Archive for October, 2008

31
Oct
08

What is a guild?

Tobold made a post today about the definition of a guild as it pertains to raiding. It puts nicely into words something that I have been trying to explain to my guildies for a while.

From Tobold’s blog..

A guild is a group of online friends who decided they want to play together. A raid is an opportunity for a larger number of guild members to play together, with the purpose of maximum fun, enabling a maximum number of them to advance their characters.

This is the reason that my guild has been in existence since 2006. Friends first, raiding second.

30
Oct
08

Then and Now

Two years ago we were anticipating the release of the Burning Crusade.  As it turns out, it would not actually be released until January.  The pre-expansion patch came out in early December.

As I remember it, there was not nearly as much BC information then as there is WotLK info now.  People were playing in beta, and information about BC came from that.  But today there is so much coverage of the WotLK beta that I feel like I have already seen the whole thing.  Maybe I am just paying more attention now.

Both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King brought a host of mechanics changes, from small tweaks to major overhauls.  Some classes got buffed, then later nerfed, others get nerfed then later buffed.

New Zones

Back then, BC introduced a vast new continent called Outland and a huge neutral capital city – Shattrath.

Today, WotLK is giving us another new continent in Northrend and a new neutral city – Dalaran.

Level cap

Back then, the idea of raising the level cap was great.  A lot of players had been stuck at 60 for a while and looked forward to leveling again.

Today, that is perhaps the least interesting part of the expansion.  Yes, we will get to level, but that has become an expected part of any new expansion.  The reason people are excited to level is just to get at the new talents and abilities.

New classes/races

Back then, the big deal about BC was the addition of two new races – Draenei and Blood Elves.  While the expansion did not add any new classes, the Blood Elves were able to be paladins and the Draenei could be shamans.  Before that, all shamans were horde and all paladins were alliance.

Today, rather than adding new races, Wrath is giving us a new class – Death Knights.  In addition, that class is starting at level 55, avoiding the leveling hurdle.

Raiding

Back then, the BC expansion completely changed raiding.  Endgame raids went from 40-man to 25-man.  BC was a “guild-killer” as guilds with a solid core of 40+ raiders had to pare their rosters down for the new system.

Today, WotLK is changing raiding yet again.  Endgame raids will have 10 and 25 man versions to make it accessible to more players.  Because of the different options, most guilds should be able to adapt to this easily.

PvP

Back then, the PvP system had already gone through a number of changes, and at the time BC arrived it basically revolved around battlegrounds.  Burning Crusade introduced the Arena system.  It also added a new battleground – EotS.  In addition, the new Outland zones had world PvP objectives, such as Halaa and the towers in the Bone Wastes.

Today, WotLK is adding another new battleground and new arenas.  It is also introducing an entire PvP zone in Lake Wintergrasp with unique mechanics and rewards.

Professions

Back then, BC introduced Jewelcrafting as a new profession.  It went with mining and had Prospecting as a skill that went along with it.

Today, WotLK is giving us Inscription as a new profession, going hand-in-hand with herbalism.  Milling is a part of that profession as well.

Me

Back then, I was a fresh level 60 when the pre-BC patch hit.  I had never run anything higher than UBRS.  I was a member of The Dragons, a casual guild that never quite got around to raiding.  I had almost completely blue gear, since most epics came from endgame raiding.  I went into the expansion expecting more of the same, and was pleasantly surprised when I was able to progress and raid and run more than I ever had in vanilla WoW.

Today I am the Guild Leader of The Dragons.  By the time WotLK hits I will have been in every raid instance except Sunwell.  I am completely decked out in epics, which are easily available through PvP, the very accessible introductory raid (Kara), crafting, and heroic badge rewards.  I have high aspirations about level 80 endgame raiding and seeing content sooner rather than later.

As you can see, in WoW the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Much of what we are getting mirrors what we got in BC, but Blizzard has improved and refined their product.  With eleven million subscribers, they must be doing something right so there is no need to make sweeping changes.  We obviously enjoy the game, so they will give us more of what we like.  Whether you are a raider, solo player, dedicated crafter, or PvPer there is something for you in the expansion (which is two weeks from today).

