Monday, February 25, 2008


You dinged 70. Gratz. You did the four instances required (Shadow Labyrinth, Steamvaults, Arcatraz and Black Morass). You're ready for Karazhan, right?

Probably not.

I have a friend whose guild is knocking on the door of having enough folks at the appropriate level of heading into the world of raiding. He knows they are not ready as a guild, but doesn't feel he has a good argument for why. He was asking how he would know they were ready so they could evaluate themselves.

This started a rather longish debate which I soon realized was a blog topic.

While I'd like to break this down by each class and spec, it's not practical to spindle and mutilate each stat for a number of possibilities.

At the minimum a guild beginning to think about the Kara raid needs to have a group of 2 tanks (preferably one that can also fulfill another role), 3 healers, and 5 DPS. I know there are guilds who farm Karazhan without this makeup. But I'd almost guarantee they didn't start raiding it with whatever mutant makeup they use now. Make sure your tanks are specced to tank and your healers are specced to heal.

Each of your potential little raiders should have the majority of their equipment be blue (or above). Some greens in some slots are nearly unavoidable. I know my hunter wore the Duro Footgear quest reward for just about forever. What we're looking for here is that green items are the definite minority.

Now, run each of them through the BeImba site. It should be smart enough to look at specs and decide what they need. Pay special attention to enchants, gemming, and low gear. The site is awesome sauce enough to recommend different gems or enchants if it's done improperly. It will also recommend enchants or gems for pieces that aren't enchanted or have empty sockets.

As a team building exercise, you may want to suggest your group of potential raiders work together to kit one another out. Perhaps a grind for a static drop enchanting recipe is in order. Maybe someone needs the reputation to buy a glyph for their helmet. Also some classes might need help with a group quest to get a much needed gear upgrade. Also don't forget to suggest they do Heroics as training for Karazhan. The team that can take apart any Heroic Instance you throw at them is a group that goes far in Kara.

Finally have each of them check out the raiding checklist on this here site. It might not be a bad idea for them to also review which of their own cooldowns belong to the raid. There may be things on the checklist that can also be farmed while you're doing team building.

And when the dust settles, if your group has listened and done the things you asked, you won't have to answer whether they are ready. Because they will know they are ready, and you won't have to question that knowledge.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mobile WoW?

This seems to be big news on a number of sites that I read or podcasts to which I listen. The basic news is that Blizzard is evaluating and working on mobile solutions to allow interaction with WoW. Let's just state for the record, this will not be the full version of the game that's playable on a phone. I'm pretty sure the hardware doesn't exist for this. Instead it is more likely to be a thin client that allows only social interaction (chat) or (limited) auction house usage.

Everything I'm hearing and seeing indicates that people are pretty excited about this one. For me, not so much. I guess my objections really boil down to two major ones.

Objection the First (to rip a page out of Rat's book)

  • I don't need to be that plugged in to WoW. Honestly, this game consumes enough of my life. The only place I'd even consider using such a feature of my phone is on the bus ride to work. And that's the time I use for listening to podcasts and catching up on sites that I've not been able to read earlier (on my Blackberry). So I don't have the time for such a thing, and with the sort of addictive drug that WoW is, I'm sure there are folks worse off than I am. It might not be such a great idea for Blizzard to capitalize on the remaining scraps of your life that are left.
Objection the Second
  • The bigger issue I see is security. Within the last few months, the reports of hacked accounts have been everywhere. Keyloggers, trojans, and other methods abound for getting at your WoW login. And this still happens to folks that are (presumably) careful in their network security and virus protection. Perhaps I'm naive here, but not knowing enough about phone security works makes me think phones are less secure than my own PC. And there doesn't seem to be a whole lot I could do to improve that
So, for me, I'm not excited about Mobile WoW. I don't need to spend even more time on WoW than I already do and I'm unsure about the security of it all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Addons & You

SaladFork of Omen of Clarity fame posted a list of five questions about Add-ons in the Blogstorming section of BlogAzeroth. Since I'm good at lists, I thought I'd pick up the challenge and go with it.

