Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do Blog Posts Have Expiration Dates?

I was skimming over some of my old posts and realized how out of date the information in them is, even though it was written within the expansion that's about to end.  Part of it is due to changes during the expansion, part of it is due to my growth and experience as a player, and part of it is due to changes in the itemization of gear.  At the least, my spec has changed a bit because of changes to Mangle and I have a different opinion about a few spec choices than I did before, even if I haven't yet spent the gold to change them, but since the blog is not simultaneously both clairvoyant and auto-updating, well, this info hasn't made it into written word yet.

On a completely unrelated note, a clairvoyant, auto-updating blog would be simultaneously awesome and horrendous.  It would certainly cut down on writing time, but some thoughts should never be let out of the cage.

But, with the imminent Cataclysm, I think I'm going to wait until then to completely rework any guides.  It seems kind of pointless, so the only *current* info I'll still be putting up has to do with raiding until Cata comes and I get the chance to play with the new toys.

I hope my guides, even though out of date, will still serve some use to folks.  As such they'll be kept up but marked to indicate that they've passed their expiration date.

While I think reworking them would be great, I'm not sure how quickly I'll be able to write out that type of guide, especially with five levels to gain before I have access to everything.

With all that said, there are a LOT of changes coming, and I felt it would be a good time to build everything from the base up.  I think it will be good for both new players and old to reexamine what we know about how to play a Druid.  In accordance with this goal, I'll be stepping through key abilities new and old to talk about what they do, how they work, how they're useful to us, and what do we need to consider about WHEN to use them.  Since it's getting one of the biggest overhauls, I'll start with Maul and move on from there.

At the moment, I plan on focusing on Feral abilities.  Resto doesn't seem to be getting quite as big an overhaul as Feral, and I don't expect to have any practical experience with it any time soon, so I think I'm going to hold off on that for now.

Of course I'll also discuss talent trees and all the choices therein, but those I don't feel like touching until the info is final.

Lastly, it is my sincere hope to find some time before Cataclysm drops to work on the style of the page.  Blogger's template works, it gets the job done, but... it's so bland and basic.  Thus I intend to find the time to work out some changes.  That's kinda low on the totem pole right now though, so don't hold your breath.

Monday, September 27, 2010

On Babies and Crying

Days like today are what I expected when I first learned I would be a father.  The upside is that they've happened FAR less often than I expected, and I'm so very glad for that.

The suckiest thing I've had to deal with so far about having a baby is that when there's something wrong they can't tell you what it is, because they only have about four or five responses to stimuli, and really only varying degrees of one response to negative stimuli.

When they're happy they'll smile and laugh and play with things.  When they're content they'll be calm and look around and observe things.  When they're tired they'll rub their eyes.

But when they cry, sometimes there's not much you can do to figure out what's wrong, because they cry whenever anything is wrong, and my baby is no different.

When she's too tired and fighting sleep, she cries.  When she's hungry, she cries.  When she's constipated or gassy, she cries.  When she gets her foot caught in the rails of her crib, she cries.  When she has a headache, she cries.  When she has an ear infection, she cries.  When she has a fever, she cries.  When her gums or teeth hurt because she's teething, she cries.

Sure, some of those we can usually figure out - we can check her temperature, we know when she's being fed an how much, we can watch her on the monitor and see that she's in the middle of her crib.  But at her age, since she's started teething, it's kind of a roll of the dice trying to figure out what is causing her to fuss if we've ruled out the obvious.

Getting back to today... I had about 3-4 hours of sleep last night.  The largest uninterrupted period was around two to two and a half hours.  She woke up and fussed and fussed for about an hour until we got her settled enough to go back to sleep, then she slept for that two-ish hours and woke up again and refused to go back to sleep without laying on Mom or Dad's chest to prop her up a little bit.

All because of a little ear infection.

So I'm at work for the afternoon, but I'm only tackling easy stuff because I can barely concentrate enough to do anything worthwhile.  This post is about the most coherent thing I can muster.

