Sunday, 31 October 2010

Scholomance. We did it.

Both my lovely wife and I are approaching level 60 on a new set of alts at the moment. She plays a mighty arms warrior, I'm fiddling around with my rogue.

So since we got to level 57 we are queuing up for the late Old World instances. Scholomance was our desire in particular.

We did the sensible thing and picked up a few quests and then started the queue. I mean - we were aware that this might take a while.

And it took a bit. I grabbed the first screenshot ... oh... see for yourself:

Nothing surprising there. We found the third DPS after almost an hour and only the tank/healer team were missing.

Ah well - time to do some quests.

Not that much later, a healer showed up. Excellent, said I. What could possibly happen. Someone is bound to trundle along in a tank spec soonish. I mean .. Tamarind did a few post specifically about how enjoyable the late Old World instances are.

Sadly, one of the DPS (and it wasn't Issy or me) had to leave a minute later. Maybe he had to go to the toilet. Or to bed. Or the timezone caught up with him. Or something.

And not too long after, our healer followed.


Back to were we were. About an hour ago. Or 20 minutes, depending on which screenshot you keep an eye on.

But to be fair - it wasn't all like that. The following is the last screenshot I got before we had a full group:

Shortly after that - group complete.

An hour and fourty minutes. I'm just glad I was leveling on the side and not standing around Stormwind, admiring the scenery. Hell... I might have died from old age, or met lil' Timmy or something.

As it turned out, the group was not exactly favoured by the gods, though. I mean... we had the best rogue and an incredible arms warrior and the healer was totally ace. But ...

Well. There was a warlock who liked to stand behind the enemy. I hope this was because he played a melee DPS class before, otherwise the only reason would have been so he could pull more.

Not entirely weird, just not perfect. The tank was from another planet, though. His initial pull consisted of jumping off the balcony into the library of Scholomance and engage the group in the middle at the back. Remember the abilities of those mobs? Yeah, the necrolytes like to use their Arcane Blast. A shiny knockback. There was a reason you pulled those groups carefully.

First wipe commenced after roughly three minutes inside the instance.

So we started with the "You know, if you've not done this before, it's perfectly okay. We have once or twice, though, and we're glad to offer some assistance" spiel. It lasted two pulls (along the wall), then he again charged a group in the middle.

Wipe number two.

But at least we had mostly cleared the library. And even read a few books. And got one of the Deeds.

So I (maybe stupidly) said: "You know, the next room is going to kill us messily if we just charge in. Let me quickly point out why when we get there." And we walked up to the room with the 6 groups with summoners. And I (definitely stupidly) marked up one of the summoners with a skull and then proceeded to type.

And I typed too slow. By the time I had said "Those guys summon adds, so we need to silence them and pull them back" our bear had already charged in the middle.

And ignored the patrol.

And pulled two more groups.


We tried for a bit more. We offered advice (both of us), we marked mobs that needed to die fast - and then proceeded to kill them without a tank. I think he wiped us once more in the room before the dragons (by charging a group diagonally across it *boggles*).

When we told him to please pull the hatchlings outside the room for us to kill his response (I kid not - I wish I was) was "I am the tank, I decide where to go and how to pull".

It wasn't even one of us who initiated the vote-kick right after he had said "Kick me then". It passed without a hitch, though.

Now, I don't like beating on new tanks. However, if tanks don't come with built in situational awareness, I expect them to listen to advice. Not just charge off. And certainly not charge off like it was a Northrend Heroic, where he probably learnt his "skills". That was just horrid.

So .. err.. we requeued.

And while we were waiting we decided to continue on a bit. We had a warrior in our group, after all. Cute one, too. She didn't have a tanking spec. She didn't have a one-handed weapon. She had, however, done her quests and got defensive stance. So we gave her a shield we had found (grey quality, but hey - it allowed shieldslams) and a sharpened stick.

And sent her off.

And our healer showed her true quality. She managed to keep Issie alive. Through odd pulls (Oh look: you got Rattlegore and one of his constructs) and strange situations (Hmm.. I think someone just mindcontrolled our healer). Mostly.

We did die occasionally. But hey ... the queue for more was not exactly filling with enthusiastic fans.

This is the second queue window. On top of our 1 hour 40 minutes before the start, it took us 1 hour 20 minutes with no one willing to fill up the remaining spots.

A bit longer than that, actually. I think the total time from first queueing to the end of the instance was a little more than four hours.

