Friday, 31 October 2008

I Kam haz bat!

What an interesting Karazhan. With an AOE heavy party all the trash pulls were done as packs, no crowd control required. A crazy mage decided to frost nova the last pack of elementals in the Menagerie... right in the path of the Curator. A ninja pull resulted, but we still killed the Curator in his first evocation.

Kam went as Elemental DPS and, despite a lack of spell hit now Blizzard have reduced Shaman hit from talents, managed to do 700-800 dps. Kam went with a 58/3/0 build, taking Thunderstorm just because. Didn't use the thing the entire night though, there were no mana issues because of the raid nerfing, and the knock back looks dangerous in some tightly-packed areas. Kam also didn't take Call of Flame or Lava Flows because there is no Lava Burst spell yet. I'm hoping the promised Elemental AOE improvements come through, because watching Mages and Warlocks annihilate packs of mobs in 5 seconds flat while I get 1 chain lightning off is... depressing.

We also hit the Wrath event boss Prince Tenris Mirkblood, on which Kam did some off-healing because our Shaman healer had a sudden compulsion to bring his Warrior in for some axe or another. The fight was quite fun and the bat pet is pretty nice, it helps toward the pet achievement for a start.

I'm really looking forward to any further world events in the prelude to Wrath.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Christmas is coming: Kam's guide to the Winter's Veil achievements

Hey it's almost November, and you just know as soon as the Halloween stuff is gone from the shelves, the Christmas gear will replace it. In the same spirit, I have recently been looking at the Winter's Veil achievements.

One in particular stands out, Fa-la-la-la-Ogri'la, which used to require the Ogri'la dailies to be opened by doing the prereq quest chains, but reports from claim this is not the case any more.

'Tis the Season looks ok apart from the requirement to have 3 pieces of clothing, two can be crafted (by a Tailor and Leatherworker) hopefully from recipes acquired last year, but the hats dropped from bosses in various instances in 2007. In 2008 they dropped from various bosses, the easiest of which is Magus Telestra in The Nexus. Wowhead has the locations of the Winter Hats which thankfully range in level:

A Frosty Shake looks fine, the kit comes from doing one of the Veil quests and according to the Wowhead comments, you can be portalled or summoned to Dalaran at any level. Then a helpful guildie, also disguised as a snowman, can dance with you. In 2008 I also found several people as snowmen waiting for someone to come dance with them.

Crashin' & Thrashin' uses a Crashin' Thrashin' Racer Controller which comes from a present under the tree around the 25th. Once controlling the car, you need to press 1 to do the crash special when another car is directly in front of yours, within a small distance. Your car will leap forward and crash up anything in its path. A helpful guildie should be good for this, or alternatively there are a lot of people racing near the tree around the 25th. This is no longer required for the meta. Looting the present will also complete He Knows If You've Been Naughty, although Kam has this achievement because he has various pets from under last year's tree.

Let It Snow appears to be much like the Hallow's End Check Your Weight. It seems you can only get up to 5 snowflakes per hour by kissing revellers - you get a debuff preventing trying for more, much like the trick-or-treating in Hallow's End. A bit of grinding for the snowflakes will be in order, then you need to spot the right class/race combinations. Over Achiever will put an entry in your tooltip to tell you if you need to snowflake someone. In 2008 I had trouble finding a Draenei Priest, the rest were fine.

With a Little Helper from My Friends is another make-you-do-PvP under the influence of some buff achievement (cough GNERD Rage cough) which doesn't look to hard to do at some point over Winter's Veil. However the gnome costume fades if you die; so ideally you need to hide at the back in a battleground, or better still, ride in one of the vehicles in Wintergrasp and run over the opposing faction for many HKs.

Bros. Before Ho Ho Ho's requires a few pieces of Mistletoe, which you have a chance of getting when casting /kiss on a Winter Reveler. Again a debuff will prevent you from trying to get Mistletoe more than once per hour. With the introduction of the Winter Flying heirloom book, Horde need only be 68 to fly to the Airship in Icecrown for this, to mistletoe Brother Keltan. Or you could try one of these tactics.

