The Hyjal / Sunwell Effect

The Hyjal / Sunwell Effect

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I use PUGs to gauge a lot of player response to content, the new LFG tool has made it that much easier and given me a broader spectrum to poll. A lot of times I’ll bring it up in random banter and ask people what they think of the current content and such. Occasionally I’ll join a PUG raid on my Hunter in an attempt to gear her up outside of the guild’s assistance, but also to see how the pugs are doing on raids and ask questions without “Lodur” around. I’m guessing you’re wondering what this has to do with the “Hyjal / Sunwell” effect, and indeed what is the effect anyways? Well, I’d like to share some recent and past observations with you.

Let me explain to you what the Hyjal / Sunwell effect is.

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Back in BC when end game raiding was all the rage, you had Black Temple, Hyjal and then the culmination of all things raiding for that time Sunwell. Hyjal Summit was an interesting raid instance. You sat in one of two camps and waited for trash waves to come to you. After you were done killing the trash waves a boss would spawn and come for you. The zone had 5 bosses. 4 of those bosses could be broken down into tank and spanks after their various tricks were discovered. Aside from the last boss it was a very easy instance and at the very least on my server, the zone up to the Archimonde fight was easily PUGable and there were many many Hyjal PUGs weekly. I know because I used to go to them on my hunter. So we can assume a level of ease at least for the first 4 bosses, with one boss that was a PITA but still killable.

Then came the Sunwell, and everything changed. People ponied up and the PUGs surged forth expecting to roll over some trash and get some trash drops and maybe even down a boss or two along the way. Then they encountered the first pulls, and it was like watching a charging bull hit a steel wall. Giant arcane powered robot wiped the raid in nothing short of what could be called a spectacular explosion of brightly colored bodies. I heard stories of established raiding guilds having to work hard on some of the trash and in some cases still wiping, let alone hitting the bosses. Trash required solid use of CC and careful maneuvering. The bosses were complex and required coordination in order to succeed. I never saw a PUG get past Kalecgos, and the ones I heard got there, only barely beat trash. That is at least how it was on my server. There were PUG / Farming groups that would go and kill trash, then run out and reset and lather rinse repeat in order to farm gems, gold and trash drops, but those groups required a certain level of gear (and they did check) before they would consider you. And that’s just for trash farming! People pissed and moaned that Sunwell was “soooo hard”, my argument was that Hyjal made people complacent.

WoWScrnShot_092309_232622Enter Wrath of the Lich King. The raiding scene in wrath mirrors pretty well that of BC but builds upon it. Naxxramas became our new Kara. Ulduar provided us deep lore and some decent challenges. and then came ToC (25). Trial of the Crusader offered an easy loot system (the tier available for badges alone), an instance with NO trash only bosses, and to be honest fight mechanics that weren’t terribly difficult. While it did require some coordination, I have seen more PUG groups successfully complete it then any other raid instance. The 4 bosses leading up to the final boss are gimmick fights like Hyjal was, with the final boss being a tank and spank get out of the way healers just heal fight. I’m not saying they aren’t fun, and as much as I hate to admit it Faction Champs is a blast watching my raiders run around like chickens with heads lopped off, but it just mirrors Hyjal a little too much as far as it’s placement in raid progression, content and general feel of the zone.

Now in Wrath we have Ice Crown Citadel. It mirrors Sunwell almost perfectly as well, especially with Chill of the Throne being so very similar to Sunwell Radiance. The fights are markedly harder and the trash is capable of killing a raid. The trash pulls require use of CC like priest shackles and paladin fears / stuns as well as requiring careful positioning of the raid. Random triggers cause giants to spawn that can interrupt spell casting and saber lash a tank into nothing in no time. The bosses while not overly complex, still require a certain amount of raid awareness and coordination and use of abilities such as CC to win. Lady Deathwhisper is a pain when not done right and it requires a lot of coordination to get all the components down pat. Saurfang is a beast of a fight currently and while people have beaten him I have yet to find one strategy that doesn’t call for at least two people to be sacrificed. That says something right there. What amuses me the most is the people who were pugging ToC (25) went rushing headlong into ICC (25) and in most cases hit the trash on the first landing and splatted. On my server I can’t find a PUG for ICC (25) on my Hunter, as a matter of fact she has an easier time finding ToGC (25) pugs. And while the argument can be made that the 10 mans are puggable, I say that while I’ve seen some pugs do ICC (10) the players almost always out-geared the 10 man tuned version. I also hear it from some of my raiders. We’ve been having fun with Saurfang. Random things like moonkin’s pushback randomly not working, Tanks dcing, starting the fight and immediately having 8 raiders get Mark of the Fallen champion. These are things that make new instances fun for me.

