Archive for July, 2008


Off-topic… go to Kennedy Space Center!

/begin non-WoW digression

I live near Orlando, Florida. Its the land of Mickey Mouse. Almost everyone I know has visited here at some point, or plans to do so at some time in the future. When they come, they make extensive plans to see Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Sea World, maybe even Gatorland.

How many of them go to Kennedy Space Center? Not nearly enough.

Today I took my kids there. They are ages 11, 5, and 4. The look of wonder on their faces when they saw the Rocket Garden was something to behold. Their dropped jaws as they watched the 3-D IMAX movie was worth every penny of the admission price. The wonder in their eyes as they touched a moon rock or sat in a space capsule was pure joy.

Yes, I am an admitted science geek. This stuff appeals to me perhaps more than it does the average person. But I challenge you to bring the most non-scientific-minded person you know to the Saturn V Center and see if their eyes don’t open a little wider during the deep rumble of the simulated launch.

I think that some people rule out the Space Center when they are in central Florida because they think that since its not a “theme park” it won’t be fun. My kids will attest otherwise.

/end non-WoW digression

P.S. – I was expecting to see a large red cat prowling the grounds of KSC, but it didn’t happen.


Why a casual guild gets stuck

My guild is the epitome of a casual guild. We have no application to join, no spec requirements or class leaders, no raid sign-up system. We have raid nights with loosely scheduled start times, but only one 10-man and one 25-man raid per week.

Guild like this can easily get “stuck” where they are not progressing. This is often obvious, such as when the guild only runs Karazhan over and over and over and over…

We are in a more subtle kind of “stuck”. We are actually trying a variety of new content – TK, Magtheridon, ZA, SSC. Members feel generally happy about the way things are going. No one is complaining. Unfortunately, we are not making any real progress.

Why does this happen? Here are a few of problems…

Difficulty in finding 25 people. On raid night when the approximate start time comes around, we typically have about 18 raiders online. Then we have a waiting game, as we sit around hoping more will log on. As the raid slowly fills up, we get impatient and invite undergeared or underexperienced players just to get the raid filled. Now we are setting ourself up for failure, having perhaps a poor mix of classes or maybe poor performers in key roles. Yes, the raid starts, and it feels nice to see new stuff, but we have no real chance at success.

Inability or hesitance to critique performance of weak links. Every guild has some players who are not very good at the game, or not very good at their class, or unable to follow directions. Even our server’s Sunwell-clearing guild has some mediocre players in it. In a strong raiding guild these players are critiqued and guided toward improvement. If the player can’t take constructive criticism, then they leave the guild or get kicked. In our situation, we cannot afford to have people leave the guild, because we barely have enough for our 25-man raids as it is. So we tolerate the weak links and try to drop hints. Maybe they take the hint and improve. Maybe not.

Attrition of the better players. This hasn’t been too much of a problem for us lately. It happens when the guild is stuck, and a player who wants to see more content gets impatient. Rather than waiting it out, he leaves for a more progressed guild. We had one player do this – actually the main tank from our partner guild. Fortunately, his new guild doesn’t raid on the same night that we do, so he will still come tank for our raids. Still – we worry all the time that we will lose our top players to more advanced guilds. We’ve been lucky so far.

Lack of Organization. I love when guilds use raid sign-up systems like add-ons or web-based calendars. Most casual guilds can try it, but can’t really enforce it. A long time ago we tried making a rule that you wouldn’t be invited to Karazhan unless you signed up in advance. What a flop. Even with that rule in place, only a few people signed up, and then we had no choice but to invite those who hadn’t signed up. Thus, the rule failed. Without a system like that in place, we can never tell in advance who is going to raid, or even what kind of class balance we’ll have.

Loot Greed. Your typical casual guild doesn’t raid very often. As a result, the opportunities for drops are not frequent. For example, if I ever see the Dragonspine Trophy drop from Gruul (still hasn’t happened) and I don’t get it, I know it might be weeks before we get back around to Gruul’s Lair, and then its unlikely to drop a second time. Knowing this, there is a tendency to be greedy, and arguments can start over drops. We have run into this a couple of times and – so far – the matter has been settled without anyone quitting.

