Sep 262014

Proven Assailant AlaronIf you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve heard my lamentations and exultations with the Proving Grounds’ endless mode. Having completed it successfully after a few nights of attempts, I’ll share my advice and notes for those wanting that “Proven Assailant” title prior to it’s removal in 6.0, and also briefly discuss getting Gold for your off-specs and the “You’re Doing it Wrong” achievement.

WARNING: This is much more challenging to complete than Brawler’s Guild. Those fights, excepting Hexos, are made much easier by gear.  Proving Grounds, by contrast, scale all your gear to ilvl 463, There’s a few exceptions to this (which I’ll discuss below), but largely, your skill at planning a strategy and executing it will be what carry the day.

An Introduction to Proving Grounds

For those that are completely new to Proving Grounds, it’s a new set of solo challenges that were added in Patch 5.4, and can be reached by speaking to your class trainer or Trial Master Rotun. There’s a challenge for each group role, namely tank, healer, and damage, and four levels of difficulty for each challenge: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless.

Each challenge features waves of enemies that you must defeat by following your role. In the Damage challenge, waves of enemies spawn that must be killed within that wave’s time limit. In the Tank challenge, a friendly NPC heals and DPS’s for you, and you must keep both of you alive. Finally, in the Healer challenge, a full NPC party spawns, and you must keep all of them alive.

The Bronze and Silver challenges are relatively simple, and are designed to familiarize you with the different enemy types you’ll be facing. (Completing a Silver Proving Grounds challenge will be required to queue for heroic dungeons in WoD.) The Gold challenge is a “final exam” of sorts, roughly equivalent to a raid in terms of difficulty.

Endless mode starts out similar to a remixed version of Gold, but instead repeats itself after completing 10 waves. Each wave increases the damage output or HP of the mobs by 1%, so Wave 11 will be identical to Wave 1, but with 10% more damage or HP. You keep going until you fail; the title and highest achievement require completion through Wave 30. Endless mode scores are also part of your armory profile, so if you desire, you can compete with others for high scores. (As of writing this, I’m the US-8th/World-29th druid, which mostly proves that people do it once and quit. :P)

Gearing for Greatness

Let’s start with the bad news. All gear is scaled down to ilvl 463. (Anything below is not scaled up.) All set bonuses are disabled, as are items from the legendary questline: Sha-Touched gems, legendary metagems, or legendary procs do not work. No consumables are allowed.

The good – all stats from food, flasks, enchants, gems, and profession bonuses work and are not scaled in any way. All raid buffs are provided.

What does this mean? First, it’s incredibly important that you maximize these unscaled stats. Eat 300-level food, drink a MoP flask, get your professions caught up if you’ve neglected them, etc. At 463, your gear is only providing around ~13k agility, unlike the 25-30k agility it normally does, so a food/flask has far more effect.

deadeye badge tooltipSecond, consider building an exclusive challenge mode set. Basically, an item’s worth can be measured in the number of sockets it has and its socket bonus. This leads to some non-conventional items being cosnidered good; for example, Dashing Strike Treads, an ilvl 463 set of boots, is one of the best choices available, due to the yellow socket + agility socket bonuses. This guide lists some of the best items for each slot. Once you have your items, you’ll want to reforge them for the level 92 expertise/hit cap of 6%, then mastery. I highly recommend the JP trinket Deadeye Badge of the Shieldwall (or the Horde equivalent). It’s easy to obtain (what the hell else are you doing with your JP currently?) and the cooldown lines up perfectly with the waves. I macroed mine in with Tiger’s Fury.

(Do you “need” to farm a PG set, spend money on enchants/gems for blues, etc. to do this? Well, it’s up to you. I screwed up and had a Cataclysm flask instead of a MoP flask on my last night of attempts; that night, I also had several wipes with enemies at <5% HP. That 700 agility would’ve saved me several hours of attempts. I’d rather spend a bit of time and money optimizing than a lot of time wiping. Note that you don’t die if you wipe on an attempt, which means food will last its full duration. Also, if you decide you want to do any Challenge Modes, the same gear scaling rules apply there.)

PG talentsI Am Talented

  • L15: Feline Swiftness. Makes it easier to kite globs and just generally get around. Wild Charge is also an option.
  • L30: Irrelevant.
  • L45: Faerie Swarm. Only used to slow/stop Banana-Tossers that get away, not that critical. You’ll have Rake or Thrash on everything, so Entanglement breaks too fast. Typhoon does not affect most enemies here.
  • L60: Soul of the Forest. Feel free to play around with this if you’re comfortable with Incarnation or Force of Nature.
  • L75: Ursol’s Vortex. Very nice for dealing with Banana-Tossers, especially on Wave 3. Bash works as well but takes a GCD.
  • L90: Heart of the Wild. The key to Wave 8. You will want 2 macros; 1 to /cancelform, /cast Heart of the Wild, /equip intellect weapon (if you have one). Macro 2 will /cast Cat Form /equip agility weapon. Dream of Cenarius rotations are not workable here. Nature’s Vigil isn’t bad but isn’t worth the tradeoff.
  • Glyphs: Savagery, Dash, Shred.

WoWScrnShot_092514_205808Know your Target Dumm…Foe

There are 8 types of enemies you will face, all of which come in small and large versions. Large versions have more HP, but are otherwise identical. You also get 2 power-ups.

  • Slayer. Has no abilities, just sits there until you kill him. You see this guy a lot in the lesser difficulties, but he only shows up once in Endless.
  • Varmint. Just sits there like the Slayer, but spawns as a group instead of one guy. Designed to be AoE’d. Drop a Thrash on them as you run by and they’ll fall over.
  • Guardian. Projects a very visible shield to the front that deflects all attacks from that direction, similar to the Oathshield mobs on the Timeless Isle. You don’t want to attack from the front anyway, so this just helps reinforce that point.
  • Amber-Weaver. These are caster mobs that spit a slow-moving glob (Amber Globule) which chases you until it hits you, hits an enemy, or expires. Amber Globules stun whatever they hit for 6 seconds and increase their damage taken by 50%. Obviously, don’t get hit by them. If possible, kite them into enemies, but don’t lose too much DPS time doing so.
  • Mystic. Healer enemy. Always a priority. Letting them get a heal off is bad, so you’ll usually want to start on them, get up a full set of DoTs, and interrupt their heal.
  • Banshee. Creeper! These guys spawn mid-wave, and go boom (ending your run) if they are not killed quickly. They move about slowly and randomly, which usually isn’t much of a big deal except for making it slightly trickier to kite a globule into them. Small Banshees explode in 10 seconds, Large Banshees take 15.
  • Banana-Tosser aka Damn Monkey. Run away from you, firing bananas at your location that greatly debuff your Hit if they, well, hit. I didn’t get the debuff much, but chasing them all the way to the edge of the arena takes valuable time.
  • Sha. Boss mob. Level 93, so you’ll get a few misses/dodges if you reforge for 6% level (which I still recommend, the other waves are the ones to optimize for). Puts up a shield for 40 seconds that reduces damage taken by 50%, followed by a 20-second period where they take 300% damage. Get SR and Rip up prior to the shield dropping, then pop TF+Zerk and burn hard when it does.
  • Berserking Power-up. Spawns at Wave 4 and 6. When picked up, increases damage by 30% for 30 sec. Does not expire (i.e. you can save it) but you cannot keep it for more than 10 waves; Wave 14’s powerup will overwrite wave 4’s, etc.

General Principles

  • Prep for each wave. Prior to the spawn of the wave, use Savage Roar, Dash or Stampeding Roar, and Ursol’s Vortex (for waves with tossers). This saves vital early GCD’s. If the previous wave allows, try to keep one enemy alive and get off a 5 CP Roar that’ll carry over into the next round.
  • Savage Roar+Rake is your go-to. I’ll go into more detail for each wave, but keeping SR up and keeping Rake up on everything is generally the best option. Only use Rip if there’s 3 or less Large enemies, or you have some CP’s to burn.
  • Use TF early. Even if you cap energy for a bit, you want to use it early in the wave so you can use it again later if needed.

