Sunday, 31 January 2010

Look at the size of that horny bull!

I think that title should get me a few more interesting google searches. What I actually wanted to talk about - before you leave in disgust, that is - is the size of Bloodelf chicks girls, though.

I mean.. look at that:

That little lady is approximately the size of my hammer. If I grabbed her by the ears, my damage per second would probably go up slightly.

And not entirely surprisingly - not even getting on a horse is a big help:

Now that horse might make for a decent weapon...


I can only say this .. it was about bloody time.

And because that makes only a moderate amount of sense without the rest of the story - and I'm currently in a good mood - I'll not keep you waiting much longer for an explanation.

Well... maybe a little bit.

But not too long.


Okay.. here goes: We finally killed Sartharion with three drakes up. And I got a screenshot to prove it. All credit goes to Lamagra, of course, as he was the one who diligently chatted up people and made them join. Again. Same as on the proper attempts.

Oh yes.. we cheated and did it the Zerg way. One tank, one healer, 8 of the highest dps we could find in our two cooperating guilds.

Now ... let me post the first screenshot - the one that proves we actually did it.

Unfortunately this also sort of shows that we did not complete it without losses. Or rather... we had more losses than Sartharion at this point. I'd go so far as to say if he had had to run from the same graveyard we'd have been in a bit of trouble, really.

See ... we took a tiny bit too long. Allowed Tenebron to actually land - and had him misdirected onto the tank. The only tank, remember? Well now as long as shield wall holds, we were fine, really. Unfortunately about 12 seconds later I learnt that Tenebron hits for around 25k damage per melee swing. Owch.

Oh.. and .. did you see that firewall and the little elementals and the fire falling from the sky and the general atmosphere of barbeque?

Erm... well... it resulted in this:

All dead. No survivors. On either side. Bit of a pyrrhic victory. Then again... it is really like Brachio said:

This is the Forc (Fellowship of the Rubber Chicken) way. It's how we work ... or rather don't. But we got the job done - and that's almost one of this years resolutions out of the way. Now just 9 times more and I'll have my dragon.


Still in a good mood over this.

Silly how a game can make us feel that excited, eh?

Saturday, 30 January 2010


Thank you Tessy! You were completely correct as well. A gnome on a mammoth is just the fiercest little creature you could possibly imagine.

Somebody stop me!

Hunter or Rogue?

I never noticed, but Lieutenant Sinclari is apparently either a hunter or a rogue. How else could you explain this?

Gogogo, indeed!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

ICC Interesting Times

Another raid night in ICC (well technically we did the weekly raid before then – but who counts those 30 seconds with the little bug. Hmm wait.. that sounds like something my wife would say …) finished.

I’m not sure how I feel about it – the first four bosses are really quite good by now. We know what we are doing, we even can experiment a little (shockwaveing the two spawning blood beasts is a really good idea) and blasting a boat with a cannon never looses its appeal. Neither do jetpacks.

And of course, going from the first part to the second usually takes us through the steam. The steam is hot – and as we learn when boiling our kettle, hot boiling steam is bad for us. Much like children bumbling about the kitchen there is usually _someone_ taking damage. In fairness – children tend not to die quite as horribly.

On the other hand, children also rarely get great ideas like “If I used my wellies, maybe I could get away with it”. Without further ado… the screenshot that will cost me more of my sex-life:

However, the abominations are still not going smoothly. Or – in yesterdays case – even down. We got a ton better at Rotface, got the spawn of little slimes under control and got better at merging them. We still occasionally manage to spawn two big adds around the 30% health mark and usually hilarity and death ensures shortly after. I think on our best attempt we had him at 14%. Considering our efforts so far consist of five attempts that‘s not too horrible.

We decided to liven up the mood a little and beat up Festergut instead. Something we had completed last week. In the end – it didn’t work, sadly. The quick version was that we made a horrible mistake on Spore positioning in the first try, I taunted the bloody thing on the second attempt with 9 stacks when switching to defensive instead of berserker stance after applying shattering throw (TL;DR: I pressed the wrong button and wiped the raid) and our shaman lost power on the third go – we replaced him with a fury warrior but were lacking a tiny bit of dps in the end. He wiped the raid at 48.000 remaining health by running into the enrage timer.

And here I’m beginning to get a bit worried. You see … in all the fights in ICC our off-tank usually is the aggro-hog. As a druid he sort of holds the skeletal rabble in check, while I trundle about and occasionally try and interrupt a caster. If I reach the fight first (yay! For charge) I can usually keep one or two “trash” mobs on myself. On bosses it’s not quite as bad – my threat generation is suitable, it’s just that my damage is rather low.

Really low.

You see … I do have a deathknight and a paladin and a druid and a warrior tank. And while I love my warrior to bits (due to his manly dwarven physique and his fabulous hairstyle) and enjoy playing him most, the damage of all the others is higher.

And yes… I compare them when tanking, not dps-deathknighting-1000000adds-on-onyxia.

And I don’t seem to be the only one. Warrior dps while tanking is low. Really low. There is this rather wonderful spreadsheet that compares the top 25 damage parses sorted by tank-types. There is also an average DPS value and a deviation against average sorted by classes. Warriors (in my exaggerated average) do somewhere between 15 and 35% less damage than other tank classes. On equal fights.

Sadly I lack the recount screenshot of the 48.000 health-missing Festergut attempt. I have the nagging suspicion that 50k damage is less than 10% of my total damage on that fight.

So basically… I feel like a slime for letting my raid down by not doing enough damage.

And yet … er… Blizzard does not seem to agree. In fact they (factoring in pvp – which drives me mental as usual) have come to this conclusion:

-- Warlock damage in PvE is a little low.

