Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ruby Sanctum Awesomeness

So I piled myself into a 10m RS PUG last night (the loot table bores me, but I wanted to see it once) and I immediately warmed up to the zone. The group I was in wasn't the sharpest bunch of tacks, but we killed the three mini bosses and had a bit of time on Halion. Here's my initial thoughts.


I love the trash. Just love it. Bunch them up and AoE for great justice. Then watch your tank get folded, your DPS die in a Blast Wave, and start flying back on your spectral griffon. No, these trash take a little coordination (pull one out, etc) and focused fire. Fire Aura is your friend here (shocker, I know).

Mini Boss #1

This is the Draconid standing on the left when you enter. I don't know what he does, but one of our tanks got folded like an origami swan that you just jammed into your pocket. I think there's some kind of switch that should go on here - even after he forms a copy of himself at 50%. Either way, a tank died inside of 1 GCD - so it was epic.

Mini Boss #2

This is a little drake sitting off to the right in the instance near some water. I'm fairly certain that the pool in Ulduar is still the only water in Northrend that extinguishes fire - so don't bother standing here. The drake uses the standard "Don't stand near someone with a mark" mechanic and puts a Conflag on them. Spreading out and staying away from the drake's face work well here.

Mini Boss #3

This is one of those squat looking draconids, similar to the trash you've been pulling. Using a cleave and an armor debuff, you have to swap tanks after every 20 or 30 seconds (after the adds die is a good time). Uses a stand in place fear to add a moment of danger, especially when the spriest uses fear ward on themselves and he decides to ignore the feared tank. Tip - don't back up through the smokey/fiery wall or you'll be out of LOS from your healers.


Halion uses the "Don't stand in fire", "Don't stand in circles of death", and "Don't eat lazors" mechanics. He also has the "Raid must work together to DPS both versions" mechanic. Halion also has a hit box that makes Onyxia's look like a pinhead. Ahune's hitbox may be slightly smaller, but just slightly. I'm fairly certain I saw Rhonin DPSing from Dalaran.

Short version of the fight is this.

100%-75% - DPS like you mean it. Don't stand in the fire, watch the tail whip/cleave, and cleanse off the fire debuff AFTER someone runs away from the raid. Honestly, letting it stack 2 or 3 times is better than cleansing this off in the middle of the raid.

75%-50% - Everyone but one tank and one healer into the portal. Large hit box here still, and the same mechanic for cleansing as Phase 1 (the difference being if you stand in/near it you will get pulled in to the center of it instead of pushed away). There are two orbs spinning around the outside of the room that will occasionally join with a beam that will one shot you - easily the deadliest part of the encounter.

49%-loot - Split your raid between the shadow and the corporeal, and just burn him down. You want your DPS to be as even as possible (so I've heard), and just avoid the same mechanics as above.

Uh - so why is this great again?

OK, maybe the encounter isn't all that and a bag of Lich King chips (BBQ flavored), but it is something new that will be a challenge for PUGs everywhere. I imagine by next week you won't be able to get into a regular RS 10m kill without a "5700GS + achiev or no invite", even though the fight isn't overly difficult. It certainly won't hold my attention for more than a few kills, and I'll probably never step foot in it again once I get a 10m or 25m kill. The gear just isn't that exciting for my Paladin.

The encounter certainly wouldn't be enough to keep me from canceling my account (if I was going to), and won't be enough to stave off the masses until Cataclsym's release in Oct/Nov. With the closed Beta opening up today, we'll probably see open Beta in August, and the release event coming in late September or early October - with a release to coincide with the weekend after Blizzcon (I'm guessing). Unless I misread Halion's shadow, we've still got 12 more weeks of winter ahead of us.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Losing a tank in 1.5 sec - a Beacon of Light story

Yesterday Chase posted a fairly vanilla writeup on Beacon of Light (BoL) best practices, which is probably fairly useful to his target audience - brand new Holy Paladins. He covers the basics of putting BoL on the tank, or yourself, or switching for things like Bonestorm - but he forgot one little caveat that goes with Beacon of Light. Unfortunately, it's a big one.

Haste vs. Damage

As a Holy Paladin I'm constantly slamming as much haste onto my paper doll as I can - to the point where I even passed up a 277 upgrade the other day because I'd lose 80 haste in the process. My Holy Lights are pushing 1.2 seconds, and I'm dangerously close to being over 1000 haste. Between my own CDs and a pocket innervate - I can destroy any content without fear of mana or my target dying. I guarantee that unless my tank gets one shot, there's nothing out there that will take them down. There just isn't a boss that can out damage my Holy Light spam (again, short of one shots) - providing all I have to do is stand in one place and heal one target.

Unfortunately, I have more to worry about than just a single tank. I generally am covering at least both tanks, and providing backup healing for the raid. I'm keeping an eye on environmental damage, Valk's, flying ooze balls, etc. This means I have to occasionally move or shift my healing, which means my perfect stream of 24k HL bombs gets interrupted. It also means that I occasionally have to rely on some of my other tools to get me through the night.

Enter the Beacon

BoL was a great addition to our healing arsenal, and I can't count all the ways that I revel in its deliciousness and awesomeness. Healing the party/raid while having BoL on myself (and just ignoring environmental damage). Laughing in PvP while keeping everyone alive (until that shaman/priest show up and purge/dispell it off me). Mocking healers who struggle to keep two tanks alive on Blood Queen.

Until that is, this happens.

Awesome McAwesomsacue tank has died.

