Friday, March 28, 2008

Priests are OP Solo (says the Hunter, lol)

Jumped on my lvl 34 priest to grind out a quest or two during a down moment.

I really want to ding 35 to train Artesian alchemist and tailor (well, really want to ding 50 for Master, but gotta start somewhere), so I've been trying to give him a whirl whenever I get a chance.

His spec is wonky, pretty much whatever I felt like sounded good at the time I had a talent point handy.

He's got enough Shadow to get Mind Flay.

He's got three points in Holy for a better Renew.

He's got Discipline for Wand Specialization, and improved Power Word: Shield and Fortitude.

He's geared mostly in the highest level stuff he can craft via Tailoring, with a few AH greens that provide Intellect or Shadow damage.

Not a twink, but also not a first-time toon who has no gold or clue about gear.

Questing in northern Stranglethorn Vale, there's a cave where I had to go in and grab Bookie's stuff.

As I slowly kill my way in there, its not too bad. Guys at or slightly above my level, pretty easy to kill, but they sometimes pull a friend which makes it a bit dicey.

Getting deeper into the cave, two level 39's come running out and there's corpses all over the place.

Cool, I'll zip in there since they just killed everything.

Deeper, deeper, deeper, the corpses thin out, and then I see the sparkly quest objective surrounded by a few lvl 36-37 elites.

what, What, WHAT?

Ok, I've come all this way, lemme try this one guy that's not a caster and is all by himself.

Mind Blast
Mind Flay
Shadow Word: Pain


Mind Flay

Ok, first guy dead. At the end of the fight, I'm at full health, mana is down but Spirit Tap runs its full course and I'm at full mana.

Are you kidding me? Is this part of the patch 2.3 nerf? The guys show up as Elite, so I suppose not. And even if non-elite, they're still 2 or 3 levels above me. Dead.

I can do this.

Yeah. Next guy, same routine, but he gets a little far away from me and pulls a friend.

Ok, np, mix in a Psychic Scream to buy some time, and two dead elites, both above my level.


Now the respawn was crazy. These guys came back so fast, I had to really move.

So I quickly loot the quest item.

Kill a few guys near me.

Then I notice that because of those two departing 39's at the cave's entrance, I had Easy Street on the way in, since they had killed everything. Yeah, not so much on the way out.

Decide to run for it.

Shield & Psychic Scream.

Run run run. Renew. Run Run Run.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I made it all the way through the winding cave like this, to within an inch of being outside and into relative safety.

The good news is that for killing the elites that were three levels above me, I was getting somewhere around 1800 XP per kill, including rested bonus.

Blew through half of level 34 in about 20 minutes. w00t.

I tell ya, Priests are OP


How to Get Nine Badges in One Night

How's about...kill five raid bosses!!!

Lest this become a wall of text that drives you batty, how's about a summary:

If you're only skimming, try this one and this one, they might be more interesting. Who knows?

AddOns stink, at least on patch day

Wednesday night was our first Karazhan run in the 2.4 era.

That pretty much means that nobody's got their UI or their addons squared away.

Omen was the biggest issue, as the out-of-the-box Omen is a drop shaky. Gotta really play with the options configuration to get it the way you want it, versus in the past it was pretty much how everybody wanted it without much fuss. Biggest thing is that the aggro sound alert turns back on when you install the new version, so through the night as each person got their omen working, you'd hear them grumble about the silly aggro noise.

Lots of "oh man, i dont have dbm or bigwigs working". Ouch, those are pretty helpful, it'll be interesting to see how much benefit they supply for fights that're more or less on farm status. I wouldn't try Aran without them yet :-)

X-Perl is the schiz

As part of my clean sweep of AddOns with this patch, I tried replacing Perl Classic Unit Frames with X-Perl.

Love It.

Somewhat scary how impossibly many config options there are, but during the very early part of the raid, I tweaked as much as I could, and I'm loving it.

The biggest things I notice over Perl Classic:
1) Easy view window for all tanks and their targets. That's one of the key things I was looking for.
2) Nice easy to swallow view of the whole raid. .
3) Buff comparisons. Mouse-over your own well-fed buff and it'll show you a summary of all raid members who DON'T have the well-fed buff. Tsk tsk. Same goes for Fortitude and other such castable buffs.
4) Ready Check. X-Perl shows the whole raid's responses to a ready check which Perl Classic didn't provide for me.
5) Overall cleaner appearance.

One thing X-Perl does is remove the icons for any buffs or debuffs that I have on my toon from their normal position by the mini-map, and moves them over to right by my unit frame.

Will take some getting used to, but I think the added screen real estate will pay out.

Crit Alert, where's my bloop???

Kill Command is my friend. When not button mashing my shot macro, due to needing to watch my threat levels when FD is on cooldown or resisted, or when not button mashing due to needing to manually weave shots during various haste effects (rapid fire, improved aspect of the hawk) I need to know when I crit so I can invoke Kill Command.

Crit Alert bloops audibly to let me know when that happens.

Its not working, and seems to be the only site that hosts it, and curse was down at the time also.

Luckily, I have the best GF in the world and she offered to be my addon and watch the Kill Command icon and make a bloop noise anytime it activates. Love ya, babe!!

Attumen drops leather gloves

But oh well, lets roll.

Scheduled start time: 9:00
First Pull: 9:03

w00t. Everybody took it to heart that we want to move through this stuff and get to the goodies. Starting on time is clutch.

Moving through Attumen's stable, our main tank was setting a nice pace. Still room for improvement, but the only limiting factor was him marking targets and waiting for patrols to leave, never really worrying about mana issues.

Insane with nobody's Omen working though. Hardest part was that one of the tanks didn't even have an omen installed. Most pulls, no problem, just stay under the other tank. On Attumen, for part of the fight, they're tanking different guys and we need to focus on the non-omen tanked one. Crazy, but thankfully none of my FD's were resisted.

Very nice. Dead Horsie.

Drops Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation.

Nobody wants them. For me, they represent a moderate attack power and agility upgrade, at a loss of (A) some intellect, and (B) the 2-piece Beast Lord set bonus that reduces trap cooldowns by 4 seconds.

Not sure how I feel about them.

For trapping, I suppose I can keep the beast lord gloves in my bag and equip them anytime I'll be chain trapping (heroics, certain trash pulls, etc). I'm sure I'll end up forgetting to switch, so that may be problematic.

But the intellect decrease. Hmmmm?

I asked the group if they mind if I roll need, with the plans of testing them out to see if they're truely an upgrade or not.

Er'body is cool with that so w00t on new gloves.

Now to blow a nice chunk of gold on a +15agi enchant and two gems, then use them for a sustained fight like Curator and see how my numbers change. Will the attack power and crit provide more benefit than the reduced mana pool will gimp? We'll have to wait and see.

And besides, they're purple !!!!!!

Moroes dies without fuss

Pish posh. Nuttin to speak of here. Dead boss. 2 more badges for me.

Maiden looks more like Hillary every time I see her

Nuff said. 2 more badges. Great job by main tank and main repentable healer (since the Pally had Blessing of Sacrifice up, he was not repentable) proactively kiting the boss when Repentence was on the way, thus allowing the consecration to very quickly wake up a Holy Priest.

Romulo & Julianne die within 10 seconds of eachother

This one was fun!!!

We pull up to the stage. For the first time ever, we decide to NOT make somebody strip and die in an effort to discover what event it is. We're all familiar with the 3 choices, except for the other hunter who has only seen Oz. Bah, if its red riding hood, newbie hunter just feign and stay dead till debuff wears off. If its R&J, just listen to Amava call out what DPS target to be hitting and don't open fire during transitions until tank has solid aggro.

Ok, its R&J. Gave us trouble the first time we saw them, but we killed them the next night, not too easy, not too tough.

Ah, but our Rogue called in sick, so we're going to have to switch it up. The two mages will stay on Julianne during phase 3 and do their interrupt that's got a 30 second cooldown, and the tank will shield bash.

We get through phase 1 and 2 easy as pie.

Phase 3. Some heavy DPS on Romulo, and the two Mages on Julianne.

Romulo down to 12%, switch to Julie.

Julie consistently getting interrupted, but with a 30 second cooldown, and a tank who's Deadly Boss Mods isn't working so he can't reliably interrupt with his shield, she's healing herself regularly.

It's taking us forever to burn her down.

And forever.

And the tank who is still handling Romulo calls out that with just him attacking for threat-generation purposes, Romulo's getting close to death.

Crapola. Julia is at 25%, oops, nope, just landed another heal, 56%.


Romulo at 3%


KK, you got mana pots, drink them. You got DPS cooldowns to blow, blow them. You got interrupt ability, f-ing interrupt.

Like magic, we all of a sudden got our act together with the interrupts.

Tank calls out that Romulo's at 1%

Julianne dies

Romulo dies.

We loot!!!!

Felt great to realize just seconds before the fight that we didn't have our roguely interrupts, and adjusted our strat immediately and on the fly. Couldn't have asked for better execution by the team, especially near a WoW patch that's left many of our addons inoperable.

Curator gets reprogrammed

I guess the menagerie isn't just for guests after all, b1tch!!!

Although we did accidentally pull him while clearing trash and he showed us what he thinks of us (wipe).

The Ground Shakes in Cali

While deciding who would get the T4 gloves that dropped (the ones that priests and maybe warriors can use, thus meaning 4 of our teammates have to fight for them), the Holy Paladin shouts all startled on voice...


um? what?

He was gone for a while, and we all sat in bewilderment, wondering if he's ok.

He comes back a while later and said that there were two earthquakes right by his house, and everything's fine.

Never been happier to live in Western New York, where the chicken wings are hot, the snow is cold, and the fault lines are dormant.

Kudos all around

At this point, we're 2 hours and 25 minutes into our raid, and I'm dancing a jig on Curator's corpse.

We're trying to decide what to do next?

Head for Shade of Aran? Nah, he's still really tough for us, and we'd rather not try him at the tail end of a late night.

Head for Chess Event? Nah, any trash we clear will respawn unless we kill Aran, and since we'll be doing Aran next time, that only means about 20 extra minutes to clear over to Chess on that night.

Ok, lets go to bed.

Couldn't have asked for a better opening night of the raid week.

