Monday, May 31, 2010

Selling Myself Short

I don't know if other people who have multiple 80s ever run into this problem, but I've been habitually regarding my feral druid's dps as "crappy."

This is the first expansion I've had more than one max level character with a main spec as dps, and being that I raid, I have a good idea of what feels like good dps and what feels... underwhelming. I know meters aren't everything, but they're a good tool for evaluating one's own performance and as a feral druid I've gotten used to feeling inferior to when I'm on my moonkin.

But then again, it's inevitable that given less gear and less time invested, that whatever my feral does should feel pretty "poor" against my main.

Then today I went on an ICC 10 pug on my feral. It was a good run, clearing out two wings before people failed on Blood Princes (between a lagging healer and an inexperienced range tank it wasn't so good). One-shotting Putricide was definitely a highlight though. After the raid was over and people were leaving, the raid leader thanked me for my "leet dps."

I was stunned.

My crappy dps alt? The one with virtually no drops from ICC until that [Whispering Fanged Skull] dropped today?

But going by Recount I had set a new personal best for dps on Saurfang. I was either #1 or #2 on almost every fight, even crappy ones for cats like Rotface. I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn't the worst geared in the raid, but not the best either. Definitely middle of the road in that pug.

On a whim I decided to take my dps and compare it to the benchmark of my own guild, using the World of Logs report for our most recent raid. As in, if I was applying for an open feral spot in my own guild, would I take me?

I stack up better than I thought I would, but I can't say my feral compares to our rogue and our ret paladin, her gear still isn't there yet (get rid of those ToC 5 leather boots!), but I think if she was full ICC 10 geared she could be competitive. I would consider her as a backup raider if someone wasn't able to make it.

So maybe I'm not so bad after all. Maybe for my gear I'm actually doing just fine.

Friday, May 28, 2010

[Paladin] How I've Missed Arena

Ever since my Season 6 3v3 team broke up, I've haven't been able to hit my arena stride again. My S8 3v3 team was doing so-so, but it wasn't a good comp and communication between our two dps was lacking. Target switches weren't being called out in time, CCs weren't being coordinated, and the team lead doing the callouts wasn't always that aware whether or not it was possible for his orders to be carried out.

That's not to say he was a horrible player, I think he would have been fine as someone on my S6 5s team, but I don't think he was the right personality fit for the hunter I normally play with, especially as the lead dps making the call-outs. And then he decided to transfer to another server, which ended our 3s run.

So last night my long-time hunter teammate and I resuscitated our 2s team. We've spent portions of Seasons 4, 6, and 7 playing 2v2 together, so it's safe to say that even if we're not the best duo around, we at least have a good idea of what we're capable of.

For instance, if I'm the focus and I can reasonably take the hits, I don't try to LoS any melee on me. I do stay in motion, but I keep them right where my hunter can hit them. If they catch me while I'm hiding I'll kite them over and around obstacles to bring them in view of my hunter, because the less he has to move the more damage he can do.

Similar he always lets me know where he drops a trap so I can get opponents off of me.

I'm not sure what the plan usually is for a hunter/holy paladin duo, but we seem to work well as an endurance team. We don't burst anyone down unless they're undergeared, but the longer the match goes on, the more likely we're going to win. If we're fighting another dps/healer combo I usually gauge our progress by the other healer's mana bar. It might not feel like we're winning when our focus target keeps getting healed to full, but if my bar's at 90% and they're a third from empty I know we're going to make it.

We didn't run into any decent resto druids last night, which pretty much meant that none of our matches ended up being a half hour long, but we did run into a bunch of double dps and a horrible ret pally/holy pally duo. We only had a couple fights where we just got worked, and they seemed to follow the pattern of: "If we can survive the initial burst, we're probably going to win."

I think our most memorable matches were against an unholy DK/holy pally duo and a feral druid/ret pally combo. The DK/holy pally match was fun for me. It didn't end very quickly, and had a couple scary moments, but I got to kite the DK all over the Dalaran arena until his healer ran out of mana. I pretty much kept mashing my Cleanse button to keep diseases and Chains of Ice off me, maybe a Hand of Freedom every now and then, maybe stun the DK to give myself a little breathing room to heal if Holy Shock every five seconds wasn't enough.

I admit I like the feeling I get when I imagine my opponent seething "I just can't kill this holy pally!"

