Day 1: Siege of Orgrimmar

My glyphs! They’ve been changed! Ever since Dark Binding went baseline, I had to make some changes to my shadow glyphs! Now I’m using Glyph of Fade, Glyph of Mind Flay, and Glyph of Vampiric Embrace

For healing, I removed my Glyph of Lightwell (so that Lightspring is now baseline). I switched back to using Glyph of Renew and kept Glyph of Mending along with Glyph of Circle of Healing.

Our day 1 in Siege of Orgrimmar was a blast! Immerseus was two-shotted and the Protectors of the Vale was taken down in one shot (even with a third of the raid dead). Ran into a wall with Norushen but after multiple attempts and hitting the enrage timer with about 10% left, I think he’s well within range for a kill on Thursday. Just have to stack the deck a little bit more in terms of who gets sent to the other side.

How did your day 1 go?

Where we kill Heroic Tortos and Iron Qon

Two weeks ago on a Monday night, the biggest (and most annoying) turtle since Firelands went down on heroic mode. Took us over 70 attempts before we were finally able to kill the oversized shell. It’s the same thing for about 6 minutes non-stop and it demands an unbelievable amount of focus from really key players. If even one person stops thinking or loses sight, it’s an automatic wipe. I probably caused maybe 20% of the wipes due to bad calls, mis-kicks or other stuff. The DBM option which automarks turtles is a god send.

I had three total kickers including myself and my job was to tell the kickers which shell to kick for breaths and for debuffs. In addition, I had to direct ranged DPS traffic. We were consistently getting him low to around 25 to 30% but we kept losing our kite tank (we used a Death Knight for this as we didn’t have a tanking Monk available). What’s funny is that ont he final attempt of the night, I errantly forgot to refresh my shield (or it was taken out by a rock fall or a turtle spinning and I didn’t see it). At that moment, my duties were absolved of all kicking and I was able to instantly focus on directing traffic and set up a specific order on which shells would be used when.

Maybe I should die more often.

This is indeed a fight where the fate of the many rest on the shoulders of the few.

Things that can go wrong

  • Your kite tank dying
  • Your main tank dying
  • Your main tank pulling bat aggro somehow
  • Your misdirectors unable to misdirect bats
  • Your kickers not kicking
  • Your kickers missing
  • Your shields not being refreshed on people

The lockout was subsequently extended and we made a large push towards Iron Qon. We actually were able to pick up where we left off since we last worked on him about two months ago. We hit phase 4 a few times, jockeyed around with the DPS order. Turns out killing Fire Quillen guy first might not be the best idea since the shields from the Ice Quillen caused us to miss a whole bunch. We switched our targets, delayed our Heroism into that phase and unloaded everything. This was one of the few attempts where we had just about everyone alive and managed to stay stable throughout it.

Thank goodness. That put us to 6/13. Now we have two more days to make it 7. I feel like we’ve made a really strong push at the end of the tier and helped make up for lost time. I just hope that it’s enough momentum to really get us going into Siege. Rumors are that other Alliance guilds are either switching servers or switching factions. A shame really. Our server’s going to slowly shift towards faction imbalance if it does go through.

Hearthstone: Paladin Brewmaster Control

Hearthstone: Paladin Brewmaster Control

This is a deck that I’ve put together that has a ton of synergy and card draw. There’s many different ways to win. First, let’s go over the notable cards. The point of this deck is to make every minion count when it comes into plays. It’s also not a cheap deck to build as it has no less than three legendaries and other epics.

The deck

On WoW Head
On Hearthpwn

 The cards

Brewmasters: This deck aims to control the board with correct usage of Brewmasters. Use it to bring back any creature in play back to your hand so you can reuse the Battlecry effect. You can say that this is the main engine. During early game, I’ll try to use my Youthfuls on my Novice Engineers or Cold Light Oracles to continue drawing cards. Or I can use it on Owls to silence any annoying minions. I once took out two Molten Giants by dropping Big Game Hunter, bouncing it back to my hand, and re-casting it. There’s lots of tricks you can do here.

