Thursday, 21 May 2009


Levelling prot - working much better than it seemed to before. Perhaps now I have some slightly better gear after some WotLK starter quests, perhaps I've just got a better idea of the right ability priorities.

Tanking prot - insane threat generation, and easy AoE tanking. However I need a lot more practice so I can do my threat stuff as second nature, and have more spare brain capacity to monitor the overall situation, the need to blow cooldowns, etc. And PUGs are still PUGs. I just need to be rather better to ensure many fewer mistakes on my part.

And yes, the Orc got the vote. Perhaps because he's 8 levels higher, but probably because he's bigger and more like the T-shirt.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A late Grid convert

Last night's Ulduar raid was also my first raid using Grid, and I have to say I'm a convert. There's still some tweaking to do, and without Llyra's Configuring Grid article I'd have been totally at sea.

The one (big) downside was when, after a disconnect just as the pull happened on Kologarn, I rejoined to find Grid not working and hence had a good 30 seconds of confusion and downright uselessness. That's the reason I've always tried to minimise my use of Add Ons - after a patch, or if they stop working or being maintained, you're so much worse of than if you had never had them. But for sake of my overall performance I probably need to revise this view, and just work harder on keeping my Add Ons up to date.

Ulduar, casually

After a not-great time last week, part 2 of our Ulduar raid went surprisingly well.

We didn't progress perhaps as fast as we hoped, and in fact had some real bad luck with disconnects and so on, but had a really good-spirited, enjoyable raid.

Ignis we took down after 3 or so attempts, partially it seemed down to better a healing setup than last time.

Kologarn and Auriaya each took 3 attempts as well - although my disconnects in the second attempts on each were somewhat to blame there.

Overall probably what a lot of guilds in Ulduar would consider a bad night but between a good attitude and some good learning for some of us I think we all considered it a success.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Alt plan (for this week at least)

A couple of recent events have helped clarify for me where I'm going with my alts, although I still need to ponder my decision some more.

Adanadel, my Night Elf hunter, ran Hellfire Ramparts a week ago with what appears to be a fairly typical group these days for that level - three DKs and a druid. It was a successful run in the usual sense of the word, but not much fun. The Death Knights were ruling the damage meters by some way, and AoE tanking everything happily. I had one chance to show my worth / utility when a lose mob got through to the healer, but need more practice with the class and my setup to pull that off better in future. Later on, in to Northrend say, I hear that the starter gear advantage of Death Knights is lost, and hence by the end game my damage output may be valued. But while hunters are an excellent soloing class I'm not sure I like the damage dealer role in instances, although I'm perfectly happy with it in 2 or 3 person groups.

A discussion of Outland tanking on my guild website reinforced to me that having a tank and knowing about tanking is important to me. However my knowledge and experience are getting increasingly out of date - I can pick up either my level 72 (orc) or level 63 (undead) warrior and tank an instance quite competantly, with only the usual level of difficulties encountered when tanking for a PUG. But in reality I'm currently not as much of a tank as I like to think I am.

I've also realised there are a couple of other factors in my lengthy indecision.

Blizzard has done well to make all classes valuable and cool in some way. Hence quite often, especially when for example I read a blog devoted to a particular class, I'm tempted to play that class.

Sort of conversely, Blizzard hasn't done a very convincing job of the Horde as a faction, in the way that the Alliance does seem genuine. Partially it's because we're used to games and books where dwarfs, elves and humans group together so the Alliance is an easy win. The racial mix in the Horde doesn't really work though - you can see a group of Blood Elves, or of Forsaken, making sense, or a group of Orcs perhaps with a Troll or Tauren to make up the numbers. But the sort of eclectic mix that you see in a game doesn't really work for me, and it's at that point I consider levelling an Alliance character.

Finally, a big part of my temptation to level an alt is to have an enchanter (or at least a dis-enchanter), as enchants are my main cost these days. However, the time taken to level another character (never mind to level the enchanting skill) just doesn't stack up against the cost of enchants! Also I'm suffering slightly from a "grass is greener" thing here - I forget just how useful Herbalism is as a gathering skill - both as a money earner and a money saver - never mind that the double-duration buff that alchemy gives to flasks are another major saving while raiding. All in all I am (or should be) very satisfied with my professions choice.

So, my plan at the moment -

  • Grulnak - Orc shaman - herbalist / alchemist
  • Shank - Undead warrior - enchanter (currently miner) / blacksmith
  • Grumdril - Dwarf hunter - miner / engineer

Or I might level my Orc warrior Grulgok - the down sides to him are that, having been levelled rapidly, he has no real professions, and also I quite like the way that Shank looks in "human" armour. One of my long-term goals has always been to get him the full Imperial Plate set so that, with his Aegis of Stormwind he looks a fair bit like the Stormwind guard he was in a former life (RP backstory - perhaps a bit nerdy?). On the other hand Grulgok is bigger and beefier.

