Tactics Schmactics

Time spent on Onyxia attunement quest chain: about 4 hours (maybe a little more)

Time spent in meeting spot before traveling to Onyxia’s lair: 45 minutes

Time spent taking the obligatory group photos outside the lair: 5 minutes.

Time spent explaining the Onyxia fight to the group, and getting ready for attempt #1: 10 minutes.

The Onyxia fight: Less than ten minutes.

We really overprepared.

We had 19 folks keyed for Onyxia that assembled in Bloodhoof Village before the raid.  Part of the reason for meeting here was that the whole thing was pitched as an RP event, and this was where the mandate to kill Onyxia was announced to us at a guild meeting.  We congregated by the bonfire and some fire resist gear bought in the AH was distributed.  There were also fire resist potions, fish that would give magic resistance, and stuff like that.  Some people even went to the trouble of crafting new fire resist gear (“I can make two more pieces for myself if someone gives me six primals and two pieces of crystal infused leather…”).  It did seem to go a little overboard, given the number of us that there were, and the fact that all of us were level 70.  Still, none of us had seen this encounter before and we were all pretty excited.  We just couldn’t help ourselves.

After everyone was ready, we traveled to Onyxia’s Lair via Orgrimmar, which was sort of the long way, but our flock of wyverns swooping over Durotar was an awesome sight.  When we arrived at the lair, we took a bunch of group photos, everyone took their final afk break, and in we went!

There were two pulls before Onyxia, and they posed no danger to us.  The mobs were dead before the folks at the back of the pack even got to them.  I don’t think I even managed to get my cat to the mobs before they died, they were downed that quickly!  Even so, filing in with 18 other people was really amazing… I can imagine how exciting this was for 40 level 60’s.

It was really cool walking down the corridor and seeing Onyxia sleeping in her lair.  We all stood there looking down at her for about ten minutes while the fight was explained to those who hadn’t read about it.  We had four groups, the evens going to the right, the odds going to the left, etc, and I tried not to laugh as the plans were described (thinking again about that Onyxia wipe video.  Hee…)  Strategies for the three phases were explained, and it was decided we’d save our resist potions and fish for the second or third attempt, in case we just wiped right away.

We ran down the path and the main tank grabbed aggro on Onyxia.  I waited a bit until he had her attention before I started shooting.  The whole fight was a chaotic mess of running around, dodging fire, getting knocked back into whelps (which we killed, no problem, so no DKP minuses), and before we knew it, we were in phase two.  The DPS ramped up, and as she flew around, I stopped to take screenshots.  I know in the end this impacted my DPS, but I just couldn’t help it!  The guy who coordinated the whole run was laughing in vent, “this is going so quickly!”  And then we got to phase three and poured it on.  In less than ten minutes total, Onyxia was dead.  Explaining the fight took longer than killing her.  Even looting her took longer, I think.

We decided that the guy who had rallied us all for the run in the first place should loot the head.  He came up with the idea, got enough interest to get a group together, helped bunches of people get attuned by escorting them where they needed to go in Blackrock Spire, and made sure we had some kind of strategy (that we didn’t particularly get to employ, but still!).  After all the loot was distributed (trophies!), we were portaled to Orgrimmar where we did a slow march to Thrall and then to the guy in the front of Orgrimmar who makes the announcement that Onyxia has been slain and puts the head on a post.  Awesome.

I realize that in the scheme of things, it’s not that impressive of an accomplishment for 19 decently geared 70’s to take down Onyxia.  I’ve seen videos of fewer  than 10 level 70’s killing her.  But, for our guild to get 19 people together was impressive given that we’ve had trouble these past few weeks filling Kara runs.  It was also a hell of a lot of fun.

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The Path to Onyxia

About a month ago, one of my guildmates rallied the guild to key up for an Onyxia run.  Very few of us have done that encounter, and he thought it might be a fun change of pace.  It will also allow many people to participate (anyone who can get keyed, really, since there’s no way we’d fill up a 40-man), and offers a chance for those who haven’t hit 70 yet to try a bit of raiding.  Because we’ll have plenty of 70’s, we should be able to do it without a full group of 40.