Wave-by-Wave Strategy

PG floorIn the Endless Damage trial, there are 10 waves of enemies. Each wave has a 60 second timer for completion; failing to kill the enemies before time expires, or failing to kill a Banshee before their bomb timer expires, ends the run.

I’ll be writing out the strategy I used for each wave. You’ll notice the floor has two concentric rings; all enemies spawn in and around the inner ring (though Tossers can run anywhere).  To describe where you start each wave, I’ll be using clockface directions to describe where to position yourself in the inner ring, with 12-o’clock pointing towards the door. (Putting a raid mark at 12 and 6 for orientation is a good idea.) Wowhead also has a fantastic diagram of each wave in their guide.

Wave 1: 3 Weavers, 6 Varmints. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR. Thrash+Swipe Varmints in center.  Run to an Weaver, using TF to regain energy, and Rake + 2-3cp Rip. Leave when he gets globbed, and repeat for the 2nd and 3rd weaver. Re-Thrash Varmints if needed.

Wave 2: 2 Guardians, 1 Weaver, 1 Mystic. Start at 10’o-clock. Pre-Stampeding Roar, SR. Start near the front and quickly Rake the Guardian, Weaver, and 2nd Guardian. Run to the Mystic at 6-o’clock, refreshing Savage Roar on the way. Use TF and Rake/Mangle to a 5cp Rip, interrupting the heal. Glob should be enroute, glob mystic and run to first guardian. Rerake guardian, weaver, and guardian 2, running behind guardian 2 to glob him. Move to center, reraking mystic if it didn’t die for some reason. 3rd glob should hit center just as banshee spawns, globbing banshee. Kill it and finish off everything else.

Wave 3: 18 Varmints, 2 Tossers. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. The pack of Varmints is too large for 1 Thrash to get all of them, so I use 3 Thrashes in a Y pattern. Chase down the Tossers; if they’re close, rake both, if they’re far apart, finish them singly. Come back to center and Thrash+Swipe to finish the Varmints.

Wave 4: 4 Guardians, 1 Weaver, 1 Banshee, Berserking Buff. Rake all the things, part 1. Start in center. Pre-Stampeding Roar, SR. Rake weaver and 2 guardians. SR, TF. Rake 2 remaining guardians, rerake weaver, dodging glob. (Try not to glob weaver.) Rerake 4 guardians, dodging second glob. Banshee and 3rd glob will show up in center, hopefully together. Rerake weaver, rake/kill banshee. TF again if needed and finish off what’s left. Avoid the buff.

Wave 5: 1 Tosser, 1 Mystic, 1 Small Sha. Midboss! Start at 12-o’clock. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. You’ll start on top of the Tosser; quickly rake/mangle/rip, then head south, interrupting the Mystic who should’ve just started casting the heal. TF, SR, and get up a full 5cp Rip on the mystic to make sure it dies. Run back to the Tosser if it’s still alive, finish it, then run back to the Sha. Banshee spawns with 30 seconds remaining; kill it quickly, then kill the Sha, using TF+Berserk when the shield drops.

Wave 6: 2 Mystics, 6 Varmints, Berserking Buff 2. Start at 3-o’clock. Pre-SR. Rake mystic 1, Thrash varmints, Rake Mystic 2. Wait at Mystic 2 for a few seconds for TF to come back up, then SR, TF, Mangle/Rake to a 5cp Rip. Skullbash the heal. Run back to Mystic 1, Thrashing the Varmints again on the way. Mangle/Rake to a 5cp Rip on Mystic 1, then finish off whatever’s left.

Wave 7: 3 Guardians, 2 Weavers, 1 Tosser. Rake all the things, Part 2. Start just north of center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. I don’t really have a coherent strategy for this wave other than running around and raking everything, starting with the Tosser. The UV will keep him from running too far off. You can Berserk here, just make sure to use it early in the wave.  The globs here are a trap; it’s very tempting to double glob an enemy for the 100% damage taken buff, but you’ve got six enemies to deal with so you need to keep moving and Raking. Feel free to use Stampeding Roar and a second TF as needed.

Wave 8: 1 Mystic, 2 Slayers, 3 Banshees. Bonus round! This one’s fun. Start at 6-o’clock. Pre-SR. Rake the Slayer. Run cross-circle and Rake the second Slayer. Come back to the Mystic and Rake/Mangle to a 5cp Rip. As soon as the first heal starts, interrupt it, then…it’s WILD TIME. (Heart of the Wild, that is.) Pop your HOTW macro and Wrath down the Mystic, the Banshees, and then the Slayers. It usually takes me 3 Wraths (6 seconds) to kill a Banshee, and each lasts 15 sec,  so you don’t need to switch to them immediately if the Mystic needs some more love.

Wave 9: 1 Weaver, 1 Tosser, 1 Guardian, 2 Slayers, 1 Banshee. Rake all the things, final round! This wave is the most difficult of the 10, IMO; luckily, we’ve saved the Berserking buff for it. Start in center. Pre-Dash, SR, UV. Rake the Tosser, run to 12-o’clock and rake the Weaver, then run counter clockwise around the circle raking the Slayer, Guardian, and Slayer. Grab Berserking and use TF as you go. Find the Tosser and repeat the circle-rake. Once you finish the second loop of the circle, the Banshee should be spawning; kill it, then circle-rake one more time and finish off whatever’s at the highest HP.

Wave 10: Large Sha. Final boss! The simplest wave of all, though not at all the easiest. Use a standard DPS rotation, looking to put up a 5cp Roar with ~40 seconds left on the timer. Grab the second Berserking buff with 30 seconds left on the timer, and Rip at ~22 seconds.  You can use TF if it’s up in the first 10 seconds; otherwise save TF + Berserk for the last 20 seconds when the boss’s shield drops.  Finish off the Sha; breathe, enjoy the 15-second break (thanks, guys) and get ready to go again.

Off-Spec Gold

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here, as I’m definitely not the expert. The wowhead guide is great as an overview, and if you’re looking to get Endless Defender or Healer, you’ll need to look around for other resources. A few tips for Gold, though:

Gold Tank isn’t too challenging, if you’re experienced. Gear wise, I just used my feral PG set. It’s counter-intuitive, but the method to surviving this challenge is frequent kiting. Sure, you can try to face-tank everything, but your only healing is a constant HoT, which burst can overcome quickly. Spec Typhoon, Ursol’s Vortex, and Force of Nature; use Typhoon and UV to keep things off, and Force of Nature treants to pick up/peel off Ambushers and Windguards as needed.

Gold Healer was harder for me, but that was due more to my rusty healing skills than anything else. Spec Ysera’s Gift, Typhoon, Force of Nature, Bash, and NV. Set up your party or raid frames to show the Chomp and Aqua Bomb debuffs. #1 priority is dispelling Aqua Bomb; #2 is Rejuv+Healing Touch on a Chomp target to clear it: #3 is making sure your Efflorescence effect is on Oto the tank (he moves a lot); #4 is standard healing, keeping Lifebloom and Rejuvenation on Oto, Swiftmend + HT on Oto as he needs it, Wild Growth if there’s some raid damage, etc.

I macroed FoN to Swiftmend because I was terrible at remembering it, and used Ironbark on Oto at the start of every wave for the first 5 waves. (Save it for Conqueror enrages after that.) Interrupting the Hive-Singer’s Sonic Blast with Bash/Typhoon helps a lot, but I forgot about it and still did okay. Beru has an exhaustive guide for Endless if you want a full strategy there, or just some more tips.

Alamo PVPYou’re Doing it Wrong

This achievement is granted for completing a Silver challenge in a spec not suitable for it. I had a lot of fun trying all the different combinations of wrongness; for example, doing the Tank challenge as Resto and using a combination of healing aggro and Bear Form to split mobs between you and your healer NPC. That one’s doable with enough effort, but eventually I just went with the easier one: Silver Damage as Guardian, specced into HOTW and Bash.

