Archive for March 2008

Magister’s Terrace: Revisited

March 31, 2008

Over the weekend I went back to Magister’s Terrace three times – all on normal mode.

Having learned the trash pulls, it now takes something extraordinary to cause a trash-wipe.   I still think the trash is a step up from any other 5-man in the game, but it is not crazy.  I am disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be much ‘avoidable’ trash.  The courtyard before the 3rd boss has two pulls that can be skipped, but doing so rules out using fear on the boss encounter.  Aside from the 4 pulls to the left and right of the 3rd boss, there is only one other pull that we regularly skip.

The first two bosses are still reasonably simple – I still haven’t wiped on either of them.  The second boss, however, was taken down on one attempt by my last swing before going down myself – leaving only the healer still standing.  That particular run the dps was having trouble targeting the ‘sparks’ – apparently tab targeting doesn’t behave on that fight..  will probably start suggesting everyone write a “/tar liv” macro.

We’ve now gotten the hang of the 3rd boss.  CC a few mobs, let the dps burn the rest down while I hang back next to the healer trying to keep mobs away from her.  AOE fear rules the day.  Of the three runs, I believe we had one wipe there.  Not bad at all.

Kael’thas however is more of a mixed bag.  We one-shot him once, but the other runs tooks 3 attempts each.  Running with a single healer, and 2 melee toons, makes this fight more difficult.  It never feels impossible – we just aren’t controlling things quite as well as I’d like.  Too much damage coming in from different places, and we tended to loose someone a bit too early.

So how does the diffiulty of Magister’s Terrace rank?  I still but it slightly beyond the easy Heroics.  I can run Herioc SP or UB  and be pretty certain that we won’t wipe.  Not so with MgT.  However, if things go right, then we can certainly to MgT without any wipes – its just that the same can be said about almost all of the heroics.

The thing I haven’t done yet is tank with a low CC group.  I’ve always had either at a minimum hunter/rogue or mage/warlock – and both of those combinations provided more than enough help.  I’m not sure that I’d enjoy running with no CC, but I think it would still be doable – although the 3rd boss would be the biggest sticking point there.

Heroic mode?  Not yet.  I think that we could probably make a good run at it, and probably should.  The longer we wait, the more I’ll start building it up in my mind, and we will in-turn, wait longer.  The biggest hang up – aside from perfectly rational repair bill avoidance – is that the rep flows pretty quickly on normal mode, and there are several SSO Rep items I want.  However, the 3rd boss drops, on heroic, an amazing tanking trinket – perhaps the only upgrade outside of 5-mans available for my Warrior – so I think I will have to set a group up for that.  Probably sooner, rather than later.

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Isle of Quel’Danas: Progression

March 28, 2008

By Thursday afternoon my server was into Phase two of the Quel’Danas world event.  By the time I logged off at 10pm we were at 12% in that phase.  Still no repair vendor.

Phase 2 opens up two things – a new building on Quel’Danas, and new NPC is Shattrath.

The building has two new daily quests – a simple kill 6 and use a banner quest, and a bombing run.  The bombing run may be worth doing once the crowding dies down some, but yesterday it was horrible.  More dragonhawks flying around than mobs to kill.  Two flights around the loop and I barely made a dent in the quest.

The NPC is Shatt has a fun little quest to fly up toe Blade Edge and do some collecting.  The fun element is that you get an Invisibility buff – just like high level Mages – and it is a pretty cool effect.  Popping back out, not knowing what mobs are waiting for you is a simple, but fun game element.  This quest provides progression towards unlocking a portal from Shatt to Quel’Danas.  Very much looking forward to that.

PSA:  if you are in Quel’Danas, and need to go to IF or SW or, say, Karazhan.. stone back to Shatt and take a portal.  That flight is *crazy* long.  Darnassus to Gadgetzan (yes, I did that flight *once* too) has nothing on this flight

So, phase 2.  Three more quests.  Oh, and a trade skill vendor.  Meh.  At least we are closer to Phase 3 – which will open up the Blacksmith, and the quest that will finally open up the new Badge Gear and Repair vendor (/queue choir of angels)

Magister’s Terrace: First thoughts

March 26, 2008

After spending a delightfully short amount of time patching my game client, and upgrading my mods, I had some time last night to try out the new path 2.4 content.

I had spent a small amount of time on the PTR, so the dailies were basically what I was expecting. The Phase 1 quests are quick and reasonably easy. Those sending you back to Hellfire were particularly over-crowded however – so by the time we were done there, we needed some alone time.

Well, not quite “alone”. We grabbed three other guildies – a rogue, a hunter and a mage – and heading into Magisters Terrace (which we decided to shorten to MgT – after I threatened to summon the whole lot to Aunchindoun.)

