Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How To: Retribution

How To: Retribution

OK, this isn't actually a guide on how to play retribution as there's some guides out there that totally blow away anything I could write up. Instead I'll just link to those guides and provide some useful info that ISN'T in those guides. To start, you simply can't beat the Elitist Jerks forum for any class questions, and specifically the Retribution Concordance (currently updated for 4.2 at time of writing). All the information for how to play, what to spec, and what stats are best and worst for you are here, definitely worth the read.

Now, even with awesome guides like that I've seen a lot (and I mean a LOT!) of people complain that retribution is hard to play and they suck at it. Every time i see this, my first thought isn't that it's difficult to play or that they're bad players, but simply the information you need to properly play is scattered to the 4 corners of the screen. Quite literally! Your abilities are all along the bottom and sides of your screen, your holy power is in the upper left, and the inquisition buff is hidden with the rest of your buff in the upper right. Default blizzard UI = crappy ret pally. Even me, I SUCKED the few times I tried to play on a friend's computer. So what to do? First things first, read up on your class above. Next, grab yourself some addons buddy!

With that understanding of WHAT to do, the clincher to playing ret is WHEN to do it. When do you Templar's Verdict vs use Inquisition is the biggest one. Ideally, you have Inquisition up 100% of a boss fight. But that's not always possible, and it's hard to track effectively. There's 2 ways to get around this. CLCret is a good starter addon. It tells you what ability to use next for maximum single-target dps. It doesn't actually use the abilities for you, just tells you the ideal one to use next. It's very helpful, but I suggest only using it long enough to get a feel for when you should be using abilities, I don't like being constantly told what to do. It feels like the addon is playing for me, instead of telling me information and me making those decisions. But, the very beginner can stop reading this guide right now, it'll still be here when you come back.

For the real meat of it, you need brace yourselves for some ugly. This is my (extremely cluttered) UI with all my addons running. Brace yourself...

Pretty bad, I know. You can see I'm in the middle of a Hex Lord Malacrass fight in a random Zul'Aman 5 man group, and I've just popped all my major dps CDs. Well, you could see that if you could make heads or tails of the info on my screen, so lets break it down.
There's a lot of addons I didn't highlight, mostly because they're not at all necessary. Heck, even the ones I highlighted aren't all necessary, just useful. Again, it looks really cluttered (and it is) but that's how I like my info, everything available at just a glance. You'll notice a lot of it is redundant as well, You don't need player and enemy healthbars in the middle of the screen when they're at the top too, and you don't need party frames at all with a healing mod like healbot. You could very easily take a few of these away and still have all the info at your fingertips, but a lot less to look at on screen, this is just a personal preference that I can have stuff in different areas. However, there are some important bits that I would suggest to every single ret pally, a few key points.

First and foremost, despite the clutter you'll notice all my essential, important info front and center highlighted in pink, blue and red. My health and mana bars are to the left of my character, but more importantly my Holy Power is right underneath my feet, so I can watch it while making sure to not stand in Bad Stuff. Right below Holy Power is my major buff timers for Inquisition and my DPS cooldowns, and below that at the bottom of my screen is all my abilities clumped into one nice big cluster, so I'm not searching the 4 corners of my screen for abilities. Everything I really need to watch is right there in the center of the screen, near my character so I can watch positioning. These are the essentials you need to play ret effectively, the rest is just stuff i like to be able to see at a glance, in my periphery.

Essential Addons:

iceHUD for one major reason: the holy power. The health bars are nice, but it's the holy power (and runes on my DK) that i care about. X-Perl can do the same thing if you want a party frames addon but not the health bars, and there's other addons out there as well, but again what is important is moving Holy Power being somewhere so obvious you know how much you  have at at all times. Ret uses a priority rotation and the biggest deciding factor in that priority is how much holy Power you have. It determines everything, when you refresh inquisition, when you can TV, when you should pop zealotry, when you should skip CS at times. Everything. Holy Power tracking is key to this, so make it obvious.

TellMeWhen is an amazing, highly customizable addon for any class. In this case it's used to track Inquisition (as well as a few other things). It gets set up right below Holy Power because upkeeping that buff is incredibly important. TMW is very similar to Power Auras and is pretty much completely interchangeable. The main difference is TMW shows an ability icon with optional timers  instead of a glowing symbol. Either addon will do the same thing, but I prefer TMW by far. Use it to track buffs/debuffs/procs/status effects you want, or to track when multiple buffs line up, or any number of stuff. For tracking Inquisition I have it set to show a timer and it glows big and red and angry if it's not up, but is hidden outside of combat. In the screenshot above you can see I also have it show my durations on Avenging Wrath, Guardian of Ancient kings, and Zealotry (which should all be used together for max effect) so I can see at a glance how long I have left for burn phases. Ret is very dependant on these CDs and mismanaging my abilities while they're up, activating them at the wrong time or even just poor luck with procs can have a HUGE impact on DPS.

Dominos action bar addon. This barely made the essential list, but again it puts info you need (your abilities) front and center, and keeps you from having to look around and move your mouse across your entire screen. Abilities I have hotkeyed are on the bottom, abilities I click the most are at the top, and rarely used abilities are in the middle. Bartender4 is another addon that does the exact same thing with one exception: profiles. Bartender requires a custom setup per character, Dominos will save button positions to a profile set that any character can then load. Amazingly important when you have alts (and boy do I have alts!)

Deadly Boss Mods. Do I really have to say why? It tells you when important things are happening during encounters. If you don't use it, you're not going to be as effective in fights. Period.

Suggested addons:
X-Perl Unit Frames and other unit frame addons are awesome. Not QUITE as necessary now that the default raid frames are pretty nice, but X-Perl displays some very useful info. Most importantly, you'll notice the Boss frame has a few large debuffs next to all the smaller ones. Those are mine. Not as important for ret pallies as other classes, but it means I don't need to use any kind of DoT timers on my DK or hunter. Another great thing is it shows target of target for every party member so I can see what people are attacking. Lots of other info like curable debuffs can be shown, or when members are out of range etc, but mostly it's a DoT timer with extra info is why I like it.

