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Archive for August, 2009

Posts to come

While I haven’t had the chance to write much lately, I still have several planned posts:

  • My UI series (plans for 4+ parts, still languishing at part 1)
  • Basic guides for Tanking/Feral DPS/Resto
  • More stuff on soloing

Not to mention that I need to revamp the blog frontpage at some point. If anyone has anything they’re interested in seeing, let me know. I’d like to write some more resto-themed posts, as I’m healing a lot more now (heroics are popular again, dont’cha know). That new Idol of Flaring Growth is amazing (yes, I’ll take what amounts to a permanent +234 extra spellpower, thank you), and it’ll only take 12.5 days of grinding out the heroic daily. (Not that I don’t already want some of the feral gear…Clutch of Fortification ring for tanking, or Dexterous Brightstone Ring for DPS.) Between those three, that’s 95 Emblems of Triumph, which should keep me busy for a while (seeing as I’m not currently raiding T9).

Also…if you get out-DPSed by a bored resto druid spamming Hurricane on a trash pack…and you play an 80 frost spec mage…get some help. Please.

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Gear Reset QQ

Working 12-hour shifts 7-days a week is not fun. August needs to end, rapidly.

That said, I’ve been rebelling. I understand that having only 45min-1hr per day of playtime means that I SHOULD be running the daily heroic and that’s it…but for the last three days, I’ve been shuttling between the AH, the mailbox, and the trainer to level Alchemy (up to 400 now). I have all of 2 Emblems of Triumph, and the only heroic I’ve ran besides ToC is one HoL.

I thought about it, and I think I’m subconsciously rebelling against the soft gear reset put in place in 3.2. Yes, I still need to get Emblems for my T8 gear, but I still want to go back and finish solo-Kara as well, and keep working towards Loremaster/Seeker, etc. Unfortunately, I’m already slipping behind the Triumph, gear curve due to not keeping up with the daily H, and I’m well behind the Conquest gear curve due to not obsessively running heroics. While gear has never been a large concern of mine (thanks to Pawn/Rawr), I still hate falling behind. (Or I could just hate the fact that I have to gear up three separate specs through badges. QQ. I don’t get how people have time for alts.)

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Had a request from one of my guildmembers last night to write something a little more in depth for the new 5-man instance, Trial of the Champion (ToC), so here goes.

EDIT: Added information about skipping opening script.

Setup:

The entire fight takes place within the Argent Coliseum, in Icecrown. (BTW, the NORTH Coliseum entrance, with the covered walkway. facing the sea, is the 5-man entrance; the EAST entrance, facing the meeting stone and the Alli/Horde tents, is for the 10/25-man raid.)  Standard composition of 1 tank, 1 healer, 3 dps is recommended.  The instance is extremely short; a well-geared group can clear normal in ~15 minutes, and heroic isn’t too much longer. There are three bosses, who drop ilvl 200 epics on normal and ilvl 219 epics on heroic. (Incidentally, this means unload any Abyss Crystals you’ve been hoarding.) Also, graveyard zerging is a perfectly viable strategy for the whole instance, as the GY is about ~10 seconds away, and there’s no lockout for any encounter.

Encounter 1 – The Three Amigos Champions

Talk to the NPC in the center to initiate the first encounter, and go get a snack. Seriously. A 3-minute script plays, where every person in your group gets introduced, then the opposite-faction champions ride in and get introduced. Very WWF. It’s pretty cool the first time seeing your faction cheer for you, but then it just gets old.  Anyone can start the script, so if you’re the first person there, go ahead and start it. If you’re Alliance, the Horde champions and their lieutenants will line up on the other side of the entrance portal, so you can take all kinds of time waiting (or just start…3 people can do the whole mounted phase). Horde have it a little trickier since the Alliance champions line up right in front of the door. The script can bug out if everyone zones out while its playing, so at least one person needs to stay inside.

Anyway…while you’re waiting, equip your lance and grab a mount from the edge of the ring. (If you STILL haven’t done any AT jousting, here’s the short version- 1. Stack Defend x3 2. Charge/Thrust 3. Win) Once the speechifying is done, each champion will send a set of 3 lieutenants to attack you, who are laughably easy. Once the third set is dead, the three champions will attack.