WTF? How on Earth did that happen? No special abilities were used, I had BoL on them - I mean, there's no reason why they should have just gotten turned into a plate pancake. My heals can't miss (although I have done things like BoP the tank by accident), he's well within the 60yd range of well - everyone, and the person I was healing is alive! How is this even remotely possible?

Pulling out the death log, I see something horrifying. While the tank was sitting at around 60% for two seconds, there's a 1.75 sec gap between heals landing. This can't be possible, I'm mashing the HL key like my life depends on it, and my cast time is sitting near 1.2 seconds. My Judgement was still up, BoL was up, hell even Sacred Shield was up. This death was unpossible! Now I'm left standing here trying to explain how I just let a tank die on H-LK (or worse, trash) when I'm supposed to be Hasty McHasterson the great Pally healer. Guess that Val'anyr isn't really getting it done eh?

The hidden killer

In reality, what just killed my tank was the inherent lag that takes place in a BoL heal. As best as I can figure (from parsing logs and checking EJ), is that the heal actually has to register on your target before the system will pass the heal on to your BoL target. From a programming point this makes perfect sense, but it does get a little aggravating when you watch your BoL target get folded because the heal didn't get there in time. This means that all the haste we're stacking, will still result in your HL taking about 2 seconds to land every single time.

If this isn't a selling point for more haste on your gear, I don't know what is. Every single cast you put out will take about .5 sec longer to hit your BoL target. That's about the difference between having a judgment up or not - something we definitely strive for.

Avoiding this gib

There's a couple of ways to get around this little bit of lag accidentally interrupting your perfect string of awesomenss, and thereby avoiding the ire of your party/raid.

Know the encounter

This should go without saying, but you need to know the encounter. While a lot of this will come with experience, you should never be surprised when something happens during a fight. Let's face it, 95% of the encounters we face are so scripted that we have a wide variety of mods and addons to run timers for us. You know when that first Mark is going out, you know when Defile is coming, and you KNOW that Soul Reaper is about to hit your tank for Texa$.

Know your tanks

Right behind knowing the encounter, because in a PuG knowing the encounter is more realistic, is knowing the tanks that you're working with. Start cataloging their survivability. Are they taking a lot of damage on trash? Did you find yourself reaching for additional CDs on the first boss? Keep a mental log and use past experiences to prepare you for the upcoming encounter. While the odds of every PUG tank you heal using ORA2 or some other addon that will let you know when they've used their defensive cooldowns, you should be on the lookout for it if you can.

Heal the BoL target

That's right - there's nothing that says you can't switch to the BoL target when you need to. While it's certainly not ideal, neither is losing the target to an internal lag mechanic that you can't fix. This is something I'll do during H-LK. Even though I have BoL on the LK tank, unless someone is in immediate danger of dying, I'll heal the LK tank directly during a Soul Reaper. We had enough problems on this fight when we were working on it. This was a situation I could control, and I wasn't going to pass it up (obviously if Infest is running rampant, I don't have this option).

Change your BoL target

This comes with experience, and knowing where your heals need to go. After losing the Shambling Horror tank to BoL lag a few times, I swapped BoL to the LK tank and healed the Horror tank instead. Problem solved - except for when he'd eat a 70k+ shockwave. Sry:(

This also comes into play on fights like H-Sindragosa. During Phase 1 I'll keep the tank beaconed in case I need to touch the raid, but I generally just heal the tank directly (see the point above). During Pase 2 I put BoL on myself and just heal the tanks for all I'm worth. I rely on HL splash to cover the raid when I have to drop my stacks, but this method lets me build up 10+ stacks of the mystic buffet (though that does make me pucker up).

Communicate with your other healers and the tanks

I put this last, but it's really one of the most important aspects. Working with your tanks and other healers for coverage in heavy damage situations, or to coordinate cooldowns, can mean the difference between a spectacular wipe (where it just says LOLOLOLOL@U in the damage log) and that clutch downing. Rarely is the weight of the entire raid on your shoulders, though it often feels that way.


BoL is an amazing tool, and one of the most powerful spells in our arsenal. No other healer can provide the sheer throughput that we can using HL/BoL on multiple targets, though druids can rack up some impressive HoT stacks. BoL isn't a cure all though, you can't simply slap BoL on your MT and then forget about them. Part of improving as a player is looking at all the little things that have taken place in a raid in finding ways to counter them. Recognizing that your BoL target will be slightly behind in healing received means you may have to keep healing, even if their damage intake is low.

Oh, and stack on more haste.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

News Flash - Tuesday's are bad mmkay

If you've played WoW for more than two weeks, you've probably noticed a disturbing trend (if you've been playing for less than two weeks and are reading this, you're probably my wife). The trend that I speak of is not a long queue time for DPS in randoms, the abundance of memorable idiocy, or the "random loot is random" comments from that one warlock who got the only DFO that's ever dropped for your guild.

No, the trend I speak of is the weekly maintenance on Tuesdays. Sometimes the maintenance is a rolling restart, sometimes it's four hours of downtime, and occasionally the downtime extends for twenty-four hours. It's not uncommon for maintenance to extend beyond the initial post time, though I'd be willing to bet that the number of times this actually occurs is fewer than the number we remember (kind of like the bad PUG runs stand out).

You ruined my Tuesday!

