Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Noblegarden Tirade

First off: I am not really a fan of the Blizzard Seasonal Holiday quests. I think that it's neat that they've put holidays in the game, that they go to great lengths to make them attractive to people; that part is cool. There's just something about being "forced" to complete all of these things in a specific amount of time that frustrates me personally.

Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting that Blizzard should change anything about them; they're simply not something that I'm normally interested in. I am NOT suggesting that they should keep the holidays and quests around year-round. That would just be stupid. So, I normally just steer clear and everything is fine.

This week, however, is Noblegarden. It's full of fun, brightly-colored eggs, fluffy bunnies, and chocolate. What's not to love, right? And this year, they even gave some love to mages by providing a new polymorph: rabbit.

So, since I had some down time due to coming down with a flu/head cold (no, not swine flu), I decided to try to go collect some eggs. "Sure," I thought, "just go collect a few eggs." Then once I felt sucked in, I figured out just how many I'd need to collect.

I guess I got lucky with opening some of the eggs since I got the pet and all of the clothes (except the Spring Robes). But I still had to collect 255 eggs. And that's including the 100 chocolates for the polymorph. Still... I didn't find it fun. In fact, I kept thinking of something along the lines of this:
And this song kept going through my head as well.

I started seeing red as these innocent-looking, but evil-to-the-core bunnies hopped around greedily gathering up all the eggs they could. While sitting still they'd poop out these small eggs, that should be lootable, right? I mean... they are eggs. But no, that would have made things too simple. You'd be able to hide in a corner and collect your own eggs, but alas, that didn't work.

The hate started to consume me. And I found that I wanted to finish this achievement simply so that I wouldn't have to see any more bunnies. So that there would be no temptation whatsoever to think, "Oh, I could just go grab a couple to get a little closer." No, the hate drove me to finish.

And I was further enraged by these little bunnies hopping around that had names like Legolas the Noble. YOU ALREADY HAVE YOUR TITLE! LEAVE THE EGGS ALONE FOR THE REST OF US!!!

I even snapped a little when I got turned into a rabbit last night during trash pulls. I fully expected that this owuld happen at the beginning of the raid (and it did), but thought it wouldn't continue once we started figthing. When I asked the raid to stop (not calling out anyone in particular), my wife called me a "fun sucker".

Okay... maybe I was just a little groucy from being sick. But still. I am SO glad I'm done with that, and I really don't want to do it ever again. I'd much rather wipe on one boss for a month of raiding. That's how bad it was for me. So, thank you, Blizzard. Thank you for helping me completely waste even more of my life on these achievements. *sigh*

Monday, April 27, 2009

Argent Tournament: Jousting Strategy Complete

So, I've had a number of comments on my original post about jousting. I really intended that more of a post on both NPC's and PC's. And that strategy pretty much works. If you get ahead of a PC at the beginning of a duel, you're guaranteed a win if you just stick by him and keep your shields up. But the NPC's do a few things slightly different than another player would. I figured I'd give a more complete guide to jousting and completing the daily quests.

First the skills during the duel:
1: Thrust
2: Shield-Breaker
3: Charge
4: Defend
By default, these are bound to the number keys as listed. You also have a heal (5) that will heal you to full out of combat only, and, in the tournament area, a duel (6).

Here's the steps:
  1. Stack the Defend until you have 3 stacks, and it is no longer on cooldown. (Remember, this buff has a 60-second duration, so you must recast it within 60 seconds even if you haven't lost a stack.
  2. Talk to the NPC to start the fight.
  3. He'll start to walk away, so with him targeted, you start spamming your Charge attack (3).
  4. Your momentum will usually carry you through the enemy, so you can make a circle to turn around and walk back to your opponent.
  5. Now here's the trick that I haven't seen mentioned other places: as you are turning around, spam the Shield-Breaker (2) ability as you walk back to your opponent. It doesn't usually get to cast (due to shared cool-down with Charge and/or range), but in some instances it will. If it goes off, great! You've knocked him down another shield. If not, no big deal. Either way, make sure you close the gap to get in range of your Thrust.
  6. At this point, you should be back next to your opponent and using the Thrust (1) ability. Spam the Thrust until your opponent starts walking away.
  7. If during that foray, you lost a shield, make sure you cast Defend, to bring it back up to 3 stacks (while spamming Thrust).
  8. When he starts walking away, stay in place. Now go back to step 3 (spamming your Charge ability) and go through all the steps again until your opponent is vanquished.
There's probably faster ways to do this, but I'm guessing they're riskier. If I'm paying attention (and not responding to tells), I'm generally at about 50% health when finished. The races that like to back off more often (Blood Elf and Gnome come to mind first), I'm usually left at about 70%.

