Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Vehicle" Fights

Here's hoping Ulduar doesn't become too "vehicle" heavy.

I came in sort of on the back end of the current raiding curve. The group I run with had kind of done all the legwork. They were mostly geared. While I'm not sure I would consider all the fights on farm, most of them probably were and I was geared up pretty quickly since many items were otherwise going un-used. I think I've pulled my own weight recently. I'm usually in the top half of the DPS list depending on the fight, sometimes even Top-5 or -3. It's fun. I'm not one of those that has to top the meters, but it's nice to see your name up there because it means you're worthwhile to bring along. Healers have to go by other guidelines. Tanks... tank.

I ran my first Malygos last night. I avoided signing up for this for a while. For one, I was nervous as hell. I was *HORRIBLE* at the "Aces High!" quest which is the defacto training ground for Malygos. For another, I felt that others in the raid had earned the Malygos loot table more than me. I also knew that others were really trying for various Malygos-related achievements. A final issue was that the schedule didn't work out very well for me. After spending a LONG time on Tuesday getting through three wings of Naxxramas (because we did two of them 20-man), I signed up for Malygos because it was also going to be a continuation/completion of the Naxx run. Most of my upgrades prior to 3.1 are going to be from Sapph or KT.

I spent forty-five minutes practicing "Aces High!" before the run. That was painful. I finally managed to get a rythym down and was only shot down twice. I managed to chain 4 or 5 kills together at one point before taking a break. Figured I was as ready as I was going to be. Here it comes...

Vehicle fights suck.

There... I said it. I just don't like them. When you're out questing, they're OK. One or two have been fun because you're so overpowered that you can repeatedly screw up and still complete the mission. These boss fights that include "vehicles" are just lame. I realize it's part of the lore and the storytelling that Blizzard wants and they need other ways to make the boss fights different. I just don't like them.

The biggest problem is that you spend all this time learning your class and then suddenly all that is out the window and you're down to a couple of unfamiliar buttons in an unfamiliar environment doing unfamiliar things. For certain classes, it seems even weirder. I guess as a hunter, I'm still kind of doing ranged DPS on the back of a dragon, but it involves combo points (what are those?) and other mechanics (healing?) that just make it feel off. I want to blast Malygos from the sky with my bow (or gun or crossbow) not by burning him to death with my "pet's" breath. Just doesn't seem that epic.

I'm glad to see that the only known vehicle fight (that I've seen) in Ulduar is the first one. Get it out of the way and let's get back to killing bosses the old-fashioned way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Of PUGs, flight, and de-cursing...

Yes... this is probably the internet's five-millionth, PUG-rant WoW post. Sue me.

My raiding friends decided to put together and alt-based Naxx run on Saturday night. They don't really allow for alts to rotate into their main raiding group -- for pretty good reasons, actually -- so the way they get their alts geared is with 10-mans and the occasional "alt night".

My druid has been collecting dust for a while. I can't seem to get any momentum for in-guild 10-mans, so he's just been sitting in Icecrown doing the occasional daily and trying to complete the various Icecrown quest series. I haven't even been requested for 5-mans lately, so he's pretty dusty.

This alt night was a good excuse to dust him off and maybe pick up an item for him. Mostly I wanted to see how bad my DPS was and hopefully get a decent cat-DPS rotation down. (More on this in another post... maybe.)

So I sign-up and show up on time. There are about 12-15 people signed up or pulled in from the various guilds that make up the raiding group, but there don't seem to be any more online or wanting to go or that aren't already locked to another Naxx25. The raid leader goes the PUG route. This is fine. You can meet some people this way. You can show them how you do things. Sometimes you find that diamond in the rough or you find alts from other guilds with similar policy. Sometimes you get people that know what they're doing and just haven't done in with a particular class before.

*This* was not one of those nights. :)

The first sign that things were going to be rough was that 3 people didn't have flying mounts. Not just epic flyers. Flyers at all. Ugh. You know you're going to wipe a few times with 10+ PUG members in Naxx, it's just a question of how often and how many people you lose after each couple of wipes. Frustration thresholds tend to be very low with many of these folks, even if they are the ones causing the wipes.

Now... I'm not exactly a great WoW player. I know this. I'm fine with this. I don't play as much as some people. I don't have the time to invest in getting every last item and trinket that I can to improve my character. I do try hard, but there is only so much time I can devote to WoW and still be a decent husband and father. Family first. That said, I have 2 80s and a 71. All of them have at least flight. Both 80s have epic flight and Northrend flying. Thinking about that is a little scary, actually. 12,000g! Jeez. That's not counting the intermediate riding skills along the way, the mats for the Warlock quest (which I did do past 60, but still did), and all the other things you have to spend money on in WoW.

