Friday, February 26, 2010

Grah! So close!

So last night we got a progression team together and headed back into ICC to pick up where the Lower run from the night before left off.

We made quick work of Saurfang (killed him before he even got a single Mark off) and Festergut (oneshot, despite having to use 2 brezs) before heading heading onto Rotface (or, as we've taken to calling him, Buttstink).

I think it was the 4th time (by which I mean lockout period, not individual run) since the Plagueworks opened that I've been involved in attempts to kill him. And it was the first one that didn't feel totally and utterly frustrating. Despite about 10 wipes, I actually had fun for the first time.


Because for the first time it felt like we were doing it right. Not quite good enough, but at least right. Almost every attempt got him down to at least 25% before it started falling apart on us. And each attempt, even the ones that weren't quite as good as whatever came before, felt a little better. And it was always the same story: we'd be doing perfect, then one person would die and it would just snowball. I know when we finally get him it's going to be with all 10 members up, all brezes off cooldown, and no Ankhs used.

Our last attempt of the night was a 1.16% wipe. We had him down to 85K. And I think that if I hadn't panicked and stopped thinking, I could have gotten him. I got overwhelmed with slimes because everyone else was dead and I just stood in one place. If I would have kited him to keep the slimes off me, maybe waiting for a Slime Spray to drop into Cat for a last all-out damage barrage...maybe.

We decided to go up for one final attempt after that (it was right on the edge of our usual end-time) but trash had respawned by then. It was a completely demoralizing way to end the night. Not even a spectacular failure wipe, but having to leave right as we're all excited that we can do it because we didn't have time to re-clear trash.

As we were putzing around Dalaran trying to pat ourselves on the back to some extent, our main healer mentioned that he noticed the healing getting easier and easier as the night wore on, which I think is the single most encouraging thing a healer can say.

I don't know when we're going to be able to get back in there. Saturday, maybe. If we sacrifice a guild night. Or Sunday after we run the guild weekly. We'll see.

It's weird finishing a night of raiding and feeling so accomplished and so defeated at the same time.

To sate the defeated part, I went over to Mass Effect 2 to waste some mercs for the next two hours before heading to bed. That took the edge off. :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not to complain, but...

So last night I encountered one of my biggest pet peeves in all of WoW.

The night before I had scheduled an open-invite Lower ICC 10 run with the intent of mixing some members of our progression team and some non-progression members to help them get more gear/experience. I scheduled the raid for our usual start-organizing time of 19:45.

I ended up getting stuck at work almost 50 minutes late, and by the time I'd made dinner, eaten, and logged on, it was 19:50. I immediately checked the calendar and saw that 14 people had accepted for the raid.

One was a double sign-up (a main and an alt of the same player). Down to 13. Two weren't online...11. So I was going to have to ask one person to sit.

As I was weighing all the options (and figuring out which two people I was going to have to ask to come on toons they didn't accept on because we were short a tank and a healer) I was informed of this scenario:

One of the newer guild members (only invited a couple days previous) had spent the better part of the last two hours trying to organize his own ICC 10 PuG. Even though he knew there was a guild run of it that night and had, himself, accepted. He was even attempting to pull guild members into his PuG. Only when it seemed clear to him that our guild run was going to get off the ground long before his did he just stop and wait.

Guess who didn't make the cut?

It drives me crazy when we get new recruits that seem to think gchat is nothing more than a dedicated line to potential PuGgers. Every time they log on, they're immediately asking for groups for X dungeon or Y raid. Even when it's stuff they know we run as a guild on a set schedule.

Don't try and pick people up from the guild to run the weekly raid when you know we schedule guild runs of it on Wednesdays and Sundays.

No, I'm not going to drop my Fish Feast farming for you when you want me to tank your undergeared butt through H HoR, especially when it's 20 seconds after you've received the ginvite.

Our Friday guild run is scheduled to start in 10 minutes. No one's going to join your VoA group right now. Stop asking.

At the very least this kind of behavior is inappropriate. Honestly, though, I find it completely disrespectful.

Granted, I typically only have to put up with this kind of thing for a week or so. Every time one of these people come into our guild, they find out that pretty much no one is willing to be their personal group servants and they move on. But at the same time, enough individuals come through often enough like this that it feels like a constant battle.

C'est la vie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Druid Forms in Cata

So among the few things we know about Cataclysm is that two more races will have the Druid class opened to them: Worgen and Trolls.

To me, this is nothing but a huge disappointment. Why? Let's take a look.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to be getting this race as a playable one. Holy crap, fun. I mean, really? Werewolves? How freaking cool is that?!

But us Druids...we spend a lot of our time in shifted forms. This takes a whole lot of the appeal out of playing a Worgen Druid. Who cares if I can shift into a badass werewolf? I'm going to be spending all my time as a cat/bear instead. So I don't get to see it. Even when I'm running around towns, I'm usually in Travel or Cat forms, if not Flight.

Unless Blizz pulls something completely unique and amazing out of their collective hats for Worgen forms, it's going to feel like a complete waste. And then all the other Druid races will probably just seem a little lame in comparison.

I have a feeling the Troll forms are going to be the best of the bunch. They already have the whole primal god motif going for them, and they're all pretty much awesome. From the day I ran Zul'Drak I wanted a quest where Har'koa adopts me and lets me take her form.

But seriously, think about it. Shirvallah, Bethekk, Nalorakk, Halazzi, Rhunok, Har'koa? And that's just the bears and cats. Not even counting the others like Mam'toth, Akali, Akil'zon, etc.

But, alas, I play Alliance. So no matter how undeniably cool the Troll forms are, I won't have access to them until I want to leave my guild. (I don't.) I'll just have to envy them from the other side.

Maybe cats and bears aren't going to be the default forms anymore, though. Maybe the Trolls and Worgen will get something else. Things that are reasonably close in idea but that aren't exactly the same. I could see a rhino tank. Or a wolf (worg?) DPS. Is it possible? What would those forms be, do you think?

What about our other non-combat forms?

Flight forms are already pretty cool. Worgen and Trolls will probably get their own color schemes. I envision a Worgen Epic Flight form being a huge shimmering black bird. That would be awesome. Maybe Trolls would get something more Eagle-like; like Akil'zon.

Our Travel form is an admitted placeholder. It was never meant to the the final artwork. I've always thought the travel form (for Night Elves, at least) should be a stag. It would work, as the icon is a hoof. What about the other races, though? Cheetahs almost make sense for the Tauren, being so close to the Barrens and all. They just need a better model.

