Legendary Whine

I see the melee dps are getting a new shiny legendary in Icecrown… bet it comes 100 percent whole and isn’t scattered carelessly in tiny bits throughout the entire instance.

Yes, bitter whine is bitter. But if I have another week of Ulduar with 1, yes 1 shard despite doing all the hardmodes I will cry. I’m gonna be locked up in there with Freya going slightly mad til the next expansion at this rate.

Of hatchlings, Ironbound and Oracle

Minor bragging first of all.

Our dpsers stopped taking a bath in the water bomb and we got Firefighter down which led to this:

ironbound

A bit of whining. Its impossible to get an instance for any Vanilla content at the moment, even at 3.45am so my planed post on another of my favourite old world instances will have to wait until they either upgrade their servers or kick some Horde off it.

Finally, what is it with people sending dragons and orphans through the mail service. Perhaps more importantly which is worse? cramming a small scared but curious orphan into a padded envelope or squishing up a rather large and fire breathing dragon into one. I’m tending toward the orphan because we already know Brann is slightly crazy but what on earth was the matron thinking.

Oh and Oracle hatchling > all. Even though he has fangs, what looks like someone else’s bones as a facial decoration and a tendency to eat bugs between meals.

Ding dong the witch is dead!

Or rather in this case, rescued from the evil influences of a tentacled monster. Finally people stopped lounging in sunbeams, blowing up plants just as Freya cast ground tremor and chasing each other about with nature’s fury.

knock01This was turning into my white whale so to say I’m glad its done… well that would be an understatement.

Springs life anew

So there we were, banging or rather knocking our heads against Freya plus three when something occurred to me. Why does Freya in the flesh so to speak bear no resemblence what so ever to her avatar? (yep, its amazing what occurs to me whilst I’m face down in a garden). Freya herself always reminds me of some homicidal soccer mom in a twinset and pearls.

The Avatar of Freya on the other hand is a completely different ball game.

freya01I would love to be able to make a character who looks like that. Raw, powerful and sexy despite being green. Although I suppose if I looked the Freya throwing plants around Ulduar, I would prefer to manifest myself as something a little more interesting.

Edit: Just after I finished this, I was flicking through my blogroll trying to find a way to stay awake to raid time and I found this. I agree completely, I love the look of the Vrykul and if I can’t have a druid that looks like the Avatar of Freya, I would settle for the rather angry lady below.

vrykul01Strong looking women who look like they could actually lift most of the two handed weapons ingame appeal more to me than most of the female characters currently available. Plus I love exploring their houses, how can we slaughter a race that has so many books scatttered around their dwellings and makes wholesome carrot stews. Its time the humans return to their roots and embrace the nearest Vrykul.

The Ice Man commeth

Last night we did Hodir on hardmode. Fun fight, very crazy towards the end but it left me feeling a bit frustrated. Whatever happened to bring the player not the class, whatever happened to the developers promise that guilds will need to bring more healers to Ulduar than they did to Naxx?

Our final raid make up consisted of 4 healers, 1 tank and 20 dps. A nice and balanced raid which really takes into account the composition of our guild….. . Which leads me to another point, the trash to Hodir is just as easily done with 1 tank and 4 healers. The zerg everything that moves mentality works just as well here as it did in Naxx. Yes, I realise its a guild choice thing, you could wait for however many weeks it takes before your dpsers can carry a more balanced raid, but that equally is not fair. Whichever way you look at it, someone is going to get left out/let down.

Two things did stand out from the blur that was the fight however:

1. As I’ve said before, hog those starlights for lovely fast prayer of healings.

2. Set up Grid to show Storm Cloud as a buff so that if you receive it as a healer, you can make sure you get close to dpsers fast.

Oh and Missy and Sissy Flamecuffs have to be the best named NPCs ever.

Hard like Heroic?

