Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Karazhan - WowWebStats

Here's the raid report from WowWebStats for Sunday's Karazhan attempt(s). I'm not an expert, but I think my hunter did well with 0 misses. Does our tank need more +hit? I think most of the rest of us are okay, although I think maybe +spell hit on the mages? I'm a big noob when it comes to WWS. If only BRK would read the blog maybe he could tell me what I'm not seeing. :o)

Sissy Fight!

TenTonHammer has an article on women in raiding which as linked by WowInsider.

I'm not going to add to the furor either of these two articles has caused. Instead, I'll just state how things go in my guild.

Our raid leader, when I'm not filling in, is held by a woman. She's awesome at ensuring everyone knows their role and what to expect. In fact, all the women in our normal Karazhan raiding group (we have 3) are awesome. Most of them play with their partners and so we avoid some of the "women as sex objects" drama. Actually, we avoid it all. We're an older guild and don't buy into the sexual tension drama that can escalate. In my guild, at least, there isn't ever any question about women knowing less, being less skilled, or any of that crap. We love our raiders - man, woman, gay, straight, old, young, black, white, Asian. It's really all about how effective and efficient you can make our guild and not about any artificial labels. So, if you're a woman (or a man) and looking for that guild where the artificial labels matter, c'mon over to Alleria. Send me a whisper in game.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Great Hunter Experiment - Update

Welcome to a special feature of the blog. Weekly, for the next several weeks, we'll be doing an experiment in hunter spec. Please read on.

Honestly, not much has been done on the experiment. Which is sad because I'm going to run out of "experimental" images before we get this puppy done. I've confirmed the attendees, my only concern is Qerk as the healer. He's not playing as much these days, and if I need to rely on him I'm going to have to work around his schedule. I might have Kikidas replace with her priest as the healer in question. Which means I'd need to clear with Malignance to take the warlock spot. Also, I've had a bit of a cash flow problem this week in acquiring all the mats & pots I need to run the experiment. You may have read that I got my epic mount! Yay me.

Additionally, Qerk is away from his computer for the week, running in some silly marathon. Anyhow, the experiment will continue. Hopefully by next Thursday I'll have some more details.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All of 'em are good.

Thanks, Galadria for the post idea. She recently posted a /rant post on her blog that talked about excluding a class from a raid based on gear or spec. She went on to say it was the person on the other end of the internet that could make or break the deal.

I absolutely agree. I think good players are just good. I know there are some people that I know out there that I'd play with any of their characters. There's an understanding of the mechanics and knowing what a particular class can do that comes through when you've found one of these rare gems.

I know we all have alts. When you find a good (truly good) player, do yourself a favor and get a list of their alts. If the player is good, the build/spec/class of the character has very little to do with what you can accomplish.

Once, when my hunter was just barely 70, I got a comment from someone I played a lot with at the time. He said "It was cool to group with your hunter. You play him well - just like you do all of your characters." At the time, I took it as a compliment to myself. But after reading the above post, I'm beginning to see connections outside myself. Perhaps I'm one of those good players, whose good at lots of things.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Significant Milestone

On Sunday, my hunter plunked down 5200 gold at the place in Shadowmoon Valley and picked up this little beauty. All I can say is wow, this thing is fast.

And for once I was the one being cursed for quick mining and not the one doing the cursing.

For me, this is a fairly big milestone. Even though I had three level 60s when the expansion went live, only one (my warlock) had an epic land mount. I had just never really been able to save up that kinda of cash. Since then, of course, I've leveled four toons to 70 (the hunter was a wee level 37 at BC Go Live) and have purchased epic ground mounts and normal flying mounts for all of them. And now I have my first epic flying mount. (Astute readers will note that I said "first." I'm sure I'll get other epic fliers--probably for my other toons, but you know, a netherdrake is only some faction grinding away).

Monday, October 22, 2007

You Eye

Since I got a comment from yesterdays posting about the UI, I thought I could post on that. Here's another posting with another UI picture, this on in combat.

That said, I'll refer everyone who is interested to WoW Interface where you can search for MazzleUI. This is what it looks like. I don't really know what to say about it. I've been using it since beta testing (over a year for me now) and in the dark days when UI's break, I'm so ineffective I generally don't do anything of any consequence. The pieces of the UI that I'm most happy with in Karazhan are the respawn timers (Incubator from ACE, on the left side of the screen midway), the HUD (an integral part of the compilation), and the buttons (Bongos1 in the UI, but the cool thing is they skills & spells are placed automagically). I'm also fond of the Context Menu (that 4x4 block of buttons hovering above the maintank windows). The 3D models are also pretty cool-they pictures are animated and do semi-random emotes.

Next - A significant milestone.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

'Nuff Said?

Guild First for us. Yay!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Great Hunter Experiment - Part One

Welcome to a special feature of the blog. Weekly, for the next several weeks, we'll be doing an experiment in hunter spec. Please read on.

Lately some of my guild mates and friends have been pressing to follow BigRedKitty's advice and respec my hunter to beast master. They point out the fights that BRK & Hobbes have recorded in Karazhan with both Moroes and the Maiden of Virtue.

