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WoWInsider Community Blog Topic: Would You Play on an Expansion Specific Server?

September 8, 2013 3 comments

Karathress_Down

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, mostly blaming work, where I read/edit/post blogs all day and keeping a raiding guild functioning on a regular basis. I have a lot of topics tumbling around in my head and not a lot of time to devote to writing, but this topic stood out to me while I ate dinner tonight, so I wanted to add my two cents! More content will be coming between all my travel and my workload, which hopefully won’t explode in the near future!

So WoWInsider posed their Community Blog Topic today, asking if players would play on expansion specific servers. They asked that the following questions be considered when making your decision:

  • How would you handle classes? Would you take a snapshot of how they were designed in the last patch before the next expansion prep-patch? Or would you make the classes behave as they did at the beginning of the expansion? Or would you leave the classes as they are now?
  • Would you allow transfers to these servers or would you have to level a character from scratch? Would you leave in the experience bonuses put in toward the end of each expansion, or keep the leveling speed at how each expansion began?
  • For Vanilla servers, would you leave in LFD or make everyone PUG? What about LFR? Would you implement it for the older servers or force those to be PUGged as well?

I’ll admit, I’m a member of the rose-colored glasses wearing community. I joined the WoW community at the end of Vanilla. I never got a chance to raid, but I did have some great friends who introduced me to an RP realm, where we acted like crazies on Alliance-side, to a more, subtle, Horde guild where I got to experience playing a female Troll hunter, my first Horde character (her name was Zelinda). I don’t think I ever made it past level 20, but I was having fun experiencing all that WoW had to offer then.

The Burning Crusade launched and that was probably when I threw myself into WoW, for a lot of reasons. I began leveling another hunter, playing on a PvP realm (what a huge change from an RP realm!), and hearing one of my friends talk about this “raiding” thing. Eventually I hit 70, got a bit of gear, and was recruited into a guild that a coworker raided in. Suddenly, I was checking out Gruul’s Lair, and having fun with this whole “raiding” concept.

Visiting_Vashj

My BC guild’s first visit to Lady Vashj

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Burning Crusade was when my raiding “career” really began. It could be expanded further upon that BC became my WoW career. Running a guild with a 25-man raiding team and juggling all the work that went into that (let’s just say the tech to support guilds both in AND out of WoW didn’t exist to the point that it does today) was very time consuming. But it was fun. Kael’thas,  not so much fun. Mount Hyjal and it’s endless waves of trash? Possibly less fun than Kael.

The Burning Crusade raid team disbanded and I found myself running both 10 and 25-man raids in Wrath. And burning out pretty quickly. I gave a half-hearted effort to Ulduar as a 10-man raid, skipped all of Trial of the Crusader, and PUGged my way into Icecrown. All the while I wore my rose-colored glasses about how great the Burning Crusade was.

Cataclysm followed, along with a raiding break. I started raiding again in Firelands on a 10-man raid team, before making a short-lived jump to 25-man raiding again. Dragon Soul found me back into the 10-man mold, and I continued the tradition through Mists.

Through every expansion, I have extolled the virtues of the first WoW expansion. I really did love that time. But when I step back, it wasn’t the game I really loved, but the people I played with. In some ways, I wish I could crash the people I played with for “drunk Kara” and Serpentshrine Cavern, together with my current raid team, because together, they would have a lot of fun.

If given the option, I would not play on an expansion specific server. Let me explain why:

Vanilla

  • Tiny, minuscule amounts of gold
  • Unclear questing or mobs that never contained items you needed to gather–I’m sure EVERYONE has had experience with Zhevra Hooves in the Barrens or Boar Livers in Westfall…
  • Level 40 ground mounts and level 60 to get your “faster” ground mounts
  • Tiny bag sizes
  • Running to meeting stones to summon
  • 5 minute buffs
  • Fielding 40-man raids

Burning Crusade

  • Rep grinds for everything
  • Netherwing mount grind
  • Attunements
  • Fielding 25 players for raiding
  • Alchemy/Cloth specialties–I remember standing at the Alchemy lab to make flasks before raids…
  • Flying costs–and no flying until you hit 70
  • PvPing to take graveyards close to SSC
  • The launch of daily dungeons/quests
  • Finding people who would want to run H. Shattered Halls for the Champion of the Naaru quest
  • Doing Arena for gear when items wouldn’t drop in raids
  • Epic gems only came from Mount Hyjal and Black Temple
  • Kael’thas
  • Blood lust was group specific–BRING ON THE SHAMAN

Wrath of the Lich King

  • 10 and 25-man raids that didn’t share lockouts–the burnout, let me show you it
  • All the different currencies to keep track of
  • More daily dungeons/quests and weekly raid quests
  • Vehicle fights–still iffy on these
  • GearScore! (I know, this wasn’t a Blizzard thing, but…)
  • Introduction of LFG–is this even still in game?!? As in, the window where you selected the raids/stuff you wanted to run and people checked it to fill slots

Cataclysm

  • Underwater zone
  • Introduction of LFD and LFR
  • Resurrection of the Zul’Agains
  • Heroic Al’akir

Now, not everything was bad though! Here were things I liked about, or have great memories of, the previous expansions:

Vanilla

  • New world, tons of exploring to do
  • Great people to show me the ropes
  • Seeing someone in epic gear and hoping that one day I could “be like them”

Burning Crusade

  • That epic feeling when we downed Lady Vashj and the screaming that erupted in Ventrilo when she died
  • The people I raided with and still think about regularly
  • Having the fully epic gear and being known as a great guild on the realm
  • The realm teamwork of all the guild GMs to help each other out even though we were competing against each other
  • The first ever guild Magister’s Terrace run–mostly for the humor at us getting locked out of it and realizing JUST HOW HARD MAGT WAS
  • The WoW Community

