Archive | August, 2010

Druid Solo Adventures

30 Aug

I tend to gravitate to classes that have very strong soloing ability.  Druids, Protection Warriors, Hunters.  I do this for two reasons:

  1. I like to be resilient
  2. I hate people

Okay – maybe a little less of #2 – but for now – work with me.

Thanks to a busy schedule packed with civilian work, commute, military, kids, spouse, plotting to take over the world, and all the sundry tasks that come along with each, I tend to find myself alone in game more often than not.  This aloneness, this solo-osity of my nature means that I miss out on things like guild raid times, heroics farming and all the fun and essential what-not that are part of being in a social game.

This weekend was no different.  With my druid starting to gear out fairly nicely, I decided to spend Sunday evening taking a tour of some of the more popular content from Burning Crusade and Vanilla WoW.  The objective?  To see what I could effectively solo.  To see how easy it was and of course, to get fat lewt.

In one night I rolled through the following on my druid:

  1. Daily “Kill the Raven Lord” in Heroic Sethekk Halls – ( no Reins of the Raven Lord … again )
  2. Killed Talon King Ikiss out of sheer spite….
  3. Cleared Zul’Gurub – damn near all of it.  Hakkar included.  I remember wiping in this place with 20 other people.  Now, my bear rolls up in the place and the bosses just line up to hand me their loot.  Hardest fight was the “bat boss” or High Priestess Jeklik.  Between her bat riders dropping bombs on you and her constant stream of heals and mind flays, you have to keep your head.  The trick is to know how much damage you can deal out before she starts to heal.  Once she starts you have to back off a bit and feral charge her to interrupt it.  I missed the first few of these and it prolongs things considerably.  The Tiger and Raptor bosses tend to be the most farmed in ZG as they both drop rare land mounts.  Hakkar, the supreme big baddy is a push over.  He has a ton of health, but hits like a wuss.  I haven’t tried Jindo yet – he was a bastard back in the day and I’m not sure if it’s possible to solo him now.
  4. Did my Burning Crusade Daily Heroic in Heroic Steamvaults.  I’m working toward the Guardian of Cenarius title and a great way to get Cenarion Expedition rep is to clear the old heroics.  Finished off the kill quest and cleared the instance.  Zero sweat.
  5. Rolled by Heroic Magister’s Terrace to say hello to Kael’thas.  This one is tough.  H. MT was a meaty heroic back in the day and remains so even now.  There are some great drops in H. MT, but most folks go there to farm Kael’ for the Swift White Hawkstrider.  The boss fights in H. MT start getting touch and go the farther in you get.  By the time you hit Priestess Delrissa, even well geared druids can get into trouble.  The fight with Kael’thas is the real gear check.  If you don’t get him to 50% of his health in around 60 seconds, he’ll show you his pyroblast.  Trust me, he can one-shot a modern carrier battlegroup with that thing – don’t get caught in it.  The way to avoid getting nuked is to do enough DPS to Kael’ that you push the fight from phase I to phase II before he ever gets a chance to nuke you.  Several druids (including myself) have to start the fight in cat form in order to do enough overall damage to get this to work.  Once he starts throwing you around up in the air, the fight is pretty much over.

What’s great is that for most of these fights, any reasonably geared level 80 druid can do the same things.  With the exception of Heroic Magister’s Terrace, a great deal of world content can be soloed by a druid in heroic gear or less.  While things tend to be easiest in bear gear, simply bring along some basic knowledge of the fights and a good understanding of your own cooldowns and abilities.  You will be successful.

For you achievement junkies, if you’re wanting to knock out things like 40 Exalted Reputations or any of the dungeon master achievements, why not plan your own night of Solo-extravaganza?  Not only will soloing the content make the grind more entertaining, you can also get a chance to score things like an ultra rare pet or mount!  For folks wanting to give back to their guild, offer to take others along on some of your daily mount farming jaunts.  They’ll appreciate the offer and there’s nothing quite like giving a guildy a shot at something as cool as their own Raven Lord Mount!

For some of the very best druid soloing tips to be found anywhere – head over to Feral Aggression and check out Rarren’s “Pimp Your Druid” series.  He has detailed guides that will show  you how to solo your way to some of the neatest mounts / gear in the game!

In My Day

27 Aug

Quick thought for Friday.

When you get to the point in a game or a career where you find y ourself constantly thinking about how things “used to be” or lamenting how things have “changed for the worst” is it time to do yourself a favor – and just do something else?

So much of the WOW-blogosphere, twitter, and Trade are filled with old timers and wanna be old timers complaining about how the game isn’t what it used to be or how it’s gotten dumbed down until it’s a pointless exercise in grinding.  The other half are raging because a favorite skill or ability has changed or removed from the game (farewell volley) or because the beta (beta mind you) has their favorite class in a bit of a pear shape.

