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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's A Bird! No, it's a...

It's A Bird! No, it's a very regal looking epic stormcrow! That's right, Origami finally got his epic flight form late last week. Wichita put together an elite crew consisting of Wichita (Elemental Shaman), Jagdelf (BM Hunter), Darolynn (Shadow Priest), and Dlow (Holy Paladin), with me as the tank.
The last time Wich and I tried this we were a lot less geared and our group consisted of 0 CC so that was a rather rough outing. This time, however, we had ice trap, shackle and mind control, masterfully played by Jagdelf and Darolynn to contain the mobs and keep our group from getting overwhelmed. Couple that with Dlow's smart use of stuns and combining them with my stuns, we were able to keep the more deadly mobs (i.e. Time-Lost Shadowmages) locked down while uber dps took them out.
The first boss, Darkweaver Syth, proved the most difficult with his elemental spawns but this turned out to be because we didn't read up on the boss before we tried him twice. We tried to handle this as we did in normal mode, which was to only pay partial attention to the elementals, keeping them off the healer and trying to burn down Syth. However, this meant we'd end up with 2x or 3x the elementals, which hurt. Once we slowed down and took the time to deal with each elemental wave, Syth went down rather easily. We handled the other pulls pretty well and survived some tough fights. We did wipe a few times overall but we persevered. Talon Lord Ikiss wiped us once but we took him down the second time when we had the ranged attackers (i.e. everyone other than me) stand on the opposite side where Wichita was standing on the first fight. This allowed Wichita to heal multiple people with chain heal during Ikiss' Arcane Explosion.
We actually tried Anzu between the 1st and 2nd attempt at Ikiss because it was getting late and everyone was trying to make sure I got my shot at epic flight form (what a great bunch of folks!). We were worried at first because with Anzu are 3 statues that are activated via HoTs that help you with the fight. However, since the only druid was the tank and as it turns out, priest HoTs don't activate the statues, we did the fight without the aid of the statues. This turned out to be just fine and we took out Anzu in one shot. I believe I had to battle rezz Darolynn in the middle of the fight as she took herself out when Anzu put spell bomb on her and she didn't realize it and kept casting but I had plenty of time during Anzu's banish phase to get her back into the fight. The adds were a concern before but since they've been nerfed and since we were a lot more elite than the first time I was there, they weren't an issue this time.
So, since late last week, I've been flying around with my snobby flight form looking rather epic and regal. I didn't think I'd like epic flight form since the pictures of it didn't look all that impressive but I've taken a liking to it and it feels like it flies faster than the epic gryphon (which is bigger) or the netherdrake (even bigger), so it feels like I'm flying around really fast! :)

That's one more thing off my list. My druid is looking pretty spiffy and I've gotten comments from those fresh L70s or pre-70 players who happen to be standing beside me at a mailbox, auction house, gryphon master, or waiting to catch a boat in Menethil. It's pretty cool to get that little bit of awe from them. On the otherhand it's also meant a lot more beggars sending me tells for gold whenever I'm in Stormwind or Ironforge. I used to just tell them that I had just spent all my money getting my epic flying but now I just ignore them completely. I don't want to be a snob but sometimes responding tends to draw more begging (e.g. "well can you run me through XXX instance?") instead of less.

Besides, I am a WoW snob! =D

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Psst! I found out where all the warlocks hang out!

Last night Wichita and I did our 2v2 Arena matches. We ended up doing 15 matches and I swear, all but like 5 of the matches had a warlock on the team. There was the warlock+warlock team, the warlock+shadow priest team, the warlock+healer team - heck, even a warlock+warrior team! I think the only teams we faced that didn't have a warlock on it was the rogue+enhancement shaman, MS warrior+healer and the ice mage+ice mage team we faced twice. Most of our matches seemed built to destroy us. Multiple fears, chain fears, mana burn, mana drain, silence, interrupts, kiting. I don't know how we ended up with an 8-7 record (I think that's what we ended with).
One thing for sure is that people tend to underestimate us. Yes, we get destroyed by a number of team compositions and those are no contest fights but a good number of other fights we end up cleaning house especially because the competition likely doesn't face our group composition much, if at all. Elemental Shaman + Feral Druid are two of the weakest arena class/specs in the game. However, we're learning just what we're capable of and we're finding that our best matches are against the 1 healer + 1 dps groups. Of course, most of those teams that we beat aren't heavily PvP geared. Any dpser with 9k or less health stands a very good chance of dying within the first 10 secs of the fight. I think when we fight more people with >10k health, things start going downhill for us - that is, unless we're facing an inexperienced team and the dpser tries to dps me down.
You may be laughing to yourself at this point but it happens. A real interesting strategy we've developed is to have me stay 20 or so yards ahead of Wichita and jump the dpser when he comes charging at Wichita. This has a chance of pulling the other team's attention away from Wichita as they see "cat druid" and think "easy kill". However, with like 286 resilience and 10.5k health in cat form this druid isn't going down that fast. And a quick switch to bear form (you can't stop my shapeshifting with counterspell noob mages!) means an even harder job for the enemy. All this time Wichita is free to lay out a ton of damage.

It's a bit disheartening though. We can't get much better than this. Wichita has some more PvP upgrades but I'm near the end for this season. If Blizzard was to freeze all content as it is now, you'd be able to see that we can't really get much higher in our rating than bottom of 1600. It all depends on luck of the type of team we draw and preying on the inexperience of our opponents and/or their lack of equal gear. Don't get me wrong! Wich and I still have plenty to learn from our matches - I'm not saying we're "l33t PvPers who are only limited by our class/spec". However, our gear is maxing out and our skill has improved quite a bit since we first started but we're seeing a barrier in our ability to climb up the ratings. A lot of that comes when we get matches where we just can't do anything to the opposing team. Things like double mana burn on Wich while I'm chain feared or I'm chain CCed while their dps+healer takes Wich down. Basically, smart teams that know what they're doing take us apart pretty easily and it almost doesn't matter if we have someone behind the keyboard or if we're afk.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Getting Close

Well I've been really busy lately so I haven't had time to do much blogging. Anyway, this weekend was AV weekend and unlike everyone else, I can do a lot of AV without going blind. This is probably because I tend to see how an AV is going and dynamically respond to it, rather than mindlessly zerging with the offense or futility trying to defend. I have that option though due to having stealth. Non-stealthers have a harder time choosing their own destiny.
But the nice thing about this AV weekend though as been the interest from other guildees. I think I ran 2 AV matches on my own and all the rest were with at least 1 other guildee. In these AVs it's really good because you work together and have more success or at the least, a little more fun and less boredom. At one point, we had almost 15 people in the raid for AV but that quickly dissolved since it's almost impossible to get everyone in the same AV when your group gets that large. I think the most we had in the same AV was 7 people for one or two matches.
With more than 1 group together in AV you can actually cause problems for your own side. We Heroes like to mix it up so we like to go take back Alliance bunkers and having 8 people do that kind of defense takes away from the people attacking Drek or defending Stormpike. With 3 to 5 people though, this gets real fun as you can usually take a bunker even if it's heavily defended (which usually means 3 to 5 defenders).

