I’d like to dedicate this post to the loving memory of my Power Supply Unit, who sadly passed away two days before Patch 3.3 rolled out, the inconsiderate bastard. The repair guys say it’s going to be anything up to 28 days before I get my PC back, but thankfully I have a pretty good gaming laptop and managed to get Rash of the Itch King installed in time for some Icecrown Asskicking.
I’m sure there are those amongst you who play WoW on a laptop all the time. I am not numbered amongst you. I have a massive beast of a PC with a huge monitor and a nice big clunky G15 keyboard. When I turn it on, lights flicker all down my street. WoW may work on a laptop, and to be fair to the laptop it plays WoW very smoothly, but I was in no way, shape or form ready for the experience. When Illidan told us we were not prepared he meant me personally.
First of all, when you install WoW on a new machine, all those little interface tweaks you messed around with and adjusted over the years? That’s right, gone. And I’m not just talking about addon settings, although those are bad enough. Suddenly my mouse is moving too quickly, my camera keeps adjusting itself at exactly the wrong moment, the laptop keyboard keys are too damn small and not where I expect them to be so I end up zigging when I should have been zagging, anyrhing i tupe in chaT COMes ouyt likew this and I’m getting a bad back from hunching over a 15″ widescreen laptop monitor trying to figure out what’s going on. And then we come to the addon nightmare.
I didn’t realise I didn’t have Decursive installed until after we pulled Lady Deathwhisper, which is a bad, BAD time to realise, let me assure you. I’ve become so used to using Decursive I don’t even have Remove Curse on my action bars any more. So yes, that pull resulted in a wipe. Luckily I’d installed Clique so could quickly assign Remove Curse and Polymorph to their respective keybinds and decurse/crowd control via my raid frames. Speaking of raid frames, I use X-Perl, which is great and after several years of tweaking to get it just the way I like it, does everything that I want my raid frames to do and much more besides. And I have no clue exactly what those settings were, but they definitely weren’t what I was playing with last night. That Rogue’s frame could have been flashing because he had suddenly developed an acute case of pants-on-head for all I know, but I had no idea what I was supposed to do about it.
Outfitter didn’t know what my Arcane Haste (914 haste, fact fans!), Arcane Crit, Fire Crit or Frostfire AoE gear sets were. Without Titan Panel I had no idea that my gear was getting worn out until that little paper doll guy with all the yellow and red armour started popping up. Scorchio and Miks’ Scrolling Battle Text both stubbornly refuse to tell me when Missile Barrage lights up and Scorchio in particular is hiding all its’ alerts under my chat window so I can’t see them anyway.
Woe Is Me
Sticking needles into my eyes would have been more fun than than doing a brand new raid in those circumstances. It’s fair to say it totally ruined Icecrown for me. I spent more time fighting my interface than the bosses, which is a shame because the Gunship battle in particular is probably a lot of fun. Well, it looks like a lot of fun if you’re melee. As a Mage all I do is toss damage spells at axe throwers and then light up boarding teams with Living Bombs and Flamestrikes. I may as well not have had a Jetpack on my back for all the difference it made. Bears with Jetpacks strapped to their asses are one of the funnuier things I’ve seen in WoW lately, though.
So my Icecrown raid experience can generally be categorised as one big massive “meh!” at best, certainly in the 10 man raid we did on Wednesday. By the time we raided the 25 man version last night I’d sorted out most of my interface woes. My addons were mostly correctly installed and sort of tweaked adequately to suit my preferences, although Scorchio’s still being a stroppy bitch about Missile Barrage and needs a good slap to let it know who’s boss. Overall, however, the 25 man raid was a lot more enjoyable, even though my dps still sucked as I struggled to get used to the mouse. On the bright side I hit Friendly with the Ashen Verdict and got a spanky new ring, the rather fabulous Ashen Band of Destruction. Lady Deathwhisper also dropped the Shoulders of Mercy Killing which finally pushed me over 3000 spellpower, and the Nibelung staff which no-one else wanted because, to be fair to it, it’s a bit crap. Less spellpower than my current mainhand/offhand combo, no hit, no crit, no haste. It’s actually a piece of junk that no caster in their right mind would spend precious dkp on, except for one thing. On cast there’s a chance you will summon your own fuck-off great big Vrykul bodyguard to kick arse for you.
How awesome is that?
