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Moonrise in Northrend

April 18, 2010

Just some pretty pictures to look at.  Sorry if they’re a bit redundant.

Moonrise over the border between Grizzly Hills and Dragonblight, with a waterfall in the foreground.

Moonrise over Grizzly Hills with Dragonblight in the distance.

Another moonrise over Grizzly Hills

Garnam's choice. Aurora over Wintergarde Keep.

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Burning bridges? Nah, we’re waaaay past that.

April 17, 2010

We took the airplane ride to the Explorer’s League Outpost in Howling Fjord.  I decided to scroll into first-person and turn my UI off.  We rounded a corner in Daggercap Bay, and got this view.

We burned their bridges, so they built ships. Then we burned their ships. Then we strung 'em up in the air.

The WoW You May Never See

April 16, 2010

Easter is over, but there are still Easter Eggs to be found.

Sometimes, particularly after a long or rough session of questing, HairyTank and I will get our characters good and smashed before we log out.  They’ve earned it.   That’s probably what we would do if it were us.

We expect to see Wolpertingers.  This experience in Allerian Stronghold, however, caught our funnybones off-guard:

A pair of pink blurs in vaguely elephantine shapes

Hello, what's this?

It took us a few seconds to realize that we weren’t experiencing video glitches.

They're pink eleks on parade! Dumbo would be proud.

We’re both old enough to have seen Dumbo in the theater (not on its original release, however).  No doubt the censors today would have a thing or two to say about an underage character getting drunk, but back then it was hilarious.  The only place they can be seen year-round is Allerian Stronghold, and then only if you’re drunk.  There is a quest chain that ends with a giant keg being brought out to the middle of the stronghold, so if you’re Alliance, drink hearty and enjoy your own parade of pink eleks!

Death of a Tree?

April 16, 2010

My Google Reader is absolutely inundated with blog posts about this announcement from Blizzard regarding planned changes to the Druid restoration tree (pun 100% intended).  I don’t think anyone failed to notice the changes to the way crit and haste affect our HoTs.  I don’t think anyone’s too upset about the removal of Abolish Poison since we’re trading that spell (which is somewhat redundant once you have Cure Poison, the only difference being that Cure Poison only ticks once, but it’s a near-guarantee to work) for some form of Dispel Magic.  We don’t know yet what Efflorescence will do, other than sprout flowers around our target’s feet.  Nope, what’s got them on a roll is the announcement of Blizz’s intention to take Tree of Life from a shapeshift form to a cooldown ability.

My Initial Reaction

OMGWTFBBQTHEY’RERUININGMAHGAME!!!

*pant*pant*pant*

Seriously, the Tree of Life form is pretty iconic.  DPS zones into an instance with me, they know exactly what role I’m playing just like we all know what the Laser Chicken is going to do.  I took a moment to lament the possible loss of the form that has been identified with druid healers since Burning Crusade.

Now that I think about it…

A few years ago I played a Multi-User Dungeon (text-based RPG) whose GMs were all volunteers.  My character was the equivalent of a hunter, without the combat pet.  In this game, you didn’t gain access to new skill levels by leveling-up; you leveled-up by raising your skill levels.  Imagine if Blizz announced that they were doing away with the XP system, and if you wanted to level-up your warrior to level 40 you had to raise all of your weapon skills to 200, your defenses to 160 and your professions to 120.  Now, imagine you’re a hunter and you’re told you have to raise your skinning to 200, but the only way you gain any skinning skill is by trying to skin that boar with a halberd, it takes eighty attempts to gain one point, and that skill has been that broken for eight years or more.

The last time I saw the online population count for this game was a while back.  It sat around 600 adventurers and falling.

Blizzard makes mistakes.  They’re also pretty good about reversing those mistakes either through hot-fixes or patches to the game.  Losing Tree of Life will be an adjustment.  I have faith in Blizzard that they like our money too much to drive-off any substantial portion of their customer base by allowing a game-ruining mechanic to remain in-game for long.  I also think they were watching very closely when Star Wars Galaxies released NGE.

I will watch and wait.  I’ll render my personal verdict (which means exactly zilch to anyone but myself) when I get to play with the new system.

Triage Mechanics

April 15, 2010

Analogue over at Looking for More wrote this post that got me thinking.  What are my triage mechanics?  How do I decide who gets healed when and with what spell?

