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Archive for the ‘Personal Story’ Category

We’d just hit 84 and were off in Uldum, helping Harrison Jones, when suddenly, the world went red.

What’s going on?

 

Wait… what’s that heading for us in cloud and shadow and flame? That’s the biggest dragon I’ve ever seen and he’s heading right at me!

 

Your World Will End in Flames.

 

And, of course, in an achievement. Sweet! Even dinging 85 wasn’t as much a rush as seeing that giant dragon of doom coming toward us. How are we going to kill this guy? I can’t even imagine..

 

And a bonus screenshot of the best thing since RocketBare:

 

CamelBare!

 

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So let me set the stage… A few days before that Cataclysm dropped I got my warrior to level 80 (yaah). So I queued for a few runs because I was bored. Most of them were normal mode. Here I am, fresh dinged 80 with no gear to speak up and I got in a couple runs with raiders that were helping an alt get a trinket. One of those runs was a normal PoS run and I think all the DPS were averaging over 5k dps. It was some of the hardest tanking I have done. Why? Because I challenged myself to hold all the agro. Sure those guys could take the hits. I probably could have gone AFK. But nah, I like a challenge. So I tanked it. And while I did not so much ‘hold’ agro, I did juggle it so that most of the critters hit me most of the time. Really I pulled out all the stops, hammered keys, bounced around like crazy, and in the end really impressed myself with what I was able to keep up with.

There is a point to this, and it is not to brag. Right after that I got in a Heroic PoS and, despite again really pulling out all the stops and stretching that little gnome warrior, I just could not get Tyrannous down. At some point you hit a wall of ‘gear’ where the tank can’t take the hits and the healer (who was good but also under geared badly) can’t heal them.

So that is the stage going into Cata. We started leveling our main druid pair first and it went well. I knew bear swipe had been nerfed 20% according to the patch notes. I also knew I was losing my 20% swipe 10 set bonus. Also I knew that healing was nerfed and everything was going to be hard again. All that means I expected it to be somewhat challenging in places, and in places it was.

And then we ran instances. Yep, challenging, very challenge. I marked stuff, our very good DPS friends (like RepGrind) CCed stuff. We usually had good DPS levels. Almost 100% of our runs were with guildies. And it was hard but it went ok. Love the new instances, love the new mechanics, but this post is not really about that. I ran a few runs with another tank in the guild and we did less CC on those. I also ran with one of the other raid leaders and he commented how the other runs he was on they CCed less and stuff. Honestly it really pissed me off. How dare anyone think these Cata runs were easy, they were HARD.

Finally I noticed something…. Some adds were quite simply ignoring my aoe threat. They would run right through it when no one else should have had much threat on them. Hmm.. strange. Maybe I need to get Thrash fired off more often. Maybe move a few abilities around. So I went looking for some macros and stuff. Had to Google around to see how they changed the syntax on a swipe macro…

Then, just as I was almost done tuning my macro I ran into a link to this on wow-head’s swipe entry:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1127127739

[Analogue edit: this thread is an even more detailed "whodunit" sorta rundown for number muncher types: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1118442888]

I checked the numbers they posted against what my meters were saying and it is pretty much right. Bear swipe got somewhere around a 75 to 80 percent nerf.

80% reduction? To swipe? EIGHTY PERCENT??!?!!!

Holy freaking crud no wonder those runs were so dang hard. I have NO AOE threat. How did we even get through those? Why did it take me that long to notice?

Well that last question I could figure out. I had just been on that warrior, for the last few runs before cata. Really compared to those runs it was almost easier. It took me getting my bear to 85 before it really sank in that the runs had been nearly has hard as having the whole party with vastly better gear. I had literally run every other instance in the expansion and was starting the last one (Grim Batol) when I figured this out.

Bears are broken. I hate to say it be they are. Bliz needs to fix this bug ASAP.

Interestingly I had noticed that my ‘how to work your bear in 4.0.1-4.0.3’ post from the other week had been getting a lot of google hits. Now I know why.

For those not yet leveling in Cata who hope Thrash will fix it for you, it will not. It does similar damage levels as swipe, and only adds a tiny little bleed effect. For those of you that are not 85 and were hoping max level would fix the issues for you, it will not.

But hang in there. It IS possible to tank everything here as a bear, you just might need a tiny bit more gear than your pally friends (may they and their three target taunts and their ranged multi target silences and their non-nerfed aoe dps all die horribly in a fire). But you CAN do it. Some of the fights are going to be so hard as to challenge you. Remember to use tab and spread around some other threat besides Swipe. And mark targets for your DPS. If you don’t at least give them a skull to shoot at you will have much much more trouble.

