Posts Tagged “Instances”

The end of Wrath is just about here and most of us are tying up a few loose ends in preparation for Cataclysm. For some this may be finishing off some last raid achievements and for others it could be getting an alt to 80 so that you can switch mains come the expansion. With the end of the expansion rapidly approaching, I thought it might be fun (if not entirely over done) to look back at Wrath of the Lich King from a couple of different angles and see what I did and did not like about it. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the new dungeons and that shipped with the expansion and at the change in philosophy they brought with them.

Anyone who played WoW during the Burning Crusades expansion should be very familiar with the bulk of instances we had to play with. From Hellfire Ramparts to Magister’s Terrace, I think it’s safe to assume we all spent a good deal of time in each and every one of those instances. In my opinion, it was probably too much time. I remember on more than one occasion spending upwards of two hours in any one BC instance due to the size and complexity of the trash mobs within. I absolutely dreaded running those dungeons and I was left with such a bad impression of them that I flat out refused to run a single one when I leveled my Death Knight through Outlands. Having to spend an hour in an instance carefully orchestrating trash pulls for little to no reward was not my idea of a good time. This is to say nothing of having to run an instance multiple times on regular mode to grind the faction reputation necessary to unlock heroic modes. Needless to say, instancing in Burning Crusades required a crazy amount of time commitment.

Wrath of the Lich King saw a totally different approach to dungeons. While at first, many of us were indeed taking the time to mark targets and organize crowd control, it would not be long before each instance would become an AOE pullfest that could be completed in under half an hour. Dungeons in Wrath were drastically smaller than the ones in BC. Even if a group were to take the time to organize crowd control, a Wrath instance could be completed in half the time of one in BC. For those of us with limited opportunities to play, this was a very welcome change. It became very possible for some folks to log on during their lunch breaks and crank out a quick five man dungeon. This also made it possible for small groups of friends to run multiple instances in one night and experience a variety of different environments.

This not to say that instancing in Wrath was not without its faults. As I alluded to earlier, once you got past a certain gear level there was very little thought involved in clearing a dungeon. Grab yourself an over geared tank, have him grab up every mob in sight, then fire up your AOE. Repeat a few more times and the dungeon is cleared. Many veterans were left wanting more of a challenge out of the dungeons and had to wait until patch 3.3 and the introduction of the Icecrown dungeons to get their fix. Wrath also brought us one of the most hated instances in the history of WoW with The Oculus. The Oculus was so hated in fact, that Blizzard had to introduce additional rewards at the end of the instance just to keep the majority of players from dropping the group should they have had the misfortune of being placed into it using the dungeon finder tool.

Give me the choice of which expansions dungeons to run and I’ll pick Wrath’s everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. Wrath had easily the most visually appealing dungeons in the game to date. I still get all wide eyed at all the beautiful Celtic and Norse imagery in the Utgarde Keep and Utgarde Pinnacle. The introduction of achievements gave me a reason to continue running the same dungeons over and over despite out gearing and not needing badges from them. Cataclysm looks to build on everything I feel Blizzard did right by dungeons and improve upon them. There have been numerous posts from the developers about toning down AOE and bringing back the crowd control element into dungeon runs. Should Blizzard be able to find the right balance between the strategy of Burning Crusades and the speed of Wrath of the Lich King, I would consider dungeons in Cataclysm to be a huge success.

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A few quick observations for you guys on this lovely, and I use that word loosely, Monday morning. The leveling grind from 50 – 70 has gone relatively quick. Much quicker than I remember the first two times I’ve done it. The dungeon finder has been an absolute wonder for leveling. From 50 to about 58 or so I would just pop into the queue and roam around Western or Eastern Plaguelands finishing up quests until it was time to hop into a dungeon. In my battlegroup the wait for a dungeon as DPS could take upwards of 30 minutes, but it’s not so bad when you’re actively doing something else. Taking the time to do quests between dungeons, I would average two or three dungeons per level.

I really enjoyed questing through both EPL and WPL. For me it was fun because you’re it’s the first chance you’re given to take the fight to the scourge. Also, it proved to be a very nice source for runecloth and allowed me to crank up my tailoring skill in a huge way. The first couple of times I leveled, I did the 55-60 grind in Silithus and I gotta say EPL and WPL was much more entertaining and felt a lot less soul crushing. Not to mention no having to listen to that awful buzzing noise was a very nice perk. There is also an interesting quest chain that begins with current scourge killing badass, Tirion Fordring. You can find him hanging out in Eastern Plaguelands near the river that marks the boundary between it and the Western Plaguelands. It’s a cool little look at the man who would someday hold the Ashbringer and lead the fight into Icecrown Citadel. Worth checking out if you’re in the area.

