Thursday, 20 December 2007

Lots of Alterac Valley

My wife and I had a baby on the 30th Nov. At the moment life is very good, although rather tiring and I spend a lot of time being quite vague.

Raiding is clearly a no-no at the moment, although my wife has hinted that I may be able to start again in a few weeks, at least in moderation. I the meantime, when I have been able to log on to Warcraft I've been working the battlegrounds in order to keep my healing gear reasonably up to date.

While I'm concentrating on battlegrounds I've respecced to Enhancement, trying to do as much damage as possible with my Torn-heart Axe of Battle. Resto is just hopeless as a battleground spec - you can heal just fine, but if you try and do anything by yourself (such as re-cap a tower) you're stuffed, and elemental - though a powerful damage spec - is too immobile to be as useful as it should be. Also my enhancement gear is fairly good - nice blues with a few epics - from picking up unwanted mail dps gear from instances and raids.

Horde in my battlegroup are starting to work out that we can only win if we defend at least a little, and although there are still some games that are just hopeless I've recently seen an OK win ratio. Last night I was in an Alterac Valley battle that lasted over an hour, with the Horde successfully defending all of our towers for nearly the whole match. Towards the end the Alliance summoned their druids, which I think most players had forgotten was even possible. Unfortunately this put us onto the back foot, and the Alliance managed to take the opportunity to win a game they'd looked certain to lose. Still, it was nice to see a proper battle underway.

I've also managed to tick off a few more goals from my list, finally maxing out my cooking skill while doing a daily quest, killing the gronn so that I can do the Ogri'la dailies, and getting my Tidefury Gauntlets from a slightly painful but ultimately successful SV run.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Ding! 40!

I levelled Adanadel, my NE hunter, to 40 at the weekend, and so hit the mount cash crisis. Although I could have twinked him using my shaman's money via the neutral auction house I felt I should cross this first hurdle without that. So I auctioned or vendored everything I could, left my level 38 and 40 skills training until later, and just about scrapped together 90g. It's difficult being really skint - a couple of times I've done things like restock on arrows and then find I can't afford a griffon ride - but eventually I'll get over that. The next problem will be that having now got an epic land mount for my shaman (in order to get the flying mount) I don't think I'll be able to put off getting my hunter his epic mount until 70.

Things are working out pretty well at the moment, so I might even be able to stick to just the two characters going forward... It's really handy being able to scout things out using Eyes of the Beast and my prowling moonstalker, and traps and Feign Death are as useful as you'd expect.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Goals Revisited - part 3

I've noticed that my healing gear is starting to slip behind that of our other regular raid healers, so I need to address this to avoid being a weak link. I want to raid to see new content, for the guild first kills and that magic moment when a group syncs together and you finally "get" a boss fight. It's great when this happens - fights like Hakkar can become almost like a dance. I'm not interested in farming content for gear, but at the same time I need to upgrade.

Thanks to Draezele's rather excellent analysis of all the resto gear in the game I can see that I actually need to upgrade my main hand even more than my bracers. So, for my last goals list, I need (in order) upgrades to -

Main hand, Head, Wrists, Chest, Feet, Neck, Back

- ideally without relying on drops. So I'll be PvPing for a enough honour to be able to buy Gladiator's Salvation and doing Kara and ZA with the guild for badges. If I get any decent drops from the raids that will shortcut the process, which would be nice.

Meanwhile my NE hunter hit level 38 last night, and I've found myself what seems like a nice guild for him.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Fix to water shield incoming

I see from WoW Insider that they're fixing water shield. That is good news and I hope it comes quickly. Having to recast the spell every 60 seconds got old really quickly - if you were doing something important like raid healing you tended to forget!

The question to be asked of course is whether anyone actually tests anything on the PTR...

Monday, 19 November 2007

Still the High King

My guild had our second attempt at knocking over High King High King Maulgar this weekend. A two hour wipe fest ensued, so he's still there...

Last time we got the pull down but didn't have a mage geared enough to tank Krosh Firehand, this time we had two mages with enough health but couldn't do the pull. We did learn some things, and killed Blindeye the Seer a couple of times, but generally weren't good or lucky enough.

Hopefully next time we'll have more than one hunter, which will help the pull a lot. In general we could have done with a better class balance, but until we get past the first stage of the fight that's not really the main issue. Our next attempt is in two weeks, we'll see how that goes.

On the alt front I put a level each on my druid and hunter.

My (balance) druid has a real problem with the lack of a spell interrupt, especially against healer mobs, and generally is a bit slow to kill things. I used to find feral (i.e. cat) levelling a bit monotonous, as they're like rogues without the useful bits (i.e. stuns). Perhaps it's worth giving that another go, now I'm a bit more comfortable with rogues, at least until level 43 (when I could have both Moonkin and maxed-out Dreamstate). On the other hand I quite like spending my time in caster form, so I might find Moonkin a step backwards at that point, and feral less fun now.

My hunter was as you'd expect - killed things easily, handled casters fine once every minute (thank you Intimidation), and ditto with adds (thanks to traps).

