Thursday, July 31, 2008

I said I'd top DPS on a boss by the end of the month, and here it is the 31st...

Thank you, Lurker, for being so good to BM Hunters.

I got a pair of Boots of Effortless Striking, which I sadly don't have the +hit to wear against bosses yet. If I ever find myself over the hit cap, they'll be a nice DPS upgrade, though. For a minimum DKP bid, I'll take 'em.

Strange, isn't it, that Edgewalker Longboots would be so good for so many classes, dropping as they do out of the very beginning of Karazhan?

Lurker and Hydross tonight went sort of slowly - we had to teach the fights to a few new people, which is a practice I'm getting really tired of. Someday I'd like to just, you know, kill the boss.

The Ranger-General's Chestguard dropped from Hydross tonight, and I lost the bid to the only Hunter with more DKP than me. My strategy of draining everyone else's DKP is working /rubhands.

On a slightly unrelated note, I stumbled upon an old guild app that had been rejected - I had applied on my mage, largely in blues at the time, to a much more advanced guild. They openly mocked my gem choices... pretty hurtful, yes, but not wrong. At the time, I was under the (mistaken) impression that socket bonuses were there for some good reason, and that they were worth gemming for. On top of that, I was saving every copper that came my way toward my epic flyer, so some of my gems were literally whatever was cheapest when I got a piece of gear. Embarrassing. Oh, how far we've come.

Of course, I still sometimes gem for socket bonuses... it's a hard habit to break. Generally, the logic goes "the socket bonus is something I need... and I can put gems in the slots that give me stats I need and still get the bonus... OK I'm going for it." I know, deep in the part of my brain that theorycrafts, that just dropping +agi gems into every slot is probably still better, but... free stats!

So, Blizz, if you're reading this, do us a favor - make some blue/green/purple gems that only have DPS stats, and give us socket bonuses that actually benefit our class.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A brush with celebrity, sort of.

I got an invite to tank Karazhan with a geared group, so I jumped in and found myself with some minor Arena celebrities.

It was a fun run - we brute-forced everything. We killed Netherspite with one tank, nuked the Oz event with one tank, and dropped Illhoof with no Warlock. It was a nice change from the slow, undergeared PuGs I've been stuck with for the past few weeks.

If you don't know who Aelli and Restorate are, have a look here and here:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Arenas! It's been a while.

It's been a long time since I've played Arenas - my usual Rogue partner has been really busy with work, so I've held off. Tonight, I picked up with a Holy Priest friend to try some 2s on Shabula in the high 1300s/low 1400s.

For those who aren't familiar with my attitudes about PvP, let's just say they're negative. But I'm trying!

I raid tomorrow, so tonight's specs were PvE BM and PvE Holy. No Scatter Shot, no Silencing Shot, but I did have Bestial Wrath! And that, friends and enemies mine, is useful

We went 5-5, and I could tell that my PvP skills and gear have improved dramatically - about 100 resilience may not be much compared to what serious PvPers are running around with, but it helps. I've picked up a couple of pieces from Honor - the Vindicator's Band of Triumph and the nice 2-minute Medallion of the Horde. Megatf sez 2-minute trinket! And boy, is he ever right... that thing is more of a help than I ever expected.

I also picked up the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes. Just a little upgrade, there.

More importantly than gear, though, I've been doing some actual PvP, mostly in Alterac Valley. AV makes me a terribly bitter WoWer - nowhere else can you see quite so much laziness, incompetence, QQing, and frustration all in one place. Despite all that, though, it's taught me quite a bit about the practice of killing other players.

On to the Arena matches!

What are we doing well with? Well, I'm very good at annoying and killing healers. My Viper Sting button got a workout tonight - I drained more mana than health, almost certainly. I'm also getting pretty good at 1v1s against Rogues. We faced a geared Warrior/Rogue team twice, and both times they killed my healer just slowly enough that I could burn the Warrior down and kill the Rogue. Given full health, any kind of mana, and the knowledge that there is a Rogue intent on killing me, they're not very threatening.