Scrooge looks simple, but might land Kam in hot water with the Thunder Bluff faction for snowballing his faction leader. He will claim it was the nearby Undead who did it.

The other achievements look quite straightforward to do, just complete the usual Winter's Veil quests.

So things to do before Winter's Veil starts:

Once this Hallow's End madness is finished Kam will start on those Ogri'la dailies.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Shadow of Doom tanked by Earth Elemental

As part of the current zombie events, the scourge invasion is back. Floating necropolises are appearing all over the world and, keen to acquire a Tabard of the Argent Dawn, Kam headed into the Eastern Plaguelands to kill some scourge invaders.

Joining a pick up group, the initial attackers were repelled easily. However we had no tanks in the group, so when the Shadow of Doom spawned, Kam quickly summoned an Earth Elemental which proved hard enough to tank the Shadow of Doom, so long as earth shield and riptide were kept up on it.

Now to grind another 9 or so Necrotic Runes...

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Nerfed Karazhan

Thursday night Kam went into Karazhan as healer, with the intention of trying out a 0/0/61 spec, seeing how using a spell rotation as suggested by Jagerbombz would work.

Unfortunately Karazhan is now just plain easy. Before patch 3 we could get almost all the bosses killed in 3 lots of 3.5 hour runs, except maybe Nightbane, over a total of 10 and a half hours. Last night we killed everything except Nightbane, Illhoof and Maiden in 3 and a half hours. I mean really. We even killed the elite packs of party guests! Kam managed to grab the tier 4 gloves and helm and many badges.

An earth shield and riptide was all that was needed to keep the main tank up, and some chain heals to top the raid off. While I agree that Blizzard spending a lot of time balancing stuff at level 70 would be a waste of their time, it seems the only serious healing practise is to be had in Zul'Aman or some new instances come Wrath.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Sinister Squashlings in Treat Bags

Ok so this is odd, doing the Trick Or Treat quest, Kam got a Hallowed Helm in the treat bag from Razor Hill. Then my druid got a Squashling in another treat bag from Shattrath! Looks like they have been added to the possible drops, so maybe farming treat bags is the way to go. Now if only I could get both on the same character...

Did the horseman leave his melee ring in his tomb?

Another night, another run into the SM Graveyard in the hopes of getting a Sinister Squashling. Our group this time was a feral druid tank, rogue, another rogue and a protection paladin in DPS gear. As a sign of how non tricky this encounter is, all Kam needed to do was to put earth shield (not improved) onto the druid tank and drop the occasional riptide. Without a healing stream totem down - I suspect with one down Kam could have read the gravestones or maybe popped off into the SM library to read some books while the fight was going on.

On the first kill, the Squashling dropped, won by one of the rogues with a roll of 99! I rolled anyway but had little hope of besting 99, and sure enough I didn't. The rest of the time the Signet Ring and Witches Band dropped. Have they removed the melee ring? 13 kills and no sign of it at all.

Not to mention the Hallowed Helm which is the other item for the Hallows End achievement. I've never seen that drop. The Random Number Generator can be a cruel mistress sometimes.

Image courtesy of David Besa.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Achievement-oriented task bloat

It is a good job the default UI won't track more than one achievement, otherwise my brain would overload attempting to coordinate my activities in WoW to achieve the maximum number of achievements!

Only yesterday Kam wandered up to Zangarmarsh to do the fishing daily. While he was there he spotted a pool of some fish he'd not fished from yet. Remembering there is a fishing achievement for fishing from different types of pool, out came the fishing rod and 1 fish later it was done. Now we can get the daily done.

Then Kam spotted some wreckage. Remembering there is an achievement for fishing from each different type of wreckage, out came the fishing rod. Maybe now we can do the daily.

