Saturday, June 28

Warrior Sweetness from WWI

Could it be true? Warriors are getting some Blizzard love??? YES!

As I write this I'm listening to Wow Insider's live broadcast from the World of Warcraft Invitational in Paris on WoW Radio. Yeah, Diablo 3 is coming. Yup, Death Knight looks like a major heaping pile of kickass. Blah Blah Blah...

How about a taste of my Dual Wielding Big Ass 2-hander in each paw Titan's Grip of fury!!!! Or maybe a little taste of some whirling Bladestorm o' Death action, eh? You want it? C'mon and getcha some!

Fury warriors are gonna be peeing themselves over this one. And now I scoff at all who mocked me for sticking the the old fashioned dual wield spec. Bwahahahaha!

Seriously, though... The idea, and we can keep our fingers crossed, is that Fury becomes the bezerker rip your arms and legs off and beat you and your dog to death with them spec it always should have been. Protection warriors become those unstopable beasts that shrug off mountains falling on them like its a spring shower. And Arms becomes the special type of master weapon weilder that will "do you left handed" with a tooth pick because otherwise "if I use my right, it's over too quickly."

I love this. Arms warriors apparently (not clear on this yet) will be getting something called Bladestorm, which if it's anything like the existing weapon proc, would be... freaking unbelievable! More later... check out the news on WoW Insider and elsewhere for info about all the Blizzard goodness this weekend, particularly the changes to each Warrior spec. Yeah, my nipples got hard thinking about Diablo 3, as well. I gotta admit, the guys at Blizzard know how to keep ya hooked. Kudos!


Thursday, June 26

Shatter Hell PuGs

I did the damn respec thing again so that I could run regular Shattered Halls on account I haven't been there. If ya haven't been to this instance, it's worth the trip, even if you have to (like us) sneak in with a rogue. Unfortunately, the PUG we got together wasn't interested in downing a Fel Reaver so I could get my key, darnit. There's a couple of pieces of gear in the heroic version that I'd like to have, so I figured this was a good time to learn some of the fights. It's a bitch. :)

Things didn't start out too well. Which is how I ended up respec'ing AGAIN even though I swore I wasn't gonna until I'd completely finish my S2 set and had it fully gemmed and enchanted. Opportunity knocks. But that respec cost is getting a bit high, so hey Blizzard how 'bout dropping the price a bit? Please?

Anyhow, the guy who invited me just asked if I wanted to go to Shattered Halls. I was in LFG for Bot or CoT: Durnholde, but what the heck. After I'm in the group and we're all getting ready and waiting for the healer to come out of another instance, THEN he asks what flavor warrior I am. So I tell him I'm an MS Warrior (of the outdated dual wield varity, but shutup). So that's good for awhile until he asks if I can tank the instance... geez.

I have no problem with someone not knowing what an MS Warrior or Arms Warrior is. But at the very least, if you don't know, ask! Before you invite someone to join your PUG make damn sure they can do the job you need them to do. If you need dps, then ask "can you dps [instance]?" etc. Don't get them in there and then start asking questions. When I tanked SLabs the group leader quized me pretty extensively to make sure I knew my business. Good for him! And it was one of the best runs I've ever been on. Everyone knew their job and everyone knew everyone else's job and it worked perfectly. (Also the first time I've had a Shammy heal me, and I must say they rock at it. Overpowered bastards...)

So I cave and go respec and get my crappy tank gear out of the bank. We've got a Fury Warrior (in greens, but hey ya gotta start somewhere), a Protection Warrior (respec'd me), a Fire Mage (a guildie I lured into coming along), a Shammy (our healer) and a Retribution Pally. Not a mix I've worked with before, but I wasn't expecting much from the run either. This was definately a "Get to know you" for this instance.

As for Shattered Halls, it's a straight forward run. Only one way to go and there's not a lot of pulling levers, figuring out puzzles, moving stones around, lighting torches or that stuff. If you just want a good challenging dungeon romp, SH is a good bet. And it's tough too. Lots of multiple mob pulls. Prot Pally is probably the way to go to tank this one. Or at the very least a Shammy or Druid that can OT some of the bigger groups. Even with good cc (and you'll need it) you're going to be tanking 5 or more trash mobs at a time. Come prepared.

We managed to wipe a few times, but for easily identifable and fixable reasons each time. So no one got mad and a lot of discussion wasn't necessary. We were spanking each boss, so that was a big plus, I suspect. On one trash pull we had 7 mobs at the far side of the room and groups of 5 left and right, with a pat with two pets entering from the opposite hall. On my first pull I managed to get pretty much the entire room. Goody. Like I said, though, easy to fix.

PUG Tip: This happens enough that apparently most players don't think of it. If a tank (or whoever) makes a bad pull, he/she is probably going to know it before the projectile even hits the target. When that happens, the tank is gonna start backing up. The REASON the tank is backing is to get into position to be resurected. If the tank yells "Get clear!" then you need to get clear and let 'em die. Much faster to rez the tank and try again then to wipe and have everyone run back. Same goes for a mage doing a sheep pull, or a rogue sneaking in to sap. I understand the urge to jump in and save the day, but this isn't that time. If it goes bad, let 'em eat it. It's OK.

