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Patch 3.3 – The Holy Grail of WoW Patches?

December 11, 2009 1 comment

I’ve been holding out high hopes for patch 3.3 for a good month or two now. In that time frame, I’ve ascended from long-time raider through loot council member and now GM of our guild. I’ve watched as people have come and go, either from RL issues (notably a couple of folks being extremely ill/sick; here’s wishing them good luck on recovery) or from burnout due to the bore-fest that is ToC.

I logged on Tuesday evening fully expecting not to raid at all that night, due to lag (where there was a good amount of, especially in Dalaran), instances not loading (which did occur), or the server not being up at all (which was the case when I logged on, but it was up within 5 minutes). Instead, we managed to clear 2 of the 4 available bosses and got in a try or two on the gunship battle before calling it for a night. Wednesday we returned to ICC and finished off the last 2 available bosses, with Deathbringer Saurfang being a bit of a cockblock, but we figured it out (lol sacrifice low armor folks that get marked :P). As a whole, the fights weren’t too difficult; should go smoother next week now that we have a better idea of how the fights work. Our 2 10 man groups made quick work of the dungeon, but were pleased by some of the upgrades that dropped (I passed on a really nice resto belt to one of our resto shaman mains, even though I was healing at the time).

Before our raids last night, I decided to try the new LFG out for the first time. Of course, with my ever-so wonderful luck, the first dungeon I got put in was Occulus. It turned out to not be a big deal, because the group I got steamrolled the whole thing in 20 minutes…heh, I remember running it a year ago and steamrolling it then with guildies, and back then it was nowhere near as nerfed. Other runs I got (HoS, Gundrak) went as smooth as you could hope for from a PUG. I was queuing as dps, and the wait time was no more than 2-3 minutes; for a tank or a healer, I suspect it’s nearly instant. The bonus badges you receive will make the random dungeon feature wildly popular; I’m still farming up the last bit of badges needed to round out my lolFurious PVP set (since I’m not hardcore about running arena, but enjoy WG/BG pvp).

The next wing of ICC won’t be open until January 5th, so until then, all we have to play with in ICC is just the first 4 bosses we’ve already downed. Some folks are going to be disappointed about that, but I view it as Blizzard’s way of saying “Hey, the holidays are almost here…chill out and do other stuff or just take it easy on WoW for now”, heh.

Despite the gating, I believe 3.3 is shaping up to be one of the better patch releases we’ve had in WoW, which is a wonderful thing considering how meh 3.2/ToC was. Hard to say if this patch will be considered the best that Blizzard has put out, because right now it’s a pair of rose-tinted glasses after putting up with ToC for 3+ months. Even though I’m dragging ToC through the mud, we did a farm run of it last night and scored another Death’s Choice along with a Reign of The Dead…exactly the items I was hoping would drop.

ICC isn’t without it’s bugs, though. Last night, the 10 man group I was in had our airship get stuck in mid air way far away from the landing platform after defeating the gunship encounter, so we had to hop off the ship and go splat in order to take the teleporter. Also, don’t let someone teleport to the rampart between Deathwhisper and the gunship battle; we had someone do that and they ran back and fell down the elevator, only to bug up the place and cause people entering the dungeon to get warped up to the rampart and get gibbed. This also occured when anyone would take the elevator up; get in combat halfway up and you end up warping the raid up one by one, usually to their deaths. Very annoying.

Icewell Radiance hasn’t rendered our tanks as squishy as I had expected. I can see that so far, Blizz has accomplished what they set out to do: Smooth out the damage tanks were taking to make healing more strategic rather than “OMG SPAM NUKE HEELZ 4 TANK PLZ”. I’ve been resto for most all of our ICC excursions, and I’ll say that healing the boss fights here is much easier than healing that asshat in ToC known as Gormok. If this is the direction they want to take healing in Cataclysm, then I give my approval. Tanks are going to QQ over the changes since they won’t avoid 50%+ of attacks directed their way, but healers will be thanking Blizzard for making their lives a LOT easier.

Aside from the lore and bits of humor, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the new 5 mans. They are fun, though, and provide some more places to go for folks that have beaten previous heroics into the dirt. Items from these new heroics will complement triumph badge gear well, making the process of gearing alts/new mains even easier than ever. Ulduar and Naxx are nothing more than badge/shard pinatas at this point due to the combination of new drops from the IC heroics + triumph badge loot. I’m not complaining one bit, though; this will let me round out my paladin’s gear (namely his ret set) and I’ll be able to catch my warrior up, too, especially since I’ll be able to dps for groups on him now rather than feel forced to need prot as a second spec. I can play prot and do ok at it, but I’m much more in my element on a warrior as dps.

