/yeargh: How to Murder Massive Multitudes of Rapidly Respawning Pirates

As some of you may remember, I mentioned in a prior post that I was going to be raining havoc and death upon the Southsea pirates of Tanaris to build my Steamwheedle Cartel reputations up to exalted. At the time, I speculated I would need 14.5 hours of time grinding this rep to reach my goal, and so, I devised a simple, yet effective, method for attacking this hurdle in short, timed bursts – using my seals. As any paladin (or nearly any seasoned player, for that matter) could tell you, a paladin seal currently lasts for 30min. Since I need to have an active seal to use Judgement, I decided it would make my efforts easier to manage if I activated my seal when I was ready to start slaughtering helpless pirates and to continue until the seal had worn off. By limiting myself to these 30min sessions, I can easily make a commitment to do one per day, which will hopefully help stave off boredom while allowing me to slowly work my way towards having the four Goblin reps to exalted. Considering I’m now sitting on 12 hours remaining, this means that I have a maximum of 24 days (baring any unforeseen troubles) until the Goblins love me with their whole hearts (not sure if that’s good or not o.O).

Also, in an effort to make my sessions more effective, I respecced my second talent set to retribution. Now, thanks to Long Arm of the Law, I’m bustling over the sandy, blood stained dunes at a significantly faster pace than in my prot spec. And to top it all off, my Avenging Wrath is sanctified (that was a horrible joke, I know ^_^’), so I can gleefully throw hammers at my victims every 2min. The road to insanity is going to be fun, my friends =D

Magmaw no mo’

In another successful raid night, we downed Magmaw last night. We used the same setup that I described from last time: myself tanking the giant worm o’ death, Ang kiting the parasites, and everyone else grouped up on the other side of Magmaw. We used hero on the very first “exposed” phase, where Mag’s got his head stuck on the pike. For those paladin tanks who may be interested, I did some seal swapping at regular intervals during this fight (I minor glyphed both Truth and Insight, to help with mana).

I started the fight with Truth active, then after establishing a good aggro lead, swapped for Insight. While I can’t remember if I looked at recount or not after the fight, I do remember feeling like that was helping contribute to keeping my health up. Once I was pulled into his mouth (go go gadget chewtoy?), I switched back to Truth. Now, this portion of the encounter has some fun tank damage on it, but at that point, the tank has access to Magmaw’s head instead of his body, so by popping CDs reguarly, I was able to pump out some nice dps here. I kept Truth after being dropped, and after Mag freed himself (and I established another aggro lead) it was rinse repeat.

We went on to fight with the “Tron Council,” and we had mixed success. This was mainly due to us needing to replace DPS twice due to internet issues, meaning fresh folks (no one we brought in had done it before then) were being mixed in intermittently. We almost downed them at one point (I believe they got down to 4%), but I was single tanking by that point due to Ang dying, so we weren’t able to make it, ultimately. We’ll be continuing on Thursday again, so stay tuned! Well, as “tuned” as you can be to a blog o.O

I must be going… INSANE

As of yesterday, I’ve taken up my “official” new off-time hobby: working towards “the Insane” title. I had entertained this idea after Cata dropped, but I quickly dismissed it when I discovered how massively hard the Booty Bay Bruisers were to kill. Random rep grinds like this are something I do solo, and I don’t like to drag in additional folks to fuel my randomness. Needless to say, you must have a group with you to put any serious dent into gaining Honored with the Bloodsail Buccaneers (I did manage to solo a bruiser down, when I was testing how hard they were, but it took every last tanking cooldown, and it nearly killed me ^_^’).

However! I found out yesterday, that you no longer need Honored with the Bloodsail and the Steamwheedle Cartel at the same time, which is good news for me, since I’m an ex-pirate (I trashed my previous Revered rep with Bloodsail to regain the ability to quest with goblins, during my pursuit of the Loremaster title). What this meant now, as cheap as it felt to have it made somewhat easier than it was prior, achieving Insane in the Membrane became possible solo again, if I put in plenty of work. So now, I spend copious amounts of time slaughtering helpless Southsea pirates, slowly regaining my Steamwheedle reps (I estimated about 14.5 hours of necessary time, to make this happen). Once I’m done with the Goblins, I’ll have Darkmoon and Ravenholdt left, and since I have a fast flying herbalist, an inscriptionist high enough to make Rogues Decks, and a rogue who can effortlessly pickpocket LBRS/UBRS clean… I’m on the track to going insane.

