Category: Guide


BfA Pet Team

Iron Starlette Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling
Clockwork Gnome Swamp Croaker
Teroclaw Hatchling Ikky
Nexus Whelpling Nether Faerie Dragon
Feline Familiar Rapana Whelk (x2)
Pandaren Water Spirit Darkmoon Zeppelin
Chrominius Zanalari Kneebiter
Yellow Moth

These are the fifteen pets I use to defeat all 22 Pet Tamers in the 6 BfA zones. If you have to level some pets to max level, 25, then these are as good a group as any. Once you’ve got them to 25 then check out the strategies in the BfA Pet Tamers blog entry (to follow) for how to use one or two of them to level up others.

Levelling

However, how do you get your first group of pets to 25? Well, there are two approaches a good, efficient and quick way and a bad, inefficient and slow way. The inefficient way is to take your pets to Durotar and level some up pet battling against low level, 1 – 2, wild pets. Then move on to Northern Barrens, level 3 – 4, Ashenvale, level 4 – 6…

Or if you have 2 decent level 25 pets you fight level 25 opposition and get a much bigger XP boost, and level up much faster with one level 1+ pet, than you can fighting level appropriate opposition (the inefficient way). The only obvious caveat here is that your two level 25 pets need to be good enough to beat 3 level 25 wild pets. If you don’t have two level 25 pets capable of tearing a new one for three opponents then you may have to start from scratch and level some good all-rounders the slow inefficient way.

Get the right pets

Take a quick look at this table. What this table shows is that some pets families for example Aquatic pets (top), are particularly good against some pets, Elementals and Undead, while being bad against others, in this case Magic and Flying. So it’s really helpful to have at least 10 robust and hard hitting pets one from each family. Whether you grind up some other pets the hard way or buy them from the Auction House here is a great selection of easily obtainable pets you would benefit from having in your collection

FamilyFirst choiceGood Alternative
DragonkinEmerald Proto-Whelp

Sholazar Basin
Nexus Whelpling

Coldara, Borean Tundra.
UndeadUnborn Val’kyr

very specific locations, one in every Northrend zone.
Infected Squirrel

Silverpine, Bloodmyst Isle, Hillsbrad, Eastern Plaguelands.
MechanicalMechanical Pandaren Dragonling

Engineering.
Lil’ Smoky

Engineering (you will need to upgrade to rare with a special stone).
HumaniodAnubisath Idol

Temple of Ahn’Qiraj
Flayer Youngling

Terrokar Forest.
FlyingYellow Moth

Vendor: Sixx, The Exodar
Ikky

Quest: Ikky [97]: Spires of Arak
CrittersRapana Whelk, or pretty much any snail

Dread Wastes, Pandaria
Arctic Hare or any rabbit/hare

Borean Tundra, Dragonblight, Zul’Drak, The Storm Peaks
MagicLofty Libram

Hillsbrad Foothills
Mini Mindslayer

Temple of Ahn’Qiraj
ElementalShale Hatchling (any colour)

Desolace, Deepholm
Electrified Razortooth

Isle of Thunder, Pandaria
BeastsTwilight Spider

Azshara, Deepholm, Twilight Highlands
Alpine Foxling (Kit)

Kun-Lai Summit, Townlong Steppes
AquaticsEternal Strider

Vale of Eternal Blossoms
Emperor Crab

Dread Wastes

Why two lists? Why isn’t the second list just an expanded version of the first? Well, the first list is the pets required to defeat the BfA Pet Tamer battles. These are a little more challenging and require very specific pets and strategies to defeat them, usually with two 25s and a carry (to get good levelling XP). The second list are solid selections from each pet family for defeating a wide range of wild pets.

With the starter set above you should have few problems defeating wild pets to expand your collection. If you struggle bear two things in mind. Use the right family to beat the opponent pet. One family that does extra damage or has extra defence to damage from pets of the opponents family. If this still isn’t working look at the opponents attacks. Many pets are one family but can do attacks of another family. So perhaps you’ll need a pet with extra defence against the family of attacks the opponent does, not the family the pet is from.

For example, Spiny Terrapin is an Aquatic pet, unsurprisingly it does Aquatic attacks, but it also has Critter and Beast attacks. If you are using a pet that is strong against Aquatic attacks but weak to Beast or Critter attacks you may be using the wrong pet.

How To level 1+ pets

The key to levelling 1+ pets with two 25s, against level 25 opposition is getting the Level 1+ pet to face opponents without taking damage. Easier said that done. Actually it’s easier done than explained. Do battle with a level 25 to start with. When the pet dies bring in your level 1+. Your very next turn should be used to Switch Pet to the second Level 25. It is key that you bring in the Level 1+ after another pet dies. Do not attempt to attack or dodge, your very next move is to Switch Pet the other Level 25. The Level 1+ pets is carried, so the two Level 25 pets should be capable of finishing at least one and a half level 25 opponents.

This primer is intended to help you start a collection. Build an initial stable of level 25 pets and with this stable get more pets. Eventually you will collect the pets in the first list you really need for current content. With the stable of starter pets you quickly level up new pets to 25 using the easy, efficient and faster method. Soon you’ll have a strong pet collection with which you can easily acquire more and more wild pets and accumulate the tokens from battles with which you can buy more vendored pets. You can go from very few pets to large collection in no time. However the initial grind to start out may be a little tricky, if you invest you time and effort in the right pets at the start you’ll be laughing in the long run.

Good luck and have fun

Sylvanas, just because.

Sylvanas, just because.

Raiding starts on Wednesday… /sigh Here are a selection of things I could never see again and it would still be too soon.

standinfireDPS standing in the fire. Healers can just heal right through, right? Movement, especially for many casters means nerfing DPS, so why move, even if the ground around you is on fire? I’m DPS my job is maximum damage period. I’m top of the DPS metre so I’m doing it right. Wrong. The DPS job is twofold: maximise DPS while taking as little healing as possible. If healers are expending time/mana on healing you the tank isn’t getting it. If the tank dies because you stood in the fire and got healing instead everyone dies, not just you. So don’t simply blame healers if there is a wipe. If there is a wipe ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

whyyoudeadPlayers asking for healing. If you are perilously low on health do something yourself to rectify this. If you’re DPS take pots/health stones or simply die quietly. The healers have addons to make healing everyone, especially those with very low health, efficient and effective. Either you will get healing or you will die because your healer decided that was the lesser of two evils. If your healer keeps going out-of-mana ask yourself why that is? It’s probably because too much mana is being spent on damage that should not be taken. Get out of the fire, getting out of the fire and avoiding predictable damage is your job. If you’re the tank keeping you alive’s a high priority. If your health is low pop all your cooldowns and baten down the hatches the healers are having a tough time. Asking for healing will not help and will not get you healed any quicker. Asking for healing, especially if you’re the tank, will most likely only piss off the healers. Low health? Deal with it. If you died ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

wipe2Players asking for tanking. If you’re DPS chances are you nuked too soon. No one has to wait for three sunders any more, but at least wait for the tank to pull…keep pulling mobs out of the tank’s nicely organised pack? When it doubt assist the tank and target his target. It’s not hard and it’s not rocket science. If you’re running away from the mobs you pulled fine, that’s avoiding some melee damage. If you’re running away from the tank you deserve to die. I never want to see another healer or DPS running away back through the already cleared dungeon with a pack of mobs in pursuit followed by a disgruntled tank. If you really want to drop aggro go stand with the tank and stop DPS. OMG I’ll be last on the metre! You will be alive. Let me explain this very carefully for the dumbest amongst you: dead DPS does no damage, does not finish on top of metre. If something went wrong ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

Tspirithealerhe DPS is too low for this fight. This is the most annoying statements of all. What does higher DPS achieve? A quicker kill. What does a quicker kill achieve? It reduces the number of cycles of the fight mechanic or in extreme cases prevents the boss from even entering one of their phases. This is just over-gearing the fight. Your raid team isn’t good enough to work the mechanic of the fight so you need to circumvent it by reducing the number of times they have to organise themselves. If you opt to drop your lowest DPS and bring in (better geared) higher DPS then you’ll need to do this forever. If your raid team is so awful at working the mechanic on a certain boss it is tempting to bring in better players, with more experience of this encounter and better gear. If you need carrying on this boss, you’re definitely going to need carrying on later bosses. Plus your ‘weaker’ players, rotated out because of low DPS won’t get gear…in relative terms how much better will these players be at the next boss? A raid team is fighting it’s way up a downward moving escalator. If you make someone miss a boss while you forge on they don’t stay where they are they move down quicker than you move up. Skip them one week for better geared, higher DPS players then you might as well drop them permanently their gear is not progressing with the raid so they’ll always be bottom of the metre.

