| Saturday, January 31, 2009
After healing a heroic Nexus run today I realized something: my sword looked really cool. This was bad. Why? Because the coolest sword I have is Red Sword of Courage. Then I noticed I was still wearing the hunter hat from Ragnaros. Between those two slots I was missing about a third of my spell power and a couple percent crit.

I figured that was post-worthy level of failure. I might as well get out as much as I can.

I often tank heroics while crittable, just so I can wear the previously mentioned hat.
Before I got my unarmed skill up, I often tanked them without a weapon.
I don't know the 6-9 rotation.
I don't remember to use on-use trinkets, so I will avoid them if I can, taking other items with inferior stats. This is best seen on my DK who uses the 'caster' trinket because the melee one has lower crit but a decent on-use, which I would never use. This is also why my priest took the wand instead of the trinket.
My DPS cloak has the parachute tinker instead of a useful enchant.
I have a troll shaman, made back when tauren were the ideal.
I have a troll hunter, rather than an orc.
And my warrior, is again, a troll, rather than tauren or orc.
I am still using the HoJ and SoC glyphs, even though I am rarely ret and only slightly more often in PvP.

I carry a Crimson Felt Hat at all times and sometimes tank with it on.

While fighting a druid in TB, he jumped off the edge. To finish him off, I followed and used DS to survive. But I use a DS macro that toggles, so mashing it just turns it off. There went 10% durability and a little bit more dignity.

My guild has declared me Admiral of the Fail Fleet. To go with the title, I am a Bloodsail Admiral and have been unable to safely go near goblin towns for over a year and a half. Oh yes, I destroyed my rep with the faction that controls three towns, filled with quests, for a hat with a parrot inside.

Try to top that.

Solo baron Geddon

Last night I decided I was sick of trying and failing to get MC runs, so I set out to just solo the boss I needed: Baron Geddon.

Spec: Holy. I used pretty much a standard spec, or at least what I think is standard. I'm not too big on holy, so I don't know a whole lot about it.
After I respecced from prot I realized that I probably could have done better with a more customized spec. But it was too late, so that's that. With this different build I'd have done more damage, taken a bit less, and then had to use the more risky taunt to pull rather than sweet 40 yard judgements.

Trash: I skipped everything until Garr's room. At that point I kill two hounds. Then, since behind Garr is the perfect spot, I pulled him. The adds kicked my ass.

Trash Again: Same path to Garr's room. Clear tunnel to Baron (core hound and surger). Pull Baron. Run a little too far and back into a trash pack.

Trash One More Time: Blah blah pull Baron. Die when a core hound respawns on top of me and aggros.

Getting it Right: Reclear the path with the same skipping. Kill the two giants next to the tunnel, but leaving the firelord.

Where: I tanked Baron by the former location of the two giants. At that point I was far enough away that no hounds would aggro. I couldn't move too much, so I just had to eat the fire AoE. Sometimes I'd manage to find a spot on the wall where the bomb didn't throw me up at all, but it was hard to find and I couldn't really spare the concentration.

How to Kill: Keep up JoW, use SoV for DPS and holy shock. If mana is low, switch to SoW. Don't use SotR. It might be really awesome as prot, but wow, it is TERRIBLE as holy. Maybe Rohan can help fix that.

How to Heal: Holy shock tended to crit fairly often and with FR aura the incoming damage wasn't too bad. This meant that instant FoL was my standard heal. If I got too low, holy shock was a quick save. If I got even lower, I'd bring out holy light. Remember sacred shield. I don't think it's as efficient as FoL, but the absorb means you can spend more time on damage rather than chain-casting FoL. Also HS crit -> instant FoL crit is a lot of health for not much mana, so it works out well.

It was a fun fight, though pretty slow, took 25-30 minutes. Near the end I strayed too far and aggroed a core hound. That forced me to do a lot of healing, but by then I was able to throw HoW, so even though I was forced to use HS mostly for healing, my damage didn't drop too much.

No binding and I already have T1 shoulders.

Healers, stop complaining about whack-a-mole

| Friday, January 30, 2009
You're not special. No really. You're not even facing something new. You're just being crybabies.


Kill a dreadlord. Do it. Kill a dreadlord and see what happens. Kill one, a new one pops back up. But even worse, it will pop up again later.

Cry about your whack-a-mole, at least it's not whack-a-dreadlord.

Casual guilds: the good, the bad, and my friend's guild

| Tuesday, January 27, 2009
My friend's guild
To start off, my friend's server is terrible. Or, at least from what I hear from him it is. Gear checks for regular instances, no one running regular instances, terribad DPS, it goes on. He thinks I live in fantasy land because I can stand tanking.

his current guild was advertised as a casual guild. Cool. That works for him since he's not on a ton. Real life before WoW was another thing he liked in the presentation of the guild. Cool.

Alas, books and covers and whatnot. He first had a bit of a problem in that they only ran heroics, but it was fine since he needed the gear. Then they seem to have caught the raiding bug. More accurately, the disease known as raidjerkatosis of the leadership which can be very harmful to casual guilds.

After a particularly hard week, his GM was very generous and bought him the valor badge bracers, which apparently he got at a huge discount, but still were a few hundred gold. They were not given with visible strings. Then my friend was gone for a weekend. Casual guild, right? GM flips out and gives a bit about "we bought those bracers for you to raid with us..." This I can completely understand, except for the communication: there was nothing "to get you ready for raids" or "this mean you're going to be raiding with us." Still, there's the issue of RL coming before casual, or not. And apparently all non-raiding days require advance notice.

Oh, and they want him, a holy paladin, to spec into kings. In itself this isn't too bad. 10% stats to all vs. 3% crit... STATS! But they have ret paladins in the guild, which presumably raid with them. Spec Nazis are bad enough, but wrong spec Nazis?

An old guild
The leadership didn't seem to differentiate between casual and noob. I don't remember any class leaders or anything comparable. The effects of this became clear one day outside Gruul when I inspected one of the shamans. His gems were... strange: +damage in enhancement gear, stam-stacking. His spec was worse. It was half-enhancement, half-resto. I asked why and found that he was constantly being asked to switch between healing and DPS, so he just used a mixed spec. I explained that he needed to demand a definite role (or at least no more than a couple respecs a wweek) or guild funds for respecs. His spec was missing important talents, such as 10% AP for groups, so it wasn't a hybrid, it was just a useless mess. There was no one to check out builds, not to be spec Nazis, but just to help people out. I eventually left.

Current guild
We're awesome.
It's a casual guild. It's actually a casual guild. Not a noob guild, not a pretend casual guild. There are two types of members: casuals and raiders. Raiders are fix pick for raids and are required to raid at least (3?) nights a week. Casuals can show up whenever they feel like it but are second priority. However the guild is fairly small, so as a casual I have a decent chance of getting into a raid (50% or above on the raid nights that I remember to log in). There isn't any cliqueness that I've noticed. My friend that introduced me to the guild is a raider, I'm a casual (and I repeat myself), and his girlfriend is a casual. We use a loot council, of sorts, I think, I'm really not sure. Whatever it is, it works well enough that we have little to no drama.

We're hardly badasses. No Sarth 3D under our belts or anything fancy like that. We farm Naxx snd Sarth and maybe other raids that I forgot about. Still, we're not bad. We have leaders and they have responsibilities. Maybe class leads aren't as strict about specs as I'd like (though I'd hate to reap what I sow considering my prot build is hardly cookie-cutter), but fail is kept out well enough.

Bold makes this seem more organized than it is
Casual guilds are important. They're where casual players can get started, or find 'homes', and generally get going with raiding or heroics or whatever they're interested in. It's a shame to see casual guilds fall into the strange territory of being hardcore enough to be jerks, but not enough to call themselves hardcore. On the other side, it's no better when casual and noobish anarchy are confused.