We faced two Shaman/Spriest teams tonight, in two games each. One of them went down like a house of cards - the first time we faced them, I burned the shadow priest down so quickly I didn't even have time to pop BW. The second time wasn't any better for them.

What aren't we doing so well with? If I was to draw a picture like a certain sushi-loving blogger, it'd be a picture of me floating in mid-air, screaming "FSCK CYCLONE!!1!" So, yeah, Druids were our main problem - we faced 2 teams involving a druid and lost both games. The first was paired with a Warlock, and the game was a 15-minute ordeal where I'd chase the Druid from one side of the Arena to the other trying to keep him from drinking long enough to kill either of them. It was nightmarish. Every time I got close, he'd Cyclone me, go travel form, and sprint to the other side of the arena. Naturally, he was healing the Warlock this whole time.

The second team was Rogue/Druid, and I have to say they were very well-coordinated - I saw them both in stealth and popped them with a multishot, but it did no good. The Druid turned into Invincibear (tm) and Feral Charged my healer while the rogue got up my narrow troll ass with both Season 3 maces. That Gnome has a lot of crit rating, I'll give him that.

The other team we lost to, twice, was a frustration - Elemental Shaman and Shadow Priest. The Shadow Priest wasn't particularly good or geared, though he did know how to hump pillars reasonably well. The Elemental Shaman, on the other hand, was sporting a title from Season 3 and gear to match. His Lesser Healing Waves during brief LoS were more than enough to keep him alive as he pounded my low-resilience Troll with Lightning Bolt crits. It was ugly.

All told, a decent night of Arenas - we crushed teams with similar gear, and got rolled by teams who were clearly in the bracket on purpose.

I'm developing certain 2v2 strategeries - if they seem unsound to you, please, help an Arena noob out.

1.) If there is a Paladin, make it bubble. Then kill other stuff. Making most Paladins bubble is really pretty easy... Viper Sting and an Aimed Shot is usually plenty to make a twitchy Pally toss up a bubble. Once that bubble is gone, they're toast.

2.) If there is a Shadow Priest, kill it. Squishy!

3.) If there is a Druid, mana drain it, put pet on it, and then do whatever else needs doing while he uses his mana up. Aimed Shot if there's time, but thanks to the Hunter's 5-yard minimum range, anyone with 5 working brain cells will just hop inside the safety circle. If they do that, Wing Clip 'em and make 'em spend mana to shift. :-)

4.) Dual-melee teams are pretty much a DPS race. Blow up whichever one I want to fight least once my healer is dead. Without healers involved, this is a race I win. Thank God, PvE gear is good for something.

5.) If the healer is getting focused, great! I can focus theirs, and my DPS is better. This will most certainly change... but for these low brackets it seems that leaving me alone to pew my best pew is a death warrant for at least one team member.

6.) No Aspect of the Pack/Cheetah unless certain that no one is going to hit you for a while. Self-CC FTL.

Advice? Tips? Strategeries? Let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dear sweet lord, look at this video BRK posted...

It depresses me that terrible players can get excellent gear as easily as they do...

Take a look at this Recount report. This is for overall data through a Sunwell Plateau trash run; a quite profitable run, actually - 4 weapons dropped. There is exactly one DPSer who had Shivering Felspine during the run - can you spot him?

Is it one of the top 3 Hunters? Nope! #7, maybe he had an off-day? Nope!

Bad news.

Was he dead a lot? Joined late? Nah. He was there the whole time, and died only when the rest of us did.

When did this game start offering the best available loot to players who spec a Warrior 41/20/0 and then dual wield when they have Shivering Felspine?


In less-elitist news, I tried the 3:2 spam macro today. It ups my DPS and makes my hand tired. I'm going back to manual weaving.

Stuck on Solarian

Since killing Al'ar and Loot Reaver earlier this week, Havok has been stuck on High Astromancer Solarian for two days in a row - pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.

