Thursday, 11 December 2008

Another instance and some consensual PvP

I've now added Drak'Tharon Keep to my collection (in non-heroic mode obviously). A slightly worrying group - 3 death knights and a rogue - but it all turned out well. It's nice that Wrath instances are fairly short, so you can think "yes, I can fit an instance in" at the end of the evening. I replaced three more epics with drops and quest blues - I must remember in future that not only does all-melee make Chain Heal even more useful than usual, but also there's no loot drama (for me at least).

I also spent some time in Venture Bay to get coins for the Totem of the Bay. I quite like how there are PvP dailies in the Grizzly Hills - it's a small dose of PvP just to remind us that the Alliance and us are not friends, but without the grief of being on a PvP server. Even when flagged, there seems to be more of a truce on a "carebear" server. It's still annoying when you get overwhelmed by a level 80, but the frequent ganking that's so annoying isn't a factor.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Levelling pressure - counterpoint

Just to balance out my earlier post, I had an enjoyable evening of "not yet at the end game" WoW tonight. While listening to our two teams who were in Naxx (and congratualting them on their progress - 3 bosses for one group and 4 for the other) I'd done a fair few quests and was getting ready to log for the night when some guildies started talking about going to the Nexus. Not having been on a successful run there I volunteered to heal.

I'm not quite sure about the look of the place - it felt a bit too Outland-y to me - but then I suppose a mage's tower and a space ship are fairly close in concept (to paraphrase Arthur C Clarke).

Anyway, it was a good run - plenty of banter, no wipes and only two deaths (the mage who AoE'd without warning, and the tank on the last boss shortly before the boss went down). It was also a complete contrast to my only visit there with Grulgok, where we couldn't get past phase 2 on Grand Magus Telestra. The last boss, Keristrasza, is a real pain to heal as a shaman, since the central mechanic is that you can't stand still for long without getting a nasty debuff. It would have been slightly easier if I was full resto spec and hence had Riptide - in fact that talent would probably by itself have removed most of the stress. The BC and WotLK talent changes really have made us so much more complete healers...

As a side note, until you've raided yourself the zones and bosses don't mean much to you. When someone says "we've downed Boss N" at the moment I'm kind of asking myself "Nice work, but is that like downing Attumen or like downing Netherspite...?". Must get into Naxx...

Not hardcore

Apparently if you have a level 80 already then you're hardcore - in that case being one blob short of 75 I'm definitely in the casual crowd these days.

I'm currently in the Grizzly Hills, having previously mostly completed Dragonblight, and in general I'm really enjoying exploring the new zones and doing new and fairly varied quests. Uncovering sights such as the Ebonhold (??) or visiting Dalaran have been real treats, but overlaying the whole experience is the feeling that I'm just not levelling fast enough. It's entirely in my mind, but there's definitely a sense of pressure there. My guild has their first Naxx raids tonight, and I'm quite disappointed to be as far "behind" as I am. Being a large guild there are always some that are ahead of the curve, but I'm feeling way behind the curve.

For a while now I've been focussing on Grulnak at the expense of my warrior, but from now that focus will mean that all other alts are totally on the back burner until I'm levelled and geared. I'm questing reasonably efficiently at the moment - or at least I assume so as it seems that I'm often handing in several quests at a time - while still paying some attention to the quests and absorbing at least a bit of the lore, but levelling is seeming really slow. At the current rate I'm doubting I'll ever have a second level 80, but if the next expansion is another 18+ months away then that view may well change.

It sounds like Naxx is reasonably undemanding in terms of gear compared to Karazhan, and Drugfreeyth's Shields Up! blog seems like a great resource to help me get geared up quickly. My goal now is to ensure that when my guild starts to move beyond Naxx I'm ready to go with them. Our raiding is inclusive enough that I'm not worried that I'll get excluded, but more that I want to be in the early waves to see the content and be in on some guild first kills not in the later stage when the raids are on farm and alts start to go through.

In other news I've now met my first nature immune mob, which in the Burning Crusade was my cue to switch to enhancement. The immunity situation seems less marked this time around, and for now I'll stick with elemental although with my resto-heavy spec it's not nearly as fun as it was at first. I'll see very shortly whether Lava Burst changes that at all. In the meantime I've started to stockpile enhancement quest rewards in case I do switch.

Elemental quest rewards are starting to be significantly better than my current gear in terms of Stamina and less so in Int, but still behind my gemmed and enchanted gear in terms of spell power and crit. My current gear's days are clearly numbered though.

One random thought I had in the Grizzly Hills is that the place doesn't look nearly cold enough. It's got a nice "alpine highland" look to it, but wouldn't it be great if now (in the northern hemisphere winter) it was all snowy, but perhaps in summer looked as it does now?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Grulnak is level 73.5 as of last night, and has maxed out his Herbalism. I hence got a new rank of Lifebloom - which I'd never noticed having before, although I knew in theory that herbalists got some sort of bonus similar to what miners and skinners got. Although I'm able to self-heal anyway I really like Lifebloom - not only does it have the obvious bonus of needing no mana I love the way little flowers grow around you when you use it.

I'm noticing an improvement in levelling speed now that I'm using QuestHelper - I can't recommend it enough - although I'm finding myself hampered by bag space issues. I really need to use up the old buff food / elixirs I'm carrying around - or at least vendor them.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Azjol-Nerub is how dungeons really ought to be - and is also a complete nightmare.

It's potentially quite a short instance, consisting as it does of two bosses preceeded by trash waves, followed by a final boss, so it may well prove to be a popular instance for farming at heroic level.

It's a refreshing change from instances where you slowly work your way through a room full of mobs a handful at a time, each waiting their turn to be slaughtered. The trash for the first boss is on a timer, so if you kill a group too slowly you have problems getting mana back before the next, and so on to the inevitable conclusion. The second boss is similar, in that he works his way towards you.

It took the group I was with several wipes, some respecs and changes to composition before we got through to the end though. We started off with a well-geared but low level (72) warrior tanking with a death knight DPSing and myself healing with my 32/0/31 grinding spec. The tank and DK then respecced to swap roles with myself respeccing to a fuller healing build which gave me Earth Shield - 22/0/41. This worked better but we still had lose casters causing damage and far too much inbound damage in general. We then lost our two plate wearers who coincidently were replaced by higher level equivalents (this time both level 74) and managed to clear the place. It was still rather touch-and-go in places though, and I had to blow a number of potions to make up for the lack of drinking time between waves. I didn't have any problems with the "potion sickness" debuff though - perhaps this is only confined to raids?

At the end of it all I got two more blue quest rewards that replaced old epics - but at least I've not yet replaced an epic with a green.

My other conclusion for the weekend was that elemental dps really is a bit dull. I was doing a quest to kill 30 undead which turned out to be kill 10, drink, repeat. Due to the way the mobs of that quest spawn there wasn't even interest to be gained from travelling to find the next group. From a character point of view I prefer elemental to enhancement, but the constant lightning bolts are rather repeatative. Perhaps Lava Burst in a few levels will make things a bit more interesting.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A tale of two rogues

I played a couple of sessions on my rogue Grulnika recently which turned out very differently.

The first was for a bit of a breather after playing Grulgok my warrior, which proved to be a mistake. I was being fairly blase about attacking mobs, relying on my superior damage to take them down, and tackling some quest mobs which were orange to me. As a result I needed to use escape moves such as Sprint and Vanish much too often, and was still dying occasionally when these didn't rescue the situation. Then as I prepared to log out I realised that I hadn't even been using poison on my weapons.

