Archive for November, 2010

Out of My Element

Posted: 20 November, 2010 in Cataclysm, Dungeons

Something very strange happened to me in a PuG this week.  Like many of you I’ve been farming the Elemental bosses in an effort to round out those last few slots on my alts that aren’t already dripping with level 251 or better gear.  The whole process has been very scary considering that this is the prelude to Cataclysm, and if it’s any indication of how random dungeon groups in Cataclysm are going to pan out we’re all in very deep shit indeed.

About half the time, things go pretty smoothly, although mostly through brute force and ignorance rather than actual judgement.  Let’s run a few examples up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Grand Ambassador Flamelash has a few adds paying homage to him.  If your tank is a Deathknight, the best tactic is to drop a Death and Decay down in front of you and Death Grip the leader into it.  The rest of the adds will run in and you can take care of them safely and easily before pulling the boss himself.  A Warrior can Heroic Throw the leader with the talented Silence that comes with it to achieve similar results.  Everyone else has to wait 15 seconds for them to finish talking and they’ll come to you anyway.  So, hands up anyone who’s been in a group where the tank just runs right in and takes the lot of them with the boss at the same time?  Yeah, pretty much everyone reading this.  Half the time it works because we mostly completely overgear the encounter, but on those occasions when we don’t, and if you add in the factor that even after six years of World of Warcraft there are still people out there who don’t understand that Fire is hot, things can get messy.  And trust me, it’s a LONG walk back from the Graveyard at Thorium Point to the Blackrock Depths entrance.  Most people these days don’t even know where the entrance is.  I’ve been farming Flamelash with Galadan for the strength neck to round out his Retribution set and on more than one occasion he’s ended up having to keep the Tank up with Word of Glory and some judicious Flashes of Light because the healer didn’t understand that standing in Fire burns.

Crown Princess Theredras comes with similar tribulations.  The two Earth Elementals guarding her can be pulled distinctly from the boss and doing so makes the fight largely trivial.  But no, that would be too easy.  Hands up anyone who wiped because the tank (or some dumbass dps) pulled them with the boss included?  Yeah, thats a lot of hands.  While we’re doing a headcount, any healers out there who find Theredras to be particularly troublesome to heal?  Yeah that would be because of the frontal aoe that she does.  The one that everyone stands in because they’re too dumb or overconfident to move their stupid arses out of.

Moving on to Prince Sarsarun, the fight’s probably the easiest one out there if you just remember one thing, one thing that’s common to almost every boss fight in the game – Don’t Stand In Bad Shit.  Seriously, this is not rocket science.  You don’t even need Boss Mods for these fights, if there’s something there once the fight starts that wasn’t there before and it either appears under you or starts chasing after you once it spawns, be somewhere else.  This is not hard.  Let’s hear it from all the healers who weep in frustration at the dipshit dps who just stand there rolling their faces over their keyboards while the same vortex on Prince Sarsarun knocks them into the air over and over and over again?

And finally, we move onto Kai’ju Gahz’rilla.  A frustrating fight to tank due to the Freezes that she does, but again, very simple if you remember three rules that should be so obvious at this stage of the game that they shouldn’t need repeating.  First our old favourite – Don’t Stand In Bad Shit.  Seriously, how hard can it be to move away from a spiky mass of Ice that gets fired at you?   You even get an aggro warning with it, what more do you need, a telegram from the Boss with written instructions?  Secondly, Ye Shall Not Stand In Front Of A Boss With A Breath Attack Unless Thou Art The Tank.  Thirdly, and probably most importantly on this particular fight, Thou Shalt Interrupt Any Special Casts The Boss Does.  Especially if the cast concerned heals the boss to 90% if you don’t interrupt it.  The spellcast in question here has a 3 second cast time! You could read a book in the time it takes for her to get that spell off.  But apparently you can’t click an interrupt that’s off the Global Cooldown already anyway.

None of the above is advanced raiding technique, it’s all pretty basic stuff.  Take into account that the people failboating on these Elemental bosses are the people you’re going to be pugging with on the way to and at 85 where things are going to be a whole lot less forgiving of fuckwittery and it paints a very glum picture indeed.  Which is what makes the whole guild advancement system suddenly appear a whole lot more attractive.

