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Archive for June, 2010

SAN Weekend Raiding Update

We were hoping to raid with SAN Saturday afternoon, but we had issues getting people to fill slots, a narrow time window- basically, it wasn’t going to work so we agreed to try again Sunday. Later that evening, Reversion and I signed back on to try to recruit guildies to go visit UBRS and BWL for some classic WoW fun times. We got a great turnout!

Me – Divergent – as the paladin tank
Rev – on Consolidate with leet druid heals
HairyGiblets - the hunter
Daruma and Rogerstring - our shamans
Missholloway - an almost-level-appropriate paladin
Delwyn the Rogue – level 72 at the time I think
Invariant - my 58 warlock on the RAF account, along to give soulstones and that’s about it.

We wandered into Blackrock Spire and headed for the Upper part, slaying all who stood in our way. First notable accomplishment: the whelp room! We turned off Retribution Aura, made the shamans wait to throw totems, I ran around clicking eggs like crazy then we AOE’d and boom, filled Guild chat with achievement spam. Lots of Jenkins titles that night!

We finished tearing along through UBRS and found the BWL entrance. I zoned in, then back out since I wanted us to get the UBRS achievement and we hadn’t yet. Tip: zoning out of BWL and back in sets you at the entrance to BRS and you have to run all the way back…

Anyway, we killed the end boss for UBRS and proceeded into Blackwing Lair. None of us had been here before and we weren’t sure what to expect. We figured out we needed to mind control and have the big dragon kill eggs, but wiped twice trying to get the hang of it. Finally we realized that you really just need to ignore the adds because if you kill them they keep spawning. So I worked my butt off to aggro all the adds, Consolidate healed me, the boss, the raid, whoever, and the guildies took turns mind controlling the boss. They did great, I avoided killing the boss when he wasn’t mind controlled (I think I did that one of our wipes) and with a great sense of accomplishment, he went down.

You don’t have to take my word for it either! Hairygiblets videoed our fight and linked it on his blog: here

Oh, another tip: Our first wipe, we didn’t have to run back because Daruma Reincarnated. Our second wipe, we all died, and Consolidate volunteered to run back. Unfortunately, ALL the trash in UBRS had respawned and he and Hairygiblets had to fight their way back in. It seems like there’s a really short respawn timer. Actually the bosses and stuff were back too. I’m not sure what was going on there.

Having passed the first test, we were ready to see more. So we poked our heads into the next room and found a corrupted red dragon who needed to be put out of his misery. He has an annoying mechanic though; he puts a dot on someone, and after a couple seconds, they die from it. No ifs, ands, or buts. Every third dot goes to a tank… so we had a really limited window to get him down, and we didn’t. Got him about halfway. Unfortunately it was quite late so we called it. Next time we’ll bring more bodies as dot-soaking-targets.

A very fun little evening, though!

Sunday afternoon as promised, guild members signed on. We ended up with only five of us; Divergent, Consolidate, Hairygiblets, Datq the resto shaman and Daruma, so we picked up puggers and went to ICC, with me healing and Consolidate tanking this time.

Hairy got some video from this too.

To summarize, we made trash die, we one-shotted the first three bosses, we went to Saurfang, has blood beast issues like you’d expect with multiple first time people (some of the puggers were new too I think) and then a top dps’er ragequit, and some of us were running out of time so we called it.

Again, this raiding with SAN is a lot of fun and anyone who has a spare 80 or is looking for somewhere to role an alt could do worse than joining a blogger guild. Guild chat is never dull!

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Loophole

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At the entrance to our subdivision, there’s a cult – well, a particular religious sect that is widely regarded as a cult and known for knocking on doors. Back around Christmas, they knocked down their old building and since then, Fridays and Saturdays they’re out there building their new one.

It’s really funny because they look exactly like how cults always do in WoW – little knots of 2-5 people standing around just far enough from the next knot that you can take it out. One or two patrolling around. And just like in WoW, while from a distance it vaguely looks like they’re doing things, when you really watch them you realize they’re basically just standing there.

Always funny when something in real life reminds you of a game so strongly…

I wonder whether they drop anything good?

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Here’s a secret: I loved the Zombie Apocalypse. Probably because I was mostly fooling around at that point. My mage was at 70 and pvp geared out. My druid was leveling along merrily and I just wasn’t into other alts at that point. I was excited about Wrath coming out soon and the leadup events were the most fun I’d had in WoW so far. See, I wasn’t around for the Opening of AQ. This was my first big world event. I went out and killed cultists merrily and when the zombies started running around – oh my, that was fun! It was even fun being a zombie and going around nomming people.

