My cup runneth over

Literally.

mycuprunnethover

I love this offhand, first time I’ve ever had one which isn’t either some dusty old tome or a random body part. Here’s to hoping that Icecrown continues the unusual offhand trend. Besides a perpetually full cup has to make you the life and soul of the post raid party, hope that’s something tasty like bitter cactus cider or a good dalaran white pouring out of it.

Its been a busy and interesting week. We finally got enough people online and in the same place whilst the server stopped lagging enough to kill Anub’arak 25 heroic mode. That has to be the most horrendous and hateful fight ever conceived to heal. When he finally died, my hands were shaking so badly that I stopped healing my mark with penetrating cold, which would have been fine if it wasn’t me. Dying three seconds after the boss is embarrassing.

  • Disc is definitely better than Holy here.
  • We ran with 6 healers, 2 paladins, 2 druids, 1 shaman and 1 disc priest which meant than in phase 3, once the marks where handed out, we had one healer left who was concentrating on the tanks/throwing out downranked rejuvs on people looking dangerously close to death.
  • My job fun as it was, was to keep shields on both tanks (MT and OT –  actually a fight where the OT is far more important than the MT eek), keep up my mark in phase 3 and throw shields on our 4 rogues whenever their health dipped really low. That’s a lot of global cooldowns when your hands are shaking.
  • Most importantly get GridStatusRaidIcons, which places a mark on anyone with a debuff, allowing you to assign raid marks for healing penetrating colds easily. However, make sure you have it turned off the rest of the time as annoying really doesn’t do it full justice on most fights.

In other news, I want to complain. Look at the names of the tier 10 sets, ScourgeLord for deathknights, Ymirjar Lord’s for warriors, Blood Mage and Frost Witch… and what do priests get. Oh look we are wearing the Crimson Acolyte’s Raiment.

“The word acolyte is derived from the Greek word akolouthos, meaning companion, attendant, or helper.”

Wonderful, everyone else gets evocative powerful sounding sets but even the name of our gear reinforces the fact that we are “standing at the back in our sissy robes”.  Although the whole set has a Disney feel to it in my opinion (possibly caused by the really ugly stitching), think I’m going to spend most of Icecrown dancing around with my magic broom singing cheerful songs and refusing any crunchy apples if offered by a warlock wearing that witches hat. Its just too big a risk, my guild can only muster two dwarves, Dopey and Grumpy and I wouldn’t trust them to look after me. The other thing that bugs me slightly is, shouldn’t the raiment of the Crimson Acolyte be well, crimson? Definitely not pastel blue, neon green, orange with pink bits or purple and yellow. Thank Elune that I’m a female Nightelf and thus look good in everything.

So only raiding for 2 fun packed nights a week means more time for random running around the world, alts and working on achievements. Yay. Although I’m looking forward to Icecrown I rather hope its at least 4 weeks away.

On a bicycle made for two

The other morning whilst browsing my favourite mini pet site I learnt that the rather flimsy looking gates of Zul’Aman no longer needed a party of five to knock them down. Naturally being a rather squishy cloth wearing type, soloing was out of the question but what a hunter can solo,  a warrior and priest can most certainly two man. So we loaded up the bike with supplies and snack food (might as well make a picnic out of it) and headed off to troll country.

mojo02

I really do feel Blizzard missed a trick by not adding a troll instance to Northrend. Icetrolls up to no good would have fitted in perfectly and would have been a lot more interesting to play with than the Faction Champions and tired bullied Yetis.

Took around 15 hex sticks and the killing of 2 out of the 4 beast bosses, but with 10 minutes to go before the server shut down for some “emergency maintenance” I stopped rescuing random idiots and found the ultimate frog.

mojo01So thats another mini pet ticked off the list. Although its reaching the stage where I’m just going to grit my teeth and start farming for the rest of them.

 

Run away little girl

In this almost quiet period before the release of Icecrown I’ve been playing around with my talents yet again. Out of curiosity and a sneaky desire to slaughter some of our melee on Kologarn, I picked up Body and Soul. Its uses are myriad and amusing so here is the list I came up with to justify my mini sprint in case I had to explain myself.

Northrend Beasts

Gormak the Impaler

  1. If you use a tactic like ours, where all the casters with snobolds run to melee, this helps them get there that bit faster
  2. Gets people out of fires a tiny bit faster, although its still hampered by the fact that they actually have to stop casting and move (if only body and soul forced the person you cast it on to move whether they wanted to or not… would be heaven)

Not one but two Worms

  1. Helps unite the people with poison with the person or persons with fire
  2. Gives the tank a little speed burst to reach a re-emerging worm faster
  3. Gets people away from those with the fire before they burn to death

Icehowl

  1. Allows slightly more leeway when it comes to running away from his charge
  2. If you are on the opposite side of the room to him when he crashes, you can assist the dpsers along side you get back swifter.

