Monday, March 31, 2008

We're Getting There

Neither of the guilds I've been in since BC have been capable of staffing a 25-man raid. My current guild has enough players to go in an cream Kara whenever we want. And if my hunter needs to swap out for the priest so that someone else can bring a warlock for a piece of loot and the healing druid has to tank for a while, it's do-able.

The problem we've been having is not enough distinct players to staff it all. However, as I logged on last evening to do a little PVP, I got the "BREM! We need you" call from the guild. They were just a few positions away from hosting the second simultaneous Kara run. So, like a good guildie, I jumped in and did it.

Group Two didn't go too far; we had some folks with time constraints. It was also completely (well, mostly) unscheduled. It just gives me hope that if we can staff one planned and one impromptu ten-man raid that we're getting much closer to staffing one planned twenty-five-man raid.

And let me tell you, it's about time. Most of the members of my guild are going to have every single drop from Karazhan they need. I'm afraid once we do get this train moving, it's going to run over raid bosses. I can't imagine that Gruul or Mag will cause us much problem. And then we'll be into SSC and we might finally have a challenge or three.

At least that's what I'm hoping!

So, well done Schadenfreude! I look forward to us kicking some 25-man butt!

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm a BRK Twin (Almost)

I stole today's image from BRK. I admit it, I'm a thief. But not just of his image. No, you see, I stole his spec also. So, apart from a pet (and better gear on the REAL BRK) we're twin gun-toting dwarf hunters.

It all started when I got these nifty new [pants] at a reasonable price. People like Owaru have been telling/begging/pleading with me to go BM for ages now. So I finally did it.

I only got to run around with him for a few battlegrounds. But rogues did not seem to be a problem for me after my Scorpid went all big and red.

The only thing I think I need to do now is maybe swap out some of my AP gems for more agility. And start eating Warp Burgers instead of Ravager Dogs.

I guess we'll see.

Phase Two

So, on Alleria, we've reached Phase Two in Sunwell. This opened up a couple of new daily quests - the bombing run through the dead scar and killing demons around the portal.

Killing demons was fun, easy, and since you don't have to kill the emissary of hate but just stab a banner in his smoking corpse, he wasn't totally camped.

The bombing run on the other hand. Wow. Just. Do. Not. Do. This. When. It's. Crowded. I always seemed to wind up just a few lengths behind someone else who destroyed all the targets I was after. I'm told grouping works and counts off kills for everyone (provided they're close enough). It took me four (I think) runs to get all the various and sundries I needed. We were at around ten percent last night. So I expect by Sunday we'll be on to Phase Three.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welcome to Lag Point Four

It's not news that we have 2.4 on the live servers now. Miraculously, my UI was not too broken to play with and I was able to log a few hours on new content yesterday.

I only picked up one quest, inside the center of Shattrath before heading off to Sunwell Isle. In retrospect I realize I missed several quests associated with the new faction that were in Shattrath, but I caught most of them on another trip to Outland.

The lag on Sunwell Isle was epic. It was very reminiscent for me of the opening day of Burning Crusade. When I first began playing, the lag was so bad I missed looting several of the giant robots because I used the quest item on them after waiting 30 or so seconds for the cursor to change into the loot indication.

At some point fairly early in the quest line, you take the demon portal to Hellfire Peninsula. This was the most hideous quest I did. You end up waiting for a mob to spawn and then the approximately fourteen trillion people in the area all try to tag it first. Once its tagged, you can use your quest item on the mob and it will transform. Even though I was in a five man group, with snake traps and pet on aggressive, I can't count the number of mobs that were "stolen" by quicker mages and druids. The quest is called "Blood for Blood" and I definitely recommend saving this until the exuberance has died down or for low population times on your server.

I did not try either the retooled Alterac Valley or Magister's Terrace. Some people in my guild did and they reported that we were still losing AV and that MT was "actually challenging." From the reports on the specifics of this instance, it sounded like group healing was more required than nice to have. Could it be that Paladins are being divested of their "best healers in the game" tag? One can only hope!

I only opened 2 or 3 Shattered Sun Supplies from quest rewards last night, but did get one Badge of Justice.

The last thing I have to report was that when I first hit Sunwell, the quest givers were reporting only 1% completion of objectives. By the time I checked the last time before heading out, they were at 15% (four hours later). This seems to be that Phase One will be over by the time I get home tonight, so I'm glad I got a chance to see some of Phase One at least. And at least the quests stay as dailies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Go West Young Man - To Theramore

It had been a while since I leveled an alt through the thirties. As my shaman approached the dreaded "Time to go to Stranglethorn" I remembered that 2.3 had added the new quest hub of Mudsprocket in Dustwallow Marsh. I decided to try it out and see if this was a viable path that allowed skipping of the Stranglethorn quests I knew so well.

Let me say, Theramore is big fun! There's a whole line of Theramore deserters quests in the town itself which have you stopping deserters, confiscating propaganda, and redistributing that propaganda after some creative editing. There's a sea-monster to fight in Theramore (level 54 Elite and all) that's a nice diversion. And both the Defias and Grimtotem have set up a camp or three in Dustwallow. The area around Tabetha's farm has also been expanded with several quests. The famed zeppelin crash site also has a few new added things.