Anyhow, we get to the final boss and wipe at 65%. I can honestly say I was neither surprised nor disappointed. Actually, I was pretty damn pleased and impressed that we made it as far as we did. On the first try, though, our dps Mage got his ass jumped by a stealthed rogue from behind right as the fight started. We tried again anyway and got him down to 50%. Not great but better and this time the healer and I both saw several opportunities to do better. (The end boss, Kargath Bladefist, has some hysterical emotes if you get time to enjoy them.)

At this point, the Pally starts getting a bit belligerent, particularly to the Mage. So I'm nice and friendly and talkative to try to keep everyone focused. Mainly he's bitching about sustained dps during the fight. Now I know this particular Mage and I know he's not really geared up yet. And he can sustain 450-500+ dps if left to just toss fire. I don't bother with dps meter when I'm tanking (threat is more important), but I went ahead and fired up Damage Meters anyhow. Turns out the Pally wasn't really dps'ing particularly hard and that's ALL he was doing (about 285 sustained actually). I felt like pointing out that in my MS spec I can sustain over 350-400dps and that's poping buffs/debuffs/mitigation every other rotation cycle, and way higher burst dps with Flurry proc'd and Death Wish up... but I kept quiet to keep the peace. Tank's job, right? :)

Then he asks the mage (the MT's guildie no less) if he'll leave. Apparently Pally-boy wants to fire up his uncle's account and try to get some more dps. At this point I ALSO didn't point out that the Fury Warrioir HE brought was at bottom of the dps chain, even 100 points BELOW the tank. Ahem. Again, diplomacy is the tank's job. So I laughed it off, chatted a bit, and the healer threw in a some helpful thoughts and we went at it again. This time we got him down to 5%. Five. 10 more seconds and we'd have had it.

Not bad from 65% to 5% in three tries. This is what we call "learning the fight." And we were definately learning. All we needed at that point was to buy a few seconds for the Shammy, and another couple of blasts for the Mage and we were golden. Easy enough. Of course, Pally-boy starts in again...

So, the Fury Warrior, Mage and the Shammy head out to repair and the Pally is sitting there making plans to boot someone. I'm getting pretty hot at this point, but as nicely as I can I try to redirect the discussion and make it clear that we can do it as is. He just keeps going, oblivious. Everyone else kinda got the point and the Fury Warrior offers to drop out. That was pretty much as much as I was going to take. I told Pally flat out that if we don't get it done with what we have, it isn't getting done. Period.

It's not fair that everyone goes through that much time and that much expense and then ask someone to drop out. I suppose you could justify it if there was no chance of downing the boss, but even that doesn't sit well with me. I just can't and don't play that way. I can also understand it in Raid Progression. The whole point is to progress and if there's someone better to get the job done, you open a slot and fill it properly. But in this case, we had it. The fight was done.

Finally, he was quiet for a bit and as everyone was making their way back after repairing he asks me to transfer lead to him. At this point I have three options: I can punt him for being a butt. But since the other two were his friends/acquaintances the group would have fallen apart. And the other guys conducted themselves quite well. Second, I could refuse. Might have gotten another shot with that option, but more than likely would have just delayed the inevitable. Or three, I drop and let them fill.

So, I dropped. I didn't bitch at him, yell at him or even call him an asshole before hand. Wanted too... of course. Best just to say it isn't working with that player, better luck next time, and go on your happy little way. IMHO, of course.

I don't know if they filled and downed the boss. I kind of hope they did, because the rest of the PUG deserved to see it done. I do thinks it's unfortunate, however, that one idiot can wreck a group. I think that way more important than your gear, or your titles, or your skill is simply the way you play the game. I'm pretty sure Pally-boy was completely unaware and didn't understand why I was upset with him. Even after I explained it. Nothing anyone could have done about that. But if you want to PUG, and be invited back, you really need to treat people properly. It makes getting that last 5% possible.


Friday, June 13

Hippy Flower Pickers

About a month ago I finally got around to working out how to make g with my profession. Yeah, I'm flower picker.

I took herbalism/alchemy because the buffs are free and almost essential for a warrior. Probably for any class, actually. But solo'ing as Warrior is tough early on if half your bag isn't full of healing potions. When I started playing WoW I had no idea how to make money, so this looked like a free way to get my character a nice boost. Hell, you just pick it up off the ground!

Making money at it, though, requires some work. Except for selling excess herbs, I never tried very hard to "make a living" with it. And you should make g with your profession. That's kind of the point of having a profession.

The Professional Alchemist

First thing an Alchemist/Herbalist has to do is install Auctioneer. Ya need this to be able to quickly mouse over an herb or pot (and by pot I'm referring to potions, elixirs and flasks) and see its average auction house price. Without it, you're gonna spend way more time than necessary comparing prices, and/or make a lot of bad investments.