Those weird alts

| Monday, January 26, 2009
Maybe I am alone in this madness, maybe I am not. Who else has those weird RP alts? I don't mean the female night elf I made to RP in Goldshire with my friend who plays a dwarf and likes to... er, nvm. So.

I mean the alt you make because you're not usually the RP type, but for some reason you just *poof* story. Mine was a night elf hunter. But not just any night elf hunter! Oh no. This is no hippy tree-hugging elf. This one is an engineer. She isn't a hunter as in she has a pet friend. She hunts. With guns. Guns that she makes herself. She's fascinated with technology. She likes to make things go *boom* I suppose in some ways she was subconsciously inspired by Flintlocke.

Of course this isn't to say that I never wanted an elf hunter named Legolas. Let's be honest, who can watch Lord of the Rings and not want one? Or sometimes I rewatch the cinematic and want to make a dwarf hunter with a bear pet.

And of course, who can forget those words?
"Now I play a troll shaman! Ha ha!"
Oh man... pre-nerf windfury.

In unrelated news, Iapetes has started making dumb posts again, so you should check out his blog. No, I did not write this post just to promote him. I am also using this as a place to preemptively say that arenas suck. See now I've reduced his options to simple contradiction and that's hardly an argument. Or is it?

Versatile gear and hunter weapons

| Saturday, January 24, 2009
Here is a hunter weapon:
What? You say that's a melee weapon? Look at the stats.
Agility: Hunter stat
Stamina: Everyone stat, but survival hunters get some AP from it so, hunter stat.
AP: Everyone stat, but hunters, unlike paladins, DKs, and warriors, have AP multipliers rather than strength. So, hunter stat.
Crit: Everyone stat.
Haste: I don't know if hunters like haste, but I know melee aren't too big on it.

See? Hunter weapon.
But it also happens to be best in slot for melee as well.

How did this happen? In order to reduce wasted gear, Blizzard has been merging the stats that different classes use (all plate DPS uses strength) and making gear useful to more classes (SP conversion). The result is that many excellent melee weapons are also excellent stat sticks.

To make it worse, melee weapons have large numbers of stats on them. In contrast, ranged weapons have fewer, so this sort of FFA gearing benefits hunters far more than melee. In fact, it often ends up screwing over melee.

There is a better way to do this. The changing of feral staves to something more like hunter weapons is key. Change them and druids and hunters will share weapons. To compensate (by that I mean reduce the amount of hunter gear), either convert the AP on melee weapons into strength or reduce the AP for higher weapon DPS.

Or go further and nerf hunter damage overall but compensate them by gaining benefit from weapon DPS. Do the same for ranged weapons, buffing librams and DK things as well.

What's the point though?
Let's all be honest, as melee classes, we're just tired of hunters rolling on 'our' gear. We have a sense of entitlement. Perhaps it is justified.

Would this even work though? Can game mechanics replace good manners? I'd expect it to be common courtesy that melee pass on ranged weapons while hunters pass on melee weapons. Maybe there are extreme cases, but those are due to someone having an important slot that is severely undergeared, so maybe they shouldn't be in the raid/group in the first place.

This may just be a collection of useless suggestions if people cannot put aside their own short-sighted greed for a few seconds.

It is always the healer's fault

| Friday, January 23, 2009
It's true and this is one of the biggest problems with healing.

To start off, there are obvious times when it is the healer's fault and there's no denial. Sudden AFKs, being undergeared, whatever, obviously those are all the fault of the healer. That's really nothing special.

The bad part of healing is that everything else also becomes your fault.

DPS and how it is your fault
DPS is low so the fight takes too long so you go OOM: Get better gear or heal more efficiently.
DPS pulls aggro and dies: Heal them, shield them, bubble them, there are ways to save them.
DPS dies in a fire (don't we all wish?): Heal them, shield them, save them.

Tanks and how it is your fault
The tank can't hold aggro, DPS dies: See earlier case of DPS and aggro.
The tank is undergeared, takes too much DPS, and dies: Get better gear or spam more and he'd live.
The tank is undergeared, takes too much damage over the fight, so you go OOM and he dies: Heal more efficiently or get better gear.

As a general rule, death is caused by a lack of health and healers are the best at increasing health, and therefore preventing death. Ultimately just about any death can be blamed on a healer.

I don't intend to blame healers for everything, but instead just to point out that the mistakes of others are passed by the game onto the the healers. Every 'challenge' in the game tends to involve either someone taking extra damage or dying, and except for a very few strict DPS-limited fights (Thaddius is the only that I can think of, even Gruul could potentially be solved with better healing), all fights ultimately shift all burdens to the healers.

Goblin Faith

| Thursday, January 22, 2009
A thousand years past
The Great Goblin made a blast
The fragments made the worlds
And the spark are the skies

Blow up the sin
Prepare the way
For the great gob-lin
He shall save

Make a bomb
Save a soul
Blast the ground
Dig a hole

Sway not to the gnomish side
For they do not burst with pride
And should they make an explosion song
It means they made something wrong
While if a goblin makes the sky bright
It means that he did something right

Let's make flawed statistics into reality

A certain boss has a 50% chance to drop an item (I'm lying, this boss and item does not exist). On the first kill, 50% chance to drop. Second kill 75%, third kill 87.5%, and so on. I lied again. These are the results you get from people who are bad at understanding statistics. It's always a 50% drop, the only change is that with more kills the overall chance for it to have dropped goes up. The dice don't remember and you're never due to see a drop.

But what if they did?

Imagine if the drop rate of an item was based on the number of times you'd killed the boss and not seen the item drop. This would then be averaged across the group, with some exclusions such as ignoring warlocks when calculating the chance of a melee trinket. Also people who have the item would not be counted towards influencing the drop chance.

Currently you make zero progress towards the acquisition of random drops. You're always rolling the same 50% chance. With this change you're at least improving your dice.

Grouping bias: The ideal group would have people who have never seen the item but no longer need it. In other words, you want people who ran a few heroics and then got carried through Naxx, skipping the heroic tier. For people who want an item, it would be beneficial for them to all run together in order to boost the drop chance, but the second someone gets it, you want them out.

Complexity: This is way more complex and therefore more likely to be buggy or prone to exploitation.

Bad alternative
Remove the limit on number of drops and instead make all drops based on this system, per person. This means that a raid could see as many as 25 x [number of items each person wants on the loot table] drops. Or zero. On the first run people are likely to see nothing. Bad alternative. :(

'Fun' alternative
Make bosses drop scraps or pieces of drops. These would then be part of various quest chance to forge or in some way create the desired item. This might range in complexity from "collect 4 scraps of lich robes in order to create a [Robe of Awesome] to "obtain these various magical artifacts along with these trade materials and bring them to this hermit crafter, but only after you've sated his thirst for revenge against the evil group that killed his family." Think thunderfury but with a less cool reward and a way higher drop rate (100%).

I realize that neither of my suggestions would be easy to implement and are way too complex. I'm just trying to think of a system that reduces some of the RNG factor in loot, without totally eliminating it It would be a bit boring if bosses dropped nothing but a set number of 'badges' which were then redeemable for any item at that tier of gear.

Paladins and Bloodsail-Goblin balance

| Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I miss double shield of the righteous. It was a big help for soloing or DPS. Yes, prot DPS, what else am I supposed to do when we go from 2->1 for tanks on Thaddius? Still, how much can I legitimately complain about a bug fix?

The single target taunt is great. Does this need elaboration?