Eventually, you make it out to the town of Mudsprocket and deal with mostly raptors and dragons. I'm not finished in Dustwallow yet, although I think I'm getting close to running out of quests. At level 38, I've managed to skip the Northern Stranglethorn quests--including annihilating the wildlife for Nessingwary and his cronies.

As I approach forty, I'm wondering if I'll need to return to STV to fill a hole in questing later, but I don't think it'll be necessary. Which is good, because honestly with six characters that have gone through STV (one on a PVP server) I am mighty tired of that zone.

So, if you're leveling an alt up and are in your early thirties, check out Theramore and Dustwallow as an alternative path.

Monday, March 24, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - The Battlegrounds

As a companion to my extensive class-based strategies for PVP, I thought it would be nice to have some general guidelines for battlegrounds and some specifics for each of the four battlegrounds. Since there is less in general to say about each battleground, I’m not splitting this up into multiple posts. Keep in mind, this is still written from the perspective of a Marksman Hunter.

General Observations:

  • While players are not subject to taunt mechanics, many classes have aspects to them that are subject to taunt (for example, other hunters’ pets, warlocks’ pets, shadowfiends, snakes from snake traps, shamans’ and mages’ elementals). You may not want to turn growl off on your pet.
  • Going alone is dangerous. It is almost always counterproductive to assault a node, tower or flag if you are the only one. There are clearly examples where a solo character has taken out two defenders and managed to capture the objective. However, these are most likely the exception rather than the rule.
  • Your various tracking abilities shut off upon your death. If you were tracking humanoids prior to dying, you will need to reactivate it.
  • You will die. There are exceptions to dying, but generally you will die multiple times in a battleground. When you first resurrect you will have a buff that reduces the cost of buffing. Buff yourself. I buff Aspect of the Hawk, Trueshot Aura and Track Humanoids. Some buffs will dismount you. Others will not. Generally auras and tracking won’t. Thus, when I resurrect, I buff Aspect of the Hawk, mount, and then buff Trueshot and Track as I ride to my destination.
  • As a hunter you can’t really buff anyone else. However, before the game begins other classes can buff. Ask for the buffs you want and remind folks that there is no mana cost to buff if they aren’t bothering. Often people say “they disappear when you die” as an excuse to not do it. Don’t buy it!! Having 700 or so more HP from a fortitude buff can mean the difference between living and dying.
  • If there is a refreshment table, take what you need but don’t be greedy.
  • If there is a soulwell, take a healthstone. If there are two soulwells, take two stones if they are of different "sizes."
  • If your pet dies, it is often better to let him (or her) auto resurrect with you at your next death. This doesn’t seem to have the happiness loss that raising him mid battle does.
  • While most conventional wisdom says to ignore hunter and warlock pets, these classes can be limited by removing their pets. If you spy a pet that can be killed with one or two shots, it may be worth it to do just that.
  • Pay attention to which battleground is giving bonus honor on a weekend. The competition is generally better on those weekends. Queue times however can be much longer.
  • If the BG you’re in has the concept of nodes or towers, then someone must guard the nodes you capture. Taking the lumber mill, for example, is of very little long term use if it’s recaptured a minute and a half later.
  • If a goody chest spawns somewhere you are guarding, it is better to use that chest even though you don’t need it than leave it for an attacker.
  • Situational awareness is king! You must know where your enemies will be resurrecting.
  • Be aware of AFKers. These people are handicapping your team by not taking part. I report as AFK people that I notice are not moving. (Note: “Not moving” is not the same as “Defending.” Someone stationary at the Mage Tower is not the same as someone stationary at the start area.)
  • Battlegrounds are a horrible place to level pets. Remember experience isn’t gained in a battleground, thus that pet will never level.
  • A combination of target acquisition via Tab and range coloring on abilities can sometimes allow you to target and fire on targets that are not in your line of sight (i.e. through mountains, rocks, bushes, etc.)
  • Make sure you check what the daily battleground quest is. Nearly 12 gold and 419 honor is not bad just for winning.
Warsong Gulch:
  • There are two primary roles for you in WSG: escorting your flag carrier and slowing pursuit and defending your flag. You may also be called on to hunt down (I pun) a hiding enemy flag carrier. If it’s safe to use Aspect of the Cheetah, you can be a good choice for running the flag.
  • The layout of the two bases is nearly identical. Be aware that it is possible to somehow enter through the log chute on the side of the Horde base.
  • Teams primarily support their flag carrier by healing and protecting. If you can get an Aimed Shot on the EFC, it’ll reduce healing by 50%.
  • Using Aspect of the Pack to escort your flag carrier is risky. First they’d have to be in your group and second they’ll be dazed if hit. Use this aspect only if you are 110% sure there isn’t anything to attack the flag carrier.
Arathi Basin
  • Your primary roles here are attacking a new node and defending. I tend to defend a lot as most other people won’t.
  • When attempting to wrest a node from the other side, the flag must me attacked as quickly as possible. Not claiming the node just means everyone you’ve already killed will resurrect at the same node in a short period of time.
  • Know when a fight is “worth it.” If you’re attempting to re-take the node closest to your starting area (stables for Alliance, farm for Horde) and die, you resurrect at your starting area. The opposing team can quickly determine where the choke point for that is. It may make sense to run around that node to get to a node you hold.
  • Merely holding one more node for the majority of the game than the other side will win you the game.
  • Look logically at where their forces “must be.” If they hold three and are heavily represented at two of them, the third is likely lightly defended.
  • AB is a game of mobility. Call out when a node you’re defending is about to be hit. It gives the unengaged members of your team time to get to you.
  • If you are defending fight at nodes you control. It can prevent the other guys from claiming the node long enough for your teammates to arrive.
Alterac Valley
  • AV is the most raid-like battleground. As such, your role is most like PVE raids – massive quantities of sustained DPS. This, in my experience, is also the BG you are most likely to be healed in.
  • This is not your father’s AV. The rules of the game changed significantly with patch 2.3 with the introduction of “reinforcements.”
  • The game is usually won by fighting at your most defensible choke point.
  • AV Quests contribute little to winning a match, however they will gain you reputation with Stormpike or Frostwolf.
Eye of the Storm
  • Your roles here are like that of Arathi Basin. Additionally, if you have a clear shot from flag spawn to your tower, you make an excellent flag runner.
  • You must understand the scoring. Points awarded for flag captures are proportional to the number of towers you control. Even if your team never captures the flag but controls three towers, you’ll win.
  • Have paladins in your group turn off Crusader Aura prior to game start. It’ll prevent needless loss of health at the beginning.
  • “Hiding” the flag can be a tactic to allow your team time to take an additional tower.
  • Quite often hunters can shoot enemies guarding a base that are hidden by terrain. If you can target them, quite often you can shoot them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tank School - Mob positioning 101

