Aug 16 2010

Dreaming Dragons


The guild has fallen into end-of-expansion malaise, and in general has stopped raiding. This is annoying as Real Life kept Belmann out of raids for some months. When I came back the cool kids had downed the Lich King and gone to play with alts. As a result Belmann has only seen about half of ICC.

So last night the main raid leader put up a “let’s do 10 man something”. Since we had 4 priests and mostly lower geared alts, we trotted off to ICC. We’re competent enough and work well enough together that we blew through the lower spire like a blowtorch through meringue. It took two attempts to knock over the gunship on Heroic, but given we were doing it with one healer and two folk disconnected we didn’t mind.

It was a bit sad to not see any priest loot, but the frost badges will be welcome as Belmann can now pick up his third TIer 10 piece.

We tore Saurfang a new hole, friskily obliterated the valkyrie trash and mini boss, and headed off to new content for me – the dreaming green dragon. And that’s when it got challenging.

It’s been a while since Belmann has been challenged, although some of the seriously challenged tanks in 5 man random PUGs have been… interesting. But the dragon did for me last night.

First attempt, breezily topping up the tank’s health while admiring the architecture, and one of the newly added mobs strolled past the tank and swatted me. Since I was the primary healer in the group outside, I lay on the floor watching the grid light up red then go black. Hmm.

Second attempt, around the 85% mark, and one of the abominations turns around and vomits on me. Up comes the red grid.

Third attempt, Painfullone got out his awesome warlock. This went better as his pet tanked the mobs off me several times. 95% and bam! Another mob eating my brain, wall of red.

Fourth try, rinse and repeat. At that point I gave up in despair.

It’s times like that I really don’t like healing. I know nobody in that cohort consciously points at the healer on a wipe, but there’s always a bit of that: we wiped because the tank died and then the mobs ate us. It doesn’t matter if the reason the tank died was because the healer is lying face down on the tiles while some horrible beast dances on my back with unholy glee.

That was the really frustrating thing. I know enough to not stand in the stupid, and was keeping the tank and most of the raid up and happy. But when some horrible beast is gnawing on my beard, there’s not much i can do.

I’m at a loss to know how I could have done it better last night. There didn’t seem to be a good place to stand, and it was a real pain to keep the slowing debuff off while still healing, and if the debuff was on when the mob jumped me I couldn’t get away in time. Maybe it was just the mixture we had, and we could have done with another tank, but at the end of the day I still felt responsible.

Aug 7 2010

Family Feud


I know that Blizzard have announced that the Loremaster achievement won’t be affected by Cataclysm, but it feels appropriate to do it with the Vanilla content. For that reason Belmann – the only character I pursue achievements on – has been trawling around Eastern Kingdoms for considerable time.

I was sick and off work for a few days, so took the opportunity to grind through to get the Eastern Kingdoms part finished. I must emphasize this was done by playing an hour, sleeping two, in spurts through the day.

Anyway, I finally had the thought ( prompted by EveryQuest) of picking up the starter quests in Elwynn Forest, a few I’d missed there, and finished off with some tucked away in Badlands.

The interesting part for me were the quests I had never noticed in Elwynn Forest that illustrate how, and how far, Blizzard’s thinking has changed. There are a few breadcrumbs quests that send you down from Goldshire or along the main road to Fargodeep mine. What is not apparent is that there is a fun set of quests associated with the two farms flanking and slightly south of the mine.

The thing is that there are no breadcrumbs to lead you to either farm, and because of their location most players won’t visit them. Blizzard obviously expected that players would explore each zone thoroughly and so stumble on quests like this. There are a lot of instances of this in the old world – and none in Northrend.

Part of this is their obvious desire to carry players through a more or less linear narrative now, rather than constructing their own less directed narrative. But surely part of it comes out of a far more sophisticated understanding of how to build the zone and contained quests.

And one thing I definitely don’t miss from the old world are the “epic” quests that saw you spending hours travelling from one side of the world to the other. I appreciate the designers intent with these – finishing an epicly long chain that involved epic travel through epic landscapes an epic number of epic times felt like an epic and heroic achievement… The first time. After that it just gets plain annoying. At least you can read a good book while you fly.