The key strategy to do here is form twist. Start in cat form, and Rake/Mangle until out of energy; then switch to Bear and Mangle/Thrash + Maul. Repeat. This comment on wowhead has a full breakdown of the Silver enemies, if you want to plan out a strat. My quick list:

  • Wave 1: Easy. Rake both, then standard DPS.
  • Wave 2: Easy. Start in bear; thrash the Varmint pack, and Mangle/Maul the Slayer. Go cat and double Swipe the Varmints, then Rake the Slayer. Repeat.
  • Wave 3: Easy-Medium. Rake both Slayers and Weaver, then Thrash two. Glob a Slayer and kill him with Mangle+Maul. Go back to Cat, rerake both, then go back to Bear and kill whoever got globbed, then kill the other.
  • Wave 4: Easy. Start in cat. Rake/Mangle the Weaver from the front (important). Stop DPS when he starts casting the glob, run behind the Varmint pack, and Bear Thrash/Swipe. Once the glob hits the Varmints, go Cat and double Swipe, which should mostly finish them. Go back to the Weaver (who still has your CP’s), Rake/Mangle him to 5CP’s, force him to glob himself, and kill him with a big Ferocious Bite.
  • Wave 5: Hard. This is the tough one…or at least, I thought it was, until I realized how easy the later waves were so I could use HOTW here. Bear Thrash/Cat Swipe the Varmint pack; this should trigger an immediate heal from the Mystic, so interrupt it. Rake the Mystic, Bear Thrash/Mangle/Maul, than pop HOTW and nuke down the Mystic with Wraths. It CAN be done without HOTW, but you need to get fairly lucky with crits on the Mystic, as the timer is tight.
  • Wave 6: Medium. You have a If you have a good bit of HOTW time left, this phase is pretty easy; just Wrath down the mystic and Bash his heal. Once you run out of HOTW time, the mystic should be dead: go back to the usual Rake 2, form twist DPS strat. You have a lot of time here.
  • Wave 7: Medium-Hard. The Weaver here has two small Varmints flanking him; ideally, you want to use his globs on the Mystic and Guardians, so stay away from the sides. Bear Thrash/Cat Swipe the Weaver + Varmints, which should trigger the Mystic heal. Interrupt it, Dash, and quickly Rake the two Guardians and the Mystic. The first glob should be on the way; glob the Mystic and form-twist DPS on it until dead. Repeat for both Guardians and finish off the Weaver/Varmints with a Thrash/Cat Swipe combo.
  • Wave 8: Easy-Frustrating. You get 2 Weavers here. Weaver globs stack, so globbing something with both will kill it quickly; however, if you mess up and get globbed yourself, the Weavers will chain glob you for the entire 60 seconds. Not fun. Plenty of time; just take the 4 enemies in turn, double globbing the Mystic and killing, double globbing the Slayer and killing, then the usual to finish out. You’ve won!…until WoD comes out and you get to do it all again!

Lastly, if you’re really crazy, there’s a hidden achievement for doing Gold in the wrong spec; You’re Really Doing it Wrong. Per Celestalon, though, that achievement is hidden, and is for tracking purposes only.

That’s it! 3300 words on content that’ll be gone in a month, woo. If you liked this, please leave me a comment or Tweet me (@alarondruid) and let me know!

 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Sep 192014

After finishing up all the Brawler’s Guild achievements last night, I’d like to type up a quick guide for those looking to get this done before 6.0 drops and they are no longer obtainable. It’s very doable if you’ve got some decent LFR/Timeless Burden gear, so let’s get to it!

Getting Started and General Tips

To get in, you need a Brawler’s Pass or a Blood-Soaked Invitation. Easiest way is AH, but if you’re unlucky, they’re always on the BMAH, and have a chance to drop from the PvP rares in Krasarang Wilds. (It also has a 100% chance to drop from Willy Wilder, if you’re willing to camp for a while.)

The format is simple. After queueing, you’ll be dropped into the ring, and have to fight a boss enemy (or enemies) and defeat him within 2 minutes. The main ladder has 36 bosses that must be defeated in order; after every 4 you defeat, you go up one Rank. There are also 16 “special” bosses that can be fought at any time; however, 12 of them require you do various things to unlock the card needed to battle them.

You will want to buff up. A vendor at the Guild sells cheap DPS potions, which are essential, but you’ll want a flask as well. Heroism drums are also nice, as are buffs from any other players around. If you want to completely trivialize some of the fights, you can also go farm some Faintly-Glowing Herbs from the Timeless Isle, which will work in Brawler’s Guild and have no cooldown.

Ranks 1-6

None of these bosses should be difficult, a few just have some tricks. Dippy (Rank 2) has a one-shot attack, but every attack from you knocks him back; you’re fine as long as you don’t corner him. Ixx (Rank 3)’s attack is best avoided by sitting directly on top of him while DPS’ing, but with good gear you may be able to burst him down without ever seeing it. Deeken (Rank 4) is your first “avoid tons of stuff” boss, and is a good sample of what awaits you at higher ranks.   You might have to try them once in order to see all the things you need to avoid, but that’s it. There’s a decent guide here.

Rank 7

Now is when things start to get interesting. GG Engineering is likely your first challenge. There’s a gnome who shoots you and a goblin you launches rockets at you; stay on top of the gnome so that he takes damage from the rocket blasts.

Dark Summoner is simple in theory. The Summoner brings in ghosts, which have an instakill melee attack, but you get a “flashlight” (cone attack) that stuns them. Killing a ghost drops Summoner’s shield for 20 sec. With good gear, you should be able to burn Summoner in 1 ghost sequence; just keep away from other ghosts that spawn. Turn on nameplates (V key).

Battletron will test your ability to DPS while moving. The boss summons 8 bombs that orbit him constantly and blow up when touched. You’ll want to run into 2 of them with a damage-reduction cooldown up (like Survival Instincts) to give you a window. After that, stay in that window circle-strafing around him until he dies. Beat him, enjoy the next joke boss, and get ready for the hardest fight of them all.

Rank 8


If you’re not prepared for him, Hexos will make you rage-quit. The mechanic is brutally simple: You’re stuck in the middle of the arena, Hexos is stuck to your face, and waves of laser beams come at you. All you have to do is quickly and accurately rotate the camera to “steer” through the lasers while executing a DPS rotation at the same time.

There’s no way to make this easy, and you can’t really outgear the fight to the extent needed to avoid the mechanic. In lieu of a walkthrough explanation, then, here’s a list of tips that helped me, which may or may not help you.

  • Enable Mouselook. This will let you rotate without the mouse without having to hold-down right click the whole time. (Make a macro with the command below, and bind it to a key; the key will toggle it on and off.)
    /run if IsMouselooking() then MouselookStop() else MouselookStart() end
  • Put a raid mark on yourself. I found it much easier to steer the mark through the maze, ignoring Hexos.
  • Untalent Faerie Swarm; slowing Hexos before he attaches to you can occasionally bug out the fight.
  • As soon as you zone into the arena, turn on Mouselook, pop a damage potion, then Savage Roar. From that point, focus purely on survival. Simplify the rotation as much as possible; use Soul of the Forest and Heart of the Wild, don’t worry about Thrashing, etc. Heck, spamming Rake as a combo point builder and alternating between Rip and Savage Roar is probably enough.
  • Consider tweaking your mouse sensitivity in the WoW options menu. I found myself frequently over-rotating for the rapid 180 spins until I turned it down a bit.
  • If you have a flaky network connection or mouse, you’ll definitely find out about it now. I moved my computer to a different room in my house recently, and my previously-fine wireless started dropping out and giving me little lag-blips. (It’s darkly funny when you see the lasers hit the center and then start heading back *out.*) I bought a powerline networking kit and killed Hexos on the next few attempts after switching to it.

Compared to Hexos, the rest of the Rank 8 bosses are a breeze. For Tyson Sanders, just play hit-and-run, keeping him dotted as you evade chickens. For the T440, run out of melee at 15 stacks of the debuff, let it drop, reengage and repeat. Finally, Anthracite is similar to Dark Summoner; use your special action (water spray) to make the boss vulnerable, DPS him, then kill one of the adds to recharge your spray and repeat. Note the spray points rearward (insert joke here) so face away from Anthracite when firing.

