Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Bailed!

I bailed on a my first 5-man PUG of 3.3 last night. I had just finished tanking a guild Ulduar run and was itching for a little DPS before bed. I queued with another healer from the Ulduar run, she brought her hunter.

Two DPS takes a while to find a group. I queued for the first two new 5 mans since I am hoping for the hilt as well as some drops there. In the meantime I went to grab my underspore frond quick, I had never done that quest on my death knight. Probably with good reason as it is completely useless for a DK, but I wasn't thinking that hard at the time.

Just as I got to the tree for the quest the group was ready so I grabbed my quest item and zoned in. So deleting that item next time I see it.

Anywho we come in, say hi and the tank says it is his first time. Was also sporting a few regular instance blues, but no big he was sporting over 24k health (27k, 30k buffed to be exact). Seemed quite competent with the trash pulls if a little random in choice of direction.

Oh and we lost a healer right away before we even started. Another one joined in right away though and was crazy enough to stick it out. Tank and healer die on the first single trash mob.

It goes down though, I taunted it and tanked it in my DPS spec and gear. Then the other DK (I was on my DK as well) runs over and starts attacking the 2nd single trash mob we hadn't pulled yet. Dies pretty much immediately, what a tool.

So it is Semper Vi to the rescue; we don't run out, that would be cowardly or at the very least could be misconstrued as intelligent. I jump on that mob and tank it like DPS was mean to tank! With my natural blood healing abilities, a healing potion injector and Gift of the Naaru I live long enough for the two of us to get it down. Hmm we should go back and farm for that hilt, obviously healers and tanks are optional.

We continue around the left wall clearing trash to ick and eck or whatever their names are, which has always been the second boss for me, but we did it first. I died standing in things twice... the second time I called foul, but I probably wasn't paying attention close enough. Boss went down though.

We went on to the boulder hurling giant, find out our tank doesn't do adds and wiped. The overzealous death knight left at this point and we got a druid who stealthed in the usual way. They were a bit surprised when we didn't stop at ick and eck as we had already done it. Guess no one reads that 1 of 3 bosses down message when accepting a group.

We wiped twice more on that boss and then on the way in I asked if the tank had a DPS spec. He said, "No, but I have this other sword." That was it, he didn't even link a sword. I flipped to my tank spec and gear, no more add trouble. It had been over an hour and I wanted to get done more than I wanted to DPS.

We wiped... well the group did. I died to getting too much of the debuff and took the boss down another 20% before succumbing to the cold. The boss actually doesn't hit very hard at all and I could heal myself through it no problem. Which makes me wonder how bad a healer has to suck to not be able to keep themselves up, even if they let everyone else die.

I've had a pally healer there before though and I gave the same advice I'd given in the past, ignore the debuff and just heal. Worry about the debuff when the boss runs off to a forge. Must be good advice, we got it no problem.

The next few packs of trash up to the ice cave went relatively smooth, a little hiccup and two deaths on the first 5 pull, but after than no casualties. Was using a hunter freezing trap on one of the fire AOE guys and tanking the rest, killing the other fire guy first followed by the tall blue chick.

On to the undead, we froze on caster and killed the other first. I popped my antimagic shield and icebound fort at the start of each to eat that large burst on those pulls. That totally rapes my bear. Those pulls were almost as easy as that time I had two priest to shackle stuff.

On to the cave! The druid (who would rather die that heal themselves) asked if we were running straight to the middle. I said no we'd take it in steps since we had a pally healer. So I did, grabbed the first couple and waited for the pally to catch up. Went in a little more and let the pally catch up. Once more and stopped just shy of the middle, waited for the pally to finish a cast and move up and grabbed the big guy in the middle. I was just a little slow on blowing a cooldown and dropped.

In retrospect I should of dodged ice a while and waited for more stuff to die to reduce the amount of incoming damage, but geesh that was so healable. It was an hour and a half in and I let everyone know I was headed to bed. That last boss was not worth my time and I was one death away from actually loosing money that day. I take comfort in knowing I made money even if it is only a couple gold.

That would happen the day after I have a really great PUG. Hoping for better luck tonight; no plans, just PUGs!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Counter-intuitive: Queue What You Want To Do

I finished heroic Halls of Reflection for the first time yesterday night and it all started with a couple guildies an myself looking to run the Forge of Souls and Pit of Sauron.

I was on my druid and expecting to tank, but it turned out our healer was saved and forgot so he flipped to his tank and I was going to heal. We usually try to keep the healing and tanking roles withing the guild so we are guaranteed some base level of competency.

Of course our tank who usually prefers to queue as DPS didn't have tank checked when I queued and lucky us we had a group like two seconds later with a pally tank and a rogue that LFG picked out for us.