Twins Valiona and Theralion Down

After having fun pulling together a raid again (/sigh), myself, my fellow Far Riders, and our one PUG flew ourselves over to Bastion and proceeded to have some good ol’ fashioned trash wipes. Ahaha. Despite the initial difficulties, we fought our way over to Halfus and found we had the Slate, Nether, and Storm drakes this week. Initially it was suggested to release Slate and Nether, with our DK tank (Angimar) on the drakes and myself on Halfus, but that wasn’t working well for us. Per a guildie’s suggestion, I tried kiting Halfus to drop the healing debuff, but this quickly proved ineffective. We finally worked out that we should be releasing Nether and Storm instead, and I flip-flopped with our DK, since my main mitigation is blocks which allow the debuff to continue to stack. Within an attempt or two, we had Halfus down, loot was distributed, and we proceeded onwards.

We blew through the trash before the Twins, and after a quick recap of fight mechanics and placement from our raid strategist (not an official title, but that’s really what he does ^_^’), we began chipping away at their health. I can neither remember the exact number of attempts nor methods we worked through, but we finally downed the dragons (just barely, but we did it) despite our melee heavy setup. We had three melee, plus Angimar (he switched specs for this fight, since it only needs one tank on 10man – not sure about 25man), and two ranged dps, so we used this method:

During Valiona’s ground phase, I tanked Valiona, and the four melee stood at the four corners of her massive hit box, leaving 10yd range all around. The ranged and healers stayed nearby, and for Blackout, everyone except myself ran to the tail of the dragon. Naturally, we got out of harm’s way when Devouring Flames was being cast. When Theralion was on the ground, I again tanked with melee stacking on me and the ranged/healers forming their own clique (heh ^_^’) behind the dragon. This resulted in almost all (if not all) void zones being cast on the ranged group, who simply moved in a clockwise circle around the boss, leaving the melee and myself to wail upon the dragon. When Valiona came charging through with her deep breaths, we moved as a group to dodge. Eventually, the Twins went down, more loot was distributed, and we decided to head over to BWD and put in some time on Magmaw.

After the trash was cleared, Ang went frost again, and using his specially setup spec (Chilblains + Glyph of Howling Blast, I believe), he kited the parasites that spawn during the fight. For positioning, I was on one side of Magmaw’s spike, and everyone else was piled in on the other side, with Ang running around with his parasite buddies. After having initial difficulties with dying at the end of Magmaw’s Mangle, I realized that it’s possible to use Ardent Defender or Guardian of Ancient Kings so that the length of the ability would fall over the end of Mangle, thus saving myself from a chewy end. The beauty of it though, was that whichever ability you used for the first Mangle would be up in time for the third one, so either ability was always up in time for the next Mangle.

Unfortunately, the PUG healer we had with us for Halfus and the Twins was going to be doing a guild run of BWD the following night, so he was unable to come with us. One of our melee DPS switched toons to his Disc Priest to cover the healing slack, but no one else was available at the time, and since we were so close to the end of our raid time, we decided to simply 9man the fight. As it turns out, we ALMOST got Magmaw down (I believe the last wipe was somewhere around 6% health remaining?), but during our last run, our warlock’s computer decided to shutdown (a proper, full sequence shutdown too – not a “I just lost power,” instant shutdown), so we hit the enrage timer before we could finish the fight. Despite being unable to kill the accursed worm tonight, I know that if we could’ve nearly 9man’d Magmaw (with a dps absent for 2/3 of the fight), then we can definitely down him on our next raid night with 10 raiders.

I’ll continue to keep you posted on Far Riders 10man progression, so stay tuned! Also, if you noticed that we could’ve used a different tactic to make a fight easier, then please leave a comment telling me how. I’ll be sure to keep any suggestions in mind!

Failcheck: Stam or Mastery?

***Note: this article is geared towards paladin tanking, but may be applicable for other tanking classes as well***

One of the main tanking topics that’s still up in the air is how tanks should gem/enchant/reforge. While I’m newer to the tanking field than some of the tank bloggers and numbercrunchers out there, I think this is a prime opportunity for an experiment. The idea is that since the tanking mastery Divine Bulwark provide strong mitigation, it may be wiser to push our gear towards stats like mastery. Unlike dodge and parry, blocks don’t suffer from diminishing returns. Because of this, reforging dodge and parry on your gear into mastery results in more overall mitigation. As a bonus, I’ve noticed that mastery rating tends to result in more overall points than dodge/parry rating does, so this also contributes to greater mitigation.

