Sunday, February 28, 2010

Enjoying the fail

Sometimes a failpug can turn into something better even it's a painful wipefest. I logged my mage to do the daily random since I haven't been playing him much (it's a pain to get into pugs with a dps and mages seem to have to wait even more than other classes) and to my surprise I didn't have to wait more than 8 minutes. The party was composed of a protection warrior, a balance druid, an unholy deathknight and a discipline priest. We got into Halls of Lightning and I was expecting a fluid run. How wrong was I...

I'm not dropping aggro, I'm just chillin'
The party had two big problems. First and most important was the tank. He had good gear (over 38k hp) but was terrible at aggro generation. He almost never charged in, just ran to the mobs like he was doing a walk in the park, used few aoe aggro skills (just some demo shout and thunderclap at start and much later a shockwave, but nothing else during the fight). I didn't check what other skills he was using since I had very tough times trying to drop aggro. No matter if I waited to start dpsing, I always snapped aggro off him at the first or second cast. The slacker even never released after a wipe and just waited for the druid or priest to ress him. The druid was also running around trying to get mobs off him. He was the second problem. Before the tank started his minimal aggro building he already had started the fight pulling some mobs with Moonfire. So if the tank was bad at aggro generation the boomkin just made things worse. The deathknight was poorly equipped (green quest items and some blues) but he made all he could to save our asses. At one point he even asked if somebody had Recount. The boomkin asked "Are you sure you want to see it?", "Yes!" he replied. I was first with over 3.5k dps (and I was restraining myself to hit with full force to avoid more deaths). The boomkin was secod with 2.6k and the dk was third with only 1.6k or so. No surprise with that gear but the chap merrily replied "it's just my first heroic, sorry". The poor priest... well, she was going mad because everybody was taking damage with so many rampant mobs running around and disc spec isn't good for aoe healing, so she was casting bubbles and Penance like mad and discovered the wonders of Divine Hymn.
I was expecting to see the druid quitting after the first wipe but nobody quit during the whole run. And to my surprise nobody complained or bullied the tank for being so terrible (and I was tempted to shout at him, trust me!) If you've read previous posts from me you'll know I don't feel comfortable tanking with the warrior because I feel the aoe aggro generation isn't that good, specially when you have people covered in T9/T10/ICC gear chucking out damage like there's no tomorrow, so my biggest concern is to generate as much aoe aggro I can to keep all mobs on me. I use thunderclap, demo shout, shockwave and cleave as much as I can, switch targets to use shield slam... and despite all that I feel I'm terrible at tanking with the warrior, but the dude we had wasn't even trying. With all the ingredients of the recipe for insanity on the table people still carried on without a single word. Neither a single complain for the tank not releasing after dying like the rest did. And this way what it was a damn wipefest on trash subtletly transformed into a pleasant run because everybody (even the slacking tank) keep pressing forward to get it all done. First I was just wondering who'd be first to take the deserter debuff. Then who'd be the first to shout "L2Play!"... then how many wipes we would take until next boss... and finally, after an indecent amount of deaths and wipes we managed to oneshot Loken without problems.
For me the run was a good practice of evasive skills, reminding me a lot of the Faction Champions fight where you try by all means to avoid getting ganked, immobilising foes, dropping aggro... and do some dps meanwhile.

PS: I just had a simmilar case yesterday with my warrior, but at least the tank was competent and nobody was ninja-pulling, just everytime I hitted whirlwind I snapped aggro off the tank. When the run ended I checked Recount and found I had done 45% of the total damage, with over 3.3k dps, while the rest was at or below 1.5k So I blame the Finder for putting me in that group. They weren't undergeared, I was overgeared.