They (and BRK) think that beastmaster is the spec for hunters to have. I've been marksman specced since I hit 70 a few months ago. So, to appease my own curiosity about the various hunter specs, I'm willing to set up an experimental study. I could just theorycraft the solution, but I wanted to run this as an actual experiment, using to the degree possible, good scientific method.

According to the experimental version of scientific method we must do the following:

  1. Define the question
  2. Gather information and resources
  3. Form hypothesis
  4. Perform experiment and collect data
  5. Analyze data
  6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
  7. Publish results
  8. Retest
1. Define the question
The question is which is the more effective hunter build, my current marksman build or a proposed beastmaster build. There are both quantifiable and non-quantifiable measures of effectiveness. Perhaps the most easily attained measurements is damage per second for both myself and my pet. Since we expect my personal DPS to suffer from the respec but the pet's DPS to increase, the combined DPS from both hunter and pet would be the fairest measure.

There are other things I will gain with beastmaster and will lose. Most notably, my trap duration will decrease and I will lose access to both Scatter Shot and Silencing Shot. Pulling casters might be even harder.

2. Gather Information and Resources
The experiment should be constructed such that all other variables remain static except for the spec of the hunter. To this end, the group must have the same members in the same role running the same instance. The group must have access to exactly the same consumables over the runs and rebuff with missing consumables as soon as the buffs wear off.

Ideally, the group will be this:
  • Qerk, Healer. Qerk will eat Golden Fishsticks and drink Elixirs of Draenic Wisdom and Adept's Elixir. He will buff all members except Owaru with Blessing of Kings. He will buff Owaru with Blessing of Light. He will use Superior Mana Oil on his weapon.
  • Owaru, Tank. Owaru will eat Fisherman's Feast and drink Earthen Elixirs and Adept's Elixir. He will buff hunter & pet with Blessing of Might. He will buff casters with Blessing of Wisdom. He will buff himself with Blessing of Salvation. He will use Superior Mana Oil on his weapon
  • Babygorn, Mage. Baby will eat Blackened Basilisk and drink Adept's Elixir and Elixir of Draenic Wisdom. Superior Mana Oil will be used on the weapon.
  • Kikidas or Malignance, Warlock. Warlocks will eat Blackened basilisk and drink Adept's Elixir and Elixir of Draenic Wisdom. They will use Superior Mana Oil on their weapons. Imp will be primary pet unless actively crowd controlling with a Succubus.
  • Bremagorn, Hunter. I will eat Ravager Dog and drink Elixir of Greater Agility and Earthen Elixir. I will use Superior Mana Oil. Joanna will be buffed with Sporeling Snacks.
  • Joanna, Hunter Pet. Joanna will not respec for the experiment
Each participant will be supplied with one stack of each elixir, mana oil, and food. Also provided will be 10 each of Super Mana and Super Healing potions. Water will be provided by the mage.

The runs will be recorded with Wow Web Stats.

3. Form Hypothesis
The hypothesis is that there is a sustained 5% increase in DPS when moving from current build to beast master build.

4. Perform Experiment
I will begin assembling the materials for the run and contact participants. I hope to get the first "control" run done in the next couple of days and begin recording in earnest.

*Edited to incorporate Owaru's comments*

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Ready for End Game

One of my co-workers asked me to write something about "what you do between 60 and the end game." He went on to say "I've got the leveling game down, but I'm not sure what lies ahead of me."

And he does have the leveling part down. At least up to mid forties. He's got (at most recent count) 24 alts of various levels. He has also never played old-world end-game. His newbie druid was merely level 20 when Burning Crusade came out. He never had to worry about attunements for Molten Core, Onyxia, Blackwing Lair & Naxxramas. He never spent too much money on raid consumables. He never spent weeks learning a particular encounter. He is a raid noob.

So, let me answer his questions the best I can. There are a couple things that would-be raiders need to keep in mind. There are also a couple of questions you should already have answered.


  1. What is my end-game spec? Will I heal or DPS or tank?
  2. What are the five most important stats for my end game build? Can I order these hierarchically?
  3. Am I ready to be away from the "Old World" cities for long stretches? Can I avoid going to the auction house, bank, trainers in the Old World? Do I have an alt that can perform these duties for me?
  4. Have I done some research about what gear I'd like to pick up from various quests, instances, mobs? Someone wrote an awesome guide to having a wish list on their blog and dummy me, I can't find the post. But its out there.
Having answered these questions, it's time to take the plunge into Outland Questing. The thing that is most different, and hardest to understand for a player coming from Azeroth is how important reputation is. Reputation rewards offer recipes, enchants, and gear that are the best pre-raid (and sometimes early raid) choices. At least five of those factions also offer heroic versions of their dungeons. For most of the factions there is an early quest that turns into a repeatable quest. As I mentioned when writing about the Cenarion dudes it's important to do those quests at the exclusion of others from the same faction, until you stop getting reputation for the repeatable one. Some of the factions are more optional, clearly benefiting some class or tradeskill over others. Here's a quick list of factions and the items they accept:

