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First impression from 5.3′s aftermath, &c.

Tell me this is not the most adorable paladin ever. GO AHEAD AND TRY!

It’s only been a full day since 5.3 dropped, but wow, what a great patch. I have never felt so unpressured by the valor points grind, thanks to heroic scenarios. Like 15 minutes for 120-150 VP once per day, which is amazing. Despite an urgent need to cap every week (at least, until my gear is full upgraded) I have no concerns about how long it’ll take me to get that done.

The scenarios themselves are pretty bite-sized content, but I appreciate the step up in difficulty that the heroic flavor offers. Hopefully them not being a complete steamroll just yet will keep them interesting and not at all tedious. You also cannot beat that return on (time) investment.

In the three that I’ve run so far, all of them have included someone being a tank, which seemed to be a huge help. A healer was definitely not mandatory, but having one person taking and mitigating the damage from some damaging trash pulls was well worth it. The bonus timers also seemed pretty easy to hit (granted, that was in Throne gear).

I didn’t do much in the Battlefield: Barrens world event, but I liked what I saw.

Well, that's well and good, but the Alliance are super friends now. That's exciting, yes?

I’m also a little annoyed (okay, jealous) because the Horde storyline right now is so good and the Alliance angle on it just cannot compare, no matter how awesome and allied and cooperative we are and how we’re planning out some sort of sneak attack with the Trolls as cover. That’s all well and good, but it’s so boring compared to a rebellion. Strife is sexy and exciting; reconnaissance is dreadfully meh.

Still, it was really nice to be back in the Barrens. I have good memories of that zone, especially after I learned how to exit general chat.

The whole event should be a nice diversion now that I’m pretty burnt out from caring about the Isle of Thunder. So, excellent pacing on the content additions there, Blizz.

Zoom, zoom

Fried chicken.

In my post the other day I talked about how critical it was for us to keep up our speedy pace and get all the farm down in one night, so we are poised for only progression on our second night. Well, thankfully, I did not jinx us! We had an awesome pace last night and stormed right through the first half of Throne of Thunder in two hours, chain pulling our way to Jin-Kun’s fresh corpse only a few minutes before raid officially ended.

Durumu won’t know what hit him on Monday!

I also picked up some great loot last night, among them an expertise-itemized Bracers of Constant Implosion, Zerat, and Ji-Kun’s Rising Winds (thanks to Voss). The tank upgrades just by themselves freed up enough expertise that I was able to push to 26% haste. It’s not an amazing amount, but I’m really happy that I’m finally starting to stack up that wonderful stat. If I could get a Worldbreaker’s Stormscythe to drop, I think I could do some serious damage.

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Come to papa!

Let's see how many bird puns I can fit in this post.

Ah, karma. I bitch and moan about the scarcity of shields, claiming that the best I can hope for is some benighted hand-me-down from one of two fights in LFR, and then Visage of the Doomed has the audacity to drop off of Horridon and make me look like an ass.

I am not embarrassed to admit that when I saw the item on Horridon’s corpse, my immediate reaction was to utter in mumble what someone might charitably describe as a deep, throaty gasp. (Yes, I’m aware how horrific that sentence is. When it comes to shields, even dodge/parry ones, I have no shame.)

I’m not sure I would have to, but I can’t tell you enough how much of a relief it was for that shield to drop. I really thought I was going to be out in the cold for a good, long time.

Things are looking up!

Plucked from the sky

Speaking of looking up, after raid last week (which, I must say, was fantastic) we found ourselves at the end of the night looking at Ji-Kun once more. We executed fights wonderfully and generally made great use of our limited raid time. Thursday lined us up nicely for a full Monday of Ji-Kun progression.

And so it was. Last night we hit Ji-Kun once more and before long it was Bye-Bye, Birdie. I have no idea what was going on with the flying teams, being firmly planted on the ground, but they were completely on top of smashing the nests’ contents. Healers were similarly on top of their arena, and puddles were not in danger of overrunning us.

As for tanking, Voss and I had a pretty good handle on our roles. At one point we noticed that he was having trouble getting back to Ji-Kun post-Down Draft before other people (or, tragically, hunter pets) would, because he’s so damn slow now that he’s a DK. However, he was also the only one between the two of use that was consistently tanking during Down Draft, so there was an easy fix to be had.