Omen and Recount. Omen is mostly for tanking actually, the built in threat meter is ok for DPSing. Recount is almost essential though. Not for linking meters to stroke your Epeen, mind you, but as a measure for how you're doing. I always run it, and I'm always comparing how I'm doing to how I've done on fights in the past. It's a great tool for self-improvement and for figuring out where you or others might be making mistakes. Just don't abuse it.

Healbot. Or Grid+Clique, or VuhDu. These addons could easily completely replace your raid/party frames if you want, clearing up screen real estate. "But," I hear you say, "You're a RET paladin! you DAMAGE stuff, you don't need a healing addon!". ORLY? Healing addons are awesome for ret, for a few reasons. They let you throw out easy Word of Glories and Lay on Hands without target swapping (which can take precious seconds) . They track curable debuffs so you can cleanse with a click. You can set them up to use your Hand abilities with a simple click of the mouse without having to target the player then click the ability that you probably don't have hotkeyed. What's that? Adds wreaking havoc and the healer has aggro? *click* -Hand of Protection- *keep DPSing like you didn't just totally save the day*. Escorting the flag carrier in WSG? *click* -Hand of Freedom- keep killing stuff like a boss. Very useful.

Setting up Tell Me When:
TMW setup is definitely NOT intuitive. There's some good youtube guides out there, but here's a quick and dirty one for setting up inquisition. Start by typing /tmw, and right-click on any of the empty buttons to set up an icon.

Enable the icon with the checkbox and use the dropdown list to select Buff/Debuff

Typing the name of the ability in the command line. Most are preloaded into TMW and you can select it at the pane on right. 

Most of the options here we don't care about, but make sure you click the Buff checkbox, and show a timer for it, and always show so it,  that way it turns red and angry if you let it fall off. The icon is now set up to display, but it'll show at all times, which can get annoying, so we'll set it to only show during combat.

Click the Conditions tab at the bottom, add a condition with the green plus sign. From the dropdown menu mouseover Unit Conditions and select Unit in Combat

Move the icons wherever you want them on the screen. You'll notice there's a bazillion other options and settings for the addon, so play around with it if you want. Type /TMW again to lock everything in place. Now you're ready for a fight!

Hrm, you'll notice in that screenshot that the enemy nameplates are not default either. Yes! another mod! Threat Plates is an addon for an addon (modception? better go deeper). You'll need Tidy Plates to use Threat Plates, but both are pretty lightweight. As you see above the nameplates are big and red and have those "PAY ATTENTION TO ME" dags like store sale signs or batman "POW!" "ZIF!" "BAM!" effects. That's because I'm dps and stuff is attacking me! Now, if i were a tank, the plates would be happy and green and calm, like so:

Now the addon thinks I'm a tank, and tanks should have aggro so the plates are calm ang green, everything's right with the world. If i start to lose aggro (or gain it as DPS) the plates get bigger and yellow, then red and angry if I fully lose/gain aggro. It determines this based on the aura, or you could tell it to ignore auras and use your current spec. Good addon for DPS, absolutely AWESOME addon for tanking since you can tell at a glance exactly what mobs have your undivided attention and which need to be taunted.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

Well, Blizzcon is over and blizzard has officially announced MoP the next world of warcraft expansion. I'm still deciding if I simply don't care, or if I'm actively upset about that. That's kinda sad that I can't even really tell, isn't it? I mean, a whole new expansion, a whole new race, a whole new class, tons of new features and ways to play, that should be a good thing, right? I should be totally stoked right? Right? But everything just seems so damned silly... I love wow, I'm a big enough man to admit my true feelings. I love the story, the history, the characters. I love how fleshed out it is. I was gonna say how real, but that's not at all true. Perhaps how real it is to itself. That's not entirely true either, but I'll go with it.

I'm not an RPer, I've tried a few times, and I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons over the years, but I just can't pretend to be a character. What I like doing, however, is experiencing a story as a character, to use that character as a medium to tell a story even if I'm the only audience. I like to think of my characters as existing within their fictional worlds, as having an impact upon those worlds and upon the fictional people around them. They are toys to play out the scenarios in my head, since I'm a poor artist and a worse author. Ideally I would create my own comics or cartoons, if I had the skill, but I will settle for these digital avatars.

What does this have to do with Mists of Pandaria? Oh, only just everything. If the game becomes too silly, thee it becomes a joke and not a story. It loses credibility as a setting and loses meaning. It becomes something to see instead of something worth experiencing. How many comedies are good cinema? They're fun, as a quick escape for 90 minutes, but they generally don't hold up well over time. I feel the same thing is happening to wow. Blizzard realized people loved the little jokes here and there, the sly winks in the quest text, the little pop culture reference here and there. Blizzard slipped it in to bring some levity to an otherwise solemn occasion, and it worked oh so well. But they went overboard in cataclysm. Goblins are ridiculously over the top, an entire zone devoted to a bad Indiana Jones joke, quests that go beyond a wink and a nudge and full on bring you out of the game and into our own world. I hope it doesn't turn out this way, but I see what came before and i see where it's going, and I can only hope that I'll be surprised to find my fears unfounded. Unfortunately, I think my fears are WELL founded, and I feel the game suffers for it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September update

Well, I'm playing again with renewed fervor, almost entirely due to the announced transmogrification. Spent the last few days leveling the priest I originally made in BC and never got to level cap, just so she could go back and get her T6 (already got 4 pieces now! woo!).

After seeing an article on WoW Insider about a classic raiding guild, I made Eirik, a human paladin twink, and got him up to 60 over on Draka, only to realize there really isn't anything left to do at 60, it's all been removed and "updated" for other levels. Half the raids are gone, many of the old level cap dungeons are now leveling dungeons. And unlike my 70 twink, turning off XP puts you into the different twink-only battlegrounds, which never pop. There is a grand total of 4 old world dungeons left to do at 60 now, whereas a 70 has all the heroics available, and a total of 4 raids left. The classic raiding guild is hardcore too, 4 nights a week and full DKP system in place, might be a little too much for a fun side-project, they expect this to be a dedicated main.

