Weekend Update, WoW style

Posted December 16, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Uncategorized

After several weekends with RL obligations, I was able to get some real playtime in the past few days. We knocked out a few more Heroics on Saturday – only Halls of Lightening and Oculus left – and I picked up a few upgrades. The Red Sword of Courage made me especially happy, since I’ve had trouble finding something nice for that slot. Those upgrades are nice since I’ve not had any real luck with gear in raids – though the 22 slot bag is nice.

Raiding is going well. This past week we cleared OS-10, Archavon-10, and played in Naxx-10 some. We finished the Arachnid and Plague Quarters, and took out the first two bosses in the Construct Quarter. Grobulus took a bit of learning, and we finished Sunday night working on Gluth – our add management still needs some work there. I also tanked Archavon-25 for a pug, even though I was initially brought simply as a condition for my wife healing for the run.

The guild also talked a lot about our proposed merger. It is odd, in that no one has terribly strong feelings on it – we all have a list of pros and cons, and are capable of going back and forth very easily. For a normally decisive group, this is odd.

As said last week, they are a good group of guys – and our runs have gone very well. The primary thing in the ‘against’ column, is that we’d be giving up ‘our baby’. I eventually asked the question “Are we enjoying the raids with them? Would we be happier on our own? Knowing the type of recruiting we need to do imediately?”

The answer there – across the board – was the raids have been a whole lot of fun, and we don’t want to give those up. Even if it means not doing our own thing for a while.

Sunday afternoon we talked on Vent with their guild leader (and officers) for a while. A first they seem like a totally laid back group – but the reality is that they’ve been raiding for so long, they just seem to know what is important to focus on and what isn’t. Their near term goals sync well with ours.

It helps that the Sunday night run went well. It was a short raid, but we made some progress. We primarially worked on Grobbulus and Gluth. We didn’t get Gluth down – and it was good to see how their group handled a fight where things just weren’t coming easy.

Post-raid, we chatted once more as a group, and we will be moving our Mains over reasonably soon. In the end it comes down to this:

  • If we stay, we give up the raids with them – period. Their sitting guild members to bring us is going to cause drama eventually, and I don’t want to cause that.
  • If we go, we can always come back. Absolute worst case, things go to hell; then we’ll only have lost a bit of time building our guild. Ultimately, it is worth the risk of a bit of time.

Available Tanking Upgrades – Heroics & 10-Man Raids

Posted December 13, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Heroic, Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, Raiding, Tanking, WotLK, WoW

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This is another gear post, mostly thrown together as a quick reference for my use.

It is a list of what gear I have, and what items I’m looking for in Heroics and 10-mans. This includes Emblem of Heroism items and crafted BoEs.  I’m using it to give me a quick list of what *is* an obvious upgrade, and what places are best for me to look for drops.  This is not an exhaustive list of things I’d like to see drop though ,as there are certainly other “occasional use” pieces that I’ll take if I come across them.

Helm

Current: Tempered Titansteel Helm / Arcane-Shielded Helm / Ground Tremor Helm
Goal: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Greathelm (Naxx10 – Kel’Thuzad)
Goal: Thane’s Tainted Greathelm (Naxx10 – Four Horsemen)

I’ve got three helms that I’m playing with at the moment, and would love to get something solid enough to replace them all.

The Arcane-Shielded Helm (w/ Austere Earthseige Diamond is my general purpose Boss tanking helm.
Ground Tremor Helm (w/ Eternal Earthsiege Diamond) is my threat piece.

Neck

Current: Chained Military Gorget (EoHx25)
Goal: Amulet of Autopsy (Naxx10 – Heigan/Gluth)

Having picked up the badge vendor item, I’m not seeing any major upgrades outside of Naxx.

Shoulder

Current: Crusader’s Square Pauldrons
Goal: Abomination Shoulderblades (Naxx10 – Patchwork/Gluth)
Goal: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Pauldrons (Naxx10 – Gluth/Loatheb)
Alt: Wapach’s Spaulders of Solidarity (World BoE)
Alt: Pauldrons of the Colossus (Gun’drak)
Alt: Iron Dwarf Smith Pauldrons (Halls of Lightning)

It isn’t that my current shoulders are bad, it is just that there are lots of good options. Aside for hoping for luck in Naxx, need to start pushing Gun’Drak and HoL Heroics.

