Friday, June 29, 2007

On Heroics

This is a total revamp of the series of posts I made on heroics. I had started the posts with the intention of giving each heroic a rating, but by considering all the heroics one-by-one led to copious amounts of repitition, which I hated.

The basic premise is still the same. You want Badges of Justice and Primal Nethers, but you have no idea what heroic you should run. After all, there's 15 of them, and they all offer varying numbers of badges (always one nether) and take varying amounts of time to complete.

This time around, I'm going straight to the point. I will tell you which heroics offer the best returns (read: badges, nethers come at a rate of one-per heroic, from the final boss) per time spent, and the necessity to have certain classes, and you can make the decision based on the composition of the group you have at hand.

5: Auchenai Crypts

Have a priest around, and this instance becomes cake. Two, and its cake with delicious chocolate frosting. It is relatively short, and the trash mobs do not hit for obscene amounts of anything of the sort. The first boss is the only real challenge. Expect to spend about an hour for 2 badges, and some rather phat loot (warrior and paladin tanks love the shoulders).

4: Blood Furnace

This instance really deserves a higher rating, because it is a lot of fun, but the second boss event is a bit of a wet blanket, requiring precise coordination and no one with Down's Syndrome. Renewable crowd control (fear, freeze trap, polymorph) is key here. And even if you can't overcome the event, you can bug it out and fight the second boss anyway, but nothing further. For a good group (must have a warlock) you can clear this in just above an hour, getting 3 badges in the process, having a great deal of fun.

3: The Underbog

Another instance relying heavily on crowd control, this time from hunters and warlocks (on elemental-type mobs). With a good tank, and minimal melee dps (sigh, seems to be the trend these days), this becomes a very easy instance to beat. Ranged dps is never hard to find for this because the epic wand from the final boss is made of pure win. Slightly long, can take over an hour and a half to finish, but you'll be no less than 4 badges richer.

2: Slave Pens

A perennial favourite of mine because it is very short, and allows you to skip a lot of pulls. As melee friendly as it gets. The only requirement, per se, is that you have a warrior tanking to spell reflect the final boss's Acid Geyser back at him (you can even have all your dps afk, and the boss will kill himself if the spell reflect is properly executed). Very easy, can be completed in as little as 45 minutes. With 3 badges up for grabs, that amounts to 15 minutes per badge!

1: The Mechanar

This instance was Blizzard's gift to us. Why else would a heroic instance be so easy that you can complete it within an hour, with a potential of 5 badges, and some really phat warrior/priest epics. Not only that, some of the bosses are actually easier on heroic than on normal. Just make sure you bring along a warlock for the plethora of demon pulls, and have 2 AoE fears for the final boss, and you are all set to win. Big time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paladin Healing

I realized that while my posts on heroics have been informative to some degree, a lot of the verditcts can be generalized to don't, unless you want to. Rest assured, I will be addressing this issue shortly, probably by going straight into 'Top Five Heroics' or something to that effect.

Now, however, I want to take some time and explain paladin healing in layman's terms. I have seen a plethora of posts on forums everywhere asking for advice in this regard, but not much of said advice. Same applies to questions regarding the retribution (dps) and protection (tanking) trees. Lots of theorycrafting, no genuine advice. But one thing at a time.

Paladin healing consists of only three healing spells (by contrast, priests have at least six without talents), one of which is rather situational, and consequently seldom used.
- Flash of Light is, by far, the paladin's best heal. For a measly 180 mana at max rank, with a decent amount of plus-healing gear, you can easily pump out 2000 crits every 1.5 seconds.
- Holy Light is a potent heal, but a little expensive with its 840 mana cost at max rank. 2.5 seconds means it gets a larger coefficient from your plus-healing.
- Holy Shock is generally too expensive for the amount it heals, but it is instant which lends it limited usefulness at times when you are on the move (among others).

Now lets look at some of the healing talents that are unique to paladins. Unique in the sense that increased healing or increased crit chance is not.
- Illumination returns 60% of the base cost of the heal when it crits. With a moderatly high crit rate, and a decent amount of gear with mana-per-five-seconds, this is the talent that makes paladins such effective endurance healers.
- Light's Grace lower's the cast time of the next Holy Light after casting one. Anyone can see the win-factor in 7000 Holy Light crits every 2 seconds, when druids need 3.5 seconds for their crits of the same magnitude (roughly speaking).
- Divine Favor guarantees a crit on the next healing spell, and is generally used on Holy Light for the biggest benefit. Note that it can also be used offensively with Holy Shock.
- Divine Illumination is one of the best 41-point talents in the game (second only to earth shield, perhaps, healing-wise) lowering mana cost of all spells by 50% for 15 seconds every 3 minutes (if you spam it, as you should). If a heal cast during this time crits, you actually gain mana, because Illumination takes into account base cost.

