Side Note #100

Wow. Just informed by wordpress that the last post was number 100 for me! Three years and 100 posts later and still raiding on my rogue.

This blog was started to replace a blog I had started on a site called Guild Cafe during Karazhan. At that time, I was an officer/Assistant GM for a 10 man guild that was trying to transition to 25’s and Gruul’s. We ended up absorbed by the 3rd ranked guild on my original server, and thus began my extremely hardcore raiding schedule. We ran 6 nights a week, 3 hours a night. As you can imagine, that took a toll on everything in my life.

After about 9 months of 100% attendance, I server transferred to join a guild that ran 4 hours a night, 4 days a week. Both guilds had stopped running MH/BT and were on SWP. With Wrath launch, I was struggling to find the desire to maintain a Top 50 guild mentality and desire. I quit raiding and then the game for about 3 months. With Ulduar, I was feeling the bug again and joined a 3 night/3 hour guild. We progressed through all content and I stopped raiding after a year and a half of 95% attendance. In Cataclysm, I joined a group of friends from my two former guilds to raid strict 10s on a casual schedule. Some quit after Tier 11, and the rest of us are attempting to plug along.

What a raiding journey. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate to play with some great people and great guilds. I’ve got a ton of WoW stories and even gained some real life friends.

Long winded wow history over. Let the raiding discussions commence. 🙂

Firelands – Worst Luck EVER

After making the decision to rebuild our team for Firelands raiding, the five of us that remained knew that we had a daunting task before us. We’ve been on this type of sinking ship before. Sometimes you bail out all the water, sometimes you sink.

While I personally believe we’re far from sinking, our raid nights have had a bit of a “keystone cop” sort of feel to them. We’re failing at things like showing up on time and doing a bit of class and fight homework personally without expecting the raid lead to force feed it to you. Some of this is due to the fact that we got used to being a group of former hardcores who just have good raiding habits by this time. Building a new team will always come with it’s fair share of hiccups.

Some of the things plaguing us have just been plain bad luck as well. Life happens and it happens to us randomly and viciously. A raider’s refrigerator line breaks and floods his kitchen 20 minutes before start. A tank recruit logs off after a ZA and doesn’t come back and we kick him after a week. Another raider had a bad night installing a new system at work on the same night as the refrigerator incident and ending up getting home 20 minutes before end.

Such is raiding. So we’re back to the same options. Recruit a 30% bench and sit tons of people. (Many of whom will quit because they’re sitting and we have a 2 day a week schedule.) Roll with the punches and go when we can and call it when we can’t. Disband and give up the ghost.

We’re currently working on Majordomo. I missed the Alysrazor kill during my week of vacation. So with normal modes almost done in, I’d love to see our team stablize and start whacking at heroics.

Rogue Raiding

I saw that a visitor today found me by searching for how to play a rogue on Beth’tilac. While I’m far from the cutting edge of progression, I’ll share some of my insight and resources used.

Your role as a rogue in any raid is going to be determined by your group’s makeup and the strat your leadership chooses to run with. As a dps class, your focus is always going to be:

1. Staying Alive.

2. Performing any utility assignment you’ve received (i.e. kicking)

3. DPS..DPS..DPS

So we’ll start with living. To survive a fight you need to know how to anticipate the mechanics of the fight you’ll be participating in. Research. Watch vids. KNOW what is going to be happening. Once you’re in the instance, LOOK, LISTEN, & MOVE.

Melee is movement. It’s a dance. You want to maximize your time on target and stay out of the bad stuff. Rarely will you have the Baleroc or Patchwerk type fights where you’re just standing still going through a dps rotation.

For boss mod info, my preferred mod is DBM (www.deadlybossmods.com). However, other options like DXE (Deus Ex Encounters) are also popular. Choose the one that works best for you.

For DPS maximization and fight mechanics, I keep an eye on the Rogue threads over at EJ (www.elitistjerks.com) and I’ve recently become a fan of the vodka guy’s L2R (learn2raid videos) on youtube. Shadowcraft.mmo-mumble.com is the new rogue tool for gear optimization. It can replace all those unwieldy spreadsheets.

My guild group is currently 4/7 Firelands on 10 Normal. We’re raiding 6 hours a week. The 4.2 mechanics thread at EJ has some good basic rogue tips: http://elitistjerks.com/f78/t123899-cataclysm_4_2_x_raid_mechanics/.

