Monday, March 31, 2008

Magisters Terrace - the good and the bugged

I don't know about you but I am soooo happy to have a new 5 man to run. Especially when there's the chance to pick up a nifty mount or a vanity pet. Although I have to say I find the raucous screech of the hawkstrider most annoying hehe. Sweet lewts aside I also think MrT is a triumph of in game artwork. It's such a lovely beautifully detailed instance. It's also always a pleasure to run an instance with some greenery as opposed to the dreary 'dungeon/cave' appearance of so many of them.

Friday night a group of us got together to give MrT a drubbing. Our group was composed of a Warrior tank, Demo lock, holy priest, fire mage and yours truly. We did the normal version first to get Emelin and myself keyed and then hit it up in heroic mode. We actually did better in heroic mode - probably because after one run through Emelin and I now knew what to expect. The instance definitely benefits from a group make up possessing multiple CC ability which is what we had with sheep, banish, seduce, fear and my traps. The most exciting moment - the phoenix pet dropped! Woooo! The lucky recipient was Tiffi our mage.

The next day we were all set to run the instance on heroic again for a chance at phat loot and for myself increased rep. I've haven't spent much time looking at the loot from MrT but I'm yet to see a drop that would be a clear upgrade for me. There is a nice chestpiece but since I've just got my hands on the Ranger Generals Chestguard, apparently considered one of the best it's no upgrade. No it's the rep I want as there are several nifty Jewelcrafting designs to pick up.

So a group forms. Three party members had run the instance that morning before the reset. So we head in and clear the trash up to the first boss. Wait... where is the first boss. He was totally AWOL! But the door that opens to the next section once you down him was still shut. Hmmm. Very strange.

We head back outside and I made the stupid mistake of asking in General whether anyone had had any issues with the instance. Yup definite mistake since the responses were all about how I needed to L2P and stop QQing just because you find it too difficult. Ugh. I further explained what had happened and then had people telling me to check my raid ID. That if we dropped group and reformed under a new leader all would be fine and so on. Just to prove ourselves right we did just that. Yep as expected, the boss was still missing although the trash respawned (in this group we had a handy rogue who was able to sneakily investigate). As with any heroic we had all been saved to the instance on the same raid id without needing to kill a boss first. Reforming under a new leader and re-entering did nada. I took great satisfaction in announcing that in General although typically no-one actually listened. Great, we were saved to a borked ID and the instance wouldn't reset until the next day. I'd opened a ticket but with little hope of any quick response we decided to pick up the heroic daily and headed over to lay waste to Steamvaults.

A pleasant suprise was that a Blizz CM contacted me just as were entering StV. It seems this is a known issue and Blizz are working hard at solving it. However there was nothing they could do for us and were sorry for our inconvenience. They did tell me that the issue occured when members of the party left the instance for longer than 30-45 minutes and if this was avoided then there would be no problems. I then pointed out that none of us had left the instance and that there were 3 people who had run the instance before it reset. Therefore what I was in effect being told was the instance had not actually reset. The CM said they would add this additional info to the database.

I had read on the interwebs that raid reset information was displaying incorrectly but I hadn't thought that this applied to heroics and admittedly hadn't read the detail. Considering that heroics have a raid ID I guess I should have realised they came under the same 'jurisdiction'.

Here's hoping Blizz fix the issue soon.

Good times in Tempest Keep

So after the trials and tribulations of the arrival of patch 2.4 as previously moaned about here by yours truly the weekend shaped up pretty nicely indeed. Unfortunately it's ended rather unhappily with Emelin passing on his tummy bug to this poor hunter but let's not go there eh? I'd rather talk about the good times in Tempest Keep.

After our triumph in SSC last weekend the Drunken Badgers raid was ready and raring to go in TK. We were aiming for 3 bosses this week - Solarian, Void Reaver and Alar. Like any good raider I'd done my home work - read up on the fights and watched the youtube strategy vids. I was ready with pots and flasks and food and bandages - all the accoutrement's of a raider heading into unknown territory.

First stop Solarian. We cleared the trash and learned that rushing along at our usual headlong pace should probably wait until we've got the pulls down pat hehe. The Solarian fight was really pretty straight forward. We got her on the 4th try and as you might expect it was only Wrath that caused us any problems. Once people learned to 'run away little girl' we were sweet. Of the loot dropped was the Vambraces of Ending which suprisingly (at least to me) no one wanted. That meant they went to open roll and myself and the other hunters were up for it. I was the lucky winner - which means I've scored in both SSC and TK in our first visits there. Yay!

