Light & Leafy

That was the defeat that wasn’t supposed to happen. See those 9 people up there?  Yea, they were the only ones alive since the second champion was dead. So why didn’t we just call it a wipe, instead of trudging on for an agonizing 15 minute battle?  (Did I mention all the pallies in the picture but one were holy?)

Trust. The raid leaders trusted their guildies to do something that seemed impossible. It started as a “Let’s give them a few more minutes; at least we can see some more of the fight.” to “Holy shit,  you guys can do it! Only 4 more left!” to *unintelligible screams and cheers*

A conversation last night got me to thinking:

How much do you trust your raid team?

So, my friends, what are your answers? Do you trust your team to the ends of the earth? Do you only trust certain members of your team? Why do you (or don’t you) trust the other players you’re spending 4-20 hours a week with?

Make a post, then link back to it in the comments. I’d really love to see how everyone feels when it comes to their teams.  Next Saturday, I’ll create a post with all the links to others’ blogs to see just how everyone feels about the teams their playing with =)

Happy writing-

Eda

After defeating the dreaded Lord Marrowgar, the next deranged lieutenant of the Lich King you will encounter is Lady Deathwhisper. The Lady is the supreme overseer of the Cult of the Damned, reveling in the power the Lich King appointed her after she elected to dispose of her corporeal form.

Lady Deathwhisper is similar to many lich fights we’ve seen in the past. She primarily uses frost and shadow spells, and like Kel’Thuzad, her first phase mostly involves being able to control the numerous adds that spawn on the sides of the room. Once your team is able to make it through the first phase and break her mana shield, you’re certain to take home some pretty purples.

Phase One

When you first encounter Lady Deathwhisper, she’ll be wrapped up in her mana barrier, a protective bubble that causes all damage done to eat away at her mana rather than her health. The dps must burn through her mana before she will become vulnerable. When the mana barrier is depleted, phase 2 begins.

During the first phase of Lady Deathwhisper’s fight, adds will spawn on a 60 second timer.  In 10 man, the adds will alternate which side of the room they spawn on, while in 25 man they will spawn from both sides every time.  There are two types of adds that can be spawned:

  • Cult Fanatics – Melee mobs that will occasionally buff themselves with Vampiric Might, increasing their damage done and healing themselves.
  • Cult Adherents – Caster mobs that will occasionally shield themselves with Shroud of the Occult, absorbing spell damage and making them immune to interrupts. The adherents will also cast Curse of Torpor, which will cause the victims’ spells to have an increased cool down of 15 seconds unless it is dispelled.

Meanwhile, Lady Deathwhisper will constantly be adding to the chaos. She will target random raid members and place a Death and Decay at their feet. All members within in the green goo of doom must run away the second they see it; at 4500 damage per second, it doesn’t take long to die. She also will cast random shadow bolts on the raid group every 2 seconds. They’re really just a nuisance to heal through rather than anything truly worrisome.

Dark Transformation will cause one of her Fanatics to turn into a giant, shirtless green blob that runs around wearing purples shorts. They do a bit more damage though, so it’s best to have a tank kite them around the room while the dps smush it to smithereens.

Animate dead will resurrect a fallen Fanatic or Adherent. Resurrected fanatics will need to be killed by casters in your group as there are immune to physical damage. Resurrected adherents are immune to spell damage and will need to be killed by hunters or melee dps. See, the kitteh and warriors ADHERE to their targets, while the mages and lockies…FAN AWAY from theirs?  Curse you, fanatics. Ur in my blogz, ruining my mnemonic devicez.

Dominate Mind: Oh, and did I mention in the 25 man version she mind controls? Yep. Get out the polymorph:baby penguin! Unless you’d rather have your little ball of fury arms warrior come up to your holy priest and turn her into a fail angel.

Once a wave of adds is finished, all dps should move to Deathwhisper to bring her mana barrier down until the next set of adds spawn.

For healing the first phase of this fight on 10 man, usually one healer is assigned to watching the tanks. The other 2 cover any incidental damage from her AoE spells, and help dps her mana shield when the raid feels stable.

On 25 man, the healing gets a bit complicated. I will give each tank their own personal healer, with a pally beaconing the tank in charge of kiting any Fanatics that are turned into the lumbering green giants. There is usually no room for healers to dps, as the death and decay and shadow bolts seem to take the majority of our respective mana pools. Keep healers near anyone capable with a taunt or a crowd control mechanic; you will usually be the first to catch the attention of your insane team mates, and as most classes will be able to one shot the squishiest of healers, it’s better to have someone around who can protect you when the giant purple gnome is running straight for you.  You’ll want to have someone (or multiple people) dedicated to removing the Curse of Torpor, or your healers will be in for a nasty surprise.

If you’re having trouble getting into phase 2, it might behoove you to set one of your dps (preferably a ranged so that she doesn’t cast death and decay within her footprint) to attack her throughout the fight. Another trick you might want to try is to cast heroism when her shield is at or below 20% and just burn through.

Phase 2

This is when Lady Deathwhisper comes to deal with you bothersome scrubs herself!  The adds will stop spawning, but Deathwhisper gains 4 more abilities: Touch of Insignificance, Summon Vengeful Shade, Frostbolt and Frostbolt Volley.

Touch of Insignificance is a debuff placed on your tanks that will reduce their threat by 20% for each stack (though sometimes an impatient druid or warrior might get a stack – that just makes them gleeful). This requires some tank switch-a-rooing, but all in all it just means that as healers, you need to know which tank is getting frostbolts to the face when.

