Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Turning "The Safety Dance" Into "The Safety Stand There Not Really Watching The Fight And Spamming All Your Nukes... Thing"

Raid progress is going slow but the raid nights themselves are going fast. Last night we cleared Archavon and got 2 Abyss Shards. Then we went over to Sartharion. We attempted the fight with one drake up, but the adds were too heavy. I also think we left the wrong drake up. However, our DPS isn't quite up to snuff, so we downed the drake and then took on Sartharion. On to Naxx, we cleared the Spider Wing and did the Plague Wing again.

On Heigan we used the safe spot cheese, which made the fight go much faster and the achievement trivial. On Loatheb, Falcon was specced Circle of Healing and it made the fight stupid easy. Circle of Healing should be nerfed. Oh wait...

We finally defeated Patchwerk, even though he enraged. Our Warrior was MTing and he was able to absorb the full brunt of the attack for the 20 seconds or so of enrage he had to endure. Patchwerk dropped total crap.

On to Grobbulus, we got several good attempts in, but didn't quite down him. There seems to be a communication breakdown somewhere in where the injected players should drop the poison clouds. Once we get that down, the fight should be easy. I have confidence we will down it the next night we try it.

I got a couple of upgrades from Naxx last night, by the way. Amulet of Autopsy replacing Amulet of Wills, and Leggings of Discord replacing Chain Gang Legguards. Dropping a bit of Stamina for Agility, but when you have 40k health raid buffed you can pretty easily afford to do so.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blogging about a survey is kinda like phoning it in. So I took the easy way out today.

I went to take the survey World of Matticus has pimped on his blog. What can I say, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. Here are my results:

Your Top Character Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Second Character Strength

Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Your Third Character Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fourth Character Strength

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Your Fifth Character Strength

Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

I guess I agree with all of it except the last one. I'm really not sure I perform so well in a group. Well, in terms of WoW, I suppose I do. Always there to perform my role. Well, when I am there. I haven't been on all week due to Holidays and weird sleep schedules. Well, there's a raid tonight, so no excuses.

Amusingly, way down in number 13 is Leadership. This is probably something I should work on, though it is possible that where my leadership is is just fine. I really like all the traits that are above leadership: Honestly, Loving, Optimism, Learning, Creativity, Bravery and Perspective.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coming soon to my blog header: "Aspect of the Leader of the Pack." Let's hope not.

There hasn't been much posted here because there hasn't been much going on. I leveled my hunter to 73. Woo. Hoo. Unlike certain other "Druids" in the blagonets, I keep my priorites straight. Or maybe he's saving the best for last? Who knows. All I know, is I go to my hunter when it's time to turn off the brain for a bit. This is why BRK is so disjointed from his brain.

Incidentally, my prot pally is where I want to go when I don't want to think, but I do want to tank. She's still 70, though.

The holidays have had a negative effect on raid progress. We've had one real weekend at Naxx, and I think we've done fine for it (7/15 clear, plus Sartharion. Not too bad.) Our normal raid days are Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays, so the holidays have left us with Monday as the only day to raid until January 2nd, when I crack the whip and we start going after new content.

One thing I'm really worried about is raid DPS. Sadly I think I made my wife go Holy worrying about DPS. But it's everyone. I'll have to see how the raid turns out next week, but the numbers that we are producing seem to be 500 to 750 DPS under par for similarly geared folks. Again, we haven't really had a raid since some of the members got upgrades, so I may not have anything to worry about. And we have another couple of farming days before we get back to new content.

That's all for now!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I suppose this is my way of apologizing for calling her "emo"

Bellweather at 4Haelz was kind enough to host a guest post written by me. Go check it out, it's far better than anything I've written for myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

@Kralnor: My staff is a good one, too

So the other night we go into Naxx, ready to tear up. Oddly enough, the trash on the Military Quarter respawned even though we downed Razuvious. Oh well, we were headed to the Plague Quarter anyway to get to Noth. But those gargoyles were tough! We could do the other pulls fine, but the gargoyles were crazy! Somewhere in the middle of it, Ousted Bead Necklace dropped, which went to our priest healer. We decided to give up on the gargoyles after several attempts so we went to the Abomination Quarter to try our hand at Patchwerk. The first pull seemed a little off... we wiped on it once, then downed it and pulled some slime. About this point, our Druid healer says "It's on heroic!" Clearing heroic Naxx trash isn't too bad for our first week in Naxx. Ah well. Out we go and into normal Naxx.