He asked,

  • How many addons do you have?
  • What addons can you not live without?
  • If you met someone new to the game using the default UI, what addons would you recommend they start with?
  • What are important qualities you look for when you look for new addons?
  • How do you usually find new addons? Are they recommended to you? Do you search for them? Are they required by your guild?
  • What sort of layout does your UI have?
For the number of addons I have, its a pretty strange answer. I was a beta tester for the MazzleUI from WowInterface. Since beginning the beta (almost a year and a half ago now) I have for the most part let the latest build of the compilation dictate what's in my UI. I have added a few things, and replaced some. Those things are GroupCalendar, Omen, Violation, Ogri'lazy and sometimes Auctioneer. I will state clearly, that MazzleUI is not as updated as it once was, and it's so nearly deprecated it's not funny. But I'm not code smart enough to fix it. The absolute things I can't live without are having the 5-man units at the bottom of the screen which makes healing easier and the autoplacement of spells into bars. Those two just rock hard.

The addons I can't live without are, a threat meter (Omen), better Unit Frames (DUF/sRaid Frames), and some bar mod (Bongos).

For a total newbie to UI modification, I'd start them with Mazzle if I could talk them into it. If not, they must absolutely have a threat meter. Useful only in groups (unless playing a hunter or lock), nothing says "Hey, I know what I'm doing" more than a threat meter.

For new add-ons, I always look for the Ace alternative. Since so many of my mods are Ace mods, I like to keep it in the family.

I usually find new add-ons through word of mouth. And for me, "word of mouth" includes reading others blogs and listening to the few podcasts I actually remember to download.

Layout for me, is pretty much built into Mazzle. But I think it's a clean compilation which puts important information in the right places. It keeps the center of the field of view open so you can see the most important thing -- what's going on in game without hiding it behind addon windows.

So, that's my post. I hope this is my welcome back to regular blogging!!

So. Here's a shot of my UI...With the bonus of the bottom of Karazhan included...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Remember me?

Yes. It's me. I'm back, hopefully from a bit of a blogging slump. It's funny how the tiniest thing can set you off and send you down a long spiral road from which it's hard to recover.

For me, it was neglecting to save a post I was working on. Like a dummy I wasn't writing it in the Blogger interface, but instead in some silly text editor. So, I neglected to save it and the post (which was mostly done) disappears into the ether(net). I happen to have liked the post a lot, but instead of recreating it, I let myself get bogged down in the minutiae. So. I think I've kicked the blogblock and am ready to begin posting in earnest again.

Now. All that said, I don't have the foggiest what I should blog on. Maybe a trip over to BlogAzeroth is in order to get the juices flowing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By Any Other Name

I was desperate for a blog topic today so I wandered over to BlogAzeroth and took a look at shared blog topic ideas. There was a post there suggesting we blog about our characters' names to include alts. So. Here goes.

My first MMORPG was City of Heroes. I had resisted the call of MMOs previously because I know how addictive my personality can get. And I knew many friends who got hooked on the Evercrack never to be heard from again. I figured I could avoid a fantasy game as when I was a wee table-topper D&D (and clones) were not my first choice. Instead I loved the Champions game. You know, the one about super-heroes.

So, when I found there actually was an MMO that was all about the supers, I was hooked! I pored carefully over the five classes I could play and their powers. There were tankers, scrappers, blasters, controllers and defenders. Little did I know it but, defenders were about the closest thing to a true healer there was. I chose Radiation Emission as my primary power and Radiation Control as my secondary. Got my outfit put together. (By the by, character creation in COH was amazing. You could hundreds of changes to body parts, armors, colors, hair, face, and so forth). Now I just needed a name. I chose, Brehmstrahlung.

Well, so what, I hear you cry. What does Radiation Boy wearing his underwear on the outside have to do with WoW? Well, a lot actually. As my first MMO, COH introduced me to many things including Ventrilo. Type "Brehmstrahlung" into a Vent client as your login name if you want a laugh. And listening to folks I barely knew mangle it was also interesting. Early on, I told people, "Just call me 'Brem' if that's easier."

When I picked up WoW with several of my COH cronies, I just chose the same moniker. And started varying spelling, adding consonants, inserting suffixes, etc. So. Here's the whole list.

