Friday, June 27, 2008

The Great Resto Experiement Continues - Karazhan edition

So... Last night... There I was just minding my own business and the guy who leads my sometimes Friday night Kara run came on and I asked if he was planning on running it again. He wasn't they were running it as a guild that night. I forget how it came about exactly but he ended up asking me if I could join them as a healer. Could I EVER!!! I've been itching to try out all the resto PvP gear and the tree of life form. I swapped in my healing trinkets and ended up with 1813 healing unbuffed (over 1900 with elixirs and food buff). While they were forming up, they were looking for a priest for shackles. They were looking for a shadow priest but couldn't find one... So I asked if we could bring a holy priest from our guild - Pater. Man... Did they hit the jackpot.

Moroes and Attumen went down pretty easily... And by "easily" I mean that a warlock tanked Attumen for about a minute and effectively mana drained me. There were also some dicey moments on Moroes where we had split DPS on some of the adds and the undergeared paladin OT had 2 mobs and Moroes on him. Any time Moroes switched targets, the current target would take a big hit before I could get the HoTs rolling. But when they did... A single lifebloom was ticking for 230. A stack of three? 657/second. Rejuvenation was ticking for over 800. My regrowths were critting for over 3.1k and they almost always crit. It was insane how much healing I could sustain.

We had a little trouble on Maiden because a paladin healer accidentally pulled Maiden early and died. Then a warlock LoS'd Pater and took a holy fire and died within the first 30 seconds of the fight. With all that, we were still able to get her to about 4%. On the second attempt, that same warlock got the first holy fire and... Oh!! Died again. Got her to about 10% when she crushed the tank for 4k twice and then a ranged pulled aggro making the main tank a viable target for her AoE chain damage effect... Dead tank. Dead raid.

After that, things went pretty well (except for the main tank dying on the last 5% of Curator). Someone moved during the flame wreath at 10% on Shade of Aran (they're still learning... Last night they learned that "don't anyone move during Flame Wreath" means that even if you don't have the flame around you, it's safer not to move) causing a wipe at 7%. This was at about 12:50 AM my time. But Pater was willing to clear to Chess so I went along and we finally finished at about 1:20. For my trouble, I picked up 13 Badges of Justice so I can now get the super awesome tanking pants. I'll probably do that tonight. Pater also got enough badges to get some nice healing pants so that will really help us if our guild ever does see Prince.

Just after Curator, a rogue sent me the healing stats for the night. I'd done 1.6 million healing, Pater had done 960k healing and the one healer from their guild had done 700k. Like I said, they hit the jackpot with us. Not only that but Pater nailed his shackles (doesn't mean the paladin didn't break them) and was his usual self about cleansing the holy fire off of people. He'd cleanse and I'd hit them with a couple of instant cast HoTs that healed them for about 6k. Ridiculous. I even managed to get off a cyclone when I had a couple of mobs on me to give the tanks a chance to pick them up and when that failed, I heal tanked one of the spell shades until the first two were down.

All in all, a great learning experience for me PLUS a huge confidence booster. I've healed regular Steam Vault before, but with a shadow priest and a full feral spec. With a resto spec AND the gear... Holy moly. Nerf resto dr00ds.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Season 4... Finally...

I've been pretty much AFK for the last week or so because I was helping my brother move back home from Baltimore. I don't feel like I've missed much because I Hiahotah had saved up about 4000 arena points, 74997 honor points and had saved up at least 81 marks from every battleground. I also had over 3600 arena points, 50k honor points and 50 marks per battleground on my mage and a smattering of points and marks (and 4.5k arena points) on my paladin (who, frankly, is just about as well geared as he is going to be). I was ready.

Season 4 started yesterday and I happened to be off (taking a few days off after helping my brother move... It had been 13 days of work, driving and/or physical labor for me... I needed a few days to myself) for the day. I did some errands in the morning and starting at about 1:30, I started watching the realm status bar. As soon as Bloodscalp came up, I logged onto Hihahotah and started shopping. I got:

Brutal Gladiator's Kodohide Gloves
Brutal Gladiator's Reprieve
Vengeful Gladiator's Kodohide Tunic
Merciless Gladiator's Kodohide Spaulders
Merciless Gladiator's Salvation
Guardian's Kodohide Belt

When combined with the gear I already had, that brought my +healing to 1564 (with a +81 healing to weapon enchant still to go) and my resilience to 421. I immediately respecced resto to test it out in the daily BG and... I got insta-gibbed... By about 8 people in an AV that had been running for about 3 minutes - roughly the amount of time it takes for the Alliance charge to get to the horde base. An inauspicious beginning. It took a couple of rounds - some were laggy and it took me a couple of minutes to get into the swing of healing again, but I did manage to lead a couple of rounds in healing. In one, I kept a warrior and myself alive for about 5 minutes against 6 Alliance attackers. It was ridiculous. I can definitely see where a warrior and a resto druid could be problematic in 2v2.

