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    How not to fight Nefarian as a Ret paladin


    2011 - 07.27

    Yes, I know, who does BlackRockWingLairDepthsDescentSpire1 these days? Well, me. Us, even. With only seven guild raiders available on Monday we decided to pass on our first Firelands run in favour of the only T11 raid we hadn’t cleared on last week’s lockout. There are still plenty of upgrades in there for people (and tier tokens) after all.

    Our recent player shortage left us with more melee DPS than ranged, and a shortage of healers, so I’ve been healing in every raid I attended since… March? Add to that my general impatience and the considerably shorter LFG queue times for healers, and the result is that other than running the Molten Front dailies, I’ve spent very little time in my retribution spec. Don’t get me wrong, healing has been a lot of fun, and I’m finally starting to make better use of my healing cooldowns (although I still forget HoS/HoP until it’s too late), but a chance to hit things with a big hammer?

    /sign.

    It’d be fair to say I’m a bit rusty, but thanks to the reduced dangers of T11 post 4.2, decent raid DPS and frankly overpowered healing, all went well. Until we reached Nefarian and my realisation that, as the only melee DPS, I’d be kiting the skeletal adds.

    How not to fight Nefarian as a ret paladin

    1. Make sure you’ve absolutely no idea where Hand of Reckoning is. Well, since they removed the damage component, why would you need it? Leaving it bound just increases the likelihood of hitting it with an ear.
    2. Be sure to get completely distracted by DPSing Onyxia at the start and fail to position yourself to collect the adds.
    3. Once you’ve collected the adds, be sure to run as far as possible from the healers. They love that. Healing spells have infinite range, dontchaknow?
    4. When you *do* manage to collect the adds nicely together, be sure to be both a) out of healing range (see above) and b) in front of Nefarian. If the tank can stand there, why can’t you?
    5. Run in bizarre lines to generate a nice conga line of skellies (ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-HEY!), the better to leave them scattered all over the room. Your Onyxia tank enjoys sprinting around trying desperately to collect them from underneath Nefarian in phase three.
    6. Once you’ve found Hand of Reckoning, it becomes an I-win button. Press it frequently. Under no circumstances check to see if you’ve accidentally targeted Onyxia. Eep.
    7. Rumours of paladin bubbles temporarily removing the paladin from aggro tables are just that — rumours.
    8. Righteous Fury is an unattractive thing — no-one likes an angry zealot. Be sure to not use it, especially if you’re having problems picking up the adds.
    9. Righteous Fury is a DPS boost. If you did switch it on for the adds, leave it on for phase 3. Your Nefarian tank was coasting, lazy so-and-so, he needs to work on his threat anyway.
    10. If for some reason you’re feeling kindly to your Nef tank (why??) and want to switch RF off, make sure that some combination of addons/errors/PEBKAC prevents you from doing so2. Stand still in the middle of the raid frantically clicking and reclicking on the buff in the forlorn hope that “the 14th time it’ll work, I know it”.
    11. When you finally give up on spam-clicking your buff and try a different approach, be sure to forget how to spell /cancelaura. Do this several times.
    12. Bonus points if you can spend the entirety of a heroism/bloodlust mistyping “/cancelaura Righteous Fury”3.
    13. Double bonus points if you are outrolled for the tier token by one of your pugged raiders.
    And there you have it. Aren’t you proud to know me now?
    --
    1. I can never remember the name of the damn instance []
    2. I use ElKano’s buff bars, and it wouldn’t let me right-click to remove RF? []
    3. At least I didn’t whisper it to anyone. I don’t think []

    Verily I doth admire the players of roles


    2011 - 06.13

    I’m not a role-player. I think I might be RP-curious though1.

    The first time I thought about roleplaying in a Warcraft context was probably when I came across Righteous Orbs, reading Tam’s early stories of the prettiest elf et al and the character of his … er … characters. I know this isn’t roleplaying per se, and I certainly didn’t think of it as such, but it was much more characterisation than I’d previously considered.

    Fast forward a bit. Until I read some of Pilf’s RP stories2 I hadn’t thought of roleplaying as anything other than a suspect extension of childhood make-believe. It’s stupid, I know, but that roleplaying is storytelling mixed with improvisation — two things I particularly enjoy, and skills I wish I had — simply hadn’t occurred to me3.

