Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Busy Warlocking

I've been distracted from my Priest levelling project in the past couple of weeks due to my main(s) suddenly requiring a lot of attention. I was steadily raiding ICC with my guild, 3 nights per week, and my main ( a druid tank) was well-geared enough that I don't really need to worry about emblems anymore, so outside of raid time I can work on my priest.

However, we had some big changes recently - attendance at raids slowed down to the point where we didn't have a steady 10-man group (we have never really got into 25mans) and our guild leader decided to step down, due to getting a new job and having less time to spend online. I wasn't ready to step into the guild leader shoes myself, as I know how much work it takes and I admire anyone who can do it. So we decided to merge with another guild who are also struggling with raid signs. It was my guild who disappeared, as we all took the other guild's name, and I was sad to see it go. It happened a few days before my 2-year anniversary of joining my guild, so there was a tear in my eye, but it was for the best.

The merge has gone well so far, and our new guildies have been very welcoming. The big advantage is that it doesn't feel like our family has gone, we've just grown. A number of us are excited to be doing 25-man raids again. The downside though is that there wasn't any room for my main in raids - I'm a feral druid tank, and there are more than enough tanks in the guild already.

So...... I've applied, and been accepted, as a raider on my warlock. I do love playing my warlock, but I have very limited experience of raiding with her. I spent some time grinding enough badges for T9 and did some reading up on the 3.3 changes. I got a place in the 25-man group, and I was very pleased when I was doing pretty respectible dps! I'm towards the bottom of the meter, but I'm not too far behind the others. I'm playing affliction spec, as I tried destro before and didn't really enjoy it. I guess I found it a bit repetitive. I love the way that affliction damage builds up, and instead of a repeated rotation, it's a group of debuffs that you need to manage. If you can juggle all your spells and keep them all stacked on your target, then the damage just adds up and up... I also enjoy the challenge of trying to keep a crit-buffed corruption on the target, especially on fights with adds, and I'm starting to improve at this.

However! After a recent discussion with the other locks in the guild, it was noticed that we don't have a regular demonology lock in raids, and it was decided that this is something we should have. There are quite a few warlocks in the guild, and a couple of them have demo offspec, but none of them wants to use it as a main spec. I'm not sure why this is, but I assumed that it was because it's as boring as I found destro to be. I haven't played as demonology since level 70 though, so I wasn't sure. I offered to get a demo offspec, and take my turn being the miserable lock in the corner, giving a buff to everyone else, while the affli locks destroy the target. With my badge level gear however, I pointed out that there wouldn't be much point in me being the Demonic Pact giver until I'd upgraded my gear.

That was until we had a raid this week where we had two warlocks, neither with demo spec, and no elemental shaman. I realised I needed to suck it up and go get demo spec now - my meager offering will be better than nothing. So having only just started to feel like I'm mastering affliction spec, I'm now reading up on demonology spec and spending time with the target dummy again.

The first thing I noticed is that it's more complex than I thought - in fact I had a hard time getting the hang of it. I decided a new addon might be called for to help me monitor Molten Core and Decimation. I've started using Sexycooldowns to help me as affliction, and I really recommend this. However, I need something that notifies me when Molten Core procs (as opposed to when it's about to fall off) so I'm going to give Power Auras a go, as recommended in Optecs great video here. I'm also going to try a new addon for tracking how effective Demonic Pact is - this will be especially useful due to my low gear level as I'm not sure whether I'll really be any more effective than a totem of wrath (when there's on available). The addon is here: DemoPact

So now that I'm raiding each week in 25-man ICC, I have a basic set of emblem gear, and I'm happy with one spec and learning another, my thoughts are turning to potential gear upgrades I might get in ICC. I've browsed wowhead like a child browses a toy catalogue before Christmas, eagerly eyeing the shiny items. There's just one problem though - and that's hit rating.

I'm off for now to try and piece together a suit of armor with just the right amount of hit. More on gearing next time.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Patient Priest: Sinking...

The Patient Priest has been playing in Sunken Temple, which proved a frustrating experience. I think I'd just like to move on and put it behind me - especially the incident where I unwittingly persuaded my party to commit suicide..... I still wince when I think about that one.

My priest is now approaching level 50 and Outlands is on the horizon. However, as eager as I am to progress to BC content, with it's better gear and xp, I'm still interested in running as many of Azeroth's dungeons as I can. I don't have much experience of the level 50-60 dungeons as I started playing WoW during BC, so with my first chars I just pushed on to join my guildies in Outlands.

Having now tried to run them on my priest I can say that it was unfortunately the worst part of the dungeon levelling so far, and would even recommend that players do plenty of quests in the level 50's and get to the Outlands dungeons as these are more suitable for the levelling player. I do like the high level Azeroth dungeons - I think they're interesting and fun, and certainly have an "epic" feel to them - but they are long, very long, difficult and complicated, and if you're just there for the xp then you might not have the patience for them.

I remember when I did Sunken Temple with my first ever character (a warlock), and it seemed like a really tough, high level instance. I was nervous going in there. However, on my priest at level 47, it wasn't very tough to heal. The mobs went down pretty easily, but the dungeon is still long and labyrithine, and it requires a dedicated group to complete it. The worst thing about this instance is the run back from the graveyard. It's long and underwater and most people don't know the way. In the five runs that I did, not a single person made it back from the graveyard - they either waited for a rez or quit. Even if you do make it inside, it's a maze in there. On one attempt, the group was in progress when I arrived. I was running up and down staircases trying to find them, but there seemed to be mobs in every direction. In this situation, the only thing you can do is get the others to teleport out and re-enter, then start from the beginning. If the group splits up, you will quickly lose each other, as it's hard to tell from the mini-map just which level you're on. Thankfully Blizzard now improved things by making new group members zone in where the party leader is standing - great idea.