We switched up who started tanking the fight, which put me on the ball when Ji-Kun started flapping her wings. Thanks to Speed of Light, I could pretty much stand still if I lined it up with Down Draft, which completely negated the tragedy of Snarf the Wind Serpent getting cut down in his prime. Teamwork!

I must admit, being the optimist I am, I did not expect us to get Ji-Kun last night. I feel like it usually takes us two solid nights to learn a fight, at least according to the trend line from the entirety of Throne of Thunder. With last night only being the second night we hit Ji-Kun for real, by all rights we should have finished up the night disappointedly hopeful. And yet, there we were, victorious, with Ji-Kun plucked from the sky after only thirteen attempts.

The goal this week now has to be a repetition of last week’s farm night success: storm through all completed content and clear a night for progression. It was doable last week, but will it be so this week? With 12 bosses (and ALL THAT TRASH) and only two hours to a raid night, there is a wall coming where we can only kill so many bosses in a night and still have decent time for progression. After all, we’re no spring chickens.

The time may come soon to talk about extending lockouts …

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Winning at the waiting game

I may have already had the meta equipped before he got the chance to say that.

I am not a patient man (this is an understatement). For the first few weeks in Throne of Thunder, I was very lucky with my Secrets of the Empire drops. Four one week, five and so on, until I had reached lucky thirteen. Then the torrent slowed to a trickle: one a week, two if I was lucky. Finally the week before last, I had four to go and (of course) I scored three, putting me one away from finally completing the quest. This week it took until Megaera on the Saturday LFR to nab that last Secret, but that was all she wrote, at last.

Once the LFR was out, I turned in the quest and proceeded to head over to the Isle of Thunder to do the solo scenario with Wrathion. I had heard that it was considered difficult, so I cajoled Antigen into walking me through it on mumble, him having done it just the week before. (It’s what he gets for starting the quest two or three weeks before me and finishing one week before.)

In hindsight, I can’t help but feel the scenario was pretty doable as prot. I did it as DPS, per Antigen’s recommendations, but the Sha Amalgamation seemed pretty killable even with much lower DPS. I think I would have appreciated the extra health/survivability as well for the second half.

No way this chain of events will ever bite me in the ass.

Either way, after a lot of panicked DPSing I came out the other side with the Lightning-Tempered Spear. The next challenge, how the hell was I going to find a Nalak group to bum off of on a Saturday? I went over to where ol’ Sparky hangs out, but he was just chilling, with not another soul in sight. Combine my EST play hours on a PST server with the “medium” pop we are afflicted with, and you have a very deserted Isle.

In desperation, I tried pulling it by myself and just running for it. I could make it for about 10 seconds, with Divine Shield’s help, but eventually Nalak would zap me to death with his “someone better be in goddamn melee” mechanic.

So then I asked Antigen to throw on his under-construction prot set and spec and try to buy me some time. We did one try that didn’t go very well. Though, that was not his fault, imagine if he needed me to burn down a mob as ret within 30 seconds. I’d probably end up accidentally killing him instead.

Anyway, then Voss was super kind enough to hop online and give me a hand. The groveling I offered didn’t hurt, either. He and Antigen both distracted Nalak for just enough time that I was able to kite the spark and steal Nalak’s essence, or whatever it is we were doing there.

I then excitedly bounded off back to Wrathion to present him with an Artifact of Untold Power which will not possibly even come back to bite me or the rest of the world in the ass. Nope, not at all.

How appropriate that everything is so orange.

And in exchange he deigned to grant me a trinket as payment for a job well done. Thanks, bud.

I have no idea how much longer we have until 5.3, but I doubt it’s enough time to get all the Titan Runestones before the patch drops. I am perpetually behind!

Regardless, I’m just excited to have my legendary meta and to be finally done with that phase of the questline. It felt like an eternity ago I began collecting those damn secrets, and it was getting pretty frustrating to kill twelve bosses over the course of a week and see only one or two. My luck with any kind of drop has been abysmal for the past month or two, and I was getting awfully tired of feeling like I was being knee-capped by my terrible RNG.

Jin’rokh still hasn’t dropped his axe, and I still can’t get any epic shield to drop for me this expansion (seriously, if I didn’t buy Sultiru’s I’d still be using a blue) — but at least I finally have my legendary meta. That feels good.

Empty cavern, down!

