Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mimiron Down! (And 3.2 post-patch week recap)

Our second night of attempting Mimiron10, after about two hours of wipes, Mimiron hit the floor, and there was much rejoicing! I got a sexy new t8.0 tank helm, and someone else got the Fusion Blade. The other tank got a fun new toy, and I got a trophy (if you don't get the joke, think what "ground" and "gear" mean on their own, in the context of WoW. It's hilarious.)

Astute readers (really anyone who hasn't been living under a rock) may have noticed that if the aforementioned helm is an upgrade for me, then I really don't have much ground gear. I'll admit, I'm being a lazy bum and my guild probably suffered more wipes than it needed to because of me. Incase you have been living under a rock, patch 3.2 was last week, and everything gives Emblems of Conquest (or better) now. Meaning I could theoretically be running around in some much better tank gear for the low, low price of 191 Emblems. That would be 5 days (about) of Heroic grinding, or less if you raided at all this week or had some leftover from Ulduar hardmodes (which is E Z Moade, by the way).

Also giving better gear is the new Trial of the Crusader 5man, which has both Regular and Heroic modes. Due to my general apathy for trying to play in the post-patch-lag-mayhem, I have only cleared H ToC once, but I've farmed the regular a bit. Both give a whopping five (5!) epics per run of a particularly high item level, and the heroic comes with Emblems on the side.

Aside: The regular can, as you might expect, be run as often as you like, and is an excellent source of enchant mats (which are probably freefalling in price on any server.) Speaking of which, since BoPs are tradeable now, PuGs are treating disenchanting differently. On my server, about half of all PuGs open greed roll, and the enchanter buys the BoPs at the end for about half the shard's price (usually 2-4 times over vendor value, still benefitting the nonenchanters.) Also on the subject of BoP trading, much private selling or manipulating of loot has been going on. Often when in a PuG raid with guildies, we will all roll on a loot one of us wants and pass to them if any of us wins, likewise, good epics often get secretly auctioned off via whisper after loot has ended. It might be frustrating as a raid leader, but again, hilarious. Great way to make money too.

Much like Violet Hold, ToC has a random selection of bosses, and thus a huge variety of loot; expect to farm it until your face turns blue only to have the guy next to you gear out in a single run. Since you're liable to be there a while, time for some how-to on ToC. The dungeon has four bosses, to which I will dedicate a section apeice below.

The first boss is a tag-team of the dreaded Wall of Text coupled with the Interminable Wait. It casts Intense Boredom with rapidly increasing frequency throughout the fight. If hit, a player will often AFK or tab out to write a blog post. Losing one player to Intense Boredom will not wipe this encounter, but it will make the next encounter much more difficult, as no known spell can remove this effect. The best defense is an ingame distraction, such as trolling General chat, or spamming /silly (these do not protect your party members). Addons such as Peggle for WoW can combat the Intense Boredom, however they can also cause many of the same problems. A small fraction of this time should also be spent buffing up and getting a lance and mount (both available around the walls) for the second encounter.

The second boss consists of three trash packs followed by a triple boss randomly chosen from a set of five champions of the opposing faction. The first half of the encounter is fought on the Argent Tournament jousting mounts. Some people may have some experience with them from the dailies, but I did not, and I would imagine there are others like me.

The mounts have four spells: a melee swing (which will not auto-cast - spammable), Shield Breaker (a weak ranged attack that is used to lower your target's defense - shares a cooldown with Charge), Charge (a very strong charge attack which also breaks defense - shares a cooldown with Shield Breaker), and Defend (which repairs your own defenses - cast it on cooldown). To be edited: Links to be added above next time I go to ToC.

To deal maximum damage on these mounts, make sure to focus fire with your group, use Charge to inflict your damage, and cast a melee swing when your charge hits. If you can't get far enough away from the group target to charge it, spam your melee swing on it. Assign a regular target to focus since marking will be difficult given the limited time between trash spawning and the fight beginning (E.G. "all charge the center one"). During Wall of Text, you should mark the bosses with a kill order before they all spawn. A good kill order is Dwarf > Gnome > Dranei > Nelf > Human, but that's just my 2c.

When you joust the bosses, their mounts are vastly stronger than yours, so if your mount is getting banged up, feel free to ride to the walls and grab a fresh one, you can jump directly to a new mount without getting off. Once a boss has been knocked to the floor, assign one party member to stand on it, if you don't trample them repeatedly, they will sneak over to the wall and remount, much like you can. When all three bosses have been knocked off their mounts, phase two of this fight will begin.

