Monday, November 15, 2010

Public Service and yawp

For the next two weeks I will not be responsible for the blog. Due to work reasons I will be around Europe, and not able to play nor write.

That was the announcement part. Now some reflections over last weekend.

- I will not make the Old World Loremaster title: I have effectively avoided my main character for several days now, and about 200 quests are piling into a pile which cannot be done in time. Too bad.
- I have taken a step on the dark side again: my horde toons. Where as in Alliance, the bickering, name calling and rude behaviour started at around lv40, in horde it started already around lv33. Tank didn't do that, dps didn't do that and everyone was merry when the group disbanded. Not once or twice, but every other group does the same.
- How easy it is to be a ranged dps! No worries like healer or tank have, just blast away and keep your aggro below the tank. Then again, some dps do not understand this and blame the tank.
- How difficult is it to handle runners? Some tanks do not get this at lower levels and instead of preparing for a runner and pulling back towards the 'safe area' where the group came from - thus buying more time to deal with the runners - they push the pulls forward and blame the dps for not killing the mobs in time.
- Oh what crap the AoE damage has become...
- Levelling through randoms is way too fast. The worst part is the fact that you over level your gear and do not get decent replacements fast enough. My lv35 mage is still wearing her lv28 stuff and that's not unique.
- and levelling the gathering professions... My druid is running lv45 randoms while still roaming in lv26-31 areas for herbs... not being able to gather from the instances!
- Why can't there be a possibility to gather a node which is - say - 5-8 points above your skill? That way you could spend some time at a node knowing that you MAY get it if you're lucky. Now you are tied to an arbitrary number below which you cannot even try to pick the bloody flower.

That's all for now. I had an existential walk on Sunday, wondering why I'm playing at all, what am I thinking I'm getting from playing and what the hell am I trying to replace with playing. All I came up with was that I've replaced the mindless watching of TV to MMO's and that it's as good/bad waste of time as TV. Instead of watching good stories I 'act' in decent ideas of stories.

Maybe more on that later.

Play nice!

C out


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What to raid and what to loot..

Cataclysm is getting closer and closer and a lot of players are realizing that the world of warcraft as we currently know it will 'cease to exist' when Cataclysm hits the shelves. Its not that all of the areas will be destroyed, its more the fact that the old content of WotLK will be soon forgotten (as the old-world and Outland was). As a result, players are trying to gather all their last achievements which will become feats of strength, and trying to get the mounts which will vanish.

On the other side of the spectrum people are looking forward into the near future. What will be the way class X should gear in Cataclysm and what will be the best spec to level in. And that is my current dilemma.

In the past I always did raids with my warlock. A fairly OK geared character which could usually be found in the middle of the top 10 dps. But, as more locks joined the raid, I requested the Raid officers for a switch to my druid healer (there is always room for more healers it seems). So it was done and rather quickly my gear was boosted from 2 parts of the regular T10 to 4 parts of normal sanctified T10. Now with my lock, who didn't need that much gear, I had carefully saved up some DKP. But, with 2 specs to tend to I quickly tore through my DKP and am now back on bidding minimum and hoping nobody wants the same item.

My dilemma now is that by the end of it all, I'll have a fairly complete healing kit, capable of being at the top of the healing charts (which I've already, suprisingly, found myself several times)and will be a valuable asset to the raid till then. But what will it bring me when Cata hits? The person who will want to quest in the new expansion instead of just heal random dungeons? Sure I can go quest in my epic healing gear, but that will not bring much joy I fear.

So, what to loot? Should I stay with my current decent healing gear and collect feral stuf from now on and leave my raiding buddies to fate? Or should I keep working on my healing gear and grind my teeth when cata hits?(Or, as a side trail, should I go for boomkin as apparently ferals won't be doing that well at the start of cata...)

I for one am going to keep working on my healing gear and will trust in Blizz to provide me with decent enough gear to level through the content. But I don't think everybody will do the same and I'm affraid many raid leaders will grind their teeth till cata hits due to the priority settings of its raid members and naggers who want to raid a different instance/boss for specific gear.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wasting the little time I have (YAWP)

I'm wasting the short time I have for the Old World Loremaster achievements. Currently I'm on the Kalimdor side and had the pleasure to waste around 5-6 hours to them over the weekend. The rest of the whole Saturday I spent playing other toons for a reason or another.

The one I'm currently most fond of is my banker Druid, who is of Restoration spec. I have ceased to do any quests with this toon and while I'm waiting for the random dungeon, I try to get his herbalism up to the dungeon level. Which is impossible because there seems to be constant need for healers in the dungeons. I have about one minute to get into a dungeon, barely enough to spot the next herb node.

