Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hard Mode Havoc - Thorium

We spent four hours wiping on Thorim Hard mode tonight, with two less than 10% wipes. While I admit my fair share of stupid mistakes (bad tunnel vision), there's still that element of raid leading that promotes said raid mistakes. If you don't ask questions of your raiders, if you yell at them and call them names instead of making sure they are secure in their movements, then you're equally as responsible for their "badness".

This is not a fight where you can run anywhere you want to get out of AoE. I hate AoE - if you read this blog, you know I can't stand remaining in unnecessary AoE - so I move out as quickly as possible to the nearest open location. This is not good. As one of the raid leaders said, "You are adding more entropy to an already chaotic fight." So the fight was set up like this:

This set up makes movement only necessary for one reason: Lightning Charge. If the Charge comes up for your group, run behind the group next to you - if Blizzard is there, run behind the group in the other direction. If you only have one way to run (the groups right next to his pedestal), and blizzard is directly behind the group you would normally run behind, then run to the group itself, and deal with the chain lightning. Else, the chain lightning only hits each group, and life is grand.

Other tips for hunters:
  • Watch your Volley! We were pushing Thorim into the arena about 45-seconds before Sif would disappear. Regardless, pay attention to when he enters the fight so you don't Volley him and pull aggro. I died twice this way >_<
  • Mana issues: I was in the arena with all the melee, and there wasn't a sole replenishment in the group. My duties included Misdirecting extra threat to the tanks, laying down Frost Traps, and Volleying. The majority of the time, I am OOM by the time we turn into Phase 2. Don't Viper and loose DPS! Pop up a Viper Sting on Thorim, go through your normal rotation once, then pop Serpent Sting in place of a Steady Shot GCD. That puts my mana back at a managable level, and I never go OOM again.
  • Use Rapid Fire only after you've reset your position. Like most chaotic, movement intensive fights, you have no idea when you will move again, so don't just stand there spamming away just because you've popped it, so use it at the time you will get the most of it regardless if you might have to move again soon afterwards.
  • This is a TERRIBLE fight to pull aggro on because of the delicate positioning of the boss, but you shouldn't have to worry about it with the controlled taunts going around by the tanks. Don't tunnel vision anything, regardless. You want your eyes on the area around your group (i.e. your toon) the entire time, not your GCD, Omen, and definitely not Recount.
After all this hard work, he had better drop the bow (and then drop it twice in a row after that).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Star Caller

Followed shortly by:

Fuck yeah.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just breathe.. just brea- oh FFS!

More than once a raid night I have to remind myself that I am no longer an officer, and hence, can no longer tell people what to do and expect to be listened to. It's not easy, especially when I've only experienced some of these fights when I'm the one in control.

One of the traits I was hopeful of seeing when I joined this guild was skill, and while I found it in a lot of player's DPS, it was painfully obvious that it lacked in other regards, such as teamwork. When I asked how this guild did Vezax, I was warned that the range failed at shadow crash. I couldn't believe it. How can players that know how to pump out the DPS so adequately fail so miserably at strafing side to side and back for life leech? And, sure enough, range died to shadow crash. I felt like calling it out, particularly to the players who were bragging about their consistently low latency, how they can react so slowly if they are not lagging. I watched people move away from the range group, as if they just had to be apart, and I have no idea why. When we did a single attempt at Hard Mode, the raid leader immediately berated the range for scattering once the Animus formed. What, is your ego simply too big to be crowded with the rest of us? Seriously, I don't get it.

Vezax died quickly enough, and on we went to Yogg to work on Two Lights. Now, here is the best example I have ever seen of a Cluster Fuck. If you looked up Cluster Fuck in the Oxford English Dictionary, it would have a diagram of this "strategy". Of course, I say all of this in annoyance simply because I'm not used to this execution, but it still applies to the general lack of order present throughout the attempts.

Now, my old guild only had so many kills on Yogg, I fully admit, but our failure was not the result of strategy. Our execution was very clean, people spoke only when necessary to relay information, players moved together and listened to directions. We failed due to player weakness. Here, the reverse is true.

I suppose it's that ego-bit that comes into play when people simply go their own way with their own priorities, and even why the guild leaders don't do another strategy that requires people to follow more direct orders. All I know is that I have never had to kill my own Constrictor Tentacle before, despite being surrounded by other players. There was no tentacle priority, no leader calling out where to move for what tentacle. The brain group didn't have assigned portals. People were running around everywhere.

I was very annoyed.

It's just a matter of time before I get used to it, of course. But until then, I just need to continue biting my tongue and wait to vent my frustration through PvP.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I just had to open my mouth...