All the farm bosses were killed. Not too many unnecessary deaths.

We did all this with marginally functional threat meters, and an assortment of other dead addons.

9 Badges. Hey, at this rate, I'll might be able to get the sweet new badge crossbow some time in 2008 :-)

What's that you say? Not BoP anymore?

Following a Karazhan run last night, the post-raid conversation was two-fold.

The first and most amusing part of the discussion was about damage meters. Nobody had a DM working for the run, so we'll all have to wait for the WWS report to see how we did. The biggest edge-of-your-seat thriller was that our Warlock who is normally the #2 DPS'er got some new piece that gave him some spell haste, so we're all anxious to see how that'll improve his numbers. And everybody wants to see the resident BM Hunter DPS juggernaut get toppled (or at least I do, just to spur me on to hit the BG's for those last two PvP items that'll be raiding upgrades for me).

Once the damage meter predictions were winding down, we all talked about how the patch changes things.

Warlock says "What? Primal Nethers are no longer BoP? You mean I can sell the 10 that I have sitting in my bank?"


Then he goes "Sweet, I'm a couple grand shy of epic flight, so this'll help."

Now the gears start turning in my head.....

Well, our raid is covering more and more territory on any given night, and my 20-slot quiver is starting to look a little too tight.

I've been trying to save up 99 Light Feathers without resorting to buying them. I dunno why. They're pretty cheep and readily available at the AH, but I magically became stubborn on this issue back when the quiver first came into the game (patch 2.3, mayhaps?). I've saved up 93 of them.

Check my friends list. My favorite Leather Worker is on and not in a raid. Cool. Can you make me that quiver if I scrape up the mats? Sure, swing on by Shadow Moon Valley.


So, I decide that a friend in need trumps my gold savings plan and my feather saving stubborness.

Plus, the AH doesnt have any Primal Airs listed, and Mr. Warlock also had a couple of those.

So he's a bit closer on his way to his epic mount, and I've got a sweet sweet new 24-slot Quiver of a Thousand Feathers.

One totally semi unrelated many times do you end a raid, and then knock out a couple daily quests before running a WWS report, feeding the geese, then going to sleep?

And when you start your quest, oh I dunno, how about Skettis scrambled eggs, how many times have you wondered why the eggs blow up but you dont get credit? Or that damn chicken wing wont drop no matter how many Kaliri your Holy Priest plucks?

I wish they'd change Daily Quests to be do-able whilst in a Raid Group.

I mean, come on. Nobody is forming a raid just to more easily tackle the ridiculously easy content in a Daily Quest. But it would be nice from a social perspective to be able to stay in the raid group to stay in touch and bask in the glory of the raid while closing out your night.

kk, off soapbox.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

And now for a break from the gloom

Ok, ok. I bought a bottle of Negativity-b-Gone and sprayed it all over my little cage at work, so why not get into some of the nicer things in WoW...such as a new Karazhan Raid ID and a fresh instance.

And also, I'll start off the post with a promise that I won't end the post with a series of self questions and self answers. I promise.

Wednesday night will be our first raid of the week.

The team enters with high hopes of blasting through the early bosses.

I enter with high hopes of being free from the patch 2.4 hype for a couple hours and focus on our tried and true teamwork and boss killing. And some badges that I can save up for the seemingly unattainable new badge loot.

So what does Wednesday night mean to us?

The goal is Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Opera, and Curator, all within our 3-hour scheduled raid.

Sounds reasonable, yes?

We entered last week with the same aspirations, but it didn't happen.

I'd like to blame it on the Opera Event. We had never encountered Romulo & Julienne before, and couldn't beat them the first night, so we stalled there, with both Opera and Curator waiting for us on our second raid night.

But I can't really blame that. To help balance Real Life, the team is really trying to stick to raids that do not extend beyond 3 hours. Of course, trash respawns typically govern how long we spend and that normally leaves us calling it a night before the 3 hour timer is up, but that becomes less relevant as we get more bosses on farm status.

Last wednesday, we were nearing the end of our time as we started the Opera Event, so it was not going to happen even if we one-shot R&J.

This led to Amava's pep talk. Go Team! Go Team!

  • Sign up, even if only to indicate that you'll be absent, on Group Calendar at least a day in advance that is if you can get a working copy of GC on patch night :-P

  • Show up on f-ing time!

  • Drink the second you're out of combat.

Main Tank is on board! He lets the team know that on the trashy trash that we all know and love, if he sees healers at 50% mana or better, he's pulling, so get ready.


I know we have the capability to do it. We have the gear, the knowledge of trash pulls, the familiarity of these early boss fights, and the team skill to get it done.

Its just up to execution to see if we can pull it off. Sure, new bosses like last week's R&J and SoA are nice, but the ability to execute on the first raid night is the next big step of progress for the team. Getting all bosses through Curator done on the first night will allow us to face Aran on our second night. I don't want to underestimate how many tries it'll take to kill him again, as we just barely squeaked by when we did kill him.

If all goes as planned, that'll leave our last night of the week for testing out a new boss.

Who is good to hit next? Illhoof? Netherspite? Prince?

See, I promised it wouldn't be self questions and answers. Just questions :-P

Quests are getting stupid

Ok, maybe I'm riding a big negative wave surrounding the patch, but whatever, I'll try to spread my gloomy grey cloud over the biggest AoE I possibly can.

I avoided the new zone on patch night.

The next morning, was back to functioning, I got my addons all squared away, and figured I'll go take a peek.

Talk to a couple random NPC's and I'm off on a couple quests.

At this point, it becomes impossible not to notice that Quest Helper is lacking information for quests in the new zone.

And it immediately made me realize how stupid most questing is in WoW.

Its just the same d@mn thing over and over.

Go kill some mobs that we're not going to tell you where they are. As an added twist to break up the monotony, maybe the quest will involve not just killing the mobs, but looting some specific item off them. Or maybe you gotta right click something while targeting their corpse to get credit. And finally, to make things really interesting, how about you take those things you just looted, walk over to a hovering crystal, and then right click.

Ok, Ok, I understand how tough it must be to develop different patterns than this. I'm not really bashing Blizzard or anything. Clearly there's some appeal to the patterns they create, as we all are drawn to do them over and over.

Quest Helper makes this silly pattern SO much less nauseating.

I really think that the problem is that using in-game resources only, there is NO way to actually figure out where the mobs, or crystals, or droppings that you need are.

The quest giver provides a minimal hint. That's it.

Not like in fun games of yester year like Zelda or the slightly-less-well-known-but-really-fun-anyways Shining Force and Shining Force II: Shining in the Darkness for Sega Genesis. In those kinds of games, you can at least talk to a variety of NPC's and gain more and more information and clues about what you've got to do and where you've got to go.

Even if its still ultimately a grind, you at least feel like you could, if you so desired, gather up the puzzle pieces and solve the problem on your own. WoW throws that away. There's two choices for questing in WoW: randomly brute force your way all over the place in the hopes that you find what the quest is looking for (gag me with a spoon), or look the info up at some third party site.

Quest Helper takes 90% of the grindy grind part of the game that I dislike and removes it.

So, wonderful folks that develop and maintain QH, please, pretty please, with sugar on top, get some Isle of Quel'Danas info loaded soon.

Will I get the quests done without your fabulous tool? Yes.

Will it drive me nuts looking up quests on wowhead? Totally.

Will QH be updated with the new quests any time soon? Pretty please?

Am I a ninny who the old-school players would frown upon for being so weak in the knees as to be addicted to a crutch like QH? Lolyeah.

Do I care what those coconuts think about how I play my video game? Not for a second!

Patches Drive Me Nuts

Ooohhh, the patch came out.

Primary thing I like about that is that everybody's gonna stop talking about it soon, and we'll be back to business as usual. There's something about this whole patching phenomenon that drives me nuts.

On the surface, you could think that my beef with patches is due to the long download of the patch itself. Took about an hour or so to download. Not too bad, I wanted to take a walk with the gf and pup anyways, despite the freezing rain :-)

Then there's the scramble to find updated copies of your addons. I get most of mine through, which had some big issues on patch night (edit: however, by the next morning, they were doing fine). I think my addons were getting out of control as I had been randomly experimenting with different ones over the past few months. I took this opportunity to blast my AddOns folder and start clean.

Once that's all done, then you can log in and try to actually get those addons to work properly. Most were ok, but a few were strange at first. I'm also stupid and switched to X-Perl unit frames rather than Perl Classic. Seems good at first, but huge amount of customization can be done, which added to the overwhelming feeling.

Ok, by then it was 10:00pm or so and I'm finally able more or less stable (computationally, not emotionally) and I can play.

First thing you get is the BOMBARDING of guild and general chat wanting info about the new zone, random hugely unconfirmed rumors about new stuff, invites to run the new dungeon, complaints about addons, and so on.

I honestly think this last part is what drives me nuts.


I just don't understand the rush. And this is coming from a person who admittedly suffers from a huge imbalanced sense of urgency that at times becomes crippling, driving me towards a goal.

But everybody's rush to play the new dungeon. Do the new quests. Get the new loot.

I don't get it.

I actually switched my chat panel over to the combat log, just so I wouldn't have to look at it all.

Got to the point where my friends were blindly sending party invites to talk to me, since I couldn't see, and therefore respond, to whispers. "wanna run mr.t?" no thx, ima get some sleep, c u in kara tomorrow

I dunno, maybe I'm a fuddy duddy buzz kill, but I really don't buy into the hype.

Am I excited to run the new dungeon? Sure!

Do I want to try out the new quests? No doubt!

Am I going mental to cram it all in the first night? Nope!

I'm just going mental from the unbelievably out-of-control sense of urgency that's going on all around me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Raid Quests

One part of raiding that I didn't really think about or expect is the fun of raid dungeon quests. Most specifically, the sense of team spirit they build in a pioneer group as we each complete them together.

So far, there's two that stand out in my mind in Karazhan.

The first is the Violet Eye faction reputation grind and the new rings that come with each new level of reputation. Since we're a pioneer group (meaning that none of us are Black Temple raiders who, for what ever reason, have decided to drop back to a more casual pace and environment), which means that we all ding the next tier of reputation relatively near eachother.

