Thursday, September 27, 2007

2.3... a Great Patch

So, there's been a tidal wave of information about patch 2.3 come from the official forums. Before all this was released, I would have been happy with just Zul'Aman and guild banks, but it sounds like there's going to be a ton more.

Since I play a mage, I'm most excited about the new stuff in the works for 2.3 for them.
  • Mages will soon be on the same playing grounds as warlocks in that they will be able to do a Ritual of Refreshment in which all members will be able to get food and drinks from this buffet table. No more having to create 120 water before a raid.
  • Drysc also wrote in the same post that the nerf tax on improved Fireball and Frostbolt will be gone. Hurrah! Hey, maybe I'll be able to outdamage that hunter in our guild now.
  • And Evocation will no longer be Spirit-based, but will return 15% mana every 2 seconds. Huzaah!
There's loads of other updates for 2.3 for other classes as well. Probably the easiest thing to do it check out WoW Insider for all their posts. (Sorry... I guess I'm just mage-centric.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mass Resurrection

I happen to be looking at Thottbot out of curiosity to compare how much mana you get back when rezzed by the different classes. I could be wrong, but I don't think that +healing helps out these numbers at all; they just are what they are. So, my suspecions about priests being the best rezzers were confirmed when I saw that they restore 1150 mana and 1100 health where the Shaman and Paladin only restores 800 mana and 600 health. (I had never looked at the actual numbers.) I also throught it was interesting that there aren't any resurection spells after level 60.

Well... per Thottbot, there is one resurection spell after 60. If you look at the paladin spells, you'll see the following spell that is a level 70 spell.If you look at the comments for the spell, it says that it's either an NPC only spell (think Battle Grounds) or it never made it out of TBC beta. Man... that's just too bad. Can you think of all the time that could save in a raid? With a little creative movement of groups after some deaths, each pally could rez up to 4 people at once. There's no training cost, and there's no associated "place" to learn the spell, so it sounds like there's no chance of us getting it any time soon. I guess we can cross our fingers for Northrend though.

2.2 Impact

Given previous patch days, yesterday seemed like a pretty smooth patch day. After the few updates I was able to get, most of my mods seemed to work. From what I could tell, the world servers all pretty much stayed up. (We were about to engage Gruul when Bronzebeard went down for a short time and then the instance servers were down for about 30 minutes. But overall stability seemed decent for a patch day.)

Of course, I know there's some guildies that would completely disagree with me. Who knows what add-ons some of them were using, but we were getting a ton of people that kept relogging multiple times. One guildie threw his hands up in disgust at how poor a company Blizzard is. Personally, I think the standard UI is pretty stable, it's just the mod community that hasn't updated all their mods. Can you blame them? It had only been a few hours since the patch went live.

I've seen a couple different lists of undocumented changes. The two that I really noticed were:
  1. All members of our raid that got killed in the High King Maulgar fight got rezzed with full mana. (Although the Druid's Rebirth was the same.) I'm sure this is a bug, but was nice to have last night.
  2. UI scaling has been tweaked. To quote Hortus from the official forums:
The WoW client now automatically resizes windows to maintain aspect ratios.

So if you are in windows mode and and have the same resolution set in game as you have for your windows desktop the window will be slightly re-sized to fit into the space allowed above the task bar. This eliminates stretching and distortion that occurred when windows were filling the available space.

If you do not have UI scaling turned on your UI elements should stay relatively the same size when switching resolutions, you can use the UI slider to adjust the size to your needs.

I guess it's time for me to turn on UI scaling so I can fit all my add-ons on the screen. Anything else you've noticed in Wow 2.2?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2.2 Rolled Out Today

So, anyone that logged on last night was well aware that the realms would be down for scheduled maintenance today. Anyone that has read any Wow-related site, probably knows that 2.2 has now been launched and you can download and install it immediately. Of course, you'll have to wait until 11 am to actually be able to experience the new content. And if you're on one of the realms that the Voice Chat isn't being rolled out on yet (like Bronzebeard), you'll actually have to wait another week to fully utilize patch 2.2.

My first comment about today's patch is that the background downloader worked perfectly for me this time. I've had all the settings correct. I've checked ports on my router. But the background downloader has been spotty for me in the past. So, I started the download this morning, just in case I needed to download the whole 76 mb file. But, to my surprise, I only had to download about 4 megs I launched the downloader. Yeah! Has anyone else had an issue with the downloader or has it just been me?

