Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catch up and the long absence

It's been over 5 weeks now since my last post and time sure has gone by fast.

So where have I been? To be honest when I started my absence there really was not a lot going on, there were some real life caused attendance issues slowing raiding and I was not spending much time on WoW outside of that.

The first few weeks were mostly just filled with me leveling my new Mage alt who hit 15 via RaF in the last day of the offer.
I had brought a copy of WoW classic from the Christmas special for $5 US and signed a new email address up for it. I then recruited that email under my main account and just forgot about it.
Somewhere in January I finally got round to buying my first month of game time for the second account and then with plans to dual box them, I forgot about it.
With RaF coming to a close at the end of Feb I got off my behind and finished the payments to net Orth his rocket mount and finally taught myself the art of dual boxing.

I have to say once I got my head around the initial complexity of the task it was quite fun. There were still several issues that I would no doubt sort out if I was to do it again but it worked well enough for the day I had left.
I rolled a Mage on my main account and a hunter on my second and sent them off into Elwynn forest where they quickly leveled through, stomping their way over mobs.
My night of dual boxing finished after an hour or so when they hit 15 in Redridge.

Once my blog break had started and raiding had slowed I decided to keep leveling my Mage without the restrictions that the RaF posed. So later that night she stood in heirloom gear and off she went.
I really was enjoying leveling her, for the first time since my Priest I was having fun on an alt and better still I could level her without my partner who my Priest still waits to level with.

The best part about leveling the Mage is being able to see the new Cataclysm world for the first time. Blizzard have really done a nice job on the revamp, there are so many new quests and zones just flow so much better now. It is great to enter a zone like Redridge and have all your quests flow from 2 or so stories into one zone wide piece of lore.

At the moment my Mage sits at 65 having just finished Hellfire and is ready for the painful 3 level slog needed to get out of tired Outland. After taking 5 character through OL it really is getting old and for the first time since creation the desire to level her has slowed.
However Northrend is next and of those 5 toons that have been through OL only 2 have made it through NR so I hope that it is a little less painful.

Guild wise things are finally looking up. Peoples new born babies are settling in, members who were previously without are finding new jobs and with people gaining more free time and a few new recruits we are now able to run most weeks PuG free with the promise of constant full guild runs waiting on a few more members to return.

As a nice side effect of a more active guild we have finally managed to hit guild level 10, opening up the heirloom cloaks to further boost my Mage's leveling.

With guild members coming back we have finally been able to step the raiding up.

We started with a move deeper into BWD to take on and quickly down Maloriak. This fight is another great fight for rebuke where I can be in charge of the first few interrupts and the other interrupters never have to worry about that one spell.

A Concave kill in the Throne of the Four Winds followed the next week. While this was not our first kill in TotFW, a power cut forced us to over PuG the week before and it had not counted as a guild kill.

That week ended with a few attempts on Atramedes just to see the fight. Even though we were not on him long we were constantly making 50% and left him there confident he would soon fall.

The next week was sent to move into BoT finally and get some work done there.
After clearing out our 3 in BWD we moved to quickly wipe out Halfus and move to the Double Dragons.
The fight was messy to say the least. The PuG's did not listen and very quickly died taking out a DPS and Healer wit them. Down a healer things slowly got worse as the other 2 did not have the mana to keep up with all the damage.
Eventually they got low on health and we pushed hard with the few people who were left.
The last percent of health got closer and closer and then finally not without taking one more with them the Dragons died leaving 3 people including myself alive. It was a one shot, messy as anything but a one shot.

The rest of the night was spent on the Council fight where we got to know the mechanics and were getting to phase 2 and even phase 3 on some attempts.

This catches us up to last week.

Wednesday me and my partner did not raid as I took her out to dinner for her Birthday, the guild however pulled in some PuG's and cleared our 3 in BWD without us. I was proud to see everyone still show up and my officers take over and lead a successful raid without me.

Thursday was spent on Atramedes where despite some close attempts we were unable to down him.

Friday was dedicated to BoT again and this time we had to go deeper. Progression.
As expected Halfus fell quickly and we moved to the Dragons. This week was not a one shot like the week before however there were several new guildies there as well as PuG's. Never the less we got them down and moved to the Council again.