Anyway, after doing a lot of AV (note: not an insane amount like Wichita did), I managed to get enough honor to upgrade my boots from Marshal's to Veteran's and I have enough points to get the Sargeant's Cloak when I next log on. Combined with having enough Arena Points to get the A2 pants, I will be 3 pieces shy of a full PvP suit. All that will be missing are the A2 gloves, the PvP necklace, and the A2 Maul. However, I'm not going to worry about the Maul until it's the last item since I likely won't ever be able to get the A3 weapon, I have plenty of time to get the points I need for the A2 Maul. So, really, once I get the PvP necklace and the A2 gloves, I'm fully decked for PvP... probably just in time for them to release Season 3. :-/
But it's been worth the effort. My survivability is really noticeable in PvP with all the resilience and stamina I'm sporting. I actually went toe-to-toe... er, bearclaw-to-toe with a MS Warrior 1v1 style and beat him. I had just finished off another Horde when this warrior charged into me so I could open on him in stealth and load him up with bleeds but I managed to get a couple of kitty bleeds on him and then switch to bear. We duked it out and I was able to take him out. I did get a couple of HoTs from a druid coming upon the fight but that was at the end when the outcome was inevitable. A lot of times, people see bear form and think gimped damage and comparitively it is weak dps but a crit maul or mangle in PvP epics can put out 1k+ damage and people tend to underestimate that. This warrior was swatting at me with a gladiator maul (I think A2 maul) and so he wasn't completely undergeared (11k to 12k health) - oh and he was getting that lovely mace stun too. However, he wasn't using his full range of tricks like a lot of the really good MS Warriors I've fought so this is definitely a fight won through skill. I loaded him up with bleeds while keeping mangle and maul thrown while he just basically tried to chop me to death.

Anyway, I've still got a number of things I want to do with my druid but I'm still not sure which I want to do first. I should also get some dailies in there because I may just be buying the mats for that nice Shadowprowler's Chestguard that Wichita can make.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

10K and the Jagdelf Effect

This past weekend, I reached Revered reputation with Netherwing and received my Commander's Badge and with that, I was able to boost my health in my PvP gear to above 10k. I had to switch out my Hourglass of the Unraveller which meant losing crit % but in PvP, survivability is more important. This is particularly important when fighting those 10k+ health MS warriors. Have I mentioned how much they hurt?! I better not get started on that rant again...

Last night, after getting sick of losing slow, drawn out but not even remotely close games of PuG EotS, I decided to do something else. When I had logged on I tried to peek to see if any groups were LFM for Mana Tombs using the LFG/LFM interface and well, I couldn't get myself out of it. The LFG interface has the ability to clear your status but the LFM doesn't so I ended up sitting there for an hour flagged as LFM for Mana Tombs. About the time I gave up on EotS and went and took Halaa in Nagrand, I received a tell from some PuGer who wanted to run Mana Tombs as well. I mentioned this on vent and Lilura said she'd go too, so I asked Rhubarb who had recently logged on and he said he'd go. So with 4 people we just needed one more. Normally, Wichita would join us but he was planning on watching Heroes last night with his wife so he was out. I eventually got a tell from another PuGer who, I think, wanted to go. His exact words to me were "do you have room" and when I asked, "for Mana Tombs", his response was, "I think so". He thinks?! If you want to join a group for an instance, shouldn't you be sure you want to go to that instance?
Anyway, about that time Jagdelf logged on and I asked if he wanted to go. I'd much rather take a guildee than some PuGer, especially one who wasn't sure where he wanted to go. So we get everyone summoned to Auchindoun and head for Mana Tombs when just before we zone in, the PuGer who first contacted me drops from the group. He didn't disconnect because when I did a /who, he was still online. He didn't give a reason, nor did he say anything, he just dropped from the group. Well, his loss and our gain as at about that time Homerjay logged on and he was interested in joining us. So what was a partial PuG became a guild group!

The interesting thing about last night's Mana Tombs run is that no one needed anything from there really. Lilura was in the level range to use drops from there but had already done the quests and probably had most of the loot off the bosses in there. All the others were just along for the fun I guess. My motive for running was for the Formula: Enchant Boots - Fortitude which drops off the Ethereal Priest.
I've run Mana Tombs a number of times previously with no luck but these dropped for me last night. The great thing about this enchant and why I've been after it so much is that this enchant can benefit everyone in the guild, not just a certain subset (e.g. not just DPS or just tanks or just casters or just healers). Everyone can use stamina to their gear for PvP so this is a great enchant for Heroes Inc. to have.
A month or two ago, I was running Steam Vaults any chance I could to get a similar enchant: Formula: Enchant Bracer - Fortitude which dropped off the Coilfang Oracles. Back then I was unsuccessful in getting that enchant after a lot of runs until one night I ran it and Jagdelf was in the group. He suggested we clear more trash near the entrance after we finished the run to try for the enchant and on our first additional trash pull, the enchant dropped. Well, last night Jagdelf was in the group again and the enchant I was after dropped again. I think he's the good luck charm - I'm calling it The Jagdelf Effect. I just need to get him to come with me to Shattered Halls (Formula: Enchant 2H Weapon - Savagery), Arcatraz (Formula: Enchant 2H Weapon - Major Agility), and Auchenai Crypts (Formula: Enchant Boots - Dexterity). Those are the only other instance drops I can farm for. All other enchants are either world drops or Kara drops so I'm not holding my breath or wasting my time farming for them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Top Gun

Recently, I had started my rep grind for the Netherwing faction. Most people go through this rep grind to hit exalted to get the Netherdrake flying mount but I couldn't really care less about that mount. I find the Netherdrake mount to be too big and much prefer the aesthetics of the smaller epic gryphon mount. My real purpose for the Netherwing faction grind is to get the Commander's Badge which is a nice, relatively easy and inexpensive stamina trinket to get.
I had heard the daily quests to for the Netherwing rep were very annoying but after Wichita had done the grind he assured me that I'd only have to go through the annoyance until I passed Friendly and then I'd have a variety of quests to choose from and I could skip the annoying ones. In fact, the ones that he told me he found annoying are ones that haven't presented such issues for me. The most annoying one for me has been the herbalism one because I keep getting jumped by those giant Dragonmaw Ascendants and I just can't get away from them. I try to look out for them but they seem to be spawning on my screen just as they aggro me.

Anyway, besides the daily quests you can get during your Netherwing rep grind there are those one time quests that you get that help you through your rep grind. For Netherwing, when you hit Honored, there is a quest chain where you race 6 npcs through the air, one at a time and should you defeat each one, you'll get gold and increasingly more rep as rewards. I should clarify something here: these aren't actually "races" and you don't actually try to "beat" the npc. Instead, for the quests, your objective is to not fall behind the npc while he flies ahead of you and shoots stuff at you that could knock you off your flying mount (non-druids, sorry for your deaths). Should you manage to stay "in range" of the npc and follow him all the way around some invisible course he flies, then you'll have "defeated" him.
The quests can be fun and you start out with against an older orc who doesn't try too much and shoots straight at you while you're flying around behind him. He's pretty easy to keep up with and it's pretty easy to dodge his shots. Things get trickier as you defeat an npc and "move up" the totem pole. When you get to the fourth defender you actually face Wing Commander Ichman. Yes, THE Wing Commander Ichman from Alterac Valley and if you read the quest script, it's actually a little funny as you read how he took off out of Alterac Valley because of all the whining (which sounds a lot like the whining Alliance do in AV) and came here to race.
Should you defeat Ichman, you move on to Wing Commander Mulverick, who is also from AV and also has quest text that reads of how he left AV due to all the whining (Horde whining this time) and came to Netherwing to compete in the races.

By the way, in case you didn't get it, Ichman and Mulverick are Blizzard's references to Top Gun's Iceman and Maverick. Some people have gotten stuck at Ichman or Mulverick as each of them have a nasty attack that can be tricky and they fly some tricky routes with doubling back on you. I actually lost Ichman a couple of times, trying to dodge his attacks and keep up with him but at least he never shot me down. All in all though, I didn't have any big trouble with any of the guys up to and including Mulverick. I had to redo the quests a couple of times here and there if I lost sight of the npc but that was about it.