Since there were no major changes to the UI this time, I imagine that 2.2 won't break my mods as usually seems to happen on patch day. Sure, the mods will need to be updated with the correct version number, but I'm guessing that most of them will be the same. If you see any of your mods or hear of any "major" ones that got completely broken in 2.2, post that here as well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weapon Master of None

A little while ago, Galoheart over at Ardent Defender wrote that he had gained mastery (350 skill) of all weapons skills. Being a paladin, he naturally wants to have all weapons at max skill. My response as a mage, of course, was congragulatory, but mentioned the unnecessity of the feat for a pure caster class. I've skilled up my staves to 320 (stopped using those a long time ago), my swords to 343 (was using the [Blade of the Archmage] for awhile until I got my [Nathrezim Mindblade], which I'm currently using), and skilled up my daggers to 321. I even got my unarmed skill up to 232 one night when I was "helping" friends in Mauradon. Of course, I do have maxed out wands at 350.

This question comes up because I spent some time with my Shaman this weekend. I got a new 2-handed mace in which I had 1 skill when I equipped the item. I think any of the healing classes have a pretty easy time grinding through the misses and parries to skill up. For my Shaman, I simply put found a single mob at my level, placed a stoneskin totem and healing totem, and every once and awhile had to pop out a heal. I did the same with my priest a long time ago. Miss, miss, miss, bubble, heal, miss, miss, miss... It was slow enough that I could go get a drink, but not long enough where I could go take a nap.

But the question that comes up... is there any real reason for a pure casting class to have maxed skill at weapons besides a wand? Sure, there's some situations where you have to melee, but you aren't really doing damage. You're just throwing up 1's and 2's in a feable attempt to help out your true melee friends. Even out of mana, you'll still most likely wand way before you even think about busting out that sword/dagger/whatever. So, just wondering if there's something I'm missing by not having things maxed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cryolysis: Revived and Killing Blows

I can't believe that I haven't written about one of my favorite mods. And since it's kind of important to my story, I guess I'll have to highlight it now. So, today you'll get the 2 for the price of 1 deal. I'll try not to be too lengthy.

Many months ago, I finally got tired of opening my spellbook every time I wanted to teleport or open a portal. Open spellbook... click on next page until I get to the back... and then finally find the right city to open the portal. Yet those spells weren't important enough to warrant their own hotbar button either. So, the next logical step was to find a mod that would ease my pain. What I found was a full-service mage buffet.

I believe there was an original mod called Cryolysis. It probably worked about the same as Cryolysis: Revived, but Revived was updated for WoW 2.0. There's a whole bunch of things it can do, but I'll just hit some of my favorites. Head over to Curse for a full description. It's basically this sphere with spell circles around it (as seen in the picture) that is able to cast all mage spells.

-Portals- Yes, all of your portals and teleports are packed in tightly to one button. click the button, and the sub menu will open up with all your choices.

-Reagent Restocking- Set how many Rune of Portals, Rune of Teleports, and Arcane Powder you want, and every time you visit a Reagent Vendor, it will restock those items for you. I'm rarely out of reagents in normal situations.

-Eat/Drink Button- Sure you can create a macro for this, but you get this nice big sphere that you can click on that will cause you to eat and drink at the same time.

-Sheep Watch- I used to use a sheepwatch mod, but that didn't get updated in 2.0. I believe my other mods like Quartz handle the sheep timer bar, but Cryolysis provides me with an audible notification that the sheep was broken. (Warning: not 100 effective, but still pretty, darn good.)

-Mana Gems- You can use the Mana Gem button and sub menu to cast and use your mana gems. Was a huge bonus when I starting doing Kara and found that I needed to have multiple gems for the long fights.

And if that doesn't give you mages a reason to check out this mod, I'm not sure what will.

Well, along with other fights, we went to battle against Prince last night. Our raid DPS wasn't the highest, so I knew that it was going to be a long fight. I used potions, I used evocate, I used gems. Wait... I thought I used gems. Well, those little buttons on Cryolysis are so small. I usually don't have any problem with them at all. Just for whatever reason, I missed that I hadn't used my second gem.