Regardless of level, always use Auctioneer's Bottom Scanner to look for cheap herbs. Doesn't matter if you can use them or not. When combined with what you're picking, you'll either level alchemy faster, or save them and resell them. There might be one or two pots you need for your class, so keep making those. Otherwise, pour all your pickings into leveling and then selling. This makes leveling alchemy almost free until you get into the much higher ranges.

The problem is, unlike mining or skinning, the initial herbs you pick aren't going to sell for much. No wants 100 more Peacebloom or Silverleaf. You can't walk through a starter area without tripping over those weeds constantly. Since people level so fast now, there's also a limited (or no) market for low level pots. Use Auctioneer to check pot prices, at any level, for your Realm.

Our number one rule for alchemists and herbalists: NEVER PASS UP AN HERB. With the exception of a few situations where you're in a fast moving group with a timer and a specific goal, you should grab every herb that pops on the mini-map.

Farming herbs is pretty easy once you get up to higher levels, too. The mobs don't bother you as much and you can run through an area and grab up as many flowers as you can carry. I'm not fond of the herbalism add-ons I've tried that supposedly help this process. They populate the mini-map with so much crap that you can't see where you are or where you're going. I much prefer the run back and forth and use the built in "Detect Herbs" feature. Try the add-ons, though. You might find one you like.

As you get toward level 30+ you'll probably pick up a few drop alchemy recipes or buy the BoE recipes in the AH. Certain vendors also sell recipes that many alchemists may not be aware of, and you can pick up new recipes and transmutes in Outland from reputation with certain factions. It's around this time that you need to start comparing the price of the base mats versus the cost of making a pot. In many cases, between 20 and 60, the herbs themselves sell for WAY more than the pots you can make out of them.

This is an economic factor tied to the faster leveling. People get way up the level ladder and realize the herbs they need are way behind them. Farming them would take forever, so they run to the AH to buy the herbs needed to level their skill. Goldthorn, for example, is a fairly rare herb, but not terribly high level. At various times, though, it sells in the AH for big g! Ghost mushrooms are another favorite. But you have to watch the price versus making Ghost Dye constantly. Which one makes more money flip flops occasionally. Look for these situations using Auctioneer.

Around level 50 many people start raiding. The 5-mans at that level start requiring a great deal of preparation, as well. For both, people need pots. While many guilds have an alchemist for this purpose, there's plenty of times when that alchemist isn't available prior to a run. Of particular need are any elixirs that boost immunities (fire, frost, nature, arcane, and shadow), called guardian elixirs, as well those that boost damage for the schools of magic (battle elixirs, in particular). This is when selling pots is often more worthwhile then just selling the base herbs. The AH is the main source for this, but selling direct is sometimes better.

Pot Master. Dude, Where's My Flask?

Once your Alchemy goes past 300, you can start making a rep for yourself, as well. You can start earlier, of course, but demand will be lower. You want to hook up with players, particularly those in instance and raid guilds, that constantly need pots. Be nice, friendly and helpful, then ask them to add you to their Friends list and whisper you when they need more. Most of the time they will supply the mats, you mix up the pots, and then give you a nice tip (see tipping, below).

When transmutes become available, hook up with a couple of blacksmiths and make Arcanite for them. Blizzard recently made this an "unlimited" transmute, so having a few clients that need it constantly can be a steady stream of tip income. (It killed the AH sales, though.) You can also sell your daily transmute to the highest bidder, but it's better to have clients that know its worth and whisper you when they need it. Not too many, because you don't want to be saying "I already used it" too much, but enough that you're burning off your transmute every day.

The bigger and better the transmute, the more you can charge (or get tipped). You'll be surprised how much people will pay for your daily Primal Might transmute or Earthstorm or Skyfire Diamond. If Primal Might is running 150g, and they already farmed the mats, paying you 10g or more is a bargain. (I've sold my transmute for as little as 2g and as much as 100g!)

Offering alchemy as a service is a great money maker, if you're into sales and customer service. You do have to be helpful and nice. If you're an ass, people won't come back. Repeat business is where the g is for services. You want people adding you to their Friends list with a "great alchemist for pots" note.

Supplying pots as a service is the best way to level past 300. You just offer to make pots for people by posting something like:

"Alchemist making [pot name(s)] free with your mats. PST!"

to the /Trade channel. Always advertise the pots you need to make to level your skill. Most people will tip as well!

Keeping certain pots "in stock" works, but you have to be really on top of what will sell. Browse the raid and pvp forums and see what guilds are "requiring" their tanks and casters to have. Check where they are in the raid progression and prepare pots for their next step by checking damage abilities of bosses. See which instances are most on farm and make pots for those raids. Opportunities like this just require a little creative thinking and anticipating customer need.

Content players, raiders and PvPers need different pots. Tanks, for example, probably don't buy huge quantities of healing potions because they rely on their healer to get the job done. Most I know carry five at a time for emergencies. Knowing that, though, you can probably make a good business brewing up high end mana potions, pots that augment healing spells, and spirit and intellect buffs. If you know certain people need it, you can make it ahead of time and have them ready. Makes a good impression.