I did one Zul’Gurub run (though we didn’t run the whole thing), but beyond that, my only raiding experience has been Karazhan.  I was interested in participating, but after being off for a couple weeks and knowing that the attunement quest chain is a bit long, I had pretty much decided to skip the run.  Then, last night I logged on to do some dailies with my mage, and heard that there were a couple of people just starting the attunement and thought, “oh, what the heck.”  Running some new content (I’d not been to LBRS or UBRS) sounded better than dailies.  So, I switched over to my hunter and away we went…

The beginning of the Onyxia attunement chain involves a quick stop in Kargath and then a trip into LBRS.  A 70 can just walk by most of the mobs in LBRS, which are upper 50’s elites.  There are a few that patrol right in your path, but the rogue that I went in with just sapped anyone in our way and we mostly sneaked by everything.  There were a few times where we accidently got aggro and had to kill stuff, and a few other times where we were killed (oops), but the whole process of sneaking to all the bosses we needed really didn’t take that long.  After that, we teamed up with a warlock, mage, and some others also doing the attunement.  The warlock summoned us and the mage portaled us to Orgrimmar.  Aww yeah.  That’s the way to travel!

After chatting up Thrall, we were sent to UBRS to kill another boss.  Since we had a bigger group this time, we just steamrolled everything in our path.  Good fun!  This all went very quickly since the others knew exactly where we were going (good thing someone did, because I didn’t!).  After this, we reported to Thrall again, then it was on to Desolace, Western Plaguelands, and then back to UBRS again.  This time, we had a collection quest where we had to gather dragon eyeballs to make a disguise to talk with a dragon later.  (Hee hee… this type of quest cracks me up.  I love the one in the early Draenei areas where you have to dress up like a tree to eavesdop on someone.)  There was a 100% drop rate and they dropped in pairs, but given that we all needed 20 eyeballs and there were 7 or 8 of us, it took a while.  We kept each other entertained in vent as we did this.

Once we all had our eyeballs, we went to Dustwallow Marsh to don our costumes and speak with the dragon Emberstrife.  I was second to arrive at the cave, and as I ran in, the warrior in our party who had just completed the quest was running down the corridor toward me in his dragon costume.  I hadn’t see the costume yet, so I was a bit confused… it had his name over the head, but … uh… Just instinctively I took a few steps back to exit the cave, and then realized it was him.  There was a lot of chuckling in vent after that when I admitted what had happened.  There was even more laughter when the warrior told us we need to be sure to have all three Test of Skulls (quests from Emberstrike) before we left.  When he said it, it really sounded like “testicles,” and being the only female there, I said I’d unfortunately fail that quest.  There were testicle jokes all evening after that. 😀

These new quests were to kill some big dragons, one in Swamp of Sorrows (Mr. Ess and I have been killed by that one before!), one in Tanaris by the Caverns of time, and one in Winterspring.  We decided to do the Winterspring one first, and the rogue had gone ahead there to meet us.  He happened to see a warlock there, and asked for help in summoning all of us.  The warlock happily did so and they were able to recruit another person to help summon, so it saved us all a long flight from Dustwallow to the north of Kalimdor.  Woo!  After killing Scryer, we portaled to Stonard where we quickly found and killed Somnus.  Finally, we portaled to Shattrath and talked with the woman in the World’s End Tavern who beamed us to the Caverns of time.  There are several big dragons guarding the Caverns, but the one that we needed, Chronalis, wasn’t there.  This was a little surprising. (Was someone else on our server doing the Onyxia attunement?  No way!).  We danced around for a while, killed one of the other dragons, and then finally Chronalis respawned.  We disposed of him quickly and then made our way back to Emberstrife to turn in our testicles.

Emberstrife gave us another dragonslaying quest, this time for Axtroz in Grim Batol in the Wetlands.  Our warrior had some water walking potions, so we decided the fastest way to get to the Wetlands from Dustwallow Marsh would be to walk across the water to Theramore and then grab the boat to Menethil Harbor.  When we got to the docks in Theramore, we kept our distance from the guards and mounted up so we could just ride onto the boat as soon as it arrived.  As we all mounted, we noted a low level Alliance guy sitting afk on the dock.  We rode our mounts up to him and did a fair amount of posturing, laughing about what a sight it would be to return from your bio break and be surrounded by level 70s of the opposite faction.  Of course none of us were flagged, so it’s not like we could (or would) do anything to him anyway, but in our best RP fashion, we grinned wickedly and pressed our space bars so that our mounts did their growling and rearing up.  The guy returned, stood, shouted something in all caps, and then ran off the side of the dock into the water and swam away.  It was hilarious.