I even had a narrow escape, just barely hopping on a flight point in Darkshire before they got my brains… oh, that was fun. I know a lot of people complained and yes, I can see why, but I loved the whole thing. It helped that as part of our own little “so what’s this Lich King thing about anyway?” Reversion had bought me a copy of WC3 so I could play through the lore. (Secret fact: I kind of suck at RTS games. Civ 3 is more my style. Even in Sims my people tend to all start burning down the house at once.)

So I’m totally thrilled that this time it looks like we’re getting even more immersion, more world events – man. My mage can’t wait to help retake Gnomeraggon for her kin. She’s also hoping there might be a pet. My druid wants to whack cultists over the head. I’m loving WoW right now – we avoid major WoW burnout by catering to minor burnout days/weeks whenever they come up. No official raiding schedule means when we want a night off, we get it – but I’m excited about the changes too…

I just hope Cataclysm releases at a good time for us. Reversion is going to save some vacation days for a Wowcation, my brother is hoping to ditch school and come visit us (good timing for him, he’s certain to be back from Iraq before it releases) – heck by then Nomster might be at “sit in the high chair and color while Mommy slaughters things” stage. But I’m excited for the whole thing, not just the “yay Wrath is over” but the whole big world changing events. Can’t wait to see what Blizz has planned for us.

High priority in Cata, besides fast leveling my main, slow leveling my alts, and staying raid capable? Race change for my Draeni priest. She’s going to be a gnome! Yay!

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The other night, we felt like doing something different from the usual, so I suggested it would be a good time to take our occasionally-discussed trip to Molten Core. While Reversion had been inside a few times back in the day, on his hunter, I didn’t raid at all until WotLK and had set foot in the place only once, back when Wrath was new – and that attempt didn’t go anywhere.

So we flew out there. I knew I’d want Analogue for the attempt, and we weren’t sure whether Reversion should take his hunter or his druid so he started on the hunter. I activated my boomkin spec but left on most of my healing gear; hit wasn’t a concern since everything would be lower level than me, and my healing set far outpaces my boomkin set. I did equip my Nibelung (everyone has one of those I think; I got mine for 500 gold in a GDKP) and switched out my Abacus trinket for one that didn’t have a healing proc.

We did the first few corehounds and decided to get Reversion the druid instead of Approximate the hunter; Approximate’s pet just couldn’t hold aggro. That worked better; things died fast, Reversion held aggro and barely needed healing at all, and I could get in a proper Eclipse rotation.

So there we were in Molten Core, two druids where 40 man packs used to tread. We could skip a lot of trash. Most of it ignored us as we walked by, even when I fell into the lava and had to find a way out.

The first pair of bosses was in a room with giant packs of corehounds. A note of warning about these corehounds; they were one of the two spots we had trouble with, because you have to kill the whole pack at once or they come back up. Don’t do what we did and take the boss and two packs. It worked, mostly because my healing gear gave me insane mana regen rates, but I think it took ten minutes to finally get them all dead at once. AOEs are your friend here.

The denizens of Molten Core are an eclectic bunch of firey corehounds, firey elementals, firey imps, and firey Nagas. (I was a bit surprised at that last). The color scheme is a rather unrelenting brown, gray, and red. While it has it’s own charm, it’s not the sort of place I’d build a summer home.

There’s also ten bosses, all of which have to be killed. The first 8 sitting on runes on the ground and you can’t get the penultimate boss to appear until you get them all. And he summons Ragnaros for you so you kind of need him. If you’re thinking of your own Molten Core adventure, check out wowwiki: http://www.wowwiki.com/Molten_Core and think about your own strategies.

The other spot where we had trouble was with Baron Geddon, a fire elemental. He does a Living Bomb effect on one of his targets which kicks them high into the air. The room he is in has a very, very high ceiling. You take a lot of fall damage. We died to him because we didn’t pay attention to him. We came back and fought him in the corridor leading to his room; now we weren’t taking hardly any fall damage at all.

After him it was just a matter of finding the rest of the guys to kill. Aided by Reversion’s dim recollections and internet resources, we found everyone and then went to confront Majordomo Executus. He’s a big wimp and when you kill his friends, he surrenders. You then go meet him by Ragnaros’s pit and he summons Ragnaros for you.

Ragnaros!

Look, I was impressed. I haven’t done that many raids and none of the bosses I’ve confronted have been like this. Onyxia? Dragons are supposed to be huge. I kill dragons all the time. Heck, I RIDE dragons. Illidan? Met him after I’d already been through Naxx, he was a pushover. Haven’t done Ulduar; nothing in Naxx had this level of “wow”, and as far as my ICC progress, well, Saurfang is very inspiring but he IS just a lone orc, and none of the LK’s other buddies are that impressive. Yeah, they regularly tear my branches off and beat me around the head with them, but this guy was just amazing. I bet I feel impressed when I get to the Lich King though.

For all that, he died…. gloriously.

