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Archive for February, 2011

… over. With a steamroller.

Let’s start at the beginning, a week back when Logarithm told me he had army duty this weekend and wouldn’t be able to tank. Not a problem. I just got our friend Repgrind to gear up her dk tank as her next alt.  You raid leaders who don’t have someone who says, “Oh, we really need a holy pally? Spare tank? One-handed sheep-herder? I can bring that”  – I feel sorry for you guys.

Then Falahla tells me she can’t play Saturday. I can manage that too; one of our healers’ boyfriend was hoping for a chance to raid on his mage, I’ll just swap him in. And of course we’re just down one dps right now completely so I need to find that 10th man. I can manage that. Of course, I have to find someone who isn’t in the other Friday/Saturday night raid, but how hard could that be?

Well Friday afternoon rolled around and I didn’t have anyone, but I was actually on WoW in early afternoon so I decided to make an effort. Between sessions with the rented steam cleaner and my carpets, I scanned guild for a likely victim…. hmmm… there’s Fyuria. He raids Sunday/Monday but he mentioned his dk was interested in getting a few runs in, maybe he’s available. Whisper him. He’d love to help but he’s working Saturday and doing moving-related chores Friday night. Too bad. I mention that we’re going to Halfus and the twin dragons tonight (Friday) and that since his raid is working on BD, he could bring his main with us if he could fill in. I think that intrigued him; he asked about our start time, and then a minute later came back with a “Sure, I can rearrange things and be there”. Success!

So then raid time rolls around. We have one raider in a roll she doesn’t usually player, one substitute, but a pretty good feel for things. We clear the trash, pull Halfus, and one-shot him again. The healing was a bit hairy but Kalyon’s tanking was awesome. The nice thing about Halfus is we’ve gotten good enough at him that it feels like we have a solid shot at downing him no matter what the combo.

We cleared to the twins and settled in for however many attempts it would take. I’d like to say we one-shot things, but we actually did not. We had to work out positioning issues, how to handle things like getting sucked into Twilight, how to deal with the boss being offset a bit…. how to know the dragons are switching, who can iceblock or disperse out of a Blackout, who needs to be dispelled and share the pain, that sort of thing. Halfway through Reversion switches to tanking and we have Kalyon switch to her mage Karius. The extra ranged seems to help a lot (one issue we were having was ranged taking too much damage from meteors while running around)

Finally, one attempt, everything clicks and boom, they’re dead! That puts us at 6/12 for the expansion!

We discuss briefly and have some miscommunications and end up at Throne of Four Winds. Again, first time for Kalyon tanking though she’s healed here and first time at all for Fyuria. I pick Kalyon to heal, letting our shammy take Reversion. and off we go. Three platform swaps later and the bosses go down perfectly. On that fight, we have learned all the mechanics so well that the only place we risk wipes is in getting one boss dead too soon. Last week that happened twice; this week we one shot the place.

So off to Magmaw to get a head start on BD. One of my healers is whispering me as we go, warning me she’s really tired. Her sister just had a baby and the whole family is somewhat stressed and not sleeping right now. I understand and sympathize but since I can’t replace her at this point and we want to down Magmaw, I ask her to carry on, and she agrees.

The giant worm looms over us like a …. um… giant worm. With arms. As usual. First time for Kalyon to tank him! We get started, I get in position and realize that the hunter and rogue are both going to misdirect parasites to me… eeep…. Reversion always comes to Magmaw on his hunter and he does misdirect to me because I have ginormous healing aggro anyway, but I guess I didn’t really pay attention to that fact before. No pressure, Analogue!

We actually wipe to some stupid stuff. And then to Kalyon dying and I honestly didn’t know whether it was her new-ness to tanking the fight, or our healer who was operating on very little sleep, to encourage. Whatever. A third wipe and we’re all getting grumpy, so Reversion says the magical “Last pull of the night” words and we kill the dang worm.

So anyway, 4 bosses in one night is the best we’ve done yet this expansion! Woot!

Saturday night, I’m getting the group set up. I’d arranged with a ret pally in guild to fill our empty slot since Fyuria couldn’t. We had Jhudora’s friend coming on his mage. We were good. I thought.

My first sign of trouble was when Jhudora told me her friend’s schedule had just been changed and he couldn’t raid with us. And then when I started inviting people and my sleepy healer from last night wasn’t online. And then when the paladin said that 1, he had gotten saved to Omnomtron and 2, he wasn’t sure if the other competing raid wanted him.

