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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Bytesized Heroic Dungeon Guides

You know the feeling when you start a dungeon, clear the trash, get to the first boss and the tank goes "Anyone know tacs?" or worse, nobody says anything and you're fighting the Grimrail Enforcers and Sanguine Sphere keeps getting popped and they don't even know why the boss health is going up...

Yeah, that wasn't frustrating. At all. Not even a little bit. Nope.

The dungeon journal is great for these situations, but only if people read it, so I thought I would throw together some quick and dirty 255 (or fewer) character guides for each boss that can be easily pasted into chat before the pull.

Always wondered if this was intentional or not...
Auchindoun Castle, Scotland.

Auchindoun

Vigilant Kaathar 

Don't stand in cracks or balls of light. Hide behind shield for Consecrated Light.

Soulbinder Nyami 

Stand in dark purple circle for swirly AoE. Tank and AoE adds. Interrupt and dispel if possible.

Azzakel 

Spread out. Watch for spike damage after knockback on tank. Kill and interrupt purple guys then felguard in add phase. Don't stand in the fire.

Teron'gor

Don't stand in fire. Dispel Corruption. Interrupt Drain Life and Chaos Bolt. Don't dispel Unstable Affliction (4 sec silence.) Stay spread out.



Bloodmaul Slag Mines 

Magmolatus 

Don't stand in fire. Kill adds. Dispel DoT. Interrupt where possible. Kill adds. Don't stand in fire. 

Slave Watcher Crushto 

Don't stand in front of crushed earth. Kill and kite adds, don't tank. Interrupt Ferocious Yell. Try to spread and use damage mitigation.

Roltall 

Dodge fiery boulders (they come back the other way.) Don't stand in fire. Watch for Heat Wave sustained AoE damage.

Gug'rokk

Interrupt Molten Blast. Don't stand in fire. Kill adds before they reach kiln (CC!) Dispel Flame Buffet.

Grimrail Depot 

Rocketspark and Borka 

Move out of red circles. Avoid Mad Dash. Tank face Bork at Rocketspark so he interrupts him. Try to kill them at the same time. Stop casting for Slam.

Nitrogg Thundertower 

Kill adds and use drops to damage cannon. Hide behind boxes when fixated on. Don't stand in fire

Skylord Tovra

Don't stand in lightning! or on the snare. Dodge spinning spear, be prepared for stun. Move away from party if marked by red arrow. 

Iron Docks 

Fleshrender Nok'gar 

Kill Dreadfang first. Personal cooldown if wolf leaps on you. Stay spread out. Don't stand in fire/dodge burning arrows. Don't attack when red sphere is up.

Grimrail Enforcers 

Don't attack the one with red sphere up. Avoid fire waves. Don't stand on ogre traps. Stay spread out.

Oshir 

Heal through time to feed, cooldowns if needed. Don't stand in front of him for Primal Assault. Kill adds, spread and single target wolves. Don't stand in acid.

Skulloc

Kill Koramor first. Stay spread. Don't stand in Koramor's whirlwind. Hide behind crates during cannon barrage, in-between casts work your way forward to the next crate. Hit him to stop him casting.

Shadowmoon Burial Grounds 

Sadana Bloodfury 

Slow and kill add before it reaches boss. When moons appear on floor stand on one for moon buff. Don't stand in daggerfall. Don't stand on purple runes.

Nhallish 

Solo kill adds, then click on it. Spread and avoid void stuff. Don't stand in front of boss. Don't stand on graves.

Bonemaw 

Don't stand in Bodyslam. Don't stand in spit. Get away from inhale, if he sucks you in it hurts. One person stand next to each carrion worm, kill them ASAP.

Ner'zhul

Move away from Omen of Death (purple pillar). Don't stand in cone. Kill one of ritual bones ASAP and move through gap in wall, tank stay away from that add to avoid cone going in gap.

Skyreach 

Ranjit 

Avoid wind wall and four winds. Run away from laser. Try to avoid all of the stuff.

