Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saying "Hi" to the Prince...

Holy crap, I'm tired. Not sure if it's allergies or a cold or a little too much WoW the last few days, but the coffee is not doing a thing this morning. The blog has also been a bit neglected. I have a dozen posts in my head, but can't manage to get any of them down on "paper". There's only about two of you nice folks reading this anyway, but I'll try to get you some content. :)

Our band of misfits heading into Kara again this past Monday. After Sunday night and with Curator down, we ran to the ramp above the "gazebo" and formed up. The run through the trash went mostly fine. Our main tank died a couple of times for unknown reasons. Just seemed to get hit harder than expected I guess. The off-tank was able to quickly pick-up the mob in these situations. I'm pretty sure the deaths were minimal on the run-in.

Since the Shade can't be tanked, our main tank swapped to his Warlock (for Banish and Fear) and our off-tank swapped to his mage. First shot went unluckily, I think. We were doing OK. I don't think we had any early deaths (maybe my pet, which hurts, but is mostly my fault). But... as luck would have it, we got hit with the polymorph and the elementals at the same time. There might have been a blizzard in there, too? Any
way... we were broken out of the sheep by the elementals beating on us. Without being sheeped, we couldn't heal up, so when he hit us with his fireballs, much of the raid went down in one volley. Wipe.

We had the right group, so we just formed up again, buffed up and went at him. This time, DPS was much stronger than the first time. His health was at least 10-15% below his mana for most of the fight. We managed to get the elementals early enough to deal with them, and our warlock did yeoman's work keeping them occupied. We managed to kill one, even, and the others were feared and banished. I think Aran
was very low on health when the sheep came. This time we were OK and stayed woolly for long enough for everyone to heal up fully. By the time he broke us out of it, I believe he was below 10% health. Once I saw how many had survived the sheeping, I knew we had him. The last few percentages of health went down quick and he took the eternal (or at least weekly) dirt nap. It's a little hazy, but the Shade drops were Pendant of the Violet Eye which went to our main priest and Pauldrons of the Justice-Seeker which went to our holy Paladin. Everyone who could, got the book as well.

The best part was that we got this done fairly quickly and didn't have to worry about respawns in the library. We went on to the Chess Event and despite losing most of our pieces, we took out most of Medivh's, too, including the king and managed to win with about 3 pieces standing and everyone else watching. Drops were Legplates of the Innocent which also went to our Pally and the Girdle of Treachery -- hehe... a girdle -- which went to one of our rogues.

We also had three random drops during the run. The same pair of leather DPS gloves dropped twice and our off-tank walked off with the Boots of Elusion. (Now... how come I remember that item and not the one that dropped twice?)

We waved at the Prince and called it a night. Well... OK... he killed us twice, but we were just trying to say "Hello". Jeez... what a grump.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One Priest + Moroes = Hunter Heart Attack

My guild decided to add a third Kara night to the week... at least this week. The secondary goal is to get some new players and/or alternate characters into the instance and clear some of the early bosses. The primary goal was to get *at least* Moroes dead, which clears the way to Opera. This allows us -- with our typical 2 to 2 1/2 hour run times -- to get to Curator on the second night and then *really* push content on the third. We haven't had a real solid chunk of time to try the Shade of Aran, and he's been a thorn in our side so far.

So... we grab just about everyone who's online in the guild last night and summon them all to Karazhan. Seven or so of the attendees were regulars, but a few had swapped to different characters (either for needs or wants) and we had a few relative newbies in the group.

The big loss? Our main healer priest... and his shackle. Uh oh.

Clearing through the trash mobs was fine. We had one unlucky break where the MT missed a disarm on those hard-hitting two-pulls in the banquet hall. This resulted in a couple of deaths, but didn't slow us up too much.

The real fun began with Moroes and his four little friends. I don't claim to be a great hunter, but I usually do OK. With my recent luck with gear, I can bring the hurt and usually do a good job trapping and playing my role. I mentioned on the the guild forums that I thought -- with some backup from a Paladin for fear -- that I could keep a mob trapped for the fight to make up for the loss of the priest. I was right... but it took a couple of tries to get the system down... and it was nerve wracking. *pant*

First pull coming. OK. I'm nervous. Trap down. Cooldown almost up. I give the OK. The pull starts. Pet attacks the "skull". I trap my mob. Blast away! Going OK... skull almost dead... and... the pet dies. The mob is dead, but so's Qantaqa. Dang. That's gonna hurt a bit. So... I watch my trap cooldown like a hawk, reposition myself as needed, and start dropping more traps. The second kill target is down and we're all onto Moroes. Things are OK, but DPS is a little slow. Duh... your pet is dead, dummy. He's 30+% of your DPS. Dang. I'm on about my 6th or 7th trap and I'm up against the cooldown. I barely got that trap down. I warn the raid -- particularly the Paladin -- to pick him up for a fear. He does. Awesome. DPS is still a little light and now I'm a Garrote'd. Dang. Paladin bubbles me because I'm needed as a CC'er (nevermind my DPS), but the fight is taking too long. Too many people have Garrote and can't get it off. Wipe. 10%. Dang.

