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.