Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wherein it all goes a bit Monty Python

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, to combat the rising tide of raid unorthodoxy, the raid who wiped lots on Hodir gave several members leave to move without let or hindrance throughout the land, in a reign of pondering, complaints and terror that makes a smashing blog post...

Chapman: Trouble at raid.
Cleveland: Oh no - what sort of trouble?
Chapman: T'heals on't 'odir frozen blows gone owt askew on raid.
Cleveland: Pardon?
Chapman: [irritated] The heals on the frozen blows phase of Hodir have gone askew in the raid.
Cleveland: Well what on earth does that mean?
Chapman: *I* don't know. All I did was DPS and wipe lots on a Hodir attempt, I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[The door flies open and in comes some Inquisition types]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is failbot... failbot and forum posts... forum posts and failbot...

Our two weapons are forum posts and failbot... and ruthless coffee discussions...

Our *three* weapons are forum posts, failbot, and ruthless coffee discussion... and an almost fanatical devotion to Wow Web Stats parses....

Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as forum posts, failbot.... I'll come in again.

[The Inquisition exits]

Credit to this place. Also the discussions about the many Hodir wipes have been entirely reasonable, but when my twisted mind thought of this, I couldn't let it lie. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Healing Heroic Halls of Stone

Kam had just the Halls of Stone left to complete for his Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement, significant not for the 20 points but because then I would have seen all the 5 man instances in Wrath. Luckily I got into a group consisting of mad fire mage, warlock, paladin tank and warrior tank/dps. So who was healing then?

Yes, it was me. Putting his Enhancement gear aside, Kam switched to healing spec and equipped his collection of crusty resto gear, ranging in power from Drape of the Offering Branch from Sholazar Basin to Steamcaller's Totem from FL 25. I really ought to do something about that cloak. The trash was fine, but how did those bosses go?

A giant stone guy who does a knockback then stun much like Gruul. This was done messily - the knockback interrupts healing and the stun is also a pain, I kept ES and riptide on the tank, but the group were spread out to avoid the stun damage, so CH was useless. We eventually DPSed through the annoying stuns using Bloodlust, and I managed to keep everyone up.

Maiden of Grief
Good grief this was hard! She stuns the party for 10 seconds often, the trick is to step into a void circle just before so you get broken out. My PvP trinket worked the first time to break the stun, however I sometimes managed to fail to get into the void circles in time and got stunned for 10 seconds, during which the tank died. Eventually we sort-of got this right although a few people died. Messy.

The Tribunal of Ages
A crazy survival encounter during which the group are rushed by increasingly large waves of adds. The Healing Stream totem was nice to mitigate the random party-wide damage here. When the encounter cranked to 11, we were quickly swamped and I was killed. Luckily with 2 tanks we managed to hold the adds for long enough for Brahn to activate the lightning switch and kill them all... we were dead, but ran back while he was doing his interview. Messy.

Sjonnir the Ironshaper
Some sort of tank and spank but with adds and a nasty lightning shield buff which should be spellstolen. The fight was not bad but Sjonnir's damage was massive so the MT died fast, the OT took over and I kept him up till right near the end, when he took a 15k hit and died too. Luckily the DPS nuked Sjonnir and he died with the rest of us dead. Messy.

I think I might try Healbot, using Grid and pressing spells was a bit clicky. I also need far more practise at healing, which may be forthcoming in patch 3.2. I could do with getting that healing gear enchanted to!

Northrend Dungeon Hero and Master
The result was finally I've done all the Heroics at least once and a nice set of achievements spammed guild chat. Sadly gear-wise I am pretty much done in Heroics for enhancement, just a trinket would be nice such as Meteorite Whetstone, Incisor Fragment or Sphere of Red Dragon's Blood. However, I've recently spotted Mark of Supremacy on the PTR and ... wow, for 25 Emblems of Triumph we get 128 hit rating and 1024 AP for 20 seconds? Pretty sweet. Roll on 3.2!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Grinding Shatari Skyguard reputation

Although the flying windrider mount is all very nice, I'm always after something a bit different. So, hearing that Sha'tari Skyguard reputation is now quite easy to get, Kam has been lurking in Terokkar Forest for the last few weeks. Although the dailies do give a lot of reputation, it is now easily possible to continuously grind Skyguard reputation through the Elixir of Shadows.

World of Shadows
The quest World of Shadows gets you started, it only needs the collection of 6 shadow dust from various arakkoa around the Skettis mountains. You then get one Elixir of Shadows which, when imbibed, allows you to see shadowy arakkoa and kill them. While under the influence you should also do Secrets of the Talonpriests. Talonpriest Ishaal drops Ishaal's Almanac which starts the quest chain needed later.

I tended to start up on one of the buildings, chuff the pot, then go round killing normal and Time-Lost skettis alike. Each kill awards 10 Skyguard reputation.