People blow up the raid... or ignore Omen... or don't heal during Arcane Missiles. We have the DPS - our top 10 are all well over 1000 damage per second. We have the tanks - all of our tanks are rolling over 17k unbuffed HP. And I believe we have the heals, though my knowledge of healing isn't really enough to comment on the healing situation. Despite having all the necessary components to kill this boss, we can't get her down.

It's turned an easy fight into a source of extreme tension in the guild.

When raid time came around tonight, 10 people from the signups were online. We eventually fielded a 25-man raid, but not before over an hour had passed.

After the raid, I joined a few members I like and trust for a heroic Slave Pens, which we dominated in about 20 minutes. If not for those few people, I'd be long gone by now.

Personally, the Solarian fight is an exercise, like counting to 10. Embarrassingly simple. Press 1 for Pet Attack/Hunter's Mark macro. Click cooldowns. Press 3 for Steady Shot. Do 1000 DPS. Run away when I turn shadowy.

Depending on 25 individuals to do their very simple jobs (if you are shooting lightning bolts out of your freaking head, run away from the raid) has apparently become unreasonable. It makes me want to take a break from raiding til Wrath to focus on leveling my alts and learning the PvP side of the game.

I have positive news related to gear and etc, but I'm too bummed to relate it now. Perhaps tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Al'ar, Void Reaver down, no T5 shoulders :-(

Havok got into TK tonight and noobed it up on Al'ar for a while before getting together and killing him without further fuss.

Void Reaver was a two-shot - aggro issues kept us from killing him the first time. And by aggro issues I mean people kept pulling the boss off of the tanks and getting killed.

No T5 shoulders for me, but the list of people with more DKP than me is dwindling rapidly. Fingers crossed for next week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Look how clever you are. Want a cookie? No? OK, I'll just put in a ticket referring the GMs to this image.

Ready, Set, Heroic Race!

Tonight, since we couldn't field a 25-man raid team, we broke up into two teams of 5 to do something a little bit different - Heroic races!

After considering who was saved to what, who was keyed for what, and generally what we wanted to run, we decided to run two instances - Blood Furnace and Underbog.

With our Feral Druid tank and 3 available CC, we were pretty well set up - we burned through Blood Furnace, chain-pulling all the way, and flew straight to Underbog to do the same there. Only a few deaths throughout, mostly for our rogue, and no wipes at all.

It came down to the wire - we killed the final boss in Underbog just moments before the other team, and won ourselves 20g each. I also came out with Plans: Khorium Champion, which I'm hoping to sell for a few hundred gold. Fingers crossed.

If you're ever suffering from off-night boredom in your guild, find some people and challenge them to a Heroic race. It's a really fun way to engage with your guildies and farm quick badges.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Holding Pattern

Not much going on this week in my corner of WoW - some Tier 5 raiding, some Karazhan, but no upgrades to speak of. The Hunter is still hurting for an epic ranged weapon, and the Warrior still never gets to do much of anything, despite his excellent gear.

Al'ar gave Havok quite a bit of trouble this Thursday; tanks couldn't get aggro on anything, which led to a lot of dead healers and DPS - it was like all the tanks had Salvation. People weren't taking our night in TK very seriously, though - half the raiders who showed up were PvP-spec. Even farm content takes more effort than that.

Hopefully people will be more focused next week; I'd really like to start collecting some T5 gear on my Hunter.

Other than raiding, I've been leveling alts pretty heavily - I now have a Paladin and a Priest to 37, and I'm working on a Mage that I just started. Come Wrath, my goal is to have 4 70s in all, but having 5 wouldn't exactly hurt. I think the Mage will be my pre-expansion project - the Pally and the Priest are so much further along, it'd be a bit of a waste to grind the Mage up just yet.

Outside of the World of Warcraft, a lot of good entertainment has laid itself at my feet lately - if you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog yet, you're missing out... maybe permanently. I've also given Generation Kill a chance - it's interesting, at least, though I haven't completely figured it out yet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

OMGz, beta

The WoTLK Beta has started, and I want in.