I've now been doing that from lv29 upwards, and over the weekend I got him to lv42. What I've noticed so far is that there are awfully lot people -especially tank classes- who haven't ever visited the instances they get into via the LFD now. Also the intolerance of other peoples' inabilities, poor play or lack of understanding grows the higher the level comes: I hadn't seen a single cuss fight before Uldaman nor anyone been kicked or leaving a group in progress. However, after lv40 - and opening of the Maraudon purple stones area - this seems to be a recurring thing.

Considering the quality of play and mastery of their class, no one is good enough to call others noobs or anything else derogatory at these levels. The spec and gear choices are very limited and neither contributes too much to the overall performance anyway: everyone levelling up by the dungeons only are submitted to the mercy of the loot distribution rng and the 'Satchet of Helpfull Goods' doesn't help at all by giving only melee gear to a spellcaster.

So loosen up people who are levelling through the LFD: The less you cuss and swear, the less you play and gain. Everyone makes mistakes and only one rogue has had the guts to call me a noob as a healer after the tank ran off out of my LoS and caused a wipe. Granted, that rogue was brought back to earth after that and he left after hearing that he won't be healed unless he starts to take care of himself. By the tank, mind you!

I mentioned that Satched of Helpfull Goods. Someone in Blizzard forgot to change the settings of that, because it's offering me different grades of perfectly viable Feral Druid gear all the time. They have forgotten that they changed the talent system and made every spec viable for levelling, thus making the spell caster druid specs more numerous than the feral ones. Hello! I'd like to have at least one piece of usable gear from the satchet! I have now dual spec for Resto/Balance and I'm doing well in one gear.

So I dps'd both normal and heroic HoR the other day. Arms is VERY viable in dps: being at the top of the heroic HoR just showed me that my ragtag gear set and mediocre understanding of the class can save the day. For me to wait for the rage to build up enough to use skills - or have them all on cd and wait for that - is too slow in a way. But that's what playing warrior is nowadays, from what I've gathered this is the case with more or less any class there is. The slower pace makes the game 'easier' in a way, but feels sluggish.

All in all, I wasted the best of the weekend doing everything else than questing for the achievement. Now standing at 483/700, having about 15 quests to drop off and I'm still in Ashenvale. I have huge areas with tens of quests, the only thing is to choose the right one and get next 50 or so done in a breeze.

What has amazed me is the fact that there are so many quests you can find only by exploring and how many of those I have passed earlier due one reason or another. Also the quality of the quest chains is much higher than I remembered, though there are only few and between of those which really bring more to the lush graphic presentation of the world.

So many to go. So much to choose from. So little time.

C out

Friday, November 5, 2010

Are there really so many paladins in the game?

The question posed in the title is the final thought of our three man evening. All the loot were either cloth or plate with intelligence or spellpower in them. The weapon drops were either caster weapons (staffs and an odd dagger with spellpower) or with intelligence. Are there really so many paladins in the game that IC 5 man instances have to feed them all the gear there is?

Taking into account that our Three Stooges is the holy trinity at the most basic: warrior tank, rogue dps and priest healer, we saw only one or two pieces which would have even been feasible for us to use. Except our priest who overgeared all the drops even remotely usable.

Short rewind.

The evening was amazing in many ways. First of all, we were all online in time. In fact, we were a bit ahead of the normal undecided timeframe. Second, we played very, very poorly. And third, if our priest has had an uncanny way of disconnecting at a critical moment, last night that went into ridiculous amounts.

We skipped the heroic from the start and went directly to IC: Forge of Souls was our first aim, as we had plenty of time then. One shot, no real problems except Bishopgeorge disconnecting on trash mobs twice, freezing on Brohnjam and looting while tank and dps were having fun. Revenge is sweet, as we will learn later on.

Pit of Saron proved what I stated earlier: we played poorly. First of all, we decided not to pull the wandering mob from the beginning and I launched my attack on the skeleton constructs, pulling them further into the instance. In a short while I noticed that we had company, as a group of smaller skeletons plunged on me: Bishopgeorge had stood on the higher platform just a tiny bit too far and pulled the whole group we had decided not to pull.

You can imagine the name calling, brotherly picking and jesting about slow priests which ensued...

But that's not all, mind you.

Garfrost was a pushover, Krick/Ick as well. But the incline from the latter up to the tunnel seems to be our worst enemy: this time we rode as one group, stopped at the higher platform and it was my turn to make the mistake to go just a bit too far: I pulled the first skelton group before others were ready. Everything was fine, as Bishop had full mana, and off we went. Until our resident -evil- rogue went a bit too far behind the group and pulled the next one.

