Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I've learned how to walk in the -10F weather by now - it's really not too bad actually. The snow and ice are generally quite crunchy and make sounds like broken glass with every step. I've gotten better at ducking my chin deep into my coat and breathing through my mouth. But woe is me when I forget and breathe through my exposed nose! It's quite a sensation for the cold weather noob to have one's nostrils insta-freeze.

My eyes water a lot normally, so stepping into the cold means I have to blink constantly to keep my eyelids from freezing together.  Each foray outside is an adventure. Fortunately, my hotel and the building I'm working at are only about 200 yards apart, so a brisk walk to and from is all it takes. People naturally take everything in stride, bundling up routinely before walking outside, and plugging in their cars before entering a building. I look forward to seeing people walking in shorts when the temperature soars to a balmy +10 F.

And it is beautiful here. While the sun is only 'up' for about 90 minutes, there is about 4.5 hours of sunrise/sunset with the sun just below the horizon and the southern sky lit up in gorgeous hues of rose and magenta. Aurora hasn't shown herself yet, but I look forward to making her acquaintance. And of course everything is white.

Unfortunately for me, I brought an incipient bug with me and the shock to my immune system upon arrival was enough to make me miserable the past couple days. Iím clawing my way back now, while still trying to fulfill the mission my employer sent me to do. I hope there's lots of xp and maybe a little gold in it for me at the end.

The best news is my connection is good enough to raid, so I'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming shortly. Thanks to the well-wishers for my journey.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jet Plane

In a few minutes I leave for the frozen North. My daughter asked if I'll be at the Antarctic.... nope, only Fairbanks, although I guess it's pretty close! ;P

Hotel connections are notorious for introducing lag spikes that make raiding untenable, so I may spend lots of time .... writing... or at least farming for my primordial saronite. 18 down, 7 to go for my Shadow's Edge, which will be funded entirely by personal gold. Ugh, I'm no Marcko or Gevlon, so it's a little tedious heh.

I'll try to write from the frozen North!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Worthy Opponent

I'm pleased to see that Blizzard has not nerfed Putricide yet as I predicted.

On the other hand, they've made it known that their way of allowing 'everyone' to see the content is to do something better: buff us. For years, Blizzard has nerfed bosses days or weeks or months into progression to allow the non-world-class the opportunity to kill the big bad bosses they took the time to create for us. This time around, we're apparently scheduled to get the assistance of the Ashen Verdict who will provide assistance in taking down bosses as the weeks go by.

Functionally this means that normal mode will get easier and easier as the weeks go by. Stuck on Saurfang and only dreaming of wing #2? Never fear! Soon you'll be able to smite him with one blow! :)

Rumor has it that heroic modes will not benefit from the progressive buffs and will have the increased difficulty we've come to know and love.

The good news for ICC so far though, is this: Putricide is NOT easy mode. Some guilds are stuck on Deathwhisper, or struggling with Saurfang, but a very large percentage of 'serious' guilds easily defeated the first wing well before the second was released. This has not happened with Putricide. Sure, if we'd all had more than 20 attempts, many more guilds would have accomplished the feat, but overall the fight presents a challenge we haven't seen since Ulduar.

We've had 20 attempts on him and the best I've seen is a wipe on the enrage timer in P3. We've learned the fight mechanics, managed the oozes well, but balancing that with dps on the boss.... and it's actually a challenge! Sure, some high level guilds did him in quickly, but that's a small percentage. For the rest of us, it requires us to step up our performance in order to succeed. I had an amazing time last night, running around chasing oozes, dodging various burbly messes, and trying to hit the bald guy from time to time.

While some are saying it's not Ulduar, I say, It's full of win! Good Game, Blizzard. Good Game.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No more sleepless nights

Or perhaps should I say, "many more Insomnia nights!"
I'm a lucky guy.

It was a little time in coming, but I did resolve the guild situation and am happily settling in with Insomnia (see, I even updated my 'about the author' from looking for guild to in the guild Insomnia.