Sure, due to missing a night here or there, and due to different levels of PUG'ing kara runs before we got organized, we're not totally synchronized on our new rings, but there is a nice feeling when a team member hits a new level and is getting a shiny new ring.

Our first guy hit Exalted last night and got the fanciest ring. Much joy to be had.

Then shortly after, with our guild first kill of the Shade of Aran, we got to experience another one of the quests. Pleasant coincidence to read Big Bear Butt today to see Casieann's description of the same chain of events.

The quest chain involving Medivh's Journal is one that the entire pioneer group is on, at the same point in the quest.

Loot Shade's body for Medivh's Journal. Then trot back through the trash-free halls to the library room. Clear the one pack of mana guys that's around the quest guy, which you skipped earlier for speed.

Oh, and add to the main tanks repair bill by letting him die in the process, but oh well, we were so pumped from the boss kill, I don't think he cared at all.

Turn in the Journal, and get some other book. Walk out to some terrace, read the book, watch as a sweet dragon (why can't the netherdrakes look like this guy???) and Medivh duke it out for a little bit. Then watch the dragon disintegrate into a skeleton.

Then break out of your raid group and form two 5-man groups and loot the bone fragment.

And then the fun begins. Everybody take the portal to Shattrath, and then fly up to Area 52.

Just good clean fun watching everybody hop onto their preferred method of air transportation, including another guildie that got his epic flight, w00t.

Now we're all itching (but it might not be itches of joy, i'm not sure) to run Heroic Shattered Halls and Heroic Sethekk Halls to finish off the next step.

I wonder how the new distractions with patch 2.4 will delay our ability to finish those two dungeons off.

Slim Shady

Running a wednesday, sunday, monday karazhan schedule can be stress inducing.

Not so much due to the time schedule, quite frankly, that's working out nicely since we put in the fixed schedule raid nights and times.

The stress comes on the monday night raids. Its do or die night. If you're stuck on a progression boss, you gotta kill him that night before the server reboots and the raid ID resets.

Sure, if your guild raids tues/wed/thurs, and strictly sticks to only those three days, you might experience the same feeling on thursday, but there's something about the finality of a raid ID reset that really kicks in the urgency.

This monday, we showed up ready for Shade of Aran.

If you don't want to read the boring stuff, skip to the money shot.

We had cleared through and including Curator earlier in the week, so tonight we were going straight for Shade and had hopes of Chess as well.

Keep nudging the main tank with a Mithril Spur to keep him moving swiftly through the trash. We need as many boss attempts as possible if we're going to get this one right.

Pretty uneventful clearing up to the Shade, as we're all getting pretty familiar with the trash pulls. Nice.

Boring recap of how the fight(s) went down will follow, but in a nutshell...basic strategy:

1) Interrupt everything. Two warriors and one rogue, each assigned a school of magic to interrupt.

2) Mage do whatever they do. Counterspell? Spell Steal? Not sure, but either way, the mage knows and is ready to do it.

3) Amava to call out on voice when the three special abilities are cast and then gone (and you're free to move about):
a) Flame Wreath, naturally, DONT MOVE A F-ING MUSCLE!
b) Arcane Explosion, run, although it'll feel like you're walking, to the outside of the room. NOW! And don't forget to recall your pets.
c) Blizzard. There's still some holdouts saying we should stand still and just take the blizzard on the chin. Nope, not for me. I'm running, and I can cast some shots while on the move, and then find a spot to stand and pew pew for a few seconds and then move again. Anybody with instant cast spells, FOLLOW ME!!!!

4) Elementals. Warlock to fear and banish two of them until they despawn. One Tank and Rogue go find the other two elementals and occupy them while we fry them.

That's about it.

First try: Nobody believes me that we should move out of the blizzard. We do ok but then die, due to healers having to mop up waaaay too much party damage.

Second try: A nice wonderfully helpful Holy Priest decides to follow me through the blizzard shuffle. As we corpse run, he shares how much better it was running through the blizzard and how much less healing SOME of his assignments required.

Third try: Everybody move through the blizzard as much as you can. Dunno what happened here, I think the tank missed one of the arcane explosions and took massive damage, followed by some of us shufflers getting caught by the blizzard anyways. :-(

Fourth try: Aran had a bone to pick with Amava. He decided to open up the fight by making me eat 15,000 worth of Arcane wonder, thus removing 30% of our DPS from the fight. I don't remember getting caught in an Arcane Explosion, and I think it was un-interrupted Arcane Missiles that nailed me. I can't tell from the WWS report which it was, just that it was from the arcane school of magic. But with a max hit for 9,000, its sure looking like an Explosion.

Now the trash respawn timer is showing about 35 minutes remaining.

I want to try Aran more, as I can feel we're getting close, and just need more experience moving and reacting as a team. Some others are insistent that we go for the Chess Event before the raid resets for the week. That makes sense, hard to pass up 2 badges and some possible epic loot.

Raid Leader puts it to a vote, Chess wins. Ok, I'm game. Let's get some badges and call it a night.

Clear up to Chess. This week, I moved from my usual left-most Water Elemental to a Horsey. Much more fun, as I actually got right next to the king and helped burn him down lickety split.

As the Horde King got down to about 15%, I looked at the trash respawn timer. 15 minutes remain.

So I call out that if we move swiftly through loot distribution, we can take one more shot at Aran.

Some moaning and what not, I think some folks are burned out from the 4 wipes. But, we're still well within our 3 hour window for the schedule raid. In fact, my first Flask of Relentless Assault still has 11 minutes on it, so we're still under 2 hours.

Come on, folks! We're the pioneers!

A little sales job by yours truly, but in the end, wisdom prevails and we head on in.

Fifth try: Everybody stay the F out of the Blizzard. Amava, pay special attention to the 3 special abilities and call them out on voice clearly when they're first cast and then when they're clear. Everyone, listen for the call outs and react accordingly.

Warlock, get ready for the chain fear and banish on the elementals. Yes, I know it'll gimp your dps, but dead boss >> topping charts, says the guy who's on top ;-)

kk. go go go!!!

Not the prettiest fight by any stretch of the imagination. We made it through lots of flame wreaths, arcane explosions, blizzards, water elementals, and polymorphs.

Only a couple of us are still standing. The dead spectators are starting to squee as Aran's health is dropping.


Arcane explosion on its way. Everybody shouts out to just shoot and kill him before the explosion.

No way. 2% of 880,000 health is like 16,000. At 1000 DPS that'll take me too long to burn down before the explosion. I run to the outside of the room, and WHOMP, the explosion stops about a meter away from my feet. Takes some people out with it.


Real life spectators (one human, one K9) getting antsy. You can feel the electricity in the air.

Corpse spectators getting antsy. A few "come on, kill him, 1% man" shout outs were heard from dead party mates.

Although unconfirmed, anonymous sources have reported that Amava was heard to allegedly have shouted "DIE YOU MUTHA F-KAAAAAAAHH" over voice in response.

Amava's got no mana, dead pet :-( , everything on cooldown, just praying for a proc from Hourglass of the Unraveller or Improved Aspect of the Hawk or anything, just anything to bring this b@stard down.



Far and away, the single most satisfying boss kill ever.

This one really left us trembling.

Everybody was pretty wired up, so we had to head up to Blades Edge Mountains and kill some dragons to vent some of the energy.

What are you looking at?

This one goes out to all you hardcore analysts who look at WWS reports and know wtf all that data means....

When you look over a WWS report, what are you looking for?

For me, being enormously narsicistic, I look over my own stats first. I typically review each boss fight, looking for things like missed shots, how did my crit % compared to what my paperdoll % says it should have been, the ratio of DPS coming from me and my pet, that sort of thing. And, of course, there's the general ego stroking that comes from doubling the nearest damage dealer's output, like here or here.

If there's another hunter, I can look over his stuff and maybe notice something helpful I can pass along to him. Most common things I notice are unacceptably high rates of missed shots, little or no Kill Commands, and too little use of Steady Shot (sure, not all of us are BM's who should have a very high number of SS's, but still, any spec would use SS to some extent).

What do you look at for other classes?

I don't know a whole lot about the spells and attacks of other classes, and so basically the only thing I can look at is the miss/resist column and if that's unreasonably high I know one area the player can improve.

If there's two members of the same class, with dramatically different DPS output, I can try to make educated comparison between their two different types of attack. But what about when you've got two mages, hugely different damage contributions to the party, but one's Fire and the other's Arcane? The spells don't really overlap so its tough to compare.

I guess I'll just stick to looking at the ego stroking bar charts :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scrooge McDuck

Just dinged 9,000 gold, and my 10,000 savings goal is within a week or so reach, without too much fuss. Just complete a handfull of dailies and farm herbs along the way, and I'll be all set.

The question then?

And this makes me think of similar things in real life.

Have you ever saved RL money towards a goal? What's the first thing you do when you hit that goal? Spend it. Strange.

Have you ever lost weight or reached an exercise goal? What's the first thing you do to celebrate? Lin's Chinese Buffet. But of course, poor Old Man Lin went out of business since you were single handedly keeping him profitable before your diet, but that's neither here nor there.

Once I save my 10k, what am I going to do? Probably spend it.

Only two real things I can think of to spend on...

  1. Alt professions. I've got an engineer that could use a boost from 225 to 300, a tailor/alchemist who's going to ding 35 any day now, thus opening up the door to level from 225-300 in those two. I've also got a little baby Jewel Crafter who could level up a bit, but she's only level 11 at the moment so not too much gold to dump there.

    I could spend on collecting every recipe I can find for those professions. Not hugely practical, but then again, what's the point of a pile of virtual money? Any more practical than a pile of virtual recipes?

    Seems the only limiting factor on my spending here is the speed at which I can level the toons.

  2. A Cenarion War Hippogryph. Why? Just because. I get bored of the Netherdrake sometimes, and the Aether Ray isn't all that much fun. The normal Swift Purple Gryphon is pretty cool, so why not a totally pimped out skinny crack-head version that's a 2k gold dump? Yeah, Baby!!!

    Of course, that means I'd need Cenarion Expedition Exalted. My speed run through Slave Pens leaves me 170 reputation points away from Exalted, so either splurge on a couple Coilfang Armaments or get 2 or 3 other people and kill the first few mobs in Steam Vaults.