I'm not in the guild for a week and already some guild maintenance has been offered to me. I casually mentioned that I have a bit of experience with web design, really nothing more than tweaking templates and basic code writing, and the next thing I know the guild master wants me to give a make-over to the guild website.

I left my old guild with the hope of not being responsible for guild functions, only to have that hope shattered. Oy. At least it's relatively minor compared to my old responsibilities.

I could say no, of course, but I'd be silly to do so. Obviously, they like me well enough to offer me the opportunity and think I am good enough to be a consistent guild participant, so I see this as a decent move of appreciation.

Now to figure out what I'm doing :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trial run

So I've been running with the Hunter's Mark spec for a couple of days now, and I can't really say my DPS has changed much, but it definitely didn't go down. Here are my observations:
  • It makes it very easy to use Imp. Steady Shot and guarantees that Chimera will be the shot to use it, and I like that but...
  • Fucking up the rotation is a pain to fix. Misdirecting became a rather annoying hassle at the beginning of the fight. Since I don't want to loose a tick to the initial Serpent Sting placement, followed by Chimera, I've tried starting my MDs with Aimed, but really, it screws over your initial DPS since you have wait to hit Aimed until Chimera is up. I moved Arcane away from my rotation hotkeys so I wouldn't use it, but I think I will for Misdirecting.
  • Soloing sucks. One less instant is just a pain in the ass, and if I do use Arcane, I run out of mana quickly (but that might have just been a poor replenishment instance, as well).
So, yeah. The online spreadsheet I worked out the DPS for shows the keeping those three points into Imp Hunters Mark over Imp Arcane boosts my DPS, with another minor boost if I keep Arcane Shot out of my rotation... I'm honestly not sure where I want to do with this, though I did pick up the Armor Pen shoulders from Flame Leviathan 10 tonight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spec haggling: Improved Hunter's Mark and the EJ's Armor Pen Results

Now that I'm finally somewhere that actually relies on their fellow raiders for buffs and spec compromise accordingly, I'm taking another look at my spec.

Once I joined the guild hunter channel, we started discussing builds. I was neither the Armor Pen build, nor the Hunter's Mark build, since I dislike relying on another individual to provide the buffs and stats I need (i.e. hit). But it's got me thinking.

Right now, my ArP is a lackluster 208 (~17%). Reading the Elitist Jerks thread, I came to the conclusion that while it all works in theory, it's relying heavily on the reliance of others and good ol' fashion chance. Also, the spreadsheet faults latency, making cooldown-reducing glyphs useless, not to mention using the complete BiS for Ulduar, where 1-3 of those are usually icky leather and have both of the rings from the Algalon quest line. There is nothing about survivability or mana issues in there, just pumping out the damage, which is, of course, it's intention. I can upgrade my shoulders and belt to give me an additional 100 ArP easily enough.

The Armor Pen spec also focuses on removing Arcane Shot from the rotation completely, instead making the normal rotation (not priority) Chimera -> Aimed -> Steady -> Steady -> Steady -> Steady, since it is working on upping physical damage over magic. This I find very interesting, and since I am currently hit capped (and more) and with the surplus of hit on gear, I have no intentions of going into Focused Aim. So, maybe Hunter's Mark instead?

Here is what I am thinking. The only difference is moving a point out of Imp. Steady Shot (which is where I am now) back into Trueshot, since I can't stand the thought of not having my precious symbol of Marksmanship, and remaining glyphed for it. I would loose a point in Rapid Recuperation overall.

Thoughts? I can easily be swayed on my glyphs, now that I'm not the only one bringing 10% increase AP to the raids, and Blizzard still hasn't fixed the overwrite bug. But since I am dropping Arcane Shot, I want to buff my Aimed as much as possible (hence going back into 3/3 Imp. Barrage) We also have one hunter that evidently refuses to waste a GCD on trivial things such as Hunter's Mark, Misdirection, or Feign Death and others who will happily stop marking, so I'm not too concerned about it being overwritten.

Already I have some reservations about spamming Steady Shot like that - that is a lot of standing time.


So, here I am, on Turalyon. My new "home"... though, I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable yet. After watching two rogues pushing 7k DPS on nearly every single fight during tonight's Ulduar run, I'm kinda loosing my self-confidence. So, this is what it's like to truly push content. Let me start from the beginning.

I applied with three guilds over the period of about four days. The first was a half-hearted application that I didn't really expect much from if I didn't immediately hear from them. I filled out the app as fully as I would like to see if I were an officer again, but they didn't specifically say they were interested in hunters, so I didn't put much faith into it, despite how perfectly I felt I would fit in there.