spirithealer2Furthermore, stating the DPS is too low is piss poor raid leading and playing. How much higher do you think the DPS of the world first guilds is on the same bosses as you? In their gear? A fraction. Just because they’re the best players in the world doesn’t mean they can magical pull gigantic DPS out of their arses. Don’t get me wrong knowing how to play your class and when to pop your cooldowns will get you more DPS, but not compared to gear. The world’s best guilds aren’t the world’s best guilds because they can out DPS you. They succeed because they can organise themselves, cope when things go sideways and always know how to execute a strategy. They work the fight mechanics. “We need more DPS, to stop the boss going into phase x three times.” Bullshit, you need to train your raid team to cope with phase x more skilfully. Method can do phase x all day and slowly chip away the boss’s health until they’re dead. What you’re actually saying is: “We’re so shambolic and god awful we have to nuke hard and try to avoid another repetition of one of the fight phases because our team is made up of hopeless players who can’t learn.” If this is the case, whatever your ranking on WoWProgress that’s not your guild progress your guild is not 8/9 heroic, you’re probably 4/9 heroic and 8/9 carried by players from better guilds. I’d rather fight with my friends to 4/9 than get carried to 9/9 with friends left out. I want my team to succeed. It’s not my team with two PUGs from substantially more progressed guilds.

do_not_push_this_buttonOK I’ll activate the thing that keeps us alive then. Frequently someone has to push a button, stand somewhere, pick something up and take it to somewhere else. This also happens in LFR, often it’s decided that person A will do it. When it comes to it person A won’t and boom everyone dies seconds later. People will quit LFR because someone had the temerity to ask them to do the thing. When I’m in a guild group I never want to hear a silence when it’s asked who is going to do the thing. It usually requires a DPS (since your job is not important, see the last point if you don’t understand that) and usually one with a lot of mobility so they can still do DPS while doing the thing. However, it usually ends up being a warlock with not much mobility, or a mage with even less, volunteering to do the thing because no one else wants to. It’s a combination of bad and lazy that prevents better suited players volunteering. They also want to maximise their personal DPS (at the expense of someone else’s and the overall team DPS) which underlines how bad they are. It’s not complex or controversial: selfish players do not make good team members (no matter how high their DPS is). I think these mechanics in fights can tell you a lot about a person. If you assign doing the thing to the most appropriate character when the player doesn’t want it they probably won’t sign up for the raid next week. You may not see them again until after that boss is cleared and someone else has learned and now owns in that role. It’s possible they may not raid again (this often feeds into people who won’t raid or even join guilds and bitch about elitist, hardcore, inflexible, dictatorial guilds). Shut up and do your job.

spirithealer3The worst thing in any team is not understanding your role. Your role in the raid team is not to get loot from this boss. If you’re a tank your job is to marshal the mobs, keep them hitting you and keep yourself alive. Keeping a tank alive is not solely the healer’s job, tanks have cooldowns, talents and spells to heal and mitigate damage. If you’re top of the DPS metre as a tank, losing mobs and dying all the time you’re doing it wrong. Pick some more damage mitigation talents and tailor your build and performance to the fight. Healers: your job is to keep yourself alive first and foremost. If you forget to heal yourself you’re dead. If you’re dead no one gets heals, how long will the raid stay up? Your secondary job is helping the tank to stay up. If you’re targetting and directly healing a DPS, unless they’re taking damage because they’re doing the thing, you’re probably doing it wrong. Or the DPS is. DPS: you have two jobs. I’ll say that again: DPS, you have two jobs. Job 1) take no unnecessary damage; Job 2) DPS the right target. That order is not a mistake, if you’re taking unnecessary damage you’re probably dying too often too. Dead DPS does no DPS remember. If you’re standing in the fire so you can carry on DPS-ing chances are the healer is struggling to keep you alive when the tank goes pop and the raid wipes. Your DPS decreases in value to the team relative to the amount of damage you take during an encounter. You may top the DPS metre and not be the most valuable DPS.

sh4Especially if you’re not targetting the correct mob. Adds nearly always have priority, that’s a great rule of thumb. If adds spawn during a boss fight it’s usually your job to kill them as soon as possible. They often come in waves and if you don’t get on top of them during the first wave you’ll quickly be overwhelmed. If you’re too lazy or don’t want to switch your focus away from the boss to help with the adds then you’re not helping the team. Don’t point to the lowest DPS and blame them for the teams lack of progress, look at their damage targets. If they’re hitting multiple targets during the fight and all you’re on is the boss, it’s you you’re doing it wrong.

sh5Why are we wiping all the time? We’re wiping because we don’t know the fight and repeatedly doing the fight is the only way to practice your job and learn. Watching a video or reading a guide is all very well and essential preparation, but it’s no substitute for doing the fight and seeing the spell casts. Complaining about wiping in progression raids tells me two things about you. 1) You’re not fit for anything harder than LFR because you don’t like to wipe. Challenging content is not faceroll, it is not easy. So it will beat you. Again and again and again. Then you will learn your job, learn the mechanics of the fight and you will beat it. However, not before everyone has learned their role. 2) You’re not cut out for progression in any guild, you want to be carried by people who will do the thing for you and out-gear the content so you can simply turn up, statically DPS the boss, take your loot. You’re not a team player. If you’re already tired of seeing the spirit healer progression raiding is not for you. Get to LFR.

My number one rule for anyone who would like to be a better raider and make more progress with their guild is simple: If something went wrong ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

headThere’s enough to do in World of Warcraft to keep me playing since I’ve some back. Creating my own parameters and setting my own goal keeps me enjoying what I’m doing. Warlords of Draenor is what it is, it hasn’t changed, the dearth of patch content is still an issue and we remain sceptical about Legion and the future. The game is still there though: WoD raids are still among the best Blizzard have ever made; the excellent levelling process makes raising alts from 90 – 100 a joy; the older expansion content still exists and many; many things are left for us to complete.

So while I’m still annoyed and disappointed by Warlords of Draenor and won’t pay for a subscription myself the core game still interests me and I do have things to do. Indeed the farming of gold to finance my WoW Token purchase each month has become a mini game. What I have learned over the last two months is that if used properly the Garrison is useful and fun. The most important piece of wisdom I can share with you is: Garrisons, you’ll like them more the less time you spend in them. If you’re following my example and hacking your way to 60k gold each month (well that’s the price on Draenor-EU dammit) I’ve got some simple tips.

harvestYour Garrison(s).

One Level 3 Garrison and a good, epic fleet in your shipyard can deliver a couple of thousand gold on a good day (more). These days although not unusual aren’t every other. I’ve currently got three Horde level 100s and their Garrisons are (almost) fully optimized. I can easily turn over 2K a day easily with all three chars, a WoW Token costs 60K, so that puts me right on track to buy the token doing nothing every day except harvest my Garrisons.

Small buildings:

Level 2 Gem Boutique

JCRegardless of your professions you need one of these in all your garrisons. At level 2 you can assign a follower to work in the Boutique. This follower will offer a simple daily quest each day that with reward on average 250G. (That’s 40% of your daily requirement if you have three Gem Boutiques.)

Level 3 Salvage Yard

Literally money for nothing. You’ll potentially get an extra drop, Salvage Bag or Crate, from Follower missions. These contain trash items and green/blue transog/trash gear. Either vendor the gear (for around 25G) or disenchant it and auction the mats. This salvage also has a chance of Follower weapon/armour upgrades. This stuff is great.

Medium buildings

Level 2 Lunafall / Frostwall Inn

At level 2 an NPC inside your inn will give you a choice of three Followers to select from. You can set the Ability or Trait of your recruits and in this way you can fill out your roster with Treasure Hunters. Gold missions from the command table will yield two, sometime more, times the gold due to the Followers on the mission with this trait.

Large Buildings

War Mill / Dwarven Bunker

A no brainer. At level 3 the War Mill will yield one free Bonus Roll Token a week. For Garrison Resources and Iron Horde Scraps (dropping in raids and dungeons mainly) you can get more Follower armour and weapon upgrades. You’ll need these to speed your progress to 675 with all your Treasure Hunter followers. Ker-ching!

Barracks

Another no brainer: a level 3 Barracks allows you to have 5 more active followers. More active Followers means more Follower missions each day.

All Garrisons have a location for a mine and a herb garden. Ore and herbs are not a fabulous source of gold, many guides advise against levelling and harvesting. However, the gold return : time spent ratio is reasonable. Of course, to get the mine and garden to level 3 you’ll need 3850G and 1500 garrison resources. I expect to harvest a 200 stack of herbs every other day. The value of the stacks fluctuate and different herbs do have different values but for 300 – 400 gold every other day if you struggling to make your target this may assist in avoiding your two final options below. You’re going to need some ore and often a couple of herbs to complete the Gem Boutique daily so mine and herb garden are not bad plans, even if you only harvest what’s required for the daily. Harvesting both mine took me eleven minutes today and I was not approaching it as a time trial.