Wrath of the Lich King

  • Fun and varied raids
  • Getting my blue proto during a PUG run
  • My first Lich King kill, which was actually in a PUG
  • Finishing Tier 7 and being the best geared holy paladin on realm
  • Old friends coming back to WoW and joining me

Cataclysm

  • Meeting great people on the raid scene
  • Easy gearing of alts thanks to Dragon Soul LFR
  • Killing Heroic Madness before the expansion ended
Our BC humor made raiding fun

Our BC humor made raiding fun

When I actually compose a list, it wasn’t the game mechanics (though, let’s be honest, playing a beast mastery hunter in the Burning Crusade meant you hit one button, and it was pretty sweet–sorta like being an arcane mage in Wrath) that made me like an expansion, it was the people. My memories are based around events that I did with people that I loved spending time with, not really about the content I cleared or the quests I did.

If given the option, I would remain where I am–in current content, with the people I currently play with. Would I love some of my blasts from my past from my old raid teams to resurface? Yep–maybe that’s a door I can open thanks to FlexRaiding. But I would never go to an expansion specific server if it was an option.

Now, in the fairness of addressing all the questions that WoWInsider asked, let me provide answers if I WERE to have the opportunity to play on an expansion locked realm:

  • How would you handle classes? Would you take a snapshot of how they were designed in the last patch before the next expansion prep-patch? Or would you make the classes behave as they did at the beginning of the expansion? Or would you leave the classes as they are now?
    • Classes would be snapshotted at how they were designed in the last patch before the next expansion pre-patch. This includes the old talent trees, the ability to use ranked spells, and the return of the hunter trap dance! Original requirements would still be in place–books would have to be found to learn spell ranks, and hunters would need to go tame various levels/types of pets for them to train their current pets with new abilities.
  • Would you allow transfers to these servers or would you have to level a character from scratch? Would you leave in the experience bonuses put in toward the end of each expansion, or keep the leveling speed at how each expansion began?
    • I think players should have to level from scratch. Without heirlooms or experience bonuses. I remember how long it took to level–it wasn’t great, but when you reached the end, you could /cheer and realize you wouldn’t have to do it again unless you were 1/ bored, or 2/ your raid team needs a different class than the one you play.
  • For Vanilla servers, would you leave in LFD or make everyone PUG? What about LFR? Would you implement it for the older servers or force those to be PUGged as well?
    • If we’re going old school, we’re going old school. Players aren’t going to have the ability of easy grouping via LFD and LFR. If we’re going to go for the classic experience, we’re going to do it the way it originally was.

Do I think this attitude will drive people away? Maybe. But that’s how we used to play. If people stuck with it, I could see the Vanilla and Burning Crusade servers having a much more developed community than we currently possess in the MoP WoW iteration. The revival of the community could do great things for this game.

Miri’s Thoughts on Flexible Raiding

June 7, 2013 2 comments

Raz

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on an upcoming feature in WoW and my thoughts on it, but based on the discussions I had with guildmates last night and the flurry of activity on Twitter, now seems like as good  of a time as ever to jump  back in to blogging. I can spout of excuses as to why there haven’t been many updates, but pretty much the best thing I can say is that the experiences that have kept me from blogging lately are going to result in blog posts in the future. I’ve been lax on communicating Paladin news and even more lax on my general opinion pieces. That changes now!

The Flexible Raiding Announcement

Last night I was sitting in Mumble bumbling my way through a heroic scenario on my Warlock with guildmates (who knew that clothies don’t have the armor that a Paladin does?!) when suddenly a message flashed up on my screen from guild chat from another member who basically said “One of the 5.4 features is going to be flexible raiding!” Instantly intrigued, and probably almost as instantly killed (man, I HATE that boat scenario. HATE IT), I alt-tabbed to Twitter to see Tweets scrolling by faster than I could read; all discussing this new flexible raiding feature. We rolled through the heroic (haha, there were 2 monks in the group, get it? Roll? Hahaha…never mind) and I immediately pulled up the entire announcement on Blizzard‘s website.

Here’s what it said:

Raids in World of Warcraft have a long history of not just challenging players, but changing and evolving as the years and expansions go by. As with everything in the game, we’re always thinking about what more we can bring to raiding to improve the experience for an even wider range of players. While Normal and Heroic Raids are a great fit for many, we feel there’s another gap worth filling—and to that end, we’re currently working on the development of a new type of Raid for the next major content update: Flexible Raiding.

One Size Does Not Fit All
While it’s impossible to fit every player into a neat, tidy archetype, we recognize that we could be providing a better experience to one broad category of raider: social groups comprised predominantly of friends and family, and smaller guilds that do their best to include as many members in their Raid outings possible.

During the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the 10-player Normal difficulty served these groups of players pretty well, but the unification of 10-player and 25-player into a single difficulty effectively eliminated that niche. While Raid Finder mode is extremely accessible, it doesn’t provide smaller groups with a tight-knit social experience while progressing through the content. In Patch 5.4, we’re planning to introduce a new mode of raiding that allows us to deliver the sort of experience that we think these players are looking for.

/Flex
To fill this void, we’re in the process of developing a new Flexible Raid system, which includes a new difficulty that sits between Raid Finder and Normal difficulty, while still allowing friends, family, or pick-up groups to play together. This difficulty will be available for premade groups of 10–25 players, including any number in between. That means whether you have 11, 14, or 23 friends available for a Raid, they’ll all be able to participate.

