Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The King Is Dead

Last night 25 Heroes from Heroes Inc ventured into the Gruul's Lair to face the High King Maulgar and his cohorts. It was a landmark raid as it was Heroes Inc.'s first 25 man raid. With everyone buffed and ready, we took on the 2 trash pulls with relative ease. Next we moved onto the big fight and after some explanations we tried the pull (after a false start with one of our hunter's learning how big the aggro range is :) ).
We wiped several times... I lost count... I think it was six times, maybe seven. We were learning/hammering out things like coordination, pull timing, boss placements, heal degrees, etc. I think there was some confusion and some people weren't paying as much attention as they could have but all-in-all we showed signs that we had the right pieces in place. Wipes were caused by things like not getting felhounds enslaved fast enough and put on Olm quick enough so someone else gets death coiled, or people standing too close to Krosh and getting AoE'ed to death, or other "minor" issues. I say minor because these things were easily correctable. A major issue, IMO, would be issues such as Krosh tank not having enough health, or HKM tank not having enough mitigation + survivability, or healers not being able to keep up with the damage tanks were taking. These kinds of issues wouldn't be easily fixed or overcome but those are the things that our raid leaders (Wichita and Ferth) made sure were taken care of already.
Eventually, everything fell into place and we downed each of the bosses and finally Maulgar. As each boss is taken down, the fight gets easier as more resources are available to move onto the next boss. We did have a number of people dead after Blindseye was taken down but a series of chain battle-rezzes (gogo Druids!) had everyone up and in the fight again in no time.

A big congrats to my guildmates on this accomplishment! It was our first 25 man raid and it was quite successful! Everyone hung in there and kept things light and spirits high until the job was done!! Congrats to Wichita and Nim on new T4 shoulders and Rhubarb on a new Ret hammer!
(BTW, I Lakini has a link posted to the movie he recorded of the fight. Check his blog by following the link on the right menu)

Let's hope interest is high enough that we can do this again in the near future!

Monday, November 12, 2007

+5 Staff of Groping

So a bit of catch up again...

Last Thursday I was in our Night #2 of Kara. Our targets were to pick up from where Group #1 left off and that was Curator. By now he's a standard fight for us and we downed him pretty quickly. Another Heroes member joins the ranks of Tier 4 with the gloves.
After that we cleared our way up to Aran. He posed some problems for us and we wiped twice before getting him down. Aran can be a bit like Prince in that there is some randomness that can make or break the fight. Aran was nuking our guys with low health in the middle of chaos (water elementals are out and he just did Blizzard on a few guys and then finishes up with Arcane Missiles on one of the guy hit by everything). This starts a chain reaction of losing people until the raid wipes. Oh and one time someone moved during Flame Wreath. No one knows who did it but I wouldn't be surprised if it was me... I'm not sure that I didn't turn my toon a slight pitch during that part because my hand was on my mouse and it's just a natural thing for me to do.
After Aran, we moved on to Illhoof. This was my first time facing him and although a bit chaotic, he seemed like a pretty easy and straightforward fight. The Terestian's Stranglestaff dropped and being the only feral druid in the raid made it mine by default. This was a nice upgrade from the Feral Staff of Lashing I was currently using for DPS although, I was a bit bummed that it can be easily replaced by the Merciless Gladiator's Maul from Season 2 Arenas.
Comparing the 2, the S2 Maul would yield around +191 AP and +0.42 Crit% more than the Stranglestaff.
The only thing the Stranglestaff has going for it over the S2 Maul is that the Maul is plain - almost boring. Whereas the Stranglestaff is literally a squid on a stick and with the tentacles all grasping and grabbing it has a certain cool factor the Maul lacks. I mean think of the fun that can be had in crowded places like the Auction House. All those people lined up facing the Auctioneers - you could reach out with your squidstick and let it grab some gal's butt and then put it away and look away (maybe at the ceiling) all innocent-like. Then she turns and slaps the guy beside her for being a perv - or maybe she fireballs him in the face! Or maybe she cheapshot->backstab->kidney shot->wtfpwns him! Imagine the possibilities!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

And the Verdict Is...