InnWith my three level 3 garrison and my treasure hunting / questing activities on my other chars I’m turning in 60K every 15 days. I can afford to toss some cash around, I can generate enough gold for my WoW Token in half the time required. So I can put my feet up and not do any of the following:

Cataclysm Raids

If you are skilled and play the right class then I guess you’re solo-ing old MoP raids. I’ve tried Throne of Thunder and found Jin’rokh more trouble than it was worth. For me that rules out the rest of ToT and Siege of Orgrimmar. I believe Mogu’shan Vaults and Heart of Fear are not impossible to solo at level 100. Give them a try I will be. I can reported that as a DPS class with very little mitigation

As for the Catacylsm raids I am happy to report my personal experience is that all are solo-able on heroic difficulty right up to Dragon Soul. Why do you want solo these old raids? Well in a couple or three hours when you vendored the contents of you bags, four or five times, you’ll find yourself about 5K better off. You can run these dungeons once a week, that’s 4 times in your WoW Token period. That’s around 22.5K or 35% of your token money, big hit relatively short time: 7 hours ¼.

I messed up and did Firelands on 10 man difficulty today, it took 35 minutes and yielded 1251G.

Bastion of Twilight on heroic difficulty took 23 minutes (including travel time) and yielded 1253G.

Blackwing Descent on heroic was all over in 15 minutes but did yield a surprising 1511G.

I completed Dragon Soul heroic in 36 minutes (up to the ‘loot ship’, skipping Spine and Madness) for a whopping 1642G.

alex1 hour 49 (109 minutes) to farm 5657G. That’s a respectable 3114G per hour.

LFR

Thanks to that ridiculous and useless Legendary Ring quest chain, farming out LFR for 900 stones, 33 tomes and a severed arm is an unfortunate necessity (if you’re into that kind of thing). LFR – whatever else you think of it – is a great source of gold. As Raider Finder is such an awful waste of time and a cesspool of the dregs of the player base, I urge you to only consider farming it on Wednesday, immediately after a the reset.

On a Wednesday raiders and competent players dip into LFR if they need to. In MoP Thursday and Friday were also viable for this purpose. These days with the halving of subscriber numbers and the further attrition we can now only guess at (Blizzard will publish no more subscriber figures) during the long final patch content desert, LFR is not worth venturing into after Wednesday each week. Your mileage may vary, you might get lucky, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Highmaul, Blackrock Foundry and Hellfire Citadel contain 15 wings between them. At 154 gold per wing that’s 2310 simply for getting through each wing, after your share of looted gold and the sale of any epics you won but don’t need you’re going to have ground out about 4k gold. If you have the stamina you can do this on multiple chars. Personally I can only bear to go in to grind out my legendary bits. With three chars at different stages of the Legendary cycle the upside is that at it’s worse I had to do Highmaul on one character, Blackrock Foundry on another and Hellfire Citadel on the last. The characters have moved up pretty much together and now I don’t need to even queue for HM and this week I got my last of 900 stones so BRF is finished too now.

This month I intend to finish levellingsleeping-on-piles-of-wow-gold-620px at least two more Horde characters: the Death Knight and Paladin. The garrisons should then quickly be able to deliver my WoW Token gold with very little outside effort. Then I can concentrate on having more fun, I’m even considering raiding again. Maybe with the Alliance.

This may seem like a large investment in gold generating activities just to get enough for WoW Tokens so I don’t need to subscribe until new content is released. However, no new content is coming until the next expansion and it’s unlikely we’ll see that before September, eight months from now. I’ll be utilizing this time to learn new gold farming techniques for when I’m too busy in Legion (fingers crossed) I’ll share anything simple I find. Anything complex you’ll be looking to someone else for help with.

For Bond he could’ve sampled a fart and looped if for three minutes for me.

Draenor Pet Tamers

This is also my suggested order for making you way around each day.

Tarr Team

Unborn Val’Kyr
Inested Bear Cub
Infected Squirrel

Strategy

Cast [Curse of Doom] followed by [Haunt] don’t worry that they hit different targets. Use [Maul] on cooldown and [Diseased Bite], [Bash] or [Hibernate] are not used. When Cub dies swap Val’Kyr back in and re-apply both dots if you can. Squirrel will mop up remains.

Taralune Team

Nether Fairie Whelp
Nexus Whelpling
Carry Pet

Strategy

Cast [Arcane Blast] twice (neither will hit) followed by [Moonfire], with >700 health consider [Life Swap] but ideally (RNG permitting) this should be your first attack on pet two. [Arcane Storm] then [Mana Surge] as usually unless the Fairie dragon has destroyed the first two pets. [Tail Sweep] will take the final pet low enough to swap in your carry pet (beware what level and family you swap in the moths are hard hitters).

Vesharr Team

Nexus Whelpling
Teldrassil Sproutling
Nether Fairie Dragon

Strategy

Straightforward one pet for one opponent fight.

Ashlei Team

Lil’Smoky
Carry Pet
Carry Pet

Strategy

Easiest fight ever. [Minefield], [Launch Rocket] and then nuke down the first pet with [Missile], when Elekk Plushie swaps in reapply [Minefield] first, [Missile]. The last pet will swap in. The [Minefield] explosion and [Launch Rocket] are overkill. Swap to your carry pet whenever you like the Elekk Plushie does no damage or healing.

Cymre Brightblade Team

Anubsath Idol
Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling
Pandaren Fire Spirit / Carry Pet

Strategy

Cast [Deflection] us this on cooldown to counter [Rot]. Below 400 health the Idol of Decay is likely to cast Dark Rebirth, it doesn’t matter if he does, you need approximately 1000 health to face the Lantern. When the Lantern swaps in either case [Deflection] or [Sandstorm], this is essential to reduce the Lantern to manageable levels of health. Use [Thunderbolt] and [Decoy] on cooldown and burn with [Breath]. The Dragonling can usually destroy the Clockwork Gnome pet (last) but any good elemental pet will teach it a lesson if the Dragon goes down.

Gargra Team

Menagerie Custodian
Tranquil Mechanical Yeti
Carry Pet

Strategy

These three wolf beasts hit hard. prioritise [Shock and Awe] and use [Zap] otherwise. Save [Ion Cannon] for just above dead (and rez) round. [Call lightning] and [Metal Fist] will tenderise the final pet and you can finish with a carry.

WoD ReleasedWoD-US-NormalBoxArtThere is so much that is new in this expansion that it will take more than one blog post to cover them all. This post will be my first impressions of opening of the expansion. My first impressions of Mists of Pandaria were very positive. I really liked the Jade Forest quest chain, but almost as soon as I entered the Valley of Four Winds the questing felt repetitive and began to drag. Krasarang and Townlong were zone failures for me and the appeal of questing waned until the Dread Wastes. The over-populated Klaxxi area offered old style questing: pull one mob and quickly get overrun with respawns, patrols and wanderers: it wasn’t for everyone. However, reaching max level in Pandaria revealed the shortcomings in Blizzard‘s initial design. The Daily Quest grind was appalling and their replacement of 5 man content with three man scenarios was flawed. Any idea of levelling alts to have to put through that grind was off-putting for most players and subscribers left in droves. For this reason it’s worth bearing in mind that these are my first thoughts of the opening and levelling quests in Draenor. My opinions of the whole expansion will not being to form until I sample end game content at max level.

Blizzard are really upping the ante in the opening of this expansion. We’re back the Warcraft lore and history we all know and love. Not only are we back in Draenor, before it became Outlands, we’re confronting lore figures the size of which we have not seen since we put Arthas to the sword. No stitched together dragon conveniently wreaking havoc and breaking up a world we need to completely redesign, no jolly fat Pandaran’s and Sha in a land beyond the Mists that were never more than a footnote in Warcraft lore

BlackhandNow we’re fighting alongside Durotan (a bit shorter than we all expected) and Khadgar against the forces of Kargath (the horde camp in the Badlands was named after this lore giant), Blackhand, Naz’hul, Grommash (of the Hold in the centre of Orgrimmar) Hellscream, Gul’dan, Mannoroth…and the world seems huge and more epic. From the first moments bursting through the Dark Portal to stem the flow of the tide of the Iron Horde we’re caught up in an epic struggle to secure a foothold in a violent and chaotic land. Even after reaching the bench mark of max level, 100, Draenor continues to feel vast, sweeping and engaging. I hate to say I told you so but…er, yeah. No flying in Draenor, even at 100, keeps the world large. To demonstrate my point take a ride to Rilzit’s Holdfast in Nagrad on your ground mount, then fly back to your Garrison. Point made.

