Monday, September 29, 2014

Ragnoros Revisited

We had intended to head back into the Heroics, but first our Warlock wanted to make his Firelands run. He has been running with a group through Firelands working on the Dragonwrath legendary. This would be the last run he needed to finish that up. I hadn't run with the group before but I was happy to tag along. I went Prot even though it probably wasn't completely necessary.

Firelands brought back some mixed memories for me. It was a fun place, but it was also a place where my old guild called it quits.

I was again reminded that I had switched to the Hunter for Cataclysm and the Avengers of Hyjal rep started coming in. I went from Neutral to Friendly pretty quickly. We were able to ignore the vast majority of the mechanics and blasted through the bosses in short order. My guild has stopped on Baleroc so this was the first time I had seen past him. When the fire bridge appeared after his death, I was immediately reminded of the bridge in SSC that leads to Vashj. Majordomo fell and one of the druids who had been running with the group for a while finally got her Firecat form staff so everyone was understandably excited for her.

We moved on and faced down the big guy himself, Ragnoros.

I went in and blasted away. My tank set is better than my Ret set but it’s still pretty weak at iLevel 502 and I had tremendous trouble keeping threat off the Rogue and Warlock in the group.

The encounter was going along fine. Ragnoros dropped his hammer and a moment later we were all dead. That was unexpected. Apparently, there as these adds called Scions that have to die or even a group of 90s will wipe.

So there was at least one mechanic we did indeed have to deal with.

The second time around I got to see him stand up which was pretty cool. We defeated him but the Warlock didn’t see his drop or whatever he needed for the staff. The rest of us hearthed out and I headed to the farm to keep working on "To Be a Master".

Then over vent the Warlock announces that he found the drop or whatever he needed and was headed to Stormwind. I flew back to the Shrine and portaled to the Stormwind in time to see the aftermath. It was pretty cool.

I had read on WoWInsider that the Thundering Hatchling pet was going away so while in Stormwind I picked it up. While I was on the vendor, I saw a mount called the Thundering Jade Cloud Serpent. I've never been a huge fan of Cloud Serpents, and it was pretty expensive, but the mount collecting bug was in the air and I wasn't sure if it was going away too. I purchased it.

Mount #49, yay!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Mount Farming We Will Go

Mount farming has become a big activity in the pre-expansion lull. One of my new guild mates was working on Glory of Cataclysm Hero for the Volcanic Drake. Between my various toons, I had about 11 more to go on that Meta. I wanted to help out (and start to get to know the guild a bit) so I threw my hat in the ring. I’m actually way behind on the mount farming thing as I only have 48. Well, this can give me one more I guess.

Even though it was old content, we still went with a trinity group and they asked me to tank. As much as I feared my tanking skills were diminished, it did feel good to strap on the shield (transmoged to my favorite Aldori Legacy Defender) again.

We started in Stonecore with Rotten to the Core. I was nervous, but more so from a social standpoint. I was pretty sure nothing in there was threatening. The only achieve in there was the last boss, but we didn't read it carefully enough and killed the Disciples before we engaged the boss. Oops.

Our next target was Lost City of Tolvir. We were able to knock out Acrocalypse Now and Kill It with Fire. We made an attempt at Headed South, and read the strategy on Wowhead. Unfortunately, the strategies were written at a time when everyone pretty much intrinsically understood the normal encounter. We had all done it on various toons but the details were little fuzzy after all this time. We kept looking for a debuff on the boss rather than a buff on us. The buff expired too soon and we didn’t get the achievement.

While we were in Uldum, we decided to head up to Throne of Four Winds. This was one that my old guild had not completed when it was current content. We got through Conclave but never could get Al’Akir after coming oh so close a couple of times. Now, of course, as level 90s, neither Conclave nor Al’Akir proved to be a problem. This was the last boss I needed to defeat for the “Defender of a Shattered World” title. Yay for new titles.

We were running short on time so we opted to skip the Halls of Origination and instead went to Throne of Tides. It was here that I realized I had changed to my Hunter for my main in Cataclysm and didn’t have the portal to Vash’ir. By the time I got to Honors, the Firelands was out and you needed Hyjal rep so it made sense to level him there. Luckily the Warlock in the group was able to summon us. At some point, I'll probably need to open that portal. We knocked out Old Faithful and Prince of Tides. Both required leaving mobs alive so we had to be careful with AoE.

