Posted by: Kro | April 4, 2011

4/12: Heroic Maloriak Tanking and Next Steps

Though not exactly as progressed as we would like, we have managed to take down 4 heroic bosses. Halfus, Chimaeron, Atramedes, and Maloriak are all dispatched and our sights are  refocused on Magmaw with a dash of Wind Council.

We took down Halfus, and Chimaeron handily. They took their share of learning but we’ve soundly committed them to farm content. We then spent a week or two on Magmaw but for whatever reason it was just not happening. Since then we restructured our officer corps and with a new disposition we set our sights on Atramedes and Maloriak.

Tanking has been somewhat of an issue, and that issue is that I’m being called to do it.  We’ve recently had some turnaround in days where we can expect both of our main tanks to be available all three raid nights. This in combination with certain fights requiring more than one tank have put me up to the plate on more than one occasion.

Having now done some tanking job on each of the heroics we’ve downed (sans chimaeron, thank you for making this a DK dps tank position) I’m comfortable in meeting the demand but still firmly aware that tanking is quite possibly my worst role performance wise. I consider my healing, melee, ranged to each be better than tanking but alas not everyone has a tanking spec geared and ready to go.

Maloriak is easily the most difficult tank job. I never enjoyed picking up multiple adds as a tank mid fight and this heroic fight has two mechanics happy to oblige!

The vile oozes that come out in black phase are a bit staggered. Having rend up on Maloriak helps to Tclap (still trying not to say pestilence when I mentioned the tclap rend spread) your dots to them followed by some cleaves, and shockwave. Now you get to stutter step slowly moving backwards. The difficulty is to hold all 5 oozes, while avoiding the black void zone/ooze puddles, paying attention to grabbing any oozes you may lose and making sure no one is in your kite path so you won’t get ooze puddles behind you.

This job became a bit easier the more I tightened up my openers because I had less  issues with wandering mobs.

The second job is to corrale the aberrations through red/blue phase and then survive green phase. I’m sure many people are comfortable with this rule, but on short notice I was learning black phase tanking and aberration tanking in the same pulls.

I had trouble early on before someone pointed out I could tank up to the first 6 aberrations and would only need to kite when the last three are released. With 9 aberrations up it became important to make sure hunter traps were staying up and that rings of frost were available when called for. The hardest part is picking up the final 3 adds without letting your 6 originals out of the hunter trap. What I found helpful is to get a shockwave on your 6 at the edge of the frost trap, then grab any aberrations released on the opposite side. You can follow the purple lasers from maloriak that indicate how many (between 0-3) aberrations are going to spawn on each side. Once the first side if picked up, you can get some threat on them, Intervene to your raid, then charge the second group. By this time hopefully your 6 travelled across the frost trap and now must travel back across to their original side.  Another shock wave to glue your 9, and a heroic leap away from them will hopefully get you through to green.

The biggest thing to remember after your successful green phase is to not breath out! It’s time for black again!

At this point, you’ll want to assess how your raids dps is performing. You’ll want to limit the fight to 2 black phases. You can heroism early on and still heroism in the burn phase (12 minute enrage)

Thankfully, our main warrior tank was on the following week when we got our kill, I was only subjected to tanking this fight for one night of wipes.

The other exciting portion of getting this kill was using arms to dps. Bladestorm was a lot of fun especially paired with recklessness. I was also fond of Deadly calm execute/heroic strike spam in the burn phase. I was however a bit tired of Arms after some mediocre damage on the farm content that week. I hadn’t respecd back to fury between Malroiak learning and keeping a tank spec is pretty important to me. I could just respec back and forth from fury and arms but I’d rather just not have to worry about it.

I’m not sure if I’ll give fury a “whirl” this week on Maloriak. I suppose it all depends who is tanking.

Moving forward this week will be Magmaw, and with a bit of luck we will continue work on Council of Wind. We had some lawl attempts on Council last week after we finished farm content and got our Maloriak kills 5 hours into our 12 hour raid week. Unfortunately Maloriak attempts came at the price of downing Magmaw normal and instead we learned that melee on the red platform enjoy tornadoes and cthun eye beam mechanics! We also learned how fun it is to kite flower adds forever instead of killing them.

Wish us luck this week. We are progressing but we still have a lot of work to do. Until next time!

Posted by: Kro | February 3, 2011

Heroics and.. Heroics

I’ve been battling Heroic content on two fronts recently. My Warrior has supplanted Nefarian from Black Wing Descent and with 12/12 normal modes under our belts we took our first steps into Heroic Raid content this week. Additionally, my Priest has found her groove and sports a comfortable wardrobe of gear to cruise through heroic 5 man dungeons.

