Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Short Strat: Eye of the Storm

Welcome to the Eye of the Storm edition of The Short Strat, the show where we take complicated battleground strategies and condense them into one easily pasted message. I'm hoping that by making these strats simple and copy-able, it might provide a reference to get people on the same page.  These strats are not meant to be comprehensive by any means. 

As always, if you have an alternate strategy, please submit it via comments and I will include it in the strat reference section of this post.  Please keep in mind that all explanations need to be kept under the 255 character limit for the default WoW chat box.

I also wanted to point out a great link given to me in comments on another post.  Cynwise runs a great battleground/PvP oriented blog which can be found here.  Not only is she a fellow 'lock, but she has some great posts about strategy here and PvP gearing here.  Definitely worth a trip over there. 

If this goes well, then eventually I will clean these up and provide an index page on here to facilitate quick reference, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse.  Let's see if anyone finds these actually useful first.  So, without further ado...

Eye of the Storm Brief Overview
The Eye is a contested floating piece of rock in Netherstorm in the Outlands.  The battleground itself is sort of a mash up between base defense and capture the flag.  A base is denoted by a flag and there are four of them here: Mage Tower (MT), Draenei Ruins (DR), Blood Elf Tower (BT or BET), and Fel Reaver Ruins (FR or FRR).  You capture a base by having the highest amount of bodies in close proximity to the flag return location.  This location is observed as a small, dark circle that sits directly in between two base flags.  Over time, the faction bar in the default UI will swing red or blue depending on the number of folks nearby.  There is a gray "transition" area that will make the base neutral.

In addition to the base capturing, there is a flag spawn in the direct center of the battleground.  A right click on the flag will capture it for you, then you will have to return it to one of the return locations held by your faction.  Death drops the flag where you are and allows anyone nearby to pick it up and advance it.

Teams of 15 players (3 five-man groups) attempt to accumulate points over time until a maximum (currently 1600 as shown in the default BG user interface) is reached.  The more bases you own, the faster you accumulate points.  Additionally, each time you return the flag you gain points.  The amount of points you gain per flag return scales with the number of bases you have.  Having more bases yields more flag point per flag return.  First to maximum wins.  There is no time limit.

For reference, here is the map of the Battleground:

Short Strat Reference
Be sure to type /bg before pasting to make sure it goes to the battleground chat channel.  My first two are basic mirrors of each other, the first being more Alliance friendly while the second is more for Horde due to the proximity of the bases to the start points.
  • G1 to MT, G2 to DR, G3 to BT or FRR (whichever has fewer enemies). Always keep three to protect, extra two help where needed. Always fight near the base! Call out incs. Ignore the damn flag until we have three bases capped.
  • G1 to FRR, G2 to BT, G3 to MT or DR (whichever has fewer enemies). Always keep three to protect, extra two help where needed. Always fight near the base! Call out incs. Ignore the damn flag until we have three bases capped.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five Unconnected, Irreverent Thoughts

Today I present you with three five short, unrelated, and perhaps ill-conceived thoughts from my crazy, demon-addled brain...
  1. If you haven't heard some shit about a Cataclysmic Raiding Transformation, just go Google "WoW Blog".  The only word I don't think has been said on the topic is "Fuckin-A".
  2. Just once, I want to pretend to have a sudden onset of Turret's in the stalls of the Men's Room.  Maybe then that asshole next to me will stop snoring and ruining my perfectly peaceful BM.  
  3. In Strand of the Ancients, if you're fighting on the beach while the rest of us are up freezing people who are trying to click on the relic, you need to do the world a favor and roll a Quit. 
  4. Being chain stunned for like 20 seconds by two Rogues is just insulting.  Especially when you live through it, and kill them both. (Good Heals were involved)
  5. There are more fees involved in closing on a house than there are Druids and Rogues on the all Druid and Rogue PvP all-star teams I keep finding in my BGs.  Srsly, it's like fighting in a haunted forest or something with shit popping out at you all over.  I'm not sure how that analogy holds up to closing on a house except that I feel equally baffled.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Short Strat: Arathi Basin

Welcome to the Arathi Basin edition of The Short Strat.  The goal of The Short Strat is to take complicated battleground strategies and condense them into one easily pasted message.  It has been said that a lot of times leadership is lacking in BGs, and I'm hoping that by making these strats simple and copy-able, it might provide a reference to get people on the same page.  These strats are not meant to be comprehensive by any means.  I will start with a brief overview of the battleground du jour and then begin the short strat reference section with my personal preferred strat. 

If you have an alternate strategy, please submit it via comments and I will include it in the strat reference section of this post.  Please keep in mind that all explanations need to be kept under the 255 character limit for the default WoW chat box.

If this goes well, then eventually I will clean these up and provide an index page on here to facilitate quick reference, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse.  Let's see if anyone finds these actually useful first.  So, without further ado...

Arathi Basin Brief Overview
The Basin is a contested land in the Arathi Highlands of the Eastern Kingdoms.  The goal of the battleground is simply to hold the most bases for the longest amount of time.  A battleground base is denoted by a flag and there are five of them here: Lumber Mill (LM), Blacksmith (BS), Stables (Stabs), Goldmine (GM), and Farm (usually referred to as farm).  You capture a flag by right-clicking it.  After a short, few-second cast time (which can be interrupted) it will change to a neutral color and begin the automated process of being "capped".  If left alone, the flag will eventually change to your faction's color (blue if you're Ally, red if you're Horde).  During the neutral time, it is possible for a defender to re-capture the flag in the same manner, thus defending the base.  It will then return to it's original color.

Teams of 15 players (3 five-man groups) attempt to accumulate points over time until a maximum (currently 1600 as shown in the default BG user interface) is reached.  The more bases you own, the faster you accumulate points.  First to maximum wins.  There is no time limit.

For reference, here is the map of the Battleground:

Short Strat Reference
Be sure to type /bg before pasting to make sure it goes to the battleground chat channel.  My first two are basic mirrors of each other, the first being more Alliance friendly while the second is more for Horde due to the proximity of the bases to the start points.
  • G1 to LM, G2 stay Stabs, G3 to BS. Always keep three to protect, extra two help where needed or head for an extra base. Fight near flags when you can! Focus on burning any enemy healers. Call out incs.
  • G1 to Mine, G2 stay Farm, G3 to BS. Always keep three to protect, extra two help where needed or head for an extra base. Fight near flags when you can! Focus on burning any enemy healers. Call out incs.
  • 3 Defenders at Stabs, 3 take&defend LM, 3 take&defend GM rest take and hold BS, report all incs.
  • 3 Defenders at Farm, 3 take&defend LM, 3 take&defend GM rest take and hold BS, report all incs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Month

So here's how the next month is going to go around here.  Normally, I try to have a post up daily.  I'm pretty much a creature of habit, so it's as much for my sanity as your reading pleasure.  With that said, there are several factors that may affect the frequency of posting around these parts during the next month or so. I don't want to bore you with apology posts and crap like that.  Instead, I just wanted to lay out what's going down and what our goals are for the next handful of weeks so that when we do miss a day, y'all can be just like: "I know why that is... I feel well informed."  Or something.

Anyways, reason one is that it's obvious that the game is sort of in a lull.  It isn't the first time I've said it and I know it's obvious.  One thing I don't want to do is write uninspired crap because I'm trying to force 5 posts a week out of my butt.  (Or my wife's butt, but that's a touchier matter in that if I reference it much more, I may end up on the couch tonight.)  So I'm not going to force myself to write if I don't have something at least mildly interesting to say.  Also, I'm going to try to keep things short and sweet around here.  With spring officially here, I'm sure we can all appreciate spending a little less time on the Feed Reader, yet I'm sure we all strive to stay well informed too.  Right? 

I'm going to continue with the whole QotD trend and fish for conversation here when I can.  I like comments.  You like comments.  It should be win/win.  If there's something you notice that either makes a good question or you think I should post about... I'm certainly accepting submissions.  Email or comment both work.  Contact information is on the "About Us" page up there on the right.

Reason number two is not game related, but probably equally as vital to my sanity.  This Wednesday, Fuu and I will be purchasing our first house.  It is with equal parts trepidation and excitement that we approach homeownership.  There will be lots to do.  Like moving.  And flooring.  And moving flooring.  Okay, you caught me, my house isn't that cool, but it would be sweet to have moving floors.  Like a mystery house.  Scooby Doo and the gang could come disrupt my warlocky schemes.  It'd be grand and exciting. 

No, instead we'll just being doing things like painting and making things look "pretty" so my wife feels successful as a proper adult, homeowner type.  I... I am going to have a man cave.  Or a lair, for the non-druids.  Yes.  There will be a lair.  It will have many electronics.  Handle it.

