Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Whiny Post Day

So the overpowered troll shaman decided that we had to have a whiny blog post day. Which clearly is a good idea.

So .. for tonights entertainment I have decided to whine about my raiding experience so far. What I lack in it, specifically. No, contrary to popular reports it is not a night elf in underpants. It is also not a kill shot of the lich king - even though that would be rather nice.

What I am after is constructive discussion after a wipe. Now ... we are a very casual raid group. We raid one night a week and we make decent progress. We clearly are not on the level of play of Ensidia et al, but I don't think any of us wants to do that. Ever. I like some lazy days after all.

We do also have quite a few wipes that happen due to stupidity. My own is glaringly obvious (to myself at least) now and then - forgot to save shieldwall for the third inhale on Festergut again and used it as soon as I taunted? Yeap.. that was my fault. Forgot to taunt on "Mark of Blood" at Saurfang because I was distracted by shiny colours, trying to keep my lol-dps rotation up or because I was trying to save up a shockwave for a blood-beast spawn? Yeap... that was my fault again.

However, we also occasionally have a wipe that is not transparently the mages fault someones fault. And that's where my whine is aimed at. What we then do is run back in as quickly as possible, buff up, wait for a minute to restock on nibbles and alcohol and go again with the words "Same again, just less dying".

That is something I hate. I really do. I want someone (preferrably not me - I'm having Mai Tais at that time) to tell me what went wrong. If that takes 10 minutes to sort through some mysterious addon (or the life report we actually have running) - so be it. I'd rather understand why we wiped. This is one of the few points in the game where I think pointing fingers is not only allowed - it should be encouraged.

If someone told me "You are a blithering idiot for not saving your shieldblock until after shockwave has worn off" it would be hard to swallow. Because I am perfect in all things and my tanking is like manna from heaven. However, once it had sunk in that they were actually right, I would have a better grasp on what's going on. And understanding a fight is what we need to do to be able to reproduce a kill in the following week. Perfectly. Even if drunk.

*takes a sip*

It worked! I got a whiny post! And I think we are all adult enough to actually manage to handle criticism. Of course I also only want deserved criticism - but that is a whine for next year.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Weekend Update

So another weekend without a post – even though technically I have more time on the weekends. However, there is always this “fun” part. During the weekends I finally get to play with the baby and catch up on the gaming at the same time. Which can lead to silly situations – like the tank permanently switching mini-pets.

I should probably explain that a little bit more – see… technically I don’t use mini-pets. They do, however, give a few achievement points, so of course I collected the basic 75. Our baby, on the other hand, loves the mini-pets. So when he sits on my lap, watching me slaughter my way through legions of … wait… that does not sound right.

So when he sits on my lap while I stroll through Utgarde Keep, laying waste to the undead hordes with sword and fire …

No… not better yet.

So when he sits on my lap, while I lead a fearless group of friends in an adventure to save the princess (see what I did there? See?) and show our superior swordplay to the enemy evildoers in an effort to cow them into giving up, he occasionally demands minipets.

Unsually going something like this: “I want to see the chicken. No the other chicken. And now the cat. No the white cat. And the green frog. And the blue frog. And the orange frog. And the spider. Itsy bitsy spider climbed up the … oooh now the core hound” (we are so proud he can say core-hound at age two and a half. He’ll be a star in kindergarden).

So the fearless tank has the pet window open, blocking half the screen and is following a priority system of “sword and board shield slam > shield slam > new minipet > devastate”. It does have its challenging moments. And I will never understand why calling a minipet requires a global cooldown – would it provide an unfair advantage in pvp?

Anyway. Catching up on gaming was the main topic here. Because it was a rather successful weekend for that. My Sunday morning started with getting up before the rest of the family, making a cup of tea and a bowl of cereal and then plopping down in front of the computer. Sure… I could have painted the walls, but the noise would certainly have woken up the family. So instead it was the quick daily work to ensure my repair bills will always be paid. Log in, do the jewelcrafting daily, grab the Brunhildar daily, then head over to the Argent Tournament grounds. Not my greatest moneymaking scheme, but both have mounts – the blue ladies as a rare drop in their bag of goodies, the tournament people every 11 days of completing their dailies.

Lucky moment – on the way to the tournament I opened my bag and saw the shiny epic polar riding bear mount.

Queue a moment of disbelieving staring and a swift turn away from the tournament grounds. 100 mounts is quite enough, thank you. I did not actually “take” the bear from the bag because no one was actually online in guild – and hey… if you get an achievement like this, you need to rub a few people’s noses in it.