Our first raid night this week was spent on Heroic Halfus. Generally a DPS, I was able to showcase my fantastic off set of sub par tanking gear. Sure it is more epic than superior, but those epics are the ones prefaced by this sentence “oh.. ew hit? Yeah we’ll pass, kro can have that one” or “it’s better to AH this BoE tank piece than give it to off specs”. I can get behind the arguments to raise guild funds and gear up the proper tanks first, but it still demands creative answers to fulfill a role the guild requires without the usual channels. Exhibit A, Plate DPS pauldrons from normal mode Halfus are easily converted to make shift epic shoulders (thank you mastery). Reforging also helps tremendously to get rid of that 70 hit and make it 70 Parry. Still not the most ideal solutions but they are certainly much closer in quality to the real tank pieces than we’ve seen from different spec pieces of gear in previous expos. Try dpsing in mp5 or tanking without defense rating. This wasn’t even an option then, but now we see lots of pieces that go both ways.

The interesting thing about Heroic raid content is the extreme coordination requirements. My role morphed from dodge fire circles (possibly) and dps until 0% on normal into a long list of checks. Release Storm Rider, Threat Storm Rider, check Halfus tank debuffs, Taunt Halfus, continue threating Storm Rider, Check my own debuffs and call for a Taunt off me, Pick up Slate Dragon after Storm Dies, continue watching my own and the Tank before’s debuff stack. Then comes cooldown rotations sub 50% which are mostly easy unless you aren’t sure whether a stun starting at 50% counts as the first cooldown in the rotation or if the Furious Roar needs to start casting and be interrupted by a stun to count that as the first cooldown. (Yes we wiped this way) Oh right and watch both for Furious Roar cast (if it is the right time in the cycle to Shield Wall) as well as the tank before you sitting at 4 debuffs on a righteous string of avoidance, refusing to just take the 5th stack so you can taunt and not miss your Roar cooldown usage…

I’m not sure that entire paragraph makes sense in its composition but honestly I’m so exhausted from reliving it just now that I don’t really care to edit it.

The moral of the story is we took down Heroic Halfus (3 Separate targeting macros and lots of Focus target of target settings tinkering later) and it was quite a trip, though a bit ominous knowing it is the easiest heroic raid boss in this tier.  I’m excited to give Heroic Chimareon a poke tonight and hopefully we can clear out Al’Akir, Atramedes, Nef, and Chimaeron before our raid week ends at midnight tonight.

The other heroic I’ve been working on lately is the Heroic Dungeon grind on my first alt of the expansion. My priest has worked her way up the ranks and is in some pretty decent starter gear. I’m at about half 346 Heroic loot and the other half is 339 pvp boe gear. I also have an epic alch trink, Arena Staff (Thanks Tweezy), and the 340 spirit pvp trinket from Baradin Hold (I’ve got spirit! Woo).

I’ve been a bit undecided about spec lately but I think I’ve settled firmly on Disc healing with AA/A (Arch Angel/ Atonement). I gave up on shadow not because I dislike it, it is a fun spec to play around with but I feel like I’d enjoy it a lot more in a raid setting. After nuking shadow and making a disc spec to survive arenas for free weapons I started swapping between disc and holy from heroic to heroic. I really loved the flexibility it offered. Having played a different healer during each expansion I have a lot of experience with different healing play styles and I also have experience enough to know that healing can get boring quickly if you aren’t changing up how you do things. Perhaps that is just me being the guy that swaps main characters every expo (or even more frequently) and someone who once insisted on tanking Karazhan (at level 70) on his Shaman to break up the healing monotony. (Bulwark of Azzinoth and lots of Enhance PVP gear made that dream a reality later on in BC.)

The Arch Angel Atonement build feels like something I’ve been waiting for for a long time while healing ever since I went lunar grace/crit resto in vanilla on my druid (so I could keep up my mana wearing dire maul blues against the sturdier raiders with their full tier 2). The idea behind the spec is that you stack up Evangelism by smiting. For every stack of Evangelism you do more smite damage and reduce the mana cost of smite and penance (among other things.. I think). When you are at 5 stacks you have a few options. Continue smiting and penance (at reduced mana cost) as needed, or on a 30 second cooldown you can pop Arch Angel which increases your healing by 3% for each stack of evangelism as well as returning 1% total mana per stack. The bonus healing lasts 18 seconds so you can keep it up almost 2/3s of the time if you wish. The final talent in this beautiful triumvirate is Atonement. Atonement makes your smite also (smart) heal 1 person within 15 yards of your smite target for 100% of the damage you do. This heal is increased by most talents that increase healing including Arch Angels 15% , other healing increase talents the priest may have or the tanks may have for increased healing received. The Atonement heal does approximately the same amount that the generic spell Heal will heal for, while also doing damage (7-15k a pop) and reducing the mana cost of subsequent smite and penance casts.

The way a few pulls will go is something like this.. Prayer of Mending on the tank, smite 3-5x, penance tank. If group is taking light damage, reapply PoM, if group is taking heavy damage then Arch Angel, Prayer of Healing 1-2x, or if just the tank is taking damage, continue smite spam for 10k heals every <2 seconds, and penance whenever the tank dips -40k or just to keep grace up for future penances. Smite spam with a 5 stack of evangelism and popping Arch Angel for the 5% mana return is pretty mana neutral and has earned me some compliments from tanks on how quickly they get to pull the next pack. The other benefit is you are pumping out some mediocre but not unnoticeable dps. I’ve seen 5k dps for some trash packs and generally an average of 1-2k for an entire instance worth. This fails in comparison to 12k dps single target and upwards of 20k dps aoe on my warrior, but its pretty nice considering that 2k dps gets thrown on top of your other 3 dps classes and your tanks damage as well.