  1. Bremm (70 Human Priest)
  2. Brehm (70 Dwarf Warrior)
  3. Bremette (70 Gnome Warlock)
  4. Bremagorn (70 Dwarf Hunter)
  5. Bremmie (70 Gnome Rogue)
  6. Bremtanica (28 Draenei Mage)
  7. Bremma (26 Draenei Shaman)
  8. Brem (19 Dwarf Priest)
  9. Bremstar (16 Night Elf Druid *probably on the chopping block*)
  10. Bremomir (60 Tauren Hunter)
And they all live on the Alleria server. Feel free to stop by and say hello. If you can find me that is :-)

Monday, February 11, 2008

WSG 19

I’m not going to say that WSG at 19 is only for twinks. I refuse. BGs are really for all players at all skill levels. It gives a fresh perspective to you on your favorite game. All I will ask is please consider the other folks in your group.

Let me start by saying I’ve never twinked. My current character in 19WSG is there to gather some honor and tokens. He’s also there to accumulate some rested XP. To some degree, I think that doing all the things a twink needs to do is counterproductive in terms of time (both yours and your friends’) and gold.

To enter WSG and be an asset to your team you do not have to:

  • Have to have the best gear for level 19 available.
  • Have to beg and borrow run throughs from your friends.
  • Have to spend hundreds or thousands of gold to buy the extremely rare world drops. Have to find and keep an enchanter on retainer who has all of the Argent Dawn, Timbermaw and Thorium Brotherhood enchants.
  • Have to be enchanted at all.
There are usually nine other folks in WSG with you. Many of them have done all the things I just said you didn’t have to. Many of them have thousands of kills at level 19. Many of them have done this to win. You are relying on them to help you win.

To enter WSG and be an asset to your team you do have to:
  • Have reasonable gear (greens with some whites is okay, blue is better).
  • Be of reasonable level (Not under 15. Please don’t come in at 10).
  • Understand the objectives of WSG and follow a plan.
So, if you’re the level twelve druid who was in my WSG group the other night with zero blues and zero greens and hanging around the flag room asking what this place was all about, I respectfully ask that you don’t queue for any more WSG until you are at least level 16 (nice skills at 16!) and have the majority of your gear green and not white (or god forbid grey). Please also do some research on the game and how you can contribute.

I’m not trying to be elitist and keep you out altogether. Instead, I’m telling you how you can be an asset to your team.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Twinkies? Yes please!

Let me start of by saying that I’ve always eschewed the practice of twinking. I’ve never understood spending (potentially) hundreds of gold on a level 19 dude. Heck everyone else I’ve ever focused on lived in their motley collection of quested gear and made due. If I got the chance at a good blue on a drop, I’d always take it, but I never went out of my way to acquire them.

I’m currently in a three-person agreement to level some guys up. Someone I got into the game has never really been able to play with me because I focused on 70s and hoped he’d catch up. Well, it’s been a year and he hasn’t. Not anyone’s fault really, but we finally decided that if we didn’t set out to make it happen, it never would.

For lack of a better term, we came up with this “business plan.”

The Plan

  1. He has a dwarf warrior he wants to play sitting idle at level 29. The other two members of the group are creating new dudes and catching up to him.
  2. The two of us are pausing at level 19 to let our rest xp build up and to get a little honor and marks while we’re at the top of our bracket. We’ll also pause at 29 and 39. The rest of the nines are still up for discussion. What we did at about 17 (and presumably do for the other sevens where we’ll be doing BG) is to start acquiring some gear. Here’s how I did it.
    • I went to Lootables and set the filter to display rare items from level 15 to 19 that were cloth. I went through each of the equipment slots to find the best armor I could get at that point. I researched where the pieces dropped, whether they were BOP or BOE, and got some runs. I’m playing a (shadow) priest. I managed to pick up both the staff and wand from Deadmines and the cloth chest from Shadowfang. I also purchased a blue belt from the AH.
    • Played a few BGs. (Queue times in the 19 bracket suck)
    • Tried to analyze where the weaknesses are. I’m still running on high level alts to see if I can pick up a few blue BOE pieces. Also I’m looking at what enchants make sense for the various slots. I know that all pre-BC stuff can go on twink gear. But the really awesome stuff is going to cost in materials. If I can get by for a week or so with being unenchanted I’d rather do that. Since this isn’t a true twink I’m not willing to blow multiple high-level shards, dusts and essences to fix up gear I’m going to be jettisoning in a couple of weeks.
    • The enchants I do decide to buy aren’t totally wasted because they’ll be good for the next push of ten levels to the next nine.
    • I’m focusing right now on a couple of areas for BG: stamina, intellect, health and armor. If I can get some +healing or +damage as well, I won’t object.
    • Save honor to fill in key areas where there are holes for the next bracket.
  3. We’re only going to play (once the two of us hit 29) when all three of us can be on. I expect that’ll be two or three times a week for a few hours. Sum total probably 8-15 hours per week.
  4. Hit level 70 sometime this year. Yeah. Probably not going to happen.