The second was to a guild on a PvP server, a bit more progressed than my last guild, but the least so of the three I applied to. The raiding times were good, but I was apprehensive about leaving my PvE comfort zone. The final guild was the most progressed of the three, and by far the most professional I've ever encountered, though I was nervous that I wouldn't fulfill their standards. Additionally, it would put me back on my old raiding schedule (raiding until 1 AM), something which I was trying to steer away from, but was ready to make an exception. The hunter that interviewed me said they were very impressed with my application and eager to give me a try. I was completely ready to transfer, when I received notice from the first guild I applied with, requesting an interview. I immediately posted my decline to the PvP server guild. It was now down to the top guild on Greymane or the second-ranked guild on Turalyon.

Now, the Turalyon guild was everything I wanted, though I wasn't as impressed with the interview. Whereas Greymane quizzed me over my spec, gear, and glyphs, and even showed some excitement about the prospect of two raiding Marksman hunters, the Turalyon guild wondered if I had any questions about the guild itself. The guild leader seemed more keen on trying out a hunter that knew what they were doing, since evidently he wasn't impressed with how his current hunters were performing. This was a considerable let down from the Greymane guild, where I could talk with others that seemed genuinely in love with the class as I am.

In the end, I had to ask myself why I was transferring again, and knew I had to go with the guild that raided the least, despite my apprehensions brought on by the dichotomy between the two interviews. I transferred last night, after my last guild run, and accepted my ginvite once the servers came back up today. I chatted with the Guild Master, who had interviewed me, a bit afterwards, trying to get bearing. We discussed some raiding matters, including whether or not I would have to drop Skinning for Jewelcrafting (I'm safe, for now).

When raid time came, I have to admit I was more than just a little nervous. And, sure enough, it was just like every other progressive-minded guild I had raided with on Kilrogg. A lot of swearing, a lot of belittling, and even a dose of misogyny in there for good measure. I was disappointed, but not surprised.

I didn't do any worse than the other hunters - beating them on several fights, but admittedly, not outstripping them, and certainly not even coming close to the melee. I also have to wonder how much DPS I lost trying to adjust to the different strategies. Every fight up to Auriaya was executed differently from how I am used to them, and I lost attention on my DPS in order to make sure I didn't make some aggrevious mistake. I was only called out once, to which I provided a legitamit retort, and it was dropped. I relaxed around Hodir, even though I had never successfully completed a 25 man Hard Mode kill, it was still my comfort zone.

I just hope all my posts don't end up angry...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

But treasure necessary pain...

Last night was my last guild run. Since Yogg was dead, we put together a couple of Ulduar 10 groups, including the Hard Mode run we had started Friday. It was a great run - pulled off Knock, Knock on Wood, since we had never seen it before, I snagged a new pair of shoulders (no one else needed them), and passed on Mjolnir Runestone, though I won the roll (common, you can't just let someone win it with a 25!). It was exactly what I wanted for my last night in the guild. I was with the people I cared about and loved playing with, and I couldn't ask for more than that.

Afterwards, I announced my departure, having posted my good-bye on the forums. Suddenly I found myself swamped with parting mementos: Our other hunter officer gave me the gun that has his namesake, that he kept for nearly three years; our pally tank gave me a pair of Ruby Shades, since they are no longer attainable; one of our bear tanks gave me a Lovely Black Dress, since it always looks so lovely on lady Tauren; and one of my dearest friends gave me a Siren's Tear, then paraphased a Latin poem for me in (I think) elegant couplet. Then we all met up in Terokkar Forest, around the moths, for a final screenshot.

Have I mentioned I don't think I've cried so much over good-byes in my life?

Stop needless pain!

I *just* made a donation to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) through Brajana's charity drive over at Mend Pet, and you should, too! After all, there is nothing less necessary in the world than needless hate and pain, regardless of the DNA in the cells.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ode to my guild

I joined my present guild two years ago when my then-current guild died due to lack of raiders, and a trio of us decided to look for a new home. I never really dreamed we would find a place as great as what we found.

I'm sure my guild is no better or worse than any other guild, but it's comfy - there's just no other way to putting it. It really does just feel like your childhood home: Every nook and cranny is recognizable and instantly familiar. This guy will always be doing this, another guy will always respond this way. It's constant and predictable, and I will miss it greatly.

After much thought, I've decided to leave the server all together. I'm going to treat my leave of the guild like removing a band-aide: Quick and fast (as my GM would say) so it doesn't hurt as much. I fear that if I stay on server, but out of my home, I cannot be entirely loyal to my new guild, which is just not fair to them. I will be terribly lonely staying at a neighbor's house, looking out at all my family, trying to spy in on my old life. Sure, there would be tells and party invites, but it won't be the same as having the green guild chat filled with familiar names, the red officer chat discussing inappropriate topics right before a pull. And if there is one thing I know I cannot afford, that is to return to my guild to raid, and I will be sorely tempted to do so if I stay on server.

