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.