Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tis the season to be alting

Midsummer is here, with it some achievements to go grind and some fires to visit for really easy gold or XP.

It is also the traditionally slack summer season, where droves of people go on holiday. Our guild is currently experiencing the great tank drought of 2009 as it has been named. When a tank goes on holiday their absence is keenly felt.

Something must be done! If you dance around a Ribbon Pole during the Fire Festival for 60 seconds, you get the Ribbon Dance buff which increases XP for killing monsters by 10%. This combined with a tasty heirloom item means a lot faster levelling. The poles are scattered around all over the place, so they are usually close to any zone.

Additionally, visiting a fire and honouring it yields 3200 XP (at level 50), which given you just fly around and run a little way to each fire, is pretty much free XP if you can spare the time.

So for the next couple of weeks, when raids are inevitable cancelled, I'll be running around with my Druid making the most of the free XP boosts.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Back In A Skirt (Again)

Tuesday night, Naxxramas 10 and Thaddius is the target for the Tier leg token. Amazingly the big sparky git actually drops it, and as the only main and Warrior/Shaman/Hunter on the run, Kam won it.

I promptly handed the token in for the Heroes' Earthshatter War-Kilt. The stats on this thing are very nice, hit rating, crit and attack power, and none of that funny ArPen stuff. It also has two sockets I can stuff yet more hit rating gems into. It's a big upgrade over my previous Giantmaim Legguards.

However... it may be called a Kilt, but we can all see what it looks like... a skirt. A fetching, metallic blue skirt, but skirt-like never-the-less. Still Kam will be wearing it for the uber stats.

To use 4T7 or not?
With the legs, Kam is wearing 3 pieces of the Tier 7 set, with the gloves sat in the bank because he has the Gloves of Taut Grip. However I wanted to know whether it was worth using the Tier 7 gloves to get the 4 piece set bonus. To figure this out, I turned to Enhsim. I used ShockAndAwe to export two configs; one with the Tier 7 gloves and one with the Gloves of Taut Grip. I then enabled the set bonus appropriately, and ran 4 simulations, with and without replenishment.

4 piece T7 set (no replenishment) 2839
3 piece T7 set (no replenishment) 2833
4 piece T7 set (replenishment) 2854
3 piece T7 set (replenishment) 2836

It looks like (in theory) the 4 piece T7 bonus edges out the superior Ulduar gloves, but only just. There are many reasons why these figures can be wrong - I haven't selected all the buffs I could have, and I can't guarantee certain buffs either. One thing is certain, with replenishment the 4pcT7 gets better, probably because the Tier gloves have less intellect than the Gloves of Taut Grip. Rawr also backs this up, showing the Tier 7 gloves as a big upgrade.

So with the acquisition of a fine melee skirt, I shall use the Tier 7 gloves and take the 4 piece set bonus. Then worry a lot if I ever have to break the set!

Friday, 12 June 2009

A Story Of One Wipe and No Drakes

Thursday night and nothing much is going on (apart from the rest of the guild are in Ulduar 10). Although I'd like to finish off some Heroics, I spotted a call for Obsidian Sanctum 25 on the city general channel. I've done OS 10 a couple of times, so how different can it be? Given I have little use for Emblems of Heroism, a nice run into somewhere where some Valor can be had looks good.

The difference between OS10 and OS25 is mostly that Kam had all the buffs I could ever want, and it's a bit busy in there. Take a look at the picture to the left, somewhere in that mess of melee is Kam and I'm meant to be running out of void circles. However, with the stack of Death Kniggets, rouges and hunter pets, I'll be a monkey's uncle if I can spot a void circle.

Luckily the tactics were the same on 10 man for the Drakes - into the portal for Shadron and Vesperon to kill their Acolyte, ignore the portal for Tenebron and just AOE the whelps should they emerge.

The sheer age of my PC also shows in these 25 mans - 2.5 times as many graphical effects and people make the frame rate take a nose dive.

Facing off against Sartharion, the shear number of raiders present made the encounter feel more epic. There was also a hell of a lot more adds to keep under control, so much so that unlike on 10 man, we had to actually AOE them down at certain points. This did not go so well the first time and the raid was killed by a lot of enraged fire elementals. The Magma totem was very handy here - it could DPS the boss and the adds without fear of getting destroyed.

Finally with 6 players left standing, Sartharion's rampage through the remaining raid was brought to a halt and he did the decent thing and died. He coughed up the Hyaline Helm of the Sniper too, which is an awesome helm that Kam won the roll on. I did have to take the not-quite-optimal Accurate Monarch Topaz to activate the meta gem, but as I stuck a Relentless Earthsiege Diamond in there, I think it's worth it.