Cape

Current: Durable Nerubhide Cape (LW BoE)
Goal: Gale-Proof Cloak (OS10 w/ 1 Drake)

The only available upgrade here is in Obsidian Sanctum, and only if at least one drake is left up. No doing that yet, but hope to give it a try soon.

Chest

Current: Breastplate of the Solemn Council
Goal: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Breastplate (EoHx80 or Naxx10 Gluth)
Alt: Massive Skeletal Ribcage (Naxx10 Sapphiron)

My current Rare quality chest piece is holding up very well, but I do hope to get a shot at the T7 piece very soon.

Wrist

Current: Svala’s Bloodied Shackles
Goal: Minion Bracers (Naxx10 Trash)
Goal: Bracers of the Herald (Old Kingdom)
Alt Goal: Bindings of Dark Will (CoT:Strat)

The main upgrades here drop in heroics that I’ve not run very much, guess I need to fix that…

Hand

Current: Horn-Tipped Gauntlets
Goal: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Handguards (EoHx60 or OS10)
Alt Goal: Gauntlets of the Master (Naxx10 Gluth/Faerlina)

The Tier 7 gloves are very nice, but I just picked up the Gauntlets from Gun’Drak. I’ll eventually work of the T7 piece (either using emblems, or raiding) – but for now I’m pretty content here.

Waist (No Upgrades)

Current: Waistguard of Living Iron

Got nothing else outside of Naxx-25. This was my first emblem purchase, and it finally let me replace my old Girdle of the Fearless.

Legs

Current: Bolstered Legplates
Goal: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Legguards (Naxx10 Gluth/Thaddius)
Alt Goal: Legplates of Inescapable Death (Naxx10 Loatheb)

Got lucky finding these on my 2nd Heroic Violet Hold run. There are a few small upgrades in Naxx10, but none of these are huge..

Feet

Current: Sabatons of Draconic Vigor
Goal: Plague-Impervious Boots (Naxx10 Noth)
Alt Goal: Tempered Titansteel Treads (BS BoE)
Alt Goal: Greaves of Ancient Evil (Old Kingdom)

I have the materials for the Titansteel Treads, so I will likely have that crafted soon. Not a major upgrade over what I have, but I think enough to justify the purchase – presuming I can take the hit to defense.

Rings

Current: Titanium Earthguard Ring
Current: Unsmashable Heavy Band

Goal: Keystone Great-Ring (Drak’Tharon)
Alt Goal: Deflection Band (Naxx10 Anub’Rekhan)
Alt Goal: Signet of the Accord (OS10)
Alt Goal: Band of Torture (Nexus)
Alt Goal: Woeful Band (Halls of Stone)

The Titanium ring I made as a JC’er, and will likely keep it for a while. My other ring I just picked up in Heroic Utgarde Keep and would like to find some other pieces to swap it out with.

Trinkets (No Upgrades)

Current: Figurine – Monarch Crab
Current: Essence of Gossamer

The Monarch Crab and Essence of Gossamer cover me for most fights. There are a few other trinkets I’d like to have to fill out my gear sets, nothing that I’ll miss too much if I don’t get.

Shield

Current: Titansteel Shield Wall
Goal: Crygil’s Discarded Plate Panel (EoHx35)
Goal: Royal Crest of Lordaeron (CoT:Strat)

I have the Titansteel Shield, but would like to pick up one or both of these others – not a priority though. It’s not that the other two are upgrades, they are all very close, but they are different – and I can see keeping at least two of the three around for a while.

Ranged (No Upgrades)

Current: Armor Plated Combat Shotgun

Another slot where I am done for the time being.

Weapon

Current: Eternally Folded Blade
Goal: Slayer of the Lifeless (Naxx10 Gothik)
Alt Goal: Red Sword of Courage (Utgarde Pinnacle)
Alt Goal: Infantry Assault Blade (Utgarde Keep)

The Eternally Folded Blade is very nice, but all these others are solid improvements.

WotLK: The Culling of Stratholme

Posted December 12, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Tanking, WotLK, WotLK Instances, WoW

Tags:

This is one in a series of posts covering a WotLK 5-mans – from a Tank’s Point of View

Wrath given us many new instances, many with new mechanics, but you can always count on the Caverns of Time for unique encounters. From the very same Bronze Dragonflight that brought us ‘Jogging between portals in a swamp’ and ‘Slowly following Thrall across half of Azeroth’ we now get ‘The Culling of Strathholme.’

