Bear to wood transformation

You would think that a druid shape shifter can do great things on all of the different specs, it is just not that easy. I am a sucky druid but I am working at it.

Gatoso, my bear, actually grew up during wrath alongside Trizilla. He had the added bonus of our accounts being linked so he leveled quickly. Back then we had a serious shortage of tanks and well, the natural thing was for me to do some bear tanking because of the similarities with warriors… they both use rage (that is where the similarities start and stop). We also did not play with a lot of resto druids and the ones we had were excellent healers. I have never actually played with a true Boomkin (I call them chubby chickens… maybe I should stop so we can keep a attract more of them.)

Once we moved to our new server it seemed that what the server lacked most is healers, so I played a lot with my priest… and ended up building a quick set for my bear. During Firelands it seemed that my healing style as a resto seemed to work well, fast forward to dragon soul (and a bag full of non straight intellect gems) and you have a resto druid that has gear with all the wrong gems and probably reforged poorly. I am simply not putting out the numbers I need, and even though he is not one of my main toons I don’t like to feel carried by others.

So I am going to start working on him seriously and get better at resto. It has changed a lot over the patches and I have plenty of resources to pull from. Just last week I read a great post from Cannot be tamed which will already help a lot in a couple of fights.

One of the drawbacks of having alts is that they always seem to be able to get gear drops a lot quicker than your main. Dragon Soul is proving to be an exciting raid, and like Lich King one that we will probably be able to get everyone that wants to get through it, through it on normal. Who knows, by next month we might even be doing well into heroics! Death to Douchewing!

4.3 and what I am playing

My first character was Logtar born during the burning crusaded. He is the protection warrior that later started to PvP and DPS as arms, but he seems to always be a tank. During wrath I finished leveling my priest, druid and a warlock. I raided with all of them to some extent but by the beginning of Cataclysm I seem to go back to Logtar and he is the one that raided the most for tier 11. While the priest was geared and capable of doing tier 11, he was relegated to alt runs.

We moved servers while firelands was on their way and our new home realm seemed to be lacking healers more than tanks. The priest and the druid saw a lot more use and they both got to see a lot of the orange instance. Logtar was not raiding with any of the guild we were a part of during that period but found a weekend raiding group that got him to kill Ragnaros. I also ended up also bringing over the DK for his blacksmithing capabilities. So right now I have 4 toons that are doing dragon soul using the LFR and the priest doing the normal modes with our raiding team.

Priest healing is not as fun as it was during the Firelands. While discipline did see a nice buff in 4.3 and it seems easy to play, I still don’t find it as cool as I did towards the end of wrath when I was a bubble spammer. I am still not sold on the new healing model at all. I have 2 healed a couple of 10 mans, but still feel more comfortable in the 3 healing environment of current 10 mans.

The bear is really a beast right now and feeling very competent both in number output and survivability. Being able to hit trash packs harder than some DPS is fun, and even on single target I can pull ahead of other tanks. However, the druid seems to be more needed for healing than for tanking and I am getting more proficient at it, at times finding even a little more fun than priest healing.

The DK is just ridiculous. He is the last geared of all my toons but the ones that seems to hit the hardest. He ends up tanking LFR and dungeons but does not seem to find many current raids to do. I wish we had a full time blood DK (I miss you Phaetel!) again, their 4 piece during this tier is all kind of ridiculous.

Last but not least is the warrior. The arms DPS is just amazing right now, but he is not seeing much more than LFR right now. He finally had a decent shield and he seems to be the one I want to transmog. I think he will be PvPing more this patch than actually raiding. He has not had the luck in LFR than will give him his 4 set, and having a full time protection warrior on the raiding team makes it that he is almost exclusive for alt runs.

That is the summary of 4.3 probably the perfect time to get back into the game if Cataclysm was not your cup of tea. It feels almost like Wrath did towards the end. The dungeons are easy to do, the gear is dropping like candy from the heavens above. So come and join the fun. We are actually going to recruit a bit to see if we can get a rated BG team going and our raid team should be killing Deathwing on normal in the coming month!

Priesting it up

You would think that someone with 3 tanks loves tanking right? nope, I love healing.