    When I moved to Darkmoon Faire (a European RP-PVE server) I was intrigued by the idea that RP would be taking place around me, even if I didn’t plan to do any roleplaying myself. Of course, in Europe the *real* roleplaying server is Argent Dawn, and whilst there are role-players on DMF I think there are probably considerably more people here because “RP servers have less obnoxious types”4. Anyway, aside from the occasional IC silliness when bumping into a guildie by the auction house, I’ve remained a largely RP free zone. It probably doesn’t help that my main is largely characterless, and try as I might I can’t seem to retrofit a personality to him. He’s just me, wielding a mightier weapon *eyebrows*.

    To that end, I love to read the blogs of people who I think do RP well or are able to get inside the game world and the minds of it’s denizens, and I was delighted by this particular post from Glorwynn at Heavy Wool Bandage about what it means to be a paladin5. Obviously, I have a bit of a personal interest in followers of light, despite Ano-the-character’s persistent Keanu-level characterisation, but it’s with the backstories and lore summaries that I find myself most taken, and the obvious-now-I’ve-been-told revelation that “paladins are people too”.

    I might not be a role-player but even I’ve heard the term “Mary Sue“. One of the problems I’ve always had when considering the character of MY characters has been finding the balance between interestingness and believability. It’s hard to care about the life and times of Brian Q. Bland. It’s harder still to talk to Jeb “Dagger” McDangers (they say he once killed a bare with his bear hands — perhaps he’s a druid) without sniggering. It seems to me that Glorwynn’s post could go a long way towards helping someone get it right.

    So last thursday I was able to join my first raid since… a long time ago, it feels like. I was healing (!) as we had a slightly odd mix of people available, so as a nice gentle introduction we went to Baradin Hold for the first fight.

    The second fight was Cho’gall. *whimper*6 Does anyone else think this makes our raid leader a meanie?

    After 90 minutes, we seemed to have hit a wall in terms of improvement so toddled over to Blackwing to quickly kill the first couple of bosses; a cheerful end to the evening.

    Next on the to-do list: the troll dungeons — I did most of one of them before I left but haven’t had a chance to go back, and now I’m all nervy about going in clueless. *whine*

    --
    1. to mangle a popular phrase []
    2. I must have followed a recommendation from something; it’s not something I would have sought out. I’m glad I did though. []
    3. handily, I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to be smart on mb.com []
    4. that’s the impression I get at least []
    5. it made me go back and read her blog from the beginning, an activity I’d highly recommend if you find yourself with a little free time []
    6. a disadvantage of my not having played for a while, and not being a main spec healer, was that it was hard to know exactly how badly I was doing during the Cho’gall encounter. Wiping to tank death on pretty much every attempt probably offers a hint or tw, mind. Certainly, the difference in stress level between the Cho’gall fight and the Golem council fight (which is reasonably complex from a moving-and-mechanics point of view) was very noticeable. []

    Nice group, shame about the pally


    2011 - 03.24

    As you might have spotted from my smug “ostensibly WoW-related but really just bragging ‘cos I’m drinking beer in Munich” post, I was away last week. Rrecently, we’ve had some problems getting our raids off the ground — people unavailable because of work, people on holiday, people with social engagements which don’t involve internet dragons can leave you without the essential components — so when I signed up for Monday’s raid I was hopeful but not certain that anything would happen.

    Thankfully, we were able to field a full team, so off we went to BWD where we two-shot Magmaw, and followed that up with a one-shot of the golem boys. Admittedly, it did take us a five or six goes before Maloriak fell over, which I’m prepared to blame on a seemingly phantom interrupter intervening on the first “release aberrations” cast (a distraction, I’m sure you’ll agree) but we got him down and decided to take a raid break. And then decided that, rather than bang our heads on Atramades, we’d go take a first look at Halfass Windbreaker.

    The add package for this week on the EU realms is Storm Rider, Time Warden and Whelps — seemingly a high-raid-damage combination. So, we had four or five attempts, most of which resulted in us dying to AoE/standing in bad and the occasional CD-crit-crit-threat-dead sequence, and resolved to come back the following night if we could. Handily although one of our signups was unavoidably detained at work, we happened to have a replacement online and after a bit of a delay for some jewelcrafting and enchanting, we went back to the Bastion. Where we oneshot Halfass. And then, after a 15 minute “strategy break”1, we killed the dragon twins on the 6th attempt.