Currently, I’m using gear that utilizes the following gems: Puissant Dream Emerald in green slots, Defender’s Demonseye in red slots, and Solid Chimera’s Eye (I’m a JC) in blue slots. Prismatic I fill up with what I can, leaning towards the emerald if I’ve already got all three JC gems in my gear. Now! As a quick, brief test, I purchased the recipe for Fractured Chimera’s Eye. As a JC, I found it frustrating that there was little to no information in regards to whether or not it was better to use stam or mastery JC gems, so this is my first test on the matter: I swapped an Emerald for one of my Solid JC gems, then replaced an Emerald that was in a yellow slot (+10 parry rating bonus from Gryphon Rider’s Boots) with one a brand spanking new Mastery JC gem. Here were the results, without Blessing of Kings or any other buff active – just wearing my gear:

Before: 144,217 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 54.56% block / 81.99% total mitigation

After: 142,509 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 55.41 % block / 82.84% total mitigation

Conclusion: Trading a Stam JC gem for a Mastery JC gem (aiming for socket bonuses) essentially trades 1,708 HP for a 0.85% mitigation increase.

Now, my blocks stop 31% of damage due to block enchants, so keep that in mind, but what this test ultimately means – in my opinion – is that JC paladin tanks should definitely use Stam JC gems over any Mastery equivalent (nor parry/dodge, since they provide less mitigation than mastery does). Does this mean we should not gem for mastery at all? I doubt this is the case, but whenever I can arranged for the funds to test this theory, I will. Until then, I hope this brief experiment will help you choose how to spend those hard earned Illustrious Jewelcrafter’s Tokens!

WTB level 85, PST

Without boring you with my many leveling adventures, I feel I can safely and summarily say that I have screwed around with leveling multitudes of different toons, spare no class (except Warlocks – they never did strike my fancy…). Lately, I’ve been leveling two in particular: a holy/ret paladin named Nehmend and a resto/kitty druid named Ehks. I mention this because when I do level these toons, I find that they level abnormally fast, compared to my other high level toons. So, I did some quick calculating. Currently, you can get:

  • +10% XP for Heirloom Helm (requires Guild level 20)
  • +10% XP for Heirloom Shoulders
  • +10% XP for Heirloom Chest
  • +5% XP for Heirloom Cloak (requires Guild level 10)
  • +5% XP for Heirloom Ring (from wining Kal’uak Fishing Derby)
  • +5% XP for Guild level 2
  • +5% XP for Guild level 6
  • =50% bonus XP

According to Wowhead, there are currently Heirloom legs and more rings in store. Counting those in, you can receive an additional 15% for 65% total bonus XP. Depending on how often you play these alt toons, you could earn up to 150% of a level (that’s 30 of the small bars/bubbles) in rested XP over the course of 10 days, which doubles the experience gained from combat. And on top of all of this, there are other situational bonuses that you can receive, such as holiday buffs (like those obtained from the Fire Festival, Pilgrim’s Bounty, etc) and the Recruit-a-Friend bonus of 200%. Of course, to receive this bonus, you need to be within 3 levels of your friend, but they can also “grant” levels (that’s right, free levels) to any of your toons at a lower level than theirs for every 2 levels they earn.

Long story short, leveling has become easy. With the right amount of effort to obtain heirlooms and balancing of alt play time, you can earn numerous levels every hour. This leads to more higher level toons, but does it subtract from the leveling experience? Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the now “easysauce” process of leveling.

Too many raiders!

Brief post today: my GM and I are currently attempting to organize a second 10man raid for our guild, since there seems to be enough raid interest to sustain it, if a couple of us raid on both. I’m actually pretty excited about this because while it won’t be the same as DPSing on Nehmen, I’d be playing my mage Feuere for the second raid, meaning I’d get both the tanking and DPS perspectives of the new cata raids. The challenge, of course, becomes finding times that work for both without conflicting with one another.

The ultimate goal of having these two raids is to provide in-guild raiding opportunities for more of our members while doing our level headed best to avoid “burning out.” To accomplish this, I believe we’re going to shorten our usual raid time of 4 1/2 hours (6:30-11pm) down to something closer to 2 1/2 hours (8:30-11pm). In the past, we’ve found that raid productivity tends to decline towards the latter hours of the raid from progression wipes and/or sitting in one place for that long, so if we can maintain a decent rate of progression with shorter hours, then why bother holding longer, tedious raids? Also, most time conflicts that members run into tend to occur earlier in the evening (“my folks wanted to have dinner,” “work got off late,” “traffic was horrible,” “I had a ridiculous amount of homework,” etc), so starting later may help avoid those.

I’ll let you know if this ends up working out, and if we had to make any changes to find success with the raid structure/scheduling.

First Raid Night: Halfus down!

After struggling with quite a bit of raid setup (our start time was supposed to be invites at 6:15pm begin at 6:30pm, but we didn’t start until 7:15pm…), our guild marched into Bastion of Twilight. One of our healers was a somebody’s alt, and one of our best melee dps sat out due to the melee dps constraints, but despite these troubles, after a handful of wipes (I believe 9-10?…), we downed Halfus Wyrmbreaker!

