Thursday, August 27, 2009

Push it real good...

By now everyone and their brother who's running ToC has discovered that the Twins are horribly under-tuned (to be hotfixed for next week - maybe already done). We waltzed in having seen nothing but a crazy German video (coupled with horrible techno) and not only one-shot it, but got the 3 minute kill as well. It makes me cry.

On another sad note, we lost the race to the server first 10 man Algalon kill. We finally had a couple transitions where we were all living through the first big bang, and things are at least looking a little better. Situational awareness is still a problem (for everyone), so that's something we're all working on.

As a side note - I hate respeccing on the fly. I always screw something up. I went holy for the champions fight in ToC, and since I was trying to squeeze in the PvP talents, I missed some key PvE ones...I truly hate that fight.

I don't mind the randomness, or that it's challenging - but it's so unlike any PvE fight...and we're not a PvP guild. Right now this is the only fight that is giving me pause when I think about Heroic mode.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three spell wishlist - and a flannel shirt

First - I wanted to burst out into some "I'm a lumberjack and that's OK" song, because that's one achievement I'll never do again. It wasn't super difficult, other than our 3rd tank was really our rogue on his alt. Decently geared, but still...not a lot of raid tanking experience since say...Magmadar. Fortunately it's mostly just stand here and don't get instagibbed - and watch for sun beams, and roots, oh and fists of stone - don't forget the ground tremors.....

Yeah - never again.

We also got the "Back to Nature" achievement, and worked two new players through 1 Light. I also managed to pick up some new tank gear from ToC...and three more fragments. Twenty-Three is the count now, and I have a standing invite to a Three lights kill as soon as I have all Thirty. Here's hoping it happens fairly soon. I'm afraid with ToC Heroic coming out soon, our Ulduar PUG may fall by the wayside.

Three Spell Wishlist

Cataclysm isn't anywhere near in our future, but since GC mentioned that every class would get a few new spells - I thought I'd at least put my ideas out there.


As much as I'd love to call for some kind of new Protection shiny, I'm really struggling to find what that would be. Ardent Defender is already six different kinds of over-powered, we have two great taunts, and our 9/6/9 rotation is as easy as it gets. I suppose a new situational button - like spell reflect - would be nice, and it would be nice to have an interrupt shorter than 20 seconds (and that's 4 talent points to get as well).

I'm sure that other protadins might disagree, but really all the necessary tools are there. We have an amazing front load on threat, ranged pull, one of the best "OH SHIT" buttons in the game, and the amazingly overpowered Ardent Defender. Sorry, but our toolkit is pretty good. A short CD interrupt would be really nice though.


I'm not sure what Ret needs either. It's not tuned right to be sure, and I'm definately not the best retadin around. I really am not a fan of the system, I always feel like I'm tripping over my cooldowns. It might have something to do with my keybinds being primarily set for tanking and healing, but there's still something that feels off. Repentance is a pretty nice CC (in PvE, the CD is really long in PvP), but like prot we could really use some sort of interrupt on a shorter CD.

I'm fairly certain we'll get another "Hand" type spell, maybe one that boosts damage? Hand of Enlightenment - increases haste by x% for 12 seconds - or something. Right now all our Hands are set for being helpful. Maybe a Hand of Pain - increases damage taken by x% for 10 seconds. Make the CD enough so you couldn't use it all the time, maybe like heroism. It would be tough to balance so that it didn't become overpowered - especially if it was a baseline hand that every paladin had.


True. A. O. E. Heal. The changes to BoL are fantastic, in that we can now go back to whack a mole on the raid without worry of the tank dying. Unfortunately we're still stuck with the 2(3) base healing spells. Big Hammer or Little Hammer. Maybe if the HoT that we get from SS/FoL combos became baseline for FoL, or if the splash from HL became smart instead of hitting that rogue who avoided all the damage. Or maybe, just maybe, a medium sized heal.

