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Archive for May, 2010

Friday night is Reversion and my’s “ICC Pug Roulette” night. Some weeks we join someone else’s pug, some weeks we build our own. Sometimes we steamroll through six bosses and look at new content, sometimes we… don’t. Last night was, well…

First problem was that none of the people we’ve pugged with recently were online and available. The few I did whisper had real life obligations. So other than one guild member’s alt, this was going to be a total pug.

I started asking in Trade. Got whispers too. One was  a DK I checked out on the Armory. When I saw he had no experience in ICC and a bunch of slots that had 200 gear, I turned him down. He kept whispering me: “Cmon, I’ll be good”, “Please please take me”. Finally I told him we were full on melee (more or less true) and he gave up. Then he started spamming Trade himself, finally including “4500 gearscore” in his message, at which point I had to tell him flat out that nobody was going to take him with that gear and he should go run the new heroics for more gear. Gearscore may be overrated, but it does tell you when someone does not know what content is appropriate to their gear.

Anyhow, we slowly build up. Get a pally tank who looks solid, says he’s good, and then adds, “I know the fights up to Marrowgar”. Reversion laughs, and then it quickly turns to “…” as we realize he’s serious. Well, everyone learns somewhere so Reversion starts whispering to him while I keep building. No healers, anywhere. Finally I take a solid shaman – we wanted one of those anyway – and an undergeared tree and we start.

Trash isn’t bad, except when I pop out to fill the tenth slow (we had someone who said they were coming and then wouldn’t) and they activated a trap and half the raid wiped. Ooops. Someone dropped after that so I grabbed two dps out of trade and we went back.

First bad sign: clearing the Deathbound Wards, the pugged tank refused to stand on Reversion (instead Reversion had to eat the whole cleave) and stood to one side, ….casting Exorcism. I called him on it. “But it automatically crits!” he says. “Don’t ever use anything with a cast time when you’re tanking!” I told him, and he meekly agreed. Reversion explains what “stack” means, why it’s important, and how to do the Marrowgar fight. The guy says he understand and we start.

It’s a disaster. Right from the start, the tank is nowhere near Reversion. Because he’s not there, a melee guy bites the dust, right off. “Stack on Reversion!” I yell as I frantically heal the Cleaves. Fortunately Reversion’s got enough health to eat them but since we don’t have a ‘real’ tank healer, I’m having to work hard to keep him up. The undergeared tree was down, leaving me and the shaman to keep people alive. Then the shaman drops – a bone spike, fire, and me working on Reversion were the end of her. But! She pops back up by the power of Reincarnate and we’re back at work. I Brez the other tree, heal her, and look away; she’s down again almost immediately, I have no idea how.

For the next eight minutes Reversion and I experience a sense of “how bad can this get… how awesome can we be” as we dodge fire, stay alive, and marvel at the Other Tank. Picture this:

Marrowgar at the door, hitting a sad lonely bear. Most of the dps and heals behind him. One mage off way to the other side, on a bone spike. And the Other Tank… standing at the bone spike… hitting it with his mace.

About five minutes in Reversion and I are talking about how we are going to kick this tank and that we’re going to intentionally wipe if it looks like we might somehow pull this off so we can be fair to whoever we get to replace him. Not that there’s much chance of this; we’re down to 6 players left alive and that means only 2 dps are up. Marrowgar’s health is going down very… very… slowly.

One of the dead guys, a hunter, say, “Well thanks for the invite guys” and drops group. I didn’t have time to say anything to him but I thought that was pretty rude behavior when we hadn’t even finished wiping, so I didn’t bother to whisper him and tell him we were getting a new tank. DPS are a dime a dozen on Friday nights.

Finally with a minute left on the enrage timer the other healer goes down, and then me, and it’s over. The Other Tank says something like “Urgh” and I kick him. Maybe it was vindictive, but we had shouted multiple times in the raid “[Tank] stack on Reversion!” “Stand on the bear!” “Get over here!”, etcetera. He had claimed to understand the strategy, had failed, and that was it. So I told the raid I was going to Dalaran and asking for “1 dps any type if you can pull 2.5k and not stand in fire, 1 tank who knows the first four fights”. In three seconds in trade I had a tank, Dwarfpally, whisper me. And then another hunter and we were off – not so fast; the undergeared tree decided to leave without a word. I sighed and picked up another dps; there were just no focus healers to be had and we really didn’t need another raid healer.Ms. Shaman Healer and I would just have to work it out.

