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
Apr 012014
 

In case you missed it, Tinderhoof wrote the feral class guide for Wowhead. A good start for those who are new to the class. Really appreciate how it breaks down how X rotation is for new people, while Y rotation is for experts…too many people jump right to GIEF MAX DPS ROTATION PLOX with no consideration of the complexities involved.

 Posted by at 1:06 am
Mar 202014
 

Last weekend, my wife was out of town visiting family, so I had the unexpected chance to pretty much do nothing but play games all day. I played a good bit of Diablo 3 and realized two things: first, the changes made in ver2.0 fix the vast majority of what’s wrong with the game; second, the fact that it’s still permanently online for single-player (and laggy/flaky, when I was playing)  makes me still not want to play it. Eventually, I decided to attempt to trim down my Steam indie game backlog as much as possible by trialing as many games as I could. Here’s what I thought, in no particular order:

Sequence Okay, I cheated on the first one; I just replayed Sequence because I played it pre-Steam cards. Still an amazing game (it’s a DDR-like rhythm game with RPG progression) and you can pick it up for a buck during the current Humble Bundle sale. Highly recommended.

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons This game reminds me quite a bit of the movie Lost in Translation–critics and auteurs call it a masterpiece, but I just call it a nice nap. Seriously, this game has a very distinct narrative tone and focus, but after finishing it (it’s short, took me about 3 hours), I didn’t feel touched, I felt “well, that’s over.” I admire the dedication to the setting to have the characters speak a gibberish language, but it sure didn’t help my immersion any. I’d rather go back and play Ico instead.

Gone Home Now, THIS is how you tell a story. The genre can best be described as “first-person story;” the story starts and ends with you exploring a house and learning about the lives of the occupants. The story itself is a bit trite, but the attention to detail is amazing; just about every object in the house can be picked up and examined, and has setting-appropriate art. There’s no action whatsoever, but if you love storytelling and/or metafiction, this game’s got it.

Bionic Commando Rearmed I never played the original, but after hearing it frequently referenced and seeing good reviews of the remake, I figured I’d try it. Not bad, but I have to feel comfortable with a platformer’s controls to have any enjoyment, and I was still struggling with the grappling hook after more than an hour. Uninstalled.

Thomas Was Alone This game doesn’t look like much, but it’s surprisingly well-polished. Sure, all you’re doing is moving around shapes to fit them into various holes, but they’re all voiced by charming English accents, and the play itself is solid. Definitely worth a look.

Guacamelee! Remember what I said above about solid platformer controls? Guacamelee nails it. One of the best Metroidvania-style games I’ve played in a long time. Fairly difficult, though.  Definitely a game I’m coming back to.

Starseed Pilgrim This game falls into the newish genre of “the game is figuring out how to play the game.” I figured out how to play it, and didn’t like it much. Worth a look if you’re into procedurally-generated stuff, otherwise, stay away.

A Valley Without Wind I think every game designer has this dream where they have unlimited time and money to add as many features into their games as they want, and never have to cut anything. This platformer  feels like the result of that dream. It’s kinda like Terraria, except there’s no building, and there’s no fun. Sure, there’s 27 million things to do, but if your game doesn’t pass the basic “is it fun?” test, there’s not much point.

A Virus Named TOM I got a good chuckle out of this game’s art. It’s a puzzle game, though, with a mechanic we’ve all seen before (spin the tiles to connect the pipe…err, “circuits”). Not my thing.

Antichamber This is a Portal-ish first-person puzzler, and yet another game where you have to discover the rules (and then figure out which rules can currently be broken). It’s good, but at the time I played it, it just made my brain hurt.

Rock of Ages I totally dig the style of the game. The concept is simple; you and an opponent roll boulders down a steep hill, attempting to smash down their gate. While “reloading,” you have the opportunity to set up defenses to slow/shrink the enemy boulder. Sounds great; unfortunately, the decision to do everything in real-time makes it hard to get feedback on how well everything is going. When you’re rolling your boulder, you get a picture-in-picture view of your opponent’s boulder so you can sort of see how your defenses worked out, but you’re likely too busy dodging your opponent’s defenses to notice. I played a few matches, won/lost and had no idea why I won/lost, and then stopped.

Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians I like games with music/rhythm elements (Pata-Pata-Pata-PON!). This game – not so much. It seems like they started out trying to make a music-based puzzle platformer, struck out, and ended up with a music-themed puzzle platformer. It’s not terrible, but ir’s kinda generic, and I quit after one level. Definitely worth a look if you’re into electronic music.

Hack, Slash, Loot Install, Try, Uninstall. A very bad roguelike. I see no reason to play this when there are other strictly better roguelikes out there.

Paranautical Activity I’m not really into FPS’s, though I play a few from time to time. This is a roguelike FPS; pretty much first-person Binding of Isaac (which I greatly enjoyed, btw).  For what it’s worth, it seemed pretty well designed, but after dying on the (randomly generated) first level repeatedly, decided that this was not the game for me.

Master Reboot Of all the games on the list, this is the one that I have no idea how to categorize. It’s a first-person…exploration? Puzzle? Horror? Mystery? All of these. The sound design is GREAT. Unfortunately, the graphics frequently cross the line from “darkly symbolic” to “looks like shitty first-generation 3D” and it seemed pretty buggy. Good concept and story but could have used some more polish.

Retrovirus Hi, Descent! I’ve long wondered why nobody tried to make a modern Descent, which I had a lot of fun with as a kid (only the shareware version, though). Well, this is here, and this is pretty good, but the pacing/level design isn’t as tight as Descent and the sound is meh. As I write this review, I realize I have no idea what happened story-wise; something about a virus that I’m chasing through a computer when I started, then lots of shooting glowy pink bits. Okay, not great.

Space Pirates and Zombies My current jam. I’m massively conflicted about it, really; there’s lots of design nitpicks I could throw at it, but it’s in one of my favorite genres (top-down space shooter/adventure, aka Elite) so I let it get away with a lot.

Yay! So…20ish games down with one or two I’ll come back to, which leaves me with still more than 100. Whee.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 11:54 pm
Mar 092014
 

This is somewhat embarrassing. I’ve been gushing about Hearthstone, planning to write guides and things for it…and now, I can’t be bothered to log in. Just jumping on to knock out quests feels like a chore now, when a few months ago, I vividly remember staying up until the daily quest reset a few months ago to get one more in.

So what happened? Well, I thought about it for a bit, and there’s three main factors:

  1. Lack of extrinsic progression. Otherwise described as “nothing-to-do” syndrome. WoW players are intimately familiar with this; once you’ve ran all the content in the current tier and gotten most of the drops you need, there’s no real reason to keep coming back. (Excepting raiders, who have a whole set of group dynamics that non-raiders do not.) Same thing for Hearthstone; once you’ve unlocked the majority of the cards, there’s no more meaningful progression. That would be fine, except…
  2. Lack of skill progression. My progression in Hearthstone reminds me a lot of my progression playing online poker. If you study, you go from being completely clueless to being reasonably good pretty quickly. However, further improvement past that point gets more and more challenging, and becomes extremely hard to quantify. For Hearthstone, once you’ve figured out the basic flow of the game, researched deckbuilding (or Arena drafting for value) online, and made all the the common newbie mistakes, there’s not really anywhere else to go.  I’ve realized that any further progression on my part revolves around anticipating draws (both mine and my opponents) and adjusting current play to account for that, but that’s pretty fiddly. I’d still play anyway, though, if it wasn’t for…
  3. Speed. The current turn limit is pretty slow. There are a few turns where you need 90 seconds (either due to a complex situation, or just waiting for all the animations to play out if you have lots of moves to make) but for the most part, 30 seconds is plenty. I’m not sure how to change this, though, as I did need that time as a new player to read card descriptions and things. Currently, I’m doing something else in a second browser window or on the phone while I’m waiting for the opponent to take his turn. When I’m enjoying that other activity more than playing Hearthstone, that’s a problem. My way of fixing this in online poker was playing multiple tables at once; that’d be really cool for Hearthstone, but will never happen.