Once you defeat Mulverick, you face the last guy who is Captain Skyshatter. I beg you, think in a British mindset on the name Skyshatter and you'll know how I feel about this guy. I must have attempted this quest thirty times! Skyshatter doesn't have any fancy pants attacks. He uses a meteor shower attack that has meteors fly at you from a location behind him. This wouldn't normally be that difficult if some of these meteors weren't invisible! Well maybe there is an issue with rendering on my system but a lot of times I got knocked out of the sky for no apparent reason. The worse part of all of this is that Skyshatter flies faster than you AND has a shorter range within which you must stay! If you're like me and you don't already have a riding crop, you haven't completed your epic flight form quest and received the trinket, and you don't have Crusader's Aura, this is a very, very difficult quest. Everytime I managed to not get knocked out of the air and stay with him, Skyshatter would hit a straight-away and leave me behind.
If you have yet to do this quest, I highly recommend either equipping your riding crop (if you have one) or trying to get a pally to help you by grouping and flying with you so you can get the speed boost. In the end, I had attempted this so many times that I knew half the route he takes by heart. The best advice I have if you are like me and have no speed increase boosts is to learn his route and then just fly it, making sure to cut corners where you know he'll turn and just stay ahead of him enough that you don't get out of range as much as you can. Once I managed to get ahead of him and stay in range, when he did his straight-away runs he never got too far ahead of me before he hit a corner and I could cut it and get ahead of him again. And once I beat him to the middle of the island run and kept with him I was home free. See, after that he likes to occassionally stop and do 360 degree spins and that allows me to catch up if I'm behind. People tend to get freaked out by this but I just stayed well to his right and above him and watched as he aimlessly shot meteors at no one in particular. After that I kept with him and got back to the runway and finishd the quest. (Note, both Wing Commanders and the Captain like to to a last ditch attack just before they land on the runway, so don't stay right behind them when landing).

With the quest completed, I got the nice 1k rep reward and Skybreaker Whip, which is ironically a trinket that increases mount speed by 10%. I could have used this for the race but if I had it (or the Riding Crop) I wouldn't really have a use for it as a reward, now would I?

Friday, September 14, 2007

On Alliance and Horde

Someone remarked on vent last night about how Alliance sucks at PvP no matter what server they were on. This generalization is rather quite true. I have found it very difficult to get into a PuG Battleground and not lose. Every once in a while, the Alliance will steamroll the Horde or there will be a nice comeback or close victory but this happens much less often than just a flat out loss.
So why exactly do the Alliance suck at PvP? If you read the WoW forums many of the posters say it's because the Alliance is filled with the "kids" who played Alliance for the "hawt sekz Night Elf females" but I don't buy it. Usually these same "kids" are also blamed for having too much time on their hands to play WoW and youth on their side for reaction times and that's why they're so good at games like Counter-Strike, which are skills that lend themselves well to PvPing. And besides, anyone who's played at least one Horde character knows that Barrens chat (before The Burning Crusade came out) was probably the worse general chat you'd see anywhere - it was worse than Ironforge chat! So, it can't be that all the "immature kiddies" were all playing Alliance and all the intelligent adults were playing Horde.
The other argument I've heard, which makes more sense to me is that most "RPers" (roleplayers) and "casual" players, when they start a game like WoW, will choose the "good/light" side which, in the case of WoW, is perceived to be the Alliance (yes, I like to comma-splice). Not that I believe roleplayers can't PvP but it's more credible that casual players are less likely to be as competent at PvP.
When you watch the Alliance in BGs, it can be so sad it's actually funny. If you play a stealth class you can sit back at fights and watch what the Alliance do compared to what the Horde do. This is most comical in AV where you get really large groups of Alliance running together. I've watched as most of the Alliance players zerg after one little 'ol Horde in the midst of fighting the NPCs. The best example is how the Alliance will stop at IB tower to fight Horde defenders, rather than charging the flag and trying to cap it, preventing the Horde defenders from rezzing right nearby and coming back to defend. The same thing happens in AB where the Alliance will fight in the middle of roadways, well away from flags just because they spotted Horde. There have been AV's and AB's where I spent the entire match bouncing to nodes we Alliance have captured but no one bothered to defend. Alliance PuGs just like to zerg. It's like most of them aren't confident to stay anywhere by themselves and defend. And it's not like the Alliance zerg is very powerful. If they vastly outnumber the enemy then they may be victorious but usually it takes fewer Horde to defeat a group of Alliance.

Don't get me wrong though, it's not all rosey on the Horde side. I played for quite a while on a server as Horde and sometimes I think the maturity level of the Horde players is lower than the Alliance. And sometimes the perception that Horde are better PvPers make them a little too cocky. Either that or Horde players don't know (or don't believe in) the concept of picking smart fights. I've seen Horde attack Alliance on site, regardless of the fact that the Horde was much lower level than the Alliance.
Take for example, last night. Our guildees Lilura and Ashur were trying to get The Ring of Blood quest chain done. They had help from Ferth and Azwynn, both L70. A L67 Tauren druid decides to gank in the middle of the fights. Now yes, he managed to kill Lilura three times and cause them to wipe. I bet he was feeling pretty cocky and good about himself - that is until Rhubarb and I show up. Yeah, he tried again to gank but this time he died a fast death and we still got the quest completed. That was the last fight in the quest chain so everyone left and the druid rezzed and ran away. But that wasn't the end of it for him, even though he thought it was. See, I stayed in the area and flew around a bit on the suspicion that he was farming or questing in the area. Sure enough, I spot him doing a quest I remember that had him escort some Ogres into the camp and fend off attacking Ogres. Guess what? He died. And he failed the quest. And then he rezzed and promptly died again. An Alliance druid nearby wanted to get a shot in on him because that tauren druid had killed him earlier so I left him to gank the tauren when he rezzed. In the end, I really don't think it paid off for that tauren druid. If I didn't have a SLabs run to tank for I would have stayed and camped that guy a whole lot longer.
Another example of this happened earlier this week. I was raising my herbalism skill and was riding into Swamp of Sorrows when I rode past a L70 hunter and a guildee of his who was L52. The L70 hunter started to attack me but I decided to just keep riding and ignore it. It irked me but this is a PvP server and that stuff is supposed to happen so I forgot about it.
After a while I had levelled to the point where I needed to move to Blasted Lands and get my final few points to 300. I was riding around merrily picking flowers when I rode by that same hunter again. Sure enough the guy attacks me again so this time I rode away, dismounted, healed up, went kitty and stealthed. I stalked this guy and stayed with him and watched him as he helped two of his guildees (both L52 and L53 hunters) with a quest. I watched and waited until they let their guard down and the L70 and one of the L50's hunters ran ahead of the third. I jumped that guy and he was dead in 2 or 3 shots. I re-stealthed and sure enough the L70 comes running over, throwing up a flare. No problem, this was expected. I just waited patiently while he got bored (in about 20 secs) and went back to questing. Unluckily for him he then pulls 3 mobs, which really shouldn't have been a problem for a L70 but he and the other hunter start running around all chaotic like they were in a panic. Perfect! So I run in and jumped the L70 Hunter while the mobs kept the L52 hunter busy. I expected a rough little fight but it was hardly that. The hunter had pretty crappy gear and he was dead much quicker than I expected. The L52 hunter starts attacking me and he was dead in 2 shots. That was fun but only the beginning. See, I don't like being attacked when I ride by peacefully but again, this is a PvP server so I don't take offence. However, if you're helping your guildee with a quest and an opposing faction player rides by peacefully you let them go! I take offence when they're that hostile. What's worse, this guy's gear was pretty crappy so he was either too cocky or too stupid to consider my gear before attacking me. The combination of both made me just have to camp him and so, I was there to welcome him when he rezzed. And his little guildees too. And I was there again when he next rezzed. And again.
Up to this point, I had been chatting to Wichita on vent about this. I guess he thought the situation was amusing enough to come out to the Blasted Lands. So, Wich takes over camping these guys (from the guild HELLFIRE ASSASSINS - because all caps makes you more dangerous!) while I finished levelling my herbalism to 300. Wichita got to kill them a few more times because they really deserved it.
Once I got my 300th point I came back over to where Wich was camping them and he said that the L70 hunter had stopped rezzing (these guys rezzed one at a time too) so we thought it was all over when suddenly a L70 horde Warrior shows up and charges Wichita. "He brought friends!" was what we thought (and were expecting... no, hoping). We noticed this guy was in a lot more bling-blingy epics so we thought we were in for some more interesting fights. I'm in kitty form attacking this guy while Wich is trying to get lighting bolts off and I remember thinking in the back of my mind, "man this guy has some amazing gear to be blocking and parrying all my attacks". When we kill him I hear Wich start laughing and saying how little damage the guy was doing. That's when it dawned on me - this guy was a prot. warrior! I alt-tab out and check out the Armory and sure enough this guy is epic'd out - in PvE prot gear! The hunter showed on the Armory as having the ghost buff so we surmissed that this is the same guy just playing his other L70 alt. Oh my!
The Warrior rezzed again and immediately charges Wichita. He didn't even try to bandage up first. So this time Wichita and I both just melee attack him while Wich kept himself healed up. Yeah that fight took like 5 minutes or more and we finally got so bored we killed him off and left.