The mounted fight is not difficult, as long as everyone keeps their Defend x3 stack, though things will go faster if you focus down one target at a time. Once a champion loses all his HP, he will drop to the ground stunned, and periodically get up and attempt to get back to the edge of the ring to remount. Riding over them will knock them back down. If you start getting low on HP, just switch mounts to refill to full. Don’t wait too long…if you lose your mount in the middle of the ring, you’ll likely die.  Once all three enemy champions have been dismounted, all mounts despawn and the ground fight begins. (Note: I highly recommend having everyone zone out/meld/vanish immediately…this will reset the dismounted champions to the entrance, allowing the tank to pick them up much easier. I’ve done this fight 3 10 times now, and most of the time, the only wipe was on the mounted/dismounted transition.)

The three enemy champions are randomly selected from a pool of five. (Delrissa, anyone?) Here’s the list, in order by my perception of their difficulty. They’re all stunnable, but other then that immune to any CC I’ve seen.

  • Warrior (Orc/Human) – This guy sucks. He can Mortal Strike the tank (reduce healing taken by 50%), whirlwinds for a lot of melee AOE damage, and also randomly charges people. Kill first if you have primarily melee DPS. Disarmable.
  • Hunter (Troll/NE) – Only seen him once, but he does a multishot that HURTS…as in, hey, 3 members of the raid just lost half two-thirds of their health. (I’ve seen a Multishot hit for 3x12K) Easily the worst AOE since it generally hits the lower-HP members of the group (casters/healer). Kill first if you have primarily ranged DPS.
  • Rogue – (Undead/Dwarf) A couple melee attacks on the tank that aren’t too bad, a melee AoE, and throws poison clouds. Tank needs to kite mobs out of the clouds. He also randomly stacks poison on the tank, (can stack on party as well from the AOE) which is dispellable or healable through.
  • Shaman – (Tauren/Draenei) Heals and does chain lightning. Should be your first target. After doing this several times, his heals don’t heal for much, and he casts them fairly rarely in my experience. I’d probably burn down the warrior/hunter first to reduce incoming raid damage, then  take him out second.
  • Mage – (BE/Gnome) Single target fireball, knockback AOE, and throws out the occasional Polymorph. Interrupt/dispel the Poly’s if you want, otherwise not that big of a deal. Last target.

Mark the kill order and burn them down. If you get Warrior/Hunter/Rogue, and have mostly melee dps…ouch. On Heroic, it is very likely that at least one DPS will die, do to unavoidable burst AOE damage from 2-3 champions.  Healers, this is an excellent instance to practice triage (heh).  Since the graveyard is so close, keep yourself and the tank alive, THEN worry about the DPS.  Once all three champions are down, they’ll get up and leave, and a chest will spawn in the middle with your loot. Occasionally, this encounter will bug out, and one of the champions will “die” but get back up and keep attacking. Simply have everyone exit the instance and come back, and the problem will correct itself.

Encounter 2 – Eadric the Pure/Argent Confessor Paletress

Again, talk to the NPC to trigger a minute of script. Either Eadric or Paletress will come out, with 3 packs of 3 NPC’s. Pull the packs individually (kill order is priest/paladin/monk for undergeared groups…well geared groups can easily AoE them down). Kill the monks last, as they pop an annoying ability before death on Heroic that reduces party move/attack speed by a lot for 10 seconds. Once all three groups have ben killed, Eadric/Paletress will aggro.

  • Eadric has two main abilities. First is his Radiance ability, which is a 3s cast and is accompanied by a helpful raidwarning. It will do a good bit of AoE damage to everyone facing him when it casts…so just turn away, and then turn back. Too easy. It will also immobilize you briefly (which is bad if you’re the tank, as he’ll switch targets). His other ability is Hammer of the Righteous….he will pick a target, stun it, then a few seconds later nail it with a hammer, which can one-shot undergeared clothies on heroic. If the stun is dispelled, you can catch the hammer and throw it back for a good bit of damage, and there’s an achievement for killing him with it. Very easy fight.
  • Paletress will chain-cast Smite/Holy Fire (holy DOT)/Renew and will stop to summon a “Memory” at some point during the fight. This memory will take the shape of another WoW boss, anything from Hogger to Algalon.  The tank needs to pick this up and tank it along with Paletress.The Memory doesn’t do anything too special…an AOE fear, a DD attack that reduces attack/cast speed by 90% for 4sec, and a DoT on the tank. DPS needs to switch to the Memory when it arrives (Paletress goes immune while it’s up). A bit tougher than Eadric but not bad. I take it back…having healed for a group that wiped repeatedly here, this can be a challenging fight. I could have done a much better job, certainly, but interrupting/dispelling the Holy Fires makes things much easier on the healer. (DOT + fear = bad…warlock memories) Also, do your best to avoid hitting Paletress  while the Memory is up, as not only is she immune, her shield reflects 25% damage taken. (Glyph of Maul, sometimes I hate you.)

