Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Chromaggus (Normal)

Chromaggus is the last boss standing between you and Nefarian. They adapted his 'curse' mechanic for the game by having him put various 1 mana cards in your hand that either do damage to you or buff Chromaggus in some way like heal him, or make his minion or spells cost less as long as you hold them in your hand. You have to "play" them which burns your own mana. His deck consists of many Druid cards like Swipe, and Claw. One particularly troublesome minion he has is the Chromatic Dragonkin. This minon gets +2/+2 every time you cast a spell and those nasty debuff cards Chromaggus gives you count as spells. You need to take the Chromatic Dragonkin out with minions which means a board presence is key before you start playing any spells. Your other best option would be something like Frostbolt.

I went with a Mage deck. You get a Flamewaker for defeating Vaelestraz. I tried to make the fact that the debuff cards counted as spells work for me by making a deck with Mana Wyrms and Flamewakers. Sorcerer's apprentice makes the debuff cards cost 0 mana so you can get rid of them, activate your Flamewakers and buff your Mana Wryms. You can try to protect your minions from Swipe and his other spells with cards like Counterspell or Spellbender.

Chromaggus has two Faire dragons in his deck which he tries to play as soon as he draws them. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a Sorcerer to kill them but a Snowchugger would be a better option.

Here's the deck I used:

Mana Wyrm x2
Snowchugger x2
Sorcerer's Apprentice x2
Arcane Intellect x2
Duplicate x2
Mirror Entity x2
Spellbender (or another Counterspell)
Flamewaker x2 (should have gotten from Vael)
Fireball x2
Polymorph x2
Water Elemental x2
Blizzard x2
Sunwalker x2
Flamestrike x2
Pyroblast (any large minion would do as well - Boulderfist Ogre, Giant, etc)

If I hadn't killed him that turn, I would have pinged one of the Chromatics with Fireblast and killed him with Blizzard.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cracking Open Hellfire Citadel

I always love the opening nights of a new Raid. Balance issues are still being tweaked, you can't navigate the place blindfolded or say the boss emotes before they do.Trash is somewhat a mystery. Sure you can find Boss strategies from the PTR, but rarely do they cover trash. Even with the PTR videos, there is still a period of adjustment of adapting those strategies to the strengths and weaknesses of your own raid.

I was running a little late (again) but I managed to get into the zone before the first boss, Hellfire Assault. This boss encounter reminded me a bit of the old days of Mount Hyjal or what I thought SWTOR raids would look like. You don't fight one big guy, but instead are challenged by small, powerful groups of enemies. The biggest thing for the tanks was picking up the big Bezerkers before they smashed one of our poor healers. We had the gates breached in three attempts which was already much better than our opening night in either Highmaul or Blackrock Foundry.

Fel Reaver, sorry, Iron Reaver, landed shortly after we breached the gates. This was a fun fight. Troll and I swapped when we got marked for Artillery but outside of that it didn't feel like a very hard fight. It only tooks us two to three attempts to get him/her.

The first two bosses went down so easy that we debated turning it up to Heroic to see if we were already ready for that. We weren't. We didn't even get through 25% of the gates before one of the Fel AoE mobs wiped us out and we went back to Normal.

Kormok was the next up and from the looks of him, I was expecting another Tectus type of fight, but this was very different. We hadn't really studied up on him so we just went in with only a basic understanding of the fight. It didn't go well. We called it a night happy to have killed two bosses on our first night and everyone studied up on Kormok before we formed up Thursday.

Knowing the fight better was a big help. There is one part of the fight where Kormok will punt his tank way far away (what does he think I am, a Gnome!). We would land in one of the fel pools and die. My first death was atttributed to a Neural Silencer. I get them from Blingtron from time to time and use them, mostly because I don't want them taking up inventory space but also in case some enterprising player on a World Boss or PuG wants to have a little fun. I honestly forgot I had the bloody thing on, but when I got knocked into the fel sludge one of our priest tried to pull me out and she couldn't. I turned off the Silencer for our next pull. During the pull I noticed that there was one area of the room near the door that didn't have any sludge. I recommended to Troll that we point the boss that way when he slapped us. Sure enough, we landed but took no further damage. Kormok went down that pull.

I hadn't done much reading on Hellfire Citadel, trying my best to avoid spoilers, so it was with a mixture of surprise, excitement and nostalgia that I discovered part of the Iron Council was none other than my old BC pal Gurtogg Bloodboil. Gurtogg was one of my favorite fights in BC because it played to one of my Paladin's few strengths at the time, outrageous threat generation. Bosses in BC were immune to taunt, but you had to taunt swap Gurtogg because his swings reduced your armor. It meant the tanks had to carefully control their threat so they could switch him.

This version of Gurtogg harkens back to the original. He still does the armor reducing thing but he also has the rest of the council: Dia and Blademaster. It took a couple of attempts to work out the taunt swap. Initially, I was being too conservative with my stacks and calling for the switch too soon. Once, we increased the number of stacks I took, we got Gurtogg down no problem. But he's only one-third of the encounter. We wiped twice to the enrage time because we couldn't get Blademaster down fast enough.

