Free Wintergrasp Epics

I didn’t really pay much attention to patch notes, so I was kinda surprised to hear that they added new stuff to Wintergrasp. I popped over on my pally to check them out… and my jaw dropped.

Wintergrasp is an obscene source of amazing epics now. Previously, I always made sure to get 55 marks on all my alts while levelling so that they could easily pick up an epic helm and boots at 80. They come in different flavours, including Dominance which gives an amazing amount of hit rating. The helm also comes with a meta slot, which normal quest blues don’t give.

With 3.1, new epic ilevel 213 chestpieces and belts have also been added, in the same flavours of hit rating or haste rating. The chestpieces can be had for 40 Wintergrasp marks, and the belts for only 15 marks. Even with the wasted stats on resilience, they completely blow all heroic blues out of the water and are comparable to naxx-10 epics. It also helps that chestpieces tend to be harder to find in my experience, with the crafted pieces being more expensive.

But the real killers… are the trinkets. Here is a list of the new trinkets available for 25 marks each:
95 Hit rating
95 Haste rating
111 Spell Power OMG
95 Crit rating
190 Attack Power WTF

The on-use ability is the same as the PvP trinkets, on a 2 minute cooldown. They are not fantastic for PvE, but can come in useful, e.g. escaping Prince Keleseth’s Ice Tomb, or King Ymiron’s stun ability, Web-wrap from the Watchers in AN. But the on-equip bonuses are so amazingly high for a single slot that I can well imagine them beating out all other heroic trinkets in dps. For comparison, a spellpower trinket that gives 346 spellpower for 20 secs every 2 minutes would only work out to be 20/120 * 346 = 58 spellpower, just half of what the spellpower trinket provides.

There are other trinkets for 25 marks also with on-equip resilience and on-use dps stats as well, but I don’t think they are as good in PvE:
Attack power
Spell power
Haste rating

A lot of people may not like to do Wintergrasp, especially on PvE servers. But with rewards like these, it really seems a shame not to pick up the free epics. Every Wintergrasp rewards between 1-3 Marks depending on your rank, and you can rank up to the max rank by killing fast respawning NPCs. You don’t even need honor, just Marks. You don’t even need to know what Wintergrasp is about, just go in, kill NPCs or follow the zerg around until you get max rank, then pray your side wins so you get 3 Marks.

We heard there were free epics here...

We heard there were free epics here...

With a little helper from my friends

There’s a achievement this Winter’s Veil for getting 50 honorable kills while in a gnome christmas elf disguise. There’s a Wintertron machine that transforms you in every capital city (including Dalaran), but the disguise disappears after death.

It also disappears when you shapeshift… Which means this was really painful to do as a feral druid. EXTREMELY ANNOYING.

The plan was that I’d wear the gnome disguise and equip my healing off-set (it’s actually quite respectable since I pick up all the leather healing gear crap that keeps dropping in heroics…) and try to hang back and heal. However… where should I go to get 50 kills?

Eventually decided that since we have to pvp, might as well try out Strand of the Ancients. Quite fun, but I wasn’t very good at hanging back >.< I kept trying to heal other players and obviously a cute gnome with glowing green hands plonking big slow-ass 3.5s healing touches on people gets noticed really quickly. And then I die because I can’t shift to bear when I get attacked (well I did the first time… then I realised I lost the disguise doh) and I have none of the tools resto druids have since I’m feral (I believe a non-resto druid is one of the worst healers out of the hybrids since unlike the other hybrids, we lose our main healing tools without talent points). So it was quite slow going, often I’d only get 1 honorable kill per match…

Then I tried AV, thinking “ahha! best place to hang back and heal people without getting shot at by cannons!” Except that I pretty much didn’t see a single horde player since the two sides just zerged past each other. After a bit on offense I decided to try riding back to defense to get more kills, but I bumped into a 5-boxing shaman near Stonehearth GY who promptly hit me with 5x flame shocks and 5x lightning bolts. There goes my gnome disguise…

Where to next? Wintergrasp! Originally I thought this would be a bad idea since our earlier forays there saw very few horde players. However, it seems like activity in Wintergrasp has actually picked up since then. It might be that many more people are now 80 and thus are starting to peek into other activities besides levelling.

