Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pic is unrelated

This pretty much has nothing to do with anything. I just happened to come across it, and it's too awesome not to share.

via Beautiful Life

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

OMG OMG OMG was kind of an interesting weekend in the beta (that I'm still not in). Lots of little tidbits popping up on MMO-Champion that have had me smiling like an idiot every time I look over them.

#1 - Running Wild

How freaking cool is this? Basically, if you haven't been following the news, this is the new Worgen mount. Sort of.

Instead of actually getting a mount that you can buy, the Worgen get a racial ability. It has equal cast time to a mount summon and applies a mount aura. And while this ability is active, the Worgen can run on all fours at mounted speed.



(I am a little disappointed that this doesn't translate into more actual mounts for San to collect...because I do love my mounts. But I assume Alliance will get something else to balance out the numbers now available to the Horde.)

#2 - Sandstone Drake

Being the mount collector that I am, I was checking out some of the new ones listed. Then I saw the description on this one and immediately fell into a very unmanly style of clapping. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Take a closer look at the description of this mount. It transforms you into a drake that is capable of carrying a passenger.

Need a lift? Sure hang on just a second. *rustlerustlerustlepoof* There we go. Just hop on my back.

:D :D :D :D

#3 - Female Worgen Forms

This is actually not very fitting for this post, because it's not something I'm excited for. It's actually something I'm disappointed in.

There's already been a lot of comment on them, and here's what it boils down to. I'm okay that they're kind of feral. I'm okay with the fact that they're perpetually snarling. Fierce is good.

But the head shape is all wrong. And the eyes...good god, man, the eyes.

I think the most apt description yet is the person that said they look like deranged chihuahuas.

Try again, Blizz.

Update: I missed this before, but apparently there was a "fan render" put together after the first pass on the female Worgen to suggest improvements/changes. I believe this person is absolutely on the right track and fully endorse their ideas.

#4 - Peacebloom vs. Ghouls

MMO-Champion put up a whole slew of new achievements for me to start planning how to get. Among them were two very interesting ones.

Survive endless waves on Peacebloom vs. Ghouls? My...this sounds (not so) vaguely similar to another game that's sucked up hours and hours (and hours) of my life...

Then this video showed up today:

I think I may end up being the last person in my guild to hit level 81.

Just saying.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BA Shared Topic: The Best of Wrath

So the Shared Topic over on Blog Azeroth this week is to talk about our favorite _____ in Wrath.

No, seriously. It was that open-ended. Relevart suggested that we talk about our favorite ______ in Wrath.

I wasn't originally going to participate in this one. It was way too open-ended for my brain.

Oh my god! My favorite something? Of all the somethings in Wrath I have to pick my favorite one?

But then I read Windsoar's post on the topic and I really liked the way she handled it. So I'm going to play this the same way.

Favorite Armor Set:

Shaman, Tier 10

This was a close race. I also really liked the Tier 8 Warlock set (especially on male Orcs) and the Tier 8 Priest set (especially on Night Elves).

I think what put this set ahead for me is all the little details. The tusks and antlers. All the little icicles hanging off of it. The skull mask. And the shoulder effect is awesome.

Every bit of this set screams Northrend. Not just Icecrown. Not just the Lich King and the Scourge. But Northrend. I love it.

Favorite Mount

Ironbound Proto-Drake (not mine)

Like I said a couple posts ago, this is the mount I've coveted most in this expansion. Similar to the Shaman armor above, there's just something about it that represents a little bit of everything that's been a part of Wrath.

Just looking at it reminds me of questing out in Storm Peaks, raiding through Ulduar, the eerie blue necromatic glow that's in so much of the undead.

I really, really want to find a way to get this mount.

Favorite Dungeon

Ahn'Kahet: The Old Kingdom

This is probably where a lot of you start assuming that I'm off my rocker. And you might be right. (Oculus was a close second, for what it's worth.)

Regardless, this really is my favorite instance in Wrath. Not only does the dungeon itself look impressive (especially in the area around Taldaram, where it stretches on forever) but there's a ton of lore going on in here.

At the top of the dungeon you're fighting the undead Nerubians. Further down you find the cultists trying to cement their power. And then, at the end, the Faceless ones. Minions of Yogg-Saron.

And Herald Volazj gets my vote for most awesome (at wtf) moment the first time you encounter him and have no idea what you're about to get into.