Summon Vengeful Shade will…wait for it….SUMMON A VENGEFUL SHADE! Crazy idea, right? Basically the shade is a little purple ghostie you need to get away from or it will explode and hurt you and everyone around you. You can’t damage it, you can’t root it. You just need to run with your robes hiked up and shrieking like a little blood elf… *ahem*

Frostbolts are 2 second casts that can be interrupted. If not, prepare for your tank to take some pretty heavy damage.

Frostbolt Volley has a 4 second cast that should be interrupted as many times a possible, or count on your entire raid eating a 13k icicle simultaneously. Even if you’re a resto shaman, now’s a good time to have Wind Shear on your bars.

During phase two, the most important task for healers is to be aware of their surroundings. One Vengeful Shade exploding around the same time as a death and decay or uninterrupted Frostbolt Volley is pretty much a guarantee for you to be spending the rest of the fight on the floor, tasting the death and decay (hint: it does not taste like pistachio ice cream).  Also, because the tanks will probably have to move Deathwhisper out of death and decay occasionally, it’s imperative to watch where they’re leading her; the pillars on the top of her platform make excellent line-of-sight obstructions.

The healing assignments are likely to stay the same as phase one, as Deathwhisper really isn’t any harder on the tanks than her minions were.  Focusing Deathwhisper and having her cast bar visible can be a really helpful way to prepare for a Frostbolt Volley, allowing you to queue up any AoE heals before everyone has already gotten a snowball to the face. Mass dispel is also handy to have on hand to dispel the slowing debuff that lingers after the frost spells are cast.

The most important part of the Deathwhisper fight is being able to knock down her mana shield in a timely fashion; after that it’s a simple awareness game as her health isn’t very high and her damage can be very manageable.

Good luck and happy raiding!

My little not-so-little hunter and her bestest friend Desja, managed to make it out to Howling Fjord other night. But alas, it was time to cook dinner, so the little mage had to entertain herself while the hunter went off to the kitchen to make them some delicious baked potato soup. But a soup of that tastitude takes quite some time to make, even though the hunter came back every now and again to make sure her new puppy was still happy.  She found the puppy and the mage were in cahoots, determined to wreak havoc in the dwarven inn they were resting their tired heals!

Look at how Desja convinced Penelope to stand on the table so she could get on top of the inn’s lantern! The tricksy frost mage knew Hyacinthe couldn’t follow her on top of the candle!

When Hiacynthe came back from the sweltering kitchen, Desja was no where to be found! She searched at gnome level for nearly a quarter hour before Penelope barked cheerfully at the doorway. Hiacynthe slowly lifted her gaze much, much higher, and found the cheeky mage giggling from a top the doorway.

While Hiacynthe made her way back in to the kitchen to add the wild shoveltusk bacon to the bubbly stew, Desja craftily cast Invisibilty and snuck her way onto a shelf above the cutting block.

Desja got hit over the head multiple times with a frying pan when she scared the panties off of Hiacynthe. Luckily, Edainne was just a hop, skip, and jump away to bandage up Desja’s wounds.

And that, my dear friends, is what happens when you get an antsy gnome who asks her hunter to make dinner rather than just conjuring up some delicious strudel.

Love (n.): a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection

To understand where I’m going with this idea, I think it’s crucial for you to know the definition of the word love that I’m using. Also, it probably behooves you to know a bit about the person who’s writing this blog. **Also, I’m really not trying to be a creeper in this post. I’m just honestly expressing an emotion that usually gets set aside in video games**

I am a firm believer in love (of any kind, but specifically the above definition), and I am extremely affectionate. Remember when you were in kindergarten, and you met your first real friend? You were always excited to see her and unabashedly admitted you loved her and she was going to be your bestest friend forever.   I guess you could say I never grew out of that; people become my friends, no matter how quickly, and I love them.

To put it shortly, I’m a social, warm-and-fuzzy, chi-loving hippy.  I love to love people.  And, loving people, for me, is easy. By that I mean I am quickly able to care for someone I might have just met a few hours before.  It’s not automatic; I can be as judgmental and snarky as the next person, as exhibited last night when I sat fuming at a priest in my random dungeon. But, sooner or later everyone exposes themselves to be human, and that’s usually around the time I realize they are no less deserving of my care and kindness than anyone else (it turned out said priest didn’t speak English, and after some Spanish-Portuguese piecing together, I ended up being able to help him a little bit, but until I realized he spoke another language, I was completely annoyed at his lack of responses and general noobish play style).

How do you express love in a game?

I think, as a female gamer (omgawdnowai!), it can be hard to determine how to appropriately express your affections. I know in person I can always bake cookies or run up to greet my friend with a hug, or approach someone who’s looking miserable to make sure they’re ok.  As a young woman smaller than most large dogs, I can confidently say that a cartoon chipmunk looks more threatening than I. But that’s where the trouble in game begins.

In a game like WoW, other players can’t see me, and I can’t see other players. I can’t tell if my actions and words are making them uncomfortable or confused, and they can’t tell if I’m genuinely caring for them, or if I’m nothing more than the ever-present caricature of a female gamer that insists we’re all attention-starved emotional train wrecks that just want people to dote on them.  Then, there’s always the fear that your innocent love will be misinterpreted. You can be labeled as creepy, or maybe give people the wrong idea of the nature of your love. It’s a fine line to toe. And there seems to be an attitude amongst a lot of players that where it’s ok to criticize and berate players extensively, it’s not ok to love them. You don’t know them irl, after all.