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Holy Shock, Batman!

So this weekend we transferred my paladin and Rev’s spare druid over to our new home on Winterhoof. I pulled the paladin out and started figuring things out. We were planning to do an alt raid that night and I needed to get either my tank set or my holy set back up.

I decided to start with the tank set. I grabbed a belt, added some new gems, and queued up for heroics. I’d gone ahead and re-specced her already so I thought I was ready. It had been a while but paladin tanking had always been fun, I’d pulled 3k+ dps while holding aggro like a pro. No problem. Right?

Ouch. After an instance run where I struggled to pull more than 900 dps, couldn’t keep anything on me to save my life and was absolutely lost as to what I was doing, I went and read more details. Ok… so either Crusader Strike or Hammer of the Righteous, but not both. Excorcism Consecration (edit: brain fart. Thanks for the comments) maybe but it’s not as good as it was. And Holy Wrath is better than before. Let’s try again.

Three hours later I was still miserable. Tanking just wasn’t fun any more. With reluctance I switched spec and gear. I stared at my blank talents, going “uh….” and then went over to Blessing of Kings and grabbed a spec and plugged it in to my own talents. Then I replaced my 219 shield with a ilvl 270 pvp shield, queued as healer, and we’re off.

Ok… so. Beacon still works, just not as much. And Holy Shock gives me holy power. And Word of Glory is a nice heal when I’ve got enough HoPo. And heals-with-a-cast-time on my beacon target generate HoPo… hmm. I can do this. No Sacred Shield but that one was always dumb anyway. And Holy Crap I Can Shoot Lasers From My Hands.

Wait… this is FUN! Whoa!

See, I never really like paladin healing before. It felt like a one-note pony: beacon the tank, roll flash of light or holy light. Meh. And in 5 mans I just didn’t have the tools I really needed to keep people alive.

Now I have big heals, little heals, fast heals, slow heals, instant heals, auto-self-heals, auto-Beacon-heals, and an AOE. Seriously? It’s like being a druid! I have choices and have to change my priorities second by second.

One guess what spec I took to that raid! I had a blast there, healing in a team with another pally and a shaman. Way too much fun. I think I’ll keep this holy spec… but I may have to switch from prot to ret.

Or a dual-Holy-build. Some of those other talents look fun.

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There’s been some brouhaha in the blogosphere recently about the role of DPS classes in 5 mans. Are they just supposed to obediently follow the tank, should they be given more consideration, does the healer regard them as nothing more than useless mana-sinks? Really it’s the sort of thing I don’t think we’re going to be talking about any more once the expansion hits, at least not for a year or so, because we’re resetting the gear curve and things are going to be hard again.

That’s my theory, see: ease of content is promoting an attitude of “I can do it all myself, what do I need these other four losers for?” even in basically decent players. How many stories have you heard of a tank-and-healer out-dpsing the three dpsers – and laughing at them? Or the hunter who did 12k, pulled the boss off on himself, but got the pet to tank it so it was fine?

In less than a month we’ll be back to the old dance, where everyone had to know his part and follow it. But for now, here’s some thoughts. First, from my uber-geared-healer side: Shut up and follow the tank. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe he’s nuts and pulling three groups at once (Hi Reversion love) or takes forever to pull just one, or is going some really non standard way – I once had a tank go RIGHT in Nexus, can you believe it?

But he is standing between me and nasty big things with teeth and curses and I will let him do that. If you stick near us, you’ll get heals. I throw them at anyone who is in range. If you aren’t? If you’re on your own optimal path, or see some side path you think needs exploring? Don’t expect me with you. This is for your own good.

No, really. See, when you pull more than you can handle, you’ll die. If I’m there, maybe I can keep you alive. Maybe I can’t. Either way the mobs are going to attack me too. Then I die. Then we have a long run back.

However, if you die nicely where you are, maybe the tank and I will come and rez your butt.  Heck, I might even innervate you if you’re a mana using class. I won’t need that spell for myself until Cataclysm.

See, there’s only one of me. Even if I could guaranteed keep you and me alive – what happens to the tank in the meantime? Or the other two dpsers? There’s four of you. Assuming you all come into the instance and run in different directions, I can only be with one of you at a time.

Now, the other side of things. This weekend I ran a Deadmines on my level 20 hunter alt. She’s heirloomed up, she has two different pets to choose from, she kills things so fast it ain’t funny. I get a group: there’s a priest healing and a druid tanking. There’s also a paladin and a shaman.

