Friday, July 24, 2015

[Hearthstone] The Grand Tournament

Hearthstone announced a new expansion called The Grand Tournament. It looks like it would be fun and I've been playing a more Hearthstone lately. The fact that I can play on my Phone at lunch or when the kids are on the computer is a big help.

Blizzard has also announced a preorder bundle where you get 50 packs and an exclusive card back. You can buy the packs with gold and 50 packs would take 5000g to purchase. I have almost 1100g saved up, and I could probably save more in the 3 or 4 weeks before it goes live.

I'm still considering buying the preorder bundle with cold, hard cash and then spending the gold I've saved up on the existing card packs for Classic cards and cards from the Gnomes versus Goblins expansion. I've got 1500 dust for the first time thanks to pulling a second Alexstraza out of a free pack I got from my first victory of the week in Tavern Brawl. You can only have 1 copy of any Legendary card so I disenchanted her for dust.

I'm still missing many 'key' cards from the first two expansion. My only Legendaries outside of the Naxx and Blackrock Mountain Adventure ones are the aforementioned Alexstraza and The Beast. Alexstraza is considered to be a good card, but The Beast isn't. I'm still missing  many of the Epics (Cabal Shadow Priest for Priest, Force of Nature for Druid, Big Game Hunter, Piloted Sky Golem) and even some rares like Coldlight Oracle, Kezan Mystic, and Injured Blade master. I also could use a second Auchenai Soul Preist and Light of Naaru.

I've got my WoW subscription paid up for months thanks to the WoW Token which frees up some dollars I had budgeted for gaming.
I also like the artwork on the cardback you get with the preorder, but that is a minor consideration only.

Preorders go on sale next week. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, July 10, 2015

[WoW] Stepping Down

I got assigned to an extra project at work that requires me to put in about two hours during my normal 'off hours' in the evening. The good news is I'm being compensated for my time. So, woot, IRL loot. The bad news is that I now have two less hours of free time each night. I still would like to eat dinner with my family and spend a little time with them each night. My time reading bedtime stories and tucking my kids in each night is sacrosanct. It's my gaming time that I will be forced to cut back. I'll be on the project for a minimum of two weeks, but it could go as long as two months.

The new guild is still coming together from the merger of the raiders of Dirty Casuals and Athanatos. I haven't gotten to know many people from the Athanatos well. My position as one of the tanks certainly helps. It's a situation where I don't know nearly as many guild members as know me. If I take two months away from raiding, they will have to get a new tank and I will become old whatshisname.

Oh, I'll never forget old whathisname.
I don't remember. 

Things don't get any easier even after I come off the project. We raid on Wednesday night and Thursday night. Two months puts us into September. I've got Fantasy Football drafts to prep for and once the season starts, I'm going to be really torn between WoW and Thursday Night Football (college and pro - but mostly pro (#KeepPounding #GoPanthers)). We also finally found a house (yeah!) and it looks like we'll be moving again in mid-September which will provide another disruption to ability to raid.

I have no idea what the situation will be like when I return. For now, most of what I will see of Hellfire Citadel will be either on YouTube or as an LFR hero. I'm afraid you won't be seeing much on the blog about new raid boss kills or the like. Hearthstone fits in the limited windows I'm going to have a little better so I might post about that. Maybe you'll even see a Fantasy Football post or two. Honestly, right now, I just don't know.

Raiding has always been one of my favorite activities in World of Warcraft. I play a support role and that sort of demands group content to have other people to support.

I going to miss it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Lord Victus Nefarious (Normal)

Nefarian is the final boss of the Blackrock Spire wing, but I had much more trouble with Chromaggus than I did with Nefarian. You are aided in your battle with Nefarian by none other than Ragnaros who gives you an additional card each turn from his own deck. His cards are powerful and make more of a difference than whatever deck you might be running.

As I usually do for a first pull on a new boss, I went with my Bloodlust Shaman. Ironically, it is the very deck I used to defeat Ragnaros himself.

