The Worst Storyline in Wrath

I know that a lot of players feel that storytelling is a sideshow to the main event in games; it doesn’t involve gameplay, and it’s seen as fluff to keep the punters/ fanfic writers amused. I don’t agree with this view, I think the role of storytelling in games is to make encounters feel meaningful – why else would we care about characters and avatars like Lara Croft, Sonic, sackboy, Commander Shepherd; might as well just represent the player by a  giant blue square.

But like it or not, the quality of storytelling and NPC design has a huge effect on how players respond to different parts of the game. Or in other words, the virtual reward of being able to deliver a good kicking to an NPC who people truly hate is on par with epics for a lot of people. After all, the epics will get replaced soon enough, but the storyline is a lasting memory and experience.

So, in that vein, which is the most unpopular storyline in Wrath? It’s undoubtedly the blue dragonflight – we kill an aspect (that’s like a demi-god) and no one cares. A few completists wonder whether that story was supposed to tail off, and everyone else is glad that Blizzard seems to have buried it. This is partly because of an unpopular raid fight which involved awkward vehicles, but it’s also because the writing didn’t make us care.

Piss him off by killing his consort? That was your entire plan?


I’ve had the great misfortune to play through Colderra again on an alt recently. It’s a subzone of the Borean Tundra in Northrend (ie. this is Wrath content) and although it’s not horribly painful as an experience, it’s also not a shining beacon of level design. Kill 10 x, collect 10 x, return to quest giver and be told to kill or collect x other things. And so on.

But the low point of the zone is the Keristrazsa questline. A game like Dragon Age would have nailed that storyline, because it has all the right elements. A wronged prisoner seeking righteous revenge, enlisting the PCs help, everything goes pear shaped and she ends up in a worse state than before, doomed to have her mind broken and forced to become Malygos’ new consort.

Now that really should have been good story material. But not in the hands of Blizzard writers, oh no.

What actually happens is this:

You discover the arcane prison and one of the NPCs at the local base is able to unlock it. He tells you to open the prison at your own risk. When you do so, a pretty girl who is really a dragon appears. Malygos (big bad dragon aspect who will die to countless raid groups later on) has imprisoned her – boo. We don’t entirely know why but she’s out for revenge.

You agree to help, having already been told that the blue dragonflight are the bad guys here. She has you gather some stuff so that she can lay a trap for Malygos’ consort, who you later kill on her behalf. OK, so that was kind of random revenge fantasy on the NPCs part but I guess she has been imprisoned for ages and that has to take it out of you.

Then she moves to the next stage of her plan. She has you lay out the consort’s corpse on the ground and she burns it, and calls out to the dragon aspect to come look at what she has done. Now, this really should set danger warnings  because dragon aspects are very badass. In any case, he comes out of the Nexus to mourn? (Well, he laments about the consort so he’s actually got more sympathy at this point than the NPC you’re helping.) Keristrazsa literally flies loops around him for no special reason, she doesn’t seem to want to attack. Then she lands, tells you to run away and … Malygos comes down and spirits her away to an instance. I’m not sure why being frozen in an instance is going to persuade her to be his consort. In any case, when you get to the Nexus, she’ll beg you to kill her so she can hand over some epics … or something.

It’s just that bad. It doesn’t make sense on any level, it’s confused, the characters are stupid and yeah. I got nothing. Dragons have really failed to impress. Again. Except Onyxia.


Since learning that dual specs were coming in patch 3.1, I’ve been very reluctant to respec. I think — oh man, if I can just wait a couple more weeks I’ll be doing this as much as I want, do I really need to spend this 50g on respecs right now?

Actually it’s down to 45g at the moment (note for non-WoW players, the costs of respecs go up by 5g every time you do it until it reaches a max of 50g,  then for every month you don’t respec the costs start to go down again.) I know this because I respecced to Fury for Monday’s Malygos raid, which was our fastest 25 man raid in history. It was a quick and easy one-shot.

I have missed my occasional Fury respecs, dammit. There is something about clicking on those talents and then having to manually equip two 2-handed weapons because my wardrobe addon won’t do those for me that says YES! UNLEASH THE BEAST!


I was also amused that I’d been teasing our tankadin about the relative uselessness of block value gear, and he’d made some comment about  5-figure shield slam values. If that ever happens for me, it’ll be in some gimmick fight like Thaddius where everyone’s damage is crazy buffed … and I wouldn’t be using block value gear. Or if someone accidentally blows up a spore on me at Loatheb. But I  did see some some 5-figure crits pop up when I was swinging away on Malygos in my Fury gear. RAR!!