So... the comments start in Vent. Most of the raid is not in Vent because the server requires registration and passwords and they're not going to stop the raid and make 10+ PUG accounts. We'll do it the old-fashioned way. A few comments are made (by other PUG'ers):

RM1: "how can you not have a flyer?"
RM4: "dude..."
RM9: "nub"

The answers...?

RM8: "this is my 2nd 80..."
RM3: "how do you make that much gold?"

Wha-huh? Really?!? See the above paragraph. I have 3 flyers and 2 epics. I play a couple of hours a night maybe 3-5 times a week. I raid. I buy consumables. If *I* can have a flyer, you can do it, too. I have no idea what you're spending your gold on, but I can make enough doing daily quests and general at-level-80 questing to earn a basic flyer in a week. Easy.

Anyway... a few wipes ensue as we all knew they would. The warlocks are nearly run out of stones to make "demon flashers" but we manage to clear the Spider wing and head for Plague. This is where it gets really good. We lose two people in the raid and have to find two more PUGs. Wanna guess? Yup... *neither* one has a flying mount, so we're up to 1/5th of the raid now that needs to be summoned into Naxx. I wonder to myself if these people wonder why they have to PUG Naxx. (Yes... I was PUG'ing it, too, but on my second character.)

We seem to have just enough DPS to get the gargoyles down, so we're probably OK for Noth. Seem to have a good class mix. Should be fine. We explain to the off-tanks how we do the pick-ups for the Noth adds, the raid leader gives the mages the heads-up for de-curse, and the rest of the instructions go out.

Pull #1: Curse goes on. Curse does not get removed. Wipe. In about 45 seconds... if that.

Raid leader re-explains to the mages that it's *really* important to get the curse off. If we don't, we wipe. It's not that we might wipe or that it's really healer intensive if you don't de-curse. WE WILL WIPE IF YOU DON'T REMOVE CURSE! (My caps, not his.)

Pull #2: Curse goes on. Curse gets removed from 2 people. Wipe. We might've lasted more than 45 seconds this time. Maybe.

So... in Vent:

Me: "Hey... I'm a druid. I can de-curse. Should I help out?"
RL: "You're feral, right?"
Me: "Yeah... but I think I have that button somewhere... Lemme see... Oh, yeah... that's what it looks like..."
*** I get a couple of chuckles in Vent ***
RL: "Better to have you help out than to wipe, I guess..."
Me: "I'll do what I can..."

Now... I don't have Decursive or anything like that. I just don't use it. I'm Feral, remember. I know -- barely -- how to make stuff mad and smack me in my bear's face. I'm not that good at that, nevermind trying to de-curse a bunch of people. Hey... I have a humanoid form? Cool! :)

In raid chat:

RL: "OK... I'm going to ask the Druid to step out of cat form and help de-curse. We really shouldn't have to do this with TWO mages, but it's better than wiping."
RM1: "He shouldn't have to..."
RM2: "huh?"
*** Other generalized grumbling, mostly from the PUG members ***
Mage1: "what's a curse..."
Mage2: "i'm supposed to do what?"

Remember... we're on our third try now. Raid leader re-explains FOR THE THIRD TIME the importance of de-cursing to the mages and we pull again....

Pull #3: Curse goes on. I frantically mash my de-curse hotkey and we manage to get through the first phase. I was still getting hit by something -- I'm not sure what as I was playing whack-a-mole and watching the curse cooldown and not much else -- but we managed to live. Second curse goes on, I get it off 4 or 5 people, but it's not enough. Blam! Wipe.

Someone's getting testy and posts the "de-curse meter" from the fight:

Me    -- 9 removals
Mage1 -- 3 removals
Mage2 -- 2 removals

OK... that's pretty sad. Again... I know I'm not good, but this is sad. If a guy who didn't know where the de-curse button was on his taskbar can get 9 curses removed without Decursive or much else, what exactly are the mages doing?

*** More generalized grumbling ensues in raid chat ***

Pulls #4 and #5: At this point, the Vent channel is in stitches laughing at the mages. Each time the curse goes up they're calling for me to "Save me!", "Save US!" or "Go, Annai, go!" We manage to live through at least two curses on each pull but I think a few people are still blowing up and the attrition is killing us. After the second curse of the last two pulls, I think I was taking two much damage and before I could heal meself I went down. As we were running back from the 5th or 6th try, the raid leader decided to call it. Without enough de-cursing, there was no way to get past Noth. If we couldn't get by him, neither of the other two wings would have allowed us to fare much better.

The meters for the last two fights were pretty much a mirror image of the above. The mages might have gotten off a couple more desurses, but not many. I thanked them for having me along and they laughed and thanked *me* for trying to nearly single-handedly keep the raid going. At least I managed to get a cool idol and two upgrades for a guild member. It was still absolutely amazing the sheer number of 80s who didn't have enough gold for flying and/or didn't know how to decurse. One of these players was a double-whammy. He couldn't fly *and* couldn't decurse. If I bothered to remember his name, he would have gone on my /ignore list.

