Tag Archives: Razorfen Downs

Today’s Pug: Brought To You By The Letter “P”

One of the neat features of having a WordPress blog is the ability to see what search engine terms people used to find you. I’ve enjoyed browsing them. Most of them are “pugging pally” or “puggingpally” or “pugging paladin,” coming from people who I assume read here once and wanted to find it again. (That’s very nice, thank you.) Others are a bit different though!

To the person who came here by searching “feral dps scarlet monastery,” I’m very sorry. All I can tell you is that I was in Scarlet Monastery, there have been feral druids, and they have been DPSing.

Similarly, to whoever was erroneously sent here looking for “shaman addon,” I really have no idea. Unless you wanted Vuhdo, which is technically named after a shaman.

Thirdly, and my favourite. My friend, who arrived here looking for “scarlet graveyard players just running off and doing their own thing.” You’ve come to the right place. Players in the Scarlet Graveyard will go off and do their own thing, I’m not sure why. It’s a fairly linear instance. It might be because some people like to barrel straight down the middle, rock down the stairs and finish the thing as quickly as possible. Others like to take a more leisurely, “Let’s kill all these ghosts” approach, and never the twain shall meet. I’ve previously referred to it as “pug diffusion” and it certainly applies here. Think of it as the tendency of five random strangers to repel each other in different directions, and try not to let it bother you. The bad news I have for you is that it’s not specific to Graveyard. Graveyard is only the beginning.

One of These Things Is Not Like The Other

I’ve done so much pugging the last few days. So very much. I’ve run Razorfen Downs three times, SM Armory twice, and SM Cathedral, also twice. The first RFD in the list was kind of funny for being a true Pally Power run. There were four of us…and a hunter. I’ll admit here that sometimes I’m fairly quiet in a pug. I’ll say hello, and if nobody feels like talking, Flash of Light bot will just run along behind for a while, throwing some Light around. Such was the first RFD. The RFD I ran after that one was remarkable because it contained the single nicest player I’ve met in my pugging adventures. I’ve decided there’s nothing wrong with naming a good player, so – Arcanelight from Malfurion, you are a credit to your class. (Mage, naturally.)

When I asked him to please not frost nova the packs unless he needed to stop a runner because it makes them switch targets, he agreed and apologized very politely. He decursed that stupid curse that slows casting time without being asked. And as we were heading up the Spiral Ramp of Undead he said, “Keep up the good work guys, we’re almost there!” He brought encouragement, consideration and teamwork. If more folks were like him, this wouldn’t be much of a blog, I’m afraid.

I was really excited to have SM Cathedral appear. Finishing this one instance gives me the Scarlet Monastery achievement (for a lousy ten achievement points… It feels like it should award me with fifty.) I had an exceedingly good tank for my first run. She pulled the tricky trash packs inside the Cathedral like a pro, quite unlike the tank I had for the second run, who actually just sprinted straight in and aggroed about four packs at once. Needless to say, my death-o-meter ticks over one more time. That tank actually dropped the group right after. He may have been embarassed, but he hadn’t said much anyway. I hope he wasn’t too crushed. They’re very tough pulls, especially with those big doors… Actually, can someone answer this for me – the doors. Do they close after a certain amount of time, or only when someone clicks them? Because they kept opening and closing, and I’m not sure if I have the right to be annoyed at someone for closing them all the time, or if they just do that.

A need for doorstops aside…I have to admit, I’m cheating a little bit. A guildie friend has a hunter who is almost the same level as Vid, and we paired up to run RFD and Cath today. So my pug was 1/5th less puggy. In the end it hardly mattered though, since the RFD group contained the world’s most annoying rogue. He was enough pug for anyone. And he was doing less than half the DPS that my hunter and other mage were doing.

“Four more bars until level!” he announced as he joined. We all made polite “well isn’t-that-nice” noises.

Five minutes later – “Three more bars until I level!”

The mage joked, “We should kick him so he has to go and quest to finish.”

He kept announcing what he was doing, and the state of his experience bar, right up until we went to start the escort quest and I beseeched the group, “Please do not start the escort until everyone has it, so that no one gets shafted.” You get three guesses what the rogue did next, and the first two do not count. Yes, I admit unabashedly, we did kick him. Fifteen minutes later the tank said, “Locked chest over here.”

“We just kicked the rogue,” observed my hunter friend.

“Oh,” the tank said, and then after a moment, “It was worth it.”

I’m inclined to agree.

