Archive for the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ Category

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!


A while ago I was in an Icecrown 25 man PuG on Shinano, specced as Laser Chicken since they were full on healers.  It was a pretty good raid and when we downed The Gunship and the loot was linked.  Gunship Captain’s Mittens dropped.  Since Shinano was in need of more hit rating and she was having to use her Tier 10 Resto gloves for her Boomkin set, I rolled.  And I won the roll.  And then the Master Looter said:

You can’t have those, they’re cloth.

I’m pretty sure you’re going to find I can have those.  Cloth and Leather are the only two things I can wear.

Priests, Mages and Warlocks have priority on cloth gear, you’re a Druid.

Well that’s lovely but you do you think next time you could maybe say that before I agree to join your raid?

I’ve heard of this sort of thing before, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it happen, let alone been on the receiving end of it.  Now doubtless some of you cloth wearers are sitting there reading this and thinking “Damn right, too!” It’s okay, I know where you’re coming from, I play a Mage, remember.  (And a priest and a warlock)  Dps casters have to compete a lot more for their gear than any other role.  A Mage, for example, has to compete not only against other Mages, but also against Warlocks and all three varieties of Priest for their armour.  Any weapons a Mage can use (Staves, Daggers and Swords) are going to be rolled on by Resto Druids, Balance Druids, Elemental Shamans, Resto Shamans, Warlocks, all three flavours of Priest and Holy Paladins.  Trinkets, rings and necklaces are the same.  By contrast a Warrior, Paladin or Deathknight tank is probably going to find two other people at the most rolling on gear they want for their role, more than that for weapons if you’re a Deathknight; and A Feral Druid tank has to compete against Rogues and other Druids for their armour and also against Hunters for some of their weapons.  And this is just assuming we stick to class armour limitations.  Open it up to whoever can equip what, and the three cloth classes suddenly find themselves competing not just against each other for gear but also against Resto Druids, Balance Druids, Resto Shamans, Elemental Shamans and Holy Paladins as well as the classes that are limited to cloth armour.  Grossly unfair right?

I used to think exactly the same way until an Elemental Shaman friend pointed something out to me.  We can all agree that every dps caster needs Hit Rating to be effective at their role.  Let’s just browse the list of caster mail armour in Icecrown that comes with +hit.


And that’s it.  Now for the leather caster armour that comes with +hit.


Yes, that’s right.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Elemental Shamans and Balance Druids, assuming they are forced to stick to their own armour class, have ZERO +hit rating available to them.  All that +hit needs to come from necklaces, trinkets, rings and weapons.  It’s possible to get yourself hit capped by wearing no armour that has any hit rating on it, but it’s possible for any class to do so.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the smart or fair way to do it.  If the Warlocks, Shadow Priests and Mages were suddenly told they weren’t allowed to roll on any armour that had Hit Rating on it there would be uproar, and quite right too because they need a certain amount of hit rating to do their jobs.  News flash, so do Balance Druids and Elemental Shamans, and it’s not their fault that Blizzard put zero hit rating on “their” armour.  Even the Elemental Tier 10 Armour set, a set that is specifically designed for Elemental Shamans, has only two pieces with any +hit on it.

This is not the fault of the Druids and the Shamans.  They would dearly love to be wearing “proper” mail and leather armour.  It’s not their fault that the caster gear that is “their” armour comes loaded with mana per 5, too much crit and not enough haste.  It’s not their fault that the best in slot belt for almost every class with a mana bar is the Crushing Coldwraith Belt, a piece of cloth armour.  If you want to blame somebody, blame Blizzard, because duh…  it’s Blizzards’ fault.  These guys are trying to improve their gear, and it’s not their fault that their gear is your armour class.  It’s shitty itemisation, it sucks for everyone and it causes all sorts of problems but it’s not their fault.