Right now I'm thinking I'll concentrate on just / mainly the hunter - I already have an end-game healing hybrid after all. I'd be happier knowing what WotLK will do in terms of character customisation though - I'd be totally happy with my hunter if I could give him the same colouring as my druid.

If I'd known then what I know now

I've mentioned before that I have an alt problem. I currently have 10 characters over level 10 in addition to Grulnak, my 70 orc shaman (70 troll priest, 60 undead warrior, 45 orc warlock, 35 NE hunter, 33 undead mage, 32 NE druid, 22 BE paladin, 22 orc rogue, 20 human mage and 11 orc warrior) and a bunch more that I've deleted (34 orc hunter, 28 orc rogue, 22 human rogue, 16 troll mage, 14 orc hunter).

In an ideal world (say, one where I could play WoW all day and still get paid) I'd have known the lessons this legion have taught me from day 1:

  • Pick one (or a small number of) character(s) and stick with him/them.
  • Undead may be human-like, but their stooped posture and shambling walk make them unappealing characters to have.
  • Trolls may be the tallest, but they never stand up straight. Their sitting posture is quite cool though.
  • Male trolls look silly in robes.
  • The troll accent will never grow on me, despite the voodoo priest feel it gives.
  • Tanking as a warrior can be fun / awesome / stressful / exhasperating.
  • Grinding as fury rocks, grinding as protection sucks.
  • Warlocks may be grinding gods, and very tough to kill, but my heart just isn't in it.
  • Mages can destroy things in cool ways, but you spend a lot of time drinking.
  • Male humans have a constipated run and odd faces.
  • Female humans have a very vacant "idle" animation.
  • Be very careful what face / skin / etc you chose - it will be with you forever.
  • One day shamans will be perfectly viable main healers - don't spend time levelling a priest.
  • "For the Alliance" is slightly patronising... "For the Horde!" is a rallying cry.
  • Kill gnomes on sight. But they'll never really understand why you're doing it.

Having learned all this, I'd hence have the following chars:

  • Orc shaman: I may be biased, since this is my original character, but my main is still the character I'm happiest with. Damage and healing are a great combination, and although you're a jack of all trades, master of none, there is a definite place for you. And orcs just have a great look.
  • Night elf druid: The one thing I miss on my shaman is being able to buff people. I also miss being able to tank, although tanking in humanoid form (i.e. warrior or paladin) is more appealing. One side of me thinks I should stay loyal to one faction, another side says I miss half of the game that way.
  • A rogue of some sort (dwarf? human? orc?): Stealth, pickpocketing and sap make this a great fun class, and stuns give you a huge amount of control over a fight. A difficult class to pick up, and very difficult to master, make it less than ideal as an alt though.
  • Night elf hunter (or perhaps an orc): A much derided cliche, and you might find it hard to form or join a group, but the class has great tactical possibilities and soloing potential.
  • Orc or dwarf warrior: For the ability to wear lots of armour and carry a big axe. Although my shaman fulfils this need to some extent.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Patch goodness

I've not had much time to play since the patch was released, but there's lots of goods stuff in there:

The addition of spell damage to healing gear is lovely. I've found that some of my healing gear is now as good or better than my elemental gear for damage. So not only do I get to free up some bag space, but I also keep the survivability of my resto gear while grinding.

Trainable two handed axes and maces. Purely for effect it's cool to be able to carry a big axe around.

Being able to track fishing nodes is also quite nice.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Goals Revisited - part 2

Having mostly finished my last set of goals, I've had a new set running for a while. These are my "complete this character, at least until WotLK" goals.

Max out fishing, cooking (stuck on 374!) and weapon skills (Axes, Maces, Staves, Unarmed)
Recipe: Fel Mana Potion
Complete the Hero of the Mag'har quest chain

Torn-heart Axe of Battle (every orc should have a big axe)
Attumen bracers. My bracers are my worst piece of healing gear at the moment
One piece of tier 4. Irritatingly I've got to Exhalted with the Violet Eye, and never once seen the Curator drop the shaman glove token. However, I do have Gloves of Centering so I don't really need the gloves.

Goals Revisited - part 1

It seems it's time I revised my goals from July. Especially since the first item on the list is pre-Kara healing gear...

Remaining items from the list -

Complete Tidefury set (for the looks): 1/5
Not so sure about this one now. I'd still like it, perhaps 4 pieces plus the head from the Big Bad Wolf. A set of some kind would still be nice. I've killed the bosses necessary enough times to have at least 1 more piece, but not farmed them in a properly dedicated way.

Netherdrake (to make the stepsons happy)
The big problem with this one is getting 5000g together to start the process. I recently spent 700g on Recipe: Elixir of Major Mageblood, otherwise I'd have 750g... Still nice to have.

Revered with Sporeggar (Transmute recipe): Honoured
I'm 1/4 of the way through Honoured still. Not really a priority at the moment, but it'd be nice to complete the set of elemental transmutes.

Revered with Keepers of Time (key): Friendly
Just one instance run short of revered. Once the patch comes out I won't actually need this anymore, but again it'd be nice to complete this goal.

