Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A taste of BG at 80

Through out my WoW'ing, I've had an on/off experience with BG's.

Did some for fun at level 39 when I didn't know a whole lot about the game.

Then at 70, did a bunch. Primary motivation was to get gear. The point in the lifecycle of TBC that I joined the game, there was tons of outstanding gear available from BG that represented very solid options for raiding.

Along the way, had a pretty positive experience in BG. A fair bit of fun, and naturally, a healthy dose of agro from BG pug members or just plain old frustration at being ineffective. Learned a lot about my class, got better at dealing with other classes, got a bunch of gear for raiding and also for more PvP to make the grind less painful.

Up until Merrymaker, I didn't do any BG at 80

So the time came to step into the queue once again.

First off, AV in my new Battlegroup is just awful for Alliance. I never realized how reasonably balanced things were in the Retaliation battlegroup. It was simply disgusting how badly we got spanked. Most of the matches were actually 40 horde vs between 15 and 30 alliance. I don't know why they even kick those games off. /spit [target=Blizzard, in-de-face]

Secondly, F death knights. Death's Grip "Get Over Here" is annoying. But oh well, I suppose I'll get use to it.....

Thirdly.....or not. Because I doubt I'll be doing very much BG.


All the loot requires Arena Ratings of 1650 or better.

Back in my old battle group, I think 1549 was my highest rating. And that was only achieved via my most hated and anguished couple of hours per week. So I stopped Arena once there was no PvE-enhancing rewards available to me. A rating of 1650 on my new server is absolutely not gonna happen for me, so I highly doubt I'll ever set foot in Arena again, unless they make some substantial changes to the whole shebang.

There's Savage blue gear available for no Arena rating. But aside from Resilience, my current PvE epics are better in every category than the Savage stuff, for both PvE -and- for PvP.

So as it stands right now, I doubt I'll do any BG grinding for gear. I might step in to do the daily quest every now and again, because in limited doses, it'll add some fun.

I'll probably try out Wintergrasp, despite the lag seeming to crush gameplay server-wide during prime time evening Wintergrasp battles.

Fourthly: I can get Savage gear (if I magically decide that I want resil more than any other stats, which I might if I do want to hit any BG in the future) via Heroic badges. And I can get Hateful via 25-man badges.

I'm nearly at the point that I don't want anything PvE from either class of emblems. So I might dump spare emblems on some PvP gear.

But for what?

Maybe to quest in, so I'll be more survivable on a PvP server. That might be a decent idea.

But I doubt I'll try to gear up for mass BG action, since BG action won't provide me any reward without an Arena rating.

Bye Bye BG

The way things are set up right now, my days of grinding a weekend away to get a shiny piece of BG gear are over.

I'll probably do the random BG here and there, because I do have fun in small quantities. Once it becomes a chore, or if the annoying kiddies are being too abusive, I can just stop since there's no carrot dangling at the end of the marks of honor. And we all know that MMO is about the carrot. The shiny is what keeps us going through the grindy parts and the enduring-awful-strangers part.

However, the gf and I had a hoot in some AV's, so when she dings 80, maybe we'll go in together. But that'll be for fun playing together, and not so much for gear.

Besides that, Blizzard has nearly killed Battlegrounds for me by tying Arena rating into the mix.

Reflections on Merrymaking

I've long been a hold out from seasonal events. Not from the entire event, but rather a holdout from trying to do everything the event has to offer, or in the age of Achievements, try to compete all the feats of strength.

Generally, I've got my plan and I'm sticking to it, and the seasonal stuff just sits off to the side.

But the bug bit me for Winter's Veil this year and me and the gf decided to become Merrymakers.

Why the change of heart?

Two reasons....

1) Having dinged exalted with Hodirs and Argent and revered with Ebon Blade, I'm pretty much done with what I view as "required" rep grinds. The remaining grinds are for vanity items, cheeper vendor rates, or other such frivolity.

2) Blizzard did Christmas right as compared with their doing Halloween and Octoberfest wrong. Getting "the hallowed" required you to run that stupid horseman boss 5 times a day, pretty much every day, and then cross your fingers for RNG to drop the right items and then cross your fingers again and hope RNG will give you top roll. /disgust

Christmas was done with, IMO, a perfect blend of solo-ability and some social aspects mixed in.

Lets take a deeper look....


Most of the Winter Veil achievements are soloable.

Fly to here, here, and here and kiss people or throw snowballs or whatever. Fun for veteran players to nostalgic visit the old world. Fun for new players to get a taste of a few different locations.

Cook some stuff with easy-to-locate ingredients.

Run out to rescue Rudolph. Maybe not solo-able if you're lower level, but generally I'll say its safe to call this one a solo run.

/kiss a bunch of revelers at inns to get the items you need for other quests. Although the rate with which they drop Handful of Flakes for me was rather stingy.

Social Aspects

WoW is an MMO afterall. Cant make it exclusively solo game.

So you could go to one extreme and require players to find 5-person teams every day for two weeks. /yuck

Or you could make them play bumper cars on the plaza in Ironforge. Fun as hell, for just a little while, to ram and chase other players crashin thrashin robot.

Or you could make them run around Dalaran, mousing over every player they come across, looking for that damn Blood Elf Warlock to sprinkle some snowflakes on.

Or you could make them go to BG's and kill stuff. While all cute wearing costumes and such.

And if you're going after the title with a friend, what fun to get to dance as snowman together. Simple, stupid, frivolous. Definitely not game changing. But totally worth the few minutes of laughing together and taking a break from the hardcore grind.

For my $15, Merrymaker involved just the right blend of solo stuff and social stuff.

How about for the newer players?

Having spent nearly a year at level 70, with high level cooking, an entry-level set of resiliance gear, and exalted with Ogrila, Merrymaker was pretty straigh forward for Amava.

How about for the gf who, for all intents and purposes, joined wow with the release of WotLK?

Cooking: Ok, so getting cooking from 1-325 in a weekend was a little bit of a bear.

Endless piles of Clam-dropping Nagas and Egg-dropping Owlbeasts were crushed in the process. But, her cooking is now up to Northrend levels and she's happily earning Dalaran cooking awards and the highly lucrative Norther Spices like all the cool kids. Wanted to get this done anyway, so all the merrier that Blizz gave some motivation to stop putting it off.

Ogrila: Kinda took the Ogrila bombs for granted. On Amava, I just flew up there and bombed away like I've always done. Still haven't gotten it done in under 2 minutes, but whatever. /fail

How about for a player who (A) never had a flying mount and therefore must haul ass out to SMV to buy one and also learn to control the flyer, and (B) never did Ogrila dailies and therefore must do the attunement chain and learn how to actually complete the quest.

Luckily, at level 80, the attunement chain is easy for a gorilla-toting Hunter. However there is one abominable step that requires 5 players to summon the boss. This took some tapdancing on /general, a kind helping hand from a guildie, plus taking one of my alts and running her all the way up to northeast BEM since she's not 70 yet and cannot fly.

But we got the attunement done.

And the gf's got good hands and quickly learned how to get the bombing quest done.

Only to discover that the very first time you do it, its not considered a daily quest. So she had to do it again.

Running short on Mount-Transforming Holly, it was getting a bit scary, yadda yadda yadda, she's a full-on Ogrila Bomber!

Battle Grounds: This one probably deserves its own post, but suffice it to say, a level 75 Shadow Priest with 0 resil makes for a fantastic target in a battleground full of 80's.

I offered to farm it for her, but more or less was told where I can stick it. So we went into AV together and after 6 or 7 complete fail jobs at getting HK while dressed as Santa Helper, finally got into what's actually an awful AV match, but perfect for what we needed. All out grind fest, blood bath in no-mans land. Neither side going after anything strategic, just kill kill kill.

And at 75, she did a miraculous job of staying behind the front line, dressed as a little helper elf, darting between hiding in the trees and joining battle.

She single-handedly healed me through killing 4 level 80 hordies that jumped the two of us in isolation, and I suck, so her keeping us alive is actually saying something!!!

We both got like 6 achievements each in that one AV for killing anything and everything.

Outstanding time had by all. Well, I bet "all" in the BG hated it, but the two of us loved it ;-)

Merriment times two

So we both wear Merrymaker title above our heads. Had a blast.

Leaves me hoping more seasonal events follow the pattern of Winter Veil and escape the awful randomness of Brewfest and Halloween.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Guest post on Matticus

Matticus (Conquest GM, creator of World of Matticus, writer for WoW Insider, co-founder of, friend to puppies and children alike) put out the call for guest posts, only he specifically said NO HUNTER posts, seeing as his blog is primarily about Healing and Guild Stuff.

Either he's very clever at motivating me, or I just had to show him that Hunters have something to contribute to any segment of the WoW community.

Please go have a read about why you want to heal my pet!

Bug Fixes Bring Smiles

Ok, its no secret that I get into the game a little too deeply. Hey, we don't judge around here, so you don't either :-)

Valdesta at WoWGrrl posts her usual copy of the patch notes for 3.0.8, which is immensely helpful to those of us who do our reading from behind a corporate firewall. Thank you!

The inner nerd comes out more than usual when reading over patch notes, specifically when I come across a change or bugfix that I've personally encountered. I have no idea why its as amusing as it is, but so be it.

No Alchemy Lab Needed for Flasks

Rock on. I know, its a small tiny change. And its hardly directed at me, my alchemist is still sitting on my old server :-(

But how annoying was it to scrape together your mats for a flask shortly before a raid, only to discover that your alchemist friend is already at the summoning stone with hearth on cooldown?

For items like flasks, that're needed right then and there for a raid, removing the need for a lab is a good idea.

Stuff like special cloths that need a loom, I suppose I'm still ok with needing to travel to the loom since these items are generally made over time while trying to craft a piece of gear, or just make cloth for profit. They're not so much a "i need this right now and 24 other people are waiting on me" kind of thing.


You can now open them while shadomelded (lol) or flying or mounted (yay).

How annoying to be twiddling your thumbs during a flight on a hippogryph, scan through your bags, find some clams that you can't do anything with.

Sure, this doesn't make or break the game, but this post is about nerdy giddiness at reading patch notes pertaining to personal annoyances. /applaud

Unlootable Wild Mustard Plant

Fixed a bug with a Wild Mustard plant that was under the ground in Dalaran.