The second session was far more rogue-like in objectives and playstyle. I did the quest to kill Captain Ironhill in Dun Garok using lots of stealth and distract to mainly only kill the mobs that were in my way, and tracked down the Captain in what I think is an alternative spawn point for him. Either that or I'm getting the various dwarf fortresses mixed up. Anyway it was a far more satisfying experience and felt far more right for the character.

At the end of this though I'm still left with an underlying problem in that I don't really have a feel for rogue combat and just don't enjoy it. So while I'd love to have Grulnika able to open any lock in the game, or sneak around Ironforge, a normal instance run will never be fun with her.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Expansion? Not yet...

My pre-order didn't arrive in time, so no Northrend for me.

Instead I spent yesterday evening getting the last quarter of a level on my warrior and then doing a bit of fishing on my shaman while listening enviously to my guild's discussions of the new zones.

On the plus side the launch, or at least the servers, seem more stable that with the Burning Crusade. No midnight crash this time!

On the fishing front, it was painfully slow getting from 325 to 327 skill. I'm not sure whether I'll bother with this profession in the expansion. However, it was good to be able to fish up the Lurker, or to sit and fish while waiting for a Kara or SSC raid to form up.

The pause while waiting for the expansion has given me time to consider which characters to level. My current plan is to level my shaman first, then get my rogue to 60 using Refer a Friend, then my warrior to 80 while occasionally spending some time on my Alliance druid.

My shaman will be my main raid character, so I want to get him levelled and geared before my guild get too many first kills without him.

While it may make more sense to have my level 60 hunter as my dps character, and they are better as a soloing character because of the pet and the ability to kite, I think that a rogue will be more fun in that she can sneak around. I also quite fancy getting some rep with Ravenholdt - that whole side-plot has always appealled to me dispite the way that Blizzard has kind of left the story hanging with no real point to it. Ideally I'll get her levelled before the 90 day link on the Refer a Friend account expires.

I'm still not sure about the druid, although that's my most likely Alliance character at the moment. I don't like feral dps, so levelling a class that I don't like a quarter of is inherently questionable. However as long as balance continues to seem viable as a levelling spec then he has a good chance - and in two levels he gets Innervate. I like his overall look, and the various coolness aspects of the class such as aquatic and flight form (one day!), and sneaking around as a cat. And support classes just suit my play style. If male humans looked a bit less, well, odd, then human paladin might well be my main, and druids are a good second choice.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

WoW dead end and the Gnomeregan Problem

My levelling experience on a PvP server was undoubtedly made less painful by the fact that Azeroth is empty at the moment, and hence ganking was rare. This was fine for me as an experienced player, but I'd really hate to start WoW for the first time at this stage.

As players inevitably get bored and leave the game, if there's a barrier to entry to new players then that ultimately spells a problem for the game. New players will still get hooked on the easily and polished introductory experience, but probably at about level 20 they'll realise that most of the game is at the end game which is 60 (and presumably later 70 and 80) levels away. Some will be happy to level slowly and enjoy the journey, but not all.

I'm wondering how Blizzard is planning to tackle this - will all characters soon start at level 55, with an introductory process to teach them how to play their class? Or does WoW just have a built-in expiry date?

There's also the Gnomeregan Problem, in that for years the vast majority of players have been able to reclaim the gnome's homeland solo, but they're still exiled, and even more so for the Darkspear trolls. More bothering to me is that Ragneros - a god - is now a pushover at 70, and presumably will be trivial at 80. Although there are upsides to this - our guild ran Blackwing Lair after the 3.0.2 nerf and so I got to see a zone I'd wanted to see for a long time - it also damages the feel of the game. It's traditional in computer games for the player to overcome challenges that should be impossible, but you just can't see LotRO ever letting the player slay a major figure in this way.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Top 10 WoW Memories - 5 to 1

5. Fury in Feralas - I started levelling Shank, my warrior, using a 1 hander and shield. I realised it was painfully slow going so tried a 2-hander for a while, but decided that the extra damage taken wasn't worth the trade off and went back to sword and board. This was before I discovered bandaging between fights rather than eating! Then at level 44 I finally switched to a dual wielding Fury build, and loved it. The endless rage generation, Bloodthirst, the various procs and the constant stream of damage numbers was just a world away from waiting for a slow 2-hander to swing.

4. Proving the rogue wrong - back when the end boss of Sunken Temple was a level 55 elite, Shank answered a "LF tank, last spot" call while "only" level 51. A few of the group weren't sure about the idea, most notably the rather vocal rogue, but decided to give it a try. The run was very smooth, earning praise for my tanking from the healer priest. But most personally rewarding, given that I had a levelling dual wield Fury build at the time, was the whisper from the rogue at the end asking "Are you prot?".

3. The Leeroy video - when WoW was first announced I avoided playing it, as I had a good idea of how much time it would take up if I didn't resist. When the Leeroy video came out I crumbled - although the nerdy comedy side of it was pretty unappealing, the look of Blackrock Spire made the game seem just a great realisation of what I saw in my minds eye in my pen and paper roleplaying days. Chalk up one for viral marketing.

2. Venturing out into the world - I still vividly remember crossing the bridge from Durotar to the Barrens for the first time. There was a real sense of stepping into the unknown, and knowing that a lot of stuff out there was seriously threatening to my virtual self. Also first stepping into Ashenvale, into the shadows and the undergrowth, expecting to be ambushed by Night Elves at any moment. Back then I didn't realise that, on a PvE server, you're actually quite safe from the "opposition" nearly all of the time. Walking into Thousand Needles was also pretty amazing, but from there on the sense of wonder in each new zone slowly diminished, as you get blase eventually.

1. Guild first kill of Hakkar - Zul'Gurub was my guild's first real raiding, as we just weren't big enough to do the 40 man raids such as Molten Core. It was also my first experience of the raid experience of wiping then overcoming. Although some of the ZG bosses were pretty painful we actually clicked on Hakkar on our first night of trying him, when we thought we were just practising for the next raid when we'd try properly to down him. The great thing about the Hakkar fight is that when you "get it" there's a great rhythm to it, the coordination of 20 people culminating in the kill was a great moment.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Top 10 WoW Memories - 10 to 6

A shared topic suggestion over at Blog Azeroth finally prompted me to set down my top 10 memories. This is something I was intending as one of my first blog posts, a few things have changed since then, and some great memories added to the list.

Not quite making the list is my number 11 - winning the tier 4 shoulders on our first kill of the High King, the first time I've won tier epic loot. Mainly a milestone because I'd always assumed, back when Molten Core was where you went to raid, that I'd never be a raider. Also because, after a nightmare first few nights in Gruul's Lair, it seemed questionable whether we'd get the momentum to step up from Karazhan to 25-man raiding.

10. Mana battery - Although the most important roles in a raid group are arguably the main tank and healers, most of the time they / we don't get much in the way of appreciation, unless someone has done something obviously outstanding. As a shadow priest you seem to get much more in the way of vocal support, just for being a mana battery.

9. Bandages in Maraudon - fortunately I wasn't one of those healers who only level First Aid at the level cap. As Tukkillen, my priest, a particularly bad pull in Maraudon - where we fought our intended victims followed by two patrols in a row - I managed to save when out of mana by bandaging myself, then one of the DPS, and lastly healed the tank using mana I'd regenerated during the bandaging. I'm not sure anyone else in the group noticed, but I was pretty pleased with myself.

8. Helpful people - this really deserves a higher place, but not enough specific incidents stick in my mind. However, for all the gankers, the ninja looters, the drama queens and the plain insufferable, there are equally times when strangers go out of their way to help you for no benefit to them.