And here we are, posing in front of the spoils of war! I wish we could carry that hammer around, that would be cool. You can barely see us!

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Fine print

Corporate Raider

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The other half of dual boxing…

This post is the flip side of Analogue’s post.

As she said we have been doing RAF. We started things off a month or so back with her doing the ‘new’ and disposable account and power-leveling alts for me. The plan had been to pair that way and then when I had a few up near 58 or so we would swap roles and power level a bunch of alts for her with a different disposable RAF account. This worked well for a while but we finally thought hey, why not just multi-box and do it all at once.

Multi boxing

As many of you know people use this term for one player running several characters. Most people seem to do this with one computer and various mods and macros to synchronize their characters. I personally prefer using multiple computers. I have had a multi computer desk setup for a long time… er… probably 12 or 14 years. Some time in an old game called ShadowBane I started regularly running two accounts. In that game aggro was just a ‘whoever hit it first’ thing so it was super easy to have a meat shield and a healer/nuker. I just put the meat shield on a pack of mobs and then played the other computer until the fight was over. It was easy, effective, and fun.

Later I did a lot of multi accounting on EVE online. In that game, if you have things set right you can be pretty effective with a pair. There were no mods to help but there are various ways to have one ship follow another of fly in formation. Also if I was doing asteroid mining running two machines made a boring task into something slightly less boring and twice as profitable.

With my setups I always use dual keyboards and mice. I never tried a KVM and can’t see how it could possibly help. Nothing beats being able to have one hand on each set of hot keys. Having to flip a switch would suck.

The center piece of a multi computer setup is the desk. I have this sweet one I found at a used office furniture place many years back. It has two halves, front and back. Each is about 1 foot deep and each is independently height adjustable. The whole thing is about 5 feet long. So there is room for a row of monitors in the back and a row of key boards in the front. I added an extra keyboard try on the upper deck so I can pull it out when I am using a third keyboard. Right now my main machine is a mac laptop. I have that mounted on a movable sing arm clamped to the desk’s upper deck. It’s monitor is directly in front of me and the laptop on the arm is off to the right. My second machine is one of our older gaming rigs, mostly build out of a machine Analogue had before we were married. Its monitor is on the left. Its keyboard is on that side too and the main keyboard is in front of me.

I have both mice on the right side of the keyboards. The left computer’s mouse is ‘above’ the other (i.e. slightly farther toward the back of the desk) This means if I am switching my attention to the left side machine I simply turn my head left while moving my left hand left and my right hand ‘up’ and left. Now I am on the other mouse and keyboard. For this multi boxing I actually have a USB gaming keypad between the keyboards so it is a short move from WASD on the main keyboard to the pad just to the left of it. And it is a similarly short distance to hop between the mice. This makes switching back and forth far faster and more intuitive than having to flip some KVM would be. I don’t have to check what a switch is set for, I know based on where my hands are.

WOW dual boxing, my style

I have dual boxed wow a fair bit before. Mostly on lowby characters. It was not all that easy or fun. It was not BAD, but it just was not as fun as playing only one. For one thing your efficiency goes down. So you can either be playing one character and only using the other to loot quest stuff, or you are trying to use two and not being 100% effective with either. This can be annoying. Looting on an offside is triple annoying. So this sucked enough fun away to make me not do it often.

RAF provides the opportunity to fix some of that. For one thing old world leveling is so nerfed that you can be effective even if you are not 100% focused on one character. With RAF the triple makes things SO fast that it is worth it to have an efficiency decrease in your play. The blinding leveling speed adds a ‘sweet!’ element that offsets the annoyance of swapping back and forth. Also the leveling bonus means you can skip most gather quests and avoid a lot of the headache of looting on your offside account.

My goal when we started this most recent dual boxing experiment was to do everything I could to make it simple and fun. More simple and more fun than my previous WOW dual boxing. I use two ways to go about this. One was selecting characters I was very familiar with. This gives me the edge of not having to learn my class at the same time. It works because SAN is on a new server to us and I don’t have a max level hunter there. Plus I had not leveled a hunter in a while. Ages ago I did several of them and the leveling got stale. Now it is all fresh but still familiar.

Let me tell you, for dual boxing hunters are a GREAT choice. Between auto shot and a good dps pet they can do 50-70 percent of their max damage potential just by pressing one key. In retrospect this would have been great for an offside character. The next pair we make I will make an offside hunter. With this pair I had my hunter decked out in the full set of heirlooms, chest, shoulders, trinkets, 2h axe and bow, everything except the ring. This gave me insane damage. Through the whole session the hunter was consistently 65+ percent of our damage for the whole party of 4. I wanted an nice AOE debuff pet so the first thing we did when I hit 10 was have Analogue’s max lvl pally run me to Northrend for a nice hawk (vultures are ugly). (There are level 7 hawks hanging out near Utgarde Keep, the lowest level hawks in the game.)