Rank 9

Big Badda Boom is your first fight, and a good appetizer for the much harder boss to follow. When you kill him, he explodes and spawns 2 smaller versions of him. Those likewise split and spawn 2 versions, etc, until you suddenly have 20+ hitting you. Not too tough as long as you take the fight slow and don’t kill too many adds at once; use Ysera’s Gift and Predatory Swiftness procs to keep up your health, and pop SI + Barkskin + Berserk for the final burst.

Next is Nibbleh, who’s the next “ugh dammit” boss.

The video encapsulates the fight strategy pretty well. Nibbleh leaves a trail that will buff him to a level where he will one-shot you, so you have to keep him moving around a rapidly-closing spiral. He also occasionally spits a bit of trail to a random sport in the arena. This is the frustrating part, not for the spit, but because he’ll sometimes stand still long enough from spitting to gain his buff, and there’s nothing you can do.

You can try the strat in the vid (turn on walk and constantly backpedal) but it didn’t work for me, perhaps due to Cat Form’s built-in speed increase. He constantly enraged in the corners. After that, I switched to running and constantly tapping back, and that worked well enough.

Doctor FIST, after Nibbleh, is essentially a joke boss; just stay close to him to evade his clearly marked attacks, and use Bash/Typhoon to interrupt his fifth attack, Hammer Fist.

Ahoo’ru is the final fight between you and Rank 10, and a worthy challenge.

It’s a two-phase fight. In P1, Ahoo’ru will walk to the middle, put up a shield, and fill the room with sparks that move randomly and hit for about 200k. He’ll also send out three larger flashes (1 at a time), which will be extra sparkly. Touching these will spawn an Angel; DPSing the Angel to 50% will cause him to start casting a Charge. Run to the other side of Ahoo’ru, let the Charge hit him, and repeat twice more to trigger P2, which is mostly a straight burn phase. Ahoo’ru’s only abilities here are summoning a ring of circles around you (run out, you’ll take about 200k damage as long as you only touch 1 circle) and casting one full-heal, which must be interrupted.

Phase 1 is the key; the better gear you have, the more time you can afford to take there. Well-geared players can use the strategy depicted in the video, touching each spark and killing each Angel in turn. Lesser-geared players will need to trigger all 3 Angels together, then AoE them to trigger 3 charges at once. Either way, push hard in P2 (don’t forget to pot) and collect your mount + achievement!

Optional Bosses

Aside from the ranking bosses, there are the original Rank 8 bosses (now called “special bosses” that can be fought. They were all quite difficult back in 5.0/5.1, but gear has trivialized them all to Battletron level, with the strategy for each being summarized as “stay out of bad, and AoE to start (Zen’shar)/jump a lot (Disruptron)/interrupt Blue Crush (Epicus).” Milhouse is a bit different; he summons energy sources that charge him via beam; you’ll want to stand in the beam and charge yourself instead. Let the first set of beams charge both you and him, and them start killing one source and standing in the other.

There are also 12 “challenge” bosses, that are found by doing various tasks to unlock hidden quests. Instead of reciting everything here, I’ll just link you to a guide by Pwuebear on wowhead that excellently covers how to unlock them and strategies for the fight. None are especially difficult as long as you follow the strat. Best of luck, enjoy your achievement, and stay tuned for my Proving Grounds guide to come soon!TM

 Posted by at 12:49 pm
Sep 172014

The massive writing project is done, which means I can get to other important things, like farming Shaohao rep. (Kidding. I think. The Timeless Isle is growing on me.) I can’t talk more about said project because it is currently under NDA, but I will share at the right time. In the meantime, the other stuff I’m doing:

World of Warcraft

WoW is just..comfortable, right now. There’s good discussion to be had as to whether it’s actually “fun” or just psychologically soothing, but I’ve enjoyed making lists of all the things I haven’t done yet in Pandaria and trying to do them before 6.0. Currently:

  • Brawler’s Guild: Finally beat Hexos. 3 tips for that fight: 1) Raid mark yourself and steer the mark through the maze. 2) Use a mouselook macro (like this) to avoid having to hold down a mouse button. 3) If you have crappy WiFi, buy a powerline Ethernet kit, the fight is REALLY susceptible to latency. *cough* All of the other Rank 8 bosses were extremely easy in comparison, so just need to finish Rank 9, the specials, and a few card bosses. I hate waiting between tries, though, so I keep leaving when a queue forms.
  • Proving Grounds: I’m waiting to start on this until I finish Brawler’s Guild; I feel it’s something that’ll take me some undivided attention for a couple days to get Endless 30/Doing it Wrong. Will probably write up a post on this.
  • Pet Battles: Not much to do after completing the Celestial Tournament, so just doing a few dailies when I find them nearby whatever I’m currently doing. I’ve got enough good pets now that I can beat any fight with 2-pets, which makes it easy to level a 3rd.
  • Reputations: Never did Anglers rep, so doing dailies for that. The shark-punching daily is somewhat bugged in that self-heals will heal the shark…so you have to drop Ysera’s Gift to finish it. Also doing Pagle rep.
  • Raids: I keep meaning to look for a flex SoO run on oQueue/OpenRaid, but never get around to it. Maybe this weekend.
  • Timeless Isle: Shaohao rep! Not really looking to max this one, just want to get to Honored to get the teleport here for later. I love being an Engineer here; between Goblin Glider and Nitro Boosts, I’m successfully making it to a lot of rares for the tag. Oh, and the GetRare addon (or RareCoordinator, or what have you) is quite helpful.

For the site, I have a whole series of articles planned. I’ll have 6.0 guides up for all specs (abbreviated ones for non-ferals); a WoD gear list; a look at some of the new raid logging/analysis tools out there; an addon roundup; lots of fun stuff. Happy to take requests/feedback.


Not much to say here; log on, do daily quests, log out. Primarily playing a super aggro-Rogue deck to win fast or lose fast.

Other Games

Want to get back to Reaper of Souls and Kingdom of Amalur, but on the backburner for now. Amazing how an expansion date can remind you of the things you haven’t done yet. :)


 Posted by at 1:06 pm
Sep 082014

George_McGovern2About 40 years ago, there was a presidential election. It wasn’t much of a contest; on one side was a popular incumbent who had just signed peace agreements with two other major world powers, while the other had a candidate who barely scraped through his primary. Following the primary, the upstart challenger continued to make several political missteps, dumped his VP candidate for health reasons three days after stating that “he backed him 1000 percent,” and was widely perceived as a lock to lose heavily.

There was no Cinderella story; the challenger did indeed lose the vote by 23 percentage points. That’s not the interesting part. Here’s what is: after the election results were announced, a prominent journalist who supported the challenger was quoted as saying “How could he lose? Everyone I know voted for him!”

The year was 1972; the incumbent was President Richard Nixon, the challenger (pictured here) was George McGovern, and the quote, though more of a paraphrase, is completely real.

(“Alaron, what does an old white guy have to do with an Internet scandal in 2014?” “Shh, I’m expositing.”)


…it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. -Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

In case you’ve (wisely) been ignoring the whole thing, the entire gaming world has been rocked by controversy over…dudes behaving badly. Okay, it’s more than that, but that’s basically what’s been going on. Dudes sexually harassing a female game developer after her ex-boyfriend accuses her of sleeping with game journalists for favorable press. Other dudes sexually harassing a female media critic after she posted a video on Youtube criticizing how women are portrayed in games. Another group of dudes calling in bomb threats to ground a plane because the president of SOE was onboard, and temporarily shutting down PSN, Xbox Live, and just because. Someone else, probably a dude, calling in SWAT to raid the house of a popular Youtube streamer.

This has led to counter-dude. Numerous online sites have written tons of editorials criticizing the vicious misogyny and general boorish behavior being shown my those self-identifying as gamers. Several sites took it a step further, however, declaring an “end to gamers,” such as with these editorials on Gamasutra and Ars Technica.

Naturally, the dudes didn’t take this calmly, declaring this wasn’t about misogyny, this was an issue of journalistic ethics and corruption! A guy by the name of InternetArchitect made a few youtube videos making this point, actor Adam Baldwin tweeted out the videos along with the hashtag #Gamergate, and that’s when the Internet exploded.

