First Alliance Guild to Level 25

First Alliance Guild to Level 25!

The Saints did it. For months now we have been quietly getting ready for this goal, to be the first guild to hit 25. Another guild that did just a little more grinding that we did and got it first in the Horde side of our server, but we won the race on the Alliance side by days, possibly even a week or two. However, no guild in our server has as many Guild Achievement points as we do! :) You guys are AWESOME!

Ranks

Ever since the new guild leveling feature was announced I knew that we would be excellent at it. Our guild has been able to do amazing things by just working together and at the same time having fun.

I am still tired by some of the grinding we had to do :) but it was all worth it :)

We have about 15 lions now, and next week that number should hopefully double! You have to be Exalted with the guild to claim the price. The perks don’t stop there though. Mass resurrection is a blast of an ability, and plentiful bags is also making it sweet to farm.

I would like to thank all the officers and most of all our members that put in an extra effort this week to achieve this goal. While the end result is sweet, the journey was the most awesome part. We are very proud to have accomplished this as a group since this is not something that just a few did! we all had our part on adding to this awesome accomplishment! Congratulations Saints! and THANK YOU!

Cata So far

I know I had promised to talk a lot more about Cataclysm since it was released, but truthfully I have spent more of my free time actually playing. I think this expansion is a mixed bag for all types of players. Many are going to hate the changes, but blizzard really tried to please almost everyone… which is a very hard thing to do.

As a guild master I think they did an excellent job with the guild leveling system. Never before since the inception of the guild have we bee more motivated than every day when we hit the experience cap. Its a common goal that has been growing in popularity as we become one of the top two guilds in the server to always reach the next level. Top on the alliance side and neck and neck with a horde guild.

As a raid leader, the content is fresh and does not feel rehashed. Every fight has its own unique twist, and the ones that are somewhat complicated because of multiple abilities seem to have a mechanic to make it possible. The enrage timers have not been too constrictive and everything that we have learned we have been able to down. The stuff that we have struggled with have been things we don’t get to practice or things that we just attempt after a full night of raiding. We are getting quicker and quicker with the initial bosses which will help speed things up a great deal in the coming weeks.

I have leveled almost all my toons to the cap now, the experience buffs from the guild make things very easy which is convenient, but also sometimes makes it feel too quick. Being able to level just using the dungeon system makes it that you don’t get to quest unless you really want to.

I have a couple of alts ready to level as soon soon as we reach our guild cap and we can take the time to enjoy the quest lines a little more. Everything seems fresh and new and I seem to never have enough time to do all the things that I want to do in game!

Ready, Set, RAID!

Finally, after a couple of weeks of people not feeling ready to tackle Cata content and just going there and checking stuff out, we have actually started raiding. Our first week so far has brought us two kills. Halfus and Magmaw have now fallen to the SAINTS!

Halfus is a fight that changes from week to week, some combinations are a lot tougher than others and this weeks combo is probably one of the easier ones. Magmaw is all about the adds… those little worms can really make a mess. Once our healers got geared and our tank got less squishy we were able to get them both in about 4 attempts. We are also making our way through trash a lot quicker than before, so a couple of hours of raiding should get us a couple of bosses next week. Not lightning fast progression (OMG Paragon is already done with this tier!), but for casual guild, progression nonetheless.

We took a peek for the first time at Conclave last night and the fight looks like a lot of fun. I think we have the strategy that will work for us.

TH to Blacksen for making me aware of the goodness that it is BossBluePrin.

On PvP news, we got our first guild win as a rated battleground group last week and did some 10s this week, but some people are still getting their gear up. Our 2s team are doing well, with a couple of them hitting 1550 and even the 3s team I am on getting 1550!

Overall we have having a lot of fun leveling the guild and right now we are concentrating on fishing from pools so we can get the awesome feast!

We are patiently waiting for 4.0.6 so that a couple of our healers don’t have to sweat as much when we are raiding and hopefully everyone but me gets nerfed on PvP! Bring on the PATCH!

Carried by Mango

I dislike DK’s. Like Cubby I think they are awesome farming toons, but since they were one of the best tanks in WotLK I decided to finally take one to cap. He has been mining and BS for a while and I get him a level every time I log into him rested.