After that, we caught the boat to Menethil, went to Grim Batol, killed the dragon, and then had to call it a night.  Our homework is to go back to Emberstrife in our costume one more time, he’ll send us to Desolace again, and then it’s back to UBRS where we’ll need to kill the final boss.  There are groups of folks doing this next UBRS part tonight, I think, and probably this weekend, as well.  And that should be it!  Not so bad, not so bad…

So, the attunement doesn’t take that long if you’re a group of level 70s, particularly if you have warlocks and mages to speed up your travel.  I’m really glad I went along on the attunement quests last night, and I have a feeling that the raid this Sunday is going to be a blast if last night’s questing was any indication.  Now I’d better read up on the fight tactics so I don’t get a 50 DKP minus (not safe for work). 😉

Blog Trends (and a little more Brain Dumping)

I’m still catching up on blogs!  For a while there, the trend seemed to be reflections on why people were bored/quitting WoW/looking for new diversions.  Now, the trend seems to be recruiting bloggers to write guest posts.  This is happening in blogs that I’d mentally categorized as personal WoW blogs, too.

There are also a lot of posts about the beta.  I like reading folks’ first impressions as they head into the new content, but I’m skipping all the stuff about the class talent changes. It’s not because I’m avoiding spoilers (I see that some blogs are also stating they are Wrath spoiler-free zones), it’s just that all that stuff is subject to major revision before release, so I’ll look into it later after release is closer, possibly not until I’ve got the expansion installed.  I don’t have the energy/interest to invest in it now.

I was just checking out trends in my own blog’s readership, and noted that Nat linked me from one of her recent WoW Insider articles.  Thanks for the linkage, and hi to those that have wandered over from there! I’ll get back to writing more cohesive posts soon (promise), but a little more brain dumping first…

/braindump

– I’m cooking up some documents for Pox Arcanum and a few of them are nearly done.  I’m hoping that if we can get more detailed guidelines (and a Mission Statement) posted, we won’t need much more in the way of administrative stuff with that guild (which is really not a traditional guild, so I wonder if I should stop calling it that).  I think the key will be clarifying the goal of the Pox– to offer a sandbox for static group play.  I think some people that joined in the months after Pox was first created missed this, and they’ve come in expecting to be able to do a lot of the stuff they do on their mains on other servers, things that don’t fall under the simple (and intentionally limited) category of “static group play.”  The point isn’t leveling or optimizing a character or building up a family of alts, and these goals/mindsets are difficult for some players to shake. In fact, you really don’t even need a guild set-up to do what we’re doing, so sometimes I wonder why I’m putting so much time into creating the documents.  I guess I enjoy doing that kind of thing, despite my lack of desire to run a guild.

– Does anyone know what happened to Apathy?

– In catching up on blog reading, I came across this interesting pair of posts, the first from Michael Zenke at MMOG Nation (among other places), which inspired additional thoughts from Syncaine at Hardcore CasualWherein I Learn Why They’re Called “Carebears” and Asshat or PvPer: Which will Warhammer Online have?.  Sounds like flagging up on a PvE server doesn’t exactly invite PvP as one might hope — it invites griefing.  On a PvP server, there can be retribution for behavior like that.  There can be retribution for other unsavory behavior on PvP servers, as well, like stealing kills, herbs, etc.  One’s reputation becomes much more critical, and I’m intrigued by the idea of playing in such an environment.  On average, I doubt there is less jerkiness or more honor amongst players on PvP servers compared to PvE servers, but at least you can exact your revenge.  Again, I don’t really need any more side projects, but … yes, I’m intrigued.  I do not think I’d be willing to go into it alone though.  Small static party would be fun.  Either that or I’d look for a guild first, and choose my server that way.  Maybe both.

– I just started using Control Freak, and I love it.  Dax also turned me onto Healbot, and it, too, rocks my socks.  I read Kestrel’s post about IHML today, and I’ll be downloading that soon.