Dueling Narratives

Here’s the thing. In a lot of these cases, the Gamergate folk have somewhat of a point. (Not the hackers and the SWATters, though, those guys are just assholes.) There’s a legitimate discussion that could be had over whether games journalists are too close to game developers to report ohjectively. Lord knows there’s plenty of examples of game developers crossing the line; from cutting back advertising after receiving a poor review, to a writer being fired for giving a poor review to a title that had prime advertising space; to the 2012 Games Media Awards, where journalists were given free PS3’s, among other things (and subsequent firing of the person who wrote that critical article).

Unfortunately, though, the argument never gets made like that. Gamergate supporters like to complain about a giant “conspiracy.”

The reason many websites have turned off comments, deleted/blocked threads, etc. is not to be gleefully conspiratorial; it’s because the discourse is 80% toxic misogyny. It’s like that Tide commercial; if you have a big stain on your shirt when you get up to speak at the big company presentation, nobody’s going to listen to you, they’re going to sit there and think “Man, if this dude can’t even dress professionally, why should I take his words seriously?”

I’d like to dig a little deeper, though. I think there’s an indictment of our culture to be made here. When insults are your normal discourse, you don’t know what’s professional speech and what’s not, and you don’t know how to have a civilized debate.

Modern Tribalism

Look. I’m in the Army. The attitude, language, and threats that you see people spew online is nothing compared to your average military barracks bay. We (gently) abuse people during basic training deliberately in order to build up a sense of brotherhood. (Or, alternatively, to gauge their level of bullshit tolerance prior to giving them things that go bang bang.) I’m not too far removed from going through a version of that myself, and I see it in my soldiers every day.

What these guys do know, however, is their audience. They give each other shit all the time, but when an officer comes by? “Good evening, sir. What are we talking about? Um, some strategies for doing better at Call of Duty, sir. Roger, sir, we’ll keep it down. Have a good night, sir.” …officer walks away… “Dammit Jones you fu*king faggot you TK’ed me again!” “Haha, pwned you bitch just like I did your mom last week.”

This is not a new thing. I’m sure Roman soldiers pretended their hasta were dicks and poked each other with them too when their superiors weren’t around. They grew up, became those superiors, and similarly got frustrated at their new soldiers who were now pretending their new pila were dicks.

What has changed, however, is the Internet, and how it has connected and divided us at the same time.


That journalist I cited in the introduction lived in an early “echo chamber.” Everyone she interacted with had similar opinions and beliefs, so the opinions and beliefs that diverged from the group consensus were automatically rejected.

What the Internet has done, however, is to narrowly cleave groups into thousands or millions of these chambers. Reddit is the perfect example of this. Fan of something? There’s a discussion group dedicated to it! Others exist that have the same tastes you do! There’s never any reason to go anywhere else!

Unfortunately, living in an echo chamber gives you no skills to respond effectively when something challenges those views. Instead, you respond as the group does; harassing the outsider until they go away, and coming up with crazy stories to justify why those outsiders’ views are wrong. Combine that learned behavior with the assumed anonymity of the Internet and you have the perfect recipe for jackassery.

Is there an easy solution? I don’t think so. We’re conditioned to think in terms of fast, instinctive decisions, which games only accentuate. Friend! Enemy! Fight! Run! Somehow, “well, both sides have valid points, let’s talk this through and find consensus” doesn’t enter the gamer consciousness very often.

Kill ‘em with Kindness

I’m not going to propose some bullshit Synthesis ending here that wraps everything up neatly; if there was an easy solution, it would’ve been done already. (Seriously, ME3, come on.)

Most of you are familiar with John Gabriel (Penny Arcade) and his Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. According to the GIFT, it takes 3 A’s: average person + anonymity + audience = fuckwad.

He’s right, but there’s one term missing: acceptance. Fuckwads act like fuckwads because they get away with it. Want to curb the behavior? Start checking it at every turn.

Now, this doesn’t mean stooping to their level and throwing insults; that’s what they’re used to, and that just confirms that this kind of discourse is effective. (That’s partly why this thing is such a ugly mess, because some of the people criticizing the misogynists for their language are condemning them with their own language. Pot, meet kettle?) Instead, find the lever. It might take some work to do, but it’s always there.

Let me share a quick story. I was putting together a public 25-man raid for Onyxia, back in 2009, when she had just been re-designed and was current content. As was my luck, I got one of those; a decked-out raider who insisted on repeatedly wiping the group by feigning death in the egg piles. Other members of the group started berating him, and he laughed at us, calling us “noobs and casuals.” Did I rage at him? No. I found a lever.

I tabbed out to wow-progress, looked up his guild, and found his guild master’s name. Tabbed back and whispered him “Hey, I know XXX, the leader of <Your Guild>. I’ve been logging your actions and chat, and I’ve got it all typed up to send his way. Want me to send it?” Instantly, he shut up, apologized in /raid, apologized privately to me in a reply, begged me not to tell his guild, and dropped group.

Is that going to work every time? Of course not. Sadly, sometimes you can’t reach the lever, or it’s broken. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to find it. Sometimes the only thing you can do is leave and come back another day, because the griefers own the whole map. Do it. Remember, games are supposed to be fun. Stand up to the boors if you can do so lovingly; otherwise withdraw peacefully. Either way, make the point that you won’t tolerate that kind of behavior around you.

And with that, I’m done with ranting about social issues. Anyone up for a game?

 Posted by at 11:54 am
Sep 032014

In an effort to shake off the doldrums, a banal post of what I’ve been up to lately.


I’m still playing and thinking about Hearthstone a fair bit. I’d play more, but the game has a couple of disincentives that’ve caused me to cut back my play time significantly.

First, the ranked mode has two reward “tiers.” Every season, which resets monthly, you can earn a card back by achieving rank 20, which is trivial. After that, the next “reward” isn’t until you reach Legend (aka Rank 0) where you can actually see how you stack up against all the other Legendeers that month. Unfortunately, the grind to get to Legend is pretty rough.

Based on anecdotal data and some math, I figure it takes most between 300-450 games to get to Legend, for those that are capable of achieving it. That roughly correlates to a winrate between 55-60%. (Theoretically, a 50% player could get it, but they’d have to get very lucky from Rank 5-Legend, where the bonus win for winning two games or more in a row goes away.)

If a game averages 10 minutes, that’s 50-75 hours of play. Could I do it? Probably, but I’d have to play exclusively Hearthstone for the entire month. I just don’t see the appeal of something that’s going to reset so quickly.

Second, Blizzard allowed players to buy Naxxramas (the first expansion) with in-game gold. As someone who has most of the cards in the game already, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend money on additional packs when they’ve already revealed 100+ cards coming in the expansion, likely with a new pack type.

Kingdom of Amalur

Remember this company-killer? I played it for a while on Xbox when it came out, but it didn’t hold my interest, due to significant scaling problems. I purchased it for PC during the last sale, and spent an hour getting the “YSA” trainer working to significantly up the difficulty and lower the XP/gold gain.

It’s been wonderful; kind of a Dark Souls-lite, but with quicksaves. All the systems that I ignored the first time I played, like blocking (heh) are now much more relevant, and I’m constantly running low on potions and the gold to buy them. I’m currently stuck on the Maid of Windemere, but I think if I go farm a few alchemy mats, I should be able to buff up enough to burst her down.


I haven’t touched the live game, and have no real desire to at this point pre-Warlords. Trying to nail down uninterrupted time remains difficult, which eliminates things like challenge modes and raiding. I never did finish Brawler’s Guild, however, so I’d like to give that a go pre-6.0, as well as taking another shot at the Doing It Wrong achievement for Proving Grounds.

As for the beta, it’s been fun, but I’m actively curtailing playing it because, per my usual, I’d like to save the discovery process for the live realms. Pretty much, all I’ve done is create premade druids for testing abilities. As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ll be doing a full guide for feral for 6.0, as well as short guides for the other 3 druid specs. With stats being shared between gear, it’ll be easier than ever for druids to respec, so I need to teach myself how to be fluid (TM) again. :)

Site Updates

Last but not least, I’m poking around at updating the blog. WordPress 4 will be released soon, and with that, I’m looking to make some improvements to readability. Don’t really have a clear idea as to what I’ll be doing yet theme-wise, so you may see a few things change if you’re visiting the blog directly and not subscribing via a feed. Always interested in suggestions, so send them in.

