Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Tis the season!

Winter's Veil is upon us and there are achievements to be had. Most of which I already did last year during my intense grind for the Violet Protodrake, but still. I posted a guide a few years back about this, but there have been a few changes made by Blizzard to help us out:

  • With the introduction of the Tome of Cold Weather Flight, Bros is a lot easier for Horde. Now you just need to be level 68, have the Tome and you can fly over to the airship to mistletoe Brother Keltan.
  • The Ogrila Bomb Them Again quest no longer requires you to complete the long pre-req chain requiring 5 people. Now just go to Ogrila, start with The Crystals and do the Our Boy Wants To Be A Skyguard Ranger chain to get Bomb Them Again!
  • Crashin' and Thrashin' is no longer part of the meta. Hopefully this means we will get a new gift!
  • BB King is a new achievement for points and fun!
I've already started doing these on my druid alt because I think I have achievement-itis!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Patch 3.3 impressions

Patch 3.3 is out and having had a few nights to play, here are my impressions of the new goodies.

Weekly Raid Quest
The old daily heroic quest giver now gives a weekly raid quest to kill some boss in a raid instance, this week on Aszune we had to take down Anub'Rekhan in Naxxramas. The reward was 5 Emblems of Frost and 5 Triumph. This appears to be a nice feature, we get to bosh old raid instances which are long forgotten. The run took only 10 minutes, was fun and profitable.

There is also a Looking for Raid tool to companion the new weekly quests, although I eventually found it hidden away in the Raid tab on the social panel, /lfr also brings it up. Given there was only 2 people looking for Naxx raids, I suspect the looking for raid tool is too well hidden at the moment, so pugging will have to be done via a global chat channel.

Dungeon Finder
After doing the weekly raid quest, I gave the new Dungeon Finder tool a spin. This promises to whisk you into a random heroic or dungeon of your choice, with a group formed from cross-server members, and give Frost for the first random instance and bonus Triumph thereafter. The tool itself appears solid, I was able to quickly queue for a random heroic. Even at peak time of 9pm I got into a party within 5 minutes, so the matching is good.

However there are issues. Having chosen Oculus for us, the familiar zoning screen appeared, then we were ejected back out again and the depressingly familiar "Additional instances cannot be launched" message came up. The response of the other party members was to drop the party, and I ended up with the Dungeon Deserter debuff and unable to queue again for 15 minutes. Luckily Blizzard are aware of this, but it is a somewhat predictable scenario with everyone running heroics and I am disappointed they didn't think this one through. Not giving the deserter buff when you are ejected through no fault of your own would be a pretty obvious start!

Blizzard Gear Checks?
Later I was in a party and brought the Dungeon Finder tool up again. Interestingly some of the alts in the group appear to cause certain instances to be locked out, giving a message of "player must obtain better gear" and actually identifying each player who is considered to have inadequate gear.

I can certainly have some fun with this one, imagine getting into groups with other players then using Dungeon Finder to "check" their gear as it were. Halls of Reflection locked? Maybe someone isn't quite up to scratch yet. Violet Hold locked? Get ye back to the questing, rubbish alt! As a way of embarrassing guildies, this will be an excellent tool :)

New 5 Mans
Patch 3.3 comes with 3 new 5 man instances and a nice quest chain which takes you through them. The Forge of Souls is a nice instance with some newish boss mechanics. The Pit of Saron was very cool, with a uniquely fun gauntlet and a suitably cool end boss.

There is also some nice loot in the instances, I personally am looking to upgrade my belt and boots to Spiked Toestompers and Belt of Rotted Fingernails (yuck). There is a nice ring I could use until I rep up with Ashen Verdict, but the trinket looks a little weak, proccing as it does with that least useful stat for Enhancement of Armour Penetration.

New Raid
Bored of a small, circular room? Wish there was more to raiding? Well lucky you, now there is, an actual new raid instance complete with stairs. Last night Elder Brethren had a crack at the 10 man, they lasted 3 minutes 26 seconds on the longest attempt on Marrowgar, so Icecrown Citadel appears to be quite tough on 10 man. I have yet to try although those who went last night got around 900 Ashen Verdict reputation, so even wiping is useful.

An Actual Raid Faction!
Similar to the Violet Eye in Karazhan, the new Ashen Verdict faction has a series of rings at friendly, which are quite frankly amazing. Unfortunately we start at neutral so must kill a fair amount of trash to get one, but I am really glad there is a point to killing trash again, as the Karazhan rings was one of the fun aspects of Kara.

