Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Karazhan or Bust! (Part 1)

This weekend, "What Bombs at Midnight" stepped into our first mythic level dungeons. We did remarkably well on each of them, which really surprised us due to our gear score at start was an average i-level of 830.

The Team:

Day 1: FridayDay 2: Sunday

With the intention of Karazhan attunement, we started with Khadgar's quest the [Edict of the God-King]. Edict has you run Halls of Valor on mythic difficulty. As we've found out, mythic (or as those leet players would like to call, mythic+0), is not that different than a heroic dungeon. As their 6 of us, we had to run the dungeon two times, swapping out DPS. Our first attempt on included 4 wipes on Hymdall due to learning the dragon-flame mechanic, and 6 wipes on Odyn to learn the stormforged obliterator mechanic.

The Day 2 run of Halls of Valor ended early (and 4 of us got no loot from the bosses), we decided to go through and run one of the three dungeons for part 2, [Uncovering Orders]. Being efficient, as we were already in Dalaran, we went into Violet Hold. The trash was rather straight-forward, nothing notable. The only noticable difference being they spawn a lot closer, causing some overlap with groups. One or two groups ran down while we were still cleaning up the previous. Because of this, I found it easier to tank everything on the 'floor' and not run up to the trash. The bosses appeared to be in 'heroic' form, nothing really special.
  1. Festerface - wiped about 3 times on this boss until I got the 'drag him to the nasty pools' mechanic down. On last attempt, I died to splash damage from the corrupted pools, but DarkFiber rogue tanked him. 
  2. Mindflayer Kaahrj- IIRC, we one-shotted him. Tank role: Don't stand in garbage. Interrupt spells. We'd call these out "used mine" and spread these out amongst the party.
  3. Malgath - also a one-shot - maybe two. Pickup trash and avoid stuff on ground. 
  4. Fel-Lord Betrug - Lucky, it appears to be the easier of the two options for last boss. Face him away from party, actively mitigate his big hits. We almost let DarkFiber die to the Execution event. 
Since, it was only a little after midnight, heads filled with optimism, we figured heck, why-not, run ONE MORE! Ah, Vault of Wardens. Top it off, it has a World Quest night (for easy solution see DaveRuiz comment). Noteable bosses..

Tirathon Saltheril - Just watch out for the chain. Got caught fighting boss then chain chopped me in half. 

Inquisitor Tormentorum - Inquisitive Stare mechanic. Requires you to be facing the 'orb' when it starts casting it's stare. If you're facing away, it will stun you. So I ended up run up to boss, and tanking his adds with my back against the cell wall. This way I could turn to face orb and still have adds. 

Cordana Felsong - sigh, died so many times, I must be running this fight naked? This fight is super heavy RNG dependent. She has a phase, every 20% health drop, were she summons ranks of legions that cross the room. These are 'only visible' when the player carrying the 'elunes light' shines on them. The one thing that we started to recognize was the arrow pattern. We could all start lining up and running to this spot. In mythic, you need to do this maze, 4 times in a row. So RNG may have the opening of one, edge up to the start of the second.. Bad timing and you're bounced off, over or just killed all together. Of course, the damage is AOE, so getting hit by them will usually cause a wipe. We did find, that jumping off the edge of the platform will sometimes reset the fight. This saved on repair bills when it was just DPS left alive up there.. 

See the hole! (source)
As Rys wasn't feeling well, well have to run those two dungeons again with her. Having to face Cordana's RNG is dreadful. 

Next up, Black Rook Hold. Hmm 2 prisons and a fortress. Reading through the strat guide, I don't think it will kill us. Most of the additional mythic items aren't (sounding) that more difficult. (Of course, Cordana's strat guide doesn't reflect how difficult the 4 ranks of legion are.. Team is anxious to run them early this week, with hopes to running Karazhan by the weekend. 