Of course there’s a flipside to all this.  I’m talking here about things like Holy Paladins or Resto Druids rolling against dps casters for weapons with Hit Rating because “it has more spellpower than what I’m using”.  And yes, I’ve seen this happen, and I’ve seen them get away with it.  Of course if no-one else who can actually use all the stats on the item wants it, then go for it.  But if a dps caster needs it and they still roll against them they are retarded and the players concerned need to be smacked in the face with tyre irons right nowWhispering Fanged Skull has more Crit Rating than Muradin’s SpyglassAlthor’s Abacus has a ton of lovely spellpower on it that would be quite useful, but I don’t roll on Althor’s Abacus because I’m not a healer and I don’t roll on Whispering Fanged Skull because I’m not a fucking retard.  Yet when a Resto Druid rolls against a Shadow Priest for Sister Svalna’s Aether Staff because they’re still using a Mace from Trial of the Crusader, that Resto Druid needs two things:

1.  Commiserations on being so unlucky that a proper healer weapon hasn’t dropped for them yet.
2. A good kick in the nuts for being so stupid and greedy that they’d roll on a weapon with a stat that’s 100% completely useless to them against someone for whom it’s 100% useful.

And if you let them get away with it you need a good kick in the nuts too.  Or in the tits if you’re female, whatever.  And if that person then suffers an outbreak of nerdrage and quits your group because you refused to allow them to be a moron, well you just lost a moron.  That’s never a bad thing.

Oh and Gorn got a new mount.

He had this to say on the subject:


You Cannot Be Serious

Posted: 20 August, 2010 in Rant, Wrath of the Lich King

I’m busy grinding out Loremaster on Gorn, it’s something to do while on summer leave anyway.  So I’m farming all the newish quests in Dustwallow Marsh and get onto the conclusion of the Defias quest chain that revolved around King Varian Wrynn being kidnapped by the Defias as he travelled to Theramore for a secret meeting with Thrall, brokered by Lady Jaina Proudmore.  Time for a quick history lesson…

Back in the good old days, there was no King in Stormwind.  King Varian was missing, and Prince Anduin Wrynn was being fostered by Lady Katrana Prestor while Lord Bolvar Fordragon was Regent of the Kingdom in the Kings’ absence (which explains why Varian’s so incredibly pissed at the Horde when Bolvar is betrayed and apparently killed at the Wrathgate, the guy took care of Varian’s son after all!).  An extremely long and amazing quest line had you discovering a Stormwind Marshal imprisoned in Blackrock Depths, a Marshal who had vital information about the Kings’ disappearance and the true power behind the throne in Stormwind.  Once you’d freed Marshal Windsor from prison, you escorted him to Stormwind, exposed Lady Prestor as none other than Onyxia herself, and embarked upon another epic questline that culminated in and attack on Onyxia’s Lair and the defeat of the Brood Mother of the Black Dragonflight herself.  It was truly epic stuff.

Of course, you can’t do the quest anymore because King Varian is back from his imprisonment on Alcaz Island and his time as a gladiator in the horde arenas.  So now when you do the Defias quests in Dustwallow, you end up with a flyby scouting of Alcaz Island and when you hand in to Jaina Proudmore she babbles on for a minute about how it’s all okay now because King Varian escaped from Onyxia’s evil clutches, returned to Stormwind, exposed Lady Prestor and slew Onyxia.

Er..  no he didn’t, I did!  I have the screenshots to prove it!

What the hell are you babbling about, woman?

This has pissed me off more than it has any right to.  Not just because I worked hard to complete that awesome questline (on 9 characters!), not just because Blizzard slapped such a godawful and hasty conclusion onto the end of it in Theramore which pretended I never existed, but mostly because they’ve turned Jaina Proudmore into a blithering idiot.  Again.

Believe it or not, she actually used to be cool.  People were actually in awe when they zoned into the Mount Hyjal raid instance and realised they’d be fighting with the legendary Jaina Proudmore at their side.  In Wrath of the Lich King she’s turned into a love-struck moron who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat and can’t even get basic facts right.