Epic 251 weapon
Already being sold on the AH and Trade, the Battered Hilt is drawing the attention of entrepreneurs everywhere. This starts the Quel'delar quest chain which promises an iLevel 251 weapon at the end, the quests take part in the new 5 mans and around Azeroth so are entirely doable. It drops in the new 5 mans on heroic, so those selling it are making a quick buck, but I won't be paying for it. Certain guild members may be forking out I suspect. The item was also dropping more than it should have done on patch day, and has since been nerfed to a 1-2% rate.

New Buttons To Press
For DPS Shamans we get the new and improved Fire Nova spell to try to fit onto the action bar. I was trying this out last night as a filler spell when everything else was on cooldown - it certainly makes things a bit more interesting as I now have to place the fire totem carefully, and makes it very irritating if the tank moves the mobs out of range of my carefully-placed totems. From reading Elitist Jerks I probably need to respec to get 2/2 Improved Fire Nova to up the damage, but in AOE situations Fire Nova spamming and Magma Totem was very powerful.

The cooldown on the Fire Elemental totem has been slashed to 10 minutes, the cooldown on Reincarnation is down to 30 minutes, which proved very handy for repeated wipes in The Pit of Saron. I mean would prove useful, of course we never wiped ;-)

New Totem Art
My Troll and Orc cousins now have their very own totem designs. Unfortunately the only other Shamans I have grouped with have been Tauren, and Kam is Tauren, so I've only seen the bog-standard design. Still, I shouldn't be ungrateful because it will make grouping with other Shamans more interesting and varied, and that's a good thing. I'm also quite attached to the old Tauren totem poles so I don't mind keeping them.

New Disenchant Loot Option
One of the loot options, along with Need or Greed, is Disenchant, if you have an enchanter in the party (presumably of the right level to DE an item). You can hit the DE option and a DE roll happens, at the same priority as Greed. Whoever wins the DE roll has the item auto-magically disenchanted and they receive the shards or dust. This is a really awesome change, especially for the random greens which nobody wants any more. Now Kam has a fair amount of dusts and essences and has a chance at an Abyss Crystal every run, and I don't need to bother getting the greens DEed after a run any more.

Some Other Stuff
A new fishing competition, new vendor non-combat pets, a change in the ready check noise (most annoying), quest objectives on the main map, BoA faction helm and shoulder enchants (although they won't go on heirloom items), and much more besides. I've really only scratched the surface of what is on offer in 3.3, so I look forward to a lot more. Thus far it's been really fun!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tis the Night Before Xmas...

...or at least it feels like Xmas has come early, with the news that 3.3 will hit the EU tomorrow.

Luckily I have some play time on Wednesday and Thursday night, so my current plan is to hit the weekly raid quest and try out the Looking For Raid tool (or just the LFG group), then try the new Dungeon Finder tool to do a random heroic for those Emblems of Frost. I want to try the new Fire Nova spell to see what it and a Magma Totem can do to heroic trash. I'm well up for running through all 3 new 5 man dungeons on heroic mode - for the storyline, lore and some nice loot to fill the gaps I have in my armour. Finally I guess if I must I shall run endless heroics for Emblems of Triumph, at last count I require just shy of 120 of the buggers.

I also want to seek out the Quel'Delar quest chain and get started on it, a tasty iLevel 251 weapon awaits, and I'm a sucker for long quest chains. Kam will be seeing what the next step in the fight against the Lich King is with these new Ashen Verdict characters, and I might just even manage to step foot in Icecrown Citadel, although it's highly unlikely.

Rather than post a big patch post, I'll post some impressions of the 3.3 stuff once I've had the chance to explore it. Until then!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The death of the raid lockout extension?

By now everyone has read the plans to gate the Icecrown Citadel content. While I don't object to opening "wings" of the raid on a rolling basis, I have though of a consequence of the boss attempts gating:

The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana'thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses.

I think this will be the death of the raid lockout extension, certainly in our guild.

Remember in 3.2 when they added the raid lockout extension feature? If you didn't have the time to kill all the bosses in Ulduar in 1 week, you could extend into the next week and have another crack.

Except now I am assuming your "boss attempts" will not get reset if you extend, so if you used them all up, what's the point of extending? You might as well reset and redo all the bosses again. Even if you used up 5 of the 10, I would think most raiders would want to hit the instance with all of their boss attempts available.

Say in one raid week you got a few attempts in on Lana'thel and now have 5 attempts left. You could extend into the next week and use those 5 attempts to try to down her. Or you could reset, clear the other bosses, assume a 1 or 2 shot on Putricide, then have 8 attempts left on Lana'thel. Even in our relatively casual guild, I think there will be a strong push for the latter approach. Worse if Sindragosa is available and we get stuck on Lana'thel with 5/15 left, we will definitely reset so we get more attempts on Sindragosa.

Goodbye raid lockout extension, though I hardly knew you at all!
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