So, while Alliance may not be so PvP-centric it seems there are quite a number of Horde who are just a bit too quick to attack any Alliance player they see. I wonder if these Horde are former Alliance players? I hope we can start mixing the pool of players more so that the PuG fights in BGs are more even. In the meantime, I will enjoy camping the occassional bloodthirsty, undergeared Horde that chose the wrong Alliance to pick a fight with.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well That Just Blows!

This weekend we got news that Honorshammer is leaving our guild to join a raiding guild that's doing 25 man raids. I was both surprised and disappointed. Sad too. Everyone is being so polite. That's great. But I'm not going to be.
You see, on the one hand I'm happy for Honors, I really am. I know that he wants to do the raiding content and he's probably the biggest raider in Heroes - or was, at least. He also seems to have a mission to prove to himself and the ignorant masses that a well played prot. paladin can tank anything. Good for him! Sort of. Maybe, if or when he gets to the end of Mount Hyjal, he'll be standing over the corpse of Kael'Thalas or whoever and think to himself, "I did it!" Maybe at that moment, his need will be satisfied. Of course, by then or right after that, Blizzard will release Wrath of the Lich King and there will be yet more raid content to prove himself in. At what point will he satisfy himself that he can tank any content as a prot. pally?
As for the ignorant masses, I'm sorry to say it, but he's not going to be able to educate very many. There are those who just plain don't know. Their opinions may be easy to change but Honors won't be grouping with them - at least not all of them and not for raiding. There are those who staunchly believe only prot. warriors can tank any true raiding content. Maybe they need to see with their own eyes that this is possible. But how? Honors isn't joining a guild that is out to prove this. In fact, if what he told us is true, that this guild specifically wanted a tankadin, then he's joining a guild of believers. So, the only person he's going to prove anything to is himself.

Anyway, those are the 2 reasons I've been given for his leaving (at least what he told us on vent): he's joining a raiding guild and that they actually wanted a tankadin (something that's very rare). I understand each of these reasons individually and I understand them as a package. And as I said, I'm happy for him that he got such an offer. However, I was still surprised even (or especially) given this reasoning. Why? Because of his last blog entry (at the time). I will quote the most relevant part:

I want to do every instance in the game, I really do, but I have to realize that I am never going to see Black Temple, or Mount Hyjal. I'll be lucky to see SSC before the next expansion. Could I leave Heroes and apply to a 25 man guild and start working my way through the end game. Perhaps. But I was looking over some of those guilds. Even assuming I could find one crazy enough to try a Paladin tank, it seems as if Raiding on that level is going to require a dedication of time and energy that I just can't give. That level of dedication belongs to my wife and my daughter now. I was actually mad at her at first for inviting friends over on Saturday night. I had a raid scheduled on Saturday night, how could she? I guess that's when it kind of started to dawn on me that maybe I've gotten a little over my head with Raiding.
I guess somewhere in between posting that and applying to other guilds, Honors must have decided he could dedicate the time and energy to raiding. If that is the case, then more power to him. I guess, selfishly, I wish he could have updated his blog to let those of us who read it know.

And my disappointment? Well, to me, a guild is more than a means to acquire gear or to experience content that you cannot do solo. A guild that you've spent any amount of time in, made friends with and that you've adventured with and grown with becomes like a virtual family of sorts. And unless that guild then takes a drastic downfall with drama and immaturity, that guild becomes more important than the other parts of the game. Well, maybe I can understand it if those friends and guildees you've made were satisfied with doing nothing once hitting 70, maybe all alting and their goals ultimately differed from yours then you may lose interest in that guild and want something different. However, I didn't think Heroes was such a guild. I mean besides the slight bit of drama we had, normally Heroes is very fun, friendly and social. And while we may not be advancing as fast as other guilds, we are attempting to make our way through Kara. In fact, we let Honors lead that cause.
So, to log in one night and find out that our friendships, our accomplishments, and our experiences together are ultimately not more important than these other goals of Honors' - I guess that's my source of disappointment. I thought we were more important than those goals. That's not something I could do. I wouldn't give up the friends I've made in Heroes for some WoW goal I may have... but I play this game more for the social aspect than anything and although I thought Honors did too, maybe that's the difference - maybe he doesn't play this game for the same reasons as I do and I've got to accept that.

Don't get me wrong. Honor's is a great guy and I do wish him the all the best in his new guild. I don't hold a grudge or anything. I'm just expressing my surprise and disappointment at the turn of events. Afterall, that's what this blog is for.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Great Expectations

I've been pretty busy lately so I haven't had time to do much blogging but I'll squeeze this one in.

Last night Heroes hit up Kara again and we had a strong group so everything went very smoothly. The raid consisted of:
Honorshammer (Protection Paladin, main tank)
Origami (Feral Druid, offtank)
Sameth (Holy/Discipline priest)
Sweatyz (Holy Paladin)
Dlow (Holy Paladin)
Ferth (Arms Warrior)
Jagdelf (Beast Mastery Hunter)
Darolynn (Shadow Priest)
Regolas (Affliction Warlock)
Lakini (Balance Druid)

This group had it all: lots of healing power, high DPS, shackles (kara is a place of undead afterall) and banishes, and solid tanking.
We took down Moroes (adds: Holy Priest, Retribution Paladin, Arms Warrior, Shadow Priest), Opera (Romeo & Juliette event), Curator, and Maiden all in one shot. There were no wipes in this raid and only a few deaths during trash pulls. Most epics were claimed except 2 which were disenchanted to void crystals (I'm not saying what what was disenchanted!).
I was pretty lucky to get the T4 glove token with a winning roll. I hope it wasn't a huge upgrade for the others but it was a pretty significant tanking upgrade for me and the set bonuses for the Malorne gear are pretty nice.

After Kara and after getting my new Gauntlets of Malorne enchanted I went to Stormwind to make my latest PvP purchase. As I already have the epic Belts, Bracers and Boots (although the boots are not Veterans so they need to be upgraded eventually), I purchased the Veteran's Band of Triumph which was a PvP upgrade for my ring slot (increased resilience and stamina at the cost of some AP). My resilience is up to 235 now and that makes me happy. My next PvP purchase will likely be the necklace, then the cloak and then lastly updating my boots. My next Arena purchase will be a difficult decision: I can get the gloves in one or two more weeks but the pants will be a bigger upgrade but costs more. I also have a feeling that just before I can get my last piece of Arena armor, they're rolling out Season 3. *sigh*

I also did some 2v2 last night. 2v2 is interesting because it's where feral druids are purportedly better but for most people, it's just a practice venue for their 5v5. Anyway, we had some tough fights and I lost a couple of fights that ended as basically a 1v1. There's nothing I can really do versus a mage - they have too many instants and can blink or trinket out of my stuns so I can't really keep them locked down to beat on them. If they're any good, they can use their ice spells to keep me snared and bear attacks are too slow to beat them down.
One 1v1 fight was against a MS Warrior who had lower health than I did in bear form. But he's going to out-dps me in a straight up warrior vs bear fight. I couldn't get away from him very effectively because of his hamstring spam and intercepts. I need to duel Ferth some to get an idea of the range I can go to avoid intercept so I can cylone/root a warrior and get some heals off.