When phase two begins, one of three things will happen: either you run out of the instance, or two DPS die and then release spirit and fly back, or you wipe and you all fly back. This is because damage you dealt during the mount phase generates threat... and it carries over. Most likely you will start with threat... on one of them, and the other two (or maybe three) will go roflpwn your party. I really recommend running out. I don't really know all the bosses, but they're not that hard on regular, just keep your eyes open and communicate with your party and it'll be fine... on regular. Practice at least once on regular before attempting Heroic. When downed, a loot chest spawns with one epic.

Boss three is preceded by the Wall of Text returning, but it's much weaker this time around, tank and spank it. Some easy trash also spawns in three groups, target the Lightweilder first, the Monk last, and if a lolwell appears, have your DPS nuke it. The boss you get is random, I have fought two different ones, Eadric (a paladin) and Argent Confessor whats-her-name. They hit fairly hard, and both have some special abilities to watch for. Eadric will occasionally stun a party member and them smite them for massive Holy damage, and he will also explode with light, blinding anyone still facing him when the cast finishes. Argent Confessor will summon a shade partway through the fight, when she does (or a bit before for DoT-users) stop all DPS on her, she reflects all damage until the shade dies. While the shade is alive, she will also mass-fear the party from time to time. Shadow resistance is helpful on this fight. When killed you get another chest with two epics.

Boss four is a Death Knight and has has three phases. Both Shadow and Frost resist buffs are useful on this fight. In the first phase, his ghoul will leap around alternating between the squishiest DPS and the healer, kill it or taunt it, pick one. Meanwhile the boss will use strong magic and melee, as well as some disease DoTs, cure them if possible. When killed, he will come back as a ghoul, apparently he missed all the nerfs we've gotten, lucky sucker... Phase two will begin, he summons an Army of the Dead. Drop D&D, and pop a cooldown if necessary, the damage is actually rather light, as long as you get the mob in front of you. Finally, when killed he will return as a ghost, he will throw magic around at the party, there's not much you can do for them besides burn him or use AMZ if you have it, save it as late in the fight as possible if you do; you'll need it more later on. An interesting note, the spells he uses are shadowfrost, so Shadow resist or Frost resist alone will be largely useless, only mitigating his DoTs. Kill and loot for two more epics.

Some other changes to note: the new BG rocks, Koralon will not be added to VoA until the next Arena season starts, and the first boss(es) of the new raid dungeon is available (the Northrend Beast Encounter is easy enough - if you have the gear for it; it has a very high gear threshold for tanks by last patch's standards, fairly attainable with heroic grinding now.) Also don't miss out on epic gems for your new gear, you can get the raws for 10-20 of your leftover Emblems of Heroism, and get the cut done for free from a gullible guildie. Also for your new gear, enchant prices are at record-breaking lows, slap some on, things that once cost over 600g are now around 100-200. Naxx10 is going out of style, by the way, most guilds on my server are discontinuing it, although I'm sure pugging will be just as possible as before. Maly10/25 has become highly puggable as well, thanks to the recent nerf where the drakes are much stronger.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

On the Origin of Failures

(Disclaimer: I blame the piss-poor quality of this post on my brother.)

So, today on my level 16 Warrior alt, I went to solo Ragefire Chasm (for any alliance scum out there, it's like Stockade, but level 13-16.) On my way in, I saw a post in general: "LF1M RFC!" So I joined the group. Just after I got in the door, the leader kicked me to make room for a level 80 runner. I shrugged, easy come, easy go; I was going to solo anyway.

I went in, it was a little challenging, I went through a few healing potions, died twice, but an hour and two levels later, I finished the instance having completely soloed it. Victorious, I posted in RFC's general chat, "Woot! Soloed RFC!" To which I get a reply from the previous party's group leader: "Congratulations. In the same time, I got ran through here six times and I'm 8 levels higher."

What exactly is the point of levelling up quickly, particularly if you don't learn to play along the way? Unless you're just getting to 80 so you can sell the account on Ebay, being 80 without having the skill to raid is pointless, and if you miss out on the fun, why are you even playing? That guy in every PuG raid? Guess where those people come from. -.-

I think some people need to take a good hard look at why they're even playing in the first place. If it's neither money nor fun, I would say you're doing it wrong. Fun for me is overcoming great challenges, like 5man content with 1 player, or 10man content with only 2 players. I enjoy overcoming challenges, and go out of my way to preform the most outlandish feats I can come up with. I am aware that (although I do not entirely understand why) there is an entire other class of people that want less challenge as they level, but either way, following a random 80 around looting is boring, and causes you to miss out on all the other content you might have seen in that level range.

