Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Curator... Dead! Check Mate!

This is a couple of days late, but my guild managed to down both The Curator and fight our way to the Chess event on Monday night. Yay for us!

We had cleared Moroes, Opera, and Maiden on Sunday and that left us a quick kill of Attumen and then into the side door for our run to The Curator. Attumen went down like the sissy he's become and we regrouped (a few people swapping alts for mains) at the back door. The trash to Curator was downed pretty quickly, and we made our first attempt.

We were doing significantly better on this attempt than in the previous week and were keeping up with the flares pretty well. We were still marginal on DPS, though. Our shadow priest was complaining that his big hitting spells had too much cast time and his DoTs not enough time to run. We got to the 4th Evocation or so, and started to have healers running low or out of mana and it resulted in a wipe. An "improved wipe", but still no sparklies.

A couple of members decided to swap characters. Our shadow priest went to his hunter and our holy paladin went to his shaman. This appeared to make all the difference. The extra hunter DPS on the flares -- and the pet -- allowed us to down the flares in that magical 8-9 second window and we were able to put the 10th one down in time to get DPS on The Curator during Evocation. The shaman has those great totems and nice chain healing ability to keep up with flare damage. On the first Evocation, we dropped him to about 66% -- right on schedule -- and went back to killing flares. Most of what we'd read/heard indicated that he should drop somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd Evocation. Second Evocation went well, too. No deaths to this point and he was down around 35%. Back to flares and we continued to time these well. On the 3rd Evocate, we really poured it on, and got him below the enrage point before he came out. Yay... no more flares and just DPS the snot out of him. He went down. No one in our group did. We went from smashing our faces into him a week ago, to smashing his face with no deaths. Cheers for us!

As luck would have it, [Garona's Signet Ring] and the Paladin/Rogue/Shaman T4 Glove token dropped. Our holy paladin was bummed out, having missed the drop since he swapped characters, but at least he was on his Shaman. The protection paladin won the roll anyway, and -- as luck would have it -- I won the roll on the ring. Uh oh... that's two epics in two nights. Should I have not rolled? My assumption was that since everyone from "night one" had gotten either an item or a purple shard and that the loot was "reset". After further discussion this week in our guild forums, no one seemed upset with me and it was a fairly nice upgrade from the blue ring I was sporting.

As many guilds/groups find... the trash leading into the Chess Event area is -- as my guildmate put it -- "soul destroying". There were a few complaints but we managed to get through it. We suffered one wipe very near the end when line-of-sight got us through a doorway. Other than taking a lot of time and our raid leader losing his notes on the mobs and their charms, things went well albeit slowly. On a Monday night with The Curator down, no one was willing to give up until we got our "free loot" at Chess.

The Chess Event took us two tries while everyone figured out how to move and fight, but the second time was easy, even if Medivh did cheat... twice? The chest was opened and wouldn't you know it... more hunter loot. The [Fiend Slayer Boots] and [Ring of Recurrence] dropped. I was sure the other hunter in the group was going to roll on the boots, but as the timer ticked down for disenchant, the other guy indicated that he had better boots in his PVP reward item. I rolled. I was still wearing -- on-and-off -- either a blue or a green pair, and these were clearly an upgrade, even un-enchanted and un-socketed. Holy cow! Three epics in two nights.

I was tired and feeling a little guilty the next morning, but after 'splaining myself in our guild forums, no one seemed fazed. I have nearly perfect attendance for raid nights and since I'm gearing up and growing DPS, there's no reason for items to be DE'd. So... I'm up to 6 Karazhan epics and really noticing the improved damage output. I still have to get gems and enchants on the boots and enchant my spear (still trying to decide whether to enchant my [Sonic Spear] or my Thrallmar rep one).

Anyone out there with thoughts? :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

I think my guildmates are getting mad...

