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Archive for June, 2011

For the &#$% Horde

Note: Spoilers for the new Thrall quests

Note: I have some very good friends who play Horde. This isn’t directed at all Horde, just the ones making my life miserable and the ones who apparently work at Blizzard.

Note: This is going to get whiny.

I hopped online last night on Analogue and headed for Hyjal, looking to start the dailies quest chain. I hadn’t really read much about the quests so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I checked the Heroes’ Call board and then, over at the portals, I found another quest. Someone wanted me to help out Thrall. Sigh. Ok sure, whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely a cool character – but I don’t like Thrall and I really don’t like the idea of him being the big “neutral” character this time around. Maybe it’s racism to prefer Tirion Fordring, but I felt like that paladin put his money where his mouth was. He basically went into exile for trying to promote understanding between Horde and Alliance. He has the cred to stand there and say “this is bigger than both of us.”

Thrall… did what, exactly? I don’t roleplay but my main IS a night elf druid and I can’t help but notice Thrall doing exactly nothing to prevent the devastation of the woodlands of Kalimdor, and that’s even before Catacylsm.  As warchief, he talked a good game about unity and all. But his actions were…. rather mediocre. I never got the sense that peace meant much more to him than a way to chat up Jaina Proudmore. His idea of interspecies relations seemed about the same level.

Anyway. So no, so far this expansion having Thrall as the hero wasn’t my cup of tea. And his girlfriend Agra kind of pisses me off. At least they gave her a new voice. For a while there I thought maybe Thrall wasn’t into women, because his girlfriend sounded like a guy.

But there we are in Hyjal to repair the world tree. We’ve got druids and shaman, representatives of night elves and tauren. Cool. We’ve even got ol’ snappy dresser himself, Malfurion, and – ok, Twilight Cultists, kind of saw that coming. And now they’re threatening Thrall because he’s the chosen one or some such and poof, he’s gone. Everyone gives up on him pretty fast except his girlfriend and she’s pretty desperate. I guess I can help her out. So we’re off to Uldum to talk to wind spirits.

The wind platform was where I first realized what a mess this might be. There’s  dozens of air elementals spawning and dying, and dozens of players killing them. Horde and Alliance. It’s a PVE server, so why are most of the Horde flagged? People are complaining in general chat about the Horde ganking them and I figure out pretty quickly that there’s a pack of griefers here. They’re waiting for someone to accidentally use an AOE, or tab target a flagged Hordie, and get flagged themselves.

Ok, I’m a boomkin right now anyway. Single target it is. I very carefully start killing stuff and make it all the way through without flagging.

For the earth and water parts, I work equally carefully. At the water place the only time I have trouble is when I’m trying to interact with Aggravating, mostly it’s fine. The earth spot is the same story as the winds place  – and as I kill my last elemental, I tab too fast and moonfire a tauren druid. Crap. I quickly shapeshift to bird form and go wait out my debuff.

Then…. to the Firelands. And this is a nightmare. It’s more crowded than the other place, with mobs that have to be killed in the right place at the right time and a squad of ten horde just making life tricky. Inevitably I tab-target something, and bang, I’m dead. And then I realize the worst part. Why it is the gankers are hanging out. The quest progress gets reset when you die. I just wasted ten minutes.

Sigh. I wait very carefully, shadowmelded in a corner, til the debuff goes away. I come back and I do it right.

Save Thrall, blah blah blah story, blah blah, hey that’s a nice cape even if it doesn’t have spirit! Cool! Back to Hyjal to do the other stuff, the ones that will open dailies.

See, what annoys me about getting ganked was twofold. First, Blizzard had to know this would happen. It would have been insanely easy to prevent it; just make Aggra radiate “Sanctuary” to an area whatever size it needed to be around her.  We’ve seen NPCs for epic quest chains before that radiate auras of infinite health or total pacification or whatever; she could have made it impossible to attack the other faction.

Second…. to the Hordies out ganking…. I was trying to help your freakin’ war chief and that’s the thanks I get? Your priorities sure are screwed up.