For those of you interested in attempting this fight yourself, it seems pretty easy, once your raid has the rhythm down. However, we used a slightly different method than what I’ve seen online in places such as Sword and Board: instead of releasing all three drakes, one-by-one, we only released two – and we released them all at once. To make this work, we used hero/time warp after the off-tank had established aggro on both drakes (we released the Storm Rider and Time Warden, leaving the Nether Scion alone), and I immediately used Divine Guardian to give our healers an early advantage against the imminent onslaught of damage. Also, I used all of my trinkets and other CDs early on (not all at once, naturally) because that way, they’ll further assist the healers early on, and everything was ready again for the final minutes leading to the enrage timer.

The key to this fight is perfectly timed interrupts, hence the raid’s need to establish a rhythm. We paired an elemental shaman with me on Halfus for the entirety of the fight (the only dps not on the drakes at the start), so he could interrupt all of the Shadow Novas that Halfus uses when the Storm Rider’s in play. Later, when he uses his shout knockdown, we had a combo of humans using Every Man for Himself and our mage blinking out of the stun to use counterspell to interrupt the Shadow Nova. Once we perfected this cycle (spare a few wipes for other minor reasons), the fight was downed, relatively smoothly.

Unfortunately, I have no screenshots of the fight with Halfus; only of Magmaw, who we attempted for the remaining hour or so, until I had to leave early (co-worker was sick and needed shift coverage ^_^’ ). In the end, I felt the raid was very successful, especially considering our “personnel” troubles for the evening. We’re still working out an exact raiding schedule, but I’ll keep you posted about anything that could help your own raiding experiences!

Food for thought

While I have been experimenting recently with how effective it is to tank with mitigation oriented gear as apposed to threat oriented gear, I have had the pleasure of assisting my friend, and guildmaster, Zee with gearing up her raiding toon. While doing this, several topics came to mind that I feel should be shared:

“Main as raid toon” v. “Alt as raid toon”

Zee’s main toon is her mage Zerena, but this isn’t her raiding toon, oddly enough. Due to various reasons, Zee leveled a resto shaman named Zeronemo, who serves as her sole raiding toon. I don’t know of many players that follow this school of thought, but after thinking on it, I found some pros and cons to both.

Main as raid toon:

  • Pros: Your main gets good gear; receives more play time; gets all of the achievements; strong sense of connection with one character
  • Cons: Your main wears gear because it’s got good stats, not because it’s cool; risks being overplayed; may need race/profession changes to stay “competitive”; may have limited guild selection, if you’re trying to stay PvE “competitive”

Alt as raid toon:

  • Pros: Your main can whatever gear you feel like wearing, regardless of stats; can be in whatever guild you like to hang out with, regardless of their raiding schedule, setup, etc
  • Cons: Your alt gets all of the dungeon/raid achieves instead of your main; may lead to weaker emotional connection with your main

Conclusion: Do whatever works best for you! If you like being a particular character, no matter what you’re doing, then using your main toon as your raider would probably be a strong choice. Likewise, if you could care less about attachments to any one character, then maybe using an alt (or several) as your raid toon is the way for you.

Knowing your class

It’s harder than it sounds, especially with the shear amount of content that’s been added into the game via Cataclysm and the hotfixes flying around left and right. At the same time, knowing your class’ every ability in and out can really make the difference when it comes to being a strong player. For instance:

  • Protector of the Innocent – Although this talent no longer works with targeting yourself with your heals, this talent briefly made paladin tanks nigh unstoppable, especially in PvP. Because this talent is in the holy tree and involves healing (something that some tanks seem loathe to do, for whatever reason), it could’ve been missed by many players.
  • Presence of Mind + Polymorph – While PoM doesn’t work in combination with teleporting or making portals, it DOES work with polymorph. Is your tank charging headlong into battle, having forgotten that Poly has a cast time? Bam! Insta-sheep.

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that come to mind, right away.

Persistence with Triage

Is also harder than it sounds! There’s nothing worse than constant wipes on a quest, in a dungeon/raid, etc. Well, except for the cause being something extraordinarily obvious in hindsight. Being stubborn enough to continue trying in the face of hardship is a great virtue, but it means nothing if you can’t look at your mistake and say to yourself, “What went wrong here?” This is where addons like Recount are handy.

If you suddenly get one/two shot and don’t know why, then Recount will happily inform you that <insert attack here> wiped the floor with you. Possibly twice. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, but success still eludes you (oh, you temptress), then consulting Recount can shed light on potential issues with dps, healing, unnecessary damage, etc.

The tricky part is always fixing what’s going wrong, but doing that is impossible if you don’t know the source of the problem!

Season’s Greetings

This isn’t a full post – I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas yourself, then happy whichever-if-any holiday you follow! =D

Happy Winter Veil as well, and I’ll see you on the servers!