Not really... but am I hearing a few more, "Damn, more hunter loot" comments over TeamSpeak. Last week, I was along for my first (guild second) completion of the Opera event in Karazhan. We downed Romulo and Julianne and I ended up with [Romulo's Poison Vial]. Still deciding whether it's worth the trinket slot, but no one else seemed to want it and I didn't want to see it DE'd. We use a simple /roll system, so no DKP to be spent. The guild would rather see the same person get 5 items a run (if they're upgrades) than see things turned into shards, so it's all good.

This week, we had another good run. Dropped Moroes on the first attempt. My lag was horrible, and my framerates not much better for some reason (too many addons?), and I died about 30 seconds into the fight. Not even sure what killed me as I never saw it. Thankfully, I had done my trap duty before I took a dirt nap, so....

On we went to Opera, and got the Big Bad Wolf for the first time. People seemed a bit unprepared for the Little Red Riding Hoof (LRRH) debuff, so we had 2 wipes, but managed to get him down on the third attempt, albeit with only half of us still standing.

Quick Hunter Tips:

1. You can Feign Death when you get the LRRH debuff. Trick is to stay "dead" until it wears off. It can also be resisted, so pay attention.
2. The same person can get the LRRH debuff twice in a row. As a hunter, if this happens to you, you'd better run, because your Feign cooldown will not be up.
3. (General Tip) Don't rub against the walls or the props. It will slow you down and may let him catch and eat you.

Back to our story. So we resurrect everyone and loot the wolf and [Big Bad Wolf's Paw] *and* [Beastmaw Pauldrons] drop.

Thankfully it wasn't the [Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle] and the shoulders, or I think I would have been excommunicated. I took the shoulders and the rogues fought over the paw. It's not a dedicated Hunter item, but could be an upgrade for some with a decent off-hand. I don't really like dual-wielding (yet). When they release the +20 Agility enchant, I might change my mind, but right now I think the RAP and general stats you get from the 2-handers -- particularly polearms -- are much better than dual wielding.

We were running out of time for the night, so we backtracked to Maiden and killed her for fun, although she did get us once too. :) (Unlucky bit that. Our priest got hit with Holy Fire *just* at the wrong moment.) Amazing how hard that fight seemed just a month ago, and now that we've gotten the dance down, she's almost what I would consider "farm" status.

Tonight, we're going to tackle Attumen quickly for access to the blacksmith and then smash our faces against the Curator for another 90 minutes or so. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kara key for warlock: Check!

My guildmates were nice enough to run my warlock through both CoT:Durnholde and CoT:Black Morass is pretty short order last night and I got my second Karazhan key. We don't currently have a "regular" warlock in our Karazhan groups, so this'll give us options when encountering certain bosses or even when clearing trash.

Durnholde was a piece of cake. We were kind of overpowered for it, but did have a 68 along. Feral druid, Holy paladin, Frost mage and two warlocks made pretty short work of it. I had already done this instance once on my warlock, but had missed talking to Thrall and my questline didn't advance. Grrr.... Drops were less than stellar for our group, including *2* leather shoulders that the Druid didn't want/need and a mail Shaman item. Would be nice if they could weight the loot tables a *little* more towards the group, but I guess it could be argued that the leather drops were appropriate. But two shoulders?

Black Morass also turned out to be easy. Our 68 Warlock had to leave, but another guildmate (the GM, actually) stepped up after having just run BM with *another* group in the guild doing it for keying.

NOTE: WOOT! to the guild for having two simultaneous 5-mans going. (I told you we were kind of small... but feisty! :D)

He brought along his 70 Warlock, so we had gobs of DPS. The GM took the adds and the rest of us smacked the hell out of the Rift Keepers. Didn't really even have any close calls -- death-wise -- until the last boss. The second -- and usually most difficult -- went down easily. The tank managed to lose the stacking debuff, and after that it was simple. We lost the 2nd 'lock on the last boss. Think he pulled agro and couldn't get the big ol' dragon off him soon enough. Might've been a Time Stop in there, too, preventing a heal. We had to 4-man him down from about 75%, but it still was relatively simple. Slower, but simple.