The Council fight was picked up by everyone really quick including those that missed the week before. Nearly right away we were pushing phase 3 where we quickly discovered that we could not bring him down unless all 4 previous bosses were taken to 25% equally and we had all our DPS alive into phase 3.
We had many attempts where we would wipe sub 5% due to having a DPS die early to to a mistake or just plain bad luck. To many times did we push into phase 3 with all alive just to have to Ice boss throw off a Hydrolance right after a Glaciate and kill a DPS because I could not interrupt.
Finally though towards the end of the night we got an attempt without bad luck and easily pushed through the final phase for the kill.

That night ended with a brief look into Cho'gall's chamber.

This weeks raids come tonight and our main goal this week, Cho'gall.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Raid catchup and Rebuke Day

Its been a busy past week and a bit for me and real life has keep me from posting on the large array of things that have been happening since my Rift post.

Our first proper raid week started very nicely 3 weeks ago, with me managing to pick up some new BoE shoulders from the trash Mobs.

That same night we got our first kill of the current expansion downing Halfus with the Dreaded Nether, Slate and Storm combo. This is defiantly a nasty set up and a big thanks goes out to the Mage who we taught to blink and interrupt the Shadow Nova after the Furious howl, you defiantly helped to compensate for the other PuG's in the group with that.

From then on Halfus has been on farm with the combos getting easier each time until this week when everyone had the simplest combo by far; Nether, Whelps and Time.
I'm not sure how much the 4.0.6 changes made to this fight being such and easy combo that will have to wait till next week to see.
Because of the lack of MS or Shadow Nova we were able to release the Nether and Whelps at once cutting the damage almost completely to my new OT who is finally raid ready.
The Time Warden was released very shortly after while the Nether Scion and Whelps were still dieing and once they were all dead it was a nice easy burn to an achievement.

Two weeks ago we got our first Magmaw kill after finally getting some PuG's in that could switch targets and kill the adds quickly. It truly is amazing how much simpler that fight got once people were getting onto those adds quickly.

In fact the fight went so well that our first kill also netted us this achievement.

We also put some attempts into the Omnotron Counsel that week but only managed a 5% wipe before the PuG's had to leave and the raid was called.

Then this week before raids patch 4.0.6 hit and what a mixed bag our 'Rebuke Day' was.
We all got Rebuke trainable baseline at 54 and there was much rejoicing, then we find a stealth change to the way HP is generated and the rejoicing is hidden by anger and confusion.
For many people they just decided to live with the new change and deal with any missed attacks as they came, which is a fair choice and keeping your survivability up is a nice bonus to that. For me being a 10man raider the good and bad went hand in hand. Getting Rebuke changes a lot for our raid as it no longer means that DPS have to watch Shadow Nova or gimp their damage by watching Arcane Annihilator on Omnotron.
To make sure that I am not letting the raid down on interrupts I need to be hit capped which as a result means the HP change has very little effect on me.
Sure I have lost 7% odd Mastery but in exchange I get a boost to Threat/Damage and can interrupt reliably and boost raid damage to.

That brings us to this week where after downing Halfus as already mentioned we moved on to try the Double Dragons.
We had seen this fight briefly the week before but had not put many attempts into them.
As we had already picked up last week we had Phase one and its transition down pack with just a little refinement to do on the Blackouts.
Phase two however was still causing issues with the ranged slowly being picked off. There were revisions made to the strat an we were reliably hitting the 50% mark on transition before we wiped. The night was then called with the plan to come back the next night.

Thursday came around and our PuG from the previous night had to drop due to being called to raid on his main. As a result we left BoT and headed for BWL to start its progress a night early.

A quick pop to town to fill the missing spots and we were in BWL clearing trash to Magmaw while the PuG Mage 'fixed' his internet.
The PuG Mage proceeded to do no damage on trash and spent half the time offline. At the boss we finally managed to get him on vent to find that not only is he a immature 14 year old but he also has very little clue about his class and is running 2k latency.
We proceeded to try anyway and immediately wipe because as I ran in I clipped the windows key while hitting shift to pop wings. Naturally I was tabbed out and ran directly off the edge into the lava.
Hilarity ensued and once we had recovered and several jokes had been made on my behalf we tried again, this time the Mage DC'd again as my AS missed and the PuG Resto Druid pulled aggro and was one shot.
With our bad luck out of the way we kicked the Mage and eventually pulled in a Hunter.
With the group back in Magmaw's room we then swiftly took the bugger down and moved across the hall to Omnotron.