And there you have it: Quick, easy, and reliable wins against the other tournament participants.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Argent Tournament: The Insult

I'm a little taken aback right now. I've perused the official Wow forums enough to know that there's a lot of jerks out there on the Internet. I'm sure it's partially a function of the anonymity of the Internet, and partially a reflection of a lot of parents that have done a horrible job at teaching their children respect.

I've mostly written this blog for myself, and hopefully there's a person or two that has learned something or at least been entertained by my writing a time or two. Heck, I've been pretty diligent about posting over the past almost 2 years.

But this is something new. I actually got a vulgar insult as a comment to my Jousting Strategy Post. I deleted the post since I found the insult crude, unimaginative, and quite frankly, unhelpful.

So, I went to my my traffic counter tools to see "who" this person was. (As a side note, I was surprised just how many people were looking for information about the Argent Tournament on my site.* Don't they know about Wowwiki?) The question now is... how much fun should I have with somebody's IP address from Newburyport, MA?

*Looks like I'm #1 on a Google Search for Argent Tournament Jousting. LOL

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Argent Tournament: Champion

Last night I stayed up way too late to finish up my last few quests to become Champion of SW after the raid. (I didn't have time before the raid.) I was expecting that the defeat the Black Knight quest would open up and then just the other faction quests. I didn't realize that I'd be faced with a bunch of other dailies for the Champion Badges. Sure, that makes sense, I just didn't think about that one.

I'm getting to the point where I'm almost starting to get burned out on these quests. It's taken a bit longer than the rest of the dailies I've suffered through, but I also haven't gotten burned out yet. The small motivator now is to complete quests and become champion for the other factions so that I can get Champion's Writs and then get exalted with my home factions. I guess just something inside me figures that I've done enough stuff for cities like IF and SW especially, that I really should be exalted with them. But no, I'm still only revered. I'm only about 2k away from SW rep, but I might as well focus on another one and get the SW rep with the 25% extra they give to all other factions.

So, will I be champion of all factions? I'm thinking I probably will... but not at the consistent rate I did it with SW. But I now have an Argent Squire. Of course... for somebody that's not really a fan of "pets", I'm not really excited about this one either. But at least it's not some smelly skunk pet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

GC added to Mirror Image

I haven't seen this written anywhere. It's possible that with all my skimming, I simply missed it. But before 3.1, the global cooldown was not triggered when Mirror Image was cast. From Wowwiki we get the following (retrieved on 4/20/09):
This spell is not affected by the global cooldown nor triggers it, making it a universal DPS increase to cast.
This was obviously written before 3.1, because now... well... it does trigger the global cooldown.

I simply wanted the mage community to be aware of the change if they weren't already.

Argent Tournament: Improved Jousting Strategy

I'm not one day away from becoming a Champion for Stormwind. Why am I so pumped about these quests? I honestly have no idea. All I can say is I'm having fun doing it. Heck, I even logged some hours to improve reputations (Dranei starting area ftw) with the home cities. They're now all Revered.

BUT... as I was jousting this weekend to continue the dailies, I realized that there's a different component that I use when jousting. For the NPC's, I actually let the walk away so I can charge them. (Spam that 3 button!) Sometimes they take down one of my shields, but I just put it back up. Circle around, and then spam that melee attack again. It makes the almost stale-mate strategy move just a little bit faster.

Another word on the shields. They last for 60 seconds. That's it. If you don't lose a shield, you have to remember to refresh them. I almost lost a duel yesterday because I forgot to refresh my shields (even though I had all 3). So, I ended up with no protection and saw my health quickly declining. The NPC was actually even ahead at around 20% health. But I just kept to the charge-spamming and steady decrease in his health.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Argent Tournament: Jousting Strategy

As I mentioned in my last post, I've really been enjoying the whole Argent Tournament area. I've even been enjoying "dueling" other jousters. (*gasp*) This may come as a shock to those few people I've actually dueled. Generally when I get annoyed enough that somebody wants to duel me, I accept the duel, and then just run away. For whatever reason (probably mostly because I usually get schooled), I just don't enjoy dueling as a mage.

