Thursday, May 13, 2010

Zoning In

spend enough time running random dungeons and you're bound to run across things like tanks accidentally wearing their dps gear, aggressive pets pulling mobs while the group is still buffing, classes forgetting to use one of their signature buffs, etc. it's easy to forget things when you keep switching back and forth between instancing and solo-play. here's a quick mental checklist to run through each time you zone into a new dungeon:

  • is my pet on passive? (aggressive pets are fine in pvp, but not so much in instances)
  • is my pet's taunt turned off? (this applies to hunter and warlock pets)
  • am I in the right spec?
  • am I wearing the right armor?
  • am I using the right weapon(s)? (fishing poles and jousting lances make terrible weapons)
  • am I using the correct aura? (hint: crusader aura is not the correct aura)
  • do I have all my self-buffs? (e.g., righteous fury, molten armor, inner fire, poisons, etc.)
  • have I cast all my group buffs? (e.g., mark of the wild, power word: fortitude, soul stone, etc.)
  • are my macros set up correctly? (e.g., misdirect targets, focus target, etc.)

Continue reading "Zoning In"...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been

victory is mine! it took me a year and half, but I finally got my [Reins of the Violet Proto-Drake] today. I'd have gotten it a couple holidays back, but I was stymied by the School of Hard Knocks achievement last year. of all the holiday achievements, this one was by far the worst for me. it was such a frustrating experience last year that I actually gave up on it. this year, though, since it was the only thing left standing between me and my purple drake, I decided to suck it up and do it. for those of you in the same boat that I was, here's how to get it done.

while School of Hard Knocks is technically a pvp achievement, the good news is that no actual pvp is required. you don't need resilience gear and you don't need any pvp skill (though they'll both certainly help). all the achievement requires is that you go into the named battlegrounds and complete specific objectives. note that you, personally, have to complete the listed objectives. there's no group credit for any of these. you must be the one to click on the flag (or to carry the flag, in the case of EotS). this is where the bad news comes in. unless you're rolling in a pre-made group, your success or failure is largely dependent on luck and the cooperation of fellow players on both your team and the opposing faction's team. don't expect to complete each objective on the first try; it takes patience and persistence.


this is optional, of course, but if you want to have the best go of it here are some things to keep in mind:

  • if you have pvp gear, wear it. otherwise, wear whatever gear has the most stamina on it. don't worry about dps stats; it's all about staying alive as long as possible.
  • don't bother with food, scroll or potion buffs. you're probably going to die (a lot) and it's just a waste of consumables. on the other hand, if you've got a [Flask of Stoneblood] laying around, go for it. you can never have too much health.
  • consider bringing along any sort of speed and/or stealth buffs that you have available... [Invisibility Potion], [Nitro Boost], etc. the faster you can get to your objective, the better your chances of completing it.
  • take a minute to review your abilities in a pvp context. roots, snares, interrupts, damage resistances, 'oh shit' buttons... every class has 'em, but sometimes we forget about them in our day-to-day pve world.
Capture the flag in Eye of the Storm

call your orphan when you first zone in and every time you rez; no orphan, no achievement credit.

your objective is to run to the center of the map, click on the flag there (it has a 5 second cast time and any damage taken will interrupt the cast) and then hightail it to a base that your faction controls so you can turn it in by standing on the little landing pad between the two banners. note that once you have possession of the flag you cannot use your mount or any ability that makes you completely immune to harm (e.g., pally bubble), but you can use druid travel form, ghost wolf, sprint, intercept/intervene, etc. don't stop to fight; just get to the base and turn in your flag.

the flag spawn point is going to be a blood bath... aoe going off left and right, druids and shaman blasting people off the pathway to their deaths, fear bombs all around and bodies everywhere. you will have to compete with not only players from the other team, but also players on your own team for flag captures. rushing the flag at the start of the battleground is probably not the best strategy (though it works for some). I had better luck by helping to capture two or three bases first and then turning my attention to the flag. this gives you multiple options to run to once you do get the flag and also gives the other faction something to worry about (i.e., losing) other than camping the flag area. when you're waiting for the flag to respawn, put your mouse pointer over the spot where the flag will be and start clicking. the flag goes to whoever clicks the fastest and you can often click on it before you can see it.