Araknath 

Stand between boss and beams. Avoid smash.

Rukhran 

Have active mitigation up for Pierce Armor. Kite away from orange birds fixated on you, try to kill them away from piles of ash. Hide behind pillar for quills.

High Sage Viryx

Kill zealots ASAP. Move away from the giant laser. Kill adds. Interrupt Solar Burst.

The Everbloom 

Witherbark 

Face boss away from raid. Avoid roots that chase you. Kill blue spheres before they reach him, cc! Try to have boss far from water, gives more time. Pop cooldowns during Brittle Bark.

Ancient Protectors 

Interrupt Revitalizing Waters. Kill Gola first. Don't stand in stuff. Use offensive dispels if possible.

Archmage Sol 

Jump over rings of fire. Avoid green swirls. Don't stand in any things. Let first Parasitic Growth go through, interrupt after that.

Xeri'tac (Optional Boss)

Avoid zones of gas. Kill adds. Dispel Venomous Sting. Don't stand under Descend.

Yalnu

Don't stand in cone. Run over the flowers that spawn to prevent adds. Kill entanglement ASAP. Fight in all of the stuff the mages cast. Keep adds facing away from group.


Upper Blackrock Spire

Orebender Gor'ashan 

Avoid blue balls and spikes and shrapnel nova. When channeling Conduits, click on them to stop him channeling them,

Kyrak 

Face adds away. Interrupt Fixation, offensive dispel Rejuvenating Serum. Avoid poison pools, dispel poison debuff.

Commander Tharbek 

Don't stand in flaming axes or dragon breath, spread out to avoid charge. CC or kite adds, burst boss down when the adds appear.

Ragewing the Untamed 

Stay in middle, move to one side to avoid breath, move back to middle. Avoid fire pools. Pick up and AoE adds. Dispel enrage buff.

Warlord Zaela

Watch for knockback. Avoid breath from dragons flying around. Burst down adds. Spread to avoid axes and cyclone. Don't stand in bad.


So there you have it, all of the current Heroics in bytesized chunks, ready to roll. Let me know if there is anything I missed or got wrong, I'll probably come back and edit these myself as I come across common causes for wipes.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween! I gave my best shot at making an Annie and Tibbers pumpkin this year, and I'm sort of proud of it? Wishing everyone a very spooky evening!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Casuals of Draenor

Dirty Casuals


My Warcraft guild is Casual. We raided in Cataclysm, but the will to raid faded as Dragon Soul dragged on, and a few key players left to Rift. We never really got back into it in Pandaria, we are a small guild and a few of us have unpredictable schedules. Not to mention that between LFR and Flex, it seems less necessary to go through the stress of trying to maintain a raiding roster and schedule.

With Warlords on the horizon, I thought I'd take a quick look at what we can do in terms of social/group activities with whoever is online as we level up and take the fight to the Iron Horde.

Dungeons

Dungeons are the archetypal small group content in WoW. There are 8 new dungeons in Warlords of Draenor, four that become available as you level up, and a further four that unlock at level 100. The dungeon journal is already updated with all of the boss abilities and loot tables, as well as a new overview tab giving a brief summary of the tactics for each fight.

Now you have no excuse not to interrupt!

Dungeons provide some of the best looking gear outside of raids, I especially like the mail armor set for hunters, it just looks right to me. The weapons are also pretty cool looking, and through achievements and the garrison there are mounts, pets. and toys.

Ideally, getting a group of five of you together and doing a few dungeon crawls works great, but if you don't have a tank or healer, or just can't get five people, go with what you have! It is still more fun running dungeons in pairs than with four complete strangers, There are three different difficulty levels for dungeons, so you can start out just doing the relatively easy normal modes, and as your group get more serious move through heroic modes and on to the even harder challenge modes that have a time trial component, but award really epic mounts and transmogrification weapons.

The best thing about dungeons with friends is that if you mess up, nobody is going to give you a hard time if you mess up. Everyone is there to help each other out and have fun, rather than just to get the epic loot as fast as possible.