Earthshock x2
Forked Lightning x2
Vitality Totem
Whirling Zip-o-matic x2
Powermace x2
Feral Spirit
Hex x2
Lava Burst
Lightning Storm
Unbound Elemental
Dunemaul Shaman
Piloted Shreader x2
Windspeaker x2
Bloodlust x2
Silver Hand Knight x2
Fire Elemental x2
Lord of the Arena

Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Chromaggus (Normal)

Chromaggus is the last boss standing between you and Nefarian. They adapted his 'curse' mechanic for the game by having him put various 1 mana cards in your hand that either do damage to you or buff Chromaggus in some way like heal him, or make his minion or spells cost less as long as you hold them in your hand. You have to "play" them which burns your own mana. His deck consists of many Druid cards like Swipe, and Claw. One particularly troublesome minion he has is the Chromatic Dragonkin. This minon gets +2/+2 every time you cast a spell and those nasty debuff cards Chromaggus gives you count as spells. You need to take the Chromatic Dragonkin out with minions which means a board presence is key before you start playing any spells. Your other best option would be something like Frostbolt.

I went with a Mage deck. You get a Flamewaker for defeating Vaelestraz. I tried to make the fact that the debuff cards counted as spells work for me by making a deck with Mana Wyrms and Flamewakers. Sorcerer's apprentice makes the debuff cards cost 0 mana so you can get rid of them, activate your Flamewakers and buff your Mana Wryms. You can try to protect your minions from Swipe and his other spells with cards like Counterspell or Spellbender.

Chromaggus has two Faire dragons in his deck which he tries to play as soon as he draws them. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a Sorcerer to kill them but a Snowchugger would be a better option.

Here's the deck I used:

Mana Wyrm x2
Snowchugger x2
Sorcerer's Apprentice x2
Arcane Intellect x2
Duplicate x2
Mirror Entity x2
Spellbender (or another Counterspell)
Flamewaker x2 (should have gotten from Vael)
Fireball x2
Polymorph x2
Water Elemental x2
Blizzard x2
Sunwalker x2
Flamestrike x2
Pyroblast (any large minion would do as well - Boulderfist Ogre, Giant, etc)

If I hadn't killed him that turn, I would have pinged one of the Chromatics with Fireblast and killed him with Blizzard.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cracking Open Hellfire Citadel

I always love the opening nights of a new Raid. Balance issues are still being tweaked, you can't navigate the place blindfolded or say the boss emotes before they do.Trash is somewhat a mystery. Sure you can find Boss strategies from the PTR, but rarely do they cover trash. Even with the PTR videos, there is still a period of adjustment of adapting those strategies to the strengths and weaknesses of your own raid.

I was running a little late (again) but I managed to get into the zone before the first boss, Hellfire Assault. This boss encounter reminded me a bit of the old days of Mount Hyjal or what I thought SWTOR raids would look like. You don't fight one big guy, but instead are challenged by small, powerful groups of enemies. The biggest thing for the tanks was picking up the big Bezerkers before they smashed one of our poor healers. We had the gates breached in three attempts which was already much better than our opening night in either Highmaul or Blackrock Foundry.

Fel Reaver, sorry, Iron Reaver, landed shortly after we breached the gates. This was a fun fight. Troll and I swapped when we got marked for Artillery but outside of that it didn't feel like a very hard fight. It only tooks us two to three attempts to get him/her.

The first two bosses went down so easy that we debated turning it up to Heroic to see if we were already ready for that. We weren't. We didn't even get through 25% of the gates before one of the Fel AoE mobs wiped us out and we went back to Normal.

Kormok was the next up and from the looks of him, I was expecting another Tectus type of fight, but this was very different. We hadn't really studied up on him so we just went in with only a basic understanding of the fight. It didn't go well. We called it a night happy to have killed two bosses on our first night and everyone studied up on Kormok before we formed up Thursday.

Knowing the fight better was a big help. There is one part of the fight where Kormok will punt his tank way far away (what does he think I am, a Gnome!). We would land in one of the fel pools and die. My first death was atttributed to a Neural Silencer. I get them from Blingtron from time to time and use them, mostly because I don't want them taking up inventory space but also in case some enterprising player on a World Boss or PuG wants to have a little fun. I honestly forgot I had the bloody thing on, but when I got knocked into the fel sludge one of our priest tried to pull me out and she couldn't. I turned off the Silencer for our next pull. During the pull I noticed that there was one area of the room near the door that didn't have any sludge. I recommended to Troll that we point the boss that way when he slapped us. Sure enough, we landed but took no further damage. Kormok went down that pull.