Note that I’m not really complaining – I’ve definitely enjoyed my time in Hearthstone, and it’s completely unrealistic to consider a game that has still not been officially released unworthy because it can’t be my go-to game forever. I do hope that the upcoming patch with the live release addresses at least the speed issue, though, and gives me something else to work towards. (Grinding out Legend rank seems off-putting to me with the current rapid rank resets.) I’ve got about 2000 gold and 3000 dust saved up hoping for something new to come along.

In the meantime, I’m dabbling in a bunch of games. I’ve gotten hooked on Marvel: Puzzle Quest on my phone; if you liked the previous PQ’s at all, give it a shot; it’s F2P, and the limitations of playing for free aren’t that restrictive. I may write up a one-off guide post for it, as there’s some interesting depth to the mechanics of the asynchronous multiplayer. I’m also working through my Steam backlog, though I have no hopes of ever finishing that. :)

 Posted by at 10:57 am
Feb 282014
 

WoW Insider announced today (though we’ve known for a bit) that a large budget cut is coming, which means all the freelancer class columnists (like me) have been cut loose from writing. Truthfully, I haven’t written anything for WoWI in a long time, but I had always been planning a comeback somewhere in the back of my mind. Now that that door has been closed, I’m somewhat at a loss. I’ll get back to that point, though; right now, I’m going to reminisce a bit.

My first post

One of my favorite screenshots.

It was January of 2011, Cataclysm was in full swing,  and as you might have expected, it was a feral DPS guide. I do so like writing guides, for some reason. Skim it if you want a blast from the past– Keep up the Mangle debuff! Spec 0/32/9! We can bearcat! :) I was much more into WoW then; I hadn’t hit burnout, my family was still doing okay, and I wanted to know all the things so I could be the very best that ever was.

Believe it or not, I actually deployed to Iraq during this time period. Somehow, I managed to keep churning out a column for WoWI every week or two; I was in a part of Iraq that had reasonably good internet (in context) and I was actually able to keep playing the game. I got kicked from one PUG because they didn’t believe me that my AFK was due to ducking and covering from artillery fire. :) As things ended up, Iraq was pretty dull for my unit once we got settled, and being on my own meant plenty of writing time. I actually hacked out my first attempt at creative writing for the Blizzcon writing contest in 2011; it’s here, if you want to indulge yourself in some bad fanfiction.  I also put in hours upon hours before finally successfully soloing Kael’Thas in Tempest Keep; he’s a pushover now, of course, but he was no joke at level 85 in Firelands gear.  I also knocked off Naxxramas and Ulduar later in the expansion, though my attention was quickly distracted by the new shiny; monks.

Sleep, write, work; pick two

I played monks extensively during the MoP beta, and enjoyed them a good bit. (All the druids were busy arguing about whether Heart of the Wild and Symbiosis were the end of the game as we knew it, or something.) I got this crazy idea; I’ll start up a monk blog! It’ll be awesome! I’ll be the go-to guy for monks and feral druids! Yeah.

Trying to keep up two class columns on WoWI and two personal blogs took its toll; the quality of my work started falling off significantly. Even so, I had a bunch of things prepared for when MoP was to go live…then this happened. That was pretty much the end of my freelance writing career. I kept it going for a while, but after that incident, I was burned out and just going through the motions, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I don’t want to rehash that again, so I’ll stop there – instead I’ll say that some of the internal email WoWI threads were incredibly epic/funny discussions, usually spurred by epic/trolling comments or “suggestions.” (The suggestion box? Whatever you sent in to WoWI was visible to every writer on the site. If you said something extremely foolish in there, we were likely all talking about you. :) Some highlights (of course, none of these are verifiable and could’ve been someone trolling, but still):

  • The MANY people who confused WoWI with Blizz and sent in personal info/CC #’s to try to get their accounts restored/fixed/etc
  • The people who wrote in saying “writer X should be fired because (insert poorly-written rant here)
  • The girl who wanted to be a booth…”model” for Blizzcon
  • The guy who complained because he was being shown diet pill ads on the sidebar
  •  The guy who repeatedly asked us to feature his website/stream which was nothing but him ganking newbies (and when we refused, created several false identities to also suggest his site)
What now?