I am getting pretty decent at tanking on him, and I enjoy that they are pretty easy to play but you have a batman size toolbelt to play them. Most of the randoms I play with him are quick en enjoyable. I also go and PvP with him when I do log on him.

After a dungeon and a horrible WG I decided to mine and do one more random, and Mangofruit from Maelstrom ques up as a healer. I was first a little concerned that he was in Shadowform, but since he was 80 I figured he was just going to have some fun. Oh no… he pretty much wanted to power through every dungeon we did. 49% of the DPS and all the heals later I got 1.5 levels and almost to 80. Anubis (a hunter that also stuck with us) is trying to get me killed right now since I put myself on follow while I wrote this! lol

So, thank you MANGO! It has been a nice fun run away from Cata heroics! Thanks for the fun!

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.

The Dark Side of WoW

Cataclysm is an amazing expansion, I have not had this much fun with the game EVER! All around the questing is just very well built. The dungeons are beautiful, the new mechanics are challenging, plenty is broke with the classes, but time will fix all of that. We even managed to down the new boss in Tol Barad in our first visit. Things are going well… well so it seems. The best thing about WoW is that is an MMO and people make the game enjoyable. Having an awesome group of people to play with makes it a wonderful experience… but the moment you step out, the moment the game changes and it turns into a very, very frustrating experience.

Blizzard decided that healing was too easy and decided to go back to making it challenging again. They are sticking by their decision of making things more challenging and while I respect that, well it has also made for some horrible interactions with people. I hear stories every day from guildies having horrible times in heroics. Even though my healer is past the gear level for heroics I stay away. I run heroics with my tank only with guildies and gave up trying to have people CC in pugs.

Sometimes you get into a group and everyone does what they are supposed to, but the norm right now is that one person will not do what they are supposed to and ruin the experience for the rest. Most people got used to the pace of chain pulling heroics during the last part of Wrath and expect that same speed out of a heroic dungeon. I think people don’t realize that heroic is not a 15 minute burn through bosses run, but a couple of hour commitment to team work and execution.

As a guild we have completed most heroic dungeons. Some people have already done them all and are even working on the achievements. I personally have stepped back and been working on reps and professions. I think that we will run a lot more heroics in the coming weeks and probably stay away from pugs as much as possible.

The anonymity of being behind a keyboard miles away makes people say some nasty stuff. Try to not take it personal and stick to your friends when running things for the time being. Its a nasty world out there at the moment and until people start to slow down in heroics, I think more and more people will find them to be a source of frustration rather than the source of sun they should be.

Guild Perks

There is way too much to talk about in Cataclysm and the more I play this expansion, the more I love it. Guild Leveling is by far the most rewarding because it is an amazing feeling when you are in the middle of playing and across your screen the entire guild gets an achievement. No matter where you are at or what you are doing you see across the screen that we as a group acomplished something that will benefit all of us. From leveling faster to having cheaper repair bills, the guild rewards are making us work as a team and made us all focus on the guild.

During the first week of gameplay I though we were going to make a push to start raiding right away, seeing that many top world guild were already done with the initial normal modes like we were conquering dungeons. Then I took a step back and saw that everyone was having fun, not just leveling but looking at those guild achievments and not being daunted by the task of killing 50K critters but just ready to kill another 500 today.

We have our crafters and miners going nuts to reach all those watermarks. We have our PvPers hunting down horde (actually we are done hunting and already got Horde Slayer). We are slowly but surely getting our raid team geared and together to start farming heroics and helping people get through the initial content, but overall we are having fun as a guild.

Initially some people had concerns about how the rewards would affect their alts. Some of the rewards really don’t kick in until you reach honored with the guild which can take some time. The thing is about commitment though, if you are commited to being a part of a guild you now have to work towards getting those rewards not just by simply showing up, but by actually doing things with and for the guild.

Everyone seems to have their favorite perk, and some are just beinging to notice. Cheaper repairs has been one that almost everyone is noticing, specially after getting into a bad heroic group. The one I am looking forward to Hasty Heart because its always nice to not have your HS on cooldown.

I really want to thank everyone that is working so hard to get the rewards we are all benefitting from and want to say AWESOME JOB guys. This game is all about the people :) and we have the best guildies ever!

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!