We can handle this, I think. We happened to be in vent with a guild shadow  priest who hadn’t gotten much raiding in yet, and he was interested in coming in, even just on Omnomtron and then stepping out for the paladin. We could do that. And I convinced Jhudora to beg a friend to come in for us.  Reversion went to town and talked to Trade chat. We got a holy paladin, we summoned everyone, and we went to meet the Council of ‘Trons.

People killed adds. People ran away when they had debuffs. People interrupted stuff, didn’t stand in bad, switched targets, and we one-shot the big guys. Not our first one shot but the first one with so many non-regulars! It felt great! And…. Security Measure Alpha, my pretty ring, dropped, and I had a bad moment. Jhudora’s priest already had the ring… and I really really wanted it… but there was the pugged paladin. I had to let him roll. And… two shadow priests, both with healing offsets and talents that mean they  like spirit just fine…

I sighed and told them to roll, and Eltard won the ring. I have to say I was glad it stayed in our raid.  It’ll drop again, those guys are so farm it isn’t funny.

Downstairs to Maloriak, the only other boss in here we’ve downed before. We clear trash, we explain the fight, we start wiping. And wiping.  I analyze the paladin’s healing. This doesn’t make any sense…. he’s using nothing but Divine Light and Word of Glory, with a couple Holy Shocks. He’s beaconed Kalyon but is doing 80% of his heals on her and 10% on Reversion. Then I figure it out; he’s hitting Kalyon with Divine Light and using the Holy Power that generates to heal Reversion with Word of Glory. Um. Sorry, but once Rev gets more than 3 little adds on him, he’s going to need more than that. I gently ask him to heal Reversion directly, and the next attempt is more stable.

Not long after that, Mr. Paladin has to go – family aggro. Sigh. I look around. Someone in raid mentions Phlame, a lovely guild priest. She agrees to come in! We go summon her and I notice that she’s an absolutely adorable dwarf. Awwww.

I’d like to say that change did it for us. That would be a lie. At 10:50, Reversion announces “Last pull of the night”. And this time everything works. Reversion will have to give more details but what made all the difference was we had Eltard, standing out and spriesting, call out how many adds had been released, when to let more through and when to cancel. That let Grom concentrate on interrupts. It’s hard to do that and watch the adds and melee all at once. We also had to be really precise at who had what assignments. We had Cyla purge Remedy, Grom interrupt adds, and Kalyon disrupt the Arcane Storms. It worked. The adds came when we wanted them, we got into the final phase, kept enough people alive long enough, and she died. And dropped Kerick’s paladin bracers as she’s on her dk tanking. Stupid bosses.

Two last notes: if anyone thinks we sound cool, and might want to run with us, let us know. We’re looking for a good dps, preferably with a side of tank but a good dps is the important thing.

Second: This is why I love VuhDo:

See that icon on Approximate? We’re doing Magmaw, and it means that there’s a parasite in him. I know two things: he’s going to need more heals, and shortly, it’s going to jump out and need killing. I also know when nobody has a parasite and can reassure the raid. (Sorry honey; this is the only shot I caught. Approximate was not the only worm-victim that night!)

See I updated VuhDo two weeks ago and realized all these cool new icons had been added in, I didn’t have to do any extra work to get this! No GridStatusParasitesInMyStomach or anything!

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Alting Around

Analogue’s gear is looking good. I need to get more Valor points but I’m getting close enough to having the VP gear I want that I don’t always do a daily run. She does get her JC daily done religiously though. And I need to re-spec her tonight, I want to give Efflorescence another try, but I’ve been feeling the urge to play other characters again.

I played with my paladin some this weekend, getting her from just barely 83 to almost 84. Frustratingly I’d left her halfway through Deepholm and couldn’t figure out where, so I went and did a little Uldum until Reversion, leveling an alt through Deepholm, mentioned a spot where I might have broken the chain. Back I went and sure enough there was a quest, so I finished Deepholm, opening up the shoulder enchants, and then put Divergent back in storage. I’m starting to get the hang of Ret but I don’t like it. I’ll probably go Holy/Prot at max level.

And Tuesday, I went to Baradin Hold on Analogue, then when checking my Valor Points realized I’d maxed out my Justice Points, again. I went to look at what the JP goods vendor would sell and then noticed the Heirloom vendor. Hmm… never did buy that other Heirloom trinket. I picked it up and mailed it to my baby shaman. Who I knew had other heirlooms I’d mailed her…. and I hadn’t logged onto her in forever… ok, log on, grab heirlooms, equip. Hmm. She’s pretty shiny now, and halfway through 26. Let’s do a few quests.