But IWoWScrnShot_092309_232622 hear the murmurs in the crowd. I have some raiders in my group that think ICC is too hard, I’ve been in pugs with my hunter that people have done nothing but complain about the difficulty of the new fights. This is what I call the Hyjal / Sunwell effect. ToC gave us a certain level of apathy. Sure Heroic Faction Champs is a hell of a fight, but once you get the basic concepts down for it is it really that hard? ToC spoiled us with easy loot and fast content, and as such continued the cycle of Hyjal / Sunwell. The effect is in the disparity between two level of content on such a level that it is noticeable among the general population. So now I hear people complain that Marrowgar hits too hard, or Saurfang is tuned too high. Personally I love it. I love content that makes me think and re-evaluate my raider assignments. I love actually having to go through trash to get to that boss and fight mechanics that while they may not be new are interesting in the way they are combined and presented. I love going through cut scenes and NPC conversation and hearing the lore behind the raid zone and feeling like I’m in epic content. The difficulty will only go up as each wing and each new boss and it’s mechanics are unveiled, and personally I can’t wait. I’m also excited that the vast majority of my raiders feel the same way and not everyone is suffering from the Hyjal/Sunwell effect.

What about you guys? Have you noticed people complaining about the difficulty? Raiders or PUGs? How do you feel about the new content so far?

Until next time,

Sig

Images courtesy of Matticus, My own screenshots and mmo-champion

Matt Beats Game, Epic G String Drops

Matt Beats Game, Epic G String Drops

Er, did I say G String? I meant bow string.

thor

Here’s a few choices screenshots leading up to and including the kill.

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At this point, we’re down to 3 healers. Cheever just ate a real big Armageddon. Stupyd just died (Angel wings on the right). Luwin and Sthirteen are still alive. Both of whom are severely taxed and drained.

Thankfully, Lang (our MT) is still in good shape. Our Ret Paladin is still alive. We have enough momentum from our remaining players to carry over and finish him off. We started him today at 3:30 PM PST. We spent all night on him. It stretched on until around 8:50 PM. It was to be our last attempt regardless of what would happen. It always seems that on milestone bosses, it boils down to the last attempt.

I wonder why that is. I guess it’s desperation kicking in.

WoWScrnShot_110208_205926Here we are just a bare millisecond after we tip him over. The game registers the kill, my UI says he is still alive with 0.3k health remaining. The achievement system just kicks in.

I really want to take the rest of the week off. I doubt I’ll get that chance. My Guild leader was absent today. I entered the raid instance as raid leader. Clearly that must’ve affected the loot table.

Recount shows the DPS of the current fight. I didn’t set it to show overall. Caim was on orb duty as was Rackham. Big props to the two of them for handling the the Shields so well. Benchwarmer tank Hassai stepped in today and did a phenomenal job on acquiring and holding the Sinister Reflections.

We’d gotten to the point where we would bring Kil’Jaeden down consistently to phase 5.
Then down to below 20%.
Then down below 10%.
Then below 5%.

Until we finally punted him back him back into the ground where he belonged.

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Burning Crusade complete. 02/11/08.

By the way, if you notice, you’ll see that we only have one mage. We could definitely use another one heading into Wrath. 

Sadly, the realm forum thread I created has already been trolled. Why do people hate me so much? :(

Shameless Abuse of Publicity

Shameless Abuse of Publicity

Wynthea wants YOU

 

My beloved guild is currently 2/6 Sunwell.  Although our guild is medium-sized, our raiding core is pretty small. In fact, we have no spares for any of our classes. This is becoming problematic as we work on our progression through Sunwell – vacations, changing class schedules, work promotions, etc… all seem to interfere with raid time. And frequently, if two people can’t make it we’re left without an optimal set up. It’s frustrating to bring in alts or undergeared casual members for progression nights.

So what, you ask?

Well… my fearless Raid leader asked me to help with recruiting. So here I am, recruiting with the best resource I have: You!!