Next stop - Loot Reaver. We were aware of the news that Mr. Pinata had changed a little with 2.4 and orbs were no longer announced and were sometimes rising out of the floor or coming in multiples. First shot many of us got splatted by them but we learned quickly and downed him second try. Huzzah. Two of the T5 tokens for hunters, mages and warlocks dropped and there were some very happy people.

Now it was time to take on Alar. I found myself thinking that perhaps we should take on the harder bosses earlier in our raiding day as by now I was starting to feel quite tired and my ability to focus was slipping. Alar really is quite a challenging fight - but in this case mostly for the tanks. I was grateful that my main job was to unleash MQoSDPS. We gave it a few shots but were unsuccessful in downing her. We did get to phase 2 and got some good practice in for the tanks as regards positioning and reacting to quills and were pleased with that. I'm quite confident that we'll get her on our next visit.

I'm really proud of the progression our raid has made in the last two weeks and I do so enjoy learning new fights.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The huntard unleashed

I've really been looking forward to getting into the new patch 2.4 content. So many lovely new things to see and experience and my first opportunity to participate in a server wide effort to open new content since the gates to AQ were long opened on my server by the time I started playing.

I thought last night was the night but no. I'd just got in the door after work when the phone rang with our weeknight Kara raid MT asking whether the spousal unit and I would be logging on for the raid as everyone was ready to go. Righto then. Log in without taking the time to update my mods and head straight into Kara. We did almost a full clear only skipping Netherspite and by then it was laaaate and I logged pretty much directly after we downed Prince. As an aside it was a great run - probably our best yet with the Aussie group. Most probably since we had a larger than usual balance of over geared players and the other guys are getting well geared now too. DPS was totally off the wall although no one had a working damage metre to confirm it heh.

I did have one spectacular huntard moment though which the title of this post refers to. There are many excuses I could give like being tired, feeling rushed and so on but I take full responsibility for one of the worst f**k ups I can think of in my WoW career to date. We were clearing the trash before Moroes and as usual I had the MT set as my focus and smacked my assist focus macro key to focus fire on whatever mob he was wailing against. Normally I pay attention and make sure that the mob has a sunder or similiar on it so I know it's the right one (not to mention the appropriate charm mark). Not this time, no sirree, I sent the pet off to attack then realised my error, called him back and brought 2 mob packs back with him including the elite pack of dancers. Can you spell wipe? I was soooo embarrassed hehe.

So Kara done and tonight's the night I'm thinking but it seems it's not to be as not only was Curse running slow as molasses with log ins disabled - it's now completely down 'for maintenance' as per the picture. In my opinion having a 'click here to try again' link is madness as you can guarantee that people will just click spam and that ain't going to help the poor old server. So mod updating is not going smoothly. I could just log in right? Wrong. Feathermoon is down and has been for at least 30 mins as I write this although according to the log in news all servers are having rolling restarts applied to correct the apellation of server names in name plates for BGs. Seems things aren't running smoothly for the Blizz peeps.

Working in the IT industry as I do I can empathise with the pain of problems with deployment. There's nothing quite as stressful as a live roll out going wrong and with Warcraft that's some massive scale we're talking.

Fingers crossed that both Curse and Feathermoon come back online soon and I can get in some gaming. Otherwise I guess I'll... um.... I'll...


make an animated avatar about how I survived a WoW outage?

look at some lolcats?

get a life?

EEK! Elune forbid!


Guess I can go drool over some of the awesome new hunter badge loot. I like the looks of the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes yes I do precioussss. It's got a hefty 150 badge price tag but I'm pretty much almost sitting on that amount currently and there are definitely many more badge gathering opportunities in my near future. If I can log in that is.

/sad panda

Hope the rest of you are having a smoother patch 2.4 experience.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Which boss fight makes you feel the most useful?

I got thinking the other day about which boss fight makes me feel the most useful as a hunter. Useful in the sense that my performance during the fight has a really direct impact on the outcome. Perhaps this is because as a ranged DPS class it's generally my job to deliver MQoSDDPS and avoid any effects (cave in, shatter, spout etc) and that doesn't necessarily make me feel particularly crucial. Every boss fight is a team effort though that's for sure and as you progress the requirements for every single member of the raid to be on top of their game certainly increase.