The best questions seem to come up when someone says to you, "Hey I just started a new (insert class). He's level 10. What gear should I look for and what skills should I take?"

While my favorite answer to most questions is "It depends," that doesn't really apply here. For any level 10 you should look for gear that is green. Beyond that avoid intellect if you don't have mana, and avoid agility if you primarily cast spells. Other than that, itemization isn't going to matter.

However, this did prompt a discussion that is worthwhile. A primary skill for any tank of any type is to be able to position a mob where you want it. Luckily you don't have to be level 70 and dressed in full epics to practice this.

Step 1: The Kite
Pick a place and kill some mobs. Only instead of fighting them where they stand, choose where you will kill them. A prominent rock, fallen tree, or dilapidated wagon work well for this selection. Now kill everything in the area, but not more than a few steps from your landmark. Do it with single mobs at first, then pull more. Pull as many as you can handle comfortably.

Step 2: Those Pesky Casters
Then find a similar (or the same) place and pull casters in the area to it. Casters are harder because you will need to interrupt their casts somehow or go out of line of sight. But its doable. Practice, practice, practice.

Step 3: C'mon Baby, Do the Twist
Now train (or kite) mobs to your chosen place. And this time position the odd kills (#1, #3, #5, etc) FACING TOWARD your landmark. Kill the evens, FACING AWAY FROM your landmark. Repeat until you can do this reliably.

Accomplished players know why I've asked you to do this things. There are a number of times in instances, where some one will ask a tank to tank this "right by the fire" or to "make sure he's not facing the party." The thing you absolutely do not want to do is learn those skills for the first time when someone asks. If you routinely practice these skills every few levels as you are coming up, it'll all be second nature.

Extra Points for the Advanced Student:
Just because this post is (ostensibly) about tanking & warriors doesn't mean you can't use it for your own class. Casters could try fights with less than full mana or by keeping an additional mob crowd controlled the whole time. Hunters could keep two mobs in combat, one who is being kited or chain trapped. Warlocks could perform similar things with a less favored minion. The important thing is you're using your skills in ways that help you later. And that you're remaining situationally aware.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - Warriors

Today I’m finalizing a new mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We finish today with Warriors.


Wow these dudes are hard to kill! Warriors just wind up having tons of hit points and lots of armor. The most successful I’ve been in dealing with them was killing them while they were focused on someone else. I keep my range and keep plugging away.

What to Watch for:

  • Charge (and Intercept) Stun can be removed with your trinket.
  • Warriors seem most susceptible of melee classes to being kited. Use your movement impairing abilities (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, Concussive Shot) to kite them.
  • Serpent Sting will do continuous damage to them. Scorpid Sting will lower their chance to hit (and thus crit).
  • Warriors are the most likely of melee classes to fall for a Feign.
  • Warriors that are being healed should have an aimed shot applied.
  • If you’re a dwarf, use Stone Form to stop damage from big bleeds.
  • At all costs, stay above 20% health. Going under 20% puts you in execute range.
  • If you're not using your traps to kite, Snake Trap may be quite effective against them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

That'll be 600 Gold Pieces

So, somehow I got the strange idea in my head that I should respec my warrior (some would say "Level 70 Banktoon" to protection and actually do something with him again. This idea was pitched at me Friday night. The offer was made to help me run some five mans to get some of the needed gear. This shady person (*cough* Owaru *cough*) also offered to help donate Felsteel for the three piece set for tanking.

So, bright and early Saturday morning, I found a tanking build I thought I could live with and checked my stocks of fel iron bars and eternium bars, smelted it up into felsteel and sent it off to Owaru. I gemmed up a few things, took stock of my lacking enchants, and looked at some things to run.