The dungeon finder tool provided a nice little break from all the questing and was a fantastic source of experience. One thing I noticed in a lot of these dungeons is the rather large quantity of idiotic Deathknight tanks. I understand the allure of the class being that I have one myself. The thing that really drew me to it was being able to start at 58 and skip that horrific leveling grind. And it’s really great that you can tank on your new DK and get instant queues in the dungeon finder. But is it really THAT hard to take 10 minutes before you queue for a dungeon to research a proper spec for your Death Knight? Yes all three talent trees make for very viable tanks, but there are key talents in each tree that you need to pick up to be a successful tank. Please don’t be that guy and queue as a tank in your DPS spec. You’ll make everyone’s lives that much simpler if you just invest a few minutes of time into picking up a proper tanking spec. Even if you can’t be bothered to take an honest to goodness tanking spec, for the love of my freaking sanity, make sure you’re at least in FROST PRESENCE.

One last thing I discovered this weekend while leveling is that the Alterac Valley Battleground Weekend freaking rocks. Even if you don’t really dig PVP, you really should give it a try. You will gain obscene amounts of experience during AV. All it takes is a few victories per level to gain you a level and since the queue is relatively short due to the large amount of people taking part coupled with the fact that it’s a 40 man BG you could easily gain a couple of levels an hour. It’s also a good opportunity to try out some PVP and get a feel for it. I find AV to be the easiest on folks new to PVP since you can just move with the pack and not feel as if you’re being too big of a drag on the team for not really knowing what you’re doing. Definitely easier to hide in the crowd in AV as opposed to say Warsong Gulch.

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OK… this is going to be an interesting guide. Why? Because I didn’t actually down the guy. That’s right, I am writing from the perspective of a failed PuG. Of course, this is always super helpful, because I can tell you where the heck I went wrong, and how I think I would fix it.

Our group composition was myself, a resto druid, an elemental shaman, a prot warrior, and a hunter of some sort of spec (‘fraid I didn’t notice). Over the course of the trash pulls before hand I noted that I was going to have difficulties in not pulling aggro, which is always handy to know. However, this had little effect on the boss strat.

You ‘summon’ Ahune by clicking on the large, very prominent crystal in the middle of the first large room in Slave Pens. Everyone in the group should stand as close together as possible, to minimise the range of the adds when they appear.

Ahune is not able to be attacked at first. He will send out a large Earth elemental to begin with which has to be DPSed down, with some smaller Water and Air elementals appearing after that. Where possible (especially when you have a lock!) AoE the small adds down. This is where it is important to stand close together so the adds dont roam too far.

The best tactic for this in my opinion (one which we did not use!) is to have all DPS on the main elemental (IF you have a warlock). If all people stand close enough to the main elemental, the adds should be close enough that the lock can spam Seed of Corruption on the earth elemental and hit all the other adds. As soon as DPS start to go weird and run far far away, things go awry. The main thing here seems to be getting that elemental down ASAP. Don’t stand too close though, he does an AoE attack himself.

While you are doing this, big icicles will pop up. First you will notice a small patch (which looks like a mage’s Frost Nova), then they turn into big icicles and throw you in the air. I kinda sucked at avoiding these, since I was so busy focusing on maximising my DPS (and the fact I only had 5 minutes before I had to log!). The damage taken from these isn’t huge, but the less strain on your healer the better!

The boss works on a timer system and will submerge in Phase 2, leaving his vulnerable core, which can be DPSed. Pretty simple here – nuke it hard and fast! You can’t pull aggro, because he is fixed in one spot (and isn’t even really a boss – just a chunk of crystal).

Rinse and repeat!!

Of course, in testing tomorrow, I may decide that I am a total twit and this is wrong. Heaven knows there are a wide variety of strats for any boss! What has worked (or hasn’t worked) for you?

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So you have all this nice shiny new gear, right? And you want to make the most of the gear that you have? Well, that means that it is time for you to start looking at consumables! I am not going to lie – some people say that consumables are a cheap and easy way to enhance your raid performance. They certainly are easy, but I would never call them cheap. They will, however, lift you to your maximum potential. I have listed the consumables that I use below (as well as some which I don’t), with their approximate prices on my server (of course, prices vary from server to server and across factions!)

Food Buffs

Blackened Basilisk/Broiled Bluefish/Crunchy Serpent: Each of these foods gives you the ‘Well Fed’ buff, which provides you with 23 Spell Damage and 20 Spirit for 30 minutes. Approximately 20g a stack.