But we all learnt new things: our healer now knows that Entangling Roots only works on one target at a time (we wiped twice for that - Lord Alexei Barov and his two minions hit hard). Our little warrior has enjoyed tanking enough to actually get a tank spec - and learnt about millions of tank abilities she never used (like revenge and shield block and intimidating shout). And me? While I am usually perfect in every which way, I had to learn lots and lots of things about rogues.

When to use sprint, when not to use sprint (hint: overshooting your target is not good), what feint is for (might come in handy), that blind works on teammembers-who-are-mindcontrolled, that bombs might stun unstable corpses, but might also blow up many of them at once, etc. etc...

We did it, though. Only three of us, but it was a greater achievement in the end this way. What can I say, though - I'm glad I'm level 58 now and can go to the outlands. I don't want to do these instances with random people again. If was great fun with three, though.

Now where had I heard that before? ...

Battlegrounds are FUBAR

Now I know I'm not a battleground person. Or rather - I don't enjoy loosing due to reasons beyond my control (and in battlegrounds there are many - ranging from 9 in WSG to 39 in AV).

However, there is a reason for doing rather a lot of them lately - namely the over 9k achievement. I'm quite close now and the only two departments seriously lacking are PvP (not surprisingly) and 25-man raids before ICC (also not surprising).

None of those are solo-able. And while I wouldn't mind getting the last rares for Bloody Rare and Northern Exposure, those take more time than is sensible either. So PvP it is. I can queue up all solo and then try and get things done. Many of the achievements are actually conductive to playing - use seaforium charges, kill flag carriers, etc etc.

Not all of them, obviously ... but that is beside the point.

The things that annoy me at the moment:

- I cannot get reconition for a battleground if I'm not on the scoreboard. That basically means any battleground that I was not there from the start for. If my name is on the scoreboard it's worth staying - otherwise I might just as well try and get out. Even with the deserter debuff... 15 minutes of waiting over a pointless 18 minute Warsong Gulch means I actually benefit from /afk-ing.

This has bitten me in the ass a few times this weekend - it's WSG Call to Arms - the only one I'm missing for my Call to Arms achievement - and I didn't get it even after we won.

There is a "solution": using /afk after dying (and while dead - should I mention this?) does not result in a deserter debuff. It does, however, mean the next person in has the same bloody problem. Not something I enjoy.

- Random disconnects: Occasionally I disconnect, recieve a deserter debuff and then log back in somewhere else. Nice. I suppose this way my team gets a replacement sooner, but see pet peeve no. 1.

- Achievements are not working. There, I said it (again). I'm doing this not so much for the fun, more for the achievements. I hate it when they do not properly work.

There. I just returned the bloody flag twice! In the space of 16 seconds! How come the achievement tracker pretends I just got one?


Fix this rubbish.

See? I did play a battleground. My adrenaline is still pumping and I am actually angry at things. Rare, that.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Vengeance - all the new Rage!

Oh my, I am so proud of that title. Notice how I managed to sneak my guild name in there and let it sound like an advertisement at the same time? Yeah, I'm that impressive...


Todays topic is the new talent called "Vengeance" (not the guild) and in a very broad sense "what tanks would like non-tanks to know about it". This post was mostly inspired by Uncrittables post - which suddenly explained a lot of things about my threat management. Well worth the read if you want more pertinent information. From my side: just the quick summary.

All the tanks got it with patch 4.0.1 and it looks something like this:

Basically: As long as the tank is taking loads of damage, they are going to deal more damage. Quite a lot more damage. "Normal" tank attack power is still nothing very impressive, but with a full stack of this, damage will be through the roof.

That is a good thing, as most high-threat moves these days are based on attack power - with the possible exception of Consecrate for paladins.

Remember all those moans and complains when patch 4.0.1 came out first about tanks not able to hold threat? This is part of the problem. The other part is impatient DPS - which might be an old trend with roughly 21.000 results on a search for the year 2007 alone.

The mechanic is nothing entirely new - although paladins and deathknights won't know it as such. This is basically exactly the same rage did before. If your tank is getting hit lots, they manage to dish out lots of threat and hold the enemy just where you want them. If your DPS managed to pull aggro on the initial pull it's going to be a floudering catching up race of madness (93k results - people seem to do that a lot).

