Friday, July 30, 2010

A bit of a break

Idunno what's going on with things lately. We can breeze through ICC 10 with our eyes closed at this point but hard modes outside the basic ones just seem impossible lately. I don't know what's up - either motivation, or boredom, or burnout... I don't know what it is. I made a little speech in raid last night before swapping over to normal modes and a couple of people have talked to me about things... but I don't know what else to say or do about it.

Next week is vacation week for me (I'll be at GenCon!), so we decided next week will be a Ruby Sanctum night on Tuesday and then the guild is free to do what they wish with their ICC 10 lockout the rest of the week.

But I've set a hard expectation that I want to get to 10 to 11 Hard Modes a week by the end of August and work on Hard Mode Lich King throughout September. I'm really hoping the 11 day break from ICC will let people come back in with fresh minds, fresh perspectives and we'll make some real progress again because, as I said last night, I have zero - zero - interest in farming easy bosses.

Once we swapped to normal mode, all the other bosses went down very smooth and easy. At least we got a few more people caught up on the BQ achievement.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tanking Woes

Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am to have such awesome tanks to work with as I do. There are three of us who have been tanking together since, oh, September last year or so, and we've grown used to each other and kind of communicate in short hand at this point. Any two of us in any combination can tank very efficiently and pick up new mechanics very quickly because we just have an innate trust with each other.

For the first time in ages, the other two were both absent last night and I had an initiate level member who'd expressed interest in tanking before step up to tank with me, and, it was a mess. I take most of the blame here, because I wasn't communicating as much to him as I needed.

Tanking partnerships take a lot of experience and a lot of working together and a lot of trust to be earned between both tanks. I felt like I was tanking alone, and I'm sure he felt the same way, and we kept stepping on each others toes and when the tanking is off, the rest of the raid is thrown off balance.

I think tanking is an invisible art - when done well, really well, it should be like the tanks are doing nothing at all and the DPS and healers can do their job without thinking about the tanks. That's the way we are generally, we put out enough threat that generally our DPS don't have to throttle themselves. We pull aggressively but keep things under control so things move on at a steady pace. It's an ebb-and-flow of pulls that takes a lot of effort to learn correctly and last night, there was none of that smooth flow and instead, it was like white water rafting and the DPS suffered terribly for it.

The one good thing to come out of last night's disaster is that my appreciation for my co-tanks has shot up ten fold. Because that relationship and trust we have is worth more than any amount of gear of experience another tank brings.

Let's hope Thursday is a bit better.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fucking Yogg

Last night was an off-night. We don't normally raid on Wednesdays but when I put up an Ulduar hard modes raid on the calendar as a break from ICC just to mess around in, a lot of people signed up so we actually wound up raiding Ulda last night.

As I mentioned earlier, a number of us are one achievement short of the Rusted Proto-Drakes (One Light In The Dark) and we've started this journey no less than four times now.

--

1. Back in Tier 9, we went in and got up to the General. We had all the hard modes done up until Yogg when ICC landed on us with a thud. We promptly began to ignore all other content and focused on ICC.

2. Fast forward a month or so, a few folks we'd done all those Ulda achievements have moved on, and there are 5 of us short 1 achievement, and just before I headed off to horde side and the dissolution of the guild, we spent a couple of nights in Ulda with a team where half of us had One Light remaining and everyone else was virgin.

In two nights we cleared up to Yogg again doing every hard mode along the way to catch up the other 5 folks and then spent one night on Yogg and just could not get it done. I blame that night to a lot of our melee playing off-spec from heals or tanks and just not having the DPS to get Brain Room done, and for the second time, we stopped short, I went Horde, and I thought that would be it.

3. Nope. I come back, people start talking about drakes again, and now we have 7 people in the guild with all but Yogg left, so, on some off-night, we went back in with three NEW folks who needed the achievements and, yep, we get to Yogg and it's almost midnight, and we call it. Never to go back.

So, last night. We have a team of the 7 original people, plus three who're somewhere along the way but I decided I wasn't going to get all the achievements again. We're going to powerclear our way to Yogg.

4. So, it's raid time, I have my team, we start pulling, we get to the Keepers, and on a whim, we one-shot every keeper on hard-mode including fucking Firefighter. We get to Yogg with an hour and change left on the raid.

And our rogue starts getting connection issues. One of our DKs has his mouse die. And I'm sitting there with my face beating on a wall. We finally pull and the team is shaking off the phase 1 rust, we wipe twice and then consistently make it to phase 2. Great.

