Archive for December, 2011


Is the LFR expected or optional?

I was reading and posting in an online forum on a WoW-related topic.  In the discussion, someone spilled the beans about the ending of the Dragon Soul raid and storyline.  Another person said, “Dude, put SPOILER ALERT on that so we know not to read it if we haven’t done it yet.”

At this point, the person who had asked for the spolier alert was raked over the coals in the way that WoW trolls really know how.  They accused him of being a failure at the game because, at this point, only a total loser has not cleared the Dragon Soul in the LFR.

I stepped in to disagree, saying that I preferred to raid with my guild and so I, also, have not done the LFR raids yet.

Then the tide of opinion turned against me, saying that I should be running LFR to get gear to help with normal mode raiding.  The fact that it is super-easy was the main argument for its necessity.


I feel like I’m part of a dying breed in WoW.  The main joy of raiding for me is playing with my long-time gaming friends.  There is no thrill in loot.  Loot lost its appeal to me back in BC when epic purple gear became more common than rare blue-level gear.  My joy comes from the shared experience of overcoming the obstacle that the devs have set before us.  For that reason, I’d much rather run the raid in normal mode, using gear I got in normal mode Firelands and by running heroics.

Basically, I see the LFR as a nice alternate path for those who want/need it.  I don’t see it as a necessary part of the gearing-up process.

Am I the minority here?


Add-On dependence

Since I’ve had trouble with Curse Client this week, its made me realize what a large number of add-ons I use.

This is not intentional.  Its just “add-on creep” – meaning that over my 6+ years of playing I have gradually added more add-ons while not removing many.

Here’s what I use right now:

  • Dominos for my bars
  • X-Perl for unit frames
  • SexyMap to move and configure my minimap
  • Elkano Buff Bars for my buffs/debuffs
  • ChocolateBar (replacing FuBar) for my indicators across the top of the screen, including
    • Fubar2Broker to make my FuBar add-ons functional
    • MoneyFu to track my income
    • PerformanceFu to monitor my game performance
    • ReputationFu to track my faction reputations
    • GarbageFu to automatically get rid of crap that I loot
    • DurabilityFu to automate my gear repairs
  • OmniCC to put a timer on my cooldowns
  • Outfitter to manage my gear sets
  • Arkinventory to organize my bags
  • GoGoMount to use a different mount each time I mount up
  • Archy for my occasional dabbles in archaeology
  • FishingBuddy and FishermansFriend to make my time fishing go smoothly
  • IronChef to help my cooking go faster
  • SleekFreeBagSlots to show my free space on the toons that don’t use Arkinventory
  • StealYourCarbon to simplify restocking of basic reagents
  • SpamMeNot to block annoying goldsellers

Then there are the add-ons I use to raid.

  • PowerAuras to tell me about important procs
  • SmartBuff to remind me to rebuff or repoison
  • Deadly Boss Mods for raid encounters
  • Omen Threat Meter
  • Nug Combo Bar to show my combo points in my field of view
  • Event Horizon as a timer for my abilities
  • Recount with several plug-ins for damage/healing tracking
  • EnsidiaFails to see who messed up after a wipe
  • BigBrother to make sure that everyone has food/flasks
  • Clique and Grid on my healer characters
  • Decursive on any characters than can decurse or dispel
  • Tauntmaster on my tank toon
  • KAHolyPower for my paladin

Then there are my auction/gold-making add-ons

  • TradeSkillMaster for sheer awesomeness
  • Enchantrix to automate prospecting/milling/disenchanting
  • Postal to quickly send/receive my hundred of mails from the auction house.
  • MillHelp to see what my herbs will mill into

Plus many of these add ons use libraries which also need to be updated.

Very few of my add-ons actually have a direct impact on my game play.  On my rogue, its basically NugComboBar and Event Horizon.  On my priest and druid healers its Grid, Clique, and Decursive.  For my paladin its KAHolyPower, TauntMaster, and EventHorizon.  And DBM, of course, on any characters in a raid.  Other than those, the vast majority of the add-ons are for convenience and to automate everyday tasks or to reorganize my UI.

To keep this up to date manually would be a huge chore.  Now that Curse is uninstalled, I have to decide what to do.  How many of these can/should I remove?  How much frustration will I feel when I have to remember to do things that used to be automated (like rebuff or repair or empty my bags of grey items)?  How annoyed will I be when I start getting goldselling spam or forget to restock my poisons?  How long would it take me to get used to a simpler, more vanilla UI?  I’m so used to these things as part of my game experience.



Curse Client Virus?

Has anyone else been infected with a virus through Curse Client this week?