Bad news folks - Tuesday has been maintenance day since the release of WoW. It wasn't until later in the 2nd year when restarts even became viable, and even then Blizzard announced that they would be every other week at best. During the early days of Vanilla you could count on every Tuesday being 4-6 hours of downtime, and back then patches weren't publicly tested like they are now. Patch notes were released the day of the patch, and you'd often log on to find problems that you'd never known could exist.

With the PTR and patch notes now though, add-on developers and players can test their systems long before a patch goes live. Extended downtime still happens, but that's just a fact of life. Blizzard has gotten much better at communicating extended downtime, but really you should just expect it every week.

Strangely though, you still see upset players every Tuesday. These are the ones who act surprised that there's downtime at all, and expect a patch to be rolled out with less than 15 minutes of disruption. Raid leaders gnash their teeth as you idly try and run into a zone, getting kicked back for hours becuase the instance servers are down. Anyone remember the boat landing in the Hinterlands during the AQ gate opening?

So why bother?

I'm generally surprised when I see guilds that schedule raiding on Tuesdays. I can understand it if they are in the running for server/world first titles and kills, but this is less than 1% of the playerbase. For us mere mortals, is it really worth the hassle and headache? Sure, a month after a major patch has been out, Tuesdays will probably be fine for raiding - but during the initial push you're just asking for headaches. Instances will be down, addons will be broken, and half your raid will be playing the DC drinking game.

If you're more of a causual type guild, who only raids a few days a week, planning raids on Tuesday is just asking for your schedule to be broken. The same goes for players with limited time who are just looking to burn a few hours doing randomes/dalies/whatever. Tuesdays are likely to be bad days.

So, plan to do something else on Tuesday, and then be happy when things work as they should - instead of being upset when they don't. Also, when Cataclsym comes out, if you could just not log in for a while so I can level to 85 without incident, that would be great.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not after my Real ID

They're in my internets stealing my ID!!!!

I'll wait for you to get your tinfoil hat if you'd like.

Ladies and gentlemen, especially those that are railing against RealID as a privacy/security violation, please settle down for a few minutes and look at what the program is designed to do, and who Blizzard states it is for.

Taken directly from the FAQ, RealID is designed for use with "...people you know and trust in real life -- friends, co-workers, and family -- ....", not DeathKnitexx and Ihealyounow - unless those really are people you know.

RealID is designed to allow you to communicate with folks who would normally be able to reach you via email, phone, etc - without having to use those means. If you trust your guild members enough to hand out your phone number to them, chances are this isn't a real issue.

How it really works

Real ID requires someone to have your personal email (rather the one associated with your WoW account), to start the friend process. Now, since our accounts are tied to our email, you're essentially trusting this person with your login ID - but not your password. And you are using an authenticator, right?

Now, suppose you really want to friend me, and you send a request to manasper at gmail dot com, your incoming request will show up for me the next time I'm online. If I see a request from someone I don't know, I just decline it. It's that simple. You still don't know my real name, you don't know where I live (hint, it's Alaska), and you don't know anything at all really.

Now suppose Whip Davitt sends me a friend request - well then heck yeah, I'm gonna call Whip and make sure it's him - and then go ahead and friend him. Now, Whip has about a million friends because well, Whip will be friends with anyone really, and now all of his friends can see that he knows some guy named Tim Smith. Nobody knows that Adgamorix belongs to Tim, or who any of Tim's toons are - all they can see is that Whip knows a guy named Tim.

So suddenly I get a friend request from Jim Gross, a name I don't recognize. Jim doesn't know me from Adam, but he's a friend of Whip, and wants to be my friend as well. I happen to be a little more selective than Whip though, so I politely (or impolitely, he'll never know) decline his request. The chain ends, and Jim doesn't know any more about Tim than he did before. Sure, he could Google Tim Smith and try and figure out who he really was - but good luck with that one. While you may be able to figure out which of the Tim's is really the Tim you're looking for (and who knows, maybe they get lucky), they still have no way of tracking you in game.

We have ways of finding out who you are

Face it, you're on the internet, nothing is private any more. Now, many of us will use separate emails for everything. I have one for WoW, one for this blog, one for my personal blog, work, guild applications, etc. On top of that I use an authenticator, and I don't answer the phone if your name doesn't show up on my caller ID as someone I know. I'm on Facebook, but I keep my profile limited.

It's certainly possible to find out a lot more about someone than you'd like to think was possible. Ever post on a forum? Chat on vent? I can track your IP address down and narrow your physical location. It doesn't give me your address, but I can start to get closer.

Put your phone number up in the guild info tab? Not only will I know where you live, but I'll know who you are, and I can probably tell you your credit score in a few minutes.

The bottom line

Unless you decide that you want to live technology free, there's a good chance that someone that wants too can find out way more about you than you'd like. At the end of the day, the only thing that will be available via RealID will be your name - and only to people that your friends have become friends with. If you don't trust your friends with your real name, or that they'll never spread your real name, then they may not be your friends after all.

RealID is voluntary. Use it, don't use it, it doesn't really matter. Personally, I won't use it. My friends can all call me or track me down via email/vent/text. Although if we start getting into Starcraft 2 and Cataclsym at the same time, I might reconsider. Even then, if my friends wanted to chat and play WoW/SC2/raid/etc - they'd be online doing just that.

Or they'd call me.


Remember, it's not technology that's evil/corrupt - it's the folks using it.

A baby Priest - Look at all these tools

In my efforts to get a full grasp on on the healing classes in the game, I started (another) priest to try and level up to 80. I'm not trying to master each of the classes, but I just want to get a better feel for how they work. Even though I haven't healed on my shaman in a year, I still feel that I have a base idea of how they work. The druid and preist have been my last two - and my druid is sitting at 72 gathering rested XP.