Skullfish Soup: Gives you the ‘Enlightened’ buff, which provides you with 20 Spell Crit and Spirit for 30 minutes. Does not stack with the ‘Well Fed’ buff. Approximately 25-30g a stack.

Spicy Crawdad: Gives you the ‘Well Fed’ buff, providing you with 30 Stamina and 20 Spirit for 30 minutes. Handy for warlock tanking encounters. Approximately 25-30g a stack.

Wizard Oils

Brilliant Wizard Oil: 36 Spell Damage and 14 Spell Crit for one hour. Approximately 20g for 5 charges.

Superior Wizard Oil: 42 Spell Damage for one hour. Approximately 7g for 5 charges.

Elixirs

Battle

Adept’s Elixir: 24 Spell Damage and 24 Spell Critical Strike Rating for one hour. Approximately 7g each.

Greater Arcane Elixir: 34 Spell Damage for one hour. Approximately 2g each.

Elixir of Major Firepower: 55 Fire Spell Damage for one hour. Approximately 7g each.

Elixir of Major Shadow Power: 55 Shadow Spell Damage for one hour. Approximately 5g each.

Guardian

Elixir of Major Fortitude: Gives you +250 maximum health and 10 health regen for one hour. Approximately 3g each.

Elixir of Draenic Wisdom: 30 Intellect and 30 Spirit for one hour. Approximately 3g each.

Flasks

Flask of Pure Death: Increases Fire, Shadow, and Frost damage by 80 for 2 hours. Counts as both a guardian and battle elixir. Persists through death. Approximately 50g each.

Flask of Supreme Power: Increases Spell Damage by 70 for 2 hours. Counts as both a guardian and a battle elixir. Persists through Death.

(Note: I have italicised the items which I use frequently).

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I know that it is a day early for most, but I would just like to wish all the great Mums out there a wonderful day, where (hopefully) the kids and the hubby do everything for you and make you feel loved. Please, enjoy it!

Yesterday was one of our scheduled raid days in Arcis, and we ventured into SSC to do a bit of killing of the ‘farm’ bosses in preparation for today’s Vashj-fest. Now recently I have noticed that we are having fairly high amounts of difficulty on what we have been terming farm content (prompting one person to question whether we truly had these bosses on farm or what). I think that the high level of recruitment that the guild has engaged in is more of an answer to this – when we first killed the bosses in SSC and TK, we had a core group of people who ran most every week. We knew each other well, and each other’s play styles well, and were able to easily organise ourselves around each other. Recently we have been taking a lot of new people in, who have to both learn all the fights, and learn the playstyles of each and every person in that raid and work well with them. The new players are also generally somewhat undergeared for the encounter, which makes perfect sense – people aren’t going to join a guild where their progression is behind what gear they have! In my opinion, this massive amount of learning is a pretty big ask, so of course there are going to be a few wipes.

Now, the thing that really got on my nerves was that people who have been in the guild for a long time, who have attained Raider status within the guild, have picked up a nasty habit of leaving early because they are ‘tired’ or some other similar excuse on the days where we face a lot of wipes. It doesn’t seem to happen so much on days where we are just flying through the content and clearing the place out. I don’t know whether this is an adrenaline thing – the excitement isn’t there, and it is more of a struggle to stay awake – or just a plain, out and out act of rudeness and inconsideration. The point is, each person leaving wastes the raid’s time, and means that the person who comes in and replaces them will have to (more then likely) have things explained to them. It also kind of annoys me because that is another person that I have to summon into the instance, and if you have been wiping fairly regularly you tend to be low on shards. But that’s just selfishness talking there.

Basically, I believe that everyone knows what the raid times are. They do not change from week to week. I know that some people have valid excuses for leaving early (I myself have left early twice because of family committments – but I let the raid leader and the guild leader know prior to the start of the raid so they had the choice of even including me), but ‘tired’ does not work. Everyone is tired by the end of raid. Deal with it. By leaving early, you are costing the raid itself valuable time, and slowing the progress down.

On another note, my T5 pants still elude me. From what I have seen, I am actually the only raider in the guild who still needs the T5 pants, and through sheer dumb luck just hasn’t been able to get them. Talk about frustrating!

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My guild Arcis (well, one of my two guilds – I consider myself lucky enough to have two guilds) is currently at 5/6 SSC and 3/4 TK. Now, we have left Vashj and Kael for a little bit to go poke our heads into Hyjal, but this weekend we headed back into SSC to have a whirl at Vashj. Now, we all knew it would be a challenge, but wooee… boy is it hard.