Lord Jaraxxus

  1. Handy for melee with the legion flame, lets them get away from the rest of the melee fast.
  2. Great for running away from pesky volcano adds who decide to erupt on top of you.

Faction Champions

  1. This baby was made for kiting. I throw them on anyone who is being chased by melee and likely to get squashed, i.e the people in the raid who can’t pvp.

Twin Val’kyr

  1. Good for your soakers, helps them reach that sneaky orb a bit faster
  2. Great for making sure you can always change colour before the channel
  3. Fun for dodging orbs on your way to switch colours back

Anub’arak

  1. Helps kite spikes around
  2. Lets you run away from annoying little beetles with really sharp teeth (one of our trials who is no longer with us, managed to get that stack thing up to 26k a tick…. evil bugs).

Ulduar

XT

  1. Useful for getting the debuffs out of the raid cluster that bit faster. Especially handy to be popped on the slightly slower than average caster every raid has. You know, the one watching tv or drinking a beer at the same time with only one eye on his or her monitor.

Kologarn

  1. Seeing how much attention your melee actually pay to what’s going on around them. Guaranteed there is someone in every raid group who can be made to fall off the cliff. (Not recommended for use on your tanks or your raidleader though).
  2. Handy for dodging eyebeams
  3. Useful for running away from rubble

Thorim

  1. Good for escaping Sif and her wintery touch.
  2. No excuse for being hit by the charge with body and soul.

Mimiron

  1. Handy for dodging lazors
  2. Useful for getting melee away from bursts or w/e its called
  3. A bit of speed for slacky dpsers who don’t see big bubbles of water until its a bit too late
  4. Also great for running the frogger bomb gauntlet, either for helping people you like to avoid them or running people you don’t like into them

Vezax

  1. If anyone’s tanks still kite, the mini sprint would be useful here
  2. Good for dodging shadowcrashes
  3. Handy for limiting the Mark of the Faceless Damage

Yogg-Saron

  1. Allows you to move from one side of the room faster as you hunt tentacles
  2. Better running away from people with maladies
  3. The self depoison is handy. The mana drain is the most annoying of all the debuffs on that fight.

Algalon the Observer

  1. Helps you reach black holes that bit faster
  2. Handy for finishing a cast and then putting distance between you and cosmic smash

Basically most fights have some aspect where a mini speed boost is useful, whether its on yourself to ensure you don’t get hit by something or on someone else. If you are brave or crazy or just plain lazy like me and PvP as holy, its equally fun in a battleground setting too. You can run annoying fellow teammates off cliffs in Arathi Basin. You can assist flag carriers in WSG or EoTS and most importantly, you can run like the wind albeit briefly as angry enemies pursue you.

In conclusion, its a been a lot of fun but my main worry is that it could become a crutch. Something I rely on to avoid scary stuff, which of course could mean I go squish a lot when playing Disc (just like not having glyph of levitate on my disc spec…..). Therefore, amusing as it is, once Icecrown is released, I’ll most likely drop those two points back into something less gimmicky. In the meantime however running away was never more fun.

The Broodmother returns

and she seems a little past her best.

Back in Vanilla Onyxia always felt a little epic. First there was the slow and torturous journey from Ironforge, by air, by sea and then finally the long ride around Dustwallow. Then the trash, in which at least 5 melee would sacrifice themselves to the fickle Gods of Loot before finally the swift buffing up and the whining about the lack of Dwarf priests by the Maintank.

Now its portal Theramore from whichever spot your raid happens to be in (obviously this is only the case if you rolled the the correct side:p). Pop path of frost and saunter across the bay, zerg trash and go “Oh, doesn’t she look smaller”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hung up on the glory days of Vanilla WoW at all. The game should evolve and change, and no, taking 15 minutes to get there didn’t add anything particularly awesome to the encounter but she’s a watered down version of her old self.

A few simple fixes would help make the encounter a little more exciting without making it impossible to anyone but the most hardcore of dragon killers.

  • She’s tauntable and no longer has a threat reduction. Why…… give the tanks something to worry about instead of bouncing around aoeing whelps. Besides watching her munch up all those little casters who nuked their happy little hearts out in phase 2 when she landed was one of the highlights of vanilla Onyxia.
  • More whelps. Who can resist lots of adorable little dragonlings trying to defend their mummy, besides dancing around spamming Holy Nova was pretty much the highlight of the fight.
  • Flame walls. Who doesn’t ❤ flame walls. Especially when they bug out and disappear on you. Every so often the flame cracks should join up into one massive tidal wave which chases random people around the cave.