After you defeat Deathbringer Saurfang in Icecrown Citadel (if you’re Alliance) , King Varian and Lady Jaina appear to grant Saurfang the Elder access to retrieve his son’s body.  At which point Jaina bursts into tears (again) and blubbers about how she’s so proud of her King.  Er..  he’s not your King you silly cow!  You are the daughter of the ruler of Kul’Tiras, not Stormwind.  And you rule the Island of Theramore, which is not part of Stormwind either.  And don’t get me started about her mooning over Arthas and getting everyone around her killed every time we clap eyes on her.  Most disturbing of all, she’s still wailing about how Arthas is just misunderstood and loves her really while he’s beating her to death with a Runesword! Miss Proudmore, get help.  Now.

There’s a lot of this about in Wrath.  Revered lore figures who kicked major butt in vanilla wow have become laughing stocks.  Are the Night Elves even involved in Icecrown?  I’ve not seen Tyrande Whisperwind or Fangdral Staghelm since I was doing the Ahn’Quiraj quests at level 60.  At least Magni and the brothers Bronzebeard are getting stuck in, even if they reduced poor Muradin to yet another Varian Wrynn lackey.  “Right away yer Majesty!”  he says in Icecrown as Varian barks orders.  Muradin, grow a pair, please.  You’re the King of the Frostborn and Wrynn’s in YOUR house now.  And look at poor Tirion Fordring.  It all started so well with some major buttkicking at the Battle of Lights’ Hope Chapel and the Cathedral of Darkness, then by the time we reach the end of the expansion he’s nothing more than a pimp for the Entertainment Sports Network who doesn’t remember he got Hand of Freedom sixty-two levels earlier until after the Lich King has wiped the floor with his champions.

At least they didn’t fuck with Bolvar.  He’s still a badass.  Mostly dead and almost certainly consumed by hatred and evil, but you still wouldn’t spill his pint and get away with it.


Posted: 17 August, 2010 in Cataclysm, levelling, Mage, misc, Wrath of the Lich King

So it appears that Arcane Intellect is going to be changed in the next expansion, no big surprise there, pretty much everything’s changing.  Right now it provides (at max rank) a static buff of 60 points to your intellect.  Since intellect is going to translate directly to both spellpower and mana, it’s being changed to simply add to your mana pool .  People are complaining about this.  “It’s Arcane Intellect”, they say.  “Not Arcane Mana.  It’s our signature buff, don’t mess with it!”

Really?  They’re taking Tree form away from druids and this is something that’s worthy of complaint?  Standby for a newsflash my fellow mages, because the following is absolutely 100% true and a lot of you probably don’t realise it.

Arcane Intellect is shit.

“How can you say that, Calli?”  Well I’m glad you asked, allow me to elucidate.  Fire specced and fully raid buffed Calli has 30484 mana.  Take away Arcane Intellect and she has the massive total of 30348 mana.  Wait…  what?  Intellect is supposed to give 60 Intellect, that’s worth more than 136 mana!  So perhaps it’s being partially overwritten by some other buff?  And in fact it is, with Gift of the Wild being the culprit.  If you have Gift of the Wild, Arcane/Dalaran Intellect gives you something like….  wait for it….  9 intellect.  Don’t even get me started about Blessing of Kings, which scales with your gear so only gets better as time goes by.  Yes folks, Arcane Intellect really is the shittiest buff ever.  They can do what they like with it in Cataclysm, they’d have to work real hard to make it worse than it already is.

Speaking of the expansion, I note with some dismay that Blizzard are increasing the health and damage output of the mobs in the 80-85 levelling areas.  By a lot.  I’m not really sure how to feel about this.  Part of me is pissed off because I didn’t work through heroic 25 man Icecrown content in order to gear up to the extent that I still have to run away from packs of fucking kobolds when I’m levelling to 85.  The average mob in Icecrown has 12k health, give or take.  That’s one Fireball crit or a non crit and a Fire Blast.  Boom.  Dead.  And so it damn well should be!  I’ve slain the Lich King for fucks’ sake!  I solo Threat From Above, wearing a dress!  But no, I’ll be hitching up my skirts and running for my life if I aggro more than two Murlocs again pretty soon.  When Tirion Fordring was recruiting for the Argent Crusade, all he needed to do was pop down to Elwynn Forest and recruit this guy.

