Not a Fluke…

Our clearing ICC is not a fluke in any way, shape or form. We went ahead and did it again. This time with (techinically) no wipes on bosses. I say technically because we had a clean one shot on Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper and Saurfang but we did lose our take during the Airship Battle and decided to flush the attempt and retry. We also tried a different tactic on Saurfang but with the boat docking being fixed, it wasn’t possible to do and Saurfang reset – which is fine.

As has become tradition, I used Distracting Shot on Saurfang instead of one of the adds that spawn, FDed and got people to call out, “Let the tanks get agro!” or maybe it was the other version, “Watch agro!”. Hehe

We did have one wipe on trash were we got a few groups and triggered the traps for activating the big giant skeletons.

Raid logs… I’m back on top!

For awhile there I was trying something out with gear and it didn’t quite work out. With some feedback from our DPS advisor, I got back on track and sorted out some issues. The two big things were dropping Arcane Shot from my rotation and not ‘saving’ my cooldowns.

Dropping Arcane Shot was a big one, it means Improved Steady Shot will pop more often because you’re using Steady Shot more and it also means you’re consuming less mana. Because I’m consuming less mana, I don’t need to shift to Viper as much. I only switched to Viper once in that raid and it was only for a short time.

Making use of 30 seconds of Rapid Fire haste bonuses definitely increased my DPS (Rapid Fire for 15 seconds, Readiness, Rapid Fire for another 15 seconds). I also took more control over my Pet’s Call of the Wild ability so that it will going when I’m using Rapid Fire. Knowing the fights, it was easy to pick times for when to use this. I even used it for the 10-15 second breaks between adds on Lady Deathwhisper thanks to the raid leader calling out how much time we had. Of course, use of Rapid Fire also provides mana regen so not skipping out on that helped a lot too.

For Lady Deathwhisper, I was on the adds. You can see the where the other Hunter was on the charts, that was about where I was. It’s not easy to get the DPS numbers up while on the adds because you’ve got to switch targets and move a bit more than if you’re just focused on Lady Deathwhisper. I did keep a Sting going on her while dealing with the adds and we got the adds down with enough time to switch over to her and get some shots in. Keeping a Sting going on her is ideal for Hunters. It’s fire and forget. You do more damage with Serpent’s Sting, but if you fire Viper, you get a fair bit of mana back from her while affecting her shield which is powered by mana. Ideally you’d alternate Serpent Sting and Viper Sting if mana is an issue, if it isn’t then using Seprent Sting is better.

I walked away with some upgrades again; a new cloak and a new belt. Thanks again to Tim for helping get the gems in order! I also managed to gather up materials to finally replace my boots with an Ulduar recipe drop for Leatherworkers which I should get sometime today. Of course, I’ll have to enchant them and get two gems for them too.

I suspect I’ll be farming for a the next little while…

Sucking Balls…

I’m talking about the Twin Valkyries encounter in Trial of the Crusader.

Old news?

Yeah, it is since we’ve been beating them on regular 10 and 25 man runs, but we just managed to be the Heroic 10 man version of that encounter last night.

If you know the encounter, you know what I’m talking about. We all had a giggle when the raid leader was talking about and assigning people to ‘suck white balls’ and ‘suck black balls’.

For those that don’t know, in this encounter you’re facing off against two valkryies; one is black and the other is white. There are four portals around the room, two white and two black. If you click on the portals you get assigned a color which acts as a buff that doubles your damage against the valkryie of the other color.

During the encounter you may have to switch for  a couple of reasons; one puts a shield up and will heal if you don’t get the shield down and interrupt or they might start doing AOE damage to anyone not using the same color buff as the valkryie that is casting it (i.e. if the white one starts AOEing, you need to have the white buff). Their HPs are linked so you can do damage to either one and you always want to be targeting the one opposite your color. As mentioned, you can and have to switch colors by clicking on the portals.

On top of all that, there are these black and white balls zipping around the room. They randomly bounce off the walls and change direction. If you have the white buff and get hit by enough white balls (you sloot) then you get a temporary buff to damage. If you get hit by black balls (while you have the white buff) you take some damage. The reverse is true when you have the black buff; you want black balls and don’t want the white balls hitting yout. To make it even more fun, when these balls hit you, they explode and do a very small AOE effect.