Questing

Questing is at the core of Warcraft game play, especially if raiding isn't your thing and whilst leveling works fine as a solo activity, getting in a voice chat with a group of people questing away and talking about whatever can be more fun if you are feeling social. You can group up to quest, which makes all of the kill 45 monster quests go faster (although it doesn't help with all quests,) but you don't have to if you are at different stages.

Rare Hunting

There are rare monsters all over Draenor, and the first time you kill each one everybody involved gets  to loot them. They drop pets, toys and gear, and whilst you can solo most of them hitting them as a group is easier. There is no real disadvantage to grouping up to get them, and if you are questing together you can get some of these along the way.

PvP

If you want, you can play against other people whilst playing with people. I'm not the worlds biggest fan of PvP, if I want to play against others I tend to play League of Legends (I would play Heroes of the Storm but I'm not allowed yet,) and neither are the rest of my guild, but we do dabble from time to time.

My plan for Draenor is to head to Ashran, a new PvP  zone in the same vein as Wintergrasp and Tol Barad. Heading into that sort of open world combat on your own is daunting, but my hope is that setting off as a group with slightly more coordinated healing and focused damage might work out a bit better for us.  

Ashran is intended to have a sort of unguided feel to it, where you can set out to gather resources from NPCs and still impact the outcome of the overall battle by summoning heroes to assist your faction or providing buffs to your allies. Or  you can head up the middle of the map, slaying your enemies, capturing their towers and laying waste to their base in a more direct manner. Either way works, and at some point you will probably get into a little bit of a ruckus with the opposing faction.

As well as rewarding PvP gear, the Ashran reputation lets you buy a mount at exalted, and there are a number of different achievements.

Map of Ashran 

Garrisons

Garrisons provide two main things to do in groups, Invasions and group daily quests.

Each week, some of your enemies on Draenor will invade your garrison. Fending them off rewards you with apexis crystals, and if your friends help you out not only is it easier, but they get rewarded too! Of course, If they help you, it's only fair to return the favor when they come under attack.

The daily quests obtained from the garrison also reward apexis crystals, and can be either solo quests or group quests, and the group quests grant slightly better rewards. If you are going to be questing anyway, and the rewards are better if you group up, it just makes sense to!
A Tier 3 Garrison

Your Thoughts!

Now, I haven't actually got beta access, some of this may well not work out the way I think. We are going to try out each of these activities and see how they go in Warlords, and stick with the ones that work out best.

Which activities are you looking forward to with your guildies? Will you be dominating Ashran, or dismantling the Iron Horde? If you've played the beta, will any of my plans not work given how they are actually implemented, or are there any other new activities I've missed?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Awesome Board Games for Two People

We have a lot of games on our shelves that don’t get to see the light of day very often. Most of these are party games that work best with 4+ people, like Catan, Saboteur, the Resistance (which I bought for Gavin last Christmas and we still haven't had a chance to play...) As a grumpy introvert who hates getting out of her pajamas, I'm always on the lookout for games that work great just for two people to play at home. Here are some of my favourites.


Pandemic



Pandemic is one of my all-time favourites. Each player takes a different role in a team of specialists who are trying to cure various diseases spreading across the globe, and should absolutely not be played without at least five epidemic cards in the draw deck. This game is tense. You need to embrace and encourage the tense to get the full Pandemic experience. If you’re not weeping face down into the table whimpering “oh god oh god we’re all going to die”, then you have not experienced the true beauty and terror that is this game.

Pandemic with four players is really great, and should absolutely be played like this too, but I really love how it works with just two players. With only two roles, it might be a better idea to pick your roles more carefully to compliment each others, but we prefer to still pick blind. (Maximum terror, remember?) It’s great playing this with someone on your wavelength, as it’s much smoother co-ordinating your plan of attack across only two people, your turn comes around quicker, and you feel, at least, like you’re making great, efficient progress. (You're probably not. The early stages of this game are great at convincing you that you actually stand a chance.) There’s less shrieking and despair as the various city cards are spread out across everyone’s hands, but with only two hands between you, there’s only room for two cures to be ongoing at one time, really.


