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Archive for October, 2010

A Raid of One’s Own

Right now is the perfect time to figure out your Cataclysm raiding plans. In a great raid right now, or you were in one until people went afk all the time? Now’s a chance to make sure that your fellow raiders are planning to come back as the same roles. Not in a raid, or needing a change? Start looking now, because if you want to raid early in Cataclysm you should be working on your plans now.

First there’s the RL concerns; do you want to raid, how much time do you want to spend, what times work well, and what are your goals? Reversion and I talked things over and decided that yes, at least right now, we want to raid. We figured out what worked for our schedule (no late weeknights, but then again the Nomster doesn’t go to bed until after seven, so no early evening raids either… and then there’s church to factor in…)

Decide what role you want. I knew it had to be healing for me, so that was easy. Reversion is more flexible, willing to play his hunter or his druid. I still love my mage but I don’t enjoy raiding on her the way I like healing.

Now, assuming you’re not changing guilds, look around you. Is there a raid already that meets your needs, and that you meet theirs? Jump in! Is someone else recruiting a raid that you think looks viable? Try them out! It’s almost always less of a hassle to let someone else do the raid leading work. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. Like us – we want to raid together, and we want to bring my brother in, so there’s three right there. And I like ten mans. So it was pretty obvious pretty fast that we needed to put a raid group together.

Fortunately we have a guild full of talented people and not all of them have dedicated raids right now. So it was on to the next step: checking in with the guild.

I would say, never ever start a raid without at least checking with guild officers. I went right to the top and started whispering Troutwort, who thought it was a great idea. We have one really solid raid group in guild. They are established, they get things done, they have fun. I didn’t want to compete with them, I wanted to emulate their success. So we found a raid time that wasn’t on the same nights as theirs – this is key, if you can manage it; try not to be head to head with another good raid. There will be some time when you need to grab a guildie  to fill a role, and the other raid is likely to be your source of very capable alt players. Also, you just don’t want a situation where both raids are looking for one more healer to come in, just tonight, on the same night!

Once you’ve got the ok, start making a list of possible raid members and roles. This is much easier to do if you’re building a ten man! And don’t leave this til the last minute. I did most of my recruiting Tuesday night and set our first raid for Saturday. By Wednesday I had 9 slots filled. I didn’t get the 10th slot filled til Friday – and we ended up having to replace one person on the fly.

Now, no plan of battle ever survives contact with the enemy, and your perfect raid roster is no exception. I approached the person I had mentally labeled as my healing partner, only to be told that while he’d really love to come, he was burned out on healing. He redeemed himself by suggesting a different healer though. Other people had multiple alts and we juggled around between what they could bring, what they wanted to bring, and what would be best for the raid.

Leave yourself time to fill in weak spots. In  our raid, the weak spot was obvious; my brother’s gear. He’d been in Iraq last year, his gear was ok for entering ICC – but some of our fellow raiders would be pulling 10k dps and we wanted to try heroics. He needed more gear if he was going to tank. Well, guildies leapt to the rescue. A couple of our raiders helped run through regular Halls of Reflection til that stupid shield dropped. Some offered mats to help make the really nice plate tank pants, or get his stuff enhanced. I cut gems, smelted saronite, we helped him figure out how to make his justice and honor points go the farthest  – and he entered ICC in much better shape. And then proceeded to get drop after drop of awesome tank loot, the little rat.

Then, go and have fun – but assess how the first run goes. As raid leader you’re responsible for more than your own performance. You have to call out the strategy. Even if someone else makes a suggestion, ultimately you need to say “ok we’re doing it this way”. Some of your raiders may need fight instructions. Some of ours hadn’t been past Putricide; my brother had never yet killed Saurfang. Reversion and I tag teamed it. He did the grand strategy, called things out on vent, and watched the tanky end. I kept in mind which raiders brought what specs and offspecs to the game, looked at meters, watched the healing, and kept an eye on the time.