Now in Heroic mode, you might be able to eat two of these hits which means you want some people in differnet colors protecting the damage dealers for the balls of the opposite color. So they get to suck balls.

We actually had a really productive raid night. We started by heading back into Icecrown Citadel and taking another shot at Lady Deathwhisper. We got pretty close but needed more DPS so with flipped a healer to DPS and took her down in the second attempt. That got me a sweet bow upgrade – which was surprising.

We then moved on to the Airship battle; getting some of the faction required to actually get a free ring from the Ashen Verdict folks. The ring is SWEET! I’d say it is better than the one I got from EoTs and raid drops so I’m using that and the Dextrous Band thing. Oh right, the airship battle was good fun too. We one shotted it, regrettably. We should have wiped just to do it again and again. You’re on an airship when another one attacks. Your cannons are supposed to damage the enemy ship while part of the raid deals with the boarders. At certain points a Mage will step out and freeze your cannons so you need to use a rocket pack to rocket jump over and kill the mage. You need tanks to also occupy the enemy Captain. Then you pop back over and start using the cannons again.

got to use the cannon and jump over to the other side. It was actually pretty fun.

Like I said, we downed it on the first try though we did lose two people who were still on the other ship when it went down. Sorry Tim!

We hit a bit of a bug there where the ship didn’t continue and dock where Saurfang is so we all died and popped back in.

Saurfang was a challenge, but we got him in the second (or was it third?) attempt which got us an achievement for doing so. I won’t lie, it was pretty damn close and we called to wipe it up but the remaining few managed to finish him off. His encounter wasn’t too bad aside from needing to do a lot of DPS and dealing with some adds that spawn and could really screw things up. That was fun; I got assigned as one of the people on that duty which involved kiting it a little.

Surprised at how smoothly all that went, we then decided to take a crack at the Heroic 10 man version of Trial of the Crusader where we had stalled on Lord Jarraxxus simply because we weren’t getting the portals down in time. In the heroic version, the portals and volcanoes that spawn adds stay open and keep spawning stuff if you don’t destroy the portals as opposed to only one Mistress or two Infernals, they will keep coming. If you get two Mistresses, you’re almost guaranteed to wipe because of some of their abilities.

It was pretty close but we pulled through just as a portal appeared and started spawning Mistresses which meant we got the achievement for having two Mistresses up while LJ died. I think we two or three shotted this one.

I’m too lazy to look it up – I do know I died early in one of the first attempts because I got the Legion of Flames thing just as a portal was coming up so I had to move away and we didn’t get the portal down. That isn’t ego talking; you really need everyone to execute or you wipe. There is no carrying people through the heroic versions.

Next was Faction Champions which we two shotted, the second time going handledly. Nothing all that exciting here, it’s sort of like PVPing against people only they have about 10-20 times your HPs hehe.

And then we got to the two Valkryies who really like balls. As I said above, we beat them and moved on.

The final boss just wasn’t happening. It’s different enough from the regular and 25 man regular version that you have to practice it so we’ll practice it some over the next week.

Overall it was a successful night.

I wasn’t overly pleased by my DPS and I haven’t been for a little while. It’s like I hit a bit of a wall at 4k. I’ve been running my gear and stuff through various spreadsheets and calculators and they’re suggesting I should have about 800-1000 more DPS based on my gear and rotation. I had a talk with one of the guys who is knows DPS and has a lot of raider friends and he suggested some changes to my spec and rotation (namely dropping Arcane Shot from the rotation, replacing it with Steady Shot). I did seem to do better, but still not where the sites are telling me I should be.

I think I know where I’m going wrong; I’m saving the cooldown items for a rainy day when I should get used to using them regularily. I tend to hold off on Rapid Fire, Readiness and my Trinket which means I miss out on some potential DPS.I think I might macro Rapid Fire in with Steady Shot or put a modifier on there, same with Silencing Shot; I might macro that in with the others on a modifier where as before I was always firing it when it was up – with the modifier I can get a little more control over it in the times I might need to have it up. I think I also need a little more Haste Rating, RAWR is telling me to gem for Haste only, even losing my metagem bonus – heh. Which I’m not going to do but there are some tweaks I need to do because I appear to have too many Yellow gems.