Thankfully, she usually sleeps through the night and this is only the second time she's been sick.  I can count on one hand the number of times since she turned 6 weeks old she's not slept through the night.  But that doesn't help me feel any better today.

To all the parents out there who love and care for their children, I salute you for your effort and hope that the days like today has been for me are few and far between for you...

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Lich King

... Also known as Prince Arthas Menethil.

Our first attempts came this week, and our progress was up and down, to say the least.  The good news is that we got through the first phase and transition, and got to see the defiles and val'kyr a few times.  The bad news is that we did not continually progress, and of our ~10 attempts the 4th or 5th was our best attempt.

The only oddity in our strategy was that I stayed in my bear spec and gear, to be able to have a 3rd tank available for certain parts of the fight.  Most notably, it allows us to have 2 tanks available to handle raging spirits during the transition back to fighting the Lich King, allowing our MT to focus solely on getting back to the right spot with Arthas rather than having to worry about a Raging Spirit at the same time.

Although I'm not 100% certain it's necessary and I suspect we will not use that angle when we make our successful run, I do think it is extremely helpful while we are learning the fight, because it slightly increases our success rate in that transition.  The downside is that it cripples my DPS during the portions that I'm trying to cat form, with me beating out only the tanks at that point.

We had a LOT of trouble, the times we got to see defiles and Val'kyr, with both proper handling of defiles AND DPS getting the Val'kyr down.  Unfortunately we only got to see that a time or two.  We had some odd wipes in the first phase and during transition and although we were getting better again at the end we had lost our momentum and then ran out of time.

We are resetting next week, to allow, especially for our less-well-geared members, a chance at some more gear and a heaping load of badges, as well as getting us 8 more Sanctification tokens.

I should probably write something other than our raid updates eh?

What can I say it's a convenient topic.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Internet Dragons

EA is killing those internet dragons!

It took us most of the night and 4 wipes (a couple to frustrating lack-of-movement mistakes), but we had good DPS all around and killed Sindragosa dead with time to spare on the last run.

We tanked her turned to the right as you face from the door out to her ledge.  Run to the stairs when she pulls you in, run to the stairs when she starts her air phase.  The five marked players spread out along the bottom step just far enough not to take too much damage from the ice tombs coming down.  DPS the tombs at the proper speed so that they come down just after the last ice bomb from her.  Stop DPS after 4 or 5 stacks of Chilled to the Bone and let it fall off.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Move to Phase 2.

That part we had pretty well down, except for one frustrating oops during the ice tombs that entombed nearly half the raid.

We struggled mostly, on 3 of our 4 wipes, with not losing players during the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2.  But once we figured it out we were fine.  Start by the back leg.  Person with mark move to the front and get ice blocked, THEN everybody follow.  Get behind, drop Mystic Buffet and DPS the tomb, then back on Sindy near the front leg.  Marked player run to the back leg and get tombed.  Everybody except half the melee DPS (we only had 5, so it was easy) run to the tomb, drop stacks, and kill the tomb.  Player with mark run to the front, get tombed, and everybody except the OTHER half the melee DPS do the tomb thing again.  Wash, rinse, repeat. 

Even on the winning run we had a couple of mistakes - one of our ice tombs ended up behind her tail and left for dead, and we'd lost enough folks by the end that our marked players were just instructed to get the heck away from everybody else before getting tombed, and left in the tombs to die.  But in the end it was another victory for EA, another step to finishing ICC before the Cataclysm reshapes WoW.

On to other news...

Although I don't heal at the moment I've kept up with tree-like Druid news.  I hate the current implementation in beta of Tree of Life, but I don't think I'm alone in that.  What I actually wanted to mention was about the Restoration Mastery.