The result? Our first awesome night of raiding, we went in and knocked out the first three fights on heroic, gave Saurfang a few game attempts before setting him to normal, and then killed the plague wing, Dreamwalker, and the blood wing. We made a decision to come back Sunday afternoon to down Sindy and take a look at the Lich King. Now, these were all guildies; most had run things together before, but not this particular raid comp, and we had not raided with many of them, so we were very pleased with our success. I think we’ve got our raid for Cataclysm…

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Pug meetings

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Happy Tree!

MMO-Champion is reporting changes to the next version of the beta. Resto druids are getting some attention (and it’s not a Rejuv nerf!)

Restoration

* Rebirth now has a 10 min cooldown, down from 30 min.
* Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-Rank talent, down from 2 Ranks. Now reduces the GCD of Rejuvenation by 0.5 sec.
* Efflorescence now heals nearby targets for 20/40/60% of the amount healed by Swiftmend over 7 sec, down from 7.5 sec.
* Natural Shapeshifter now also increases the duration of Tree of Life by 5/10 sec.

See that? See that there? Where they changed the cooldown on battle rez back to ten minutes? Now if only it doesn’t set off everyone else’s cooldown… seriously. That was the dumbest change ever, I want it rolled back. Please?

Also? Totally love the making my tree form last longer thing. I love my tree so much, I want to spend all the time with her that I can.

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Blizzcon Takeaways

So, we had a great time watching Blizzcon this weekend. Way fun, especially things like watching the Paragon live raid and cheering them on. Had a nice visit with my brother and mom too even if Mom didn’t quite “get” Blizzcon.

 

The most interesting thing to me was how well it worked as a showcase for the company. It was really neat getting a glance at some of the inner workings. As a software engineer, I could look at that environment and understand  just what it would be like to work there, and once again say nope, that was not the career path for me. I’m glad some people can enjoy it and make awesome games for me to play though.

I’ve never played Diablo, didn’t think I wanted to play Diablo – but watching a few clips and some interviews about Diablo 3 made me interested in trying it. It helped that I could look at the videos and immediately identify a class that looked fun to me (no, not demon hunter. Reversion  is the ranger-hunter-type of the pair. I’m the “giant balls of fire from heaven SET YOU ON FIRE” one.)  So now we have that to look forward to.

Ok, I’ve already seen half a dozen posts already but… Blizzard. Women. They have a higher female audience than most video games so why do they just try to screw things up? Ignoring/brushing aside a female player’s concern that all the women look like they come out of Victoria’s Secret… how about answer straight up? You could say “we don’t think they do” or ask for more details – I’ve seen confusion over whether she meant body style or outfit, player or N PC. It’s still a valid point and I thought their answer was rude, crude, and dismissive.

Then the tree form bits – it was obvious to me whenever tree form came up that there were a lot more women unhappy about Ugly New Tree than guys. So why act like “making a female version” of the tree would be so hard? It really shouldn’t be and if so, who cares? You guys screwed up and made a really masculine tree, and it makes us sad. I think they may be shocked just how many “grandma trees” there are running around. (And again: you called old tree form ‘grandma tree’ which I think is… rather revealing)

Someone asked during open Q&A how many women were on their team. The answer was exactly what I expected…. more or less none. Maybe some on the art. I could have told you that,  both from my industry knowledge and the results. You can tell from some of their decisions that there just aren’t women in the decision loop. Things that would just not get past a woman who was at all sensitive to these issues. Things like, oh, RealID. Or Super-Male-Ugly-Tree, I refuse to believe a female artist signed off on that one.

Anyway, I really loved watching and I don’t want to get all negative about it. Watching from home gave me most of the fun of being there without the stress and hassles and ack-twenty-thousand-people-must-not-panic sensations. I’m stoked for Cataclysm (dear hipster bearded dude types: ‘clysm’  or ‘the clysm’ is not a cute or hip way to refer to the expansion. ‘Cata’ is a better shorthand if you must use one in conversations). But this week I have to come up with my plot for NaNoWriMo, so excuse me….

