Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Garrosh Down, Are We Heroic Now?

  <Egalitarian Misanthropes> has been working on Garrosh for a few weeks now. We were over 70 wipes before we got him Sunday night. Our first few wipes on Sunday were 1% or less, so we knew we just had to keep doing what we were doing and we would get it.

  I had actually gotten so used to wiping in the last phase that I wasn't expecting it when it happened. I was freshly dead (as usual, so many minions!), and since the battle res had already been used, I was looking at the healing meter to see what my Lay on Hands had healed for earlier. I have 1.04 million health, and it healed for 1.03 million. I was at less than 1% health when I used it. Pallys are OP.

  This isn't the end for us, by far. We've kept up with progression enough that we all seem to have enough time/energy/motivation to do heroic bosses. I had stepped into the middle of progression in ToT, so I was just happy to finish that tier ahead of the curve, and not overly disappointed that we only did one heroic boss. Now we're still carrying momentum, and I expect heroics to be the perfect antidote to end of expansion boredom.

  It's possible we could get Cutting Edge for Garrosh, depending on how fast WoD hits. We got Immerseus September 13th, and Garrosh on December 22nd, 14 weeks of raiding. If heroics takes the same amount of time, we could get it by the end of March.

  There's just one fact to face and one question to ask first:

  The fact is, we don't need the gear. There is no new raid in this content that the gear we would get would help us with, and if we want the looks for transmog, we can always come back to it. Doing heroics now would just be for the sake of it.

  The question is "Are we heroic raiders?" Looking back over this group's record, I think the answer is clearly "No." I think we can be, but that depends on whether we can all commit to it, myself included. I've got the time, but do I have the skill? Others have the skill, but do they have the time?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Random Ramblings: WoW Notes, Tragedy, Embracing the Ugly

WoW Notes:

  I keep a wordpad document with notes on it, so I thought I'd post it:

/run for k, v in pairs({ Galleon = 32098, Sha = 32099, Oondasta = 32519, Celestials = 33117, Ordo = 33118, Nalak = 32518}) do print(format("%s: %s", k, IsQuestFlaggedCompleted(v) and "\124cff00ff00Yes\124r" or "\124cffff0000No\124r")) end

  This is a macro that shows me what world bosses I've killed that week. Sure, there are addons that track this, but I like to use simple solutions where available.

Kallahan gear:

Malkorok - prot, trinket
Blackfuse - ret, shoulders, ring
Garrosh - ret, pants
Ordos - ret, warforged anything!

My three rolls a week go to these bosses. If we down Garrosh, I'll roll on him, if not, I put that one on Ordos.

My loot list is per boss, with each piece that could drop per spec. In italics are pieces that are not upgrades, plain text for Ret and non-BIS Prot upgrades, and bold for BIS Prot pieces. I also note in brackets if LFR or Flex has an upgrade.

immerseus prot - dodge/parry 1h, parry/dodge shoulder, dodge/parry wrist, hit/parry feet
ret - haste/crit chest, hit/haste wrist, mastery/haste hands
protectors prot - exp/parry back, dodge/parry hands, stam/aoe trinket
ret - mastery/haste shoulder, hit/haste waist, hit/crit ring
norushen prot - hit/mastery 1h, parry/dodge head
ret - mastery/haste back, mastery/crit wrist, cleave/strength trinket
sha prot - tier chest, dodge/parry shield, hit/dodge neck
ret - tier chest, crit/haste 2h, hit/crit feet

galakras prot - hit/mastery shoulder, hit/dodge wrist, parry/dodge ring
ret - haste/mastery head, hit/mastery shoulder, cooldown/strength trinket
juggernaut prot - hit/mastery neck, dodge/parry chest, dodge/healing trinket
ret - hit/mastery neck, exp/crit wrist, crit/haste hands, haste/mastery waist
dark shaman prot - exp/parry 1h, hit/mastery waist, hit/mastery ring, hit/dodge ring

ret - crit/mastery, hit/mastery waist, crit/haste feet, hit/mastery ring 
nazgrim prot - tier hands, exp mastery shield
ret - tier hands
malkorok prot - exp/parry wrist, exp/mastery feet, stam/cooldown trinket(any) - roll
ret - crit/mastery neck
, crit/mastery legs, exp/mastery feet
spoils prot - parry/mastery shield, mastery/parry waist, exp/dodge feet
ret - crit/haste head, crit/haste ring
thok prot - tier helm, mastery/parry chest, exp/mastery ring(any)
ret - tier helm, mastery/haste 2h, exp/mastery ring, boost/strength trinket 
blackfuse prot - tier shoulders, haste/mastery 1h, exp/parry neck, mastery/parry hands 
ret - tier shoulders, exp/haste ring(any) - roll
paragons prot - tier legs, exp/crit 1h
ret - tier legs, strength/crit trinket
garrosh prot - exp/parry head, stam/crit trinket
ret - crit/mastery 2h, crit/mastery shoulders x2, haste/mastery legs
- roll

A rather pesky 530 Band of the Scaled Tyrant has yet to be upgraded, and Malkorok refuses to cough up my hands-down, over-powered, best-in-slot trinket, Vial of Living Corruption. Seriously, I'd be happy with the LFR version. Other than that, I only have two pieces of Flex piece left, my boots and tier shoulders, and I'll be in all normal-mode or above. My group is working on the last phase of Garrosh, and I'm certain that gear is not an issue. I feel ready for heroics as it is.