Robo Rally



Robo Rally is delightfully chaotic. Each player controls a robot which they must program directions into within a time limit, and without knowing quite what routes the other players will be taking. Basically, chaos ensues. Taking down the number of players to two does reduce the chaos somewhat, but it’s still beautifully frustrating and ridiculous. The lack of other players does allow you to have these slightly more frequent moments of (short-lived) success, which can be pretty gratifying. As the first person to chose their directions flips the timer, instead of everyone else suddenly scrambling to get theirs sorted, it’s just the one other player panicking and slapping cards down, alone in their terror. I kind of like how brutally competitive this makes it.


Carcassonne




Carcassonne is a super classic board game where you’re each basically trying to amass points by claiming castles, paths, fields, and so on. We do own several of the expansions, but we mostly play just good ol’ basic Carcassonne. Can’t beat it.

It’s one of those games with the bizarre dynamic where you can either be in a deadly battle of wills with your opponent, or pretty much off playing your own game almost entirely separate of each other. The best play-throughs end up being a bit of both. There is a slight tendency with only two players to end up doing the latter a little too often, as you’re less likely to get in each other’s way. I find that when we play this, we spend the first 70% of the game quietly building our own empires and the last 30% getting aggressive and up in each other’s business (especially with farmers. Urgh, farmers. I hate farmers. I forget about them and then suddenly BAM those little blue guys lying on their backs mocking me, with their vast point accumulation. Damn you farmers, damn you.)

You play Carcassonne down to the last tile, so with less players, you get to play more tiles. This means you’re more likely to complete that epic castle or path you’ve been going for, which is a great feeling. Or, some asshole steals all the points for your lovingly crafted epic castle at the last minute with a big smug grin. Whatever.


Takenoko



Firstly, Takenoko is very cute. This is important. Gavin bought it for me after seeing it and thinking, “Yes, this is cute, it has a panda, Alice must own this.” I mean, seriously. It’s adorable. Each player is basically aiming to cultivate various types of bamboo, and the super cute panda is your friendly (or frustrating) assistant.

In terms of gameplay, it’s not worlds away from Carcassonne. Each player has various objectives which they are working towards, either secretly or not-so-secretly, and in the process, you can either pass by each other quite amiably, or end up ruining and interfering with each other’s objectives. The board itself is made of hexagonal pieces much like Catan, and there’s a lot of customisability from this which is great for adjusting difficulty levels and compensating for less players.

Another thing I love about Takenoko is that you can have a ninja win. As the other player has no idea what your objectives are, it leads to that wonderful moment where you can slam a card down on the table and announce your win suddenly and obnoxiously. I really like that in a game.


Discworld: Ankh-Morpork




This game is one of Gavin’s favourites, and he's a huge Terry Pratchett fan. I am still a bit of a Discworld baby (it’s being corrected, don’t worry!) so when we first played this a lot of the references went completely over my head. I enjoyed it anyway, so you definitely don’t need to be a fan to appreciate it, but fans will get a lot more out of it. (This isn’t our only Discworld game - we also have Witches, which we’re not sure about, and Thud, which is amazing, but has been denied a place on this list because playing against Gavin makes me so unspeakably angry. He’s very good at Thud. I am not as good at Thud. Losing at Thud is just incredibly brutal, and I am unable to take my losses gracefully. But it is a great game!)

Discworld, again, is great with more players, but works really well with two. It’s another one of those games where you have secret objectives, but unlike Takenoko, it is much more important that the other person or people do not know your objectives, because it will make your life so much more difficult. Facing down only one person obviously creates a lot more focused scrutiny on you! (Are you noticing a pattern here? I enjoy games that make me sweat nervously.) It’s very sneaky. I encourage you to approach this game with maximum sneakiness.

