Friday, June 27, 2008

Blizzard Authenticator

Thanks to BBB for this. You can read his post on the issue.

Blizzard is releasing "soon" - who knows when that will be - a keychain thingbob. What it does is you activate it for your account. And then when you try to log in, the keychain will generate a random password for you, that is synched with Blizzard. I don't know how it works. I won't pretend to know how it works. I also won't plagerize BBB. At least not without quotations!

"When you set it up with your Blizzard account, it will ’sync’ it’s internal seed generator with Blizzard. So when you try to log in, you will be directed to input your current code… you’ll press a button on your keychain dongle, and the code will be generated right then, viewed on the dongle screen display, and only be valid for a very short time, perhaps a minute. And you’ll type it in. Blizzard will have their seed synced to yours, so it’ll know what it should have been…
So even if you had a keylogger, or a virus… the key you typed in goes dead a minute later." -- Big Bear Butt Blogger (Q4T except for the typos I fixed. For shame, man. There was a 'teh' in there. Where's your sense of pride? I can forgive the Blizard and the rpess and wqhat. But teh?)

So, no more account hacks (hopefully, but I bet hackers will be busily trying to figure out a way around it) although it sounds like a hassle if you lose your keychain thingy. For someone like me, it's a two edged sword! Nice security. High risk of me forgetting it or losing it.

Just passing along the good news.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tree-Mender's Belt

Kathe runs Heroic Ramparts until Absitively bleeds from his eyes (and other orifices). The belt doesn't drop. And at 3 badges per run, she was able to afford the 60 badge belt Waistguard of the Great Beast. So she stopped running H.Ramps. (It wasn't really 20 Ramps runs, since there was a Karazhan badge run (18 badges) in the middle somewhere.)

Kava runs her first ever Heroic Ramparts tonight. She is now the proud owner of the Tree-Mender's Belt. It isn't as good for a rogue as other belts out there. BUT I'M GOING TO WEAR IT.

Hate you, Blizzard.

Merciless Ahune of the Festival!

I was originally going to title this 'Ahune the Frost Lord, Merciless Gladiator and Fire Festival', then realized that was long and boring, though precise.

This at least makes you go.. 'huh?'

As everyone knows, Arena Season 4 hit yesterday. This means that Arena Season 2 gear is available for honor and BG marks. This means the PvP that I was doing as Kathe finally paid off in the form of the Merciless Gladiator Dragonhide Shoulders and Gloves to replace what I was wearing... namely the Shoulderpads of Assassination and the Verdant Gloves.

I am considering getting a few more PvP pieces... since Druid Tanks can use Resilience in place of pure Defense here and there, unlike warriors and paladins who need Defense for parry and block. My question is... how much resilience is too much resilience? How much defense do I want? It's easier for me to PvP than it is for me to get the insane number of badges I'd need to upgrade my gear.

I have the nifty little code that you can use to find out if you're still uncrittable... but since not every beginner bear is running around in PvP gear tanking... there's a drawback. What is it? Does anyone know? That wasn't rhetorical. Answer me. Please.

(Incidentally, I haven't checked on my uncrittableness, since I'm not specced for tanking right now, and that will make a difference... it also explains my armory at the moment. I'm ashamed. I logged out in my pitiful PvP gear. *cry*)

The festival boss, Lord Ahune, is a daily killable quest in regular Slave Pens. And you can also do him on Heroic for the chance at better loot, which is only reasonable. Maybe it's just us, but that fight is a giant pain in the ass. We tried it once on Heroic with a great tank, a great healer and great DPS. And didn't make it through the first Phase 1. But even on regular, we're averaging 3/5 kills. The healer dies. The tank dies. A DPS dies. Usually we start to lose control during the third Phase 1. The healer is OOM so the tank dies. The elite then goes to eat the healer OR the DPS. A few times, we've survived without a tank or healer in that third phase (<3 warlocks) but ... yowza.

I'm going to keep trying, at least on regular. Kikidas already has the Frostscythe but what we're really after is Deathfrost. Rumor has it that it's a guaranteed drop on heroic. I shall keep trying as long as he's alive!

And for the last... the Fire Festival Burning Blossoms of hate and agony... er, heh. Boon is on vacation for the week. Which is unfortunate because he really wants a few things from the Fire Festival that you can only get by turning in massive quantities of Burning Blossoms. His #1 desire: Brazier of Dancing Flame, followed by the Vestment of Summer and the Sandals of Summer.

I'm pretty sure that I can get those for him. I spent about two and a half hours last night honoring and desecrating flames all across Azeroth and Outlands. This, by the way, is a good way to spend some quality time reading a book while on auto-run. It is also a good way to get some fast easy cash. Fast and easy if there isn't someone guarding said flame that you are trying to desecrate. That would suck. Luckily, no one was a) around or b) interested in messing with a level 70 holy paladin. And that would have taken 20% longer... if I didn't have Crusader Aura. So, travel with a paladin if you can!

If you are interested in doing this insanity, please print off or otherwise have handy the list found at Kaliope's blog. It made it a ton easier to know what towns, where, had a flame for me to visit. Incidentally, the list is in ALMOST 'follow exactly' order (keeping in mind you have to bounce from horde list to alliance list in that follow order.). A little pre-planning before you head out to know where you're going to ride to and fly to will save you a ton of avoidable 'backtracking' time.