With the current state of things, bombing HL is only really viable if you can get in some melee swings to proc SoW. This is where we used to see the downranked HL come into play. Not so big as to be insane, but bigger than FoL.

Did I mention an interrupt yet?

How about something from another school besides Holy. I know we're drawing on the power of the light and all - but to be completely locked out of every ability is a bit much. At the very least take judgements and attacks off the list.

Proc based healing. Maybe something along the lines of the druid eclipse where you can proc into faster or bigger heals. Just something to give it some jazz(hands).

Hmm - maybe there's a reason I don't work for Blizzard designing spells and talents.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ToC Champions Strat

So I realized that I hadn't actually put any of our strats down on paper - and that's partially because they change from week to week. Mostly though it's because ToC has been lol-faceroll, and I haven't bothered.

Champions - aka PvP like you mean it

Our first encounter with the champions included a spriest, tree druid, holy paladin, DK, Enhance shaman, and hunter with cat pet.

We had two Retadins (I went ret for the DPS), two boomkins, a mage, a heal priest (spec unknown, he's always changing), a tree, two rogues, and a DK (welcome new guy!).

***Try One***

After the initial LOL-wipe that I think everyone experienced (honestly, appearing on our heads?!?!), we tried CCing the spriest and paladin, and killing the druid. This ended badly.

***Try Two***

We tried CCing (chain CCs with swapping Cyclone and Sheep for DRs) everything but the tree. The CC was immediately broken by Consecrate and Divine Storm - and this wipe also ended poorly.

***Try Three***

Sap on spreist and healadin, cyclone on the tree and the hunter, sheep on the shaman. All CC was one 12 sec burst only, with everyone focusing on DPS and CCing at will. The key to this pull was focusing the DK down first, then killing the tree. Two rogues spamming FoK with wound poison and mind numbing poison (FoK interrupt spec as well) helped a ton. This will go away soon, so enjoy it while you can (the interrupts).

Once the DK was dead, the tree died, and we burned the paladin until he BoP'd (not a full bubble) and was killed by the casters. After that it was cake through the DPSers and we finished with everyone standing.

Not quite sure how we're going to do them all within 60 seconds of each other....maybe with heroism or something.

I honestly have no clue as to how we actually won, as I was too busy Divine Storming for greatness to see the whole fight. The DK Death Grip pull was a key part though - and I'm glad we had New Guy there to handle it.

Nerf Champions

ToC brought out the Champions fight last night, and I'm calling for nerfs. We wiped twice AND didn't get the achievement. What a crock. Fortunately we one shot the other two bosses and then picked up two achievements out of Ulduar (another server first - Can't Do That While Stunned). We got some nice drops, and we're slowly accumulating badges.

I really like the new gear method too. Get enough badges and/or tokens, and you can get yourself some pretty sick gear. Even with badges being handed out from the Heroic Daily, it takes a bit of time to accumulate a set if you're not running 25s, and it will make finding the 'good' players go beyond just looking at gear.

OK - so gear isn't always what makes a player good, there's more to it than that to be sure. Achievements help establish a baseline, but there's nothing like trying someone out in a raid to test them.

Our 10th

We finally picked up what I hope will be our permanent 10th player this week - though if our shaman keeps up the antics we may be looking for a new one of those as well. Great guy, great player - but he's had some spotty attendance these last few weeks (had some RL issuses to be sure) and has pretty much used up all his get out of jail free cards.

Our new DK seems to be pretty good. Great attitude, knowledgeable about his class, willing to do some retarded spec if we let's just hope he shows up :) Honestly though, I think he's off to the right start with us. Changed specs when asked, did good DPS given his gear level, and most importantly - didn't die to dumb stuff. He even rolled with the punches as we threw him face first into hardmodes and fights he'd never seen.