Overall, mythic dungeons have been a fun addition and everyone is happy. Game play has added enough difficult, that we just can't plow through the trash to the boss. We need to plan, CC and even pull rather slowly. It's obvious now why the 'same-server' requirement is there. This isn't something you can plow through without  good communication. Missing an interrupt is forgivable in normal and heroic, but at our gear level, it's deadly. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Too much good stuff

Return to Karazhan

About a month ago, my co-worker mentioned he wanted to try the Karazhan dungeon. He and his wife hadn't played since reaching 100 in Warlords. Of course, Karazhan is going to be Mythic only (WHY??) so to play you have a few requirements..
  1. 5-6 players so that we can run different mythics when someone is on vacation/sick, etc..
  2. Same realm/faction as I believe that we can't cross-realm queue for mythics. 
  3. Approximately 830-845 gearscore for everyone.
What does this mean?
  • New toon, alliance
  • New server
  • New guild
Alliance, because we have two additional co-workers that want to start running mythic dungeons. They are both alliance on a PVP server (remember my Hunter?) and already geared rather decently in PVP gear. So in order to bring them along, we all needed to play alliance. Easy enough, Requirement 2, we play on a PVE server. Not as easy, but still not impossible. 

Druid, Paladin, Shaman??

We have 6 players (two married couples (1&2, 3&4) and one other, plus me). 
  1. Vànní - Priest
  2. Darkfiberman - Rogue
  3. Rys - Warlock
  4. Vyrial - Monk
  5. Orlya - Mage
  6. ElPlato - Paladin
We found Rys was guild master of an existing, and level 25, alliance guild already. She'd been playing with their son and had a max level (100) warlock. Viral, O-really-ya and El Plato were created new. 

Pally humor?? Sort of wishing I named her "EllaPlato"

Little over a month (and $60) later, I now have a max level Draenei paladin on Kul Tiras. I boosted from approximately 36, as I was tired of running dungeons and wanted to get a hop on questing. I've managed to get 2 of the titan pilars (Azsuna and Val'shara), still working on Stormheim and Highmountain. I've done enough questing in Suramar to open the first flight path. I was happy that at 110, I could immediately turn in Kadghar's quest and start running world quests. I complete at least one faction's WQ set each week. I don't think I see all of them though. As I haven't opened up all the zones, my world quests seem to only appear in 'known' areas.

In the last week, we've started running heroic dungeons together. Possibly start looking into normal raid if we can pug the last few spots.. To help, I've linked to all the TL;DR videos posted by WoWAholics 101.

Meanwhile over on the Horde side 

Elkagorasa has been doing nicely on gear acquisition. He's ran a few LFR, and picked up some gear. He's sporting 840-844 gear. He keeps getting this helm model, so I am having fun with the rest of the outfit. This week, it's the Bug-gladiator? 

On my way to Pathfinder, I am revered with 1, honored with the other 4, and working on Nightfallen (but can't see it via armory page here at work. Looks like Valajar are not showing either.). Looking at the rewards on WowHead, Valajar, I am at least Honored as I have purchased the boat (which I thought was a toy, but it's on-use).  Loremaster with all but Suramar and just need to locate the alliance flight stops in Stormheim (Greywatch, Shield's Rest and Weeping Bluffs). All rather easy to complete with just a little PVP world quest..

Monday, November 7, 2016

BlizzCon Virtual Ticket #2

BlizzCon 2016

This is my second year purchasing the Virtual Ticket. I knew there was no big Warcraft announcement. In fact, I was more excited about the Overwatch announcement of Sombra than anything else. Unlike last year, the streaming performance was flawless. Maybe because I was simply streaming this on my work desktop :-O (and not a wifi attached laptop), maybe because Blizz has up'd the streaming quality.

