Archive for August, 2008


Zul’Aman – my new favorite playground

Bad news and good news…

The bad news is that our third straight 25-man raid fell short due to low attendance. The beginning of the school year and the end of the summer are killing our raids. We keep hoping it is temporary. The people who were not online were all regular attendees who gave us no indication that they were cutting down their play time or leaving. Maybe it was just because of the holiday weekend 😦

The good news is that we put together a good 10-man ZA team from the raiders who were online. Keep in mind that this was only our third time ever in ZA.

We really wanted to try a timed run to see how hard they were. We new the Nalorakk fight best, so did that first. We got to him and one-shotted him with 2 minutes left on the timer. Woot! Feeling good about ourselves, we decided to brave the gauntlet and try the Eagle boss, Akil’zon. We had several deaths in the gauntlet but no wipes, and we made good progress through it. We got to Akil’zon and one-shotted him too with about 30 seconds remaining on the timer.

Two timed chests on our third time in ZA… I can’t express how excited we were. The Pauldrons of Stone Resolve dropped as an off-spec item for our pally, and the Staff of Dark Mending went to our holy priest. (if Rage had dropped, I might have considered trying a fist weapons build since I have the Big Bad Wolf’s Paw sitting in my bank… maybe next time!) The loot was almost irrelevant, though, compared to our sense of accomplishment.

We took a break at this point to decide where to go. We elected to try the lynx boss, Halazzi. We had seen him once before, but didn’t get close to killing him on that try. This time, we cleared to him and went in without getting fully buffed since we expected a few learning attempts. Not so! One-shotted! Easily, in fact.

He dropped The Savage’s Choker. That’s a dps neck piece, and I rolled on it, but a druid beat me. He offered to pass the item to me but I didn’t take him up on it, because I wasn’t 100% sure that this was an upgrade over the Shattered Sun Pendant of Might. Haste and AP are hard to compare. How much haste do you have to stack before it becomes worth the loss of AP? I’ll have to think on that so that I know for the next time it drops.

Before the end of the evening, I switched out to my paladin so that we could kill Jan’alai, the dragonhawk boss. We are now 4/6 in ZA. More importantly, our guild is actually getting gear upgrades from that instance, rather than just badge farming from Kara. I’m hoping we make ZA a regular part of our raiding, and get some shots at Malacrass soon.


Tricks of the Trade

One of the fun parts of leveling is gaining brand new abilites, rather than just higher ranks of old ones.  In the newest beta build, we have heard news of one for rogues… Tricks of the Trade

The current party or raid member becomes the target of your Tricks of the Trade. The threat caused by your next attack and all actions taken for 6 sec afterwards will be transferred to the target. In addition, all damage caused by the target is increased by 15% during this time. (from MMO-Insider via WoWInsider)

Its basically a misdirect-like effect for rogues.  We give extra threat to the tank from our damage, and also buff the tank for 6 sec to allow him to build his own initial threat faster.  Nice.  The story says that it has a short cooldown, so we won’t have to save it for bosses.

It also goes in line with Blizzard’s new philosophy that useful raid abilities will not be unique to any one class.  Hunters are getting a raid mana regen like shadow priests, druids are getting a group heal like shamans, and now rogues are getting a misdirect like hunters.

How will this effect rogue gameplay?  You know how, as a rogue or any dps class, how combat always begins.  THe tank grabs the mob and we dps-ers sit idly waiting for threat to build up.  No longer!  Now we can dive in there at the same moment as the tank, because all of our generated threat is helping the tank hold aggro rather than pulling it from him.

This indirectly will help our own damage output since we can start attacking faster.  It will also improve the damage of every other dps class because the tank will build good initial threat so no one has to hold back.

This is just the motivation I needed to get on the beta and try and level up.  I’d like to see this in action.


Should my guild know that I blog?

There are times that I blog about things going on in my guild.  I never use specific names, but it would be clear to anyone in the guild what I was talking about.

I have never told anyone in my guild that I have a WoW blog.  My family knows, of course.  There is at least one former member of the guild who knows about it, but she’s on a different server now.

Should I let them know?  Does it even matter?

There have been times when we were all in Vent chatting about a topic, and I wanted to blurt out, “I did a post on that!”  But then by leading them to the blog they can go back and read everything else I have posted.