I might even try to write about some of the homey stuff... in WoW context of course.  I mean who doesn't wanna hear the strat for the Masterbath Floor boss?  Only if I can make it clever and funny though, we'll see.

So yeah, it might get crazy alternating with quiet around here.  Such is life.

Here's an idea I have that I'm hoping to get some feedback on too.  I've been doing a lot of PvP lately to break things up and I remember a while ago we had some "Copy and Paste Strats" for the new heroics.  Remember those?  Well, I want to do the like for battlegrounds.  First of all, I need to figure out the character limit for one message in WoW.  Then, I'm going to post my personal favorite strat for each BG (broken up into several posts that I will eventually join up with a link).  Finally, I'll ask you guys for any suggestions of your favorite strats (but they have to be within the character limit), and will add those to each BG post as I go.  In the end, I envision having sort of a repository for basic BG strats.  Nothing in depth and long, just enough to paste at the start.  What do you think about that?  Does such a thing already exist that I don't know about?  Please shoot me a link if so.  Otherwise, stay tuned.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pit Stop

Inside the house, seated around a wooden table are Midnight, the Succubus and Berry Blue, the Voidwalker, a sputtering candle between them.  Berry Blue appears to be polishing some sort of curved, brass instrument while Midnight braids a black leather cord.  

Berry Blue blows on the end of the instrument, producing a deep, smooth note.
Berry Blue: Yeah, that sounds niiiice.
Midnight draws back an arm with the braided cord and sends it whizzing through the air.  With a sharp crack, the tip lightly flicks the candle, plunging the room into darkness.
Midnight: Mmmm.  I know what you mean.
Berry Blue: Nighty, now why'd you go and do all that?  I can't see a damn thing!
Midnight:  Scared of the dark, big boy?
Berry Blue: Hardly.  There's just something romantic about candle light.
Rapid knocking sounds at the door, followed by small squeaks of barely contained excitement.
Berry Blue: Well I wonder who that could be?
Midnight: At least we got a few minutes of peace.  You'd better go let the little bugger in before he claws up the door again.
Berry Blue: Why don't you get your lazy ass up and go do it.
Midnight: Because I don't play fetch like that, dear.  My doggy is a whole different style.
Berry Blue:  I ever tell you, you put the "man" in romance? 
Midnight: What does that even mean?
Berry Blue opens the door and Spaz bursts in.  The Imp is followed closely by Sparky.
Spaz: Whattare-yous-guys-doin-in-the-dark? Here-have-somelight!
A fireball flies from the Imp's hand, grazing the candle alight before ramming into the wall, leaving a charred circle behind.
Berry Blue: For the love of...
Midnight: I'll whip you silly you little runt!
From a back room, Abigora the Priest pokes her head out, startled, and looks around.  Her big eyes survey the scene silently from the back.
Spaz: Themaster-sent-thedog!  Looklook! He-has-a-urrrrmmmm-thingy!
The minions all stare blankly for a moment as Sparky passes along his message.
Berry Blue:  Bring it here, pup.  I know what to do.
Midnight: He said give it to me, Berry.  I have just the place for it.
Berry Blue: What do you know about fine jewelry?  All you have are spiked collars and restraining devices.
Midnight: Oh zip it.  I have a rather nice jewelry box.  And I'm certainly not about to tell you where it is.  Give it here, pup.
Sparky seems to be ignoring the two as he stares straight across the room at Abigora.
Midnight: I said give it here, pup!  Don't make me whip you too!
Abigora: Sparky, did Fulguralis take that from Fuubaar?
Sparky nods
Abigora: Hmm, so she'd taken to wearing the thing.  I wonder if... No, he couldn't know.  Then what does he...?  No, no matter.    He probably believes it to be...
Midnight: Lovely, she's babbling again.  I need to get her a right, steamy book.  Maybe with pictures.  Then perhaps she'd quit being such a flake.
Berry Blue: Oh leave her be, Nighty.  She just hasn't found the one yet.  Once she falls in loooove she'll be...
Abigora: Fool minions!  Stop your incessant chatter.  Decedereful has need of this amulet right away!  Go. Go!  Take it to her.  Poor girl, she's probably...
The Priest wanders back into her room, mumbling to herself.  Midnight and Berry Blue look at each other, then at the amulet still held in the Felhunter's mouth.
Midnight: Well I'm not going anywhere. You guys can go traipsing off looking for the Death Knight.  I've got to paint my nails.
Berry Blue: I don't think so, you sly cat.  He sent the thing to you.  You have to go.  Otherwise it won't fulfill the compulsion.  You know that.
Spaz: I'mgoing-I'mgoing-I'mgoing! You-guys-can't-lock-me-up-again.  Na-na-naaaaa.
Midnight: Well if I have to go, I'm certainly not leaving you here to try and woo the bookworm, Berry. 
Berry Blue: Ha!  Trust me, she's not my type.  Besides, someone has to keep your fine ass outta trouble.
Midnight: As if I need your protection, you big blue... Hey!  Where'd the dog go?
The door stands open and Sparky has apparently left already.  Spaz darts out, yelling incoherently.
Midnight: Right.  Well we'd best make sure they don't get lost in any case.
Berry Blue: After you, Nighty.  Ladies first...
Midnight: I'm hardly a lady.
Berry Blue: You said it, not me.
They leave.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Roads Diverged

It's not that I chose any road less traveled by, I just like Robert Frost. I actually chose both roads in this case.  We'll call this Bifurcated Post Day.

Road 1 is a semi-response to the whole PvP shenanigans that my wife talked about yesterday.  I don't have too many thoughts, because I've been PvPing on my DK a lot longer than she has on her Spriest.  I'm sort of saddened that she won't go healer for me, since having a healer in a BG is often a rarity but can totally make you feel OP, but such is life.  The problem now is that we need to teach her the art of being ranged.  She doesn't run away like a good clothy should.

Now, part of it isn't her fault because Rogues just suck.  I swear, the only way I've ever been able to beat a rogue is outlast their plethora of stuns.  And boy do they have aplenty.  I recall a recent article that I can no longer find to link (edit: duh, here it is on WoM, thanks Deyndor for the comment and link and thanks Thespius for the inspiration!) whereby the statement was made along the lines that "a well played Rogue is damn near impossible to beat 1 on 1."  That's probably not an exact quote (Here's the real quote from the above link: "Now, not because I think they’re OP, but because when a rogue is good, it’s near impossible to survive. "), but the point was that, as things stand now, if you avoid one of those bastards popping out of stealth, stun locking you, and having his or her way with your corpse... it's more than likely because they didn't see you than any skill on your own part.

This isn't to say Rogues are OP, as the original poster also pointed out.  We don't want Rogue nerfs, we want other class buffs.  The whole increased health pools across the board in Cataclysm will help.  So would giving classes more opportunities to counter the stun abilities.  The problem is that it's incredibly frustrating to sit there and watch yourself get stabbed together and be able to do ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY nothing.  Sometimes you can like, trinket out and maybe pull off a miracle, but you really need to be twitch-tastic to have a good shot as survival.  Otherwise, just wait out that damn spirit timer (which is ALWAYS just resetting when I die, I swear) and get back in the game.

The short explanation here is that neither Fuu nor I am really geared enough to survive yet, but we're working on that.  I think PvP as a whole will be a lot more enjoyable with bigger health pools.  Everyone will be a lot harder to kill, but shouldn't that just make for more epic encounters?  At the same time, some of the BG mechanics may need to be reworked to account for this.  I don't have any cool examples off-hand.  I can offer one piece of advice to anyone who might be looking to break into PvP to stave off boredom like we are... if you want to gear up fast, hit up Wintergrasp.  It is hands-down the best way to bank honor and snatch up the starter pieces.  After that, you're on your own :-).

Road 2 is just a short point regarding knowledge retention.  I think one of the most overlooked facets of raiding is Raider Retention Rates (RRR).  We talk a lot of about skill, situational awareness, and such.  I don't ever see much about the impact of RRR, yet, to me, this is one of they key components to any successful raid group. Raider Retention can be looked at from two angles.

First: do you have the same group of people from week to week?  I've been a part of two distinctly different raid groups now.  One had a very high turnover.  The other was a very consistent group.  They both have been pretty successful at raiding, but I think one spends a lot less time at it.  You guessed it, the consistent group.  It's pretty obvious that when you're switching a lot of people in and out, it can add an extra challenge.  However, having a consistent group isn't all sunshine and butterflies either.  Scheduling can be quite difficult, as well as catering to individual needs and issues in order to keep the group cohesion.  RL has a bad habit of getting in the way of an otherwise good, efficient crew.  That's just the nature of the game, but it should hardly be overlooked.