This turned out to be the best way to get the achievement done. The key is to ride in the siege vehicles for safety. Wintergrasp tends to be very much more chaotic, so you don’t get instantly killed when your vehicle is destroyed. Also, it’s fairly easy to get many kills near the end of the battle when you’re zerging the doors/protecting from the zerg by simply stationing your siege vehicle at the side and shooting at the huge scrum of players. There’s also a daily for getting 20 horde kills in Wintergrasp, so might as well do both 🙂

The downside is that if you fail to get 50 kills, you have to wait around 2.5 hours for the next Wintergrasp so it might be best to do a combination of Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients to finish the achievement. Even though it would be easier for my other characters, I don’t think I will be trying to get it for them. Too time-consuming…

More on Lake Wintergrasp

Since our first foray there, we took part in Lake Wintergrasp a second time, but this time from the perspective of the defender since Alliance was controlling it. Good fun again, and we ended up winning.

Horde was outnumbered as usual, so again they had crazy tenacity buffs stacked up. This rogue would basically one-shot my feral druid with 22k hp from stealth before I can even press barkskin. Tenacity does seem a tad bit overpowered now, as a friend of ours noticed horde players had 50k hp. However, I think this only seems to be the case because Alliance as usual sucks giant balls at cooperating. Tenacity is balanced against the side with superior numbers working together to defeat the numerically inferior but stronger Horde. If alliance keeps streaming in 1 by 1 to engage the hordies in honorable combat, they will get squished.

This was what happened when the battle started. As the defender, you start out inside the keep. We quickly formed up a raid and started wandering around looking for the horde. Someone found them at the western siege workshop, I believe there were only 4 of them. A tauren resto druid, an undead rogue, an orc hunter, and a level 66 deathknight. All the alliance, including myself, who went there to try to take the workshop from them got slaughtered because we kept trickling in after rezzing.

Eventually, they made a couple of catapults and started pelting the western wall of the keep. This is where the battle turned as the alliance zerg naturally got concentrated near the west wall and we could use the turrets to do some damage to them while being safe from getting insta-gibbed. My wife then managed to get 2 honorable kills by staying at range, which gave her Rank 1 and access to siege weapons.

The trick is that you need Rank 1 to build siege weapons, but you don’t need any rank to ride them. So she started churning out catapults at our siege workshop inside the keep, riding them out a few steps into the courtyard, and leaving them there for other players to take control. Since the siege weapons do the same damage regardless of the level of the people controlling them, this was a huge boost for the alliance side which had many participants in their low 70s which would otherwise only contribute to an even bigger tenacity buff for the level 80 horde.

So with this stream of catapults coming out, we managed to start a wave of assaults on the western siege workshop. At one point there must have been at least 6 catapults chasing the level 80 druid around constantly pelting him with fireballs and spewing flames at him. It took a few minutes but he finally ran out of mana (after having innervated back an entire mana bar) and died.

From then on it was mostly a rout as the horde couldn’t compete with 13 alliance tanks zerging all over the place and eventually lost most of their towers and graveyards. They seemed to give up about 10 mins before the time limit, and the keep was never in danger of falling.

Some tips for those who are wondering what’s going on:

1) The siege weapons are key. As mentioned, they allow low level players to contribute and don’t die as fast to a tenacity buffed foe.

2) Thus, if your opponent is badly outnumbered DO NOT attempt to fight them one on one. Try to stay at range, CC them, wait for help. The aim is not to try to get killing blows, you must stay alive at all costs and get 2 honorable kills. This allows you to start building siege weapons.

3) Once you rank up, build as many as you can for your side. It is also worthwhile to get a rider instead of a tank for each player once you get rank 2, because the rider can control a cannon as well as cast all their normal spells. Like… purge! or roots! or hex! This really helps since the riders basically can’t be attacked and all forms of CC work perfectly fine on a 50k hp player.

Lake Wintergrasp

We hit 76 with the druid and shaman last night, one more level to go and we can fly again!

Ptoom ptoom!

Ptoom ptoom!

Despite seeing that giant cluster of red/blue stuff on the map everytime we flew near Dalaran, we didn’t really know what Lake Wintergrasp was supposed to be about except for something about siege battles. So when my wife found out that the next battle was supposed to start in 15 minutes, we decided to give it a try.

There’s a battlemaster/portal conjurer in the BG section of Dalaran that lets you know when the next battle is, and creates a portal to go there. This part is a bit iffy since the portal was there for Yannie, but when my druid went there it wasn’t but it popped up after a couple of minutes with the portal conjurer yelling something about needing reinforcements for Wintergrasp.

When you first zone in, there’s a flight path so pick that up straightaway. The whole zone is pretty big, and chock full of level 80 elementals so beware if you’re in the low 70s.

