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.