Sunday, November 29, 2009

Introducing the Emblem of Conquest Raid Guide Brigade

The Anub'arak guide was but a small stepping stone in the greater scheme of things.

As was hinted at yesterday, the Emblem of Conquest Raid Guide Brigade™ will be out in full force for Icecrown.

We will be bringing you the best strategies for each and every single boss in Icecrown, all the while being committed to remaining at the forefront of releasing guides to new content.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

How To: 25 man Heroic Anub'Arak

Due to the unanimous positive feedback I received from my guide to playing a ret paladin, and the influx of new guilds that hit the brick wall of Anub’arak each day, I’ve decided to write my own guide to this fight (25 man heroic, of course, as 10 mans are a joke).

Group Setup:

It’s like Sunwell all over again. You want to stack warlocks and resto shamans, as warlocks are the best DPSers on this fight and Chain Heal is incredibly useful for keeping the raid topped up in Phase 3. You want to avoid bringing Death Knights and mages, as their usefulness is very limited. For best results, imagine it is Sunwell, as DKs weren’t out and nobody brought mages to raids anyway.

You need 5 tanks for this fight, one for the boss, and one for each add that spawns in a pack of 4. Druids are by far the best tanks for this fight, so try to have at least 3 of your 5 tanks be druids.

As for healers, 3 resto shamans should suffice, with 2 holy priests and a resto druid to round out your healer lineup.

Phase 1:

Phase 1 of this fight is marked by intermittent spawns of adds called Nerubian Burrowers that you have to kill before the next set spawns (on a 45 second timer) or else your 4 add tanks will die. Have your 14 DPS split up into 4 groups (2 groups of 4 and 2 groups of 3) to deal with the adds. Have your weaker DPS members (like feral druids and rogues) be in the groups of 4 to deal with the adds that spawn closest to Anub’arak. Have each add tanked in a separate corner of the room and have your DPS be ready to interrupt when they cast Submerge. On a timer, each add will jump around the room to a different corner, so your DPS and tanks need to be ready to deal with the new add that arrives.

In between these waves of adds, which will die very quickly using this strategy, you will have some time to DPS Anub’arak himself, and believe me when I say you need all the time you can get. Anub’arak needs to be at ideally 60% by his first submerge, although you should be able to scrape through if he is at 65%.

Phase 2:

Anub’arak will burrow into the ground after two minutes or so, and is now sending more adds at you while he himself is trying to rape you with his underground spikes.

His spikes will randomly target one person and follow them. If the target is a priest, paladin, hunter, or rogue then they should immediately fade/bubble/feign/vanish. If the target is not one of these classes (or a Night Elf, as Shadowmeld works too), then they should proceed to run into the spikes and die so that the next person can be targeted. Once one of the aforementioned classes is chosen and they use their special ability, you win. Prepare for Anub’arak to resurface and resume proceedings as per Phase 1. Continue until he reaches 30%. If you have a second burrow, it’s a wipe because you’ll hit enrage.

Phase 3:

This is where the real fight begins. Due to the large amount of damage that your raid is taking at this point, it is no longer feasible to be spread out in 4 corners of the room, so you must have your raid stack up near Anub’arak. Allow any adds that are up at this point to submerge by not interrupting them. You have until the new adds spawn to kill the boss. If new adds spawn, it’s a wipe unless your hunters are good, but I’ve never met a good hunter, so good luck with that.

This phase is all about how good your healers are. Pop heroism as soon as Anub’arak reaches 30%, then have your DPS zerg the boss while your healers scramble wildly to keep the raid alive and deal with Anub’arak’s immense damage output in this phase. Have your shamans, priests and druids spam their AoE heals wildly to keep everyone at full health. As for your holy paladins, oh wait, you didn’t bring any because they can’t AoE heal.

If your healers are good, you will win. Collect your plate spellpower belt, leather spellpower legs, cloth bracers that are worse than ones from Naxxramas, and a polearm. You can also find 4 vanquisher tokens in the tribute chest at the entrance to Anub’arak’s room, assuming you killed him in under 5 attempts, which to be honest, if you’re using this guide, you probably will.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A few changes around here

I'm going to be experimenting with a few changes around the blog, so keep your eyes peeled over the next two weeks or so.

Will be experimenting with layouts, and I have some new artwork in store for the blog. Just don't be too alarmed, or surprised when I inevitably break something.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Might claims US First Tribute to Immortality





Sunday, November 22, 2009

Six Words That Terrify Blizzard

I rarely read other WoW blogs, and more rarely yet will I recommend one. However, this post is a noteworthy exception to that. It provides a really captivating insight into the Icecrown Gating System I discussed the other day, going into significant detail about each point (much more so than I did!) and considering the effects they will have on guilds and players. While I don't agree with all of his points, they are presented in a logical and thoughtful manner and it's easy to see where he's coming from.

