Friday, May 30, 2008

Dr00d with a plan

For those of you who don't live in Vermont and never met Fred Tuttle, you might want to rent Man with a Plan some day... But that's another story. Today I'm here to talk about PvP... Specifically, the Arena requirements that will be on the PvP honor rewards in Season 4.

I don't know that there's anyone who hates the arenas more than I do. I mean... Maybe there are people but... Gah... It's awful. We play our 10 games on Monday nights to get our 300-350 points and that's it. The problem is, our guild is starting to have pretty long roster (relatively speaking) of level 70's. We have 17 different people with 70's, plus there are some people who mooch off of us and think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do because they work with some of the key guild members and... Really... A guild is just a chat channel, right? Where was I? Oh yeah... So... We used to have one team. I'd play 3 games and be done. Then I levelled my paladin to 70 and well... Paladins had kicked their asses for years, so... We made a second team of our best players to play with the paladin. Then we got a bunch of alts hitting 70 and then 4 more level 70 mains and... There's now a third team. And because I have 3 level 70's, I'm on all three teams... And the ALL play Monday nights.

Even with the short queues, we're talking about 3-4 hours of arenas. And we're not very good. Our best finish for a week ever is in the 1530's range (the team the paladin is on). Our warriors are... You know... Warriors so they just run in and smash stuff with no real plan and... Anyway... It's frustrating. And we lose a lot. And my paladin has to play all 10 games for his team. And Hiahotah... His gear is so insane that he has to be on one of the bad teams to make them competitive... There's 10 more games. And then by the time we get to the last team... All but one or two people have their points for the week, so they've long since logged off... And to get that last person their points... I sometimes have to play all 10 games on my mage too. And even if I don't... I still have to hang out and not do anything complicated because I might be getting the call for my 3-7 games (on that character). I hate it.

That said, three pieces of the season 4 PVP set will have Arena ratings requirements of up to 1700 so... If we don't get better, I'm going to be denied the opportunity to purchase them. I was OK with the arena gear having arena ratings requirements... But this has taken things too far. This will not stand!!!

Seriously... I won't have this. Now... Hiahotah is feral. I love playing a feral druid. In fact, my level 55 Alliance druid is also feral. But I am so annoyed by this that I have decided that as of season 4, I will whore myself out as a resto druid and do even MORE arenas with one of the umpteen PvP warritards in our guild (Oh... Come on... Seriously? None of you can strap on a shield and tank so I don't have to? I hate you all).

To that end, I have been collecting the season 3 resto PvP gear. I have everything that is currently available... Including the +88 healing trinket. I even picked up the new Medallion of the Horde for the extra 25 resilience. This week, I got to 4700 arena points saved up and I would have gone over next week, so I burned a bunch on the season three resto helm. I gemmed it. I got the +35 healing enchant from Thrallmar... I'm going all out. And I'll PvP until I have just under 75k honor and 100 marks from each faction (I'm running 79-97 right now) saved up.

As soon as Season 4 comes out, I'll buy the season 2 shoulders and weapon with honor points and get them enchanted. I'll get the season 4 resto and feral arena gloves (the only armor that doesn't have a ratings requirement) and the season 4 offhand resto weapon. I'll fill out the rest with season 2 gear and I'll be off to Moonglade to unlearn my talents... And I'll be spending the 50 gold to respec every time I need to tank something and again every time I go to the arenas.

I can't believe it's come to this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Picking up steam

Last night was Alts and Newbs night... Again. We went through a few weeks where I just threw the idea out there in case people showed up... But last night... We actually had 11. One person wanted to level their paladin so that made the decision pretty easy. Our "other" paladin (we have 2 level 70 paladins and I have the first) got 4 drops last time out so he's becoming a passable healer, so for healing we just brought him and our godly resto druid.... Man.... What a difference that one extra DPS makes. Normally we bring 3 healers and we get to Opera at around 10:30 pm (starting some time after 7:30) - ending at around 11. Last night we plowed through Curator and downed him at around 10:30pm.

I'll admit that I felt the loss of the healer because it seemed like they were playing fast and loose with my health... But I only died when I was trying to stealth to open the back door and another druid pulled aggro and dragged them right past me so I can't really complain. I think the extra DPS shortened the fights to a point where extending mana wasn't a problem. In fact, I looked for someone to innervate during a vanish and neither healer needed one so I gave it to the shadow priest. We set new guild records for Moroes (4 minutes, 40 seconds) and Curator (4:20 - 2 evocates)... And that was with at least one person in quest reward greens.