    Sounds good, eh? It was. There was even a reasonable amount of useful loot on both days.

    There’s just one tiny fly in my ointment, one little beetle crawling in my salad. I wasn’t playing well, and even before I looked at my recount window, I could feel something was off. I could feel something was off, but I couldn’t figure out *what*, or how to fix it. So as a raid team, we did pretty well, but as a raidER, I *didn’t*. In a weird way, it reminded me of being a kid.

    Back in my early teens, I used to play a fair bit of football — for the school, for a 7-a-side team, then for a 11-a-side team. The 7-a-side team did pretty well; we won our little league a couple of times and had a lot of fun. When we scaled up to 11-a-side, we did less well, but in a weird way, that didn’t especially bother me. As long as I came off the pitch thinking “well I played ok, and we didn’t lose because of something I did/didn’t do”, I was fine. Well, not fine, I wanted to win games, but I’d have all but forgotten about it by the time I got home for a bath. If I hadn’t played well though, I’d be grumpy.

    Same principle applies to WoW, it seems. So even though we were downing bosses and it was a couple of days ago, I’m *still* irritated with myself. My suspicion is that I was tired and not concentrating properly, as I did ok on the fights where I could just stand there and push buttons2, but I’ll have to take a look at the logs later to check *grumble*.

    I don’t know — is it weird to have your pleasure at the success of the raid be overshadowed by your frustration with your own performance?

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Always label your macros

    I have a guidie who’s a bit of an achievement queen. You name it, she’s probably got it. She (along with her boyfriend) are responsible for our guild having the 55 exalted reputations achievement, for example, and the “We are legendary” achievement too. Anyway, one Saturday3 she was doing some achievement hunting and my chatbox was forever popping up notifications of her latest new shiny. Eventually I made a macro and dropped it on my bars, which output “ROBOT SAYS: Well done Anka” to guild chat on a mouseclick. Click click clicketty.

    Fast-forward to the golem council fight in BWD on Monday. I’m assigned to be the second interrupter on Arcanotron, so I need to be able to turn off my autoattack when the shield goes up. Time for a /stopattack macro, methinks. Stick it on the bars, and I can click it once the shield is up then just follow the big stone fella around interrupting things without a problem. Unfortunately, thanks to sheer laziness I didn’t give either macro a unique icon, so they’re both just question marks (mysterious buttons, you might say). Surely enough, during Monday’s fight with the Tron council, I managed to click the wrong button, miss an interrupt and instead fire off my “GRATS” macro by mistake. No big deal, we didn’t wipe…

    Tuesday’s raid: while a couple of guildies are doing the jewelcrafting and enchanting for our stepped-in-at-the-last-minuate-WOOHOO-we-can-haz-raid-after-all! priest, I’m blethering away on vent, telling the story of stupidly pressing the wrong button.

    “Oh.” says the raidleader. “You know, I think Anka might have been dead at that point.”

    “Oh, bollocks” says I4

    Cue a quick PM to explain myself and much sniggering from the raid, unsympathetic buggers that they are.

     

    --
    1. that’s ‘Shit, we didn’t think we’d get this so quickly. Everybody tab out and read the strat on Wowhead/Wowpedia’ []
    2. vs being pretty useless on the movement fights []
    3. I think, it was ages ago []
    4. because I’m classy like that []

    Cheap-ass Paladin: Enchants


    2011 - 01.26

    Update 22 Feb 2011: This post seems to still grab the odd hit so it’s probably worth pointing out that, thanks to the devaluation of haste and the promotion of mastery/crit, you should be keeping that in mind when choosing your enchantments for retribution. The mastery boot enchant might well be worth a look now, and the mastery wrist enchant will be better than the haste equivalent (but both will be beaten by the new strength enchantment, if you can find it).

    So Ano has reached the point where I really can’t find any more excuses for why I haven’t enchanted his gear. There’s enough 333 and 346 ilevel gear in both his ret and holy sets to be worth it. We’re running heroics. Centrella is (relatively) awash in Hypnotic Dust, and not too badly off for Celestial Essences.