Post soundtrack: Addicted to Chaos - Megadeth

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back to Dickheadland

I check WoW news on a daily basis, sometimes more than one time per day, specially when new releases are coming. And the other day I saw a pair of news on MMO-Champion thatI'd like to highlight here in my humble blog. Both are connected also.
First thing is the frost lotus droprate. I've been complaining about the low rate in the last weeks with my guildmates. I remember some months ago you could farm Scholazar Basin and in one hour maybe get a stack of 20 lotuses. Those were the good old times. Then the drop rate was severly nerfed to 1% and all the alchemists started craving for them. And while Blizz made other professions that needed high level materials easier (no longer cooldown on titanium transmuting, purchaseable arctic fur and snowfall ink) it let Alchemy in the cold dark alley. I never understood why it offered the option to purchase an item like arctic fur (rare quality) and not the frost lotus (uncommon quality) when you have more need for lotuses than furs. You'll be quaffing potions and flasks on a daily basis (specially if you're raiding), but you're not using the furs to craft gear or enchant yours on a daily basis, so why not offering the option of purchasing the lotuses as they did with the snowfall ink? After all both rely on Herbalism and either they could ask for a stack of icethorn (since herbalism level required to gather is higher than lichbloom) or create a new skill simmilar to milling where you "transmute" X icethorn/lichblooms into a lotus. But no, nothing was done and getting these damn flowers was a nightmare that demanded a lot of time grinding an area.
Then I saw this info where the drop rate was being incremented by 50%. "About f*cking time!" I thought first. And seemed to work because the first two herbs I gathered dropped a lotus each one. But then as I continued getting herbs no more lotuses dropped. Then I saw the base drop rate was 1%, so an increase of 50% means the drop rate is now 1.5%. Ridiculous to say the least.

The second notification (see at the end) again made me cheer: finally frost lotus was available for purchase ("about f*cking time!" again), and eternal elementals too (and a new flying carpet design plus required mats reduced in high level tailoring/leatherworking/blacksmithing recipes). And all I needed for it was a humble frozen orb, those that were gathering dust in my bank after Jurnak reached 450 in leatherworking (yep, as I said before wouldn't take long).
Oh wait a minute! Frozen orbs?? No... it can't... be!! OMFG! They're back! No, not the orbs... the dickheads who click Need on frozen orbs in random pugs! You thought they were almost gone? Nooooo!! Frozen orbs are no longer these useless items you'd probably be putting into AH after winning one in a pug. So expect everybody to go Need on them. I'll change my way of rolling and let the orb the last one (they always appear on top, so it was the first to be clicked Greed). If everybody goes G then fine, no problem here. But as soon as someone goes Need I'll be needing too, and I won't give a damn shit about what the others say.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No love for the fallen

I decided to take the dust off my DK, the last char created in the Hellscream realm (but can't remember if he was the last to hit 80, I think not...) and bring him into some heroics. But to save my sanity I decided to go only as dps and not as tank. First of all he's not that well geared for today's current standards (even he'd be able to tank whole Naxx). And second it really piss me off those players who just want you to pull half the instance in one go so they can continue grinding emblems at a fast pace.
So there I was, hitting the Finder as dps and doing long forgotten quests meanwhile: the Sons of Hodir rep (although I don't need it since I have at least two or three exalted chars with them and shoulder enchants are now BoA), the Frostborn questline (for rep and the Bronzebeard reunion scene). Luckily didn't have to wait much (Finder said around 12 minutes but usually you got into the dungeon in 6 or 7 minutes), so the combo questing-emblems grinding worked perfectly. And then I saw two things that reflect the post's title:
- Few DKs can be seen now in instances. While before it was very common to get two or even three in a same run, the amount of DKs getting into PUGs seem to have dwindled a lot. This could be due two factors, the first one being the class isn't anything new and exciting any longer, but I suspect the second one is the main cause: the Finder tries to avoid having more than one class in the same group, unless they play different roles. You can see one bear and one tree, or even one cat and one boomkin, but you'll rarely see two cats or two furbies in the same group, not even one cat and one boomkin. Which is very ok since the chances to get loot (does people still needs loot from 5man unless recently dinged 80?) are more fair. But even without playing my DK I rarely get them on the PUGs I join, either as dps or tanks. Maybe it's only my battlegroup, but looks like people is tired of them and prefer good old chars.
- The second one really struck me since I experienced it several times this weekend while doing hardcores: the amount of healing I received was much below the healing other dps were receiving. Several times I went with only half health bar, without receiving any humble healing spell. Do healers really despise DKs that much? Being "heroic class" and plate wearers doesn't mean we're invulnerable or immortal (well, we already died once at least...). Luckily my dps spec is Blood so I could regenerate my hitpoints without much problems. I can understand other more squishy classes get over us in the healing priority, but even after finishing a group and heading for the next one I didn't receive any heals too. And no, the healer wasn't oom neither I was overaggroing or pulling mobs randomly.
Right now, Durnak the walking corpse in plate armour (hey Calli!) looks much better than before (3/5 T9 and a great 2-hander) and had the skills (got rid of Vampiric Blood) and glyphs tweaked, but still needs more work on the tanking set (2/5 T9 and a decent 2-hander, but still wearing some blues). I'll take a look at the current frost tanking builds and see if mine needs a revamp. Also even I like tanking on the DK (but not as much as on the pally) I prefer to keep it for guild runs if no one else is available. I could get into the Finder much faster by selecting that shield-shaped icon, but I prefer to save my sanity even if that means it takes longer to get into an instance.