-- Protection warriors have too much utility and damage for PvP. (We don't want to hurt their tanking in PvE of course.)
-- We are considering adjusting (not replacing) the Elemental 4 piece Tier 10 set bonus.
-- We'll continue to refine and look at the Icecrown weapon procs.
-- Other stuff (yes, we've heard your concerns), but these are the big things we are focusing on at this time.

Say wud? So there are going to be nerfs affecting pvp which won’t impact my pve playability at all. M-hmm. I see.

Now this is an oldish post and the information has wandered around blogs everywhere with either much head-slapping or snorting or general disbelief. I tried not to moan when I first read it (which was, to be fair, before I saw the tanking spreadsheet – I always just assumed I was crap at dps). The new patch notes for patch 3.3.2 give a bit more details – and are not all discouraging:
• Concussion Blow: Damage decreased by 50%. Threat level remains unchanged.
• Devastate: Damage increased by 20%.
• Shield Slam: Damage modifier from block value decreased, and scales worse at low block value levels. Players in high-end gear shouldn't notice the change. In addition, threat generated by Shield Slam has been increased by 30%.
• Warbringer: This talent no longer allows Charge and Intercept to break roots or snares. Intervene remains unaffected. In other words, you can still Charge and Intercept in any stance and while in combat.

What does that mean? Well... concussion blow was one of the low-threat, high dps moves in my standard tanking rotation. Once threat was established, this was used every time it was off cooldown on fights like patchwork. Less dps in total on long fights.

Devastate just increases – and this makes the tier 8 and tier 9 2-set boni more interesting again. Shame we have outgrown that monstrous mix of armour by now. However... there is more damage hidden in this and we’ll have to see how it goes.

Shield Slam is worded completely confusing. Thank you, but I have no idea what they actually said. I think it means “Your shield slam will deal less damage in all situations – unless you are geared in top end items picked specifically for block value. Threat goes up (thank you) for better single target tanking.

Now not to complain or anything (well yes, actually) – but I wasn’t bloody complaining about single target threat. I was talking about AoE threat and damage. Hmpf.

Warbringer is a bloody nuisance as well. For mobility around the combat area I use the warbringer macro stolen from tankingtips:

/castsequence [harm] reset=15 Charge, Intercept; [help] Intervene

This is really useful actually when fighting the trash packs in ICC. When the frosty mages use their frosty nova I can just charge/intercept into the next caster, stun for a spell interrupt and continue building threat. With the changes I need to actually select a player to be able to intervene out of the same situation.

There is an upgraded version of the above macro:

/castsequence reset=15 Charge, Intercept
/cast [help] Intervene; [target=targettarget, help] Intervene;

This should work even with an enemy selected – if the enemy has a different player as a target and if both the player and the mob are within legal intervene ranges.

And all of that just because some mage was apparently stunned to death by a protection warrior instead of the usual rogue.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Pet Project Time

Pet project: I want enough primordial saronite to last me a lifetime – or at least finish the quest for the legendary I’ll never use.

See, the problem is lately that I am not entirely sure what to do. I am still trying to collect my 100 mounts – which means another 45 days of icecrown dailies. I am still gearing up my tanking warrior of main-ness by doing the one daily heroic for emblems of frost.

However apart from that – and the weekly raid – there is not much to keep me occupied at the moment. So of course the alting set in. As always late into an expansion (err.. or into the original game, but that makes the sentence so much more complicated).

Now I’m in the lucky position of having several level 80 alts. A druid tank, a deathknight tank/dps, a warlock tank/healer! (err.. no wait) and a shaman dps. All of them are currently trying to do the daily heroic and the weekly raid. In theory, that means I get my first primordial saronite after 9 days – and then some more in the future (and frankly the math is too complicated - and I might miss days - for longer predictions).

The amusing thing is that I did not run into any of the bigger problems posted by others yet. I have not yet had completely ridiculously overpowered dps, I have not had tanks that were out of gear level with the rest of the group (on either end) and I have not run into a healer who could not keep my “main” alive in a normal heroic yet.

So far, I have to say, my gear level was matched appropriately to the rest. Allegedly this is something Blizzard planned on. Of course, there might be a recursive effect here: If I queue as a tank straight away and play with the first group that is assigned to me – and all of them got into the same group at the beginning – then the gear matching probably works well. If the previous tank dropped out and the rest of the group got assigned to the front of the queue, it might all go to bits instead.

To provide some data for my cunning theory:

My warrior tank usually is fitted with dps in approximately iLevel 232+ gear. Their damage usually hovers around the 3k to 6k marks – depending on the amount of AoE and the attention they pay.

My druid tank usually is fit in with the group doing around 2k to 3k damage. They all fit well, no one complains and there definitely is no “Lol you n00b” stuff going on.

My warlock and shaman end up in the “just around 2k” group. Their tanks are usually closer to 30k health and sometimes people openly admit to not having done fights before. People still roll on blue and epic drops in heroics. In the weekly raid I occasionally get a snide “Great gear” comment, but oh well …

I have to say, I’m quite happy with the matchmaking of WoW. Come to think of it – this is where I met my wife, too.  Either than, or I just continue to be lucky :p

P.S. Oh final note: “Interesting gear – but no worries, this is only Naxx, you’ll be fine” was a comment I got in the weekly raid last night. If you have a look at my shamans gear you’ll see that the comment was completely fair. However, the general niceness of “you’ll be fine” was something that only happened to me once. Must have been roleplayers - they are different people after all.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Rambling about perceptions in gaming...

