Archive for October, 2009



13
Oct
09

Gondria and Loque’nahak Kickin’ it in the stable

I know this is a protection pally blog for the most part, but nothing new and exciting has has happened to my pally in the past few days. I have logged on every day, did my JC daily so that I could purchase the last pattern I needed to craft my Unhittable set gems, and I would run heroic Violet Hold every day for my stupid trinket. Twice now Lavanthor has appeared, and twice he has dropped something other than the trinket. I guess I have to continue to hope that I will get lucky before the week’s end. Other than that, I have been playing my hunter quite a bit, just because I don’t really need badges any more, and I was already saved to every instance worth running on my pally.

Taming a Spirit Beast…

Monday morning came with the same normal routine that I have had for the past few weeks, I logged on, did my jewel crafting daily, my cooking daily, and the Heroic Daily. Then I would plop myself into LFG for Heroic Violet Hold. After another unsuccessful run, I would log over to my hunter and repeat the dailies on my hunter. After that I was looking for something to do. I knew that later on in the night we were going to run 25 man Ony and ToTC, so I really didn’t have any raids to run. I decided that I would take a trip out to Zul’drak to search for Gondria. For those of you that do not have a hunter or know about pets, we have options when it comes to pets. The most elusive of pets are the rare spawns and a new class of pets called spirit beasts. There are currently three spirit beasts available to hunters in the game, and they all spawn in Northrend on 6-8 hour timers in multiple locations across the map.

Loque'nahak

Loque’nahak was the original spirit beast and spawned around the rim of Sholozar Basin. This is arguably the hardest spirit beast to tame because it is associated with the achievement to kill a rare elite in Northrend. Because of this, these spawn locations are camped by both hunters and achievement junkies. I tamed Loque back in december of 2008, right after I hit 80. It was pure luck that I stumbled across this beauty. I was farming herbs on my paladin and flying around my normal routine in sholozar. When I dropped down to pick an herb, the beast spawned almost on top of me. I taped her and got a mage friend to come out and keep Loque sheeped until I got my hunter out there. I logged on, had to port to Org to respec 51 points in BM, and hearthed out to Northrend. I was so worried that some alliance was gonna come by and gank my mage buddy. After a few nervous minutes, I tamed Loque’nahak and I became one of the first hunters on the server to have a spirit beast, on my alt none the less!

The search for gondria

Gondria was introduced into the game in patch 3.1 and was the new pinnacle of rare spawns. Gondria has five spawn locations that are scattered throughout the middle of Zul’Drak. Gondria was not part of the meta, and as such was a bit less camped when it came to competition to tame him. At one point when I was bored of doing dailies and running instances, I took my hardly played, T7 dusty hunter out there to search for spirit beast number 2. I was on a mission, and I really wanted this cat. Over the course of a week or so, I spent nearly 35 hours flying around ZD, watching movies, and hoping I would hear that illusive noise from my NPC Scan mod that searches for all rare elites at once. After that grueling week of tedious boredom, I gave up on Gondria.

At one point, a few months later, I was on my paladin in Dalaran and my NPC Scan blew up with Gondria. I would assume it was because of a glitch, or some hunter named the spirit beast that they tamed after the NPC. None the less, it was a nice little kick to the groin that I spent so much time with so little success. A few more months have passed since that day, and yesterday I decided that I would kill some time before the raid and fly around Zul’Drak. I started at about 3pm, and popped in a movie at the same time. Searching for a spirit beast is about as entertaining as leveling up fishing so you usually distract yourself as much as possible.

Two and a half hours had passed and it was getting close to raid time. I was winding down what was turning out to be another few hours of wasted time in game, when my phone rang. As I was talking on the phone, watching a movie, and not paying any attention what so ever to my computer, my speakers blew up! There were red flashing lights everywhere and my NPC scan had a lovely little box that said GONDRIA FOUND! I quickly clicked the box, found gondria, and dismounted. I had to abandon my pet, which at the time was a purple Raptor I affectionately called Barney for both the silly children’s TV icon as well as my favorite character on the tv show, How I Met Your Mother. After 20 seconds of suspense, I had my second spirit beast!

