Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Raids, and the Leading Thereof

I had an interesting experience Tuesday night that involved pugging into a raid that I ended up leading.  At the end, I thought it would make a good blog post and started thinking about how to compose it into a story worth hearing.

So imagine my surprise Wednesday morning when I look at my feeds and see that Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs has posted an article about pretty much the exact same thing.  I'm still going to forge onward, however, because I have a slightly different tack than him.

There was over an hour 'till Wintergrasp, I had done a HoR for my chance at a Battered Hilt and Ephemeral Snowflake, I had completed my daily random, and the weekly raid quest was Marrowgar, which I'll get via our weekly trip into ICC anyway.  Consequently, I was trying to decide if I wanted to hop over to Alrom and keep working him toward 80 or go do the Argent Tournament dailies and make a little money.  I'm always short of the money I want, so I used my Argent Tabard and ported in to start picking up dailies.

Before I got more than 2 picked up, I saw somebody calling for tanks and heals for ToC10.

"What the hell," I thought, "that's my two specs and I can still use a couple of items out of there."  I offered to go and was invited.

Upon informing the raid leader that I was tank/heals with a preference for tanking, he asked me to heal.  A couple more minutes for them to pick up another tank (which actually flipped once found, from a DK to another bear), and we were "ready" to start.

I say "ready" because other than a definition of the tanks, nothing was really said in vent, I couldn't find another definitive healer in the group (turns out it was a shaman), and nobody really talked about a strategy.  AT ALL, despite the fact that they had us all hop into a vent channel.

The shaman was new to raiding (as I later learned), and DID stand in the fire and die.  And rez himself in the fire, and die again.  And got battle rezzed... and died again, but I'm not sure if that was in the fire or not.  Even given that, we lived a surprisingly long time with only me healing.  I do an amazing amount of HPS when there's no other healers to turn half of my heals into overheals.

After that fiasco I guessed we were in for a very long run.

One of our only two ranged dps (don't go there), both of which happened to be warlocks, offered to bring his healer in, popped out and came back on a druid (which gave us 4 in the group, another was kitty), and during the interim I took the time to organize the heals, put the shaman on raid healing and split the tanks between the trees.  I kept waiting, at this point, for the raid leader to lay out some sort of strategy.  Mostly, all that was said was to kill the snobolds and run to the raid if you got one.

We made it through Gormok almost flawlessly on this run regardless, and the worms came out to say hello, and upon this event we ran into problems again.  I don't remember all the specifics, but among other things they weren't both turned away from the raid, and at one point I stood in front of one even though it was turned away from the rest of the raid (I know, I'm a fail druid) and I died.

I actually got battle-rezzed and going again, and enough of the raid lived long enough to kill the first Jormungar.  Soon after one of the two worms died, though, we had the bear tank, a rogue, and me alive, as everyone else had succumbed in one way or another.  The other rogue actually released, thinking it was a wipe.  But when the remaining Jormungar went underground, the bear rebirthed the second tree.  Once our health was stable again (the burning debuff hit both of the healers), I rebirthed the cat druid, and we were back in business with half a raid.

Icehowl was a piece of cake, although he took forever.

It was one of the most stressful boss fights I've ever healed through, and I absolutely loved the challenge of it.  We got congratulated for "epic healz", and thinking back I actually feel bad for not telling the bear what an awesome job he did.

About this point, the original raid leader said something about his DBM being messed up and asked for somebody else to lead the raid, the response to which was crickets chirping over the vent channel.

Despite my experience leading raids and especially ToC10 raids, I didn't exactly leap at the opportunity.  I HATE leading PuG raids, with the rare exception of a weekly raid quest like Patchwerk that involves finding enough bodies of the right kinds to fill spots and saying go.  I like our guild runs - I know everybody, more or less, and they're generally nice people who won't rip into somebody for screwing up, or go all elitist on me, or generally exhibit behavior that would warrant a kicking.  In a PuG, however, there's really no such safety net, and I don't like being the person that has to deal with it.  In addition, our guild folks generally know what they are doing, as even the ones that aren't seasoned raiders know enough NOT TO STAND IN THE FIRE.  Oh, and one last thing - I've never been a raid leader as a healer.  It's a different way of doing things than what I'm used to.

All this went through my head once, twice, maybe three times.  Then, at the continued silence, I finally said, "Kaethir can lead if nobody else wants to."

Of course, being the first one to speak up meant that I got handed the reins.  Yay me.  I found out very quickly that we had a fairly knowledgeable, nice, and well geared group, and ended up not minding leading this raid at all.

I can skip the play-by-play from there on out.  I took the time before each boss to lay out the general strategy (with some help from the more seasoned raiders in the group.)  We only wiped one time the rest of the way, on our first attempt at the faction champions, despite only having one ranged for permafrost and adds during Anub, three folks learning the fights as we went, and our shaman healer being new to raiding at all.  The warlock got lucky, as a LOT of dps caster gear dropped, with him being the only main spec to use it.

It was one of the more enjoyable PuGs I've gotten into, despite the fact that I got handed the lead I didn't want.

