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Archive for December, 2010

Still Waiting…

Our copies of Cataclysm – one normal, one collector’s edition – are at Best Buy in the next town over. Sometime this morning/early afternoon, when I can get away from my computer for a while (way to schedule a rollout the same day as Cataclysm, boss! Where are your priorities?) I’ll head over here and get them. Then home to install the patches while providing support for work. And giving Nomster some attention since she might, er, spend a little too much time eating playdough in her high chair next to our computers for the next few days. Hurry up and learn to use a mouse right, kid; I need you farming mats for me already.

I logged all my level 80 characters out in Stormwind, most near a trainer of some sort that they’ll want to visit. If possible I’ll log into all of my and Reversion’s characters before he gets home, get professions and flying trained, and be ready to go. I think we’re starting in Hyjal but we’re pretty flexible.

With luck it’ll be less crowded by this evening. I know a lot of people planned to take today off. But I’m sure lots didn’t, too. Oh well. We are taking Friday off and by then I bet the pressure is a lot lower. And heck, trying to complete quests while everyone else is on is part of the fun!

The thing I’m looking forward to most about this expansion as compared to others is playing with a guild. Last two expansions we played the start with some friends, but not a guild. This is going to be great. I’m so glad we decided to move. It’s so much fun to have that social

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Cata checklist

Wait, what? Shouldn’t you have done everything already? Nah, I am a procrastinator.

1: Kill Arthas: Done

2: Clear all Wrath Raids: Failed. Never did get Uldar done. Got all the others though.

3: Get all heroic 5man achievements: Failed. I still lack 3 on Reversion and a few more on Approximate. And since two of them are for the same dungeon I am screwed… does anyone know when they are taking that mount away? Or did they already do that?

4: Clean out banks: Nah, maybe tonight

5: Move all 80’s stones to SW: Nah, maybe tonight.

6: Get warrior to 80: Done

7: Get ZG mounts: Failed. Darn you random number generator!

8: Get ZG related achievements: Failed. Got bored. I don’t care about fishing that much anyway.

9: er…. Did I have a 9? I think that was the whole list. Why bother with big elaborate preparations? It is not like they are blowing up the AH or taking banks away.

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Creating alts has been like an epidemic these last few weeks. I’ve got a couple, a dwarf shaman that I fully intend to get to level cap one day and some throwaways. Based on my sales of Netherweave Bags, I’m not the only re-roller (if you see one person buy four bags at once, it’s always a new alt. Always).

 

I want to suggest the one alt that everyone should have, for your consideration: the bank alt.

What is the bank alt?

A bank alt is a character that is either primarily created for the purpose of serving as storage/auction mule/broker, or at least serves as such. You basically park him at the Auction House/bank, and he answers your mail all day long.

 

Why should I have one?

Convenience. That’s all. You don’t truly need one for most reasons, but it makes things easier. Picture this: you’re leveling in Hyjal, and your bags fill up with random stuff. You sell the gray stuff, but what about the cloth? Or the random crafting bits? Or this BOE blue that dropped off a mob? If you have a bank alt, you mail it all to them and walk away with lighter bags. If you don’t, you sell it to a vendor. Or try to hang onto it til you can get back to a capital and sell it yourself.

 

Yeah, but, auctions? That’s a lot of work

True!  It takes at least, oh, ten minutes every two days. What you do: download an addon like Auctioneer. Set it to load only for the bank alt – you don’t need the memory hogging on other characters.  Put stuff you want to sell into your bags. Go to AH. Scan the AH with the addon, let it suggest prices for you. Hit “post”. Come back in 48 hours, collect what didn’t sell and your gold. There’s plenty of guides out there to tell you more, or help you refine a strategy, but honestly, it’s too easy not to do.

 

I have all the gold I’ll ever need and a moral issue with auction houses

Er, ok. Well, how about more storage? If your bank vault is like mine, it gets cluttered. You can keep the stacks of raw materials you’re saving for later on the bank alt. Or anything else that’s not soulbound. Get an addon like ArkInventory that will let you see what’s in any character’s banks and bags no matter who you’re logged onto and never loose an item again.

 

Ok, I’m sold! Now what?

The details: a bank alt can be any race/class you want (obviously it needs to be the same faction as the characters it’s working for). Death Knights make really good bank alts for a couple reasons. First, they start off with a set of bags, 12 slotters that you can replace as you need more. Second, they can wear plate, which means they can wear any armor in the game, which means you can make them a really snazzy outfit. Third, they come with an epic mount for fast travel between the mailbox and the bank. Third, they have lots of flight points by default so if you need to move them, or send them to a neutral AH, it’s easy.

On the other hand, you can only have one per server, so if your main is a dk that won’t work. I’m predicting an upswing in Worgen bank alts; between the racial swift-running thing and the super snazzy top hats, they seem like perfect bankers.

 

Upgrade your bank alt: make a bank guild!

Once you’ve bought all the bank slots, put in bags, and are still low on space, it’s time to create a bank guild. Go to the guild vendor person (ask a capital city guard) and buy a charter.  You can assign a name, and can change the name before the guild is finalized. Now get 4 distinct player signatures. If you stand in the busiest city and spam “LF guild signatures, paying 20 gold”, you’ll get three people who’ll do it and one who will sign for free. Now take the charter back to the guy who sold it to you and poof, you’ve got a guild. Hop over to the bank and buy the first tab for 100 gold. 98 slots of storage, ready for you.