The druid goes tearing along like you expect. Then he gets to the room with the first boss. Somehow everything gets pulled at once (no it wasn’t me doing it) and he dies. I switch my pet to growling, keep aggro off the healer, the healer keeps us up, we finish, we rez the tank, who says something really dismissive to the healer. And then the tank rolls Need on the cloth gloves that just dropped, that the priest rolled on.

The priest asks the druid not to roll on intellect cloth. The druid says, and I kid you not, “I use mana too”. And then again criticizes the priest’s healing.

I chime in to say that intellect is spellpower, now, and a tank doesn’t need it. I get told to “shut up huntard” and asked whether I know how to druid tank. I refuse to play this epeen-waving game and we continue.

The druid now is in cat form. He stays in cat form the rest of the instance. The paladin throws Righteous Fury up and soaks a lot of aggro, I keep my pet ready to growl things off me if I can. However, I’m doing so much damage that basically every mob runs over and beats on me.

The healer does an amazing job and I don’t die, but my damage is now terrible because, well, I’m a hunter and all these things won’t stay at range. So now the tank starts mocking me. I point out how if he was doing his job I could do mine. “Learn 2 hunter” is his reply.

What exactly should I do? Feign Death? Don’t have it. Freezing trap? Don’t have it. Misdirect? Don’t have it. Disengage? Don’t have it.

At some point we finally get out of combat long enough that the priest is able to initiate a vote kick, reason “ninjaing loot”. I vote yes. The vote fails.

“Stop being loot whores” is what one of the other two dps say. I sigh.  The group continues.

This is the incredible thing to me. The healer is being mocked, when his skills are actually above average. He’s not getting most of his loot. He’s dealing with inconsiderate, jerkish people. Me? I would have sat down and not gone any farther, or let the tank die, or something. But he didn’t.

As a low level dpser, I had two choices: drop group or keep putting up with this crap. I stayed. Maybe I should have dropped  but at that point I was rolling need on spell drops so I could give them to the priest. It felt like I’d be abandoning a comrade in a pit of suck to leave now. So I shut up and followed the tank.

On thinking about it, I am depressed but think it was still the best choice. It was that or leave, and it didn’t really violate my principles enough for me to leave in a snit. What I didn’t do was head off on my own and kill something I’d decided needed killing, because that wasn’t my job and because that would have made it harder for the healer, who at that point was the only person in the instance I thought was innocent of blame. Even though the tank was wrong and he sucked, I could only have made the situation worse by independent action, not better.

But I don’t think I’m going into lowbie dungeons without at least Reversion again. Two of us makes a powerful force against stupidity.

Still, I think all of us need to steal a motto from somewhere else. I’d suggest “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”, but man, that  one gets harder all the time. Maybe “First, Do No Harm” would work?

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Once, months ago, I read a lovely blog post over at Righteous Orbs about a Naxx Run featuring a Real Girl Paladin Healer Who Could Solo Heal This Place.

Friday night, I was that healer.

Ok, so I hope I wasn’t that snotty, and I was a druid, not a paladin, but we went to Naxx and since I was setting the thing up I had the pleasure of telling everyone they could go DPS on most fights. We were eight; we were doing the “fewer than 9″ achievement for completing Naxx. We had my brother, who hadn’t been in Naxx before. Reversion and I didn’t do Naxx on anything like a regular basis, so we were going for the fun. We had a great group of guildies – Repgrind, of course, was one – and man, we had a blast there. Multi the Shaman went heals on the fights where we needed two healers, like Thaddius and the Horsemen.

It was like being Superman. Things died so fast they didn’t have time to do their schtick. Heigan? We wiped, once. The second time he died before the first dance phase. Wow. We got the time achievement for the spider wing without even trying. Gluth? Died before he could call his zombies to him, or decimate, or anything.

Yes, we wiped. Once on the dance, once on Patchwerk. Apparently if you don’t clear all the trash before him? Like the two rooms full that we walked past half of? It aggroes on you and eats you from behind. But we were – seriously, I think the top dps’er was doing more damage than some whole raids I was on, Back In The Day. Ok, those raids sucked, but still!

The night still being relatively young when we got Naxx done, and some of us realizing all we needed to be Champions of the Frozen Waste was Malygos, we went off to Eye of Eternity. Wow… what a nightmare. All this time I’d thought people were complaining about the mechanics of using a dragon, and couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I didn’t realize the graphics in that place were like a bad acid trip. And a migraine. On a boat. In a hurricane. In Fairy Princess Candyland.

