And Then the Next Thing I Knew …

… it was 4 am in the morning and I had successfully managed to pull wife aggro. Erp!

Yes folks, it can happen to you too if you manage to consume 12 beers in one evening. It’s been quite awhile since the last time I had an all-night WoW-bender and not for a lack of enthusiasm for the game. It’s just that I’m getting older and I value sleeeeeeeeeep all that much more now that my daughter is in kindergarten and has adopted a new “up at 8am, or earlier” routine, even on the weekends.

That and I’ve found a more reasonable sense of balance in the time that I dedicate to the game, to my wife and daughter, and my other assorted projects. So needless to say, pulling a WoW-bender just doesn’t occur all that often anymore. Sure there are plenty of times where I might think I want to forgo enough sleep to get something done in-game, but as I said, I’m getting older and those thoughts are usually dismissed quickly when I think of my comfy bed and pillow.

Okay, so what got in to me?

Well, it all started earlier in the week when I received a DM from Fimlys asking me if I would like to be interviewed for episode #101 of the Twisted Nether Blogcast. Needless to say I was honored, excited and just a wee-bit nervous. Okay, okay! Yes, actually I was extremely nervous and knew that I was going to need some liquid courage to take that edge off so I could relax and be myself on the podcast.

Things went along swimmingly during the interview (other than Comcast HSI hiccuping once) and I managed to safely keep my beer inside of its container throughout the show. Sorry Ril … you really will never live that down. It was after the interview was finished where things started to go awry.

It started off slow, but after watching some Avatar: The Last Airbender before bed with the wifey, I wasn’t quite ready to retire for the evening thanks to having a sour stomach from all the ‘za and beer I had consumed. So off I went to my cave and proceeded to log in to WoW for a quick jaunt through a dungeon or two with my troll rogue on Jubei’thos.

Two dungeons became four, which then became six and so did the number of beers fueling this crazed gaming-bender. My grasp on time faded completely and it wasn’t until my poor pregnant wife came in around 4 am that I realized what I had done. With egg on my face, I managed to quickly finish out the last dungeon run I was in and avoid further aggravation before retiring for the night.

My night ended on a high note, aside from the mild wife-aggro, with an incredible run through the Blackfathom Deeps with some friendly quality players. Being as drunk as I was, it wasn’t hard to strike up a conversation and share my euphoria from being on the Twisted Nether.  At the end of the night we all parted as friends and I promised to blog about the experience.

Well unfortunately I was just a tad too inebriated to recall much, but at least I did take a couple of screenshots so I wouldn’t forget their names … but unfortunately most of them were poorly framed ^^;

Our bear tank, Blackcow from Chromaggus, was pure win and would always move through the mob packs so that they would turn their backs for my benefit. Other than myself filling the role of DPS, we had Bárnabyjones from Saurfang laying out some great warlock dps and ParalizeJr from Jubei’thos providing AoE-hotness as a mage can. Last, but definitely not least, we had MiseryQT also from Jubei’thos making sure no one died on our run.

Thanks to this collection of fine folks my faith in the Vengeance battlegroup has been restored. I can get great groups and have a blast in the dungeon finder tool. Now if only I could spend more time on Jubei’thos to continue dinging my troll rogue. Oh! That reminds me, I probably have some unspent talent points to distribute … ^^;

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Trouble in Paradise

Perhaps I’ve been having rotten luck, but my experiences with the dungeon finder tool on Jubei’thos haven’t been all that pleasant. Besides the problem of disconnects by random party members, it seems I’m always running into your a-typical PUG player. You know the kind, the arrogant and impatient know-it-all that clearly can’t be bothered with the hint of any adversity. They’ll jump ship at the first sign of trouble even though we pull through in the end. Nope, they want to be carried and don’t want to take the time to explain fights, mechanics, etc to the greener players in the group.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to label the Vengeance battlegroup as horrifically awful when it comes to pugs, but I have had a string of painful dungeon runs with my troll rogue. It’s made finding the motivation to hop onto Jub Jub difficult. It’s becoming apparent that I may have to backtrack on the recent decision to level almost exclusively through the dungeon finder tool. Yet, it hasn’t been all that bad, just frustrating.