My Biggest Complaints:

  1. Hard to Watch while Live. When it was playing Live (aka "Hall D") it was hard to pause and go back. I wanted to grab a screenshot of the warlock mount, going back 30 seconds, is virtually impossible on the live stream. Instead I spent 5 minutes, skipping back and forth approximately half an hour of  the video coverage looking for a 10 second video clip. Sigh.. With it paused, the video grey's out, making my screenie rather useless. A DVR-style 30-second rewind button would have been awesome! Bookmarks to each of the various segments ( Overwatch Q&A, What's new in Warcraft, etc.) instead of an 8 hour long video would have been awesome!
  2. Lots of interesting non-streaming content. I get that it's important that your site reflects the entire conference schedule, but what I'd absolutely love is a filter button up top that wouldn't have shown me the Art and Design or Blizzard Engineering sessions. As an IT engineer, I really was looking forward to peeks at the back-end of Blizzard's infrastructure and design. Then when the reminder popped on the BlizzCon app and I couldn't watch it?!?! 
  3. No Closing Ceremonies. I was really looking forward to sharing the Weird Al concert with my family. We've seen a number of his videos on Youtube, but I've never had the opportunity to see him perform 'live'. I planned to have everyone huddle around the big computer monitor (or hook laptop to TV in family room) and all jam. Sadly. Nope. Nothing. While I understand the performance issues with broadcasting the concert, I am still deeply saddened that I can't share this with my kids. 
Not in Video Archive?!?!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Still Alive

Whew! October 20th, finally completed my class-hall campaign!. I picked up the remaining 3 hall champions in one quick swoop. Nice.

With that, it took a little running normal dungeons, but I am now geared up enough to start running LFR. Not a lot of new mechanics to note. Panda Steve does a great job at summary. (see here).

I've also started running world quests (fka dailies). This format does have some nice benefits. You have time for grinding down 10 bad guys and grabbing their shoes? Or how about just killing 4 elites? Easy. You pick.This also creates a nice variety where you can mix it up each week.

Still have only the one max-level character. There's so much good stuff that I can't get around to restarting it all on a second or third character. Maybe after I finally get into Karazhan.

Source: Overking

Overwatch's RNG has been mixed bag on my loot box luck. I've purchased 22 loot boxes and (my son) won 2 of them via leveling. From these 24 boxes, we've found 3 4 of the skins (Junkenstein, Soldier 76, Rheinhardt and Hanzo) The one that we've really wanted is that for Reaper; love that pumpkin head.

Speaking of Halloween. I GOT THE MOUNT! Yeah, another broomstick!!.. Oh you thought I meant the horse-thingy??, Hate to tell you that doesn't still drop (especially if you're playing a warlock), I am fairly certain that only dropped for people back in Wrath.

Now, if you see Elkagorasa playing Overwatch before 10PM PST, that's probably my son. He's gotten pretty fond of both Rheinhardt (oh yeah, we got the ghostly skin) and/or Bastion. One time playing he got called out pretty badly for 'trolling'. I've told him he can't play my account, if he's simply camping in the corner. He needs to be front and center, especially as Rheinhardt. He's been very excited about the release of the newest hero, Sombra. It's pretty cool if Blizzard has been putting all of this together and not just some excited fan.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Warlock Legion Week 1

Legion is upon us. Only took me three days to finally login. I started on my main, Elkagorasa, and spent about an hour to go through the artifact weapon quest chain and settle his class hall. It wasn't bad,  or hard like the green the chain. In fact,  it was a quaint bit of lore.  My biggest complaint is that I had a human disc priest helping me out, casting his healing bubbles on me for some big fights. But then, he deserts me on the boss fight, causing me to wipe twice on that fight.

The warlock class hall is a major let down. I know that Blizzard said it was going to be dh prison world, but really? So,  can I take any of these demons with me as a body guard? No. Can I change my demons names with one there already? No. Can I learn vanity glyphs that allowed my pony to run on water?!  No. BTW my druid CAN pickup a spell to CHANGE HER travel form..