Also, and this was huge - we learned something important. Range plays no part in the agro table of Prince Vampire-boy in OK. DK had gone afk back near the stairs after the first boss, and we were pulling Vampire-boy. During one blood sucking move he ported all the way to the DK, and killed him while we watched (and laughed). To his credit when he came back from the AFK he didn't bitch or cry - he just ran back to us and kept on going.

That's points.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enough of the Cataclysm

Everywhere you look these days there's nothing but speculation about Cataclysm and the upcoming 'new hotness'. Worgen, Goblins, and Paladin Cows OH MY!!

Oh barf.

We're still months away from the proposed 3.2.2 release, Heroic ToC is two weeks out, and the only official word we have on IC right now is that there will be 31 bosses (gg Street, gg). Some idiots have even started debating what the next re-rolls will be and looking at mechanics for an expansion that doesn't even have a projected release date yet.

Right now my focus is ToC, and unfortunately, Algalon. We've got two or three more solid weeks of attemtps on him before Heroic ToC is out, and after that it's Kitty-bar-the-door, because I can see us running both lockouts of that every week - especially if tonight's PvP encounter is like the first two.

Personally, I'm still waiting to get my teeth kicked in - but I don't think that's going to happen until Heroic mode. Still though, it would at least give us a reality check. Two shotting bosses we've never seen before is kinda sad. At least the loot is nice. We pugged the stuff in 25s for crying out loud - and some of the people in that group were dumber than a sack of hammers.

Really though - I hope that people shut up about the next xpac soon - though I imagine that after BlizCon that's all we'll hear about for a while.

And yes - I did buy the live stream. SO?

Also - Tauren Paladin - I may be saved from Jazz Hands after all...JAAZZZZ HAAAANNNNNDDDSSSSS!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Onyxia would work - without CoT

Blah, blah, blah - Ony deep breaths more - blah blah...woah what?

Onyxia? Again? What a friggin lore whole this is. Even with the CoT instance, fighting Onyxia brings up some serious issues with the game, but they are ones we can work around.

Problem 1) In offical Canon Lore - Varian kicks Onyxia's tail all over Azeroth and his doppleganger self dies in the process. Onyxia is dead. Long live the King.

Problem 2) I've personally hung her head on the walls of SW no less than a dozen times. Someone get me a torch, we're stopping this regeneration.

Problem 3) Onyxia was a major hurdle. While this is coming in November, that tells us that IC isn't coming until Christmas (always nice when you can deduce timelines). Even if the fight is trivial, this is 3.2.2 and has been touted as a 'content' patch. Interesting.

OK - so how do we fix this?

The easiest solution is COT. Maybe we go back and fight in some kind of encounter that would prevent the time guys from borking her capturing of Varian. Seems kind of like a cop out - and if we kick her butt, how would that help?

Second, and my favorite, gets really convoluted.

Deathwing (Neltharion) is still alive and kicking under Grim Batol. He's been locked behind the doors, guarded by the Red Dragonflight, and who knows what he's been up to. Ideally, I'd like to think he's busting out X-man style, and maybe has made a deal with Arthas in the interim.

He's had some setbacks in the death of Onyxia and Nefarion, plus his Twilight Dragonflight has gotten pushed over with the deth of Sartharion and his brood. Deathwing has to be getting desperate at this point, even though he has been planning to take over the world since before the sundering.

So maybe he makes a deal with Arthas to raise his brood as skeletal dragons, offering to help topple the opposing army, and swelling his undead army with fresh supplicants. Fighting Onyxia as some kind of undead would be a neat twist - and fighting Deathwing (because you know Arthas wouldn't make a 'real' deal with him).

All of this is even cooler with some of the datamined information leaked about Cataclysm. We may actually be fighting Deathwing in the next expansion - after we weaken him in IC that is.

Or they could just add Ony without any lore as another way to help get loot to non hard mode raiders.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some thoughts on ToC

First - I want to voice my irritation at Blizzard for recording our achievments in GMT instead of server time. I suppose you have to use some kind of fixed standard, but still. Grr. This has cost us twice now, as we've picked up new 10 man achievements on both nights of new content.

