Thursday, August 30, 2007

Warhammer vs Warcraft: A Pre-Beta Comparison

So I talked a bit yesterday about things that WoW has done right. And I'm still playing and enjoying the game to this day. However, I fully expect that my WoW days will come to an abrupt ending when Warhammer is released. So I thought I'd talk a bit about why I would be giving up one addiction for a new one. Well obviously, simply the idea of a new experience has some draw, as well as the fact that I'm not at all excited about Blizzard's next WoW Expansion. But let's talk about some specific areas that I hope will have more interesting implementation than their counterparts in WoW.

Note: I'm not in the beta (yet), so these are just my expectations based on the info that Mythic has given us.

Graphics: This is something that I think will be similar between the two games. Though I expect Warhammer to be a bit darker, both in coloration and theme, they also have the same tendency for over-the-top armor with spikes and skulls and Chaos Cuisinarts and such. I expect everything to be big and gaudy and fun to look at to the point that I wish I could play with no distracting interface whatsoever.

User Interface: Speaking of UI, I actually don't expect the Warhammer interface to be as developed and malleable as WoW's is, but they have said that everything will be movable in the basic UI, something that Blizzard still hasn't implemented themselves for WoW (though there are plenty of addons that open up such possibilities). Otherwise, they look to be following what has become the standard setup these days.

Heavy Lore-Oriented Content: Certainly Warcraft has its lore, but you don't really feel it while playing WoW. Perhaps if you're a Warcraft fanatic and are already familiar with the previous lore, but coming into it with no real knowledge, you're mostly left in the dark... unless you happen to memorize everything any NPC ever says to you. Certainly I've picked up some bits and pieces over the past three years, but none of it really affects me besides knowing the name of the next boss I'm going to kill. And a lot of WoW's best lore is just shuffled into the dungeons, making these ultra-powerful, god-type beings who had a fundamental impact on the world into loot pinatas for the playerbase to smack around on a weekly basis.

The whole Tome of Knowledge concept sounds extremely interesting. I've lamented before over the fact that previous quest text is just discarded after you finish a quest in WoW. After all, you're usually doing a half dozen quests at a time, many of which are completely unrelated, and many of which have no real story beyond the immediate one, so keeping track of who did what to who is a non-fun, and unessential, task. Those quest chains that do have continuing, involved plotlines are generally spread out over such a period of time that you forget how the whole thing started anyway! After a while, many people just ignore the quest text for the most part beyond figuring out who you need to kill for your rewards.

So I'm hoping that Warhammer Online will be able to do a better job with bringing the lore to life for the average gamer. They certainly have a lot of amazing background material to work with!

PvP: I expect the PvP will be very similar to WoW. At least I hope it has a similar fluidity to the action, though of course, the big prayer is that combat is not so gear-oriented. It looks like Mythic is trying to get away from the standard archetypes which should make combat more interesting. Also, as someone who typically plays the warrior types, I'm overjoyed that they're planning to have some sort of taunt-type ability that is actually useful in PvP! But where Warhammer will really strut its stuff is in RvR...

RvR: Really a no-brainer here, as WoW's faction conflicts are all sanitized and saran-wrapped to the point that it feels like a friendly match of flag football rather than actual conflict! Mythic has already proven that they have some clue about how to handle factional player conflict with their highly successful Dark Ages of Camelot MMO. But it looks like they're taking it to a new level with WAR and I'm looking forward to being part of a larger conflict that actually has consequences and an effect on the game world. Even if the war progression does get 'reset' after someone 'wins', it should be a lot more fun and engaging than the static, ineffective world PvP in WoW. And I'm hoping that they scale the overarching conflict in such a way that it becomes more and more difficult to make progress the closer you get to an enemy's capital city, making the actual sacking of a capital a major (and rare) event.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Praising of Virtues: World of Warcraft

I've written quite a few rants, complaints and suggestions regarding World of Warcraft, so I decided to take a step back and praise its good points. After all, I have been playing it for all but a few months out of the past three years, so something must be right!

