Saturday, March 13, 2010

On a Roll

Hmm would it be Parma Ham and Artichoke on Granary or possibly Pastrama on Rye? Who am I kidding, it's 7am on a Saturday and I'm up with the kids, so it's Honey Nut Shredded Wheat and the largest bucket of Tea I can produce. The fact remains however, I'm on a roll. The alt family's been well taken care of the last few weeks, and even if I've not been able to post as reguarly as I'd like there's been a fair amount of top-quality progression. Even the Alt in Progress, my Secret Rogue, finally dinged 70 last week. It's all good here.

The plan for hereon in is fairly simple: I'm going to pick an alt away from the Main and focus on them for a week of play at a time. P is still managing her two trips a week into ICC (Blood Princes tomorrow, I am reasonably excited at the prospect at wiping at a new boss) and I think it's time (even after the 25 Man from Hell) to give the Lock some love. Looking at my gear and the other Locks I've been playing with my dps is lower than it could be, so I feel the need to go off and do a bit of research. Perhaps a respec is in order...

After that, it's going to be the same process repeated for all the rest of the 80's. The Secondary Hunter needs the most love (and if I'm honest, Dual Specs so I can give him Marks as a fallback and some much needed DPS boostage as well) followed by the Mage (who is doing far better with her Arcane secondary spec in Five mans than she ever did with Frost) The Druid still benefits from having been my main through Ulduar (and the fact that she can do a lot of dps)... after that there's the Priest at 73 and the Rogue Project if I feel the need to kick back and quest...

If truth be told of course, everyone except P has a boatload of quests still to complete. The benefits of doing this across the family is not lost on me either. It's decent gold, for the disenchanters it's also a nice stream of mats for conversion to enchants on scrolls (and therefore extra cash) I feel I should have a blitz on the Alt of the Week and clear some of those Northrend zones which, if I'm honest, I am unlikely ever to visit again come Cataclysm. There's achievement points, the completism angle, and the fact that money talks far more than any amount of gear once we hit the new expansion...

Let's be honest, I'm flooded with possibilities. I'm on the Mother of All Rolls. What I could really do with is the focus to actually get down to some serious plannage... but not before breakfast.

Where did I put that bucket?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Things Come... those who make a valid point :D
Yeah it just takes one person to press Need after everyone's pressed Greed on the Frozen Orbs and you miss out. But the good news is that in patch 3.3.3 this won't be the case anymore -- the roll for Frozen Orbs will be an automatic Greed roll. Rejoice! [Source]
My faith in Blizzard is again restored. Now I'd like to see the same on Lockboxes and Books of Glyph Mastery (or indeed anything that people can turn a quick profit on) and my happiness would be complete.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Confessional Redux

Forgive me readers, for it is that time again. It's time to admit to having done something that made me feel bad.

I was stupid enough, shortly after breakfast, to be tempted by the prospect of a 25 man ICC PuG on the Warlock. I'll admit the main reason I wanted it was that I was 900 rep short of Friendly, and therefore a ring upgrade. The frosties too were attractive, but I wasn't looking for loot. Really, I wasn't. When I looked up the Raid Leader on and discovered they'd not managed to get past Marrogar either I thought all I'd get was the trash pre-Boss 1 and that would be enough. Imagine my amazement therefore when we cleared both Marrogar and Deathwhisper.

The Shoulders of Mercy Killing dropped, and so did the Nieblung. I know enough about the chaos that staff causes to avoid rolling on it altogether. So, I stuck a roll in on the shoulders and won. As the item dropped into my inventory another Lock rolled higher. And so it began.

'I won those shoulders, they should be mine.'

The reason I felt bad at the time, I realise now, was that the guy was pretty decent about it. The fact remains however, that however rubbish your RL may be, they have the last word. The storm that followed over the Staff buried any evidence there may have been that what actually transpired, so by then it was academic, and we'd made it to the Gunboat before the guy kicked up a storm in Raid. No-one was particuarly keen on siding with anyone, and as at that point there were comments made about me being bottom dps (which I was) I decided to be as polite to him as he had been to me. I'd had plenty of time to roll, he had too, and I'd had the item in my inventory as I saw his roll register. He left midway-through the Gunboat fight, the second person to do so, as the person who 'claimed' they should have won the staff even though they didn't roll for it realised that making noise was not working. Needless to say, Saurfang on my ID remains very much alive.

