New computer, baby pally update and such.

Well, one thing Archaeology has going for it is that I get time to write stuff (blog posts, forum posts, responses to people’s PMs and emails) while flying back and forth across Kalimdor in search of Tol’Vir sites for the Ring of the Boy Emperor.

At any rate, I ordered a new computer in early April. It arrived on May 25th. It’s an Alienware from Dell and I will, at this time, ask you to refrain from criticizing my decision to get a pre-made (albeit custom-built) machine and for choosing to get it from Dell. (I know all of the above can be polarizing topics.)

I adore it.

I have two 23″ screens, 9 GB of RAM, dual 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 (SLI enabled), a regular 1TB HD and a 300GB 10k RPM HD (Dayden – I was obviously wrong and was looking at one of the 17 different builds I’d assembled before placing the order.).

It’s awesome.

Let’s be clear, here. I have been playing WoW on a laptop with an integrated video card for pretty much the entirety of the last five and a half years. Exceptions have included stints of housesitting for my parents and two short periods of time where I raided from an internet cafe because my laptop(s) had to go to the shop for various reasons.

Playing with spell details up is insane. Water is GORGEOUS in this game and I never knew! How smooth things are, when I can experience them at 60 FPS or higher as opposed to my traditional 7-12 FPS! And SHADOWS.

So, as you can imagine, I am super excited about my purchase and even MORE excited to raid on this thing!

So far, I’ve done Magmaw, ODS, Chim, Maloriak  on official raid nights on the pally (all but ODS on heroic) and Halfus, V&T and Council (with many Cho’gall attempts) on Monday night on the hunter. (Hilarious! I am not completely huntarded!)

The changes are amazing. Dark Sludge is really easily visible. Blaze and shadow crash are easy to avoid. I cannot WAIT to do Atramedes and Nefarian on my new computer. CANNOT WAIT.

And in the meantime, I’ve hit 85 on my baby paladin. I basically did Uldum for the Ramkahen rep and have ignored any other quests (except the various quests to open the portal to Twilight Highlands, plus Crucible of Carnage) and have randomed my way to 85 by way of healing.

A lot of groups are filled with fail. Fail failfailfailfailfafwftgtwfgishf.

Ahem.

People who can’t do Corla’s beams, people whose pets are on aggressive, people who don’t understand how the pyramid packs (damn you, Majik) work in Vortex Pinnacle…

However, there are the occasional groups who are AWESOME. Tanks who ask about my mana and ask if I need CC, skilled DPS who can zerg the last guy in Blackrock Caverns while pulling the adds off JUST long enough for me to heal the tank…

Some very pro groups and some very fail groups.

The baby pally, who still needs a self-deprecating nickname, is gearing up nicely and has 7 346/359 pieces already.

Erudax, in Grim Batol, has already denied me his bracers (333 on normal) once. We’ll see if this gets to be a trend…

So that’s going nicely. I’ve even livestreamed a few times: http://www.livestream.com/kurnmogh

In other news, Apotheosis had a rough week last week, failing to repeat on heroic Magmaw or heroic Atramedes. The former due to a lot of mistakes, the latter because we ran out of time.

This week, we walked in and one-shot heroic Magmaw.

I’ll take it. >.>

And speaking of Apotheosis, June 1st is a fourth anniversary! Granted, we weren’t really a guild, per se, during most of Wrath, but we’ve been a guild since October or November of 2010 and we were certainly kicking back in Burning Crusade. So it’s time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together and remember the laughter we’ve had during the last several months. I’m planning a retrospective that includes videos (!) and the like. I just need to get videos to render properly and finish going through some screenshots. Should be fun and hopefully done this weekend at the latest.

Having responded to most of my outstanding PMs and emails and having done about as much archaeology as I can stomach for now, I’m going to head to bed, but that’s what’s up with me, lately.

Upcoming blog post topics include: keys/attunement, ZA/ZG gear and T12 gear. Probably not in that order.

More Baby Paladin Adventures!

At this point, the “baby” paladin isn’t all that little. Well. He’s still a dwarf, so he’s little in that sense, but he’s, er, level 70.

I told you. I must have a screw loose!

Of note, at level 64, I soloed Banthar, Bach’lor and Gutripper as ret.

At 65, right after Gutripper’s quest dinged me, I soloed Tusker.

/flex

Bach’lor was actually rough due to the knockbacks, but I kited a bit, stunned a bit, used WoG, Flash of Light, Lay on Hands… Win. Tusker was a bit rough too, but I got through that in three tries rather than the SEVEN Bach’lor required.

If I ever see Mana Tombs or Auchenai Crypts again, I will cry and/or scream. I had never been so happy in my LIFE to see Sethekk Halls after a certain point. Hell, I was even HAPPY to get Escape from Durnholde. The first two times, anyways.

As soon as I hit 68, I started selecting Utgarde Keep specifically in the dungeon finder. There was no WAY I was going back to Auchindoun!

And before you knew it, I was 69.

That is where the suck began.

I had so many awesome tanks in the 60s, in BC content. (Lots of crappy ones, too, but mostly the DPS were crappy versus the tanks.) And as soon as I set foot in Utgarde Keep, I started getting idiots. I’ve run UK about 14 times now. I have had two good tanks from pugs. I’ve run it three times with the pally tank alt of a guild rogue, Tikari, which is great, but the realization slowly dawned on me: if I want a good tank, I’m going to have to do it myself.

Trouble was, my ret gear consisted largely of the heirloom Shadowcraft (leather) stuff. Farm heroics for Justice Points? Me? Hah! Why would I do that when I had a bonus 20% XP anyways and would never, ever inflict my fail retness on others?

I had the heirloom valor helm and the heirloom agi cloak, so if I was going to tank, I needed the tanking cloak ($$$), the tanking heirloom chest and tanking heirloom shoulders. I could deal with the helm, even if it’s mostly geared for DPS. At least it’s stam and strength and it’s plate.

Thus began the grind.

I can’t tell you how many heroics I’ve run in the last two days. Probably about 13 or so. I capped out Madrana’s VP via dungeons and then two more because healers had Call to Arms (3 Golemblood Potions and an Obsidian Hatchling for my troubles) and then did several on Kurn. At least four, since I got three Chaos Orbs and lost out on one.