Heroic Keys: Caverns of Time. See above

Get 355 Fishing skill (so I can catch Zangarian Sporefish).
I'm up to 312 fishing, so with my Horde-only fishing rod and some lures I generally fish pretty well

Done with Kara - for now

Last night was my last visit to Karazhan for a while. I've not got everything I need from there yet, so no doubt I'll be back, but real life is taking over for a while.

A frustrating night in some ways - we'd cleared the Curator on night 1, but night 2 had 3 wipes on Aran before we eventually downed him, so we only had 2 attempts on the Prince. It'd have been good to down him with Team 3 before Zul'Aman opened, but not to be.

Highlight of the night was our rogue (in good Arena gear) taking Aran's arcane explosion in the face and (just about) living to tell the tale. We'd lost all but 4 of the raid not by this stage, mostly lost between the pyroblast and the elementals, so there were 6 spectators in Vent telling him to run. He didn't, and we were pretty much resigned to another wipe as he flew through the air. Neither the explosion nor the landing killed him, and our paladin did an amazing job of keeping the rogue, himself and the other 2 survivers alive just long enough...

And I got the rather lovely Pendant of the Violet Eye

Friday, 9 November 2007

Do I feel endangered?


This post on The Endangered Shaman over at WoW Insider got me thinking - is there actually a problem, or is it just the usual whinging?

Although I don't PvP, I'm glad the diminishing returns on earth shock change has been reversed. It seems bad that you'd actually ruin things for your team mates by interrupting an enemy caster in an arena.

On the PvE side things seem just fine though - or at least the same as they ever were. Shaman are the least played class, but I'm assuming that is due in a large part to people prefering blood elves to alien blue space squid (as the other formerly-single-faction class, paladins are the second least played).

As some people point out on that WoW Insider thread, levelling a shaman can be slow at times. However I found a paladin at least as problematic. My (now deleted) dwarf paladin I found to be slow and unappealing to level. When I tried again with a blood elf more recently I found things easier, partly due to more experience with the game mechanics. However he's currently retired at level 22, having found the Boulderslide Ravine troggs to be just too much trouble. Shamans have both a ranged pull and a ranged interrupt from low levels - paladin's don't.

When it comes to the end game, a lot of shamans complain about there being only one wanted spec - Restoration. There are two shortcomings to this argument.

In a casual guild like mine it matters more who you are than what spec you have - our two Kara teams have one of each spec between them. On the other hand we're just finishing with Kara and moving on to Gruul.

In a progression guild however only restoration shamans will be wanted, with perhaps an outside chance of an enhancement shaman getting in to buff a melee dps group. This was always the case though, and is true for other classes too. Pre-BC if you wanted to raid as a shaman you'd better be resto, and in that spec were far less viable as a main-healer for a 5 man group or for PvP than is the case post-BC. As with for shamans, a progression guild will want a say how you spec for any other class - a maximum dps spec will be wanted for example, and even though this is less of an issue as you can still farm, your guild is still telling you how to spec.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Can I be bored of raiding already?

Maybe I am. 20 man raids at level 60 were fun, but perhaps that was because they were new to me then. Certainly Karazhan isn't as interesting as it used to be.

I got the gloves from the Maiden last night so I my healing gear I now consider good, rather than passable. I'm slightly scared I'll get the tier gloves from the Curator tonight, having beggared myself enchanting the new ones yesterday.

The latest on my alt-oholism, I have a level 16 rogue. This week's plan is that my alt is will be a grinding / exploring character (a slightly more stressful way of visiting alliance territory than using my NE hunter, while staying in guild chat!). I've had problems getting my head around rogues before (this is about my 5th), but having figured out MetaHUD things are looking better. I'm looking forward to lots of stealthing and lockpicking, meanwhile I have a standard combat swords levelling build.

I dusted off my shadow priest for the Moroes kill yesterday, and the troll-themed gear from Zul Aman is looking interesting on the test realms, but I don't really want to be a troll. And I'm busy reminding myself that my level 11 warrior should stay that way - the time commitment to gearing up a tank doesn't fit into my life these days.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Raid progression

My guild needs some - things are getting stale.

Our team 1 had cleared everthing in Karazhan except Nightbane before real life interfered, and team 2 is still regularly clearing the place. Team 3 - formed of some team 1 veterans, including some on alts, and some newer raiders, sometimes kills Aran, sometimes doesn't. But overall the guild has taken a step backwards.

We've had one "wipe night" attempt at Gruul's Lair which I've written about before. But it's beginning to feel like we need to go back there soon or interest will wane. Meanwhile I'm only in Kara farming gear and rep (I now have the belt from Moroes, and the Revered ring), which isn't really my idea of a good time. While I could do with new bracers (from Attumen) and new gloves (from Maiden or The Curator) to get rid of a couple pieces of sub-par gear I feel my gear is ready for the next step, and I'd certainly rather be wiping on something new than going over old ground again.

