Thursday, January 27, 2011

You mean to say that WoW has some grinding?

You know, I totally hadn't realized it had been as long as it has since I last updated. Sorry about that. There have been a few things going on, and to be honest I haven't had something that I've really seriously wanted to write about. The "how to gem, enchant, coif, and manicure your hunter" post is necessary, but also kind of a boring pain to write. Other than that, I've pretty much covered the exciting possibilities of 4.06 in my previous post, so until that patch comes down the pipeline I don't have a whole lot to say. Part of that is also that the guild doesn't resume raids until next week. That's right: we're so slowcore we're not even going to start raiding until the entire tier has been cleared on heroic mode by the Paragons and Methods of the world (which are pretty much uh Paragon and Method).
On top of that, I've actually gone back to school. I'm still a little bit surprised by this development - when I first graduated with my B.A. in 2004 I swore "never again, the studying times!" and enlisted in the armed forces. But here I am. It's not eating a whole lot of time yet, but that's going to ramp up as the semester progresses, and since I'm also working (part-time), that reduces the time I've had available to just sit and think about WoW.
Finally, the game itself has been a time sink, hard as that may be for many of you to believe. I came into Cataclysm with two characters at cap with the following professions: blacksmithing, alchemy, enchanting, and tailoring. You may notice that none of those professions are herbalism or mining. I've never had the inclination to play the auction house and don't really have the capital necessary to do so anyway, which meant I couldn't substitute gold for gathering. I have many fine guildies, some with gathering professions, but they also have their own uses for the stuff they farm, and with raiding coming up a lot of our communal farming is going to go into collective consumables such as flasks and feasts. This all left me with one inescapable conclusion: I needed a gathering alt.
Click to embiggen the most badass gathering alt ever.
I am really kind of in love with her. I'd been thinking that I needed some sort of gathering alt since Cataclysm was announced, but hadn't been able to think of a race/class combination that interested me. My boyfriend's suggestion of how awesome a wolf lady cuttin' things up with two two-handers would look took a pretty instant hold, though, so there she is, looking as righteous as I'd imagined. She's good for 4-6k single-target DPS at 82 and she has a pretty decent prot spec. She's tanked a few instances in old Azeroth, Outlands, and Northrend. There's a lot of frantic button-pressing in warrior tanking, but being able to spell reflect and interrupt casters is pretty wonderful, and charging is as much fun as its always looked. She's really a joy to play. So across my various active high-level characters, I now have six professions, all making progress. The lowest is over 485, and the highest is I think 516. I've definitely had some help from guildies getting this far (and a lot of it!), but it'll be nice to eventually be able to supply flasks, belt buckles, enchants, and spellthreads to the guild as well as a number of 359 craftable items.
What else? I'm up to 20/28 of the achievements for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero, which is getting tantalizingly close. I've got a couple trivial ones left (No Static at All and Prototype Prodigy), some DPS check ones (Faster Than the Speed of Light and Sun of A...), and then a couple finnicky ones that you need to clear long heroics to get to (Rotten to the Core and Don't Need to Break Omelettes). I'm hoping to have it done within a couple weeks, but it all sort of depends upon when everyone can and can't be online.
So that's what's been going on. Still a little freaked out about raiding - the fact that crystals are a mat for the Cata run-speed enchant totally sucks, not to mention +20 stats. It looks like I'm going to be starting raiding with a number of suboptimal Wrath enchants, just because that's the only thing that's available to me. I'll take a look at my various crafting professions and see if there are any purpz I can craft and melt for less than the 2-3,000 gold crystals cost on the AH, but it's not looking too good. This won't be an issue in a month of course, but right when you start raiding is exactly the time that encounters are hardest - that's exactly the time you want the best enchants.
Oh well! I'm sure next week will be some pretty awesome fun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Marks again? Maybe!

