New things to do

So I’ve found some new fun stuff to do, but you’ll probably think it’s an odd time to do it.

My autophobic banker-DK, Tremble (pictured there before he found himself a decent tailor) has carefully ironed and bagged his fine daywear and picked up his old sword, and is now learning all about threat, tanking in Outland. I haven’t ever made it past 60 on a DK before, so at 62 Tremble is entering rarified air. I’m still not sure about the DK playstyle, either. I’m hoping at some point the management of runes and runic power, and the costs of the various abilities will just *make sense* but at the moment I’m largely clueless.

Which I guess means that I could very well be one of *those* DK tanks who run about sans clue. It’s actually quite hard for me to tell at the moment — the game feels very undertuned at the levels I have access to. I’ve done four or five runs of Ramps and … er … the other easy one and there have been no wipes or major embarrassments.

Now obviously I could chalk that up to being a natural tank, gifted, spacially aware, with armour that howitzer shells bounce off and so much threat it’d take a tactical nuke to remove those mobs, but… I’m not. I’m fumbling around, occasionally regularly hitting the wrong buttons. My favourite least-favourite thing to do is to fumble my rotation so that I accidentally press the button assigned to death grip midway through a fight, dragging a mob an impressive two inches closer to me. That typically happens mere moments before the party mage or warlock crits and attracts the attention an axe-wielding manic.  That said, it’s still actually quite hard to tell whether I’m actively bad, or just a bit clumsy. More-or-less everything seems to die in just a couple of GCDs, and given the scarcity of tanks, I suspect most groups will tolerate anyone who isn’t actively working against them. I’ve never been that keen on the “hey guys, how’s my tanking?” conversational gambit in random groups (it feels rather a lot like a passive-aggressive “tell me I’m great”) so I’m a bit stuck — I don’t have any guildies in the level range to inflict my noobosity on.

I do have to feel for poor Tremble, though. Having spent the past six months or so comfortably ensconced in Stormwind, finely dressed and troubled only by his ghoulish minions’ poor dress sense and tendency to leap on unsuspecting passers-by, he’s now quite the most mismatched looking DK around. In the absence of decent plate heirlooms in my cupboards (and because I’m actually rather keen for him to get to 80), he’s been landed with some mail items. Some *caster* mail items. The coat rack-and-chestpiece formerly worn by my little spacegoat shaman Nepo, in fact, who is waiting hopefully for Bryn’s gnome mage to level up a bit so they can quest together. I’m so cheap.

I’m *also* levelling Grammy, who when last mentioned was a teenage geriatric warlock. She’s now shot through the seasons and is nudging hard at 38 42 (what a difference a day makes).

I know, I know, it makes absolutely NO SENSE to level a lowbie just a few short weeks from the complete revamp of the 1-60 experience. The thing is… well, the thing is, she’s just too much fun to play. Not so much in dungeons, where (unless I’m doing it completely wrong) the ramp-up time on her dots means that every mob is dead before any real damage is done (in fact, the last couple of dungeons I ran, I spent the bulk of my time spamming Rain of Fire and feeling fairly foolish) Now that she’s hit 40, I’ve picked up a destro offspec for her which seems to fare better in dungeons; with most of the groups I’ve run, Rain of Fire is still the go-to spell, but should our tank ever only have two or three mobs, immolate, conflagrate and shadowburn usually do the trick. Even though that *is* good fun, it’s not my main focus. Amazingly enough, I’m having a *blast* questing and grinding as an affliction lock. I watched one of Cynwise‘s videos a little while back, the one on drain tanking, and I thought “that looks like fun”. So I respecced to affliction, and gave it a go.

Oh *boy* is it fun. Particularly post-patch, Grammy makes mincemeat of any “kill 20 <poor unfortunates>” or “collect 8 <organs> from <organ-free mammals>”. She’s currently hanging out in Stranglethorn, doing the Nesingwary quests; the biggest problem is depleting the available creatures too quickly. I’ve opted to stick with Konnie (her voidwalker) as the sacrifical bubble is very handy if things do start looking dicey but for the most part it’s just not necessary. Seriously, if you’ve never ‘locked before, check out that video. I challenge you to not find it appealing.