Like, now.

The desire, it burns me. Seriously. Let me in.

That is all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Defense of Mages

I've been hearing a lot of people rip on mages lately. "Broken class," they say, or "like a Warlock, but worse." Worst of all... "vending machines."

Are the criticisms of mages entirely wrong? Nah. But I'd like to counter a few of the most popular.

1.) Mages are underpowered in PvP.

I tend to agree with this, to an extent. Mages are indeed limited to one spec for effective PvP, namely Frost, and at poor gear levels Mages get eaten up by just about everyone else. Sure, Fire Mages can blow people up in AV, but for just about anything where you're being focused, Frost is it. And the dominance of Warlocks over Mages in PvP is well-documented and valid.

A well-played mage, however, can be a real force to be reckoned with. The RMP build has proven this over the course of multiple seasons - the superior mobility and extreme burst potential of the Mage makes it a great PvPer, albeit only in the right hands.

Verdict? More skill required than some other classes, but not nearly as broken in PvP as, say, Shamans.

2.) Mages are losing the DPS race to Warlocks, a class that shouldn't be beating them.

There are certainly cases where this is true - Seed of Corruption is a better AoE in raids like Mount Hyjal than Arcane Explosion, regardless of AE's much lower threat generation. I completely agree that Mages need a better AoE.

However, when it comes to single-target DPS, only the very highest levels of raiding will see Warlocks universally beating Mages. On my own Mage, in Tier 5 content, I was right there alongside even the best warlocks.

I think part of the reason so many Mages are losing their rightful place on the damage meters is a matter of failing to play their class with a dominant attitude. I was used to topping the meters in my original, very casual guild, so I expected to do so all the time, and when I didn't it drove me to improve. Mages who believe the old "Warlocks are better" axe don't try anymore.

If you're rolling a Fire spec you found on Elitist Jerks, you're not maximizing your DPS. I tried all the Fire specs, specs with Icy Veins, specs with Clearcasting, everything, and what did I discover? My best DPS was with an Arcane/Frost (40/0/21) spec. And that was just for the average night of raiding! On fights where you stand still and DPS the whole fight, Fire may well be better, but on fights where DPS time is limited or threat is capped, Fire is far from my favorite.

Verdict? If you want to spec a certain way and top the damage meters without trying, roll a Warlock. If you want to top the DPS meters as a mage, you have some work ahead of you.

3.) So what if you can compete with Warlocks? Warlocks can do everything you can do, and have better survivability, endless mana pools, and cast spells that half of raid bosses aren't immune to!

This is actually kind of a toughy. There are things that Mages have that Warlocks don't, sure, like the oh-so-useful Ritual of Refreshment, Arcane Brilliance, and Polymorph, but those functions can often be supplanted by, respectively, vendors, scrolls, and Seduce.

The issues of resistances is a frustration, too. Thankfully, only a very few bosses (Rage Winterchill, I hate you) are resistant or invulnerable to both Arcane and either Fire or Frost, so there's always Arcane Blast, a tricky but very powerful spell.

Warlocks do have a huge advantage in mana conservation from Lifetap. Arcane talents can work wonders for a Mage's mana pool, but not everyone wants to spec into Arcane. Warlocks win the mana-pool point.

But can a Warlock, faced with a dead tank in a Heroic, kite two elite mobs to their eventual deaths with or without heals?

Can a Warlock make Rogues quiver at the mere mention of their class?

Can a Warlock Ice Block out of 100% of the damage from Naj'entus' Tidal Shield or Gruul's Roof Collapse? Out of Rage Winterchill's Ice Bolt? A Frost Mage or even a 2/48/11 Fire mage can survive three Ice Bolts - let's see what happens to a Warlock.

Verdict? Warlocks are nice, I guess.

The final verdict, though, at least for me, is this: Even though I have already leveled a Mage to 70, even though I've experienced every single flaw suffered by the Mage, I'm leveling another Mage for Wrath of the Lich King.