As usual, surface team is moving as a unit, we're keeping tentacles clear, but brain room just can't get it together once again. We keep loosing people in brain-room and the one time we get everyone into brain room and they power clear up to the brain in a few seconds, the rogue disconnects, comes back in insane, and starts one-shotting healers.

I called it at that point.

--

A few things that make this really annoying:
  1. I'm just tired of this whole thing. If I had finished my achievement, I'd be okay with taking people through it again, but as it is, I'm sick, sick, of doing Ulda hardmodes only to wipe and fail on Yogg. And the sad part is, I love Ulduar. It's my favorite raid of this expansion.
  2. Yogg isn't that hard. The brain room isn't that hard. Since nobody else wants to tank Phase 1, I wind up tanking it every time so I can't take someone's spot in the brain room (when you want to do something right...)
  3. The fact that I'm considering giving up our ICC heroic modes tonight just to wrap up Yogg since we can just go in and do him directly tells me just how much of an albatross this is around my neck.
  4. Because this has happened so many times, at this point, when we get to Yogg, my brain just becomes this cesspool of pessimism that refuses to acknowledge that things will go well, that we can succeed, so while I still play my best, my attitude is total shit and I'm sure that's infectious.
There are, I think, 7 or 8 of us who'll finish the meta if we kill Yogg. I think at this point, with the sour taste in my mouth from last night, I know just how badly I need to get this shit done.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

Heroic Blood Princes slapped us around for an hour and a half last night, but near the end, I think we had figured out what we needed to do and the last wipe was at 35% so it's getting there.

Once we knock it out on Thursday, this fight will put us at 9/12 and with only the 3 hardest bosses left, I can relax a little and work on them, one at a time. Putricide next, I think, he's a lot more manageable as Sindragosa seems to press people's panic button a lot. The extra Plague and the twin-add transitions are pretty fun, and I enjoy that fight.

Mostly because I get to become an Abomination and ignore all that complicated plague-juggling business!

But anyway. Heroic Icecrown continues to dwindle, gear flows like wine, and having OPTIONS in building a raid team is a great thing. I had 11 people to choose from last night and when I sat someone they didn't /flipout or anything, so that was awesome. If I continue to get more than 10 folks every week, maybe I'll even start confirming people.

Oh, blessed, blessed raid attendance. The last few weeks have been so good, I'm kind of afraid of having to PuG ever again. But on the flip side, it's kind of weird to have almost nobody on when we're not raiding. It's a bit of a ghost-town on non-raid nights. But I'm pretty okay with that, as long as people log in to raid, and have interest and are not burning out, I'm happy to only see them for raids and let them enjoy the summer and time off and all that.

All that time will go away once Cataclysm hits.

Speaking of Cataclysm, a new beta-build went in yesterday with all the big Paladin changes, so I'm off to do some data-mining and reading...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thinking About Cataclysm

Man, dog days of summer indeed. I had 4 people absent this week, and wound up recruiting three new recruits, all of whom have been awesome. I'm a little worried about having maybe one or two too many people, but I'd rather have choice than be short and have to PuG.

Even with 4 subs, we still managed to get 11/12 in one night and taught Lich King to the 3 new recruits. So, not a bad week of raiding at all. Since Malygos was the weekly and I realized we'd never actually done You Don't Have An Eternity, we decided to knock that out and called it a week. I've also been kind of burning out on ICC so next week I set up Ulda 10 hard modes for an off night, let's see how many folks show up for that. Maybe we can wrap up our Rusted Protodrakes achievement (One Light In The Dark!) and get a few more folks the Starcaller title from Algalon, maybe.

I've also been thinking of promoting someone in the guild up to Officer status to help us out - he's one of our most reliable and knowledgeable people and he loves the game passionately, and I have a lot of trust for him. Will need to talk to our GM and pitch her the idea before speaking with him.

Anyway. Moving on.

With Cataclysm coming up, I've been encouraging folks to figure out what they want to level first and what role they want to play at 85. Because I know I've been thinking of switching to Retribution full time. That would be a HUGE change for me. I've always tanked but the last few months of play have been interesting in that they make me appreciate the game from a different side (DPS) and I've been enjoying it tremendously.

I'm not 100% sold on the idea, but it is something I'm considering seriously. I think it'd be a lot of fun.

But the thing is... I said almost the exact same thing regarding my main at the end of TBC. I thought my Bear Druid would be my main and tank as main spec in WotLK but I just fell in love with my Paladin after 3.0 hit live and completely switched over to him.