Although some classes are spread more thinly than others, we are looking for strong, full-time players of every class. We figure we have a spot for at least one of each, in a regular rotation.

A little about my guild:

  • We are <Them>, of Nazjatar-PvP-US. We raid M-Th, 6-10 Pacific Time. (Sundays are flexible.)
  • We are 2/6 Sunwell, with Felmyst making excellent progress.
  • We are relatively hardcore, but certainly know how to have a good time.
  • We use a modified Loot council, with DKP for tie breakers.
  • Thrall is our homeboy.

A little about what we want:

  • Experienced T6 Raiders, preferably AT LEAST 4/5 Hyjal and 7/9 BT. (We’d really rather have Sunwell-experience, but obviously we’ll gear up and train anyone that shows good promise.)
  • We’re considering taking on all classes.
  • Anyone we DO take will NOT BE A BENCH SPOT.
  • We’re looking for upwards of 80% attendance.
  • Your gear, spec, and attitude should be the best that you can make it. We are NOT looking to simply carry anyone through and give out free epics without effort on your part.

How you should apply:

The guild website is here.  Simply post an application with the format provided in our forums. You get bonus points if you put “Wyn sent me!” at the top of your post. (But don’t put it in the title.)

If you’re a Priest, you get to interview with Yours Truly. Yay!

 

Okay, shameless plug over – thanks for bearing with me. I hope to speak with you soon!

 

Luv,

Wyn

Spell Haste: Why You Don’t Need It

Spell Haste: Why You Don’t Need It

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Image courtesy of andrewatla

A few words on Spell Haste: I can tell that Spell Haste is going to be the next big epeen-measurement stat. There are a couple of reasons behind this, the biggest one being that Sunwell fights are so demanding that Spell Haste is indispensable to heal all the incoming damage. The thought process runs something like this: If it’s good enough for Sunwell, it’s good enough for everyone, right? In fact, the more you have, the better you must be, right? Nope. Of course not – if that were true, I wouldn’t have a reason to post.

Sorry, I missed a left turn at Albaquerque. What is Spell Haste? Simply put, Spell Haste allows you to cast the same spells – faster. 15.67 of Spell Haste is a 1% casting-time reduction. Haste can also decrease your global cooldown to a minimum of one second. (That’s at something like 475 – effectively haste-capped. At this point, I’m not entirely sure it’s even possible to stack up that much spell haste. It certainly isn’t possible without running your other stats into the ground.)

As cool (and useful in Sunwell) as Spell Haste is, there are a lot of reasons it just doesn’t live up to the hype:

Sloppy Healers

Once in a while, some misguided soul will compare healing a raid to playing whack-a-mole. Maybe it’s accurate for your first few raids – before you figure out much about game mechanics and set up your UI properly you might have no idea who was going to take damage next. This is probably why you see so many entry-level wws reports showing an abundance of Flash Heals; the healers just aren’t experienced enough to not play a reactive game. But good healers know their fights, know their raid-mates, and know their raid frames well enough to start a cast before damage happens. Giving those same, inexperienced healers spell haste before developing their other, more relevant stats first, simply reinforces that gut reaction o-m-g-he’s-gonna-die-i-gotta-toss-healz-nao mentality. Spell haste won’t make inexperienced (or bad, for that matter) healers better, but it will train them to think faster is better – when really, planning ahead and paying attention is better.

Opportunity Cost

Flash back to Economics class with me: Opportunity cost is the cost of resources that must be given up in order to obtain other resources. You’ll notice a pattern with pre-Sunwell Spell Haste items – to get the haste, you have to give up mana regen.

Exception: Brooch of Nature’s Mercy, which is worth farming Eagle Boss in ZA for its Spirit alone.

As you’re working your way through content, you have a lot to think about in terms of stat-balancing. Your +healing must be high enough to handle the incoming damage, you have to have enough regen to last the entire fight, and you have to have enough Stamina so that you can actually do some healing. If you’re not to the point where most of your slots have few upgrades, you probably don’t have stats to spare. If you think you do, you probably don’t have enough regen. These other stats are so important for T4, T5, and BT/Hyjal content that giving them up for a stat that is not required is foolish. Wait to stack Spell Haste until you really can afford the cost to your other metrics.