I also have a similar gear list for my Monk Kallil, though it is not updated as I haven't played him much lately. I've been leveling a Warlock! More on her later...

Next in my notes I have a Guild/Player blacklist. It's fortunately short, and it lists who I don't want to ever have anything to do with again, a note on why, and a list of their alts. I won't be airing this laundry out.

Next I have my Alt's professions planned. It's out of date, but I'll reassess it soon. I've been busy.

Finally, a couple macros I used to use when I was tanking on my DK. Balancing Dodge and Parry was important too me, after maximizing Mastery, of course, so I kept these handy:

/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end p=235.5*d/65.631440-((235.5/65.631440)*5.01-n) DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry for current dodge: "..string.format("%.2f",p))

with swordshattering
/run d=GetDodgeChance() n=3.22 if UnitRace("player")=="Gnome" then n=n-.01 end p=235.5*d/65.631440-((235.5/65.631440)*5.01-n)+4 DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Ideal parry for current dodge: "..string.format("%.2f",p))


  (A little bit in character here, sort of. I don't RP, but I like the lore, and I like a bit of background for my characters.)

  I had a moment while raiding in SoO that I would define as a tragedy in the classical sense. The best explanation of tragedy I've found is in a video by Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs when he gave a TED Talk. That's the sense of the word that I'm using here. Seriously, go watch the video, it's only 20 minutes.

  So that moment for me was going into the Cleft of Shadows. I've always considered Warlocks to be bad guys that happened to be on Team Good. Yeah, they're bad for consorting with demons, but I'm glad they're at least on our side.

  But then I see "Heretics will burn!" posted and Warlocks strung up and burning with shadowflame. Then one shouts "I will not burn like the rest! Face the demons you fear!" Of course I'm sickened by Garrosh's actions. These Warlocks did not deserve to be murdered and mutilated this way.

  But I wonder if I myself have been so wrong about Warlocks all along, for all these years. I also wonder if I'm so afraid of the demonic that I shun anyone who has anything to do with them, unless they're one of the "good ones". I wonder if I have the courage to face the Burning Legion when the time comes, and the time will come. I wonder if I will be able to understand that enemy.

Embracing the Ugly

  So I rolled a Warlock, a female Troll one even. I've previously tried rolling a female Troll a few times before, but the faces are just... ugly. There's that one "dazed and confused" face that people find less... ugly, but I think that's doing it rong! A troll is just not going to be pretty! Embrace the ugly!

  What I plan to do with this Warlock is even uglier...

  I'm going to do the quest for green fire. I'm going to farm Kara for Gorehowl. I'm going to spec Demo and use Glyph of Felguard.

  I highly suspect Garrosh will be brought back as a raid boss in Warlords. He's too great of a baddie to not! Whenever he comes back, I'm going to burn him with green fire as my felguard hits him with Gorehowl. Should have maintained your weapon, dumbass!

P.S. I'm going to finish Alt appreciation.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monk Week: Kallil

  Kallil was a surprisingly fun reroll that (relatively) quickly made it to cap. I had previously tried a couple Tauren Monks, and though I still like their animations, something about this Troll just stuck. I had all XP heirlooms and two agility maces, so that plus Monk's daily XP buff made cakework of grinding out dungeons. I already posted recently about my Monk, so I'll just make this a quick update.

  I put together the red version of the Riverblade armor and I'm using the Staff of Ox-Hoof Thunder
from the final Monk quest. It's an especially lean looking set on a troll, making me look kind of gangly, and the staff with it makes for a very slim profile overall. I like it.

  My gear still has two 476 slots I want to replace before I start pugging into Flex. I'm at 499 average, so just getting a good weapon and shoulders should make it just fine. I use the default stat priority from Ask Mr Robot, which prioritizes Haste over Crit until 8000 Haste. This has me swimming in energy, so I can generate a lot more chi. I'm going to also be trying Mastery stacking, which has more passive mitigation, and Crit stacking, which increases Elusive Brew uptime and has more DPS. I like trying different methods. That said...

  I get kicked from LFR's fairly frequently because some nosy noobs want to inspect and criticize my gear. I'm always fully gemmed and enchanted with a good reforge, but that's not good enough for some people. Invariably is starts with some comment about my health level. Apparently I don't have enough. I stacked Stamina on my Pally and would get kicked for it. I stack secondary stats on my Monk, and I get kicked for it. What gives? Monks are low health tanks. We deal with damage taken differently than other tanks.

