3.2.2: the good and the bad

Okay, this will be short and sweet. This latest patch is disappointing for the following reasons:
  1. The Northrend Beasts encounter is still causing far more network traffic than it ought to. This means some raiders who can ordinarily play through the other four encounters will still be mysteriously disconnected throughout the first one. I have a theory about "invisible snobolds"...
  2. "New" armor does not even seem to feature increased polygon counts. They really are exactly like their level 60 counterparts. Given the corners they have cut and the time they have saved, Blizzard better knock my socks off with Icecrown, that's all I can say.
  3. Onyxia's Lair lacks a built-in instance map. This is the only level 80 instance that does not have a map. It seems like such a strange oversight for the "latest" raid to miss out on this treatment.
  4. The Onyxia's Lair achievements are filed with all the Naxxramas ones. Most of the other raid achievements for this latest content patch are in the Call of the Crusade section, so I find this oddly inconsistent. Why not group them chronologically like they have done for everything else so far?

That said, it isn't all bad. There are a few silver linings:
  1. "New" content means we will run out of unfinished raid-night activities just a little slower than before. Just a little slower...
  2. The Death Knight tanks in the guild appear to be useful again. Given all the DKP they have spent preparing for that role, it is terrific for them to actually be chosen for it once again.
  3. The Blood "nerf" is totally justified as other bloggers have stated. Heart Strike was simultaneously the best single-target move and the best multi-target move, which is a really bad idea from the perspective of class balance.

So... were you excited about anything in patch 3.2.2?


So very "last expansion" (a.k.a TBC rulz!)

I miss The Burning Crusade. There are many little things that bring a related tear of nostalgia to my eye, but obviously the primary object of my affection is my old guild: The Pacemakers. I guess being in Outland reminds me of all the good times. Which is partly why I spend (what many consider) too much time there, doing silly things like:

I also happened to finish the grind for this little gem a few weeks earlier:

I have plans for Outland, oh yes. My overall goal for Vocah (my Death Knight) is to make it as though I had rolled him when the original game first launched. To that end, my unfulfilled Outland milestones include:
  • Loremaster of Outland (need Nagrand, Blade's Edge Mountains, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley)
  • Outland Dungeon Hero (need Mana Tombs, Auchenai Crypts, The Botannica, The Mechanaar and The Arcatraz)
  • Outland Raider (need Gruul's Lair, Magtheridon's Lair and Zul'Aman)
  • getting myself a Phoenix /drool

So, what do you miss from the last expansion? Is there anything you've left unfinished?


WTB re-rolls IRL :(

Bit off topic today, but I need to rant and complain a bit, so bear with me.

My car is a cheap little second-hand Hyundai but I depend on it for my personal freedom, something I am sure other vehicle-owners can understand. I noticed recently and with increasing frequency that the engine was starting to overheat. I took it to get looked at (the diagnosis itself costing me $110) and it turns out "the combustion is leaking into the cooling system" to the estimated tune of $2100. Of course my "comprehensive" insurance does not help me here. So while the threat of imminent engine failure looms over me, I just have to deal with it since I won't be taking it back to the mechanic.

Anyway, we went out for dinner and drinks on Saturday and I actually had something of a good time despite being the designated driver. We got back to my car just before midnight and found that some lummox had smashed up my windscreen (a.k.a. windshield). The glass was traumatised across its entire length such that it was no longer transparent and I couldn't safely drive us home. Thanks to some very generous friends (and their incredibly patient parents) we eventually returned home and I called it a night.

I spent most of Sunday trying to figure out what my best options were. Do I strip any identifying features (such as my license plates) and just abandon my wretched coupe? My insurance premium would set me back $500 if I had them deal with the situation. Getting the glass removed safely (allowing me to drive it away) would cost $300, which is oddly close to the cost of getting the windscreen replaced ($400). I opted for the latter, since having a car and not having to catch the bus to work is worth more to me than dumping the car and possibly having the city take legal action against me.