Altitis. One of the common qualities of casual players is that they play a lot of alts. In my guild, our players often prefer to level an alt rather than run Steamvault for the 20th time to get Cenarion rep. In doing this, they are missing an opportunity to get rep gear and improve a raiding toon. At least in my guild their alts are known. Its even worse when the players intentionally keep their alts out of the guild and don’t let on their identities. Then its like they are hiding from the guild.

Boredom. Many casual guilds don’t do a lot of runs on a nightly basis. This can lead to boring nights of sitting around in Shattrath waiting for something to happen. A person who wants to run every night would certainly be tempted to look elsewhere if they couldn’t get guild runs going.

Through all of these obstacles, my guild is still chugging along. In another post I’ll relate how I deal with all of these.


Hi Magtheridon. Nice to meet you.

No posts lately because I haven’t done much. Ran Kara, blah blah. No new gear. Not gonna talk about WotLK stuff since its all going to change.

Our 25-man raid this week went to Magtheridon’s Lair. This was the first time in there for all but three of the raiders, so it was a learning experience.

I watched videos of the way this encounter used to be. I have never seen a fight that has been so severely nerfed as this one. Usually when raiders brag about how 1337 they are because they killed a boss before he was nerfed, I just ignore it as e-peening. In this case, though, it might be legit. Based on what I saw, the fight used to be total chaos, but now its fairly straightforward.

In our first attempts we had a couple of wipes getting the hang of coordinating our five tanks and controlling the elementals. Once we got that fixed, we were able to get all five channelers down before the first blast wave and get the cubes clicked appropriately. Our problem was keeping the main tank up through Magtheridon’s attacks.

We started with three healers on him – two priests and a druid, I think. The tank died. We added a fourth healer for our next tried and he still died. I don’t think we got Mag below 75%. The warrior tank was very well geared – T4/T5 and badge gear with 20k health. I can only surmise that the problem was with the healers.

I have never played a healer, so I have no real insight into the cause of this. I don’t think that the WWS report is particularly helpful here either. Does Magtheridon hit harder than Gruul? We have no trouble healing through the Gruul fight, but maybe this is a new level of damage that our healers are not accustomed to.

I think next week we’re going to try SSC next just to finish off our tour of early 25-man raids. We can clear some trash, get some drops, maybe get a shot at Lurker Below. I do look forward to getting back into Mag’s Lair. He doesn’t seem that hard, once the healers get it figured out.


New Gear – and all that goes with it

Yay! New gear! Getting a nice gear upgrade is one of the feel-good moments in the game. When you have been raiding a while and don’t have many upgrades available, its especially rewarding.

I got three new items in one 24 hour period this weekend. I was the only rogue in our Gruul raid, so I took the Shuriken of Negation when it dropped (even though I may still use my Felsteel Whisper Knives for the hit rating). Then I bought my last Heart of Darkness and crafted my Swiftstrike Shoulders. Finally, I bought the Belt of the Silent Path for 75 Badges (breaking up my Primalstrike set).

The downside of all of this is trying to figure out the gems, enchantments, glyphs, and inscriptions. Here’s the way this went yesterday…

  1. Got new shoulders… need to put the Greater Inscription of the Blade on them. Darn! I stopped collecting Arcane Tomes once I hit exalted with Scryer, and I need 8 of them to make Arcane Runes to buy the inscription. /sigh – had to spend 75g at the auction house for the tomes.
  2. I had a new belt, and it has a yellow gem slot! Need a Rigid Dawnstone. Fortunately, our guild JC had one lying around, so that saved me 30g.
  3. Since I am equipping my Swiftstrike Shoulders in place of the Netherblade Shoulderpads, now I needed to wear my Netherblade Facemask to keep the very useful two-piece T4 set bonus. Spent time in Outfitter changing the gear around for my various outfits.
  4. I have switched around a bunch of gear… do my gems still meet the requirements of the meta gem in my helm? Yes they do. Whew. Re-gemming would be expensive.
  5. Hmmm… looks like my stats are lower than they should be. Is it possible that I just spent all those badges and gold and actually lowered my dps? What am I missing… aha! I never put the Glyph of Ferocity on my T4 helm since it was just sitting in the bank. Flew over to the Cenarion quartermaster to pick that up (for 90g). That missing AP and hit rating really stood out in my overall numbers
  6. Which to equip? Felsteel Whisper Knives or Shuriken of Negation? Hit rating vs Attack Power? Blue vs purple? Time to go into the various dps modelers. Both the Elitist Jerks spreadsheet and Warcrafter give a slight edge to the Felsteel Whisper Knives. Remember rogues… hit rating is good.