First off – this is a beautiful instance. Not playing horde side, I haven’t seen much of the Blood Elf art and architecture – and this stuff is amazing.

There is not too much trash, and it is mainly grouped before the first and third bosses. There is a fair amount of trash, but I think that much of it could possibly be skipped – however, we were content to get the cheap SS Rep, and learn the mobs a bit better.

The bosses all feel very original – even though they are all reminicient of other fights. No entirely new mechanics, but they are all very well done. And not at all “too easy”.

It had been reported that this instance would be SH/SL difficulty. It is not. It is closer to the last half of Heroic SP, UB or Mech. Not quite as rough as Heroic SH or SL, but not terribly far off. The trash pulls tend towards the large size – most of them being 5 or 6 mobs – and they are far more challenging than the similarly sized pulls in normal SH or SL.

The bosses are great though – one similar the the final boss in SV, and another very close to the Curator in Karazhan. Kael’thas is, of course, a 5-man version of his 25-man raid fight – mixed with a bit of Alar – and as I’ve never seen these fights, this was a treat. However, the boss that caused us the most trouble was the 3rd.

In /general chat for the instance (horrible, by the way, leave it ASAP) we had seen this fight described as similar to Moroes.. and is it.. kinda. She comes with 4 adds, which are random each time. The adds have to be dealt with along with the boss. The difference is that with Moroes, the adds are not much of a threat. They only have a couple of abilities each, and are easily CC’s or off-tanked.

These adds are nothing like that. They are agro-happy – I could barely hold on to any of them. They have *far* more abilities. Each add has all the main abilities that you’d expect to see for their given class. You can even tell who is who just by looking at their gear. The hunter has Scatter Shot, Freezing Traps and a Pet. The Warrior Mortal Strike, Hamstring, Charge and Intimidating Shout. This played much less like a boss fight with 4 adds, and much more like.. like.. pvp.

Specifically, 5v5 Arena matches. We had what amounted to a Shammy/Rogue/Priest/MSWarr/MMHunter arena match. Sure, you there are difference – the rogue didn’t start of stealthed, and in arena you never get feared into another group of mobs – but this felt far more like going against another group of players than a normal boss fight.

With the mobs being so agro happy, and taunt immune, the focus is on simply controlling the fight. Next time in I’ll swap to dps gear, and keep the healer locked down – just like I do in arena matches.

That single fight makes the entire instance.

Overall we had numerous wipes – I finished the run with my gear around 50% durability – but had a good time. It feels like something that we will do several times on normal mode before venturing into heroic. Without being *very* comfortable with the pulls and mob abilities, I’m pretty sure we would get rolled by Heroic – so I’m fine with taking a few days to learn the place first.

And letting the island “event” proceed far enough for a repair vendor to show up.

Raid Update

March 25, 2008

After a few weeks where raiding has been rough – a combination of lack of focus in Karazhan, and lack of signups for Gruul – this past week went very well.

I tanked a Kara group, spread across two nights. Both went very well. The second night only saw one death for the entire run – and that was a player confused between “run up to the library” and “run through the library”, leading to his turning a corner and running right into a mob.

Gruul’s Lair went well too. We were short again – we ran with 20 guildies and two guests – but even three people short, we managed to get Maulgar down.

HKM took several attempts, but that was mainly due to us having a very different group makeup. Our two hunters had never tanked the Shaman before, the arms warrior tanking the Priest had was new to that role, as was the feral druid we used as one of the Warlock tanks. Add to that, not having extra hunters for misdirects, and it took a few attempts to get the pull down.

The kill looked roughly the same as the last one, with a few changes.

To compensate for the lack of Misdirects, I pulled with my Decapitator, and then quickly swapped back to my tanking weapon as HKM charged me. One of our Warlock tanks, a warrior, used a throwing weapon to pull and then intervened back to the other tank – a quick way solution to positioning, which had caused up problems early in the evening.

Also, we had no “stupid” accidental early-pull wipes. Every wipe lead to us refining our strategy, and then moving on the the next error. I think there were 5 attempts total. More than I’d like, but at this point, I’m pleased with the fact that we weren’t repeating silly mistakes.

Once we had him down, we moved on to Gruul. Taking 22 to a 25-man DPS race is not a good plan, so I established early on that we were simply going to be looking to get some practice. A few attempts to let new people get a feel for avoiding the Shatters. Our second attempt got him to 33% at 8 growths. On track to have him down by the 12th growth, if we hadn’t lost too many people early. That was very promising, and the best I felt we were likely to do that evening, so I called to run. Next week we will work to take a full group in, and I think we will see Gruul down, or at least very close.