There have been a few posts lately (in blogs I read) about how the game is percieved. Tamarind wrote a very personal post about how the game affected him and my lovely wife showed off a few of her favourite „good looking“ screenshots.

Of course screenshots always make me wonder what I've got hiding away in my screenshots folder. And their continued rambling about how they both enjoyed doing whatever they are doing – possibly without going for the most efficient route and while enjoying the scenery – got me thinking.

You see... I've been playing MMORPGs for a rather long time now – and computer games in general for even longer. Started practically right after school in the very first year of uni with Ultima Online. It was a unique approach to MMORPGs back then – mainly because there was no real mainstream competition. Of course there were MUDs about – some of them with a rather large number of followers as well – but they did not compare to the sheer genious that was Ultima.

Hmm... I'm beginning to sound like a fanboi. Can't be helped – it really was the first proper online game at the time. You see... Ultima was released in 1997. It is also still open and has a number of subscribers – allegedly there are also still people joining it.

Back then the world was Isometric. Younger readers might no longer be aware of what that even means. The world was accessible in a top down view only – and your viewing distance was limited to the number of squares of movement that fit on your screen (around 15 steps in each direction). Of course this seriously limited the amount of impressive landscape that could fit onto one screen.

On the other hand – back then the most likely internet connection was a 56.6k modem. DSL was a thing of the future, and lag and latency issues were as much a thing of the gaming world as they are now. Still... the world did manage to look bloody impressive now and then.

This is actual in-game graphics. The roof of my pride and joy building to be exact. Player housing was already present back then (with all it's advantages and drawbacks – I'm rather glad it's not a part of World of Warcraft at the moment) and some people spent ages on trying to create „decorations“ from everyday items. An example would be the „hot tub“ in the top left corner of that image, made from died cloth, spiders silk for foam, benches hidden under the cloth to enforce a sitting animation in passing characters and so on and so forth.

Back in the day, I really used to enjoy walking around and discovering new sights. Well... once the character was powerful enough to survive blundering about.

With the player housing also came a lot of player run events – and I loved participating in those back then. In-game weddings, in-game tournaments, treasure hunts, feuding guilds fielding armies to fight each other … it was all there. All kinds of balance issues were also present, obviously – and to people who think Blizzard ruins the game when Deathknights do a little more damage than average, let me link to this masterpiece. Someone managed to crash a server by exceeding the total possible number of monsters on a server due to an issue.

Life clearly was different for me back then – more open minded, for one. I seriously miss the wild-eyed wonder days sometimes.

Eventually Ultima came to an end for me. I think I stuck with the game for seven years in the end – playing on and off.

One of my next stops was Asherons Call. A proper three-dimensional client, this was the first game that had me stop and stare at the sunsets over the mountains. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find my screenshots any more. To give a better idea of the advances of visualization I have stolen a picture of the interwebs (from here).

That game also had the most interesting magic system I have seen so far. You see... every mage had their own components for spells. And they were unknown at the beginning. There was no proper logic to them. Mages had to compose the spell reagents in an order they thought likely and then try and cast a spell. If it worked, you learnt the spell for future use – if it failed you had either missed your casting roll, or the reagents were in the wrong order. Many a cow in “Starter Town of which I forgot the name” was incinerated/bathed in acid/frozen solid in my quest for more combat spells.

An age of exploration. Running wilfully into the darkness to try and find out more things about the world in general, combat in particular … and the specific weaknesses of monsters by trying.

Back then I also scored really really high on the Bartle test under Explorer. Quite high as Socializer and a proud zero as Killer.

Games changed again. Star Wars Galaxies was my next big stop. And this was the definite time of my life for sightseeing. Luckily – in this case I still have the screenshots.

A wookiee enjoying the sunset on Tatooine.

A wookiee and his pet cat watching Yavin4 rise on the associated moon.

A player wedding - held in an imperial base on Yavin4.

Heavy weapons were part of the game - in this case: Flamethrower combat.

Our imperial guild getting ready for a raid - complete with AT-ST pets.

Of all the games in my history, Star Wars Galaxies is the one that left the most memories about roleplaying and player interaction. All my memories are obviously tinged pink (because it was so bloody amazing), so now group conversations in World of Warcraft quickly appear to be rude. Guild events appear stale and have a low turnout. Groups appear to be tiny (back then maximum group size was 20 and we regularily managed to field four groups - of course there were no raids, so this is just cheating - but the fact remains that a group size is much smaller now).

This is also the game I most despise the company for breaking. In two rather sizable "Combat Upgrades" the game was changed completely. This was probably neccessary - due to the utter stupidity of introducing an "alpha" class (Jedi) in a heavy pvp game. You thought deathknights were overpowered at the beginning? Imagine a Jedi in full armour taking on 15 to 20 bounty hunters and walking away without much of a scratch. Imaging also more and more people unlocking Jedi characters. The system was bound to break horribly.

As far as I know the flexibility of the game is completely gone by now. Star Wars has turned into a game of proper "classes" - where you start as a Bounty Hunter or Smuggler and stay the same, leveling up to 90 on the way. Somehow my interest in roleplaying died a little with leaving that game as well.

I distinctly remember enjoying whole evenings spent in a cantina, chatting merrily about the relativ benefits of being a Captain in the imperial army. Nowadays I just tend to walk on when someone goes on too long "in character".

You see (ha.. we are reaching something of a point already): it seems to me expectations and playing styles change over time. I am prone to forgive young players chatting merrily about the new loot they aquired and showing off every shiny purple they got in guild chat - mostly because I still remember doing the same.