Death and destruction, and off we went to fly the goose. I mean, how come Blizzard hasn't fixed the ghost mode griffins yet? Instead of being the superfast griffin express, its the wounded overweight goose trying to carry the passenger back to blood and tears...

The new try was easy peasy and next time we won't be skipping the mobs in the incline. No need, as we fell them even by making incredible plunders and mistakes (no one is innocent, mind you!).

Tyrannus. Our old arch nemesis. He's our puppy now, as long as a)everyone takes notice of the Overlords Brand, b)DPS stays out of the way of Forceful Smash and c)healer stays online till the fight is over, or almost over. All of the three happened, and not in any particular succession. We got him on the third try, after trying new spectacular ways of dying.

But we made it squeaky clean to Halls of Reflection!

Falric and Marwyn are a joke, really, if you think that we as trio can do them without a problem. Granted, it's still normal and all. Kill sequence in the mob waves established as

Priest > Mage > Shadow Mercenary > Sharpshooter > Others

and it worked. However, Bishopgeorge took care of providing us with extra suspense in the fight by disconnecting, freezing and looting while others were fighting to such an extent that Förgelös and I came up with a solution (which came our motto of the evening):

First we kill the priest and then we start the party.

You see, this went on in the escape from the Lich King gauntlet. Our first try was a prime example of this. We started it as usual, killed the first zombies quite ok. Bishop had been acting wonky from the start, not quite disconnected but jumping back suddenly due to lag or something like that. As Förge and I were fighting the Zombie Shaman, Bishopgeorge started running towards Lich King!

Death, destruction, kill, wipe. "Bishopgeorge has disconnected."


The next try. Everything goes well until the second ice wall, we kill everything in more or less in time, and in the middle of the heated fight Bishop starts to laugh uncontrollably, frozen in the middle of the mobs.

His mouse had died, battery depleted.

Death, destruction, wipe. "Bishopgeorge has disconnected."

Third time was just poor playing, as Förgelös decided to go to Lich King and save his strength.

After this we decided to give up and went through the LFD HoR. Heroic proved to be impossible due to Bishop disconnecting three times before we even got to Marwen.

Normal was a faceroller, even though the group had three warriors, priest and rogue. The two warriors were both Fury, dual-wielding 2-hand axes and spreading devastation way more than required.

All in all, not a total failure of an evening for the Three Stooges, but interesting questions remained.

First we kill the priest from now on, and start having fun as tank and DPS. That's for sure.

C out

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Impressions of warrior roles

My main role is that of tank, specifically protection warrior. I levelled up as one, took a secondary spec as Arms as that was the least loved PvE spec there was in warrior specs and stuck with it.

4.0.1 brought many changes with it. Most meaningful for me was the fact that the button mashing and responsiveness of the action buttons was replaced with skill queues and much slower paced, cooldown based gamestyle. I'm still fighting to be patient enough to wait for the skills to be ready, and usually end up banging the same skill twice due to queuing.

The whole issue I have with the current, slowed down action system is that of learning the new pace of play. In addition to this the AoE threat generation of protection warriors was lowered to almost non-existing, meaning that in multi-mob pull the over effective ranged DPS will steal one or more mobs from the tank even in the best case scenario. The only guidance I can give is to let them have it, as in 5 man heroics the DPS will kill any normal mob fast enough to survive the onslaught. The tanks responsibility in multi-mob pulls is to protect the healer nowadays, instead of protecting the whole group as it was before the 4.0.1.

With single target threat there is no such thing as aggro problem. Really. Shield Slam and Revenge take care of the needed aggro and if you take care and push that Heroic Strike there as your rage dump, you will fly high above even the most aggressive ranged DPS there is.

Mainly because of that sluggish feel to the protection play I have recently been playing as Arms dps. Granted, my DPS gear is lousy, mainly quest blues and a couple of lv200 purples to shine it with, but still there is some nice DPS to give in the encounters. Seldom I sit at the bottom of the DPS meter after a heroic, just above the healer (that happens, too, but then the rest of the group is in tier10+ and even the tank delivers outrageous 5k+ damage). On the average the DPS goes in the range of 3.3-3.5k depending on the heroic: the more there are multi-mob pulls, the lower it goes as there are not too many area DPS options open for us. On the other hand, in single target boss fights I can easily go above 4k as the Execute still brings in nice crits when the mob is below 25% of it's health.

And as Arms I very seldom see the sluggish feel take away the fun from the play.

Arms as a tree is a peculiar one. You have distinct separation of PvE and PvP talents in the tree, some of which are not at all useful in the other role. I can see several of the talents I passed work extremely effectively in PvP, but have no use in PvE encounters. Then again, either way, the build is very, very easy to come up with, even without any EJ originating number crunching.

