Thursday, December 27, 2007

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • On Christmas night, I joined one of the most horrifically bad groups I've ever played with to take on Ragefire Chasm, and we somehow still beat the dungeon. (I would put a "/sigh" here, but I'd feel like a complete tool doing it.)

  • I started a new character the other day, Nymeriah, a blood elf paladin, solely for the purpose of leveling a paladin again. I would have made a warrior if they were available to blood elves, but this is the closest to the sword swinging type I wanted to play.

  • I was happily chasing down quests in the Ghostlands when someone asked if I wanted to take a shot at RFC. In the spirit of charity, I figured "what the heck" and said I'd join. Soon enough I was grouped with two warlocks, a druid, and a hunter. "Uh oh," I thought. "Looks like I'm the healer here." As I said, I rolled a paladin to whack beasties with big swords so I've been investing in the Retribution talents. That's not the most conducive to healing, but since Ragefire is the newbiest of newbie instances, I figured things couldn't be so bad. How wrong I was.

  • I don't have anything bad to say about our druid. He certainly gave it a shot, trying to tank in his bear form. Sadly the rest of the group didn't cooperate much with that plan.

  • One of the warlocks in the group pulled aggro so often I spent more time healing him instead of the one trying to tank. The other warlock spent the whole time demanding I heal his pet, even though I had four actual characters to keep alive.

  • The worst was a low level hunter, that often ran ahead of the group to pull more bad guys before we were ready. And when she (the character was female, at least) did pull, she started with a full shot rotation without waiting for her pet to drag aggro first. She'd attack and then fall back through the group, dragging enemies with her. A couple of times I just let her die to see if she'd stop doing it. Never seemed to faze her.

  • A little way in, we had a full group wipe that saw the first warlock leave in frustration. I don't blame him, but it was still bad form. Luckily for us, he was replaced by another paladin, this one at level 21 who needed to complete a quest I didn't even know existed. Since he outleveled the party and the dungeon, it made the rest go smoother. At least, there were no more wipes which is all I could ask of this group.

  • My poor wife has to listen to me cursing at the computer for the hour I was in there. I did complete a few quests and I got a nice set of bracers so the night wasn't a total waste. But it sure was an eye opener seeing players perform so poorly.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • It has been an interesting time for me in World of Warcraft lately. And by interesting, I mean in both the good and bad ways.

  • I started raiding with Kryptonite, primarily a nice group of people who worked hard to learn the encounters in Karazhan. It has been nowhere near as smooth as my run with Represent as the level of gear is not always up to the challenge yet. But everyone was learning and coming back whenever things didn't go their way.

  • The problem I had with the guild is that those nice people were only about half the guild. There is an entire second group of folks who viewed the guild chat as a way to spew all of their spiteful, oft-times misogynist, humor, no matter who else was on. It came to a head Friday when the benefits of membership no longer outweighed the downside. I shouldn't have held my nose as long as I did, but standing on principles is not so easy a thing.

  • Luckily for me, I fell in with a new guild, Twisting Nether. Everyone is nice and helpful so far. Hopefully the guild keeps its current culture and does not add members just for the sake of padding out the roster.

  • So another Kara run is off in the distance now, but getting there should be more worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Read Lately: Bound By Iron by Edward Bolme

  • This is going to be short and sweet, mostly because I don't have a lot of nice to say about the book. I really don't want to bash the thing or the author who took the time to write it. That would just be rude. This post is just to serve as a warning.

  • Speaking of warnings, here you go: don't buy Bound By Iron by Edward Bolme. Plain enough?

  • The sad thing is that this book is just about tailored to my tastes. A mystery set in a fantasy setting, it's in the same vein and the novel that I wrote (that languishes on my hard drive, all alone) so I should be interested in it. The problem is that the book is so artlessly written as to drag me out of the story time and again. Anytime I think "I could have written this better" is a failure on the part of the story. But I trudged on through to the end because I couldn't fail to finish a book again.

  • I don't mean to beat up on the author. I'm sure he's a fine guy, though his "my kids are cuter than yours" bit in the About The Author blurb is another strike against him. But this was not a good book and it reminds my why I generally don't read game-related fiction. You probably shouldn't either; it only encourages them.

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • Yeah, there are at least four other posts I could be writing that have nothing to do with WoW, but this is what I feel like typing now. Two relatively exciting things have happened over the last two weeks in the game that I wanted to share with you, my loyal readers.
  • First, Kryptonite has started making regular forays into Karazhan with an (almost) all guild group. This of course means that they have room to drag along a wayward mage such as myself. I do have to trade nights with another mage in the guild, but he's a good guy and I can't spend all my time in there or I won't have any time to spare for my lovely wife. We dropped Attumen, Moroes, and the Maiden after several attempts each, so the going is slow (unlike my earlier run with Represent). But it's very cool to be learning the encounters with friends and progressing together.
  • Then last night, I finally completed all the group quests that lead up to the Ogri'la quest area. I wrote before about what a pain this quest series was. However, my good guild friend Magah was in the same predicament. We had joined up to finish the initial Netherwing quests (all I need is 5000 gold to continue that, heh) when we decided to check if the same group was interested in the Ogri'la quests as well. Turned out that we had five of us all needing to do these quests. What luck! We completed all five in relatively short order and now have access to a load of new quests to occupy my time.
  • This of course means I had to stay up way too late trying out all the new quests. And I have a raid tonight. So tired.....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • Remember in my last post where I mentioned the lows and the highs? Last night was definitely one of the highs. I have made a habit of sitting in the Looking For Group queue for Karazhan on the off chance that some group just happens to need a mage to fill out a group. Nothing ever comes of it. Often I forget that I'm even in the queue and just watch the LFG chat channel for anything else that I might be interested in. Last night was different.