7. Making a killing on the Auction House - I came to the game late, so was approaching the level 40 mount cash crisis while lots of other players were gearing themselves up for Molten Core. Fortunately I was a herbalist at just the right time, when Kingsblood was the only way to grind rep with the Thorium Brotherhood for certain brackets. I knew nothing of why, but one day a guildie announced that they would pay 1 gold for a stack of Kingsblood, sent to him Cash on Delivery. This was a lot to me, so I duely sent him a stack, but he must have been innundated as it was returned a few days later. That weekend I put the same stack on the AH for 5g, which was a huge amount of money to me at the time. Those raiders paid for mounts for first my warrior, Shank, then for Grulnak, before the market calmed down somewhat.

6. Tanking Zul'Farrak - as a shaman. We were having a really bad run, with a classical bad warrior tank who only believed in tanking one target per pull. We'd had a number of wipes, and everyone was getting grumpy with the general lack of mutual trust that develops in that situation. After a last wipe on the "friendly" witchdoctor the warrior quit, and no replacement could be found. Back then a shaman could generate pretty good aggro with Rockbiter, Earth Shock and Lightning Shield, and I considered myself a pretty good tank on my warrior, so I volunteered to give it a go. For some reason the group agreed, and we proceeded to clear the place as a careful, focussed 4-man party.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Some weekend thoughts

I'm getting more and more hopeful that Blizzard is getting on top of the tanking shortage. Although with my usual caveat - the shortage is only there for PUGs, not guild groups or raids, at least in my experience.

The problems with tanking to my mind are (a) it's rewarding rather than fun, and stressful, (b) for warriors, and paladins to a lesser extent (they can AoE grind) if you're specc'd to tank that's pretty much all you can do and (c) to be able to tank an instance you need to have gear nearly on-par with what the instance drops, whereas dps and healers can visit the same instance with a lesser level of gear (at least, in general). Another issue is that, unless you're a druid, if you're an off-tank once your tank target is dead you can't contribute much to the raid.

There are a couple of blue replies from Ghostcrawler on a beta thread about Death Knight tanking that seem to indicate that they're aware of these issues and trying to resolve them, although it sounds like they'll be resolved for Death Knights first then possibly for other tanking classes later.

On a totally separate (but still WotLK-related) subject, although I want to try dpsing in Karazhan as enhancement - to see Windfury apply to me for once rather than the melee in my group - elemental dps suits me more from a character concept point of view. However currently my grinding dps gear is about 50% blue elemental gear and 50% epic resto gear that benefits enough from the +damage that healing gear now provides to be not be a replacement priority. However to be a full-strength dpser I should enchant the gear I have, and I'm certainly not going to put damage enchants on my healing gear. This makes me wonder if, in the expansion, resto shamans will put as much emphasis on crit as elemental shamans. Certainly we benefit from criticals to some extent (with talents such as Ancestral Healing benefiting from crit, and Tidal Mastery increasing it) but my resto gear and talents provide considerably less crit at the moment than would be expected from an elemental shaman. So unless the balance of criticals in a typical resto build changes considerably, the expansion's move to Spell Power rather than damage or healing to reduce the necessity for multiple gear sets would seem only a partial implementation.

And of course, the new Spell Power changes are already causing a fuss in some circles, such as this WoW Insider thread. I'm particularly unimpressed with the mage who think's it's unfair, unless they're given healing spells...

Friday, 1 August 2008


My guild has been focussing on ZA again recently, although I've mainly missed out on the place as I've been focussing my limited raiding on the 25 man raids. This week I've been able to raid quite a bit, so got a good look at ZA along with SSC and Kara all in one week.

It's always fun to see some new bosses, although the enjoyment is rather reduced if you fight them once they've already been learned rather than going through the wiping/learning process. I just followed instructions and healed as much as I could. We killed everything apart from Zul'jin - although my guild has killed him before we just couldn't manage it this time, either having problems with the Eagle phase or being battered enough after the Eagle phase that we'd not really be prepared for the Lynx. The Feather Vortex must be one of the most annoying boss mechanics ever invented, although I assume it's rather trivialised if you have a resto druid. We got as far as Dragonhawk once or twice, but in the end had to call it a night.

After the raid I took stock of my Enhancement gear, which is in pretty good shape and really just needs enchanting to make it ready for Karazhan. Another good gold sink there...

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Remember you're a hybrid

A note for my alt-itis - I was only geared enough to heal last night's speed Kara because I've focussed on my main, and got him well geared.

A great advantage of being a hybrid, especially at this stage of the expansion when people are farming raids for badges rather than gear, is that you can pick up some nice drops for your off-specs. I got 2 nice pieces of enhancement mail from the run, as well as the badge haul and the two tier pieces.

It occurs to me that I need to take advantage of being a hybrid more often, and occasionally spec out of resto for PvE. This might add a bit more fun, and might even make me give up on a few alts - who knows.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Love my guild

I was pottering about in Nagrand when our raid leader proposed a speed Kara.

Plenty of interest from DPS, but only me as healer, until another shaman respecced resto. I was pretty confident we could do it with only 2 healers, the leader was a bit unsure until I assured him it'd be fine.

2 hours and 30 minutes later we'd cleared the place - 2 healers makes for an extra dps spot, which in turn makes the healing easier! One wipe on Netherspite - everyone was too spread out for us to keep up with the healing - and one on the trash just after Chess when a patrol joined in and we'd not quite got our act together after the event.

Even better, I finally got both of the tier 4 drops out of there - a good roll on the helm and being the only needer for the gloves. Just the legs to go and I'm full tier 4..! Oh, and of course we netted a stack of badges apiece.

The full epic mail healing goal can be ticked off now. We may be casual raiders, but we're damn good at it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

More positive tanking

A good night last night. Shank, my warrior, was accepted into Grulnak's guild, and promptly asked to tank Slave Pens. I was a bit unsure of it as I was the minimum level for the instance, but the healer was happy to try it so in we went.

An interesting group - 62 paladin healer and 66 paladin, 63 hunter (one of the guild leader's alts) and 70 enhancement shaman for DPS. The run mainly reinforced what everyone knows already - a guild run is much more fun than nearly any PUG. I happily left the shaman to off tank the kill target and just looked for aggro on everything else. The fun on boss fights was to see if I could keep aggro at least most of the time! My tanking was better thanks to last week's practice, but mainly because I was working with the group not fighting against them.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Step one: acceptance

Im coming around to the view that, however sensible it might be from a real life perspective to only play one character, alt-isis is something I'm stuck with.

Anyway, I've started up Shank (my warrior) again - must stop reading warrior blogs, perhaps that will help!

I was pottering around in Hellfire Peninsula doing that damn quest where you have to kill the fel cannons (it's noticably difficult compared to others of the same level, but I was starting to love fury dps again) when a call in General came for a tank. Not a great run, although I won't go into details, but in some ways quite a good reality check.

I'm fairly sure I used to be a pretty good tank, but now I'm only a fairly average tank - although a lot better than some I've run into! Partly it's rustiness (things like I was forgetting to use Shield Block to make Revenge light up) and partly I can get a bit flustered when things go wrong early in the pull - perhaps because I don't quite have confidence in myself, or perhaps because I don't have confidence in the dps...! I am starting though to learn things like letting the aggro-monster mail wearer off-tank skull, then just concentrating on keeping everything else off the healer.

The tank shortage also seems to be wearing off a bit. I think this has partly been self correcting, as people have seen the shortage and levelled tanks. And it's worth remembering that on the day when you're on your tank you can be in a group that then needs a healer.