Most of that complaining is just noise of course.  But you have to wonder at the volume sometimes.  It’s just a game.  If I have to “remember when” I remember how bad playing a 1.0 feral druid used to be.  How my rogue buddy used to hand my furry ass to me in duels and how it seemed like I could never actually kill anything in pvp.

Things aren’t so bad.  It’s just a game and if  you’re not having fun, FFS go away and let the rest of us have some!

The Problem with RP Servers – Part 1

25 Aug

Is the people on them.

You heard me.  I did not stutter.  Nor did I use a contraction.

Verily.

From my first tentative steps into WoW I have played on RP Servers.  When I wanted PvP I went to an RP-PvP server.  When I tired of the ganking and was looking for a nice home to settle down on, I went back to (wait for it) an RP server.

They are, in my opinion, some of the best and most flawed servers in the entire game.  They are that way, I believe, wholly because of the people that inhabit them.

As inflammatory as that statement might sound, the situation isn’t quite as clear cut as most would like.  First off, just because you happen to live on an RP Server doesn’t mean that you RP.  In fact, a inordinately large number of people on Moon Guard (my home server and arguably one of the largest and most well known RP servers) do not actively RP.

Which leads of course to the big question:

If you don’t RP – what the hell are you doing on the server?

What follows are some of the more interesting (or at least prevalent) observations as to why folks that don’t RP invariably end up on RP Servers.

Bottom Feeders and Transfers

That RP servers tend to lag behind in progression is more than just anecdotal.  According to WOW Progress there are NO pure role-play servers in the US top 100.  While RP-PvP servers like Twisting Nether (US RP-PvP) and Lightninghoof (US RP-PvP) are holding on in that august space, there are few active RP players that would describe either of these servers as particularly RP friendly as they once were.  A quick perusal of their respective realm forums seems to support this as there are few RP threads in existence short of the one required “sticky” thread that describes where RP can in fact be found.

The Bottom Feeder Theory is based on the belief that whole guilds of either actively anti-RP or RP-antipathetic players will transfer to RP realms in order to dominate PvE progression.   It’s a benign sort of abuse and one that is almost impossible for Blizzard to prevent.  Players pay their $25 to server transfer and simply make their way to a place where they believe they have a better chance at getting a realm first.  So where’s the harm?  Well as many hopeful raiders on Wyrmwrest Accord will tell you, it may be the reason that the gulf between the PvE scene and the Role Play community is so wide on their realm.  According to player comments on Wyrmwrest Accord.Net’s forums, several RP’ers hoping to get their raid on have been selectively denied positions in raid guild rosters because of their desire to RP or the fact that they were running RP based addons.

In one player’s words:

“I was told to go roleplay and leave the raiding to the real players.  Nice.”

While these stories can be hard to corroborate, the problem of the PvE / RP gulf is one that seems to exist on all RP servers.  On Moon Guard, the horde have a successful and entertaining guild known as Hard Corps.  The guild master and several of the core players in HC transfered to Moon Guard after tiring of both progression and personalities on their old PvE server.  Their choice of Moon Guard was not arbitrary, as they had friends who had been living happily on MG for some time.  While neither guild was what I would have called an “RP” guild or even particularly RP friendly, many of them had originally arrived on the server because of ties to old school pencil and paper role-play games.   They identified with the RP Server monicker if not the “style” of play that many feel should come along with being a part of a role-play server in World of Warcraft.

That last point is one that may actually be one of the most telling problems of RP servers in general, the question of what it really means to be an “RP Server”.  What does RP mean to you?  Is it old school graph paper and polyhedron dice?  Is it about being in character and furthering a shared plot line amongst like minded friends?  Or is it the kind of RP you see conducted in Goldshire by players with names pulled from Saturday morning anime and wearing black mageweave?  Are any of these kinds of RP more valid than others?  And why can’t players that all seem to support and espouse a similar kind of gaming agree on how to act around or behave to one another?

(Part II – Stagnation and the Death of RP – later this week.)


Femtaur

24 Aug

This is in honor of the femtaur.  The female Tauren.  Noblest of the female form in all of Azeroth.

While some might tend toward the frill and fancy of Blood Elves in Black Mageweave.

Or prefer their women on a mailbox.

None can compare to my gentle cow-maiden in either form or function.  Whether they’re healing the wounded, protecting the weak or laying down a 5 point rip on some dumb punks ass.

Femtaur rock…

Monday Morning List

23 Aug

YAWN…

It’s Monday morning.  I’m tired.  I’m annoyed to find myself at work.  I had planned on a post about my top ten memorable pug moments from the weekend.  Too tired.

So – /raidwarning – inc List!

Because functional thought will not return until sometime after 11:30 CST – I will forgo trying to be witty, informative, funny or fitting….(not that it ever happens around here much – but at least today I’m honest about it!)

