Oh the Places You’ll Go!


I’m not sure about this whole ‘Ulduar’ thing. Composing my initial wishlist for the place, it seemed the more I studied the drops the less certain I became of what I was going to do. With a selection of options for any given item slot and stat spread, BiS becomes next to impossible to determine, if it indeed even exists. The more I played with the various combinations and permutations the more I became convinced that none of it mattered. I could swap entire sets of gear in an out and watch my SP, crit and haste all shift half a percent one way or another, but no matter how I put things together I couldn’t come up with one that trumped the rest. Add in the uncertain benefit of set bonuses and the ‘soft’ caps one attempts to maintain as a holy priest and the whole thing became one giant tangled ball of Bleah.

Compounding this issue, Blizzard has once again included a BiS (this one I’m pretty sure of) in 10 man Ulduar, and thus I resign myself to weeks of running a dungeon I don’t really need for that one drop. I say “I’m pretty sure” because we of course still don’t have a complete loot table for Ulduar, and thus who knows?! Maybe Yogg drops sparkly candy gold Jesus, and totally screws up all the planning I just did. He probably does, the fucker. As if that wasn’t enough, many of the pre-3.1 epics are making a comeback. Despite Blizzard’s claims that itemization will get better as time goes on, many of the Ulduar items are lackluster at best, certainly not noticeably better than their non-Ulduar counterparts. So even when an items is an upgrade, it may be so small (we’re talking like 2 SP here, no joke) it hardly seems worth it.

Overall, this pretty disappointing from a gear standpoint. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still thrilled with the new content and quite “Squeeee!” over the theoretical legendary building in my inventory, but for all the awesome gear hype around this place, it seems to have turned out to be a few allstars and then a cast of indistinguishable mush. This is just me talking of course, and I think holy priests have it pretty easy as far as itemization goes. Get some crit, haste, spellpower, find some way to regen mana, go. There’s some soft caps of course, but as long as you keep people alive, no one is going to eat your face. Well except for that one guy, but he’s got problems. I have several friends who are in quite a pinch, be it from typical Blizzard itemization insanity (hello warriors and boomkin), or from freaking out over exactly which of a series of barely distinguishable pieces will be BiS because to them it matters (hello DPS) and none of them have had a good time of this. I gotta say…not impressed Blizzard.


I’m Melting!


I love Northwest weather, but sometimes it can be a real pain. Almost an entire week now of trying to get some bus stops mapped out, and no luck because paper and rain don’t mix well. Still, when it does get done it’ll be pretty cool. Just think, if you have reason to visit the shithole that is Corvallis, Oregon you can use the transit system there and know that I put those dots on the map. Bet that makes you feel safe. Also I need a bike.

Mets Win, Double Header.


So allergy season has finally passed in Corvallis. Walking to class today I enjoyed the feeling of actually being able to breathe for the first time in weeks. Man, air is just great. Also, there’s a new clip out of “9”, and oh man does it just make me want to see the movie more. There’s two clips in a row, watch them both. Predisposition to post-apocalyptic distopian futures aside, this unique idea has potential (at least in my mind) to make a truly great story. My one concern is that it will suffer the same fate as so many other things Tim Burton is involved in: taking an excellent mature theme and butchering it in the name of making it ‘child friendly’. I want to believe cutting away from the attack in the second clip is just to build suspense, but I can’t help but fear it’s to make the move G. He’s only the producer though, so hopes are still high.

A Brave New World.


Or perhaps a really, really old one. Either way, Ulduar is out and TRI just spent 2 days having a blast and accruing an enormous repair bill. The thing I am most excited about for the new dungeon is not the new gear, new encounters, new lore, or even the legendary for healers, but the fact that we’re at the cutting edge. For the first time ever, TRI is clearing content that has not been done by countless groups before us. And this means we get to create and test our own strategies. This is quite possibly the most fun I have ever had in this game. Even being in one of probably the first 5 Maly25 kills on the server, it wasn’t hard for previous groups to establish a “Bring some DKs, win” strategy, so there was no figuring out the fight beyond learning the keystrokes. In Ulduar, we make it all up as we go along, and it is Totally Awesome.

Flame Leviathan is a joke, there’s really not a whole lot of strat to Razorscale once you figure out they key to victory is to have a designated person to attract blue fire, and Ignis was bugged. However XT-002 Deconstructor is neither bugged nor simple to figure out. Thusly do I present you with the TRI strat for killing him! (From a healer POV, of course.)