Second attempt went about like that, except my pet lived this time. Unfortunately, at about 10%, Moroes killed the off-tank, blinded the main tank, and made a bee-line for me. Stabby, stabby. I'm dead. Trap is down, but the tank can't find it to pull the "loose" add onto it. Moroes down to like 2%, but the raid wipes because the tank is taking double hits and a few are already dead from Garrotes. Double-dang.

One guild member swaps from a shaman to a paladin. Gives us one extra way to remove Garrote and an emergency undead fear should both a trap and a first fear break somehow. This time, things are much better. We've got a system down. The first two adds drop pretty quickly and we can shift to Moroes. My traps are holding. Same deal. Get to about the 7th trap and I'm calling for the Paladin to help out. This time, though, Moroes is *much* lower on health than the last time and we've got it. Not sure if we had just a little more luck or if the second paladin really made that much of a difference. I don't recall having to call for him. I think we just "figured it out" with the group we had. Drops were useful to folks. Yay.

For good measure, we went and killed Attumen, too. :)

Mission accomplished. The way is clear to Opera and Curator for Sunday and then a full blown 2-hour shot at the Shade of Aran on Monday. We're gonna get him this week!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Second Heroic: The Mechanar

It's going to end soon, right? My luck has to come crashing down on me like some giant Elekk taking a dump on my head and squaring karma with the world (of Warcraft). Doesn't it? :)

I've always said that if it wasn't for bad luck, my characters would have none at all. I've been playing WoW since beta and my account goes back to "Day 1". Drops usually eluded me, if not forever, for a long time. Every hunter in my guild or raid would get bows and guns before me. It wasn't exactly a running joke among my guild, but people noticed. The only exception to this rule I can think of was lucking out on a Beastmaster piece on our first successful completion of UBRS "back in the day".

Anyway... so it's a rainy Saturday in my area. No real plans. Family is busy, so I clear a mid-afternoon Mechanar run with my wife and off we go. I haven't done this instance in a while and it's only my second ever heroic. It goes great. No serious problems. We had one wipe (Feign, FTW) and one more close call, but got the two mini-bosses down and the 1st boss and collected 3 badges. We vote to continue on, skipping the 2nd "boss" and going to the last one. He's got two things that I want. The [Abacus of Violent Odds] and the [Beast Lord Helm]. The helm is probably a sidegrade but gives me an option if something else drops in Karazhan to replace either my chest or legs. The Abacus is on my want list. I didn't even check the heroic drops.

We fight our way down the hallway, and use some hit and run tactics (and the elevator) to make things a little simpler, and get to the final pull. Goes fine, and the boss comes running at us. That goes great, too. We've got a great group. My guild's MT, main Holy Paly, Shadow Priest and a PUG Mage. We loot the final boss and this item to the right pops up. I didn't see the helm or the Abacus, so I was a little disappointed... at first.

I didn't even notice the gloves. Then everyone was saying "grats". Huh? "The gloves, Annai." Oh. "The gloves?" "Yeah... you don't want 'em?" Hmm.... ::blush:: "Yeah... I guess I do. Thanks!"

Often when you loot stuff -- at least for me -- with something like RatingBuster, there's a decision to be made. "Yeah... it has more +Agil, but I lose X and Y." This was a no-brainer. I've been getting along fine with some decent quest reward gloves, but these new ones are better *in every category*. Doesn't happen that often, so it's a happy day. (Yeah... it's a dumb screenshot, since I didn't compare it to my existing gloves. Trust me... it's better.)

I'm running Recount in the background for this run, not really paying attention. I didn't gear-check the mage. The rest of the run is from our normal Kara group, so people are geared OK. I was pretty pleased. I had to do a bit of trapping, but still managed to keep the hunter gods happy by bringing -- as BRK puts it -- massive quantities of sustained DPS. I have more detail and a couple of more detailed screenshots, but I think I'll save them for another post. Gonna try more math.