GuldanWhich segue-ways seamlessly, like a professional writer, into the Garrison. Which is great fun. Then again I love the Tiller’s Farm and had all sixteen slots open on six characters. The cut-scene heavy (they’re thankfully all quite short) first frenetic fight to establish yourself in Draenor‘s Tanaan Forest is over pretty quick and then you’re immediately trust into Frostridge and instructed to build a garrison that you will then command. With this relatively simple device Blizzard have created player housing, an activity hub, a profession centre and created the feeling that you are a high ranking and important member, a commander, of the Horde army. A very refreshing change from the days when you Thrall and Sylvannas raged through the Battle for the Undercity and crushed the coup d’état, returning control of the Forsaken to Sylvannas. How did it feel the next time you had to report to Sylvannas and she says “Who are you then?” “Cheers bitch, I’m the one who helped you recapture Undercity remember?” She still looks unsure. “I’m the one who isn’t Thrall!”

Your Garrison squarely places you at the heart of the Horde operation, able to send out minions to complete missions, craft trade goods and fight beside you against the Iron Horde. I could talk about Garrison’s all day, but suffice to say you get very attached to yours very quickly and it’s a joy to see it swell, grow and deliver more and more. You literally start with a possible defensive position with some natural resources. You need to clear the area of wild mobs and organise your few peons to chop down some trees. You literally start from nothing.

I wanted to start on a positive note because this expansion is so good, possibly Blizzard‘s best, the Garrisons are great and the levelling experience is best I’ve had since at least Wrath. The game is re-invigorated. People are always telling me how good Warcraft is and that Blizzard, although they make the occasional mistake, do know what they’re doing and I should trust them and accept every decision they make as a good one. Well, honestly Blizzard have fucked up so badly in one respect, they have dropped an enormous clanger and frankly demonstrated some fundamental confusion about their own design goals (again). Of course I’m talking about the loot debacle.

qqI’m not going to bemoan the problems of the Warlords of Draenor launch when Blizzard was frankly overwhelmed with new and returning subscribers. Allegedly they’ve swelled subscribers numbers by two and half million, back to The Burning Crusade levels, to in excess of ten million. Despite a lot of (vacuous?) beta testing (by anyone and their dog?) the initial release of Draenor was bug ridden and still demonstrates some quite sizeable glitches now. People couldn’t log on, get into Garrisons, I still can’t reliably open profession panels and craft goods on all my characters, I can’t always loot goods in instance or manufactured in the Garrison, my mailbox is always full of items from the Postmaster…most of these problems have been resolved and frankly there was a lot of QQ and bitch-whining about waiting for minutes to log onto full realm servers, something not seen since vanilla, but this only lasted for two to three days and life is to short to dwell on these transient issues.

Server downThe loot problem is fundamental and highlights the probability that Blizzard is a victim of it’s own success has become quite a large company and has a large development team working on World of Warcraft. This is good because we can expect a constant stream of high quality, compelling content. The downside is that design briefs get watered down, misinterpreted and misunderstood and the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

I applauded when I heard Reforging was leaving the game. Reforging was interesting when gear was slightly more black and white. You want to ensure you meet this level of one stat, a soft or hard cap (Hit, Expertise, Dodge, Parry, Block, Defence whatever) and these stats aren’t that easy to find on gear. You need to balance because these stats do not directly increase your DPS, HPS or TPS. So every stat point over the cap is a waste, you want to be as near to the cap as you can, preferably just over it. One of the secondary stats will probably be very good for you, so some DPS gear very clearly has the optimal stats for you and another piece is sub-optimal. Reforging came along to help you cap essential stats, reforge out of excess stats, reforge sub-optimal stats into optimal stats and make your gear as powerful as it could conceivably be. Interesting.

Simply gearHowever, during Mists of Pandaria gear got plentiful and easy to get. Hit et al were derisory, the were so easy to cap and most reforging involved getting rid of the excess, we were swimming in Hit and it stopped being an interesting stat because of that. Reforging became at it’s core getting rid of Hit and creating a useful stat. It became obligatory despite a complete reforging of all gear never delivering more than 4 or 5% damage. Boring get rid of it. Blizzard agreed. When an exciting piece of loot dropped in a raid they wanted you to be excited, get that loot on! You may need to carry an enchant or two on a scroll in your bag a couple of gems but you could do that. Gem and enchant that epic loot you’ve just won and get it on!

I’ve just won a piece of epic loot and I will equip it tomorrow after I’ve been to a website and worked out the best combination of gear (from my bag and bank) and how to reforge it all to reach the cap and maximise my DPS (or whatever). No! NO! NO! Let’s get rid of stats you simply have to cap. Everyone does, job 101 at max level Hit (etc.) cap. Get rid of reforging, no more min-/max-ing and shuffling all those stats around to get the most Crit, Hit while reaching the next nearest Haste ‘breakpoint’ (or whatever). No, you get the loot you get, you enchant and gem it and get it equipped.

Maths is comingSo why randomise all the potential stats and add some new tertiary ones: Versatility, Multistrike and Avoidance?! Yes, people are farming the same content (extending it’s viable lifespan) to get the same drop with different stats, but with all these new stats and no way to equalise stat distribution on different gear with Reforging how can you evaluate what is and what isn’t better gear. Is it an upgrade? Good question and my answer to you is SIMULATIONCRAFT. Or go download a spreadsheet.

Now raiders, you will say, were always doing this. If we weren’t sure between two competing items we had in our bag we simm-ed it out and calculated which one was (even marginally) better. Now it’s very difficult to tell whether one piece of gear is better than another, even for the most casual of players. Most people (even in my guild) are labouring under the misapprehension that higher item level still maps to better gear. Look again. I have a blue, 615 trinket with 146 Intellect on it! 146 Int – that knocks almost all of the the ilvl 630 trinkets into a cocked hat. What if I get a warforged Heroic item though? What is I get it one with new tertiary stats? Say Multistrike which is some good for ‘locks? I don’t know!? This is one small, trivial example, with the randomised stats and chance for warforged items how can you be sure whether or not you’re getting an upgrade or not? Item level is no longer the simple rule of thumb for evaluating gear. If you want to know whether it is an upgrade or not you going to have to get out your pencil and slide rule. Or use someone else’s calculating spreadsheet. Enjoy.

It’s been a great start! Garrisons are great fun, but Blizzard needs to fix the loot going forward and soon. Raid loot is already non-randomised. This cannot stand beyond the next patch, sort it out guys, you had a plan now stick to it.

ownguildGAH! OK, people usually form guilds for one of three reasons. 1) We were in a guild and they stuffed us so we’re going to form our own so we can be the ones doing the stuffing. 2) We were in a guild and they stuffed us so we’re going to form our own and do things nice and fair. 3) Both 1) and 2) really, they say it’s 2) but they end up doing 1) a lot.

gquit-fishfeastPeople are always telling me that running is a guild is hard. Hmmm…being a guild officer is easy, being a GM is tiresome (QUIT WHISPERING ME ALL THE TIME AS SOON AS I LOG ON!) Guild running is easy peasy. People management is another thing entirely. Getting ten people organised and together to raid can be like herding cats. Stopping them taking loot and moving to a “better” guild, leaving the average gear level of your raid unchanged after is hard. Guild leaders have no real power, in the final analysis the only thing GMs own is a name: nothing of any real significance. GMs and Officer’s only have as much authority as members choose to give them.

If you’re going to form your own guild it’s worth knowing how it is. Everyone who plays World of Warcraft is an arsehole. You’re an arsehole too. I am definitely an arsehole (have you read this blog?). There are basically three types of arsehole in WoW.

spam1) Arsehole Type 1: your common or garden arseholes. They ninja loot, they’re arrogant, aggressive, elitist, racist, sexist, homophobic, raid raging morons, we all agree they’re arseholes. 2) The second type of arsehole is all those feckin’ cool people! You know “Oh yeah, they’re cool. no drama” What ever happens they never complain, never object, never cause any drama. You can have Arsehole Type 1 ranting in guild chat some horrific or stupid stuff and your Arsehole Type 2 has nothing to say. Even after the Arsehole Type 1 gets kicked out of the guild, Arsehole Type 2 has no expressed opinion, nothing at all to say on the matter. That’s why they’re an arsehole, they’re not cool and easy going, they only seem so because they never give you anything. They’re the same seething mass of ire as Arsehole Type 1 and if they get pissed off they will /ragequit the guild but you’ll never get them to tell you why, what went wrong or what you might be able to do better. The majority of people playing WoW are Arsehole Type 2, they think that the only thing worse than an opinion is expressing it: that’s drama. ARSEHOLES! 3) Arsehole Type 3 is your raging drama llama. They have an opinion on everything. Most of the time you’re pumping the “cool guys” to express any opinion, you will already know Arsehole Type 3‘s opinion. Just try shutting the drama queen up for five minutes.

opinionSo if you set do up a new guild with some “cool people” from your previous guild be aware that the first time you try to do it your way their reaction might not be what you expected. Express an opinion or take an action and you’ll quickly discover you’re not actually on the same page at all liked you’d assumed. You may see them move quickly from being the drama light, opinion free, “easy going guy” to being the out-of-order, selfish, /ragequiting Arsehole Type 1. You may find yourself drawn towards Arsehole Type 3 – at least you know where you stand, know what they really think and can reasonably expect them to behave in a way consistent with they’ve said.