I eat Icecrown Raiders for breakfast, and I'm very hungry!

And yet, you can see it from the opposite side too.  Back when The Burning Crusade was released, very few people were wearing raid gear.  I was lucky enough to be sporting full Mage Tier 2, and didn’t feel the need to replace any of it until I reached about level 68.  The vast majority of players were still overwhelmingly geared in blues and greens, so I was two tiers of content ahead.  The normal world mobs in Wrath are scaled to be competitive for players in level 80 quest rewards.  That was four tiers of content ago.  World mobs in Wrath are scaled to be defeated by players in gear that no-one is wearing for more than a week these days.  Everyone is wearing raid gear.  It’s a completely different ballgame to when I was levelling to 70 in gear that was only available to maybe 5% of my server population.  Or when I was levelling to 80 in Tier 6 gear that was acceptable for entry into the first Tier of Naxxramas raid content!  So in order to provide some kind of meaningful content, the levelling zones in Cataclysm are being populated with mobs that are going to hit twice as hard and have twice as much health as world mobs in current level 80 zones, because pretty much everyone is now sporting at least Tier 9 raid gear in most slots.

Or in other words, we’re all going to be running away from kobolds again.  Meh!

On a lighter note, we’re plugging away at Glory of the Icecrown Raider to pass the time before the expansion hits, there are still of couple of us who don’t have our Drakes, so last night we were at Sindragosa doing All You Can Eat once again.  Our glorious raid leader has just finished ranting at us to switch our brains on and try to stay awake, and perhaps three seconds later a very large and pissed off cleaving and frost-breathing undead dragon turns around and faces the raid.  We hear an “Oops” on Teamspeak.  “Taunted by accident” he says and I had to chew on my fist to stop laughing.  I shouldn’t get too smug, however, on the very same attempt my combat log crapped out and I stopped getting raid warnings from my addons.  I was so busy staring at my Mystic Buffet stack counter I failed to notice that when the boss was at 1.8% I’d been targetted by a Frost Beacon and was standing pretty much slap-bang in the middle of the raid.  By some miracle, neither of these cockups wiped us, and we managed to get the achievement again.

Just, you know, don’t tempt fate.  Because she’s a bitch.

Over the Christmas Holidays I spent an awful lot of time playing WoW. I’m not a massive fan of chasing achievements for their own sake, but when you’re running a random daily and a weekly raid quest on 10 different level 80 characters, some achievements just sort of happen whether you’re shooting for them or not. It was while running these “old” level 80 dungeons (and a few even older raid instances) that it was made abundantly clear to me just how stupidly overpowered we all are these days.

Example time. One achievement I am chasing is the 40 Exalted Reputations for the title “The Exalted”. 37 down, 3 to go. Already Revered with the Ashen Verdict, I figure I’ll get Exalted sooner rather than later. Revered with Ogri’la and working on it whenever I can be bothered. Oh, what’s this? Revered with the Hyrdaxian Waterlords? I was a little late to the party at level 60 and we’d moved on to Blackwing Lair before I hit Exalted with the Hydraxians, so whenever the urge took me I’d been running back to Molten Core and facerolling all over the bosses in there to grind out the last few thousand rep I needed (after Revered you only get rep from bosses, and at 20999 rep
you need to kill Executus or Ragnaros himself for the last point. Bah!). Now you have to bear in mind that Ragnaros, the last boss, was a step up from the regular bosses in Molten Core, he dropped Tier 2 loot, not Tier 1 loot, after all. The fight required two tanks (because he knocked back one of them and started one-shotting people if there was no other tank to pick him up) and a broad mix of dps with healers mixed in to burn him down and cover the aoe damage he kicked out. If you were really, really, REALLY good, you’d get him down before he submerged, because if not he’d summon the Sons of Ragnaros and swarms of Fire Elementals would emerge and start eating everyone. You needed to gather them up and get rid of them fast, because Ragnaros would re-emerge soon and need to be tanked again. It was a simple fight that went to hell very fast if you didn’t keep up. Bear in mind a few things. To get Ragnaros down before his Sons emerged, you need 40 raiders at the top of their game, pushing out some serious dps.