Been running lots of old raids on all my characters lately, which is AWESOME! Almost got Rhelyk his ICC achievement drake, finished Khael's T1, odds and ends on other characters too.

And of course Elladrion, who has now defeated firelands...sort of. He's now 7/7 normal modes, but since you don't freaking kill ragnaros that means almost nothing beyond a simple number higher than 6/7. Might be different if a Sulfuras had dropped, he's still rocking Shulag off of Cho'gall. Got his 4 piece at least so I don't have to look at those godawful troll shoulders anymore. Here's hoping 4.3 drops soon, so he can start rocking his old sets!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I updated. I totally did! You just missed it is all.

So yeah, 2 months without a post. That's how to do it. Been doing a lot in game and out, brand new patch, brand new alts. My main scource of entertainment has been my 70 twink Alaerion on Stonemaul. Horde side of course. Belf paladin of course. He has single handedly reinvigorated the entire game for me. All that's old is new again.

Seriously, I have had a blast with my 70 prot paladin, running old dungeons. Gaining old reputations. Gearing took a day of dedicated battlegrunds and I'm in full brutal gladiator gear, pulling around 2500 dps as the tank! Dungeons are quick and easy but deadly if I pull too much, just like they should be. I can hold aggro again on groups, what a novelty!  And my heals actually land for quite a bit, even if they suck my mana bar dry (as opposed to 85, where they just suck my mana bar dry to little effect)

PvP is amazingly fun. Players die fast and a single heal can completely reset a 1v1 fight, so little mistakes can have huge consequences. It's fast and brutal the way it should be. Disc priests and resto druids are once again the utter bane of my existence, I have tried many many times and unless they really suck I cannot kill them. Everything has changed and yet nothing has changed.

Elladrion is now 6/7 normal modes down (and I even tanked most of em this week, YAY ME!). That would mean more if 7/7 meant you killed something. Instead, 7/7 means "Thank you, but you're princess is in another castle". 7/7 means nothing. 7/7 means less than 5/12 did in 4.0. Hell, it means less than 2/12 did last tier as that might have meant you killed (actually killed, not drove back) an elemental lord. How disheartening is that? Firelands is full of PITA fights that don't mean jack shit becuase you aren't actually fighting ragnaros unless it is heroic dificulty. It's like doing ICC but blizzard logging into your character during the final cutscene and typing "fuck you until you do it on heroic, you noob!" then releasing control back to you just in time to see arthas flip you the bird. It's just...empty. Rediculously, demoralizingly, utterly empty.

And that is SO sad, becuase Majordomo Staghelm is the most fun I've had on a fight in YEARS. Like, hands down my favorite fight this entire expansion, possibly last expansion too. Majordomo is more fun than all of the rest of T11 and T12 put together. It's HARD, especially on the healers, but man o MAN once you get it down it rocks. It's a fight where everyone has to be on the ball and paying attention the entire time, but it's still a BOSS fight and not a jump through hoops fight.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Defender of a Shattered World

Elladrion: 1, Nefarion 0. Well, okay more like Nefarion 9. Plus the other nights we fought him. Still, he's dead, and I've killed every fight in cata on normal, happy days. Most of our raid team got their titles on monday, but I was an alternate so I had to wait, which is fine. Except that we killed him less than an hour into raid night. Off to knock out 25man sartharion 3D for the mount, and then some rated BGs.

Now, you would THINK that a group that raids together every week would work pretty well together in such content. You'd be wrong tho. You'd be dead wrong in fact. First BG was arathi basin, and we started out pretty weak with only stables and GM (we were alliance for the match), and just couldn't get a 3rd base. We'd hit somewhere, and they'd have reinforcements before we could cap. Finally we decided to use a feint, 2 of us went for LM and sure enough the reinforcements came and stomped us out good. But that left our real teams to go for BS and farm, and they just couldn't respond to a 3 front attack. We got BS and managed to keep all 3 until the very end. We started slowly losing nodes, but it was far too late by then. Score! we won a rated BG! On the first try!

Yeah, that didn't last so long. Twin Peaks twice in a row, horrible horrible losses both. No real plan, no real coordination. Just terrible. And made all the worse because the first was against another guild on our server, and the next was against the AB group. Still, I'd love to do some more, some of the funnest times in all of wow were the X-realm AV groups that just set up over vent and ran 24/7.

Now THOSE were some fun times! If you weren't lucky enough to be a part of it, it happened on Rampage battlegroup in late BC. A guild decided to do cross-realm pugs and had a HUGE 200 man vent server, forums, denoted raid leaders. Basically all you did was join their vent server, wait for a 40 man channel to get an open slot, and then queueing was coordinated over vent. It worked WAY better than AV enabler addon did, leader just counted down and everyone queued at the same time. A battleground would pop, anyone that didn't get that specific one would drop and requeue for that specific one (this was back when you could queue for specific instanced battlegrounds, like AV6 or WSG 8). Once inside, everything was by groups, so it didn't matter what group you got in the leader would hit their strategy macro. Went something like groups 1-4 kill Balinda then recap towers, group 5 take SHB, group 6 take IWB, group 7 and 8 take stormpike GY and all stealther no matter what group would take north/south bunker. Once everything burned you'd hit vann and boom! Easy honor in 11 minutes.  And because it was across all realms on the battlegroup it didn't look like a preform, it just looked like you got magically steamrolled!

Of course, the alliance caught on and tried doing their own preforms with the same strategy, and occasionally you'd meet and THOSE were some fun times! I remember one in particular. I can't remember the leader's name, but I remember him being kinda controversial because he would berate people for messing up and yell at people in vent, and just not generally a nice person. But he got stuff done, I loved him. And this particular time we went up against another preform, and I'll never forget the way he said "Fuck your fast honor, we're winning this. I DO NOT LOSE TO PREMADES!" Virtually everyone was in full agreement, and by god it took us 49 grueling minutes of back and forth tower capping, bunker capping, GY capping, recapping, re-recapping, trinketing back to base and recapping, all of it on the fly, all of it called out by this guy. IT. WAS. AMAZING!