Well, Prince seemed to stay at 1% health for a very, very long time, which I'm sure he did since many of our raid members were dead by this point. (Prince fights aren't usually this close, but our high DPS rogue got boxed in by Infernals, so we lost her early.) I was doing all I could, but didn't have much left. Wand, wand, scorch, pray that he dies, etc. There was a moment of panic when he killed the tank, and ran straight for me. The scorch was all I had left in me until I was out of mana again. It was already casting. Other than myself, just the healers were alive. Scorch goes off, I died, and then he immediately fell over as well. I checked the combat log to verify that my Scorch killed him, which it did. It would have been a lot less scary if I had used my gem (which I didn't know I had at that point) and just Fire Blasted him. But the bigger question in my mind: My Scorch went off first. I killed him. How did he kill me? It's not like it's a Fireball that has a delay between the time you cast it and it hits. It's an instant-hit spell as soon as you finish casting. Odd... just odd. Bottom line, I guess, is that he's dead, so what did it really matter?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


My recently returned paladin friend respec'ed to protection, and has loved every minute of it. "I can actually solo quests again", he says. Protection Paladins using damage to keep agro makes sense that he can solo better than a Holy Paladin. But what about some of the other classes that are "forced" to take a specific role? What does the Holy Priest do to farm primals? What does the Protection Warrior do to the same?

The sad truth, it seems, is that most people roll an alt. So, you'll have your warrior for raiding, but your hunter for supplying your warrior with money. Hardly seems fair that a "pure" class has a huge advantage in this solo area. Oh, sure... the other class/spec will be able to kill the mobs, eventually. It just doesn't seem "fair".

So, I started thinking about other games I've played and how they've done things differently. How they've leveled the playing field, if you will. My first thought was that of Neverwinter Nights. I know, I know... it's not an MMO, but still. You got to hire a henchman that could do what you couldn't. If you were a barbarian (I think that's what they called it), you could hire a healer or mage-type to heal you or blast your enemies away, but you could only hire one.

In Guild Wars, the same type of thing was true. Depending on which area you were going in, you could hire one or more people (NPC's) to go help you out. Sure, they NPC's were way weaker than an actual player. Part of that was in design, I'm sure. It gave an incentive to group with another real player or two. And there's many, many more games that have somebody to help you out like this; although again, I'm well aware that they aren't MMO's.

Is World of Warcraft going to implement something like this? Extremely unlikely. The way that quests and mobs are tuned, it would completely unbalance the game. They've made the game much more solo friendly, which, I'm sure, was one of the initial draws of so many people. Where as other games forced people to group past a certain point, I think Blizzard has made the point that that's just not fun to the masses.

Never having had a high level non-DPS toon myself, I'm really not sure what one would do. I guess if you have friends to come do damage for you, it'd make everything better. But... What do you do?

Frame of Mind

Gear can be epic. Friendship can be legendary. ~ From the makers of Redshift, a film by slashdance. Featuring "The Cheyenne Line" by the Ataris.
I've watched a lot of different Wow videos. This one, by far is the best one I've seen. Then again, I've been doing a lot of video editing at work, so it makes me appreciate it a heck of a lot more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One-shots with a Side of Wipe Fest

After what seemed like miscommunication for our first wipe on High King Maulgar (and not counting that attempt), we 1-shotted both High King Maulgar and Gruul the Dragonkiller. Once again, one of the huge parts of these fights is simply understanding everything that goes on, and then using the strategy given. I'm convinced that if all 25 people were to go and read the same strategy guide some place, there would be minimal attempts (assuming sufficient gear, of course). We had 3 T-4 pieces go to 2 tanks, so that should help keep those guys alive. :)

Since all 25 people were already assembled, we thought it would be a good idea to head over to Magtheridon's Lair to see what he was all about. We had one person that has experience with Mag, so after reading the fights on Bosskillers and Wowwiki, we hoped that would be enough. It really wasn't.

There are 4 groups of 3 mobs that you have to kill before you engage in the main event. And while we didn't have to do a corpse run (SS, Self-Rez, and Devine Intervention ftw), it was pretty embarrassing. I didn't learn until this morning when I read about the trash on Wowwiki that I'm supposed to be one of the ones on top of interrupting the Shadow Bolt Volley. Well no wonder we kept getting nuked by those. /sigh

And while Mag himself can be done with 4 tanks, I'm not sure the Raid Leader understood about the whole getting stronger thing with the death of each Hellfire Channelers. We had our druid tank 2 of the channelers, the last two we planned to kill. Oh yeah, that's a noob mistake on that one. (Noob for the raid leader and all the people that didn't speak up about it.) So, we had Channelers running all over the place, and it was a fast wipe. For that attempt, we didn't have 2 of our stronger healers, and some people had to leave and so we had to call it after only one attempt. Of course, it felt like about 4 attempts after suffering through the trash. Well, now that I know a little more about the trash, hopefully it won't be so bad the next time we try it.