Again. Whiny post. Not directed at people who play Horde and aren’t jerks and I’m sure you met Alliance jerks doing these quests on your servers. Idiots are idiots. It just annoys me that Blizzard wouldn’t put in rudimentary safeguards.  I don’t mind pvp, even world pvp, but gank fests are not fun.

And again. Thrall is utterly uninspiring as a save the world person, to me. I get that some people at Blizzard think he’s the Second Coming. On toast. And want his babies. I’m fine with that. But seriously, if you want him to have some appeal to us…. have him do some reaching out to the Alliance. Send him to Hellscream and tell that boy to see reason, or something. Because right now it feels like the Alliance is bending over backwards to try to face the threats to our world together with the Horde – and  we’re getting screwed.

 

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So here I am planning for my weekend raid. Rev’s out, and so is Slice, one of our two mages. And we had Drama last week that means I’m having to fill a melee slot in our roster, but I’ve got that filled. I’m going through my mental list of guildies, friends, etc, and it hits me.

What WoW really needs is one night stands.

What I mean by that is – I chat with lots of bloggers who play on lots of servers. Somewhere out there is probably a tank who’d love to help me out this weekend, to get our Nefarion kill at last and then do some Firelands. But he’s on another server, and he’s not going to transfer just to help me out for one week.

What if Blizzard offered temporary, cheap character transfers? What if you could pay them $5 and be on my server for two days? That would be so awesome. People who needed tanks or a spare mage for one night could advertise their needs. People who pug raids regularly could look for likely-seeming runs. People thinking about a server transfer to play with a new guild could try before they made the jump.

Yes, there could be problems, mostly related to gold selling or destabilizing the Auction House, but that could be solved. Make it so that a transferred character can’t take anything back with him, or something. I just think it would be awesome to be able to play wherever I wanted, when I wanted.

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This is what I miss

Saturday night we only had 6 people so we picked up two guildies and went to ICC. It was awesome. Reminded me what we’re missing this raid tier – the grandness, the scale. I’m so sick of fighting in rooms, nothing but rooms. ICC was awesome and grand and….

 

I took this one because of the funny bug where one dragon’s corpse is in the air. There’s Sindragosa, circling. As soon as you see her, you can practically hear her annoying screech. It’s memorable and epic. None of the current fights do that for me. I like the fights themselves. Had a great time with them. But there was no story, no coherent narrative. After we killed her we went and had a word with her boss. Even now, that fight is wonderful. And the cinematic still makes me vaguely weepy.

 

Here we are, all dead, Arthas triumphant, his ghosts waiting for our souls. Not even the Fail Angel behind him is going to win. But – Tirion is just about to summon his last reserves and jump out of that ice cube…. and we’re going to get our second chance.

Here’s hoping that the Firelands are more epic than Tier 11 was.

I’m just looking forward to fighting outside!

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Planning For a Break

Rev’s got a business trip coming up. I’m planning to keep our raid going but during the 10-ish days he’s gone, I’m not totally sure what I’m going to do.

Firelands is going to drop so I could do rep grinds on my main and my mage. I’m letting everyone else ignore the new dailies for now.

I could work hard on my baby shaman. She’s 68 now! Hurrah! No more freaking Outlands!

I could go level horde. Problem is I don’t know what to level. I think about the character creation screen and freeze up.

But I know me and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get super anti social while he’s out of town. So there’s part of me…. a big part… that’s thinking fondly of the few hours I’ve spent in the Shire. Wandering the woods, the fields… wondering if Bilbo might be at home in Bag End… and LOTRO is free to play…

Or, I could just read books. I wonder if Reversion would be mad if I spent all our money at the bookstore again?

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Friday we went and hit Throne of the Four Winds hard. After two… amusingly embarrasing…. wipes on Conclave we were ready for the main event. I’m blaming Log for both of those. Or rather Log’s fishing hat. It totally had nothing to do with me getting distracted and dying the first time. Or on try two,  Log dc’ing and me deciding to 1. Growl at the boss to get him out of the green circle and then 2. Switch back to healer mode while the boss was hitting me.