Or one level 80 Arcane mage, one tank and a very bored healer. You could actually probably skip the healer.

Ok, so Ragnaros might be 40 man raid content but he’s level sixty 40 man raid content. I get that. It’s only 20 levels but I get it. How about something a bit more recent?

Less-Rabi seems to be the achievement that most people get stuck on when grinding out the meta-achievement for their Red Protodrake. It certainly seems to be the most popular one in trade chat anyway. People always want an Enhancement Shaman for the Reverberation talent which gives them an interrupt on a 5 second cooldown and yes, I can see why that would make sense. The boss will periodically try to transform into a Mammoth, and to win the achievement you have to ensure he doesn’t. The problem is that every time he starts the transform it gets cast faster and faster, until by the 4th cast it’s very, very hard to interrupt it in time, hence you take an Enhancement Shaman with Reverberation.

Except, you don’t need one. Not at all. You just need an average group of tier 9-geared players and the stupid amounts of dps they push out. Last week I joined a random on Shinano, my resto druid. We got Gundrak, came to Moorabi and the tank, a paladin, asked if I had a dps offspec. “Sure” I replied, “I’ve got a reasonably well-geared Feral Cat offspec”. So I switched to Cat and we nuked the boss down before he even got to try his third cast, let alone his fourth. Healing? Pfft. Judgement of Light and Leader of the Pack did more than enough healing. This is not level 60 content. This is level 80 content. It’s level 80 heroic content. Healer optional, dps preferred.


Some of the other so-called “achievements” aren’t even remotely worthy of the name any more. When Wrath of the Lich king was but a wee babe in arms, Loken in Heroic Halls of Lightning had killed more players than any other level 80 dungeon or raid boss. He’d killed more players than the rest of the top 5 combined! There is an achievement for killing him in less than a minute and I can remember the sense of victory we felt the first time we did it, not because we were trying to get the achievement, we were just trying to kill the big bastard before he killed us! Actually, I wasn’t the first person in my guild to get the achievement, and I can clearly remember seeing it pop up in guild chat and sitting there in awe of the dps that managed put Loken on his arse in less than a minute and the healer who managed to keep the group up throughout it, because in order to do it, you pretty much had to stay in and eat his Lightning Novas. These days my best Loken kill is either 18 or 28 seconds, not sure which. No big deal though. Loken is a cakewalk. You fire up your Mirror Images, blow Arcane Power and Icy veins and spam Arcane Blast. Depending on your buffs and crits, that’s 20-24k damage every 1.5 seconds. Any dungeon boss is usually face down and pushing up daisies before the Mirror Images expire. These days if you see a “kill a boss in under a minute” achievement pop up you’re not thinking “awesome!”, you’re thinking “noob!”

Some more random facts for you.
Calli, my mage, now has more health in a dungeon than Gorn, my Warrior tank, did when he started tanking heroics.
Jingles has so much spirit on his gear that Fel Armour grants him over 400 bonus spell power, more when raidbuffed.
Calli didn’t even have 400 spell power in raids at level 60, and Jingles, an alt, has more than that as a bonus.
The big dps check at level 70 was Brutallus in Sunwell Plateau. On average, your dps had to be pushing out at least 1500dps each to have a hope of downing him. Sunwell Plateau, let me remind you, was the pinnacle of bastard-hard raid content. These days, a mere ten levels later, you can do at least that much dps in quest rewards. Calli does 9000dps on dungeon bosses, and has nudged 14000 dps on certain raid bosses, almost the equivalent of 10 superbly well-geared level 70 raiders. She’s not even the best mage in our raid group.