  Some take it further and tell me stacking haste is wrong. I'm pretty sure it's another viable way to gear. It's not one of the recommended priorities on Icy-Veins or Noxxic, but it is on Ask Mr Robot and Elitist Jerks has interesting commentary on it, calling it the "'safety net' of stats, as no other stat will help you recover from your mistakes as effectively as Haste." There's different gearing options, is what I'm saying.

  I call these naysayers noobs, because while everyone is a newb at some point, not everyone then transitions into a know-it-all that becomes some sort of self-appointed police force, instructing other people how to play. To me, that's a noob characteristic. I know what I'm doing, and I have yet to hear a proper healer complain.

  I'm looking forward to finally having a proper alt, and I'm happy that it's also a tank with a fairly similar tanking method. Since Flex is out, I'm up to 4 nights of raiding on my main right now, LFR, 10 man, Flex, then more 10man. That's already a setup for burn out, but since most of my Pally's gear is 430 or better, I'll probably be dropping LFR and Flex soon enough. I only really need Vial of Living Corruption, at any ilevel. For my Monk, almost everything in LFR is an upgrade, so I'll probably be phasing him in as I discontinue LFR and Flex on my Pally. I really want to be careful to avoid burnout, especially since both are tanks. I'll probably also start Flex with my guild on my Monk, either as a way of letting someone else tank, or to just change it up and avoid bad PUGs.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mage Week: Fourth Spec for Mages

  So what would a fourth spec for Mages be? They're pure DPS, so they could branch out into either healing or tanking, but I think the answer is obvious: Battle Mage!

Tanking Method

  The first issue to address, I think, should be a way to make Battle Mages a new way to tank. A unique method would be to have damage taken split between mana and health. That would make an effective 300k health bubble passive to the spec, and make Mage's current mana regeneration abilities relevant to damage mitigation. Damage taken to mana would be replaced by Evocation (also a health return with it's glyph), Mana Gem (which also has a useful glyph), and level 90 talents (Invocation, Rune of Power, Incanter's Ward.

  Finally, add a reverse of Warlock's Life Tap (a heal by any other name), call it Mana Tap, and the health bar is also taken care of by this active mitigation model. Damage comes in, split between health and mana>Mana is regenerated>Mana Tap brings health up>Mana is regenerated>Rinse and repeat. A unique Mastery could be to increase mana regeneration. It could be a boost to passive mana regeneration and/or a boost to mana regeneration abilities.

  The armor would be Intellect plate. Since other plate classes start with mail armor and don't use plate until level 40, Battle Mage should probably do the same. The weapons would be with 1 handed and a shield, or 1 handed and a staff. Equipping a shield would boost armor (33% of my Pally's armor comes from my shield) and enable blocking, while equipping a staff would instead boost Spell Power (one of my healers gets about 39% of his SP from his staff) and enable Nether Attunement. This make a choice between extra physical damage reduction or extra mana regeneration.


  Using existing Mage abilities in the game seems like a good place to see what else they could do to mitigate damage.

  The first major cooldown would obviously be Alter Time. It would work for any type of damage, magic or physical, big hits or death by a thousand cuts. Any "bad" happening within a 6 second time frame can be completely negated. Also, defensive cooldowns can be doubled-up for more survivability just as Mages currently double up offensive cooldowns for more DPS.

  The other defensive cooldowns already available are level 30 talents (Temporal Shield, Flameglow, Ice Barrier), level 60 talents (Greater Invisibility, Cauterize, Cold Snap), and Ice Block. Invisibility and Ice Block could be gimmicked a la Pally's Hand of Protection. i.e. taunt right before using the ability and the enemy will fixate for 3 seconds. They could also be modified to not drop aggro for the spec specifically.

  Currently, other tank's Symbiosis abilities are Might of Ursoc for DK's, Survival Instincts for Monks, Barkskin for Pallys, and Savage Defense for Warriors. Guardian Druid's remaining major cooldown would be Frenzied Regeneration, so make that cost X% base mana and we have another cooldown.

  For passive damage reduction there's Molten Armor, and another version which is in common use by NPC's. There's also Mage Armor, and Glyph of Armors. The glyph makes Armor swapping feasible, but not spammable and increases the effects. Add a passive to the spec that make all Armors reduce the chance to be critically hit by 6% and increase threat generation. I could see the decision between Molten and Mage armor being an interesting play choice based on a fight-to-fight basis, or even swapped during different phases. Molten would prevent more damage, but Mage would enable more health/mana replacement.


  A rotation could be easily built using existing Mage abilities, and I think the Arcane spec is an appropriate theme to copy. An Arcane Mage is already concerned with managing mana levels, and it lends itself well to the Arcane Warrior/Spellsword style. I don't think it would be too difficult to manage Arcane Charges while also managing health/mana levels. Replace Arcane Barrage with Mana Tap and make it cost Arcane Charges. That way the rotation becomes relevant to survivability.

  My first concern is that offensive abilities cost mana, and mana is part of this kind of Battle Mage's defense. Using Mana to deal damage costs effective health. I think this is fine, as mana regeneration is already a "push-pull" concept for the spec.

