Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010

Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
We put in several more attempts on the Lich King last night. I think we were encouraged by the fact that our officers' 10-man team got the Kingslayer title during the week. Our first attempt last night was the best of any so far. We got through 3 or 4 defiles before we started losing people.

It was down hill from there. Roughly three hours of banging our heads against the wall due to one mistake after another. I think I was the cause of our final wipe of the evening. I got the defile, ran left, like our plan, then defile got too big and wipe. I did notice a boomkin move with me, instead of to the right like he was supposed to, so I'm sure he contributed to the problem. But, I suspect I shouldn't have stopped after moving left. In fact, I'm positive. Ah well. This week we'll get more attempts in.

Icecrown Citadel 10 (Priest)

Who knew you could use Stone Keeper's Shards to buy uncut gems? I sure didn't! This is another example of me not paying attention to things. You can't but the gems directly. You first have to go to Wintergrasp and exchange 30 shards for a Wintergrasp Commendation, which gives you 2000 honor. Then, you go to Stormwind and use 10,000 honor to buy a gem. So each gem is worth 150 shards. I have a couple thousand shards! This is a great find, since I'm using so many gems in my Shammy's equipment lately.

New Perspective on Things
Over the weekend I bought a new graphics card and a new monitor. Woo hoo! No lag at all last night. My FPS stayed high the entire time. Yippee! And, with the extra monitor width, I was able to see more and even rearrange my bars to free up more space. I love both of them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010

Not a lot of major stuff has happened in the past week. Though there were a few notable things.

My Shaman has been 80 for only 10 days and yet she already has several 232 to 245 ilvl items. Thanks to friends who have crafted things for me, patient PuGs who have helped me get triumph emblems, and patient guildies who have held alt runs through ToC.

Despite the gear, my DPS in raids is still quite low, compared to that of others. It's lower on raid bosses than it is on Heroic bosses. I think much of the problem is my unfamiliarity with how to melee properly. I know the DPS rotation/priority for enhancement shamans, it's just a matter of getting myself into the right position -- and most importantly, noticing when I'm not actually hitting anything. Honestly, that's one of my biggest problems. With all the flashes of spells going on around me, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that my UI is telling me that I'm too far away or that I'm faced the wrong way. I checked Skada (the replacement to Recount) and my miss rate on attacks is very low. So, it's definitely not that my hit rating is not high enough. It really is that I'm just not attacking because of positioning.

Oh and...sheesh! I never realized how many mobs do a push back effect. Jeezo! I think it's an overused mechanic. It's definitely worth having in the game. But, I can't tell you how much time I wasted running back to bosses after being knocked back. Now I understand why ranged DPS always rock the damage charts. On my mage and my priest, I just have to stand at max range and cast. Melee are constantly having to move.

Anyway...I'm having a blast, despite being disappointed with my DPS.

Paladin Leveling
My pally is lvl 72 now. But, more importantly, she's at 442 Blacksmithing. I've been gathering ore for her while sitting out on raids on my priest lately. This past Tuesday I sat out nearly the entire raid, so that was almost 3 hours of circling Icecrown, mining ore. Anyway...back to the pally. So, I'm pretty much going to stop there with Blacksmithing. My goal had been to get her to be the Eternal Belt Buckle producer of my toons. Maybe if I get to 80 on her and become motivated to equip her with epics, I'll look into maxing Blacksmithing and getting epic patterns.

On a personal note. Yesterday Ronnie tried to patch things up with Matt. Matt responded to her this morning, saying thanks, but no thanks. I can't blame Matt. Ronnie needs to just let it go.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

Shaman Leveling
She's 80!!! And she already has an epic! :) I dinged 80 a couple nights ago on her. I even got past my fears and joined a few groups as DPS. My numbers were painfully low for heroics, but at this point, it's safer to DPS with my gear than it is to try to heal with it.