That is more level 85 heroic dungeons in 48 hours than I’ve done since December.

And along the way, some notable groups:

– An all-guild group consisting of four people who were incredibly racist and vulgar, all of whom I reported after the run. They tried to recruit me, since I was healing on Madrana. Despite their douchebagginess, they were spectacular players and heroic SFK went quickly and smoothly.

– By contrast, a heroic SFK I got today had a “tank” who had less health than I did. Now, I know, I’m in some heroic raid gear, but I should almost never have more health than the tank. Really. After he got me to blow Lay on Hands AND Hand of Sacrifice on him IN THE SAME PULL, I looked at his gear, saw it was almost all the ret PVP gear, none of it gemmed or enchanted and he was using a spellpower sword. Vote-kicking him felt good.

Having said that, I think he might have been better than a fail DK tank I had in UK on the baby pally, though. Imagine, if you will, a level 71 worgen death knight “tank” who is:

* dual wielding
* not using Death and Decay or, apparently, spreading any diseases, meaning that any time I dropped even a HOLY SHOCK on him, the other 3-4 mobs would charge me and kill me
* using Rune of Lichbane on his two weapons and only using Death Strike and Heart Strike
* apparently unable to use Dark Command or Death Grip

Vote-kicking him felt less good than the fail pally “tank” from H SFK because this guy wasn’t even 80 ot 85 yet. 71. He clearly didn’t know his class that well, but my feeling bad for him evaporated the third time we wiped because mobs killed me and he didn’t know how to taunt.

– Oh, and there was that dipstick of a druid tank in heroic Lost City. He berated everyone (except me) in the group repeatedly for being “fucking retarded” and “total fail, epic fail!”. They weren’t that bad, they just weren’t putting out much more than 7-8k damage each.

This caused the tank to yell at the ret pally so much that when the tank DEMANDED the ret pally leave… he did. I feel bad for the ret, even if he only did 5k DPS on the first boss.

We had a trash wipe on our way to the third boss and the tank just LOST it on the DK (who had replaced the paladin) and I’d had enough at that point. I initiated a vote kick and the reason I gave? “Jackass.”

It passed in about 2 seconds.

We got a very nice (albeit less geared and less skilled) DK tank to replace the abusive druid tank and finished up the instance without any issues.

– On Kurn, there was a fail H Deadmines run that actually was finished successfully, but in the middle of the nightmares, my bow broke. That’s how bad the run was and how often I died. I actually tried to rez people with Mass Rez and it was still on cooldown. Squishy tank who didn’t know the instance very well and undergeared healer. Like, my resto shaman who is just barely qualified for heroics has about 15k more mana than the resto shaman who was healing us.

– Also on Kurn, a group where the shaman healer didn’t know he could (and should!) keep Flame Shock up on Ozruk in Stonecore. So he kept getting stunned (and I did, too, at the start). I don’t know WHY, but Serpent Sting doesn’t count as damage or whatever and it’s been that way for quite some time. Luckily, I always keep some Sulfuron Slammers on me, which breaks the paralysis.

So yeah, lots of “interesting” runs.

But mission accomplished! The heirloom Might chest and shoulders are mine!

And I’ve tanked!

I actually tanked with just the chest, the tanking heirloom cloak and the valor helm (and my ring, of course) twice and then once I got the shoulders, I couldn’t resist going again.

This is the first time I’ve tanked on a paladin since 4.0 dropped.

I’m still not great, I’ve never been a GREAT paladin tank. I’ve been at least adequate most of the time, though.

I gotta say, it’s a little horrifying to realize you don’t REALLY know what the hell buttons you’re supposed to be pushing. Apart from anything else, I FORGET to Word of Glory myself to keep Holy Shield up and I keep hitting Shield of the Righteous when I only have one charge of Holy Power. I know, I know… fail!

So the baby pally is almost 71 and is tanking ’till 80ish. At that point, time to race change to human and then we’ll see how the tanking situation is. The Wrath content tanks are awful from just about every run I’ve done and I KNOW that content as a tank (thanks to tanking on Madrana in heroics back in the day and thanks to tanking on my druid, also back in the day), so it’s just easier to adjust to the new pally tanking methods and going to town on Wrath instances.

I just hope no one looks at my trinkets. They’re level 60ish blue healing trinkets…

Why Bribery Won't Help — Much

Today, Blizzard announced that they would essentially be bribing tanks and healers to queue up for random, heroic dungeons in the 4.1 patch, by rewarding the least-represented role with special rewards, which may include rare mounts and rare non-combat pets.

(I won’t even talk about how one of those rare mounts is the Baron’s mount out of Stratholme. That’s someone else’s QQ fodder, but I can imagine people are going to be pissed if they’ve done 500 runs over the years and not gotten one, but some random tank gets it for running heroic Vortex Pinnacle.)

Tanks and, to a lesser extent, healers, are the least-represented roles when queuing up for a random heroic dungeon at 85. You can tell because DPS has the longest queue (30+ minutes for me on my hunter, typically), healers have a much shorter queue (about 8 minutes) and tanks have a damn near instant queue.

In a dungeon group, you have 20% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 60% of the group that’s DPS, right? 1 and 1 and 3 makes 5.

In a 10-man raid group, you generally have 30% of the group that heals, 20% of the group that tanks and 50% of the group that does damage. (This can also be 20/20/60, so your mileage may vary.)

So far, that all seems pretty logical, right? The dungeon group percentages mostly match up to the raid group percentages.

Then we have 25-man raids. In a 25-man raid group, you drop from 20% of the group being comprised of tanks to, in most situations, 2 people tanking. That’s 8%. On some occasions, you get 3 tanks, that’s 12%. It is a lot less than the 20% in your standard random groups. You also generally go up from 20% healers to around 25% healers (6 or 7, up from 5, one per group.).

My hypothesis: Tanks are in high demand in dungeon situations because there are not enough tanks needed in raid situations.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for 5 tanks, 5 healers and 15 DPS for every encounter. Or even ANY encounter. But my theory is that there are more healers than tanks and more DPS than healers because there are more spots required of DPS and healers than there are of tanks. Yes, having death knights be able to tank since last expansion has added to the number of possible tanks. Yes, more raid groups (thanks to the legitimacy of 10-man raiding in Cataclysm) will mean more geared and skilled tanks who are available.