  My second concern is all the casting Mages do. Simply copy Warlock's Dark Apotheosis concept and make it passive for the spec. All abilities with a cast time get an instant version. Also add auto attacks to further increase threat generation.


  Intellect plate has a lot of Spirit on it, so making Spirit convert to Hit would fall in line with caster hybrids. To change things up a bit, keep all abilities as spells, not melee abilities. That way they would not be able to be parried, resulting in a standard 15% spell hit cap for all special abilities.

  Mastery would probably be very powerful at first, but less so as stat levels inflate, so it would probably have effective diminishing returns. Once a Battle Mage has enough Mastery to not run out of mana, other stats would become more relevant.

  Haste reduces the global cooldown as well as increasing mana regeneration when using a staff, so up to 50% Haste would remain very powerful for building Arcane Charges.

  Crit is so far irrelevant, so have special attacks that crit grant a free Mana Tap (or a chance of one), and to avoid wasting this, give these free Mana Taps 2 charges like Arcane Missiles.

  Spell Power could be made relevant by increasing the amount healed by Mana Tap.

  How a stat priority would work out would just depend on the math. I think 15% Hit would be mandatory to ensure Arcane Charge generation. After that, I'd see an approximate level of Mastery being needed, then either Haste or Crit stacked, whichever theorycrafts better.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mage Week: Kaldwell

  To be honest, I wrote last weeks post in a hurry, since I've been busy lately. My Hunter is my most played character overall but much less played in MoP, so there's an odd disconnect I hope to resolve with the class soon. I crafted up some PvP gear and I'm doing random BG's, so I'll have more to say about my favorite class soon enough. Anyway, now for yet another last minute post, this time about my least played class. Tomorrow I will post about Mage lore, as I find it very interesting.

  I obsess a bit much over getting a good race/class/gender/name combination. It can get complicated as I also like to balance class roles and genders and races between Horde and Alliance. I'm also limited by my naming scheme of Kal on the Alliance side, Kall on the Horde side. I don't advise this level of obsessing.

  I've tried Mage a few times as various races, but the only one that seemed to stick past 20 was a male Dwarf named Kaldwell on Durotan. I made it to level 30 before making it into a bank alt, since I wanted to have more characters on the Horde side. I tried female Blood Elves with several names in tandem with a male Blood Elf Warlock named Kallister, but I never got into the particular combination of Blood Elf Mage. I rolled a female Pandaren named Kalsbank (a bank alt) on Proudmoore just to try out the starter zone, which was fun, but I won't be sticking with the race.

  I've come full circle to a newly rolled male Dwarf Mage on Proudmoore named Kaldwell. The only change is from a Dark Iron look (originally intended to match a female Dark Iron Dwarf Warlock since made a bank alt, sense a theme?), to a more typical Dwarf look. I also have a male Worgen Druid named Kalvert and a female Human Warlock named Kalendae rolled with them on Proudmoore. I plan on having them as a PvP contingent in the long run.

  I tried all the level 90 premades on the MoP beta, so I got a decent preview of each class/spec rotation, and I was particularly impressed with Altered Time. As for actually leveling one, I've tried out each spec while questing and in PvP. My favorite so far is Fire, in spite of the fact that the name Kaldwell means cold well.

  I have no idea when if ever I'll get these characters to 90, but I'm having fun. Half the fun starting a new character is obsessing over the creation.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hunter Week: Mega Post

  Kalven was my first character when I started playing again in 2010, and I chose the name because I also wanted an orange striped tiger named Hobs, so the both of them together are an homage to Bill Waterson, of course.

  I raided ToC and ICC as SV early on, switching to MM when I had 400 passive ArPen (ask your parents). In Cata, I rode the SV OP wave in T11, switched back to MM for T12, switching back to SV for T13. I also did PvP in rated BG's as BM at first for the damage, switching to MM for the utility. I haven't done much in MoP but craft a bit of LW goods for the AH. I just started outfitting myself for some PvP, so whenever Tyrannical gear becomes available for Honor, I'll start that gear grind and see where it takes me.

  I'll go through my favorite pets, as they also tell part of the Hunter's story:

  Hobs is my oldest pet. I had to travel all the way to the Echo Isles as a level 12 hunter to get an orange tiger before leveling through Stranglethorn Vale. When no particular buff or ability is needed, Hobs is out. I leveled with Hobs in Wrath, because I found questing with a ferocity pet taking mobs one at a time was faster than with a tenacity pet, and a cat was also better for dungeons.

  Aroo is my third wolf, after trying out a warhound from Hellfire Ramps, and a random worg before that from Northrend. I needed a wolf for ICC, as I was getting serious about raiding, and wolf was the best pet at the time. He's a prairie wolf from Mulgore, so he barks when clicked on. I kept him on my short list raiding through Cata, as he still had a very useful buff, and I even keep him around in PvP, since I can call him, get the buff, dismiss and call another pet and still have the crit buff.