We plowed through the Forge of Souls my only complaint being that the one time I hung back to loot the tank ran off ahead to pull. I was having some bag issues and deciding what to pitch. Anywho a little cat dash and I was there to heal none the wiser.

Things went so well that we all agreed to go right on to the Pit of Sauron and again we charged through the place. Another loot related cat dash was my only concern, but it turned out fine. So obviously we unanimously decided to proceed to Halls of Reflection.

This is where I thought to myself, if we had gone with our original plan of keeping the tanking in the guild rather than PUG a tank by chance we probably would never of attempted Halls of Reflection.

Notably because our tank would of been saved and potentially flipped to heals instead of flipping from DPS to DPS. Keeping our tank tanking and me healing preserved that momentum we had from the previous two instances. We knew what to expect from each other and it all clicked.

It was a good thing I was healing two instances prior because I needed that warm up. I am a feral druid first and foremost and do pretty much all my healing on my shaman. Had I started cold turkey I doubt I would of done as well. Plus I had practice before that even healing Arathi Basin as a gnome for the holiday achievement (Blizzard hates feral druids by forcing them to heal for that particular achievement). Nothing gets you smacking healing buttons like a good bout of PVP.

So the end of Phase 5 and the first "mini" boss I get feared twice in a row, my hots fall off and boom the rogue and I die, but the boss goes down as he was at like 2%. Couple rezzes and we get through the first half of the instance without further incident.

We wiped once running away from Arthas due to melee placement, cleaves and abomination juices. Second time through was much smoother aside from the last group at the very end of the run. It was hairy (mostly due to casters in the back pelting me as I had healing aggro), but no one died. It was better I have a little healing aggro to heal through than for melee to get two shotted getting stuck in the wrong position. I can respect being a tank most the time that keeping aggro on casters who hang back while keeping ahead of Arthas is not an easy task.

We won and it was time for bed. Ironic that I had to heal though, I was looking forward to trying out my recently acquired four piece tier 9 bonus on my tanking set. The irony being that I unchecked tank earlier to run the heroic random. That PUGed tank turned out to be quite alright as well.

So the moral of the story is that it might be better to queue for the role you want to play rather than queue for the role that you think would be best for the group.

Jousting 3.3

It would appear the same mob AI change that has tanks running around like chickens with their heads cut off also affects tournament dailies. It is so annoying that I've sworn off jousting and just do the other dailies now.

For anyone who has not heard of the new behavior plaguing tanks, mobs will now run behind tanks if they move a teeny bit where as before they would stay in front of the tank (for the most part). I can think of a few mobs that would randomly move around side to side and occasionally make thier way behind the tank if the tank didn't compensate. The golems in HoL and HoS come to mind.

I have a theory on why that is after jousting a few times. You know how if you have a non-combat pet out it can sometimes seem to be running ahead of you and actually turn with you while still ahead. Seems like they are psychic or something.

Well I think the same thing is happening with mobs. Whatever coefficient that was making them just a bit slower than us has been decreased so that mob AI is just a little faster when it comes to keeping on our heels. Not to non-combat ESP levels yet, but certainly closer than before.

So how does this affect jousting? My old strategy was to circle my target staying just about shield breaker range so I could sneak out and toss a shield breaker and get back in before the enemy could do the same. Then when the mob backed off to charge I'd charge first and with any luck I'd have all the enemy's shields down already and take them down in a couple charges.

Now the enemy jouster follows so closely that getting off a shield breaker is more or less impossible. This leaves my primary attack to be melee attacks which don't remove shields and my charges do much less damage. To make matters worse I have to be charging as soon as I can where as before I'd have time to toss an extra shield breaker when needed. This faster enemy will charge faster and drop my shields before I even see them coming.

At first I thought I was just a little laggier than usual, but this is all happening at my usual ~150ms latency. It is just too similar to the tanking issue to be a coincidence anyway.

So what was once a mechanic based on a bit of skill and using abilities wisely has turned into a war of attrition of basic melee attacks with neither NPC or player often having fewer than three shields up.

The time needed to crank out the jousting dailies has gone up ten fold to the point where it just isn't worth my time. I've only really gotten into the tournament recently to make a little gold on the side. Jousting dailies are repetitive enough without the added frustration of not being able to use shield break.

So that leaves a few kill something dailies that I just take out in bear form in large groups. Repetitive, but quick. Kind of stupid that I can solo threat from above easier than the "easy" jousting daily, but that is the way it is. I am betting that jousting will become a group quest if this change remains in place while the group quest becomes more a solo quest with better gear.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rise of the PUG

The new dungeon system is pretty awesome. You queue up get ported right in, no more waiting a few minutes for the first two to fly from Dalaran to some dungeon in the middle of nowhere to summon. Should things go south or you forgot something you can port in and out of the instance to repair/resupply all by yourself on a whim.