Time-Lost Scrolls
While you see shadowy things, there is a chance to get Time-Lost Scrolls from the Time-Lost Skettis. They also drop shadow dust. I was able to collect around 40 pages for every 20 minute buff the Elixir of Shadows gave. So? 10 of these can be used to summon each mini-boss in the Skettis area, each boss gives 100 rep per kill. There is also a one time quest Adversarial Blood for killing all 4 which awards 350 rep, and a repeatable follow up Tokens of the Descendants for 350 rep. These quests require following the quest chain started with Ishaal's Almanac.

The mini bosses are summoned from the summoning circles in Skettis, and they are all soloable for a Shaman.

Karrog hits hard, so I generally used either Spirit Wolves, a shield or Shamanistic Rage to out heal or reduce the damage. Darkscreecher Akkarai, Gezzarak the Huntress and Vakkiz the Windrager are all easy and can be tanked while dual wielding. Kam soloed all 4 while wearing mid-level Naxxramas 10 gear.

I will comment that the increased stamina from Toughness helps a great deal here, you don't need a load of DPS to kill these mini bosses so extra stamina means less Maelstrom Weapon stacks used on heals.

Time-Lost Offering
Should you kill all 4 mini bosses, you will be given a Time-Lost Offering to treasure for all time, or use to summon Terokk the big bad of the Terokkar area, for Terokk's Downfall. Now I found Terokk seriously tricky to solo and in fact only succeeded when an Alliance dwarf tanked him in the second phase. A spec with Toughness will help here, cos he does a shed-load of damage should he hit you, or bring some friends. Kill Terokk and you get 500 reputation plus 1000 for handing in the quest.

Round and round
Alternatively I used the approach as posted all around the internet - get 6 shadow dust by killing arrakoa, get an Elixir of Shadow, go berserk killing everything in sight while the buff lasts and collect 40 Time-Lost Scrolls, summon and kill the 4 mini bosses, hand in their bits for a Time-Lost Offering, then rinse and repeat. Ignore Terokk unless you have friends. I always got at least 6 shadow dust from priests and arrakoa while collecting scrolls, in fact my bank is somewhat overstocked with Elixir of Shadow.

But there are dailies too!
I will say that while grinding round Skettis killing birdmen by the hundred is quite fun, if you are on limited time the dailies in Skettis and Blades Edge also award good reputation for less time investment. But of course you can't do those dailies repeatedly in one day... because they are daily.

Kam is now the proud owner of a Purple Riding Nether Ray and a little Nether Ray Fry. So why am I championing Wyrmrest Accord reputation? I still fancy a dragon really...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Ulduar melee attack

The Ulduar 10 raid ran last night, dare I say the Great Tank Drought of 2009 is over? The Elder Brethren faced Auriaya, Hodir, Razorscale and Ignis... with a raid consisting of 4 melee DPS and 1 ranged stood all on his own.

The melee-heavy nature of the raid caused certain issues with some of the bosses. Can you guess which ones?

We were all clumped together in front of the crazy cat lady, in melee range, so there were no issues here. She died first time to our army of DKs.

Keeping moving was easy for us melee, the tank was dragging Hodir all over the place and jumping doesn't seem to interrupt any of the swings or casts. However, one key aspect of the fight is to get buffs from the fires, columns of light or storm clouds. The fires and columns of light are static and the buffs only last while you're standing in them, which is great for ranged but pretty impossible for melee if the tank is moving Hodir around, past and out of their range. The storm cloud can be got from the Shaman NPC and shared with the melee, so thats ok. Basically getting the buffs is hard!

Freeing the NPCs from their ice blocks is also tricky when 4/5 dps are melee, we ended up with little time to DPS Hodir because we were running around freeing NPCs. After a few wipes we left the Boomkin and Priest to their fate and concentrated on the Shaman and Mage.

A few ranged seems quite critical on this fight, to free the NPCs and stand in fires or moonlight. 1 ranged wasn't enough for our attempt. We eventually hit the enrage timer on this fight and gave up to go kill...

Loot pinata basically, the 1 ranged operated the harpoons and the rest of us were free to run around DPSing. With Magma totem and DK aoe thingies, we could just AOE the adds and then kick seven shades of snot out of Razorscale.

You know the part where a ranged has to do a 5k+ crit on a brittle construct? Yeah. Our shadow priest actually managed to do this, which is good as we had no other options in ranged-type persons.

However we had limited time and after one wipe, decided to try a DPS race on Ignis while the poor off-tank kited all the constructs that Ignis spawned. We almost had the bugger too, but wiped with 100k health left.


I have noticed the composition of our raids have changed since Wrath. In TBC we were very ranged heavy, we only had rogues and some times we had no melee DPS at all. When they added the Death Knight class, a lot of ranged players switched to DKs and we are often melee heavy. I guess it doesn't help that I swapped from Hunter to Enhancement Shaman, but it is tempting me to change my off-spec from Resto to Elemental for Ulduar. I fear my Elemental DPS would be very poor tho.