So what about it? Worgen and Troll forms? Travel forms? New trees or doomchickens? What do you think we'll see in Cata? Or even beyond that, what would you like to see?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Family Bondage

Please ignore the title. It's an inside joke. But I couldn't help it.

I don't think many people my age (29) will ever say this, but I'm a gamer because of my dad. He's the one who got me started.

Way back in the day when a computer with a CMYK monitor was a pretty amazing thing, he would occasionally bring one home from his office for the weekend for me to play on. He'd show me the fantasy adventure games that were the precursor to things like "King's Quest." You know. A text based game with really bad little images to help you along.

(Incidentally, this is also what got me into programming, as I wasted as many hours playing around with BASIC as I did playing games.)

Later on it was an Atari 2300. Then I branched off into other consoles as they came out (Hi, Nintendo!) and he stuck with the PC. He was big on just about anything Sierra put out, and I would happily jump in front of the computer when he wasn't on to take advantage of them as well. He also introduced me to Warcraft (the original RTS) and games like Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, SimCity, Castles, Lords of Magic...I could go on and on.

A couple years ago, after I got serious about WoW I thought, "You know, I think my dad would enjoy this game." I play in a guild with a lot of Parent/Children pairs (or sets) and this really drove that idea home.

My dad didn't game nearly as much as he used to, but I think that was due to keeping machines well past their gaming prime. So a lot of stuff coming out that he would play, he just couldn't. Despite wanting to introduce him to the game, I decided to hold off until his comp was a little more up-to-date.

Late last year he finally upgraded his PC. I saw a chance. So over the Christmas break I gave him the Wrath install DVD and hooked him up with a Trial account. I told him he might enjoy it.

He rolled a Human Warrior (hmm...sounds familiar...) and started leveling him through Elwyn Forest. I kinda expected him to like the game. I didn't expect him to like it enough that he was playing 4- or 5-hour stretches at a time. (Like me, he had enough time off banked up to take the last two weeks of the year completely off work. So many an afternoon were spent glued to the screen.)

I wanted to roll a new toon to kinda jog behind him at times and help him out. I definitely wanted something with a heal button. I already had a Priest in my roster, so the only Human class left to me was a Paladin. (I wanted a new toon because I didn't want to get ahead of him in levels and start carrying him through the game.)

I reset all the beginner tips so I could see what the game was telling him and what he might still need filled in. I have to say, Blizz has done a hell of a job making the starting experience a lot easier. It can still be overwhelming, but it's much much better than it used to be.

There were a lot of noob moments ("Jumping doesn't help your combat." "Campfires will kill you if you stand in them." "You don't have to save before you quit." "Yeah, Hogger's what's known as an Elite mob.") and some general gamer rust. I'm still trying to get him to use two hands to play instead of one. Being able to move/turn and fight at the same time would make things easier on him, I think.

After a few days he said that it was one of the most fun games he's played in a while and being able to play a game with me was making it that much better. He was looking forward to the weekend when he was planning on making the push to 20 and then deciding if he wanted to continue with the full game or not. I was sure he was hooked and I smiled.

Then disaster struck. Between a number of factors, his whole weekend got pulled out from under him and he didn't get to play at all. Then work started back up, leaving only weekends available. (His trial expired on a Wednesday.) He said that, while it was fun, he could too easily imagine that happening enough times in a month that he wouldn't be able to play enough to make the subscription fee worth it. But he was heartened to know that the game would save his progress indefinitely in case he ever changed his mind.

I couldn't argue with that. No use in paying for a game you couldn't find time to play.

This was all during the first week of January.

A week and a half ago I called my dad for some help with my taxes. Some of the new homeowner stuff was a little confusing to me, as this was my first year owning a home. After we got all my questions answered, he mentioned that he had gone out and picked up his own retail copy of WoW and upgraded to a full account. He's going to stay on a month-to-month (non auto-renewing) subscription for now, but I have a feeling that as long as he finds a few hours a weekend to play, it won't be long before he's running around Northrend.

I checked the Armory yesterday. My Paladin is now 5 levels behind him. Time to catch up...

Monday, February 22, 2010


I finally edited my post regarding Armor Penetration gear lists. I made some silly mistakes and assumptions. Those are fixed now and new gear lists have been generated. That extra 70 ArPen removed a lot of room for variety. There's still a ton when you're raiding the higher content, but it severely limited the choices for casuals.

Looks like there was a lot of WoW news over the past 4 days that I missed while I was up enjoying a ski weekend. I'll try to catch up on it and see if there's anything overly pertinent to Druids as of yet, or just anything that may be of good general interest.

Friday, February 19, 2010

All my classes

So as was mentioned in my post the other day, before settling on my Druid as my main, I tried a Hunter and a Warrior. As you can see up at the top of the page here, I currently have said Druid, plus a Shaman, Hunter, Priest, and DK.

But in four years, I've played almost everything once and I have opinions on all of it.

Druid - Obviously my favorite. I've never been anything but Feral. I spent all my initial leveling time (1-70--started in vanilla, but didn't make 60 before BC) as a Cat. It wasn't until I decided I wanted to try this raiding thing that I specced more towards the Bear side. With the advent of Dual specs I did a little happy dance because I could spec specifically for both instead of gimping a spec or my ability to perform a certain role. While more of my current time and knowledge is tuned to Bear tanking, Cat DPS is still my first love and I'd never complain about going back to it near-full time.

Shaman - The only other class I've ever gotten to max level. I do all my leveling in Enhancement, which I find to be a ton of fun. Sometimes more than Cat DPS. But my Shaman's main role (and my purpose for getting him to the level cap) was to be a back-up raid healer. I picked a Shaman because it's healing style seemed most appealing based on my limited knowledge of the different healing classes when I rolled him. I haven't been disappointed, either. Raid healing on Dal is a lot of fun and a great change of pace from the 3 melee specs I have across my two main toons.

Hunter - As mentioned in a previous post, my first toon ever was a Tauren Hunter, and it got me to buy the game for myself. As far as DPS goes I still prefer melee, but the complexities of balancing what my pet is doing along with what I'm doing is a unique mechanic that I enjoy. Plus I'll never complain about having a personal tank that takes my every order and can't sass when he dies and I'm halfway across the map running my butt off. Right now I've been neglecting my Hunter because I think it's going to be my Worgen class when I start leveling through Cataclysm, so I don't really want to spend my game time continuing to work on my current one.