It’s also another with the possibility of a ninja win, which is always great. It's a good feeling to flip over your character card at the end and shock everyone (“but I thought you were Vimes!”) A lot of our sneakier games (Saboteur, the Resistance, etc.) require way more players, so it's great to get a bit of sneaking in with only two of you.

Recommendations for more great two-player games always appreciated, just let me know in the comments!

Friday, 10 October 2014

An Introduction

FIRST

But seriously, we thought this was a good way to kick off our blog. I saw this quiz on a blog I follow, and hopefully it gives a little bit of a background on us and the types of things we are going to be sharing with you.


Your beautiful hosts doing their best Bjergsen and Wildturtle impressions.



When did you start playing video games?
GAVIN: I started playing games when I was about 5 on my parents Amstrad, played mostly Prince of Persia, Dune and F15 Strike Eagle, because they were what we had. My brother and I spent days trying to get past one guard in Prince of Persia, and once we actually won Dune, mostly because it bugged and stopped asking for tribute.
ALICE: This was pretty retro even at the time, but my uncle used to bring his Commodore 64 round and we’d play Santa’s Xmas Caper when I was 5? 6? We got a family PC when I was 7-ish and my first games were Muppet Treasure Island (forever fave) and this weird as hell PF Magic game called Oddballz (think… a 90s Spore Creature Creator gone horribly, horribly wrong. Google at your own peril, friends.) Then, when I was 9-ish, I got a Gameboy Colour and Pokemon and it all went downhill rapidly.
PC or Console?
G: PC. I never had a console as a kid, and I never really missed it.
A: Historically, console. But I’m probably more of a PC person these days. His fault.
XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
G: PC. I have a PS3, it has a few good games and Netflix, and I really like having a 3DS when I'm on holiday or whatever, but almost all of my play time is PC.
A: Apathetic shrug. We have a PS3? I like it okay? My 3DS XL is my fave console type thing that I own. Gav's 3DS was mine before I upgraded and I mock its puny frame now I have my lovely chunky XL.
What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
G: Baldur’s Gate. It has great characters, a good story and loads of bits and pieces to discover that make the world feel real. Not to mention that the environments and sound were awesome.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Mech Commander, again a game with good story and gameplay bundled into one. Although perhaps a lot of the story was built around what I built around the characters, rather than anything actually in the game.
A: I don’t know if I’ll ever be over Pokemon Crystal. In terms of sheer hours clocked, WoW I’ve been playing on and off since 2007 (oh god) and Animal Crossing could still give it a decent run for its money. I have spent so many hours on that not even doing anything. I love Animal Crossing but I can’t even begin to explain the appeal of rearranging flowers for hours on end. It’s beyond reason
What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
G: I’m a massive fan of the game Bloodbowl, a fantasy American football game by Games Workshop. It has a really fun setting, a lot of depth, looks cool. There are web versions of very similar  games (not the same because then big bad old GW gets stroppy,) and they are great. So when a “real” version was released, I was very excited. And it was fine. I played it for many hours. But man was it a bad game. The AI was poor, it made my PC run so hot, I had to close the game and reopen it to stop it from hanging up. So whilst it probably wasn’t the worst game I’ve ever played, it is one that sticks with me as a disappointment.
A: I have played some utter pish for the DS. They released a lot of rubbish. (But I bought it, so who's the real fool)
Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
G: Dawn of War 2. I would rather play any of the older dawn of war games, to be honest.
A: Most popular FPSs, I’m generally not a fan.
Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
G: I am a Cata Baby. I had an account for the end of WotLK, but I never really played until The Cataclysm hit, and I found my first love, Resto Druid. I got my first max level character, I did heroic dungeons, I loved it. Most of my levelling was in revamped zones, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
A: Oh man I indiscriminately gobbled up anything and everything PF Magic spewed forth when I was a kid. Also, yeah, Cata. I don’t have the excuse of being a Cata-baby, I just genuinely got on pretty great with Cataclysm. In my defence, it was probably just a cool time for me personally, because Gav was playing, we had a fun guild, everyone was so awesome - so socially it was ace and I transferred that over into everything else and I had so much fun.
What are your favourite game genres?
G: RTS, RPG, MOBA, MMORPG
A: JRPGS, MMORPGS, life sims.
Who is your favourite game protagonist?
G: David from the game Silver. Mostly because it is one of the few games I got completely into as a kid where the protagonist was predetermined.
A: Lara Croft! She was my everything as a kid and things have only got better! I’ve always approved of fridging creepy old men
Describe your perfect video game.
G: To be a great game, it needs a great plot, great characters that have realistic interactions, and the game has to actually play well. If things feel smooth and the story is interesting, I’m hooked.
A: Can I have cute hair
What game has the best music?
G: Outcast and World of Warcraft. Outcast was one of the first games I played with a score, it blew me away.
A: I got laughed at this one time for admitting to a bunch of friends I play WoW with the music on and not my own, but shhhh shut up it’s amazing. Kinda cliche, but Ocarina. Animal Crossing.  Two of my faves: the original Lavender City, Animal Crossing 4AM, I heard an amazing mashup of both of those that was utterly delicious, but I can’t find it again! :(
Most memorable moment in a game:
G: [Spoiler for a 15 year old game] Gorion's death.
A: I have this weird obsession with the Regi trio and the bizarre amazing scenario where all my peers were briefly and sincerely fluent in braille, that was so cool. It just sticks with me. I also have a deep abiding love for all the Westfall plotlines shhhhh. Westfall deserves a break, I am still so sad about Westfall
Scariest moment in a game:
G: I don't really play scary games, so... Um... The bit in doom where you can't see and monsters flash in front of you. Or any bit with those big pink minotaur things.
A: My first Licker playing Resident Evil 2 in the dark when I was way too young oh sweet jesus. That game. Opening every single door was its own journey of sheer terror.
Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