Harkening back to my last post here…we’ve gone from barely having 20 folks online for raids to having damn near 30 now, between folks coming back and new recruits pouring in this week. Obviously, I suspect the patch as being the major catalyst for that. I wonder how many of the returnees will be around come March/April when Arthas takes a dirt nap and we start working on heroic modes…

Long story short: So far, so good regarding 3.3. Here’s hoping that trend continues.

3.2 has arrived!

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

So I leave for a week’s vacation to a location without internet access and what does Blizzard do? They release patch 3.2, of course. I honestly didn’t expect 3.2 to be live until later this month, but based on how buggy the release was (Ysera was pretty much down all of Tuesday and into Wednesday, from what I’ve gathered), the vacation timing was perfect.

While chilling at the airport in Atlanta during a 4 hour layover, I went about downloading and patching the game. Got home and started checking stuff out. I’m loving the heck out of the new totem bar that has been implemented, and the Call spells (for dropping up to 4 totems at once) is one of the bigger shaman changes in several years, IMO. I may see if I can run TotemTimers along with this new bar, because I do miss TT for using the lesser-used totems (resist totems, for example).

I thought I would hate the changes to Wintergrasp, but so far it seems ok. I like how I can queue for it in Dal, leave, then get ported once the battle begins. Beats having to sit around the portal room with a thumb up my ass (not literally, mind you) for 10 or whatever minutes. I have all the new items for my shaman…now to farm tokens on my warrior, heh. I’m bittersweet about being able to fly in WG when the battle isn’t going; it’s gonna make achievements such as Wintergrasp Ranger a PITA to obtain. I suppose it gives the zone more of a world PVP flavor, though, where you have to contend with folks dropping in on you from above to attempt to gank you (Ysera is a PVE server, FYI).

The new 5 man dungeon, Trial of the Champion, boggles me. Here we have a fairly simple dungeon that churns out some pretty damn good loot and doesn’t take very long to run. Heroic mode drops are on par with Ulduar 10 items, while folks can farm it on regular for some pretty decent starter epics, especially some of the trinkets (I want the tank trinket for both of my plate wearers, heh). Sadly, I’m looking forward to (hopefully) getting the caster dagger from heroic mode for my shaman; Ulduar was a total disappointment with all of 2 weapons properly itemized for elemental (I’m discounting the legendary mace for obvious reasons). The weapon drops in heroic make for good starting weapons for those of us with alts that were stuck with, say, Titansteel weapons. All the ArP gear from there has the inner warrior within me licking his chops (I’ve picked up the bracer from there already).

So far I’m pleased with the patch. Only disappointment I have is the gate lockout mechanism on the raid content; basically, no one will be able to fully clear the new raid until September. I suppose they’re doing that to leave us a couple more weeks of running Ulduar to tie up any loose ends left there.

Algalon is not The Raid Destroyer…

July 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I am.

Well, ok; Blizzard has not graced me with that title, but I’ve got a pretty good case as to why that title should be bestowed upon me were it to actually be an in-game title.

Karazhan, circa mid-late 2007 – We were finishing up the run with Nightbane. Fight was going along as normal, right until after the last air phase. Got Nightbane to under 20%. That’s money shot time for a warrior (my warrior was my main at the time), so I decided to go balls-out: Death Wish, Recklessness, and Blood Fury were all up, and I popped some trinket as well for additional attack power, then started spamming Execute like it was going out of style. After 3-4 consecutive execute crits (with white hits/crits weaved in), Nightbane decided to turn and face me to say hi…in a fiery-dragon-breath manner. Managed to kill 5 others along with myself, and in the end, all we had remaining were the main tank and a healer, who combined managed to whittle Nightbane down from 5% to dead. I went nuts like that because I had the utmost trust in our main tank, but even the best tanks in the world can’t hold threat from a warrior that was going ape shit with every dps cooldown active.

The Immortal Run, circa early 2009 – Yep, I’m one of those people that managed to foil a glorious run up to Kel’Thuzad. One of our hunters became mind controlled right after phase 2 had started, and no one had CCed him for a good 3-5 seconds. I decided to run over and hex him, oblivious to the fact I just had the detonate mana debuff placed on me, then BLAMMO! One of our mages exploded in a blaze of arcane matter and fleshy bits. At that point, I wanted to hang my head and curl into a fetal position while I bit my fingers off. Instead, I just tossed my headset off, finished the fight, hearthed, then logged. We had other deaths occur during the fight, but I attribute that to an air-out-of-the-balloon snowball effect, where folks were going “wtf just happened?” when I nuked that mage, therefore losing focus and dying to silly things. To add further insult to injury, another Horde guild managed to obtain the title that same evening, right before our botched attempt (they finished within 30-45 mins before us). Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

Wednesday Night – My internet connection decided to take a dump on me starting around 10 PM. We had just defeated XT hard mode along with Kologarn, Auriaya, and were about to attempt hard mode Hodir. While prepping, my connection drops. I disconnected a second time while running back after dying, but basically missed the entire fight (we ended up clearing it normal mode). Later I would disconnect right after we defeated Thorim and right at the start of phase 2 on Freya.