Got a nice pair of shoulders (although too small on my Orc) that's apparently a re-colored Tier 2 item. I got the robe from Steamvault the previous night, so I'm looking a little less like a color-blind pimp and a little more "cool". Rest of the drops ended up DE'd, too, including some nice tanking pants and a sword. Bear tanks don't like plate.

Black Morass is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of places. I have to admit I waffle myself. When I complete it successfully, it's damn fun. When you wipe or it bugs out -- like it did to "Team 1" last night -- it's incredibly frustrating. Last night was fun.

N.B. Picture of Medivh -- as "The Prophet" -- from WoWWiki and Warcraft III, I think, for my one (and only, currently) commenter. Enjoy. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Closer to 2nd Karazhan key...

My guildmates were nice enough to lead my warlock into Steamvaults last night to get the last key part that I needed. Good (not great) run. We had problems with double "pack" pulls on two occasions. Not really anyone's fault. LoS and other issues in there make pulling not that much fun. After that, though, things went great. We got the key and then decided to keep going. First two bosses were one-shot, but we had to take a second attempt on the last boss. He's a pain and a bit of a dance routine with the tank (the good one) and the tanks (the bad ones). Our paladin sort of pathed the boss in front of the fishtank on the first attempt and made it hard for us to target it, which resulted in us *not* destroying the tank, which results (almost always) in the tank dying to the enraged/buffed boss. Wipe. Second try was much better and everything went as planned. Silly Beast Lord item dropped, while I was on my warlock, of course. Luckily, I already had that piece on Annai. The shadow priest with the alt-hunter was less pleased, as he had never even seen a Beast Lord item.

Anyway... on to Caverns of Time. I need to re-do Durnholde, unfortunately, since I messed up the first time and let someone else talk to Thrall thinking that would advance my questline. Duh. Then it's on to the "fun" of Black Morass. Actually... given the gear levels of most of the people in my guild capable of helping with a Black Morass run, it should be a piece of cake. Famous last words....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This curator is equipped for gallery protection... SHUT UP!

Grrr... stupid Curator. We're a casual guild and don't have several hours each night we schedule raids (currently Sunday and Monday) to beat our head against a single boss over and over again. We try to limit runs to 2 hours -- sometimes a bit more.

This past weekend, we had a great run into Karazhan.

On Saturday, we decided to attempt to make a beeline for the Curator, so we hit Moroes first. One shot. Woot! We head for Opera next. Now... my guild has taken down Opera once without me, so it's not exactly a guild first, but damned if we didn't one-shot Romulo and Julianne, too. (It's our second week in a row getting this event.) It's the first time I had seen them die. I had my fingers crossed for the Beastmaw Pauldrons, but they didn't drop. Instead, Romulo's Poison Vial did. There was some chatter on TeamSpeak about this being a great DPS trinket. My +Hit was already pretty good, but I figured I'd roll on it. The only other melee/ranged DPS class in the group was the rogue, and he had already gotten the dagger from Moroes. Didn't do the casters any good. I didn't figure the tanks would want a trinket like that, so...

/roll 100
Annai rolls a 100

LOL! I am -- without a doubt -- the worst roller in WoW. Every time something comes up that I *really* want, I typically roll in the single digits. PUGs along for the ride with 8-9+ of *my* guild members have gotten both the crossbow and wrists from Attumen ahead of me in Kara. Random numbers hate me. Anyway... I wasn't even sure I *wanted* the item, but felt I should roll anyway. OF COURSE I BLOW A 100 ROLL ON THAT! I felt bad because even if someone else *did* want to roll, it's kind of useless to roll against that.

