Archive for March, 2008


Server progress – PvE vs PvP

FightingIf you haven’t seen it already, there is a web site monitoring server progress on the new dailies at (that’s the U.S. server page. EU servers are at

Looking at the US rankings, I noticed something right away. 19 of the top 20 servers listed are Normal servers. Looking further, 17 of the bottom 20 are PvP servers.

Obviously, server population has a lot to do with the rankings. However, I found servers with population of 10,000+ both at top and bottom of the list, and servers with less than 10,000 people both at top and bottom of the list. So there seems to be more to it than just population.

I am on a Normal server. I can’t imagine what the Isle of Quel’Danas looks like on a PvP server. You probably can’t even get off of the gryphon without tripping on the piles of bones. Is it a reasonable conclusion that the PvP fighting is discouraging players from doing the daily quests? Are PvP servers gimping their own progress by their lack of cooperation?


Guild Bank Thieves

VaultHistorically, given the choice between multiplayer games and solo games I have always leaned toward solo. The multiplayer game world just has too many jerks in it who ruin the game for others.

In patch 2.3 Guild Leaders gained a new responsibility – managing an in-game guild bank. Each tab requires deposit and withdrawal permissions tied to guild rank. Tab contents must be organized and managed so that the bank is usable. The bank is a nice feature and was necessary. But now in addition to managing the guild’s raids, personalities, and web site I also have to monitor the bank contents and usage.

You cannot restrict how many items a person withdraws, just how many stacks they withdraw. My bank settings do not allow anyone to withdraw gold. The gold is for buying new bank tabs, and nothing else. I have it set so that the average member can withdraw 5 stacks per day, recruits cannot withdraw at all, and officers can withdraw more than members.

This week it came to light that one person in the guild had been gradually removing items and selling them at the auction house. He did not deny it and showed no feeling of remorse or understanding that what he was doing was stealing from the rest of the guild. I /gkicked him right away, but that doesn’t get the items back. He was a member, and so was only able to withdraw 5 stacks per day, but that was no impediment to his scheme. He was taking only a few items a day so that he wouldn’t get caught, anyway. I only noticed it when I checked the log and saw that his level 65 alt had taken out 8 Void Crystals. I checked the AH and there they were, up for auction by that same toon.

The bank log goes back only a few days. In that time, though, I could see that he had withdrawn easily 200-300g worth of stuff. There is no telling how long he had been doing this, or how many thousands of gold he has that were obtained using our guild bank items.

There was no way to prevent this other than to restrict withdrawals to the point of making the bank useless. I asked a GM if there was anything I could do and he said that there was not. Once again, no matter what we do, we are at the mercy of the a$$holes that populate this game.

I plan to keep this guy on my friends list, just to keep tabs on him. When he joins a new guild I will tell the Guild Leader about his guild bank infraction. That’s the only measure of justice I can think of.


Good daily quest vs annoying daily quest

“Sanctum Wards” and “Erratic Behavior” are two of the new daily quests in Quel’Danas.  They were available immediately when the zone was opened, and are still available now that most (if not all) realms are in phase two.  And they are annoying for the same reason that the similar quests in Ogri’La are annoying, or farming motes at the Elemental Plateau is annoying.

As a rogue, my best bet is to be in stealth when I start combat.  Well, when stealthed I move slowly.  So as I creep toward a Wretched Fiend or Erratic Sentry, it is common for some warrior to charge right past me, or a hunter to send his pet, or a mage to blast it from 40 yards away.  I gave up using stealth, since these mobs are pushovers, but I still lose out to players with longer ranged attacks.  The place is so busy that it takes forever to kill my quota.  Same with the new phase two quest, “The Battle for Sun’s Reach Armory”.  These are annoying and will remain so until the area is not so overcamped.  Its not bad quest design

Contrast that to the new daily quest “Blast the Gateway” at the Throne of Kil’jaeden.  Since your Living Flare gets empowered by any Fel Spark death in the vicinity, there is a lot of cooperation.  It doesn’t matter who gets credit for the kill – the faster they die, the faster we all finish the quest.  So players often work together to burn them down quickly.  Much nicer.

P.S. – when I went to bed last night my server was at 6% on phase 2.  How does that compare to other servers?


Karazhan PuGs – easier than Heroics?

Lets talk about something other than the new patch content, shall we?

I am not really fond of PuGs. I’ve mentioned that before. I have only done one or two in my whole Warcraft life.

Since my guild is not currently running Karazhan, and I am in need of Badges of Justice, I have considered the idea of trying the LFG channel to get in on Kara PuGs.

