Heroics Get Better…

… with gear and awareness. They’re still pretty damn unforgiving but I’ve managed to get through all of them except Shadowfang Keep and that’s only because it hasn’t popped yet and I haven’t had a lot of time to run them thanks to all this Holiday Spirit and stuff.

Oh yes, I’ve even completed the fearsome Grim Batol! There were a lot of fights that were pretty close including one where the Feral Druid was the last one and just managed to get the boss down with a sliver of health left. Then he died too because he had a DoT on him. Hehehe

We debated punting one of the two PUGs to pull in a guildie so we could get the achievement for the guild but decided against that (even though the Mage was a little frustrating and prone to dying on every boss fight). It didn’t seem fair because the Druid and Mage had stuck it out all the way up to the last boss and I figured we can do it again. I think we ended up getting the guild achievement even with 3/5 being guildies so that worked out. No douchebag move, success and a win for the guild.

Shadowfang Keep? I come for you.

As soon as I get my daily heroic done… and have a chance to play. Which will be tomorrow. Maybe.

I don’t think Shadowfang Keep is afraid anymore.

I admit, I absolutely loved SFK while I was leveling up. I also used it for farming Enchanting/Leatherworking mats and cash way back when.

While I’m not in full heroic gear, I’ve got an average iLevel of about 343, I’ve enchanting my gear and gemmed what needed gemming so I’m just about ready to raid. I hit Exalted with Therazine (shoulder enchant) and Wildhammer (epic tank boots). I’ve got Revered with Earthen Ring (head enchant) and I’m working my way up to Exalted with Ramkahet (epic tanking bracers). Oh and Tol Barad rep is getting up there too.  I don’t need Hyjal (but I’ll get it eventually) since I scored an epic tanking cloak in Dead Mines (it was a world drop). Alchemy/Enchanting are capped and I’m picking up recipes as I go. Archaeology is getting up to the 300 level and I recently bought up the highest mount training so that should go faster (pun intended).

I’m loving tanking, it’s a lot more exciting than I remember and I enjoy having extra tools available without the nigh-invulnerability that my Paladin had. DK tanking just made sense which is sort of how I felt about Hunters until they changed them to a priority system – I’ve said it before – they just don’t feel the same.

I’m going to need to start taking screenshots some of the stuff UFTimmy says in PUG heroic runs, they’re pretty hilarious. Though maybe they’re a whole lot of “you had to be there” type things. It makes the stress of heroics a lot better when you have a healer mocking people with impunity. I’m actually surprised no one has tried to vote kick him yet? Maybe they see the tank has the same guild tag and they’re worried about waiting 10-15 minutes for another tank? He is a really good healer too, so that probably helps hehe.

As a guild, we’re pretty close and aiming for early January. By then we should have our members geared up and ranks filled out – we’re short a few melee DPS which is strange because we used to struggle to get some ranged folk together and had to beat Ret Pallies away with rusty nailed clubs. We’re also Guild Level 6, closing in on 7th.

It’s all good.

Lies and Deceptions

I’ve been thinking about lies lately – for some reason, Christmas gets me thinking about that probably because of the whole Santa thing. So I got wondering in a more general sense.

Boobs.

Imagine for a moment there was a company called Victor’s Secret that created a line of men’s undergarments which exaggerated the size of a man’s unit. Would women feel cheated? Even if the man attempted to defend his stance (which would be different thanks to the extra padding) with how it makes him more confident?

There is one set of lies I’ve been thinking of. Not surprised are you? But consider that for a second… the padded bra which not only makes it appear like there is more, it also makes them seem more perky than they are. I admit, I often wonder what a woman thinks when it’s time to take the bra off in the heat of the moment.

Okay, probably very little (no pun intended) because the guy isn’t going to be doing too much thinking either. Still, it’s a bit of a deception even if it makes the woman feel a little better about herself (or more appealing to on-lookers).

Coming back to the Santa thing, I admit, I was actually reluctant to do the whole Santa thing with the kids but the wife convinced me (and no, it didn’t involve a padded bra). It just seems like it’s silly and setting you up to be less trustworthy in their eyes. I mean, you spend year after year of telling them someone exists that doesn’t. You’re not setting up a good message. Worse still, aren’t you shedding doubt on any other beliefs you might be trying to teach them.

