Sorry for the silence

AOL recently rolled out new guidelines on how WoW Insider articles need to be written, and since I have an article due tomorrow I’m finding myself having to do massive research to make sure I get it all right.

I will say, when I first heard about the new direction WoW Insider was going to take, I was pretty skeptical.

But the more I tear into this, the more excited I’m getting. I think that the new content is, if anything, going to be even more popular than what we’ve done in the past. And considering the massive market in Asia, I can certainly see the reasoning behind the changes.

Anyway, between the new article changes and my normal work, I’m pretty swamped. But tune in tomorrow to WI, and you’ll see that I’ve been working my big bear butt off.

I hope you had fun this weekend, guys.

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Bears’ Night Out!

I’m just looking to see if there would be any interest for those folks local to the Twin Cities, Minnesota area to get together with the Big Bear Butt for a few Guinness (Or beverage of choice), Irish Music, and general shooting of the breeze.

I typically leave the house at least twice a year, whether I like it or not, to partake of Guinness in the company of strangers and friends and listen to the Tim Malloys, the finest band in all of history, break out with the music and song.

I feel one of those times is almost upon me, and while I know that quite a few of my readers may not quite be of a legal age to partake of the alcohol, and fewer still may live in this area of the world… well, you never know. There might be some who are, and do, and might just feel like showing up.

My first, tentative idea, is to think about going out Friday evening, April 11th, to Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis, there to see the Tim Malloys who will take the stage around about 9ish.

Now, my other idea, now that the weather is turning warmer, is to have a more open environment, where folks of all ages would be welcome (as well as their parents, of course), at one of the area picnic parks, there to have both Guinness and beverages more appropriate for the under age crowd available, and shoot the bull and listen to the Malloys on a boombox. Maybe grill some burgers and brats, you know.

So, let me know what you think, cause come hell or high water, I’m gonna have me some Guinness and listen to the Tims in the very near future. And I’d hope that some of y’all could be there.

I now return you to your normally scheduled MrT run.

******

Edited by Cassieann:

As an extension to BBB’s idea above for those that aren’t local to our real hometown, I had the following idea:

Now that everyone on the server is descending upon the new Isle to do questing and check things out, it suddenly feels like there’s a lot more players in the game.  Just tons and tons of people running all over the same place, rather than spread out around the world.  BBB and I would love to have the chance to spot readers in the game.  So if you’re on the Kael’thas US Server, let us know your character name (and maybe guild to make you easier to spot) here and we’ll keep our eyes open for you in the game and hopefully get a chance to say hello to you “in person.”

Continuing our talk on raiding stress…

Thank you all for your very smart and wise comments on keeping perspective and balance in the game, the guild, and remembering to have fun.

Stress over the pressures from guildies to raid lots is nothing new. I have been in this situation once before, when BC originally came out, and I quit that guild because of the pressures I was feeling to always raid. I’m not planning on doing that now, for one thing the people in this guild are a lot like a second family to me, and there are better ways to handle things than quitting, taking my ball and going home.

But the fact remains, this is a game, and stress from a game is stupid.

In this case, the main reason I feel obligated is because I accepted the responsibility of being an officer in the guild.

It’s absolutely right for anyone in a guild that has real life commitments to not sign up for, or go to, last minute raids or even every single raid.

But, and there has to be a butt, I have that feeling that I should be there, every time, because I am not just another member, I am one of the officers, and I feel that if I do not show strong support for our attempts to progress, then I’m letting the guild down.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t one of the best geared tanks in the guild right now. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this stressed, either, since our healers and other tanks are in the same boat. The very best geared and best players, people like Whirlish, Gerolan, Kellas, Shadewynn, and Rynadur… these are people that, if there is a raid scheduled, are counted on to be available for us to have a strong chance.

How many times am I on, and it’s 7 PM for a scheduled raid, and we’re short one or two people, and we have 4 or 5 guildies that are moderately to maybe acceptibly geared available, and the following is heard on Teamspeak; “Well, Kellas isn’t on yet, but we really need her there. We’ll give her another 15 minutes, and if she can’t make it, we’ll pick someone else.” “Did Kellas sign up?” “No, but she’s usually on by now.”

