Ah-ha!

27 February 2010 § Leave a comment

So they DO realise that 10-man is in a bind!

We always had some tension about what 10 player heroic should really be.

I’ll comment on that tomorrow sometime. Maybe.

Sindragosa impressions

25 February 2010 § 1 Comment

The reference strategy is, once again, Dreambound‘s. What I’ll try to cover here are the differences in setup our group, as well as particular tricks that apply maybe more to Discipline priests than anyone else.

Setup

We didn’t particularly change our set up, so we went with 2 tanks (paladin and DK), 3 healers (holy priest, resto shaman, disc priest), 3 ranged dps (shadow priest, elemental shaman, affliction warlock) and 2 melee dps (rogue and warrior). The fight mechanics are a bit weird: in theory, Chilled to the Bone and Unchained Magic penalise melee and ranged dps both. However, unchained magic basically takes one ranged dps out of the fight for a short period of time – regardless of how many ranged dpsers you have in the raid. Chilled to Bone, on the other hand, scales with how many melee you have – increasing the healing load, which is already pretty heavy in P3. So, once again, you probably want to have more casters than melee for this fight too.

I added Unchained Magic and Frost Beacon to my raid frames. I probably should have added Instability too, to know who to shield because they have a bad damage spike coming up.

Phase 1

This phase, for a healer, is pretty boring. A few seconds after the pull she will cast the first Unchained Magic. If you are a Disc Priest, wait until the debuff has gone out before choosing the dps to Power Infuse – whenever I didn’t I was sure to cast it on someone who was getting Unchained Magic soon after. This will actually turn out well because the cycle of P1-P2 is about the same length as the cooldown on PI, so you’ll be able to cast it again the next land phase.

If you get Unchained Magic, let the other healers handle the load: 2 healers is plenty for this phase, so don’t worry too much. I was even more conservative than Dreambound was, and hardly ever pushed my stacks of Instability to 3: during Unchained Magic I was simply casting PoM if it was coming off cooldown, Shield to keep Renewed Hope up, and Penance if someone had dipped particularly low.

My mark of shame in P1 comes from Icy Grip. Part of it is me being a keyboard turner, as I confessed before. Even when I used mouse to turn the camera and then pressed the two mouse buttons, however, I got some weird results, which often meant I was zig-zagging, or losing time, and then going splat! My solution is not particularly elegant, but it kept me alive: I was running away towards the opposite side of Sindragosa. The trick to this is to stand on that side for a short while, until you see the graphic for Tail Smash landing somewhere. See, as I found out, Blizzard lies: Tail Smash doesn’t hit only players behind her, and instead also hits mediocre priests running between her legs (which is definitely not behind her, unless my dragon anatomy is all wrong). Once you see the graphical effect, you’re safe to run to the good side of the platform, towards the stairs.

Phase 2

Shield the Frost Beacon target and renew them. This will make sure their health will be at 100% in the tomb before the Asphyxiation effect rolls in. Also, ask for a kind paladin to judge wisdom on the tombs and melee them – it’s not much mana, but hey, everything helps.

Phase 3

All hell will break loose, so be on your toes. To handle Frost Tombs, we designated two positions: one closer to her head (with 12 o’clock being her facing, tomb 1 was around 11 o’clock), while the second one was further towards her midriff (around 9-10 o’clock). We would start from position 2, grouping up as P3 started. The Frost Beacon would move to position 1, then everyone would follow once the tomb was down. Ranged would keep working on Sindragosa, while melee destroyed the tomb. When the second Beacon was out, that person would move to position 2, we’ll let the tomb fall down, and move to the second position.

Sounds easy? It’s not.

  1. Everyone is trained to spread out. Seriously, it’s almost second nature now. So much so, that as soon as the tomb was broken, many people’s instinct was to spread out immediately, when instead we were supposed to stay put until the second Frost Tomb was down.So, learn to group hug more!
  2. Out of line of sight of her, but in LoS (and range!) to the tanks. If I had to make the choice, my instinct was on self preservation: I would throw all I had on the tank (PoM, shield, renew, PS if up) and go hide behind the tomb. Keep in mind though that if you don’t run quickly behind a tomb, it’s likely to have disappeared before you get there AND the debuff runs off, so you may be better off staying out, skipping a tomb, and keep healing.
  3. Icy Grip still goes out – however, Frost Tombs protect you from it. So if you’re behind a tomb when she grips, you’re safe. The jury is still out, though, on whether the tombs protect you from Blistering Cold. My suggestion is to run far our anyway, just to be on the safe side. Also, if you’ve been pulled in when tombs are around, it’s doubly important that you stay on the “right side” of Sindragosa, where the rest of the raid is – so, no using of the special trick I mentioned before in this phase. Quite simply, you cannot risk being on the other side of the boss when you get a frost beacon. Finally, if you’re running out, try to avoid getting stuck on the tombs – keep in mind that quite likely your view will be partially blocked by the GIANT BONY DRAGON in the way, so try to remember where the tombs were….