Our strategy for High King Maulgar

March 20, 2008

Taking a bit of a break from the ongoing guild drama, I’m going to post the write up of our experience taking down Maulgar for the first time a few weeks back. I will likely revisit this topic as we get more kills under our collective belt, but this is where we are at now.

The basics: Maulgar comes with 4 adds. Mage, Warlock, Shammy & Priest.

Maulgar – As out MT, I tanked him with two healers watching me. I pulled him near to the entrance tunnel to keep him out of the way.

Mage – Tanked by a hit-capped, high health mage – with a well geared Pally spamming heals. He is tanked as near to his starting point as possible to keep his AOE for hitting anyone.

Shammy – Tanked by two hunters with a single Pally healing. The healing job here is reasonably light, so a middle-of-the pack healer works here. The hunters tanked with the backs against the wall, and only had problems when one of them accidentally broke LOS (got polymorphed and ended up just behind a column) which ended up pulling the Shammy on top of them – once in Melee range he toasted them quickly. Make sure that they position themselves so they don’t need accidentally loose LOS. Tanked as close to starting position as possible.

Priest – Trivial to tank. We had our least geared tank, just getting a few heals from one of the Warlock healers. Pulled back to near the exit tunnel. If we are short a ‘Tank’ here, might replace with a DPS warrior, or a Kitty-druid using Cat gear in Bear form.

Warlock – Two tanks here. Two healers watching them. One warlock picking up the summons with enslave and/or banish. The ‘lock needs to be at or near the spell-hit cap, or else the enslaves break way too quickly. We tried this with no tanks, or a single tank, and it just didn’t work out for us. Our ‘locks just weren’t capable of grabbing the adds and actually tanking with them. I’ve heard it can be done, but we kept loosing healers at the start. Tanked with the Priest, near the exit tunnel.

That accounts for 4 tanks, 2 hunters, 1 mage, and 6 healers.

Positioning Summary: The Mage and Shammy are tanked close to their starting positions – the right side of the room, from the entrance (the mage pulled slightly closer to the entrance, the Shammy slightly closer to the exit). All others are tanked on the left wall. The Priest and Shammy are pulled to the far side of the left wall, while Maulgar is tanked near to the entrance. This lets the healers for Maulgar and the Mage stand in the entrance tunnel for most of the fight.

DPS: All dps starts on the Priest. Get as many of the quick heals as possible, but make sure to have an interrupt to get through the shield for the Prayer of Mending. I assigned two people to just watch for that spell – just to be safe. Once the priest is down, we move *all* dps to the Warlock. Once he was down, the DPS split. Melee went after the Shammy – his AOE is pretty weak, and caused no problems. Ranged went after Mage – his AOE is crazy, and must be avoided.

Once the melee/range finish their targets, they move onto Maulgar. By this point, the fight felt trivial. All the healers had moved onto me, I had tanks to help pick him up when he charged off, and tons of DPS spread out through the room. Seriously, I almost can’t imagine wiping if you get to this point with most of your raid standing.

On our kill, we lost one of the hunters tanking the Shammy – so I hot-called another to get over there and fill in. We lost our mage-tank with 5% left on the mage – the ranged DPS finished him off before he one-shot anyone else. Other than that, we lost one or two others along the way, but ended with the vast majority standing. Once we got the Priest and then the Warlock down, it got progressively easier.

Some tips that I will remind the whole raid about each time in:

  • The Mage has a nasty AOE – I don’t care what you are doing, stay away from him.
  • The Warlock’s summons must be Enslaved/Banished/Tanked. We had one Warlock doing nothing but watching for this. Would prefer to have had two. Healers taste good to the puppies, and are a quick snack. Many of our wipes were due to this, or due to a ‘lock chasing a summon and running into the Mage’s AOE.
  • Shammy tanks need to position themselves so that they don’t accidentally loose LOS.
  • Stay on the back wall. If you don’t NEED to be pulling, stay all the way back. Make sure you do not pull early.

Filling slots for Gruul

March 17, 2008

Last Friday night we had a Gruul’s Lair run scheduled.  Our signups have been light for the two previous runs, and this week was no exception.  In past weeks, however, we have had several folks just pop-on to run having not signed up.  This week, we did not.  In fact, we had several folks running late, and one no-show.  So, we called the run off.

Very disappointing, although I’m not terribly shocked.  The first two runs were tight, and I had expected that attendance would drop off slightly.  I had been hoping to bring in some new recruits, but that has not quite worked out.  As I’ve written before, recruiting is hard.

This biggest problem with recruiting is that we are picky.  The types of folks chronically in the LFGuid channel, are not who we want.  Loyal members, not looking to climb the “raid guild” ladder are hard to find – and, almost certainly already in a guild.  Even if their current guild isn’t raiding yet, or if they just don’t get on runs, they aren’t looking for a new guild.  They are comfortable, and aren’t going to jump easily.

