Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gear Reset and Whining.

I know I haven't posted in a long time, but I feel like I have to weigh in on something that bothers me. Patch 3.2 is going live today. Along with that, all the instances that dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor will begin dropping Emblems of Conquest. Also, bosses in the new Crusader's Colliseum various raid dungeons will begin dropping a new type of emblem, the Emblem of Triumph. Emblems of heroism and valor will be going away, though the vendors selling items for these tokens will remain since you can still exchange higher level tokens for lower level ones on a one-to-one basis (Conquest-->Valor-->Heroism).

This change introduces a miniature gear reset for players that have not been able to raid thus far in Wrath, or for those whose raids did not appreciably advance in lower level dungeons, since they will be able to collect emblems of conquest from things as simple as Heroic 5-man dungeons and turn them in for ilvl 226 epic gear (equal to items that drop in 25-man Ulduar) which was, up until today, the best gear in the game. This will allow characters to gear up relatively painlessly and experience much of the new content that Blizzard is introducing.

When this feature was first announced a few weeks ago, the forums were inundated with posts from angry raiders that ranted about how their achievements were now worth nothing since now nubs would be able to have equivalent gear to them.

Here's a little personal disclaimer: I describe myself as a raider and an altaholic. That is the bulk of what I do in the game. I have seen every boss in the game and defeated all but a few of them (have never killed C'thun or Kil'Jaeden). I enjoy raiding. I enjoy the camaraderie of it, the challenge, the organizational aspects as well as the coordination and fine tuning that goes with defeating the hardest PvE content the developers have come up with.

However, I do not share the opinion of these other raiders. In fact, as a raider, I resent being associated with it. I simply do not understand the concept of whining because someone else is getting something more easily than you did. The fact that an alt or a new 80 can gear up in tier 8.5 equivalent gear without stepping a foot in Ulduar does absolutely NOTHING to diminish the accomplishment of slaying Yogg Saron or General Vezaxx. A player who facerolled his way to 80 isn't magically going to find the ability to raid just because he is wearing some new and shiny gear. Someone who didn't have the time to dedicate to raiding before isn't going to suddenly find time in his schedule to raid.

I think it is awesome for characters to be able to see all the content in the game. I think it is great that players will get a sense of accomplishment and progression for their character, playing at the level they are comfortable playing at. It's not about us. We should be happy that other people will get to experience the the parts of the game that we most enjoyed. But no! Because of this very vocal minority (I sincerely hope it's a minority), raiders are described as whiny, elitists who will not share their toys. Here's a tip boys and girls: just because someone else has a shiny red wagon doesn't mean yours is any less shiny than it was!

Someone please explain this mentality to me because I just don't get it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I've been away for a while.
In that time I've made a transatlantic flight, spent time with my family (on both sides of the Pond), worked a fair bit and played WoW. LOTS of WoW. My DK is now 71 and my warrior is 74. I am still raiding with probably the most amazing group of people on the server (Feathermoon-US, for those of you that didn't know) and enjoying the hell out of it. Our latest masochistic experiment is Firefighter, also known as Mimiron Hard Mode.
We have been seriously working on it for two weeks totalling about six hours in the little midget's room. We've made various tweaks to our strategy, the most significant being at the beginning of yesterday's attempts when our raid leaders decided that it would improve our chances of beating the enrage timer to roll with two healers instead of three.
So I put on my kitty gear and proceeded to fill the spot of last DPS. I was happy with my numbers at the end of the night but not so much with my performance. I died a couple of times to avoidable damage, stood in too much fire in phase 2 and overtaxed the healers. I think Ritavu put it best when he said:
The good news is that we seem to have a winning formula that we have to execute. The bad news is that it seems like the threshhold for attention and focus is so high that it's just unsustainable over any extended period of time.
And he's right. Two-and-a-half hours after starting on Mimiron, we decided that we needed a break and went to take down Thorim normal mode. The arena group wiped. We were all so mentally exhausted that we made silly mistakes. Trism (our paladin healer in the arena) got too much arena mob attention and died. I took too long to rebirth him and he never caught back up with the damage being doled around. Keep in mind that this is a fight we have had on farm status for more than two months. Next we attempted a Hodir speed kill since we still have an elemental shaman that is lusting after the shield in his frozen cache. We tried three times. Each time someone different died. On the last attempt, I popped berserk, stood in Starlight and got the storm cloud buff all at about the same time. I got aggro and died. I blame being tired but I really should have been a lot more careful.
We learned enough though that I think we will certainly get Mimiron next week. And there will be much rejoicing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hunter problems

In the spirit of helping out Taura and posting all the Hunter help posts, I have been levelling Loeria (my own hunter) and managed to hit 79 yesterday in Icecrown. I have been having issues though. My main problems have been managing my mana and managing my pet.

I burn through it so fast, I have to drink every pull and sometimes even pop Aspect of the Viper in the middle - and lets not even talk about boss fights. How are hunters supposed to manage their mana and still generate respectable DPS? Maybe things are different at endgame...