If you needed any incentive beyond the obvious “unlock some really cool perks for your guild” that comes with doing instances with your guildmates, then the tales of horror given above should be more than enough.  I don’t believe that Guild Advancement is going to sound the deathknell for random pugs, but it’s going to give it a serious kick in the happy sacks.  If you’re not already in a stable guild with people you can instance with who don’t breathe through their mouths, your levelling and instancing experience on the way to 85 is likely to be pretty grim.  However, I did say at the start of the post that that something strange happened to me this week, and it’s not the failboating that I’ve related above.  That’s not strange, that’s par for the course.  If I’d not been pugging the Elemental Bosses I’d not have met the 100% awesome Smacker from the Shadowsong server.

I was doing Flamelash on Sithica for the aforementioned Flamelash Amulet and disconnected right on the pull.  When I managed to log back in, I was lying face down dead with the boss in a similarly inconvenienced state not far from me.  The rest of the group had all bailed out except for the healer, a holy paladin named Smacker.  Seeing me log back in he did the first unusual thing, he actually started to resurrect me.  At first I thought he’d sat around waiting for me to log back just for this purpose, which would have been mind-boggling in a pug, but no, he wasn’t quite THAT awesome.  After the rez I thanked him and took a look at the boss.  Yep, the amulet had dropped and of course, I’d missed the roll for it.  It turns out he was waiting for the loot roll to time out so he could loot it, since he’d won the roll in my absence for his offspec.  I congratulated him on his good luck and /waved as I prepared to leave the instance, when he asked if I needed it.

Yeah, you read that right.

Two seconds later a trade window popped up and the Amulet was in my bags.  Unasked for, unsolicited, just out of the goodness of his heart.  So if you’re on the Shadowsong server, send Smacker a whisper telling him what a great guy he is.

In other news, I had an amusing conversation with a GM this week.  Dingles had suffered an ignoble death in the Storm Peaks due to failing to realise that a) dismounting while 200 feet in the air is never a good idea b) failing to remember what Slow Fall was bound to and c) failing to remember to use her parachute cloak.  Anyway, a lot of fail in a very petite package, resulting in a small but perfectly formed crater in the Valley of Endless Winter.  Now those of us who’ve died in the Storm Peaks will understand that it’s not the most friendly of zones for those without a flying mount and for some reason she ended up on foot at the spirit healer.  That was bug #1.   Bug#2 was that her body didn’t appear on the minimap.  Bug#3 was that when she evenutally found her body, the resurrect button stopped working, and bug#4 was that the Return to Graveyard button failed.

So faced with the prospect of being forced to haunt Dun Niffelim forever, I logged a ticket, and got a pretty swift GM response:

Gotta love a GM with a sense of humour!  Speaking of which, the following gem popped up in trade chat this week.  Take a close look at the name of the guy looking for a rich guild to join…

See you next time!

And The Winner Is…

Posted: 12 November, 2010 in misc, Wrath of the Lich King

So Wrath of the Lich King is all over bar the snoring, time for a retrospective about the great and the not so great in the latest expansion before we all scuttle back to the Old World just in time for it to get the painters in.

Best Class – Druids
Mage flavour of the month spec changed so often in Wrath their gear was always playing catchup with whatever stats your spec of the week demanded.  Hi mages, welcome to Naxx, you’re going to be a Hybrid Elementalist Frostfire spec here.  Stack lots of crit now.  Oh, welcome to ToC.  Yeah, it’s all about the Arcane here.  Hope you stacked haste.  Oh you’re still Frostfire?  Really?  Do try to keep up.  And here we are in Icecrown, I really hope you picked a decent Fireball spec.  Except halfway through Icecrown you’re going to want to go Arcane again, oh and keep a Fire AoE offpsec for trashpacks.

Druids on the other hand, well I can’t speak for Ferals but Resto druids started off strong and just kept going.  Remember how everyone was terrified of Heroic Halls of Reflection when it was first released?  Speaking from experience, I was scared of the place on Aluriel, my Disc Priest; wasn’t overly fond of healing the place on Askara, my Resto shaman, but could generally get through it well enough; and wouldn’t go near the place for a million gold and a night of sexytime with Tyrande Whisperwind on Galadan, my Holy Paladin.  On Shinano, however, there wasn’t a thing in there she couldn’t handle.  She could remove the curses, abolish the poisons, blanket the group with HoTs to cope with being Ice Trapped, battle-rez a dead player in a weak group to keep fighting through the gauntlet, apply reliable crowd control with Entangling Roots that even a Deathknight would have a hard breaking with splash damage…  You name it, a Resto druid had a tool to counter everything that Halls Of Reflection threw at you.  And as for Balance druids, well who doesn’t like doing 68,000 dps on aoe trash packs in Icecrown Citadel?  Improved Faerie Fire was the best caster debuff in the game and Typoon was beloved by anyone and everyone who had to kill Blood Beasts on Saurfang.  Flexibility has always been the hallmark of the Druid class from day one, and in Wrath of the Lich King they, in my opinion at least, really had their day in the sun.