PTR notes have already been updated again, and I wanted to highlight a couple things.
First, they've already nerfed the nerfs to ExS and BA, from 25% down to 15%. Honestly that's not the big news though. The really big omg what really for serious yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! news is this:
  • Hunters can now use Auto Shot while moving.
Let's see that again, just to be sure we read it right:
  • Hunters can now use Auto Shot while moving.
Woah. Yep, looks like it's real. This will actually make some super hardcore people sad - knowing the timing of your own auto shots and stutter-running when you had to move out of bad was (and still is) one of the signs of a really skilled hunter. On the other hand, even though I knew about it and could do it, it was never something that felt intuitive or fun to me; it was never a part of being in the raiding zone. It was always awkward and stressful and something to second-guess myself on: could I have done better and made more damage happen if I'd been better at finding those extra little milliseconds to let an auto shot fire? Maybe. Probably.
So I'm definitely hoping this goes live and the stutter-run tumbles jerkily into a shallow grave. It's also just going to mean that hunters do more damage - all those times when our white damage dipped to nothing because we were kiting or running out of fire or moving to a designated position or whatever? Now we'll be able to keep getting in those white hits. Awesome.
The buffs to Marksmanship look promising too:
  • Aimed Shot weapon damage has been increased to 200%, up from 150%. In addition, the base cast time has been reduced to 2.4 seconds, down from 3.
  • Chimera Shot's overall damage has been increased by roughly 50%.
  • Wild Quiver (Mastery): Chance for this to trigger per mastery has been increased by approximately 17%.
I think that probably one of the under-recognized implications of those changes is that, with .6 seconds lopped off of the aimed shot cast time in conjunction with the buff to its damage, it could very well be worth casting while under the effects of rapid fire or a bloodlust - or maybe even during the focus fire buff that BM gives itself. And consider that aimed shot can be glyphed! And it's affected by careful aim! Very intriguing. A marks hunter build that values haste and mastery very highly could possibly be viable after the patch. Our reporters will be keeping a very close eye on this developing situation.
P.S.: 14/28 achievements for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero. Halfway there!

The painful sting of the nerfbat

Well, they're just nerfing everybody everywhere with 4.06, it seems. Heroics are getting nerfed, which I'll talk about in a bit, but oh my god the Survival nerfs are painful to see:
  • Black Arrow damage has been reduced by 25%.
  • Explosive Shot damage has been reduced by 25%.
  • Hunter vs. Wild has been increased to 5/10/15% Stamina, up from 4/8/12%.
  • Serpent Spread can now only affect up to 4 targets per Multi-Shot, down from unlimited
Oh god. It's like some hateful Guido with a backwards ballcap, gold necklace, and shoulders swarming with steroids and beer just took an aluminum baseball bat to my gut. Ok, not really, but those are some serious, serious nerfs. Explosive Shot is our most damaging ability and Black Arrow tends to be my third most damaging ability when kept on cooldown on a boss. That BA nerf is in fact so severe that I'm afraid that optimal Survival DPS is going to revert to using explosive trap for LnL procs on stationary bosses, which I really don't like doing. I hope the math doesn't end up in that direction, but I'm afraid it may.
On the other hand, they're theoretically buffing MM and BM, so maybe I'll be able to swap over to one of those if I don't like where Survival ends up. I'm still really surprised at the scale of the nerf to explosive shot, though. 25% nerfs to our top and third damaging abilities are just really, really severe. That's going to work out to somewhere between a 10-15% reduction in total damage done on an average boss fight. Or in less abstract terms, I'm going to be doing 1,200-1,800 less DPS, depending on boss fight. Raiding hunters are going to see an even bigger number, in absolute terms, lopped off of their damage. Brutal. Really brutal.
In general, I think the people working on class balance for WoW have proven themselves to be pretty smart, so maybe this is warranted. I suppose that it's worse to have something taken away from you than to have never had it at all. Even that only goes so far, though: if they nerf BA to the point where it's not worth using, that's a mistake (and incidentally, that's a mistake they've made before). I should also remind myself that these changes are just on the PTR, though, and they won't necessarily make it to live in their current form. It seems like the nerf to into the wilderness alone probably would have been sufficient, so hopefully they'll back off on the destruction of the spec's two signature abilities.
Moving on, the numerous nerfs to heroics are both surprising and not surprising in light of this blog post by Ghostcrawler. Surprising because the meat of the post is a spirited defense of the current difficulty of heroics, and largely I agree with him. I've been having a lot of fun with the Cataclysm heroics, and the guild has gotten to the point where we can reliably clear all but the longest instance in 45 minutes, and the longer ones in just about an hour. I'm personally at 11/28 of the achievements for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero, and our Wednesday/Thursday instance times are obviously today and tomorrow, so we should be able to make a bunch more progress there. I think the trash is a little easier than BC heroics, but the boss design has been worlds better, with the exception of Grand Vizier Ertan, who is dumb and boring. "This boss has two phases. In phase 1 you damage him. In phase two, melee stands around pointlessly but ranged still damages him. The party is zapped with a lot of lightning it can do nothing about." Um, ok. But like, Altairus? Slabhide? Azil? Barim? There are a lot of cool, involved boss mechanics in the Cataclysm heroics, the sort of fun and engaging stuff you don't generally get to see until you're raiding, and there was honestly very little that cool happening in the BC heroics.
I suppose the guy in Mechanar that gave you positive/negative charges was mildly interesting. And mini-Kael from heroic MgT was awesome. But the Black Stalker, Kalithresh, and... those other guys. I dunno. I just don't remember the bosses being all that entertaining really until you made it to Netherspite or the other dragon (Nightbane? I don't even remember) in Kara. And then the dragonhawk boss and Zul'jin in ZA were both pretty cool, Vashj and real Kael were awesome, etc.
So yeah, the nerfs to heroics are a little sad for me. On the other hand, I certainly can't argue with the sentence at the end of his post: they definitely have historically nerfed content once it's been out for a bit. Not necessarily because they think it was overtuned - indeed, the people that clear it pre-nerf have always worn that as a badge of pride. I never even raided sunwell, but I've talked with steely-eyed veterans on messageboards who stand a little straighter when they get to mention they killed M'uru before it got nerfed. But those people already have their volcanic stone drakes and are working on heroic Omnotron. They want more people getting heroics cleared. So I understand why they're doing it, and hey, I got my Cataclysm Dungeon Hero achievement before they did.