So everyone who plays World of Warcraft is an arsehole, but you still fancy running your own guild? Let me tell you the circumstances in which running a guild is straightforward. If your guild can and does raid early in the new expansion, two or three weeks after the raids are actually released, you’ll be OK. If you can guarantee raids every week on each of your raid nights. things will go smoothly. If the same people can raid every week and get decent gear you’ll get decent progression, you’ll be fine.

Flex will solve many problems and create new ones. It’ll make it easier for small, friendly guilds to manage their raiding roster: basically they can take everyone raiding who turns up. Sadly, because the raids won’t be so keenly balanced, people who have no real raiding commitment, and have gear and skill to match, will be able to go raiding and perhaps get the gear the more regular and committed raiders really need. If the committed raider got the gear, raid progress would be stronger too (it’s not rocket science). Guilds who show less backbone in saying No to casual, poorly geared raiders will progress slower and gearing will be slower for all raiders. “Core” raiders will drift and probably leave for a more rigorous guild with stronger selection, better progression and faster gear accruing. That’s life, this is how guilds live now. Flex may simply accelerate and reinforce this.

55721796This is the social guild dilemma. “Core” raiders turn up every week, do a pretty good job and if they’re all there progression usually follows. “Casual” raiders are accommodated: they don’t turn up every week and often their presence actually hinders progression. Core raiders move on for better progression. In MoP, guilds could struggle to raise 10 people to raid some weeks and really needed the commitment from their more “casual” raiders that they will simply never get. More “Core” raiders leave so they can raid more regularly and the guild really starts to struggle. I think Flexible raid sizes will help as you can now realistically recruit more than 10 really committed raiders and guarantee them raiding every week, no one gets benched.

If you’re thinking about starting your own guild in Warlords of Draenor so you and your mates can get all the raiding and all the gear, at the expense of the poor unfortunates you recruit, I cannot stop you, as much as I’d like to. If you’re thinking of starting a raid guild that tries to do things fairly for everyone, not just you and your officers, good luck! Running a guild is like herding cats, after you’ve been doing it for a while you’ll be forgiven for thinking that everyone is an arsehole. Worse still everyone is an arsehole sharpening a knife for your back.

Best of luck and enjoy. It’s a game remember.itsagame

6.0.2 debacle

Vanilla-World-of-Warcraft-LoginWorldMap-Barrens-oldI do remember vanilla, really I do. I do not have rose tinted beer goggles about it. “I love you man…you’re my favourite expansion…I fushing love you.” I remember what patch days used to be like then. I remember the queues to log on to highly populated realms (all of them). I remember the chronic lag and the disconnects. I have to ask though, 6.0.2 worst patch ever? Probably not, but worst for a long time? Definitely. Blizzard /facepalming themselves hard and trying to pretend it’s all under control? Oh you bet they are.

picard-wtf-meme-generator-play-a-warrior-they-said-it-will-be-fun-they-said-6daa33Ten classes and 31 specs, how do they really expect to balance three roles? Honestly you have to ask WTF is going on when tanks can out DPS pure DPS classes. With the Active Mitigation model and changes to healing Blizzard has simply confused themselves. Tanks are healing themselves through phases of boss spike damage, healers are actively trying to slack off in fights to conserve and regenerate mana, DPS is running around just trying to survive until the end of the encounter without any healing and because moving and casting isn’t possible any more, no wonder tanks are out DPS-ing them. Confused? You will be.

World of Warcraft Talents #1

Ah the good old days, when talents were…rigidly prescribed.

Blizzard said they we’re going to prune spells. Every expansion we’ve got a couple more and it’s getting out of hand. You needed bars all over the screen to accommodate them all! Warlocks make a very simple example of this philosophy and what went wrong. Curse of Elements is a debuff always applied every boss fight, no thought, no choice, no relevance, that is not interesting, bin it off, get rid of it. Good, nice one Blizzard. Malefic Grasp gone. Fine, Affliction locks didn’t really like it. We always loved that we maintained our DoTs and cast Shadow Bolt with that nice long cast as a filler. When the twenty percent execute phase hit, Bloodlust, Time Warp, classes going nuts, we ‘locks put our feet up on the desk and cast the long channelled Drain Soul took a sip of brandy, smoked a cigar. Drain Soul gave us a wealth of Soul Shards so refreshing DoTs was a simple Soul Burn, Soul Swap…back to Drain Soul and cigar.

6kobzForget all about that, they nerfed the Drain Life build because they didn’t want Affliction Warlocks channelling through fights like Shadow Priests…then they took Shadow Bolt off us and gave us Malefic Graspa channelled spell! Now they’ve taken that away after one expansion and our new filler spell is…Drain Soul! The only problem is that it regenerates Soul Shards so quickly they’ve had to heavily nerf it and give us a level 100 talent to compensate! So until level 100 in WoD Affliction will be broken, AGAIN! Meh, that’s QQ, this is a dead phase, between now and WoD nothing will be going on apart from class balancing. 90 is now just another level, we’ll never be this overgeared at this level again, this will just be a point on a char’s journey to max level like 5 or 72. However, Our execute phase spell is now our filler? A channelled filler again!? WTF do we do at 20% now?

Let’s say this simply and clearly: Hunters are broken. We know it, they’ve admitted it.

I liked having to move in MoP. Raids are not LFR you do not stand in fire and expect to be healed through. Your job is to move to a safe place and cast. Then they took moving and casting off ranged classes. No doubt WoD encounters will retain some movement component, but it will likely be less because of the lack of casts while moving, but in 6.0.2 content, one year old Siege of Orgrimmar content, all casters are pretty much screwed.

Undead Models

No wonder Rutå (the one on the left!) looks so fucking surprised, shocked and dismayed.

This one was always going to be controversial. They had eight years to improve the appearance and update the original character models so they were a good as Goblins, or even Blood Elves or Draenai…no, don’t mention the poor Worgens (LMFAO). My first reaction on logging in was WTF have they done to the Forsaken. My second thought was to visit the Barber Shop to sort myself out. After scrolling through all the options for face, features and hair my final thought was ‘WTF I can turn this shit off right?’ Genuinely I’m yet to hear one person say “I think they did a really good job with the new models.”

Show Char models1-9Actually, to be fair Orcs are vastly improved and rolling is Troll isn’t completely retarded anymore. They are no longer competitive with Worgens for stupidest class. “Cor blimey, Mary Poppins. Can I sniff your butt as we go up the old happles and pears, gawd bless yah.” Sniff. Snuffle. Sniff.

Some things are good though, I mean I wanted to remove all my addons and reinstall them slowly over five days. Seriously, the Addon Panel is long overdue. Being able to turn addons on and off in game, before a quick reload, should’ve been in the game forever ago. The Toy Box is fantastic. I need a junk box now though – to throw all the useless shit that I hoard into (anything fishing related, for example, the Seventh Place Fishing Prize (grey) and the Old Seadog Pipe (white)).

OK, OK, I admit it patch 1. 9.0 Ahn’Qiraj was much worse.

SoOguide2

“So late in the expansion, WTF is this for?” Well, my friends. If you are thinking about trying Heroic raiding (that’s the new ‘normal’ mode for Warlords of Draenor) with your guild in the next expansion, two months away, and you’ve never raided before this is your time to learn some of the skills that are required. Let’s use LFR to train ourselves, let’s be the guy that just quietly dispels everyone, interrupts the killer boss move, stands in the right place to stop adds respawning, the one who kills the engineer, the guy that knows how the fight should be done and instead of screaming at everyone else who is not doing it just gets on with business and tries to see to it that the boss is killed and the LFR group moves on.

LootSpecThis guide is for you. Here are the nuggets you really need to know (and some extra info in brackets). If you need to read and understand this stuff I suggest your may be entering Siege of Orgrimmar for the first time, so I urge you again don’t tank or heal, go see the fight as DPS, get to know it, set your Loot Specialization to ‘tank’ or ‘heal’ but queue as and do DPS. Good luck fellow traveller.

galakrasPhase 1

This is a simple fight for DPS, but let’s finesse it. Waves of adds spawn up the hill and run down to attack you and more importantly the Horde (meh, or Alliance) leaders standing behind you. The main adds for you to concentrate on are Bonecrushers, they will charge and cause Fractures which do massive damage to the NPCs (Sylvannas, Lor’themar and Aethas). If even one of the NPCs dies it’s a wipe. So kill the Bonecrushers ASAP and interrupt their charges. Use any interrupt you have including knock-backs to prevent Fracture damage.

Otherwise focus fire on the Shaman who will heal the Bonecrushers and other mobs and mobs healing is always bad. If you can influence where the mobs are tanked have them tanked on the Flamestrike Aethas drops, it does 200K damage every 2 secs to all mobs.