What will I do long term? I'm not sure. For now, I'm enjoying her and that's what matters. I guess the bigger question is which spec will I buy gear for with my emblems? I already bought the first piece, which was for Enhancement. But, now I'm thinking I might want to ultimately switch her to Resto.

Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
I had a frustrating moment the other night. I offered to sit for a few fights to allow other healers to get a chance at gear that I already have. I assumed that when they reached the Lich King, I would be swapped in. To my surprise, and my disappointment, no swaps were made. I sat there on an alt, listening to my guildies experience the Lich King encounter for the first time.

After listening in to two wipes, my disappointment had grown into anger. I had dedicated lots of my time over the past weeks, working hard to get past the difficult encounters. Never complaining about wipes or repair bills -- unlike many of my fellow guildies. I had been in the group that finally brought down Sindragosa. Didn't I deserve a spot against the Lich King?

I spoke up. I sent a polite message to an officer asking why I had not been swapped in. After a brief apology, my invite came about 10 minutes later. I feel slightly bad for the person who left group so I could get in. But, only slightly.

We got Arthas down to 42% before wiping. Several attempts but no success. But still very very exciting to finally be there, tackling the big guy!

Last night we did a full clear, minus Professor, in the 4 hours of our raid time. The next two raid nights will be focused solely on the Lich King. Woo hoo!

Icecrown Citadel 10 (Priest)
Not sure if I have the time, the energy or the will to continue staying up into the wee hours of the morning with the 10-man team. I so desperately want to finish ICC with them, but the late nights are playing havoc on my health, my job and my marriage. We'll see if there's any possibility of changing the schedule.

Friday, March 12, 2010

October 12, 2010

Woot woot woot! We finally got down Sindragosa on 25-man last night. Yippeee!!!!! Woo hoo!!! Yowza! Yay!


Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
So, as I was saying, we killed Sindragosa last night for the first time. That was an exciting bit of progress. I know that I personally improved my performance. From the perspective of a healer, it's all about managing the stacking buffs while keeping the raid alive. On previous nights, I had been making two clear strategy mistakes during phase 3:
  • Trying to clear my Mystic Buffet stacks at every opportunity. Every time a new raid member got ice-blocked, I tried to get behind the block long enough to remove my stacks, regardless of how many I had. Bad result = Not enough healing on the tanks. Resolution = Waiting longer to remove stacks.
  • Not noticing that I had Unchained Magic and that my Instability stacks were getting dangerously high. I had been focusing so much on Mystic Buffet that I forgot about Unchained Magic. Bad result = casting constantly, which lead to my death. Resolution = Pay attention to both debuffs and accept that fact that I must stop casting at some points to let the Instability stacks wear off. A dead healer can't heal.
Last night I focused on both of these and voila! Success! Of course, I recognize that 24 other people played part in the overall success. But at least I can be proud of this progress in my personal performance.

Gear vs. Skill vs. PC Performance
So there's this other holy priest in my guild that outheals me on all fights except Professor Putricide. (And the only reason I outheal him on that fight is that I keep Renew up on the Abomination the entire time.) Up until recently I had attributed the difference in output to the fact that he had better gear than I. However, I recently passed him up gearwise and he continues to have HPS anywhere from 600-1000 higher than mine.

Before I go on, I will point out that I recognize that healing meters are not the same as DPS meters. DPS and damage done are direct measurements of the amount of damage you're putting out. HPS and total healing are reliant upon damage taken that you can heal. In other words, a mob has a set amount of hit points, which means there's a certain amount of damage that needs to be done to kill it. You (the raid) must do that damage to succeed.

Healing is different. If none of my allies takes any damage throughout a fight, there is no damage to heal. In such a fight, my HPS would be 0. Of course, that never happens, but it does show the difference between DPS and HPS meters. Damage is can't kill the boss without it. Healing is only necessary if damage is taken.