Quick overview. Lord Jarraxus is a pushover. Nobody read strats, watched videos, or did anything beyond a basic ability lookup. We knew there were adds, fire, and something that had to do with infernals. There was some kind of volcano spewing fire, and I kited the boss around a touch to avoid fire. Without even trying we two shot it, and got the 360 pain spike achievement as well.

Add in the Upper Back Pain achievement, and we're now sitting at 5th/3rd in World/US strict 10 man achievements - and this is while we're still pugging a 10th while we search for that perfect replacement.

Content for everyone?

I really think Blizzard hit the nail right on the head with ToC content being so easy, though the achievements are kind of a joke. This content should be easily puggable, and available to anyone who has an average level of raid skills. This keeps the casual and non-hard core player happy because they get to see the content and experience the end game, while leaving the heroic modes for the truly dedicated.

Is it a lazy design? Maybe. I don't know how many guilds will push the heroic part of the content, and I'm sure that there will be complaints that player "Istandinfire" (or the pug who ate 50% of the Cosmic Smashes on Algalon) can't get the best loot - but at least they can do the content while it's current.

I also like the ability to farm easy modes without screwing myself out of heroic mode loot. This is a problem with Ulduar - especially if you're farming achievements.

Overall - I like ToC. I haven't tried the new dalies though. Even if I do get a pony...ugh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One point at a time

So now that we're in this state of flux with still looking for our 10th member - last night was kind of a wash. We had another week of no Algalon attempts (seriously - wtb all 10 members on at once) due to some issues with our shaman. So instead, we spent the night trying out a new potential member.

While the content was really simple (9 man Naxx), we were able to do a couple things. First, we watched him chain pull. Second, we got Undying and Shocking for those that didn't have it (Followed by A Poke in the Eye), and now have a few members just one achievement away from Glory of the Raider. Old content? You bet. But it moves us one step closer to breaking into the top 3 world wide for strict 10 man achievements.

Tonight we'll try for "Upper Back Pain" plus anything we might get off the second boss in ToC. Then it's off to Ulduar where we're going for Open Arms, Who needs Bloodlust, and one of the Freya achievements.

Here's my question though.

How in the world are we supposed to do "Coming Out of the Walls"? I've been looking it over, and I'm just not seeing how to kill nine of those buggers at once. The healers are going to have to be amazing for all those shadow volleys, and we don't have a ton of AoE to begin with. I'm thinking paladin tank, with guardian spirit on them, plus one paladin with a bubble sac, and the other with a hand of sac. Paladin tank bubble walls at the last second...I suppose it could work. We managed to get the Yogg speed kill last week, sans our shaman - so that was pretty nice.

All in all things are progressing fairly smoothly. I still want Algalon dead, but we need a steady 10 before we go in there again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Working as intended?

It's no new revelation that tossing on Seal of Wisdom and smacking a boss around between heals is a great way to get mana back during an intense fight. This was my preferred method of mana regeneration when we were first doing fights like XT and Razorscale - just take those few moments of down time to smack the boss once or twice. At 4% max mana returned per hit, it doesn't take long to fill that bar back up.

This has been mentioned a few times as a 'secret' way to get mana back, and there's this hope that maybe GC and the team haven't figured out this little gem yet and that's why it hasn't been nerfed. I suppose it's possible, but I have a different theory.

What if?

So every class has some form of tool at their disposal to regen mana outside of replenishment or pots. Shamans have water shield, druids have innervate and the mana return of Life Bloom (yes, I know it's only there to compensate for the high cost and to keep you from rolling LB), priests have something else (this isn't a priest blog - so forgive my ignorance). My point though is that everyone has something they can use to return mana back.

This may just be our tool.