After reading up on the item, I'm not sure it's that great -- reviews are mixed -- but it did give me a 2+% DPS boost on the last Maiden fight (more later). At least that's what Recount said. So... I'll probably continue to use it until something better drops.

So... wonder of wonders. Both lead-ins to The Curator are down and it's only an hour into the run. We ran through the now open stage door, heading through the remainder of the Opera Hall area and on to the Broken Stair area. Got to the pre-Curator pulls and did mostly fine with them. And... there he was....

...and we wiped. Spectacularly. Didn't even see the first Evocation on the first attempt. The flares were murdering us. We tried twice, I think, and were stuck with some re-spawns and some guild members who needed to log.

No problem... we've got another *whole night* to try him out. The next night, we cleared the first trash mobs up to him and gave it three more tries. We got slightly better each time, but on each attempt, we had lost at least one raid member before the first Evocation and we weren't keeping up with the flares so not getting in damage during the Evocations. A few different strats were tried, but my thinking is that we didn't have enough class diversity. No warlock. No druid. No shaman. We were missing some buffs and potential tools there.

So as not to make the evening end on a bad note, we decided to back-track to Attumen and maybe Maiden. Attumen went down like a ton of bricks and dropped a couple of upgrades. The good thing for us is that people still need some things from him, so it's not just a rep kill. We lost the other hunter, but decided to press on to Maiden. I've only seen her go down once, and would you believe we actually one-shotted her, too, with 9 people. Pretty scary for our little band of casual misfits. :)

WUU! Wuuhuu!

Neither of my computers are exactly speed demons. A 4+ year old desktop and a nearly 2-year-old laptop. As such, I don't run a ton of mods in WoW.

That said, keeping them up-to-date and running -- on two systems -- even when Blizzard is not particularly speedy with updates and patches is a royal pain in the can. I tried several weeks ago to use WoWAceUpdater (WAU).

The first problem was that at the time, everyone was up in arms because they had added an advertising image linker to their updater. That... and I couldn't get the foolish thing to run. It would start, but not get out to the inner-tubes and just didn't work. So, I gave up, marked all my mods as "Load Out of Date" and moved on.

The second problem is that WAU only works with Ace mods. While I tend to gravitate towards the Ace mods in the hopes that they deliver what they advertise as being lightweight and generally less processor/memory "hoggy", I still have a couple of mods that I haven't found adequate replacements for through Ace.

The third was that their recent crash and downtime was problematic since that was the time period that I was looking to get my mods updated.

Enter WoW UI Updater! WUU!

This little baby seems to do what I need it to do. It updates from Ace, but also from all of the other major UI sites (Curse, UI @ World of War) and has some direct links to mods that aren't posted to the other sites. Auctioneer and a few others.

Last night I finally cleaned out my entire AddOns folder (including some really old stuff) and started the process anew. I quickly on WoWAce found replacements for the things that I feel are required or that are recommended by my guild for raiding (Karazhan only so far). I grabbed Omen. I grabbed Recount (to replace SWStats). I grabbed BigWigs. I had been using BigWigs for a couple of weeks and like it better than DeadlyBossMobs. I grabbed SCT, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep that. I grabbed a few other essentials. I'm not 100% of the way there yet, but my UI generally feels zippier. Omen I particularly like, although I only tried it with my pet and not in a group situation. Hopefully it continues to work as smoothly.

The best part -- for me -- was that WUU lets you export your mod listing to an XML file and import it back in on another computer. So I was able to get everything setup in one place, export the listing, and then move it to the other computer to keep them in sync. The only thing that's not happening right now, is that individual settings for each mods are saved on each machine. I think (99% sure) there's a way to fix this, too, but I need to dig a little further.

If anyone stumbles across this blog and hates managing and updating WoW AddOns, look no further than WUU. It's a SourceForge project, so I'm reasonably confident that it doesn't have adware, spyware, or keyloggers, but I also don't run it while WoW -- or anything else for that matter -- is running and I only give it access to the 'net when I'm doing updates. Great tool!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Warlock milestones...