For the people who, like me, want to see raid bosses fall over in rapid succession, (shame I couldn't find a video to link,) chasing after gear even when it amounts to the level 80 equivalent of running is not what you need to be doing. Hat to break it to everyone, but unless you're doing Ulduar, you can clear whatever it is in mixed blues, greens and 70 gear, and unless it's hard mode, ilvl 200s will suffice in there too. What you really need to do is learn your spec inside-and-out, and practice basic raiding skills if you want to be successful. There's a reason that I saw "LFM VoA, no retards, people with downs or death knights" in trade today, skill is vastly more important than gear, even on a gear check fight. A skilled player in greens can do 2.3k dps and survive the fight, a moron in full Ulduar25 epics can do 400 dps and then die in a fire half a minute into the fight.

If you want to strengthen your tanking skills, there's nothing better than running a ton of Heroics with a random PuG group every time; people will do things dumber than you can imagine, and you are bound to run with a seriously undergeared group every once in a while. There's no better way to prepare for all hell breaking loose in your raids than getting used to all hell breaking loose in your Heroics. Also, if you're up to the challenge, (and specced at least partially Blood,) soloing level 80 Heroics will do wonders for your ability to mitigate incoming damage with extremely limited healing while having to keep up with a dynamic fight. Players looking to begin soloing Heroics are advised to begin with Loken in Halls of Lightning, or Grand Magus in Nexus.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't Run Out of Fuel

Today, I had the pleasure of finding out halfway to my History lecture that my car was on the verge of running out of gas. It was too late to refill, as I had no money at the time, and I couldn't wait to get more. So I hoped everything would be okay, and in the end it was, but I could have had serious problems. I will have to be more vigilant so I don't have this problem again.

What does this have to do with raiding?

Let me translate.

"Today, I had the pleasure of finding out halfway though my Ulduar raid that my bar was on the verge of running out of Runic Power. It was too late to refill, as I had no runes at the time, and I couldn't wait to get more. So I hoped everything would be okay, and in the end it wasn't, but I got my face ripped off by Kologarn. I will have to be more vigilant so I don't have this problem again."

That actually happened once, back when Kologarn was a progression raid. I got two stacks of Crunch Armor while the other tank was being fisted. I went to hit good ol' Icebound and...

Not enough runic power

We wiped. I learned from it, and made sure to keep a bigger reserve of Runic Power. This usually isn't a problem unless things are already going horribly wrong anyway, but it's a lesson to keep in mind. Much more important is to avoid running out of runes. There are only a handfull of things worse than seeing the Right Arm turn to rubble, or a new mole machine release its contents only to realize you don't have enough blood runes to cast D&D. It can be slightly irritating, and the worst thing is knowing you could have prevented it by paying more attention and restraining yourself from hitting every button you have available.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Days It's Really Good to be a Death Knight

Some days it's good to be a Death Knight.

Other days it's really good to be a Death Knight..

Last night my guild did progression raiding in Ulduar again. We knocked down the farm bosses (the joke bosses were already down) and went straight for Assembly of Iron. I got to tank Steelbreaker. It was a joy.

Let me say right now that if I didn't have cooldowns to roll through every cast of this, we would have never downed Steelbreaker. For the record, the cooldowns I used to mitigate the hit were: AMS, AMZ, Icebound, Rune Tap+Death Pact, Repelling Charge, Rune of Repulsion+Spell Deflection, and Army.

Astute readers might note that with Fusion Punch on about a 15 second interval, I can't actually have one up every single time. Thus, the healy-Paladin used Divine Sacrifice+Bubble to help me out, and Steelbreaker fell before the next hole in my cooldown rotation.

This point is where "shit shit shit shit shit" happened. Once Steelbreaker fell, phase 2 destroyed us, but I think it's quite impressive that we dropped Steelbreaker on our third attempt. We would have continued, but, lacking anyone to dispel/steal Runemaster's bubble, I didn't have the ability to weather his melee swings, and so we called it for the night. We also could have used a Rogue to stunlock the shrimpy one, but I guess you can't have everything.

Downranking is for Noobs and Masochists. (I appear to be a masochist.)

As I've mentioned, I've also been playing a healy-Priest alt on the side. Even though this lesson was learned on a non-DK, it applies to us all.