27
Oct
08

Zombie Invasion

Let me say right up front that I like the current world event.  Others do not.  To each their own.

I guess I can sympathize with some of the people complaining about the zombie invasion.  Its a minor inconvenience at times.  However, from a story perspective I really like it.  It feels like something real is happening and progressing as we watch, which is different than the static, unchanging WoW world we usually play it.  I am on a PvE server, so all of this fighting may be problematic for some, but I am enjoying it.

One inconvenience is when a flight master, quest mob, or auctioneer is dead.  Then we have to wait a few minutes for them to respawn (about two minutes, I think).  Not a big deal, really, in the grand scheme of things.

A bigger inconvenience is to get infected yourself.  That involves a corpse run, which can be annoying. Still, not a game-breaker.

Yes, its worse when you are low level.  I understand that.

My one and only problem with this entire thing it the repair bill.  Turning into a zombie is essentially forced pvp.  I don’t get repair bills from other forms of pvp, so why do I get them from this one?  Every time I get turned into a zombie I get a 4g repair bill.  Not cool.

Here’s how I deal with it…

Do things that keep you outside of the cities – As I have been running around leveling an alt, doing achievements, or farming mats for raid consumables, I have made every effort to stay out of the cities.  For the times I do need to go back (to train, or sell stuff) I’m only there for a short time.

Keep flying – if you have a flying mount, stay in the air at all times.  Log off in the air, too.

Go to out-of-the-way places – I’ve started using the mailbox on top of Scryer’s Tier rather than the one in the Shattrath bank.  There are rarely zombies up there.  I’ve been using the auction house and bank in Exodar.  Their zombie population has been much lower than SW or IF (although there are still some there).

Be patient – If the flight master or quest NPC is dead, just walk away.  Fly up in the air (if in Outland) or go hide in an out-of-the-way spot somewhere (if in Azeroth) and step away from the computer for a couple of minutes.  Get yourself a drink or a snack.  Zombies seem to come in waves.  When the current wave is gone, you should have time to do what you need to do after the NPCs respawn.

My level 1 bank toon in Ironforge has only been zombified one time.  He has had time to do full Auctioneer scans without being interrupted.  Between playing on my three toons I have only turned into a zombie three times total.  So it can’t be as bad as people are making it out to be, if you adjust your play style a bit to adapt to the current situation.

I am looking forward to the next steps in the progression of the event.  Things are always darkest before the dawn…

27
Oct
08

Don’t hold back – raid high end content now!

If you are not sure what to raid between now and WotLK – aim high. Imagine the highest level raid you think your guild could do, and then go to the next hardest one after that.

Two weeks ago our guild tried SSC and blew through it like it was a joke. We didn’t have time to get to Leotheras or Vashj, but nothing before them had been anything resembling a challenge. The buffing of class damage, tanking and healing combined with the nerfing of raid bosses has been a big hit for us.

This week, our officers and members figured that we would go into SSC again to clear it, or maybe try TK. I had a different plan. SSC was so easy it wasn’t even worth doing, in my opinion.

“We’re going to Mt Hyjal this week,” I said.

Then the whispers started.

One experienced raider whispered me that Hyjal was too big a step up, and then we really needed SSC/TK gear to do it.

Another experienced raider told me that I was biting off more than we could chew, and that running through SSC would be better for guild morale than wiping in Hyjal.

Bah! SSC was so easy it was boring. And with the expansion only weeks away, the goal now is not really to progress, but to see content that we may never get to see in the future.

So into Hyjal we went. Yes, it was challenging. That’s good, it wasn’t boring. The trash waves were fun (more fun for warlocks than rogues, but whatever). The bosses were interesting with new fight mechanics to learn.

How did we do?

Three bosses down. That’s right – our first time in, and we one-shotted Rage Winterchill, took a few tries to get down Anetheron, and then one-shotted Kaz’rogal. We had a few tries at Azgolar but had trouble figuring out the best way to do it with our raid make up. We could have gotten him, too, if we had more time.

Our guild jumped from T4 content to T6 content in two weeks. I have every intention of running Black Temple as well before the expansion. We may not reach Archimonde or Illidan, but we are getting to experience stuff that we had not dreamed of a few weeks ago.