Again, loot the chest and talk to the NPC to continue.

Encounter 3 – THE BLACK KNIGHT (OMG!)

Yay, another minute of script. The Black Knight has three phases, and switches when he “dies,” so you have to kill him three times.

P1 (Death Knight form): Not too difficult. Has DK-esque attacks, so classes able to cure diseases can reduce a lot of damage on the tank.  He’ll spawn a ghoul at the beginning of the fight, which will melee, occasionally hit a DPS/healer very hard and knock it back (not sure if this is random or on tank…I’ve gotten through P1 pretty quickly every time) and explode for AoE damage at low HP. He needs to be picked up by the tank. I’d probably just ignore him and focus-fire the BK. Easy phase.
P2 (Undead form): He’ll cast Army of the Dead and spawn a ton of weak ghouls to start the fight. They’re not really a threat, until they start exploding. AOE them down, but they will try to explode at low HP, so it’s best to either have a ton of AOE (kill them before they boom) or none at all (space out the booms). It helps the tank if you bunch up to start the phase so they don’t go everywhere.
P3 (Spirit form): Starts hitting the raid with AOE shadow damage that increases by 5% each time. This is basically a DPS race/healer challenge. He also periodically casts Mark of Death on a raid member which causes them to take 200% extra damage for 10 secs. The AOE damage isn’t too bad, but the marked target will take a lot of extra damage, so having something that marks who has it is a good idea. Barkskin+Tranquility is awesome for druids as a “heal reset.”

Loot BK and you’re done. Liked I said, very quick instance. Note that to get the instance achievement, you have to have killed all 5 of the champions and both Eadric/Paletress, so it will take you at least 2 attempts. (There’s definitely an Oh…is that it? feeling at the end.) BTW, the tank trinket from NORMAL ToC is amazingly good, as is several of the items from Heroic. Actually, ALL the normal trinkets are great. I’d generally rank the normal items as being mostly equivalent to Naxx25 stuff, and the heroic items as equivalent to Ulduar 25.

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3.2 adventures

Well, if you hadn’t heard already, 3.2 is out. My quick play-by-play of my lunchtime session:

1. Admired my new bear form.

2. Admired my new cat form.

3. Admired…ok, well, not really, but quickly turned in the last Valiant quest to get my Crusader title and access to the new stuff. Bought my sweet teleporting tabard. (30min CD, ports you to AT grounds, completely separate from HS.) 

4. Went through Outfitter to add the new tabard to my bear/cat/tree item sets.

5. Answered a LFM in general chat for a tank for Trial of the Champion normal. Wiped on the switch from mounted to on foot. Ran back (GY run takes about 10 secs, it’s right there) and tanked the rest of the instance (easy) Realized afterward that I still had tree gear on from the messing around with Outfitter. (/facepalm)

6. Left instance and answered another LFM for a DPS in general chat, which turned into a tank slot, for Heroic ToC. Wiped in same place as normal, one-shot the rest. (why why why did Blizz give the 5-man and a raid with FOUR lockouts the same initials? Lots of confusion for a while, I think, until we settle on an abbreviation.  I like ToC for 5-man and Coli or Crusader for the raid.)