Post soundtrack: Rise from your grave - Glamour of the kill

Monday, February 15, 2010


I've realized that despite the blog being based (supposedly) on my amount of alts I talk very few about them. Well, leveling 10 characters in a realm is no easy task, neither is giving to almost all of them two main professions. It costs a lot of time and money, but once you have every profession mastered then you realize that time and money was a good investment for the future. Welcome to self-sustainability.
I rarely buy things from the AH, just some recipes I'm missing or some mats I won't farm personally because either would take too long, I'm busy with other things or I'm in a rush to get some skill up to get that desired recipe. Also I rarely sell goods in the AH, except for uncommon and rare uncut gems. Almost everyhting I produce I reuse it on another char. And I've become so used to this that it's difficult for me to think how I'd do without all professions covered. I realized it was hard when the other day I decided to level a retri pally I have in another server. I have other alts in that server too, but they're very low level and without any professions, save for leatherworker if I remember correctly. The pally is a blacksmith since it's a good profession to provide gear at low levels. But then I missed my enchants on gear, the glyphs... this brought me back to the early times of WoW where even my main character didn't have his professions maximised and I had to spend tons of money in the AH or looking for someone to enchant or create something specific. Frustrating most of the times at least.
Although I have all professions I don't have all available specs (same as characters, I have all classes at max level but I don't have all specs), but since WotLK came out that doesn't make a big difference. Kurnak has always been armorsmith, weaponsmith was more attractive at level 70 in the TBC era, but he continued the armorsmith path. Now in WotlK I haven't seen any difference between both. Vurnak was fire tailor in TBC but when Wrath came switched to shadow tailoring since back then the shadow gear was better for mages and this meant other casters could use it (my shadowpriest and warlock). He is also enchanter (my only character without any farming profession). Turnak is jewelcrafter, the most demanded profession in guildchat, with enchanter on second place. Since I do the daily JC quest every day I've collected almost all available recipes. Murnak is alchemist. He chose elixir master since transmuter didn't seem so attractive back then and potions weren't as useful. In my opinion the alchemy profession needs some revamp since WotLK was launched. The extra flasks creation doesn't proc as often as in TBC (and back then wasn't that much too), so doesn't seem that chosing a speciality is such a good investment nowadays. Blizz should do something about it and change the way it works, like having to spend less mats to create flasks if you're elixir master instead of this random proc, access to specific recipes (like weaponsmiths and armorsmiths), and so on. Grimbol is the inscriber, the new profession that came with WotLK,it's a joke to level it since even high end items like the Darkmoon Faerie cards aren't that expensive to produce in mats terms. Surnak is a gnomish engineer. This profession was a pain to level and I don't find it very useful to be honest. It's a pity since both specialities (weird gadgets and big explosives) sound very fun, but in the end you won't be using a lot of what they both offer. The most used items I've seen are the flying machine, the rocket boots enchant to run around and the repair bot (the normal one, since Jeeves is such a money/time sink). Blizz acknowleged back in TBC that engineering needed "more love" and they created the flying machines, but still I think this profession is way behind others in utility terms. Finally Jurnak is the leatherworker. I got elemental leatherworking since back in vanilla WoW seemed the most suitable for rogues, the only leather user I had back then. I'm still trying to reach 450 (445 atm) and it's a pain since getting the quantity of required mats for a single item is prohibitive, either in time or money, but I'll get there eventually.
Aside from the main professions all have maximised First Aid and (almost all) Cooking. Got three miners (so I can produce 3 titansteel bars per day if needed) and three herbalists. Only Kurnak has Fishing at max level, but that's enough (since I find it a boring profession to level).
Thanks to all the chars providing all the professions I can produce virtually anything needed for my characters or for guildmates. This also means that I have to dedicate several hours (not every week tough) to farm mats for flasks or food, but this allows me to raid with all needed buffs available. If you're also playing several chars I totallyr ecommend trying to cover as many professions as possible. You'll be running to the AH or emptying your guildbank less and less.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A great and weird raid night

