Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Too Much to Do

'm beginning to feel like there really is too much to do in just a single day. Blizzard has wisely limited us to completing only twenty-five daily quests in a day. But how does this break itself down? I can only answer for myself but here's the quests I can't seem to get completed in a single evening of play:

  1. Daily Cooking Quest - I will admit I've not been as religious about doing this one as I once was. The problem I have with it is the time of day I'm forced to do it. Since I need a "real" job to support my WoW, I don't get online until about 5 PM. At this time of day there are dozens, nay dozens of dozens, of people doing this quest. And Blizzard in perhaps the biggest boneheaded move of the expansion made almost every one of these quest rely on ground spawns in and around Dalaran. There is enough vitriol in me to make this a fully-fledged post on its own. Look for it in the near future.
  2. Daily Jewelcrafting Quest - I believe the jewelcrafters are the only poor souls to have one of their (limited) daily quest slots taken up by their craft. And I've written before about how much all of these quests suck.
  3. Argent Crusade Quests (5) in Zul'Drak - These become abailable after you finish Pa'Troll the first time. The objectives for Pa'Troll are to finish four other quests. There is even an additional reward for completing them all in under twenty minutes. My hunter is really needing the epic chest piece reward from being exalted, so this is definitely on the list.
  4. Wyrmrest Accord - Protecting the temple. Honestly it is hard enough to get this bugger done at all with all the competition in the area for the mobs. All I generally see are the tapped mobs and I have to search for things I can get credit for. I wouldn't even try it in under 2 minutes 30 seconds. Although, Schaden did it. Gratz to him.
  5. Kalu'ak Quests (3) in Howling Fjord, Dragonblight and Borean Tundra - All of these are pretty simple and don't take much time individually. The travel time between the three areas is not short by any means though. And once I have the fishing pole and the Pengu, I'll probably not visit them again.
  6. Sons of Hodir (2-5) in Storm Peaks - These quests open up as you complete other quests for the Sons of Hodir and as your reputation increases. For many of the quests, you'll do a "starter" quest to establish an item in the phased Sons of Hodir headquarters (an anvil, a horn, a spear, etc.) From that point on, each of these objects will have a daily quest. This is a very important faction to build up as quickly as possible. They have the only new shoulder enchants in the game. The honored level enchants are equivalent (roughly) to the exalted Aldor/Scryer enchants. While it may be acceptable to use the Aldor/Scryer versions until the Sons rep grows, after reaching at least honored, these are better as they don't take the arcane runes/holy dust (8 of the appropriate one for the exalted enchant) but instead only cost cash. Regrettably, this faction cannot be increased by wearing a tabard because there isn't one.
  7. Knights of the Ebon Blade in Icecrown - I don't have an exact number of these, but I'm guessing its at least four. Valuable if your KotEB rep needs a shot in the arm, but for me they are lower priority since the exalted rewards aren't as worth it for a mail-wearing non-casting DPSer.
  8. Frenzyheart/Oracles (3) in Sholazar Basin - I don't know why I even mention the puppy-men since it seems everyone is doing the Oracles quests in the hope for a green protodrake mount from the mysterious egg. These, at least, have achievements associated -- One for doing all 8 possible Big-tongue Quests, one for doing all 8 possible Puppy-men Quests, and one for being exalted with both factions (Obviously can't be done at the same time since they have inverse faction gains).
  9. PVP Dailies in Grizzly Hills - I don't know precisely how many there are or even what faction they grant. This far down on the list and I'm rapidly losing my patience. I'm fairly certain there are four quests that are available though.
  10. Valiance Expedition - I can't speak for the Horde half of these quests. I'm certain there are analogs to the Alliance Version. But I know of one in Howling Fjord (bombing pirates) and a decent number in Icecrown. Hell, half the Icecrown quests seem to turn into dailies. The other half, of course, are used for phasing in the final version of the map.
  11. Daily Battleground - Yeah. Right.
  12. Daily Dungeon & Daily Heroic Dungeon - Even with the shorter (and easier) WOTLK dungeons, The odds of doing this AND the other dailies is out of the question. The rewards are nice however, the daily grants tokens for 250 rep with Argent Crusade, Knights of the Ebon Blade, Kirin Tor or Wyrmrest Accord. The heroic grants badges (Yes, I still call them badges).