On a different front, raids this week started pretty slow, but we made up for our bad start in a very strong way. On Wednesday, we had some issues on Council, taking forever to drop what was a one-shot for us the week before. I’m not sure what exactly the issue was, but it felt like everyone was just taking way more damage than usual. Something was off.

We managed to knock that down and then get two cracks at Tortos before the night ended (the downside of two-hour raid nights). That left us last night with the task of killing Tortos quickly so we could get more progression in on Megaera.

It took us about two attempts, but we killed Tortos and moved on through the endless gauntlet of trash to have just over an hour to get some work done on Megaera. I swapped around my talents and glyphs (unglyph Divine Protection, spec into Hand of Purity) and steeled myself for another dance with Meg.

Last week’s work on Megaera was a painful exercise. I was making full use of every tool at my disposal, and even that didn’t feel like enough. Over the course of the night, I made an effort to get a good rhythm to my cooldowns, what to use when, to smooth out the most dangerous parts. Like tanking a blue head with four stacks of its “Stop Ignoring Me” buff, or just tanking the red head in general.

Our best attempt of the night was a wipe at 4% on the very last head, which was very trying, thanks to us ignorantly deciding to do the red head last. Woops.

So last night, it was determined that red would be second to last to die, then green or blue, to prevent stacking the deck against ourselves so much once again. We then pulled, and I fully expected a hectic wipe, but instead we killed it on the first try.

I know I said I thought we were on a good roll, but that was ridiculous. Everything clicked, tank damage felt much more manageable (I hardly used any cooldowns until tanking red as the second-to-last head), and as a whole everyone executed near flawlessly. I love this feeling of momentum. Hopefully we can keep it going and get Ji-Kun down in short order. The sooner we get to Primordius, the better.

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May 14, 2013
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Here’s my secret to getting Blizzcon tickets

To stay zen before ticket sales, I went down to the flying turtle emporium that Millya was making to keep HERSELF zen.

Yesterday was one of those magical days that only come once a year where a person gets to put aside all concern for their blood pressure and stress levels and attempt to buy one of the hottest tickets of the year in the world of nerdery.

The last two times tickets went on sale for Blizzcon, I managed to snag my entry passes both times. Of course, the very first time I bought tickets I got place 413 in line, the second 1254, and last night I got 1334. I might be slipping.

Well, regardless, I saw a lot of people on twitter that were sad that they got stuck with such a high queue number that they eventually missed the boat on tickets. In the interest of helping — and with the selfish interest of already having my ticket and thus not shooting myself in the foot — I would like to share my method for buying Blizzcon tickets in the hopes that I can help some other folks get to enjoy the event in person come November.

For starters, do the following pre-flight checks:

1. Confirm your payment methods are correct on the Blizzcon site, to be safe. I know Blizz recommends this too, but it’s really important and bears repeating.

2. Download Chrome if you don’t have it. In my experience (or maybe this is confirmation bias) Chrome is the fastest when it comes to reloading pages. Test it out at the ticket buying site a few times to get a feel for how quickly it reloads.

3. Compliment your F5 key, it’s going to get quite a beating because you must use F5 to reload. If you click the reload icon in Chrome, you will lose precious seconds (this will be a recurring theme) getting your mouse from there to the checkout button. Either way, get familiar with how your hand will rest on the keyboard and what will be the most optimal/least painful way to spam that key.

4. 15 minutes before tickets go on sale, log into your account on and go to the payment methods page and just reload that every 5 minutes to make sure you stay logged in.

5. Check the @BlizzCon twitter account. Last night they were tweeting 30-10-5 minute warnings so it was easy to gauge the difference between my clock and theirs (ie, if I was 1 minute faster or slower than them). Gets you an idea at what point you need to be “in the zone”.

Okay, now we’re 3 minutes before tickets go on sale. This is when you want to start going to town on the F5 key, since you don’t know if some mook at Blizzcon is going to flip the switch to put the tickets on sale early. (This probably would not happen, but in cases like this safe is better than sorry.)

Here is the single most important bit of advice I can impart to you. Look at this screen:


Where that red box is is approximately where the checkout button will appear. There will also be a drop down box where you can change your quantity, but that box is a trap. You hear me? It’s a trap.

You will lose precious seconds changing your quantity on this screen when you need to get into that goddamn queue as soon as possible, scrambling over the thousands of other clambering purchasers and scalper bots. You can change your quantity at checkout before you pay for your tickets.

