Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flex Raiding

I honestly cannot wait until flex raids are here.

Initially I was a bit dubious about them. Yet another raid format is going to be a pain. Do I now have to run three different instances of the same raid every week? Well, no, I don't usually run LFR, so I'm not seeing that I'll be forced to run anything more than I have time or inclination for. I do understand that raid groups working for any sort of server first ranking will make their raiders run all three lockouts. The chance to get your set bonus faster is really too good to pass up. Fortunately, that sort of rush doesn't apply to me.

I know there will be people who see that the loot from flex raids is not as good as in normal and want to run normal instead. Also the loot for the flex raids is going to be done the same way as in LFR currently. I was originally thinking that was a bad way to hand out loot and really didn't allow the raid leader any sort of control or ability to provide incentive for raiders to show up regularly.

However, I've now thought about the whole situation a bit more. I think that flex raids will solve a lot of problems.

The major bonus from flex raids, of course, is that you can bring whoever you have. Darkfall's common and constant problem is that we'll have anywhere from 12 to 16 or more people online at raid time. That isn't enough to try to pug for a 25man, but it is enough that it really sucks to decide who to have sit out. That large a bench just makes everyone feel bad.

Another bonus is that since you can bring anywhere from 10 to 24 people you don't need to worry as much about setting up the raid to have a 'perfect' class balance. Got three DKs? Bring them all plus everyone else who wants to show up. The need to have specific classes and class balance is something that I really don't like about 10s. Something I like and miss about running 25s is that you can bring doubles (or more) of a class/spec. I still fondly remember running Old Hyjal with 4 or 5 mages in the 25man raid.

I'm also no longer unpleased with the LFR-style looting that will happen in the flex raids. Originally I didn't like it because I'm a fan of master looting and using EPGP for handing out loot. I also really hate it when I use a charm and get a piece of loot I already have. However, I think that having separate loot for each person outweighs that. With personal loot instead of raid loot, having 8 people on the same token or wanting the same armor type does not matter. Everyone has their own chance at loot, and someone else getting loot doesn't take any away from you.

I would like to see that you could trade the loot you get in lfr or flex raids to other people who were in the same boss kill. It would be super nice if you could trade a doubled item you received to someone else who could use it. I'd also like the ability to trade it to someone to de if you got something that you and everyone else who could use it already had, but I can see not allowing that.

Either way I'm super excited for flex raids. I think that they will really help Darkfall and the other guilds like us that were really hurt by the marginalization of 25man raids.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tortos Dead!

Tuesday Darkfall had killed the first three bosses of Throne of Thunder prettily handily. We even had time for a pull or two on Tortos before the raid was done. Unfortunately we didn't actually get the big stone turtle dead on Tuesday night.

So this evening Darkfall headed into ToT, with turtle murder on our minds. It took the whole evening to get all the coordination right. But we finally pulled it together with some lovely turtle kicking. Our pally OT was fabulous with the bat pickups. I made sure to have DS up for every Snapping Bite. And our three heals were absolutely awesome.

In fact our turtle kicking was so great that we got an extra achieve.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Temple of the Jade Serpent: Bronze

Monday night we had or usual fun run. This week it was a quick romp through Dragon Soul. Eeyan just needs one more run and then he'll have the legendary daggers. We even got achieves and transmog gear for a few people in the run last night. Including surprising our dps DK with the last achieve that he needed for the meta. Amusingly he hadn't even noticed until I saw the achieve spam in gchat and told him grats.

Because it was so fast to blow through normal DS with seven 90s, a few of us floated the idea of a challenge mode after the raid. Not everyone, of course, was interested or geared, but we did actually have a full set of five. The group ended up being Morn to DK tank, Kuan as ele dps, Saruke hunter dps, Smokeydeath dk dps, and Expendable as monk heals.

Kuan and Morn had tried challenge modes before with a slightly different group. Sadly, it hadn't been all that successful. Oh, we'd completed Stormstout Brewery and Siege of Niuzao Temple. However we hadn't succeeded in getting any ratings. We'd also previously tried to do Shado-Pan Monastery and been utterly blocked by the Sha of Violence.

Monday's daily challenge mode was Temple of the Jade Serpent. I suspect that is one of the easier ones, but it still felt good to work together and go through it. We actually managed to one-shot all the bosses except for Wise Mari. His new challenge mechanic is to aoe anyone who stands in the usual heroic spot. So you're forced to not cheese his adds, and in fact have quite a limited area to deal with them. Once we realized just where the limits were for us standing near him he died. The rest of the bosses were just a matter of paying close attention to their mechanics and using all your cooldowns.