We started off in Steamvaults. Group: Brehm tanking, enhancement shaman, Owaru's mage, Owaru's lovely and talented wife's hunter (he's a damned lucky man), and Boon healing. There were a couple of dicey moments with big groups. Apparently multi-mob tanking for warriors hasn't gotten better :o) In the end, though, we made it through wipe free. Final boss dropped the warrior chest piece. Woot.

We then decided to head off to Arcatraz (Shaman still needed Kara frags). Unfortunately, our hunter, the ever popular Neshura, had to go and we began to PUG members. It's somewhere after the last fragment and the two funniest bosses in the game that a PUG Shadow Priest showed me that some folks never learn "When you get aggro run TOWARD the tank, not AWAY!"

We changed up the lineup a few more times, finally finishing with 2 mages, paladin healing, warlock and yours truly tanking. We actually wiped twice on the Gargantuan Abyssals because of some miscommunication. But in the end ANOTHER warrior Dungeon Set 3 piece was dropped, so I think the WoW gods were smiling.

Quickly on Sunday morning, I strapped on a two hander and headed out to finish some quests in Shadowmoon. After all that gemming, I am a little cash poor. I will have the bulk of the mats I need to get enchanted though, so I'm good. Although another lesson I'd almost forgotten was also hammered home-"Watching a prot warrior grind is like watching two old people have sex...kinda slow and not very interesting."

I know he's not ready to tank Karazhan, but he is pretty good for most of the five mans. And rep is what he needs more than anything.

PVP Tips & Tricks - Warlocks

Today I’m continuinga new mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Warlocks.

Dot. Fear. Dot. Fear. Dot. Fear. Yes, you’ll experience each of these. Warlocks are quite fond of either standing way back and dotting everyone, especially with Seed of Corruption or running in for the mass fear bomb. Either way, I’ve found Warlocks particularly troublesome in that quite often killing them comes at the cost of my death.

Things to Watch for:

  • Demon Armor/Fel Armor, Detect Invisibility and Unending Breath can all be dispelled by Arcane Shot.
  • If a warlock dies and leaves you all dotted, eating is (probably) enough to keep you alive through the dots.
  • You can feign death or freezing trap a warlock’s pet.
  • If you are Death Coiled, don’t trinket. Wait for the follow up fear to trinket.
  • When you are fighting a Warlock, check to see if he or she has a soul stone. If so, be prepared to fight them again.
  • Channeled leash spells (drain life, drain mana, drain soul) and channeled AOE spells (Rain of Fire, Hellfire) are both interruptible with Scatter Shot or Silencing Shot.
  • The voidwalker is almost never used as a pet.
  • If an imp is the warlock’s pet, it will die easily if it is attacking. If it’s not attacking it is phase-shifted.
  • If a succubus is the warlock’s pet, expect seductions. If you are seduced, send your pet to either the lock or its pet. The succubus is lightly armored and doesn’t have a lot of hitpoints.
  • If a fel hunter is the warlock’s pet, they will generally be fighting casters and using Spell Lock. Not many hunter abilities can be spell locked.
  • If a fel guard is the warlock’s pet, treat it as a hunter’s pet. That is, freezing trap or feign.
  • Warlocks are not generally as familiar with hunter abilities and may not realize they need to retarget us after we feign and send their pet.

Friday, March 14, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - Shamans

Today I’m continuinga new mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Shamans.

Shamans come in three pretty distinct flavors and it’s not always possible to tell what spec they are at a glance. Seeing two melee weapons (usually slowish maces) means Enhancement. The two casting types (Elemental and Restoration) will use either a staff or a one hander and a shield.

Things to watch for:

  • You can get an earth or fire elemental off of you by feigning.
  • If a shaman is healing, use silencing shot or scatter shot to interrupt. This is especially useful if the spell is Chain Heal.
  • Most shaman totems have very little health and are immune to AOE attacks. They must be single target killed. Auto Shot works wonderfully for this. Be aware that the Earth and Fire Elemental Totems have a ton of hit points.
  • An enhancement shaman will want to be into melee range with you. Such a shaman will use Frost Shock to help close the distance. Use your movement inhibiting effects (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, Concussive Shot) to prevent or minimize that.
  • Totem buffs cannot be removed with Arcane Shot. You must kill the totems instead.
  • Shamans have some rather shallow mana pools. A Viper Sting can help keep that shallow pool drained.
  • If you choose to use a Serpent Sting on a shaman, make sure to kill any Poison Cleansing Totems first. Shamans can also cleanse without the totem, but this is a single target cleanse.
  • Beware of tab-targeting with Auto Shot on. Shooting at an Earth or Fire Elemental Totem can draw its aggro.
  • If a shaman lays down new totems too quickly, kite them away from their totems. Most have a fairly limited range.
  • While Ghost Wolf form has fewer defenses and attacks, many Shamans will use that to run away. In this case, treat them like a fleeing druid. Concussive shot to slow them and keep them in range. If you are lone chasing a fleeing shaman, consider Aspect of the Cheetah to keep up.
  • (From Owaru) Earth shield is removable with Arcane Shot. Simply stripping this buff from a resto shaman will make them lose health much faster. The shaman will usually (but not always) apply this buff to themselves. Watch for it in a number of places.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - Rogue

Today I’m continuing the mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Rogues.

