Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding Dungeons in Azeroth

This seems to be the hottest topic among WoW blogs the last few weeks. It only makes sense. The new Dungeon Finder tool has pretty much changed the whole atmosphere of PuGing and gearing up. I'm pretty sure everyone has used the Dungeon Finder tool in the game by now either for the daily random heroic and two frost emblems, or as a tool to chain run heroics and quickly amass a large pile of triumph emblems. And some of us have even used it as a way to level up low level characters and get some nice rewards along the way to 80.

With Elionene, I usually do the random heroic for the frost emblems, and I usually do it with guild members. Occasionally we'll need to fill one or two spots in the group, and it's almost always been a not unpleasant time. It helps when your wife plays a healer and can pretty much carry a group through any instance, regardless of their gear, or when you have tank friends with a Heroic Block set of armor that pretty much prevents them from ever taking damage. Of course, there was the one PuG tank who ran in and aggroed ten mobs at the beginning of Utgarde Keep and died. Nothing Lal can do about a stupid tank, just the under-geared ones.

So Elio is farming the frost emblems. She picked up the Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape last week as her first piece of frost emblem loot which finally replaces her cape from Ulduar. Some might question my choice of getting a cape first in stead of tier pieces or higher item value loot, but I was really tired of having a cape that was two tiers of loot behind. And there are lots of tier equivalent stuff to drop from early Icecrown bosses to hold me over until I get the emblems to by Tier 10 things. I'll get there.

I've run the random heroic and the new Icecrown heroics with both Salthier and Khristin a few times for emblems and for gear drops. I've gotten to heal with my Shaman quite a bit more than I had been, and I'm still enjoying it. I put her in Veritas so that I wouldn't have to make an excuse to want to bring her as a healer to guild runs. Salthier is pretty much exclusively for tanking now, and Khristin for healing, even though they both have off specs. Again, most of the time we're just filling a spot or two with PuG Members.

Lal has been running randoms like crazy. She's got multiple toons she's trying to gear up as well, and she's a little more intent on getting lots of badges than I am. There was a time not too long ago when she would make a face and "ewwww!" noises at the mere mention of a PuG. And now she's doing them daily with random folks from all over the place. She wants the pet, but she also wants the gear, so that's what's driving her. She's had her number of bad pugs too, with some pretty rude people in them. Still, she powers on.

Probably the most interesting time I've had with the Dungeon Finder has been on my Tauren Death Knight. He's only level 72 now, but around level 70 I started doing the random normal daily as a tank. You not only get experience and gold for doing it, but two emblems of triumph to jump start your level 80 set when you get there. Not too shabby. Him being on another server though means I have to go with four strangers, and I'm still learning how to tank. I've had multiple groups fall apart because something happened that someone didn't like. Before I got some defense gear, I made a couple healers mad. But I guess my overall experience has been pleasant, unlike some of the horror stories you hear out there. I guess I've been lucky.

But it's like I've been telling other people, when they opened up PuGs to the battlegroup, and not just the server, you now have an easier time finding groups from the people wanting to run dungeons. You're not only pulling from a larger group of people, you now have a larger pool of idiots and jerks to pull from too. You win some, you lose some, and hopefully you win more than you lose.

For now, I think I enjoy the ease of finding a PuG more than I dislike the chance of getting some rude people in my group. I'm still waiting to see if a couple bad PuGs don't change my mind.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Patch 3.3 This Tuesday

Or so the rumor is.

I've been sort of taking a break from raid leading (although... I was in a raid last night, and I think I cheesed off another one of our officers, who was leading it, with some things I said, that maybe I shouldn't have said. I don't think he reads this, but I'm sorry! I need to just learn to keep my mouth shut.) and in the mean time playing with alts, leveling some professions and running the occasional heroic here and there with Lal's three 80's. I finished up the Outland and Northend Loremaster achievements (doing most of the quests in those zones) with Elionene, which put some funds in the gold bank and got her closer to a Seeker title. Just need to grab about 600 quests in Old Azeroth and I'll be set!

With 3.3, I'll be heading back into the muck of scheduling, leading, banging my head on frustrating boss fights while trying to appear calm and confident. I'm only planning on taking one 10 person team into Icecrown. In no small part because leading two separate raid teams in Icecrown each week will be too much work and time commitment from me. This, even though we may very well have two full 10 person raid teams for Icecrown. I imagine I will get some very vociferous PMs and whispers. "Why am I not going to ICC? Why do you always take X person and not Y person? That raid time doesn't work for me. Are we going to be 'serious' about progression or not?" Sigh.

Reading the above you would think I'm not looking forward to Patch 3.3, but I am! I'm very excited about the new 5 person dungeons, and the story line therein. I'm excited about Quel'Delar and doing the quest line to get it. I am totally looking forward to killing the Lich King, though that in itself is a few months out due to the gating mechanic of the raid. And for all it's headaches, I am looking forward to leading our best and brightest raiders into Icecrown Citadel to overcome the challenges therein. I need to work on my frustration and just sort of let it go. Most people in the raid don't see it (sometimes they do...) but Lal sees it and she doesn't like it. I don't blame her.

I'm also eager to write more stories. I've been mulling over a character history for Bogdan and Nadyezhda, our Draenei couple. We've played them a bit more and I'm enjoying that too, but feel a little lost without a background for them. I also want to write some more from Elio's perspective, probably about Icecrown, Arthas, and company. Her journal site has been dormant for too long.

Lots to look forward to, and on top of that, Cataclysm! I'm speculating on release dates already. Right now, I'm thinking Summer 2010. But we'll see.