(NOTE: Forgive the names on the images. For some reason, I thought I was in Botanica. :D)

Friday, September 14, 2007

First Heroic: Sethekk Halls

Another request from a guildmate this week on our boards. He had completed all the lead-ins for his Epic Mount quest (Druid) and needed a run through Heroic Sethekk Halls to get it done. We didn't have a ton of options for guild members to bring on this as we have a bit of 'alt-itis' going on and only a handful of folks were keyed for the Auchindoun instances. The group ended up with myself, the Druid, our near-full-time Warrior MT, our uber-holy Paladin and... we waited. We have a couple more keyed folks, particularly a rogue which would have been nice to have, but after waiting nearly 30 minutes for someone to log on, we finally hit our /friends list and LFG. Found an Elemental Shaman and in we went.

(Nice touch with the new instance portal graphic on a Heroic, Blizzard.)

Overall the run went pretty well. I died on the *very* first pull when the leader didn't realize that the mobs could not be CC'd. Ran right over the trap, poked me in the face, and down I went. The first boss was actually a pushover, and I've remembered multiple wipes on him in non-heroic runs. You have to kill the adds in a heroic on this boss. Focus fire. Get 'em down. You'll be fine.

Trash clearing was going pretty well until we got to the 4-pulls in the second to last room before the final boss. (The room with the packs of non-elite birds.) Our first pull or two were OK, but we weren't completely sure of the abilities (added) of some of the mobs and we got wiped out by a chain-fearing mob (whose name I now forget). We changed plans a little and gave me a different trap mob and the next couple of pulls were fine. On the last pull in that room, we got unlucky with another fear, and ended up pulling in two more adds. Luckily (at least for me), I lived long enough to kill one and feign away from the rest, and that made the recovery pull easier. I think the rest of the trash clears went fine in Anzu's room. (Anzu is the summonable Raven god and Druid epic mount boss.)

Anzu really wasn't hard at all. He's mostly a tank-and-spank. The druid needs to keep HoTs on these statues (or something) in the room that summon 3 helpers which provide damage mitigation, AoE damage to the adds, and speed boosts. At 66% and 33% the boss self-banishes and summons a bunch of adds. We really didn't have a problem with the adds or the boss and he went down on the first try. Yay for our Druid friend!

Unfortunately, we lost our Holy Paladin after this fight. We tried to continue on to the last boss with a new Rogue, but I think we missed the Paladin's heals a bit or something. We tried the boss twice, but I had to log off. Thankfully, the group was able to pull in another friend and downed the boss after a couple more attempts.

"Props" to our Druid how is also an alchemist and was very appreciative of all the help he was getting. He passed out bunches of potions and elixirs at the start of the instance, several of which I actually saved for Kara runs, since I was worried about over-DPS'ing and pulling mobs off our tank, which I did on the first couple of pulls and learned my lesson. :)

TIP OF THE DAY #1: If you're a heroic group with only a Hunter for crowd control... DON'T BREAK TRAPS! Mages can just re-cast Polymorph. Priests can just re-cast Shackle. Warlock pets can re-cast Seduce. (I know these classes might only take one hit from some heroic mobs to be killed, but....) Hunters need to wait upwards of 30 seconds to re-trap. That time is a death sentence in a heroic. Pets cannot tank a mob for long, even with healing.

TIP OF THE DAY #2: If you're a hunter planning on progressing to Karazhan and/or heroic instances, get yourself at least 2 pieces of the Beast Lord set. That 4 second extra cushion may not seem like much, but it *really* helps. It was clearly noticeable by me in Sethekk last night and I was able to chain trap much more easily with a 20-second trap on a 26-second cooldown just by moving my position and giving that 6 second cushion for space.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Math is hard...

So... a guildmate is trying to hit revered with Thrallmar and asks for some help with a Shattered Halls run last night. I'm not really busy. Shattered Halls is not my favorite place. But... he's our guild's Holy Paladin and is basically awesome at his job... keeping me and *especially* my pet alive. Oh yeah... he heals the tank, too. :) He needs rep... we're going to go help him out. We fiddle around and finally find a 5th, a fairly well-geared Frost Mage from an allied guild. We've run with this guy a million times in Zul'Gurub and he's great and cool and will do awesome and not complain about occasional sheep breakage or anything else. We're all set. Warrior, Holy Paladin, Mage and 2 Hunters. This is *NOT* e-peen stroking, but more of a request for comment on whether this silly trinket -- [Romulo's Poison Vial] -- is worth continuing to use.