I’ve pretty much come full circle; I loved WoW, hated WoW, and am now coming back around to thinking about resubscribing. :) Now that things have stabilized in the family life some, I’ve got a chance to come back and do some things; I just have to accept that I can’t do everything, which is really tough for me to do. I’d like to reconnect with my guild, re-make some friends, and just generally rejoin the community without being focused 100% on “raiding or GTFO.” I’m not sure I’m at the point where I can do that, as I have a huge overachiever streak in games. We’ll see – garrisons are looking mighty interesting…

 Posted by at 12:03 am
Dec 312013
 

15732588-happy-new-year-2014-message-over-black-backgroundI already talked about the personal stuff in the last post. So, what did I play this year?

Winter (is coming…yeah, it’s old now)

I was still very into WoW at this point. I rejoined a raid team for Throne of Thunder (a decision that, in retrospect, was probably foolish) and did quite a bit of soloing old raid content (25m Naxx for green Druid T7, which is the best looking armor you can still get). I also really enjoyed Isle of Thunder, which is my favorite zone of the expansion. The gating was well done, the introduction of random rares for VP was great, and dat Saurok jump.

Outside of WoW, I played Dishonored, but quit it early on. I need to give it another try – the game itself was fascinating, but I 1. don’t like stealth games very much and 2. always feel compelled to play the “good” side for morality-choice games, which quickly led to frustration. The world-building was excellent, though. I also played some Secret World, which was entertaining, but the hotbar combat felt too close to what I was already doing at the time. That’s on my list for another look.

Spring

WoW in this season was more ToT raiding  (polished off Lei Shen around June/July) and getting into pet battling. I got REALLY into pet battles for about a month, but once I had a good selection of pets at level 25 and had finished the quests, I was basically done. I mean, I get the concept of horizontal progression, but once you get more than ~50 pets, I felt I was fighting the UI more then actually having fun battling.

Other games included Borderlands 2, which was stellar, and Bioshock Infinite, which was less so. BI was visually spectacular, but the gameplay was meh and the storyline took a few too many leaps. BL2, meanwhile, hit the perfect combination of number geekery and action. I also got my son into Skylanders, which was a great time. (Though the Skylanders rubber-band system of co-op was incredibly frustrating, especially with no jumping.)

Summer

I essentially retired from WoW after ToT was over; I hadn’t planned on it that way, but my wife and I a big fight over continuing to raid. She had a valid point – being as she’s wheelchair-bound, asking her to keep an eye on our son while I raid is stressful. I made a few quick sojourns later to Timeless Isle (decent, but no IoT) and Proving Grounds, but that basically finished off my WoW playing.

Otherwise, this was BL2 and Indie season. Played some Gunpoint, Rogue Legacy, and Dust; also spent a few mindless days embroiled in idlegames (Cookie Clicker, Candy Box, Anti-Idle, etc) and flash games on Kongregate.

Fall

Birthday time! Since I was feely overly depressed, I threw my usual financial caution to the winds and dropped about $1000 on a new desktop PC and monitor. Of course, I then got into the Hearthstone beta and have been mainly playing that nonstop, which definitely required that power. :) This month, I picked up Skyrim for $6 and Tomb Raider for $5 during the Steam sales, so I finally have something pretty to play on my new 1440p screen. Don’t really like Skyrim (blasphemy, I know) but I’ve been enjoying Tomb Raider so far. Apparently, I need a runny jumpy shooty stabby game at least once a year. (I had the Assassin’s Creed games on my short list of games to pay full price for, but ACIII ended that trend.)