So many heals

The first thing that amazes me about the priest is the sheer number of heals available even at level 24. Shields, Holy Nova, Renew, Lesser Heal, Heal, Flash Heal - and I know there are more still to come. In contrast with the Holy Paladin, this is a rather large kit to work with. I can see the instant appeal to playing a priest, as I have a decent stash of offensive spells for levling, and lots of different buttons to push for healing.

While I know not all of these heals are exactly useful (Lesser Heal is already off the bar), and some are extremely situational (Holy Nova?), there's still a large variety to work with. I still don't have the mana regen abilities that come from deep in the trees, but as long as I can get a drink every now and again that isn't an issue. Using a shield to cover until a heal can land is still new - I keep reaching for my Holy Shock instead.

Spirit Tap is delicious

While not as useful in dungeon healing situations, Spirit Tap definately reduces the downtime I've encountered while leveling. It's not as reliable as say, JoW or SoW, but it's better than nothing. I've managed to snipe a few runners in dungeons to help me through the insane chain/group pulls that I seem to get. At least there's no JoL to keep up the 'gogogogo' crowd that I decide to let die.


I'm leveling through the LFD tool now that I'm past 15. I do a smattering of quests here and there, but for the most part I'm content to just sit back and heal some PUG through a random. I've gotten to the point where Party Chat is just hidden. I hit my "I need a drink" macro when I get low, and I take the break even if the party keeps running. I haven't had a bear tank toss me an innervate yet, maybe this is just something I did while leveling. I figured the 3 seconds to shift and innervate the healer was better time spent than waiting for them to drink.

Questing is a bit of a challenge, but only because I pass the quests up as I gain levels in the LFD. Generally as long as I don't pull too many, I can slug through a pull using PW:S, DoTs, and my wand. Upgrading to a new wand every few levels is definately helping - and I really wish there was an heirloom wand. I'm also about to move out of the Horde controlled zones and into the contested areas. We'll see how the ganking/PvPing goes once I'm out of the safe zones. I'm not going to keep my Pally/mage around "just in case", I figure I'll take my lumps for a while.


The priest is surprisingly more fun than the druid, though I did like the shapeshifting and instant flight form. I suppose overall gameplay is better on the druid, but lowbie healing edges out to the priest. The paladin is still my favorite though, so no worries there. Now I'm just waiting on levitate and PoM. I want to hear the zings as it whips around the party. Oh, and Pennance - my real reason for leveling a priest.

Friday, June 18, 2010

DOA - didn't even make the starting chute

So our last night of raiding died before we could even get started. I'm more disappointed in that than if we'd gone in with a sub-optimal makeup (no hunter or rogue for the Horrors) and just failed completely. While I certainly am happy with the progression we made through this expansion, it kind of feels like we went out with a whimper instead of a bang.

We did manage to meet most of our goals for Wrath, given our desire to raid with just 10 players and carry zero bench. This made it tough for fights like Earth, Wind, and Fire (as well as LK horror enrages) - but was hugely satisfying. Even when we said goodbye to certain raid members, it wasn't personal - it was goal driven.

Where that leaves me

I'm now looking for the right 10m (or exceptional 25m) guild to finish out Wrath with. I'm not looking to take a seat on the Titanic though, so I'm gonna be pretty selective. If I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll accept that I'll spend my final months in Wrath playing an alt or four, finishing Mass Effect 1 and 2, and keeping an eye out for some upcoming Star Wars titles that look pretty sweet.

As I mentioned in my last post, here's what I'm looking for.

  • Horde guild - PvP or PvE, doesn't matter. I'd rather not go alliance since I'll be coming back to my current server (and Horde) after Ruby Sanctum.
  • Two or three nights of raiding at most.
  • Start time of no earlier than 9PM EST (I live in Alaska, that's 5PM my time), with 3 to 4 hour raids.
  • 9-11/12 H 10 or 11/12 25 with a full time starting spot. I'm not looking to xfer somewhere just to ride the pine.
  • A guild that is looking for 1 or 2, not recruiting 8 folks who abandoned ship.

It's a steep list I know, but I'm willing to miss out on the kill instead of joining up with the wrong group.

If nothing else, SC2 will be here in a month. Mmm - firebats.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our last hurrah

Friday night will mark our last shots at H10m LK. It's not for a lack of want - it's for a lack of our core team. One guy just moved, so he's trying to get his house in order - out for two weeks. Another just got a new job - so in two weeks when our Shaman is back, we'll lose another pair of DPS, for at least two weeks. With all this, we're pretty much at the point where Friday night will represent our last best effort of downing H-LK10m together.

After this Friday I'll be looking actively again, though I don't know where I'll land. I may just hang up the raid hat entirely for the summer. There's plenty of guilds out there that are recruiting, so it's really just a question of what I want to do. If we pull off the H-LK kill Friday, then I'm absoloutely done with the regular raid scene. I'll finish up my ToC daily grind (yeah, I'm a year late, so what?), PUG a GDKP when I can, and just level my alt-farm between Mass Effect and SC2 sessions.

If we fall short though, I'll be on the hunt again.

