Archive for October, 2009

Calli2

My, you're a tall one!

As the more alert amongst you may have spotted already, the paid race change service that everyone and their tennis partner said would never happen… happened.  And I finally got to realise a long-held ambition…

CALLI IS A GNOME!

Let’s just count the good points.

1.  She’s a Gnome!
2.  5% more intellect, that’s 29,500 mana self buffed, friends and neighbours!  She’s one helluva smart gnome!
3.  She’s as cute as a button!
4.  Reaching your keys under the sofa has never been easier.
5.  Smaller target!
6.  Extra humiliation factor when she slaughters horde Tauren!
7.  She’s a Gnome!
8.  Groovy dance!
9.  Squeaks when hit in combat!

And now the bad points.

1.  No more human racials, might actually have to get a pvp trinket now.
2.  There is no 2!

Gnomegeddon, you better watch out, Larissa’s got competion now!

While we’re on the subject of race changes, Galadan’s had a complete makeover too.

Get yer coat, you've pulled.

Get yer coat, you've pulled.

Now there’s a fine figure of a Dwarf if ever you saw one.  The changes are more than skin deep, however.  Galadan has also changed spec.  After being Holy for five years, I finally gave up trying to heal 5 man instances on him effectively.  He’s a great Main Tank healer, but in any instance where the entire group takes damage at the same time, which is like, every frikkin’ instance in the game, trying to keep everyone alive was making him so stressed his hair fell out.  So Galadan has crossed to the Dark Side and is now lolret.  Or is that retlol?  And should it be capitalised?  I can never remember.

You may recall this post where Galadan dabbled briefly in the waters of Retribution Cove and Protection Bay, before hastily retreating to the calm and serene safety of Holy Valley.  Well that was before Wrath of the Lich King and the big changes to Retribution.  And let me tell you, Retribution is actually more interesting than watching paint dry now.  You can still pop a Seal, Judge, autoattack and go make some coffee while you wait for the bad guy to die, but that’s so 2005, darlings.  Yes, I know, late to the party again, so sue me.  I missed the Retribution train when it boarded at LOL Central early in Wrath, but that means I also missed the “To the ground, baby!” phase, and now that Ret seems to be nicely settled I thought rather than just retire Galadan completely until Paladin healing in 5 mans wasn’t so stressful, I’d have a go at Retribution.

And it rocks.

The best part is, in Wintergrasp, thanks to the utter carnage that Ret Pallies wreaked early in Wrath and despite my being completely inept where pvp is concerned, people see a ginger-bearded Dwarf Paladin with a massive two-hander running towards them,  screaming incoherently at the top of his lungs and they… run away.  Try it yourself, it’s hilarious.

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Pirates > Ninjas
It’s been another interesting week.  Sithica got to see Trial of the Crusader 10 man as a tank in a random PuG.  Yes, a PuG.  I’m still getting used to the idea of people doing Pickup Groups to the latest raid content and beating it, my Vanilla WoW heritage is showing.  I guess it’s true that 10 man ToC really isn’t anything to be scared of these days with the multitide of options available to people to gear up their characters.  Heck, Sithica went in there with the Tier 8.5 tank chest and Tier 9 tank shoulders and the last time she was in a raid was when Naxx 25 was still considered mildly challenging!  Anyway, ToC10 – not scary if you know your stuff and are geared even slightly appropriately.   But I digress, the raid group itself was pretty competent and the bosses dropped quite nicely despite my going into spanner mode on Twin Valkyr and forgetting to switch into Frost Presence.  I apologised profusely to the healers and they were fine with it, everyone had a laugh at my expense, it was that kind of group.

However.

We’ve all read stories of Ninja Master Looters.  I’ve seen warnings about certain individuals spammed in the trade channels, as I’m sure you all have.  In five years of playing I’ve never actually encountered it myself, until this ToC10 raid.  What actually happened was that Binding Light dropped from Faction Champions and the Raid Leader invited anyone interested to roll on it.  Note, that’s anyone interested.  The usual protocol on Hellscream EU is that you roll for the spec you’re raiding with first, if no-one wants the loot for main spec, offspec rolls are invited.  I’m absolutely fine with that, even if it means I never get any dps gear on my tanks, since they’re always, you know..  tanking.  But heck, that’s what badges are for.  Anyway, the point is that on this raid, anyone could roll on anything they could use.  Great.  Now my Deathknight isn’t interested in any healing trinket, obviously, but the Holy Paladin was, so he rolled and won.