I really wish I had figured that out before I ran out of Pit of Sauron, found myself back in Dalaran and then flew back. I knew I read about the easy in/out feature, but I didn't know how it worked and no one else did either. Didn't help that I had an add-on covering the button on the minimap.

As expected it is hard to find a tank and to a lesser extent a healer if you queue up with 3-4 people without one of those. My guess is like me tanks and healers queue with a friend or two and are just looking for one or two more. There are stag tanks and healers out there, you just might have to wait a while.

I know there are more tanks and healers in the queue, but like me I bet a lot of them uncheck those options to just go in and DPS. It's fun to have a change of pace after a tanking or healing for a while.

The quality of PUGs seems to be OK from what I have seen so far. For the most part the largest problem I see is knucklehead DPS that can't watch threat worth a damn. I keep telling healers to let them die if they make a habit of tanking. The second issue is people without a clue, especially in Oculus. Three of us got it as the random heroic and basically 3 manned it despite making an effort to explain the dragon mechanics.

Although the new system is faster, you can't "interview" your fill-ins ahead of time. In the old system I judged characters by their names as well as their responses when I asked if they would like to run any particular instance. You can weed out a lot of stupid that way.

I was never one to look at gear, but the new system does that for me supposedly. Seems to work in that I seem to get grouped with similarly geared people. That offsets the stupid filter a little, but still there are those decently geared folks that just don't have a clue.

The worst part of the new system is that it takes away from guild runs. People will run in groups of two and three with PUGs rather than take the time to organize 5 guildies, myself included. It isn't all bad since we run more and get to meet new people. Even if we don't like the new people it gives us something to talk about in the guild vent.

I had originally foreseen that the random heroic being repeatable would mean that when you asked in guild chat if anyone would want to run it that no one would be saved. The reality though is that they say they are in one right now and could do it after. So you end up PUGing and thus completes the vicious cycle.

Looking forward to trying the system out on some lower level alts in the next few days. Those groups have been historically really hard to get together.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Improvised Awesome

It has been a long time since I actually got to try new content with absolutely no background information or previous experience. It is by far what I enjoy most in the game. Testing my mettle against the unknown and coming up with tactics on the fly.

I was once told after someone had the opportunity of helping me out on a low level alt on their low level alt that they understood why I react so well when things go to hell, because that is how I usually play. I actually tone it down in groups for the benefit of others (not enough for some/most).

So right on patch day I grab my sister and her girlfriend and start looking for a couple more for the first of the three new 5-mans. We find a couple more guildies without much trouble and after ten minutes or so of bouncing off the instance entrance we get in.

We grab the quest, spread the buffs and start pulling. Immediately we notice that the big boney things spell reflect on occasion. Speaking of which there are few things more amusing than a mage two shotting themselves with lucky crits. Perhaps not to the mage, but everyone else gets a good chuckle.

Exploding skulls, healing adepts, shadows that hop around like etheral rabbits, oh a boss. I made the unusual suggestion to clear the extra bit of trash before the boss just in case since we had no clue what would happen or where we might have to move.

We start in on the boss and things are going well, a little spike damage to heal, but pretty intermittent. Then souls start getting ripped out of people and head for the boss. What does a tank do when there is something new floating around in the group, I tanked it! Boss heals to full after absorbing the soul. Hmm, that didn't work, another soul comes out, kill it! It didn't seem to be a threat so I didn't feel the need to tank it, but I did run over to help DPS it down faster thinking there was a time aspect. Nope, boss heals to full. Another soul, I run around in circles keeping the boss ahead of the trailing soul while everyone kills the soul, success! Few more repetitions and things change, we're in phase 2.

Seems DBM was already updated from the pointer and announced to run in (I hadn't updated any add-ons for 3.3). Made sense considering everyone in the swirling cloud away from the boss takes damage. There DBM goes ruining my fun, that is why I didn't even use it until WotLK. We burned down the boss and moved along.

Last boss was just a tank and spank, don't stand in stuff piece of cake. Turns out after trying that same boss the next day with a different group it isn't as always as easy as we were led to believe.

By this time we were into prime-time and after bouncing off the next instance for quite a while we called it for the evening and went off to do other things.

20 inches of snow overnight and the next day was declared a snow day! Got a time to do the other couple new 5-mans and try the new random heroic feature. Great stuff, the only drawback is the death of guild 5 mans as they were and the rebirth of the pug.

Edit: Oh and when we go for something new, we go all out. This was all on heroic, normal is for sissies. Turns out I am a sissy when it came to the last heroic, Halls of Reflection. Few tries with the waves on heroic we got to the 4th wave and then decided to flip to regular just to see it before our Wednesday raid.