However, what will bribing tanks (and, to a lesser extent, healers) into solo-queuing do to the random dungeon finder system?

Fox Van Allen tweeted: “you’ll wind up seeing a lot more bad, unready tanks,” although he rather likes the idea apart from that.

I tend to agree — tanks are going to be awful. This isn’t going to convince the good/experienced/geared tanks to go out and start pugging. Since they don’t need much out of heroics (once they farm ZG and ZA with mostly guild groups, at any rate), the only added incentive is this “Call to Arms” reward. Why do your daily random (or seven weekly randoms) with not one but four puggers if you can easily do it with at least a partial guild group?

I don’t think the experienced, good tanks will do this very often.

What I think this will do more of is convince that idiot ret paladin to choose prot as his dual spec and fail miserably. Or convince the moonkin that he doesn’t need ALL feral gear to use in a bear spec; after all, who’s going to actually take the time to inspect the bear?

I did a lot of daily dungeons runs in Wrath on a lot of different toons. I did them on my pally as a tank and a healer, I did them on my druid as a tank and a healer, I did them on my mage and hunter as a DPS and I did them on my priest and shaman as a healer.

Oh, the failure I saw, the lack of knowledge I witnessed, the common sense that I realized was not remotely common at all. I KNOW I’ve blogged about these experiences on this very blog before.

Oh, look. April 9th, 2010, “Yet another fail ‘tank'”.

April 6th, 2010, “OMG.”

There are more, but I digress yet again.

I have no reason to believe that Cataclysm random heroics are any different from Wrath random heroics except that they’re longer and more difficult to begin with than the Wrath ones were. Thus, based on my WotLK dungeon finder experiences, I do not foresee a lot of experienced tanks solo-queuing to get these rewards; I see a lot of DPS posing as tanks who solo-queue for the rewards, without any kind of real understanding of how the encounters work.

That’s going to translate into more groups being formed, yes — but will they be more successful? I’m sure some will be, but I would imagine that the success rate will drop, overall, at least after the initial ZA/ZG farm fest.

I really believe that the key to alleviating the dreaded DPS queue problem is to make tanks more needed at the higher levels of content. More demand for tanks should lead to more tanks being rolled, no? That said, I don’t have a good idea as to how to make tanks more needed without requiring 5 tanks on all 25-man raid encounters. I just don’t think this is the way to go about fixing the queue problem. I am actually afraid to see those DPSers in “tank” specs who will probably spec 41 points in their tanking tree and still miss out on six crucial points…

Time will tell, I suppose!

A Tale of a Heroic PUG

I’ve done quite a few heroics lately, as I expect most of us have. I could tell you about my healing in heroic Halls of Origination, on the Setesh fight that lasted almost 7 minutes because we pulled by mistake when still fighting trash. (Hymn of Hope + even a feral innervate + tranquility + every effing cooldown in the book = win, apparently)

I could tell you about how I “healed” (I use the term loosely, because we died an AWFUL lot) heroic Stonecore yesterday. But I won’t. What I’ll say about that run here is what I tweeted yesterday about Ozruk, which should help out holy paladins everywhere:

I don’t know if this is a hotfix or something, but I found that I got the melee bleed debuff when I’d appropriately judge when he had his Elementium Bulwark up.

When Ozruk says “Break yourselves upon my body. Feel the strength of the earth!” judge at “Feel”. This will give you the bleed debuff for four seconds and you’ll break yourself out of Paralyze.

This was while using Seal of Insight, FYI, and I was at range the whole fight. I knew I wouldn’t survive the shatters if I was in melee range, so I came prepared with Sulfuron Slammers (again, drink them at “Feel”!) which also worked. Bubble works, Every Man works and Hand of Sacrifice (you can cast it on the tank at any point during the “Break yourselves” emote, I believe). But then I noticed I had the bleed debuff and realized it was my judgement that had caused it. So go forth, paladins, and heal Ozruk knowing you can get out of Paralyze very easily with just a bit of timing. :)

Having said all that, I will not regale you with my tales of heroic SFK (two Godfrey kills, no legs yet) or heroic Deadmines (Ripsnarl isn’t really that bad, though).

What I will say is that I did most of H Deadmines in a guild run yesterday as my holy pally and then swapped out to my hunter for the last boss (allowing one of our healers to actually heal the last fight instead of OS DPS) so I could snag the Chaos Orb for the crafting of a guildie’s gear.

I probably should have just stayed in on the paladin because then I would have gotten another 100+ Justice Points. And then would have had enough for my helm, the Crown of the Blazing Sun.

I logged back on to Madrana to see… 2143. 57 points shy of my damn helm.

Crap.

ALL of my heroic runs to date have been with the guild. I don’t know if it’s because I’m the GM or because I’m a healer or because my hunter can actually CC or what, but I’ve never had an issue finding a group in-guild. This is opposed to most of my guildies who complain constantly about the fail pugs/dungeon finder groups they’re in.

So I decided I’d go try a heroic random, all by myself.

Blackrock Caverns. Which I haven’t done on heroic.

Thankfully, at least to my eyes, I get a group of four people all from the same guild on the Akama server. I figure this should be less painful than most, even if the tank hasn’t done this on heroic before.

They’re really good at pulling the trash around the first boss, there’s great use of CC (sheep and sap and repentence) and things are going great.

We pull the first boss properly, after clearing most of the trash and the first thing I realize is the boss occasionally puts on a 25% reduced healing debuff on the tank. Peachy.

Then I realize that Quake spawns adds. Peachy.

All of this is handled okay, we kill the adds easily and then get chained.

We break the chains. I pop Holy Radiance to GTFO… and three people, including the tank, die to the thing the boss casts after he chains you. Sigh.

So I’m like “gotta run out of that, guys. :)” and the tank was like “lol I usually stay in on regular guess I can’t here!” I’m fine with that, no worries.

We go back in and take down the boss properly, now that we’re all aware that there are these crazy-ass adds and that we have to run out, etc. Goes fine.