Anyway, PvP has gotten challenging and less frustrating with the higher stamina and resilience. At least I don't drop in 3 or 4 hits now. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I made a comment on vent on Monday night about something which has challenged me and others in the guild. Reading The Hammer Strikes (Oakensledge's blog) this morning brought the issue back up in my mind.

Like most other guilds, Heroes has players in various levels. We're not all L70, running Heroics and Karazhan. Some are in their 60's levelling up in Outlands, while others are still in the old Azerothian world, trying to level up their toons. As we are a "casual guild", everyone has their own play time and play as often or seldom as they want.
One of the problems the lower levels face is in getting groups for the quests and instances they need to do. It can be hard to get PuGs for some of the lower level or less popular instances. As well, even if you can get a PuG it can usually be a very unpleasant experience. As such, the lower level players look to the higher levels for help. I can appreciate how these lower level players feel as I have been in their position before. It's frustrating to not be able to do these quests or instances on your own or with groups you can form on your own. Nobody likes a bad PuG and well you're in a guild so you'd rather group with these other people in your guild. Not everyone is just looking for a free ride. Yet at the same time, getting help from the higher levels can be frustratingly difficult because they're always so busy running their own instances. And you feel like a jerk asking everyone for help all the time but if you don't you feel ignored and left out.

It's no fun on the other end too. As a L70, I've been asked for help not just by guildees, but random strangers as well. I like to help when I can. One of the great things about playing a feral druid is that you can do almost anything especially when it comes to helping out lower level players. While any L70 could likely help out a lower level, a feral druid can help in different ways: just heal the player while he does all the work, tank for them, dps for them.
But you can easily get overwhelmed trying to help everyone. I've got my own goals I'd like to accomplish as well that is outside of just raiding Kara and getting better drops. I've recently dropped skinning for herbalism and am in the process of levelling that up. There are quests I really want to finish off, rep chains I'd like to get exalted with, and there are other L70's I'd like to help out with stuff as well.
So, it's also frustrating for those of us at the other end of the spectrum. I don't have the play time I used to and when I'm on, I have a list of things I'd like to try to accomplish. Yet at the same time I feel like a jerk if I don't help a fellow guildee out.

What's the solution? I don't think there's a straight-forward or easy one. We have had some folks in Heroes in the past that used to be what I would call "Takers". These people came into the guild and just asked to be run through everything and basically powerlevelled. They always wanted to go to instances that were well above their level. They always wanted help getting the best drops for their level. These people have made some veteran Heroes wary whenever they are asked for help. I know it's made me wary.
I don't think we have any "Takers" in our guild currently. Most people ask for help with stuff that is in their level bracket but just requires a group to do. At the same time, I have seen many times where higher level players have helped out the lower level players. Our guild has a lot of generous people.

In the end, I don't think there is a problem in our guild. The lower levels must remind themselves that they aren't jerks for asking for help. As long as they aren't always asking or begging for help, they're fine. They also need to remind themselves that they aren't being ignored if no one offers to help. Sometimes we L70's can be a little self-absorbed but more often than not, we are just busy and concentrated on what we're doing and do not mean to ignore anyone. Heck, just ask my wife about what it's like to talk to me when I'm on the computer! :P
As well, the higher levels need to not feel like they're jerks if they decline to help someone. This is their playtime and they should be allowed to play guilt-free. At the same time, they should keep in mind the plight of the lower levels and occassionally offer to help someone or go out of their way to help others.

As a guild, I think we can communicate better. There are often several people who are at the same level that aren't grouping together, so don't know they have the same quests to do. A higher level may not want to run 4 different individuals through Sunken Temple four different times but if the 4 individuals communicated, they could run ST themselves or get 1 higher level to help the group of them do this. This is the best way to get help.
We can also do more guild events where the focus is to help out lower levels with instances they need. This should be something we do on a regular basis and I think it would go a long way to helping people out.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Those Dry Nights

Ran 2 instances last night: Shattered Hall and Mana Tombs. I didn't need anything in either one - well, there's the Savagery enchant that drops off Centurions in SH but there's only like 4 or 5 centurions and the drop rate is so craptastic, I didn't figure it would drop. Mostly, these runs were about helping guildees hopefully get a drop they needed AND about rep. Most people needed/wanted the rep from these instances. Since I'll likely need exhaulted with every single faction to get the new enchants that are coming with the next patch, the rep was good for me too.

Honors got the trinket he wanted from SH. Nothing dropped for Rhubarb in Mana Tombs, although Polar (Wichita's alt) got a couple of upgrades. We sharded stuff but I didn't win any rolls so I pretty much ended up with nothing. Well, that's not entirely true - I did get a Golden Draenite and a blue level gem, I think it was a Dawnstone. The Dawnstone will be useful but I don't know what to do with the small stash of green level gems I have. I don't use them as I'll go with blue level ones even in something like my healing gear. I don't think they sell very well on the AH either, so right now, they're just taking up bank bag space.

I felt kind of bad for Mordiera. He is a friend of Ashur and Lilura and he doesn't play as often so his character is in the 40's. When Lil logged off last night Mordiera was on by himself and joined our Mana Tombs run vent channel for some company. However, it was late at night and even though we had a fun group (Wichita as Polar, Rhubarb, Sylvara, Darolynn and myself) we didn't really talk much on vent. In fact, there was a long stretch, probably 15 or 20 mins where no one said anything on vent. We just pulled and cleared and pulled and cleared. Well, Daro can't say anything on vent anyway but there wasn't even party chatter.
In some ways, I like that kind of atmosphere... where everyone is so comfortable with each other (and so overgeared for an instance) that we don't even need to chat (as opposed to being so unfamiliar and uncomfortable with each other, no one wants to chat - something that doesn't happen much in Heroes). However, I don't think it helped Mordiera feel any less lonely being in a channel with nobody talking. I hope he doesn't think we didn't want to talk on vent because he was in the channel!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Above the Crowd

I read an article this morning on Gamespy that previews Wrath of the Lich King. The article got me to thinking how Blizzard got things right with WoW where a lot of other companies failed. Blizzard didn't invent the genre, nor did they necessarily bring anything revolutionary to it. What they did however, was to try to perfect what was already out there. They took the good things and tried to make them better and tried to replace the bad things with better things.
Their customer base of around 8 million customer pre-Burning Crusade testifies to their success. No, it's not the half-naked Night Elf females you can play in the game - let's face it, with WoW's cartoonish characters, there are plenty of other more realistic and racey games to play if that's what the majority of the players were really after. And I'm not saying Blizzard did everything perfectly either. However, they did a lot of things right and that we're all playing this game rather than some other is because of it.
Enter Burning Crusade. Here's were Blizzard could really have dropped the ball. In fact, if all they did was release more of the same, we'd all likely not be playing WoW anymore and I wouldn't be blogging about this game. However, not only did Blizzard release new "stuff" they improved again. Not only were there new races and a new class available to the opposite factions (pally/shammy) but the quests more interesting this time. More importantly, there were more 5 man instances - a lot more. Even better, you can set them on heroic mode and run then again!
When I first read about heroic mode for the instances, I was skeptical. I thought it was a lame way to try to extend the content by just having the exact same instance just with the mobs hitting harder and with more health. However, heroic instances have proven to be as much fun as, if not more fun than, the original 5 mans. The mobs do hit harder and it is the exact same instance but the rewards are better and the bosses have different abilities, which require new tactics. And they certainly have extended the first expansion's "content" in that it's helped keep us L70's occupied rather than getting bored.
And the loot from the heroics helps with gearing for the raid instances, which is a progression itself. I was never into hardcore raiding and trying to get better gear by entering an instance with 39 others repeatedly to get points so I could get better gear so I could do harder raids was just not my cup of tea. So being able to obtain better gear through 5 mans to help make the 10 man raids better was certainly a boon.