Incidentally... I feel bad for the poor Horde. As I was running through the vast emptiness of the Barrens... I realized it would suck to have to have leveled through the Barrens. I also realized that three of the fires the Horde would have to desecrate can only be reached by traveling on an Alliance boat - Dolanaar in Teldrassil and Blood Watch and Azure Watch over by the Exodar.

This is balanced by the hell ride without close flight paths that was Razor Hill in Durotar, Sun's Retreat in Stonetalon, Crossroads in the Barrens, TheTownInTheMiddleOfNowhere in 1k Needles and BloodyHoofSomething in Mulgor.

Since you can't visit the fires a second time, I have to find another way to make blossoms for Boon. The daily quest 'Striking Back' (this is a chain quest, by the way, I recommend starting said chain in Darnassus (or Shattrath). Makes getting to the Zoram Strand much easier.) He's already done the Fire Throwing quests. We shall see. If anyone has any other suggestions on how to get the hell blossoms.. er, Burning Blossoms, lemme know please.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Template Change

The dark dots template was causing some odd link issues where my blog would appear to disappear. Maybe it was just me. But if I can't see my own blog... that just ain't right.

So it's pink.

One day, maybe I'll learn how to make my own nifty template and colors and stuff. Until then.

It's pink.

Deal with it.

Casual Raiding: Zul'Aman

Yet more in my 'casual raiding' line of posts.

To rehash: Knights of Utopia -- small casual raiding guild.
Raiding highlights to date: Almost full Kara clear in 3.5 hours (minus the dragons.)
Individual raiding highlights: A good portion of our active raiders have participated in some way or another in Magtheridon and Gruuls and a small portion of our active raiders have been in SSC, TK and ZA.

The plan: Start progression in Zul'Aman this last Sunday.
The people: Posolutely the warrior tank, Owaru the paladin tank, Boon the paladin healer, Orzag and Kiljara the priest healers, Neshura and Wolfinme the hunters, Ravensfire the rogue, Harikin the mage and try to find one more DPS (preferably a warlock.)

And... we know what happens to the best made plans, right? Posolutely went into ZA, thinking that the reset timer would allow him to go with us on Sunday. Not...

So, Posolutely the warrior tank came as Absitively the warlock. Kiljara the priest came as Kathe the bear tank. And we pulled in a friend of Abs, another paladin healer.

Our plan: 2 hours. 2 bosses.

We almost did it!

We had a few trash pull mishaps, namely on the stairway up to the bear boss, Nalorakk. But we were able to one-shot Nalorakk. (The fact that he's considered the 'easiest' boss of ZA nonwithstanding... we one shotted Nalorakk.)

Kathe tanked the troll phase and Owaru tanked the bear phase. We had one hairy moment (get it, hairy?) when the troll resisted my taunt, but Owaru was able to do something (I dunno what, he's a paladin... it's a mystery to me) and I was able to eke ahead and get its attention.

I had to pop out of bear form and heal a time or two. I had to innervate one of our priests. But when all was said and done, we had a dead Bear Lord. Not a dead bear tank.

The Akil'zon gauntlet had us wipe I think three times before we got the maneuver down pat. (And by this time, the pug healer disconnected (before the gauntlet, but after the Bear Lord)without warning... and yes, the person knew this was a progression raid and wipes were inevitable, and yes, the person knew that regardless of how well we did, it would end at 9pm or after Akil'zon, whichever came first.... so we had Harikin the mage step out and come in as Yorkshire the priest healer, and we grabbed another rogue from our guild to come DPS for us, Gobblez. (Timmay! Gobblez! TIMMAY!))

Alas, we did not get Akil'zon down. Kathe slapped on healing gear and helped keep the raid alive. We were debating whether this dropped us too low on DPS. We were going to swap her out and bring in Kikidas (rawr! Kikidas eat Eagle Lord. *nomnom*.) but we wound up running out of time and had the gauntlet respawn.

On Azil'zon our biggest problem was coordination of the Electrical Storm collapse. Too early and we were getting eaten by Static Disruption. Once we called it too late and someone didn't collapse in time... and guess who the storm was centered over? We also had a bit of a difficult time with the birds. We had our warlock try to dot them up as they flew by. We didn't (and we thought of this afterwards) have the hunters also hit the birds a time or two. Next time...

We got him to about 50% though, and for a small guild that on the WHOLE hasn't ever fought him before... not too shabby, IMNSHO. I think if we hadn't had the gauntlet respawn right around 9pm, we'd have done it. Our best attempt at him was our last attempt at him and it was also the attempt where the collapse didn't happen quite right and the raid got wiped.

By the way -- when you're tossed up in the air, druids can catform once released from the storm and avoid taking any fall damage (even if you're a healer and not a feral druid pretending to be a healer, you get reduced fall damage, so still worth it to shift.)

Now, here's the problem with being a small guild trying this out. I'm going to name our top DPSers (by top DPS, I mean people who consistently come in the top 4 and 700+ DPS average) in the guild, and I want you to pick who you've discovered, by my posts, is actually one of our tank or healer alts!

Ravensfire, Dhark, Neshura, Tasogare, Absitively, Kikidas

That's right! Of those FIVE DPSers, only TWO of them are not usually otherwise occupied in a tank or healing role! Ravensfire and Neshura are the only two of KoU's top DPSers who isn't usually required to fill a healing or tanking role. What this means is that even though if you put all five of us in a run together, put in two tanks, two healers and one other decent DPS, we'd slaughter your world... what it really means is we have two 700+, and a bevy of up and comers who average 400-500.