Wait, where was I? Ugh. Well on the third try, Malygos died. I am never ever ever ever going back there; I was sick the next morning from that place.

Druid heals are so overpowered right now. I adore my mastery. Rejuv and Regrowth are awesome, I love love love Efflorescence. Healing Touch? Not touching that. I’ll use Nourish if I have to but I’m glorying in my flash-healing, hot-dealing powers of Nature-y nurturing. You know how overpowered I am?

I one-healed Saurfang and didn’t break a sweat.

Yes, my group was awesome. No, I didn’t intend to do any such thing. It’s just after our third wipe on Heroic Saurfang Saturday night, we set it to normal and I went to start him up. “That’s funny,” I said as I clicked him. “The boat disappeared.”

A minute later, and some muffled semi-cursing, I look and see Reversion, who was going to help me heal that fight, has – just disappeared. Yes, somehow he fell off the ledge. There was some sort of “Wait my run key is stuck – oh crap!” thing…. and I had started the event, we had no choice but to try the fight.

And four minutes later, after a single mark, Saurfang died. I wasn’t even out of mana. It would have been impossible if the raid had taken much unneccessary damage, but they killed beasts and avoided splash damage. like pros.

So druids, spread your newly-leafless wings and glory in being the healing gods that we are for this brief shining moment…

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So last week we were invited to a ten man serious ICC raid by our new guild. A couple of their regulars kindly stepped out to give us a shot at the Lich King. We spent most of Monday evening dying to Defiles.

Last night we got back together and went back. With one major change: Reversion had brought his hunter the week before, but last night, a tank was missing, so he brought in the bear. I’d had a chance to heal the first 11/12 fights the night before on 25 man (the new lockout system is weird but hasn’t screwed me up… yet…) and so I was feeling confident in my druid-y healing power. Incidentally I have a post in the works about that too, but right now…

We got set up and started. First attempt, my face got eaten by a ghost of some sort. Raging Spirit, I guess. I didn’t even see it; my nameplates were buggy. I got Tidy Plates turned back on and that helped a lot.

We started getting cleanly into the second phase, and having bad Defile placement, or a stun not going off on a Valkyr, or just random bad luck. But I could see we were getting better. I was feeling more competent, even if I wasn’t entirely sure what my best healing strategy was.

Then, suddenly, we were transitioning to third phase and I realized I had no idea what to do. We died, I got clarification, we came, we tried again, we failed in second phase, we came again, we got into third phase  – but the raid was torn in two by a defile and we wiped.

Back again. First phase, perfect. Transition, good. Second phase – good! We were careful with defiles. Second transition – clean this time. Nobody died. (I asked us to switch to using Resist aura instead of Ret and it seemed to give a nice edge)

Then suddenly, Reversion gives an exclamation behind me. He just got pulled into the sword. I’m too busy healing to look, but  I hear him say “Oh crap, I pulled off the guy”. I guess you shouldn’t taunt the mob in there! [Correction: Reversion pulled off with straight threat, not a taunt. Sorry, I was healing and heard things wrong!] But he got the thing killed and was back outside. I was in a groove of healing at that point, coldn’t have told you what the Lich King’s health was at – and then suddenly I was dead. But everyone on Vent was screaming – wait, we were ALL dead! We’d done it! I hadn’t even realized it, but we’d done it!

Teranas rezzed us, and I moonfired-spammed the Lich King. Now that was fun.

And then, he was dead.

A big thanks to the guildies. We’re so glad we transferred! Kalyon was the other tank, and the whole team was great.

So where do we go from here? Mostly depends on the guild’s needs. We loved raiding with this particular group, and the schedule worked great for us, and we’d love to stick with them but we know that their needs might not include us. We’ll see. In Cataclysm, we want to raid, and personally I like 10 man size better. There are just fewer headaches.

But at least this expansion, I feel like we “won”. We got Arthas down before Deathwing replaced him as the Big Bad. Months behind, yes, but….

We did it together!

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Start the weekend with a 25 man raid on ICC on Friday night with the guild. End it 48 hours later in a ten man. In between?

I had one weekend goal: to get my various collection of badges and stone keeper’s shards turned into heirlooms before the patch hit and the cost was prohibitive. Problem 1: I don’t know what my worgen is going to be. Goblin will be a shaman, but worgen? No idea.

Problem 2: turning in my stone keeper shards (over 500 on each of my two characters) requires us to win Wintergrasp. Which isn’t something you can count on….