Rogues are sneaky buggers. A good rogue will fight on his (or her) terms and not on yours. Your primary goal when trying to kill these dudes is to shift the terms to your own. Stun will quite often be their primary means of locking you down, and if you can mitigate that, a rogue will sometimes not know how to deal with it.

Things to watch for:

  • You can trinket out of stun. Doing so and dropping a freezing trap can get you back to range.
  • Hunter’s Mark forces them to use Cloak of Shadows prior to vanishing. If you can catch them between the Cloak and Vanish and apply a Serpent Sting, you’ve just caused them to waste a cool down. The other thing to consider is that Cloak has a longish cool down (at least in the time frames associated with PVP) and it will not always be available to a rogue.
  • During fights where they aren’t vanishing, Scorpid Sting will cause them to miss more which translates to fewer crits.
  • Stoneform (if you’re a dwarf) removes poisons or bleed effects on you.
  • A pet on aggressive will sometimes spot a rogue in stealth before you do.
  • If you happen to see a stealthed rogue, a Scatter Shot can set you up for moving to range. Rogues hate range, hunters love it..
  • Evasion is a buff that can be Arcane Shotted off.
  • Kiting a rogue can work. Use your movement impairing (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, Concussive Shot) abilities to keep them at range.
  • When you have a rogue at distance, be prepared for them to Shadowstep, putting them instantly behind you. You won’t necessarily know they have this as there isn’t a good way to tell one rogue spec from another.
  • If a rogue saps or gouges you, don’t become paralyzed. Your pet is still able to lay the smack-down on the rogue.
  • Track hidden seems to work better if you’ve seen and/or targeted the rogue prior to them going into stealth. (I have no real evidence of this other than anecdotal.)
  • Feigning death sometimes fools the rogue allowing you to get up and freezing trap them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PVP TIps & Tricks - Priest

Today I’m continuing the mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Paladins(er, Priests. Yeah Priest. Thanks K!).


I generally don’t have many problems with priests. If they’re holy, they die fairly quickly and if they’re shadow, I die fairly quickly. Most often when I’m PVPing with my hunter I take it as my personal goal to interrupt the healers. While the healers are often paladins, priests fill this role quite often as well. Be aware that you’re not necessarily going to be able to differentiate between holy and discipline priests until you see particular spellcasts.

Things to watch for:

  • Priests have potentially a lot of buffs. Arcane shot them all.
  • If you are facing the hard to detect discipline priest you’ll be able to see Pain Suppression. This, along with Silent Resolve, gives a huge boost to resisting dispel attempts. Expect buffs to not disappear when facing a discipline priest.
  • Channeled spells (like Mind Flay) can be interrupted with Silencing Shot or Scatter Shot.
  • Priests who close distance with you are going to fear. Be ready. If you see a priest running into melee distance you know what to do. Scatter, Concussive, Frost Trap to keep them away from you.
  • A priest will almost always have a shield up. This too is a buff ready to be arcane shotted.
  • A Shadow Fiend that is freezing trapped returns no mana to its caster. And since Shadow Fiend has a short lifespan, one trap will take care of it.
  • The most effective sting for a priest is Viper Sting.
  • Save Silencing Shot to interrupt Greater Heals (if holy)
  • A priest can sometimes fade out of a pet attack. Be ready to send your pet back onto the priest.
  • Your Hunter’s Mark is dispel-able by a priest.
  • For holy priests, the best trap is a snake trap (especially with points in Survival) for the interrupts.
  • You cannot dispel the Shadowform buff with Arcane Shot.
  • Beware of being kited. A priest with shields, presence of mind, and renew can generally keep themselves upright for a while. If you’re kited far away from the battle, it’s not a forgone conclusion that you’ll return without a trip to the graveyard.
  • Since I’m writing as a Marksman hunter, I don’t have access to Bestial Wrath making my pet immune to fear. A priest getting beat on by a pet will generally fear them off if he can get them away.
  • My mana pool is about 80% of the size of my health pool. I find that quite often (non-shadow) priests will use mana burn on me. Watch out for this. It hurts and if you survive you’ll either need to drink if possible or run the less damage efficient

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My New Favorite Add-On

My interface used to look like this when opened my map in Nagrand. This character is my miner and Cartographer has dutifully recorded all the node locations I'd ever found (thankfully on any character). If I needed to get me some Adamantite Ore, so for instance, my engineer can craft some bullets, I used to try to mentally determine a decent path between the nodes, minimizing my searching time and yet trying to visit each known location to see if anything was up.

I had heard several weeks ago about an addendum to the Cartographer suite that would map a "best path" from node to node of various types to take the mental work out of flying around and farming up some Ore. The addon is called Cartographer-Routes and is available from the wowace site.

One Warning: Cartographer-Routes doesn't work standalone; it's a mod that relies on its internal Cartographer Data of known node locations.

After installing the addon, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

How was I supposed to make more raping the land of (and by that I mean "mining for") Adamantite more effective and efficient? What has been done here is that each node is connected to each other node, resulting in a myriad of connections like a Delta Flight Map or an intricate spiderweb. (Choose your analogy). The answer is, of course going back into the options and "optimizing" the route. This can be done either foreground or background. Also you can select the color of the route, whether to use waypoints, and a number of other options.