Death Knight - I waited a long time after Wrath dropped to finally create my Death Knight. Initially I was only interested in playing through the starter quests. Afterall, I already had two characters that could do melee dps. Why would I need a 3rd? But the playstyle is still unique and fun. Plus it's my only 2H melee class. For the longest time, this was my unguilded "escape" toon. The one I could play when I wanted to WoW but wanted to avoid the guild for whatever reason. When I got serious about getting him to the cap, I brought him into the guild. Still haven't reached the cap, though. Been busy with ICC. I think I might eventually turn this guy into a PvP toon and use him when rated BGs drop.

Priest - Caster classes aren't and never have been my thing. No matter what game I've ever played that has the classic fantasy archetypes, I just haven't enjoyed casters. But I wanted to give them a shot in WoW. I created this toon when my partner and I (who haven't actually played together-together since the early days of BC) decided we wanted to level a couple of toons in tandem. He picked a Lock, I picked a Priest. I have to say, I've found Shadow to be a ton of fun. Though I'm sure that's due in no small part to the fact that I get to play this toon with somebody I care about. And that he brings a blueberry tank into the mix that allows us to not have to worry about silly things like survivability as we level.

Paladin - I've tried leveling a Paladin on three separate occasions. The first didn't make it out of the starter zones and was deleted. The second made it to level 10 and is now my bank alt. The third is currently level 14, and the only reason he made it that far is that I was trying to keep pace with my dad's Warrior while I had him on a trial account. This third attempt really made me understand why I can't level a Paladin. I'm sure they're a lot of fun at high levels, but in the lower range (at least as far as level 14) they're boring as hell. The only thing they really do is auto-attack and heal. I can understand that up to level 5. Maybe even 10. But by 14, combat really should be more active.

Rogue - I've tried a Rogue once. He was undead. I managed to get him to Taren Mill before I gave up and I haven't tried again. I think this is due to three factors. 1) I already have a toon that uses the Energy/Combo Point mechanic. 2) I already have a dual-wielding melee-capable toon. 3) My rogue will forever be linked with the misery I felt when trying a PvP server for the first and only time.

Warrior - As mentioned in that earlier post, my first-ever toon of my own was a Warrior. I think if I had understood the Rage mechanic more and also realized that I really needed levels to see the survivability difference between classes back then, that he might have made it as my main. Somewhat recently I did try rerolling one, but I had little incentive to work on him because I already had a Rage tank, a dual-wielding melee-capable toon, and a 2H melee-capable toon at much higher levels. Fittingly, this second warrior (just like my first) made it to Westfall before I deleted him.

Mage - Back when I was leveling Saniel through Dustwallow, I was amazed as I watched a Frost Mage pull and kill packs of almost a dozen spiders, all higher level than him. Drink, repeat. As a toon that had to go through my targets one at a time, I was floored by this. I wanted to try. I don't think I made it to level 8. Too much drinking and too much dieing for my tastes.

Warlock - This is the only class to date that I haven't even tried. And I honestly don't have any real desire to do so. Maybe someday, if I'm bored. But I still have more that I want to accomplish with my active toons than I have time to accomplish it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

By the light of the moon!

Lunar Festival is here. It's one of my favorite WoW holidays. I know not everyone likes it, but I enjoy when Blizz gives me an excuse to go see the old world again. Plus we know where the elders are. It's not like you're dependent on the RNG to complete this holiday activity. And we get to fight one of the coolest looking mobs in all of WoW (I think).

But there's another great thing about this holiday. If you're still not Exalted with all your faction cities (I'm looking at you, Gnomeregan...hate you), this holiday is a blessing!

There's 75 Elders scattered across Azeroth (and Outland). Each time you honor one, you will receive 75 rep with every single one of your faction cities. All said and done, that's a cool 5,625 reputation under your belt. For not a whole heck of a lot of work.

There's basically 3 reasons anyone would want to be Exalted with all their faction cities.
  1. Mounts; whether your just want to collect them 'cause they strike your fancy or you're actively pursuing the mount achievements.
  2. You're attempting to get one of the coolest and (currently) rarest titles in the game.
  3. You want access to the items sold by Evniki Kapsalis at the Argent Tourney (via Exalted Argent Champion of the Alliance (or Horde).
Plus, let's not forget that Cataclysm is right around the corner. Pretty soon the old Azeroth we've come to know over the last 5 years is going to be given a complete face-lift. Why not take one of the last chances you're going to get to explore it?

You have almost 3 weeks to find them all, so it's not like you have to pack it into one crazy play session. You can run off and tackle a few a day until you're done. I don't think it's unreasonable to be able to get anywhere from 5-8 in an hour of solid hunting. Or (if you're a DPS) Elder hunting is a great way to pass the time while queueing for dungeons.

So if you're looking for that rep, get to it!

Finally, a quick note: I'm still working on redoing Thursday's post. I made a completely silly mistake--as pointed out by one commenter--and it invalidated the majority of the post. Hopefully I can get that done this evening sometime. I was skiing all weekend and I'm slammed at work the next two days before taking another weekend ski trip.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So many choices!

So let's say you're a pretty little kitty--I mean fierce--let's say you're a fierce little kitty running around Azeroth. While you're running around you see a boss mob and you think to yourself, "Self, I know when I make him bleed his armor doesn't do anything to help him. But wouldn't it be awesome if my claws and teeth could go right through his armor like Ragnaros's mace through butter? Mmmm...butter...
"Anyway, I wonder what that would take?"

Interesting question, and one I've been wondering for myself. So I did some research. I'd like to share it with you. Because I'm nice like that. And I'm high on Girl Scout cookies. But I don't share those. So don't ask.

I'm not going to go over the full math and mechanics of Armor Penetration (ArPen) with you because there's eleventy-thousand write-ups out there for it already and I doubt I could do a better job explaining it than most of them. What I will give you is the following numbers:

Hard cap for ArPen is 1,399.57272. But the game engine rounds up to whole numbers, which means you need 1,400 ArPen for your teeth and claws to completely ignore a raid boss's armor.