The Flexible Raid system is designed so that the challenge level will scale depending on how many players you have in the Raid. So if you switch between 14 players one week and 22 the next, the difficulty will adjust automatically. Keep in mind that unlike Raid Finder, no matchmaking is available, so you’ll need to make sure you invite people to attend—but if some can’t make it, it’s not the end of the world (or the Raid). You’ll also still be able to invite Real ID or Battle.net friends cross-realm. Who you choose to bring and what Item Level gear they’ll need to join your merry band is up to you, too—there’s no Item Level requirement for this Raid difficulty.

Dressed to Kill
A new Raid difficulty also means a new Item Level. Flexible mode will award loot with an Item Level that falls between Raid Finder and Normal quality, and will use the Raid Finder’s “per person” loot system, specialization choices, and bonus rolls, so you won’t need to worry about bringing the “wrong” person and having them win that piece of gear you’ve long been waiting for.

You Have the Keys
We plan to unlock the Flexible Raid difficulty in wings, similar to Raid Finder, but on an accelerated timetable. This new difficulty also has a separate Raid lockout from Raid Finder and Normal difficulty, allowing you to take part in all three if you so desire. You’ll also be able to complete portions of your “Glory of the Orgrimmar Raider” raid meta- achievement in Flexible mode as well as in Normal or Heroic to earn cosmetic rewards such as an epic mount. This will allow Raid groups the opportunity to switch off nights between raids to complete achievements. Finally, taking part in Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty will provide access to additional rewards that won’t be available in Raid Finder.

Getting Down to Brass Tacks
As with any in-development feature, we’re continuing to refine how the Flexible Raid system will work, and we look forward to hearing your constructive feedback from your experiences on the Public Test Realm when the new system goes live.

I read the entire post to the 2 guildmates in Mumble and we vacillated between excitement and dread. And let me explain why…

Flexible Raid Excitement

The concept of having an adjustable slider to scale a raid dependent on the number of members is a great step forward in WoW’s future. I’d love to be able to bring my raid team every night to down bosses as a team and not put anyone on standby. The ability to group up with RealID friends who are off-realm for current content is also a great step forward and will benefit many of my WoW friends. Not to mention being able to say “hey everyone, let’s get together and bash some bosses as a group!” This appeals to me because of how we do LFR in my guild. We do an open invite for all the members and raiders, plus we extend invites to friends off realm and even go as far as opening it up to our realm for a weekly standing invite. LFR for Enigma is a big, crazy, sometimes drunken, fun night. We go in to parts 3 and 4 and explain fights, steamroll bosses, and laugh and tease each other in Mumble. We listen to the fun competition between our guildmates and friends in another guild. We wait for the poorly timed Time Warps because our Mage’s trinkets procc’ed and he goes “I NEED ALL THE MAD DEEPS.” It’s fun! But being able to do that specifically with friends? Even more fun.

Flexible Raid Dread

Flexible raid dread will probably be more likely to apply to players who play at the level of intensity that I do. Right now, there’s no real need for me to be running LFR, aside from a chance at the non-existent Runes I need to finish out the current stage of the Legendary. I need no loot from LFR, but I religiously do parts 3 and 4 because until last week, my guild hadn’t gotten that far in our content clearing, so I needed to make sure I was getting Runes from somewhere. But let’s assume I was trying to Valor cap (because I do this for gear upgrading), or I was still looking for Off Spec gear, so I’m running all 4 parts of LFR. And because it’s LFR and I usually only sign into WoW around 9p and log by midnight, I’m going to get through 2 LFR segments a night. Well there’s 2 nights in LFR. I also raid lead my 10-man team through Throne of Thunder right now, 2 days a week. So there’s 4 nights already in  the same content. Flexible raiding has a chance to give better loot than LFR, so why wouldn’t I jump at the possibility to get items better than what drops in LFR? Even with friends, I don’t think it’s going to be possible to clear all of the flex raid bosses in one night, so let’s slot 2 nights for the flex raid content. That puts me back up to raiding the same content 6 nights a week. The last time I raided 6 nights a week AND managed a guild was in BC, and I had significant burn-out. But this is even worse! In BC I was only raiding 25-man progression content 4 nights a week and then we had 2 nights devoted to Karazhan and Zul’Aman. Now I’m looking at 6 nights? There is not enough alcohol in the world to make that realization go down smoothly.

One of the positive sides to LFR is that it gives your group what you need. If you need tanks, you get them. Same for healers or DPS. But for a flex raid, you have to handle the group comp yourself. This isn’t a huge deal, but some weeks we only bring 1 healer to LFR. One healer isn’t going to cut it in a flex raid. You still need to bring 2 tanks and 2-3 healers, at a minimum. So what happens if I can’t scrounge up healers? I guess I can pug it, but then I might as well do LFR.

Then there’s the gearing concept. Some of my fellow raiders go to the extremes to make sure they have the best possible gear they can get their hands on. That means running LFR for upgrades, that means raiding. LFR is my fallback for pieces I don’t get in normal raids. Flexible raiding would be another fallback that I’d work into my rotation. It’s not that I love the content so much I want to run it every  night (and sometimes I run it on multiple alts) on my main just for a chance that one of the 3 raid settings available to me could get me upgrades. So I should take advantage of them. It would be foolish of me to NOT.