Only, you do. Whatever you’re doing in game, however you’re using it to escape your normal life, it’s still YOUR LIFE. The people you meet are still REAL PEOPLE. And just because you can’t see someone every day face-to-face doesn’t mean you’re not really their friend.

So what’s an affectionate gal to do?

Usually, I break it down into two categories. For the people who I’ve known long enough to hope they’ve caught glimmers of my personality, I /love. For everyone else, from the random pug to the hordie who stood still so I could shower him with rose petals,  /hug will suffice. It lets them know I appreciate them without making people feel awkward about being emotionally involved with a stranger.

I think personal boundaries are where the essence of this rambling boils down to. My boundaries, in terms of honest affection, are few. I’m willing to be loved and to love. I know others whose personal bubbles are much thicker. And I’ve learned to respect that. But it doesn’t mean I care about them any less.

Looking back, I wish I had thought about this post during the Love is in the Air festivities. It would have fit in so nicely with the themes floating around the blogosphere. Unfortunately, it didn’t really hit me until this weekend.  I met a bunch of really new, and awesome, people in the WoW community, and I wanted to find some way to express my gratitude and joy in meeting them, but without making myself out to being the crazy chick who can’t find her way out of the social paper bag.

I guess I’ll end this with a proposition: if you have ever cared about you’ve met through game, even if it was in one Sunwell Achievement pug, let them know.  Even if it’s just a small emote. Everyone, I think, feels good knowing that someone out there likes them.

So, to anyone reading this, I ❤ you. Yes. You. You are a friend, a guildie, a new acquaintance. And you are loved and appreciated. It might not be the strongest love of a thousand suns that will be infinite and everlasting. But somebody, even if I’m just a relative stranger, cares about you.  And I’m willing to be honest about it because from what I’ve seen in the WoW community is that people are generally good and ready to care about one another.  And that kind of gives me hope for the rest of the world.

I may or may not have been sucked into twitter over this past weekend.

>.>

Alright, that was kind of an obvious fib. It’s not my fault that there were so many new people to meet and coo over!

If you’re on twitter, and I didn’t know it yet, say hi to me @LightandLeafy.

And because I’m a blogger, and therefore slightly (very?) egocentric, I signed up for a formspring.me account so people could get to know me better. Answering random questions is just a fun idea!

So, if you’re as bored at work as I am and have some burning question you’re dying to ask me, click here =)

Ok, enough with the self-promotion. Time to get back to the REAL post I was writing.

*waves shyly*

*shuffles back to work*

Last week I wrote a post looking at the lower spire of Ice Crown Citadel from the perspective of a holy priest who occasionally likes to be discipline. Now, because I promised, here are some tricks and tidbits I’ve picked up while healing on Sairyn and Fluffikins. Again, if there are any other tricks you can think of (and I’m sure you can!), please post something in the comments! I’m still learning the in’s and out’s of healing with leaves, so any other suggestions are highly welcomed!  For organization’s sake, each fight follows the format of what both shamans and druids can do, then druid specific tips, then shaman specific tips. Oy vey.

The Trash to Lord Marrowgar

Like I’ve mentioned before, the trash to Marrowgar is pretty simplistic, but there’s always something you can do to make these fifteen minutes of rep go smoothly

Hotting up the melee. It’s kind of like being a priest spreading out the renew love. Only it’s better on a druid because you can toss around hots faster than those shiny necklaces at Mardi Gras. I swear, the first few times I did the trash in ICC I didn’t even realize the packs of skeletons exploded because the druid had the melee so hotted up. Usually I go with a rejuv and 1 to 2 stacks of lifebloom, depending on how many melee dps I have in the group.

Or, you can just chain heal. No matter how hot your healers may be (oh oh, I went there!), normally your group will want to make sure each of the exploders die individually. I have my chain heal set up as a mouse over macro so that I can keep an eye on the current target’s health, with my trigger finger ready to go as soon as the skelly’s health gets to about 10%.

Interrupts! Sure, you can chain spam shackle undead to interrupt the Nerubian’s from casting their dark binding spell. But what if you have no priests?! The heals shouldn’t be so demanding that you can’t take your eyes away from grid/vuhdoo/x-perl for a moment to catch a interrupt or two. I feel a lot of the time we forget moves that don’t come into play in our day-to-day instancing/grinding. Now’s the time to work on your Wind Shear muscle memories.

Instant casts are teh best! By this point, we know the big guys will try to interrupt our spells. To those big guys I say, eat my instant casts! The only sure fire way to not be locked out if you can’t be bothered to pay attention to your boss timer warnings is to cast spells that can’t be interrupted.

Lord Marrowgar

Keep a rejuv/riptide on yourself. It’s common knowledge that Marrowgar has a crush on my druid. So, every time I see that his bone spike is coming off cool down, I plan ahead to have a rejuv on myself. Worst case scenario is that I did a bit of over healing. Best case is that the other healers don’t need to worry so much about their limp tree impaled next to Marrowgar’s butt. I’ve started to do the same with Sairyn’s riptide just in case Marrowgar decides that draenei are just as cute.

Stick to single target healing. It gets a little messier here. I admit freely that maybe my raid teams are just not as coordinated as others’. If you all manage to stay pretty close together during the whirlwind phase, please feel free to skip this and move on. If your team also runs around like litter of kittens during bath time, this might bear mentioning. On fights where everyone is taking damage, it’s instinctual to cast one spell to heal them all. Your intention is admirable, but the reality is that even if you have 5 people within your heal radius, it is unlikely they are going to be close enough to one another to bounce a chain heal all 4 times or to receive the splash of a wild growth. Generally is just simpler and more effective to hit each individual player with a quick heal and be done with it.