Gondria

Two Down, One To Go!

The third and final spirit beast in the game at the current time is Skoll. Skoll is a bright blue wolf with lightening shooting out of him. He is by far one of the coolest looking pets in the game, and that is saying a lot from a guy who thinks that the wolves look like crap in this game. I have a wolf as my raiding pet, but only because it is the best pet for dps. If there was no difference in the buffs that your pet gave you and the dps that they did, I would go back to using a cat. Anyways, back to Skoll. I don’t know if I have it in me to pick up Skoll. That would be the third Spirit Beast that I would have, and it would force me to make some rather difficult decisions when it comes to stable space. A hunter, when maxed out, has room for 5 pets, the one that he takes along with him, and four stable spots. Currently my stable is filled up with only rare pets and untamable pets. Deciding which one to get rid of may be more than I want to do.

I have Loque’nahak, Gondria (both of which can only be used when you are BM, limiting their play time considerably because BM is not what I raid as), Uhk’lok ( a rare gorilla out of Un’Goro that is all white with a blue face), and the Sapphire Hive Queen (per BRK – the LSD Wasp of doom) which is no longer tamable. Now while I no longer use the gorilla, and I could easily camp the spawn location, It just is not enough to make me get rid of it. This leaves me with the difficult decision of skipping any further spirit beasts until blizzard allows us to have more stable slots.

In the end, I am completely happy with the pets that I have, and after getting back into reading a few hunter blogs, I missed the thrill of the hunt! I guess I will just go on with my wolf until the day where Blizzard thinks that wolves have had their day in the sun and buff another pet, at which time I will head right over to Petopia and find the rarest and coolest looking pet on the market.

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10
Oct
09

My Anub’arak Unhittable Set

Anub’arak’s gear set

I finally got almost everything together and put some gems and enchants on my gear. After a bit of tweaking, it looks like I am almost there, but I need one key piece that will take a bit of farming to get. Lavanthor”s Talisman has been a thorn in my side for a very long time. I have always wanted it for a pvp set, so I could blow some people up with the on use, but now that I need it for my Anub set, I have ventured back into heroic violet hold on a daily basis to farm for this thing. When all is said and done, I have quite the interesting set that looks less than appealing, but serves its purpose.

Anub Block Set

As of now, I am two days of jewel crafting dailies to purchase the defense dragon’s eye pattern. Once that is done, I can cut my last three gems and I will be up about as far as I can go with my available gear. With everything equipped, I have 26% dodge, 20% parry, and 43% block. Add in the miss rate and raid buffs and I will be unhittable with about 35k hp and about 3000 Block Value.

Here is my Chardev set, with everything worked out. For some reason it does not show my increased benefit from potions that I get from Mixology. What I still need to figure out is do I want to sacrifice the hit that is on the T9 pants for the Wyrmguard Legplates to bolster my block rating. I guess it will all depend on whether or not I get the trinket before next Wednesday.

P.S. Gratz Meloree on the Kill… I’m still one boss behind you

EDIT: For some reason the Chardev link is acting really funny. IF there is a ring and a trinket missing from the set, the rings are the Signet of the Earthshaker and the Band of the Traitor King, while the trinkets are the Onyxia trinket and the Lavanthor’s Talisman.

09
Oct
09

Alts and Raiding progression instances

The Benefits of Geared Alts

This is mostly in response to a post that was put up a few days ago on World of Matticus by Lodur. I think there are some very valid points that are brought up with respect to an alt in a main raid, or even running alts through 10 mans with some mains to help them along, but what happens when you have a progression raid guild with a multitude of alts that are VERY geared. What I mean by very geared is that my alt, who is a lovely little hunter, is more geared that two of our main raiding hunters. With the exception of my trinkets i am in 232 and 245 gear. And I am the officer that hates leveling with a passion more than the others. Each of our officers has an alt that is fully capable of beating out some of our main raiders in their respective duties, and we play them as well as our raiders.