An hour later I’d gained two levels and was remembering why I had liked this little dwarf shaman anyway. Cool. Plus I have been meaning forever to get a shaman up high enough to get a real feel for their healing. Sometimes I feel like I can’t diagnose why raid heals aren’t working right because I don’t know shaman or holy priests well enough, and I aim to fix that.

Anyway. Last night I went to work on her a bit more, got her past 30, and relocated her over to Desolace to check the place out. A guildie was trying to put together an alt run on Bastion of Twilight. So I thought I’d bring my priest. So did 3 other guildies. I determined that they wanted me to dps and we cleared the trash. I looked at my meters and was very disappointed with my performance, so when we were swapping some people anyway in order to have more stuns on Halfus, I swapped to my mage. Technically she has less gear but I knew I could pull out considerably more damage with her.

And I did. We wiped so many times, the trash respawned, and we cleared it again. In two clears we got three epics, the thrown weapon, the healer staff and the cloth bracers, and I won the bracers. Cool! Now, if I make all my dreamcloth this week I should have enough for a belt and pants for my mage… she’s so much fun, really she is. I am glad frost and fire are viable raid choices now but I love arcane. If I’m gonna pew-pew, let’s keep the pew-pew as simple and shiny as possible!

I have three pieces of green gear, no epics at all, and managed about 8.5k dps on the trash. My priest, with significantly better gear, was struggling to hit above 6k. I assume it’s just that I know exactly what to do on my mage, but…. yeah. It was satisfying. I’d been dithering about whether to gear the mage or the priest but I know if I gear the priest all I’ll ever do is heal. If I gear the mage maybe I’ll want to go blow things up. And she has all the shiny pets and archeology toys anyway.

 

OH! Last attempt of the night, we actually downed him. Three tanked, three healed, with Rev’s spare bear going cat after the drakes were down, and we beat the enrage timer handily. Woot! I expect the normal raid to have no problems. We’re going in there Friday so we can get lots of work on the Twins this weekend. Wish us luck! I want to be 6 or 7/12 by Sunday…

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WTB mass dispell

Today we have a guest comic from Logarithm. Enjoy!

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So, this week’s raid started off awkwardly. Another guildie has decided to try running a Friday/Saturday night raid at the same time we are. And one of my raiders has vanished – nobody has heard from him in over a week. I thought I’d swap in one of my healers as dps and we’d be ok, if underpowered, but due to poor communication, she had thought her weekend was free and agreed to help out the other raid Friday. I bashed my head into the wall, got her to agree to come with us Saturday, and started asking everyone I could think of to come. Everyone who had a geared character not already raiding was already helping out with this new raid.

Finally, one of my raiders came up with the suggestion that her sister get on her boyfriend’s mage and come help us out. It was good enough for me, so at raid time we had 10 people. Yay!

Friday nights are Blackwing Descent for us. It took us three attempts on Magmaw and three on Omitron. I’m hoping we start one shotting both fights real soon now. There’s no reason why we can’t. Magmaw dropped a pretty leather chestpiece; I took it as it was a slight upgrade over the one I had and no one else could use it. Then Omnitron dropped awesome shoulders for me! Those got me excited. They look amazingly cool, I’ll have to get a screenshot of them. They have little feathery wings and are awesome.

We had lots of time left so we went downstairs and started attempts on Maloriak. We’d tried Chimaeron the previous week and were looking for something different. Several hours of work and things were starting to come together, but we ended the evening without downing the boss.

Saturday night we headed for Bastion of Twilight where we blew through the trash and one-shot Halfus, on the most difficult combination that we’ve defeated yet. So proud of my raiders! Then we conferred. We’ve been working on the twin dragons, but people were eager for another shot at Maloriak; we’d gotten much farther on that fight than on the twins. We decided to go to Maloriak by way of Conclave of Winds so we could take out our other farm boss.

Conclave was a bit harder this week due to our dps makeup (had swapped out a hard hitting hunter for a less geared elemental shaman). Twice we executed the fight perfectly, only to screw up our timing and have a boss revive three seconds before the last one went down. The third time, we watched health bars, coordinated carefully, and got them down. Yay!And hurrah for belts nobody wanted. They went into my disenchant pile as I explained I was going to get Power Torrent and then we’d coordinate enchants; someone else in guild was about to buy Landslide so I don’t need to get that.

And then off to Blackwing and Maloriak. Our hard work the night before paid off and we two-shot the fight. Yay! 5/12 is definitely progress, if slow. With an hour left, we went and worked on Chimaeron for a while but it’s not coming together quite yet.