So yeah, I'm thinking <Insomnia> needs one of these guys, a strong voice that knows his shit and calls it out, and people do exactly that. In raids, it's Vadz, and he's good at it. But he doesn't pvp, and certainly doesn't know the best strategies. I hope we keep this up, this was fun.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Al'Akir down, and all is right with the world

Well, nobody I know has disappeared yet, but then I have some pretty terrible friends so maybe the rapture has INDEED happened and we're all just left behind to rot. Even better, <Insomnia> is now 11/12 normal modes!

Took us 30 attempts, including quite a few wipes early on when the main tank was learning how to NOT get knocked off the platform, and for some reason phase 3 was just absolutely a nightmare for us. Nobody was grouping up, people were going up/down too far or not enough, adds were still killing people. We were pretty consistently getting him around 10%, but it just didn't seam to be getting any better. Didn't help that probably 1/3rd of those attempts we had a PUG dps since our warlock had something come up. First mage was pretty bad, only doing 8k dps and he left after 5 wipes or so. Replaced him with a shadowpriest PUG that one attempt did 6700, his highest of the 5+ attempts. But it was that or 9 man it.

Finally our 2nd warlock Pahn came back and magically, everything just clicked for phase 3. Nobody was panicking, everyone was staying close enough for heals but spread enough for lightnings, nobody was moving too far down from the clouds or dieing from them. We finished with only 3 dead, as you can see from the screenie, but man oh man did it just feel smooth that last attempt.

It's amazing the difference between when we started and when we finally downed him 4.5 hours later. All the tornadoes that nobody could dodge were 2nd nature, controlled killing of the adds went form hectic to handled, and most importantly for myself I got phase 3 down. 3D fights have ALWAYS messed me up, World of Warcraft is a poor format for them, and I was absolutely lost for most of the attempts. Couldn't see the clouds, was messing up my rotation, generally was the first one to die from stupidity. It's a good feeling when you have it down and execute it right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby druid shenannigans

This is Arna, my latest alt. I need professional help, I know, but it's so much more expensive than $15 a month! Still, just been a blast leveling her. She was originally gonna be a male druid, but I really can't stand the male tauren models. I want to, I really do! They're freaking MINOTAURS after all! But...well...the hump...blech.

She started the night at level 6, so you can tell how much I enjoyed playing her. Surprising, considering how much I despised playing a rogue. Poor Nelethiel, she'll never level beyond 60, and only exists to get junkboxes for Elladrion's Ravenholdt rep, which she did. Worst 60 levels I've ever trundled through, with the exception of 30~40 when you could literally 2-shot mobs from stealth. Of course they nerfed that, but it was SOOOO fun while it lasted. Otherwise, I hate rogues mechanically. I love their stylings, their theme was quite fun, but their combat system is just not my thang.

So surprise surprise, feral druid is a BLAST. Mostly been bear-tanking those last 12 levels, I love it. Can't wait for feral charge. I think it's the clearcasting that makes the difference, and the fact that you're not screwed if you don't open up from stealth. I can actually go toe-to-toe with mobs, unlike the rogue, and I still get all the perks of stealth. I had actually planned on being mostly resto, but I think I may stay beartank assuming I stay interested all the way to 85. We'll see, the thought of the 80~85 zones a 10th time makes my stomach turn, at least he lowbie cataclysm stuff I've only seen once.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lag monster rears it's ugly head

Since we had attendace issues we only raided 1 night this week (see last post about me tanking), but we wanted to kill cho'gall to get some more shoulder tokens floating around. Shoulda been nice and easy after last weeks 2-shot, right? So, so wrong. Oh gods, the horror. First our rogue DCs while group is forming, his router died. So we bring in some people that haven't seen the fight or are really geared for it yet. The real problem is that 2 of the people use the same connection, and for some reason this week they get huge lag every time the adds spawn, which is perfect becuase they're the main ranged aoe dps.

Even so, we hit phase 2 every single time, even the time the MT DCed at 30%, but the last wave of adds are always messy. We were so close some attempts too, including a truly disheartening attempt where we died at .7% /sigh. 200k more damage and we woulda been done. As it is, we jus spent 3 hours geting facesmashed by tentacles and oozes, between a few low geared players and the laggy hunters we just didn't have the dps on them that was needed. The first cho'gall kill may not have meant much to me, but now I just want to bathe in his blood and scream at his stupid corpse.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tankadin HOOOOO!

Tried to post the other day but blogger was down /sadface. Busy week of wow, mostly pugging ZA/ZG on alts. Some good groups, many so-so, quite a few downright painful runs including the huntard of huntards. My warrior just has the WORST luck with groups. I'm just gonna leave this here, for you're perusal.

Yeah. At least he FINALLY got one of the 2-handers off of Jin'do.

Anyways, in even bigger World of Warcraft news I did 5/6 Blackwing Descent a second time and 3/4 Bastion of Twilight for a 3rd, but this time I was tanking! Go me! First time I've really raid tanked since 3.1, and most of the fights I was still quite unsure on, but I definitely learned them FAR better this time than I did following Crowing around (our resident guild rogue), like I had been doing. And best of all, I only caused 3 wipes all night, and only 1 of those was completely my fault! So, yeah, I got that going for me.Even better, I actually got some real upgrades this time around!

Vial of Stolen Memories for my tank set, and even better, Crushing Weight for my dps set. I had really been debating getting the Valor trinket or waiting to next week and replacing my crafted dps chest with a 3rd tier piece in case I get a shoulder token, and I was really leaning towards the trinket. Gotta love it when tough choices get made for you in a way that is completely win-win!

I had a 3rd thing to talk about, but thought escapes me so it mustn't have been terribly important.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Return of the Space Clown edition

I thought World of Warcraft ditched the whole space clown stuff when we left Burning Crusade? Terathis, baby, you need to color coordinate a bit better than that. As a side note, thats why I wear plain T-shirts with no logos IRL, that poor poor Ramkahen symbol looks so sad :(

Been playing a lot of the new 5 mans, loving the new seven in a row thing, although usually I can't stand more than 2 or 3 without a break. Perfectly suits me where I tend to focus on one character for a while at a time and bounce around between whatever alt catches my interest for a few days, more or less ignoring the rest. Love it love it love it.