1. Flexible Interface. This is by far my favorite part of WoW. Unfortunately, a lot of the flexibility requires third-party addons, but Blizzard has done an outstanding job of making it easy for these mods to be created and giving support to those programmers via built-in hooks to the client, a forum devoted to interface and customization and continuing development of their API. I'll have a post soon about some nice mods that I've installed recently.

2. PvP. That's right, I said it. And as unbelievable as it may be, I think WoW PvP is actually a lot of fun... as long as you have decent gear. That last part is an important caveat. And I would definitely say that a Medallion of the Horde (and its Alliance equivalent) is pretty much required. Otherwise you'll just be crowd controlled all the time with no way to counter it. Getting ganked by higher levels or by five to one odds isn't much fun, of course. And neither is trying to win a battleground when the rest of your 'team' doesn't understand the concept of holding objectives or taking the flag. But, if you're on relatively equal strength and relatively equal numbers, the PvP can be very engaging and exciting. The wide variety of abilities and tactics make every encounter different and when you have three or four players on each side battling it out, strategy does play a big part. It does suck that 99% of the PvP occurs in the same four instanced battlegrounds and that PvP has no effect at all on the world. But, once you accept that fact, it can be very entertaining, sort of a Counterstrike meets MMO type concept.

I wouldn't say that WoW does PvP right, but what they do have has turned out to be enjoyable after almost three years of tweaking. And one last thing, the changes to the honor system that were implemented last December (so that honor points accumulate over time and never decay) were a godsend!

3. Graphics. A lot of people complain about the cartoonish look, but personally, I think it looks a lot better than all of these games that go for a more 'realistic' look. Character and camera movement is very fluid and simple. The loud colors and larger than life adornments give everything a nice fantasy feel and make the game visually entertaining. There are times were I like to hide my entire interface just so I can immerse myself in the graphics. And I think everyone had a moment of amazement the first time they saw inside of Blackrock Mountain or flew against the sky backdrop of colored streamers in the Outlands. Everything is big and identifiable and only occasionally do I have camera issues due to being in a tight, constricted space.

4. Accessibility. Even my girlfriend, who generally doesn't play anything more complex that Jewel Quest was able to get into the game and play by herself with minimal basic instructions. This is probably one of the main reasons that Wow has become so popular.

Monday, August 27, 2007

WoW Concept: A Different Way to make 'Heroes'

This post is in response to Blizzard's press release about their next expansion which includes the first (and only) hero class, the infamous Death Knight. While many are excited to see Blizzard finally getting around to implementing something that has been hinted at since launch, I find their design idea for heroes pretty, damn, lame.

Note: This is not a full-fledged design idea, nor is it balanced or even fully thought out. It is simply meant to provide a sample of an alternate method for implementing Hero Classes that I think would be a lot more fun and interesting than what Blizzard proposes.

Anytime after level 60, players are given the option to take on the hero class quest. The initial phase will be relatively simple, though before they complete it, players would be given a warning stating that completing the quest will permanently change their character class, after which they can never change their mind or go back.

After accepting their new class, the player would lose certain abilities and talents of their base class, but would get access to the Death Knight specific abilities as well as some from the other allowed base for the Hero class. For example, Paladin-base Death Knights might be able to learn how to cast Shadowbolt while Warlock-base Death Knights might get to use maces, two-handed swords and shields.

The hero classes would have restrictions based on race and class. For the Death Knight example, it would be limited to Horde-only, Paladin or Warlock.

This system would be a bit similar to how Shadowbane handled classes. By having two different options for a base class, you give extra variety and personalization to the Hero classes rather than just making them all similar. Also, in order to cover all the race and class combos while still providing a choice, some lore-bending would be required (but hey, if you're allowing Tauren Death Knights, then a little lore-bending shouldn't be too hard).

Perhaps Paladins would lose all of their shield and blessing spells while having their Holy talent tree removed, and Warlocks would lose their pets and the Demonology tree (just an example off the top of my head. I'm not overly familiar with Paladins or Warlocks).

