just need to be patient and wait for people to get bored of the new content on their mains and come back to twinking.

Finally, there's a comment from a GM that was copied over at Twink Info that says Blizzard is monitoring the situation and is waiting for things to settle down before they make any decisions.

I don't think I'm gonna hold my breath. I never meant to make 59 my feral's permanent home. I just like playing her for PvP and I wanted to get my Warlord set. Once I get my last piece I think I'll turn experience back on, maybe level my way to 61 via PvP so I get one level of being in Warlord gear in AV (assuming Horde isn't still outnumbered) and then hit up Outland.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Beasts of Northrend Take 2

After our flailing around in 10-man Trial of the Crusader on patch day, we came back with our 25-man crew on Thursday. Our DK MT was theoretically "on vacation" still, since he was supposed to be gone the entire week, but he was online and said he would come as a tank-bot if needed. He just wanted/needed a break from leading the raid. So I took care of the invites, organizing the groups, setting up EPGP, calling out instructions on vent, and, noticing that we were a little short on heals, I hopped on Gillien to give us a second holy paladin. One of the other officers took care of healing assignments (with the caveat that if anything went wrong I was to be blamed for asking him do assignments) and away we went!

We didn't have nearly as much of a squishy tank problem on 25-man as in 10-man, because we had all our normal 25-man Ulduar tanks. That isn't to say that tanks didn't die but it wasn't nearly so much of a squishiness issue. The Beasts of Northrend encounter has a surprisingly large amount of leeway for an Ulduar-geared raid.

Our biggest issue was probably in phase 2 with the two jormungar worms where we lost a lot of dps due to the standing in poison clouds phenomenon. But even with several deaths there and an accidental tank death in the phase 1 to 2 transition, we still made it to Icehowl (phase 3) on our first attempt.

Our second attempt still had accidental tank deaths. I'm not entirely sure what happened, so all I can say is that our heal team (including me) wasn't on the ball. Our warrior tank died in the phase 1 to 2 transition again (poor guy), our paladin tank died sometime in middle of phase 3 (this is the one I feel bad about, because he was my assignment), and our DK tank died towards the end phase 3. And then our cat druid leaped into bear form (wearing his kitty gear!) and called out "Overheals on Blackleaf!" as he grabbed the boss.

There are players you just love to have when things go wrong and Blackleaf is one of them. Icehowl was down to about 10-15% when our DK had died and though Blackleaf was getting hit pretty bad, he held up surprisingly well for not being in tank gear! I spammed Holy Light whether he needed it or not (to hell with my mana pool if we're going to wipe anyway!), and he stayed up long enough for Icehowl to go down.

It was sloppy as heck. We must've had at least 8 people down (we lost dps to poison clouds again, and one healer got trampled by Icehowl), and there's no way we could've done that in an Ulduar raid. Beasts of Northrend is really easy compared what Razorscale was like when Ulduar first came out, probably too easy. It really feels like just a gear check, and a light one at that, since we beat it without even focusing that hard. I'm pretty sure if we'd had a better geared tank for 10-man on Tuesday we would have beaten it then as well.

I've noticed healing this fight that Gormok (phase 1) is the most healing intensive for me. I really watch my assigned tank because of the stacking debuff he puts on his main target and I don't dare risk a Divine Plea to get mana back until Gormok is safely attacking the other tank. Even then I'm hesitant to do so I'm watching the other tank's health jump up and down.

This results me getting to around 30% mana by the end of phase 1, which is uncomfortably low for me. I get a lot of it back in phases 2 and 3 though. Because the healing load is lighter I can heal with Divine Plea up without worrying that someone will die due to the 50% healing penalty.

Protip for pallies: Using Blessing of Protection to remove Gormok's debuff from your tank(s) before the worms begin attacking in phase 2 is very nice. That's less damage that has to be healed through.

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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Am I the only one that feels 3.2 has come too soon?

I was hoping the patch would wait a little longer. I didn't feel like I was done. My paladin's arena ratings are middling around 1750 for 3s and 1700 for 5s and took a slight slide for the week (they're still good, but not as good as I think we could have done) and Blizzard hadn't done the usual "it's the end of the arena season!" warning. Does that mean when I log in tonight I'll still be on my teams? Heck, what about the arena points I haven't spent yet? I have enough to buy the Furious legs and I kinda would like them if I don't have a chance at earning anything else.

In other news my feral druid is about 7800 honor short of earning her sixth and final piece of High Warlord Gear (yes, that's how long I've been sitting in that bracket) and I don't know if I'll have the ability to get the last piece while I'm still 59 given that I'll start earning experience in regular BGs and I don't know if there are enough twinks to sustain an active 50-59 bracket. I'm a bit nervous. I'll probably try normal WSG and AB for a bit, just to stick a paw in the water. I have 2/3s my experience bar free for XP so there's room for experimentation.

And last but certainly not least, my main, my balance druid, is still glaring at Yogg-Saron and wishing that we'd had more time on him. We were so close! I think another week of solid attempts and we would have gotten him.

Now the patch is landing, my guild leaders are taking a pre-planned raid break that involves a trip across state lines (so they won't be online), and it looks like I'm in charge of the raid tonight. Good show! The calendar says "Ulduar Fun" tonight, but now it looks like it's going to be Trial of the Crusader fun as we take on a brand new boss without one of our MTs and one of our best healers. I expect that the new raid instance will be as buggy as hell too.

I primed my tanking gear last night on the off-chance I'll need to go bear tonight. I have a surprisingly good feral set on Hana. After I (finally) made the decision to go bear for her off-spec I've been pretty diligent about picking up off-spec pieces and enchanting them. It might not hold up for Trial of the Crusader though, which is probably my biggest concern should we end up short on tanks. I'm pretty sure I'll be fine as an OT in Ulduar.

I figure we'll give some solid attempts on the Northrend Beasts, and depending on how that goes we'll either keep at it or head back to Ulduar and do some clearing. With only one boss in the coliseum a week I figure we'll be making good use of the raid lockout extensions. We don't need much gear from Ulduar 25 anymore, barring the stuff off Yogg and Hard Modes, so we might as well clear to Yogg and just leave a raid ID there until we get him down. I almost wonder if that was part of the reason for adding the extension functionality in the first place, since there's obviously not enough to do in a raid instance with only five boss fights and no trash. Most raid guilds just aren't done with Ulduar yet.

In any case, one of the first things I'm going to do when I log in tonight is take a romp around in my new bear and cat forms. It would have been sweeter with a new moonkin form as well, but I get a kick out of the fact that Hana's new cat form looks like a kinder version of Scar from the Lion King.