If you're levelling and you learned Dual Talent Specialization before level 80, when you train your new spells from levelling up, it will not update your non-active spec's actionbars. I just realized that after healing heroics, Naxx10, Naxx25, OS10, OS25 and Ulduar25 that I've been running around with my healing spells two ranks below what I could have had them at, effectively halving my healing.

So remember, check your spelling, particularly right after you ding 80! No reason to be running around with a half-power Unholy Blight.

As to why you wouldn't want to use downranked spells, it has been rather a while since downranking was beneficial; all spells cost the same regardless of rank. The only difference is diminished effect.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Tanking Weapons (And Why DPS Shouldn't be Allowed to Roll on Them)

As I mentioned last time, it's time for a rant about DK tank weapons. When DK's were created, we shook things up just a bit. Long story short, we tank with two-handed maces, swords and axes mostly, and the trouble was, they don't make tanking two-handers. So, instead of retrofitting a ton of old content to accomodate Death Knights, they decided to simply keep rolling out DPS two-handers and give us Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle. This works out well enough, but you still need something to put the rune on, and some things are better than others.

So what should be the vessel for your runeforge? Let's look at the stats 2h weapons can have.

Strength - Helps your DPS, and thus your threat. Grants parry rating via Forceful Deflection, scales well with certain DK talents.

Stamina - Every weapon has this. However, the more, the merrier. Also scales to DK talents and Frost Presence.

Agility - Although not specifically boosted by our class, this gants a sizeable chunk of Dodge and some Armor, as well as Crit for threat. Better than Strength for mitigation/avoidance, usually worse for threat.

Intellect/Spirit/MP5 - No. Go unarmed before you use one of these, it'll be funnier and about as effective.

Expertise - A nice boost to threat and a small drop in incoming damage due to less parryhaste. Try to get around 6.5% total, but it's ok to go past that. About twice as effective in the hands of a tank than it would be used by an intelligent DPS.

Hit - It sucks when your aggro moves miss. Get to 9% total (remember to include talents) ASAP, but there's not much reason to go past that. A dead stat if you're already capped.

Crit - A percent mod to threat... if your moves can crit. Not as useful in my Unholy spec.

Armor Penetration - Solid for a Blood tank, rather worthless for other specs, which deal primarily magic damage.

Haste - Useful, but go for something else. It only reduces the GCD on your non-weapon attacks, and speeds up your melee swing. It does not, however, increase the rate your runes come back, so even if you use mostly spell attacks, it will just increase your downtime. Generally worse than crit.

Attack Power - Ups all your threat. No mitigation bonus.

Resilience - No. Not unless you're just gearing up and not yet Defense capped, and even then, this will be worthless post-3.2.

Now, there's a slight problem. You may understand, and I may understand that a Strength/Stamina/Agility/Expertise item is exceptional for tanking, but there are legions of DPS out there that can also use your loot. And it will be a valid upgrade for them too. They want it. They'll get it, toss aside their old blue junk, and then replace it a week later. If you are leading a raid, or have any say at all, make it perfectly clear that Joe Roflstomp getting the Inevitable Defeat over the local tank DK is like Mr. Rogue Lolstab getting the Skyforge Crossbow over your Hunter. Yes, they can use it, but is everyone really stupid enough to put it to such a waste? Unfortunately.

Here are some recommended tanking items found between just dinging 80 and just breaking into Ulduar.

Crafted(Blacksmithing) - Titansteel Destroyer, because it is really easy to get.
Heroic DTK - Mojo Masked Crusher
Heroic HoL - Colossal Skull-Clad Cleaver
Heroic Naxxramas - The Jawbone
Heroic Naxxramas - Inevitable Defeat
Heroic Ulduar - Worldcarver

Obviously there are others you can use, but these are some of the ones that I feel really should be used by a DK tank.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Observations

I've always known that I come from a failserver, but ever more evidence that I'm riding the failboat: http://www.warcraftrealms.com/census.php?serverid=70&factionid=-1&minlevel=80&maxlevel=80&servertypeid=1

Some highlights: There are as many humans as horde.

My guild (Dynasty) is ranked number 4 on the server, and we haven't killed anything past Cat Lady on 10man nor anything at all in 25, and we have about 1/3 of a 10man Ignis kill total. Ironically, several of our memebers have killed things in a full PuG that the guild hasn't.

As always, I roll against 18% of the server for my tanking weapons (cue rant next post), 42% of the server for my tanking tier and no one if we try to kill Freya.