Ah but what is that, a Bogflare Needler, which drops a rare Firefly pet to count toward the 50 pet achievement. After killing around 20 and no pet, Kam finally did the fishing quest - so he could get the achievement for doing all the fishing dailies!

Kam had of course checked the fishing daily in the hope it was the crocs one... for a chance for more pets. Shortly after fishing out of pools in Terrokar for the chance of a Mr Pinchy (both pet and fishing achievement)...

Aim: 1 fishing daily. Result: many distractions trying to complete achievements. Next time I won't read the achievements for the area...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Gutless Horseman

Today Hallow's End begins! Along with a massive number of achievements to gain for the probably-impossible title, there is the small matter of a non-combat pet, the Sinister Squashling, to obtain.

So the merry band of Kam, resto specced, 3 hunters and a resto druid headed into the SM Graveyard. Given we had no tanks interested, we had a tenacity pet tank the Horseman. This boar has 12,000 armour and was pretty good it has to be said, an Earth Shield and druid HoTs were all that was needed to keep him up.

Oddly each party member (but the one who had done it before) could summon the Horseman twice, so we got 8 cracks at it. A few items dropped including the Witches Band which made a nice healing upgrade, and finally the Squashling itself. Unfortunately Kam lost the roll, but at least it has dropped, so hopefully with more cracks at the Horseman there's a decent chance of getting it.

Things I learnt healing:

  • Riptide. It's so nice to finally have a HoT!
  • Mana usage. Mana usage was ok but I had to use Mana Tide Totem once per fight, and keep away from the Mana Pots because now you can only use one pot per fight.
  • Overheals. Over healing was quite... large, due to dropping a Chain Heal on the pet when it had taken a little damage, the heal lands for 4k and so much of it is over healing. I am still in the mindset to heal early and often, which is a problem when your smallest heal lands for 2k or so!
  • Rotations. I've still not figured out this healing spell rotation, although I was cancelling many of the heals in this fight so didn't get a chance to really test the new spells and talents out.
  • Not much else, this fight is still ludicrously easy really.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Goodbye WoW 2.0

It's with mixed emotions I install patch 3.0.2 this morning. WoW 2.0 was much like an old, faithful maggot; I knew my classes well, knew what they could do and what to expect from them. I knew how 2.0 worked, how the economy functioned, how the professions did their things. I knew about spell down ranking, the dear Windwall Totem, Grace of Air Totem, all of you. In WoW 2 I stepped into my first raid, Karazhan, and killed the mighty Prince. We entered the lair of Gruul and saw him fall. The hybrids paid their penalty for being so flexible by suffering less DPS, or so was claimed. The hour of the druid was nigh, ferals turned into viable tanks and had massive health and armour. Shaman well, got earth shield and I discovered they could heal 5 mans and raids.

Now all that is past, swept away by the winds of change. Today a new dawn broke across Azeroth, everything has changed. I just hope my Feats of Strength achievements have been recorded correctly!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

I shall call him Muckbreath and he shall be my Muckbreath

The fishing daily yesterday was Crocolisks in the City. Kam's reward: a fillet knife, Elixir of Water Walking (really useful for a Shaman, thanks for that Old Man Barlo) and most awesome of all Kam's very own Muckbreath's Bucket containing one little cute Muckbreath!

Fishing rocks.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Looking forward to dual specs

I'm quite excited by the recent mentions of dual talent specs made by Blizzard, more so because they promise some information at Blizzcon on Friday and Saturday. I feel a hybrid class should be able to embrace every aspect of their abilities and talents, doing damage when called for, healing when needed, tanking when they fancy it. I'm realistic that doing all of these at once would be unbalanced and result in most people rolling with the same class, but the ability to respec and go from a healer to a solid damage class is lovely. However the respec process uses precious time; travelling to a capital city in Azeroth, unlearning talents, then painstakingly selecting each talent point from a spec you may or may not have written down. I find a respec is best done with some advanced notice.