With the Wrath of the Lich King we now have hard modes in our raid instances, a continuation of the normal mode >heroic mode we are already used to in 5 man content. Whilst I and my guild are working our way through the hard modes without too many hiccups I’m still in two minds as to my feelings towards the concept.
Plus points:

  • Content stays fresh longer
  • Better play, harder work produces better items. The risk > reward factor if you will.

Negatives:

  • The risk that normal mode is too easy because there are harder modes to compensate
  • Adding extra stressers to guilds. Is choice always a good thing?

Content stays fresh longer: Whilst this is technically true in the sense that there is stuff to wipe on  longer, most of the fights on hard mode are exactly the same in mechanics just requiring more dps or more healing. An example being Hodir, same fight, you just need to kill him fast. The other types of hard mode seem to be “extra aoe damage” a la Freya but still requiring decent dps just on more targets or Steelbreaker, more aoe damage and you have a distinct window to kill him in.

Better play, harder work produces better items: Fair enough. Better items also work as an incentive and people who invest more time and effort into content should get better items that those who form PuGs once a week to kill Flame Leviathan (yes, they do exist). However, a guild which kills Yogg-Saron every week gets better gear than Mr PuG one boss on a Saturday morning anyway without this extra level added in.

Normal modes end up being too easy because of optional hard modes: I definitely feel this is an issue. When I was reading up about Ulduar before the patch was released, I saw all these comments about how much harder than Naxx it would be. How suddenly CC would be vital again, rather than just aoeing everything… but apart from the trash before the General where our sneaky locks sneak in a banish or two, we don’t cc anything at all. The only times our mages cast polymorph is whilst ganking outside the entrance. With the possible exception of Mimiron (want to buy melee who aren’t overly fond of mines), most of the bosses require a lot less wiping on than say the bosses in AQ40 did. For example, it took us around 3 months from killing Kael for the first time to clear Black Temple and Mount Hyjal so that’s 3 months for 14 bosses, versus less than two resets for 13 bosses in Ulduar.

Guild issues: I can see a couple of possible issues here. Firstly, guilds where its only a minority who want to do the hard mode The rest are happy farming their easier loot/badges and don’t want to go back to wiping for slightly better rewards. Already quite a few of our applicants fall into this bracket.  Then there are the guilds where only a minority don’t want to do hard modes, however those are the ones easiest to deal with. Recruit replacements who do and get on with it. Finally and this is my biggest issue, hard modes for the most part suit particular raid make ups. As most of them have dps races at the core, you end up benching your tanks/healers in order to meet the requirements. Yes, of course dual spec helps bridge the gap slightly, but its unlikely that say a warrior who has been tanking and only tanking since the start of the expansion will have comparable dps gear to the warrior who has only been dpsing. This leads to an issue, do you wait until your dps can carry a slightly more healer/tank filled raid or do you just bench people whilst you push for the achievements now? Either option can potentially cause trouble.

In conclusion, I feel its brought in a two tier raid system which with time will make it harder for people just joining to filter up the top. Also it puts extra pressure on all guild members to be on the same page. We for example spent the whole of last night playing around with the Iron Council trying to find the best way for us to manage Steelbreaker last. Now I can see a lot of people questioning the point of spending 6 hours wiping on something you can one shot if you go for either of the other two bosses last. Whilst I understand that Blizzard want raiding to be accessible to most people who play WoW, I’m not convinced this was the way to do it. I think I would have preferred a more staggered approach to the normal modes, i.e. the first 3-4 bosses were tuned as they currently are… getting harder and harder as you work your way towards the lair of Yogg-Saron rather than make everything fairly easy the first time around. Clear it all the first time around and then decide if you want to bother with the harder bits. It smacks of laziness really, an attempt to cater to everyone with one instance.

Knock on Wood: Freya with Elder Ironbranch from a holy priest’s perspective

picnicatfreyasRan out of pictures of Freya so thought I would use one of us having a picnic with Archmage Vargoth in her garden instead.

The fight is very similar to Freya solo with one notable and annoying addition. She now casts iron roots on up to three targets every so often. The roots have around 38k health and do considerable damage every 2 seconds until they are killed or the person trapped inside them is dead (they are removable with cloak of shadows so if any rogue dies to them, feel free to point fingers).