So likely, we're going to be in Karazhan yet more, getting them the gear and experience. We also need to do Netherspite and Nightbane, since those are coordination-listen to the raid leader call instruction fights, and we need more of that experience for ZA and beyond. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for Kathe, since just about all of her upgrades will come from badges (or PvP)... but it can be frustrating! Especially since we ate the Bear Lord. He's nothing more than a juicy bear burger to us now. (And yes, I had to put a wowhead link in here. Because I can, damnit.)

Off to more fun Alliance PvP with Kathe the Resto/Balance druid! WOoooo... *cry*

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Curse of the Little Guild - Cherry Picking


Cherry Picking is defined as 'selecting the best or most desirable'.

In terms of WoW, and I did look, it isn't listed anywhere as being done by or to guilds. Yet everyone knows what I mean when I say 'a guild is cherrypicking'.

By this I mean that a guild, be it that they know of a good player, or know of a good guild, will target the top level players of that guild and try to recruit them to their guild.

There are a few ways of doing this. Most commonly, it's done when a well known guild has a breakup or drama. This happened to Tranquility. When Tranquility/Innovation broke up, you'd log in and start getting sympathetic /tells from people, 'Oh, I heard the bad news. So sorry about your guild. Need a new home?'.

The other way of doing it is when a few people leave Guild A to go to Guild B. Then some unspecified time later, ex-Guild A people start to give /tells to their friends in Guild A.
'Oh, we're having a great time raiding! What are you guys still doing? Oh. You're still doing Kara. Well, we downed Vashj the other day and we had to shard the awesome piece that dropped. Too bad you weren't there.'

And so on and so on and so on. Maybe Guild B will let GuildieA into one of their raids, so that they can see how awesome they are! 'Wow, you're a really good player, GuildieA. Your gear is so neat too! ... You're still doing Kara? That's a shame.'

Eventually, said person from Guild A may defect to Guild B, wanting what has been teased before them. Which, as I've said repeatedly.. is fine. It's their 15 bucks a month. It's their game too. They can go forward if they want to go forward with bigger and better things.

And keep in mind, one of the hardships of getting through Kara and moving onto ZA or other raids is this very hemorrhage that is occurring by cherry picking. If our best players keep getting sniped... we wind up back in Kara s'more.

The guild being cherry-picked will ask, "Why are you leaving us?" and how can we respond to the accusation of 'I want to see more end-game stuff!'. We aren't there. (We can't get there if everyone keeps leaving, either.) We aren't doing mass-invites, because we have something special with the atmosphere of our guild and we don't want to lose that by simply inviting every tom-dick-and-harry that needs a casual-raiding guild.

What hurts most to the little guilds is that we play together and have what we believe to be friendships. Now. It's a game. I understand that. You understand that. And sometimes the game takes us away from our friends for various things. I did it with Kikidas. She's in a raiding guild. True, I only raid with her on Saturdays and it's always Mags and Gruuls, but there she is. I've seen SSC. I've seen TK. I haven't seen BT. I haven't seen the Sunwell. But I'm still friends with KoU (c'mon, I'm one of their officers.). I don't try to get our top raiders to join Resolve. I don't really ever bring it up. If someone ASKED me if they could get into Resolve, maybe that would be different. But I don't volunteer. I don't say 'Wow, I'm decked out in MADPHATEPIX, why aren't you? You should come play with Resolve!'

I was originally cherry-picked from KoU as Kikidas by Tranquility. At the time, I didn't realize that's what it was. I'm a wiser person today. Would I still have gone? Possibly... I got experience I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. I also realized how much of a drain a high end raiding guild can be on your time and your life. Will I still go if Resolve says 'Hey, Kik, this Saturday we're going to hit a few TK bosses, wanna come?'... YES. But I'm happy with Resolve. I can go on raids if I want to go on raids. They know my name. I can bring other people if spots are available. And they didn't cherry-pick me. I chose them.

As you all know from the previous drama about KoU, we lost a few people to two raiding guilds on our server. And since then, we've had a very slow bleed of people who leave the guild to go elsewhere. Curiously enough, even new people we've recruited and who didn't know the people who left for the two raiding guilds... when they leave... guess where they wind up? Curiously enough, occasionally we'll see our ex-guildies on our ventrilo server, talking to people. Just saying hi? We were friends, after all... or is it something else?

Maybe it's my warlock-paranoia spiking, but I don't think it's mere coincidence that we keep losing players to these guilds. And for people who say that they're our friends, it hurts. Not that people are leaving to go to bigger and better things, or that they say 'I want to see bigger and better things, let me see if the guild where a lot of my friends are in has room.'. It's that they just LEAVE. No words. No 'hey guys, I'm going.'. You just log in and they're gone. And that hurts.

My only hope is that it isn't a deliberate act of cherry picking. Because that would hurt worse.

However, our recent loss of a player that used to say they'd never leave, especially to go to THAT guild... and then they leave without a word to anyone and wind up in THAT guild... ? And then said person gives us one story when we press him by saying, 'Hey, what's up, man? You okay?', and then when repercussions of this latest sniping are felt (by the kicking of all ex-guildies alts from our guild) and we start getting /tells from them along the lines of 'what's going on?'... and we get a whole different story from them than we got from our recent ex-patriate?