Monday, 1 October 2007


... Halls - don't go there without crowd control AND a decent tank - you can't just do one or the other it seems! I did two partial runs and one full run there over the weekend, ending up less than 300 points short of revered. Very disappointing, but at least I can complete the rep grind with just two daily quests.

Both partial runs called it a day just after The Gauntlet, with the side groups of Mortal Strike orcs and the big group with the Legionnaire causing us problems. Mortal Strike is a real nightmare to heal through if you're not a priest..

A bigger trauma for the weekend - having deleted my level 6 warrior on Thursday in order to free up a mule slot for my alliance hunter, I then recreated him and levelled him to 11 in my "spare" moments this weekend. Despite all the frustrations I know prot warriors face, the bad tank experience on Friday night had me wanting to tank again. And orcs are just much cooler than my retired undead warrior - I was recently in Shadow Lab with a perfectly good undead warrior but their short, hunched-over look puts me off being one again.

Bizarrely, an article on WoW Insider on the central gripe of the class - tank warriors are the least able of all classes to solo in their instance spec - had actually got me thinking fondly of warriors again before the run that put me over the edge...

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Orc rejoicing

Our shoulders are restored!

More Kara

Once again I could only do one day of our team's two days in Kara this week, because of work commitments. The Curator had been downed on their first visit, so our target was Aran. Sadly not to be - we had 4 attempts, which failed due to combinations of bad luck and bad timing, and then decided to do the Chess event before the trash respawned. I'd have rather we'd beaten our heads against him until he surrendered, but it turned out that easy purples where a much better option!

Fat lootz: Triptych Shield of the Ancients

I still couldn't bring myself to delete my orc warrior mule, but he's getting it in the neck when I next log in (almost certainly...).

Monday, 24 September 2007


Not much play this weekend due to real life. I had a fairly bad LF1M: tank on friday night, just to contradict my previous optimism on the subject. After trying for a good while we gave up, and I went to level my NE hunter.

Managed to get a reasonable PUG to Shadow Labyrinth on Saturday, netted me some rep but still no Tidefury drop from Murmur. Need several more runs before I get to Revered though, so hopefully it'll drop on one of them.

I've got 9 horde characters on the server, plus the night elf. Which is a pain because it means he has no auction mule. I went to delete my level 6 orc warrior to make space, but just couldn't do it. I still have vague fantasy that I'd level him up one day to be a tank. I know this is a bad idea - I've already retired a level 60 prot warrior due to the frustrations of the class - you can't solo, tanking a bad PUG is a nightmare, the serious gear dependancy, etc. But, but... tanking is fun. Orcs are cool...

By coincidence, Kinless' recent post provided a valuable reality check / reinforcement to what I know already. Just need to keep reminding myself that I have a top-class healer, and that usually finding a group is fine.

In my maybe level stable:
Level 21 BE paladin. Can heal and tank - grouping will be easy. Also looks cool in plate armour, but I'm really not sure I'm all that keen on the class.
Level 34 NE hunter. Sure, they're common as mud. I want to see the game from the other factions view - if nothing else just strolling around Ironforge is pretty damn cool. And a hunter is perfect for this - for an alt that I'm rarely on, and who's the wrong faction so I can't keep an eye on LFG (even assuming people would want to group with him!), being a class who can solo the game is a bonus.
Level 32 NE druid. The advantages of the paladin, but can DPS as well. And stealth. I'm trying Balance at the moment, since I don't enjoy feral levelling. My gear is all wrong though, so it's not going very fast. There's also the slight issue that druids are probably the least popular healing class, due to only being able to res once every 30 minutes.

Update: Now Revered with the Mag'har.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Kara Team 3

A while back our Karazhan team 1 disintergrated, due to a combination of summer holidays and other real life commitments. It's now being re-formed, although we're now called team 3. We had our first run last night which went pretty well - over half the raid had good experience of the place (although some where on new characters) and we all seemed fairly well geared. Four bosses down last night, it will be interesting to see how far past the Curator they get tonight, although sadly I can't join them.

Fat lootz: Totem of Healing Rains

Monday, 17 September 2007

Goals - updated

Just thought I should post a revised Goals list, rather than editing the previous one and hence losing the record. Remaining goals (from that list) are -

Complete Tidefury set (for the looks): 1/5

Netherdrake (to make the stepsons happy)

Revered with Lower City (Lower City Prayerbook and key): Honoured
Revered with Thrallmar (Head enchant and key): Honoured
Revered with Mag'har (Transmute recipe): Honoured
Revered with Sporeggar (Transmute recipe): Honoured
Revered with Keepers of Time (key): Honoured
Exalted with the Violet Eye (ring upgrades): Honoured

Note: I'm no longer aiming for Revered with the Scryers, as elemental is my third-choice spec and hence the Scryer's Bloodgem isn't that desirable. Although I prefer Elemental to Enhancement as a dps build I'm pretty set on just healing. Still need an Enhancement set for when WotLK is released though.

Heroic Keys:
Hellfire Citadel.
Caverns of Time.

Get 355 Fishing skill (so I can reliably catch Zangarian Sporefish).
Recipe: Elixir of Major Mageblood (so I can make all my own raid buffs).