I find both weird and exciting when things go smooth where you were foreseeing a big disaster. Last friday night we went to raid ICC. I arrived late since I had a meeting to attend but made it on time to get into the Gunship Battle, where one of the tanks had to leave. So I got my pally up and tanked at the Alliance ship, while the other tank went for the mage in the Horde ship. This fight really seems a joke after Lord Marrowgar and Lady Deathwhisper, and specially when considering the next one, Deathbringer Saurfang. It's like some kind of holidays with free loot. Anyway we faced Saurfang and even we hadn't the most suitable classes to kite and take down the beasts easily we managed to kill him on third or fourth try. We lacked enough firepower for any of the next bosses, so we just cleaned some trash (and suffered an horrible death at Precious when he was at 8% or so) to get some rep.
Some people had to leave and we didn't have replacements to continue in ICC, so after filling the empty spots people asked where to go. Since we didn't have WG to try the new boss I proposed to take a shot at Trial of the Crusader. I knew I was calling for doom, since the only times our guild tried that instance without people from other friendly guilds it ended in an utter disaster (and call it coincidence, but I was never on these tries), but victory is only for the brave. There we went and I tried to explain tactics since I was one of the few that did the instance several times (in run with a friendly guild), but never as tank, so I was very afraid of encounters like the worms and the Twin Val'Kyrs. Surprisingly the run went like a (almost) charm. We killed the Beasts of Northrend in one go with only one casualty. Lord Jaraxxus was strangely the one that most problems gave and we wiped three times at him. Then the weirdest of all: the Faction Champions and Twin Val'kyrs were oneshotted without any problem. How can we do the most complicated and not the easiest fights? Keep in mind I didn't have much idea about the strat in Twins, trying to remember how I did it with the other guild, which auras to pick up at start and so. Finally I said: "ok, more or less I remember it was this way, let DBM tell you when to switch to what colour". And it worked, I couldn't believe it. Then Anub died at the second try and we finished ToC10 for the first time with only guild members.
People was still hungry for more (completing ToC10 was like an adrenaline injection) so the only possibilities were Naxx/CoA (eazy emblemz!) or take a tour through Ulduar. And there we went, some of us switching to alts since few items we could get from that place that were worthy. Flame Leviathan (sorry, Golf Caddy!), Razorscale and XT-002 Deconstructor were easily stomped to the ground. We skipped Ignis and went in the Antechamber, but instead of going for the easy Kologarn the main tank decided to take the Iron Council in hard more (leaving Steelbreaker the last one alive). We failed and wiped and since it was very late (around 2:00 AM) we decided to call it quits without any bitter sensation. It was a great raiding night for our humble guild. I was feeling both great and weird, since it was really great clearing ToC10 when before people couldn't even finish Beasts, but also had this strange sensation that maybe stars were aligned in the right position and next time we go there we won't get past the jormungars.
I hope I'm totally wrong about this sensation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The King is dead, long life the King!