As you F5, get in the zone so that as soon as that red-orange button appears you will instantly click down on it rather than reload the page another unnecessary time.

I hope this all helps. Good luck on Saturday, you can do this!

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April 25, 2013
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Quo vadis?


Desiring some quick VP before raid last night, I queued up for a heroic dungeon and was whisked away to the Temple of the Jade Serpent. I must admit, that dungeon gives me a bit of anxiety because for the past few months I’ve been laboring under the delusion that it’s possible to get the achievement Cleaning Up while in a LFD group. And yet, so far, things have not worked out — though my delusion persists.

Without fail, in every run, I turn to head into the library first and some of the group members stop in a haze of confusion and ask where I am going. Some can only muster up the strength to express a single “?” in party chat. I must know, when did it become the default for so many people to head into the pool room first for a little splashy-splashy, so much so that they would think starting with the library was actually an incorrect choice?

Brick Road, the dungeon-building character from Earthbound, once declared that “[his] statistics show about 70% of the people go to the right first.” But obviously that’s not really scientific, and further, I’m not entirely sure his dungeoneering degree is from an accredited institution. He may just be blowing smoke. (I don’t actually think that his declaration is a representation of any real data, mind you).

I only learned of that quote yesterday while reading a dissection of the first dungeon from the first Legend of Zelda game at one of my favorite gaming blogs. The author there was talking about how the designers at Nintendo were guiding the player through the dungeon — which starts with a similar left-right split — with subtle clues that would hint at what may be the correct path. Then hours later I had my Temple run with its similar left-right split at the entrance. Does that count as an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon?

From a dungeon design or gamer psychology standpoint I’m willing to wager the reason that left seems to be the obvious first path for the Temple of the Jade Serpent is because, between the two otherwise equal paths, the left is distinguished by having enemies visible in the doorway. When you enter a dungeon, you’re on a mission to clear out all the mobs and collect all the loot, so the brain would be naturally inclined to start with the most immediate and clearly present threat.

I can’t speak for the actual designers at Blizzard, but I can imagine that their logic was to make the seemingly obvious path pool then library with mobs as cues, and then the achievement (because they have to involve some kind of flip or reversal) the counter-intuitive opposite. It’s subtle but, if intended, pretty clever in how it manipulates the players. And oh boy are there players who fall for it.

Anyway, just something I found interesting! Now if only I could get queued up with a group that doesn’t have that one dps player who can barely do above 5k dps. One day.

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April 18, 2013
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And then there were none

I enjoyed this cutscene immensely, for reasons I'm sure of.

I don’t need to tell you what a shitty day yesterday was, and how much I needed a little escapism after all the events that transpired. Thankfully, WoW was kind to me and was more than happy to oblige with an excellent night.

After the last raid last week, we had knocked down Horridon for a second time and were once again looking at the Council of Elders assembled before us in all their tusky glory. We ended up putting in six attempts on them, which went okay. Not bad at all, but also not amazing enough to produce a kill. Pain points were easy to identify and we talked a little bit about them on the boards, including the red herring of using a Grounding Totem to mitigate the damage from Kaz’s Overload.

It turned out though that that tactic was hotfixed about a month ago — so, thankfully, our shamans had no reason to get delusions of grandeur.  As it turns out, we didn’t even really need a workaround for Overload, as it didn’t seem to pose any sort of problem with our attempts last night.

I can barely use the plural there because we two-shot the fight. The first attempt we tried a balanced approach, being extra cautious about definitely burning the empowerment out of each troll, and then during Sul’s turn (which was third, too soon!) he caused a wipe. He was at 47% health.

Our kill attempt we decided to shake things up and absolutely focus Sul, but be very responsible about getting empowerment knocked out before it caused an issue. So right off the bat, all the dps cooldowns went flying and we got Sul to about 50% before we needed to pull off. Not bad.

We continued on, with me and Alaron (feral druid) plinking away at Sul’s health bar, as the fight continued. Eventually we got it to just under 25% before Sul had even empowered, and then when it was finally his turn, he was down to 10%. It was a breeze to knock him off with only one Sandstorm cast.

Once Sul was down, obviously, the dynamics of the fight changed immensely. The difficulty curve on this fight is steep right off the bat and slopes straight down as each troll gets knocked off.