When I talk about my experience with Fury I want to TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION MARKS!! Fury spec is just that metal. I don’t find it as involving as tanking and I’d get bored fast if I was a full time dps warrior but damn if it isn’t fun. It’s the only spec on any class  I have played that makes me giggle. Usually when those 10k+ crits come up.

Big numbers are fun numbers. My next project will be to write an addon to work out how many prime number crits I get as Fury. I’ll call it something like … FURY PRIME! (See, how metal does that sound? That could totally be the title of a Metallica album.)

Great things come from 10 man raids

I’m going to talk more about 10 man raids later this week but one of the great things about them is being able to pick up off-spec gear easily. I do this without really thinking about it, if dps plate drops and no one else wants it, I just hoover it up. And I always stick some sort of enchant/ gems on new gear, even if it is just something cheap. It’s the perfectionist in me, I can’t stand leaving the gear ‘naked’.

So my off-spec gear is really not bad at all. I had about 200 hit, 17 expertise, 4k attack power, 34% crit. It’s just that most of the time the off-spec gear stays in my bags, and I’d never actually put it all together like that before.

And this was all without ever ‘stealing’ gear from a primary dps.

What about the actual cool part of that Malygos fight

OK, OK, I’m just coming to that. Well, apart from the bit where I got 10k cri— oh yeah I said that already.

When the dragon was dead and we checked the loot, there was a collective oooooo on voice chat. Reins of the Azure Drake were waiting enticingly in the loot chest. This is a rare flying mount, and one of the prettiest. You can just about see the head armour in the screenshot below, it is the only armoured drake in the game.

There was much excitement. I didn’t win it, but here’s a picture of the beast in the capable hands of the lucky warlock who did!

This was the (raiding) week that was

It’s been quite an interesting week for me in WoW, aside from having rose petals thrown at Spinks all weekend (fortunately only one day left on that holiday). I was involved in minor drama in the 25 man raid, and by contrast my 10 man raid just continues to stomp all over stuff. Every time I set a goal for us, we waltz all over it on the next week’s raid.

In any case, my best raid news is that we have now killed Malygos on 10 man. We also polished off the achievements for the 4 Horsemen (kill them all within 15s) and Kel’Thuzad (kill 18 abominations during the fight). I’ll note down some tactics at the end.

One thing that is really glaring to me is how quickly an encounter moves from being on progression (ie. we haven’t beaten it yet) to being on farm (ie. can beat it reliably every week) in the current content. I can’t with my hand on my heart find this to be a bad thing, it does make the raids more casual and alt friendly. But we also get bored more quickly.

25 man raids really are more annoying

This week we spent all of Wednesday night wiping on Malygos. Our best attempt had him down to about 16%. I didn’t at any point feel that we were one more try away from getting him.

So my gut feeling is that although more practice is needed, our main problem is fast enough dps through phases 1 and 2. The fight is a bit misleading in that respect because normally in a several stage fight, if you can reliably get to the final stage then you know you have it beat.

With Malygos, the timer is tight enough that even if you get to phase 3 every time, you still might not be in a position to be able to kill him. Especially because dps in phase 3 isn’t something you can kick up with buffs, trinkets or consumables (for anyone who doesn’t know the fight: in phase 3 everyone is riding around on drakes and can only use the drake’s innate abilities). So we really do need to sort out stacking sparks better in phase 1, you’d think with two deathknights in the group it wouldn’t be an issue …

I was in a bad mood anyway because I was on off-tanking duty. Phase 2 is the only phase which needs an off-tank, and not for very long. So I was stuck in my tanking gear/spec for the whole fight just so that I could grab a couple of mobs for 30s or so. I was finding this very frustrating, especially because we actually had two feral druids in the raid who could have done it. I’m not saying that my poor protection dps stopped us getting the kill, but it can’t have helped.

I was told off afterwards for being passive-aggressive (I didn’t think I was being very passive, to be honest, and the bitching was all in the tank channel anyway), and one of the raid leaders told me that it wasn’t the first time. I also got the talk about how we had to work as a team and that meant not arguing with raid leaders on forums. Since I don’t recall having any actual arguments, I interpret this as meaning they prefer me not to disagree with them. Note: I don’t make a habit of arguing about tactics in the middle of a raid.

Whatever. I apologised profusely, as you do, and resolved to just let them do things their way in future.

I feel more uncomfortable in the raid now than I had in the past. I had assumed that this whole being a team thing meant that it was generally a good idea for me to chip in with my opinions. It’s just another thing that makes me want to flee to the 10 mans where  if people disagree with my tactics or have better suggestions, I weigh up their arguments and  then decide.

I suspect everyone was just a bit grumpy on Wednesday  night.

10 mans continue to rock

Saturday evening rolled around, and I ran a Valentine’s Day Naxxramas raid. What could be more romantic than slimes, spiders, maggots and zombies?

