Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Preparing for 70 and Patch 2.4 (Part 1)

Now that I have my team of tanks, I've been staying off the quest trail (as planned) and found myself flying through whatever dungeon I encounter. I'll be writing about each one in the near future. For now, I want to focus on the changes coming in Patch 2.4, and how they'll effect my plans as I inch closer to the big 7-0.

The problem with hitting 70 this late in the game, is that PvPers are already geared. Heck, we're coming up on the 4th Arena Season! This means that when I step into the BGs as 5 brand new level 70 Shaman, I'll likely be in level 90-100 Blues at best, while others are in level 146 Epics. Yikes.

I'm going to miss this once I hit 70s BGs.

The most painful part will be my lack of Resilience, a stat that reduces your chances to BE crit, and reduces the damage you take when you ARE crit. You have exactly zero resilience in your base stats, so the only way to build it up is to get resilience gear. That's easier said then done.

Up till now, with the exception of a few raiding rings, you could only get resilience gear by pvping, but you need it to pvp competitively. So the only option for you is to run BGs, in terrible gear, and save your honor until you can afford to buy the gear you need.

After Season 3 came out, the original Season 1 (S1) gear became available for bulk sums of honor. This is great! But when you add up the honor you need, you'll be stuck pugging through BGs for many months before you've got the gear you need to survive in Arenas.

This is where 2.4 comes in. Blizzard recognized this gear gap, and decided to make available a set of Blue quality level 115 pvp gear, complete with resilience, and even a +35 resilence 2 piece set bonus. So how do you acquire this fabulous new wardrobe? PvE.

In the expansion, Blizz decided to reward us with faction quartermasters. These are NPCs who offer you fabulous gear for rock bottom prices, based on the level of reputation you hold with their faction. So they're using these quartermasters to distribute the new pvp armor, an I couldn't be happier.

WoWInsider posted a wonderful little spreadsheet pointing out what factions you need to get, in order to get the gear you want. They spread the gear out over five factions: Cenarion Circle, Thrallmar, Keepers of Time, Lower City and Sha'tar.

As you can see from the chart, there are three types of Shaman gear. Elemental, Enhanced and Resto. Each is of course itemized around it's spec, and each one has it's own set bonuses. The Elemental set, which I'm obviously looking to, has a pretty stupid 4 piece bonus: 2% crit to shocks. This is frustrating because you're rarely in range to use shocks as an Elemental Shaman. What i'm more interested in, is the 2 set bonus that each set shares.... +35 resilience.

The thought here, is if I replace two pieces of Seer's Mail (Elem), with two pieces of Seer's Ringmail (Resto) I would only lose +10 spell damage, but get a total of +70 resilience bonus. Woot! And within a few minutes of the patch going live, all five of my boys will be wearing 5 pieces of level 115 blues, packing 151 resilience and a heck of alot more armor. All for the price of about 100g per toon. (chump change)

So how do I get there? Well, I just need to run instances and complete quests that build up my reputation with the 5 needed factions. Normally, this is hard. Because after you run any available quests, you're left needing to run instance, which requires 4 other "good" players... not if you multibox. :)

So I'm choosing instances that pay out the rep I need. How do I keep track of that? By using one of my favorite WoW sites of course! WoW Reputation Calculator. (

Punch in your toon's name, your server and your region (US or EU) and BAM! The dishes are done! The page will build a beautiful bar chart showing exactly where your reputation is with all of the important TBC factions. But wait... it gets BETTER!

When you click on each one, it actually shows you where and how you can build up your reputation, and even calculates how man mobs you need to kill, quests you need to finish or instances you need to run to reach the next reputation goal. WOOT! This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of my Reputation TO-DO list. I'm already well on my way to being Honored with all five factions long before the patch gets here.

I can't wait!

The patch also brings us a NEW faction to grind, the Shattered Sun Offensive which brings a pile of new dailies, server based progression and a pile of sweet new epics when you hit Exalted. I'll go over all of that, and my SSO plans in my next post.

Shortly after that, I'll be sharing my experience in Sethekk Halls (oh man the first boss blows), my party with Thrall in the CoT, and even the Big Ding! It's all right around the corner. Stay tuned.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Multiboxing the Mana Tombs: Pandemonium

Auchindoun was originally a holy burial ground for the dead of the Draenei. But the Shadow Council decided it was a great place to hold an epic kegger. They hoped to summon a pimptacular uber demon, and be the first to apply for "BFF" status with the new bad boy on the block.

