Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Update - Quick Version

Super quick update today. Our realm is about 50% through phase 2. I've now cleared MrT (Magisters' Terrace) on both normal and heroic, and I'm about 1/2-way through honored. Tonight we'll see just how easy Mag is in 2.4. Maybe we'll even have time to get back into Tempest Keep after slamming through both Gruul's and Mag's.

On a personal note: have a couple deadlines here at work, but am also taking a 1/2-day today to go talk to a builder regarding the house we've been eying for the past few months. (Escrow will close on our current house today or tomorrow, and then we have a rent back until mid-June.) And we also went out this past weekend to look at some other houses. So... just a little busy. I'll finish up thoughts on MrT tomorrow. (By the way... don't give in... don't let people call it MgT or any other abbreviation. It's MrT, and we're sticking to it!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

First Impressions: Heroic Magisters' Terrace

To give a quick report of yesterday's raid: Yes, we downed Void Reaver. Yes, it took us paying attention a bit more. And I'll even admit that I died and spent most of the fight coordinating while laying on the ground. (Got caught trying to figure out who should battle rez whom, and not looking out for orbs.)

After that, a group of us went to Heroic Magisters' Terrace. It was actually quite fun and a bit of a challenge. I really enjoyed it. We got the first two bosses down, and then the server reset. We went back in to the instance to find that all of the trash had respawned. While discussing whether we wanted to clear the trash again, we got another message that the server would restart again in 15 minutes. So, we called it a night.

The trash mobs themselves aren't all that hard, you just have to have ways of dealing with them. Our group consisted of me (the mage), a warlock, a rogue, and two druids (one feral and one resto). So, we could CC up to 4 mobs... I'm sure that helped out a lot. There's an imp in a lot of the groups, that can be stunlocked/solo'ed by our rogue. If he was resummoned though, he'd wreck a bit of havoc fireballing the healer.

Selin Fireheart wasn't too much of an issue. Just have to DPS him down quick and when he starts siphoning the Fel Crystals, kill them very, very quick. Other than that... it's really your basic tank and spank.

There's then a few pulls into the next few rooms that required a bit of Aoe'ing (at least with our group), but it went quite smoothly for us.

Vexallus gave us a bit more of a headache. Here's what worked for us after a couple attempts. He spawns two Pure Energy adds every 15% of his health. They have an insanely low amount of health. I would one-shot Fireblast them, but I'm sure that was overkill. Then the warlock would take out the other. We held off damaging the boss so that the 30-second Dot/debuff we got from killing the Pure Energy wouldn't stack twice. The rogue was even doing white damage (or less) for most of the fight to slow it down. Then when he hit 20% health and went into his Overload, we all kicked up the DPS as high as we could and killed him before he could take us out.

There's apparently a lot of other ways to deal with the debuff, such as iceblock, letting pets get hit with it, etc. Our way sees like it would work with almost any group make up. Also, our tank had a good amount of Arcane Resist... that helped out a lot as well.

We had the server reset(s) shortly after that, so not much else to talk about. We'll see if I can't get in there again soon so we can attempt the Priestess (which I hear is a heck of a lot harder... we'll see).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Steelweave Enchant

Sorry for the double posts lately... but I also got Formula: Enchant Cloak - Steelweave last night as a drop. I wonder how rare that is. At any rate... it's all mine!!! lol.

Loot Reaver Becomes Void Reaver

In case you didn't read yesterday's post or you didn't log in yesterday or you only casually play World of Warcraft, Patch 2.4 went live yesterday. And as was to be expected, there were many changes. Also to be expected, many people had connection and latency issues last night. We ran our "normal" Tuesday night Void Reaver run, but we were way short on people. I don't believe we started until about an hour late, as people were trying to take care of mods, trying to stay online, or various other misadventures. So, we had a less than optimal group of 25, but it would have still worked pre 2.4.

We worked our way over to Void Reaver with only a few major problems, and then we engaged. Most of us had the updated version of Deadly Boss Mods, and a few of us had the Big Wigs updated version, but the Arcane Orbs were not being announced as they previously were. We even updated to the newest version of Big Wigs between wipes.

So, while there used to be indicators as to who was being targeted, there's now just the visual indicator of looking up at the sky and anticipating where the orbs will drop. I can pretty easily relate it to the Prince fight, because I was always the one staring up into the sky looking for where the next Infernal would drop. The difference here is that every ranged DPS and healer needs to be looking up into the sky to figure out if an orb is dropping on them or on a nearby player.