Omnotron went well considering we had several players that had never seen the fight. Once we got past the first 'Never seen the fight' wipes we were making good progress.
Slimes were taken care of quickly, the Flame thrower was handled very well and my shiny friend Rebuke helped AS keep Arcanotron locked down while his shield was up.
A few 10-15% wipes later and they were down, opening the gate to BWD's insides for the first time.

We of cause popped our heads inside for a look around before calling it a night with both PuG's set to come back and our biggest raid night still ahead of us.

Friday came around and despite putting a whole night into them we only managed to get Maloriak and Chimaeron down to 50% each.
It is defiantly nice to have some challenging raid content to work on after WotLK and I can't want to get back in next week, get those guys down and see what the later bosses bring.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Belated Blog-iversary

With all the playing Rift, going to friends weddings and raiding that went down I completely missed a very important event.

Thursday been was my one year anniversary of my first ever Blog post.

It really does not seem like it was a whole year ago that I have started blogging. Time on the blog has gone by so quick.
While blog time has gone fast a lot of things have happened in the outside world. There was all that guild Drama, Icecrown came out, I went to Oz for a Holiday, moved servers, Cataclysm released and watched many inspirational bloggers leave the world for good.

I would like to think that I have improved in my writing since I began, I know I have never been a great writer, my English marks certainly reflected that.

I would like to thank those of you who frequent my little piece of the internet, whether you have been here since the start, just come recently or to those who may have stopped reading. While I do this for me, as a place to put my thoughts down, it helps to know that there are people following them.

I look forward to the next blogging year and all it provides. Hopefully this place will grow through the future and with it so can my writing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The other grass: Rift

After entering the competition I mentioned in my last post I received a Beta key for Rift on Sunday. Wednesday rolled around and after a quick install and a 7.5gig update I was into the game.
(Sorry for the image size for some reason Blogger is not accepting the thumbnails)

After watching through the intro cinematic I was greeted by half an our of failed server connections as every man and his dog with a key tried to get in at once. However after some persistence I was able to progress to the Shard (server) screen.
Initially the Shards were very hard to choose as every time a server's information updated it would just that Shard to the top of the list, this made trying to log onto the unofficial Oceanic Shard a game of 'Whack-a-mole' as the Dev's described it. This has been fixed since and is now much less taxing to do.

The Next step is character creation. While you have more options than in WoW this feature feels more limited, leaving everyone looking the same. It is defiantly nice to free pick skin hair and eye colors, slightly modify height and while the facial tattoos are very nice but there are only a handful of hair styles and many of them look alike. With very little physical customization and the limited hair styles your toon still ends up looking like everyone else around you.

Although all the races are very human like and look mostly the same, race will play a big part in how you play your character. In Rift races have very unique and powerful racial's i.e. 'Heals for 30% of damage taken, up to 50% of your total health.' or a 40% boost to Spell and Melee haste for several seconds.

Once your Character is made you can enter into your starting zone, each faction has one starting zone, however with how classes are set up you really should not need to play through it anymore than 4 times. Your first quest will be to choose your first Soul(Talent Tree), there are NPC's around the starting area to explain how your souls work if your new and have done no research.

From there its into your typical questing and lore experience.

There are 4 different classes to choose from in Rift, the Warrior, the Cleric, the Mage and the Rogue.
Each of these classes has 9 different PvE souls and 1 PvP Soul. You choose your fist Soul at level 1 right on your first quest then again at level 3 and the third Soul slot shortly after.
While 9 Souls might sound daunting you can ignore some as they apply to different Archetypes i.e. Warrior has Tanking and DPS Souls so DPS does not have to worry about the Tank Souls.
Like in WoW you can reset your points via a trainer and like WoW you can by additional Specs except where WoW only has DuelSpec, Rift has QuadSpec.

Your skills are also determined by your Souls. Rather than learning new spells as you level you learn them by going deeper and deeper into a given Soul, the deeper you go the stronger the spell i.e. At 2 points in Paladin you learn an attack to hit for heavy damage after you block and at 4 points you learn a Power Word: Fortitude.

For a better idea of how the trees work try the Zam Soul Calculator.

Once you finish your starter zone

It is onto regular questing.
Questing in Rift is very linear, you go to one hub get 2-6 quests in the one area, do them, hand them in and move on. If you finish a hub then the last quest will lead you into the next quest hub to hand in there so that your not back tracking.