We were going to stop there but we pressed on for one more run and went to Shadowfang Keep. I will always have fond memories of Shadowfang from the times I ran it for my Level 20 Paladin quest that awarded Verigan’s Fist. In Shadowfang, we knock out Pardon Denied, To the Ground and Bullet Time. Now I need only 7 more achievements for the Meta: Arrested Development, Ascendant Descending, Headed South, Faster than the Speed of Light, Crushing Bones and Cracking Skulls, I Hate that Song and Umbrage for Umbriss. I realize I could probably knock those out solo, but it’s more fun with a group and I like getting to play with my new guild mates for a bit. I also think we are going to try for some of the Glory of the Pandaria Hero achievements once we finish off Cataclysm.

Afer checking my achievements, I realized I’m just a LBRS run away from Classic Dungeonmaster. How did I get through Vanilla without a LBRS run?

Anyway, I only lack Share the Love for Glory of the Hero. That’s going to be rough because it’s probably the only achievement you can’t solo. “Defeat Gal'darah in Gundrak on Heroic Difficulty and have 5 unique party members get impaled throughout the fight.” That sort of requires 5 unique party members.

I wonder what other mounts I can go grab?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Battle on the High Seas

(This was supposed to go out on Friday, but I was having some Internet issues.)

Avast, me hardys!

In me landlubbin' days, I started me a farm in da Valley O the Four Blowing Winds. But I've had more work than I could bloody do. I needed me a scurvy lad to come help. Unfortunate as a no good swashbuckler, I wasn't best friends with any of the fine people o the valley.

I set course to make one of them me bestest friend. I didn a care really which one. There be work to be done and I needed a someone ta do it, but what I needed was a bit of leverage.

I started all sorts of looting, and pillagin' in the Hozen area. Whilst I be doing my best to be the scourge on da Hozen, a call went up for help from me mateys in the guild.

She was a fine lass who worked powers of magic untold. We was joined by a powerful warrior.

As would befit me piratical past, we ventured out onto the high seas.We repelled tha Horde boarding party, We swung over to da Horde ship to pillage some explosives.

But there be a Lieutenant Boltblaster there and he bested me and threw me overboard.

I had some tougher armor in me bag and my old sword and board. I strapped that on and rejoined the fray.

By now my compatriots had found Admiral Hagman. We gave him a chance to parlay but he refused. The Admiral would go down with this ship. Suit yerself I thought. As we fought there be cannonballs droppin all over the ship. The lady mage fell overboard first, but the warrior wasn't too far behind.

Now, it was just me and the Admiral. He smiled a crooked smile sensin da victory, but I was a tough nut. I used every dirty trick I knew. My Light's Hammer, Seal o Insight, Word of Glory all nice and Bastioned up. I called upon da Light for Divine Protection and for the Guardian of Ancient Kings.

I would be pushed to da very edge, but in the end I prevailed to the cheers of me crew. We said our goodbyes and paid me a visit to Taijing the Cyclone to get me a fine mug of grog. He told me he had a huge cache of gold Doubloons for any adventurer who could impress him with a tale. And impress him I did indeed. Not only did the chest have the promised gold, but a nice belt of the sturdiest armor.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Timeless Exploration and Legendary Frustration

Once I had my sea legs under me, I ventured out to the Timeless Isle. It was an interesting place. I found a couple of chests and upgraded my Ret set a bit. When I left Honors he was still main spec Prot and off spec Ret. While his Prot set was a respectable (for the time) 502, his Ret set was about 480. Oddly enough, despite the layoff, with Timeless gear being 496 there still isn’t much in the way of upgrade his (my? Why am I talking about Honors in 3rd person?) Prot set.

With a little practice and some upgrades I managed to get some of the quests done. I can handle the elite tigers and snakes okay. Most of the time I can handle the panda ghosts in the village alright too. My favorite quest was the one that gave you the waterlogged journal where you read about the adventures of a party that landed on the Timeless Isle. It was a good introduction to the place and I love lore bits like that. I read all 22 pages.

I was curious to see if I would miss the action combat from Wildstar. I really didn’t. Even though there aren't telegraphs on the ground, the mobs on the Timeless Isle do some very telegraph like things. The white tiger elites put a dust cloud down that you need to move (dodge) out of. I did miss the Sprint mechanic at first, but specing into Speed of Light helped a bit.

I did a couple of quests and it didn’t take long to feel comfortable again. I joined up with a group and started killing elites. I followed them around the island and then up over a bridge. We engaged another Elite called Cinderfall. He reminded me why I pined at one point for a ranged character. I died twice to his PBAoE (point blank AoE). After that I hung back and hit him with Judgement and Exorcism. Eventually, the group killed him and then headed on.