This brings me to what I did today. Due to a little bungling, the glass folk failed to call me to confirm when they said they would. I waited all morning and after several phone calls got them to meet me at the car to carry out the work after lunch. This has yet to happen, of course, but let's all just assume that I'm going to be back on track by tonight. /beg

To sum up, some fool breaks my window, gets away with a bruise (and maybe a scratch) and goes about their business. I, on the other hand, am stuck with the choice of several expensive options, and having lost most of my Sunday and Monday. /sigh


How To: Play a Gnome Druid

Part of good journalism is selling your article with a misleading headline. The observant among you will note that the conspicuous absence of a "world of warcraft" label. Here we go:

This weekend we had the third in a series of Dungeons and Dragons sessions. I went and snapped up Player's Handbook 2 as soon as I could and to my delight it introduced the Gnome race and the Druid class. Predictably, I rolled a Gnome Druid immediately. :)

Now, I've never played any "pen and paper" role-playing games before, although I've immersed myself in the books where they made for an interesting diversion. I'm a big fan of the World of Darkness (2) setting, but I'll leave that topic for later. Suffice it to say that I'm a terrific player in theory.

Back to my Druid, I struggled to figure out how exactly I was going to play him. What exactly was his "spark of life", that concept that elevates a character beyond the hastily scrawled numbers? I decided he was going to be an unusually inept Predatory Druid, often taking the (rarely Dire) form of usually harmless creatures. The plan is to "unlock" increasingly ferocious (or decreasingly cuddly) animal forms as time goes on, with him eventually capable of taking an ever-shifting form of every predator simultaneously. A feat only capable when channeling the primal fury of the first predator.

We had a particularly fun session with lots of laughs all round. I had decided that the humble platypus would make for a suitable step on Uryn's path to greatness. I spent alot of time merely scratching at things with my claws (which in reality are actually quite formidable) which was fine.

At some point I wanted to use my daily attack power "Cull the Herd". This is a ranged psychic attack that can only be performed in beast form. If successful, the victim suffers damage and stumbles up to 3 squares closer. It occurred to me that Uryn would bear a striking resemblance to Psyduck if he balanced on his hind-legs. Uryn grabbed his head, tilted it to the side, and projected a debilitating headache into his victims mind. By the time I got to the headache part, everyone knew exactly what I was paying homage to, it was great!


Guild Progression

Okay, I'm trialing with yet another guild. If word gets out that I'm some sort of cursed "guild killer" then I'm sure I'll not be darkening any doorways again, but for now the prevailing theory (and one I hope is true) is that the game has changed too much and some people are just getting over raiding.

Even in the new guild we have "staff shortages", but these aren't sufficient to prevent us from raiding. It merely limits our choices and we'll often end up slightly melee-heavy or ranged-heavy. Despite a sub-optimal group (and that isn't my appraisal, no sir) we still seem more than capable of progressing. Yay!

I am impressed with how smooth everything runs in Obsolete. The website loads faster than my previous guilds' (less cruft) and the raid management tool is particularly professional. The loot system is zero-sum DKP which works wonderfully for a successful guild like this one. Because it relies on actually defeating encounters, this did not end up being such a terrific fit for The Pacemakers towards the end.

The guild is also populated entirely by mature players who prove that they can have fun without taking jokes too far. We can discuss strategies and fine-tune them carefully without anyone taking things too personally. At the end of the day, when everyone is assigned to tasks they do best, the raid succeeds and we all go home happy.

Hodir 25-man Heroic Difficulty

As per what I assume are going to be fairly universal strategies, we endeavoured to keep everyone as completely buffed as possible. Once we managed to keep everyone defrosted (and I went and got myself frozen a few times /blush) this became fairly straightforward.

Thorim 25-man Heroic Difficulty

The guild spent some time after getting Hodir's heroic mode on learning the best positioning for Thorim's. The next night we went in gun's ablazing and got it with few issues.

Thorim's initial dejavu was definitely beginning to grate by the time we finally succeeded. Blizzard ought to look at this sort of thing, especially since multiple wipes are pretty much expected.