I hadn't done much reading on Hellfire Citadel, trying my best to avoid spoilers, so it was with a mixture of surprise, excitement and nostalgia that I discovered part of the Iron Council was none other than my old BC pal Gurtogg Bloodboil. Gurtogg was one of my favorite fights in BC because it played to one of my Paladin's few strengths at the time, outrageous threat generation. Bosses in BC were immune to taunt, but you had to taunt swap Gurtogg because his swings reduced your armor. It meant the tanks had to carefully control their threat so they could switch him.

This version of Gurtogg harkens back to the original. He still does the armor reducing thing but he also has the rest of the council: Dia and Blademaster. It took a couple of attempts to work out the taunt swap. Initially, I was being too conservative with my stacks and calling for the switch too soon. Once, we increased the number of stacks I took, we got Gurtogg down no problem. But he's only one-third of the encounter. We wiped twice to the enrage time because we couldn't get Blademaster down fast enough.

The problem was I initially had Blademaster and Gurtogg and when we switched, Blademaster went with me. That took him away from the Cleave damage but also put him next to the Dia which reduced the damage he took even more. We got that sorted and two pulls later, we had defeated the Council.

We were pretty happy with four bosses on our first week in Hellfire.

Monday, June 29, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Vaelastrasz (Normal)

The next boss standing in your way is none other than the red dragon Vaelastrasz. I have to give props to the voice actor's on the entire Blackrock Mountain adventure. The characters are all well done and as an added bonus, I'm learning the correct pronunication of names like Drakkisath and Vaelastraz.

Every Boss encounter is heavily influenced by that boss's hero power and Vaelasstraz is no different. Her hero power causes each player to draw two cards making her fight similiar to playing someone on the ladder with a mill deck. I went with a low mana Hunter deck and focused on playing as many cards as I could each round.

Here's my deck list:

Arcane Shot x 2
Timber Wolf x 2
Webspinner x 2
Explosive Trap x 1
Snipe x 1
Dire Wolf Alpha x 1
Haunted Creeper x 2
Knife Juggler x 1
Scavenging Hyena x 1
Stonesplinter Trogg x 1
Animal Companion x 2
Deadly Shot x 1
Kill Command x 2
Unleash the Hounds x 2
Emperor Cobra x 1
Goblin Sapper x 1
Ironfur Grizzly x 2
Multishot x 2
Cobra Shot x 2
Explosive Shot

There's nothing there over 5 mana. I tried to get some hard removal for her Clockwork Giants. You want to play a pretty strong 'face' game because with Gang Up she will eventually overwhelm you with your own favorite minions. Unleash the Hounds is really nice for when she does Imp-losion. Goblin Sapper is almost guaranteed to be worth 6/4.

Friday, June 26, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Razorgore the Untamed (Normal)

We open up Blackwing Lair with Razorgore the Untamed. The Razorgore fight is all those eggs ('bout them eggs, no trouble). He summons 1 egg per turn. Its a zero attack minion with 1 life. Each turn it grows by 1 life. If it reaches 4 life, it hatches.You don't want those eggs to hatch because if they do, it spawns a 7/3 minion.  The trick is knowing when to attack the eggs and when to attack other minions and Razorgore himself.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Razorgore incorporates a mechanic that I saw over and over again as I progressed through the Blackrock Mountain adventure where the enemy has something akin toa  Zoo deck and overwhelms you with minions.

I wanted to get some board control so I would always have options for knocking down the eggs before they hatched. I decidd to go with a Hunter deck for this boss. I included Oasis Snapjaw  mostly to provide nice targets for the Houndmasters. A 2/7 isn't much to get excited about by a 4/9 with Taunt can be a nice minion to have on the board.

Mage would also have been a solid choice. You could use Jania's her hero power to knock down the eggs as they spawn.

Arcane Shot x 2
Timber Wolf x 2
Webspinner x 2
Explosive Trap
Bloodfen Raptor
Dire Wolf
Scavenging Hyena
Animal Companion
Deadly Shot
Kill Command x 2
Unleash the Hounds x 2
Emporer Cobra
Multishot x 2
Houndmaster x 2
Lost Tallstrider
Oasis Snapjaw x 2
Explosive Shot
Tundra Rhino x 2
Savannah Highmane
Core Hound

It was a little closer than it should have been as I struggled at first to gain board control but once I had it, it was pretty much over.