I’m sure a significant part of our success is thanks to the recent hotfix nerfs. As we were winding down the fight with only two trolls left, I know that Marli managed to sneak a few blessed beasts over to a much-too-close Kaz, and I think she got one on Malakk right before we knocked him off. Yet even with those flubs, it wasn’t a huge set back, and the fight never again felt as dangerous as it did while Sul was still alive.

After the last boss (Horridon) where the difficulty ramps up a lot as the fight continues across multiple phases and then levels out at the end, it was refreshing to work an encounter with nearly the exact opposite dynamic. Rather than tension and adrenaline and neck pain building up to a critical mass across almost 10 minutes and leaving you exhausted at the very end, you have a brutal sprint which turns into a leisurely jog with a tailwind zephyr guiding you along. One could even call it refreshing.

So after that refreshing kill, we got knocked down a hole to face Tortos. This is another fight where paladin tanks are in a very excellent position to cover the massive, angry beast portion of the fight thanks to Shield of the Righteous. I look forward to once again trivializing one of the main damage sources the boss has to throw out.

We put in 10 attempts, but they all felt really good in terms of progressing through the fight. Now unlike the previous two encounters, on Tortos it’s the same exact fight and mechanics the whole way through, you just need to execute and not succumb to fatigue from the repetition. Which I am totally okay with.

Much like after our Council attempts last week, I have a good feeling about Tortos. I don’t think it will take too long to topple.

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Sometimes I miss being a blood elf

This feels... right.

Taken during the RP in the stage 6 scenario on Thunder Isle.

Also, Jaina, saying “‘blood’ elf” with quotes around the ‘blood’? Not cool.

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April 15, 2013
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My chase for haste

wtb Rogue, DPS DK, Enhance Shaman, or Hunter.

I tend to be a lagging applicator (to coin a bad phrase) of whatever the hot new tankadin gear goal is. Whether it’s armor cap or CTC cap or whatever, I get there eventually, but it’s not much longer before the nerfs start rolling in or said goal otherwise reaches obsolescence. Now, this isn’t for lack of trying — believe me! — but mostly because I’m not on the same gear curve as those tanks who are currently strutting around with 30+% haste (and more!) when fully buffed.

But I’m getting there. I’m up to decimal points shy of 26% when our rogue is in the raid. Happily we also recently recruited a hunter, so between the two of them, I think I can safely assume that in any given raid I’ll have that wonderful 10% melee haste buff.

There are some changes I could make to pick up a few more haste percent, I’m still using Pandaren’s Step instead of Greater Haste, and I’m still using stamina flasks instead of a haste elixir.

As Theck wrote in his amazing stamina post this week, haste isn’t some survivability magic bullet, it’s a trade off of survivability for dps. And at this juncture I’m not 100% convinced that I’m ready to trade more guaranteed and passive survivability for some extra dps. I feel like I can still make good use of that extra health and even the passive run speed bonus of the boot enchant — I was always a fan of the old Pursuit of Justice talent.

Sure, that extra dps is helpful for my format of raiding (10mans), but Throne of Thunder is awfully dangerous. I need to find the proper balance and not just hastily charge ahead.

I have some great upgrades coming down the pike, thanks to Shado-Pan Assault, that should free up a lot of itemization for more haste. I’ll likely be grabbing the Thunderbreaker Legplates next week which will allow me to drop some expertise gemming that I’ve been saddled with. Though, if Horridon drops the Bloodlord’s Bloodsoaked Legplates, more’s the better.

Then in another two weeks or so, I’ll be at revered for Shado-Pan Assault and can grab the Gianttooth Chestplate, which I hope will be the end of my hit and expertise gemming needs once and for all.

But I digress with all this loot squawking. To get back to the point: I really do love having haste as an option, and I will surely be distraught when the hammer finally falls and Blizzard rips this glorious rug right out from underneath us. There’s just something that is so awesome about having my abilities come up and go out more quickly. It just feels so dynamic to be a haste-laden protection paladin.

It’s hard to describe, but the word “fun” always springs to mind. Something like driving a sleek, fast car with the top down. Contrawise, Treckie (paladin tank from Method) described his usual stamina-focused setup as “slowmo” mode. In this case, perhaps, one can describe haste-less stamina as like driving a box van. Sure it gets the job done, and you probably won’t get as many speeding tickets, but where’s the fun in that?