I ended the night by skilling up fishing a bit. Got about 20 skill points while talking to friends to hit 196. (Yeah, I'm behind in that quiet a bit.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Last night was scheduled to be our first attempt at Magtheridon. Most of the leadership knew that we would probably wipe, but it would be a good reminder to everyone just how much gear we need. The bulk of our members are on by 8 (some much, much sooner), and we start our raids at 8:30. From all of our reading, we knew we needed at least 4 tanks (ideally 5), and probably about 3 or 4 warlocks. At 8:45, we still only had 2 tanks. So, instead of wasting everyone's time, we decided to go into Serpentshire Cavern to kill trash mobs.

The trash mobs aren't too difficult. It was really apparent that our raid, as a whole, needs a lot more stamina on our gear. (Not just the tanks which used to be the battle cry.) There's the potential to get drops of about a dozen purple patterns (blacksmithing, leatherworking, and tailoring), and about a half a dozen other purple items. While you can't completely gear up by just killing the trash, it's possible to give your raid some really nice upgrades. We did get one pattern last night that will eventually be an upgrade once the piece is made. One of our priests got the pattern for [Boots of the Long Road]. Other than that, it was just a good learning experience.

We did venture far enough in to kill all the adds around the Lurker Below, which boils the water and kills all the fish that normally eat you up fast if you fall in. You still get hit for about 500 damage per tick in the water, but that's far less then what the fish do to you. So, since we were there, we thought we'd give the Lurker Below a quick try. We got there and we started fishing (that's how you pull the boss). Apparently it can be 1 time fishing or up to about 8 minutes or so. Once we pulled him, we realized that nobody knew what to do. Lack of planning ftl on that one.

We had a good laugh, and then all three of the raid leaders that were on, started looking up strategies. We had all prepared for Mag, so we didn't even think to read up on the others. I think I sped read/skimmed fast enough to be able to explain most of the fight, with a short questions and answers session following. We tried two more times, each attempt was better, but we are still a long way away from downing the boss.

It was really a good learning experience. Like I said, a reality/gear check for most of us. And since we didn't expect much going in, everyone was in really high spirits when we left. (Nothing worse than beating your head on a boss that you've killed before, but now can't.) So, we get to keep focusing on those last few kara drops and keeping/securing Gruul's lair on farm.

Monday, September 17, 2007


So, I was looking at my traffic, and I found where Blizzard put me in the "class guides". Well, it's not so much a mage class guide as it is in the General Guide Links. That may be a better description for the things I talk about anyway. So, to anybody newly visiting the site: Welcome! I'll return to my normal blogging tomorrow.

Step 3. Profit

So, about a month and a half ago (right smack in the middle of Blizzcon), I submitted my blog because Blizzard was asking for some class guides. A lot of the other mage guides seemed very technical, and maybe a bit too advanced for some people. Plus, I figured that if Big Red Kitty could be considered a huntard class guide, than why not me?

Like I said, it's been a month and a half now. I really figured that they'd just forgotten about me, and I was okay with it. I enjoy writing and that's mostly why I keep this blog going. Plus, it gives me a place to brag about all my accomplishments. (Even though most of my regular readers at this point already know what's happening because it happens when they're right next to me killing the boss. lol.)

Well, today out of the blue, I get an e-mail from Nebu, one of the Web Content Managers, in response to my self-nomination for a mage class guide. The one line answer of "Thanks. We've added this!" So, while I have yet to see the update on the official Class Guides page, frankly, I'm mostly excited that they responded. lol. I'll be sure to take a screen shot when I actually seem my blog's name on Blizzard's site. Sorry I'm gitty... that's just what you get to deal with today.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Starting Over

A friend of mine has recently come back to playing World of Warcraft. This is his second time coming back after deciding that WoW took over his life enough that his wife was getting seriously upset over him playing. The last time he was playing was just a short time before the expansion. Upon leaving, he deletes his characters so that there is no chance he'll be tempted to resubscribe. I mean, who would want to level to 60 again, right? Well, this time, instead of leveling to 60 70, he stole his account back from his nephew who was no longer playing. And lo and behold, his nephew had a 70 paladin. Granted it was on a different server, but the paid transfer was a heck of a lot less excruciating then taking a toon from 1-70 would have been.