AK gives a glimpse of how amazing the promised Nerubian raid would have been, had Blizz delivered it.

Also, it's the only dungeon in NR I can think of (off the top of my head) that could wipe your group endlessly if you didn't stop to pay attention to what the trash was doing (Shadowcasters).

Favorite Raid


It was tempting to put Icecrown Citadel here. Really, really tempting. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Ulduar was just a little bit better.

I love the lore of the zone. And I love the monstrosity. A giant prison, built by the titans to contain an Old God. Seat of the watchers and summoning place of the herald of the titans.

There's the giant furnace where Ignis hammers out Iron constructs. The train that leads out to Mimiron's lab, where new creations are born. The grand atrium with all the planetary models.

The building is ancient, but the knowledge it contains is centuries beyond the collective civilizations of Azeroth.

I love that you know many of the bosses heading in there and why they're there. Razorscale, Thorim, Hodir, Freya, and Mimiron...tricked by Loken and twisted by Yogg.

I love Auriaya's scream when she dies. (I know, but I do.)

And that first trip down into the Descent into Madness is still one of the most awe-inspiring moments in the game to date. I get chills just thinking about it.

Favorite Zone

Howling Fjord

I've leveled 4 characters through Northrend now, and this is the one zone that is continually the most fun for me. Part of it is the thrill of finally being into current content, but mostly it's just the design.

I love flying around the zone and just taking everything in. It's stunning.

I love that I can fly around Utgarde keep and pick out the ramparts and platforms that we run across and fight on while actually in the dungeon.

I love that the terrain is vibrant and varied.

And of all the zones in NR, it just feels bigger. I don't mean in terms of land area. Just in terms of...being larger than life. Epic.

Favorite Quest Chain

Crusader Bridenbrad

I almost put the Wrathgate questline here. Almost.

Then I realized that it's not the questline that I'm enamored with, just the cinematic at the end.

Icecrown is filled with amazing quest chains. The entire zone is made of them. The retaking of the Argent Vanguard. The battle with the Scarlet Onslaught. The revenge of the Bone Witch. Matthias Lehner.

But the most compelling is the salvation of Crusader Bridenbrad.

If you haven't done this quest chain, you absolutely need to. It starts once you're recaptured Crusader's Pinnacle. Tirion Fordring gives you the quest A Tale of Valor and tasks you with locating Bridenbrad.

I won't spoil what happens next. If you've done it, you know. If you haven't, you should. And if you're not going to...follow the link to Wowhead and read about it.

Seriously, though. This is probably the most epic quest chain in the entire game. The end of it is deeply moving.

And that's before you even know the story behind it...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Bear's guide to ICC: Sindragosa

Yeah...figuring it's well past time to finish these guides. :-)

Sindragosa is the former consort of Malygos, killed by Neltharion (that would be Deathwing before he adopted his new emo moniker) just before the Great Sundering. Unable to make to the Dragonblight before dieing, she collapsed on the north end of Icecrown swearing hate on just about everything.

Thousands and thousands (and thousands) of years later, Arthas decided that a very angry (albeit, dead) blue dragon would make the perfect queen of the Frostbrood. So he brought her back. You may remember this event:

Look familair?

Since that time, she's taken up residence at the end of the Frostwing Halls in Icecrown Citadel. She's also gone from the badass beauty pictured above to the most aggravating boss ever (thanks to some truly special voice acting).

Sindragosa is a two stage fight that will test your raid's awareness and reflexes.

A good Frost Resist set (completely filled up with Stam gems) is insanely helpful for this fight. Sindy hits reasonably hard, but not hard enough to be the real danger in this fight. What is dangerous is the massive amount of frost damage flying around. You've got a persistant Frost Aura, a personal DoT that has a chance of stacking every time you hit, a big-damage Frost Breath, and a Frost Nova effect that does more damage the closer you are to the center of it (which is the ground beneath the center of Sindy's body). To add to this, once Phase 2 rolls around the damage from each of these sources is going to multiply via Mystic Buffet.

It's worth noting here that during Phase 1 only one tank is needed. As Ferals we're often going to end up going cat and doing some dps. We'll be doing it in our tank specs and gear (because we're needed to tank for Phase 2) but we often perform marginally better than our pure-tank counterparts.

Of course, this is a Bear's guide so I'll talk about tanking both phases.