We were all still on vent from goofing off while we killed Dragon Soul, which was quite helpful. There was a lot of planning that was made much easier by talking, and some nice intra-fight coordination. I also explicitly called out when I was pulling and that it was only one group at a time. I was quite intentionally not pulling like a suicide tank. Yes, challenge modes don't have repairs bills, but since I'd never seen that dungeon on challenge mode before I wasn't sure how hard the mobs hit.

We ended up getting a Bronze rating for the run. I was super happy when that achieve popped up for all of us. And I think that we could pretty easily get a silver rating. We had plenty of time for the Bronze, and if we hadn't had three wipes on Wise Mari we'd have had plenty of time for Silver.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday Evening Update

No raid last night. I think that when I put Heroic ToES on the raid calendar people get scared. It's happened twice now that I put H ToES on the calendar and then no one wants to raid. In the future I'll just put Sunday as a alt/undergeared main night. We are usually missing a couple of main raiders then anyway so it's often a bit of a bust anyway.

So DraNgNon and I spent the evening doing random WoW stuff. We got random achieves and pet battled, and tried for various mounts.

To start off with we went to Isle of Thunder. We were missing one single summoned boss for It was Worth Every Ritual Stone. The stupid Ancient Mogu Guardian, and my tank fails were blocking us. Fortunately I'd actually had a chance to look him up and see what sort of tiles people were talking about since the last time we'd tried him. FYI, the cloud tiles are vaguely blue colored, but describing them that way is not all that useful. Also the boss doesn't always trigger a tile just because he is standing on it...
After we killed the Ancient Mogu Guardian we rand around the island killing more of the summoned bosses. Then we killed Nalak and I got a disc priest recruit for Darkfall. I apparently missed his app on our guild page. So bad me. But regardless of my terrible delay we now have a new disc priest.

After Nalak, DraNgNon decided that she wanted to level her pets while waiting for the closing ceremonies of the Wanderer's Festival. She was bombing around Felwood, and almost got her hands on a Minfernal. I've never even seen one spawn, but she almost gets one twice the first time she goes there at all. Just as well for me not going to jail that she didn't actually catch one.

While DraNgNon was leveling pets I was chatting with our new priest and a couple of other people. My usual GM thing to do when I have 5 chats going on is to fish. So Morn took up her fishing pole and hat and wandered about the lakes and beaches of Vale of Eternal Blossoms and Krasarang. The Bank of Balou has lots more fish, and Nat Pagel likes me a couple of Flying Tiger Gourami worth more. Regrettably, despite all my fishing in pools, there was no Sea Turtle for me.

I was going to continue my fishing extravaganza in the Mixed Highland Schools of Outland in the (vain, yes I know) hopes of a magical crawdad. However, before I made it all the way there I was distracted by trying for a mount from Anzu, and getting the last bit of rep from the Consortium. Failing to get a Ravenlord mount, I went off to Magister's Terrace to see if there was a white chicken mount available. Also no. Stupid low drops. Rivendare in Stratholm also had no mount.

It was almost time for sleeping by then so I decided that a quick run through Tempest Keep would be a good way to finish the night. Especially since there are new pets available from the BC raids. Al'ar, Void Reaver, and Solarian all drop new battlepets. The only tricky bit with killing any of them was when I got cocky and didn't clear Solarian's trash before pulling her. I'd forgotten that her trash will MC, so the fight took roughly three times as long as it should have because I would get MC, she'd despawn, and then just as the MC wore off she'd respawn and repull. It was hilarious, though DraNgNon did give me some odd looks when Solarian kept spouting her on pull lines. Oh and Void Reaver was annoying, since he is immune to diseases and silenced me the whole time, I couldn't use all of my abilities on him. Still easy to kill though.

I finished up with a quick kill of Kael'thas. Well, I say quick, but I really mean it still took a long time because he's got timers built in. So it doesn't matter how fast you kill his weapons, you've still got to wait 2 minutes before he'll rez and sic all four of his advisors on you at once. Honestly I'm not sure how any other class deals with that phase of the fight. I pop Army of the Dead just in time for my army to kill the advisors while I spend the next 40 seconds alternating fears, silences, and stuns. If I didn't have army I'm really not sure how I'd ever exit that phase. Of course, no mount love from Kael'thas. However, I did get the pets from both Void Reaver and Al'ar.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Story Progression in Pandaria

Patch 5.3 is here. We've got a bunch of new things. Heroic Scenarios, entirely new Scenarios, new battle ground, and new story.