I logged off and downloaded Decursive.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Raiding Achievments... Good, Bad, and Ugly

The group that I run 25-mans with recently started to focus on getting the last few achievements some of them need for the Glory of the Raider meta-achievement. They clearly posted this in their sign-ups and asked people to post a list of what they still needed. They indicated that in some cases there would be intentional wipes while we tried to get some of these done.

Sometimes this is kind of fun and interesting and does allow people to better learn these fights. Sometimes it's just frustrating and needlessly delays the raid. Trying to do Heigan with 15 people because 10 are standing outside the door because they "can't dance" (many for reasons beyond their control like lag) is kind of silly. When 5 more people die and instead of wiping you try to nibble away at Heigan, it just becomes silly. The "Shocking" achievement is another one. Be a micro-second behind swapping position on a Polarity Shift and you've just screwed 24 other people. Grrr....

This is a good group -- there... I've said it again -- but I kind of hate these raiding achievements. Ones like "Make Quick Werk of Him" and "Arachnophobia" are actually fun. "Werk" and the "Safety Dance" should be the goal of every raider every time they face those bosses. Others are just ridiculous. The 20-or-fewer just means that 5 people don't get to go. (My group hasn't started this yet.) Others require a perfect execution of fights that really aren't that easy and adds undo stress to content that is otherwise on "farm" status for the most part. Still others require perfect execution of *all* the fights in Naxx for an entire raid lockout.

It's all well-and-good to make the achievements. Make 'em hard. I'll get the ones I can get and the others just probably won't happen. And they won't happen for most raiding guilds, frankly. The loss of enjoyment on some of these comes from those few players who feel they have to have every achievement and if they don't get it, they look for someone to blame. This leads to various tattle-tail mods popping up in raid chat (even when those mods are often wrong) and hard feelings start to show. A small lag hiccup on some of these fights, and you die. Die on the dance and you've blown *2* achievements for the whole group. I died last night during KT to an Ice Block. There's nothing I can do about that but get healed. I didn't. I died. It wasn't the first death to a boss so I didn't blow an achievement for the whole group, but some of these things are just beyond control.

Go for all the achievements you want and have fun with it. Just don't be a jerk about it if -- or more likely *when* -- some of these are simply out of reach for the group you run with.

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Having Two Accounts...

Last March I bought a second WoW account. It was my son's birthday. He's at that weird age where he's hard to buy for. He gets all A's and B's in school. Good kid. Too old for most toys; too young for anything really serious. He had been playing WoW quite a bit and gotten a mage up into the 30s or 40s (at the time) ... I think. But... I couldn't really help him out. Yeah... I could toss him some gold or scan the auction house for an item or two, but not really help.

Enter the second account. It was given as a birthday gift, but it wasn't for his exclusive use. He wouldn't have the password, but it would allow us to play together, run instances (me blitzing mostly), and do some direct helping. At the time, I had my 70 Hunter and my 70 Warlock. My Druid was just a baby. (NOTE: This was all done before Refer-A-Friend was an option.)

So... the second account was created. After some discussion about what to do, we decided to move my Warlock to the second account. The Warlock was a tailor/enchanter so it made sense. Remember this was before the days of enchanting Vellum. Having him on the 2nd account meant that I could directly enchant my own items simply by having both accounts logged in on different computers. Warlocks make excellent low-level instance blitzers. Round up a bunch of mobs with the voidwalker and Seed of Corruption the snot out of them. It was fun making big piles of mobs in places.

As an ulterior motive in this whole thing was my desire to get my Druid up to 70 before the expansion. With that character, I could be either a tank or a healer, whatever the guild needed. (Again... this was before Balance was a "real" spec, so it was just really those two options.) I had tried a Paladin, but didn't like it and couldn't bear -- no pun -- the thought of getting that character to 80. *shudder*

Now that a year has passed, I got to looking back at this experience and learned a few things:

  1. I *hated* dual boxing. Putting a toon on /follow and running low-level instances alone for XP is about the most boring thing you can do in WoW. I did it a half-dozen times for my Druid and couldn't stomach it any more.
  2. I *liked* helping my son. He and I could rip through places pretty quickly. We had a system down where he'd lock mobs in place with Frost Nova while my DoTs and SoC was ticking. We just tore stuff up.
  3. Until the expansion, managing your characters on two different computers sucks. If you have two fast/good computers, it's no sweat. If you have one *really* good computer and an aging laptop, it's a marginal nightmare. You can't really mess with your UI on the laptop because it can't take the add-ons. If you mess with your bars in one place, it messed up the other. Add-ons? Forget it. Macros... they weren't stored by Blizzard, they were stored locally. Another nightmare.
  4. If you have a good enough computer with enough RAM, you can run two instances (probably more) of WoW on the same machine.
  5. Having one Blizzard Authenticator with two accounts is enough, although kind of a pain. At $6 a pop -- if they're in stock -- I'd probably recommend just getting two and labelling them for the proper account.