I’m going to have to spend a little time on the target dummy and see if I can work all that in.

Santa Killer…

I rented a movie to watch with the wife last night. I’ve been a big ball of stress the last little while (I had a fairly large task dropped on me at the last minute when I was told the day before that it was due around the 21st of this month) and really needed to unwind.

So we started watching it while the kids were awake (they’re 6 and 4 years old), figuring we’d send them to bed in a half hour. We figured the movie was called, “Four Christmases” so it should be fine.

We get through the first part and it’s okay, the kids are sort of watching but not really. Vince Vaughn is visiting his family where he’s ambushed by his brothers and then one of his brother’s kids who beats up him while he’s pinned.

Good wholesome scene for the kids. 

Next up was Vince Vaughn telling his nephews that there was no Santa Claus.

My kids still believe in Santa (the wife makes me play along) so that scene was a bit of a shocker for myself and the wife.  It didn’t seem to phase the kids though, so we didn’t make a big deal out of it. I’m not  entirely sure they were really watching – more likely they were just happy to push bed time out some.

“He was only saying that to make the kid mad because the kids were beating him up,” was my explanation.

I think it worked, because they didn’t say anything about it. We’re quite good at telling them not to believe what they see on TV and they knew it was a comedy.

I hope.

(They went to bed shortly after that.)

Last Man Standing…

Or dwarf.

Yesterday’s raids ended up being a crack on older WotLK content. We took a stab at Sarth 3D. That would be Sartharion (or whatever) while all three drakes were up. This means we needed to kill him, fast. If we didn’t, the raid would wipe.

Now, they had done it before and even I was present and tanked the Sarth 2d attempt (I believe I was on drake duty), but that was as Lannister. As Smaken, I had not yet set foot in the instance. In fact, it was the last raid I needed for the Champion of the Frozen Wastes title.

We took several stabs at it but ended up wiping for various reasons, we were close every attempt, but not close enough. Until the last attempt, we were so close by the time the second firewall came up, but people started dropping like flies until there was only two people left; the Spirit Healer form of our Priest and…

Go figure, the title was a spoiler.

That’s right, I was the last person standing and I finished that damn dragon off!

Truth be told, I didn’t have to stay alive for too much longer, just a few seconds more and down the dragon went. Because of the firewall, I had to get in close so I couldn’t use my ranged attacks until I Disengaged out and fired off my big hitting abilities.

I have to say, it was pretty awesome.

Five achievements completed:

1. Besting the Black Dragonflight – 10 man raid complete
2. Champion of the Frozen Wastes – a ton of other achievements required…
3. Twilight Assist – defeating Sarth with one drake up
4. Twilight Duo – defeating Sarth with two drakes up
5. Twilight Zone – defeating Sarth with three drakes up

That last one got me another title on top of,  “Champion of the Frozen Wastes” which was, “of the Nightfall”.

/hug Hunter

I know I’ve gushed about this before, but I really do like playing my Hunter. I don’t know what it is, but something about the class just seems to suit me. Of course, I did a lot of research and had some good sites recommended (thanks again Tim), but it just feels different from when I was playing my Paladin.

With the Paladin, it just sort of felt different. It felt almost invulnerable and that the player wasn’t really making the class. I think I leaned on that too much which is why I’m going to contradict myself by saying the Paladin class doesn’t make the player, it is definitely easier to play (for survivability, tanking and damage dealing) but I’ve seen people play a Paladin far better than I could. Even with the same abilities and similar gear, they tank better and the dish out the damage far better than I did with similar gear.

I started the Paladin to be a tank for my friend’s healer. Those are the two cornerstones of any group; tank and healer. If you control that, making groups is easy and you can often overcome some bad players simply because you control the important roles, the roles that keep the group alive.