Guess what has the same length cool down as BOOONEEEE STORMMMMM? BARRKKK SKINNN! Not quite as epic as I had hoped. Oh well. You can still pop your skin at the beginning of his whirlwind phase in order to get safely away from his twirling axe. And it’ll be back up and ready to use the next time Marrowgar decides to bring out his inner ballerina.

Tanks aren’t the only ones who can use Earth Shield. Yes, you’ll want to keep it on one (generally the squishier tank) while Marrowgar is standing in place and saberlashing, but think of where it could be most effective during his whirlwind phase. Is there a certain dps who seems to lag a bit getting out of the way of the cold flames? Or a clothie who always gets caught behind one of the candelabras? Maybe they would be better candidates for a little earthy loving than the tanks with stacked armor and quick cold flame reflexes.

Totems are tasty.   Choosing the right totem is a topic for an entire post, but I’ll share 2 I love for this fight as a resto shaman: Frost Resistance and Stoneskin. Now, the way I see it is this: you can either use both totems throughout the fight, or you can plan ahead a little bit and set up 2 of your totem calls – one for the stationary phase and one for the whirlwind phase. Since no one’s really doing much damage during the whirlwind phase, there’s no reason to keep Flame Tongue and Strength of Earth down.  Use your second call to give your raid a little extra frost resistance and armor until Marrowgar settles down again!

Lady Deathwhisper

Curses are the most important thing ever! Both shamans and druids can remove curses. And the curse of torpor is no exception. Essentially, it will increase the cool down of spells cast by the inflicted player. Imagine my surprise when my regrowth had a cool down associated with it. If you are cursed at the same time as another player, be sure to remove your own first. If there are multiple players cursed, follow a hierarchy: healers then tanks then dps.

Hex and Entangling Roots can be used in the 25 man version of the fight. If you see a mind control running towards you, a hex can be a great way of preventing your team mate from smiting you into oblivion. Entangling roots are also a useful tool, but try to root your rather large friend somewhere away from other players so she doesn’t start slapping people around.

Purge, baby, purge! Kind of like how I mentioned priests could dispel the buffs from the purple short wearing monstrosities, only with purge! I think it might be a little harder for restos, though, because purge isn’t generally a spell I expect to be using (then again, I rarely pvp). Just a friendly reminder though: if you have a mage, give him a little time to steal the buff before you purge it. If he still hasn’t and it’s been a good 5 seconds, it’s probably a good idea to remove it before you tank ends up sprawled out on the floor.

Use heroism/blood lust when you’re on the verge of breaking her mana shield. You have 24 seconds until the next set of adds, and Lady’s mana shield is sitting around 16%. Now is the time to heroism and pop cooldowns to help you easily transition into her second phase. Don’t worry about wasting it on the shield and not on the Lady herself; if you’ve made it to phase two, you’re likely to succeed.

Frost resistance is great for phase two. If you have a paladin, an aura is wonderful to help mitigate the damage her aoe frost bolt does to your group. Luckily, you don’t need a pally to provide the resistance if you don’t happen to have one kicking around. Drop a totem, forgo the flame tongue buff, and be happy when you’re chain healing through the frost damage that people aren’t getting hurt more.

All hands on the poop deck! (hehe I wrote poop in my blog. I have the mentality of a 4 year old. /shame)

If you’re on the main boat, stand near the edge so you can heal the jumping tank as he careens towards your ship. If you’re set to be standing on one boat anyways, it pays to be somewhere you can reach both tanks. You’ll be able to spam heals on the tank who’s getting axes chucked at him as he tries to safely land back on your ship.

Trees should probably stay on the main boat. Ok, maybe I always turn into a bear so I can have the rocket butt bear. But generally speaking, I don’t bother flying over from one boat to the next. I stay on the edge of our boat to help heal the tank handling Saurfang, but unless it’s dire, I refuse to jump from one boat to the next because the jumps always switch me out of tree form. It gets expensive after awhile, and for whatever reason it lags me to hell when I’m on the way down. It’s just easier, and a bit safer, if I bounce (rocket-free) around the deck of one ship.

Honestly, shamans, I don’t have much else for you here. Sorry. *averts gaze bashfully*

DBS (Does Bake Snickerdoodles? Hrm not quite right. I need to work on effeminizing Saurfang’s abbreviation).

Healing through Marks. Typically, I assign one healer per mark. There’s not too much you can do to get through the damage except to time your cool downs to the duration of the fight, and focus on your assigned target. Marked players will require heavy healing, and even the slightest distraction could mean death. On my druid, I normally roll all of my hots, followed by nourish spam and swift mend on cool down. On my shaman, marked characters get my earthshield and lesser healing wave spam. Sometimes, if the mark happens to be near another player, I will bounce a chain heal off of him to help keep the raid topped off. On both characters, I save nature’s swiftness for that oh-dear-lord moment that usually occurs near the end of the fight.

Helping your ranged dps, one root at a time. I found that healing really wasn’t intense the first half of this fight, no matter which character I was on. So, I took to keeping my druid in her caster form to help root the blood beasts, buying the ranged dps a little more time for kiting the adds. You’ll just need to be careful to make sure no one is in melee range while the add is rooted, or the beastie will turn to nomnom on your friend.

