Monthly Archives: January 2011

Australian Games Expo

>So I went a little bit silly at the Australian Games Expo in Canberra on the weekend.

I enjoy playing board games. Not the standard fare. Whilst an occasional game of Monopoly or Scrabble can be fun (with the right people), I prefer the deeper kind, mainly those coming out of Europe. Two titles you may be familiar are Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne.

So, the Expo. Well I walked in with the intention of picking up one maybe two titles. Little did I know that my thinking was naïve in the extreme. Two hours later I walked out of the Expo with the following in my hands:

The Alhambra Big Box (base game + 5 expansions in one big box)
Agricola
Sid Meier’s Civilization, The Board Game
How to Host a Murder: The Class of ‘54
Inkognito
Killer Bunnies Remix
x2
Carcassonne x2
Bohnanza

Now that’s just silly… Granted that the bottom five of those games were gifts but still, way to blow out.

I guess the upside is that my games collection is starting to look somewhat respectable. It now includes the following great titles:

A Game of Thrones (inc all expansions)
Diplomacy
Dominion (and Intrigue)
Alhambra (inc all expansions)
Risk
LOTRO Risk
Agricola
Civilization
Killer Bunnies
How to Host a Murder (numerous)

and a few of the more standard titles.

My favourite so far would have to be A Game of Thrones. It is a combat orientated game with a fair bit of diplomacy thrown in. It is a combination in fact of Diplomacy and Risk with a few random events that change the game each time thrown in. There are no dice, something I love – the most irritating thing about Risk is the fact you can be totally screwed over by your rolls.

Whilst there is an element of randomness to the game in the form of 3 decks of event cards, they affect each player equally leading to using this well impacting on your overall strategy. Randomness adds replayability , an essential facet of a great game. How this is implemented however is the real ‘game breaker’.

If you play board games, what is your favourite? Is there one that really stands out? One that I should look into?

V


Thoughts of Blood

>The last time I tanked a raid was in Karazhan – on my Paladin, Althorr. My how things have changed.

After reading up on where Blood tanking was at, bless you Elitist Jerks, I went and reforged my gear to ensure my threat levels would be sufficient. In the end I think I may have gone a bit overboard there, will scale it back for the continuation tonight.

Blood tanking is still a little bit up in the air at the moment. A lot of the discussion on the EJ forums was back and forth between whether stacking Mastery or Avoidance was the way to go. Stacking Stamina has pretty much been ruled out now.
Let me explain the dilemma. The Blood DK mastery is called Blood Shield. Here is the tooltip text:

Each time you heal yourself via Death Strike, you gain 50% of the amount healed as a damage absorption shield. Each point of Mastery increases the shield by an additional 6.25%.

One thing to note however is that the shield only absorbs physical damage. Magical just comes straight through. Ok, so Death Strike heals you for let’s say 30k (not unrealistic), meaning you get a 15k damage shield at 0% Mastery. If you stack Mastery, this starts increasing rapidly. You only need 16 (2868.48 rating) points of Mastery to gets a 100% shield.

By the way, the amount of healing you receive from Death Strike is either, 25% of the damage you received in the last 6 seconds, or 7% of your total health, whichever is higher.

Plus in patch 4.06 we will see the following change to the Shield mechanic:

If Death Strike is used while a Blood Shield is already active, the new absorb will stack with the old one instead of replacing it.

What this gives us is essentially a rolling shield. The current thinking on how this will function is that if you Death Strike with a Blood Shield up, and it has for example 5 seconds to run and a Shield value of 10k, then that 10k will be rolled into the new Blood Shield value of say 20k, giving you a 30k Shield for the new 10 second duration. There is talk of a cap though, which is looking like 33% of max health, meaning that assuming 200% Mastery, you would need to take 110% of your total health as damage within 5 seconds in order to hit the cap.