So, at a conservative estimate that's 31 quests. No wonder I can't complete them all in a day. Seriously though, if I do even the daily dungeon & heroic dungeon I've no time for others. If I only do one dungeon (and who would do heroic Occulus after the first time?) I may have time for the Sons, Kalu'ak and Jewelcrafting. If I do neither dungeon, I'm apt to do Argent Crusade and the Sholazar as well. At any rate, I'm on daily quest overload!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Character Reconstruction

Blizzard introduced character reconstruction a few weeks ago. This is the paid service to change all the cosmetic details about your character even the ones that can't be performed in a barber's chair. To the point that even the gender, facial features and piercings/tattoos can be changed. For me, this is not a service that makes sense. When I build a character, I think carefully about the gender of the character, the name and even the hairstyles and faces. I've made only a few changes to select characters at the barber shop. For me, this service isn't necessary.

I mean, I have a pretty recognizable theme going on as far as naming conventions goes. I started with the root of *brem* and modify spellings, add suffixes, add infixes, add prefixes (although I've not done this yet) and have a new name. The sad truth, here are my characters: Bremm, Brem, Brehm, Bremagorn, Bremette, Bremador, Bremstar, Bremmie, Bremma, and Bremtanica. That's 10. If there's a "brem" online in my guild -- It's me. And I've chosen genders (only two females) very carefully. Bremette (the gnome warlock) is female because I wanted the poofy pigtails and Bremma (the draenei shaman) is female because the male draenei just turn me off. So that's that.

And if Blizzard is truly going to offer gender reassignment, shouldn't they make the characters live for a year as the opposite gender?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

From Billowy Face Melter to ...

Healbot. Ugh. I've gone ahead and made a concession (for the time being only) for my guild. I'm the only priest at level 80 in my guild. I levelled (apart from the sporadic instance or group quest) alone. I've ground and fought and face-melted my way to the maximum level. I've carefully collected gear along the way to help me DPS endgame. I've disenchanted countless "healer" pieces along the way.

And now I've volunteered to heal (at least for a bit). It was a calculated decision. After waiting around in Dalaran for a number of consecutive nights with all of a group except a healer and then never actually going anywhere, the solution seemed obvious. I needed to provide a healer (if I could) to my guild. I also decided to offer rather than be asked. Now, in my guild, I'd probably NEVER be forced (or even asked) to respec. But to me, it was better to offer to heal rather than be asked. Additionally, by it being "my idea" to heal, it can also be "my idea" to go back to shadow.

So, I've begun to look at gear with Spirit or Mana Per Five in a new light. I've re-enchanted and re-gemmed some gear. I've rolled on things that were only moderate DPS upgrades, but allowed better sustained healing. And I actually downloaded (but haven't completely configured) a healing addon (Healbot).

My first several attempts at healing (pre-Healbot) were just this side of disastrous. I've not played a healing role for close to six months. I am, perhaps, just a tad rusty. And I had just a few issues with my UI as it's currently set up. When I tried healing "by hand" I was often a little too slow on key heals. Most of it was practice, but some of it was bad set up of my interface for healing.

After downloading Healbot, I didn't trust it (completely) and was getting used to spell rotations. I found it MUCH easier to cast most heals, but when it got really hectic I went back to the manual healing. After a couple runs where my healing was just bad, I embraced the healbot. On my first several runs, I healed things I know I couldn't have done a few days before. It was a lot easier to keep up, keep folks topped off and not let the tank drop like a rhino on a bungee jump.

I really miss the billowy, face-melty part...I'll be back Shadowform!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is Your Aim TOO Good?

I've written a couple posts lately about hit rating and what the caps are. I should've been more clear, perhaps, that these are raiding hit caps. If what you're doing is running heroics or running normal five-mans, these hit rating caps are WAY TOO HIGH! You're wasting valuable itemization points by overcapping hit rating. For my hunter, I've swapped out the two one-handed swords (from Wyrmrest) and their 66 hit rating for a polearm with no hit rating. The extra hit rating from the swords is only relevant once I'm doing raids. Since I'm not yet raiding, I can afford to swap those for a polearm giving me a little more in the way of stats and crit rating. That's caused my DPS to go up some on the heroics. And I know I still have the gear which I can swap into to raid.