So Reversion and I have been discussing what would be our best plan for progression. Should we keep downing all our farm bosses, or concentrate on new fights? Perhaps if we went to Bastion on Friday nights, we’d get more work done on the twin dragons. The other major raid in the guild is focusing on Blackwing Descent and it’s worked well for them; took them a while to get down Magmaw and Omitron but they’re on farm now, they got Maloriak down Monday of the week before we did, and they worked on Atramedes this week. We’re working on Chimaeron and the twin dragons, but I’d drop Chimaeron for Atramedes in a heartbeat. I like working two raids at once; it keeps things from getting dull. But  I can see the point of focusing attention on one raid.

I’m wondering how other raid groups handle this!

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One year ago, we put up our first blog post! Since then we’ve posted 396 articles, comics, random thoughts and raid reports. We’ve received about 1475 comments and more blog hits than we thought was possible when we started! Along the way we’ve made some really good friends too.

We started blogging together as an experiment; it quickly became a way for us to engage with other WoW players in a fun and relaxed way. At the time we were friend alts in a hardcore raid guild, occasionally pugging ICC content and consistently killing up to Putricide. We were focused on our stable of alts and on enjoying WoW together, as a couple.

Reversion started his Tanking 101 series here. He’s thinking about a new series on a similar theme but if the stat reports are right, we’re still getting a lot of hits on the Tanking 101 article.

And this is the very first Corporate Raider comic! We’ve both had a lot of fun with these. Reversion does all the art and 95% of the ideas. Sometimes I suggest one to him but mostly my contribution is snickering at them.

I did an occasional series with titles of “Think Like A Healer”. I still like this one where I discussed interface evolution. Later I’d write up a Vuhdo guide. I still think that the UI is critical for a healer and a good one makes a big difference.

By May we were getting farther in our ICC pugs and occasionally running GDKP runs with the big guild we were in.  Those were a lot of fun!

In June I wrote a silly post about what I’d do as a raid boss that got linked on WoW Insider – we got about 10k hits in two days, definitely our biggest exposure ever.  After that our average viewers per day was considerably higher than it had been; I think it raised our profile nicely! And it was a fun piece to do, even if it wasn’t an original idea.

In August we took… well, not a “WoW Break”, but we were playing Starcraft. I got the Mini Pet from Reversion’s collector’s edition, hah! Andhad more fun with an RTS game than I’d thought I would.

In September, we came to a realization that we were not where we wanted to be for Cataclysm, so we started guild shopping.  We had a couple awesome offers and decided to move to Winterhoof to join Crits and Giggles, with Repgrind and Troutwort and it was awesome. Crits worked us into one of their 10 man raids and a few weeks later, the Lich King was dead. Wow.

Well, after that we watched Blizzcon and were in such a state of excitement over Cataclysm and having had raid success what we decided to start our own raid. We talked to people in guild, built a group, and had some success. Any follower of our blog since can tell what an important part of our WoWing the raid has become. We love it!

The Shattering hit and then Cataclysm and it was time to start leveling again, we stood in fire, we hit 85 and started running dungeons and raids. And here we are!

It’s been an awesome ride. We’ve made some great friends this year, achieved some awesome WoW goals. We’ve seen our focus shift from being total alt-o-holics to more serious raiders, but we still love our alts! I’ve learned a lot about WoW, and healing, and even leadership this year. I’m so glad we decided to start this blog.

And so glad we started it together. I’d been thinking about blogging a bit and when Reversion mentioned he was interested too I wasn’t completely sure how that would work. But I’m so glad we did, it’s a great project for us to share and I have to think it’s more interesting than just me spouting random stuff would be.

Thanks to everyone who has joined us on this ride. We’re hoping you’ll stick around for the next year, because I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know it’s going to be great.

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Last night we get on, hoping to have Tol Barad so we can do BH. Alliance doesn’t do well at holding TB but we do seem to take it Tuesdays just long enough to get runs in. Well, we didn’t have it, so we went off to run heroics.

Got two runs in with two sets of alts (and my brother) when TB  changed hands. We found out because a guildie started trying to put together a 25 man.  Well, I hate 25 mans, so we stayed quiet, planning to build a ten man out of alts once they’d done 25.

Only it took them a while to get things together and they started asking us to go – and then, Reversion was changing characters from an alt to his main, and on logging in, had a group invite that he thought was from us but was actually to the 25 man. And once he was inside, we felt stuck. we didn’t want to be rude to guildies, and come on, it’s just BH, how bad can it be?