Though I'm not completely sold on the functionality of this concept, I really like the idea that all the Death Knight specific spells and abilities would be acquired by completing various steps of a super-epic quest line rather than simply going to a trainer. The quest line would have a number of parallel branches that can be completed in any order, allowing players to choose which abilities they are most interested in learning and focusing on those first.

In addition to making the hero class interesting and diverse, this method would also allow those who have neither the time, energy and/or inclination to deal with the hero quests, to still have their own niche. Death Knights will have a lot in common with their base classes, but they won't be replacing their base classes. A level 60+ Paladin will still have lots of abilities and options that a Death Knight wouldn't.

Each race/class combo should have two options for Hero class progression, though obviously, there would be a lot of overlap (ie, options aren't unique to a particular combo). Those who choose not to follow the Hero path can still explore their possibilities of their class while having access to abilities and talents that no other class has.

Hero classes shouldn't just be flat-out more powerful via more hit points or more powerful spells, but rather should provide increased and varied options for those who want to experience something different without starting from scratch. And of course, those who do devote their time to playing the hero classes will likely find certain combinations of powers whose synergy gives them an advantage, but with proper design and tweaking, those scenarios should never be completely overpowering.

So there you have it. That's my basic idea for how to handle hero classes in WoW. Making the heroes just an extra unlockable class that you only have to partly grind seems very blase and unimaginative. Though the downside of my concept is that it would require lots of design and additional tweaking and balancing after release. But hey, they're going to be doing all of that anyway...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

WWII Online: First Impressions

So at the urging of a few guildmates, I downloaded and installed WWII Online for a 14-day free trial. I remember there being some buzz about this game when it first came out, but then bugs and stability issues led it into a fiery, burning death. But apparently, it wasn't actually dead and has been continuing on for the past six years!

I've only played for a few hours, but here are my initial impressions of the game.

First off, the Download and install proceeded smoothly, and I jumped right in without reading a single tip on how to play. A seemingly minor point, but a bad experience with installation can sour a game for anyone.

Choosing a place to appear in the gameworld was a little confusing. You're hit with both too much info and too little at the same time. There was a lot of info that I had no clue about, and not the basic info I expected to see that explained what I was doing in layman's terms. But it was easy enough to plow through and get in-game.

The controls were basically the same as any FPS, but just different enough that I had to look in the keybindings to find out how to crouch and lie down (and the various vehicles all have additional controls, but I haven't tried any of those yet).

The graphics are simplistic, which makes for smooth action. But yet they're done in a way that makes them very effective. You can see the silhouette of tanks on the horizon. Bushes and trees make for excellent visual cover.

The bushes actually provide a lot of cover. I had an enemy soldier crawl up next to me and I wasn't even sure it was a person until I fired my rifle and saw his death animation.

The realism angle of the game can be painful. Usually you'll die having no idea where the fatal shot came from. Getting anywhere is a tedious and long process. And when you spend 10 minutes creeping through the bushes only to suddenly go bellyup without having seen anyone or having any clue as to where the enemy might be... well, lets just say that I've had more fun experiences.

The buildings are very cramped and not defined at all. They definitely need a little more maneuvering room inside. And to have them actually fleshed out so as to make house to house combat interesting would be great, but that's mainly an extra bonus.

My first pick of where to start ended up being a ghost town, and overall, the games seems to really suffer from a lack of warm bodies. I quickly learned how to better pick an active starting spot, but the number of players is still low, especially when they're scattered over a square mile of countryside.

And it also the game seems to be weighted towards vehicles, which may also be a side-effect from the low population. Every time I've logged in, there have been more vehicles than infantry. Certainly, you need infantry to capture objectives, but until vehicle battle has been fought, infantry are few and far between, which is a little odd.

I did have one really great moment that made me think, 'Wow! This is what I was hoping this game would be like!'

