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.