I spent yesterday afternoon guild shopping, and filled out two applications, with both having promising responses. One is a bit more progressed than the other, but the lesser progressed is also on a PvP server, which I'm not entirely sure I want to try and transition to. The more progressed actually had a hunter representative come over and chat with me after raid, despite my warnings that I was very tired. We discussed my gems, glyphs, and spec, and even delved into some more theorycrafting than I actually felt comfortable with, though I think I winged it well enough considering my exhausted state. He mentioned the effects of haste with Glyph of Chimera and Glyph of Aimed, something I genuinely hadn't completely considered (yay food for thought!). We also talked a little about Imp Hunter's Mark, and he seemed rather impressed by the idea of having two MM in raid: One with TSA and the other with IHM. Excuse me while a drool...

So yeah, it would be a big change going to either of these guilds, and I think that will be enough to help me with the pain of leaving my beloved current guild. The times will be more managable, and that will help my RL situation (not to mention the Boy's). Now it's just a matter of going this week or the next.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Races!

MMO Champion did some data mining and found two new sets of masks in the PTR: Goblins and Worgens. They predict these will be the two new races for the expansion: Goblins for the Horde and Worgens for the Alliance.

This makes sense. After all, the Alliance already have Gnomes to satisfy their engineering needs, and the Goblins have been satisfying the Horde transportation needs throughout play. You have to know a bit about Warcraft trivia to understand the Worgen. To the south of Silverpine Forest, just beyond Shadowfang Keep and the cursed, worgen inhabited Pyrewood is the land of Gilneas. The great Greyman Wall seperates this human territory from the rest of the Scourge infested north, and it was rumored pre-BC that the Worgen would be the next playable race.

Personally, I hope that the Goblin and Worgen have no pre-determined alliances. Rather, have them decide at some point in leveling what faction they want. I really like the idea of playing Worgen. Common! Who doesn't want to be a werewolf?


Like I said earlier, my impatience knows no bounds. I so dislike the fact that I can't do anything to fix my WoW situation (or my equally topsy-turvy RL situation) that even my guildees have noticed my anxiety, though I'm only hinted at my eminent departure. My dear Guild Master knows the frustration I am going through and started finding solutions for me.

My GM is on good terms with the leaders of both the progressive guilds on server and nearly all the other mid-progression guild masters, so he asked around for their raid times. Every one was on par or later than ours, except for one. One guild raids earlier by an hour, putting me back on a 10-1 raiding schedule, abet they only raid three nights a week. Like most other mid-level progression guilds, they are going through the Summer Slump. They've done a couple of Hard Modes we haven't, but other than that, they are on the same progression track.

Even though my GM continuously caution's me to take it slow, I'm anxious to figure out a solution to my WoW instability. After all, it's not only me who has to go through this, but the Boy as well. He's been staying up with me until raid ends, and when we woke up this morning, he expressed his dislike for waking up so late. And joining this other guild gives me the opportunity to stay on server with all of my dear guildees, the one thing that tore my decision between leaving server or quitting WoW. Even if this doesn't work out, I can always guild shop off server...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Asleep at the keyboard

No, I haven't fallen asleep in the middle of raid yet, but it's coming damn close. Whereas I was in a semi-acceptable sleep schedule of 1ish to 10ish, now I'm fully transited to a 2ish to 11ish, which is a far cry from being acceptable. It's too bad I'm one of those people whose natural rhythms demand nine hours of sleep - the Boy only needs about seven... So I'm hovering over the keyboard at 1 AM EST, trying to stay focused on the fights, not talking in Vent, and attempting to not read two Vanquisher tokens when only one dropped. It's only a matter of time before I do something detrimental during an encounter, and I really don't like that thought...

I told myself that I'll go for the rest of the raid week in attempt to figure something out, but I think at that time I will start guild shopping. It didn't help that the other east coast officer logged on last night to announce that his raiding is going to be cut back due to a change in job schedule. It's one of those things where I think I could do it if I had another guy there struggling with me, but now that empathy is leaving, it's a strong pull to follow.

I asked my Guild Leader if he blamed me transferring, and he said, as usual (and in his super strong, sexy French accent), "Theese eese life, Neg. We will wurk somezing out." I hate even more the thought of leaving my guild in the middle of the Summer Slump. We had 22 raiders on last night, and though we had enough skill to pull of a flawless Hodir kill, a nearly flawless Freya kill, and a rather impressive Vezax enrage-wipe, it just wasn't enough to put us at Yogg, and so we 21-manned VoA to end the night early. I have no doubt that my guild will survive - they always have - but it doesn't make me feel any less guilty for leaving them struggling so.