I think the rumoured changes in WotLK should help things further - if Death Knights can tank with any talent tree (i.e. just specialising in different directions) then hopefully warriors will also be able to tank while also having a spec that lets them quest. There's also the possibility that we'll be able to switch between two talent trees, which will help even further. That will hopefully fix the tank shortage for 5-man groups (and in anything larger healers remain more in demand than tanks).

Hence, at least for now my plan is -
  • Shaman main
  • Warrior tank alt (ideally geared enough to tank a heroic, but nothing further)
  • My rogue for sneaking around, opening lockboxes, and disenchanting greens
  • And a balance / resto druid for seeing the Alliance side of the game

Friday, 18 July 2008

Goals update

I ran Old Hillsbrad last night, finally ticking off the "Revered with Keepers of Time" goal. While I was there I had a proper look around for the first time, with a visit into Southshore to see some soon-to-be-NPCs, and the bit in the inn where the Scarlet Crusade founders do their thing. I was a bit disappointed to find you can't get as far as Dalaran, but the instance has to have limits somewhere.

It was a slightly daft group - a 66 mage and all the rest of us 70s. We started out pretty complacently before a few deaths made us take things a bit more seriously, and I probably reinforced the DPS warrior's bad habits by healing him far more than would have been possible in a same-level group. Still, a good fun run.

My goals list for Grulnak is now fairly wrapped up. I still need to get to revered with Sporeggar and max out my weapon skills and fishing. I've also still got to complete Magister's Terrace, would love to go to Blackwing Lair, and ideally would take a look at Mount Hyjal. I've also added to that list exhalted with the Cenarion Expedition for the flask recipe, although that's more of a nice to have. I've got other goals to do with gearing (for example I'd like to improve my Scryers rep to get the better shoulder enchant), but I'm now wondering how long it will be before a release date for WotLK is announced, and presumably raiding will start to ramp down. I'll then start to concentrate more on my alts, with a view to getting them to appropriate levels ready for the release.

It's really just a question of how much raid content we'll get to see before the expansion.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Slightly embarrassed

Serpentshrine Cavern last night. Now we have our resist tanks we did Hydross first, getting him on the second attempt in what seemed a very straight forward fight - but which we then noticed was completed 8 seconds before the enrage timer...! Second guild kill and first for me, and netted me the Blackfathom Warbands. A 15% upgrade to the Whirlwind Bracers that I spent many raids waiting to drop from Attumen.

One of the hidden advantages of being a resto shaman is that if healing mail drops, you've got a pretty good chance of an upgrade if you need it - except for those rare occasions when we have 4 or 5 shamans in the raid. I occasionally think back on being a shadowpriest, competion for cloth caster drops is not one of the plus points of that class!

We then went on to Lurker, where my performance was frankly sub-par. Three deaths to spouts in three attempts, including 2 deaths on the go where we got him, very embarrassing. One I'm claiming as a bug - it seems there's a small ledge on the inside of the main ring, if you're swimming there the game still treats you as being out of the water... In my defence I was standing in such a place that if the Lurker went clockwise, which he did every time, then he'd spout me pretty much immediately. However I should have had ample raid warning to get in the water. Must do better!

On a slightly scary note, the first 2 bosses of tier 5 content have no drops left for me (thanks to the drop and my badge boots). I must be a proper raider...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Favourite instance number 2

Blackrock Depths is probably my second favourite instance. It's got a real feel of scale to it, and although it can be confusing the non-linear nature of the place is so much better than the "one long corridor" approach that's so common in a lot of other instances.

Despite spending a lot of time in there on three different characters and taken pretty much every route imaginable I'd never been all the way to the end, with runs usually finishing at the Molten Core portal.

Last night I rectified that, with my trusty Earth Shield and a 2-handed axe talent build. I had a few nasty moments, and a few stupid moments of forgetting to switch to my enhancement gear after casting Earth Shield, but made it through OK. I can see why people didn't bother with the Emporer - The Lyceum is frankly a pain - but I'm glad to have done it.

I also got the Circle of Flame which looks rather good. I might just add that to my "about town" gear set.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Gnomeregan and Stratholme

I spent Sunday morning on my druid, Duillnar, in Gnomeregan with my stepson's paladin. I still don't like that place - partly the look doesn't really work for me, and partly I can never find my way around. Also, how can a place that small ever have been a city for an entire race? Ironforge has a much more epic scale to it, that's what an underground city should be like.

Anyway, we got through it fine, killed the end boss for a nice quest reward, and were finished in time for lunch... :)

I really enjoyed the druid role - although I don't much like feral cat dps the versatility is great. Our tank was a level 46 paladin, who unfortunately didn't really know what he was doing yet, so gave me a chance to occasionally go bear to pull a mob off the healer. Equally I could have healed if we'd needed it.

An odd group set up though - 2 paladins, a holy priest, enhancement shaman and myself. At one point we had a death on a trash pull. "It's OK", said the tank "I can res". "Actually, we can all res" says I...! I wonder how often that happens...

For now I think I'll stick with the druid. Although I could level up my shadow priest, and could still group with the stepson's paladin knowing we just needed to find 3 dps, I like the option of being able to tank.

I then spent Sunday afternoon in Scarlet Strat, and Monday in UD Strat, finishing up some Argent Dawn quests and getting myself up to Revered. My guild wants to see Naxx before it moves to Northrend, and while I had most of the materials to get attuned at Honoured rep getting to Revered with them was unfinished business from pre-Burning Crusade. It turns out that two elemental shaman can kill level 60 elites real quick, at least until we pull too many mobs and casting pushback starts to be a pain. Two shamans and a rogue are even quicker - we built a really good pile of Bile Spewer corpses, and barely saw the Baron before 2 elementals and our own dps downed him.

Seeing the inside of Naxx almost made me wish I'd been more of a hardcore raider before. Almost...

The screenshot above is there to remind me how much I love being an orc, even while I'm dabbling with druidism!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

More alliance alts

My shaman is slightly in limbo at the moment, with real life making raiding difficult. Instead I've been dabbling with alts again...

Big Bear Butt inspired me to start up a Night Elf shadow priest. I think the slightly darker, mysterious side of the NElf lore goes quite well with the class. He's level 12 currently, and I'm enjoying seeing the Draenai starting area for the first time, but I'm not sure about him long term. Having already levelled a 70 shadowpriest there's an easy familiarity to playing him (although I miss a few skills I've not got yet like Psychic Scream). But conversely he's not showing me anything new. I'll probably level him to 20 to get Mind Flay, and to see the rest of the starting quests, but then he'll probably get retired. If you got Shadowform at 20 I'd probably keep him going, because that's when the class becomes really cool, but 20 to 40 is a fair old time commitment, even these days.

The main reason he'll probably get retired though is my druid will probably take his place. I'm looking for a character to go with my stepson's dwarf paladin, and he seems to fit the bill better. Partially because he's feral, and hence in rogue gear, as opposed to the priest in a robe - he just looks cooler. Then there's the ability to do all 3 roles - tank, dps and heal - compared to "just" 2 for the priest. And while I'd rather be tanking in plate than in fur, the shapeshifting thing is rather fun.

I still have to try out my hunter in a good instance group though, just to see how that goes.

And my latest plan is to have a dwarf death knight, once they're released, to satisfy my need for a character in plate. That will also mean I have one each of my three favourite races - along with a slew of other characters I'm doing my best to leave retired.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

What I want in WotLK - more caves

Black Fathom Deeps is my all-time favourite instance in the game, purely for the feel of it as you go inside. For me it invokes my old pen-and-paper RPG days in a way that no other instance quite does. Something to do with the low wide tunnels with sandy floors I think, but I'm not really sure.