Speaking of the shadow priest (Mustela)... He's played by a guy with one year old twin boys. Playing WoW is pretty much his only social/recreational outlet. In fact, he's the reason why I started the Alts and Newbs run - so we could get him into Karazhan, get him acclimated to out play style and maybe get him some loot. He's been kind of shortchanged on the loot lately. But last night he picked up three healing items and the Staff of Infinite Mysteries - which we have taken to calling the Staff of Infinite Drop Percentages because that thing drops just about every time. We've downed Curator maybe 10 times and we've had about 7 of those drop. People have started taking them for offspec PvP. It was good to see that go to someone who could actually use it and who, quite frankly, really deserves it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friday Karathon

I know... It's not Frday... But I've been busy (read: the servers weren't down for maintenance and I wasn't awake about a half hour early). The group I've been PuGging Karazhan with lately got a group going at about 9:30 pm my time. I was already saved for the week on Hiahotah, so I offered to respec my paladin (Hoban) prot but when they found out his +healing, they decided to look for a main tank and just run with two healers.

The group they found was decked out in mostly epics, so we plowed through the place. We downed Curator in 2 minutes, 20 seconds. The rest of the run went a lot like that... Until Prince. We wiped about 4 times. I'm not sure what went wrong. People felt that the tank was "an idiot" but I just don't think he had the gear to survive phase two. He would lose 8k health in a couple of seconds. I couldn't keep up... Or if I kept up with him, other people would die.

They decided to ditch the warrior and have the ret paladin (who used to tank for them) go prot. We got a priest in there (with me and a resto druid) to heal and we downed him easily. Then we circled back for Netherspite and Nigthbane. If we wiped at all it would have been on Netherspite. I don't really remember because it was 3 AM here when we finished and I was getting pretty punchy. And if you've done the math, we did a full clear of every boss in 5 adn a half hours.

For my troubles, I got the ribbon of sacrifice from Opera and 22 badges of justice. I also learned that it's WAY less stressful for me to stand in the back and heal than it is to tank it. Plus... I got even MORE frustrated that my guild STILL hasn't cleared Kara... Some day... Some day...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Addition by Subtraction

Our guild used to have a this guy... You know... That one guy who is just a little off. He is a RL friend of one of the core members so... We let him in. And he was _always_ on... I mean... I play a LOT but this guy was on every time I was plus I heard that he was on most of the time I was working too. In a way, you want to feel sorry for him because he clearly has no other social outlet but then again... The things he would say in guild chat... Disturbing. If he turns out to be a school shooter I won't be the least bit surprised. Saddened but not surprised. You could tell he wanted to be accepted by his reactions every time he realized that someone had him on ignore. And I tried... As the de facto raid leader and the most visible "person of authority" in the guild, I tried to include him... But he just went too far too often.

The point is... There were a number of people who wouldn't raid with him and didn't want to start a fuss by having me not invite this guy to the raids... So they just stopped showing up... Or played alts who weren't keyed (and after the requirement was removed, who weren't 70 yet). But a few weeks ago, he packed up and transferred to another server. A happy, glorious day (for us). People started coming out to do instances again... Or just to hang out because they knew guild chat wasn't going to be bombarded with his insanity.

And on Tuesday, we actually got enough people on where I could justify getting a few PuGs for Karazhan to fill out the raid. But then more and more people started showing up, so we just ran with the 9 we had... And a 10th showed up... And it was good. We didn't clear the place. In fact, we only did the first four bosses - the same four bosses we've been farming for months now. But it was fun. We had some alts in there so people got to do some new things. One of our main healers brought his druid and he off tanked. And we had some newbies in there who are still learning the fights and who still need the loot. And it was relaxed. And everyone wanted to be there... And...

Hell... Even the wipes were kind of fun. We had a bad pat during a pull of 8 non-elites... He walked right through the casters: "Oh... Hi guys!! What are you shooting? Mind if I join you?". I saw it coming but there was nothing I could do about it but we got the elite pat down and all but two of the casters. A pretty good scramble all things considered. The other wipe was during Opera - Romulo and Julianne. It was only the second time we've done it as a guild. Hell... There were people in there who thought Opera was the Big Bad Wolf because that's what it's been all four times they've been there. That included the rogue who wasn't getting the heal interrupt concept so Julianne healed herself repeatedly. By Act three, the rogue was clearly starting to pick up when he was supposed to be kicking so we killed her but he was at 12%. It took us 13 seconds to kill him so he rezzed her and then she rezzed him after he died. Wipe city. But it was pretty clear what had gone wrong and we just had to make a few adjustments and we were there. Round two was flawless. No deaths. She only got off two heals (one in act one and one in act three) and when she died, he was at 2%. We killed him almost instantly. It was gratifying to see everyone pull together and adjust so quickly.