Volunteer to join the “Tower group” and assault the the two towers either side of the road. There’s just a few things to remember:

1) Don’t even make your way to the towers until the first Kor’kron Demolisher has arrived and taken heavy damage (and has say 25% health remaining).

2) Don’t enter the tower without the tank (and ideally a healer).

3) The mini boss on top of the tower has a frontal cone attack: natural DO NOT stand in it. Perching in the top of the stairs of the first tower is a good plan because he has a tendency to knock you off. Try not to fall down the stairs (warlock may find dropping their teleport a life saver).

4) Make sure someone (if no one else you) rappels down the rope on the road side of the tower (in the corner nearest the raid). Be the DPS who returns after capturing the second tower climb up the rope, gets in the cannon and helps shoot down Galakras. Volunteer yourself if no one else offer at the start.

5) After capturing the first tower drop down and rejoin the raid DPSing whatever mobs they have down there.

6) As before do not move to the tower until the second demolisher arrives and has sustained heavy DPS. Wait for tank and healer if you want to live. At the top kill everything as before and one DPS should jump in the cannon. Another DPS (you shoul’ve volunteered if no one else did) jumps/floats down and returns to the rope hanging down the side of the first tower, goes up and enters that cannon.

7) Liaise with the guys on the ground they ideally want to be between add waves, or close to burning off the ones they have.

8) Shoot down Galakras (the two tower cannon need to hit the boss very close together).

Phase 2

FlamesofGalakrondDrop down, nuke boss. Phase 2 of the fight is very straight forward in LFR. Again let’s finesse it.

1) Stand stacked with the raid down the hill a way behind the boss.

2) If you get Flames of Galakrond on you run back towards the shore. A fiery ball will pursue you and explode (well behind the raid), it decreases in damge the more people it passes through on it’s way to you.

3) If your stack rise too high (DBM warning) stand apart from the raid so not to get hit, or have Flames of Galahrond pass through you. If while standing aside, you are targeted run diagonally backwards and behind the raid, so the Flame ball passes through the raid group and explodes on you well behind them (as before).

Iron JuggernautJuggs is arguably the easiest fight in Siege of Orgrimmar, but LFR groups (and normal groups) frequently stumble.

This is primarily a tank intensive fight. Tank boss swap on 3 – 4 stacks of Ignite Armor, when off tanking jump on the three bombs that spawn in the raid. If you’re an intelligent raider and know how to use damage mitigating cooldowns (warlock: Dark Bargain) you can pop one and take a mine making life much easier for the tanks. Missing mines does raid wide damage and is behind so many wipes. No damage mitigation cooldown stay away from mines.

HELP WITH MINES (ESPECIALLY IF THE OFF TANK ISN’T DOING HIS JOB).

The boss has a second phase where he leaks Explosive Tar and begins Seismic Activity:

DO NOT STAND IN TAR – TAR BAD.

He periodically does one of three Shock Pulses which will knock you back to the closest obstacle behind you. Make it the fence where you came in. Avoid Tar patches as you run back into DPS range. The Cutter Laser is less important in LFR, still, it will follow you and if you drag it through Tar it will explode for 200K raid wide damage.

RUN AWAY FROM THE LASER CAREFULLY.

Ignore the Borer Drill the healers can heal through it in LFR. Try to get out of the large target circles, Mortar Cannon  that form on the ground, but the damage is much smaller than in normal.

KDSThe two Dark Shamen are easily the hardest fight in the first half of LFR (arguably in the top four above Garrosh). The problem with the fight is that there is not approved tactic. You simply kite the bosses and hope for good fortune while moving them constantly away from whatever crap they’re spawning now. The crux of the fight is that the two bosses have a shared health pool (it doesn’t matter which one you DPS, or if you only ever DPS one). They drop foul damaging things on the ground: Falling Ash; Ashen Wall; Foul Stream and stir up whirlwinds: Foul Storms and Toxic Mists.

Simply try to maximise DPS while avoiding standing in crap.

ShamanDroppingsThe tanks job is essentially a dance. Kiting the two bosses around the area as best they can, keep moving in one consistent direction (clockwise appears to be the convention) and moving them out of the droppings, attempting to keep the two bosses relatively close and taunting the other boss at the agreed number of stacks. Keeping their back to the edge of the fighting area as much as possible. Finesse the tanking: Haromm drops a line of slate grey elementals, Ashen Wall, that forms at 90% to the tank when cast. if the Ashen Wall is parallel to the edges and not at 90% criss crossing the field of battle life and movement will be much easier.

If you see a tank actively doing this and getting it right applaud them after the fight. Support fellow ballers!

The DPS have two simple jobs. 1) Throw as much DPS at one, either, of the bosses and if you’re ranged AoE the crap out the green slimes, arrive with the Foul Stream, 2) don’t stand in crap.

The healer’s job is even more simple: try to keep the tanks alive and as many DPS as possible.

Easy to summarise, difficult to master.

NazgrimVery few guides are written specifically for LFR. The mechanics are so nerfed compared to the same ‘normal’ mode encounters it hardly seems worth it. After doing LFR for some time you’ll notice that certain aspects of the mechanics are so nerfed they can be ignored. Then you’ll learn that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and you fellow LFR players have a lot of little bits of knowledge.

Adds

1) Shamen heal so have prio.

EyesNot all adds were created equally though. Warshamen need to be held at the back of the room and killed ASAP. That means everyone. Shaman drop a healing totem and will heal the boss up. Needless to say this is bad, you really don’t want to have kill the boss twice effectively. Assassins will target one player, they get “eyes” above their character’s head, all you or they need to do is face the Assassin, stun and slow them if you can and burn them down fast.

Remember if adds are up and you’re DPS-ing the boss you’re doing it wrong.

Heroic Strike2) Heroic Shockwave

Or the big fiery gold line on the floor. Do not stand in it. It could not be simpler. Get out NOW.

3) Ignore Stance (Ravagers tickle)

Yeah, I know. You’re going to catch some crap for this but here it is: prioritize adds, if no adds attack Nazgrim. No buts, no caveats. I’ll be more explicit:

If there are no adds nuke the Kor’Kron Banner (by Nazgrim, dropped by him), no banner or adds DPS Nazgrim, even if he is in Defensive Stance.

A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing and the little knowledge most LFR raiders have about Nazgrim is DO NOT DPS IN DEF STANCE. Now let me explain: never DPS in Def Stance in a normal raid. This is because DPS in Def Stance generates Nazgrim’s Rage, when he has enough Rage he casts a Ravager, Ravagers are spinning axes and as that suggests can cut through a raid like a hot knife through butter.: more Rage = more Ravagers. Ravagers do a lot of damage and will wipe a normal raid. No Ravagers please, so no DPS in Def Stance.

However, in LFR Ravagers are like slowly rotating feather dusters. They do negligible damage. Even three or four whirling around will present a tiny amount of extra damage for healers to cope with. They won’t notice them, honestly (I know I’ve healed LFR), help them as much as you can by avoiding Ravager damage as much as you can, just move. As Ravagers hit for a negligible amount we don’t worry about Nazgrim generating more Rage so DPS during Def Stance is fine. Really. Additionally Nazgrim‘s enrage timer is reasonably tight so especially in a lower DPS LFR groups you need to throw as much damage at Nazgrim, when adds are not up, as you can, so keep attacking him during Def Stance or he will enrage and you will wipe.

Always nuke adds, then get back onto Nazgrim immediately and you’ll control the fight and beat the enrage timer.

SoOBlizzard intend LFR as a “tourist mode” (their words) in which people can see all of the content, catch up with gear and see something of what raiding is like. With that in mind, I thought I’d write a guide to how you can use LFR to learn something about raiding. You can be one of the, sadly few, players in LFR that understands the tactics and will do those jobs necessary to ensure that the ‘raid’ progresses and everyone gets loot.

LootSpec1) Don’t Tank or Heal if it’s your first time.

If you are looking to become a tank, or even a healer, I beg you, please don’t go into LFR the first few times in your chosen role. Enter as DPS and learn the fundamentals of all fights and assemble some basic tanking or healing gear. By right-clicking your character portrait you can change your Loot Specialization. A warrior can be in Arms spec, queue for LFR as DPS and the gear she receives can be for her Protection spec.

The two roles, tank and healer, are so critical that merely ticking the ilvl check-box to get into the instance really is not an acceptable level of gear with which carry out the role. I have seen too many LFR groups wipe themselves stupider trying to carry badly geared tanks or healers who quickly run out of mana or simply do not have the healing throughput. Don’t do it.Immerseus

Note the segmented ring around Immerseus

Note the segmented ring around Immerseus

1) Don’t stand near the tank!

Never stand on the same segment of the area around the boss as a tank, even if you are the other tank. Corrosive Blast will destroy any healer/DPS. Spread around the ring, if anywhere isn’t covered go there and cover that region yourself!

