Friday, March 30, 2007

chants & enchants

As i got a few gear upgrades recently it was about time to get some new enchants. With the "rare" high-end enchants it's always a bit troublesome tho, as you got to catch one of the few enchanters who can do it. If crafters/enchanters charge a fair amount of gold and are willing to meet you right away or provide a good service in another way, I'm more then willing to advertise their trade. Should you talk with a crafter mentioned in my blog, feel free to add greetings or a reference when you contact them... it's always nice to see satisfied customers referring more people. I started with enchanting the 2nd Blinkstrike (yes, I'm dualwielding those now for DPS *g*) i bought recently. Kismat enchanted it with Potency (+20 str), which got a nice deep green glow. For my Sun Eater i chose Mongoose (Drithli did it) - quite an expensive enchant and also the charged fee was not cheap, but it seems not so many people can do it yet. The additional 120 agi from the procc will go nicely with tanking, so i hope (no idea about how often it will procc yet). It's one of the new enchants which has no glow at all, which is quite strange but does not really bother me as my sword looks cool enough without an additional glow. *grins*

The biggest surprise i had today tho: I tend to take the time to have a closer look at people standing around in the bank - sometimes you meet "lost friends" or people you recently adventured with and can have a nice chat. I bumped into Silna (The Flaming Ruby) today, she is the only enchanter on alliance who can do the +2% threat on gloves enchant. As she quit WoW some time ago i removed her from my friendlist and therefore it was a pleasant surprise to see her again. She also charges a *very* fair fee to do the enchant, despite the fact she could let you bleed through your nose for it; being the only one. This is hands down the best glove enchant for tanks. Go and grab it while it's still hot and mats are cheap - and say "Hi" from me. ;)

Tonight we'll go back to Karazhan. Did you ever had to wait for people that DCed or went afk for a longer time? Well, how about you use the waiting time to play a game of Musical Chairs in the Banquet Hall? =) And if your raid is still having trouble with the Shade of Aran, how about passing them some subliminal learning material for the fight? Since we know Murkilla will come and wipe the world, use your time wisely... every day could be your last. ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Sun Eater

Yesterday night we went to heroic Mechanar again. The time/badge ratio is just the best from all heroics and Pathaleon drops some nice warrior stuff. As the elevator door can still bug on you (Blizzard announced it will finally be fixed with the next patch - they said that two times before tho), it seems to help when all release at the same time after a wipe. We used this "method" through our last two runs and it worked fine. When we killed Pathaleon, i could jump for joy... he dropped The Sun Eater for me, finally! =)
Because of the additional dodge rating, this sword IMO is superior to the King's Defender from Karazhan. Of course the +hit is nice but maximizing mitigation is trump.

Before doing the heroic run, we ventured into Karazhan up to Curator. After we could convince the robot to bend the gallery rules for us, he was nice enough to grant me my T4 gloves: Warbringer Handguards. Now we need to work faster towards the prince, so it's possible for me to have a shot at the first set bonus (although its not that great).

If you want to track heroic keys for your guild, there is a new tool at Antiarc's WoW Armory Tools. It will query the Armory and give you a list that looks like this... quite nice.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Imprisoned in the Citadel

Yesterday night we set up a group to do the Trial of the Naaru: Mercy in heroic Shattered Halls. Once you step through the door at Grand Warlock Nethekurse, a timer will start. There are three prisoners to be rescued, the first will be executed after 55min, the next 10min later and the last in another 15min. To finish the trial it will be sufficient if you manage to save the last one, which gives you 80min in total from gauntlet to dead Kargath. It might be a good idea to set a custom timer, as when you die, the "timer-debuff" is gone. There is another quest you can pick up right before the sewer entrance, called Imprisoned in the Citadel. To finish this one you need to save the first prisoner. We did not make it to solve that quest (who let the dogs out?!?), but from what info i could find it does not look like it's leading anywhere.