I highly recommend that you give this a read.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shadowmourne and LOLARMORPEN

954 - 1592 Damage Speed 3.70
(344.1 damage per second)
+223 Strength
+198 Stamina
Red Socket x3
Socket Bonus: +8 Strength
Classes: Warrior, Paladin, Death Knight
Requires Level 80
Item Level 284
Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 114 (2.48% @ L80).
Equip: Increases your armor penetration rating by 114 (9.26% @ L80).
Equip: Your weapon swings have a chance to drain a Soul Fragment granting you 40 strength. When you have acquired 10 Soul Fragments you will unleash Chaos Bane, dealing 1900 to 2100 shadow damage split between all enemies within 8 yards.

Stats finally got released. It looks pretty awesome. Proc is definitely amazing, free 200 strength sup? Works out to an average 621 strength on the weapon (if you gem 3x 20 strength) with BoK and Divine Strength, and that's not even considering the shadow damage portion of it.

But it's quite disappointing that they had to put armor penetration on it. No, this isn't a rant about how armor penetration is shit for ret paladins yet they keep shoving it down our throats on everything, there's enough complaining going around to cover that. Armor penetration is being removed entirely from the game in Patch 4.0 (probably a month or so before Cataclysm), and although that's a while off, the world first Shadowmourne probably will be too. With ICC being the last raid of the expansion, there won't be too long a time period between HM Arthas dying and 4.0 rolling around. I'm giving it 3-4 months at the most.

So where does that leave Shadowmourne? It will be used right up through Patch 4.0 into Cataclysm, and probably right into the first raid dungeon at 85. It'll obviously need a retooling with 4.0, but why wait for that? Change the stats now and get rid of the armor penetration in lieu of expertise and/or haste. It will not only solve the issue of having to rebalance it further down the track, but it will also make it more balanced stat-wise between the three classes that can use it.

Hopefully I'll get the chance to see one on my character before Cataclysm rolls out, but I have 2 excellent DKs and 1 mediocre one that, like me, dies to Laser Barrage on Mimiron to compete with.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Icecrown Gating System

The information on this was released recently in a fairly lengthy blue post, so I'll try and pick out the most relevant details and dissect them one by one.

The first section that opens will include the Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Deathbringer Saurfang encounters. Progress beyond that point will be prevented for several weeks. Then the Plagueworks will open with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide becoming available. After another period of time, the Crimson Hall will open and you can then fight the Blood Princes and Blood-Queen Lana'thel. The final Frostwing Halls unlock then occurs after that, making Valithria Dreamwalker, Sindragosa, and the Lich King available. We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace. 
Definitely not fussed about them gating it. I don't mind the more relaxing atmosphere on the normal modes, and it will certainly be good not to blitz everything in the first week of it being released.

There are other elements that gate access along the way. Players may not attempt any Heroic versions of 10 player encounters until they have defeated the Lich King in a 10 player raid. Similarly, players must defeat the Lich King in a 25 player raid before they can attempt a Heroic 25 player encounter. So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.
Good. This should have been in with Ulduar.

The Lich King may not be attempted until Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, and Sindragosa are defeated. Furthermore, the Heroic difficulty of The Lich King encounter may not be attempted in any week unless the three aforementioned encounters have been defeated in Heroic difficulty that week.
Pretty self explanatory, but also a good thing.

The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana'thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty.
Interesting, is really all I can say. I don't mind limited attempts on hard modes, but 5/10/15 is far too few when you consider the amount of connection issues involved in ToC currently. Icecrown will probably be worse when it's initially released. The addition of limited attempts to normal modes is a bold move, and one that will probably hurt average, middle-of-the-road guilds more than anything, as well as being counter-intuitive to pugging, which isn't exactly a bad thing.

There will be no explicit rewards for defeating the Lich King with a specific number of attempts remaining as there was with Trial of the Grand Crusader. There will also not be an achievement to complete Icecrown Citadel without being defeated by a boss encounter, or letting a raid member die. (i.e. A Tribute to Insanity).
I squealed like a schoolgirl when I read this. Thank heavens they've learnt their lesson from ToC and that they aren't stupid after all.

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell's effect if they so wish.
This is rather boring to be honest. It's much like Yogg hardmodes, except it's not interesting. Sort of a "hey, you haven't cleared it by now? Yeah okay we'll give you these awesome buffs" option for the terribles.

Daelo's post about this has earned some considerable ire and for the life of me, I can't understand why. Nothing about this system is awful, the worst thing about it is the initial limited attempts on the bosses and even that will be rectified over time. It's certainly an improvement on ToC, although it's not like that would have been hard to do.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heroic Mode testing available?

We are scheduling raid tests in Icecrown Citadel for November 18-20.

US Servers
Wednesday, November 18 at 7PM EST / 4 PM PST – Lord Marrowgar, Icecrown Gunship Battle
Thursday, November 19 at 7PM EST / 4 PM PST – Festergut, Deathbringer Saurfang
Friday, November 20 at 7PM EST / 4 PM PST – Valithria Dreamwalker

EU Servers
Wednesday, November 18 at 19:30 CET – Lord Marrowgar, Icecrown Gunship Battle
Thursday, November 19 at 19:30 CET – Rotface, Blood Princes
Friday, November 20 at 19:30 CET – Lady Deathwhisper

Heroic difficulties will be available for testing!

