Shotgun Friday: Shiny Ponies, Mini Robots, Ragnaros, and Pllayyyofffss?

16 April, 2010

It’s a great day for hockey.– “Badger” Bob Johnson

Time to take a little trip around the blog-o-sphere on this beautiful NHL playoff Friday.

Short and sweet, but my blog-o-read-o-matic is rather shallow these days. If you got something you would like to show off, just post it in the comments and I’ll throw it up, I mean, I’ll post it the next time I get a chance.

Random Friday Thoughts

Ponys and Robots

Micro-purchasing in WoW reached a new high (or low to some folks) yesterday with the release of the Celestial Steed and the Lil’ XT mini pet. The Celestial Steed is an account wide mount that’s both ground and air. It scales with your riding skill so you can use it on every one of your characters from level 20 on up. All I have to say about this mount is that it looked cool…until they released it. Now it looks like some bloated ghost pony.

The mini-XT on the other hand is an amazing non combat pet. It smashes trains, it shoots robots, and it makes a lot of noise. I’ll likely be picking one of these up very soon…

GC gave you a pony. Now shut up about it (and fork over $25 US)!

Nagas On Fire

Blizzard released a couple brief previews this week for some of the new Cataclysm zones: Vashj’ir and Mount Hyjal. The latter is going to contain one of the new raids at level 85 (The Firelands) and is something that I’m sure everyone is looking forward to. The Firelands obviously is going to contain one of our old friends, Mr. Ragnaros (or is it just Ragnaros, maybe Sir Ragnaros. I’m not really into the whole brevity thing).

The Firelands needs to have lava that you can tumble into and maybe even some sort of Red Tunic-esque fire prevention item available. I definitely do not want to go back to farming loads of resistance gear, but I think to recapture what made the fight against Ragnaros so epic, it needs some sort of resistance element to it. Gearing up for Rag, the Fire Resist gear, the consumables, all fed into the epic nature of the fight.

Maybe a resistance tabard or cloak linked to reputation?

[MMO-Champion]

Strength of Wrynn: 15%

Our projected time-line of four weeks per level is nearing of the end of it’s cycle for the 10% buff (April 27th). We’re currently working on Heroic Putricide in 25s and just starting some attempts in on Heroic Lich King in 10s. This gives us a raid week plus one day to finish up and start work on Sindragosa before we get bumped up another 5%.

The last increase to 10% really opened the flood gates on a lot of hard modes. The way a lot of the timers/benchmarks are looking for the stuff we currently do, 15% is going to put a lot of people up against Heroic Lich King in 25s very soon. The battle for the Realm First Light of Dawn is starting to heat up very quickly.

NHL Playoffs

If you are a casual hockey fan and really enjoyed what you saw from the coolest game on ice in the Olympics, don’t miss a second of the NHL playoffs this year. Every game so far has been absolutely fantastic. Last night two games went into Overtime and ended in the most dramatic fashion possible. The home team has only won twice out of the first 7 games so a lot of series are still really up for grabs.

Go Pens!

Have a great weekend, folks.

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ICC10 Hard Modes: Round 47

29 March, 2010

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.–Franklin D. Roosevelt

I label this Round 47 because it really feels like it’s been that long since I’ve been able write about our 10 man raid. Due to 10 mans occurring on our off-raid nights, you never know if something is going to perk up and pull one (or two, or three) raiders away at the last-minute.

Been waiting a long time for this could refer to The Lich King’s achievement, or what it’s like waiting to get your entire group back together and ready to tackle the rest of the hard mode encounters.

Standards

My goal starting this week was not to flip-flop hard mode and normal mode. There is some sort of psychological switch connected to the dudes in my 10 man that turns off their ability to play whenever hard mode is no longer active. Trying to flip it back on for the next boss has never worked.

So we turned on hard mode and started slow on Marrowgar (Some dumb shaman kept disconnecting), but got our game ramped up pretty quickly in time to Storm the Citadel heroic style. Our first target was the Crimson Halls, and our long-delayed date with the Blood Prince Council.

As I detailed in my last entry (sometime around the great depression), we had problems with the Council and they were many. To address these, we went in with some basic guidelines:

  1. Cover every inch of the floor. We placed a Shadow Priest on the stage to cover that area and then one ranged DPS west, and one east. If the Priest was targeted for an Empowered Flame Orb, he could disperse if it wasn’t drained enough. Two pet classes on the orbs made handling them easy once the areas of responsibility were covered.
  2. Disregard the Shadow Prison during Taldaram. As long as your stacks are low or gone when Taldaram is active, soaking/draning the Empowered Flames is easy.
  3. Keep the melee clean. Glittering Sparks = 40% Slow = Lots of problems with both kinds of Vortex. Mass dispel them if necessary.

Our composition was identical to our previous failed attempts(Holy Paladins are great for a 2 tank setup). The fight ended in a brisk 4:27 and gave us our Heroic: The Crimson halls(10 Man) achievement.

World of Logs

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Holding Out For A Hero

19 March, 2010

A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.–Novalis

Heroism/Bloodlust is an essential raid buff on nearly every encounter. On some it’s just a way to get it over with a little faster. Other fights require it to meet a benchmark or cover all of the healing required.