Tamarind waxes poetic about what calls people to lead raids and why, despite the fact that it can be stressful, people come back and do it again.  I won't comment directly on what he said, but he made me think about why I'm willing to do this when the call comes.  To me, it's really quite simple.  I know the fights, I know what people are supposed to be doing, I like helping people learn, and perhaps the most important thing of all...

If I'm the one leading, I can't complain about the quality and/or skill of the raid leader.  Perhaps, a bit more bluntly, if I'm the one leading, we're not going to screw up because there's no strategy in place, or because the healers aren't assigned, or some other silly thing (although I have been known to occasionally leave a point or two out of the explanation of a fight.)  Having cut my teeth, so to speak, leading guild raids in an environment where I could make a few mistakes as a leader and not get reamed for it, I've developed the confidence that I know what I'm doing enough to lead others, provided of course that they're willing to be led.

Finally, a request to all those out there that want to get a raid together but don't want to lead...  find a raid leader BEFORE you start the instance.  It will make things easier.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We might get TWO buttons?

I'd like to point out a blue post by Ghostcrawler that I came across...

Yes, a lot of the focus of the post is warrior tanking, but there's some other aspects thrown in.

The part I'd like to point out is this:

3) There are differences in how tanks generate AE threat, and therefore damage. Warriors are jealous of the DK and especially paladin persistent area-based damage, and the others are jealous of the warrior's burst AE threat on incoming adds. Druids are jealous of anyone with more than one button.

For the love of Elune, yes, please, give us something else we can use instead of just spamming swipe and hoping our gear is strong enough to out-threat everybody else with it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Frost Emblem Accessories Redux

You thought I forgot, didn't you?

Before I begin with the Tree stuff, while not exactly a retraction, a... change of heart... on the items from the Bear accessories post.  I stated that I would likely buy the Corroded Skeleton Key fairly early in my purchases.  On further review, I made the mistake of looking at the ridiculously high Stamina number, combining it with another item and thinking, "Wow, I can get that much Stamina AND some other stats for the same cost (or less) as another item..." forgetting that, there's no need to buy this in addition to the other item, and Stamina doesn't get me anything substantial except the ability to take a bigger hit (or more smaller hits) before dying.  While I will still have this on my list of things to purchase - 3000+ health in bear form from a single trinket is not to be laughed at - it has been moved far down to the end, because it is more beneficial to buy the other items that provide a (smaller) stamina boost in addition to stats which improve survivability over the long term instead of just against burst damage.  As such I'm drawing close to 95 Frost Emblems and trying to decide what to buy to give me the best improvement fastest (yes, I know, isn't that what that post was all about?  HUSH YOU my gear has a few pieces that differ from that analysis and I have to take that into account.... sheesh!)

Here we go with an examination of Back, Neck, Rings, and Trinkets purchasable with Frost Emblems for Trees, follow up from the post on Tier 10 and the Tree.  Much like the Bear posts before it, this carries the same disclaimers.


Purified Lunar Dust
Stats: 153 spell power, your spell casts have a chance to gain 305 mana per 5 seconds for 15 seconds.
Cost: 60 Emblem of Frost

The only trinket of note available for Frost Emblems is Purified Lunar Dust.  Talisman of Resurgence is available for Triumph but I'm not 100% sold on it... Int is nice but I think I would rather have spell power in my trinkets.  Perhaps I'll pick that one up later, but I really do like the Dust.  Big chunk of spell power, and a fairly significant mana regen ability.  If this procs at ANY decent rate, it will be up for the entirety of any boss fight.  This will be relatively high on my list of items to pick up... but that might be just because I'm still using an iLevel 200 trinket.


Idol of the Black Willow
Stats:  The periodic healing from Rejuvenation grants 32 spell power for 15 sec, stacks up to 8 times.
Cost: 30 Emblem of Frost

Quick math, 32 * 8 = 256 spell power.  The Triumph item (Idol of Flaring Growth) grants 234 spell power for 9 seconds, but has a chance instead of being definite, but it's a fairly high percentage proc, which means this essentially gets you 22 additional spell power for 6 additional seconds, but it has to "build up" anytime it falls off.  I like it, but it's not a huge gain, and will probably end up fairly low on my list of items to replace.


Drape of the Violet Tower
Stats: 177 armor, 69 Stamina, 69 Intellect, Blue socket, 52 crit, 30 mp5, 97 sp.
Cost: 50 Emblem of Frost

Volde's Cloak of the Night Sky
Stats: 177 armor, 69 Stamina, 69 Intellect, 60 Spirit, Yellow socket, 52 crit, 97 sp.
Cost: 50 Emblem of Frost

So here we have the choice between a Blue socket and 30 mp5 vs. a Yellow socket and 60 spirit.  I'm a tree, I like me some Spirit, and it allows me to get some haste out of the deal.  I'll take the second.

There are no rings or neck items available for Emblems of Frost, although for rings the Band of the Invoker and Heartmender's Circle and for Amulets the Evoker's Charm and Frozen Tear of Elune are worth mentioning from Triumph Emblems.  (For that matter, I completely brain farted in the Bear accessories - Clutch of Fortification is da bomb, and Shard of the Crystal Heart ain't bad either, not to mention the AWESOME Glyph of Indomitability, all available via Emblems of Triumph.)  Personally, I'd rather have the Spirit items than the mp5 ones, but I don't think any of them are outright bad choices.