Worst Class – Warlocks
Because this is a Mage blog so they smell of pee and have no friends.

Best Raid Instance – Ulduar
Where do we start?  The first raid to introduce Hard Modes that actually meant something, changed the encounter design (hi there XT and Council of Iron) and rewarded better loot instead of just another ten meaningless epeen points.  Amazing architecture, genuinely hard bosses (I’m looking at you, Mimiron and Yogg) that are still challenging done on hard mode two tiers of content later and a mass of encounters with rich and varied design that ensured you never got bored.  And it had its own train.  ITS OWN TRAIN!

Worst Raid Instance – Trial of the Crusader
ToC’s open tonight guys!  Today’s raid is going to start at the Argent Tournament, everone make your way there.
5 minutes later…
Ok folks, we’re not really sure how this one’s going to work, but there are going to be some Beasts and we have to defeat them one after the other, make sure your Boss Mods are up to date, everyone ready?
5 minutes later…
Is that it?  Really?  When do we get the second boss?  HOW long?  Ok.  Well… back to Ulduar, I guess.  At least it’s close…

Best NPC – Lafoo of the Oracles
Tough call this one.  Any of the Sholozar Basin companion npcs could have clinched it, but Lafoo’s charmingly puppy-like enthusiasm for everything wins it for me.
“Crunchy bugs so delicious!  Want?”
“You have pie?  Someone give us pie year ago.  Really yummy.”
“Ooh, shinies!”
“Dig, dig, dig!”
“You got funny looking eyeballs.”
“Big comfy tree.  Make good home.”

Worst NPC – Jaina Proudmore
Tirion Fordring was in the running for this.  He had one of the best questlines in vanilla WoW, started off awesome in Wrath at the Battle of Lights Hope and just got better as the expansion went on and he laid the smack down on the Lich Kings Frozen heart at the Cathedral of Darkness.  But then we got the Argent Tournament…  Oh dear.  Because stopping at the Rhine and flying the Engineering Corps two hundred miles behind German lines to build a sports stadium half an hour from Berlin is exactly how we won the Second World War, isn’t it?  And the Trial of the Crusader…  I’d stop there but then we had the final confrontation with The Lich King in Icecrown Citadel where he talks smack for a minute and then spends the rest of the fight in an Ice Trap because he couldn’t remember how to cast Hand of Freedom.  Tirion would have been a shoo-in if not for Jaina Proudmore, who’s so useless she makes the Glyph of Kilrogg look like a Prime Glyph candidate.

Seriously woman, you were awesome once.  Stop your crying and get over yourself.  No, he never loved you.  Deal with it.  What, are you still fifteen or something?  Oh, and get your facts straight, Wrynn isn’t your King, never was and unless he invades Theramore, never will be.  And please try to stop getting everyone around you killed, there’s a reason why everyone would rather take the deserter debuff than join your group.

Best Questline – A Hero’s Burden
I’ll be the first to admit that there are many other quests in Wrath that are worthy of this one.  The whole Loken/Thorim/Sons of Hodir quest is pretty epic.  Crusader Bridenbrad, even though I’ve given him crap in the past, always leaves a lump in my throat when the Naaru arrive to take him to paradise.  The Wrathgate/Battle for Undercity quest is right up there, too, as is the Brann/Muradin Bronzebeard reveal.  They’re all fine quests, rich in lore and storytelling.   But while A Hero’s Burden isn’t particularly epic, the rewards are pretty pedestrian and there isn’t a whole lot of lore involved, it’s got one thing that never fails to move me.

You and Moodle are at the Mosswalker Village, trying to find survivors of the Scourge attack.  There are dead and dying Mosswalkers everywhere being tormented by the Scourge.  The Mosswalkers, like all of the Gorlocs, are a simple, innocent people, and they just can’t understand what they did to bring the Scourge down upon them.  Didn’t they give enough shinies to the Great Ones?  The truth, of course, is that you can live as honest and upstanding a life as you want and it doesn’t mean squat when someone bigger and nastier comes along and stomps all over your beliefs.  But the Mosswalkers still cling to their faith in the Great Ones, asking you not to save them, but to save their shinies for the Shrine before they die.  Moodle, the smartest and most sarcastic of the Sholozar companion npcs, for once has nothing witty to say.
“The Mosswalkers were good people… they did not deserve this.