"But wait," you say. "I'm a Druid and I have this nifty Faerie Fire spell that reduces an enemy's armor." How astute of you. Gold star. Because you're so awesome, your ArPen cap is a mere 1,330. (Edit: Silly mistake on my part, getting Armor Reduction confused with Armor Penetration. I should know better. You're still awesome, but Faerie Fire is no help here. Cap is still 1,400. Soft-cap numbers below have been modified appropriately.) On top of that you'll want to make sure you maintain your 263 Hit (230 if you have a Draenei in your raid) and 132 Expertise rating caps so that you're not missing or having your attacks dodged.

So how to get there? Can you get there?

Actually, yes. Yes you can. I found one combination of 15 ArPen-granting, non-Heroic Mode items currently in the game and available for your Druidy self to wear that, when gemmed right, will top off all 3 mentioned stats and leave you with 2 gems slots to spare. But you have to be very dedicated, really lucky with the /roll, and in a guild capable of running ICC 25 to accomplish that.

Good news: You don't have to hit the hard cap! There's a number of soft-caps out there. How do you determine the various ArPen soft-caps? Well, you first have to obtain and equip one of the following:
Grim Toll (788 Soft-cap)
Mjolnir Runestone (735 Soft-cap)
Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (722 Soft-Cap)
Deathbringer's Will (600 ArPen proc + 155 ArPen on Trinket => 575 Soft-cap)
(Edit: Bornakk posted on Jan 6 that the ArPen proc on Deathbringer's Will had been replaced with a Haste proc. I missed that.)

Then you take the potential ArPen proc and subtract that from 1,400. Because I'm still nice (and high) I've already done it for you.

Most of those are pretty obtainable without a crapton of effort.

I went through and built up a list of Druid-equippable gear that you can get from the following sources:
  • ICC 25 Normal
  • ICC 10 Normal
  • ToC 25 Normal
  • ToC 10 Normal
  • Emblems of Frost
  • Emblems of Triumph
  • ICC Heroic Dungeons
  • Ulduar/Naxx bosses you might be killing during weekly raid quests
  • Leatherworking patterns
I feel the majority of players will have access to these sources. Some are definitely harder to obtain than others, but it's stuff that's getting run by guilds and pugs on a regular basis.

So get ready. Here's your list:
Sanctified Lasherwave Raiment9200R,YVanquisher's Mark of Sanctification
Choking Hauberk89590RMarwyn (H HoR)
Lasherweave Raiment8000R,Y95 Emblems of Frost
Chestguard of the Frigid Noose7900R,Y,BLady Deathwhisper (ICC 10)
Knightbane Carapace74820R,Y,BLeatherworking
Armor of Shifting Shadows5900R,YTwin Val'kyr (ToC 10)
Taldarams' Soft Slippers71002RBlood Princes (ICC 10)
Frostbitten Fur Boots64002YMarrowgar (ICC 25)
Blighted Leather Footpads6300XEscape Event (H HoR)
Treads of the Icewalker59670YFaction Champs (ToC 25)
Aldiana's Gloves of Secrecy8000R,YRotface (ICC 25)
Sanctified Lasherweave Handgrips8000RVanquisher's Mark of Sanctification
Lasherweave Handgrips7100R60 Emblems of Frost
Cat Burglar's Grips64002Y60 Emblems of Frost
Scourge Stranglers6300R,YDeathbringer Saurfang (ICC 10)
Gloves of the Silver Assassin5400RFaction Champs (ToC 10)
Sanctified Lasherweave Headguard9200RVanquisher's Mark of Sanctification
Discarded Bag of Entrails8800YProfessor Putricide (ICC 10)
Lasherweave Headguard8000R95 Emblems of Frost
Hood of Lethal Intent74820Y75 Emblems of Triumph
Sanctified Lasherweave Legguards108092R,YVanquisher's Mark of Sanctification
Bladeborn Leggings10000R,Y,BLeatherworking
Lasherweave Legguards96080R,Y95 Emblems of Frost
Ivory-Inlaid Leggings60002R, YBlood Queen Lana'thel (ICC 10)
Sanctified Lasherweave Shoulderpads7200RVanquisher's Mark of Sanctification
Skinned Whelp Shoulders71002RValithria Dreamwalker (ICC 10)
Lasherweave Shoulderpads6300R60 Emblems of Frost
Duskstalker Shoulderpads5900Y45 Emblems of Triumph
Malfurion's Shoulderpads of Triumph5900Y45 Emblems of Frost, 1 Trophy of the Crusade
Malfurion's Shoulderpads of Conquest5200Y30 Emblems of Triumph
Vengeful Noose8000R,Y60 Emblems of Frost
Astrylian's Sutured Cinch6400R,BProfessor Putricide (ICC 25)
Toskk's Maximized Wristguards6000YDeathbringer Saurfang (ICC 25)
Bracers of Swift Death4200BLeatherworking
Chewed Leather Wristguards41460XIck (H PoS)
Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape5200B50 Emblems of Frost
Drape of the Drakerider3600XRazorscale (Uld 25)
Sindragosa's Cruel Claw6000BSindragosa (ICC 25)
Rimetooth Pendant5300YSindragosa (ICC 10)
Collar of Ceaseless Torment4200XBeasts of Northrend (ToC 10)
Broach of the Wailing Night4600X19 Emblems of Conquest
Frostbrood Sapphire Ring6000RValithria Dreamwalker (ICC 25)
Saurfang's Cold-Forged Band5300YDeathbringer Saurfang (ICC 10)
Dexterous Brightstone Ring5000X35 Emblems of Triumph
Cindershard Ring46420XIgnis (Uld 25)
Planestalker Signet39380YJaraxxus (ToC 10)
Band of Stained Souls3600XTyrannus (H PoS)
Tainted Twig of Nordrassil9000R,YLich King (ICC 10)
Lupine Longstaff8200BTwin Val'kyr (ToC 25)
Deathbringer's Will15500XDeathbringer Saurfang (ICC 25)
Needle-Encrusted Scorpion0830XDevourer of Souls (H FoS)
Mjolnir Runestone000XThorim (Uld 10)
Grim Toll0830XGothik, Grobbulus, Heigan, Maexxna (Naxx 25)
Banner of Victory8400XPaletress (N ToC5)

I list the Alliance drops from ToC, but the Horde equivalents drop off the same bosses and have the same stats. Also note that the Vanquisher's Mark of Sanctifications drop from Deathbringer Saurfang, Professor Putricide, Blood Queen Lana'Thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King in ICC 25. To get the items that require them, you also need to have purchased and trade in the lower-level equivalents.