I've never maintained multiple PVE gear sets on my hunter, and only did so half-heartedly for other classes. I kept a (substandard) set of DPS gear for my warrior tank. I kept a few pieces of "dps gear" on my holy priest, but that became not as critical once +healing started adding to +spelldamage. And now, with the conversion of all of that to spellpower, it's even less crucial. I did have the beginnings of PVP sets for both the hunter and holy priest (resilience FTW) but neither was even close to complete.

So, until I actually get some gear and make some decisions about what I'm keeping and what I'm not keeping, my entire backpack is filled with gear I may use - but probably won't. And with hunter bagspace at a premium, it's not a practice I'm sure I can support for much longer.

The message really is to know what sort of hit rating you need to cover the content you're doing. For some classes (shadow priest, boomkin) you should be able to do heroics without any hit rating. But by gum, make sure you're not totally over hit-capped. You'll just be gimping your own DPS.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Daily Grind - Jewelcrafting

There are several methods that Blizzard has adopted for crafter-types to learn the higher level recipes. For some you just buy them, for some you trade items associated with the trade (leather or shards) for the recipes, and for some you do daily quests.

Daily profession quests were introduced way back in Burning Crusade (cooking first and then fishing) so it is not a new concept. But what I'm going to talk a little about today is the daily quests associated with Jewelcrafting.

Before I go into the specifics, I'm going to take a small moment and whine. I hate these quests. I'm almost never planning to go to the sorts of places that the required items will drop and I'm forced to go out of my way to finish a daily quest. It's also not the sort of thing I can think about on the bus ride home, like "Hey. Maybe I'll do Skettis & Ogri'la today instead of the Island." Instead, I can go pick up the quest and the quest giver can tell ME where to go. I usually try to minimize travel times from Dalaran (Sholazar is over 6 minutes by air) so that I can get back to what I want to do.

At least, in general, the drop rates on the daily quest items isn't too bad. The thing I really object to is that recipes run from 2 tokens to 6 tokens in price. Assuming you only miss one day a week ever, you're only going to be learning between 1 and 3 recipes a week. And they are almost always yellow recipes at best. Sometimes they're even green or grey!

So here are the quests:

Blood Jade Amulet: This requires a Dark Jade and a Bloodstone from your stash and a drop from Vrykul all over Northrend. Since my jewelcrafter is level 80, I tend to head out to Storm Peaks for the Sons of Hodir rep anyway and you can't swing a dead cat around on a string without running into some Vrykul out there. Howling Fjord is also rife with Vrykul as well as southwest Grizzly Hills. Icecrown also has several Vrykul towns. My good friend over at You Wake It, has told me that there are no less than 4 static JC pattern drops in Storm Peaks so that might be the place to hit for this.

Bright Armor Relic: This requires a Bloodstone and a Huge Citrine from your stash and a drop from Elementals all over Northrend. There are elementals (both ice/earth and fire) in the vicinity of Dun Niffelem in the Storm Peaks that will drop this piece. My other favorite place is the volcano in Sholazar Basin (since the Saronite is plentiful in that zone.) There are also a whole slew of lower level elementals in Borean Tundra on the border with Sholazar if you're in that zone for some reason.

Glowing Ivory Figurine: This one needs a Shadow Crystal and a Chalcedony from your stash as well as a drop from a Shoveltusk from Northrend. The shoveltusk are pretty much restricted to Howling Fjord or the eastern side of Grizzly Hills. It seems like this one is just going to force you to a much too low zone to complete.

Intricate Bone Figurine: This one requires a Chalcedony, a Dark Jade and a proto-dragon bone. The bone comes from Proto-Dragons all over Northrend. There is a burning glade in both Howling Fjord and Sholazar Basin. In addition to these, you'll find these buggers in Storm Peaks, but at a much higher level.

Shifting Sun Curio: Yet another two gems required from you (this time a Sun Crystal and a Shadow Crystal) and a drop from Scourge. Now, if I have to tell you where to find Scourge then you've not actually played the expansion. They're everywhere. There are crash landed ziggurats in Zul'Drak and Borean Tundra. There are whole camps of them in Howling Fjord. They're attacking various dragon shrines in Dragonblight, not to mention menacing a town just below Naxxramas. They've invaded a mine in Grizzly Hills. They are snowboarding down an avalanche into Sholazar. And Ice Crown is just chock full of them. Finding Scourge shouldn't be a problem.