Flasks are particularly good for this, because they are in high demand and incredibly expensive to make. I only make flasks from mats I've gathered, or get at 50% minimum market price for the AH, and carefully compare the mat price to the pot price before hand. The market changes quickly. However, having that high end stuff ready on, say, Thursday and Friday for the weekend raiders and PvP arena teams can be worth a small premium. Pay attention to what people are really using.

Show Me The Money!

Should you make pots for free? Well, yes if you post "Making all pots, free with your mats, tips appreciated" then you have to do them for free if someone comes to you with mats. After you've used this method to level, if you're getting a lot of free loaders, you might need to set prices.

There's also the issue of what is an appropriate tip. From the alchemist's point-of-view, it's whatever anyone gives you. :) Never, ever gripe about a tip. Say "thank you" to the bad ones and move on. Then don't do business with that person, of course. Bad tippers will figure out eventually that no one wants to do stuff for them because... well, they're bad tippers.

The "tip" guide below is a good place to start for tipping and for service charges (remember this is with THEIR mats):

The first method, you take a percentage of the skill level required to make the pot and convert that to silver/gold. Say, 1% to 5% and round. So, let's say you have a pot that requires a skill of 275 and you want 20 of em. 275 X 3% is 8.25 silver (8s rounded) per pot. So the tip/price on 20 would be 1g 60s. The higher level the potion, the rarer the recipe, and more difficult it is to make, the higher the percentage should be. Weigh it against the cost of buying the pot outright and the cost of acquiring the mats. Some transmutes and flasks might get as high as 20% or more.

Tune into trade and see what other people are charging. You want to adjust your prices to be competitive, but not so low that you wreck the entire market. If you're offering alchemy services for 50% lower than anyone else, you may soon find yourself with a new career... sitting at the computer making pots full time! Yuck!

Selling in-stock direct is easy as well. You want to calculate it based on the current market price, using Auctioneer, for the mats. Don't forget the cost of the flask. Then markup appropriately. You do have to check the AH, though, for the going price of the pot. If the cost of making the pot is more than the price is the AH, you're not gonna make any money.

Finally, research the recipes available carefully and go out of your way to acquire the rare ones. Most of the very high level ones are earned by rep with various factions. There's also a selection that drop fro mobs and are BoP (meaning you won't see the in the AH). Few people have those. Obviously, being able to make something few others can is usually worth the time and expense.

Blizzard definitely needs a slightly more robust economic model for professions. But using the tools available, a good hippy flower picker and can be a happy hippy flower picker in no time.


Thursday, June 12

Tank Stuffin & More Arms for your Group

I know I've said before that I'm not a Tank. But I really do love tanking. And I do keep up with tanking.

And yeah, if you invite me to tank a PuG on an instance I need, I'll do it with my crap tank gear. Just remember I have crap tank gear. You'll need a very understanding healer and DPS that understands threat. Truth is, many PuGs, after hours spent in LFM will take anyone wearing Plate. There's just not enough tanks available most of the time.

First some tank resources:

This was just on WoW Insider in their Tank column:

If you're LF Tank, read this first. She's 100% right on. Particularly about the folks that play DPS classes. They generally think it's the Tank's job to control aggro. No, it's the Tank's job to Hold aggro. Control is largely in the hands of DPS. I like the saying, "You Pull It, You Tank It." :P YPIYTI ("Yippi Yitti") Of course, no good tank actually does that, but we think it a lot. Specially when we're running around gathering up mobs from over anxious DPS dealers (or worse, the ones that can't aim and hit targets that aren't locked yet!).

All warriors, particular tanks, need to hit this spot regularly:

Everything you ever wanted to know and need to know about tanking, regardless of what flavor you are. They even have T-Shirts! :D

Anyhoo, tanking is a fun way to go. But warriors get pulled in different directions. Do I go DPS? Do I tank? Do I mix it up?

Arms warriors like me need to go one way or the other with their spec. Straight Arms is not going to win you many spots in a 5-man or Raid. So you have to lean Prot or Fury. Arms/Fury is more common, particularly in PvP. An Arms/Prot spec isn't used very often, but if you find yourself tanking a lot, it's worth considering. It's one of my favorites and I used it for ages. Some of the hints about warrior abilities coming in WotLK indicate Arms tanking is about to get a nice boost, as well. :)

Your role, though, is going to be primarily as MA (Main Assist) or OT (Off Tank) for your Tank. You do need to put out enough DPS, but control it so that you don't pull aggro. You should rarely need healing beyond a Renew or Flash Heal for AoE damage when being MA. You should also be able to switch quickly into an OT role if cc resists, or ranged DPS or heals pulls aggro. So macro your Shield and Def Stance dance. Be sure to be able to switch back with a second macro. If your MT knows you'll do this, you'll make their life a lot happier and less complicated. And they'll invite you to run with them again and again!

How To

As the "second piece of plate" you should always have an eye on your MT's healer. Pretty much constantly, regardless of your assigned role. Most very good healers don't like to over heal, so they run it really close. Most of the time they won't pull, but if it gets hot (cc resists, for example, or adds jump in) they can be running pretty close to the aggro threshold. Suddenly they'll get two crits in a row and going leaping and bounding over the MT. Any mob the MT hasn't hit in the last few seconds is going to come off. Or worse, the adds come in from behind or at an angle and the MT can't get them. It's your job to step up and snag 'em.