But as with all the other parties the Shadow Council threw, this one didn't go well. They succeeded in summoning Murmur, the first stereophonic boss in WoW, but the spell also caused an explosion that destroyed Auchindoun and half of Terokkar Forrest. Ah well. Ya gotta break a few eggs...

Auchindoun is now home to 4 different 5 man instances. In order of difficulty, Mana Tombs, Auchenai Crypts, Sethekk Halls and Shadow Labyrinth. Going against all logic and traditional conventions, I chose to start with the easiest one. :)

Mana Tombs was the next logical instance progression for me. It's labeled 64-66, so at 65 I figured it was time to take a shot. By this point I've discovered that while I don't need to drink while raiding (Water Shield + Elemental Focus + uber crit from ToWx5 = Infinite Mana, and some embarrassing mana leakage.) However, I DO need drinks for wipe recovery. And when you're learning a new instance, it's fair to assume you'll be wiping. I did. Bring water.

There are only 3 bosses in Mana Tombs, the first being a gigantic void walker named PANDEMONIUS! (sorry, I just can't say his name without yelling. Go ahead, try it yourself.) Once again I figured my ego was all the "instruction" I'd need to kill this guy, and totally forgot that 10 seconds or so into the fight, he turns on a spell reflect shield. Turns out it was EXACTLY my ego that came flying back into the face of my shaman, and we all died to the wrath of our own lightning.

I recovered, drank, and took another shot. This time I stopped casting when his shield came up, but still died to his awesome melee powers. Why? Because I didn't have shields equipped. Equip your shields when in instances. K?

So I recovered, drank, put on my shields, and took another shot. This time he died... taking three of my shaman with him. This doesn't exactly encourage me to proceed. But I do.

Luckily, as if to say "Hey, you remembered to equip your shields that time!", Pando left us a beautiful new Shield of the Void. That rocks, and sucks. It rocks because it's an upgrade. It sucks, because now I have to kill that jerk over and over until I get five of them. :)

The trash mobs were falling into the typical pattern I've become accustomed to from previous instances. You get a few melees, a few casters and usually one mob that really hurts. Once you figure out who is who, you kill the hard hitting one before they even get to you, then use grounding and stoneclaws to finish off the rest.

The second boss is a walking stalagmite named Tavarok. (And yet another name that rocks... get it? No? Never mind.) He hurts. He hits freak'n hard, and has an AoE stun that does 2400 damage over 3 seconds. Yikes. While I was busy casting a group chain heal, he stomped on one of my guys and he simply dropped. But he still wasn't strong enough to outlast my DPS, and he died after 2 of my boys did.

And what did we get for our troubles? Lightning-Rod Pauldrons! These babies use the same model as the crazy "Antennas of doom" Pauldrons of Elements, part of the Shaman's very first Dungeon set back in Pre-TBC days. Of course, this rocks... and sucks. Now I need 5. /sigh

Working my way to the last boss, I started to notice just how much fun I was having in an instance. This is great! I'm seeing cool content, at my own pace, and when things go bad, I have only myself to blame. It makes it much easier to laugh at a wipe, trust me. Multiboxing is fun. You should totally do it too. And while you're doing what I tell you, post about my blog on your guild forums. :)

Finally, I was faced with Nexus-Prince Shaffar. He starts with three Ethereal Beacons (sparkling bawls of doom) that if not killed, turn into humanoids that cast hurt on you. The prince will summon additional Ethereal Beacons every ten seconds. So the smart thing to do would be destroy the beacons right away and be sure to focus on the adds every ten seconds.... that is, IF YOU'RE A MERE MORTAL!

Being the invincible Twenty Totems, I simply dropped trou, popped some trinkets and let loose the wrath of the heavens. This doesn't always work mind you... but it did today. :)

The prince dropped in less than 30 seconds, and I quickly dispatched his summoned adds while their prince rotted on the ground in front of them. Good fun.

For all our trouble, the jerk left us a crappy set of plate bracers. But I could care less. Why? Because as the great prince fell, my team began to DING! 66 baby! And you know what that means... time to recruit me a couple of tankss!