I agree with Analogue, it’s not just one simple heal-in-this-order list.

Must Lives

My must live list is:

  1. Myself.  I have battle-rez, and if I hit Nature’s Swiftness first, it’s insta-battle-rez.
  2. HairyTank.  I have to sleep next to him.
  3. DPS ranked by my perception of skill/necessity to the encounter.

This list does have an influence over my healing triage.  If everyone is about to die, that is my priority list right there.

Who’s Gonna Die First?

Let’s just say it’s an average fight.  An average boss fight.  A tank-and-spank, if you will, with a few adds or spawns.  Aside from HairyTank and myself, we have a DPS Death Knight, a Hunter, and a Mage.

From the outset I’ve made assumptions about armor and damage mitigation.  This, combined with each character’s total HP, gives me an idea of how much of a beating each character can take.  With the above list, the list from lowest-to-highest beating-taking capabilities would look like:

  1. The mage.  I know they’re wearing cloth and probably not stacking stamina.  They have some damage-mitigation, but the class is not built around it.
  2. Me.  I wear leather, and Tree of Life gives me some armor boosts (and in an emergency I can pop Barkskin).
  3. The hunter.  They should be wearing mail armor and might have some +stamina gear.
  4. The DK.  If they’re not wearing plate, they deserve the incoming /kick.  They probably aren’t stacking +defense unless they’re trying to DPS in tank gear.  They probably also have the second-most HP in the group.
  5. HairyTank.  He’s the tank because he can take a beating and like it.

Two and three may be interchangeable due to the bonuses of Tree of Life.

What the Heck Just Happened?

The fight has just turned south.  Everyone is taking massive damage.  I pop Tranquility while I figure out what the hell is going on.

Is the DK standing in the whirlwind?  If so, the DK will die.  Not because I want them to die, not because I want to punish the player in some way, but because I know Talfrund doesn’t have the mana or the healing throughput to heal them through the whirlwind more than once.  The only way to keep them on their feet through that attack is to hit Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness, and Healing Touch in that order.  Even then they may end up on the floor before the whirlwind stops.  They may have been topping the DPS charts (I wouldn’t know, I don’t look at Recount until the instance is over), and I still have to let them die in order to focus on the rest of the group.

Maybe the DK Deathgripped a caster add off of me and back over to where HairyTank can hit it with Thunderclap.  That’s a good DK.  They are now at the top of my healing list.

I could come up with lists of good and bad things different classes do that move themselves around on my healing priority list.  Sometimes it’s the same character, different fight.

I can Hear the Fight, Who’s Getting Hit?

Maybe nobody is doing anything that particularly stands out.  They’re doing their job and DPS accidentally pulls aggro (or it’s one of those fights where the boss does a random aggro wipe).  Maybe it’s the Mage.  They get hit with a cleave and lose 75% of their HP.  HairyTank taunts the mob back over to him, and he’s at 40% health.  Meanwhile, the DK is taking AOE damage and is down to 55%.  Who gets priority?

Point 1: The mage isn’t taking any more damage.  They can wait a little while, but I’m not going to make them wait long.

Point 2: HairyTank’s 40% is everyone else’s 85%.  He can take a few more hits before he becomes critical.  I may spare him a Rejuvenation if the DK has shown himself to be pretty resilient.

Point 3: While the mage is the squishiest, it’s the DK who’s in the most immediate trouble.  I toss a Regrowth at him.  The large initial tick will put him around 85% and the remaining ticks should hold-off the AOE/aura damage until I get back to him.

Then I toss another HoT on HairyTank, and a Healing Touch or Rejuvenation on the mage.

It’s not as simple as Healer, Tank, DPS.

Over the (Blade’s) Edge

April 14, 2010

This was going to be a long (and admittedly somewhat whiny) post about how anything worth doing isn’t easy.  As a Mom/full-time employee/back-to-college-in-my-thirties student, I know many different versions of this story.  Parenting, career and school: all worth doing, all require sacrifice, none of them are easy.  Occasionally some things fall into place, like [Going Down?].  All you gotta do is survive the ride.  Some are a little tougher, require dedication, and the rewards are sweet.

Talbuks.  Garnam got his first good look at one the other day while wandering ’round Dalaran.  He has now calculated how many ogres have to die (with a small margin of error for bead drop rate quirks) for him to get his talbuk.  To be fair, the talbuk is my favorite ground mount.  I like them enough that my hunter spent a week at level 80 murderizing ogres in Nagrand so that she could have her choice of antelope-pronged steeds.