Love it. That one stupid plant has pissed me off every time they've put up this daily. Now it's lootable, and I can haz joy.

Naxx mobs with no Heroic values

Every time we pass through the frogger boss (slow moving, very predictable slime balls that one shot you if you touch them. invariably we lose one or two players to the frogger boss every week) in the Plague Wing of Naxxramas, somebody will drop a comment on how the next few mobs are all wacked out and don't have Heroic values for how hard they hit or health or whatever.

Well, now it'll be fixed. So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Shoost Em Up, now with more Shoosting

The daily quest, "Shoo[s]t 'Em Up" now only requires 15 Jotunheim Proto-Drakes to be shot down, down from 20. As well, the harpoon now only costs 5 energy to shoot, down from10.

Ahhh, so very nice. This quest pisses me of on so many levels.

Firstly, I gotta log out, disable addons, and then come back in.

Secondly, the left-right range of the guns is always f'ed up, as in, you can train totally to the right, way way far, but left-wise, you can only go a smidge past center. Awful.

Thirdly, the stupid harpoons shoot behind and below the aiming point. So you're trying to lead your target like a good Quarterback or Gunner, only to have the harpoons shoot directly at where your target is at the moment of trigger-pull. Stupid.

Fourthly, that hateful voice telling me I don't have enough energy. Ok, ok, I get it. I'm spamming #3 endlessly and there's no bullets. Ok, STFU!!!

Fifthly, I gotta log out, re-enable addons after I'm done.

So changing the energy per shot and number of kills is pure win in my book. Now just make the vehicle interface easier for addon authors to comply with, and I'm all yours.

Hunter Changes

Ok, no giddiness here.

Laid out all in a nice and neat Blizzard press release, it hurts to look at.

Forget my earlier theorycrafting the predicts a 15.6% decrease in my DPS. It was probably all wrong anyways, plus my gear has changed so much since then, it'll be impossible to actually verify.

But seeing the patch notes makes it feel like too much is being done all at once. Mayhaps they should make just a small change, assess the results, and then continue if necessary. Oh well, life goes on.

Nerds, Unite!

So anybody else get giggly when "working" the day after xmas in a totally empty office when seeing personally appropriate items in the patch notes?

Live and Learn. Live on PvP Server and Get Dumber.

PvP server ugliness showed its face. On Christmas, no less.

Getting pretty close to done with solo-able WotLK content on Amava, I pulled an alt out of the closet and got to work on her. Level 66, so a quick boosting run or two through Achindouon instances, and poof, she's 68 and in Northrend.

Aside: Shadow Labs solo (well, kinda solo, with pocket 67 shammy /following) is no joke. And I was laughing my ass off at all the folks who wrote horror stories about farming again and again for Sonic Spear. Especially folks who did so deep into the lifecycle of Burning Crusade, well after much better, more easily accessible options were available outside of Murmur's corpse. Sonic Spear dropped and was put in my bank next to my never-wielded Legacy! But I digress.

So the shammy dings 68 and takes a boat to Howling Fjord to begin her journey.

Aside: Holy Dog Sht. She was so squishy. Not even funny how hard a time she has. One mob, no problem, but mana's going south quickly. Two mobs, I might survive, or might not. Three? Nope. And in the starting area outside Valgarde, the aggro radius of a level 68 means 3 mobs is the norm. Not pretty. But I digress.

Slowly creeping my way through Howling Fjord. Finish off the quests in the opening area, take a boosting run or two through the beginning of Utgarde Keep with Amava, and move on to the eastern side of the bay.

Aside: Boosting through UK was way harder than soloing UK. Some of the pulls are tricky enough when I'm just keeping the Hunter and Gorilla alive. But the soft and squishy lowbie would get caught in way too many frontal fire breaths and whirlwinds. Not pretty. But I digr...oh shut up already.

The shammy is slowly and cautiously approaching some village where I've got to plant an Alliance flag and protect against wave after wave of incoming baddies.

AFK for a sec. I mean, it is xmas after all. Come back, dead. Ok, maybe it was a mob, the area is pretty tightly packed.

Reincarnate. Some cow-looking thing whirlwinding. Dead.

Rez. Two cow looking things whirlwinding. Dead.

Rez. Run away, since there's mad cows in the area. Take two steps. Dead.

Rez. Take one st....Dead.


Rez. Run away. Actually get 30 or 40 yards this time. Dead.


Rez. Run behind a tree. Wait a minute, drinking for mana and health. Fight some Shoveltusk mob. Cow whirlwinding. Dead.



Log out.

Go to character creation screen with intention of creating a level 1 hordie and chewing the douche-bag corpse camper out.


You can't create a Horde on a PvP server when you've already got Alliance there.

Probably to prevent exactly what I had in mind.


I guarantee that this a-hole is some kid who just got the expansion pack for xmas, and finally got his level 70 ass into Northrend.

Of course, I wasn't really thinking too straight up to this point. But then I get the bright idea to log onto Amava with the hopes to dedicate the rest of my Holiday to camping this guy and crushing his will to live.

But, in the 6 minute flight from Dalaran to Valgarde, I suppose he lost interest and ran off, because flying around with Track Humaniods on couldn't turn the guy up.

Kill a player once, ok cool, you win.

Kill a player a second time. Still kinda cool. You win, you big stud.

Third time, gettin kind of old. Unless there's Titanium or something shiny involved, back the f off.

Beyond three times? With no tangible asset sitting between you and your "enemy"? And to a player a few levels below you?

You just suck. I hope the reason I couldnt find you later was because your dad got drunk on spiked egg nog and beat you with his belt for getting bad grades in jr high school, or because you're ugly.

Go do your homework and stop camping my corpse.

Added to the Must Read Section: Greedy Goblin

Greedy Goblin.

So much fun. Be warned, he comes out pretty harsh with the Social Darwinism and is pretty "classist" ;-) but if you can look past that, its an outstanding read.

I'm not sure which camp he'd put me in: goblin/rich/businessman or dumb/naive/poor.

To phrase it in Greedy Goblin style...

On surface, I never hurt for gold, so rich.

However, (A) I buy frivolous luxury item (mini-van, cenarion war hippogryph) so dumb, and (B) I make my gold through gathering and daily questing so poor.

To truly be goblin, I need spend time on AH buy low sell high, earn substantially more gold/hour than poor working-class dual-gather.

Whether he'd classify me as a goblin or a dumb, I could care less, but his posts are both entertaining and insightful. I wish I'd have found this gem sooner!

Friday, December 26, 2008

That's what she said

The raid environment in Conquest is pretty intense.

I have no idea where we stand in the Hardcore-Casual spectrum, but I'll go out on a limb and say that while not full-on hardcore, we definitely tend in that direction. Somewhat casual hours (10-12 hours raiding, unless we kill everything in 6), but pretty hardcore approach during those hours.

And the resulting raid atmosphere is one of efficiency, performance, focus.

Not a whole lot of room for joking in there.

Vent is kept relatively clear for the GM and Officers (although there's one or two non-officer coconuts who chime in way too much during boss fights, but that's just my opinion).

Sure, we've got the ongoing Choo Choo Train thing to keep the smiles on, and nobody gets yelled at for slip ups. But the sort of raid we've all sought out in Conquest has a very professional feel to it, and we've done a great job fulfilling that.

But vacation and holiday time is another story, all together.

Tuesday night was the first night of unofficial vacation raiding. I think we had 19 people available to raid. Why not give Naxxramas a try.

Was certainly a bit trickier than doing it with 25, and the boss fights took a few minutes longer. Had to pay more attention to mana endurance, which is not a bad thing, honing the skills and whatnot.

But the atmosphere was noticably different. Maybe everybody was drunk on egg nog, or just giddy with thoughts of presents and elf bowling.

All well and good, we're "accidentally" pulling 2 or 3 more packs of mobs than usual during trash, which actually took some tapdancing because we were short handed (mabye up to 21 or so during the course of the night)

And then it happened. We kill boss some-such. And the RL says....

Wow, that was way harder than usual.

Normally, we'd leave that one right where it is and move on. Professional raid atmosphere and all.

But not on slap happy vacation night.

Somebody chimes in with the natural spike to the RL's bump and set...

That's what she said.

Wakka, wakka!!!

We all have a brief chuckle and it kinda dies there, like it should.

Of course, within a few seconds of the lol's dying down, RL happens to say...

Why so long?

And another character cant resist the setup...

That's what she said.

And the lol's and /rolleyes are getting a little more active.

And then, to seal the deal, seconds later, we're fighting Gothik (I think. The one who hops between his alive side and undead side. I wonder which side likes the frosted miniwheat side?)...


Gahhh! There's something on me! There's something on me!


THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sounds pretty corny on digital paper here, but every mic that was keyed was filled with roaring laughter. Not the phony typed out lol crap, but real honest to goodness laughter.

Probably laughing at how stupid the whole thing was, but its our $15 bucks, and we'll laugh at the dorky jokes if we want to :-)

And the RL "threatened" to enforce normal communication rules and buzz kill the whole event, but instead he "chose" to die 18 times to ghosts while clearing trash.

A fun time had by all !!!!

Merry Christmas!

The Karma of Enhancing Gear

You hear lots and lots of people say that they don't want to enchant a piece of gear, or equip a scope on a ranged weapon, or put in gems, or whatever costly enhancement, because they're just going to replace the item soon anyways.

I go the other way. Through out my raiding career, starting with a nearly fully greenie set of loot stepping into Karazhan a year ago, I've tried to take good care of the gear.

And if there's a specific item I want upgraded, to appease whoever or whatever controls karma, destiny, and pseudo-random numbers, I try to find the best upgrade possible, apply it to the item I want to eliminate, and sure enough, a replacement comes along lickety split.

Ahhh, Hodir

Got home tuesday night, a mere 750 rep away from Exalted.

Wanting to do it with a little artistic flair, I do a little math, and dig up a little angst.

Math: One quest gives 500 rep. Another one gives 350. Do those two, and you'll ding.

Angst: That Grippy/Stabby quest o' bugginess has been the bane of my WoW dailies for several weeks now. The proper way to ding is by submitting this quest.

So I did the hot/cold one, and then actually, in a rare feat of amazingness, I one-shot the grippy/stabby.