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Trippin

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Blizzcon!

I love conventions. The fun of being surrounded by thousands of slightly-smelly people with the same obsession that you cherish, for a whole weekend. Knowing you can turn around and carry out a conversation with a perfect stranger that would be unintelligible to anyone not in the know. The wild costumes, the excitement, the swag…

Well, we’re not going to Blizzcon. Didn’t even consider it. We’ve got an eighteen month old daughter, jobs, no vacation time to think of, we’re on the other side of the country… wasn’t going to happen. So we did the Next Best Thing ™ and bought the live feed

(No, it wasn’t just for the pet. She says. That was just a happy… side effect. Yeah)

So this weekend it’s WoW, Blizzcon feeds, beer or margaritas, and the chance to virtually be there. My brother’s coming to town to visit and hang with us, and my mom’s tagging along so I can even ignore Nomster if there’s a particularly good panel on :-D

Yeah, it’s not as fun as being there. But we don’t have to stand in line, and we can watch the panels AND visit innkeepers every hour on the hour checking for a Hallowed Helm drop….

 

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My pit

Sorry for the picture quality. As I have mentioned…. the new version of the wordpress iphone app is totally garbage.

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Bee Pit Golden Rule

Murloc Parliament is having a “Bee Pit Bingo” . For my version, I decided on the Golden Rule version – this one, you fill in everything YOU’VE ever done, to see if you deserve a trip to the bee pit.

 

By my count I can get Bingo about 97 ways.

 

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Like my hunter post this will be short and to the point. This is a ‘get you up and running’ post and not a serious attempt at theory crafting. I have only tanked 2 or 3 runs so far with my bear so I don’t know everything there is to know about it. This intended to be a quick start guide to show the basics of how to play a bear in 4.0.1 (and in 4.0.3)

First off your aoe threat will be crap. No really. It will be rather bad. Swipe on a cooldown is fairly painful. Don’t give up the bear yet though. We have other things going on now. For one thing single target threat is insane. Seriously. I was pulling stuff off other tanks without using taunts, without trying to, and when they had a head start on the threat.

So let’s get to it…

Glyph your maul. Yeah you probably already had that but make sure. You will need it.

Spec

For a spec check out Uncrittable or Big Bear Butt. They both have some that are good. Mine is pretty close to those. Don’t bother checking mine. I just slapped some stuff in there.

Rotation

Well it is more of a priority/rotation. Whatever.

You still want to swipe all you can. If you are going to be doing AOE threat you will need to tab target and maul a lot too. If you are doing single target threat it is the same as before, lots of lacerate.

But wait! There is more!

Whereas before we did heavy single target damage with lots of lacerate… and after the first 5 we were wasting it and filling in with FF and maul instead, now we have a new tool. Pulverize! This thing eats your lacerates so you will not waste their dots. And lacerate only goes to 3 stacks. My rotation so far has been this.

Lacerate-lacerate-lacerate-pulverize *repeat*

Filling in with swipes and mauls as needed for multi target threat. This does a metric ton of single target threat and pretty solid tank dps too. There are probably many ways to improve on it so don’t take this as the final word. It is merely a workable first word.

Keep in mind we still have feral fearie fire and growl for grabbing things at range… BUT WAIT!! There is MORE!

At long last, all your caster mobs are belong to me. We finally have a ranged silence… sort of. In the past bears have had no ability to move ranged casters around. It was line-of-sight or nothing. Now we can. It is not much, but we CAN! It is called

What it does is a short range charge (about 8 yards) with no minimum range. So you can use it on things right in your face. It also is an interrupt and short silence. So you can use it to reposition casters. Bears Rejoice!

AOE threat…

AOE threat in 4.0.1 is not as stupid simple as it was. Between the swipe cooldown and the massive ‘thorns’ nerf your easy-peezy aoe threat tools are gone. Now you have to work at it.