Essentially, the Blood Shield can be thought of as extra HP, pretty sexy HP though.
Avoidance stacking remains the same as it always has. For Blood DKs there is no difference between dodge and parry as far as weighting goes. More avoidance = less damage from the boss. Where avoidance has a definite advantage over Mastery is that Mastery is reliant on Death Strike connecting. Miss a strike and your shield potentially pops or drops. Avoidance isn’t reliant on anything to connect, giving your healers a potentially easier time of it. In the end there was no definite conclusion as to whether Mastery or avoidance was better, but the following relationship between the two was reached:

1. Avoidance decreases average damage taken, so
2. Avoidance results in smaller blood shields. But,
3. Avoidance effectively increases the pre-avoidance incoming damage you can take before the shield is used up,
4. The effect of avoidance in 1. is balanced out by the effect in 3, so
5. Avoidance has no net effect on the effectiveness of mastery.

So for me, I will be getting hit and expertise near the cap so that my threat is high enough and my interrupts don’t miss, then gemming for Mastery and leaving my avoidance stats as they are on my gear. Any other stats I don’t need UI will probably reforge to Mastery. This should *hopefully* give me a decent balance between the two. Maybe time will tell which is better but for now I’ll just play it by ear and see how encounters go and adjust the balance as required.

Ok, so the raid last night. Magmaw is fast becoming a trivial fight in terms of mechanics. We downed him on the third attempt which was nice as it gave us more time for attempts on Omnitron. I was in Frost spec for the Magmaw fight as it only requires a single tank. I pulled 18k dps on the kill, however this is largely due to Howling Blast on the lava parasites.

I shifted over to Blood for Omnitron. I think it took a few attempts for me to remember that I had buttons such as Icebound Fortitude and Vampiric Blood, but in the end I was basically using them every time they came off cooldown.
Omnitron is a really annoying fight to be honest. None of the Golems in isolation are particularly difficult, but when two are up it can get messy. The most annoying ability as a tank is the blue pools that Arcanotron drops, especially when they are directly beneath him. They can sometimes be hard to see, and if he drops a pool then starts casting Arcane Annihilator then he doesn’t want to move out of said pool. Irritating. The others aren’t too bad, although having to stop attacking when the shields go up can be fun.

Based on the trouble my healer was having keeping me up during the attempts, I have a feeling my gear is not quite up to scratch yet, at least not as much as it could be. It is viable but does make things a little more difficult than it could be on the healers. Something to work on.

We did get Omnitron down to 33ish% which was promising; I don’t think they will last too much longer. People are getting used to the abilities and having to make decisions on the fly, so it shouldn’t be too much longer.
I enjoyed tanking, so if I am required to continue in the dual role I will keep posting my thoughts on where both specs are at. Until next time, I will leave you with this:

Soccothrates and Dalliah from Arcatraz:

Soccothrates: “Did you call on me?”
Dalliah: “Why would I call on you?”
Soccothrates: “To do your heavy lifting now, most likely.”
Dalliah: “When I need someone to prance around like an overstuffed peacock, I’ll call on you.”
Soccothrates: “Then I commit myself to ignoring you.”
Dalliah: “What do YOU know about commitment, sheet-sah?”
Soccothrates: “You are the one who should be– Wait, we have company.”

V


Ipswich 1 – Arsenal 0

>Current Arsenal position – 3rd place in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Current Ipswich position – 19th in the npower Championship.

I’m not convinced Arsenal is going to learn this lesson any time soon. Time and time again, we see a 3rd rate Arsenal show up to games like this, simply expecting to walk it in. When will it sink in? No game is a walk in the park these days, no matter how good you are.

One would expect the team to put Ipswich to the sword after just scraping a draw against Leeds and seeing Chelsea put 7 past Ipswich (they beat Chelsea 3-0 a couple of weeks ago) just the other day. Hard to describe Arsenal’s performance as anything other than diabolical, although credit must go to an Ipswich team that were clearly up for it.