The trash became a breeze. We got to Noth and one-shot him on our first time seeing him, and then Heigan... was a little different. We got him down, just a little after our normal stop time. He dropped Staff of the Plague Beast for me, so I was pretty pleased. It's actually the first bit of tank gear that dropped for our guild out of Naxx.

I've been picking up on tanking in 5 mans. You can't just go in tanking like you did in BC, not as a Druid anyway. You have to pretty much spam Maul and Swipe. That's really all you need, but you need to pick up aggro on all the mobs pretty quickly. Bosses are pretty much the same as before.

Oh, and I finally got enough emblems for my T7 chestpiece, which is the first thing I saved up for. I might get the tanking necklace next. I'm not sure. I'll figure it out later, I guess...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I will never claim that communication is my forté

To be clear: I am not against pugs getting loot in raids. our loot system is designed such that over time, everyone (including pugs) gets equal distribution of loot. It is also design such that, in the short term, the gear goes to people we can count on being there for our next progression kill.

In this way, I believe we reward everyone who puts in work while at the same time not sacrificing ourselves for progression in the name of 'fairness.'

How our loot system works:

It is a traditional Suicide Kings. When the initial list is generated, tanks are randomized into the top spots. Healers are randomized into the next spots. Everyone is randomized to the bottom of the list. This is because tanks are the most important thing to progression, with healers being second. DPS being at the bottom is rarely an issue, but in the case of Tier tokens, this seems to work out best.

This list is used as a template for three lists. One for Tier Loot, one for Main Spec Loot, and one for Off Spec Loot. I suspect we'll make the Tier Loot a Tier 7 Loot list, and then a new Tier 8 Loot list when that content becomes available.

At the beginning of the raid, pugs are added to the bottom of the list in the order they joined the raid. At the end of the raid, pugs are suicided and then removed, to preserve order for the people who did not come.

When a new player is added to the guild as a raider, they are also added to the bottom of the list.

When loot drops, every player in the raid whispers "main" or "off" to the master looter. The person at the top of the list wins the item, at the discretion of the loot master, for example when someone is bidding inappropriately, or in corner cases like Hunters vs. Rogues on a weapon. So far the only discretion I've really had to use is for people trying to bid on blatant downgrades, or for people not bidding on upgrades. Sometimes people will bid "off" on an item and then go on to use it like normal. In that case, they are suicided on the main list instead of the off list. Tier loot that is won for an off spec is suicided on the off spec list.

Items such as epic bags, quest drops like Magtheridon's Head, mounts and the like that don't have impact on combat directly are put to a random roll, highest roll wins. Everyone is invited to roll on such items, pugs and guildies alike.

Loot is only sharded when there are no bids from anyone in the raid. In the case of the boots yesterday, they went to our resident resto Druid.

This system is not perfect, but it makes the guild happy, and we all agree that for what we do, it is much better than a pug walking away with important loot due to a random roll.

At the beginning of the raid, I put up a small blurb which I have macro'd on my bar. It explains very briefly that we use a Suicide Kings list and that pugs are added to the bottom of the list. It also is very clear that pugs are not excluded from receiving loot. It then gives bidding instructions. People with questions generally whisper me for clarifications on the rules if they have questions. I make sure everyone who isn't clear on the rules is clear on them. Obviously it doesn't always work.

Finally, I received the following comment on the last post:

[...]if I don't come, their guild doesn't raid. If anything, I'm more valuable than the other people.

This surprised me because it came from someone I deeply respect for his clear thinking, Rohan from Blessing of Kings. This statement is pretty conceited, and very incorrect. Pugs aren't there so we can go raid. I have before and will again run a 7 man raid where necessary. In fact, in Savant's early days, there was a lot of 6, 7, or 8 man raids, and they were very successful. To say "oh we can't get another body so we'll just have to quit for the night" is very disrespectful to the people in my guild who are talented enough to adapt to various dire looking situations. We're all good players, and if we want to raid, then dammit, we're gonna raid, even with a slim chance of success.