One final random note... if you get this far please let me know if the WoWHead popup tooltips are working... they should be, now (*GASP!*)

Hope you found this worthwhile and enjoyable!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Icecrown Ramblings, Part 2

So there's been a little hubbub lately (at least over at I Sheep Things..., I thought there were others but my brain fails me at the most inopportune times) over how to go after the escape from the Lich King encounter in Halls of Reflection.  I thought I'd throw my $.02 into the ring on this little thing.

For those that didn't just go read the post I linked, or have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll explain.  Everybody else can skip the next paragraph (or two).

In this, the last encounter of the three Icecrown Citadel 5-man instances, you come upon Jaina Proudmoore fighting (and losing) to Arthas.  She freezes him temporarily, then you, your crew, and Jaina must escape from him before he catches you and turns you into some mindless slavering undead minion to go out and make more mindless slavering undead minions.  As you run away, Arthas throws up ice walls and summons bad guys to kill you, and you must beat them as Jaina breaks down the walls - which she does, conveniently, just as you beat each wave.

What Rhii refers to as an exploit and I will refer to simply as the cheesy way to do things is that you can apparently run off to the side after you start the encounter, let Arthas meander his way past, and fight the bad guys without him sneaking up behind you.

In case you didn't get the idea from that last paragraph, I think this is just silly.  Let me explain.  Please take my comments with a grain of salt - I've not experimented with this, but I'll make some assumptions (yes I know) about what goes on from what I've read.

First, although this was initially not the case, there is no advantage time-wise to running the encounter this way - you still have a limited amount of time to beat each wave or Arthas catches Jaina and you all die.  So advantage: push.

Second, although reports differ on how the adds spawn when you are following Arthas instead of leading him, there's at least a chance that the adds spawn in the middle of your party.  In case you have your head under a rock, that's a nightmare for a tank.  When leading, the adds spawn by Arthas, and while the ghouls jump a long distance and land in a semi-random pattern, you can see them coming and prepare, and the other adds run in - giving the tank a point of contact to gather them up.  While this might mean that the DPS has to wait half a second to go crazy on them, it also reduces the chance of random spawn on healer causing wipes.  Advantage: non-cheesy way.

Third, the most common reason I hear folks say for doing it the cheesy way is that it's easier.  I can't make a definitive personal comparison because I've never run it the cheesy way, but I can say this: I have never failed at the encounter, and have been part of more than one group that has completed the encounter in time to get the Achievement.  The encounter is far easier, IMHO, than the first encounter of the instance in which you face waves of undead that hit harder and have a more difficult approach in which to gather them up from.  If you can get TO that encounter, there's no reason you need to try to use a poor choice in the design of the encounter to try to make it easier, because it's not that incredibly hard to begin with.

I guess I could have summed this all up by saying:  I don't think there's any reason to do it that way.

Personally, since I'm the tank 95% of the time, I just run on ahead and if the rest of the group wants to try to follow him without a tank, I'll let them.  I suppose I could do the same thing as the healer, although that seems slightly more suicidal.  In either case, I have yet to have anybody choose to do so.

If anybody comes along and disagrees, please feel free to share your reasons in the comments.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Icecrown Ramblings, Part 1

Illorien, Rena, and I took a 10-man crew back into ICC Wednesday night with hopes of getting through the lower spire in its entirety for the first time.  We've managed to have the same core group for each of our runs, with the last 2-3 slots a bit of a swinging door amongst our guildmates, and for reference, this is the crew we were running with Wednesday:

Tanks (2)
Myself and Illorien (DK)

Heals (3)
Rena and Dendorian (Both Holy Paladins) and Recom (Tree)

DPS (5)
One each Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Warlock, and Elemental Shaman.

We still semi-wiped a couple times on the trash leading up to Marrowgar - those Deathbound Wards are brutal when they spawn in the middle of trying to clear other trash.  We made it through to him in under an hour, though and two-shotted him.  It probably would have been a 1-shot but one of our healers got hugged by him during 2 bone storms in a row, getting backed into a corner and simultaneously cold-flamed and whirlwinded.

We pushed through to Deathwhisper, and 2-shotted her as well.  We've gotten our add strategy down to a science, left our Shaman on the boss full-time, and had no issues whatsoever with the add part of the fight.  Our wipe occurred because we didn't really understand about the random ghosts that spawn and target a raid member - personally I'd never noticed them before, probably because we had to move her enough due to her death and decay that they never really did anything to our melee.  This run, however, one decided to spawn in hugging our tree, followed by one hugging Illorien.  The second run we avoided that and downed her easily.

Although I didn't talk about it much, last week we made it to the Gunship Battle but had issues with it, which was strange because we had 1-shotted it the first time.  I went into a bit more explanation of the fight this time, had a little better strategy, and also had a better plan for holding the adds on our boat.  There was no issue at all this time and the Skybreaker had nearly 250k hp left when Orgrim's Hammer fell from the sky.

To go into a little more detail, previously we had both cannons focusing on the rocketeers in the back of the Hammer, and had not asked our ranged DPS to try to kill the axe throwers.  This was a mistake - the axe throwers get more powerful over time if they aren't killed - so this time we put our Warlock and Mage in the cannons, and had the one on the left, with the clear view of the back of the boat, target the rocketeers, while the other cannon focused on killing the axe throwers.  Our healers and ranged stayed near the front edge of the boat, and our raiding party consisted of Illorien and Rena, the Shaman and the Hunter.

