I’m ready for my expansion, Mr DeMille

10 November 2010 § Leave a comment

I think I finally hit the end-of-expansion slump. I still have technically a lot of stuff to do, but I can hardly manage to find the motivation to do it.

The 10-man raid is still working towards our Heroic Lich King kill. We’re getting the LK down in the 30-20% range regularly, but have a lot of trouble dealing with our exit from the second Frostmourne: for that phase, Vile Spirits have already started to descend, and as we spread out for Defile, our OT needs to collect them all, and somehow, we either spread too much and thus the tank cannot grab them, or Defile nabs us. One of our rogues is now on a 2-week trip, so we got a hunter to replace him: though we did lose some dps, we’re not doing too badly on that front, but the fight is really a struggle, and the fact we’ve been on this for the past 6 months is not exactly helping.

Tsark still has a lot of achievements to work for, but they are just too grindy for me to bother. I probably will start working on a few of them, the ones that I think I have a shot at getting, but I have surprisingly little incentive. Still, there’s a couple from Heroics I still need, and a few scattered ones that I never bothered with and I probably could get. There’s no way I will ever do the fishing ones, though – way too much RNG involved in those. I don’t mind farming too much, but I cannot stand RNG.

Speaking of farming, I cannot farm the ZG mounts on my own, and all the other mounts will still be there when I get to 85 and have an easier time farming them. I did make a list of the pets and mounts I have (yay for sites that help you track these things J), and found out (with some surprise) I did miss a few easy-to-get ones, so I’m now farming ToC dailies to get a Darkspear Raptor (not sure how I missed that one…) and farming Gundrak Raptors to get a Hatchling. Thankfully, the ToC dailies are much more generours in terms of Champion’s Seals (17 per day, so not too bad), and I am farming the Gundrak Raptors with a skinner, so I am getting a lot of leather that I need to buy my last few recipes. I have no clue what’s going to happen with some of the vanilla pets come Cataclysm, though. Case in point: is the Tiny Crimson Whelpling still going to drop from any mobs in Cata? I think I’m going to go farm that one after…

Dawn Vigil is starting to prepare for Cataclysm – in a much better way than we ever did prepare for Wrath. We are likely to be running two 10-man raids and one 25-man, though of course we are still finalising things. We are still looking for a few good raiders, though, so feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in Feathermoon Horde raiding!

My Argent Dawn squad of alts is progressing. Tessarquia, my shaman, is now fairly decently geared (mostly T10, with the exception of trinkets and little else). Osric, the mage, is in 2T10 – I should farm some more Heroics with him, but I just cannot find the motivation. My priest, Theophora, is just starting out Outlands now. The hunter, Lykon, is lvl 43, while my druid, Selvania, is lvl 30-something – these two will probably wait until Cataclysm to get some proper time. It’s kinda fun to level the squad as a unit, though, switching from one to the other depending on who has the most rested xp available. Tessa has also completed the Storm Peaks quests, which just leaves me with Grizzly Hills to explore from the Alliance point of view to have a complete picture. Again, I’m quite happy I’ve managed to see the stories from the other side of the faction divide.

On the negative side, though, the Single Abstract Noun experiment has… not given the results I had hoped for. The guild hardly ever has more than 3-4 people online at any time, and more often than not I am alone in there. This may well be because of my strange play times, but I know of at least two people who left precisely because the guild is not active enough. I think the problem is that most SAN members have mains elsewhere, and with those mains they have friends and raid obligations and what not – and a guild of alts is never going to be very active, which means you’re going to get into a negative spiral of inactivity.

All in all, I think I am getting ready for Cataclysm, especially since the dungeon scene looks a bit more interesting than the Wrath one was. So Deathwing – bring it on!

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Where were we?

18 May 2010 § 1 Comment

Wow, has it really been that long since I updated this? Usual excuses, busy game, busy life, busy everything… A lot has happened in the two weeks or so without updates, so today I’ll just do a quick bullet points update, hopefully getting back into rhythm for the next post.