Examples? Some fights have actually got easier to hold aggro on. I know I used to struggle on Sindragosa before the patch - our dps were generally catching up very quick. I had to use intervene on every air phase just to bring some semblance of stability to the whole fight and still our top people had to use their threat-dropping-moves. No longer the case. Sindragosa now happily tears holes into my armour and blasts me with frosty fire. My vengeance stacks tic up and my shield slams would bring a smile even to a DPS players face. Threat output increases so much that it doesn't even matter that Chilled to the Bone stacks faster with the new heroic strike mechanic.

And on the other side?

Try charging into a pack of relatively low level trash in a 5-man instance. Ideally, I'd try to thunderclap, cleave, shieldslam one, thunderclap again and then use shockwave to make sure I get a nice threat lead.

Any of you think this path has worked ever? Even once?

I might have some bad news for you then - on at least two topics.

Now as I see the first snow from Blizzard and the first lightning from Hurricane strike after my initial charge my options are limited. Thunderclap, Shockwave right away to stun those things from trying to beat up my dps. This not only gives me a rather low threat to start with, it also makes sure those same mobs don't hit me (because they are stunned - Note to self: This is also a bad time to use Shield Block). Vengeance does not stack up rapidly, my following cleavage looks more like this:

rather than this:

All hell breaks loose and things run all over the place and start beating up the DPS. Will you stop looking already? There is a rather important topic on here.

I'll try a summary - and maybe, if you are very good there will be a reward image at the end of it.


Vengeance is your tanks new ability to stay ahead on threat. To use this to it's fulle extend the tanks need to take damage from all mobs they have pulled. The ramp-up time is roughly 6 seconds in current content. This means all DPS need to wait until they have counted to  6  10  20  30 (I know how DPS count!) before starting with the massive damage dealing. If you wait patiently, you can then see large numbers bounce across your screen (eyes down here, damnit!).

Wait before shooting!

Gratituitious picture here (SFW).

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Fury DPS in patch 4.0.1

After a bit of fiddling around with my off-spec, I thought I'd throw in my two gold coins on doing damage.

Basically my testing went something like:

Pick spec.
Go to dummy.
Do 2800 DPS single target.

Regem and Reforge to the best of my knowledge.
Go to dummy.
Do 3200 DPS single target.

Throw arms and legs into the air and wail about life being unfair, russians conquering the moon and the sky falling down.


Go to bed.

Then on the next day, our guilds top fury warriors shared his wisdom, and I - being not above stealing anything - went and tested that.

The spec was alright. Basically, pick anything that hurts people. I'm using something close to this, but skipped the points in Skirmisher for one point each in Blood Craze and Piercing Howl. 2 and 3 in Arms and Protection are exchangable as well. I went for more steady damage over a weird proc mechanism.

I then reforged again. My gear had not enough hit, a little too much expertise, too much crit and some haste.

The ideal setup at this time apparently is: Hit (up to 8% cap) > Expertise (up to 26) > Strength > Hit (up to 27% - the offhand cap) > Haste > Crit.

Replace all the shiny +crit gems your Armour Penetration was turned into with +strength. How costly can it be. Then check hit and expertise. Likely you'll want to reforge a lot of your crit into additional +hit. Leave the haste alone, if you still have crit left un-reforged get more haste.

The thoughts? Hit as often as you can to generate lots of rage. Use the rage to power your attacks.

And the order of attacks?

Above 35%: Heroic Strike >> Bloodthirst > Raging Blow > Sunder Armour >> anything else.
Below 35%: Execute. That's it. Don't weave in anything - execute more.

The >> is supposed to indicate a "much better". You'll need to change from "I must not ragestarve myself with heroic strikes" to "I must not ragestarve myself out of heroic strikes".

Oh and .. Slam? I really haven't found a time in battle yet where it would ever be useful. Use Bloodthirst instead. Or Sunder. Don't forget to Shout and Berserker Rage (Glyphed) as often as you can to gain more rage.

What did it do in my gear? Remember the numbers above? Up to roughly 7400 DPS now (single target). Thats not worse than before the patch - I can live with it.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Patch 4.01 or whatever it's called

Time to surface briefly and see what has happened during patch day.

Firstly - ammunition is properly gone, all weapon skills are known by default (and at max level for your level) and the guild is still a naughty place. I think it was better before - it seems to have massively degenerated since someone joined.

Moving right on. As predicted a lot of people logged in. Many of them had to redo their specs and regem and reforge to change all their previously-shiny-armour-penetration into something more useful. Apparently glyph makers have been making a killing.