Everything goes beautifully until Corla, the second boss.

Now, on beta, she had three adds. The way we did it on beta was have people rotating in two beams to prevent those zealots from evolving and just let one of them evolve at a time. But the version I tested didn’t have Corla fearing, nor did things hit quite as hard as they were hitting on live.

The Evolved Twilight Zealots, if you were unaware, have an ability called Gravity Strike and, in conjunction with Grievous Whirl and Shadow Strike, all of this will totally destroy the tank. It was actually a bit hairy to heal them separately in the trash leading up to Corla. So my group was basically planning to ignore the beams, evolve all three adds and I’m like, “I can’t heal that.”

“I’ll interrupt the strike,” said the rogue.

“That’s not the issue,” I said and linked them Gravity Strike.

“oh wow that sucks,” one of them says.

So I tell them I’m going to handle the stacks on the right-most add, which I marked with a circle. The mage says he’ll take the left-most add. The ret pally says he’ll do the middle one.

About thirty seconds into the encounter, the mage’s target evolves.

We wipe, despite a heroic effort by yours truly. The tank also popped his CDs appropriately, using Shield Wall and Last Stand. But the damage was just overwhelming.

Mage apologizes, we give it another shot.

This time, the mage himself evolves. He didn’t watch his debuff and got stacked to 100.

Wipe.

Mage apologizes again. They now inform me that they’re all on their vent and that they’ve got it all worked out.

So we go again. This time, the ret paladin’s target evolves. Apparently, there had been some confusion and he thought the rogue was going to get that target.

Apologies once more.

At this point, I’m like… I have my Justice Points. I literally only came in with the hopes of doing one boss to get the points that I need.

Then they suggest they let the zealots evolve in a controlled fashion. Bear in mind that I’ve had ZERO issues controlling my stacks and the stacks of my zealot in these three attempts, even when things went to hell.

Based on my mana and such on the previous attempts, I reiterate that there is no way I can heal through a zealot up along with the boss at this point, but that if they want to boot me and replace me with another healer, I’d completely understand, since it’s a guild run, basically.

They were like “no, no, that’s okay,” so we tried it again. And promptly died when the mage transformed because he, again, wasn’t watching his debuff and stepped in too soon, refreshing his stacks.

So at this point, it was clear to me that we weren’t going to get the encounter down. I had wiped five times with these people. Throughout it all, I’d been patient and calm. I’d been clear about how to go about doing the encounter. I had used buff food after every wipe.

On the run back to the instance, I basically said, “I think I’m going to take off, guys. Thanks for the run and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of the instance. Take care.”

And I dropped group, grabbed my body, then ran out, got my new helm and that’s all she wrote.

I feel badly about leaving. I feel badly about not being able to heal through an evolved zealot. But I’d gotten what I wanted and I gave it a really good try, educating the group about the evolved zealot’s abilities, giving them the opportunity to replace me to try their strat and basically being very patient with them.

I still feel badly, though. Shouldn’t I be able to heal through an evolved zealot? Maybe, maybe not. I mean, the issue isn’t that I can’t heal through one for 30 seconds, but I can’t continually heal through one up during the entire encounter. 85k mana goes FAST if you’re casting Divine Light and the occasional Flash of Light all the while praying Eternal Glory procs more often. Even with my Big Angry Man out (Guardian of Ancient Kings), I can’t maintain that kind of healing. Not even with a variety of both my cooldowns and the tank’s.

My paladin was always my alt. I’d be pulled into raids if we needed healers, back in Vanilla, but my main was always Kurn. As such, since then, I’ve always been lacking a bit of confidence. “This is my alt,” I used to think, “I have no business healing Molten Core!!”

Obviously, healing through Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King has alleviated the confidence problem. I had no problems being the strongest single-target healer in WotLK ICC25HMs. I had no problems shouldering the responsibility of healing two tanks at once or being the primary reason Valithria Dreamwalker got healed to full.

When I came back to Eldre’Thalas, I knew I was one of the most geared and experienced people in Apotheosis and so I was fine with taking a lot of responsibility on myself in our little excursions to ICC.

So it’s a little humbling to sit there in a heroic 5-man and be like “Yeah, I can’t heal through that.”

Should I be able to? I mean, assuming that the fears and Shadow Strikes are interrupted properly, assuming good cooldown usage by the tank, should I be able to heal through the Corla encounter with a single evolved zealot up at all times? If so, why can’t I? Is it gear? Spell selection? Oh, God, is it really because I’m just not good enough of a healer?

One half-hour spent working on Corla and all my WotLK confidence has flown out the window.

MMOMeltingPot linked to a great post about how healers have no instant gratification from casting a heal and seeing it actually DO something. The poster says “Random dungeons are a front for blamestorms and negativity that make folks discontent, and it’s a bit worse than I expected, but that is just one element in the shitstorm.”

While I wasn’t blamed by my group (they seemed to mostly understand that Gravity Strike is a Bad Thing), I came away from my pug feeling very negative and discontent and, worse, blaming myself. Questioning myself.

So I ask you, my fellow paladins, my fellow healers, my fellow dungeon-runners…

How have YOU done the heroic Corla encounter in Blackrock Caverns? And what kind of a healer did you have?

Welcome to the Deadmines (& the Stonecore)

So, on Thursday, Majik and I were doing a random regular dungeon. It was the Lost City of Tol’vir. And we had a druid tank who not only pulled with Growl but was pretty bad at tanking, period. In fact, it was so comical that I likened our bear to Ctrl-Alt-Del’s Fail Druid.

Maj and I were in Mumble chuckling and complaining about it with some other guildies and somehow, the suggestion to start live streaming it came up.

We didn’t get it working in time for Lost City, but Majik did end up getting it to work for our next run, which was a random heroic. The group consisted of me healing and Fog tanking with Majik, Piggly and Srs (mage, warlock, shadow priest) DPSing.

And the instance was the Deadmines.

I should note, at this point, that throughout the entire run, all I could really hear in my head was the song from the Welcome to the Deadmines video, which one of my old guildies helped out with (he voiced a few characters in the video).

I should also note that I had attempted to run Deadmines once on beta and, uh, that’s about it.