Last night there was a sudden gap in the upper Karazhan raid, a warlock had gotten the 'flu (surprising because they should just drain life till they feel better or take a health stone), so there was a DPS slot to fill. I had effectively no time at all to prepare; a summon was available but that was it. Kam is currently Resto, so is unable to fill a DPS slot, so I took my hunter along instead. The time it would take to respec would be time spent holding up the other 9 people on the raid, I wouldn't do it.

With the ability to switch talents from Resto to a pre-canned Elemental build, Kam could have logged on, be summoned, switched spec, geared up and be ready to rock the Prince. In a montage with rock music, if you prefer. I know I do.

The benefits for healing classes if they could solo and quest using their DPS spec is also very high. So I will be keeping a keen eye on any announcements from Blizzcon regarding plans for easier talent spec switching. It's very exciting.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Why Other MMOs Don't Threaten My WoW

This week on the Blog Azeroth shared topic, Skaarjonic asks if other MMOs threaten WoW. Firstly I don't play all that much, maybe 8 hours a week, so there is still plenty to do in the game even now. For another game to take me away from WoW it would have to be more fun, simple as that.

For me, the fun factors in WoW are the abundance of quests for levelling, the interesting little touches such as easter eggs, the long quest chains with an epic feel, the list goes on. Making gold by messing with the auction house or getting a valuable rare drop is a fun sub game in its own right. All of these would have to be present in some way or another in a new game, or things which are even more fun, to make me want to switch.

Friends and cohorts also keep me stuck to WoW - the crazy vent chat during raids, the rich and amusing characters in the guild. They would have to move across to any new game for me to consider moving, or at least the ones I liked ;)

I used to play Starwars Galaxies which had a woeful questing system and had little to do beyond grinding in caves. My friends also played, so we stuck with it, until the WoW open beta came out. Suddenly the urge to log into Galaxies was replaced with a compulsion to explore this strange new place called Azeroth and, when the game was launched, we all ditched Galaxies and moved over.

So while I'm still having fun in WoW with friends, I can't be tempted anywhere else. If it stops being fun, or much more fun can be had elsewhere, we may all leave. With an expansion due soon and thus lots more fun to be had, I can't see that happening any time soon.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

They made me heal middle Karazhan!

What a bunch of ... anyway due to there only being 2 healers signed, Kam was set up to be healer for more Karazhan chaos. Under strict instructions not to skip Aran for Chess, we went into see Medivh's father.

  • The Shade of Aran. The trash between the Menagerie and Aran's room hit really hard, particularly the Arcane Protectors, so much so that Kam was spamming lesser healing wave onto the tank and using his entire mana pool for each pull. I was totally not expecting that and got caught out on the first pull. Dead tank oops.

    The Aran fight itself was chaos; whoever was targeted by arcane missiles would take damage so quickly that only a lesser healing wave could save them. Often I would try to use a chain heal, but the cast time seemed too slow. After both us healers died, the time came for the DPS to step up and kill the old codger. Which they duly did.
  • Chess. Without specific instructions not to do Chess, we did. Healing was erm... someone else took control of the healing piece so I had to DPS. The chest contained a nice pair of leggings which are a great upgrade over the PvP healing legs.

Rant on.
During all of the trash pulls and probably boss fights, the rogue would insist on standing right in front of the mob, swinging away at its face. Now enough people have already posted that this is a really bad thing, honestly everyone knows rogues do it from behind. Not only does standing in front affect your personal DPS, but the resulting parries make the mob hit faster. Hit the tank faster. The tank who I am trying to keep alive. So please for the sake of the Earthmother, DPS behind the mob.
Rant off.

Perhaps I've discovered why the tank was taking so much damage from Arcane Protectors?

Friday, 3 October 2008

Healing in lower Karazhan

With jagerbombz and Anna's sage words of wisdom ringing in my ears, Kam stepped into Karazhan as healer for the first time. Oh gods.