Experiences So Far

Well, we’re 19 and have done three BGs. We won all three, so I’m sitting there with some pittance of honor and 9 WSG marks of honor.

I’m noticing a few things. First off, movement before horses makes WSG a totally different BG than I’m used to. There isn’t a mad rush for the other stronghold; it’s more of a leisurely stroll – with dots. I’ve not run into a situation where I needed the PVP trinket. Yes, it would be nice to remove some impairing effects; it hasn’t hampered me too much.

Rogues don’t scare me much. At 19, there is no real stunlock capability. I get quick casts where I can do any of three instants – psychic scream, shield, or renew. If I get a chance to respond, I don’t have a problem with rogues, although I did stock up on antivenins to take care of their poisons.

Finally, even a little healing goes a long way. In games where I was really the only healer, my new friends could take care of opposition if I kept them up. Cleansing the hunter marks, dots, sheeps and fears also kept my guys pushing out the damage to them.

All in all, I really enjoyed my WSG 19 experience. I’m only at about 15% rest as of last night, so I’ve another 9 days or so of idling. I’ll see how my experience changes before I hit 150% rest.

Next steps

Right now, I’m not terribly worried about gear and enchants. I’ve not seen any urgent need to kit myself out better. What I have is adequate and far exceeds what some other dudes are wearing. Granted, I think all three horde teams I fought were scrub teams where folks were just trying to get a little honor. I don’t think I’ve run into any pre-made twink groups, so I’ll have to assess as we go. I’ll keep you all posted.

For The Horde! - Blogroll Additions

No, I'm not switching sides. I'm adding a few blogs to the blogroll, and amazingly they're all horde based blogs. It makes me feel a little sad that I've gleefully killed so many hordies lately in BGs and am now highlighting them on the blog. But here we go, nonetheless.

Nalik over at Feather Duster writes from the perspective of a balance druid. I like it because we seem to be at the same stage raid-wise, it's well written and includes fun neologisms which he insists are real words. Fun!

Troll on a Powerbook is a fun read as well. Rayare is her sub-70 hunter. So I can relax about killing her in PVP battlegrounds. My guys play at 70 or recently, 19.

Finally, we have Tzia over at Have Bow Will Travel. The writing here is tight and good. And I just love the blog header. I need to get me a picture for my banner. Any artists?

Anyway, just a little quick update. Later, I'm going to talk a little about my twink project!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Buff that Weapon!

I think we're all pretty well aware of weapon enchants. The stuff you pay someone to do and put your weapon in the "Do Not Trade" portion of a trade window. They add a permanent (until overwritten) effect to your weapon. What we all sometimes overlook is other weapon buffs that can be applied.

First off, the folks most familiar with the sorts of weapon buffs I'm speaking of are rogues. Ever since level 20 (or was it 22?) rogues have been able to apply poison to their weapons. And lord do those poisons come in a wide variety of types - instant, deadly, anesthetic, crippling, mind numbing, and wound. All for different purposes.

Shamans are also quite familiar with weapon buffs in the form of spells (and eventually totems). Each shaman weapon buff also does a wide variety of things.

But that's not all. No way.

Next we get into weapon buffs produced by various tradeskills.

  • Alchemy produces some oils that go on weapons, like [Frost Oil], [Oil of Immolation], or [Shadow Oil].
  • Enchanting can make both Mana Oils (for mana regeneration) and Wizard Oil (for spell damage). The earliest versions of these oils are available at under 100 enchanting.
  • Blacksmiths make both weight stones (for blunt weapons) and sharpening stones (for edged weapons).
Now, if you're not one of these professions, it's not a big deal if you're not leveling with these things on your weapons, I'm not going to come hunt you down. But there's no reason to NOT use them if you do have the skills. Especially since weapon buffs like this persist through death. However, if you're doing raids or are an appropriate level twink, you really need to have this stuff on your weapon. I mean, you need every bit of oomph you can pump out, right?