That was quite a process. Sometimes its easier to just keep the same gear.

Next upgrade: either Angelista’s Revenge for 60 badges, or the Shard of Contempt if I can bring myself to do heroic MgT. I suppose I could get lucky and Gruul could drop the Dragonspine Trophy, but I’m not counting on that.


Ten WoW Memories

This post inspired by a shared topic at Blog Azeroth. The topic was the Top Ten WoW memories. I cannot claim that these are my top ten, but certainly among the most memorable moments in the game. After thinking about it I noticed that almost all of them are pre-BC. Does that say something about the current state of the game? I don’t know.

10. Going into Ironforge for the first time. As a Night Elf, I started out in the relatively unpopulated Darnassus, and then moved on to Auberdine and other such small cities. When I made the run to Ironforge, walked in, and saw all of the people milling around in front of the bank (and saw my framerate go to 0.5 fps) it blew me away. That first made me realize the sheer number of people that were playing this game.

9. Evasion-tanking Prince Malchezzar. Our main tank died when Prince was under 10%. A druid switched to bear form and tanked him briefly, got him down to 1% and then died. Prince starts running around, one-shotting our raid. All that was left was me and a healer. I pop evasion and start fighting him. The healer dies to an infernal and its just me and 1% of Prince mano-a-mano. Dodge, dodge, dodge… evasion runs out and I managed to dodge two more times anyway… and down he goes. The raid group insisted on taking a screenshot of the kill in which I was the only one standing up.

8. Zu’Farrak – I had read about the instance before going in. The guide I read said that the prolonged fight on the stairs was very tough. When we got to it I was so worked up that I was practically jumping up and down in my chair. We completed it – easily. To this day ZF is probably my favorite instance in the game.

7. Fighting Stitches in Duskwood. After getting stomped by him a few times while questing there, it was nice when a whole group of people formed up in Darkshire to meet him. What made that fun was the shared experience with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know, all working toward a common goal. I missed out on real world PvP, and battlegrounds seem staged, so this was a neat and authentic social experience.

6. Opening of the Dark Portal. On the day of patch 2.0.3 right before the Burning Crusade release, I got a whisper from a friend of mine saying “Get over here NOW.” I flew into Nethergarde Keep and rode south to the Dark Portal, and there was a huge crowd amassed around the portal, killing demons as they emerged from the portal. Also, everyone was flagged and just slaughtering each other. For some reason, my framerate was actually reasonable, so I flagged myself and waded in. It was a blast – certainly the most fun I have had at any world or holiday event.

5. Deadmines. After reading, researching, and trying to figure out this whole “instance” thing, my family brought our five-man group into an instance for the first time. It was chaos. We had no clue about aggro control, kill orders, focused dps, or anything. We didn’t get Van Cleef down that time, but it was a blast trying.

4. Joining a guild. I stayed unguilded until my early 50’s. I finally decided to give a guild a try when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to raid at 60 without one. I ran into someone in Gadgetzan who was polite, well-spoken, and not pushy. I agreed to join, and immediately got all those green-text “welcome” messages. A year and a half later – I’m still in the same guild, now as GM.

3. Shortly after joining my guild, I logged on one day and was immediately greeted with a group invite. I agreed and was summoned to Silithus before I had any idea what was going on. The shout went out in guild chat… “We’re fighting that Anubis guy!” I zoned in and saw Emissary Roman’Khan and a couple dozen of my guildies. Its not the fight that was memorable – it was the first time that being in a guild made me feel like I was really part of a group.