Now it's just time to wait and see. I'm a notoriously impatient person with regard to just sitting. I'm patient enough when I'm working towards a goal, not so much when I'm just waiting for a goal to come to me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Playing PST at EST

After 15 hours driving and freaking out considerably about the trip through West Virginian mountains (beautiful, but I'll think I'd rather fly), we have arrived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I stared at the Boy as he dutifully set up the Internet (oh, sweet, blessed Internet!), just waiting for the joyous time when I would have the world at my fingertips again. You never really realize how much you think to yourself "Oh, I'll just look that up" when you can't just look it up...

Now I am on Eastern Standard Time, an hour from where I was in St. Louis/Chicago/Wichita, and now a full three hours difference from my server time. This is a predicament. While the raiding times were acceptable for my college student life and my natural night-owl inclinations, now they are threatening the tipping point. I will now be raiding from 11 PM to 2 AM, and that threatens potential morning obligations...

I asked the other EST officer how he manages it, and his reply was that his working hours were a bit flexible. He is also a bit of a night-owl, and he suggested either taking a second shift working period, or just explaining to potential employers that I am simply useless as a morning person (which is not a lie).

I really don't want to transfer servers. I love my guild and my friends on Kilrogg, and I don't think I have the energy to start over, especially when I am doing it by myself now. I would rather let Neg die there than start again, but I don't particularly feel like quitting WoW.

We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MIA: Moving

A quick plug just before the Boy removes the Internet connection (ahhhhhh!)

We are off to Virginia, a 14 hour drive from St. Louis. I bought by first book on tape for the journey (Thomas Friedmans's Hot, Flat, and Crowded - about the environmental crisis), and I am in the process of dismantling and cleaning the home aquarium.

Hopefully I'll be back on Tuesday in time for the fresh raid week. I've done two weeks without Internet... I can go two days... right?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raid Leading

Technically, I am not a raid leader. While I share the second-in-command with another officer, I deal with more physical issues than what is required to lead the 20-or-so other raiders, so I find it a bit unnerving to step up and manage everything I'm not normally handling. Yet last night I stepped up, and I think I did pretty well for once.

First off, I gotta say I was very proud of myself for remembering to grab the Fish Feasts from the guild bank. While I willingly procure the mats and make these for the guild, I'm not one that carries a stack of them all the time, so the fact that I actually made a conscious effort to consider the buff foods is a step in the right direction.

We left off Wednesday night on Thorium, having one shot every boss leading up to him. We spent a good hour wiping on the Thunder Guardian, without any root problem identified. Range in the arena kept dying, DPS in the tunnel was too slow, etc., so I felt like it was time to mix it up a bit to see if that doesn't solve the problem.

One of the issues, I find, from maintaining the same raid leader day in an day out is the rut that develops in regard to trying something new. There is a comforting in simply doing the tried-and-true methods of boss strategy, but when those fail, one has to admit that something new has to be attempted. It's scary, no doubt - after all, no one likes to waste time on a fool-hardy attempt when we know for certain that another method will work - but maybe, just maybe a new strategy will be better and easier, be damned if it requires some effort!

It doesn't help, I suppose, that the tank and provider of new strategies is rather bull-headed, opinionated, and a bit of a loot whore, so his ideas are more often than not eagerly brushed aside by the raid leader. So it falls to others to ignore the guy's annoying faults and dust off the gems of his ideas, and I am one who is very willing to try.

So I went with the "crazy" idea of putting some melee in the tunnel, despite the usual raid leader's objections about the first miniboss. Like Yogg's brain, the more instant damage in the tunnel, the faster the trash mobs will go down, so I put our new Death Knight in there, who was dying frequently in arena the day before. Along with two mages, a hunter, an elemental shaman, our usual tunnel-caller lock, a bear tank, and a sole pally healer. And lo and behold, the tunnel group lived, and nearly everyone in the arena lived, and the boss died on our second attempt.

I felt pretty good.

Off to Vezax, the bastard that had cock-blocked us for several days, two weeks in a row now. By this time, our normal raid leader had logged on, but since it was another long day at work for him, he willingly let me lead. However, as I mentioned a couple posts ago, this is not a fight one can coordinate well if you have never played each raid role. I went through the motions required before attempt (fish feast, ready check, etc.), but besides explaining the fight and assigning the interrupts, there was little else I could take charge of. I left it to the pally tank to figure out the best strat this time around, since we lacked a warrior tank that could Intervene a warlock's pet during the kite phase.