Leeroy Jenkins: Honestly, he’s not really in there for the consistent damage. He’s in there because his 4 mana allows you to instantly get rid of a 6 health minion with taunt that’s in the way of your miniature army. Not to mention there’s no other removal spell that Paladins have access to which I can use. Sure the trade off is that your opponent gets two 1/1 whelps. But that’s not so bad.

Illidan: Procs off any card played. Secrets, spells, minions, whatever. You get a free 2/1. This will help cement your board advantage. With 5 health, he’ll survive nicely against most smaller minions.

Ironbeak Owl: My favourite card in the game that’s a two drop. Shuts down any minions with scaling health and attack effects. Use it to bypass a taunt. Shut down any special utility creatures like Questing Adventurer.

Tinkmaster Overspark: You might think that the 50% chance to generate a 5/5 is a bad idea. But is there a Molten Giant in play? Or a Ragnaros? Or an Onyxia? Or a buffed 8/8 Questing Adventurer? All of a sudden, a 5/5 Devilsaur doesn’t seem so bad. 3 mana to shut down abilities of stronger creatures is something I’ll take. Save Tinkmaster to neutralize any legendaries.

Big Game Hunter: This will punch through any serious threats. Large demons. Massive beasts. A really buffed creature. You name it, BGH will sharpshoot it down free of charge without having to trade.

Mogu’shan Warden: It’s a 1/7 wall that can stop most things and buy you a turn. Brewmaster it to keep regenerating the the taunt shield alive long enough until you draw more permanent solutions. Combines well with the Crazed Alchemist as a surprise attack.

Acidic Swamp Ooze: Specifically targets warriors, Eaglehorn bow hunters, and really buff rogues. Otherwise, it’s a 3/2 drop for 2 mana.

Earthen Ring Farseer and Guardian of Kings: If you need to buy yourself time, Brewmaster these two for extra life. It should allow you more time to get setup and find more threats.

Sea Giant: Finisher. Towards mid to late game, there will be enough minions on the board to make it cheap to cast. If you plan to Equalize/Consecrate, Equalize first, drop the Sea Giant, then Consecration. 

Crazed Alchemist: Can be used for both defensive and offensive purposes. Opponent has an 0/5 Lightwell? Target it and watch as it becomes a 5/0 and instantly dies. Use it to bypass a Mogu’shan Warden. Turn the 1/7 taunter into a 7/1 and send your Silver Hand Recruit after it to open the way for the rest of your army. Alternatively, that buffed 6/1 Dust Devil that the Shaman has which is going to 2 shot you next turn? Use the Alchemst  on it and watch as it becomes a 1/6 that will attack twice for a measly two damage combined. You don’t always have to kill creatures to neutralize. Sometimes dropping them down to 1 attack renders them a non-threat. Just make sure you have the health for it.

Aldor Peacekeeper: Same concept as the alchemist above except it’s purely for defensive purposes. Opponent has a pair of Ironbark Protectors on the board? Drop a Peacekeeper, Brewmaster it back, drop it again. Those two 8/8s have now become 1/8s and are nothing but ticklish walls.

Equality and Consecration: The best board clearing combination. Levels your opponents field unless their minions have a Divine Shield presence up. Can easily be used on turn 5 with a coin or turn 6 in case things aren’t looking so good. Personally, I’ll wait a little later until I can do it to either finish the game or neutralize my opponent’s advantage. Remember that it costs 6 mana combined to cast. If the board is full. Cast Equality first, then drop a Brewmaster to return something or Leeroy (or a Sea Giant if there’s enough), before nuking their side with Consecration.

This deck has solutions for just about most situations. If not, Equality/Consecration will reset the board for you in your favor. Your card draw should let you fish them out fairly quick. Expect to go the distance with this deck and it’s not uncommon to get to a point where you’re running out of cards in your deck.