  • Cenarion Expedition - Unidentified Plant Parts
  • Sporeggar - Bog Lord Tendrils, Fertile Spores
  • Lower City - Arakkoa Feathers
  • Kurenai/Mag'har - Ogre Warbeads
  • Consortium - Elekk Tusks, Oshu'gun Crystal Fragment, Ogre Warbeads, Zaxxis Badge, Ethereum Prison Keys
  • Scryers - Firewing Signets, Sunfire Signets, Arcane Tomes
  • Aldors - Mark of Kil'jaeden, Mark of Sargeras, Fel Armament
  • Sha'Tar - Either of the Aldor or Scryer turnins
The next thing to consider is your crafting professions. Everyone should have first aid. And cooking. And probably *ugh* fishing. I'd take the time before heading to Outlands to level cooking and first aid to 300 minimum. Cooking finally makes real sense post 300 giving some of the best food buffs to date.

If you've got a gathering skill, please be 300 skill in it before coming to Outland. That way you can level it as you level from 60-70.

That said, get out there and level. The quests in Outlands are located in a few quest hubs for the most part. Get a bunch, group them as best you can and get out there and do them. Keep an eye out for dungeon quests and do them level appropriate. A nice change from the "Old World" is that most dungeon quests are picked up right outside the dungeon. And there's usually only 2 or 3 for a particular instance.

Here's my guidance on when you can do certain dungeons.

  • Hellfire Ramparts & Blood Furnace - 58-60
  • Slavepens & Underbog - 61-63
  • Auchenai Crypts - 64-66
  • Mana Tombs - 66-67
  • Old Hillsbrad/Durnholde - 67-68
  • Setthek Halls - 68-70
  • Shadow Labyrinth - 70
  • Shattered Halls - 70
  • Steamvaults - 70
  • Black Morass - 70
  • Mechanar, Botanica, Arcatraz - 70
Another thought. When you hit 68, PLEASE go to Karazhan in Deadwind Pass (by Darkshore/Swamp of Sorrows) and do the pre-requisite quests for Karazhan attunement. You'll very quickly get to collecting key fragments from Shadow Labyrinth, Steamvaults & Arcatraz. If you have the quests the first time you go in there, you'll be better off.

During the 60-70 grind you should be saving money for mounts. If you already have your epic ground mount, you're that much ahead. If not, you'll need to buy that. But at 70, you need to have the 900 gold for flying mount & training. All of the Tempest Keep Instances (Mechanar, Botanica, Arcatraz) are locked out unless you can fly up to them. Summoning doesn't work. Which effectively puts a cap on your progress until you can get the mount. See my articles on mounts for more information

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Dead Zone is, um, dead?

Hunters of the world, rejoice!

The dead zone is either dying or already dead. If you don't know of what I speak then, well you're (a) not a hunter, (b) never PVP'd a hunter (c) don't play WoW -- So what are you doing reading a WoW blog then?

The dead zone is the imaginary circle surrounding the hunter which is "too close" into which to fire a ranged weapon and yet "too far" for melee combat. I've been nuked hard by mages that know exactly how far away to be to melt my face. Part of the class, I say.

So the dead zone is going away. And everyone's happy. Well, maybe not quite SO fast. What does this mean for hunters and the community at large.

First and foremost, we'll never see an annoying "You are too close" message. Great. Can't come soon enough. And I'll never have to gimp my DPS by trying to maneuver to get far enough away inside an instance (with a narrow hall for added fun) to even shoot at something. Call me a big fun-sucker, but I don't think this is necessarily something to be happy about.

Hunters are pretty much tuned (in Blizzard's eyes) to be competitive on the DPS charts with their special needs. But how about now? Are we going to be nerfed because all of a sudden we're OP? And what about the Survival Tree? There are a handful of skills in that tree that are all about melee. And if I've suddenly got no deadzone, will I ever even take a swing with my [Legacy]?

So, while I'm not for, I'm not against this change. I guess I'm on the fence and will need to wait and see.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Heroic Hierarchy

What's the hardest heroic instance? What's the easiest? Which one should I do first?
All excellent questions.

I can only share what I know about these instances.

Hellfire Citadel: The only heroic I've attempted is Hellfire Ramparts. This seemed like a pretty straight-forward instance. Nothing too funky going on and no real changes to the fights. If you know regular Ramps and expect it to be the same (albeit with harder hitting mobs) you won't be far off. I've heard Blood Furnace is fairly easy if you have a warlock for CC. Shattered Halls is supposed to be hard.

Coilfang Reservoir: I've been in both Slave Pens and Underbog. I don't find either of them hard. Some pulls get ugly as mobs can be immune to CC. I've even finished Slave Pens where the last druid died and we didn't get the buff. Steamvault is supposed to be hard with a warrior tank, easier otherwise.