The thing is.. if we were a huge guild where people are shuffling in and out all the time... the loss of one or two players wouldn't be a huge deal. However, we're a small, tight-knit guild. When one of our members ups and leaves without a WORD... it hurts. It doesn't merely hurt us as a GUILD, but it hurts us as people. We knew this man. We knew his name, we know that he has kids, that he has dogs, that he has a new puppy, that he has a wife who cooks so awesomely that when he describes the food on ventrilo people start drooling and we had to enact a law that he can't talk about his wife's cooking during raids. And he leaves without a word. And it hurts.

If it's a matter of our raid times are inconvenient... okay, no worries, have fun. But say something. And don't go to a guild that two weeks ago you were saying you'd never join because of how they've cherry-picked people from us in the past. Insult to injury. Salt on the wound. And a dagger to the heart.

Maybe it's melodramatic of me to put it in those terms... but that's what it feels like. All it would have taken ... is a simple, 'Hey guys...'. And it isn't a matter of 'well, no one was on when I left.', people were 1: on, and 2: we have forums where it can be posted privately or publically. The last time this person left to go to a raiding guild, he posted it on the forums so there would be no doubt. No drama. No misunderstandings.

I suppose this is more of a griping/venting blog rather than a blog about the joys of cherry-picking. But it's my blog. I can bitch if I want to.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kvasira Update - aka Retribution Paladin kicks ass!

The other night I was playing Kvasira in an instance. Yes. A retribution paladin DPSing in an instance. Try not to fall over in shock. It happens.

My damage done was equivalent to a BM hunter one level lower than I was and my DPS was roughly 300. And according to the hunter, I was outdamaging him on boss fights.

I'm jiggling a bit with my rotation on fights. For the MOST part, I ignore consecration, it being a little too mana heavy for my taste. Maybe it will up my DPS that little bit more, but if it's a longer or tougher fight, my mana is required elsewhere... like judging, crusader striking, dispelling and the occasional healing.

I've learned to WAIT to judge Crusader, due to improved judgement, the mana return will net me immediate aggro from the tank. I make sure my seal is on and I go in and whack the mob with my sword. I open up with a crusader strike and THEN judge Crusader and apply Seal of Command.

I have a macro that I use that judges and reapplies seal of command at the same time. This works well enough for me soloing because I'm a tad forgetful sometimes of reapplying seal of command, but the global cooldown sometimes means that I CAN judge command but not be able to reapply seal of command. A swing timer is rather important as well, since you want to make sure that Seal of Command is up as much as possible when you're about to swing your bigass two hander at the mob.

The most important thing.. is Crusader Strike whenever possible.

In a 'normal' fight (instance) where I don't have to cleanse or heal, my mana pool, albeit low, is enough for me. I immediately pop a drink so I stay as far up in mana as I can be, in case we got a 'not-normal' fight.

If I start to get low on mana, or a fight where I have to start cleansing or offhealing, I judge crusader (or wisdom, depending on where the boss is in terms of health when I would switch judgements) and will often just leave seal of command on, judging only when the seal is about to expire. Crusader strike when it's up. And usually that'll do for it. If the mob or boss is pretty high on life and I'm pretty low on mana, thats when I'll sometimes judge wisdom. Honestly though, considering that I'm using a big slow twohander, I don't HIT it enough to get that much mana back. Based on that, I usually just leave crusader on it.

My personal blessing is Blessing of Wisdom, not Might. (I don't have Kings yet.) Unless I need salvation, which sometimes... I will. Paladin DPS is spike damage. When every 6 seconds you have the potential to hit the mob for 1k damage... yikes. Keep your bubble handy. :P

However... Kvasira is so much fun to play. Love. Love. Love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Theorycraft: Normal Dungeon Chest Pieces

I'm impressed with myself. And I'm going to try that whole wowhead thing. We'll see how that goes.

So, I've been thinking about how my posts are usually fluff... semi-amusing fluff, but fluff. Nothing solid behind what I say.

So I thought to myself... I'd like to do something informative. Something useful. Something neat.

I started to write a list of all the gear you can get in regular dungeons that can get you into heroics and Karazhan... and realized if I tried that, I'd be here until the world ended.

So I narrowed it down a little bit. Chest pieces.

Chest pieces are what most people see the most of, especially with a robe. How cool it looks, how uncool it looks, omg that guy is wearing a dress, how is this in any way protective, etc. It's an important piece, and given its relative importance in the whole covering the body thing, it isn't surprising that the chestpiece usually is a piece that tends to have higher armor, bigger stats and more fun things associated with it than say... your belt.

So. My solid stats. (All information obtained through WoWWiki.com)
1 Stamina = 10 health
1 Intellect = 15 mana
Crit Rating = Intellect/82 + crit rating/22.08 + 1.701 (warlock specific, sorry other classes.)
1 Crit % = 22.1 Crit Rating
1 Hit % = 12.6 Hit Rating
1% Hit = 1% Dmg
1% Crit = 0.5% Dmg
%Dmg = %Hit + %Crit/5
(I also looked at base damage of the item with the %dmg it gives.. but meh. Too much theorycraft and I'll explode. Be happy with what I give you.)

(Int also plays a role in spirit-based mana regen. But as a warlock, we don't have to worry about mana regen. That's what Dark Pact and Life Tap are for.)