Being that this task is brand new to a lot of our folks, the night didn't go so well. Then again, even for me, a seasoned veteran in watching Infernals drop, I let a few drop right on top of my head. Sometimes, it seems that they're really hard to see. There's a console command that will allow you to zoom your camera way out; we'll try that tonight. Or maybe there will finally be a real need for the Soulcloth Vest pattern that I've had for so long. I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Oh, and I ran a non-heroic Magister's Terrace. Kind of a fun instance. We were way overgeared for it, but that's okay. And from what I hear from the Heroic setting... well, I think a guildie said it best when he said, "The heroic version is no joke."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2.4 - Are You Prepared

In case you haven't heard, 2.4 went live today. And with that it brings all the wonderful goodness that is broken mods, rolling resets and random disconnects. Oh wait... that's not exactly wonderful is it?

Well, I had another post in mind, but with all my number crunching I think it's better to give you some links and let you take the time and do some research for yourself. I know it won't immediately be available, but you can find the details of all the new badge gear here. You might want to compare that to your current gear here.

For me, I found that the biggest increase in DPS per Badge is actually the Fused Nethergon Band. So, that means with my measly 100 badges or so saved up, I can actually afford it. heh.

Now go! Start doing daily quests so we can unlock the vendor.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Snake Trap

Yes, I know full well that this has never been or will never be a hunter blog. I'm not a hunter. It doesn't fit my play style. That said, I'm going to complain about a hunter ability for a bit.

For those that don't know, I'm a Carebear. I play on a PVE server. Often times I thought it would have been fun to have my toons on a PVP server, but I didn't roll that. When I first started playing, my friend was on this server, so all of my substantial toons (read above level 20) are on Bronzebeard, where almost all of my friends are.

That said, I enjoy PVP. I'm not particularly good at it, but I enjoy it nonetheless. But because I'm on a PVE server, I would like to keep the two separate. I'll PVE most of the time, and I'll PVP when I go into Battlegrounds/Arena or when I intentionally turn on the /pvp flag. Even when I buff somebody that's flagged PVP, because of SmartBuff, I generally do so knowingly. I expect the Horde to pretty much leave me alone, and I do the same to them.

Blizzard seemed to have missed some of these memos though. I'm 90% sure this was corrected, but I can't find it in any patch notes. Rogues used to be able to sap people of the opposite faction, and it wouldn't flag them as PVP. Oh, that was great. A Rogue could use their CC ability and not get flagged. What an annoyance that was. So, if that's true, as a mage, I should be able to sheep somebody and it not flag me either, correct? Like I said, I believe this was fixed, so I'm not crying over this now.

This past weekend though, I happen to go afk while I was in Ratchet. I was at the flight master, but had tabbed out trying to decide which zone I was going to level in. When I came back, I was dead, and saw dead snakes all over the ground. I wasn't flagged PVP. I hadn't moved. The Horde hunter who I had seen before I went afk was flagged PVP, but that should have no impact on me. I didn't hit him. At any rate, I'm not sure what triggered the Snake Trap, but it's not exactly "fair" that it could hit me. I'm sure he did it knowingly. He obviously had to be at least level 68, and I was only 30-something.

Yes, I know I'm crying. Not a big deal most of the time. And the graveyard wasn't even that far, but still... Please fix this in 2.4, Blizzard.

Edit: I know I had nothing to do with this, but it supposedly has been changed in 2.4.

Dustwallow Marsh

This weekend was kind of hectic with me being sick (new sickness) and everyone's schedule just kind of seemed to be thrown out of whack. Since I was never sure how much I'd be on any given toon when I signed on, I spent the weekend mostly playing alts. I got my druid (yes, another druid (long story)), to lvl 38 last night, and I started the weekend at lvl 33. It sure sounds like a lot, but there was a lot of afk time in there as well taking care of various household things.

But the excitement and motivation for leveling him came mostly because of the level range that he's in. I dinged a couple levels out in Desolace, following the good old leveling guide that helped me through things before. (And I think I hate Desolace. I plan to never set foot in that zone again.) Then I headed off to Dustwallow Marsh to try out all the new quests there. (Yes, I know they've been out for quite some time... I'm just finally getting an alt to that level.)