We cleared that with enough time for four or five shots at Deathbringer Saurfang, and while we had seen the fight once before, we had only really had time for one shot and hadn't learned much from it.

So I explained the fight again and had everyone spread out.  Illorien, Chelm, and I were of course on the boss, and from my left to right we had the Mage, Paladin, Warlock, Tree, Shaman, Paladin, Hunter.  I'm not sure about that spread, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, and put everybody in range of at least 2 Healers.

After a wipe or two we had the tree stay in caster form and try to help with DPS and CC, and we seemed to do okay with that.  Our best effort had him down to nearly 2.5M (or roughly 25%) before he enraged, and he got off at least 2 Mark of the Fallen Champion each time.  I've had folks suggest we try to 1-heal it.  I'm not sure if that's the best idea but it's something we may explore in the future.

I'm still running through the fight in my head, trying to determine where we need to shift our strategy or work on execution, because he was still getting blood power too quickly, although we've gotten pretty good at controlling the blood beasts.

We may try to get together again on the weekend and give it another shot.

I had intended to chat about Halls of Reflection, but this developed into enough of a post on its own so I'll touch on this later.  I hope you enjoyed, and I'll see you on the flip side!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dungeon Walkthroughs

I've mentioned Icedragon over at Druid Main before...

I wanted to point out that she's been working on walkthroughs of Northrend Dungeons, completing guides on Oculus, Azjol-Nerub, and the Nexus so far, and she's been doing a wonderful job!  For any newer players especially, go take a look!

Tomorrow I'll yak a bit about our latest foray into the Lich King's lair and maybe touch on doing Halls of Reflection the right way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The big 5-0.

ABITT (nice acronym for not trying for one, eh?) has reached 50 posts today.

For all of you that have found your way over here and took the time to read some of the random thoughts that leaked out of my brain and into this little electronic medium, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoying my little ramblings for as long as I continue writing them!

Perhaps I will even work on my profile some, or add *gasp* pictures!

Friday, January 15, 2010


So I've bought some Heirloom gear and been working on my getting my highest level alt to somewhere near respectability lately.

The difference in levelling speed is ridiculous.

Now, I haven't been levelling by using the LFD tool - I'm a little leery of trying to do so at this point - but as I get going I just might start doing so.

But Alrom is my level 69 Paladin (at least for today!) and I've been coming up as a Retribution spec.  Fairly soon, though, I'll be faced with a decision...

What do I want to do in the end game, with my first alt?

Do I want to stick with the Tank and Heals method of my main?  Or do I want to have a DPS or PvP spec to play with?

So I pose this question to any readers that wind their way over here.  What do you do with your alts?  Do you try different roles, do you play the PvP or PvE game that you don't on your main?  Or do you stick with your favorites and play the same game?

Personally I suspect I'll keep Ret as my main spec and Prot or Holy as off.  But that's just me and it's a little selfish reasons why - I like tanking and healing and I also like short LFD queue times...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tier 10 and the Tree

I'm going to try to mirror my post on Emblems and Bears with one about Emblems and Trees! The same restrictions apply, and if you need it there's an abbreviation glossary of sorts at the bottom.  Here's the restrictions disclaimer, quoted from the other post:

I'll be comparing this gear to the Tier 9 level gear as well as trying to decide what's the best value - the most bang for your Emblem buck, if you will.  Of course, this will depend on the gear you're currently wearing.  If I say a particular piece is the best upgrade, but you're wearing an item from ToGC in that slot and still using blues elsewhere, replace the blues first.

The Tier 9 level I'll be using is the base level - for those of us that did some 25-man ToC (or heroic ToC at all) and may have picked up trophies or heroic versions of gear, remember that your mileage will vary, because your Tier 9 gear is a little better than what I'm putting forth here.  Also note that I'm not examining accessories (back, neck, rings, and trinkets) yet.  If I can work up the courage I might tackle that later.


Tier 9: Malfurion's Headpiece of Conquest
Stats: 485 a, 92 Sta, 92 Int, 64 Sp, M/B sockets, 72 crit, 113 SP
Cost: 50 Emblem of Triumph

Triumph Emblems: Helm of Abundant Growth
Stats: 506 a, 103 Sta, 103 Int, 82 Sp, M/Y sockets, 74 haste, 131 SP
Cost: 75 Emblem of Triumph

Tier 10: Lasherweave Helmet
Stats: 517 a, 109 Sta, 109 Int, 88 Sp, M/R sockets, 80 crit, 140 SP
Cost: 95 Emblem of Frost

Frost Emblems: None available

Here we go again!  Similar to what I pointed out for Bears, items available via Emblems of Triumph, at least, tend to be better than the lowest-level Tier items (the ones being considered here!) without considering the set bonus.  I tend to think the Restoration set bonuses are in general fairly strong *but* I tend to focus more on primary stats in my analysis.  Keep that in mind!