Illumination and high replenishment made it too easy. There was no decision or choice made, you simply dropped bombs like you were Schwarzkoph in Bagdahd, without a care in the world. Even the 50% debuff caused by Divine Plea could be offset by wings, or simply eaten if you timed it right (phase changes on Mimiron?). Paladins were literally a 2 button class, with very little thought into our healing.

Now with 3.2, a whole new world is forced upon us. 30% return on crits and a reduced replenishment (plus less Int overall) has pushed us more towards a FoL spam with HL thrown in for those Oh Novos! moments. This of course leads to the problem that without Lights Grace up, you're still looking at a near 2 sec cast. Casting back to back 1 sec FoLs may be better still - especially if your Holy Shock is up. Plus with BoL using all overheals, you can pop FoL with reckless abandon.

There's still the nagging problem of mana though, especially if you get into a situation where you have to rock the Holy Lights. I did some healing in ToC 25 this weekend, and I noticed the same thing I've seen before. Most, if not all, bosses have time where you can get in some melee without a huge risk to the tank. Especially if you coordinate with your other healers.

This is the 'choice' tool we've been given though. Much like a warlock who can stop DPSing for a GCD to lifetap, we can stop healing for a moment to get a few swings off. As long as the tank is topped, there isn't a lot that will instagib him, and those few seconds of melee can return a lot of mana. It's a juggling act though - you have to time it between boss abilities, interrupts, and the risk of your tank getting folded while you wind up your casting again.


Like I thought before, this isn't the end of Paladin healing, and tanking right now is just plain awesome. Ret is in a good place as well, and overall I think that the paladin class is doing well - at least in PvE. PvP is a whole other can of worms.

Oh yeah, nothing swells your epeen like being called a 'God of tanking" by some guild you joined for a PuG Naxx run. When the MT died to something (I think chain Iceblocks), tank #2 tied to I don't know what, I gathered up KT and then his four adds and managed to hold on until we could finish the fight. Of course we all know that it was a combination of several things that made it possible. 1) the dumb people were already dead, 2) with no OTs I was getting all the heals available, and 3) I'm in mostly 226 gear with some 232 stuff thrown in.

But hey, who am I to deny it? It's old school tanking all over for me. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to run with the healers to back it up.

Get off the table Pepy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finding the 10th

So last night I logged onto this gem of conversation.

Tobias> Hey man - we need a 10th.
Me> Can't, GF is cooking dinner. Just doing my daily transmute.
Tobias> No, a 10th for tomorrow. Check the guild roster.

So our newly aquired Ret/Prot/Healadin decided that pure 10 man content wasn't for him, and we lost him to the top 25 man guild on the server. Fair enough I suppose. Even though right now we're sitting at 3rd in the US for progression (9th in the world) for 10 man pure guilds. Eh - what can you do.

Now we're pugging a lock we tried a week ago (seems good), but he's a member of the #2 25 man guild on the server. We have to be really careful about folks running 25 man content, as it can kick us out of the pure 10 man ratings. Which lets face it - is pretty important to our epeens.

Ahh - recruiting. What a pain in the arse. Fortunately we can be extremely selective about who we pick up. We have a few more weeks until the AC Heroics are out, although we still need to get Algalon down as quickly as possible. With any luck this lock will work out as someone who will raid with us full time - but only time will tell.

This is of course the drawback to having such a small guild. We have zero bench to draw from. The upside is that nobody sits, there's no drama about who's not raiding this week, and it's a small enough group of people that a phone call can resolve any scheduling conflicts.

Oh yeah - and achievements being recorded in GMT FTL. We totally got the Jormungers on the 4th...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Patch Aftermath - specs/thoughts/HowTo's

So with 3.2 rolled out last night, my first trip was to the Curse website to try and get my addons fixed. With only about 1/2 of them working properly, I instead raided with nothing but default raid frames and zero addons. I have to say, I'm extremely impressed with the changes in the default UI over the years. While my screen wasn't 'as' sexy, the only thing I really missed was Bartender. I'd gotten used to having my main abilities up on a separate bar, but it wasn't too bad.