Shannox

For this run, I’m usually the solo melee. I stick with the tank on the boss while our ranged dps takes care of killing rageface as well as dispelling any facerages.  We leave immolation traps up around the boss, but I disarm the crystal prison traps around Shannox IF and only IF there are other ones available further out for the Riplimb tank’s use. This fight is mostly a tank and spank for me while avoiding any traps in my area. At 35%, I switch off Shannox and help burn down Riplimb then we push Shannox to 30% and execute him. We pop hero at 25%, and I burn a Tol’Vir potion.

Beth’tilac

For the spider lady on 10 man 1 DPS is sent up to her web along with 1 tank and 1 healer. I was tagged in our group for web duty. The key is getting your group to bring down 3 spinners quickly. We have the tank up first, followed closely by the healer, and then I take the 3rd web rope. You only get ropes from taunting or dpsing down the Spinner spiders. This mechanic is key because you need your tank and 1 DPS to get Beth’tilac to 80% in three web phases. This will ensure that you have enough time to kill her before you run out of time, healer mana, and hope.

While on the web, you have to watch out for the central hole, burning meteor patches, and Beth’tilac’s smoldering devestation cooldown. We drop back down through the center with 5 secs left to her cast. Damage while up on her web is pretty minimal if you don’t stand in the fire. I use feint on cooldown to assist my healer, but my health never is an issue.

If your raid can get a good rhythm for bringing down the spinners and killing the adds that spawn down below, Beth’tilac should be a simple and fun kill.

Lord Rhyolith

Here’s where things start to heat up. Rhyolith is a melee player nightmare. You have a boss the size of your screen, magma flow to stay out of, constant eruption damage, and adds that give off a pulsing damage circle. Oh, and you’ll probably be tagged for steering the monstrosity. Your job will be to manage dps on the boss’ legs to keep him running around his platform and not running into the magma moat. If he drinks the punch, your raid is dead. You facilitate this by using the steering bar that will pop up when the boss is engaged. In addition to keeping him on the island, you’ll need to run him over the active volcanoes that spawn. 2 to 3 volcanoes spawn at random locations on the island after each time Rhyolith does a concussive stomp. Feint and Cloak both work to mitigate or ignore the damage of this encounter. Also, you never want to be close to the edge with your back to the magma on a stomp as the knockback effect can throw you in for a massive hit. After the volcano stomps have removed all of Rhyolith’s armor, he’ll go into his tank/spank phase. Pop hero and stab your heart out.

Baleroc

The fight that our class is made for. The only crazy mechanic here is the Shards of Torment. These crystals will spawn and must be soaked by dps players in a rotation. Our team uses 4 players. It’s a good idea to chose classes that have either a self-healing or some kind of damage mitigation. I soak the 1st shard to 12 stacks using Feint halfway through while continuing to maximize dps, Shadowpriest takes the next 12. Our shard despawns and another shard spawns. Our Hunter takes 12, and the our Warlock takes the final 12. Rinse, repeat until that boss dies and be glad your aren’t a tank or healer. 🙂

There endeth my FL knowledge. I’m heading on family vacation for a week, but I hope to see some Alysrazor soon. Be sure to watch actual raid guides to get some better insight into these fights. Good luck and HAPPY Raiding!

Rage of the Firelands – Catching UP

We had a bit of trouble securing a regular tank. Solution: A guildie RAF’d a real life friend and he levelled a DK. With a solid 11 man team now in place, we were finally ready to get some progression going.

We knocked out Beth’tilac and Lord Rhyolith last week. Then we came in a stomped through Baleroc this week. Now the guild is going to start work on Alysrazor, but their rogue and warlock are going to be on vacation for a week.

We did have a bit of trouble with Rhyolith this week. His turning mechanic seems to be a bit harder and volcanoes seem to like to spawn on the opposite end of the island from the path we’re steering him on. It looks like he will continue to be a frustrating fight for us. Luckily, Eternal Embers have been kind in their drop rate for us and our Mage grabbing the first legendary is at 7.

I hope we can keep up the momentum and keep having a blast.

Happy Raiding!

Intermission

Word on the street with a lot of raiding guilds this month seems to be that things are on a downturn. Think U.S. housing market 2009.

I know our current 10 man team is having trouble with the desire to push on to 4.2. We took a vote and decided that taking a complete break until the Firelands would probably spell disaster as far as a solid team is concerned. So we’ve opted to chug a long. We dropped our raid night down to one night a week, cut out our alt run, and elected to not worry about clearing heroic modes.