Oh yea, and then there’s the alt Army. Right now I have 3 characters who can run ToT LFR. My main, a DPS alt, and a healing alt. My second tank and second healer are just a few points shy of ToT. I like keeping my alts somewhat current if I enjoy playing them. And I love my warlock, and my shaman, and my priest, and my DK…I want to be able to keep playing them, as well as my other alts I’m still leveling. I had 12 characters at level 80 when Wrath ended, so it’s not like I’m leveling characters from 1-90. They don’t have a TON of leveling to do, but I still want to level them. And that’s time that I have to pull away from gearing my main character. My brain won’t let me NOT try to make my main the best that I can be for my raid team. It just doesn’t work that way for me.

My fellow guildmates are wrestling with some of the same concerns. When we sign on to play, we hammer through  the content so we have time to do other things. We are excellent time managers. But 6 nights a week devoted to 1 raid? Right now we have some challenges getting people to come to raid and LFR. As a raid leader, I now have to figure out how to make all the pieces come together. Do I tell everyone that LFR is off the calendar and if you want to run it, you’re on your own? I can put flex raid dates up on the guild calendar without issue, but what happens if I don’t get enough healers for the run? I guess then I’m off to RealID, once again, not a huge issue. But then we’re trying to jive schedules and time zones and other people’s raid calendars. WILL THEY BLEND?!? It basically becomes a scheduling nightmare…

What I’d Love to See…

When I heard the name “Flexible Raiding,” I honestly thought we were going to see a melding of 10 and 25-man raiding. There wasn’t going to be a 10-man or a 25-man raiding option, it was going to be flexible and it was going to scale with what you brought. If you brought 15 people, you could still raid. If you only had 23, well, still raiding! I didn’t want it to be yet another lockout to make sure I took advantage of.

Blizzard made a comment that it will help small friends and family guilds raid. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it will. Setting the starting point at 10 seems too high to me. Lowering it to 8 makes more sense, because usually one of the limitations to for a small guild is finding those last couple people so they can start raiding. Someone on WoW Insider even mentioned scaling a raid size to 40, in case people wanted to feel the epicness of a large scale raid. I’m all for this!

I don’t need more lockouts to juggle. Give me LFR and give me a scaling raid size that I can take advantage of for my raid team. So I can help out friends if they need it, and even form up for large scale raid fun with friends, if we so chose. But please Blizzard, another raid lockout to juggle, another ilvl to calculate, another raid schedule to manage. Give me the flexibility to play on a varying scale, but allow me to have the time to enjoy the other aspects of the game you’ve made available. Please don’t make me clear content for a third time so I can stay competitive for myself and my team.

Enigma

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Flowers-Edited-2

e·nig·ma
/iˈnigmə/
Noun

  1. A person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
  2. A riddle or paradox.

Synonyms
riddle – puzzle – conundrum – mystery

Those of you who are regular readers have probably noticed that I haven’t been updating regularly. Some of it had to do with my decision to not cover each raid boss for the tier, some of it has had to do with things in WoW, and then there’s been a sprinkle of real life in the mix as well.

You’ll notice that my realm location has changed. You’ll notice that my guild tag has changed if you look at me via the Armory links.

And now let me explain why…

Let me welcome you to the unveiling of Enigma, a Horde raiding guild on Wyrmrest Accord.

What is Enigma? Enigma is the blood, sweat, and tears of a trio of players who are dedicated to the player and the ability to progress through WoW content. We are a guild of adults striving to enjoy all that WoW offers, whether it be raiding, dungeons, achievements, or pet battles.

Our Mission: To foster a tight-knit community and progress through current content two nights a week.

So why am I sharing this? Well, aside from letting readers know where I am now, I also want to open our doors to potential raiding applicants. We raid Tuesday and Wednesday from 6-9p server (9-midnight Eastern). The team is almost full, so there aren’t many spots available!

What we are looking for in a raider:

  • 18 years of age, or older
  • Thrives on challenge
  • Is patient
  • Is willing to listen to constructive critism
  • Show up to raid focused and ready to perform at their best
  • Will push themselves to improve each and every raid
  • Enjoys helping others
  • Has a good sense of humor
  • Is not easily offended
  • Is interested in doing things with guildmates (as opposed to joining just for the benefits)
  • Strives to avoid drama
  • Plays regularly

The details of raiding with Enigma can be found in our Raiding FAQ. Raid team applicants must accept everything outlined in the Raiding FAQ before they will be considered for a trial position. Each applicant will undergo an interview with the guild officers to determine fit.

In addition to accepting the raiding policy, all applicants to the guild must accept and adhere to the Guild Policies. Failure to follow the outlined rules will result in removal from the guild.

If you are interested in applying, please check out our Recruitment page for the application process.

Enigma in 5.2

As Blizzard just announced on Monday, February 11, 2013, patch 5.2 will be dropping by the end of the month.  We realize that only a small collection of members who currently make up the raid team will have enough gear to step into the Thunder King’s stronghold. With that in mind, the raid leaders have decided that the raid team will begin with, and progress through, the previously released content before stepping foot into Tier 15. This means that we will be starting in MSV, working through HoF, cleaning up in Terrace, and then evaluating our readiness for the new raid.

In Conclusion…

Another giant step that I have chosen to take, but one that has never felt more right. If you are looking for a home in WoW full of fun, active, and amusing players, drop us a note. If you’d like to give raiding a go in a solid group who likes to chatter during trash, take a moment to fill out an application. We’re currently looking for some strong DPS, but any class/role is welcome to apply.

Thanks for being here to take this next step with me and my friends, and I will try my damnedest to turn out some more content on…content and on guild leadership in the near future!

–Miri

Prot Paladining in Mists of Pandaria

November 1, 2012 1 comment

I apparently have had my blog closed in my tabs list for a while…completely unplanned! There’s been a lot going on IRL and in WoW, so I’m finally having some down time to actually do some writing! So let’s talk prot as it currently stands in Mists of Pandaria!