Thanks to all the votes and comments. I took my warlock out for a spin and I have to say that while I'm completely n00b to it again and stand there trying to figure out what spell to cast or what to do when there are mobs beating on me, it was a lot of fun because I was grouped with others. Wichita's L34 Warlock, Baconstrip's L32 Enhancement Shammy, Rhubarb's L36 Feral Druid and my L33 Warlock were tearing up STV and that was a lot of fun.
Thinking about it afterwards, I have to say that my warlock synergizes (as Lou mentioned in his comments) with this group a lot better than I think a rogue would. A Shadow Priest would work but I'd have to powerlevel him to catch up and I just don't know that I'd enjoy it as much. With my lock (as compared to my druid), I have so many options now it's almost confusing.
Last night we were doing the Kurzon chain of quests in the north-eastern reaches of STV. The last step in the quest has you go into the caves where you need to take out Kurzon's guards and Kurzon himself, an elite. I think only Rhub's druid was the right level for the quest - the rest of us were under-level for it. However, we prevailed as a group even when the pull on Kurzon himself turned out quite messy. These mobs were orange to us and there were a lot of resists but no one panicked and we managed to get everything killed without any deaths (I think).
It was actually an interesting fight as Wich and I both used our succubi and tried to chain seduce 2 mobs. With the resists and adds we resorted to chain fearing mobs as well as trying to re-secude other ones and generally DoT and CC and survive. I ended up drain tanking a couple of the mobs for a while until Rhub could taunt them off me but this and the CC'ing provided enough buffer for our group to get the job done. This was so different from Wichita and my roles on our mains so it was neat. Normally he's dps/backup heal and I'm tank or dps and things like CC'ing are for others. In this case, neither of us could heal and our only options was to CC and DoT.

So, I think I'm sticking with the warlock for now. He synergizes well with our group. As it turns out there are quite a number of people with alts in their 30's so this group may get bigger than 5 people. This may lead to issues with grouping but we'll make it work. Most likely, not everyone will be on at the same time so hopefully we'll always have enough for a full group.
So far, it doesn't seem like any of us are in a rush to power level to 70 - which is good. Alts should be for fun and to reinvigorate us to play... maybe to discover something new. We don't need to speed these guys up to L70 to convolute our playtime and wonder who we should gear up and who we should raid with or PvP with. Right now, we'll just enjoy ourselves with old challenges, new dynamics and fun friends and experience the game from a new perspective.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

'Alt'ernate Reality

Pre-BC, I played a BM Dwarven Hunter and a Troll Rogue to 60. Both were fun to level at the time but I think my first love will always be a Druid (once you get past the painfully dull lower levels). However, for some breaks I have toyed with alts on Altar of Storms and I am having a hard time finding a fun alt to play. I tend to get to the mid-teens or 20's and lose interest.
I am also having a hard time deciding whether to level an alt that would be most fun or able to compete at higher levels in PvP (Arenas) than my feral druid. I think I'm leaning towards a fun alt as I am not only determined to try to get as good as a feral can possibly get in Arenas but I also really enjoy my druid in PvP - he's not one dimensional. I also hold some stupid secret hope that Blizzard will one day make them more competitive in Arenas.

But back to alts. I have a L32 Affliction Warlock. He was fun but I got bored soloing and have had a hard time re-connecting with him. I have a L27 Holy Paladin - not that I intend on keeping him Holy while levelling but at the time I didn't have Honorhammer's most excellent Pally levelling guide to reference. If I were to pick up the pally, I'd follow his advice though ultimately, I think I end up speccing Holy if I ever get to 70 with him.
All my other alts are 20 or below. I don't know what to do really. I think I'd enjoy a Shaman but I don't know. I tried the Shadow Priest to 20 but seem to be losing interest. I really don't know if it's the levelling grind that I'm bored with or the classes I'm trying. I recently started a rogue but only 1 night of playing him so he's L6 and it's too early to tell if I'll keep interest.

So, I've put up a poll. What do you think? Feel free to comment as well and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Okay so I've been pretty busy lately and have not had time to make any new entries so I will just throw in a "quick" update.