When that is finished, you wind up with this:

Now that is indicative of a land ready to be mined for its natural resources. I've not extensively tested this mod, but so far I like what I see. It works for herbs, fish and gas clouds as well. The only thing I've not found out how to do is eliminate a single "outlier" point that requires a flight out of the way to pick up a single possible node. For my purposes, I just deleted the note point that showed where the node was and the route got much better.

It does add points dynamically if you happen to see a new location not in your database and redraws the map on the fly. So far, it's all thumbs up!

PVP Tips & Tricks - Paladin

Today I’m continuing the mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Paladins.

Paladins come in exactly two flavors – chocolate & vanilla. No. I kid. The two flavors are the kind that are impossible to kill and those that kill you with all swiftness. No matter what I’ve called them. Both types are indeed killable. And since I always have to work extra hard to take them out, when they do go down it is especially satisfying. I guess what I’m saying is I like both chocolate AND vanilla.

Things to Watch for:

  • Few paladins in BGs are anything other than healers.
  • They will bubble. There’s not much you can do at this point unless a class that can deal with that pesky bubble is there with you.
  • Paladins are energizer bunnies as far as healing goes. Even so, no mana supply is inexhaustible. I keep a Viper Sting up on them at all times.
  • Auras cannot be dispelled. Blessings and Seals can.
  • Silence Shot any heals. The three seconds of silence can be used to scatter shot, aimed shot or arcane shot a buff.
  • Don’t attempt to preemptively apply scatters, aimed or stings to a paladin before the bubble. The bubble will strip most debuffs.
  • If you’re one on one, when the paladin bubbles, bandage. If the paladin notices, he or she may attempt to consecrate and prevent you bandaging. However, if he’s running to your location, he’s also not healing. Also, paladins are unlikely to bubble unless they’re in danger of dying.
  • Since the very act of bubbling will strip debuffs from the paladin, aimed shot is better used on the paladin’s healing target.
  • Your Hunter’s Mark is cleansable by a paladin.
  • A paladin will likely consecrate the ground they’re standing on and run auras that cause reflective damage. You may be better off putting your pet somewhere else other than on the paladin. The combined auras & consecrate will kill the poor pet pretty quickly

Monday, March 10, 2008

Interlude - Now that you've dinged

BBB wrote today about how Mrs. BBB dinged 70 and feels there's nothing left to do solo anymore. Just to give a little insight into what I have done since dinging...

  • Grind Consortium Reputation. You can choose to either kill ogres in Nagrand for their war beads which the Consortium guys are happy to take or kill the Ethereal dudes just south of Area 52 in Netherstorm.
  • Finish quests. If the ding actually occurred last week, there is probably a whole zone's worth of quests to see to. Many of them will be solo-able. There's good money there until you hit the group quests.
  • Grind Scryer (or Aldor) Reputation. There are just a ton of mobs that will drop the Signets or Marks you need not to mention Arcane Tomes and Fel Armaments.
  • Work on Tradeskills. Don't forget also your secondaries like cooking, fishing and first aid.
  • Primals, Primals, Primals. There's a good market and many will be needed for crafting and enchanting.
  • Grind recipes. There are a number of BOP recipes for a number of trades that drop from specific mobs in the wild. Find out where they are and begin committing genocide until they drop what you need.
  • Since Mrs. BBB is a rogue, grind lockpicking up until 350 (if it's not already there)
That's just a short list. Hope some of it helped

PVP Tips & Tricks - Mage

Today I’m continuing the mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. During the series, I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Mages.

I hate fighting mages. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I thoroughly enjoy standing far away from a mage and plunking them full of lead (or arrows if I used a bow). What I don’t like is when the mage notices that he’s turning into a sieve and turns his or her attention to me.

Things to watch for:

  • Ice mages (the only kind I ever find in BGs) will specialize at locking you down and killing you. If you break free, they’ll kite you. Don’t follow an ice mage to your death.
  • Don’t rely on a mage’s cool downs, especially in frost. Cold Snap refreshes the cool down period on most frost spells.
  • If you’re facing a fire mage, you must remove a buff with Arcane Shot every chance you get. Presence of Mind allows instant cast pyroblasts, and these hurt a lot.
  • Use your trinket to get out of the first frost nova then don’t let them get close to you again.
  • Silencing shot when it’s up. It’s better to silence something worthwhile (like a Pyroblast) or anything in the main tree, which is probably frost.
  • Scatter shot can put them out of commission long enough to get an aimed shot off.
  • Generally, Viper Sting isn’t going to drain enough mana to make it worthwhile. I tend to stick with Serpent Sting to keep the damage trickling in.
  • Feign Death will deselect you as a target and get an elemental off of you.
  • While resilience is important in all PVP, mage crits can get disgustingly big. If you’re gunning for mages, get all of this you can.
  • Mages don’t have a ton of HP normally and only wear cloth. If you can get the drop on them, you can burst DPS them down.
  • Mages generally blink after they ice block. However, dropping a freezing trap at their feet while ice-blocked can sometimes trap them.
  • Fire and Arcane mages won’t kite you. They want to be close to you to capitalize on their short cast point-blank spells. Blast Wave at least also has a stun component. For these types of mages, use the strategy for melee types. Employ your movement impairing effects (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, and Concussive Shot) and keep them at range.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - Hunters

Today I’m continuing the mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. During the series, I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We continue today with Hunters.