In it's original incarnation, the Restoration Mastery provided extra healing to your HoT spells if they had lower HP *when the HoT was cast*.  This caused quite a stir in the resto community, as well it should have - it's exquisitely terribad.  When the proverbial fecal matter hits the proverbial air movement device, the last thing we want to be casting on a player is a HoT.  It may be more mana efficient over the length of its application, but it doesn't get the player healed NOW, which is what is needed at that time.  Combine that with Blizzard's push to get us to stop blanketing with HoTs and you have a recipe for disaster.

On a side note, it actually wouldn't have been an awful Mastery if they had allowed it to recalculate for each tick.  I think that would have encouraged thoughtful proactive pre-hotting without giving too much benefit to raid blanketing... but I digress.

The Mastery now provides additional healing to our spells cast on players who already have a HoT ticking on them.  This is most beneficial, IMO, to give us some more oomph as tank healers, as the tanks will *always* have HoTs ticking on them.  It also happens to discourage clipping, which I'll explain in a minute.  What it really allows is for the better healers to cast a Rejuv or other HoT on a target we expect to take damage, then when the damage hits and we need that extra oomph the HoT is already there to boost our heals.  I like it.

About the clipping thing?  Yeah, so if you are healing the tank, and you cast a Rejuv to boost the rest of your heals, and then you start a Lifebloom stack, it becomes important not to clip the Rejuv, since you'll only refresh the original, not recognize that there are already HoTs ticking.  This is true on the rest of the raid, but not quite as important as on the tank.  Once it falls off, you can reapply and get the boost because the Lifebloom is ticking... Which, when you refresh, will still be getting its bonuses.

I haven't seen nearly as detailed information about Feral Masteries, but I really like the fact that (at least at the moment) shifting forms allows us to shift our masteries.  We still can't shift gear, but it should help with those fights were we want/need to be able to do both roles...

As for Arthas... you better bring it, buddy.  Go big or go home.  EA's coming for you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Invading the Dragon's Lair

For the first time on 25-man, Epic Adventurers assaulted Sindragosa in her lair this week.

Although we were ultimately unsuccessful, it was a valiant attempt, and from what I understand we did *very* well for being our first ever 25-man attempt.

In our initial two attempts, we had ice blocked folks spread out across the bottom of the stairs.  We learned fairly quickly that they were too spread out in the positions we had them - it was too difficult for the DPS to get all the ice blocks down quickly enough.  We moved them in a little closer - just barely far enough apart to prevent them from killing each other when the blocks come down - and we were mostly successful at that portion of the fight.  It helped that we had 4-5 druids along (one traded in for a sick hunter in the middle) and 3 shamans, so lots of brezzing.

Other than that, it all essentially came down to execution - don't get too many stacks of damage, kill the ice tombs quickly, and DON'T STAND IN THE RAID when you are targeted for an ice block.  We only wiped once to that - we all had a good laugh, because it was an epic wipe-causing mistake.  Oddly enough, we determined at this point that if everybody outside the ice tombs dies, the boss and tombs despawn and those in the tombs don't die.

We showed good progress the entire night, with the exception of the ice block incident.  By the time we had had enough, we had reached and gotten mostly through the final phase - she had around a million HP left on the last wipe of the night, and the raid leader had called for us to ignore the ice-blocked folks and just burn Sindy as hard as we could.  Unfortunately we'd lost too many to gradual attrition at that point, and couldn't keep enough people alive any longer.

Based on our progress, we've been told we may extend the lockout - little more time for a few more shots and I think she would have gone down, and then we can spend time learning the LK fight.  I'm impressed with our first night in, although I think 3 nights of raiding in a row might just kill me if we have to keep it up more than a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Final Push

.... or the beginning of the end!  Or something like that.

Our guild leader has declared that we are making the final push to kill Arthas on our 25-man raids.  We are ceasing all alt activity on progression raids (we had been allowing alts through the gunship, then through deathwhisper when we began doing heroic lootship), and are scheduling a 3rd night every week in addition to more serious usage of lockouts to extend raids week to week.