The pull:
The last of the trash prior to Sindragosa is a pair of Frost Wyrms: Rimefang (who you may remember from PoS) and Spinestalker. You'll pull and defeat these two individually. Sindragosa will aggro the moment the second one dies. However, if you run back into the gauntlet room you came from before the door closes you'll reset the encounter and then can heal up, buff, and pull at your leisure.

Phase 1:
Phase 1 has two alternating mini-phases: ground and air.

Ground comes first and will start when you aggro Sindragosa. She will fly down into the center of the balcony. Pick her up and turn her 90° so that her side is facing the rest of your raid (who should be waiting on the stairs).

At this point, simply hold her.

Watch for her to cast Icy Grip. It doesn't affect the tank, but it's very easy to recognize as the rest of your raid will get pulled to the center of her body. Immediately after she does this she'll begin casting Blistering Cold. Rather than move, it's usually best to pop Barkskin (and Enrage if you have your 4pc T10 bonus). Between those and your Frost Resist you'll be fine.

Also (especially at the very early stages of the fight) it's important to keep an eye on your stacks of Chilled to the Bone. Our attack speed is very slow so they'll often drop off before they get too high. But any time they reach 4 or more it's a good idea to stop attacking until they drop off. Make sure to warn your raid when you need to do this so that no one else pulls aggro.

At 85% (and then every 1:50 thereafter) Sindragosa will launch into the air.

When she does this all players should run back to the stairs. You should shift into cat form at this point to clear the speed reduction debuff you may have from a recent Frost Breath.

Sindragosa will mark two players (other than the tank, I believe). After 7 seconds the marked players will become entombed in ice.

It's important that the entombed individuals are at lest 10 yards apart. Similarly, no one should be within 10 yards of them until the ice forms, otherwise it will chain to those individuals as well.

Typically we have the two marked individuals stand at the base of the stairs, about 2 or 3 steps away from the stripe on the ground, one to the left and the other to the right.

Once the two players are entombed, pile up in two groups behind them and begin to dps them down slowly. If at any point one gets down below 15%, stop dps on it. Sindragosa will launch 4 Frost Bombs (one at a time) at the ground, similar to what Sapphiron does in Naxx. You'll have to use the Frost Tombs to stay out of line of sight of the bombs until all 4 have gone off.

Unlike Sapph--who always dropped her bomb right in the center of the room--Sindragosa can place them anywhere on the flat surface of the balcony. The ground at the landing spot will turn white and swirly. You may have to move around to different sides of the ice tombs in order to stay out of line of sight, so be aware. Also, in the event that a bomb is going to land directly under a tomb, it will be considered out of line of sight. So don't panic.

Also, the people inside the ice will be choking, so healers will have to keep them topped off.

Once the 4th bomb has gone off, run back out to Sindragosa's landing spot and get ready to pick her up again while the rest of your raid finishes DPSing down the tombs.

Phase 1 should be considered a speed phase. You want to get through this as quickly as possible.

Phase 2:
At 35% Sindragosa will enter Phase 2. During this phase, Sindragosa becomes permanently grounded. She retains all of her abilities from the ground portions of Phase 1 and then gains two new ones.

First, she will continue to mark and entomb members of your raid, one at a time. This happens in fairly rapid succession. The mechanics work exactly the same as during the air phase. Once marked the person with the mark will have 7 seconds before they become entombed. Anyone within 10 yards of them at that point will also be entombed. Entombed individuals will be choking to death until they're broken out.

Secondly, she will be applying stacks of Mystic Buffet to anyone in line of sight every 5 seconds.

To break line of sight, you need to hide behind an entombed player long enough for the stacks to drop off. This includes the tanks. During this phase the tanks will be swapping aggro. While one is holding Sindragosa the other will be dropping their stacks of Mystic Buffet. Once the stacks have been dropped, swap again.

It's usually best if Sindragosa doesn't move much during this phase. So tanks will typically stand on top of each other when swapping. Try to time this so you don't both eat a Frost Breath at the same time.

Also, as I said, all ground abilities from Phase 1 are still in play. This includes Icy Grip and Blistering Cold, which can affect you as you're trying to dump your stacks. Be aware if you were tanking in Phase 1 and were immune to the Grip. It will probably be a little bit of a shock. Just remember to get out as fast as possible. Dash if you need to.