What I'll be looking for

First goal would be a 10m guild that is seriously working on 9/12+ - any role will do. I would consider a 25m guild as well, but on a case by case basis.
Second, time - Three days a week is my absoloute limit. Preferably no more than 9 hours total.
Third, faction - I'd rather stay Horde, just so I don't have to server xfer and faction change. Plus I'm a damn sexy Belf if I do say so myself. Arcane Torrent is also pretty hot.
Finally, start time - I live in Alaska, so it's tough to find start times that work with my schedule.

I also have every intention of coming right back to where I am now once the expansion is immenent. Our 10m group will be reforming after the Cataclsym, and these guys are the reason I play. It would definately have to be the right 10m raid group to pull me away for the LK/Halion kill.

Of course, I'm hoping that this all becomes a moot point and we get the kill on Friday. Then I can settle in to a few months of alt-grinding and relaxation - finally having defeated the toughest boss in game, even if it is with a 20% buff/nerf. If not though, I'll still have accomplished most of my goals this expansion - not the least of which was staying away from burnout.

Don't worry - I'll still be blogging. There's plenty of articles to write and content to witness. Ruby Sanctum will be here shortly, and we'll have the expansion event coming as well. Who knows, I might even get in the Beta.


If you're in a 10m guild looking for a Paladin (spec is unimportant - can can and do play all three), and working on 9+HMs (preferably 11/12, but hey), plus don't raid more than 9 hours a week - drop me a line. I'll post our success or failure tomorrow night, which will dictate where I'm heading afterwards.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Professions and earning - with some entitlement

Last weekend Blizzard announced the removal of Path of the Titans, introduced "meduim glyphs" and dropped the news that glyphs would be learned instead of consumed. This means once you learn the glyph, you can switch it in and out as needed. Every Healadin who's ever swapped between the Seal of Wisdom and Seal of Light glyphs just for Dreamwalker cheered. These cheers weren't heard though, as they were drowned out by a single piercing sound.


This was the only sound I heard from inscriptionists (yeah, scribes, I know) as they rushed to the forums to protest this unfair treatment. I'm honestly surprised Jimmy Hoffa didn't rise from his grave to protest the unfair treatment that was being presented here. Rallies were called, pickets were drawn up, and naked Gnome marches were formed. A warlock summoned up the soul of Samuel Gompers, and a formation of strikers prepared to assault the Blizzard HQ.

Forget the Paladin nerfs, the days of Tseric calling for all warriors to be prot (if you remember the 5th of November - good on ya), or the constant shuffling of DK cooldowns. This change to inscription was obviously THE MOST important thing to come from a weekend of press releases.

How we make our money

One of Blizzards goals, and one that they struggled with for a long time with Engineering, is making sure that every profession has some sort of profitibility. From repeat sales (gems), to high priced options (Get to the choppah!), every profession currently has the ability to make the player some level of money. While all professions certainly aren't created equal, after all there are only so many belt buckles that are needed any given week, at least some possibility for profit exists. All signs from Blizzard have pointed to an increases in this trend, and a clear desire to not have any profession in the unenviable position of Vanilla engineers.

Given this, I think we can reasonably expect that Blizzard will include some other form of cash crop for scribes, even if it isn't as lucritive as the glyph market is today (50g per glyph? wtf). Between some type of Darkmoon card, offhands, and the mentioned glyph for actually changing a learned glyph - I think the scribes will be in great shape. This leads me to another point though.

Sense of entitlement

Much like the cryfest issued forth by raiders who lamented their equal tier of gear becoming available to any player who bothered to spend a few days in heroics, this is another round of players lamenting the loss of something that really wasn't theirs to begin with. Being upset that your cash cow is gone, after putting forth the money/effort to level that skill is a poor argument in my opinion. You've gotten the benifits (better shoulder enchants, sales, etc) for the duration of this expansion- expecting it to stay status quo through the next expansion is unrealistic.

I think it would certainly be better if every profession was either completely self containted (only JCs could use Gems, etc), but that would pretty much kill the WoW economy and remove a lot of the MMO feel - OR if each profession was able to generate an effective cash flow without much issue. This isn't the case now though (yes, it is much easier), but it's come a long way.


I think my point here, is that the game changes all the time. The mount/epic/profession you grind out today, may very well become commonplace tomorrow. This doesn't devalue the item or achievment (personal, not in game) because you had it 'first', or at least longer than the next guy to get it. I mean, my Thunderfury was great (still is), but it's certainly much more common now - and it's really pretty useless as far as tanking/threat goes in content that's two expansions out. This doesn't devalue the item though - and the plethora of engineers that cropped up once the AH was opened in Dalaran doesn't devalue my parachute cloak.

Look to the future, sure - but don't kid yourself. You've gotten your value from the item/profession - focus on what you'll have to do to stay competitive when the actual information and expansion are released.

Embrace the Chaos

I've only got one question here - where's the Power Fist?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cancelled features were never yours to begin with

Ladies and gentlemen, I have some tragic news for you. Anything proposed, promised, or otherwise hinted at in a video game - that hasn't even been released yet - shouldn't be counted on at all. I'm amazed by the level of complaining and moaning I've read during the last 48 hours regarding changes to Cataclysm. From the mildly annoyed to the full on pissed rant - all I can feel is a sort of numb disgust towards those posters.

I'm personally happy to see that the Alpha/Beta process is actually working as intended. To test features and portions of the game that are currently still in development. This is why I generally don't play Beta releases - I want the finished product. Give me something polished and (mostly) functional. I'm sure we all remember the state of the DK in Wrath Beta, or the first few weeks of Retadin Gods after BC. Imagine implementing an entirely new profession, which provided more than a bandage that will hit you for 1/8th of your HP in end-game gear. Think a raid guild wouldn't require maxed Archeology, just to prove you can grind out something painful?