The bosses don't really change in SH heroic. They only hit harder and use their abilities more often... that was about it as far as i realized. The last Orc from the gauntlet is an additional "boss" in heroic, named Blood Guard Porung. I was lucky and got Spaulders of Slaughter from him. The last boss dropped... an epic gem, yay. After i finished the trials of Strength & Mercy it's only the Tenacity trial in Arcatraz left. So far it's still possible to summon people in after you finished the last boss off and all can complete the quest. Maybe we'll work on it over the next days. After the initial three trials, you'll get a 4th before you can obtain the key for the Eye: Trial of the Naaru: Magtheridon

After reading this topic on the forums i had to check out the place myself. In Nagrand (50,13) is a small hut in the mountains, inside the hut are a handful of zombie babies from different races. Glowing eyes, scary toys... this place sure has an evil aura. If you see the sandbox, I'm sure the "pet" was alive ones and they ate it.

Two more topics that catched my attention: First a blue statement telling us rare spawns replaced chests in Outlands. Thinking about it, i only saw chests in the Draenei starting area, else only in instances. The other one is about fixing sound problems. After WoW introduced more sound channels i have problems as well from time to time. It seems WoW sound is overloaded and tries to use more channels then available, resulting in eg. combat sounds not being heard - very annoying. I'll try what is suggested in the thread and see if that helps.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nielas the Ghost

Our adventures in Karazhan are going quite well. We established a fast enough pace to go from Attumen the Huntsman to the chess event in one night. The side-entrance enables us to go back the next raid and start with the Shade of Aran (after bashing down the annoying magic immune eels), who is the ghost of Nielas Aran (the father of Medivh). This fight is a *lot* of fun (heh, finally i can go DPS *g*) but boils down to everyone knowing exactly how to react in the different situations. If you have a handful of people with you that visit him for the first time, it takes a moment until all get into the right "swing" and you can have some good attempts on him. As we operate two Karazhan raids at the same time and intend to mix people around, so everyone knows to play with everyone, we only had two serious raids with attempts on him yet, after bringing "new" people up to speed on the encounter. Our best go was 13%, so i assume the next time we visit him, when all people saw the fight before, hes dead meat... oh wait, then again hes a ghost. ;)
One thing we experienced was, that some people had trouble to spot the Blizzard. If you got problems with that as well, make sure your spell detail level is not turned down to low, as then you'll only see half of the Blizzard what other people will see. And of course it's always Blizzards fault *insert comment about lame wordplay here*

I was able to upgrade some of my gear as well. During our recent runs i could snatch the Wrynn Dynasty Greaves and the Crimson Girdle of the Indomitable. In total i know have 12.8k HP while being very close to 75% damage reduction against bosses. Very nice, on the right way I'd say. ;) Talking about gear, what's recently wrong with the Blizzard Armory? My profile was last updated one week ago... do they only update during maintenance now? Slackers!

On the note of socketed gems in gear, did you know you can eg. insert a heroic BoP gem (like the one we got yesterday in heroic Mechanar *grumbles*) into a BoE item and still give the item to someone else or sell it? More info in this thread. Talking about heroic dungeons: Yesterday i finally got the opportunity to test my 300+ Shadow Resistance gear. Most of it are TBC greens "of Shadow Protection". We tried it on the first boss in heroic Mana Tombs and i resisted around 50% of his damage - makes the fight much easier. Now i need to test it in heroic Arcatraz on the shadow damage boss there.

As a closing tip: If you run as many mods as i do, sometimes you might run into the limitation of the allocated memory. There will be some major changes on memory usage of mods and the UI with 2.1.0 but it's already possible to use part of the functionality. If you set the memory threshold to "0" (zero), WoW will use as much memory for mods as is needed. While some rogue addon could eat up all your memory, it's very unlikely and if you reach a set threshold WoW will exit anyway. So I strongly suggest to change it like this; will become the default setting with next patch anyway. It's also possible to test the new memory garbage collecting function, you can use a macro with
/script collectgarbage("setpause", 110)
If you're ineterested in further info about the changes, read here.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

High-Tech Toys for Boys...