I was going to post the total damage image I cropped for the run, but there no real value in that, so here's my detail from the run:

Number 6 on that list is Romulo's Poison Vial damage. 2.2% of my damage? Really? For an epic trinket? When I rolled on that item, no one seemed to want it. The rogue in the run had already taken the fist weapon from the Big Bad Wolf -- I think it was that run -- so I rolled. Supposedly a good DPS trinket and does proc on both ranged and melee attacks. But is 15K damage for a run where I hit for over 900K really worth it? I guess I need to actually run the math, but "math is hard". The +Hit on the item is really nice, but I can pretty much max that out (at least for Kara bosses) with other trinkets and items. Unfortunately, the other trinkets that I have right now are all on the same cooldown for their "Use:" skill, which is why I've been using this and the [Core of Ar'kelos] as my primary trinket pair. (Yes... I know... it's green, but I don't seem to have better.)

I almost feel obligated to use the Vial because I rolled on it, but I did nearly as much *melee* damage during the run for cripe's sake as I did with this trinket. I guess 2% is 2%, but if I had another trinket -- now I forget what I have -- that boosted my +Crit, would that make up the difference? I guess it's time to get Excel or a calculator out and do the math. :P

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

8 Percent

Back into Karazhan last night and through the "soul destroying" trash.

(I love that quote. Thanks, Gerka!)

We decided to head to the Chess Event and collect our "free loot" first. In hindsight, this might not have been the best idea. Unfortunately, a duplicate pair of Fiend Slayer Boots dropped in addition to a pair of Shaman leggings. No Shaman in the group, though, so our long trip up to Chess ended with a bit of a letdown and resulted in 2 shards. I was almost convinced to take a second pair of the boots and socket them differently, but I couldn't bring myself to loot *another* purple. I don't gear-swap much at all anyway.

The Shade of Aran fight was definitely a learning experience. The first attempt went OK and we got him below 30%, but all the reading and video watching can only prepare you so much for a fight like that. We lost a person or two to Arcane Explosions and some to Blizzard, but the end result: Shade 1, EoC 0.

I think our second attempt went about the same. The third attempt was the best by far. I was having some issue with running away fast enough from the explosion, though, and died too early. Needing my DPS, the Druid was kind enough to blow his battle rez, but it still wasn't enough. We managed to pull him all the way down to 8%, but at that point, we had only 2 players left and once he sheeped them to drink, it was pretty much over. It healed them, but when they came out of the blast, they were too low on health and the druid was in cat form. Bummer.

On the final attempt, I was once again caught with my head up my rear end and was killed within the first minute by an explosion. I'm going to blame this on my old, decrepit PC. I seriously need to upgrade *something* until I can replace the rig. I just wasn't seeing the cast bar or the "pull" soon enough to get out of the way. Was very depressing and I felt like I let my guild down... a lot. I'm still pissed about it this morning and can't wait until next week and a chance to redeem myself.

The end result was Shade 4, EoC 0. The group did clear Maiden before I got on to "warm up" and we did Chess -- albeit without any real reward. Total of 6 bosses/events killed and one new one attempted. Next week, I think we're going to make a few more attempts at Aran or maybe even attempt to clear to him and hit him a few times on our first night. The trip to Chess -- and the interminable death run to Aran -- meant we could only make 4 attempts before the re-spawn got us and forced us to have to call the run.

A good learning experience, I guess, but folks were pretty bummed out when we called it and started to log off.

We need to add a third Karazhan night, but that's another topic.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now I'm scared...

My guild is getting pretty good at this Karazhan thing. :)

Two weeks ago, we had to do some swapping of characters to bring our DPS up to the point of having enough for The Curator's Astral Flares. This week, our "set" group just owned Curator. (We won't mention the three tries on Big Bad Wolf. :D)

Basically the same classes were present, but the flares were going down very quickly and we had no problem with the 10th of each wave and swapping DPS to the boss during his Evocations. DPS was so good, that we only saw two Evocations. (I know this is "normal" for seasoned Kara groups, but this is only our 3rd time even getting to Curator.) The speed the fight was going was weird enough that I had to yell out in TeamSpeak, "He's enraged... go all out!" I think a few others were as surprised as I was that we only saw two waves of flares.