I’ve been 90 for a while now, and have wrapped up my 3rd week of raiding Mogu’shan Vaults on Tuesday. My raid team is currently 3/6, while I have gone 4/6 in pugs and have devoted lots of time to Elegon. Prot paladins are at a weird point in WoW, which can make an introduction to the class a touch challenging for new players.

Stats

In Cataclysm, paladins were very easily able to to CTC cap. CTC stands for Combat Table Coverage. In short terms, it was your ability to push hits off the table. The magic number was 102.4% and was a combination of the 5% chance to miss, your block, and your avoidance stats. Prot paladins were able to cap easily due to how Mastery worked with our spec. Blizzard decided that they didn’t like how easily paladins reached the 102.4% sweet spot, so they shared that they would modify the ability for any class to CTC cap, making it impossible to occur in Mists.

CTC capping was why you started seeing end-game raiding paladins gemming pure Stamina instead of hybrid gems. We had gotten to the point that we were shedding mitigation stats for avoidance and stamina. Much fun was had in LFR being called a “stamina stacking idiot” by armchair tanks who had no clue how to play the class.

Now, Mists has thrown a wrench into the entire gearing scheme. In the past, Mastery was king for us. We cared little for hit or expertise. Dodge and Parry weren’t bad, but we really REALLY wanted that Mastery. So now what do we look for?

Well, it depends on your gearing scheme. Theck, over at Sacred Duty, has done a ton of Matlab simulations to determine what is going to benefit paladins the most.

We already know that expertise and hit matter. Blizzard told us that with the change to active mitigation (AM), we will value these stats. Simply put, if our attacks don’t land, then we can’t mitigate hits from bosses.

My stat priority is as follows:

Expertise hard cap (5100) > Hit hard cap (2550) > Haste > Mastery > Dodge/Parry

Yes, haste is my next focus after I expertise and hit cap. Why am I stacking haste as a tank? Haste means more hits during a fight, meaning more DPS thanks to Vengeance. Expertise means more hits actually landing, which  means we are generating holy power at a regular rate, which we are spending on Shield of the Righteous.

You can choose to swap Haste and Mastery in the priority list, depending on how you are choosing to gear. The lowest priority for you is your avoidance stats. They just aren’t worth it. As Theck states at the end of his post:

Shifting that dodge and parry into hit, expertise, and mastery or haste can reduce the likelihood of 80% spikes by a factor of 3 and that 90% spike by a factor of 100. While we can’t say that this makes you 3x of 100x more survivable, it’s pretty clear that abandoning avoidance is a large survivability increase. You’re choosing to preferentially eliminate the most dangerous events at the cost of a little more throughput damage, and I think any healer will tell you that’s a good trade.

If your mind can take tables and a lot of math, Theck’s post, Damage Smoothing: Expertise, Mastery, and Haste is a must read. Also take a moment to check out the first post on the topic, Avoidance, Mitigation, and Damage Smoothing.

Gearing

T14 BiS Gear List (Tier NOT Included)

Since our gearing priorities have changed, it means that our gear options are completely crazy too. I assembled a BiS list for Dragon Soul and shared it in this blog. I took the time to assemble a “possible tank gear list” after our first week of raiding, and it’s linked from the Excel graphic on the right. As my guild and raid team have discovered, spreadsheets are my answer to everything! Gear is sortable by slot (at some point I’ll make it sortable by raid boss). Bolded gear is what I am targeting for my BiS list. Items that have been lined out are pure avoidance pieces and should be avoided at all costs. None of the gear on this spreadsheet has crit. I dismissed every piece of gear with crit on it as DPS loot (because it is).

If you have any questions about the spreadsheet, feel free to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!

Gemming/Enchanting

This is a bit up in the air right now. My recommendation is to hybrid gem, working to assist in your hard capping of expertise and hit. I’m currently using Guardian’s Imperial Amethysts in my red and blue sockets, and Forceful Wild Jades in my yellows. My gemming will adjust as I reach my caps.

Here’s the list of enchants:

Shoulders Greater Ox Horn Inscription +300 Stamina and +100 Dodge
Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection +200 Stamina
Chest Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina +300 Stamina
Wrists Enchant Bracer – Dodge +170 Dodge
Hands Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery +170 Mastery
Legs Ironscale Leg Armor +430 Stamina and +165 Dodge
Feet Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step +140 Mastery and increased run speed
Weapon
  • Enchant Weapon – River’s Song
  • Enchant Weapon – Colossus
  • Enchant Weapon – Windsong
  •  1750 Dodge for 7 seconds
  • 7500 damage absorb shield
  • +1500 Mastery/Haste/Crit for 12 seconds
Shield Enchant Shield – Greater Parry +170 Parry

Enchanters should be making sure they are enchanting their rings with  [Enchant Ring - Greater Stamina], which adds +240 stamina to each ring. Jewelcrafters will want to be making use of their JC only gems.

Spell Priority

Call me lazy, or let me tell you that I have a lot going on during raids that pulls my attention elsewhere, but I use WeakAuras to keep my attacks front and center on my screen so I can be aware of my cooldowns. Theck has been kind enough to keep sharing his WeakAuras strings on his blog. Scroll down to the bottom of his Tankadin WeakAuras Strings: 5.0.5  post for the strings to copy into the addon.

This makes my life infinity easier because I have it right in the center of my screen, so it’s a quick glance to see when I need to refresh Sacred Shield or if wings are coming off CD.