When it comes down to it, this is a huge benefit to the guild and the raid as a whole. We probably have about 15 alts that are geared to the level that they can one shot any boss in ToTC, and we do every week. Now our guild isn’t as hard core as others. What we do is we run our main raid with our best 25 and we clear all of ToTC on Tuesday. Sunday we come back with our Alt raid, plus the 5-10 other mains that did not make it into our Tuesday raid, and clear the instance again. We save all trophies till the end, and we allow all the mains to have one trump card so to speak. They can claim one piece of gear over anyone else in the raid, what piece is up to them. Also we give out the Trophies based on this same system. Everything else is rolled off equally.

As a result we net 10 trophies per week from 25 man raids. Add that to the three 10 man HM ToTGCs we run and you have 22 trophies a week. This is a major gear level upgrade for the guild as a whole. Now we never bring alts to the 25 man hard modes, but they do server their purpose in gearing up our main raid, and in the end, become very geared as well. This type of gear distribution leads to a very geared raid, very quickly. We have the ability to have more gear in the main raid that is physically possible if we would only run one 25 man raid a week. This results in some amazing performances from our raiders.

When is an alt ready for our raids

For the most part we do not allow under geared alts into our raids at all. I for one hate it when people want to be carried right up to the best tier of gear on their fresh 80. What we look for in our members when they want to bring an alt is that they have a vast knowledge about the class they want to play, they are geared and gemmed appropriately, and they have their rotations down. Now you would think that this is a lot to figure out, but its much simpler than you would think. Between our officers we have a Prot, Ret, and Holy Paladin, a Resto Shaman, an Ele Shaman, a Holy and Disc Priest, a Hunter, a Lock, a Mage, a Prot Warrior, and a Frost/Blood DK. On top of the fact that we have that wealth of knowledge, most of our best raiders are on their alts and calling out other people if they are doing something completely off base. As for the logistics of the raid, we have some ground rules for that as well.

We tell people that they are allowed to bring an alt to our 25 man alt run, but once they have decided on which one they bring, they are locked into that class, just as they are on their mains. Any switching of alts would require a formal request just like if they wanted to switch mains. This is really for two reasons. First, the distribution of gear is not spread too thin. If you allow someone to bring a different alt each week, none of their alts will perform to the level that is expected and the raid will suffer as a result. Where as if they bring the same alt ever week, they learn the encounters from that point of view, and they continually collect upgrades that increase their ability to contribute.

The largest problem that we have is class balance. If you look at the trends for alts, most healers and tanks want to switch it up a bit, and try their hands at dps. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t people that are extremely passionate about what they do, I have two tanks, and I love to tank, our GM has three healers! But when it comes to dps, they are usually very selfish and will roll nothing but another dps class, because healing and tanking don’t show you pretty numbers popping on your screen. When we first started invites to our alt runs, we had something like four locks, four hunters, four rouges, no tanks, and two healers. We are a bit more balanced now, but for the most part we have to sit the dps for healers. Our tanks on our alt runs are Mains, and they are two of our main tanks in guild that dont make it to the normal 25 man on Tuesdays.

All in all, any guild that can successfully pull off another 25 man ToTC should be doing it, even if it is a pain in the butt, because it will net you a lot more gear and a lot better performance week after week.

08
Oct
09

and…… dodgeball!

My trend was broken!

Over the past few weeks, I had noticed a trend in my blogging, and it was broken Tuesday night. Now I know that it is just coincidence, but every time I would complain about a boss, the next day they would die. So, according to plan, I started to complain about the Twins in hopes that they would get face rolled on Tuesday. Well so much for that theory. In the end, this week of raiding has been one of the most successful I can remember since the days of Black Temple, where our guild plowed through 6 new encounters in one week, landing us up against the shadow resist gear check that is Mother.