Auchindoun: My first heroic attempt ever was Mana Tombs. What a mistake. MT was hard, hard, hard, hard! I ended up spending a fortune on pots and shadow resist for the first boss. By the time we worked up to final boss, we realized we didn't have the DPS to finish. Very disappointing. I've also been in Sethekk Halls but only briefly. My group fell apart somewhere in the neighborhood of the first boss. I've heard Auchenai Crypts is super easy and Shadow Labyrinth is hard.

Tempest Keep: Mechanar and Botanica I've found to be badge piƱatas. First boss is just a FUN fight on heroic. Second boss in Mechanar used to be skipped but I've heard she got the nerf. Third boss in Botanica was also skipped two times I was in there. The last time I was in there, the first boss wiped us a couple times with an increasing Arcane Devastation. After about 3 wipes, it stopped increasing and just started out hitting the tank for 4-5K Arcane Damage. We called it. Never been to Arcatraz but supposed to be more long and boring than hard.

Caverns of Time: I've attempted Old Hillsbrad. The patrols with one humanoid and a dog spawned two non CC-able adds. So, um, yeah. It sucked. Bad. I can't even imagine what Black Morass must be like. It seems like sort of a spin on the wipe wheel unless you're group is really good anyway, so I can't imagine it harder.

Hunter Luvin'

Well, if you've been living under a rock without internet connection (in which case, how are you reading this) you're probably not aware of the sweeping changes in the 2.3 PTR Notes. There's so much loving goodness in the next patch, I've got to break them down by classes and stuff.

Traps and Stings:

  • Explosive Trap: The initial damage dealt by this trap is now also increased by 10% of your ranged attack power.
  • Immolation Trap: The total damage dealt by this trap is now also increased by 10% of your ranged attack power.
  • Serpent Sting: The total damage dealt by this sting is now also increased by 10% of your ranged attack power.
  • Serpent Sting, Immolation Trap and Explosive Trap all gain additional damage based on ranged attack power.
All good stuffs here. Especially for those of us who have put nearly all their effort into increasing Attack Power. Granted, I don't use traps much apart from the crowd controlling aspects, so the extra damage isn't that big a deal. But for the AOE fights with proper AOE classes lacking, it could have an effect. But why not Snake Trap too?

Bug Fixes:

  • Steady Shot: Tooltip clarified to indicate base weapon damage is used in the damage calculation.
  • Readiness: This talent now finishes the cooldown on Kill Command.
  • Misdirection: This spell will now always be removed correctly if multiple Hunters overwrite each other's Misdirection.
These things just make sense. The only one I've noticed effecting me was the Misdirection one. It was painful in Shadow Labyrinth in a group with 2 hunters where one of us would totally waste his misdirection with overwrite.

Updated Skills:
  • Trueshot Aura (Marksmanship) no longer costs mana to cast and will last until cancelled.
  • Wyvern Sting (Survival) is now instant cast and has a maximum duration of 10 seconds in PvP.
Yay for no mana. I wonder if it'll make SmartBuff stop telling me I need to re-apply Trueshot Aura when I'm in a group with another MM hunter.

New (OMFG) Skill:
  • Arcane Shot (Ranks 6 and above) now dispel 1 Magic effect in addition to their normal damage.
This is huge. HUGE. As infrequently as I PVP, I rely heavily on Arcane Shot to take out the casters quickly. Now if I already rely on this shot, how much better does it get eating one of their buffs? Couple this with a fact buried in the mage changes that we can all see target buffs when Detect Magic is removed, and we can SEE Arcane Shot working. I'm very excited about this one.

Profession Changes:
  • 20 and 24 slot Quivers and Ammo pouch recipes are now available (through Leatherworking)
OMG. *faint*

Changes to Hit Rating:

  • Expertise: New stat and associated rating called expertise and expertise rating. Expertise rating converts to expertise at the same rate that weapon skill rating formerly converted at. Each point of expertise reduces the chance for your attacks to be dodged or parried by 0.25%.
  • Dwarf: Gun Specialization now increases chance to hit critically with guns by 1% rather than increasing weapon skill. Troll: Bow Specialization now increases chance to critically hit with bows by 1% rather than increasing weapon skill.
This means my post of a few days ago, BRK's post on wowinsider, and hundreds of threads on elitistjerks.com are WRONG. Now we (the dwarfs) have to make up to 9% hit rating to not miss 73 bosses instead of only 6%. And I don't think changing that to crit chance is really amenable.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Favorite Place

Lately I've seen a lot of guild chat that starts with "Hey anyone want to help out in Gnomer/Dead Mines/Black Fathom Deep/etc.?" For most of these I answer to myself (silently in my head) "I'd rather gouge out my own eyes with a rusty bottle opener." Which, when put into guild chat becomes "Can't help right now, farming primal air."

But it made me start to think--What dungeon or instance (or raid) would actually get me to respond in the positive and why? If anyone recognizes the tiny photo the quick answer to the first part is "Blackrock Depths." The second part I'm still not sure of.

I like BRD because it feels like an epic movie I guess. There's just a TON of quests to do in there and chaining the appropriate quests together can lead you to several (I count 3 minimum) times that you wind up inside. Part of what makes it epic, I think, is the lore. So many different story lines get advanced in BRD. And for someone that ranks content as high on their list, BRD is the perfect instance.