  • The 10-man raid is kicking ass. Last week we got both Putricide hard AND Sindragosa hard. I always knew that we were close on both fights, and the main reason we stopped doing Sindragosa was the frustration factor of her voice plus the fight mechanics that give us 5 mins of boring fight (but still with killer mechanics) and then 30 secs of total and utter chaos as you switch to P2. So we went to work with Putricide, and put a fair bit of work there too, and had the fight done except for stupid mistakes and some dumb behaviour on my part (I will detail this in a post about Putricide, probably) – which of course meant we got it in 3 tries the following time. The biggest surprise was moving back to Sindragosa after about 3 weeks of not even seeing her, and realising that we were not rusty at all. So yay us, we’re 11/12 Heroic now. This week we will work on the remaining achievements to get our Frostwyrms, then it’s on to LK Heroic.
  • … which is just an UNREAL fight. Because we had an extra raiding day and no bosses up in ICC, we went and pulled him a few times. To say we got roflstomped is putting it mildly. We pulled him four times: the first fight we lasted about 6 secs, as the first infest totally wiped us (yes, Infest – it hurts now). A rapid reassignment of healers (Disc priest on raid to shield everyone and make sure Infest doesn’t even START ticking, druid on tanks to help keeping them up), and we then started getting acquainted with the Shadow Traps of WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I swear, I spent all 4 pulls of the LK giggling like a school kid because of the traps punting us across the whole platform – and a couple of extra zones for good measure… We had one pull where we ALMOST got to the first transition, with one person dead, but then things went south very rapidly. Oh did I mention all this is with a 15% Hellscream buff? I think this will be a long hard slog of a learning process – but that’s ok, we have about a month before Ruby Sanctum goes live, at least (and another 5% Hellscream goodness), so we’ll see.
  • Our raiding roster is changing once again: Ghych, our Shadow priest extraordinaire, needs to leave us because of schedule changes. We will miss his amazing Holy offspecs (whenever we needed him to heal, there was this scary moment as I inspected him to find out what his spec looked like that day: we had “no Guardian Spirit” while working on Algalon, “the Renew spec” in ToC…), and his contributions to the Heroic Blood Princes (MORE WANDING OF THE BOMBS, please!)
  • In a similar vein, Ezma, our tank, may leave us as well starting from next week. We are even sadder about this, not just because we’re losing an excellent tank and a great friend, but also because the circumstances leading to her departure are a lot less happy. Let’s just say, I’m wishing Ez the absolute best, and there’s always going to be a place for her in any raid I belong to, once her RL calms down a bit. And remember Ez – use your cooldowns!
  • Back on Argent Dawn, my elemental shaman has got to Northrend. I’m blown away at how much more interesting Valgarde is compared to Vengeance Landing… it’s kinda nice to finally see the other half of the stories in Wrath – because let’s admit it, Blizz put a lot more efforts in stories through quests in this expansion than in the last two…
  • Also, I started a priest on Argent Dawn, because I wanted to check out the quests in the southern part of Eastern Kingdoms. All I have to say is – either levelling in Westfall is VERY POORLY DONE, or levelling as a priest sucks, or I do. I don’t remember having to wand things down on Tsark, nor having to drink every pull that I don’t do that. I hope things are going to improve in Cataclysm, because this is by far the worst levelling experience I’ve had (and I’m happy I got through it with Tsark before I realised how needlessly hard it was, because I really enjoying playing a priest now).

That’s all for today – hopefully will be back with our regular programming from now on. See you in Azeroth!

… and the other classes

13 April 2010 § Leave a comment

Given I’m an altoholic, I thought I’d comment on the changes for other classes – at least the ones I play at 80. Keep in mind that my grasp of the mechanics of the other classes is much more superficial than priests’, so there’s a high chance I may misinterpret stuff. MMO-Champion has a nice compilation of all the class changes here.

Druid

Very unexciting, if  you ask me. I like the Eclipse change: although I’ve become better at not missing procs (thank you Quartz), I can understand that in raid situations having an Eclipse proc at the wrong time can be really frustrating. Leaving the control of the proc a bit more on the player sounds like a good idea. I really cannot get excited about Wild Mushroom – or Efflorescence. I do agree however that druids had WAY too many tools already, so it’s a good idea to focus on rebalancing them all, rather than adding new unused icons. Sadly, though, that does take away some of the excitement off this preview…

Shaman

On the enhancement side, the biggest improvement is for low-levels shamans, it seems, with the introduction of Primal Strike. All good for them, because levelling enhancement is really boring until lvl 30 (Windfury) and 40 (Stormstrike and Dual Wield) – but kinda pointless for me, given my shaman is already at 80. Unleash Weapon is interesting, but I’m a bit worried about the addition of yet another action to a rotation that already watches five different short cooldowns (shocks, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Maelstrom, Fire Nova), two longish ones (Feral Spirits and Fire Elemental) and a buff (Lightning Shield). Not that I’m complaining about the rotation, mind you – it’s a lot of fun when you get into it. I’m just not sure about adding yet another element to it. The good news is that it seems Blizz is aware of this, and is planning to do something (maybe increasing Lava Lash cooldown to let us do other things). I would have liked to have a reworking of Shamanistic Rage: currently it’s a defensive cooldown, that also regens your mana – and becomes offensive with the 2T10 bonus. Seems a bit overcharged to me.