I still like to play holy. Lightwell, Body and Soul, and Chakra are extremely fun mechanics but I can’t get enough Arch Angel and Atonement. As healers our responsibility is pretty singular. Your job as a healer is to keep your group alive. Once you have this sorted out though, it’s on you to sustain your mana so your group can move at the speed of your tanks confidence rather than the speed of your mana bar. Great healers can balance both effectively but when a spec allows you to complete both of your prime directives and add in a little dps gravy on top of everything else, you are really helping to speed up your runs.

I’ve loved tanking as a shaman in raid zones, dps tanking as ret or on a dk in Wrath heroics once you over gear the places,  and healing as a dps in various states of gear / spec hybridization. These “true” hybrid specs have always been my favorite play styles but disc healing heroics in Cata has quickly risen to the top considering I’m able to implement it in real gear appropriate scenarios!

So that’s how my Heroic (Raid) and Heroic (Dungeon) progression have been going lately. I’m sure I’m about to hit the brick walls of near impossible heroic raid bosses and the monotony of no longer needing anything from heroics on my priest, but there’s always the next challenge around the corner. Until that time comes, I’ll be enjoying where I’m at now.

In Borsk’s most recent post he talks about coachability, applying a strategy and having situational awareness.

Gemming, enchanting, reforging, using consumables, practicing your rotation, reading strategies (beforehand)… these are all fabulous ways of contributing to your performance in a raid. Showing up prepared will already start to relax your raid leader.

You can, however, erase all of these bonus points you’ve earned by failing in the situational awareness department. The Penguin behind the glass is watching your sound stack, knows who was only 5 yards away (not 6), and he knows who is doing 2 million damage to the “must die NAO” adds, and who is only doing 200k.

World of Logs, damage meters, and many other addons offer a microscope to meticulously examine combat logs and discover who has been naughty or nice, who has been sleeping and who is still awake.

Fortunately, situational awareness is not 100% skill. You can improve your user interface to help you escalate your game several degrees.

We no longer live in a world where AVR draws beautiful circles of bad and good, but there are many tools you can still use to stay ahead of the curve and on your feet so your favorite Steeler fan doesn’t break another headset. (Any more mistakes and the pile of broken headsets thrown across the room may create a barrier, blocking Borsk in his bedroom, leaving him unable to eat. You may starve Borsk to death with your failure! Starvation, lack of sustenance, this is a fact)

Hopefully you have mods like oRa, Deadly Boss Mods, Grid, or other equivalents. These bare minimums provide essential information. The hurdle is knowing what to look for. For example you may say, “Kro, I’m not a healer, why do I need Grid?” Well my first broad answer is because I think you should have a healing alt and that toon will need it. Playing other roles will increase your situational awareness through osmosis. My more focused answer is because even dps and tanks should have a quick view of the entire raids health. Imagine a raid where all 17 dps notice that everyone in the raid is at 20% health. Every single dps says.. Interesting, I’m not the only person who needs healing so I’ll pop my healthstone and enraged regen/recuperate/death strike/ice block/ghoul sac/ or whatever instant, relatively accessible dps specd heal. Everyone in the raid pops back from imminent death and the healers hopefully have not blown all their mana and long cooldowns.

Another vital aspect of being situationally aware is knowing where your feet are. Standing in poo is not just a flaming bag prank. Void zones or standing in the fire are the most infamous examples of poor situational awareness. If you are tunnel visioning on your kicks, or only looking at health bars you may be standing in something very very bad. Recently I’ve been using a mod called GTFO. This mod plays an alarm sound any time I’m standing in something bad. This gives me a “gentle” reminder if I’m ever tunnel visioned on interrupting a certain spell, or if I’m trying to weave a difficult rotation around some other mechanic. I don’t always or even often need this mod, but on the off chance I do need it, I’m quite happy it is there.

It is also nice to learn how to fiddle with your mods. The “taunt switch” is a common mechanic when the tank gets a debuff that disallows him to tank, conversely the boss my gain a buff that makes him untankable by the main tank in favor of a specialized off tank. In these instances I will focus target either the boss or the opposite tank and I will turn either the buffs or the debuffs to their maximum size. This way I’m able to see when to taunt even if I miss the cue from DBM, or from the frantic off tank in vent yelling to taunt off him. Overlapping visual and auditory signals to act help me make sure I keep mistakes to a minimum. In many cases failure occurs because someone just does not have their UI set up properly to see when a mechanic is happening. How often have you wiped because one or more people did not know they had a certain debuff?