I am concerned that by opening up the blog to my guild, I it might be awkward to post about guild goings-on.  I remember reading someone else blog about how their guild-related posts had created some hard feelings within the guild.  I wouldn’t want that to happen.

I suppose that it is possible that some of them already know about it, but have never said anything.

Its also possible that they wouldn’t even care.  A lot of them are casual enough that they don’t spend a lot of time outside the game reading blogs and other WoW web sites.

What do you think?


WotLK insanity

The Wrath expansion is looming.

I like that word here…looming.  It hangs over us like a huge wave about to crash on our heads.

So with the WotLK wave looming over us, do we keep going about our regular play and wait for it to hit, oblivious to its impending impact?  Or do we stop what we are doing and just stare at the wave as it inches closer and closer…

A few bloggers have already chimed in on this topic, pro or con, about the approach of the expansion and, in particular, its effect on raiding.

A lot of this goes back to the “raid for fun” vs “raid for gear” debate that really is the “hardcore vs casual” debate in different clothes.

I’m going to keep raiding.  I couldn’t care less if I never get another useful piece of gear.  I want to see more stuff before the expansion.  In addition, there is not a single player in my guild who has said that he intends to stop raiding before the expansion.  I guess that’s a good indication of the “casual” opinion on raiding pre-expansion.  (on the other hand, the #2 and #3 raiding guilds on my server have broken up recently – that’s the hardcore side)


Many of my favorite WoW-bloggers have now focused their blogs entirely on the expansion, new talents, new professions, etc…  I haven’t read much of that because I figure that (1) its not finalized right now, and (2) I’d rather learn it all by playing through it rather than theorizing about it months in advance.

The irony of it is that I am playing in the beta.  I haven’t made any attempt to blog about it at any length yet.  Why?  Because I am not going about it with the intention of data-mining for tidbits of information that might yet change.  I am playing through the game, leveling, doing quests, fighting mobs, and submitting feedback.  I am doing my job – helping to make sure that on release the game runs cleanly and with as few problems as possible.

Also, I am not spending vast amounts of time in the beta.  Without my guildies there, it is fairly lonely to play except when you are in a PuG.  When I am in the mood to have fun, I am much more likely to be playing in Live servers where I have lots of green chat to keep me entertained.  Also, I have a guild to run, and an absentee guild leader is a bad thing.

I could write more about what I see in the beta, but I wouldn’t be theorycrafting and number-crunching and giving advice on which spec is best.  That’s not the way I play the game.  If I blog about the beta its more likely to be general impressions of the way things are working.  Maybe some screen shots, some loot comparisons.  Is that interesting to anyone?  Am I the only one that is taking a wait-and-see approach to the expansion?  Because if I am in the minority, I can start going on at length about the stuff I see in beta.

That said, nothing is working right now.  The “cool” rogue talents aren’t implemented, and the paladin is outright broken.  So even if I wanted to blow the lid off of the beta I’d have nothing much to say at the moment.

So… beta info to come!  Or maybe not!


Jan’alai, meet my… hammer?

Our Magtheridon raid fell through this weekend due to poor attendance. As we disbanded and went on our separate ways, we grabbed together a good group to do ZA.

I had only been in ZA once, and I am always trying to get my guild to run there. People seem to prefer Kara and its 22 badges over the limited reward opportunities in ZA, though. This was a nice opportunity.

We tried to do the timed race to the bear boss. We reached him with 5 minutes on the timer, but a missed taunt by a tank sent us to a wipe and we missed the chance. Still, we got him down easily enough once the taunts were done right. That’s a very easy fight for a rogue, as the boss is standing still while the tanks taunt him to turn one way or another. All I have to do is stand behind him, go dps crazy, and not pull aggro.

Onward to the next boss, and through the “gauntlet”. Someone in the raid comments that the gauntlet is a lot easier with a tankadin to pick up all of the birds and keep them off the casters.

Crap. I have the only level 70 tankadin in the guild. He is not geared for ZA, though. He has exactly two pieces of Kara loot, the engineering goggles, the SSO shield, and the rest are quest blues and crafted stuff. Also consider that 99.9% of my playing time is on my rogue, so I am not experienced as a tank.