Marrowgar went down so fast it wasn’t funny. Nobody died. Bone spikes were nuked down. People stood in the right place. This tank actually got in Vent, discussed strategies with Reversion, and knew what he was doing. The other healer was awesome and I told her so.  We moved on, cleared out Deathwhisper’s adds, and started on her.

Well, the mage starts whispering me during the trash “What time is it?”

“8:30″, I whisper back, puzzled over what he means.

“Lol thanks watch broke. AM?”

“Um, pm,” I reply. I have no idea what he’s on about. Surely you can tell the difference between AM and PM? Even if he was from some different time zone, why would he ask me?

I’m pretty sure that this was related to why, thirty seconds into the pull, he dc’d.

So we’re 9-manning it. Goes well until someone doesn’t listen when we shout (vent and raid) “STOP DPS” because we don’t want Deathwhisper down while there are adds up… and it happens anyway. The other healer gets cursed, I was too slow to dispell it, and we wipe.

I kick the dc’d mage and we get a friend who had just come online to come. Deathwhisper goes down this time. Head for lootship, no comment on that fight. Is there ever? Except Reversion mistimed his last jump and went down with the ship. Heh.

And now we faced Saurfang, Destroyer of Pugs. I don’t even know where to start. Punchline first; he didn’t die. Not the first time, not the eighth time. One attempt, we had 5 blood beasts running around. I didn’t know that was possible. Once I look over and see the shaman healing herself as a blood beast hits her. “KITE IT!” I yell. She didn’t know that you had to not get hit; she said every time she’d done this fight, the dps killed them before they got to her.

It was largely an issue of dps not burning down and controlling adds, with a side of not enough heals. A shaman and a druid just have trouble keeping up two tanks plus one or more marks during that fight. I was constantly kiting adds around and mis-timing heals. I know I contributed to the fails but am convinced it was largely a dps coordination issue.

It ended up being a frustrating end to the night. I’m still optimistic about once a week pugged raids, though. The more people we pug with, the more I have stored in friends to ask. One of these days the buff will go up again and we’ll get farther. These days we can usually get past Saurfang.

Anyway from now on I will be advertising:

“LFM ICC10 need tank who knows what ‘stack’ means”. I didn’t think it was that hard…

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Worpress ate a big chunk of my Multi-pulls Part 2 post I have to spend time rebuilding that. In the mean time here is a post that has been sitting in draft for a while….

It can be really hard when you’re healing a pugged tank to figure out what he’s doing. Why exactly does he run up to some groups, while ducking around corners for others? Why does the fight get moved around halfway through? And why didn’t he see those mobs that ate me?

Assuming the tank is doing things for a good reason (not always a safe assumption), you can guess what he’s thinking by what he’s doing. Keeping one step ahead of the tank is the key to keeping him alive. Ever been getting a heal off on a tank who’s at the edge of your range, only to have him charge a mob and go out of range just as the heal would have landed? Annoying, but as a healer we need to know to move forward so that the farthest off mobs are still in our healing range.

Here’s a diagram representing the area the tank can see. He can see lots in front of him, and a little behind him depending on how scrolled in his camera view is.

Most fights, the melee dps will be right up next to the tank. He can see what they’re doing, no problem. Instinctively, the ranged dps and healer will be behind him, closer to where the previous fight is. Most pulls go like this: Tank runs in, starts fight, melee run in, ranged and healer move as close as they need to to get their spells off, things die, healer and ranged move in to loot, tank goes ahead again. It’s sort of a slow motion leapfrog.

Here we have added a circle showing the tank’s AOE threat area. Any mobs standing in this will be getting some damage and threat from the tank, whether or not he specifically targets them. How much depends on how much aoe damage and threat he does; lots from a paladin tank, less from warriors and bears. But see how the healer is standing well away from that aoe threat area?