With everything we've been hearing about anticipated dates for Cataclysm, it was decided that this is the time to make a serious push to complete the end game raid of Wrath.

On our first night this week we smashed everything we took a shot at, with the exception of one wipe on Blood Council due to failure to avoid AOE around black balls.  Our second night, we have PP, BQL, and Dreamwalker still to go among bosses we have successfully defeated.  We hope to get those three and have a go at Sindragosa on the second night.

I didn't post about it last week, but IMO we took a step back - we had a couple of failures on Dreamwalker and took 7 tries to down BQL.  I'm hoping that the renewed focus on actually progressing will give folks the oomph to have clean attempts on the second night, and get down, for the first time, everything we have already downed, all in one week.

It's time for us to quit goofing around and get it done!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reclaiming Gnomeregan

The quest chain to reclaim Gnomeregan opened up this week...

Does this mean Cataclysm is imminent?

Inquiring minds want to know!

From what I've heard is going on in the beta I would suspect it's still a fair distance out, but the release of this quest chain would indicate it's closer than I had expected.

Need more time to down the Lich King!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Alt Club

Rambly post is rambly, about alts and paladins and tanking and dps and gearscore and another baby and I don't know where I'm going with this but hey it'll be fun.

It seems like everybody in my guild has at least 5 or 6 level 80 alts.  I have 10 characters on Baelgun, but my reduced play time due to marriage and baby has meant that my alt-o-holic ways have been curtailed almost entirely.

Lately, though, since Kaethir has basically reached the point that even frost badges are useful for nothing except primordial saronites for LW patterns, or down-ranking for gems or heirloom gear, I have taken the time to work on my highest alt, Alrom, instead of repeating the same random dungeons with a supremely over-geared tank every morning.  A week or so ago, he finally reached the level 80 plateau, and started the rep/gear/badge/daily grind.  *Dance time*  I have finally joined the Alt Club!

I have made no secret of the fact that one of the things I love most about playing a Druid is the versatility of being able to play whatever role I choose (provided of course that I have the gear, spec, etc. available at the time.  It should be no surprise, then, that my first alt is from the only other class in the game that is capable of all 3 major raid roles, a paladin.  A dwarf, which I suppose is a little odd for most players, but, well, there it is.

Being a fresh level 80 with essentially a few quest blues and greens and 3 pieces of heirloom gear to his name, I have been queuing as ret with him, dealing with the longer queue times in order to be a contributing member of the group rather than a severe liability.  I suffered, the first few days as an 80, from being limited to normal dungeons due to Blizzard's insistence that you have a GS in the 2500-ish range before you get to go into a heroic dungeon.  Once I picked up a couple of decent low-level pieces and bought my first T9 piece, however, the heroic queue opened up for me and off I went!

Melee DPS as a paladin instead of a kitty is a world of difference.  No button-mashing, no energy management, no worrying about clipping a DoT, no worrying about losing a buff or a debuff or any of the other 100 things a kitty has to worry about.  Just hit whichever ability is left-most on my bar and not on cooldown.  If I've managed to flub that up and nothing is off cooldown at the moment, hit Divine Plea.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Watch things die.  It's so easy and smooth it's sickening.  Of course, maybe that's because I'm in a heroic with overgeared players and it doesn't matter that I can't get above 2k DPS yet.  Heck, 1.5k most of the time.

By the way, that notoriously long queue as a DPS?  Meh.  8-10 minutes is the worst I've seen.  That's still forever, compared to sub-30 seconds as a tank, but come on.  Half the time I queue up, take a flight path, do one Tournament Daily, take another flight path and the queue hits before I land.  I suppose in today's 'gogogo' world where 20 seconds is too much time to wait, most people would be upset.  Me?  I'm more than happy, even though I can't tank yet and that's really what I want to do.