Then we got 8 people back together last night to "clear to Curator and hope someone else comes on". We've downed him with 9 before but never even tried 8. We made a couple of attempts but we just didn't have enough sustained DPS to get the flares down (the third round was tough when the casters were out of mana). So the other feral druid got his healer and one of the healers got a DPS warrior and we were about to try it again when a paladin signed on... And since we were already _at_ the stone to summon the warrior... The additional heals and DPS made the fight ridiculously easy. And the paladin, who had been on line for 9 minutes, picked up a tier 4 token - his 4th piece of loot so far this week.

At that point three people decided that they had to leave. The six that were left decided to see if we could get to the Chess event for the free loot. We actually made it a lot further than I thought we would. We cleared the 6 pull outside of Illhoof's room without a death. We were handling the 4 pulls of spell shades pretty easily. The sorcerous shades were kind of chewing us up but we got them down. But it started getting late so we decided to try to skip a 4 pull of shades and a room where you have to single pull about 10 elites by running through behind the tank and having a druid stealth through and rez us on the other side... It almost worked. We actually got the paladin through to the other side, but when he tried to rez me, he aggro'd a mob who stomped them royally. Oh well...

But the bottom line is... We're having fun again. And we're raiding again... And a LOT of it is because we lost a member.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Since my guild has been somewhat apathetic about doing Karazhan lately... And because a well geared tank can _always_ find a group for something... I jumped in LFG yesterday. It wasn't long before a paladin who seems to have lost his shift key and some verbs - not to mention the words that lost a few letters - wanted me to join his two man group (actually, he sent the invite before asking - a major faux pas in my world) for Kara. For whatever reason, I felt kind of iffy about him so I held out.

A few minutes later (while the paladin with bad spelling, english and manners was still sending me tells every couple of minutes) a shaman asked me to join his group starting at Curator. A chance to skip the 4 bosses I've done too many times. To skip the skeletal ushers before Opera and a chance to skip Moroes... Now we're talking. It turns out it was mostly a guild run for Solstice - a name I've seen around a few times. It took a while to get things going because they didn't have healers.

I was supposed to be main tanking but since I can throw out more DPS in cat gear, I convniced them to have the other tank grab Curator. That was fun because I never get to just do damage in cat form. I tanked for the rest of the run though... Well... Except for Shade when I did some DPS and threw some heals during a flame wreath.

We had a little trouble during Netherspite because some DPS ran through the red beam during the first portal phase and moved him away from the center of the room so while I was dancing in and out of the beam it moved Netherspite around so the green beam moved and healed him. Even still... We got him down to 10% before he enraged.

But the Whoops moment(s) for me came during Prince. I'd been tinkering with a macro that cancels my current form, pops a charged crystal focus to restore 2k health and then casts bear form. As long as you're not in a global cooldown, you're fine... Usually. I hadn't had a reason/chance to use it yet however but I was still thinking about it.

I was tanking Prince back up against a wall so I couldn't see anything. I could see his feet and that's about it. We got to the second phase where he just STOMPS on the tank and I was getting low on health... Scary low... To the point where I didn't think I could wait for the GCD before I hit my macro. And I hit it... It restored 2k health which gave the healer a chance to throw a couple of heals on me.

But I was still in the GCD when I hit it, so I didn't go back into bear form. I knew there was a possibility that this would happen so I started checking my buffs and... CRAP!!! No bear form buff. I hit my "Shape of... A bear" button but I tanked Prince during phase two for about 4 seconds in caster form just swinging a big hammer at him.

This was not lost on the healers... One of whom called out "Bear Form" over Vent at about the same time I was hitting the button. The worst part is... The absolute worst part is... I got in trouble a little later and tried to hit one of my panic buttons and misclicked... I ended up popping a mana potion... Which took me back to caster form.