  Soap stand for Snakes on a Plane. It's a flying snake. Harhar. I needed the buff, as I was playing SV at the release of Cata, so I tried a few skins and stuck with red. I never liked this pet, for the longest time. I resented having to use a cunning pet to get the best debuff when no one else had it. The looks never endeared to me, and neither did any others (not a fan of dragonhawks either). It was just a raid tool, for the longest time. Over time, I decided it was a she (hard to tell), and she has earned her place in my stables. She's ugly and annoying, but she can now be ferocity, and probably has the third most boss kills out of all my pets.

  Ed is my second Ed, actually. He originally was a red hyena from Scholomance, but that pet changed into a dog in Cata, so I had to go find a new hyena. I just tamed the first one I saw, not worried about color. Grey is cool too. Ed was my MM pet through Cata, since he brought the +bleed damage taken debuff, which was especially useful for adds.

 Beeblebrox is my plain old corehound. Back in 2006, when I was raiding MC for the first time, I wanted one of these as a pet. People said it would never happen. Well, now I have a corehound! He actually hasn't been needed much while raiding, as I rarely raided without someone having Hero. Still, he's on call.

   Citrus and Berry are the two unique-skinned taming challenges from Molten Front. I had other spiders before them, but these two made an especially good team when I got into rated BG's in 4.3. I would use one Web to peel a healer or root an EFC, dismiss and call the other out, and have a second Web available while the first was on cooldown. I was a Webbing machine.

  Pockethealer is my first spirit beast, tamed in Wrath and I've used him most in PvP. Defending a flag alone in Arathi is easier when I can heal myself and last just a bit longer, maybe long enough to fire another Explosive Trap on the flag, keeping it from getting capped for 20 more seconds. I knew I was a tripwire at Stables. I did the job, dammit!

  Warpaint is special to me, not just for how beautiful he is, but because two other players were asking for a healer's help killing a rare (I was on my Priest), and I accepted the summons. I saw them pull Ban'thalos, and I pleaded with them not to kill him, but they told me to shut up and heal. I didn't, of course, but they got the kill anyway. It was Teo from Late Night Sorcery and Nucoma from Death's Raiders. Bastards. I got the tame later anyway, so to me, he lives. He's my second-string spirit beast in PvP, giving me a second heal.

  Ripper is my new armor debuff pet, because he applies all three stacks at once and to all enemies in a 10 yard radius. My first was a raptor, but I hardly ever used him. Now I'll be keeping this guy around since it's AoE version is great for new packs of adds in PvE and for grouped up players in random battlegrounds. I still don't expect to use him very much, but he's cute, and he's on standby.

  Other Hunters of note that I have crossed paths with in game are Ivlvp from Ephemera, who was a great PvP player, and I'm currently raiding with Candybites (Lala) in Egalitarian Misathropes, who brings great DPS.

  Some of the Hunter bloggers I've followed over the years are, of course, the Hunting Party Podcast crew: Frostheim at WHU and WoW Insider (recently retired from blogging), Darkbrew at The Brew Hall, and Euripides at OutDPS. I also have followed Kalliope, Laeleiweyn (and her extensive blog list), and Garwulf at Huntsman's Lodge. I read the Petopia forums and frequently check the Warcraft Hunter's Hall for updates.

  I think evey Hunter, of any spec is part Beastmaster, part Marksman, part Survivalist. Any Hunter who doesn't manage their pet, maximize their shot rotation, and utilize their traps is only gimping themselves. Let the other classes specialize themselves so extremely. Hunters are masters of the wild and of combat, and we should use all tools at our disposal.

  Hunters also come from every race but Gnomes, so there's already great diversity in lore to draw from. Some races especially revere Hunters. Tauren have The Great Hunt, which is central to their originally nomadic culture. Blood Elves have the Farstriders. The Forsaken are lead by a former Ranger-General. There are other famous Hunters, like Brann Bronzebeard, and Vol'jin in a way (though more of a Shadow Hunter).

  A Beastmaster Hunter invests much more into their pet than other Hunters, primarily through how much damage is done by the pet. Loose the pet, or even just loose time-on-target by the pet and DPS suffers. Bringing unique raid tools and buffs are another distinct advantage that makes BM popular, even when it isn't the best DPS spec.

  Beastmaster started in Classic as "the leveling spec", a reputation that still holds, but had it's time on top of the DPS charts in BC and early Wrath. It didn't recovered from that nerf in Wrath until MoP came out, and in MoP it's had a resurgence in popularity. Always, though, some die-hard BM Hunters maintained the spec through every tier. They're probably the most dedicated class/spec in the game.

  Marksman relies fully on maintaining a tight rotation, keeping Improved Steady Shot up, dumping focus with Arcane or Aimed, depending on the situation. They've also been "gear-dependant" in certain raiding content, meaning that a Hunter needed a certain threshold of stats before it became the superior spec. It has also been considered more skill dependent, especially during Cata, when the rotation became fairly complicated.

  Marksman is often seen as the "proper" Hunter spec, in part due to it's dominance in raiding through Classic and Wrath, and even some of Cata, but in MoP, it's not very low, but low enough that not many play it. It was also the most popular PvP spec for a long time, since Readiness and Silencing Shot were invaluable in PvP, and other specs didn't get those abilities until MoP.