Thinking about this today I decided that what I'd most like to see in the expansion is more new cave layouts. I'm not sure what's so right about BFD, but I know that the newness of some of the zones in the Burning Crusade was spoiled by the reappearance of the same old cave layouts we've been seeing all the way through the game. As soon as you go inside you know that there's on or two locations where the quest object will be. A little while ago in Searing Gorge on my hunter I came across a layout I'd not seen before and the disorientation of not recognising it immediately was very welcome.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Fully epic'd - what next...?

A run of the second half of Kara last night netted me enough badges to replace my last blue with the Necklace of Eternal Hope. Now that everyone's in epics I may be relatively only as well geared as my previous best - 2 or 3 purples and Zul Gurub blues - but it feels like some sort of milestone.

The run itself wasn't great - we're now running through second and third alts and the occasional new person. This means some characters are undergeared and too squishy, and understandable mistakes by the newbies can be frustrating. I'm was there for the badges but mainly the t4 head from the Prince to replace my only non-mail item. We didn't down him when we probably should have - the tank was a bit undergeared and didn't really have enough health, but although we got to phase 3 on our third attempt keeping both the tank and the dps alive at that stage proved too much, and we were too tired for a 4th go.

In terms of development of my shaman I'm getting towards the end until the expansion. I'm not sure I want the t4 head piece enough to clear the trash between Curator and Aran again, so I'll keep turning up to our progression raids in SSC and meanwhile do a few other goals like maxing out skills and soloing a few level 60 instances. I'm also going to move my non-resto talent points into Enhancement, purely to get instant ghost wolf. It just seems right for the character.

Apart from that I'm not really sure were to go next. I've decided to park the warlock again - it occurs to me that he doesn't really get me anything new, apart from the possibility of a high level enchanter. If I want to dps I can respec to Elemental and although they're not popular as dps for 5-mans due to the lack of crowd control a warlock is probably the next least popular choice except when there's demons around, as fear and seduce aren't highly throught of.

I might spend some time on my hunter, at least to try some Hellfire Peninsula instances as dps/cc - I want to test instancing with dwarfs and the like. Overall I prefer the Horde as a faction, due to humans being smug and gnomes being gnomes, but I feel that orcs should be in the majority as the centre of the Horde, not a tiny minority as they actually seem to be.

I might level my orc warrior, for tanking and because undead have tiny shoulder armour. This sounds ridiculous, but try comparing how the Warbringer set looks on the two races. Or perhaps (unlikely) if I decide Alliance is where it's at then a human paladin is called for.

I'm also tempted to try Eve Online for a total change.

Fantasy rather than sci-fi is where my heart is though.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

One blue to go

I have my tier 4 chest, now just my neck to replace - and I can do that with 4 more badges...

It was an odd night. We had a fair bit of trouble on Maggy due mainly to clicking problems, but then got Gruul on our first attempt - perhaps we've now really got the hang of Shatters, and we kept both tanks alive throughout which is pretty rare.

Rolled 18 for the chest, but fortunately there was only one other shaman / rogue that needed it (and no paladins in the raid) and he rolled an 8... :)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Locks rock

With a few refinements to my grinding technique following feedback from some guildies the warlock is starting to look really promising.

I'm now using my imp on passive as a mana battery, for his superior regeneration rate, and using fear where possible rather than drain tanking.

I've got some +damage now, although not quite enough it seems, and grinding seems much quicker. I still need a bit more practice though, as unplanned adds can make things a bit dicey, especially caster adds. I occasionally found I was fearing one target out of two or three without having DoT'd it first.

Another advantage I discovered with having the imp out was that I could use him to nuke when necessary. I found when fighting Vilebranch Soothsayers (who heal) that even with Curse of Tongues up they'd often be able to get a heal out. My untalented shadowbolt takes an eternity to cast, so I couldn't stop them that way, and fear wasn't really an option in the surroundings. But if I attacked with the imp as they started to heal between us we could often finish the mob off before the heal landed.

I got him up to 48 at the weekend, and got his enchanting up to 125 so he can disenchant some of his older gear and useless quest rewards. Now it's time to go back to Searing Gorge, where I was so recently with my hunter.

My lock might make it beyond 60, or my warrior itch may become too strong... It's tough having a retired alt with a high level trade skill - when you occasionally need it (in this case to make an enchanting rod) you remember how much time and effort you've put into that character in the past.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Warlock alt?

I didn't get much chance to play over the weekend. What time I had was spent getting an extra level on my lock and getting my head around playing him again. Generally he proved quite fun, but I'd rate him as much less easy than a hunter to play. Part of the problem is that your crowd control (i.e. seduce) is both harder to use and less obvious when it breaks, another aspect is that with a hunter with 3 targets you'd set the pet on one, trap one and let the other hit you a bit while as a lock I was CCing one and trying to DoT and drain-tank the other 2, while having to re-apply CC as well... A bit stressful when you're learning again.

I grouped up with an enhancement shaman in STV to kill an elite troll (slightly problematic, due to add density and my noobness, although he also seemed to have forgotten he could heal himself) and a more powerful elite giant (straight forward). These couple of encounters were a steep learning curve, but also reassuring in terms of the lock's versatility. Overall it seems that while an affliction lock is just a good a grinder as a BM hunter you don't get quite such as feeling of power as the warlock - as a hunter both you and your pet are doing some big hits, while as a warlock it's more about lots of little sources of damage. On the plus side though you can summon whichever minion is the best for the task at hand, and you're much less attached to them if they have to die to keep you alive.

After prompting from my guild that I really needed some +damage instead of just int and stamina, I crafted a couple of items of the Dreamweave set. I'll get the robe when I find some Wildvine, or when the AH price for it drops from insane levels. It sounds like that will help help a lot with the grinding. It's a bit of a bonus that he already has 300 tailoring - as my first tailor to get over level 35 I trained him up ages ago so that he could make decent bags, way before I sent my now-retired priest down the tailoring route.

On the way into work this morning I was pondering if the warlock alt was such a good idea though. There are many factors to this.

Warlocks are a pretty complex class, what with having to keep account of DoT durations, the sheer number of spells (for example, you know what curse to use when, but you just need so many hotkeys for them), and having crowd control that's a little unreliable. Is this a good idea for an alt? On the other hand is there such thing as a simple class, if you want to play it well?

There's the question of what this alt is for. He's not a "tourist" alt, as he's the same faction as my main so visiting all the same places and doing the same quests. Also not a leisure / escape alt - he's in the same guild, so if I'm on him I might be asked to help out if my shaman is needed. Given that, should I just drop the idea of another alt and spend the time on my main? There's plenty of stuff for my shaman to do, even if it's less compelling than the quick rewards of levelling a new character.

There's the fact that I'll very rarely if at all be asked to bring a DPSer to a raid over a healer, even though there are some occasions when you really need a lock or two along. Not something for me to worry about really though - I'd be reluctant to bring an alt to an instance that my main didn't already have all his drops from, as it's frustrating when you see a drop you want but you're on thw "wrong" character.

Another slight worry is that I'm quite goal oriented - I'm already thinking about what gear I'll want for him when he gets to 70. I really must remember this is just an alt. Alongside this is the sheer level of competition for cloth DPS gear - one of the great things about the shaman that gear competition is very low outside of a 25 man raid, you're often the only person there who needs it when the right armour drops.

Overall though I think I'll keep him running - if nothing else my shaman's future is mainly daily quests outside of raids, which don't appeal all that much.