The match with the feral druid/ret pally combo was memorable because we had so many close calls. Though we ultimately won, it felt very much by the skin of our teeth. The feral druid wasn't shy about using his interrupts. I was Cycloned a lot, and he knew enough to go to bear and hit me with a Feral Charge after the second or third Cyclone wore off so he could lock me up for a longer than he would have gotten with diminishing returns.

The truly annoying thing about Cyclone as a paladin is that you can't bubble out of it. Trinket is the only way.

But communication was good between us. I liked that I was able to call out the Feral Charges before they happened, I was never surprised by them, and my partner managed to Deterrence or Disengage out of the worst scrapes, since he was their focus fire target. I don't know how, but he always managed to have something come off cooldown just when we needed it the most.

It was a long fight considering our opponents were double dps, but we managed to whittle down the druid before he could get a heal off (because he was good about healing himself) and then from there it was just recovery mode. We both had less than half health, my partner nearing the 25% danger zone, but I managed to heal him just enough to stave off any immediate chance of death, and then as the fight continued and his health bar rose it became apparent our remaining opponent wasn't going to have a chance.

I could relax.

I also have to say that my Divine Favor + Holy Shock macro saved our butts so many times. If I only had a split second between CCs, it would still be enough to heal over half my hunter's health bar and then I'd have an instant FoL the next time I got out of CC. I have it bound to the tilde key so it's very close by for those emergency moments.

I'm not sure we'll play again this week, but it felt good stepping into the arena again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Abandoned By LFD

Did you know that if everyone leaves your dungeon group before the end of the instance and you requeue to find replacements you're placed back at the start of the queue rather than being listed as a dungeon in progress?

Good job.

I had queued as dps on one of my alts and arrived at a particularly unpopular (but totally doable) instance. After waiting for 18 minutes I was raring to go. Everyone zoned in, shuffled around a bit looking at where we were, and then before buffing started, our paladin tank bailed.

That was unfortunate, but whatever. I once went through three tanks in a Sunken Temple run, so having a tank bail because they didn't like the instance wasn't exactly unheard of. I started the requeue process.

All the dps selected their roles, but the druid healer canceled the check, and then bailed. Then one of the dps bailed. I asked the second dps if he was going to bail too, and I didn't get a reply. He just teleported out of the instance, and then bailed.

I sighed and requeued by myself, and found myself looking at another 18 minute wait.

Good job, guys. Good job.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Remembering My Roots (Not a Resto Pun)

I started playing my feral druid again and decided to try getting in on some pug raiding action. After a couple attempts to get into an ICC 10 and an ICC 25 that fell apart before I even got in the instance, I finally got a positive response. But before I got the invite, the raid leader whispered me asking if I was fine with doing just Lower Spire. Going further than that would depend on how the raid looked.

Though I would have liked to go further, I realized it was Sunday and my guild raids on Monday so the chances of me getting into a different ICC raid were looking pretty slim. Besides, I might get a drop or two that would boost my gear score on a server that's obsessed with "you must be this tall to ride." So I agreed.

After the invite I found myself in a group for ICC 10 that consisted of a group of 7 guildies and 3 puggers.

In terms of gear, the guildies were a group that would have been laughed out of any "respectable" raid. They were not undergeared though. They were just perfect for starting out ICC 10. The worst of the puggers was on par with their best, I was a little better (though still with no ICC 10 or 25 gear), and the best had quite a few pieces of ICC 10/25 gear.

We cleared Lower Spire with only a couple wipes on the optional raid weekly, Securing the Ramparts, which the pug hunter repeatedly moaned about. Only after being reminded that the reward was five Frost Emblems, worth two and a half boss kills, did he finally consent to a third attempt, which ended up being successful.

The guildies seemed to be in good spirits though. Friendly bunch. If they complained it must have been in their private guild chat or vent because they were nothing if not civil.

We wiped once along the gauntlet to Sister Svalna, but otherwise got her Frost Emblem. Then we went over to Festergut and they admitted that they'd never done him before.

Since I rather liked the group, they made good time, no extended AFKs, no complaining about wiping, I offered to explain the Festergut fight to them. Though I will have to say that I never want to type out an explanation about Festergut again. I've done Festergut as a tank, healer, melee dps, and ranged dps, and it's a fight where each group has different things they need to be aware of.

We gave Festergut a shot, and wiped not very far in. He'd only managed to get to the third inhale. I couldn't tell for certain, but I don't think the healers were equipped for two healing all the damage in Festergut. I remember having to heal my eyeballs out when my guild first got there and we had three healers, though granted we did not have a 15% ICC buff at the time.