Oh yes. With Tremble out in the field, I needed a new banker. Enter Tannin, businessdwarf, bon viveur (he prefers a glass of decent wine to a mug of ale) and hunter. The fabulous thing about hunters in the 4.01+ world is that they *start* with a pet. In the case of dwarven hunters, each is provided a friendly bear, free of charge. How lovely!

But I was weak. Soooo weak. Or perhaps Tannin’s love for bad puns will grow ever more evident. In any case, should you be wandering the cavernous halls of Ironforge, decide the time is right for some commerce and make your way to the auction house, you might encounter a purple-suited dwarf with a fetching hat and a glowing axe. He’ll undoubtedly be friendly, but he’ll almost certainly introduce you to his bear, Behind1.

Try not to be offended, it’s not what you think. That comma *is* important.

  1. I know this is terrible. But once I’d thought of it I could think of NO other name. So I gave in []

Link: The transition to cataclysm

A great post over at Do not try this at home about the transition from Wrath, to 4.01, to Cataclysm:

…the inevitable point of a vertical expansion is to take the “very powerful” characters from the previous stage and turn them into “kinda rather weak” characters in the next stage, so the cycle of power gain can be repeated. A good preparation for the venture from “easy” to “hard” would be “a bit harder”, right? Well, instead of making the game “a bit harder”, instead of requiring a little bit of crowd control, a little bit of AoE conscience, a little bit of mana awareness … instead, 4.0.1 basically punched out the bottom of the easy-barrel.

It’s a bloody good point. We’ve been beaten over the head with how Cataclysm is going to be hard, how CC will be necessary, AoE a rarity, triage a requirement, threat a luxury. To prepare us for that difficult transition we … become Godzilla? Our raid (with, admittedly, a couple of new DPS, but still) did >20k more raid DPS on Monday’s Festergut fight than any of the previous encounters with him I could find still visible in our World of Logs entries.

If Cataclysm really is the new challenge we I’ve somehow decided to expect, we I could be in for a rude awakening. I’m thinking I’ll be steering well clear of the forums and disabling trade chat if it is — I don’t know if it’s possible to drown in QQ, and I’ve not desire to find out.

Go read the full post.

The intermittent paladin

Urgh. This post has turned into a monster. In this I’m talking about why I’m not playing quite as much at the moment, and a bit about retribution paladin DPS.

Since the 4.01 patch hit, I’ve been a fairly infrequent visitor to the World of Warcraft. Partly that’s down to being busy with other things; busy at work, busy socially, other fun things to do. I must admit though, I’ve generally had a limited tolerance for the game when I *have* logged in. That’s not because of the changes to how retribution paladins play (I’ll talk about that in a bit), but more to do with the boring technical parts of the game, and with a current absence of in-game goals.

Firstly, there’s the technical1 stuff, which is closely connected to how and why I play. For example: I believe I’d be right in saying that most raiding players have fairly heavily customised interfaces. Obviously the degree varies, and there are plenty of players who are hugely successful raiding with the stock UI, but anecdotally, interface customisation seems prevalent. Addons are pretty important, and their effect on gameplay ranges from the inconsequential-but-convenient (SellJunk, ChefsHat) to the OMG-it’s-not-working-what-should-I-do (Raid/healing frames, action bar/unitframe replacements).

I hate dealing with that stuff. For the longest time, the only addons I ran were the peripheral sort, which required little configuration and could live without being integrated into the interface. Omen and recount were the only significant presences onscreen, and they were just… well, positioned as best I could to keep them out of the way. I did *try* some deeper customisation, but took one look at the resulting mess on first login and … just no.

EDIT: missing sentence here, clearly. Which should read “Eventually I decided I needed to do it, and spent some time fiddling and configuring a new interface”.