So my brother got in (last week, he tried to go during the afternoon because he usually has class at night. This same person told him he couldn’t tank it because he didn’t have 150k health unbuffed. We told him later that was garbage) and I reluctantly switched off of Invariant, where I’d been working on excavating my epic purple archeology ring, and onto Analogue. The raid was about half full and more trickled in.

Our friend Repgrind was wisely staying out. Until I mentioned that there were no holy paladins yet, and how bad could it really be, right? And she reluctantly joined. A few more people, three or four pugs, and we were almost ready. I asked Falahla if she wanted to go, thinking hey, quick free epics and points. Right?

So there we are getting ready. I’d forgotten how much of my UI a 25 man Vuhdo setup takes.  Five healers; I started whispering Kerick and Elia to try to set up a dispell priority between us, since I expected us to be dispelling and not so sure what the other two healers would do. Elia pointed out we had  a priest and surely, he would mass dispel and save us a lot of mana. Right? And Kerick’s UI, being not set up for 25s because she doesn’t do them, as I well knew,  doesn’t lend itself well to things like “You cover Group 3″.  Oh well.

First attempt, I notice things aren’t getting cleansed, start cleansing. People die. Fell firestorm hits. The flames hit really freaking hard. We wipe. Ugh. I die some time before the wipe which means Elia wins the dispel meter  with 9 to my 5. The priest is saying he managed to get off mass dispel 2 or 3 times and then he got distracted with heals. I check. He cleansed two people. So either he dispelled once, or we were dispelling people before he could, or he had terrible aim. Sigh. We go back, try again. Wipe. Go back again.

This time on the meter I see 25 dispels each for me, Elia, and Kerick, with the next healer at 16 and the priest at… 5. Ouch.

Finally I speak up and say “Look, we need to all cover a group”. I hand out assignments, specify who is in those groups for those who don’t have their UI set up like that, and finally just say “if you can’t tell who is in your group just cleanse someone”.

It seemed to help. Even if just three of us could see “assigned” groups easily, it seemed to focus us enough that cleanses were going off, not missing them, or wasting mana cleansing people someone else had just sniped. A couple people die but we’re doing ok mostly – and then suddenly people start dropping. Oh. We hit enrage with 5% to go. Ouch.

Now, Baradin Hold drops pvp gear and so we had a couple people who are more focused on pvp than pve. Mostly they were doing fine, but there was one mage… he’s a guildie, a nice guy but totally into PVP. We took him on a heroic last week and he kept dying to puddles of poison, water spouts, etc, because he just isn’t expecting environmental damage to be an issue.  His dps was under 5k. PVP gear for the win, I suppose. But he was the one doing the most “oh we should have had that” moaning! And he…. well, we said as we were running back that “if we’d had a few more people we would have done that” meaning a few more people alive longer. He was confused and thought we needed more people in the raid. It’s funny how you can play the same game with someone, someone who is good even, but be talking different languages.

Finally we get back, do things the same way again, and this time the guy dies. In all it’s been close to an hour and a half, between trying to find people, trying to get them there, trying to get them all at their keyboards and not sniping at each other, trying to get them to do the right thing, trying to recover from wipes…. ugh. NOT worth the extra points, or loot. The loot was all pvp garbage anyway. I won a cape and gave it to Elia because she pvps a lot more than I do (and again. Things that piss me off. Warlocks rolling on capes with spirit. Come on).

Half the raid is people I don’t mind running heroics with sometimes but won’t raid with. In only a few weeks I’ve gotten used to having raid vent be friendly and cheerful and professional. Last night it was noisy, people talking over each other, people being obnoxious, and people inspecting gear and calling each other out over Vent, which is…. inexcusable to my mind. If we’re trying to get ready to go and you see a minor issue with someone, whisper them. It’s wasting 23 other peoples’ time to do it over vent, it’s disrespectful and annoying to the person being examined. And this happened not once but twice with two different sets of people, although one case was way more egregious.

We could have run that place 10 man twice as fast. Easily. Probably more than that because we don’t wipe in 10 mans. I’m not making that same mistake again. I’ll be rude; the annoyance is not worth it to me.

I’m really glad Blizzard made 10 and 25 mans exclusive in Cataclysm. I don’t want to be forced to do 25s for gear or to farm points. I love my ten man raid, I have fun with a couple close friends. In 25 mans you’re a cog in the wheel, and the other 24 cogs may or may not be people you like, at all.