A more realistic example is one where people actually take damage. Healers step in and heal that damage. If Raider A takes damage and Healer A heals it, that healing is added to the HPS of Helear A. If Healer B heals the same person, he only gets credit for the amount he actually healed. If Raider A takes 5000 damage then Healer A throws a heal on him that heals for 3000, then Healer B throws a heal that heals for 3000, Healer A's gets credit for 3000 and Healer B gets credit for 2000 (1000 is overhealing, and doesn't count).

(Much of this is painfully obvious, but I'm working through it in my head to get to my point).

If Healer A heals Raider A for 5000 (which brings Raider A up to full health) then Healer B's heal hits for 3000, only Healer A gets credit for the healing done. Healer B's heal is considered overheal and pointless for healing done. (Similarly, if a mob dies, any spell or attack against it after death is not counted as damage done.)

Why am I saying all of this? Because I'm trying to explain why my stats might be higher due to gear, but my healing output can be so much lower. We're casting the same spells, and mine are a little more potent, so something else must be going on.
  • Reaction time / Skill: It's very possible that the other priest is much quicker to respond and better able to predict incoming damage. This is probably defined as skilled. I think my reaction time might be slower because I'm about 20 years older than he. I might understand how to play my class as well as he, which would make me skilled in that sense. But, I sadly admit that reaction speed is also part of skill. A professional athlete in her 40s can rarely beat one of the same skill of a younger age. So, I define skill as being a combination of knowledge/experience and reaction time. I have the knowledge and experience but not the best reaction time.
  • PC Performance: When you're casting spells (at least as a priest), you get into a rhythm. I know I can cast a Circle of Healing, then Prayer of Mending followed by two renews before I can cast CoH again. When in the midst of a battle, I sense the rhythm and can usually cast a spell a split second before Power Auras tells me the spell if off cooldown. Best case scenario, it works like clockwork. No cooldowns missed, constant casting. Who could ask for better healing output? With perfect rhythm set up, what can stop me from reaching my potential? PC lag. Yep, in the midst of most battles my PC gets taxed and my FPS goes way down. Even though I know a spell is off cooldown, I try to cast it and nothing happens....until a second or two later. Under those circumstances I am unable to heal as quickly as I should, and I don't see all the damage as it's coming in. Over time this plays havoc on my healing output and on the survivability of the raid.
I'm not using PC performance as an excuse, I'm just pointing out that it does play a role in my overall healing output.

So...why talk about this? I want to improve. One thing I have control over is my PC performance. I can look into buying more memory and upgrading my graphics card. Perhaps when I do that, I can then see what a difference it makes. Then, when I've eliminated my PC as a factor, I can see my actual "skill" level. I don't think I'll ever catch up to the other healer; my reaction time is not something I can improve much. But, ate least I can get closer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010

OK I'm a dolt. Yesterday I said I hoped we wouldn't do a fresh clear of ICC on either 10-man or 25-man so we could continue trying to get Sindragosa down. Well, I completely forgot that the wings of ICC are not linear. The first four encounters have to be done on a new raid id, but once you get past those, you can choose the wing you want to go to.

Last night we went right to Sindragosa. We got very very close to beating her. Hopefully Thursday will be our day!

Now...there is one part of my wish that did make sense. Even if we get down Sindragosa, we can't move on to the Lich King without clearing the other wings. Kinda like Sapphiron and KT can't be done until you do the wings of Naxx. So, to see the Lich King we will still have to kill Queen again. Ugh!

That's all for today. Busy at work.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010

I took a few days off work this past week, which meant I spent time playing and not blogging. :-)