So now there's a whole slew of possibilities. You can look at the above list of gear, set your goals, determine what you have a reasonable shot of getting, and go from there. But let's look at a couple basic scenarios.

First, some assumptions:
  1. I'm going to use the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (722 Soft-cap) in all the examples. It's probably the easiest of the four trinkets to get and the one I assume most people will have.
  2. These numbers don't include nomming some Hearty Rhino. It's a good source of ArPen, but one that needs constant replenishing. So I don't want to automatically add it to the calculations.
  3. Sunder Armor and/or Expose Armor are not considered. This is for your personal ArPen cap. Obviously if you expect to always have these debuffs up in your raids, you can lower your cap numbers by another 280. (Edit: Same silly mistake as with FF.)
  4. I'm not going to worry about hitting the Hit or Expertise caps. I'll get you to the ArPen cap in these lists. You're responsible for figuring out how to use other gear, gems, and enchants to hit the other caps.
Okay, so first example. Let's say you want to be capped before ever stepping foot into a raid. Just farming badges and Heroic drops. You can do that!

Here's one way:
Head - Hood of Lethal Intent (75 Emblems of Triumph)
Shoulders - Duskstalker Shoulderpads (45 Emblems of Triumph)
Chest - Knightbane Carapace (Leatherworking)
Bracers - Bracers of Swift Death (Leatherworking)
Belt - Vengeful Noose (60 Emblems of Frost)
Boots - Blighted Leather Footpads (Escape Event (H HoR))
Finger - Dexterous Brightstone Ring (35 Emblems of Triumph)
Finger - Band of Stained Souls (Tyrannus (H PoS))
Trinket - Banner of Victory (Paletress (N ToC5))
8 Fractured Cardinal Rubies
Pretty reasonable and only one piece of Frost Emblem gear. Though if you're not raiding that 60 will take a month of running a daily random.

Here's another:
Head - Hood of Lethal Intent (75 Emblems of Triumph)
Shoulders - Duskstalker Shoulderpads (45 Emblems of Triumph)
Chest - Knightbane Carapace (Leatherworking)
Bracers - Bracers of Swift Death (Leatherworking)
Legs - Lasherweave Legguards (95 Emblems of Frost)
Boots - Blighted Leather Footpads (Escape Event (H HoR))
Finger - Dexterous Brightstone Ring (35 Emblems of Triumph)
Trinket - Banner of Victory (Paletress (N ToC5))
9 Fractured Cardinal Rubies
This one takes fewer pieces of gear, but the trade-off is going from a
60 Frost Emblem piece to a 95 Frost Emblem piece, which will increase
the amount of farming needed.

You can go this way, too:
Head - Hood of Lethal Intent (75 Emblems of Triumph)
Shoulders - Duskstalker Shoulderpads (45 Emblems of Triumph)
Chest - Knightbane Carapace (Leatherworking)
Bracers - Bracers of Swift Death (Leatherworking)
Legs - Bladeborn Leggings (Leatherworking)
Boots - Blighted Leather Footpads (Escape Event (H HoR))
Finger - Dexterous Brightstone Ring (35 Emblems of Triumph)
Finger - Band of Stained Souls (Tyrannus (H PoS))
Trinket - Banner of Victory (Paletress (N ToC5))
7 Fractured Cardinal Rubies
No Frost Badge gear in this one, but it does have the Bladeborn Leggings, which are going to run you a lot of Frost Emblems or a small fortune on the AH for the Primordial Saronite.

Maybe your guild is running 10-man raids, so you have access to those pieces. Let's say, for instance, that ToC 10 and Lower ICC 10 are pretty easy for your group to clear. Plus the Frost Emblems will be coming in a little faster, so maybe you can depend on having more than one piece of Emblem gear available to you. This is one combination you can try for:
Shoulders - Lasherweave Shoulderpads (60 Emblems of Frost)
Chest - Knightbane Carapace (Leatherworking)
Bracers - Chewed Leather Wristguards (Ick (H PoS))
Legs - Bladeborn Leggings (Leatherworking)
Boots - Blighted Leather Footpads (Escape Event (H HoR))
Neck - Collar of Ceaseless Torment (Beasts of Northrend (ToC 10))
Finger - Planestalker Signet (Jaraxxus (ToC 10))
Finger - Band of Stained Souls (Tyrannus (H PoS))
Trinket - Banner of Victory (Paletress (N ToC5))
9 Fractured Cardinal Rubies

Here's a good one that gives your your 2-piece T10 Bonus:
Head - Hood of Lethal Intent (75 Emblems of Triumph)
Shoulders - Duskstalker Shoulderpads (45 Emblems of Triumph)
Chest - Chestguard of the Frigid Noose (Lady Deathwhisper (ICC 10))
Bracers - Chewed Leather Wristguards (Ick (H PoS))
Belt - Vengeful Noose (60 Emblems of Frost)
Legs - Lasherweave Legguards (95 Emblems of Frost)
Finger - Saurfang's Cold-Forged Band (Deathbringer Saurfang (ICC 10))
Finger - Band of Stained Souls (Tyrannus (H PoS))
Trinket - Banner of Victory (Paletress (N ToC5))
6 Fractured Cardinal Rubies

And if you're in a guild that has full access to 10- and 25-man raid content? Here's one that will work and get you your 4-piece T10 bonus:
Head - Sanctified Lasherweave Headguard (Vanquisher's Mark of Sanctification)
Chest - Sanctified Lasherwave Raiment (Vanquisher's Mark of
Bracers - Toskk's Maximized Wristguards (Deathbringer Saurfang (ICC 25))
Hands - Sanctified Lasherweave Handgrips (Vanquisher's Mark of
Belt - Astrylian's Sutured Cinch (Professor Putricide (ICC 25))
Legs - Sanctified Lasherweave Legguards (Vanquisher's Mark of
Boots - Taldarams' Soft Slippers (Blood Princes (ICC 10))
Trinket - Deathbringer's Will (Deathbringer Saurfang (ICC 25))
0 Fractured Cardinal Rubies

All-in-all, there's over 15 million combinations of the gear I listed above, and literally tens-of-thousands of them that will get you to exactly any of the given soft-caps. I wrote a small program to find these combinations based on certain parameters, but you can probably whip out a pad and pencil and get pretty close on your own.

Just remember that if you have to go over the soft-cap, you don't want to go over by too much. Every point you go over is a point wasted off your proc and a point that could have been spent on other itemization.