Moving to a brand new server meant that did not have to be the “token” tank anymore. The guild I joined did need a tank, and I thought that was going to be my focus again but it ended up being that they needed a healer. I was still undergeared for T11, but one week in a server that is alive and I have full tier sets already (even a token waiting for when I get more VPs.)

I had neglected Hollogos since Cata came out. I leveled his professions, got all the recipes but since we did not really need raid healers and were always short tanks he sat once again behind my DK and Bear. Now there was a need for him and I have been raid healing as Holy.

I have yet to go back to discipline and from what I read it is the spec to be now for priests because of crit. I do have a disc spec and I am not ready to try it on a raid yet, but I am going to start playing with it on 5 mans this week. Who knows maybe I will use it on T11 clears next week.

Playing in a server with actual people is a totally different experience. I wish I would have made this move a long time ago. I also should have been healing this whole time, it is something I truly enjoy.

L2Play Heroics!

Since my last rant about healing I went the Holy way and it is possible to heal heroics a lot better than with Disc, at least at the moment… Sad day for me, but I guess I will have to wait until the next patch to try Disc again. My tank is geared past heroics now; but even with him I dread tanking heroics.

The game has always been about the purples. Everyone wants to get their shinnies, be it to show off in the trade district or just to get the achievements related to them, everyone wants to be “Epic.” Most of us in the guild want to get geared so we can start raiding and that means we have to do heroics.

Heroics are taking a lot of time. Back in the Vanilla or BC days when I started playing, a lot of the time was travel time to get to a heroic, but even with instant que from a tank a heroic can go as long as 3 hours if you have to explain the fights. Its also not as cool to be a tank as you think, sure we get insta que’s but the moment we get in with 4 other people, that means there are plenty more in que waiting for one. I have heard of que’s for DPS of over an hour.

L2Play (Learn to Play) is often tossed around when people find something challenging that someone else can do easily in the game. It is really getting on my nerves at the moment that most people seem to want to fall into groups of “awesome” players and people that need to L2Play. Heroics are doing that though. Some encounters are pretty challenging and don’t only have a learning curve but unforgiving mechanics… (what good is a 150K health pool if some mechanics still one shot people?)

I don’t consider myself awesome at the game, I feel I am competent at tanking but certain mechanics still get me. My perfect nemesis is right now in Stonecore. The third boss, huge rock dude is just nasty. He basically can 1 shot everyone including tanks. He has a frontal attack that I can strafe out of with no problem, however that is when things get complicated. he also has a stomp ability that everyone need to run out of, including the tank… and well, timing the strafe, run out, don’t let it face the DPS and healers can sometimes get out of control. I am sure with more practice I will do fine on that fight, but it seems like a pretty unforgiving mechanic that with one misstep can take out everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the game is amazing. Questing and dailies don’t seem to have an end to them. The fun I used to have in the Isle of Q grinding is back in several places where I don’t mind doing dailies. The JC daily minus the freaking Lila quest (jeweldigger she is) does not feel like a grind and is making me look forward to getting all patterns. I am having tons of fun farming rep and it has even made me want to go back and get all the alliance side preps to Exalted. Running dungeons on heroic is just not that much fun. Healing them is not either, its challenging but not fun at all.

I think that Blizzard did a heck of a job with this expansion, and I am sure many people are happy to be able to tell other L2Play. I personally don’t find it all that satisfying to do heroics when I know a lot of the people I want to play with cannot do them just yet. Regulars are still fun and now that my tank is geared I might be able to enjoy both healing and tanking on alts a lot more. Raiding is starting to pick up momentum and that will be a lot of fun. For now, heroics are still not a fun part of the game and the only true grind besides archeology.

Blizzard Screwed Healing

I am a blizzard fan boy. I plan to go to Blizzcon again, I plan on playing Diablo III. I think Cataclysm made the best game ever made into a game that is just on a league of its own. I LOVE WoW… however, I think they messed up big time with the changes introduced to healing.

I was very excited about being able to pop into the DPS meters as a Discipline priest. In my head I had a new healing class almost Diablo III monk like in the way it could DPS and heal himself or hang back and just do it all. I almost dream of being able to play a Panderan monk this way, yeap I want to play a Kung Fu Panda in wow.