Already, I've made good progress in my New Wow's Resolutions. I'm in a 10-man group that's well-established and should be able to make good progress through Icecrown. I want my Starcaller title, and that may some time in coming, but I did get to complete the Yogg-Saron fight, leaving only Algalon and Heroic Anub'arak as uncompleted fights pre-Icecrown. I picked up Festergut's acidic blood and should get Rotface's tonight as well. leaving me just a few primordial saronite short of Shadow's Edge. Yes, that's a long way from Shadowmourne (expecially as a nub in my current guild) but it's progress!

Most importantly, I'm fulfilling #7 on the list - having tons of fun!

One such fun event occurred while I was implementing my new ui.
(and since this turned into a longish story, click to see the rest)

Monday, January 11, 2010

UI customization

I've played wow for over 3 years.
I've used any number of addons that make my wow and raiding experiences easier, more fun, and just plain higher quality.
I've never messed with the basic stock UI (user interface).
Until now.

In the past, I saw UIs that looked nice or organized things well, but I found it too much of a hassle to implement. Other addons could be dropped into the addon folder, but most UIs had to be added by also messing with other, scary folders like the wtf and settings folders.... don't make me do it! In addition, for some reason I never found one that looked just perfect for me, just like poor Goldilocks.

SpartanUI is a wonderful package of updates for the interface that (as you can see behind the cut)

Food update

I realized this weekend that my long-ago comments on consumeables were lacking.

Kibler's Bits are a cheap, easy way to buff your ghoul as an unholy DK. Your pet gets 20 strength and 20 stamina. On most servers you can find the buzzard meat for 20-50 silver, or if you're bored you can farm them up easily in Hellfire Peninsula without competition.

On the other hand, min/maxers should know that Spiced Mammoth Treats are in fact, better. It gives your ghoul an extra 10 strength and 10 stamina. They also cost more, with mammoth meat being a northrend meat and is used in some decent raid foods, particularly by non-fishermen/cooks - and a northrend reagent (Northern Spices). It may run you any where from 1-3.5g depending on your server.

So why would you spend so much more on each and every progression pull? BECAUSE YOU'RE A RAIDER!!!

I've been using the mammoth treats for some time now.
Gold is easy to come by, so buying the meat and spices should be easy. If there isn't much meat on the auction house, just note someone who puts it up for sale a time or two and send them an in-game mail offering them a low price if they want to regularly supply you with say 3 stacks of meat a week. Have them COD it to you. I've done this on multiple servers and it works like a charm.

If you prefer to do so, however, farming the mats is very easy. Do the daily cooking quest for your spices, and then occasionally run to Dun Niffelem (far east corner of Storm Peaks, where Hodir Reputation dailies are) and kill packs of roaming mammoths for the meat. There are also many mammoth packs in Sholezar Basin and Borean Tundra, but it takes longer to get there.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Putricide nerf incoming?

Sadly, I'm almost certain the answer is yes.

On the three servers I have level 80 raiding toons, no guild has killed Putricide on 25-man.

My guild has expended our 10 attempts without getting into phase three. We're a pretty good group. We had no problem with the ugly brothers. At least a few guildies had attempts/kills of Putricide on PTR. We're not world-class, perhaps, but overall, we're a solid bunch. We did make solid progress in learning the fight and got deeper and deeper into it with most of our tries.

We didn't kill him in 10 attempts? OH NOES!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ugly Brothers

I like to put up DK strats after several kills so my dps DK perspective will have to wait, but I wanted to at least post about last night's visit to the hilarious plague wing.

Yes, it's a good idea to visit youtube just to listen to the audio before the fight - otherwise you may completely screw up due to a laughing fit! The humor is of course crass at times, but some of the best boss audio anywhere comes from putricide as you are messing with his little buddies! :)
"Good news everyone!" heh.
After that you can view the strategies to figure out your approach to the bosses.

The two fights are stark contrasts to each other, providing two very different challenges.