When a second shot didn't produce better results, the hunter said no more, he was out of ammo and he was leaving. (I found it amusing that not bringing enough ammo was his reason for leaving.)

I thanked the group for the run and said that if they usually ran at this time on Sundays and needed a spare I'd be happy to go. They said they would keep me in mind and I dropped group.

The raid leader then whispered me saying that he was surprised that someone who outgeared his guild would be so patient with them. Most geared raiders won't give them the time of day.

I replied that I really wasn't that much better geared than them, so I understood their inability to get into raids of their chosing. Goodness knows I started responding to LFM ICC with the fact I've cleared the LK and five HMs on my main since my feral's own achievements aren't anything to write home about.

Apparently this guild was a group of friends that wanted to raid together, and while not mind boggling stellar players, they seemed a good, disciplined group whose primary fault was lack of gear due to their coming on the raid scene so late. Again, I was much impressed with the pace of trash clearing and the lack of AFKs.

Playing with them reminded me of my early raiding days in TBC, when everything was still exciting, and back before people got jaded and short-tempered around "scrubs" who couldn't plow through content while overgeared. Back when giving a boss a couple good shots was all that was really expected.

My current guild started ICC 10 with about the same gear score they did, so this guild, coming late to the game as they are, is perfectly well geared for the content they're doing, and they seem to realize that. They're not disappointed by not clearing farther and they're not having any mammoth screw-ups. They know the fights they've done and they're learning for the fights still to come.

I don't know that I'll get a chance to raid with them again next week, but even if they don't clear 3-4 wings in a single night, I think they're a fine bunch to run with and I could do a lot worse.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

[Druid] Settling in as a Tree

I'm still working on that tree thing. After getting Grid set up properly and running a few practice heroics, I jumped into a ToC 10 pug and managed to not embarrass myself. I do, however, wish that I had a bubble like a paladin. Barkskin just doesn't cut it. Faction Champs is remarkably fun as a tree though. Didn't get silenced or interrupted once, and it was really easy to just run around and keep healing. Nerf restos!

The ToC 10 run was blessed with idiots, which in most cases would annoy me, but because I was there to learn how to heal, well, nothing prepares a person for healing bad situations like people getting into bad situations. It's not like I was there for gear.

We wiped 4 times due to various acts of stupidity, such as people not changing the aura around their feet to dark for Dark Vortex on the Twin Val'kyr, or people not getting on or behind ice patches when Anub was burrowing. We cleared everything, but it was far from the cleanest run out there, and it was only ToC 10!

What pleased me the most was that the other healer was a similarly geared resto shaman and I was mostly able to keep pace with him on overall healing. It was a good sign. I might not be a very good resto druid yet, but I may be passable.

My guild got to Lich King again last night, but due to a misjudgement about how much time we had left to clear and a couple bad wipes (so not on farm yet), we didn't actually get to kill him. On the bright side, we got the Blood Queen hard mode down and our first armor token went to our DK MT. This puts us at 3/12 for hard modes.

We'll be starting over with a fresh lockout for more hard modes next Saturday, with the goal of downing Marrowgar and Saurfang, maybe Rotface or Festergut if time allows. Our resto shaman will be there this time, which should make things easier.

I had hoped to do some practice tree healing on our farm bosses in ICC last night, but time and deciding to do the BQL hard mode didn't allow it anywhere except for the Valithria fight. It was our first time four healing it and it went ridiculously fast. I almost caught up to our shaman in pure output. Of course, neither of us got near our paladin. We left our poor priest outside again (his heal spec is disc). I don't think he's ever gone through a portal on her.

I told our paladin that healing as a druid is like using a sprinkler when I'm used to a firehose, but I think I'm getting comfortable with it. I just need some more practice so I can be a proper backup healer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

[Druid] Not the Best First Crack at Heroic ICC

I was waiting to get our first crack at heroic ICC tonight, but when we reached Marrowgar there was something different about me. You see, I was a tree.

Our resto shaman couldn't make it tonight and our paladin healing lead really did not want me to bring my paladin since the role we were missing was our shaman's awesome raid healing. I argued that I'd probably heal better on my paladin, having healed as one since TBC, but the raid agreed to wait while I respecced and regeared myself.