Thanks, Blizzard.

And to any guild leaders out there – aim high. You would be amazed what you can do between now and November 13th.

P.S. – Zul’aman is also easy now. Before the patch, we had never gotten more than two timed chests or killed Malacrass. This weekend we got all four chests and cleared the whole instance.

24
Oct
08

I’m a Good Luck Charm

I finally got around to doing some of the holiday events last night. I hadn’t tried the Headless Horseman yet this year. A group of us rode up to Scarlet Monastery and took him down five times in short order.

In those five kills, we got the the Magic Broom, the Sinister Squashling pet, and the Horseman’s Reins! Lucky us!

I got the Magic Broom out of it. I’m disappointed that it only lasts 14 days… I thought they were changing that this time around.

22
Oct
08

Achievements – making us do stuff we normally wouldn’t

First I want to say that I don’t feel driven to get all of the achievements. Someone will read the title of this post and say, “well just don’t do them” and that person would be correct. In most cases I am not doing them. But there are a few that intrigue me because they are related to things I do anyway, like fishing and questing and raiding.

Last night my wife and I set out to run around and do some of the exploration achievements. We spent three hours in Kalimdor.

The good:

  • I got to see some areas of Azeroth I may never have seen otherwise, because it is a horde area or because I just skipped it while leveling. Orgrimmar, Durotar, parts of Stonetalon Mountains, etc…
  • It was a break from leveling my alt, which is what I would have been doing otherwise.
  • It was a nostalgia trip, as we ran through Azuremyst Isle saying, “I remember this place” and “These were fun quests.”

I had a fun sneaking into Orgrimmar to catch a fish there. I was lucky… I got there just as someone without stealth was trying to do the same thing. So that person got naked, mounted up, and ran through the entrance, dragging all of the guards with him. With the guards gone, I just stealthed right in, no problems. Made my way to the Valley of Spirits. Came out of stealth behind a pole, caught a fish, then stealthed out. Got spotted by a guard on the bridge and jumped into the river.

The bad:

  • Running on a ground mount is a chore when you are used to an epic flyer.
  • Its frustrating when you have one spot in a zone left undiscovered and you can’t find it. (Tel’athian’s Camp on Bloodmyst Isle took us forever to find)
  • Some of the old world content is just… bad.

When I say that some old world content is bad, I cite as evidence Wailing Caverns.

We looked at the achievement and it said we had to kill one boss. So we ran in there figuring we could knock that out in a few minutes. I had completely forgotten that you had to kill four other bosses before he would spawn.

That instance is a nightmare. Worst instance ever, in my opinion. It took a group of three level 70 toons an hour to finish it. Why? Because its impossible to navigate. The tunnels curve above and below each other. You can’t find anything. You get lost, and find yourself running past the same mobs over and over. Even a map add-on doesn’t help because of the criss-crossing of the tunnels.

I wanted to give up and hearth out after forty minutes. But by that time I was firmly in the grip of “I’ve invested this much time, it would be silly to stop now” thinking.

After last night I don’t feel a driving need to continue the exploration achievements. But I probably will. Because one thing in WoW that always draws you in is the “I’m half done so I might as well finish” rationale. Besides, it gives me something to do as a change of pace or when I am too distracted to run an instance.

21
Oct
08

Rogues and damage meters, post patch 3.0.2

Almost every rogue I know has a love affair with damage meters. It goes with the fact that our one and only job is to do damage, so we had better be good at it. For me, if there is a run where I did not top the meters, then I feel like I didn’t perform at my best. I don’t post damage meters in chat – that’s e-peening at its worst. I don’t brag about my dps… damage is what I am supposed to do, so there is nothing to brag about. I use the damage meter as a check that I am doing my job.  (I use Recount for all the great graphs it provides)

The good news for rogues… in this post-patch world your damage meter totals should be beyond your wildest pre-patch imaginings.

The bad… so will everyone else’s, and maybe beyond yours.

For the next few weeks, I and a lot of rogues might be a little uncomfortable looking at our meters. Its not that the classes have all been buffed (although they have), but the fact that the way the game is played has changed, at least until November 13.