When WotLK came out, the boy swapped over to a Death Knight. He had gotten the Mage to 63 (?) by then and I thought it was a real waste to start over, but having his own 55+ earned him a character slot in my book. The DK is now almost 71 and he's hit Northrend. The biggest issue now is that we'll probably have to drop another $25 to move characters. His DK is on the first account, and since I got my druid to 80, too, that means there will soon be 3 80s on that account and my lonely 70+ Warlock on the 2nd. Oh... the horror. :)

Just thought I'd get down -- however boringly -- my thoughts on second accounts.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rally the Troops!

As previously discussed, I've been doing 25-man raids for a few weeks now with our raiding partner. Once I was comfortable enough -- having seen all the fights with the exception of Kel'Thuzad more than once -- I started putting out feelers within the guild for running our own 10-mans. I didn't want to be the raid leader *and* guild leader, but no one else was stepping up. Response was lukewarm, but I got enough feedback from within the guild and from our other, smaller raiding partners that I put an event on the in-game calendar.

(As an aside, that's really a pretty good tool. I wish I could use it for all my raiding sign-ups but our allies mostly use web-based tools. We used to use a web tool ourselves, but when the former guild leader flipped his wig and shutdown our website with little to no warning and refused to transfer ownership -- oh look! another topic for another day! -- we switched to the in-game tool. The timing was pretty good. It also allows people you don't want to have access to your website to have access to your raid calendar. Anyway... good job, Blizzard.)

Last Monday was our first joint run. Things started off badly. During the week, I had gotten 2 tanks lined up and had 4 -- count 'em *four* -- healers lined up in case there were drop-outs, no shows, or other issues. I had a DPS-spec'd Shaman and a Shadow-spec'd Priest also willing to go and re-spec if needed. Twelve (12!) signups in total and I had 3 other people on the standby-but-not-signed-up list. Woohoo! I could manage nearly 50% attrition and still get the raid going.

Paging Mr. Murphy! Mr. Murphy to raid day!

About a day before the raid was set to go, I got messaged in-game by one of the tanks that they didn't think they could make it. They were going to try, but couldn't be sure. Well... OK... I've still got my main tank lined up and I *should* be able to find an alternate OT. In an absolute *worse* case, I could swap to my druid. By no means ideal, but it could be done. That day I put some more feelers out on some allied forums to try to replace a tank.

For the raid, I was hoping to stay on my hunter because given my rapid acquisition of Naxx25 gear, I knew we could support a few undergeared DPSers and still get by. It wasn't like we were all going to go in with quest greens and blues. Hopefully, we'd get those new folks some gear in the process.

My hope was to get 6-8 guild members into the run and then fill the holes with those left. I was also hoping to pull in some new-to-raiding folks and get them some gear and enthusiasm for the process.

At a half-hour before raid, I started forming up the group. My tried-and-true fellow hunter (FH) and all-around good guy was first into the raid.

FH: Um... bad news, the MT was on earlier and can't make it tonight.
Me: #*(&@(#&$(@&$%#@!
FH: Want me to start looking around?
Me: I had a couple of alternates. Going to try to find them.

/Tells and channel hopping ensues and I miraculously find two tanks. One is probably overgeared for 10-mans, the other will re-spec and off-tank, but has enough gear to be fine. Phew!

I start looking at my sign-ups and looking at who is only. Of 12 signups, 6 are online.

Me: (#@(*&#@(!&@#

Warlock joins. Shadow Priest. Start hitting up my alternates. Holy Priest comes over. He's overgeared, too, but the raid panels are growing and if they're willing to come, at this point I just want the raid to go off. Second healer, another Holy Priest shows up. Death Knight added. Holding the last spot for the GM of the other guild. He's a mage. The decurses will be nice for the Sarth trash. Wait. Wait. Can't wait anymore. Tanks have a Boomkin in their guild who wants to come for Sarth, but can't stay for Naxx. Add him and let's go.

We got the raid going -- finally -- and it was a bit anti-climactic. What I had hoped would be a raid filled mostly with my guild, ended up as 4 from mine, 3 from another, and 3 from a third. All good folks and we worked well together, but only one member of my guild even needed 10-man gear, really. We managed to blow Sarth away quickly. We replaced the Boomkin with another Shadow Priest (4 priests total) and moved on to clear out Spider Wing. With the exception of Maexxna, everything was a one-shot and pretty handily at that. The big spider caught us at a bad time on a couple of web-wraps, but she went down on the 3rd try.

Two more 10-mans on the schedule this week. Time to rally the troops again!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And I was doing so well...

...keeping up with an almost post-a-day pace.

/e slaps his own wrist


OK... enough silliness.