I also did boast about the fantastic class abilities of the rogue: I could sneak and scout out the area. And I told my random warlock and warrior elite quest partners such - in detail. I seriously have no idea how much those people knew about other classes back then, but nowadays I think back to scenes like that with a good bit of dread. Was I really that obnoxious?

My current game is a good bit different from everything I have "played" so far. I now value efficiency more than other things. I pick my quests and leveling areas by progress. I read information material on the side, I build templates at work and try to optimize my rotations using a target dummy (well.. on dps classes). For all I care, the graphics could be reduced further to an absolute minimum. In most fights in Icecrown I am zoomed out as far as possible anyway - the looks of someones hat will not even register. If my character was a blue circle and all hostiles were red squares - nothing much would change.

I feel that the expectations about a game change rather rapidly. I love when my wife shows me an amazing screenshot - usually not because I see the beauty, but rather because I can enjoy her having fun in the game. Still drives me mental the way she levels (with no concept or plan) - but I think I am now "wise" enough to accept that there are different ways to enjoy the same game.

Some leave me curious: What do the roleplaying guards at "Northwatch Hold" talk about?

Some leave me utterly bewildered: "I am completely drunk and using a friends character - forgive me for whatever I do, I have never played a mage before!"

All of those have a right to have fun, though, so I begin to react badly to vote-kick requests for players with slightly sub-optimal dps. Well... most of the time. Sometimes I can't remember what I talked about in this post and just get annoyed as well.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

While we are at rating things… how about raid food?

Now I presume if you are reading this, you are not a member of one of those top end raiding guilds that cracked the Sunwell in Karazhan gear and such. I’m sure the dietary requirements of those are best fulfilled by NASA space food (in the tasty options of orange, mustard and peanut/horseradish). Everyone else, however, is prone to snack foods to take them through the gruelling four hour stretch of intense concentration.

A quick look at my own body mass index shows that I am uniquely suited to provide a qualified answer to the question “What should I eat?” And give a recommendation as well. And Christmas has nothing to do with this!

Now it is a long standing tradition in our 10-man raid guild to have ice-cream breaks. This tradition was founded (or, more precisely, I stumbled upon this tradition) in the summer of 2007. It was a hot summer. Karazhan was a lengthy instance with lots and lots of trash. Breaks were required! The raid leaders at that time came up with the scheduled break after the Curator. When we started the instance this was about two hours in. It had the added advantage of people not running off to the bog every 10 minutes – as they knew in advance there would be a proper break.

So for the sake of tradition, the first food item rated for raid convenience shall be ice cream.


(not me - but a lovely 10 scoop ice-cream)

Available in a wide variety of flavours, this food item will most likely be available in a taste everyone can enjoy. Personally, I’m partial to peach, lemon sorbet and sweet woodruff. The foodstuff itself has a few rather severe disadvantages:

  • The stuff is not solid enough to handle with your fingers and press the interrupt macro button without fail. A spoon or reasonably similar implement will be necessary.
  • Ice cream is by design usually cold. This also means that it will probably change its temperature and consistency based on several factors like ambient temperature, proximity to CPU heatsink and number of raiders in one room.

 However, ice-cream also provides great side effects like cooling a frayed temper, supply copious amounts of nutritious sugar, and require a trip to the freezer – which counts as a unit of sports for me the typical raider.

I’ll grant it a rating of B for raiding food supplies. A solid food staple that should not be missed.

Not far behind is a whole group of foods. Those items are a longstanding companion of the evening in front of the telly. For some strange reason the en-masse consumption of those while using “voice activation” instead of “push to talk” may also have granted me the nickname “Crunchy” in the past. The wonderful food item of choice is available under a variety of names from simple crisps over “Saltlet sticks” to the fine German “Bretzeln”.


 (Fine crisps - probably unhealthy)

 (Also fine Brezeln. Possibly slightly less unhealthy)

These food items are conveniently available in small single-unit packages, suitable for consumption while pulling or fighting or jousting or whatever. A single crisp will thus make every single move in WoW combat more enjoyable. However, once again, there are certain disadvantages:


  • Depending on the type of food the fingers may acquire a greasy sheen after only a few moves. This can lead to reduced effectiveness over the course of a raid. It also leaves unfashionable shiny spots on the keyboard – especially during high activity events like heroic strike spam on Patchwerk fights et al.
  • The consumption of the aforemention snack foods is accompanied by a certain amount of noise (see: the comment above about “Crunchy”). If you are a regular user of voice-chat systems try and find the optimal distance for the microphone to allow both easy access of the snack food to your mouth and a low impact on the sanity of your co-raiders. Note that this can actually be turned into an advantage with repeated use – your co-raiders will learn to associate a continuous crunching sound with sanity and mental stability and will learn to fear the sudden absence of the same.
  • Due to a certain lack of fluid in this food types a secondary supply of drink will be required in conjunction. This may impact the raiding performance on its own. Specifically when the drink in question falls into the Mai Tai category.

(Mai Tai)


The advantages of this type of food are obviously numerous. A package can be supplied before the raid to the computer chair and might last sufficiently long to take the hungry raider through several boss fights. The food does not spoil in the timeframe of a normal raid – no special effort is required to make it last. The food contains nutritious carbohydrates and saturated animal fats, possibly with an extra helping of salt. All of those deliciously unhealthy ingredients make it especially tasty!

Total rating: B (upgraded to A in the presence of Mai Tais).

Now so far the food items considered were suitable mainly for my own body type. Filling a chair or a large t-shirt with no wasted room to spare. However, apparently some raiders of the female persuasion are sufficiently shapely to fall asleep naked on their laptop while raiding. Now this, of course, calls for an entirely different diet. Practically the only suitable raiding snack is composed of raw vegetables. Carrots and turnips can be sliced up (I hear) and then eaten raw. If you are a rabbit.