After the starter zones the questing is broken up and made more interesting by the constant Rifts and Invasions.
Rifts work similar to Public Quests in WAR in that raids of random people in the area work towards a goal, Exp and Loot. Unlike Public Quests, Rifts are random in location so they may be next to the quest hub or out in the wild somewhere. Each rift will show on your map so that you can find them.
Rifts come in stages, alternating between trash packs and mini bosses before you kill the final Elite mob and seal the Rift.

Once the Rift is sealed everyone who participated will get loot based on how much work they did, loot can range from combat items to Planar currency used to buy character enhancements and powerful gear.
Rifts will also scale with the number of people in a zone so populated zones get many major Rifts and as the population moves on and the empty zones end up with only a few Rifts that can be handled by those still hanging around.

Invasions on the other hand are like very large Rifts except that instead of being in a single location Invasions will move towards camps and even citys killing all in their path.
Invasions require many more people to finish, have a lot more Elites, give considerably more and higher level loot and if not stopped will move in and attack NPC's.

Another of Rifts unique features is that it comes default with a customizable UI.

Rift also comes with features called Antiques and Collections. Think of these like Archeology except without the grind and surveying. Collections will be things like Books you find lying around the starting zones . Antiques are similar except that they show up ether from Invasion loot or as little randomly placed sparkles on the ground beside rocks e.t.c. as you explore.
You use the picked up item of ether kind and if it is a collection it is instatly added to your collection, Antiques will bring up a new screen that shows the collection you are working on and shows which slot your item goes in. When you complete the sets you are rewarded with new items or even epic gear.
The Antiques are not farmable however due to the somewhat random nature of their spawn points.

The rest of Rift is very much like WoW, you move the same, gather mats the same, chat the same, craft the same, it even has an achievement system.

This is not a bad thing though, It means that anyone coming from another MMO particularly WoW will know exactly how to do a lot of the functions and can focus on the game rather than learning basic functions again.

Overall I think this is a really polished game for just being in the Beta stage and most issues are fixed very quickly by the Dev team.
The Dev team has been very active in the community to date and seem to be listening to their customers well.
While Rift has a lot of unique features they have not tried to do anything to new which looks to be working well.
The game does take a bit to get into and is nothing special until you leave the starting zones and start encountering Rifts. The core gameplay almost needs a bit more work to come up to scratch and become addictive as with the more unique game aspects but are not bad in any way.

This game has a lot of potential and I am really having fun playing the Beta, from all the MMO's I have played recently Rift has the most potential to succeed, is the most clean and polished and its still in Beta with a releace date not for another 2 months.
I swore off buying new MMO's on release after Aion and FF XIV but with how Rift is going I think I might pre order the Collectors Edition for it and possibly play for more than the free month.

I will leave you with a screen cap of my level 13 Paladin-Reaver-RiftBlade Tank not tat the gear looks quite good and yes that is a one handed mace.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free Rift Beta Keys

Just a quick post for anyone interested.
Guildlaunch is giving away Beta Keys to the new MMO Rift.
To enter simply follow the instructions on this link and you are all but guarantied one.

If you are asking what is Rift?

Rift is a up coming MMO that hold a lot of promise at the present. Think of it like Warhammer: Age of Reckoning except done right(hopefully). I will be playing the Beta and seeing for myself whether it is worth buying or if it will just end up in the pile with WAR, FFXIV and Aion.

If you want further information I recommend this video by the Yogscast crew.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sledging, Guilds and Raiding

This weekend for me was spent in a place called Rotorua one of New Zealands "Adventure" city's for a friends Bachelor party.
Along with copious amounts of alcohol and dressing up the stag in some very skimpy lingerie we went Sledging

After riding down that river on the little plastic Sledge I occurred to me how similar being in a guild and even raiding are to the act of Sledging.

Like anything in WoW Sledging follows a set path, moving from where you are to where you want to be.
Along the way you will hit some rocks, sometimes you get caught in eddy's that will slow you down and turn you around, you might even get thrashed and pushed under. Despite all that you can encounter you keep pushing forward and as long as you stick to your path, learning from your mistakes you will make it to where you want to go eventually.