The things I’ve personally been trying to do so far, are to take responsibility for putting up regularly recurring guild raids on the website calender, and then use a macro to advertise them constanatly whenever I am on, to make sure people are aware of them, are encouraged to sign up in advance, and get the word out that we are doing progression events. I do this in the hopes that the big raids will be scheduled and well attended, and leave the rest of the time for people to schedule Karazhan runs or do 5 mans or have fun.

It just hasn’t been working well so far because we have folks not show up for a run.

I don’t know what I am going to do, so far. I know that if I am online, and the guild is piecing together a 25 man run, that if they are short or need a tank, it’s highly unlikely I am going to get all pissy and say “Well if it’s not on the calender, I’m not going, nyah nyah.” These people aren’t the manager from Office Space, no matter how much it feels that way sometimes. They probably just figure if I am tired I won’t go.

I guess the first thing I am going to have to do, is be more assertive when it comes to saying “I’m sorry guys, but I am too damn tired for an all night run tonight. I want to do dailies, sit back and chill with my shadow priest while shooting the shit and listening to Irish music. I’ll see ya on Saturday though.”

 But please, by all means, keep the advice coming, every one of you helps me to get my head straight about it.

As an aside… if anyone reading this has a software program that lets them take an mp3 and strip the vocals off to make a backing track, please let me know ASAP. I might have a… new song in the works, but I can’t find a backing track anywhere. kthxbye!

My apologies, for all the rants and crabbiness

Just wanted to say, I apologise for how crabby I’ve been around here lately.

I haven’t been sleeping much, work has gone completely nuts, and I’m feeling the stress of committing to raiding too much.

I can tell I’m getting unbearable, and the grumpiness is slopping all over my writing, and I apologise for it.

I’m hoping the combination of a good nights’ sleep tonight, a day off from work tomorrow, some playing in the snow with my son, watching Top Chef on tape and maybe getting some outdoor grilling in tomorrow will chill me back to normal.

Of course, I committed to main tanking Kara tonight. Elystia the mage has a 70 warrior she wants to bring into Kara as a tank, and I am looking forward to helping her. And I enjoy playing with Cassie and the guild. 

But I’m not looking forward to raiding tonight. The guild decided, hey, let’s schedule Gruuls for Friday night since a bunch of people that signed up for last Wednesday nights’ raid didn’t show after a week and a half of the run being up on the schedule and having been trumpeted by the officers. And hey, lets raid SSC on Saturday, and if the last 5 weeks in a row are any indication, hey, we almost got it done, so let’s schedule a raid at the last second for Sunday, too to try and finish it off. Why not.

Yeah, see? I start out trying to be nice, I just want to be lighthearted, and tell you I know I’ve been crabby as heck, and I can’t get through it without getting bitter.

Damn I need some sleep.

I am getting sick of it, though. If we have two big raids on the calender, then that’s what I want to commit to. If we schedule three, then I’ll be there for three. On time, repaired, and with consumables, so long as there has been enough time since the LAST raid for me to have done so.

But being somewhat responsible, and a family man, with the ability to organize our time as a family and make plans in advance, we as a family like to schedule the rest of the damn weekend. It’s getting so that home repair projects are coming up, rooms to paint, stairs to build on the patio, outside of the house to paint, new windows to install, family members to visit, you know. Life. We actually schedule these things. In advance. 

So these endless “We didn’t get it done tonight, not enough people online or that showed up after signing up, so lets assume EVERYONE here will be there tomorrow in the hopes of getting enough online to get a raid together, mmmkay” bullshit is not cutting it.

I feel responsible, as a member of the guild with solid tanking gear, to be available for guild progression events. But if you throw a raid up today, no matter how unrealistic your idea of just spontaneously starting a 25 man with 1 hours notice may be, I HAVE to be there at that time… just in case. And if ALMOST enough people show up… and you decide, well, we’ll schedule it for tomorrow… that’s a second night in a row that I have to be online to make sure, if I’m needed, I’m there.