I have 5 computers in my house, four with WoW installed.  We ran Curse Client on two of them and got an update of the client.  Almost immediately thereafter both computers had the same virus.  None of my other computers have the virus.

The report from my antivirus program clearly indicated that the virus was in Curse Client files, and the client no longer operated after the antivirus program cleaned the system.

I’m wondering if this was just an odd happenstance, or if Curse Client users around the county are seeing this.


Assassinating Creed – probably easier for PvP rogues

I made my way through the first steps of the legendary dagger quest over yesterday and today.  I pickpocketed Hagara last night, paid the guy in Stormwind to charge the ring, and today I went to Ravenholdt and did my business there.

I thought the epic daggers were as good as mine.

I got to Gilneas and did the whole stealth run through the city.  It was a good challenge.  I chose not to look at any online guides and figure it out myself.  Solving the puzzle was good fun, if not a little frustrating.  It took about an hour and a half of trial and error until I found a good path.  More than once, I would get to a safe spot 2/3 of the way through and think, “I wish there was a save game function.”

Finally, I stood in the courtyard with Creed.  You have to kill this guy solo, which includes not only dishing out damage, but avoiding damage, self-healing, and using your stuns and interrupts.  You’d think that all of these would be easy mode for someone who has played a rogue for as long as I have (six years).

Not so fast.

I am strictly a PvE rogue.  I don’t PvP *at all*.  As a result, there are a number of rogue abilities (Combat Readiness, Gouge, Dismantle) that are not even on my button bars because they are not useful in raiding.  I don’t think I have used Gouge since Burning Crusade.  I certainly don’t have the survival habits that are second nature to PvP rogues.  My bandages and healing potions are not easily keybound, for example.

In addition, I am play an assassination rogue almost exclusively.  My assassination rotation comes almost as easily as breathing.  Of course, that’s the spec I chose to use in the fight.

As assassination spec I didn’t even come close.  In several attempts I never got him below 50%.  Without the Improved Recuperate talent my self-healing couldn’t keep up with his damage.

I switched to Combat, which I am not nearly as practiced with.  Right away, on my first try in this spec I got him below 20%.  Improved Recuperate helped a lot.  Still, though, I could not interrupt consistently and had a hard time avoiding his damage.

Eventually, my gear was all broken.  I was frustrated and annoyed.  Its not that I wanted it to be easy.  I was annoyed knowing that a lot of rogues would find the fight easy because they practice these skills all the time in PvP.  In the end, I had to completely rearrange my button bars and keybindings for this one fight to have better access to my various interrupts and damage avoidance.

In the end, I succeeded.  I did have to hearth back to SW to repair, and then re-do the stealth run through Gilneas.  I flasked up and got Well-Fed and pre-potted before attacking.  I have an iLvL of 381, so it should have been a lot easier than it was.

Someone will read this and say that I suck as a rogue.  I would disagree.  In my opinion, I am very good at my job, which is doing massive sustained damage, especially to single targets.  I’m not so good at doing the things that I am never called upon to do in raids, like stunlocking and self-preservation.

This is not a complaint.  It was a good challenge, and it took me a couple of hours all-told.  I’m only writing this to say that it won’t be easy for everyone, no matter how much rogue-ing experience you may have.  Don’t go into it thinking that it will be a cakewalk.


Tuning the Raids

The Dragon Soul raid has arrived.  Deathwing, the biggest and baddest foe we have fought, was defeated within hours of the patch going live.

Does that mean that Dragon Soul is too easy?  I don’t think so, personally.  It seems pretty on target to me.

In answering that question, I discount the accomplishment of the top guilds.  These guilds spend hours and hours on the PTR perfecting their strategy so that they can make short work of the raids when they go live.  The guilds that are competing for world-firsts are a different breed of player and should not be used to judge the relative difficulty of the content.

However, looking at my server (a medium population PvE server), there are six guilds that did a full clear in the first week, and a total of nineteen guilds that are at least 5/8.  To me, that indicates that the early bosses are probably not much of a challenge for the more accomplished guilds.

I think that some of this is due to the proliferation of heroic-level raid gear.  When Blizzard first offered up heroic raid difficulty as an option, it was meant as a further challenge for the guilds that wanted/needed that kind of challenge.  There was not an expectation, as I recall, that most guilds would do heroic modes.

Nowadays, it seems like the normal modes of the raid are seen as just a speed bump on the way to heroic modes.  They are considered a part of the progression path rather than an extension of the path.  When people say that they have cleared the available content, they don’t mean Ragnaros – they mean heroic Ragnaros.  That’s a big shift in attitude.  I don’t think that there was as much expectation among guilds to kill heroic Lich King back in Wrath.