With Grumdril I'm planning to go all "gunpowder fantasy" - a Mechanostrider mount, and then engineering goggles, and later a gyrocopter and bike. In a way it's slightly crazy to level a Dwarf hunter when I already have a level 60 Night Elf one, but somehow Blizzard elves don't quite match my perceptions, whereas I can quite happily embrace the whole dwarf with gun thing.

I might also R-A-F level a Dwarf warrior along with Grumdril - in a way it seems daft not to in case I do decide to switch to Alliance.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ulduar: lots, guild: 3

Grulnak's first proper Ulduar run last night featured some high and low points of raiding.

Flame Leviathan was one-shotted, although it went slightly pear shaped at the end and looked for a while like it'd be a 1% wipe.

XT-002 killed us once, mainly due to bad planning / lack of previous experience on the adds. Our second attempt was a fairly easy kill.

Razorscale was duely one-shotted.

And then we wiped on Ignis over and over.

Now, I don't mind wipe nights, but the trouble was that he just didn't feel like a progression boss. He's new to me and a few others in the raid, but we knew the tactics, and could mostly execute them - but only mostly. Sorry to say that the problem was in parts a healer problem, for which I was more than 1/3 responsible, it really wasn't a good night for me. Our raid composition was also slightly off, with not enough hard-hitting ranged dps, but that'd just be looking for excuses so I won't mention that.

Back next week for part two, and I'm sure we'll get him then, but all in all not my best or most enjoyable raid by any stretch.

Lesson for the night - start using WWS, and analyse my performance more. Recount was showing some major differences in output and style between myself and the other resto shammy (who had a much higher output), so I'd have had a good point for comparison.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Ulduar, spoiler free

I've been conciously avoiding all Ulduar trailers, guides and other spoilers, and last night, stepping into the instance for the first time, this really paid off. Suffice to say - Wow! (or WoW)?

The Flame Leviathan fight is somewhat disappointing though, despite being quite fun and very video game-y it feels rather impersonal.

I'll now change policy and start reading up on tactics and so on - although pleasingly (and conversely) the content is new enough that we're not yet overwhelmed with them. Hopefully from here on in I'll be at or near my guilds learning curve on new encounters, so will need to be more self-reliant rather than learning by watching my fellow raiders.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Raid elation

I've just been in on my first guild first kill of the expansion, and consequently I'm so full of adrenaline that sleeping may be tricky for a while. These kills really are the best thing that WoW has to offer, and are well worth all the gold grinds, raid farming and so on that prepare you for them.

The raid started off tamely enough - we were scheduled to finish Kel'Thuzad, our remaining boss from Naxx, then take on Malygos 25 to fill the spare time. K'T wiped us once, which didn't bode well, and we then had two 3% wipes on Malygos. Finishing him off with half an hour of raid time still to go, our Raid Leader suggested a quick go at Ulduar, which so far we'd only attempted on normal difficulty, expecting a shot at Flame Leviathan and his "easy epics". We one-shotted him, seeming without difficulty, and then decided for a quick go at Razorscale.

Razorscale on one hand is a tank-and-spank, but actually required a reasonable amount of movement and add targetting, and without most of the raid having experience of the normal version we'd probably have been stuffed. Even so our big problem proved to be low dps, and we assumed when we hit the enrage timer that that was that. The tanks were duely 1- or 2-shotted for the most part, but with various kiting, not-terribly-high healer dps and probably a fair bit of luck killed him 1 minute and 27 seconds into the enrage timer. The ensuing jubilation in Vent was an expression of my best moment in WoW so far this expansion.

One question for the future is whether this will be the first dual spec prefered boss - the healing burden (as long as people stay out of the blue fire) is fairly low, the dps burden high (at least at our current gear level). So, until I can grind yet more gold for that dual spec (and even then will be lacking truely valid raid dps gear), I'm going to be reliant on getting one of those 5 healing spots. Still, that's a problem for another day.

Oh, and Steamworker's Goggles rounded off my evening nicely.

Faster, but much poorer

On Saturday I got the last few hundred gold together and finally got the epic flying skill, plus a fast yellow griffon. I took it for a quick spin around Shadowmoon Valley (remember that zone?), and was rather underwhelmed, but logging on today and travelling the familiar routes of the Sons of Hodir dailies I really noticed the world of difference it makes. Buyer's remorse averted...!

Still more gold grinding to go though - I had a good night in Naxx 25 last Wednesday, so enchants on my new mace from Malygos, and the helm and gloves from Naxx, plus finally getting my cloak enchanted will set me back around 670g. Then there's dual talent specs, and the dragon mount from Wyrmrest Accord and I've around 3200g to find from somewhere. On the plus side I'll definitely be exhalted with the Sons of Hodir by the time I'm finished.