Tuesday was filled with mixed emotions for me. For yet another week, the bosses were very unfriendly to tanks. A few pieces of tanking loot dropped that every tank in our guild already had, the legs, the bracers, but still no cloak, neck, belt, or trinket. On the plus side, we once again went into the instance on Tuesday and one shot every boss that we have on farm, all of normal trial, and Beasts, Jaraxxus, and Faction Champs on heroic. Then the fun began.

I dont know how many attempts we got in the previous week on the Twins, but it wasn’t many, maybe 5 at the most. This lack of attempts was due mostly to the attendance issues that I have been talking about. But this week we got to twins with almost two hours left in our raid night. We set up groups and we started the long and painful process of having our ranged learn how to play dodgeball. Apparently they didn’t get the memo about the 5 D’s of dodgeball…
patches

Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive, and…….. Dodge!

As the night went on, the dodging got better, and the raid damage eased up. We got our aura masteries, bubble sacs, cool down times, and blootlusts coordinated, and we were making significant progress. Out of the 15 attempts that we did on Tuesday night, our best was 28%. Eventually we called the raid, and all the officers had this sinking feeling in our stomachs that we were going to have the same attendance issues that we did last week.

Well yesterday, I had to stay late at work to talk with my boss about a project I was working on, so when I finally logged in at 6:30 on the dot, the time that we normally pull, I found our guild in Onyxia. To me that was not a good sign. We only go to Ony or Vault if we don’t have the people to drop right into ToTGC. However, to my surprise, they were just about to down the loot pinata, and we had a new problem for a Wednesday, who do we sit. After a few minutes of discussion on who we wanted to bring in for our attempts for the night, we got our group and we headed up to ToTGC.

After all the buffs, flasks, and explanation for a few people that had not done the fight in 25 man Heroic, we pulled, we tanked, we got screwed again! The good news: we one shot them, the bad news: no neck. I will have to say that the fact that we one shot the boss eclipsed the fact that yet another week passed with out tank loot from ToTGC. I was quite proud of the fact that it only took us 16 attempts to down this boss, and that our largest barrier in the fight was attendance. It just makes me wonder if we had 25 people that showed up as much as the 15 that consist of our core raid, where would we be, probably wiping incessantly on Anub…

06
Oct
09

Loot RNG and Attendance RNG

RNG is well random, weird…

As I sit back and think about what my goals for the next few weeks are in WoW, it has brought to my realization that there are certain things about this game that are both frustrating and difficult when it comes to trying to be the best that you can be. The RNG associated with gear is a difficult pill to swallow, just because there are certain pieces of gear that will just make you that much better when it comes to a certain stat. And while you farm instances for the gear that will give you that little edge, some times that instance doesn’t reward you ever. The most drastic example of this that I have at the current time is the Unbreakable Chestguard. My guild has killed cat lady every single week that since the Ulduar patch day, and I have yet to see that piece of gear.

Normally I would not even care that a piece of block value / block rating gear drops or not, however, in building my passively unhittable set, it is a requirement (not even something that will help, but something that is really needed to get to passive). So, since mid April (I think), we have killed Auriaya every week, and yet we have never seen it. In contrast to that, every player that is covered by the vanquisher token has every off set piece of gear possible. We have had double vanq drop off every boss in the instance before in a single raid lockout. Also speaking of Ulduar, we went back a few weeks ago, and cleared the instance to get the last of our shards for our next mace, and we had the worst RNG possible, one shard off Yogg and nothing else. Now granted, the shards are not guaranteed to drop, but to get that small percentage off all the hard modes we did, plus all the other bosses, it is pretty incredible.

Ulduar is not where my story of bad loot luck ends either. In Trial, both normal and hard mode, I have yet to see a neck, a cloak, a trinket, or a belt. While my fellow tank has both the belt and the neck from a PUG the one week he missed, our guild has never seen any of those drop yet. It gets so frustrating to see tanks that can PUG the instance, that are not part of any guild on our server that has the ability to do a hard mode, wearing the gear that we have never seen drop. I am happy for them, that they have the chance to show off their 40k unbuffed full stam gemmed, double stam trinketed selves, but for our guild, we have just been unlucky.