So we were live streaming and it was kind of hilarious. I tweeted it out a couple of times and we topped out around 9 viewers (of course, four or five of those were guildies) but I did see Lodur of World of Matticus pop in and Velidra was there watching/listening from work, too.

At one point, Velidra tweeted:

>_> @kurnmogh’s group are aoeing down H DM’s… is it evil that I’m waiting for them to all die horribly?

All in good fun, of course! :)

The run was surprisingly smooth apart from a pull right after the first boss. We had a lot of fun with the idea that people were actually, you know, watching the run. Hope you guys enjoyed it. :)

Speaking of watching the run, you can watch it here:

http://livestre.am/wyyn

The actual run doesn’t start until the 13m mark or thereabouts. Please note there is some measure of profanity and much mocking, so you might not want to, you know, watch it at work or whatever.

All in all, I had a good time with the guildies and, apart from a couple of hairy “OMFG LAY ON HANDS” moments, it wasn’t too bad. I really credit the great explanations by Piggly, pro CC by all the DPS and my brother’s awesome use of every cooldown when appropriate. They made it super easy for me to heal, all things considered.

I’m not quite as despondent as I was after SFK attempts on Wednesday, that’s for sure. I’m really, really looking forward to raids where I will not be the only one responsible for keeping up the entire group, though.

Anyways, later on, Fog and O (who was feeling similarly awful about healing) were looking for more DPS for a random heroic. They had Piggly and Mabriam, a mage, and I was like… well… there’s always Kurn.

Trouble is, Kurn was at 325 ilvl. So I borrowed a few BOE blues from the guild bank and just held them in my bags until I hit 329 and we queued up. I warned them all that I was fail DPS, but hey, I could trap! And interrupt!

So we queued. And got heroic Stonecore.

I think O nearly had a panic attack, since the first boss had almost reduced her to tears the other night.

The first pulls, which are always really messy, went beautifully. Camouflage and Trap Launcher are FANTASTIC, by the way, and I revelled in the fact that my trap duration is a minute, now. A MINUTE. After years of trapping things for 20ish seconds, I was basically elated to realize this the other week. A minute!!! Of course, my trap timing is ALL off now, because after about 15 seconds, I start going “shoot, need to re-trap, OH WAIT”.

We had a couple of wipes in general, but we one-shotted the first boss, who is SO challenging, and we one-shotted the third boss.

Hunters are effed on that fight. Neither Serpent Sting nor Immolation/Explosive Traps work to reflect damage back to you. Nor can you out-range the paralyze, at least not that I’ve seen. Deterrence doesn’t seem to do anything, either. I think that what we have to do is actually melee the boss to get the bleed and Disengage out. Horrifying.

The last boss wasn’t too bad, despite a couple of wipes due to huge boulders one-shotting people (*coughFogcough*) but overall, a good experience and thanks to Mabs being awesome, I got a Chaos Orb, which will go towards a guildie’s chestpiece or belt.

Had I known that Chaos Orbs were going to be BOP, I wouldn’t have made myself the go-to LW person, that’s for damn sure.

Anyways. It was a productive evening — picked up my JP shield on Madrana, picked up the Chaos Orb for my guildie and then fell asleep pretty early. If this sleep schedule keeps up, I’ll be on normal hours most of next week, which is key, because most of my out-of-town friends are going to be back in town.

Oh, Blizzard. Why a new expansion right during the holiday season?

Well, I Don't Feel Very Heroic…

So I dinged Madrana to 85 early on Wednesday morning. I have effectively lapped several of my guildmates in that they’re still 83-84. This is hilarious to me. And I’m also done levelling anything for a while, yet.

Anyways, with just a couple of pieces, including the Gloves of Curious Conscience from the Justice Point vendor, I found myself at the 329 ilvl threshold for heroic dungeons, even with two pieces of Wrath gear. I’m still wearing heroic Corrupted Silverplate Leggings, which are ilvl 264, and the heroic Rot-Resistant Breastplate, which is ilvl 277.

Tip of the day: You cannot reforge resilience.

I got myself an Ornate Pyrium Belt for 91 gold to replace my Lich Killer’s Lanyard, since the intellect boost is just such a blowout, even taking 3 gem slots into consideration. I figured I could reforge the resilience into haste or spirit, but alas. So I reforged 56 crit into 56 haste.

I picked up Diamant’s Ring of Temperance from Therazane, with whom I am revered.

Of course, during the day, most people have these things called “jobs”, so I decided not to go on any heroics until my brother, Fog (a very nicely decked out tank), got home. Instead, I ran a couple of regulars. I got Vortex Pinnacle, Halls of Origination… Picked up Band of Life Energy out of regular HoO.

So when Fog got home and Majik got in, we took about 15 minutes to boost Majik’s item level substantially. He maaaaaay have 420 resilience in his new gear… But it got him to 329. I am not amused at the fact that so much of the blue gear crafters can make is PVP gear, and even then, in many cases, you have to pay out the nose in resources (leather, bars of metal, cloth bolts) in order to just get the patterns.

But anyways.

So Majik and Sephden (Maj’s brother), Fog and me and our friend Tia queued up for a random heroic.

Heroic Shadowfang Keep.

Horrifying.

My experience with SFK is pretty much on the exceedingly slim side. Like, I think I’d done it four times, total, in the preceeding five years.

So we get to Baron Ashbury.

Whose BRIGHT idea was it to have a mob who brings everyone down to ONE HEALTH in this new healing regime?

Having said that, I’m sure we were doing the encounter wrong and interrupting the wrong spell. We didn’t let Stay of Execution tick much, if at all and we definitely missed out on interrupting Mend Rotting Flesh. Naturally, seeing my ENTIRE PARTY WITH NO HEALTH led to panic on my part.

My advice is to let Stay of Execution tick 1-2 times just to make sure no one gets one-shotted, then interrupt it and DPS him down. If you have a Mortal Strike ability (we had Widow Venom), use it — not sure if it works, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Anyways, just as we thought we might be getting the hang of it (well, the rest of the group thought so. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry.), Tia had to go since she had to work.

We then pulled in a shadow priest guildie to replace her and since we weren’t sure if he’d get the 70 Valor Points if he just zoned in and we cleared SFK, we elected to requeue for another random.