So, for the things that we care most about here, you're looking at a difference of 9-16 Int, 18-24 Spirit, 18-27 spell power, plus your choice of socket and haste vs. crit.  (Or if you look at it a little differently and use the T10 as the target if you will, with the other two items as starting points, 7 to 16 Int, 6 to 24 Spirit, and 9 to 27 spell power... depends on how you look at it!)  With what I've been reading lately about the benefits of haste, I might try to stay with the Helm of Abundant Growth for awhile and make this one of my later upgrades, but we'll have to see how the other stats pan out versus later upgrades; 95 Frost Emblems is a LOT.  For the record I prefer red sockets over any other - spell power being king of all things spellish - but I don't have much of a preference for blue or yellow over each other.  Then again, if what I've read about haste is to be believed, maybe I should be looking to yellow gems...


Tier 9: Malfurion's Spaulders of Conquest
Stats: 447 a, 68 Sta, 68 Int, 52 Sp, B socket, 60 haste, 96 SP
Cost: 30 Emblem of Triumph

Triumph Emblems: Shoulders of the Fateful Accord
Stats: 467 a, 77 Sta, 77 Int, 67 Sp, Y socket, 59 crit, 109 SP
Cost: 45 Emblem of Triumph

Tier 10: Lasherweave Pauldrons
Stats: 477 a, 81 Sta, 81 Int, 71 Sp, R socket, 63 crit, 116 SP
Cost: 60 Emblem of Frost

Frost Emblems: None available

We have a fairly similar stat progression on our shoulders, including choice of socket, but instead of having the choice of haste or crit, it's a straight move from haste to crit or stay at crit.  9-13 (4-13?) Int and 15-19 (4-19?) Spirit isn't incredibly compelling, although 13-20 (7-20?) spell power is a better deal at 60 Frost Emblems than the previous item at 95.  I think for now, I put this item *slightly* ahead of the head, especially if you already have the Shoulders of the Fateful Accord, as you're not losing haste coming from that item (unless of course you've gemmed for it.)


Tier 9: Malfurion's Robe of Conquest
Stats: 596 a, 92 Sta, 92 Int, 72 Sp, R/Y sockets, 72 Crit, 122 SP
Cost: 50 Emblem of Triumph

Triumph Emblems: None available

Tier 10: Lasherweave Robes
Stats: 636 a, 109 Sta, 109 Int, 96 Sp, R/Y sockets, 80 crit, 149 SP
Cost: 95 Emblem of Frost

Frost Emblems: Vestments of Spruce and Fir
Stats: 665 a, 123 Sta, 123 Int, 84 Sp, B/Y/R sockets, 108 haste, 162 SP
Cost: 95 Emblem of Frost

Having done the research that I have, I'm struck by the eerie similarity between my thoughts on Tier gear for bears and trees.  Perhaps it was Blizzard's itemization decisions this time around, but just the same as for my bear set, I want to get the four piece bonus for my tree gear, and the chest is *probably* the piece I'm going to leave out.

For the same cost, you get 14 more Sta and Int, and if you count +20 Spirit for the blue socket (leaving the same remaining sockets), you also get +8 Spirit, not to mention the 13 spell power.  Considering that the lesser of these upgrades was already a 17 point, 24 point, and 27 point upgrade (looking at Int, Spirit, and SP), that's huge.  In addition, it gets you haste, which I think you want over crit.  Sound familiar?  This takes the cake, I think, over either other piece for my first tree target.


There is a wrist item available for Emblems of Valor, or the PvP Titan-Forged Armwraps of Salvation from Wintergrasp... but nothing for the Emblems we're covering, and those PvP wraps aren't all that helpful.


Tier 9: Malfurion's Handguards of Conquest
Stats: 373 a, 68 Sta, 68 Int, 60 Sp, R socket, 52 crit, 96 SP
Cost: 30 Emblem of Triumph

Triumph Emblems: None available

Tier 10: Lasherweave Gauntlets
Stats: 398 a, 81 Sta, 81 Int, 71 Sp, R socket, 63 haste, 116 SP
Cost: 60 Emblem of Frost

Frost Emblems: Gloves of the Great Horned Owl
Stats: 416 a, 92 Sta, 92 Int, B socket, 80 crit, 72 haste, 132 SP
Cost: 60 Emblem of Frost

The Gloves are indeed a straight upgrade from the Lasherweave Gauntlets for the same cost, but I want that 4-piece Tier bonus and unlike the chest upgrade, this one doesn't offer you something you want more for the cost of moving away from the Tier pieces.  Instead, it takes a red socket and replaces it with a blue one.  Unless by some chance I end up with the chest piece (VoA new boss drop?), I'm going to stick with the Lasherweave Gauntlets and leave the Great Horned Owl on the shelf.

As for the order in which to purchase... 13 Int, 11 Spirit, and 20 SP place it firmly in the middle of the Shoulder and Head class.  Much like the shoulders, depending on what has happened with the head I'll probably take this ahead of it, to keep the haste bonus longer, because the difference in stats to Emblem cost just isn't all that different.


There's not much available here.  Belt of Petrified Ivy doesn't really look all that great to me due to its lack of Spirit, but otherwise it does have a significant amount of haste and spell power, which is good.  Belt of the Living Thicket for Conquest Emblems or Furious Gladiator's Belt of Salvation from PvP might be better (or at least not worse) options.  Personally, I'm probably going to be holding out for a boss drop as none of these really strike me as must-have... unless I really have emblems to spend, then I might give the Ivy a shot.  That'll be quite awhile, though, as I have a lot of gear ahead of it.