I logged into a hotspot one night, and saw that we had a decent sized force advancing on a forward camp of our foes. I ran out across the fields, following everyone else, even spotting a guildmate who was also trying out the free trial. We ducked through the rows of bushes, every advancing on our objective as the sporadic sounds of small gunfire punctuated the air. After a harrowing few minutes of wondering when I was going to get cut down by a hidden machine gun, I suddenly realized that we were on top of the enemy encampment. Two of my fellow countrymen hunkered down near the tents while I covered them. No enemy soldiers appeared, and the base was vanquished. We mill about for a minute until a half-track pulls up towing a two-man mortar. All of the infantry piled inside and we headed off for a nearby town. I looked to my left and right, seeing no less than six fellow infantrymen with me. At the back rode a powerful mortar and the hum of the engine as we bounced across the fields gave me a feeling of serenity. I figured we must be headed for something important and felt a sense of confidence with my fellow soldiers around me.

But soon after, the driver of the truck told us to bail out, which we did. Then one by one, very quickly, all of my comrades vanished. Presumably to fight other battles, though noone said anything to me. I guess the fact that I was under the mistaken impression that we were heading off to conflict via the half-track made it especially disappointing.

The playerbase does seem helpful, and vehicles are almost always willing to slow down and let an infantry hop on board for a ride, but the heavy use of acronyms in chat left me clueless most of the time. And I haven't managed to sort out which chat channels are important to me at the moment. I'm sure familiarity will come with time and experience, but as a newbie who is also an experienced gamer, it was confusing to the point where I just wanted to be able to login and shoot at something, which is not what this game is about.

In summary, it is definitely an interesting game that has a lot of potential. With a few thousand more active players, it could really be an amazing experience. As it is, I don't think it's something that will keep my attention beyond the trial period. I do hope to play some more over the next week and make an updated impressions post.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Azh's Quick Tips: Heroic Slave Pens

As a followup to my post with a few tips on Heroic Mechanar, here are some tips for Heroic Slave Pens.

Coilfang Defenders - These guys are immune to all forms of crowd control. However, they can be snared. They hit extremely hard, so it's best to kite one around (mages and hunters are the best choices) while killing the other.

Mennu - Pretty easy fight. Just make sure to kill all of his totems, except for the Corrupted Nova totem! It explodes when destroyed, so it's best to simply move the whole group away from it.

Rokmar - Very difficult in heroic mode. He's hard enough in regular mode! If you have just one healer, they should be doing nothing besides healing the main tank (unless they have some quick cast area or group heals). Running out of mana during this combat is definitely a possibility. Really just need to unload on him and the tank needs to work hard on maintaining aggro. He will very quickly tear through your party if he gets loose or the tank dies.

Quagmirran - Nature resistance certainly helps. And you want to get the buff from the imprisoned druid if you can, but the real kicker of this encounter is his acid breath attack. This is a frontal area attack, so you need to keep him facing away from the rest of the party. The only problem is that it also causes him to lose aggro on his target, which generally results in him turning around and spraying all the soft targets (or even worse, directly targeting one). So the tank will need to taunt, and the other players will need to use aggro-reducing abilities or just stop attacking for the duration of the breath attack. Improved taunt would probably help here as well.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Azh's Quick Tips: Heroic Mechanar

I've noticed a lot of increased traffic here recently from people doing searches for Heroic Mechanar. I assume they're looking for advice, and while my adventure reports have some useful info, they're not really much of a guide.

So here are a few, quick tips about some of the troublesome mobs:

Netherbinder - I always make these guys the #1 target. Things get ugly if they get a chance to summon their elementals. But with focused fire and a couple of timely stuns, you can easily take them out before they even get a chance to cast.