Looking ahead to 2014

Blizzard-wise, I’m eagerly anticipating the Hearthstone open beta and then release, to bring more players into the game and hopefully some non-PvP content (which I would happily pay for). This may be the first year I don’t pick up a WoW expansion pack on relea….*snort* yeah, I’ll still buy it Day 1, even if I’m not raiding anything. I’m very hopeful for more of a difficulty range for 1-player content that isn’t just a one-off gimmick (Brawler’s Guild, hey). Otherwise, I’ve felt zero compulsion to go back to Diablo 3 since abandoning a character in Act 2 of Inferno a few weeks after release; I’ll probably put some time in with the new gameplay systems there and see if I feel Reaper of Souls is worth a purchase. Still don’t own any Starcraft games. :)

I don’t get excited about upcoming games anymore, really (odds are I’m waiting for a sale anyway), but if I had to pick a quick list, I’d say Transistor, Watch Dogs, Child of Light, and the further progression of Star Citizen, though I don’t expect a release there until 2015.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

 

 

 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Sep 102013
 

It’s normally a tradition of mine to do a “what you need to know” post and a “gear list” post for each major patch that comes out…but real life is still kicking my ass, so you get this abbreviated list of mostly links to better resources.

    • For a general list of things that’ve changed, my 5.4 changes posts on WoW Insider from a couple months ago are still relevant. (part 1, part 2)
    • DoC vs. HOTW vs NV: After spending most of the PTR being inferior to HOTW, a late buff pushed DoC back on top and NV into spitting distance of HOTW. Same guidance from 5.2 applies – Take DoC if you can manage the additional rotational complexity (either via player skill or an easy fight), take HOTW if you don’t want to risk the DoC rotation or you have a use for the HOTW cooldown. I personally run HOTW. Nature’s Vigil is now decent if you use it on cooldown. More discussion here.
    • SotF vs Inc vs FoN: Incarnation still sucks (and it actually is worse now than it was in 5.2). FoN and SotF are now roughly comparable – FoN pulls ahead slightly (2-3%) if  you have Rune of Reorigination and drop all the treants during a Rune proc. More testing is needed to see if it’s superior for all gear configurations.
    • Nature’s Swiftness is gone and is replaced with a passive slow HoT, Ysera‘s Gift. The optimal choice will be based on encounter. For steady incoming damage, use YG; for frequent bursts of damage, use CW; for infrequent heavy bursts, use Renewal.
    • Trinkets: VERY complicated topic, but a rough stab at an order would be Rune, Ticking Ebon Detonator, Haromm’s, Assurance of Consequence, H Renataki’s, H Juju, Thok’s, Discipline of Xuen. Raffy has a list of pairs here, which is a better way to sort these things. Catus has also been updated to v15 with 5.4 support. Really, you need to do a trinket priority list for each encounter – I suspect AoC will be more broadly useful than Haromm’s even if Haromm’s is slightly better in the sims.
    • Also from that thread, Raffy’s rough guess at a BiS list is below. There’s lots more gear discussion in this thread. Enjoy!

Head: [574] Headpiece of the Shattered Vale
Neck: [580] Immerseus' Crystalline Eye
Shoulder: [574] Spaulders of the Shattered Vale
Back: [608] Fen-Yu, Fury of Xuen
Chest: [574] Raiment of the Shattered Vale
Wrist: [580] Bomber's Blackened Wristwatch
Hands: [574] Grips of the Shattered Vale
Waist: [580] Cord of Black Dreams
Legs: [580] Riou's Vigilant Leggings
Feet: [580] Pandaren Roofsprinters
Finger 1: [580] Kil'ruk's Band of Ascendancy
Finger 2: [580] Ring of Restless Energy
Trinket 1: [549] Rune of Re-Origination
Trinket 2: [580] Haromm's Talisman
Main Hand: [582] Hellscream's Pig Sticker