I've pretty much been doing the same thing each week: Kara, BG night, Arenas. Lakini and Wichita were kind enough to help me grind out the last 600 rep I needed with Lower City to hit Exalted one night and I was able to get my Shapeshifter's Signet. The interesting thing about this ring is that it doesn't increase my AP or crit % - in fact, it reduces them. However, the ring sports 20 FCS (soon to be Expertise) which is supposed to help reduce the number of times I get dodged and parried by mobs, so hopefully increases my dps by hitting things more.

Our guild went into Kara last night and I managed to get 2 drops that will hopefully help my dps: Worgen Claw Necklace and Garona's Signet Ring. Again, both of these items are not exactly DPS gains in a straightforward manner. Both of these items sport hit rating which is in serious short supply on cat DPS gear, so hopefully there will be less missing and more hitting and thus more DPS.

With these 3 gear changes, I am now back in line in regards to balancing AP vs Crit % as modelled by Toskks' DPS Gear Methodology (see the 2nd graph). You know, I read that whole page and looked at the numbers and tried to make sense of all the calculations but in the end it was too much math so I'm going to have to trust that these guys know what they are talking about. It made some sense to me but I won't be able to really know for sure until I can get in some good cat time in an instance and see if there is a noticeable, even if marginal, DPS increase from bumping up my ability to hit more consistently (at the expense of hitting harder or critting more when I do hit).

On the PvP end, not much is new. MMPPB, my 5v5 Arena team did better this past week and we added Darolynn (Shadow Priest) to our ranks. Poor Daro though, she became our new sacrificial lamb as all our opponents seemed to want to focus fire her but much to the relief of Wichita who got to throw out some of his OP'ed lightning.
In BGs, it was EotS weekend and our guild did pretty good - better than previous runs. I think our guild may be getting better at this organized PvP thing and maybe even becoming better PvPers in general. I know a lot of people have been serious about getting better PvP gear so that has helped.

On another note, I have reduce my WoW playing time a little to try out the Tabula Rasa open beta. I like trying out open betas to see what other MMO's are doing and for a nice change of pace. Tabula Rasa is a sci-fi base MMO and is a bit more fast paced and quite different from WoW. It's also pretty solo friendly so far so it's nice to run around shooting things up for a change. The beta will be ending soon as I believe TR goes live on Halloween so I'll only get to play for another few more days.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What the...?

Lately we've been running some of the "easier" 5-man instances trying to get people rep. so that they can be keyed for Heroics. Friday night, we ran Shadow Labyrinth in order to get Rhubarb's rep closer to Revered. As was typical with some of us, this was a rather late night run and so the crew consisted of Wichita (Elemental Shaman), Jagdelf (Beast Mastery Hunter), Lakini (Balance Druid), Rhubarb (Holy Paladin), and me (Feral Druid).
Anybody who knows us knows this is one pretty well geared group with pretty high DPS and an instance like Shadow Labs will be pretty much steam-rolled... we just didn't know how hard. The 5-man instances are characterized by their bosses and Shadow Labs is characterized by boss #2, #3, and #4. Nobody even really mentions Boss #1, Ambassador Hellmaw - he's just easy. Boss #2, Blackheart the Inciter, is only noteable because he mind controls everyone in the group periodically. When running with a well-geared group, this has the adverse effect of possibly killing each other and we almost killed Jagdelf during one M/C round. Boss #4, Murmur, can be one of the harder bosses when you first start running the instance as he has some peculiars about him that you must be aware of. Boss #3, Grandmaster Vorpil, can also be a real pain until you learn how to pull and kite him and handle the voidwalkers. During the fight, Vorpil likes to cast "Draw Shadows", which teleports the entire group back to the "altar" he starts out from. This teleport sequence is used as a baseline measurement of the dps power in your group because after the 2nd teleport, the voidwalkers spawn quicker and a group could easily be overpowered if they don't have enough dps.
When you're first starting out these are the things you concern yourself with. When you've gotten to the more "snobby" level, what you concern yourself with is how fast you can take the boss down and taking him down before the 2nd teleport had been our best achievement to date. On this night though, Grandmaster Vorpil didn't stand a chance against our band of Heroes and he went down before he could teleport us even once. That was fun, though not entirely surprising considering how much our gear has improved in the last few months. What was surprising was when we all checked our Recount meters for just that fight and saw that Jagdelf had hit the 1000k DPS mark (including his pet's damage) and Wichita had hit the 1100k DPS mark! Seeing that made our jaws drop! Up till this point, the highest I've seen Wichita hit was 900 on a lucky crit burst string. I'm sure they all popped whatever cooldowns or trinkets they had to burn down Vorpil as fast as possible but this was still unexpected. Not to be forgotten in all this, Lakini hit into the 800 DPS range and even Rhubarb got to do some damage. :)
After we all finished gawking at the logs, Wichita made a remakably interesting point: both he and Jag hit over 1k dps but I never once lost aggro to them! I had to take a moment to think about that one. Feral tanks can generate an amazing amount of threat but even I wasn't prepared to hold threat against 1k+ DPS. So I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do so without a hitch - gogo Feral tanks! :)