‘Old Strat’ is a level 80 instance located in the Caverns of Time in Taneras. There is a portal straight there in the Violet Hold in Dalaran, which really does cut down on travel time. Like the other level 80 instances, this can be run before hitting the level cap, but you will need to take things more slowly.

Enter the instance, and talk to Chromie to pick up an Arcane Disruptor. After an action packed game of “who is clicking the crates?” settle in for an in-game cutscene straight out of Warcraft 3 – and if you miss a bit of it, don’t worry; you watch all of it every time through. The lore here is great, and it totally fits with the WC3 mission “The Culling”, but seriously, if Halls of Stone can get a ‘fast forward’ button, then I think one is needed here too.

Once you talk to Arthas, follow him slowly (Thrall-style) into the city and talk with him to get things moving.

After another mini-cut scene.

I don’t mean to downplay the creepiness of the instance. The major point is to show Arthas as he once was – a young Paladin doing what he believed to be right. A bit over the top in his decision making – and certainly vengeful – but he was correct in that Stratholme was a lost cause. The issue is that he made his decision without knowing for certain. This isn’t Evil Arthas, but this is him on the precipice. This is showing how far he was willing to go, even before the Litch King had a hold on him. That drive for vengeance, more than anything else, is the story here – just as it was his ultimate undoing.

Once things finally get going, Arthas calls for those with strong arms (that’s you) to venture on into the city while he kills peasants for a while.

The first phase of the instance involves your party tracking down waves of mobs around the city. There will be four trash groups, and then Meathook, four more trash packs and the Salramm. All of these groups spawn randomly throughout the city – just look at your minimap for a flag telling you where the next pack is. The trash packs are made up of a variety of mob types, but are reasonably straight forward. I prefer to take the casters first, simply grouping them up and AoEing should work too.

Aside from the actual ‘waves’, there are ever present undead constantly respawning. These have almost no health, and barely do damage – just kill them as you go to keep them from grouping up too much.

Meathook

The fifth wave is Meathook, a large abomination. He does a fair amount of damage focused on the tank, and may cause problems for healers of a melee heavy group. He frequently uses a low damage melee-range aoe, that interrupts casting for four seconds – due to this healers need to be at range.

However, being out of range opens you up to a Constricting Chains attack that damages and is a five second stun. The Chains are randomly cast on one person not in melee range, so if you have a small group at range, then they will be hit very very often. One way to deal with this is to pull Meathook around a corner, and to position you healer such that they can heal the tank, but not have LOS on the boss. Tricky, but it should be workable.

Slaughterhouse Sabatons may drop, and there are very nice plate boots for Warriors and Tankadins. Block Value is wasted on DKs, but there is enough defense that it may be worth using anyway.

Salramm the Fleshcrafter

Four more trash waves, and you’ll get Salramm the Fleshcrafter. Salramm is a necromancer, who will summons Ghouls and later explode them. Expect reasonably strong melee damage, and hard hitting (reflectable) Shadow Bolts.

He puts up a few debuffs, but there isn’t much you can do other than to heal through them. Tanking this fight comes down to making sure you can pick up the adds as they spawn, and occasionally moving a melee heavy group away from the ghoul corpses.

Flowing Cloak of Command – A very nice high armor tanking cloak may drop here.

Interlude w/ Arthas

With Salramm down, Arthas will run across the city, and patiently wait for you. Meet him, chat him up, and start the next phase of the instance. Here, you will follow young Arthas through the inn and deal with four groups of trash. The first, second and fourth groups are reasonably simple – grab the casters first, and group them up.

The third group shows up (through portals) on both sides of a hallway once Arthas enters. I prefer to wait at the entrance to the hallway, grab the two that appear there, and to then charge to the other end and grab the pair there. Shield Bash and Heroic Throw help to manipulate the casters – you may want to consider using CC if you have trouble getting any of them into position. Also note that Arthas is fairly useful in this phase, and is a reasonably capable off tank.