The problem was I initially had Blademaster and Gurtogg and when we switched, Blademaster went with me. That took him away from the Cleave damage but also put him next to the Dia which reduced the damage he took even more. We got that sorted and two pulls later, we had defeated the Council.

We were pretty happy with four bosses on our first week in Hellfire.

Monday, June 29, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Vaelastrasz (Normal)

The next boss standing in your way is none other than the red dragon Vaelastrasz. I have to give props to the voice actor's on the entire Blackrock Mountain adventure. The characters are all well done and as an added bonus, I'm learning the correct pronunication of names like Drakkisath and Vaelastraz.

Every Boss encounter is heavily influenced by that boss's hero power and Vaelasstraz is no different. Her hero power causes each player to draw two cards making her fight similiar to playing someone on the ladder with a mill deck. I went with a low mana Hunter deck and focused on playing as many cards as I could each round.

Here's my deck list:

Arcane Shot x 2
Timber Wolf x 2
Webspinner x 2
Explosive Trap x 1
Snipe x 1
Dire Wolf Alpha x 1
Haunted Creeper x 2
Knife Juggler x 1
Scavenging Hyena x 1
Stonesplinter Trogg x 1
Animal Companion x 2
Deadly Shot x 1
Kill Command x 2
Unleash the Hounds x 2
Emperor Cobra x 1
Goblin Sapper x 1
Ironfur Grizzly x 2
Multishot x 2
Cobra Shot x 2
Explosive Shot

There's nothing there over 5 mana. I tried to get some hard removal for her Clockwork Giants. You want to play a pretty strong 'face' game because with Gang Up she will eventually overwhelm you with your own favorite minions. Unleash the Hounds is really nice for when she does Imp-losion. Goblin Sapper is almost guaranteed to be worth 6/4.

Friday, June 26, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Razorgore the Untamed (Normal)

We open up Blackwing Lair with Razorgore the Untamed. The Razorgore fight is all those eggs ('bout them eggs, no trouble). He summons 1 egg per turn. Its a zero attack minion with 1 life. Each turn it grows by 1 life. If it reaches 4 life, it hatches.You don't want those eggs to hatch because if they do, it spawns a 7/3 minion.  The trick is knowing when to attack the eggs and when to attack other minions and Razorgore himself.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Razorgore incorporates a mechanic that I saw over and over again as I progressed through the Blackrock Mountain adventure where the enemy has something akin toa  Zoo deck and overwhelms you with minions.

I wanted to get some board control so I would always have options for knocking down the eggs before they hatched. I decidd to go with a Hunter deck for this boss. I included Oasis Snapjaw  mostly to provide nice targets for the Houndmasters. A 2/7 isn't much to get excited about by a 4/9 with Taunt can be a nice minion to have on the board.

Mage would also have been a solid choice. You could use Jania's her hero power to knock down the eggs as they spawn.

Arcane Shot x 2
Timber Wolf x 2
Webspinner x 2
Explosive Trap
Bloodfen Raptor
Dire Wolf
Scavenging Hyena
Animal Companion
Deadly Shot
Kill Command x 2
Unleash the Hounds x 2
Emporer Cobra
Multishot x 2
Houndmaster x 2
Lost Tallstrider
Oasis Snapjaw x 2
Explosive Shot
Tundra Rhino x 2
Savannah Highmane
Core Hound

It was a little closer than it should have been as I struggled at first to gain board control but once I had it, it was pretty much over.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Welcome to the [Tanaan] Jungle

I got on later than usual due to some real life stuff. We got some potential good news on the house front, but now we enter into a holding pattern to see if its all going to come together. Fingers, and toes crossed.

When I finally logged on, I got right to work opening up my Shipyard and getting to Tanaan. At the same time, I had designs on getting into a Mythic Skyreach group to get the new epic gem cutting recipe that drops there. Unfortunately, due to my late arrival, groups had already formed and despite having both a tank and healer we couldn't find enough people online to put a group together. I wasn't sure about PUGing a Mythic dungeon so I had to put that off until another night.

I completed the quest to build my shipyard and launched off for Tanaan. It's so weird being in a new place. I had no idea where anything was or how to get from point A to point B. Part of that is exciting and refreshing and part of it is frustrating and confusing. Then came the moment I spotted the first yellow dot on my UI and visions of gold raining down from sky in the form of the new crafting reagent, Felblight, danced in my head. Only Blizzard was to have the last laugh on this one. First off, it took until the fifth or sixth vein for me to actually get some Felblight. I have an addon that shows me the Auction price when I mouse over an item and shows whether I'm better off auctioning it off or vendoring (taking into account auction fees). Remembering how crazy expensive Savage Blood was at the start of the expansion, I moused over the Felblight in my inventory nearly salivating. Apparently the devs decided to rain down Felblight on the player base. My mouth dropped to floor when I saw the price and the addon recommend to vendor it! Vendor!!!