 Posted by at 1:34 pm
Aug 112013
 

A quick personal note: I am no longer going on my unit’s deployment. Instead, I’ve been kicked up the ladder and am doing the same job I was doing at a higher-level organization. (I hesitate to call it a “promotion” because even though it’s a job with increased duties and responsibilities, the concept of promotion has a specific meaning in the military.) Between untangling all of the new work issues I get to deal with, preparing  for a move to a (hopefully) handicapped-accessible house, and getting my son ready to start school, I’ve been so slammed that I haven’t even touched WoW for weeks, let alone raid. As always, the forum is staying active, so keep on keeping on and I’ll rejoin the discussion at some point in the future. Hopefully.

I am planning on updating the guides on the site for 5.4 in the near future, but I’d like feedback on the gear list. That’s typically the thing that takes the longest amount of time to do, and I’d appreciate any input (of course, if you don’t use it and prefer wowhead or AMR, that’s also relevant input. :)) Updates to non-feral material will depend on time/motivation, neither of which I have in abundance at the moment.

 Posted by at 8:16 am
Jul 262013
 

As 5.4 looms, the Isle of Thunder is yesterday’s news. Been there, done that, got the Saurok shirt, right? Well, that lack of popularity means the old Isle is the new spot for farming up some quick VP, with no muss, fuss, or group members to get in your way. Sure, forming a solid group to knock over heroic scenarios or challenge-mode 5-mans is faster, but not everyone can schedule those kinds of events. Don’t sigh and run dailies for the 100th time (ugh) or queue for LFR AGAIN (double ugh) — go knock out some rares and go home.

 

Why?

Okay, so if there previous paragraph and my mad MS Paint skills haven’t convinced you, here’s why you should give this a try.

  1. Pretty much, every other method of earning VP requires contributions from other players, either willingly (the groups mentioned above) or self-interestedly (LFR, scenarios, 5-mans). Your success or failure on these minibosses is totally up to you. Kill Ramuk extra-fast because you ran the Bloodlust buff to him? You. Go splat into the ground after you get punted off the mountain by Progenitus? Also you. 
  2. Your speed of completion (and thus, VP earn rate) scales directly with your skill and gear. Get a weapon upgrade, and you can roll through the run a minute or two faster. This feels awesome. LFR, OTOH, is going to take about an hour to finish regardless if your ilevel is 450 or 550, just because so much relies on other players who have little incentive to do their best. This sucks.
  3. (While gear scaling also applies to dailies, you can feel the difference a lot more here since so much more of the time is combat, compared to dailies where so much is simply travel/clicking times.)
  4. Each boss drops 2 Lesser Charms, on average. While Battlefield: Barrens is arguably a faster source, that’s going away next patch, making this likely to be the most reliable method.
  5. Some of the bosses drop other cool stuff. Ra’sha, in particular, drops a very handy suicide dagger, as well as a 30% chance of dropping a supply bag, while the Construct has a 20% chance to drop a pet.
  6. My estimates are that the VP gain rate from this is equal or slightly higher than the rate received from a scenario or heroic…but only for the first time you do that scen/heroic. After that, the IoT rares pull way ahead. (Heroic scenarios, even multiple, are the best option…but it can be hard to find a good group to knock them out.)

Prerequisites

  • You need decent gear. It doesn’t have to be full heroic TF-bling, but realize that many of the bosses have some kind of stacking buff or periodic damage mechanic that’ll serve as a soft enrage of sorts. You need to be able to pull about 50k DPS solo, so if you’re not at that level yet, keep working.
  • If you haven’t completed all the introductory scenarios for the Isle of Thunder, you’ll have to do that too. It doesn’t take long (especially if you have the gear from the last point), just go knock it out. If you have stealth, you can skip a lot of stuff and just go pull the mob you need to kill.
  • Rather obvious, but you need a low-pop server, or just an off-peak time. The rares do spawn quickly (45-60 minute respawn timer), but this strategy loses a lot of value if you’re chasing respawns.
  • Not mandatory but helpful: Have completed the Saurok quest to unlock your Saurok disguise; exalted with KT/SR and completed the final KT/SR quest for a 15% damage buff; something to increase your water speed.