Also, it's worth noting that you can get the Sweet Perfume Broach from Apothecary Hummel during Love is in the Air right now. It's an exact duplicate of the Broach of the Wailing Night. So if you want that but don't want to drop the 19 Emblems of Conquest on it, start hitting him up!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have cookies calling my name.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How'd you get started?

I posted this on my guild's forum's a couple months back, but it's still one of those fun things to think about.

Way back in the day my partner got pulled into WoW by virtue of living in a house where all his roommates played. It was a good way for them to bond and do something together that they all enjoyed. At the time we lived a few cities apart and really only had weekends together. But Sundays were football days (still are). So while I was sitting on the couch from 11 to 5:30 watching whatever CBS and FOX were collectively offering that day, he'd be sitting next to me WoWing away on his laptop.

Of course, during commercial breaks I'd lean over and watch what he was doing. I had no interest in playing myself--not because it didn't look fun, but because I swore up and down that I would never pay a monthly fee to play a game I already owned. I could understand paying a monthly fee for a persistent game, but then I believed I shouldn't have to pay $40 for the initial retail offering. Principle. You know. (Yeah, I was young and stupid.)

He kept trying to get me into the game. "Just try it. You'll like it," he said. I, of course, recognized this tactic from my D.A.R.E. days back in 3rd grade and stood my ground against addictive substances. "No," I'd say. But I'd still watch until the commercials were over and I could once again hide in the relative safety of manly athletic activity.

But he never relented in his assault and one day I finally cracked and gave in, secure in the knowledge that if I tried it and turned it away I would be safe from further pressure. This all occurred immediately upon the end of the afternoon game when my defenses were at their lowest. (That's what I told myself, anyway.)

So I took over his laptop and played around the character creation screen until I was set up with a brand new, shiny Tauren Hunter. Several hours later (with barely enough of a break to eat dinner) I still retained control of his laptop and had reached level 12. My D.A.R.E. officer would be disappointed.

I already realized I was going to continue to play this game. The only retail store still open at that hour was Walmart and so that's where I ended up. I used the self-checkout stand so that no one could see my shame, but I still felt every eye in the store watching me. Judging. I had principles, dammit. I wasn't supposed to play this game. And here I was, reneging.

There were many people I knew playing the game that I never wanted to have to worry about playing with and they all played Horde, so I had to abandon the Tauren (unarguably my favorite race) and find something Alliance side. My partner played a Hunter, so to keep things different I decided to forgo that as well. I ended up with a Human Warrior, Maarken.

Over the next couple weeks, I became very unenamored with that Warrior. I still didn't understand much about the game and I had a very "Final Fantasy" view of how a warrior should work: I should be able to take the hits all day long an keep rolling. Anyone who's played a warrior at low levels is laughing at that statement. Blizz's idea of low-level survivability difference between a warrior and, say, a mage is that a warrior can take 7 hits before dying instead of 5 and they'll only find themselves in unmanageable situations every 45 steps instead of every 20. (Despite this, I still think the first 15 levels are the most fun on any that I know what to expect.)

Add to this that I didn't really understand or enjoy the Rage mechanic and...yeah. Maarken was laid to rest in Westfall, somewhere around level 15.

20 minutes after that, Saniel awoke from the Emerald Dream to begin his defense of Azeroth. He's been going on ever since.

So what about you, readers? How did you get started? What was your first toon and if it wasn't your current main, when did that switch happen?

Incidentally, a few of you may have glanced at my character roster and noticed that Maarken isn't quite as dead as I left him. Apparently the Lich King saw more in him than I did...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bitter, party of one?

So I have this noob in my guild, right? I'm not making fun of's a self-professed title. One he wears proudly. I'm happy to oblige.

Anyway, this noob is really starting to piss me off. A couple weeks ago, we finally got The Twilight Zone (10 man). Black Drake drops, he wins the roll.

Earlier his week we got a group to try again. He flys in on the Blue Drake (that can now be obtained as a rare drop after defeating Eregos in a random Oc run).

Many months back, Skadi dropped the Blue Protodrake. Only time I've ever seen it drop. The noob was on that same run. He won the roll.

He's managed to fish up the sea turtle.

In the guilty-by-association category (because I'm mad, so logic no longer applies): his wife has gotten 3 (three!) green protodrakes, and his brother got one on the first try.

But which one of us is 87/100 on Mountain 'o Mounts and is furiously trying to complete it before Cata drops? Oh yeah...that'd be me. I had my Albino before Wrath came around and I want to finish this achievement!

And when I expressed these feelings to him over vent, do you know what his response was?

"I'm not trying to get all these." Yeah. Wrong answer.

So let me apologize for not feeling the least bit of sympathy when said noob has a QQ fest over Lower Spire loot drops.

Seriously. No love.


Friday, February 5, 2010

A Bear's guide to ICC: Festergut

Like Deathbringer Saurfang, Festergut is a pretty straight-forward fight for tanks. We don't have to do a whole lot other than tank him in a single spot. By and large this fight is a DPS check.

During the entirety of the fight, the ground is going to be covered in Gaseous Blight (orange poison cloud) that will tick damage on the whole raid. There's nothing you can do about this, but be aware that you will not be the sole focus of your healers (at first).

There is going to be some tank swapping in this fight. Festergut will stack Gastric Bloat on the tank. If it reaches 10 stacks you die a horrible explodey death and take anyone within 10 yards with you. This is bad. But you do get a 10% damage buff from each stack. This is good. The idea is to let this get up to 9 stacks and then taunt-swap.

As a Feral you really want to be the first tank to take these stacks. Festergut's enrage timer is pretty short. There's enough time to taunt-swap twice. And if your DPS is fast enough it'll only happen once. If you tank Festergut first you can drop into Cat form after he's taunted off you and have a full 100 seconds of additional 90% damage. In my tank gear and spec this equates to almost the damage I would normally be doing in my DPS gear and spec. But it's fun to be able to put up those kind of numbers with a gimped rotation and Energy regen rate.

While you're DPSing make sure you're watching the Bloat stacks on your other tank and be ready to shift and taunt when they get to 9. Also, watch your threat. Even though you're in cat, until the other tank gets a few stacks of the Bloat you'll be riding the threat limit.