“No really… there is a God. Trust me!”

“Yeah, just like you said there was a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy!”

Seems sort of weird that we lie to our kids or each other rather than accept what was real. I guess the thought is that life with some sort of magic in it makes it worth living. I can see that, but for me, I live because I enjoy it. I get my magical moments from memories of the things I do, see and enjoy.

I guess the whole Santa thing is more about staging a memorable moment or adding an extra tingle to the kid’s eyes. But would the twinkle be any less or they be any less excited if they knew the presents actually came from Mom and Dad? I think not.

Heroic PUGs!

I’ve had some mindblowingly bad PUGs lately. Just yesterday night I was running a regular Grim Batol with two DPS PUGs. Even though we explained what they needed to do, they still tunneled on the boss and died.

One finally left on the last boss which wasn’t going well because they were both putting up only 4k DPS… which I was beating them with about 5k as the tank. On top of poor DPS, they weren’t avoiding the bad and when they were supposed to jump into the middle of the void zone to avoid death, they weren’t doing that.

The warrior dropped after I explained that on wipe number three. We got a paladin that did over 7k and avoided the bad. We downed the boss in no time… literally, it was a couple of minutes.

But that’s Normal dungeon PUGs. The Heroic PUGs have been far better.

That’s sarcasm.

I think I’ve managed to complete two entire heroics with PUGs present.

The first one was Throne of Tides. It took us a long time despite only have one PUG in the group. Problem with him was that he wasn’t very aware and wasn’t following the kill order which was dragging out the fights and burning our healer’s mana. Granted, I was learning the fights so I had no shortage of mess ups on my part.

The second one was Vortex Pinnacle. The trash in the anti-magic zones are harder than most of the bosses, except maybe the dragon. He was a pain. We got through this one with only one PUG.

Are you noticing a pattern yet? The fewer PUGs, the better success I seem to have.

I’ve also completed Lost City of Tol’vir, but I wasn’t present for the first boss. I believe we did the guy with the dark phoenix (barely) then the last boss. I don’t believe we did the croc (Tim?). That had three PUGs.

I’ve run Blackrock Depths yesterday with only a healer PUG. We got through the first two bosses easily enough. Okay, I bungled the pull on the first boss because I nabbed some trash when the boss was nearby and he pathed into a caster. Still, we recovered and took down the boss – no wipe. Second boss was one shot, but close as we had one (of three in Heroic) fanatics pop into that big nasty. The third boss we tired three times and I think we could have got it but the PUG Priest was out of patience and bailed.

Grim Batol PUG group didn’t get through the first pack of trash before imploding. Heh.

I have yet to do Stone Core, Shadowfang Keep or Halls of Origination (which is supposed to be the second easiest). Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that tonight…

Oh! I had a brief go at Deadmines. We managed to kill the goblin boss with the bombs. The group there consisted of three PUGs and they were already in progress. We wiped on the second boss because the Paladin in charge of the group didn’t know what he was doing… okay, none of us knew what we were doing but he was a complete and utter douchebag. So I ended up bailing.

That’s the perk for being a tank. I can bail and queue up again easily enough. Downside is you’ve got way more responsibility. It can be somewhat stressful. I understand healing is much the same.

All in all, it’s been tough. Especially since some of these heroics can consume an evening trying to do.

Wits End?

Ever feel like you’re explaining the obvious over and over? Or being paid lip service only to discover there is no follow through?

That’s where I’m at now and it’s coming at me from different directions which is never fun.

Ah well. I’ll work towards resolving it because sometimes it’s better to just do things yourself.

 

No. This was not a post about masturbation.

“I’m Going to Break Your Hip!”

Says Will Ferrel to Eva Mendez in The Other Guys. A movie I rented over the weekend and was sorely disappointed I did so.

It had moments of humor, but they were often stretched a little thin. The above quote comes after Will and Eva are sending messages to each other through Eva’s mother. At first it was mildly amusing, especially when they were effectively sexting through her mother, but went on a little too long and was capped off with Eva showing up in disguise as her mother. Hence Will suggesting he was going to be naughty to her by breaking her hip.

Bad movie. I was really surprised at just how awful it was.

Avoid it.

Bend Over And I’ll Show You Heroic!

Heroics in Cataclysm hurt. Bad.