The other major problem I have is managing my pet. Following my own advice, I went out and got myself a wolf. And he is great: does a ton of dps, buffs myself and my group (no raids on Loeria yet), and even occasionally takes a bullet for me. But in a group situation, I have trouble using him effectively. Does anyone have any advice in this respect? Are there any macros you use that maximize pet dps uptime? How do you keep him alive? I find that Nighteyes (my wolf) spends more time dead in dungeons than anything else.

Any help is welcome. Thanks,


EDIT (June 29th): I have been playing and raiding with Loeria a fair bit and her gear has improved markedly as well as my skill with her. Mana seems much less of an issue in raids with a replenishment buff going and I have become a lot better with practice at keeping Nighteyes alive. So, I think the moral of this story is "stick with it: practice makes perfect."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mana regeneration and healing post 3.1

The great mana regeneration nerf of 3.1 was supposed to make mana conservation an issue again. I haven't really seen that though. The only changes I have made to my healing is weaving Nourish into the mix and letting my lifeblooms bloom and I finish Ulduar boss fights with 75% or more mana. Apparently, I am not the only one that has noticed it. Yesterday, Ghostcrawler said:

To be honest, despite all of the nerfs, mana regeneration still doesn't seem to be an issue for healers in Ulduar. You can often still afford to cast your largest heals and not care about overhealing because the risk of people dying feels like a far greater risk than running out of mana.

We're not sure that will lead to us making any additional nerfs at this time (and Replenishment would probably be the target if we needed to.) So far we're really happy with how the various fights in Ulduar feel. There are very intense moments (like Frozen Blows) but there are breaks as well (in between Mimiron phases for example). Many of the fights are dynamic -- you heal in one fashion at times (say MT healing) and then another fashion at other times (say raid healing during add moment or big AE spells). There aren't too many times where you're just spamming your spells every cooldown or GCD, and when it happens it's not necessarily for too long.

That said, we think we can still make healing more interesting. :)

Honestly, I think he is right. They can make healing more interesting. But isn't it stressful enough as it is? We are using every GCD available to us and people are still dying. Miss a taunt on Auriaya and your tank gets insta-gibbed, no matter how many HoTs he has ticking on him. Tympanic Tantrum ties my guts up in knots! And don't even get me started on Mimiron!

Another thing I have noticed in 3.1 is how much less significant HoTs have become. Or at least, that's how it feels to me. Our HoTs have always been overwritten to a certain extent, but they don't hardly tick any more. Things may be slightly different when we manage to get a 4-piece T8, I suppose and have that little extra buffer to play with.

Has anyone else noticed this, or am I imagining things?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hunters 101 - part IV: Haste and beyond

In previous installments, we've talked about threat, hit, crit and attack power as well as pointing to some threads on pet selection. Today we are going to look at Haste and how to fit all the information in the other sections together.


At its very basic, haste increases attack speed. However, as with most things, it is not nearly as simple as that. There are abilities and talents that increase your attaack speed by a certain percentage and haste rating, found on certain gear, which also increases attack speed.

Abilities like Auto Shot and Rapid Fire and talents such as Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Serpent's Swiftness provide an increase to the speed of your ranged attacks. The precentages provided by these abilities and talents are multiplicative, not additive. For example, a hunter using auto shot has a 15% increase in his ranged attack speed (115%). If he is using rapid fire and has proc'd 5/5 improved aspect of the hawk and has 5/5 in serpent's swiftness, his ranged attack speed is increased by 222.18% (115*140*115*120). This increase applies to the hunter's auto shot but does not modify casting times or the global cooldown at all.

Haste rating stacks additively with itself (i.e. if you have 35 haste rating on a helm, 65 on a weapon, 40 from a food buff and 35 from an elixir you have a total of 175 haste rating) and is then converted to a percentage that stacks multiplicatively with any other haste percentages as I described above. The important thing to remember here is that at level 80:

32.79 haste rating provides a 1% increase in attack speed.

Haste rating has a couple of advantages over flat haste percentages. Firstly, it modifies melee attack speed as well as casting speed by the same percentage, so the cast time on Steady Shot goes down and secondly and most importantly, it progressively decreases the global cooldown from the normal 1.5 seconds to a minimum of 1 second (you would need 1639 haste rating to reduce the global cooldown to 1 second. This is actually unachievable with currently available gear.)

So what does this mean to beastmaster hunters? Unfortunately, not much. While talents that improve haste are very nice and convenient (a full 30-45% of personal BM dps comes from auto shot) haste rating is the least important of all gear modifiers.

When choosing which gear to wear, a beastmaster hunter should look at the following stats in this order:

1. Hit Rating (up to 263 or 8%)

2. Attack Power considering that 2 AP is equivalent to 1 agility

3. Agility

4. Intellect

5.Critical Strike Rating

6. Stamina

7. Armor Penetration Rating and, lastly

8. Haste Rating

In the next installment, we'll be talking about specs, glyphs and shot rotations. Still to come: controlling your pet and more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hunters 101 - part III: pet selection

This is more of an impromptu post. Pet selection is not something I planned on tackling this early in the series, but Jessica Klein over at WoW Insider made a brilliant, concise and accurate post regarding pet selection for raiding so I decided to link to it from here as a part of this series.