The mirror-match is always exciting. You should expect hunters to know your class inside and out. The winner of this battle will often be the hunter who knows the class better. Even if both hunters know the class equally well, the hunter who understands the difference in the specs will more often than not be victorious. As a Marksman hunter, you should know what to look for from both the populous Beast Mastery Hunter and less known Survival Hunter.
Things to watch for:

  • Feign Death will cause an attacking pet to disengage. It will also deselect them as your target. Watch for this and get the pet back on them as soon as possible.
  • Frost Trap will lock your pet in place (this is either immediately before or immediately after the feign)
  • If you run into a BM hunter, the only way to deal with Bestial Wrath (i.e. Big Red Dinosaur) is to feign. Trapping will not work.
  • If you’re a dwarf (like me), Stoneform will get rid of Serpent Sting. The sting you use is situational. I like Scorpid Sting for the hit rating debuff. Serpent Sting keeps a poison debuff ticking away and Viper Sting can drain their normally smaller mana pools.
  • Hunters generally aren’t getting healed much in BGs, so Aimed Shot is wasted on them. If they are BM spec, it may make sense on their pet since the mend pet will then be cut in half.
  • Neither aspects nor auras are removable with Arcane Shot.
  • Feign Death can also get the snakes from a snake trap off of you. However, they may quickly reacquire you as a target.
  • Survival Hunters have a chance to get an immobilization component with their traps.
  • The 41-point Survival Talent is Wyvern Sting. This puts the target to sleep for 12 seconds and applies a DOT after the sleep expires.
  • If a Survival Hunter recognizes you as Marksman, he or she may attempt to close to melee. In that case, use immobilizing tricks (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, and Concussive Shot) and treat them like another melee class. Most hunters will be very content to stay at range though.
  • Because of the tree, expect Survival Hunters to have more health than other hunters.
  • Since the pet’s damage is such a large component of a BM Hunter’s attack, the pet can actually kill you all on its own. You must keep a BM hunter in range of your attacks at all times.

Friday, March 7, 2008

PVP Tips & Tricks - Druid

Today I’m starting a mini-series of PVP from the viewpoint of the Marksman Hunter. During the series, I’ll cover each class and what you should look for each of them to do. We start today with Druids.

A battle with a druid will almost never be boring. Druids as a class are used to adapting their play style to the situation. They know when to go to bear and tank three mobs. They know when to pop out of animal form and entangle. As such, the fight will never feel scripted or formulaic. Expect a druid to react to what you do. If you don’t react to them, the battle will be over shortly and you’ll be the one waiting on the AOE rez near the Mage Tower.

Things to watch for:

  • Druids can hibernate your pet. While a MM doesn't have a huge reliance on pet damage, any kind of interruption they offer can help. A druid can take your pet out of the game for 12 seconds.
  • Druids will cast Entangling Roots on you or your pet. This will be to either neutralize the interruption from the pet or lock you in place to get inside your range.
  • You can kite a bear druid with your various slowing abilities. Most druids don't fall for this as long as other melee counterparts will
  • A pet on aggressive will often detect a prowling druid before you do.
  • Both of the Druid HOTs are buffs and strippable with arcane shot.
  • Feral druids won’t have as much mana as resto druids. Keeping a Serpent Sting up will consume their mana if they dispel it and their health if they don’t.
  • Many druids are masters of switching forms in PVP. The bear, dire bear, cat and travel forms of druids are considered beasts and are vulnerable to Fear Beast.
  • Feral druids will want to be in melee with you. Use your movement impairing abilities (Wing Clip, Frost Trap, Scatter Shot, and Concussive Shot) and get back to range.
  • Druids in Moonkin form will be busy little casters. Interrupt their casts with your abilities and get the pet on them. Moonkin will have deeper mana pools than feral types, but with less than ideal itemization may wind up wearing a bunch of cloth pieces. This lowers their armor and can make beating them a little easier.
  • Druids in cat form can Track Humanoids. If you suspect this, you can switch to Aspect of the Beast.
  • Cyclone will take your pet, or more likely you, out of the battle for six seconds. Cyclone has diminishing returns if continually applied to the same target.
  • If a druid is healing someone, you can interrupt with Scatter Shot or Silencing Shot (unless it’s an instant).
  • When the battle is going against them, most druids will run. Look for the shift to travel form or cat form. A concussive shot can allow a dashing raptor or cat to catch up.
  • Feigning death sometimes fools the druid allowing you to get up and freezing trap them. Druids tend to fall for this gimmick less than other melee classes.
  • Leader of the Pack cannot be removed by Arcane Shot. If a feral druid crits you with this buff, they will heal.
  • Druids have no good way of removing Hunter’s Mark. They cannot stealth while marked.
  • If a feral druid does manage to close to melee, switch your aspect to Aspect of the Monkey for the increased dodge.
  • Pounce is an opening move from stealth that stuns. Generally the druid uses the stun to set up a high damage attack from behind. If you trinket out of the stun, you can eliminate the high damage attack that is planned.
  • A feral druid can also use Feral Charge to close the gap with you. This ability also has a root effect. This is a good candidate for using your trinket.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


When Burning Crusade was about to come out, I remember there being a lot of QQing over the fact that the Alliance was getting Shamans and the Horde was getting access to Paladins. I also distinctly remember someone from Blizzard saying that since the classes were once available only to one faction (each) that the two classes had moved closer and closer to one another thematically for balance. Blizzard (or at least the alleged representative I recall) seemed excited that for once they'd be able to move these classes further apart so that they could be more thematically accurate.

