Archive for the ‘ Instancing ’ Category

Yes, The Wall And My Head Have Long Been Good Friends

And still, familiarity breeds contempt.

Let’s look at some of the points that have been sticking in my craw.

Upon release of The Burning Crusade, once level 70 had been achieved, raiders were presented with:

  • Karazhan : Tier 4, 10-man raid, 9.5 bosses, 2 events, Plenty of interesting trash (CC & tactics required), Located in the Old World
  • Gruul’s Lair : Tier 4, 25-man raid, 2 bosses, Minimal interesting trash (tactics required), Located in Outland
  • Magtheridon’s Lair : Tier 4, 25-man raid, 1 boss, Minimal trash (not much tactics or CC required), Located in Outland
  • Serpentshrine Cavern : Tier 5, 25-man raid, 6 bosses, Robust trash requiring both CC and tactics, Located in Outland
  • Tempest Keep : Tier 5, 25-man raid, 4 bosses, Moderate trash with CC and tactics required, Located in Outland

Totals for raid content on BC release:

  • Number of Raid Instances: 5
  • Number of Tiers: 2
  • Number of Bosses: 24 (9 ‘pure’ bosses in kara, spider & chess=1 boss, opera=1 boss)
  • Difficulty (interest & quantity) of trash: Moderate-high (Highs and lows in each instance)
  • Location appeal: All but one located in Outland, Karazhan being in Old World was a nice touch.

Now, let’s take a look at the Wrath release. Hard modes with different loot will be treated as additional bosses. Because of the extra work for balancing, 10-man raid bosses will count as 1/2 of a boss and will not count as a full extra boss because no new artwork (models, textures, animations, scenery) needed to be created.

  • Naxxramas : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 15 bosses in 25-man, 5.5 bosses in 10-man, Robust trash but no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend
  • Obsidian Sanctum : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 4 bosses in 25-man, 2 bosses in 10-man, Minimal trash with no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend
  • Eye of Eternity : No Tier, 10 & 25-man raid, 1 boss in 25-man, .5 boss in 10-man, No trash, Located in Northrend
  • Vault of Archavon : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 1 boss in 25-man, .5 boss in 10-man, Minimal trash with no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend

Totals for raid content on Wrath Release

  • Number of Raid Instances: 4
  • Number of Tiers: 1
  • Number of Bosses: 28.5
  • Difficulty (Interest & quantity) of trash: Low (Lots of trash in Naxxramas, but no CC or tactics required)
  • Location Appeal: All instances located in Northrend

Now, I realise that a number of my points are personal preference. For example, I believe that being forced to go back to the old world to get to raid content is a good thing. I enjoy connections throughout the world, tying everything together. I also enjoy trash that requires a brain to get through instead of the chain-pull AoE-fest that we are ‘enjoying’ in Naxxramas.

If I were to be as strict on the numbers as I would like (counting 10 and 25-man versions of bosses as one and the same) Wrath would find itself severely lacking in the number of baddies to kill.

But, just looking at the numbers, content proffered in the two expansions upon release seems to be relatively equivalent.

Why then, does it not feel that way?

First, in Wrath, we only have one tier of gear to look forward to, and it’s possible to get almost every single piece from one instance. This is either a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about it. I’ll get to why I think it’s a bad thing a little later.

Secondly is the trash. Upon the release of 3.0, Crowd-Control died. It was no longer needed. Part of this was from Blizzard’s new paradigm shift of ‘bring the player not the class’ (25-man Razouvious and Faerlina are stark exceptions), and part of it was a conscious effort to make Naxxramas an introductory raid to help newbies get their feet wet.

Those are the reasons, but I don’t accept them as excuses.

For example. The trash in Gruul’s Lair; the entire raid had to stack on the back of some mobs there or they would get charged and wipe the raid. In the Arachnid quarter there are spiders that charge, but this is no more than an annoyance. Nobody dies, and the AoE continues.

If these big spiders hit harder when they charged, requiring that they be sheeped, or rooted (druids can do that indoors now, not that they need to) would help add interest and challenge. It would make the 20-minute achievement more difficult too. If you needed a raid that was geared enough to survive charging spiders so that DPS could be cranked through the roof in order to get through quickly, wouldn’t that make it more worthwhile?

So, back to the numbers

Wrath has more bosses, one less instance. I’m going to tell you that my issue is with variety.

But Tiger! There’s only one less instance! There’s plenty of variety!

NO, there ISN’T.