After several wipes, and in a move that surprised me, the normal raid leader conferred with the tank and the main healer, and the came to the conclusion to kite every other phase. It had been suggested before, but never tried, but obviously tonight was a night for new strategies. Lo and behold, Vezax died, and he didn't drop Sellcore Leggings! Since I took Cindershard Ring last time, I willingly passed to another hunter for the new ring.

After a couple pokes at Yogg, raid was called. We had gone further than we had in several weeks, and while I don't get to be there for Sunday and Monday's raids (where Yogg will die again, and the guild will work on Hard-Mode Iron Council), I think I did my part getting us there.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fickle droprates suck

In the two-ish months we've been in Ulduar, I believe we've had every single plate item drop multiple times (the Shardplate Greaves from Hodir immediately spring to mind), but everything else tends to take its precious time.

Cindershard Ring finally dropped, and I bid for that baby faster than you could blink, despite the fact that it puts me a full 1% over the hit cap. I've already mentioned that we haven't seen a single Lotrafen off of Vezax, but I'm getting my hit gear collected for the day when I can finally turn in my hit-stat stick for a more friendly dps stat sit. Nymph Heart Charm is sitting in the bank (and still unbound), just in case.

Regardless, still haven't seen any new bracers, and I'm just waiting for XT to deny us the gloves on hard mode.

The Random Number Generator can kiss my pretty tauren butt.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vezax: The Spreader of Discord

I've never really encountered a fight that caused such a disparity between the raid roles as General Vezax. The three positions are so unlike the other that it can cause some strife as the raid works to communicate, at least, it has for us.

After several days of working on him, we finally downed Vezax-medium mode. I say this because we presently lack a Death Knight tank, forcing us to learn how to complete the encounter as it was intended to be done: By kiting. In the time that we worked to relearn the fight, we discovered how distinct the differences between the raid positions were.

For this fight, there are three groups: The melee, the healers, and the range. The melee, being hindered by Aura of Despair, bear the responsibility of interrupting the Searing Flames; DPS is a second priority. They may or may not help breaking the Saronite Vapors for the healers, but for the most part remain dutifully behind the boss. Additionally, they must be fully behind the boss, as we recently discovered that the more Vezax parries, the harder he hits, and with this boss and his wonky hit box, that is a very important thing to prevent.

The healers stand under Vexaz along side the melee, wandering out only to take advantage of the mana-providing Saronite Pools. They stay under the boss to prevent any undesireable Life Leeches and Shadow Crashes. Their main interest is to heal effectively while conserving their mana, and to get mana quickly from the Saronite Pools as to not present a target for Shadow Crashes.

The range DPS bear the majority of the the particulars for this encounter. They must stay together as much as possible, so the Shadow Crashes will stay in one spot that they all may take advantage of. We manage this by making sure everyone has "Show special warning for Shadow crash is near of you [sic]" checked in DBM, that way they may move away when Shadow Crash targets someone in the pack. The range moves sideways for Shadow Crash, and the individual that has Life Leech runs backwards. This movement strategy is critical to keep Life Leech damage to a minimum while maximizing Shadow Crash pools. Range must be good about managing their mana, so they do not have to go to a Saronite Pool any more than necessary, which would compromise the "Shadow Crash dance" by providing a target outside the range group. Range also have the responsibility of breaking the Saronite Vapors for the healers. It takes a careful eye to make sure they can kill the Vapor near enough to the boss, and prevent it from breaking in the kite path and away from the tank at all times.

While we were working out a decent strategy for the kiting method, it occured to me just how much of a difference there was between the three raid roles for this fight. The range cannot comment on how the healers are doing, because, unlike their usual positions scattered amongst the range, they are moving very little up in melee range. The melee cannot ask the range to do any more than what we are currently doing, because we have more to mutlitask than any of the other raid roles in this encounter. Each group is secluded in their own little world, with different priorities and needs in order to succeed.

It took a bit to rearrange our thinking in terms of three groups instead of twenty-five individuals, but in the end we successfully pulled off the kite-kill (after two, 1% wipes).

And what did he drop? Our fifth pair of Darkcore Leggings, the fucker.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Holiday weekend filler post

Get out of the rain, you silly guards!

Stupid dwarves never build anything tall enough...

So close, and yet, so far. How come nobody ever told me the Alliance had a beer garden?! All Horde get is a freakin' sewer grate!

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reflection of Torment

“Here you are, Neg. Nice and comfy.”