Tempest-Forge Patroller - They will call for help, so be sure to give yourself some space to fight them in, away from other mobs

Tempest-Forge Destroyer - Interrupt the charged fist! That's by far the most important thing. The cast time on it is extremely quick, so if you have the global cooldown going when they start charging, you will likely miss your chance to interrupt. Generally, I'll open up with a few sunders and debuffs, then I'll just use heroic strike and shield block (since they don't trigger the global cooldown), keeping a close eye out for the charged fist so I can shield bash it. After that, you can throw in a few other attacks before you need to start watching again. Try to keep some sort of snare on him so that if he does get charged, the tank can kite him around until it wears off. It's not really worth the effort to try and heal through his damage while it's charged.

Astromancer - Spell reflection does wonders against these guys. Pretty much all fire damage, so a fire resistance totem would be helpful. Mostly troublesome when they're in the larger groups.

Mechanar Tinkerer - Two general ways to handle these guys. Either have a warlock enslave one and use him to fight the others (very effective) or load up on arcane resistance. With a full suit of Enchanted Adamantine Plate plus a couple of miscellaneous arcane resistance items, I can tank the group of four with little trouble.

Mechanar Crusher - The main thing to worry about with these guys is the disorient effect they will hit your tank with often.

Gatewatcher Gyro-Kill - Keep him turned away from your healers. I *think* his Shadow Power buff can be interrupted. But either way, be prepared to receive some burst damage when he casts it.

Gatewatcher Iron-Hand - Just watch for the 'Raises hammer' message and back off. Any melee shouldn't get hit more than once by the hammer unless they really aren't paying attention. Once he stops, run back in. Pretty easy fight.

Capacitus - Only twist is the polarity effect. Everyone should give the other players in their party some space at the start. After he does the polarity charge, find someone with the same charge as you and stand near them; your damage will be doubled! When he starts to cast it again, move away from everyone else until you can see what type of charge everyone has. Most players seem to like to fight him on the stairs, but I don't see that as a necessary step. His melee radius is huge, so there is plenty of room for everyone.

Sepethrea - Haven't defeated her in heroic mode so I don't have much advice. I would say that fire resistance is required, and if you have equipment that gives you a run speed bonus, this would probably be a good place to put it on! She gets three fire elementals rather than the normal two, and they move at running speed, making it much more difficult to avoid them.

Pre-Pathaleon Event - Very tough. Mainly because you don't have time to designate targets before they're on you. Pulling them back into Sepethrea's room would probably be the best option. That way you have some space, and succeeding waves have to run farther to engage you. Most pickup groups I've been in like to run down the elevator between waves (the mobs wont follow), but that's a pretty cheesy tactic IMO.

Pathaleon - Pretty much the same, though he does seem to be quicker to use his mind control, and the arcane elementals do more damage. Those who are likely targets for mind control should probably use any really nasty abilities they have at the start. This fight is really about dishing out heavy damage as quickly as possible. Once he gets down to ~20% health, his pets vanish and he generally falls soon afterwards. However, unless you have a lot of ways to keep the elementals feared, I recommend killing the first wave of them. It's unlikely you'll get him down fast enough to avoid a second wave, and if you have 8 of them running around spamming arcane bolts at your healer, the fight won't go well.

Basically, aside from a couple of changes to the bosses, everything is pretty much the same as regular Mechanar, only more so. So the tactics aren't that different from a regular run.

For the quickest route, go to the left at the start. You can pull Iron-Hand from Capacitus' area and avoid all the mobs on the right side entirely. Warlocks are not required, but they are helpful. Any Warlock should have little trouble finding a group for Heroic Mechanar. Arcane resistance is useful for the Tinkerers, Capacitus and Pathaleon. Fire resistance is useful for Sepethrea. If you have a single healer, they need to focus their attention on the tank for the boss encounters. Other players should be ready and willing to back off and bandage when needed.

That's about it! This is one of the more popular heroic dungeons and I can understand why. It's compact and fairly straight forward. Pretty easy to acquire four badges (getting the fifth from Sepethrea is tough) and a chance at a Primal Nether, plus whatever other goodies might drop.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

WoW Rant: Alterac Valley

And no, this post is not about imbalances in the map layout.