Tier 9: Malfurion's Leggings of Conquest
Stats: 522 a, 92 Sta, 92 Int, 72 Sp, R/B sockets, 72 haste, 122 SP
Cost: 50 Emblem of Triumph

Triumph Emblems: None available.

Tier 10: Lasherweave Legplates
Stats: 577 a, 109 Sta, 109 Int, 96 Sp, R/Y sockets 78 haste, 149 SP
Cost: 95 Emblem of Frost

Frost Emblems: None available.

I like this upgrade, it's solid, but it just doesn't offer the same level of bonuses as the chest piece does for the same cost, so it doesn't get placed ahead of it in line.  17 Int, 24 Spirit, and 27 SP do make it a little more attractive than the head, shoulders, or hands, although not by much.  It probably gets put second in line.


There are no items available for Emblems for feet.  There's the crafted Blessed Cenarion Boots, but that's about it other than boss loot.

I did it!  I did it!

*looks up*

... and the sky didn't fall after all.  Imagine that!

As I finish up this part of my venture, there's something I'd like to mention.  I've seen a couple of other blogs post lists for whom the priorities on items differ vastly from mine...  And wonderful Meka commented to such an effect on the bear gear post.

They're not wrong. The key is always that the "best" upgrade is not necessarily the one with the best stats, it's the one for which you gain the most benefit.  I'm examining primarily what gets you the most base stats per Emblem spent and the most base stats per single upgrade, because this is how I want to spend my Emblems and is what I think is the best way to go about things.  If you think it's more important to stay haste or expertise capped, then it drastically changes the priority in which you purchase items!  I really hope you've enjoyed my comments and I hope you found some value to my (less than scientific) analysis, but I encourage you to take it into consideration and make your own decisions!  I'm just somebody who rambled on those newfangled blog-thingies!

Abbreviation Glossary:

a: Armor
SP: Spell Power

Stat Abbreviations:
Sta: Stamina
Int: Intellect
Sp: Spirit

Socket Abbreviations:
B: Blue
M: Meta
R: Red
Y: Yellow

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ever Onward

I'm putting the finishing touches on my Tier 10 examination of tree gear today.  It'll go up tomorrow morning.

This counts for getting it done on Tuesday, so you don't get to feather me and call me a boomkin.

For the first time I've really had a few subpar experiences in random groups, but I wanted to call attention to something else.

I was tanking a random Gun'drak the other day, when I got in they had already downed the snake boss and had apparently lost their tank.  I really have no idea why, although when I glanced at GearScore I suspected it was somebody who wasn't willing to be patient with alts or new 80's, since most of the crew was relatively low.

We proceeded through the trash to the Colossus.  Having noticed a few things about the play of a couple of the DPS, and in an effort not to call anyone in particular out, I asked in party chat (perhaps not quite verbatim, but close enough)...

"Please don't take this the wrong way, but has everybody been in here and know the boss fights?"

I received three variations of "yup" in reply, and one "Staring over here at the lady all in blues and greens I see..." followed by the confirmation that no, she hadn't been in here before.  I was surprised because I actually thought at least one other of the DPS on the run would say that.  Perhaps it was an alt.

In any case, I said it wasn't a problem and proceeded to tell her the key to the Colossus fight (which isn't really key anymore, if you have a relatively normally geared healer): Stay out of the purple stuff.  We proceeded to smash face and move on.

The lady in question commented something to the effect of "Wow, a nice person.  So refreshing!"

We moved through the rest of the instance and although it went a little slow, we cleared it without an issue.  I took the time to try to explain at least the necessary details of each fight (and a little more with Eck - I tried to get her puked on for her achievement but it didn't work), and we had no problems at all.

I was struck, though, by the fact that she hadn't wanted to admit she hadn't been there, essentially for fear of arseholes, and the fact that she was that incredibly surprised by the fact that there are regular, nice people out there.

A lot of folks talk about the general lack of good behavior amongst players in WoW.  I hope that what I did as a general course of being a decent human being inspires some kindness in others, and while I know that all the bad behavior and the disillusionment associated with it is a symptom of greater societal issues, I also hope that we can one day reach a point where it's no longer an issue.

Perhaps I'm just being idealistic.

Hope everyone's doing great with the new year and see you on the flip side!  Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Guns of Icecrown Citadel

Illorien, Renakashin, and I finally managed to get another scheduled guild run into ICC 10-man Wednesday night.

This is just our second outing as a group.  One of our guild officers was running a second 10-man group in parallel that night as well.  Epic Adventurers had not, as of the beginning of these groups, downed any boss in ICC except for Marrowgar, and the group the three of us were leading had not even done that.

Wednesday was a day for progressing!