Pugs are not more important than guildies. If they were, everyone would be running pug groups, and guilds would be reduced to chatrooms. Pugs contribute to one kill, but do they contribute to a majority of our kills? Did they help us get where we are now? If so why aren't they in the guild? If you can't make a commitment to our guild, you aren't as important. I'm not saying you aren't important at all. Just that pugs are in no way more important than the people who are willing to be there when it's not fun, when going through wipe after wipe seems to be the game of the evening, because we want to make tomorrow's raid a little easier on ourselves via learned strategy and better gear. Or next month's raid.

Seriously. You'll get your loot eventually. Stop being a baby.

We did another raid last night. Spend a little bit on Obsidian Sanctum. Got Sartharion down in two tries. I was the only person in the raid to get the achievement for dodging the meteors. We got to Anub'Rekhan and downed him in one shot. Took down Faerlina in two tries. I think it took three tries to get Maexxna down, and that's where we stopped for the night.

Right before Maexxna, our resto shaman who was pugging with us decided to throw a fit over out loot rules, which were clearly stated at the beginning of the night. Because he "didn't have a chance" on Boots of the Follower. You know, because resto shamans are all about spirit. Anyway, he got all bitchy and left, which is good for us, we don't want loot whores. It's just the gall of it amazes me.

We replaced him with an elemental shaman and Aegis of Damnation dropped. Our new shaman was quite happy. Irony fills the air.

What I don't understand is, if you're pugging on someone else's guild run, do you expect to get loot over their guildies? Especially in the formative days of raiding where not everything is on farm. I sure don't. They're kind enough to include me on the run, I'll take my Emblems and thank them for the opportunity.

The other thing that bugged me about this guy is how he said he would have rather run with his guild where he "would have had a fair shot at loot." Well why the hell are you running with us? Are you intending to steal our instance ID from us when you get back to your guild?

We run again tonight, so there's probably not going to be any instance theft (we also run fairly early for the server.) But Monday is rather questionable. I think I might contact this guy's guild leader and mention his behavior in Naxx. We'll see if anything comes of it.

In other news, no tank loot has dropped. Go figure. Guess it's more heroics for me! I have a hunter who needs gearing, so I'll probably make him tag along with me as much as possible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've been foolishly giving leather to the trader for recipes I'll probably never use

I just thought to myself "Why the heck am I not using Heavy Borean Armor Kits on my head, shoulders and chest to tide me over until I get the good stuff?" They're easy to overlook, mostly because the default armor kits in BC were so irrelevant. But 18 Stamina is nothing to sneeze at, and even a top contender in certain slots (like chest, for example.)

On another note, Be Imba is back up, though there isn't really information about talent specs in it. WoW Heroes has been up for a week or two now, but they are about as informative as the Armory is. And they for some reason think Frosthide Leg Armor is somehow inherently better than Jormungar Leg Reinforcements.

Finally, I have come across an idea for a theorycrafting addon that I hope to be able to develop and release soon. More details are to come, so keep your eyes peeled. This may be something theorycrafters will be able to help package, such that for raiders (and people just looking to maximize their performance) will be able to quickly and most accurately make decisions. That's rather vague, but I will leave it like that until I have more solid footing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ironically, the best way to survive was to ditch Survival

So yesterday I threw together a raid night on a whim. Luckily, one of our healers got on just in time that we only had to pug one healer. We tried Sartharion, got him down to about 1k health, and then respawns happened. We cried ourselves a long and swiftly-flowing river, then went over to Naxx, which one of our hunters was locked out of.

First, the WWS of the night. On the overall report, I am second on damage dealt. All the Hunters are Beast Mastery, except the top damage hunter, who was Survival until the last attempt on Anub'Rekhan. She's normally Beast Mastery, and it shows in the report. Suffice it to say, a lot of our problems went away when she specced back and gained about 350 DPS. Yes, in 10-mans, every person makes a difference, and every person needs to be putting out as much DPS/heals as possible.

Obsidian Sanctum was fun, except for the first pull where I incorrectly assumed that the mobs were vulnerable to CC. We got through the trash fairly easily, and the Drakes were pretty easy, except for Tenebron, who we had to make a couple of attempts on.

We get to Sartharion. I give an ever-so-brief account of what happens ("If it glows, stay away from it") and then off we go. First one goes pretty terribly, as is to be expected. But I think there's a lot to be said for actually experiencing the fight, as opposed to reading about it or watching a video. You just don't really comprehend what you're dealing with until you've tried to deal with it. As such, I usually want to give the briefest of explanations for the first attempt, and then go from there.