Assault a flag in Arathi Basin

call your orphan when you first zone in and every time you rez; no orphan, no achievement credit.

your objective is to run to a flag that your faction does not own and click on it without being interrupted. if I remember right, assaulting a flag has a 5 second cast time. any damage taken will interrupt the cast and you'll have to start over.

this one's probably the easiest of the four. at the start of the battleground, run straight to one of the flags and click on it. speed is your friend here. if you can get to the farm/stables flag right out of the gates, you're done as no opposing players will be close enough to interrupt you. alternatively, you can try going for the mine or lumber mill flags, but there's a good chance that members of the other team will show up in time to ruin your attempt. if you don't have any luck nabbing a flag right at the start, you'll have to do it the old fashioned way and actually assault a base that the other team controls.

Assault a tower in Alterac Valley

call your orphan when you first zone in and every time you rez; no orphan, no achievement credit.

your objective here is to get to any one of the other team's four towers/bunkers, click on the flag there and complete the assault cast (5 seconds). like the others, any damage will interrupt the assault cast. this means you'll need to kill off a few of the defending npcs or they'll turn you into a pin cushion while you try to click on the flag. your best bet is to haul ass to the tower/bunker that's furthest away from your starting point. most players are going to go for the closer towers and will get caught up in the middle. you won't run into many opposing players all the way back at their home base and if you do see any, just run past 'em.

if you manage to click on the flag before anyone else, you're done. however, you still have a chance if someone else beats you to the flag. if an opposing player comes and defends the flag, it becomes captureable by your team again. for this reason, do not attack enemy players on sight; wait to see if they're going to defend the flag first so you can get a chance at capturing it. players on the other faction are doing the same achievement, so it's not unheard of to run into groups of players from both factions trading flag captures in a very civil and non-violent manner. of course, if they're hostile then go to town on 'em. remember that all you have to do is complete the assault cast on the flag. it's not necessary for your faction to actually capture the tower/bunker. once you get your flag cap, get out of there and give someone else a shot at it.

Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch

call your orphan when you first zone in and every time you rez; no orphan, no achievement credit.

your objective here is to wait for an enemy player to capture your team's flag, make them drop it somehow (ask nicely or kill them) and then click on the dropped flag to return it to your base. there's no cast time to return a flag, just be the first player to click on it once it's been dropped and you're done.

this one can be either really easy or really hard. if you attempt this during the first couple days of Children's Week, it's likely that you'll run into players on both teams that are working on this achievement. you can help each other out by sending one person into the other team's flag room, picking up their flag and then dropping it (right-click the flag buff icon in the top-right corner of your screen) so the other team can return it. ideally, the other team will send someone over to your flag room to return the favor.

if the other team (or your own team) isn't cooperating, then you'll have to do it the hard way: kill an opposing player while they're running your flag and be the first person to click on the flag when it drops in the field. this can be challenging as there are going to be a lot of other players around the flag carrier and they're all trying to do the same thing as you (some for achievement reasons, others for pvp reasons).

In Conclusion

I had credit for AB from last year, so this time around I just had to do the other three. it took me 2 AV, 1 WSG and about 4 EotS games to get them all done. EotS was by far the worst as there was no hint of cooperation with the opposing faction in any of the games. WSG was the easiest, as both teams traded flag drops until everyone had their achievements done (and then we beat the snot out of each other). AV wasn't too bad once I went with the 'run to the furthest bunker' strategy. only 2 other players came with me and I managed to be the first to the flag after clearing out a few of the npcs. including battleground queue times (during which I did the orphan quests; did you know you can have both the org/stormwind orphan and the shattrath orphan at the same time?), School of Hard Knocks took me a bit over 4 hours to finish up.