Oops, here comes a pat – it sees you standing back there waving your branches and decides you look tasty. What to do?

Option 1: run away. But this puts distance between you and the tank. It’s his job to get the adds off you, but taking them away from him makes this harder. He might not have time before you’re dead, or he might not even notice.

On the other hand, if you run IN to where the fight is, as soon as the adds get to the tank’s AOE threat area, they’ll start getting aggro from the tank instead of you. The tank may still need to taunt them, but it makes things a lot easier for him.

This goes for when you’re dpsing too; mages have a really bad tendency to run away, take mobs with them, and then frost nova and blink out. Usually leaving the mobs next to someone else who doesn’t really want them either. Instead, run to the tank. Frost nova them there and everyone’s happy!

Line of Sight Pulls are really popular for bears especially since they don’t have a ranged silence. Pay attention if your tank is trying one!

Why is he hiding behind the corner here?

What does LOS mean exactly?

Come on, he’s trying to get you to cooperate here… what more do you need?

Oops. Well… maybe the paladin will rez you after this fight…

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Edge toward the door

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Only made four levels on the noobs yesterday, even with triple XP. I thought I’d take a post and explain a few points about Recruit-a-Friend leveling with regards to established paired players, but first, our story:

Over lunch we made two levels in Darkshire killing some skeletons. Reversion works really close to the house so we can get forty minutes of playtime in if I’ve got lunch ready to go when he gets home. Usually we run an instance; right now, it’s easy to get a level or two on our RAF noobies. Run around, nom some food, ding. It’s that easy.

About four o’clock in the afternoon the power went out for a second. It does that around here kind of a lot. One of the many reasons that the power company may be my most despised utility. They have to beat out the internet provider and that’s a daily competition. Whose commercials do I hear more on the radio that day? Do I have to call up and yell at the internet guys that no, we don’t have cable tv, we don’t want cable tv, I don’t care if it’s only $5 more, go away and die. Or… do we get stupid unexplained power outages.

I get up, check all the parts of our network, turn my computer back on (I know, I need a UPS. Bleah) and wait… there’s a blinking yellow light on the new Airport Express that runs the gaming rigs’ half of the network. Ugh. I find the tool I want on Reversion’s Mac (we’re a mixed marriage; Catholic Mac fan to Presbyterian Windows user) and try restoring settings. It doesn’t work, I decide I’ll leave it and just play with the Nomster. She’s cuter anyway.

Reversion gets home, we set the network back up. He logs into WoW as I try to figure out why my machine isn’t getting a connection. I plug some  cables back into the switch. The network goes down.

We spend the next hour or more trying to figure out why, now, we can’t see the devices we could see before. Finally in the midst of brainstorming, Reversion looks at the switch… where I’ve plugged both ends of one cable in. Making a loop. This is a Bad Thing. I know it’s a Bad Thing. I have a masters degree in Computer Science. In grad school, I was a systems admin for our department. Go ahead, point and laugh.

Evening’s pretty much shot but we log on for 45 minutes, get two levels, pick up some flight points, and chat a little with folks that are on in SAN. It’s really cool saying Hi to people you know from blogs. Way more fun leveling up over there.

Anyway. The actual content of this post is about RaF leveling in pairs. First, a warning. Please don’t get your girlfriend an RaF account and nag her into playing WoW with you. Leveling goes too darn fast. She’s likely to end up with a level 60 character she has no idea how to play, a whirlwind trip across half of Azeroth, and a bad taste in her mouth. Honestly the best approach there is to let her develop an interest in the game and then use RaF to power level a character she wants to play, if you’re determined to use RaF at all.

Ok, that out of the way, RaF is great for pairs who play together and want to power level some alts. Decide who gets the new account and who is the ‘veteran’ player. The Veteran will get the loot (sweet rocket ride) so you may have to do this twice to make sure nobody gets left out ;-) Anyway the Veteran emails an invitation to the other member of the pair, who clicks the link in the email to create a linked account.

You can have this linked account on the same Battle.net account as your real WoW account. You just have to be on a separate Battle.net account from the Veteran account.

