Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gloriosity Attained

It ended up taking a lot longer than I initially supposed it would, but last night with the help of one guildie and some pugs (!!), I got my last two achievements for the Cataclysm heroic dungeon meta. Those last two, if you're curious, were the Deadmines dream-gauntlet speed run and killing 60 cultists during the High Priestess Azil encounter. The healer for the last one didn't quite read closely enough when I explained it beforehand and pulled some of the guys with healing aggro, making the pull take longer and actually causing my guildie tank to die, but the achievements popped up regardless! Yay! And then the healer actually battle rezzed the tank and we went on to finish the encounter without dying. Whee!

Click for biggeration!

Terribly exciting!

In other news, I'm really, really, really hoping that we kill Cho'gall this week. The strategy we're using is really leaning pretty hard on the DPS, and especially our ranged. We leave our two melee on the boss most of the time while ranged try to murder the slimes. We've actually gotten it practiced well enough that we've started pushing phase transitions, but we haven't done so well enough yet to really get practice positioning the boss and killing/interrupting the tentacles.

I actually think Cho'gall is a pretty well-designed encounter, though. There's something for everyone to be doing constantly, and elements of it are challenging for everyone. For example, if I'm playing correctly, I should be able to keep the slimes immobilized for 12 seconds almost continually while applying good AoE DPS to them. I'm also using scatter shot and wyvern sting to break worship channels and helping MD the big adds to our add tank. Everyone else has a similarly frantic number of things to keep track of and do, and everyone's using way more of the abilities in their spellbook than they typically do.

I wouldn't want every encounter to be like this, but for a tier end-boss, I think it's pretty good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I've had some experiences in the past couple days that have made me sorely tempted to post spittle-flecked rants that are not at all related to WoW, so you should (all 0 of you) be thankful that I've resisted the urge to do that. I've also sort of considered posting a couple stories from my 2006 deployment to Afghanistan. Or well, less stories and more ruminations. I feel like that's starting to turn into a really unattractive clinging to an increasingly irrelevant past, though. A person is defined in part by their past, sure, but also by their present and future.

VA continues to work on Cho'gall. We've been extending the lockout, but being the guild we are, our weekly raiding time is still pretty limited. I do think I'm pretty settled on the strategy we've chosen to use for him, and I think it will work for our raid, but it's requiring quite a bit of practice. I think that's ok though - we're not really that far out of the norm of what a lot of guilds have had to put in on Choggsington, and apparently once it clicks it's a very repeatable boss. Then we go to work on Nef, and once he's dead we'll clear out Throne of the 4 Winds. There's still no solid date for 4.1 and T11 doesn't became old content until 4.2, so we should be ok to get it all down in time. There may be a couple of holes in the raid's gear in terms of what people would ideally like to have, but in general I think our progress through T12 should be quicker than T11 has been. And hey, it's not as if every guild made the transition from Wrath to Cataclysm as relatively unscathed as we have.

Pradzha is down to three last achievements for her Glory of the Hero drake: Headed South, Vigorous VanCleef Vindicator, and Rotten to the Core. They're probably the trickiest three, but we've also got enough good people (and, you know, raid gear) that we can definitely get them. Thanks especially to Jargon and Crapemyrtle, who are always willing to take a shot at an achievement for me.

That said, the endless quest for achievements is one of the things that causes WoW to be an especially potent timesink. There was a period of almost a month where I didn't log on outside of raids, and in that time I read a few good books, played a Dragon Age Origins game almost up to the final battle, and played some Dawn of Discovery and Sims 3. WoW is in many ways a great game, but there are lots of other great games to play, great books to read, and great movies to watch. I sometimes worry that I'll let it take over all of my leisure time, which would be a huge shame. There are so many people on this planet, making so many wonderful things, that we already won't have enough time in any of our lives to experience all of it. And this is all on top of trying to live a life that is in some way at least a small improvement to the life of our fellow humans and other creatures.

I guess that's not really a challenge unique to any particular hobby, though. We all pretty much just do what we can. And for me, right now, that means posting this and then launching Open Office to try to work on a little bit of fiction.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Satisfyingly enchanted

I got a couple upgrades during the Very Busy period of the semester, one of which was the VP cloak whose abundance of hit upset the relatively careful balance of all my reforging. In addition to letting my reforging fall out of wack, I actually raided for two nights without any enchantment at all on my cloak. Woops! That's why it felt so good, now that I've had more time to play recently, to really get all my item-enhancement ducks in a row. I purchased the bracer enchant pattern off of the AH and handed it to one of the guild enchanters, so now my bracers have the 50 agility enchant and I don't feel like I'm gimped compared to leatherworkers. We've also been able to do the more expensive boot enchants for most of our raiders, myself included, which is pretty wonderful. Finally, I wandered back over to the reforging guy and optimized my reforging such that I'm only 4 rating over the cap. Wunderbar.