Second: how well do your raiders learn?  Knowledge retention is the key to putting things "on farm".  It does you no good to learn a fight, master it, and then forget everything you learned.  A big part of raiding is locking those lessons learned away.  This is one thing my current group excels at.  We may spend a lot of time learning things and not have a whole lot of time to begin with, but I feel that we go from "learning" to "farm" in one or two runs.  It's a nice feeling.  In a group with a high amount of substitutions, you could expect several more "tweener" runs when you're transitioning from "learning" to "farm".  A lot of times, those can be the most frustrating since half the group may believe their beyond the content, and the other half is still new at it.

Raider Retention Rates are definitely something to be aware of when choosing a raiding group or leading one.  Each group will have it's own identity and rate, and a good leader will need to work with that to succeed.  Also, you don't want to choose a group that doesn't fit your desired raid style.  If you're a quick learner, you may be really frustrated in a high-turnover, low retention type group.  At the same time, you might be forced into such a group if you just aren't able to commit to a more stable group.  There are certainly trade offs.

This was just a little topic that was needling at me since, like I said, I feel it's pretty undervalued.  What works for one type of group might not work for another and you can really tell a lot about a group by the strategies they employ.   A group with a lower retention rate will really see the value of a simplistic strategy.  After all, the less that has to be explained, the less that needs to be retained.  A group with a higher retention rate may benefit from a more complex strategy, since many of the lessons learned and skills perfected will be carried over to future encounters.   Usually more complex strategies take the emphasis off gear as well, allowing you to rely more on player skill that time able to gear up.

I don't think approach is essentially better than the other, since each can most certainly lead to success.  I just wanted to point out the differences as they occurred to me.  I'd been writing and getting a lot of great, varied responses about ICC strategies lately, so it sort of fit.

That, and bifurcated streams suck.  That's all I have to say.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Melting Faces with Mass Confusion" or "Is that Shadow Priest Drunk?"

Hey gang!

So Fulguralis & I have got the case of the burns.... well that didn't come out the way I wanted.

*Clears throat*

Let's try this again. Fulguralis and I are a bit burned out right now with regards to Raiding, instancing, Mail box dancing, etc.

"What shall we do Fulguralis?"
"I don't know Fuu? What do you feel like doing today?"
"Let's have a Sexy Dinner Party"

/dances around the room

3 hours later:

So we've come to the conclusion that we are going to begin the Ultimate Game! PVP!

Fulguralis is bringing Decedereful the DK & I'm Sporting Abigora the Shadow Priest.

"But Fuu... you don't know wtf you're doing! Isn't that a DPS spec?"

OMG I know!

Here's the thing, I don't really like pvp'ing on Fuubaar because melee is boring and I don't understand lolret. I've really enjoyed pvping on Abigora because Priests, in general, are fun because they have so many unique tools to use for healing & DPSing in pvp.

I started off Healing as Disc in pvp but I've decided that I want to melt faces and become giddy with excitement when my DoTs crit their faces off. Here's the thing... I'm a total Newb!

I need a new spec & a clue as to wtf I'm doin out there. Right now, Decedereful & I are just running the Daily Random Battleground and trying to work on exchanging our PvE gear over to Resilliance gear. Right now, I feel like a sitting duck where I'm getting murdered by Rogues and two shotted by Mages. It's ugly out there. Over the weekend, I had enough honor to buy two new pieces (neck & bracer) that put me over 22k health & 390 Resilliance.

I know that I'm no where near where I should be but I'm really enjoying myself even if I'm a free HK. I need to learn how to work with a DK as well as on my own.

Here is usually what I've been encountering while I'm doing my thing:
I buff everyone & mount up. I've been letting Decedereful pick the location & I just watch my back. Once we arrive at our location, we have been trying to pick as even of fights as possible. 2v2 or something like that. Either I get sapped by a rogue or a warrior stuns me instantly completely ignoring the DK. I use my trinket to get out of it & instantly try to blow my Fear bomb. If it's a rogue, I'm sapped immedietely and because splat. If it's a warrior, I've feared him and I try to throw a few DoTs on him. By this time, I'm around 15-50% of my health. I try to throw a bubble on myself and a Renew but it's usually too late.

Rince & repeat until time is up.

Sad & Pathetic I know.

This is a picture of how I want to roll into battle!

Can I be team leader? No? Fine just don't make me stand behind the Gas officers... who feeds these guys anyways?!

So here is my QotD for all of you:
Where is the "best" place to find out about Shadow Priest PVP? I've had a look over at and at some of the specs that they offer but I want your opinion.

DISCLAIMER: By me asking for your opinion, here are a few things that I'm NOT looking for
~ l2pnoob (I'm trying to l2p ;) hence the question)
~ lolwut? u sux (Well duh, I do sux but I want to unsux now)
~ Re-roll Horde (not sure how that helps but ok?)
~ Or anything that doesn't actually answer my question

Any help that is offered though is greatly appreciated since I'm such a clean slate.

<3 Fuu

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Putricidal Thoughts

The weekly on our server (Lothar) this week was Lord M in ICC.  Fortunately, we were able to run a second night this week to go in and wipe the floor withe first wing, which left last night as another learning night.  Rotface is still a bit of a challenge, but after some initial struggles, we clicked and downed it pretty easy.  Festergut is definitely "on farm" for us, so we're trying to learn Putricide. 

The short story here, is that we may want to go learn some of those other fights :-(.  Putricide sucks.

Here are some things I've learned so far:
  • Malleable Goo is awful.  I had totally forgotten about this mechanic.  It sort of gets lots in the deluge of exploding, glowing, gooey shit.  Suddenly I was all like: wtf happened to my cast times.  Oh yeah... MG.  Ugh, avoid it at all costs.
  • We adapted our initial strategy of basically running across the room, to staying more or less in the middle.   We move based on clear space, but the goal is to stay grouped together and at max range of the green experiment spawn point.  We're still working on this level of coordination.  It's great in Phase 1.  Phase 2 gets quite messy.
  • I'm thinking the Prof should be tanked closer to the GreenEx (TM) spawn point to facilitate a faster switch over.  I mean, if it's in your view already it's easier.  Getting on the GreenEx right away is a pretty big deal in this fight, as those extra seconds of being able to DPS can make or break you.  We're still a little slow on DPSing because there is just so much damn dodge, dip, dive, duck, and dodging.
  • I'm also thinking we should go with like a "three point movement" system.  I think I'll illustrate this one.  The key is that trying to stay in one area means you get a lot more of the crap in the same area in phase two, and you can find yourself quickly out of room. 
  • We have yet to see phase 3.  No thoughts on that at this time.  
  • For the record, we're doing this without the buff.  That's a big difference.  We're currently using the buff on "farm" content (the first wing), and then switching it off for the newer stuff.  I think this gives us a great balance of being able to go fast, yet still really tackling the full challenge of the raid.  How are the rest of you guys using the buff?  I sort of like the hybrid approach, but at some point we may have to admit that we're too timed starved to pull it off.  We'll see.  Cataclysm still seems a long way off and there's no reason not to make this last.
Okay, picture time.

It's a rough representation of the room.  No cheesy clip art this time, sorry.  You can see the table represented by a black rectangle in the back.  The room is vaguely circular, with two concentric circular patterns in the middle.  I try to use floor patterns as reference.  You can also see the GreenEx and OrangeEx spawn points denoted by small colored circles. 

The remaining rectangular, numbered zones are what I was referring to above for a "three point" system.  Currently, our strategy has all the ranged in zone one for a majority of the fight, with the Prof tanked sort of in zone two, skewed a bit towards the GreenEx spawn point.  It's great for phase 1, but phase 2 gets messy.

So here's what I was thinking.  For the first GreenEx, we start in zone 1 at roughly max range.  The Prof is tanked slightly to the left of the spawn point to facilitate quick switching.  Until the first spawn, we remain loosely scattered in 1.  Upon spawn, we all switch immediately to the GreenEx and let loose.  When it chooses a target, we collapse on the target and resume DPS (at this point any melee would engage).  Currently, we try to stack on a designated person for the duration of the fight.  However, the strategy breaks when either that person dies or they take a particularly bad bounce from the GreenEx.   For instance, there were times when "the" person was bounced really far away from everyone else with slime in the way.  Why have everyone else run to the one person?  Instead, the goal is to have everyone find the same zone, which doesn't move. 

When the first GreenEx dies, we'll probably be a bit scattered.  At that point, the group heads for zone 2, trying to group in the small inner circle (when possible).  The DPS open back up on the Prof until the OrangeEx spawns.  Then, we all switch to the OrangeEx and the chosen individual can kite along the outside of the circle.  That is their Kite Path.  We've had some trouble with keep stuff in range during the OrangeEx part, so this should solve that problem.  Depending on the path of the ooze, the person might have to run a bit wider or something, as makes sense, but at least there is a rough idea of where to be and work back towards.