But dueling as a jouster is a different story. Probably because I win. So, today I'll break my little secret as to how I win every duel since I implemented this strategy. It's essentially a game of get ahead and stay ahead. That's it. So here's what you do:
  1. Make sure you have all 3 sheilds up when you start and your shield action button isn't on cooldown.
  2. Get far enough away to charge your opponent immediately. Maybe it's my latency, but I've always been the one to charge first.
  3. This should drop a shield from your opponent and put his health lower than yours. If he doesn't immediately put up his 3rd shield, then you get to get even further ahead.
  4. Now simply stay close, make sure your shield stay up, and spam-attack him with the melee attack.
That's it. If you're ahead of him at health at this point, which you should be, then just keep attacking. I know it will take awhile, but it's pretty much a guaranteed win. Sure, your opponent will attempt to get far enough away to shield break you, but as long as you shadow him, then you don't have to worry about it. Just stay close and keep attacking. I'm sure it's the training that the quests give us that you have to get rid of all of somebody's shields... but really... you don't!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking News: 3.1 Launched Today

Okay, so it was yesterday. But if you consider how the servers crashed (at least the instance ones... multiple times on Bronzebeard), then really, it's like it actually landed today. :)

But I do have impressions of the Tournament and quests. I finished all the dailies, and got a good portion (not sure how many quests are in the chain) of the way through the Black Knight chain. It's fun so far. It's neat to joust. While I haven't done it yet, I like the idea of it being a PvP part of the game. It would be the only truly equal way to display skill in Wow. The real Battlegrounds or other PvP is so based on lvl, gear, and classes, that skill is almost an afterthought. As far as I know, once you get on a horse, you have the same stamina as everyone else. To me, that has appeal.

And the dailies themselves... well... they're daily quests. They're neat and fun. And I love that they put the items you need to use right out there with the quests you're tracking. But... well... they're dailies. After doing them 15 times, I'm sure I'll be sick of those too.

So, here's hoping our servers will stay stable tonight, and we'll actually get to see and down some new content.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Improved Scorch Nerf

So, here's a little guilty secret of mine. Ever since I respec'ed to Frostfire for raids, I haven't taken the Improved Scorch talent. We usually ran with 2-4 other mages, most of them spec'ed Frostfire as well. So, why waste perfectly good talent points on Improved Scorch when I didn't need to cast that "inferior" spell anyway?

Instead, I got to use my extra talent points on other stuff. Dragon's Breath, Blastwave, and Fire Starter were the three that made things particularly fun for me. They increased my Aoe Damage and since I never cast Scorch, even my single target DPS was higher. I simply did not think about Scorch; and frankly, I was glad to be rid of that spell.

Now with 3.1 going live today, Improved Scorch has been changed a bit. Instead of 2% increased spell crit stacking up to 5 times (total of 10%), it's now 1% increased spell crit stacking up to 5 times (total of 5%) PLUS 3% crit for Scorch, Fireball, and Frostfire Bolt. So, while it was in part kind of a selfless talent, it now has both a selfish and selfless component. Which means, that I pretty much have to spec into it now. *sigh*

So, as a raiding mage, I get 8% crit on Frostfire Bolt and 5% on everything else. Meanwhile, our arch nemesis, the Warlock, gets Improved Shadow Bolt (a staple for Destro Locks), and they only have to cast it once. And yet, we still have to cast an inferior spell 5 times in order to get the same buff as a main nuke from a Warlock. I don't get it. I guess it simply boils down to "Life isn't fair." lol

I guess the only question left is, do those two effects stack? It's almost as if Warlocks and Mages will be forced to work together. *shudder*

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Speed Runs (Naxx and Others)

Okay, today's post is a bit more serious than yesterday's satirical one. And rightfully so since today is the first day of Guild Leadership Appreciation Day for 2009.

Suffice it to say that there are a few people that are no longer part of Primogeniture, so we've had to slightly rebuild our guild over the past few weeks. We've had some struggles, but overall we've pressed forward and we've succeeded.

This raid week, we've gotten back to the point that we can clear Naxx in 2 raid nights. That's probably about 4.5 hours of raiding for our guild. Sure it's not the 1 hour speed runs that some guilds are seeing, but it's better than 3-4 nights that it was taking us. And this was with 23 people on the second night. I don't recall how many we had on the first night.. but must have been less than 25 since we pulled one of those people in as soon as he hit 80 towards the end of the first night. (And he's a prot warrior, so was just along for the ride and gear we would have sharded anyway.)