And if this goes on most days, then it starts to feel like I have raided every one of those days, because I had to be online and ready to go, and NOT doing what we scheduled, or change our plans, or work around this crap. 

It’s getting old. It’s getting real old.

I hope that all of you will forgive my crankiness for now, and when I get some sleep, hopefully tomorrow will be a nice fresh return to the normal BBB. I need to spend some time doing evil practical jokes, that’s what I need to do. I need a fun imaginative project.

Hmmm. I think I have something in mind. Cool.

Taking my own advice on gear

Yesterday I suggested you re-examine gear upgrades based on the availability of Primal Nethers and Nether Vortexes.

I had been planning on buying a Belt of Blasting for my Shadow Priest off the AH. I had budgeted 2400g for that purchase before 2.4 went live.

The first thing I did yesterday was go to the Badge Vendor (who has moved from the floor of Shatt to a second floor balcony in Shatt overlooking A’dal, btw. He’s still around, don’t panic.)

And there I bought two Nether Vortexes for 30 of my cherished Badges.

Yay! Now I gather up 15 Primal Fires and a few negligible Imbued cloth and boom! I’ll have a Belt of Blasting.

And only then did I see someone advertise on the trade channel… “WTS many Nether Vortexes, PST”.

Hmmm…. which are more valuable to me… gold, or Badges of Justice. Well, I spend 2 hours in an instance getting 4 or 5 Badges. I can spend that same two hours getting 200 gold or more, easily.

So… say on a time to money ratio of 200g = 5 Badges, just for the sake of argument, then 1 Nether Vortex = 600 gold.

I went and scoped out the AH… sure enough, Nether Vortexes, 400g each. So I bought two more, wishing I could get my damn 30 Badges back from the vendor.

Oh, why did I buy two more Nether Vortex?

Because while I was thinking of Vortex, I asked a friend in a major raiding guild on our server, Meowmix the kickass feral druid in Vendetta, if she knew someone that could craft Belt of Natural Power.

And the answer was, yes, but they were going to raid Hyjal. Could I wait until about 11:00 PM for the crafting?

Lol. Naw, 3 hours is too damn long to wait. Really. I’ll go freaking sulk about it.

Pfft.

So I checked the bank… as a jewelcrafter, engineer and tailor, with Cassie as an alchemist, doing tons of herbalism and farming primals from clouds using engineering… I end up with tons of Primal Life and Primal Air, that none of our recipes actually USE.

So I already had the 10 Primal Air, 10 Primal Life sitting in the bank. Grab the Vortexes and some leather, and I was all set.

Yep, that’s right… I be sporting the Belt of Natural Power now!

Thanks Meowmix, and thank you to Frostdragon of Vendetta for doing the crafting… it may have been just a little of your time, but it was a massive upgrade for me. glee!

What I did, my first thought was to dump 2 Stamina gems into it, but then I decided that it would make a nice upgrade for both kitty and tank sets, if I compromised a little bit. I put two Shifting Nightseyes into it, getting the gem color bonus of +4 Stamina. The way I look at it, I could have put two +12 Stamina gems in and had +24 Stam from sockets. I could put two +8 Agility gems and get +16 Agi and + 4 Stam… but I already have 40% dodge. It’s health that I’m feeling damn low in. But with two Shifting Nightseyes, I get +8 Agi and +16 Stam, counting the socket bonus.

So it’s a compromise, but +4 Stam seemed too nice to just dump.

I am very, very worried about what to do next though. I’m having a hard time seeing what to do next for Badge rewards, and still keep my uncrittable. The new 100 Badge leggings seem like the absolute best Badge upgrade for me next, but the loss of the DR makes me shudder.

At times, I really hate druid itemization for tanking… WTB a lot more freaking DR.