In general, try not to get too frustrated. The fight is very easy at first, then with P3 jumps up to extremely difficult. All the same, P1 and P2 still have a lot of deadly stuff going around – battle rezzes are invaluable to pick up people who fail at something and die stupidly. If you don’t have them, then resign yourself to having long periods of buffs – setup – start the fight followed by short bursts of P3 where everybody seems to explode. It may seem like you’re not learning, but you actually are – it’s just that a lot of things have to click before you can last an appreciable amount of time in P3.

Better late than never

23 February 2010 § Leave a comment

As you probably noticed, I didn’t manage to get anything up during maintenance – nor during the following week, or the one after… The reason is quite simple: I found myself with a lot of free time, so I caught up with playing – and ended up with no time for blogging. See, blogging is normally something I do when I have a short break in my work day, or while I’m cooking something or waiting for something: in other words when I have about 10 minutes free. Ten minutes is too short a time to log in and do anything meaningful – and there’s only so much surfing on the internet I can do. So, ironically, when I have a lot of free time, I end up blogging less, because I’m playing more.

Enough with the intro, let’s get on with some updating. First things first: we got Sindragosa down. We cleared the whole instance last week, then extended the lockout so that we could start straight with Sindragosa. The fight is an interesting twist on the traditional dragon fights – in fact, it is actually not that dissimilar to Sapphiron in many ways, but the addition of the Frost Tomb mechanic makes it unique enough. The slightly annoying thing about it is that the really hard part is phase 3, which triggers when Sindragosa goes below 35% health. That means there’s a LONG setup time: for a long time, we had periods of 6 mins of relatively boring fight to get to the meaty part. Add to that the fact that during those 6 mins there’s a ton of things that can go wrong stupidly and kill one or another of your raiders, and you have a lot of time wasted before you can actually learn. I hope to actually put up a post about Sindragosa impressions.

This also means we got to see the Lich King: in fact, we spent a full day on him. So far, I really like the fight: it is extremely unforgiving of mistakes, in a way that is reminiscent of Algalon. We got as far as phase 2, managing (once) to kill the Val’kyr before it took off with her hapless victim. We are probably going to extend the lockout this week again, to be able to work on him more. If I had to be completely honest, I doubt we will manage to get him this week: I feel we’re still very far from having everything under control. If that’s the case, I also wouldn’t want our raiders to get burned out on the fight before its time – so it may be better to reclear this week, even if that means spending less time on the LK, and then extending it next week. I guess we’ll discuss it a bit and then decide.

In other raid news, our resto druid, Marjoram, decided to take a WoW break – it’s always a pity when one of our raiders needs to leave us for real life reasons, but of course it’s completely understandable and I wish him the best of luck for everything. The good news is that two days before Jarbel, the dps warrior who raided Ulduar with us, had let us know he was ready to come back into full time raiding. Jarbel is one of my favourite WoW people: we started raiding in June 2004, when he was an officer in Hand of the Forsaken and I was a fresh 60 priest. He took some breaks, switched mains (from warlock to holy priest to dps warrior) but he’s really a great guy, so I’m quite happy to have him back. So, our line up now is: Pally tank, DK tank, Disc priest (me), Holy/shadow priest x2, Resto/Enhancement Shaman, Enh Shaman, Ele Shaman, Aff Warlock, DPS Warrior, Rogue (and I suck at rogues, so I actually don’t know anything about Killetheth’s spec – as far as I’m concerned he’s specced into ZOMG LOTSA DAMAGE).

This week I’ve also taken a hard look at my alts, and made sure their gear was in good shape. I now have six 80s, most of them with dual specs, some with a modicum of pvp gear – so I’m trying to keep something ridiculous like 12 gear sets up to date, gemmed, enchanted etc. I think it’s no surprise when I sometimes realise I have completely forgotten to upgrade one piece or another of the various 12 sets (like upgrading pvp sets, or using emblems to upgrade secondary spec sets, etc.).Thegood news is that this week I managed to do Vault10, Vault25, and the weekly raid quest with all of my toons – which means the badges have started flowing!

Torjin, my mage, got into an ICC10 raid with some guildies. We killed Festergut and tried Rotface, so it was an ok run. It started pretty badly, with a lot of disorganisation, and a fairly unpleasant raid leader (the type that accuses the other raiders for all wipes without looking at his own performance). Irons and Malicent, the two guildies who are regulars in that run, are awesome, so I managed to blank out the raid leader and focus on doing my job. I got a nice upgrade, a haste helm, which helped me in the ongoing quest to get Torjin’s hit rating down. It is now finally down to 6% from gear, which is 12% with talents – which means I FINALLY need to swap pieces in for bosses. Torjin is also trying to complete the Loremaster achievement, and I’m seriously running out of Kalimdor quests… I’m finally happy about his dps: he won’t be topping charts, but he does well enough that I can confidently offer him as a replacement dps for various friends’ run.