Saturday morning Reversion wakes me up to tell me we own WG for the next 12 minutes so I should get it done now. I hop out of bed, grab the mage, buy some shoulders, grab the tree, buy the rest of the shoulders and the caster staff. I’m pretty sure whatever I roll will be  a caster, so I decide to get the cloth, leather, and mail caster gear. Ok, so if I roll a hunter I’ll be sorry, but maybe I’ll keep that for later in the expansion.

That done, I decide to stick around and help defend WG. I guess the Horde were sleeping in, because we knocked down the southern towers, defended against both pushes the made, and kept the keep. Ok! So let’s grind enough badges to get the chest pieces to go with the shoulders. I needed about 40….

Reversion tanked, we grabbed some guildies, and were off on a whirlwind grinding session. Wheee! I  got most of the way to my goal before time to go get our traditional Saturday burrito lunch. Came back, joined with the guild to run the weekly raid – XT needed to die, and we were just the ones to do it.

Those raids are so fun with a vent full of cheerful people. I drove a demolisher (working toward the win-in-all-three-vehicles achievement) and we skipped from FL to XT. On the way to XT, I made too enthusiastic a gesture and my mouse flew off my desk and hit the floor. Hard. I picked it up. The cursor moved… but the buttons weren’t clicking any more.

I scrounged around and with Reversion’s help, got an old wired mouse plugged in before the pull. Ugh! Good thing I was healing easy content, because with no side buttons I was having to target and use keys to throw anything besides Rejuv. I’ve gotten so used to click casting….

So after XT died, I told Reversion we were going to Best Buy and we piled in the van for the trip. It’s a good half hour’s drive – along the coast, with the ocean  on one side and the bright blue sky overhead and the windows down. Worth the trip just for the driving.

And there we were at Best Buy, staring at gaming input devices. Mice, keyboards, keypads, weird combo items… I’m drooling over the Naga and the WoW gaming mouse, but I know they’re useless to me. You see, they’re right handed. So am I – but I mouse exclusively left handed. (Don’t ask). I need an ambidextrous mouse.

Turns out there is such a thing. I pull the SteelSeries Xai out of the box (don’t tell! I felt guilty doing it) and fell in love  almost at once. A little large for my hand but not unworkable. Two buttons on each side. The best feeling mouse I’ve ever set hands on…. mmm.

Reversion meanwhile was looking over mice too. He decided to try the WoW branded gaming mouse (he ended up taking it back and going with a different one for reasons I’ll let him explain himself). And then we stared at the keyboards…

They had a handful of “gaming” keyboards. One was just a normal keyboard but with glowing lights and a funky shape. But the Logitech one actually looked…. cool. There’s a bank of 18 keys (three groups of two rows of three keys) on the left, and you switch them between three modes to toggle different modes. We could see some immediate applications… and the little led screen at the top looked cool…

Long story short, we walked out of Best Buy with a new keyboard and mouse for each of us. We spent the trip back discussing how we’d set things up. Then we were really really good and did our yardwork :) while our new toys sat inside for us.

And then it was playtime! We’re planning a real in-depth post on it later, but basically we used Bartender to make the keybindings work. Now I can have my healing and utility spells in one bank; press the mode key and grab the buff/out of combat stuff spells.

I had to do a screwy work-around to get two of the buttons on my mouse to work right. I love this mouse, but unlike most smart mice it doesn’t have enough key-click options. Two of the mouse buttons are mapped to “tilt right” and “tilt left” which didn’t seem to do anything that I could read. So I mapped those buttons to F11 and F12 and then had those keys trigger mouseover macros for the spells I wanted. Result, the clicks work the way I want to and I can just hang my mouse over the Vuhdo frame and do anything I want.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Church over, it’s time for some laziness before the evening 10 man. Only I signed on and immediately got asked to a TOC25. What the heck, sure. Pop in,  beasts are dead, so we start on Jaraxxus. Get him done, get Faction Champs. Time for times. The raid leader is explaining the fight for those who don’t know or can’t remember, and there’s a few of those. Doing a good job of explaining to – and then a hunter pulls. Argh. We pick it up, we fight, a few people die, we get it under control and they drop. Loot gets handed out. The hunter who started the pull dc’s. Apparently he wanted the trinket, didn’t get it, and so was done. We make a try at Anub, bleeding puggers, and break up. It happens.