Rep decay change:
Raids should have never had rep decay, so this is a fix of a big mistake (oversight? unintended consequence?).
The grind for fixing goblin rep (at no cost to Bloodsail rep) may be too quick now. Running circles outside of Rachet I'm seeing about 4k rep/hour. This isn't theorycraft, this is what I'm actually getting. At that rate I could have my rep fixed in another 6 hours or so. That might be less than the time it took me to get Bloodsail rep in the first place (though admittedly it was a ton faster when I was in a group). I should invite some guildies to bring their alts and follow me around picking up all the cloth and getting free XP. I've been leaving the corpses because it takes too much time for the benefit.

Lag: Horrible. Sartharion took forever because of the lag. I wasn't worried about the enrage timer though, it probably would have been skipped over in all the lag. For the person calling out lava waves it sounded like this: "Lava wave on the right, in theory." Thirty seconds later: "Lava wave on top of you." Half a second later: "Lava wave from the left on top of you." Fortunately the server didn't bother to spawn the elementals most of the time, despite at least 10 people getting hit each wave.

A Poem of Dead Pirates

| Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Red seas, red cliffs
Hills filled with pirates killed
How many more will settle my score?
A thousand goblins dead for a pirate's hat
How many pirate corpses equal that?

Sword of red courage gives goblins revenge
I pay not my own price, but with other lives twice
The asked for cloth but that's not enough
Too cheap for mats, too generous with deaths
Thousands more before my blade rests

Up the hill another kill
Down the cliff, death from above
Another rocket launched from ornamented gloves
Avenger's shield and another three killed

Round and
Round a merry go
Round of pirate death

With the patch today the pirates outside Rachet now give the full five rep per kill. I can one-shot them over and over, running in an endless circle as they respawn. Already I've gotten about 7k rep out of the 36k that I need for neutral, if I'm remembering correctly.

Fortuitous timing

The CNN stream was running badly.
The BBC stream was okay, except for the excessive chatter of the English. Then it broke as well, fortunately not before hearing "congratulations, Mr. President."

I'm very glad my professor ending class very early so we could go watch.

This is a big day for the entire world. It's rather silly that it's not a holiday in America. I thought the same about election day. Coincidentally, that was the first time I was able to directly participate in a Presidential election.

It's time for Democrats to prove that they are better than the alternative and for Republicans to prove that Bush was a statistical anomaly. I think we all have a lot to look forward to.

Self-interest and balance

| Monday, January 19, 2009
This is about the reputation decay removal which I've heard is coming in 3.0.8. No class discussions here! I'm assuming the change affects all rep, not just in instances. Perhaps that will turn out to be wrong.

My paladin is a Bloodsail Admiral. Because of this, she is hated by the neutral goblin factions in Azeroth. I wanted a hat. I got the hat. Now I am dealing with the consequences. The consequences take two major forms: loss of dozens, maybe hundreds of Kalimdor quests for the achievement and being unable to do the AQ chain.

For a long time the only way to repair goblin rep was to violently betray the Bloodsail, slaughtering them by the thousands. Then at some point a cloth turn-in was added. It allowed players to farm mats and economically betray the Bloodsail. It was fairly expensive and it damaged Bloodsail rep.

I've used neither of these options. Why not? Well, I have a silly idea that Bloodsail content might be expanded at some point, so I'm not eager to destroy my rep. Also I think that while betrayal is just the sort of thing that a pirate might do, I prefer playing both sides. That's right, I am being subtle and sneaky, I'm not just asking for more cake while stuffing my face.

This leaves me with the option of killing mobs which boost my goblin rep without affecting Bloodsail rep. Those are various sorts of mobs which give 1-2 rep but can be one-shotted, or goblins in Grizzly Hills which give 5 rep, but take multiple hits. I need about 40,000 rep (I forgot how rep goes, but this is close enough, the general idea is a big number). At 1 rep per kill, that's 40,000 mobs. Even at one kill per second, we're talking over 11 hours of continuous grinding. If rep decay was removed those would go up to 5 rep, cutting the grind down to about 2 hours. Throw in travel time, spawn delays and whatnot, and now it's maybe 5 hours. That's a long grind, but as far as grinds in WoW go, not especially intimidating.

Is this balanced? I mean, it's great for me. I get to have my hat and do goblin quests too. Without this change I'd probably not bother with the grind, or I'd do it in such small bits that it would take a year. Either way, this change is [mentally] allowing me to do something I'd otherwise not do. This also reduces the cost of the hat.

This change makes it 'viable' (this word is so misused, and I'm probably continuing the trend) for a person to be friendly with both the Bloodsail and the goblins. Ahem, pardon the expression, but "lorelol?" I suppose this makes me the perfect representation of the playerbase, or at least the forum part: give us what we want (good rep with opposing factions) and we'll complain (lorelol!).

The grind will be slightly easier thanks to being revered, so I can do a few cloth turn-ins without falling below friendly with the Bloodsail. My general plan is to use cloth for Gadgzetzan and then grind pirates outside Rachet. Then I get do the Rachet quests and hopefully get by Gadgetzan rep high enough to turn in water pouches that my alts have gotten while questing. The spillover from that can then improve my BB and Everlook rep. My only problem is that I can't really do any BB quests since those would damage my Bloodsail rep. I hope I already did all of them, or at least don't need them for the Eastern Kingdoms achievement.

TL;DR: The rep decay change helps me, but will it have unintended consequences with respect to the Bloodsail-Goblin divide?

Self-Gimping Elitists

| Sunday, January 18, 2009
"You don't need X if you're not retarded."
"Why make this ridiculously easy game any easier?"
These are the kind of statements you see from Self-Gimping Elitists, hereafter known as SGEs.

What motivates them?
Perhaps they are just trolls. Maybe they have fragile egos and need anything, just anything at all, to maintain their fragile sense of superiority. Or, are they just that good? Are these gods among men?

I suspect it's one of two events.
1) Direct attack: They didn't have an expected tool and were attacked for it, so they respond by claiming that X tool isn't needed. Maybe it's Omen and a claim that you can just get a feel for your aggro.
2) Perceived attack: Change can be scary for some people. Sometimes there are legitimate concerns with new tools replacing personal ability. I'll try to say more on this later. New things are rejected purely for being new.

What is to be done with a SGE? Treat them as you would any other player. If they aren't showing up with the required addons (required by the leadership, not necessarily needed by the game itself), kick them until they get them. Do not coddle them. If they want to argue about it, fine, just as long as they do what they are supposed to. There's no sense in frustrating everyone with that one tank that won't use Omen, so no one can tell where they are.

Do they have a point? Well sure, almost every addon isn't needed. I bet raids could be done with no aggro meter. You're just going to lose a lot of DPS as people either go too far and die or hold back and end up far below what they could do (this is in fantasy land where tank aggro isn't insanely buffed, I realize that now you could do a lot of content with full DPS and no aggro meters). Buffing can be done without PallyPower. Call out assignments, have paladins watch durations themselves, watch for deaths to know when to rebuff. It's not impossible and doesn't really require any skill.

But, why? What is gained by refusing to use tools? Why spend any extra mental effort to watch deaths and individual durations when an addon can do that for you? Pay attention to the pulls, health bars, debuffs, pats... Frankly it's stupid to use any more than the bare minimum amount of effort on tasks like buffing.

The argument about losing skills is certainly a good one. Basic knowledge gives a larger mental tool set. I suspect that if people do not understand addition or multiplication (aha, they are really the same thing!) or decimals, they cannot understand the world. We live in a world of numbers and if you cannot understand the basics of how they interact, you're lost.