...or did you never wished for getting a huuuge robot for christmas? Some days ago i was collecting herbs in Shadowmoon Valley, when the earth started to shake around me. I heard sounds of battle and went to check it out. There was a force of about 26 people from the Lonely Adventurer Guild (LAG) fighting Doomwalker. I sat on a small edge high up, took out some food and watched the fun with my Ornate Spyglass.

Seems it's a pretty tough fight and the whole raid takes a lot of damage. But if you ever fought the reavers in Hellfire, it sure is a lot of fun getting stomped by those large robots. As far as i heard, i left after one fight, LAG got Doomwalker down to 30% in the best try. Not bad for the first encounter, I'm sure they'll be back. With the next content patch the Black Temple will be implemented... it will be interesting if you have to sneak past the robot to enter - could be fun. ;)

On a sidenote, i started a little (currently level 22) Draenei shaman named Teccor. It's great fun to play a shaman, although the starter areas are swamped with them - as everyone wants to try one. But making best use of totems and the difference between soloing and grouping, it's a lot of fun for me. I'm not sure how far I'll level him up yet. Our adventures in Karazhan are going well and we make good progress, I'll post more about it another time...


Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Ironshield

After our Karazhan raid yesterday, which was very smooth (no wipes at the known bosses), i could gather some people to join me for a quick Old Hillsbrad run. Since quite a while now i was searching for the Recipe: Ironshield Potion. I even started to enter myself into the LFG system and PUG that place, paying off other alchemists in the groups to pass, should it drop. But i had no luck so far.. until yesterday night. The other alchemists in the group were so nice to pass for me (thanks again guys!), so my joy about that drop was huge. ;) This leaves only two alchemy recipes to gather, which are not faction sold. Talking about faction, after my next Coilfang run I'll be able to acquire the Recipe: Major Nature Protection Potion.

Since the Armory is being more and more used by people, there is a lot of discussion and many suggestions how to take a service like that to the next level. Wouldn't it be the next logical thing to connect players also outside the game? Create a large community, add extra service like attunement tracking or recruiting? There are a few services that try to gather the critical mass to be successful, one being in beta is Rupture. I'm very sure we'll see more and more features added over time, be it from Blizzard or at some other community. A nice guild/raid community management system would be a good start...

Talking about raiding: I replaced CTRA for good. I always wanted to try oRA2 (which is compatible to CTRA concerning raid functions, so it does not matter what people use in the raid) and recently installed it. Very nice, like it a lot. Especially MT management is much faster with it. Depending on which additional functions you need, you might have to install additional mods, but IMO it's well worth it.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

...on with the show!

Remark in advance: The idiots at blogger won't accept "broken" html tags anymore, which does mean i can't use itemlinks in my blog anymore until they will enable this again. It's not even possible to report it as a bug, as they removed that function as well. stupid.

Since i was able to get a better look at Karazhan, i have to say this is a great fun raid instance. The atmosphere is very fitting and the different encounters are diversified. After a few raids i finally turned honored with the Violet Eye, which enables the smith in the stables to repair my items. This is really needed, as the next vendor to repair your stuff is where your hearthstone is bound. O.o

The funniest encounter so far was the Opera event. It's a random "play" (from three possible), so far we only got the Big Bad Wolf. A hillarious fight: One player turns into the Little Red Riding Hood and has to kite the wolf around the stage. "Run away little girl, run away!"
What we have laughed during this event... I can't wait to see the Wizard of Oz play. I also was lucky and got Eternium Greathelm from the dead wolf.