So finally the gates to the Frozen Throne opened. And before a day passed the Lich King was already pushing up daisies. Something's rotten in Northrend and it's not Arthas' corpse. Three things are bugging me a lot about the LK fight:
1. How fast the LK went down. It was a "blind" fight. No previous test in PTR, no data published that could help you through addons like DeadlyBossMods. You had to discover by yourself which were the LK's abilities and how to overcome them. The only info published when the patch hit the streets seemed to involve some beam dance like the Netherspite fight and the access to another room/dimension like Kalecgos. Everybody was expecting a very tough fight, but it didn't last even 24 hours and the published video of the fight it seems pretty easy (although the Frostmourne room isn't shown, maybe there are the beams). This says very few about the encounter designers. Fights should be a challenge, not something you can achieve on the first try. Neither should be something impossible to get, not even by the top raiding guilds, but the amount of time passed since the fight was available it's ridiculous. Other boses in the past took more time to be defeated, but it seems Blizzard didn't take into account how easy is to get good gear nowadays so you can kill the first 4 bosses in ICC with just purchased tier gear.
I was expecting a fight of these epic proportions to last much more, with people trying different tactics, getting a bit closer with every try. In one word: progression. But no, in only some hours we already had a winner. And if you check the videos the tactics seem pretty easy. Is that all the LK can offer? Bullshit I say. Where's that dreaded character that appeared since you first set your feet in Northrend and bragged about his powers, then sparing your life because you weren't powerful enough to challenge him? Gone with the cold Northrend wind. I got the impression it wasn't the last boss in the game but just a last 5man dungeon boss. Of course I'm sure he's a tough one, but in the video looks sooo easy. At least tactics don't seem to pose any complication or involving anything new than tank'n spank and move out of fire. Since I don't want to spoil anything just go and check the video, then tell me what you think.

2. This issue has already been very well addressed by Chastity at Righteous Orbs: why must be always be a Lich King? Just check Chas' post. The argument it's so weak it doesn't have any sense: without a leader, the Scourge would go rampant and destroy all life in Azeroth. Excuse me sir, but
a) the Scourge's goal has always been to exterminate all life on Azeroth, serving the Burning Legion's plans
b) it hasn't shown any trace of following any plan or grand scheme to achieve this, at least since Lordareon was destroyed. No coordinated assaults on major cities, no undercover operations to assassinate/control the Alliance and Horde leaders... so mostly has "ran rampant in Azeroth" killing whatever they could
c) without the pressence of the Lich King and the powers he wield, almost all the Scourge should crumble to dust since they lack the demonic powers that drive them forward. Only the characters with enough power before joining the Scourge or certain degree of free will should be still alive (erm, undead, sorry). And these ones most surely whould be trying to get the LK crown and command the Scourge
d) the LK doesn't show any traces of the former Arthas "being the only thing restraining him from sweping away all life from Azeroth". And the last human remains (aside the body with Arthas' form) were destroyed in the quest Tirion's Gambit. If he hasn't launched a total assault to destroy all life it's not because what's left of Arthas was still struggling to avoid it
Ok, so without anyone as the Lich King the Scourge would cease to exist and that would break the gameplay, at least in a logical way. No problem, I see the point. But that doesn't justify why putting another person in his place. If WoW still needs to Scourge you don't need to pick somebody to wear the crown. There're other ways, more logical: the body that held the crown no longer exists, but that doesn't mean the powers it contained have vanished too. They have only dispersed and just need a new body. You don't need to sacrifice someone, just let the powers rebuild a new body, something like Sauron was trying in the Lord of the Rings. It will take time, since the power it accumulated from the start has vanished or doesn't exist anymore (looks like Frostmourne is shattered and all the trapped souls are free now, so that's less fuel to the dark powers of the Lich King), but if Sargeras' death didn't stop the Bruning Legion, why Arthas death should stop the Scourge at all? It's a very lame argument.