Once upon a time, the idea of taking a pick-up group through Karazhan would have been impossible. I remember seeing a machinima written about that called “Can’t PuG KZ“. Back when the encounters in upper Kara were considered difficult, there would not be a way to coordinate a PuG raid through those fights.

But now there are many, many well-geared players out there looking to grab badges of justice for the new items. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that I may be able to find good groups made up of experienced players. Or maybe I am completely off-base. I’ll let you know.

Also – I think that taking a PuG through Karazhan might be easier than taking a PuG through a heroic instance. With ten players its easier to carry one or two bad ones and overcome their mistakes. In a heroic instance even one bad player can ruin the run. And in a heroic instance your time and effort and repair bill will only net you 3-5 badges (unless its the daily heroic quest). In Kara, even if a bad PuG only gets through Attumen and Maiden you can get 3 badges.

Has anyone done PuGs of Karazhan?  I may try this weekend.  If I do, I’ll write about how it goes.


Magister’s Terrace

I wasn’t on the PTR before the patch, so my first view of the new content came last night. Here are a few first impressions:

The two daily quests in the new zone are ridiculously easy, except that they are all overcamped at the moment. One asks you to kill mobs in the area who are level 68-69. They were extremely easy to kill. Normally when soloing I am sure to be in stealth and get an opener when I attack, but I didn’t even bother with these mobs. I suppose that if the area weren’t overpopulated it would be easy to pull two or three at once, and if you were a new 70 in blues and greens that might be a problem. But right now its cake.

The other one involves killing mechanicals that are walking around. They are listed as 70 elites, but they are also very easy. Even my wife on her full-resto druid had no trouble soloing them. So, while it is nice to have quick daily quests to do, I was actually a little disappointed with how easy they were.

After finishing those we got a group to go into Magister’s Terrace. On paper we were overgeared for this instance… all five are in Kara gear, and this is supposed to be on par with Shadow Lab or Shattered Halls. So we went in a little loose and tried to just overpower the place rather than use good technique. We did wipe several times as a result – the mobs are not pushovers with several 4 and 5-pulls. My dps was much lower than usual, which could either be from the mobs having high armor or from my confusion with my messy UI due to broken add-ons.

We only had a brief amount of time since it was a weeknight, so we intended to just go in and kill a few groups and peek around. However, we managed to get halfway through the place in a very short time. It seemed like a short instance.

We did the first few pulls, went around the corner, and there was the first boss! He is basically the same as the final boss in Steamvaults. He does a mana drain, increases in size, and siphons mana off of a nearby crystal. Interestingly, his siphoning is interruptible. Kick ftw! We ignored all of his special attacks, interrupted his siphon, destroyed the crystals, and burned him down.

Around the corner there is a room full of about 50 mana worms, and then the second boss! Like I said, it seems very quick. The second boss is basically a baby Curator. He does arcane damage and spawns little energy balls. The energy balls die fast so there is no need for concentrated focus fire like on Curator. When his health gets low he does chain lighting which hurts, so use cooldowns to finish him off quickly at the end.

The loot that dropped from those two bosses were level 70 blues, so if you’re already decked out in epics you won’t need any of it. The second boss does drop Latro’s Dancing Blade, which now makes a two-piece set with Latro’s Shifting Sword (drops in Black Morass) that gives +30 AP as a set bonus. Pre-Kara sword rogues might like that.

We expect to go back in this weekend and do the whole place. The third boss is a lot like Moroes, and the final boss is Kael’thas himself, in a toned down version of the final fight of Tempest Keep. I’m looking forward to that.


More Fish Sticks

Just looking over the final patch notes, and somehow this one had gotten by me before…

  • Feltail fishing nodes have been changed to Brackish Mixed Schools; they now produce mostly Golden Darters and some Feltail.

Well, I guess the AH market for Golden Fish Sticks is about to plummet.  Too bad – I made a ton of gold fishing and cooking those.  On the other hand, now I won’t end up with a whole bag full of feltail after a fishing session.


I wonder how many people have no clue…

Readers of Warcraft blogs are certainly aware of what is happening in WoW. We all use an assortment of online information outlets and do our own research. The fact that we are so interested in WoW that we spend time researching it, reading about it, and writing about it separates us from the general population of Azeroth. We know everything. (just kidding, of course)

But we only account for a very tiny fraction of the WoW player base. There are players who do not keep up with “current events” in WoW.  Heck, there are still players who don’t know about Thottbot or Wowhead.

How many of the millions of subscribers had no idea there was a patch coming today? I’m not talking about new subscribers – I am asking about people who have been playing for a while. How many level 70 players will hear about the new badge rewards for the first time in Trade channel chatter? How many times will someone mention Magister’s Terrace, and get a response of “what?”