A Look Back at Cataclysm…

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

So here we are…less than 24 hours from the launch of the newest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

I’m still neutral on a new expansion. I discussed my thoughts at length last night with a guildie and shared that right now, for me, the biggest draw of the new content is going to be the day I step into the new raids. I’m looking forward to strategizing with my cotank, figuring out how we’re going to handle the fights, looking forward to the motivation of downing new content.

But instead of looking forward into the crystal ball at the content I haven’t run yet, let’s look back on Cataclysm in general!

Launch and Tier 11

I don’t really recall Cataclysm’s launch. I wasn’t in an active guild,4 so I wasn’t in any rush to level. I was on a high population realm, Area 52, so I think I actually didn’t bother to log in for a couple days until the initial rush died off. Not to mention that it was in the middle of the holiday season, so I was busy baking and preparing to entertain guests.

I leveled my first Paladin, Valkyrii (my Wrath main), to 85, and then followed up by leveling my hunter, Mirina (my BC main). At some point Raziel was thrown into the mix, along with my Death Knight (Azrael), my Priest (Gabriel), my Mage (Raaena), and my Warlock (Kiiera). To this day, I haven’t leveled the rest of my alts (2 shaman, a warrior, a rogue, another DK (who is now set up for Herald of the Titans), and my druid), because the Cata content got dry very quickly.

I decided that I wanted to go back to raiding (I had taken T9 and T10 off from guild raiding, and instead PuGged through ToC and ICC), so I started looking around. Not seeing many options on realm, I decided to start recruiting. We had almost gotten a solid team, but no one wanted to focus on gearing and I ended up deciding to transfer off the realm.

That’s one of the challenges with large population realms–there’s a ton of people, but there’s also more guilds than you can shake a stick at.

So as Tier 11 approached it’s end, and I still hadn’t started raiding, I began searching off realm for a new home.

I ended up transferring Raz to Drenden to raid with Rades‘ guild, Tsu Tain Guu Faitaa, otherwise known as TTGF!

Tier 12

I ended up joining TTGF to tank full-time in Firelands. Which, looking back on Firelands, was pretty damn fun. Dog tanking on Shannox, chasing adds around on Rhyolith, and eating Decimation strikes on Baleroc (ouch).

Firelands was a fun tier, but I still have heartburn over the fact that we missed the nerf bat by a week on the raid. We had been working so hard on Ragnaros, and almost had him down. But due to our inability to sync schedules for weekend raids, we missed our chance for our pre-nerf kill.

It was a sad day.

We dabbled with some Heroic bosses, but primarily stayed with normal clears through the raid. The bigger challenge for me was our raid times. I was raiding 10p-1a while having to make a weekly client meeting the following morning, requiring me to be about 3 hours after I went to bed (assuming raid wrapped at 1a). My body couldn’t keep up with  the time difference, and I had to look for another place with better aligned raid times (the challenge of raiding with a West Coast guild!).

Firelands was great because I finally got to focus on what I loved doing best, tanking. I had healed in Wrath, dabbling with tanking when my GM was willing to respec to Holy for me tank 5-mans. I was never able to tank in a raid environment (the downside of having a BiS healing set for the time), so Firelands was the first chance I got to fully climb into the tanking driver’s seat and get ready for the ride.

And it was totally worth the lack of sleep to do it!

BlizzCon

BlizzCon fell towards the end of Firelands, and I had a blast! I got the opportunity to meet a ton of the folks I get to talk to on Twitter and to spend some time with some of the great WoW personalities! I even got some time to talk to Ghostcrawler himself about tanking at the Charity Dinner (which was super cool as well)!

While at BlizzCon though, I got to meet a ton of members of my future (and current) guild, Enveloping Shadows! It was fun to be able to sit down, drink, and socialize with a large majority of the officers!

Soon after I returned home, I applied as a healer (hilarious, I know), and was accepted. I transferred over a couple weeks later and dove into Firelands with a 25-man team, trying to wrap my brain around healing. I actually healed for our H. Alysrazor kill!

But there were only a couple weeks left in Firelands, and then we headed into Tier 13…

Tier 13

Tier 13 started with some healing fun, but before Christmas I had swapped back to Prot almost full time. I’d heal as necessary (I do actually have a pretty nice healing set on Raz now…and a pretty nice Ret set…and yea…), when we managed to be short a healer.

Tier 13 was the first time that I can say that I tanked an entire raid, start to finish, on all difficulties. I got to down Deathwing on Heroic mode several times!

Tier 13 was interesting…I went from 25-man raiding back down to a 10s team. I watched as we were almost barely able to fill a raid towards the end of the tier. I watched people decide to “retire” from raiding, shrinking our pool to the point that we were pulling in non-raiding guild members that we hoped could hit buttons or soak an Hour to pulling in people like Rades once Dragon Soul went RealID wide.

Rades has bailed my ass out repeatedly. Thanks dude!

The Miscellaneous…

Since we got to the point that we were clearing H. Dragon Soul in 2 hours, we had a lot of time to fill. ES took some time to backtrack into Tier 11 and clean house in H. Bastion of Twilight, capturing our first guild Heroic clear and downing Sinestra, to heading to Throne of the Four Winds and cleaning up H. Al’Akir. We went back to play in Blackwing Descent, but still, to this day, H. Nefarian still isn’t playing nice…maybe at 90.

In Conclusion…

Cata, while not the most “thrilling” expansion to me (I still haven’t quested through all the low level content), brought about a lot of changes in my play style. I’m back to raiding full-time, having an integral spot on a raid team, having a raid team that I usually love signing on to hang out with (usually because some nights I’m just not in a mood for people).