Maybe it's the underdog effect, maybe I'm just a masochist, but I love mages. I love Water Elementals, I love Ice Block, I love actually farming Mana Potions.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

You know you know these people

The No-English Hunter

Probably named something with characters not found on your keyboard, making whispers an exhilarating exercise in looking up ASCII tables. Speaks not a word, unless another player who speaks his language happens to be in your party. Does strange and inexplicable things, then meets questions with stony silence.

The Stoned Rogue

Probably named Budsmoker, Croniklol, or Fourtwenty. He speaks of nothing but getting high, and frequently AFKs for that purpose. Makes you wonder if science is wrong about marijuana's chemical addictiveness. Generally competent, though spacey. Often a member of a hardcore guild.

The Pretty Pretty Paladin Princess

Probably named Arwenna, Ladrina, or anything that sounds likely to have been stolen from Tolkien. Rolled a Blood Elf Paladin because they're pretty. Has put a similar amount of thought into the quality of their play. Is, or claims to be, female. May also be a Priest, but is most certainly a Blood Elf.

The PvP Druid

Probably named Shifftz, Hotznrunz, or anything having to do with Druids. Can't keep a tank alive to save his (or anyone else's) life. Never dies himself, though. Shifts to bear when he gets aggro, regardless of the state of the tank's HP bar.

The Epeening Warlock

Probably named Fearlol, Dottastic, or Darkgnomey. Destruction spec. Frequently mentions that he crits for 6k with Shadowbolt. Is blissfully unaware that 1200 spell damage is a lot more for a Mage than for a Warlock, and assumes that he's better than said Mages. Believes that the strength of Warlocks in end-game translates directly into his own personal awesomeness. Regularly asserts that Destruction only works if one has incredibly good gear; does not have incredibly good gear.

The PvP Warrior

Probably named Thewarrior, Smashyou, or Big-somethingz. Does not spec Protection, Fury, or even PvE Arms. Still wants to raid with you, probably because Dory's Embrace costs badges. Sometimes beats the tanks in DPS. Breaks CC every time the Whirlwind cooldown comes up. Uses charge/intercept to enter combat.

The Shaman in Denial

Probably named something with the word "shock" in it. Enhancement spec, dual-wielding Season 1 axes. Sits in Looking for Group for hours while people spam "LF1M healer and gtg." Complains that he can't get raid spots because raids only take one or two Enhancement Shamans. Refuses to respec to the most overpowered healing spec in the game. Doesn't understand why people keep suggesting it.

Is my list missing anyone?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Oh, I got the no-raidin' blues...

No 25-man with Havok tonight thanks to a dearth of raiders, so I ran Kara with a group of elitist jerks (no relation to the well-known guild and theorycrafting resource) instead.

Good handful of badges toward my Crossbow of Relentless Badge-Farming, plus Rip-Flayer Leggings, a decent enough upgrade when socketed with 4agi/4hit gems all the way down. 6 stamina socket bonus? No thanks.

Two major sources of Hunter-woe remain: Dawnstrike's Cloak and my ranged weapon.

I picked up a Valanos' Longbow from the AH this evening to get my shot rotations in better shape, but the annoying fact that I'm running around in SSC with a blue ranged weapon remains. No number of kills on Prince seem able to yield a Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix, so I'm currently saving for the Crossbow.

Please, someone, drop an epic ranged weapon... save me 150 badges...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hydross and Lurker

Havok killed Hydross and Lurker tonight, then epic-failed on the trash after Lurker.

Two SSC bosses in one night is a good night, though; I'll take it.

Here's Lurker:

I told the guild my goal was to occupy the #1 DPS spot on a boss before the end of the month. They thought that was funny.


In other news, I've been playing with Fraps a little bit - perhaps some videos appearing in the near future.



That Hunter pet actually made me think I was being swooped upon by some hitherto-unknown vile creature of Shattrath.