I also picked up the season 4 gloves on my paladin and mage, Season 4 offhand and wand and the season 2 shoulders and helm for my mage (bringing her to 971 frost damage in her regular kit and 858 in her PvP set) and season 3 helm and season 2 shoulders for my paladin for tanking. It took me a full 3 hours to buy, enchant and gem everything but I find myself really looking forward to playing.

We tried the Midsummer fire festival boss, Ahune (we tried on Monday night with no success... six really frustrating wipes) last night and downed him twice in 5 attempts. We couldn't do it with Hiahotah, but when we used Hoban (the paladin) it went a lot smoother. I think with some refining of techinques, we could probably down him every time. He dropped a really sweet tanking cloak but I passed on it so our up and coming feral druid tank could take it.

All told, I'm excited to have new gear to play with. It's frustrating to solo as resto but I'm looking forward to making things go boom on my mage and tanking

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Little Change of Pace... That's All I Ask...

I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that if our guild is going to do anything challenging, I'm going to have to tank it - no matter how much I love playing my mage, I'm the tank. And, yes... I love playing my druid... But sometimes tanking stuff for the 100th time can get tedious - not to mention the fact that my mangle, lacerate and swipe fingers can cramp up during a long run. Yeah... I know the stuff is new and exciting for some of the newer members and there are others who get to experience it a different way (usually by going from healing to DPS or from melee DPS to ranged DPS... No one ever says "You know what? I want a new challenge. I want to be stressed out beyond belief". Funny that...

The point is... I've done the first 5 bosses in Kara so many times I can do the pulls in my sleep... It's time for me to experience the game differently. I have two other level 70 characters who really only ever get to PvP and do the loathesome arenas. But how? I still have to tank because no one else really wants to - at least not for Kara or heroics. I use Hiahotah for... Everything because he makes things sooo much easier. The newbies can get their quests done and get their gear. But now the newbies are learning the fights and have got good enough gear to compensate for a less godly tank. The solution is something I've been thinking about for some time now... Take my powerhouse healer of a paladin and make a tank out of him. Over the last few months, he's assembled a fairly decent tanking set. I can get him to uncrittable and uncrushable. Plus... I've been reading about how a paladin makes some pulls trivial because of the AoE tanking ability and it sounds like a blast... And when I took my level 70 Alliance paladin into BRD to clear the Jailbreak! quest, that pretty much sealed it. I was going to start using Hoban to tank guild stuff.

I was a little nervous about making my first real tanking run be Karazhan so I was a little relieved when it fell through. We did heroic Ramparts on Hiahotah because he had the daily quest and was 21 badges from the super awesome tanking pants. Karazhan didn't happen last night either so we decided to do a heroic Ramparts again tonight but this time with a pally tank.

It took a while for us to get going. I was still working out how to generate threat while maintaining mana and remembering to keep holy shield up and how to taunt and how long it takes to cast avenger's shield at that pat walking away from us and which buffs were best for which classes given the tank. The healer (who had also been on the Tuesday run) commented that she had to change her healing style a little because there was actual damage coming in so rolling Lifeblooms just weren't getting it done. The rogues had to learn to wait for aggro because Hoban <> Hiahotah.

Fortunately people were patient with me. They knew I was still working this out (if they'd only been there when I was learning to tank on Hiahotah... Man... Talk about wipefests...). We still used saps (2 of them) for most pulls because I'm still not comfortable with 4+ level 70 elite mobs on me. We figured out the buffs (Salvation for everyone but me and I took kings for the extra health and mana). The rogues learned to count to two (seriously... With Hiahotah, people just jump in as soon as they can because they know they can't out-aggro him). The healer dropped a few healing touches now and then. The other druid threw some heals at the start of really big pulls so I didn't just die immediately and gave the HoTs a chance to start rolling. We wiped about 5 times before the first boss... But after that, there were no more wipes on trash. We really hit our stride.

We learned that after the skull went down, it didn't really matter what mob people picked next. The consecrate would hold aggro. When the saps broke, all the healer had to do was stand on the other side of the consecrate. The 5 pull at the top of the spiral ramp after the first boss? Sap-Sap-Avenger's shield-Duck around the corner-Consecrate. We did a 5 pull after that without CC. It was really quite amazing. The only real problem we had was the second boss (Omor?). We had 4 melee characters and so the Treacherous Aura just wiped us every time. Finally we just skipped him. So I only ended up with two badges (5 more to the breastplate) and no loot... But I did end up with a newfound confidence in my ability to pally tank. I'm actually looking forward to tanking Karazhan on my paladin... At least for Alts and Newbs night. If we get past Curator, I may change my mind...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Olde World Fun

I have a group of 5 guys that I play video games with about once a month. We all used to work together at an Internet service provider and have stayed close ever since. We used to play things like Battlefield 1942 and Ghost Recon but one of the guys had been playing this new game... World of Warcraft. We resisted it for a few months because of the monthly fee but we finally gave in and decided to get trial accounts. That was almost 2 and a half years ago...