As it is, these are my alts ranked in scale of interest I have for playing them:
  1. Death Knight for Frost DPS - based on the new talent trees released, they look to be in a really interesting place and with their ultra-fast locked GCD style of play, could be a lot of fun
  2. Druid who mostly heals as a Tree now, and with the promised changes, might become an even more OP healer
  3. My 72ish Warlock is just a joy in PvP and in PvE as Affliction and I love the aesthetic of the class, plus, it'll give me a chance to race change her to Worgen and be a foxy warlock
  4. There is my mage at 80 who mostly serves to make me flasks and stuff, but he was my first character in WoW and maybe I could swap to him in Cata as we don't have any mages in our guild right now
  5. And finally, I *could* just finish leveling my 65 Warrior if I wanted to go Fury and top meters all day long
And so, my poor Paladin with close to 6k Achievement points and my most progressed character is competing for attention against all these classes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fret Fret Fret

Tonight is the start of a new raid lockout, and it marks our first night back in after The Golden Week. I'm a bit nervous and am hesitant about attendance and expectations, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm walking in with open arms and closed eyes. I am a leaf on the winds of chance. Let me land where the wind wills.

Or something. Ideally, I want to make the fucking Blood Princes eat it hot-like and maybe make some progress on Le Bon Professeur on hard mode. Maybe snag an achievement off of Sindragosa. Too ambitious, you say? Reign in those expectations? Right. Leaf on the fucking wind.

So I'm sitting on an excess of Frost badges. Like. 300 and change. I'm wondering if I should go ahead and sink it all into Retribution or if I should maybe work on getting Shadowsedge.

Now, realistically, I really have no way of getting Shadowmourne, I have no access to a regular ICC 25 group, so getting Shadowsedge seems silly and a waste of resources. But. I'm a boy. I like axes that glisten and gleam with potential for evil. I can't help wanting it.

Maybe I'll buy some Ret gear tonight just to spend those badges and get them out of my currency tab because they sit there. Beckoning me with their come-hither sighs, their kohl-lined eyes, their round bosoms. Wait a minute. Badges don't have bosoms. Maybe I should play less. I'm starting to hallucinate bosoms where there aren't any.

Goddamnit. I need to spend these badges and fast.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Amazing Week

I woke up today and a blue tweety bird sat on my window ledge singing a happy song. Yawning, I went to the shower where the water smelled of mountain springs and lent me a manly man smell that was musky and appealing to the opposite sex. After eating six eggs, four pieces of thick beacon and a few sausages along with gallons of fruit juice and raw milk with slabs of marbled cheese, I rode my car which overnight transformed from a Honda Civic to a European car of some sort and sped through traffic that politely moved out of the way for me.

How did this happen, you say? What's going on with your life and how can I have a morning just like yours?

This is the morning after two nights of amazing raids. We went in with full guild runs both nights for ICC Heroics and man, man, is it satisfying to one-shot Heroic Marrowgar, DeathWhisper, Gunship and then, very smoothly and solidly kill Saurfang on our first pull!

After a bit of wrestling with what to do next, I decided to give Dreamwalker a shot and it took a lot of work, that fight is a bit brutal on Hard Mode but once the healers figured out the new cloud mechanic and started healing themselves and became better at holding stacks, and once we changed the priority order of kills and had our tanks coordinate the adds better - up she went, though the kill was super messy. I have plans to clean this up for our next kill.

Afterward, we went and killed Princes on normal mode just to get ready for Thursday and that was Tuesday.

Last night, though. Last night was glorious.

I logged in late (and I'm very seldom late) to find my lovely Guildleader had pulled the raid together and cleared trash in Plague Wing already! Awesome! We buff up, we pull Heroic Festergut, bang, one shot on hard mode. We run over to Heroic Rotface, we pull, BANG! Another one shot. On a whim, we ran up to Blood Wing, pulled Heroic Lanethil and down she went, even with me COMPLETELY fucking up the bite order at the end and giving out bite assignments on the fly neglected to include myself in the list (and I was DPSing).

Feeling like Gods, we ran up to Putricide and did some pulls on Heroic and... man, that's a messy fight. We kind of have half a plan to deal with Unbound plague, and we were doing okay with the adds management but I really didn't want to spend the entire night learning that fight so we decided to get the achievement and we did graet with no slows and killed him just fine, but I don't know why we didn't get the achievement - Recount didn't show me casting the slow at any point (though honestly I never looked to see if it DID record it in the past so Idunno if I'd see it anyway, but there it is.) Menh, we'll get it soon enough, as we proved we were capable of killing adds without the slow just fine.

The hard mode, though, that will take time.

We ran up to Sindragosa and I'm still a little wobbly on this fight and we've gotten stuck on her before, but, the string of one-shots continued and she went down (on normal mode, naturally) with only one person down. Very, very smooth, textbook kill.