For Elemental, the big news seems to be the introduction of Earthquake as a new channeled AoE – and the baking in of the spellpower bonus into any Fire Totem. This latter thing is nice and something shamans have asked for a long time – and they could probably use an AoE, although I don’t particularly like channeled ones.

Resto gets Spirit Link, Healing Rain and Spiritwalker’s Grace – and a nice mastery bonus. Spirit Link and the bonus have potential, though it seems they would move shamans towards tank healing. If Spirit Link is a cooldown, it could actually be what they badly needed: an “ohshit” button to push.

All in all, a bit vague, but actually not too bad.

Warlocks

Dark intent seem interesting, if very derivative of Focus Magic. Fel Flame could be quite nice, especially given that it’s insta-cast. Demon Soul needs more detail, before I can form an opinion – but yes, I can see this as something that at least makes sense for warlocks. The new soul shards system will definitely add a new layer to the game, although I think I’ll need to play with it to get a feel.

I definitely like the fact that they will phase out the Metamorphosis special abilities, as I really wasn’t a big fan of those. Demon Bolt leaves me kinda unexcited – Demonology is already unique in juggling three different nukes (Incinerate, Shadowbolt and Soulfire), and we still have 3 DoTs (Corruption, Immolate and the curse), so, once again, I’m not sure I want to add more stuff to do on either side.

The change of Curses is a nice idea – freeing up the utility from the additional dps is welcome, and consistent with the shaman fire totem change.

Mage

I saved the best for last. This is by far the most exciting preview I’ve seen – I don’t think there’s anything I DON’T like.

Mage bloodlust is definitely going to be awesome for 10-man raids. We actually have multiple shamans in our raid (although we recently lost one, we’re still left with an enhancement and an elemental one), so we didn’t have the problem ourselves, but I know other raids have, and it’s nice to have options. Flame Orbs sound really cool, with some great potential in PvP and PvE. Wall of Fog seems more geared towards PvP, but is generally a cool spell, so yay for that too. Most importantly, they all sound very appropriate to the mage class!

I also think the mastery talent for Arcane is really intriguing. The developers said that they tried out the whole gamut of possibilities for mastery talents, from boring damage/healing increases to more active stuff, because they want to see which ones feel better. Honestly, I hope they go for the more active stuff: things like Eclipse for Druids and Mana Adept for Mages sound a lot more exciting than “additional nature damage”.

Well, that concludes the quick tour of classes – except of course for paladins, which will be unveiled tomorrow. In general, I think the developers have the right idea when they say it’s better to rething some mechanics and simplify the game, cutting off the useless clutter, than to add “new stuff” that will either make old stuff obsolete or create endless balancing problems. Hence the reduction in totems for shamans (but the increase in utility of the fire ones) and the lack of new spells for druids. Shamans will hurt from the loss of Cleansing Totem, but that’s really due to a different design choice, and that’s the rethinking of dispelling in general.

I think some of the classes seem to have better direction or to be more progressed than others – or simply are going into directions that shine more when it comes to previews like this. All in all, though, this definitely sounds like a game I want to still play!

Updates in a rush

23 March 2010 § 1 Comment

I have a couple of long posts in the making, but I spent a lot of time today already posting over on our new guild forums (which are awesome, and all thank to Irons), so I really don’t have the time or the patience to work on the long posts here. So, you get treated to some quick updates on what I’ve been doing (I know, you all can’t wait, right?).

The raid is hitting a bit of a brick wall. A combination of attendance issues, with some low morale, has caused pretty poor perfomance, which has started a bad vicious circle, so we stalled this past couple of weeks (as I partly posted last Wednesday). However, I’m pretty confident we will solve all this soon, mostly because for the first time in ages I really don’t think we have a “problem raider” in the group, neither in terms of skills nor in terms of personality (and yes, we’ve had both – several times).

Gearwise, Torjin, my mage, got his T10 gloves from vault, the 264 version. I managed to get enough badges to get the T10 robes from the vendor (the 251 version of course), so now he has 2T9 and 2T10 – the fourth of my characters to do so. He also completed Loremaster, which took a bit of search for the right quests, but hey, it’s done. Tsark is finally getting his 4T10 this week – too bad I’m unlikely to use it unless I get into a 25man raid, given that the set bonus really is geared towards shield spamming (and the 2T9 set bonus for mending is too good to give up). The gearing up on my other alts has slowed down, mostly because I’ve been focusing on levelling my Alliance space-goat lightning-shooter.