PuG's are merciless things, and they rely greatly on the Raid Leaders to keep them in line. Our RL was awful in every sense of the word, and in the end was doing nothing more than let the rest of the Raid do what they want. He was unguilded and unskilled. It was going to be a disaster, and it was, and I got an upgrade because at the point the RL handed me the item, I was the top roller. I'm sorry to the Lock who feels because he rolled more after that point that the item should be his, but the fact remains that it wasn't. I felt bad because he was polite, but in the end if you pay your money for a PuG ride, you takes your choices.

Needless to say, next week, I will be making my 25 man PuG choices a great deal more carefully.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No More Hero(ics) Anymore

Tell me I am not the only person getting royally pissed off in Heroics.

Once upon a time, back in those heady days post-Expansion launch, the Heroic was serious business. You needed planning, crowd control, extra buffs and friends who could spare the time to make sure when you walked into an Instance, you came out with the end boss loots. It wasn't about finishing in double quick time it was completing it at all. In the case of Oculus, for instance, it could mean four or five HOURS worth of effort.

What the Hell happened?

I don't even get the time to apply a foodbuff or summon a pet anymore. More often than not, as soon as I accept the queue and zone in the Tank has already begun pulling. There's very little buffing AT ALL until either someone dies or the first argument ensues about a) who wants what loot and b) what bosses can we concievably skip to speed up the process. I've seen what I can only call an exploit in the Old Kingdom that circumnavigates everything except the last boss. I hardly ever do the first boss in UP any more, or anyone except Brann and the last guy in the Halls of Stone. Making instances quicker has simply encouraged people to cut corners, which is all very well until any of the ICC 5 mans appear and frankly all Hell breaks loose. Success rate on the Halls of Reflection in a PuG is 10%, on a good day I'm the last one left as the bickering starts when we all wipe on the first boss and everyone blames everyone else.

Of course, when you get a good group they are normally spectacuarly so, but still no-one suggests a second instance, it's simply about getting the Frosties and buggering off. From the early days when the PuG was King, it's now all about doing Guild runs and speaking in disparaging tones about the quality of people Cross-Server. I bet everyone's just as belittling about each other...

How can this situation be improved? Put a gate outside the instance and give people a minute to stand and prepare a la BG's? Make it mandatory to kill every boss in the Instance in order to qualify for the Frosties from the last boss? Large rubber mallets that come out of your monitor and bash you over the head each time you argue over a boss to skip? I can only hope that Blizzard Towers is keeping a close eye on the dungeon stats and working out whose being smart and who's being an idiot when it comes to dungeon etiquette. What I will say however that having the Oculus pop up as an option will inevitably result in a 20 minute flawlessly issue-free instance. Everyone knows the quickest way to get in, grab their free booty and get the Hell out again. Ironically I feel this is the Instance model for the future. I would be rather afraid if I'm right...

Needless to say, I still run the odd PuG heroic early in the mornings, normally because the quality of player seems to be a lot better in the AM. Of course all that goes out the window on the Weeekends and during school holidays... but it's no fun anymore, it's a chore, or simply a way of getting Elbows, unless it's one of the ICC Three. The difference in quality and application required is noticable. Maybe instead of making the older 5 mans easier maybe Blizzard should have made them harder, so that people were forced to concentrate when doing them...

I used to like Heroics, now I find myself wishing there was another way.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Busy Doing Nothing...

There is a fair deal of Nothing going on at the moment. There's still ICC of course (after a hard night of wiping on Putricide, we managed to get him into the 60%'s on Sunday and will be changing wings tonight I suspect) but until the Ruby Sanctum appears (and we get 3.3.3 and BG changes) it's pretty much the same old same old stuff. however there are now ample opportunities to gear the family without the need to worry about Guild runs or indeed having anyone on the FL to help out. As a quick reminder:

You should be running VoA WEEKLY. 10 and 25 man both give Two Elbows of Frosty. 25 man has the chance to drop 2 of the best bits of gear currently available in game: Top Tier 10 from 25 man, Normal Tier 10 from 10 man. That's 155 Elbow's worth of FREE goodness you have a chance of scooping, every week! Thus far I've been lucky on the Lock with the Sanctified Dark Covern Leggings. It's not just Tier either, there's the top level of Arena Gears too. Staggeringly I was the only Druid in a 25 man when the Wrathful Gladiator's Wyrmhide Legguards dropped: now I could have been a snob and turned them down because they're PvP but really... L270 gear! The Crit and Spell Power alone made them a huge upgrade. I've learnt over the years to take the items where I can find them, and these are likely to last me into Cataclysm and beyond. Remember that it's going to be either legs or gloves you get a chance at, so it is also the opportunity of a two set bonus to boot. The Mage's Wrathful Gladiator's Silk Handguards of course come with the added bonus of a PvP-style ability... pity I never need to CC in dungeons any more...