So: having to redo all of that, with addons that are continually updating, breaking, not-quite-working or plain not-yet ready? Hell. I hate it. Particularly interface layout — I spend all day doing layout, and whilst I love my job, when I log into Warcraft (or embark on any hobby) I’m doing so because I want to do something else. If I wanted to do more layout, well… I could continue working, or a could maybe make this site (or one of the other sites I’m supposedly working on) look a little less rubbish. But I don’t want to, because that’s work, and I’m here to play (insert XT voice sample here). Multiply that by however many characters on however many servers, and that’s a big pile of ‘no, ta.’

Plus there’s the fact that miscellaneous things don’t work at all, randomly stop working, or are buggy. I don’t have any major gripe about this: I’m happy to accept that in a release of this size, there are going to be bugs which don’t get caught or which aren’t deemed severe enough to be fixed before release. I’m happy to accept that addons are free, therefore having any expectation of them at all is unreasonable, and totally grateful to the developers of the various addons I use for not only creating and releasing them, but for their alacrity in responding to changes to the game client.

I don’t have to enjoy living with a buggy gameworld or buggy interface. I certainly don’t have to play whilst it’s not working properly. So there! *stamps foot*

What would you like to do today?
Hmm, dunno. I mean, I posted a list of things I wouldn’t mind doing on our guild forums a week or two ago. A few achievements in the WotLK heroics to get a drake. Outland dungeons/heroics I still haven’t seen. Take Centrella on her first all-guild raid (and, having seen the OPness of our raid group post-patch, I’m adding “get Kingslayer” to that).  See the Algalon fight. Not much of it is feeling particularly pressing though.

Running heroics to build up a supply of justice points for some nebulous future purpose holds little interest for me. Neither does the idea of cheesing ICC heroic modes for achievements or marginal gear upgrades. I was considering the idea of lerning2PVP but by the sounds of things, balance is a bit of an issue right now, so it’s probably not a great time to start.

So: I don’t have much in the way of goals to drive me to log in every night and tolerate the bugginess etc. Anyway, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about paladining.

Retribution in 4.01
As you might have guessed, I don’t have extensive experience. I spent perhaps 30 mins over the past week whacking test dummies in Stormwind, to get a feel for the new paladin rotation/priority system. Then on Monday, we took a trip into ICC. It was very interesting, but my thoughts can probably best summarised as a bulleted list:

  • Retribution DPS on single targets appears to be just fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. On the stand-there-and-hit-him fights, where I could forget about movement and concentrate on pressing the buttons at the right time (that’s Saurfang using the Michael Bay strategy, and Festergut), I was doing over 12k — a little more than I’d typically have done in the past and just enough to plonk me at the top of the DPS chart for those fights.
  • On fights where there was lots of movement, my DPS ranged from pretty good all the way down to pretty terrible. This doesn’t especially worry me though, as there are number of contributing factors, all of which I can fix over time.
    • Firstly and most importantly, I simply need more practice at hitting the right buttons at the right time. Having to think about what to press next means it all goes to hell if I have other things to consider. The order of precedence for abilities has changed significantly, and seems much more situational; my muscle memory needs retraining!
    • To support that, I probably need to change my keybinds a little, as I need instant access to a larger number of abilities and the bodge-layout I set up for Monday left me reaching all over the keyboard.
    • I also need to clean up my various proc alerts to simplify the display and actually show what I’m interested in — currently it’s a MESS for me. I don’t much fancy working on this until the bugginess/addon compatibility problems are a little less rife.
    • I probably attempted to get a bit too clever a bit too quickly, trying to “strategically” use abilities and cooldowns that I don’t fully understand yet, which generally had the effect of competely borking my output whenever I tried it. Stupid paladin is stupid — I guess somethings don’t change (in before the DiscoPriest :))
  • Retribution DPS for trash/AOE seems woeful. Well, perhaps not woeful, but on trash fights where I’d typically have expected to shine (or at least share the glory) I was generally well down. This could, of course, be part of the same pressing-the-wrong-buttons problem that I had on movements fights, but I got the feeling that even getting it exactly right, I’d still be weak. On the pre-Sindragosa trash (the buggy little dragonettes), our newest rogue did a majestic 30k. I did 10, ish *sadface*. More investigation needed, of course.