    Then I looked at the cost of Maelstrom Crystals, needed for the top-end enchants. Ouchie. On my server, they go for ~3000 gold each. I’m not paying *that* for anything that isn’t purple, ta1.

    So I had a bit of a google, and didn’t quickly find any second-best-in-slot lists for enchanting. As I was too lazy to keep searching (ret paladin, remember) I thought I’d just suck it and see. I ended up with the enchants in the table below, which excludes the head & shoulder enchants as they’re pretty straightforward — you buy the one you have sufficient rep for.

    Ret Holy
    Boots Greater Assault is a Wrath enchant, but EJ reckon it’s currently better than haste or mastery. Woo for using up old mats! Haste, as Lavawalker uses a Maelstrom Crystal.
    Wrists I’m a leatherworker, so I went with a draconic embossment for strength but otherwise I’d have gone for Greater Assault, the +AP wrath enchant. Once again the fine brains at EJ says it’s better than haste or mastery, and you can pick up the bits for pennies if your guild bank/friendly enchanter doesn’t have spares. I’m a leatherworker, so I went with a draconic embossment (int) but otherwise I’d have gone for Speed, or maybe Spirit if I was feeling expansive)
    Hands +35 strength is a LOT cheaper than +50 str (2 MCs!) I went with +50 haste rather than the +65 mastery, which is expensive and arguable not as useful, currently.
    Back (cloak) +50 crit is fairly cheap, lots cheaper than the +65. +50 int isn’t the cheapest, but I had a 346 cloak.
    Offhand n/a +100 Int. The old shield enchant (+25 int) doesn’t really compare. Of course, when the Cata enchant is nerfed to +40 int, then it’ll might be worth considering if you’re short of funds and have access to old mats.
    Weapon Avalanche isn’t that cheap, but I have a shiny 346 axe. Landslide, the top DPS enchant, requires a currently-outrageous 5 maelstrom crystals (plus another five to buy the recipe!) I probably should have gone with Heartsong, but I was running low on celestial essences so I went with the old wrath +50 spellpower enchant. The money-no-object option is Power Torrent. I can’t say I’d describe myself as a lifestyle healer, but I think I’d prefer a static buff to an uncontrollable proc, if there was a Cataclysmic option.
    Legs As a leatherworker, Ano can use the great value Dragonbone Leg Reinforcements. Failing that, I’d probably have cheaped out and gone for Scorched Leg Armour rather than the Dragonscale Leg Armour. A choice between Ghostly Spellthread and Powerful Ghostly Spellthread. For now, I choose the cheaper version as Cent is hoarding dreamcloth for epics, but it’s not frighteningly expensive to acquire if you have access to a tailor.
    Chest Mighty stats all the way. The extra +5 all stats  for Peerless Stats isn’t worth the cost to me at this point. Mighty stats all the way. The extra +5 all stats  for Peerless Stats isn’t worth the cost to me at this point.

    So what did I miss out on?

    By my calculations, my ret set is down 20 str, 20crit, 5 of each other stat, plus the DPS difference between Avalance and Landslide — ~220dps, according to EJ. If I’d blindly picked the “best” Cataclysm enchants, I’d have used 16 maelstrom crystals, currently worth ~48,000g on my server. Excluding the cost of buying the Landslide recipe for Cent (another 15,000g).

    My holy set is a little more complicated. The haste boot enchant is better than Lavawalker from a pure stats point of view (currently) but the run speed boost might be handy. The cheaper hand enchant is probably better for throughput. Heartsong is probably very useful from a regen point of view; Power Torrent’s unpredictable healing  (or regen) boost might be great, but it might also happen at awkward times. So the direct reductions are the difference between the two spellthreads (40 int, 10 crit) plus the +5 all stats loss by using mighty stats. Going crazy for the expensive enchants would have cost another 10 Maelstrom crystals (another 30,000g), plus another 15,000g for the Power Torrent recipe.

    Total gold saved: 108,000.

    Whoa.