A truly perfect food for raiding is obviously available in a presentable package size – as discussed above. For the naked, hot raiders the crisps can be replaced by bean sprouts!


(Oh yes. They taste as wonderful as they look)

Full of scary vitamins, greens, water and minerals those probably make a healthy and delicious snack. But let’s have a look at the disadvantages before going on:

  • Bean sprouts are practically alive. They are grown in a damp corner of a grocery and then ripped out of their friendly little sheltered place and sold. It’s a bit like eating babies, really!
  • As they are something bought from a grocers, they are prone to wilting. The speed at which this happens is obviously reliant on several factors, like ambient temperature, proximity to the CPU heatsink and number of raiders in the room.
  • The nutritional value of the bean sprouts is bound to be low. No sugar, no fat, no artificial colours – there probably isn’t even a hedgehog flavoured variant on the market. Raiders in serious need of concentration probably will have to supplement their food with a caloric drink (like, say, a Mai Tai) or risk passing out on their laptop – hopefully naked.
Apart from the obvious advantages of being “something clean” to nibble, there are several other advantages. The noise coefficient generated by crunching on fresh bean sprouts is low, allowing a continuous intake while chatting away and flirting with the raid leader. The time required per unit is as low as with the previous item – making them perfect for a quick bite before each pull. And finally: leftovers do not need to spoil. Instead of letting them melt or go stale and soggy, bean sprouts can just be thrown out of the window on the drive to work the next morning – and will create a fertile field ready to combat evil pangs of hunger in the real world!



(I am assured this is a proper bean-plantation, not a vinyard. I'd prefer the latter.)


A total rating of …. Hmm… well… C. I would rate this higher, if only Snottydin posted some pictures.

Last but not least … proper foods. As a total random example we shall pick the pig roast with dumplings. Err… porceau avec mashed, shaped colle à tapisser. As served here:


 (A true southern German specialty. Of dubious popularity.)

Nutritious and warm this food is bound to replace lost energy and will to push on, put a sated smile on the face of the raider and – when combined with a good beer – create a certain mellow atmosphere. Unfortunately there are one or two trifling little problems as well:

  • Due to the sticky sauce and dumpling consistency tools are required. Chopsticks have proven inadequate for proper pig-roast handling and thus a knife and fork appear to be a good idea. In the clatter of dishes and cutlery care must be taken not to miss important information by the raid leader!
  • The preparation of a proper “porceau avec mashed, shaped colle à tapisser” is more time consuming than the previous food suggestions. Reheated food nuked to a friendly temperature looses some of the texture and taste associated with the real thing. This effect can be so pronounced as to reclassify the meal to “building material”. A quick bio break between Loatheb and the next wing might not be enough.
On the plus side, this meal will sate even the most starving raider better than the previous choices. A warm meal revitalizes and reenergizes – and no mere CPU controlled enemy will be able to stand against a Bavarian dancing troupe raid thus fortified.

Total rating: A+. For the wonderful boni far outweigh the need for proper table manners.



Please feel free to comment on any of your personal favourite food items. Who knows… even the otherwise perfect Bavarian cuisine might be able to pick up a few more pointers from around the globe!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A tale of progress

After an extended christmas holidays our raid group finally got back together in the static composition yesterday for another shot at Icecrown Citadel. We were a bit late to start and had some debate about whether to do the weekly raid quest first – shame on us, really. However … it got much, much better from the start.

We cleared the trash to Marrowgar without wipes and still managed to trigger all off the juicy big skeletons for extra faction. Go us! We managed to move into position on Marrowgar, tank him through a tank-crash and only lost one little tree due to his deforestation move. Beat him up with time to spare – and yes… we are aware he was nerfed, but still .. this was sooo much better than last time.

By this time the first few people had enough rep for their rings (or ring upgrades) and trundled back to the entrance. We charged back, stronger and more powerful than before and killed the trash before Lady Deathwisper. Just like that. All two groups and all two priests – without anyone dying. If I remember the amount of trouble those priests gave us on the first attempt – ha! is all I’m going to say. We may unfortunately possibly have had a wipe on the Lady herself. Caused by … erm… me, I suppose.

You see… we left our poor retribution paladin on the lady all the time – no sense running after adds when there is a shield to beat up. The shadowpriest, boomkin and two hunters focused on downing adds first, bringing down the shield second. Notice something already? No? No worried.. I didn’t either. Once the shield is down, the two tanks (bear and warrior) rush forward to intercept the lady and pull her down the stairs. No line of sight issues and all that. She casts another death and decay and we twitch a little to position her better. She casts a “frostbolt” (which in actual fact is a frostbolt volley of DOOM™) and I sort of forgot to shieldbash it – or was out of rage (which sounds a little better). So one of the tanks dies. And the other can’t hold aggro. So I get a battleres and charge back in and see her cast a frostbolt – clearly targeted on the other tank… and was a bit slow on the shieldbash again … and … and I expect the results are obvious by now.

So what changed? Last time we tried this we had a rogue along. A rogue that has a tenuous grasp on the concept of aggro and spell interrupts at best (usually) – but who was shouted at to interrupt any frostbolts he saw. And he did. Without fail. And the real kicker? Much like the general in Ulduar, the frostbolts come every 10 seconds. And the protection warriors spell interrupt is timed at 12 seconds. So there is no reliable way I can properly do this alone. Hmpf.

Oh yes.. we wiped.

