Thursday, 31 July 2008

Closed

Sadly, due to stuff and things happening in WoW, I am no longer playing and thus will no longer be blogging about it.

Sorry to any readers I may have gained.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Possibly the Best Webcomic Ever

Dark Legacy Comics is very, very funny, and I would advise you go and check it out.

I would like to thank Too Many Annas for linking to it in this post. I got a good few hours of entertainment from that comic strip!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Crit-Proofing Your Bear

So, raiding time is fast approaching. Maybe your guild is moving towards having enough people ready to start Karazhan. Maybe you have just reached 70 and want to join a raiding guild as a new tnak. Whatever reason it is, you have before you the task of gearing your bear for the job of taking hits and staying alive long enough to be healed. You need Ronseal Crit-Proofing for Bears.

Well, no you don't, you need enough defense or resiliance to eliminate the crit chance of the boss that's hitting you. But I thought it'd be amusing to say that... moving on.

The first thing you need (note, 'need', not 'would like' or 'should have', need) is three points in the talent Survival of the Fittest. Those are three points you've spent the moment you chose to be a druid tank. I can't stress this enough as I've seen druids apply to be tanks in a guild without having any points in this talent. This talent is essential. Consider yourself to have 58 talent points to spend, since three are already spoken for. Well, I say three, but you also need Mangle which is another two points, and since you're getting Leader of the Pack in order to get Mangle, you might as well improve it so you're getting a bit of healing coming in as well. So that's 7 points pre-spent as soon as you became a bear tank. Okay, you've pre-spent a lot of points, because there are a lot of talents which are so useful that you'd be a fool to miss them out of your build.

Okay, you've already got 3% less chance to be crit, that's good. You need a further 2.6% from defense, ideally, or resilience. This means you want to aim for a defense rating of 415. This isn't always easy, of course, since leather armour with defense on it is hard to find, and gets harder to find the more you progress.

I would advise every druid, leatherworker or not, to start their pre-Karazhan gear build with the Heavy Clefthoof set. Sure, you don't get the bonus if you're not a leatherworker, but that doesn't matter. Getting crit immune is important, losing a +20 str set bonus is not. That set provides you with a lovely 108 stamina and 74 defense rating, as well as 4 yellow and 4 blue sockets, which you could gem up for an additional 72 stamina, using just green gems. Of course, that is one route, but I would advise gemming to the socket colour so you get the additional +11 dodge rating from the set bonuses. I would personally put +9 stamina Solid Azure Moonstone in the blue sockets and +3 defense rating, +4 stamina Enduring Deep Peridot in the yellow slot. That will mean you get an extra 12 defense rating, 52 stamina and 11 dodge rating, resulting in these three pieces of gear giving you 160 stamina, 86 defense rating (36.4 defense skill) and 11 dodge rating. Very nice from just three pieces, and one of the major reasons that this set is quite hard to replace.

You start with 350 defense skill and need to get it to 415. With the Heavy Clefthoof set you are on 386.4 defense skill, so still a way to go.

The next item I would advise adding to your set is the Strength of the Untamed necklace, requiring revered with the Cenarion Expedition. This isn't hard to get. A few Steam Vaults runs and questing sessions will net you revered really quickly, especially if you have gotten to honoured through the plant part hand in quest. That is an additional 19 defense rating from the neck, as well as 27 stamina and 18 dodge rating. That's an extra 8 defense skill, bringing us to 394.4 defense skill.

You can probably count the Violet Signet as part of your gear, since it only requires friendly with the Violet Eye. This ring will provide you with 13 defense rating and 27 stamina. Very nice from something you basically get paid to take. An extra 5.5 defense skill to add to our pot as well, bringing us up to 399.9.

So far the items I've advised have been fairly easy to get. This next one is a bit more of a pain, but it's so totally worth getting. Earthwarden used to be the definitive druid tank weapon, pretty much. It's still great as it gives 500 armour, 39 stamina, and 27 defense rating. The down side is that it requires exaulted with the Cenarion Expidition. However, it's very much worth getting, since it's still a useful weapon for a long, long time. Getting this adds a further 11.4 defense skill, pulling us up to 411.3, not far to go!

Now you could go for either the Iron Band of the Unbreakable from normal mode Durnholde Keep, or the Elementium Band of the Sentry from normal or heroic mode Arcatraz. The Iron Band will bring you to 418.5 defense skill, while the Elementium Band will bring you to 419.7.

From those seven items, each resonably easy to get, you are now a little over uncritable. Congratulations. The rest of your gear can be stamina and armour heavy, with some agility for extra dodge and crit chance.