I also like the types of mobs you fight in there. Mostly humanoids, a few elementals, some beasts. Nothing too esoteric or non-controllable by most parties. (Compare to, say, Dire Maul East. Your CC options there are banishes or ice traps. Pretty darned specific group makeup). I like BRD also because of the mix of scripted encounters (the arena) and puzzles. By puzzles, I don't mean solving them is required to move on but rather doing things in a specific order makes them easier. BRD is also the first instance (that I know of) that can have a real chance to drop purple items.

I guess the last reason I like BRD is the difficulty seems about right. The gap in BRD is also wide enough that back in the day, you could forseeably spend 10 levels or more inside. I know the idea is to narrow the level gap for dungeons, at least from Blizzard's stand. But I like the fact that different parts of BRD were able to be completed as you leveled. It's also damned cool that there's a quest you can't even acquire unless you're a ghost. Clever!

I guess the last thing is it's probably not a "run-through-able" dungeon. In that one 70 couldn't reliably take a boatload of lowbies through all alone. Thus I'll not have to run it in that way. The 70 would have to be only one part of a full group.

I know. BRD is too long. It takes, if you added all trip times together, probably 13-15 hours to complete. But the positives for me in terms of lore, mob composition, difficulty and encounter types far far outweigh the negatives.

But that's just me. And no, guildmates, don't start spamming for BRD run throughs. You don't want to make me hate my favorite instance now, do you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hit Happens

Next time, I wish Neshura would give me an easier topic to theorycraft on. She wanted to know about hit rating.

First things first. I'm merely pulling together information that's freely available on the internet. As my good friend Tom Lehrer would say, "Plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize - Only be sure always to call it please 'research'." With that esoteric reference aside, I'll dive right in.

Things you need to know:

  1. There is some (limited) math in this post. Viewer discretion is advised.
  2. This works for MELEE and RANGED classes only. Please do not attempt to apply the (limited) theorycrafting to your shadow priest.
  3. When World of Warcraft determines a hit (commonly referred to as 'rolling'), several things are determined simultaneously. A single roll accounts for many results. Most notably the roll determines miss, block, dodge, parry, critical etc. The rest of the results that aren't "special" in some way are the times when you hit. So, raising hit actually contributes more to lowering your miss.
  4. Raid or dungeon mobs have a defense equal to their level times 5. That is, level 73 raid bosses have 73*5 = 365 defense.
There are two formulas that determine miss percentage, based on the difference between your weapon skill and the targets defense.

If the difference between your weapon skill and targets defense is 10 or under:
  • 5% + (Defense Skill - Weapon Skill)*0.1%

If the difference between your weapon skill and targets defense if over 10:

  • 7% + (Defense Skill - Weapon Skill - 10)*0.4%
Thus, if you're a level 70 character, with 350 weapon skill and you're fighting a level 73 boss, we use the second formula (since 365-350 > 10. Miss percentage = 7% + (365-350-10)*0.4%=7%+5*0.4%=7+2%=9%.

If, however, you're a dwarf hunter, using a gun your weapon skill is 355 (hooray for racial weapon bonuses). This drops us into the FIRST formula. Miss percentage = 5% + (365-355)*0.1% = 5%+ 1% = 6%. This also applies to a troll hunter using a bow.

So, how do we make up that last remaining percentages to statistically make a miss impossible? Well, there are two ways. Slightly more than 3.9 Weapon Skill Rating (not the same as Weapon Skill Level) gives about 1 point of Weapon Skill Level. So stacking 20 weapon skill level will actually make up 5 points of weapon skill level. The second way to make up the difference is with +hit rating. Each 15.8 hit rating you can acquire lowers your miss by 1%. A dwarf (with gun) or troll (with bow) thus needs +hit rating of 95. Other hunters need +hit rating of 142.

I've not found a ton of guns or bows that a level 70 would use that have weapon skill rating on them. So, I've resorted to +hit. Currently I'm at 75 hit rating (which is not the 95 that I need being a dwarf) but I miss pretty infrequently. I'd say less than 1% of the time.

The last thing I need to mention for hunters, if you're deep enough into Survival Tree (but who is really?) Surefooted will increase your hit percentage (that is lower your miss percentage) by 1% for each of the three points you can take. This drops non-dwarves and non-trolls to needing only 95 +hit. And for us lucky suckers with racial weapon bonuses, we need a mere 48 +hit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

But Daddy I want it NOW!

I was looking through my list of potential blogging topics to try and get a handle on what this Tuesday-after-a-holiday would bring to the blog. Most of them are requiring the sort of research that can't happen in just a few minutes. So I turned to my backup plans.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have a topic hiding that Neshura asked me to blog on. I think it might be heavy theory-crafting and thus saved until later in the week when I've had some time to craft the theory.

I know Owaru also wants to see my combat log from Karazhan, but like a total nub, I must've deleted it as I got ready to record the next one. Nothing earth-shattering stands out, but I only spent a few minutes trying to decipher what was in the blasted thing.