  Survival has been described as the red-headed step-child of the specs, as it's theme and appeal, for some reason, isn't immediately obvious to most players. It's an evolved spec. Currently what defines it is it's extra DoT Black Arrow, it's proc Lock and Load, and most especially it's AoE Serpent Spread. Some consider it the easiest to play.

  It wasn't always easy, though. In Classic, it was very nearly a useless spec. It had some melee abilities, some PvP abilities, and seems to have been designed as a melee/ranged hybrid. This is no longer the case. After many redesigns, it's purely a ranged spec, and it's uniqueness has changed over the expansions. In BC and Wrath, it brought the Replenishment buff to raids. In Cata, it changed to the attack speed buff, but was still useful. In MoP, not much sets it apart anymore except it's unique rotation. SV has also never really been a PvP spec, since it never had the burst damage of BM or the utility of MM, but perhaps that has changed in MoP. I'll have to check it out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Druid Week: Kallonika

  Kallonika is a modified form of Kalonice, a Greek name meaning Beauty's Victory. She hasn't got any stories yet.

  My first Druid was a male Worgen named Kalev (pronounced Caleb) which is a Hebrew name meaning Dog. It was a perfect name/race matchup, and I love Worgen shape-shifting forms, but I ended up being dissatisfied with all the snuffling, so I deleted it at 60, and rerolled Horde.

  When I bailed on Horde-Durotan, I rerolled on Horde-Proudmoore. I had gotten to 60 again, so I was tempted to pay for a second transfer, but I can't really afford much more than $15 a month.

  I'm leveling through BGs, which can get monotonous at lower levels, but comes with the occasional chance at achievements, like Ironman, which I picked up this evening. I'm becoming quite the flag runner. I play mostly Balance and occasionally Resto, but my focus is on using all tools available to get the job done. Glyph of the Moonbeast is very handy.

  I hit level 35 today, so I get to grind more Tailoring. I've found leveling professions to be a good motivator to leveling an alt. Level 1-90 seems like a lot, but breaking it up into chunks kinda helps a bit. In 6.0, I plan on Tailoring being one source of Enchanting mats, Blacksmithing on my Monk the other source, and between the two, I should always have access to cheap mats for enchants.

  I also intended to level Herbalism. I rarely gather, but I could in 6.0, since gathering can make a lot then, and also I want mats for myself from the start. However, since I have rerolled my Mage and Warlock to the Ally side, I'm practically limited to three characters on this side of this server. I have Alchemy/Inscription on my Pally, fully maxed and researched, I plan on having Blacksmithing and Enchanting on my Monk, so I can tap the Ore shuffle, and I need to complement those two with one more set of professions. I may have to drop Herbalism and pick up Jewelcrafting instead. This would give me all three major sources of enchanting mats (cloth, bars, gems) as well as all major raid supplying professions. I would only have to buy leg armors.

  Or I could reroll one or both of the Mage and Lock back to the Horde. Or I could level my DK bank alt and give her profs. Or I can drop Tailoring and focus on the Ore market more fully, with Mining and Jewelcrafting on my Druid. I haven't figured it out yet, and it seems a bit complicated. I know this for sure, that Alchemy/Inscription is staying, and Blacksmithing/Enchanting is too lucrative to not have. I only have to figure out how to compliment those.

  But in any case, I continue to level my Druid, alternating between pwning BG's and processing piles of cloth. I don't know what I intend to do at level cap, but it'll be 6.0 by then. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

  I don't have any transmog yet, but I'm keeping Staff of the Verdant Circle handy. I like the look of the caster leather heirlooms a lot anyway, so all I really need is a better matching 1h mace. More options will open up as I level, so I'm not worried.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Death Knight Week: Blood is Thicker

   There used to be a saying: The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. This proverb has since been changed to mean quite the opposite. Saying blood is thicker than water now implies familial ties are more important than others. This is a complete subversion and it is wrong. Shared hardships are what bind people together, not genetic happenstance (though family often has shared hardship as well). The blood we spill on the battlefield is what makes us call each other brothers and sisters, no matter what language, race, creed, or citizenship.

  Every player's Death Knight comes from one time and place. For whatever reason, we came from all races across the know world to come and prove our worth to the Lich King. We were raised by him into undeath for one purpose: to destroy, once and for all, the Scarlet Crusade and the Argent Dawn in the Plaguelands.

  There is a book in the Ebon Hold during the Starter Zone, The Death Knights of Acherus, that changes after certain quests. It is a roster with notes. In reference to the the player, it begins:

Name: <name>
Status: Alive
Comment: Needs more cowbell

  Apparently we begin with a fever. After Victory at Death's Breach!, it reads:

Name: <name>
Status: Alive
Comment: Personally responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Scarlet Crusaders. Hungers for more.