Since every tank can now do AoE threat and hold aggro on multiple mobs, raid mobs don’t hit as hard, and every healer can push through scads of healing, every pull can now be an AoE pull. In my three raids and two instances this weekend, we used almost zero crowd control. Ever. Almost every trash pull was a gather-em-up-and-nuke-em-down exercise.

That means that balance druids are in boomkin-heaven right now. Hurricane with no cooldown? Let ‘er rip. Warlocks, mages… their damage is going to be through the roof on group trash pulls.

Also, mobs are dying really, really fast. Rogues need a little time to build combo points and get into a rotation. There is little opportunity for that right now. So burst damage classes will excel on single-target trash pulls.

In our SSC run, our balance druid was posting the Recount charts in raid chat after almost every pull, until we asked him to stop. I understand that he was excited to be putting out such ridiculous damage totals. He had never been close to the top of the meters before. It didn’t bother me. I was happy for him.

Wait, who am I trying to kid? Of course it bothered me. I still have my own personal standard of performance, and I had to strive to meet it. At first I was a little frustrated with the hectic play style. Eventually I became numb to it. It was obvious that I could not keep up on most trash pulls.

Fortunately, we rogues can (and should) still be at the top on single-target boss fights. At the end of the SSC run I was the top damage overall, mostly because I nearly doubled the moonkin’s damage on the Tidewalker fight.

I expect that this should level off after the expansion. The instance mobs should hit harder in Northrend (I hope) and AoE tanking should not be the norm. If it is, then we rogues may have to get used to a new world order in damage charts.

19
Oct
08

OK, now this is just crazy.

How much have classes been buffed in the new patch? Stories abound all over the internet. Here’s my first-hand account.

On Saturday my guild went into Serpentshrine Cavern. We had tried that before, making attempts on Hydross and Lurker. We were not successful on either.

So keep in mind that not a single person in the raid had any T5 gear or T5 experience. Yes, we have some badge gear. But still- we were squarely a T4 group before the patch. On top of that, we had only 5 healers with us in the SSC run.

We went in and cleared to Hydross without event. We pulled Hydross and went to work. If you have never seen him – he puts a stacking debuff on the tank that increases damage taken by his elemental form. You are supposed to move him periodically to make him switch form, and change the type of damage.

Partway through the fight, our tank anounced that he was not taking terrible damage, and the healers were having no trouble keeping up. So we never moved him. We kept him standing still for the entire fight, regardless of how high the debuff stacked. No adds to clean up. No raid coordination needed. He went down like a wet, cold sack of potatoes.

That was nuts.

Then we cleared to Lurker, fished him up, and started there. Even after losing 1/3 of the raid to Spouts, we had enough to down him without trouble.

Insane.

So we wandered around until we bumped into Morogrim Tidewalker. We had never seen him, thought about him, or read up on the fight. Our Raid Leader quickly alt-tabbed over to the web to read up on him, then tabbed back. With a vague idea of what to do, we went in.

And… one shot him. With all the AoE tanking the murloc adds were no trouble. With all our resto druids druids throwing Wild Growth the raid damage from earthquake went away.

Ridiculous.

So we plowed on to Fathom-Lord Karathress. Again we made a quick alt-tab over to the web to figure this guy out. We wiped once while we figured out the name of that nasty totem that has to be killed. Next time – down he went.

In an earlier post, I said that the patch had vaulted us from being a T4 guild to T5 in one day. I was wrong. T5 content is now too easy. Its not that we are good. In the raid we were sloppy and undisciplined. We didn’t mark targets, or watch positioning, or keep track of threat. We are just way overpowered.

I doubt we will have a chance to go back in to get to Vashj before the reset on Tuesday. I don’t know where we go from here. Hyjal? Black Temple? Sunwell? It sounds ridiculous to say that, but we had ten players putting out over 1000 dps in the raid last night (compared to no one over 800-900 last week). Healers had no mana issues. Tanks had no threat issues. I’m not sure where we fall in the raiding world for the next month before the patch.

Its almost boring.