You really should be running the Daily Dungeon too for Two Elbows of Frosty. There's a seperate post coming about the heroics, suffice it to say the sooner Blizzard make killing each boss in every instance mandatory to get your frosties the better. There are some quite spectacular liberties being taken in the name of a 'quick run gogogogo'. My husband suggested that every time someone says 'gogogo' in an Instance we should all lie down for 10 seconds and shout 'DEAD ANTS!' as a reactionary gesture. If I thought it might do any good at all, I'd be doing it nearly every instance I enter...

Finally, if you're lucky enough to have a decently-populated server, the Weekly Raid Quest for FIVE Elbows of Frosty is a must-complete. I've been lucky the last three weeks, the Council of Six spending all their time in Naxx knocking off the lesser bosses, and no-one in their right mind is daring to ask for an achievement for an instance that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. That's meant 18 Frosties per Toon across the Family \o/ It means that next week, once VoA resets, everyone will get a L264 upgrade. The Hunter and the Druid were ahead of the curve (as they have achievements to flash for the more complex raid weeklies) so yesterday saw two major upgrades: the T10 Hunter chest (and 2 set bonus :D) and a quite spectacuarly gorgeous Druid belt upgrade. Looking at the 264 gear I suspect I'll be aiming to get belts for everybody (especially as you can add a third slot, thus allowing gem upgrades as we run through Cataclysm)

So, by doing very little (in relative terms) you can add an extra SEVEN Elbows per week to your two per day standard operating total. With Cataclysm still a long way away the numbers will soon add up...

Monday, March 08, 2010

The More Things Change...


Last week was possibly one of the hardest I've ever experienced in-game.

It was nothing to do with content. It was everything to do with the people playing it... or in many cases, not. For a very long time there's been a core of people in my Guild who have done the trailblazing, they've cleared the ground for everyone else to come in and move through. There came a point late last year where it became clear that there were also those who weren't really prepared to put in the same amount of effort, but wished to reap the same level of reward. As a result my Guild agreed by concensus to implement a change: if you wanted to do progression content you would need a special rank to do so.

A number of people left last week. It may have been because of this, I'm not entirely sure, but what was clear was that everyone grasps we are about to move through a period of change. There's a lot of people currently playing alts, including people trying healing and tanking for the first time, and they are ACE. It's fabulous to see people who aren't afraid to try something new, who understand that to do something well sometimes means moving out of your comfort zone and taking a chance or two. Change is not something to fear or run away from, it should be embraced and  met head on. The benefits far outweigh the issues, after all: having more people in Guild who can fulfill any number of roles cannot ever be a bad thing.

The game will be undergoing a fairly significant period of change itself: the Old World is disappearing, stats on gear are being refined. The drop-out in raiding is already becoming apparent: I witnessed four guild adverts in IF at the weekend all spammed almost simultaneously. For many people it is time to move on, or refocus priorities. It's Spring, after all, traditionally a time for a good old clearout. For those of us who count the game as 'relaxation' in our hobbies list, it's all happened before: I remember the chaos and resentment that followed when it became apparent 40 man raiding was no more pre-Burning Crusade. I recall how people thought the game had sold out with Emblems pre-Northrend. There's always something to blame, but more often than not the Game is simply a symptom and rarely a cause. Despite what many non-gamers would have us think, the addictive nature of Warcraft more often than not is because the people playing it are lacking elsewhere in their lives.

I find it interesting that some people consider that being asked to make an effort won't be fun. I also wonder why some people view change as a bad thing, that staying the same is better than trying new things. It is, of course, because change is also a subjective thing. Leaving us to go start elsewhere is as much of a change in it's own way as staying put and doing things differently, it's all down to your perception. I sensed a new mood of optimism in Guild last night, that people are looking forward to the coming months and that we are capable not only of clearing ICC but giving the Hard Modes a good go too. Even if we fail, we can at least say we had a go, and that's enough to make me genuinely excited for the weeks and months ahead.

I'm a big fan of change. I hope that as Azeroth rumbles towards Cataclysm other people recognise the benefits of looking at the game in new ways, and maybe taking a chance on themselves and trying soemthing a bit more challenging.