I've also been playing around a lot with tanking on my gathering alt. It's been pretty fun, although I'm getting really sick of Lost City, Grim Batol, and Halls of Origination. I bought her a BoE cloak off of the AH and I think I'm going to be moving on to heroics once I've replaced her hat, probably with the JP purchaseable. It'll be a little scary, since I'll still have a couple greens when I start, but I've also got her relatively well enchanted and, since she's a warrior, she can pop a damage reduction cooldown at the start of every single pull. I've also been having a surprising amount of luck getting people in normals to use CC, so hopefully the people in heroics will be just as willing to use it. I think that, if I play smartly and do things like transition from the shockwave stun into shield block, that should give the DPS enough time to kill enough things that she doesn't get gibbed by the incoming damage. It's been interesting getting a sense for the tank's perspective on things, as well as really making me appreciate how well behaved I am on my hunter, you know? I misdirect, I FD, I single-target the kill target instead of spamming CCed mobs with multi-shot, etc. Some of the very elementary mistakes that hunters in my group are making have me considering making a "how to dungeon" post, even.

What would really be neat would be making guide videos, but I'm just not sure if my computer can handle running FRAPS and instancing at the same time. And then if it could, I've never done any video editing - I don't really know where I'd start. Maybe something to keep at the back of my head for the next expansion.

Friday, April 8, 2011

BoA Goodie Bags

Well, awesome! They've posted a clarification on their plan for the dungeon call to arms and, indeed, the goodie bags are BoA. I really think this system is going to help address DPS queue times. And since they are going the BoA route, people really don't have a whole lot of room to complain - if they think it's "unfair," they can roll a tanking alt. This may, in fact, be the impetus I need to dust off my gathering alt's neglected prot spec and try to gear her up. It'd be nice to have an OT available for our raids, too. Wins for everyone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dungeon Finder Call to Arms

On April 7, Bashiok announced the possible addition of a call to arms system for the dungeon finder. There has been a lot of negative reaction to it, negative reaction that I personally feel is mostly misguided, so I wanted to chat about it a little bit.

I actually think that this proposal is genius. I could re-state Bashiok's post, but that seems superfluous: if you haven't read it yet, you should go read it. I think the goodie bags, and specifically the non-combat pets and mounts, are an elegant solution to a difficult problem. I use the phrase "elegant solution" here quite deliberately, too. I most often associate that phrase with solutions found for problems in the sciences or engineering. It carries connotations of finding a very simple, yet creative fix for what had appeared to be an intractable problem. And the long DPS queue times really had appeared to me to be such a problem.

There are a couple complaints that I'm seeing a lot about this proposal, both of which seem really flimsy to me. The first is something along the lines of this:

"The only people that are going to queue for these bags are bad tanks and DPS players without any tanking gear, spec, or experience."

To be honest, I don't see a whole lot of need to give this any sort of serious response. It's a bald assertion with no evidence, not even logical evidence. I don't see why anyone would think this. I mean, if the goodie bag incentive is going to work so well on bad tanks and non tanks, why wouldn't it work on decent tanks? Are those players actually aliens or something? I always assumed they were players that were pretty much similar to myself, and I see no reason to change that thinking now.

Even if you weaken the statement to "most of the people that will queue for the bags," I still don't see any reason to think that that's true.

Look, think about it this way. It is an indisputable fact that good tanks use the random dungeon system. You just can't argue with me on this one: I've had too many perfectly decent tanks in random dungeons. Really awful tanks have been a distinct minority, in fact.

It is also true that these decent tanks get instant queues.

Since they're getting instant queues, I don't see any way that they could possibly not be gearing up faster than DPS players. Remember that they're decent tanks! They're clearing most of the instances they start.

Once these tanks are geared up, they have no reason to continue using the queue system.

The goodie bags are there to convince these geared folks to step back into the queues for a chance at some toys, flasks, and so on. I see no reason why this wouldn't work.

The second argument I see most frequently leveled against the goodies is that it's "unfair" or it "devalues" the mounts and pets that people have already ground. Again, I don't buy it. None of these are raid items or real prestige items - they're all things that you can get with varying degrees of patience. And they're all "devalued" as-is, by the relentless march of expansions. Anzu mounts were exponentially more rare in BC, when you had to have a druid that had spent the 5,000 gold in the party and H-Sethekk Halls was relatively challenging. Now any old idiot can wander into the instance and murder Anzu every day. The difference between that and a small chance at getting him from successfully tanking an entire random without any guildies is minimal.

Nothing is being taken from anyone. As it stands, no one gets any goodie bags and DPS queues are 30-60 minutes, depending. If this change goes live, DPS queues should drop and tanks (and maybe healers) will get some goodies. Life gets better for everyone. There is no downside.

I usually try to be charitable when it comes to the motivations of others, but it's getting pretty tough in this instance. It really seems like a lot of people are mad that they won't get goodie bags and are scrambling for justifications for their ire instead of being thankful for a shot at reduced queue times.

I will note that many persons are suggesting the bags and/or the special items in them be made BoA, and I'd support that. The goal of the system is to add tanks and healers to the queues - making things BoA would only help with that goal.

I do apologize for the long break in posts. RL has been pretty active for me recently, and I haven't been logging into WoW outside of raid times. VA did kill the Ascendant Council last week though, yay! We've just got Cho'gall and Nef to go for the regular modes now. I really think we'll be able to clear T11 before 4.2 hits, which should mean that we'll be clearing T12 on a better timeframe. Whoo!