Ok, now as a little aside… one new thing from the Shattered Sun Offensive Quartermaster is a new Glyph to head gear… the Glyph of the Gladiator available at revered rep. I’m already friendly, so I don’t see that taking all that long if you do your dailies.

Currently, the standard feral tank Glyph is the Glyph of the Defender from Keepers of Time rep.

Now, in some cases we could gladly give up the 17 Dodge Rating (just a little less than 1% Dodge at level 70, 18.9 Dodge Rating equals 1% Dodge) in exchange for 18 Stamina. I personally find it a lot easier to stack Agi than Stamina on my gear, so that 18 Stamina already makes the Gladiator pretty attractive.

But we got the choice of either 20 Resilience from Gladiator or 16 Defense Rating from Defender.

Baseline, assuming level 70 tank vs 73 raid boss;

  • 39.4 Resilience = 1% reduced chance to be crit.
  • 59 Defense Rating = 1% reduced chance to be crit.

20 Resilience is worth ~.5% reduced chance to be crit.

16 Defense Rating is worth ~.37% reduced chance to be crit.

So as you can see, disregarding all of the many other benefits of Defense skill, if you’re main worry is scrimping the points to eke out your uncrittable, then it looks like Glyph of the Gladiator gets you closer to your goal, and gives you a boost in raw health over increased dodge.

And having said all that… go ahead and tell me that Rawr does the math for you already without your having to buy the Glyph of the Gladiator and equip it and running your uncrittable macro. Go ahead. Since I can’t run Rawr at work, I can’t check it. Bet it does already, though.

Sigh. Am I the only one that wishes that something designed specifically for feral druids to use as tanks should actually have defense rating or resilience on it, in an assumption that we already know we are going to need it? Seriously. Does Blizzard really think that most players WANT to have to crunch these numbers to remain uncrittable, and not use items from highly difficult encounters supposedly designed for us to use as tanks because it has no DR? What a pain in the ass.

If they give you items costing 100 badges, designed for bear tanking, geez! Don’t be so blatantly obvious about screwing us on the DR, huh?

Let’s be honest… if your argument is that only end game raiders are going to worry about being uncrittable so it doesn’t matter if they make it hard to figure out… then by the same token Blizzard knows that end game raiders ARE GOING TO FIGURE IT OUT.

Sure, don’t get me wriong. I’m not saying Blizzard is unrealistic. They gave us Survival of the Fittest, and I appreciate that. But at the very highest end game, it really looks like they decided they did enough to get us most of the way there, now let’s starve them to death on a stat they know they MUST have to survive.

It’s a snake eating it’s own tail. Blizzard cannot itemize for end game complexity, and then pretend to be surprised when end game raiders figure the shit out, and try to reduce how much DR we have available to us to punish us for figuring it out. The final result is, end game raiders will simply do what they have to do to remain viable as tanks.

The only people who truly get screwed are the casual players that got themselves a feral druid, heard about druids being good at tanking these days, get themselves to 70, and collect their gear thinking “Well, high armor must be good because the tooltip says I get a multiplier in bear form. High agility must ge pretty good for dodging lots. And high Stamina must be good for lots of health.” 

And then they take that gear, and go play with their other casual friends who are under the mistaken assumption that they are playing a game for amusement rather than serious business, and as the crits come rolling in pounding the hell out of the healers’ ability to keep the tank alive, everyone just gets pissed. And the forums get flooded with tales of the horrible run they just had with the bear tank that sucked, warriors must be the only true tanks, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying make the gear so that it’s all care bear simple for folks that don’t make an effort to find out stuff… I’m saying itemize the stats that everyone that raids KNOWS are critical to achieve, that are going to be gotten anyway, and stop making it so impossible for a casual player to get the right mix without tons of math and research. We all know being uncrittable is vastly important for a bear tank. But if I were simply going by the stats on gear, I sure as hell would see little sign that Blizzard thinks so.