I also need blogroll updates! If you have a druid blog (or there’s one you read regularly), then I want to know about it so I can plug them in. I’ll also take any general WoW sites, anything you think is cool. Let me know!

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Aug 142014

EDIT: Didn’t realize it, but November will be WoW’s 10th anniversary, and WoW was released on Warcraft I’s 10th anniversary, so it makes sense they’d keep that going. If this keeps up, we’ll see WoW 2 in November 2024.

13:20 That’s it, folks. Some quick mental math gives us 428 days (ish) between 5.4’s release and the expansion, which will rate as the longest time between tiers ever. So much for attempting to avoid that. (ICC was 343, Dragon Soul was 301.)

13:17 November 13th, 2014 listed at end of trailer!

13:12 WoD cinematic trailer starting.

13:11 Metzen gives a shoutout to the guy who was first in line to get in to the theater, awkward camera zoom ensues.

13:10 Gameplay trailer over, Metzen back out to introduce the cinematic trailer.

13:08 Leeroy Jenkins sighting!

13:06 Blizzard really needs to stop showing in-game NPC swordplay in the trailers, as it just looks ridiculous.

13:05 Watters back out, gameplay trailer coming up.

13:03 Four more LoW eps coming out. Showing teaser now.

13:02 Cinematic over. Nice Metzen line, “No more whimsical pandas!”

13:00 (LoW) If only jump attacks worked as well in real life as they do in cinema.

12:59 (LoW) Maraad pressuring Varian, okay. whatever. Setup to talk about Kargath.

12:57 First episode of Lords of War (animated shorts) starting.

12:55 Lost connection for a sec.

12:54 Metzen asking how many people saw Burdens of Shaohao, says it went well. (Note: he didn’t say it was “popular.”)

12:53 Chris Metzen comes out to introduce the new animated series. Must every presenter do a Horde/Alliance shoutout?

12:52 Some talk about the new version of Draenor.

12:51 Temporary Level 90 version of UBRS. Cool!

12:50 6.0 patch – initial Iron Horde invasion to Blasted Lands and UBRS, you respond.

12:48 Back to Hazzikostas talking about the Dark Portal. Ion, you lost the audience at “existential.”

12:47 Mild crowd response to being able to loot Ashran Fragments from other players.

12:45 More on Ashran, the tech to keeps things faction balanced, and some of the cool abilities they give to classes. I’m not much of a PvPer, but PvEvP (if that’s a thing) is something I enjoy, so I might give it a shot.

12:43 Holinka now talking Ashran PvP. Comparing it to the long-running AV’s of yore.

12:42 Have to raise an army to defeat the Iron Horde. Yawn. Wake me when I can take my army into the raid zone.

12:40 Talking about cleaning up action bars, better graphics. Very ho-hum so far.

12:39 Talking up the boost to lvl 90. (EDIT: Nobody ever gets stuck in Grizzly Hills, that zone was awesome.)

12:38 Waters brings out Holinka and Hazzikostas.

12:36 Back to the call outs of Horde and Alliance, yawn.

12:34 Mike Morhaime out in an interesting shirt. Blue stripe down the right-hand side, mmkay. Looks like a Windows 8 Snap.

12:34 First accidental calling it Worlds of Draenor.

12:33 Chris Watters out to talk now. Also, the person who was responsible for the overuse of ellipses has been sacked.

12:32 That…was a very short cinematic. I’m guessing that’s just the intro.

12:31 War is the lifeblood…yay.

12:30 Lovely ESRB Rating…thanks, guys.

Just happen to have the day off from work at the same time of the cinematic! (Times in EST)

 Posted by at 12:31 pm
Jul 242014


So, I’ve poked my head into Hearthstone again with the release of the Naxxramas expansion pack. My favored mode  of play remains Arena, so I figured I’d put together all the new cards along with a rough idea as to where they’ll fit in the current tiers, using the liquidhearth tier list for reference. (Remember that not all of these are available yet – about 20% unlock each week and will be available in Arena once they are unlocked. The Hearthstone wiki has the full list of what unlocks when.)

EDIT: I’m tweaking this list as of 26 August. AntiGrav1ty has ranked most of these now as well, so I’ll be adding his ranking along with some additional reasoning. Additions in parentheses.


These cards should be picked above all else.

Dark Cultist (Priest, Common, 3 mana 3/4. Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion 3 Health.)  Similar to an Earthen Ring Farseer, but better. A 3/4 for 3 is great stats, and the health bump is almost always useful, unlike ERS’s battlecry heal. (AG Ranking: 10/10.)

Death’s Bite (Warrior, Common, 4 mana 4/2. Weapon. Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to all minions.) The middle brother between Fiery War Axe and Arcanite Reaper. The deathrattle is generally good due to all of Warrior’s enrage/pump cards. Great card, but remember you need minions too. (AG Ranking: 9/10.)

Kel’Thuzad (Legendary, 8 mana 6/8. At the end of the turn, summon all friendly minions that died this turn.) Amazing legendary, since you’ve got a good chance to bring back a beefy 6 or 7 drop and win the game. Even if you can’t get an effect that turn, stats are decent and sticking it means you win. Not as good as Cairne, Rags, or Ysera, but probably better than Sylvanas or Onyxia. (AG Ranking: NR.)

Shade of Naxxramas (Epic, 3 mana 2/2. Stealth. At the start of your turn, gain 1/1.) Better than Questing Adventurer since you can choose when he trades. (AG Ranking: NR.)

Sludge Belcher (Rare, 5 mana 3/5. Taunt. Deathrattle: Summon a (1/2) slime with taunt.) Like Stampeding Kodo, the killer of two-drops. (AG Ranking: 7/8.)

Spectral Knight (Common, 5 mana 4/6. Can’t be targeted by spells or Hero powers.) Faerie Dragon’s big brother. Solid but unexciting card. (AG Ranking: 9/10. Probably my biggest whiff calling this average. This thing is a beast.)


Not good enough to plan your deck around, but everything in this category is a strong choice.

Anub’ar Ambusher (Rogue, Common, 4 mana 5/5. Deathrattle: Return a random friendly minion to your hand.) A less controlled version of the Ancient Brewmaster. For most classes, it doesn’t work too well, but as a Rogue card, it’s pretty sweet because you’re likely to have either nothing or a comboable card hanging around. (AG Ranking: 7/10. Demoted to good. Rogues frequently play more aggro than other classes in arena, and AA can kill your tempo.)

Echoing Ooze (Epic, 2 mana 1/2. Battlecry: Summon exact copy of this minion at the end of the turn.) Great card. It’s basically a 2/4 for 2 by itself, and is an incredible combo with buffs. Only downside is it’s not very impactful. (AG Ranking: NR.)

Haunted Creeper (Common, 2 mana 1/2. Deathrattle: Summon two 1/1 Spectral Spiders.) Good card, basically a cheaper Harvest Golem. A bit harder to use, however, since you typically won’t be able to trade with it by itself. (AG Ranking: 7/10.)

Loatheb (Legendary, 5 mana 5/5. Battlecry: Enemy spells cost (5) more next turn.) Better than Harrison Jones, not as good as Sylvanas. Mages HATE him. (AG Ranking: 4/7.)

Webspinner (Hunter, Common, 1 mana 1/1. Deathrattle: Add a random Beast card to your hand.) Free card for 1 mana, can’t beat that. (AG Ranking: 7/10.)


These cards are either meh or have a strong downside to go with their upside.

Duplicate (Mage, Common, 3 mana. Secret: When a friendly minion dies, put 2 copies of it in your hand.) I prefer Arcane Intellect for card draw, which is effectively what this is. (AG Ranking: 6/10. AG ranks this 6 and AI 7, which is pretty much what I think. bumped up to Average.)