On a regular interval Festergut will Inhale Blight, which reduces the ticking damage of the gas in the room by 30%, but also increases his damage and attack speed by 30%. He'll do this 3 times. If you're tanking during the period of the third inhale you'll want to start managing your cooldowns to help your healers. Don't pop them all at once. You need to drag them out. Usually I start with Barkskin. When it has about 3 seconds left I'll pop Survival Instincts. When that's a couple seconds from expiring I'll use Frenzied Regeneration. That will usually last through the vast majority of the 3rd inhale period.

When the time comes, instead of a 4th inhale Festergut will exhale all the blight he's sucked in (Pungent Blight). Ideally you (and the rest of your raid) will have 3 stacks of Innoculation from a spore mechanic going on in this fight and that 50K damage will be reduced to something very manageable.

The spores will spawn at interval on two different players. When they do you'll want your ranged to group on one and your melee on another. At times this may require one of your raid members to run out to the ranged or in close with the melee. If you're in cat at the time and get this, run forward just a little to stand right between Festergut's legs so that the spore will also innoculate the tank when it bursts. Also be ready in case your raid decides you need to be the one to run out to the ranged. If you're the tank and you get this, all the melee needs to shift closer to you until the spore pops.

Finally, this won't affect you directly, but Festergut will be casting Vile Gas on random raid members. If you have at least 3 people in your raid at range it will never hit the melee. You want to make sure this is the case. The player that gets Vile Gas (and any other player within 8 yards of them) will start puking for 6 seconds and will be unable to do anything during that time. It's essentially a stun. Just more disgusting. Depending on who you have standing at range this could be a healer. Just be aware and be ready to react appropriately, especially if there's multiple Inhales active.

Obviously with needing to clump together for the spores and stay spread out for the Vile Gas, anyone at range (potentially healers) is going to be moving around a lot. Just be aware of this and manage appropriately.

On 10-man Festergut will drop Plague-Soaked Leggings which are very nice for tanking. He can also drop the Cloak of Many Skins, though it's only okay for you. Honestly, by the time you're tanking Festergut, you should already have the Frost Emblem cloak, and that's about as good as it's going to get for Bears.

On 25-man you can look forward to Distant Land (do want!!) and the Gangrenous Leggings.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog. Here is his Festergut strat.

A Bear's guide to ICC: Precious and Stinky

This is going to be fairly quick, but I feel like covering these two is worth their own brief post. They're closer to a mini-boss status than they are to "trash mob." Killing these two will probably take your guild a few minutes each and the fights can get challenging if you're not careful.

Just like Gluth did in Naxx, both of these dog...things will drop Mortal Wounds on the tanks and Decimates on the raid, so healers have to be vigilant. The Mortal Wound debuffs stack fairly quickly. You need to watch your debuffs and taunt off your fellow tank the moment yours drops. This is usually in the 7-9 stack range, so it can get tense.

Once you've cleared the trash immediately outside the Plagueworks, made your way up the stairs, and chopped down the Decaying Colossus, Stinky will be your next target. He (she? it?) pats along the corridor that goes to the left and leads to Festergut. He's also green.

Of the two plague pets, Stinky is the easier and the one you'll want to tackle first. Pull him with a Faerie Fire and drag him out onto the landing. The only thing going on in this fight other than the two abilities mentioned above is Plague Stench, and AoE ability that will constantly tick damage across the raid. (How foul does a smell have to be to tick 1500 HP?)

It stands to reason that if I'm using "to the left" and "green" to describe Stinky, then Precious can be identified because he's "to the right" and "not green." Joyous.

Precious does not smell so bad that you take damage for it, but he does summon a sizable group of adds on a regular interval. They don't hit hard and they don't have a lot of hit points, but you do want to get them down. The general idea is for the raid to stack on the tanks so we can AoE snag the adds. Then the DPS will AoE them down. So when they spawn, start Swiping like crazy.

And that's pretty much it. Once you get the basic idea down, they're simple. But they caused enough headache the first time we ran through that I thought it was worth mentioning here.


I just had a terrible thought. What if Stinky and Precious aren't "he" and "he"? What if it's "he" and "she"? And Gluth is their...oh god. Can undead even do that? And they have those open abdomens. Oh god. Oh god. I think I just threw up a little...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trials of the Commander

Leading raids in a casual guild such as the one I'm in is a tough thing. We have a very strict policy about who can raid in our guild: If you want to raid, show up and you'll get a chance.

That's it.

We don't enforce DPS minimums. We don't require you to come with certain specs. Show up in quest blues? We'll ask you to DPS instead of tank or heal until you get geared up, but you can go. Only run with us once every two months? That's fine. There's probably room for you anyway. Just joined the guild yesterday? Same. Keep dying in the fire? We're not going to kick you. Show up late or have to go early? Life's more important. We understand.

Part of this is out of necessity. Our guild is continually hovering around that critical line of 25 active raiders. In fact, we spent most of this past year below it, focusing on 10 man content instead. Right now I think we're at 27. It doesn't take many people not showing up for us to have trouble filling runs.

A larger part, though, is that we truly believe that everybody should get a chance to see the inside of a raid. Now more than ever, perhaps. This is a game. It's supposed to be fun. Raids are a huge part of that fun for a lot of people, and we don't think anyone should arbitrarily be denied a chance at having that fun.

What this means, of course, is that our 25-man progression is usually a tier behind our 10-man progression. And right now, that's probably only due to the way that Emblems of Triumph rain down on us with wanton abandon. If we still had to run people through Naxx and Ulduar to get them ready for ToC, we wouldn't have a prayer.

The other thing this means is that our core raiders--the ones that are regularly included in our 10-man progression--have to significantly outgear encounters in order to make up for some of the carrying we have to do.

While the "everyone gets a chance" philosophy that I agree with and embrace (and one of the reasons I love my guild), it's also a really hard philosophy to plan and run a raid around.

There's no certainty and no balance. I don't know who's going to be in the raid and what role they're hoping to play until we've sent out all the invites. We had a run some time ago where we had 6 tanks, 8 healers, and 12 DPS, 4 of which were ranged. Some of these people we were able to switch to other specs or toons to fill some of the gaps and we managed. We still had 2 tanks DPSing in tank gear and spec because that's all they had, but they couldn't take the hits from bosses at that level.

Despite being the second easiest fight in ToC as far as execution is concerned (I believe), we still can't get Anub'Arak because we can't beat the enrage timer. I suppose it's less frustrating to hit the enrage timer with 21 of your 23 raid members still alive than to continually wipe on the first phase 2 or something like that. But it's still not easy. (Thaddius was a huge roadblock for us in 25-man for the same reason.)