Eagle boss in ZA is REDICULOUS after whatever hotfix happened the other night, so many of my pugs have been eaten by that boss. There's just simply WAY more damage being thrown out in that fight than there should be, there's no way its Working as Intended(tm).

Jin'do in ZG is almost as bad, for differant reasons. I finally broke down and made a few macros to explain the fights, I was so tired of typing it out every time, then again when people would invariably drop and get replaced. Can't wait for the Warcraft populace to just KNOW the fight, and not have to wipe 10 times before the group finally figured out how to do it properly. Also, I hate being "that guy" that keeps telling you where you're messing up, and I've had to be "that guy" way too much recently. I've tried to keep the name-calling to a minimum at least, so I got that going for me.

I feel like that fight has 1 too many things going on, and the removal of any one single aspect would change it from frustrating and you gotta do it right to fun (but you gotta do it right). I'm thinking either the chains need less health, or the ghosts need to hit softer, either way it's a NIGHTMARE for melee dps, since the point is to kill ghosts but you CAN'T kill ghosts becuase they hit you so hard. At least Rhelyk can howling blast em pretty good, my paladins spend the whole fight judging and hardcasting excorcism. You'd think you could just dps the chains while ranged takes care of adds, but you can't since you always need to be near a fresh chain in case you get jumped. It's fine for ranged, REALLY easy on my hunter in fact, but melee just have nothing to do :/

Friday, April 29, 2011

Troll overload

4.1 is out! So many trolls, so many wipes. Oh the humanity! Elvinity? W/e, new content is out, new epics to be had, new fights to die over and over again to. Did some guild runs (those were fun) and some dungeonfinder runs (not so fun). Can't wait for the playerbase to get used to the fights, typing out the strat for Jin'do over and over and over again is exhausting, there is SO much in that fight to have to explain and watch for, especially compared to the final boss of ZA.

New ZA is pretty cool. I'm glad I did it back at 70 as many of the fights are more or less unchanged. Pheonix boss is especially fun, considering how much I hated that fight trying to heal it back at 70. FAR easier with half the people (and therefore half the flame orbs). Speaking of easier, I'm not sure why ZA in general is so much easier than ZG, the disparity in diffuculty is just odd.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cho'Gall is down!

Congrats to <Insomnia>! Only my second raid night with them,  but after 17 wipes (including a 3% wipe that got us all very excited), attempt #18 saw the fat man fall! Hah! THATS for laughing at me in feralas! And for killing my Kor'kron buddies that I was supposed to escort to the foot of your fortress! To be fair they spent a lot of time on him the other week when I was still on the bench, so for most of them it was a lot more than 17. Also we were practising with no slow on the slimes for the first 6 or 8 wipes till our hunter logged on

Pretty sweet, as it's only my second night raiding with them, or indeed raiding anything at all in cataclysm (baradin hold doesn't count as raiding). It's quite a differant raiding style to what I'm used to in <Haste>, far more casual and laid back, which is good and bad. Good for obvious reasons, bad becuase there are a lot of afk's and switching out raiders. Not nearly as bad as raiding with IRL friends over on Stonemaul server in early wrath, these guys are quite a bit better prepared than that, but it's gonna take some getting used to going back to this style after having been in a serious raiding guild for a year.

I'm not nearly as excited about it as I should be though. Again, it's only my second raid night and on the first night we 1-shotted both bosses I was present for so I'm prety sure thats a huge part of it for me. For the rest of Insomnia, they've been working towards this for weeks. ME? I just kinda swaggered up to the plate and knocked it out of the park my first time up to bat. Not enough build-up for me. I'd say it was anticlimatic, but you have to have some rising tension to have a climax. Or maybe it's just that Cho'Gall never really excited me storywise. Maybe it's both. Either way, it's so nice to be raiding again!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Drained and apathetic

So tired right now, just absolutely mentally drained. Spent all afternoon trying to get my death knight geared, and it's put me in such a sour mood. Been a long time since I've died so much. I hate dying. Despise it even. It's not the gold, not at all, it's the wasted time corpserunning. It's rebuffing, of everyone getting back into position. It breaks up the flow, like some old mix tape where you're buddy decides to be funny and mixes nails on a chalkboard RIGHT when you're in the middle of a kickin' tune. What, just me? Well you get the idea then.

4/6 of the hroics being lost city of tol'vir didn't help any at all, even if 3 of them hadn't been a bust. Stupid place has very few decent items for any of my characters, but especially mele dps. I would have been even more down in the dumps, but a throne of tides run got me 3 new pieces, even if only 1 was truly an upgrade, I thought the entire day was gonna be a lesson in pain. My number had to come up at some point though, right?

Convergent content and the illusion of choice

I've got more than my fair share of alts, and I like to think I'm fairly proficient with leveling characters. So I had an odd thought on the subject playing messing around on my 64 holy priest last night

It's about cataclysm (of course) and how blizz did so much right and then so much wrong. Terathis was created and leveled entirely in cataclysm content so that I could have an alliance character on my main horde server, and I had a blast leveling him, until I hit wrath content. Cataclysm was REALLY a struggle to get through.

You see, leveling up to 70 is so much fun. You have so many options for how you want to level. You can quest of course, but even then you have 2 entirely separate continents to choose form, and you can bounce back and forth between them if you want. Even for starting areas, you can always go to a different races zone if you don't mind a run or have a friend with a 2 seater mount. Slightly slower than questing, you can level almost entirely through dungeons if you want. Or through battlegrounds. Or from gathering and archeology if you really want to. In Wrath content, even with the buff to experience you really hit a stumbling block in speed, especially when it comes to instances. Add in the poor item drops for wrath normal dungeons and you're pretty much forced to switch to questing.

AT least in Wrath, you have options. Howling Fjord or Borean Tundra.  Maybe both? Hop around, skip some quest hubs, do whatever ones you like. You have freedom in the questing and the zones, so much that you don't have to follow the same path twice if you don't care to. Then you hit 80, and you lose all semblance of choice.

