More than a year has passed.

I’ve been playing Warcraft for over 4 years now. A few months before the Lich King expansion came out I had stopped playing WoW. It was summer, I had gone through a period of playing PvP only, pretty much, Battlegrounds and arena’s were what I did in Burning Crusade. I didn’t think I would return to Warcraft at all. But then Lich King was about to be released, the hype swept me up, I reinstalled, updated and decided I could play just to see what the new expansion was like. Just like before Warcraft grabbed me by the throat and dragged me in. I leveled to 80 at a slow pace (wanted to see/do it all) joined a raiding guild and became a paladin tank.

Then, just before the release of 3.3 the urge to play just… left me. For the duration of the year in Lich King, I was pretty much furniture in my guild, always online, on my main tanking stuff for people (or for myself) working on achievements, improving my crafting, leveling alts (besides my paladin I leveled my trusty Dwarf Rogue to 80, geared him a bit on pick up raids and the like, and leveled a Shaman from scratch to 80, completely as Elemental – not recommended ;)

And then one day, I logged on, looked at Dalaran traffic flowing by, considered my options, dismissed them, logged out. I looked at my character list, those options, then quit Warcraft and turned off my computer. For reasons unknown to me, the desire to play has completely left me. I have worked very hard to be the best tank I could be, always researching, tuning, tweaking, trying to improve in every way possible, so I could (for the first time in those 4 years) finally be a part of it when the last boss of an expansion went down, as a tank no less, how exciting.

Perhaps I overdid it and burned out, but I didn’t get sick of Warcraft, I just don’t feel like playing. I’ll return one day I’m sure but (to quote Aragorn) it is not this day.


Old school Onyxia

John: “Alex, do you want to do a little recap of last weeks adventures?”
Alex the GM: “Sure. Last week our heroes made their way from Ashenvale down through the steppes of the Barrens (Mike you had that little incident in the Crossroads...)”
Mike: “Well, the less said about that the better.”
Others laugh and smile.
Alex the GM: “The party made their way into the swamps southeast of the Barrens, heading for the rumored lair of the Broodmother. Last time we left it when you guys had made camp at an abandoned Ogre cave.”
John: “Oh yeah, it really was abandoned then?”
Alex the GM: “Yes, I assume you want to pack up and get going?”
John: (looks at other players) “Shall we?”
The others agree.
Alex the GM: “The party sets out and finds what looks like a dragon’s face jutting out of the rock, it’s teeth forming a fence-like door.”
Dave (the Dwarf): “I bet that’s the door the amulet opens!”
John: “Let’s go! We head for the cave/door.”
Alex the GM: “You encounter no resistance as you walk up, but the teeth don’t move.”
Dave: “I want to try touching them with the amulet.”
Alex the GM: “When you hold the amulet to the teeth, there’s a rumble below and the teeth withdraw into the ground, ahead is a dark cave that seems unnaturally warm.”
Frank: “I need to take a pee break guys, I’ll be right back.” (Frank exits)
Others sigh.
*A few minutes later.*
Frank: “Hey guys I’m back what did I miss?”
Alex the GM: “When you snap out of your meditation, you find the party had already moved into the cave, as you follow, drakonid corpses litter the floor, the cave walls look carved out by fire, generally smooth with the nasty serrated, sharp edges left for decoration.”
Frank: “I hurry to catch up with the others.”
Alex the GM: “You find the party waiting for you on the edge of a giant hollow chamber, it’s extremely hot in there, you can see a giant black female dragon asleep at the back of the room. Off to the sides you see huge quantities of spikey dragon eggs.”
John: “It’s been a long journey, but now the time has come to draw swords. Let us also take a moment to remember William, our proud hunter, who was lost to us when we fought the horde guarding the barrens entrance.”
Dave: “good euphemism for his girlfriend’s a bitch, haha.”
Alex the GM: “The dragon is awakened by your stirring, roll for initiative.”
*A few minutes later.*
John: “Can’t believe we did that!” Awesome!”
Alex the GM: “As you gut the dragon, inside you find pieces a helmet, hardened by the dragon’s stomach, it’s a mail helmet that looks like it would suit a hunter.”
Dave: “Aaah, what? We got out only hunter killed.”
John: “Oh my god, this entire journey and there’s no sword what?”
Frank: “I need to sue the loo again guys, I’ll be right back.”
Others sigh.