When the OrangeEx dies, we go to zone 3.   Zone 3 is just a mirror of Zone 1, and the same strategy applies.  Afterwards, head back to the middle and zone 2 for the next OrangeEx, then back to 1.  Rinse Repeat. 

The benefit here is not only that you're all heading for concrete zones, but also that you're using more of the room.  A lot of the strategies I've seen advise very precise spots, but what happens when a goo gets dropped in your lap?  Maybe it's just because we're still learning, but it does seem like there is a TON of crap on the floor that prohibits us from coordinating well.  I want to try to minimize uncertainty and thereby maximize time spent DPSing without having to stand on a single, "point" location.  It takes time to find a character and then figure out how to dodge through the crap to them.   Assigning a zone allows for some predictive maneuvering.

Any thoughts or suggestions out there? 

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Reject Your Rules And Substitute My Own Reality

This is completely off topic today, but something I came across that some might find interesting.  Let me preface it by saying that I'm pretty terrible when it comes to the whole "i before e except after c" thing.  If you were raised in an English speaking country, you probably know the rule.  At least, it's something prevalently taught here in the states.  Still, sometimes to me it makes no damn sense, and maybe that has a little bit to do with my background in the German language as well since it's handled a bit differently there. 
Am I the only person that finds being bilingual confusing (not that I'm all that fluent in German any more or ever was, just that the fact of attempting to get there has probably screwed up my English to some extent)?

Anyways, I always feel ashamed of myself when I misspell an "i before e" word because, hey, it's Elementary my dear Watson.  Right? 

Well... NO MORE shall the mistake shame me.  Check this out.  Hardly a reputable source, I know, being but another blog.  Still, I <3 blogs and there are several notable exceptions listed even if the dictionary numbers aren't spot on.  I will believe!  (whew, got that one right first try).

Why do we still teach this rule?  Well, as noted, for most commonly used words, it holds.  It's a great "rule of thumb" but hardly an Absolute Rule.

For what it's worth (fwiw, I know: short hand rules), the worst culprit in my lexicon is... wierd.  I mean weird.  Gosh, that damn word is so screwy.  I feel like Elmer Fudd at a typewriter when trying to hammer it out.  Wewah-wewah-wewah...odd, you wascally wabbit. 

Got any other rules that suck?  Bonus points if they're WoW-related.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Sendoff

A light breeze shook the canvas of the tent, setting the taut walls vibrating and waking Fulguralis.  The Warlock sat upright in the cot he shared with his wife, massaging his temples with his feet hanging limply over the side.  Most Warlocks would not admit it, but sleep was usually not all that restful for any among the dark coven.  Being familiar with the demonic had it's drawbacks, vivid nightmares perhaps the least among those.

Shaking the sleep off, Fulguralis stood up and stumbled across the small tent towards the travel chests stacked in one corner.  A rickety stool stood in front of one stack, his wife's.  Fulguralis glanced back at the peaceful, sleeping form on the cot.  Two beady black eyes beneath drew his attention.  Raising an eyebrow, the Warlock lifted a finger and crooked it, beckoning the creature.

Sparky, his Felhunter emerged from darkness and slithered on silent paws over to his master.  Cocking his head inquiringly, the demonic beast sat patiently.  Fulguralis just stared, casting his mind out to his minion.  For a moment their consciousnesses warred for superiority.  Fulguralis fought the fire and darkness that threatened to consume and scour his mind clean of rational thought.  It was always this way when communing with demons.  In the span of moments, the Warlock asserted his own control, pushing down the fiery demonic inferno in his mind and boxing it neatly in a construct of his own creation.  The imagery was more symbolic than anything else, but Fulguralis couldn't help but admire the sparkling representation of a soul shard in his mind's eye.

Most Warlocks were taught the shard technique for controlling demons, but Fulguralis had honed the art over the years.  His mental shard was a perfect, crystal octahedron, smooth and diamond hard.  There were no cracks or flaws.  Such manifestations of uncertainty meant death or worse, possession, for the unwary practitioner.  It was elementary stuff for those who began to dabble in the dark arts.

Sparky looked back at him almost apologetically, as if the demon felt guilty about the struggle his master had to go through to retain control of him; he couldn't help his nature.  The Felhunter certainly didn't fight back as hard as he once did.  Still, such thoughts were dangerous to a Warlock, and Fulguralis brushed them away.  Sympathy could get him killed too.

Take this to Midnight, Fulguralis sent via their demonic link, have her hide it somewhere at home until I have time to disenchant it.  Of course, it was more pictures and impressions than actual words.  How does one convey thoughts? The Warlock reached into his robe and withdrew the amulet he'd taken from his wife's possession several weeks ago.  He had long since replaced it with a plain stone on a golden chain.  It only exacerbated his concern that his wife never seemed to notice the obvioiusly different adornment.  She still rubbed it unconsciously as much as ever, hiding it should anyone notice.

Sighing, he placed the chain in the Felhunter's jaws.  With a quick wag of his tail, Sparky hopped up and padded out of tent.  Fulguralis felt his minion take off at a sprint and quickly let their link dissolve as the demon got out of his mental range.  He didn't worry about the pup completing the job, he had placed a strong enough compulsion on the demon that even without their link, Sparky would continue to do his bidding.

Fulguralis yawned.  It was tiresome dealing with demons, but also exhilarating.  He glanced back at the cot longingly, but knew his chaotic mind wouldn't settle enough for him to return to the world of dreams.  No, he was up for the day now.

A faint tinge of light colored the tent walls, indicating the sun was rising on the cold, desolate Citadel landing where they'd made camp.  Fulguralis could hear the sounds of the camp stirring.  Other adventurers would be rising to get an early start on the day's preparations.  His group was only one of many assisting in the assault on the Lich King's throne. 

The Warlock stood up, still a bit weary, and shuffled over to the exit of the tent.  Throwing back the flap, he stepped out into the burgeoning dawn.  Blood red stained the distant horizon, yet the camp was awash in activity if not the glow of the morning light.  The clatter of hooves on citadel stone filled the air.  So many horses.  Fulguralis let his eyes sweep over the gathered tents, trying to take it all in.

Apparently the Crusaders are handing out new mounts, he thought, eying a particularly gaudy collection of hooves, wings, and... stars.  Yes, stars.  The new mounts seemed to be made entirely of celestial bodies.  Where did they pull that from, the Warlock wondered.  It was no fiery mane like the one on his proud steed, but stars were pretty cool in their own right.

Fulguralis shrugged and continued to survey the camp.  He didn't get far before his eyes fell on another of the strange mounts.  Then another.  And another.  They were everywhere.  A bit apprehensive now, he gazed upward.  Dozens of the winged creatures dotted the sky above the camp.   

Great Nathrezim!  Where the fel did they all come from?  Fulguralis could only stare.

Fulguralis stepped back in shocked silence as one of the mounts ran by him, brushing him with starry feathers, and launching itself effortlessly into the air. Stunned, the Warlock turned around and returned to his tent.  He pulled the flap back down and faced his wife who was just rousing herself.

"Well honey, it's official," he announced in a level voice. "Azeroth is busting at the seams."

Fuubaar's fingers found the stone at her throat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cata Paladin Changes: We get a PET! Well... sorta.

Hey Gang!

I wanted to discuss some of these SEXY changes for Paladins that was spewed out over at MMO-Champion. The Blue text is OBVIOUSLY the Blues posts & the orange is my commentary. Again, everything that I say is speculation and pulling ideas out of my bum but who doesn't want to read what I have to say right? ;)

Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure's ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.
Sounds similar to Holy Wrath on Undead but your friends have to be paying attention to you when you do it or it loses its effect. Also, minus the AoE Stun. Does the Eadric the Pure's ability have a disorienting/ stun ability? What I'm curious about is Can I get the crit part that's in the holy tree? That just sounds like a yummy AoE threat generator to me.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration. Hmmm. So much touching. What's with the touching? Really? No one will want to shake my hands because they've been all over my raiders & Uther only knows where they've been ;) On a serious note, if this can be cast by any paladin, it could be pretty neat. Since melee are all up in my business, it would be pretty useful for me to cast it if the fight has a lot of AoE damage. But I judge Light, would it stack? So many questions. Pretty cool though.

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears). /Drools all over herself. This was honestly the last thing that I thought we (the paladin class) would ever get. A PET! Well it's not like a hunter pet or anything but this actually made me *squee* a bit when I read about it. This TOTALLY reminds me of a Final Fantasy Guardian Spirit. I'm really hoping that this makes it in. PS: I found this pic below. I'm not sure where it's from but I Google Searched for Paladin & this came up. That would be a SWEET pet. I believe that the guys would enjoy it a bit. I wish that they would make some girl eye candy for a pet. Paladin Man Pet..... mmmmmmm

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

•Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely. Well, making leveling a Paladin a bit less suck is ok in my book. I'm interested in seeing what they give Ret as a bone since they are taking away their "Go To" Spell.

•Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons. Kinda sucks for Ret & Prot in pvp but I feel like sometimes if I have a run in with a few casters, I'm so DoTed up anyways I can't do much more than Spam my Cleanse button and Flee. There were a few cases where I used my clease to help the healers out a bit (Heigan & Rotface come to mind) I guess they wont be getting our help anymore :( Sorry healers but you'll have to cleanse my Green sick now.

•Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes. Paladin's Rejoice! My Pallypower responsibilities are slowly faiding away into nothingness. /dance

•Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins. So you're telling me that I could potentally Holy Shock Pull? Sweet!

New Talents and Talent Changes

•We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem. As long as I can hearth out in the time that Divine Shield lasts, I'm ok with it ;) Blizzard, if you ruin Bubble Hearth, I'll cry. For the rest of this comment though, I'm quite confused about the statement "We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back." Holding them back from what exactly? Death? Well Duh! No but seriously think about that statement for just a moment, what was Blizzard holding back from Retribution Paladins because of Defensive Cooldowns? This is the ultimate question. I guess we'll be finding out in Cata.

•We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive. I know very little about Ret and even less about Ret PvP so I really can't make any useful or insightful statements about this topic.

•We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer. Making Paladin healers happy makes me happy :)

•We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much. >.> are we seeing a trend here? Holy Paladin's are getting a MAJOR revamp. Spreading their niche a bit wider from only being tank healers to being able to assist with raid healing a bit. I've never played Holy but I can only imagine the frustration.

•Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat. Like everyone else.

•Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we're looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation. Well, I sort of use a different rotation with AoE verse single target. It becomes more of a FCFS (First come, First Serve for those of you not into the Lingo) instead of the 696 rotation. I favor Avenger's Shield, Consecrate, Holy Wrath (when it's a big ol' pile of undead), Hammer of the Righteous, while not relying on Shield of the Righteous nearly as much with AoE packs. If it's a lot of little mobs (Onyxia whelps) I'll even switch to Retribution Aura to help out with Threat from all angles. Single target mobs & bosses I go balls to the walls 696 for the best treat possible. I mean, if they want to give me more AoE only options, I'm fine with that but I believe we have enough as it stands right now. It's not just Consecrate like everyone believes.

•Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat. I SO called this. I knew when they spoke about the Block changes that this would get revamped as well. They mentioned that they are going to make it so that Block mitigates 30% of the incoming damage (ridding ourselves of Block Value) but lessen Block Rating (aka the amount of times one Blocks an incoming attack) So taking the 8 Charges that Holy Shield previously had allows for them to tweak this spell as to how often Paladins will block by just saying "improve block chances". It will no longer be 100% chance anymore but an "improved chance" What ever the hell that means.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses


•Critical Healing Effect

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more. Again, I know that I don't understand anything about Holy Paladins but doesn't that last line make you giggle? "When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more" Well DUH! Doesn't that really define what a Crit is? I know I know, it actually means that if they Crit a heal, it will heal for the critical amount and then some. Blah Blah Blah. Still though, it sounds goofy.


•Damage Reduction
•Block Amount

Vengeance: This is the damage-received-to-attack-power conversion that all tanks share.

Block Amount: We want to keep the kit of the paladin as a tank who blocks a lot. So by contrast, the warrior tank will sometimes get critical blocks, but the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks. Ok, let me paint you a picture of what I see when I read this whole Vengeance thing:

Two Kids are on the playground. Kid (A) runs up to kid (B) and slightly punches the kid (B) in the arm. Kid (B) turns around and hits kid (A) a bit harder. Kid (A) gets upset because Kid (B) hit him, so Kid (A) hits Kid (B) Even harder than before. This escalates into both children beating the crap out of eachother and crying.

Lucky for us though, Mobs don't hit harder the harder you hit them. So this throws this analogy right out the window of the Gunship. What I do see though is that the higher up in raiding you are, the mobs hit you harder. Thus, scaling the tanks AP back onto the mob/ Boss. The harder he hits, the higher your threat. This solves the threat problem that many are seeing at high end raiding. Very neat solution to the problem.


•Melee Damage
•Melee Critical Damage
•Holy Damage

Holy Damage: Any attack that does Holy damage will have its damage increased. More Damage... yay.

::::: Confetti:::::

So there you have it Folks. Finally our changes have been anounced. Overall, I'm pretty excited about the direction they are taking Protection Paladins. I've always had a facination for Block as a tank and Blizzard has now just set my passion into stone.

<3 Fuu

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is Viewable Gear Ruining Our Attitudes?

I recently had a rather long and involved conversation with my co-raiders regarding gear. In fact, we often discuss gear. It goes well with strat and a side of comparing calendars.  I would even go so far as to say gear discussions are a WoW staple food group.  I mean, how much time and effort has gone into the armory for Lightssake, and it's whole purpose is pretty much to facilitate gear conversations.

Through the course of the the group musings, it began to dawn on me just how much time, energy, and emotion we waste on gearing.  Gear lists are big biz in blogging.  Simple suggestions about gear can easily degenerate into rage-quit inducing fights.   There's a whole closet full of addons designed to help you analyze gear.  "Best in Slot" might as well elevate a simple collection of pixels to Arthurian glory.

Has anyone ever stopped to ask themselves if this is a good thing?  Is this what we want to have such a large impact on our gaming experience?

Think about it.  We use gear as an almost exclusive scale of judgment.  The first thing most people do upon meeting a new player is to either visit the armory or /inspect them.  I suppose it's sort of like in real life, when you are forming your first impression of someone, the clothes have a big impact on that.  It's the same in WoW with gear.  Initial impressions are often dictated by what we're wearing, or at least steered in a certain direction.  We're in the habit of judging a book by it's cover.

I understand there are a lot of positives that can come out of being so gear-centric.  I count myself among many who have consulted the gear of another character before in order to better my own character.  I've been guilty of not grouping with someone because I could tell at first glance that they would be useless where I'm going (we don't need roads, Marty).  I've been privy and party to many a conversation where a guild member's or a raider's gear was put to the question without their express written consent.

Is this good social behavior?  Are we fostering a positive gaming environment?  Being helpful is all well and good, but with Blizz really opening their programming playbook in an effort to give maximum gaming flexibility, I feel I have to make a simple suggestion: Why not make gear "hideable"?

Think about all the problems that we've discussed ad nauseum in blogs and in game that might be solved by the concept that you can't see everyone's gear.  How many times have you been the victim of unsolicited advice?  How many potential friendships have been missed out because people were relying on an addon to tell them who to invite instead of a conversation?  How many asshats might have been thwarted by not being able to size you up at a glance and spit you back out?

Again, I reiterate my question: Why not hideable gear?

I'm not saying we should hide all gear all the time.  I'm just asking for a choice where, if I want to, I would be able to be selective about who views my gear.  Now, it's like having a facebook page without any privacy settings.  People can size me up and pass judgment on me without even taking a millisecond to say so much as "hi".  Is this the direction we want for our online games?

My proposal is simple: implement a system where privacy is valued and supported.  Make it a true, two-way friend list system.  Right now you can add anyone, even if you don't know the person.  Friendship is a two way street.  How hard could it be to make the system shoot a confirmation to the other party, so that person can say that they are, indeed, friends.  Once you fix the friend list, then you can make gear only viewable to those on your friend list, thus controlling your own privacy.  You don't have to be naked in front of everyone all the time.  You can hold something back.

If someone wants to set up a PuG, they'll have to (*gasp*) actually converse with people and trust that they're not being lied to.  They'd have to take those first baby steps in developing a relationship.  Sure there would be people that would take advantage, but it would certainly encourage people to form a solid list of friends and guildies.  As things stand now, I feel like we're trending away from social networking in MMOs to a random queue system where you don't even need to know anyone.  There's nothing social about the trend, but I guess it's "massive".  It's all about being simple, cold, distant, and big.  Is that really what we want?  Queue up for an event, it'll check your gear score and flop you all together and off you go.  Great, right?  Working as intended: no ties, no problems.

Has this really made the game better?  People bitch day in and day out about being the victim of a spontaneous gear check.  About being left out because their clothes weren't nice enough.  Gone are the days when we judge by performance, but shouldn't that be the only measuring stick?  Shouldn't we be choosing our friends and raid members based on how it actually feels to group with them and not some arbitrary rating system?

But that would require time and interaction!  We want instant gratification!  So the masses cry.

And that's what we'll get if we're not careful: a virtual world where everything is at our fingertips... except for meaningful relationships formed with once complete strangers.