[With average DPS Immerseus will cast Corrosive Blast twice only the first time the raid takes him to 0%. Two stacks of corrosive blast will kill many tanks so the second tank must taunt Immerseus before the second is cast. After the first split it is perfectly possible to solo tank this boss.]

Sha Splash2) Don’t stand in crap!

Sha Pools form under you feet – get out quick. Swirls move across the area around Immerseus: avoid them!

3) Don’t stand in the way of crap!

When the ‘wave of water’ comes either Blink, Warlock teleport, similar, to the edge of the ring, or have a healing cooldown ready.

Am I facing the right way?

Am I facing the right way?

4) Nuke Black Oozes

splitAt 0% Immerseus splits and Sha Puddles (oozes) fly out to the edge of the ring. Burn down as many of the black oozes as possible.This is why you need to be spread out around the ring: any remaining oozes reaching the centre of the room (where Immerseus appears) release massive raid wide damage. Save your healing cooldowns and take your healing potions, healthstones, pop any self heals or damage mitigation at this point. Get back on the DPS as Immerseus reforms.

[Healers will be healing as many of the white bubbles to 100% as possible. Tanks should be DPSing stunning/slowing black oozes as much as they can]

Rince and repeat.The Fallen Protectors

1) Change target!

I can’t stress it eoungh, don’t just focus all your DPS on Rook. At each Desperate Measures phase one of the three bosses will do their signature move. When it’s over switch DPS to the next boss. The accepted sequence is Rook, He and then Sun.

2) Desperate Measures

Rook Stonetoe

MiseryAt 66% and 33% Rook will become stunned and three adds appear: Embodied Misery; Embodied Sorrow; Embodied Gloom. Sorrow and Gloom spawn near where the raid usually is. To be an asset to the LFR group here throw some DPS at Misery, she drops a very annoying ground smash the tank has to dance out of. Just be sure to wait until the Rook tank has picked her up, she hits like a truck!

He Softfoot

Embodied DesperationMisery down (and the other two of course) switch your DPS to He.

At 66% and 33% He will spawn a single add: Embodied Anguish. Target and BURN. Anguish will target 1 player, if it’s you you will get an extra action button. If you have any strong damage mitigation abilities just pop them and tank Anguish for a while then ‘throw’ it to the tank (target tank, press extra button).

Sun Tenderheart

DomeGet into the dome!

If you’re ranged look for the two adds outside the dome: the phase will end when they are dead. They are opposite each other.

The rest of the raid will be metre cheesing by AoE-ing all the tiny adds in the dome.

[The ‘Rook tank’ should have rook facing out of the dome, ideally with the tank standing just inside.]

3)Adds

4) Stack and stand away!

Inferno StrikeInferno Blast

A Yellow Circle around a player with a fire under them in the centre. They will try to run away from everyone – they will die. The damage is shared: it should be spread amongst as many people as possible. You should run into the raid group when it’s on you! If someone else has it and stacks up don’t run away from them, only run away if they are on their own, you’ll die with them.

Yellow Circle – Stack

ShaSearSha Sear

Not such a big deal. Sun sends out a beam that acts like a priest’s Mind Sear – it will damage all those around her target. Simply stand away from others.

Beam from boss – stand away

5) Final Phase (after 6 Desperate Measures – 2 per boss)

Under 25% look which boss has highest health and switch your DPS to them. Rook will usually be well under 10% at this point. When the bosses die separately they come back with a higher percent and you can be there all day.

6) All around 10%? Stack and AoE!Norushen

1)

AddsDamage to adds is translated (unmitigated) to the boss. That’s more damage to the boss. Adds also pulse out damage so get rid of them all ASAP.

Big Add up:  kill big add > no big add: kill small adds >  no adds: damage boss (directly)

2) Manifestation of Corruption (‘big add’)Purple Orbs

The big adds drops a purple orb when it dies. Pick it up. Someone has to and it pulses massive raid damage: you will know when it’s up. Look for it, stand on it, pick it up. This will save the raid.

With 100% Corruption you’ll be transported to another room. The largest add in there drops a ground effect you do not want to stand in. The four small adds periodically shoot a bolt at you and are shielded from the front. Avoid their spells and DPS them only from behind. After a fixed time you’re ported out again. If you have killed all five mobs you’ve cleansed your corruption, your bar will be at 0% and your DPS is significantly higher.

More importantly you can now pick up 4 more purple orbs, at 100% you can no longer pick them up. I’ve seen LFR players running away from purples orbs, to keep the raid alive be the orb collecting guy not the metre cheesing guy.

Sha1) Pride

DBM puts a Pride box up at the start of the fight. Doing it wrong builds Pride, it probably won’t kill you but at Bursting Pride it’ll probably kill (at least) 20% of the raid. Don’t stack Pride. Remember Pride comes before a wipe…fall…something bad.

2) Self Reflections

Small adds drop into the raid group. Run out just before they form (too early and they simply form where you ran to) staying still for Self Reflection builds Pridethis is the biggest raid wiper. Run out as the DBM countdown reaches 1, then announces Beware! (and not before).

Prison3) Prisons

Everyone seems to like skipping over to the left and freeing the prisoner right next to the raid. So keep an eye on the “tank prison” at the back. If one of the tanks doesn’t know (or just as likely can’t be bothered) to free a prisoner then one of the DPS/Healers will need to race down there. Why not you? Remember one person must be standing on both yellow segments at the same timeyou cannot do this on your own.

3) Manifestation of Corruption

The big add at the back: DPS and interrupt. If you have an interrupt make sure it’s on your actionbar in an easy to select position. If you’re a Death Knight Death Grip the big to the back of the raid so other melee don’t need to run all the way to the back to damage and interrupt. Stand apart from the raid to DPS this add and then stay apart: Swelling Pride follows…

4) Swelling Pride

Each time the Sha reaches 100 energy it releases a wave inflicting 100k damage and more importantly triggering Bursting Pride on any player with 25 to 49 Pride.

Bursting Pride

When Swelling Pride hits a player with 25 to 49 Pride the corruption explodes in 3 secs doing 165K damage to all players in 4 yards. Be sure you move away from everyone while DPSing the Manifestation of Corruption to avoid all this damage.

Projection

With 50 or more Pride you get a Projection forming within 4 yards, if you do not stand in it it will explode inflicting 250K to all players. Stand in the circular ground swirl with an arrow bobbing up and down over it if you were dumb and stacked Pride!

5) Bursting Pride

For Swelling Pride sub 30% be sure to stand apart from everyone or the Pride stacking numb skulls will probably kill you. Save your healthstone etc, for this point as you may lose half the healers with half the raid. If only five people die from Bursting Pride then count yourself lucky.

6) Rah Rah Rah

If no one says, or if they call for it at the wrong time, pop Bloodlust or Time Warp at 29% if you have it.

7) Stack Up

For a fight that absolutely requires heavy movement, stepping out of Self Reflection, opening Prisons, moving to interrupt the big add (melee), it’s very important for the healers that you stack up around that axe embedded in the floor (where I hope your group started). After moving to address mechanics stack up again quickly.

8)Adds

Ignore adds in the end game to your peril. I have seen DPS switch off and ‘tunnel vision’ on the boss, pop all their cooldowns and metre cheese themselves up the DPS ranks only to wipe at 2%. Keep working the mechanics. Step out of Self Reflection and kill all the little adds, free prisoners, kill and interrupt the big add. Or enjoy wiping at low percent.

Well done you’ve completed part one of Siege of Orgrimmar LFR and you learned some of the fight mechanics. Normal mode isn’t just more, some of the mechanics are so much more powerful that you really have to focus on completely avoiding or combating them. Of course, as tank or healer you will have different priorities but DPS tactics are fundamental and the first few times you do the LFR you should be DPS. The first time you do a ‘normal’ mode raid make your first question: “How does this boss differ from LFR?” If you tried to learn and understand the fight mechanics in LFR you can apply what you learned valuably and make a half decent raider.

I’ll publish a fresh guide when Warlords of Draenor is released and the LFR opens. LFR is here to stay, there’s no reason you have to be a tourist and just expect anyone in the raid who does knows what is going on to do it for you. You can be the guy the makes sure it gets done. You won’t get any thanks but the raids you’re in will wipe less and you will complete your LFR quicker. Good luck and have fun.

Cataclysm Retrospective

DeathwingI find it funny that some people like to sit in Orgrimmar for hours bitching in trade that this game is crap not as good as LoL or SWOTOR. So why are you trolling the trade channel in World of Warcraft…why aren’t you off playing that game? Hah, it’s even funnier when people actually start asking and arguing with the trolls. The other one I find funny is the “this patch is the worst and the next one will be even worse” trolls. That started in The Burning Crusade and has been a trade chat standard ever since.