But let's relate this back to WoW. A guild I ran with for a few weeks kept letting me die on Gruul. Notice that I said letting me die. I wasn't undergeared, taking excessive damage, standing in falling rocks, or hugging people during shatter: I just was not getting healed. The problem was Healbot, or more accurately, how their healers were using it. They depended on it completely and may not have been using it properly. As a result, I received no heals. I told them to turn it off and they freaked out because they were too worried about overhealing, wasting mana, and then going OOM. A few former guildies of mine (we ended up in this guild after a merger, so they were still in my guild, but I thought of things in terms of my previous guild, which we were obviously no longer in) went along with my advice and just started ignoring healbot. They used old-fashioned timing, proactive healing, canceling, and yes, a good bit of overhealing. After that I survived just fine.

Don't be a SGE: Use tools. They're useful; they minimize the tedious aspects of the game. Don't depend on them.

Instance layout and failure

| Saturday, January 17, 2009
Question: What is the single most important difference between Gun'drak and Halls of Lightning?

Answer: Order of boss difficulty.

There are a couple forces competing with each other in instance design. One is the idea of the last boss being the hardest, the coolest, the badass of the place who makes all previous bosses seem trivial. This is the coolness force. The other is the playability force, it asks "if you start this instance, can you finish it?" This force obviously works towards short instances so people don't have to leave halfway in (this was an area where BRD was pretty bad). It also encourages instances that only save you to them once you've demonstrated that you have a good chance of completing them.

Gun'drak is usually done with the snake boss first. This one is fairly difficult. This is a good thing. If you're saved to Gun'drak, you either ran it backwards or your group is good enough to beat it.

HoL is the total opposite. The first boss is trivial. If you can beat the first boss, you just might wipe on the second. The third is easy. Beating all three of those does not mean your group can do Loken. He's not a gear check or a composition check or a healing check. All he tests is whether or not your group members are capable of moving at the right times in the right direction. It's actually simple, but it's a skill that is rarely tested and is not tested in HoL until you're already saved.

Making the last boss the hardest sounds cool, but in terms of playability, it's terrible. To make it even worse, the last bosses drop epics and daily quest items, so to many people they're the only bosses that matter. To get to the end, the goal, and then get held back by a fail group, which you had no chance before to see if it was full of fail, that is not fun or challenging, that is just frustrating.

Trash doesn't help either. After too many wipes, even if you've not called off the run, the trash is back. Now you have to redo the entire instance, as if you'd never started, except with no badges along the way and with a group that you already know is bad.

TL;DR: For the sake of player sanity, put skill checks at the START of instances, not the end.

Random... boss? is random

| Friday, January 16, 2009
Random boss spawns are annoying. Is this perhaps part of a larger anti-tank conspiracy? There are few tanking trinket from any WotLK instances. I have seen only one drop, a mage wont he roll. My current trinkets are a crafted engineering trinket and some combination of BC trinkets; either defense or BV.

One of the few tanking trinkets is from only regular halls of stone. Now how often is that being run? It might be done now and then for quests, but since there are no badges or particularly interesting gear (aside from a defense trinket), who would go? The other options for defense trinkets are, well let's see:;crs=1;crv=0
17 trinkets in all of WoW with defense rating on them. Where are they from?
5 are crafted BoPs, 4 from JC. 1 from a pre-BC quest chain (one of the longest in the game), another from a level 55-60 5-man and is low on stats. Then there are two from raids, one being very well itemized for blocking while the other is for FR tanking and wastes stats on health/5. After this we have a decent bunch from BC: two from quests which are easily soloable at 80 or even at 70. One from an instance boss (probably soloable at 80) and another from an outdoor boss (trivial at 80, though could take a while to get mats to summon). Then we have two from raids. Finally we get to WotLK and find: one from regular HoS and one from regular Naxx.

It's okay though, since we are not having any challenges with maintaining defense while upgrading gear. Oh, we are? Well damn.

But back to the boss, a good blocking trinket drops from a boss in heroic Violet Hold. This instance had 6 random bosses and brings out 2 per run. That means that per run you have about... 2 bosses out of 6... a 1/3 chance to see the boss. This is to see the boss. The trinket is actually about a 29% drop chance, which is pretty high. But, combine these and you end up with a 9.66% chance of the trinket dropping. The other trinket I'm after, essence of gossamer has only a 20% chance of dropping, but the boss is always there.

This is not at all frustrating. Nope. I love random loot, but even better is random loot from random bosses. Woo hoo.

This was the expansion for Blizzard to stop having frustrating crap.

Sarah Palin is a wuss

| Thursday, January 15, 2009
"Oh look at me, I hunt deer, ain't I so rugged and real?"


My blood elf (who I must add is far more attractive, wears less makeup, and only wears second-hand clothes) can kill a fully-grown moose with a single punch.

Beat that.

Note: I'm not trying to express a political opinion one way or another. I put those elsewhere. My motivation was doing a quest in Stonetalon Mountains while leveling my unarmed skill and realizing: I am killing a moose with a single punch.

More comics

| Wednesday, January 14, 2009
And hopefully less fail. I edited the third to hopefully flow a bit better. I've heard from multiple people now that I should show the characters, so they will be shown in the next comic. Be warned, they may just be wandering around doing nothing. I blame you, the reader, and your opinions. Damn those opinions are their habit of opposition.

Run away little girl, run away.
Fishery rules will be strictly enforced
How can you hope to withstand such overwhelming power?

The fifth (third in the post) isn't loading quite right, it's an older version and has some problems such as typos and mixed up dialogue. Maybe tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy them and thanks in advance for useful criticism. Also special thanks to a certain paladin for pointing out many typos and other bits of fail.

Expansions, future talents, and haste

Start: Stream of thoughts
Excess badges
Buy ret gear?
Belt has haste
Current belt is already decent and haste is bad
Why is haste bad?

Instant attacks are turning into an increasing portion of ret DPS. We used to be seal-judge and white damage was a big portion of DPS. Even without SoC scaling, haste was still pretty good. Then CS came and it made white damage a lower portion of DPS. But, at least for Horde, SoB also came and it scaled with haste. Auto-attack was still pretty significant. Now we have judgements that scale well and another instant, so auto-attack is a much smaller portion of DPS. This makes haste less valuable compared to other stats which scale with everything, such as AP or crit.

I realize that I am talking about haste as if it existed before BC. I don't remember ever seeing it, but let's pretend it did, just to create a more noticeable trend.

Is this trend going to continue? Will haste eventually drop to the point of affecting almost nothing? I see three conflicting forces in the fate of haste: space for GCDs, interactivity, and the purpose of future talents.

There are limited GCDs, so there comes a point when you just cannot add any more instant attacks. You can add more types of attacks, but you just cannot get past 2 per 3 seconds, limiting instants to a frequency of around 2.4 instants per auto-attack. Instant attacks would need to do ever-increasing percentages of weapon damage or stat scaling (which would have to exceed weapon damage) in order to gain ground against auto-attack.

In other words, there is a limit to how bad haste can become.

On the other hand, instants are more interactive. They make the game a bit more fun, giving something to do, options and tools. This suggests an increasing trend towards more instant attacks. There is still room for more instants, so more are likely to be added.

However new talents do not necessarily have to be part of DPS, healing, or tanking cycles. DPS could gain long cooldown abilities for damage increases or aggro reductions, maybe healing effects on their damage. Tanks could have more temporary mitigation, as death knights have. Healers could gain situational abilities like shields or guardian spirit. I think this is likely to be the future of talents: greater utility spells or long cooldowns which will not significantly affect the balance of instant vs. auto-attack damage.