Countering the negativity, my troll rogue has been fairly lucky with drops and has successfully run Wailing Caverns a couple of times nearly completing the leather armor set. There’s just one little hiccup with the armor of the fang: my troll is not female. ^^;  Running around with my sides exposed in purple leather armor is not exactly … y’know … masculine. Sure if I were running around with a blood elf it would be perfect. (Note: I purposely didn’t specify gender, but now that I’ve spelled out the joke …)

Hi there level 20, I would love to be able to use a mount and poisons.

Another positive thing to come out of dungeon running is how quickly I burn through rested XP. Well I suppose that isn’t completely all that great since it usually only takes a dungeon or two to burn through it all, making dungeon running feel a bit grindy. So maybe in the end I will end up rethinking the exclusivity of leveling via dungeons. I’m particularly not looking forward to when my troll ends up having to run the graveyard wing of the Scarlet Monastery over and over and over …

But before I close out this entry, I just want to share a small piece of advice to all aspiring tanks out there: leave your dancing shoes at home. Since my troll rogue is leveling subtlety his damage is reliant on being positioned behind the enemy. If your tank decides he wants to try out his new dance moves you’re going to be in for a rough time. Yesterday I ran into Killurfamily from the Akama server and boy did he have happy feet.

I tried a couple of times to get him to cool his feet, but I suppose he just couldn’t contain his excitement for the Deadmines. I guess I can understand that. We did make it through the instance without a single wipe, and other than losing two healers to the disconnect monster (suspiciously I might add) the run was rather uneventful. My rogue happened to ding 21 during the run and picked up a nice OH dagger from Sneed’s Shredder.

So all in all, not too bad. Now if only I could speed up the leveling process to decrease the disparity between my dwarf and my troll.

Playing with Others

I promise that I’m not trying to get all savant-like with this rogue leveling project, but there are pointers that I feel I should share along the way. I should also mention that I’m waning a little on my laurels to not go crazy with the dungeon finder tool. I don’t have a ton of free-time and attempting to level via questing with two rogues is proving to be a bit … painful.

Fret not, I only plan on abusing the dungeon finder tool with my troll rogue and not with my dwarf. I’ve done the horde leveling experience numerous times, so I don’t feel obligated to trudge through quest after quest with him. This change will also allow me to blog not only about the differences in rogues specs, but entirely different leveling methods as well.

Anyhoo, I figured that since my troll will be spending more time in dungeons that I should expound upon some more tools at the rogue’s disposal, limited as they might be.

While you might feel like your sole job is to deal as much damage as possible, it isn’t the only thing you bring to a party. By the time you’re able to utilize the dungeon finder tool you’ll have three secondary utility abilities at your disposal: sap, kick, and gouge. You’ll get more useful abilities down the road, but for now I’ll focus on kick and gouge since I’ve pretty much covered sap.

It's hard to get a good screen of kick ;_;

Kick is very easy to understand: it interrupts spell-casting and can silence if you put points into improved kick. It’s straight-forward and you should use this as much as possible, especially against enemy casters attempting to heal. Kick can also interrupt certain boss abilities/spells so keep that in mind.

Gouge serves a very similar purpose as it can interrupt spell casts, but it can incapacitate any enemy for a very short duration. There’s only two down-sides to gouge which cause it to be overlooked: it costs 45 energy and the enemy needs to be facing you. While enemies shouldn’t be facing your rogue, a smart rogue will quickly dart in front to gouge and interrupt a cast when kick is on cooldown.

This only leaves the 45 energy cost as a potential limiting factor for being able to use this ability in a pinch. Rogues that are able to successful utilize gouge are generally employing a technique known as energy pooling.

You may have heard of energy pooling before, but if you haven’t it’s not a complicated technique to describe. At the most basic level energy pooling is only using energy when you need to and not as it becomes available.

Huh? Why wouldn’t I want to use my abilities as soon as I can spend the energy to use them?

There are times when it is more beneficial to store your energy and to release it when it is the most beneficial. This could be to keep enough energy to kick/gouge spellcasts, or to wait until your SND is about to drop off to refresh it with 1/2 combo points (as opposed to 3/4) and then expend your energy quickly afterwards.