So, the topics I want to post on either require too much time right now or have been forgotten/deleted by your humble narrator. Thus...

How come there are enchants for shields (technically an off-hand item) that I can't get on my off-hand item for my freakin' priest...

For instance I think these would be swell.

Is this just another example of how Blizzard is giving all the healing love to the paladins and leaving the priests to have no choice but respec Shadow?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Guild Progression: Getting to Know You

Great! You've followed the advice earlier in the week and you've recruited people. You've formed your committee, you've asked the questions, you've answered questions. You've finally sent the /ginvite. Now what? I'm here to help.

You have a website for your guild right? Awesome. Get the new recruit signed up for the website right away. If there is an approval process, see if there's a guild member on who can kick that off. Getting them with a login/password to the website is critical at this point. I've been in too many guilds where the website isn't all that crucial. And thus new members don't often find out about the site right away or go there and find it under utilized. If you can make this your first official business with the new guy (or gal) you'll drive home the importance of using the site.

Hopefully your website is also just chock full of juicy tidbits and posts. If not, it might be a good idea to appoint some "seeders" who will go out and post some starter topics. Make them just a little bit controversial. Nothing gets a board moving like some debate. In addition to active boards you should have posts that are marked "sticky" somewhere near the top. Each post where it's relevant should include links. They should list things like required guild addons to the WoW client, required voice communication addons, special configurations for the addons, the IP address of your voice client, the password for anything that needs it, basically anything the new member needs to immediately become an active member of your guild.

In another section you should have a link to your guild charter. If you don't have a charter -- WRITE one. Stop what you're doing right now and go write it. I'll give you a few.

Done. Good. Somewhere close to that, you should list the officers and class leads (if you use them) in your guild. It's also a good idea to have a suggestion with consumables for raiding or instancing, who in the guild can make them, and who in the guild will make them for little or no money.

A buddy system for new recruits works wonderfully. Introduce them to their assigned buddy. If there's no one else available, you become the buddy by default. An introduction to the key guild people and his or her class lead can go very far at this point to making them feel welcome.

Ask if there are any questions again. Some have surely popped up.

On your end, you probably have some administrative work to do as well. If your guild uses officer notes or public notes in a particular way, set them up for the new guy.

If it makes sense and there's the right mix of folks on, organize an appropriate level instance run immediately. Nothing assimilates a new guy to your guild better than IMMEDIATELY driving home the point why he just switched guilds.

Most of this is common sense. Treat them like you would a guest in your home, and they'll soon feel at home in their new home.

(Almost) Famous

Okay. Here it is. I'm (almost) famous as a blogger. I got my first link from over at Kestrel's Aerie. Thanks for the recognition on my humble attempts at blogging. Now the pressure is really on.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What's in your pants?

No. NOT that way.

Enchants and modifications to leg armor can be very important as you begin to raid. Please, please, please have the right "stuff" in your pants. For a quick rundown, let's look at the available BC modifications to pants one by one.

The following are produced by leatherworking. These armor kits can go on chest, hands, legs, or feet so it may make sense to pick up multiples when you get them.

  1. [Magister's Armor Kit] - 3 mana/5 sec - Pattern requires revered with Scryers. This is clearly for the caster's in the group.
  2. [Vindicator's Armor Kit] - 8 Defense rating - Pattern requires revered with Aldor. Tanks rejoice, this one's for you.
  3. [Knothide Armor Kit] - 8 Stamina - Just about anyone can use this.
  4. [Arcane Armor Kit] - 8 Arcane Resist - This kit and the next several, might be good for building a specific set of gear for resistances. This pattern drops from Chronolord Deja in Black Morass.
  5. [Flame Armor Kit] - 8 Fire Resist - This pattern drops from Gargantuan Abyssals in the Arcatraz.
  6. [Frost Armor Kit] - 8 Frost Resist - This pattern drops from Hydromancer Thespia in Steamvault.
  7. [Nature Armor Kit] - 8 Nature Resist - This pattern drops from Mennu the Betrayer in Slavepens.
  8. [Shadow Armor Kit] - 8 Shadow Resist - This pattern drops from Time-lost Shadowmages in Sethekk Halls.

The following are produced by leatherworking but can only be applied to leg armor.

  1. [Clefthide Leg Armor] - 30 Stamina, 10 Agility - Requires Honored Reputation with Cenarion Expedition. Tanks & Twinks rejoice
  2. [Nethercleft Leg Armor] - 35 Stamina, 12 Agility - Requires Exalted with Cenarion Expedition. Same as above.
  3. [Cobrahide Leg Armor] - 40 Attack Power, 10 Critical Strike Rating - Requires Honored Reputation with Honor Hold/Thrallmar. This is for the hunters, dps warriors & rogues.
  4. [Nethercobra Leg Armor] - 45 Attack Power, 12 Critical Strike Rating - Requires Exalted Reputation with Honor Hold/Thrallmar
The following are produced by tailoring and can only be applied to leg armor.
  1. [Silver Spellthread] - 46 Healing, 15 Stamina - Pattern requires honored with Aldor. Clearly for the healers.
  2. [Golden Spellthread] - 66 Healing, 20 Stamina - Pattern requires exalted with Aldor. Even more healing love.
  3. [Mystic Spellthread] - 25 Spell damage/healing, 15 Stamina - Pattern requires honored with Scryers. Locks, Mages, Shadowpirests. Maybe Paladins.
  4. [Runic Spellthread] - 35 Spell damage/healing, 20 Stamina - Pattern requires exalted with Scryers


I've been trying for days to get a post going about how I was going to resocket three pieces my hunter has with new gems to put less emphasis on Attack Power and more on upping the hit rating and doing a little more to round myself out.