Quick like a bunny, I hop on over to the quartermaster, get my upgrade of a total +10 attack power and +5 crit.

Yes. Weeks and weeks of ganks, griefs, bugs, low drop rates, horn blowing ninjas, hard to find chips, that stupid wolf spirit who can't seem to find the spies in any straight forward fashion.... All of that endured for +10ap and +5 crit over the lesser inscription. Out-f'ing-standing.

I happily applied the update to my shoulders.

Raided Naxx-25 with 19 or 20 people.

The short-handed Loot Council saw it fit to smile upon me with the T7 shoulders, providing the sweet sweet Beast Master me-love-you-long-time +5% pet damage.

I happily flew back out to Dunder Nifflem to buy my second greater inscription that very same day.


And what is it about my OCD that makes me keep grinding rep after I'm exalted.

Once you ding Exalted with a faction, there's still 999 rep you can gain with them.

I hate partially filled progress bars.

If there's one thing in this world that I hate, its a partially filled progress bar.

So I finished off some more dailies at Hodir to get the 999/1000 progress bar fully and completely done.

Am I weird, or does everybody do that?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time for another Improvement Plan update

I wrote the last update a week ago. Time for another one.

You might be familiar with the format: review previous 5 steps, describe any out-of-plan changes, assess the results, document the new 5 steps.

Review Previous Five Steps

1) Sons of Hodir - I actually found some Everfrost Chips. 5 of them to be correct. Its like christmas come early. On schedule to ding Exalted tuesday night, and since I post these roughly 18-20 hours after I write them, in all likelihood, I'll be exalted as you read. A happy day indeed. All this for a stupid upgrade to the shoulder inscription.

2) Revisit the Gear Wishlist - Using as my primary research tool, I put together a spreadsheet of all the upgrades available in the game. The spreadsheet format allows me to filter easily by equipment slot or by boss which is very helpful depending on what I'm doing at the moment.

3) Titanium Impact Band - Already wrote about this, but for the sake of sticking with the format, I'll put it here also. Thing I like the best about it is the yellow socket because +16hit is very helpful to me right about now.

4) Darkmoon Cards - Zero progress on this one.

5) Knights of the Ebon Blade - Ding revered. That mental block that somehow prevented me from doing some simple addition proved to be a non-issue, and I nailed revered that very night via dailies. So I've got the new helm arcanum which is very nice, but surprisingly had to adjust to the lack of +hit that the new arcanum has when compared to the Cenarion Expedtion one.

Out-of-Plan Changes

You know, so much changes in a week, its tough to say at this point.

Got a pair of shoulders from the Loot Council out of Naxx-25 which was a nice upgrade, but still has 3 more upgrade options in Heroic Raids. I'll happily slap the new Shoulder Inscription on these puppies once I ding Hodirs.

Got a 1H Melee weapon that's a big DPS upgrade over one of my Fangs of Truth, however came with a big drop in +hit so I had lots of shuffling to do.

Regarding the aforementioned shuffling, changed every gem to have some +hit on it, plus changed my boots enchant to Icewalker, to get within 5 points of the 8% hit cap.

Also got Arc-Scorched Helm in Naxx-10.

That's all I've got.

Assess the Results

Patchwerk-25 is what I'm generally using as my benchmark.

I came this |--------------| close to passing 5k DPS on Patchwerk this week -AND- I was a total noob and forgot to swap in my Fancy Saronite Arrows, so I was using the old school Mt. Hyjal ammo -AND- I think I mis-managed the timing of my Rapid Fire cooldown. Brass still won at WWS, coming |----| this close to 5k.

My pet did roughly 2.3k DPS, comprising 48% of my overall damage.

The upcoming nerf for Hunters makes me a drop sad. Not because my total damage will go down. I'm ok with that, and will continue to work my Plan to keep the numbers improving. No, the sadness is that they're nerfing the pet DPS the most. I'm loving the nearly 50/50 split between Hunter and Pet. I'd prefer they nerf the Hunter and keep the pet solid, making for a 60/40 Pet/Hunter split.

But, lets let go of the saddness, its almost Christmas. And revel in the massive numbers we're posting for now.

The New 5 Steps

Interestingly, the upgrade options are becoming fewer and fewer. Pretty soon, the Plan might feature fewer than five, so if any of these are a stretch, call me on it and let me know it's time to chop the number down.

1) Last week they get to appear in my plan - Do two more quests and ding Hodirs Exalted. Just Do It.

2) Clean up Wishlist - Version 1 of my Wishlist came mostly from manually scanning boss loot tables and Kaliban's Loot List. Version 2 came almost exclusively from A visual inspection of some of MaxDPS's choices leaves me scratching my head in a couple cases. I might need to get Cheeky with it.

3) Out with the green - My only greenie left is one trinket. I dislike it (A) because its green (B) its 'on-use' effect causes me to turn green a bubbly, like I've got a poison on me. Its got to go. I could replace it with one of three blue trinkets I have in the bank, but I they're all haste oriented, and my greenie is AP and Crit based.

4) Melee Weapons - Ok, so this kind of overlaps with #2, but its an area of closer focus. There's so many different options for the melee weps for a Hunter. Dual wield or go 2H? Fang of Truth is nice, but mostly for the +hit. What weapons are nice enough for me to consider dumping 1200g into Accuracy? Inquiring minds want to know.

5) WTB another T7 piece - Some of the Loot Council members indicate they read the blog. Good stuff, thanks for comin'. Let me use this place holder to share with you how utterly wonderful the 2-piece T7 bonus is for a Beast Master hunter. +5% damage to the pet. The way it stands now, that'd be a 2.5% increase in my overall DPS. Hard to find any single piece upgrade that'd add a basically guaranteed 2.5% boost. In the meantime, I'm saving badges for incase you decide to send the loot elsewhere, but pretty please, with sugar on top, hook a brother up.

Personal and Guild Quickies

Its been a few days since I sat down to write a post, and quite a bit has gone on in WoW. Lets take a look at some Guild and some Amava quickies:

*) Amava - Revered for a few more hours: Tuesday morning, I woke up with the plan to ding exalted with Sons of Hodir and Walrus Guys before heading out to work. Upon loading WoW, I discovered that they took the servers down 2 hours earlier than normal. Will have to wait for this evening. I'm 750 away from Hodirs (hallelujah) and 990 away from Walrus Guys, meaning I'll have to do a grand total of 4 quests to ding 'em both.

*) Guild - Faster and Harder: Conquest pushed the raid speed this week, clearing all 25-person content in 2 nights of three hours, including a progression kill of One Drake Up on Sartharion. Technically, Archavon went beyond our 3 hour limit, but Alliance didn't have control of Wintergrasp until 15 minutes after our scheduled end time.

*) Amava - Questing galore: Killed some time blowing through the last 40 quests in Howling Fjord. Lots of cash, a fair bit of rep dinged exalted with Valliance Expedition (???). Yay me.

*) Guild - Vacation: We're on vacation. No formal raids until 2009. We'll see who's logged in and maybe kill stuff anyways. We're getting used to filling in spare time since we're clearing the raids so fast. Two Drakes Up will probably have to wait till the new year.

*) Amava - Cooking: I've been checking Rokk in Shatt city pretty much every day. I've done all of his dailies a million times. But since they implemented achievements, I've not gotten Smurfberries. Finally he had Smurfberries for me. Nostalgic flight through Zangarmarsh, Hellfire, and Netherstorm. /cry

*) Guild - 10-person Naxx: During some off time, 10 of us went for it in Naxx. Cleared the joint in 3.5 hours. Although no alcohol was consumed, the more relaxed atmosphere felt a bit like the good old days of drunken kara. Did Four Horsemen with only 2 Healers, although we needed a third for Kel'Thuzad. I can haz new helmet, leaving only one melee wep (blue) and one trinket (green) as non-level-80-epic gear.

*) Amava - Amphitheater of Joy: Needed only 5 quests to ding off Zul'drak. Having no idea what the Amphitheater is about, I just took the quest and tried to solo it. Was actually going fine when 4 alliance guys jumped in to help. Made quick work of all 5 quests, and I totally love the sound fx of the audience and stuff. Good times.

*) Guild - Gear Per Capita: I have no idea how or where to confirm this, but a few guildies mentioned that some such data mining service is reporting Conquest as the best geared guild on the realm per capita. Does this mean that we just don't have many social members and alts? Or is the Loot Council truly doing a rock solid job of landing the right gear in the right hands? Discuss.

*) Amava - Winter Clothes: Me and the Uber GF went ahead and got some winter clothes, 3 pieces of red each. She tailored one piece for each of us, I bought one piece for each of us, and then we farmed. The Nexus, me and my gorilla at level 80, and her on her level 73 shadow priest (she's 75 now, w00t). Easily cleared almost all of Nexus, including a very NOT easy fight against the boss lady who drops the hat.

*) Guild - More with the Speed: A couple of us went into Heroic UK for the daily. Tried to see how fast we could go. 27 minutes.

I'm sure there's more, but its all that's coming to me right now. I feel a Performance Improvement Plan post coming.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Amusing Ways the Horde Got Me

So I'm on a PvP server.

Usually its not much different than PvE server. Sometimes, usually when least convenient for me, its brutal. But generally ok.

When horde ganks, 5 vs 1, or lvl 80 vs lvl 72, or even 1v1 but he decides to kill you 5 times in a row, it gets my feathers ruffled.

Aside: A distorted part of me is enjoying the pain, and using the experience as motivation to not allow things I cannot control to get me hot and bothered. Mixed results so far.

Two recent Hordies zinged me in ways that actually amused me.

1) Hodir Mc DLT

The hot/cold one. Kill elementals on a frozen lake. Loot their snowballs. Find hot pieces of metal. Fling a snowball to cool off the metal. Loot the metal. Repeat x5. Turn in quest.

The quest isn't all that bad on the surface. Sure, the drop rate of the snowballs is a tad low, but not unbearable. And the respawn on the elemental mobs and the hot pieces of metal are fast enough. It only becomes unmanagable when the packs of Horde ganksters are teaming up on any alliance in the area.

So, one day was really bad. Ganks galore. Struggle through it. Get 4 out of 5 pieces of metal in my bag. Only one left. And, naturally, only one snowball.