It is also important to look through options in Deadly Boss Mods. For each boss you can specify which abilities you want to track cooldowns for and which you want a visual warning when they happen or are about to happen. When I’m pummeling Molariak, I turn off most of the warnings and only leave the add spawning cast warning. This way I’m not desensitized by all the warnings for events that don’t effect my role as much, and I’m properly jolted when my kick should be activated.  This also allows me to kick the add spawning cast during an add burn phase because the warning is not ignored while I’m positioning and trying to furiously aoe. Though less situational awareness tip, and more preparation tip, I also use a focus kick macro to get that interrupt, if that’s helpful at all.

The real key to situational awareness improvement is more than just opening your eyes. The key is removing the self imposed blind fold by either using more useful mods or by removing the clutter of to many or non tinkered with mods.

The more elegant and relevant you make your UI, the more sated your Raid Lead will become, and the more focus they can spend on correcting other mistakes.

Posted by: Kro | January 5, 2011

Uldum Nazi: Out of Place in WoW?

http://murlocparliament.com/2011/01/05/keep-your-history-away-from-my-internet-dragons

I find myself (for one of the first times in memory) standing in contrast to Zelmaru from the Murloc Parliament.

Zel’s post is showing concern with the direction Blizzard is headed in their pop culture exuberance. The particular focus is repulsion for the Schnottzi quest lines in Uldum (an obvious reference to Nazi Germany and World War II).

“The fact is, nobody’s relatives have ever been killed by a dragon, dinosaur, wizard, or ogre.”

This quote is true, however I feel like WoW has other “bad guys” that could fit into the nazi mold. Vikings (Vrykul), were known for raping and pillaging. Being of Scandinavian descent myself, I have mixed wonderment and sadness at my ancestors “conquests”. This is obviously much more muted than a Nazi reference in the scope of time but does the Vikings treatment of Native Americans in the past earn them blacklist status? They have an arguably sordid past and yet they are in our game, in league with the Lich King no less.

I suppose the obvious counter point is that you mean in “living” memory. In Harry Potter you can make connections between Hitler and Voldemort yet these are considered children’s literature. Are we allowed to use Nazi themes to convey story points as long as we call them Death Eaters instead?

I do feel as though the Nazi reference was important to the Harrison Jones story line though. You did touch upon that aspect but found that it was still an unnecessary addition. In that line of thinking, could we also say that Nazi’s were an unnecessary addition to the original Indiana Jones movies? Would those movies have worked in a story sense just as well if they had been an imaginary group of evil doers? Is it insensitive to include them in entertainment, even as the bad guys we work to thwart? Would Inglorious Bastards be an entertaining film if the film centered on twilight cultists as the antagonist group? Historical references, even of perverse people, serve to illicit a response from the viewer (or player). That response is seething hatred towards the opposition and it appears to be rather effective. Personally I find it (respectfully) intriguing to work through these issues in gameplay.

Schnottzi aren’t the first reference to Nazi Germany in WoW, we also saw (admittedly a vastly smaller) reference in the Caverns of Time.

The Holocaust

  •  
    • In the orc Internment camps, in the Caverns of Time dungeon Escape from Durnholde, The occasional guard will yell “I was just taking orders!”, a reference to the common excuse used by Nazi labor camp guards, during the Nuremberg Trials.

 

The entire Thrall story line begins with slavery and many quests and books go into explicit detail to illicit a response from the players of both factions. The experiences Thrall goes through as a slave mold him into the extremely well known and capstone personality of the Warcraft franchise.

Whether it happens subconsciously in developers minds as they create characters based on their own life experiences (and knowledge of history) or overtly in a blatant (un)pop culture reference, we will get historical references in WoW for good or evil.

My last argument is that WoW is the World of Warcraft. The game centers on the act of war, the opposition between foes, and the killing of those foes. You would think Schnottzis are a better fit for this game than Haris Pilton is. I’m not sure I could say that any aspect of war or atrocity is off limits in this genre were you can keep the severed heads of your enemies next to your fish feast in your travelers backpack, even when packaged in a cartoon like world of dragons and wizards. If we take the name Nazi away and just called them the genocidal world domination clan would that be more or less palatable? Whether Nazis are called Schnottzis, Death Eaters, or Twillight Cultists, let’s call a pig a pig and accept that fantasy frequently draws from reality in various degrees of recognition.

As an addendum, I wouldn’t mind if the Schnottzis were removed from the World of Warcraft. I’m not passionate that they stay. I just felt the need to present an argument for the rationale of including them.

Posted by: Kro | December 29, 2010

Off Topic: AFC Playoffs

Just wanted to say congratulations to the 6 Pro Bowlers in 2010 from the New England Patriots.

Tom Brady, rookie Devin McCourty, Vince Wilfork, Meriweather, Logan Mankins, and Jerod Mayo.

Meriweather is the only dude I find suspect on this list.

As for the upcoming playoffs, I’m always excited this time of year because our guild, Blood Red Moon, has several members that are standard bearers for perennial NFL contenders. With the Pats, Steelers, and Ravens all represented it certainly makes for great conversation during raids.