I've been really enjoying paying for my WoW sub with gold and with Blizzard nerfing gold from missions and Savage Blood down to nearly 100g a pop on my server, I had held out hope for Felblight and epic gems to really pad the wallet. Realizing those plans were for naught put a bit of a sour note on the night for me.

I got the shipyard built and launched my first mission. After I got the second blueprint, I looked at the next mission but it only had an 88% chance of success. I didn't want to risk losing my new ships so I held them in port until I can upgrade them or something.

I got the robot opened up for making epic gems, but I completely stumbled onto the quest chain. The only recipe I have so far is the versatility one but I already have the Brawlers Guild rank for that one I just need to go buy it.  I logged off having barely scratched the surface of the new content. I didn't finish a single daily or even finish most of the introductory quests.

As I saw people in the guild linking gear from the world boss or talking already being Honored with factions I haven't even met yet it was hard to not feel like I was already behind and the patch hasn't even been out a week. But no one in the guild is pushing me. It's not like the raid leader was demanding everyone do Kazaak before you come to the raid. The only pressure I'm feeling is what I'm putting on myself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Rend Blackhand (Normal)

The final boss of the Blackrock Spire wing is Rend Blackhand. Rend has a summoning power that changes each time he uses it. He can summons 3 1/1 welps, 3/1 dragonkin, 2 1/1 Orcs with Taunt , Glyth, a nasty 8/4 dragon.

I opted for a Mage deck with Pyro as a big finisher. Arcane Missiles, and Arcane Explosion really help with all the possible 1/1 minions he can summon. Polymorph is nice for Gltyh. Water Ele, Frostbolt and Snowchugger also help to keep Glyth away from the face with Freeze effects. Blizzard and Cone of Cold provide nice AoE with a bonus of a freeze effect.

Arcane Missles x 2
Mana Wyrm x 2
Arcane Explosion x2
Frostbolt x 2
Snowchugger x 2
Arcane Intellect x 2
Cone of Cold
Mirror Entity x 2
Fireball x 2
Polymorph x 2
Water Elemental x 2
Faceless Manipulator
Sludge Belcher x 2
Blizzard x 2
Flamestrike x 2

Pyroblast is a lovely finisher.

30-0. I'd say that went well.

Friday, June 19, 2015

This One Hit A Little Too Close to Home

We've started the process of formally merging the two guilds together into one guild and Wednesday the combined guild took its first steps in Heroics. We had previously killed Beast Lord, Hanz and Franz and Gruul on Heroic and we managed to get them down again with some effort. It is so funny how our comp swings from one night to the next. One night we will have healers (and shamans) coming out of our ears to the extent that some people switch to an alt, but the next night, we'll be looking for healers to log on and have one shaman. Such is life on the Casual Deck of the good ship Raiding.

While we were raiding Wednesday, a coward committed an act of evil less than 10 miles from where I sat in my desk chair. #PrayersForCharleston, #PrayForCharleston, and #CharlestonShooting filled my social media. I was numb. This sort of stuff doesn't happen here, and certainly not this close to home. I went and kissed each of my sleeping children on the forehead and hugged my wife. Sleep did not come easy that night.

Thursday was an emotional day as we learned more details of what happened. I found myself sitting at my desk staring blankly at Visual Studio, and fighting back tears. Family, friends and coworkers talked about it. At work, we all went down to the cafeteria to see the news conference that announced the thug's arrest. I can't fully explain how surreal it is to see the CNN guy on TV and recognizing every street, and building in the background of the image.

When Thursday night came, I was spent. As raid time neared, I felt more and more reluctant. I logged into long enough to tell my Raid Leader I was going to take the night off. Raiding was going to take more than I had to give mentally, or emtionally. I eventually logged in to do some garrison missions and cycle my auctions, but I had no interest in killing anything, even if it was just pixels.

I called it an early night and headed off to bed, but again sleep did not come easy. I want to do something. I've done my best to raise color blind children and I've tried to lead them by example by treating every person with respect and honor. But is there more I can do?

I am proud of the way my city has handled this. There have been no riots, no looting. People from various ethnicities have come together to pray and lift their voices to God. The coward who did this wanted more violence. If reports are to be believed, he hoped to be the spark that started a race war. Charleston rejected that.

The shooter and people like him dream of a society where people of one ethnicity are better people and people of another ethnicity are less than people simply because of their ethnicity. South Carolina no longer dreams of that society though clearly some of its citizens still do. In the pictures displayed of the coward, three flags appeared: the flag of Apartheid South Africa, the flag of white-rule Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and the flag of the Confederate States of America.

You can stop reading me or unfollow me or whatever, but as a citizen of South Carolina, I think its time we take down the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse. I'm a 4th generation citizen of Charleston. I had ancestors that fought and died both for and against that flag. Some 160 odd years later, I'd wager that if you spent enough time on, you'd find ancestors on both sides of the conflict as well.

This week has made me realize that it doesn't matter what it was or what it stood for. Whatever it may have been, the Confedeate flag has become a banner for the world people like this criminal want to live in. Taking down the flag from the Statehouse will help communicate to those very citizens that South Carolina wants no part of that world.