A year has gone by. What evidence do we have that they've done just that?

To my unpracticed eye (my alt shaman is 29, my alt paladin is 8), I don't see much evidence. Not having played Horde much prior to BC, I can't say I'm an expert on Shamans. I can't really relate how they've changed since BC. I know in the little PVP I did prior to BC that they seemed to kill any of my characters with relative ease. Now that we're both 10 levels higher, shamans don't strike the fear that they once did. I mean, it's not like "Ohnoes. Run! It's a Shaman." Rather, I'm more like, "Okay, dead shaman coming up." All this says, is that to my unpracticed eye, this appears that most shamans still carry bruises from being beaten with the nerfbat. And reading over the changes it seems my analysis is mostly correct.

Paladins on the other hand have been greatly enhanced. The only viable spec for Paladins back in the day was holy. The added 10 levels have only allowed them to shine even more in this regard. The retooled trees also allowed them to effectively tank. And with recent changes, it seems like all three of their trees will be viable.

So, if by buffing paladins and nerfing shamans, Blizzard feels that they've thematically shifted the classes to where they belong, I think they've succeeded.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Bad Instance

I'm not going to talk about a particular bad instance. I don't think that the same instance is most hated, or worst, or whatever for everyone. I think, instead, that there are things about instances that contribute to their "suck factor." I'm going to try to list some of the factors and instances that are strong candidates for sucking in that way.

  1. Confusing Layout - It's hard to find your way in instances that are essentially circular. I can generally keep a pretty good mental map of an instance until I run in circles.. If those circles just happen to be in the form of ramps or staircases, you're quickly descending (hah! I pun) into the realm of circular maps with multiple overlapping levels. The sort of place that makes even the most die-hard orienteer crazy. You need look no further than say Gnomeregan or Sunken Temple to find this sort of layout. For an example of non-circular but nonetheless confusing, look to Mauradon. Wailing Caverns is also sort of weird in a semi-circular layout.
  2. Too Long - We admit it. We're spoiled by instances that can be completed in two hours. We don't like spending our lives in a five-man. It's definitely high on the suck-fest quotient to make us go into long instances more than once to complete quests. This is most notable for the non-winged winged dungeons. I'm speaking of those places where you can go to various areas of the instance once inside but that are not separate entrances themselves. Look at instances like Blackrock Depths which has several ways to go all of which can be a longish dungeon crawl all by themselves or the two distinct halves of Mauradon. Even some low level instances (*cough* Gnomeregan) can be might long at level.
  3. Midde of Nowhere - These dungeons lovingly crafted are far from flight paths. While these can vary highly by faction, some offenders for the Alliance are: Mauradon, Dire Maul, Sunken Temple, and any of the three in The Barrens (Razorfen Downs, Razorfen Kraul, and Wailing Caverns). In fact the Razorfen instances are not close to Horde Flight Paths either. If it weren't for the transporter in Ratchet, Gnomeregan is way far for Horde and The Deadmines is a trek as well. Uldaman is inconveniently located for both Horde & Alliance, but I think Horde has it worse.
  4. The Graveyard is WHERE?!?!? - Wipes happen. Which means one (or more) of you is going to have to run back and accomplish the rezzing. Blackrock Depths and Blackrock Spire are both a HAUL back to the graveyard at Thorium Point. Before Blizzard removed the auto 6 minute release, it was nearly impossible to not run if you died in BRD. By the time someone got back, you had almost always autoreleased. And while not a five man, the starter raid Zul'Gurub fits this bill. It seems that with Outland, Blizzard mostly learned this lesson, however, the ghost walk to Coilfang is still tedious.
  5. Why can't I go there? - Only two instances, and admittedly low level ones, are located inside capital cities. But Alliance can't easily go to Ragefire Chasm and likewise for Horde and The Stockades. By rights, these should be just outside the cities making them visitable, albeit challenging on PVP servers.
  6. Poor Crowd Control Options - Anytime there is a dearth of humanoids, CC options become fewer. Usually this is made up for by substituting beasts or undead which still allow shackle & sheep (or hibernate). However, sometimes even those are passed over in favor of other non-CCable suckfests. Look at Mauradon (with its plants and elementals) and Dire Maul (with its plants and demons). Luckily, two often underutilized CC classes (Hunters and Warlocks) shine here. But your mages will quickly top threat meters without sheeping to attend to.
  7. Poor Cost to Effort Ratio - With the advent of the Burning Crusade, many dungeons fell quickly into this category. The effort of doing a level 60 instance for substandard blues just became not worth it. Doing just a few (starter) quests in Outland will give you rewards that FAR outshine anything in there (even the epics). And here the list is long, Blackrock Spire, Scholomance, Stratholme, Dire Maul, and even BRD and Sunken Temple. I've even heard it said in my guild that raids like Zul'Aman fall into this category.
So, that's what I think kinda makes instances less appealing. I'm sure I've missed something, and I find it rather dismaying that my personal favorite instance, BRD, is actually high on the suck meter. But it that's what my analysis shows.