3. The last point is just a personal opinion about Ensidia's being suspended during three days and all achievements and loot removed because apparently they exploited a bug by using saronite bombs in the LK fight. If you read all information available to me it seems a huge pile of bullshit from Blizzard. The encounter had a bug, ok, but that was Blizzard's fault. And doesn't seem Ensidia was exploiting actively this bug. Looks like Blizz forgot the fight wasn't tested previously in the PTRs, so nobody could known that using saronite bombs (something that rogue had been doing before as part of his dps rotation) would cause the platforms to rebuild. WoW is not a perfect game and there're still a good bunch of bugs that need to be fixed. Do you expect players during a boss encounter to see why some platforms reappear again, specially on the endgame boss? This is not like that old bug people were exploiting to get to C'thun faster. Somebody found some kind of invisible ledges that let you get to the Old God faster, avoiding a lot of hard trash mobs fights. Well, that's an exploit. People who did it was punished and the bug was fixed, and that's great. I also concede that with this bug the fight may be easier, but the fight already looks easy enough without it and also they weren't exploiting actively this, it's just something that happened while they were in the middle of the fray. Now it's that important for Blizz who gets a world first? Do they care which guild downs first any boss? It's the guilds who care, since top raiding guilds are sponsorised and get money for being the first ones in achieving something. It would have been smarter to just allow this achievement for Ensidia and fix the bug asap. or at least fix the bug and let them try again. Suspending their accounts and removing achievements looks very lame, like a spoiled brat who's been beaten at a game of chess by someone who's a better player, then gets mad and tosses the board and pieces away (heh, I did that when I was a kid, I never liked being defeated and specially in a game I did not understand at all). And let me tell you this is just my opinion, I don't have any relationship with Ensidia and I couldn't care less who's getting a world first.

Post soundtrack:  Kill the King - Megadeth

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hard to post lately

It's been a long time since I published my last entry. And no, I haven't been slacking with the blog. It's just... I don't find something consistent enough to blog about. During this time I prepared two blog entries that I realized weren't worth publishing. Even the second one was a kind of revision of the first and why I shouldn't post it, but again I find the entry futile. On the other hand I haven't found any remarkable situations inside WoW worth pointing out. Not even some epic failpug. Aside from the typical Oculus quitters and some noobish tank who couldn't handle threat properly, all pugs I've done lately were very smooth. I even did several runs with the same group that worked as a charm (in fact was a guild run from another server who just lacked a healer).
Raid stiuation is at stall right now. Saurfang doesn't seem a big problem if we have enough dps to kill the beasts very fast, but we usually have problems with Precious, even not being a boss. Too many zombies running rampant. And when we finally get that doggie down (Stinky is much less problematic) we're having problems facing Festergut. Our best try so far is 68%, with the tank survivality being the biggest problem even before he releases the gas. The poor chap goes from over 45k to flatline in a blink... Anyway we're trying as much as we can, since we're a casual raiding guild and we don't go there every night. Still is great to have gone this far, I'm sure very few guilds who do casual 10man raiding have gone so far inside ICC. We've also reached the Vampire Council but haven't tried the fight yet and this week opens the Frostwing. The first boss, being completely different from anything done before seems promisingly fun and chaotic at the same time.
My chars got also some upgrades, but it's hard to play with all of them without getting burnt out, so I'm not doing lots of randoms (also the wait time if you're dps is a killer, specially if the char doesn't have any gathering profession).
So here I am, in a certain WoW impasse, trying to find something worth to be posted. Meanwhile check the blogroll list at the right side and you'll find some cool people with interesting posts.