The is an unfortunate byproduct because I begin to see these people as competitors when I’m used to seeing them as teammates. This is always a fleeting feeling but disconcerting all the same. It is a relief when the playoffs are over however no matter the outcome as it’s back to business in guild. At least from my perspective.

All the same, this year we will see all three of these teams in the AFC playoffs. The 3 other teams are all interesting stories at least from a Patriots perspective. The Jets and Colts are probably the patriots biggest rivals and both matchups could easily go either way as the 2 Jets games were split this year and the colts matchups have been split over the last decade.

The last team in the playoffs this year is newcomer Kansas City Chiefs. (Hereby referred to as Patriots Lite or Patriots West). Patriots West has our favorite 2008 Brady replacement Matt Cassel, who is having a brady-esque year with, I believe, 20 something touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The Chiefs also have a wealth of coaching/management talent formerly with 2010s AFC number 1 seed. GM Scott Pioli makes his presence felt and coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weiss (both New England coordinators from the storied 3/4 Super Bowl years) will be on the sideline. We also can’t forget Mike Vrabel, also from the pats glory days, who went to the Patriots lite with Cassel and sports the greatest touchdown percentage of any player (12/12 for 100%). An amazing feat … especially considering he is a linebacker.

Perhaps we can get some perspective from devoted followers of these other teams in the comments section. As a Pats fan I’m most afraid of the Chiefs and the Ravens. Though I’ll give the Ravens/Colts the nod as most likely to beat the Pats (If anyone does). I just don’t like Belichicks track record against his former pupils (see Pats-Browns 2010 featuring Rob Ryan and Mangini)

Ravens played us closest this year w/o Ed Reed but that was also the first game the Pats adjusted to a Mossless offense and before the lowly patriots D had any hopes of sending 4 players to the pro bowl. 

Do any of you have any thoughts on how the NFL playoffs may affect guild relations? Is it all fun and games or is January/February the perfect month to check “At War” on your crisp new Guild Reputation bar?

Posted by: Kro | December 29, 2010

Time on Target: Fury Warrior

Circling back to a previous topic where I discussed going from good dps to great dps, I’d like to look specifically at a couple of shortcuts and pitfalls I’ve found with dpsing as a warrior.

Time on target is sort of my mantra for doing better dps than other people. Variation in damage occurs even with folks who share the same (or very similar to the point of statistically insignificance) class, spec, rotation, and gear.

The variation comes from the time on target or the number of attacks or spells casts compared to someone else. This could be from surviving damage with cooldowns, handling boss mechanics through avoidance or proper strategy, or even just using macros and hotkeys effectively to swap targets or move faster to different areas.

As far as warriors go, don’t take my advice without a grain of salt. I’ve officially been dpsing as a warrior for all of 3 weeks, and you can probably subtract 2 of those weeks because I’ve been tanking quite a lot as well. Even still I’d like to put what I have found down so it can help someone (or hopefully someone can say to me “you are doing it all wrong here is an even better way!”)

The first part was getting my abilities in a useful setup. I generally like to pair up abilities to the same macros. Spells I want to use in sequence or that can or cannot be used at the same time go pretty well on the same button. My first pair of abilities was Victory Rush and Cleave while leveling.  Victory Rush is only activated when you kill a target that rewards xp or honor. This button (F for me) will cast Victory Rush if it is available and if not will cast Cleave. I can cleave to my heart’s content before I’ve killed something and then because Cleave isn’t on th gcd it will cast both in rapid succession once V Rush has been activated. The macro isn’t fancy, it just reads:

/cast Victory Rush 

/cast Cleave

I also have cleave hotkeyed to shift+3 so I can see it light up or use it independently if there is a situation I don’t want toV-Rush.

I quickly found that you need a suitable solution to intercept/charge and the stances required for each. The solution I settled on was R for Berserker Stance and intercept, and shift + R for Battle Stance and Charge.

With this configuration I’m able to tap R twice if I am in any stance and it will intercept if rage is available. If I am already in zerker stance only one tap is necessary. If I want to charge into a fight I just hold shift and tap R twice, release shift and tap R again. This will swap to battle stance, charge, swap to zerker stance. I’m sure there is a better way to make this macro but for now I’m content with how it works because it also gives me a fast way to swap to battle or zerker for any other reason as well. I have my stances set to F1 F2 and F3 as well but I rarely use those.

In keeping with the pairing of abilities to one hotkey, my execute is also set to R. During execute spam I am already in zerker stance and I am to close to intercept, this means both original lines for R don’t .. well the word I want to use is execute as in they don’t work but that hardly is the best word to use. Essentially both “/cast Berserker Stance” and “/cast Intercept” dont execute. But R does “/cast Execute”.