Monday, January 10, 2011

T11 Gear Post

Well, VA is still three weeks out from our scheduled resumption of raiding, but that still means I need a post up on our guild forums that lets people know exactly how loot lists work. That, in turn, means that I need my T11 list done to serve as an example. So! Here it is.
Head: Lightning-Charged Headguard, purchased with a token dropped by Nefarian in Blackwing Descent
Neck: Necklace of Strife, dropped by Valiona in the Bastion of Twilight
Shoulders: Lightning-Charged Spaulders, purchased with a token dropped by Cho'gall in the Bastion of Twilight
Back: Viewless Wings, purchased for 1,250 Valor Points
Chest: Voltage Source Chestguard, dropped by Omnotron Defense System in Blackwing Descent
Wrists: Chimaeron Armguards, dropped by Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent
Hands: Lightning-Charged Gloves, purchased with 1,650 Valor Points
Waist: Coil of Ten Thousand Screams, dropped by Cho'gall in the Bastion of Twilight
Legs: Lightning-Charged Legguards, purchased for 2,200 Valor Points
Feet: Boots of Vertigo, dropped by Atramedes in Blackwing Descent
Ring1: Signet of the Elder Council, available at exalted reputation with the Earthen Ring
Ring2: Lightning Conductor Band, a zone drop in Blackwing Descent
Trink1: Tia's Grace (heroic), dropped by Siamat in Lost City of the Tol'vir
Trink2: Fluid Death, purchased for 1,650 Valor Points
Melee: Malevolence, dropped by Halfus Wyrmbreaker in the Bastion of Twilight
Ranged: Themios the Darkbringer, dropped by Atramedes in Blackwing Descent
This gear set has 1000 hit rating, 1127 haste rating, and 9 gem sockets, not including the meta socket. That means it's in for a lot of reforging, but that's fine. There are a couple caveats, though. I haven't actually put this list into yet, and things like especially trinkets could easily change after having done that. I would also suspect that, unless you're a troll, you should really be looking for the crossbow from Valiona instead of the bow, but I just really like bows.
In general, I tried to avoid items with hit on them, since the base hit rating is so over-cap. There's just a lot of hit on the raid gear for this tier, and very often the choices that I found on wowhead were minimal. This might change over time, but for now we'll have to accept a lot of reforging. I also tried to pay attention to socket bonuses and socket colors when making this gear list, but I did put it together pretty fast, so I may have missed a couple very nice agility socket bonuses or something. As always, this and everything else I post are subject to change.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

When is it most annoying to buy an AH enchant?