Next, everyone jumped over this big chasm. I thought it must be like the mechanic WoW used in Conclave of Winds. I was already on Dodge, my trusty Charger, so I jumped...

...and fell

...and fell

...and fell.

Lucky for me, the bubble wasn’t on cool down so I managed to land and not kill myself (and kick myself once again for not taking Falling Avenger). Apparently, there’s a special cloak you need to make that jump.

When I left WoW all the Legendary quest line gave you was a gem to put into a special weapon. I checked where I was on the progress of the Legendary quest. I had two to do: “A Change of Command” and “The Lion Roars”. Suddenly, like waking up from amnesia, it all came back. One of the reasons I stopped playing was the PVP quest needed for the next stage of the Legendary.

I figured, what they hey and queued for Silvershard mines...

...and lost
...and lost
...and lost.

I settled into a little pattern. Farm a bit, Timeless Isle a bit, queue for battlegrounds, lose battlegrounds. I can only take so much PVP. I don’t enjoy it and I’ve never been great at it.

I guess I could try to cheese the achievement with a Wargames group, but I’m starting over socially and I don’t have the social resources to get that done. Plus, it feels a little cheesy. I suppose I could try to buy my way into a group of elite PVPers, but I don’t know if that would work.

I know I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t already been said 1010 times, but I think it was a poor decision choice to put the PVP part in the chain. If they had to have a PVP part, maybe it would have been better to make it participation. Something like 10 matches and a win counts twice. At least that way you could still grind your way through it (much like how you had to grind your way through the Seals that dropped in Mogu’shan Vaults). While I’d like to complete the chain and see the rest of Wratharion’s story, it doesn’t look like that will happen.

It’s my own fault. I took a year off from WoW, I’m sure if I had stayed, I would have the silly thing by now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to WoW

This past weekend was back to football. In gaming, I'm back to WoW. I cancelled my account almost a year ago. I’ve bounced from SWTOR to Wildstar but nothing has really stuck with me like WoW did.

There’s a familiarity I feel with WoW that no other game has been able to match. Every time I would play with my buddies in SWTOR or Wildstar, I would remark on how something reminded me of a mechanic in WoW. It got to the point that we would do a boss fight and one of them would ask, 'so which Boss from WoW did that remind you of'? While I learned what a dagun or a rowsdower was, they didn’t stick with me the same way that murlocs or Naga did. Maybe it was because I was already familiar with them from the Warcraft RTS, I don’t know.

WoW is about to celebrate its 10 th anniversary. The only anniversary I’ve missed in WoW was the 9th. 10th being such a milestone I really want to be there for it. They are also releasing of a Level 90 version of Molten Core and I think it would be great to see that place again at max level, even though I’m sure it won’t be the same the same.

I’m also excited for Warlords. It will be cool to see Draenor before it blew up. The time travel / alternate universe stuff doesn’t both me. It’s a staple of geek stories (comics/sci-fi/fantasy). Garrisions aren't going to compare to housing to Wildstar, but I think they represent some pretty cool gameplay, even if I don't fully understand them yet.

With my subscriptions reactivated I logged in for the first time in nearly a year. But I faced a question, which toon? I had three 90s I could play with: my Paladin, my Hunter and my Shaman. The Hunter and Shaman are both on Tanaris, while the Paladin is on Azuremyst. I would love to get them all together at some point but it’s not a huge deal right now. I also have a level 90 boost.

I'd really like to start playing the toon I'll take to Draenor and start to get established in a guild. I know my old WoW buddies are done with WoW, so socially, I'll be starting over a bit.

I decided not to go with the Hunter. I enjoyed playing him, and while I liked the pets aspect, I find that I prefer support roles to pure DPS. Plus, with gear being adaptive in Warlords, one of the major headaches of playing a hybrid (multiple gear sets) is somewhat mitigated.

That left my Shaman or my Paladin. I know everything is about to change in a couple of weeks with Patch 6.0 so I wasn't focused on mechanics or relative power. It's an MMO. You are always one patch away from FotM or useless.

The decision came down to whether I wanted the option to tank or the option to be ranged DPS. Shamans and Paladins can both heal and both be melee dps. On the surface, this should have been an easy call, I mean it's me, right? But two things weighed on my mind: time and Tortos.

Guilds rely on their tanks to be bedrock members. It's not a casual role. I'm always going to be behind the curve with gear and that's not something a main tank can do. Even more than that, I may simply not have the reflexes anymore to be a tank. Nothing showed that to me more than Tortos. Tortos was the turtle boss in Throne of Thunder, and marked one of my biggest failures in game back before I called it quits. He periodically summons bats. I couldn't seem to ever pick them all up and get them under control. I eventually had to bow out for another tank.