Another macro I have used in the past is weapon swapping. (70 shaman arena – lol resilience enchanted bulwark of go ahead and focus the enhance shaman)  As a warrior I’ve found that using a dps shield wall is not as easy as a paladin or death knight. Obviously warriors require a shield be equipped and you be in defensive stance to “execute” (that is how I wanted to use that fantastic word earlier) this ability. My solution to this is to make another macro that reads:

/equipslot 17 Super Shield of the Pony

/cast defensive stance

/cast shield wall

This will leave my 2h in my main hand alone but toss my shield on. Another quick tap drops me to defensive stance and a third gets me my 40% damage reduction. The reason I put the shield on before the stance swap is that there are some instances where I just want the shield on, maybe just to spell reflect or to keep dpsing in zerker stance while tanking an add or something. I could also go as far as to add shield block to this macro as well. Once I’m in defensive stance though, it is easy enough to just hit 3 to shield block and I prefer that level of control.

It is also important to have a quick macro to get your 2h back in your off hand rather than searching through your bag while dodging fire.

/cast berzerker stance

/equipslot 17 Hammer of Great Justice

Our new ability Heroic Leap is a fantastic factor in adding time on target. (Thats right! it isn’t just for leap frog racing your priests (damnable frustration grip)/prot warrior (ha your heroic leap cooldown is longer!)/and worgen/rogues/druids (oh sprint how I envy thee) back to the buff spot after a wipe). Any time you need to move a long way such as the conclave of wind you can leap for your life up to 40 yards to be the first guy back on Anshal after dpsing Nezir during their ultimate. I use heroic leap on my Mouse thumb button (mouse button 5 for me) as I do with all ground targeted spells like blizzard or death and decay.

A final mobility utility is Intervene. I have a macro that reads:

/cast defense stance

/target Borsk

/cast Intervene

I can use this in a pinch to get out of melee and back to a healer (in this case our friendly shaman from Borsked.com) if I’m in danger. I can usually rely on Borsk to be in a safe spot and close enough to reach with Intervene. Then a quick tap on R drops me back to zerker stance and a 2nd tap of R intercepts me back to the boss. Using battle or commanding shout may be required to keep up with the rage consumption of stance dancing.

Using these hotkeys and macros I’m able to stay alive just a bit longer and get the most out of my abilities to keep on the boss just a bit longer.

Not that these allow me to surpass my guild mates who are masters of time on target, but competing against random dps in the dungeon queue I am able to off tank a boss if a tank is cc’d or gibbed and seamlessly slide back into dps when they are b’rezd or the boss shifts to an untankable phase. Quickly shifting to charge before a pull so intercept is ready 10 seconds later when the first mob/add dies rather than simply running to the next add  increases my time on the next target. Multiply this by thousands of gcds over a raid night and you are looking at an exponential amount of extra white swings just from the seconds you are shaving off.

Posted by: Kro | December 29, 2010

Speaking of Archaeology..

Posted by: Kro | December 28, 2010

Rerolling: a Healthy Roll Backwards in Confidence

As a Kro would do, rerolling for an expansion seems to be a certainty rather than merely a strong bet.

I’m now 2/3 in not only rerolling, but changing my expected new class at the last hour to an altogether new class. A “rereroll” if you will. I’m also a solid 2/3 in rerolling to the newest available class (Alliance Shaman, Death Knight).

This time however I fell back on a staple class for not only Warcraft, but for gaming in general.

I quick couple weeks of prepping a five-year old, level 30 character and I’m back in the saddle riding on as a main Warrior.

There and Back Again: A Krobbits Tale

The last few weeks of Wrath of the Lich King and the first few weeks in Cataclysm have had quite a few ups and down for me personally.

I could go on and on for pages but I’ll try to hit on some of the highlights.

Going from Shadowmourne adorned DK, destroyer in battlegrounds and random queue dps spec tanking champion to unproven Warrior, sweating every white attack, clinging to cooldowns like a high-rise window washer with a severed belay, has had a resonating impact on my psychological balance.

Tanking (just one drake) in Halfus 10 man before I was ready gear wise was a horrible experience. Our whole plan centered around how quickly the raid can kill the other drake before I died (cooldown rotation finished = splat) so the main tank wouldn’t need to hold Halfus and both drakes at once. It was demoralizing at best.

However the bright side is considerably brighter. I’m not a tank main spec, and if I needed to be I feel like at this point in my off spec gear acquisition, that I would be a suitable replacement.

To be clear, even at appropriate gear levels, I don’t claim to be a miraculous tank. Asked point-blank on a scale of 1-10 (10 being from the Daphne, Haines mold) I responded with 6. Then again what one meant was never defined in this scenario.

I’m still not thrilled with my warrior dps just yet. My first raid (Tron Council) I noticed a serious increase in proficiency from the start of the raid to the end. However as the weeks go on and everyone is at or beyond best in slot heroic dungeon pieces, I’m having more trouble keeping up on damage.

I feel like I have a good chance of being top damage or at least top 3 or top 5 on every pull. Not to say I am reaching that goal, but I feel like it’s possible every time. Finding a way to transition to reaching that goal is going to be key.