Yesterday we went back in heroic Shadow Lab to finish the trial quest. The last time we had trouble with only one healer (being a priest) as she took too much damage on the 2nd boss - not her fault, the fight is just too chaotic. We dared to go with only one healer again yesterday, but this time took a paladin. He was able to keep us up and survived quite a beating. Seems to be the perfect choice for the mainhealer in this fight. With the additional DPS, while only having one healer, the rest of the instance was quite easy. The last boss just needs 2-3 goes until all get it right, if they have never been there before. We killed Murmur and finally got our quest item. One trial down, two (Arcatraz & Shattered Halls) to go... then another one with Magtheridon, but whos counting. ;)
This heroic run enabled me to get 33 heroic badges and buy myself the Azure-Shield of Coldarra. At least now i can be a little bit more picky about which heroic instances i run, as the rest of the stuff i can buy with heroic badges is only very minor upgrades, if at all.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Beat 'em with a Stick

I acquired a new ranged weapon, a crossbow with +22 stamina. Only then i realized, i never used a xbow before. Hmmmm.. pulling with zero weapon skill is not really a good idea. So i need to go and train. The best place i know in TBC to train weapon skill of any kind is the entrance to Shadow Lab, behind the locked door (If you don't have the key, just wait in front during prime time.. usually someone comes by and opens fast). There is a scripted encounter that goes on and on where Cabal Agents come out of the Lab and are fighting other NPCs. This is quite a safe way to train your weapons, as if you don't overdo it the NPCs will hold aggro and you can just train. Especially for ranged weapons this is great.

Recently i got myself Steelgrip Gauntlets crafted (Daminus can craft them), to replace my old Stronghold Gauntlets. As some mobs eg. in Hellfire Citadel disarm lots, i thought it's a good idea to make the tank bulletproof... or something like that. ;)

Here is a link for all you tanks out there:
Thoryana's Greatest Tank Songs

Sunday, March 11, 2007

heroic Shadow Lab

As a quick pre-comment: I went back into the raiding game. I joined Impact recently. Before TBC i raided a few times with them and they are a nice bunch of people. Currently we try to run two groups for Karazhan and as soon as people are geared up enough we'll peak into Gruul's Lair.
After our last Karazhan raid a group of us decided to adventure into heroic Shadow Lab. It takes much longer in heroic then on normal, so bring enough time and don't start in the middle of the night, like we did. :)

In SL there are some things that got changed for heroics. The first two rooms at the first two bossed are the greatest pain. The warlocks near Ambassador Hellmaw are four now and beware, they cleanse each other. So it will be necessary to keep them crowd controled out of LOS from each other or a loose one can free others. I recommend using a warrior tank who stance dances for the fearing Felguards, they hit hard enough to one- or two-shot people if the tank gets feared. We had good success with using a hunter to kite them a moment and then feign, should the tank get feared. Ambassador Hellmaw has nothing new to show, just his fear seems to be longer.

The next room with the large groups (up to six mobs) requires good planning and use of CC abilities, especially as they cause more damage on heroic. If you have a priest, he should MC a mob even if hes the main healer. The acolytes (sp?) have powerful healing spells, so he can heal with them as well. We had trouble to kill Blackheart the Inciter with only one healer, so i suggest to take an off-healer with you as well. The fight is just too chaotic and one healer will struggle to keep the group up.

The next interesting challenge causes Grandmaster Vorpil. The voids will spawn much faster and his hellfire does more damage. So jump from the platform after a teleport in a split second or you take huge damage. One new trick he learned is that he'll banish a random player, can even hit the tank. As this fight is a faster time race on heroic, we found the best tactic for us was to have the tank in DPS gear (as Vorpil hits like a wuzz) and DPS him down fast. Should the voids become too many, we tried to kite him down south and when he teleports us, take him north afterwards. In total this should give you enough time to kill him.