  How quickly we make a name for ourselves. After the quest The Scarlet Apocalypse, it reads:

Name: <name>
Status: Alive
Comment: Soulless killing machine. No remorse. No regrets. Has killed more Scarlet Crusaders, destroyed more lives, and caused more chaos than any death knight before <him/her>. Promoted to Scourge Commander.

  Clearly, we revel in our undeath. Finally, after An End To All Things, the book reads:

Name: <name>
Status: Alive
Comment: Scourge Commander <name> was granted the [Greathelm of the Scourge] by the Lich King for <his/her> complete and utter domination of the armies of Tirisfal and Hearthglen. There were no survivors left from <name>'s brutal attacks. Currently en route to end the Argent Dawn.

  Also when completing An End To All Things, the quest text reads:

Kneel, champion. I place this helm upon your head to complete your terrifying visage. Any that dare look upon your dark countenance will know that death comes. Let none stand so boldly against your king so as to face your merciless wrath, <name>.
There remains one final task.
<The Lich King looks west.>
Light's Hope Chapel.

  Thus ensued The Battle for Light's Hope Chapel, and make no mistake, we were Team Evil.

  We soon found that we were betrayed by the Lich King, used only as pawns to draw out Tirion Fordring. This did not go well for Team Evil.

  The end of The Light of Dawn reads:

There will be no atonement for us, <name>. We are forever damned to walk the earth as monsters. While the Lich King may have loosed his grip upon us, the specters of the past will forever haunt our memories.
We must make amends in the only way we know how: Death...
I ask you now to join me in Acherus as a Knight of the Ebon Blade. Together we will destroy the Lich King and end the Scourge.

  As veterans of this battle, every Death Knight is bonded by this defining experience. As comrades in the Knights of the Ebon Blade, we later had our revenge against the Lich King. We may now serve in your ranks, Horde or Alliance, but we are not like you.

  We are dead to you.

  We were raised into undeath by our greatest enemy. We served that enemy, for whatever reason, be it a fear of death or a lust for power. We may have then broken free, but there is no returning from the crimes we committed against Havenshire and New Avalon. Our only redemption is in battle, and in a future, permanent death.

  Consider finally the words we hear earlier in the questing experience, after A Special Surprise:

Felt good, didn't it? You're not one of them anymore, <name>. You're Scourge. You're one of us. Forever...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Death Knight Week: Friends

  I joined Eutopia on Ally-Durotan sometime while leveling up my first character, and mostly kept to myself, busy questing. I got into raiding shortly after hitting the cap, and after some catch-up heroics and frost badge grinding, I got into the ICC group.

  Rhodanna was our Death Knight tank, and was a great raid leader, I think. I don't actually remember who the raid leader was. Whoever it was officially, Rho was just bossy enough on vent to push us through content. She also had a voice that we unanimously agreed would be perfect for a sex-line operator. Even my roommate was like "Damn! That's a sexy voice!" when he first heard her.

  I still mostly kept to myself unless it came to Hunter talk. Whenever I'd go on about some subtle detail of Huntering, she'd say she was going to get me a Hunter channel, which I think was a polite way of telling me to STFU, we're raiding. That's where the tagline of this blog comes from, as it was first titled The Hunter Channel, but I renamed it to reflect my terminal altitis.

  We got to 11/12 on 10 man before Cata dropped (we started late), and the team drifted apart, with some, including Rho, going to other games. I regret not leveling my own Death Knight sooner and learning tanking from her.


  About 6 months into Cata, I finally bit the bullet and left Eutopia (I'm loyal to a fault). It was only a bit of guild hopping before landing in Ephemera. At first I was content to just do my own thing, pugging whenever possible, but soon I got into the Rated Battleground team on my Priest, and sometimes my Hunter.

  Our Death Knight FC was Swadeleeii. We often referred to Swade as a raid boss. I was more often on the Offense, so most of my efforts were towards group healing, spot healing, a whole lot of dispels and getting peeled off Rogues. Whenever we would turtle, though, I found healing him was almost an after-thought. He pretty much never died. Yeah, DK's were so OP in 4.3, but this guy took and ran with it. Literally, that was his job. Get it? Yeahh....

  These guys were a lot of fun, but the team didn't stick through MoP, though. I was just as hesitant to leave Ephemera as I was to leave Eutopia, but the writing was on the wall soon after the patch dropped.


  In MoP,  I tried different raid groups, both Horde and Ally Durotan, but Holy Bullcrap (I'm a Tauren Pally, get it? OK, stopping now.), people are dense when it comes to Pally tank stats. I couldn't stay in a group a month before someone would tell me to "Stop gearing for DPS and reforge for avoidance."

  I rolled a test character on Proudmoore and played a bit with Taint, a.k.a., the gay guild, a.k.a., the biggest guild in WoW. I transferred my Pally over to Proudmoore mostly because I didn't want to just faction change, since I have a lot of alts on Ally Durotan already. I wanted to broaden my WoW-social horizons. I did not expect to continue raiding on my Pally.