Checkout the Feral Druid Rated Gear List for ideas for other pieces of bear tanking gear, but always remember to maintain 415 defense rating!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Raid Leading

For a while now I've been a raid leader within my guild. I've been given the Karazhan, the Gruul's Lair and the Magtheridon's Lair farm runs. I've also been asked to focus those raid spots on 'mini-raiders' (our rank name for people who are Karazhan/Gruul geared, the rank above being 'raider' for the Serpentshrine Caver/The Eye geared people) to get them up to the rank of 'raider' as fast as possible. Now, this poses a few problems for me. Firstly, our 'mini-raiders' are normally that rank for a reason (in a guild that has been clearing Karazhan with three groups a week, before we started to focus on SSC and TK, and which contains numerous people who will run heroic content, they have managed to stay under-geared): Either they are brand new to raiding and thus need to learn how to do their DPS rotations/threat generation rotations/healing class style or they don't have the time or inclination to raid or instance and get properly equiped for it. We do have some mini-raiders who are that rank because they've only just been accepted into the guild and haven't managed to get a raid yet and are working hard, through heroic instances and such, to gear themselves for the challenge they will face, but these mini-raiders are, to my perception, in the minority.

Also, I want to clear those instances. That means, generally, not taking a whole bunch of totally green rookies. It means taking at least five of our A Team players (I normally try to take a tank who is proven to be able to tank Prince and Nightbane, ie me, two healers who are either capable or on the verge of being capable of healing the instance between them, and two damage dealers who can reach or exceed 1k DPS). These veterans aren't there for gear, so it increases the opportunity for gearing up everyone else there. Sadly, I normally can't fill the last five spots with mini-raiders. There's rarely enough of them signing up for raids, so I have to take raiders who just want the badges (or coerce raiders who don't want anything into coming).

Now, once in there the more experienced raiders have very little patience for tactics discussions. They know how it's done, and they just want to get it over with. Understandable, since Karazhan isn't the most titilating of instances. Of course, if we want our mini-raiders to actually learn what they need to do then they need to be told what is going on so they can learn the fight, learn whatever skills it might be teaching so they can transfer those skills to the later fights. Should they ever get there.

Being a raid leader involves a lot more juggling than I thought it would when I took the role. I had this vision of herds of people who wanted to do raids signing up for them, me picking from those who signed up and always making a good enough team to clear Kara, while gearing up our mini-raiders so they could join us in the more interesting content. It's really not working out like that. I'm often having to scrape for a last tank, another healer, some more DPS who will be able to pull us through, etc. Out T5 level guild has recently failed to clear Karazhan, twice. And it's getting to the point where it's just humiliating for me. I find myself hoping that very few mini-raiders sign up so I can take a full compliment of vets and get the place nuked in three hours or so. I hate follow up runs, really do, and we have no time on the calendar for them anymore. Sunday is my Karazhan run, Monday and Tuesday are SSC or TK nights and then we're reset and on to Gruul/Maggy on Wednesday or Friday, another SSC or TK night on Thursday, Saturday and Wednesday are for ZA... so there's no spare time to get a mini-raider, two-run-requiring group through Karazhan.

Woe is me? I guess. I just feel sorry for the mini-raiders who are trying and may not actually get to progress because of the small amount of time they are given to raid in. Which is why I suggested maybe giving the Karazhan raid leadership to a mini-raider who could then schedule Karazhan runs on the nights that the raiders are in TK or SSC, get a full complement of mini-raiders together and start to learn the fights as we had to, working as a team. I think our mini-raiders would actually really benefit from this. Instead of being dragged through there, learning nothing and not actually participating on the fun that is damage meters and competition between almost equals, they would be pulling together, learning to communicate, finding out how their 'oh crap' buttons worked and when to use them, etc. However, this idea is doomed to failure, most probably. We don't really have the tanks or healers at the mini-raider level to cover runs while SSC or TK is happening. We have a lot of mini-raider DPS, but not much in the tank or healer flavour.

Le sigh.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Serpentshrine Cavern

Last night Coup de Grace entered SSC for the first time. We romped in, kicked a load of fishy butt and downed Lurker on our third try. Our first try was a 'feeler' try, since our main tank was helping his father book tickets... yeah.

On our second try Lurker despawned because we were killing an add while he was spouting (according to a few people in the raid, at least. I think he just ran away scared).

Our third try was the charm though, we kicked his fishy but and everything worked excellently.