Rotface is the execution fight. There are several things to keep in mind, but probably the most important aspect of the fight is controlling the mutated infection/small oozes. My guild wiped a number of times below 30% due to these little guys spawning all over our faces. There are a number of things to keep track of, but once you get all those settled, it's all about execution. You don't need amazing gear to kill Rotface.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Saurfang: a DPS DK Perspective

Tonight we get our second Icecrown Wing and woot! am I ever excited about it!
On the eve of seeing some down and dirty plagues, I'll post my 4th Icecrown Boss review for DPS DKs.
Saurfang is the first 'real' gear check boss. Your guild may have had a little trouble with Lady Deathwhisper, but if you got her, I'm sure you're past the Gunship and on to Saurfang! You need to get him dead before you can go back inside the Citadel, so let's get to it! There are some strict dps requirements to get him down, so do your part and soon enough you'll be running from slimes. :)

Saurfang is for the most part a tank and spank fight, so let's get to it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gunship: a DPS DK Perspective

Time to talk about that fun fun fight known as the Gunship!

On normal 10- and 25-man mode, this fight is extremely easy for most raid groups. There is some execution required though, and lazy play can still result in a wipe.

Make sure you have your rocket equipped, especially if you switch specs. I've seen too many players not be able to cross to the other ship because they forgot. Now might be a good time to remind you to always ensure you have a presence selected - when you switch specs it disables any presences.

Pull/Phase One: This is done several ways. I won't try to cover them all, but just keep in mind the way I describe it might not be the way your guild does it.
Our melee stay on our ship for the first part, killing the boarders. The first boarder is usually a small elite; I PS>IT to get diseases going, then wait for the Sergeant to spawn. Once he does, I pestilence and Death & Decay. Then just dps on the Sgt. Be wary of his whirlwind - it can hit pretty hard, so I tend to run out when he does it. Since it's an aoe fight, remember your aoe rotation is pretty simple: keep spreading diseases, then make sure to use D&D on cooldown. If unholy, keep desolation up with one blood rune, and you should be able to blood boil at least once. Frost and Blood can probably blood boil twice. The boarders should be dead about the time the Mage comes out, if not before if you're melee heavy. Don't forget to watch the deck for where rockets are going to land. I try to stay out of them to make it easier on the healers. You can take the occasional rocket, but for the most part it's not a dps race.

Phase Two: I get asked to kill the mage, so I jump across and hit her a couple times, then pop my gargoyle (for unholy, my ghoul is up on boarders) and/or other cds. On my second trip I jump and summon my army. DPS burst is important here - getting the mage down FAST is your most important goal. After that, as I run back to my ship, I hit the axe throwers and pestilence to help kill them - or target them with my army. It's not essential, but assisting in getting them down before they become elite is helpful.

DPS per se doesn't really matter on this fight. Just controlling the adds is most important. High dps helps, but execution and timing is what counts. Most WMO/WOL parses don't even include Gunship in their numbers, so don't trouble your e-peen over it. Just get the job done.

New Wow's Resolutions

I'm back from my little trip to Canada (lovely btw) and it's time to post my resolutions for the new Wow year.

1. Settle in with my new guild. They seem to like me, I like them. I need to find a regular 10-man raid to go with the 25-man raid times that the guild is organized around. Otherwise, there's the everyday stuff of spending time with guildies like 5-mans, Wintergrasp, or meeting at the bank to craft gems for someone.
2. Conquer Icecrown Citadel. That's why I play the game more than anything. Arthas needs to go down.
3. Hard Modes. I'd like to complete the hard modes in Icecrown, but also finish the Anub fight on heroic, and get my Starcaller title. Plenty of people despise achievements. I enjoy them at times, but raiding achievements actually motivate me. They're the true endgame now, like it or not.
4. Get a 310 mount. I don't care how I get it. I just want one. ;) It won't be a long strange trip though.
5. Get a Shadowmourne. This may or may not happen in 2010. But someday I'd like an orange.
6. Bust out Cataclysm. I look forward to the 'new' Wow. I will have a Worgen. I'd love to be realm first 85 DK. Regardless of those, I eagerly await that sense of wonder and awe at seeing the new stuffs they give us to play with.
7. Have fun!

That's it!
Short and sweet.
It's a fun game, and I intend to continue enjoying it.
Hope you do, too!