So the boss that makes me feel the most useful? I'd definitely have to say Nightbane. Perhaps there are different strategies out there but the one my raid(s) has always used is where the hunter misdirects to the tank at the start of the fight and then again at the beginning of each phase. This means that I need to make sure I'm in position and ready to MD on time and have avoided getting killed by the mid phase skeleton guys while still contributing to taking them down. Nightbane is also a fight where I find that I have to really carefully watch my threat as it builds very quickly and generally if at any point the tank loses aggro on the big nasty dragon what inevitably follows is a wipe. Once we've successfully downed Nightbane I always have a real feeling of satisfaction from a job done well - more so than any other boss fight I can think of. Some of them like Netherspite or Gruul for instance I just feel happy to have stayed alive and been able to do lots of damage dealing.

The awesome screenshot above was taken by Emelin and shows our main tank Mogri bravely facing off against Nightbane with a few unfortunate corpses scattered about. I'm pleased to say I wasn't one of them! We think the golden beams shooting at Mogri are most likely Prayer of Mending doing its thing. Yay healers! /cheer.

So which boss fight makes you feel the most useful?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Our first foray into SSC and how the guild got there

Over the past month or so the Drunken Badgers have been preparing to start raiding T5 content. This has meant a few changes in our generally casual style of play. I've written before about the fairly lassez faire approach to raiding we've had in the past. Attempting and failing on Magtheridon was ultimately the writing on the wall for us. It was not so much a gear check as it was a teamwork/experience check and as a result we instituted some changes that I guess make us more your 'serious raiders'. The changes included:

Instituting a loot system
After much discussion in the forums we chose to go with Suicide Kings as from our research it appeared to meet our needs the best, be simple enough to use and be mod supported. Our raid is composed of both guild members, out of guild regulars and the odd subs. We needed a system that would reward regulars without disadvantaging subs too much but which also wouldn't result in the chasm between the two which is a problem of the DKP style systems. We trialled Suicide Kings in the last few Gruul runs and have found it works well.

Firmer leadership structure and tougher raiding requirements
Getting more serious means more work. It also means being tougher on performance and the gear required to join the raid. Therefore a raid performance monitor role was assigned to observe the work of the raid and identify weak points. Any issues identified are then referred back to a more senior member of the raid who is the same class as the person who needs some guidance. The requirements for raiding were also tightened up - gear, enchants and consumables all became more important considerations.

Stepping up recruitment
We also decided to get more serious about recruiting regulars and therefore a recruitment officer was assigned and posts were made in appropriate places about joining the raid.

Formalising raid sign ups
To date we had been using the forums and in game chat to line up people to come to the raid. Subs generally had to be online 15 minutes before go time in case a spot became available. This was tough on the subs and also often delayed raid start times if we had trouble finding the final few people required if we were down on numbers. We have now started using the mod Guild Event Manager and require players to subscribe to a particular raid event no later than the Tuesday prior. This makes it much easier to organise subs if needed.

It's funny really, I think some people thought that introducing all these changes would put people off of raiding with us. I would argue the opposite. It's been my experience both in other games and in real life teamwork/management situations that putting some structure and rules in place means that people feel more comfortable - they know you are serious about what you are doing and they feel more comfortable knowing the structures in place. Humans are funny like that. Since we've made the changes we have a firmer group of regulars with more people applying to join the raid all the time.

And this weekend we stepped into Serpentshrine Cavern as a raid for the first time. We were all prepared with flasks and elixirs and pots and food and bandages and ready for massive amounts of repeated painful death.
First cab off rank was Hydross. Most people entering SSC for the first time apparently skip Hydross and go straight for Lurker. That's not the badger way. He was there so let's give him a shot. So we did. And downed him on the second try. Yup. The. Second. Try. We were justifiably proud of ourselves. First time visit and we nailed the sonofagoat. This is in no small part to the work the tanks and off tanks did in getting their frost and nature resist gear together.

Full of high spirits we boogied on over to Lurker. Finally yes finally my 372 fishing skill came in handy hehe. It turned out that Lurker was the more difficult of the fights for us as everyone got used to jumping in and out of the water for spout. We got him in the end but it was on the 7th attempt. Still and all 2/6 SSC on our first visit? Stoked!

And to add to the awesomeness of that experience yours truly picked up a nice new chest piece. WOOT!!!

Next week we are hitting up Tempest Keep as we plan to alternate between SSC and TK week to week. Will be interesting to see if we fare as well in TK as we did in SSC and whether we can keep up the roll in SSC. Leo we're coming for you!

Purple birdy!