As a test of this hypothesis, I arbitrarily chose the 15th-place guild on my server (as listed in GuildOx) and found the 15th-best geared person in that guild.  That means this is a character is probably not one of the top raiders in a guild which is not a top guild to begin with.  Upon armory inspection, that person had heroic Firelands gear on.

If a lot of guilds are walking into raids with heroic gear on, then how exactly is Blizzard supposed to tune the raids?  I think that normal-mode raids should be tuned assuming normal-mode gear.  In other words, the difficulty of the early Dragon Soul bosses should be such that it will be a moderate challenge to players in full or almost-full normal-mode Firelands gear.  Normal modes are supposed to be the norm.  That’s why they are called “normal”.

With that in mind, it makes sense that a lot of raiders would burn through the early content if they are sporting some heroic FL gear.  They will also complain that the content is “too easy” and that Blizzard is aiming the bar too low.  In fact, it may just be that heroic modes are too commonplace and they are outgearing the tuning of the raid right from the start.

What this means is that the raid is not too easy, but rather than the players have too much gear.

Its not just heroic mode gear.  There is a player in my guild who hit 85 last week and already he almost outgears me, even though I have full Firelands (normal) gear.  Gear is plentiful and easy to obtain.  Again, this makes it tough to tune the early raid bosses because you have to make it doable by people in regular 378 gear.

I’ve just fought the first three bosses in Dragon Soul and only killed one of them.  Morchok is certainly not complicated, as is appropriate for a first boss.  The next two are a fair challenge – especially on healers in normal mode gear.  I don’t think they feel “too easy”.

My hope is that the Dragon Soul heroic modes are really challenging.  If that is the case, then the heroic-geared players will settle into heroic-mode Dragon Soul and stop complaining that the content is easy.  The rest of the players can then concentrate on working their way through normal mode Dragon Soul, and the whole discussion of “easy or not” will fade away.



No, you can’t stealth to Hagara. A Guide to the Rogue Legendary Dagger questline

One of the questions I have seen from other rogues (and that I asked myself) is… can you stealth through Dragon Soul to finish the first part of the legendary dagger questline?  The answer… no.

Here’s what you have to do to get the legendary daggers.  It won’t be quick.  Even the most hardcore raider will take a couple of months to get through this.  However, Blizzard has given us an easy path to get the first stage of dagger rewards, and that’s going to be the best daggers most of us can get until (if) we get the legendaries.

Step Zero: Find the Dragon Soul raid.

Before you can start the questline, you have to find the questgiver, Lord Afrasastrasz, and he is in the Dragon Soul raid.  You can’t go into the raid solo.  You have to be in a raid group.  If you’re in a raiding guild, this is no problem.  If not you’ll have to group with someone, form a raid group, and then you can go in.  The quest giver is on your right just after you enter.  Get his quest.

Step One: Proving Your Worth

Your first quest, Proving Your Worth, says to pickpocket a Cryptomancer’s Decoder Ring from Hagara, who is the 4th boss in Dragon Soul.  Unfortunately, the path to this boss does not open until the first three bosses have been defeated.

You cannot do this in a LFR raid.  You need to be in a regular group on normal or heroic difficulty.  If you’re in a raiding guild, then you’ll get there soon enough.  If not, then you’re in a jam.

The best thing you can do is either pug the raid at normal difficulty, or buy a pickpocket spot.  If a raid group is at Hagara, they can invite you to the raid, let you stealth to the boss and pickpocket, then you can drop raid.  Arrange with a raiding guild in advance so they can invite you when they get to the 4th boss.  They may ask for several thousand gold for this service.

If there is more than one rogue in the group who wants to pickpocket, here is what you do.  Stealth to the boss and pickpocket.  Then step back and drop stealth and pull the boss.  Vanish.  When the boss resets, the pickpocket timer will also be reset, and the next rogue can take a turn.

Step Two: Pay and Wait

Once you have the Decoder Ring, you get the next quest called A Hidden Message.  You bring the ring to the ethereals who have set up shop in Stomwind or Orgrimmar.  One of them will “charge” the ring for you.  He also demands 10,000 gold for this service.  When you pay, he does his thing it but it takes twelve hours for the ring to charge.  I hope you’re not impatient.

Once the ring is charged take it to Corastrasza at the Vermillion Redoubt in Twilight Highlands.

Step Three: Back to Ravenholdt

This quest is called To Ravenholdt, and its just a travel / story developing quest.  A dragon named Mostrasz will fly you to Ravenholdt.  Why?  Well, I won’t spoil the story line, but they have something the red dragonflight wants.

Step Four: Sneaking

In the quest To Catch a Thief, Mostrasz will guide you as you infiltrate the Ravenholdt compound to find… well, I won’t say.  You have to stealth, avoid guards.  If you fail you get to try again so its not difficult.