Feugen (Legendary, 5 mana 4/7. Deathrattle: If Stalagg also died this game, summon Thaddius.)
Stalagg (Legendary, 5 mana 7/4. Deathrattle: If Feugen also died this game, summon Thaddius.)  Essentially blank since the odds of seeing both Feugen and Stalagg in the same Arena game are virtually nil. A 5 mana 4/7 is a solid card, though, and worth taking for stats alone. Stalagg’s 7/4 is not as good, and should be considered Average. (AG Ranking: 3/8 for Feugen, 1/8 for Stalagg. Huh. I don’t think they’re THAT bad. Is Stalagg worse than Nat Pagle, Captain Greenskin, and Lorewalker Cho? Is Feugen worse than Baron Geddon? Still, demoted to Average.)

Maexxna (Legendary, 6 mana 2/8. Destroy a minion damaged by this minion.) It would be a great common, but it’s just an average legendary since it has no immediate impact on the board. Likely to get silenced and ignored. (AG Ranking: 4/7.)

Zombie Chow (Common, 1 mana 2/3. Deathrattle: Restore 5 Health to enemy hero.) A much worse version of Flame Imp. Great early-game card, terrible late-game. (AG Ranking: 7/10.)


These cards are generally situational; there are better all-round options.

Avenge (Paladin, Common, 1 mana. Secret: When one of your minions dies, give a random friendly minion 3/2.) This card is great from a mana perspective, but requires you to have 2 minions on board, does nothing against people attacking you directly, etc. Better than the other Paladin secrets, but still not that great. (AG Ranking: NR.)

Dancing Swords (Common, 3 mana 4/4. Deathrattle: opponent draws a card.) This an interesting card, basically an inverted Gnomish Inventor. I’m still undecided as to whether the board control is worth the card draw, so it’s here by default for now. (AG Ranking: 3/10. Agreed, demoted to Poor.)

Deathlord (Rare, 3 mana 2/8. Taunt. Deathrattle: Your opponent puts a minion from their deck into the battlefield.) This card is tailor-made for dealing with aggro decks. The downside is giving your enemy a free Mindgames. People tend to pick big creatures in Arena so not a fan of the odds here. A bit better for Priest who has some nice combos. (AG Ranking: 3/10.)

Nerub’ar Weblord (Common, 2 mana 1/4. Minions with Battlecry cost (2) more.) 1 attack does you no good and the ability hurts you just as much as the enemy. Pass. (AG Ranking: 3/10. Promoted to Poor because you can play around the ability a bit better than your opponent.)

Nerubian Egg (Rare, 2 mana 0/2. Deathrattle: Summon a 4/4 Nerubian.) Normally this would be down in Terrible land with the other gimmick cards like Ancient Watcher, but AoE sweepers are so common in Arena that this will almost always get popped. A bit better in Paladin/Shaman/Druid due to multiple buff cards, and Warlock due to self-harm cards. (AG Ranking: 3/8.)

Reincarnate (Shaman, Common, 2 mana. Destroy a minion, then return it to life with full health.) This card has so many possibilities. Combo with a charge minion is my favorite, but can restore divine shields, trigger deathrattles on command, be a minion heal, debuff, etc. That said, it still doesn’t actually do anything on its own. (AG Ranking: 3/10.)

Stoneskin Gargoyle (Common, 3 mana 1/4. At the start of your turn, restore this minion to full health.) This card is either amazing or useless. Like the Egg, probably only worth it for Paladin/Shaman/Druid. (AG Ranking: 2/10.)

Unstable Ghoul (Common, 2 mana 1/3. Taunt. Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to all minions.) A mini-abomination. Not worth it for 2 mana, though Warrior could make it work. (AG Ranking: 4/10. Promoted to Poor because it effectively works as a 2/3 Taunt, which is okay.)

Voidcaller (Warlock, Common, 4 mana 3/4. Deathrattle: Put a random Demon from your hand into the battlefield.) With Warlock hero power, you’ll likely have at least one Demon in your hand, and summoning one this way lets you skip the nasty Battlecries. Would be higher if it wasn’t for the crappy stats. (AG Ranking: 3/10.)


Extremely situational cards that should be avoided.

Baron Rivendare (Legendary, 4 mana 1/7. Your minions trigger their Deathrattles twice.) There aren’t enough Deathrattles in the commons to make picking this card worth it. A worse Mogu’shan Warden. (AG Ranking: 1/7.)

Mad Scientist (Common, 2 mana 2/2. Deathrattle: Put a Secret from your deck onto the battlefield.) In general, this card is terrible. If you’ve already picked at least 1 Secret, though, his value jumps all the way up to Good. (AG Ranking: 2-3/10.)

Poison Seeds (Druid, Common, 2 mana. Destroy all minions and summon 2/2 Treants to replace them.) Dead card if you’re ahead, doesn’t do enough when behind, doesn’t fit the class archetype, terrible card art. Seeing a trend here? I hate this card. (AG Ranking: 3/10.)

Undertaker (Common, 1 mana 1/2. Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain 1/1.) Not enough Deathrattles. Skip it. (AG Ranking: 1/10.)

Wailing Soul (Rare, 4 mana 3/5. Battlecry: Silence your other minions.) Constructed card only, not worth the downside. (AG Ranking: 3/8.)

That’s all 30! Peering into my crystal ball, I expect Priests to make a comeback in Arena with lots of new synergies available to them; couldn’t tell you about the other classes fow now. Have fun at the tables!


 Posted by at 10:49 am
Jul 222014

In case you missed all the banners and announcements and such, the first Hearthstone expansion pack, Curse of Naxxramas, went live today. The first wing is free, so it’s worth checking out. Playing against Maexxna, I was reminded of the old Scourge chat log from WOTLK days. Here’s an excerpt (the whole thing is here, go check it out)


***User “theLichKing” has entered the chat.***

[theLichKing]: Hey

[theLichKing]: Anyone there?

[theLichKing]: *drums fingers*

***User “Kel’Thuz4d” has entered the chat.***

[theLichKing]: Hey man.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: my liege

[theLichKing]: Listen, there’s this thing I need you to do for me

[Kel’Thuz4d]: anything my liege

[Kel’Thuz4d]: what army must i lay to waste

[Kel’Thuz4d]: whose lands shall i decimate for ur glory

[theLichKing]: Um, yeah, I’m good on decimation for today. We’re going to hold off on the decimation for, like, a week or so.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: ok?

[theLichKing]: I was thinking. How much trouble do you think it would be to have a thermostat installed in the Throne Room?

[Kel’Thuz4d]: …

[Kel’Thuz4d]: y?

[theLichKing]: It’s really really cold in here.

[theLichKing]: I’m Lord of the Scourge. I think I should get a thermostat.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: no its a frozen throne

[theLichKing]: Right

[theLichKing]: See that’s exactly what I’m talking about. The throne is frozen. The chair that I sit on all day? Literally a block of ice.

[theLichKing]: It is so very, very cold.

[theLichKing]: I actually cannot over-emphasize how cold I am on a daily basis.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: but its supposed to be frozen

[Kel’Thuz4d]: its the source of ur power

[theLichKing]: About that. Can I get my power transferred to some other source?

[theLichKing]: Something that isn’t made out of ice that I then have to literally sit on?

[theLichKing]: Someone dropped the ball there.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: ok so like what should it be then

[Kel’Thuz4d]: like a ring?

[theLichKing]: A ring?

[theLichKing]: Seriously, a ring.

[theLichKing]: Do you _read_ history?

[Kel’Thuz4d]: so what then

[theLichKing]: I don’t know. I’ll think about it. Maybe an armoire.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: armor?

[theLichKing]: No, not armor. An armoire. The furniture.

[theLichKing]: Oh but speaking of armor

[theLichKing]: I have skulls on my kneecaps.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: ok?

[theLichKing]: No, it is _not_ okay.

[theLichKing]: I have skulls.

[theLichKing]: On my _kneecaps_.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: well for the thermostat i think u need approval from a supervisor

[Kel’Thuz4d]: ill just get kiljaeden in here and well sort it out

[theLichKing]: No!

[Kel’Thuz4d]: no its cool

[theLichKing]: No, don’t…

[theLichKing]: Ugh, my old boss. I hate this guy.