My guild (well... OK... 4 of us and some help) made our first guild-sponsored foray into Obsidian Sanctum and Naxxramas last night. We had 3 members each from our wonderful guild allies and did pretty well. Sarth (no drakes) went down very easily. The first two bosses in the Arachnid Quarter suffered similar one-shot fates. Maexxna decided to be uncooperative and made us kill her on the third try, although she was down to 2% on the first go. Frustratingly close. I'd almost rather wipe at 20% than 2%. We lost a warlock earlier in that fight when I didn't manage to break her out of the cocoon fast enough. That was probably the difference.

Our healing lead complained that that fight is all about the random number generator (RNG). He would know better than I. Get a web wrap at the wrong time and have the tank take spikey damage and you're in trouble. When the numbers are kind -- as they were on attempt #3 -- and she goes down with hardly a fuss.

Although I levelled my Druid to 80 first in WotLK, I found that I *really* didn't like tanking. When our 10-mans didn't really get off the ground and I couldn't do enough DPS to warrant spots in raids (with a tank spec, go figure), I quickly got my hunter up to 80 and have been taking him to raids. I would like to start gearing my druid, though.

Wow... this one is boring. Gonna post anyway. I need to keep writing, even if it's not particularly compelling, I'm putting words on digital paper. I'll have something better soon, I promise. I still have a "To Do" list of things to talk about from a while ago like 2nd accounts and a few other things. Only the best WoW bloggers are all that interesting to read. I'm not there... yet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Loot Sponge"

I have a new nickname in my raid alliance. "Loot sponge". I'm hoping it doesn't stick. My old one, "Owner of Pets Gone Wild!", comes from my cat going loco one night in Black Temple and wiping the whole raid when he charged off at High Warlord Naj'entus for seemingly no reason. I kinda like that nickname better. (NOTE: It's quite possible that I hit the mark-and-attack macro, but my story is that ol' Qantaqa just went crazy on his own and I'm stickin' to it.)

So... back to the current nickname....

If you ever stress out about "falling behind" other raiders in your guild (or group of guilds), I'm not sure it's something that you should really worry about. Provided you can participate in runs on a fairly regular basis, the shinies will come. Really. They will. If you don't win a roll this week, you'll win another week. Unless you're in one of those hardcore, min-max-or-die guilds (and there's nothing wrong with that for some people) things tend to even out in the end. Even in a DKP system (or maybe especially so), things just tend to work out. That's the whole idea.

I was privately lamenting a bit last week during a joint Naxx25 run about the lack of hunter drops and/or my inability to win a roll. It was mostly that no hunter gear dropped.

This week, the loot tables and the RNG were kind. Thankfully, the raid leader decided to start with the Construct Quarter instead of the de-facto Spider. Yay for decent loot tables! After some fits and starts getting the 25th person through the slime gauntlet -- groan -- Patchwerk went down like the pansy he is.

./e waves to Patchwerk

No goodies and on to Grobbulous. Managed to live this week and even managed not to drop my stink-bomb into the middle of the raid... unlike some people. *cough* Shiny dagger dropped. Left it for the rogues, but another hunter grabbed it. Sort of a slight upgrade, otherwise, but less hit and I'm barely hit capped as it is. Stat sticks can wait and I was sort of "saving" my roll for a real item I needed.

(Loot is handled with a 1-100 roll for the first item upgrade of a run. 2-2 roll for a 2nd item if it's an upgrade and a main spec item. 1-1 for a sidegrade or off-spec item with a 1-100 roll-off for those tied. Often the 1-1 rollers will pass if they see it's a bigger upgrade for someone else. Again... very mature raiders who understand that a bigger upgrade for someone else results in more DPS for the raid as a whole which makes bosses and trash go down faster. Have I mentioned how much I love my raid alliance... today?)

Gluth was a piece of cake. Three hunters in the back dropping traps and an Earthbind totem. The chow never had a chance. Gluth has that weird amalgam loot table and the token drops on this night were horrible. Plate and clothies all night, it seemed. Still nothin'.

I was an idiot on Thaddius. Made it about halfway through the fight and then missed a polarity change. Thankfully I got far enough a way that I only killed myself. He hit 0% with about 2 seconds left on the enrage. Whew! Five people were dead, though, so I wasn't the only dope.

On to Plague, and Noth took a very quick dirt nap. Only one trip to the balcony. This is where it gets interesting. Both the [Strong-Handed Ring] and the [Tunic of Masked Suffering] dropped. Three hunters. I know one is really well geared. I looked at the other at the start of the run and he was pretty well geared, too. Didn't commit his inventory to memory. The call comes to roll on the ring. The "passed" messages were flying by and I didn't even see my roll. I heard a few calls of congratulations, but didn't see a message to go ahead and pick up the ring. Then the joint hunter channel started to have some chatting in it. (RL = Raid Lead and first Hunter. OH = other hunter.)