You have charge in fast and get your first swipe off as soon as targets are in range. You might need to follow up with a quick ‘demoralizing roar’ if there are targets your swipe did not hit. Expect someone to pull off you right away. Everyone is still AOE happy and you can be almost certain some mage is opening up with blizzard. If a hunter pulls off let them die. Any hunter that can’t figure out how to use misdirect needs to spend some time in the Bee Pit.

To build up AOE threat you are probably going to need to be target swapping and spreading around your maul and some lacerate. With maul hitting two targets and your lacerating a little on everything in a pack you CAN hold aoe agro. It is just not as easy as it was. You might have to get a lot better with your taunts. If you are rage starved you can spread around some FFF too. That still costs no rage so use it as needed. AOE threat is NOT broke. Bears are not broken. Their AOE threat was just over powered before and now it takes actual skill. You have to be reactive and adaptive. If you have to, beg your dps to follow kill order and start marking things. Your single target threat should be sky-high so if you can just get people to shoot your target your agro issues will vanish.

Personally I am happy about the changes. Bear tanking had become for me nothing but spamming one button (swipe macroed to maul) and charging from pack to pack. It was pretty boring really. Now it is challenging and interesting again. Good luck!

Like I said, this is just a quick start guide. If it is not enough keep ‘googling’ and you will find more detailed and in-depth information.

*** edited***

News FLASH!
 Bear tanking got a lot more nerf than the patch notes claimed.

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I figured I was about as ready as anyone, coming up on 4.0.1. I’d read Lissana’s guide, Keeva’s guide, and about a thousand other sources. I knew what gear changes I’d need, what spells to re-map, and of course, what mastery was going to do for me.

What I didn’t know was how things were going to feel. Would I feel like the competent protector-of-health-bars that I did pre-patch? When I went into ICC, would I be contributing or a drag on the other healers?

After the patch I logged in, got my interface working (and was once again thankful for Vuhdo; the patch day update worked flawlessly) and assessed things. Three pieces of cloth gear that needed to go. The belt was easy, the bracers more of a challenge – I’ve had terrible bracer luck – and the hat?  My precious ilvl 277 cloth hat that I’d gotten from a Heroic Gunship on 25? What was I supposed to do there? Well, I’d leave it for later.

The first time I tried to heal anything, I got Reversion to queue up with me. We got Oculus – and I crashed, restarted, crashed again, restarted, crashed  – finally gave up and went away. (Interestingly, Reversion and Karius went on to three man Oculus with some random DPSer. Apparently the healer was not necessary after all. And more interesting, when I logged in the next day, I was awarded Justice points for completing that place. Hmm).

Finally Saturday I got into some heroics. They went fine. I could keep people alive. Then, a guildie was getting a Ruby Sanctum attempt together. Well, I’d never been, so…

Wow, that place hits hard. We wiped a lot, but finally downed the three small bosses, and then died to Halion over and over again. Finally we called it. Right about then I was getting whispers from our raid leader, asking what I was doing that night. Well, nothing, but…

So he was in a regularly-run cross-group 25 man ICC that needed a tree healer. And since our Sunday group had a lockout where we’d cleared to LK, I could go 11/12 with the other group and not worry… probably. Did I want to come?

Well, sure. Let’s give it a try.

So there I was, and there we were. Two trees, two shaman, and a priest. A third resto druid who didn’t read the patch notes was locked out until Rotface. “We’ll five heal this” the raid leader decided. Then “And we’ll take Marrowgar on heroic”.

Gulp. I whisper my guildie, who promises to send me strats for any heroics, and we’re off. For the first trash fights, I’m trying hard to use what I think my “new” rotation should be: LB one tank, WG off cooldown, Swiftmend someone in melee to proc Efflorescence, and spot heal with Regrowth. Problem is, nobody’s staying damaged long enough for Regrowth to actually hit! By the time I’m done casting, someone else has healed. So I start dropping Rejuvs. The instant small heal is usually enough to get them fully up.