These are unanswerable questions, of course. But I am curious just the same.

Certainly, reading WOWInsider is not required to be a successful Warcraft player. For many players, they only think about WoW when they log into the game.  How is this new content being conveyed to that player base? How would someone find out about the new fishing dailies and crafting patterns if they didn’t read WoW-related web sites? Is it Blizzard’s responsibility to lead players by the nose to the new content? Should Guild officers inform their guildies? Is word-of-mouth sufficient?

Again – these are rhetorical questions. But since my mother has recently started playing it has made me much more aware of the player who is “in the dark.” I can’t tell you how many times she has asked me a question, and when I gave her the answer she replied with “how was I supposed to know to do that?”


How does your guild use Vent?

I was surprised to find that a group of people who used to be in my guild stayed on Vent the whole time that they are playing. In fact, a couple of them have Vent open almost 24/7 so that they can hear when anyone logs on.

This is something I can’t really relate to. Its not that I am a hermit or a loner. Its just that I have always had my wife next to me when I played, so I have never needed company on Vent. I suppose if I were alone in a room when I was playing, I might have been more inclined to get on Vent for some chatter. Or I might just have turned on some music. I’m not sure.

I only log onto the Vent server for instance runs.  The rest of the time I talk to my wife and keep an ear on my kids.

Does your guild chat on Vent all the time? Or are you on Vent only during runs?


Seeing content vs. Experiencing content

Lately I have contemplated the idea of moving to another guild. There are guilds that I know I could get into that make regular Gruul’s and ZA runs and are moving into SSC and TK. Until now, I have not been in anything beyond Karazhan, so I am naturally curious about what I am missing. I would not get on the progression team of any of those guilds, of course, but it might afford me the chance to see other content.

This thought process has made me reflect on my WoW experience to date. For 85 days /played on my main, and every instance I have run from VC to Kara, I have experienced and learned them as I did them, rather than just complete them or “see” them.

What does that mean?

Let me explain with examples… When I went into Karazhan for the first time, it was the first Kara run for all ten people in the raid. When we killed Attumen, it was more than just loot. It was a shared experience among all ten of us. There was /cheering and /dancing and screenshots taken and hollering on Vent. It was a wonderful moment. I can still remember as Attumen got down to 2%, one of our priests shouting “Oh my god we’re gonna kill Attumen!” and everyone hooting and yelling as the huntsman’s last HP ticked away.

The same shared experience happened with every new boss in Karazhan, even if we wiped a bunch of times trying to learn the fight. Each first-time kill was a triumph, not just new gear.

That type of experience goes back even earlier in my WoW career. When I went into UBRS for the first time, 9 out of 10 of us had never been there before. When we finished that instance it was the same sense of victory for 90% of the raid.

In fact, upon further reminiscing – as far as I can remember I have never gone into an instance or raid for the first time with more than 1 or 2 people who had already done it, and in most cases the whole group was doing it for the first time.

When I realized that, it put my personal approach to WoW raiding in a whole new light.

Why is it that I was opposed to a guild merger when it was proposed to us several months ago? Why is it that I won’t act on opportunities to go to a more advanced raiding guild? Why is it that I never did a lot of PuGs, and won’t fill out our current ailing Kara team with PuGs?

I do not want to go on a raid with a group of people who have already done it! I wouldn’t mind doing a PuG for the bosses I’ve already done a bunch of times. But the ones I have yet to kill – those are special.

I want to share the joy of accomplishment with my friends! I measure my achievements not by loot, but by the memory of the experiences! Could I take any satisfaction in downing Gruul if I went in with 24 people who have done it a dozen times and they dragged my sorry butt along for the ride? Does the loot mean anything then? Not to me!

I have an image in my head of going into a raid, killing a boss, and being the only one who is excited. I have an awful image of jumping up an down and while I type /cheer and line up for the screenshot, the rest of the group is saying “ho-hum, did he drop my loot THIS time?” I would hate that.

One of my friends who recently left our guild for the “Guild of Evil” was very happy when his new guild brought him on a ZA run. Every time loot dropped he would link it to me. All I kept thinking was, “So what? Its just loot.” As I see it, by running with a bunch who had already been through ZA, he missed the chance to experience the shared joy of a group-first ZA boss kill. (I didn’t say that to him – he has different ideas about what is enjoyable in the game and I didn’t want to rain on his parade)

So going into a more progressed guild would give me a chance to see new content, but I could lose out on the chance to experience it the way I am used to. To me, that makes a world of difference.