Oh sure, there's 2 starting zones, but both of them are ridiculously linear. They're a BLAST the first time through, holy crap are they ever fun! But they lose the fun factor by the third time through, and become a chore after that. You do the same quests, in the same order, and you can't skip a single one because it's all phased. The story element is strong, and you experience the progressing story, but it's more like you're along for the ride instead of choosing how the story progresses. And dungeons offer little relief, they take a while to queue for but more importantly they offer little experience after you do the quests the first time through.

Choice, that's the key. Rather, the illusion of choice. You need to feel like you're deciding your character's path, like you are in control of your own destiny. You have that in the lower levels, the choice. The options. It's fresh and fun and any monotony is easily broken up with a dungeon or a battleground, both of which offer fairly significant experience gains.

Unlike my issue with the rest of the current endgame, the problem here is not time. It doesn't take very long to get from 80 to 85, possibly even less time than 70 to 80 takes in fact. An afternoon can easily net you a level or 2, and that's most of the job right there. Again, the problem is lack of variation. Aside from the choice between Vashj'ir and hyjal, you do the exact same zones in the exact same order, doing the exact same quests.

I have high hopes for Blizz. They're not stupid people, far from it, and they keep changing things trying to get it better. We'll see what the future brings.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Okay, I'll stop that, for your sake.

There's been a lot of talk about tanking and tanks and LFD queues sucking major ass lately. It basically boils down to LFD sucking major ass lately. And it's all Blizzards fault. Well, not true, it's those damn trolls on the forums too, and blizzard listening to forum trolls. And Steve Allen. Him too somehow.

At this point: spoiler alert, I'm in the minority, and I fully realize that. Apparently. At least among people that post on blogs and wow news columns (already, a minority of the playerbase). So,  I'm in a further minority, a minute minority if you will.

You see, I like games. They're not real. Indeed, thats my FAVORITE part of games, it's almost like they were based on someone's fantasy or some science guy wanted to do somee fictional stuff. OK. that was bad, sue me. Anyways, my point is that depending on who you ask, real life rocks, sucks, or is meh. Count me in for some of the "meh" if you would so kindly, please. Games are where I go to escape, to enjoy, to do what isn't even theoretically possible in real life, or at least what isn't realistically theoretical in real life. The Escape! Escapism! Wooh! And now you have all these muthafuggen snakes on this muthafuggen plane. Er, Tanks in a game. Muthafuggen tanks in a game. I have been quite vocal of late (I am kalamadea in that first link) on various public forums, especially on Blessing of Kings who keeps talking about it. Basically, blizzard has designed their new expansion so poorly that it requires bribing tanks to do what nobody thought twice about last expansion. Y'know, their job. Just so people that can get into a system that used to work just fine.

The problem: forum trolls that complained about easy heroics in wrath. Well guess what, they were PERFECT in wrath. They were the exact cure for what ails ya: an acute lack of badges. -itits.  It's a disease, look it up. Yes, as Azuriel so correctly put it, heroics were and are a group daily quests. Couldn't agree more. Hard heroics are fun at first, with friends. Figuring out how to do it, wiping and learning, getting accustomed to mechanics. Pure fun. Then, like a good raid group, you get it down, and again, and again, and soon you don't need any of the loot and you know exactly how to do it and it becomes farm content. Except now, you have to do that farm content over and over and over again EVERY DAY with new recruits, and you're wiping to farm content. That doesn't drop loot you need. Just for the badges (now points) at the end.

I don't know how many of you went through high turnover rates raiding, but there is nothing more frustrating than wiping over and over again to fights you used to breeze through becuase you have new recruits. OK, there is... it's wiping to heroic trash in LFD. I want my challenges where -I- want my challenges, not in things I have to slog through just to get it out of the way so I can go actually play. I don't want to struggle through dailys, I don't want to struggle through daily heroics for my damn valor points. I want to get in, get it done, get out, and actually play the stuff I want to play in, intead of the stuff I kinda have to play in just to keep up. I want my challenges where I want my challenges, where -I- decide to be challenged. Hrm, not a raid night. Can I solo that old raid? what about that old heroic? Hey, Think we can 3 man tempest keep? Wanna do some BGs? Thats what the game is to me, not wasting my time doing mindless drivel 5 times over becuase one retard can't jump in and out of a beam on Corla. Scratch that, I like mindless drivel (see The Insane title), I like the long grind. What I don't like is completely wasting my time becuase some other random ass that I never met before and will never meet again never hotkeyed his interupt. Helping them used to be great when they were on your server, you had a vested interest in it. Now it has become pointless, there is always ALWAYS a new one, and they usually don't want to listen to you when you tell them that spellpower mail isn't good for a hunter or maybe you shouldn't stack agi as a DK.

Blizzard is now trying to bribe tanks to tank, and not even becuase tanking is hard, it isn't. It's annoying. That is WORSE than hard. Hard you can overcome, annoying just makes you want to stop. I enjoyed tanking in wrath. I was fairly decent at it, judging by party remarks. Not amazing, but decent. You ran in, did your rotation, and WATCHED. That was the key, somebody would pull a new group, bam! Shift and pick them up. taunt as needed. Pat is coming, shift, get the group away from it. DPS goes crazy on a mob you're not concentrating on BAM, taunt, get it under control. Cata is all about setup, downtime before a pull. Mark targets, remember who has what CC and what that CC is able to actually be used on. Mark a kill order (that all the dps succinctly ignore). It's a hassle, it takes forever, and it's annoying.

And that's my next point, Cataclysm content takes forever. Want you're valor points? hope you didn't get any of the dungeons that take an hour+ (oh wait, thats almost all of them), with those aforementioned people that can't be bothered to CC or interupt or follow a kill order. Basic Mobs have more health and hit harder, so dailys take longer to do, and still require you to kill just as many mobs as old expansions did. Or else fight through as many to get to the named elite thats actually kinda fun to fight. Queues take longer becuase nobody wants to tank, and nobody wants to heal. Dungeons take longer once you get in, and by the end, you're kinda drained and forgot you logged in to relax from a long day. It's a vicious cycle, and culminates in many people not wanting to play, let alone join LFD.

Blizzard, I implore you: bring back wrath heroics.



