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...