Now our game nights have become exclusively WoW nights. Thursday was a game night and we decided to poke around some old world content... It's stuff I've missed because I levelled all of my characters solo so it's nice to have a built in party to explore some of the old stuff... Particularly now that I have a better idea what's going on. I've been to through most of the instance before but I was just following some guys who had been there before and we were generally overgeared for the instances.

We did the Jailbreak! quest (for the third time... We wiped the first time and one guy ran out before the quest completed so he failed the quest) and then we went through all the content around the bar with our mid-50's level toons. We nubbed up a few things but for the most part it went well. And it was nice to rediscover our WoW roots... But if I NEVER do the Jailbreak! quest again it will be too soon. All the horde who whined about how hard their Onyxia attunement quest was clearly never did that quest.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Remember your failure at the cave

One of my guild's core members (our "other" tank for hard stuff) is letting his account lapse in a few days, so we have been doing some reminiscing... In the form of doing stuff as a group. Mostly that has consisted of a LOT of PvP but last night we decided to go back to Zul'Aman. We've only been there twice. The first time we went was on New Year's Eve. At the time, we had just gotten to the point where we could down Moroes (and Attumen and Maiden). It would be two more weeks before we cleared Opera and Curator for the first time. But Zul'Aman was new and we wanted to take a look, so we downed three bosses in Karazhan and dashed off to the Ghostlands.

When we got there, we tried the bear boss. The trash thrashed us pretty soundly. We wiped a couple of times on the mounted mobs. And Nalorakk... We had 4 healers (we took what we could get in those days, plus with the gear our tanks had at the time, we needed the extra healing) but only 4 DPS. That meant we kept running into the enrage timer.

The second time we got there, one of our main healers hearthed during the first pull. We wiped without downing a single mob and the raid broke up. It was a sad day. And we didn't raid for two weeks after that because people were so pissed.

But this time was different... We were saying goodbye to someone (it's not like he's leaving, we still work with the guy but he won't be playing), we have better gear, a better choice of who to bring. This time... Only 3 healers: a priest, resto druid and a slightly undergeared, slightly offspec holy paladin (34/27 - it's his only toon so I wanted to give him a spec that he could still use to solo until his gear gets to the point where he can just overpower everything even if he's fully holy).

This time we only wiped on the last trash pull before Nalorakk because the hunter's trap broke early and the other tank missed when the bear and rider split. We did it a lot cleaner the second time through.

The first two attempts on Nalorakk ended at around 50% after a transition between tanks. It's like they didn't see the switch and the main tank dropped like a stone. I had a quick conversation with the priest and resto druid and we decided to have the powerhouse healers (them) focus on the tanks and have the paladin watch the rest of the raid. I'm guessing that the tank transition coincided with some raid splash damage and they were raid healing and the tanks went down.

We made just that one little switch and suddenly... The tanks are staying up and topped off. The raid is topped off. The healers have oodles of mana. The tanks have tons of threat so the DPS can go nuts. We downed him in about 6 minutes. After our first two trips there, I thought we'd never down anything in that zone. I think this was very cathartic for the whole guild. Of course, it will be a long time before we have a second tank ready to go back but now we know that we can do it and we know the strat for that one boss... Now if we could just get Prince down....

No... I'm going to be happy about this. We downed a boss in Zul'Aman!! We pulled together as a team. We worked it out without pointing fingers or calling names. Yay us!! (Damn it... I still want to down Prince.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Great Resto Experiment: Phase 1

One of the famously feral druids in my guild went resto last week and I decided I have enough gear (got the season 3 arena helm last week) to test out resto for a couple of days... So on Sunday, I went 8/11/42 for some PvP and arenas on Monday. I've come to the following conclusions:

1) In a battleground like AV, resto druids can be godly. Between stacking HoTs on 3-4 different players, insane mana regen and innervate (not to mention the ability to get out of combat so I could drink) I could outheal an entire battleground even with all the blues I have - sometimes on the order of 180k to 130k for the second place healer.
2) People hate resto druids more than they hate priests.
3) I'm not ready for 5v5 arenas. I could still heal them, but there's too much going on for me to CC anything - which is a big part of the effectiveness of the resto druid in 2v2 and 3v3.
4) I could totally see where a geared resto druid who had experience playing that way could REALLY be a problem in 2v2. I could even see a scenario where _I_ would be a problem in 2v2. There were times when I slipped away from 6 Alliance attackers, got behind our lines and just started healing again.
5) I love playing as a feral druid.

I switched back to feral last night (tonight being raid night) but I'll probably do the Sunday-Monday resto thing until season 4 starts. I moved a couple of points out of Savage Fury (20% increase to some cat form attacks) and put them into maxing out Natural Shapeshifter. Which should be good for shedding snares while our paladin who doesn't learn runs away from mobs instead of at the tank (or at least cleansing chill effects).