We adapted fairly quickly, refining our technique with every pull and learning what we need to communicate to get the raid moving appropriately. Our third attempt, we got him down to ~1000 health, and just couldn't do it. We got close on the next attempt, and then on the fifth one, we had trash respawns so we called it. We were going to call it for the night when I said "Why not try the first boss of Naxx?" Put it to a vote and it was unanimous.

The trash was stupid easy, I screwed up on the first pull and got an extra group and the raid wasn't adversely affected in the slightest. Trash out of the way, we attempted Anub'Rekhan. Again, first fight was a taster, second fight went a little better. It took us until the fourth attempt until we weren't dying, and then we died to the enrage timer. Same for the fifth attempt. It seemed like we didn't have enough DPS. When I asked the hunters what was going on (if you look, they are both below me on try 4, and try 5 doesn't look much better) the answer was that I had them using Aspect of the Wild, which was unnecessary. Also, the hunter that was Survival was still trying to DPS like a hunter who was BM. So we waited while she respecced back to BM. When she got back we made short work of the boss. Loot was distributed, and we ended the night late, but happy to have killed something.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I wish Swipe did 4 times the threat and was on a 6 second cooldown

I was sick yesterday. I didn't feel like blogging the rest of the week. I don't blog on weekends anyway, so the sickness didn't really change that. It did make me contemplate not going to work today, in which case this post might not exist.

I believe I already mentioned I hit 80. A day later, I was in a PuG for a heroic. There was a good tank. Unguilded. I let the run carry through, a little bumpy, but not too bad. Certainly not the tank's fault. I topped the DPS charts, though, and as a tank-specced Druid, this concerns me. But nonetheless, I was happy with myself for beating what must have been a retarded hunter (Seriously, my hunter did as much DPS last time she was in an instance, and she was 70 at the time.) Also I think there was a rogue, but rogues are still figuring out how to do good DPS again, it seems (hint: pad your DPS with Fan of Knives on the big pulls.)

Anyway, where was I? Tank. Good. Unguilded. Like any guild leader cat Druid with a shortage of tanks, I waited until the right moment and then I pounced. I bypassed the application process for this one because I had just seen her play, and I was impressed. She knew her stuff. I daresay, she may even be a better tank than I, but only because she knows all the new content.

We almost have a big enough crew to run Naxx, but I've given the guild until the 18th to work on leveling and gear. That's also plenty of time for me to put writeups of the boss strategies on our guild website.

I've leveled Miyra to 71, but I'm not feeling as enthused about her right now. Maybe it's because I feel out of touch with my guild while I'm on her. As sort of a switch up, I got on my pally, respecced her Ret, and sailed off to Northrend, but not after buying Axe skill so that I could use my Arcanite Ripper. So, armed with only a weapon that I barely know how to equip, let alone use, I go into battle with Northrend mobs. And it works! The little Ret Pally quickly jumps from 1 weapon skill, tearing through mobs without much of a problem.

Now, the only thing I need to change is I need to pick up Seal of Command. I've been using Seal of the Martyr, which is a lot more DPS (my glyphs are spent on Protection) but I can't stand the downtime it generates.

I'm looking forward to getting my Pally up to 80. I can't stand how much AoE tanking needs to be done, spending every GCD on swipe instead of something cooler. I miss the brainless exercise that is Pally tanking (at least when compared to Druid tanking.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SPOILER: Blantant Guild Promotion contained within! Will it end well?

I dinged 80 last night. I took a screenshot, but I had no inclination of posting it, as it was last night at 1:30 AM. So no screenshot for you. I will describe it though:

"I'm standing in the cave of The Bone Witch. There is a flashy yellow light looming around me, in the shape of a double helix, though it may not be readily apparent. At the bottom of the screen, you find a little box that appears as though it's trying to be shiny. It contains the phrases 'Achievement Earned' and 'Level 80.' There is a quest up on the screen, 'Find the Ancient Hero.' This quest is ready to be accepted by my character. The experience bar is gone, but the reputation bar hasn't moved to compensate."

It's not quite a thousand words, but you see one level 80 screenshot, you've pretty much seen them all.