Its important when on the river to not only know where to go but to have a strong competent person to lead you there, preferably someone who has been there before.
If you choose the right person to follow they can keep you down the middle and guide you away from the obstacles ahead. If your the person out front then you lead through common sense and what experience you have gained from before.
Sometime you find yourself following the wrong person or people. These people can take you off the safest path and lead you astray. They might be doing it by no fault of their own, maybe they lack the experience to lead or the common sense to point themselves in the right path. Some may take you off cause on purpose, guiding you away for their own strange reasons. If you follow the wrong person to long you can get stuck, pinned against a wall, caught in the turning water or pushed beneath the surface.
However you end up off cause you have to always remember that you may be set back but you are still on the river, your path still lies down stream you just have to work to get back on it.
Once back on cause you push forward, ether finding a new leader who knows the way or taking the lead yourself and picking your path from your smarts and the mistakes of the previous.

As with WoW, Sledging and any other activity you have to know your basics before you can proceed further. You begin by learning the basics, you sit in a safe place and practice the fundamentals. When your ready to move on you step out and encounter your first trials, small at first but growing as you progress.
You learn how to ride the river to move down stream, how to pick your path safely and how to pick yourself up should for fall. Some of these can be taught early but none truly learned until you are out there doing it and using those skills.
Over time these skills become second nature, the paths are clearer and you can dodge the rocks. You might hit a wall still, but every time you do you pick yourself up faster and get back into the river with greater ease.

Eventually your hard work pays off, you find yourself at your goal be it level 85, clearing raid content, making strong lasting friendships with decent people or simply getting to the bottom of the river.
As you sit at the the bottom and look back up at what you have over come you realize just how insignificant those waves in your path were. You slid right over those rock, pushed off those walls and resurfaced from those times spent under. The obstacles behind you while very real at the time were nothing in retrospect, the dramas of the water are behind you, you have learned from those mistakes and the leaders that you left behind are still stuck in their old path coughing up water.
You have made it to the bottom.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Prot PvP decline 'Rebuked'

Some time in the last few days I missed the very important announcement that Rebuke would be moved out of the Ret Talent Tree and become a baseline Paladin ability. While this is a very nice quality of life change for us and I am already welcoming it for when the guild hits Maloriak its by far more useful in PvP.

Enjoyed at the end of Wrath and really shining at the beginning of Cataclysm Prot was the Paladin DPS PvP spec of choice due to its superior survivability, utility and equal damage compared to Ret. However as Ret got buffed into its rightful place and with Prot really feeling the effects of any form of CC due to its lose of a magic cleanse, Prot was losing its viability.

With Rebuke coming baseline Prot gains a foot hold again strengthened by the increased damage of Crusader Strike. Sure Prot's damage still will not match Ret's unless we are focused on to build Vengeance but Rebuke puts us very strongly in a support roll for 3's or 5's.

Lets look at what Prot Paladins can bring to the team.

Firstly and most obviously is Avengers Shield, not only does this hit hard but if you glyph it right it will help to combat or kite-ability by slowing opponents while keeping them silenced and unable to retaliate.

Next is JotW which combats my biggest dislike of the spec in Wrath by removing our need for Divine Plea. Thanks to this Mana will almost never be and issue and Mana Drains will not longer be so terrifying.

JotJ works beautifully to help stem the flow of DPS from Melee and Hunters for both you and your team mates.

Vindication works wonders coupled with JotJ to further cripple those melee DPS.

WoG provides some welcomed relief for your healer and can help to hold team members alive for critical seconds should your healers be stunned or silenced etc.

Divine Guradian come unique to us and really shows just what our class is about in PvP, saving others. Perfect for use at the start as everyone starts taking that initial damage or when the opposition starts zerging your healer.

From the Ret tree we bring the staples of;

Crusade brings more aid to the healer as every death you bring about only strengthens your team.

Finally the new PoJ. Should the enemy try to prevent you doing your job you only come back stronger bringing the burst with SoR or backing up your healer in a tight spot with more WoG.

With all of these ability's we also carry HoJ and now Rebuke, making us not only support but also an annoyance for any caster that we can stay in melee of namely healers.

Braking it down we have AS on a 15sec CD with a chance to proc and a 3 sec silence. We then have old HoJ with a talented CD of 40 seconds for a 6 second stun. Finally we now have Rebuke a 4 sec school lockout and interrupt off the GCD with a 10sec CD.
All 3 of these together give us 6+ seconds of AS silence, 6 seconds of stun and 16 seconds of Rebuke lockout every 40 seconds.
That is 28+ seconds of every 40 seconds that we could potentially lock out a healer, now think about that when you doubt Prot's use in PvP.