With the skills and talents covered, let's get into the healing. From my experience, there are three kinds of healadins.
- Those that heal with their face. These paladins have every button on their keyboard binded to Flash of Light, and spam their heals by smashing their face on their keyboard. Does not sound like much, but it is surprisingly effective. Such is the nature of a paladin's heals. With the right (crit and mana-per-five) gear, you'll probably never run out of mana either.
- Those that heal like a priest. These paladins wait for the tank (or whoever requires the heal) to get adequately low on life, before firing off a large heal, much like priests. This gives the paladin some time to melee the mob which helps in keeping judgements up (judgement of wisdom can help to counter the relatively-expensive mana cost of Holy Light). However, paladin gear does not consisit of much spirit, and this priest-esque healing requires a lot of spirit. You can wear cloth, but going into melee range of a mob in cloth is generally not recommended, neither is this method of healing. You are not a priest.
- Those that heal like a paladin. Spam flash of light, but remember your other spells as well. Use Holy Light rank 4 occassionally to get the Light's Grace buff (at a much lower mana cost than your max rank Holy Light) which is always handy in case someone receives a damage spike that requires a large 2-second heal. If you mob does not have any nasty cleaves, by all means, stay in melee range and keep those judgements up. If you ever have to move, Holy Shock can be your friend. And try to spam Divine Favor and Divine Illumination whenever they're up to stay on top of your mana pool.

If done well, healadins can easily heal through heroics and the like. We can also be mainhealers in raids in the absence of priests, but the utility priests provide (shackle, PW: shield, prayer of mending et al) is hard to ignore. In raids, ultimately, we exist to make a priest's job easier, a lot easier. Never feel inferior to a priest, though. Chances are, he's probably jealous of you: your mana-efficiency, plate armor, and not to mention a Godlike 41-point talent, when all they have is Circle of Healing.

Friday, June 22, 2007

On Flying Mounts

Mounts are a necessity in WoW. The boost in speed afforded by mounts not only enables you to level faster (reduced travel times), it also makes your character that much more fun to play. And this has been true for all levels of mounts, from the first skeletal horse I had at level 40, to the epic flying windrider I recently bought.

The main issue at hand, then, is the cost of riding these beasts. Even the most extravagant spender should be able to save enough money by level 70 (from quest rewards, if not anything else) to buy up to the non-epic flying mount). Thus, today's post will focus on the cost and value of the next 'level' mount - the epic flying windrider.

First off, the flying mount makes certain quests where you have to bomb targets while being chased by birds and/or enemy bombs very easy as you can easily outfly the dangers. However, with a latency of around 16000 ms (strange things were happening yesterday), by the time the bomb is launched 16 seconds later after you issued the command, you can be too far away from the target resulting in 'too far away' messages. But then again, who plays with 16000 latency?!! I too had to stop after 20 minutes of madness.

Second, having the 300 riding skill (mastering the ways of flying) opens up an entire series of daily quests with the Netherwing faction offering the possibility of a lot of gold (over time, enough to compensate for the cost of the mount) and a Netherdrake mount once you reach exalted. We're talking freaking ethereal dragons, man.

Third, it looks badass. And being faster than the flight paths has its own charm, and over time, saves more gold than you'd imagine.

However, all this comes with a price tag of 5000g. To someone who has not played WoW since the advent of BC, this might seem like an exorbitant amount, and indeed it is, but nothing quite like what it meant pre-BC. Just by completing quests after hitting 70, I easily accumulated around 2500g, and the rest took 2 months of not-so-dedicated farming. Hardcore farmers in my guild got their epic mounts within a week, and by the next, started loaning out gold to help others get their mounts.

Ok, so you are a good farmer, or you were just fortuitous with rare Bind of Equip drops that you then sold to other players for heaps of gold. Here's the bottom line on why you should then spend all that gold on the epic flier, instead of better gear and/or enchants. Because once you have the epic flier, you will make gold at an even faster rate, that you can then spend on those luxuries without having a slightest nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you should save up for a mount instead.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Morglue Is Still Retarded

Last night, I ventured out to Terokkar forest, and noticed that Gorefiend horde actually managed to have the pvp buff that allows one to collect spirit shards from the bosses in Auchindoun. Consequently, I put my name down in the Looking For Group channel for Shadow Labyrinth, and went about doing my daily quests.

Then I noticed that a group was looking for just one more (and a healer at that) for Heroic Mana Tombs. Not one to miss an opportunity to collect Badges of Justice and spirit shards, I decided to join despite the warning bells that were sounding in my head seeing the warrior's name: Morglue.

I had grouped with this guy back when my rogue was in the early 30s, and he was hated by mostly everyone of a similar level, in that he'd just randomly invite you to groups without asking. To top that off, he was a bad tank too.