Throw it at a piece of hot metal. And, because the lag is pretty bad out in this heavily camped area, discover that a Tauren also threw his from the other side at roughly the same time. He looted first, so my loss, gotta go get another snowball.

Get snowball, return to hot metals.

Throw snowball. Begin looting chilled metal.

And a stinkin Undead Priest comes along and Screams me a fraction of a second before completing the loot.

As I stand there uncontrolling my toon, whacking into the mountain face next to me, I could only stare at the guy looting my chilled metal, without even having to use his own snowball.

The irony of the situation just royally amused me.

And even better when I tracked him down and killed him.

At this point, I was smiling, and happily braved the ganksters for yet another snowball and completed my quest.

I don't know why, but it amused the hell out of me.

2) Attack from Above

One of the pitfalls of a PvP server is where you choose to /afk.

On PvE, no sweat. As long as you're clear of hostile NPC mobs, you can go get a soda, take a shower, let the dog out, whatever.

PvP, gotta be clear of Horde.

I'm out questing (at Hodir's, big f'ing surprise) and the gf is headed out the door, so we're saying goodbye. So I pop onto my Cenarion War Hippogryph, and fly a little way up into the air, hopefully safe from the Horde.

Goodbye conversation continues.

I hear out the corner of my ears that something's not right with my toon. Look over, some Hordie is firing spells at me. I was hovering too close to the ground, still in range, and seeing me AFK, he just wanted to say HELLO.

So I reach over with a spare hand and hold space bar to fly out of range and into safety. Cool, he's not firing at me anymore.

Back to the conversation.

Next thing I know, I'm hearing the shots again.

See, this time, I flew up higher. But in the Hodir's camp at Dunder Nifflem, there's a variety of cliffs that allow a would-be-attacker a variety of vertical levels from which to attack.

I had flown higher, but he just climbed up to a higher shelf in the camp and found me to be within range again.

So I reach back over, hold space bar a little longer, and now I'm safe from Horde, up high in the clouds. No way he can find a position that's in range he can fire at me.

Back to saying goodbye.

Next thing I know, I'm getting hit again!?!?!?!?!!??!?!!? WTF!!!!!!

Conversation comes to a halt. We both look over.


I didn't even bother trying to evade. I didn't even know you could cast spells while in the air.

He worked hard for this one. He can have his victory.

We laughed our asses off. He was so very tenacious. /applaud

And finally, we were able to say goodbye without any horde interference.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Easily" accessible JC crafted upgrade option

During yesterday's post "Continuing the Improvement Plan", one of the items on my new short-list is the Titanium Impact Band.

In the post, I described it as "an easily accessible JC crafted upgrade option."

Yeah, suppose that depends on your definition of "easily accessible".

First thing to note. The mats.

Some titanium, but you were expecting that from the name, weren't you? Ok, cool, you've got a little stash of this in the bank, so no sweat.

Then, the usual ingredients for crafted epics, a bunch of Eternals. Again, they're already in the bank, so no searching, no paying.

Life is good!

Then the last item. 4x Dragon's Eye.

WoW Head lists the price at 640g per Eye.

Really? 4 of them?


Ok, let me check AH for already crafted rings.

Two listed.

2,100 and 2,400


Back to WoW Head.

Further research shows Dragon's Eye to be BoE and JC's can buy them with their daily quest rewards.

AH had 4 of them listed at a reasonable price, so I couldn't resist. 1,000 gold for the set.

Cool, empty the mailbox and hearth to Dalaran.

/g any JC on to make Titanium Impact Band?



/Trade LF jc to make Titanium Impact Band. my mats and tip.



FINE! I just dumped a cool grand on mats plus 150 gold for a gem, and I'm not gonna have my stupid ring before the stupid raid tonight.

Head off to do some dailies.

No joke, 15 minutes later, I get a pst from some guy who saw my bark on /trade. 15 minutes?

Seems that the recipe is pretty rare, or at least was pretty rare amongs the players who were logged in and looking at /Trade at the time I was barking.

Yadda yadda yadda

I love my shiny new ring and its juicy yellow socket.

Raid Progress Report - Drakes Up, Ho's Down

Just a real quickie for anybody who cares.

First night of new Raid ID's. Three Hours.

1) Heroic Sartharion + 1 Drake (Tenebron) progression attempt. One Shot. Cool as hell, added a bunch of complexity. Pets are so squishy in this fight, Princess Vespa was dead or at my side for much of the fight. /cry Hopefully we'll try 2 Drakes next week.

2) Heroic Malygos second kill attempt. A few shots, but dead dragon in the end. Several players in the raid who weren't part of the progression kill, so should be pretty close to farmable now that they've seen it top to bottom.

3) Heroic Naxxramas - Spider Wing and Plague Wing Cleared. Most importantly: Heroic Safety Dance Achieved with zero deaths on Heigan the Unclean!!!!!!!

Collectively, the DPS was up quite a bit, and nearly all boss kills were Guild records for speed.

Speed through trash was also much improved. That's a good thing, but unfortunately, it may build bad habits over time. Its good because I dislike wasting time unnecessarily. Its bad because we can just sorta pull entire rooms now (through gear and familiarity). With only half the raid, and the other half still standing by a corpse figuring out what to do with the stuff in the corpse's pockets.

Actually, strangely enough, it might be building even stronger need for skill, because clearing 4 or 5 packs of spiders in a single swoop requires you to be a bit on your toes, rather than sitting down, setting up, and just mindlessly AoE'ing small groups at a time.

The goal for the week is to clear everything in two nights.

To do that, Thursday night would need to be Naxx Construct Wing, Military Wing, Sapphiron, Kel'Thuzad, and then fly on over to Wintergrasp to take down Archavon.

Given the pace we moved at on Tuesday, seems pretty reasonable, especially with the two iffy ones out of the way (Sarth+Drake and repeat Malygos kill).

That is all.

The Old Kingdom

Heroic Ank'anhet, or something.

The place is pretty cool, as are most of the new dungeons.

However, there's one boss who casts Insanity on your 5-person group.

You go mental and each of you phases into your own version of the fight.

You each have to fight 4 "shade" copies of your teammates. Its you versus your four teammates, and you have to kill all 4 to return back to battle to kill off the boss.

It was simply embarrassing.

I couldn't even DENT the 4-person Arena team that was spanking me.

Not even a dent.

We tried maybe 5 times.

I had to fight a Prot Warrior, Elemental Shaman, a [something] Warlock, and a Resto Druid.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

At best, I think I got one of the players down to 75%.

What's the deal?

Freeze the healer. Sick my pet on the Shammy, try to wing clip the warrior, and lay the smack on the Warlock.

Freeze the Shammy, pet on Warrior, LoS the warlock, and shoot at the Druid.

On and on.

Just nothing.

It was a mini-nightmare.

Thankfully, the rest of my team didn't suck, so in the final attempt they all killed their 4 shades and went on to kill the boss, and then get a whole bunch of achievements for killing the rest of the bosses in strange and unusual ways.

I really don't get it?

I suppose my toon is pretty exclusively built around continuous, steady, me-love-you-long-time DPS, rather than bursty, interrupty, twitchy, crowd controlly stuff?

Pretty embarrassing, especially with the GM playing on his non-raiding alt killing me with no fuss.

Well, at least I have my WWS reports to cling to. Princess Vespa is consistently doing 2k DPS in 25-person raids, and posted 2.2k on the Faerlina fight earlier that night.

Seems that the new ring, chest, enchant, shoulders, inscription, arcanum, belt buckle, trinket, and three gems I got before the raid made a difference.

So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Whoever Designed Hit Rating Is A Madman

It really is silly how much Hit rating complicates gear upgrades for Hunters.

Its the one stat that is uncompromising.

It is the one stat that has very little wiggle room when discussing balance and a well rounded toon.

For a Hunter under the hit cap, its the single most important stat we've got.

Some may debate that as you get very close to the Hit cap, other stats will give you a bigger DPS boost point-for-point, while others claim that missing even a single shot is unacceptable since you can't control which shot will miss, and Murphy's Law guarantees that the one shot you do miss will be the Tranq shot that would have saved the raid from a wipe.

Regardless of which camp you're in, I think we all can agree that understanding and gearing around Hit Rating is important.

Spent Tuesday night prior to the raid gemming and enchanting a few pieces of gear. Solid upgrades over the gear they replaced, however there was a dramatic drop off in Hit Rating.

Got that all squared away, reached 1 point above what I'm considering to be my Hit Cap, and didn't miss a single shot during the raid.

Was happily granted two epic upgrades during the raid. Neither of which have any +hit, and both of which replace items that're chock full of +hit.

So its back to square one.

What follows is a recap of my specific experience trying to keep my specific gear and my specific talents of my specific toon at the hit cap as my gear changes. It's some pretty specific details pertaining to my specific situation, so if that bores you, maybe I'll write up another quickies post you can skip to :-P

Lets explore some of the factors

1) 9% or 8% ? - When WotLK came out, people thought that a level 80 toon had a 9% chance to miss against a level 83 boss mob. Now, some people think its 8%. Lots of "im-right-ur-wrong-l2p" argument ensues, which is fun to watch.

2) 8% - Amava officially recognizes the chance to miss as 8%. I've geared around an 8% chance to miss for 4 raids now, and haven't missed a shot yet. That doesn't mean its definitive, because that random 1% might be hiding in there somewhere, but I'm sticking to an 8% number.

3) Here kitty kitty kitty - Here's where it gets tricky. Your pet benefits from your hit rating now. Yay, we can help our pets miss less, and up their DPS. However, your pet gets the benefit in WHOLE NUMBER INCREMENTS, ROUNDING DOWN. That is to say, if you gear yourself so you'll be at 7.99%, your pet will be at 7%.

4) America's Got Talent - Verah low in the MM tree is Focused Aim which looks excellent in that each point reduces the chance to miss by 1%. However, your pet doesn't receive any of the benefit. For Beast Masters, this is probably not a good investment of points, but for the other trees that're less focused on the Pet, they might benefit from replacing some hit gems with AP gems and take some Focused Aim and come out ahead.