Then the raid leader, a Resto Druid decides that it’s not a very good trinket for a Holy Paladin and since he “really really needed it” he took it for himself.

Whoah!  Hold on there, cowboy!  There was a minute of “Uh, didn’t the paladin win the roll?” type of comment but as the paladin, strangely enough, didn’t seem that bothered, everyone let it go and the raid continued.

Er..  http://www.wtf.com?  Alarm bells were very definitely now ringing.  I wanted to say something but you don’t want to be the lone voice of dissent when even the injured party doesn’t care about it, so I held my tongue and we continued.  Then we down Twin Valkyr and lo and behold, Reckoning drops.  The Hunter in the group immediately started jumping cartwheels, as well he should, it’s an amazing two-hander for a hunter.  It’s also significantly better than Sithica’s current two-hand dps weapon, even if the stats aren’t perfect for a Deathknight, they’re still pretty damn good for her Blood dps offspec, and so this being a raid where you can roll on any useful loot and “anyone can get loot if they win a fair roll” I roll on it too, as does the Retribution paladin and the Warrior Tank.  And I win the roll.  And all hell breaks loose.

“That’s not a tank weapon!”
“Well spotted, I don’t intend to use it for tanking.”
“It’s useless for a Deathknight!”
“You don’t play a Deathknight much, do you?”
“It’s better for the hunter, they need agility and you need strength!”
“Yes it is better for him but it’s not useless for me and he didn’t win the roll.”

And then the raid leader gives it to the Retribution paladin.  Who just happened to be his guildmate.  And who rolled lower than the hunter.  Apparently, Blood Deathknights don’t get any benefit from Agility but Retribution Paladins do.  Well I’d have been okay to pass the weapon to the Hunter because it’s clearly better itemised for him and nowhere near as big an upgrade for me as it was for him, but the Ret Pally?  No fucking way, José!  What rankled most was that this was clearly the kind of raid where you were only getting a drop if it wasn’t any use to the Leader and his cronies.  So since I had no desire to see myself screwed out of any tank loot because the Leader “really really needed it” for his Bear offspec or his Warrior mate, I left the raid and hearthed out.  Life’s too short to waste it with arguments over pixels, but my time is not there to be used to twink someone else’s mates.  Sorry, and bye.  The most bizarre thing about it all was except for the loot drama, they’d all been really nice raiders.  The mind boggles.

It doesn’t end there, of course.  I can’t get anything meaningful done for the next ten minutes as the Raid Leader and all his guildmates spam me with whispers either begging me to come back and tank the last boss or calling me a noob, ninja and loot whore.  Yes, apparently, I get screwed out of a winning loot roll because the Master Looters’ mate wants it, and that makes me a ninja.  Go figure.  So I switch to Calli for some peace and quiet and spend some time doing cooking dailies and working the Auction House.

An hour later, they’re still in /trade, looking for a tank for last boss ToC10.  I know I shouldn’t be laughing, but I’m mean, petty and vindictive like that.  Felt sorry for that hunter, though.

Twink My Alt
So it’s been ups and downs in ToC10 this week.  The call went out for any dps spare for a ToC10 consisting of the alts of players in our servers’ top raiding guild.  Two of our guys, including The Mighty Jingles, join the group to round out the numbers.  The group’s being led by the hunter alt of one of the other guild’s top warriors.  He’s known to have a “bit of an ego” but when you’re at the cutting edge of raid progression on a server you have something to brag about, and he’s never done me any harm so I tend to ignore any malicious gossip.  He, and the rest of his guild, all know their stuff, so this should be a cakewalk.

Oh dear.

Northrend Beasts was painful.  I mean it was just embarrassing.  Myself and the other rogue alt of one of our officers accounted for 75% of all damage to the snobolds on that fight.  Let me just stress, rogue alt.  Melee dps.  Melee dps who should have been stabbing Gormok in the ass while the ranged dps killed the snobolds.  But since The Mighty Jingles was the only ranged dps who seemed to be even aware of what snobolds were, he was forced to do something about it.

Three wipes in and still no bosses dead, I looked at the leaders’ gear, since he was being about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike as far as dps was concerned.  He only had a couple of blues, but the rest weren’t purple.  He was doing ToC10 in greens and quest rewards.  We decided at that point that discretion was the better form of valour, made our excuses and left.  I have no interest in running up a repair bill just so I can play “twink the alt” of someone who should really know better.

But this is not a failpug post!  After what feels like years of dutifully cracking open an Oracle egg every week, something great finally hatched!

drakeI just wish protodrakes weren’t so damn ugly!