Trash isn’t too bad but some of it can be downright vicious. The bosses are pretty tough, which is exciting. In short, it’s very unforgiving and your best weapon for succeeding is communicating and vote kicking people that don’t follow the plan. Hehe

Crowd Control really helps out and interrupts are really important too. ‘Standing in the fire’ could literally mean failing and wiping because either you’re going to die or you’re going to use up all the healer’s mana.

We discovered this quickly when it took us most of the evening to run Heroic Throne of Tides. I think it took over two hours? We had a wipe on the first trash because I was bad and didn’t wait for CC on one of the casters. After that things were smooth up until the first boss.

The first issue was the lack of interrupts – fortunately, I had enough health to survive the big hit, but that ate the healer’s mana bar. Once we sorted the interrupts out, we ran into an issue where we weren’t killing the adds quickly enough. We discovered this was due to the PUG  rogue not attacking the right target (I should have said something but I was in a drowsy stupor – and was working frantically to keep agro on the two mobs since I had two high DPS types on them.). Once we sorted him out (kill order was caster, melee, then CC’ed caster – I think he was killing the unCC’ed caster then breaking CC on the other caster), we had to sort out not standing in the swirlie things. And finally we got that boss down.

Trash wiped us one more time. I couldn’t tell what did it, but I ran into a larger pack with my Bone Shield running already, fired my Blood Boil (reduces physical damage done by 10%) and died. Really, it was that quick. I looked at the log and didn’t see any big damage being done, just lots of little damage though I think most of it wasn’t physical. Oddly enough our guild mage sorted out most of the mobs while the rest of the group was dead or fleeing.

The next boss (brain sucker) was painful. The first few attempts, we lost people quickly namely because of instant agro issues from really high DPS attacks that were fired as I was going in. I managed to keep the boss pointed away from the group but interrupts were a bit of an issue. I got a rhythm going with the interrupts and we were making progress but our healer kept running out of mana. Why? Healing people that were getting hit by the rock formation thing the boss does. That included me. It seems when it’s on the tank or melee, it will pop up and vibrate (…) doing all sorts of damage. I think we struggled with this one the most. At one point we had to repair because the healer was missing about 30-40k mana hehe. Finally we got it down. I moved out of the way,  I forced the rogue to move out of the way, people at ranged moved out of the way… and we got it.

Of to the next boss through that gauntlet of spawning mobs. Where we wiped. My bad. I was so tired I forgot Pally healers can’t really run and heal so running right through to the end, taking damage all the way wasn’t a good plan. We corrected it and it went smoothly. I think the next boss took two attempts? I don’t remember. It was a fuzzy experience at that point. The first attempt I mixed up the second phase and the first. I was leaving the caster mobs run rampant thinking they’d only be attacking the big guy in the middle. Oops. After sorting that out, we ended up getting to the big phase where people starting to drop from the AOE damage going on in the room. I was the last one standing (cooldowns, Anti-magic shell, Blood Tap, potions, Blood Shield.. hehe) and did just enough to get the boss to take off.

I scored two upgrades; tanking legs and DPS relic which I’m using in my tank spec since my previous one was more of a DPS relic and it was only green.

I think I’m going to make some more gear adjustments (move my gear enchants/reforge more towards avoidance) and maybe try to get some more runs in the higher tier normals so I can replace some of my greens and some of my blue DPS gear that I was using.

In short? We got our asses kicked but prevailed… and I loved it!

 

Moar Games!

There are a bunch of new games scheduled for next year that already caught my eye but I haven’t really said much about.

  1. Mass Effect 3
  2. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
  3. Dragon Age 2
  4. Neverwinter

Mass Effect 3

You’ll notice something there; 3/4 are fantasy RPGs. Mass Effect 3 being the one sci-fi one and because of that, I’m willing to forgive Mass Effect 2′s shortness and reliance on DLC to finish (imo) the game. I posted about it when it came out, but I felt ME2 was too short and formulaic, despite that it was a good game and made some good advances over ME1. I’ll give Bioware another shot with ME3 and check it out when it’s released… but if I need to buy DLC to feel like the game is complete, I’m going to stop buying.