Video with commentary

Vs Warlock – With Warlocks, you have to be careful. Their key board clears are Hellfire and Twisting Nether. Brewmasters will help against any of your own minions that have been targeted with Corruption. This Warlock deck will have some spellpower minions to power up Drain Life or Soul Fire or other damage spells. Use Black Knight to punch through Booty Bay Bodyguards. Warlock players tend to hold onto their cards. Depending on the situation, you might be able to cast Coldlight Oracle and remove cards from their deck (do this only if they have 8 or more cards during your turn).

Deck Construction on WoW Insider

You may or may not be sick of Hearthstone already. Or maybe you want to learn a little more about the game. I wrote a lengthy post on WoW Insider about Deck Construction basics. Don’t expect to pull out any turn one wins. But it’ll at least help get you started with the game and assembling a solid deck to work with.

We managed to push Tortos down to about 25% earlier tonight on hard mode. I think we can get him killed on Monday. This is a high intense focus fight, that’s for sure. So many right things are depending on a small number of people. The kiting tank needs to make sure he stays ahead of everyone. The kickers have to be on the ball. Every player needs to ensure that they hit the crystal to activate the shield when they’re at full health. So many things can possibly go wrong. I’m happy that we received an extension on the patch though. With it debuting early September, it gives us a little more time in clearing out some additional hard modes.

Heroic Council Down!

Heroic Council Down!

hcouncil

Here at Conquest, we have a habit of making our own hard modes. We’ll often ace (or get a boss down reasonably quick) before wiping on trash due to overconfidence. We had just finished Heroic Horridon the other week and we had some time left in the raid. Why not make a push for Heroic Council and see what we can do with almost no homework or preparation?

Our raid group pushed further than expected and the call was made to start prepping for him next day because it seemed like the entire council of trolls was within striking range. So with a little over two and a half nights of progress, we managed to get him last night. Arguably the hardest part of the encounter was not dying to Kazrajin. The Blanka look-alike kept doing us in towards the end until we were able to carefully balance our DPS and healing to live just long enough. Our main DPS focused on Sul first so that we wouldn’t have to worry about Sandstorm. We ended up with around 2 or 3 Kazra Empowered phases. We managed to push the remaining trolls to under 10% before mercilessly cutting them all down.

Heroic Council is supposed to be a boss a raid group works on later in the progression. Something like 8th or 9th. But what the hell, we did it backwards. In theory, this would suggest that we have the DPS and healing capacity to get through the other easier bosses. Right now we’re just aiming for kills more than gear especially since we have such a limited window before the expected 5.4 release.

I’ve outlined a new schedule that’s going to include Flex raiding into the works. We’ll still be raiding Mon, Tuesday, and Thursday. But Wednesday night will be an optional Flex raiding night. Any regular raider that didn’t raid because of group composition or attendance related issues can come and step in for that. This way, those players won’t fall too far behind in terms of gearing and experience. I anticipate that the first few opening weeks will be chock full of players on their mains and once they no longer need the gear out of there, they’ll switch to either their alts or opt out allowing me to start bringing in other friends and players who want to see the content without the fuss of LFR.

How’s your guild doing in preparing for the patch? We’ve been doing our best to continue stockpiling gold and mats. Our forums are thriving with raid strategy, discussion, and videos.

Hearthstone!

Hearthstone!

Like several other members of the WoW media and press fansites, I received an invite into the Hearthstone beta for the weekend. And it is a blast. It can be crazy addicting. Actually, the addicting part I find is just opening boosters and packs (and that’s going to be a problem for a future Hearthaholic).

I’ve played CCGs for many years. I started playing Magic: the Gathering around 1994. My first set was 4th edition and gradually played on and off throughout the years. Was never much of a deck builder though. This card flopper preferred piloting instead of construction. During two headed giant or 3v3 tournaments, I let my friends put together decks and I just played whatever they gave me. I specialized in playing control decks but shifted to aggressive creature based decks.