Okay, okay.  I'm catastrophizing.  There will always be people who look deeper than gear.  It's just that I hear a lot of my good friends judging other good friends based solely on gear.  Never once is performance brought up.  I mean, if someone is getting their job done in a group, who cares what they're wearing!  Why do we all think we have some sort of obligation to inform someone how they're "doing it wrong".  Like we all have to become professors of theorycraft when we see someone gemmed inappropriately.  Doing this in real life nets you an achievement that comes with a title: "the Asshole".  It's their toon and their game.  Who the hell are we to tell them how to play it as long as it's not negatively affecting our game?  Where did common courtesy go?

I'm not talking about bleeding edge raiding here.  I get it, those guys need to min/max.  It's what their groups exist for, but you are the one signing up.  It's a choice to throw yourself in that mix.  What about the rest of us?  The casuals.  The ones who don't always want to spend the time and effort to collect best in slot equipment, but can still preform just fine in end game raids.  Yeah, we're not going for any world firsts or speed records.  We're just playing the game.  Our way.

Why should any of us have to put up with the judging that runs rampant in our game?  Why do we have to throw it all out there? 

Now I understand that even if we made gear selectively viewable to a custom audience, others would still be able to tell by the actual skin of the thing.  I mean who can't pick out tier x shoulders at a glance?  Still, it wouldn't tell the whole story.  You wouldn't be able to see how they're enchanted and gemmed, and that's really none of your business unless the person asks for your advice and help.  It's like in WoW we're allowed to come up and give other toons everything short of a colonic to find out what they're made of without even having to ask "was it good for you?"  Shouldn't there be some sort of "personal bubble"?  You know, that space that we all have and need in public settings and if someone comes inside of it they might get punched in the face on a Monday. 

People might actually have to converse again.  They might actually worry about things like their reputation and who their friends are, and what sort of burned bridges they're leaving behind.  It might be more like actual social interaction as opposed to some wonky anonymous, faceless, speed dating service.

Then again, maybe I'm alone in this.  Maybe it's what the masses want.  Maybe we want speed sexting relationships.  It certainly works for some.  I guess I just have to openly wonder if this is the correct direction for massive online games.  Do we want to the quick and easy, the "known at first glace"?  Or do we want to have an element of the unknown? I think sometimes you have to ask yourself: what is the cost of convenience?  What is the cost of simplicity?

Is selective viewing of gear a panacea?  No.  Might it help correct some of the negative directions we've seen the game taking with increased emphasis on gear and random queues?  You decide.  If nothing else, it's something to think about next time you're offering unsolicited advice.  Gear is but one piece of the bigger performance picture.  We'd do well to remember that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Random Tuesday Musings

I'm in and out of meetings all day today, so you get the random musings I have time for in between.  There are three topics I want to quickly touch on today.  First, why I'm fail at "community".  Second, some overdue link love.  And third, when farm is not farm.

So, for topic number the first.  I guess I just wanted to say some things about the whole greater community thing.  For the record, I often feel like I'm completely fail when it comes to that.  My bestest blogger friend, Jbelle of Miss Medicina fame, is really the win at community.  She's reads probably over 200 blogs and comments all over and is always "in the know". Me, not so much.  I have, oh, maybe 50 blogs in my reader.  I come in, write my post, clear out my reader, and that's about all the time I have in the day.  It doesn't help that nearly everything is blocked for me at work, so I'm stuck in google reader.  There's this whole phenomenon by which I read an article, have a good comment on the tip of my tongue, but then by the time I get home in the evening (a land where any commenting is possible!), either the conversation has passed me by or I'm just not keen on my initial thoughts.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who stews on initial thoughts only to have them sour later.

In any case, my whole situation right now really hinders my social forays.  Also, to be quite honest, I really don't put in the kind of community effort the Jbelle does.  I'm not ashamed of this.  She's the awesome.  But I do feel like a failure quite a bit because I pretty much chill here in  my own little corner of the world, do my thing, and enjoy the blogosphere.  It is what it is.  I guess I just wanted to sort of put this out there to get it off my chest.  I know there are several other awesome bloggers who lurk around here, and I wanted to assure you that I lurk as well. 

Which brings me to topic number the next.  I love the kind of comments I get around here and try really hard to follow all the links given to me either in the comments or in the names to see where you're coming from.  I added With Great Suffering to my blogroll last week, and I wanted to call attention to Poneria at Fel Concentration and Elkagorasa the Casual today.  These are just a few of my fellow warlock bloggers that have been lurking around here for a while and leaving droppings.  Good droppings.  Evil droppings.  Yay warlock bloggers!

Anyways, I just wanted to give them some proper, if overdue, link love and add them to my blogroll because they are all certainly worthy reads.  If there are others of you that I'm missing, I apologize.  I just sort of waft through at my leisure, so be patient with me.  It is certainly not a knock on you; it's fail on me.  I'll do  my best to try to keep up, but always feel free to send me an email slapping me upside the head and saying: "Hey! Check this out!" 

Finally, in topic number the last, I mentioned when farm is not farm.  I posted about ICC yesterday and our normal weekly run was last night, so I wanted to mention a few things.  We reset, so Fuu didn't get to trial her PP learnings, but it did mean that I got two huge gear upgrades that I'd been needing.  If you'll recall, I accidentally sold my OH in a freak fishing accident.  I also haven't gotten a trinket drop in, well, ever in Wrath.  Thus, two of my biggest, leakiest holes were plugged last night with the Baton from Lady Ddub and the Spyglass from Gunship.  (I'm going for boat imagery, not, um, other kinds).  Awesome upgrades.  Shot my DPS up a good couple hundred.  The stacking spell power trinket thingy is pretty awesome.

We did really well in our reset.  We flew through the first wing like a well oiled Scourgelord's... machine.   We definitely have that part on farm.  We have Festergut on farm too, one shotting him handily.  Rotface... not so much.  We did eventually get him down, just barely.  One of those holy-fel-the-MT-is-dead-quick-burnburnBUUUURN-win type of fights.  Definitely not farm.  But, one and two thirds wings down?  I'll take it for a two-hour session.   We can jump right back into learning next week.  Good stuff.  You have to reset every now and then for the gear opportunities (huge pay off for me last night, though Fuu's still waiting for a damn shield to drop ANYWHERE.  She got some nice pants tho, so she can't complain too much).

So two things I want to talk about for the rest of the week is our sort of "hybrid" strategy for using the buff (there are pros and cons, but I like it) and explore the concept of group retention rates (something our group is stellar about, but isn't always the case from my experience).  Could be some interesting stuff (could not be too, who knows), so stick around.  We'll ride out these pre-x-pac blues together. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

(Guest Post) Tenuring the Professor

Got a treat today: a guest post!  I'll have to admit that the title is mine.  I'm not sure that "tenuring" really works for what we want to do, but I wanted to make a clever quip with him being the Professor and all.  Aside from a sure fire way to find a daytime nap, my Profs were often the source of constant frustration.  Whether it be the dirt napping or the frustration, this dude is no different.  I'll let the poster introduce himself and will only preface it to say that he is indeed the one who got me started in WoW.  Also, he's regularly been a great person for me to chat strat with (and plot items if you happen to be writing a novel or something, but that's another story... literally), so when he called me up to let me in on his Putricide thoughts and offered a guest post strat... well, I'm all ears.  So below is a faithful reproduction of what was sent to me.  I think both of us would love for any and all comments pointing out different options or opinions on what needs to be done for this fight... it can be quite complicated.  Without further ado...  - Ful

First off, let me say hi and introduce myself.  I’m Finwe.  I’m a friend of the Fu’s.  I’m pretty sure I was the one who got Ful started in the game.  Maybe I just think too highly of myself.  Anyway, I play a druid tank (mainspec), or healer (offspec).  I’ve been playing this same druid since day 1.  (Well, I actually didn’t get the game until the 2nd or 3rd week it was out, but five years is a long time.)  I am a casual player.  I like to raid.  A lot of people throw around casual to mean many different things, so I’ll explain.  I play usually one day a week…for as long as I can manage (sometimes 6 hours).  It took me a whole year to level from 1-60, and I didn’t have any alts.  I healed at level 60.  I tanked at level 70.  Now I can do both.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to PUG into another guild’s ICC10 run.  It was a great group of players, very skilled, patient, and nice people.  We had a great run.  Prior to that, their guild had killed everything up to Sindragosa, and they were getting close on that fight.  I stepped in, only having seen the first 6 bosses.  I’m not sure why, but they decided to make me the main tank.  In our slightly less than 3 hours together, we took down everything up to and including Dreamwalker.  Out of all of that, Professor Putricide was the hardest boss.