Gearing has been relatively easy. Went from. 704 post pre-expansion to 718 before leaving first quest zone. Mr Robot is coming in handy with his BiB tool.  The interface change has  been a little confusing,  but I think I have it. Question,  how do I determine my gear for destruction while still leveling affliction? @askmrrobot

Favorite parts:
  • Four starting zones instead of one or two.  This has allowed me to run a different zone with each toon. Warlock Azsuna, druid that druid zone.  Probably going to go back on priest and pick something other than Azsuna. 
  • Solo most content. What I can't, often I'll find someone else nearby about to trash the same world boss. One quest chain had me zone intro erodar and help velen. I accidentally pulled a mini-boss and all his minions. They had me down to 8% health as I ran.  Happily the Draenei that I was saving,  stood there and healed plus dps. We killed all and no wipes. 
  • Multi-tap.  If I see someone working on the same mini-boss that I just killed,  I am happy to throw a few instant cast spells and send my minion over there. Running through the murlock area,  I managed to chain most of the reef along with me.  So I stopped at the end where a Tauren and undead were killing and (without asking) enlisted their help.. 😊 I didn't feel TOO bad because they both got xp as well.  
  • Zoneless.  No matter where I go,  I am always the right level. With the mix of old and new content,  sometimes it's hard to tell if this is the quest zones or not. Hey look that's a 110 alliance warrior helping me with this bird.  Oh look there's a level 50 in New Dalaran? 
  • Demon hunters. My son is now at level 101,  Dingo of Auchindoun.  I don't think he realized it,  but it's a PVP realm and can easily be targeted by the Horde.  
  • The critters. It's awesome to be exploring an area and find animals hidden under trees and in nooks around the zone. Friend mentioned killing a bear for skinning, only to have cubs appear, whimpering about their dead mom. Found the fawn that you can pet and he excitedly prances around the inn. The prancing ponies and animals chomping on the verdant meadows. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Zone less Warcraft

The Legion invasions have shown us that Timewalking is about to go mainstream.  Blizzard has mentioned that there will be no questing from zone a to zone b path, instead you'll be able to go in any order you wish.  What I think they've failed to explain is that it doesn't necessarily mean at level 100+.

I forsee content having no borders.  You approach a bad guy, he will automatically match your level.  This means you could theoretically raid, quest and run heroic dungeons if your gear is appropriate. Or would you need to complete the pre-quests?

Of course, some content will still be gated. You can't have people flying around before level forty, can you?? Oh! Disregard my chauffeur please, and this pair of wings,  and the feather from Draenor.

So my question is, why am i bothering to level my bank toon? Next week,  she'll be running Siege LFR!! Leveling via all possible dungeons! And maybe even questing in Panda land even though she's not even level 30 yet.

Friday, August 19, 2016

August Update: My Orc Wants A Tattoo Too!!

Monday I finally got a chance to logon and run Elkagorasa through the new pre-patch content. Horde side, it's rather distressing to watch all the chaos in the event. My priest even considered levitating down to the Alliance to help them out.. (invisible wall). I did find the final horde cutscene awkward in that Vol'jin looked like this guy.

I do like the direction, so far, of what I've seen. At max level, wearing lfr gear, the demon invasions 'hurt' but I am never really worried about dying. On the final 'boss' fight, I've been killed due to aggro, but that's after all the tanks died. The rewards are fairly nice, with a gear piece dropping pretty much each time. Elkagorasa has gone from roughly 700 gearscore to 703, and Eride (priest) has (after only one event) gone from 698 to 700 gear score (2 i700 items, one warforged 710 item).. I am hoping to run my max level alliance hunter and my level 94 monk through the scenarios as well. I want to see the entry area from the alliance perspective. Pre-Tuesday, I've heard of one level per invasion XP increase. Since my monk is still mostly decked out in heirloom gear.. :)

I then decided to spin up a demon hunter. Please welcome Ellidari (the Illidari). The demon hunter quest chain is interesting. I think it feels a little bit like the death knight chain, except without the awkward, go kill 30 villagers to prove your worth to Arthas quests. Instead, it feels a bit more like a low-level boost, in that you only get one spell/action at a time. One or two quests so far have been "Go do ___ and so you can learn this ___ from ...". Overall, I think DH game play is fun, Double-jump is nice for getting over barricades. I'd be curious how the Nagrand jumping puzzles would be with a DH. (Can I even open a garrison?)