Strenght is still the main stat to go for, as long as you take care of the cap values in Hit, Crit and Haste, in that order. For hit the cap is 263, still, and anything above that is a waste (Correction: The current hit cap for melee is 8% which equals 246 hit rating. That 263 was the base before 4.0.1., adjusted by talents.). I think the cap for Crit is around 70%, so as much as you can muster is best and the same with haste. As long as you keep strength a the primary focus on gemming, you should be doing great, really.

At least that's been my philosophy, and so far it has served me well.

All in all, even though I've seen Fury warrior in 5 man heroic delivering above 11k DPS, I can say that Arms is a valid, but not as shining DPS spec. Like before, Arms will not rule the DPS meters, but will deliver without a fail.

The overall impression of these warrior specs for me is that the slower pace requires a lot of practise and slowing down properly requires that your computer can handle the game at reasonable frame rate during the combat. The queuing will ruin your day if you lag, but as a plate wearer, the result shouldn't be catastrophic unless the boss hits unexpectedly hard.

Warriors are definitely the crop of the earth: not necessarily the best of all classes for their selected roles, but best in what they do, and most definitely the steadiest and sturdiest of them all. We are the cannonfodder and the ones who stand last: not something any other class can say.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Startling discoveries (YAWP)

This weekend was a bit of a disappointment, not only because my objective with the Loremaster of Eastern Kingdom proves to be more time consuming than I thought, but also due to real life coming into the way of reaching it. Still lacking some 27 quests from the achievement, and then it's about 300 quest in Kalimdor. Kalimdor should be easier due to the fact that there are big quest areas which I haven't even tapped yet (like Sillithus and Tanaris) and the questing should be more condensed. Then again, kill ten rats kind of quests take their time anyhow, like in Eastern Kingdoms.

What has been an eye opener on the Old World questing (startling discovery #1) is that the most interesting quests and quest chains begin either from a random drop or from a quest giver who either appears randomly or requires certain attributes or circumstances to give the quest to you. One such questline is in Stranglethorn Valley on Alliance side. There is this soldier who will go on patrol and if you save him from being killed by the warriors from the Kurtz army, he'll give you the quest starting a chain of 5 quests (six quests for the achievement, actually). But only if you happen to be around when he gets attacked!

I waited for the bugger to start walking for 42 minutes, and the quest chain was done in 10. Wasted time when you compare to the normal quest in which you have to kill, say 30 Ogres in the Searing Gorge: that killing quest takes about 15 minutes and you get to do another quest on the side.

Of course, the low level questing is pretty boring if you really aren't for it, and for me all the waiting and flying took it's toll also. So I ran the Headless Horseman and a heroic with all my 80's toons. With my spriest I met the most incredible fury warrior I've seen so far (startling discovery #2). This warrior banged constant damage of five figures in Drak'Tharon Keep and boasted for having done over 16k crits on Lady Deathwhisper couple of nights earlier. My recount had 9880 for his dps over the whole instance, with crits over 12k.

At the other end of the scale, as I was running Culling of Stratholme with my baby DK in his Unholy, I could come up with 3.2k. The startling discovery #3 was as follows. I got in there just before the gauntlet after the inn. The tank ran on as I came in, and we cleared the gauntlet. At the same time as I came in, came a mage and we took care of the dps part of the run. So we cleared the gauntlet, came to the end of it and started to wait for Arthas to join us. We waited. And waited. And... this mage asked if anyone had talked to Arthas before we started. "Oh, I didn't know, I'm here for the first time", responded the tank.

Sure as can be, his gear were quest blues and greens and he was tanking in heroic Culling of Stratholme. No wonder the dps had left after the inn, fearing they would fail in the gauntlet.

The funny part of this? We had to clear the gauntlet three times. First to get through it, second to get back and third to get through it with Arthas. And for the majority of the run, I was tanking more than this 'tank to be' who really knew the basics but sure as hell couldn't handle the aggro. The healer paladin was a professional, though, and he switched to healing mainly my DK instead of the tank. 

Malganis was our puppy and I scored some 6k crits in there. (Startling discovery #4)

To cap this all, I got finally switched my banker druid's profession from skinning to herbalism. As I started to pick it up with the herb collecting, I made the final startling discovery: I got experience from using the skill?!

Come Cataclysm, I think I could make a Worgen priest or a druid and make the pacifist levelling thing, only healing in random dungeons LFD style and picking flowers!!

As the final note: I think I have to take a bit more serious approach into the blog, as Kadomi from Tank Like A Girl (one of my big influences) has put this blog into her list of warrior blogs. I'll take the protection and arms route, but more of that later. I have ideas already, but do not expect any real number crunching. Most probably more on the routes on how I find things and how they work for me.


C out