My discipline priest was going to be amazing at healing and skill was going to once again prevail over gear… and it looked that way intially… until my priest hit 83. Basically they made my utility belt so expensive that I have to pawn the gun to buy bullets. I know that as I gear things will get easier, but the reality is that gearing a toon takes time, and even geared I am not going to be as effective as a paladin or as a holy priest are now. You put me in a box instead of making my class more fun to play.

If gear is going to be used as the mana regain factor in the game, gearing is going to be a pointless grind where you don’t really play until you are geared. It will be a grind that will make every healer want to just not play. If instead gear affects how much you can heal, it means that the gear will be the entry to the next level, be it raid or heroics.

Blizzard talked a lot about balancing things out. They said that with Cata, you will bring the player to the encounter and not the class, but right now healing is in a pretty horrible state. They seriously think that it is working as they intended it. I know several of our healers are giving up and going DPS. Except for our Paladins, they are quite ok healing right now as are our Holy priests and some shammans, our druids are still stuck on no heroics.

Many of our tanks don’t want to deal with gearing their toons because of the current state on heroics. People don’t want to go back to things being hard, and I understand it… I liked healing with mana not being an issue, and if you are going to make it an issue make it something I can fix with my class and not just with overgearing the content… what is the point of making the content irrelevant as soon as you outgear it.

If my mana regen abilities allowed me to pop a cooldown in a smart way and get a significant amount of mana back I could continue playing disc and having fun. Right now, if I do everything just the right way, I can get some of my Mana back, but in most cases that is simply not enough to finish some “bad” pulls. I understand punishing bad DPS that stand on the fire, but I get blamed every single time even when it was not my fault at all. I have been experimenting with different builds and reforging in various ways… but when bubbling the whole party up takes such a big chunk of mana it really makes discipline not feel the same. I don’t want to play a Holy priest, I liked Discipline and not just single bubble… I did not want a rotation, I liked flexibility. I was not just a bubble spammer when I ran things, if the encounter called for it I did it, but I would have fun switching how I healed from dungeon to dungeon or raid to raid.

Even people from Paragon are saying that druids and shammans are so broken that they are not even viable for hardmode content. What hope do we as casual raiders have if the people that spend time looking at combat parses see two classes just out completely… (The dude did say that shammans are still cool for their time being because of mana tide… I want mana tide)

I don’t want this to sound like a total QQ post. I plan on figuring a way to play my priest, even if it means going holy. I just really don’t understand the mentality at blizzard that they needed to make healing “fun” and ended up making us the lightning rods for any pug group sucking. Tanking is challenging as well, but I still find it fun even with an undergeared group. The difference is that as a tank I can control the pace, as a healer I get dragged along a lot, sometimes even without full mana. The result is that I end up getting kicked from the group, not because of a wipe, but simply because I had to drink between non CCed pulls.

Take for example the first boss in BRC on heroic. Blizzard made a very interesting encounter, but I really wish they would have let us figure out how to deal with it instead of making the abilities of the boss steer you into a single path that healers cannot affect. Unless a tank is geared enough that he has his cooldowns ready for the AoE the boss does after chains, the tank also has to run away from the boss along with heals and DPS bringin along all adds that are not already dead. Our guild already has alternatives to dealing with this because we are getting geared, but I cannot affect the fight as a healer in a pug. A good healer should be able to affect that mechanic directly and telling a tank, I have you, just keep the adds with you, I will heal you through it and they will get killed by the smash. I am sure I will eventually be geared enough for it… but knowing that is a viable strategy and not being able to execute it because I am not OMG BBQ 359ed out is NOT FUN.

If blizzard wanted to make mana something we needed to watch, they did an excellent job. Where they failed is giving us a set of tools to get that mana back that is not directly connected to how much spirit you have for regen that work effectibly or might not overscale with gear. Sure that should be a variable but abilities need to be fixed to make the game more playable without gear being the only way to fix the issues. Raiders should not be the only people that are allowed to have fun playing their class.

IF Smart Spells = Mana Regain then
Challenging = FUN
Else
Challenging = Impossible*

*Unless you outgear the content.