Phase 2 is a control phase. Slow and steady wins the race. Execution is what's important here, not speed (which is why you want to get through Phase 1 as quickly as possible).

People need to manage their stacks of Mystic Buffet and keep them getting too high.

People need to be aware of who is marked to be entombed and stay away from that person. When a person is marked they need to clear away from everybody. Chained tombs will almost certainly wipe your raid.

In our raids we drop smoke flares just prior to Phase 2 at the locations to which we want the entombed people running. It gives marked people a clear idea of where to go and everyone else a clear idea of where to keep clear.

Icy Grip and Blistering Cold are the biggest killers during this phase. The stacks of Mystic Buffet make slow reactions a death sentence. Additionally, it's easy to run into an ice tomb on your way out and lose precious seconds.

Tombs need to be managed. You don't want too many up at a time and you don't want the people inside to have to be kept alive for too long. At the same time, they need to be left up long enough that raid members can drop their stacks of Mystic Buffet.

In our raids we usually put a fast-attacking or dual-wielding melee class on primary tomb-breaking duty, like a Rogue, Cat Druid, Enh Shaman, Fury Warrior or Frost DK. This way they don't have to worry about managing Chilled to the Bone stacks during this phase (which can be very annoying for those classes) and it keeps one more person out of the crowded melee area under Sindragosa in case a tomb accidentally gets dropped there. It also frees the rest of the DPS to focus on Sindragosa.

If a healer or the tomb breaker gets entombed, everyone gets them out as quickly as possible.

Once she's down, there's a few things to look forward to as a bear. On 10-man she can drop the Vambraces of the Frost Wyrm Queen. On 25-man she drops the super-stamified Sindragos'a Flawless Fang and a Vanquisher's Mark of Sanctification that you can use to upgrade one of your tier pieces.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) 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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Go read this. Right now.

Matthew Rossi has a gift. It's one I desperately wish I had. He's able to remember small details of stories told in small chunks over long spans of time and piece them together into a coherent larger picture.

I needed to be leveling through Northrend on my 3rd character before I finally realized that the Thassarian who is a major player in what's going on in Wrath as a whole is the same one who has a sister out in Borean Tundra that was looking for him until I was able to reunite them.

Basically, if I'm a lore whore, then Rossi is my pimp.

Anyway, he just posted one of most intriguing and insightful Know Your Lore articles to date.

Everything I was going to post today (admittedly, nothing) has now been preempted by my driving need to direct you all to read his post today.

I'm never going to get away from this game...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Going for my Rusted Proto

Among the various things we've been doing in our guild to help pass the end-of-content times is running a small group to try and get our Rusted Proto-Drakes from Ulduar 10.

A couple weeks ago a group of 10 of us started from scratch. In 3 hours we managed to knock off the first 10 boss achievements, leaving only Mimiron, Vezax, and Yogg. There were a couple wipes here and there (some intentional because we messed up the achievement), but it was a good night overall and I was really happy with our progress.

Yes, we massively outgeared everything, but there's still an element of execution to some of the fights that no amount of gear can help you overcome.

On Sunday night we picked back up and headed in to try and get the last 3.

Mimiron spanked us for 2.5 hours before we finally called it. We were getting close. On our second-to-last attempt we had gotten to phase 4, killed the VX-001 (body) unit, had the ACU (head) at 2%, and the MKII (feet) at 1% before the self-destruct took out the remaining members of our group. I fully suspect we needed about 5 more seconds to get it done.

It was frustrating, but only because I think I went in there expecting to pretty much waltz through everything except Yogg based on our first night of tries. I know people have said that Mimiron's hard mode may have been the hardest encounter in the game short of Yogg+0 and (later) the LK encounter. I guess now I see why. It's pure chaos. There's a steep learning curve in managing it.

Once I get my Rusted, I'm half tempted to see if I can buy a run for the Ironbound. Short of the Frost Wyrms from ICC, it's the one mount in the game I've absolutely had to have since the moment I saw it. But given the nature of my guild, I don't expect to be getting it any time soon through those means.

Then again, maybe we should try. I guess there's no harm in it...

Monday, September 13, 2010

I did it again

I was stuck at home today due to some doggy issues (she's fine, but needed to keep an eye on her for the day) and unable to log into work due to some other circumstances. In order to assuage my guilt over the combination of these facts, I decided to forego being lazy and spent most of the late morning and early afternoon finally putting together my Abom driving video of the Professor Putricide encounter.