Parocles, the shaman, finally replaced his horrid Naxx10 boots (with the crafted Ulduar boots, which are still a decent upgrade) and Naxx25 belt (with the Frost Emblem belt). I also managed to get him the Love’s Fool achievement, so he’s still on track for the violet proto-drake (I need to start doing elders, though). He also came in for Lady Deathstrike for the ICC10 run Torjin was in, given we had only one DK as physical damage. My dps on Parocles is still a lot lower than it should be – but it’s geting better. The problem here is my gameplay: I’ve never played FPS games, and I’m still a keyboard turner – that is barely acceptable as a healer or a ranged dps, but a serious drawback for a melee dps, imho. I’m getting better, now doing a mix of mouse and keyboard movements – Parocles is really my experiment and an attempt to challenge myself to play a bit differently and better, so again, I’m quite happy with how that’s working out.

Alteria, my paladin tank, mostly improved her healing set: emblem shoulders and T9 helm, and now her set is decent. I’ve been musing about switching to using her for my 10man healing, given how much better paladins scaled instead of Disc priests – but I’ll only do that if I really have to. No matter how much I love my alts, Tsark is and always will be my main, and that will change only if I realise that Holy paladins really ARE that much more powerful and could help us get through the content a lot better.

Kleraton, my boomkin/resto druid, is the alt that saw the least action – and thus the least upgrades. For the boomkin set, I’m a bit loath to break the 2T8/2T9 set up I have now. I think I’m gonna wait until 2T10, which should happen in a couple of weeks, unless I get lucky with Vault drops. On the resto side, the 4T9 will stay with me for a long long time. I also went to ICC with him too, and scored a pair of haste legs – I may switch around my resto pieces and get them to work for the resto set. I really like resto healing, but I feel I need a lot more practice with him with both specs – the boomkin spec in particular I need to get more used to, as I still miss too many eclipse procs (I’m seriously thinking about power auras)

Gramlor, my latest 80, got T10 gloves in Vault10, and then the T10 shoulders from emblems – making it my first character with any T10 and the first with a T10 set bonus to boot. Ironic that it had to be my latest 80, but hey, that’s the nature of the RNG loot from vault. Also, remember when I said that sometimes I don’t check the gear sets of my characters and thus it gets completely out of whack? Gramlor had 19% hit from gear when I started this week…. Now he’s down to a more manageable 11%

Finally, to conclude this latest update on all my toons (which people probably don’t care too much about…), I’m happy to report that my new laptop is working a LOT better than my old one. So maybe I can manage to improve a bit my situational awareness by actually, you know, SEEING the ground shit, and not just guessing where it is based on the three weird pixels moving over there. On the other hand, no more “sorry, didn’t see the void zone” excuse for me…

I’m back!

9 February 2010 § 1 Comment

Three hours after I completed the last post, my computer died completely on me. Two days later, I left for a ski week – which means that buying a new computer had to wait until the following Monday. So, here I am – on a new laptop, working my way through the installation of all applications, the recovery of all my old files (most of which ARE recoverable, thank heavens) and dealing with the usual madness that is one week of news and e-mails and work. The good news is that my new laptop should handle WoW better than the old one (and yes, I play WoW on a laptop – the size of my apartment means I don’t really have a dedicated space for a PC, so a laptop makes more sense) – better processor, more RAM, about the same graphics card. The bad news is that I went from a traditional US keyboard, to a dumb French one. You may think this is a relatively minor issue – and it is, in the grand scheme of things. However, the French keyboard is radically different from the US one: it is an AZERTY keyboard, which means your “a” (a fairly common letter, we will agree…) is in the position where you would normally expect a “q”. Also, numbers require the shift key, for some reason (which makes me doubly happy about the number keypad). In short, any spelling mistakes you see for the next two weeks is just me getting used to the weird position of some of the keys.

In the meantime, things have progressed for WoW and for Dawn Vigil. Our holy priest, Naicella/Naieve, has started posting videos on YouTube – which I think is awesome: check them out here. Through those videos, I found out that Dawn Vigil has killed Valthiria, and is working on Sindragosa (may well have killed her Monday, for all I know…).

On the Blizzard side, Frostwing Halls has been released – and the blues announced that Invincible is going to be a 25-man only drop, which of course made 10-man raiders feel snubbed again. Anathema, Dreambound and Ancestral Knowledge all cover the issue, and I don’t think I can add anything more to their considerations. There’s a million ways Blizzard can use to make sure that something as cool as Invincible remains exclusive to the best raiders, without limiting it only to 25-mans. Once again, Blizzard needs to decide whether 10-mans really are a possible developlent path, or not. The good news, out of all this, is that it seems there is a  community of 10-man “hardcore” raiders, which partially answers my question of a while ago – although of course this could be just a very vocal minority as opposed to a decent chunk of the community.

Speaking of Ancestral Knowledge, Rul makes the same suggestion I made about loot ilvl. Now, if only Blizzard listened to us…

And for the final update about the 10-man blogosphere, Anathema is, apparently, hanging up his mindflay and his penance following a /gkick. I may have more to say about this, because the dynamic he describes in his guild made me reflect about the dynamic in own raid – and how to avoid making the same mistakes. For now, I selfishly hope that he reconsiders his decision and finds a new home, simply because I enjoyed reading his blog – and 10-man blogs are rare enough as it is.

And that’s all I have time for, now – I may post some more later on, during maintenance.

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