Two weeks ago he got his first taste of dragon-back flying.  This is the same Dwarf who spent an hour zooming around Hellfire Peninsula when he got regular flight (his first toon to ever have flight).  We now have a plan to incorporate the Netherwing dailies into our Nagrand ogre-murdering spree.  We also have about 5 days’ worth of netherwing crystal turn-ins.  Seriously, if Blizz ever revisits Outland (which will start looking as dated as Vanilla does now by the time Cataclysm is released) they should make the crystals repeatable like the signets/librams/marks of Sargeras/war beads/netherwing eggs.

But our first, highest goal, is [The Loremaster].  Ideally, we’d like to get it before Cataclysm comes out in case Blizzard decides to make it a Feat of Strength or in some other way alter the achievement.  Again.  I had a post all handwritten on a legal pad about the pains of bidding adieu to Northrend in order to finish [Loremaster of Outland].  We were zig-zagging across Draenor: Blade’s Edge for the Ogri’la dailies in the desperate hope that each new level of reputation would open enough quests to finish [On the Blade’s Edge], Nagrand for the Kurenai rep and Netherwing daily, and Shadowmoon Valley for more Netherwing dailies.  That was yesterday afternoon.

On a fluke, I opted to download EveryQuest and Loremaster last night, just to see if maybe, just maybe we missed something.  Lo and behold…  In our rush to finish the quests at Grishnath, we completely missed the [Orb of the Grishna].

This was yesterday evening:

Loremaster of Outland

It's about time!

So, now, I guess we just have to hangout on the western side of Draenor for a bit.  😀

The First Time: Dungeons

April 3, 2010

The first time… ever

The first instance I ever did was Black Fathom Deeps.  My husband (whom I will now dub, “HairyTank”) took his first warrior (it was also his first instance) and I took my hunter.  We found three other people and thought, “WOOT!  We’re good to go!”  Oh, to be so young and naive again…

I don’t remember what two of those strangers were in terms of race/class, but the third was a druid who took one look at our party and /sighed.  “I guess I can heal, but I don’t have any maple seeds,” he said.  Maple seeds?  Who needs maple seeds?  (Actually, Talfrund doesn’t, but this was patch 2.0 and Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth wasn’t a gleam in a dev’s eye yet).

I think they expected my husband to tank.  Despite his new moniker, at the time neither of us understood the basic party structure, much less the different roles.  We also hadn’t done anything like read-up on the dungeon.  We just knew we had quests in there, and we wanted to finish them.

We wiped.  Repeatedly.  On trash mobs.

When we finally zoned-out of BFD after downing the turtle boss, I had learned two things.  One, instances are confusing and the mobs are hard to kill.  Two, I hated instances with a gut-burning passion.  I vowed never to run another dungeon ever again.  Twenty levels later my guildies asked me to run Sunken Temple with them and I turned them down in sheer terror of repeating that BFD experience.

What I later learned is that instances are fun if you know your role and your class, and if you do your homework.  I eventually did Sunken Temple on my hunter, but only after I out-geared it.

Fast forward about two years…

Talfrund and Garnam’s First Time

Now we’re into patch 3.2 and Garnam and Talfrund are muddling their way through Azeroth.  They followed an undead wrecking ball (read: Death Knight looking for achievements) through Deadmines, so we don’t really count that as their first dungeon.  They didn’t run into a real test of their tanky-healy mettle until… Black Fathom Deeps.

No wipes.  We got the final boss.  What was different?  We knew our roles and we communicated with each other.

Garnam: I hear the fight.  Where is it?

Me: Above you.

Garnam: <cussing about water combat> Got it.

(I’m tempted to call it Black Loathsome Deeps because of that one section of water combat)

We still make mistakes.  Our biggest failure was communication with the rest of the party.  Two of our DPS took an every-man-for-himself instance-zerging approach (which seems particularly popular at low levels).  Most low-level dungeons are forgiving of this mistake, and I think experienced players take advantage of it to the frustration of those trying to learn their roles.  Inexperienced players can’t help themselves.  My point is, don’t just talk to each other.  Talk to the rest of your party, too.  Let them know what you want from them.  You may get lucky – someone in your group may have a, “main,” that is your class and spec.