Fortunately the healers were on top of it and I was a little quicker on the trigger this time so we were still able to down him. The second time I've ever tanked Prince and I nubbed it up. Nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You can't open the book of my life and jump in the middle

A little background: The Guild I'm in (CNN HEADLINE NEWBS) is an EXTREMELY casaul guild made up of people who, for the most part, work in the various IT departments at the University of Vermont. We have about 16 people who have level 70 characters at this point. Really the only thing we do as a group on a regular basis is the Arenas... And that's every Monday night. Most of the time we'll just PvP on our own or if a bunch of people are on, we'll do an instance. I've become the de facto raid leader for our Karazhan runs and really the ONLY tank for anything else but ever since the sun started coming out again (a novelty in Vermont) we've been having fewer and fewer people on. I still offer to organize a Karazhan run if people are on and interested but the response lately has been lukewarm at best.

Last night was one of our "Alts and Newbs" Karazhan nights, but only 6 people were actually on. While it's disappointing that we couldn't get a Karazhan run going for the third straight week, the people who _were_ on wanted to do something. So we decided to do a heroic... And the daily was Steam Vaults. The problem was that of the people who wanted to go, we had two characters with the gear for something like that (Me on my feral druid and our totally awesome resto druid) and three were not (a holy paladin, another feral druid and a shadow priest - the guy playing the druid has a priest who has the gear but that would have given us 3 healers... We needs something that could do some damage). So we ran with two healers, no CC and limited DPS.

Nights like that can be very frustrating. We struggled with any of the naga pulls that had a healer in them. We just couldn't get them down fast enough and we'd run out of stuns. But you can also take it as a learning experience. Instead of having the other feral druid off tank an add, I took all 4 and he concentrated on saving energy to use maim to interrupt every heal. We still wiped a couple of times when the sirens feared at the wrong time but we got better. We also learned that if you draw aggro you should run at the tank instead of backing away from the mob on you and into a mob that we skipped because it was so mean or... If you're a superfluous healer and you're _going_ to back away from the tank, you should do so along the path we've already cleared - because while that strategy will get _you_ killed, it won't wipe the party.

Having a sub-optimal group composition also forces us to consider alternate strategies. We had the newly minted 70 holy paladin strap on "tanking" gear and consecrate the gnomes before the second boss. On the second boss, the strategy is usually to burn down the adds as they come out. We tried that the first attempt but we hit an enrage timer because we didn't do enough damage to the boss. Plus the paladin went out of mana from spamming Consecrate. So. We had the paladin just spam rank one consecrate to keep the gnomes in combat and not healing (or repairing in this case) the boss. The other feral druid ran around in bear form and tried to swipe as many of the gnomes as he could while the shadow priest and I stayed mostly on the boss. When we got about 10 gnomes out, the resto druid topped everyone off, dropped a hurricaine. That burned down almost all of the gnomes and we got a nice breather. We downed the boss and then took out the adds. Improvisation... Learning to use all of your skills in different situations... It made all the wipes worth it (well... That and the resto druid picked up the stamina enchant for bracers... That's always a good thing). We'll be a stronger group if we ever do get a Karazhan run together.

Ultimately, we didn't have enough DPS to burn down the tanks on the end boss and we were all getting tired so we called it after 3 attempts (two of the people in the party had never even done the instance in regular mode so the first wipe was inevitable). Man... That guy hits hard when he enrages on heroic. I can survive one enrage but not the second.

On an unrelated note, I was pleased to find out that the hunter spell Scare Beast is not instant cast in the latest patch. That would really have messed with me in the battlegrounds.

Monday, May 12, 2008

He Was a Scary Bear

I can totally explain... The first thing you need to know for the title of this blog to make ANY sense at all is that I my main is a Tauren druid and he is the main tank for the casual raiding guild I'm in... Which means I spend a LOT of time in bear form. A LOT... And it's not a pretty view. But I digress... I'll do that a lot.

Where was I? Oh yeah... So one day I was tanking Sethekk Halls for a group of guildies and the healer was a character named Pater. I've been real life friends with the man behind Pater for years and so we spend a lot of time in instances joking around. There are mobs in Sethekk that MC people and you either have to wait 30 seconds (or so) or get the person down to half health before it wears off. And since Hiahotah has such insanely high health and armor, it was easier to take out the mobs and then wait out the MC. After this MC wore off, Pater used the phrase "Scary bear biting my face!!!".

Which brought to mind the old Grammar Rock song called Unpack Your Adjectives... He was a hairy bear. He was a scary bear...