As the clock ticks down, I spent time cleaning out Raz’s bank, taking some time to gear my unplayed hunter (she went from 333 ilvl to 375 last night thanks to guildies carrying me through dungeons), and playing around. I haven’t been online much in WoW lately, but the past couple days I wanted to go back and play the content. I pulled people through dungeons, both guildies and PuGs, for the shear fun of seeing how fast we could clear the content before I never set foot in them again. I’ve run ZG, ZA,  and even multiple Deadmines. I even did a full clear of H. Halls of Origination yesterday afternoon!

To me, that’s the perfect send off. Remember what you did in this expansion, and run it with the people who bring you joy in the game world, and in turn, energize yourself for what’s right around the corner.

In less than 15 hours MoP is live…I wish everyone the best with leveling! I’ll see you in Heroics soon!

Gamer Friendly Foods for MoP Leveling

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

With Mists of Pandaria releasing on Tuesday, many people are trying to figure out how to level as quickly as possible. This means that they might not always be reaching for the healthiest of food options as they search for quick and convenient eats.

One of my big hobbies outside of WoW is cooking. I love entertaining friends and family and cooking memorable meals for their taste buds! I regularly Tweet what I make for dinner (with pictures), so people can live vicariously though them!

That being said, I’m very focused on making meals that are healthy and satisfying.

As I pondered what I would fix for MoP leveling, I decided to share my recipes with everyone for meal ideas!

The recipes below are conducive to making ahead of time, and then are easily able to be pulled out of the fridge or freezer and into the oven. That way, all you have to worry about doing is pulling the food out when it dings!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!

Chicken Enchiladas

I grew up on these and they are so good! Lots of flavor! I usually serve them with minute rice and some fat free refried beans. They are great on their own if you don’t want to deal with sides.

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (you can shred this too. I usually boil the breasts and let them cool. Then cut them into thirds and shred up the meat)
  • 2 cups light sour cream
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion (can be fresh or dried)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Flour tortillas
  1. Combine first 9 ingredients, mix well.
  2. Place a heaping 1/2 cup of chicken mixture inside each tortilla.
  3. Roll and place in baking dish.
  4. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle tortillas with remaining 4 oz cheddar and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Notes:

  • I usually get 4 pans of 4 enchiladas out of this. These freeze very well. If frozen, let them defrost in the fridge before baking. Number of enchiladas will be based on how full you fill the tortillas.

Pot Roast

You can never go wrong with a crock pot! Crock pot cooking was my convenient way to make dinners when I knew it would be a long day in the office. Here’s a chance to take advantage of the slow cooking method while you instance or quest your way to 90!

  • 2 lbs chuck roast, fat trimmed
  • Small red potatoes, whole, or if they are larger than bite size, halved
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  1. Season chuck roast with salt and pepper. Place in bottom of crock pot
  2. Surround roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions.
  3. Add in Cream of Mushroom soup and Lipton Onion Soup mix packet.
  4. Add a touch of water to crock pot.
  5. Turn on low and let cook 8-10 hours.

Notes:

  • If you’ve got the time, gently coat the roast in flour, salt, and pepper and sear in oil in a pan on all sides before adding it to the crock pot. This will create a nice crust on the meat.
  • If you don’t have a crock pot, sear the roast (as outlined in the first bullet) and place into a dutch oven type pan. Add ingredients as listed and cook at 350° for 4-5 hours.
  • The soup gives a creamy gravy for the meat. I like my roasts done this way, but if you aren’t interested in a creamy sauce, feel free to skip and add in beef broth in place of the water (use a touch more due to lack of moisture). Same with the Lipton packet, use if you like!

Cream Cheese Chicken

Courtesy of my cotank, this recipe is sure to be a winner! Lots of flavor and another convenient meal from your crock pot!

  • 4 chicken breasts brushed with butter or lightly coated with cooking spray
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 2 Tbsp Italian Dressing mix (Good Seasons)
  • 1 package light cream cheese
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low 6-7 hours.

Notes:

  • This can be served over rice or egg noodles–since we’re looking for quick and easy cooking, I’d probably fall back on Minute Rice because I don’t have to babysit it once the water boils.

Chicken/Pork Rice Casserole

Another old family recipe, I’ll be making this Monday night in preparation for dinner on Tuesday night!

  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix
  • 1 soup can full milk
  • 1 soup can uncooked long grain rice
  • 4 chicken legs/thighs or 4 bone-in pork chops
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and butter a 9×9″ pan.
  2. Mix up first 4 ingredients in pan.
  3. Place meat on top of mixture and cover dish with aluminum foil.
  4. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Begin checking regularly at 45 minute mark for doneness.

Notes: I’m making mine with pork chops! This would go great with some fresh green beans and a hot roll!

Meatball Subs

This is probably my laziest recipe on here! But you can never go wrong with a meatball sub!

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp McCormick Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb 80% lean ground beef
  • Spaghetti sauce (homemade or bought)
  • Fresh sub rolls
  • Sliced mozzarella cheese

Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Add panko, eggs, water, cheese, garlic, parsley, seasoning, salt, and pepper to large bowl; stir to combine. Add beef, mix by hand until just combined.
  3. Scoop up 3 Tbsp of meat mixture to form balls; smooth by rolling in cupped hands. Arrange meatballs on baking sheet, about 1 1/2″ apart.
  4. Bake 15-17 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160°.

Subs:

  1. Heat meatballs in spaghetti sauce over low heat (or put them into a small crock pot with the sauce to warm on low).
  2. Cut open sub rolls, leaving half of the sub roll attached and line with a piece of cheese (I fold mine in half).
  3. Spoon meatballs with a little bit of sauce into bread.