I've said this before, I think Blizzard has really learned a lot about how to create quests and chains and make them feel more epic. The beginning quests used to be kill tigers... just because I said so, and that was about it. No real rhyme or reason or decent back story. But out in the new quests for Dustwallow Marsh, things are actually interesting. They tell you pretty much exactly where to go to complete a quest (unlike some of the vague tips of past quests). There's story lines that end. Heck, they even completed the Shady Inn quest chain. You get to fly over Alcaz Island (which probably hasn't seen anyone since the pre-expansion Dungeon Upgrade quests probably aren't completed at all anymore).

They even put another quest hub, flight path, and inn in at Mudsprocket. The only thing that wonder about is if they've put in a decent amount of graveyards. Thankfully, I've think I've only found 1, and that was because I was lazy and running through a bunch of stuff in travel form. But I didn't have to corpse run very far. All in all... a very good zone. I'm looking forward to completing the quests at Mudsprocket, and then back to the old zones again. Meh... I knew it couldn't last forever. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

World of Warcrack

WoW is an addicting game. There's almost always one more thing that you can or want to do before you log off. There's almost always an alt you can level, or another quest you can complete. Or one more thing to sell in the trade channel. Maybe it's just one more turn-in for a repeatable quest to get to the next level of reputation. Whatever it is, it usually finds a way to take some more time away from sleep, significant others, etc.

I'm sure there's nicknames for other MMO's as well, but World of Warcrack seems to fit right along with the original Evercrack. It's hard to quit. You always want more. And at 15 bucks a month, it's not cheap. (Okay, okay... that is kinda cheap compared to what I think actual drugs would cost.)

Even if you can waltz in and kill the current end boss with your raiding guild, there's always something more to do. And even then, they keep adding patches, and content, and expansions to keep you coming back for more. It's been said that the only way to truly beat WoW is to simply cancel your account. Turn it off. Uninstall WoW from your computer.

To me, however, it's not all about "beating the game". It's about the journey. It's about the entertainment. It's about reading quests. It's about conquering bosses and impossible feats as well. And to do that, I have to spend time playing the game. At a minimum, I'm probably at 22 hours per week. Generally 3 hours per night, 7 nights per week, and then a bit more on the weekends. I'm sure my average is higher, but just throwing out some numbers here.

But, as anyone that's read my recent posts knows, I also have a family. I have a job. And I don't generally play when the kids are awake. (Have you ever tried have a 22-month-old help you to do an instance? Doesn't work so well.) So, I maintain some balance when it comes to my addiction.

I have a really good friend, that can't seem to control this habit. I've suggested having his wife set limits on the Parental Controls, but then I can imagine the resentment if he can't log on at a certain time (say she's out of town or something). Not only does he go for the "just one more" school of thought, he's also very competitive, and so he always wants to be the very best he possibly can be in his class/role. So, he sometimes plays a bit more than he probably should. He's recently "beaten WoW" for the third time. The first two times, he deleted all of his toons so that he wouldn't be tempted to come back. The last time he came back, he reacquired his account from his nephew who had leveled a toon to cap. He (my friend) simply had to gear him up, and he did a great job doing it... again, being one of the best in his class/role. At any rate, he realized he was playing way too much, and he's uninstalled Wow. (At least he didn't delete his toons this time.)

But going back to me, like I said, I generally only play when the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied. I generally require very little sleep, so I also play when everyone else in the house is sleeping. And I try to be sensitive to my wife's needs if there is a time when I need to be offline when she's still awake. But if I didn't have a wife and kids, I can only cringe at how many hours I would probably spend playing Wow.

So, the point of this post is two-fold: A) About how many hours do you play per week. B) What do you do to curb your addiction, so you aren't playing 24-7?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Working on Al'ar

Over the past few weeks, we've been venturing into Tempest Keep: The Eye, and taking on a few bosses there. We've been killing Void Reaver every week; he's really not an issue for us. We generally burn him down on the first attempt, and well below the enrage timer. But the next boss we've been working on is Al'ar, the Phoenix God.

The point where we're at in the "progression" of this boss is that we can pretty easily burn him down in the first phase, but the second phase gives us some problems. Last night, for example, we killed him once, he rebirthed, and then we got him down to 40%... on two attempts.