You see, we're a small raid guild with only 11 regular raiders, and we hate benching. When our shaman is missing, we're down to our paladin and our shadow/disc priest who does the uber swapping mania. Two healers aren't enough so I often went on my pally if we needed a third.

But we're doing hard modes now so raid comp in all likelihood matters more, and if I can learn to play resto as adeptly as holy, then it would not hurt as much for a healer to be absent.

Since we picked up a ret pally with a prot off-spec who can fulfill the backup tank role I used Hana's off-spec for, I had offered to look into making a resto set. I built out what I needed in Rawr and read over Keeva's fantastic new resto druid guide.

The only thing is... since no one had responded to my offer on my guild forums, I didn't bother assembling anything because I figured people weren't interested. I'm known for sometimes going a mile farther than necessary, so I chalked it up as more than I had to do.

Until tonight. So I ran around Dal grabbing gear and gems while our raid was clearing trash. After they summoned me our JC/enchanter cut and enchanted the lot for me, and in I went, with jack squat but theoretical knowledge of how to play a resto druid.

HoT the raid, right?

Crap... my Grid's not set up for HoTs because paladins don't need them and as a moonkin I only bothered to add poisons and curses.

Wild Growth when three or more targets can be affected.

You know... that doesn't work so well when everyone's scattered around during a Bone Storm. It requires more heads up healing than I can manage as a nub tree. We eventually got people to be better about staying roughly in the middle of the room though so might not be so bad later.

Convenient keybindings are good.

It would have helped if Nourish wasn't the 7 key, Lifebloom wasn't 0, and my Nature's Swiftness/Healing Touch macro wasn't the 3. Things that didn't matter as a sometimes heal bar for a moonkin turned out to be horrible as a tree.

In a nutshell, I sucked. I didn't even do half the healing of our holy paladin and our disc priest.

It's a very different mentality healing as a druid than a paladin. I can't help wanting to top everyone off, like immediately.

Still, we managed to get Marrowgar to 50% despite the horrible healing on my part, and in the end decided to save him for later. We were making a lot of mistakes, and I think if our shaman had been there we would have been able to handle it better.

So I went back to moonkin and we pushed on to Heroic Deathwhisperer, which we heard could be 2-healed, and she was. She was a one-shot. So was Heroic Gunship. (I would have cried if we managed to wipe on that.)

We were a little skeptical about spending much time on Saurfang, given that most 10-man guilds seems to skip him and come back later, but we gave him a shot and found out that we really weren't doing too bad. We had a heart-breaking 10% wipe as our best attempt of the night.

But because we wanted to kill the Lich King for our eleventh, who sat out last Monday, we switched back to normal and killed him so we could continue with the rest of the instance on Monday.

I'm thinking I might ask our priest to stay shadow on Monday so I can get some tree form practice in on our farm fights.

Final note as a nub tree who assembled her gear too fast: As I was writing this I just realized I still have my feral glyphs in my off-spec. Way to go!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We are Kingslayers

I know, I know. The 15% buff just went live this week, but we had gotten to phase 3 few times before last night, so I think we would have downed him regardless. Our last attempt had a flawless phase 3 and only a single hiccup in phase 2 where we lost our holy paladin and had to battle rez him.

I'm very proud of my pokey little 10-man guild for downing Lich King, for sticking with the 10-man strict format, and still beating the majority of our server's 25-man guilds to the punch. I'll admit, being adding to the GuildOx Hall of Fame as Skywall's server first 10-man strict kill is a nice pat back too.

One of my guildies pointed out that with our kill we're now ranked #80 in the US for 10-man strict. It's pretty cool, but I attribute that more to a lack of popularity with 10-man raiding than how quickly we sped through ICC. Last month was particularly brutal for our raiding schedule since 2 of our 11 raiders had night shift problems that made it difficult if not impossible for them to raid.

We ended up canceling a couple raid nights and temporarily moving a couple more to accomodate absenses.

We're back to our normal raid schedule though, and the night shifts are pretty much done, so we're hoping to rack up some hard modes now.

We also need to get our ret paladin into our next Lich King kill, for being the stand up 11th raider in a 10-man raid guild who volunteered to sit out last night. I really hate benching people, which is why we only have 11 active raiders in my guild, and for someone to offer to sit out on a night where we were all very sure of a kill is very sporting of them.

Now I need to read up on hard modes. It'll be like relearning some fights all over again, I'm sure, but it should be fun!