Shaman Leveling
In a recent post I mentioned my frustration with my damage and survivability while questing. Well, I spoke with a shammie in my guild and she convinced me to try out Enhancement instead of Elemental. My biggest concern was equipment. Being Ele/Resto was easy because I didn't have to worry about changing equipment. But I realized a few things:
  1. With my abundance of Conquest and Triumph Emblems, I could easily afford to by the heirloom items -- two maces, chest piece, and shoulders.
  2. All those non-spellpower enhancing quest rewards that were ending up being vendor trash? Why not choose the Agility/Melee ones to build an Enhancement set? Honestly, this was a big realization for me. So many times I've gone for quest rewards and felt dismay over having no viable options for my current spec. Countless items have become vendor trash seconds after being rewarded. Now, with a melee and a caster spec, I can actually use more of the items!
  3. At this point in the expansion (almost the end!), people are less likely to complain when you roll on off-spec stuff in instances. I'm still healing dungeons, but I'm rolling need on Enhancement gear when it drops. Of course, I'm first waiting to see if others roll need first (like hunters or actual enhancement shamans). If they do, I pass. I figure they deserve it more since it's their main spec. But, if they roll greed or disenchant, I figure it's mine!
So how do I like Enhancement so far? I love it! I still have my general neutral feeling about melee. But, compared to Elemental, it's so much easier to solo. I don't even have to put down totems if I don't want to. And there are only a couple buttons to mash. Questing is now going to be a breeze again.

As mentioned above, in instances I've continued to heal. Mostly because it's easier to get into groups that way. But also because much of my gear is still spell power focused. I'm a bit self conscious about going into a dungeon and meleeing with caster gear on. Maybe if/when I get a full set of melee gear I'll be more comfortable doing so.

Which leads me to my question, what will I do when I hit 80? Will I bench her? Will I raid with her? If I raid, will I focus on Enhancement? Or will I give in and be resto? When I was leveling my druid I really thought I'd do more raiding with her than I've done. But, she has pretty much become my flask creator and gem transmuter. I'm willing to accept that I might bench her at 80. Honestly, the fun of leveling up a different class is satisfying enough. Once you hit 80 the game play doesn't really change; it's just your dps or hps that you focus on increasing.

We'll see...she's 75 now, so only 5 levels to go.

Paladin Leveling
My Pally is now 71. When I finally got her to Northrend and bought her cold weather flying, my focus became what I suspected it would...gathering ore to level blacksmithing. Yep, the fun with her is the profession leveling, more than the game play. What can I say, she's melee. ;-)

I've got her to 401 Blacksmithing. It's that phase where many of the recipes require a mix of cobalt and saronite. Of course, I can't wear any of the stuff I'm making at this point. But, who cares? I'm having fun making it. I'm putting some of the items in my bank for possible future use and sending the rest to my mage for disenchanting. I remember while leveling alchemy that I reached a point in the process when I had to gain a certain character level before being able to continue further. I'm not sure if that will be the case with blacksmithing. But, no worries, I'll get her to 80 eventually, though not as quickly as I will get my shammie. Unless...I get in the mood to hide. Then the pally will be my only play option.

Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
Last week's Icecrown Citadel runs were interesting. We finally got down Blood-Queen Lana'thel. Though it was by the skin of our teeth (pun intended). I think only 2 or 3 people were alive at the end. She enraged, killed almost everyone, but those who remained were able to get in the final bits of damage to bring her down.

A kill is a kill! :)

Our new challenge was Sindragosa. Having practiced it on 10-man (more below), I was able to execute the strategy fairly well. In fact, as a whole, we did great. We got her down to 12%, I believe. Not bad for the first night of attempts. But, that's pretty much where we made it in 10-man. I'm going to have to read the posts again on healing that fight. Something about that final phase is killing us and I can't seem to figure out how to heal through it.

Despite not getting her down, we were still very happy with the progress we made. The question of the day is, will we reset the instance tonight? Or will we go in with our raid id from last week and continue to attempt to get Sindragosa down? I hope it's the latter. We're so close to the Lich King, we can taste it. And, considering how our defeat of Blood-Queen Lana'thel was pure luck, I don't want to risk getting stuck on her again this week. We should count our blessings and push through this week. Hopefully the officers agree.

Icecrown Citadel 10 (Priest)
My ten man team is doing really well. We now have two Blood-Queen Lana'thel kills behind us, so she's "on farm" for all intents and purposes. We're now on Sindragosa too. Like I mentioned above, we've gotten her down to about 12%, just like in 25-man. So, the key really is figuring out how to heal that last phase.