Wait, what?

Yep, as I breifly mentioned before, I rolled a draenei elemental shaman on Argent Dawn, as part of the Single Abstract Noun social experiment. The shaman is now level 29, on the verge of getting Reincarnation – and enjoying the quests in Ashenvale and the PUGs through Gnomeragan. It’s been actually nice to be able to level with a good community around myself, and the fact I got to lvl 30 so quickly bodes well. The biggest perk has been having a very active guild chat window (I had to change the size of it, to be able to follow it without having to scroll up constantly), and discovering a lot of interesting small blogs out there, which are small and quirky and a bit off the trodden path, but quite interesting. It’s like being used to the Hollywood blockbusters of the blogs, and being treated to the French Nouvelle Vague movies: sometimes you don’t understand what these blogs say, sometimes you think they are full of crap, but most often they just wow you, and you’re not sure why. I will have to change my links soon to reflect that – and it’s getting to the point where I will also have to reorganise them, because there’s just too many.

The guild itself has grown exponentially, beyond all expectations of its founders. I think the US chapter has more than 800 members now, with lots of being lowbie. It’s kinda nice to explore Alliance that way, and it’s funny to see people taking long afks to go read each other’s blogs (they are in the guild notes). My readership has shot up this last week, and I’m sure this has something to do with it. On the flip side, I think I died at least twice because I started following links and forgot to move my character to a safe spot…

SAN has had its share of drama, both real and fake. The real drama is, I think, an exercise in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Lots of the players in SAN are new to the whole concept of RP, and Argent Dawn is an RP server. Most people ask in guilds about the RP expectations in such a server. Others just stumbled into Goldshire and were… surprised. So they just gawked and pointed and laughed at the “fail RP”. The veteran RPers then pointed out that doing this is dangerous and counterproductive – and tempers flared.  Anyway, the incident seems closed, but I think it will have some big consequences. For one, Crazyhealer has closed her blog as a result of this, which is a shame – not because I was such a huge fan of hers (I had discovered her literally the day before), but simply because “any man’s death diminishes me”, to quote John Dunne. But also, this incident, coming so early in the history of the guild, may tarnish its image in the eye of the bloggers and readers who were thinking about trying it out – and thus make SAN lose out on potential people, discussions and links, which is really the main wealth of this guild.

As for the fake drama? Medicina is a bossy meany – just try to ask her about the guild bank, and you’ll see what she answers.

Single Abstract Noun recruiting

8 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Because I didn’t have my hands full enough with six 80s to gear/do heroics/raid with, I answered the call by Miss Medicina and rolled a draenei shaman on Argent Dawn. I don’t expect I will play there very often, or go very far, but hey, I couldn’t pass the chance to hobnob it with the bloggerati……

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…

Craaaaaazy!

22 January 2010 § Leave a comment

Toys in the attic, I’m craaaaazy!

Well, actually no – I’m not going to ask a groupie to run to the bedroom, in the suitcase on the left you’ll find my favourite axe. However, my life has been a bit crazy in the last two weeks, which resulted in me missing the raid both times. Last week, I had to rush home because my father had a minor medical emergency (which seems to be on the way to getting better, thankfully), and this week I spent the night before the raid worshipping the porcelain gods, thanks to a fantastic stomach bug that seems to be doing the rounds around here (my nephews had the same, so I may have got it while I was home visiting, ironically enough). That means I have yet to see the Crimson Halls, and/or attempt Putricide after what I last reported. My raid is doing ok, though they still haven’t got Putricide: apparently, they got caught in a 2-healers are not enough, 3-healers make us lose too much dps kinda situation, so hopefully my coming to heal may improve that, right? Right?

Ok , don’t answer that, never mind….

Hopefully, next Monday I’ll be able to go for the last 6 attempts on Putricide, and we’ll get him down (I hope). Then, next Wednesday, I’ll be there for the full clear.

In other news, I think I’m almost done with Emblems of Triumph loot for most of my alts – which is awesome on one side, pretty sad on the other. I guess I’ll start getting a lot of gems from now on…

In other, other news, I’m reorganising my links. Mostly, I found a couple of good resources for 10-man raiding strats and comments, and I decided to group them together with the Anathema blog by Sinespe. So, the 10-man raiding link category is born!

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