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Yum

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I woke up this morning thinking of all the things I have to do today. Half day of work, got to get a build out for testing before I sign off. Cleaners coming, got to pick up socks. Friday afternoon usually means some gallivanting for Nomster and me. Probably better pick up some beer and margarita stuff – it’s raid night!

Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I argued that we couldn’t commit to scheduled raiding, yet here we are, not just committed but running two four-hour raids every week – and that doesn’t touch the tip of the iceberg! I think I need to make some sort of schedule for myself of raid support tasks to make sure they’re done. Right now, it goes something like this:

  • Put out the week’s invites. I usually do this Friday night during the raid, actually, because I know everyone is on and can sign up.
  • Check who can’t come or is tentative. Find someone else to cover those slots
  • If anyone is getting benched, figure it out now
  • If there’s anything odd about the lineup, discuss it with Reversion
  • During the week, run my daily every day for Valor points
  • Do my JC daily every day. Try to figure what patterns will most help other raiders
  • There’s always some other grind. This week it was leveling enchanting so as to be sure to put unused epics to good use. Some weeks it’s archeology, looking for Tyrande’s Friggin’ Doll. I’ve finished my rep grinds, I’m bypassing the Tol Barad dailies because that’s just one thing too many…
  • Reversion is running heroics on his second bear to get Chaos Orbs; I think he’s the only maxed leatherworker in guild and we have several people lined up for epic chestpieces.
  • Tuesday night, as soon as Reversion is home, log on and build a Tol Barad raid. We seem to always have TB on Tuesday nights, and rarely any other time. Sadly by the time we get on, 2/3rds of guild is saved on three alts. This week we took three puggers from Trade but they did just fine.
  • Assess raid supplies Wednesday, decide if we need to fish or farm flasks. Make flasks no later than Thursday
  • All through this period, answer whispers from raid members about where we’re going, what role they are playing, gear related questions, how should they spend their valor points, what alt should they level, who is the tank this week, where are we going again?, which bosses first? did you already do Baradin Hold? can you help me with this piece of gear? do you have this gem cut?
  • Run randoms with any guildies, but try hard to get raid members in. One night this week we split into two groups because there were 8 of us wanting a heroic!
  • On raid night, get online and build the group, answer the “where are we going” question again, assign raid assists and set loot threshold
  • Sit back and do what Reversion says – except, I still boss the healing team around so sometimes I have to speak up…

It sounds like a lot of work, and I’m not getting much chance to play alts, but it’s really worth while and I don’t mind. I have the “ahead of time” work; Reversion takes over as raid lead, with me tossing in healing assignments/suggestions when warranted.  It means neither of us has a crushing load.

The key is, we chose all this, and we run it all; if I had to do this much work for some raid that I didn’t feel like I was “running”, I’d hate it. Heck, I don’t know that I’d commit every Friday and Saturday night to raiding if we weren’t running it. I’d always feel like “maybe there’s something else we want to do”. Hint: as a pair of married WoW players, with a two year old,  raiding is about the best and cheapest Friday night date you can get.  No babysitter required!

Honestly I didn’t quite realize how much extra time would be involved when we decided to start a raid, but it’s worth it. Once I have a bit more gear, once everyone is really settled into the grind, I’ll have more spare time for alts. And it’s not like this is all we do! We went out for dinner just this Wednesday. And came home and found people whispering us to run randoms as soon as we logged back on… but hey! That’s a social life!

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Recently, my priest hit 85 and I decided it was time to level her alchemy from its dismal state –  120 or so – to max. And this week, I decided my druid should be an enchanter instead of a miner. Yes, I have an enchanter already but first, I wanted to have an enchanter in our raid, 100% of the time, and second, I like the bonus.

For both professions, I had a smattering of materials at various levels – a few stacks of random herbs, handfuls of different dusts and essences – and was willing to spend several thousand gold just to get things leveled up. Both of them were annoying in spots but very do-able; I did my alchemy in two couple-hour sessions, and I’ve spent about 4 hours so far on the enchanting and I’m almost to Cata level.

Materials are definitely the place where you are contrasting time versus money. If you go out on an herbalist and pick the flowers, you can get alchemy leveled without spending more than training gold and money for vials. But it’s time consuming and annoying. An enchanter could go kill stuff for greens – but if you do this, you’ll probably give up after the thousandth time a low level mob drops Melon Juice instead of a green.