Rawr! I’mma big scary bear! If you’re confident, you can shift into bear form and taunt a blood beast to you to get it away from the tanks and melee. Because you’re not normally a bear, it’ll be easy for the ranged dps to pull the beast off of you. You can also use this in an emergency if you see a beast ready to chow down on someone in range. If you do taunt the blood beast though, remember to start running away. It’s not doing your team much good if you’re allowing yourself to become a snack to an overgrown blood worm.  This can also be a useful strategy if you’re running with a very low amount of ranged dps.

Let’s talk about rebirth: don’t use it if you don’t know how they died. If a person died because of a Mark of the Fallen Champion, it’s pointless to battle rez them. They’ll only come back to life with the debuff again, and likely die to the amount of damage done in the seconds it would normally take to fill their life bar. This means Saurfang gains an additional 5% of his health back, and it’s a risk that’s usually not reasonable to take. There is an alternate strategy using a paladin that I’ve heard rumor of, but as I have not tried this myself, I’d rather not recommend it to any of you. If you’ve heard anything about the divine intervention strategy, I’d love to know if it was actually a plausible strategy or not.

More totem talk? Right, this probably seems like a no-brainer. But I want to remind you that you can use Earthbind totem to control the blood beasts, much like a druid’s entangling roots.  I recommend placing the totem between the stairs and your kiting dps so that it likely will not be trapped anywhere near something it can gnaw on (i.e. your teammates).

So, I believe I’ve covered everything I’ve thought of in the last few weeks. Clearly, I don’t have as many tips for my shaman friends as I do for my trees, but I’m  hoping to see more Sairyn action in the upcoming weeks, and if I find any new tricks, I’ll be sure to update. Also, apologies for the wall-o-text. I tried to cut it up a bit for the sake of space, and that plan backfired on me.

Way back when I started playing WoW, before I was serious about it, Lisa Poisso and Amanda Dean wrote a FABULOUS column at WoW-Insider called “Well Fed Buff” giving players a chance to experiment with their out-of-game playing skills. The column has been inactive for about 2 years now, but I loved it so much I’m trying to recreate it here. While the style of the post is their idea (because I loved it so much), the writing and the recipe are my own (I honestly don’t know if they ever made a post about Banana Bread).

I  made a loaf this morning to console myself over the lack of Toxic Wasteling (80 tries and I didn’t even see it drop…). Rather than write a post QQ’ing about drop rates, I felt it would be better to make a delicious treat and share it with you! I promise I’ll load a picture as soon as my digital camera stops hating my p.c. =(

Pre-Raid Info
Soft Banana Bread is something you’ve probably looted off zombie trolls in Zul’Farrak and grimy Dark Iron Dwarves in Uldaman. Trust me when I say it’s way better coming out of a piping hot oven than a dirty pocket.

The Raid Team

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups sliced bananas (about 3 large, ripe bananas will do, though you can add one more for extra ‘nana goodness)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste

The Strat

1. Buff The Raid Group Heat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan
2. Melee Start to DPS Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Ranged Start to DPS Cream together the brown sugar and butter (i.e. mix until it creates a creamy spread). In a separate large bowl, mash banana slices until smooth with a fork or potato masher if you have one. Add the brown sugar mixture, eggs and vanilla extract to the bananas.
4. Everyone Stack Up! Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until everything is moist.
5. Preparing for Phase 2 Pour the dough into the loaf pan, making sure to clean up any spills on the side. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with cinnamon
6. Full Out DPS Bake for an hour or so, or until a knife/toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
7. Distributing Loot Allow the bread to cool on a rack for about 5 minutes or so, then slice. Best served still warm. Heats up well in a toaster oven, or in the microwave with a piece of damp paper towel covering it.

Hardmode Achievement: “Oh How Sweet It Is!”
If activated, chocolate chip adds will spawn as everyone is stacking up before phase 2. Fold the chips into the dough and then pour into the loaf pan.
This hardmode comes with extra loot: Lots of SmilesHugs from Small ChildrenHugs from Adults That Enjoy The Same Food As Small Children

Hardmode Achievement: “A Little Bit Nutty”
If activated, chopped nut adds will spawn as everyone is stack up before phase 2. Fold the nuts into the dough and then pour into the loaf pan.
This hardmode has the same extra loot as above.

Please note, an experienced raid team can complete both hardmodes at the same time, but that is at the discretion of the raid leaders.

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By now, all my healers except poor little Nesme have seen the Lower Spire of Ice Crown Citadel (don’t feel too bad for her, though, since she did just get Quel’Delar).   I think it attests to the ability of Blizzard to create a raid where I’m not snoozing until I get to the last half of the instance (ToC, I’m looking at you. *evil glare*).

Along the way, I’ve managed to pick up some tricks that maybe will help someone else out there conquer the lower half of ICC. I was going to do this in one great gigantic post, but I figured that would create a wall of text so large it would put some of my verbose guildies to shame. So, today will be priests (of both the discipline and holy nature, as I’ve *gasp* raided the first 4 bosses as both) and next time we’ll look at what I’ve found as helpful as a druid and a shaman. Most of you have probably already figured this stuff out, but maybe you’ll be able to apply some of the tricks to other Blizzard encounters that are similar!

Marrowgar’s Trash

The trash leading up to Marrowgar is pretty simple but you can make it even simpler on your healer friends!

The Dead skeleton duders that usually come in packs of 4 or 5 explode upon death; your tanks don’t really feel the pain, but your melee sure will. I like shielding all the kittehs, rogues, enhancement shamans, warriors, and dinosaurs in my raid when I got my bubbles going on (ret pallies don’t exist). Otherwise, I make sure to blanket them with soft fuzzy renews before the first dies. Speaking of those guys, I always make sure that I have a Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit ready for my bladestorming gnome-turned taunka or rawr!cat. Because the only thing worse than a dps pulling aggro is a dps splattered on the floor.