Now, this new account is a trial account. It can’t level past 20, or trade, or join a guild, or whisper people, or invite to groups. Thank your friendly neighborhood gold sellers for this one. If you are doing this to get the mount, what you do next is buy two game time cards or time card codes – these you can buy from Blizzard’s online store – activate your account as a real account, and apply the time cards. Now you have an active account with three months of playtime on it. When you add the first month of playtime, the Veteran account receives one month free playtime. When you add the second month, the Veteran gets the rocket mount.

The rocket can only go to one character on the Veteran account. You select which from the RaF website showing what rewards you’ve received, and the character gets the rocket in in-game mail.

A note about upgrading from a trial account to a real one: the leveling restriction is removed right away but the other restrictions may take a while. I upgraded mine around noon Saturday and did not get an email saying that the upgrade was complete until late Sunday. Meanwhile, I’d dinged 25 and was seriously hurting for cash.

Thanks to triple XP leveling speed, you need to train all the darn time and you have to do so little questing, you just don’t have money.  For this reason you might want to make the new characters on a server where you have friends or other characters who can loan you cash. Don’t bother taking gather skills and trying to mine your way to gold; you level way too fast for that. Fortunately we had a hundred gold or so on Argent Dawn already thanks to our previous time in SAN.

More RAF details: you have to be grouped together to get the bonus XP, and fairly close . Watch carefully, you don’t want to miss any of that precious precious XP! Pick up the “Kill Ten X” quests and not so much the “Bring me 18 tongues” quests. Takes too long. Plan ahead and pick up quests for instances, then run the instance and do all the quests. You’ll probably only go once before it’s not worth it for XP.  We did Stockades with the full set of 6 quests. By the time we could even get the Wetlands quest, some of them were green. Between running Stocks and turning in, we got four levels.

Strategize: once per hour each of you can summon the other to where you are. Set your hearthstones in different locations and use it as a quick travel method. (One at the trainer, one at the quest hub works nicely). Train every fourth level, or you’ll be running back to the trainer all the time. And look for quests that reward gear…

The newbie character can grant levels to a character on the veteran account, one level per every two that the newbie has. So if the newbie runs a character up to 60, he can grant 30 levels to a veteran character. To do this you have to be in the same location so it’s same server only.

You also gain a little more reputation than otherwise, I think it’s 10% extra. Just FYI.

So why would you want to do this? There’s the mount, of course. There’s having some level 60 characters fast – nice for figuring out if you actually like a playstyle, since many characters don’t really handle like they will at endgame until at least 40 if not 60. If you want a stable of alts on another server, this works well.

Cost: $20 for the new account plus $30 game time if you’re doing the two months = $50. If you’re paying for the veteran account from the same budget, subtract the $15 of free time the veteran receives = $35.  Any characters you transfer off of the newbie account are $25. I’ll probably just abandon mine  and we’ll RaF again so I can get a mount and permanent characters.

So far: our characters are level 34 and our /played time is something like 16 hours, and that includes leaving WoW logged in and walking away.

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Stockades are Srs Bznz

As Reversion mentioned yesterday, we are Refer-a-Friend levelling again. I’ve got a warlock and he’s got a mage. Never got a lock past 30 – they just combine all the things I don’t like about hunters with the survivability of a mage and then go emo to boot – but I figure I might like it at higher levels so why not see on a totally disposable character?

Anyway, we picked up all the Stockades quests and as the first one was going green, queued for Stocks. Fifteen minute queue times are not my norm  but signing up without a tank or healer, you take what you can get.

The tank starts pulling pretty much the instant we get there. I frantically start trying to share quests – manage to get the first one shared just before we killed the guy it was for, so yay. I notice the bear tank is avoiding most of the rooms on either side. He heads down the hall, then turns right and clears that way. He stops in every door, looks in. If there’s a chest in the room, he charges in, clears the room, and takes the loot. Yeah, ok, so the greens get rolled on but not the white items and at this level every little bit of money helps.

We steamroll through, me being torn between life tapping and annoying the healer. I hate life tapping locks… and now I am one. It’s that or use my wand. Which I did, sometimes. The tank sure isn’t letting us drink.