Chrono-Lord Epoch

With the fourth trash group down, the Chrono-Lord will show up. He is very reminiscent of the final boss in all CoT instances, except that he isn’t a dragon. He has several time stop/slow abilities, a Mortal Strike style hit, and will occasionally charge around the room hitting random members a few times – spread out some to help avoid some of this damage.

This is a reasonably simple fight, but the random element of the Time Warp charges can cause problems if the RNG targets your healer several times. No tank loot here.

Interlude w/ Arthas, again

With Epoch downed, it is time to follow Arthas through the burning streets of Stratholme. This is essentially a gauntlet, with one brief break about 70% of the way through. You may be thinking that Arthas – who has been generally useful to this point – may be of some benefit in this phase. You would be wrong.

Here we are given a sign of the darkness in Arthas’ heart. He is a ret-nub. An absolute menace, apparently actively working against the goals of the group. If an actual player that I brought was half as stupid as Arthas is in the this phase, I’d kick them without a second thought.

Your goal here is to quickly move through the city, taking group of after group of mobs. There are many non-elites, with the occasional stationary elite, and several moving groups of elites. The elites need to be tanked, then non-elites can be dps’d down.

Move through quickly, take a pack of two of elites, burn them down, and move on. This is where Arthas comes in. He often runs ahead – right past a group of mobs you have engaged – and pulls the next group. And the one after that.

Destroying Stratholme, Abandoning his men, Wiping out the high elves, Killing his own father, Laying waste to his kingdom – all that I can forgive…

Screwing up the pulls in my instance? Oh – it is on! We’ll finish this in Icecrown!

Mal’Ganis

Talk to Arthas once more he will make his way towards Mal’Ganis.

Warning: You may see Arthas & Mal’Ganis start their chat, and be tempted to relax for a moment; perhaps to reach for a tasty beverage, having been lulled by the earlier long narrative interruptions in the instance. Don’t. They engage very quickly. If you aren’t ready, Mal’Ganis will run right past Arthas and one-shot your healer.. or so I hear.. I’m just saying..

The major pain in this fight is the sleep spell that Mal’Ganis casts. If he repeatedly targets your healer, things can get messy. Aside from hoping he chooses favorable targets for his sleeps, keep Mal’Ganis turned away from the group so that only that tank gets hit by his Carrion Swarm attack.

Mal’Ganis can be Disarmed, and warriors should consider doing do whenever their healer is incapacitated.

Flowing Cloak of Command is a very nice +defense shield that drops here. DK tanks can double dip here as the Dreadlord’s Blade is a great 2-hander.

With Mal’Ganis down, you can turn in the quest “A Royal Escort” – Druid tanks may like the Handwraps of Preserved History

An Offer Considered

Posted December 10, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Guild, Raiding, WoW

Warning:  This is much more of an attempt to organize my thoughts than an actual blog post.  I ramble.  A lot more than usual, even.

Several weeks back I turned down an offer to take a Raid Leader position.  At the time I had recently left my long-time guild, and was already working on the idea of starting up a small raiding guild.

The current guild is doing fine, but we are still small.  We certainly don’t have enough 80s to run 10-mans on our own, and aren’t interested in mass-recruiting in /general or /trade, so we’ve been running raids with another guild over the last week.

Our partner guild has hit the point where they are having to sit their own people to bring us, and while they do need (at least some of ) us, sitting their own guildies is obviously a hard sell.  Following the run last night my wife got a whisper from their GL asking us to join them.

I’d been expecting this, and honestly would have been a bit insulted if they hadn’t at least asked.  My line in Vent was “Ahh, here’s that other shoe.”

I’m not quite sure how I want to respond, but we’ll talk it over tonight.  There are certainly both pro’s and con’s either way – However, I think the decision is going to come down to one thing:  Is it worth doing the ‘work’ of guild leading when there is another option?

We formed our own guild once it became obvious that we didn’t have any great situations to step into, and didn’t feel like spending weeks/months hopping guilds until we found a good fit.  This is a pretty good situation.  They are former hardcore raiders, who seemingly all know what they are doing.  The content we’ve been hitting is admittedly easy, but things have been very smooth.

It isn’t all roses though – they are a bit more raucous that I’m used to.  From what I can tell, my wife would be their only female raider.  Their raid hours will require us to adjust our schedules slightly.