There are 3 pulls, all in the middle of each room, with 2 Nerubian casters. They can be shackled. Remember that? You probably haven’t had it on your spell bar since Burning Crusade, I know.  But trust me when I say that those pulls go so much smoother when you don’t have to turn every two second to smite the tree out of his cocoon. Another thing about shackle: just because people keep breaking it doesn’t mean you should stop casting it. Shackles will interrupt the Nerubian when it’s casting the web wrap or dark mending spells. And a non-healing spider is a good thing.

The only thing left are the giants that come out roaring when someone steps on their traps. Guardian spirit can be useful when cast immediately on the tank to keep him in tippytoppy shape until the other tank gets there to share the saber lashes. Other than that, be grateful that you have all those neat instant cast spells and try ever so hard not to get interrupted. Unless you like wanding down big bone giant, which is very much a possibility.

The trash in here is pretty easy, though if you ever feel overwhelmed remember that you can always sprint back to Light’s Hammer and everything will leash back. If you ARE running away, make sure that you keep yourself protected with bubbles or wings or whatever else you have in your arsenal.  If you’re really bored, you could always have a healthy competition with the other healers to see which of you does the most dps. My bets are on the aggressive penance priest.

Lord Marrowgar

I’ll admit, it took us a bit of time to really get Lord Marrowgar down. It can be hard to get used to switching gears between every phase, but you’ll certainly get the hang of it!

If you’re not standing in his hit box, do it! Now! Standing with melee isn’t cheating; it’s simply making your life easier by not having to dodge each of his flame breaths. Plus there’s the bonus of your bonespike being quickly taken care of by all those nearby melee dps! It’s their payment for having you always saving their aggro-pulling behinds.

During the BOOONNEEEE STORRRMMMM phase, bubble yourself before you start running away. Chances are you’ll get hit for a tick or two of his giant whirlwind, but even on 25 man this can be easily mitigated by a bubble. Also, tossing renews/bubbles out like they were rice at a wedding will help cover raid heals until you can find a spot far enough away from the twirling skeleton of doom and his blue flame patches to triage those who need immediate attention.

The only other thing I can think of, and this seems much more pivotal on 25 man than on 10, is to keep guardian spirit or pain suppression up on a designated tank as often as you can. They really do take quite the beating while everyone else gets to stand still.  And if they’re moving out of Cold Flame constantly, the more extra healing they receive, the better the attempt is sure to go.

Lady Deathwhisper

I love mana burning her during this encounter. Usually, we don’t need me to do this anymore, but when we were first starting ICC, it’s seemed to help tons to mana-burn her while the dps were chasing down adds. I’m not sure if it reduces her mana with both the burn and the little bit of damage the spell does as well, but it’s definitely worth a shot if you’re feeling a bit tight on dps.

Dispel is your friend. Those the green horrors romping around in purple shorts? If you’re worried about your kiting tank getting smoshed by them, you can always dispel their buff. This is incredibly helpful when you don’t happen to have a mage to spell steal or a shaman to purge. Sometimes I forget that a priest’s dispel is both offensive and defensive.  Usually, I’ll tab target my way through adds to make sure none of those beasties is doing more damage than it has to.

The last thing I have to say about Deathwhisper is that if your tanks are kiting her on her platform away from the death and decay puddles and the pink ghosties, I’d recommend jumping up there with them so there are no line-of- site issues if they duck behind a pillar. Otherwise, suggest having them come down her front stairs so you have the majority of the room to work with.

Gunship AHOY!

I think the gunship battle is my favorite fight in the lower half. And if you ever get the chance to be in one of the cannons, go for it! It’s incredibly fun and a really good way to relax mid-raid if you’re finding yourself stressed.

Rocket butt keybind! I always happen to jump over to the other boat. I find it safer to have someone there just in case people beating on the battle mage start getting hurt. I usually place my rocket pack on my bars wherever I have my abolish disease keybound; you won’t use that spell at all during the fight, so I find that’s the easiest one to replace and remember to use. Using the keybind will allow you to fly over there sooner, rather than having to click on the shirt, and then click on the placement of the landing point. Right before I land (either on the Horde’s ship or back on my own), I’ll cast a bubble and a prayer of mending on myself. It helps negate the damage you take upon landing. One other note about landing – when you land on the opposite boat, try your hardest to land on top of some of the axe-throwers in the front row (Sorry,  I don’t know what the Horde equivalent is.) so that you can bring their health down a bit lower.

Keeping up the other boat’s tank. The opposite faction’s leader will be hitting his tank quite hard, especially as time goes on. I like keeping a renew and either a guardian spirit or pain suppression up on that tank when I can. Stacking up serendipity can also be useful to get out lickity-split greater heals (shorter than the cast time of a flash heal!) if Saurfang/Muradin are stacking their buffs really high. Also, since you’re leaving the ship earlier than your tank, it’s helpful to have a few instant casts ready to go so that you can heal him as you’re flying through the air.

Deathbringer Saurfang

Discipline priests were just too overpowered for this fight, with their bubbles of awesomeness preventing DBS from gaining any blood power. So, Blizzard (rightfully) scaled back the effect bubbles have on DBS’s blood power bar. I usually heal this fight as discipline anyways, but that’s just because this fight is still primarily all predictable damage that you can mitigate.