We did run SLabs again last night with a different crew and only up to the second boss but Rhubarb hit Revered and I'm only around 3k rep short of exalted with Lower City. A few more runs should get me there and then I'll be able to get that Dodge to cloak enchant.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shades of Aran

Last night Heroes Inc ventured once more into the depths of Karazhan with the intent of downing a new boss. Our group on Tuesday kindly took down Moroes, Opera, and Curator to open the fast route for our group last night to get to Aran.
We had a pretty stacked group consisting of Wichita (Elemental Shaman and Raid Leader this night), Lakini (Balance Druid), Baconstrip (Resto Druid), Regolas (Affliction Warlock), Condramus (Arcane Mage), Ferth (Arms Warrior), Sameth (Holy/Disc Hybrid Priest), Rhubarb (Prot. Pally - respecced Holy for the run), Ofn (Combat Rogue), and myself (Feral Druid) as main tank.
We got to Aran quite easily and after a false start - someone (Regolas) was trying to tell us how far you can come into the room and went a little too far! - we managed to take down Aran in only 2 attempts. The fight was rather chaotic with all the different spells going off and people running around and elementals shooting but our crew were very disciplined with Ferth and Ofn staying on top of their interrupt duties and everyone listening and stopping movement for the Flame Wreath segments. The only thing that gave us issues and wiped us the first time was actually the Blizzard segments. People had a hard time seeing the Blizzard or telling where the front edge was. Once we regrouped and talked about the swirly air graphics that indicate the lead edge of the storm everyone was able to spot the blizzard and get out of the way. As well, everyone managed to get out of range of the Arcane Explosion. We didn't manage to take Aran out before he ran out of mana and polyed us all and drank but everyone again listened and had saved their healthstone for this situation and popped their healthstones immediately after the pyroblasts. As well, the druids popped Tranquility to help bring everyone's health back up.
In preparation for this fight we had a rather lengthy thread in our forums discussing tactics for this fight and I think that helped somewhat. Some people read the thread and gave their input so we were familiar with what we wanted to do at each point.

After our celebrations at Aran, discussion was had and a decision was made to try to get to Prince. We forged our short way to Chess and completed that event with me being the lucky recipient of Girdle of Treachery. Next we cleared our way to Prince. At this point it was close to the end time of our raid so we decided to give this at most, one or two shots. On our first attempt, we got Prince down to 33% where his Phase 2 dual-pounding took me down, which caused the raid to wipe. I don't know what happened here but the healing got behind and I watched my ~20k health slowly drop to 0. I should have spoken up and mentioned that my health was getting dangerously low but I don't like to tell our healers how to do their jobs. I'm not entirely sure what happened but we likely needed a 4th healer at the tail end of this fight to top off the tank because the other healers may have had to switch focus to anther group member who was getting dangerously low. Our 2nd attempt wasn't nearly as successful when an Infernal landed several yards away from our casters and took out Lakini and Sameth.

Still, all-in-all it was a fun night with downing a new boss I think everyone in the raid was happy and felt a little refreshed in Kara after fighting the same bosses over and over again. Next week we are hoping to be able to field 2 teams each night so hopefully no one has to miss a whole week of Kara.