But I wasn't ready to close the door completely.  I love the theme of the Paladin class. I love the animations, the spell names and the lore. The Paladin gives me the option to try tanking again down the road. If it's a total disaster, a respec to Holy is just a portal away.

I logged into Honorshammer.

I’m not sure what was more surprising: what had changed or what hadn't. I read up on’s guides for boosted 90s to see how to play and spent some time on the training dummy. The rotations came back pretty quick as they really hadn't changed much.

I had lost all my addons and settings. When I left WoW the last time, I thought it was for good so I blew away everything except my screenshots.  I was able to get most of the addons back but any customization I had done was gone. I managed to cobble a UI together, but it's going to take a while to get it right again.

I had gotten a new mount from Heartstone called the Heartsteed. I learned it, but then I couldn’t remember how to access my pets/mounts to actually use it . I ended up having to Google where the mount button was (Shift + P).

I had heard about the Timeless Isle but I wasn't ready to go try that yet, so instead of flew over to Halfhill and worked my farm. The varmints gave me a nice reintroduction to combat without any real danger.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

[Hearthstone] How to Beat Noth the Plaguebringer on a Budget

This is how I beat Noth the Plaguebringer with only 2 rares and the 1 Legendary you get from clearing the first wing. I tried this deck a second time to make sure it wasn't a fluke and won handily. This deck also took out the next boss, Heigan the Unclean. For Loetheb, it didn't work, but my Paladin deck did the trick.

My grand plan with Hearthstone was to save up and open the Naxxramas wings. After playing a little while in Casual and getting Rank 20 in ranked played, I managed to save up the 700g I needed to buy the Plague Quarter, next wing of Naxxramas.

The first boss in the Plague Quarter was Noth the Plaguebringer. This guy was tough. It was a little disappointing to spend all that in game gold and then basically face a road block on the first boss, but I perservered.

Noth has a super annoying Boss power that is a passive power called Raise Dead. Whenever one of your minions dies, Noth gets a 1/1 Skeleton minion. In addition to his skeletons, Noth has Plauge which is a board clear that leaves his skeletons up. He also has two Secrets. Counterspell is the same as Jania (Mage), but his other Secret is Duplicate. Whenever you kill one of his minions, he gets to put two of them in his hand. He doesn’t have many hard hitting minions, but some of them have some nasty powers. Flesh Eating Ghoul gets +1 attack every time one of his minions dies, and the Undertaker gets +1 to health and attack every time he plays a card with a Deathrattle and it feels like ALL of his cards have Deathrattle. Finally, once you bring him down the first time, he actually Ice Blocks and you have to kill him again.

I tried him with my Paladin deck thinking my 1/1 foot soldiers would counter the 1/1 Skeletons. Big mistake. All I did was bolstering his army. Next I tried my Hunter, but again I had no success. Thrall (Shaman) did better with Lightning Storm, but Noth still prevailed. Anduin (Priest) had a nice deck, but again I couldn’t overcome Noth.

It was clear to me I was going to need a custom deck, specifically made for this fight. I still don’t have a ton of cards. Everything I have either came from leveling up or from the few packs I’ve purchased with ingame gold.

I knew I needed a deck that was spell based and relied on a few beefy minions. I wanted to keep my minions alive if at all possible and deny Noth his skeleton army. But I also couldn't get too many of them on the boad. As soon as you get more than 2 or 3 minions on the board, Noth will Plague then which swings momentum over to his side. I also went for cards with a damage battlecry.

I decided to go with Anduin. Here’s the deck and why I picked the cards. Here’s a link to the deck.

Mind Vision – I was hoping for Duplicate, Plague, Black Knight or one of the more powerful skeleton minions. On the match where I finally won, this gave me Plague and not ALL of Noth’s minions are skeletons.

Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Blast x 2, and Holy Smite x2 – Damage him or his minions without killing my minions.

Shadow Word: Death – This is how I dealt with Flesh Eating Ghouls and the Undertaker. I would let them get buffed to 5 attack and then kill them.

Northshire Cleric x2 – With Duplicate, Noth has a pretty steep card advantage, I wanted to try to even that a bit. 

Divine Spirit – This would allow me to beef up my minions.

Holy Nova – Really important as both a heal and a board clear if I got behind and he did get his skeletons going. This was actually the kill shot in the first game I won.

Power Word: Shield – Again, this makes my minions harder to kill and as a bonus, gives me a card.