For myself, I can see I’m going to be going through the fun of compiling a new list of every resilience and defense rating enchant, potion, elixir, glyph, gem and armor kit and working out percetage equivalencies so I can stay on top of it. Oh, whee. Just so much fun, I can hardly stand myself.

If someone else already made such a nice, complete list, let me know.

Yep, today is an oriental buffet for lunch day. Gonna drown my annoyance in some General Tso’s chicken.

Magisters’ Terrace impressions

Yesterday, I visited the new Isle (along with about 8 million others, it seems), and did a couple of the new daily quests.

Then, nothing would do but to go ahead and pull together a group to go try the new 5 man instance, Magisters’ Terrace.

We went in there with;

  1. Windshadow the feral tank
  2. Elystia the mage for ranged DPS and Sheep
  3. Jalard the moonkin druid for ranged DPS and Cyclone
  4. Cassieann the combat sword rogue for melee DPS and Sap
  5. Nali the resto druid

All of us are high end Kara geared, except perhaps for Cassie, and frankly I think her paired Blinkstrike and Latros’ swords with mongoose enchants, and the rest of her gear places her pretty strongly in center Kara gear herself.

So forgive me if I think that we were pretty well geared for the instance, but it was my original impression that the 5 man instance on normal mode was intended to be on par with Shadow Labyrynth or Shattered Halls.

Well, it’s true that none of us had studied before going in. That was a mistake. We went on in intending to explore, arrogant in our ability to master the instance with no wipes first try.

HAH! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahh! *&%* ($%(* $&*(-$^)*&%*&-ing instance run.

So, there are 4 bosses. The trash leading up to and in between the bosses are pretty simple and standard, except for one thing; they start in 4 man pulls, go up to 5 man pulls with imps, and end with a single 6 man (plus imp) pull immediately before the final boss, Kael’thas.

And the majority of these mobs are casters.

Now, let me tell you, I have never felt as incompetent as a tank as I did on that 6 man pull.

The first three bosses; easy.

Even though we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, I went to WoWWiki and quickly read the strats aloud for bosses 1 – 3, and we did it on the first shot (except for boss 1, which we accidentally kicked off early, and activated the barred door, locking 3 members of the party outside as me and Cassie got burnt down. Slowly. Very irritating. Word to the wise; make sure everyone is IN the damn room before aggroing him. Damn it. And watch LOS issues between melee DPS and healers if fighting on the stairs near the handrails).

Anyway, no, all of our problems really came from the damn trash. I definitely recommend making sure you study each mob to know who does what.

We finally nailed things down by having Cassie sap one, Ely sheep one, Jalard cyclone one, and then I took the last two LOS around a corner to make them come to melee range as ranged DPS burnt down the imps. Then we had seconds to bust the two I held before the cyclone came running for Jalard, then we had seconds before sap came running in for the healer, and then we could take down sheep at our leisure.

It seemed a mite tight, kept me nervous as hell as CC broke loose with previous mobs still alive and making me have to run like hell to pick up without breaking sheep or sap in the middle, basically very exciting, but working our asses off we got it done, and I think we all enjoyed the tension and the challenge.

And then we got past the third boss, the Priestess, and faced the single 6 mob pull prior to downing Kael’thas.

We. Were. Not. F%^*ing. Prepared.

Now, right before the third boss, our resto druid healer went offline and never came back, either to Teamspeak or to the game. Just gone. So we needed a replacement to down the Priestess, and Gerolan the master healing godlike Paladin I’ve mentioned in previous articles before agreed to come in. So we HAD heals.

So we were good to go. We went after the 6 mob pull. We died. We remarked, discussed CC. Tried again. Died.

I think we attempted the 6 mob (plus f&*#ing imp) pull 6 times. I honestly lost count. And we failed.

Gerolan had just been in a 5 man party that took this down with zero blips, so all I can say is, I obviously am NOT prepared, and I feel incompetent to do this run. I really do.

The pull consisted of a lot of casters, a lot of magic damage output, and if you fail the entire group respawns so you can’t whittle em down. It is clearly a gut check before they hand you Kael’thas.