Notes:

  • The meatball recipe is courtesy of Wegmans! They are a great grocery store with lots of fabulous recipes and foods! Feel free to poke around their site and gather lots of other yummy meal ideas!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili, adapted from Bon Appétit

This recipe came to me from Nyx! It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb dried black beans, rinsed well
  • 1 chipotle chile from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup  quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Green onions, chropped (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown, 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, and coriander and stir. Cook together for 1 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, beans, chipotle pepper, and oregano. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until beans are flavorful and tender, anywhere from 2-4 hours.
  3. After 1 1/2 hours of cooking, add the sweet potatoes, quinoa, and salt. Place the pot’s lid back on slightly ajar and allow to simmer on low hear until the beans are soft and the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooked through. Add more water if the chili becomes too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and green onion.

Notes:

  • Can be made two days ahead. Can be frozen!

In Conclusion

Just because you’re leveling to 90 doesn’t mean you need to eat poorly! I hope you enjoy these recipes and find them good enough to add to your collections! Happy dining!

Raziel, Savior of Azeroth

August 6, 2012 2 comments

When Enveloping Shadows wants bosses dead, we’ll get bosses dead. Past experience has proven that we can put our minds into this zen state and steamroll through content that we may have been dragging our feet on earlier. ES saw Heroic Zon’ozz and Hagara fall on the same night, completely unplanned, but quickly doable once we buckled down and focused.

Which is why, in the grand scheme of things, our July 31st and August 1st raids don’t surprise me at all.

The Final Countdown

The team showed up, energetic and ready to get more attempts on Heroic Spine. We had been getting to third plate with regularity, but hadn’t been able to hold it all together long enough to beat the encounter. We rolled through 6/8 Heroics, with only a mild hiccup on Skittles (something about a Blood DK out-healing a druid by 80%). The team blew through Heroic Gunship, and our raid leader gave us a quick reminder of our Heroic Spine strat before we were parachuted down onto Deathwing’s back.

We lost a healer early on, but we kept pushing through the plates. The tanks were making changes to our strat on the fly, adjusting as we found rhythm to a fight we’ve been working on sporadically for months. And then, after almost 3 months of beating our heads against Heroic Spine, the DPS popped that final plate off and achievements lit up my screen.

There was a pause for screaming in Mumble, and then we were on the platforms for Madness. And we all paused, realizing that probably no one had looked at the strat. Our raid leader called for a 10 minute break for people to go read up, relax, or see family after our Heroic Spine 1-shot, so that they could come back to their PCs and be ready to push ahead on Madness.

I remember glancing at the clock, my mind still unable to process that we 1-shot Spine, realizing we were about to attempt the final fight of this raid tier, and it wasn’t even 9p.

Heroic Spine

Descent into Madness

The raid team reconvened, people still in shock that we had 1-shot Spine, and I quickly began discussing survivability with my cotank. We decided to “wing it” and see what would happen for impales as we tossed around cooldown ideas. Our raid leader gave a quick rundown of the fight and we gave it a go (or 5). The beginning fights were discovering just how squishy I was on impales–quick trinket/glyph swapping, and we were back in business. (Quick note: Blood Death Knights are SUCH a broken class. My cotank takes an impale and drops to 95% health while I’m freaking out as the healers are recovering from me dropping to 40%. Blahblahblah nerf DKs =P) When we called our attempts for the night, we were clearing to platform 4 without issue, so we knew we had it in the bag on our next raid night.

The team showed up on Wednesday, ready to take Deathwing down once and for all. Our Holy priest had spec swapped after the previous raid to give Disc a go. Our warriors respecc’d for slows, I tweaked my glyphing even more, and we knuckled down for more attempts. We saw a .5% wipe and knew that we had the fight down. We would have had a kill on that attempt, but one of our legendary staff wielders DC’d on one of the platforms and we just couldn’t recover before the enrage hit.

No speeches by yours truly (running joke from H. Gunship–Miri would give a fail pep talk and we’d down the boss on the next attempt, so the speech became a requirement for H. Gunship kills), instead you could feel the energy of the team in Mumble–they were ready for the kill! We zoned back in, focused, and away we went!

It was one of those moments, just like on Heroic Spine, where the achievements caught me off guard! On Spine I was wrangling bloods and had no clue what the tendon was at. On Madness I was slowing bloods so that we could push more DPS to end the fight. Neither time did I know health percentages, so when my screen lit up with Heroic Madness, I screamed for the second time in two days!

With the entire team standing, not a single death, we beat the enrage by almost 40 seconds! We were ecstatic! We doled out loot (Gurth and Kiril), and in typical ES fashion handed the drake to one of our druids.

We learned Madness, start to finish, in under 4 hours. We beat the tier, the expansion, and we still had hours left of raid. The team was let go early to go celebrate, and I raised a shot glass several times in toast to the team that achieved the kill.

Heroic Madness

Meta!

Of course, finishing off Deathwing once and for all netted many of the raiders their Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider, so we had to go pose for pictures!

Twilight Harbingers

In Conclusion

It feels good to complete a raid tier when it’s still current content. It feels even better to complete an expansion’s final  boss. Wrapping up Dragon Soul gives me closure to move on to MoP–a chapter that I am more than willing to let become a memory. Dragon Soul meant much to ES; our raid team shrunk from 25 to 10. Our raid leaders changed, our comp was continuously evolving. And still we persevered. The team banded together and supported each other through the entire tier, proving that 10 people with goals can achieve anything–even in a video game.

A big thanks and a massive congrats to my raid team. I look forward to us tackling MoP together in the near future!

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