6 o’clock and time for the ten man. I’m excited. Analogue and Approximate (Reversion’s hunter) have been invited to an excellent ten man group that the guild runs. We’ve got an hour to get as far as we can before most of the raid goes to a 25 man continuation of a different guild’s run. We’ll do more Monday night. We get in, get pulling, and clear the first wing in 45 minutes. We thank them for the invite and go to make dinner. Reversion is playing Final Fantasy with the baby while I cook, when I hear voices in Vent in the next room. “Looks like they’re afk,” says the raid leader. I run back and there’s an invite on our screens. I accept and ask what’s going on. The 25 man didn’t happen so we’re getting back together.

8 o’clock, baby in bed and food eaten, we start again. We do Rotface on heroic – my first one that wasn’t lootship! We wiped once but it was fun. Other than making my fingers hurt from all the healing, it wasn’t too bad at all. We do Festergut normal since the weekly quest was Fester/Rot, and then try Putricide  on heroic twice before swapping back to normal and downing him.

Oh yeah- so we started Saurfang before we switched the difficulty back to normal, accidentally, and while we did switch the difficulty, he started with 100% blood power. So we did that whole fight with one mark out. Don’t try this at home, kiddies.

Anyhow. We were at quitting time but we decided to continue and knock out the blood wing. I hate the Princes fight. It’s just so much running around, trying to heal, trying to find the people who need heals… but they died. And so did the Queen, although we wiped on her the first time.

Tonight we’re going in, killing some dragons, and taking a long, hard look at Arthas. This group has all mostly killed him before and we’re thrilled to get the chance to try, alongside them. We transferred servers and guilds hoping for a chance to down Arthas before the expansion is over. It would make me really happy to do it tonight, the last time I can be a tree for the whole fight…

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Grinding Rep

It seems appropriate that the weekend we joined Rep Grind’s guild I spend …. Grinding rep.

 That is right, we pulled the trigger, jumped over to Winterhoof and joined the Crits and Giggles guild. Thanks guys for answering our questions and generally being welcoming. It was a delicate balancing act of finding a guild that has enough competent AND ‘fun friendly peoples’…

That comes across a bit insulting I suppose. It implies that our last guild was either less fun or less friendly and that our new guild was less so in one of those areas and more so in the other. Well.. whatever.

Grinding Rep! that was it. So we jumped over a few days ago and got into a ICC 25 with them on Friday. The run was not anything to write home about but we thought it was well led, people had a good attitude and there was plenty of potential. It was fairly sloppy, some of which was my own sloppiness. But like I said, potential.

I guess I am raiding on my hunter now. Crits and Giggles seems to have plenty of tanks available. So many that there was some low grad angst over who was going to tank. Oh well, I guess Reversion will be a back up raider for a bit. Approximate’s gear needed some attention. Actually for myself the run went really well. As the only hunter I managed to snag a few things and bump my gear score 200 points. I still need to do some tweaking. I was not satisfied with my damage output. I will have to poke around some hunter blogs or EJ and tighten a few bolts on spec, rotation, and gear.

I am leaning toward leveling my hunter first in Cata. Between her engineering tricks and alchemy she is fun and easy to level. I will have to see how this new energy system works though.

Sometime a week or two back I decided to start working on the mount achievements on the hunter. I already had two engineering ones and all the capitol city reps from the argent tournament so I figured ‘how hard could it be’? heh. So this weekend I go serious about the mounts. I have been hitting the Direbrew boss every day (still no luck). I started grinding Netherdrake rep also.

Anyone that has not done that one should do it. It is a fun an interesting reputation grind. I always hated rep grinds. They are either trivial or stupid or simply way harder than the rewards. The vanilla ones, garbage. Most of the outlands ones, annoying. Most of the Wrath ones, trivial? Yeah they dumbed them down too much… the problem by the time you get the rep 99% of the rewards are pointless. What is up with that? Reputation grinding is one area I wee Blizzard flailing around and not getting ‘right’. I think the Netherdrakes are one they got ‘right’. The quest chain is interesting. You actually ‘progress’ at each stage of rep and open up new quests. The process does indeed feel like you are doing daring and dangerous things to get ‘in good’ with a group of people that originally had no reason to like you. I will not spoil it in case any of you have not done it.

For many of the other rep grinds out there the above things cannot be said. I am also. Trying to grind rep with the Skyguard and those dudes with the Talbuks in Nagrand. With the Skyguard you have a few quests that you have to do over and over. With the Nagrand city once you finish the quests there you are stuck grinding warbeads. Ug. On a related note, does anyone know of starting a Horde DK on a friend’s account and then killing it a lot near Hala will get me battle tokens? I mean really, 70 kills there? Seriously? Those outdoor PVP areas in the outlands were a huge flop. They seem to have tweaked up the Hala bombing missions work and now it is seriously broken. I tried some of that two and then got into some PVP with a few Hordies.