Outside of vent, well...let's just say I'm thankful for PTT and wine. But while in Vent and typing in gchat I have to be supportive and encouraging and be very general when correcting mistakes. ("Alright guys, a pretty good attempt there. We made a lot of progress over the last one. Just remember that casters need to stay at range and that the fire will kill you in about 3 ticks if you don't get out of it.") Even if I see a lot of changes that need to be made, I can only throw out about two at a time. Wait until they're no longer problems and then start trying to correct others. Small steps.

At the end of a run that's not ultimately successful, I have to point out the obvious without pointing fingers. ("Good job tonight, guys. Four bosses down in a couple hours and we rocked Faction Champs this week. We're still hitting the enrage timer on Anub with most of our raid alive, though, which means our DPS is too low. I know we try to not to make a big deal about things like that in this guild, but if we want to down this boss, we have to collectively raise our DPS. We have Officers and Veterans who are knowledgeable about every class, so please don't hesitate to approach them and ask for advice on how to raise your numbers. And keep running heroics for badges and gear upgrades.")

Next week rolls around and...well...second verse, same as the first.

This may all sound like a huge QQ fest. And to some extent, I suppose it is. As I said above, this is a game and it's supposed to be fun. So why do I spend two nights a week stressing myself out for little personal gain? Because when it's all over I'll get whispers from people telling me how much fun they had and how awesome it is that they got a chance to roll into ToC and down some big, bad bosses. I'll get thanks for giving them a chance when a lot of guilds wouldn't. I get whispers from someone who was in the world-third AQ gate-opening guild back in the day letting me know that our laid-back, no-pressure style has made raiding enjoyable again. (Do you know how much I was stressing raid leading someone like that when I found out? And they complimented me. Blew my mind.)

At the end of the night, when the wine glass is empty (for the second time) and Vent's closed down, those are the things that make it all worth it for me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I never wanted to be a raid leader

Over the course of the last week or so--as a result our continued un-success at bringing down Rotface and my inability to figure out exactly why--I've started thinking back to how I ended up as a raid leader anyway.

I never wanted to be a raid leader. It's not a position I strived to obtain. And more times than not, I feel woefully inadequate at doing it. I'm sure my guildmates will chide me for saying so, but it's true.

It started back when I was an officer of a different guild (a position I think I was given for little reason other than I was reliably online and playing the game) and we started doing joint runs with my current guild because neither could field 25-man teams on their own to take on Gruul and Magtheridon. During off-nights we would often get Kara teams together to hone our skills and gear as many people up as possible.

In my early days in Kara I had no idea what was going on. I had never raided before. I'd barely run Heroics (I entered Kara in near-full epic BG PvP gear). I only had the faintest idea of concepts like aggro. I knew, as a Feral, if I wanted to raid I was probably going to have to tank, although I'd only run cat to that point. Basically I was an utter noob.

At first it was pretty overwhelming. And it didn't help that at the start of each fight I'd get a quick synopsis of what was going to happen and then we'd just go. During the battle there were no reminders of what was happening. And since I'd never seen them before, I just had to try and keep up and remember as best I could.

Slowly I learned the fights. I learned how group mechanics work. I learned, at least to a small degree, what each class/spec could and couldn't do.

As time went on, the people who I had traditionally considered to be our raid leaders didn't log on very much. And I found myself in Kara groups where everyone was just kinda running around and trying to stay together, and there was no definitive plan of action through the whole thing.

I'm the type of guy that's 100% okay with sitting back, letting someone else take the reigns, and doing what I'm told to do. In fact, I honestly prefer it--just let me worry about me and quietly do my job the best I can. But when there's a void there, I'm also the kind of person that will step up and fill it until someone else comes along that can do it as good or better than me (which I still don't think takes much).

So in these Kara groups I suddenly found myself being the one to explain the fights. And while the fights were going on, I continued to call out instructions and reminders. This carried on to Gruul as well. And by the time we started making serious attempts at Magtheridon, I found I was actively researching the battles ahead of time so that I could help coordinate what 25 people across 2 different guilds were trying to do.

Eventually my old guild kinda fell apart and we all merged into the other (now current) guild. I was grandfathered in as an Officer and became one of the two defacto raid leaders (we now have a third as well).

It all just sort of happened. Quickly and silently and without forethought or planning, I found myself being that guy that everyone else looks (listens?) to for direction. Some days I like it. Some days I really don't. But most of the time it's just there. One more aspect of this game I play with a bunch of strangers. And I'll continue to do my best at it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Invincible (music)

Anyone that knows me knows I'm a huge music fiend. I love music. All kinds. If I had to pick my top 3 passions, Games and Music would be two of them. Given that, I've been so excited over the last few years as game soundtracks have become a serious endeavor. True, Square's been at it for a long, long time with their excellent FF soundtracks. But the rest of the industry is catching up. So many times I'll stop playing whatever game I'm in the middle of and just listen to the music.

When Wrath was released I bought the Collector's Edition for one reason and one reason only: the CD. Everything else that came with it is nice, don't get me wrong. But I really only paid the extra $$$ for the CD. And every time one of those tracks pops up on my iPod, I just smile and geek out a little bit. Usually I can think of what I'd be doing in game in the areas where that music plays.

The music in WoW has always amazed me and I'm one of the few people I know that play with the music turned on (except in Stormwind). All the different themes and ideas. Although, to date, the single best piece of music written for the game has been in the Wrath opening cinematic. Even without the visuals and Terenas's voiceover, the music alone tells the story.

About a week ago, Blizz released this piece of music titled "Invincible." If you haven't heard it yet, go now and listen.

You can hear a lot of the same themes running through this piece as are in the opening cinematic, but they definitely take on a much more somber tone. And by "somber" I mean "downright sad."

Speculation and rumors are that this is the music that's going to run under the cinematic that plays when you defeat the Lich King in ICC, which would make sense. This definitely sounds like the music of a long-fought, but hollow victory.

Of course, all speculation will likely be confirmed tomorrow when 3.2.2 drops. I have no doubt said cinematic will be in the patch files. It's going to be really hard for me not to run off and watch it the moment it gets posted on YouTube, but I really want to try and wait to see it for the first time, in game, when our guild earns it. (Of course with another weekend of failed attempts on Rotface behind us, I don't know when that's going to be...)

In the mean time, I'm going to continue to listen to this over and over and over and try not to get a little teary each and every time.