You can't have my tattoos!

My biggest complaint?? Tattoos. You spend time picking out what your character is going to look like, Loved the silver colored tattoos as they looked less 'fake'. Except, sort of like a druid, you don't actually get to see those tattoos. Once start upgrading gear, you quickly get clothes with arm and shoulders covered. That doesn't stop me though, from wanting my Orc to get tattoos. How about PVP related, or achievement markers?  Horde symbol on my right bicep, guild symbol on the left.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Legion You MESSED UP MY ...

I recently subscribed to "Taliesin & Evitel Do Games" on youtube. The video that started it all was Taliesin's video "5 Things We'll Miss About Warlords when Legion Comes."

This got me thinking about things that I already miss from prior to 7.0. So far, my biggest complaint is the disappearance of the dual-spec option.

Excuses like "Sorry I can't play a healer, I only have DPS and Tank build". 

No longer, can I queue up with my druid for dps, and hope that I'll get to play DPS through the entire dungeon/lfr. Now, if the tank or healer drops, there's a chance that everyone will look to the hybrids to help finish the dungeon. I am not sure I can handle the pressure. Even my priest is considering sitting in the stables so that she doesn't have to heal?! Ok, Discipline looks fun, maybe it won't be so bad.

Alternate PVP Builds

Speaking of my Disc Priest, I had a lot of fun playing PVP one day a week, then going over to raid healing on alternate days. To do this really effectively, I would have two disc healing specs, but would alternate my talent builds. This way, I could safely have PVP oriented AOE fears on my spell bars or aoe-healing all based on if I was 'tagged for pvp'.

F-Ugly Gear Combos

Leveling up through the quest zones, it's inevitable that one's toon will wear a mis-mash of new-expansion and last expansion gear. This lent to some pretty ugly combinations of gear. Now that my warlock is 90%  completed with Fabulous achievement (I only need 20 items?), my priest no longer needs to wear odd helms while leveling up. One can at the very least xmog over that gimp mask.

I had a much longer list of indirect hits to normal game play, but darn if my RL work hasn't sucked those completely out of my brain. If I remember, I'll come back and update this post.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Importance of Being Human

I've been having a long (140 characters at a time) conversation with Goldy (aka @BFSTINMG) about Blizzard's new "Silence System". This system will 'silence' users who abuse text chat in the game. If they get reported for spam or abuse multiple times, they will get an account wide silence penalty. This penalty will range from 24 hours for the first incidence, doubling for each additional incident.

Goldy's comment on Twitter was why can't they automate this? This is way too complex of a system.

As a fairly avid PVP/LFR player, I can think of several times that people have become abusive. That random BG, where you have one player bashing everyone for their 'terrible DPS' or lack of healing, etc.. That dungeon late at night, where someone playing drunk or high and sitting there chatting about their nakedness. The LFR where we've died multiple times on the same boss and someone keeps DPSing when the boss is in berserk mode and someone is brutally calling them out on it.

Ok, a little background. I've been an email administrator for a number of fairly large companies. (Only large companies want a specialty email admin.) As an email administrator, I've been called in on more than one situation to enforce blocking of certain types of communication via email. This ranges from the basics of spam filtering and virus/malware blocking to capturing protected health information (PHI) that is leaving the system. I've come to learn that you can't enforce policy solely with technology.