Murmur is a nice awareness check in heroic. His touch will now work like a magnet for the other group members, so you have to spread out quickly again or else you'll take damage from your team mate exploding. Beside his Sonic Boom, he now got another AoE ability which will hit you, if you don't run back into the circle fast enough after the sonic boom. So basicly you spread out inside his circle. Watch if you get yanked from a touch and when the sonic boom comes, you run out and directly after the cast you run back in. As this fight is very boring in normal, they should have done this for normal as well - finally makes it a challenge. Unfortunately we were so tired when we reached him, that we wiped at 4%, 5% etc. After a few tries we decided to call it and get some sleep. Next time we'll take revenge. ;)

I just discovered that ItemSync seems to have problems catching all items from eg. chat. Some items it just can't remember. As the author is busy and did not fix that problem yet, i decided to switch to AtlasLoot Enhanced for the moment. Basicly it's a database with loot lists for the various instances or faction vendors etc. I tried it and very much like it... it's quick to check for certain drops and it keeps extra lists for heroic as well. In addition i upgraded my Atlas. AtlasLoot Enhanced will integrate itself into the Atlas maps, but as not all maps are in Atlas, you're better off using the own interface to check for drops. As there are several beta versions and older versions floating around, here are the two i installed (those work together perfectly):
Atlas 1.9b1

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Phoenix Mount?

Since Nihilum got attuned to the Eye (Tempest Keep raid instance) and posted a short exploration movie, discussion started if this could be the drop location for the rumoured phoenix mount. Could the mount be a drop from Al'ar the Phoenix God? Possible... only time will tell. The phoenix mount would be a very nice trophy, it looks great and in addition is a little bit faster (310%) then the epic mounts.

During the last days i was searching for a blacksmith to craft me the Helm of the Stalwart Defender. But either they were still collecting nethers for their own weapons or were not doing enough heroic instances and therefore charged insane prices for the nether/crafting fee. Therefore i decided to use Myrmidon's Headdress and got myself a Powerful Earthstorm Diamond crafted; Lokan can cut those. In combination it's nearly as good as the defender helmet. Maybe I'll change my mind if i can get one for a better price, we'll see. All about principles... ;)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Patchday with Thunderclap

Hmm.. today it was the first time i had trouble downloading the newest patch. Somehow the seed from Blizzard was not working properly, giving me trouble to download it. Luckily i remembered that filefront always mirrors the patches, so i canceled the blizzard downloader and downloaded it from
Filefront Patchdownload

With the warrior changes to Thunderclap, I'm thinking about respeccing slightly. The 3 pts in improved def-stance are ok, but not *that* useful. If we assume some mob shadowbolts me for 3000dmg, thats 180dmg less per hit. Make that 10 hits its "only" 1800dmg less. Now set that into heroic relation and it's really not that good. I'm thinking of taking improved thunderclap instead, looks appealing now and the +10% for the slowing effect should prevent some damage as well. Plus the doubled damage will improve the aggro for TC. So probably I'll respecc into this.

Tracking all the attunements and who has heroic keys for what can be quite tiresome. Did you see the Guild Attunement Chart from Fast to setup and easy to track. Maybe they should have added the other instance keys as well, but not that important. You can register your guild/community here.

As a sidenote, i picked up Truncheon of Five Hells during a heroic Ramparts run today. Gives me at least the opportunity to tank with some different weapon then the axe everyone and their mother are using. For trashmobs i use my Blinkstrike anyway.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Battle of the Crimson Watch

Did you ever wonder how people got their hands on the Green Trophy Tabard of the Illidari? Well, we did the quest yesterday, here is a small walkthrough for you. First, make sure you gather a balanced group of five people. If you want to have some fun, do this quest before the next patch hits, as the fight will be nerfed. d'oh.

It all starts with the patrol roaming the Path of Glory in Shadowmoon Valley. You need to get a hold of them and kill the Val'zareq the Conqueror elite. He'll drop The Journal of Val'zareq, which starts that quest. You'll quickly end up talking to a guy in a crystal prison. When you start the final quest, Battle of the Crimson Watch, your group members will get a pop-up to accept it as well. Don't retreat far from the platform the fight starts on, as when you do the quest fails. The final step is a fight with several waves. While the first wave consists of a bunch of trash mobs, the second one has two beholders, which can fear - so watch the guards at the end of the platform. The third step is the most fun one, four tough ghost warriors will spawn, wielding fire-swords. After the next patch you'll be able to CC them, at the moment you're not. So do it now, way more fun. ;)