Back in Wrath I managed to achieve armor cap about a month before patch 4.0.1 came out. In Cataclysm it took me until late-Firelands to get enough gear to comfortably pull off CTC capping. Hopefully this time around, with this gearing “flavor of the xpac”, I’ll be able to enjoy my speedier self before the curtains come down.

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April 12, 2013
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Third time’s the charm

Pictured: Voss rolling over Horridon, looking for its loot.

Last night we killed Horridon for the first time, which felt like a real achievement. Jin’rokh is a real tease, leading the uninitiated on to later drop their guard and then eventually their corpse. Horridon is where Throne of Thunder first really grabs you by the hair and says, “you eyein’ me, boy?” (Shoutout for Shaen, there.) In short, here’s where the raid begins to get real.

Anyway, little more than 12 hours ago we were staring at that massive engine of meat and headbutts for our third “real” night of attempts on him. No, I’m not counting our first night of post-”oh, hey, Jin’rokh was pretty easy” wipes nearly a month ago. That was a lifetime and 20 average iLevels ago.

Sizing up the fight before we pulled, we went over the few changes of strategy we were going to make — mostly dealing with positioning — and then steeled ourselves.

First attempts were rough. Shaking the rust off (accumulated since Wednesday) necessitated a few quick wipes on the early doors. Voss commanded us to buckle down and get to work, because he was sick of doing the first three doors and wanted to start getting some progression in. Then, fourth attempt we busted right through door 3 and then on through door 4, with only a smidge of terror-induced self-urination on my part. I don’t know what changed in the previous week, but the BEARS seemed to be somewhat declawed.

That attempt saw us fall apart just as Jalak hit the floor. The fight, obviously, became infinitely less chaotic when the adds were out of the picture. I think it’s safe to say that the difficulty of the fight is really concentrated in doors 3 and 4, eh? (At least in 10N.)

Itanya later retrieved the loot from Horridon's massive piles of feces.

Next attempt was obviously the kill (I admit, my narrative structure here is being a tad obvious). I wish I could say I eeked the kill out with some derring-do or something heroic, but I can’t help but feel I wasn’t playing anywhere near my normal level. Maybe it was the quantity of adds and the rapid shift in gears between doors or how my weak snap aggro resulted in playing whack-a-mole with taunts from door to door, but I was on pins and needles through most of our latter attempts. And I’m fairly certain my play suffered a bit as a result.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t BSODing or anything — I just feel that my reaction times weren’t as good as they could have been. With lining up Shield of the Righteous and Triple Puncture, I dropped the ball a few times. Mostly because as DBM’s timing was elapsing, Horridon would turn to get Double Swipe off, pushing back Triple Puncture, and thus completely waste my ShoR buff. Generally piling up enough holy power — between banking and the 25% haste I have now — for an emergency ShoR isn’t difficult, but I managed to futz it at a critical point.

On our kill attempt I was holding Horridon as Jalak hit the floor and the dino Rampaged. As one of the Triple Punctures was coming up, my timing was completely off and I missed hitting my Q key (ShoR) before the attack occurred. I instantly dropped, bone and sinew torn asunder. Voss picked up the dino while I shamefully took my battle rez.

When Voss accumulated enough stacks of the debuff, I offered a switch and took over for him. I think it was around 20% health on the boss at that point. Driven by pride and divine right, I was determined to bring this flight down for a gentle landing in an field full of loot.

I was extra cautious and — it’s really incredible how much more attentive you can be when you get to stand still and don’t have to chase BEARS everywhere — just focusing on doing my rotation as best I could. I lined up a ShoR with each Triple Puncture like a peg in the appropriately shaped hole. It felt so good in that moment to just be zen and work through my active mitigation.

After an indeterminate amount of time (see: zen state) Horridon apparently lurched over and coughed up his purples. Sadly no haste/mastery legs, but the kill was a good enough reward, I guess.

Then we spent the last 20 minutes of raid throwing our corpses at the Council of Elders, but that’s a problem for another day.

So, goal for the future: be better at Horridon the next time around. A kill is no excuse for ‘good enough’!

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April 9, 2013
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BEARS, &c.


Having seen and suffered through working on Horridon twice this week, I am obligated to kvetch on this, the most addsiest of adds fights I have seen in a long while. And not only is it an adds fight, it’s a multi-phase adds phase! Quelle horreur!