Drink deep of summarized pug experience…..

  1. Bear Tanking Heroics while wearing an iLevel 187 staff kinda sucks.
  2. Realizing it’s not so much the staff as it is the fact you didn’t buy your level 80 feral talents sucks more….
  3. Fear zoning into Heroic Pit of Saron runs that are “Already in Progress.”
  4. Trying to find people willing to run regular 5-man TOC consists of nothing but tanks all trying to get The Black Heart.
  5. Smart Death Knights are a true pleasure to group with.  They make difficult pulls (like those in Pit of Saron and Forge of Souls) absolutely trouble free.
  6. Please do not Typhoon my neatly grouped pile of caster mobs away from me.  Too much /flail is involved in getting them back.
  7. The Loot Karma is not with me.  0-20 in useful loot drops over the weekend.
  8. Said Loot Karma did not kick in when I killed Anzu this weekend either.
  9. Six more days until my Ravasaur grows up.
  10. Druids still rock.

There we go – that’s enough of that.  Time to find some caffine and big dose of motivation.

Fail Bear Tank?

20 Aug

So…I’ve noticed *tons* of the folks that are hitting my blog are finding their way here via the search string “fail bear tank.”

Ouch! Mr. Bear is going to crawl back in his cave and nurse on a good leg bone for a while.

Is teh swipes not gud enuf?  Iz mah demo-rawr not demo enuf?  I iz big and mean and has thorns!  Why iz fail?

So – what gives?  Are folks having troubles with bear tanks in the dungeon finder – or are there a lot of new bear tanks that are feeling serious pain learning the tanking game?

**OR**

Have they found me out 0_0 ?

Randomly Oculus

19 Aug

Growl – my very feral druid is sitting about halfway through level 79 at the moment.  It’s a great place to be  – particularly if you enjoy camping the 70-79 PvP brackets for maximum destructivication of folks that are lower level than you…(seriously – what’s better than 2 shotting level 72 warriors and death knights?)  At the same time, 79 is frustrating because you’re not quite 80 yet and thus, not quite ready for all the cool stuff that comes afterward.

At any rate, when Growl showed up in world last night she had two goals.  To win two games of Wintergrasp (easy) and to grab the two free Triumph Badges from her nightly random (easy as well.)

The game had something else in mind for her unfortunately and we missed the queue for a WG already in progress.  No worries I figured, I”ll just take care of some dailies and queue up as Kitty DPS in LFG.  With any luck my dungeon would pop about the time I got my dailies done and I’d be out of my random in time for the next Wintergrasp battle.

It almost worked out.

I’d just finished feeding my baby raptor when the dungeon finder popped.  I accepted my place as the 3rd DPS and zoned in.

To Oculus.

Gah.  Now Oculus really isn’t that bad.  I’ve been through it a dozen times or so on Rainchaser, but it just wasn’t the quick in and out dungeon that I had been hoping for.  Surprisingly though, none of the folks that had entered with me seemed intent to leave, so I figured I’d stick around.  I mean really – how hard could it be?

The first pulls are a pain in the ass for any tank and an even bigger pain for the healer who always tends to get some aggro from all of the widely spaced whelps.  Our critical pair were doing pretty well though.  We cleared out the first couple packs with minimal fuss.  The healer took a little aggro, but nothing horrible.  The warrior tank was doing a fine job of rounding baddies up and shockwaving them senseless while I kitty-swiped my heart out.

Now, because I’ve been used to tanking I have a tendency to watch the tanks health and the healers mana out of sheer habit.  The warrior was spiking pretty hard, but that’s to be expected.  He couldn’t reflect *all* of the arcane blasts the whelps were directing toward him and what got through just ignored his armor.  Still, he wasn’t spiking into the realm of OMG LAST STAND NAO and the healer still had nice full mana bar.  Yet right in the middle of one slightly too large pull the warrior decided to ninja DC and vanished from the group.  Seconds later the healer did as well.  That left a mage and a ret-pally and kitty cat me.

So I did the whole druid thing and shifted out to bear.  Even though I was using my dps talent spec, most of my gear can be changed out on the fly to my tank leather.  Like a good bear I waded into the big middle of the magic spewing dragonkin and started swiping and mauling for all I was worth.  Now the pull *was* big, but between barkskin, survival instincts, a nice big health pool and that ret pally healing her heart out – we made it through just fine.

Seconds later the pally transfered leadership of the group to me and asked if I’d tank.  I gave a slight bear-whuffle of resignation, swapped to my tanking spec and re queued us.

Now – I’m not going to take you down the whole road of this Oculus adventure.  But I do want to point a couple things out.  By the time we had a full party again, only the healer and myself had ever been to Oculus before.  In most heroics I’ve been in, this is enough to make the more experienced players decide to drop group without another word.  I’ve seen it done more than once.