Pay no attention to this woolly construct – of course it didn’t clank, you’re imagining things

There are a few major drawbacks to leveling exclusively with the LFD tool (apart from the obvious ones involving sanity, patience, etc.)

Gear – This would actually apply more to someone not completely twinked out with BoA epics, but I mention it here as a cautionary tale nonetheless. You may think that being in instances all the time will mean good gear, but it is not necessarily so. There will be other people, and they will want the same things, and if you’re like me, you won’t roll on anything lower than your armour class unless nobody else needs it, which means you’ll roll on very little. I did manage to score a pair of plate underwear today with better stats than what I had, as well as a new cloak, and a shield. A shield “of the Gorilla.” Yes, that means it has Strength and Intellect and I really don’t care. It was better than the crummy level 20 shield I had. But I get very few quest rewards and hence, very little guaranteed gear with no competition. This may prove particularly bad when I hit Northrend – because if it isn’t plate, I won’t be allowed to roll on it. I hope all those spellpower plate drops I’ve seen sharded for months will keep me in mind. But yes, don’t think your gear will be awesome unless you purchased it. And don’t assume the Satchel of Mockery will help you either, unless you are playing the more mainstream spec for your class. My hunter friend looked like he’d received a few useful things from it, so maybe it isn’t all bad.

Travel – At this point I’m only biding my time until I hit 40 so that I can go out and collect flight points with super speed. I may even wait until I have Crusader Aura to do this. Leveling the way I have has left me with nearly nothing in this department. I paid a mage to port me to Theramore so I could take a boat to Menethil and nab that flightpoint (I thought I was going to Southshore until I realized that the SM quest is a chain, and the chain begins in Desolace, and forget that.) In essence, you will be very hidebound unless you’re doing some combination of questing/instances. This works out fine for me – I hang around the city, train when I level, check things on the AH, and work on my professions sporadically. I have missed out on a few dungeon specific quests though, simply because they required me to travel and I don’t have the patience or means. Run to Ratchet? No, thanks.

Reputation – You’d think with all the monster killing I do for them, the Azerothian factions would be kissing my hooves! But they aren’t. In fact, I think many of them have barely heard of me. So they charge me more money for my beverages. And I can’t ride their mounts. Without questing, it’s just not easy to build up reputation since old world instances don’t award it.

Time – Even with my increased experience from BoA epics, this is taking much longer than it has to level other characters. I’m not sure what the /played time of a similar character leveled in a more ‘conventional’ way might be, but I am pretty sure it’s significantly less.

That’s not to say that LFD leveling is without its advantages, though!

Goods – I might not always get awesome gear drops, but my bank is bulging with cloth and other sorts of things. Positively stuffed! If I were a tailor I’d be laughing. I may actually use some of this cloth to alleviate the reputation issue from before. I have the same thing with enchanting mats; more shards, dust and essence than I actually need. It’s not always the exact type that I need, but I’ll be selling what I won’t use before too long.

Cash! – I haven’t been keeping an actual tally, but I make a goodly chunk of money just from loot and/or selling greens or mats that I accumulate. But just the money from the instances far outweighs any repair bills I might accrue (at least at this point).

Reputation – Right now, this is a disadvantage. As soon as I hit Outland and Northrend in turn, it will actually be a big advantage. I’ll get rep from doing the instances associated with each faction; in the case of the Hellfire instances that rep will actually contribute to a sizeable discount when it comes to my flying training! Later on, in Northrend, it should be reasonably easy to up my rep with all of the relevant factions just by wearing a tabard. This matters quite a bit less than it once did, since now head and shoulder enchants can be sent to Vid by my main character benefactors. But if I didn’t have that, it would still be a pretty great thing.

Convenience – Gone are the days of struggling along in a healing spec, boring mobs to death while questing, and suffering poor soloability simply because of wanting to play a role in instances. I’m leveling a character purely meant for healing, because I can, and yes I could have done it before using the LFG channel and existing tools, but this is so easy by comparison. I won’t say painless. But easy. And I’m grateful that I’m able to do it this way!

I’m making a last pugging push just to get to 40 – I’m so close! At 40, I think I’ll dual-spec…and I’m leaning heavily towards ret, but queue times will be obscene. I could try tanking, just in time to get groups hopelessly lost in Uldaman, Mauradon, etc. And then I’m going to set some time aside to work on my professions. My enchanting is lagging behind again. After some consideration, I made my second professions Engineering, and dropped Mining. I don’t go out in the world questing any way, and I don’t encounter ore. Engineering seems like one of those fun profs that none of my characters has had up until this point, and it’ll also be dead useful for instancing later on, what with the Jeeves and etc. At least, I hope so. In the meantime I get to occasionally propel a sheep at a mob and watch it go up in flames, and who wouldn’t like that?