Friday, 6 June 2008


I really can't make my mind up. My hunter dinged 60 last night, picking up a nice blue for a pretty easy quest in the process. And now I'm thinking of retiring him.

I've come to the conclusion that spending time on two characters on two different factions is more hassle than it's worth, especially given my limited playing time.

On the plus side you get to do different quests, and have unfettered access to all of the cities and areas. Especially on the Alliance side some of these are pretty cool - the temple area of Darnassus, Ironforge and Aerie Peak being amongst my favourites.

On the downside you miss out on some of the social side - I've not really got to know my NElf's guild - and can't keep an eye on LFG or general guild chat for groups forming or invites that your other character might be interested in.

Given I'm not going to switch factions entirely (apart from anything else, the human NPCs are just too smug), I had the brainwave to restart my orc warlock. Despite deciding in the past that I'm not too keen on him I think after getting to like my hunter's style of play the other pet class might be worth a second look. Warlocks have some pretty cool tricks up their sleeves (although nothihng quite matches Feign Death), plus he's already a decent-ish level (45). It'll be interesting to see how he is for grouping - will peoples' distrust of NElf hunters outweigh their preference for Ice Trap over Seduce?

Just to note, probably unsurprisingly, that Zeth'Gor was much easier on my level 59 hunter than on my better-geared level 61 warrior. But I'm not bitter...

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Goals Update

Time for a goals update, 6 months on from the last one. My WoW has been distinctly casual in a way since then, although I've raided far more than I ever did pre-Burning Crusade.

Gear sets: I'm now up to 2/5 Tidefury, but not at all working towards completing this. I'd still like the head from the Big Bad Wolf, as the ultimate orc shaman piece. Meanwhile I'm 1/5 t4, hoping to get the chest and head at least and perhaps the gloves. Along with the t4 chest and a few more badges for a better neck I'll be in full epic healing gear. On top of that the t4 helm will make it all mail gear. I'd also like to get a decent caster staff and try out elemental dps at some point.

Netherdrake: Still no cash, so this is going nowhere. I can't see myself doing a major rep grind before WotLK comes out, so this is definitely a back-burner item.

Revered with Sporeggar (Transmute recipe): Again, no progress on this one. Low down the list, but maybe I'll get around to it.

Revered with Keepers of Time (just for completeness): I'm 213 rep short of this goal, so I'll definitely do it at some point.

Fishing: I'm up to 324 fishing, which is enough to catch Sporefish or start off the Lurker fight. I'll get this to 375 before WotLK, but it's bottom of the list of the skills I want to max out.

Other skills: Still need to max out my Axes, Maces, Staves, Two-Handed Maces and Unarmed skills, although apart from Two-Handed Maces they're pretty much there.

Quests and instances: I still want to complete the Hero of the Mag'har quest chain. I've also still got to complete Magisters' Terrace (my one visit there so far saw us unable to kill Kael'thas) and I'd like to get to the Emperor in Blackrock Depths (my previous visits there all stopped at the Molten Core entrance). On top of that I'm hoping to persuade the guild to go to BWL sometime before WotLK hits.

Beyond these it's just a question of seeing how far we get in TK and SSC before summer and the impending expansion slow raid interest down too much.

Why I WoW

The other night we did our Gruul + Maggy raid, and it occured to me that this is in a nutshell why I play Warcraft: group play and group achievements.

Maggy was straight forward. We had two wipes - the first due to a poor choice of tanking assignments, then second due to clicker error - after which we fine-tuned the healing assignments and got a fairly clean kill. Given that as a casual guild we had both new alts and new raiders present that seemed a pretty good performance. Came second on the roll for the tier 4 chest, but I'll get that eventually.

Maulgar was also a first-time kill I think. The mage tank died a bit early (and I briefly tanked him by somehow out-healing his damage...!) but otherwise it was all good. Gruul we had a few problems with - 3 wipes I think, all at between 3% and 8%, and people were starting to get a bit tired. But on the fourth attempt we kept the whole raid alive much better and although we lost the main tank our off-tank outlasted Gruul. It was a bit dicey towards the end - I was just spamming max-rank Healing Wave on the tank - but it always felt like we'd kill him.

On the small scale helping out with a group quest, or running an instance with a decent group, up to a raid of people who mostly know and trust each other (in that wierd internet friends-who-are-strangers way) is what the real draw of the game is. The exploring, levelling and progressing "computer game" part is what you start off with, but it's not what keeps you playing 3 years later.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Into Outland

My hunter reached Outlands for good yesterday. He'd been there earlier in the week on hitting level 58, so I ventured through the portal and I set his hearthstone to Shattrath, but needed to return to Azeroth to get his cooking up to speed. The bear flanks proved fairly easy to collect in Winterspring, but sandworm meat was much more frustrating to come by in Silithus. He got there in the end though, and also completed a few more quests in the process, so was 59 before I could call Azeroth done with.

Apart from spending a fair bit of time in Felwood and the early parts of Winterspring, mainly because I was finding the Timbermaw and Jaedenar quests quite fun, he saw very little of the final zones in the old game. Winterspring was touched upon, EPL only visited to hand in a quest, and WPL saw about 4 quests done as did Silithus. Un'goro and Burning Steppes were also only visited in passing. While I'm glad of the new speedy levelling experience, as this will be my 4th character to 60, it seems a shame that more recent players of the game will miss out on some great zones and quests.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Warrior stubbornness talent...

No, not a suggestion for WotLK, but perhaps a requirement for the player behind him / her. I'm already starting to doubt my warrior levelling plan after a bad time in Zeth'Gor on Wednesday.

On the one hand it's a good thing about TBC that mob settlements are more dangerous than before - or so it seems. With patrols and the like you can't just wander in and start killing your quest targets, you need to keep an eye out. On the downside the place just highlighted the problems with being a warrior - it's kill or be killed, and if you're outnumbered much at all it's you that's going to die. Through sheer stubbornness I eventually got the "Burn" quest done, but must have died about 4 times in the process.

I'm going to concentrate on my hunter for a bit, and get him to level 61 or 62. It'll be interesting to compare how he fares in Outland compared to Azeroth, and also try grouping as it seems that there's much more instancing happening in the 60+ bracket than the 50-58 bracket.

To explain a bit about my alt list from yesterday, mages and warlocks are still off the menu for reasons I've mentioned before. From that list I can also remove druids (forms just aren't me, but otherwise balance / resto would really appeal) and priests. Despite priests being a better dps / healing hybrid than a shaman, due to having some CC, I'd rather be a shaman I think. And on the healer side I'd prefer a paladin to a priest, due to being less squishy (although mages seem to be the only real squishy in WoW), or at least wearing cooler armour.

Rogues are still cool, but I can't see myself levelling one just for the ability to sneak around enemy cities and some of the instances. I know there's more to the rogue class than that, but those are the main attractions of it to me...

So, maybe a human paladin, probably levelled to at least 24 to see the Draenei starting areas and replace my delete Blood Elf, perhaps further but probably not in any realistic timeframe. An undead warrior, perhaps forever stuck at level 61 (a dwarf warrior would be cool I think, but not worth the grind, my shaman makes an orc warrior rather superflous, and there is a certain zombie chic about that Forsaken). And an orc shaman main with a Belf hunter alt.

At least for now...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Indecisive (still)

I've spent the last week, if not the last month, thinking about my alt situation.

At the moment I can barely spend enough time on WoW to keep one character current with our raiding and geared up. And being an altoholic is really not helping. So, as I've decided a few times before I need to decide who my main will be for WotLK, perhaps a few alts that I really can't live without (and properly treat them as alts), and leave all my other characters (and plans for new characters) well alone.