7. New instance thoughts: It’s incredibly fast, and as far as I can tell, so special skill is required.  First you do jousting…you kill three sets of three opposite-faction NPC’s (think Lieutenant difficulty, but more HP), then the three Champions (a bit tougher then Commanders, plus if they all focus on one target, that target goes down quick.) All you have to do to regen to full HP though is to ride to the side and swap mounts. Once you down a Champion, he’ll be laid out for about 5 secs, then get up and start running towards the nearest mount to rejoin the fight. Run over him to “trample” him, which will keep him down for a while. (Apparently not for the whole fight, but if they do manage to remount, they don’t have full HP, from what I saw.)  Things get very tricky on the transition from mounted to dismounted…once the third Champion is trampled, they will all instantly pop back to their feet, the entire party loses its mounts, and they immediately aggro on the closest target. They’re also usually spread out across the Coliseum floor..and at least one will be a caster. If you wipe, though, they reset back to the entrance they came in, and can be pulled normally. 

For the second boss, got Paletress for Normal, who summoned Kalithresh for our Memory, which didn’t do anything all that special. On Heroic, got Eadric. His hammer almost one-shot our healer, but the turn away from blinding light thing was too easy…3s cast time. The final boss, Black Knight, didn’t seem too bad…ghouls seemed to drop threat on P2, but they didn’t seem particularly deadly, and P3 was just a straight DPS burn.

It’s hard for me to say how tough it is, overall. The instance is so fast it’s hard to judge pug ability/skill. I was top overall DPS as tank for my H PuG, but Recount is apparently counting some of the mounted damage in, so its not a good measure, and I didn’t get a chance to look at the individual fight stats. That said, this will quickly be the “badge emblem farm” instance, unlike H MgT which everybody hated doing.

8. Did several of the new AT dailies and the first two quests (is that it? didn’t see a followup) in the continued BK questline. The new Kvaldir island, to the north of AT, is visually impressive…it has the white-out visual effect from Borean Tundra. Quests were the standard ‘kill 10 whatsits’ and ‘kill 1 specific whatsit who, despite being named, isn’t any stronger then the other whatsits.’  I also had a couple quests in the new Cult of the Damned camp, which isn’t that impressive. (BTW,  it’s RIGHT outside the AT area. Seriously, you can see one from the other if your view distance is at a reasonable level. You’d think they could take a 5-minute break and go clean it up. Just run like 4 Elekks through. They could even get fancy and use the Stylin’ Teleportin Tabard…their coffee wouldn’t even get cold.) The ‘kill 15 scourge’ quest is now ‘kill 15 Cult of the Damned’ so you can stack that with other quests here.  Sadly, only the original Champion dailies give the extra gold/rep, not the new ones. BBTC now requires killing 3 commanders instead of 1, which basically makes it a group quest (which it pretty much was already that people paired with TFA).

9. Hearthed to Dalaran and bought Idol of the Corruptor. (Now available for 19 Emblems of Conquest!) FINALLY. Farewell, crappy Grizz Hills blue PvP/lvl 70 epic tanking idols. So, even though I lost about 2% dodge with the agi/dodge nerf, the Idol proc should hopefully account for that and more.  Next step is Conquest emblem farming to get 2pT8 for kitty dps. Don’t even want to speculate on what to do with Triumph Emblems yet…besides, Kalon at ThinkTank is actively working on some feral druid gear lists (bear/cat).

10. Laughed at two of my guildies bitching about the first fight in 10-man Crusader (see? I had to think before writing that). Apparently lots of raid-wide stuff going on. As I logged off, the PUG raid had finally downed the first boss and got insta-killed by the jorms.  Also, weekly raid lockout change apparently? Was that announced somewhere, or did I miss something?

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Well, last night didn’t end quite as well, but I was still pretty happy with my progress. I two-shot Curator (huge aggro radius and linked mobs…suckage), but wiped several times on Shade of Aran before moving on. It’s certainly possible, but my normal 60/11 feral build doesn’t have the healing to compensate for the lack of mitigation of magic damage. That said, since it’s all magic damage, moonkin/resto should do much better. When I get a chance, I’ll have to try it as resto and see if I can make the enrage timer.

I skipped Illhoof (probably doable, just didn’t feel like it) and Netherspite (probably not doable) and went straight to Chess. I LOVE this event, and it’s a shame that it’s buried deep enough in Karazhan that most new players will never see it. It took me about 4-5 tries to figure out a viable solo strategy. Luckily, if you lose, the pieces simply despawn and respawn in ~30 secs, making it very easy to try again. I’ll go ahead and write it up here, since I didn’t really find a good strat when I looked around (lots of references/vids of people stealthing to Chess, little about actually how to solo it.)