I have only healed with my disc priest in Cata so I don’t know the pain of druids yet. All I am saying is that what if my Holy fire also gave me a % mana back, or even my smite. Reward me for smart play. What about if archangel did not only make spells less expensive but cound proc some escaled regen as well. What if my hymn actually did something. What if my shadowfiend actually had a cooldown where I could use it after I had to spam flash because someone took too much damage, or even during heavy damage portions of an encounter… most encounters have 3 or 4… but I only seem to get 2 shadow fiends out.

While I understand that CC is necessary for heroics, the days are gone where I can actually save people. They they really got the whole triage (emergency room) healing down path now. I liked being able to heal not because I liked to do timed heroics, but because I knew that a new group of people that pulled a couple of groups or an extra pat were not going to die because of how I played my class, not because I had “unlimited” mana. I love the sense of urgency that you get from healing in raids, but I don’t necessarily want that feeling in every dungeon I run.

So I BEG blizzard, buff our mana regain abilities! make it percentage based so that gear does not affect them. Don’t leave undergeared priest out in the wilderness without even a flashlight. Make our toons playable again or you will kill your beautiful product when only 1 million out of the 11 are the ones truly having fun. The shinny new coat of pain will eventually dull, and when the majority of people start trying to do dungeons (which they will even if they are not raiders) you will start losing people.

The answer to everything should not be to outgear it. I would have never become a raid healer if I did not get the chance to actually have fun playing a priest while I was leveling and starting out. I don’t see many people picking healing up when its so challenging to do so without gear in the starting stages of the new cap.

A Week in Cataclysm

After a week in the post Cataclysm Word of Warcraft I have to start by being a blizzard fanboy. I did not mind that ICC was the only new content for a year as much as other people did. It became the training grounds for many players that had never raided before, including my wife. All that time spent in there made them a lot more prepared to take on this new content that is a lot more challenging but far more rewarding. The finished product feels a lot more polished than Wrath felt when it came out. I cannot stop saying, WoW. I never cared much for a game being beautiful because always find gameplay more important… but I just cannot stop flying and swimming through some of these areas and saying, this is just amazing. One freaking paragraph in, and I am already going to start using all the positive adjectives in the English language.

Before I go into more of the love fest, lets talk about some of the bumps on the roads have been.

While the added complexity of the dungeons is truly fun and challenging, there are some mobs and some pulls that are too complex for non heroic content. I keep on thinking on the people that don’t raid but still like to go into dungeons, they almost have no chance against some of these mechanics. As casuals that raid, we are used to not only moved out of the fire, but read the buffs that the mobs have to paint the roadmap of how we are going to kill them. Hey, that thing has a mana bar and its casting healing spells or silencing our healer… kill it. A lot of people will not get why they keep on ending up dead and become frustrated easily.

Even though 90% of the quest content has been revamped to be really easy to complete, there are still some quests that are very frustrating. We play in a PvP server and the other faction does not play nice, and in some cases mob tagging becomes very, very annoying.

Tagging is the practice by some players of hitting an NPC right before you actually engage it so they get the kill. This can be done to an elite that you need to complete a quest, if the target’s health bar is gray it means you will not get credit for it.

I have personally have not been frustrated by world PvP. Even walking through a group of about 30 opposite faction members we were left alone. It seems that for the most part people are trying to level. I have heard from other guildies that some areas become simply infuriating with the ganking, but my response is simple… the moment the game is becoming frustrating, just log into another toon or switch areas. Most gankers are also cowards, so every time we show up to rescue a guildie they seem to leave, even if they were camping. I would say in most instances it has not been worth our trip, but it has been very satisfying to just drive people away from anyone wearing our tag.

Tanking has been pretty difficult specially in heroics. While there is really no more one shots due to gear, most of my deaths have come the way of oom healer (out of mana). This is a little frustrating when it happens because DPS are still thinking ICC or Wrath (burn the whole group) and ignore CC attempts or marked targets which depleats the healers mana. Most healers are also not used to letting DPS drop to conserve mana. Once these shifts (not sure it really will) I think that DPS will get the idea that they cannot tank, even if they do have enourmous health pools now.

And that is it, that is pretty much all I can complaint about… and I am starting to realize that this is becoming lenghty and rambly! So I might have to leave some of the rest for another post!