The vast majority of raiding content in Wrath is in Naxxramas. OS, EoE, and VoA are presented in similar manner to Magtheridon’s Lair and, to a lesser extent Gruul’s (Gruul’s had 2 bosses, remember). Here is your boss, kill him, loot, win.

Imagine, if you will, that BC had just dropped and only contained Karazhan, Gruul’s and Magtheridon’s Lair, and that’s it.

Hmmm, ok, in typical Tiger fashion I’ve realised that that is pretty much what just happened, and it’s not really a bad thing. The problem I’m seeing is that Ulduar will only make this problem worse! Icecrown will then be the icing on the cake that is my dissapointment with Wrath raiding.

All for want of variety.

I made a comment in Vent last night that seemed to be very well-recieved by my guild: I don’t mind banging my head against a wall, I just wish I could bang it on a different wall for a while.

Back in BC, once you progressed beyond Tier 4, if you found yourself getting roflstomped by content you could go and do the other tier of that content. Al’Ar mopping the floor with your face? Go tackle Hydross instead. Leotheras put the bliders on you? Take your tanks and go tackle Void Reaver.

I’ve said before we’re working on Sarth 3D. Our biggest problem is that, after an hour or two of wipes, when we’re getting frustrated and discouraged, there’s nothing else for us to go work on.

But Tiger, Ulduar will have more hard modes! More variety!

How many of those bosses will you need to kill to get to ther bosses? If one boss’s hard mode eludes you, will you have the option to go work on another and come back, or will that chance be lost to you for a whole week?

I think that is a fatal flaw in what appears to be Blizzard’s single-instance tier paradigm. The ability to go bang your head against a different wall is missing.

And that’s why I’m frustrated.

PS – WTB Pally & DK tanks.

No, really, come say hi, please.

Your Twilight, It Torments Me

Vampires not included.

NOW. *deep breath*

I see a lot of blog posts talking about Sarth 3D, about how difficult it was and how so much time was spent on the encounter, how the guild really had to pull together to accomplish it.

I’ve no doubt all this is true. What is lacking, however, is talk of the road to victory. Perhaps <Unemployed> is a bit on the slow side, but we’re still working on it, and I’d like to share a little bit of our journey with you.

We’ve finally gotten to the point, when working on Sartharion with three Drakes, that we’ve stopped loosing people early on to stupid crap like fissures and flame walls. Our DPS are staying alive, our Healers are staying alive and, by proxy, our tanks are staying alive and drakes are dying.

Now we can finally start to troubleshoot the actual encounter.

Thus we have discovered what a bitch Twilight Torment can really be.

Now, I’m not certain -exactly- what our particular problem is, but I can appreciate some of the challenges. Tenebron is dying at a good pace (finally). He’s down to 10-15% by the time Shadron lands and that’s without a bloodlust. With bloodlust we were able to kill him 2-3 seconds before Shadron activated.

The issue now is getting Shadron dead enough that DPS don’t kill themselves trying to get him down the rest of the way so they can pop into the portal and nix the acolytes.

It’s got to be rough to be DPS during that phase. Here you are, needing to push everything you can to get the drake down, yet the more you push the more you kill yourself. Can you afford that next shot? Will a healer get to you in time? Will your DoTs be the end of you?

I daren’t even think of the burden on the healers.

Needless to say, we’re not Twilight Vanquishers yet, but we definitely made progress. Finall we can start working on the meat of the matter instead of just repeating “Stop standing in the fire”.

At least, that’s as long as we don’t get unannounced AFKs. But that’s a subject for another time. *grumble*

Fun Fact – I can survive standing in a void zone. I know because I did it last night, 3 times…

/shame

And Here We Separate the Men From the Boys

Or the Women from the Girls in the case of myself and miss Warlock.

What am I talking about? Why… This of course!

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The screenshot was taken by our hunter who’s got a snazzy little addon that takes screencaps whenever he kills a boss, gains an achievement, or levels up. I think it was called something like Scattered Shots, or something. Either way, there it is!

I don’t have my own screenshot because I was too busy squealing and hyperventilating and shaking and by the time I remembered “osh*t screencap” the achievement had faded away.

Here’s the break-down:

We did the bulk of Naxxramas with only 9 people. First we went and killed Razouvious, then we went and took out the Plague quarter, eager to get Heigan out of the way. Next we took a break and breezed through the Arachnid quarter. Actually, that wasn’t a breeze, we had some unfortunate AFKs and we were trying to take things carefully. Trash was done messily but everybody smartened up right quick for the boss kills.