RL: Annai were you rolling on the ring or the chest?
Me: Oh... I thought we were just rolling on the ring.
RL: Yeah... but I wanted to make sure the chest didn't end up defaulting to you if the ring was an upgrade for someone else.
Me: OK... that's cool... I don't care either way. Both are big upgrades.
OH: They're bigger upgrades for Annai. I'll pass.
RL: Annai, roll on the chest, too.
Me: (Feeling guilty) Um... OK... Should I be rolling 2-2 or a regular roll?
RL: Do a regular roll just to see.

At this point I've lost track of the rolls and the raid is already moving on to clear trash leading to Heigan. I feel like I'm holding up the raid and/or being greedy. It's possible the other two hunters were whispering, but at this point I just was hoping to get one of the items and didn't really care which. Both were major upgrades and arguably best-in-slot items for a Survival hunter.

RL: OH, take the chest. Annai take the ring.
Me: OK... cool!
OH: Nah... I pass to Annai.
Me: (Huh) Really? Are you sure?!
OH: Yeah, man... those are both major upgrade for you.

Guilt sets in. I assumed some /tells have been flying around -- in a good way -- and the raid is moving on. I double-check and he's still cool, so I end up with both items. Wow. Big kudos again for someone realizing that a slight upgrade (or even sidegrade) for them and a major upgrade for someone else just makes the whole raid better. I was pretty effusive with my thanks, and on we go.

Heigan drops pretty quickly and I think only one person died... to a disconnect. *groan* [Leggings of Collosal Strides] and [The Undeath Carrier] fall to the floor. You're kidding, right? Both hunters already had the legs, so those end up in my bag -- and soon thereafter on my chubby Tauren legs. Even un-patched they're better than what I had. I couldn't even bring myself to roll on the staff. Arguably another great Survival item now that the Druid-only status of that item has been removed, the RL already had better. The other hunter won it, though. Again... I couldn't even face rolling 2-2. He won with a 12, I think. :)

Loatheb was a cakewalk. The tiered Hunter shoulder token dropped along with the [Grotesque Handgrips], but again, I didn't even place a 2-2 roll. I think a Shaman ended up with the shoulders with a real roll, which was just fine. I already had the gloves (and the T7.5 ones from a Sartharion kill).

I ended up having to bail here. They cleared the Spider Wing and then called it. Even three items seemed like loot-hogging, but these kinds of things sometimes happen when people in raids have been running them for much longer than you have.

The point of this? If you run with a good group of people, you *will* get the loot you need. It's not going to happen all at once. It's not going to happen on the first time each item drops. But it will happen. Participate enough and do your job and don't be a jerk. Good things come when you raid the right way. In particular, remember the people who were nice to you and try to return the favor if/when you can.

Loot Sponge, out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are bots back?

With all the hub-bub over Blizzard's victory in the WoW Glider case, I was surprised in-game the other day with a bot. Not sure what time of day it was, but I was doing my Hodir daily quests on my hunter and ran into this Night Elf hunter running a race-track pattern in the area where the fire elementals spawn. The place where the anvil was before doing that part of the phasing quest(s). You know the spot. They drop crystallized fire at a decent rate. Prime bot'ing grounds.

I watched for a while in disbelief. I tried communicating with the character. No dice. (This is difficult on opposing factions, but not impossible.) I was thinking about attempting some griefing. Feign pulling. Mob tagging. PVP flagging to get it to fight me. I inspected the character trying to glean a little more info. The gear was terrible. +Strength on the bow. I could find no quest rewards. Finally, I'd wasted enough time and effort confirming my suspicions and summarily put in a GM ticket. I didn't just report it, I wanted to talk to a GM.

I had had a *horrible* experience with this same issue back in vanilla WoW. The various fields around Western Plaguelands were rife with this problem back in the day. I had a particular issue for an entire week in Felstone Field. I was rep farming myself and leveling up a pet from very low level, but doing it legitimately by actually playing at my computer. *gasp* This Dwarf hunter -- why is it always Hunters, by the way... as if the typical players view isn't already skewed to the "huntard" stereotype -- ran the same racetrack pattern. Back then, though, the bots were dumber. Or it was programmed poorly. For this one, you could tag the mobs and it would still come by an help you kill it. It was just set to a killing spree. Again... horrible gear choices. Just there to farm. I'm sure it pulled in some good scratch, too. This went on for a week. Every day I would report via ticket the behaviour and the next day it would be the same bot back in the same spot running the same pattern. Not sure if he eventually just got caught or if this was around the inception of Warden, but he finally disappeared a day or two before I was done with my reputation grind.

Back to the present, I had to log off and fully expected to get a canned response via GM ticket in-game. When I was able to log back in a couple of hours later, a GM hit me up almost immediately. (The new UI for talking to a GM works pretty well, by the way.) Well... at least I got to talk to them. They were very friendly and professional in that semi-extra-geeky roleplay way many of them use. He/she indicated they were still getting reports like this occasionally and would look into it. I neglected to write down the character name, but was 99% sure I had reported it correctly. This particular GM had a good sense of humor. After assuring me that they would take the report seriously and take action if warranted:

GM: "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Me: "Can you spawn me a few dozen Everfrost Chips?"
GM: "I wish I could because I'd be exalted by now."