Ranrele lifted the cloth door to the small tent adjacent to their grandmother’s hut, stepping aside to allow her older sister to enter first. Neg ducked into the disused room, which smelled strongly of dried herbs. Their grandmother evidently used this tent as a drying chamber; and sure enough, hanging from the ceiling and walls were bushels of dreamfoil, gromsblood, and other gathered plants. Tinea flew from her accustomed traveling position of Neg’s back to the rafters of the tent, quite pleased to find such a ready source of preserved food. Neg clicked her tongue warningly.

“Oh, I’m sure Grandmother wouldn’t mind if your moth nibbled on some of her stores,” said Neg’s sister, as she entered behind her. “Though, I suggest she stay away from the silversage. Grandmother said it was scarce this year.”

Amicably, the giant moth fluttered over to a large bundle of sungrass and began munching.

Negathle dropped her bag next to the hammock bed, a bit of colored cloth catching her eye. Someone had folded a dark green dress and laid it on the hammock, obviously in encouragement. She picked it up, letting it unfold to its full length. Behind her, Ranrele shifted her hoofs guiltily. Neg cast a reproachful look towards her sister.

“I just thought-”


“Oh, come off your high kodo, Neg. It’s the Lunar Festival! Everyone dresses up for the feast! Why are you here if you didn’t intend to celebrate?”

“I’m here because you asked me to come, little sister. Nothing more.”

“Do this for me,” Ranrele pleaded, her tone of voice changing instantly and her eyes wide as she besought her eldest sister, approaching her with open arms. The druid’s chipper mood had disappeared quickly in the light of this early confrontation. “Can we be a family just this once? I’m so tired of being the only sister to accompany Grandmother to the Elder’s Feast, when everyone knows there should be three!”

Neg ignored the stab of guilt in her heart. She didn’t think everyone knew there should be three sisters of the Highmountain clan accompanying their matriarch to the celebratory feast of the tauren elders. For that matter, she sincerely doubted the majority of the populous of Thunder Bluff still knew members of the Highmountain clan still breathed. After all, her parents did disown their clan status when she and her sister were still children, leaving their paternal grandmother the sole living bearer of the name in the tauren city. All other members were either long dead or distantly scattered.

“Who knows,” said her sister, warmly, leaning in as if to tell her a secret, “there might even be a cute guy there.”

A disgusted grunt was Neg’s only reply as she gazed at the dress, her mind still on family.

Ranrele sighed, having depleted her arsenal of arguments to convince her sister to wear the attire. The young druid, though exceedingly intelligent, was never clever at dealing with people, and this time Negathle did not regret that aspect of her sister’s character. She disliked being tricked into some social function, probably more than she disliked the social functions themselves.

“The banquet begins at dusk. I hope to see you there,” the young tauren said sulkily, turning around and leaving the tent. Neg didn’t watch her go; she still glared down at the dress as if it were accusing her of further insubordination. She tossed the dress back onto the hammock, and looked up at the moth that was munching contentedly at a blade of sungrass. Tinea seemed interested in the feast her sister mentioned, though Neg sensed her pet’s curiosity was motivated mainly by her stomach. The hunter scowled at the lack of aid in her decision making. The giant moth waved her antennae, unconcerned with her master’s disapproval.

Come off it, her sister had said, and Neg’s scowl deepened at the thought. Ranrele thought her arrogant for wearing her battle-scarred mail and leathers; an accusation that wouldn’t be further from the truth. The gear was what she knew – anything else wouldn’t be practical. It’s not like she would be decked fully in the magic-infused armor she salvaged from the dungeons of Naxxramas, prepared for battle against the armies of Scourge... just the basic clothing she was comfortable in! A vision of herself, armored in her best, passed through her mind, her head arrogantly aloft as she escorted her grandmother to Elder Rise. No, she couldn’t have that, even if it was completely unintentional. Automatically, she began unlatching the mail spaulders covering her shoulders.

The heavy mail gone from her torso, the hunter wiggled out of her chain tunic, carefully draping it over her bag once she freed herself from its confines. She looked down at herself, feeling silly in just her thin leather undershirt. She quickly removed the glowing gems from around her neck and fingers, and, as she did so, her eye caught the two trinkets that hung from her belt, their presence typically forgotten.

One was an ornate slip of parchment, carefully framed and protected as it dangled from a mithril chain. However, Greatness betrayed its simplicity, as the trinket still remained one of the most powerful tokens accessible to her. Neg unlatched it from her belt and carefully folded it under her tunic.

She looked down at the remaining trinket, holding it in her hand. It was just a small pane of glass, magically infused to be unbreakable and grant its bearer precision in attacks. It was a common thing, sold to soldiers, mercenaries, and adventurers in Dalaran for whatever proof their provided of their experience in Naxxramas, but why so many were willing to subjugate themselves to the trinket’s power, she did not know.