So with all my addons disabled, and my keys rebound, my first stop was the trainer for a quick respec of both my Prot and my Ret builds. Here's the quick breakdown.

For Prot I kept the standard 0/53/18 build - opting to toss two points into Vindication and two points into Pursuit of Justice. I like having the extra run speed for picking up adds and kiting, and since we don't have a warrior in our 10 man group, reducing the mobs AP with a standard judgement (which also slows their attack speed) is pretty nice. Rhidach over at Righteous Defense has a good post comparing the TPS of different builds - look it over if you're thinking about picking up JotP instead.

One major thought - Ardent Defender is ridiculously OP now. No button to hit, no worries about using it early - just fires when needed.

For Ret I consulted with the oracles, and then picked the brain of my resident retadin. Between snarky comments about healing, and hating on the changes to replenishment, old Toby and I (ok, fine - it was mostly him) managed to come up with this build. It loses a little of the raid utility, but it still has Divine Sacrifice. It also seems to hit like a truck. Then again, I may finally be figuring out how to ret. My DPS went from 2500 to 3300 just by spending some time on the target dummy and getting a key upgrade from our resident Doomchicken (mmm - Greatness).

I didn't change what would normally be my healing spec - though I'm fairly certain it will be 51/20/0 by the end. I can still heal passably well in either my Ret or my Prot builds though (for 5 mans), so I'm not stressing it too much. If I can get in a 25 man PUG I might go Holy just to test it out.

Beasts of Northrend

Now for the real meat - the new 10 man raid.

First impression - Grom has about 300k more HP than Varian. I was also disappointed to see the Horde and Alliance on opposite sides of the arena. You'd think that with the threat of both an Old God and Arthas knocking on the door that the Horde and Alliance could come together. Of course, Varain is packing more baggage than a sherpa, and it's not like Thrall is traveling light either.

Second - get on with the show already. Blah, blah, blah. Serious Tirion, shuddup already. Do something useful like finding a way to rez Bolvar. Then we'll chat.

Now the fight itself.

The initail pull starts with one a manguatar or some such. He's got an impale that leaves a fairly nasty DOT on the tank - make sure your tanks switch every 30 seconds. He also throws 'Snobalds' at random raid members. They need to be targeted and killed like Freya's Iron Roots - although there is an achievement to go the entire fight with at least two of them still alive. Maybe next week we'll give this a go. He also throws fire around the raid, and has a knockdown AoE with about a 15yd range. All in all - not a very difficult first encounter.

The second wave has not one, but TWO, TWO HA HA HA HA (sorry, Sesame Street flashbacks there) Jormungers. Once shoots fire, the other poison - and one is kited while the other stays rooted. The most challenging mechanic here is that occasionally someone will get hit with a paralytic poison that has to be 'burned off' by someone with a fire debuff. It's actually a good mechanic - as the whole raid has to watch for it. Also, the fire debuff burns folks around you, so you can't stand in the middle of the raid with it.

We handled the two worms by splitting our DPS between the two, and then killing them together R&J style. We got an achievement for it, and it honestly seems easier than nuking them separately since that will enrage the other one. The armory hasn't been updated yet, so I don't know if that was a world first for 10 man pure guilds or not.

Finally a big ice yeti thing comes out, and he's 'basically' a tank and spank. He will do a random jump to the middle with a ground smash, and then he targets someone and charges at them. You get a speed boost to get out of the way, and if you're successful he'll stun himself on the arena wall a'la Looney Toons bull style. If you stand there and try to eat it he'll one shot you and then enrange and beat the crap out of the tank.

Overall a fun fight. I'm glad it didn't involve any mounts or jousting (I hate the jousting) like the five man does. I'm looking forward to the next boss though, and eventually doing these guys on heroic.

Tomorrow is our shots on Algalon - here's hoping.