It's funny to find out about all of the things that his nephew has done with is paladin. For example, I believe he said he has 3 land mounts in his bags. So... a horse (he is human after all), an epic horse, and a PVP Battle Tiger. Oh, but nevermind the fact that he's a paladin and he can summon both a normal and epic mount. lol.

Well, last night I started helping him get keyed for Karazhan. It was quite humorous the back and forth conversation that we had. We spent a good portion of time figuring out that while he had started the quest chain, he hadn't gotten the 2nd and 3rd key fragments yet. Once we got those, it was off to BM to get the actual key.

"Wait. Have you done Durnholde?" I asked. "How would I know that?" We figured he was because he has the Mount Hyjal quest, but upon attempted entry to Black Morass, he was denied. So, it was off to Durnholde to rescue Thrall. Luckily the people that we were with were all guildies where I could explain the situation. Otherwise, I'm sure they would have thought he got his account off of e-bay.

So, besides all of that confusion, we also finished off Attuman and Nightbane. So, 4 instances in one night. Granted they weren't 4 full instances, but still. Hmm... maybe I should get out of all the dungeon crawling so I can make some money every once and awhile. I'll make that my goal for the next week or so.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Karazhan in One Night

Background: Primogeniture uses the GEM (Guild Event Manager) mod to organize the in-game events. It's really quite simple. You install the mod, and then you sign up for events as we, the guild leadership, puts them on the calendar. For this week's runs, out of 20 slots for 2 groups, only 1 healer signed up for the run. I think it was mostly because people just weren't sure they were going to be on or not. So, to make a long story short, we canceled the "official runs" for this week. But we knew that people would form groups once healers were online, which they did.

Since I'm usually one of the people organizing them, I decided to sit back and see what would happen. Human interactions are always fascinating to me. I'm such a people watcher. It was interesting to see who grouped with whom when they weren't being told where to go.

The group that invited me and I ended up going with was probably one of our "A" teams. Tanks - well, I don't think we had our best-geared tank, but he's still an awesome player. Healers - we had our best paladin, which we always joke is like having two healers anyway, and another paladin as well. DPS - this is probably where we were most stacked. Yes, there's other people in the guild that have higher DPS then a few of us, but not much. And for my guildies that are reading this, if you weren't with us, I'm not minimizing your skill, gear or play style. Bottom Line: we just had a really, really strong group.

Well, we got started a tad late. We usually start at about 8:30, but last night it was closer to 9. We ran at break-neck speeds. After 3 and a half hours, everything was dead except for Attuman and Nightbane. (Oh, and the animal boss, but like anyone counts them.) All bosses were 1-shotted, and we got a lot of great upgrades for people as well. I think only 1 thing was sharded. And we finally got a warrior to win a T-4 item. Gratz to Rinoc.

So, while it's kind of lengthy, it is possible to do Karazhan in one night. Nightbane? Yeah, we'll finish him off tonight. We just had a few people that were too tired to 1-shot him as well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gruul the Dragonkiller Slayed

Here's really the key to killing Gruul. Just don't die. Yeah, I may have oversimplified just a tad. But yes, last night we killed Gruul the Dragonkiller. The shatters really make for an interesting battle. Every 45 seconds or so, you get thrown up into the air in a random direction, and then have about 5 seconds of increasingly slowed movement to get into a position away from other people until you are stoned (no, not that way), and you can't move for 5 seconds. Then, if you've done a great job, nobody's within 15 yards of you and you won't take any damage. If there's too many people next to you (or just 1 too close), you'll die.

There's other mechanics to the fight as well. But I found a great spot where I could run against the side wall just before the Ground Slam (which throws you in the air). Running into the wall usually would result in me just standing in the same place. And as long as nobody else was thrown into me, I wouldn't take any damage at all.

At any rate, the exciting part is downing him. But also is exciting is the loot that is dropped. Our guild got the [Leggings of the Fallen Hero], the [Leggings of the Fallen Champion], [Shuriken of Negation], and something else that I really don't remember. I thought I had my T4 leggings in the bag when I rolled a 96; but, Encore (one of our warlocks) pulled through with a 100. They would have been nice to have, but I'm a patient man. Just one of those things that because I rolled so high, I thought it was mine. But, that's the luck of the roll.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So Close on the Dragonkiller

We ventured into Gruul's Lair to take on the Dragonkiller himself, last night. Because of various conflicts in schedule, we took 6 (or 7, I forget) mages with us. We were a little short on healers having only 6 for about an hour, and then 1 had to leave. So, we got Gruul down to about 17%. There were improvements on each subsequent attempt, but we just couldn't down him last night.