Haste isn't in a very good spot right now. While it does do a good bit for auto-attack, it doesn't do enough compared to other stats to make up for them affecting all damage. Perhaps this will change, either by becoming cheaper or in some was increasing the value of auto-attack.

Learning curves, gear, and groups

| Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This is in response to this post on Player vs. Developer. Normally I'd just add a comment, but I'm having trouble phrasing my response and I'd rather not clutter his blog with my own rambling responses which can end up longer than the original. So, go read his post first.

Gear is the breaker of learning curves. If gear can make content easier, it can also sometimes break learning curves. Imagine a fight that requires a certain DPS. Bad, undergeared DPS won't be able to do it. But what about bad, overgeared DPS? The encounter that should be forcing them to get better is just causing them to get better gear elsewhere and return when the fight is trivial.

There are some fights that care less about gear. Being sufficiently overgeared could conceivably overcome the zombie healing on Gluth. A fight that completely ignores gear is the last boss of the Oculus. I don't think it's a coincidence that this fight has given me so much trouble. It can't be outgeared so people are forced to learn, and that's a painful process that we tend to avoid.

Fights like this are rare, and more importantly, never truly required. They can be skipped, avoided by some means. This is nice for subscription numbers because it never creates a barrier that could cause people to give up in frustration and stop giving Blizzard money. However for the playerbase it means that only people who actively try to learn will actually learn.

Instances are an example of content that has a learning curve, but it can be skipped by two means: overgeared and other players picking up the slack. Often others pick up the slack by being overgeared themselves. Why learn when you can just surround yourself with better players? Given enough time you will get enough gear to not need to learn.

The materialism of players isn't necessarily bad, but it does mean that those who do not help one to get gear (people who are learning) are pushed out of the way. There is no gear reward for teaching people. Eventually they may learn and help in getting gear, but why not save time and just get someone that already knows what to do?

WoW is anonymous, and not just due to the RL->virtual life conversion. Even on a single server, the population is large enough that slighting someone now isn't likely to have significant negative consequences, perhaps ever. Ninja now, pay... never. Kick a noob and he's not likely to come back around and be the only healer you can find. A smaller, closer-knit community would be more likely to help each other because they'd see that they need each other. In the vast sea of thousands of people per server with name changes and server transfers, it's hard for negative actions towards another player to ever catch up.

TL;DR: Why learn when you can overgear? Why teach when you can replace?

To fix this, WoW would have to have a lot more fights like Oculus, but is it really worth it? Truly challenging fights like that would drive away a lot of the playerbase. They would also become repetitive too fast. Current content may be beaten by skill early on, but eventually gear carries the raid and they can breeze through the boring stuff. Imagine if every fight was exactly as hard the 1st and 100th time. That would be unimaginably frustrating.

What's happening with PUGs?

| Monday, January 12, 2009
I apologize in advance if (when) this ends up being really long and disorganized. I'm, exploring my thoughts. You have been warned. Also I will be making extensive use of most likely inaccurate stereotypes of players in order to save the space which would have to be used for expressing the subtleties of all sorts of players.

Take a current PUG. Actually, take 20. Average them out. Gear levels, skill levels, effort, instance difficulty, all that stuff. Create a generic WotLK PUG. Do the same for BC. Do it again for Vanilla. They're different, aren't they?

So what changed? Obviously the instances are different. What else? I think the players changed. There are new players and there are old players who have changed. Gear changed: the stats it gives, the importance of it, how it is distributed by the game.

New players
WoW has grown in popularity. Fire is hot. My point is that WoW is growing to be bigger than the population of socially inept, e-peen focused nerds living in their parents' basements. Maybe this was the core (it probably wasn't, though I wouldn't ignore its importance) , but it is not anymore.

The first people into WoW, based on my extensive research (I am making stuff up off the top of my head; don't bother to argue with me when I do this because I know I'm wrong. Think preaching to the choir, except more like the choir singing to the preacher) were two types: people who used to play EQ but then realized they hated it and people who used to play EQ but wanted something new. These were EQ people. They were used to waking up at 3:47 to camp a dragon or something over in the Planes of Obliv'wontilion and they were used to 34754 other people doing it at the same time (their guild plus the entire rest of the server competing; they REALLY want this dragon). They're a minority now.

WoW has run out of hopeless losers with nothing else in life. It is starting to tap into the once-impenetrable normal people market. These normal people don't act normal for MMO players. They refuse to spend five hours (make that 5-10PM, not just any 5 hours) preparing for a single kill, which will consist of the most mindless spam imaginable, though with the constant possibility of a single mistake killing everyone. Many of them want solo content and instances that can be done in an hour, or less. They aren't of the mindset to lose an entire day, or week, to a game. In other words, Blizzard tapped into a new market, but it's asking for something new in turn.

Old players with new tricks
The first players are five years older. Their lives are five years older (or has it been four years? Either way, it's been a while). A lot happens in five years. A lot of people no longer have the time for ridiculously long raids. Burnout happens. At some point a lot of people say "wait a minute... if I show up a few minutes late for work my boss doesn't even notice but if I am a few minutes late for a raid, I get chewed out and gkicked. I thought this was a game."

WoW is turning into a game rather than a second job for people with fulfilling first jobs. That was a fun blanket claim to make.

There is now a significant population that has been around for years. For them tanks, DPS, and healers are all obvious and taken for granted. The idea of a warrior that doesn't know what it means to tank, that's foreign to them. They expect to go into an instance and have everyone know their task.

In response to the new players and the changed players, Blizzard changed content, or at least didn't repeat the old content. The change from Vanilla to BC is really obvious. Where you once had instances running at least an hour, or up to an entire day if you really sunk your teeth into BRD, BC instances were short. A slow BC instance was an hour. You could spend half your time gathering the group and getting to the instance. The Mechanar is probably the most extreme example, but I can think of none that would go much over an hour and a half.

This teaches players to expect something different. They don't expect to commit any significant amount of time to a group. One hour is a long time in BC. This changes the percentage time of a wipe. When an instance takes two hours, 5 minutes for a wipe is a small change. May that an hour instance and now those five minutes are a noticeable increase in the time. Shorter instances make wipes more noticeable.

Instances just seem less wipe-causing now. There seem to be fewer mobs that run at low health. Does anyone remember the 1...2...third? pull of Scholomance, past the skeletons at the start? That was a tough one. You needed dedicated CC for some of the mobs in there, they were just too much to try to handle all at once, even if the tank could keep aggro.

Paladins introduced as to this in BC: CCless instances. Round up the mobs and burn them down. Our aggro generation for far more than enough and it was nearly equal across everything. CC wasn't needed. Focus-firing wasn't needed. The tank could put out a good percentage of the DPS of an AoE class and a single-target class stood no chance. This was a sort of reckless fun, but there was almost something I missed about tanks not trivializing everything. Now DKs can do pretty much the same; warriors and druids can come close.

People don't expect or want to spend much time in instances. They can't handle wipes much anymore. We're used to instances running smoothly. Oh sure, a wipe happens here or there, but in general, you run in and pull pull pull, loot badges, leave.

People are running instances even when overgeared. Why? Well Blizzard had a great idea: don't have people run a few instances, get to raids, and have the instances instantly obsolete. The method was to make heroics rewarding for raiders. In BC we saw the introduction of badges, and then in 2.4 the addition of incredibly powerful badge gear, apparently on par with T6. The result is that T4 and T5 players (overgeared players) have a strong incentive to run heroics. Even T6+ players still had a reason, perhaps to fill in for bad drop luck or to buy gems.

Heroics also brought PvE epics outside of raids which were not 1% drops. Epics became normal. People expected them. As overgeared people moved into Karazhan, an entire instance filled with epics opened up. Even before this, the 10->25 transition caused people to stay in Karazhan even after they were done with it.