This is a simple post that simply lists in a simple fashion when I hit (or call for) Heroism:

  • Lord Marrowgar (Normal/Heroic): Start of the fight.*
  • Lady Deathwhisper (Normal): Start of the fight.*
  • Gunship Battle: By the time you’ve read this far into the guide, you already have won
  • Deathbringer Saurfang (Normal): When Saurfang frenzies at 30%
  • Deathbringer Saurfang (Heroic): When you think you can win in the next 40 seconds.
  • Rotface (Normal/Heroic): Start of the fight.*
  • Festergut (Normal/Heroic): As the first gas expunge is casting.
  • Professor Putricide (Normal): After one complete tank rotation (All tanks have 2 debuffs). This generally lines up with ~20% and will aid the raid healing quite a bit.
  • Blood Prince Council (Normal/Heroic): First time the Darkfallen Orb passes to Taldaram. The melee doesn’t have to move.
  • Blood Queen Lana’thel (Normal/Heroic): After all 16 vampires are active.
  • Valithria Dreamwalker (Normal/Heroic): After portal #3 or #4, depends on how fast you are moving. Make sure GS is ready to go up on her when you exit the Dream/Nightmare.
  • Sindragosa (Normal): Final ground phase (generally ~40%), this will allow you to push back the enrage and also not put your DPS in jeopardy if you use it later (Mystic Buffets!)
  • The Lich King (Normal): During the second Remorseless Winter when the first Raging Spirit spawns.

As a bonus, I’ll throw in To(G)C:

  • Northrend Beasts: After the first Jormungar burrow, when Acidmaw is mobile for the first time.
  • Lord Jaraxxus: Start of the fight*
  • Faction Champions: Start of the fight, when the melee are actually on their target (wait for them to run in).
  • Twin Val’kyr: After the second vortex, or when you see a good number of dps empowered. On Heroic Mode we tended to use this as late as possible regardless of empowered just to guarantee we had the healing to power through the last 20ish%
  • Anub’Arak: Start of Phase 3 (Leeching Swarm, phase). This is the best way to counter the massive amount of healing done as he transitions over.

*Make sure the boss is fully debuffed before activating Lust/Heroism (Sunders, Ebon Plaguebringer, etc.)

UPDATE: The above are from a 25 man point of view, but also all work for the 10 man versions of these encounters.

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Now With 5% More Fiber

3 March, 2010

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. — Gen. George S. Patton

The buzz this week, other than the Lil’ XT, is the activation of Strength of Wrynn/Hellscream’s Warsong.  As everyone knows by now, this is (initially) an extra 5% damage, healing, and health.  This buff by the end of the expansion will reach 30%.

It should be noted that talking to your faction leader and removing the buff will take it away for the entire reset. So be warned, there is no turning back (for a week at least) if you choose to go in without your King.

Blizzard’s continuation of using the “lore” of the Ashen Verdict to enhance and expand ICC is very solid.  Giving players a small boost is a better direction than their former model of cutting off whole limbs of bosses to allow raid groups entry into the later portions of raid zones with little more than a foam sword rack.

Five percent isn’t going to let trade chat PUGs kill The Lich King (or even Festergut, most likely).  What it will do is push guilds stuck at a particular point in the instance over the hump.  Very small execution mistakes aren’t nearly as magnified.  A little bit later in this post I’ll do a quick comparison between this week’s clear to last week’s Tuesday’s clear.

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Ciderhelm asks: WoW, Toy or Game?

25 February, 2010

There are many other important elements to games, but those — especially Surprise — are the most essential ingredients to any great game. Without all of these, we are merely playing with toys, and we will find ourselves bored quickly.–Ciderhelm

Ciderhelm, Adminstrator over at Tankspot (link to the right), wrote a very intriguing article yesterday asking a very simple question: Does WoW still provide everything that one expects from a game?  I encourage everyone to go ahead and read it as it provides some great perspective on where WoW really stands currently, and puts forth some very valid concerns that Blizzard should be addressing if it wishes to keep it’s industry-revolutionizing MMO at the top of the heap at least until it’s next MMO venture is ready (we think maybe within the next 10 to 45 years).  Below is my take on this issue.

There is a very real difference between something that’s a Toy and a Game.  A football is a toy.  You can use that Toy with a group of friends and turn it into a Game, but a football on it’s own is something you pick up, toss around a bit and then set back in the garage when raid time rolls around.  Specifically, a game should provide some measure of challenge and provide a reward for completing this challenge.  The strategy used to complete said challenge and if any surprises crop up all go into how good or bad this game is.

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Perfection. How Blizzard could have made Icecrown the best raid zone yet.

12 February, 2010

Despair, so delicious.

Icecrown Citadel is one of the most fun raid instances, if not the most fun raid instance Blizzard has designed.

It has everything.

Lore tie-ins, interesting trash that isn’t just 8 pack after 8 pack, and bosses that have truly great mechanics to deal with.  You can pick out some great moments in different encounters like dealing with ooze merging late in Rotface or the final Vampiric Bite and burn phase on Blood Queen.  Healing Dreamwalker to death and the Gunship Battle are also brand new, innovative mechanics.  Top to bottom, mechanically, a superb effort by Blizzard.

I often go back and forth with myself on this however.  Is it really great? Am I just happy to get some new content? Or is it really all that I think it is?  I can certainly say that tanks do not enjoy Icecrown as much as a healer or DPSer.  There are only a select few (maybe 4) that truly involve the tanks.  Too many give them nothing to do and could be tanked just fine if they DC’d (Blood Queen comes to mind).  Let’s take a look at the raiding features introduced in Icecrown and how they could be changed or maybe they’re good enough to stay as they are.

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