 

Is it really worth it?

Do you have one or more characters with professions at 450 that you plan to level to 85 and level their professions too? Then you have money-making potential. Sell all the raw mats you collect and don’t need. Sell things players need (glyphs, enchants, gem cuts) that you create as you level your profession. Use an addon, spend a few minutes a day, and you will see gold. I promise. That’s what I do to keep our alts in house and home. We’re going into Cataclysm with about a 35,000 gold purse; 2 characters each with 310 speed flying, one pair with epic flight, and one that still needs epic but has the other levels. Our characters all have dual spec, mostly from when it cost 1k gold. We don’t think anything of dumping 500 gold on a new alt’s  gear. It’s a comfortable place to be in and while it takes time using my strategy, it is a very sure method, very low risk.

Yes, once you start doing this you’ll probably read goldmaking blogs and try some of those strats. I’ve done that and it works great if you use your head and the right addons. But believe me. Having a bank alt is the first step to a comfortable WoW existence.

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Shattered

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One of the best things about being a resto druid – other than tree form, awesome hots, and the general coolness of it all – is the rest of the blogosphere of resto druids. Seriously some of the best, most talented bloggers out there are resto druids.

For instance, are you wondering about gear for getting ready to raid in Cataclysm?  Lissana can help you out. So can Naora and Maedred and Angelya

Resto druiding in Cataclysm in general? Start with Lissana (Currently aimed at level 80s in 4.0.3a, she’ll update to 85 shortly) or her Cata Leveling Guide if you want to level in your offspec (because tree punches don’t always cut it). Keeva’s Guide will be around soon and will be well worth the wait, believe me. Bookmark it now if you haven’t.

What professions you should think about? Keeva’s got you covered.

Healing in general? Lissana’s always a good place to start. A very insightful post from Cannot Be Tamed compares heals across all 5 Healing specs – highly recommended reading, just to really understand your partners in heals, if nothing else. And, to toot my own horn, my old posts on Triage and staying calm are more relevant now than when I first wrote them. And Reversion post about understanding the “shape” of a fight’s damage, while designed for tanks, has a lot that healers should know, too.

So, yeah. All those links are written by people with resto druid main or off specs. What can I say? Clearly the true spec for bloggers must be Tree.

After all, we all communicate electronically, saving lots of paper, and hence, trees.

Save the Trees!

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Tweaking our LK strats

So our last tries at the LK were pretty bad. Analogue already covered some of the ‘why’ but I want to talk more about the strategies we used, some of the other stuff that has been tried and what we need to do different

For as complicated as the fight is there aren’t actually that many LK strats that work. There is not much to tweak except on a small scale. The bulk of the variability is in phase one. In other phases you are doing so much running around and with things like defile you end up having guidelines more than actual strategies.

The strategies in phase 1 are all about the plague. How you position the adds and what you do with them is all about managing the plague. The whole point of using the adds to manage it is so that you can kill them without using much DPS. You could, in theory, run people with the plague off by themselves and cleanse them but that would mean you have to manually DPS down the big adds later. Why bother when you have this handy plague? So the point of all your plague handling is to have it do what you want (kill adds) with the minimum risk.

For those that are unfamiliar with it the plague is randomly applied to the raid in phase 1. It does 150k damage every 5 seconds. So you cleanse it before it one-shots someone. But then it jumps to the nearest person within 10 yards. If you want to kill the debuff, just be 10 yards from anyone. If you want to use it to kill an add, you have to have an add be the closest thing to the person getting cleansed. We use a simple strategy where the off tank is tanking the adds standing a few yards away from the raid and whoever has the plague runs over to get cleansed near the adds.

Now normally we just have the big guys on the off tank and perhaps a few random small guys. The reasoning is that if it is just the big guy you are certain it gets him. We have tried it with ONLY the big adds on the OT, and that sort of works. And we have tried it with a few extra adds sort of accidently over there, and that works somewhat too.

The variables here are random number generator based. You see every time the plague kills a small add (ghoul) it gains a stack, jumps to the next target, and gives the LK a 2% dps buff. The thinking for some strategies is to only have the big targets there so that the plague does not keep killing ghouls and there for it does not buff the LK. This is a tradeoff though. Because if the plague is not killing ghouls it is not gaining stacks and that means the big guys are going to need some active DPS either during phase 1 or during the transition.

Normally we have some ranged DPS target the big add right before the second one comes up. There are two reasons to actively DPS the big add. You DPS the first one so that it is not alive when the second one is beating on the OT, and you DPS the last one so that you go into the transition with fewer things alive.

After thinking about it and reading a few things I have determined this is a bad plan.

Here is the new plan. The off tank grabs ALL the adds and holds them. No DPS attacks those adds at ANY time. The plague will jump around to the adds and eventually kill them all. There are two risks with this plan one is that two of the big guys will be on the OT and enrage at the same time. That is what cooldowns are for so forget that risk. The second is that the LK will get many stacks of the buff. So? At 2% that is not biggy. The MT, if it is geared well and ours are, should be able to handle it. It only lasts 30 second so it is gone in phase 2.

I am certain this is a better plan because it speeds up phase one and reduces confusion with target switching and what not. Unless we are having a problem with tanks just dropping, and we are not, it simply does not make sense to do it any other way.

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Priorities

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