So… What do you guys think?


Bones and Brambles

These aren't the bones of the party members I didn't heal, honest.

I ran Razorfen Downs for the first time the other day. I’ve since been hoping it doesn’t pop up again, not because I didn’t like it or my run was awful, but because it guarantees I’ll have an hour-long run. By contrast, today I had a spare hour or so to do a bit o’ pally pugging, and I ran Library and then Armory. The length of time is the same, but the difference is that I could have stopped after one if I hadn’t felt like continuing.

RFD was so uneventful that it really left me with nothing much to say. It’s like Razorfen Kraul, redux – the most exciting part was the skeletons all dancing atop a giant pile of bones. The Scourge makes a sinister appearance here with a bit of foreshadowing, and we got to fight our first (but certainly not our last) Lich. I was thinking about this briefly today during my runs, as I was wondering what I’ll do with the holy spec at end-game. I’ll want to have a spec that’s focused on healing 5-mans, undoubtedly. But – will Vid pug raids? I suppose only time will tell.

Meantime, I’m actually beginning to feel that whoever implied that holy pally leveling would be painfully boring was very wrong. Sure, I only have two healing spells so far, and no HoTs, but the utility that a paladin brings is pretty complex and engaging. For instance: (no pun intended), at the beginning of a run I have to buff each group member with an appropriate Blessing. This requires a certain understanding of other classes, what they value, and who is present in the group. If there’s one or more warriors, I give the melee Kings because I assume the warrior will be using Battle Shout. Since I have improved wisdom now, I tend to give that out to casters (and myself) instead of Kings. If there’s another pally, I’d hope that they’d use Kings/Might accordingly. And that’s all in the first ten seconds or so. After that, the tank pulls. He/she might be under level for the instance and so one of the DPS is pulling hard – a great opportunity for Hand of Salvation. The tank gets rooted? (Plenty of Frost spells that do this in RFD, by the way). It’s Hand of Freedom time! I’m still learning this myself but I have plenty of “Oh crap” buttons available to me. I can use my signature pally bubble. If that’s on CD and I don’t have Forbearance, I can use Divine Protection. I realized I’ve been using Hand of Protection for myself – but this isn’t the right call; since it is a targeted spell, I should save that for the overzealous DPSer if need be. Meantime, between aiming my Holy Light to hit as many group members as I can, choosing a mob to put a Judgment on, and using Hammer of Justice to stop runners – I’m generally kept plenty busy.

When I’m not drinking, that is. Which reminds me, I added a new stat to the sidebar there: “Beverages consumed.” I’m not sure if anyone necessarily cares about this besides me, but it is an interesting testament to unique requirements of pug-specific leveling. That’s an average of about 9.51 drinks per instance. Needless to say, with all the instancing that I do, I can’t go in without plenty. I would use them all if I weren’t buying more all the time, too. I generally run with at least 60 stacks of whatever in my bags, and I have no problem sitting and drinking for only a few seconds if I have to while the tank checks things out – I’d rather use more drinks than run out of mana at a crucial time.

That said, it’s safe to surmise that the only real ‘mana’ problem Vid has is frequent visits to the restroom.

Don’t mind me, I’ll just duck behind this bush

This reminds me that I wanted to mention a few add ons I use that are specific or at least related to my pugging. I also started work on a series of posts – a lowbie pally healing guide, for anyone else who might want it. I’m going to take my time with that, it’s more of a side-project for any brave souls who might find it useful eventually.

Meantime, here are a few add ons that may help any aspiring pugger.

Free Refills: Recommended to me by a guildie, this is a fabulous add-on. You set it up for whichever reagents or other things you need to maintain. In my case, I tell it that I always want to have 60 Moonberry Juice to hand. When I visit any vendor who sells what I want, it automatically purchases enough to bring me up to that set amount. No clicking, no fuss, and more importantly, no forgetting. I use this at 80 with my other characters as well; to make sure I’ve always got enough Arcane Dust and reagents for teleports and portals.