Next time for Hodir, more ranged please!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Watch this, Emalon!

The original plan was to try Malygos, but last night Horde owned Wintergrasp, so the Elder Brethren raid first headed to the Vaults of Archavon to have a crack at Emalon. I've already documented my attempts at Emalon in 25 man, but this time we were 10 and apparently the fight is a little easier.

An additional tip for melee I picked up last night is to use DBM to find out when there is 5 seconds to an Overcharge - get running across to the adds at 5 seconds, so when you arrive one of them is just beginning to overcharge. This helps immensely with killing the add before 10 stacks, although not so much with Emalon's enrage timer. Of course despite loading the Battlegrounds mod and having all the options ticked for Emalon, my DBM didn't show me any timers, so someone else shouted out when we had 5 seconds.

After a few attempts, Emalon did the decent thing and died. After a brief but deadly dance with Archavon, the raid headed over to Malygos. Kam had some Judgement at the Eye of Eternity to put down, and a nice necklace to collect. I won't say anything further about the matter, apart from...

I'll get you time, Big Blue!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Heroic Flame Leviathan normal mode is easy mode

Is Flame Leviathan the new Upper Blackrock Spire? Recently the Elder Brethren got bored, a raid was cancelled so six crazyintrepid people decided to try Flame Leviathan. On Heroic 25 man mode.

Their strategy was simple: use 3 demolishers with 3 passengers. Before the fight, shoot down loads of pyrite. At the start of the fight use 2 of those passengers in 2 more demolishers and unload 10 pyrite onto FL, then swap to the passenger seat and then into their chosen demolisher to passenger for the rest. The driver keeps pyrite stacks up to 10 while the passenger shoots down and grabs pyrite, using speed boost when followed.

Apparently these brave individuals actually succeeded too, leading to FL becoming the new place to kick back and relax, much like UBRS was back in the day. Any class balance whatsoever goes, which makes arranging a run a matter of getting a number of bodies.

Last night a mass attack on FL in 25 man Ulduar went down, anyone was welcome, alts or mains. We got 12 people, so grabbed 5 demolishers and a siege engine, putting the high iLevel-geared mains as drivers. We shot down lots of pyrite before engaging, then proceeded to roll in and just kept stacks of pyrite rolling on FL. Before we knew it, he was dead and Kam receives the Heroic: Shutout achievement. The guild also received our first Fragment of Val'anyr which was very exciting for the healers, plus a useful Runed Orb and some epics people could use.

I suspect in future if there is no raid on, a mixture of alts and mains will be heading to Ulduar 25 to try their hand at demolishing Flame Leviathan, grabbing a Runed Orb and some easy epics. It is also a whole load of fun!

Picture stolen from courtesy of Salash, Aszune EU.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Heroic misadventures in Ahn'kahet The Old Kingdom

Thursday night and the scheduled Naxxramas raid is canceled due to the summer holidays, or something. Keen to do something, I volunteer for a heroic group being formed and then try to steer them toward one I've not done before. Trouble is, on the Heroic Dungeonmaster achievement, I have The Oculus, Halls Of Stone and The Old Kingdom left, none of which are favoured as "easy" runs.

Cunningly confusing the party, I say I've not done "Ahnkahet" which they think I'm saying "AN" = "Azjol-Nerub". By the time we are sat in Dragonblight it becomes apparent I'm after "OK" and so we try it for a laugh.

It becomes quickly apparent that Cleansing Totem is very good in the place - mobs are casting disease and/or poison, and the poor resto druid is hard pressed to keep up. One cleansing totem later and all is good.

I have my Omen set to warm at 80% tank threat, which some consider a little early, however it came in very useful last night. A single stormstrike followed by a windfury crit could give Kam 20% more threat very easily and lead to the attention of an angry mob, so I was watching the threat meter like a deranged hawk. If it was set at 100% it might have been too late when the Omen warning sounded, indeed sometimes it was still too late, thanks to auto attack and windfury. Thank the maker for Wind Shock. I can only imagine this will get worse when we are rocking out in Tier 8.5 and Conquest gear, and someone's heroic-geared alt is tanking.

I still cannot off-heal for toffee tho, the only situation in which we survived the healer dying was on trash when the Earth Elemental is actually some use. On a boss, asking your Enhancement Shaman to off heal is only good if the boss has like 5% health left - just too many of a Shaman's healing goods are in talents in the resto tree, plus Kam has 970 bonus healing which is far from the 2000-odd he has in resto mode.

Still, by taking the place slowly and surely, we manage to get the end boss killed in 58 minutes, with just 2 minutes left to rush to the brazier for All Things in Good Time. We then did Jedoga Shadowseeker, cunning leaving her until last. The result was one more heroic dungeon done and only HoS and Oculus left for the achievement. I think I've got a job on getting anyone to do those hellish instances.
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