I have a long way to go on all those reps… then there is still the Oracles and the Cenarian expedition. I am almost to 50 mounts but I don’t know if I am going to stick with it all the way to 100. Hopefully Cata drops with plenty of easy to get mounts. In the mean time I only have two more tries at Brewfest L You can bet I am going to be beating on the headless horseman’s door a lot….

Oh hey, while I was writing this they announced Cata’s drop date. No time to proofread or edit, I have to check some news sites.

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ME109’s shot down -8
Hurricane’s – 0

 We win! Wait… no… Wrong RAF.

Refer a Friend is over. Well it is almost over for the account I had linked up. Analogue still has a month or so on hers. Actually I am not sure exactly how long. We had better check that. We don’t want a repeat of last night.

You see, earlier this week we realized my RAF was about to run out. I was SURE it was not going to be gone until a week from this coming Sunday. I was all set to have a weekend marathon of leveling up the last couple alts. Because it ended early I am left with a couple alts short of the finish line and some a long way away. Still, the results of this RAF stint are nothing to sneeze at.

–Note: I use the term ‘offside’ to mean a character you are playing in addition to your ‘main’. That character usually gets less attention and is used less efficiently compared to the ‘main’.

Despite not playing much in the last few weeks and my miscalculation of the end date I still have a lot to show for it. I now have the following alts.

Mage – 60

This was the first RAF we did. It was leveled as a pair with Analogue on a warlock. That went ok. You can kill things fairy fast. The mage can provide food for both and then lock can do a little pet tanking. But this pair does lack the ability to survive serious ‘oh crap’ situations. It does have a lot of AOE later on though. You just have to employ in carefully and not bite off too much.

Shaman – 61

This one was also leveled mostly as a pair. It was mostly with a paladin. That makes a very solid combo. We have used that pairing now about 3 times and it works well. It was leveled as a combination of Resto and Elemental. Despite the bad press it gets Elemental is actually fairly good for leveling. It is quite good if you are leveling in a pair or with a lot of LFD.

Rogue – 58

This one was level mostly using the ‘grant level’. Hence I have not played it much and don’t really know how it works. Oh well. I have done some Hellfire with it. It is geared for the outlands and ready to level.

Hunter – 55 (just a bit short of the goal)

At some point Analogue and I suddenly decided that leveling as a pair was silly and we should be doing quads. We talked a bit more about this in the posts we did earlier. This hunter was part of the first ‘quad’ set we did. My offside partner was a druid. My wife Analogue was running a Shaman and an ‘offside’ pally. This set worked well with the hunter doing as much damage (with heirlooms) as everyone else put together. This set showed us some things. For one we did not need that many healers in one party. Also hunters make very good choices for the ‘offside’. With a hunter you can get a large fraction of their damage output with just one button press. Just autoshot and petattack put out a lot of damage for almost no effort.

Priest – 50

This was my ‘main’ in our second ‘quad’ set. My offside was a hunter. Analogue was running a mage main and hunter offside. This quad was very solid. I spec-ed the priest disc and was able to toss out some instant cast heals and shields as needed. Stuff died fast. I mean stuff just sort of exploded when we looked at it. And with dual tanking pets (bears) we had all sorts of off tanking. That first ‘quad’ was durable but this was durable and also cranked out the damage. As you all know killing stuff fast is its own sort of ‘durable’. So the survivability was actually better with this pair. If things got bad we did not lose as much dps or healing. Actually things almost never got bad because stuff died so fast. This quad got to just over 30 before we realized we were out of time. I got the priest to 50 using level grants.

Warrior – 44

This one was mostly level grants. It was paired with an alt of Analogue before we turned RAF on.

Pally – 17

Warlock – 4

Both of these were where I tossed the last few grantable levels. I wanted to get them higher but the time miscalculation got in the way.

Conclusions

If you have two people that want the RAF rocket and lots of alts, do them both together as quads.

Quads work much easier If you can do one or more of the following:

-Have a second computer. Set up some macros to control a few key abilities and pick a class like a hunter that does not need a lot of attention to be helpful in a party.

-Get a program that does synchronization between game instances on one PC. Pick two of the same class and level them as a set.

-Or, use an offside character that you can mostly ignore. /follow and forget.

Other realizations include the following:

-Heirlooms are fine. Use them on if you want. Just be ready to skip a few quests on that one to keep it synced with the other account.