  • I was wandering around Shattrath City, getting ready to do my daily quests, when I got a whisper from someone asking if I still wanted to go to Kara. Like I might have decided I had better things to do! I told him that of course I wanted to go. I put my inventory in order, made sure I had the right gear, and made my way to Deadwind Pass. Honestly, I figured that I would be joining some pick up group, we'd beat our heads on a boss, maybe two, and I'd call it a night. At least I'd finally realize my goal of seeing the inside of Karazhan.

  • My excitement was tempered, however, because of recent events. My current guild has been rebuilding after all the raiders took off, so I thought Kara had become a distant dream. I had been tentatively invited to fill in for a guild raid, but it never came off and I had spent Tuesday and Wednesday evenings quite disappointed that things never worked out. So I went into this with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  • Lo and behold, the group I was joining was primarily filled with members of the guild Represent, which is the number two Horde guild on my server according to WoWjutsu. I was panicked. These are people who take this game seriously enough to raid regularly and have advanced quite a way through the raid progression. What was I doing here? Would they see right through my never-raided-before facade? Would I embarrass myself in front of these seasoned players and be asked to leave?

  • Thankfully they welcomed me in with very little comment, essentially assuming that I knew what I was doing there. Though I had never been inside, I had recently printed and read over all the boss strategies from WoWwiki. I at least knew what to expect from the dungeon and what was expected of me.

  • Initially, I was surprised that the entrance hall of Karazhan was empty of baddies. I'm so used to the five-man instances dropping you in the laps of the enemy. Here the entrance became a staging area, and a much needed one considering the amount of spells and potions used to get ready. Once the group was buffed up, we made our way to the stables. The first boss is Attumen the Huntsman and his horse, Midnight. He's the check for any guild that comes to Kara to determine if they really belong here. The group quickly went about clearing the ghosts and moved on to attacking the spirit mount. There isn't much about the fight. The tanks have to control the bosses as they arrive, the healers keep the tanks alive, and everyone else kills the targets as fast as possible without drawing their attention from the tanks. So of course I pulled aggro on Midnight and got killed for my trouble. The nice thing about this boss is that you can run from the graveyard and be back in the fight before it's over. So I ran back and got back to the spell casting. With little more drama, Attumen went down and I had defeated my first raid boss. I excitedly announced my progress to my loving wife who was so nice to put up with my game playing.

  • From here we went on to the main hall and, after clearing a number of ghosts, took on Moroes, the tower's steward. Even smoother than last time, I followed the assigned targets and soon Moroes joined Attumen in the ranks of the defeated. It all seemed so surreal that I was doing this, yet it seemed so ordinary too. There wasn't anything different about raiding that I could see, it was just on a larger scale. But here I was and I was enjoying myself.

  • From Moroes we moved onto the Maiden of Virtue, another straightforward battle, and then the famous Opera event. This night the event was Romulo and Julianne. In this fight, you have to defeat each boss separately, and then together within ten seconds of one another. Again I was killed, this time by Julianne, but there was no way to run from the graveyard and get back into the fight. So I watched until I could be resurrected. Finally they were brought down and I won the roll for my first raid epic gear, the Trial-Fire Trousers.

  • Already four bosses in, I was ready for the group to decide to call it a night. But the guild kept pressing on and I fought to keep up. From the Opera, we moved on the Master's Terrace and its boss, Nightbane. Here we faced our first raid wipe. It took three tries to finish the boss. By the time we made that third attempt, I finally had a hang of what I was supposed to do and it went much easier.

  • Ever on, we continued. Next was The Curator, followed by Terestian Illhoof, Shade of Aran, and Netherspite. By this time I was well beyond remembering the boss strategies I had studied. I still vaguely knew what was going on, but had to keep an eye on what the others were doing and follow their lead.

  • Finally we came to the Chess event and the final boss, Prince Malchezaar. The prince took three tries to defeat as well, but eventually he was killed. And like that, I had cleared the entire Karazhan raid.

  • In retrospect, I knew that I was being carried by superiorly geared raiders. But when I asked for an evaluation of my performance, they told me that I had not stuck out as completely useless. That was the best compliment that I could hope for. It took over four hours, but it was a great time. And by clearing the instance on my first time, I had achieved far more than I ever dreamed.

  • The only problem with all this was that I had planned on cooking dinner last night, but got so sucked in that I had to make a Del Taco run after midnight. Thank goodness for 24 hour drive-thrus!