When I originally read about Arenas, I was skeptical about that as well. It sounded like boring and annoying deathmatching. I was wrong again. Arenas is some of the most fun PvP I've experienced and I look forward to my matches each week. It's also not full of 'l33t' geared people 'pwning' my face. There are weaker teams and stronger teams and teams of equal strength - there are a lot of different variety of arena players. It seems like everyone is getting involved regardless of gear and skill. Perhaps it's the Arena rewards, which offer an alternative way to get some really good gear. Whatever the reason, Blizzard was successful here and introduced a fun new part of WoW that keeps us playing.

So, when I stop and think about it, I can't help but applaud Blizzard. I had hit L60 with a number of characters pre-Burning Crusade. In fact, as soon as I'd hit 60, I'd lose interest in my toons because at that time, I'd be faced with one of two choices: raid or alt. So I'd alt. And by the time I had 2 L60's and a bunch of alts, I was seriously contemplating quitting WoW. The only reason I actually kept playing was because a friend convinced me to join his guild on a new server. Hitting L60 again with Origami, I was just starting to get to that point again where I was losing interest (I did start alts) when The Burning Crusade was announced. Now I'm glad I stuck with it (it wasn't a hard decision as we were basically all offered new content to adventure in together). And I am more than a little impressed that I've been L70 for so long now and not only am I not bored, I can't stay on an alt for any length of time without wanting to get back to Origami and "progress" some more!

This time, I'm looking forward to the next expansion with less skepticism. It sounds like the expansion is still quite some time off, which is a relief as it allows us more time to get through some more of the "end game" content with TBC. I can't believe I just said that! :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

There's Something About M...

Well, last night our band of Heroes ventured once more into Karazhan. We had a pretty good turn out and had to ask a few people to sit, which was probably not so much an issue since some of us (me included) would not be available for the follow-up run on Sunday. Hopefully, they'll still have enough healers to run that night.
Anyway, when we finally got the groups sorted out and headed in our raid looked like this:
Honorshammer (prot. paladin - main tank)
Origami (feral druid - secondary tank/dps)
Baconstrip (resto. druid - main healer)
Rhubarb (holy pally - main healer)
Lakini (balance/resto druid - main dps/auxilary healer)
Wichita (elemental shaman - main dps/backup healer)
Jagdelf & Klemme (BM hunter - main dps/trapper)
Ferth (fury warrior - main dps)
Condramus (arcane mage - main dps)
Sylvara (assassination rogue - main dps)

We took down Attumen without a hitch, cleared to Moroes and took down Moroes in one shot. This was my first run where we took down Moroes without a wipe and it was nice to finally get that under my belt. We got the holy priest, arms warrior, ret. paladin, and prot. warrior. Honors tanked Moroes while I kept second threat on him and offtanked the prot. warrior, which was really nice because that guy kept my rage bar full, which meant I could unload on both of them without problems. Keeping second threat can get difficult when you aren't taking any damage as a feral tank (moreso for a warrior) because you can easily run out of rage with nothing hitting you. I remember at one point during the fight I was starting to worry about the adds and then checked Moroes' health to see how much longer we had to hold out and to my surprise Moroes was under 25% health already.
Moroes didn't drop the Pocketwatch. Sad but I'm not going to complain about loot. Just read my previous blog and you'll know why. :) Moroes did drop the Royal Cloak of Arathi Kings. This cloak was not better in terms of raw dps ranking than my current Capacitus' Cloak of Calibration, but it did offer a healthy boost in health so I took it for PvP. As well the Royal Cloak added 16 Hit Rating, which works out to slighly over 1% hit. In my PvE DPS gear, if I use the Capacitus' Cloak, I'm sitting at +3.8% Hit. Switching to the Royal Cloak takes me to +4.8% while lowering my AP marginally (~22AP) and my crit % by 0.7%, so this is definitely what you call a sidegrade.

After handing Moroes his defeat, we moved on first to Opera. Wichita, Rhubarb and I have been betting on what event we'll get and Wichita won again: it was Big Bad Wolf. I think there must be a bigger chance of getting that event than others so I think we're being cheated!
Big Bad Wolf is a pretty easy boss to take - you just have to have whoever gets turned into Little Red Riding Hood to run around the perimeter of the stage and the healers have to keep him alive. The issue is when a healer gets turned into Red Riding Hood. See, the healers won't have the Wolf targetted to know they're the one getting turned into Red Riding Hood. A number of people yell on vent but often times, the healer will be in the midst of a heal and by the time they react, the Wolf is already beating on them and if they don't get heals immediately they're likely to drop quick. This happened to Bacon the last time we did this event - the Wolf turned him into Riding Hood right away and then proceeded to beat him down and he did it again this time too. So while the event is rather easy, we usually end up with a few dead.

With the Opera event finished, we still had half an hour left in our scheduled raid so we decided to go to Maiden since she was closest and clearing to her only involved one hallway. We cleared to Maiden just fine and proceeded to take her down. Maiden, however, would not succumb. Her Holy Fires and Holy Wraths kept taking out our healers which would cause the chain reaction of everyone dying. Even with a grounding totem we couldn't keep up. Now it could be because we had 2 melee DPS along with me, the tank on this fight, so the Holy Wraths would hit them hard. We also didn't do a lot of the little things that would have helped here: we forgot to put dampen magic on the melee dps; we forgot to have our melee dps spread out; we forgot to keep our hunter's pet on passive; we didn't or couldn't keep our healers at full health. However, it was the end of the night and we were all tired so after two attempts and two wipes we called it a night. This just means the raid on Sunday will get to do more than attempt Curator.

Now, even though our raid configuration wasn't ideal for Maiden, I believe we could have succeeded. There's just something about Maiden. The fight is quite different from the others. Attumen is a straight up tank-and-spank. Moroes is a crowd-control fight. Big Bad Wolf is a kite fight (I've never done any of the other Opera events so I don't know what those fights entail). Curator is more of a dps fight. Maiden, however, is a different beast. I think what Wichita said was most accurate: this is a survival fight. You have to outlast Maiden. In our fight last night with Maiden, we went with 3 healers and 6 dps, since Maiden only requires 1 tank. In hindsight, we should have used 4 healers and 5 dps. Maiden is probably best dealt with by making sure we have enough healing and letting the dps whittle her down. Mana can become an issue in long fights but we took her down to ~33% and ~28% without anyone warning of low mana, so I think our healers and casters can out last her. Besides, with 4 healers, you spread out your heals between people more so everyone should have more mana. Perhaps the raid group on Sunday can use this to their advantage.

I wish the Sunday group good luck. I hope they have enough healers as this is a big issue for us and many other guilds. If they can take Maiden down quick then they'll have several shots at Curator. If they can take Curator down, then we'll have reached another milestone in our guild.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feeding Pavlov's Dog

They say WoW is a game of grinding but what drives us to grind? Gear. Gear is the true endgame progression in WoW. Once you've reached your accomplishment of getting to the max level, the only other way to feel like you're accomplishing anything is to get better gear. This sends you on quest chains, into instances, and makes you farm till you're blue in the face just to get that next better gear.
And when we get that nice little upgrade we hunted after so diligently, what's left to do? Hunt after the next, even better, upgrade. This keeps us playing the game. That's why there's content releases and expansion packs and new Arena seasons. Really, they're just a way for Blizzard to release more "better" items that we'll chase after.
In a way, we're like Pavlov's dog. Pavlov rang a bell everytime he fed his dog and eventually, all he'd have to do is ring a bell and his dog would start salivating. I felt a little like Pavlov's dog last night as a group of Heroes ventured into Heroic Botanica.

My evening started out with me logging in and a guildee (Sylvara) sending me a tell right away that someone was advertising they were selling a Badge of Tenacity in the Trade channel. A few of my guildees know I've been after this a while. It's the 2nd best rated tanking trinket for bear tanks in the game. I even farmed Ogri'la for a week when the patch first came out that opened up the area. I stopped farming after it after that but kept checking the Auction House and hoping for it to drop in doing my daily quests up there.
Anyway, I got the name of the seller from Sylvara and messaged him right away. The asking price was 1250 gold. Pretty steep for any item but really, why have I amassed all this gold anyway, especially since I already have my epic flying skill? So I told the guy I'd buy it but as he was in Gruul's Lair and I was about to run Heroic Bot, I asked him to send me the Badge in the mail C.O.D., which he did and I was able to pick it up later in the night, after our run.
So, I started out the night already obtaining one of the item objectives I've been hunting for. I could almost feel myself salivating. Item, woof woof, good. Pant. Pant.