After one Shattered Halls run with some guildies (they were nice enough to reset the instance with me again and bash trash until i *rep-dinged*. Thanks again guys!) yesterday, i managed to finally reach exalted with Honor Hold as well. So now i possess all heroic keys. c'mon, bring 'em on!!
BTW, did you check out the rest of the new Test Realm Patch Notes? Some nice changes for warriors down the pipe, especially that we'll be able to use Thunderclap in defensive stance, which finally will give us a more reliable AoE threat skill. The changes to the rage normalization do not excite me that much to be honest. In the forums you'll also find a long list of items that will get their stats changed. While some items will get buffed, other will get nerfed very badly. Like the Junior Technician 3rd Grade Bracers (which was to be expected) or Legguards of the Resolute Defender and Timewarden's Leggings. I already have some Bracers of the Green Fortress in my bank (they will get buffed slightly) to compensate for my bracer slot. Not sure what to do with the leggings tho. If you want to have a look, here you can find many Undocumented Patch Changes concerning item changes.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Heroics & Armory

As there are no upgrades for my gear in the normal instances and it became boring to run them over and over, I decided to focus more on heroic instances. So far i went to Slave Pens, Underbog, Steamvault, Old Hillsbrad, Mechanaar and Mana Tombs in heroic mode. The goal is to gather enough badges to "buy" the Azure-Shield of Coldarra from the heroic vendor. I'm at 20/33 badges so far... not that many runs left, counting in you gain between 3-5 badges per successful run.

It's very important tho to gather a good group, as else heroic will end up in a wipe-fest. I like heroic, despite the fact that some encounters should have some fine-tuning. While it's fun to have a few encounters like Bog Lords or Tavarok, it's quite insane that a one second lagspike can just wipe your party. For those that have not been there: these mobs hit a full-decked tank for 10k+ so the tank needs to be on full health all the time if you want to survive it. Because it's the same bosses, it can be hard to determine which drops come from heroic mode. Itemization is sometimes a bit questionable in heroic mode - risk versus reward is not always good. The thing that sucks the most is the occasional epic/unique gem, epic in quality it does take up the epic loot slot at the last boss. Means you get a gem, that's your "epic" reward. I use filter rules for itemlevels (internal) to look stuff up. While these lists, which i doubt are complete, are not entirely from heroic mode, most drops are:
heroic blue drops
heroic epic drops

In addition there could be more quests involved in heroic dungeons. So far it's only a few quests, like the trials of the Naaru, which requires you to run a few instances in heroic as part of the attunement for the Eye (lvl 70, 25 people raid instance) or a quest you pick up in heroic Slave Pens for attunement to Serpentshrine Cavern (lvl 70, 25 people raid instance). The Shattered Halls trial is supposed to be 45min baron on drugs. You need to run from the gauntlet part to the end in 55 min on heroic to make it. There should be more new minibosses or quests to spice up heroic a bit more. I lack like 1.5 Shattered Halls runs to grab my last heroic key. If i get the chance nowadays, i run instances on heroic. Should you need a tank for some crazy heroic adventure, give me a holler. ;)

Did you have a closer look at the new Armory feature Blizzard started the beta service for? Basicly it's a large database with *all* character data. Only stuff missing is the things in your bags and bank. Else *everything* is shown.. talents, reputation... everything. Your gear is saved a few times a day when you log off.. So while it provides a snap-shot, it's not sure you were wearing your main gear or just leisure clothes. Opinions about this database are split. While it has some useful features, like a proper guild member look-up, some PvPers are angry as they want their specc to be a "secret", as much as that's possible. In my opinion Blizzard should add a bit of functionality for guilds, like attunement tracking and such, and maybe add opt-out functionality for those that want their specc to be a secret. Then it could become a very useful tool. If you want to look at a profile, mine can be found here: Thulf at the Armory

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