Using pain suppression on the tanks when the Blood Beasts appear is really helpful. Some tanks, especially, paladins, can generate enormous amounts of threat on nearby targets without even trying. Tossing pain suppression on the tank will help decrease their threat on the blood beasts, allowing the dps who are going to kite them pull them away more easily.

Bubble as much of the range as you can right before a blood nova. On 25 man, there is less room for everyone to spread out, making it much likelier that more than one person will get hit by the blood nova. To make this easier to heal through, mitigate as much of the outgoing damage as you can by peppering the raid with bubbles!

Remember, Divine Aegis and your normal bubble will both absorb damage. I usually will hit someone with Blood Boil with a shield and then with a heal that can proc divine aegis so they’ll absorb the majority of the damage, rather that just what the bubble would absorb on it’s own.

Binding heal is your bestest friend. Normally, this is a heal I usually forget to mention. It’s second nature in my own play style, but I never remember it when I’m talking to others. Binding heal just might save your life if you have a Mark of the Fallen Champion. By using it to heal yourself at the same time as another, it helps you keep yourself alive through a thoroughly wicked debuff.  Guardian Spirit is also a very good spell to keep on players who have Marks on them as it will increase the healing done to them as well as prevent them from becoming Deathbringer’s snack.

I think that concludes my priestly thoughts on the first 4 bosses. I’ll try to get some druid and shaman tips up by the beginning of next week. Since I don’t happen to have any experience pallydining it up in the Citadel, be sure to check out Cel’s advice for holy paladins at I Like Bubbles! And if you’re a priesty who has any other advice or tricks for the first wing of ICC, please share in the comments or on your own blog!

Happy weekend, all!!!

/hug

Living on the coast in Southern New England generally exposes you to three types of snow: fluffy, sludgy, and Hallmark calendar perfect. Sludgy is the most common, with snow melting when it hits the ground and mixing with the mud and city grime to create a thoroughly icky experience. Fluffy snow usually happens in the beginning of the winter, with huge flake floating through the sky, but melting before they turn anything into sludge.  And the Hallmark snow? Well, it’s rare, but when it happens it turns everything into the cozy scenes you can find on most Christmas cards.

The only problem with that perfect looking snow is that it creates treacherous driving conditions.  Take yesterday afternoon, for example. A storm that was supposed to hit us the night before moved much slower than the forecasts had predicted. I bolted out of my office as soon as I saw that the giant flakes were sticking to the roads and didn’t show any signs of slowing down.  I managed to get home before it got really intense (dumping a good 7 inches).  While driving home, I did what I normally do on Tuesday commutes: I made a mental checklist of what I need to do before raid time. I was being continually interrupted, however, by the need to pay attention to my surroundings. Driving in the snow is a lot different, I find, that driving in any other kind of weather.

And that’s when it hit me like a slushy snowball to the face! Driving in the snow is actually a lot like raiding. And to drive successfully in the snow, you really need to remember a few simple rules:

1. Your car has more than one gear. And so does your raid team.  Some encounters you can rush in all willy-nilly and still manage to emerge unscathed. Others, you need to shift into low and slowly make your way through. As a great driver (or raid leader), you know which roads are safe and which need some extra attention.

2. Go the same speed as traffic.  Driving faster or much slower than everyone around you is a recipe for creating an accident, especially when visibility is poor.  Pushing your friends to go faster than they can may make them feel uncomfortable, especially if they’re having a rough time learning the fight. On the other hand, you really don’t want to spend 20 minutes explaining the precise details of each fight to a team of veterans who have all already experienced it.

3. The on and off ramps are the 2nd most dangerous part of your trip. Issues always seem to abound at the beginning and end of raids. There are too many people signed up, there are too few people signed up, there are problems with the loot system, there are problems with the strategy. Chances are, if you’re going to have a blowout, it’ll be when emotions are riding high (usually at the frustration of a late start or lack of people or after people have been wiping repeatedly).  The best way to avoid an accident, at least that I’ve found, is to always approach the beginning and ends of raids cheerfully and patiently.

4. The most dangerous part of your trip is your driveway. The reason driveways and back-roads are usually so hairy to travel in the winter is because they simply don’t see as much traffic as the main roads. They can be plowed just as often, but without the friction of tires melting the last bits of snow off the road, they’ll still feel 10 times worse to drive. In my mind, these are the fights your team barely sees  because you only get to them at the very end of the raid night. Because of the limited attempts you squeeze in each week, the encounters begin to feel impossible to defeat. And this is where I become grateful for alternate routes. Taking out farmed content is great for gear and badges, but when your team is crunched for time, it’s sometimes helpful to shake up the routine a bit and focus more on fights you normally leave aside for later.

5. Take corners slowly. Actually, I mean this literally in raids too. Funny example: A bunch of us went into Sunwell for the first time, and seeing as we were all level 80 BA’s, we could totally handle anything.   We were bouncing around, most of us not knowing where the hell we were going,  when we got to this room where the path spilt, kind of like the hallways leading to Lady Deathwhisper after Lord Marrowgar , but you could also just jump down into the lower part of the room blindly. A hunter decided he’d just go for it, thinking at worse there’d be a pack of 70 mobs he’d have to solo. He landed on top of the twins and got the first conflagration debuff while everyone was still grouped together. We downed them, but everyone but a tank, a ret pally and a tree were dead by the time we were looking at the loot.