So what does all this do to the average PUG? It makes people expect quick, painless gear with little effort.

People start expecting people to have already done an instance to qualify for running it.
People expect epics for heroics which are easy enough in blues, or even a few well-chosen greens.
People are no longer interested in helping people to get better. A bad spec means a kick rather than advice. The same for gear.

People forgot that they weren't born knowing everything. People forgot that they used to have to struggle through instances. People forgot that wipes are not totally unusual events, there's a reason that three classes started the game with OOC rezes, why druids wanted one for years, why warlocks have soulstones and paladins have DI and shamans have reincarnation. Somehow everyone turned into an elitist over the years, even bad players. They all want to be surrounded by people with perfect gear with perfect specs who have done the instance before... and don't you dare make any suggestions about their specs because it works for them so therefore it is perfect and infallible.

Last bit: I suppose this came off pretty negatively. Also my past blog posts have as well. Overall though, PUGs are not a painful experience for me. Oh sure, there are bad ones here and there, but in general they go well enough. It's usually more interesting, at least for complainers like me, to talk about the bad PUGs than the good PUGs.

I recently noticed a strangely lacking middle ground: bad PUGs that were successful. The last one was a few days ago, me tanking with a terrible hunter (the type that does pitiful damage, screws up pulls with a pet growling, and tells people to heal and res) and a rude ret paladin (or maybe it was a rogue? DPS all look the same). Oh yea, they invited and summoned me directly in, with the first boss already dead. I stayed because I was already saved and the first boss had nothing I wanted anyway. Somehow we killed the last boss, despite losing two DPS because the boss summoned the orbs that hurt you, and they just stood there. The hunter yelled for heals.

Oh hey, complaining again. Um, happy new... week? I suppose I'm a bit negative because I didn't get into tonight's heroic Naxx, despite being there last night. Apparently I have my head up my ass about blessings. I guess that means I sent a couple extra tells to ensure that the DKs had imp might. Why would I expect the person assigning blessings to know what people have? Silly me.

How to ruin a Death Knight

/cast Death Grip
/s Accio %t!

I wonder if I can add a modifier to not say unless it actually casts. Though I suppose Accio No Target! is still actually working, since it drags over nothing.

This is why we can't have nice things

| Sunday, January 11, 2009
So there I am trying to be a decent person. I get invited to a heroic HoL group as the tank and ask if the leader minds me rolling on the axe. I explain that that's the only reason that I'd go. He says I can roll off spec.

Well no shit. Of course people can always roll offspec. Only one group in a million shards stuff before offspec rolls. I wanted to establish ahead of time whether people minded me rolling equally.

So, I left because why stick around for a run where I have two options:
1) Obsessively inspect gear to ensure that no one could possibly want the axe for their main spec. That rules out ret paladins, all warriors (since I'm the tank, we're not bringing prot), DKs, and probably a few weird shamans as well.
2) Run and then due to the rules I agreed to at the start, roll greed vs. the need roll of someone else. Yay, automatic loss.

He calls me a dumbass. Before ignoring him I reply "why, for checking ahead of time?"

I realized that he's right. I am a dumbass. I shouldn't be worrying about establishing loot rules ahead of time. I should just go along as a tank and out of nowhere drop a need roll. Apparently that's the only way to get anything these days. Silly me.

Snow: The Killer of Groups

| Saturday, January 10, 2009
I like snow. It's beautiful. It makes everything look better.

I don't even mind shoveling that much. It's a bit cold out, but I warm up. The work isn't too bad either.

It's the disruption that I mind. There I am, tanking away, and then, snow stops, time to shovel. This isn't much good for groups.

I made a webcomic

| Friday, January 9, 2009
It has been a lesson in failure, perseverance, and against all odds, failing some more.

More seriously though, it's about my paladin and her adventures. More accurately, her made-up adventures since killing an elemental lord with 6 people is harder to write jokes for.
Raid Warning: Ragnaros will make a witty comment soon!
Ragnaros whispers: Nice haircut, did you finally fix the lawnmower?
Kelpsacovic: wtf?
Raganaros: You just got BURNED!
See, it doesn't work well.

The opening scene was originally going to look a lot more... better. Then I ran into one problem after another. WoW Model Viewer was broken. A modified version was less broken, but still broken enough. Recently a new version came out which works fine except for occasional crashes, but that's good enough. But, WoW Map Viewer is broken and I couldn't figure out the fix, so I had to pick between doing nothing and using an alt to take screenshots and hope they worked. I with the latter and well... the results speak for themselves. Since a picture is a thousand words, they're even more talkative than me. I wonder if that make an art museum the epitome of TL;DR.

Ahem. So, the comic ended up a lot simpler than I originally imagined. I suppose it works out for the best. I have a lot of dialogue and it would be a shame if speech bubbles were covering anything worth seeing. It was a learning experience at least.

So, the comics:
Preparations must be made
Unannounced visitors
Run away little girl, run away

I have a few more written and the fifth one is done. I couldn't do the fourth because it got too dark. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them at least a little bit. Feel free to give suggestions on anything that might make them better.

WotLK Instances

| Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Vanilla had the super-long instances, which while full of awesome, were frequently too long for the average player. BRD was probably the peak of this, though Mara and LBRS weren't exactly short.

BC had... hallways. Some were even very short hallways like the Mechanar. Then there were the woefully non-labyrinthine Shadow Labyrinths. Don't getme wrong, BC instances weren't terrible. They had their moments. Who can not laugh at the dialog between the demon bosses in Arcatraz? Oh, and Millhouse, good stuff. Still, they were a bit dull to run, lacking anything at all to explore or discover. There was no sense of scale.

It's not that linear instances are innately bad. They just have to be done well. UBRS was linear, and yet it was one of my favorite instances. Shadowfang Keep is perfectly linear but the way it is laid out gives a sense of being a little castle, a real building, rather than just an aimlessly wandering path. SFK is probably one of the best instances in vanilla.

WotLK instances are simply amazing. They're not huge or complex to navigate. In fact they're mostly linear. But the way they are set up gives a great sense of scale. Just today I was running through Gun'drak when I looked to my left just past the snake boss room and just stood there. I was awestruck by the vast scale of the temple/fortress we were in.

WotLK instances have a ton of 'wasted' space: areas that we will never run into and never need to know exist. But these areas give the scale that was missing in BC. Ahn'Kahet and Azjol'Nerub both have large areas of wasted space and they make good use of them. The first makes you feel like you're in the middle of a city. It almost felt like in BRD when you look out over the lava and see all these homes carved into the distant walls. AN is less extravagant with space, until you do the drop before the last boss. You go past several levels of carved out city, packed with spidery architecture. After that you can't pretend it's just a hallway: you're in the heart of the Nerubian civilization, or at least the part conquered by the Scourge.

The heavy use of open sky also helps. It reminds us that we're not in some isolated bit of hallway, we're still in the world and we can see it. I'm not a huge fan of DTK, but near the end when you're doing the troll-undead pulls along that balcony, look to the left. See a troll civilization out there. Utgarde Keep makes good use of open air as well while Utgarde Pinnacle uses it sparingly, to show not the sky, but the holes in the roof and the decay which is brought by Scourge influence.

It really feels like Blizzard brought out the greatest creativity they could when creating the WotLK instances. They're practical to run, being 30-90 minutes, but give a large sense of scale and a place in the world. You can almost forget you even went through a portal. That is one of the biggest signs of a well-designed instance.

25 - Plague Wing... lagged

| Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Zul'jin wasn't being nice tonight.