And, to be honest, we wouldn’t be in charge anymore.  Truth told, that is a big part of it.

Question is, is the ‘work’ of running a guild worth the payout?  Can we get more ‘play’ out of our ‘playtime’ by moving?  If so, is it worth it?

I’m not sure.

I’m very much unsure where our other raid leader is on this, and I’m not certain about my wife either.

We’ll talk things over tonight, and try to make a decision.

WotLK: Halls of Lightning

Posted December 9, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Tanking, WotLK, WotLK Instances, WoW

Tags:

This is one in a series of posts covering a WotLK 5-mans – from a Tank’s Point of View

Halls of Lightning is one of the four level 80 instances. All these instances seem to be tuned around a reasonably balanced, reasonably geared group of level 80s. If your group is above that baseline, then you may be able to venture in before hitting the level cap – but you will likely notice a large number of misses late in the instance.

Like all of the level 80 instances, you will get reputation for this run – so be sure to bring the tabard of your preferred faction.

Halls of Lightning is located in northern Storm Peaks. While there you can complete two quests that come from the Storm Peaks spanning Son’s of Hodir storyline: Diametrically Opposedand Whatever it Takes! These are the end of a very long questline, but are worth doing since they are ultimately tied to your Son’s of Hodir reputation.

General Bjarngrin

Upon entering you will quickly make your way to the first of 5 platforms, all interconnected with bridges. From the start you should be able to see the first boss – General Bjarngrin. Bjarngrin patrols 4 of the platforms, and as he moves between them will gain a visible electrical charge. The charge makes him far more difficult to deal with, so you want to pull him when it is down.

I prefer to start clearing around to the left – this way you only need to clear 3 platforms total, as opposed to 4 going right. I generally like to pull him when he is on the bridge connecting the furthest two platforms from the start, but you can pull anytime that he is not carrying the charge.

When engaging him, first take down his adds. They will heal him and really stretch the fight out, so deal with them early. The General will spend the fight swapping between the three warrior stances: Berserker, Battle and Defensive.

  • In Berserker stance he while Whirlwind – this is a killer, so avoid it at all costs.
  • In Battle stance he’ll use Mortal Strike – make sure your healer is ready for this, because they will get behind otherwise. I like to save trinkets/cooldowns for this.
  • In Defensive stance.. well, there isn’t anything dangerous that I’ve noticed.

His burst potential is very high, and if you pull him while he is charged up it is even higher. I can be done either way, but spontaneous tank death is likely a possibility.

He maydrop the Hewn Sparring Quarterstaff a high-stamina staff for Ferals.

Volkhan

Next, you move towards a room filled with Slags. These Elementals respawn very quickly – so quickly that I prefer to simply run through ahead of the group laying down AoE to pick them up. I drag them to the bottom the stairs (on the far side) and then we AoE them down. I suppose you could take them half at a time, if you moved fast, but this method works on normal.

Next, you need to clear up one set of stairs (pick a side), and then clear out the top platform before engaging Volkhan. These groups have an obnoxious knockback, so watch your positioning, and keep an eye on the duo patrolling around the middle of the platform.

Volkhan hangs out on the back of the platform next to his anvil. Once engaged he will ocassionally run back there and create a pair of Molten Golemns. The Golemns will turn to statues once DPS’d down, and I’ve found them to be resistant to being tanked. On normal mode I prefer to have dps nuke them down quickly, and then get back to the boss. Late in the fight Volkhan will shatter the Golemns, doing a lot of damage to anyone near one – so everyone must find a safe place to stand.

He does drop the Eternally Folded Blade – the best pre-heroic tanking sword for Warriors and Paladins. It is so good that Death Knights struggling to get crit immune may want to consider dual wielding this with another +defense weapon.

Ionar

With Volkhan down, you can continue to a hallway filled with statues. Three times as you move through several of them will ‘wake up’ and attack. I suggest gathering them up, and pulling back towards the entrance as they have an AoE fear which may cause someone to run ahead and trigger the next pack. Single groups of these are quite manageable – multiples are quite a lot more trouble.

Once through the hallway, you have a group of elementals to deal with, and then a double pull up a flight of stairs on the right. Behind them stands Ionar.