Rogue vs. Shade of Aran

Shade of AranCongratulations! You’re past Curator and your raid group has T4 gear! Once you defeat Curator you have several paths to choose from. There is the Chess Event (easy loot) which leads on the Prince Malchezzar. Or there are three optional bosses all available here – Netherspite, Terestian Illhoof, or Shade of Aran.

Shade is one of my favorite fights. Maybe that’s because a rogue has a definite role besides just dps. We haz interrupts! General raid guides for Shade can be found here, here, and here.

Gear – you will take damage in this fight. Make sure you have some stam gear on. You should have over 8k health (preferably higher) when you start the fight.

Shade has no aggro. He is going to randomly spin around firing off spells at people. For dagger rogues, this is a little problematic because its nearly impossible to stay behind him. In addition, he is immune to Rupture. So you will be relying on your Sinster Strike and hitting Backstab (or Mutilate) whenever he turns his back to you. Sword rogues can use their usual rotation. Keep your SnD up at all times to get as much damage in as you can when you are engaged with him.  Edit:  Since patch 2.4 undead mobs can be Ruptured.

Note: since he has no aggro table, then make sure you don’t have the Blessing of Salvation from your pally. Go with Might for this one for the added AP.

Shade’s armor is fairly low. His health drops very quickly if you can sustain your dps through all of the chaos that goes on. That’s the key – keep your dps going through everything happening.

Shade does many things. Most of the time he is firing frostbolts, arcane missiles, and fireballs around at random players. This is where your interrupts come in. You can’t kick them all. Assign any players in the raid who have interrupts to one of those three spells. Watch Shade’s cast bar and interrupt as many as possible. If you don’t have enough interrupts in your group, then try and stop the arcane missiles and the fireballs since they do the most damage. Not only does this reduce raid damage to save your healer’s mana, but it slows down the rate of Shade’s mana use. That becomes important later…

Edit: Another strategy is to only interrupt the frostbolts and fireballs and let the arcane missles go. Because of the different spell mechanics, Shade’s mana will last longer with this approach. That gives your raid a better chance to kill him before his mana gets down to 20% and he polymorphs/pyroblasts (see below).

Every so often he will use a magnetic pull to suck everyone to him. That means that a big Arcane Explosion is incoming (not interruptable). You have to get out to the edge of the room to be out of its range. When you turn to run, you find that your movement speed is slowed. You should still have plenty of time to get far enough away. Rogues can Cloak of Shadows out of the slow effect, or use Sprint to offset it. But don’t waste them unless you have to. As soon as the explosion goes off, get back in there ASAP and start your dps.

The part of the encounter where it is easy to screw up is the Flame Wreath. Shade will cast this spell (also not interruptable) and several people will be surrounded by rings of flames. If you are in a Flame Wreath and you move, it will blow up the raid. Moving during Flame Wreath is considered the ultimate in Kara noobishness. Don’t do it. Know this – if a Rogue hits Cloak of Shadows during Flame Wreath it will set off the explosion. Don’t use CoS in a Flame Wreath!!!!!!! You can attack while you are in the wreath. Just don’t move.

The third thing that Shade does is cast a Blizzard (also uninterruptable). It moves clockwise around the perimeter of the room. For melee classes it is easy to avoid because it stays at the outer part of the room. The problem for you comes if there is an impending Arcane Explosion while a Blizzard is going on. When you run to the edge of the room to avoid the explosion you also need to avoid walking into the Blizzard. This is a good time to use your Cloak of Shadows so that you can run at full speed to avoid the two spells.

If all goes well and no one has moved during the Flame Wreath and the healers have not died during a Blizzard, then the fight should feel like a dance. When Shade gets down to 40% health, it becomes more chaotic. Four elite water elementals spawn and start attacking. In general, it’s not a rogues job to deal with them. They can be feared, banished, or tanked depending on your raid makeup. Someone has to keep them off the healers. Because rogues are on interrupt duty, though, you will most likely stay on Shade of Aran while others handle the elementals.

This has all been pretty complicated. What else could happen? Well, if Shade gets his mana down to 20%, he Mass Polymorphs everyone into sheep and then sits down to drink. When he is done drinking he does a Pyroblast that will hit for around 7500 damage. How do you avoid this? Strategy #1 is to kill him before his mana gets to 20%. Well-geared groups can do that. If that’s not going to happen with your raid, then make sure you have enough health to survive a 7500 point pyroblast. Hopefully enough of the raid survives the blast to finish Shade off.

If you get him down, then you can get the Rapscallion Boots (unless you already have the superior Edgewater Longboots from Moroes). You might also roll on the Saberclaw Talisman (unless you already have the Worgen Claw Necklace from Attumen) or the Drape of the Dark Reavers . The Drape is the best prize here, so keep your fingers crossed.


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
March 2008
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