Ok, I think my brain is empty now.  More cohesive posts coming soon!

Brain Dump

– I’m still catching up on the two weeks of blog reading that I missed.  So… much… to read! *gasp*

– I’ve seen several WoW-playing couples post that they bought two authenticators from Blizzard.  Maybe you wanted two, but you really only needed one — you can use a single authenticator for multiple accounts!  Too late for those that already bought two and I know they’re cheap anyway, but I just thought I’d throw that out there for those with multiple accounts in their household that haven’t made the purchase yet.  (We’ll be buying one when they’re available again.)

– Very cool post here from Tipa at West Karana: Innovation in RPGs: An Illustrated History.

– A friend in the guild last night suggested I start bringing my newly minted 70 to the lower kara runs, while still bringing my hunter to the upper Kara runs.  I think in the interest of helping the guild progress, I will still continue to run my hunter with both, in part because she still needs badges and in part because they’re hoping for a 1:1 vet:noob ratio in the lower Kara runs.  Focus will get my hunter geared for ZA more quickly, too.  I wonder if that’s one of the reasons we’ve been in Kara so long.  There aren’t enough people focused on gearing one character… most people’s efforts are spread out among alts.  Because the primary goal of the guild isn’t raiding anyway, there’d never be a mandate to force people to focus, of course.  Maybe focus is the real difference between hardcore and casual.

– I never hope for drama in my own guild, but I’m anticipating some as we begin to work toward (and through) ZA.  At the heart of it, I’m afraid, will be the Dunning-Kruger effect.  Also, Kara sign-ups are currently first come, first serve, but to facilitate forward progress, the ZA sign-ups are going to be handled a bit differently.  Player class and skill will be considered, as well as preparedness and patience and other things that are a bit harder to measure, and they’ve said straight up that there will be some “cherry-picking” from the lot that signs up.  We’re sort of a nerdy old bunch, so anything that feels like a schoolyard pick could put a strain on the guild.  I’m hoping that everyone who wants to will ultimately be able to give the raid a shot, but I also hope that those who are clearly not ready will step back on their own and not sign up again until they are.  I will certainly do this, if I find myself unprepared.  Beyond that, we just have to hope that no feelings are hurt.  Fingers crossed.

– Despite all the talk of staying focused, I’ve been thinking about resurrecting the Year of the PuG.  Hmm…

– I didn’t enter my account for consideration for the WotLK beta, and have no plans to, but I’m greatly enjoying reading the impressions of it from folks that have already gotten in — check out Gloria’s Onward to Northrend article over at Girls Don’t Game.

– I picked up Portal recently, and so far it has not disappointed.  Great fun… I’m through the first 9 or 10 levels so far.  It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game that isn’t WoW, so it’s a little weird not to have a million options of what to do next.  It’s almost a relief!

70 Again!

My frost mage hit 70 last night!  Wooo!

I had played her quite a bit the week before July 4th, taking advantage of all the xp from the flame honoring and desecrating during the Fire Festival.  I know I said I wasn’t planning on doing much of that stuff, but 12000 xp per desecration is nothing to sneeze at.  That plus a bunch of questing got her to level 69 before we left town, and given that almost all the xp she had after that would be rested, I was pretty sure she could have hit 70 before the weekend was out.

(Note: In all the desecrating that I did, I only got killed once by the Alliance. I knew it would happen eventually, and I was fairly certain it would be when I hit the flame by Goldshire. Instead, it happened at the next flame I hit at Sentinel Hill. I was still flagged from the Goldshire flame, but the hunter’s mark didn’t appear over my head until I was done with the Sentinel Hill desecration. That was certainly nice of them to let me get my xp before killing me.)