I chose to use the Auction House as my materials source. This works better for enchanting than alchemy, because you have fewer components: basically at each level, you’ve got 1 type of dust, 1 type of essence that you use either greater or lessers (three lessers combine into a greater, or one greater breaks down into 3 lessers) , a Shard (larger and smaller), and a crystal. Most of the recipes you use to skill up won’t need shards, and if you are using crystals at any point in power leveling you’re probably doing it wrong.

For Alchemy, however, you have a huge number of plants that are combined in  various recipes – sometimes you’ll get a stretch of forty skill points where the only recipes offering a good chance of skill up require, say, Goldthorn. If there’s ample Goldthorn on the auction house, you’re fine. If there’s not much, or if it costs too much, you may have to go pick the herbs yourself.

Some enchanting mats may be on the AH by themselves; check and see. I found that many of them were a reasonable price. If there aren’t enough of a particular mat, or it’s outrageously expensive (someone was selling Eternal Essence for 500 gold a piece on our server), then look up what level range of gear disenchants into that mat, buy a bunch, and disenchant your own. You’ll probably get a lot of dust, a few essences, and one or two shards out of every ten or so items you buy.

The first 100 or so skill points in each seem pretty easy to get. For alchemy you can set yourself making multiples of whatever potion is going to give you a skill up. For enchanting, buy stacks of vellum from the enchanting supplies vendor and go to town – this is so much more convenient than the old “enchant your own bracers 200 times” method!  I just destroyed most of the scrolls I made, but a few I sent to my bank alt to try to sell. You do have to click multiple times for every enchant you’re trying to do; once in the book, once on the vellum. Power leveling enchanting runs a risk of repetitive stress injury, that’s for sure.

Both professions have a nasty spot somewhere near the top end of Vanilla recipes, where the mats you need are farmed from level 55+ zones. Maybe you’ll be on a server where there’s a lot of people farming this content, but most likely, you’re going to have to spend time or money to get over the hump. Don’t worry! If you can get through the 270-300 zone, it gets considerably easier. Outlands and Northrend level recipes use fewer mats which drop from more things. It gets better.

A word about Enchanting: somewhere around 300 is where I started running into real rod difficulty. Rod difficulty? What’s that? Well every so often your enchanting rod just isn’t good enough and you have to make a new one. Sometimes you learn the pattern from your trainer; sometimes you have to go get it yourself. If you’re going to power level enchanting, you might go pick these up first. One recipe is in Moonglade, there’s another in Outlands, Hellfire to be precise. Wowhead can give you good directions.  This will happen again near max level enchanting, when you have to buy the pattern from a vendor in Twilight Highlands. If you’re not 84 and can’t open the zone, you can’t max out enchanting yet.

The components to make the rods can be… expensive… as well. If you have or know a blacksmith, get him to make you all the rods you’ll need in order to make your runed rod. So far the worst one for mats has been the runed adamantite rod; you need a Primal Might, which may set you back a bit.

Anyhow. An alchemist doesn’t have to bother with any of this, but if you are leveling alchemy, remember your specialization! You can certainly go back and get this one after maxing things out. Google a guide to learn how to gain a specialization. I went Elixir specialization which gave me extra flask procs. To do this I had to make a few flasks and get some weird components that dropped in Caverns of Time: Black Morass. Two clears and I was done there; at level 85 even a shadow priest can solo that place. No big deal.

Back to leveling. When you hit Northrend level, there should be lots of mats on the auction house for you. If you have a jewelcrafter, one cheap way to get enchanting mats is to craft a whole bunch of rings – the Sun Rock Ring takes two Crystallized Earth and a bloodstone. It mostly disenchants into dust but sometimes Cosmic Essence instead and is extremely cost effective.

Either profession is very easy to power level these days, if you invest a couple hours and maybe 2000 gold. Enchanting is slower, and slightly more annoying IMO.  Once you get toward max level, you can level your alchemy with transmuting gems but for enchanting you’re going to have to go to Twilight Highlands and  buy some patterns – so if you’re not 84 yet you can’t complete enchanting. Alchemy, you can get well before you’re 85, if you’re interested.

There’s leveling guides out there that tell you the “most efficient/cost effective” way to level either but basically those assume that your auction house will actually have the componentst, or that you’re spending the time yourself. I find that the best way to do things is just make what you have mats for. Don’t make green recipes, unless it’s the last skilling-up recipe you have that uses a particular mat. Don’t get frustrated; it’s better to walk away and come back later.

If you’re looking to switch a profession, now is a pretty darn good time to do so. There’s plenty of mats on the auction house, the power levellers have already been past, and – well, it’s cold outside, you probably are spending lots of time on WoW anyway.