[theLichKing]: Ok I’ll just…I’ll act casual. Like old times.

***User “Killzone’jaeden” has entered the chat.***

[Killzone’jaeden]: This had better be important.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: yeah lich king here just wants a warmer throne room is all

[Killzone’jaeden]: Warmer?

[theLichKing]: No it’s really not necessary sir

[Killzone’jaeden]: You want a warmer throne room?

[Kel’Thuz4d]: yeah

[theLichKing]: No

[Kel’Thuz4d]: yeah he does

[theLichKing]: I really don’t.

[Killzone’jaeden]: Ok sure let me just get right on that

[Killzone’jaeden]: I actually know these guys, they’re really great, literally made out of fire

[Killzone’jaeden]: They could heat your room right up for you

[Killzone’jaeden]: They’re called the Burning Legion…why don’t I just invite them to Azeroth so they can come and

[Killzone’jaeden]: OH WAIT

[Killzone’jaeden]: Someone’s too busy being Chatty Cathy to PREPARE HIS WORLD FOR AN APOCALYPSE

[theLichKing]: So sorry sir

[Kel’Thuz4d]: hey cmon though its not like weve just been sitting around

[Kel’Thuz4d]: were spreading plague and stuff

[Kel’Thuz4d]: we totally spread a lot of plague

[Kel’Thuz4d]: and dont forget the spider war

[theLichKing]: Actually I wouldn’t mention that…

[Killzone’jaeden]: Oh yes. The “Spider War.”

[Killzone’jaeden]: The “war” where you spent ten years getting rid

[Killzone’jaeden]: OF SPIDERS

[Killzone’jaeden]: Check it out, I had a Mosquito War last night. Mosquito lands on me, I squish it. Done. Two seconds.

[Killzone’jaeden]: Didn’t take me ten years

[Killzone’jaeden]: BECAUSE I’M NOT AN IDIOT

[theLichKing]: Yes sir

[theLichKing]: Very sorry sir.

[theLichKing]: I’m on it.

[Killzone’jaeden]: Y’know what, you know who else might want to hear about this

[Killzone’jaeden]: Maybe I shold get Sargeras in here

[Kel’Thuz4d]: sure

[theLichKing]: NO! That’s not necessary

[Killzone’jaeden]: Hold on I’ll go get him.

***User “Killzone’jaeden” has left the chat.***

[theLichKing]: ARE YOU CRAZY

[theLichKing]: “Sure”? Do you know who Sargeras actually is??

[Kel’Thuz4d]: i think so hes alliance right

[theLichKing]: …

[Kel’Thuz4d]: horde?

[theLichKing]: *headdesk*

***User “An00b’arak” has entered the chat.***

[An00b’arak]: hay guise whats goin on in dis chat

[Kel’Thuz4d]: sup

[An00b’arak]: sup

[Kel’Thuz4d]: sup

[An00b’arak]: sup

[Kel’Thuz4d]: whaaaazzzzaaaaaap

[An00b’arak]: what are yoooooou doing

[theLichKing]: GUYS

[theLichKing]: SERIOUSLY

[An00b’arak]: whats his problem

[Kel’Thuz4d]: hes cold

[An00b’arak]: well yeah he sits on a frozen throne inside of icecrown glacier with a sword named frostmorn

[An00b’arak]: the name icecrown glacier can only imply that among glaciers, which are themselves made of ice, this one is especially icy

[An00b’arak]: its possible there is some coldness involved

[theLichKing]: _Thank_ you!

[theLichKing]: Ok, so install me a thermostat pl0x.

[Kel’Thuz4d]: uh boss ixnay on asking him to install stuff

[An00b’arak]: what is that supposed to mean??

[Kel’Thuz4d]: uh

[An00b’arak]: oh i get it

[An00b’arak]: bc im an arachnid?????

[An00b’arak]: and how could i possibly install a thermostat without thumbs

[An00b’arak]: racist

[Kel’Thuz4d]: no no no

[Kel’Thuz4d]: well ok yeah how would that actually work

[An00b’arak]: im sure i dont know…im just an arachnid

[An00b’arak]: guess what im not ashamed of what i am

[An00b’arak]: >8< spider pride

***User “An00b’arak” has left the chat.***


 Posted by at 4:06 pm
Jul 102014

With my move complete(-ish, opening boxes in RL is much less fun then in-game), I’ve had some time to check back into the gaming scene. With the majority of my guild hooked on Wildstar and tons of people singing its praises on Twitter, I figured it was worth a shot. Thanks to a Guest Pass hookup from @vosskah, I’ve been playing extensively for the past week. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much here to convince me this game will survive long-term.

Annoying/weird animations, especially female

All I wanted was a cool Stalker (aka Rogue). I came away from an hour of character creation wondering exactly what the Carbine animators were going for, as every race had at least one animation that just looked bizarre, especially the stealth movement animations. As for the females…well, let’s say that every female character (excepting Aurin) has Sir Mix-a-Lot jiggle, which probably plays well with a younger demographic but to me just feels totally tasteless. There’s no way, as a happily married man, that I could play Wildstar with a female character and live.

Tone-deaf storylines

A lot of people skip WoW’s quest text and go right for the killing of the ten whatsits, but there’s generally a very coherent storyline to be found for each zone. Humor is there in the occasional quest, but in general, things are played pretty straight.

Borderlands (and especially Borderlands 2) is the opposite. It goes for maximum zany/crazy, gleefully subverting plot elements at every turn. It works because you know nothing is serious, with makes the few elements that ARE played straight more impactful.

I bring up these two games because Wildstar can’t decide which approach it wants to go for. The Dominion are cartoonishly evil; hell, you’re (minor spoiler) pressing buttons to execute groups of people within the first five minutes. That’s almost preferable to the Exiles, though, who get the sterotypical and insufferable cowboy/environmental archetypes. I get that it’s not worth writing a good storyline when most people skip it, but I can hardly remember the zones I just played through, which is not a good sign. I’m sure lots of people will tell me “it gets better later,” but as it stands, I just can’t see myself identifying with any of the characters.

Unsupportable PvE endgame

A lot of people are calling it a World of Warcraft clone…and it is, but it’s a bit more complicated then that. The vision for WoW pivoted significantly after the Burning Crusade expansion to making the game more accessible to a wider audience, as anyone who remembers the frequent invocations of “bring the player, not the class” can attest. Wildstar looks to revert that change, as this 12-step(!) guide to attuning for the first raid shows.

While this gives you the opportunity to design more…unique…challenges, it also means that you’re significantly limiting your audience to the more hardcore players. This works for a game like EvE because of its sandbox nature, but I foresee Carbine having great difficulty pushing out PvE content updates at the speed demanded by said-hardcore players. THAT means subscription numbers falling off drastically, which means the client will eventually be free to drive subscription sales. Lock it in – I’m predicting at least levels 1-20 will be F2P within a year.

Now, Wildstar does have a lot going for it. The Path system, in where you pick one of four sub-classes (Explorer, Scientist, Settler, or Soldier) to give you bits of extra content in each zone, is clever and reasonably well done. Addons are well-supported out of the box. Challenges spice up questing a good bit, tossing in random jumping puzzles and timed-kill bonuses. The combat system itself is also very well done – being able to see and dodge enemy attacks remains fun.

Overall – the game is competent, but in today’s PC gaming environment where competent games are nearly given away, it needed to be more, and it doesn’t quite get there. If you’re playing with a good group, it’s fine…but then, if you’re playing with a good group, all of the major MMO’s are fine, so pick your flavor and have fun. :)

 Posted by at 7:06 pm
Jun 052014

Still around and kicking. Without going into too much detail, I’ve been selected for a new position in a different location that requires working with sensitive material. As such, I’ve been keeping things quiet until I get established at my new assignment and get the lay of the land. Don’t think anyone’s’ missed much, since as far as I can tell, WoW’s exactly the same as when I left it.  (I’ll quote Azuriel here and express incredulity that 7 million people are still playing a game that hasn’t seen any content updates since September.)


 Posted by at 4:43 pm