PUG insanity

A very busy weekend of WoW (by my recent standards) got me to Revered with The Sha'tar, the rather nice Alchemist's Stone, and consequently made me totally skint.

It also let me put several ticks in the "stick with the shaman" box, which gives me a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling.

* Reason shamans are cool: Bloodlust on the boss fights

The Shattered Halls run I went on mainly for Thrallmar rep was one of those "LF healer, last spot" requests that we all love. The start of the run was a bit worrying - the tank and rogue didn't seem to want to wait for us mana users between fights, and the presence of an unguilded hunter always adds a slight shiver of apprehension.

However, the hunter turned out to be very competent, and it was a very quick, clean run with no deaths. Despite our first proper mana break being just before Warbringer O'mrogg.

* Reason shamans are cool: At the end of a fight you can throw a new Earth Shield on your impatient tank, then (mostly calmly) sit and drink while he starts on the next group. Just don't let him get too far out of range...

I then got a group together a group for Mechanar, with two other shamans from the guild, the hunter from the SH run, and a druid tank. It was pretty chaotic, partially because one of the shamans seemed to think the game was to win the threat meters, but with two off-healers and insane dps we got through it with a few wipes.

* Reason shamans are cool: When Pathaleon the Calculator got down to 50% all three shamans dropped their fire elementals, and the boss disappeared in a wave of orange. Scared the life out of the tank though - he thought they were boss adds!

A quick counterpoint to the "shortage of tanks" post, for the five instances I ran (Arcatraz (twice), Mechanar, Botanica and Shattered Halls) there were no problems finding a tank (two druids, two warriors and a paladin).

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

More healing

I'm getting increasingly confident in my ability to main heal a 5-man group, although sometimes non-guildies don't share my confidence - at least at the start of a run.

I'm still wishing for an aggro dump (die + ankh + mana pot works nicely but you can't do it often...!). And although chain heal is lovely, you need to be on your toes to move into range of the melee or the ranged groups to make best use of it. While keeping track of totems and remembering to throw the occasional Bloodlust in.

I'm going to get my paladin to at least level 40, to get the mount and plate armour, and get a better idea of what I think of the class. On the one hand I'm cautious of levelling a tank because tanks are so gear dependant - and paladins especially so - that it's harder to be ready to step into that role than it is for a healer. On the other hand although I've been concentrating on gearing up my healing set on my shaman, in the process I've collected an enhancement set that's at least as good (although I'm not going to need it until I start levelling to 80), and an elemental set that's nearly as good.

As long as I stop wavering between my characters: it's a lot easier to gear one character for two roles than it is to gear two characters!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

A Crossroads

I levelled Gulwyr, my paladin, up to 21 at the weekend, and in the process finished all the quests in Ghostlands apart from the 3 group quests in Deathholme. I'm not quite sure yet what I think of paladins - on the plus side they're pretty resiliant (although if you get overconfident that's quickly no longer the case), my retribution build and 2-hander means I kill stuff fairly quickly with little downtime, and I'm looking forward to one day kitting him out in a full set of Imperial Plate armour to confuse my fellow Hordies.

On the downside, can I really face levelling another character? There's a few other question marks too - I already have one character who's a damn good healer, but not the priest that people really want (and another who actually is a priest but I don't like). A plus of a paladin is that he can tank as well - my plan would be to heal or tank for 5 mans, and heal in raids, but that would get expensive in respec costs. But it really comes down to can I face The Crossroads and southern Barrens again...

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Post Holiday Update

Been off on holiday for a couple of weeks, so no WoW. On my return I joined the guild's first trip into Gruul's Lair, which wasn't our best evening ever. I'm wondering if we're starting to run into the limits of a casual raiding guild, but I hope not. We had two problems - firstly a bit too much casualness, which meant we got less attempts on the High King between trash respawns than you'd ideally like, but the most glaring issue was the lack of a mage with tonnes of stamina.

One of the High King's adds is a mage that needs to be tanked by another mage using Spellsteal to avoid most of the damage, but has to be able to take a nearly 10k hit when the stolen spell expires. We had two mages, but neither had anything near the 10k unbuffed stamina that's recommended, so we didn't progress. We learned a lot about the pull, and got the first add down several of times and did heavy damage to the next two, but that was it. As with all learning wipe nights it was rather frustrating, and it seems rather ridiculous to me that an early fight like this should need one individual to be able have stats so far off the class norm, otherwise the entire 25 man raid fails. We'll get a mage geared up, but with a casual guild you can never quite know which mages will be there next time...

I've spent some more time with my new paladin. I'm not yet sure this is where I want to go - I'm still attached to Grulnak (shamans are my guild's 3rd least played class, and I'm one of the few resto shamans) - and I know that paladins have limitations. But in the next several months I need to decide which character will be my main, and spend very little time with my alts. The paladin has promise, I especially like that they can grind in their tanking spec, unlike my retired level 60 prot warrior. I'll level him some more to see how I like the feel of the class, but I may well find I end up sticking to my "orc priest".