5) Glyphy - The old Cenarion Expedition helm Arcanum provided a little extra hit. The new Ebon Blade one gives crit. Means you've got to find a little bit of hit elsewhere, which I discovered an hour before the raid :-(

6) Gems - There's a bunch of gems with +hit. Some are pure +hit for when you need a lot, and others are hybrids that allow you to balance between hit and whatever other core stat you need more of.

7) Enchants - There's a variety of +hit enchants available. The best one provides +hit and +crit to your melee weapon, but has material requirements worth roughly 1,000g. Some of the other +hit enchants are more affordable.

8) Is there a +hit scope? I don't know, and I think I don't care. +40 crit on the Heartseeker is just too juicy.

9) Draeni - Having a space goat in your party (raid? or party?) reduces your chance to miss by 1%. This is cool, but I have trouble gearing around it because you never know when your goat will be at the vet, or when you'll be pugging with no goats. Or, like Durgan, maybe you play Horde.

Putting this in practice

Tuesday's raid showered me with shiny, allowing me to replace my week-old Eaglebane Bracers and one of my Fangs of Truth.

That's a total of 67 hit rating. I was riding 2 points over the 8% hit cap, so I need to make up minimum of 65 hit rating before Thursday's raid.

What's a Night Elf man-chick to do?

1) Yellow Sockets - First place I always start when fiddling with hit is Gems.

Looking at my yellow sockets, I've got got two yellows that currently have gems with no hit. So if I replace those two with +16 hitters, I gain 32 of the hit. These puppies are selling for about 150g on my server in plentiful quantity. The raw gems are a little bit cheeper, so I might buy those and find a cutter, but time is money and it might just be easier to blow a couple hundred gold and get the finished product.

I've also got a yellow socket with a hybrid +agi/+hit gem which can be replaced for an additional +8 hit, bringing the total of 40 hit out of a goal of 65.

Price tag for the three gems: 450g

2) Blue Sockets - As a Hunter, there really is no gem that rocks my socks for blue sockets. I tend to settle on a Purple or Green that gives me a hybrid mix of stats. Examining my current one and only blue socket, I've already got a +hit/+something gem in there, so no opportunity to get more +hit here.

3) Prismatic Sockets - Does your belt have a buckle? Its a good idea for raiding as it gives you a little boost in stats and more importantly, flexibility in what stats to choose since the Prismatic socket takes any color gem.

My belt currently has a +16 hit in it, so no opportunity to get more +hit here.

4) Now the tricky part

The next logical item in the sequence would be Red Sockets. But I like the +16agi and +32ap gems so much, I'd rather explore other options before altering my red sockets.

5) Enchant Weapon - Accuracy

Well, looky what we have here. An enchant that gives +25 hit. I'm looking for +25 hit. A match made in heaven.

Yeah, not so much. Accuracy costs about 1,226 gold. Until I've got some best-in-slot weapons, I'm not going there.

6) Enchant Boots - Icewalker

This one is very nice. +12 hit and +12 crit. I'll happily replace my +16agi boots enchant with this one.

So we're up to 52 out of 65.

Price Tag: 48g

7) Enchant Gloves - Precision

+20 hit. I'm currently sporting Crusher on my gloves (+44 attack power).

I don't really like doing it, because I'm a big fan of mean...Beverly Crusher. Both the name and the bonus to stats.

But, DPS is DPS, so Beverly, my dear, you'll have to take a seat. Me and Wesley...I mean...Precision are going out on a date.

Price Tag: 236g

8) Revisit the gems

I'm only looking for 13 hit though, so the 20 from Gloves - Precision is overkill.

One option would be to NOT replace the hybrid yellow one.

That would put me at 1 point below hit capped, which would mean that my toon will likely never miss, but due to the rounding down, my pet will miss 1% more often than I'd like her to.


Spend an extra 150 gold on a gem and end up 1 point below the 8% hit cap?


Save 150 gold, but waste 7 points of hit over the 8% hit cap?

Pet missing 1% extra by me being under capped -or- me losing 8 agi by being over capped?

I'll probably just make an impulsive decision while standing at the AH, but I'm thinking that I want my pet hitting her target more than I want +8 additional agility.

Total Price Tag for Two Epic Drops

2 Yellow Gems: 300g

Enchant Boots - Icewalker: 48g

Enchant Gloves - Precision: 236g

But don't forget about the two new pieces of gear....

Enchant Bracers - Greater Assault: 584g

Enchant Weapon - Exceptional Agility: 320g

Total Price Tag: 1488g

Oye, Vey!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Amusing WotLK Quickies

WoW on my mind lately. Too wordy. Too many posts. I suppose that's what I do when I'm emotionally avoiding shopping for the holidays because (A) I dislike materialism for the sake of materialism, (B) it reminds me of how little I actually know my family and that I live so far away from, (C) again with the materialism, (D) can't we just, i dunno, sing carols and eat a ham together, basically have some quality time, and not blow money out the window on junk none of us want? A couple presents for the kids/grandkids? Rock On!! A massive pile for junk for everybody? Bleeeeaaaahhhh (see below).

So my obsession for my hobby (currently WoW) ticks up while my desire to even drive past a Walmart, Standard Generic American Suburb Shopping Mall (/shudder), small locally owned boutique, or just about anywhere else, drives deep below zero.

To lighten the mood, a couple of quickies I find Amusing in WotLK:

1) I was a bad raider the other day.... I died in the fire on the Four Horsemen. Totally lost focus and just stood there and died. I actually hope nobody wasted any mana on me, because it was entirely my fault. However, when our Death Knight turned me into a Ghoul? I started laughing so hard I blew a bubble out my nose. I sorta ran over to Blummexau, did a couple of the Ghoul abilities on him/her, and then died again. Still laughing. Then got a tissue.

2) While we're talking about Ghouls.... I just love the noise that Ghouls make when you raise them. Best example I get to hear lately is Knights of the Ebon Blade daily quest where you have to kill some Paladin-looking guys on an island in far western Icecrown, and pour a potion on the corpse to raise the Ghoul. And they make this "bleeeaahhhhhh" noise.

I can't help but make the noise IRL at the same time. I find it amusing. I'm not sure the uber gf does or not? But she usually laughs too, most likely at me making nerdy video game noises, and not at the actual WoW-generated nerdy video game noises.

3) Choo Choo.... This one takes the cake. I've always been a fan of the /train emote. Its so silly, so frivolous, exactly what I like in my recreation time.

However there's some new item available from a toy store in Dalaran. When you use it, you set up a train set on the ground, and anbody nearby goes into an uncontrollable fit of "Choo-choo" emotes. On and on and on. Apparently there's two or three people in my raid that have these, because its endless.

And its driving our Raid Leader insane. Which I can (A) empathize with because as RL I always hated that piccolo dancing thing, and (B) laugh my ass off at because he's gotten so aggravated with it that he offered $500 (Canadian) for the name of whoever is dropping the trains.

HINT TO NEW LEADERS: When you let the ppl you lead know something minor, that doesn't really affect the outcome of the mission, annoys the bejezus out of're only encouraging them to do it more!

The single best part of the train set is the one lingering Choo Choo at the end. I think its the Male Gnome, but whatever. There's one that plays right at the end, about a second after all the other choo choos are done, and its all raspy and awkward and so. frikin. funny. I cant help but laugh every time I hear it.

Even the people who say they hate the train admit that this one is funny XD

4) Lunch Lady.... A guildie of mine was leveling up cooking and I saw the Lunch Lady achievement flash on the screen. Of course, any Adam Sandler fan would have to chuckle at that one. I thought it sounded cool, so I wanted to see what I'd have to do to get it for myself. And I discovered that its for 25 cooking recipes learned, something I did back in Darkshore or maybe Ashenvale when I was a wee lil Night Elf.

But I got to thinking....why isn't the Lunch Lady achievement for a really hard number of recipes to collect.....and come with a damn title. I want to be Lunch Lady Amava.

Wait, #3 wasn't a quickie

Oh well. I fail at quickies.

Granted, none of these is as much fun as a Yoda or Mr. T or Governator impersonator in your raid, but they do bring some smiles.

Monday Night Off

Conquest, the Guild, is only officially organizing 25-person raids. It gives the team focus, lets the leaders recruit around a 25-person roster and Raid Composition, avoids the struggles of maintaining two sets of 10 people and the associated agony of managing Raid ID's.

Our official schedule has 4 nights of raiding per week, with a max of 12 hours.

But what do you do when you beat all the 25-person content in the first 7.5 hours during 3 nights?

For us, it meant Monday night off, so there's some time to catch up on a few dailies, farming some extra mats or sellable gatherables, or some heroics, or whatever of a billion and one things there are to do in the game.

Mid-way through a 4-person Heroic Nexus run, I discover they're looking to rip through 10-man Malygos and Sartharion.

Lets give it a whirl.

Malygos, the Normal Mode

All of the players present have beaten Malygos-25, so the mechanics of the fight are well understood. He just hits less hard in Normal, has fewer adds during Phase 2, only targets one player at a time during Phase 3, and generally has less health. But the mechanics are unchanged between modes.

All 10 players are solid performers. Hell, the whole guild is solid performers. Two tanks, Two Healers, Six DPS. No Nonsense.

Not a one shot, but we did make quick work of Malygos-10, for a fun little achievement.

On to Obsidian Sanctum

Then Sartharion.

Sarth has 3 Drakes in his Sanctum. They're trash mini-bosses.

You have the option of killing them before you engage Sartharion. Or you can leave one, two, or all three up. And if you choose to leave any up, you need to carefully select which ones to keep alive, because they each have different capabilities.

The challenge becomes exponentially more difficult as you keep another Drake alive. And more-so in Normal mode, since you have fewer options for toons to give special duties to.

Blizzard has done a pretty cool job of giving raids options for difficulty settings. Sure, Nihilum (or whatever the current name is) cleared OS in the first day of the Expansion. But did they do it with three drakes up? In both 10 and 25? I'm not taking a shot at them, I'm just saying that once you've beaten everything, there's still new and original things to do. /golf clap for Blizzard.

So with the 10 of us, we took our first attempt at 1 Drake up, Vesperon.

And got our asses kicked. Its a little unclear how to handle the encounter, and the literature out there is very limited. Seems that most folks who have completed the "Drakes Up" variations are staying tight lipped. Which is cool as hell, because it means we have to get creative and not just copy technique we see in a youtube vid.