(I actually MADE a spreadsheet. But again with the computer illiterate, I have no idea how to post it. Besides, it's an ugly bare-bones spreadsheet.)

There are FIVE robes that fall between the usable levels of 68-70 from a NON-HEROIC dungeon.

As I don't know how to insert a table or anything nifty like that... you'll just have to bear with me.

Summary: Warp Infused Drape and the Vermillion Robes of the Dominant are the two top contenders (ignoring the Oblivion Rainment set bonus).

Warp Infused Drape, obtained through Botanica off of Warp-Splinter provides the following:
270 Health
420 Mana
0.95% Hit
0.09% Crit
0.99% Dmg
3 Sockets (Red/Blue/Yellow)

The socket availability makes the Warp Infused Drape the better of the two robes, since you can stack additional +hit. If you put in 3 Great Dawnstone it changes the stats to the following:
2.8% Hit
2.99% Dmg

Vermillion Robes of the Dominant, obtained through Steamvaults off of Warlord Kalithresh provides the following:
370 Health
495 Mana
0.95% Hit
0.09% Crit
0.99% Dmg

Our other contenders are the BoP trash-drop robe Bloodfyre Robe of Annihilation and the two BoP boss-drop robes Robe of Oblivion and Incanter's Robe. The latter two BoP robes are part of the dungeon sets for warlocks and mages, respectively.

Bloodfyre Robes of Annihilation is a Bind on Pickup robe ... that depending on where you look up the information, changes where it's from. Wowhead lists it as dropping from Sunfire Astromage's in the Mechanar. Allakhazam lists it both as dropping from Mechano-Lord Capacitus and the Cache of the Legion (which is impossible!). My memory tells me it's an item that you can find in chests in the Steamvaults.

Wherever it's from ... it provides the following:
270 Health
405 Mana
0.09% Crit
0.04% Dmg
0% Hit

Robe of Oblivion drops off of Murmur in the Shadow Labyrinth and provides the following:
300 Health
300 Mana
0.08% Crit
0.04% Dmg
0% Hit
3 Sockets (Red/Blue/Yellow)

Again, adding in 3 Great Dawnstone will increase the stats on this item! Which is nice.
1.9% Hit
0.08% Crit
1.9% Dmg

Of note is that the Robe of Oblivion does provide some nice set bonuses with the Oblivion Rainment.
2 pieces provide your pet with 45 Mp5. This is not a bad thing to have if you use Dark Pact a lot as your warlock, though it's of lesser importance if you tend to sacrifice your pet.
4 pieces provides your Seed of Corruption to do an addition 180 damage upon explosion. Which is damn nice. But honestly, most of us aren't running around in 4/5 of our Dungeon set.

Incanter's Robe drops off of Warp Splinter in Botanica and provides the following:
240 Health
330 Mana
0.1% Crit
0.05% Dmg
0% Spell Hit
3 Sockets (Yellow/Yellow/Red)

With 3 Great Dawnstone
1.9% Hit
0.1% Crit
1.9% Dmg

Of note is that this is considered the Mage dungeon set, so if there is a mage in your party, please be polite and let them have their dungeon set.

The other options are obviously the crafted pieces.
Imbued Netherweave Robe gives 420 Health and Mana, 0.9% Crit and 0.4% Dmg

Frozen Shadoweave Robe is obviously not for Fire locks, but usually considered the gear to use for all other shadow-based warlocks. And with all things, talking about Great Dawnstones for the sockets. This would give 300 Health and Mana, 1.26% Hit, 0.88% Crit, 1.31% Damage.

Spellfire Robe is obviously ONLY for Fire locks. This would give (with Great Dawnstones) 255 Mana, 1.26% Hit, 0.14% Crit and 1.34% Damage.

Now... you must MUST keep in mind that these are isolated stats for individual items. You have a ton of gear that all contributes to what you're doing and wearing and your stats. On paper, like this, the Frozen Shadoweave Robe comes off looking worse than the Robe of Oblivion, but we all know that OVERALL... the FSW set kicks ass, especially when combined with the Spellstrike set.

Take this information as you will. But if you're looking for a single item upgrade that's from a normal dungeon, I'd recommend hitting Botanica and trying for the Warp Infused Drape. Any of these robes are nice and will serve you well. (And for 'wow, that's evil looking!' factor, the Vermillion Robes of the Dominant win, hands down.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Early Karazhan Gear and Misconceptions

I have this horrible preconception of certain things about raiding. I know it's wrong and I attempt to overcome it whenever possible.

Since the only time I ever really paid attention to Kiki's stats was when I was raiding TK and SSC... I've come to the notion that all raiders need those stats. That's what I did! That's what YOU should do too!

And I would be ... mistaken. (Not wrong, for I am never wrong.)

But one thing I am firmly against is 'gearing for Karazhan within Karazhan'. It caused problems, it will cause problems and it's generally a bad idea. (And it only works for DPS, unless your second rate healer/tank is partnered with a uber healer/tank that can pick up their slack, but generally, poor DPS is carry-able whereas a poor healer or tank is not.)

However, this doesn't mean that you have to run heroic after heroic after heroic after heroic after heroic to get all epics and badge gear before you ever step foot within Karazhan!