I have been working up a prot set and spec in the meantime, and although I'm not there yet being a lot of times the only player in a group that is still actually pulling upgrades from heroics, it is moving quickly.  I need to get Kaethir off his furry rear end long enough to buy and cut a couple of gems for Al, for the pieces that I don't expect to be replaced within a week or so (like that prot t9 piece I bought), and take the energy to find an enchanter to put something, anything, on those pieces I'm bothering with gems for.  I'm not even really close to the 535 defense I'm told I need for heroics, but once I get there, look out, there'll be a fail-pally tank on the loose.

Since I don't want to be a total fail-tank when I do get to delve into heroic tanking, I have been taking some of my questing time to put on all my prot stuff and see how it works.  It's quite painful, in some respects.  Part of a prot pally's mana regen is based on incoming heals - which you don't get running around solo.  I am satisfied with the survivability, but the loss of DPS just makes soloing too slow to be much fun, so I am only going to be soloing as prot to make sure I keep my weapon skills at a reasonable level with whichever weapon is currently my best prot weapon.

Tanking also seems a little more smooth with a paladin to me, but then, I haven't been put in a situation where I really have to use all the paladin's tools yet.  It is a little overwhelming how much is available when things go wrong - hands, seals, hammers, etc. - compared to the bear's available responses, which are: bash, growl, and make myself harder to kill.  I suppose on one level it's easier to bear tank, because when stuff goes wrong you just do more of what you were already doing anyway.  Of course, I'm probably just blowing hot electrons because this will all be moot come Cataclysm anyway, but still.

Awhile back, I wrote a post wondering about what I would do with Alrom once I got him to level 80.  Turns out he's going to be doing the same things Kaethir does, except while wearing plate, casting spells, and wielding weapons, instead of fur, roars, and claws.  I suppose there's some psychological or metaphorical connection I should be making here, but at the moment the only thing that comes to mind is that I like tanking, I like damage meters, and I like hitting things.  Or maybe it's more that I'd rather do that than play whack-a-mole.  Or whack-a-not-green-bar.  Whatever.

I do still enjoy healing, and I may in the future trade in one of my pally specs for a holy one to find out what it's like.  Frankly, not being able to be a proactive healer frightens me, but in a heroic I don't expect slow reaction times to lead to wipes, and I don't intend to use this character in raids except, maybe, for the occasional weekly raid quest or alt-able portion of our guild raids.  Time will tell.

On a completely non-WoW-related post, my wife is pregnant again, or so the little peed-on stick tells us.  Some people seem to think that we are crazy, but I like the idea of having our first two kids so close together.  My wife insists that we'll be waiting for awhile after this one before trying again, even though she's the one that wanted a big family when we started this whole shindig.  I can't help but think that she said that last time and, well, look where we are now.  Not that I'm complaining, I like fatherhood.  Here's to hoping my second child is as happy and easy to take care of as my first.

I don't know if it was fun for you, but it was fun for me!  Wwwhheeeeeeeeee!

Friday, September 3, 2010


I realized only a short while ago that my blog was approaching it's 100th post.

Then I forgot about it and went on with life for awhile.

Lo and behold, when I went to post this morning's content, I realized that it WAS the 100th post...  YAY!

It's taken me over 10 months to get here, and I would not have been able to find the desire to go on if it wasn't for the folks that come by and read and occasionally drop a comment on some of my inane ramblings.

Thanks for everything, I apologize if I have damaged your sanity, I hope you've found something enjoyable, funny, informative, or entertaining, and I look forward to the next 100!


Cataclysm Glyph Changes

Thanks to Keeva for making the first post I saw about this.

I've lamented before about the role of hybrids in WoW, and the fact that despite playing the single most versatile class in the game, I am not any more versatile than any other player during a raid - I am locked into my spec, gear, and glpyhs, and even with the most closely related pair - dual feral - I cannot effectively switch between the two during a fight, because even if I make the spec changes to have the minimum required talents for each, I can't change the glyphs or gear that push each into the realm of competitive with other classes.