Worst Questline – Um…
For once I’m stumped.  Sure, there were some pretty pedestrian quests in this expansion, there’s always going to be some filler content.  But even the filler content gets a sly nod from Blizzard.  Look at the Take Their Rear quest in Grizzly Hills.  I, and I’ve no doubt many others, regularly moan about the pointless “kill x of these/collect y of these” quests that are a staple of MMO grinding.  There’s even a sarcastic meme evolved to describe them, the “Collect 10 bears’ asses” quests.  Well in this quest, that’s exactly what you do.  Gotta hand it to Blizzard, this is a boring quest, no question about it, but they know it and they create it as a nod to boring quests.  It’s all getting very meta all of a sudden.

Wrath had its ups and downs, but after playing a Mage in The Burning Crusade I can’t be anything other than pleased with this expansion.  Heck, I liked it so much I’m levelling a second Mage to 80!  I’m sure there’s stuff I’ve missed in this roundup, and I’m equally sure you’re going to disagree with many or all of my choices.  Except worst class, obviously.  Warlocks smell of wee.  Fact.

Let me know in the comments!

My, You’re A Tall One!

Posted: 7 November, 2010 in levelling, Mage


My, but they grow up fast, don’t they?  Dingles is now level 71 and unleashed upon Northrend.  Total time played, 5 days, no heirloom gear.  She was level 67 before she’d even completed Zangarmarsh, and this is after heading to Outland at 58.  That’s nine levels completed in Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh alone.  A quick trip to Nagrand for the Ring of Blood at level 65 and to do the Hemet Nesingwary questline for a rather spiffing wand, and then she cooled her heels in Terrokar Forest for the hour it took her to ding level 68 and headed straight to Howling Fjord.

That’s where it started to get tougher.  Seriously, an Arcane Mage at level 58 in Hellfire Peninsula pretty much two-shots everything that has the balls to get in her way.  This pattern continued all through Outland.  Once you reach Northrend, however, things get a little more challenging.  Of course, if you’ve planned ahead and arranged a trip to Dalaran to get Cold Weather Flying so you can take advantage of one of these…


I brake for NO-ONE!

Then yes, things are a little easier going.  If you don’t have Cold Weather flying, I’d highly recommend Borean Tundra over Howling Fjord.  At least at the Tundra you don’t have to fight your way through a village of murderous Vrykul every single time you want to get to a quest giver.  But…  well I say things got a little more challenging in Northrend, and that’s technically true.  Dingles often had to cast a third spell to kill stuff.  But there’s challenging and then there’s challenging.  Doing the Argent Dawn quests in Eastern and Western Plaguelands at the early 50s in Vanilla was challenging.  Doing Stratholme in blues at 60 was challenging.  Levelling a character to 80 these days…  is not.

But at least the npcs have a sense of humour about it…



Of course, the benefit of having two accounts is that you can effectively boost yourself through instances.  The screenshot taken above was from the Slave Pens, where I played Galadan with Dingles running around after Keelahselai on auto-follow.  A couple of days ago I had Gorn run Dingles through Utgarde Keep.  I’m planning on doing a Nexus run today.  It’s surprising how smoothly you can do it, too.  Both instances of the game ran very well on my PC, which is over two years old.  Having two of your characters meet each other in Dalaran on a weekend night is another story, however…


The Royal Bank of Calli's first annual shareholders meeting

Dingles took advantage of the lag to dodge questions about where the 5000g from the guildbank went.  I refer you to picture #1 at the top.

Oh, and Engineering?  Best.  Tradeskill.  Ever.  Why did no-one tell me?  In one more level (72), Dingles is getting a level 200 epic hat.  She shoots guided missiles out of her fingertips and has rockets in her boots.  Yes, I know the Hyperspeed Accellerators are technically better than the Hand-Mounted Pyro Rockets, but come on!  SHE SHOOTS ROCKETS OUT OF HER FINGERTIPS!  Get with the programme!

So I’m off to get her to 72 asap so she can try on her new epic hat.  It’s off to Borean Tundra I go, and woe betide anything that gets in her way.  Mess with the gnome, you get the Gyrochromatic Hydrospanner!


P.S.  If you’re an engineer, there’s an Auction House in Dalaran!