Cataclysm is still being worked on - let's give them time to flesh it out. Hell, I still have hopes for Paladin gear to be optimized the way "we" think it should be.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spell Power plate in Cataclysm

I saw this comment by GC earlier, and it got me thinking about gear and design philosophy.


That was the initial intent, but some Shadow priests thought that felt unfair
that they had to have two separate gear sets to swap from damage to healing
compared to the druid and shaman, and we thought they had a point. As such it
will be slightly easier to gear up as a Shadow priest since they have more gear
options. Call it a perk, but probably not as powerful a one as Holy paladins
having their very own gear.

Pardon me? Now this was in response to a question regarding spriests getting gear with Spirit on it for their hit, when the original plan was for them to use Warlock/Mage gear.

Now, I know we're still in Alpha, but this kind of thing just frustrates me. If I understand the design philosphy properly, we should see the following gear sharing/breakdown in Cataclysm. This is of course assuming that the design of defense gear to go the way of the Dodo.

  • Avoidance Plate - This should be plate gear with high Dodge/Parry/Block ratings, which should be unattractive to the DPS. Shared by DKs, Paladins, and Warriors.
  • DPS Plate - The oppostie of the above. High hit, AP, Crit, etc. Used by the same classes, just their DPS bretheren.
  • SP Leather - Boomkins and Resto druids.
  • DPS Leather - I'm guessing this will be used by both types of Feral druids, as well as Rogues.
  • Caster Mail - Resto and Ele Shamans.
  • DPS Mail - Hunters and Enhancement Shamans
  • Non Hit Cloth - Now looks to be the domain of Priests alone. Will have Spirit on it to make it unattractive to the Locks and Mages.
  • Hit/Non Spirit Cloth - Locks and Mages will keep up the age old fued by fighting over their gear.
  • Spell Power Plate - Holy Paladins.


Are you kidding me? Really? Every healer class except the Paladin will be able to swap specs and roll directly into a DPS role with this setup. Now, there might not be enough +hit from Sprit or what have you, and I'm sure that it won't be an instant top healer to top DPS type of switch without a gear change of some sort.

To be fair, the Paladin talent trees are still hidden, and I'm not in the Alpha. For all I know there could be something in the works for this. If they put some type of talent in that would convert Plate DPS gear/stats to Holy gear/stats, you would fix one problem and cause another. Even though they don't always want the same base stats (ArPen, Haste, Crit - what have you), you still have three classes competing for Plate gear right now. Adding Holy Paladins to that mix just puts more demand on that gear, though that can be adjusted with drop rates I suppose.

Unfortunately, having SP plate in the loot tables just frustrates everyone. Either the Healadin, because the drop rate is low, or everyone else because there's only one or two healadins in the raid. It's kind of a lose lose right now, and it will be interesting to see if Blizzard can come up with a good fix.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Account security is your problem - not mine

Spend five minutes cruising the official forums, or the blogsphere, and you'll stumble across someone who was recently hacked or had their account compromised. Even if you don't want to look for it, the posts are out there. Just like cancer, everyone knows someone who has been (or has been themselves), hacked.

While I haven't had it happen to me, I can only imagine what it must feel like. It's a violation of your personal space, and even though nothing physical has been touched, I think we can all assume that the products of WoW are very real indeed. Not only does the attack affect you though, it has reaching impact on your guild mates (you can't raid till you get your gear back), your guild bank (no more repairs /sadface), and your overall feeling about the game.

A recent experience

During my stint in a 25m guild recently, one of our priests was hacked and had a couple of his toons deleted (as well as his stuff stripped). This simple act sparked a couple of things. First, we had to take someone who was wholly unprepared to the raids. It's bad enough that between RL issues, moves, end of expansion blues, and bad raiders who can't stand being called bad - we're short on players - but now we had to bring in someone from the bench.

Second, the guild management (who really shouldn't have been leading a raid guild in the first place) freaked out and implemented one of the most idiotic policies I've ever seen. Not only was it impractical, the implementation and attempt at enforcement was ludicrous. They wanted to enforce, and require, that everyone have an authenticator. /facepalm

Now don't get me wrong, I think that anyone who's still playing without one is just asking for trouble. I think they're free if you have an iPhone or a Droid, and cost about $6 if you get the key chain version. Between the ashtray in the car and the couch cushions, most of us have that already.

Requiring everyone to have an authenticator though? Insane. We set ranks in after one of our members got hacked, because everyone had full gbank access. Once we set the permissions though, it wasn't a big deal.

What these guys tried to do though was require a Screenshot of the applicant standing there with their perky pug targeted to show they had an authenticator. While this sounds good on paper, you wouldn't believe the number of applications that come in without a screenshot. Or someone linking to their local C:\.

It's not my problem

Get an authenticator or don't - it's your choice. Don't complain when you get hacked if you don't have one though, and don't expect your raid spot to be waiting for you on your return. If you don't care enough to get basic protection, you're probably the same type of person who thinks a Flask of the North is acceptable for progression raiding.

Oh, and learn how to post a bloody screenshot while you're at it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leveling a druid - the anti-Paladin

Forget Death Knights, I'm fairly convinced at this point that Druids are the true anti-Paladin. Now, as a disclaimer, I haven't gotten ye olde cow to 80 yet. It's also been a long time since I leveled my Paladin - but here's what I've seen so far.