Last night was an abysmal failure though and prompted this post. I was consistently last on meters for 10 man (whatever his name is) Alchemist Dragon Duderino. Not only was I last on meters but I was messing up kicks (letting a tick go off on Arcane Storm) which prompted Izellah to kindly take over. Even still, while kicking the add summon (which mercifully requires a few missed pummels) I was having trouble getting the proper amount of add summons per phase cycle. To top it all off I single-handedly ruined our most productive pull of the night causing a nasty 100k hp wipe at 11:50 (raids end at 12). I managed this by dying in the red phase, with a boss debuff on me. I had missed an add summon kick and thus needed to kick all remaining casts. I didn’t pay as close attention to the debuff and died as we were going into the 25% burn phase. 1 dps down in a 10 man means a lot to an enrage timer.

I was so pissed with myself I couldn’t even apologize to the raid or say anything after that attempt capped a full night of sub-mediocrity.

Thankfully, we had an extremely clean and uneventful final pull resulting in a guild first kill of the nasty alchemist. My dps was at a passable (barely) 9-11k throughout the night which is definitely something I can build off considering everyone else seemed to fair in the 10-13k range. Once I get more than 2 weeks experience as a warrior dps I’m hoping my dps isn’t as severly handicapped by things like boss abilities or unusual kick situations.

I’m also set to pick up my first Arena 2h epic weapon before tonight’s 25 man raid. If I can get lucky with drops or possibly convince myself that Archaeology farming for Zin’Rok isn’t the worst grind in wow history I may even have 2 epic 2h weapons before long. Those acquisitions ought to help my bruised ego as well as my justification for a raid spot immensely.

I’ve got my work cut out for me but I’m optimistic moving forward. They can’t get much worse, and if they do.. my priest is slowing making her way to 85. Apparently leveling archaeology to 525 gets you to level 83 on its own… some incentive to continue farming Zin’Rok I guess… sigh sigh sigh sigh sigh

However as Borsk outlines in his most recet post, healing isn’t a cakewalk these days. If it comes back to me healing, hopefully I haven’t been hiding behind an overpowered chain heal spammer in BC or deluding myself with a dangerous false sense of security in the simplistic WotLK paladin.

Posted by: Kro | October 1, 2010

Back In The Saddle

These past couple months have produced precious little to post about (obviously). Blood Red Moon decided to discontinue WotLK raiding in the midst of wide-spread burn out, lackluster attendance, and the general consensus that pushing Heroic Lich King over the next several months would permanently exhaust some of our on the brink raiders. This happened about 2 months ago I would say but it’s hard to keep track of time without a backdrop of boss kills to base how many weeks have passed.

There were a scant few who strongly opposed this decision and still more who were keen to continue raiding. These folks branched out and have either moved on from BRM or are participating in mercenary raiding elsewhere. I say elsewhere but I should say Affinity US Zul’Jin.

I believe at least five BRM folks have been absorbed into the Affinity machine who are currently working on Heroic Lich King. They, to my knowledge, are working on phase 2 with a record attempt of 43%. 

Well, I finally threw my hat in the ring and made known I would be interested in taking up a couple of nights a week if they could use the help. I had planned on only giving up 1-2 of my recently discovered Call of Duty/League of Legends nights however in a seemingly star aligning moment the main Affinity holy paladin had thrown his towel in.

With this development I suppose it makes sense to give three nights a week and hope we are able to kill the Lich King in a reasonable timeframe.

Flash forward to the actual encounter.

Heroic LK (now having around 15 attempts under my belt) is about how I’ve expected. The mechanic changes aren’t too difficult but the slightly increased portions on your plate are enough to make you think while requiring you max your dps like never before. I’d have liked to bring my Shadowmourne adorned DK however Affinity seems to have a gaggle of S-mourned Knights and melee in general.

I imagine phase one shadow traps wouldn’t be as fluid during your first week of attempts but stepping into a raid with P1 on farm seemed almost like a cakewalk. The Shadow trap mechanic which spawns on a random raid member and takes about 5 seconds to explode will toss nearby raid members off the platform and permanently remove them from the fight. This permanent death (not brezable) is on par with being dropped off the ledge by a valk, however it’s more obvious who is to blame.. (hint: the dude at the graveyard). These traps show a ring around the explosion range which if triggered will explode and knock back anyone within a few yards of the ring graphic. Rifkin says “it is about 5 yards beyond the ring on the ground.. but don’t quote me on that” … oops my bad.

All in all P1 is pretty easy (for the holy paladin). Judge on cooldown for mana, reapply your beacon once. Use plea/illumination asap (70ish% mana) so you can use plea/wings in p1 and plea again in the transition phase. Move with the range group from shadow traps. Run into the Shambler if you are plagued. Essentially everything you know from normal mode applies + don’t stand in shadow traps.

Phase 2 becomes a bit harder as far as I understand. In the limited attempts I’ve been raiding again (2 nights including an instance clear/farm night) I’ve managed to see 53ish% a few times as well as some of the things that can go wrong on the individual level. For me personally I boned up an attempt dropping defile in the Valks while tunneling on reapplying beacon and stunning my valk assignment. I’m sure my rusty license is valid for 1 or 2 more of those bone headed mistakes but I’m hoping that it’s not necessary.