Next we sauntered over and laid the smack down on the Construct quarter and finished up the night back in Military with Gothik. By this time we were debating how we wanted to handle the Horsemen. We knew we could 8-man it, but we were going for Undying so we really wanted another healer for insurance. So, we called it for the night.

Tonight, we went back in with our extra healer, stapled him to a tank, and got down to business. Melee was forbidden on Zeliek and there was much calling out of void zones on Blameaux just to make sure everyone was on their toes.

Once they were dead we moved to Sapphiron and we all donned one pice of Frost Resist and had our Pally toss up frost aura. We weren’t taking any chances. In fact, both the rogue and I (only melee apart from the tank) had to make sure to stay on our toes and out of the blizzards, sometimes even running away from the dragon so that we didn’t get hit. There was one rough moment early on when a blizzard rained down on a group clustered behind an ice block during the first air phase, but our healers were able to valiantly struggle through.

After the dragon came the moment of truth. Would we be beset by lag and find ourselves in failure, or would we be able to rise above, pull together, and claim our titles?

Well, you already know the answer, so I’ll let you know how the fight went.

As per usual, I would be off-tanking this fight. Bell (warrior tank) and I kept the incoming Abominations under control until about 30 seconds before KT popped, then it was all me. The last thing we wanted was for him to have to juggle and Abomination and worry about stacking as much threat on KT as he could.

After that I stepped back and spent most of my time in bear form and kept Faerie Fire (Feral) up on the boss. It’s much easier to keep 2 people in melee apart from each other than it is to keep 3 people far enough apart. Once again, plan for problems, plan for people to get confused, and do your best to make a situation where problems can be fixed on the fly.

Then, 40% came and went and the big bugs came out and it was my turn. I picked one up quickly and had the other mis-directed to me. I had a minor heartattack moment when I’d been tanking for a few seconds and realised I’d forgotten that I needed to pay SPECIAL attention to void zones. I immediately strafed to the right and acertained that no, I’m not in immediate peril (giant bugs wailing on my face not withstanding).

Tanking the adds can be tricky for the sole reason of the void zones. Even if you can outlast the bugs, they get to be so large that you can no longer see your character and if a void zone pops underneath you… well, you won’t see it. So what I do is whenever DBM tells me one has spawned I look around for it. If I don’t immediately see it I strafe. More often than not it’s somewhere I didn’t look and strafing wasn’t needed, but sometimes it is, and it’s those times that can save your life.

So then, after what seemed like an eternity, I happened to mouse over the boss and saw his health was a mere sliver of its previous robust glory. My pulse quickened and my fingers flew. I reminded myself to keep watching for void zones and I prayed that I didn’t get ice-blocked.

And then….

The Undying.

It felt amazing. It’s the feeling I used to get on a first kill back in BC days. It felt like the first time we killed Rage Winterchill in Mount Hyjal. After weeks of working, we’d finally done it!

THAT, my friends, is what true progression feels like. I miss those edge-of-your-seat fights where you hope and pray that everyone has brought their A game and that maybe, just maybe, tonight will be THE night.

And when it is?

Ooooh baby you’re on top of the world.

Monday Moooosik

And Pandora makes a come-back! Here’s the first three songs that rolled up for me this morning, my rating, and my thoughts.

  1. Re-Align by Godsmack – Unrated until this morning, given a Thumbs Up – I’ve been a Godsmack fan for a while now. I’ve used the ‘add variety’ button twice on this playlist, I suspect this is a result of my first added variety, the band Loudermilk.
  2. Awaken by Disturbed – Unrated, stayed Unrated – I skipped this. I do like Disturbed, but when their ten-thousand fists CD came out I listened to that non-stop for a month or two. All their stuff tends to blur together for me now so Disturbed is a once in a while type thing, and I wasn’t in the mood for it this morning.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica – Unrated, given thumbs down – Bleh. I don’t have anything against Metallica, I just wasn’t in the mood for it this morning, maybe with a thumbs down Pandora will get the hint. Plus, the version that rolled up was a live version and I hate listening to live versions (unless I’m there of course)

That’s it for the first installement of Monday Moooosik. As for WoW-related activities, well… There’s only three bosses standing between me and The Undying. We’re finishing up Naxx-10 tonight, so wish us luck!

Last time we were shooting for Undying, when we got to KT I got iceblocked while tanking the two adds. We were also 8-manning it and some of us had forgotten to remove our frost resist. Hopefully this time, packing an extra DPS and one more Healer we’ll be able to set up enough redundencies that we can take out insurance against something unfortunate like that happening again.