Forget the difference in gear, as a Paladin you're always casting. AoE damage? Have fun catching up. Tank getting hit a ton? Keep spamming that FoL. You've got one on the move heal (once you can talent it), otherwise you're a freaking rock holding back the tide of damage. This is where the real heal face is born, grimacing as you will that HL to go off.

As a Druid, once my HoTs are out, all I can do is sit back and pray that Lifebloom 'blooms' before the tank dies. I love the diversity in spells available to me, and having a 6 sec CD AoE heal is a god send from a Paladin mind. I have to sit back and realize that yes - the tank is taking damage, but it's ticking back on him quickly from my four HoTs. Of course I don't know if I'm doing it right or not, I just toss up the HoTs and watch the party unfold.

At least I can run around with my arms in the air screaming when I get agro.


9/6/9 - the Paladin tanking mantra. There's a set rotation, and you deviate from it at your own risk. You're watching the raid for Hand usage (Protection, Salv, etc), and you've got two short CD taunts at your disposal.

As a bear I spam swipe. Now that I have mangle I might hit that, and in a high rage scenario I switch to my swipe/maul macro. /yawn. One taunt, plus FFF, and an AoE taunt with a long CD. Sure, I've got some nice CDs to use, but instead of my B-elf dancing self, I'm staring at a brown butt. At least I've got a charge.


I picked up ret again on my Pally, as I dork around looking for the right thing to do between now and Cataclysm. Since it's basically a 'hit the button when it lights up' spec, it's fairly straight forward. Granted, I'm no master of it yet, but I'm at least not embarrassing myself.

Kitty DPS though, hello timers. Now while leveling, it's pretty basic. Opener, bleed, combo point, finisher. I understand that at the end game however, it's pretty complicated. Keep up your roar, your bleeds, don't run out of combo points or energy, and stay behind the boss for your 'backstab'. It seems a lot more complicated than "Divine Storm for Justice".


I think this is one of the things that makes WoW so great. I can accomplish the same things, in an entirely different play style, depending on what I like. I can also understand the druid's lack of care regarding models. It's the same tree/bear that I've seen for thirty levels. Who cares what the armor looks like?

Once I get to 80 it'll be time to herd the priest through the LFD, finally rounding out my stable of healers. I may hold off on the priest until I can make a Goblin though. We'll have to see if I get a chance to play with them in Beta or not.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Keep your alt out of my progression raid

Alts. Love them, hate them, or face addiction with them - they're out there and they're here to stay. With the changes to the badge/loot system, plus heirlooms and LFD, it's extremely easy to level up an alt and gear them out in T9 loot in no time. While this is a huge boon for guilds going through the inevitable end game bleedout, it can be a nightmare as well.

Now don't get me wrong. I have my own stable of level 80 alts, as well as a smattering of others that are in the process of leveling. They're fun to play, and I enjoy learning how the other tank/healing classes work. Yes, of all my alts I only have a single lvl 80 that is a pure DPSer. I'm sick that way.

Back to the point

My issue comes up when during a progression raid someone wants to bring this or that alt because "they don't need gear any more" for their main. Well that's great Sparky, I'm glad the RNG has worked well for you. Unfortunately there's 9/24 others who aren't in that position. Or what if it's the MT or your star healer? Very often they don't get the opportunity to ever swap out for an alt (even on alt run nights) because they're geared specifically to handle those encounters.

More to the point however, is that your output on your alt will probably not be near that of your main toon. They don't have the gear, you aren't as familiar with the rotation/positioning, etc. All of these combine to make a farm run just a little bit longer, or even cause a wipe or two. You're asking everyone else to sacrifice a little, just because you want to gear up another character.

The very rare occasion

Sometimes, I will admit, it's necessary to bring in an alt. We do it fairly regularly with our Warrior/Rogue, because he's had to switch toons to allow us to continue raiding. If he hadn't switched, we would have stalled - and so now we keep bringing him on some fights (i.e. gunship) where there's a specific piece of tank gear he needs. This however is definitely the exception, and not the rule.


Now, here's a place where I LOVE to see your alt (as long as you've got the cash). Players who know the fights, and are willing to shell out for their gear - instead of asking to be carried through for no cost. In the two weeks that we've been running GDKPs we've rolled in over 7k per person. It's not huge, but it makes me feel better about giving gear to a 2k DPS alt running around in heroic dungeon gear.

Wrap up

So go, and play your alts. Frolic in the joy of no pressure raiding. Spend your gold in my GDKP, and take your chances in PUGs. Just don't ask to come to my main raids. At least not without some serious cash in your pocket.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pulling with Taunt - Stop It

Just when I thought this phenomenon was gone, I up and see not just low level newbie tanks doing it - but a self-proclaimed RL/GM teaching his tanks to do it as well. What I'm referring to here is the ever unpopular, wildly unexplained, Taunt Pull. That's right, pulling a boss/mob by using your Taunt first.


Now don't get me wrong. I can see where this habit starts, and why it probably takes far too long to correct. Unfortunately, it's problematic in later dungeons and raids - and I'll explain why in a moment.

How it all starts

For the Paladin, this starts when Righteous Defense is granted at level 15 or so. This ability acts as a ranged pull, does a significant amount of damage at that level, and is one of the few 'moves' in the leveling Paladin's arsenal. Since they don't get Avenger's Shield for quite some time, it becomes ingrained to pull this way.

