Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Few Tips for [School of Hard Knocks]

Many of my guildies are having trouble with this achievement as they are not PvP'ers and hardly know Arathi Basin from Alterac Valley. Me? Well, lets just say I'm 4 for 4 on my attempts. It was faster for me to complete than going through the orphan quest chain to get the pet.

That being said, these quests can be maddeningly difficult if you don't know how to approach each requirement. For those not in the 'know', here are the for requirements:

  • Capture the flag in Eye of the Storm
  • Assault a flag in Arathi Basin
  • Assault a tower in Alterac Valley
  • Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch

Understandably, the best means is to grab a team and go for the gold, but let's go through each one and identify other ways to get them done.

Capture the flag in Eye of the Storm
The obvious way to get this done is to wait in the middle of EotS and click like mad when the flag respawns. Unfortunately, this is pretty fruitless as with the onslaught of fellow badge hunters plaguing Battlegrounds right now trying to get this requirement done. Your entire team AND the entire OPPOSING team is likely sitting in the middle waiting to click. The alternative to this middle-of the map stupidity is to gank the flag carrier. Usually, flag carriers run solo, so if you can nab him/her en route to their tower, you can usually grab the flag unfettered.

old school strategy is to run with a buddy who has one of those huge mammoth mounts. He rides up to the flag and stands on top of it while you stand inside his mount and grab the flag. Most players aren't savvy enough to find you through the mammoth so you can usually get away with the grab. This also works well in AB.

Assault a flag in Arathi Basin
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to capture the flag in AB, but, one of the best ways of accomplishing this to veer from the beaten path. Yes, you could race to LM or GM or Stables and get that cap before anyone else, but if the opposing faction has the same idea, there will generally be people there vying for that cap. If you're alone or faster than the rest, consider yourself lucky (Yes, luck does have a part in all of this). An alternative to the race mentality is to try for the 'back cap'. Most pug BG's tend to have a herd mentality. As such, an effective strategy is to watch a huge pack of opponents leave a node and swoop in behind them. An effective tool for this strategy is some means of slow falling. Whether it's the spell Slow Fall or Levitate, chain chugging Noggenfogger Elixirs for the slow fall ability or using the Sha'tari Skyguard rep cape or Engineering cape tinker, dropping into the Blacksmith from Lumber Mill or dropping into the Gold Mine from the road above can take opponents by surprise. Similarily, stealthing or invisibility abilities or effects can accomplish the same goal. When going the stealth route, there are two important reminders to keep in mind: 1) While you may be stealthed, your orphan is not and 2) You cannot bring your orphan out while you are in combat. Make sure that you come out of stealth by summoning your orphan and then clicking on the flag.

Assault a tower in Alterac Valley
Sadly, the best method here is to race. However, instead of racing for the first two and closest towers, race for the final two towers. The Horde towers are easily assaultable as they provide cover to those within. However, the Alliance towers may or may not have spots where you can stand and cap without interruption. If you are trying for a tower that does not have such 'free cap' spots, make sure you are not the first one to aggro the archers. It is often better to be the second target so that you can go in and cap freely. If you are the first one into the tower and you have some way of losing aggro, you can be sneaky and wait till your teammate starts capping, at which point, you Vanish/Feign Death/etc. and let him get all the arrows while you quickly cap the tower. Sometimes, someone else just has to take one for the team, no?

Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch
This is probably one of the easiest purely because your typical player thinks of this as a 2 part process: 1) Kill flag carrier and 2) Grab flag. In actuality, it's just 1) Grab flag. When working for this requirement, it's important to stay mobile and stand on top of the flag carrier. If you have a PvP trinket, use it whenever a crowd controlling effect moves you away from the flag carrier. If you don't have a PvP trinket, go to Hellfire Peninsula, complete the daily quest and get a free 5 min cooldown PvP trinket. Why stay on top of the flag carrier? Well, chances are, someone else is going to kill the target with huge nukes while you spam instants and stay in close range. It's important that once that kill is about to happen, you spam click the area where the flag carrier is. Click early if you have to.

Additionally, it may be prudent to spec into a real PvP spec or at least one that has access to crowd control. Most WSG's have at least one healer per team and the healers are usually running with the flag carrier. If this is the case, use your crowd controlling abilities on the healers. If you have a ranged crowd control ability, make a focus macro such as /cast [target=focus] Crowd Control Ability. Then as the flag carrier and his pocket healer run up, target the healer, right click their portrait and set them as your focus or target them and type /focus. Then as your team is taking the flag carrier down, mash your macro if you see the target getting low on health. This will ensure that the flag carrier dies and you get a shot at grabbing the flag. Wyvern Sting, Scattershot, Psychic Horror, Silence, Improved Counterspell, POM Polymorph, Nature's Swiftness Cyclone, Deathcoil, Blind, Strangulate, Gnaw, Pet Charge, Repentence, Hammer of Justice, Avenger's Shield, blah blah blah.. the list goes on and on.

The most important thing is to keep positive and keep trying. Who knows? You might even enjoy slumming it in the BG's with the PvPers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

First (and Last?) Substantial Step into Ulduar

This past Friday, a few friends and I picked up 2 PUG tanks and headed into Ulduar Normal. We started with 2 healers, 3 melee, and 3 casters. Of the 10 characters, 2 were alts.

How far did we get?

8 bosses down before sleep demands were too insistent to be ignored.

We eventually traded our Warlock buddy for a third healer after the first 4 bosses. Kologarn was just a bit too bursty for just 2 healers to manage. I think we 9 manned Ignis, 8 manned Auriaya (2 died on the pull), and pretty much 1 shot every boss except Freya and Thorim (bad healing assignments).

The funny part of this is that aside from one of the tanks (the alt of a raider in a more progressed guild), none of the rest of us had seen any of these bosses beyond Deconstructor. As such, our pre pull pep talks consisted of "Well, wowhead says ..."

I think part of the success in this impromptu run was due to the fact that nearly all of the boss mechanics we saw have been experienced in other encounters or were easily understandable to allow for quick adaptations. Because of this, Ulduar seemed kind of old. Not old in the sense of "I can't believe I'm still grinding Karazhan for badges", but old in the sense of "I've seen this before." or "What's the gimmick this time?"

I mention in the title of this post that this might be my last serious step into Ulduar, mainly because of this feeling that Ulduar is already 'old'. I've learned alot of boss mechanics in my time spent in Azeroth and in other games, and sadly, they don't wow me any more (pardon the pun). Bosses don't feel like epic battles anymore, because in my mind, they've all been translated into brief sets of instructions like: Control the adds, Run the gauntlet, Don't stand in the lightning. Anything that can be distilled down to it's essence becomes less special.

In a way, I don't quite mind this shift in attitude towards raiding. Does it bother me that I won't have access to the top PvE gear in the game? A little bit. But to be honest, it's a relief, because now I can get to bed before 1 AM on raid nights.

And being awake during the day is truly a good thing.