so, how did I celebrate? after taking my orphans back to the orphanage and doing a quick victory lap around dalaran on my new ride, I turned off WoW and went outside for a walk in the sunshine :)

Continue reading "What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been"...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Be a Dick

I don't know why people act this way, but we've all seen it: the guy who pulls before the group is ready or who pulls in extra mobs because the group "isn't moving fast enough". the guy who immediately trash talks another player just because he's not in the highest tier gear. the over-geared dps that make no effort whatsoever to manage their agro and then claim the lesser-geared tank sucks and can't hold agro. the guy who nerd-rages and quits the group mid-run after not getting the loot he wanted. the healer who sees that the tank doesn't have 40k+ health and leaves right after zoning in. the guy who doesn't buff anyone and then gets pissy when people ask for buffs. the guy who rolls Need on all the BOEs that drop and then brags about how much they'll sell for.


have we all forgotten how to play nice with the other kids? have we forgotten common courtesy? have we forgotten that we all started out with weak gear and how long it took to build up to that icc gear set? have we forgotten that gear score doesn't mean crap in terms of how good the player is?

chill out and be nice, people. don't be dicks.

Continue reading "Don't Be a Dick"...

Monday, April 26, 2010

10 Man Raids Go First Class

as befits a major expansion, blizzard's shaking up all sorts of things for Cataclysm. today's big change is that 10 and 25 man raids are going to use the same lockouts and the same loot tables (read the announcement here). in a nut shell, this means that all of those 10-man raiders out there will finally have access to the same gear that 25-man raiders do. this is a big (and awesome) departure from how raid rewards have been portioned out in the past.

historically, for any given raid tier, the best gear was only available from the biggest (and hardest) raids. the idea was to reward the extra effort required to gather and orchestrate larger raid teams. in the early days of WoW raiding there were only large raids. the burning crusade expansion, in addition to reducing the large raid size from 40 to 25 man, introduced 10 man raids and this is where the loot disparity between large and small raids began. the 10 man raids were meant to be more casual friendly and to require less organization and planning then the larger, more hardcore raids. as such, they dropped lower-quality loot. while the fairness of this policy can be (and has been) debated, it's clear that small raiding guilds were relegated to second class in terms of loot and progression options; the only way to play at the top was to run 25s. come cataclysm, that's all going to change.

personally, I think this is a very positive change and I think blizzard's closed the gap between big and small raids in the best way they could. there are still clear advantages to running 25s over 10s (more drops, including emblems and gold), but everything available in 25s will also be available in 10s. I imagine hardcore raiding guilds will continue to run 25s simply because it's more efficient in terms of gearing up. I also expect they'll complain that raiding is being trivialized because 10 man groups will have access to gear levels that were once exclusive to the 25 man crowd (quite a blow to the ol' epeen, that). on the other hand, I think that 10 mans will finally get some long overdue respect and that raiders will no longer have to sacrifice being in a small guild of close friends just to raid at the highest levels.

Continue reading "10 Man Raids Go First Class"...

Friday, April 23, 2010

To enchant or not to enchant

with each alt I level, I make it a point to wear the best gear I can reasonably get my hands on. I'll shop the AH to replace out-of-date gear (if I can find things at reasonable prices), I'll research what I can get from quest rewards and dungeons in my level range and I'll often throw on some cheap enchants and/or gems to make my gear that much better.

this practice of keeping my gear above average is pretty easy and cheap to maintain until I hit northrend. at that point, the leveling pace slows down a bit (meaning you're holding onto gear longer) and the difficulty of dungeons relative to gear and skill levels goes up a (small) notch. there's also some really great gear available from some early quest lines and dungeons that will last for several levels.

this raises the question, then, of how much is worth spending on enchants/gems for level 70-79 gear? enchanting expenses are pretty low in the sub-70 levels as the cheaper enchants are just that: cheap. those enchants don't stretch as far in northrend, however, and the mid-range and high-end enchants and gems can get pricey fast.