During her post she refers to a dps spreadsheet made by Shandara over at Elitist Jerks. I will be talking about how to use this spreadsheet and others like it at some point in the future. They are an a amazing tool to help maximize dps.

For now, though, enjoy Lyssana's excellent post on hunter pet selection.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Druids: cat form DPS

Since we started raiding Ulduar a couple of weeks ago, we have come across some problems. Not in the usual places, like healing and tanking, but in the more unusual arena of DPS. We were failing miserably on several DPS check fights (like Razorscale and Deconstructor), hitting hard enrages without being close to killing them. To address this problem, our raid leader recently made a general request of the guild to start forum threads covering DPS in its various forms with rotations, builds and other tips to begin educating our members and aleviating the problem. We are, after all, a casual guild that happens to raid, not anything close to a hardcore guild. That being said, we do have several members that know their classes very very well and are capable of providing guidance for the rest of us.

I decided to take the plunge and write what I knew about druids DPSing in cat form. Here is the result of that effort:

I don't pretend to be an expert at this, but I am getting more and more familiar with the inner workings and theorycrafting of druid dps in cat form as time goes on.

First lets talk about resources: everyone in this series of posts has mentioned Elitist Jerks and I need to give it a nod also. It is, hands down, the best, most in-depth forum for mechanics of any class out there. The only drawback it has is that it may be TOO complicated. The amount of theorycrafting and mathematically intense calculating on the various threads can scare away (with good reason) the more casual player. For those who feel that much of the information at Elitist Jerks is over their heads, there are a number of more approachable druid blogs that handle various aspects of druiding (TM). For cat dps, the foremost blog, in my opinion, is Karthis' Of Teeth and Claws. He speaks very candidly and clearly about the how to get the most out of your cat in many different situations. Due to the nature blogging, finding the answer to the exact question you have may require a little digging, but in most cases, the answers are there. Unfortunately, a few of his latest posts seem to indicate a degree of burnout, so the position of leading cat blogger may soon be vacated.

DPS as a cat is not what it used to be. We now have to juggle a lot of different abilities and are limited only by our energy regeneration. We can't just mangle-spam and expect to do well on the damage meters. And lets face it: when we are dpsing (unlike healing or tanking) our position on the meters is almost all that matters.

The abilities that we will be using to dps are: Mangle, Rake and Shred to generate combo points, Savage Roar, Rip and Ferocious Bite to use them up and Tiger's Fury to generate precious energy. The basic idea of dps as a cat is to get Savage Roar up and KEEP it up while keeping bleeds, dots and debuffs up as much as possible. While Mangle is not truly desirable for its dps potential, it *is* desirable for the debuff that it applies. If we have a feral druid tanking or another cat druid in the raid attacking the same targets, we may talk ahead of time to see whose responsibility it will be to keep Mangle applied to the targets. In the case of a beartank, they will want to be the one mangling because of the threat it is capable of generating. If there is only a second cat (and no beartank), then generally the one with lesser damage potential should be refreshing mangle.

Use Rake early and allow it to go almost its full duration before reapplying. The up front damage is low compared to the bleed aspect of this ability so we want to maximize energy usage by allowing it to go on as long as possible. As soon as the fight begins use Savage Roar as soon as possible, even if it only with a single combo point. That flat 30% increase in damage is too valuable to wait for 5 points. After that, Shred to 5 combo points, then Savage Roar again to get the 33 sec duration up. Keep using Shred, only stopping to reapply Rake or Mangle as necessary then Rip at 5 combo points. Keep juggling these abilites. If (i.e. when) you run out of energy, use Tiger's Fury to instantly regenerate 60 energy and keep going. If you reach 5 combo points and Rip still has a long time left (8 sec or more) and you don't need to reapply Savage Roar use Ferocious Bite instead. Unless you have the glyph of shred (which I don't yet) this should not occur very often at all.

All this requires carefully watching 1. Debuffs on the boss. 2. Buffs on you and 3. Energy reserves. There are a number of mods to help with this DOTimers is a mod originally developed for warlocks but works really well for cat druids. It shows the debuffs on the boss with countdowns showing how close they are to expiring. I think there is a way to make it show your own buffs as well, but haven't figured it out yet, so I am constantly looking at my own buff timers to see how long I have left on Savage Roar.

Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up. Use Berserk every time it is up.

In conclusion:

With beartank: Rake-->Savage Roar-->Shred-->Shred-->Tiger's fury-->Shred to 5 combo points-->Savage Roar-->Rake-->Shred to 5 cp-->Rip, refresh Rake, Savage Roar and Rip as necessary.

Without another mangler: Mangle-->Savage Roar-->Rake-->Shred-->Tiger's Fury-->Shred to 5cp-->Savage Roar-->Shred-->Rake-->Shred to 5cp-->Rip. Refresh Rake, Savage Roar and Rip as necessary.

Oh, and watch your threat...

Tell me what you all think.