After failing the fishing tournament on Saturday I was seriously considering going to the one in Booty Bay on Sunday as well. After all, the Salty title is a proper rare achievement. Not more than 104 people can get it per year. This one is actually a proper achievement (unlike the 100 mounts one, I have to admit). Turns out this was a good idea (did I just ruin all the excitement? Sorry). I went to my usual fishing spot on Yojamba Isle (that’s the one where the friendly trolls for Zul Gurub reputation turn ins sit around) and found that it was… empty. No one there. It seems the general slowdown in World of Warcraft is also affecting the anglers. I like this area because the respawning pools stay in the same area – once a pool is fished dry another one will pop up either around the islands themselves (all two of them) or in the small fjord leading to the “Gates of Westfall” just to the north. Very little travel involved.

Unlike last week, I got my 40 tastyfish this week without a major incident. I didn’t fall into the water, I didn’t accidentally not loot because I was reading guildchat, I only got two “junkfish” from missing the pool and I didn’t forget to set my hearthstone to Booty Bay before the contest.

When I arrived in BB there was actually no one there. Some poor horde fisher was running up to the hand-in just as I got my achievement spam and my Hook of the Master Angler.

And it was great!

My hands were shaking more than after arena fights. This is proper pvp – entirely fair (*) and with no competition except for other players. Booyah!

And lastly - weekends give me time to actually read boards. It's turned into rather a lot of reading lately - not at all influenced by lots of new things from SAN.

My two favourites this weekend: The Lich King being surprisingly honest in his opinion and something I already knew about my raid groups - but did not manage to put quite so succinctly.

(*) As long as everyone is level 40 or above in my location – no hostile creatures on Yojamba Island. The epic ground mount is required to move quickly between pools.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Single Abstract Noun - and a guildfirst!

Right. It started here, I think. After all sorts of background story (*snip* you've read that somewhere else by now) Tamarind and Jayce and Chastity and all sorts of people set up a guild for bloggers and blog-readers. I think we can pretty much exclude everyone else - even though it's not intentional, because they would not know about it.

The guild seems to be faring ... well... well! All kinds of people are blogging about it now (and I'm sure I forgot some - and I'm sorry about it). Tobold started a whole new series of blog-posts about it.

And I have to say, it's really good fun. Guild chat is lively - which does make a bit of a difference to me. I notice that some days my "home server" guild is almost dead. Two people online, one of them in an instance and having to focus makes a massive difference. All those newbie shamans seem to have time to actually.. well.. talk!

And not only that - pick a random group of five of them and drop them into an instance and you'll notice that they all know what they are doing. I mean ... basically those are all still strangers. I have not played with any of them before - yet the experience is completely different from a pickup group.

For one - no one actually shouted "gogogo" yet, the only DPS who recklessly pulled aggro was Tamarind - and we sort of believe it was an accident. Ask him about his experience as a DPS class in an instance some day (the kill order on Argent Dawn is Skull - Cross - Rest, pretty much same as everywhere else. We actually had to point that out! Someone has played too many healers).

Oh yes... and even with people quite below the required level it was entirely possible to make certain that Arugal did, in fact, die! Because he must.

Lookity. A screenshot of a guild-first kill. I think. And we did it before this Demon kill. Or so I think, anyway.

The one that is solely for Jemmerd.

It is. I am incredibly grateful to our resident old-timer hunter Jemmerd. You see... I've been running Zul Gurub for a while now (not counting or anything, but this was attempt number 49). I usually need to pressure someone into helping me form a raid - otherwise they won't let me defile it.

This time Jemmerd offered to help out. And fully expecting him to go on a mining expedition, I started killing stuff. I had really not expected him to join me in there - but thankfully he did. It goes so much faster if you have a proper dps class along and don't have to rely on the massive protection warrior dps.

Far less than half the time for the raptor boss. And of course, being here for the first time in ages, it dropped the mount.

These are my lovely guildies we are talking about (and loot was set to free for all), so of course I offered to roll for it. I have to admit a certain amount of unhappiness, but that doesn't matter. But look. Lookatit! He just laughed and congratulated me. Wheeeeeeeeee!

All mine!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Random ICC moments

Considering the raid is already almost a week in the past this seems to be ... well... late. However, once again I can only say I love my raidgroup, for not only being pretty good at killing stuff, but also for being damn entertaining.