2. Logging in for the first time. Watching the cinematic opening, followed by the zoom in that lead right to your character standing there in front of some guy with a yellow exclamation point over his head. Its been two years and I still remember that as clear as day.

1. Killing Attumen the Huntsman. I had not raided at all pre-BC and had zero raid experience heading into Karazhan. We had tried Karazhan before but had not been successful. This attempt we were short a tank, so we got a PUG tank. He had run Kara before so he was able to explain the fight to us. We had only two healers, and he warned us that first-time Kara raiders usually needed three. We cleared to Attumen, but took too long and had respawns so had to clear again. The second time we got to Midnight, and the tank explained what to do and we started. As the fight went on he said things like “Hey, you guys have good dps” and “This is going very well” and “great healing.” We lost a couple of people along the way but succeeded in the kill. Our PUG tank told us how impressed he was with our healers, and that he would be happy to run with us anytime. As my first raid kill, that was a great experience.

There are others I could list here. And when I think about it more I will probably find some that would knock the above listed ones out of the top ten. Being voted as GM of our guild, doing our first 25-man raid, getting my first epic gear, hitting level 70, killing Murmur, and others also stand out as nice moments.


A Tale of Two Raids

Flashback to a short time after the Burning Crusade was released.  My guild had a lot of people at levels 62-65.  On a whim, we decided to go into Zul’Gurub.  Most of us had never been in there at all.  We were a little high level for the place, but still completely inexperienced at raiding.  Someone invited an acquaintance who knew all of the fights, and he went with us to lead us through.

We killed Venoxis, and were feeling good about it.  Then he led us to Bloodlord Mandokir.  Well, that fight was a problem.  We wiped on it several times.  After that, the guest raid leader announced that we were terrible and we should just stay in old world content until we learned to play.  And with that he quit and hearthed.

That left a bitter taste in my mouth.  We had made no secret of the fact that we were inexperienced, so I don’t know what his expectations were going into the place.  I’m generally an even-tempered gamer, but I laid into the guy in whispers until he put me on /ignore.

Flash forward to July, 2008.  Our guild alliance decides that, just for a change of pace, we would try going into Tempest Keep and give Void Reaver a shot.  Keep in mind that only about half of our raid even has any T4 gear, so we knew we were in for an uphill battle.

When raid time came we were a few people short.  One of the raiders from our partner guild contacted a friend of his from a very progressed guild.  His friend, a prot pally, joined the raid and took over leadership.  This guy was totally geared out – T5/T6 level gear with 19k health.

My first impulse was that this would be a recurrence of the ZG debacle from a year ago.  Knowing how inexperienced and undergeared we were, I anticipated this guy would quickly get fed up with us and leave.

But that didn’t happen.  He was patient.  He gave clear instructions.  He explained every fight without any hint of impatience.  When we wiped on the first pull he calmly went over what went wrong and got us quickly back in place to try again.

It took us two hours to clear to Void Reaver, but we did get to him.  We had four tries on him before the room started to respawn, and the best we did was getting him to 54%.  But we had a GREAT time doing it.  We got to see content that we had never seen before.  Someone got a Nether Vortex.  We also had two epic drops from trash – Bands of the Celestial Archer and Fire-Cord of the Magus.

I usually avoid using character names in this blog, but I want to give a heartfelt thanks to Talingon on the Sen’jin realm.  He was a great guide and teacher, and I hope to get the opportunity to run with him again.

P.S. – we also had two out-of-guild rogues invited to fill out the raid, and both outgeared me.  I destroyed them in dps.  Go me!  e-peen!


Got my Authenticator

I did manage to get my order in before they ran out of stock.  I placed my order on July 1st and received the item on July11th.

The authenticator is very small… about 1″ wide by just over 2″ long.  My biggest fear is losing it in my cluttered desk.  It does have a ring at the end to attach it to a keychain or hook.  I attached a hook to the side of my desk and hung the authenticator there.