Luckily Kam was paired with a fairly uber resto druid and had at least seen the fights before, so I knew what to expect. Still, it was a nerve-racking experience.

  • Attumen. The approach to Attumen was fine and the fight itself was very straightforward. Kam was assigned to heal the Off Tank and during the mounted phase did pretty much nothing except cancel heals.
  • Moroes. The trash before Moroes was interesting; the packs required spotting which AOE-capable DPSer would be pulling the threat and tanking (hint: Boomkin), then earthshielding them and keeping up a mixture of healing wave, lesser healing wave when they took lots of damage, and chain heal when others needed a top up. Crazy boomkins.

    The Moroes fight itself was the stuff of my nightmares - the garrottes do 360 damage per second so frantic chain healing and lesser healing wave was needed to keep everyone alive. The off tank was garrotted but didn't call it out, so he suddenly died. Luckily Moroes was almost dead and was swiftly killed.
  • Opera: Big Bad Wolf. The trash up to Opera was again fine, the Boomkin had an earth shield and Kam's full attention for the packs. The Wolf fight itself was fairly straightforward - following the guides above Little Red Riding Hood got an earth shield and lesser healing wave spammed onto them. Generally they survived too, which is always nice (sorry Honeydew).
  • Curator. The approach to Curator was not smooth, more like mildly lumpy. The raid was unable to cope with 3 of the Ghastly Haunts by the back door - a single Haunt does a load of damage, never mind 3. We were also unable to cope with 2 packs of arcane creatures in the Menagerie at once. As you can tell, there was much ninja pulling.

    The ninja pulling included the Curator himself, who attacked a player who strayed too close, causing us to hastily form a U shape and Ablaze the mage to sling on what arcane resistance gear he could to soak. Healing on the Curator was very mana intensive - DPSers were taking damage from sparks and the melee who were chasing them took the brunt of it. Luckily chain heal is an awesome spell and with druid HoTs on everyone we managed to kill Curator.
  • Maiden. After the heart-attack that was Curator, the raid moved onto an easier target, most illegally it turns out. Somewhere in our long forgotten raid forum lies a post describing how Maiden is to be left for the second or third raid night, but we erm forgot about that.

    The trash up to Maiden only became tricky when the Phantom Guardsmen summoned two Phantom Hounds which promptly attacked the healers. Kam still uses a shield so he has a decent amount of armour and can tank a hound for a while, our resto tree druid isn't so lucky and is quite squishie; I had to be alert for her taking damage and be ready with the lesser healing wave to help out.

    The Maiden fight itself proved tricky; during the Repentance stun we had an earth shield and druid HoT on the tank, but it was not enough to keep him alive, so a few wipes resulted. Eventually we got the tank to drag maiden over to us to break us out of repentance so we could carry on healing and the Maiden was killed.

The loots were the Dragon-Quake Shoulderguards, an improvement over Kam's old PvP shoulders, plus some loot no one wanted for off spec. Healing Karazhan is scary!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Brewfest Ram raiding

After hanging around until the Tuesday raid finished, Kam managed to scam a group together to go try Coren Direbrew again. This time we had a druid tank, hunter, melee combat specialist and feral druid. The fight went far quicker than before and Kam only died once, right at the end when he got swamped by adds. The melee DPS were dodging the whirlwind well, so they didn't require a lot of healing.

Coren dropped his lucky coin and, as the only shield user in the party, Kam got it... for off, off really off-spec. The kodo didn't make an appearance but but the Swift Brewfest Ram did drop and Kam won the roll, hurrah!

With the ram safely in the bag, as it were, all that remains for this year's beer fest is to grind more tokens for clothing, given Kam became a member of the Brew of the Month club. Then hopefully next year the title can be secured.

The ram still doesn't fit under the bleeding elevator door in the Undercity however.
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