The initial part plays kinda similar to Eye of the Storm. One side is the attacker, and one is the defender. This might be determined by who last held control, e.g. if Horde controlled it then when it becomes contested Horde will be defending and Alliance attacking. Last night Alliance was attacking, so when we landed we were on the outside of the fortress. There were about 5-6 siege workshops scattered around the map, so first we rode over and capped all of those (similar to capping towers in EotS). 

With control of the towers, you can now build and pilot siege weapons. However, you first need to be promoted to Rank 1. This seems to occur as you kill enemy players. So basically, the first stage involves fighting on foot to control the workshops. After just a couple of enemy kills, you should get promoted. Killing more players/npcs then gets you promoted to Rank 2, in which you can pilot demolishers and siege engines, and then Rank 3 which apparently lets you pilot some flying machines but we didn’t get that far.

Building a siege weapon just involves talking to a NPC inside the workshop, and doesn’t seem to cost anything. We then trundled out over to the fortress and started blasting the walls, turrets, players, each other, basically everything. The Horde players were taking control of the turrets to shoot us and also built their own siege weapons to fight back. There is supposed to be a buff to the outnumbered players that increases their damage and hps, which might explain why some horde pally on foot hit my catapult for 8k per hit since Horde was outnumbered as usual. However, I don’t think this makes up for 13 Alliance tanks vs 3 Horde >.<


Horde tank defending against the Alliance zerg

So long story short, after blasting Horde (and getting blasted back) for about 20 minutes we managed to break into the main fortress area, where the Horde were holed up. From what was being said in chat, it seems like there is a relic in the main room, and our objective was to take that relic. However Horde was not being cooperative and there was a protracted battle outside the room. With 3 minutes to go, somehow we managed to cc/kill the defenders and a stealthed rogue ninja’d the relic for victory. Guess rogues are still useful for something after all…

With control of Wintergrasp, besides the Northrend-wide buff a instance portal also opened up in the main hall in Wintergrasp Fortress, which I believe leads to a raid boss that’s tank and spank and drops T7 + arena gear. There are also portals in the hall to all the BGs and back to Dalaran.

All in all, very fun though it caused us to stay up past bedtime. Remains to be seen how popular this will be, though the benefits are really very nice for the winning side.

PvP = PvE

I’m going to take Blessing of King’s suggestion and write something about PVP and PVE. Lots of people who prefer PvE hate PvP (they like the teamwork and atmosphere of raiding) and lots of people who prefer PvP loathe PvE (biggest complaint seems to be that PvE is “scripted and boring”).

I actually find that PvP’ers who give that excuse are hilarious, because it just goes to show that they have no clue what’s going on in both PvP and PvE.

A PvP match, be it an arena or a duel, is just as scripted as any PvE boss encounter that these people complain about. The only reason why someone wouldn’t think so would be due to ignorance, of either the skills available to other classes or the appropriate tactics. The difference, just as in any raid, lies in the execution of the script.

Lets say my warlock is dueling with a pally. First thing we check is, what spec is the pally? There are lots of telltales that would dictate what is the best course of action to handle this. So it would go something like “if holy then do X. if ret, then do Y. else, laugh at the prot pally”. If you know what abilities a pally and each spec does, then obviously you know what to do to try to counter as best as you can. If he’s holy, you know his damage output won’t be great and he’ll be trying to outlast you. If he’s ret he will try to close and burst you down. As a pally he will be weak against fear, you’ll have to counterspell his big heals or interrupt them with fear, try to burst him when he has forbearance etc etc.

All this doesn’t change regardless of who is playing the character. You don’t get any new abilities. You don’t magically do more damage because you press the button harder. Sure, you can have little tricks here and there, but that doesn’t mean the fight isn’t scripted. It just means your opponent didn’t read the script carefully and thus got caught. Just the same as getting caught in green fire from Boss Z. I doubt that most of these whiny PvPers were ever involved in any difficult raids and probably don’t really have a clue what’s going on during the few raids they were in, save for the exasperated instructions given by the raid leader to “do this! no, jump that way! now pose like a teapot!”

The script for PvP is longer and more complicated since there are more possible actions than for a PvE encounter, but if you actually understand the classes the “best” course of action is pretty clear cut most of the time. Just as for PvE, if enemy does that, do this.

Unless of course what they really mean by “not scripted” is actually “i like to bully people who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t actually fight back, unlike those pesky AI controlled mobs who don’t go AFK”.