That covers my main account/computer but what about the offside? Druid ended up being an ok but not super choice. With Analogue healing on both of hers the healing aspects of the druid were not used. However, the druid’s durability compared to other caster classes was nice. I tried two different ways of setting it up first I will cover the one I liked best.

Offside Character Control

First off I used a follow macro like Analogue explained in her post. Super handy, fast, one button and the character is on follow. No targeting and right clicking. The auto targeting is what made that macro great and made it better than our older dual boxing experience.

First way

Of course I did not stop there. Next up I made some nice attack macros. This are the ones I use more than anything else and I LOVED how effective they were. Here it is.

/cast [target=focustarget] wrath

That is it. “target=focustarget” means the spell will be fired at whatever my ‘focus’ has selected. So the first thing I do when logging in and partying up is to set my druid’s focus on my hunter. Now, with that macro, my hunter has full control over who my druid targets and I never have to select targets manually on the other computer. That saves a lot of clicking and means I almost never need to touch the ‘offside’ mouse. I made a macro like that for Starfire, Wrath and, Moonfire. I made them the 1, 2, and 3 keys respectively. So now all I had to do, was target something on my hunter and then pick the 1,2, or 3 depending on how long I wanted the cast time to be.

Setting up a pull was easy. I targeted with the hunter, pressed ‘1’ on the offside keypad to start a nice long Starfire cast and then went to the hunter and selected pet attack (macroed to my #1 using “/petattack”). Then I waited a heartbeat or two (Starfire is a looong cast) and then pressed arcane shot or multishot, depending on the situation. WHAM! That target took a ton of damage. If I wanted to hit it hard some more I just pressed any of the 1-3 on the druid while hitting arcane shot or multi shot again (Mostly alternating them. They both hit hard even on single targets). Doing attacks this way meant that by threat was spread out over two characters so often my bird was able to hold agro even though the target had just had most of its HP blown away. Also it meant even if the pet did not hold agro most targets were dead before they even reached me(us).

In heavier combat it was easy to tab target on my hunter and then start a new attack on the druid, just one button press on the offside. With the hunter in full control of the targeting I was able to get a lot out of the offside account with minimal button pressing. Because I was in command of 3/4 of our TOTAL party damage meant that no marks or anything were needed. Whoever the hunter was targeting was automatically the primary target and it died rather fast. This made fights easy and fast. Being short a player (party of 4) did not hurt us in part because of tightly focused damage dealing.

I also made some macros that auto targeted my focus target for some healing. One button press to hit the focus target for some rejuv or healing touch. I found once things got into heavy fighting I did not bother with that. I let Analogue handle healing while I kept up the focused damage. Sometimes I did use my offside druid’s Vudo setup. That was as easy as grabbing that mouse and right clicking a few frames to spread damage around.

The trickiest thing was positioning. The druid was on follow on the hunter. So if we got over run with mobs she was not always facing the target. One way we dealt with that was for Analogue’s pair to move to the front of the pack as the fight started and throw some tanking moves. This kept things in front of the druid. The other problem there was that the hunter could not back up to get into minimum arrow range. That would face the druid away from the fight. Fortunately with the 2 hand heirloom axe Raptor Strike does a pile of damage. Between that and the ability of the druid to keep nuking without the fuss of maneuvering two characters, I did a lot of melee huntering.

For boss fights and a few others I would move the druid off ‘follow’ and pre position it somewhere. I would pick a spot with her back to a wall and a good 180 degree view of the battle. This way the hunter could do all the running, jumping, weaving, and shooting she wanted to do and the druid still had sight of her target. Any time I hit the offside keys the druid would deliver its nature-y destruction on target. :D

Second way

I also made some macros just for targeting various targets, the only three needed were the focus (partner), the target of focus, and self (/cleartarget). I found that I actually did not use them for the druid. What I did use them for was a short session where I was controlling both of another RAF pair we have. Using those three target macros, bound to some handy keys (F10, F11, F12) I was able to use all the ability bars that character had already set up for single account play. Those three macros and the previously mentioned follow macro were all it took to make an offside computer account, previously set up for one player use into a decent ‘offside’ character. This assumes a properly setup hot button bar (1-10) and easy access to the other keyboard (or a USB pad with 1-10 and F10-F12).

So those were the two distinct ways I have been messing with to control my dual setup. When the druid gets more abilities I might change things around. I need to find a fast and effective way to target Hurricane and Volley at the same time. I also need to respec the druid to full balance. I also plan to mess with using the hunter as the ‘offside’. On our next pair I am sure to use a hunter offside but I am still trying to decide what the ‘main’ will be. Since the main is the ‘keeper’ character I have to decide what I want to have leveled as well as what will work well in this sort of pairing.

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