It might seem complicated, but it isn’t really. There’s only one thing to keep in mind if you’re going to be pooling your energy: don’t let it cap out. Anytime your energy caps out you are losing DPS on abilities that you could have used and you’ll look just as noob’sh as the rouge constantly energy-starved.

Sometimes it will be impossible to prevent your energy capping out, especially if you get knocked down, controlled, etcetera but generally you should always be spending your energy with purpose, not mindlessly. In other words, sometimes it can be more beneficial to spend your energy for utility and not damage.

Okay, but what are some situations where utility trumps damage?

Interrupting spell-casts is the easy answer, but there are many different flavors of this basic situation. It could be to prevent an enemy healer from landing a heal, or to prevent a nasty spell/ability from going off. Generally you would rather interrupt a heal over a damage spell, but there are times where preventing damage can be more important. However, there is one situation early in your dungeoneering where your ability to interrupt will be invaluable: druids of the fang casting slumber in Wailing Caverns. There’s nothing worse than being nullified as a factor for 10 seconds in a fight, so make interrupting their slumber spells a high priority if you’re unlucky enough to get WC.

And with that may you always spend your energy with purpose.

Troggs, Troggs, Troggs

If there’s one word to describe my questing experience in Loch Modan it would be: troggs. They were everywhere and everyone needed them to be exterminated and by the end of it all, I really hoped I’d get some quests to scavenge through boar poop instead of being sent out to kill more troggs.

As you can see troggs are exceptionally ugly. Ugly enough that I’m sure their own mothers wouldn’t love them. But worse than just being ugly, they’re damned scaredy uggs and flee when they sense their end is nigh. This wouldn’t be such a hassle in of itself, but troggs like to congregate en masse, so unless you’re able to kill them quickly after they bolt you get to deal with their friends.

At the end of an exceptionally painful string of trogg-killing quests at the southern end of Loch Modan, I was tasked to deal with 3 named troggs: Brawler, Gnasher and Grawmug. “No problem” I thought until I realized that the trio happened to be +2/3 levels higher than my poor dwarf rogue was. Undeterred he strode in to the cave, managed to get a sap off and was able to down Brawler before being overwhelmed by not only the other two, but a wandering skullthumper who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

A quick trip back from the spirit healer and Gnasher and Grawmug got to share in their brethren’s admiration of the rocky cave floor. Success! After the ensuing trip back to the bunker my dwarf was sporting some stylish pants and headed eastward to deal with another problem at an excavation site; more troggs. Oids!

After regaining my composure after some choice words in troggish, (after being among them for so long, you tend to pick up on their slang) I remembered that there was an elvish structure further east that would hopefully offer oodles of quests to fill my dwarf’s sparsely-filled quest log. Unfortunately it appeared that the inhabitants of this inn provided little in the way of work and once again my dwarf set off in hopes of tasks he was well-suited to fulfill.

I did come across a gnome-pilot that had crashed near the lake’s edge and he tasked my dwarf with finding his missing belongings that, you guessed it, fell into TROGG camps on the northern island. Seriously Blizzard?! More troggs? Seriously? Of course this gnome’s tools fell onto an island teaming with troggs with the dead-set precision to be in the middle of four different trogg camps.

Seriously Blizzard?!

Fortunately for my sanity, the troggs on this island were either lower leveled, or even with my dwarf after slaughtering so many troggs. What are a few dozen more? Despite my growing hatred towards all troggs everywhere, I did enjoy the ease at which my rogue was systematically dismembering the troggs within the camps. But once I was done with that, I had run out of enough quests to keep trudging along in Loch Modan no longer worthwhile.

That’s when the idea struck me.

I had forgotten that after hitting level 15, I could queue for a random dungeon and earn a satchel of useful goods! Eureka! So I placed my dwarf into the queue and toddled off back to Ironforge since he had a couple of breadcrumb quests leading him to Stormwind via the tram of debauchery. Tell me, do my fingers look infected to you?

