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Archive for February, 2011

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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Filling Dead Air

In radio, the one thing you don’t want is “dead air” – nobody talking. It makes people change channels. In blogging, is no post better than a stupid one? I don’t actually know.

We’ve been in a holding pattern the last few days. I’ve been under the weather, not literally like my northern guildies, but metaphorically, dealing with flu. We’ve got raid night tonight and tomorrow so I’m excited for that but so far this week – another Baradin Hold bosskill, yawn. A couple random heroics. My T11 2 piece set bonus – achieved last night – coolness. It’s feeling very mid winter, that quiet stretch of time between Christmas and spring where you just hang out and exist.

Our guild is running a fishing contest – http://crittys.wordpress.com/ – and I’m falling further behind the leaders (fishing on my mage, Invariant) but having fun. If we haven’t got the fish achievement yet it should fall shortly, and then, fish feasts for all! Lokicat, you’re insane though; 1,500 fish in four days? Yikes!

I love our guild. So much – the last four months of WoW have been so awesome. Moving when we did was totally the right call. We had time to finish our Wrath goals and jump into Cataclysm fresh off the start. A lot of bloggers seem to be going through the guild drama/raid drama/WoW goals drama that we knew would come for us at the start of Cata if we didn’t move. I just want to urge anyone who is hesitant, make the move to that guild or server you’ve been considering now.  The expansion is still young, conquer it with people you want to be with!

And we’re coming up on our first bloggiversary here in two weeks.  We’ll probably have some retrospective type posts then but wow, what a ride. Totally didn’t see this coming when we started!

Have a great weekend, y’all. Us? We have to figure out how to balance Raid Night with Reversion’s birthday tomorrow; tradition calls for lobster, but raid night commitments mean we have to be back before 7… ah well, with Nomster, the romantic dinners tend to be a bit more practical and less candlelit anyway :)

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Audit

Corporate Raider

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Once And Future Raid

Sunday afternoon we put together a group of guildies and went to ICC.

“Wait,” you might say. “ICC? That’s old content! Bah, casuals!”

Well, yes, it is old content but there’s a lot of people who never did kill Arthas. And we had our eyes on the prize; a shiny title for killing Arthas on heroic, and that darn Frostbrood Vanquisher mount. It sure is one sexy dragon…

So after a little while to convince people to come, wait for them to get out of heroics, find someone capable of off tanking, we were off. We summonsed those who were lagging behind and off we went. Reversion said at the outset, “As long as we take these fights serious, they’ll be a cakewalk. If we treat them like a cakewalk, we’ll wipe.” So we explained each fight – we had several people who didn’t know the fights, didn’t know them on heroic, didn’t remember them any more, you get the picture – and if we were trying to do an achievement as well as the heroic mode, told people that strategy. For many of the fights we did do both at once. Other fights were just too much of a pain; Lady Deathwhisper’s achievement we left for another time and a couple we screwed up, like Boned! and Portal Jockey.

It was really sad to see the epic purple shiny loots drop and be useless now, incidentally.

Three hours in and we faced down Sindragosa, having wiped only on the Princes and then only because the off tank didn’t realize who he was tanking. But Sindy has always been harder, we had one person who wasn’t in vent and about four who didn’t know the fight at all..

First try we got a frost tomb in raid right off, boom, wipe. Second try we nearly got her but again had some carelessness with tombs at the end. We were close – but we were out of time.

We plan to go back until we get those drakes. It’ll take several weeks since I think we’re going to have to kill Arthas on normal for his achievement, coordinate getting people bitten or not for “Once Bitten” achievement, and “All You Can Eat” looks like a pain in the butt. Ugh.

We had tons of fun, it was a great guild activity and we’re looking forward to finishing it off. The fights are still a good time and you have to pay attention to mechanics at least somewhat – not as easy to cheese as BC raids are now – and honestly I would recommend it to any group looking for something a little different. So our titles won’t mean as much as those who earned theirs back in the day; it’s still achievement points!

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