    I've never seen one of these puppies flying around my server, so I might just have to do that.

There supposedly is a new sweet bow or gun from a world boss that's changing to BoE in the next patch, so maybe I'll wait for one of the fancy pants guilds on my server to put one of them up for sale, and then cry myself to sleep as I part with some ridiculous sum of gold for it, but oh well.

My jury is still out on what is a reasonable nest egg to walk into the next expansion pack with. Something's nagging in my head saying that the economy will be roughly 5x inflated, similar to how the economy from original WoW to BC expansion jumped about 5x (using only the fanciest mount/riding training as the measure, as its the game's biggest gold dump).

That would lead me to wanting 25k gold before WoTLK comes out, but I'll have to see how much damage my upcoming spending binge will do before I commit to something that lofty.

Speedy Gonzales

Had the wonderful opportunity to run Heroic Slave Pens the other day. Me and three of my normal cronies from the guild, and a PUG tank. Beautiful little teddy bear.

Here's the kicker..the teddy bear was formerly in our guild. When the very first Kara Team 2 sorta formed and fizzled, he was one of the ship jumpers who sided with the Team 2 raid leader who basically spent 5 minutes swearing at the guild before /gquitting.

This was a month and a half ago.

In a small isolated answer to my question on the fate of ship jumpers, this Druid has found himself a spot with one of the server's most advanced Alliance guilds. Damn Druids, when he left us he had no gear, changed spec nearly daily, had nothing but a giant ego and horrible attitude.

For the life of me, I don't know why we invited him onto the team because the split really was on bad terms, but in the end, I'm sure glad we did.

Heroic Slave Pens. We've all done it a million times, pretty much know the routine by heart.

Start off the dungeon, the first pull is three lobsters who are zipping around a curve at top speed, pretty much meant to surprise wipe anybody new.

Ok, bing bang boom, down they go.

Before you can say "boo", he's bear charging off into the next pack that patrols in a big horseshoe shape.

Woah?!?!?! Nice shootin', tex!!!

We sorta recover and kill them off, although he did start trying to multi-tank the one he marked as my turkey, which was kinda strange.

Kill the pack, some folks start to mana up and he pulls the next guy.

All the while, on voice chat, he's being rather pleasant, a dramatic change from the former guy we used to run with, who was all full to the rim with pi$$ poor attitude.

Ding dang doom, we smash through the instance, exactly 59 minutes from pull to portal.

I honestly don't even think he was that good a tank, but good enough. However he just did an awesome job setting a pace that was right there at the edge of our ability.

By far the fastest I've ever blown through that dungeon. Seems to be a nice thing that he learned by jumping ship and joining a real raiding guild (damn druids, i'd like to see what that same guild would say if some stupid @ss nelf man-chick hunter wanted to join. did i mention that he can throw down a sustained 1000 dps? nah, i'm he's not looking at the moment, but thanks for askin).

Now I find myself wanting to ask one of my tanks to respec to Fury for a day, run with this guy, so he can see what pace we need to be running at if we want to make more progress in a fixed-time schedule single night of raiding, which will then allow me to maybe get some sleep?

How do you guys get your tanks to pick up the pace, without running too aggressively out of mana?

Because what a h3ll of a difference it makes, knowing that in a spare hour you can just waltz in and pickup 3 badges. A far cry from the four hour, one badge, heroic wipe-a-thons we used to do a month or two ago.

I'll have the R&J with Sauteed Curator, and a side of Shade

Mmmmm, Kara.

Walk in there to get back in the saddle and tell Romulo and Julienne what they can do with their little star-crossed love.

Our first time running into the pair on wednesday was pretty sloppy, but then again, the whole night was sloppy, so I won't hold it against the bosses.

Sunday night was pay back night.

Start off the fight, nearly a minute into it, the warlock pulls aggro, gets one-shot, and we limp along.

Substitute player (druid) doesn't have the voice on because "its raining here down in south america". No joke, that was his actual reason for not having his voice chat turned on.

So I call out on voice for a combat rez of the dead warlock, since he's a big enough contribution to our total DPS that without him, we're pretty much up the creek.

Well, a minute goes by, no combat rez and I remember the guy doesn't have voice, so I fire out a /rw and warlock gets rezed, too late, and helaers are out of mana, and we die.

Grrrrrr. Not the note I wanted to start the night on.

Try again.


Just by the skin of our teeth, the main tank died about 10 seconds before the two bosses died, so Julie ran around untanked one-shotting a couple folks before she died.

But they're dead, and we've successfully beaten each of the three Opera events.

Curator...pew pew pew, break 1000 DPS again, felling pretty good. Rogue T4 gloves drop, so he was feeling very good.

After I ran the WWS report, it was very cool to see we killed him in 5 minutes 9 seconds, which is substantially faster than the 8 minutes it took us the first time we killed him. That means the team is targeting the flares faster, and just in general, improving their damage output.

Clear to shade. Time to try this boss event again, and see if we can't have a more favorable outcome.

Its been decided that all ranged players (dps or healers) will stand behind the tables, which MIGHT keep you safe from Blizzard damage.

Nope, I was getting hammered by the Blizzard. We did OK on this attempt, but just couldn't handle it once the Elementals spawned.

Second try....nearly immediately Flame Wreath is cast and somebody moves. The Raid Blew Up. Instantly.

Third try, similar to the first, we did OK but just couldn't do it.

By this time it was late, so we called it a night.

So anybody with some experience who's still reading the article? You there, the guy with the green shirt, in the back...speak up, eh?

How do you position your ranged players, both healers and ranged DPS?

Do you stand out in the mid-floor and run in a circle when Blizzard shows up and run to the outside when the Arcane Explosion is coming?

Or do you find a safe spot and just stand there and pew pew pew?

I really want this guy dead. We're heading back in monday night.

Would you stop it with the gear already!!!

I tell you...the end-game gearing choices become infuriating.

You simply never get to be happy and just go play. There's always something just out of reach. F- Blizzard for that :-)

Badges of Justice. Patch 2.4.

F- them for the new Badge loot that's coming out.

But luckily, I've got a little switch in my head. Its my "i dont give a h00t" switch.

Loot that costs 100 badges or more? Yeah, I'll get right on that with my 10-badge per week trickle.

So I don't give a h00t.

In the three months since I earned my first badge, I've collected about 90 badges and, as of sunday night, have gotten 3 pieces of gear.

But here's where things get interesting.

You might recall (since I posted it yesterday) my blog about fiddling with foodstuffs and gems to play with the hit rating and hit cap'edness.

Well it gets better.

When browsing G'eras for Badge dumping opportunities, I took a look at my gear. With 25 badges, I bought a Blood Knight War Cloak, replacing a level 68 blue cloak that's been on my back since November. Whoot! Really only buys me 2 more agi, 2 more stamina, and 10 more AP, so its a minimal upgrade, but its shiny and purple, so I'm a satisfied customer.

But what's next?

The worst item that remains on my toon right now is my belt. (A) it looks stupid and out of place with my other gear, and (B) its only real redeeming quality is the +24 hit rating it offers.

From either badges or pvp there's a cool belt upgrade I could get, but because of that damn hit rating, I'd have to make other sacrifices elsewhere.

BUT....after my regemming, I'm at 144 hit.

Hmmmm, if I were to flip flop back to my old Spicy Hot Talbuk, I could throw away the belt and replace it with something that has zero hit rating and still only be 2 hit points below the hit cap (when well fed).

That's sorta reasonable, I suppose, but surely leaves me feeling like its an endless loop of messing around with gear.

One belt is the War-Feathered Loop for 60 Badges of Justice. This puppy would be outstanding to equip, but its going to take me 4-6 weeks to save the badges, unless by some miracle we start really clearing out the upper part of Kara, but Shade of Aran is pretty much telling me that aint gonna happen none too soon.

The other belt is the Vindicator's Chain Girdle. I could get this guy much sooner via BG, as I've nearly got the honor and marks saved up already.

If I go ahead and replace the belt, I'll be left with only 3 non-purplez.

One is the Hourglass of the Unraveller which is a nice little puppy. I think I'd like to replace it with that hasty trinket, Abacus of Violent Odds, but the odds are pretty violently against that ever dropping for me.

The other two are both Beast Lord set items (gloves and shoulders), giving me decent-but-not-quite-stellar base stats, but a hugely valuable 4 second reduction to trap cooldowns, so I'm really hesistant to break that set. I wonder???

And those new, inattainable Badge rewards...I just don't give a h00t!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Balancing Stats when Phat Lewtz Drop

You know, as I write this (I'm nearly done, but writing at the top now :-P ) I realize I'm trying to theory craft! Be forewarned, and please, take nothing you read here as gospel. This is probably the casual players version of theorycrafting to answer the question..."WTF do I do? Equip the shiny new purple, or hang onto my ugly dull blue?"

Short version of the story: Mmmmmm, shiny new purplez. Gotta be better than my stupid blue normal-mode Slave Pens necklace. Put it on, no doubt!

Another short version of the story: New purple necklace provides 0.03% increase in DPS. Put it on, I guess.

Medium verion of the story: When you take the hit rating and hit cap into mind, determining whether a piece of gear is truely an upgrade or not. When you also combine being near the hit cap already, along with some food choices and some gem choices, the situation can get really fuzzy.

Perhaps Amava should play at some theorycrafting? Put it on, maybe.

Long version of the story:

While taking horseback riding lessons with Midnight and Attumen, Worgen Claw Necklace dropped.

I'm more or less satisfied with my damage output, and would rather spread the love to the team, so I suggested the Rogue take it. He said he already had it. Ok, cool, ding, new necklace.

I was wearing Trators Noose at the time.

Looking at these two puppies side by side, my jury is sorta out on which to take.

Agility Stamina Attack Power Crit Rating Hit Rating
Worgen Claw Necklace +20 +21 +42 0 +17
Traitor's Noose 0 +18 +38 +18 +12

So, give up some crit and gain a little attack power and hit. Gain a little stamina, which is nice as I'm still playing battlegrounds a little bit.