Still, I am all for second chances, especially if it benefits me in some way too, so I just confirmed if he had shadow resist gear (the first boss's melee hits do shadow damage, so shadow resist is absolutely essential) and he mumbled some affirmative reply. Later, we discovered he had none, and was counting on my Shadow Resist Aura for the meagre resist it provides. We even tried to have a warlock with Shadow Resist tank the boss (what with Shadow Ward and all) but that did not work out because the Morglue would pull aggro still, and then run around the whole room, go out of line of sight for heals, and lots of other retarded crap.

Bottom line, Morglue is still retarded.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Eventful Weekend

First, a list of all that happened last weekend. You'll notice a lot of finallys in this section as I had been pursuing these goals for a very long time. I'll go into more detail into each of these points as the week progresses.

- After weeks of hardcore farming, followed by months of not-so-hardcore farming, I finally have an epic flying mount. The final 1000g was courtesy of a friend, and prompted another round of hardcore farming so I can pay him back asap. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love with my Swift Purple Windrider.

- The same friend (warrior) and I finally got to Exalted reputation with the Sha'tar in a heroic Mechanar run. He got his shield, and I got my Gavel of Pure Light. In the same run, the final boss, Panthaleaon the Calculator finally dropped my retribution DPS leggings: Vanquisher's Legplates. It had always been Boots of the Pious before this (the Calculator is supposed to be a great boss to kill in that I can use every epic he drops, but it defeats the point when only one keeps dropping over and over again).

- The same friend, and another warrior friend (it's awesome to have warrior friends when you are a healer), and 2 others finally finished some backlogged 5-man group quests in Shadowmoon Valley. No sweet rewards or anything, but the 1000 rep per quest (with Sha'tar and Aldor respectively) was nice.

- I have now come within one Shadow Labyrinth run from getting the 50 spirit shards for a Seal of the Exorcist. Just need Gorefiend Horde to get the buff sometime now.

Due to all these exciting things happening, I could not get the daily quests done daily, and thus lost some gold I could have potentially earned. But can't win them all, I guess.

That's all for now. Coming up tomorrow: why flying mounts are worth the gold. And durability issues in the late/end game.

Friday, June 15, 2007

In Ogre Heaven

My second post will set the tone for all posts to come in this blog. There will be no more intellectual, one-word titles (usually) and no fancy quotes to begin with. Most importantly, this blog will be about my escapades in WoW, and occasionally, DotA, two of my favorite games among the plethora that I play. From time to time, I will include tales from real life, mine and others, and excerpts from articles that strike me as significant, potentially life-changing, or (in most cases) just funny. So, without further ado...

Last night, my paladin finally (I'd been stuck for three weeks at a point in the chain) completed the group quests required to start gaining reputation with Ogri'la - a new faction of wizened ogres who have given up their brutalistic nature. Very high up in western Blade's Edge Mountains, it requires a flying mount to access, and the other (still warlike) ogres call it Ogre Heaven. I can now start grinding my way towards being Exalted with Ogri'la for some pretty sweet epic rewards, and the new daily quests offered by these enlightened ogres (and certain Sha'tari Skyguard quests as well) will allow me to quickly accumulate (I'm estimating another three weeks) the further 1100 or so gold I still need for my epic flying mount.

As a thanks for reading my blog today, let me offer you this piece of advice. Do not watch Ocean's Thirteen. Even if you are the most hardcore George Clooney fan, it is simply not worth it. Good Night and Good Luck for the sixteenth time is still better. Even Matt Damon's legendary Chinese skills, way better than Alec Baldwin's 'wo shu yee ge mei guo ren' (this is not Pinyin, this is how he pronounced it) still does not go far enough to save the movie. Besides, just wait a day or two, and you'll find it on YouTube anyway.



"Let's start at the very beginning,
A very good place to start."
-Maria, Sound of Music

I am currently working a full time job (internship, really), which has left me pretty busy in terms of hours. The job itself does not entail too much on my part, and at times, it can be a real drag. Last week, I acquired access to a computer, which has alleviated the boredom somewhat, but most of the sites I usually 'entertain' myself with are blocked by company policy, understandably.

In all my Google searches to find something that appeals to me, yet is not blocked, I found myself reading a WoW blog (I was pretty impressed by the level of eloquence from a group of people whom I had only associated with 'LOL I PWN JOO NOOB' so far), and I thought to myself, 'Why not?' And here we are.

I will probably be updating this pretty regularly, whenever I'm getting bored out of my socks here at work. Weekends and holidays will be a whole new story, what with all the catching up I'll have to do. Saving those weekend anectodes for the forthcoming week will also provide more hours of less boredom.

This concludes my first update on my first real blog.