is it worth it? on the one hand, slapping a mid/high-end enchant or gem onto an already good piece of gear turns it into a great piece of gear. it has a direct and noticeable impact on your performance and you'll hang onto it for a few levels. on the other hand, you know that once you hit 80 and start running heroics and toc/icc 5-mans you'll be replacing all that gear pretty quickly with new drops and emblem gear (which you'll then have to gem and enchant...).

if you're playing a dps class, it's simply a matter of whether you have the gold to burn or not. your dungeon group is not going to wipe just because you didn't enchant your gear and are doing a few percent less dps. it's not quite so simple if you're playing a tank or healer, however, as the survival of the group rides a lot more on your individual performance. for example, as a tank you have to balance the cost of buying a few stam enchants with the benefit of having a larger health pool for when pulls go bad or the healer is weak. the same holds true as a healer... is it worth buying a few int/sp gems so you can throw out more/bigger heals when a tank is squishy or doesn't hold agro well?

decisions, decisions...

Continue reading "To enchant or not to enchant"...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leveling Prot

some time ago, I rolled a paladin to play exclusively with a friend who was new to the game. I chose to play a tank because I thought that would put me in the best position to keep her alive and, since she wanted to roll a blood elf, a paladin seemed like an excellent choice for me as they also offer some healing ability. we got into the early 60s before we parted ways and I've recently started leveling him again now that my rogue's hit 80.

most folks will tell you that leveling in anything other than a pure dps spec is a slow and painful process, but don't you believe it. leveling as a protection paladin has been nothing but good times for me.

I've solo'd every 3-man group quest I've come across in northrend so far. when I feel like running a dungeon or three, my queue times are nearly instant. when questing, I kill 5-6 mobs at once with no downtime (ironically it takes me longer to kill 1 mob then it does to kill 4, but that's life as a prot pally). I'm durable enough to start a fight, walk away from the keyboard to get myself a drink and still be alive when I get back. despite this character having no heirloom gear, my leveling pace seems to be on par with my rogue who was leveling with +20% xp (probably due to being able to squeeze more dungeons into the same amount of playtime). I am 100% tank (no dps off-spec, no dps gear) and wouldn't level this character any other way.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

My god... it's full of stars!

the blizzard store has been selling WoW in-game pets for a few months now, but this week they took a new step forward and began offering mounts for sale as well.

like the good little WoW lemming I am, I (and everyone else in Dalaran, it seems) went and bought one. it's a beautiful mount and the price seems fair considering it will be available to all your existing and future characters (unlike the recruit-a-friend [Swift Zhevra] mount, which can only be given to a single character *cough* lame *cough*). I do have a couple minor nits, though.

first is the sound the steed makes while flying... it's the same sound set used by the nether ray mounts and it just seems weird to me. second, and this applies to all mounts that count as both ground and air mounts (e.g., [The Horseman's Reins]), is that if you mount up in a ground-only area you'll be stuck in ground mode even if you ride into another area where flying is allowed. for example, if you mount your shiny new celestial steed in the center of Dalaran and then ride out to the landing platform, you won't be able to fly off until you dismount and remount. I'm guessing this is a programmatic constraint that the devs just haven't put time into fixing rather than an intentional restriction, but it's pretty annoying regardless.

I'm excited to see what other flavor items blizzard is going to put up for sale. they've said time and again that they won't sell items in the store that have any impact on game mechanics (i.e., no gear), which is a choice that I applaud. that still leaves them with a lot of things they *could* sell, though. I wouldn't be surprised to see items that are currently only available via loot cards from the WoW TCG to start popping up in the store. I can imagine other things, too, like custom hi-resolution tabards or even new emotes and hair styles. I do think it's important for blizzard to maintain a good balance between what's available in the store vs. rewards only available to top-tier raiders or arena masters, though. I'd hate to see items in the store over-shadow very rare rewards like the lich king's mount. can't wait to see what the store 'drops' next :)

Continue reading "My god... it's full of stars!"...