So I made a Paladin and leveled him as Prot. Most of the choices through the levels I made, I made for a reason as I plotted out a path that would let me tank well and put up a little bit of damage for those times I had to solo quest. Once I reached the higher levels, I ended up switching over to Retribution and at that point, the class went from being “thinking about my choices” to “just copy this Ret pally spec and mash these buttons”.

It was fun to start, but I don’t think I had the investment in that as much as I would have liked. I didn’t know what the abilities did and I wasn’t sure what the talents were giving me.

And that isn’t uncommon. In fact, it seems to be the norm for leveling characters in WoW. You level one way than switch over to something useful for the end game. Okay, so leveling Prot and switching to Ret isn’t common, people usually level Ret and switch to Prot or Holy, but you know what I mean. You end up with max level newbies.

Which I was.

After some time I sorted some things out, but not entirely. Tanking was pretty easy, I understood that spec, but I was a little bored with it so I was happy to switch to Retribution. Unfortunately, I was a newbie at it and didn’t really take the time to learn much about it. I was just copying talents, like I was told to do, using the seals and judgements as told without really questioning why. In the end, I think I was worse off for it because I didn’t really understand the mechanics of the class and, it showed. I put up okay numbers, but nothing great really.

When the Seal of the Martyr removal hit, I think that was the first change that impacted me. It hurt, bad. I think I was also trying to do too much in a raid. In a group you can get away with Cleansing, Flash Healing (since Art of War makes it instant), but in a raid it burns your mana and kills your cooldowns which impacts your DPS… and that’s what you’re there to do as a Retribution Paladin.

With that in mind, my capabilities as a class dropped down to Crusader’s Strike, Judgement of Wisdom, Divine Storm, Consecrate (Consecrate might have been above Divine Storm, I don’t remember hehe) and Exorcism (if Art of War is up). If I have the time, fire off Holy Wrath (the AOE). Rinse and repeat. Ultimately, it came down to very few abilities and it got dull.

I also hit a wall as far as DPS goes. Looking at it now, I can see where the issues were – the main issue was my weapon – Betrayer of Humanity (from KT in 25 man Naxx). The DPS on it looks really good but the AGI instead of STR sort of hurt. I had other gear like that as well, AGI instead of STR but that weapon is holding me back.

Once Blizzard allowed the faction change, I jumped on it and haven’t looked back. Well, every now and then I’d pop on to farm with my Paladin, it goes so much faster and doesn’t cost me arrows to farm with the Pally.

Yesterday I popped on because a guildie needed a tank and she was being nice to me for a change (I kid… she was still being mean).

Wow. I forgot so much. It also didn’t help that I changed my UI and only updated my Ret side of things so I was left looking for spells and abilities on top of digging my tank set out of the bank. I don’t have Pally Power (or ZOMGBuffs) installed any more so I had to dig out my Blessings. I had some minor mana issues because, as a Hunter, I don’t use my ‘C’ key as much (that’s my Disengage key) while as a Prot Pally that’s my Judgement of Wisdom attack (helps mana a little). I discovered almost halfway through the heroic daily (Nexus) that I had Aura of the Crusader going. When the group DPS decided they were trying for the Anomolous achievement without telling me (I didn’t move him away from the rifts), the group mostly wiped leaving me and one other up. I was the only one with Rez but I couldn’t find it on my hotbar so I had to dig that out – later I discovered I had it on my side bars, twice. Oh, and I had none of my Hand abilities up on bars aside from Hand of Reckoning (taunt) which I had to bind a short way into the instance.

All in all, I felt really disorganized but it was fun and funny.

No, Tim, I’m not switching back to my Paladin.

What am I rambling about?

Well, I realized that even though I hadn’t played my Hunter for almost a year, when I did transfer it over and started playing again, I didn’t miss a beat. Unlike when I hopped back over to play my Paladin which I hadn’t played in a couple of months.

Sometimes a certain class just suits you best.

Here are some logs from the raid last night: LOGS. I was playing “Smaken”. The raid had a rough spell since we had some new players in there, several had low gear, were missing gems and enchants, but overall, I think we did well enough. I was also missing my pet for some of those fights – Wolf pet which adds some DPS. During Northrend Beasts – Icehowl, we lost several people at we were down to just a select few (me, a tank, two healers and I think one other ranged DPS, but maybe not). Good times.