Last night – Towards the end of the evening while working on Yogg, I manage to disconnect 10 or so seconds after the initial pull. My job during phase 1 is to assist our tanks with taking the guardians down to the middle by earth shocking any casts the guardians may attempt. Guess what? I disconnected right as I was down near the middle assisting with dps and interrupts…right in the path of 3 clouds passing through. But wait, there’s MORE! I get reconnected, log on Vent to the sarcasm of our raid leader regarding how I manage to fail in epic proportions. I agree, crack a joke about hating the internet and universe or such, then logged back into WoW…only to find that I had NOT died (Hodir is a dick), and the raid had just rebuffed and was awaiting to run in for the next attempt. Needless to say, that was another wipe.

Ok, so a fair bit of the fail for me can be attributed to factors out of my control (silly ISP), but when I do fail in raids, it’s like I fail on levels people can only dream about (or have nightmares about, if you will). No, I don’t lose sleep over these occurences, even when I managed to ruin the Immortal attempt.

If you’re going to fail in this game (or at anything, really)…make that shit memorable. Don’t just die in a void zone or fail at the regular things people fail at. Make people’s jaws drop when you tell them how you failed. It’s bad enough that you failed to begin with; might as well make it so epic that later on you can’t help but laugh at it.

What’s a debuff?

July 2, 2009 1 comment

I was a long time raider as a warrior, dating back from limited experience in vanilla to the first half of TBC. I never thought of myself as a super-dee-duper warrior. Good, yes, but not great (I hold that stance with shaman, also, along with paladin). I’m not a braggart; I only brag in jest.

Over the months, I’ve repeatedly heard the comments of “I wish you still played your warrior” from a few guildmates. I figured it was for nostalgia’s sake, but no…the general response would be something along the lines of “You have sunder on your bar”, heh. One would think an elemental shaman would give two flying shits about sunder armor…but the warrior within cries at night when he hears other warriors having to be prodded by officers/raid leaders to slap sunders on a boss.

There are three debuffs that a warrior should have up on a raid boss: Sunder Armor, Demoralizing Shout, and Thunder Clap. Protection spec warriors get dibs on Thunder Clap, because they have a talent that increases the attack speed slow effect from 10% to 20%; tanking druids and paladins have abilities that can also apply this effect, so for a DPS warrior, there will be very rare occasions where TC is used. Demo Shout can be increased in effectiveness by talents in the fury tree, but fury warriors now have most all their points spent elsewhere to increase personal DPS; I believe feral druid’s Demo Roar can match the effects of Improved Demo Shout, though. That aside, a warrior should be keeping demo shout up regardless, unless there’s said feral druid with improved demo roar. With 3.2, Ret paladin’s Vindication will also accomplish the same effect as Demo Shout/Roar (tooltip in the link is erroneous).

Now, for the debuff that everyone loves: Sunder Armor. It does not matter what spec warrior you are…make sure Sunder is stacked on a boss ASAP!!! When it’s up, do what it takes to make certain sunder does NOT fall off. A stack of sunders is possibly the most powerful buffs/debuffs in the game in terms of increasing damage done. It benefits not only the warrior putting them up, but it helps fellow warriors, rogues, hunters, enhance shaman, feral druids, DKs (especially blood DKs like my guildmate Valdarion, and ret paladins. There’s bound to be a mix of several of the aforementioned classes/specs in most every raid. Sunder armor makes them happy in special places. Make it happen.

Being the only warrior in a raid can be interesting. With arms, you’re hitting some sort of special on nearly every GCD available, so putting debuffs up can make for a fun time…but it’s completely doable and should be done, even if you miss out on a execute/OP proc. The benefit for the raid that refreshing the sunder stack makes will FAR exceed the damage from that one execute/OP. Fury has a bit more leeway with GCD to where it is easier to keep debuffs up/refreshed; with BT/WW on cd and HS not causing GCD, there a minimum 2-3 second window where debuffs can be applied.

Based on our our DPS has performed the past 2 nights in Ulduar, we need every single edge we can get. I personally have started to believe that I may have to look at leveling a “pure dps” alt, since elemental DPS is still a ways behind, per Blizzard (sadly, I don’t have a link). I’m here to win, so I’ll do what it takes, but I believe the dps and utility I provide is sufficient enough…for now.

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