For the Warrior, this comes from their gun/bow being a stat stick - and the general lack of ammo in their bags. Because of this, they either taunt pull, or (thanks to talents) charge into the fray - generally leaving the healer behind.

DKs don't get a taunt for many levels, they are usually the lowest offenders of this. The biggest issue I see with DK tanks outside of raids is not using Death and Decay because it "costs too many runes".

Druids get Faiere Fire at a low level, and learn to pull with that - leaving their taunt alone. Some druids still pull with taunt though, however they are on the lower end of the offender chain.

Do you see my problem here? Not only is it people pulling with taunt, but it's primarily Warriors and Paladins doing it! For shame.

The real issue

Pulling with your taunt is, well - I have an analogy Reaganomics used in the past that isn't really appropriate. The clean version is - it's idiotic to pull with your taunt (even on un-targetable bosses). Here's why.

Taunt has ZERO positive effect if the target is already targeting you. Only the Paladin taunt does significant damage I believe (if they aren't targeting them), and what you've now done is trigger your taunt CD and started the taunt immunity timer on the mob/boss. Let's look at two different examples.

Example One: Taunt fires first. So let's say you're using a Warrior to MT Saurfang, and because he knows your DPS is sitting there spamming the /AMGDPS key, he's frantically spamming his taunt - just waiting for Saurfang to go active. Suddenly he's live, and his taunt fires - along with his auto-attacks. Now you've got three seconds where the boss is focused on your Tank, but he's got 1.5 seconds waiting for his GCD to come down. You have time for one, maybe two abilities that aren't on the GCD to fire before the effect wears off.

Now in this instance, JoeJoe the DPS pulls ahead of Tank 1, so Saurfang targets him. Your MT is standing there holding his junk in his hands, because his taunt is on CD, so tank #2 taunts. You now have two taunts in < 8 seconds. A few seconds later, the MT taunts back, because he's supposed to have Saurfang first. Oops. Now the Boss is taunt immune - right around the time that Rune of Blood comes out. Suddenly Saurfang is healing up that damage that your overeager DPS did, and his Blood Power is rocketing up because he still has 10 seconds of Taunt immunity left - and your OT blew their taunt anyway because he didn't realize Saurfang was immune.


Example Two: Tank fires taunt after establishing agro.

Precisely zero happens to his threat, it does NOT force the boss to attack for any length of time, and just starts the taunt diminishing return/immunity timer.


Example Three (Bonus): Tank pulls trash with a taunt.

Overeager DPS guy opens up, trash turns and punches them in the face for TEXA$ worth of damage - because the tank's taunt is on CD.



Raid Leaders and GMs, please stop teaching your tanks bad mechanics. Instead teach your DPS to be patient for two or three seconds. The days of waiting for five sunders is past, but if you don't have a hunter/rogue doing a threat transfer, the tank still needs a few seconds to establish solid agro. Your healers (and DPS) will thank you for it. Trust me.

Top five greatest WoW moments

After some seriously frustrating shots on H LK this weekend, I thought I should go back and look at some of my best memories in WoW. After playing for about five years, there's definitely one or two high points.

5) My first trip to Ironforge

When I first started playing, I was one of the many noob NE rogues that you see running around. My RL friend had rolled a Dwarf hunter, so I was trying to get from Darnassus to Ironforge. I had no idea about the boats, or where anything was - so I just started running for the East coast of Kalimdor. You can probably imagine how well this turned out, as a lvl 10 running through Azshara and beyond. Fortunately I ran into a kind soul who pointed me in the right direction. Which of course led up to the awesome run from Menethil Harbor to Ironforge.

4) My first mount

I love my Rusted-Protodrake, and my Bloodbathed Drake is amazing as well, but mostly because there aren't a lot of them on my server (and they're 310%). My first cat though, that was something I really looked forward to. Grinding out the gold (Chugach - hunter friend - was always broke) by pick-pocketing murlocs in STV as I got close to the goal. I wanted my mount the moment I hit 40, and not a minute after. I didn't know anything about using the AH for profit, it was just grind up and away. A truly pleasing moment.

3) Becoming a Raid Leader

This was really a turning point for me in WoW, where I started my move from being just another raider to actually studying the game. It all started with Forgotten Fury and the GM Fyrre throwing down that anyone who wanted to lead could give it a call. An Onyxia run or two later, and I was leading full time and soon an officer of FF. A few months later Fyrre went insane and started fighting with himself on the forums. Good Times.

2) Solo-tanking content at the appropriate gear level

When we first started running Kara at 70 we had a few of the same folks in our current 10m, and a few left over from the FF fallout in Vanilla. We headed into Kara with our heads up, sporting a mix of greens and blues. We single tanked the Huntsman, used a Boomkin to OT Moroes, and then single tanked Romulo and Julianne. The other great moment was when I compiled a mix of resist and tank gear that allowed me to single tank Hydross as a Warrior. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. The MacGyver moments are always the best raid kills.

1) Forging Thunderfury

No other legendary has, in my opinion, stood up to the Thunderfury for being amazingly OP. It lasted through three nerfs and some radical class changes in BC, and is still an iconic weapon. I got lucky and snagged both my bindings in two weeks, and then started farming for all the Arcane Crystals. The night it was finally forged we bought the elementium ore from a gold farmer in IF, and it was electric on vent. The whole raid came together for the moment - it was truly special. Even forging my Val'anyr or killing Arthas didn't measure up to that moment.