Here's how I recommend you approach Sunken Temple:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tanks aren't irreplaceable

I was in a heroic the other day on my warlock. Things were going pretty predictably - the group was fairly well-geared, and we were just burning everything down in silence. Then, someone made a mistake we had too many mobs on us, the healer got distracted and the tank went down. The rest of the group mopped the mess up, and the tank started complaining, pretty rudely. "FFS what are you doing, you morons" etc... I tried to calm him down, saying it's no big deal and there's no need to be insulting. He reponded that he was the tank and he could be as insulting as he wanted.

Now that really, really, offends me. I hate the idea that we need to suck up to tanks, that we should be afraid of offending them. My main is a tank, and I've done hundreds of heroics without being so insulting, and I told this guy so. He tried to make out that he'd just been kidding (and maybe he was) but as I didn't understand (and kiss ass like I was supposed to) he left the group, saying "good luck finding another tank".

I then felt really guilty - the rest of the group were faced with a 15 minute wait, all because I couldn't keep my big mouth shut and take abuse from the tank like a good dps. But before I could say anything, a new tank arrived - we were waiting less than a minute. We finished the instance quickly with no fuss. And I imagine the tank that left us was still hanging around waiting for his desserter debuff to wear off. You may think this is rare to get a tank so fast, but I had another tank leave a heroic without saying anything on the same day, and he too was replaced within a minute. I guess groups in progress get priority for new tanks who sign up.

I love tanking. I like the responability and control that it brings. In heroics, tanks are usually looked upon to lead the group and a good tank can carry a group more so than a good dps or even healer can. I'm sure there are a lot of tanks out there who've had to put up with abuse - I know I have sometimes. It's sad though that the shortage of tanks has led to some of them turning into primadonnas, and making many people too afraid to say anything incase they offend. That's just so sad - but of course the solution is more and more people levelling tank alts, learning just how difficult (or easy) it is to tank themselves, and taking the tanks on when they think they're irreplaceable.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Patient Priest: Zombie Trolls

In the mid-level 40's I've been getting either Maraudon:Inner or Zul'Farrak as a random dungeon. I think ZF is slightly lower level, but it has the potential to be more difficult because of the large numbers of mobs and more complex boss encounters.

Zul'Farrak is a temple complex located in the Tanaris desert. It's full of trolls, witch doctors and zombies, and also lots of scarabs. The trolls are mainly in groups of 3 or 4, with some casters which need to be pulled back. This is because the trolls run when they get low on health and have a chance to pull other groups or wandering patrols. The trolls drop healing totems, which I could easily take out with a single hit from my wand, and they also cast hex, even on the tank, which should be dispelled fast.

The basilisk boss, hidden in a cave in the hills, can be a little difficult, as he spawns mobs behind you, does stuns and drops a rooting totem. My favourite encounter though is the pyramid escape, where you kill the executioner, loot his key then free the prisioners in cages awaiting sacrifice. You then need to survive wave after wave of zombie trolls, keeping the prisioners alive, and finally make it to the bottom of the pyramid and face a priest boss. You can then talk to the prisoners, who instead of thanking you will turn on you and you need to fight them. The hardest part of this whole encounter is for the tank to pick up all the mobs. Its helps to have a paladin of course. However, with higher level groups I found that we could just aoe everything down faster than it could kill us. Also, holy nova is really good here, allowing me to add a little damage and keep the whole party topped up without worrying about pulling aggro. The other bosses in this instance are pretty much tank and spank.

I've had some good fun in this place - it gives lots of exp and you can skip some bosses if you want a fast run. I've also met some very good groups...

Patient Priest: Maraudon and on

I'm now level 43 and continuing to push my way through Maraudon. After five runs in a row in Maraudon:Orange I signed up for Purple as I didn't want to level past it (and was seriously bored of Orange).

Purple is definitely easier than Orange. It's a twisty cavern full of satyrs, demons and a few elementals. The don't do much damage and you can dispel a lot of the debuffs. We survived a massive pull in the beginning when someone cast some aoe and a horde of imps and other demons came running at us from the lower level. It's a fairly short instance. In fact I didn't realise we'd finished the first time and I though our tank was just quitting. You only need to kill one boss to get your lucky dip bag, which means that there's one boss in the middle of Maraudon who isn't covered by any of the LFG sections.

I signed up for a random and got another Maraudon:Orange run. I've realised by this time that I've had enough of this instance. I think I'm starting to lose patience too because I found the group really annoying and I'm sick of having to ask for buffs. I unfortunately had a couple of really unpleasant guys in this group. There was a warrior tank and a rogue who were RL buddies. The tank went afk for a few minutes and when the hunter asked the rogue what was happening he just gave some cocky answer that shut the hunter up. Tanks can do as they please you know. For the rest of the dungeon the warrior and rogue made fun of the hunter, criticising his dps, calling him bender and telling him he was doing stuff wrong. I eventually told them to shut up and stop being assholes and that seemed to help a bit. When we'd downed the last boss the hunter called them idiots and left. The rogue wanted to continue deeper into the harder sections of the instance but I said no thanks and teleported out of there. They were the worst people I've grouped with so far.