More raiding tonight - I can't wait.

New guild, at least for the moment

I picked up (with hesitation) with a guild named Havok - they're old hands at TK, but have just gotten to SSC for some reason.

We went into SSC tonight and downed Hydross... for the first time, as it turned out. Hydross is sort of old hat for me, so it was strange to be with a group of people who'd never killed him as a guild before. Fun, in any case, and I started earning a little bit of DKP so I can bid on items in future raids.

For the moment, I think I'll be treating my Hunter as my main - the Warrior doesn't particularly need gear from early SSC, and Havok is heavy on tanks. I can't complain - tanking is an enormously stressful job, and I'm beginning to find the joy in playing the Hunter.

Particularly joyful are the boss fights where I can top the damage meters, despite lugging around a certain ugly crossbow and multiple green or blue items. It's really a testament to how overpowered a BM Hunter is when someone in mediocre gear can outperform others in full epics.

Here's the Hydross kill - I got pulled out of the stacked physical DPS group to provide Aspect of The Green Leaf Thing to the tanks, unfortunately. They'll learn that that's a mistake soon enough.

More raiding tomorrow; I'm hoping this guild will serve as at least a temporary home. Who knows, maybe it'll turn out to be even more than that.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Tonight, fed up with PuGs and the boring activities that have made up my WoW-life of late, I decided to go for some items I've always wanted.

First on the list - the Piccolo of Flaming Fire from Stratholme.

Simple enough to farm - run in the back, kill Hearthsinger Forresten, profit. Or so I thought.

I started on a friend's Rogue, both because stealth makes learning instance runs easier and because I thought it'd be a nice present, and quickly got the Key to the City and started farming. After 5 attempts and an instance lockout, I switched to my Hunter.

That's when the fun started.

Soloing Strat on the Hunter is time-consuming and fairly difficult. My pet is a DPS-pet, thanks to some laziness in leveling my tank-pet, but he does a good enough job... until an Eye of Naxx summons half a dozen elites and buries me. Feign Death... pet dies... rez, bandage, repeat.

After some frustration, though, I got the Key to the City on the Hunter and began farming Hearthsinger. 5 trips, no Piccolo. /cry

Back to the Rogue! His timer is up, and back in I go. Two trips, and there it was! The Piccolo of Flaming Fire, fun trinket and gleeful diversion in crowded areas (Shattrath Battlemasters work nicely, on an AV weekend.)

Still no Piccolo for the Hunter, but it'll come. He's parked at the backdoor of
Strat just waiting to head right back in.

UPDATE: Second Piccolo acquired!

Next on the list after I've gotten my Piccolo-fill?

Ramstein's Lightning Bolts from Ramstein the Gorger
Cannonball Runner from Cannon Master Willey

Then perhaps I'll try for a rare mount... that may require some help; I really want the tiger mount, or perhaps Baron's.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Updates, a few reasons why tanking is not all it could be

It's been a busy few weeks, and I haven't had time for an update.

But now, good readers, you get one.

Duty disbanded. Severe burnout and hatred of idiots among the officers, myself included, led to a decision to let it go. More on that another time, perhaps.

I am currently without a guild home. I've applied to a few guilds in hopes of finding one that doesn't make me crazy.

I've been doing a lot of tanking lately, and I've realized a few things about tanking. In terms of gameplay, it's very fun. It's extremely expensive, in direct proportion to how much your group sucks. Finally, when you tank, people expect you to be a certain kind of person.

Firstly, they expect you to only want tanking drops. I've tried to explain to SO many people that I need DPS gear; that I tank because it gets me spots, not because it's the only thing I like to do. I'm not asking to get first dibs on DPS gear; I just want to roll with the other physical DPS classes. In Sunwell trash farming, this issue comes up all the time. There are no tanking drops. I want the DPS drops. I'm here as a tank because it's what you needed.

Well, actually, I'm not here anymore, because I'm fed up eating 50g repair bills so 600DPS rogues can get Mounting Vengeance.