The raid leaders designated that all kiting would be solely handled by locks, and accordingly made the three locks in the raid spec affliction. I usually raid 0/21/40, and have an especial hate for affliction (slow shadowbolts?!? Urgh!) so I was a bit sad anyway. I expected that I would have to though, so no biggie. The three of us did our best to ensure that Curse of Exhaustion was up all the time, and ran around like idiots with a strider chasing us. However, we found that we could not get the striders down fast enough (and as far as we could see, the only DPS on the striders was ours). We would normally get the first strider to about 10% when the next one would spawn. It was painful. At one point I was being bounced between two striders like a pinball thanks to their fear – yes, noob me for getting caught in it in the first place, but that feeling of total helplessness sucks in a raid. From what I could tell, there were no other real issues in the raid – tainted cores were making their way up to the generators well, and elementals weren’t slipping through (except for once, when a mage got left all on their lonesome to attack the elementals).

So what do you guys think? Personally I favour the strat of having one warlock do CoE/kiting rather than all three of us running around – I just can’t seem to justify the loss in DPS there. I had a little tinker with tailoring nets, but I might need to take a lot more in with me to test that out further. Also, how many striders do you guys expect to spawn on average during Phase 2? From what I could see, we really should have to deal with perhaps 3? No more than 4? I just have so many questions and so few answers. Time to do some more reading!

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Yet another reason for me to dislike Gasnier - damn those Dragons!

Well, the last couple of days have been somewhat quiet, so there hasn’t been much to blog about. I made a trip to Sydney to watch the football, and lost a bet to Kalf since his team beat flogged mine :(. Not looking forward to whatever horrible punishment he comes up with – lets just say I would have never agreed to an open ended bet if I knew what was coming! I suppose if I just avoid him for the next, oh… year or so all will be well!

Back to WoW… well not much at all happened there, knocked over a fast Gruul’s Lair run, and hopefully got the last of the guild’s alts their T4 tokens, so that I can go back to collecting them for my PvP gear (selfish, I know… but I absolutely LOATHE battlegrounds, and would rather get my PvP gear through doing something I enjoy!). I am also running out of ways to minimise my threat, and it is starting to get frustrating having to ease back every two minutes so that I don’t pull aggro. WTB a shorter soulshatter cooldown! I guess the part that scares me is that my gear is still not overly great – there are still a couple of drops I would like from SSC and TK, and Wub’s Cursed Hexblade still evades my grasp.

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I am going to take the opportunity of another server crash (yay Cenarius!) to write about our fun run through ZA today. I logged on expecting our usual mid week foray into Hyjal, to find that the numbers weren’t there, so we put together a fast ZA group. Now, ZA usually isn’t all that huge an issue for us as far as I am aware (I generally miss ZA runs because I am at uni), but today proved otherwise.

The group makeup was 2 warlocks, a mage, 2 resto shaman, a prot pally, a resto pally, a prot warrior, a fury warrior, and a hunter. The resto shammies are probably not the better healers in the guild, but hey, we have run ZA before with two healers, should be cake, right?

We made the timed loot on the second boss just in time (literally less than one minute before sacrifice) after one wipe – the instruction to stand on top of the pally tank apparently being far too much for some. That then gave us 10 minutes to clear back to the bear boss and down him, which failed miserably. The first wipe the tanks simply did not get enough heals to stay up. Pretty simple to rectify, and we shrugged our shoulders and ran enthusiastically back in. Then Sar pulled one of her usual noobish tricks, got a bit too carried away, and rode her dreadsteed… all the way up to the mobs at the top of the stairs. Oh damn. Amid much yelling (and foolish promises made by me to pay peoples repair bills with my non existent gold), we all ran back in, determined to not fail.

Alas, that was not meant to be. The mobs were still aggroed, and had trekked their way to the entrance, determined to wipe us again. Most of us made it out the door, but myself and one of the warriors died a pathetic death right near the portal. Sigh.

Well we recovered from those mishaps, downed the boss easily (despite my framerate dropping to 1.7 when the boss hit 50% and never picking up again), and ran back to fetch our timed loot. The trip to the ckicken boss was uneventful, with only one near miss where a shaman forgot to recall their totems and one was spotted by a scout. We dealt with him promptly enough and continued.

We had a lovely little pep talk before we pulled the chicken boss, sorted everything out, and ran in to beat him around a little. We got him down a whole 1%…

….and Cenarius crashed. Again. As we speak, the server is back up, but the instance server is dead. Could have been worse I guess – we could have been in Hyjal!

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

UPDATE

Well, we finally got back online, and after some swapping in and out of people who needed to leave, we finally made our way through to Hex Lord. By then however, its was well and truly after midnight server time and people were getting pretty tired, so after one wipe we called it a night and will finish up tomorrow. Good times!

I am just glad that I got enough badges to get a shiny new ring :)

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