Let me explain our strategy, so we're all on the same page here, and maybe somebody can learn from this post. :) First off, you should probably go read about the fight over at wowwiki and/or BossKillers, so you can get the abilities and the general idea of the fight. We use 5 tanks for phase 1. 1 tank stands at each of the 4 platforms where Al'ar can be tanked, and then one stands below to pick up all the Embers starting when Al'ar is somewhere around 50% health. Killing the Embers in the first phase only reduces the damage that they do; it doesn't do anything to Al'ar like it does in the second phase. Ranged DPS mostly focus on Al'ar, and also on about the second 1/2 of the Embers. Melee DPS focus on Al'ar and the first 1/2 of the Embers' life.

In the second phase, we have 2 tanks on Al'ar, 2 tanks rounding up the Embers, and then 1 tank holding on to the Embers while the ranged DPS take them down. Melee stay on Al'ar full time, while ranged stay on the Embers full time.

Here's some of the things we need to work on (all in phase 2). We need to make sure that people get out of the Flame Patches asap. It's a very mobile fight, and if you're standing in it... two ticks, and you're probably dead. I think I need to make better assignments on the healers. We keep losing a tank or two at times where we probably shouldn't. It doesn't seem like the ranged are maximizing their DPS on the Embers. We can't kill the Embers while Al'ar is in the air, because it won't damage him, but we can still continue to dps the other embers. Tuesday night, we probably had one of our best teams of 25 in The Eye, but we ran out of time on Al'ar after downing Void Reaver.

I keep telling people though... all we have to do is not die, and we'll kill Al'ar. :) Hmm... maybe I need to be more specific.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Back... almost

I mentioned that life has been a bit hectic, which it has. Had some pretty big emergencies at work last week, and then our son was born last week, so I've been afk for a bit.

Now I'm back at work, but have a few things to catch up on since I've been out for a few days. I really enjoy writing and doing my blog, so I promised myself that I'd post "something" today, and then a real post tomorrow.

So, thanks for anyone that's continued to come to my site even if I haven't posted anything new for awhile.

And for those that care... Zander (my newest son) was 7lbs. 8oz., 20" long. And here's a pic.Wife is recovering, and the rest of the family are constantly wanting to hold Zander. Other than that... just adjusting to being a family of 6.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No... I'm not Dead

Wow... I almost completely neglected my blog. How horrible of me. The majority of the issue was a presentation that I had at work last Friday and the preparation that had to go into it. A small part was that I simply didn't have anything super useful to blog about. Okay, that's kinda a cop-out, 'cause I almost always have something to say. But, on to today's post.

Yes... I'm not dead. I didn't burn up in flames. But I did respec Leiandra. So, after years of being a mostly fire mage, I'm now mostly arcane, with just enough points in fire to get Pyroblast. I still may play around with my spec a little, but I'm enjoying it so far.

I always figured that the arcane spec would be so mana inefficient, especially since in the old days, you had to spam Arcane Missiles. Now, with Arcane Blast, there's a chance to mix things up a bit more. One of the keys seems to be start casting your 4th Arcane Blast while you have the debuff (so fast casting), but then have it finish the cast once the debuff has worn off (so for way less mana). This means that you have to "wait" between your 3rd and 4th Arcane Blast. You do that by filling in the space with Arcane Missiles and possibly a Scorch in there as well.

Wow... that's a lot more than just watching for the end of the casting bar for Fireballs. And it means that I don't really have to pay much attention to the Scorch debuff on the target. And it also gives me the fun toys of Instant Cast (Presence of Mind) and increased damage of Arcane Power. I get a lot more spell damage via Mind Mastery (+ Spell Damage of 25% of Intellect), and more damage done by crits with Spell Power.

Another offset to the high mana costs are Clearcasting (Arcane Concentration), mana regen when casting (Arcane Meditation), and more Intellect = more mana (Arcane Mind). And I also use Mage Armor (more regen while casting) instead of the Molten Armor, so helps a bit as well.

I can still hit pretty hard with my fireballs as well, so I can conserve mana if need be. I'll have to spend some more play time with this to see if I really enjoy it, but so far... it's a fun change. Heck... I can even easily farm fire elementals now. heh.

I didn't get Slow with this go around. I may have to spec into that later. So... message of the day: Try new specs... you might just like them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Leiandra Going Arcane???

I haven't done it yet. It's just entered into my mind. I'm pretty sure I am going to do it. I'm talking about a re-spec. Leiandra has been fire, or mostly fire since she first started gaining talent points back at level 10, years ago.

This is our second week of attempts on Al'ar (only the 2nd or 3rd night of attempts with our raiding schedule), and I know I'm completely useless as a pure fire mage. There's some great articles over at WowWiki that I've been checking out.