Monday, February 23, 2009

Loot Niceties and Ammo

(This post started out as one about bag/bank management, but this story is better, I think. Maybe I'll get to the clutter post later.)

My hunter is eagerly awaiting the Great Ammunition Removal Patch of Awesome, so I haven't gone too crazy with him with bag management. I am lugging around way too much stuff, but I usually have enough room to do my daily quests, perform my skinning, and quest-at-80 for gold. Usually. When the hunter's lack of bag space and the ammunition issue comes into painful focus is when you get a weapon upgrade.

Case in Point: I'm just playing along Saturday night and across one of my guild alliance channels I see...

"Off-tank and one more needed for Naxx 10-man. Clear instance."

/whisper "Need another DPS?"

"Sure. Come on along!"

So... I hit the stable, grab the DPS pet (good ol' Humar), and head to Venomspite. We blast through the Spider wing in pretty good order. One-shot all the bosses in good time. I hate the Arachnid Quarter. It's well-designed. The fights are somewhat interesting and technical enough to keep you intersted. It's the loot tables I hate... at least as a hunter. I fully understand what Blizzard did, though. It's the wing most groups start with, so they loaded it up with plate tanking gear and healer/caster gear. No sweat. There are a few nice items, but I've been through Naxx-25 Spider enough that most anything that would drop in there isn't an upgrade. Still... I'm good... picked up a few badges and had some fun.

We move on to the Military Quarter. Interesting move. Usually people hit up Plague next. I'm a little nervous about Razuvious because I haven't seen the fight using the crystals. I have no idea what the loot lists are like. Check up with AtlastLoot. Oh... look at this shiny!

Now... I've had a bit of a problem getting ranged weapon upgrades for a long time. If I'm in a group, either nothing drops or I'm outrolled by another hunter. I've been slowly getting there with my other gear, but weapons have eluded me. I think I have 10+ runs in UtK -- it's practically the *only* heroic I've done -- and still no [Drake-Mounted Crossbow]. It's become an in-guild joke at this point when people see me in there PUG'ing. *shudder*

We get to Razuvious and I say a not-so-silent prayer for the bow. Something along the lines of...

"Dear Mr. Razuvious... Please drop your bow... KThx, Annai."

The other hunter in the group had the Drake-Mounted already and I assumed -- yes -- that he'd not really be after a side-grade. This was an all-guild run with the exception of me and the off-tank, so I was mostly just along for the ride and the 10-man experience. I'm lugging around the ugliest iLvl200 gun in the game, the reputation reward from the Argent Crusade -- the [Zombie Sweeper Shotgun]. (As an aside... really Blizzard?)

Lo-and-behold, Razuvious went down on the second attempt. (Little miscommunication by the tanks on when to release the students caused a wipe.) And there it was! The bow. The other hunter *was* a cool guy, and passed on it. It really is a side-grade. Same DPS. Slightly different stats. Does look cool as hell, though. I almost wouldn't have been mad had he rolled. Almost.

Anyway... this is a long and drawn-out way to say "kudos" to this guy and suggest that others try to do the same thing. Loot comes and goes. In-game friends -- even those not in your guild and maybe *ESPECIALLY* those -- mean a lot more. I'm all for moving along faster in instances and not stressing out over loot, but take a few minutes either during a "brb" break or at the start to look around the raid. Know what the other players are packing for gear and know what that item you might want to roll on is a *huge* upgrade for them but only a side-grade for you. Eventually, if you run raids enough, the gear comes. If not through drops these days, through Emblems alone.

The other point of the post, is the pain a hunter feels when getting a weapon and not being able to use it. :) That bow had to sit in my bag for the rest of the raid, because I had a pouch full of bullets instead of a quiver full of arrows. (No warlocks and I wasn't going to ask the raid to wait for me.) Here's hoping they can make the stacks big enough in the next update to allow for this possibility. And they can work out the haste issue between quivers and pouches, too.

Never did get the 10-man version of Four Horsemen down. Is it my imagination or is that just harder on 10-man? I know a couple of bosses in there are like that.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Eat me, Sartharion...

Oh... wait... you did, didn't you? Multiple times.

I've mentioned my guild alliance before on this blog. Yes... it was probably a year ago, but the back posts don't disappear and the same folks are still around. Good group of people. We've actually had some members of my guild leave for this other larger guild with really no hard feelings. We're casual. They are more hardcore, but still like to have fun and joke around all while getting the job done. Usually. :)

Earlier this week on Tuesday I ran Naxx25 with them and we cleaned out two wings in about two hours. They basically have open sign-ups and when they're short a couple, my guild members are welcome along to fill the ranks. Unfortunately, nothing hunter-ific dropped the this night. Oh well... sometimes the RNG is your friend....