Raid attendance and repercussions

A few of the officers in my guild had a nice lengthy chat this past weekend about our attendance issues. We are a guild that prides ourselves on raiding progression two nights a week and keeping up with guilds that raid 5 nights a week, yet we have issues with getting people to show up for the SECOND night of raiding. Tuesdays are easy, we have 35 people in the raid and we get to pick and chose the best comp with the best players, but Wednesday rolls around and people mysteriously disappear, and Sunday which is our Ulduar farming day is even worse. When it comes down to it, a lot of our members think that because we don’t raid as much, that they don’t have to show up.

Well what can you do, you can not force people to show up, but you can replace them. We have recently talked about retooling our ranking system in game to reflect raiding attendance more. And, in combination, we will be instituting new priorities on loot based on those new ranks. When we were a Sunwell guild, and a damn fine one at that, we never really had these problems, but then again we were in a different age of raiding, where it took a higher level of skill to even step foot in the instance. Now, we have to revisit loot rules and attendance policies every new instance, and stress to our core that we are constantly doing what we can to fill the raids.

In the end, we always progress, and we always kill bosses, but it is quite a bit more stressful on the officers than the normal raider will ever see. The things that we deal with selflessly in the name of the guild are quite the sacrifice on our sanity, and as a result every now and then you have to vent (as I am doing now). But in the end, it is always very rewarding to see your guild turn around after issues like this, and plow through content, have the attendance, and have everyone happy with their shiny new epics.

02
Oct
09

I love the beer…

Brewfest is great!

I have really enjoyed brewfest this year. Over the past four years that I have played this game, I really never understood the holiday events, the quests, the rewards, etc. But earlier this year I got hooked on the Midsummer’s Festival achievements, not because I love doing achievements, but for the GOLD! I found that on both my level 80 toons I could make tons of gold running from town to town talking to an NPCs! I did the entire thing twice. After that, I was hooked to any seasonal event that gave you free repair bills. Brewfest was a different type of beast. Having traveled to Munich for the actual Oktoberfest, loving the Movie Beerfest, and overall drinking lots and lots of beer in my life (yeah i know they are all different and only connected by alcohol), I had a certain affinity to getting drunk and doing stupid stuff in game. Last night was my final hurrah for my paladin. Most of my guild mates teased me for taking so long, but I am not someone who has the luxury of doing dailies every day, as I work all the way up until raid invites, and I dont really log on much on non raid days.

But, I made it, and I am now a brewmaster!

Brewfest

I think the things that I enjoyed the most about this particular event were the fact that everything you did seemed to be thought up by someone who was drunk and wanted to share in the merriment. I mean lets be honest, drunken dancing, ram riding, pound your beer and throw the mug at some dwarf, throwing up if you have too much, etc, etc. I have to say that I totally enjoyed my time in college, and I did my duty as a college student of personally putting some Coors executive’s kid through college, but I have grown up and dont really feel the urge to drink a lot any more (unless its a horrific night of wiping). However, this festival brought out the college kid in me, I wanted to go the the fridge, crack a cold one, or two, or ten!

Enjoy it while it lasts, you got 3 days…

01
Oct
09

Finding a new tank

Its been a busy day, and I really have not had time to sit down and write until now. I wanted to step away from the myriad of posts regarding min / maxing and the push between maximizing stamina and maximizing balance to talk about managing your guild. Specifically, what do you do when you have to replace a tank. For our guild, we have lost two tanks in the past few months to graduate school and a changing work schedule. As a result we were down to two tanks that were there the entire time, and a the other two that we would lean on from time to time to get things done. In the end, you will always survive, as we have continued to progress through the Trial of the Grand Crusade, but you have to deal with turn over on a regular basis, and there are a few things that I have learned over the years that help me with this.