I am encouraged, though. Whilst I do miss the slightly frantic PRESS A BUTTON NOW2 nature of the ret paladin in Wrath, the new abilities and priorities are not without merit, and once I have my proc alerts working correctly I think it will be fun to play. One of the things I really enjoyed about retadin-ing was the way procs rewrote what you did next on the fly (especially with 2pc t10 resetting Divine Storm’s cooldown). The next buttonpress was heavily dependent on what had procced, and I like that. I’ll take Berserking over Massacre, not because it’s higher DPS (although it is), but because I like the oop-here’s-all-my-procs-at-once-hold-onto-your-aggro moments that can crop up. I’ve no idea how much mastery will be available as we level and get Cataclysm gear, but if there’s a reasonable amount then I could be a very happy paladin.

The little bit of theorycrafting I have read seems to suggest that paladins now have a third stat to “cap” — in addition to the hit cap, and the expertise cap, thanks to haste’s interaction with crusader strike, there are now haste targets to aim for which allow more rapid use of CS and therefore a faster build up of holy power. The tradeoff between haste and other stats (including mastery) will be interesting.

Do I have a conclusion? Not really. But “will be interesting” doesn’t seem like much of an ending to me. Instead I’ll end by congratulating Aidan, Tanka and Dain, all of whom picked up Kingslayer titles last night in a LK oneshot (which I wasn’t present for). Aidan is the rogue mentioned above doing stupid DPS on trash, and Tanka is Anka, grabbing Kingslayer for a second hunter. Confused? Me too…

  1. Okay, it’s not really technical, but I can’t think of the right word []
  2. NB: that’s press A button now, not press ANY button now. Facerolling might have provided acceptable DPS, but who the hell wants to do “acceptable” DPS? Not me. []

Bee pit bingo

Zel over at Murloc Parliament proposed Bee Pit bingo, and I’m such a fan of the bee pit I did my entry straight away.

And then realised it’d probably need some detail. Hence this post.

I'm printing this and keeping copies by my PC. If I win, I'll pour myself a drink. See you in rehab!

From left to right, starting at the top

Dice: loot issues. Needing, ninjaing, “loot reservation”, whining, obsessing. Just stop it.

“Anal”: in /2 or whereever. Also include “Dirge” and any other variations

The Mystery Button: player seems mysteriously ignorant of a crucial ability or skill. Also mark this spot if someone activates/cancels an event before everyone is ready – the lure of the mysterious button is strong

MB! MB! etc: Every time the rest of the group charges off leaving you with an empty bar. Particularly vexing if you’re healing.

Skully: DPSing the wrong target. AOEing instead of single targeting. Non-tanks pulling without being asked to help.

1g plz: Beggars. Mostly in Stormwind. GO AWAY.

“Gay”: Paladins are “gay”. Running after a wipe is “gay”. Heroics are “gay”. Roleplaying is “gay”. Cheese sandwiches are “gay”. Finding people of the same gender attractive is “gay” (waaaait). Optionally extend via “rape” != “beat”.

LMGTFY aka Let Me Google That For You: There *are* such things as stupid questions.

“Nub”: or scrub, noob, bad etc. Didn’t you ever make a mistake before?

/y: Stop yelling. I don’t care. It’s not funny.

(class): I have a name. I know I am a paladin, and I might be your healer but I don’t particularly want you to call me “paladin” or “healer”. If you’re going to call me “pally” because it’s something I am, I’m going to call you “jerk” for the same reason.

PVPenis: I’ve been poking a tentative toe into PVP. So that’s where all the dickheads live. Save it for the other side, lumpy.

“Rez Plz”: If we’re still fighting, shut up. I can’t. If we’ve just stopped fighting, shut up. I’m out of mana and will rez you in a sec. If we’ve wiped: shut up and run.

Not trained: Tank not trained his taunt? Any capable class not trained their rez? Generous interpretation would include “not on my bars”

“Gear”: as in “Your gear sucks” when in anything which constitutes a levelling dungeon. Including heroics.

“Pat?”: There’s a patrol? *wipe*. Spatial awareness disasters e.g. buffing too close to the mobs after a wipe. Bonus points for repeat offenders.