I have to say, Lurker is one of my favourite bosses so far. Nothing is too hard, and everything is actually quite amusing. He starts spouting and you leap into the water. He whirls and throws you back a little. He looks like a big fish and dives under the water to get away from you. It's a blast. Also your ranged DPS don't need to worry about pulling agro, they can just blaze away and get the highest DPS they can manage.

I was there as Ghosthoof, so I got to DPS for most of the time, then pick up one of the melee adds when they came. I have to say I was nervous since I'd read a lot about how hard the melee adds hit. However, after tanking two of them with ease when two of our tanks died I have to say they don't hit so hard. It was actually quite fun.

Very cool fight, very cool night. Only down side was that he dropped a bunch of junk that no one really wanted all that much. Ces la vie.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Is The Internet Really Scary?

4 Haelz wrote this post about the people on the other side of the screen.

It got me thinking about stuff and things, and goodness never follows thinking...

I have attended 'internet meets' - large (and not so large) gatherings of people who only know each other through the internet. In my specific case these internet meets were for an online game called Discworld MUD. The first meet I went to was in Manchester, when I lived in Leicester. I didn't really know that many people there, not that surprising since there were about fourty or so, many of whom I'd never even spoken to online.

But, guess what? I didn't get axe murdered and thrown in the river! There was one person there who was super weird, but not axe-murderer weird, just not-understanding-social-norms weird. Sort of creepy in some ways, but mostly just weird.

At that, my first meet over eight years ago, I met the girl I am still with today. About a week or so later I was staying at her sisters house, where she was living.

My story is by no means unusual within that particular community. One guy left England and lived in America for a bit, in order to be closer to someone he met on the game and really liked. One guy left Holland and moved to England. People moved around the UK to be closer to each other.

Before the girlfriend I currently have, I'd started a relationship with a woman I'd never met who lived in Sweeden. My parents made jokes and jibed me about how she was probably a 50 year old fat balding guy from Swindon or something. I told them that they were being a bit dim. They worried because I'd never even seen her, and what if she was ugly. I asked them if what they had always told me, that a relationship should be based on who a person is, not what they looked like was actually full of crap. They said no, and tried to weasle out some excrement about how she might be putting on a front and actually be really mean in real life. I argued back that, when talking to someone in a text based environment (as Discworld MUD is) the ONLY thing that can come across is personality, and after six months of being the same person maybe she was really that person?

Now, WoW is a little different. We often use Ventrilo or Team Speak to talk to one another in real time. People's accent, pitch, tone and intonation come across. We have visual avatars which say something about what we value, not a lot, but something. But we can't see each other. We have to work with the limited information we can get about the person on he other side of the screen.

You Guild Master might have a hump and warts all over his face. It doesn't matter. If he can lead the guild, organise things for people to do and play his chatacter he's the greatest guy in the world.

That Blood Elf paladin healer who you grouped with through Shadow Labs, who kept everyone's health bar on full without losing even half her mana? She might be a severely obese chain smoker. To you she is a goddess of health bars, welcome in every group from now until the heat death of the universe.

That hunter who couldn't trap for the life of him, who didn't know when to feign to avoid pulling agro and caused more wipes than you thought possible in the Botanica run the other day? He could have been a highly paid, super-good-looking, sporty guy. It doesn't matter. To you he'll always be that huntard who needs to learn to play.

Who you are 'out there' doesn't matter once you are online. How you interact with people matters. What you know matters. People who claim that you can't judge them based on what they do on an online game are full of it. How you act on an online game, in an environment where you are faceless and can get away with whatever you like with no chance for retribution is all that matters to the people who will never meet you. I can judge you based on your actions on the online game, as that is all I know of you, all I care about from you.

I think that is the scary part for the older generation. Who you know becomes irrelivant. What mask you can wear, how you dress, the car you drive, the way you hold yourself. All of these things which they have cultivated become irrelivant. They no longer have a working frame of reference. How do they interact with someone when they can't see who they are? Some of the older generation have taken the leap. They've got online and learnt the new communication norms, the new social norms and how to decode what is going on so they understand it and can relate to it. Most will never do so.

The internet is no more scary than the real world. The people on the internet ARE the people from the real world, with their masks off, but at a safe distance. You are always in control as well. It's not like being in a city centre where you can be cornered and mugged/raped/murdered. If you don't like what is happening online you're just a button press away from it not happening any more. There is more to fear from going to buy your loaf of bread than there is to fear online. So long as you're careful with your personal information you're safe online. You can take all the self-defense classes, buy all the knives and pepper spray you like and you still wont be safe out on the street, even on your own street, a few meters from your home.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Ally Scum?