Of course, there’s some old content I wouldn’t dream of pugging, even in Tier 10 gear. Twin Emperors in The Temple of Ahn’qiraj leaps to mind, as does Kil’jaeden in Sunwell Plateau. Some fights still have mechanics that will knock you flat on your arse if you try to faceroll your way through, gear will only take you so far.

So where does that leave us? Icecrown Citadel 5 man dungeons, that’s where. I’ve complained in the past that the gear requirements for them, Halls of Reflection in particular, were ridiculous. I’ve played through them with some ridiculously well-geared and competent raiders, players who in no way needed any of the loot that dropped from them, and gotten roflstomped by the trash.

Now you can ascribe this to a lot of things. I ascribe it to the sad fact that due to all of the reasons listed above, people no longer respect 5 man dungeons and if you treat the Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection like another Nexus badge-farming snoozefest you are pretty soon going to find out who’s never made their way manually to the instance before and can’t find the entrance while in spirit form. This is why a tank with 45k health buffed, a healer with Heroic 25 man Coliseum gear and the Legendary healing mace and 3 dps all capable of soloing Loken from 100% to nil in 30 seconds are getting kerbstomped by waves of trash. People in level 258 gear should not be faceplanting in any instance that drops 232 gear. But you WILL faceplant in these places if you go in there treating them with the same level of contempt reserved for the likes of Loken and Cyanigosa.

You can ignore the tank target and nuke whoever you like in Violet Hold and get away with it. You can AoE packs of Dragonkin down in the Nexus and live to tell the tale. The tank usually won’t even notice and the mobs certainly won’t. Selective targetting and crowd control are simply not needed most of the time, unless the tank either a) sucks b) is massively undergeared compared to the dps or c) the dps are just being collossal pricks. Wait a minute.. crowd control? Selective targetting? What are they? Well usually crowd control is what the mage or the priest try to do just before the Rogue spams Fan of Knives and the Warrior pops Bladestorm. Selective targetting is what everyone ignores right after the tank marks the target. Seriously, I regularly tank instances where the one with the skull on its head is the last one to die. No shit. Wait, who am I trying to convince, you must see it all the time yourselves.

Yes, selective targetting and crowd control! Remember those? I know level 60 was a long time ago for some of us, but please, try to remember the skills you learned in Upper Blackrock Spire or even Magisters Terrace because you’ll need them in Icecrown. You can still faceroll to an extent in The Forge and Pit if sufficiently overgeared, but the vast majority of people in those instances don’t have loot accounts at the Royal Bank of The 25 Man Heroic Coliseum and using stuff like Repentance and Shackle Undead to even the odds in your favour on the slope up to the Ice Tunnel in the Pit are completely alien concepts to the majority of people. Why? Because with the lone exception of Magisters Terrace at level 70, no-one has needed to use them since Upper Blackrock Spire required a key to get in and Rend Blackhand was considered badass. Go on, how many of you had to look up Blackhand on Wowhead? Yeah, it really has been that long.

This is why I love Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection. They’re the only instances you can’t autopilot through and the only ones I feel a geniune sense of foreboding for when I see their loading screens. Of course I’m talking about when I’m doing the random daily on Calli or another dps character for Badges of Frost. They’re also the reason I never queue on Gorn or Sithica as a tank unless I’ve got a pre-made guild group. They’re fun for all the family if you’re on a healer, though. Hands up any healer who’s never placed mental bets as to which smacktard dps is NOT going to run out on Krick and Ick’s poison nova? Or which one is going to kill themselves on Scourgelord Tyrannus when they have Overlords Bane?

No, it’s not always the Deathknight. Sometimes it’s a Deathknight on his Rogue alt.

And if anyone catches the reference in the title you’re far too old to be playing silly videogames!

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…

The Iceman Cometh

Posted: 19 November, 2009 in Mage, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

Another week, another failpug story, but this time it’s not mine.  Poor old Gnomeageddon takes the prize for Failpug of the Week and puts the “ew!” into “pew pew!” with this absolutely horrific tale of woe.  The Deathtards may be the new kids on the block but there’s always a Huntard somewhere willing to go that extra mile to reclaim the title.