We started out in The Obsidian Sanctum. I was asked to go ret, which I did gladly. We killed the three drakes easily enough, though someone DCed in the process and got hit with a long queue. Then came the boss. This was new to me. The first attempt went terribly, with a lot of people (including me) having no clue of how to avoid the waves. It was so bad that I didn't even have any clue of how I would avoid them. It was confusing. Second attempt went better, not perfect, but good enough to down the boss. I was sure that I'd gotten hit by a wave still, very early on, but somehow I got the achievement. Maybe it was the previous fight and my memory is just that bad. Or WoW is bugged. Both seem likely.

After loot was handed out we headed to Naxxramas and started in the plague wing. Noth the Plaguebringer first attempt was terrible because multiple curses got through. The lag didn't help. Second attempt was a little bit messy and so laggy that we seemed to miss an entire down phase, but he died. Drop were the CS libram (lost to a ret main-spec), some crit/ArP shoulders (arms-main spec), cloth robes (guess if I even tried to roll), and the tanking ring, which I also lost. The last one slightly annoyed me since the person who won it against me was the one that I passed the tanking weapon to last night. But in perspective I rarely make raids, it was a slightly bigger upgrade for him, and really, is it worth causing a fuss over a single ring?

Gothik the Harvester should have tested my dance skills. Instead it tested by ability to not notice a disease on myself. Yea, retnoobing it up. So, I died in early phase one and was nearly useless. Go me. Only loot I found interesting were hit/ArP boots, but I liked my current ones from the Ebon Blade well enough and I felt dumb asking for what I felt was a minor upgrade from a boss I didn't do much on.

Loatheb. Ah... healbot. With all the lag the healers couldn't time their heals properly, so we started losing DPS at around the 2/3 mark and didn't seem to get him under 25%. The raid was called because there's no sense in wiping due to lag.

In other news, things happened in ZG. I learned that due to buggy mechanics Jin'do is ridiculously easy to solo (the MC totem basically heals you to full health and drops debuffs off Jin'do, that's it). I turned in large numbers of rep items, the channeler's heads quest, and the friendly and honored gear quests. That got me around halfway to revered. I might get exalted within the week.

My attempt at Hakkar went well for a while, until he enraged and started hitting for 2.5k. I'll need to figure out some way to deal with that. I really wish boss enrages were proportional attack speed buffs instead of damage buffs, then I could just use them for extra reckoning charges. Since I'm ret, I'll try with that. Maybe the extra damage and instant heals will do the trick. Despite trying at least a dozen hoodoo piles (plus previous runs), I have yet to find a paladin doll. I wonder if they are Alliance-only.

25 - Military Wing Down

| Monday, January 5, 2009
I somehow managed to get into a guild Naxx run. This is rare since I never seem to be on at the right time or there are more serious people already on, filling the raid. Anyway, we were doing 25-man and I was prot.

It was fun.

Instructor Razuvious was a little dull for me. My job was to tank one of the adds away from the group. Easy and simple, but at least I had a clear view of the zerg near the boss. We one-shot him thanks to our priests getting it right on their first try, some were new to the fight.
Gothik the Harvester was really fun to tank. I was on dead side. At one point we had to yell at the live side to slow DPS for a sec so we could catch up. Our DPS was fine, but we tanks were getting worried with so many mobs all at once. We got him the first try.
Four-horsemen were a challenge. We didn't fully understand the fight and it's a bit weird to hear without seeing. Still, after about five tries, they finally died. The second or third to last try it was just me and the boss with about 9k health. I hadn't noticed everyone else die and vent was pretty quiet, so I just went on with my normal routine of healing myself while others did pew pew. Looking back, I probably could have killed him. Pop my bubble, shield, shield, hammer of the righteous, hammer of justice, shield, shield, pop LoH if he's still not dead... I felt silly after that. Unfortunately this fight was pretty boring for me. I was a back tank, which really just meant throw on healing gear and distract the bosses from AoEing the raid. I entertained myself by throwing around sacred shields, which might have helped out a bit.

Gear-wise, not a pinata for me. The tanking mace dropped from 4H, but it was a much bigger upgrade for one of the warriors, so I passed it to him. I said need in chat, then inspected, then said approximately "I pass, his weapon is terrible."

The fights were definitely different from the 40-man. I never actually did it at 60, but I did a few times at 70 and I think I can figure out what the fights were supposed to be. So, I guess I have three experiences: 40@70, 25@80, and what I was supposed to have seen with 40@60.

Instructor Razuvious: At 70 we just tanked him with a warrior and I took the all the adds away. We only have maybe 15 people, so not enough priests. At 80 I think it's a lot closer to the intent at 60, with priests and MC being the tank. This fight translated very well I think. Apparently in 10-man there are MC orbs, not quite the same, but it works.

Gothik the Harvester: Seemed about the same as at 70, except more difficult. The number of spawns seemed to be about the same, which makes it more interesting with fewer tanks. However we do have much better AoE now, so it works out. I have no idea of the 10-man.

Four Horsemen: Eh. There was clearly not a 5-8 tank rotation. Honestly it looked more like two tanks alternating mobs while a few healers distracted the casters in the back. Overall it had a feel a lot more like perhaps Thaddius with the individual side switches. This fight did not translate well. However I must concede that this may be a good thing. Needing 8 tanks, at the time of all one class, out of 40 people, was a really awful idea. Now it's much better balanced with two tanks and a choice of four different classes for them.

Overall it was a fun night. Not too many wipes. No loot, but I don't care too much. Loot will come, and besides, I'm still in the phase of enjoying the experience. I'm looking forward to getting into more runs in the future.

I have Judgement Kilt

| Sunday, January 4, 2009
A few guildies came to finish MC with the promise that it would be quick. It was. Quick rune douse (took a few tries to find the one we missed), AoE down Domo's adds, and then Rag died in a couple minutes.

Judgement dropped, there were no other paladins in the raid. Woo!

MC: Again

I managed to get a couple guildies and some friends of theirs to come to MC. We killed everything up to Domo and then I had to go. One of them is putting out the fires once an hour, so when I get through the... 578 person queue, I think we can kill Domo and Rag. I got a few pieces of lawbringer, no binding from Baron (sadface), and took vendorstrike for laughs. We also got a bunch of BoE T1 and cores. I had to leave in a rush, so I grabbed my share of the cores, rounded up since it didn't come out evenly, and then handed the rest to a guildy (the friend of the non-guildies) and told him to hand it all out.

The run went fairly smoothly. We did have a bit of an upset when I tried to tank three core hound packs at once, and learned that we couldn't keep even damage on 15-18 mobs at once. I managed to find DI in my spell book and throw it on our priest, and was amazed that I had the reagent. Also we had a scare before Garr. I was trying to pull a core hound and instead got the hound and the boss, then another hound wandered over. Fortunately MC is pretty trivial now, so it was really no threat. Baron was a bit trickier since we only had six people and one healer, so the mana burn hurt a lot, even as fast as we tried to cleanse/dispel it. I threw LoH on the priest so he could keep going, probably saved us a wipe.

It's fun to run back through stuff when it's completely trivial, especially when people aren't being retarded or whining about loot. I'd tried PUGs a few months back and they were terrible. Cleansing the firelord's debuff was apparently too much to ask, as was focus-fire on the spawns. No one had an patience, so a single wipe meant a loss of half the raid. Loot was a pain since everyone wanted everything and could not understand the concept of "roll on cores and shards at the end." Don't even get me started on the core hound packs and even DPS. This time I played it safe and mostly soloed them, just with heals, down to about 10%, then had everyone burn them.

Let's see how this goes after the 378 person queue.

Heroic Oculus: done.