I'd got down to the point of having my characters be, in this order - shaman (main), NE hunter (alliance tourist and relaxation alt), orc rogue (explorer, once levelled some day) and perhaps a human paladin.

Then an article over at WoW insider - New WoW shirts at Jinx - led me to their "Tanks... You're Welcome" design, that had me pull out my warrior alt again. There's something really special about tanking - in a bad group it's just stressful and awful, in an OK group you really make the difference between a good and bad run, and good groups are just great. But unless my warrior was my exclusive main, with some real time commitment to his gear, I'd not see nearly as much of the game as I can as a healer with significantly less time commitment. And there's loads of cool things about my shaman that I'd undoubtedly miss.

So my new probable lineup is shaman (main), NE hunter (alliance tourist and relaxation alt) and undead warrior (who I hope to be well enough geared to tank a heroic by the time WotLK is about as old as BC is now).

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

It's about the big numbers

I've not been playing much recently, or posting at all. Real life (mainly my 5-month old daughter) has overtaken my WoW life, but I'll post a backlog of entries soon to make this diary a bit more complete. Sparse though it is a quick read back through the last few entries give me a great reminder of where I've been, and a bit of an insight into where I'm going.

Last night's Maggy + Gruul raid was frustrating to start, with 45 minutes needed to fill the raid due to lack of signups, and a few guildies arm-twisted into coming when they hadn't planned to, or to bring certain classes (warlocks mainly) that we'd have struggled without.

Maggy was straight forward - one wipe after some dodgy tanking / healing assignments, then a mostly clean kill on the second attempt.

High King Maulgar was the fun bit. I think we got the pull right on the third attempt, but the mage tank died while Olm was still being finished off, and with Krosh on about 20% it seem like a wipe was imminent. We cranked up the dps on Krosh with him 2-shotting various raid members (including myself), but an ankh had me back up and adding my lightning bolts to the effort. By the time we got onto the High King we had a couple of bear tanks left, a fair few healers and not much by way of dps. This gave me an excuse to stick to dps for the boss, and although elemental shaman damage dealing is about as dull as it gets (lightning bolt, repeat...) it's actually rather fun.

My theory is this - firstly there is more satisfaction to seeing damage numbers than healing numbers, you could argue that the whole levelling game teaches you that big white and yellow numbers are good. But also with dps you have a progress bar - your enemy's health bar. This goes down at a nice steady pace, with the occasional jump as several hits register simultaneously. By contrast with healing you're either playing whack a mole (raid healing) or watching a wildly fluctuating health bar on some tank until the fight stops. The excitement there comes from wondering, when your target's health gets worryingly low, if your or another healers heal will land before the nameplate goes red. Stress vs fun - what would you chose?

To round the evening off we killed Gruul, for a first kill for me. It took a few attempts - I think 4 - before we got him. The wipes seemed to be down to deaths by Shatter, which would diminish the raid to the point of failure. Although there's a degree of skill involved in avoiding this, it's also down to a fair bit of luck as to where people land after the knockback.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Maggy down!

We'd been planning to have a second attempt at Void Reaver, but as he was bugged in the patch we decided to go for Magtheridon instead. Our level of progression may not be all that impressive for some I'd imagine, but we are fairly happy with it especially as we killed him (it?) on our first night.

We got the hand of the fight routine on the third or fourth attempt, but then had problems with interrupts when our clickers were trying to click the cubes. At that point we'd lose loads of people to the blast, and wipe. This happened several more times, but eventually we got him.

Lost the roll for the tier 4 chest piece, but most importantly was there for a guild first kill!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Solo Lower Blackrock Spire

I spent some time recently in LBRS, gathering gems for the UBRS key. I'm not sure if it's been made easier than it used to be, as all the bosses dropped a gem on my first kill. That certainly never used to happen, and you then had to roll for the gem against other members of your group. Or I could have just got a lucky streak.

A 0/20/41 spec turned out to be ideal, although I didn't have quite the damage output I'd have liked I could switch to resto gear before each fight, Earth Shield myself and then switch back to enhancement gear and just beat things down with my 2h axe. I got killed a few times, firstly by letting a runner bring friends in one of the early orc caster groups, then by a spider pack and finally by the last big group of orcs before Overlord Wyrmthalak's area. The last group turned out to be more than I could handle, although I might have been able to get through using one of my elementals in the end I just used an invisibility potion to get past. I do love alchemy sometimes! This meant I had my fire elemental for use on the boss, in order to kill him before the adds overwhelmed me. The other two bosses - Highlord Omokk and War Master Voone - turned out to be straight forward, although the troll was hitting surprisingly hard.

I've tried this before on the test server using a premade rogue, and although an experienced rogue player would have done a much better job than me, and the rogue did give the ability to stealth past nearly all the trash that I had to clear with my shaman, a character with medium dps and the ability to heal was as good if not better at the role than a high dps character with crowd control. Maybe Blizzard has got this class balance thing right after all...!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Scarlet Monestary redux

Ironforge is officially my favourite city in the game. It just has so many nice touches. It's almost tempting me to start levelling a dwarf, but I'm resisting so far.

I've been intending to take my hunter to Sunken Temple to see what I think of the dps-and-cc role, and to see how instances feel grouped with humans and dwarfs instead of undead and blood elves. However it occurred to me to keep him at 49 for potential battleground use, rather than get him to level 50 or 51 and then get distracted. So instead I started looking for a group for SM Library with my NE druid. You can feel pretty confident when you can say "LFG, can tank or heal", and so it proved, we had a group together pretty quickly. I just need to bear in mind that you can't really do this at max level, at least not for the tricker instances.

As I should have expected, the outcome wasn't so much an idea of what grouping is like on the Alliance side as a reminder what it's like to PUG in an early instance, when people know their roles even less than a nightmare end game pugger. Fortunately we had an experienced tank (yours truely) even if on an unfamiliar class, otherwise between being unable to deal with runners or to focus fire on skull we'd have hand a pretty bad time. Or maybe I'm claiming undue credit, and we were just overpowered or lucky.

In hindsight I was lucky - I learned to tank from my mistakes in Pyrewood Village and with advice from a friend with higher level characters. I also got to run the Monestary several times with a semi-regular group that quickly came to trust one another, to the point that I was regularly invited to tank from then on. I'd learned a lot by then, and had forgotten my level 17 self who didn't want to use defensive stance because it lowers your damage output...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Raiding TK - sorta

We're a casual guild, but after a while of our raiding getting rather too casual things were getting rather stagnant. Things have definitely picked up a bit though - after our first kill of Maulgar recently we made our first tentative steps into Tempest Keep early on Saturday.

The plan was to have a pop at Void Reaver - or Loot Reaver to his friends, as he's known for his obliging nature. However we were forewarned that his trash is pretty tough, and so it proved. We were doing pretty well to start off, but as we got closer to the VR things got tougher fairly quickly. We got as far as killing one of the four trash groups in his room before the trash started respawning, and we called it a morning.

The group really enjoyed the run - it's always great to step into a new instance for the first time. Seeing as we managed to get a full raid for a very early morning start, I'm confident that we'll be back soon, and I'm sure progress will be made. Meanwhile I've got some great screenshots, and another item has moved from my wish list to my working-on list.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Wipe night 2

A nice and easy kill of High King Maulgar on the second attempt had us all confident going into Gruul. And we then just wiped over and over.