This one was a lot harder than the Halion vid I did a few weeks ago. There was a lot more information I needed to convey and, therefore, a lot more places for me to stumble over my words and have to try again. The Halion video had 3 distinct voice recordings put together. This one has over a dozen.

Still, it was fun. And it taught me a lot that I'm going to have to remember if I want to keep doing these kinds of vids in the future.

This is probably the last "guide" type movie I'll be doing in the Wrath era. But depending on how things go, I may try to pick up in Cata.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BA Shared Topic: Mementos

Wow...haven't done one of these in a long time...

This week FeralTree asks "What items or mementos have you kept (in your toon's pack or bank) and why? Whether it be keepsakes, quest rewards, special items, random drops, whatever! - why did you decide to hang on to it? What's its significance to you?"

I'm a packrat by nature. I hate letting go of things, even when I'm fully aware that they'll never be used or looked at again. This isn't just in regards to WoW. Everything in my life is that way. I have enough sense of self-preservation that I can muster up the will to go through stuff and get rid of it before it gets bad, but that's still usually well after the time that it should have been done.

In WoW this means that, about once a year, I'll finally manage to go through my bags and my bank with an indiscriminate eye and toss away everything that's absolutely useless.

The one thing that I'll never get rid of, though, is my T4 set. Those 5 pieces have a permanent spot in my bags.

TBC was released in February of 2007. I didn't get Saniel to level 70 until Christmas day that year. I was in a guild at the time, but on any given day, me and Norfin (I figure I can start using a name and stop referring to him as just "my partner") were the only two people online. There were others from time to time, maybe. I don't recall. Either way, it was unimportant.

A couple weeks later I decided it was time to start figuring out this raiding thing. I knew I needed to gear up in order to start raiding and I knew that heroics were the best way to do that. However, I didn't have a steady group to run with, and I'd had nothing but horrible experiences with PUGs in the past (both just trying to get into one and then the actual runs) so I wasn't keen on that route, either.

Instead I spent months grinding Honor in BGs until I was decked out in a full Epic PvP set.

Then I started applying to guilds.

At the time I didn't understand that PvP gear was mostly useless in PvE content. I had little or no concept of most group mechanics. I didn't understand about hit caps and the importance of being uncrittable, and how druids were supposed to gear.

I knew that, as a Feral, I was going to have to tank if I wanted to raid. Kitty DPS was still a joke. But I'd only ever really played as a cat to that point. I didn't know the first thing about tanking.

Note that, by this time, it was Spring of 2008.

Eventually I did find a guild of good people that ran raids on my schedule. They took me into some heroics to start replacing my gear with more appropriate stuff. They took me into Kara as an OT and helped me learn the ropes. I also scoured the net and started researching on my own what I needed to be looking for and doing.

Before too long Kara was old hat. I was basically part of a farm team.

We wanted to move on to try Gruul and Mag, but didn't have the numbers until we formed a guild alliance with my current guild, <The Dragons>.

Over the next few months we survived membership swells and droughts. We went from long nights in Gruul's Lair to quick, reliable kills, down to having to gear people up in Kara and back up again. The guild I was in faltered and the people that remained merged into The Dragons. At some point along the line, I became a raid leader.

There was drama and frustration a-plenty.

There were weeks and weeks and weeks of unsuccessful Magtheridon attempts. Sometimes it felt like we were getting close. Sometimes it felt like we couldn't be further away from victory.

A week (maybe two) before 3.0 dropped and nerfed the hell out of all the BC raids, we finally killed Mag. The last token I needed dropped and I managed to win it. I got full 5/5 T4. Tokens of my kills of the 5 milestone bosses of that tier of raiding. And my "Champion of the Naaru" title.

I keep that set because it represents the huge strides I made in a relatively short amount of time. Also because I still believe it's the best looking Druid set to date.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On gemming your bear tank (Stam vs Agi)

Gemming (and, to a lesser extent, gearing) a bear tank is somewhat of an interesting topic. After making sure you've met the hit cap and at least the dodge expertise cap, there's basically 2 schools of thought on what's important for bear tanks.
  1. Stam, stam, and more stam!
  2. Stam and Agi.
The first group of people are carry-overs from the BC days of Bear Tanking. Their view is that we are soak tanks. The idea of a bear was to take those punishing hits and just absorb them with our absurdly high health pool. To help us out, we had an absurdly high armor multiplier that put us way ahead of plate tanks in the area of mitigating the blows that did land.