Total time spent in SFK: Close to an hour

Total JP/VP earned: 0

On the bright side of things (there’s a bright side?) I discovered that I can last an inordinate amount of time with under 10k mana, if I’m playing well. Do not underestimate the importance of the following combination:

1 Holy Shock on the tank -> 1 Holy Power Light of Dawn on the group

When you literally do not have enough mana to cast anything else, this is godly. Holy Light would have had consideration in Holy Shock’s spot, except that it no longer generates Holy Power, so it was HS to generate Holy Power. I also could have used Crusader Strike, except that, due to our positioning, it would have been difficult for me to get the whole group (including Sephden, the hunter) in line for Light of Dawn hits. So I was standing on the stairs, basically, with the entire party in front of me and willing my cooldowns to finish faster.

I used Divine Plea with Divine Focus to offset it (I know, this is Wrath-era thinking, but if you’re oom, you’re oom), I used my Dream Owl Figurine to boost my spirit, I used my “big angry man”, as I call him, but most paladins know him as the Guardian of Ancient Kings. I even blew Lay on Hands JUST for the mana return since I’ve got Glyph of Divinity.

Obviously, this attempt (which lasted close to five minutes, since I could ALMOST use my bubble again) went horribly awry and I shouldn’t have been so completely out of mana. But it was really interesting to see how long I could keep everyone at basically just enough health to live. Things went from bad to worse when I didn’t have enough mana to cleanse the Pain and Suffering off, but it was astounding to realize that I’d healed for close to three minutes without having more than 10k mana at any given time. (Note to self: make up a bunch of the new mana potions.)

Anyways. We requeued with the shadow priest and got Vortex Pinnacle.

I’ve basically been running this place for the last five days on normal. It’s actually old hat to me now on both my hunter and my paladin. Heroic? Not quite so much. I was pleased that we were making good use of CC. The thing that pissed me off the most was that my brother and Sephden were being all covert about something and wouldn’t effing tell me what was going on. “Just let it be a surprise,” they said. I don’t know about YOU, but when I’m in a heroic run for the very first time, and I’m the healer, the LAST THING I WANT is a damn surprise!

It was for a stupid achievement. Extra Credit Bonus Stage. Woo-freakin’-hoo.

Anyways, the first boss, High Vizier Ertan, is basically the same on heroic, except that I think the tornadoes slow your cast speed now. (Did they before?) So we ran out and I had a hell of a time trying to get everyone to stack up on me for Holy Radiance (which I popped each time we ran out). Fine, you don’t want my heals, you can die. :P

You also get a Lurking Tempest who’ll show up sometime during the fight. Just look at him to scare him away like you do with the others.

The second boss, Altairus, is also very similar to the normal mode of the fight… except you get FREAKING TORNADOES EVERYWHERE.

And the last boss, Asaad, is the same except he now does this Static Cling cast. It roots you to the ground and is a magic debuff, so it can be dispelled. Not a big deal. There’s an achievement if you manage not to get the debuff at all during the fight and that’s doable by virtue of jumping at the right instant while he’s casting it. I didn’t care to jump like a moron when I’m supposed to be casting, although I tried it once and avoided the debuff. Hooray.

So we finished the heroic and I promptly logged off to go have dinner and watch the hockey game.

I was drained. I didn’t even log back in until much later (I may or may not have fallen asleep while watching my Montreal Canadiens lose 5-3 against the Philadelphia Flyers. >.>) and I have pretty much zero desire to do another heroic anytime soon. Not because it’s HARD, though it’s challenging, but because it’s challenging in a way that saps me of my energy and desire to perform this role.

Throughout our attempts on Baron Ashbury, I kept thinking to myself, “You knowww… Focus really isn’t THAT bad. And is it really a bad thing to bring a useful pet to a raid? And you DO have an awful lot of healers…”

It’s ridiculous, I know, and it’s more of a function of gear and what my party is or is not doing than it is of my healing ability. That said, it’s very hard to go from being one of the best-geared and most-experienced players in the guild who could literally save the entire encounter if needed, to what I am now — a moderately undergeared healer who feels as though she has no real control over whether or not her group lives or dies.

I know that I’ll feel better in a week or in a couple of days or even tomorrow. But my first encounters with heroic dungeons are reminding me way too much of the insanity that was the Kael fight in heroic Magister’s Terrace.

Players are now extremely responsible for themselves and their lives. The mechanics out there are really deadly. Maybe in two tiers, we’ll be able to faceroll through this stuff with any old pug, but I can’t save you if you stand in the lightning in Vortex Pinnacle. I can’t save you if you pull aggro and Blessing of Protection is on cooldown. It’s like I see all this stuff happening that I just can’t stop and it’s one of the more frustrating parts of being a healer. The thing is, I’m sure it’s frustrating for a good tank, too. And I’m sure it’s frustrating for a good DPS, too.

What they’re doing it trying to bring people back towards being team or group-oriented. Which is awesome.

But everyone who played through Wrath of the Lich King picked up some awful habits and, in my case, some attitudes that are now out of date, and we now need to be broken of them. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but there’s nothing to be done except work through it and adjust. All the wishing in the world won’t bring us back to pre-Wrath so that we can skip two years of sloppy runs and bad habits.

Despite my knowing that it’s a necessity, it doesn’t make the process any easier.

Feh.

The New Adventures of Old Azeroth

I don’t know how he does it, but my brother is responsible for the fact that I have so many alts. And on Thursday, I rolled another.

My mage is hanging out on Skywall with Choice because they’re awesome. Similarly, my druid is over on another server with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. My hunter, paladin, shaman and priest are all on Eldre’Thalas, guilded in Apotheosis.

My brother, Majik and our friend Tia were all in their early 20s on some alts earlier this week. Fog’s levelling a warrior, Tia’s levelling a pally and Majik is also levelling a pally tank, as he mentioned on the first episode of Blessing of Frost, our brand-new WoW podcast.

They were all at about the same level and were encouraging me to roll something and “GTF” to my 20s so we could all instance together.