As I was grinding, 'locking and generally testing my way throgh the Southsea Pirate cove in Tanaris, gathering some of the data for the last entry, I came across a case of 'scummy player' syndrome.

Allow me to relate the tale.

I was fighting two Dock Workers. I have DoTed one of them up and was about to put Siphon Life on the next in preparation for killing it when an alliance druid pops out of stealth and auto-attacks the one I've not attacked yet. Fine, I think, take it, it'll mean I can keep my more mana-efficient rotation going. But that's all this druid does. He hits it once with auto-attack so he tags it, then he backs off. Then I pull a third Dock Worker, which he dutifully taps to tag it and backs off again. At this point the words of Jack Black spring to my mind: Hell no, that's not the way I roll, cock-shiner.

There's no way I'm going to kill two mobs for this scummy ally druid. I'd rather die than let his griefing plan succeed. So I start to run away from the mobs. When I'm at a safe distance I dismiss my pet so the two mobs he hit go on to him. As I'm running I pull about six other pirates, all of which add cock-shiner druid to their agro list. As I get away from each of these adds they run back and jump the druid. I turn around to see my handiwork. The druid is in travel form, dazed, trying to run away from about eight mobs. Lovely.

I re-summoned Hathnagma and run back into the pirate's fort and start killing again. When the druid gets back to his corpse and resurrects I point, laugh and carry on with my questing. Amazingly he didn't try to grief me again.

I know it wasn't because he was an ally, though. He was just one of the legion of players who think that the artificially constructed rivalry between the alliance and the horde is an excuse to be complete knobs to members of the other faction.

Warlock Pets

For a long time now I've wanted to test my different pets out to see which one is actually the best for me. I see other warlocks running with their imps out or the succubus, but I don't know if they're doing this because they know something I don't or if they just like the play style it forces them to adopt. I personally have always used my voidwalker. The big blueberry tanks for me and I spank the mobs gently until they die.

Since I thought it would also make a kick-ass blog entry I decided I would finally get around to doing the comparison. So here it is, in all it's probably-not-very-useful glory.

Useful Information: I used Recount for my DPS and total damage information and Omen for my threat per second information. I was level 44 when I conducted the test and had bought all of the skills for each pet that was available. Each test was performed over a thirty minute duration.

Anneri (Succubus)

Total pet damage: 28,451
Average pet DPS: 37.3
Average pet TPS: 45

Total player damage: 28,404
Average player DPS: 49.9

Anneri served me well and was actually quite fun to grind with. She didn't hold agro very well, but because of our combined DPS the mobs were often almost dead before they decided to start running to me. She also provides a good amount of utility as she can seduce certain mob types.

Naltip (Imp)

Total pet damage: 9,938
Average pet DPS: 24.8
Average pet TPS: 24

Total player damage: 29,693
Average player DPS: 66.2

Naltip was guilty of the most heinous of pet crimes – making me have to drink. As a lock using a void walker I've become accustomed to using Life Tap, Siphon Life and Drain Life to maintain high mana and life and so avoid the need to drink or eat. Since Naltip had less than a third of my health and created the threat of a wet noodle, I had to have agro, meaning I couldn't use Drain Life effectively and didn't feel comfortable using Life Tap.

Kreenam (Felhunter)

Total pet damage: 12,276
Average pet DPS: 20
Average pet TPS: 20

Total player damage: 34,440
Average player DPS: 68.7

Perhaps unsurprisingly Kreenam was a diabolically bad tank, able to only just keep the agro off of me long enough for me to finish DoTing up the target. I again had to drink, although fewer times than I had to with Naltip. Still, the fact I had to drink makes Kreenam not a good choice for a PvE pet, in my opinion. With a higher total damage than Naltip, and being semi-useable as a tanking pet allowing me to put out more damage, Kreenam isn't the worst of the pets for solo PvE grinding.

Hathnagma (Voidwalker)

Total pet damage: 14,990
Average pet DPS: 17.5
Average pet TPS: 55

Total player damage: 43,537
Average player DPS: 61.2

Hathnagma is my faithful blueberry minion. Time after time she will throw himself into situations, knowing that all I am doing is assassinating a specific NPC before running away, and don't expect her to survive the mob's bodyguard. She is also able to keep agro in all but my most DPS heavy of rotations (I maxed out at 115 DPS on one assassination run and didn't get agro until right at the end, too late for the mob to reach me).