For days I've been thwarted at every turn by tables in Blogger, broken links, corrupted save files, inappropriate codes inserted by text editors, and typing the wrong number in Allakhazam links. That's it. I've wiped on this post enough. I'm going to hit accept and take the 25% durability hit to my blog.

In the end, I'm losing 50 Attack Power, gaining 4 mana/5sec, gaining 12 Agility, Gaining 8 hit rating and gaining 6 stamina.

At this point I don't even care if I actually resocket. I just don't want to think about it and the blog post anymore.


Guild Progression: Filling out the ranks

It's time to expand your guild by recruiting. Maybe it is because you're finally ready to start raiding in Karazhan. Maybe it is because you've got Karazhan on farm and are ready to start ramping up to the 25-man raid instances. Maybe it's just because you can never find a tank (or a healer or a mage or a rogue or...)

Whatever the reason is, you need people. You need them now. But you don't just need a warm body. You need the right warm body.

There are a couple of things you can do to help.

1. Clearly define why you are recruiting. Do you need more healers? Do you need just more people? Is your goal to raid, pvp, instance, etc.?

2. Form a committee of your leaders who will be responsible for recruiting. It sucks to do recruiting all by yourself.

3. Write a list of questions which you will ask ALL potential applicants. Focus on things like other guild memberships, why they left their last guild, their goals in the game, their playing schedule. Keep in mind that recruiting someone who only wants to PVP when you're recruiting to fill a raiding schedule is not a good fit.

4. Be aware that the question "Why did you leave your last guild?" will most often lead to a skewed version of the actual events. Don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions. If they respond with, "I could never get a group" ask them to elaborate. You might follow up with "Were there just no other toons at your level?" or "How did you try to engage that guild in grouping with you?" I've seen people leave my guild saying they could never get a group. And I know for fact that they rarely said anything in guild chat about looking for a group.

5. Treat this like a job interview. Have potential members interviewed by several people. It is the best possible idea to include the class lead responsible for the potential member (if you guild uses class leads)

6. Be ready to answer questions. The interview is merely a dialogue-it should work both ways.

7. Especially ask interviewees if they have any objections to downloading guild required software (addons, voice communication, etc.)

8. Know when to stop the interview. By your third question, you probably have a pretty good idea about whether this person will "fit in." Don't be afraid to ask a few more clarifying questions, but when you've made up your mind, stop asking questions. If you've already decided "no" its a waste of your time. If you've already decided "yes" but continue the examination for 45 more minutes, the interviewee may have decided your guild is not for him.

9. Know when to stop recruiting. You should only recruit when you need to. If the need for tanks is filled, don't keep recruiting them. :o)

10. Take advantage of various means of getting the recruiting word out. Blizzard realm forums have recruiting sections. Wowinsider has a weekly column. Wowwiki has sections on recruiting. If you have a guild website, post the information there. And don't neglect the tried and true /lookingforguild spam.

Now. You've got a guild full of the right warm bodies. How do you integrate them into your guild? For that, tune in later.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Work has been a bear

The title says it all. And this little bear is buckling down and doing work instead of blogging. The good news is I have at least 2 posts in draft form. They just need some final edits and I can ship them out.

Now the only trouble is finding time.

Monday, October 1, 2007

2.3 Changes for Priests

There was news last week on the Blizzard boards about changes coming in the 2.3 patch. Based on the amount of announced changes, I'd expect the patch to be soon. Especially since the 2.2 patch took long based on the technical issues around voice chat.

Let's take a look at the priest announced changes one by one.