These decisions may not seem like a big deal, but coming from a group of former top 50 hardcore raiders going casual isn’t always easy. The main group has been raiding together in one form or another since Molten Core. The rest of us were added to the gang during Sunwell progression.

Is it us or the game? We probably do fit the “aging gamer” model. We’ve all been playing since the first year of launch. We’ve moved from being carefree college gamers to mid-20’s to 30’s professionals. I’m not sure that WoW in it’s “glory days” would hold our attention in the same way it did in 2004.  Also, we’re unwilling to run the 10 + 30% bench that would be required. We have 10 people. It’s all or nothing baby.

A few things that for me would make the game a bit more playable:

1. Shorter heroics – I don’t care if the hardcores think I’m bad. I don’t want to spend 2-3 hours in a pug heroic instance. It’s not fun, it’s tedious. Plus, I’m unwilling to make the time.

2. Tol Barad – If this zone was anything remotely like Wintergrasp, I’d probably log on for a game a day.

3. 10 man Heroic Difficulty – We can clear 12/12 normal tier 11 in 1.5 to 2 hours. With half drunk people. On all but Halfus, we were running into solid walls on our heroic attempts. About a month ago, we checked to see how many guilds had cleared Heroic 10 man worldwide it was around 30 mostly Asian. In the US, that achievement dropped to 3. Uh yeah. We can read the writing on that wall.

In the interim, I’ve played through some Star Trek Online, reduced my 5K completion time by about 3 mins, and enjoyed some spring bonfire cookouts. Win. Win. For me anyway. Whether or not Blizzard will continue receiving subscription dollars from me when SWTOR comes out, remains unknown.

Likes and Fixes…Patch 3.3

And today we get a round of fixes (nerfs ;)) to the previously released Patch 3.3 Frozen Halls dungeons and Icecrown Citadel raid encounters as well as some extra rewards for actually remaining in those Oculus randoms that pop up now and again.

The highlights and a LINK back to the source.

1/5/10

  • The Lady Deathwhisper encounter has seen the following changes in the 25 player normal version: mana pool has been reduced, the health on all adds has been reduced, and Adherents will wait a little longer after spawning before they start casting.
  • Interrupting a fireball being cast by the Ymirjar Flamebearers in normal and heroic Pit of Saron will no longer make them instantly cast Hellfire.
  • The ghost waves at the beginning of both normal and heroic Halls of Reflection have undergone several changes that should make them easier to defeat such as preventing 2 mages or 2 mercenaries from spawning in the 5 mob pulls, a shorter duration of the spectral footman’s shield bash, and the spectral mage’s flamestrike having a longer cast time, shorter duration, and (in heroic) doing less damage.
  • The Oculus loot improvements posted here have been made: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=22418861894&pageNo=1&sid=1#0

So now I feel kind of bad for being all kick happy on the PoS mobs. It’s a bit  juvenile, but seeing people post LFG H-PoS really makes me giggle inside. Also, I don’t think Lady Deathwhisper needed a nerf. It was the only fight in the first wing of ICC that really felt challenging. Oh no, it takes a few wipes to down that? We have to make it easier. Seriously guys, I didn’t love the M’uru wipe fest either, but Lady D was no where near that kind of harsh. (People who claim to have loved M’uru are 1] Sadists-in a bad way and 2]suffering from long term memory issues.)

So a couple of weeks into Patch 3.3 The Fall of the Lich King, I definitely have my likes down:

1. Mutilate. Mutilate. Mutilate – I absolutely love playing this game as a Rogue wielding daggers. I was a bit ignorant in TBC. Thus, why I subjected myself to Combat Daggers up until Lady Vashj. O..M..G…though. Mutilate is so good right now, it feels sinful to use it. Like dps-ing with really good chocolate or scotch.

2. Gunship Battle – Oh ye who complain about vehicle fights, leave your complaints at the teleporter. This fight has it all. Portals with spawning mobs, Cannons and cannon fodder, Battle mages, Faction warfare against Flying Gunships, and last but now least gas-powered ROCKET PACKS. My only regret is that I don’t have a raiding toon Horde side to see this fight from that angle, too.  As melee, I get to zip back and forth between the two ships taking down battle-mages, rocketeers, and axe throwers. Now this is gaming.

3. The opening emote sequence to ICC – Yeah, Trial of the Crusader/grand crusader and its four raid ID’s has me tired of Tirion’s emoting speeches, too. But this starter scene between him, Muradin, the Lich King, and our fallen friend Bolvar almost makes it worth it. I’m loving watching this story unfold.