#1. You do have your threat meter up and running right? Good. You should be keeping an eye on the top two. #1 should be your MT and #2 will normally be your MT's healer or top DPS. Both need watching and if they start getting close or matching the MT, get ready.

#2. Start the fight with Intercept or Charge. Assuming it's not resisted, this will mitigate a little damage off your MT. Charge builds up your rage, but puts you in Battle Stance which will lower your DPS. Intercept has a longer stun, but you have to Blood Rage before you use it. Of course, being in Zerker Stance will get you a heap more damage too, so watch it. Anything you can do to make your MT more mana efficient is a Good Thing. More important, you want Intercept cooled down so you can use it again if the MT's healer gets in trouble.

#3. Pummel is your friend. And your MT's friend. Most DPS warriors completely ignore it unless they've pulled aggro from a caster. No. Use it on any trash mob that's healing and any mob that's casting at your MT. Saving your Tank from having to trinket a Fear is a huge win in most fights. It will be greatly appreciated.

#4. You have three stances, so use them when it's appropriate. You'll get a feel for it eventually. But, for example, if an add comes up and starts casting at you, don't just sit there in Zerker and take it (and die). Switch to Battle or Defensive until cc has a chance to get the mob under control. If your healer has to heal you, make it as easy and mana efficient as possible. It's better to drop your dps temporarily than bleed the healer dry.

#5. Know and use your entire toolset. Offer to refresh Heroic, Demoralizing, and/or Commanding Shout and Thunderclap. Less for your Tank to worry about. Your tank is going to be in a rotation to generate threat not damage. It's a lot of work. Help him out. A mob going after your ranged DPS? Buy the tank a few precious seconds and pop Piercing Howl or Hamstring the sucker. The better you use these side abilities, the better off your group will be. Remind the group, when appropriate, that you have Intimidating Shout and are happy to take a turn scattering adds.

#6. Be ready to OT in a pinch. cc gets resisted. Adds and pats happen. The game is suppose to be unpredictable, otherwise it wouldn't be much of a game. As said above, macro your stance dances and be prepared to put all that expensive armor and that pristine shield to use if the need arises.

If you can prove to be a valuable addition to a group, a lot more people will be willing to include another plate wearer. Let the MT have the MT gear he doesn't have yet, but DO roll for DPS gear. And certainly roll for any MT gear the tank doesn't need. It'll only help you OT better.

The average Arms warrior doesn't get a lot of invites. To get 'em, you have to prove you're worth 'em. It's worth the effort. :)


Wednesday, June 11

BGs for PUGs

After writing that last entry I got to thinking about the "bare essentials" for basic Battleground strategies. Ya still need to read all the strategies out there, and there's some good ones. Many are very detailed and require experience and practice to get the hang of. But most battlegrounds are fought with Pick Up Groups (PUGs); a bunch of players that don't know each other and don't normally fight together. Coordinating a decent strategy in a PUG can be complex. So without further ado...

Friday's Guide to Basic BG PUGs
or, The Bare Minimum You Need to Know Before You Click Join Battle

Most of this has to do with Level 70 BGs, but most of it applies to under 70 as well. A good BG is a LOT more complex and requires the team to communicate and coordinate precisely.

I'm going to give you one or two rules that I consider most important to understand. You need to spend a lot more time learning the specifics.

It is absolutely essential that the PUG cooperate to win a battleground. Be polite and work together. You don't have time to debate. (Actually, you have exactly two minutes to debate and then it's on.) Set any whiners, quitters, nay-sayers, and other degenerates to ignore.


There's plenty of BG tools available, but the only one you absolutely must have is the overlay map. It is built into WoW. On most systems it's SHIFT-M. Learn to read it.

Terms You Need To Know

FC - The flag carrier.
Inc - Incoming.
Cap - A flag capture.
Turtle - All of one side's players group together in a specific spot and hold it.
Zerg - All of one side's players group together and attack a specific spot and take it.
D - Defense
O - Offense

You should also endeavor to learn the specific abbreviations for objectives in the specific battleground. Most of the time you can pull up the zone map and figure them out.

Getting Ready

1. Buff everyone. It's free. No one should have to ask. Just start buffing.

2. Do whatever the battleground leader suggests at the opening. This may or may not be the person designated as leader by the game. It's usually the person that speaks up first and sounds like they know what they're doing. It's more important for everyone to be on the same page at the start than it is to worry about whether the strategy is sound or not. The opening strategy usually lasts about 10-45 seconds. :) If you need this guide, you're not experienced enough to argue.

Warsong Gulch (WSG)

It's just capture the flag. The object is to grab the enemy flag and return it to your base. The caveat is that you can only capture ("cap") the flag if the enemy DOESN'T have your flag. So if they do, you have to get yours back before you can cap.

Terms: FR - the flag room. Tun - the main tunnel leading to the flag room. Ramp - the far left side of the base (facing the enemy base). GY - the graveyard on the far right side of the base (facing the enemy base). Mid - the middle of the battleground.