What this does mean is that you WILL have to run certain instances to get dropped gear, or you WILL have to craft gear, or you WILL have to get rep to get rep items, or you WILL have to PvP to get some needed hole in gear (damn you, druid tank shoulders! Damn you!) or you WILL have to buy gear. If you're an instance-hog, omg there are so many drops available to you to get you where you need to be. If you like heroics, please, do some. If you're a crafter, make whatever set is spec-appropriate for yourself. Etc. Etc. Ad Nauseum.

(If I could get Abs to show me how to do the wowhead links, like he promised, I've got some ideas for blogs I could write! But alas, alas, I cannot and he won't... *sob*)

Now, in order to be a successful run, REGARDLESS of the color of your gear, you need to have a certain amount of numbers. You can find a rogue in all purples that can't hit the broad side of a barn outside of PvP. This is because PvP attack gear is usually NOT what you want in PvE settings... and getting PvPers to understand this is sometimes related to banging your head against a wall repeatedly, while wishing it was THEIR head you were banging against a wall repeatedly. PvP attack gear usually doesn't have +hit or +spell hit on it, because in PvP, that isn't as important as attack power and crit rating and penetration and all that fun stuff I know next to nothing about. I don't care if you have 1 trillion attack power... it's useless if you can't hit your target.

Seriously, if you doubt the words that I say, get yourself a damage meter and play with it the next time you're in an instance or heroic or whatever. (not applicable against normal mobs, because normal mobs don't have the stats an instance or raid boss will have) And see. We've had someone in our group with amazing purple gear, he looked awesome. He had infinite cosmic attack power. And he was behind in DPS against two non-epixd players. Because his hit rating was through the floor.

Or you're a tank but you're stacking stamina instead of uncrittability, or ... I could go on.

But I digress!

(As you knew I would, so don't act all surprised.)

Here is a link to the recommended starting numbers for a Karazhan run. They aren't that hard to reach. And depending on how much leeway you're willing to give people, some of those numbers are fudgable, with buffs, kings, gotw, etc.

The other big thing that will help in your early runs is making sure everyone knows the pulls. You can find guides galore out there that discuss the strategy for the trash pulls and the bosses. There are probably as many different ways of doing those fights as there are ... uh, fingers on a hand. (I was going to say sand on a beach, but there probably aren't QUITE as many as that.) So just pick one that works for your particular group setup and run with it.

And above all.. have fun. It's a game.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Change is scary...

But sometimes necessary. I'm going to be hounding Absitively to help me make my blog look pretty.

*stupid computer people. hate. loathe. abhor.*

In other news... played my restoration shaman a little bit last night. It's nice to be able to DPS and heal.

See, my altisms is bad enough that if you look at the sidebar, you can see how many alts I have. If you can count (and given the age of the internet, that is not an assumption one can make anymore, unfortunately) you can see that I have 9 alts. There are 10 character spots available. With my level of altisms, I hear you wonder... where is that 10th alt?

It's being saved, damnit. I have enough self-control to leave that spot as a name-holder for my death knight when the expansion comes out.

What I don't have is the self-control to NOT level my existing characters. However, I made a promise to my husband. I'm running out of things to play with him! By a lot. So... I can't level any of my characters without his, since all three of my lowbies are paired with one of his characters.

*whine*

So instead.. what I will be doing is trying to PvP my way to a set of shoulders with Kathe. I have been informed reliably that the best way for someone who sucks at PvP combat to go... is to go in as a healer. And unless I get the T4 shoulders, that would be my best upgrade possible. Right now, I'm using these and I don't like the fact that I can't find better purples in a heroic or badge vendor.

(And for those interested, I went ahead and bought the badge belt. It's better than the heroic and feh, I was tired of Hellfire Ramparts anyway.)

So yesterday I slapped on my set of patch-work healer gear, did NOT respec since I have to research some of that before I go spend lots of gold, and went into an AB. We lost (We're Alliance... we always lose), but I was 5th on healing (4th Alliance), got 11 honor kills (though I killed no one directly) and didn't have too bad of a time. Healing is so much less stressful than trying to kill people who are better at PvP than I am.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Creating Guild Bonds

One of the big reasons someone leaves a guild is that they feel no connection to the people they are guilded with. One of the big reasons someone stays with a guild that may otherwise not be happy with are the people who are also in that guild with them.

Your personal connections to the guild isn't with the GUILD. It's with the people who are in that guild. A guild is just a name and a tabard. Sometimes an ugly tabard. Sometimes a stupid name. ("the knights of assassination" spring to mind... no, I am not kidding. There is a guild on my server named "the knights of assassination".)

With Knights of Utopia having the issues and troubles it has had recently, the guild leader looked at Boon and myself for some suggestions. Boon and myself had a small, family guild that we 1: never had anyone leave to go to a different guild (one exception and that was because he wanted to raid and we didn't raid.) and 2: people who were apart of it still refer to themselves as GK's (Guardian Knights) and still keep in touch with Boon and myself when they see us.

The reason it disbanded was that it was very small and that most of our members fell off the game and into real life, or during the Alleria queue-hell, went to different servers to play while Boon and I sat through 45 minute to an hour queue lines to get onto our server.

But the Guardian Knights was a quasi-Roleplaying guild and we did guild events. We held celebrations. We did games. We did events. And we were a close bunch of friends.

Now, it's something of a fact that the bigger the guild, the more you'll have people who aren't part of the leadership-clique. There are only so many instances that my character can be in, for example. And chances are, several of those spots will be taken up by the people who are already my friends (or my husband). This leaves very little chance for some new people or even some veterans that I don't get to play with... to get to know me. To get to hang out with me and do stuff with me.