Since then, a lot has changed for bears. Our health and armor multipliers have both been significantly reduced since pre-3.0 days (via nerfs to Heart of the Wild and Thick Hide). It's still not uncommon for us to be a little bit ahead of equally-geared plate tanks in those areas, but it's not by much. Certainly not by the margins we were used to.

To help us out, we got Savage Defense, which is kind of like Block. The mechanic is different: if we're not attacking something, we're not getting use out of it (which sucks when your job is to hold threat on something, but not kill it.) But at it's core, it's the same basic idea.

This is where the second camp comes in. Those who go for a balance between stam and agi. It's important to note here, what we get out of Agi as bears. Agi gives us Armor (mitigates damage taken), dodge (avoidance), and crit (Savage Defense procs). So yes, we may have less health than if we went straight stam, but we get quite a bit in the trade-off. And all of that other stuff is very important to bear tanks.

Like I mentioned above, stam stacking was the way to go in BC for Bear tanks. When we took the hit to our armor multiplier, people reasoned that stacking stam was even more important. When Chill of the Throne hit in ICC, there was argument that stam was even now more important.

It's an argument I just don't buy.

When people say that talent buffs and raid debuffs are hurting our chance to avoid or mitigate damage, and thus we should stack more health, what I hear is this: "I'm used to having water and food. But I'm having a lot of my food taken away. Rather than do what I can to get some of that food back, I'm just going to drink more water. In fact, I'm going to try to live off water alone and treat any food I do manage to get as a bonus."

That doesn't sound like a very good way to live.

Yes, there are always exceptions. All the Agi in the world isn't going to help you on fights where your chief source of damage comes from magic or bleeds. But all the Str, Block, and Parry in the world isn't going to help the plate tanks in those situations either, so it balances out. There are times when a heavy stam set is the way to go. I just don't believe they're meant to be the norm for bear tanks any more than they're meant to be the norm for plate tanks.

Now, don't get me wrong here. EJ supports claims that heavy stam stacking for bears in a legitimate strategy. It's also worth noting that looking at bears from several of the top ranking guilds in the world supports stam stacking (as they go with method). It still doesn't fly with me. It's forcing Bears into a former niche role that isn't always valid anymore.

If Dodge were the only thing we got out of Agi as bears, then I would be tempted to switch sides in this debate. The diminishing return on Dodge coupled with things like Chill of the Throne would definitely drive me towards stacking more stam. But with Armor and Savage Defense procs also factoring into the equation, it seems like a too-narrow view.

Now, more than ever, the stat meta-game of WoW is all about balance. Give and take. A little of this and a little of that. Don't sacrifice too much of any one thing in favor of something else.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Classing up the joint

You'll have to excuse me for this one...I've been having a hard time coming up with ideas for posts this week. Like, any ideas. Even ones to reject.

This morning on my way into work it suddenly dawned on me that, come Cataclysm, Taurens will have the distinction of being the only race with access to all 4 tanking classes.

Then I realized that they also would have the distinction of being the only race with access to all 4 healing classes.

So could you get by with making an all Tauren raid team? Well, you could. But you'd be pretty short on caster DPS. Tauren's won't have access to either pure DPS caster class (Warlock and Mage). So you'd have to make due with Ele Shamans and Shadow Priests. You'd also be locked out of Rogues, making Hunters your only pure DPS class.

This whole thought process got me thinking about all the race/class combos in Cataclysm and what kind of other fun facts are hidden in there.
  • Warriors and DKs are the most open class, both being available for every race.
  • Hunter, Priest, and Mage are all close, each with representation in 11 of the 12 races.
  • Druid is still the most restrictive class, only available to 4 races (NElf, Worgen, Tauren, Troll).
  • Paladin, Shaman, and Warlock are the next 3 most restrictive classes, with representation by 5, 6, and 7 races, respectively.
  • No race has access to every ranged DPS capable class.
  • Goblins are closest, missing only Druid.
  • No race has access to every melee DPS capable class.
  • Dwarfs are only missing Druids.
  • Tauren are only missing Rogues.
  • Humans, Dwarfs, Worgen, Trolls, BElfs, and Goblins each have access to 8 classes.
  • Everyone else has access to 7...
  • ...except Gnomes, who only have access to 6.
  • The only races that can't be Rogues are the two with hooves.
  • Gnomes' only healing class is Priest.
  • Orcs' only healing class is Shaman.
  • Humans and BElfs are the only two races that mirror class options.
  • Alliance has access to 44 race/class combinations.
  • Horde has access to 45.
  • Of the 89 combinations, 29 wear plate, 29 wear cloth, 17 wear mail, and only 14 wear leather.
Any other fun facts I'm missing?