So we managed to take out Moroes (1-shot), Opera (:cough:), and Curator (1-shot). We were up against our self-imposed time limit and lost a player, but we did decide to back-track quickly and take out Attumen to try to get a hunter alt a crossbow and also to clear the way to the blacksmith for repairs.

Tonight we will make our first attempt at Shade of Aran and collect our "free" Chess event loot. If we're able to, we may even poke our head in on The Prince and say "Hi".

Nifty new banner/signature tool is out there. Here's mine:

EDIT: Oh... almost forgot. Here's one to file under the "Good Deeds are Rewarded" folder. My guildmate was running Botanica. (I've been in there a bunch. Never got the drop(s) I wanted.) It's a Sunday afternoon. I'm normally not on, but the weather was crappy and the family was tired. He calls out that they're losing their DPS'er just before the last two bosses. I figure, "What the hell?". I'll help out a guildmate and help him finish off the instance. He was working on rep or looking for a drop or something. I didn't even care. It was 30 minutes at most and I could help out. We drop the "plant boss" with no problem and move on. Not even sure I looked at the loot. We get to Warp Splinter and he does down with very little trouble. Cleanest kill I've ever had on him, actually. What drops. You guessed it... [Beast Lord Cuirass]. While not an enormous upgrade, it does give me two pieces of the set, which gets me my trap bonus. I also had the mats lying around for a +6 to all Stats enchant and found some cheap but decent gems on the AH, and it pretty handily out-classes my previous chest piece. My luck continues with drops. It's really scaring me now.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Slow week...

Not much to report this week, but I do have a few things going on. Karazhan was a no go for me this week. The guild had to cancel one run for lack of numbers and on the second night, I ended up hanging out with my family. That's a good thing, but I've got a little Kara-withdrawal going on. My run of good luck with drops has got to end sometime soon -- it's so UNLIKE me -- but [Legacy] and the [Worgen Claw Necklace] have eluded me in Kara so far (of the bosses we've been clearing for a few weeks). Several others have gotten the necklace, and it's not a huge upgrade. Legacy is another matter. With either Savagery or the +35 Agility enchant, that's a monster weapon. Tough deal there, though, since it's a 1 in 3 shot to even get the right boss (The Crone) and then you have to hope she drops it. I've never actually *seen* the Wizard of Oz event, although the guild has done it once, I think.

In other Hunter news, I've been training up a scorpid, which seems to be the "flavor of the month" pet for hunters. BRK had a good write-up on why a few weeks ago, so I won't go into excruciating detail as to why everyone likes them. They're do for a nerf anyway, given the numbers some are seeing with them on boss fights, so I don't expect it to last.

Basically, the deal is that you get a level 70 Scorpid *but* you down-rank the Scorpid Poison skill you put on it. (Silithus scorpids have this one, for the record.) Instead of putting Rank 5, which does a little more damage, but has an 8 second duration and a 4 second recast time, you put Rank 4, which also has a 4 second recast but a *10* second duration. The poison also stacks up to 5 times. The advantage of the 10 second timer is that the pet can actually miss once, but not have the stacking effect go away. They'd have to miss twice in a row to lose the stack. The other thing about the poison is that it gets a bonus based on attack power trinkets and skills *at the time of the first hit*. So what the "big boys" do is send in the scorpid without Scorpid Poison on auto-cast, hit all the trinkets and skills they can hit to boost their AP, *then* turn on the poison and let it start to stack. If you can keep your pet with enough focus and don't need to use Growl or other skills, the pet can get the stack up to 5 and keep in there. This means the poison is proc'ing for 300-400 damage per second (with decent trinkets, buffs, etc.). Provided you can keep the pet alive and he/she/it doesn't miss twice in a row applying the poison, you can keep that damage up indefinitely. I have yet to try it on a boss fight (forgot last night in Black Morass), but it's supposedly pretty impressive. I have tried it on regular mobs, and it's fine, but requires a lot of micro-management. Not sure I'm up for it.

(Well... that was longer than intended.)

In Warlock news, I continue to plug away at the mats for the rest of my Frozen Shadoweave set. I've actually done much of the Primal water farming on Annai as I was working on getting the scorpid up to snuff, so it's been sort of a two-birds-with-one-stone approach. I can do my dailies up in Skettis, too. The Primals are actually going quickly, but the timer on the Shadowcloth is going to be the sticking point. I may have to check the AH and start making the other special cloths and trading them. It's a long haul, but since my warlock is not really getting in on the Karazhan runs yet, it's not horribly important. I'll keep at it. :)