Before you start, make sure your Grid is displaying the following debuffs:

  • Iron Roots (the full name of this ability is “Strengthened Iron Roots”, but Iron Roots suffices on Grid)
  • Nature’s Fury

as most of the healing will need to be directed at the people suffering from those debuffs, plus the sunbeams. Phase 1 of Freya is always a fairly healing heavy fight and this pairing is no exception. The biggest problem comes when roots meets up with the Ancient Protector as if the imprisoned people are nowhere near a mushroom, the melee can’t free them so casters need to prioritise this and healers should help out if possible.

If as a healer you get caught in this fashion away from a mushroom spawn be extremely vocal especially if you are running with a small number of healers.

Assuming you aren’t silenced, you can damage your own roots but obviously thats a less than ideal solution for healers.

In phase two, you need to keep a particular eye on anyone who gets rooted near the little green bombs she drops (usually the melee) as these will need a lot of focused healing in order to survive (also the other melee shouldn’t be trying to free them, leave that to ranged).

Healers: 6

2 x resto druids

2 x holy priests

2 x resto shamans

Assignments:

1 druid on the maintank & keeping hots on the offtanks whilst the adds are up

1 druid on the offtanks & keeping hots on the maintank

1 priest taking care of one ranged party plus throwing the odd heal on the tank/debuffed people

1 priest taking care of the other ranged party plus throwing the odd heal on the tank/debuffed people

2 shamans prioritising  melee

You could easily substitute Druid number 1 for a paladin and glyph of holy light would help take care of the melee but our only holy paladin is currently slacking due to exams. (Yes these assignments are to make maximium use of prayer of healing and chain heal).

As with most of the Ulduar fights, once your dps stop the tunnel visioned mindless nuking and start prioritising roots, little trees and moving away from other people when they have nature’s fury this is a really simple fight which nets you one extra emblem of conquest and an achievement.

I personally think the easiest add to start out with is Stonebark, he of the ground tremor massive aoe fame, because the combination of roots plus the silence aura can be rather frustating but if you lack huge amounts of aoe healing.. this is probably the one to take down first.

Positioning is everything:

The most important tip here is never to stray too far away from the rest of the raid. Its likely at some point you will need rescuing from the roots and especially if you run with a melee heavy group, you don’t want them to have run miles to save you.

Also don’t all stack under the same mushroom because it goes without saying thats where the sunbeam plus the target of nature’s fury will all end up, forcing the raid to take far more damage than it actually should.

Its also worth making sure your dps are either:

using a macro to target the roots plus the happy little healing trees she spawns occasionally

or

if they are using Grid making sure they have the same debuffs showing

or if they are really after cookies, doing both.

Baby its cold outside!

We are working on hardmode Hodir at the moment and I have to admit the fight has really grown on me. Lots of bouncing around, lots of prayer of healing spamage and a wintery theme.

In order to meet the dps requirement we are naturally scaling back on our healers… (boo hiss) so my top tip is keep an eye on the starlight patches spawned by the druids and use them to speed up both prayer of healing and divine hymn cast/channels. I actually prefer them to the toasty fires now that I’ve found my rhythm of cast a bit, move whilst using instants to reset the biting cold debuff, cast a bit more.

Tentacles vanquished, again

Its been an interesting week. We went from this

yogg04to

yogg01to

yogg02(have to love NPCs who whisper abuse)

to

yogg03

I’m the sleeping white puppy at the front cuddled up with the spring rabbit (dinner). All in all, its a completely awesome fight, especially when all the pieces fall into place and people stop taking it in turns to do stupid things randomly. A slight feeling of sadness though, two weeks worth of raids and thats all the easily accessable bosses down plus one fragment thingie to summon the final one. Was hoping the new content would last slightly longer than that, but got hardmodes, alts and the tournament to play around with so won’t be getting bored just yet.

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