(Image taken from here)

I was not prepared. I had about 100 inks in my bags and it was not enough. I had stocked up on gemstones, though (and transmuted all my old currencies into them), so the money making was not completely pointless. After the initial sugar rush it has calmed down a lot by now, though. Gem prices are still slightly elevated over the pre-4.01 prices, but they are not at twice the amount any more.

On that note: Why get a spec right on the first try. You can always unlearn and relearn. Except the prices are a bit odd at the moment.

A few bugs still remain in the patch, obviously. I'm not even talking about the amusing ones, like the extremely-ultra-slow-ghost-griffon in Icecrown (try dying - really - it's great!) or the random group kicks for raid members ("You are not part of this instance and will be teleported to the graveyard" - but I'm in the group! Right now! here with all my friends!). Above is shown an image of the newly "built in" gearscore addon. Which seems to think that my average gear score of the best gear is 279. Why's that funny?

Well... currently the highest item level for all item slots _except_ for the weapon is 277. Sure, if I were decked out completely in ICC25-heroic gear and had a Shadowmourne in my hand this might be accurate. Sadly - this is not the case. But hey.. it might free up a few more instances. The first one I queued for was a heroic Violet Hold - I'm sure it required the gear.

Now.. on to something a bit more sobering.

Do I like the new patch?

Well... I was quite happy yesterday - it looked like most things actually worked (apart from the above, but allegedly a new patch is already inbound) and the specs were quite fun to build. As my DPS skills are a bit dubious at best, I thought I'd fall back on a classic. Adjusted my fury spec, walked up to a target dummy and started hitting it. Shiny things popped up all around my, great big sparkles appeared on my quickbar and when I stepped away and opened my recount I was greated by a massive 921 dps.

So I checked again - nope - not a digit missing.

Ah.. tank gear. Okay... my bad.

Switched gear, tried again. Upgraded my DPS on a single target to 2800. Hmm.

Okay, no glyphs - changed that and tried again and got up to 3200.

This is not what the other players were reporting. Our warlock was just pulling off 14k, our paladins were bouncing around the 8k marks. I seriously think that my gear needs a lot of reworking before I'll even dare to queue as DPS again.

Oh yes - in the Elitist Jerks link above is also apparently listed that my DPS is considered too low.

And what about tanking?

I ... don't know any more. At the moment it feels broken and utterly utterly boring to me. Warrior tanking used to be brilliant with zipping all over the place, using abilities based on a priority system and interweaving all the damage reduction talents you could without loosing threat (demo shout and thunderclap, basically). Sure.. my hand hurt after a while of permanently hitting heroic strike, but it gave me something to do.


Heroic strike is not affected by weapon speed any more, so a slower tanking weapon would be better for more devastate damage. Heroic strike also has a 3 second cooldown - so even when I have unlimited rage I can not perma-queue it any more. That supposedly eases my hand-cramps but at the moment just means I'm clicking an empty button. It also apparently doesn't do "a large amount of threat" any more, which helps dps warriors but leaves me wanting.

Anything else annoying? Oh yes - vigilance just reduces the damage the target takes and refreshes taunt. It does no longer grant threat from the recipient to the warrior - and I really really wish I could take some threat off the magic dps classes in our raids.

My tanking has slowed down to three buttons. Devastate, Revenge (when available), Shield Slam (when available). There is nothing else to do. The interface doesn't seem to like fast hitting any more either (sometimes skipping skill-uses when I try to do so), so I end up pushing one button every 1.5 seconds.

I am bored out of my mind. This is not what tanking was about. At the same time I see the threat of our DPS soar past me (they benefit from heroism - I do not. Not a bit. Not in the slightest) and there is nothing I can do about it.

I'm feeling right bitter and grumpy about it at the moment. At this rate I'll try an arms spec tomorrow - just to see if it'll make me feel better about chopping stuff down.


And just so I don't leave completely without any useful hints:

1) Vigilance should go on the other tank in a raid. They'll appreciate the 3% less damage and it'll refresh taunt a lot when they are also getting beaten up.

2) Using Berserker Rage at every opportunity gives extra rage. At least then the old-fashioned perma-use of heroic strike won't hurt. With enough healers it's entirely possible to not use any damage reduction abilities at all (no demo, no thunderclap) to increase rage gain a little.

3) Battle Shout and Commanding Shout grant rage. They are the replacement to the previous