Strategy 

Isle of Thunder Rare Spawn Map

thanks to wowrarespawns.blogspot.com

There’s not really that much strategy involved: you’re just exploiting the fact that nobody comes here anymore, so you’ve got an island full of rare spawns that have HP values tuned for characters in 5.2 gear. Plan a route and go, killing every boss you come to.
Still, since it wouldn’t be much of a guide without it, here’s the route I use as Alliance, along with tips for each boss; Horde will likely run it the same, just in reverse order.
  1. Start at your faction hub. Buff up, repair, make sure you have some inventory slots free, etc.
  2. On the way out, run by Jaina to get the 30m Thunder’s Boon 15% damage buff. Horde will run by the Anima Golem for Blessing of the Animus. If you haven’t reached exalted with KTO/Sunreavers and finished their final quest,  never mind this; you can’t get it yet. Continue.
  3. Run down the stairs, make a right, and stop. You see those little orbs scattered out with a couple NPC’s nearby? Clicking one of those will give you a 30% haste buff for 1 minute. Grab the buff, and run north up the coast and through the ruined wall to Ramuk. He’s quite easy, just interrupt his Crouch when he starts channeling it, and avoid the Pound.
  4. Mount up, run through the door Ramuk is guarding, and make a hard left to climb the slope here. Once you get to the top, make a U-turn and run along the top of the wall to find Molthor. He has an interruptable fear (Twisted Visage) and a cone attack (Thunder Crash) that hits decently hard. Oh, and some annoying but irrelevant adds. Occasionally, Molthor spawns at the back of the Swollen Vault instead of in the tower; I don’t bother with him if that’s the case.
  5. Do another U-turn, run back along the wall the way you came, and make a left at the long stairway leading up to Nalak and the entrance to ToT. Go down the stairs and look to your left; in the large hollowed-out tree will be Goda, the giant turtle.  All he does is a Shell Spin, which knocks you back; you can stun him out of it for extra DPS time. Probably the most annoying boss, just because he has the largest health pool of all of them.
  6. Run back up the stairs, and make a left at the place you came in out. Pass by Fleshcrafter Hoku and head for the forge on the far wall, where Lu-Ban will be waiting.  He periodically activates Skyforged Hammers; stun him and/or pop defensive cooldowns during this phase, as he hits pretty hard while it’s active.
  7. Run down the stairs, bypass Mono-han and run into the Lightning Vein Mine. Go straight, follow the S-shaped curve around, and head for the back entrance, where Backbreaker Uru is patrolling. (Until you get a hang of this area, take it slow and kill your way through instead of running, as these mobs are ranged and have stealth detection.) Uru will periodically cast Break Spine, which roots you, and then Massive Stomp, which does roughly 50% HP damage if you don’t jump to avoid it. Either use one of your class abilities to block/escape the root and jump the Stomp, or use defensive CD’s, your choice.
  8. From Uru, mount up and take a running jump off the back of his platform, aiming for the rocky plateau. If you make the jumps, you can ride the short distance to Al’tabim; if not, just drop into the water and swim around. Either way, once you get there, the only ability you have to worry about it Meteor Shower. These fall randomly so aren’t much of a threat, but pay attention as they do hit hard and 2-3 hits will kill you.  This ends the northern leg of the trip.
  9. Now, you have two choices; you can either beacon back to the start and start with Progenitus, or keep going and start with Mumta. I’ll assume you’re continuing where you left off. Mount up and heard toward the Court of Bones. (Incidentally, if you have any Incantations in your bags, here’s where you can use them.) Run up the stairs of the largest crypt and engage Mumta on the roof. He summons a Wailing Spirit add that moves slow but hits hard (so kite away from it) and channels a nasty damaging spell that either be interrupted or LOS’ed around one of the pillars in the area.
  10. Once Mumta is down, climb down from the roof of the crypt and head south, through the troll areas, to the beach. (If you’re an awesome engineer like me, pop your Glider and fly most of the way there.) You’ll find Ku’lai and his Tamed Pterrorwing walking around here; kill the Pterrorwing first, then Ku’lai, stunning him out of his whirlwind.
  11. Run east along the beach, then take a quick swim around the rocks to get to the cave where Ra’sha lives, guarded by two nasty elites. Bypass them however you see fit, and then kill Ra’sha (who’s a pushover).
  12. From Ra’sha, run north and into the Ihgaluk Crag area. After a few seconds, you’ll transform into a Saurok. Leap through the area heading east, and keep an eye out for the ramp heading up to Progenitus. The big threat here is Unleash Blood, which is an AoE that powerfully knocks back anything within 10 yards. Since you’re fighting on top of a mountain, this likely kills you. Keep an eye our for the red circle, and run out when it shows up.
  13.  Last but not least, head south to face the Haywire Construct, who patrols the beach area of Ihgaluk Crag. His main ability, also called Haywire, is uninterruptable and does a lot of damage over 20 seconds; just use survivability cooldowns, and heal up when it’s over. Also, be careful of adds. Probably the hardest rare to kill, so if you’re undergeared, don’t feel bad about skipping him for a bit.