I've tried a few heroic scenarios so far. As one guildie put it, we're just killing raid trash. They don't seem particularly difficult, as long as you know what you're doing. The heroic scenarios easier to do if you have either a tank or a healer in the group, but you'll have a harder time getting the timed extra Valor Points if you don't go with three dps. Basically the heroic scenarios are now a pretty speedy way to get your Valor.

I've done all four of the new scenarios on heroic. They are interesting in terms of the story they advance. It's nice to see the Alliance get some character development, both for King Varian and for Moira Bronzebeard, regent of the Darkirons. Conversely it's both sad and enlightening to see the way that the Horde is being driven apart. Garrosh is after power for the Horde and the orcs from any source. And not only that but he is trying to apply the orcs' cultural values to the other races.

The new story is all about Vol'jin finally being over Garrosh. Well, he was over Garrosh at the start of Cata, but now he's recovered from the assassination attempt. Now Vol'jin has organized the trolls and is actively rebelling against Garrosh. He fully intends to carry out his threat to shoot Garrosh in the back once everyone sees what a terrible leader he is.

Garrosh is, of course, trying to suppress this rebellion. He's got the Troll section of Orgrimmar under martial law. There are Kor'kron enforcers stationed everywhere. If you try to buy anything the vendor they will suggest you go else where, and glance meaningfully at the enforcers.

There is also a set of battles happening in the Northern Barrens and Sen'jin Village. Garrosh is trying to amass supplies to fortify Org, and Vol'jin is trying to get those supplies instead. The player is sent to help Vol'jin's efforts. The Horde get to defend Sen'jin and raid Northern Barrens.

The Alliance also have the Northern Barrens raiding going on. They are basically there because it's sound strategy. Either they help overthrow Garrosh and the Horde is nicer to deal with and peace (or at least a cease-fire) is possible. Or they help weaken Garrosh who has to put more effort into putting down his rebellion. Either way the Horde is weakened by their civil war.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Troll Council Dead

This past Tuesday Darkfall had a pretty good raid in Throne of Thunder. Our work-beleaguered holy priest has finally gotten a better boss and managed to change his schedule so he can raid with us again. Also the OT has gone through several bouts of indecision and after going through the first set of raids in Pandaria on his pally he is now swapped through monk, warlock, and druid, and back to pally. I also managed to pull in a nicely balanced set of high-powered dps.

Anyway we marched into ToT and proceeded to one-shot Jin'rokh as we've done for a while now. We then had a nice two-shot of Horridon. I was impressed that we actually got him down on the second try, especially since right at the end of the fight the OT, monk healer, and our hunter all DC'd. Fortunately the OT had already used bubble on me to clear my Puncture stacks so I was good to go for staying alive while the angry dino attempted to gore me.

Killing Horridon so quickly left us with plenty of time to bash our heads against the Troll Council. We'd had several attempts against them in the past couple of weeks. And had a pretty good grasp of the strategy we were using, which was to zerg (within reason) Sul the Sandcrawler. We put two melee on him and everyone else was supposed to multi-dot Sul but still kill the current empowered target and both flavors of annoying Loa Spirits.

We had a couple of wipes where Frost King ate the tanks. We had been taunting him back and forth during his stacking tank debuff, but that was leading to death as the tank healer couldn't keep up or keep track of who needed more heals. So then the pally OT wanted to try taking Frost King the whole time. His brother then tank healer, thought this was a good idea so... I figured we'd try it at least once. If it failed horribly, we'd swap back and be more careful about tank heals and CDs. Surprisingly it actually worked out pretty well. We also changed it so that the monk healer was ONLY healing the pally tank, so the two of them could coordinate their CDs. This left the holy priest dealing with the raid and my health, but since I never had Frost King on me I didn't take all that much damage from Mar'li, and if there was a big spike I popped a CD.

It was more than a little hairy, but with Death Grip always available (because I never accidentally got popsicled) the Loa spirits were never even close to being an issue. It also helped that our monk healer and our OT are brothers and so were quite good at coordinating their CDs. So the tank always had his own or a monk CD to live through getting frozen.

Anyway, the first time we killed Sul we killed the whole group of them. The entire fight becomes an order of magnitude easier without him around. No sand traps, less tank damage, more dps on the loa spirits and whoever is empowered; it was pretty much cake after Sul was dead.

I had made a handy dandy macro and bound it to my Razer Naga keypad when we first encountered the Troll Council. Once the Loa spirit appeared I hit the macro for a nice slow. Only when it'd slooowly gone a ways did I death grip it back to me.

/target Blessed Loa Spirit
/target Shadowed Loa Spirit
/cast Chains of Ice