Oh! The third attempt on the Twin Valkeryies wasn’t actually an attempt, that was me Misdirecting threat to the raid leader then firing Feign Death… while he was talking in Vent at the end of the raid. i r pest

Is This Thing On?

Just checking.

I haven’t posted in awhile, probably because I haven’t been in the mood to do so although there hasn’t been a lot going on that I’d want to bore my few readers with. Because that’s what I do, I hide all the good stuff away and leave you with the uninteresting stuff. I’m saddistic like that.

A little while back I (significantly) adjusted my Reader feeds to limit the number of blogs I was following. It was getting to be a bit much and taking up too much time. I just couldn’t keep up. From now on, I’ll be clicking through my Blogroll to see who has what to say when I have some time to kill or when I’m curious.

So what’s been going on in Ogresville? Like I said above, a lot I’m not willing to talk about but I will share the following:

1. Dragon Age – the honeymoon is over. I did what I usually do and sort of put this on the back burner. What do I normally do? I start up a bunch of characters and play through the starting areas so much that I want to barf. Okay, maybe not barf, but I get sort of sick of it. I’ll get back to it soon I’m sure.

2. Left4Dead2 – I got into the swamp levels (technically, you can play any one of the levels you want, but there seems to be a sequence). It has been good fun, great outlet for stress and frustration. Not a good game to play while the kids are awake though.

3. A Gathering Storm – (Brandon Sanderson is using all the notes left behind by Robert Jordan to write the ending of this series) the  first of two books to tie up the Wheel of Time series. I’m barely into it but I can see things are really getting tied up. I don’t notice a big difference in the writing, but then it’s been awhile since I read the last one. It’s good so far. (Yes, I was missing item 3 in my first posting of this entry hehe)

4. World of Warcraft – Raiding slowed down the last two weeks. I missed the Sunday before last because, well, I pulled myself from the game and benched myself. I wasn’t in a good state to play. The following Tuesday I was just too late and the raid was full (I had one of the wife’s friends over to check something out and we were chatting). Thursday was cancelled due to Americans being late with Thanksgiving. But they should start up again on tonight.

I got my Mage to 60 and my Priest almost to 72 – I should get off my ass and get him to 80. I think the main thing holding me back on the Priest is that I know I’ll feel the ‘need’ to get the epic flying on yet another character. And I started a Rogue, who is now level 30.

I managed to finally run some TBC Heroic instances (duoing with UFTimmy) yesterday morning. That was interesting as I was juggling between looting, DPSing, talking on the phone, IMing people and eating chips – chips took priority, I will not lie. We duoed Heroic Ramparts, Blood Furnace and Slave Pens. We’ll eventually get to Underbog and the others. I’ve done most of the others except anything past the Shadow Labyrinth so those will be a treat.

I am really looking forward to the next patch. That’s about all for WoW.

5. Dungeons & Dragons – We missed a number of games, or so it feels, and I lost track of where we were. I asked the DM and he reminded me we were in a crater near a library of a ruined town. I believe we were on our way to another town.

The DM has taken to doing something I was doing during my campaign (which I got from another DM in the group) and has been throwing out bits of story which reveals to the players (not the characters) some of the things going on behind the scenes.

I started doing that because I found it gave the players a better sense of the world and a feeling that there are things going on elsewhere, the game world doesn’t just revolve around their characters (even if it really did).

6. Other Stuff.

Other things include the kids doing well at school. I was surprised to hear my four year old reading from one of his books. It’s not a complicated book but it is new so he’s only heard it read once. My older son has been impressing me with his reading as well. I think if he were to start playing WoW right now he might enjoy some of it more. Reading comes to him easier than spelling out the words.

We have the Christmas tree up already. The boys really had fun with that. They wanted to have it up for when my parents come to visit. Bby the way, the 5$ cost for WoW is really tempting me to get it for them – I suspect my father would play and my mother might pick at it some but probably not enough to warrant the monthly subscription fee.

That’s about all I have.