18
Oct
08

Impressions of post-patch play

Some initial impressions of my gameplay after some running and raiding over the weekend

Rogue Soloing

I think that Combat is still a better build for soloing, just because of its better burst and multi-mob abilities. When soloing with my Mutilate build, I might as well take Envenom off my bar. Nothing lives long enough to build up a poison stack. I’ve been using Eviscerate as a finisher in solo fights. I guess when I’m alone its no big deal which method I use, as long as they die. Still, I feel like I spent points on talents that I’m not even using. And I miss Blade Flurry. Hunger for Blood seems wasted too. I pop it, it lasts 30 sec, but the mob is dead in 5.

Raiding

Raiding content at your current gear level is a joke. We ran Gruul and Magtheridon on Friday. My guild has had Gruul on farm for a while, but Mag still gave us some trouble before the patch. No longer. We went in without even a full raid and blew them both away. The healers were bored because there wasn’t enough damage being taken. As far as rogues go – before the patch my dps was in the 800-850 range on Magtheridon. Yesterday I was near 1000 on High King, over 1000 on Gruul, and up around 1300-1400 on Mag.

Here is a WWS parse of the night of raids. We did switch personnel between instances, so the totals are misleading… break it up into individual bosses for a better picture. I am Unsu in the reports. I wasn’t top dps in the Gruul fight because I took a hurtful strike and died, otherwise I would have been way out in front of everyone except maybe that T5 warlock we brought along.

The raid itself was ridiculous. There’s no need to watch Omen, since the tanks do ridiculous threat. No need to worry about positioning or watching your health since the healing comes fast and hard. I stood through Gruul’s cave-in’s without moving and never had a health issue. That was an utterly pointless run. No skill required.

The new raid buff system took some getting used to. We kept yelling at our paladins because we didn’t have Blessing of Might. It took a while before we figured out that the warrior’s Battle Shout was overwriting it. With buffs being generally raid-wide, I had an obscene amount of icons in the buff area of my screen.

Scary – a ret paladin was 3rd in dps on Mag with about 1100. That ‘s scary because he was a holy pally until this week. He just respecced, doesn’t have great ret gear, and was still learning his attack rotation. Yet he very nearly caught the epic-geared rogues in dps.

The hard part of the raid for me was doing it with minimal add-ons. It turns out that the one I really missed was ClassTimers. It was hard to keep an eye on my SnD when it was mixed in at the top-right of the screen with the dozen or so other buffs I had. I had to keep moving my eye from Omen on the bottom to the poison stacks at the top left, the combo points in the center, to SnD and Hunger for Blood at the top right. I’ll need to get my add-ons updated so all the rogue stuff is in one place.

Bonus

The Dragonspine Trophy dropped for me. I felt bad taking it… a lot of the other melee classes wanted it, and I already have good gear, and they may not get another chance because we won’t be killing Gruul many more times. But I have been after it for so long I couldn’t pass on it.

Next

We are going to raid, but not much more T4 stuff. In one day, the patch pushed us from a T4 guild to a T5 guild. Sure, we’ll have to learn the fights, but we are amazingly overpowered for T4 content.

Tonight we are trying SSC. We plan to hit Hyjal at some point in the coming weeks to give it a try. We hope to do a four-chest run in ZA next week, even though there are no more bear mounts. With the various multi-tanking abiliites we won’t have to switch in a prot pally for the dragonhawk boss any more.

17
Oct
08

Fishing Achievements

I have always enjoyed fishing in WoW.  It is simple and mindless, much like real fishing.  Its something to do when I am not mentally up for an instance run, and a good way to keep the guild supplied with buff food.

Because I have been a dedicated fisherman since I started WoW, I am certainly interested in doing the fishing Acheievements.  I have already fished from a school and caught 25 fish.  I have fished from a couple of the wreckage pools and I can get the rest quickly.  I will be able to fish from the different fish schools easily enough, too.  Fishing dailies – I do those, anyway.

I have never tried the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza, but I guess I will start doing that (along with lots of other fishermen who want the achievement).

There is one achievement to fish something up in both Stormwind and Orgrimmar.  I have an admission… I have only played alliance toons.  I have never even seen Orgrimmar.  I know about where it is, but I have never been close to it.

So, as a stealth class, will I be able to get into Orgrimmar for long enough to catch a single fish?  It there only one entrance, with guards that will see through stealth?  Or is it easy to sneak into?




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
October 2008
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