Rule: PLAY THE FLAGS. With the one exception being if you're on the Flag Carrier team. If you're not going after the enemy flag or trying to retrieve your team's flag, you're not doing it right (YNDIR).

Common Mistakes: Fighting in the middle. The only time you should be fighting in the middle is if you're chasing down, or escorting, a flag. Too much D. If you don't know what you're doing, you don't need defense. The only way to win is by capturing the enemy flag. YOU CAN NOT CAPTURE THE ENEMY FLAG ON DEFENSE. You need to play the flags. Period.

Arathi Basin

In many ways, the most complex battleground strategy-wise, even though the premise is simple. So we're gonna keep it real simple with the caveat that, to play this BG effectively, you have to study. The object is to reach 2000 resource points before the enemy does. You earn resource points by capturing and holding the 5 nodes scattered around the battlefield. The more nodes you have, the faster you score.

Terms: ST - stables, BS - blacksmith, GM - gold mine, LM - lumber mill, Farm - farm.

Rule #1. Keeping it simple... Just gather up 3 or more of your team and go toward any node that you DO NOT see dots at on your overlay map. Dots at a node mean there are friendly players already there dealing with that node. Just grab your teammates and go to the empty spaces, preferably the closest adjacent node. When you're more experienced, know where to go and when, and executing proper strategies you can ignore this rule.

Rule #2. Fight on the flag. Don't fight in the road, a field, the water, or any place except within 10 yards of the flag. If someone starts to cap the flag, ass punch 'em as hard as you can to interrupt them. Then keep fighting at the flag. Ride through the enemy if you have to and get near a node's flag. No exceptions.

Common Mistakes: 3 and Hold acolytes. 3&H is probably the absolute worst AB strategy (do the math and you'll see why). Fighting away from the flags. See above. Trying to hold specific nodes. You're much better off with minimal defense and a strong offense, which means most of your team is going to be in motion most of the time. Give up a node if it's going to slow you down or tie up you up. Getting spread out. The team that rezzes and attacks together, wins together.

Alterac Valley

The biggest BG. Nerfed to hell, but still arguably the best. There's probably not a lot of "simple" strategies for this one, so I'm hitting the very basics of Offense and Defense. It is very important to study for this one so that you can learn the terminology and the location of objectives. It has been simplified a lot and many of the elements included in the BG are rarely, if ever used. Even so, there's still a lot going on and you need to tune into the chatter and pay attention.

Terms - way to many to list for each side. If it has GY in it, it's a graveyard. A B at the end or a T at the end usually mean a Bunker (Alliance) or Tower (Horde), respectively. When you can, pull up the zone map and study these as people call them out.

NOTE: It is necessary and expected in AV for you to have obtained your Frostwolf or Stormpike Insignia prior to entering the BG. It's not 100% necessary, but highly recommended since you can't recall to your General's defense without it. You can get it by completing a quest from your faction's entry point in Alterac. The insignia should be upgraded as you gain honor with your faction (up to Rank 6).

#1. On Offense. Cap any towers/bunkers you come across and stay in them until they burn. Cap any mines you come across and can grab. Do NOT cap graveyards. Controlling the GYs is critical to most AV strategies and caping one at the wrong time can cause a major disaster. Let the more experienced players take care of the GYs. Don't attack a named non-player mob until the rest of the group does. When you do attack, DO NOT RUN. Die if you have to, but you MUST NOT LEAVE THE BUILDING.

#2. On Defense. Your job is to slow down the enemy rush for as long as possible. Since 20-40 enemy players are going to be coming at you, it's only a matter of time. However, playing smart can delay their advance enough to let your offense grab the win. Take and retake any towers or bunkers you can. Keep constant pressure on the towers and bunkers. Keep control of your two base GYs (one inside and one just outside) for as long as possible. Fight in the towers, choke points and at the GY flags, not out in the open. It's a rolling retreat that you need to make last as long as possible. Make the enemy work for it.

Common Mistakes: Capping an enemy graveyard at the wrong time. Leaving a tower/bunker/GY/mine before it's fully capped. Solo'ing your way back to offense, and getting killed repeatedly, if you've been pushed back to defense. Not recalling when too many are on offense and the enemy is ahead.

Eye of the Storm

EoTS is a lot like AB in some respects. The twist is that instead of a 5th node in the center, there's a flag that can be captured for points. Unlike AB, defense is a bigger issue. In most cases, you can respond to a call for help very quickly if you're at an adjacent node. The battlefield is wide open. If you're paying attention, you'll see an enemy push toward a node, and can be heading that way, long before the call for help goes out.

Terms: DR - Drenai Ruins, BET (or Belf) - Blood Elf Tower, FR - Fel Rever Ruins, MT - Mage Tower.

#1 Fight at the nodes, not in the roads. If you're not at the node you're not contributing to capturing/holding it.

#2 The flag isn't important until you have a firm hold on at least two nodes. Preferably you'll have a good O working on a third node as well. Most EotS's are lost because too many people clump up in the middle trying to get the flag. Experienced players will automatically go for the flag when it's appropriate to do so. Inexperienced players need to learn and focus on the nodes.