A combination of lazy/sloppy passing and a distinct lack of sharpness in the final third combined with the worst defending I have ever seen from a Premier league side meant that Arsenal doomed themselves, no excuses this time lads – you were shite.

What now? Well we need a decent centre half, that much is certain. I would hazard to suggest we need some better squad players as well. Players such as Eboue, Denilson and Bendtner since his injury are just not up to standard at the moment. Maybe a stint in the reserves in order.
We must not forget however that the team on park had Fabregas, an admittedly out of form Arshavin, Walcott and Jack Wilshere. Not mugs by any means.

Arsenal need to get a result at Upton Park on the weekend, get the train back on track. No more losses to inferior opposition please Wenger. I can handle dropping points to good teams, but teams 36 places below? I don’t think so.

I and I’m sure all Arsenal fans, want a response. A very clear signal that Ipswich was an anomaly, a blip on the radar; seen once then quickly forgotten. Anything else and that monkey aint climbing off any time soon.

The Premier League is a different beast to the Carling Cup – so let’s see some effort lads.

V


First Cata Raid – Magmaw down

>With our Guildmaster, who also happens to be our primary raid leader, stuck in traffic last night we meekly with great confidence ventured into our first Cataclysm raid. Along with the majority of raiding guilds out there, we opted to have a go at Magmaw, the first boss of Blackwing Descent.

Before we even started, we encountered our first problem – a lack of healers. We have enough raiders to run two strong teams, but we are short on main spec healers. What that meant in real terms was that some people missed out, something we are hoping to address in the very near future.

After being summoned to the instance (a good thing too, I hadn’t actually checked where in Blackrock Mountain the entrance was) we zoned in and headed left. The first trash pull was straightforward, a single patroling dragonkin. He was dispatched easily enough. The second group wiped us a couple of times until we worked out to get two tanks tanking each mob so that they were the furthest player from the mob there weren’t tanking (they periodically charge, stun and dmg the furthest player from them). The rest of us then stood in the middle. After we worked that out and proceeded to down the skull, the cross went nuts and pretty much 1 shot the entire raid.

OK, what happened there…..

Turns out the remaining mob enrages when its life partner is killed. So take 2. Dps the skull down to 15% then switch to the cross, burn it down then finish off the skull before it goes insane. I wonder how many dragonkin orphans we will create this expansion…

Fortunately that’s all the trash before Magmaw, yep 3 mobs…

The great red worm himself was a fun fight. Im not going to run through his abilities or the stock standard strat we used, check out tankspot or youtube for those. I do like some elements of the fight though. It is very healer intensive, some nasty tank and raid dmg flying around. We started with 1 tank, 2 healers and 7 dps (1 of which was our raid offtank), then switched our tanks so that the bear tank moonlighted (successfully) as our third healer.

For me, the best part of the fight is getting to impale Magmaws head on a spike 🙂 Big numbers start flying as we get a 100% damage increase for that phase. Loved seeing some 40k plus crits floating around the screen!

We started our attempts by getting him down to around 75%, enough so that we got him on the spike. After you have seen that part of the fight you have seen it all, it’s just a rinse-repeat deal from there. After that attempt we had a few where we just missed a pillar of flame or didn’t get the parasites down fast enough and wiped early but overall we steadily pushed his health lower with each attempt.

Prior to the very last attempt of the night our best go had been 48%. Being the raid leader, I gave one of the great inspirational speeches in history (something like: this is our last attempt guys, let’s see how much better than 48% we can get him! Awesome, I know)! Whatever I said or whatever people heard, it worked! We had a pretty much flawless attempt and simply owned him. No deaths.

Big shout out and congratulations to the team last night, awesome work! Labyrinth of Lost Souls first Cata raid and our first Cata raid boss down!

Here is a screenshot; I even labelled Magmaw for you 🙂

Voros

The Lich King: Now I stand, the lion before the lambs… and they do not fear.


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