And ran back in. All except for the retribution paladin that is. She may possibly have been playing too much in the new instances, but her swift spirit griffon took her all the way over the entrance to the Pit of Saron before she noticed. Did I mention I love teamspeak? So while everyone is buffing and eating their food to get ready for the next attempt the husband of the retribution paladin has to explain to the raid that she will be a minute.

“Issy has gotten lost on the way from the graveyard – she’ll be here in a moment”.

Bonus points for push to talk sticking a bit… and everyone hearing the shouted “I am not lost, I’m exploring!” leading to much hilarity. Ah well. There goes my sexlife for the next four years.

Of course … she didn’t make things better by missing the teleporter, running all the way up the ramp past Marrowgar and then leaving autorun on through the group waiting for pally buffs and straight for the face of the Lady. In her defence: She did stop before triggering the boss, but it was close. And the raid once again got a dose of “You might want to stop before you run into her” – “I am not going … oh oops. I was just making sure it was safe for everyone!”

Another 10 years.

Second attempt went smoothly, though. We bashed, stunned, smashed and interrupted stuff. We didn’t stand in the green. We got loot.

Up the ramp and into our mandatory ice-cream break. Every proper raid needs an ice-cream break.

The “PvP Encounter” at the top drew a little bit of comments from people. I suppose the Faction Champions in ToC still lingers and haunts peoples sleep. I think our tree trundled off to pull the frostwyrm at the last platform before the boat … ship … whatever.

And then we sank our boat (for some silly reasons best left unexplained) and didn’t really have a clue what was going on. Well… me, at least. Hey I’ve never seen this fight before.

Wipe, mopup, back to work and this time it was a blast.

Our hometeam consisted of the druid tank, all two healers, the boomkin, the shadowpriest and the elemental shaman. The gunners consisted of retribution paladin and warrior tank (<- that’s me! *proud look*). The away team was the two hunters and anyone else who could be bothered, really. We didn’t send a healer to the other side, instead relying on the away-tank/gunner to bring the boss close to our own boat for tanking.

Wheee.. those cannons are fun. Button 1 fires and does a little damage and generates a little heat. Button 2 fires, using up all the heat and doing a little more damage. The cooldown is extremely low (definitely less than 1 second), so the gunner game plays a lot like typing a text – or spamming heroic strike on patchwork (111 111 111 112). On the second freeze I even learnt to use my number 2 one last time just before the enemy mage reached the centre of his ship. It wasn’t hard and it was really entertaining. Although I suspect that’s because I had the two most fun roles to play this time. Gunner and Jetpack – huzzah!

I think we managed to wipe again on the Saurfang Deathbringer-thing after that. Again – first time for me, and I was crap. The two tanks supposedly taunt the boss off each other as soon as he casts his “Mark of Blood” on one of them. Deadly boss mods announces this – both in text and with a timer for the next one. The second tank was in my group – and I have debuffs turned on, so I should have seen it. I also had him as my focus target, so his healthbar with debuffs was pretty much in the dead centre of my screen. And still … still it is surprisingly hard to remember to actually taunt.

We rock two hunters, though, so at least the blood beast handling was really easy. Traps and arrows of death took care of them – or so it seemed. I’m sure I managed to hit them once or twice by accident. It seems the glyph of sunder armor is not an optimal choice for this fight.

In a mere two attempts we got that one deaded as well. Not bad at all. Of course by then it was pretty late and people got lost and our fearless raid-leader got steamboiled – great for low calorie cooking, I’m sure.

Note for people new to the second wing of Icecrown Citadel: White steam kills. If you are running through the entrance area to the Plagueworks, stop before the cloud of white steam. Unlike the fire-things in movies, there is no complicated sequence to learn to avoid being boiled – just run through to the next one, stop, move past it when it stops. Well… or pop shield-wall and run, but who’d do such a thing just to get the shadowpriest killed?

The Valkyr in the entrance area path a really large patrol pattern around the area – so large one seriously has to wonder who hired the security in Icecrown. I mean… one could march an army through there unnoticed. Not very far – that’s true, but a team of special forces, equipped with jetpacks and a bit of rope…

Well no. Because you can’t vault over the sides of those platforms. When our fearless paladin healer asked if we’d be able to plummet to our deaths there … all ten of us tried. Each and every one. Smashing their noses on the invisible walls separating us from instant death. You could hear the disappointment in the “No … we’re safe”.

We wiped once more on trash – in this case the little dog “Precious”. A silly thing, but we tried to get the zombies under control – being misled by their resemblance to stinky ol’ Gluth we feared heals and being overwhelmed and the thing even cast a decimate. Just on us, though, which should have been a hint. Tip for the professionals: Don’t kill the zombies – even your healers will survive them. Beat up the dog like you mean it!

The two bosses look exactly identical – and we ran out of time for proper tries. But a good go for a late start anyway. And next week we’ll find a new way to get rid of our raidleader *nodnod* something gory and unpredictable.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A new warrior (Level 1 to 10)

So ... with the ability to transfer bind on account items across factions it was an easy feat to finally equip a fine horde warrior with the latest in heirloom fashion.

A shiny Repurposed Lava Dredger for bashing things, a bit of armour (and this one) and a sword for tanking my new shiny cow was set. Of course... I forgot to send myself the haste trinket in my haste to get all the gear transferred. It shall not stop me!

So now I have a new project. I headed off across the fertile fields of Mulgore to lay waste to anything in my path. And because it's literally been years since my last warrior was that low level, I thought I'd keep a running log of progress. It may be some use to those leveling a warrior themselves - and maybe even be a bit of inspiration to those who already have several level 80 warriors to try another one.