That said, its a fun enough fight and the loot obviously helps fill in the blanks/makes for great alt gearing up. However my biggest issue comes from the Head Quest. Having handed in the 60 version in the past, I was expecting something a little more exciting than visit a dark and dangerous pub in the Mage Quarter and have some warlock hand out the item. No head over the gates, no yelling and glorifying of the slaughter, just a passing transaction. I’m at least hoping that come the next expansion, Zardeth of the Black Claw and his collection of broodmother heads will do something nasty and preferably deadly.

Also, in case anyone was wondering/worried, it turns out she still drops Draconic for Dummies VI.

The new Onyxia does raise one interesting question though, why did Alliance Mages get teleport Theramore and the Horde, teleport Stonard. Heroic Sunken Temple coming soon perhaps?

The flaws of gated design

I hate loathe despise detest Blizzard’s attempts to keep raid progress slowed down. One hour a week on Algalon and now the 50 tries per week on the heroic version of the Trial of the Crusader. Yes you can argue that bad players/play shouldn’t be rewarded and allowing people to mindlessly fling theirselves at content until finally by sheer brute force they bring it down is bad design. But wait a second, but that “bad design” is there in every other aspect of WoW. I can battleground and arena to my hearts content, I could spend as much time as I wished attempting Ulduar’s hardmodes… yet here I am limited. Why exactly is that? We have already had to wait 5 weeks for the heroic version to open up and now we have to battle bugged and laggy encounters, losing tries through no fault of our own.

Yes, our server is high population but even so.. zero lag whilst finishing off the normal which spikes to 2k to the second we pull on heroic is well …. frustrating. Add in despawning mobs and I can’t help wishing they stopped making loot pinatas like the 5 man version of said instance (although thats pretty bugged too) and focused on making sure raid content was actually playable.

In short, I would be happier with time or try based limits to my raiding if Blizzard could guarentee that their servers could cope with the load. Based on our experiences last night (and I checked the forums, we were not alone), its obvious that they can not.

I also don’t see the point of normal mode and heroic mode. Normal is far too easy and whilst Anub’arak is a fun fight, its way under tuned on normal for its loot. One shotting everything the first time you see it is just wrong. Ulduar and its hardmodes are far more challenging than the normal version of the Trial yet the rewards for facerolling through the latter outway the former. It just feels like another artifical mechanic which required little to no effort on Blizzard’s part (since all the gear is exactly the same plus or minus a few stats) to try and keep people occupied.

Yet the same people who think that tier 9 should be farmable albeit slowly from heroics won’t allow people to farm pvp weapons from battlegrounds. Shows a double standard I really dislike. The gear from the top tier of raiding and from the top tier of arena should only be available from those locations, effort should always be rewarded especially in a game which is all about progression. I don’t choose to arena, I’m fine with that and whilst I enjoy PvP I’m just not willing to make the time to commit to taking arenas seriously but I also don’t expect cutting edge arena gear. The same should be true of raiding, you don’t need tier 9 to raid heroics any more than I need the current arena gear to battleground on my priest.

I suppose this all boils down to the fact that Blizzard are not my parents and I find it really frustrating that they are trying to limit our play, either by artifical limits (1 hour/50 tries) or by making things not available through grindy methods (PvP weapons from Battlegrounds) yet in the same breath they are trying to push us into doing the daily heroic every day so we can improve our gear faster.

Faction Champions

It seems I’m in the minority here but I love this fight. Its fast paced, chaotic and requires more than hanging around not standing in the fire and healing other people. Is it a PvP encounter, no in my opinion.

  • Taunt works.
  • Fade works.
  • Shadowmeld works even when the rogue is in your face.
  • There is zero team work. So the dps warrior gets our resto druid into execute range and then wanders off to bully a warlock at full health. Random aggro is random. These NPCs need a little more bloodlust.
  • Tanked: In fact Prot warriors are wonderful here. Shockwave, shield slam dispelling hots and such like, annoying interupts/spell kicks.

Whilst I suspect the Heroic version will be a tad more challenging, the normal version makes even Battleground PvP look like a complex mix of tactics and awesome fighting.

What I do find interesting however, is the argument currently taking place on Blizzard’s own forums about whether PvP and PvE require different skill sets. My own personal take on that is no. Skills that serve you well in PvE will also help you succeed in PvP and vice versa.

Basically you can sum up the Faction Champions PvP abilities by looking at their hunter, Ruj’kah and his fearsome pet cat called …………………………… “cat”. Says it all really, bet he moonlights in Azshara farming Azure Whelpings with lots of other hunters who haven’t bothered to name their trusty companions.

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.