We actually came damn near to killing him before 3 of the players had to leave.

What to do? Find 3 players?

What fun is that? We didn't have guildies on to fill the team out, and why pug it?

So the 7 of us killed off Vesperon and then killed Sartharion in a Zero Drakes setting.

The fight took 12 minutes with 2 tanks, 2 healers, and 3 dps, which is funny as hell, and had us all fiddling with mana issues like never before.

In 25's, you get substantial mana regen from all the buffs and replenishment effects. In a 7-person raid, you get nearly none.

But we one shot Sarth with 7 people, which was pretty fun.

One thing that is nice about the kill is that we illustrated that we could, if necessary, take three people, and assign them exclusively to managing one of the Drakes. That might not be enough, and lots of strategy planning and trial and error are going to be needed, but it is nice to know some of the boundaries.

Tuesday night will be our first 25-person attempt at 1 Drake up.

Continuing the Improvement Plan

[edit] You'll see mention of 3.0.8 patch in the article. At the time of the writing, I was of the impression that 3.0.8 was being released to live servers tuesday. I was wrong. Read on....

See, I'm trying to keep the titles somewhat consistent for the Improvement Plan posts, in case you hate them, you can skip them. They're long, they're dry-ish, and they have a nice unhealthy sprinkling of ego stroking.

But I like to write them (A) to help organize my own thoughts, and (B) maybe someone else out there is trying to improve their own toon, and they just might glean something productive out of my experience.

Standard format: review previous 5 steps, throw in some stuff that happened outside of the plan, assess the results, write up the new top 5 steps.

Review Previous Five Steps

1) Hodirs: Continue doing this daily. Only missed a single quest a single day so far. And that was because the server crashed half way through my 6th attempt for the day at the Grip the Dragon, Stab the Dragon quest. Dinged Revered over the weekend which opens up one additional quest. Read up about Everfrost Chips. Searched high and low for a long time. Found a grand total of ZERO chips. I am no longer searching for chips.

2) Shoulders: Over the weekend, I replaced my T5 with a pair of blue leather shoulders that dropped in Heroic [something]. Reasonable stats and no longer look like I'm clinging to the good old days. There are definitely upgrades I'm still looking for, but this new pair is milk chocolate with a creamy +hit center.

3) Legs: During the last update, I wrote "Maybe RNG will smile upon me Thursday night." and did she ever! Beautiful pair of Leggings of Failed Escape. T5 is now on the shelf, and I've had to re-learn my love for Mend Pet.

4) Aces High! To practice for Malygos Phase 3, I've been doing this quest every day. It is a frustrating quest, due in large part to the cludgey interface, sloppy game mechanics, and overall bugginess. But, practice makes perfect, so to speak. To quote our DPS Officer "Amava rocked the DoT's during Phase 3" in response to my output during P3 for our guild-first 25-person and 10-person Malygos kills.

5) Knights of the Ebon Blade: Doing the 6 dailies pretty much every day. For some reason, I have massive math block regarding calculating determining if tuesday's set of dailies will ding me revered or not. It really is strange, its like this massive black hole in my brain. You'd think X + Y = Z would be pretty simple for a guy who likes calculus and differential equations and infinite set theories, AND who also is reasonably well versed in spreadsheets (lol). But its a brain fart that's stopping me from figuring this out.

Its as if there's a secret directive programmed into my brain like Robo Cop had, preventing me from the simple calculation. Either way, I'll know tuesday night when I finish the dailies. If revered, I get new Helm Arcanum and a pair of blue shoulders that're a DPS upgrade.

Oh, and I now wear the Ebon Blade tabard in Heroics.

Some stuff that happened outside of the plan

1) Argent Crusade: While technically not part of the documented previous 5 steps, AC rep was always on my backburner. It came to the front burner Monday night and I became possessesd with exalted. PuG'ed my way through Heroic Halls of Stone, which was a little bit tough, but fun, despite the Royal D0uch3 Bag of a death knight, followed by a 4-man run of Heroic Nexus once the tank booted His Royal Highness. But I digress. With Exalted AC comes a very nice Hunter chest piece, the Polished Regimental Hauberk.

2) Mirror of Truth: This is an outstanding epic trinket available for 40 or so Emblems of Heroism. Happily replaced one of my last remaining Northrend greenies with this puppy.

3) Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak: Available for Emblems of Valor out of 25-person raids. Wonderbar! This is a fantastic cloak that I highly recommend if you have access to dead 25-person bosses.

4) Belt: I wrote about this guy yesterday, but for the sake of completeness, the Depraved Linked Belt landed around my waist via a circuitous path. Still need to get a belt buckle and gem for this little baby. According to Max DPS, this is the best-in-slot item for a Beast Master, so me likey.

Assess the Results

I'll not bother with the epeen'ery and what not. Suffice it to say, the nerf is presumably incoming with tuesday's patch 3.0.8, and I totally understand why. Mass Quantities of Sustained Ranged DPS. MQoSRDPS. The M should be changed to an I for Insane.

During 25's (and the couple 10's that slipped in there), its all about pumping out ludicrous damage, and the Improvement Plan makes it ludicrouser and ludicrouser with each passing day.

I really hope we get a shot at Patchwerk (the perfect pew pew benchmark boss) tuesday night so I can see the impact of the patch. Maybe that's why they call him Patchwerk? Test out how the Patch Werked? lol.

The New 5 Steps

I'm only partially overlapping the action item steps I listed in the previous post. Some of the items are simply tasks I need to do tonight (aka, enchant the chest and fill empty gem slots) and others are sort of upgrade paths (aka, get a new ring crafted to replace an old one).

1) Sons of Hodir: Exalted cannot come soon enough. The Horde gankfest, the Alliance ninjas who refuse to accept invites, the low drop rates, the buggy grippy/stabby quest. Just make it go away, please. And the biggest joke is that by the time I'm exalted, they're going to let you turn in Ulduar thingies for rep. What a slap in the face!

2) Revisit the Gear Wishlist: I created the first revision of my formal Gear Wishlist over Thanksgiving weekend. Along the way, I've done some small maintenance, but things have been changing so fast, I need to revisit the whole list. I recently started playing with Its a fantastic source for creating an upgrade path, so I'll need to examine where I need to go for each item slot.

3) If you like it then you should'a put a ring on it: One of my rings is a Northrend greenie, and is ripe for the replacing. My initial view of showed me the nice Titanium Impact Band as an easily accessible JC crafted upgrade option.

4) Learn about Darkmoon cards: I've never really explored getting a Darkmoon Cards piece of gear, other than idly collecting most of the Furies deck, but never following through and ended up selling the cards for a nice profit. MaxDPS shows that Darkmoon Card: Greatness is one of the best trinkets in the game right now, so I'll have to take a look.

5) Knights of the Ebon Blade: This one might be "done" on tuesday night, depending on if the dailies yield me enough to ding revered. Or if they bring me close, maybe grab a tank and a healer and just kill 15 or 20 trash mobs in any old heroic before the raid. I want the new Arcanum of Torrent, and also the shoulder pads they've got.

Stop the Insanity: Pre-Raid To-Do List

Not a chance that I'll ever stop the insanity, unless I go the pharmaceutical route, but I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Here's the sort of stuff that burns in my brain continuously, and flows out through my fingers during lunch break, gets emailed home at the end of the day, and gets posted (usually) to the blog the following morning....

Stuff to do tonight before the raid:

1) Water the christmas tree. It chain-drinks water like I used to chain chug Fel Mana pots.
2) Knights of Ebon Blade quests, perhaps ding revered. My brain is fried on math and cant tell if 250x6 is enough to get me to revered.
3) Shoulders from Ebon Blade if revered
4) Helm Arcanum from Ebon Blade if revered
5) Check AH mule for gems and mats (see below)
6) Visit Shatt or Hodirs for Shoulder Inscription
7) Do the shoulders from Ebon Blade have a socket? Uggy!
8) Get new chest enchanted with +8 stats. +10 will wait for a better item (4 frikin abyss crystals, my ass)
9) Get Titanium Impact Band crafted
10) Update Outfitter with all this new sht

Mats to procure (AH or in mule's bank):
1) Mats for +8 enchant to chest.
2) Yellow gem (+crit) for chest
3) Replace green gem in legs because new chest puts you over hit cap (I think its a blue socket)
4) Mats for belt buckle
5) Gem for belt - likely +32 AP
6) Mats for Titanium Impact Band

Oye, vey!

We'll see how much time I have. The titanium ring might have to wait. And if I don't ding revered with Ebon Blade, I won't have to do nearly any of this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holding your pants up with style

How do you hold up your pants?

Do you wear suspenders? Nah, the buckles set the airport metal detectors off resulting in embarrassing wand searches by a guy who's overly suspicious of the buckles that are setting off his wand awkwardly close to your nipples.

Do you wear bracers? Aren't those wrist armor? Well, that too, but bracers are also fancy suspenders that attach to buttons on the pants rather than little clips like suspenders.

No, if you play WoW, you equip a belt to hold up your pants and increase your stats.

Amava recently got a beautiful new belt out of Naxx-25, that took a rather unorthodox route to her svelte Night Elf waist line.

We're fighting the poison cloud farting guy. We kill him.

Usual routine would be for general silence while the Loot Master links out the first item, the members indicate their preference, the Loot Council makes a decision, and the Loot Master hands out the shiny.

Well, not this time. Nearly immediately upon the farting boss death, all of a sudden, vent is alive with excited cries of "who's kiting, who's kiting!!!!" and a few other very excited chattery remarks.

A casual listener would have thought that we were already in combat again. A casual listener would think that we had zero discipline during looting. A casual listener would...well, you get the idea.

Of course, the first item linked out is a sweet sweet belt for Hunters, the Depraved Linked Belt. Brass says pass, Amava says interested, and the third hunter (for whom I'm still looking for a nickname, but until inspiration hits me, will go unnamed) abstains.

In this situation, the Loot Council might flat out reward it to the player who said "interested" since he/she is the only one. The Council might give a brief review, since it might be some strange political situation where the passer would get massive upgrade while the interested player is only getting a tiny benefit. But generally, unopposed "interesteds" get the loot without further thought.

So, while this is going on, there's the excited vent chatter.