Unlatching the silver chain from her belt, she brought the glass up to eye level. At the moment, with no magic of strife in the air, no excitement of battle coursing through her being, the trinket merely revealed a brown-haired female tauren whose eyes, if not face, betrayed the long absence of youth. Neg stared past herself, unsurprised at the hardened woman she had become, into the depths of the mirror, where she guiltily willed herself to see what the trinket inevitably provided its bearer. Perhaps she’d meet an attractive man at the festival, Ranrele had encouraged, but Neg knew the only man she wanted could only ever be seen in the mirror; his face, and his fall, haunted her mind every battle.

Neg held back her last shot, the faint blue glow of the scorpid poison permeating the air around her slotted arrow. Her eyes narrowed as the giant pit lord gave a great lurch forward, as if he were losing his balance, then fall backwards with an earth-shaking crash. Silence rang in the air like some inverse aftershock. Was the demon dead?

A red windserpent snaked through the air towards her. Aeris was typically very acute at recognizing whether or not her quarry had perished, but Neg did not drop her guard as she held out her left arm for the windserpent to coil around. She stood still and alert; the Sunwell Plateau had many hidden and unexpected dangers.

“He is dead” grunted an orcish voice from below her, and the raiders visibly relaxed. Many began shuffling around; the military convey looked for their brethren, and the hodgepodge of mercenaries and lore-seekers tended to the damages they had sustained in the battle against Brutallus.

Neg looked through the mass of bodies towards the corpse of the demon, searching for a face she knew. Wrey Blackhoof caught her eye and offered her a boyish grin. She smiled back, and the expression, so alien to her experience-hardened face, made her look beautiful and youthful. The sounds of the wound-tending and armor repair were drowned out by the sight of his face, and for a fleeting moment, Neg recognized happiness.

Suddenly, the world exploded in green light. The giant body of the pit lord was enveloped in emerald flames. Everyone around her froze in mid-act and stared, transfixed, at the defeated demon. Neg couldn’t believe her eyes.

Wrey!” she screamed.

Another blast of felfire hurtled in their direction, and the group dove for cover. Her instincts overrode her emotions, and she fell to the ground, the white fire hurtling overhead. Aeris uncoiled from her arm to prevent being crushed.

A great, skeletal dragon pumped her tattered wings and lifted above the scarred ground to hover over them.

“Glory to KilJaeden!” she trumpeted above and soared across the rampart, no longer interested in the invading squadron.

Negathle looked up at the transformed Madrigosa, confirming that the newly created fel dragon’s attention was not on them, before allowing her emotions to come rushing back full force. No, it just couldn’t be, she told herself as she pushed herself up, the mail armor heavy on her back. She dropped her halberd and bow, the weight of her weapons overwhelming her, and she struggled to sit upright. Her heart pumped furiously in her chest as she forced herself to look over where she saw him last.

Warriors and healers surrounded the corpse of the pit lord, its form looming across the clearing, the demonic blood seeping into the ground. No doubt it was that tainted brew that corrupted the blue dragon, burning away her flesh, securing her soul from the astral plane and twisting it into the creature that soared above them. His evil permeated the world, and now Neg’s heart, even in death.

“Hunter...” A Forsaken priest approached her, his empty eyes willing her to accept the inevitable.


“What powers of the Light I wield could not harness him-”

“To the Nether with your Light!”

She was up now, enraged at their acceptance of his fate. She pushed passed the priest to see Wrey’s body, but a druid stepped in her path. He placed his hands on her arms, squeezing as she struggled to free herself.

“Neg, don’t,” he said.

“Let me pass!” she roared at him. She looked around his massive form, anxiety building as she saw a group of warriors were kneeling around the spot where she saw Wrey only five minutes earlier. “I will not accept this!”

“The Earth Mother has taken him. He is gone.”


“You must accept Her will, Neg.”

The orcs and trolls surrounding their fallen comrade lifted his body, now freed of armor and shroud in the red cloth of glory. Neg could make out his profile from beneath the sheet.

She threw off the comforting hands of the druid and turned her back on the convoy, never to enter the Sunwell Plateau again.

The emerald eyes in the mirror were completely unlike the smiling blue gaze she wanted so badly to see. Neg knew she invariably would, as every time her bullet found its target, the trinket would produce the images of her heartbreak. And each time, the anger built over years of anguish would well up inside of her, causing her strikes to be even more savage than before; such was the power of the mirror.

Wordlessly, she folded the mirror under her tunic, and continued to dress for the Lunar Festival.