Let's start at the start. Nah. Let's actually do it all in random order to keep readers on their toes. Yeah, that's more fun. Remember back in the Burning Crusade that average health was a bit lower? Well... not entirely surprisingly so was tank health. See... I still found this old screenshot from Karazhan. Standing in Netherspites red beam lead to a rather impressive increase in health - and you kept aggro, no matter what as well. Easy tanking times. At the time I had used Last Stand just to take a screenshot of my impressive health.

Now in ICC we made our druid do the same. On the pathway from Lady Death-thingy to a gunnery station of extra-fun! When the friendly alliance troops drop a banner that increases total health of all nearby ... well... friendlies, I suppose. The thing to stare at here is our druids health. Almost six digits - I'm sure we can boost him over that by next week.

Back to the fun we had - albeit inadvertedly. I think the Lich King is secretly listening to our conversation. Here, he clearly felt it neccessary to speak up. I suppose the raid chat in Icecrown Citadel is a lot like trade chat for him.

And lastly (enough of the random screenshots soon - promise!) we noted that the developers still have not lost their naming humour.

We were just debating what had killed us after a wipe on trash. First time we progressed past the three princes in the Crimson Halls. We usually bring along Calelad to die for us. He used to have has a tendency to die more often than the rest of us. Didn't work this time. What got us in the end was the healer getting Lich Slapped.

Oh comeon... it amused me.

Ahem. And this ends random screenshot moment for this week. Back to the usual program of cunningly thought out raid tactics and moneymaking guides. Best aquired by following someone else.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The one that took a while, didn't it?

Well… the reports of my death are highly exaggerated. Or rather, not so much, as I died a lot lately – but that is not what I meant and you know it.

I should probably fall in line with all the other bloggers out there and pretend that I am slowing down, going to do something different and stopped playing WoW – but what I actually did was start several new projects. New things that are quite fun doing (most of the time) and require more time than I first thought.

Part one, obviously, is still playing my main. Koch is going raiding and is still working on his 100 mounts. Except – I cannot be bothered to do the argent tournament dailies at the moment, even though that would only be 30 more days and it would finish off the 100 nicely. I do try and pop over to the Brunhildar village every day, hoping against hope to find a shiny polar bear in a little cloth bag, instead of a few snowballs, some rancid Jedi-cheese or some water.

There is also still Zul Gurub. A fine area in the north of Stranglethorn and part of the complimentary troll instance that is due every expansion (you know .. like Zul “vanilla” and Zul Aman in “The Burning Crusade” and Zul Frost in “Wrath of the Lich King”. Oh wait… I was not supposed to give out secrets about the expansion of patch Forget I said anything). In theory both the raptor boss and the tiger boss are the proud owners of a rare mount. If they had only learnt that handing it over would mean an end to the senseless murder of their friends and countrymen I would already have moved on. As it is… we are currently at a quote of 48 to none against me.

And there is raiding. We’re still playing Icecrown Citadel every Wednesday and it forms the highlight of my week. You know… I actually enjoy raiding on my little tanky-boi. Of course … I have to admit that I do not quite like ICC as much as I liked Ulduar – and I think I would like to go back one of these days and just trundle around in it and see what happens. Kill Yoggy one of these days? Yeah… I’d really like that.

Part two, not so obviously, was playing my second favourite tank – my little druid. She’s coming along nicely now, raiding in ICC every second week and we’ve finally managed to kill Saurfang on an “Alt Raid”. Which was good. Except – I got to raid as dps … and I can’t say I like it.

Now this requires a bit more explanation, I think. I can appreciate that every class is basically a dps class until you get to the endgame (several footnotes and explanations are in order, but bear with me and wait for Part four). Playing a druid as a dps class does not appeal to me very much – this is partly due to the rather complicated sequence of bleeds, the energy mechanic of rogues and kitty-cats that I don’t particularly enjoy and so on and so forth. There are always moments when this is just cool, though. I do run add-ons that notify me of new high scores for damaging attacks and blowing something up in two goes just has a certain satisfying crunch to it as well (wait for part three, if you could).

In the endgame I pretty much switched all my characters to a tanking main-spec and a dps off-spec at best. The bear has its own strengths and weaknesses (interrupting frostbolt on Lady Deathwhisper, says you? Ha, says I!) and of course so do the paladin and the deathknight and the warrior. Of the three, the dps off-spec of the cat is the most complicated for me, though. Several bleeds and self-buffs to juggle, a consistent energy regeneration struggle and no AoE abilities worth mentioning. If only the spec made up for this complexity by insane dps or super-high numbers on every third rotational pass. But sadly no … it’s just a steady ticking of damaging bleeds, slowly draining the life out of your enemy. I don’t like it very much.