Thursday was supposed to be the resumption of Naxx, but since they had cleared it out already and completed Malygos, too, it was decided to make some attempts on Sartharion + two Drakes. I warned the raid leader that I felt a little undergeared for that fight and had signed up for mid- to late-Naxx, but they don't stress too much about that stuff and felt they had enough of the right mix of classes. I *did* come to the raid fully prepared with as many elixirs and food buffs as I thought I was going to need. (Little did I know.)

I figured the first hour would be pretty painful. Sarth + 2 is a difficult fight even if your entire raid is epic'd out the wazoo. We were not. Although much of the raid is well-geared, there were some newer raiders -- myself included -- still sporting some reputation gear (or worse).

The first few pulls went as expected. People dying to the flame walls. People dying to the adds. People dying to the void zones (which aren't really much more visible than they were before, Blizzard). On one early attempt, we managed to get the first Drake down before the second landed, but things quickly went into the dumper after that.

Two hours in and we still didn't seem to be making much progress and I was out of elixirs. I really didn't expect to keep trying the "+2" fight after ten wipes, but they kept going. Weren't really getting by the first phase. I offered to give up my spot to a more seasoned raider. I was told I was fine and we kept at it. Eventually, we had to clear trash again (always a bad sign) and the grumbling started. We re-cleared, made a few more attempts, but then I had to log. Job and all. It was closing in on midnight for me.

The WWS was posted this morning. While my DPS wasn't stellar, I took most of my solace in being one of the last people to die on pretty much every attempt. I got killed by the flame wall *ONCE* by my count. The painful part, even after I left, was the final tally:

Sartharion 19, Raid 0.


Here's my short list of things to consider when participating in progression raiding.
  1. NEVER, EVER, EVER (!) complain in raid chat or Vent about your repair bill! Firstly, if you have a high repair bill from dying, it's because you're all decked out in Epics. Boo hoo. I'm bleeding for you over here. I'm trying to earn some of my own epics. You bitching about how much it's costing to fix your shinies up is really grating. Secondly, it makes you sound like a whiny brat. If you don't like repairing, don't progression raid. Simple as that. Five daily quests and you've earned enough to wipe all night to a new boss. Or at least make the repair bill hit to your bank pretty insignificant.

  2. Bring your bloody consumables. And bring enough to last a good long while. Elixir mats are not generally hard to farm up. I don't know how much they are on the AH (mats or elixirs), as I have an alt and a friendly guild alchemist. There's nothing worse than looking around the raid while waiting for buffs and seeing people who *AREN'T* either flasked or elixired (are those words?). It's even worse if you're wiping below 5% on something. Just a little more 'umph' from a couple more people using proper elixirs/flasks and the boss would already be dead. (This wasn't the case last night, but I've seen it before.)

  3. Read up. If you don't understand the fights -- even the basic mechanics LIKE A GIANT WALL OF FLAME THAT YOU CAN'T GET HIT BY -- you don't really belong in the raid on nights when progression is being pushed. Don't sign up. Don't accept the invite. I was a little bit in this boat myself, but it's because I was expecting Naxx and got Sarth + 2. And I warned the raid leader of that. But if your guild has a known destination, take the time to understand -- at least in theory - what's going to happen in the fights. Some people can only learn by seeing, but if you've at least read up, maybe the learning curve is less when you've read *and* seen the fight.

  4. Shut up. If you don't understand something, ask and then listen for the answer. LISTEN. If you don't understand the fight mechanics, you have no business offereing up suggestions and it makes you sound really dumb when your suggestion would basically wipe the raid. Don't tell the tank to stand in one spot when he's tanking to make your DPS job "easier". Umm... there are these giant dragons trying to eat him and walls of flame that he *must* avoid. Really. He's doing his best. And... your DPS is bad because you've died to the flame wall *EVERY* pull, not because the tank is the problem.
I'm probably forgetting something in that list, but those are the things that jumped out at me this morning. Coffee really hasn't kicked in, but the muffin was delicious.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Once more... with feeling!

It's time to crank this up again and try it ONE MORE TIME. If I fail to keep this thing updated, I'm just going to delete the whole mess and forget about this blogging thing. I think I have some things to say, but that will remain to be seen. I think I'm going to expand this to include my thoughts on guild issues -- hopefully keeping too much detail from seeping in so as not to piss anyone off -- but provide helpful insights for others. Maybe? Also, my warlock is on the back-burner and is currently on sit-in-Dalaran-and-receive-BoEs-to-disenchant duty. The bonus there is that my druid (who actually went to 80 first) is an inscriptionist, so he's been sending over Vellum on a regular basis. Very useful that vellum stuff.

So... here we go again. Don't think I'm going to give BRK or some other prodigious bloggers a run for their money, but maybe I can provide some useful info.