I’ve unlocked all the basic cards for Priests, Hunters, Mages, and am working on a Paladin right now.

The following deck is a fun list I put together designed to live long enough to go straight for the opponent’s dome. It’s not meant to be super competitive or to be used in ranked play. Not without significant tweaks.

Deathmage

Every card is designed to go straight to the opponents head, protect my head, or draw more cards. I could probably tune it better. Maybe take a closer look at the Frost spells. I didn’t realize I could freeze opponents directly.

Anyway, I’ll post some more deck ideas and lists that I come across. I’ve encountered some neat and potent ones. Right now, hunter decks are extremely powerful. But more details on that in a different post!

Never Ending Gearing Cycle

I’m just tired of it.

It’s not the gearing myself up or my alts. That’s not the problem.

It’s the seemingly never ending state of recruiting. We get a number of players who apply, their application looks good and they fit the player profiles that we’re looking for. Except a good number of these tend to be players that have just gotten back into the game after missing an expansion or a patch cycle. So they get that itch to play again and we fit what they’re looking for.

The problem? They’re a little bit behind on gear. They’d do well going into the opening parts of say, Throne of Thunder. But they’re in no shape to adequately compete in the heroic aspects of it yet.

Now it’s perfectly okay to carry a player through the heroic stuff. It’s possible to do that if that heroic boss has already been killed and is on farm mode. But start adding two, three, or a whole group’s worth of new undergeared players, and it adds up. Enrage timers start being  harder and harder to reach.

I understand that for new 90s, it’s really easy to get the gear. You can craft some stuff with the Haunting Spirits. You can buy certain BoEs. You can participate in the various catch up mechanics but that gets you up to the floor of doing the normal mode stuff. Then we as a guild need to farm that normal mode stuff and rely on the right drops to adequately gear out the newer players and give them the equipment that they need. Then inevitably, the veteran players end up quitting the game because of a new job, school, or a boyfriend/girlfriend or our pace is too slow and they switch guilds and we have to start the cycle all over again.

Should be happy that I have a guild that’s even raiding but the constant act of attempting to gear out new recruits and players is taking a toll on me. And I know it’s taking a toll on the older players. They’ve already done their time. They’ve already killed the normal mode bosses and by all rights they deserve to be wiping and killing heroic mode bosses. Every patch is a limited window to kill stuff before it becomes irrelevant. It’s hard to swim for the finish line when you’re spending more effort trying to stay afloat.

Sure it sounds like I’m ungrateful. Honestly, I’m quite happy and thankful with the crew here. But there’s a part of me that’s just exasperated to all hell. It would just be golly to pick up geared players that don’t need to have that stuff crafted or already have most of the items that need from normal mode.

Wyn keeps telling me to call it a career and retire. Still latching on though and not ready to do that yet even though I’ve watched hundreds of people pass through this guild.

Not yet!

Wise words from a friend

“Players win games. Teams win championships.”

- Spencicus

Think about those the next time you enter a new progression raid. individual player skill will help you defeat dragons. But it’s the effort of the whole team that brings the glory of victory.

[Video] Endless Healer Proving Grounds

[Video] Endless Healer Proving Grounds

Here, watch this video of me in my first ever effort on the new healer Proving Grounds.

You can read more about the experience in detail on WoW Insider.

In other news, I spent money buying Spirit Guard Udyr in League of Legends this morning. Then the new transmog helms were available and I bought all three of those (I like the Crystal Skull helm one the best). Looks kind of odd on a Pandaren though, don’t you think? Luckily, there’s a guild transmog contest happening this upcoming Tuesday. The theme is blue! Now I need to find the rest of my transmog pieces I want to match up with the theme. Any ideas?

You know, I used to be that guy who scoffed at buying cosmetic and aesthetic gear. Who’d want to buy mounts? Why bother buying skins? What’s the point of battle pets? None of this stuff is used in the betterment of my character in anyway shape or form other than in looks, and even then, that’s subjective.