Hathnagma is my favourite solo PvE pet. She allows me to utilise all of the warlocks fantastic grinding abilities and rarely needs to slow down. She also allows me to burn down a single mob without worrying about the others in the pull (for example, Andre Firebeard), which the other pets do not have the health or mitigation to manage. Trying to use Anneri in this way would result in one very dead succubus, while Kreenam wouldn't keep the agro long enough for it to be a viable strategy (and he would die really quickly).

So, there we go. Warlock pet testing.

Please note, none of the images used in this post were made by me, they were all taken from WoWWiki's pages on the individual demon in question.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Past the Half Century

This is my 51st blog post. I didn't think I'd stick with it this long, I really didn't. I guess I must have some commitment at least.

I've not been playing much recently, due to my exams, but I only have two weeks left of them and then I am on summer holidays. Which will be nice. I should have a fourth level 70 character by then.

Also, go here and read Big Bear Butt's quite thought provoking post about cheese. It's good. No, really, go on over there. Don't let the fact it's about cheese put you off...

Saturday, 31 May 2008

To Group or Not To Group?

Aurik at /hug posted an article on his blog about boosting or PUGing 'old skool' (pre-Burning Crusades) instances. I thought the topic was interesting and wanted to put my own thoughts without bombing the poor guy's comments.

Why Do People Get Boosts?

Many people I know who get boosts do so because finding a group for a given instance is hard, because no one wants to do it. They fail to see the chink in the armour of their logic here. If they take themselves out of the availiable pool of people looking to do the instance, then there's fewer people looking and so getting a group becomes harder. Not many people need to decide to get a boost before a tipping point is reached where most people get boosts because a given instance has a reputation for being hard to pick a group up for.

Another reason people get boosts is because they're sick and tired of people who can't play their class making the instance harder than it needs to be. The mages opening with Pyroblast? the healers who actually can't? The rogues stealthing ahead of the group and pulling? The tanks only even trying to hold agro on one target? The groups who don't want to use the Lucky Charms, or seem incapable of following kill orders? I am talking to all of you guys. You, and people like you, make those of us who have seen what a competant person playing your class at your level can do, not want to continue PUGing low level instances. You guys make it too hard to be fun.

Why Are There Problems With Boosting?

I have already somewhat covered why there are problems with people getting boosts from my first point - they add to the problem of too few people wanting to run a given instance.

People who don't run instances because of point two have a similar effect. They remove the number of competant people from the pool of available PUGers. If you're noticing people doing things outragiously stupid, chances are you are not doing those things yourself. Chances are also good that you are raising the general group competance just by being there, doing your thing. Taking yourself out of the pool means that future competant people will find the same situation you have, and do the same thing you have done.

Why Should I Care?

Well, most of the points I have raised have been about your decisions impact on those who come after you. The general disintigration of the PUGing community for the pre-Burning Crusades instances isn't something that's going to get people protesting in the streets of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, or indeed, caring very much at all. But it's worth bearing in mind the next time you bemoan how crap PUGing lower level instances is, you can either become part of the problem, or part of the solution.

Also, I disagree with Aurik's assessment of the potential experience benefits of not getting a boost. I have always found that a run with people of the right level is of benefit when learning my class. I may not have all of my killer abilities, but I will have my staple abilities (generally, probably exception being Ragefire Chasm) which I can learn to use well. As a tank it's less stressful to learn how to hold multiple targets' worth of threat when you have some give with regards how fast people die to rampaging mobs. If you were to wait until level 70 to learn this stuff (because that's when you'll have all of your killer abilities at their max) then chances are you'll be labled as the worst tank in the world and ditched fairly quickly. Unless you are on a server with a massive lack of tanks, of course, when you will still be fed caviar and told how awesome you are.

Final Thoughs?

Boosting is here to stay. As are losers who ask over trade for a boost for 5g. I play a feral druid, which is possibly the best boosting class in the game (prot/holy paladin might be better, case dependent). I have boosted people through Blackrock Depths, soloed Lower Blackrock Spire, and two manned Upper Blackrock Spire (with the hinderance of a third person we had to call in to activate the first boss) without a healer. But I get nothing out of boosting some little scrub who asks over trade. It's not a profitable thing to do. In the time it takes me to boost them in Shadowfang Keep (20 minutes in and out), for example, I could do three or four daily quests and get about 30 gold and not have the hassle of them pulling agro.

I'd like to not have to boost or be boosted in any instance, but the fact is that I have friends who are going to get frustrated (and am going to get frustrated myself) and ask me for a boost. I will almost certainly help these friends, because that's the sort of person I am, and it can be fun to boost someone who is cracking jokes over the party channel every now and then and isn't trying to help out. 'Helping out', in my experience, often leads to running around like a loon trying to stop them from being killed.