For starters: Questing in the starting area has gotten easier than before. There are no longer any red mobs in the "below level 6" areas. This basically means you can complete all the quests in perfect safety and get to level 5 in around an hour or so. Food and drink have been banished from the starter "kit", but this is more than made up by the enormously increased health and mana regeneration at low levels. No more need to stop - by the time you walked to the next monster, you'll be back at full health.

At level 1 warriors have their autoattack, heroic strike and racial abilities. That's it. Not much to work with, but it serves as a good measure to introduce the warriors biggest problem: rage generation.

You gain rage for hitting things (more damage = more rage) with your basic auto attack and for taking damage (more damage = more rage, although this can get you killed real fast). If you use a special ability, it will use rage. The first level one is a bad starting point, in my opinion, because it's one of those dreaded "on next swing" abilities. This means that heroic strike will consume 15 rage when you use it - and make you loose the rage from your next normal swing. (Normal swings are sometimes reffered to as "white damage" due to the appearance in normal WoW combat text - as opposed to all specials, which are yellow.)

At level 2 you gain Battle Shout. The first of two(?) warrior buffs. This increases your attack power for 2 minutes by "value + level" (around 16 when you first get it - doesn't sound like much, but it'll scale up). This is a group-wide buff - and paladins, melee shaman, rogues and hunters will tank you for keeping it up pretty permanently when you are in a group. Of course.. you are still limited by rage (Battle Shout costs 10 rage to use) - so you'll probably need to get a swing in before you can use it. It should last until you get the next enemy engaged, though - or you are running around in circles *grin*.

At level 4 you get two useful abilities nowadays. Charge and Rend. Charge will take you up to 25 yards towards your next target (as long as you are not in combat), stun the target for a short time (this does interrupt spellcasting - although you will be in combat if something is casting at you, so you might be able to use this for saving a squishy priest one day, but don't depend on it) and - most importantly - give you a tiny amount of rage. Rend is a bleed - the damage dealt depends on weapon damage. The damage will be inflicted over a rather long time (15 seconds), so each "tic" (every three seconds) will only deal low amounts of damage - but this has two important side effects. It does kill off runners (monsters running away from you at low health - especially nasty if they have friends nearby) and it prevents "rogue types" from going into stealth - the next damage taken will break them out of hiding again (probably in a puddle of blood on the ground - but no need to get gory).

Once out of the intro-intro area you'll find a mailbox. I used mine to pick up new shinies.

At level 6 you'll gain Thunderclap and Victory Rush. The last one was new to me (originally awarded past level 60). Thunderclap is an AoE attack that deals damage and slows down your targets weapon swing speed. This does not affect casters casting speed - so don't try to get them with this. The damage is comparatively low as well - you are not an AoE damage dealer like a hellfire casting, nuclear inferno mage. You will, however, survive getting hit once. Victory Rush is an "after killing something" move. It will grant you a free attack (damage based on your attack power) that does not cost any rage - great for starting a fight. It also is only available up to 20 seconds after you killed your last target - great for starting a fight! Remember that Battle Shout increases attack power? Put it up before you use victory rush for about 2 points of extra damage.

At level 8 you'll gain Hamstring and the second Heroic Strike. The second HS will just increase your damage a bit. This is required in the current stage of the game, as otherwise your 11 bonus damage (of rank one) would soon end up inconsequential. This may be changed in the future - but I'll wait and see. Good news while leveling, though - the new skill level automatically replaces your old one. So your space on the quickbar is saved. There is no need ever to use a lower level ability as a warrior - casting classes occasionally differ (depending on the state of the game), but us platewearers don't care. Proper plate, that is .. not healing paladinses. Who knows what they do in their spare time anyway *shifty eyes*. Hamstring is an ability that massively reduces movement speed. While this causes almost no damage, it can prevent a running monster from reaching a friend and making your life harder. It's also an important pvp ability - or so I am told.

At level 10 you'll get your first warrior class quest, Rend (Rank 2) and Bloodrage. Rend - as before on heroic strike - just increases your damage. Good to have, but nothing new to learn. Bloodrage uses some of your own health to generate rage. A lot of rage. 20 at the start and then another 10 over 10 seconds. This ability also is not bound to the usual "global cooldown" timer - meaning you can use it when you need it without upsetting your next ability use (typical examples are bloodrage + hamstring NOW NOW NOW! at this level).

The warrior class quest will lead to the second "Stance". Defensive stance (reduces incoming damage) and the abilities typically expected of a tank. Taunt (which snaps aggro of a monster to you and puts you at the top of its hate-list) and Sunder Armor which makes physical attacks deal more damage. That alone does not sound very impressive, but it also causes a high amount of threat, so the monster is very likely to attack you after using it - not the mage-of-nuclear-inferno cowering in his sissy robes behind your mighty shoulders. Oh... and rogues/enhancement shamans/hunters love when you use it.

I'll continue updating the "guide to lowbie warrior leveling" when I get a few more things crushed done. See you soon!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Random screenshot-snippet moment

I thought I'd share a few thoughts after a day of intensive playing. See... when I got back from our extended holidays, I thought it would be a good idea to do lots of instances. Had to catch up on lots of missed emblems of frost after all (and it only occured to me later that it wouldn't work by doing 7 bajillion instances a day... but them are the breaks).