Five years later, I’ve sunk over a grand into League of Legends skins (alone).

Free to play game, they said.

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

This is a guest post by LabellaNotte who is co-GM of the Guardians of Fellowship (US The Scryers – Alliance) and author of the Heals Or Leaf blog.
When you hear the Doomsday Clock ticking, it’s easy to despair.  It’s easy to give up and take what you think is coming to you.  You can sink into depression thinking that all you and your officers have worked for is going the way of the dodo.  If this makes you feel like you’ve fallen in a well with no way out, let me assure you there is a way.
Be an ass.
No, not like your raid leader, this is a different kind of ass. Let me paraphrase a little fable for you.
There was this donkey. We’ll call the donkey Bob. He worked hard and took pride in his work. One day, in a fit of overzealousness, he fell into a hole being dug for a well.
Standing there alone in the well, Bob stared up and wondered what to do next. One of his buddies peered over the edge and told him that he was stuck in a well with no escape. In the process, he sent a cascade of dirt down on poor Bob’s head. A little annoyed, Bob shook the dirt off his back and stepped on it. It seemed he would never get out.
While he stood there, Bob realized he had two choices. First, he could simply wallow in misery over his certain demise.  Or, he could do something to change his situation.
Time and again, other animals came to look, comment, jeer, heckle, or offer helpful advice.  Over and over, showers of dirt fell on him. Bob made his choice, time and again.  Shake the dirt off, step on it, and realize that each bit that fell on top of him could be shaken off, stepped on, and used to bring him closer to freedom.
It wasn’t a fast process by any means, but Bob built himself a ramp out of that well and again got to see the light of day as a free donkey. One shake and step at a time, Bob repeatedly chose to use that dirt to his advantage to build a ramp instead of letting it bury him.

In other words

The seemingly endless task of running a guild, whether as a GM or an officer, involves running into obstacles.  Some obstacles are small, such as picking dates for events that aren’t convenient for everyone who wants to participate. Others are potential catastrophes. My guild, just like anyone’s, has had more than our fair share of them.  Looking back at the annals of our history, it amazes me that we have lasted as long as we have.
Back in Wrath of the Lich King, one of our officers left and half the raid team followed. In the same era, our OT’s wife got fed up with his gaming and forced him to quit raiding with us.  During Cataclysm we absorbed another Guild that was falling apart to benefit both Guilds, but eventually there was a rift in our own Guild that led to an officer, one of our best DPS raiders, and several awesome social members away. Also in Cataclysm, one of our other top DPS raiders decided he has finished the story and canceled his subscription. Just recently, one of our most consistent raiders (an officer to boot) and a backup healer decided to leave the server for greener grasses.
Each of these events made us in guild leadership look around and wonder if we could handle this blow.  We wondered if we would survive, no less continue with our regularly scheduled raids.  It wasn’t easy, not by any measure of the imagination.  Each time, we made the conscious decision to keep on trucking.
Matticus very aptly observed that each guild has its own Doomsday Clock ticking towards midnight.  There are outside influences that can stop, slow down, or even reverse it. You can look to those exterior forces he discussed to keep you afloat.  One factor he failed to mention is you do have one other option.  You can draw from your own strength and ingenuity to get yourself out of that hole.
Each time we’ve been faced with a challenge that could have ended us, our GM and officers have sat and stared at the hands of the doomsday clock speeding towards midnight. And each time, our GM, myself, and our leadership team have stopped, shaken off the dirt of the latest disaster, and built a ramp to get out of the hole.  We see and hear the clock ticking and watched the progress of those numbers slow, halt and reverse.
So next time that clock is ticking, think of Bob. Go ahead and be an ass, just like Bob, and you too can smile as the hands on that doomsday clock start to move backwards.
Have you watched your own guild’s doomsday clock ticking away and survived to tell the tale?  Share your experience in the comments!Until next time, long days, pleasant nights and happy raiding.