And that destroys guild bonds. If you're in a guild and you want to instance with me, but I'm always in an instance with someone else... well, you get tired of waiting to instance with me and you do it with a PuG. And if you're instancing with a PuG... why are you even in a guild? And people leave.

There's no way around it. I can't be in ten instances at once. I just don't have the time! (And in this instance, I'm not being ... me. That 'I' is a symbolic 'I' to represent all the guild leaders and 'in' people in a guild. The awesome healer. The kickass tank. The funny guy that makes any run a lesson in hilarity.)

One of the things that the GK did that we're moving to KoU are things I call Guild Event Days. There are others, but I'm going to talk about Guild Event Days now.

It's a day when everyone gets together at some predetermined spot to do some predetermined thing. It can be anything your little imagination comes up with! The goal is to have fun and get people talking and doing things with guild members.

There are two types of Guild Events.
1. Benefit the Guild
2. Just for Fun

Type 1 is what I call Bank Events. You do still try to make it fun and exciting and rewarding for your guild members, but the primary goal is to fill your guild bank with gold, items, etc. It can be a competition. The rationale behind this is that unless you're the type of person who is just really generous or whom hates doing any sort of Auction Housing and so gives the guild bank any item that isn't crap... most people don't donate to the guild bank. They don't give it money (why should you give the guild money... when you need it!), or items or mats.

But the guild bank is there for them too. We offer people 1/2 price AH on all items, crafting materials, gems, primals, etc. But we can't do that if we don't have the items or the recipes or the whatever!

So, our first bank day was a killing spree in Blades Edge Mountains. EVERYTHING gets turned in. Scraps of leather, potions, scrolls, herbs, nodes, gold, cloth, items. Everything. The person who turned in the most cloth got 10% of the gold intake.

(And so you guys know the scope of what I'm talking about... we had 10 people. 1 hour. 300g in just gold turned in. That is not counting cloth, items, etc. Just gold. The winner, for an hour of work, got 30g. And while, yes... you can spend that hour and get much more doing dailies and the like... this method helps out the guild, too. And doesn't that feel good?)

The officer in charge of the bank then takes those items and decides: what the item is, is it worth keeping or selling? Is it a crafting material? Is it a blue BoE item? Is it a disenchantable green or an AHing green? And ALL that money that he makes from those items goes into the guild bank as well.

And don't you feel good?

(Our next bank event is going to involve two teams. Team Netherstorm and Team Shadowmoon Valley. Keep in mind if you have a lot of lowbies in you guild, you may need to make this event in a location that they can handle. Turn-ins don't always have to be cloth. It can be the number of Squashed Rabbit Carcasses you turn in!)

Guild Event type 2 is a for fun, shits, giggles, you don't donate anything other than the time for the event. We recently (as of yesterday) had one of these.

It was Hide and Seek-Tag in Darnassus. If you were on Alleria and noticed a whole bunch of naked-except-for-guild-tabard people running around... in bright orange tabards. That was us.

The rules? Hide and Seek. Stay within the boundaries of Darnassus. One person started out as the tagger. If you got tagged, you had to go tag someone else. (No tag-backs!) (We played with 3 tags and you're out, but we're going to lower that number... waaaaay too many people were waaaay too good at hiding! That or start out with a hunter as the primary tagger. A paladin just can't find people well enough!) The last person standing, so to speak, won. We had THREE winners. We could NOT find them. (They cheated, that's the only possible explanation!) Eventually we had everyone EXCEPT the three of them looking for them. We just could not find them!)

Lots of trash talk happened on ventrilo and in guild chat. But no one would take my bet about the first person to be tagged out. Which is sad, because I would have lost and someone could have made an easy 5g.

The winners got pets. Nothing fancy or special. A Great Horned Owl, a Hawk Owl and a Siamese Cat were the winning pets.

But it was fun. We had 11 or 12 people playing. General chat was full of: WTB Location of Teppou. PST. and other such things. (By the way, ratting out your fellow guildy if you spotted them ... perfectly acceptable!!)

It needs a little tweaking. But it was great anyway. 12 or so people in ventrilo, doing something that doesn't involve dying (unless you fell off the waterfall...) or stress or anything other than going 'Damnit! You found me!'

By the way, Darnassus is probably the best city for hide'n'seek. The other cities are too crowded, too laggy, too many people and places to hide. Darnassus is nice and open, with plenty of hiding places, but not so many as to make it impossible.

Anyway... guild bonds. Create them!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Casual Raiding: Progression!

Thank you, Frijona, for giving me the proverbial smack upside the head and saying "Quit whining, you're a warlock. Start acting like it!". Okay, that isn't really what she said. But thank you.

(It really involved Unstable Affliction, Deathcoil and her Succubus.)

(And the Black Mageweave set.)

(And the Admiral's Hat.)

(Don't ask.)

Last month I regaled you all with the drama that was Knights of Utopia and our big blowup regarding being a casual guild that wanted to raid.

But then I digressed wildly and only tossed a post here and there about how we were doing. And for those of you who hang on my every word the torment of not knowing how KoU is doing must have been torture.

(Maybe I shouldn't finish this post...)