We begin with The Form. Many raids have adopted either a 3 camp strategy, or just spreading out at random. Using such complex concepts as geometry, we have merged these ideas. The building block behind all of this is that each square on the convenient grid of ground represents 5 yards. If you know the range of various abilities, this makes keeping out of (or in) range a snap. Using this, we set up a framework using the healing team. On the kill, we were using a 7 healer team: 2 Paladins, 2 Holy Priests, 1 Discipline, and one of each Restoration Shaman and Druid. The Priests and Shaman form a 12×12 square (or 60 yard x 60 yard) with the boss at the center. Halfway between the South points goes 1 MT healer, while the other two occupy midpoints on the East and West, 1-2 squares in from the main framework. This keep all of the healers in range of at least one other healer, while keeping them out of range of any nasty things that might happen to their fellows. The MT sets up on the South side of the tank/melee/boss mess, and the melee on the North. Range forms four camps loosely based around the four corner healers, and the OT will eventually have his/her “default” position be  just South of the entire form. A visual, original courtesy of Anna:

destructor-healsTo kick it off, the MT sets up in position, the southernmost tank healer cues off of him, and the rest of the grid is set up from there. Hunter MD pulls.

So, how does this play out? The idea behind this is to prevent healers from having to move, while also not being at risk of getting blown up. Since each healer is in range of at least one other, they can assist each other when an individual gets a bomb of some sort. Range or melee are encouraged to run to either the East or West when they get a bomb, as that will maximize their healer coverage (remember not to run too far!) Tantrums are fairly easily dealt with by the AoE healing capabilities of the raid healers, as the entire raid should be more or less in range of each other. During tantrums, we had all the AoE healers (including the Druid) healing the raid, while our two Paladins kept the tank up and topped off anyone getting bombed.

During phase 2, the healers actually get a breather. Raid damage is minimal, leaving the only real concern from a healing standpoint the MT. At this point, it is fairly safe to have the raid healers assist with DPS on the various adds that spawn, particularly the scrapbots. The pummellers which the OT picks up hit something like comatose schoolgirls armed with wet noodles, and I discovered dropping a Lightwell near his default position was enough to heal almost all the damage he took, with an occasional HoT tossed out by one healer or another.

Once the raid has mastered these steps, it’s just a matter of switching between the two a couple of times, and doing 25 million damage in 6 minutes. The biggest problems we encountered were people getting bombed during Tantrums and not getting away, thus killing a large portion of the raid, and scrapbots getting through en masse. The boss does hit quite hard, so your MT healers should be prepared, and the enrage timer is moderately unforgiving, so your DPS need to bring their A game. Other than that, the fight is difficult to learn but seems return visits will be quite easy.

America Hates You, Phillip Morris.


I put this off so long that by now most of you already know about it, but for the three people living under a rock, here goes. I Love You Phillip Morris is a movie inspired by a true story about a couple of gay prison cell mates that end up falling in love with each other. After one is released, the other attempts a series of cons to escape and be reunited with his lover. It stars Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey, and is scheduled for release in late 2009.

This film doesn’t have a distributor in the United States, because it is too gay. Let me repeat that. American audiences, who faithfully eat up countless shitty clones of movies in which people get raped, murdered, brutalized, tortured, abused, or any of a host of other condemnable actions are rejecting this film because there are a couple of penises in close proximity. The idiocy, it boggles the mind.

The film makers are (were? We don’t have a distributor still, so it’s not really clear) considering dumbing it down in an attempt to get someone to pick it up. This is wrong for two reasons. One, it ruins the power of the story. Americans can get well the fuck over their homophoebia and join the rest of the world in the age of fucking reason. Second, and perhaps more importantly, because that would mean less gay scenes with Ewan. And it was been scientifically proven that the degree to which I am gay can be quantified as exactly one Ewan McGregor, in the metric.

If you’re like me in that you like good movies, are not a lunatic homophobe, and think both Ewan and Jim (when he tries) are excellent actors, than I urge you to…uh…hmm. Write a stern letter to  your mayor? I’m really not sure what we can do, other than be filled with impotent rage. Regardless, I think making people aware of the outrage is half the battle. If public opinion puts enough pressure on the distributors, maybe someone will come to their senses and back this thing.

I Broke Pandora.


Lately I’ve been using Pandora as a way to make my music collection even more absurdly eclectic. This has been going quite well, and I now have dozens of songs by bands I’d never even heard of, and been convinced to further sample others that the world dismissed as one hit wonders. However, as A) my music tastes are odd by almost any metric, and B) I actively rate songs, I appear to be a hazard to the song generation formula. After going through and rating a half dozen or so of the previous songs, Pandora generated its “Taking longer than usual to determine the next song” error. I realize there are a variety of factors that can achieve this, but I like to think I just confused the thing. Mostly because the next thing it did was apologise for failing to save my new criteria, and then crash my web browser.

Content May Change During Gameplay.


Another 48 hour patch by Blizzard entertainment. Shit that was broken for weeks on the PTR remains unfixed on live, instance servers have been down for almost an hour now, and all of this comes after maintenience that was extended 6 hours beyond their projections. Why do they even bother? I’m sure the entire community would rather wait an extra week or two to get a real patch than a shitheap that needs a dozen hotfixes to make it playable. And I know it can be done, since every other MMO ever has managed it. With more money than god, I find it hard to believe that they can neither field a staff that can properly manage to patch things, nor the hardware to support it. I know ranting about it on the internet is the very height of consciences objection but god dammit, this shit is ridiculous.