On the surface, I'd prefer the crit over the attack power, thus leading me to choose to keep my Noose. As a Beast Master, I love the crit, providing more kill commands and focus for my pet, plus also more frenzies which allow my pet to crit more often, keeping ferocious inspiration up to buff my party's damage. Crit is my best friend.

BUT, Agility's buff to crit chance is nicer than raw crit rating, as Agility scales with Blessing of Kings and it also provides increased Attack Power, Armor, and Dodge (for those moments when you decide to kill a boss melee style and need to avoid a hit or two, lol). Using this criterion, the Worgen Claw is better, because even though it provides for less critical hit percentage, its crit comes from agility rather than raw rating.

Then you've got the hit rating.

Walking in the door, I was at 131 hit. This allows me to eat Warp Burgers for +20 agility during trash, and Spicy Hot Talbuk for +20 hit rating on boss fights.

I don't really like sitting at 131, because then with food buff, I'm at 151, which basically wastes 9 hit rating.

With the Worgen Claw Necklace, I'm at 136 hit rating.

Here's my quandry....

If I continue my dietary habits of +agi for trash and +hit for bosses, I'll be wasting 14 points of hit during boss fights.

I do not have any gems that provide +hit, so its not like I can just swap some of those out for +agi gems to re-gain the 14 hit rating points.

But here's what I'm thinking.....

Why not go the other way. At 136, I'm 8 points away from being hit capped, WITHOUT eating any talbuk.

If I were to replace some gems with gems that provide +hit, I could become inherently hit capped, and then eat a +agi food during boss fights.

So the question can I fiddle with my gems to (A) gain 8 hit rating, and (B) NOT lose the equivalent of +20 agility. If I can pull that off, then I will gain an overall improvemnt for boss fights.

Make sense?

Kinda makes me go crosseyed, but I think its the right logic.

So, how to properly fiddle with gems?

For yellow slots, my normal gem of choice is the Smooth Dawnstone and its +8 critical strike rating (and I haven't yet gotten around to replace them with Smooth Ornate Dawnstones for two extra crit points from Battlegrounds vendor).

I could replace one of these puppies with a Rigid Dawnstone for +8 hit rating.

That would do the trick.

Now recall, that by becoming hit capped without the need to eat special food, I'll essentially be gaining +20 agi on boss fights.

For the sake of argument, lets pretend that I had the Smooth Ornate Dawnstones and their +10 crit, as I plan to get those from PvP over the next week or two, since my other PvP gear needs have been met for the moment.

In essence, the gem change would mean the Worgen Claw gives me an additional +20 agi on top of the other stats and a negative -10 crit.

Still making sense?

Going back to the original gear choices, adding in the potential gem swap and food changes, with an added DPS column that I hopefully got right......

Agility Stamina Attack Power Crit Rating Hit Rating
Worgen Claw Necklace +40 +21 +42 -10 +17
Traitor's Noose 0 +18 +38 +18 +12

So, this means that after re-gemming and food switch takes place, Worgen provides an additional +44 attack power over the Noose.

Now to analyze the crit part...Worgen essentially will provide -28 crit rating, but add +40 agility. How does this impact my overall damage?

Well, 20 agi equates to .5% crit, so worgen will give me 1% crit boost via the agility.

According to WoW Wiki's combat ratings page, 22.08 crit rating points equates to 1% crit chance.

So that means the -28 crit rating will mean a 1.3% reduction in crit chance. Combine that with the agi, and you only lose 0.3% crit chance.

Converting these numbers to DPS.....

The 0.3% crit chance reduction is a direct 0.3% DPS reduction.

Converting AP:DPS at a 14:1 ratio....gaining 44ap means a corresponding 3.1 DPS increase.

So, now we're in the sticky situation of needing to know our base personal DPS. This is where I pretty much lose my ability to theorycraft, assuming I've been doing it even vaguely right up to this point.

On the surface, I could use a number between 850-1050, as that's sort of the average I've been doing on boss fights according to WWS lately.

BUT, those numbers include all sorts of stuff like my pet's damage, kill commands, random melee crits that kill bosses (lol, that's a statistical anomaly that can be discarded). So, lacking any other good ideas, I'll just split the difference and pretend that its a good comparison.

So my base DPS is 950.

Decrease the base by 0.3% from the crit loss, means I'll be at 947.2 DPS

Increase that by 3.1 from the attack power means I'll be at 950.3 DPS

Net increase....0.3 DPS or 0.03% additional DPS.

LOL !!!

I could re-do these numbers to take into account the Blessing of Kings that I normally raid with, but I'm nearly exhausted from trying to figure this out up to this point. Well, actually, BoK would buff the agi increase from 40 to 44, which would make the AP increase by 48 rather than 44, and the change to crit chance would be .125% less. Soooo, with BoK, the overall additional DPS would be 1.77 (or 0.18%) additional DPS.

Net effect of equipping Worgen Claw Necklace, regemming, and new food choice:

  • lose: net 0.3% crit chance

  • lose: regularly farming for Talbuk Steak

  • lose: roughly 40 gold for the new gem

  • gain: +44ap

  • gain: +40agi

  • gain: +3sta

  • gain: 0.3 DPS

  • gain: one or two bag slots, as I'll no longer be carrying the Spicy Hot Talbuk

  • gain: some armor and dodge from agility, but blah, this is as far as I go with the theorycrafting

So you see, a simple drop of a new necklace leads to some twisty thought process leading to a miniscule DPS increase.

I hope I did this right :-)

And the single most important thing that trumps all of this analysis....I want my shiny new purplez and throw away my ugly bluie blues.

Put it on, no doubt!!!

Sloppy is for Joes, not Raids

The Kara team is getting better and better.

The whole team understands the early boss fights pretty clearly with a few different strategies up our sleeves.

Communication between the different specialties (tanking assignments, healing assignments, buffing assignments, CC assignments, coordination between tanks and healers on boss fights) is improving.

Usage of buff foods, and to some extent elixirs and flasks, is getting more common.

Our ability to adjust to bad pulls and dynamic situations is on the up.

Starting on time and moving swiftly through trash gets better each week.

Overall team DPS is improving, with the lead three players being much closer to eachother in output than ever before.

All signs point to this weeks initial raid night being a smashing success.

The plan is to try to clear Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Opera, and Curator within 3 hours. If we accomplish that, it would be a guild first for a single night. We've killed Curator on our first night once, but that was with skipping Maiden. Not this week, kill 'em all!!!

Start the run on time. The full normal team is there with one Mage not showing up so we sub in an Enhancement Shammy.

Amava, and her Alchemist/Drug Dealer friend, decide to try out Elixir of Major Agility and Elixir of Draenic Wisdom instead of the usually tasty Relentless @ss, as an expirement to see the effect on DPS, specifically during endurance battles where the extra Intellect might help out.

WTF? Wipe on the trash. When you get to the 4-pull and 5-pull right before the boss, somehow we aggroed the 5'er while working on the 4'er. Strange, that hasn't happened to us since our first or second week.

Then during the boss fight, all h3ll breaks loose, Rogue somehow pulls aggro, maybe during a transistion? A bunch of people die. WTF? Oh well, Attumen dies. He drops me a necklace. Not sure if its an upgrade, but I think there's a nother rambling post burried in there somewhere describing my scrambled up thought process on gear analysis that's bound to make the best of you go crosseyed.


We've never had so much trouble with the packs of guys sitting at the tables. No joke, we cleared them easier our very first night in there. Continuously pulled two tables at a time, with far too many deaths in our party to be acceptable. Over and over, clearing the room by attrition rather than skill that we've been accustomed.


Nothing special about the boss fight though. Had our Holy Paladin handy, so he tanked the two female dinner guests while we fried them into the ground.

I was extremely happy to see overall team DPS break the 3000 mark for the fight. That's an outstanding accomplishment because it showed a very well balanced contribution from each of the 4 DPS members from Kara Team 1 who were present. The sub shammy missed somewhere around 30% of his attacks, so he's got to take a look at hit rating, but oh well. Good job by the team.


More sloppiness on the trash. Clearing out the ball room before Maiden's hallway, just complete slop on the AoE pulls, including one accidental pull of the one pack made up entirely of elites. We adjusted well, but sloppy pull.

And the bad part of the sloppiness is that (A) nobody could figure out what was causing the extra pulls that were happening continuously, and (B) we don't think it was due to being too risky while trying to move swiftly. Could it be the Shaman's totems or something? We've never had a shammy with us before, so maybe, but either way, what a mess.

We had to whip out a repair bot before we even got to Maiden :-(

Kinda ridiculous boss fight.

Everybody in the Shammy's party was supposed to stand near him because he supposedly has a totem that'll prevent or cleanse the Holy Fire. Sweet, I love shammies, get him on the team and lets get his hit rating into the acceptable range. Mage stands across the room, out of totem range. Dies from holy fire early in the fight.

I don't know what's up with us tonight, but the main tank died half way into the fight. Even with Blessing of Sacrifice keeping a healer alive through the repents.

Then the off tank picked her up, which was perfect. Only thing is that he's not really used to the little dance you do to kite Maiden over to a priest to cause consecration damage to wake the priest up. There's some finesse required to walk her over JUST close enough to cause a little teeny tiny bit of damage and wake your priest up.

Warlock, who was asking for Blessing of Kings rather than Salvation, (GRRRR, stop being too risky in order to take Amava's spot on the damage meter :-P ), pulls aggro and gets one-shot.

Off-tank, who's now main tank, tries to regain aggro AND kite boss over to priest. Ended up killing the priest and then himself.

Maiden's getting low on health. We're getting low on live players.

With both tanks dead and Feign Death having been recently resisted and still on cooldown, guess who she's after next?

BUT, aparently Amava's got mad melee skillz due to her continuous Huntardism.

Melee Crit Boss Kill, FTW!!!!!!

Personal DPS of 1081 for the fight, so I'm happy to break the 1k mark on this boss. Not so happy with how the whole event transpired, but oh well, 'nother dead boss.

Opera - Romulo & Julienne

First showing of R&J for us.

Sounds simple enough. Kill the girl, interrupting everything you can. Kill the guy, dispelling and disarming everything you can. Bring guy down to 10% health. Kill girl. Kill guy.

Yeah, simple indeed.