Setup:

Each side has the traditional 16 chess pieces, which are essentially “vehicles” that you can control. Each piece has a movement ability, a change facing ability, and two special abilities. Your piece will automatically melee enemies in front of it. Uncontrolled pieces will not move, but will attempt to use their special abilities intelligently. You can change pieces, but you incur a 10 second debuff when you leave a piece that prevents you from controlling another until it expires. Whoever kills the other’s king first wins.

Finally, Medivh (your opponent) will occasionally activate a “cheat.” He will do one of three things- Bloodlust a piece (not a big deal); heal his pieces to full (Can be either meh or really suck, depending) or set several squares currently containing your pieces on fire (deadly).

Strat:

The key enemy pieces are the king (obviously), the queen (warlock/conjuror) and the two bishops (clerics/necrolytes). Your key pieces are the king, the queen, and the two rooks/castles (elementals on ally side, can’t remember the Horde version). The queen is the one you will be controling the majority of the time, since it has excellent mobility and long range attacks. The rooks will be moved to the center and left there to spam their AOE attacks. You want to kill the enemy queen quickly, then use your queen to either pick off the bishops, the king, or low-HP targets of opportunity. Leave the king alone, unless you need to move him out of a fire square; the bishops will auto-heal him.

So, basically…(here comes a list! I like lists! and ellipses!)

1. Jump in the king to start the encounter. Cast Hero/BL and immediately jump out.

2. Get in the 2nd pawn from the right (Horde, near side, Alliance, far side). Move it up one space. That clears a lane for your castle.

3. Move your castle diagonally three spaces. Medivh should use his first cheat around this point. If your queen gets fire-squared, move it ASAP. Your bishops will auto-heal your king, so you can mostly leave them alone. However, if you get hit by fire squares twice in a row, that

4. Repeat the pawn/castle steps on the far side. You may not get the 2nd castle to three, depending on how fast the AI pushes its pieces…If so, stop at 2.

5. Hopefully, by this point, Medivh has pushed his queen too far forward. Take out his queen with yours. Typically, the queen’s already at half-health from your castle’s AOE.

6. Once the enemy queen goes down, do a quick survey. If your king has sustained a lot of damage from flame squares and has lost a bishop, you’re going to have to go for the enemy king and pray. If your king’s doing okay, try to take out the enemy healers first, then go for the king. The queen has great range and mobility, but not a lot of health, so keep it at 3 squares range.

Took me about 3-4 attempts…good fun. After that, I put in two attempts on Prince, and got him to 10-15% both times. The shadow damage just gets to be too much in P3 (30%), and you get beat down pretty quick. Should be doable…I just need to get lucky with dodge (so that his sunder drops off) and time my SI/FR’s better. I’ll probably switch out the Maul glyph for a Berserk glyph on that fight. I’m also seriously considering dropping Skinning for Alchemy…with epic gems coming in, there’s no real “best” profession for buffing raiding performance, and Mixology provides a much wider range of buffs. With gold not currently an issue, it looks like a good plan. If the patch drops tomorrow, though, I’ll wait, as herb prices will probably spike. (I wish I’d had this idea 2 weeks ago…everybody wants to get Alchemy for transmutes.)

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Siha at Banana Shoulders has an excellent series of posts up explaining the Argent Tournament quests in great detail. In her most recent, she expl0res the changes coming in patch 3.2. I won’t replicate her post, but she does mention that Valiant/Champion daily quest stacking is now gone. (For those that don’t know…there’s two Valiant AT quests that ask you to kill X number of mobs, and two Champion AT quests that ask you to kill X+5 mobs.) The requirements are now changing so each quest requires a different mob type. While I’ll miss being able to knock out 5 dailies in 15 minutes and earn 95g, hopefully the new dailies will be easy enough that there’s roughly the same g/hour rate.

EDIT: Well, the tabard that ports you to the AT grounds will make up for quite a bit. I don’t know anything about it, but if it’s on a 30minute cooldown, you presumably can use it to port to AT and then port back there once dailies are donw, which will save ~5 minutes.