Pain Suppression is getting changed a bit to have more utility beyond personal use. You'll be able to cast it on a friendly target and it will do a couple of things. First it's going to reduce the target's threat by 5%. and next it's going to reduce the damage that person takes by 40%. The cooldown is also going to be reduced to 2 minutes. The intent is to give it more utility while still making it viable for multiple targets. When you're trying to protect an AoEing mage in a raid, this could become a very useful tool.
I don't care how useful a tool it becomes. I think Pain Suppression is too far in the discipline tree for ANYONE to have taken it. Basically there are two general specs for priest - Shadow and Healing. The primary trees for those two builds almost necessarily have to be the shadow and holy trees. The rest of the points (if there are any) are generally spent in the discipline tree. Because it's great for buffing and for mana management. But I don't see it as a viable tree all on its own. And to top it off its the 41-point discipline talent.
Meditation is also going to get a bit of a bump up and it will increase to 10/20/30% mana regen as well.
Yay for mana regen!
On the survivability end, we're going to be having Power Word: Shield gain additional benefit from spell damage and healing bonuses. Base absorb values for ranks 10, 11 and 12 have been reduced though to go with that as a balancing factor for it. Unfortunately I don't have any concrete information on what the values will end up being right now.
The jury is still out. PW:S generally falls into one of two categories for me: preparation for battle or panic button. That said, the changes to PW:S don't make it bad for either application. But when I think about changes needed for priests, I just don't zero in on PW:S
Prayer of Healing, Circle of Healing and Holy Nova (healing effect) will gain additional benefit from damage and healing bonuses.
Circle of Healing is having a change to the base amount of healing though, and will be reduced but it will have the increase in the bonus it receives from bonus healing effects. So if you have more than 1338 healing, you'll see it heal for more. Less than that, you will see a reduction. Please keep in mind that these numbers could change on further testing but this is where we are as of right now for the patch.
Of these three, my priest is specced into exactly ONE of the abilities. And PoH is not my favorite spell. However with the +healing I have, I won't complain. Again, not the first place I'd look to make necessary priest changes.
Fear Ward will be available to all priests at level 20, but there are some changes in addition. Current plans are to reduce duration to 3 minutes, and increase the cooldown to 3 minutes.
To give the dwarves and draenei something else to even it out, they'll see a new ability called Chastise (also given at level 20) which will cause holy damage and incapacitate the target for 2 seconds.
This I actually disagree with. I like our ability to have race-specific class abilities. And while I sometimes wish I'd had the foresight to roll a dwarf, I'm happy with my human. I would agree that the Horde missed out. I wouldn't even mind adding Fear Ward to a few of the Horde race priests. It is too useful in dungeons & raids to ignore one faction. However, really, what's next, shall we make Desperate Prayer a universal priest ability too?
We also changed the mana cost for Power Word: Fortitude, Divine Spirit, Prayer of Fortitude and Prayer of Spirit . The developers took a look at it and thought that the mana costs were just too high for what they should be. Hopefully this will cut down on all the water everyone has been gulping down at raids. ;)
I won't disagree with this change. But it's only water :-)

Threat, Hate, Aggro

Over the weekend in our Karazhan raid I heard comments from a number of people about threat and specifically about the threat meters. I'm going to use fictitious names so as to not embarass anyone.

Single largest comment I heard was "I was 10K under the tank, why is he hitting me?" The answer is, there may be a number of reasons.

The first reason the mob may be hitting you when you're under the tank's threat is he may be programmed to do that. For instance, Attumen randomly charges a member of the raid after he mounts up. The skeletal chargers also do a random charge. It doesn't matter if you have zero threat. If you're in combat, you're a potential target. Another way mobs are programmed are being immune to taunt effects. When a tank loses the mob's focus, taunt is likely to be the first thing he tries (or growl or whatever) to get it back. If the mob is immune to taunt, you've got big problems.

Another reason for why the mob is hitting you may have to do with your meters. A couple of things may be going on. Threat meters are at best approximations. They collect a lot of data from your group, share it around through synching channels and graphically put the approximation of the mob's threat onto your screen. If you're cutting the line close you may actually be significantly higher than you think. Also, depending on the mod you're using it may be tracking actual threat against your targetted mob or residual threat over the whole fight. That's a question you'll have to find the answer to and then adjust your playstyle.

The third reason you may be drawing unwarranted threat? The hunter (or warlock or priest or...) Several classes have built in threat reducers. They use them and the mob pops right back onto the tank right? Well, not always. Let me explain.

If you're not in melee range of the primary threat (hopefully the tank), you must accumulate 130% threat to pull the mob's attention onto you. If you are in melee range, you need only 110% threat to pull aggro. Rogues, Feral Druids and DPS Warriors aren't the only ones who need know the 110% number though. Let me give you an example.

Example: You're in a run with my hunter, Bremagorn. He's providing sustained DPS on the monster while the tank is doing the meat-shielding. If I don't notice my threat creeping ever closer to the tanks and do something about it, I may land a lucky crit and BAM I'm at 131% of the tank's threat. The mob comes running for me, is about to poke me in the eye and I feign. The mob pops back to the tank right? Well, maybe. The tank is now probably OUTSIDE of melee range. The healer (or mage or warlock or..), however is probably INSIDE melee range. The mob probably is NOT going to run for the warrior. He's probably going to decide he'd like barbecued healer leg for dinner and pop the squishy priest.

You can also draw too much threat in other ways. Doing a full burn of your mana to do the most DPS you can is almost always going to get you dead. Especially if you lay into the mob when the mob isn't under the tank's control.

So, what's our object lessons here?

  • Know how the threat meter you use (You DO use one right?) displays threat
  • Slow down. Dead players contribute almost no DPS
  • Before using your aggro dumping abilities, have a good idea WHO will take the aggro.
  • Know that some mobs are programmed to do random things, be immune to taunt, or have no conventional aggro list.
Good luck out there.