Despite having never seen the Putricide fight before, they still wanted me to main tank him.  It did take a few tries, but in the end, he fell.  I believe that everyone else in the group had killed him before, so I (as the main tank) was the only one who was new to it.  They took the time to clearly explain everything to me and dealt kindly with my failed kiting as I learned the fight.  But by the end, I feel like I can explain it pretty well.  Since I’ve got some good friends who are currently struggling on this one, I’d like to share what I learned.

A huge part of this fight is the movement.  That was absolutely the biggest thing for me to learn.  Since boss placement is key to safe transitions, the main tank really needs to understand this well.  So here is the Putricide fight from the main tank’s perspective.

When you walk into the room, it looks like this.  (It’s a crude drawing, I know.  And possibly inaccurate, but it’ll get the point across.)  The boss (red circle) is standing near a table at the far end of the room.  There is a large somewhat circular pattern on the floor with lines pointing out toward the large orange and green tanks along the side walls.  The group can stand in the middle of the room as you finish buffs and explain the fight.
Since my drawing is designed to help Fuubaar learn the fight, the tank will be represented by the pink circle.  To start the fight, pull the boss toward the top of the circle in the room.
Shortly after the pull (5-10 seconds maybe), the boss will drop a big green puddle on the floor.  That’s your signal to move him to the next position, under the orange tank on the left side.
You will continue to tank him there until he casts the first unstable experiment.  Don’t jump the gun.  It’s a slow cast time, followed by a slow travel time before the experiment actually comes alive, picks a target, and tries to kill them.  As soon as it finds a target (DBM should warn you at that point), it’s time to pull the boss around the circle over toward the other tank (green).  I found it easiest to turn and strafe toward the bottom of the circle to get him out of the way, then I could face him again and back peddle around the edge of the circle to the point where the line comes out.
The same thing will apply here.  You’ll be tanking him here until the next unstable experiment.  In my group, he often transitioned to phase 2 (casts tear gas and stuns the raid for a few seconds) while we had him here.  If the unstable experiment didn’t go off, keep tanking him here after the phase transition.  Phase 2 is just like phase 1, except now you’ll have to watch for when he drops little orange vials on the ground next to him.  Pull him away a few yards and continue tanking.  You don’t want to be near those when they explode.   (They do damage and reduce chance to hit by 75%.)  Anyway, when he decides to cast the next unstable experiment, it’s time to kite him back over to the left side.
Phase 1 and 2 will just continue like this as the DPS whittles down his health and kills off the unstable experiments.  Meanwhile, the off-tank will be worrying about the big green slime pools on the ground and help with the unstable experiments.  If you’re the main tank, you don’t need to worry about that.  Just try not to stand in the green puddles or kite the boss through them.  You can go around.  The actual boss positioning isn’t nearly as critical as when you move him.  Like horseshoes and hand grenades, close is good enough.

When his health starts getting down close to 35%, you’ll need to be ready for the transition to phase 3.  Again, he will cast tear gas, stun the raid, and run over to the table for a few seconds.   The difference here is that you want to be near him at the table, so you can begin phase 3 tanking him right there.  So as his health get’s down to 35%, try to position yourself a bit closer to the table so you can pick him up quickly after the transition.
In phase 3, you will need to kite him around the perimeter of the room.  It doesn’t matter which way you go, but I went counter-clockwise.  The key here is that now all of those green puddles aren’t going to disappear because the off-tank is not playing the role of abomination anymore.  Now you just need to slowly kite him whenever he drops a green puddle or the orange vials.  Don’t go too fast or you’ll eventually run out of room on the floor.  This is going to be the DPS burn phase.  Fortunately, you probably won’t run out of space on the floor, because if he doesn’t die fast enough, the debuff that’s now being applied to you (the tank) will kill you soon.
This debuff stacks once every 10 seconds (I think), and it does AOE damage to the whole raid.  The more stacks, the more damage.  So it’s time to play the taunting game again.  (You’re taunt is hit-capped, right?)  When you (the main tank) get 2 stacks of the debuff, it’s time for the off-tank to taunt off of you.  He will continue Putricide on the kiting path around the room.  (You should stay with him, since you’ll be taunting back soon.)  Let the off-tank build up 3 stacks, then it’s time to taunt back off of him.  Your stacks won’t be gone by this point, but that’s okay.  Now, you pick up 3, then 4 stacks, and it’s time for the off-tank to taunt back.  He gets his 4th and 5th stacks, then you taunt back.  (If your off-tank happens to be a girl, pretend I said “her”.)  Hopefully by this time, the boss will be dead.  If not, it’s time for a wipe.  But most likely, unless you’ve got multiple DPS dead, you’ve probably got enough raid DPS to get through this phase just fine, assuming it’s the same group that killed the first 6 bosses.

Just one more note about the transition to phase 3.  I don’t know why, but on my first couple attempts at it, I (the main tank) died at the start of phase 3.  The boss didn’t hit that hard (about 12k melee), so I can only guess that I wasn’t getting enough heals because of 1) I was out of range or 2) there was a lot of raid damage that was being worked on from the end of phase 2.  Either way, keep an eye out as the tank and be ready to pop some cooldowns here to help out.  And it might be a good idea to have one of the healers follow you over toward the table as he get’s close to 35%.

Hopefully, I’ve prepared you well enough to go in there and polish off the 2nd wing of Icecrown Citadel.  Good luck!

Thanks Fin!  I know Fuu appreciates it and it's always good to understand an encounter from multiple perspectives.  I'd like to point out a few things for the DPS/Healers out there that seem to be key.  Definitely let me know your solutions to these "key thoughts":
  •  In Phases 1 and 2, having the raid stack up to mitigate green "blowup" damage is key.  We usually mark one person as the "stacker". 
  • It's also important in those phases that you stay close enough to the spawn point opposite of the tank position to be able to take advantage of the long (5sec) cast time prior to the ooze choosing a target.  This is valuable DPS time!
  • Finally, it's imperative that any orange kiting path be kept in range of your healers or you're going to get squished.  Keep that in mind when running like hell.  
That's all I've got for now, maybe a follow up as we continue to learn.  Thanks again to Finwe for providing this tank's-eye-view of the PP fight!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Moment of Clarity

Decedereful glared at the sweating man in front of her as he dragged a shaky hand across his brow.  It came away shining with sweat and grime.  The Death Knight frowned at that, but kept her burning blue sockets fixed on his beady brown eyes.  The man obviously still had a problem with her kind and Decedereful was going to use that to her advantage.   

"I'll ask you one last time.  What do you know about Bright Runes?" Decedereful growled, the omnipresent tin in her voice seeming more like steel.

"Lady, I already told you.  I don't know what you want from me, I'm just a simple blacksmith!" the man said, throwing up his hands.

"You're lying! Blacksmiths have to work with runes!  Don't you guys runeforge around here at all?" Decedereful asked incredulously.

"No! We don't bloody do any bloody runeforging.  That's a scourge thing, that is," he said, screwing up his eyes and pointing a pudgy finger at the Death Knight.

"Well... you're missing out!" Decedereful sputtered back.

"Look," the man started nervously, "if you be looking after runes, you'd have a spot more luck with Master Nathane.   He were the son o' the librarian 'fore the war made us all soldiers."

"Nathane.  Ugh.  Of course, it'd be him," Decedereful sighed.

Beady brown eyes regarded blue with trepidation, glancing left and right as if searching for some avenue of escape.  Finally, Decedereful drew herself up and waved the man away, "So be it.  Thanks for nothing."

She stared towards the middle of the camp where a colorful tent flew a large flag, white eagle on red background.  She groaned as she saw the man lounging indolently out front, one leg kicked over the arm of a wooden folding chair as if it were a throne.  His eyes were all on her, almost as if he knew he was her only shot at answers.  The mere thought of it burned her up on the inside.  The man chased after her like some sort of nether addled horse handler, trying to corner her in any place one might be cornered, and now he sat there smiling smugly as if he'd won some sort of victory.  Well, she'd show him!  Marching determinedly across the camp, exuding an aura of a woman on a mission, Decedereful clomped in front of the smarmy man.

"Nathane.  In the tent.  Now!" She ordered.

His flashed a slimy smile in response, eyes glinting mischievously, "Whoa there.  Shouldn't we at least go on a date first?"

Decedereful just stood there, hands planted on her hips as he grinned like a fool.  Slowly, the grin slide from his face and then with a resigned sigh, he stood up and held the tent flap aside for her to enter.  "Ladies first," he said, half bowing.

The flap had hardly settled when she rounded on him, "Now you look here.  No more games.  You're going to tell me what you know about Bright Runes or I'll... I'll..."  She didn't know what she'd do.

"You'll what?  Cut me open and eat me for lunch?" he suggested.  "Dece, you and I both know you're not going to do that.  I've known enough of your kind to realize that your murderous rage is directed at one place, and one place only: Arthas.  You're not in the business of killing allies any more than I am."