I did the weekly raid quest all on my lonesome - that is, with no one of my guildies for moral support. And I felt kind of bad after we took down Razuvious. It was one of those groups that was half-carried. The two tanks vastly overgeared Naxx 10. The two healers likewise very ridiculously overpowered. One of the DPS was saved to Naxx 10 and had no idea what it meant to be saved to an instance - he could not find us inside, so we did it with 9 people. Two of the DPS openly admitted to this being their first raid ever, they had not been to Naxx before and had no idea what to do. The group was helpful enough about this but ... and I do not exclude myself here ... several players left after the first boss-kill. I mean ... yes ... tank dps was higher than some of the DPS, but for them to find replacements after the weekly boss was already dead would be a proper pain.

Didn't get any nice screenshots from there, though ... so you'll just have to believe me.

Second funny was someone selling his body. No ... not a nightelf priest girl dancing on the ironforge mailbox, a tank!

The idea is tempting... I might have to look into that. I wonder how much money he made that day.

Then we had the guildgroup. This ties in a little with Pugnacious Priests post about better gear. The first two of the new instances were vaguely carried by the tank and healer (Lamalyon and Nandini - one of them is a shaman, so she wasn't tanking). The DPS are all fresh level 80s - one of them a first timer. Lovely people - which gives us something to do, and apparently it's quite a challenge to do the Forge of Souls and Pit and Saron with lowish DPS. Lam sadly had to leave in the middle of the night ... some lame excuse about getting up for work in 5 hours or some such *grin*. I was drafted in there by "the look" from my wife - and found the group good fun actually.

Except that Halls of Reflections probably is not the best place for low dps. We tried. We really did. But even with all the tricks we didn't get past the fourth wave in the timed event. Something I had not noticed before - the next wave will spawn even if you are still fighting something from the previous one. Just like Violet Hold - only nastier. It was only after we decided that our DPS was not enough for this that I took a look at recount.

I have to admit - I love topping the meters, though. Even as a tank. Especially as a tank.

And then there is the same question every single time we enter this instance. Someone will always come up with "Can I take the sword?"

Back in the good old days of Ultima Online we would only have required a thief now. And Frostmourne would have been ours. Well.. the thieves. And he'd probably taken our mage materials and our weapons too. But that is beside the point!

Friday, 8 January 2010

It was a grievous wound indeed!

That Tamarind person made me play on a roleplaying server for a bit lately – mostly because I got to play on my holidays a little and didn’t want to log in with a character that might be drafted for something dangerous while playing on a tiny laptop with no proper mouse (and I’ll stick to that story!).

Now I’ve been playing MMORPGs since the ancient days, when dragons were tameable and halberds plus magic were a good idea. And nothing has changed since – death seems to be a major problem for roleplayers. Technically I can understand that – I mean, in most books once the hero dies, it’s over (except for some vampire stories, but let’s not go there, please?).

However, that’s not really what the game plays like, now is it? I did not suffer a grievous wound when the Lich King hit me for around a million damage. I died. Horribly. That’s why there are resurrections available to almost anyone from around level 10. Except for warriors, of course, but pffft... we are that good, we don’t need it anyway.

Where was I? Oh yes… complaining about roleplayers that did not notice when they died and instead insist they had suffered a brutal wound. When the game clearly kills them. As visible from the ghost shape and the spirit healer and the resurrection spell cast to bring them back. I won’t ramble on too long about it, but why do they feel the need to pretend not to die. Clearly no one can die – there are hordes of rampaging opposite faction players running every night into their capital cities just to bump off that hot banshee in leather. At least… we presume that’s what the screaming is all about.

Death is a little bit like a sick-note to my boss in that real life game, isn’t it? “Why weren’t you there on Monday for the telephone conference?” is the exact same question as “Why was your total damage so low in phase three on the Northrend beasts?” The slip saying I had pneumonia is the same thing as “I stood in the poison cloud and died horribly in phase 2”.

Which brings me to the real point. We need a proper religion for online games – one that accepts that death in inevitable and not to be feared. Basically the way I see it, most religions deal with providing a set of moral guidelines and explaining the unexplainable. This is required because when Torg, the biggest, baddest cavemen of them all, who can split a dire lion in twine with his stone axe decides he likes your wife – you can tell him that the gods will smite him with lightning if he doesn’t behave (this is the point about the moral code). If Torg then walks up a hill in a thunderstorm and finds a large steel sword stuck in the top of it, with the words “Stormbringer” etched into the metal hilt and pulls it out of the soft, wet grass and shouts “I defy you, stupid lord of thunder!” – he’ll get what he deserves as well.

If he had not lusted after someone else’s cave-wife he would probably have been promised a life in paradise – something that most religions do to offset the rather noticeable unfun effects of dying.

However – with dying not something to be afraid of (well… except for incurring your raid-leaders anger) that is probably not something our WoW-Religion needs to take into account. There is no afterlife, for all I care. There is just the next one.

There are perils more dangerous than death, though. And if you ever read the PvP boards, you’d know what they are. Even most raiders agree on those points: “Not being in control of your character” is counted as the worst. Dying in an encounter usually does not rate anywhere near that high on the annoyance factor. We can even spin a bit of lore around this: Falling permanently under the control of the Lich King is the worst fate that can happen to someone in the game at the moment. There is even a quest in the game that describes this… and the practically divine intervention required to pull off an escape. If you are practically immortal due to frequent resurrections, this is even worse: any moment spent serving another (like a priest with mindcontrol and a high cliff) will be horrible – an eternity spent serving someone else is the end of the world.

So … the most feared thing would not be death, but rather the loss of control. The promised reward for the faithful would be level appropriate loot. We shall call it phat epixx “treasure” to make it sound more dignified. Now we just need a proper title. I suggest something that grasps the concept of the crowd control measures, pulls the faithful to my shepherding like a flock of..


Why not…

Join the Church of the Sheep!