Yet the healer, a well geared Holy Pally was confident and positive.

“We’ll be fine.  Growl can tank all of this and I’ll explain all of the fights.”

So with only 2 players that knew the instance at all, we finished up that nasty hallway and killed our first boss.

The healing pally was outstanding, never ran out of mana, kept his cool and never complained when the new players accidentally drug blue guard drakes by the dozens onto us as we flew between platforms.  Mistakes were overlooked and where we could we educated.

It took longer than I was originally hoping for, but after taking the time to explain the fights we managed to survive wipe free all the way up to Eregos.

Who promptly tore us apart 🙂

But everyone came back, worked out the time stop rotations and made sure to keep next to the healer’s green drake.  A tense few minutes later we were flapping back down to the loot box and slapping each other on the back for a job well done.

And it was a job well done.  Sure, none of this stuff is particularly hard, but you know what?  In my experience, most pugs seem to disintegrate the moment things do get hard.  Having everyone stick together was a nice change of pace.  One thing I’ve noticed about WoW’s more experienced players is that many of them refuse to accept anything other than a milk run when it comes to picking up their badges for the night.

It’s a sad loss.  New players are rarely able to benefit from the accumulated wisdom of more experienced players.  Worse, because so many new players are treated so poorly when they do ask for help a lot of the mentoring that used to be fairly common back in the days before the random dungeon finder seems to be completely gone.  We’re able to farm dungeons to our heart’s content, but we do it in silence mostly and with more and more disregard for those we share the experience with.

It’s funny.  In the old days people used to flail against the circular problem of raiding.  Back then, no matter how skilled you were, it took gear to get you in the door of most raid guilds.  People wanted to raid, but could not because they didn’t have the gear.  The only way to truly get the gear (of course) was to raid.  It drove more than one player to quit the game out of sheer frustration.

These days we seem to have turned the whole problem on its head.  Everyone can get gear, regardless of their skill level or association with a raiding guild.  Yet as they acquire the shiny epics, there’s absolutely nothing ensuring that they’re learning how to play the game.  Worse, the best geared and most experienced players tend to treat new players like some rare form of disease that spreads through mere association.  So we suddenly get a skill based hierarchy where new players are left to their own devices or ridiculed until they either quit or stumble their way to competence.

It’s a very negative, very survival of the fittest kind of existence.  It’s also one that Blizzard is trying to find ways to combat.  After all, they can’t afford to have too many new players give up on WoW.  Thus far, Blizzard has been trying to “fix” things by softening the games harder edges.  You can now be a successful raid guild with only 10 members.  Heroic Content isn’t quite as heroic as some remember it.  Reputations grinds are less…grindy…and everything from honor to gear to titles seems positioned in such a way that virtually anyone can obtain something.

But then comes the problem of exclusivity.  In the old days you were elite because you raided – you were recognizably elite because you did hard content and won ultra rare gear.  In those days, even regular 5-man dungeons could take you 2-3 hours to clear.  Everything was a hard mode.  These days players are having a harder and harder time trying to find some way to set themselves apart from the crowd.  With everyone able to access a portion of the games finest gear through little more than persistance and heroic dungeon farming you have a population of gamers that continues to look more and more alike and with no real way to establish the pecking order that some people truly seem to need in order to function.

Thus – the problem continues.  New players stagger around until they’re lucky enough to find a friendly face willing to show them the ropes.  Yet the one thing that seems to continue, now more than at any other point that I can remember, is the need for so many experienced players to maintain their sense of exclusivity by browbeating less skilled players.

Wow.  I started out talking about Oculus didn’t I?

I guess where I’m rambling around to is this.  I never made it to my second game of Wintergrasp last night.  I didn’t finish all of my dailies.  After that slow and steady slog through Oculus I had had enough and decided to log for the night.  Sure, I was a little disappointed  that I was going to have to wait another day to buy those shoulders and even longer to finish hitting the level cap, but you know what?  Who cares.

This game is supposed to be a social one.  It requires players to join together to solve problems and overcome the bad guys.  While I know the in game reality isn’t as stark and awful as Trade Chat might make it out to be, it’s getting close.  As gamers do we need to reacquaint ourselves with things like “the Golden Rule”  or the “Rule of Three“?

We live in this shared world that allows us to transcend so many of the more limiting constraints of real life.  In game we’re strong, famous, powerful, beautiful.  Yet for all of that digital majesty we seem to be getting uglier inside.  Is it so hard to take a moment and give back to the game and the other people in it?

Sure, maybe worrying about this kind of thing makes me a hopeless care-bear, but I don’t think so.  Lets face it.  We can either treat each other and the game with a little respect, or we can watch subscriptions slowly dwindle away until no one is left but the egoists and elitists preening for one another in Dalaran.

And boy…wouldn’t that be fun.