Just not in the stars for us to kill the star-crossed lovers tonight.

Sloppy tanking pickup of the bosses during the transitions. Sloppy aggro management by nearly all the DPS'ers, me included. How I hate when Feign Death gets resisted. Sloppy interruptions of Julienne's casting. Just all around stupid.

Trash respawned and we called it a night.

All in all, happy to kill 3 bosses, collect a variety of lewtz for the team, 5 badges, a handfull of rep, yadda yadda yadda.

Not so happy with the overall performance. Hopefully we can chalk it up to "just one of those nights". Its nice in a strange way to burst the boss killing and progression bubble we had going, relieves some of the pressure, and now we can get back to business like the pros we know we can be.

Maybe its a full moon? Maybe its the Pagan God of Relentless @ss who was angry at my elixir choices?

Easter Sunday, R&J are going down!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why climb the mountain?

Whether you're a Druid or not, BBB's a great read. A nice mix of WoW facts, anecdotes, opinion pieces and some fun-to-read rants, including some guest posts from his wife who also WoW's it up. You probably already read his stuff, but if not, go for it. Lol, he's the reason I don't beat myself up too much when I write long posts.

A recent entry of his goes nicely with the Ship Jumpers one I put out. My article is an exploration of what life is like for those that hop skip and jump between guilds, while BBB's is more focused on the impact those jumpers have on the guild they leave (among other things, it really is a good read).

Its funny, as I read over that post, you'd think he and I were writing together, because he also touches upon progression and what it means to him. Go read it for yourself, but to paraphrase, he's more interested in spending quality time with friends, and things like loot and progression are secondary. I tend to agree with that position, however, I still found myself writing about my guild's progression recently.

So what makes so many of us want to progress through the game?

While struggling to get our Kara team organized and running, I often found myself asking this question.

The only conclusion I could come to was that raiding was like mountain climbing. Why climb the mountain? Because its there!

If Karazhan (and beyond) didn't exist, what would I be doing? Playing alts. Running some heroics. Earning Gold (mmmmm, ding 8.5k). Levelling up lots of professions and collecting recipes. Rerolling Horde. Maybe a battle ground or two, but who knows, because I'm pretty much only BG'ing lately to get some gear that's raiding upgrades for me.

BUT...Karazhan does exist. And dungeons and world bosses beyond do exist.

What makes it so compelling to devote so much time and energy into raiding? Hardcore, casual, whatever. If you're showing up for a solid block of hours, at least a couple times a week, prepared with buff foods, potions, elixirs, flasks, oils, scrolls, etc, you are definitely pouring some passion into the activity. What drives that motivation?

Is it peer pressure?

Afterall, there's lots of vocal advocates for progression out there. One of the extreme examples is the progression of AC as advertised on a bunch of blogs, with the most notable BRK, while providing vast amounts of much needed help to the Hunter community, he also makes it a specific point to leave no doubt in his readers' minds how much he values and enjoys progression in gear, dungeon bosses, arena ratings. How can a reader see those conquests and remain immune to the "me too" syndrome?

I'd like to think I was above feeling that sort of peer pressure, so while not the full answer, it is definitely part of the picture.

Anybody who plays the game, and then spends time outside the game reading about it, writing about it, fantasizing about it...we all have a motivation coming from somewhere.

What makes progression so satisfying? Whether it is the simple progression of a faction reputation bar moving slowly but surely across the bottom of your screen, or the more widely celebrated progression through raid bosses and phat lewtz, there's something satisfying with keeping things moving.

Is it a massive wide-scale insecurity among the general population? Are we really all fighting our own Napoleon complex, and to compensate we go after the very tangible progression goals Blizzard has constructed for us?

Or, for the truely insecure, maybe take the hardcore position that progression means absolutely NOTHING to them. Folks this far to the extreme suffer just as much because they're too scared to fail at progression that they fabricate a whole framework in their mind to convince themselves that they didn't want it to begin with.

How satisfying is progression?

Feels great to have that first kill. What a huge rush to hear Big Wigs play the trumpet fan fare to announce a dead boss!!! Feels great to brainstorm with the team, come up with a new strategy, execute and loot a dead boss. The rush stays with you for the next few times you kill that same boss.

How long does that rush last? Pretty quickly it becomes same old, same old. Gotta move to the next encounter or next dungeon. Keep farming this guy because we gotta keep progressing our gear (and you know I'm never gonna win a roll for the T4 gloves off Curator IF he actually chooses to drop them again for me, lol, luckily I like my Beast Lord Gloves), but gotta move to the next one also.

Push push push to hit 70. Push push push to get properly geared and attuned. Push push push to get through the first dungeon. Push push push. Push push push. Does anybody just sit back and think of a goal that is not the end-all-be-all of progression that they are fully satisfied with?

At least in the blogging community, it seems that people either keep progressing, keep progressing, or they become burned out trying to progress and then stop playing because the weight is too much. I'm not sure where I fit on this scale, and I definitely don't judge either group. Leads me to believe that there's this unsatisfied feeling unless we finish everything that's out there. Where's the middle ground? What is it in our minds that doesn't allow us that balanced middle ground for this game?

Seems that no matter what the next goal is, there's always another one right around the corner. Seems that Carrot on a Stick isn't just a quest reward in ZF, its inherent in the design of the entire game.

Personally, I think it'll be realistic for me to clear Karazhan, and start fiddling around in Zul'Aman, with maybe sticking my toe into some Gruul's Lair action before the expansion pack comes out, whenever the h3ll that'll be.

But, if the xpac wasn't on the horizon, would I stop there on purpose? Nope. Even if I set my goal at clearing Zul'Aman and then I'm done, there's still that allure of dungeons beyond, and all the buzz and peer pressure of how amazing those later encounters are, all just trying to keep you dissatisfied with your own personal progression level.

Anybody out there think that they're pretty balanced, with a zen-like yin/yang approach to motivation for progression? Because I need some of what you're smokin'!!! And I'm sure there's lots more out there who feel the same.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm still standin'...after all this time

I learned last night that Sir Elton John was, indeed, singing about the Shade of Aran.

I also learned the true meaning of "I will not move when flame wreath is cast, or the raid blows up".

Went in on our first try at him monday night.

Came across several of our most hated trash clears. Those dudes who are immune to Hunter's Mark and Distracting shot, and then they blow up for 5000 arcane damage as they die, unless your rogue kicks them, which he only sometimes does :-( What's the deal with this trash? Why make them immune to things like that? Just to piss us off, that's why, but oh well. To trap them I gotta fire a few auto/steady shots to get them off my tank, then since I'm not using my /stopcasting trap macro, I then have to hit F12 which will grab my tank's target, thus preventing me from breaking my own trap.

Either way, clear up to Shade. No real fuss. The trash on one of those steep ramps dropped some boots that made our main tank pretty happy, as it's his very first Kara drop that he won the roll for. Makes you think DKP or loot council would not be a bad idea, but whatever, he's a mature person who likes the fun more than the loot. My kinda guy.

First impression of Shade...he's awesome.

So much more going on in this fight than any of the others.

With Moroes, you learn a little bit of coordination and CC.

With Wizard of Oz, you get to really spread out your forces and sort of have these simultaneous mini battles going on with each different actor.

Then with Shade, you've got everybody focused on the same thing at the same time, but its royal chaos.


As with every new raid, we learned VERY quickly just how important it is to stand still.

Say it again, all together with me now, "I will not move when flame wreath is cast, or the raid blows up"

Then you've got the fun magnetism effect that seems silly at the beginning, but when the first Arcane Explosion hits you, not quite as silly.

And Blizzard! Trotting around the room, firing stings and Arcane Shots on the move, getting into position and pew pew pew for a bit, and move some more.

Until we figured out to stand behind the tables. That helped quite a bit.

Tried 4 or 5 times. WWS seems to be breaking a lot lately with java errors on their page, so I hope they get fixed soon as I'm itching to see our performance.

Ultimately, best attempt was 23%.

Much fun to be had.

Much excitement going into next week's fresh Kara as we're getting more and more of the content under control and opening up more and more of the dungeon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Striking Resemblance

All's I'm sayin' is...I've never seen them both in the same room at the same time.

Maiden of VirtueAn Unnamed Democratic Candidate

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'

Amava Don't Know Prowl

Patch day (maybe) is multi-media day...

You might recall my mention of Amava being a lvl 70 Huntard who has never gone out and learned some basic pet skills like Prowl.

So what do you do if you're guarding the Draenei Ruins in Eye of the Storm?

Shadow Meld and make use of program bugs the terrain elements.

Amava Dont Know Prowl

Progression comes in many flavors

Progression. Raid Progression. Normally used to describe a guild or team beating a new boss for the first time, the concept can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Over at Musings of a Survival Hunter, ChainTrap writes about his guild's progression level, and the excitement that comes with each new boss kill.

My team is right about at the same progression into Karazhan that CT's is, with their team being perhaps a month ahead of us (they've got Shade of Aran down reliably, and have taken down the Prince, we're just knocking on Aran's door), and I totally share that excited vibe with each bit of progress.

Each time we face a new boss, the team is totally filled with buzz and energy. When we take a boss down a few notches further towards death before a wipe, that energy remains. When we kill the boss, its a huge rush. Even the early bosses who are getting easier and easier with technique and gear are still enough to get a rise out of the team.

Then you've got some of the different forms of progression.

Start with some simple ones. I run WWS reports for each raid night. We've steadily watched our combined team DPS go from around 1950 to 2700. That's a pretty tangible tidbit, coming from a variety of factors: awareness of hit and spell hit, spec changes, shot/attack/spell rotation changes, and gear improvements.

Sunday night, while clearing our way to the Chess Event for our second time ever, one of the healers called out excitedly that they've healed through 2,000,000 HP on the night, which was greeted with cheers. Now that's not progression in the traditional sense, but it still was a nice moment, and things like that keep the morale going.

Earlier in the week, we killed The Crone. Sure, the Wizard of Oz event isn't too tough, but being so new to it, we're still getting a hang of the strategy. Short on off-tank capable players, we had to adjust and found out that a Hunter's pet is a perfectly viable tank on Tito. This gives us much greater flexibility on class composition and will make filling in absent slots much less stressful. I view this as progression in raid versatility.