(This should help.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

(Un)forced raid progression

...or "Why Kara was awesome, Naxx was awesomer, and the pros/cons of Emblem gear."

Wrath has been a very interesting raid cycle for my guild. A vastly different experience from BC, to be sure.

As I've stated before, anyone in the guild is welcome to come along on our Fri/Sat 25-man runs. This has been our policy all the way through Wrath. Our 10-man runs during the week tend to be a little more selective.

As far as 25-man raids go, we were able to clear Naxx before Ulduar opened up, with just one extra weekend to spare for an attempt at Malygos (which was unsuccessful). We never got an Ulduar 25 team past Auriaya (though to be fair, we had a lot of attendance issues through that time and barely fielded any 25-man teams at all). We did clear ToC 25, but not until well after ICC was open (March). And in ICC we've been able to kill Rotface, Festergut, and the Princes, but it's a toss-up from week to week whether or not we'll be able to kill any or all of them. Halion is also still laughing at us.

A large part of this is due to a number of the people on our 25-man teams simply being inexperienced raiders. The situational awareness and speed of execution simply isn't there.

Rewinding back to BC, there was a solid progression. You did Kara before moving on to Gruul's Lair. Then you did Magtheridon. If you got past all those, you moved into SSC and TK. Beyond them was Hyjal. Then BT. If you were really good, you got to go to Sunwell.

That was it. Straight through. If you were a guild that was working on SSC and TK and had new members that wanted to raid they had to go through the T4 content first in order to gear up. (And I'm not even going to mention running those BC Heroics in order to get raid-geared.)

With our guild, it was a tireless battle of gearing people up through Kara to help us with Gruul and Mag, losing members, and starting the cycle over. We got finally got Mag a week before the 3.0 super-nerf hit (so a number of us earned our "Champion of the Naaru title).

Had we been able to bring people up faster when letting them into our raid groups, we might have gotten further. Maybe not. I don't know.

But there was one great thing about Kara. It taught people how to raid. All the basics were covered in Kara. Positioning, moving out of bad stuff, tank stacking, tank swapping, healing constant streams of damage, healing spikes, crowd control.

It was hard enough that it made a properly-geared, inexperienced group really focus on learning these skills. Otherwise they just wouldn't get far. It was also easy enough that an over-geared, experienced group could carry someone through enough that they still had to learn and perform, but weren't severely punished for their mistakes.

If you could routinely clear Kara, you had a group of 10 people that you knew were able to learn, adapt, and play smart. They had the skills to be a regular raider.

Fast forward now to the beginning of Wrath. Exit Kara, enter Naxx.

Naxx served pretty much the same purpose as Kara. It was the intro raid. The one that would teach new players all the skills they needed to be successful raiders far into the expansion.

Naxx was a little more forgiving than Kara. And that was okay. The idea of Naxx was to give even more people access to raid content, so the difficulty was toned down a little.

The other thing Naxx had over Kara was a non-linear progression.

In Kara there was a definite path: Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Opera, Nightbane, Curator, Illhoof, Shade, Netherspite, Chess, Prince. I'm over-simplifying and leaving out the finer details. But that was the basic path.

Naxx gave us something different. Four wings, each with 3 (or 4) boss encounters. And while it was true that you had to do all four wings to reach the final two bosses (Sapph and KT), you could tailor the order based on your raid. Military and Construct were definitely harder than Spider and Plague. So if you were working on progression and knew the first two wings were a breeze, you could skip right to the latter two and try to conquer them first.

It was a small degree of customization and allowed raid leaders to try and strike a balance between time and kills.

But, ultimately, we ended up in the same place as we did after Kara. A team that could regularly and reliably clear Naxx had the skills they needed to be successful raiders through Wrath.