What (will) we raid.

Currently my guild raids on 3 evenings. Wednesday we raid Onyxia 25 followed by TotC 25. Thursdays we run several groups for TotC 10. Sundays we run TotC 10 Heroic. TotC 10 Heroic is our progression night. We’ve taken our 25man group into TotC 25 Heroic but that was… painful. In addition if we have lots of time we sometimes take a 25 group to Ulduar to get some time in on Yogg 25, whom we still haven’t killed.

There are also unofficial raid nights, we are running one hard mode group that is doing the hard modes in Ulduar 10. That group is now at the point where more than a few members have completed the meta and we are ready to carry some other guildies to Rusted Proto-Drakes.

Soon we’ll be in Icecrown Citadel. I expect we’ll start off the raiding week with 10man ICC as a good basis for learning the encounters (and likely a less steep learning curve.) If/when we clear the 10 mans, we’ll move onto the 25 and see how we do there. What is now the Ulduar hard mode group will probably move on to try and clear ToC 10 Heroic and try to get some achievements there for doing it with as little wipes as possible.

What concerns me are the Icecrown hard modes. From what I understood the hard modes will work like those in Ulduar, at each boss you either kill it in normal or hard mode. It means that our guilds hard mode group will get locked to ICC 10man and not get to do certain hard modes. If we raid just with the hard mode group we diminish the guilds chances of clearing Icecrown. However if we raid with the guild, we diminish our chances of doing the hard modes… decisions, decisions.


More Drakes and Icecrown

As you know recently a group from my guild (that includes yours truly) managed to plow through the Ulduar 10 hardmode meta achievement and obtained the Rusted Proto-Drake. When we managed to down Yogg with only one keeper the first of us completed the meta and got our drakes. A few members of that raid however, did not get their drakes. Due to attendance they had missed some hardmodes here or there. Last night we set out to complete a few more Glories of the Ulduar Raider.

Of course, there was someone who missed our Flame Leviathan +4 and we started out in the deep end. There’s a lot of random in that fight so it took us 4-5 attempts to get it down, but down it we did. In the end the kill was pretty clean. We moved on to Heartbreaker, which we cleared in one attempt. It also dropped an Aesir’s Edge for our warrior tank’s offspec! Next was Kologarn’s Disarmed achievement, again a single attempt was needed to clear it. We pressed on. Auriaya, Crazy Cat Lady… At this point I was looking at my wife’s screen a bit too much. She respecced her Shamans offspec from Resto to Elemental as her guild needs more ranged DPS. I was looking over her shoulder at the big Lava Burst numbers (which I’ve been enjoying a lot recently on my own Elemental Shaman alt) when my team pulled Auriaya and I got everyone killed by not properly tanking the guardians… oops! We got her the second try though, Auriaya herself down to 50% when the first Feral Defender spawned

We backtracked a bit and downed Assembly of Iron, Steelbreaker last in one go (a fight we usually struggle with) with some hilarity at the end as our warrior tank used the buff to blow up our shaman healer after the fight had finished. Freya was next – not an easy fight by any stretch of the imagination and again we cleared it without a hitch. We lost our warrior tank and with no battle res ready we finished it with 9. We had some time to spare so we headed for Thorim and downed him on hardmode in one shot as well. In all thre people got their drakes, What A Night!