I guess the big thing with the arcane tree is the spell rotation. You want to use Arcane Blast as your main nuke, with Arcane Missiles threaded in there as well. Arcane Blast with the full 3 stacks of debuff is quite expensive (mana-wise), but then again, so is Arcane Missiles. You get a number of mana increasing and mana conserving talents, so hopefully that's the offset. I'll have to actually do the re-spec to fully understand the build, I'm sure. It's not the end of the world. And if I hate it, I can always re-spec again. It's only gold, right?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Worst Class to Heal

This past weekend, I got in a Durnholde run with my lvl 66 priest. The group was mostly higher level, and with the high demand for healers that most servers tend to have, I was an easy sell. I was able to do the tour quest while we waited to get our 5th person for the instance. For some reason, I didn't get credit for the quest of setting the houses aflame, so that also meant that I couldn't free Thrall. Oh well.. not like that's the only time I'll ever be in Durnholde being that I still need a lot of experience to hit 70 and whatnot.

The point of this post is more about who I was healing though. The group itself was a pretty good group. We had a couple of 70's, and the druid tank was super easy to heal. Right outside the castle after saving Thrall, we even pulled two groups, but avoided a wipe. The thing that I found the most strange was that besides healing the druid, I had to heal the warlock a lot. This struck me so odd that I thought I better pay attention to exactly what he was doing. I knew he wasn't doing Hellfire... I believe that's the only warlock spell that inflicts damage on self in the course of doing damage. But what he was doing was life tapping... a lot... even in the middle of combat... when he still had over 50% of his health mana!!!

Now, I probably wouldn't have thought too much about it if he had life tapped out of combat or when he was out of mana. I would have gladly healed him for that. But if I'm much lower on mana, and I'm drinking... shouldn't he be drinking too? Besides which, I'm level 66, he's level 70, I'm sure he had a much larger mana pool that I do.

I was once told that stereotypically, warlocks are jerks. They're inconsiderate, and rude. I've had enough of my elementals banished up on Elemental Plateau to know that this is at least true for some warlocks. I don't know if I would use the word "jerk", but I would put this guy in "the group" for being inconsiderate.

As a whole, I don't believe the stereotype. We have a number of warlocks that are really nice guys. But I suppose there's always going to be exceptions. I'm just glad our warlocks aren't stupid like that.

Oh, and I let the warlock die a few times after I realized what was going on. If it was either heal the rogue who was trying to avoid damage or the warlock that was intentionally inflicting damage on himself. I choose the rogue every time. Ahhh.... revenge. heh.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Well, this weekend was an exciting one, to say the least. My priest hit 66. Yeah for Shadowfiend. My shaman hit 64. Yeah for Wrath of Air Totem. And we spent 3 hours in the hospital for our soon-to-be latest addition, but they sent us home. :(

I know this is completely un-Wow related, but it's just kind of frustrating. This is our fourth child, so we kind of know what's going on with the whole birthing process. Yes, I understand, and will willing admit, that each pregnancy and delivery can and has been different for us. But there's still some basics that you just fully understand after going through one, let alone 3 births.

For example, with this pregnancy, my wife has been having contractions on and off for quite some time now. If this were our first child, I'm sure we would have been in the hospital a number of times already. You just don't really understand how much pain real contractions are until you actually have them. So, we held off until she was having "real" contractions. But then the nurse almost seems to talk down to us.

At any rate... the unborn child was a little dehydrated with the heartbeat around 180, so it was a good thing that we went in. But still... frustrating that the new kid isn't here yet.

Back to the Warcraft front... Wrath of Air Totem is freakin' awesome. For some reason, I thought the big totem for Elemental Shaman was the Totem of Wrath (+3% for spell hit and crit). I mean, it is THE 50 point talent for the Elemental Tree. And while it is very useful, Wrath of Air increases spell damage and healing by 101. Drop both of those, and I was putting up some pretty big numbers for a lvl 64 Shaman. I think my high so far is 1999. I'm sure I could twink myself to get much higher than 2000, but I'll just be replacing my gear later anyway, so why bother?

My priest got his dungeon set 3 pants that he won't be able to use for another 4 levels. I also completed my first Durnholde run, but I didn't get credit for burning the buildings. /sigh. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to do it again. I've got a few levels before I have to do BM anyway, soo.... Also went out to Nagrand and did the Ring of Blood thing. Nice little boost to my +healing. :)