Answer: when you've got an enchanter character with the pattern, but haven't been able to level her to 82 and get the pattern for the elementium rod. Sigh! I spent 1000 gold on mighty agility for my Rockslicer last night. I'm 99% certain that it's going to be the stat weapon I start raiding with, and yes that means I need to update my gear list post. I've been valuing hit on gear less and less and less, especially since I'm increasingly realizing how nice it is to be able to reforge mastery into hit. Reforging in general just means that you don't necessarily want to be all that close to any sort of hitcap on your gear, since it's so trivially easy to add another couple hundred hit by shedding your least desired stat in favor of it.
We've also started actually working on the achievements for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero, which means I need to get everything enchanted (I've been slacking on that) for the same reason that you need everything enchanted for raiding: you want every little edge and advantage. We did Old Faithful, Prince of Tides, and Umbrage for Umbriss last night. We must have slightly missed the timing for Rotten to the Core and Don't Need to Break Eggs, as I could have sworn we had 'em both, but I guess we didn't. Ah well! There'll be further chances, and I'm pretty confident we can finish off the achievement for at least some of the guild before raiding starts, and the more people have the meta completed, the easier it is to fill in the holes for the rest of 'em.
In other great news, the guild got its last couple of heroic guild run achievements for Grim Batol and Lost City before I did! This makes me quite happy, since the first 5 or so heroic guild runs had me in the group and I'm glad groups are forming without me. In fact I still don't have my Cataclysm Dungeon Hero achievement, but I'm sure I'll be able to get Lost City tonight and finish that. We would have done it last night, but 2 or 3 of the people in my group (we had two groups going, yay!) were already locked to it.
So yes. Updates to the gear list post incoming, as well as a non-heroic raid gear list post and a post on enchantments/gems for Cataclysm.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I am probably mostly competent

As Cataclysm ended, the most progressed Alliance guild on my server was the Borean Kilted Yaksmen, so whenever I see one of them advertising pugged raid spots in trade I generally send a tell. One of them was advertising last night for three DPS for Argoloth, the pit lord living in Baradin Hold. I said I'd love to come, got an invite, and flew over to the enchanting hut to reforge for the raid hitcap. Which, by the way, I love the new stats pane on the character window - it really demystifies hit, and the convenience of not having to go to wowwiki or anything to adjust your hit for heroics vs. raids is wonderful.
Surprisingly, we didn't kill him. On the first attempt I DCed, and I believe they wiped to the enrage. On the second attempt a healer died, followed eventually by everyone else. On the last attempt, we just plain ol' wiped to enrage.
I wasn't logging for WoL, of course, but recount's rough estimates are enough to give me a good sense of how I'm doing. I had worse gear than, at the least, the other hunter in the group, as well as being mostly unenchanted. I still edged her out a bit in damage done, with the first two attempts being in the high 13s and the last attempt at about 14.2k DPS. I think the last one probably snuck up a bit because of the time spent in kill shot range.
I'm still making mistakes, such as spamming my explosive shot button and then having a Lock and Load proc pop up. It's really a bad idea to button-spam these days, but it's a habit I picked up as a one-button class in BC and I haven't totally broken myself of it. I also had some minor focus capping and focus starvation issues, but for the most part I think I managed things pretty well. Room for a couple hundred DPS in improvement, but things are still new.
The Cataclysm heroics are fun, but I really look forward to returning to raiding with the guild. We've got some really great players in every role, and it was fun last night having lots of people on vent and chatting as we went through H-HoO.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I am just tickled

The lovely Crapemyrtle, a guildie and fellow member of the wow_ladies livejournal community, made a really cool digital drawing of Pradzha!
So cool!
So awesome! I heart it a lot.
In unrelated news, one of the winners of MMO-Champion's recent guide contest is a guide to getting Glory of the Cataclysm Hero. Unlike the Wrath dungeon meta achieve, I think the drakes from the Cataclysm one are going to be pretty rare, so I absolutely want to get this done, and I think this guide is going to be a huge help in doing that. I'm really excited about it.