This was a typical PUG too, the DPS stats were posted after the first lot of trash. Luckily Kam was up there at number 3, as I seem to be able to manage around 3k now. Big fish in a small pond? Most likely methinks, I suspect a lot of the raiders were alts. I also took stats so I could spy on my fellow Enhancement Shaman, armory them and figure out what gear they had I should be looking at. All good research, you understand.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Shaman Q&A with Ghostcrawler

Thanks to Windfury for the heads up, the first in a series of Class Q&A has been posted... and its all about Shamans! Ghostcrawler and the development team answer some pretty interesting questions and throw up some interesting ideas.

For example they are looking at some way to "drop four totems on one global cooldown", which I would really like as currently I have a castsequence macro I have to mash to get all 4 down, taking 2 seconds and valuable DPS time.

One odd thing is a longer term change "removing the buff totems (replacing them with normal spells) and making all of the totems do something more active, like the current damage or healing totems." I mostly drop buff totems anyway (SoE, WF, Flametongue, even Mana Stream is logically equivalent to the Paladin mana buff) so more "active totems" would be interesting, although if I was buffing raid members using spells, would I need some mod like Pally Power to make it easier?

It also looks like Shamans should get more health in 3.2, they say "Nobody currently working on classes can remember why that decision (low base health) was initially made, so we plan to revert it for 3.2". I've found that running with Toughness in your build makes a really noticeable difference to the survivability in PvE, of course at the cost of DPS, so some free stamina would be most welcome. Especially for those damn whirlwind mobs!

Restos rejoice, they "think Restoration shamans are at the risk of running out of mana perhaps more than any other healer right now... This is a problem we plan on addressing". Not that I've seen any mana issues in my limited healing in Naxxramas 10, but that is hardly cutting edge stuff.

Lots more - go check it out!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Emalon, no so pinata like

Last week at a barbecue I attended, someone brought a pinata which we tried to gently damage, but it was very tough and possessed almost unreasonable melee damage mitigation. It was only when a member of the group became enraged that it split to spill the candy goodness (ok, it was me).

Which brings me onto Emalon and Kam's attempts to kill him. The first issue is usually that the DPS in a raid need to do 2000 DPS minimum, whereas some puggers don't. The 2 trash mobs just before Emalon will explode if they aren't killed in time, which is usually a bad sign - on the first Emalon 25 pick up group I got into, the raid was wiped by the trash and then by Emalon himself. The second PUG I got into managed to kill the trash, although they apparently swapped some low DPS out after the first mob.

The tactics for the fight are reasonably straightforward - Emalon occasionally does a Lightning Nova AOE which he casts for 5 seconds before it goes off, during the cast melee need to leg it out, then back in once the cast has gone off. There are 4 adds called Tempest Minions who are off tanked somewhere else. Occasionally Emalon will do an "Overcharge" on one of them, at which point the Minion gains an Overcharged buff, one every 2 seconds, which stacks to 10 then the mob explodes, killing everyone. So as soon as overcharge happens, the valiant melee need to run over to where the adds are tanked, select the overcharging one and kick the buggery out of it. Ranged of course get to select the overcharged mob and continue DPS.

Now selecting which mob is overcharged can be tricky. They are fully healed when they gain the buff, so you could spot the fully healed one, except that when a new add appears, it is also fully healed. The adds are also very tall, so enabling enemy name plates means melee can still only see their knees, not the health on the name plates. I eventually settled on the tactic of tabbing to a mob as Kam runs across to them - usually the 1st mob selected is the right one. I check the buffs on the mob - it should be showing the Overcharged buff, complete with little lightning icon. If that is not there, I've got the wrong mob and need to hit tab some more.

The first PUG I got into couldn't kill the overcharged Tempest Minion in time. The second PUG were getting the minions down by 8 or 9 overcharged stacks and we seemed to be doing well.

A further complication is that Emalon has a berserk timer at 6 minutes, after which he enters hard enrage mode and 1 shots everyone. This is reached when the raid does not have sufficient DPS, or most cruelly not sufficient DPS on the boss to kill him in time. On my second PUG we were killed by the berserk timer.

Because running from Emalon to his adds and back again wastes DPS time for melee, and running in and out for Lightning Nova also wastes DPS time, this fight really doesn't favour melee. In fact PUG groups mainly look for ranged and don't like taking melee that much. They also tend to ask for the achievement, which is kind of chicken-and-egg if you don't have it... you can't get into a PUG to get it. They also tend not to want to kill Archavon until Emalon is dead, which means the chances for an Archavon kill have pretty much evaporated.

So Kam's progress in getting Emalon down has been bad thus far, still I'm all in it for cheesy achievements and the chance at some loot. Oh, and another Archavon kill please.
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