Despite my better judgment (paladin pun there) they convince me to switch from the rogue to the tankadin. I suspect they just wanted someone new to top the damage meters. 🙂

So we run through the gauntlet. I survived and did my job. I was going to switch back to my rogue for the boss fight, but they convinced me to stay on the pally to try and get the Amani Punisher. They even let me try tanking it once, but my gear was just not up to it. We killed him on the next try, but the weapon did not drop (although I got a nice mail piece for the healing set I may never use).

I went to switch back to my rogue, and then someone says that a prot pally is vital for the third boss, Jan’alai. So I don’t go back to the rogue.  I am on my paladin being generally useless through all the pulls leading up to the boss. (not that prot pallies are useless – we had a lot of CC so we didn’t need 2 tanks, and my dps is less than that of a SV hunter’s pet, so I felt useless in that situation)  FInally we get to the dragonhawk boss.

We had never tried Jan’alai before. We tried about 6 -8 times that evening, getting him down to 30% or so each time. At that point in the chaos of the boss enraging, the leftover dragonhawks flying around, and the fire bombs, someone important would always die. We got him as low as 4% once.  I got the hang of avoiding fire bombs while tanking a pack of birds and trying to keep that debuff from stacking too high.  I’d hate to have been the healer assigned to me.

Undaunted, we went back in on Sunday. We had to replace two people, so we had some learning attempts for the fresh faces. After a few tries, we were able to clear all of the dragonhawks before he enraged, and we did manage to kill him.

This was a very fun fight. The mechanics are interesting and its different than the usual boss fights. It is vastly easier with a prot paladin in the group. Since I have the only one in my guild, I doubt I’ll have a chance to bring my rogue in on that fight anytime soon.


Something to do

Tropical Storm Fay left me sitting at home with lots of free time.  So as I sat in front of the computer and logged into WoW in the middle of the day, I wondered what I might get done.

I started out on the Quel’Danas dailies.  I knocked those out in short order.  Then, to my surprise, there were enough people online at mid-day to do an instance run.  Black Morass was the heroic daily, so we went there.  I had never done BM on heroic, but it turned out to be not much harder than on regular since our gear is up to par for that level of content.

Back in Shattrath I grabbed the fishing and cooking dailies – they were convenient so I did them both.  I noticed then that my quest log said “You may only do 11 more dailies today.”  I don’t recall ever doing as many as 14 dailies in one day.  Could I reach the limit of 25?

I did the easy Nagrand daily, swung up to Ogri’la and did those as well.  Six more to go.

Next to Bashir’s Landing to do the daily there, then I continued to Netherstorm to get the Sunfury Attack Plans.  On the way back to Shattrath I swung by the Throne of Kil’jaeden to do the two dailies there.

Two more left.

Luckily I had grabbed the Razorthorn Rise quest while I was in Quel’Danas, so I stopped there on the way back to Shattrath.

One daily quest left… on to Skettis for the egg-bombing quest.

That’s twenty-five dailies, and I hadn’t touched any of the Netherwing quests, the Ata’mal armaments, the Skettis escort, the PvP daily, or the regular instance daily.  It took a while, but not nearly as long as I thought it would.

I feel like that should be an Achievement!


WotLK combat daggers… now with more backstab

Actually, its the same amount of backstab.  Its the same everything, really.

I haven’t had much time to play in the WotLK beta, so my impressions are still based on being level 70-71.  Here’s what I have noticed.

My rogue is a combat dagger rogue, and my paladin is full prot.  For now, I kept them both in the same talent trees to look for differences.

Right now my rogue plays the same as he does in BC.  My attack rotation is the same, and feels equally effective.  Seeing my energy increase smoothly rather than in jumps is nice.  The Prey on the Weak talent is up almost all of the time, so my crits are a little bigger.  I have tried to put myself in situations where I was being attacked my multiple mobs and I could try out Murder Spree.  When I have tried it, I haven’t seen anything happen, so I need to experiment with that a bit more.  In summary, playing a combat dagger rogue in Northrend feels exactly like playing one pre-WotLK.  Its a little disappointing, really.  Maybe things will pick up as I level.  If not, I may try an Assassination spec.

On the other hand, the paladin was completely different.  There are other bloggers out there who have gone over this in great detail, so I’ll spare the long story.  Suffice it to say that I was able to actually do damage and kill mobs without blowing my whole mana pool.  I almost prefer playing my paladin in the beta over my rogue.