The other thing I did before I went to bed is that I crafted my Trollwoven Spaulders. They aren't the prettiest to look at, unless you're only looking at the tooltip, in which case they are quite sexy. I'll probably get to test them out in a heroic tonight, the guild only has six 80s so Naxx will have to wait for now.

Blatant Guild Promotion

Speaking of which, if you are on Sisters of Elune alliance side or would like to maybe transfer to tank for a guild with a good but rather perverse group of people, drop me a line, or go to the guild website.

I haven't said anything about the upcoming armor change, so here goes: I approve. Rawr tells me my armor as current will go up about 4000 points. So it's a nice boost. As a 10-man raider, I don't think I should have to put up with things like Defender's Code being so unbalancing.

That's all for now!

Monday, December 1, 2008

As a Druid of Cenarius, I'm obliged to morally object to this post. My real thoughts? Animals: tasty AND fashionable!

I'm sitting at the eve of 79, with just 2 bars to go. Hitting 79 tonight will be easy, but 80 is probably tomorrow at best. There are a few 80s in guild already but not enough to farm heroics, so I'm working to get there. By the time I do hit 80 we will have enough to do heroics until we start farming Naxx. I'm not sure when to start on Naxx though, if I should wait until we comprise a majority of the run (say about 8 slots or so) or if I should allow my officers time to level (they are sitting at 73 at the moment.) Tough decisions, no?

Anyway, I've spent the past few bars grinding on mobs in Sholazar Basin for skins to make my Eviscerator's set and I thought now would be a good time to share how I leveled/plan to level my leatherworking from 375:

375-390: Frostscale Shoulders, Iceborne Boots, or Nerubian Belt. All of these are 10 leather. Just make whatever sells best. If you're selling to the vendor, then make the shoulders.

390-395: Any of Frostscale Boots, Frostscale Gloves, Iceborne Shoulderpads, Nerubian Boots, Nerubian Shoulders. The highest vending item is the Nerubian Shoulders.

395-400: Any of Arctic Wristguards, Frostscale Bracers, Iceborne Wristguards, Nerubian Bracers. Highest vendor value is the Frostscale Bracers

At this point you can now make Fur Linings. These are great as one Arctic Fur (~40 gold on my server) is one point of Leatherworking until 425. Also, at this point, all orange recipes require Heavy Borean Leather or something more exotic.

400-405: Nerubian Leg Armor. This sells nicely on the Auction House. You could also try to Emboss your legs for points using the Reinforcements instead. In fact, I would do it anyway, since the mats are easy to come by (especially if you've run any Dragonblight instances) and the result is an epic level enchant.

405-410: At this point I would recommend making your Dark pieces, as they are likely upgrades if you meet the requirements and can actually use leatherworking gear. Personally, I made my Dark Arctic Chestpiece and 2 sets of Dark Arctic Leggings, one for DPS and one for tanking. Make a couple more to sell (Dark Frostscale Leggings, Dark Iceborne Leggings, Dark Nerubian Leggings are the cheapest to make) and you should be set.

410-415: The only guaranteed points here are Fur Linings. Buying the Fur and reenchanting your bracers may be the most economical way to level at this point.

415-420: Pack of Endless Pockets. If you are revered with Kalu'ak, make yourself a Trapper's Traveling Pack.

420-425: At this point you should be able to learn some of the recipes sold by the Fur & Leather Trader in Dalaran. Learn the ones appropriate to your class and spec, make them, and emboss the bracers you just made. For example, I made the Eviscerator's Bindings, Facemask, and Chestguard (the shoulders weren't enough of an upgrade.) I then embossed the Bindings with +90 Stamina, as I use them for tanking. These items are pretty well sought after, so if you don't get any benefit, I would recommend buying one pattern and selling 5 of it. The Wristguards are the cheapset to make.

425 and further: At this point I would finish out the rest of your set, or make the epic leg armor kits. Again, chitin is pretty easy to come by, and Arctic Furs are common enough as to be fairly inexpensive on the AH. I would recommend making Frosthide Leg Armors and selling them. When you hit 440, you can learn any recipe currently in the game, so I wouldn't worry too much about hitting 450.

I had a guildie place an order for an entire set of Eviscerator's yesterday, which I'm happy to report got my Leatherworking to 433. Now I just need to finish my set (or at least the ones that are upgrades) and then start selling those armor kits!

The only bad thing is that all the fur you're using for crafting the kits can also be bought for more recipes.

That's all for now.