Running Out of Mana

One thing that I notice most often with premature Spell Haste stacking is that casters run out of mana.

Quickly.

Why?

Bear with me. (Warning: I like easy math, so I’m using VERY rounded numbers and assuming no Quartz, Lag or other fun stuff)

Say I have a 10k mana pool, and that each Greater Heal costs 500 mana. This means I can throw out 20 of them before I go out of mana. But, I also have 250 Mp5. Each of those 20 casts took 2.5 seconds – a total of 50 seconds.

So I accrued 10 full ticks of my Mp5 – an extra 2500 mana.

An extra 5 Heals. An extra 12.5 seconds of casting.

Which, thanks to the magic of Mp5, bought me ANOTHER 1094 mana.

ANOTHER 2 casts, ANOTHER 5 seconds – and I’m done. (Because that only bought me 250 mana, which added to the 94 I had left over isn’t enough to cast another heal for this experiment.)

So TOTAL, my 10k mana pool and 250 Mp5 bought me 27 heals over 67.5 seconds. (There is a FABULOUS mod called Dr. Damage that will show you all of this in a tool tip.)

If my G.Heal hits for 6k, I just healed for 162,000. But what if we trade regen for S.Haste? Okay, now I have a 10k mana pool, each heal costs 500 mana, so I still get to throw 20 of them before I go oom. But NOW, each of those 20 casts took TWO seconds. So NOW, it only took 40 seconds. Which means I only got 8 ticks of my Mp5, which is now 200. So I only got back 1600 mana. An extra 3 heals. An extra 6 seconds of casting. Only 300 mana back. Suddenly, I’m done. (Sure, I could wait 1 second, and buy a 24th heal but then i’m REALLY done – and it takes me longer to get back in the game, because my regen is less.) Total: 23 heals over 46 seconds. 138,000 healing. Down 24,000. Down by more than my Main Tank’s pool.

For what? To get that 138k out fast enough so that it’s overheals? Because in 95% of the raiding-game, you don’t need to throw ‘em out that fast to keep up with the damage, so they would be wasted. But you’re not chain-casting? You’d have more time to regen mana? Great. Then you really don’t need the Spell Haste.

Lack of Available Gear

Another reason not to fuss over Spell Haste too much is how little gear there really is out there with Spell Haste on it. WoWhead lists 29 Priest-friendly healing items with Spell Haste GAME WIDE. Of these, 16 drop in SW, 1 in Hyjal, 2 in BT, and two require Hearts of Darkness. So unless you’re very wealthy or your guild is working through advanced End-game, you have 8 options total – and a few of those are for the same slots!

Not Fully Developed as A Talentable Stat

As Priests, we have a couple of talents that reduce the casting time of certain spells. Could be divine fury, could be shortening up our Mass Dispel or Mana Burns. But, there is no far-reaching talent option to truly take advantage of this stat wholesale. Yet. I anticipate that WotLK will bring a lot more viability to this stat as a whole, with the introduction of talents like Improved Holy Concentration. The new content will probably require a decent amount of Spell Haste, but, as currently implemented, the fact that Spell Haste gains no help from any available builds further decreases the value of gaining it as compared to other stats – spirit or +heal – that DO gain multipliers from our available talent trees.

Sunwell fights are a holy-crap-did-you-see-that-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth kind of experience. I know a guy who, before the 2.4.3 nerfs, was spending nearly 1,000g on Mu’ru attempts PER NIGHT. (Scrolls, haste pots, elixirs, repairs, etc. He’s actually leveling an herbalist just to take the pressure off.) The best comparison is to old-school Naxxramus. You just don’t do Sunwell unless you’re really dedicated to the game, and long after WotLK comes out, veteran raiders will be swapping stories about how hardcore the fights were, and what a mind-bender it was.

Luv,
Wyn

Running a Sunwell Trash Farm Group

Running a Sunwell Trash Farm Group

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Sometimes you just need to unplug for a while. Right now, I’m sitting outside Starbucks having one of their new Vivanno drinks (opt for the banana chocolate if you can). That will explain the lateness of this post. I know most of my other blogging colleagues don’t do this, but there’s a certain pleasure one takes from just writing on a pad with a pen. There’s no emails to answer, no forums to supervise, or items to enchant. It’s a relaxing environment without a care in the world.