To start with we were losing dps, presumably to Cave Ins and Shatter, but once that was sorted out we started losing tanks early in the fight, well before Growths should have been a problem.

Hopefully we now know Maulgar well enough that we can get to Gruul quickly, and we'll get him down eventually. I just wonder if, after this slightly demoralising wipe night, we'll fill the raid so easily next time.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Drawn to the Alliance

I'm quite keen to establish an Alliance character I feel comfortable with. My younger stepson was in Deadmines the other day with his dwarf paladin, in a group with 2 other dwarf pallies, a Nelf hunter and someone else. A couple of things struck me -
  1. Being in a group with a bunch of dwarfs is just much more appealing than a motley collection of undead and trolls. This is really down to my paper-based RPG background than anything else, but it just feels more right.
  2. I really like the way the camera height reflects your character, so as a dwarf a Nelf is really tall.
Hopefully my Alliance persona will turn out to be my hunter (since he's 49 already), but perhaps I'll find out after my ST experiment that healers are really who I am.

On the other hand there's something a bit sappy about the Alliance. Strength and Honour!

To Hunter, or not to Hunter?

As I mentioned in the comments to a post about alts over on Kinless's blog, I find there's something slightly unengaging about hunters. You're slightly above the action, as you have little sense of danger, which makes things less fun somehow.

On the other hand this is one of the great strengths of the class. My hunter is currently level 49, and just starting on the Dragonscale Leatherworking specialisation quest. For this he needs 10 worn dragonscales, which drop off level 50+ elite dragonkin. The quest is red to him, but I'm currently on 4/10 scales and haven't yet died. He can flat out-dps the casters, or if feeling cautious use a combination of aggro sharing and Viper Sting to take practically no damage. The melee are a bit more time consuming, but with some good kiting they're equally killable. This ability to do stuff solo which would be painful or downright impossible on most other classes tells me he's worth sticking with.

My current thinking is to get to level 50 and then go to Sunken Temple with a same-level guild group (if possible) to do the class quest. Hopefully this will give me an idea of how I feel about instancing with a dedicated DPS class, and also how well I enjoy being a hunter in a decent group.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Curator glove token

finally drops...

... and I roll last out of the two other shaman and the paladin in the raid.

Relying on drops really sucks, although I shouldn't complain too much after winning the t4 shoulders the other day. The Prince didn't cooperate either - another priest / warrior / druid token, but I did get the healing mail legs from the Chess event, another reason not to grumble. I'm going to keep going to Kara for at least another 18 badges, and either the t4 gloves or helm, to get the first set bonus, but I've definitely farmed the fun out of it now. Or maybe I just shouldn't raid when I'm tired.

Badge loot is a much happier solution, although it tends to reduce the variety a little. But then again, that'd come down to another "kill 10 fozzles" type quest again, if all there was was badge loot.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Progress at last

After a long lay-off from 25 man raiding my guild finally made another visit to Gruul's Lair on Thursday night. With High King Maulgar it's all in the pull, and we generally weren't doing that part well. In the first hour we had one attempt that at least seemed to go OK at first, however after the Seer was down and the Warlock was below 50%, it all started to go wrong. We knew it was going to be a wipe but the DPS managed to kill Olm too. All the other attempts had failed much more quickly, and for a while it looked like the attempt with two adds down out of four would be the high point of the evening. The rest of the time we always seemed to lose either the main tank or the mage tank early on, at which point we were doomed.

Finally after re-clearing the trash we had an attempt were the mage tank and MT stayed alive, and although we lost the Olm tanks we managed to kill him and after that it all became simple. Adds three and four went down very fast and we were onto Maulgar. We were a bit worried about our mana levels, and that we had less than 20 of the raid still standing, but he also went down nice and smoothly. Much rejoicing in Vent and guild chat, tinged with a slight hint of disbelief.

Just to top off my evening I won my t4 shoulders with a roll of 100, so that's my luck used up for a while. I forget how many times I've killed the Curator, with never a sign of the shaman gloves, so I'm amazed I got the shoulders on the first kill.

We went on to Gruul, with two attempts (54% and 8%) before we had to break for the night, so his days are definitely numbered assuming we can get more consistent with the High King.

Looking forward to more guild first kills!

Sunday, 3 February 2008


Attumen gave up his Whirlwind Bracers, so I'm slightly less bitter about Karazhan.

Still no token for me from the Curator though, so the grudge is still there. It was a good run - a paladin tank, two mages and a warlock made short work of the trash, and Nightbane was a good, challenging and ultimately successful fight, everything a boss should be. I was really enjoying my role as a healing shaman, with chain heal working its wonders on Nightbane and the Curator, and Nature's Swiftness, Bloodlust and my fire elemental all helping along the way.

Meanwhile my NE hunter is up to level 48, with a shiny new bow and 227 points in leatherworking. On balance I'm still for the Horde, although my biggest tie is to my guild. The Alliance definitely have things going for them though - Aerie Peak and other dwarf architecture, and the temple in Darnassus which I had to visit at the end of a quest are particularly cool, and you don't get time to appreciate them when you visit as a Hordie.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Still an altoholic

My shaman still isn't getting out much. Real life must come first! I managed to get together enough honour to buy myself the Gladiator's Salvation in time for Christmas, and then spent a fair while grinding primals for the nice healing enchant. Since then I've done one night in Karazhan which netted some nice Badges of Justice but still not Attumen's bracers or the tier token from the Curator.

Meanwhile my alts have had a few outings, which mostly just show I can't make my mind up...

My (retri) BE paladin went to Black Fathom Deeps as a healer to my stepson's (balance) druid. I'd rather have been tanking but as he was 3 levels higher than me it didn't make sense at the time, even though our specs would have better suited us being in opposite roles. I love being able to do the "I can tank or heal" thing, but I'm fairly sure I'll retire this paladin just because he's a blood elf. I don't like their overall manga feel, or their casting animations, and I've learned from my troll priest that if I spend a lot of time with a character these will irritate me more rather than less. My thought instead is to level my rogue to partner his druid which will make instancing more difficult in terms of finding a group, but the character suits me more. Stealthing, lockpicking and sapping continue to exert a pull over me.

I started a human paladin on another server, and got him to level 6 (woot!). I'm going to have to find some space on my main server and restart him on there, with some minor twinking in the form of bags and perhaps a whole gold piece to start him off. If I had my WoW time over again I'd have a paladin perhaps not as my first character but certainly in the top 4 or 5. I'm glad I've got a high level orc with a big axe; I'm glad I got to tank back when warriors were the only real tank; and who can resist creating a mage when you first see one toasting their enemies from long range, unleashing arcane missiles, or AoEing 5+ mobs at once?

My NE hunter is now level 45, and I've got his leatherworking roughly up to where it should be. This guy's my main alt at the moment - he's in a good guild and I'm looking forward to getting into Outlands and doing some instances in a DPS and CC role, rather than shouldering the burden of tanking or healing.

And finally (and perhaps foolishly) I've taken my undead warrior out of retirement and up to level 61. I tanked Hellfire Ramparts still in my Azeroth gear (about 20 minutes after stepping through the portal), and without the level 70 healer we had we wouldn't have made it. It was classic PUG tanking with DPS starting way to early, and general chaos with only the boss fights going to plan. I'm still hankering to be an orc instead of an undead warrior (the big axe again), although on reflection the undead look better in full plate than an orc does. I'm not sure I've got the patience to tank many more PUGs, or the time to gear up a tank, but on the other hand when I hear one of our guild druids lamenting that the PUG he's healing has a tank who only cares about one mob in the pull I get an urge to switch characters and pull out my sword and board.