We had a bit of a time sorting out players for each group and a lot of turnover at the last two DPS spots in our run, but we ended up with this group dynamic:

Illorien and Myself

Renakashin, another Holy Paladin, and a Resto Druid

Hunter, Warrior, Mage, Warlock, Ret Pally

So a bit late we started in.  My last post on ICC10 detailed our troubles with regards to the trash leading up to Marrowgar.  Tonight there was no such trouble.  We managed to lose a player or two to lacking of target marking and not being quick enough on taunts of the trap-spawned saber-lashing Deathbound Wards, but no wipes and we were shortly facing down the monstrosity that is Lord Marrowgar.

Lord Marrowgar!

We originally stayed with the strategy we had tried (and been getting better with) on our last run - tanking Marrowgar in the middle, spreading out the DPS and trying to contain the insanity.  Our first attempt was going fairly well until I crashed and had to reboot.  I didn't see what happened while my computer was starting up again, but I can't imagine it was pretty.

When I got back in it was suggested that we tank him off to the side of the room instead of the middle.  Something about him only being able to use his fire in the same general direction or something - being a tank, I'm in front of him and I can't tell you what it looks like from the other side, but somebody felt this would help with being able to avoid the fire (or possibly bring everybody closer together for killing bone prisons.)  It was also noted that he seemed to like to be in one corner or the other at the end of his whirlwind, which would mean less moving him and the raid having to avoid it.

It was an excellent suggestion, and our second attempt was flawless.  Illorien and I occasionally had to switch sides of the room - he really did end his whirlwind in one end of the room or the other basically every time - but with Feral Charge I was able to close the distance quickly, and Illorien was quick enough to stay more or less with me.  Our DPS worked well at breaking prisons and getting back on the boss, and he went down without a single player death.  Progress for our crew and Frost Emblems for the win!

The trash before Lady Deathwhisper didn't provide anywhere near the challenge that the trash before Marrowgar did our first time in.  Then again, if we'd known anything about the Deathbound Wards the first time in, we wouldn't have had nearly the issues we did.  In any case, it was a simple matter to pull a small group at a time and down them healers, casters and melee.  The two big spider-looking guys are a minor pain, but they went down without causing us any issues.

Lady Deathwhisper!

For anybody that hasn't done this fight (and if you've found your way here, you probably have!), it's not an exceptionally difficult fight, if you have reasonable DPS and good coordination.  Simply put, you have to maintain enough DPS on Deathwhisper's shield to kill her before she enrages while still having enough of the right kinds of DPS to take out the adds in each wave before a new wave spawns.

We tried a couple of different plans, but the one that worked for us was this:  We put the ret Pally on Deathwhisper full time.  The Warrior and Hunter were targeting the Adherents, while the Warlock and Mage targeted the Fanatics.  Once all of any group were down, the ranged DPS switched to Deathwhisper until the new group of adds spawned.  We had the Pally and the Warrior switched at first, it took folks awhile to figure out exactly what was needed on the adds, and Ill and I found out we needed to mark targets for DPS to focus on when there were multiple targets for physical/magical DPS.

While Ill and I had to tank the Fanatics, our damage was focused on the Adherents, since that's where we were limited less.  I did discover fairly soon, though, that I had one single ability that could do more than 100 damage to the Fanatics:  GO GO FERAL FAERIE FIRE.  Yeah, I know, 1000 damage every 6 seconds or so isn't much, but it helps, dangit!  One of our attempts ended up doomed when we lost both our Mage and our Warlock with multiple Fanatics up.  Let me tell you how much you're not going to be able to kill them without magical damage.

I think Illorien and I failed a little in our explanation of the fight - our successful run had more than once in which the adds went down with 15+ seconds to spare before the next group spawned.  I can only surmise that we had DPS switching to the wrong adds because we were calling out to focus fire on an Empowered Adherent or Deformed Fanatic, and we hadn't clearly laid out that you need to stay on the correct type of add because you can't really help with the others.

On what was to be our last attempt of the night because of time, we broke through her shield with all adds down and just under 3 minutes left on her enrage timer.  The nice thing about this point in the fight is that it takes a ton less time to take her down than it does to take her shield down.  It took us less than 2 minutes to bring her down after her shield fell.  On a high from a successful fight, we decided to press on and try the Gunship Battle.

The trash in between is PVP-ish except for the frost drake.  None of it caused us much issue, though.  Unlike the Faction Champions fight in ToC, these aren't true PVP-like mobs, and they go down a LOT easier.  The drake's a chump, too, and easy to kill.

The Gunship Battle!

It took awhile to explain this fight because most of our raid hadn't been here before.  There's a lot of random stuff to talk about, but here's the gist of what we did.

Our raiding party to the other boat consisted of Illorien, Renakashin, the Warlock, and the Warrior.  Our guns were manned by the Hunter and the ret Pally.  Everything was going well up until the end of our first raiding party trip across to the other side.  Rena had issues getting back across and died.  Fortunately, she was close enough to the edge that our tree was able to Rebirth from our boat, and before long we were up and going again.  Our Warlock went down, then our Mage.  I tried to Rebirth the Mage but a portal opened up and he got one-shotted by the mob that appeared on top of him.

We added our hunter to the raiding party going across.  Somehow, through all this craziness, we managed to stay ahead of the Horde.  When we lost our ret Pally shortly before the end of a raid to the other boat, some folks were ready to wipe - but we were close enough to the end that Illorien hopped in the cannon in his place, and before another battle mage came out, Orgrim's Hammer fell from the skies.