Common Mistakes: Not pressuring/taking the enemy held nodes. Fighting in the roads. Too much attention to the flag.

Here's some links from WoWWiki for further study (just a starting place with more links to peek at):
The Newbie Guild on the Alterac Valley page is a MUST read!


Warrioring and BG Bulls... stuff

Here's a part-rant, part-reality check...

So I'm in AB the other day and we're trying to take GM. We're slightly ahead in points, but the balance has just switched to 3/2 for the horde. We have ST and BS. Calling anyone who's reached 70 a noob is pretty lame, but the lack of understanding of basic battleground strategy is astonishing sometimes. (On both sides, mind you.) If Alliance has ST and BS, then we try GM first. So naturally 10 of the team head for LM from BS, and get in a furball with the hordies rezzing out of farm. Sigh.

Read all about basic BG strategy before you enter a battleground. Seriously. You don't have to be an expert, well geared, or even fight particularly well. You just need to know where to go in a particular situation. In this AB, the horde had done an 8-man rush on LM. This is proper for them because all they had at the time was farm. They'd failed two valiant attempts to take BS.

The reason has to do with the crossroads and distance between the nodes. ST/GM/BS crossroads is more strategically important for the team that holds ST. The Farm/LM/BS crossroads is more strategically important for the team that holds Farm. You rez very close to that crossroads and the travel distance is much shorter than the opposite middle node. Which means you can get a larger group of fighters to a the contested node, or push through to a less defended node, or bring them into defense of node WAY faster.

So if everyone goes the opposite direction, you're fubar. The 10 of ours that went to LM wiped. GM, not being as important to the horde, had one Tauren Shammy defending.

So me and another warrior, after "/bg go GM" (which no one listened to), end up being the only two headed to GM. We come thundering in, see the Shammy with his rainbow of totems around the flag, and commence to wailing on him. And we keep hitting him. And we keep hitting him. And this goes of for, seriously, 2 full minutes.

Now the shammy was pretty much fully geared for PvP. Granted. The other warrior had his full set of S1 gear and two pieces of S3 gear. I'm about half way to full S1 gear. Over all though, two warriors, both spec'd Fury and Arms/Fury with plenty of dps. And we smack this guy around for a full 2 minutes!

We get him down to about 22%, we're both full of rage, and I know we both have our fingers hovering on the execute button. That this guy has that much stamina is frustrating, but we're getting there, right? So he stuns us with the Tauren special race ability. We both trinket, but it's too late... he's healed back to full strength almost instantly. WTF? is an appropriate response.

Right after that, the dots start hitting and the two Locks show up. We didn't last much longer, of course.

Okay, so Shammy's are way overpowered. And they have been for a long time. So are a lot of classes compared to your average warrior. You rarely hear anyone complaining that "warriors are over powered." :) So as a warrior, you kind of get use to the fact that in PvP your job is to do what you can. Most of the time that's soaking up damage, keeping enemies off the objective, tanking/melee dps'ing the bosses, eating dots, and delaying the enemy at strategic times.

On the other hand, a fully geared warrior (S1, S2 or S3) is a holy terror on the battlegrounds. As they should be, they earned it. And they probably spent a lot more time, effort and skill than any other class to get there. Oh the battle...

We won. It wasn't pretty but somehow we pulled it off with some good coordination (for a PUG) and some luck (read: bad moves by the hordies). The other warrior went back to GM with 7 others, including a healer, and kicked the crap out of the hordies there. Revenge is sweat. :) I responded to a small strike on BS with the Pally that was guarding, a druid and a rogue. The Pally and I then stayed at BS and called out positions. We held of three assaults as well. I have a love/hate relationship with Pallys sometimes. heh!

The other warrior took GM, then when I called out that a 5-man strike was heading for ST (which was just stupid, but maybe they figured we would try to defend it harder... which in my experience, is valid because we often do), he hit Farm hard with 6 others. He wisely left only one a GM. Then we funneled rezes from BS to ST and pressured farm and LM constantly. The poor hordies fell into disarray and we held them to 1 or 2 nodes for the rest of the game.

The overpowered debate is just something warriors have to live with and develop a thick skin over. If you do everything right and you still loose a fight, that's not bad playing, that's someone playing a class that has a built in advantage so that they Don't have to play well. Fair enough, I suppose. WoW isn't and shouldn't be a PvP game, as much as Blizzard seems to want to make it so. I doubt they'd ever release the statistics, but out of 10 million accounts, I'll bet a VERY small percentage engage in Arena combat, for example. Yet arena is one of Blizzard's biggest focus areas. PvP just can't and shouldn't be balanced.

Learn to play your class in a coordinated strategy is the best thing any player can do. Read the base strategies and follow them for each battleground. Quit milling around like sheep. (Unless, of course, that damn undead mage has sheeped you again, then it's okay.) Know where to go and when to go. Do it, and you'll win a lot more.