But Wrath changed the game. All of a sudden with every new content tier that came out, we could use Heroics (which were easy mode by the time you were in Naxx gear, if not before) to gear ourselves right up to current content and jump in. Then enter LFD and, oh man. If you have the playtime, you can have have a fresh 80 ready to jump into ICC in 3 days. Maybe less.

In some ways this is great. It means a guild (like mine) with loose requirements and a regularly rotating raid group can stay on current content with relatively few issues. If we're working on ICC, we don't have to haul somebody through all 3 previous tiers of content to catch them up. And while doing that with one person maybe wouldn't be that much of an issue, doing it with 8 or 10 newcomers (which has happened before) would be excruciating and time consuming.

But then you get into the situation my guild is in now. You have these raiders who are running wild through ICC and RS and they haven't developed those key skills that a place like Kara or Naxx would have given them. And ICC and RS are very unforgiving to an entire raid group that has even a small number of people without those skills.

I'm not sure what the solution to this may be. I honestly don't even know what to propose as a solution. The easy answer is "something in between," but what is that, exactly? And how would it be implemented? I won't lie...I don't have any good ideas. I am going to be interested to see how raid tiers are handled in Cata.

I'm hoping that the early Cata raids function similarly to Kara and Naxx. I get the feeling that they're going to be like Kara on an individual level, but the fact that there's three of them is going to give us that Naxx style flexibility. It's also going to allow us to run different teams through different raids without worrying as much about lockouts. I'm excited for the possibilities.

Our guild numbers are very strong right now. If we can somehow find a way to keep the numbers strong through the early parts of Cataclysm, I think we'll be in good shape and none of this will even be an issue. Or at least as much of one.

If not...who knows. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keyword Analytics!

So I'll admit it, I'm kind of stat counter obsessed. Every morning I check to see what kind of traffic my blog got in the last 24 hours, how the month as a whole is shaping up, where people have been coming from, and what searches are leading them to my blog.

This last is, at times, the most fun. A lot of it is pretty typical search keywords. Some things are just easy questions to answer. And then some things show up that are just truly...special.

Let's take a look at some...

how many stacs should i taunt in icc 10 saurfang normal
I think one person is hitting my site over and over with this one search term. Or (s)he's shared the google link with others. Because it's responsible for a fair chunk of hits and the bad spelling doesn't show up in Google's autocomplete.


Regardless, the answer is 0...because there's nothing in this fight that stacks.

When you DO taunt is when the other tank gets Rune of Blood.

Stacks? Seriously? Unless you're thinking of Blood Power. But...yeah. No.

is primal precision needed bear tank
Needed? No. But unless you're over the parry/block expertise cap with gear, it is helping your threat. And if you're under the Dodge cap (6.5%) then you definitely want it.

icc 10 man stinky and precious when to taunt
Have the 2nd tank taunt when the first reaches 6 stacks or so. Then each tank should taunt back each time their stacks drop.

taunt lady deathwhisperer
I tried, but I couldn't get a word in edgewise.

dpsing festergut as a bear
Don't. Festergut is a DPS race and you need to be putting out as much DPS as you possibly can. If you're not getting enough stacks of Inoculation to easily survive the Pungent Blight (exhale) then you need to examine your group's execution, not shift forms.

why are feral druids switching to bear for festergut
'Cause they're doing it wrong.

where get jetpack gunship
For the Alliance...from the goblin next to Muradin. I assume there's one near Saurfang for the Horde peeps.

icc gunship battle how to use rocket pack
First you have to get it. Then you have to equip it (this step is important). Then you can use it.

when is cata coming out
When it's done.™

how to arrange groups in icc 25
1 through 5 usually works for my guild.

how to get to saurfang without going into icc
Nobody gets to Saurfang. He gets to you.

level 78 draenei hunter talent tree
I'm not even sure how this led to my blog.

do i get to keep my gold when cata comes out?
No. Your gear goes away, too. You have to start leveling at 80 completely naked.

family bondage games
I know why this led to my blog, but I'm kind of terrified that someone was searching for it...

mangle fairie fire spam bear tank
Don't forget Swipe. That's in there, too! And Maul!

what's better nurturing instinct or improved leader of the pack
Context is best. But unless you're PvPing as Feral, the answer is pretty much always ILotP.

in ICC can u skip to dreamwalker?
From where? The beginning? No. Once you've beaten Deathbringer? Yes.

restokin spec 3.3
You'll probably have more luck over at Restokin.