I thought about it. A lot. I didn’t want to be a rogue. A death knight moved me out of their level range, obviously. I also didn’t want to be a DK. ;) I didn’t want to be a warlock, either. I then thought about my mage. I really like my mage. I haven’t gotten to play her much at all during Wrath, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like her.

So I decided I’d level another mage on ET.

But what race? There’s human, the old standby. And gnome, but, uh, no thanks. Then there’s the new combinations of dwarf and night elf. Dwarf was very tempting, since I love the male dwarf casting animations and I love their emotes… but I just race changed my shaman to a male dwarf. Which left night elf? Ugh. I HATE the night elf casting animations. Like, so much. I hate when I have to rez my pet or hearth on Kurn. Makes me cringe.

So I stuck with human. I know. I’m boring. But I’ve found that when in doubt, 10% extra rep is never a bad thing. I’d also get to go through the human quests again (probably the quests I’m most familiar with) and really get a good idea of how things have changed.

So my new mage was born and was promptly given the Tattered Dreadmist Mantle, the Tattered Dreadmist Robe, the Discerning Eye of the Beast and, best of all, the Dread Pirate Ring. Hello, 25% extra experience. How are you this fine day?

Well, I rolled her on Thursday and when I went to bed on Friday, she was 28.

I’ve done:

– the vast majority of Elwynn (LOVE the Hogger change! ADORE flight points everywhere!)

– just about all of Westfall (OMG, Hope! Loved the return of Gryan!)

– all of Redridge (and while it was a little long, it was FAR less tedious than the old quests. And yay for the bridge!!)

– 1 Stocks run, 1 Deadmines run, 2 Blackfathom Deeps runs, 1 SFK run and a few minutes of a Gnomer run — I really dig most of the changes (BFD seems mostly unchanged to me, but I never did run that place much) and the Deadmines was fun because I’ve done the heroic version on beta and it was nice to see it at level. SFK seemed okay. A little faster than previously.

So the mage is having fun.

On Tuesday night, I was exploring the new world a bit on Kurn and went to Strat Undead.

So different! I mean, most things are the same — I recognized a lot of my same, old pulls and even Stonespine is there! — but the chapel’s being rebuilt and Aurius, our friend the paladin to whom you give the Medallion of Faith, is no longer there.

You also no longer need a key.

The bosses are the same, for the most part. Just lower level. And while they don’t seem to drop T0 gear any longer, there are some familiar drops, such as the Chitinous Plate Legguards. There’s also no more 45m run/debuff given to you when you open the gate to the gauntlet. RIP, 45m Baron run.

I also think there are fewer aboms to kill outside of the Slaughterhouse.

Anyways, I hadn’t spoiled myself or done any research about Strat. Spoilers ahead!

The Baron’s gone. In his place is Lord Aurius Rivendare. Without a doubt, this is that same paladin who would come to our aid after giving him the Medallion of Faith. I didn’t even realize it until after I killed him. I suspect I’ll have to quest around EPL to find out what happened to the Baron and why Aurius is now the Lord of Stratholme.

The good news in all this is that I got Rivendare’s Charger.

The funny thing is that I haven’t even tried for it. Sure, I’ve probably killed Baron about 150 times, all told. Probably more, really, when you count Madrana’s kills. I’ve never even seen it drop. I’m certainly not someone who went farming for it daily or even weekly and probably not even monthly. I just lucked out. :)

Thus far: Baron Rivendare – 200+, Kurn – 0. But Aurius Rivendare – 0, Kurn – 1. Heh. I like that record. :)

A Requiem for Zul'Gurub

On October 9th, 2005, I started my subscription to World of Warcraft. That’s when I created Kurnmogh, my night elf hunter.

What many people don’t know is why I started playing. I was never a fan of the Warcraft real-time strategy games. I’d played some Diablo and Diablo II, but never really spent a lot of time with either of those games. I was not one of those target people who already knew about Arthas and Jaina and Illidan and Tyrande and Malfurion. Everything was completely new to me.

So why did I start?

Zul’Gurub is why I started playing this game nearly five years ago.

Actually, it was the “Corrupted Blood” incident that happened in September of 2005 that got me started playing.

You see, I read this article about it and, being someone who’s always liked the fantasy genre along with being a sociology student, I thought this was absolutely fascinating. People deliberately diseasing each other? Killing each other? Even though the behaviour was all within a game setting, I was completely fascinated at the idea of people deliberately infecting others with this plague-like thing. (As an aside, I was THRILLED at the launch of 3.0 because of the zombie plague. It was the ZG plague all over again, but deliberately built into the game and I got to experience it firsthand! My inner sociology nerd had a blast.)

So I first started playing this game due to Zul’Gurub and a buggy game mechanic.

It was only on April 1st, 2006, that I first set foot in Zul’Gurub. Imagine my panic when I read the following words:

Your callous disregard for the sovereign might of the Gurubashi Empire has been noted. The inhabitants of Zul’Gurub has been alerted to your presence.

I could regale you readers with tales of defeat and victory against all the beasts in Zul’Gurub. I could tell you how Axe Throwers were chain-sheeped to deal with them at the time or how falling off the bridges were actual issues. I could tell you how, once, some of us ran the hell out of ZG from Jek’lik’s area when we called a wipe. Turns out that she resets, but bat riders don’t.

But I won’t.

Quite simply, what I want to tell you is that Zul’Gurub was my first real raid instance. My little guild actually cleared the instance fully, including Jin’do. We totally took the Jin’do kill in stride, too. Only a handful of guilds on the server had killed him and here were the lowly Fated Heroes, completely clearing ZG.

It took us a long time to get to that point. We went from three-hour nights on Venoxis (April 1, 2006) to 20-minute “Venoxis runs” on the reset we didn’t plan to fully use. (“Venoxis runs” were led by Majik, primarily so he could get his hands on the Fang of Venoxis so he could replace his Hypnotic Blade while still using his snazzy Tome of the Ice Lord.)

We went from 8/20 people being guildies to doing all-guild runs, with people on standby.

We were once robbed of our first-ever Jek’lik kill by virtue of PTR lag. Back in the days before battlegroups, Eldre’Thalas was on the same server as the PTR realms and this meant that, occasionally, while the PTRs were up, we would experience intense lag spikes. One such lag spike happened on our best-ever Jek’lik attempt, causing her not only to heal without being interrupted, but also causing her to then go forth and kill 80% of the raid. (Similarly, years later, we discovered that Vashj also does not lag.)