ICC 10 Sindragosa – 25 Blood Council DOWN

Yesterday was a very productive progression day. We started with 25 man ICC and after one shotting Cpn Crunch we moved onto work on Blood Council. We had Festergut and Rottface already down path but knew putricide would still be tough even with the 15% buff. We are still gearing a lot of people for 25. However we wanted to start trying 25 Blood Council since we had the group composition to do it. We tried it the first time and it was a rough fight. We had many people that had not even seen the fight on 10 man yet. The second try we did a lot better. We were prepared to just get some attempts in so we could get more people used to the fight. We did not expect to get as good as we did so quickly… all of a sudden it started to see very possible to actually get it done and after a clean attempt we got all of the prices down! BAM.

I had to heal the warlock tank for this fight. Its not an easy thing to do because there are so many AOEs going on in the room and he has to constantly move to pick up orbs, but with the help from other amazing heals we were able to get it done!

Blood Council Kill

Then we took a little break and did Ony25 for some alts and new people and got some awesome loot out there. I ended up tanking it and getting the 25man version of the resistance helmet. On the progression raid I always go in as a healer, but since none of our other progression tanks were on and I had just semicompleted a nice frost resistance set we decided to work on Sindragosa. Little did we know that we were going to get her under 1 mil on the first attempt. We had to adjust a couple of things in our strategy since we decided to single tank the fight. After everyone got to know the fight better (the fight is all about position and knowing when to run like crazy) we beat the crap out of the dragon and got to take couple of just (lets see how the fight is) with Arthras.

Sindragosa Kill

So in a night that we thought we were just going to get some new people to see the fights we actually progressed in content! I am still pretty excited to have both tanked and healed the fights. Its kind of cool to say that I actually single tanked Sindragosa! and we are only the second guild in the alliance side to have hit her over the head.

Reaching the Latest Content

Blizzard has made it simple for the casual player to obtain not just gear but access to content. While I do believe that most high level raids still require above average knowledge of the game and the fight mechanics; in the next couple of months I think everyone that has the goal of at least killing the Lich King should be able to do so. That was not true in previous iterations of the game.

Last week was the first time that I healed the new boss in VoA in 10, but also tanked it on both 10 and 25. I had not been able to do that with Ony when she got her upgrade to 80. I did go in the first week and tried for a couple before she actually went down. It was not until this week that I actually got the Mord Dots Achievement. It felt good to be able to see and conquer new content the week it was released. ICC has been a little slower to progress, but the guild is making progress and we have 3 players going to a 25 every week and they are advancing, and one of our healers in another 25 that is even further. It is only a matter of time until our 10 gets going and we can have the accomplishment down for our guild.

When I started playing in BC one of that things that really bothered me about the game once I started to understand it was that you truly don’t get to see all the game unless you raid. There are tons of content and story lines in the game that you can explore through quests, but he culmination of most of them comes in the form of a dungeon encounter. That cool special mount you want? yeap, you have to go to a dungeon or a raid.

I have heard over and over how even in BC the game was watered down from the days of 40 man raids and I don’t disagree. I don’t find that fair that a game would not give you access to the cool things that were built unless you have above average skill. I think Blizzard is doing a great job of making the game accessible and easy to pick up and level. I even sound like an old timer when I tell my wife that it was not that simple to get a mount and your time walking around in the past was not counted in days but months.

It still does not take away from the game for me in any level. There are plenty of achievements and hard modes that are badges of honor. That and having a guild that has grown at a very slow pace but with players that want to hang out and do stuff together. We have an easier time putting a 10 man on the spot now than a couple of months ago and have completed things that at first seem unsurmountable for a casual guild. Sure, some of it is the access to easier gear and being able to level a lot quicker now, but it still does not take away from having a bunch of people always willing to help one another achieve their individual goals.

I am super excited that I have been able to run dungeons with real life friends, and I know that is only thanks to being part of a great casual guild. I look forward to taking down ICC, and it might not be a world or server first, but at least I will be with a bunch of people that has made every night we play a source of endless jokes and entertainment.

Ding!