That’s it! 11 bosses, 165 Valor Points. I find it entertaining to push myself to see how fast I can complete the entire run; my record (starting from Jaina and ending with the 11th boss kill) is 21 minutes. I’ll throw out the challenge: Can anyone pull a sub-20 Isle rare run?

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Jul 022013
 

leishen4273

 

Okay, so it’s not exactly cutting edge…but it is ahead of the curve. (C’mon, I’m entitled to one brag post now and then…just ignore all the skeletons in the background.) Congratulations to all my fellow raiders!

Some stats since I like them:

  • Total time to complete tier from launch: 17 weeks, though launch week was spent reclearing 5.0 content, so 16 weeks total. Since we raid 4 hours/week, that’s 64 hours. (An interesting experiment would be for someone to scrape WOL and analyze boss kill dates in the context of time spent raiding. Sure, your 12-hour/week guild may have killed LS in 8 weeks, but if it took you 96 total hours…? Of course, that’ guild has the disadvantage of fewer drops, VP, etc.)
  • Hardest bosses: Horridon, 4 weeks; Dark Animus, 3 weeks
  • Easiest bosses (first pull and kill in same week): Jin’rokh, Primordius, Twin Consorts
  • GuildOx ranking: ~12,000. Seems low, but if you consider ~32,000 guilds have killed Jin’rokh and ~25,000 have killed Horridon, we’re basically right in the middle. Given those numbers, flex raiding makes a lot more sense to me then it did previously. It seems most of us who read WoW blogs and are “plugged in” to the community, so to speak, are all naturally more interested in the game and thus gravitate to more “challenging” content, but there’s a vast audience of people out there who’ve raided a couple times and had to give it up, for whatever reason. Horridon killed 7,000 guilds; Council and Tortos 5,000 more; Megaera, Ji-Kun, and Durumu another 5k. I don’t feel like it’s difficulty killing these guilds, though, I think it’s just natural attrition, and Blizzard is hoping that flex will let guilds recruit as many players as they want (ish) for raiding so they can have a buffer to absorb manning problems.
  • Average ilvl of common raid members at time of Lei Shen kill: 523.7 (I just finished legendary, so was highest at 528)

Oh, and one obligatory DPS chart from our kill. Don’t let anyone tell you ferals aren’t viable.*

LeiShen DPS

*Excepting heroic raiders because you guys are crazy anyway…except I’m about to be one of those now. Hmm. Okay, back to work.

 Posted by at 1:38 pm