We've had some tension recently in our 10 mans. Perhaps we're spending too much time together? Perhaps we're all not getting enough sleep because we're so focused on progression in both 10 and 25 mans? Whatever it is, it's causing a lot of bickering and arguments. I hate to suggest we take some time off, because that would delay our progress, and we're soo close to the Lich King. But, I'd hate to see our group dissolve because of resentments. Hmmmm....

Well, tonight we have the same question as with our 25-man: Do we save the raid ID and keep pushing until we get down Sindragosa? Or do we start from the beginning to get folks badges and possible drops?

I vote for the former, but I'm also one of the lucky ones who needs nothing from 10-man. So, my opinion might be a bit biased. I want the "Kingslayer" title now! Before the raid-buff goes up so much that anybody can get it! :-(

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 2, 2010

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green
Last night I played my pally until pretty late. She reached lvl 62, at which point I remembered I had already created a set of Fel Iron Plate items. I went to my bank and put them on. Golly green, Batman! I had never checked out their appearance before. What a glowing glob of green ick I look like! I haven't made the chest piece since I'm already wearing the heirloom breastplate. But now I'm tempted to do so just to take a screenshot of my big green dwarf pally.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010

Once again, a long time between posts. I really need to get out of the computer lab during the day. Although I'm doing good stuff in there, I'm neglecting my diary duties. :-)

Pally Leveling pally has been the object of my attention this past week. The 50s were tough, as I didn't like heading to BRD for the random dungeon, so most of my xp came through quests. It would have been simple, but I was picky about the zones I wanted to spend time in...and I didn't want to do any green quests. But, yesterday afternoon I finally dinged 58 and headed to Outland! Then, after a dozen or so quests and a couple runs through Ramparts, I dinged 60 and got my flying mount!

Now that there are more abilities to use, I'm enjoying playing her much more than I did when she was much lower level. I still don't prefer melee, so I won't be surprised if I bench her after I reach 80 and get a few pieces of heroic gear. But, at least I will have enjoyed the different play style and will have a toon that can make Eternal Belt Buckles. Hehe...I know the belt buckles aren't really a good reason to put time into getting a toon to 80. But, like I said, I am enjoying the change in play style, even if it is not ultimately my "thing".

Shaman Leveling
Before raids started, I hopped on my shammy. She was so close to 72 that I could taste it! A couple quick quest turn ins and ding! I was excited to train some new skills, only to realize there were only restoration spell upgrades. Upgrades are nice, but it was a little underwhelming.

I'm having a little hard time with her. While soloing I'm not doing as much damage as I would want to do...and I'm dying quite a bit. I suppose the deaths are partly due to the fact that I'm using the heirloom staff and not a shield and one-handed weapon. A shield would probably increase my survivability, but the extra xp per kill makes me stick with the staff. This is only an issue when I'm soloing, obviously. When I'm in groups, I rock the DPS meters, so I know I'm playing her right in that situation.

They do say that Enhancement is the soloing spec. But, I like the ability to switch between Elemental and Resto since it doesn't require me having two sets of gear. So, I suppose I can just suffer through my low survivability. Though I can't help but wonder if I'm playing her wrong. For example, I go back and forth in my mind regarding which Water totem to put down. Do I use Healing Stream Totem to keep myself alive a little longer? Or do I use Mana Spring Totem to extend my time betwen breaks? Or does it balance out because I use that extra mana to cast healing spells on myself anyway?

I queued last night and got Azjol-Nerub twice. I hated healing that instance on my priest and I hate doing so on my shaman. That first encounter is just insane. The first time I got the instance I was DPS. The poor healer couldn't keep us alive -- or was it that the tank couldn't keep the mobs under control? The second time I got the instance I was Heals. I couldn't keep us alive -- and the tank couldn't keep the mobs under control. In both instances the tank was a DK. It does remind me of how much I hate healing DK "tanks". I am still not convinced that they are really a good tanking class.