Hollogos hit 80 this weekend, and weird enough he actually did it in a Battle Ground. This is my second WoW toon to reach the current 80 cap, and the first one I did for myself rather than what was more needed. I have created and deleted about 6 characters now, I start playing them and the grind gets boring. I even got a DK somewhat leveled, but when we were able to create horde toons on the same server, I created a DK to help the lowbees run through stuff. Now that toon as well as the druid I created there sit idle. I seem to be a one toon a time kind of person and have not quite caught the altoholic addiction that McTeague is the worst sufferer of, but some of our other guildies are not far behind with 3 or more 80s.

The Future Generation

Leveling a priest in BC was rough. I remember putting the toon aside and leveling my hunter because of just the squishiness of the priest. Also the grind just seemed pointless and not very productive. Then WotLK came out and the race to get Logtar to 80 left the priest all but forgotten and third fiddle to the DK I created. He was not really touched until our progression was stagnant and I needed to make more money. I started leveling his inscription and little by little he started actually being useful.

Lets get ready to rumble

My interest on him started to pick up when we started to receive experience while in BGs. I think I got 10 easy levels that way, but it got nerfed. Then I ventured into the healing side of things and found it very interesting and challenging in a good way. Thanks to some of those once a week healing excursions I actually met some of our guildies. I enjoyed it, but it was not a full time job… almost like a hobbie. He sat at 50 for a long time, and I would log in and quest but nothing seemed to really push him forward.

Two maning Botanica for Potion's book

Logtar was getting to be very spoiled by both Ygraane and Blue having stoneblood potions ready when we were going to start running chain heroics. I had started Hollogos down the alchemy path, but used all of the herbs that I gathered leveling inscriptions. As I got closer to 60 and the capability of making better potions started to get more and more appealing. I made a push for mats by grinding but mostly by having guildies help out and I had my potions almost maxed out in a couple of days. Hollogos was looking better and better.

Yeap, PvP Domination

I started to heal Arathi Basin and getting more and more successful at it, eventually topping the healing charts being just a clicker, not even using heal bot yet. The grind from 60 to 70 did not seem like a grind anymore, but a welcomed break from the tanking. What also helped is that we now have several people in the guild with not just tanks, but the capability of taking my spot on runs. Also the new healers that had joined our guild kicked so much butt, that I wanted to see if I could keep up.

Squishy hurts

Slowly but surely Hollogos got to reach the upper 60s and being able to enter UK. Teague helped me with a full set of gear and I was on my way. It was tough at first, but I started clearing it as a healer consistently. I enjoyed healing more and more each day. Then Blizzard changes the game once again and makes it way easier to not just get gear but progress quicker. The dungeon system was not just handing out emblems but also experience.

Both Logtar and Hollogos were PvPing ever time the daily called for WG or AB. AV has been avoided like the plague since people seem to not grasp that turtling is not just an overall bad strategy and a waste of possibl experience on boss kills but extremely boring.

All those places that I knew like the back of my hand as a tank took a whole new meaning as a healer. Mobs that I thought were super simple to kill became my true nemesis by interrupting or silencing me. I was getting more and more encouraged by the other guildies around the 70s and we had a new little gang leveling up. No wipes, lots of laughs and gear dropping like it was going out of style. Occasional pugs will fill up our ranks and provide even more entertainment.

Feeling a little Walrusy

A week of vacation with no far away destination and cold weather created the perfect storm. I could do a push to get Hollogos about a half of level per day while still raiding with Logtar. Random dungeons quickly started to include the hated spider dungeons along with UK and Nexus.

Then a week ago I started to get queued up to Gundrak. I was surprised because I had expected to spend a lot more time doing DTK, but experience and quest related to that dungeon seem to speed up the process of leveling. I also was con

BwenBwen kicked all of our asses by getting to 80 a week before any of us. Hollogos did beat Pala, Sam, Hon, Minieme, Psycho and Buren to 80 though. Pala and Sam were very close though, I think we dinged just hours apart from each other.

Hollogos is 80!

A very special tanks to everyone that helped me level, without your help the grind would have been long and tedious but you guys made it a blast. Buren, Psycho, Moon, Hon and Froto’s crab for all your tanking, Sam, Bwen, Pala, Linz, Acorn and Bomb and everyone else in the guild for all your DPS and Tera and Moon for all your enchants! I swear they were not wasted :)