It was running pretty late but we ran up to Lich King to see if we could quickly grab a title for one guildy who didn't have it but our first attempt got flubbed in phase 2 so we run back in and took him all the way into phase 3 without any problems. Even the transition was smooth but I hate doing hard fights in a hurry, and a couple of us kind of stumbled coming out of a perfect phase 2 transition and we wound up calling the raid there.

But to do 2 pulls on LK and have them both go THAT smoothly was amazing.

I want to spend next week getting Heroic Princes and maybe, if we get lucky and work out a good strat, we can get Putricide down. That'll put us in a great position to earn our drakes in a few weeks and start working on Heroic Lich King.

What a week. Maybe I'll even relent and work on Helion. :-P

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat a burger trapped in a bun of two grilled cheese. Because it's just that kind of day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

RealID Woes

This is starting to get a bit annoying.

When RealID Friends thing came out, I was a fan, I liked being able to talk to friends on different servers and cross faction. I don't know why people became so defensive about Friends of Friends as all you see are names of people, not their characters so you might know I'm friends with George Jetson but you wouldn't know the names of his characters. So that didn't bug me too much.

However, this whole forum thing is starting to annoy me.

It precludes a large population from participating in the forums and I know I'd hesitate to post in certain volatile threads due to this, but I'm a 30 year old male, I have pretty little to worry about in terms of stalking or anything like that. But my guild has at least two minors (kids of 17) and about half my guild is female. They certainly have a lot to worry about.

At least one of the minors is worried his parents might cancel his subscription if this goes through and he is one of the most consistent, conscientious and productive members of my guild. I don't blame his parents (even though they could theoretically just block his access to the forums, but I can see their concern.)

Now that news is starting to leak of Blizzard and Activision having made some deal with Facebook for integration and cross-pollination - I see even less reason to force this onto people. Even worse, I can see a very easy solution to this:

Blizzard could - easily - tie into the account in the back end if that's what a user wanted. Say, I want to tie my RealID and Facebook together. Fine. Battle.Net announces that if I don't want my real name to show up, I need to log in and give them a nickname. Great - easily done. Now, I want to tie my profile into FB - again, easily done in the back end, my RSS feeds, preferences, etc, all feed into FB anonymously and my friends on FB can see my various characters in various games and if there are FB exclusive extensions to the main Blizzard properties, the tie-in can be two-sided, and I still retain my privacy.

Publically, I post with my Battle.Net nickname, while privately, my FB shows my friends all my various characters and achievements and such. It isn't a hard solution to code. There are plenty of other services that already do this (OpenID, etc.)

I don't know why they are taking the easy out. I don't mind that they're going the social networking route. I don't mind that they're wanting to make more money. Fine! But I'd prefer for them to give the consumer a choice of engagement and maybe even an incremental choice - all the way from opting out completely to total and open RealID/Facebook engagement and everything in between.

It wouldn't be hard. But I suppose, the time and energy and synergy involved in getting the companies to tie the links together would take longer and be more expensive. But I don't know - I'd think spending money to open up other avenues of income wouldn't be a bad thing?

Who can say. I'm just a lowly programmer, not a marketing executive with an MBA to make these decisions.

I hope this is a technology in evolution and not the final form of RealID. I hold out some hope.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beta? Not for me, thanks.

So, Beta opened last night, which means, based on the length of prior betas, I think we can expect to see Cataclysm dropping on live servers sometime in October. A bit long to wait, but it's good to know that we have a date in sight.

Yesterday, when I logged into game after the news broke, all my guildies were talking to each other to see if anyone golden The Golden E-mail in their mailbox and when I said I hadn't put my name up for the option, they were surprised.

See, while I don't mind reading a bit of the spoiler information, I don't mind oohing and aahing at screenshots or videos from the game, and I'm really not a fan of doing the content twice, once on the test realms and again on live. I'll be repeating it on my alts anyway, and I'd rather see it in a final polished form and enjoy it rather than having to deal about server crashes, incomplete zones, graphical glitches and all of that sort of thing.

I totally understand people wanting to be in Beta, but for me, some of the most fun I had was in playing the first few weeks after 3.0 dropped on live. Going into new zonse and dungeons on my character and panning my camera around, and reading every word of quest text - all of that was so immersive that I just lost myself in the game world for the couple of weeks it took me to get to 80 and I'm excited to repeat that process.

Anyway. If you get into the beta, awesome, I hope you have a grand time! But for me, I'll kick around Northrend a little while longer and I'll see you back in Kalimdor.