Monday, 20 August 2007

The perceived lack of tanks

Following the early break up of Karazhan run on Friday night, the other current issue with WoW highlighted itself nicely. That is, for the PvE endgame - whether you're just after better gear, want to see the content, or whatever - you need to group, and for a group you nearly always need a tank and a healer. And at the moment there's a perceived shortage of tanks. On Thursday our guild had a four man group looking for a tank to go to Shadow Labs. And at the same time there were 3 other groups on the Horde side of the server, all doing a "LF1M: need tank for SL".

Of the three tanking classes, the Horde are very short of level 70 paladins (most of which are holy anyway), there are a fair few feral druids, and very few tanking warriors.

The issue seems to be two fold:

Firstly, tanking for a bad group is a nightmare - hence why I (and say a "perceived lack" - it's hard to find a tank for a PUG, less hard for guild groups and easy for raids.

Secondly, while there are plenty of warriors around (who after all are the main tanking class) they're predominantly arms. Not only is arms the best spec for PvP / arena, but questing / grinding / doing anything other than instancing is horrible when prot spec'd. So although arms warriors are able to tank if they feel like it, they don't feel like it. Which isn't really surprising: by now they've been 70 long enough to get the instance gear they want, and without a tanking build a PUG just doesn't appeal. Instead arms warriors will PvP, or perhaps tank for a guild group, and prot warriors will level a warlock (or other solo-friendly class) until their next scheduled raid.

I'm wondering if the Death Knight class is Blizzard's response to the lack of tanks. And if so, I'm wondering if it'll work - which part of the tanking / dps hybrid will players prefer do you think...?

Anyway, in response to all of this my alt-ism kicked in again. I've deleted the orc hunter I've decided had a dopey face and a name I wasn't totally happy with, and I've started levelling a BElf paladin. There will come a time that I'm going have to settle on one of my alts and only (or nearly only) play him. So I think one that can either tank or heal (with the proper gear and talent build) might suit me best. I quite like the idea of a character who can tank or heal and also stealth, so there's also my Alliance druid under consideration, but I'm a bit to attached to my guild to switch factions permenantly. And our guild's awash with druids already.

Friday, 17 August 2007


Yet again I'm wondering whether I should re-roll, but more on that later.

Last night highlighted a couple of the main issues with WoW at the end game, at least one of which is deeply embedded in the game design.

Our Kara team two had 9 people signed up for last night's run. We like to take 3 healers, and at least 1 priest (shadow or healer) - we didn't have one. We managed to find a non-guild priest, who unfortunately turned out to be a complete disaster, and after wiping 3 times on Moroes we called it a night. Given that we usually clear the place in 2 or 3 nights, this was rather frustrating.

Problem number 1: Karazhan - in particular the Moroes and Maiden fights - can't be done without a priest. Why design an instance for that small a group that needs one specific class? Why can't you just take 3 healing classes? OK, it might be harder without the right class balance, but it shouldn't be near-impossible (OK, it's almost certainly possible without one for the right over-powered team, but then why are they there in the first place?).

Supplements to problem 1: If Karazhan didn't need attunement we could have brought another guild priest. If Kara wasn't a raid on a long timer we could have borrowed a priest from team one. Given that we're trying to gear up to 25 man raids, it's a pain to be rigidly stuck into those 2 sub-groups in the meantime.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Wrath of the Lich King: Talents

It's still months (years?) before release, but I'm already unhappy about what I read about talents in the next expansion - Wrath of the Lich King. That is, that there are new ones (not too surprising really). Presumably this means that the top talent in a tree will be a 51 pointer. I was hoping they'd raise the talent limit every second expansion, but apparently not.

As a shaman I need to spec deeply into one tree to be viable in the PvE endgame, but at the moment some classes can manage a more rounded spec. Surely that will change when the best you can do is 20 points in a secondary tree?

On the other hand, I'm probably wrong. I didn't like the idea of dual wielding shamans when I first saw it, but it was nice as a levelling spec.

As an aside, the press release announcing the Burning Crusade came out on 28 October 2005, the game was released on 16 Feb 2007. WotLK was announced on 3 Aug 2007, any bets on a December 2008 release? The news on it so far makes it sound like the release date will be closer than that - there's even rumours of a May release - but we'll see it when it's ready...

Win some, lose some

Had a guild run in Shattered Halls last night, and got my first piece of dungeon set 3 when the Tidefury Shoulderguards dropped from Warbringer O'mrogg. However my enduring memory will be of having the Major Mageblood elixir recipe drop in a group with three alchemists. Ah well, at least there's now someone in the guild who can make them. Really want that recipe..!

I'm progressing nicely through Honoured with Thrallmar and Lower City, less so with the Sha'tar. I'll get there eventually though.

I'm in Karazhan again tonight following the reset. Tuesday's run went very well from a rep point of view - we killed Nightbane and the Prince, which meant I could complete the New Directive quest line. No luck on my rolls for a nice healing mace or neck, but as they went to raid regulars I can't really complain. I did get the Scaled Breastplate of Carnage though, which was otherwise unwanted, as we had no sharder.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Into Karazhan

Just a quick update ahead of my first Karazhan run with Grulnak tonight.