    --
    1. Actually, it’d have to be an especially pretty purple with a charming personality and elderly rich relatives. []

    A blogging cataclysm


    2010 - 12.20

    I’m having quite a lot of fun questing through the new zones — Ano did Vashjir for openers (the giant dying creatures made me sad) followed by Deepholm and then went to Uldum. Thanks to running a few normal instances with guildies, he hit 85 last night just before the battle for Nefernet City. And yes, every time I’ve seen “Neferset” I’ve mentally substituted “Nefernet”. Well, it kept *me* entertained. Cent, sneaky little so-and-so that she is, claimed that she needed priority as “enchanting was more useful to the guild”, and bullied me into playing her to 85 a few days back1. I took her to to Hyjal first, which I think is probably a faster zone to level in. No z-axis confusion and lots of familiar-looking mobs = easy movement from quest to quest. She then had fun in Deepholm, found a frustrating clipping bug on the airship (it’s easy to clip through the wall of the captain’s cabin when mounted and get stuck under the stairs — jump *through* the stairs to escape), and after Uldum did a few quests in Twilight Highlands before hitting 85. I found arcane to be an excellent levelling spec; whilst dealing with multiple mobs can be tricky and require the use of escape abilities like invisibility, the slowing effect of arcane blast means that regular quest mobs rarely get close enough to inflict any damage, and burst output is high enough to deal with most “boss” quest mobs quickly and easily tool.

    One thing which has been a little strange is the rise and fall of damage output — going up with gear upgrades only to drop after each new level as the point-to-percentage ratios for haste, crit and (especially, it seems) hit change. Whilst it doesn’t matter *what* damage you do provided your quest mob dies before you do, the occasional glance at recount has made for interesting viewing.

    Outside the game, my blogroll has been “interesting” over the past couple of weeks. It feels like a huge chunk of the community are now focused on producing and re-producing pre-dungeon/pre-heroic/pre-raid/best-in-slot gear lists for <class>/<spec>/<critter>. I don’t doubt for a second that, in a few weeks’ time, I’ll be happily and thankfully making use of the various lists to find out where I need to go/which faction I need to charm in order to replace the last few persistent quest greens, and when I do, I’ll be massively glad that someone took the time to pull the information together so I didn’t have to. I’ve got to say though — they don’t make particularly interesting reading during my lunchbreak.

    Perhaps I’m warped or something, but I really *liked* all the weird and wonderful posts and conversations which took place quite possibly because all of the useful things that could be said about ICC had already been said a thousand times. I loved the odd things people posted about (check out archives from the blogs listed in Near and Dear section of my blogroll for fine examples) and the millions of ways people found to amuse themselves at the end of the expansion. Loot lists are great, but they’re a bit like your DSL router. Hugely useful (perhaps even essential), the product of time and skill, but ultimately not something you’d chat about in the pub.

    Anyway, I’ve got two characters at 85 and I’m finding myself a little torn. Normal 5-mans with guildies have been great fun. I’ve only done one “random” run (with two other guildies); the first two tanks were still largely following the wrath “grab the room” playstyle, with not-always-successful results but it was ultimately successful and we had a good old chatter in /p. So dungeon running to gear up and questing for cash and rep is going to be great. But there are so many other things to do…

    Tremble is halfway through 80, with XP gained purely from mining/herbing (and killing the occasional mob standing on a herb or node). I’m going to take him to Uldum to continue mining and herbing, to feed our blacksmiths with ore and possibly to sell/save for Grammy. I *do* want to level him as I want to start tanking on him again before I forget the two or three things I learned; I’m still a bit scared though. I was a ‘nub’ tank in Wrath dungeons I knew well and which were ‘faceroll’. Lord knows what I’ll be like in the Cataclysm ones. Must find guildie alts who will be nice to me when I get them killed.

    Grammy is level 66, and I feel oddly motivated to level her through Northrend. Partly that’s because she’s my engineer/alchemist, and I want her to be able to level to 525. But also, I was having *lots* of fun playing her before the Cataclysm launch. Affliction questing is fun (even after the nerfs).

    I also have a some new worgen lowbies — a feral druid who’ll pick up a resto offspec at 30 and a warrior, who I rolled mostly because male worgen are stupidly hypertrophic and I thought it’d be a fun look. Unfortunately, warriors get charge practically from birth these days (level 3? 5?) and mobility is fun. No! Must leave the lowbies for later.

    It’s a good problem to have, but there’s too much potential fun, and not enough fun-time in the day. WTB winning lottery ticket please!

    --
    1. I’m also increasingly worried by how much of an distinct personality she’s becoming. If she was any more independent, I’d have to give her a posting account on MB! []