Back at the beginning of February I posted about my game goals. One of which was to attain my epic flying skill on the way to my uber-goal of a Netherdrake mount. I'm pleased and excited that I recently (a couple of weeks ago my blogging has been terribad I know) was finally able to head on down to Wildhammer Stronghold to visit the flying skill trainer and select a super fast birdy all my own. Purple is my favourite colour and so of course I chose the very lovely Swift Purple Gryphon.
Isn't he gorgeous?

Of course this was only the beginning. Let Netherwing rep grinding commence! So would sayeth BRK and so was it done (hehe).

Doing the Netherwing reputation quests involves being disguised as an Orc. Now I have a small insight to the world of Ratshag. Albeit a red rather than green insight. The urge to hit things with my axe and call everything a fuggernumper was overwhelming. Not to mention the amount of attention my incredibly virile form earned from the locals. I had to learn to be pretty hand with the old Netherdrake mount to evade their attentions. Did I mention part of the disguise involves a Netherdrake mount? Squeee! Ahem that wasn't very orcl-like. I mean yargghhh. Yeah thats more like it. My orc persona even looks good in the oven mitts! Well as good as anyone can hope to look in those atrocities of style.
I've been farming assiduously and am now honoured as of this weekend which means you get to race a series of guys on their mounts. Probably one of the most challenging things I've ever attempted outside of instances in the game. I've beaten the first three and am currently racing Wing Commander Ichman.

A pleasant side effect of doing all these dailies is the gold which will come in handy to pay back a friendly dwarf warrior I know who was kind enough to lend me the remaining 1k gold I needed to get my epic flying skill. I got a little impatient, he had pots of money lying around (typical dwarf!) and frankly my ability to quickly farm ore has gone through the roof with my speedy birdy so I should be able to pay him back very quickly.

Ve vill haf compliance!

I'd like to dedicate this post to Mr BRK just because I know how fond he is of the particular item of head wear my little magey has equipped in the picture below. I like to think that Katiya is looking particularly dashing as she salutes. Hopefully dashing and also militant enough to drive fear into the hearts of murlocs everywhere.

Katiya has now attained the mighty heights of 41, in no small thanks to friendly guildies who have been kind enough to run her through a few instances. I sometimes wonder if this is doing my learning of the mage class a disservice since I haven't really had to pull my weight in your typical 5-man as I've been leveling. I'm fairly confident that I'm getting the hang of things though.

Turning 40 was exciting for two reasons.

Firstly, I got in contact with my friendly dwarf paladin bank mule (got to level 4 before I gave up on her) and arranged for the purchase of my beautiful Black Stallion. Note to the wise: The lumbercamp in Elwynn is the place to get your riding skill but to get the black stallion head over to Menethil Harbour and the horse breeder near the stables. He always has a black stallion available.Secondly I reached the talent Ice Barrier in the frost tree. This spell is my new very bestest friend. It makes soloing soooo much easier and more efficient.

I also completed my mage quests so Kat is running around with her shiny new frost wand. If things keep on this way Katiya will soon pass poor Sephiroh who is currently mouldering in Outlands at 61.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trolls have no fashion sense

The Drunken Badgers raid has of late been running a regular raid where we do our Gruul farm and then split into 2 groups and head over to ZA for some troll slaying fun. Sadly, or perhaps happily we will be starting our push into SSC and TK as of next week so there will be no more chance for ZA loots (at least until my weeknight Aussie Kara run gears up enough people that we can start ZA anyway). We can happily say that we are 6/6 in ZA, although only with one of the groups - the one I wasn't in sadly.

Anyway that's not the point of this post, the point in fact is like the title says: trolls have no fashion sense and damn it neither does Gruul.

Upgrades had been few and far between for yours truly recently, for PVE gear anyway, the PVP gearing has continued nicely (more on that in another post). However on a recent run I was lucky (lucky? well you decide) to pick up the Gauntlets of the Dragonslayer from our grumpy friend Gruul, which were pretty much an upgrade on my T4 gloves and let's face it does anyone actually care about the set bonuses for the hunter T4 set? Didn't think so. So I was rather pleased with the lewtz and slapped a couple of +8 agi gems and the AP enchant on them. And then I equipped them.

ZOMFG they look like freaking OVEN MITTS!

Now I'm all for some colourful raiment, I love the gear that the finger wrigglers (to borrow an awesome description from Ratshag) get around in. Hunter gear however is generally of your more drab variety. Which is fitting to the idea of a hunter being out and about in the wild, blending in to the environment to stalk and kill our prey. So WTF is up with these gloves?


I mean sure they could be a great fashion accessory as I serve you up some crunchy Tyrantus ribs but they seriously destroy any sense of coordination to my outfit and a girl wants to look her best you know?