Oh wait, that would be bad....not banned. Uh, where to start? Wall of text INC! Suckers!

I suppose the name.

Every paladin blog it seams is named after some in-game ability or another. But this blog is only going to be mostly a paladin  blog, since that is my main and I have far too many of them to be considered entirely sane anymore. Also, most of my alts are Blood Elves, becuase I clearly have issues with my sexuality, or so the 50 bajillion 12 year olds that make up the majority of Mr. Worldwide-Webb would have me believe (doncha hate it when they hyphenate after tying the knot?)  So paladins have this thing for using the words Sacred, Holy, Divine, Justice, etc, and the Blood Elf racial is Arcane Torrent (best bloody racial there is! [see wut i did thar?]). So you guessed it! My choice of names was randomly decided by opening up the dictionary and pointing at words. Providence, no?

Why start blogging?

Lots of reasons, getting my voice (as it is) heard, writing out my ideas somewhere, messing around. Mostly, I blame Blessing of Kings. He tends to post these hypothetical meanderings so of all the sites I go to I comment on that one the most. Also I like to put my character name instead of my google account or some other such. I usually post as Kalamadea on any message board (+10 interwebs for getting the referance! aww, I'm a nerd /sadface), but I like to post as my wow moniker for wow related stuff, and that means my main: Elladrion.

So thats the Blog's name. Now the player. Thats Me.

In Vanilla, I hated wow. HATED. WOW. All my friends played it and would never shut up about it. All the customers at work played it and would never shut up about it (I worked at a hobby shop at the time, sweet gig if you can persist off of eating dirt). I hated it (the game, not the job). I hated hearing about it (the game, not the job). I hated knowing the lingo (I'll stop now, for your sake) becuase that meant that I had been around people droning on and on and on about it long enough to understand the lingo! GAH! And every time we'd go to hang out "Man, you gotta play!" "Man, you'd love it SO MUCH!"

So I started playing in March of 2007. W8wut? Yeah... Burning Crusade had just hit, my birthday had just happened, Me and some friends (my blog, my grammar) moved in to an apartment together and they just so happened to have an extra computer. Did you know that they say the first hit is free when you try drugs? Damn it all if they don't have a good buisiness model. Free computer, free first month, free game (birthday, remember?), and of course Blizzard was in on the scam too, they introduced elves to The Horde. Who could be paladins. FML.

I like elves, always have. Love em. I like that they're beautiful and lithe and agile (I tend towards none of that RL). I love that they're so ancient and wise and long-living. They look human, indeed physically the best traits of humans, but they're not so damn mundane as humans. I can look in the mirror and see a human. I can look in the mirror and see a big clumsy stocky dude with too much facial hair that needs to stop eating so darn much (24 Hour Fitness can only goes so far...) In short, I'd be a dwarf if I weren't so tall. Thats real life. Thats reality. Thats...well thats just boring, really. And thats always the issue for me: real life is kinda meh. Fantasy and sci-fi? Now THERE is the action, THERE is what captures the imagination and runs wild with it!

So right, elves. I was talking about elves. The Dungeons and Dragons elven ranger was always my favorite archetype growing up (I didn't know tolkien, or I would have said Legolas was my favorite archetype. Now I know better). Later in my teens I also had a pension for the Paladin: aka The Paragon. Superman. The Boy Scout. The Good Guy. In the '90s, every hero was an antihero. They're dark and moody and don't follow the rules, they're fun. They're a rebellious teen's ideal. But then I started to look at these extremes, these pure characters...and they had merit. Plus, anybody that played D&D in 3.5 knows how much rangers sucked, and how much humans rocked. So, I played some paladins. The paragons. The Boy Scouts. Also, there were some angels (Astral Devas) via an expansion book that let you do that (I have a thing for angels too, especially the Herald of Destruction, Archangel on the warpath type. Goddamnit I'm a nerd, what the heck happened to me?!) And all this was coming to a head in March of 2007 which I swear should be important to me for some reason...oh right, that wow thing.

The One, The Only

I will mention, as of this writing, Elladrion is still the one and only Elladrion in all of wow. He is unique and individual, just like a snowflake. He's a prety butterfly with delicate wings of gossamer. Or something. Anyways, so I like elves, I like paladins, all my friends played Horde (FOR THE HORDE!), and now I have a free month on a free computer with a free game. Did I mention something about FML? Yeah...

So Lord of the Rings movies are out by now, and the shop I work at has been selling the miniatures game and I'm pretty heavy into both and reading WAY too many wikis about the world in my downtime at work. Elladan and Elrohir are the twin sons of Elrond and they are getting pretty cool looking miniatures around this time, but both names are taken on my server. THANK GOD! That would have sucked, in hindsight! Instead, I had to come up with a semi original name kinda sorta based around LotR characters. Fan-fucking-tastic! Elladrion, the elven paladin is born unto this earth! Divine prophecy fulfilled! The 2nd coming is nigh upon us! Dogs and cats, best of buddies, all is right with the world!

Except I'm terrible. Now, I don't know that I'm terrible. Yet. And I blame my friends for this, the same friends that got dealt me, gave me wow. Nobody horde-side knows how to play paladins. They know they hate them, that they suck to try and kill and are ioncredibly annoying and can freaking BUBBLEHEARTH the moment you get he upper hand!. Well,m thanks to these friends (or warriros, almost all) I'm enamored with the idea of paladin tanking that has been propegated with this new expansion, so I level as protection. But NOT as an aoe grinder.Oh No, I got to 70 one, single, glorious mob at a time. And I didn't judge since that took away my seal (why would you ever DO that?!). So my roomies would come out, and watch me fight a mob for a minute, minute and a half, and comment on , autoattack all the way man! Sweet zombie Jesus on a pogostick it was slow, but that was the whole game for me and I didn't know any better. And I never died. I could kill elites, I could handle adds, I could do my own group quests and handle 2 orange mobsa at a time (3 required cooldowns. My warrior roomie was disgusted). It was great! I was hooked in the only was an obsessive cumpulsive can be hooked to anything: completely and by the balls.