All this time, the tank has not said one word. The other puggers said “thanks” when I shared quests or “chest” if they saw one – it didn’t matter, the tank had already seen it and opened it – or “pat”. The tank? Not so much.

We went and killed the end boss and got the “Dungeon Complete!” mark as I hurriedly looked for quests I hadn’t yet shared… ah there it was, the one of the guy at the end of the other corridor. I shared it, said “He’s down the other hall” and wonder of wonders, the tank accepted my quests and charged down.

I looked at my other quests. I was very short on the “Collect 10 Bandanas” and we weren’t getting enough Convicts and Prisoners for Quell the Uprising. I told Reversion and he started pulling extra mobs out of other rooms, running them to the tank and frost novaing them in place. The tank says nothing to this. I ask in chat if we can get more of them for my quest. Nothing.

We kill the named guy, loot his head. The Stockades has more “Bring back his head/hand/whatever so I know he’s dead” quests than anywhere else in the game, I think. I’m sure my bags were dripping gore… let’s not ask about where I was keeping my Conjured Rye bread. Anyway, the tank drops, followed by the healer and the other dps. Reversion and I sigh. I pulled out the voidwalker and we assessed what we still needed; 1 convict, 4 prisoners, and 7 bandanas between us.

We went back along and found rooms that had only a couple guys left in them and played it real safe. Reversion would sheep pull, or aggro using a small damage spell. I’d set my voidwalker on whoever came out of the room, we burned them down, used Frost Nova to keep them from running, and ate between every fight. Fortunately we were level 28 and they were mostly 23 and 24; if they’d been our level it would have been a lot harder, but we downed them and Rev got all his bandanas. I was short three so we kept it up. Only came close to death once, in a room with three guys and very stubborn sheep.

Job done, we left the instance and started turning in. Dinged twice just turning in quests. Triple XP is awesome. Of course our gear is getting really ridiculously bad, we’re on a server where we don’t have any high level alts to bankroll us and you can’t really level gathering skills using RAF since you skip out of zones so darn fast. Oh well. We’ve got training money and our mounts anyway.

PS – these alts are in SAN on Argent Dawn, Profusion the Mage and Invariant the Warlock.

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Slowing him down

Corporate Raider

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Alts X 2

Because it is not possible to have too many alts, and because the rocket is too freaking cool, we have recruit-a-friend going right now. We had been planning to do it since the rocket announcement and were just waiting until after kid’s weeks. So now Approximate has a new two person flying mount and we are grinding up soon noobies in Singal Abstract Noun.
Profusion and Invariant (mk2) are the pair, a mage and a lock. The times I tried a mage they always felt too squishy in contrast to my hunter. Dying a lot gets old. It helps to have the levels fly past with the RAF bonuses though. Still, we did find out the hard way on Sunday that that this pair simply can’t AOE level mobs 3 levels higher. Our last leveling pairs have been bear/tree, pally/boomkin and warrior/priest so we got a bit spoiled. Still, we are finding the right pace for two glass cannons.
We just dinged 26 over lunch. The plan this time is to grind to 60 just about every class we don’t already have alts. It will probably take a second RAF pair (getting Analogue the rocket too) in order to get them all. But we do have it for 3 months so we might as well make the most of it.
Last time we did RAF was with our druid pair (Reversion and Analogue). That time we were too pumped druiding to go back and use RAF on any other pairs. This time we will do better and get the most out of it. I am still not sure which classes I will use level granting and which I will actually grind.
Fortunatly on the SAN server we had already leveled a few characters to between 7 and 14. That is not much, but by using gather professions and a good auction addon we already had 50 or 100 gold (not sure how much. She keeps the checkbook).
Getting all the new 60s to 80 will be a chore. We certainly will not do them all at once and we are sure to be more sick of the Outlands than ever before. At least the instances anyway. The warrior I most recently ran though there only actually did something like 26 quests in the whole place. That was without even running Slabs, Dark Portal, any of the tempest keep 5 mans or magister’s terrace.
It goes pretty fast if you don’t grind without rested. With multiple alts at 60 that should be easy.

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