Are the trolls right this time? Is Cataclysm the worst expansion and will Mists of Pandaria (MoP) be worse? Well, I admit when Mists was announced I thought “OMG Kung Fu Panda”. Why not, look at the Pandaran Monk pet? Finally the beta is on the public test realms (PTR) and we’ve seen some Pandaran models. They look good. Wobbly fat, Kung Fu pandas they aren’t. Phew. I find it odd that some gamers are revolting at the idea of playing Pandarans. “I will play a dwarf, maybe a goblin or gnome. I will play orcs, taurens, trolls and elves. But there is no way I will play a PANDA!” Hah! Anyway I will, I just don’t see the distinction.

I’m not going to talk about pandas or the next expansion. If I get a beta invite I won’t play. I’m jaded with Cataclysm now…how will I be at the end of MoP if I spend the next four or more months in beta testing on the PTR? I can totally wait.

So this post is a Cataclysm retrospective. What worked, what flopped, what was fantastic and what wasn’t. Having played in classic, original WoW, on through The Burning Crusade (TBC), Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) and now Cataclysm, six years without a break, I wonder which is the best and which the worst expansion so far?

Let’s take a look at what Blizzard offered us with this new expansion.

Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races-the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
Goblin Character SelectionIt was laugh out loud time all over again for the Horde as we got Goblins. Not only were they new and genuinely hilarious, but the Alliance got Worgens! Playing the introductory levels on Kazan, the Goblin ancestral home, was a perfect prelude to the events that re-shaped Azeroth during the Shattering and underpinned the lore of the new expansion. Playing a goblin through these levels was fun and engaging. The quests and the landscape felt innovative and fresh. It seemed that the designers had expended a huge effort to deliver something new for gamers of all types. At the end of the starter zone Kazan is destroyed in the Shattering and you wash up on the shore of the Lost Isles. It was beautiful and spectacular. I loved “Town in a Box” – no spoilers! I lost interest in my goblin shaman as soon as I left the goblin starter zones and entered the Barrens (again), but those starter zones were truly memorable. Oh yeah, and the Alliance got Worgens whose starter zone made it look like all the development time had been expended on goblins..

That might sound dismissive, but I have played the worgen starting zone. It’s as exciting as Deathknell and I have levelled new characters from there since classic, most (almost all) of my chars are Forsaken. Worgens look great but they run like Frankenstein’s Igor! They’re worse than the Draenai. No really!

Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to improve characters.
C’mon Blizzard that’s a shocking thing to do! You stiff us five levels and then sell it as a feature? Not impressed! The whole expansion is five levels of questing content short! Blizzard completely revamped the talent system and made such a fine job of it they’re doing it all over again for MoP! Another epic fail.

Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.

The new Barrens sundered into two.

Er…Five levels of questing content and a couple of new expansion zones short and Blizzard gives us…Azeroth again! To be fair this had to be done. If for no other reason than to allow flying mounts. More importantly with, now, 85 levels of content to plough through the questing process needed to be streamlined and made quicker since we have 25 more levels than when classic was released.

New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj’ir beneath the sea.
Hmmm…variable quality here. Hyjal is a relatively straight forward, green, classic Stranglethorn Vale type of zone, with the silly starter quests and entry level greens to don in place of your once Best in Slot Wrath purples. Vashj’ir is shocking. I was forced to do the whole zone because someone gave me the achievement to complete in our guild’s Achievement Game. I left this underwater zone to last and found the whole grindy, mundaneness of it…well grinding and mundane.

Humboldt ConflagrationTwilight Highlands is OK, but that’s mostly because none of us did any real questing there except to get Friendly with the Dragonmaw faction (head enchant). Then we could get the tabard and wear it in dungeons for rep until Exalted. Deepholm becomes wearisome as you have to grind most of the quests in this zone just to get to Friendly with Therazane. Sadly the eseential shoulder exchants purchasable from the Quartermaster were not Bind on Account so you need to do the grind with all your alts too. Thanks Blizz.

The only truly epic new zone is Uldum where you get to quest with Indiana…ahem, sorry…Harrison Jones in an Egyptian-like level. Most people loved it and the quest line it contained.

More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters.
Really? Throne of the Four Winds? Dragon Soul? Really? Er,ahem. I’ll be reviewing the raid and 5 man content in a later blog.

New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.

Tauren Paladin

Tauren Paladin because Lore means nothing.

Undead Hunter, YAY! It was pretty good fun to see how Blizzard had streamlined and reinvented the Forsaken starter zone. I love mah little Forsaken Hunter, no problem with this race/classs combination. However some combinations simply beggared belief for many. Demonstrating that bums on seats are more important than – lore Tauren Paladins? C’mon Blizzard, werent there more obvious solutions?

Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements. At last something truly good! It helped to cement guild unity and reward loyalty. At last some concrete rewards to support guild management. Anyone who has lead a guild or been invested in making a guild work and raid saw the obvious benefits this new innovation offered.

New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
Well I don’t really do PvP, so I will leave this to people that care…er, ahem…know.

Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
This secondary profession is about as exciting as First Aid and five times as annoying. At least First Aid has (had) that superb Triage quest in Arathi Highlands. Now that was a good mini-game.

I'm sure it was over there.

WTF I'm sure it was over there!

Do you want to use an apparently extremely inaccurate device to detect fossils and archaeological artefacts? Do you like randomly zig-zagging across zones in increasing frustration? Do you want unearth random crap with the chance of finding an extremely rare mount and pet? Have you been grinding dull rep all over Azeroth and have an extremely high boredom threshold? Archaeology is for you…not me.

Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
Hmmm…I kinda covered this…it’s makes crossing Azeroth as trvial as zipping around Outlands. Is that a good thing? I remember when all this was fields. I remember when you couldn’t get a mount, never mind a flying one, so crossing Kalimdor literally took hours. Try it some time. Get a low level alt, say level 35, mount up in Winterspring on your slow ground mount and ride…all the way to Uldum. Then tell me what I’m getting at. I’m calling this the Kalimdor Slow Mount Challange. Catchy eh?
Blasted Lands

So let’s weight it up. What did Blizzard really deliver on? They completely retooled Azeroth and I salute them for it. Leveling is now a straightforward, well paced process that take a little less than we first took grinding up to max level when that was 60. They made the two continents viable for flying mounts and they ironed out the pacing of quest advancement across eighty levels.

Blizzard can give themselves a pat on back.

Uldum, Hyjal and Twilight Highlands are all somewhat successful. Uldum was particularly exciting but Hyjal only passable. The new Goblin starter zone was magnificent and the addition of Goblins as a playable race was a master stroke. The changes to Guild building made by guild achievements and rewards did something to incentivise guild loyalty and investment in the groups we enjoy (endure?) Azeroth with.

Now we turn to what didn’t work as well. Only five more levels. I assumed that this was due to the massive and excellent retooling of the classic continents. It seems that MoP is only offering five zones so in hindsight the ten level additions of TBC and Wrath are now a thing of the past. Blizzard proudly trumpeted a new talent system that simply failed to unshackle us from cookie cutter builds and took away a point every other level. The new talent trees locked us into a spec and killed hybrid builds for good. Instead of opening up options for customizing characters it seems as if things actually narrowed down and our choices, if we wanted to actually deliver some DPS, healing throughput or threat or survivability, became fewer.

Archaeology? It’s really not a good advert for the expansion. It pales next to fishing and it’s not as useful as cooking. I don’t have a great deal to say about it. Fail.

Rhianwen 85 Forsasken HunterNew race and class combinations? I almost fell sorry for the alliance: shafted again. Worgens are awful. Draenai suffered in the comparison to Blood Elves, but Worgens are so god awful compared to everything that comparing them and their starter zone to Goblins and Kazan just seems unfair. Paladin Taurens? Forsaken Hunters? Human’s are paladin so why not the Forsaken? Or why not just throw Lore out of the window and toss in blue Trolls druids too? Some people love lore and I see no reason to mess with it arbitrarily.

New high level zones? Er…well let’s compare Hyal and Vashj’ir to Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh. Putting it into the context of the initial zones in previous expansions the disappointing Hyjal and the execrable Vashj’r begin to look very sad indeed. Compare them to the workman-like Borean Tundra and the beautiful Forsaken bridgehead of Vengeance Landing and the whole of Howling Fjord. The Cataclysm opening zones do not compare well.

The trade trolls had to be right sooner or later. Cataclysm is the worst expansion so far, a lot was good. At the end of the day we’ve had three expansions and one of them had to be the best (Wrath of the Lich King) and one of them had to be the least well executed. Cataclysm is undoubtedly the least well realised (probably because of the mixed objectives employed for 5 mans and raiding). However, it’s not the worst by a country mile. It’s a slim margin, Cataclysm is not an abject, awful failure.

Will MoP be worse though? I doubt it. Blizzard made mistakes, but I trust them to learn from them and deliver a better more coherent package next time.

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