One year I worked for a CEO who was extremely concerned about corporate image. He asked that we configure an email filtering policy that would prevent receiving and sending email containing swear words. Two members of the team created a 200+ long list of words that could be considered swear. Each word would combine into a total score. If it contained any violators the email would be blocked from delivery and someone would receive an alert about the incident. The problem with email correspondence is that we had customers. Sometimes they live in location that looks like a swear word. Sometimes, they have an unfortunate name that looks like a swear word. Unfortunately, we found out that the system we used to filter, pulled from anywhere in a word. This caused things like "Essex" to be captured. The filter was too op. We had to implement a a weighting system, where 0-5 words would not be captured and more than that was flagged and stopped.

From my about page, you'll know that I am dad of 3. In any adult's life, there comes a point when you are inclined to swear. Someone rear-ends your car while your waiting for the light. Waiter drops a piping hot cup of coffee on your lap! Over the last years, I've trained most swear words out of my vocabulary. Instead of something repeatable by little kids, I now use words like 'cupcake' and 'fudge-nutter'. (which actually makes it easier to swear more often. "Oh cupcake, I forgot my phone in the house!" Point being humans can easily replace spam/abuse words. A computer can be set to scan for specific keywords, but can you can't program meaning.

I am a casual player. I often get into random groups with people as they are about to break up for the night. This means the  players are already grumpy, and some swearing is happening due to "wipe 18 on so-and-so boss". More often than not, this chatting is over VoIP (Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, etc.). As people sit venting their frustrations, it's easy to join along with the f-bomb festival going on. Unfortunately, with kids either sitting in the other room, or even sleeping on the recliner next to me. I would be typing my complaints into raid-chat. If a system was setup that simply blocked me based on verbiage and not on context, I'd be in trouble. It requires human intervention. I needs someone with the entire story and not just what was said/typed. Sure, for some interactions, it's obvious, but due to the sheer number of subscribers, Blizzard would have not likely caught this user without their input.

WoW is awesome because of it's community. We don't need toxic players polluting the game. It only goes to scare away new subscribers and frustrate the existing ones. We can all /ignore them individually, but having a system like this where if they are reported enough, they may be forced to leave the game, even better. Most importantly it us, the community, doing the reporting. It's easy to contest a anonymous computer algorithm and say 'it don't understand', but it's completely different when 5-10 people are reporting an offense. You have witnesses. You have undeniable, irrefutable proof. When someone is giving you money for something, and you tell them GO AWAY, you better have darn good proof as to why.

Monday, July 18, 2016

So Long and Thanks for All the Apexis Crystals

Tomorrow begins the end of Warlords and brings about those big, new expac changes that we think we want until they happen.
Get ready for the hashing out of things disappearing from your bags (and going into your xmog closet), your mailbox filling up or emptying out, the auction house markets will stagnant and all those snazzy add-ons that we use for managing them will break!

Get ready for a rebalance of your raid team. Discipline priests are going to be hit hard with a new rotation. Demonology warlocks will need to learn how to DPS without a demon form. Rogues will now use pistols so hopefully they have one in their bags. Survival hunters that fight with swords, not pets. How about the option of changing specs with each and every fight?! Hybrids can pretend their playing Overwatch swapping between Mercy, D.Va and Tracer.

Gear is going wonky. PVP is going to have a major upset with gear-normalization (Blizz knows what spec you want). Goodbye spec specific stats (What's the lore behind no spirit gear on my healer??) and more QQ over 'the over-simplification of the game'. Goodbye glyphs. Wait, I wanted to tank in my feral cat build, heroic dungeon in mythic PVE gear takes too long in bear form!

Elkagorasa's things to do tonight:

  1. Send out followers for their last gold-making missions.
  2. Clear your mailbox of all mail. 
  3. Spend your valor and conquest points.
  4. Update those add-ons and backup the WTF (configuration) folder. Consider replacing or removing those add-ons the developer has stopped updating.
  5. One last Friendship Moose run tonight?