That said, I really like the fight. In the heat of the moment I absolutely hate it — or at least my blood pressure does — but after the fact, when I’m logged off and curled up in the fetal position, a new appreciation for Horridon blossoms within me. It’s a great challenge for a tank, to have so much thrown at you. It’s going to feel so good when we topple it, which we will soon.

The way Voss and I have been handling the fight is that I tank the dino on the first door and he the adds, and then for the remaining three doors, we reverse. He takes Horridon the whole way through, me using Hand of Protection to drop his stacks every time the big guy charges a door, and I handle adds on the doors.

The first time we hit Horridon, when Throne first came out, our primary obstacles was mathematics. We met the boss after having clawed our way to clearing the previous tier by the skin of our teeth, and as a result we had little gear to show for it from the latter half of the tier. The adds had too much health, or tanks had just not enough, and our dps couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t pretty.

We spent the last two weeks in a “rebuilding season”, getting that average raid iLevel up, and dealing with some vacations that affected raid attendance. Then we came back this week for our first crack at him, not knowing what to expect. At the end of raid Monday night I felt a lot better about the fight. We were tearing through adds and making good progress.

There were hurdles, of course. For example, door three was a huge cluster-you-know-what. As the dinomancer was coming out we were swimming in diseases like … no, no, let’s not do that.

Anyway, we came away from our beat-down on Monday with some strategy changes in mind, mostly involving positioning of Horridon. And likewise not standing so close to door three, to give us more time before the disease-ridden trolls get within melee range of people. We also decided to switch to two-healing, which paradoxically (or not) would make the healing easier by killing those trolls before they could splash their viral slurry on us. (Or however it is they are transmitting disease through punches.)

Thursday we hit Horridon again and in the 90 minutes, give or take, we had on it there was some great progression. Door three is officially old hat and we’re on our way to similarly dominating door four. My biggest hurdle, personally, is BEARS. (The joke here being that, after our very first wipe on door four, I was asked in mumble what killed me, and I responded in a panicked voice: BEARS. That one-word explanation more than sufficed.)

Those bastards just about spend most of door four herding me around their quadrant of the arena. Because of the cleave, I’m constantly on guard about accidentally clipping a healer, and then a totem goes down, so I retreat and they try to shift to my side and I have to reposition, and so on. And, of course, being goddamn bears, they hit like trucks.

We only got, I think, three attempts involving door four and I’m really itching to get back there. I think we are very close to closing out this fight. It’s a really intense encounter, but it’s going to be so satisfying to finally down, so we can continue moving through the instance.

On the mage front

If you asked me to describe the exact moment I fell in love with my mage — deep, unconditional, let’s-run-away-together-and-leave-this-all-behind love — it was the moment I dinged level 58 while running Lower Blackrock Spire with Dan’s warrior. Suddenly I gained Arcane Brilliance (5% crit!) and, I’m pretty sure, all my heirlooms upgraded to TBC stat scaling — or at least it felt that way as my fireballs seemingly doubled in damage in the space of 5 seconds.

The extra crit has been fantastic. Hot Streaks were few and far between, and now it feels like one out of every three fireballs is lining up a cascade of burning death. It’s fantastic. I was really doubting the wisdom of leveling as fire, with such low crit, but now all my concerns are assuaged by the gentle warmth of crispy, fiery death.

I’m at the point where I can pretty much kill a mob by myself before Dan charges in and explodes it into paste with a 10k Shield Slam crit.

We’re in Outland now, of course, and it’s jarring going from shared skull/boss mobs and fast respawns to the mad race to be the first to kill any every-alt-for-itself quest mob. And not to mention, suddenly, DEATH KNIGHTS.

Goddamn night elves in that awesome dark blue plate have popped up like how people used to belief that leaving a bag of flour opened overnight would cause mice to spontaneous generate out of thin air. The DKs swarm across Outland, death gripping everything in their path.

Dan and I have agreed to avoid most of the Outland dungeons for the time being — our thought is that it’ll just be hugely frustrating for him to tank, as every one of those DKs is still in their god-mode phase, and will likely just run through aggroing anything they can get their disease-ridden hands (oh wait, those trolls are starting to make sense now) on, and they won’t even have the good decency to die once in a while. Who needs that?

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April 5, 2013