So, instead of directly recruiting, I decided to start expanding my friends list.  My wife, the GL, and myself spent Saturday afternoon in a few heroics, each time pulling in two PUG members from the LFG channel.  The runs went well, and three of the four pug’ers were worth investigating a bit more.

The script for chatting with them after the run generally went something like this:

“Great run!  You really put out some serious damage there.  Do you mind if I whisper you in the future for Heroic runs?”
“Great!  Also.. I don’t know how your schedule works, or if you are already raiding with your guild — I certainly don’t want to step on any toes there — however, our Gruul’s Lair nights have been a couple of people short, so would you mind if I whisper you about filling in there as well?”
“Oh!  You are Kara attuned as well – that’s super!  If I ever have an empty slot for either, I’ll let you know!”

Of course, I’d rather get these folks guilded immediately – but they were all in guilds, and I’m not comfortable openly poaching them.  I am comfortable poaching, just not openly.  I want to be able to honestly respond to AngryGM7, “They asked me, not the other way around.

So, going forward, these three will be invited to Gruul’s, and if they do well I’ll follow with:

“Wow, great job tonight!  If you had a good time, I’d like to get you back in here again”
“Hopefully next week – but I’ll have to let you know.  You did so well, that I’d like to get you on every run..  I just have to check our signups first — kind of hard to justify sitting out folks to bring ‘guests’.. “

Give people a taste of raiding with us, stroke the ego a bit, and plant a seed a doubt for future runs.  I would work to get the guests on a few runs, and then, if they haven’t asked to join yet, give them a :

“Hey – just wanted to let you know that our signups are higher this week.. looks like we aren’t going to have to normal number of guest slots..  I hate it, since you do so well in there – I just wish we could have snagged you back when you were unguilded..  If we have anyone drop out, I’ll let you know – you are top of my list to bring in. /cross fingers”

That may sound a lot like poaching – however, I see it as pre-approving a request they haven’t yet made.  This allows them to decide to ask to join, without the risk that we might reject them.

Why not be more direct?   Good, loyal folks are going to take their time to leave a guild – and pressuring them will not speed things up.
Plus I enjoy my moral high ground – no matter how shaky it is.

Member Specs

March 11, 2008

“We are not a Raid Guild” has been a guild motto for a long time.

We are a casual guild, and always have been – however, concessions have been made as we start some raiding.  There are signups for raids.  As the raid leader, I select who goes and who sits.  We are now using a DKP system.

However, there are a few lines we haven’t crossed yet.  We don’t require a certain percentage of attendance.  We  have never forced spec’s on people.

To date, if someone is making obvious errors in gearing or spec, then we work to help educate them.  As for respecing, a few weeks back when a resto-Druid wanted to DPS some, he asked if we would mind – and offered to spec back whenever we need it.  In fact, mid-raid last week he offered again to grab port back and respec.

In fact, every raider who wanted to try out another spec, or switch mains, has come to the GL or myself and talked about it.  We’ve always said, “play what you want”, and then given warnings if their chosen spec was over populated in the guild and generally worked to find a way to work them in.  I don’t believe anyone has ever not respec’d after talking to either of us.

However… this week I found out that a relatively new Paly has respec’d.  We trialed him and brought him in as a healer, and geared him up quickly in Karazhan.  Several of our other healers sat out on runs to let him get more time in.  While he early on caused some drama whining about loot, he is actually a very good healer.  So, now he is Retribution spec’d.  We have a tank shortage, so I could handle Prot – but Ret is hard to swallow.

While I’m annoyed by this, the GL is down right pissed.  “If he wants to raid, he comes Holy” is an instruction I’m happy to follow, though mainly because I think we are being jerked around.  In the past his schedule has mysteriously worked out that he can only run on the same days as the “easier” (read better geared) Kara group – and we put up with that.  His availability to help with other runs has been non-existent, except for a single run trialing a friend of his – for which he schedule suddenly opened up.

In this case, I think he simply wants ‘priority’ on dps gear, now that he has his healing set filled up.  Gear that I’d just as assume see on some of our other dps’ers.

Is “You are bottom of the priority list as a dps, and therefor won’t be seeing many invites” the same thing as saying “You must respec”?  Yes.  It is also has the benefit of being popular.

I’m just not sure how comfortable I am with it.   In this case, I think is obviously the correct call.  I feel like we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated in the past, but, in this, he has crossed a line.  I also know that we are crossing a line.  Far less obvious, but this is step towards being something that we didn’t used to be.

Just not sure there is another way.