Badda bing, badda boom, you see in raid chat....Brass receives [fancy belt tha Brass passed and Amava interested]


Ok, Brass is a really cool person and a great teammate, always very generous and fun to raid with. I can live with the decision, no sweat. A little fishy though.

As it would turn out though, Brass thinks its a miss-loot, and they intended to loot to Amava, but accidentally looted to him. If true, its an easy enough mistake, since looting is done by right clicking and then choosing between two players who are adjacent to eachother in the looting interface.

So, Brass opens a ticket with Blizzard.

A few days go by.

A GM contacts Brass to confirm details.

A few hours go by.

A GM contacts Amava to confirm details.

An hour goes by.

Amava has sweet sweet new belt in her inbox, attached to a lengthy letter saying that Blizz is happy to help out, but don't think that they'll help out again so be more careful in the future.

Outstanding. Never seen something like this in action. Didn't even know it was an option.

Thank you Brass, and thank you Blizz.

I still haven't found out from the Loot Council whether it was a mis-loot or if the item was indeed intended for the other guy.

When is the right time for change?

Immediately following our first Malygos-25 kill, the Officers made two separate but related announcements:

  1. We've proven we have sufficient gear to clear all Heroic content currently available (except for improving for achievements, and doing Sartharion with more than zero drakes up). Loot Council will now push towards rewarding raider behavior over gearing up underperformers.

  2. Shoulder Inscription and Head Arcanum will be inspected and are expected.

To summarize my initial reaction, a quote from the absolutely fabulous Mr. Wolf of Pulp Fiction fame...

Let's not start [blanking] each other's [blanks] just yet.

The content of the message is spot on. Addressing under-performance and rewarding attention to detail is the right thing for a raiding guild.

The timing of the message is premature. Fresh off of our first kill is not the time to alter our approach, strategy, or policy.

Not premature by too much, perhaps only 2 or 3 weeks, but untimely nonetheless.

The Right Message, The Wrong Time

Celebrating success is one thing. Becoming complacent is another thing. Resting on laurels is yet another.

Making changes to continue future success is the right move.

Sure, we cleared all available Heroic raid content in three nights, totaling roughly 7.5 hours of actual raiding. Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, Archavon, and Malygos. Good job by us!

That said, there is considerable room for improvement. We can do it faster. We can have fewer incidental deaths. We can eliminate the occasional wipe. We can hone our team cohesion in preparation for new raid content, whenever that gets released.

Improvement is good. But is a few hours following the first full clear it the right time to announce changes?

[disclaimer] Although its impossible to be 100% objective in these matters, the following analysis comes out of consideration for the overall raid, and not my own personal situation. Strangely enough, I think the new concepts actually have my toon come out a little better than before the announcements, so the position I present here is from the perspective of the Guild, not the raider formerly called Amava. [/disclaimer]

Let's Explore: Changing Loot Policy

So we now know that the raid has the collective stats to get the job done. At the 80,000 foot level, we could never get another loot drop again, and we'd continue to clear the dungeons. And through increased familiarity with the encounter and our teammates, we'd actually clear the dungeons faster and with fewer deaths, etc. Without a single piece of additional gear to the team.

Until new content is released, gear will only widen our margin for error, allowing sloppier play to result in the same number of boss kills.

That said, we all know that loot will continue to be important. Nobody is fully kitted out in "best-in-slot" gear. Only a few players even have a single "best-in-slot" item right now. Even if not "best-in-slot" there's tons of upgrades out there to be had.

Moving the looting policy towards rewarding raider behavior over leveling the gear playing field is premature. We need more time to determine what is causing a differential in the contributions of each individual player.

Confronting under-performance is tricky. Lets look at DPS only, because that's my comfort zone and its also relatively straight forward to measure.

  • Are your numbers low because your gear is inadequate?

  • Are your numbers low because you are slow at targeting (spam /assist [MA], ftw)?

  • Are your numbers low because you remember how threat capped we were in TBC and so you throttle your output?

  • Is your spec wacky?

  • Are your glyphs good choices?

  • Attack rotation sloppy with lots of wasted global cooldowns?

  • Is your gear A+ but your enchants C-?

  • Is your DPS low because you're dead 80% of the time?

On the flip side, maybe your DPS is high simply because you play a totally OP class/spec and you just drink beer and roll your face on the keyboard to top the meters? We don't know anybody like that, do we?

The players need a few more weeks of farming Naxx/OS/Archavon, and hopefully repeating the Malygos kill and then farming his @ss.

Let's Explore: Inscription and Arcanum

When improving your toon, there is a massive spectrum of details to consider. That's a big part of the first M in MMO.

Followers of this blog get an inside view to the improvement plan I've been following. Hopefully every level-capped toon has some sort of plan, regardless of how formal or how detailed. Might be as simple as "I like PVP, I want [item X], so I'll run 10 AV's for honor and 30 WSG's for marks to get it" or "I like fishing and want to get the Dalaran coins achievement", or might be like my plan, or maybe even more detailed and thorough. Takes all kinds.

For my plan, I've got a specific goal in mind (improve my DPS in a 25-person raid environment) and I've narrowed down the massive spectrum of options out there to a specific 5 steps that I focus on, and continuously update as my situation changes.

The items that make it to the short list are chosen based upon a variety of criteria: Benefit vs. Effort, Dependence on the Random Number Generator, Availability of Adequate Substitutes, etc.

The top five items provide the most efficient upgrades to my toon given the time I have to put in.

When leading a guild or raid, you want to have raiders who proactively and independently manage their own performance.

Do you want to micro manage?

Lets take a look at one item in my improvement plan....

Argent Crusade offers an outstanding Hunter DPS chest piece at Exalted. I have not been fortunate enough to get a chest piece out of any of our raids. So I wear the AC tabard in all Heroics I run, leaving me 1.5 heroic runs away from Exalted as of Sunday evening.

When the officers announced they are looking for Arcanum, its mentioned that a handful of Heroic 5-man dungeons serving as Champion for your Arcanum faction can get you to Revered.


Again, as of Sunday evening, I am also 1.5 heroic runs away from Revered with Knights of the Ebon Blade who offer Arcanum of Torrent.

AC Chest offers me a bigger upgrade than the Arcanum.

To provide maximum improvement value to my toon and my raid, assuming I only have time for 2 heroics between now and when the Officers check raiders for the Arcanum, I will be wearing the Exalted chest, and still be sporting the Cenarion Expedition helm Arcanum.

So, in a black and white report spit out of some addon, I will have failed in the eyes of whoever is running the check.

Did I spend my time wisely in pursuing my personal improvement plan? Or should I halt my personal plan and pursue the Officers' plan which will result in less of a benefit to the raid given equal time put in?

As an aside, for me personally, it may be moot, because perhaps by thursday's raid, and definitely by saturday's, I will have both the chest and the arcanum, due to AC Heroics and Ebon Blade daily quests, but its the overall guild and not just me as an individual we're considering here. Additionally, I dinged Revered with Sons of Hodir this weekend, so am well on the way to getting the fully fancy Shoulder Inscription.

Bottom Line

When is the right time for change?

I'm a big fan of tweaking things when you're on top, and not wait for things to degrade before implementing new policies.

But there is more to consider than simply a first boss kill or a specific micro-managed gear enhancement viewed in a vacuum without looking at an entire toon.

Tips for DPS'ing Heroic Malygos

See, I can write a title like that, because on saturday night, one month after the release of WotLK, our second night working on Heroic Malygos, we killed that stinkin dragon! Not even close to world, server, or whatever first. But its our first and it feels pretty cool.

Its a sweet fight, and being the only one that really gave us any trouble, a sweet kill.

A Hunter who's seen way way more TBC raid content than I ever did said this is the most fun fight he's seen, perhaps second only to Kil'Jaeden, the final boss in Sunwell Plateau, which gives a little perspective on the coolness factor.

WWS all wonky

Normally we like to use WWS to epeen analyze our performance. WWS looks all f'ed up for this fight. I think the kill is listed as two separate attempts, with only 6 of our players even showing up in the log for the killing attempt.

So no WWS results, no ego boosting screen shot to share. But, just between you and me, for the killing attempt, Recount showed somebody we all know and love (and are all getting a big sick of hearing about his leet dps skillz) up on top. Boo-ya!

All preening and stroking aside, here's some concrete things that will help Hunters DPS'ing on Heroic Malygos.

Note that the Malygos fight is three distinct phases. Phase 1 and 2 involve doing DPS pretty normally like you would do in any fight, and Phase 3 involves discarding all your normal stuff and using the abilities of a stupid dragon vehicle.

Quickie Linkie

In case you're only interested in Phase 3, jump there. Its the most unorthodox phase, and might have you wondering more than the first two.
  1. DPS during Phase 1

  2. DPS during Phase 2

  3. DPS during Phase 3 - stupid dragon vehicle

DPS during Phase 1

Phase 1 is normal pew pew against a single target. Granted, that single target is one massive dragon with one massive hit box.

As a Hunter, I find his hit box to be annoying, as I have to back up further than is intuitive based on where your arrows are striking. Your arrows appear to aim for his face, and If you stand behind him (which you better because his frontal cone breath is lethal) that impact point looks like it is 30 yards away from you. But you might still be too close to shoot. So back up a step.

Power Sparks are your friend. Effective management of the sparks requires good coordination by the whole raid. Assigned players need to ensure that the sparks die on top of eachother. The rest of the DPS needs to then ensure that they're always standing on a dead spark for a 50% damage boost.

In our killing attempt, we were consistently standing on two sparks, and had a brief span with three sparks, stacking an additional 50% for each spark which was just a wonderful job by the spark handling guys.

Watch your buffs. You might think there are two sparks stacked, but maybe you're only standing in one of them. You really can't tell from the visual effect on the ground, you have to examine your buffs to see the additional one or two sparks.

Don't be too conservative, but you might want to save some of your cooldowns for when sparks are stacked the most. You won't get to two or three sparks until a little later in the fight, so pay attention during learning attempts to get a feel for when your spark handlers generally get the most stacks up.

During the killing attempt, the brief period of 3x Power Spark plus Bestial Wrath, Rapid Fire, and my Attack Power was one of the coolest things I've seen in the game.

Pet Management during Phase 1

As I've mentioned in the past...recall your pet after each and every Vortex. Pets definitely bug out on the encounter.