Our main problem, obviously, was that we just didn't have the heal power we normally do. Two of our most equipped healers weren't online; and overall, we just couldn't pump out the same HPS. So, all in all it was a valiant attempt. If we had tried a couple more times, we probably could have had it. But we'll try it again tonight, and we should be successful.

One of the things I was kind of baffled about was Scorch. As I've mentioned before, when you have 5 Scorch Debuffs up on the target, everyone does an additional 15% fire damage. One of our mages is Frost, so he doesn't count, but the rest of us are Fire. The odd thing was though that there were only 3 of us that were renewing the Scorches. Ideally, we only have to cast 1 scorch each, and with 5 of us, we've got the full 15%. I really noticed this when two of the other Scorchers had died, and the rest of us were alive. I first noticed that I was the one that kept renewing the Scorch. So, I did a little experiment and let the debuff run out, then I started Scorching it up again. I had to cast all 5 of the Scorches.

In theory, the highest DPS should be casting Scorch the least. Let him hit with the Fireballs to cause maximum raid damage. The lowest DPS should probably be the one to hit with the improved Scorch every 25 seconds or so. Everyone can pitch in at the beginning to get the full 15% and also to maintain a lower aggro at the beginning. I just don't understand how as a fire mage, you would completely ignore this spell. /boogle

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kill the Healers

I did quite a bit of PVP over the weekend, and it got me thinking about all the tools that are available to a mage. Sure, I've known about the Frost Nova/Blink trick since first gaining those two spells. That works great for the melee targets. But what about the casters? What do we do against them?

In most of my PVP adventures this weekend, there was a lot of healing going on. In a few pre-made Warsong Gulch battles, both teams had so much healing that even having all the DPS focus on one person, we still couldn't kill them. The same thing happened with our Arena team, but on our side. By luck of who was online, we had 3 healers in our 5 vs 5 group. While some of the fights took a long time (6 minutes by one fight), we were almost unbeatable.

So, how do you stop those casters? Or more specifically, how do you stop the healers? Two spells immediately came to mind. The first is obviously Counterspell. A well-timed Counterspell can stop literally thousands of health being replenished to your enemies. If you have improved Counterspell through talents, it means a total lockdown of all spells for 4 seconds. Plus, this spell is not a part of the global cooldown recieved after casting a spell, so it's always ready for your use. The 24-second cooldown means you can't spam it all over the place, but that would be a little too over-powered anyway, wouldn't it?

The second spell that came to my mind was that of Polymorph. The 1.5 second cast takes a bit longer, especially when you're in the heat of a battle, but elliminating the enemy from any interaction for 20 seconds (which is what I believe polymorph is in PVP) is just great. Downsides of polymorph is that it heals your target, any damage will break the polymorph, and it can be cleansed by paladins or dispelled by priests. Paladins can also bubble out of the polymorph for themselves. But there's also no cooldown on polymorph, so you can pretty much chain poly somebody, but deminishing returns come into play real quick in PVP.

Then one of the best spells for this comes out of the fire tree. While it is a 41-point talent, Dragon's Breath is just a really great spell. With my +/- 1000 spell damage, Dragon's Breath hits for about 1100 damage. And then the targets are disoriented for 3 seconds. But more importantly than the damage, is that it stopped the heal from being completed. So, sure... not as effective as the Counterspell, but it's not like you have to choose one or the other... you choose both! It's really a great spell to have around to help deal with those pesky healers (and provide some

So, what do you do when you get hit with an improved counterspell or silence? I'm still trying to figure this one out. Sure, you can wand. But I think my personal favorite is to run around screaming like a little girl. Well... you are silenced... so maybe it's one of those too-terrified-to-make-a-sound screams.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Aggro - Defined

For those of you that have played World of Warcraft in any group (which, reading this blog, you probably have) know a little term called "aggro". Each mob (or enemy) has what is called as an aggro table. Whoever is at the top of that aggro table is the person that mob will attack, generally speaking. So, to look at the 3 roles: Tanks want aggro while Healers and DPS generally want to minimize their aggro so that they don't exceed that of the tank. (In some cases, DPS is the tank, but that's not the focus of this discussion.)