For those curious, I didn’t like the lack of having a ground team or even vehicle to explore an area. They slacked off there. I realize not everyone enjoyed the vehicle exploration, but they could have kept it in and made it optional. Scan the planet? Found an anomaly? You can either send a ground team or just launch in vehicle mode to explore.

The change to simply scanning planets and launching probes was interesting at first but the more and more I explored the planets, the less and less I felt like there was actually content there. Very disappointing in comparison with ME1.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

TES5: Skyrim has me most excited of the lot of them. I’ve loved TES since Arena and sunk days of time in all the games they’ve released. Daggerfall was scary but had some charm to it – it seemed like a step forward with a few steps back. Morrowind was a step forward from there and Oblivion was fantastic! The DLC were minor addon’s not aspects of the game that weren’t there on release (hai ME2) – sure some additions like barding and spell books were nice, but they were just ‘nice’. They were additions… and they were dirt cheap.

The trailer for this doesn’t really reveal a lot, but I’ve good high expectations of more goodness from that series.

This one I’ll buy without a doubt.

Dragon Age 2

I really enjoyed the beginning parts of Dragon Age, but somewhere along the way my enthusiasm died out. I’m not sure what did it. I believe I’m sitting at the point where all I have left to do is get the ashes and do the end game parts. It was a good size of content and the DLC was quality (Grey Warden’s Keep/Golem) but should have easily been part of the game since they were available from the get go. That just reaks of money grabbing and I don’t like that one bit.

I skipped the expansion and I suspect I’ll skip this or at least wait until I get a better impression of how much game content there is.

And maybe I’ll actually finish the game off.

Neverwinter

I’m really hoping Cryptic can go back to the original toolkit or make it more user friendly than Obsidian did with NWN2 – even if the IDE-type toolset was more powerful.

Hey, maybe Cryptic will actually make that table top 4e D&D software that Wizards of the Coast had planned but scrapped? That’d be cool!

This is a tough one for me. I’m curious to see 4e in action (even if it’s in a video game) but I’m really nervous about it being Cryptic. They should have multiplayer code down and they’ve dabbled with custom user content in the game (CoH/V architect stuff) but can they give us a decent RPG out of the box?

I’m curious and I’ll take a look more closely when it’s out.

Other

Another one I haven’t mentioned is the one from 38 Studios (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning), which I might look at. I loved the Rise of Nations games from Big Huge Games, but I’m not seeing that type of gameplay in the game 38 Studios is working on. I’ll give it a look because I have a lot of respect for someone who loves games as much as Curt Schilling (and crew) appear to love games.

The more I hear about Rift, the less I’m interested. I’ll take a look (not necessarily buy it) when it’s out, but I’m not liking everything I’m hearing from it. Class thing sounds interesting but I can see it being horribly balanced and the community (which WoW has ruined, btw) demanding people use certain specs or they’re useless (or n00bs). The Rift events sound like something that could become irritating, but we’ll see.

I can’t think of any other games of interest… for me.

 

 

 

Moar Dungeons!

I managed to hit a couple of more dungeons recently; Vortex Pinnacle and Halls of Origination.

I have to say I wasn’t too keen on Vortex Pinnable, though I did like that some CC was required. Okay, not required, but it sure makes the trash fights FAR easier if you do it. I won’t spoil anything.

Halls of Origination is a loot pinata. There are about seven bosses in there and as a level 85 dungeon you get some tabard rep rewards and really good blue drops (iLevel 333 which helps get you into heroics). Some CC is required here as well, which is nice. It seems to be more of a requirement than other dungeons.

I’m eagerly looking forward to trying Grim Batol and the Lost City of Tol’vir dungeons.

I also took some time to figure out Archaeology which is probably a bigger time sink than Fishing but at least with Archaeology you’ll eventually get some good stuff. The coolest thing about Archaeology is that my little ogres love it so I can let them level it up for me.

Did I mentioned I’ve capped my Alchemy profession? I’m at 505/525 for Enchanting so I’ve almost got the tradeskills sorted out on my DK. I think I’m going to finish off Twilight Highlands zone and move back to Hyjal for enchanting materials. I don’t think I’m going to work on any of my alts just yet, though when I do, I’ll level Smaken to 85 first.

Dungeons!

So far I’ve managed to tank (as a Blood DK) three of the earlier dungeons for Cataclysm and I have to admit, I like them!