Ionar is a reasonable simple fight for a mobile group. This is an alternating phase fight. At the start, simply tank him – he will cast Static Overload on players causing them to nuke anyone near them, but this can be easily dealt with by spreading out. There is some other damage to the party, but it is reasonably light.

Three times during the fight he will ‘disperse’ into a number of Sparks. These are slow moving, and immune to damage. They are also easy to avoid, so simply run from them. Make sure that they healer and tank (at a minimum) are quick to get back to Ionar when he ‘reforms’, but otherwise this is an entertaining, but simple fight.

A simple fight with a potentially very nice piece of threat shoulders as a reward: Pauldrons of the Lightning Revenant

Loken

The trash on the clear to Loken are a step up in difficulty – at least until you get used to them. Specifically the Runeshapers have a brutal whirlwind, I prefer to take them out first simply to minimize the trouble they can cause.

After this final trash clear is complete, you will come to Loken. He has a number of abilities that make the fight interesting. If your group gets separated, then you start taking damage – so everyone needs to stay together. However, he casts a high damage Lightning Nova with a 20 yard radius, so you need to run away from that. As a group. Or you die.

It is maddeningly simple: stand on tank, and run with tank when the nova cast starts. Repeat until dead. Bonus points for using the glowing white line as ‘path’.

Loken can be managed quickly and efficiently. However – it often doesn’t work out that way. If your group is a bit slow to react, or are playing with lag, or your healer doesn’t have enough group heals.. well.. this fight can be brutal.

Loken can be taken down efficiently, but he can just as efficiently dismantle your group.

In slow motion. One wipe (and maddening long runback) at a time.

Don’t feel too bad if he takes you out, but do try to evaluate what went wrong. People moving too slow? Not enough healing? Not enough dps? If you cleared through the zone, then you can see Loken down – but some groups will have to experiment a few times to get the feel of the fight.

Got him down? Great! (Don’t ruin the moment by thinking about Heroic Loken.. seriously.. just don’t do it!) Many tanks should be looking for the Seal of the Pantheon to drop. This is the highest plus defense trinket available outside of Naxxramus, along with a very nice +armor on use ability.

Running With Strangers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the PuG

Posted December 8, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Gaming, Guild, Raiding, WoW

I’ve talked about how often I’ve been PUG’ing, but I don’t think that I’ve mentioned how much of a change this is.

As my wife and I leveled our current Mains (Warrior/Priest) to 60 I don’t think we grouped up more than a handful of times, and I certainly don’t remember running any instances.

We played a bit at 60, and in BC we ran the leveling instances – but only a few of those were PUGs, and for those we waited until we were already at the upper-end of the level range. All this is hardly surprising. We had little experience in instances, weren’t super confident, and it was just easier to not deal with it. I’ve since found out just how common this is – many many people talk about nervousness in groups. Looking back it seems silly, and this reticence over grouping did gradually fade on the trip to 70. By the time I was working to get my Karazhan key grouping was no longer stressful, and as we worked to gear the guild up for our first trip to visit Attumen I preferred it to any other form of play.

At level 70, much of my playtime was spent in 5, 10, or 25 man groups. However, I still almost always grouped with guild members or, at worst, the occasional friend of a friend or an ex-guildie. Using trade chat (or /lfm) evoked images of ninjas, large repair bills, wasted hours, and spoiled little foul mouthed children. Why would I want to deal with that? As a tank (with a pocket healer) it was trivially easy to find a few dps – in fact, I often had to remind myself to ‘share’ the invites so that everyone got a few runs with us. The world of instances, heroics, and raids had opened up, but I was still completely closed off to the majority of the actual people playing the game around me.

This past summer, I got hit by burnout and eventually left the guild that had been my home for 18 months. I came back to WoW not through the live servers, but through the Wrath Beta. My wife and I got in the beta early, long before any of our friends made it in, so if we wanted to run instances we PUG’d. Most beta players were experienced raiders, and the runs were generally smooth.

When we got back to the live servers and we wanted to hit the heroics one final time, it seemed only natural that we’d use /lfm to grab a few more. We weren’t guilded at the time, so it’s not like we had a ton of options, but by that point I didn’t even think about it being a problem. Somewhere along the way I’d misplaced my stigma over PUGs.