And just to prove that not all Trial of the Crusader groups suck, Calli earned a couple of new achievements over the course of the last two weeks.

WoWScrnShot_092609_141257

You can’t win them all, but you can win the ones that matter.  Anything else is just life experience.

Faction Champions in Crusaders’ Coliseum gets a lot of bad press.  It’s essntially the Priestess Delrissa fight from Magisters’ Terrace, except on crack.  Are you “late to the party” guy and never did Magisters’ Terrace at level 70?  Okay, here’s how it goes.

Right after you defeat Lord Jarraxus, your opposing faction leader (Garrosh Hellscream in my case) starts acting like a spoiled brat who’s had his candy taken away and demands the raid should be forced to face his champions in the next encounter.  Tirion Fordring agrees to allow it if he’ll just stop being such an emo crybaby and shut the hell up.  And so you end up facing what is basically an Arena team of opposing faction players.  Except they’re not.

All flippancy aside, it’s pretty important that you remember this is not really a pvp fight.  This is where the majority of the crying about Faction Champions arises, and I was just as guilty as everyone else when I first had to do the fight.  See, I suck at pvp.  I mean, I really suck at pvp.  If being bad at pvp was a sport, I could represent my country at it.  So I read the patch notes about how you’d have to face a number of classes of any spec and how pvp diminishing returns on crowd control was in force.  Then I played the encounter and cried as my polymorph was dispelled by the opposing Priests, my fireballs were eaten by the Shamans’ grounding totems,  the Paladins bubbled and healed up when we got down to 15% and I got melee- trained and insta-gibbed by the Rogue and Arms Warrior.

Oh noes, Blizz am making me pvp in my pve contents! QQ!!

Well, no they’re not.  All they’re doing is making you think outside of your nice comfortable kill-the-raid-boss mindset.  This is not actually a bad thing.  Allow me to elaborate.

Yes, Faction Champions, in any flavour, is a lot like a pvp fight.  As already stated you have diminishing returns on all forms of crowd control, so your first polymorph will last a maximum of 10 seconds, then less each consecutive time you cast it on the same target until they very quickly become immune.  In practice, this is not an issue anyway, since the opposing priests and paladins dispel it as quickly as you apply it.  In that respect it’s exactly like a pvp fight, but there are differences and the differences are huge.

For a start, they’re all tauntable.  In the past this shared diminishing returns too, but that’s been removed in the latest build.  Taunting them doesn’t guarantee you aggro for ever, but once every 8 seconds you can get them to forget who they’re wailing on for a moment or two, so it’s nothing like pvp in that respect.  Next, all of your “oh shit” pve buttons work just fine, even if you don’t get the full duration out of them.  Fade will drop aggro, as will Mirror Image, Vanish, Feign Death, Invisibility and any other number of class skills.  You might get aggro back a few seconds later, but it gives you time to be somewhere else.  One other major difference that pissed me off immensely was that Counterspell’s magic school lockdown doesn’t work.  This may actually be the same in real pvp, I don’t know since I don’t do it.  But the sweet thing about Counterspell is that while it has the longest cooldown of any spell interrupt (24 seconds, fact fans) it has the sweetest side effect.   It locks out all spells from the same school as the interrupted spell for 8 seconds.  Imagine a Holy Paladin with their Holy spells shut down for 8 whole seconds.  You do not want to be that Holy Paladin.  Well sadly, in the Faction Champions fight, all Counterspell does is work as any other interrupt, except it’s on a 24 second cooldown.  Meh!

The one thing that Faction Champions does share with a pvp or Arena fight is that personal survivability is your problem, not your healers.  Faction Champions is the Olympic Medal Not Standing In The Fire contest.  You could have 2 tanks, 22 healers and you in the raid, and if you’re going to stand there looking pretty and continuing your nuke rotations when the melee train switches to you, you’re going to die anyway.  No healer will be able to keep your squishy butt in one piece if the Warrior/Rogue/Deathknight/Enhance Shaman/Ret Pally suddenly take an intimate interest in it.  Surviving is up to YOU.   Check Recount after one of your Champions wipes and look at the damage done to you.  I guarantee you that the opposing Mage, Shadow Priest and Warlock will all be doing far more damage than the melee classes combined.  But this damage is coming in relatively small chunks, it’s entirely manageable.  This is damage your healers can handle, whether that be through dispels or heals.  No-one should be dying from damage sustained from any of the casters unless you were low on health anyway from being battered by a melee class, and if that’s the case it was your own fault anyway.  Now look at the number of deaths on recount and see who got the killing blows.