-You ‘main’ and your ‘offside’ do NOT have to match which one is the disposable RAF account and which is your real account. You can control the disposable character and have your heirloom geared alt on /follow. This actually helps when you want to just do the collect type quests on the non-heirloomed one.

-If you want to you can easily get 1 of every class leveled up with a single use of RAF. We did a lot of slacking and still leveled a ton of alts.

Next up we will be doing some experimenting with trios and pairs as we finish out Analogue’s RAF period. I think there is a few weeks left on it… pardon me while I go check.

Last night we cleaned out all the little alts in the disposable account and got it ready to sleep. Battle.net says I have until 8pm tonight… whenever that is. So I plan to try and get a few more levels on the priest. Since all the alts are gearless I will do it by running instances and then afterward standing next to a nekid RAF alt while I turn the quests in. That way my wonderful wife can keep killing Zerg while I put this thing to rest. I will let you know how it goes.

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Friday the Starcraft 2 collector pack came. We hadn’t bought a collector’s edition Blizzard item before and I was impressed. Actually my first reaction was “so where’s the actual game?” It was one of the two dvd boxes (the other was a making of). And there was a soundtrack, a comic, a very very nice artbook, the usual tchotchke in the form of “Jim Raynor’s dog tags” – a usb stick. Actually I thought the gimmick came off well there.

The one thing it didn’t have was a hard copy “Mini-Thor” pet code, 90% of the reason we bought the collector’s edition in the first place. We decided it probably auto-applied to the Battle.net account you hooked the game up to, so Reversion very kindly connected it to my account.

Mini Thor is about the coolest mini pet ever. First off, he’s huge – he’s got to be the biggest mini pet I’ve seen. He flies. He hovers. He shoots things with his cannons, all the darn time. He’s totally awesome and Invariant loves him. She’s getting close to 75 pets and I need to make an effort there: Invar is my achievement and pet collector. It makes up to her for not being my main. She also got the Touring Rocket that I finally decided to give her. Same reason. Also because gnomes love rockets.

Friday was a level-skills-on-Argent-Dawn -SAN-alts night; whee fun.

Saturday I levelled my disc/shadow priest while Reversion killed zerg. I haven’t played Verdandi in a while and had forgotten how fun it is – actually this was my first major solo shadow questing session. I like it a lot. At 71, you just don’t die and don’t go oom in normal questing. Vampiric Embrace means you heal for a percent of your damage done. Throw a bubble at the start of the fight, toss your dots, Mind Flay, profit. Throw in a [Whatever that spell is] + Mind Blast combo to trigger replenishment before something dies, combine with the Spirit Tap proc, you’ve got mostly full mana for the next encounter. She wandered around Dragonblight for a level and a half, ending at a good ways into 72. Not sure where I’m going to take her next. She needs to get to 73 for Grizzly Hills, she’s done all of Howling Fjord and the fun bits of Dragonblight (I don’t like Star’s End and Wyrmrest much). Might go play with the tuskarrs for a while. Or back to Borean Tundra.

Saturday night after church I fired up Starcraft 2 myself. Interesting item: you only need to log in to Battle.net to load up your single player campaign. We were both able to play at the same time without any problems. I think you don’t get achievements if you’re not on battle.net though: I got a few, then Reversion logged on and I didn’t get any more.

The “Casual” mode of play is perfect for me. I know how to play RTS games, I’ve played some Starcraft and most of Warcraft 3, and I’m really good at turn based strategies like the Civilization games, but I tend to forget to do things in RTS games. Or I’ll have trouble concentrating in two places at once, and either my advance team gets slaughtered or nothing happens back at the base. But the easy mode in SC2 (thanks for calling it casual by the way, nice way not to diss us not so good players)

This isn’t a Starcraft blog so I’ll keep it short: I’m really liking the game. The story is fun, the writing feels good, and the game play is interesting. I played it late Saturday night and all Sunday after church. I’m not letting Reversion give me much advice although he did tell me, and I listened, to do all the memory crystal missions at once: it gives you a good leg up on tech and then later points that would have been tech go to cash. The most interesting time was when there was a decision mission: side with the humans or side with the protoss, and the mission itself was different. Reversion picked one way so I picked the other and everything was totally different – the objectives, the enemies, the strategy. Overall it didn’t have much effect on the game – either way you lose the services of a certain NPC – but it felt like a fun difference.

So I feel revitalized for now, both for WoW and in SC2. I think I might have a shot at getting this priest to 80 before Cataclysm; my pet achievement is in view; and I killed zerg for like, 15 hours this weekend. Whee!

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