We do our Heroic Bot run and while no longer an overly difficult instance, it does take some time to run through. I pretty much ignored most of the drops from the first 3 bosses, although a nice resist cloak dropped that no one else wanted. This cloak will help if I get an Arcane Resist set built up for Curator. When we get to Warp Splinter, I feel my anticipation building again (again with the imaginary salivating). I tried to remind myself that it's been taking 12+ runs to get any of the gear upgrades I want but that didn't seem to help. Feral Staff of Lashing was all I could think about! When we finally downed Warp Splinter and Jagdelf was about to loot, everyone chanted out the drop they want, me included. As the loot all appeared on my screen, I couldn't help but let out a shout of joy! The staff dropped! Yipee! Wait!! What's this?! Am I drooling IRL? No, phew! But close!!

That's when I had to take a step back. A virtual item in a virtual game made me react this way! That would seem ridiculous to any non-gamer, I would think. And I felt guilty too. Guilty because I wanted the epic that dropped to be the one I wanted, not the ones my guildmates wanted. For shame!

So, at the end of the night, I had gotten 2 really good upgrades that I had been wanting. It was nice but I still felt the sting of guilt. Pavlov's bell had rung but I had bitten and clawed back my pack mates so that I could be the one to get the treat. Bad dog!

Monday, August 13, 2007


Last night our guild hit up Karazhan again. The previous group had gone last Tuesday and cleared Attumen and Moroes, so this time we were taking on Maiden, Opera, and if time permitted, Curator. Normally, I go as DPS as we have enough tanks that don't have strong secondary choices like I do, however, this evening I was the designated offtank as we had no other tanks going other than Honorshammer.
This was my first time tanking in Kara. I was a bit nervous but I'm not sure why. I've tanked heroics and never had an issue and Kara isn't much more difficult and actually can be considered easier than some Heroics. Maybe it's because there are 9 other people in this raid as opposed to 4 others and some of the people I don't usually run heroics with or tank for. I think part of it too was comparing myself to other offtanks that Honors has run with. Would I screw up somehow? Would I be able to gel with Honors? Or would I be stepping on his toes?
When you tank a 5 man, you are usually the only tank and in some respects, you are in control. If you get adds or if one of the mobs resists a CC, you act and react with the rest of your team but you are usually the only damage soaker so your job is pretty straight forward. In a raid, when you are working with other tanks, you need to react well with them and certainly in one situation when we had unexpected adds during a pull, Honors and I did not communicate and we both tried to taunt the same mobs and left others running rampant. It was nobody's fault, really, but a little more practice should have us communicating better. I need to get some experience being an offtank as opposed to the "in control" only tank.
Still, the night went quite well in my books. I tanked Maiden as that fight is not very melee friendly and you only need 1 tank, so Honors was able to stand back and help heal. That went quite well - we only wiped once because the first time, Maiden kept targetting our healers for her Holy Fire. Beyond that and a small hiccup with my ISP and their DNS routers dropping me in the middle of a trash pull, everything went well. We had some issues with accidental aggro and those Arcane Anomalies on the way to Curator were a pain but that was it.
We got Curator down to 33% on our second try, which is quite good. The Flares were hard to chase after especially when ranged dps can start generating threat via damage immediately, whereas I would have to chase them around. I could do nothing to generate any amount of threat on Curator while the Flares were up so I ended up not soaking any Bolts. We'll need to adjust our tactics some but I'm pretty confident that we can down him soon.

After Kara, a few of us ran Steam Vaults twice to try to get Rhubarb some better healing gear and get Lakini to Exalted with Cenarion Expedition. We got Lakini his rep and we managed to get Rhubarb one healing drop but for the most part, the drops were useless and sharded. What is with the drops lately? Most of the people needing specific drops haven't been getting them and needing 14+ runs to get anything. I'm still hunting after my Feral Staff of Lashing from Warp Splinter in Heroic Bot and so far I'm 0 for 3. I don't relish the thought of having to run this 12+ more times to get it. :(

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More PeeVeePee

This past weekend was AFK Valley weekend - yeah, I heard that term used in general chat and I thought it was appropriate. It was also a long weekend up here so I tried to hit AV as much as I could. The goal was to get enough Honor Points to get the Veteran's Band of Triumph (15,300 Honor Points and 10 AV Marks). I'm pretty sure I managed to get that much Honor.
I'm not sure why people AFK in AV... the games go much faster, win or lose, if you play it and you also get more honor participating. I guess lazy people will always be lazy.
AV can get boring fast. If you follow the zerg on offense you basically are playing a PvE zerg. You can spice it up a bit by advancing ahead of the zerg and taking forward points where you may or may not encounter some live resistance. But even that gets old pretty fast. And certainly the first half of my weekend AV matches were like this. However, towards the end, more people were interested in staying on Defense which made playing defense tolerable.
Defense on AV can be difficult and painful as you are typically fighting against overwhelming odds which means lots of dying and feeling like you're not doing anything. However, with the current AV trend this is no longer the case. In fact, in several of the AV matches us defenders pretty much delayed the horde capping Stone Hearth graveyard (SHGY) several minutes to let the Alliance gain a small lead and then, while the majority of the horde were in fighting Belinda and the rest ran on to Stormpike Tower and Stormpike graveyard, we defenders took back SHGY.
Now, some of you veteran AV players are thinking, "OMG! Don't do that you noob! You just made the Horde turtle!". In the past, this was true because the Horde would bypass Belinda and go straight to SPGY, while the Alliance would always stop to kill Galv. This meant that retaking SHGY threw Horde offense back past IBGY while Alliance was either waiting for IBGY to cap or as they were trying to take IBGY. Nowadays, however, both sides are trying to maximize honor per match and thus, both sides try to take down their respective NPCs. With the Horde busy fighting Belinda, a SHGY recap is pretty easy. Most Horde won't die to Belinda and when they come out, they retake SHGY again, with a small skirmish.
Yes, we will lose this fight eventually but again, we've delayed them from re-taking SHGY and advancing. In fact, we've been quite successful defending here with the close respawn and the split objective for the Horde (SP tower and SHGY). A good defense here basically causes the Horde to be split up by attrition (some dying at Belinda, some dying to us defending SHGY, some dying at SP tower, and some dying at SPGY) and they will slowly stream back in from their start point. Usually they will fight for and re-take IBGY, IB tower and SP tower along the way but typically, the main Alliance force has advanced to and gone beyond FWGY.
On the way back, some Horde will bypass everything and go straight to IBGY. Others will stop and try to retake SHGY and/or the towers. We've managed to successfully defend SHGY due to the small amounts of Horde streaming back in and our ability to spawn 50 yards away from the flag.
Eventually, what happens is that the Horde is drastically behind the Alliance. Most Horde don't want to do a full turtle and will not rush the RH to try to get it back. Usually, by the time the Horde seem to have grasped what has happened, Alliance has FWGY fully capped and has RH and the FW towers capping. This is when they seem to give up. I don't know what they are doing - they must just be sitting in their start cave waiting for it to end because we end up with minor resistance (2 or 3 people) and nothing else.
We managed such successful defense on several games. The typical defense at SHGY composed of 3 or 4 Alliance players. It was quite an eye-opener to see how such a small group can successfully defend and/or retake a point by attacking when the enemy was distracted. These games usually ended with Alliance in full possession of everything from Aid Station up to SHGY - possibly losing SH tower. It was a lot of fun doing defense for a change.