So I finally get to 70, still patch 2.0, and I start tanking normals with my friends/guildies who a) have no idea how paladins work and b) don't want to discourage me. See where this is going? Yeah, I was bad. Horrid even. I stacked stam for health and int for mana, so it could last through a fight. Yes, you read that right. Reading it again won't change it. I stacked Int as a prot pally. I didn't even know what defense rating was, other than something warriors spoke of occasionally. But my firends, they were pretty damn good healers, and since they had to be to keep me up in dungeons by golly they did, and nary a word but praise was said. The jerks. But I never had an aversion to PUGing, and did so a fair bit, and good lord does the ugly, dirty truth come out (and then some) when you're with strangers on the internet!

At first I thought it was just them, these people with their stupid epics! Jeez! Of COURSE I'm not as easy to keep up as your epically geared buddy tank! It's you, not me! YOU suck. I rock! My FRIENDS don't have any trouble keeping me up (so the jackals lead me to believe), you're just a bad healer! And you too! And you. And you. You. You. You, man, there's a lot of people telling me I'm bad at this sorta thing, what the heck? Of course, it all culminates in one glorious, painful night raiding kara with thes "friends". Well, not a night, more like 20 minutes before I leave raid and huddle myself into a weeping, mopy fetal ball on the floor, sucking my thumb and asking when mommy will be home.

"Google , " (asked I) "what are other protection paladins doing that I'm not? Oh. Oh. Ah. Really? I'm that far off base? Are you sure? So how SHOULD I be gearing then? Oh FML."

Yup, a simple 15 minute google search and I was devastated, everything I (thought I), EVERY SINGLE THING I knew about protection paladins was wrong, -I- was wrong. Seemed all the paladins were still healing, I guess I could do that. And boy, did I. I spent the rest of the expansion as holy until very late in 2.4 when they made ret viable, and by then I just PvPed. I Healed everything up to some T5 content as holy, I still to this day love karazhan as the bestest raid EVAH!

Alts: The Slow Decline into madness

Did I mention I was a prot pally in BC? I think I did. Then a Holy paladin for the remainder of BC? Cool, I'm on fire. Have you ever tried to kill stuff as prot or holy in BC? Yeah... not so much with the killing, more with the outlasting until the mob becomes so bored it dies. And a differant circle of friends is playing off server, so I make a hunter and they peter out prety quick while I'm left BGing at 29, fighting all the twinks and waiting for friends to coem on. Wait, -I- have a 70, -I- can make a 29 hunter twink.

So I did. And it was hella fun. Fighting other twinks in BGs, running up and down the road in duskwood, encountering level 30+ players on their way to stranglethorn (no mounts till level 40 back then). I quickly stopped challenging anyone that wasn't at least level 33, no sport in it. I once killed a level 38 priest on my 29 twink (clutch Arcane Torrent FTW) and another time killed a level 34, a 35, a 33 then the 34 and 35 againbe fore they finally rez-zerged me down! What FUN! But all my friends that made twinks started to tire of it and level, and I didn't ever want that to be on the table. I start a 2nd hunter just to level "Now there's no reason to level the twink!" thinks I, and I'm right.Huzzah! About this time the infamous BigRedKitty has been oging at it, and i'd been enjoying it (you newer people are sorely missing out, he unfortunately had to quit a few years back). Then he posted the video of him single-handedly (with his pet) taking 2 of the 4 adds in moroes out of the fight. O. M. G. This! So much THIS!

I raced to 70 on my non-twink hunter (Ithrandil. That link to the right. Yeah, that's the one), I read all the guides I could, all the blogs, all the how-tos. I would NOT be a huntard, not-no-way-no-how! And I wasn't, I could chain trap with the best of them, I could control my pet like you wouldn't believe, I could spam my macro and keep my littly kitty alive through anything! I rocked! Best yet, I could KILL THINGS! SO MUCH MQSRDPS! It was glorious! He basically replaced Elladrion as my main for a good part of BC, I got into more pugs and topped more than a few dps charts, and certainly got farther progression-wise in raids even as Elladrion got moved into a proper raiding guild. But now there was no reason to twink, since I could do it on a 70, get more gear, and use more abilities. Suddenly my friend's remark about twinking being like watching the special olympics makes sense. So I laugh. Anyways. then 2.4 happened, and RL meant I couldn't make raid times, which left only PUGing (HAH! I was ret by now. PUGing as a loladin...riiiight....) and PvP.

And ret was FUN! Not good mind you, just fun. Then something amazing happened, cross-realm premades. It was all ventrillo based, you joined the vent server, and everybody would queue for the same AV at the same exact time, and you usually got 30+ people all in that specific AV. And the strategy, which I still follow (becuase it WORKS DAMNIT!) would be posted by the leader through macros, and was entirely dependant upon which group you were placed in for who would go where, so the few non- premades could also follow it. It. Was. AMAZING! I spent most of the last summer leading up to wrath doing that, long after I didn't need any gear. Thats the gear set I chose for my Figureprint, and the one I still have and you see me wearing up top. It's badass. Even though season 2 was considered the badge of the noobs back then with all the creme de la creme in their fugly Brutal Gladiator sets. Screw you people and your "mad skillz"!

Wrath was fun. Great, really, I'll talk more about it in later posts, but I really, REALLY enjoyed wrath. Bounced around a few servers and guilds (on alts that is, never transfered), Healed until 4.1, then went ret and rarely looked back. I didn't like where healing went in later wrath although I came to really enjoy tanking (now with less noobness!) It was also the only time I've been in a truly hardcore raiding guild, ending up 9/12 HMs in icecrown, which is a big deal for me since I never even saw Hyjal in BC, let alone Black Temple or Sunwell! I did level quite a few more alts by the time Wrath was finished though, all my toons except Terathis were 80 and at least badge geared and antering ICC pugs.

Unfortunately the guild disintegrated in Cataclysm, most people quitting or changing servers, which brings me to <Insomnia>, as of last week. We'll see how it goes, still a Trial agian so I haven't gotten to raid with them yet.

Obviously I shorted you on Wrath and Cataclysm stories. Gotta have SOMETHING to talk about later!

TL:DR version:

I'm a paladin, blah blah blah!