Back to the point though, there's a number of very simple things that our guild (and probably most guilds) did to be able to speed up their runs. If you're old skool enough to remember the 45-minute Baron run back in the days before TBC. You had to run the Gauntlet in Stratholme and kill Baron Rivendare in 45 minutes. Our guild did it at the appropriate gear level; in other words, I don't think we had a single raid item between the 5 of us. Our group consisted of 2 mages, a holy priest, a prot warrior, and a versatile (but mostly feral) druid. And the pace was fast. We chain pulled. We created multiple mana gems. Looting was seen as a time sink (and mostly unnecessary to our relatively geared group). We pulled only necessary mobs. We had our druid that truly played the hybrid role; melee DPSing, tanking when we didn't want a patting mob to have to make another cycle, and healing to conserve the priest's mana. Honestly, it was crazy fun. And then taking those lessons and finally killing Lord Valthalak... Truly some epic times. We even got the kill posted on YouTube.

Basically, most all of these same things will work for your Naxx run, or any other run you want to step up the pace. Here's some of the points:
  • Chain Pull - Try to get through mobs as quick as possible. Healers don't need full mana. Heck, you probably don't even need 100% of your members there as well. Just know the pulls, and know what your group can handle.
  • Quick Looting - Whatever your method is (DKP, /roll, need or greed), try to handle it as fast as possible. (This ain't no Baron run where you're sharding everything.)
  • Fight While Looting - In a 25-man raid, there's generally about 4 items that drop per boss. Maybe 2 people are interested in each item on the average. That's 8 people that stick around for the loot while 17 people move on to kill trash. Or maybe you have to wait for a few items to be distributed (and the interested parties to be ready to kill trash), but you most likely can press on before loot is finished.
  • Quick Rebounds - Wipes happen. Even with wipe prevention, there's still downtime when people are dead. Quickly determine the fastest path to getting everyone back up. This isn't an excuse for 1/2 the raid to go surf the Internet. If everybody's running back, than everybody should be running back.
  • Short Explanations - If you know the fights and how your guild does it, this is probably a moot point, but do your best to pay attention to the person explaining it, and they should do their best to keep the explanations of each encounter condensed.
  • Proper Buffs - Everyone should be buffed. This also includes Flasks/Potions and Well Fed Buffs. Even if you vastly outgear a raid dungeon, it's not a bad idea to throw on a flask (or at least a cheapo Potion) to help speed everything up.
This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, but it does cover probably the major time killers. Feel free to add other suggestions if you have them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Increase your Total Damage Now!

Tired of Class Officers riding you about your low DPS? Want to be at the top of your damage meters? Now you too can learn the secret of how I top the meters.

That's right... Critters.

Clear the damage meters right before a pack of these babies, smack them down with a sweet spell such as Arcane Explosion and then link away! I'm sure none of your officers will notice you're the only one on the charts. But hey! At least you're DPS will be pretty high when you attack a pack of these critters.

There's also an achievement to support this habit.

But on a bit more serious of a note: Are you a Critter Killer? Are you the one always hunting down rats, maggots, or turkeys? How far will you go? Does this madness never end??!!??

Me? I'm a CCK (Casual Critter Killer). If I see an untouched pack of critters sitting around, I'll Aoe them, just to teach them a lesson. I'll even melee ones as I'm walking by. But to actually target one... (besides a turkey... and only that one time)... nope... not me. Too much effort.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How Does Your Guild Roll?

First off.. don't forget about Guild Leadership Appreciation Day starting on Thursday, April 9th and going until April 11th. That said.. on with the post.

This thought actually comes from a conversation we were having on our guild forums. And here's essentially the quetion: How many people does your guild have? And more specifically, how many active people?

I think long gone are the days of guilds having hundreds of people. It's just not necessary or prudent. If you have even 50 active raiders, you're probably having a lot that are inactive or a load of people sitting on the sidelines. Given that you need 25 people to fill a heroic raid, you may need about 10 due to RL stuff or people just not being on. (Who knows... maybe that's just our guild.)

I always thought that the perfect group would be 25 people with like schedules. But life happens. People get sick. Others need days off. Sometimes accounts even get hacked. <.<

I don't think there's any right answer here. I'm sure some guilds have some very dedicated people so they only need 25. There may be a guild that can't put together a 10-man group with 100 accounts in the guild. They're all different. Just seeing what other people thought about it.