Wicked Sun Brooch: The last of the six quests requires a Huge Citrine, a Sun Crystal and a drop from Iron Dwarfs. These will come from Howling Fjord, Grizzly Hills or Storm Peaks. I like the gully in Grizzly Hills, especially now that I can strafe them on flying mount.

And that's it for the daily quest. The final one I have to mention comes from a pretty rare drop from about any mob level 77 or higher. The item, a damaged necklace, isn't soulbound and may be traded or sold. It requires you turn that in, with a Chalcedony for a free JC Token.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hit Rating for Casters (redux)

Let's call this the "Bremm is an Idiot" version.

There were some errors in yesterday's posting. Some fairly major ones, but I hope to rectify most of them today.

First of all, Balance of Power (the Balance Talent) actually has two ranks and each rank increases the hit rating of spells by 2%, for a net 4% gain to hit rating for druids. There is, additionally, a Tier 7 Balance Talent (Improved Faerie Fire) which increases spell hit by 1%/rank with 3 ranks. This nets an additional 3% hit rating. To my unpracticed eye, this appears to not be restricted merely to the druid who casts it, but applies for anybody casting against that target. Druids should keep this up at all times.

Additionally, Shadow Priests should spec into Misery (Tier 7 Shadow Talent) which increases harmful spell hit against the target by 1%/rank with 3 ranks. This appears to work exactly like Improved Faerie Fire but with the new stacking mechanics won't stack with IFF.

Thus, if there is either a Balance Druid or a Shadow Priest and they are properly specced, they will provide 3% of the hit rating needed by casters.

So, the end result is

  • Druids need 10% to hit (or 262 hit rating) or 9% with a draenei in the party (236 hit rating)
  • Mages, Warlocks and Shamans need 11% to hit (or 289 hit rating) with a boomkin or shadow priest in the party. They need 14% hit rating (or 367 hit rating) without. The draenei racial will grant 1% (or 26.23 hit rating) less needed.
  • Shadow Priests need 11% to hit (289 hit rating) or 10% (262 hit rating) with a draenei in the party.
The numbers are a little nicer to look at, but it's still no picnic.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hit Rating for Casters - The Sad Truth

I have good news and bad news for the casters in the group! Let's start with the good news.

The Good News
Prior to the 3.0 patch (which prepared us for the WOTLK expansion) there was a built-in one percent miss chance for any spell you cast. That means, at most ninety-nine percent of your spells hit when you cast them. The 3.0 patch removed that very small chance to miss

The Bad News
Casters must now make up that extra one percent chance to miss to achieve maximum raid efficiency.

So, for the offensive casters (Mages, Shadow Priests, Elemental Shamans, Balance Druids, and Warlocks) you need to achieve 17% total hit rating to never miss a target up to 3 levels above you--such as a raid boss. Since it takes 26.23 hit rating (at level 80) to equal one percent hit rating this would mean you'd need 445 hit rating to never miss.

But it's not that dire. Every offensive caster class has skills in their trees to increase hit rating. For instance:

  • Druids have a Tier 6 Balance Talent (Balance of Power) that will increase their chance to hit with balance spells by 2%
  • Mages have a Tier 1 Arcane Talent (Arcane Focus) that will increase their chance to hit with arcane spells by 3%
  • Mages also have a Tier 2 Frost Talent (Elemental Precision) that will increase their chance to hit with frost or fire spells by 3%
  • Priests have a Tier 2 Shadow Talent (Shadow Focus) that will increase their chance to hit with shadow spells by 3%
  • Shamans have a Tier 6 Elemental Talent (Elemental Precision) that will increase their chance to hit with their spells by 3%
  • Warlocks have a Tier 1 Affliction Talent (Suppression) that will increase their chance to hit with affliction spells by 3%
  • Warlocks have a Tier 2 Destruction Talent (Cataclysm) that will increase their chance to hit with destruction spells by 3%.
So, for any caster (except Druids who apparently got screwed) that is properly specced you need only 14% (Druids 15%). At 26.23 hit rating for each one percent, that is 368 hit rating (Druids 394).

The Alliance has even better news in store! Draenei have a racial skill (Heroic Presence) that increases the chance to hit by 1%, so if you're a dwarf, gnome, human or night elf that will always have a draenei in your group, you can let your hit percentage drop to 13% (14% for Druids) to a mere 341 hit rating (368 for druids). Be warned this is A LOT of hit rating to go for especially pre-raid gear. Trust me.