The DPS questionairre seems to have caught some attention, with giving it some link love, which explains the umpteen bazillion hits I took earlier on in the week.  But all the hot news is about the PTR, patch 3.3 and Icecrown Citadel!

So, what’s in it for mages?  Well first of all, Arcane is getting a utility buff with the change to Arcane Empowerment meaning that we’ll be giving the same 3% damage buff to the group/raid as Hunters with Ferocious Inspiration or Paladins with Sanctified Retribution.  Simply crit with Arcane Explosion, Missiles, Barrage or Blast and everyone gets the buff for the next 10 seconds.  The big changes, however, are in the Fire and Frost trees.  Fire gets the following very boring changes:

Mana cost of Blast Wave and Dragon’s Breath reduced.
Interrupt immunity granted by Burning Determination is now 20 seconds.
When Firestarter is triggered, it makes the next Flamestrike cost no mana in addition to being instant.


But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?  Is this a change to Scorch I see before me?  You bet your pearly pink panties it is!

The debuff from Improved Scorch no longer stacks, and instead can apply the full effect from a single cast of Scorch.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!  Fire mages rejoice!  You no longer have to waste a useful Major Glyph slot to provide a buff that any other class gets either natively or with talents!  What happened to the Glyph of Scorch?  A 20% Scorch damage increase or something, who cares?  It’s still junk.  Moving on to Frost, the fun just continues!

Fingers of Frost: This talent now triggers immediately on casting a spell rather than being delayed until the spell strikes the target.
Frozen Core: This talent now also causes Ice Lance critical strikes to reduce the cast time of the mage’s next Frostbolt or Frostfire Bolt by 0.4/0.7/1 seconds.

All good stuff, but nothing to make you wish you’d packed a spare set of underwear.  Until we get to the Deep Freeze change, that is:

This spell now deals a large amount of damage to targets permanently immune to stuns. In addition, when this ability deals damage it will no longer consume two charges of Fingers of Frost for those mages with the Shatter talent.

And that is just..  just..  well awesome doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Put into simple terms, “targets permanently immune to stuns” means raid and dungeon bosses.  Or in other words, Frost now has a 51 point PvE talent.  Enough to make Frost competitive in raids?  Possibly, I don’t have any numbers, but it’s going to be fun to find out.

Oh and Glyph of Water Elemental now makes ole Frosty a permanent pet.

Calm down, Frost mages, really!  There are children present!

Sadly it’s not all beer and skittles.  The following pearls of wisdom from the game developers made baby Jesus cry:

Icecrown Citadel is going to be broken up into four distinct sections: The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls. We plan on releasing these four sections of Icecrown Citadel over time and not all immediately when patch 3.3.0 goes live.


We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.


There are other elements that gate access along the way. Players may not attempt any Heroic versions of 10 player encounters until they have defeated the Lich King in a 10 player raid. Similarly, players must defeat the Lich King in a 25 player raid before they can attempt a Heroic 25 player encounter. So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.

There’s even more stuff about how you won’t be allowed to do X until you’ve done Y and so on and so forth, yadda yadda.  But with the help of my trusty Bullshit Translator, we can have everything converted into proper English in a jiffy!  Wait for it..  here it is:

We want to spin this shit out for as long as possible in order to free up resources for working on Cataclysm and Starcraft 2, so we’re going to drip feed you the next raid instance and force you to progress at a pace we choose rather than the pace your level of skill, gear and determination entitles you to.  Yes, this does mean that you’re going to end up clearing all the latest raid content in a night when it’s first released.  You can then either call it quits for the week or go back to farming Crusaders’ Coliseum again for the rest of the raid week.  No we don’t care.  Tough titty.

We will, of course, spin this in such a way that it will appear to the stupid and those without a Bullshit Translator that we’re releasing content this way because we only want the best for you, our loyal customers.  Not because we have to make this shit so easy for the common herd that the seasoned raiders burn through it in a night and want more.  Oh no.  Not us.

And they call me cynical.  Pfft.