I finally got a group that could kill the last boss. Yea I know, it's a heroic, who cares? Well I care! After multiple PUGs of constant wipes, I am full of care. My care cup overflows.

It didn't start off too well. Our rogue wasn't the swiftest one around. Somehow telling him to imitate the other bronze drake was too complex. Eventually I decided that despite the potential for an extra enrage, it didn't matter since he couldn't handle an amber drake. I switched him to a red and told him to spam 1 (the chain fire whelp-killer). He complained about me making him switch after he'd already gotten it figured out. I remained quiet since I'm tend to go from patient to insulting, kicking, and ignoring in a short time. I'm either nice or terribly rude and angry, so I decided to stay on the nice side, with some condescending to blow off steam.

Anyway, we used a setup of two greens, two reds, and one bronze. I think it actually worked out well for less damage taken. The reds tore apart the whelps very quickly, with no more than two up at once and for no more than a couple seconds. It seems like the timing is forgiving enough that one amber can handle the enrage. The greens healed well.

For the orbs, we agreed on a strategy of "fly south, not east or west or up or down, south." I changed this to "fly north, not east or west or up or down, south" after we ended up on a different rock. Then we added the "don't stop flying until the orbs are gone" part and then it worked better.

I got lucky and had no competition for the plate DPS gloves. Yay.

Alexstrasza and her Scourge

| Saturday, January 3, 2009
She will make her own army of the undead. Why? The Aspects are being corrupted, turned against their purposes by madness.

First was Neltharion. I don't actually know what he was supposed to do, but clearly he is no longer doing it. Earth-warding sounds like something dealing with the mountains and dirt, not explosions of rock and lava. The Old Gods corrupted him. Strangely, I see hope for him since they tried to take the Demon Soul from him, so they are now his enemies. With him ignoring their whispers, perhaps he will see his own madness.

We see Malygos now. Once the aspect of magic, he is now fighting it. Is he insane? Perhaps not, but he is clearly failing in his duty. If magic is hurting Azeroth he should fix it, restructure it, not destroy it. His current method could actually turn out to the worse than the reckless use of magic, since shooting pure magical energies out into the Twisting Nether is bound to attract even more enemies. I wonder what his flight does after he dies.

Nozdormu, now this is speculation, but he is possibly the leader of the Infinite Dragonflight. We saw him in the Dragonblight when attempting to reveal the leader of the Infinites. Further, in War of the Ancients he talks about Malygos as if he knows about his future reversal of role and says the same about himself: "Know that I now asssk forgiveness for the wrongs I will cause you in the future, but I must be what I am destined to be... as Malygos is" (p. 712 in the combined books). Will, is Nozdormu already, betraying time?

Ysera is the Dreamer. Her realm is the Emerald Dream. Yet it is turning into a nightmare. I don't think she will remain uncorrupted for long, if she is even now. Already four powerful members of her flight have begun to spread the madness which they experience; we know them as the four green world dragons. Eranikus was also corrupted, though we redeemed him from what I've heard. I suspect that when she and Malfurion hid the Demon Soul where Neltharion could not get it, they put it in the Emerald Dream. The Aspect's spell on it wore off and through it the Old Gods were able to start corrupting the Dream.

Alexstrasza has not yet fallen, as far as we can tell, but I expect something to push her. Perhaps it will be her encounters with the Scourge which... inspire her. She protects life and the Scourge is the current greatest threat to life. Now that Malygos is dead, she can focus on Arthas. Yogg-Saron may give her an idea: what better way to protect life than to make it unending and persist even after death? She will see undeath as the solution and will create her own Scourge. Already it has been shown that the Red Dragonflight, having mastery over life, also has the same knowledge of death.

A plagued dragonflight seems possible. In Scholomance we saw the beginning: plagued whelps. I doubt Alextrazsa would have as much difficulty in transforming her flight to undeath. How long before we adventurers are sent to kill a new set of plagued whelps?

"Can't touch this."

| Friday, January 2, 2009
Says the paladin to AQ trash.

I pretty much spent all of today soloing pre-BC raids.
ZG was easy as usual, in fact easier because I'd learned from my previous run.
Snake: Leave his snakes alive, they feed reckoning and mana so you can get the boss into the snake phase sooner. This is at least five minutes faster than wearing down his mana.
Tiger: Bring someone with an interrupt or you will be there a long time. I brought a shaman.
Raptor: Tank him at the top of the pyramid and use seal of wisdom. Use that mana for extra DPS and sacred shield, so you don't need the extra healing from seal of light.

After that I went down to AQ and learned some more. I also killed bad things.
Rajaxx: Do not try to pull the entire event at once. Each wave is trivial, but when you have three waves plus the boss, it hurts, eventually. This might also be easier if you have the NPCs helping, but I was scared of Kurinaxx and did him after.
Kurinaxx: Walk backwards in circles and you'll avoid the sand traps. JoL with SoV should do the job. Remember, enrages are just extra reactive damage.
Moam: He barely does any damage and the adds just feed mana and reckoning. This was a lot easier than I expected.

Ossirian: Clear the adds, you'll want the crystals ready. I wasn't able to handle the damage from him being enraged, so I had to use them. Maybe someone with more avoidance could last through it. The trick is to pull him and then get to the center crystal as fast as possible. Once the enrage is removed, look around for the next one and move toward it. Keep up your health and mana as needed, use SoV when you feel you have plenty, and it's not all that hard. I did have to burn LoH after I took too long to find a crystal, but aside from that it was a pretty smooth fight.

I took his head and gave it to an elf who then yelled about how great I was.

My foray into AQ40 was much less successful. The Sentinels were totally new to me, since I'd never been there. The ability sharing was a neat mechanic, but I can see how it would be incredibly annoying. In fact, I experienced that for myself. Clearing before the first boss I ended up facing mana burn, MS, thorns, and worst of all: 4.7k healing every 3 seconds. Fortunately I knew the mechanics by then I recognized that I didn't want that one shared. Still, I ended up stuck in an endless fight with it until a guildy prot warrior came all the way from Dalaran. It was a long fight.

The boss did terrible things to us.

At the end of all this soloing I was several hundred gold richer, loaded with funny old-world items, and had gained several achievements: killing Ossirian, drinking (the booze by the fish boss in ZG), and the feat of strength for the red resonating crystal. I turned in some of the funny items and finally got the AQ ring and cloak, which combined with my year-old bug leg sword, gives me the best set bonus of all time: 20% chance for 100 mana when judging. Oh, that is awful isn't it? Well, the stats on the gear are no better: str, stam, int, mana/5, and a touch of SP on the ring. Ah, the good old days of terrible itemization for a worse designed class.

Finally soloed Moroes

| Thursday, January 1, 2009
It took a few tries, but he died. It was pretty close and I ended up popping LoH for the last 10% or so. I might have been able to kill him without it, but I figured it was worth it, just to be safe. The adds were shadow priest, ret paladin, prot warrior, holy paladin. If not for the stun reduction in ret I probably would have died. Nerf HoJ, except on my paladin. :) Gear-wise, I feel like I'm right at the edge of what is practical, not relying on procs too much or needing to pop potions. The last time I attempted this my gear was about the same except for a worse neck and I had H VH legs instead of T7.

Keeping with the theme of the past two years, the watch did not drop. The two times I have seen it, it's been a much bigger upgrade for others.

Attumen was close due to a bad choice when resealing.

Maiden was a slow death that I didn't feel like I could do much to prevent. So much damage is holy, so my armor does nothing and BoS isn't giving much regen. This would probably be a lot easier as ret so I could actually hurt her and heal more with instant FoL.

Time for ZG...

Oh right, Happy New Year.
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