6. There’s always a chance that underneath that fluffy snow is black ice. Just because you have an encounter on farm doesn’t mean it’s time to get sloppy. Raids are full of encounters that can make the RNG monster rear its ugly head and send you fishtailing into a snow bank.  Sure, Lady Deathwhisper is easy…until all of your healers are blacked out because no one took the time to dispel curses. And gunship is not a loot piñata when someone has disconnected while still on the horde’s ship, causing Saurfang Sr. to stack 19 of his special buff that you then have to heal a tank through.

7. Stay calm. I think this is the most important rule to follow. Tensing your shoulders and your neck and gripping on the steering wheel for dear life will not make you feel any calmer. In fact, you’re probably just contributing to your own panic. Raids work similarly; if you’re frustrated and you act upon your frustration, you’re going to influence the other team members. So relax, take a deep breath, and remember eventually you’re going to get home safe and sound.

I have a feeling all the sparkly dust will probably be melted by this weekend. But maybe I’ll stop driving long enough to appreciate the frost covered branches and saronite architecture.

Last week, I decided a break from WoW (and especially raiding) was in order. The lag had gotten so bad that even playing around on my hunter (who has now made it out to Hellfire Peninsula with Osy’s adorable gnome) was impossible. Thankfully, those issues have been resolved on Terenas, but I still felt a bit worn out raiding most nights. So I found this website (it’s safe, I promise), and after downloading and tinkering with DosBox (well, after Osy tinkered with DosBox – it’s pretty user friendly –like you-drag-the-game-onto-the-program-and-you-play friendly -unless you have an LCD monitor like I do. Then,  I hope you know more about DosBox than I do or can, you know, read a wiki and follow instructions), I played some really, really old games. Like SimCity old.

I think my main grievances are lack of commitment and the feeling like my 25 man team has hit a wall. It wouldn’t be so bad if that wall was not Festergut. But what it boils down to is that we simply don’t have enough DPS to meet the enrage timer (according to some math I did, we’d have to average about 7k dps per dps player, and we’re not close to that yet).

I get frustrated when I can’t fix something for my team. I really don’t know much about dps, having really only played healers, and consequently, I don’t know how to get my team to crank out bigger numbers when they’re all seemingly following their ideal rotations. Maybe the ranged isn’t spread out enough? Maybe we were range-heavy the last time we tried?

10 mans are going well though, and usually cheer me up enough to go back into 25 man with an optimistic outlook. My druid’s team is getting progressively more cohesive (which I’m continually impressed with because before 2 weeks ago we were essentially just a group of strangers), and my priest’s team finally got Valithria down (I’m going to get around to posting suggestions for that fight, even though I kind of feel like we cheated because we brought a 4th healer in and single-tanked the waves of trash).  The priest’s team always feels like a challenge though. It seems like we can’t always get the same 10 people, though we always are playing with close friends and usually 8/10 are consistent.  We’re super close, and we play exceedingly well together, but actually finding a time to meet is like pulling teeth. From a lion. Who may or may not be cranky. And who definitely hasn’t been given any nitrous oxide.

I wonder if I’m the only one who’s not excited for Cataclysm yet. I mean, I’ll be plenty excited when I get to create a Worgen rogue and level through all the new content. And I’ll be plenty excited to revisit my healers and re-figure out how everything pieces together. But I’m not excited YET.  I know it’s a ways away, but I secretly fear I’m never going to see the end of this expansion. That for some reason or another I’ll never get the closure I’m longing for in Arthas’ storyline. Lore is part of the reason this game is so fulfilling for me; to be so involved, and so close to true end-game progression (and lore progression) , it would be really disappointing for me to have to find video of the conclusion of Wrath of the Lich King rather than experience it first hand.

I don’t want to jump ahead to Deathwing and speculating about the new world order before I finish what I’ve started.

I can’t get too pessimistic though. I know deep down that my teams will conquer the Lich King (even if it’s not zomg-rite-nao!). And our 25 man’s have just been getting stronger and stronger. We’ll be able to smush Festergut someday, even if we need to conquer other encounters first.  We’ve had these roadblocks before (Razorscale wipes for 3 weeks? Why, yes I remember that!)

Oh, and the trash after Valithria? That made me happier than a peanut-butter and banana and nutella sandwich.  And that’s a pretty happy sammich.  I would know. I made them for lunch during our Saturday alt raid.

*Addendum: OHMAIGAWD I WANT AN OOZLING FROM THE HOLIDAY BOSSES NAO!!!!! That is all.*

PS. Both my 10 mans got the weekly quest to kill Festergut and Rotface. Both my 10 mans one shotted Rotface (who we attempted first because we figured we’d be more likely to wipe on him) and wiped on Festergut.  The first group had vomit on the melee group because we only had 3 ranged situated around the room and one died because he didn’t get all the spore debuffs he needed (I had offered to stand out so we’d have a backup range, but people said that was unnecessary and dangerous….) . The second group, and this was shitty, wiped around 25% because the second tank’s taunt wasn’t working and Osy blew up the entire raid. I felt horrible for the second tank because it was pretty clear that he was beating himself up over it.  All in all though, I had to laugh, because we never wipe on Festergut.  Talk about performance anxiety.

PSS. I do this sometimes on my guild forums, but I might MIGHT start publishing recipes for foods you find in game. I was motivated by this because my office friend and I have decided the 18th of every month is National Cupcake Day (we found like 5 different sites all claiming a different month, but interestingly the same numerical day, as National cupcake day). So the first recipe will probably be for Tasty Cupcakes. If what I make for Thursday is tasty. Which it might not be. Who knows?

/hugs for listening to my rants

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