Ever since the advent of accumulated honor points (a concept that I fully support), Battlegrounds PvP in WoW has really gone downhill... especially in Alterac Valley.

Just yesterday I joined a match and heard someone say "Only seven AFK in the cave. That's pretty good!" Yes, that's right, having "only" 17% of your team sitting on their asses doing absolutely nothing is considered a good turnout! And even better, those 17% still get just as much bonus honor as the players who are out there actually trying to complete objectives and gather that honor. And I've seen as many as 20 of the 40 players choosing to simply absorb bonus honor rather than contribute in any way to their team!

There are a couple of very easy ways to ameliorate the problem (I don't think it can ever be stamped out completely).

1) Simply not give honor to any characters in or near the cave. This would force the AFKers to at least go outside, where they might actually be engaged in some of the action, whether they want to or not.

2) As an alternative or addition to #1, remove the guards from in and around the starting caves.

3) Dump the caves altogether and make everyone start in their respective fortresses.

But as it is now, Blizzard is simply encouraging and supporting this self-first attitude in what is supposed to be team-oriented PvP combat. And its not as if they aren't aware of the issue.

It will be interesting to see how Warhammer handles their instanced PvP. I hope that their more PvP-orient

Note: Interestingly enough, I actually wrote this up before I ever read any notes from Blizzcon. I think that the whole 'other players can flag you for being AFK' idea wont work at all. For one, enough players have to take time out of their battle to figure out who's AFK and then flag them. Secondly, the flagged person just has to enter combat. Whats to stop them from sitting outside one of the mob caves and killing one every few minutes, or even just attacking one of the wolves/rams deep in their own territory? Most of the AFKers aren't actually AFK, they're just actively choosing not to participate, occasionally dancing or throwing out a smart-ass comment over BG chat. It's easy enough for them to reach out to their keyboard and 'enter combat' for a few seconds before alt-tabbing back to their porn/book/other game while still accumulating bonus honor from the sweat and blood of others!

The caves will still be a safe haven for honor suction.

So I applaud Blizzard for recognizing the problem. But I boo them for taking nearly a year to implement any solution, and curse them for coming up with a half-assed fix that really won't solve the problem.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Azh's WoW Adventures: Four Orcs Battle the Blue Robots

So Thursday evening we had a guild trip to Mechanar. Normally this isn't anything special enough to write about, especially since I've been through the same dungeon on Heroic mode a few times recently. However, this trip was different in that we cleared the whole dungeon with only four of us!

We initially started out with just three of us, myself, Zrugpug and Krunk. We had little problem with the first few pulls, successfully defeating the big robots and the groups of three Blood Elves. We had just cleared up to one of the mini-bosses when Nubblud, our guild leader and warlock extraordinaire logged in. We quickly summoned him via the meeting stone and dove back in.

We had a few difficulties as I was the only one familiar with the instance. But everyone picked up on what to do pretty quickly and we didn't have a wipe until our first encounter with Capacitus. As we headed back, I told Zrugpug to only heal me, and I also let Krunk know that this boss has a huge melee radius, and he could stand farther away, making it a lot easier to see and avoid the bombs. Second attempt saw us victorious. We defeated the other mini-boss, collected our loot and headed up the elevator.

Sepethrea ended up being a pretty crazy encounter. It's incredibly easier than fighting her in heroic mode, as she only has two fire elementals and they move slower than a run, making escape from them an actual possibility. Nonetheless, everyone else's unfamiliarity with her led to them all dying. But Zrugpug saw that I was still alive and quickly used his ankh to jump back into the fray. Somehow we managed to end up on the opposite end of the area in front of her spot from the elementals. So avoiding them was not really a problem. But since there were only two of us, me in defensive stance and Zrug using most of his mana to heal me, the remainder of the fight lasted for quite a while. I actually used two healthstones thanks to the soulwell that Nubblud had summoned! After a drawn-out finish, she finally fell and we moved onto the pre-Pathaleon encounter.