I hope to have some time to play the beta this week.  Tropical Storm Fay looks like it is going to skirt along the Florida coast.  To many, that means boarding up windows and “hunkering down.”  To me it means I might have a day off from work to play WoW, assuming I don’t lose my power.


I hate that big ugly slug

There is something about Magtheridon that brings out the inner noob in my entire guild.  We have no trouble with Gruul’s Lair anymore, but still bang our head on Magtheridon.

This week it was the hunter’s turn to noob out.  We brought a couple of brand-new 70’s to the raid (not by choice, but due to low raid attendance) including two new hunters.  Because we had a pally tank with us we asked the hunters to misdirect a couple of the channelers to the paladin on the opening pull.

We had five attempts on Mag, and four of them were over almost before they started.  Out of those four bad wipes, three of them were due to hunters missing their MD, or MD to the wrong person.  Its was discouraging.  Our raid leader was especially upset because he is an awesome hunter who was forced to play on a warrior alt so we would have enough tanks.

On our one good attempt we had Mag to 17%.  We lost a couple of healers at 30% when he brought the ceiling down, and the remaining healers just couldn’t keep the main tank up indefinitely.

On that fight, I am embarrassed to admit to my fellow rogues that I was out-dpsed by a fire mage.  He’s new to our guild and he has some good gear, but that’s no excuse.  Maybe I was getting complacent.  Now I have a challenge.   🙂


PvP Barriers

I’ve said before that I don’t do any PvP at all. This week, out of boredom, I’ve engaged in some world PvP in Halaa and the Bone Wastes. It was moderately fun. Yet I still have no interest in doing BG.

Until the Olympics began.

Not for me, mind you, but for my wife. She is that unusual species of WoW player – a pet collector. She has pets from the CCG, rare pets, holiday pets, etc… Now that the Olympics are here she wants the Spirit of Competition, which you can only get by winning battlegrounds.

She has never done any PvP of any type. So if she wants to go into a BG, its up to me and my guildies to bring her in there. Yet we have not done it? Why?

We have no resilience. But that’s not why.

Our gear is clearly itemized for PvE. For my rogue that’s not a big deal but my wife’s resto druid has low armor and not a heck of a lot of stamina. But that’s not it either.

Its the people.

My wife remembers when I did BG in the 20-29 bracket a long, long time ago. The entire game was a long string of wannabe generals barking out commands, followed by insults, whispers, and swearing about how much alliance sucks. You had people screaming for heals when they ran in alone against five horde, others railing about how they had no one helping them carry the flag, half the players wanting to zerg, others wanting to turtle.  Everyone speaks in abbreviations that my wife can’t possibly make sense of since she doesn’t know the maps or objectives.

She decided then that PvP was not for her.

My wife and I are both experience-oriented rather than goal-oriented. What I mean by that is that we play to enjoy the experience, not for the rewards. If something is not fun, we’re not going to do it, regardless of the loot or gear that comes from it. For this reason, I doubt that she will end up getting the pet. The people in BG make the experience miserable.

Maybe she should just go into AV, close her chat window, and find a corner somewhere and run in circles. Alliance is bound to win eventually.


First impression

I’m not going to go on at length about the things I saw in the WotLK beta, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I’ll just give general impressions.

First – the parts I have seen so far are beautiful and artistic.

Second – I have done about a dozen quests, and so far I have only had two “kill X of these things” quests. That’s good, because those get old, especially in a starting zone where everyone is competing to get the same mobs as they spawn.

Third – I have yet to replace any of my epic gear with green drops or quest rewards.

Fourth – my damage is fine. I remember when I first went to Hellfire Peninsula when BC came out. I was level 60, and the Starving Hellboars were level 58 but they hit HARD. I had to bandage myself after every 2nd kill. It was really slow going (of course, I was in level 60 blue gear then, with no raid experience or tier gear). Now in Northrend at level 70 wearing T4/Kara/badge epics, I find that the mobs are no harder than the ones on Quel’Danas that we kill for the dailies. I can kill quickly and efficiently as a rogue.

I specced into some of the new combat tree talents. I’ll let you know how they work when I get some more time to observe them in action.


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)
August 2008
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