Of course I won’t use it in any raid and I’m not even wasting enchant reagents to put a good enchant on it, but it was going to get disenchanted unless someone took it and you get a fuck-off great big Vrykul bodyguard to kick arse for you! With no internal cooldown, fact fans. You can have more than one of the buggers up at once. This mage does not allow such awesome-but-actually-useless items to be disenchanted without a fight! So now it’s mine and my Vrykul tag team blitzkreig will be steamrollering daily quests at an instance near you soon.
By contrast to the situational suckyness of the the 10 and 25 man raids, the three new 5 mans are some of the best content I’ve seen in this game, ever. I ran them in heroic on Calli via the new looking for group tool that everyone thinks is so bloody amazing. Well “everyone” apparently means “tanks and healers”, because let me assure you that if you’re a dps class, trying to get a group still sucks the salt off the donkeys’ balls. Eventually I did manage to get a group and zoned into the first instance, and despite a combination of my still struggling with my interface and the tank being a bit of a dick, I actually had a pretty good time. You know the kind of player who thinks that healers exist to run back after a wipe and rez his lazy arse? Yeah, that was the tank. Aluriel, Shinano, Galadan and Askara just love That Guy, because clearly my healers have nothing better to do with their time than corpse run just to be ready for when you get back from making coffee to ensure your instance experience is as seamless as possible. We live for that.
The new 5 mans are exceptionally well designed, I’m just not sure if the difficulty is tuned correctly on heroic. Given my interface woes and general addon suckiness it was hard to tell if we were sweating because it was hard or just underperforming because I sucked that night. But we did sweat, have no doubt of that. The group were all roughly at my gear level and we wiped twice on Frostmourne. That’s guys in level 245-258 gear wiping on 5 man dungeon content.
Let’s just examine the group in slightly more detail. First there was me, a very overgeared Mage who managed to put out an average of 5k dps over the course of the more forgiving 5 man environment despite addon woes. Then there was a highly competent and well geared Holy Paladin healer. The adequately competent Warrior Tank/Dick we’ve already covered, the 5k dps Shadow Priest and the 4-5k dps Deathknight. When we got to Frostmourne, the Shadow Priest had to become a backup healer because the Paladin just couldn’t cope with the incoming damage and the group wiped twice before completing the encounter. Between myself and the Deathknight we were so overgeared we were still pushing out more than enough dps to compensate for the lack of a third dps between waves, and we still wiped even with two healers.
I realise there could be all sorts of reasons for this. None of us could be accused of being experts on these fights yet, so we may have been making things harder for the tank and healer(s) than it needed to be. It might be yet another one of those fights that’s harder for a Paladin to heal than any other healing class. Maybe a shaman could faceroll all over their Chain Heal button with an afk macro throughout the fight, I don’t know. Or maybe there’s just an insane amount of incoming damage and the encounter’s going to get nerfed pretty soon. All I know is that I ran the same instances the following night on my Deathknight with a guild group with less dps but a better tank and a healer who could heal more than two people at once and we still wiped once at the exact same spot.
It was a lot of fun though! My personal favourites were running the gaunlet through the ice tunnel en route to Tyrannus, clearing bad guys and trying to avoid falling ice blocks, kinda like Hodir on crack; and the reverse gauntlet running away from the Lich King while escaping the Halls of Reflection. 10 out of 10 to the encounter designers who had Sindragosa nuke your support team after defeating Tyrannus, except all the gnome mage npcs who avoided death by popping Ice Block! 100% pure win and covered in awesome sauce. Yeah, fuck you, Sindragosa, don’t mess with the mages!
The loot gods were laughing their asses off all night, of course. In my guild run we had a Warrior tank with such good gear he didn’t need anything that even dreamed of dropping in any 5 man dungeon. A Priest healer with 25 man Coliseum gear who might need some drops for dps, a Rogue who did over 5k dps unbuffed in his sleep and then my nabby Deathknight and another guildie’s noob Fury Warrior alt and everything that dropped all night was either mail or had spellpower all over it.
But I digress. Nice work to Blizzard for three new instances with new encounter mechanics, cool loot, amazing architecture and hard boss fights. They’re going to get nerfed I promise you, but in the meantime there are three heroic dungeons you can’t faceroll your way through with superior gear, and I’ve not seen that since Magisters’ Terrace.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the All-Star Summoned Vrykul Tag Team Blitzkrieg has some pressing business in Northrend…