The blue post announced that glpyhs will no longer be consumable - once learned, they will  be interchangeable and available in the glyphs interface.  While it doesn't address some of my issues with hybrid-ness, I do see great possibilities from it.

With this announcement... well, we still can't change things mid-fight, *but* we will, I think, be able to share one spec and carry only gear (not stacks and stacks of glyphs) to switch back and forth, and have a sliding bar of how far we can go from one spec to the other that is easy (relatively) to manage, rather than requiring multiple addons and piles of glyphs to keep up with.

In my personal case, it *might* allow me to revert to a feral/resto spec setup.  If it's not too hard to get required talents for both from the talent tree, I can change glyphs when needed, and I'm already carrying 3 gear sets around at all times.

Maybe I'm being a little optimistic, and maybe I'm reading a little too much into this announcement, but this has me even more excited than I already was for Cataclysm.  I just hope EA has had the time to work out killing the Lich King by then.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Teaching the Professor

The only term I could use to properly define the Professor Putricide fight is controlled chaos.

On second thought, I'm not so sure about the controlled part.

We had faced him a few times before, but without much success, never making it to phase 3 and making it through the transition from phase 1 to phase 2 cleanly only a couple of times.

This week was destined to be different...

We smashed through the Lower Spire and Putricide's two... "sons" on the first night without much difficulty.  This has been a regular ritual for us for a couple of months now, and the second night started out with a roll through the princes and their queen, and we moved on to the Professor.  We've been skipping Dreamwalker the past few weeks even though we've healed her successfully a few times.  Our successful strategy has involved 4 tanks, and we've been down two of our regular progression tanks and one of our backups has been spotty on attendance.  Since adding me into the mix we have 4 regular progression tanks, with an extremely solid backup Paladin tank and a serviceable backup Druid for a total of 6 tanks geared enough to fill at least an OT slot.  Take out 3... and we don't have the tankage necessary.  I suppose at this point we might be able to do it with 2 or 3 tanks (putting our best one by himself on one side for the 3 tank setup...) but that's the raid leader's job to decide, not mine.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Putricide.

Our typical MT and raid leader took the Abom - I don't have any experience with it and I think it gives him less to pay attention to so he can better direct the raid.  I controlled the Professor himself, and our backup Druid - who is usually specced Balance for most of our raids, and is an excellent Boomkin at that - stayed feral but went cat form until the 3rd phase.  This was the role I had on our previous attempts, when we had one of our other main progression tanks with us.

Unfortunately I'm turning into an old man, and our report isn't up yet so I can't check it to remember exactly how many times we wiped... but we made it to the 3rd phase if not every time then almost.  I know we wiped once to debuff stack buildup (and my craptastic hardware crashing...) and we wiped once more due, in essence, to poor handling of Putricide by us tanks not moving him properly.

We did have an issue on 2-3 of our attempts with having an ooze or gas cloud up during the shift to 3rd phase, which draws DPS away from the boss, giving his slime puddles time to grow.  Probably not coincidentally, our successful run had no slime up (and no slime puddles up!) at the time of the shift.

Malleable goos on me were occasionally a problem, but we got that worked out.

In the end, of course, we taught the professor a lesson.  What it is, beyond "don't mess with us or we'll let you kill us a few times before we kill you," well, that I don't know.

We had been planning on locking out next week to have more time for attempts on Putricide and maybe Sindragosa, but after a vote revealed a decent chunk of folks that still want/need the gear and marks from the bosses we've downed we decided that we'll do a fresh run next week.

On the upside there is actually some gear to be had for me.  One of our raiders took a sojourn through another guild to get a LK kill and then came back, opening up our ability to do heroic lootship, which we did succesfully this week (even though we were all dead at the end).  Unfortunately, I lost the roll by 1 to a rogue on the heroic version of Ikfirus's Sack of Wonder.  Add in all the additional Marks we'll be pulling, and soon I have no doubt we'll be knocking on the Lich King's door.

Onward, Epic Adventurers!