Monday night MewMew PewPew and A Bubble managed to squeeze in our Arena games (there were connection problems due to Authentication Server problems). It was our first games with Honorshammer on the team and this meant we were sporting 2 pallys for healing. It was a lot of fun and we did fairly well. We learned to play together, what we needed to do differently with the new team format. We lost some we should have won and won some with some heart-throbbing action. Jagdelf also joined us last night and we subbed out Zadorr for Jag and had to learn yet again what to do as a team without 2 stealthers.
We did quite well then as well and both Honors and Jag brought a new dimension to our gameplay and were able to help us step it up a notch on their very first night! Breaking 1500 rating was nice. Having lots of fun doing it was even better.

Monday, August 6, 2007

On Kara and Beyond

Karazhan is a stepping stone for all guilds to the bigger raids that are 25 man. After Kara, you usually hit places like Gruul's Lair and Serpentshrine Caverns. Kara is a big milestone for guilds when they get to it. It's also where you'll be farming to get geared for the 'next level'. However, I've always seen Kara as a stop sign as well.
Being a self-termed 'semi-casual' player, I've thought about what it means to do 25 man raids. Can I commit the time? Will my guild be able to commit the time? Will we really be able to tackle them on a 'casual' basis? While most in my guild I think are optimistic, I'm the 'glass is half empty' guy on this one. I just don't see it happening. Kara has already proven to cause problems and some feel we are moving into 'hardcore' territory with it so anything beyond seems like it's too much.
To me, a casual guild basically stops at Kara... maybe Gruul's Lair, maybe SSC. It just seems to me that it will require too much time commitment per week to advance through those like other guilds. In a way, I don't think we even have to worry about it as the nature of our play style/time and the evolution of the game progresses, we likely will never hit the upper escholon raids before more new content comes out (like another expansion) and makes the current content outdated.
Zul'Aman is a prime example. I think by the time we're two-thirds of the way through Kara the next contect patch will be released. Blizzard is adding something for the more casual players with Zul'Aman. You're supposed to be able to tackle one wing of this new 10-man raid zone in about an hour, I believe. Either way, it'd be like taking Kara and chopping it up smaller. Also, there's no '1 week reset'... the instance resets each day. This means you don't even have to worry about Raid IDs and forming raids for the week. Just form your group and go - like any heroic 5 man.

So, what am I getting at? Well, with the recent announcement of Wrath of the Lich King, I think we can forget about 25-man content altogether. With ZA released next patch, I think by the time Heroes clears Kara and can 'farm' it and by the time we can clear ZA, the next expansion will be right around the corner. We may venture into the 25-mans to see it but I doubt we'll take it very seriously when another 10 levels and new content will make anything you get out of there ultimately useless.
I have mixed emotions about this. While I would like to see all content in the game, I'm not too broken up about struggling with 24 other people for hours in an instance wiping over and over again while people get frustrated about who's not geared enough, who's not doing their job right, and who didn't get to go on this run.

I was hoping with the announcement of the next expansion Blizzard will announce they were shifting focus to 10 man raids but it seems they are happy with TBC and the 25-man raid focus so the only thing I can see in the context of raiding in the expansion is to look for the next 'Karazhan'.

This game is a treadmill that resets your progress every time you think you're done.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Banner Night

Last night was one of those nights for me where I'm glad I logged in and played WoW instead of doing something else. You see, I have been after the Hourglass of the Unraveller for some time. It dropped once while I was in a Black Morass run but I lost on the roll for it and it had eluded me ever since. I don't usually obsess over loot like this but I think it was because I came so close to getting it before that I had become fixated. In fact, I was very casual about loot before we started gearing up for Kara and I think that in part has made me a bit fanatical about gear upgrades.
After doing my Ogri'la and Skettis daily quests with Wichita, some guildees were looking for more people for any Tempest Keep instance run. Since neither of us had anything else planned, we both joined up. However, upon joining the group, I realized we'd have one too many people and since the group really needed a healer, I stepped out of the group and now I'm very glad I did.
I put myself in queue in the LFG tool to get into a PuG BM group. I had been trying to get some PuG BM group runs because I had a hunch that I wouldn't be getting the Hourglass unless I ran BM in a PuG. I don't know why, other than the fact that a couple of other key pieces of gear I've acquired in the past had been in PuG or partial-PuG groups (Shoulderpads of Assassination, for example, dropped while I was tanking for a partial-PuG and I was the only leather wearer in the group). Anyway, the hunch certainly paid off as the Hourglass dropped and I won the roll.
I did feel kind of bad. There was a hunter in the group and he really wanted it as well. His buddy, the paladin healer, was asking if the hunter could have it, citing they had run BM 8 times now looking for it. Now, normally, I would have just passed and tried my luck again some other time. I don't like these types of confrontations - I don't want to seem greedy. However, having hunted for this for so long I told the pally that this was the only item in the instance I came for and that I had run BM like fourteen times hunting for this item. To my surprise, being in a PuG, the paladin acquiesced and simply stated, "but if you must, you must". To soften the blow for his Hunter friend, I offered to help in future runs if they happened to run them late at night, which is when my availability is higher.
I don't usually like offering my tanking services to people outside of the guild that I don't know even for a loot drop. However, I know how it feels to come so close to getting this stupid trinket and losing on the roll. Also, tanks can be hard to find - especially ones that are geared enough for BM.
When I first joined the group and made it into the instance, the pally send me a private tell asking me how much health I had. I told him that unbuffed I was at 12k and he seemed relieved, telling me their previous tank had only 9k health. Low health can be dangerous in an instance like BM. The fight with Temporus can be tricky if you're undergeared as Temporus has a MS debuff that can stack up pretty high which makes healing very tricky. As well, the fight with the last boss, Aeonus, can be dangerous for a low health tank because Aeonus has a 4 sec stun attack that hits everyone in a 50 yard radius. This means that for 4 secs your tank can't dodge, parry, or shield block and your healer can't heal him through the damage he's taking. If your tank wasn't at full health when the stun hit, Aeonus may be able to finish him off in those 4 secs.
The paladin's relief turned into shock, however, when I told him that I was sitting at 25k armor unbuffed. I could practically see his jaw drop IRL. I've got a great set of pre-kara gear and I'm proud of it. With MotW and BoK, I was sitting at 26k armor which is 71% damage reduction and above 15k health. During our fight with Aeonus, the pally sent me another tell saying I made this fight easy for them. This is probably because he didn't have to stress about keeping me at max health in case of the stun. At 71% damage reduction, Aeonus was hitting me for <1k (around 700-800ish). Even at half-health, Aeonus would have to hit me 10x to kill me so it didn't matter that my health wasn't at max when Aeonus did his Time Stop stun.
Bear druids make great tanks for a place like BM because not only do we have high health and mitigation, we also offer up good dps for a tank. And BM is a DPS test, requiring a good amount of DPS to succeed.

So, now I have the Hourglass. I went from having some pretty weak trinkets for my feral DPS around a month ago, to having some of the best. The Skyguard Silver Cross is the 3rd best DPS trinket as rated by http://www.gurgleblaster.net/emmerald/Cat_Sustained_DPS/Trinket.html and the Hourglass is 7th. However, the trinket rated 4th best only works on undead. The remaining trinkets are all only acquired from SSC or by doing BT - except 1. The Bloodlust Brooch is certainly a good trinket but it costs 41 Badges and that's going to take a while considering I just spent 25 Badges recently to upgrade my tanking ring (a very good investment).

It was kind of funny to tank an instance to get a DPS drop.

After the BM runs (we ran it twice hoping the Hourglass would drop again - it didn't), I joined in a guild SV run and again, it was a good call. We were trying to get Rhubarb some healing gear - none of which dropped, and after the last boss we decided to kill some of the Oracles out at the start of the instance because my guildees knew I was looking for the enchanting Formula: Bracer - Fortitude (thanks for the suggestion Jagdelf!). The first pull of a group of mobs with an Oracle and the formula dropped!
This is one of the things that makes Heroes Inc so great - the people. Most folk are generous and willing to help others try to get stuff they need or want and are even willing to do extra pulls after an instance in the off chance something drops. Hopefully, we can get Rhubarb some good healing drops and he can then help out with our shortage of healers.