I was very impressed with how well we handled this. We took on all six waves without using any cheesy elevator tactics! However, Pathaleon did take us down afterwards, but this was mainly due to three of the party not knowing what to expect from the encounter. After regrouping and giving a basic plan (I would fear the initial group of elementals, Nubblud would be in charge of them after that and everyone would beat on Pantheon), we made a second attempt and it worked like a charm.

Don't think we found anything useful loot-wise, but it was a nice sense of accomplishment to defeat the instance with only four of us, and to do it as an all-orc group as well!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Azh's WoW Adventures: Heroic Slave Pens

Note: If you're looking for help with Heroic Slave Pens, check out my Quick Tips post.

Monday night saw our regularly scheduled guild trip head into the Heroic Slave Pens.

Our resto shaman decided to leave WoW for the game of Real Life, and our priest is out of the country for a month, so it looked like we would be without a level 70 healer for a while. But luckily, another shaman decided to play WoW again and he also respecced to Restoration to help out with instances.

So, the all-guild group consisted of myself (arms warrior), Zrugpug (newly respecced resto shaman), Snargok (ice mage), Drakgor (arms warrior) and Krunk (combat rogue). A melee heavy group. The kind of setup that Blizzard likes to punish with AoE attacks and auras. And to top it off, our sole healer was wearing several green cloth items since he had never worked on gathering healing gear before. But we were determined to give it a go, and I had every confidence that our victory was assured.

Our initial assault was swift, focused and deadly. Sap, sheep and two fears made the four crab pulls trivial. And the double Coilfang Defender clomps went like clockwork. As I pulled, the mage would grab one with frostbolt and lead him around while the rogue worked him over. The rest of us took care of the other Defender, and we generally ended up killing both at the same time. Maybe not the most efficient method, but it worked.

Mennu was a breeze. Fought him underneath the ramp. My group kept trying to kill the nova totems, resulting in a lot of extra damage (they seem to explode when you hit them, so just moving away is a much better solution). But hopefully they'll get the hang of it next time. He was nice enough to drop a totem and epic gem that our shaman could make use of.

Proceeding onward, we had our first death when the rogue went a little overboard on a Defender, drawing aggro and earning a quick trip to the ground.

Then came Rokmar. This oversized lobster is just a giant pain. He hits incredibly hard, and the bleed that ticks for 1000+ damage just makes things worse. After a couple of failed attempts, I directed the shaman to just heal me, and not worry about the others. This almost worked, except that he ran out of mana just as we were hitting the 20% mark (he has less than 8000 mana currently. Something we need to work on I guess), which led to my swift demise, and the rest of the party afterwards.

Deciding to move on, we cleared up to Quagmirran and freed the caged night elf for our buff. But the plant gave us fits of a different kind. Everything would go fine until he did his Acid Spray attack. As he started, he would switch targets to our other warrior. I would taunt him back, but as soon as the taunt wore off, he would aggro the DPS warrior again, resulting in too much damage spread out over the whole party. We tried several times with pretty much the same result.

After doing a little research, I found out that his acid attack also has a de-aggro component. So, I think what was happening was this: Drakgor (the other warrior), would be near the top of the aggro list, so as soon as Quag did his breath, my aggro drops and Quagmirran switches targets. I taunt him back, but meanwhile Drakgor has a full rage bar and is dishing out heavy damage while I'm trying to regain my previous aggro level. As soon as the taunt fades, Drakgor finds himself the target again and I have to wait several seconds to taunt again (here's somewhere that a protection spec would have a huge advantage). I think what we should have done was have Drakgor just stop fighting completely if he gets aggro during the spray attack. That way I can regain and hopefully keep the plant focused on me for the duration.

Though we had little to show for our efforts besides a single Badge of Justice and large repair bills, it was a good learning experience and practice for future runs. The regular mobs, which are often more trouble than the bosses in heroic mode, gave us very little trouble. Our healer was definitely a bit undergeared for the boss encounters, which we can hopefully remedy before our next attempt.