“FFS”: In any sentence in almost any group of randoms, this is the start of the kick/fake DC cycle. FFS, assholes, don’t say FFS. Particularly when someone makes a teeny mistake and/or apologises. FFS.

NMJ (Not my job): Covers everything from utility functions like mages decursing and paladins cleansing, through to my personal favourite, “you’re ranged dps, it’s your job to handle the blood beasts. You have all the tools to do all the cc yourself, so no-one else should help you AT ALL.”. Uh-huh.

“Go!”: “Quick run please”. Stop talking, start playing. OGOGOGOGOGOgogogogogogogogogogogogog *kick*

Wowcock: “My GS>yours”. Yeah, but my brain>yours. And my social skills>yours. And my sense of proportion>yours. Oh yeah, as it turns out, my DPS/TPS/HPS>yours too, numbnuts. See also “plz link achiv”.

RTB (Rose-tinted binoculars): back when it was “good”, before it was “nerfed” for the “casuals” and there were “welfare epics” and all these “nubs” started playing. If you were such an ace player back before the game was “consolized” how come you suck so much now?

“lol”: Sorry, lol. Didn’t mean to pull, lol. I forgot my reagents, lol. Lolololololololol STOP THAT NOW.

AFK: … … … Ah screw it, we can manage without you.

Ooooohkay, what?: Why are you telling me about your cat? I’m sad that you’re depressed but I’d suggest the Samaritans, not LFG. Good to know your girlfriend is that kinky – I’ll be sure to look her up. No sandwich is so good it deserved four paragraphs in party chat. Space Cadet Pugee, you are ready for liftoff.

Mission accomplished, addendum

If you read the  post about our guild’s first LK kill a couple of weeks ago, you might remember that there were two of our raiders who had to step out for the most absurd reasons, like having to go to bed so they could go to work and, y’know, pay their bills and stuff. Silly, right? Anyway, on that night we were able to grab another two guildies who logged on late, and in the early hours of the morning, we finally managed it.

Well, tonight we completed our second LK kill, with both Anka and Mora (the two who’d had to leave) present and in fine form to collect their Kingslayer titles. Glorious.

On Tuesday, we’d killed off Sindy and had a few a good few attempts on Arty culminating in a heartbreaking 2% (well, 12%) wipe. Amazingly, it turned we were able to raid again tonight (Wednesday), with only once person unavailable.  On each try, we improved by a phase;  attempt one ended at the  first phase transition when the  instance bugged out and Arthas decided to go levitate somewhere off the edge of the platform! The kill was our third attempt of the evening.

Admittedly, I snuffed it not much past the 30% mark and was then instakilled by a horrible spirit-y thing moments after a battle rez, but that didn’t stop our remaining nine from punching Arty’s lights out. Now *all* of us who were part of the “progression” runs in ICC have got the title on at least one character, and two jammy devils have it on two.

…but it gets better!

For our first kill, one of the two loot items that dropped was the Tainted Twig of Nordrassil. Y’know, the ace hunter weapon. Anka, our hunter, wasn’t there — she’d had to leave. I think it was vendored :(

It dropped again tonight. \o/

The other item was some two-handed mace thingy. The Warmace of Menethil. Which no-one really liked the look of, so I grudgingly accepted. It really was  a bind, having to reorganise my gear to get back to the hitcap, but omgomgomgOMGOMGOMG!


Next time we’re going to nick his pants as well — that way if he *does* manage to sit back on the frozen throne, he’ll not like it much.

Ano prepares to put the boot in, posthumously. Well, it's easier to kick 'em when they're already down.
Why do nelves have such impossibly tiny waists? Who knows.

Moreover, this means we’re locked out of ICC for the rest of the week (until the 4.01 patch? Maybe!) so our next raid will very likely be a fun run into Ulduar. I discovered this evening that there’s at least one person in the group whose only experience of Ulduar is the small group of bosses which show up as weekly raid quests. So we’ll go and ride the train, availability permitting, and I’ll see if I can stay alive for all of Mimiron for more button worship. And then maybe, just maybe, I might get to see Vezax. And maybe Yoggy!