I can't do anything about the class balance in PvP, nor can I do anything about how much better geared/ or undergeared another player is. But I can know where to go and what to do so that my team has the best change to win. Like I said, the basic strategies aren't that difficult to learn and execute, and they make a HUGE difference. Go get 'em.


Tuesday, June 10

How to Join Dark Clan

How do you join Dark Clan?

I dunno. :) We really don't have anything formal in place for joining, so here's my thoughts.

First the stats in brief, just in case you don't want to read my long, meandering posts:

Guild Name: Dark Clan
Realm: Fenris (US)
Battlegroup: Whirlwind
Affiliation: Alliance
Guildmaster: Voldar
Dark Lords (by level): Voldar, Violetvega, Beanbush, Fridaymacfay, Jayja, Tagnar, Duhgoat
Type: Social
Membership Roster: Dark Clan Official Roster

Dark Clan Is

Dark Clan is a social guild for people to get together and have adventures on WoW. One our founders was the kinda guy that never went questing anywhere without a crowd. Not because it was easier, but because the game is a LOT more fun with people to share it with. I think his attitude toward the game is the most attractive aspect of our guild and demonstrates, better than anything I'll say here, the type of players we have and would like to recruit.

Dark Clan is an Alliance guild on the Fenris realm in the Whirlwind Battlegroup. Yup, we have the requisite tabbard, guild bank, and website. The guild is open to all classes, mains and alts. If you like playing WoW, you're in!

Mostly, Dark Clan is about having folks with which to share the WoW experience. For me, even when I'm solo'ing, having the guild chat going is awful nice. All the members are friendly and respectful. The Dark Lords and members alike will often drop what they're doing to help each other out.

Where are we in the game? At this point, we're looking to build membership up enough to run 5-mans and heroics regularly. Hitting the 10-man raids and starting Kara is definitely an interest in the guild right now, as well. Most of our 70s are working on faction rep and gearing. We DO like to see progression with our toons, just not at the sake of having fun!

What Dark Clan Isn't

While we certainly actively help players level, we are not a traditional Leveling Guild. We're not going to power level your toon to level cap as fast as possible. While trying not to speak for any other member, I think we all agree that leveling through the content is a HUGE and important part of the game.

We are not a Raiding Guild. We enjoy running instances together and in PUGs. It is certainly something most members would like to do more of as the guild grows. The promise of exclusively 10-man mode raids in the up coming expansions is a huge plus for a guild like ours. But I doubt we'll ever be a 4 or 5 night a week Raid Guild.

And Joining???

There's no formal process for joining Dark Clan. The Dark Lords (guild officers) pretty much agree that the main requirement is that you have to actually play with a member and be recommended. While not even remotely inclusive, some things we'd look for while adventuring with you would be:

* Friendly and easy to get along with. We're not talking pushovers that do what they're told. We're talking about people who are respectful and polite, and have an eye toward making the experience fun.

* Interested in learning your class. No one expects you to be an expert right off and we all recognize that there nuances of each class that require practice. Your level of skill is not really the issue. Mainly it's knowing how your class works in relation to other classes. As a whole, I'd say we ARE NOT be big fans of the "there's only one way to do this" school of playing WoW. ;)

* Be a group player. How your toon fits into the group they're playing with. Not how your class' abilities work in a group, but how YOU play that class in a group. The hunter who tanks with his pet, instead of letting the tank tank, is a good example of someone who doesn't know how to play their class with others. The hunter who uses their pet as an off tank when the cc resists, or in the absence of a proper OT, is an example of a player who does know how to adapt to a group.

* Contribute. Yeah, throw some mats, a green, a couple of gold in the Guild Bank occasionally. But contribute, for us, is largely about helping other players and joining them on adventures. Most of us like to have some quite solo time. That's a good thing. But if you're generally a solo-only player, joining any guild is probably not the thing for you. There's probably a small unspoken requirement in Dark Clan that you group up from time-to-time.

* Your main goal is to have fun. Dark clan just isn't going to be a guild for hardcore progression, end-game oriented players. We're all interested in that content, but we'll get there in our own time and have fun doing it. The same goes with all aspects of playing WoW. If it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing. :)

That may not be the most focused description of a guild ever. :) But that's kind of the point. If you like playing WoW, want to enjoy all aspects of the game, and have some pleasant company doing it, then Dark Clan is for you!

What not to do: Don't pester a Dark Lord (or any member) with invite requests. Ask for membership politely, once, and it'll get passed up to a Dark Lord right away. Don't dance naked in the streets trying to attract attention. We only do that during the Harvest Festival. Every guild has to have standards. (I think naked VC runs for new recruits should be required... but I'll probably get out voted on that one.) We're a fairly low key guild, so public broadcasts for membership on /Trade are probably not a good idea, either.

There's no application process. Seek out a member and ask to group with them sometime. If it looks like things are gonna work out, they'll pass your name up to a Dark Lord. The Dark Lord will send ya a tell, talk to you about the guild a bit, and offer you an invite. It's that easy. ;)

If you want an Excellent social guild, Dark Clan is for you. Chat with one of our members and join in the fun for a bit. We'd be happy to have ya!