This was the first time I had to really weigh up raid composition because we had 3 tanks sign up. So what this meant was that one of us would need to switch to dps or healing. Since we also had 2 healers who had signed, it left the choices down to whether I would switch to dps or whether the paladin would since I prefer to have the feral tanking. He had always made it clear that healing was his offspec, which left it down to me.

So if I feel a bit down about tanking this week, it’s because not only was I forced to OT Malygos-25, but I also didn’t even get to tank my own 10 man.

I decided in the end to bring my warlock, which was the first time we’d had an alt in the 10 man. Because of it being Valentine’s my husband nobly let me use Curse of Agony to inflate the numbers a bit and in the event I was hitting about 2k dps which is fine, really. We even picked up Arachnoph0bia  although I explictly said ‘We’re not trying for Arachnophobia, we’ll loot after each boss’. I also made out on gear like a bandit.

This turned out to be a good decision because the raid stomped all over Naxxramas and then went on to kill Malygos (where having an extra warlock was a bonus).  We had spent a couple of hours wiping on him a few weeks back, this time we went in and got him on the third try.

But I was most proud of the raid for the four horseman achievement. I knew that we were good at speed runs, which is why I wanted to challenge them with a more control/finesse type of achievement.

As of next week, we’ll definitely open the sign ups to alts. And assuming we make good time in Naxx, we’ll definitely go on to Malygos afterwards.

Tactic thoughts: And they all would all go down together (10 man)

You will need three healers for this fight. We used two fully specced healers and one shadow priest in healing gear.

The trick here is that it is a control fight. So you need to be able to dps down all four of the bosses in a controlled way, and then burst down the last few percent very quickly at the end simultaneously.

At the front, we used one tank, one melee, and one healer on each boss. After every three marks, the front tanks run towards each other and taunt each other’s boss, and then bring it back to their original corner. Because of Thane’s meteor, we waited for the first meteor to drop after the third mark went up and then did the tank switch. The healers and melee can stay in their corner. The idea with having the melee there is to help soak meteor damage.

At the back, we had two ranged to ‘tank’ the bosses and a healer to heal both of them.

That makes 9. The last dps was a ‘floating’ ranged dps who helped keep the two back mobs on an even footing and also helped whoever had the worst burst damage to get their mob down at the end.

So when the fight started, I told people to dps the mobs down to 50% initially. By that time, we knew we had the tank switching sorted so then we took it down to 10%, then 5%. At 3% we had the last tank switch at the front, and then it was into KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT time.

There is a moment right at the end where you can see them on all really low health and your heart skips a beat and you wonder, did we …. and then the achievement comes up. Hurrah.

I like this achievement in general because although it isn’t hard, it does test everyone in the raid. As a raid leader, my main concern was whether the shadow priest would be able to heal through the meteor for the whole duration. As it turned out, this wasn’t an issue.

Tactic Thoughts: Just can’t get enough (10 man)

This one is a simple numbers game. You need to kill 18 abominations during phase 1. Some will wander into the raid anyway. When you pull the abominations from an alcove, you’ll get 3-4 of them and the rest of the alcove generally stays put.

So we had our druid keep an eye out for the regular abominations, casters stay focussed on the skeletons and banshees, and our paladin pull abominations from 4 different alcoves during phase 1. They do have a mortal strike so the tank needs to wait for that to fall off before pulling the next set.

And then once you are into phase 2, just kill him as usual.

Tactic thoughts: Malygos (10 man)

You can get the general tactics from somewhere like tankspot. The tactics are the same for 10 man as for 25 man, although there are fewer adds in the 10 man encounter and Malygos doesn’t hit as hard.

We did find that this encounter favours casters because they can keep casting as he starts his vortex. Warlocks in particular are laughing because if you stick your teleport circle in the middle of the platform, you can port out of the vortex, take no falling damage, and keep nuking. Casters can also keep standing in the sparks and nuking at the transition between phases 1 and 2.

Having a death knight or dps-style druid around helps with spark management because they can either be grabbed or rooted (we had a moonkin with us this week). The idea is that you’d like to stack them some place where melee can stand in the sparks but the boss doesn’t. Fortunately he has a big hitbox.

The tactic which worked best for us in phase three was for everyone to spread out around him and keep a stack or two of HoTs on themselves. Then the general rotation is 1-1-1-2 which should leave everyone with enough energy to use their shield when focussed. We had previously been having everyone on top of each other with one assigned healer but we found that this ‘every man for himself’ was less prone to everyone being wiped out by a static field.

I may be addicted to the readycheck

Any raid or group leader can enter a /readycheck command in WoW. When they do, a box will pop up on everyone else’s screen saying, “Are you ready?” with yes and no buttons. After 30s or so, the raid leader gets a report saying how many people picked yes or no and how many people did not respond.