This is definitely a mistake. Heroic modes should be saved for the live realms so they're not spoilt early. Don't give me that crap about bug fixing, that's why they have teams that do internal testing. It's not like Icecrown will be bug free when it hits live anyway even with PTR testing of hardmodes.

Blizzard want to prolong the content, which is why they're gating it, but then again they're releasing everything but Arthas on the PTRs so it will all fall over on the first night it's released.

They've got it the wrong way around here, I'm afraid.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I suppose you could call it an absence.

Apologies for the lack of any recent updates, there’s really been a void of information lately with regards to 3.3 and Icecrown, which has led to limited content to discuss here. I’ve also been quite distracted lately by other games (namely Dragon Age: Origins and Modern Warfare 2), both of which are excellent and are definitely worth picking up.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Season 8 is the sex.

I posted recently about how I was more or less giving up on the paladin class for Wrath Arena.

Well I think I might just be changing my mind. I posted about awful paladin tier 10 really is, and after seeing the Season 8 set, I have realised that Blizzard still have the ability to make great looking paladin sets.

So it looks like I'll be droning my way through arena in S8 to get my full set. And I'll be wearing it in raids and doing 5k DPS with it because it looks that badass. That or they should swap it with the (still awful) tier 10 model. Fuckers.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Question Time

I received several questions via e-mail, but first of all I wanted to respond to one that was posed in a comment on my callout post.

Do you think Heroic Anub'arak 25 is a well designed encounter. Why/Why not?

It's definitely a valid time to be posting about this, as my guild, Fallen Chapter, just got Anub-25-Heroic down for the first time, getting A Tribute to Mad Skill in the process.

My answer is yes. It's the only encounter in ToC that is moderately interesting (although I daresay any healer will disagree with this), but that's not why I like it.

Anub's mechanics are specifically designed to break paradigms that have been in place (more or less) since the first time you've raided, such as the mentality of healers to keep everyone at 100%, and the tank EH paradigm (this might vary depending on your strat however). It forces players to keep on their feet and be responsive to their surroundings. It's not up to the standard of encounters that was present through TBC and was briefly present in Ulduar but it's still a well designed encounter, and is tuned exactly at the right level for where it is in the progression path (unlike the rest of Tier 9 content).

The only gripe I have with this fight is the requirements of specific classes. They're not a huge deal and more of a minor inconvenience than anything really (it's also very dependant on the strat you use) but in a guild with a relatively small core like FC, it does become quite a problem, because when certain people are unavailable, you can forget about Anub'arak.




Monday, November 2, 2009

Ghostcrawler on Ret

Eh. This ain't such a happy post. I'm pretty upset with a few of Ghostcrawler's comments of late with regards to ret paladin representation in high-end arena.

Ret paladins are complained about by the community more than anyone bar perhaps rogues. Unfortunately a lot of people don't realise the relatively poor situation Retribution is in currently with regards to arena. Yes, ret is grossly overpowered when matched against someone with shit gear, but against a high resilience opponent we become much weaker. And yes, we have 3 lives in duels, but the game isn't balanced around 1v1 anyway and we can't use LoH in arena, so deal with it.

Ret is in a pretty sorry state at higher ratings, so when we have GC coming out and saying "ret probably needs more nerfs" and "everyone is playing prot/ret, so ret is fine", it's really unsettling. The first comment is stupid, and that's immediately obvious, but the second one is a little bit more interesting. Ret/prot is a niche spec, much more so than the infamous prot/holy paladins were back in S6. They're not particularly feasible beyond 1700 or so except in 2s which Blizzard has deliberately stated they no longer wish to balance around.

So why are they being used to undermine the validity of the ret paladin community's concern for arena representation? Why is arena combat being balanced around lesser forms of PvP that offer no or limited rewards? Why can't they get my class right?

I've pretty much given up on playing ret as a serious arena playstyle for this expansion in the hopes that they might be able to get things right for Cataclysm with a serious redesign of the class. Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Icecrown: Something Positive, for a Change

First of all, there's no denying that this is a negative blog at times. This is a blog that is dynamic and responsive to the changing world (of Warcraft) and the decisions made within the community will affect the views of the community as a whole. My views just happen to be more cynical. Next.

Icecrown, on the contrary to many things in Patch 3.3, is shaping up really well. I've had the opportunity to see most of the encounters (through PTR testing and streams) and they're all looking very interesting at the moment, and we've only seen the normal modes so far. I'm very excited to see how the hard modes will turn out.

Of particular note is Valithria Dreamwalker, an encounter you win by healing the boss up to full life. This is very much a nice deviation from the normal tunnel-vision style encounter of "Hit boss, collect purples". The current achievement for the encounter asks requires her to be healed within 31 minutes, although I am currently assuming (and quite safely at that) that this a placeholder value much like the original Yogg-Saron speed kill (22 minute) achievement.

So yeah, Icecrown will probably be awesome. I know someone will find some hidden negativity that isn't really there in this post, so without further ado, bring on the hate.