We killed Mar’li for the first time while I was on vacation in Italy. I had brought my laptop and nothing was going to stop me from raiding with my crew when we were making progress through ZG. (The raid lasted from about 2am Italy time until about 5am. And then I went and did touristy things after 3 hours of sleep. But Mar’li had died, so it was TOTALLY worth it!)

Arlokk never dropped Will of Arlokk for my brother, Fog, but did give it up to Crypt, our priest officer and healing lead. She also dropped Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick, snagged by Egop, one of our healing paladins (and later, I snagged this on Madrana). It’s great because it looks like we can dual wield. :D

Thekal’s timing was initially tricky, but we mastered burning the three of them down together, thanks to awesome interrupts by people like Kut (who usually ended up dead on the floor somewhere, but that’s his gift to us!) or Football (who is, and let’s face it, awesomesauce). With the heals not a worry, it was like burning down Core Hound packs in MC, at which we were becoming quite adept.

Mandokir was my favourite fight for a while, if only because we once saw him gain so many levels from all the deaths of the players that not only did Mandokir start yelling “DING!” whenever one of us died, but at one point, Jin’do yelled out “Grats!”.

Obviously, he’d gained too many levels for us to finish him off and we called for a wipe, amid a collection of giggles and laughter.

Gahz’ranka, also known as the fish boss, was entirely dependent on Toga, the only one crazy enough at the time to have levelled fishing. He was also a night elf hunter so one night he and I went to scout out Pagle’s Pointe with some creative feigning and shadowmelding. We even crept up to Jin’do’s area using these methods and took great pleasure in sneaking around Zul’Gurub. We saw a couple of Tome of Polymorph: Turtles. I remember some drama around that — mains vs. alts and the like — but all that really matters is that Majik got his and has shunned every other form of Polymorph since. In fact, I would imagine that he will instruct all mages to acquire this tome so that they will all turtle things in Cataclysm, rather than “sheep” things.

When we finally faced Hakkar, I was more excited about it just because he was considered the “end boss” of Zul’Gurub and my little guild was on the brink of killing him. It only dawned on me later that the Corrupted Blood we all had to acquire in order to kill Hakkar was the same thing that had made me decide to pick up the game. When we got him down, I felt accomplished and felt a bit of a thrill, knowing that I had experienced the mechanic that had brought me to the game in the first place.

Zul’Gurub was the site of many, many, MANY wipes and quite a few victories. It was the place with the bugged out fish. It was a place with two mounts that we never, ever saw. It was even the spot where my brother, who had left the guild shortly after I joined, came back to us and the place where he showed off his new tree form as Fated Heroes’ very first Tree of Life.

When I learned that Zul’Gurub was being removed for Cataclysm, I went back there on my hunter. I got exalted with the Zandalar, from about midway through revered. I fished up a new Tome of Polymorph: Turtle. I farmed Mandokir and Thekal for mounts a few times (still no luck!), finally tamed a tiger cub like I’d been meaning to do for years and then, together, four years after we had first done it by each other’s side, my brother and I killed Hakkar and got the achievement for Zul’Gurub.

Being exalted and having the achievement for ZG doesn’t make it any less sad that this raid instance is being removed. It doesn’t even really make me feel all that much better about it. What it did do, however, was let me say goodbye to an instance that, even all these years later, is still as familiar to me as Stratholme is, or Dire Maul, or Blackrock Depths.

Without ZG, I might never have picked up this game and met some truly amazing people. I certainly wouldn’t have had all the experiences I’ve had over the last five years if not for that instance and its buggy Corrupted Blood. So here’s to you, Zul’Gurub, and your inhabitants. I will miss callously disregarding your sovereign might.

Weekend Update

(without Kevin Nealon, Norm MacDonald, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler or Seth Meyers or anyone else who ever hosted SNL’S Weekend Update)

The update is this: I have done nothing on my paladin this weekend. I have been being a GM over on Eldre’Thalas. Trying to organize the ranks all pretty-like, trying to make sure all the toons are at appropriate ranks… It doesn’t help that apparently each character’s authenticator timer only starts when they log in for the first time since 4.0.1, since I wanted to get my guild bank officer (my brother — since I can track him down and beat him if he screws us over) to the proper rank, but his bank toon hadn’t logged in until Friday or so. So I have yet to implement the authenticator requirement for any ranks, which is annoying.

I helped a guildie get Incendius and the BRD key last night before finally doing the Moira Bronzebeard quest/Emperor run in BRD last night with Football. I did it for the achievement (hi, I killed the Emperor at level 58, thanks) and the quests and for nostalgia. I really do love Blackrock Depths. I just know it so damn well. Football and I also did a step in his Tier 0.5 questline, although it appears he’d already done that one before. I loved and hated that questline, culminating in the death of Lord Whatshisnuts (Valthalak).

Today, I did Sunken Temple and got lost. I didn’t remember I had to kill the six guys up top before killing dragons and then undeads and THEN the Shade of Eranikus. Go me. Eventually I got it done, though.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah. I’m pleased to announce the return of the Q&A posts, effective this coming Tuesday. You would not BELIEVE the amount of search engine hits I got after 4.0.1 launched…

And in the interest of pimping out some blogs:

Daritos’ Food for Thought – a long-time member of Apotheosis (and Fated Heroes before that!), Dar will be a first-time officer for Cataclysm and will be playing her resto shaman for us.

The Stories of O – Oestrus has been hanging out with the Apotheosis folks for a few weeks now on her holy priest. I was introduced to her blog via Codi’s and it’s been nice getting to know her, whether she decides to stick with us for Cataclysm or not. She’s also just started co-writing over at Divine Aegis again, so be sure to give that blog a peek for various healy-priest needs.

Things I still need to do:

– finish up responding to comments

– get my screenshot project finished

– finish a lawn dart video for my current guild

– write that requiem for Zul’Gurub

– clarify my feelings about hunters and hunter pets

All righty. Off to go do stuff “in real life” for the evening. :)