And where is all that hit rating going to come from? Well, consider foods, gems, and enchants. They will all significantly boost hit rating. But where it all comes from is a topic best saved for another day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh! And One More Thing ...

It's fun to get a nice BOE world drop. They usually sell for several thousand gold.

It's even nicer to have one drop that you can use and somehow win the roll for it. (BOE status notwithstanding, if an item is a clear upgrade for me, I'm going to press NEED).

It's nicer yet to be in an all guild run with the Signet of Edward the Odd drops, be able to use it, and have your guild mates insist that you take it.

I suppose it would be nicer yet to get the needy or greedy achievement, but this I don't know about yet.

What's in your Pants (WOTLK Style)? -and- Is that a Giant Bug on your Back?

It's time to revisit one of my favorite posts from last year (and to add to it another shortish topic). With the new expansion we have even more exciting things to put into our pants. Let's talk about the new leg armors and spellthreads we have with Wrath.

Leg Permanent Enchants

In the tailoring arena, we have four new spellthreads. Each of these create items that can be sold or traded and can be applied by anyone (of appropriate level). The first two are taught by any tailoring trainer in Northrend. The others require reputation.
  1. Shining Spellthread This requires tailoring of 385 to learn from any tailoring trainer. This looks like the healer (or shadowpriest) variety of spellthread.
  2. Azure Spellthread This requires tailoring of 395 to learn from any tailoring trainer. To me, this appears as the offensive caster variety.
  3. Brilliant Spellthread This requires tailoring of  430. But that's not the tough part. It also requires exalted faction with the Argent Crusade. Better wear a tabard if you want to make this.
  4. Sapphire Spellthread This spellthread also requires tailoring of 430. It's the "grown up" version of the Azure Spellthread. Best yet, it requires exalted faction with the Kirin Tor. Again, a taBoldbard is in order.
In leatherworking, we also have four new leg armors (actually six if you count the armor kits that can go on legs). Again, these armors can be used by anyone and freely traded and sold. Don't try to use these to "twink" low level characters those. These can only be applied to your own pants. If they are applied by a generous high level character to an non-soulbound item, the item will become bound to the applier.
  1. Nerubian Leg Armor This requires 400 leatherworking to make and is available at all Northrend trainers. This is preferable to the tanking types.
  2. Jormungar Leg Armor Just five points higher in leatherworking and still available at all trainers. This is the one for melee damage classes (and hunters).
  3. Frosthide Leg Armor This is the "grown up" version of the Nerubian Leg Armor. It requires 425 leatherworking and is available at all Northrend Trainers. Unlike the better spellthreads which require faction to obtain the recipe, these do not. However, this (and the next) leg armor requires level 80 to apply. The exalted tailoring spellthreads only require level 70.
  4. Icescale Leg Armor This is the better version of the Jormungar Leg Armor. It also requires 425 leatherworking to make with the pattern freely available at Northrend trainers
  5. Borean Armor Kit This can be applied to chest, legs, hands or feet slots and so technically is a leg enchant. It takes only 350 leatherworking to make.
  6. Heavy Borean Armor Kit This is the better version of the Borean Armor Kit above. It takes 375 leatherworking to make.
Back Permanent Enchants

These enchantments can only be applied to the tailors own cloak. I guess this is the parallel to enchanters being able to enchant their own rings (but no one else's). They each require a tailoring of 420. I'm really feeling like Blizzard missed the boat on at least one of these (potentially all of them). You'll see what I mean as we explore them.
  1. Darkglow Embroidery This emboridery has a chance to restore 300 mana on spellcast
  2. Lightweave Embroidery This embroidery has a chance to inflict 1000-1200 holy damange when you damage an enemy with a spell.
  3. Swordguard Embroidery This embroidery has a chance to increase your attack power by 300 for 15 seconds when you do damage with a melee attack.
First of all, these embroideries do not stack with regular cloak enchants. Applying them will overwrite the enchant you do have on there (spell haste, protection, subtlety, etc.). In my opinion, the regular cloak enchants are superior to these rather lackluster abilities. At least the first two fit with the classes that tend to level tailoring however (clothies). I can't think of many reasons for someone who deals mainly melee damage (warriors, protection and retribution paladins, enhancement shamans, rogues and deathknights) to level tailoring. Granted, a tailor of any class can always make bags and now can craft a flying carpet. The swordguard embroidery seems rather substandard as a tailor-only perk for them.