G: I feel strange about this one, because when I started thinking about it so many of the “sad” moments in games are all about “man pain.” Mostly female supporting characters dying so the male protagonist gets angry or sad or feels. It isn’t really heart wrenching if it is the same thing that happened in every game since [spoilers] FFVII.
So the moments that end up being more emotional are the ones more particular to the player. That one companion in Baldur’s Gate that dies and it ruins your internal plot, even though no one else really notices in game is more heart-wrenching than most scripted events.

A: Hadn’t played very much Dragon Age, rerolled as an elf mage after playing briefly as a human warrior, Alistair said some very hurtful things. Some wounds never heal
What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?
G: The ones I frequent most often are Wowhead, Wowinsider, restokin, icyveins, theincbear.
A: Currently, I don’t really frequent anywhere but that is one of the reason I want to do this blog! I need a good reading list.
What’s the last game you finished?
G: Tomb Raider.

A: Ehhh, well, the games I’m into and have been playing recently aren’t as such ‘finishable’ soooo...
What future releases are you most excited about?
G: Dragon Age, Pillars of Eternity, Pokemon.
A: Pokemon Alpha/Omega Sapphire/Ruby. HOOOOEEEENNN. Warlords of Draenor, kinda?
Do you identify as a gamer?
G: I do. Playing games is a big part of who I am, it's my main leisure activity. I feel sad that the word has become a battleground between nice people and “real gamers.” The difference between playing a little game on your phone or the latest fps is just the platform you are using.
A: This is kind of a loaded question these days, but regardless, no. I know Gav does, and I’m definitely not knocking that, but it has a bunch of weird connotations and there’s a lot of gatekeeping and prerequisites (which according to a lot of people, I would fail) and I just prefer to stay clear of that. Also, I’m honestly not that prolific. I spend more time doing other stuff, generally. (Not that greatest percentage of time spent Doing a Thing is a good way to label yourself, because then I’d probably be a Sleeper or Eater or Staring Blankly At Computer Screener.)
Why do you play video games?
G: They are fun, social and I feel like you get so much entertainment from games for the money spent, even with the occasional dud.
A: I really enjoy repetitive tasks with incremental rewards. I’m also great fun at parties