Yep, the casters are doing the most damage, but the melee dps are the ones who are actually killing people.  If you just stand there while that Arms Warrior smacks you upside the head with a 15k Mortal Strike, you deserve to die.  And you will.  This is where we all need to get out of our nice comfortable raiders’ mindset and start thinking like an Arena team.  And I was quite frankly amazed at the number of tools I, even as a raid-specced Fire Mage, had to keep my squishy butt from getting…  well..  squished.  Let’s go through the numbers.

Ice Block.  Our old favourite.  Except in this fight, the Arms Warrior will remove it with Shattering Throw and the priests will Mass Dispel it.  Ice Block is your tool of last resort, never the first.

Mirror Image.  I want to marry this spell and have its babies.  Every mage, regardless of spec should be casting this as the fight starts, because the aggro drop works and it gives the Champions three other targets to choose from.  There’s a very good chance that if you start the fight with this spell you’ll have 30 uninterrupted seconds of pew pew on your focus target, and if he’s not dead in that time your raid failed, not you.  Note that the Mirror Images can be the focus of the Champions’ aggro, and this is a Good Thing.  Standing next to them when the Arms Warrior Bladestorms through them is a Bad Thing.  Cast it, move aside, begin the pew pew.

Frost Nova.  Another awesome spell that’s saved my ass more times than I care to remember on this fight, but as ever it’s highly situational.  Never use it when the Arms Warrior has Bladestorm up or the Rogue has Cloak of Shadows, all you succeed in doing is wasting a global cooldown and forcing yourself to wait to cast the Blink you should have cast.  Also, as in any pve situation, never, ever, ever cast Frost Nova when the mob you’re escaping from is standing next to anyone else, especially a healer.  All you’ll succeed in doing is forcing the mob to switch aggro to the closest target that they can hit, and insta-gibbing them.

Did we mention Blink?  If you have a Hunter on your team they should be laying a Frost Trap in the middle of the arena at all times.  Blink into it.  Even if the mob maintains aggro and follows you through the Blink, he’s going to run right into the Frost Trap and isn’t going to catch you in a hurry.  In that time, a tank can and should have taunted him off you anyway.  Try to save Blink for when the mob focussing you has immunity effects up and can’t be crowd controlled easily.

Invisibility.  Because it has such a long cooldown and takes so long (untalented) to activate, Invisibility is ideally used in one of two situations.  Either when everything else is on cooldown and the melee train is running for you or when it’s a wipe and you want to save yourself some repair bills.  Note that to get the most out of invisibility you should ideally be standing in the area of effect of your Hunters’ Frost Trap.  This makes the most of the few seconds it takes for Invisibility to kick in, just in case the enemy Rogue is trying to introduce you to the business end of Mister Pointy.

Polymorph.  As a crowd control effect this is almost useless in this fight, at least at the early stages.  If it lasts longer than 2 seconds before it gets grounded, dispelled or purged then you’re not playing the same fight I am.  However when all else is lost, you’re got a few seconds to spare and there’s an angry Arms Warrior bearing down on you, Polymorph can save your ass and give you time to run and your tanks time to taunt.  Bear in mind it will have no effect on a Bladestorming Arms Warrior.  Blink is always your friend in this case.

Slow.  Arcane mages only, this one.  But it’s a beauty.  If you have it, you’ll most likely be assigned to keep it up on one of the melee targets anyway, but since it’ll be getting dispelled quite often it isn’t going to make much difference if you use it to keep your ass alive and out of reach of the Retribution Paladin who’s chasing you down.  If it keeps you alive long enough for him to lose interest, it served its purpose.

Run Away.  Simple but highly effective, especially if your side have a Frost Trap or Earthbind Totem in play.

Note that all of these tricks aren’t going to be much use to you if the first indication you have that the melee train is arriving at You Station is when you start taking 15k Mortal Strikes.  The idea is to be reacting before you start getting beaten on and that can be handled in a couple of ways.

1.  Use Teamspeak/Ventrilo.  Have your two “tanks” enable Target of Target so they can see who their target is switching to and have them call it out.

2.  Use some sort of addon that alerts you when you have aggro.  I use X-Perl and it handles this as well as an incredible number of other things.  Very little grabs your attention like the word “AGGRO” across the middle of your screen as a PVE raider.  In most raids it’s usually the last thing you see before you die.  On Faction Champions it’s your cue to start getting creative.