Following a lengthy sterilizing of everything, I was just barely able to make it to “The Shiv” before being prompted to join a dungeon group. “Finally I’ll get to see the Stockades” I thought. Nope, DENIED. Boringfire Chasm. Ragefire Chasm is a weird little jaunt where the “final” boss is the first you meet and therefore NO ONE ever bothers to finish the rest of the instance.

Oh well, better than killing more troggs … I suppose.

Anyhoo, my first experience with an Alliance pug went well enough that I decided to jump into the queue once more as I painstakingly ran across Elwynn Forest on my way to the Redridge Mountains. Sure enough I got another prompt and as if Blizzard was mocking me, once again it happened to be RFC.

/facedesk

After back-to-back RFC runs you’d think I’d stay away from the dungeon finder tool, and I did … until I got to Lakeshire. That itch needed to be scratched and I wanted to see the Stockades so badly that I compulsively queued up again. I picked up a few quests and unexpectedly I was prompted to join another dungeon, this time … Wailing Labyrinth.

If you’ve never run Wailing Caverns before it is an expansive instance with twisting maze-like tunnels spanning multiple levels, bosses up the wahzoo, and capped off with a role-playing event where you have to escort Naralex from the BEGINNING of the instance to a water-filled cavern in the middle.

Remember kids, skills are NOT bind-on-pickup.

This instance is usually a pug-killer because very seldom does anyone know where they’re going, what they need to do, and it takes FOREVER to finish the darn thing to get credit. Hell, even if you run through the instance with your level 80 it still takes forever because it is so easy to get lost and lose track of who you need to kill to unlock the event with Naralex.

But back to my dwarf.

I joined the dungeon part-way through where the group had just made it to the first large cavern after what appeared to be a wipe. Oids. Eventually the group was ready to go again and we eventually stumbled our way into an accidental boss pull while we were still working on a group leading up to the boss.

I can’t really explain it, but after NOT wiping and falling apart after the first boss we managed to limp our way through the rest of the instance. I suppose the group was just as much into sado-masochism as I am (blame it on my beta-testing background) and we survived two complete wipes without anyone nerd-rage quitting the group. I even managed to score some sweet blue-quality shoulders for my dwarf and I repaid everyone’s efforts with some sharp wit during the RP event with Naralex.

What can I say? Maybe I’m the glue that held that rag-tag team together. At least we finished the marathon of a dungeon and had some laughs in the end even if they were from delirium. I’m just glad that my dwarf has a metric-ton of quests to complete in the Redridge Mountains to keep me away from WC for awhile.

Preparedness

Are you ready for patch 3.3? I’m not. Well, I am … but I don’t have my toons positioned where I’d like them to be for 3.3. I was hoping to have my priest up to 80 and to have better gear on my DK for tanking PUGs using the dungeon finder tool. It’s not the end of the world though, far from it. Gearing up will be far easier after patch 3.3 than before it. I cannot wait to experience the new 5-mans and chain-run heroics on both my rogue and DK slowly obtain t9 gear along the way.

With the changes to how deadly poison works I’m wishing I had better daggers to switch over to my mutilate dual-spec. Then again, there is the Quel’delar quest chain with that sexy sword to keep me primarily running as a combat rogue. I’ll need to look through the loot tables for the 5-mans and plan out what I should be aiming for.

Similarly I’ll be running into the issue of DPS’ng or tanking as my DK. Neither his DPS or tanking set are spectacular, but he’s geared well enough that I’ll be comfortable taking him as DPS into the new 5-man heroics. His tanking set is ready for tanking heroics, but I’m not comfortable with attempting heroic Trial of the Champion yet since he’s just shy of 28k hp unbuffed. That might be good enough but considering that I’m still extremely green at this tanking stint, I’d feel more comfortable getting his hp over the 30k mark before jumping into random heroics as a tank.

Then there’s my priest. She’s still sitting at level 77 and in need of a lot of work. I’m planning on eventually transferring her off of Cenarius to find a new home on Jubei’thos, but I’d like to get her to supply my toons with glacial bags before she leaves. I also need to buy her a dual-spec so I can keep her shadow for solo content and disc for pvp/5-mans.

So much to do, at least Cataclysm is still a long ways off. ^^;