And no matter how we tackled it last night, we COULD NOT down enough of the mobs I was tanking for me to be prepared to pick up the Demon succubi thing that Gerolan was fearing, or the Magister that was sapped, when they came loose.

I just COULD NOT git er done.

Sucked. Big time.

We finally gave up, to see if maybe a night of rest and stepping back a bit could bring a fresh perspective the next time.

Today, I’ve been reading the flow of chat from others that have gone in there… and overall, every single other person I’ve seen so far in forums talking about it has discussed difficulties in PUGs with downing Kael’thas… but not one other person seems to have had an issue with the 6 mob pull. No one has even mentioned it, as though it is beneath everyone else’s notice.

Granted, I don’t get to read my blog feeds and see what other bloggers are saying until I get home tonight. Maybe some other folks had a hangup too.

But holy shit WTF, am I really the only bad f&^%ing tank in the instance?

I mean, shit!

Yes, feral druids are susceptible to magic damage. I didn’t have stamina food, only Warp Burgers, so that didn’t help. I took my Earthen Elixir though.

That is still no excuse for not getting the job done. Not when I had some of the best players in the game in there with me. 

And not when it happened the same way each time… oops, too many mobs loose, oops mobs on the healer, oops healer dead, oops I’m dead, oops party wipe.

Anyone else? Anybody got a “I kicked it’s ass, it’s easy noob” story to share?

Planning your gear upgrades

Patch 2.4 is here. Yeah, yeah, I know. No shit, Sherlock, what gave me the first clue? Maybe the 261MB download?

Anyway, one thing everyone agrees on is that we have accessibility to new gear. New badge rewards, new crafted recipes, new instances, the whole dealio.

Everyone I know is at different levels of gear or progression. Some of you are raiding BT and now the Sunwell, and come along here to lolzers at me or help guide us with your insight, others are at about the same level, and others are still enjoying leveling your druids up through the game.

So the challenge I have is to decide how to help folks see where their current gear may rank compared to the new stuff, and assist everyone in finding upgrades.

And I mean everyone. Not just druids, but as many folks as possible.

Well, there is a tool I’m using that seems like a brilliant, godlike tool for fine tuning your needs and finding new gear.

The website is Loot Rank.

What Loot Rank has done, and it’s brilliant, is they have set up a search form that you can personally customize by individual item characteristics, and then search for how items rank up by YOUR importance.

It uses the idea that is the foundation behind item ranking systems such as the Agility Equivalency Point system as shown so well for rogue gear on Shadowpanther.net, or the ranking system Emmerald has used for Feral kitty and bear druid gear comparisons.

And the beauty of it is that it is a blank canvas for you to use. You can configure the rankings to tweak it towards whatever class and spec you prefer, and save that as a template for your own needs, and refer to it frequently as you level.

Now, you can create your own template this way, but for the ‘get it and go’ user, there are already some templates that have been submitted in the forums by users for most classes.

I am going to link the templates here that I am going to personally find the most useful, and I hope they help you as well. But  encourage you to explore the forums, check out the other templates, and examine the math and concepts behind these templates so you can decide on your own whether the importance they give to certain stats matches your own opinion.

Feral Kitty DPS Druid

Feral Bear Tank Druid

Sword Spec Combat Rogue

Shadow Priest

Again… it may not be perfect, but as far as I know, right now it is the best I can find in a ranking system that includes the new gear. I hope you find it useful.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Don’t forget that not only are Primal Nethers able to be purchased for 10 Badges of Justice each, but Nether Vortexes are able to be purchased for 15 Badges. And they are Bind on Equip, not BOP. So now you can look through all that awesome crafted gear you used to think was forever beyond your reach, like the Belt of Blasting or the Belt of Natural Power, and be able to gather ALL of the mats for it, and ask a higher progressed crafter from another guild to make it for you for a flat fee. No more trying to find a guild that has loose Nether Vortexes to make non-guildies items.

A very big B^3 thank you to Ribeye for pointing that out.