Shattered Sun Cleric x2 – All about beefing up my minions.

Mind Control – My deck was light on minions and this would be key to getting his. I also could grab a Plague immune skeleton minion.

Mad Bomber – He deals three damage randomly when played and I was hoping to hit some skeletons with it.

Alarm O Bot (Rare) – I think this was the only Rare card I used. I was hoping to get one of my big minions out cheap with him.

Emporer Cobra (2nd Rare) – Cobra can kill much more powerful minions.

Ironforge Rifleman, Stormpike Commando – I liked his damage battlecry because I could take out a skeleton with it.

Scarlet Crusader – Her divine shield helped keep her alive. I used her against Noth so it wouldn’t break the shield.

Chillwind Yeti – A nice beefy minion.

Senjin Shieldmasta – My only taunter and usually quickly killed by Noth’s Black Knight. I would recommend not using him and replace it with a Stormwind Knight.

Oasis Snapjaw – 7 health is beefy.

Gurubashi Bezerker – nice health and with all the skeletons I was hoping to really get his attack high.

Boulderfist Ogre – Another beefy minion.

Maexxna – the only Legedendary in the deck and if you can fight Noth, you already beat Maexxna and are guaranteed to have her. She’s just a bigger version of Cobra.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I’ve been playing some Hearthstone.

I played it back in beta and I decided to give it another shot. It fits pretty well into a casual playtime. I usually don’t like PvP game, but when I’m playing Hearthstone it doesn’t feel like PvP in MMOs. I don’t like losing but it never feels punishing. Maybe it’s the fact that you don’t interact much with your opponent. Emotes are fairly limited and outside of a “Well played” I don’t see much interaction.

The first surprise was that my progress from Beta had NOT been wiped. All the cards I had gotten were still available and I had credit already for beating all the Heroes in Basic mode.

I tend to play 8 decks, one for each class except for Warlock. My uneasiness with that class seems to span games. Of course, they feel really powerful in Hearthstone. Anytime I see Gul’dan I pretty much expect to lose. (psst Nerf Warlock!*)

I’ve had some great matches and some awesome come from behind victories. One match I was playing my Malfurion (Druid) deck and my initial draw was Power of the Wild (Give your minions +1/+1; or Summon a 3/2 Panther) for 2 Mana. Innervate (Gain 2 Mana Crystals this turn only) for 0 mana, a Bolderfist Ogre (6 attack/7 health minion) for 6 mana and a Stormwind Champion (6 attack/6 health minion) for 7 mana. I hate starting with two really expensive cards in my hand so I threw back Stormwind Champion. What I got in return was another Innervate. I was playing against Garrosh. He went first and threw out a Boar (1 heath, 1 attack with charge). He hit me for one damage. I had to the coin so on my first turn I used it. This gave me 2 mana instead of 1 so I threw the Power of the Wild and summoned the panther. His turn he used his Hero power and gained two armor. On my turn, I used both innervates and summoned the Bolderfist Ogre. By the time he could kill it, I had an insurmountable lead.

I do better with “control” heroes like Anduin (Priest) and Uther (Paladin). I also really like Thrall (Shaman) but I wish he had some self-healing spells or powers. Rexxar (Hunter) can be fun, too.

I had a really long match against Jania (Mage) with Anduin.
This was probably a cruel way to end it, but a win is a win.

I had a goal of hitting rank 20 before the end of the season so I could get the Naxxraamus card back. I made it to 20 without too much trouble. I did notice something odd. About a quarter of the time, my opponent would surrender (automatically lose) as soon as the match started. I have no idea what they were hoping to accomplish, other than to dive back down the ranks. But I saw this even at Rank 20, which made no sense. You can only go as low as Rank 20. From Rank 25 to 20, you don't lose stars (and therefore can't go down in rank).

Every third match or so, I’d run up against someone who simply had a much better deck than I did. I have yet to spend any *real* money Heathstone so all the cards I have I got with in-game gold. I made it as high as Rank 18 but I ran into people with superior decks more and more frequently.

I’m saving up the in-game gold to open up the next wing of Naxxraammus. The first one is (or was) free for a while. This means I won’t be getting cards from the decks, but you still get some cards for beating each boss. So far I’ve beaten Anu’barak, Grand Widow, and Maexxma. Heathstone is a fun game and I enjoy it, but it’s going to be a slow process building a deck where I can compete at higher levels.

*There was something akin to a meme back in Vanilla after one patch where Warlocks got particularly buffed. Everyone on the Official Forums would end their post "and nerf warlock" regardess of what their post had actually been about.