Different classes have various ways to deal with aggro, hate, or threat, as it is sometimes called. Tanks (warriors, druids, and paladins) have abilities to increase aggro. They either do this by directly damaging the mob or using a skill that is intentionally designed to make the mob focus on them, called a taunt. I assume you understand this concept, and if you don't, do yourself a favor and take a look at the spells that those classes perform. There's more than a few of them that say something to the effect of "causes a high amount of threat." As a tank, you'll probably want to use these skills a lot.

Some of non-tanks have ways to shed aggro. For example, every 30 seconds, a hunter can feign death, and as long as it's not resisted, the threat towards him is completely erased. Every 5 minutes, a rogue can instantly vanish and erase his aggro. Paladins can help all of the people in this role by casting Blessing of Salvation. And for my final class example, a mage can cast Invisibility every 5 minutes, but it takes 5 seconds to have the full effect in which time you can't cast anything or be hit or you'll have wasted it.

All that should be review for you. If you need more details see Threat or Aggro over on WoWWiki. Today however, I'd like to focus more on two other types of aggro that are just as real and maybe even more dangerous, but I haven't been able to find them listed on WoWWiki yet.

Parent Aggro. Generally caused on school nights when you're up too late. A large amount of threat can also be generated by failure to do chores, homework, or upon obtaining bad grades because of outside factors (especially playing Wow instead of putting forth the needed effort). This is a very specific type of aggro. Generally speaking, you can only get on an aggro table of two "mobs" in the world by generating this threat. Normally it is easier to aggro the female mob vs. the male mob. But once equally aggroed, they're both a force to be reckoned with. This type of aggro can cause you to lose a precious healer at 1 am (healer's local time) on a Thursday when you're about to pull Nightbane.

Spouse Aggro. This is probably more well known as Wife Aggro or generally mispelled as Wife Agro. To keep this post non-sexist, we'll use the gender neutral term. This is the more severe of the two "unusual" aggros. Your parents will always love you even if you "waste you life away playing stupid video games," but your spouse may not. Causing Spouse Aggro can cause long periods of afk, but usually for days at a time. Normally upon pulling Spouse Aggro, one must work hard to repair their reputation with the mob. Gifts can work well, but generally just spending time with the "mob" will raise you from a KoS reputation level. Akin to Spouse Aggro is also the GF/BF Aggro, and to a much lesser extent, the Children Aggro. GF/BF Aggro may need to be assessed, because it may eventually develop into Spouse Aggro, but excessive aggro at that stage may cause one to reflect if said aggro is really necessary at all. Children Aggro varies, but can usually be reduced by bed time, nap time, movies, candy, or other mind detouring activities.

Be more wary of pulling these types of aggro far more than anything else in the entire game. They are dangerous. They need to be avoided at all costs. Work hard on the reputation with said factions, and you shouldn't have an issue.

Are there other types of aggro that I missed?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Karazhan Speed Runs

I'll be honest, as a mage, I like to start fights with 100% mana. It doesn't matter if it's a trash pull or boss pull.

In theory, you never know when you're going to get an extra mob by accident or let the mob get off an extra heal before the interrupt (see also: kill). A mage (and a shadow priest for that matter) without mana can do a maximum of 184 DPS (non-crits) and that's with one of two Black Temple drops. You want to get less crazy, you can get the [Merciless Gladiator's Touch of Defeat], but again, that's only 179 DPS. Since mages have Evocation (every 8 minutes) and mana gems (every 2 minutes), for this analysis, I'd probably group mages with Moonkin Druids (Innervate every 6 minutes) or Shadow Priests (Shadowfiend every 5 minutes). Other classes can life tap (assuming a healer still has mana) or still sustain some dps through weapons or auto-shot.

In practice, however, I think I rarely use more than 50% mana on typical trash pulls. And the 50% is probably only when we have heavy AoE fights. So, in reality, I really don't need to have much down-time between each of the trash fights. I can drink while the trash is being pulled and controlled (assuming no sheep), which should be sufficient to sustain my mana to acceptable levels if not full. I tend to save the evocation for the boss fights because of the long cooldown; but, worst case scenario, I could use that on trash mobs too if need be.