With the help of my guild and a member who had kept his Warlock epic mount materials, I was able to get my epic mount. Saves quite a bit of gold and at Level 69 (with help of a few 65+'s), it was pretty easy, but still fun to see the event.

A day or two later, I ding'd 70 while doing the precursors to the Karazhan key chain in front of the tower itself. My machine lagged bad when I hit 70, so my screenshot didn't come out. Oh well. :)

With all the gold saved from not having to buy the ground epic riding skill, I was just a little short to get the flying mount, so my hunter loaned the warlock 150g and got it done. Helps so much with questing, and I still have all of Netherstorm *and* Shadowmoon Valley to quest in, so I should make that gold up *very* quickly.

To top the week off, I had one of the greatest runs through Shadow Labyrinth (hate that place) that I've ever been a part of. I thought it was me that was cursed. Maybe it's just my hunter. Was me (70 'lock), a shadow priest, mage, holy paladin, and our guild main tank. We were probably a little over-geared for Shadow Labyrinth at this point -- at least the tank and the mage -- but we simply destroyed the place. Under 90 minutes. No deaths. Unfortunately, the drops were terrible and most got sharded, but it was an awesome run. I'm sure other groups have done it faster, but we were pulling like machines and barely needed to speak on TeamSpeak to get stuff done. Great job, guys!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Maiden eats the floor...

This is a bit belated, but my guild managed to finally take out the Maiden the other night. We've been close several times, but always seemed to have bad luck in one way or another and never quite finished her off. This week, after having one wipe on Attumen -- who is otherwise on "farm status" -- we blew through both Moroes and Maiden with one-shots.

We had two PUG members from allied guilds. They've run with us a time or two before and one is a former guild member. Not sure what the difference was in this fight, and our group make-up was actually a little strange for Karazhan, I though. Two hunters, two paladins (?), two mages, two priests, a tank, and a rogue. None of us are geared all that well, since we've only ever downed Moroes a couple of times and "farmed" Attumen half a dozen or more.

The fight was smooth as can be. I think we lost two people -- one midway through the fight to a Holy Fire and our guild priest very near the end. I still don't have a handle on the difference in that fight. Having two paladins with Blessing of Sacrifice probably helped, and one of the paladins is Holy to help with the healing. Having two priests able to dispell Holy Fires helped, too.

Whatever. She's dead; we're not.

As a follow-up, we went in and gave the Opera event a try the next night. Unfortunately, we got Romulo and Julianne as our event, which is supposedly the hardest of the bunch. Our first fight was actually our best, and after our third attempt, I was disco-d and could not get back in because of the authentication servers being down. Another member was lost and although the group was able to replace us, they were not able to complete the event. I think our mechanics were good and our class mix (different from the above) was fine, we just didn't execute all that well. We'll get 'em next time. :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King

Like a million other bloggers right now, I guess I'll make at least a quick post about the new expansion that Blizzard is in the process of "unveiling" to the masses at BlizzCon right now. The name (and more) has been leaked for a few days from various places. Guess you can't keep secrets from a rabid gaming populace like that of WoW forever, huh?

Looks like we'll get to go to Northrend and eventually battle Arthas (as the Lich King). We'll level to 80. We'll replace all those "l33t 3piX" from current 25-mans (not that I'll ever see 'em) with the 3rd quest we do in the Northrend "newb" zone.

I'm torn.

After getting all excited and starting this blog, I'm in a fairly severe WoW "slump". Don't really want to play. My guild is making progress in Karazhan and I've missed the last two weeks worth of runs. What's wrong with the game? Nothing, I guess. Not sure if I've finally hit the WoW wall. I was hoping news of the expansion would really perk me up, but even though I'm refreshing the live blog over at WoWInsider every 2 minutes....

I guess that means I'm excited, huh? It's sort of muted, though. More later....