It has a few different uses. I always run a readycheck before a raid boss fight to check whether everyone is *gasp* actually ready. Before the readycheck we had to just ask, see a few y or yesses and hope that meant everyone else was ready too. I also use it as a general “Are you awake?” check, or “Are you all back from making tea and washing your socks?” check after a break.

Sometimes we use it for general votes. For example: Vote yes to the readycheck if you want to stay past raid end for one more shot at the boss.

Sometimes I just run a readycheck because I can. I have that power!

It’s one of the few WoW UI features that I really miss in other games. Like most of the useful parts of the Blizzard UI, it was ‘inspired’ by addons. This is a smart move. It means that new features aren’t just random, “Hey y’all, look at THIS!” ideas that some developer had in the bath.

The first addon I remember with a readycheck was CTRA which was an incredibly popular raid UI back in the days of 40 man raiding. CTRA had proper support for custom polls too, and I do miss it.

Maybe I’ll dedicate next week’s 10 man raids to the memory of CTRA.

Blink and it’s on farm?

I ran another raid to 10 man Naxxramas this weekend. We had to swap a few people round because some of last week’s raiders couldn’t make it, including our fury warrior who regularly tops the damage meters. So we ended up more caster heavy this week, with two shadow priests.

We cleared the place in five hours. Also picked up the achievement on Faerlina along the way.

Every boss in lower Naxxramas was one shotted except for Gluth, including a good recovery from a slightly awkward “Arrgh, what’s he doing down that end of the platform?!” pull on Thaddius. I was most proud of the crew on the Four Horseman kill which was pretty much a model of calm and control, especially compared to last week’s semi-panicked chaos.

We had a couple of wipes each on Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad but we did also have three people who hadn’t seen those fights before.

So, my raid continues to impress the heck out of me. Either we’re good or it’s easy, I don’t even know any more! I do also wonder about the Naxx loot tables. At least two thirds of the bosses dropped paladin plate this week. That’s loot that is only useful for one spec of one class. We had to shard most of it because our holy paladin already had it from last week.

My main goal now is to speed things up. Five hours is way too long to spend raiding in one stretch. We’ll probably also poke more of the achievements, but to be honest the only one I really want for my raid is for us all to get Undying (which you get if no one dies in any boss fight).

I opened next week’s raid up to an open guild thread, and hoping at least one extra tank signs up because I’m out at the theatre that night. I asked people to say if they might be free on Sunday instead if we have to change nights as a backup. But I hope they can go.

Oh, and I also picked up a shiny shiny two handed axe that our Retribution Paladin didn’t want. Shiny!!

It’s Big and it’s Blue and it wants to eat us!

Last night we took our first 10 man attempts at the Eye of Eternity. It’s an unusual raid instance and an unusual boss fight.

You zone in to find yourself standing on a platform with the universe revolving around you. In the middle of the platform is an orb with a label on it reading, “DO NOT TOUCH!”. And high above you, a big blue dragon is flying around and shouting intimidating phrases about being the master of this domain. I don’t know why he doesn’t do a strafing run, I would if I was a dragon and spotted a raid zoning in. Clearly this lack of judgement is a sign that he is off his rocker and needs us to kill him.

To be fair, there have been plenty of other quests leading to the conclusion that Malygos, Lord of Magic is crazy and needs to be put down. Draconic mental health care is apparently not very advanced.

OK, maybe the orb doesn’t actually have a sign on it.

In any case, someone with the raid key activates the orb and Malygos notices us properly  (even though he was shouting to us earlier) and decides to get in close and personal.

It’s a three phase fight which only needs one tank (thanks, Blizzard! As if it wasn’t hard enough to find tank spots these days). I’d done some homework by watching videos of the fight, which mostly intimidated me with Ciderhelm’s ability to tank the dragon, swivel the camera around, strafe, kite in a perfect circle, and instruct the raid ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Fortunately, it is easier than it looks. I’m certainly not doing it as well as he does, but we got the gist fairly quickly. It also helped that we had a Death Knight along to capture sparks but I’m fairly confident now that we could manage without.

It was a fairly short raid. I called it after two hours because I thought we’d learned a lot and made good progress, and there’s a limit for how long you want to spend all trying the same boss (in my opinion). By that time, we’d gotten to phase three reliably on every attempt and were improving the speed of the first two phases.

Phase three is insane. The ground falls away below you and everyone drops through the sky … and lands on the backs of the flight of red drakes that have been sent to help you. So the third phase is a flying phase. Everyone is flying on their drake and circling the injured big blue dragon.

We will need more practice, but the coolness factor is incredible!