Step Five: Gilneas

The next quest, called Our Man in Gilneas,  sends you to the Ruins of Gilneas.  You’re going to meet up with someone in an instanced version of the Ruins of Gilneas.  He’s going to give you a mission…

Step Six: A Man’s Got to Die

We’re rogues, right?  Killin’s what we do.  The next quest is to solo kill a mob in Gilneas City.  First you have to stealth to him through more guards.  I haven’t done it yet, but I hear its pretty tough.  Distract and Sap are key.

Once you get to him you have to solo kill him, and he has a two minute enrage timer with about 1.8 million health.  That means that you need to maintain around 15k dps while also keeping Recuperate up, as well as being quick on your other abilities.  Cloak of Shadows, Evasion/Combat Readiness, Blind, Gouge, Disarm, healing potions and bandages are all going to be useful in this fight.  It might take a few tries, and you’ll need some fairly good gear, but it seems doable.  This is the tough step for the first questline.

You can’t have help because your version of the area is phased.  The only way you can get help is to go with another rogue who is on the same step of the questline.  In that case, it becomes fairly easy with multiple stuns and interrupts on the target.

Step Seven: Profit!

Once he is dead, you return to Ravenholdt and get your reward.  This questline earns you the pair of daggers Fear (main hand) and Vengeance (off hand).  These are great daggers, even if they aren’t the legendaries that we’re after.

The nice thing here is that you don’t have to be a hardcore raider to do that quest chain.  YOu do need access to the 4th boss of Dragon Soul, but that’s it.  After that its just a rogue solo, using rogue abilities.  The next chain, however, requires a LOT of time in raids.  If you’re not in a raiding guild, then you can basically stop reading here because this is as far as you go.  Raiders can continue on to…

Step Eight: Collecting

You’ll get a quest called Cluster Clutch.  This asks you to do the expected gathering (just like the legendaries from Ulduar, ICC, and Firelands).  You have to collect 333 Shadowy Gems.  It seems that you can get 5-6 from each boss in Dragon Soul (not on LFR difficulty), so that means you’ll need 60-70 boss kills to complete this step.  For top guilds that is about eight weeks.  For most of us its several months.

Steps Nine through Thirteen

No one has done these yet so mot much is known.  You will have to kill a dragon in Karazhan and then you get the next level of epic daggers – The Sleeper and The Dreamer.  You’ll need to collect more stuff from bosses in Dragon Soul.  For the last step you will need to defeat Deathwing, and then you’ll get your legendaries – Golad, Twilight of the Aspects and Tiriosh, Nightmare of Ages.

Then, you’re Batman.  Not the hero Azeroth wants, but the one they deserve.

Good luck!


Dinaer casts Mass Resurrection on “Forever a Noob”

Its been over a month since I posted anything here.

Its not that I went away or stopped playing.  It was really two things…

  • Demands on my real-life time were so great that I barely had time to play the game, and never has a moment to write about it
  • I used to write some posts during down time at work, but my schedule this year has prevented that
  • There has been nothing compelling going on in the game that has me excited enough to write about

I’ve been playing the game about 3-4 nights a week (down from 6-7), mostly just logging on to raid, and then logging off after the raid had completed.  I was tired of the troll heroics and had nothing to gain by accumulating JP and VP.

My guild has continued to raid.  We just killed Ragnaros (10 man, normal) this week, which was a great achievement for us.  The guild has two raid groups going.  My group is moving on to Dragon Soul now, and the other is still finishing Firelands.  We didn’t manage to get the caster legendary staff from Firelands yet, but we’re going to continue working on it (we’ve never gotten a legendary while it was current content, so the fact that we’re close is exciting).

I won’t be playing SWTOR.  A lot of my guildies will, so my fingers are crossed that we don’t lose them.

The only non-raiding activity that was really keeping my interest was making gold.  I’ve had a glyph business since Wrath, but I have been slowly ramping up my JC/Enchanting activity.  I did a lot of work to prepare for patch 4.3, and I’ll probably pull in almost 100k in the span of the week following the patch.  I’m at over 300k gold now.  Go for a million?  Probably not, unless the next expansion offers some exciting new markets.

Patch 4.3 has brought new attention on rogues due to the presence of the Rogue legendary daggers available in Dragon Soul.  A lot of people have rolled rogues lately, so there are a lot of new backstabbers trying to learn the craft.  Also, there are a lot of experienced rogues aiming for those daggers.  Those are the issues which have brought me back to the blog.  I’ll try to post more… at least during the lull in school/band/little league baseball seasons while I have some free time.



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)
December 2011
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