Another example...wednesday night we cleared out Attumen, Moroes, Opera (Crone), and Curator. This is progress as our first ever "first night Curator kill", showing us that we can indeed plow through more and more trash as we make progress on our speed clearing and organization of bio breaks and just general familiarity with the place.

But, we didn't have our Holy Paladin on wednesday, so we chose to skip Maiden. Our only strategy so far has been to use Blessing of Sacrifice to keep the pally alive and healing the main tank through the Repentences.

Walking into the raid Sunday night, Maiden was still standing. Scheduled kick-off time is getting pretty close and Holy Pally isn't on. We decide to fill the slot with a DPS'er (another Hunter who just respec'ed BM, w00t).

Raid wanted to skip Maiden, as they're still fearful of our earliest days in Kara where Maiden was slapping us silly, until we worked out the BoS strat.

Bah, Amava's got this grand vision of "raid versatility" and so I try to pep talk everyone into giving it a shot. Biggest key will be to have heavily proactive Renews up on the MT from both priests, and also good communication between one healer and the MT so he can kite Maiden over and wake the healer up quickly during the Repentences.

Took a little convincing but the team saw the idea and wanted to give it a go.

Bam, one shot. Sure, several of us were dead at the end because the priests were working so hard at keeping the MT alive through the sleeps that the Holy Fires were slower to dispel, AND the MT did eventually die anyway. But the team stuck together, and the off-tank was #2 on the threat list, and some other DPS'ers stepped in when two of the top three damage dealers were dead.

Brand new strategy, pushing us out of our comfort zone. Showing the team that we can do it with a different class composition than we thought we could.

To me, that's nearly as good progression as killing a new boss.

Well, ask me how I feel about that on tuesday morning, as we're scheduled to go dance with Aran monday night.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How do the Ship Jumpers Make Out?

One of the dominant things that seems to occupy the minds of nearly every level 70 character is expectations. What are their expectations of what they should and could reasonably be doing in the game? Everybody wants in on everything. Now.

You hear often enough of a player who stays with a guild long enough to get attuned for a raid instance, or geared up sufficiently for the next dungeon, only to jump ship and join a larger or more progressed raiding guild, leaving their former pals in the dust to have to fill that slot with a less experienced or geared player. Or players brand new to a guild who expect to immediately get a spot on a raiding team.

Most bloggers tend to be of the opinion that patience is required to ensure a good team, with good individual skills, good group skills, good communication, a reasonable class/spec composition, and reasonable gear, with good enchants.

From reading blogs, you never get to hear the success rate of those ship jumpers. You only really hear the side of the story of the folks who more or less stick with their team, and only change guilds after some considerable though, reflection and appreciation for the situation they'll leave their team in, and the situation they'll be in with the new guild.

I'm curious about the story of the ship jumpers. They want Kara. Now. A new guild says, "sure, we've got your Kara right here." They jump ship. How does it play out?

In our guild, we've got a pretty strong Kara Team 1, making what I would consider to be adequate progress through the instance. We're making positive changes to scheduling and organization. We're making positive changes on forming a climate of high performance and pride in raid utility and personal output.

We've also got the floating concept of a Kara Team 2. This team forms, disolves, forms, disolves, nearly weekly.

Originally, the barrier for Team 2 was healers. We have tanks and DPS to spare, but were limited on Healers. Although the GM continues to recruit hunters, warlocks, and mages (stop that!!) he has also done a great job attracting some active healers.

Kara Team 2 has constant turnover, and the most frequent reason for leaving is that another guild told them they'll be running not just Karazhan, but also Gruul's Lair. These are folks with zero raiding experience, few or improper enchants and gems on entry level 70 gear, perhaps a few PvP pieces (w00t, I can't judge that approach anymore, if applied appropriately, lol), no attempt at approaching the hit cap, et cetera, et cetera.

I really do wonder what life is like for them a few weeks after they jump ship. Is it really the green pasture they were looking for?

If so, how do these more progressed guilds do it? How do they have enough raiders around who are equipped enough to support this type of player in their 10- and 25-man content? Or do these types of guilds generally run wipefests in Gruul's?

If you look at it from an external perspective, someone could have /who'd me the other day and said "damn, amava's in Mags lair already. we're just clearing out kara. i want in on her guild."

But they'd be grossly mistaken. Sure, my butt was physically in there. And sure, we did kill trash. Painfully, and, we did in fact make it to Magtheridon. No chance in h3ll to kill him, but make it there, we did.

Is that what life is like for many of these raiders who jump, and the team that recruits them to jump? Are people drawn in by the appearance of successful raiding and available raid slots? Or is there actual success there?

In the blogging community, you read mostly about groups that tackle content in a progressive, methodical approach, chock full of WWS analysis of performance, improvements, solid leadership and recruiting, and a generally well researched team of combatants. Sure, you get stories of ship jumping out of the team, dramas over personal stuff or loot, all the good parts of doing stuff with other people.

But you rarely read about a raiding team that regularly accepts jumpers.

How much of the WoW raiding population is like that vs. how much is just jumping ship routinely? And what is the success rate of both of those groups?

Shammy Flakes, the Breakfast of Champions

Morning time has become synonymous with BG's lately. Oh yeah, and Amava's a noob huntard, so skip there if you like stories of self-deprecation.

Seems that I really want that chest piece, and as my gold balance is getting ludicrous, my former morning activity, grinding gold from daily quests, has been replaced with a little PVP.

One of the least favorite aspects of this little routine is to log in, still in position in Stormwind City near the BG guys, talk to the daily quest guy and have him say "Read My Lips...W.S.G!" and then get lost in his cackling over the fate that he's just doomed me to.

The philosophy that's keeping me sane through the Alliance PuG WSG's on the Retalliation Battlegroup is to allow myself two back-to-back slaughters. I refuse to become upset during those two matches, no matter how much annoying chatter there is on bg chat, or how many people simply refuse to fight near flags and just stalemate endlessly in mid-field. If I win, cool, daily quest +419 bonus honor is mine. If I lose, badly or nicely, oh well, I can stomach two of them. I'm impatient and a sore loser, what can I say.

Loading up, always reassuring to see Horde with 10 and Alliance at 4 players for nearly the entire two minute warm-up. What's the deal? Every time I start out WSG, we're nastily outnumbered. Started the game with 6, got 2 more shortly after that. Great.

Open up the match, grossly outnumbered, but WTH, I mount up and streak up the right side, and enter the upper little chamber of the Horde base. Walk up to the ledge overlooking the flag. 3 guards.

Eh, I've already written off this match as a loss due to numbers and my general negative attitude in WSG, so why not have some fun. I see 2 allies coming up the horde tunnel.

Lemme distract. For fun, I fire off a Volley. LOL. No idea why, but I figured they might not think I was a hunter, because that's a pretty weird looking visual effect, maybe they'll think I'm a mage or warlock or something, and maybe it'll give my teammates a chance at the flag in the confusion :-)

They don't seem to notice me, so time for Aimed/Multi/Arcane on the Mage. Nearly dead, team mate swoops in to finish him off, then the two Allies get squished.

Then I see the Shammy (who I should have been shooting at to begin with, doh) bolt for the ramp to come up to me.

Hmmm, what to do. I put my rogue cap on and got to thinking...

Lemme Shadow Meld and have some fun.

So I trot on over to the front exit of the upper part of the Horde base, hang a hard right just outside the opening, and I Shadow Meld.

Here's the true huntard in me.

Can I deliver 1000 DPS on a PvE Boss fight? Sure, MQoSRDPS is my business.

Do I have even the first clue of how to properly outfit my pet for PvP? Not even the slightest.

My kitty doesn't have Prowl. In fact, I don't think I ever even learned the skill at all. Huntard, no doubt.

So I Shadow Meld and Cringer is just standing there, fully visible.

Shammy comes running out of the opening. I'm just having fun so I watch him run out. Stops about 10 yards out of the opening.

Scratches his head, looking around, spinning, looking for that damn hunter who he came to eat for breakfast.

He's staring right at my cat. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. "Hmmm, what's that meowing noise? Strange. Oh well. Mooo!"

After about 10 seconds of this, I've had enough, so I press my "I WIN" button.

Ok, I never built an I WIN macro, so I have to click keys and buttons to give the same effect but in a nutshell, he got a helping of Bestial Wrath, Bloodlust Brooch, Rapid Fire, along with Aimed/Multi/Auto/Arcane combo. Then, I just stand there and pew pew pew him down, execute him PVE style, no movement, no slow-downs, just button mashing :-)


Trot back into the Horde camp. Fire a few distracting shots into the defenders. Hover my mouse over the minimap Track Humanoids red dots. Ah, there's my buddy. Lemme see if he's awake yet :-)

Head back to the same spot, Shadow Meld with visible kitty again.

Cow hoofs it over into view. Lol. He clearly doesn't know what that kitty is doing here.


Same move. He really is not good, but gotta tell you, Shammy Flakes taste great, skill or no skill.

This time I head into the base, see its empty, grab the flag and hot foot it back to our base. 1-0.

Yadda Yadda Yadda, new guy joins the team. Finally, somebody else aggressive for the flag. He caps the flag, I become a killing machine in the Horde tunnel. They simply refuse to target me, so I kill 6 or 7 guys in their tunnel on a single flag return. Then massive CC and carnage on the trip back to our base.


More death. Pile the cows on top of one another and beef ribs for everyone.


You know, I might just need to change my outlook on WSG pugs. Twice in a row now I've jumped in and gotten 3-0 wins on my first try.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Not-So-Painful Train

The Pain Train, as popularized on a few blogs of late, is a group of people in Warsong Gulch basically huddling up like a football kickoff return team, form a pocket around their flag carrier, and all focus on the one and only thing that will bring victory in WSG...delivering the flag to their base. No fiddling around in mid-field dying, rezing, dying, rezing. No silly single-file runs into the enemy base, getting picked off one at a time thus giving your enemy easy mode. Stick together, bring some healers, crowd control everybody you see, and keep moving. Just run back and forth across the field grabbing the flag and capping it.

Being a PuG BG'er, I rarely see one of these. Ah, maybe I should clarify. I see them, but usually I'm the one receiving the pain.