When Icecrown citadel is released I imagine our little hard mode group will start running Trial of the Grand Crusader 10mans for the achievements. The guild will be running the 10man Icecrown citadel as an official raid, and the hardmodes are activated on a per-boss basis (as in Ulduar.) Unfortunately that means we won’t be able to have a separate save for our group as we include some of our best dps, some of our main tanks, a raid leader and a couple top healers. Maybe after we’re comfortably clearing the 25man we’ll have the opportunity to try for some hadmodes there but it’s not likely we’ll be able to run the group in the same way.


Is this Blog where I post a picture of my Rusted Proto-Drake?

Yes it is! Our 10man Hard mode group finished Yogg Saron +1 just now and that means this:Also... We killed Algalon! It was a very... very good night.


Full Circle

Rewind three and a half years. After what seemed like months my Tauren Hunter (yes!) had finally hit 60. As this was the first time I had hit the maximum level in an MMO (not counting hitting 100 in PSO) I was sort of bewildered as to what to do next. Someone said “Gear up for raids!” I didn’t even know that there was a whole end-game prepared, waiting for groups of 40 eager gamers to throw themselves at. So out I went and geared up (I must’ve ran Stratholme 50 times for those double Bone-Slicing hatchets) and we started raiding. I lost interest in WoW for the first time after we finally killed the big dog just before the end of Blackwing Lair, Chromaggus.

All I remember from that fight was the slice of line of sight that I was allowed to stand in and run out of to shoot my tranq shot and a short bit of damage rotation. Hunters had their own (voice- and text) channel to coordinate the tranqs and damage. Looking back at it now, it required perfection. Healers needed to be perfect, in the right place, dps needed to be on the ball, in the right place, delivering their maximum. Look up the abilities for Chromaggus if you want a good laugh.

Fast forward to last night. We killed the Beasts encounter in ToGC on 10man, the heroic mode. Tank switches during Gormok have to be done right, there’s some give, but getting a third stack of the debuff strains the healers. Healers need to be right on it, they have to have the tank healed up, if they get hit by fire and have to move even briefly it can mean tank death and thus a wipe. If they get hit by a Snobold it’s dangerous and dps, who have to deliver their maximums anyway to get the boss down quick already, have to get in there and nuke down the Snobold. Then the worms, they have to be picked up very quick, positioned and moved right and the debuff dispel has to go right in both directions.

What hit me is that it requires almost perfection in the same way. It’s tuned very tightly and requires everyone to perform as good as they can give. Maximum threat, maximum DPS, maximum healing, whilst moving, watching debuffs and not standing in the fire or poison. It really has no right to be this much fun!


Ard’s UI

I’ve long wanted to post something about my UI and last night I grabbed a screenshot so I can finally do so. I’ll get a few basics out of the way first. Recount and Omen, sitting just above the chat on the left and, on the far right, Pally Power, made quite small (a great, almost essential, Paladin addon that I wish would either hide in combat or allow casting in combat.) I use Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text and SexyMap. The tooltip I moved with MoveAnything.

I use AG_uf unitframes, displaying minimal information for myself and a bit more for my target and the target of target. I use Bartender to allow me to place my main action bars where I want them and how I want them. There’s one action bar on the far right, above Pally Power that’s almost entirely see-through so you can’t see it very well.

Next is NeedToKnow. Just above the action bars and to the right of my unit frame you can see three little bars displaying Holy Shield, Increased block (libram proc) and Divine Plea, also the bigger bar tracking Avenging wrath further right. NeedToKnow allows you to specify a buff or debuff that you want to track and displays a little countdown bar for it. You’ll notice all my cooldowns on the right, each one has a bar of it own that appears when I use it.

My buffs and debuffs are organized with Satrina buff Frames. It has lots and lots of options and took me a while to setup but I ended going for something quite simple. The top row of buffs are my own and all auras and totems. The second row are buffs cast on me by others. The third row are debuffs.

Lastly, Grid displays my raid info, who has agro, who has debuffs and the health and mana of each unit.

My UI is something that changes quite a lot, as I thnk of other things I want displayed or hidden and I tend to rearrange things a lot : )