And then, to add insult to injury I get a further drop in ZA - the Pauldrons of Primal Fury. Yes an upgrade to my T4 shoulders but yet another blow to my ideal of the fashionable hunter. If I was a troll hunter this look would be pimpin', if I was a dwarf those big broad shoulders would perhaps help me get away with it. But on a skinny boingy eared Nelf? Um no. Decidedly not. And combined with the T4 helm? Hideous doesn't even begin to describe it.
Here's hoping I get some drops in SSC and TK that are more.... harmonious..

It's not the size... ok well maybe it is.

This is for you Xtian!That baby sure is one big fugghernumper of an axe eh?

In other weaponry news, yes you (that's the general you) may buy me one of these for my birthday/Christmas/just because I'm awesome: Frostmourne!

Yes I'm a girl, perhaps that's not a very girly present, but I dare you to say that to my face if I'm weilding that puppy!

I promised myself I would never blog about RL

And I really am determined to avoid it. Although I confess I just love reading TJ's blog about the truly strange and amusing (perhaps more to us than her) things that seem to occur to her on an almost daily basis.

That said, I did the LJ thing a few years back and before that kept written journals for a long time. And frankly nothing incredibly interesting really happens in my life.

But I want to apologise for my lack of posts and that means a reference to me the player behind the boingy eared night elf.

So I say sorry to the 2 or 3 of you who read this blog but RL has been a little crazy of late with work getting busier, a mother in hospital (she'll be fine) a fuller social calendar than usual (it's festival season here and there is theatre and live music to be seen!)and of course my Warcraft with raiding, arena, PVP and alt levelling taking up my time.

I have a plethora of different screenshots and a list of blog topics in hand and hope to get back to some more regular posting soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hotkeys or Clickity?

If you've been following along up until now you may have noticed references in my posts to key bindings and what not. Basically I am a hot key fiend. I like to have as much as possible bound to my keyboard. It is for this reason that I have the lovely G15 gaming keyboard.

It's interesting to me that Emelin who has been playing FPS style games since forever has a completely different playstyle from me. He ascribes to the 'clicker' school.

Move around using the the WASD keys - plus strafing using Q & E. Points and clicks to activate spells etc.

Move around using the mouse and bind keys to use different abilities and macros.

Since I'm firmly in the butan stabbing camp I'll give you my reasoning for why I prefer this style

  1. Quick reaction times.
    I don't have to move my cursor to the point I want to click except for some out of combat things that I haven't bothered to hot key - like activating profession windows and the like. I can pretty much touchtype so I don't need to look at my keyboard while playing and keep 'like' items grouped so that I don't need to move my hand around too much while in combat.

  2. Cleaner UI
    Because I can bind so many things to hot keys (especially with the G15 swoon) I don't need to have all those buttons appear on my screen. I use the bongos2 mod and set up some actions bars with abilities and etc which I bind keys to and then set the bar to invisible. This is great when you are using several macros as well.

  3. Better movement
    When using the mouse to move you also have the ability to use the camera independent of the direction you are facing/moving. For instance I do this in BGs a lot when I'm on defence and scanning my surroundings for possible 'incs'. I also have the button 'v' bound to reverse camera so I can quickly see if X mob/horde toon is still chasing me.

Since I happen to have 3 toons that have reached a reasonable level this works well with the 3 different 'slots' for the 18 extra keys you have per slot with the G15. My slot for Jezrael is completely full with each key bound to an ability or macro. I have more macros key binds I want to set up too! Recently I've decided I want a hotkeyyed macro to turn growl on or off as I have been finding I am doing this quite a bit lately via clicking.

/play Intermission Music

I started this post about a week ago and since then I've been playing my mage a fair bit which has got me thinking.

I'm wondering whether the efficacy of clicking vs hotkeying is also impacted by the class you play. What I have noticed with my mage is that I will move around a lot more - in particular running in and out of melee range to drop arcane explosions and frost novas before returning to range. I've found it more effective to use the WASD keys to move around in this fashion - which therefore means I am using my other hand to trigger the keybound effects. This means I don't have that hand free for utilising the camera via my mouse.

On my druid I have found hotkeying to be fine - and especially good when I am tanking and need to use the camera to keep an eye on other mobs around my big bear butt (yes that is a purposeful reference to BBB one of my favourite feral druid bloggers).

I wonder what thoughts other people have? What's your experience? Do you think I'm smoking crack or just playing it? Teehee. Get it? Warcrack?