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Four Down

Our raid continues, Friday and Saturday nights. I think our roster is finally firming up. Ado’s shadow priest levelled from 60 to 85 and geared up in probably record time and was able to join us the first time this week; we had one of our paladins drop out two weeks ago so we’re not so melee heavy; I finally bit the bullet and brought in Kerick the paladin to heal. I wanted to have Repgrind on her mage but, we have a mage and a shadow priest and the one druid/two shaman heal team was…. not working out. Don’t get me wrong; both our shaman are great healers but we needed more single-target oomph.

That change happened partway through Friday night’s Magmaw attempts. Our team was a little different this week than last week and it took about 8 tries to get him down. Logarithm was solo tanking him for I believe the first time; Reversion initially tried boomkin-ing, but then swapped to his hunter. With two hunters, the worms didn’t have a chance. Once we got our kiting strategy down, Magmaw collapsed once again. And dropped a lovely leather agility bracer. That Reversion would have loved… if he hadn’t been on his hunter. Oh, and the spell dagger for the second week in a row, poor Karius would have loved that if I hadn’t made Rep switch to healing.

Then we went and worked on Omnitron. As a raid we hadn’t worked on it at all yet, although our melee shaman had healed attempts for the other guild raid, Ado of course has killed it many times with his main, and two of us had at least seen a couple wipes. Still it was essentially a totally new fight for us, and I was really proud how fast we picked up on things. Sure, a few times people ran the big beam of death through the raid, and we had one or two people get eaten by adds, and once I stood too close to a boss as he came up and got nommed before the tank could taunt it off – but the learning happened fast, and we got that kill decently before closing time.  Another first for our raid, and our guild!

Saturday night we went to Bastion of Twilight right off. We had originally planned a three tank strategy but the third tank, not a regular, got called into work at the last minute so we went with a two tank plan instead. Reversion tanked the boss and got Hand of Protection to get stacks off; Logarithm did the adds. We brought up the whelps and single targeted them. Once a few were dead, Log released the Time Warden and tanked him as well. Raid burned down the whelps and other dragon and then we burned the boss.

Our first try went so beautifully. The whelps died, dragon died, we got on the boss, burned him down, down – I lost Rev, battled rezzed him, we kept going, then we lost Log but by then we had the adds down. 10%… 5%… and he enraged at 3%. We got him a tiny bit further and wiped at 2%.

Ouch. Went back in, found some of us had forgotten to flask, while others said they didn’t flask until after the first attempt, which… I disagree with vehemently, because of just this sort of thing. We would have one shot him if a couple people had had a bit more dps, or if we hadn’t let Log drop there. But it didn’t matter now. We picked ourselves up, buffed, flasked, and did the same thing, again perfectly, and this time Halfus died.

Finally. We’ve been working on him for weeks now. This was a hugely satisfying kill. I’d been sure that all we needed was a slightly more favorable drake configuration, and now we had it. We’d done so much work, come sometimes heartbreakingly close, with hard drakes, and now all the hard work paid off. We know this fight intimately, and I expect we’ll be able to manage harder drake combos as they come back up because we’ll start having more gear.

Since that took less than an hour, we had lots of time left, so as planned we went to Throne of Four Winds and killed the Council of Air again. Took a few tries; Log hadn’t been in on our successful attempt last week, we had a few people in different roles,  and some bad luck with the ranged platform getting blown off a lot. Still, they died in the end, and with an hour left, we went BACK to Bastion and pressed on.

We killed trash toward the twin dragons. All night we hadn’t had an epic drop so it was time for one, and when I pointed out the sparklies on a kill that wasn’t mine to loot halfway through a trash pull, someone looked at it. “Agility leather”. I was surprised; I know the Bastion trash loot table, and there’s no agility leather there, but sure enough there it was, a purple hat – a world drop BOE epic! Cool!

Well, it went to Reversion of course. Nobody else in the raid could use it, he could, and it was his birthday so obviously that was meant for him! Someone did say something about how everyone should be allowed to roll on it for selling but I hope he was joking. Still, there’s a reason why we use master looter powers. We are trying to prevent loot drama, but if it’s going to happen, I intend to hold the ace cards.

So! Loving our raid. I’m so thrilled to be making real progress. Four kills, three of them guild firsts (and with four kills I think our guild is now somewhere around server 20th. Our server…. is weak.) People show up, do their jobs, and have fun. I can’t wait to do more progressing, see more fights. We need a little more work to get our current kills to real farm status, obviously, but once we do I’m excited to see how far we can get!

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