"Yeah well, I may not kill you, but I can still make your life pretty unpleasant," Decedereful returned, fingering the hilt on one of the two swords at her waist.  "Why do you have to be so damn difficult?  It's a simple question, for a friend."

"If she was as much of a friend she'd have told you the right of it," Nathane snapped back, then clamped his mouth shut as if he'd said too much.

"What?  Out with it!"  Dece pounced.

Nathane sighed and held up his hands in surrender, "Look, Brightrune is not some sort of written symbol, it's a name.  A person coming around here, looking for Brightrune is probably looking for the Captain." 

"The Captain?" Decedereful echoed.

"No, the Strudel Man," Nathane replied irritably. "Yes, the Captain.  That's what I said isn't it?  And before you ask, no, I can't tell you any more.  I stayed here because I didn't want anything to do with the Brigade.  They all went traipsing off after that tart, Jaina, when there were plenty of problems right here in our own land.  If you want to go meddling in the affairs of the Brigade, then you'd best head to Theramore.  That's all you're going to get from me, dear."

"Captain Brightrune, huh?  Theramore? " Decedereful repeated.  "Well, I guess I'd better catch a boat then.  What's the nearest dock?"

"Menethil  Harbor.  And good riddance!" Nathane said with irritation in his voice, turning away from her and making a show of rifling through some papers on a table.

Decedereful blinked.  The man had been all butter to her until now.  Could her leaving really bother him all that much?  She'd been nothing but rude to the man.  Yet, he had helped her.  Despite the usual prejudices against Death Knights that permeated most humans, he had accepted her at face value.  He had made her feel almost human again with his unflappable pursuits.  He wasn't even all that bad-looking, Decedereful admitted now.  She had places to go, and perhaps haste matters, but her frigidity was poor recompense for the warmth this man had shown her.  The world was not all against her.

Before she really realized what she was doing, Decedereful had cross the room to stand behind the man that had driven her batty the last few months.  She would be leaving after this, and who knows where her adventures would lead her.  She refused to leave more burned bridges in her wake.

Reaching out, she grabbed the Nathane by the shoulders and spun him around.  His eyes narrowed to slit and he opened his mouth, presumably to voice his displeasure, but he soon found his lips under assault.  Decedereful twined her fingers through his dark brown hair and forcefully pushed his skull towards her own.  Her tongue battled through his exterior defenses and found his.  She held him there for a good minute as the battle between them raged on.  Finally, when she could feel him on the verge of surrender, she released him and stepped back.

His mouth hung open as he looked at her and she frowned at his astonishment.  The man had chased her relentlessly and now all he could do was gawk?  His hair was mussed on one side, so Decedereful reached out a hand and smoothed it down, pinching his cheek when she finished.  Nathane stood like a statue, dumbfounded.

"Thank you," the Death Knight said.  Then, with a small smile, she turned and strode from the silent room.

"Yep," she muttered to herself, "still got it."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Did you hear? Apparently there are, like, changes for classes happening in Cataclysm. No. Way. And, like, Blizz is totally announcing them. Get. Out.

Okay, you got me. I'm being sarcastic. And a little bit valley-girl or something. Whatev. It's just that apparently we're in the grips of a slow news... month? As soon as something - anything - hit the interwebz, everyone decided to write about it. Far be it from me to stop the dead horse beatings. As Sar put it: "Unfortunately, the problem with big announcements is every bloody damned blogger out there writes about them." It sounds really angry if you put it in an Australian accent and pout a bit.  I'm with you, Sar.  Yet here I am, writing about it anyways, because wtf else am I going to write about. 

So, at least I'm going to try to just keep it to my personal musings rantings.  Here's the things that popped out at me.  If you want the full report, I'm sure you can find it around

Here are my Warlocky Thoughts:
  •  The almost had me on this whole Fel Fire thing.  That is, until they said "this is similar to the Mage ability..."  and anything after that was lost in a blind rage.  Blizz, I appreciate the nod towards green fire and even maybe getting a true instant cast spell that could be useful, but for Light's sake stop treating us like Mages.  It's bad enough you gave them pets and us... nothing.  Probably give them "Super Mage Form" next where they become a huge fire elemental and deal extra damage for a set period of time.  
  • There was some shit about buffs.  Yeah, we don't do that.  Next.
  • They waved around some feeble ideas for soul shard revamps.  I hope it's not like the carrots in Ocarina of Time when you're riding Epona.  If you're a Legend of Zelda fan, you know what I'm talking about.  I can just picture three little soulshards and an annoying "boowip" sounds as they regen automatically out of combat.  I hope they don't go that route.  I still want to be evil and trap people's souls. 
  • Along those lines, I'm not sure about the special "combo" abilities they were suggesting.  Like consuming a UA for some instant damage?  I don't know how that would play out.  If it takes us two casts to do it (put on UA, then like consume a soul and something happens?), it could be useful, but it could also just be too slow.  I'm hoping for something to help Affliction Warlocks on quick dying stuff, but I'm not sure this is the answer.  The soul fire thing looked interesting though.  I love that spell on my Demo 'lock.  Instant cast would be awesome.
  • I like what they're doing with haste adding on to the end of DoTs.  It was sort of annoying when you'd get to higher levels of haste and have the darned things dropping off so fast.  I'm hoping this means they scale everything correctly so you don't just get super long DoTs either, but that it's just more ticks in the same amount of time.  This would make fiddling with a rotation a lot more precise.
  • I guess splitting up the Curses and making some Banes is a good thing.  I don't know though.  I mean what do I do when not on CotE duty?  CoW?  No way. It would be nice to have CotE and CoA (BoA) up though.  I wouldn't have to feel like I'm sacrificing DPS to help others, and we all know Warlocks are all about being selfish.  (See above buff statement).
  • It looks like pets might get more interesting.  As long as I get to keep using my Felpup and he synergizes well, I think I'm okay with this.  I really don't want to have to micro-manage though.  Still, set-it-and-forget-it is kind of boring too.  Maybe we can get a healthy medium?
  • They mentioned something about Drain Soul refreshing some stuff.  Looks like they're really trying to make this out finishing move.  Quite frankly, I love it.  I wish all the 'locks pulled out DS at the end.  It looks like we're Ghost Buster's and someone's just throw out that trap thingy of theirs.  Don't cross the streams.
  • As for the mastery stuff... what the hell is up with Blizz trying to force crit down our throats?  The stat is totally devalued with Affliction 'locks.  Haste is up near SP in terms of damage per point.  Crit is like half that.  Why would Demo's mastery involved haste but not Affliction?  Ugh.  That's so critty of them.
If you are a DK, I really have only two questions:
  1. WTF are they going to do about DW tanking?  I have my guess (it might go away), but I don't have to like it.  
  2. Why would we tank in Frost presence and spec in the Blood tree?  I really don't understand their choice of Blood as the "tank tree" here.  I can only hope it'll change or however they implement it will make more damn sense than what I'm seeing in the preview.  Sounds like a huge overhaul though.
All in all, it may sound like I'm sort of pissed about a lot of these changes.  I'm not.  I generally don't like change, but I understand what they're trying to do here.  This is also the reason I generally shy away from PTR crap.  Blizz has this annoying habit of giving us half formed ideas and vague summaries until they're actually ready for release.  It makes sense, because they don't want to get burned later, but if you try to take the changes at face value, I think they usually sound like crap.  We'll see how they end up implementing them, and I have some faith that they'll get most of it right.  They usually do.  For now, we can just pick out the general direction in which Blizz seems to want to head.

For 'locks - I think they're finally going to help some of our "up front" damage.  They're looking at ways to give us more instant stuff and ways to cut DoTs short so they damage all at once.  To me this screams "we want you to be better on add fights".  They also want to make pets more integral, more than just set-it-forget-it.  They want to give us more utility in raid situations.  That's probably a good thing.  It also looks like they want to give Demonology some much needed love.  They want to strengthen our finishing power, and, last but not least, they want to fix the shard system using what they've learned from DKs (you know that's their baseline).  Expect all these things to reflect themselves in the final solution.  The bad news is that they're also going to be looking a lot at what works for Mages and try to apply it a bit for us.  Since I guess we are pretty much Mages that decided to be evil (and badass), it makes sense from a lore point of view I suppose.  I just hope we don't lose the "evil" part.

For DKs - They're going to cut down the trees and plant new ones.  Not totally new, but not the smorgasbord they are today.  It's going to be a lot clearer what tree does what.  There will be a "tank" tree.  It will most likely be Blood.  DW tanking will probably go away.  Sad day.  More on DKs still to come, though.

Now that I've got one spell of Green Fire in the works, I think I want Black Ice for my DK too.  I mean, blue ice is so passe.  Just one spell though, Blizz, don't overdo it.  :-)