SellJunk: Another great add-on, really for leveling period and not just pugging. I’ve found it particularly useful when I leave an instance, my bags laden with boar fur, dog toes and whatever else I saw fit to bring out of there. It puts a new button on the vendor interface that just says “Sell Junk,” when you click it, it automatically vendors all of your grey items. I’m all about time saving. I know that there are other add-ons that will sell these without having to click a button, but I prefer to have the choice. Firstly, because I notice them all there in a list of things I sold, and secondly so that I don’t accidentally sell some neat grey item I wanted to keep.

Baggins: Inventory management has always been an issue for me, and it feels like my bags will never have enough space. I like Baggins because it assigns categories to your stuff and visually delineates them: “Trade Goods,” “Equipment,” etc., in addition to the standard colour indicator for item rarity. It still feels “baggish” to me, which is the problem I had with add ons like TeaBag (har har). It just ends up looking like this huge mass of squares that makes me want to hyperventilate or throw my arms up in the air and just sell everything so I don’t have to look at it. I’ve been pretty happy with this add-on but I know there are plenty of other ones out there – if you think you’ve got a better one, don’t hesitate to suggest it in the comments!

Pally Power: I’ll admit, shamefacedly, that I downloaded this because everyone insists it is a paladin ‘must-have,’ but I don’t use it and have no idea how it works. Some guildies told me that it doesn’t work until you have the greater, 30 minute version of the Blessings, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. Figuring out what to do with it is on my “to-do” list, especially if it can save me some time at the beginning of an instance. For now, it’s taking up screen real-estate but not doing me much good.

“U got a weapon, dont u?”

As for my instance runs, nothing happened in RFD. SM Library was reasonably smooth up until the end when the bear tank revealed a tendency to run around the corner while the rest of the group was gawking slack-jawed at some loot. It was the first time I regretted my strong Loot Morales, because some really badass cloth BoE pants dropped. I did not need on them and let the warlock have them. My gear isn’t a problem, anyhow, and he seemed so excited about them that he immediately began Lifetapping in celebration.

The same Library run included this conversation between the shaman and the tank:

Shaman: “oom”

Tank: “melee”

Shaman: “ele”

Tank: “u got a weapon dont u?”

Shaman: “I’m a caster, wearing cloth, and you seriously want me to run in and hit things with my dagger?”

This tank has figured out the secret, clearly, to all of us whiny caster types. Forget about drinking, we have no time for that! All of you, just run in and hit things with your weapon! It has a DPS rating on it, doesn’t it? My intrepid attempts to both Judge and melee throughout that instance, by the way, amounted to a whopping 3.1 DPS. I think this is the physical equivalent of having a really pissed off cockroach hopping on your toe. It’s no big secret that meleeing is not exactly the best use of our time.

But a note about people and Recount. I run the mod myself, mostly because I have it with my characters at 80… not because the DPS that people are doing at level 20+ actually matters. But some people feel that it does, and they make sure the rest of us hear about it. So I’m using a sly way of deflecting would-be e-peeners with their Recount scores. You know the ones I mean. They’re doing over 100 DPS at level 35 and by gosh they want you to know. They want you to know very badly. So they spam the recount scores in order to boast. Or maybe so we can tell our friends (or our blog) about them. And I go ahead and I STEAL that spotlight. I immediately and gleefully call attention to MY HOT DPS.

“That’s right, you all fear my 3.1 DPS!” Generally people laugh, nobody says anything about Mr. Super E-Peen, or tries to make anyone else feel bad about their lower DPS, or whatever. But more importantly, it moves the conversation away from the Recount anyhow – all part of my cunning plan. Go forth, healers, and make sure everyone knows: Your DPS is the most important number there.

At Least She’s Got a Shield

Armory is a pretty great little instance, I like it. It has some fun pulls, fireworks, this guy at the end with no shirt but a massive helmet (what’s his shtick?). It has much going for it. I also like any instance with a locked door at the end, for the simple reason that no stupid running mob can charge in there and aggro him. By the way, that IS what happened in one of my aforementioned SM runs, and it definitely happened again today. This time we killed him though.

If I’m ever inclined to complain about the way my gear looks again, please remind me to shut up, after I direct your attention to my poor tank from today. Name cropped to protect the innocent… I don’t think she’s choosing to look that way, she’s a victim of  the unfortunate way that Blizz made mail armour look on females at this level. I actually have no idea if her player is really a woman. But… but.

Just looking at her makes me wince. She’s blocking sword swings with what now? I may not know whether my underwear goes on the inside or outside of my pants, but at least I have pants.

I think she's going for a Wonder Woman look.