Rogues, at least, may want to consider swapping out poisons for stones in the event you're fighting a lot of nature based enemies or a lot of elementals. Many nature based mobs are immune to poisons, and I think every elemental is. So, when you're heading to Dire Maul or Zul'Gurub, consider stocking up on stones instead.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Assignment: Healing

No. This isn't some bizarre game where I give you homework. Instead I want to talk about healing assignments for raiding. I'll look at why you need to do this, some ideas about what makes sense as far as assignments and why you should start the moment you touch a raiding situation.

A story

Once upon a time a raid group went into Karazhan with 2 tanks, 5 DPS and 3 healers. Since this is a fairy tale about healing the healers are Crouton (a priest), Tigerlily (a druid) and Throm (a paladin). If the raid leader isn't aware of healing assignments here's what will happen. Everyone heals the people who need topped off. Inevitably, this means that Throm who can spam flashes of light with almost no impact to his mana will heal everyone as quickly as possible. Tigerlily who's faithfully staying in treeform and healing with her super-powered druid HOTs is also healing as needed. She's also keeping lifebloom stacks on the tank(s). Throm, having read priest blogs before, is using his POM like a pro and casting greater heals on needy targets. Our intrepid band of adventurers moves on to Attumen, and after several attempts ending in wipes, the raid leader calls a five minute break to let the trash finish respawning before their final attempt of the night. During the break, Crouton looks at his healing meters and sees his overhealing is running around60%. He's a little depressed because he knows he's not wasting that much mana and he's feeling like it's his fault they are wiping. Tigerlily also looks at her meters and sees she's also overhealing. She's not as overcome as Throm, because she expects to overheal some. But her overhealing number of 45% feels a little high to her. Throm, on the other hand, begins sharing in the healer channel what his numbers show and how he is singlehandedly outhealing the other two healers combined. He's quite proud of himself and his contribution to the team. The raid re-assembles and the raid leader asks for a debrief about what's going wrong. Hesitantly, Crouton asks if maybe the healing responsibility for the tanks shouldn't be split between he and Throm and have Tiger pick up the raid heals. The raid leader immediately agrees and assigns Crouton main tank healing, Throm off tank healing and Tiger to pick up the raid. They clear again, engage and kill Attumen. The healing meters now show that while there was still overhealing, it was in the 20-30% range and the distribution of healing overall was more equal. Additionally, only one of the healers needed to drink a potion, and the innervate is available for later.

So, what can we learn from Throm, Crouton and Tigerlily? Probably lots of things, but let's start with:

  • Paladins have a short casting time heal that can cause other healers to overheal. There's a reason they are considered the best single-target healer.
  • Druids should expect overhealing higher than other healers. In tree form, they live on HOTs and HOTs can tick once the recipient is at full life. If druids are casting the longer direct heals, they can land huge heals, again increasing the overheal.
  • Priests should expect some overhealing due to Renew and POM.
  • Not determining healing assignments exacerbates the problem of overhealing. Additionally, it's more costly to healers (at least some of them) in terms of raid consumables.
Did the raid leader assign the healers correctly? Probably. While it's probably an entire post on its own, healers have things they do best.
  • Paladins - Single target heals, cleansing, nearly limitless mana supply. Excellent main tank healers.
  • Shamans - Multi-target heals. Totem love. Some cleansing. Good raid healers.
  • Druids - Heals over time. Innervate. Battle Rez. Good raid healers.
  • Priests - Not best at any one thing, but most versatile healers. Good tank healers.
But, why does it matter who heals whom in a stupid ten-man instance? It might not. Having healing assignments is almost always more mana efficient. And if ten-mans are where you stop, you can quite possibly get away with never doing assignments.

However, mana conservation and proper healing becomes more prominent later. If you or your guild has any thought of moving past Karazhan, it makes good sense to get into the habit of assignments now. It's sort of like house training a puppy. If you correct bad habits early, you're not stepping in it when the dog is full grown.