For me phase 2 remains about the same. I’m still assigned a stun target.. (but this time with new improved specing into imp stun!) as well as bombing holy lights on the tank and dealing with the ping pong of in for valks, out for defiles. DPS requirements are obviously increased dramatically but unfortunately that doesn’t affect me all that much. It’s also important for DPS to figure out how to get Valks to 50% rather than dead. In Heroic mode the Valks drop their victim at 50% and then fly up in the air to do some such nonsense that my only understanding is to just keep healing. This means experimenting is involved which includes understanding valk hp vs dot strength/number vs distance to ledge. Leaving a target at 56% so you can dps another valk or keep poking at LK is way more efficient than sticking on that valk until 50% and watching him tick down needlessly to 44%.  All very interesting stuff that I’m jealous I’m not involved with.

With this raid team having a 43% wipe under their belt shortly before I started raiding with them, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to report about P3 in the near future.

Until then, in the words of Husky.. I’ll see you guyssss next timeeeee.

Posted by: Kro | August 11, 2010

A Rant About Jaina’s Locket

Here we go…

So I was unable to complete my Jaina’s Locket Shadowmourne flavor item quest. The reason was because I already had the Locket. Unable to complete the quest due to   duplicate item was an interesting problem to solve.

I immediately put in a GM ticket and “immediately” received a response several days later. I was initially very pleased with the GM suggestion. Delete my current Locket, complete quest, give Locket away, and have the original Locket restored.

Fair enough. As you can tell from the word rant in the title I’m sure you can probably guess what happened next. I’ll give you 2 seconds to think about..

..

Yeah they honestly took away one of my n amount of item/character restores, without asking at that.

I vividly remember the first item restore I asked for and went through. I was level 54 on my first character and had accidentally deleted one of the LBRS key fragments not remembering what it was. At the time it seemed daunting to get it to drop again, being a 15 man instance and not a 100% drop like it is now, as well as being in a guild that only had a couple of keys and didn’t run anything but UBRS. Without a “are you sure you want to delete” box at the time and not even being max level on any toon I was a bit miffed that I only had a certain amount of these mistakes before I would be F’d for the rest of my time in game.

After I spent a year or so in Azeroth I would often look back to this event and feel ashamed that I had wasted what seems to be a precious resource on such a poor choice. How could I have known I’d still be playing the game a few months after that point? (or much longer)

Here I am 5 years later and now I’m charged with my 2nd item restore after a GM suggested that I delete the item so they could restore it. 

Maybe I’m being naive and I should have expected.. GM restore = restore taken away from my total amount. I guess I just thought this would be different. I was told to delete my item. I had to delete it in the first place because of what I believe amounts to an oversight. A quest item (where the quest text explicitly suggests that you share the rewards with others) is BOE, and if you do equip one such item, you are forever precluded from finishing the same quest and passing on the reward to someone else?

 The problem I was confronted with went against the spirit of the game as far as I can tell and customer support suggested a fix that involves me signing away my right to something more important. Let me paint a picture.. We will presume the magic number of restores per account is 2. I’ve reached my quota unknowingly.  My little brother jumps on my computer while I’m in the bathroom and deletes my Death Knight. “Sorry Mr Kro, you’ve reached your account allowable restores and we are unable to restore your character.” This is obviously a worst case scenario but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

If this were to happen would I rather have the LBRS key on a character I haven’t played in 3 years, or a flavor item on a character that is presumably deleted….

I feel like my first restore was my own fault, I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation at that time and have regretted it ever since.

This restore came as a huge surprise. I’m blown away..

I would mostly like to know how open my flank is. Am I out of restores? Do I have a cushion of 3 or more? Do they reset every year perhaps, or every 2 years?

When my first restore occurred and I was told that I only had a limited amount of restores per account I immediately asked how numerous that amount was. Of course they couldn’t answer, but that is what unsettled me the most..

So my plea to Blizzard, give us some snippet of how many restores we get. Is it a single digit amount? Does it reset at any interval? Are characters and items on the same restore limit?

Or is it possible that we could take another look at the bind on status of the quest items from arguably the most difficult and arduous quest chain in modern WoW. Is it really in the spirit of the game that if you have received one of these prestigious flavor items from a friend who has completed this momentous task that you are forever precluded from passing on the reward to others, or at the least, returning the favor to the original wielder?

I’m not bitter though.. (then why write this?) well I’m not extremely bitter. I do have Shadowmourne finally. I did get Hand of Rag the week previous as well. I’m quite happy with my legendary status currently and also very content playing quite a bit of Starcraft 2. I just thought I would at least bring this to someone’s attention.

If this will stop one person with a Shadowmourne flavor item from equipping it BEFORE they complete their own Shadowmourne. (Probably the definition of small audience) then perhaps we can call this post a success.

It’s possible I’m being overly sensitive about my restore count. I probably should have expected that going this route would take away one of these minimal lifelines. I suppose I did this to myself, but I still feel slighted in some way.

Womp, Womp

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