Anyway. Then it was time to work on Al Akir. After about two hours of wipes I was ready to go somewhere else but the raid overruled me and we stuck around. After a few more attempts things started getting better – we had an attempt where we got him below 6%.

I whispered to Kerick as we ate fish that our kill attempt would be chaotic, but soon. We’d have about 4 people  left alive. I would not be one of them. And she’d have 80% mana.

The next attempt, we did an awesome job at phase 1 and 2. We grouped up well for Phase 3. We got him lower…. and lower… and lower. I died. Other people died. Then he died.

Woot! 11/12!

And there were 5 people alive. I was dead. And Kerick had 80% mana. ><

I die a lot on our progression fights and I feel like I’m healing myself lots, I’m staying out of bad… I just need to prioritize myself I think.

Saturday we worked hard on Nef. Got into P3 several times, really starting to have a feel for that fight. We’re hoping to down him Friday. After that we start having raid attendance issues. Sigh.

Oh and after two and a half hours on Nef we went to BOT and cleared it. One wipe, on the Council. Then set up for Cho’gall – and we one shot him. Nobody even died. Not even me. It was awesome.

Those freaking paladin shoulders dropped AGAIN. At least we had a priest along this time to give them to. Next time Kerick is getting tier pieces for her off spec.

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Last night Rev and I took some alts to a guild raid that’s trying to get itself established. I went along as a paladin healer and he brought his hunter.

This raid has had ups and downs. It had a more stable roster a month ago and now it’s struggling. At this point there’s basically 5-6 guildies who raid on their mains, coming on alts; one or two guildies who only run this raid; and then they fill in where they can get it.

Last night, we had a role swap  – one of the tanks really wanted to heal instead, and the raid leader, who had been one of the healers, agreed to bring her new tank. So we had two people in roles they don’t usually do.  But we also had one long term tank, and all three of us healers heal on our mains in other raids.

We were short three dps though so the raid leader went to trade and picked us up two mages (making a total of three) and a shaman.  Then we got started.

When Magmaw took a few tries I knew it was going to be a long night. First we had to teach the new tank how to do it. Even when you’ve done Magmaw dozens of times as a healer or dps, learning how to tank him takes trial and error. Then we had people standing in the wrong place. After one bad try where we got three pillars of flame right by the raid, the pugged shaman started saying we should change our strategy to the everyone stay out at range strategy. Unfortunately, there were a couple problems. First, he was the one who had dropped the pillars in the wrong place by not standing in melee. Second, he wasn’t in Vent. He’d insisted he knew the fight and could manage without it, and we’d agreed to let him try. Third, this wasn’t his raid and here he was firmly stating that we needed to change our strategy.

And his final straw came when, as the raid leader was inspecting him and realizing he had no gems and enchants, he started calling out the frost mage for not having redeployed his pet after the wipe yet.

We removed him, and just then a guildie showed up, an enhancement shaman who had run with us before. She’s a good player and I felt good about her coming.

We finally killed Magmaw then moved over to Omnitron. Same thing. It took some learning.  The healer team was not communicating and I feel like our heals were not spread around quite right. We had me on a paladin, a druid, and a holy priest. I was doing way too much raid healing and letting tanks drop. But when I switched to just tank healing it seemed like the raid died.

One attempt we got to under 2% before the last person died. So exasperating! But we healers just had gone out of mana. That attempt took over 11 minutes. The dps was just not there… Reversion was pulling something like 17k and was at least 4.5k higher than anyone else there.

And there were other issues. One of our pugged mages could not seem to switch targets; I had to cleanse her every time Toxitron was up because she didn’t switch fast enough. People didn’t run away from slimes. People didn’t run away when they had Lightning Conductor. Yes, guild members and myself were making mistakes but the puggers were way worse than we were.  It felt to me like most of our mistakes – mine and my guildies – were due to knowing the fight but not being on our main. Whereas the puggers just didn’t know the fight.