I bring this all up because of what we are now doing in Karazhan. We've pretty much distributed the people into two hopefully equal teams. And both teams move very quick. We did through Curator last night, and then tonight should be another semi-easy walk in the park to clear the rest. It's fast paced, so it feels a lot like the 45-minute Baron runs. Which leads me to think... why were we going slow before? Yeah... I'd say we have Karazhan on farm status.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Hard Way

It has come to my attention that sometimes I do things the hard way. I think, in a way, I'm also what you would call a "pleaser". I work fairly hard to help my friends, no matter what the situation. I always remember back in high school on a Friday night when a friend called me because his car was stolen. So, I left the group of friends I was entertaining at my house to drive the 5 miles to find that my friend had simply misplaced his car, and had since found it in my travel to his aid. (Before the days when everyone had a cell phone, obviously.) I was not angry; in fact, I was relieved that he still had a vehicle. And it became a running joke between friends.

But I also recognize the importance of completing goals and accomplishing tasks. Especially when I'm leading others, I have a strong desire to do the job right and fair. From the little "hard core" raiding experince I have, it seems that the typical Guild Master or Raid Leader (certainly not in my guild) tends to have this lofty attitude and isn't usually willing to listen to others, or just be mean or harsh in general. Sure, it's a pain to get whispers from 24 different people in a 25-man raid. But sometimes, there's valid input. "Hey, maybe this strategy might work better... just a thought." -or- "What do you want me to do?" -or- "Cat's on fire, gotta go." And for a guild that seems to have a surprisingly large amount of "mutes" on Vent, it's usually much easier for me to track the whispers then the goofing off that can happen in raid chat.

On Monday night, the group we had going into Gruul's was pretty solid. We had enough of each for role in the fight. I think High King Maulgar was taken down about 20 minutes after the first trash mob, and there were plenty of attempts on Gruul himself. Last night, however, it was a different story. We had to be a tad creative in our attempt. There was 1 less tank, so we had a rogue tank Blindeye (the priest and first to die). Our 1 warlock did a great job taking care of the felhounds, but they still ran rampant every once and awhile. (We usually use at least 2.) Not to mention that some of our key people that live in the same area were having connection problems like no tomorrow. (Just hope the storms gone now.)

It was a learning curve, that's for sure. I'm certain we could have pulled it off if we didn't have so many lag/connection issues. There were some issues when we first started the attempts, like getting the pull down, but we worked them all out. Just not a lot you can do when one of your tanks goes offline mid-fight. So, that was the hard way, I suppose. A few other players had logged on in the last 30 minutes or so of our attempts, and we brought them in and substituted out a few people. Also to change it up, another raid leader took over. Not that anything at all was done or conducted differently. After the change, we took them down on our second attempt. I guess that was the easy way.

I got a number of complimentary whispers thanking me for doing a great job with what we had to work with, which I really appreciated. I think I got one smart alec comment after we downed him that our previous failures were "Lei's fault". Oh well, boys will be boys.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

I've been working on getting some badges to purple out the last few things I've wanted and help some guildies get geared up as well. The fastest, "easiest" way that we know of is Heroic Mechanar, and the general consensus tends to agree with us. So, myself, a rogue, a prot. warrior, and a feral druid all grouped up to go to Mech. In case you didn't catch that, we were short a healer. The LFG channel conjured up a resto Shaman that agreed to go with us.

If you've ever been in a group that has a know-it-all that didn't really know anything, you'll understand what this Mechanar run was like. Most of us have a lot of experience running that instance, but I'm always open to suggestions. Of course, after that run, I'm less inclined to try something new. We wiped a number of times. It got so late that I started to fall asleep. On top of the that, the Shammy wasn't geared very well at all. We ended up skipping the second to last boss, Nethermancer Sepethrea and wiping numerous times on Pathlaleon the Calculator. Overall, just a really painful run.

The next night, our same group of 4 found itself again needing a healer. As the night before, there were no guild healers available. So, off to the LFG channel again. After my first "LF Healer for Heroic Mech" post, I got a response that a level 33 had a level 70 priest that could come. Call me a skeptic, but it was almost as if he was a bit too eager to come. I imagined him in greens with maybe a couple blues from quest rewards. I pretty much imagined a repeat from the night before, but with a priest instead of a shaman. Boy, was I wrong. This guy was decked in mostly purple. Not even sure why he wanted to run Mech, to be honest. lol. It wasn't a perfect run, but it went so much smoother. We easily took down the bosses with minimal deaths. We did skip Nethermancer Septhrea again, but we gave her a couple attempts before we decided we were just too tired to try again. But we probably could have done it.

It's not really "when good groups go bad". It's just always amazing to me how the key elements like a tank or healer can make a, well... a good group go bad. (Ugh, how cliché.)