Sunwell trash is the latest trend among many 70′s and is labelled as the thing to do in the summer holidays. School is out for most people or they’re on summer vacation. Guilds are getting bored of the same rut that is Black Temple, Hyjal, Serpentshrine, and Tempest Keep’s Eye.

Why do it?

The potential for epic drops doing Sunwell Trash is enormous. There is a lot of money to be had. I’ve heard of instances where individuals can make over  900 gold from 2 hours of trash work. More on this later.

A items of note in terms of epic trash loot that Priests might be interested in:

  • Ring of Harmonic Beauty
  • Wand of Cleansing Light
  • Pattern: Robe of Eternal Light
  • Pattern: Hands of Eternal Light

Sunmotes will also sell for a nice sum as they’re the new Heart of Darkness.

Setting the Guild Rules

As with any kind of 25 man pickup raid, loot rules must be established first. I participated in a Sunwell trash group yesterday and here’s an example of how loot was handled.

BoP items could be rolled upon by anyone
BoEs are generally auctioned off

  • Crimson Spinel x 3 (100 // 10)
  • Sunmote x 1 (500 // 10)
  • Schematic: Powerheal 9000 Lens (2500 // 250)

I’ve noticed selling gems in stacks tend to go slightly higher then they would individually. Try selling them in packs of 3 or so if you get a sizeable quantity of one type.

How it works

There is no hard instance resetting of any kind. It does involve plenty of running in and out, however. The first robot patroller gets demolished followed by the two set of Blood Elves guarding the gates. There is a Dragonhawk that must stay alive. It needs to be repeatedly chain sheeped. A Druid is typically tasked with sheeping sleeping the Dragonhawk for the duration of the entire pull. The Elves get taken down, then the party makes a run for the door with the Dragonhawk CC’d as long as possible. Seconds later, the Dragonhawk wakes up and will respawn a set of Blood Elves.

Rinse and repeat.

I cannot stress the value of CCing enough times. I’ve died around 9 times in an hour because Mages and Druids failed at controlling their mobs. If you are a Mage or a Druid, you don’t have to DPS. All you need to do is stand there and spam your CC button.

Potential Risks

The nature of a pickup raid runs the risk that you can potentially get screwed. Another Sunwell Trash run I participated in the other night ended disappointingly when the raid leader and loot master disappeared offline after the 2 hours were up. You can’t exactly file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. There’s always going to be a chance that you will get screwed over (A shame too, because the Pattern: Robe of Eternal Light dropped).

There are ways to minimize the risk.

Ask around in the raid. See if anyone has run with the raid leader before. Establish how the individual’s reputation is. While you can’t always be sure about the legitimacy and honor of other players, information goes a long way. The more you know the better informed a decision you can make. With any luck, you won’t experience the same ordeal that I went through.

PTR Report: Mixing Healing and DPS Items

PTR Report

In the past, I’ve always preached and encouraged players to take loot that’s a minor upgrade for them if no one’s needed it. It appears Blizzard has listened. After checking out the changes on MMO Champion again, something struck me as odd. The best items in the game now appear to be from vendors instead of just as boss drops. The only way to acquire them is to upgrade pieces from boss kills with a Sun Mote.

Confusing? Let me try again.

Old School

You can skimp out on gear from Karazhan and then pick it up at Gruul’s. I’ve long often thought about different ways I could get the best loot faster. For example, in SSC, I would skip out on the T5 legs for 30+ DKP and save it for the T5 helm on Vashj. I’d let the competing classes around me get their leg tokens first because I figured once they all get it, sooner or later I’d get mine at an inexpensive rate. It makes sense because our Guild would kill Fathom Lord more often then they would Kill Vashj.

New School

There’s a bunch of awesome phat loot from Sunwell. However, not all of it’s immediately accessible. There’s an awesome leggings called Pantaloons of Calming Strife. As you can see, it’s meant for Priests. There’s also another pair of leggings called Pantaloons of Growing Strife. That pair is catered towards DPS.

But here’s the catch.

For DPS casters, you have to get a sunmote AND Pantaloons of Calming Strife first before you can go to a vendor and “upgrade” it. Surely those aren’t the only DPS caster pants in Sunwell. But as a player in a Guild using DKP, I can no longer enjoy my monopoly on healing cloth.

Oh well. C’est La Vie!