With no more trash and still on the high of success, we put off sleep for just a little longer to give a shot at Deathbringer Saurfang.

Deathbringer Saurfang!

I probably didn't do a good job of explaining this fight - I know I failed to mention why I was spreading everybody out as much as I was.  We failed, but with it already being late and in a one-more-shot mode for the last 2 encounters we decided to call it for the night.  The deathblow was 2 of our healers going down.  I think we gave up a little too much blood power before that happened anyway - I was off on my taunt from Ill, among other things - although we did burn down the blood beasts relatively quickly.  I'm positive our next run will be even more successful.

EA's other group had also reached Saurfang by the time we ended.  As of the time of writing of this post I do not know if they were successful or not.  In either case, our guild made a huge step in progression through the Citadel.

Thanks for joining me on this little detour!  I know we may be a little behind the curve, as new content dropped this week and we haven't quite cleared the old content yet, but this was a big success for us and we look forward to more consistent success in the future.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to Make Friends.... or Something Like That

Sorry, the tree post is still coming, but it'll have to wait.  I'm busy, and want to put a positive note out today.

I had one of my best cross-server pugs the other day, and I felt it deserved mention.

We pulled Nexus, and I casually glanced at folk's gear scores before we started.  3 of the 5 were 5k+, and the other two didn't miss it by much.  I figured this would be a clean, easy run.  We feasted and buffed and off we went!

Little did I know how clean and easy.  17 minutes later, a scant 2 minutes after the LFG buff wore off, Keristraza collapsed.

I picked up Split Personality on Grand Magus.  She was down nearly 60% before her first and only split.

For the first time in my WoW experience, I really did chain-pull most of the instance, pulling each group before we were finished with the last.  Nobody really had any issue with it.  My pally healer did almost as much damage as she did heals outside of boss fights.

I was impressed.  It's times like this that I wish Blizzard had implemented an addendum to their cross-server ignore feature, that would give you a preference for people in cross-server groups.  I think that would be fun, and allow more interaction and relationship-building than the current system, perhaps even sister guilds on other servers.

Also, I keep growing gradually closer to my Glory of the Hero proto-drake.  I think I'm going to make a serious push to get it in the next month or so.

Hope folks had a happy holiday season!  Back to the grindstone.

Life's Little Joys

The tree post is coming.

When I have time to write it.

Rawr @ busy-ness.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Frost Emblem Accessories


I've changed my mind a bit about the importance of the Corroded Skeleton Key.  Please see this post for details.


As a followup to Tier 10 and the Bear, I'd like to take a quick look at what is available from an Accessories standpoint for bears.  There's not a lot so this should go quick!


Corroded Skeleton Key
Stats: +228 Sta, Use: Absorbs 3200 damage, lasts 20 sec.
Cost: 60 Emblem of Frost

Great trinket, gives a purchasable upgrade from the Coren Direbrew stamina trinkets.  Meh-inducing use ability, but better again that the Direbrew ones.  Will purchase sometime in the middle of my planned leather item upgrades.  The issue at hand is that the only significant increase is in stamina, which will only help in that it will let me back off some of my two-color gems to single color because I won't need the stamina bump as much.

None of the other trinkets are worth talking about.


Idol of the Crying Moon
Stats:  Periodic damage from Rake or Lacerate causes you to gain 44 Agi for 15 seconds.  Stacks 5 times.
Cost: 30 Emblem of Frost

I like this item a LOT.  I'll take 220 Agi over the 135 from Idol of the Corruptor or 200 dodge rating from the Idol of Mutilation any day.  I'm probably going to insert the combination of this and the trinket (90 badges) at the top of my list, ahead of my leather items, as the next leather item on my list is 95 badges.


There are a few options here which seem promising, but probably only one we want.  Each of them costs 50 Emblem of Frost.  Here they are:

Might of the Ocean Serpent
Stats: 177 a, 95 Str, 103 Sta, Y socket, 45 exp, 65 ArP

Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape
Stats: 177 a, 90 Agi, 90 Sta, B socket, 60 crit, 105 AP, 52 ArP

Sentinel's Winter Cloak
Stats: 737 a, 90 Str, 124 Sta, Y socket, 48 def, 48 dodge

At first, I thought this was a slam dunk, but on second thought I'm not quite as certain.  I like the Might's expertise, but it is otherwise inferior to the Cloak.  We'll rule that out.  The Cloak nets you 139 Sta (assuming 15 from a 2-color gem), while the Cape nets you only 120 (assuming 30 from the socket).  I like the dodge rating, but 90 Agi will net you more dodge than that 48 dodge rating.  560 more armor is nice, but it's not affected by our multiplier.  I don't think either one is a bad choice, but I think I may be going for the Cape rather than the Cloak.

There are no rings or neck items available via Frost Emblems.  Given my current items, the cloak will probably come after I've manage to upgrade most of my leather items.

The tree post is coming soon!

Abbreviations Glossary:

a: armor
AP: Attack Power
ArP: Armor Penetration
exp: expertise

Stat Abbreviations:
Agi: Agility
Sta: Stamina
Str: Strength

Socket Abbreviations:
B: Blue
M: Meta
R: Red
Y: Yellow

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hug your bear.

That is all.