Other than those two we still have the 4-Horsemen to take care of. When we did them with 8 people we survived with nobody dying, but our healing shadow priests assured us that it was a very close thing indeed. Once again, we need to do our best to set up redundencies in case someone DCs or gets an unfortunate lag spike.

When we decided to call Naxx last night we went and took care of Gotta Go When the Volcano Blows for 4 people, myself included. I’ll tell you what, when there’s only two* DPS on Sartharion he takes a LONG ass time to kill. First try we got him to about 10% before one of our tanks bit the big one. The second try it was about 5 percent and the last tank was able to hang on until he died.

The healers assure me it was an epic battle. I wouldn’t really know, I was lying on the ground in a pile with three other naked bodies.

Needless to say, they did an AMAZING job. Now I need to make sure to grab my Frost Resist belt from the bank before hitting Naxx again tonight and we’ll be good to go!

*Edited because I can’t count, see comments if you want to lol @ me.

It’s Always Best to Wait for the Healers

Trust me, you’ll live longer.

Last night <Unemployed> embarked on our journey to become Immortal. No, we didn’t go hunting for the legendary fountain of youth, nor did we start peeking under rocks in hopes of finding an oblidging vampire.

No, my friends, our quest to become Immortal began with 23 people, a dream, and one surly Death Knight Instructor.

Things started off very well. Razouvious without a hitch, Gothik was completed with similar competence, and it wasn’t until we hit up the 4 horsemen that we ran into issues. What issue? Well, when you have a resto shaman who’s staring down Blameaux, rolling 8 stacks on the debuff, standing in one of her void zones all in the middle of disconnecting, well, things start getting interesting.

Needless to say the poor shaman dropped. What ensued was heated debate over weather or not we were out of the running for this week. Apparently there’s some scuttlebut going around that if you make sure to kill Rivendare first (since he counts as the ‘boss’), any deaths afterwards won’t be counted against you. Something to do with a bug and 4 horsemen not being required for The Dedicated Few. (which by the way I think is ridiculous, we completed The Dedicated Few AND killed the 4-horsemen with only 8 people just fine tyvm)

So, unsure about our fates we continued onto the Construct Quarter. Patchwerk down, then Grobbulous… except…. we lost another shaman. This one was another DC, except he didn’t call it out on vent. You can take out insurance against DCs like that, that’s why we had at least one paladin re-spec. Problem is, if we don’t know you’re DCing we can’t be ready to carry you through until you can come back and stop staning in the fire.

So, our quest for Immortal will have to continue.

Fun fact on Gluth: I can tank the zombie chow. Not kite, tank. It was my first time doing so and I was a little lost. He got quite a snack during the first decimate but, despite that, we still killed him before the second decimate. And thanks to our retadin who came back after the first decimate to help show me the ropes. I think next time I’ll do a much better job and the raid as a whole seemed to think having me tank the darn things worked much better than risking one of our fragile holy paladins. (we have a lot of paladins)

As for the title? Well. After we took out the Military and Construct quarters we decided to go kill some Spiders really quick. We only had 20 or so minutes left in the raid time and, oh, what a coincidence, Arachnaphobia is only 20 minutes!

/readycheck

/~half the raid is ready

/pull trash

DK tank dies, Warrior tank dies, Bear tank dies, DPS either dies or runs for the hills. AFK people finally get back to their screen.

Warrior: Woah I’m dead

Mage: Why’s everyone dead

Warlock: C’mon guys I left for TWO minutes!

Meanwhile I’m laughing so hard I can hardly breathe. To make matters worse I think when some people came back they didn’t realise we were doing spiders instead of plague. No doubt thinking we’d wiped to gargoyles or something they started jogging down that direction.

I have no idea who it was. All I know is I was sitting there, merrily chowing down on my mana strudel and suddenly DPS are dropping like flies. I look up the ramp back towards the exit and what do I see?

PANDEMONIUM!

Undead and slimies running amok amongst the clothies. Ready? Ready? TANK TANK TANK!

Ok, the undead are… um, dead-er. Slime is down, let’s get the dead back up.

Over vent:

Warlock: “I’m combat locked”

Hunter: “Still kiting here!”

Ohshi-

By this time he’d kited the slime all the way around and back to the raid. We killed it, but I was again laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

Needless to say, last night was fun. Definitely one of the best nights in Naxx in a while. I really enjoy the achievement system. It goes a long way to making old content new again.

Oh, and big props to Layni too. It was her first time helping us take out Grobbulous and she handled the debuff like a pro.

Definitely, PRO.

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