I logged on to WoW early on Sunday and asked in guild if anyone wanted to do Black Morass, and pretty much instantly had a full group. Our druid tank was the off-tank for our most advanced Karazhan group (although his prediction that he'd basically not need healing turned out to be untrue), and a rogue, warlock and hunter rounded out the group nicely.

We cleared the place fairly easily, netting me my Kara key in the process, then went back in to do it again as three of us needed drops from the place. Unfortunately nothing useful appeared, although the warlock got a nice staff for her off-spec set.

I'd previously netted the Stormsong Kilt from a heroic Underbog run, which resolved my worries over getting enough int together. With some appropriate gems and spellthread they're now my main healing legs, and my previous pair go into my stamina set for fights like Aran and Illhoof.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


Finally got a successful run through Shadow Labs last night, so I've now got my Auchenai Boots. A bit of a strange run - it was all good up to the warlock boss, where we wiped 3 or 4 times. But once we had him down we got Murmur first time.

That leaves me with just a sub-par trinklet and bracers to replace, although the bracers do give nice mp5, and OK int and +healing. I'm now up to our guild minimum stats for Karazhan (although I don't have the last key fragment yet) for health, mp5 and +healing, but well short in mana. With some top range enchants I can just squeeze up to the limit, but it's going to be close. It's also going to be expensive, which is a shame as I'm rather skint at the moment.

I'm also up to Honoured with Lower City and the Scryers, and 5999/6000 through Friendly with the Sha'tar.

And then comes the dilemma. Just as I'm about to log out for the night I get a whisper from our Kara team 2 leader - can I bring Tukkillen my shadowpriest to replace a rogue that's had to log out? The run's gone on pretty late, but they just have Netherspite and Illhoof to kill for a full clear.

Of course I go, and we down Netherspite on about the third attempt (a first kill for that team), and then finish off with Illhoof. And I had a great time. There are good things about being a healer - being able to help out when someone asks in the guild chat, and a good sense of achievement from keeping people alive, but DPS (when it's not become too routine) is a blast. Whether it's burning through trash we used to have to take slowly and carefully, or those last few seconds of a tight boss fight: he has 8k health left, one mage is a squishy mess on the floor, you're pretty much out of mana and then the tank dies! Will it be you or the boss?

There were also some nice comments in Ventrilo from my group about having a mana battery around, which was nice too.

So what now do I do?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Nearly ready for Kara

It's been a hectic week at work, so I've not really had the time nor inclination to spend time with this blog, but I have managed to squeeze in the odd bit of WoW.

The drive for better gear is going quite well, with neck, chest and leg pieces from group quests and a new cloak crafted by my priest. I also got two upgrades to my main hand in a single day, the second of which came from a ridiculously lucky Botanica run where I got 6 drops in all. As well as the healing main hand I received enhancement drops for my off-hand, chest, back, waist and feet. We sharded 2 blues in all, one of which was a nice 2 handed axe that I thought I'd better pass on, mainly because when enhancement I duel wield, but also because by this time the group's sense of humour was failing them. They didn't mind too much, as we had 3 cloth-wearing DPS they couldn't use any of the items that I received, but I think they might have liked at least 1 cloth drop (the other sharded blue was a piece of plate that the tank didn't need...).

"All" I need now is the key fragment from Arcatraz, a successful BM run, and upgrades to my wrists and feet.

Just to keep tab of my goals, I should also note that I've got hold of the Shadow Lab and Shattered Halls keys. The Sethekk run for the former started at midnight - my wife thinks I'm mad for some reason...

Monday, 30 July 2007

All the priests are shadow...

OK, that may not be quite true, but for some reason it certainly doesn't seem too hard to get a main healing spot these days as a resto shaman.

I've healed Shadow Labs once (while still level 69) and Steamvaults twice, and so far had no problem with mana or keeping people alive. This seems to be pretty promising for my intended route as a healer in the end game, especially as I still have 4 or 5 pieces of my "starting" healing gear to collect.

The runs may have been helped by decent groups (two PUGs and a guild group), so I may be being over optimistic, but the changes to the restoration tree with Burning Crusade (especially the addition of Earth Shield) certainly seem to have made resto shaman very viable. My main problem at the moment seems to be that the ranged DPS all tend to spread out, so Chain Heal can't really be used. I'd also really love an aggro dump, but lacking that the options seem to be to whip out my earth elemental really quickly (hoping that the 20 cooldown is up), or die (since I when I do get aggro, I seem to get 2 or 3 mobs at once).

In the process of these healing runs I've collected 2/3 of my Karazhan key, and reached Revered with Cenarion Expedition, so that's a couple of goals ticked off. I still need to get a heap of mp5, and a slightly larger mana pool, before I'm ready for Karazhan though.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Ding - 70!

Finally reached level 70 today! But it was a real anti climax...

I'd been doing a few quests around Netherstorm and knew I was close, but the magic XP came from talking to Foreman Sundown when I wasn't really expecting it. My reaction was "oh" rather than "Yay!".