Worse – when I got to raid ICC yesterday it was also quite horribly boring. On Marrowgar I had to move from fires on the ground and otherwise tried to optimize my “rotation” – picking up after each bonestorm. On Lady Deathwhisper I had the pleasure of staying on the boss, first bringing down the mana-shield, then beating up the boss herself. It is the best role for me – as continuous target changing would make my dps even less impressive, but it basically meant I stood still and tried to optimize my rotation. On the gunship battle I got to use a cannon – which still amuses me, but then sadly had the same annoyance on Saurfang again. Stand in one location, don’t bother switching targets to the blood beasts and generally try not to mess up my rotation. That’s it.

No juggling threat, no watching for debuffs on the off-tank, no pre-emptively using cooldowns when the healers had to deal with more trouble, no stunning bloodbeasts, no keeping an eye on the threat meter, no spamming heroic strike when rage is above a certain value, falling back to a more simple sequence of events below. It was just “meh” compared to the thrill of tanking.

I don’t know… I’ll try it again, of course, and maybe next time with a different class, to see if smashing hits with a big axe make everything more interesting – but dps-ing was not really for me.

Disclaimer: I had a lot of fun during the raid – but that came from chat and teamspeak, not the engaging game-design as such.

Part three has taken the most time out of my schedule lately. And I admit I started doing it all because of big numbers and DPS. Which ... err… does not sound all that clever after part two, but Booyaah! playing a mage is completely different.

See… I started a new alt. Had a bit of room still, so there is now a spacegoat mage-girl running around Azeroth, decked out in heirlooms with a mad glint in her eye and a pyroblast at the ready. And it’s fun!

I mean … if I don’t miss the pyroblast. I get to blow stuff up – with fire – and then with more fire! None of that wussy slowing and snaring and freezing and things – a hot girl has to use hot spells!

She is currently burning down the forest in Stranglethorn – an old favourite quest area of mine for the sheer killability of it all. Kill things, kill their daddies, kill their mommies and then their elder brothers who joined the army. With fire! It’s brilliant.

Now I admittedly am not very good at this “being a squishy in a sissy robe” yet, but I’m working on it – and enjoying it. And it seems I’m not alone. A lot of people seem to have abandoned their “mains” lately, going back to more relaxed playing times or more alts and such. The auction house is dealing in twink items again – a market that was almost dead for a while after ICC came out. There are frogs that need to be sold, and  patterned bronze bracers and blue pearls.

Well and then there was project four. I stumbled across Pugging Pally a while ago. At first I thought there was a masochist at work. Then I played on for a bit without giving it much thought. Then I still thought there was a masochist at work, but I considered giving it a go. And of course I ended up doing the exactly same thing – don’t tell me you expected anything else after the long-winded introduction.

So I rolled a healer. A paladin healer, in fact, because I think it is the most durable and aggressive healer class I can currently think of. I mean… you actually get to rush in and judge light on your groups target – and when you’re there you might as well plop down a consecration. And you get to wear plate – which is nice, because I have all those plate heirlooms already. Okay… they are useless heirlooms for a healer and I should buy the mail stuff, but I refuse. I will not be a dress-wearing paladin. Hmm. I actually did put on all those cloth items with intellect on and such, but the point still stands – I am a mighty paladin and I will not wear shoulders or chest armour that is not plate and gives +10% experience. Or rather… I would if I could afford the mail ones, but I can’t so I won’t.

There… that summed it up nicely.

So anyway… I had to level the poor little thing to level 15 traditionally – swinging a big enchanted hammer at everything that looked at me funny – in the name of healing and the light. Which worked fine.

Then I got to level 15 and got to join my first instance group. Not entirely surprisingly it turned out to be Ragefire Chasm – and it was with a great tank and decent dps and a pleasant cruise through the whole thing – except sometimes a tad nerve-wracking because I really have no idea how to heal and the tank pulled appropriately large groups to generate enough rage. Clever man orc – but boy that was scary. Almost nearly got all the way to level 16 as well. And I’m still going strong. I will learn how to heal. I seriously want to. It’s an entirely scary business (and I may possibly have tanked one or two mobs by pulling healing aggro and then just continuously healing myself instead of doing the sensible thing and run to the tank screaming) but I shall not be defeated!

Soon…. Soon I will be level 16 and then the good stuff starts. Err… or so I hope.

This healing addons (I downloaded healbot, because I could remember someone mentioning it – it’s not simple and I’m not sure I like it) are a weird business as well. But we shall see. It’s all under control. So far.

Beats grovelling at those blue girls for a bear anyway.