Anyway, I didn’t hit 70 that weekend because we traveled to visit family, and then ended up traveling unexpectedly again right after we got back.  We were gone for two weeks (family stuff), and finally got back last Friday.  I didn’t play her Saturday, but Sunday after lunch, I decided to make the final push…

She was about 30% into level 69 when I started.  I still had about 45 minutes left on the ribbon dance she did before logging out weeks before, so that was a nice little boost.  I was questing in Netherstorm, getting something like 1200 per kill.  Woo!  I took a break for our guild meeting (and then dinner + tv with the Mister), and then went back at it.  By 11pm or so, I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it.  I was about 90% of the way to 70, but I’d lost a bit of momentum, as I’d used up most of the easy quests in the area (Netherstorm).  I was tired and contemplated just going to bed and hitting 70 Monday night, but I was getting so close.  My xp addon told me I was less than 10 quest turn-ins away, so …

I wandered to Terrokar, an area I’d skipped, and started blasting away at the easy quests.  Many didn’t even show up as exclamation points for me, and the mobs were several levels below me so I was disposing of them in just a couple shots.  Within 30 minutes, I turned in the quest that put me over the top.  Yay! DING!  Probably could have hit 70 a lot sooner had I gone there earlier, but I was enjoying raking in the Consortium rep.

So, that’s my second 70!  Hurrah!  Technically, this mage is my “main” (in that it’s the name my guild calls me), though my hunter is much better geared thanks to those Kara runs.  Lately there’s been some talk of moving beyond Kara and working deeper into Zul’Aman, so I think I’ll probably continue to focus on developing my hunter for the moment in the interest of helping with that progression. My motivation to level my mage recently was max out her jewelcrafting, but I’ve also considered making her my main focus by the time Wrath comes out. We shall see.  Nice to have options in any case.  As I’ve also mentioned, my mage will be the one to get the epic flying mount since she’s a miner.  (Not quite as useful for my hunter, who is currently a skinner.)

I suppose my next goals will be gearing up these 70’s a bit and making some money for that epic flyer.  Probably means I should start doing some dailies, eh?  🙂

A Poxic Milestone

We hit 40 at the end of our Pox session last night and then all went off to buy our mounts. Here’s me on my big gray kodo in Bloodhoof Village. Afterward, we met in Orgrimmar by the area where guilds are created. This is where we all met to sign the Pox Arcanum charter just a few months ago…

Yay! A very exciting moment. After, we chatted a bit about the project, the group, and how lucky we all felt that it had turned out as well as it had. We really enjoy playing together, and hopefully this is the first milestone of many for us. (You can find other posts and photos about last night from Daxe, Harisan, and Wara.)

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We all wrote some reflections on the experiment recently (here were mine, with links to the others), and in talking about them, Sal brought up another really good point. He thinks another reason we are so successful is how well we prepare for each session. We are essentially approaching these low level five-man instances each week just like raiders might.

The planning of each session is done by group e-mail. It sometimes starts with a simple “so, what are we doing this week?” or “where are we meeting?” note, and by the end, we have a fully fleshed out plan for our three hour session. Nas and Sal put together some very well-researched posts, outlining what we want to accomplish and the optimal order for completing everything, right down to strategic setting of hearthstones for quick, mid-session location shifting. This sometimes leaves us with a bit of “homework,” a few things to be completed outside the group. It’s usually just setting hearthstones or arranging for the toon to be in a certain place to meet everyone else, but sometimes we also go pick up unsharable quests. If there are multiple ideas for how we might spend the session, folks list their preferences for what we do, and we chat about what might be best for the whole group in terms of the possible rewards and experience and where we are level-wise.

So, when the session begins, we are ready. We show up on time, people are usually already parked by a summoning stone by our start time. Sal passes out elixirs and Daxe enchants any new items we might have from the previous week’s run. Our bags are empty, we are repaired (um, usually), we all buff up, and we are ready to put a Pox on something. 🙂

While we do take the preparation seriously, there is plenty of fun and silliness while we play. Last night, we were doing a couple runs of SM Cathedral after finishing off RFD. After clearing an area, we were standing there waiting for Sal to grab an herb, when suddenly a mob showed up out of nowhere. We hadn’t noticed a patrol, so there was a lot of, “where the heck did that guy come from?” After the mob was dead, Daxe giggled in vent, “didn’t you guys notice the shadow word pain on him?” Daxe!!! 😀 Hehehe… Daxe has been doing this ever since he got shadow word pain. I remember him doing this way back when we were running through the Barrens for the first time. “Uh oh! A raptor is following me! Must be my perfume.” It is now one of the traditions of the Purple Pox. (Like collecting mutton chops.)

Anyway, a big thank you and a big hug to all of Pox Arcanum, particularly mah Purple peeps. You are awesome!! ❤