Blackrock Caverns is probably the easiest one. There isn’t a lot of challenging fights in there.

The first boss chains some of the group up and starts an PBAE. You have to chop your way out of the chains and move away from the boss. Pretty easy.

The second boss is sort of like the fight in Karazhan where you have to interrupt the rays he’s firing at his minions or they get big and nasty. You can still win if they get big and nasty, in fact, we’ve let this happen two out of three times and still beat the fight.

The third boss you have to run through the center pillar of fire which makes him take regular damage, until you do that, he takes reduced damage. You don’t want to leave him in the fire because as he is in the fire,  he reflects some of the heat out and hits the whole party making healing a pain. Just run him through, whack him, run him through, repeat.

The fourth boss is optional, she’s a great big corehound who has a favored pet. At least I think she’s a she, I didn’t check between the legs. You can pull the three in front then get the boss and leave the one in the back along (I think it’s called Runty). If you kill Runty, big mama will enrage and wipe the group. Typical corehound rules apply.

The final boss is tricky, it will warp to its two minions from time to time and the minions have some sort of debuff for threat (or so I’m told) which means they have to be kited instead of tanked. Nothing tricky to it other than that.

Oh, did I mention SPOILER ALERT?

The other dungeon I did was Throne or Tides (or something like that). This one is tougher than Blackrock Caverns, but not by that much. Unfortunately, I only ran it once so I don’t really remember what was going on.

I think the first boss you run into summons up minions which have to be killed because he’s immune while they’re up. He also creates these big blue geysers that you want to avoid standing in.

I remember one boss is a cyclopean squid that jumps on someone’s head and controls them. He also does some nasty AOE that you can move out of.

The last boss is a dude you have to protect. Eventually you grow to be big giants and you can then clobber the giant squid/octopus thing that is attaching itself to the side of the room and injecting the mobs into the room that you had to protect the dude from.

If there was another  boss, I’m drawing a complete blank on it.

My personal favorite, because it kicked our ass a couple of times, was Stonecore. This one was the hardest one I’ve tried so far.

The trash leading up to the first boss is rough, you really need to focus fire on the big elementals and clobber the crap out of everyone but Millhouse (or so it seemed). When the trash are dead, Millhouse will zip away to the next set of trash. After about three or four times of doing that, you get to meet the boss which is a great big, ringed serpent thing.

Quick note about the ‘trash’; the rock flayer-like mobs seem to build up momentum in their attacks and will start flaying whatever is in front of them. This is a bad thing because it hurts lots. Get behind them or back away. Personally, I jumped or moved through them. The rock guardian dude you face right after the first boss is a nasty bugger and there are more than one. This guy slams the ground and damages whoever is on the ground. You can get around this by levitating or timing your jumps. As the tank, I had to jump. When you get further in, there are camps of Twilight Hammer folks, watch the wanderers and make sure you take out any Sentries when they see you. If you don’t, they will run from camp to camp waking everything up and that gets messy… believe me!

The next boss runs you through a bit of a gauntlet; just watch for black spots on the ground then don’t stand there while moving down to where you will actually fight that dragon. The fight is fairly simple, but at points it will fly up and knock more crap down on you – again, avoid the black spots. Another tricky part about this is that it can cause some LOS issues with your healer so be careful of that.

EDIT: I was reminded that there was another boss before hitting the last one. He was a big stone golem-looking dude that was pretty simple. He didn’t seem to do anything other than knock you away. I think you could jump and avoid that, but I’m not sure. I was pretty tired and jumping became a habit.

The last boss is the High Priestess, she’s nasty. It took us about four or five tries to get her down and when we did, it was barely. She basically rag-dolls the tank unless someone interrupts her. Otherwise she she does a couple of attacks. She opens up a gravity well at varying points and places which does damage if you’re in the purple area. She also has a bunch of zealots zip into the fray from the side halls. you want to make sure your group is tucked away in the corner away from the two passages to this area and you want the zealots to run right into the gravity well which will take care of them. At points she will zip over to the altar, force control some big rocks and toss them at the party – just get out of the way or you’ll get hurt… a lot.

Your mileage may vary, my DK wasn’t geared for tanking when I started Cataclysm so I’ve had to use pieces I picked up from quests or the odd drops.

Overall? They’ve been pretty fun!

(Level 83 at the moment)