Also, during the normal pew pew part of phase 1, look at your pet from time to time. If she's somehow migrated towards the front, recall and then reattack to get her in back.

Pay attention to power spark location. You might squeeze out a little more damage if you recall your pet and have her reattack if there is a spark directly behind the boss. However, if she's not dangerously near the frontal cone, but she is off to the side and standing in a spark, try to leave here there if you can because those sparks are awesome.

DPS during Phase 2

Ok, so phase 2 is a blur. During learning attempts, I was a fail hunter and died more often than I'd like during this phase. But I did get the hang of it, so I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

For this phase, Malygos himself cant be fired upon, and you are fighting a bunch of adds. Some adds are on the ground. Some adds are on hover discs in the air.

Throughout the phase, massive damage is being rained down from the sky, and you have to position yourself under randomly located protective shells.

Maybe my repair bill will save you some grief....

1) Survive - you do no dps when you're a spectator. Our raid had a single person calling out when to move from one shield to the next. This was massively helpful as I could focus more attention on dealing damage, and less (but not zero) attention on shields and mobility. Make sure you are under a shield at all times, other than when your coordinator indicates that you should move. Also, thank your healers again and again because they'll save your ass during this phase.

2) Focus Fire - the raid needs to have a Main Assist. Brass serves as our MA, so my macro /assist Brass gets spammed continuously during P2. The MA should focus first on the ground guys (Lords) and then on the flying guys (Scions). Make sure you allow your tanks sufficient time to pick up all the Lords when the phase begins (/fail when I pulled aggro instantly during a learning attempt and got oneshot for 25k damage)

3) Take your time - when first attempting this encounter, I had a royally difficult time targeting the Scions that fly around in P2. Well, to be correct, I could target them just fine with my assist macro, but I couldnt figure out which direction to point my toon so I could fire at them. Its a really visually complex environment with lots of very nasty, very neon colored stuff happening all at the same time.

My problem was that I wanted to get into my shot rotation too quickly and wasn't taking a heartbeat to actually look around and find my target. To locate the current DPS target, I found the following things to be helpful:

Main Assist - our MA is a hunter. He picks a target that he's typically aimed at and firing upon. Look for his arrows or bullets tracing a path through the sky.

Mind Flay - that's right, if you've got a Shadow Priest pointed in the right direction, flay will show you the way.

Steady Shot - once you actually find the target, casting Steady Shot will automatically rotate your toon as the Scion moves through the air. Great for maintaining aim once you lock on to the target.

4) Survive - I can't express how frustrating it was watching this phase of the fight on the attempts where I was a dead hunter.

DPS during Phase 3

Once P2 is done, the floor disintegrates and you fall really far and land onto a saddle on a flying dragon. That landing must really hurt, if you think about it. But I digress.

Some things that really helped me during P3:

1) Aces High! - Yes, it is a really annoying daily quest. And the rotation you do during the quest is a little different than the rotation you do during the raid. In the quest you have to heal yourself and also dps. In the raid, you'll either heal -or- dps. But the daily quest does give you a feel for movement on the dragon, a feel for the basics of the attacks, and also a good feel for shielding from his burst effect. Fight through the pain and do the daily.

2) 1-1-2 - For DPS during P3, our raid used a 1-1-2 rotation. Gain two combo points via the attack mapped to stupid dragon vehicle action button one, and then hit action button two to do the finishing move and start the DoT. Always, hit #1 twice to build up combo points. Wait for energy. Then hit #2. No matter how much movement or shielding you end up doing, make sure to keep doing this again and again. Every time you convert combo points, you get another stack on your DoT. By the end of the fight we had a couple of raiders with upwards of 20 stacks. 1-1-2. 1-1-2. Say it with me. 1-1-2.

3) Look at your Mini-Map - During early attempts, I totally ignored my mini-map. During the killing attempt, my eyes were 50% on my dragon/battle view, and 50% on my mini-map. Visually, the battle field is totally disorienting and there are no reference points. Keep glancing at your mini-map.

4) Move out of the fire - When a static field shows up, get out of it. /duh. Pre-coordinate your movements. We planned on keeping the raid stacked on top of eachother. Looking at the mini-map, we started the fight all at the directly south (6 o'clock) position of the mini-map. When a static ball hit us, the coordinator (and ONLY the coordinator) instructed the raid to move. Each time he says "move", you move 90 degrees counterclockwise.

If you look at your battle field while moving, you get vertigo and probably die. If you look at your minimap while moving, you successfully get into position and resume attack.

5) Shield - You gotta pop your #5 command to shield when you get targeted with Arcane Surge. If you are doing 1-1-2 rotation, you should nearly always have 2 combo points up, just waiting for enough energy to fire #2. When DBM indicates you are targeted, wait for Malygos's cast bar to complete and the spell is just about to start channeling. If you shield too early, you die.

Note: Because of this fight, I uninstalled BigWigs and installed DBM. BigWigs was not working for me on this fight and DBM was totally correct and easy to understand.

6) 1-1-2 - You will be moving. You will be shielding. By only using 1-1-2 instead of the Wiki-recommended 1-1-1-1-1-2 rotation, you will not have a large amount of time to waste when moving or shielding before reapplying your DoT.

Do not let your DoT expire. By the end of the fight, the difference between most players having 15 stacks of DoT versus having 3 or 4 stacks of DoT is just ridiculous. This is a DPS race and the bigger your stacks of DoTs, the better your chance is. Aces High will only let you practice getting stacks up to about 4 or maybe 5. I've seen stacks as big as 27 during Phase 3.

Still reading?

What's next?

With the kill, Conquest has successfully downed all available 25-person raid bosses.

The next move is obviously to keep farming the current content, but also to work on Obsidian Sanctum. Sartharion has three drakes that we've been killing before initiating the boss event. It gets progressively harder as you keep one or more drakes alive. This week's OS run will feature at least one, perhaps two drakes up, which should be an interesting twist on a now familiar encounter.

Additionally, keep pushing for a variety of achievements and other tweaks here and there to improve clear-time, eliminate wipes, and reduce individual deaths.

Any idea when the next raids will be released?

Amava Doesn't Go a'Raiding

So my intent was to start with my Alchemy products post. And then build an Enchants post (half way done). Then build a misc post (shoulders, head, ammo, quivers, random schtuffy schtuff).

But, I'm slow and sloppy, and Lassirra at The Hunter's Mark put together to perfectly succinct posts way faster and way better than I would have.

So feast your eyes on:

Links are available on the side-bar in the new Reference section for those of us (me) who like to come here when shopping before a raid.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yet Another Update to the Improvement Plan

So, using our traditional format, lets examine the current 5 items on the plan:

1) Hodir. Still agonizing my way through this one. Jaded as hell. I dread the flight from Dalaran to Dunder Nifflem. The only saving grace is the K3 land mine quest on the way. However, alliance players doing the quest who decline group invitation and then, horror of horrors, put their land mines in front of mine to deliberately tag a mob that'll then get finished off my my mines? Die a firey death. I remain committed to completing these dailies as often as possible. I also learned about something called Everfrost Chips that can speed up the process. Must find out more.

2) Knights of the Ebon Blade. Haven't really done anything here. This one is here to fill the gap if I find myself with spare time, which I have not found. Rep level with these guys is probably exactly where it was when I last reported in.

3) Shoulders. Still sporting T5. Still hating T5. Saw sweet sweet shoulders drop in Naxx-25, but passed since I already got T7.5 gloves that night. Debating picking up the Kirin Tor shoulders at Honored. They're the entry-level PvP shoulders, but they still represent an upgrade in every category for me besides a smidge of hit. I'm only friendly though, so lets cross fingers for some RNG and Loot Council lovin Thursday or Saturday.

4) Wrists. Vindicators out, Eaglebane in. I was actually gathering the mats for the epic Giantmaim set, when I saw a WoW Head comment indicating that Eaglebane is probably better. Looked them over, and I'm a big fan. Even bigger fan of the 65g pricetag on the AH which is peanuts for the level of upgrade they represented. Obviously, I've got a few upgrade wrist options on my 25-person wishlist, however this is no longer a driver for my Improvement Plan.

5) Cooldown Timer. I haven't really visited this one yet. Looked over some options on Curse, not overly happy with any of them. I suppose I'll just have to take the plunge and try one out. Or take this one off the damn list :-)

I showed the results in a nice fancy epeen post complete with visual aids. Granted, those results are only indicative of progress, and won't always be repeatable. That run had me with an above-expected number of crits, especially for Princess Vespa. But it does illustrate that the few changes made between raids did move things in the right direction.

Coming out of that OS-25 run, Loot Council gave me the token for the Valorous Cryptstalker's Gauntlets, which they tell me is the T7.5 gloves. Lots of people are poo-poo'ing on the Hunter T7 stuff, but I'm a big fan of these. They represent a big jump over the blue heroic drops I was wearing. Throw in a +hit gem and a Crusher +44AP enchant. BTW: Mats for Crusher cost about 350g which sucks just a bit. I'm not cryin about gold, but I'm just sayin.

Also got a very solid reward for doing the lead-in to the Aces High! quest. Nice big chunk of +hit and well rounded other stats. Lacks a gem which is weak, but whatever. Need to get a +8 stats on it before Thursday's raid.

Very excited to try out the new gloves and chest in the second half of Naxx on Thursday night.

The new pieces of the plan.

1) Curse of the Hodir. They're not going anywhere off my list until Exalted. Everfrost Chips need some investigation.

2) Shoulders. Must rid myself of level 70 gear. One attainable option is Kirin Tor pvp shoulders. Need to revisit the loot list for additional options.

3) Legs. Still sporting T5 legs. I did throw one of the fancy new Icy +75AP leg armors on here, but still, their time is up. Maybe RNG will smile upon me Thursday night. Or else I've got to revisit my heroic drop list and start hittin the 5-mans. Or maybe look over a Leatherworking list and see if they've got anything reasonable.

4) Aces High! - This is part of improvement, just not the traditional pew pew improvement. Do this piece of sht daily to ensure you're ready for Malygos Phase 3.

5) Knights of the Ebon Blade. Although progress is not really occurring, I don't want to lose sight of this one as the new helm Arcanum will be a nice grind to have out of the way, if time allows.