3.  Pvp a lot.  There’s no better way to hone your sense of situational awareness.  On the plus side you’ll become a lot better at staying off the radar and at target switching if you take part in any kind of competent Arena play. 

Alternatively you could just do Faction Champions three or four times a week.  You’ll either get good at it or you’ll eat a lot of dirt.  As a Mage you’ve got a massive number of tricks up your sleeve to stay alive and continue doing damage that other classes would kill for.  Any Mage who dies early on in this fight simply wasn’t paying enough attention.  Dying in Faction Champions is always your problem, not your healers.

Welcome To The Suck

Posted: 2 October, 2009 in Mage, misc, Raiding, Rant, Warrior

One of the Hunters in our 25 man raid is a Dwarf named Rui.  He’s a good hunter, solid dps, doesn’t make a habit of standing in the Fire, never pulls aggro… in short, nothing like the guys who are the first to get squished by Vault of Archavon bosses when you’re bored and PuG it late on a Wednesday night.  Anyone who runs with a regular raid knows that there are always “characters” in those raids.  For example, we have an excellent healing paladin named Tinuviel, but she’s pretty much known as Afkviel for reasons that I hope are obvious from the nickname.  Rui is the guy who always disconnects.  His connection sucks harder than an industrial strength vacuum cleaner.  I think Hoover is his ISP or something.  It’s become something of a joke over time.

“Everyone buffed?”
“Yep.”
“Tanks ready?”
“Ready to go.”
“Rui disconnected yet?”
“Of course.”
“Ok, let’s get this show on the road, pulling in three…”

Well let me tell you, since patch 3.2.2, I’ve been Rui, and it’s not as funny in the flesh as it is from a distance.  For years, I’ve been the guy with the connection made from solid granite.  Never miss a raid, never go offline, always there.  After patch 3.2.2 rolled out, every time Gormok the Impaler so much as looks at me in a funny way, I get dumped out to the login screen and cannot reconnect as long as the fight is going on.  And then it takes 15 attempts to connect to a character in Dalaran.  And so it goes on.

Yesterday the daily cooking quest was Rhino Dogs and the daily fishing quest was the Ghostfish, both conveniently located in Sholozar Basin.  So I hearthed to Nesingwary Basecamp, flew over to Rainspeaker Canopy to pick up this weeks’ Oracle egg and went fishing.

I’m no expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure that your fishing bobber shouldn’t time out before you can see the fishing channeling bar appear.  And I’m also relatively certain that casting a line isn’t supposed to take fifteen seconds.  On a similar note, as a level 80 mage covered in 10 man Heroic and 25 man Crusader Coliseum gear with an average item level of 240, I shouldn’t be dying from the bleed of a level 76 non elite Rhino’s gore effect in the time it takes for me to get an Arcane Blast off.

There are (at latest time of checking) 32 pages of complaints on the US forums and 10 pages (in the busiest thread) on the EU forums about the instant disconnects people are suffering from Crusader Coliseum and the associated lag that plagues you afterwards.  There are no Blue solutions, but the cures suggested by the community range from clearing your dns cache (whatever the hell that is) to sacrificing a virgin to the Blood God at the next full moon.  Personally, I’ve tried everything bar reinstalling Warcraft, which is something I’m not going to do because the only difference between having a rock solid connection and one made of swiss cheese and spaghetti is that patch 3.2.2 rolled out.  And I’d not be exaggerating if I were to say I’m not best pleased with the state of affairs.

But the suckage doesn’t end there.  Usually, after being online for three hours or so, my latency will drop from 4500ms to something approaching playable and I can think about getting into a group to do something useful.  Last night we threw together an Onyxia raid for alts, and I came along to tank on my warrior, Gorn.  Now call me a bluff old traditionalist, but when the raid leader says “Gorn, you tank the boss, I’ll tank the adds”, I take that to mean that the raid leader is going to tank the adds.  I don’t take it to mean that I’m going to tank the boss, help him tank the whelps, tank the elite adds when they show and hope he’s not busy admiring his nails and is quick with a taunt when the last elite is up and the boss lands at the other end of the fucking instance, because apparently, that’s exactly what “You tank the boss, I tank the adds” does, in fact, mean.  Sadly, since my balls are made of flesh rather than Madame Eva’s finest crystal, I obviously interpreted the instructions the wrong way.  Silly me.  Entirely my fault obviously.

Well, we got her down on the second attempt and at least I got a new hat out of it.