I talked last time about instigating a set of strict rules. You must have this, this, this and this or you just don't go. And we've stuck to it, though at times it was hard. I think we're the only guild ever that always has tanks and healers, but cannot find DPS. We typically PuG at least two members and if you haven't ever tried to wade through the substandard DPS that tries to get into Karazhan... I hope you never have to. It's a hideous hassle of finding someone, looking at their armory, then trying to explain politely that they don't meet your guild's minimum stats. Especially when the answer is 'w/e'.

But, the short of it is that every single week since the guild blow up, we have hit Kara running. We clear from Attumen to Prince in about 3 to 4 hours. (only twice has it gone over 4 hours, and only once did we have to two-day it.)

(And I know that Prince isn't supposed to be a stationary fight. But we usually do it that way. There's an interesting discussion on strategies that various people use in BBB's blog recently. Considering that this last run we had THREE hideous placements of infernals (they bracketed the tank all three times), we were discussing possibly trying something different (scary! change is bad.) next time... namely the way the fight is supposed to work. Mobile.)

We do not do Nightbane and Netherspite but we are interested in attempting it. Basically we don't due to time issues. As I've said before, we have people in our guild who have babies and jobs and other things that prevent us from raiding more than maybe one day a week.

But we're hitting that stage where with a few exceptions and a few specific items, we're considering Kara as a farm status place. We go in. We come out with 18 badges and some void crystals.

(And this last run Ritssyn's Lost Pendant dropped but I was the only warlock (and I have it) and our holy priest was the only priest (and he didn't want it!). I refused to DE it. As I was the loot master, I just handed it to the holy priest, over his protests. You can't DE that! You just can't! It makes shadow priests and warlocks everywhere make the sound of ultimate suffering.)

Our next goal, as requested by our 'regulars', and as dictated by the interest of not burning out our raiders, is to start hitting ZA.

Now... here's where I expect trouble. You have a group of people that, with few exceptions, one-shots Karazhan on a weekly basis. Suddenly you go into progression mode. Even with people who have been there before, suddenly it's all new. Harder trash. Harder bosses. More strategy. And wipes. Wipe wipe wipe. I expect it. The raid leader expects it. The guild leader expects it. And theorhetically, the raid will expect it too (because we'll make sure they know this is progression. And progression = death.). Suddenly we're wiping on trash. We can't get a single boss down. We suck, OMG! /gquit!

(I don't expect any of our regulars to /gquit. I'm being an exaggerating overreacting blogger!)

Our way of combating this?
Allowing repairs from the guild bank on progression nights (to an extent). (Who minds wiping when your repair bill will be covered?)
Limiting our ZA experience, regardless of success or failure, to 2 hours only. (This way, we don't start getting sloppy and frustrated, which usually leads to more death.)
Making sure all people who sign up from our guild to go read a posted-linked strategy guide and meet our minimum requirements.

We won't be able to PuG anyone for this, likely. (Would YOU join a ZA Progression run? Where you aren't guaranteed to even down a single boss?) So we have to pull in all our people if possible, or find a few very nice and understanding people from our fiends list who are willing to help us progress.

In terms of that, we have gotten three very nice invitee's in the last week. One is a lowish (mid50's now!) paladin tank (Veliuona) that I met while in ZF with my arcane-mage. Two are people we pugged for this last Saturday's Kara run. Gobblez the rogue (and the South Park jokes were rampant.) and Siiro the hunter. Both of them dropped their guild and joined ours. Isn't that sweet? Both of them were informed that Kara is just a once a week thing and we're a casual guild, with minimal raiding. Both seemed fine with that.

But again, digression is inevitable. I mean progression is inevitable! We're moving on. We have the DPS. We have the healers. We have the tanks. Now we just need to get all 10 of them on at the same time!

In terms of Gruul and Magtheridon... Kikidas is in a guild that does those two 25-mans every Saturday. They PuG (in terms of friends lists and their parent guild) over half of the run. My intention is to eventually start bringing some of KoU's people into those runs (if Resolve is okay with that!) Their only stipulation is that the people who come don't suck entirely and that they fit in the roles that are still open. Naturally, guilded and friends come before the new-guildies alt-guild friends.

On an aside... you'd be surprised how in an otherwise well run raid, you can carry one or two sucks along and still do really well. Of course, this is because a certain number of people who are there are so overgeared for the place it's laughable, but still... impressive.

So, to recap: KoU has been doing smashingly. We are looking for a guild with similar experience (Most of Kara, starting ZA, interested in Gruul/Mag but don't have the numbers.) and similar goals (casual raiding, once or maybe twice a week.) to what our experience and goals are and who may be interested in an alliance. It's easier to get going when you don't have to wade through LFG to find those last few people. And with more people to pick from, an allied tank or healer, it allows us to start bringing in a few of our alts we don't normally get to! Bonus.

Casual raiding is WORKING for us. We finally found a core group of people who are on the same page. Casual is great, but when we raid, we're RAIDING. RAWR.

(And damn you, Hellfire Ramparts. I WANT MY BELT.)

(And since you've been confused the last ten times I've been in there, I'm not talking about the Lion's Heart Girdle, I'm talking about the Tree-Mender's Belt. One is plate. The other is leather. Get it straight already! I've been in there so often, that with 3 badges per run I'm almost ready to get the badge-reward belt at 60 badges! Which I'd really rather use to upgrade some other piece of gear rather than something I can upgrade through a heroic.)