Performance speaks for itself

Gear is replaceable, and is easily obtained when you are farming an instance. Specifically with the current difficulty, any one can obtain some T9 and badge loot. Performance however is not something that can be faked. In general, we make any applicant to our guild run in our alt 25 man ToTC so that the officers can monitor the play style, gear selection, and overall performance of any person that is interested in joining our raiding core. However with tanks you need even more scrutiny. For us, this is because tanks get gear for free. We prioritize all gear to our main tanks and they don’t need to worry about dkp at all. This is the way of a progression guild. From my perspective, in order to fall into this lofty category of loot sponge, you have to earn the right to bypass long standing guildies.

When we try out a new tank, we put them right into the furnace and we see what they are made of. Every new tank that has applied to our guild has been forced to main tank a progression style instance. And right behind that main tank are the officers alts, and our former main tanks turned casuals. By making someone MT an alt run, they are forced to show you their abilities, play style and demeanor when it comes to leading, all while knowing that they have no less than 7 sets of eyes fixed to the back of their heads. Now it helps us that a few of our officers alts are in the top 30 best geared on the server for their class, but none the less, we place pressure when it comes to threat, movement, marking, and overall cooldown management, to see how someone reacts in a dynamic situation.

For the last two tanks our guild has recruited, I was very impressed in their abilities to react quickly to the changing situations, and perform their jobs with relative ease. However, what happens once they have been let into your inner circle, and how do you incorporate them into a team of players that must act both selflessly and in unison to get a job done.

Creating an Environment of Inclusion

When dealing with our tanks, I always try to keep an open mind about where they are coming from and why they are here. There is no reason that we can not all have a great time, and be able to feel like we truly contributed to the raids success. When it comes to boss fights, unless it is a progression fight, we rotate who is on what in order to spice things up and ensure that every tank knows what each other is doing during the fight. If you only let a tank be the off tank that is on X mob, they will never have the confidence to step up the day that your “main tank” is not there, and after all tanking is all about confidence. By rotating the tanks around to different spots and different responsibilities, they all feel like they are equally essential to the raids success.

I think one of the true tests of a tanking core is gear selection and the method in which gear is handed out. For our guild, there is a “loose” loot council when it comes to tanking gear. What I mean by that is that the three of us decide who can benefit most by picking up a piece of gear. In the end if there are any disagreements, there is DKP and officer opinion, however we have yet to run into an issue where one tank will pull the dkp card. We all understand the loot, the gearing philosophies, and the needs of the individual character, and we put our best foot forward when it comes to upgrades. The fact that we distribute loot to the person who can benefit from it the most, and not necessarily the person who has the most dkp or is the most greedy to get that gear score up separates us from most wow players. When you feel like you have the power to get any piece of gear that you need, you are more willing to work with your fellow tanks.

Leading the tanking ranks

I find that one of the things that I enjoy the most about being an officer and a tank is that I get to lead the tanking core. This really forces me to learn the mechanics of fights better than the person next to me. Understanding the ins and outs of the fight means that you are prepared for what is to come. Assigning taunt rotations, placement, and movement is something that I really enjoy. This role becomes a bit more difficult when you bring a new tank into an existing core on farmed content. You have be sure that you communicate their specific role to the best of your ability so that there is no confusion when the encounter starts. The success of the raid is dependent on the consistency of the tanks and their ability to eliminate the guess work from the encounter.

I experienced this first hand last night on Anub’arak 10 man Hard Mode. In explaining the fight and how we do it to our new tank, I neglected to truly explain how to position him to help the add tank with pick ups. Essentially, the positioning was making the pickups and the interrupts difficult. This is something that I originally overlooked, and as a result cost us a few wipes. In the end, you have to ensure that you approach your tanks differently than the rest of your raid, as they are truly different. This is not to say that we are special, or we are more important, but we serve different roles, and become the focal point of a raid. There is more pressure on the tank than there is on the dps, and what we do effects everyone.




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