I did the usual level 70 things - buying my flying mount (fun, but Tukkillen my priest has one already), getting my final skills training and then.

Well, I've got a few quests to finish up for some nice healing rewards and to get the Arcatraz key quest started. But then I've a load of instance grinding to do before I can join my guild back in Karazhan, and suddenly the goal I've been working towards for the last month or so seems like a rest-stop rather than a destination.

It shouldn't be a surprise really, but it is a mild disappointment.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


A reasonably complete list of goals. Except that by the time I've completed these I'll no doubt have another list...!

Pre-Kara healing list: 8/17
Complete Tidefury set (for the looks): 0/5

Tawny Windrider
Swift Brown Wolf (have the skill already, but don't want to spend the money until I can get to Arcatraz)
Netherdrake (to make the stepsons happy)

Revered with the Sha'tar (Alchemist's Stone recipe and key): Neutral
Revered with Lower City (Lower City Prayerbook and key): Neutral
Revered with the Scryers (Scryer's Bloodgem): Friendly
Revered with Thrallmar (Head enchant and key): Honoured
Revered with Cenarion Expedition (Transmute recipes and key): Honoured
Revered with Mag'har (Transmute recipe): Honoured
Revered with Sporeggar (Transmute recipe): Honoured
Revered with Keepers of Time (key): Friendly
Exalted with the Violet Eye (ring upgrades): Neutral

Normal Keys:
Shadow Labyrinth Key.
Shattered Halls Key.
The Arcatraz Key.

Heroic Keys:
Hellfire Citadel.
Coilfang Reservoir.
Tempest Keep.
Caverns of Time.

Raid Keys:
Karazhan key shards: 0/3
Complete Black Morass for Karazhan Key.

Get 355 Fishing skill (so I can catch Zangarian Sporefish).
Recipe: Elixir of Major Mageblood (so I can make all my own raid buffs).

One level to go...

And then the real work starts.

My healing gear is coming along nicely, with a good run main-healing Old Hillsbrad netting me my Tarren Mill Defender's Cinch and getting me very nearly to level 69. I also got lucky and picked a pair of Pauldrons of Surging Mana cheaply from the AH.

But there will still be plenty of instances to grind between hitting 70 and getting into Kara, especially as I want an Alchemist's Stone. It's a nice enough trinklet for anyone, but even more so for shamans with our poor mana efficiency. It's also probably the toughest item on my "must get" list to obtain, given where you need to go to get rep with The Sha'tar.

Between some nice rewards from group quests, PvP items (Veteran's Ringmail Bracers - niiice, although that resilience is basically wasted in PvE) and some rep rewards, you're a lot less reliant on drops in the Burning Crusade than you were at level 60. That doesn't make rep grinds any less painful though.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Character or avatar?

n: An image representing a user in a multi-user virtual reality

This blog is called Orc Shaman, however my titular shaman, Grulnak, hit level 68 2 nights ago whereas Tukkillen, my troll priest, is raiding Karazhan (just Nightbane to go for a full clear). So am I just confused, or what's going on?

When I started playing World of Warcraft I had various friends playing on the Horde side, so my choice of character race was easy - it had to be an orc. After being advised not to chose rogue or warrior (although I've since levelled an undead warrior to 60 and had some good times tanking with him) the choice of class was pretty easy too, and so I rolled a shaman as my first character.

There's loads of great things about shamans - the lore, the versatility, some of the unique spells (water walking anyone?), but at the time I hit 60 it was an overplayed class (due to the perceived power in PvP) and being a hybrid wasn't that much in demand for the end game. So while I'm in no way a hardcore raider I rolled a priest (a class that's both underplayed and in demand) to at least see the end game.

I chose a troll priest, partly because (at least when they stand up straight!) they're the tallest race in the game, and also because I liked the idea (and the exclusivity) of being a troll voodoo witchdoctor, instead of the ubiqutous undead priest. And he did very well for me, getting me into MC, Onyxia's Lair, BWL (very briefly), ZG and AQ20.

However, perhaps because he'd been created as a tool to do a job, perhaps because trolls look so damn stupid in their priestly robes, or perhaps because he wasn't my first character, I just don't have empathy for Tukkillen that I do for my shaman.

So, do I chose by character and get my shaman levelled up, attuned and geared, and then take my Chain Heal to Karazhan, or do I stick with my avatar and keep DPSing (and acting as a mana battery for my group) into the end game?

At the moment the choice is clear, so I'm levelling Grulnak up as fast as I can. But don't be surprised if I get an attack of altism, and this becomes a blog about a priest.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Rune-Inscribed Parchment

I blame Kinless. That may seem a little unfair, but it's his blog that got me posting.

I spend a fair amount of time playing WoW, and a fair amount more reading about it. I've thought about blogging about it in the past, and never really got my act together, but his recent posting made me realise how useful a blog could be as a history of my gaming. I can't really remember where I was in the game a year ago, but I think it'll be pretty interesting to look back a year from now and see what I was doing and thinking.

Assuming I stick with it, and this doesn't become another of those abandoned blogs...