On the other hand, even those who know the fights don’t always know every bit. One of my guildies whispered me saying that she wished the green cloud wouldn’t get dropped on the mana puddle all the time. I asked if she knew that the green cloud doesn’t CAUSE damage, it just increases damage taken. She said no, she always ran away right away because her GTFO addon was yelling at her.

I bit my tongue. That’s the number one reason I won’t use an addon like GTFO. It tries to substitute for knowing the mechanics of the fight with a simple “get out of this” when there’s way more to it than that. There are many times in Omnitron where you can quite safely stand in that green cloud. And many times when you can’t. Knowing the difference is really key.

Anyway, we finally killed them, went downstairs, and pulled Maloriak. We executed the fight perfectly, stacked up, spread out, killed adds, interrupted stuff. And we hit the enrage timer with 15% still to go on the boss. Ouch.

One of the dps – one of the pugged mages – wanted to try again even after we explained that this wasn’t happening. I’m not sure how he expected to pull that much more dps out. But it was quitting time anyway and most of us could do the math.

Anyway the whole thing confirmed to me that A. I really really like my Fri/Sat raid group. They’re a great group of people, fast learners, and actually listen. And B. I would rather bring someone’s alt, who knows the  fight but maybe isn’t great with the class, than someone who doesn’t know the fight at all.

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I’ve been leveling my shaman for a while now. She’s reaching the end of Outlands and I can’t wait to get to Northrend. I have been a little burnt out on BC dungeons this time so I’m doing more questing.

She did basically every quest in Zangarmarsh. That wasn’t too awful, they were fairly well spread out. Then she bogged down. Went over and did the Nesingwary and Ring of Blood stuff in Nagrand. I’ve always liked those. Especially when I can make my husband come and one shot Ring of Blood with his hunter.

But in general the BC quests have been like pulling teeth. Wisdom teeth. No anesthetic.  I think I figured out why, too, when I was over in Terokkar Forest. I stopped by Allerian Stronghold and picked up a dozen quests. That in and of itself seems so odd these days; “modern” quest design gives you three quests, maybe, all related, that you do and turn in.

No matter. I had to collect seeds, kill Warp Stalker, collect wolf tails, kill peons, kill Arroaka…. the usual.

It was the wolf tail quest that got me. I was supposed to collect 12 of them. In “modern” design, that would mean that every wolf dropped a tail. In BC design, apparently the drop rate was about 40%. I  had to kill over 30 wolves to get enough.

Then I went to kill Arroakka. I believe the quest told me to kill 6 of one sort and  20 of another. I had a quest to take out their leaders too. I flew up to the leaders, assassinated them, and killed their guards. Great; now I have to kill 17 Arakkoa Strikers or whatever they are. Oh – the other annoying bit was the leaders were in three camps, fairly separate, so I had to fly around looking for them. One camp was well out of the way…

Kill 20 whatevers isn’t that big a deal, but these days, I’d expect to see a quest that says “kill any 20 Arakkoa”, not “20 Strikers and 6 shaman”. I much prefer the mix and match sort.

Same with drop quests. If it’s a number greater than 6, I expect guaranteed drops. If it’s more than 20 I expect multi drops!

I would rather have three different quests requiring me to kill different wolves, than one quest that required 3x wolf death.

I doubt that revamping BC is very high on Blizzard’s priorities. Northrend was a lot closer to “modern” quest design if I remember right. But it does occur to me that Blizz has set my standards a lot higher. Any other game that comes along and wants to woo me had better do quests that are at least up to the easy and story level of Cataclysm.

Reversion tells me stories about other MMOs he played, Asian grindfests where literally all you did was go out and kill mobs until you levelled. I can’t even imagine that being fun. It occurs to me that a lot of our complaints about WoW are kind of silly when you compare it to other games. And the thing that makes me think WoW has more life in it than the naysayers think is that WoW improves itself. It reinvents itself. 6 years ago, “kill 20 whatevers” was state of the art questing and a huge improvement over all the competition. Today, “you and NPC Bob proceed through the zone, having an adventure and a story, while doing quests that support that story” is the new bar that any other game must meet.

 

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