4. Professor Putricide – I should probably be worried, but I’m really looking forward to stepping through the gate leading to the Plagueworks of ICC and this boss that was barely tested EU side PTR. For once, we don’t have massive amounts of PTR strats and raid kill videos. We have a basic ability list, and we’re going to have to figure it out. In 10 attempts or less. Looking forward to the intensity.

TL;DR version – Mutilate = sinfully good, Gunship Battle = stellar, My anticipation level for the rest of ICC = high

As always, happy raiding!

Happy Winter Veil!

I hope everyone is enjoying their new BB guns, and a very happy holiday surrounded by family and friends!

The Winter Veil Song

(based on The Christmas Song-Chestnuts Roasting)

Worg haunches roasting on an open fire,

The Lich King nipping at your soul.

Winter Veil carols being sung by a friar,

And gnomes dressed up like goblin foes.

Everybody knows a jingling bell and some mistletoe,

Makes all of Azeroth’s heart light.

Druids with their hands all aglow,

Will find it hard to put enemies to sleep tonight.

They know that Father Winter is on his way,

He’s loaded as many food and presents as he may.

And everyone, Horde and Alliance, will try

to make their mounts into reindeer that can fly.

And so, I’m offering this simple phrase,

To levels from one to ninety-two,

Although it’s been said many times, many ways,

A Very Happy Winter Veil, to you.

Yeah, it’s off a bit, but heartfelt none the less. Best wishes! 🙂

Patch 3.3 LIVE

Patch 3.3 hit live servers this week, and was relatively smooth for a patch day. I love my guild leaders for not scheduling a main 25 raid for us on Tuesdays, so we get a bit of a cushion from UI rebuilding and laggy servers.

Most notably Patch 3.3 introduces:

1. Icecrown Citadel (Tier 10) 10 and 25 man raids and a new 3-wing 5 man dungeon The Frozen Halls.

2. Dungeon Finder and random heroics with PuG’d party members from your server’s battlegroup.

The Rogue class changes also bring with them some adjustments to our game play. You can read an update to the EJ Simple Questions/Simple Answers here. The basic combat spec changes to 20/51/0 and is edged out by Mutilate for top DPS in PvE encounters.

I had my first opportunity to run ICC 25 man last night. Our guild was the second on the server to clear all four available bosses in one raid night despite our Wednesday start. In 2 hours and 15 minutes of raiding we cleared through Deathbringer Saurfang then finished with the weekly Instructor Raz raid quest in Naxxramas.

Some notes on ICC:

1. Gorgeous music. Yeah, I know. I don’t play with music on all the time either. But you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t zone in early, and take a second to listen.

2. The Rogue Quartermaster is a gnome! Hell yeah represent….uh. I mean yeah the Tier 10 set looks bad on that rogue, too. 😉

3. GUNSHIP IS AWESOME – It goes down in my book as the most fun vehicle fight…ever, ever, ever. Jet packs, cannons, faction fighting. It’s a blast. Even if our chest was bugged and we didn’t get any loot or emblems for completing it last night, lol.

4. Take the time to watch what happens between after you kill Deathbringer Saurfang. Tragic.

So excited to see what else the Citadel has to offer. So far, so good. I know better than to complain about the ease of defeating these encounters. This is still normal guys. Heroic hasn’t opened yet. 😉

Happy Raiding! And Happy Holidays!

Patch 3.3 – Icecrown Citadel Raid Access

I’m back from sunny FL to the wonderful cold, autumn rains, and the big buzz in the WoW raiding community today is all focused on Daelo’s post about Icecrown Citadel and Blizzard’s plan for Boss availability and attempt limitation in the instance.

Here is the post in full as well as a link to the original:

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=21038229051&sid=1

Icecrown Citadel testing has been progressing very well over the last few weeks, and this has been a huge help to the encounter design team. I want to thank everyone who has logged onto the PTR and tried the encounters there.

As we’re now getting closer to the release of 3.3.0, I wanted to talk about our plans for access progression within Icecrown Citadel. Icecrown Citadel is going to be broken up into four distinct sections: The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls. We plan on releasing these four sections of Icecrown Citadel over time and not all immediately when patch 3.3.0 goes live. At this point I can’t give precise dates for these release dates as they are determined by when patch 3.3.0 goes live. Once dates are known with more certainty, I’ll update the community so they can plan appropriately.