Wednesday was WSG daily BG quest day. (edit: so is friday's. grrr. can i get some av lovin pls?)

Uggy. I hate those. But, that 419 bonus honor is tough to pass up when you're looking at a new piece of gear with your mouth watering.

In my battlegroup, alliance PuG WSG is just a slaughter. We NEVER win. EVER. We barely even cap a single flag.

Ok, that's extreme. We squeak a win in here and there, but no where near as balanced as some of the other BG's.

I decided to allow myself two games. Getting slaughtered only twice before a kara run would still leave my delicate ego intact to show up and kill some bosses.

Waiting in the WSG starting area, for the first minute or so, its only 4 alliance against 10 horde. Great. Just make it quick guys.

But of the 4, one's a priest, another's a warrior, one's me, and the other is idunno. Hmmm, the makings of some fun?

So the 4 of us chat real quick and in about 2 sentences agree to stay together and try this out.

Luckily, shortly before the battle started, a couple more alliance joined, and I think it was 8 against 10 Horde by the end.

Result: mini-pain train.

That priest was just insane healing. The four of us stayed together the whole time. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Actually very little open field fighting. In the open, it was all running and CC. Concussive shot, wing clip if they got close, Frost Traps galore.

Most of the combat was close to the Horde base.

I killed so many of them in their own tunnel, it wasn't even funny. And the heals just kept coming. They kept me alive through all sorts of beatings. Only once or twice did they try to hit the healer, and in that chaotic tunnel, it was pretty tough to figure out who was who or what was what. And I kept doing my Rogue impression with the jittery running around and annoying movement and all that.

Quick, easy, 3-0 win.

Ding daily quest in WSG. I'm a big fan.

Turned out, me and the healer both found ourselves standing next to eachother in the Keep in Stormwind City after the fight.

Cool. We're on the same server. And I'm on the friends list of another Holy Priest. w00t

Bloodlust Brooch

After Kara, I went to the bank to dump my raid bag out. And what's this? Lots of badges now? Cool, let me go talk to G'eras and see if there's anything nice for me.

Bloodlust Brooch. 41 Badges of Justice.

Sure, why not?

Of course, after buying it, nearly instant buyer's remorse, or perhaps just doubt, as I hadn't noticed the difference between AP and Crit. This puppy is replacing my Bladefist's Breadth. Nets a big "on equip" bonus to Attack Power, but also a loss of nearly 1% of crit. "On use" it provides a much nicer AP buff, for an even longer amount of time. Not really sure how to directly compare the two, so rather than paralyze myself with over analysis, I think I'll just put on my purple goggles and equip the shiny new trinket.

I was hovering around 28%-ish unbuffed crit, and so I'm none too happy with the 1% drop to that stat. I hope it'll leave my pet with a nice steady stream of focus, and also a continuous kill command ready to fire every time the cooldown is up, which it's been pretty close to lately.

Perhaps a switch

The natural place to go to test out any theories would be Dr. Boom. Personally I dislike using him as a baseline analysis because so much of my talents, gearing, and style are based upon how me and my pet interact, which good 'ole Boomy doesn't allow for.

I'd really like to use a Curator fight as a baseline, as it is really just a "stand and deliver" fight where I'm a continuous stream (well, 96% continuous) of MQoSRDPS.

Unfortunately, by the next time I face Curator, I'll have a new PvP chest piece, which will alter my stats, making a pure Bloodlust Brooch vs. Bladefist's Breadth comparison difficult.

Fortunately, my new chest will help increase my output, so f-it all. Just go purple and don't look back. Keep delivering the pain to thine enemies.

Fluke or Flounder?

What? You find my personal stories boring? Skip to the WoW.

Small aside from WoW: All my family lives spread throughout the state of New York. Aside from the aside, why they bustin' on our poor poor guvnah? Its not like that sort of thing doesn't happen to all of us, like three or four times a year? Am I right? Ok, back to the first aside.

Since the reson we're spread out geographically is that we really function best when not around eachother, we more or less have to force ourselves to get together every so often, lest we forget eachother's names. As it is, my mom calls me her brother's name or her own dog's name regularly enough, so we gotta get together, at least once a year. In her defense, my name and her brother's both start with the same letter, so let's cut the lady some slack. The dog's a girl though.

The men, manly men, of the family like to go on a fishing expedition in the summer. By "expedition", I mean drive 2 hours down to the Jersey Shore, go on a boat for a couple hours, and drive 2 hours back home. Not quite as intense as Nat Pagle's Quest, but fun.

When I think of deep sea fishing, immediately images of swordfish leaping through the air and the Old Man and the Sea conjure up in my mind. Man vs. Beast.

Well, this year, we went for fluke. If you've never heard of them, they're pretty much like small flounders. Little flat fish that lay on the bottom waiting for some random piece of meat to bounce off their head and into their mouth.

Once you hook one of these suckers, well let me tell you about the battle you're about to can barely tell you've even got one. I actually think they swim to the surface when hooked, so you get less resistance reeling them in than if you were simply reeling in your bait and sinker. Just silly if you ask me, but the single one we caught that was big enough to keep provided each of us with the single tastiest fork-ful of fish I had in ages.

Had a great time though, which is really the only reason we're there. Its like taking down a new boss, but not getting any loot. The fun is just being there. The tasty morsel the fish dropped is icing on the cake.

So back to WoW...

The Kara team suited up on wednesday for a fresh raid instance. The goal was to prove that several of last week's accomplishments were not a fluke.

Most specifically, we are interested in moving swiftly through the content we're pretty familiar with, take down several bosses, and set the stage for the rest of the week to be progression fights.

Attumen - Believe it or not, some trouble here. The tank who was on Midnight had some trouble generating threat. Then 3 of the DPS'ers completely ignored their threat meters and kept going nuclear. Ended up with a horse wildly mule kicking three of our damage dealers into the ground. Left Amava with a mighty fine time of blasting away. Took him down in a one shot, but that sort of blunder is not really a good start.

Moroes - Lacked a suitable third tank, and everybody still has a bad taste in their mouth from our earliest days of trying to non-tank the guests, so we decided to use our Balance Druid as a tank for the first two dinner guests. He had some limited tanking gear, so lets give it a whirl. Right before the fight, somebody says these ladies are casters so he should be in Moonkin form to tank. ????? No, they deal physical melee damage to their top aggro target, and they cast nasty spells at others (like breaking their friends out of shackles, or burning your healer's mana, or healing themselves). But sometimes people don't like to listen to Amava, so they say go boomer.

Druid dies right as the second dinner guest goes down, so although he was sacrificial lamb, he did his duty. The rest of the fight was uneventful and we took Moroes out. Put him in bear form, even with sloppy tank gear, and that fight goes perfectly, says I. I want a re-do just to test the theory out. Have to wait till next week.

Maiden - We didn't have any pally, and nobody wanted to try to do it without Blessing of Sacrifice to keep a healer alive through the Repentence. In an effort to expand our bag of tricks, I wanted to try having the two priests both keep renews up on the main tank through the Repentence, and then have the tank kite Maiden over so her consecration wakes one of them up quickly. Nobody wanted to try it out. Ok, that's cool...on to Opera.

Opera: The Crone - Second time we've seen this one. Planning this time was a little more interesting than before. Last time we had two rogues to serve as evasion tanks on Dorothee and Tito. This time, no rogues available. I re-read the wowwiki page on the event and it would appear that Dorothee has no aggro table, so no need to even attempt to tank her. Good. Now for tito, we'll have the Druid DPS on Dorothee, and as soon as Tito shows up, switch to bear and tank him.

Its the first time the Druid has ever seen the event, so he thought Roar was the doggie. Tito went unhindered. By the time I could switch and get my pet onto Tito, he had torn up one healer. Also, during this time, the tank on the Strawman lost control of him and he killed a bunch of us. Not sure what the story was there, but I got to watch as the remaining few killed off the beginning actors, then took the Crone down to 26% at which point they ran out of mana.

The only good part of the wipe is that I learned that my cat is a viable tank for Tito, which will definitely increase our options in future attempts.

So second attempt, lets have Cringer tank Tito. Everything's going fine, Dorothee burning down fast, Tito nicely focused on my pet, my pet's health doing ok with a Mend Pet running, then Roar goes nutty. The Warlock who was chain fearing him couldnt re-target him and he slapped both healers down. :-(

Druid Battle Rez, FTW. Boomkin changes form and brings back a priest. The rest of the fight was uneventful. The casters were very pleased at the Ruby Red Slippers. I'll take my badges, tyvm.

I talked to the Warlock afterwards and suggested he create a Roar Fear macro so he doesn't have to shift targets. He seemed pretty gung-ho on the concept, so I'm excited to see it in action next time we get this event.

Curator - Started off with some discussion about Arcane Resist Potions. The very first time we faced Curator (wipe) everybody drank Arcane Resist potions. I was against the idea because it messes up my "drink early, drink often" approach. I drink my first Super Mana Potion as early into the fight as is sensible, rather than waiting until I'm out of mana, thus leaving my potion cooldown ready for another drink well before I'm out of mana. We wiped on that attempt with Curator at 2% and with everybody out of mana, then on the next try, with no Arcane Resist Potions left, we took the boss down. I stand by my position that drinking the potion f-ed up my potion cooldown timer, so no thank you, I shant drink your resist potion.

All the other DPS'ers drank one. We took Curator down, nearly a minute faster than last time which is nice. Most of the DPS was out of mana for half the fight. I went out of mana right as the fight was ending. Couldn't have been happier with how my mana management went. Also couldn't have been happier with my DPS which was above 1000 again, and a little bit higher than last time, due to even more proactive target switching between flares and Curator (ie, spamming the target macro), and also my new fancy arrows. Also happy with my 96% damage time, which is up from 90%, meaning that the proactive target switching really kept things active.

No WWS link because I'm getting lots of errors on the report that I ran and the report my teammate ran. I was able to view it last night, but not now :-(

Fluke or Flounder?

Seems to be flounder, as we were able to repeat our performance of zipping through a bunch of familiar bosses and trash on our first night in a fresh raid instance, and learned some different ways of handling the same fights.

And that's all folks.

Well, not quite all, I did get some more badges....