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Last night, I had some uninterrupted time to work on soloing Kara. Attumen and Maiden were cake. Imp. LOTP was enough to keep me up for both of those. Moroes was a bit more difficult, but still easily one-shot. Berserk and burn down the guests, focusing on the healers, then just chip away at Moroes, and shift out to heal when he vanishes. I was feeling pretty confident…than I ran into the Opera event (one of three random bosses) and got the Big Bad Wolf.

Ouch.

For those that don’t know, he has four abilities.

1. 3s fear on ~30s CD.
2. 4s stun on ~30s CD.
3. Little Red Riding Hood…turns one target into LRRH for 20s on a 30s CD. The LRRH has 0 armor and is silenced/pacified (can’t attack/cast anything) but has a 50% speed boost for kiting. HoTs will continue to tick while LRRH’ed, however, and you keep your rage.
4. Melees for about 3.5k with 0 armor, 1kish in bear.

So, when attempting to solo, you’ll get probably 5-6s of DPS time every 30s, and spend the rest of the time either kiting or feared/stunned.  I finally pulled it off after multiple wipes…it was the most challenging thing I’ve done solo to date, and the most rewarding when he finally dropped.

Strat:

1. Prefight: wear stam gear and a PVP trinket (I did it without one, but having one would have really helped). Glyphed SI/FR is a big help.

2. Talk to “Granny” to start fight. You’ll get LRRH’ed right off the bat. Immediately begin kiting. The most critical thing about this fight is kiting BBW properly so you only take 1-2 hits each time you’re LRRH’ed. Take off immediately (DBM is a must here for knowing when to start/stop running) Circle the stage, hugging the walls. DON”T CUT THE CORNERS. Cutting the corners will, inevitably, make BBW angle to cut you off. I found that taking off early (pre-cast) is a bad idea, since normally he stops for 1s to cast LRRH but if you’re not in melee range, he’ll cast it while moving towards you…not good. Also, if you’re really good at controlling your character, it’s best to circle-strafe around the stage, so that you still have a chance to dodge attacks while LRRH’ed. I tried this, but I ended up inevitably cutting corners and letting him catch up to me, which did more harm then good.

3. Once you have control back- Barkskin if up, SI/FR if under 50%, then aim to land at least 2 Mauls and a mangle each phase. Demo Roar can be helpful but will cut severely into your DPS. Save Berserk/trinket for if you get feared/stunned as an overlap with LRRH, as that is deadly. (From my experience, he won’t fear you while LRRH’ed…but he CAN stun you during.) Your goal is to kite well enough that you can pop SI/FR, which will give you probably 60-70% of your HP back (You want to chain them since FR scales off your current max HP…which will obviously be a lot higher when SI is on) and survive until the SI/FR CD’s are back up. I didn’t use it, but you can also try Tranquility (macro it with Barkskin, pop it immediately upon coming out of LRRH…he’ll take a couple secs to reach you, the Barkskin will prevent pushback, and it should outheal his attacks…I think.) If you can get at least one Imp. LOTP proc and get a few Savage Defense proc’s each phase, you shouldn’t take more than 10% damage each phase. SI/FR will cover that handily.

4. NE’s, don’t forget to shadowmeld to reset the fight while you’re learning how to kite. Basically, if you’re below 40% health and SI/FR has 2m still left on CD, time to reset. Unfortunately, you can’t shadowmeld while LRRH’d, so you’ll have to pick your spots carefully.

5. Also, attempting to solo as Resto is not advised. (Heheh.) I tried it once and gave up. It might be doable, but you’re going to have to burn him down with just MF, since most of your free GCD’s are going to be used refreshing HoTs. I could see Moonkin doing it with Treants and Starfall.

I got him on my final attempt for the night (not sure how many times I wiped…probably 4-5, not counting 2-3 shadowmeld resets or so)..took a shade over 10 minutes. I didn’t have a trinket, and got nailed with a stun immediately after my third SI/FR wore off, which let BBW take me back down to 30%. Luckily, I got a crit from a healing potion, and finished the fight arount 12% HP. I imagined the audience clapping. 🙂 On to Curator!

EDIT: He also dropped Big Bad Wolf’s Head, which I thought was very fitting.

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