The first section that opens will include the Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Deathbringer Saurfang encounters. Progress beyond that point will be prevented for several weeks. Then the Plagueworks will open with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide becoming available. After another period of time, the Crimson Hall will open and you can then fight the Blood Princes and Blood-Queen Lana’thel. The final Frostwing Halls unlock then occurs after that, making Valithria Dreamwalker, Sindragosa, and the Lich King available. We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.

There are other elements that gate access along the way. Players may not attempt any Heroic versions of 10 player encounters until they have defeated the Lich King in a 10 player raid. Similarly, players must defeat the Lich King in a 25 player raid before they can attempt a Heroic 25 player encounter. So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.

The Lich King may not be attempted until Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, and Sindragosa are defeated. Furthermore, the Heroic difficulty of The Lich King encounter may not be attempted in any week unless the three aforementioned encounters have been defeated in Heroic difficulty that week.

The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana’thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty.

There will be no explicit rewards for defeating the Lich King with a specific number of attempts remaining as there was with Trial of the Grand Crusader. There will also not be an achievement to complete Icecrown Citadel without being defeated by a boss encounter, or letting a raid member die. (i.e. A Tribute to Insanity).

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.

My thoughts:

1. I actually have no problem with the Gating concept. It seems to fit well with the story they are attempting to build with the Ashen Verdict. It also saves guilds from feeling like they have to devote 24 hours to the raid instance for “first” kills. Although that would probably be the argument that top world and regional guilds would have against the “gating” idea.

2. A limit of five attempts seems a bit ridiculous. People are in raiding guilds because they enjoy raiding. If our time is too limited, you have the problem of boredom and losing core team members. Basically here, I just hope they know what they are doing and the potential pitfalls.

3. The buff that will gradually increase is a built in nerf. I don’t see the point of limiting the instance and building in a nerfing mechanic.

4. I’m still excited to see Icecrown Citadel. I’ve avoided too much spoiler information because I want to enjoy it. However, I’ll have to start researching boss abilities to ensure that my role is covered for my guildmates in our limited attempts.

5. I’m really glad they removed the Insanity and Immortality type of achievement. I dislike the dissention it could cause for raid teams. Making what should be farming run stressful and aggravating. This mechanic has not affected my guild yet in ToGC since we are still working on Anub, but I know it wasn’t fun for friends I have in other top guilds.

As always, it will be interesting to watch both the community feedback and the instance itself unfold. What an explosive 5th anniversary. 🙂

 

 

 

The Astral Walker

We proved the worth of our world, Azeroth, tonight to Algalon the Observer.

He had this to say:

  • I have seen worlds bathed in the Maker’s‘ flames. Their denizens fading without so much as a whimper. Entire planetary systems born and raised in the time that it takes your mortal hearts to beat once. Yet all throughout, my own heart, devoid of emotion… of empathy. I… have… felt… NOTHING! A million, million lives wasted. Had they all held within them your tenacity? Had they all loved life as you do?
  • Perhaps it is your imperfection that which grants you free will. That allows you to persevere against cosmically calculated odds. You prevailed where the Titans’ own perfect creations have failed.
  • I’ve rearranged the reply code. Your planet will be spared. I cannot be certain of my own calculations anymore.
  • I lack the strength to transmit the signal. You must hurry. Find a place of power close to the skies.
  • Do not worry about my fate <name>. If the signal is not transmitted in time re-origination will proceed regardless. Save. Your. World.

Upon our hunter’s transmission of the Reply-Code Alpha  in Dalaran:

Rhonin says: We received Brann’s message and we begun preparations.
Rhonin yells: Citiziens of Dalaran, raise your eyes to the skies and observe.
Rhonin yells: Today our world’s destruction has been averted in defiance of our very makers.
Rhonin yells: Algalon the Observer has been defeated by our brave comrades in the depths of the titans city of Ulduar.
Rhonin yells: Algalon was sent here to judge the fate of our world.
Rhonin yells: He found a planet whose races had deviated from the titans’ blueprints. A planet where not everything had gone according to plan.
Rhonin yells: Cold logic deemed our world not worth saving. Cold logic however does not account for the power of free will!
Rhonin yells: It’s up to each of us to prove this is a world worth saving! That our lives… our lives are worth living!

And on that note, RogueRaider is taking a nice jaunt to the sunny beaches of Florida for a week. Happy Raiding and living! 🙂

*credit to WoWWiki.com for the in-game scripting*