Truth told, I’m not sure that I have even ever been in the type of pick up group that I’d long feared. In dozens of runs over the last few months – Beta and Live, Outland and Northrend – I’ve come across one single player that earned a kick from the group and a place on my /ignore list (normally reserved for the most severe trade channel morons.) Sure, we came across some unskilled players, several with shocking low dps, or those lacking even basic grouping skills – but with that one exception – no one that ruined the run. Even the least skilled of the players were consistently willing to listen to suggestions, and were typically the most grateful for a run that had gone so well.

This brings us to Heroics at level 80. These days I am checking people on the Armory before I invite, but that is because the gear requirements a still very real. In our heroic runs, we’ve not had any troublemakers, and I’ve been blessed by meeting some great people.

A Retadin, who had the gear and skills to show he’d been in more than a few heroic runs, recently started started asking questions about our guild. His guild, a group of formerly hardcore raiders, were looking to start 10-mans but are a couple short. Could we see about setting up a joint run sometime?

We’ve talked a few times over the past week and went in Thursday night. It went great. Bosses died, loot was distributed, and -best of all- both groups got along great.

The details of future runs are still being worked out (by the respective guild leaders, so I’m just advising) – but things look promising. I don’t expect that this arrangement will last very long, they have several more on their way to 80 and won’t long need our help – but this does get all of us into raids earlier than we could manage separately.

I expect that in a few weeks we will find ourselves looking to raid on our own, and will probably still need to fill a few spots from outside the guild. We are actively working towards being able to make that happen, but for now, I’m enjoying the idea that we can get back into raiding without having to force our guild to grow to quickly.

First Wrath Raid Night

Posted December 5, 2008 by notcoding
Categories: Guild, Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, Raiding, WotLK, WoW

Thursady night – my last night of play before some travel this weekend – we joined our first WotLK 10-man raid. This was a joint effort with another guild, since both guilds are relatively new and a bit short on people.

We had planned to hit the Wintergrasp Raid to start, but Alliance wasn’t able to get back control of the zone earlier in the evening. Instead we started with the Obsidian Sanctum. Going in, several of us had watched the Tankspot video on Sartharion – so we more or less knew what to expect for the actual boss fight.

The trash was reasonably simple, but the drakes were interesting. I was the best geared tank , so I did the main tanking for the evening – that meant that I stayed out with the Drakes while the rest of the raid (sans my Holy Priest wife) hopped back and forth through portals and dealt with adds/eggs in there.  On a future run I will have to swap roles, since the phasing does seem like a cool mechanic. Only the middle drake caused any inconvenience, and that was only his taking an annoyingly long time to die.

Before engaging Sartharion, we had sent two people out to the summoning stone when the Northrend World Server started acting flaky. After several minutes those of us still in the instance finally saw our friends lists all go offline. Once the server got around to coming back up, everyone logged back in and we got to buisiness.

Sartharion is a fun fight, but it is not difficult – at least not when you leave zero drakes up. The Tankspot video covers it perfectly, and we didn’t have any deaths until the very very end when a few dps ignored the a flame wall trying to get just one more hit to finish her off. Silly deaths, but the fight was over at that point.

With OS-10 cleared, we decided to head into Naxx-10. Going through the Spider Wing we cleared through all three bosses there with little trouble – A total of 3 wipes across the 3 bosses, with the 2nd boss being one-shot. All the failed attempts were simply the healers and myself getting coordinated on damage spikes and silences – and once we got the patterns down they felt reasonably tuned.

I say reasonably tuned – as in, a fair challenge for a good group of newish level 80s. This is not Karazhan – at least not as Karazhan started. Karazhan was a mistake, and was far too difficult for it’s place in the raid progression.

I would suggest that Heroic Nexus and Utgarde Keep are a fair test for for Sartharion and early Naxx, with the harder heroics (Loken, I’m looking glaring at you) being more of a challenge than anything we did last night.

However, we did have a group of experience raiders. We did not loose people early in fights, and the healing was well coordinated – that really makes a big difference, and likely partially accounts for the ease of the run.

In all, I had a great time. I walked away with a new bag, while my wife got her T7 gloves and an offhand (she initially passed, and finally took it to avoid it becoming a shard). I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed raiding, and think that Blizzard has done an amazing job out of the gate.  Plans are already being made for another joint run next week – not a long term solution, but something that certainly is working out now.