But anyway...why did I get put into AN at lvl 72? Even with my Cleansing Totem up, the party took too much damage. I always thought that a shaman would do much better healing that first encounter than I was ever able to do on my priest. I'm not sure why I couldn't heal it. Was I too low at 72? Was the tank not up to par? Was it just bad RNG?

I turned around and healed Nexus right afterward and didn't have a single death. So, even though I find the healing style of Shamans more difficult than that of Priests, I clearly can do it.

Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
Last night we went back to ICC and continued attempts against Queen. Still no success. I do enjoy seeing my healing numbers soar into the 8k-10k range. That's fun. :-) But it wasn't enough.

After a couple hours there, we gave up and headed to Valithria Dreamwalker. It took us only a couple attempts to get her down. Easy encounter, once you get the rhythm of it. There was a little tension at the end when our egotistical pally took credit for the success (I'd say "kill", but that's not appropriate for this encounter). He's so full of himself. But our Raid Leader called him on it and made him take back his words and acknowledge that it was a team effort. Yes, he healed the most, but that wouldn't have mattered if the rest of us hadn't healed the raid, while popping heals on the dragon as often as we could.

I have to say I like the Valithria encounter. It's a refreshing change from the norm.

Oh and last time I posted I expressed doubts that we really have Professor on farm. Well, we wiped a couple times this week, but we got him down. I'm not sure if "farm" implies no wiping. But, I'll say it does not. We have him on farm, even though we might wipe a couple times while getting him down.

Icecrown Citadel 10 (Priest)
Nothing new. Still getting down bosses we have on "farm" (including professor putricide). We didn't raid a couple of our normal nights this week, which put us behind schedule.

I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow night. Will we extend our raid id and try to reach the Lich King? We only have Queen and Sindragosa in our way. Queen is pretty easy with our group. Sindgragosa will be a new encounter for us. We'll probably start from scratch -- if anyone gets a piece of new gear as we work our way to Sindragosa, we'll be better able to defeat her. But, with our limited time to raid 10 man each week, we might never have enough time to clear the whole place.

I want the Kingslayer title and I want it now, daddy!

Level and Goal Check

Death Knight
Ret 60 (+19)
(no talents)
Ele / Resto
72 (+5)
Affliction PvP
(no talents)

I gained only 5 levels this past month on my Shaman, but 19 on my Pally. This is a sign of a couple things. (1) I've been distracted by out-of-game things, such as family stuff and re-reading one of my favorite book series, (2) When playing alts, I've been choosing to play my Pally so I can hide. I pretty much have all of the gear I can buy with Emblems of Frost, so I'm not motivated to log in on my priest on non-raid days to do random heroics. If I log in as my shammy, I'll be talked into healing randoms for folks on my priest. My mage and druid are recognizable also. So, that leaves the warlock, which is my bank toon again and my pally.

More about my experiences in the next post.


✔ Level him to 80.
✔ Get into at least one raid.
✔ Get him to max Tailoring (well, not really achieved, but the carpet mount was the actual goal.
✔ Make a carpet mount.

✔ Level her to 80.
Get into at least one raid.
✔ Dual spec her boomkin/resto. (Though I switched from resto to feral soon afterward.)

✔ Get a little further in Ulduar than I have so far (which is only past the first boss). (So far we got all the way to Yogg.)
Get turtle mount.
Get Giant Sewer Rat pet.


Max out Engineering.

Level her to ??. (not sure how high I feel like leveling her).

I had wanted to get her to exalted with Ironforge for the novelty of getting a ram mount. But now that I created the dwarf pally, there might be no incentive. I didn't really enjoy playing her that much.

Mage goals, I suppose. Just continue getting better gear. Her current Imba score is: 604.87 -- no difference from last month.

Go full resto at 80.

Death Knight
No real goal. Fun to play, but no real motivation to get to 80.

No goals. I don't like playing him. I would say "get him to max leatherworking", but that would require me to level him.