It works as advertised.  I went to my Account Management settings and entered the serial number from the back of the device.  I then wen to log in to the game.  After I put in my name and password it popped open a window asking for the number from the authenticator.  I tried putting in an incorrect number and I was denied access.  I put in the correct number and it let me in.

My wife and I are using the same authenticator for both of our accounts, and it has worked fine so far.  It takes a weight off my shoulders.  I feel confident that my account will not be hacked.

Its about time.  I hope that lots of people get these and the hackers just give up in frustration.


New Shoulders? Or profit!

Every day when I log on and again when I log off I hit the auction house. I always use Auctioneer to scan the prices to look for good deals. Besides that, I routinely check the listings for Talbuk Venison, Scrolls of Agility, Super Healing potions, and leatherworking patterns.

Today my jaw dropped when I saw the pattern for Swiftstrike Shoulders on the auction house for 600g… that’s about 1/3 of its usual price on my server. I grabbed it right away.

Now I have to decide… do I learn the pattern and then collect the rather pricey mats to make it for myself? Or do I resell it for a profit of around 1000g?

When raiding, I am currently wearing the Netherblade Shoulderpads for the 2-piece T4 bonus. When I am soloing I usually wear either the Bladed Shoulderpads of the Merciless or the Blackened Leather Spaulders. The Swiftstrike shoulders are an upgrade, but is it worth the cost of two Heart of Darkness and other mats? I can equip the Netherblade Facemask and Netherblade Breeches to keep the T4 set bonus when raiding, so that’s not an issue.

The renowned EJ spreadsheet says that the new shoulder/head combo will increase my damage by 7.60 dps. Is that worth the cost of the pattern and the mats, and also worth giving up 1000g of profit?

Normally, my philosophy is get the best gear I can get NOW. I don’t save DKP for the top gear. I don’t keep my gear enchant-free in expectation of replacing it. I get whatever I can RIGHT NOW. Also, the expansion is so far off that its not a consideration.

On the other hand, I’d really like to get my epic flyer for my pally alt. Making these shoulders vs selling the pattern is a swing of 2000g one way or the other. I could save myself two weeks worth of dailies by selling the pattern.



Void Reaver – as easy as he looks?

The past two weeks our guild alliance has come up short of the 25 we need to run Gruul’s Lair. Its the summertime, and this past weekend was a holiday. Its not that we don’t have enough people. They just haven’t been logged on. Both weeks, we could name a list of people who are normally online on Saturday, but for some reason did not log in that night.

Perhaps some of the problem is that they are tired of Gruul. Our current raid is a mix of two types. We have a group of people who were here when we were farming Gruul, so they are bored of him. We also have a group who are new to 25-man raiding and have to learn the fight and, in some cases, gear up. Everyone is frustrated when we wipe.

So I think we are going to try a change of pace. I’ve watched videos of the Void Reaver fight. He looks easy in the video. I have heard him called “Loot Reaver” in jest. I doubt any T5 level boss can truly be easy, but just for a change, I think we are going to try him this week.

That’s a fair step up in level for us. Half of our raid is T4 and badge geared and ready for T5 content. Half is still mid-Kara geared and have not yet killed Gruul. It seems to me that as long as the tank and healers are well-geared, then everyone else just needs to learn how to avoid the orbs. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe we won’t beat the enrage timer without awesome dps. Still, I hope that the prospect of T5 tokens will help to get everyone to log on for the run.


Summer posting

When I am at work I get an hour of planning time every day.  If I am caught up with my work, I will use part of that time to relax and keep up with a couple dozen blogs that I read.  Then, later, I’ll use my lunch time to write a blog entry.  My work schedule also gives me a blog schedule.

I am now off of work until mid-August.  I have nothing scheduling my life during that time.  I am about 200 posts behind in keeping up with reading my blogroll.  And I haven’t made the time to post here much.

I do have some posts in the works, but expect it to be slow for a little while.  In August it will go back to a more regular schedule.


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)
July 2008
Add to Technorati Favorites
website statistics

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®

Blog Stats

  • 1,308,752 hits