I sneak a glance at the meters. Holy cow! The Other Druid is doing 30% of the healing, I’m doing 20. Yeah, so the priest is a disc priest and Recount is bad at seeing shields… and we’re topping the overhealing meters too… but seriously, I’m feeling overpowered. The Other Druid’s rotation is almost entirely Rejuv and WG. I think I’m using Swiftmend more. Recount isn’t giving me any feel for my Efflorescence – it’s just not showing up at all.

So on Marrowgar, I go to the old strategy, Rejuvs everywhere, WG, and this time I use Swiftmend on myself because I’m good at standing in the knot of people, and Efflorescence can do its best.

Well, first time, we wipe.  I stupidly ran into a flame and didn’t get out in time, everyone was sloppy… yeah. We come back and try it again. I pop tree on the second bonestorm and run around, feeling immensely powerful and amazing. Marrowgar dies. Wow.

We proceed to steamroll the place. Well, there are some wipes on some of the heroic modes (We set Lootship, Rotface, BQL and I think Festergut to heroic. This group was not playing around). I’m going to ignore the specificc fights and focus on the details:

Your Old Rotation Still Works

With caveats: Lifebloom on only one person at a time, Regrowth is fast and Nourish is slow. Don’t bother using Nourish, or Healing Touch. Use Swiftmend, but try to use it on tanks/melee. Rejuv-spam is both possible and profitable. Note that this is in ICC, at level 80, with mana pools that don’t twitch. Once we have mana problems, it’s something else

Your New Shinies are New and Shiny

Efflorescence, I love you. You’re tied to my beloved Swiftmend, you are pretty and green and leafy. I just hope the DPS knows the difference between you and Deathwhisper’s DND.

Fast Regrowth, you sure pack a punch. I might miss my old buddy, Slow Keep The Tank Happy Regrowth, but your makeover was pretty nice and I welcome you to a more prominent mouse button.

Tranquility – I’ve always sort of loved you but previously we had to keep our friendship secret so my friends didn’t mock you. Sorry I specced away from the faster cooldown when I started raiding, but you just weren’t what I needed for cutting-edge content. Now that you’ll heal the people who actually need it? I think we’re going to spend a lot more time together.

Tree Form… I miss seeing you all the time. I think what we had was good. I hate this new long-distance relationship, but man, when you do visit, you make up for lost time! I’m sad and frantic and people are about to die and then suddenly it’s – “Oh, hi Tree! Missed you! Ok, while I’m running around like crazy, let’s Wild Growth like, the whole raid, and throw some instant cast Regrowths at the same time. K? K!”  I promise to get the glyph as soon as it’s available – sure, some druids are excited about switching for your bigger and more colorful cousin but my heart belongs to Wilted Broccoli.

I Still Feel Like A Druid

It’s still about the HOTs. I still need Vuhdo to show me all my little hot timers, I still use the same triage system.  “Druids take care of the ranged” is still an instruction I can handle. I love it. I was so worried about my beloved class – and at 85, who knows? But today at least, I still feel right.

 

This has gotten long enough, so I’ll save my “when will Tree Form save your butt” post for another time. Oh, and remember that epic cloth hat I was griping about having to replace at the start of this post? The 25 man I ran with did Rotface on heroic and I got the leather equivalent of that hat – ilvl 277 and just right for a resto druid. So then I grabbed the frost badge belt and a pair of nice pvp bracers, since I have lots of honor lying around, and by Sunday’s Lich King downing I was all leather all the time. 5% extra intellect is nothing to sneeze at.

And the spec I’m rocking is a little weird – I skip Nature’s Swiftness, actually, because I just wasn’t using that at all. When I start leveling I’ll probably go back and do something different again , but right now I wanted as many of the direct increases to healing talents as I could. Still, loving it!


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