  I did pug a bit though, since I was geared enough after all, and I was lucky enough to join Egalitarian Misanthropes. What a name, that one. I certainly was ready to hate everybody equally at that point. Kilhara is the Death Knight Main Tank of our group, and much more experienced raider and tank than I am. Though we haven't gotten too deep into details in conversation yet, just watching the way she moves while tanking is enough of a learning opportunity. My movement can always use improvement, i.e., no butt-tanking 5 adds.

  She's good-natured, but also a strict enough task-mistress to push us through content. She reminds me a lot of Rho in that respect. I'm still new to the team, only been there a month, but I've learned people's names and have even chatted a bit after raids. I credit her with setting the tone on vent that allows team building to take place. We're all looking forward to killing Garrosh.

  We may have to have a conversation, though, about my current aversion to avoidance, in favor of Hit, Haste and Expertise. She's under the impression that "They're nerfing the shit out of that." They're not. How this goes down will be the final test of my compatibility with this group. I expect we'll be able to make a team-building experience out of it.

  But hey, at least she lets me stack Stamina. I'm at 937k health raid buffed, 1.03m with Shammy buff. It gets me kicked from LFR's sometimes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Death Knight Week: Kalmali

  I'm doing Alt Appreciation along with Lae and others. It's about that time of the expansion cycle where this kind of blogging is fun filler, after the mid raid and before the last, little-to-no information on 6.0 (The Dark Below?). I'll be doing several posts a week, which is so much more than I'm used to, but this theme brings together a few things I've been wanting to post about. I'll post first about my own character of the class of the week. Second, I may post about other players of that class that I remember fondly, that I'm playing with now, or that write blogs that I follow. Third, I'll post my perspective on the class lore. Finally, I'll also post about each race option of that class, addressing lore and racial abilities both, as well as races that are not an option for that class and why I think they should or should not be allowed. *edit* Too much, maybe another time.

  It's an 11 week project, naturally, so it'll be interspersed with Siege of Ogrimmar commentary and 5.4 gold making. 3 solid months of posting incoming.

   Kalmali is a Sanskrit name meaning "dispeller of darkness." I chose the name not based on what a Death Knight might be named, but rather what any young Dwarf might be named, especially one destined, presumably, to serve the Church of the Holy Light. As a servant of the Lich King, the name was a bitter irony. As a Knight of the Ebon Blade, it is a more subversive irony, as well as an oath of revenge.

  That's about as much RP as I do, just a good name and a bit of story.

  My Death knight went through a few iterations in Wrath. I knew I wanted to tank, so I first tried playing a Night Elf, but no, I just will not play an elf. I tried Human, but I don't like the male Human model, and I already had my female Human Priest. I tried another Dwarf, and it was perfect.

  I capped January of 2012, but I didn't get into tanking raids until 4.3 where I did a couple of Firelands runs, a couple of DS half-runs, then a whole lot of LFR. I did the occasional LFR run as Unholy and I tried out Frost in 5 mans, but mostly I stuck with Blood.

  In Mists, I've been occasionally tanking in LFR, and tried a few alt runs on normal mode. When the tank/raid leader of my main raid group took an unexpected break, I stepped in and started gearing up for normal modes, but after he came back just as unexpectedly, I quit that group. Now my DK is just a JC/Mining alt, making gold.

  DK is one of the two classes I've only played one spec of, for the most part, the other being Monk. I occasionally dabble in the other specs, but mostly I just like to tank. Since I don't anticipate raiding normal modes anymore in Mists on my DK, I'm probably still going to be sticking with Blood. With the exception of Lao-Chin's, which is still BiS upgraded twice, all my tank gear is 502+, so I'll be tanking some 5.4 LFR for sure.

  My transmog is the Overlord's set with the Field Plate Helmet substituted. I like having a functional look I might wear in real life, with no huge spikes smacking into the side of my head, no shoulders that would break my clavicle, ect. My current weapon is Bo-Ris, which makes me happy that I can use my Legend's Glaive for transmog. Strength polearms FTW! Though other weapon types restrictions have been loosened, I like to stay with the weapon type I have equipped. On standby I have Darkmoon Executioner for 2h axe, Royal Mallet for 2h mace (very Dwarvish!), and Archaic Defender for 2h sword.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ding #7 Monk done (or just started), what's next?

  I got my Troll Monk to 90 the other day, and started grinding random BG's for honor to get the ilevel needed to do LFR. It's kinda fun playing Brewmaster in PvP, but I have no idea what I'm doing, really. I'm just getting the points to get back to tanking. It's probably about to become my second alt, since I haven't been playing my Rogue or DK lately.

  Overall, I'm very satisfied with Brewmaster. I'm probably only going to do LFR for a while, but if I get geared well enough in 5.4, I might run some normal or flex modes. Monk tanking is kind of similar to Pally tanking in two main aspects, I think. First, there's all the utility. So many raid tools, only so many keybinds. I would almost accuse Brewmaster of button bloat, except that I couldn't tell you what ability I'd drop or make baseline. Second, we both cap Hit and hard cap Expertise in order to generate and spend as much Holy Power/Chi as possible. More points, less damage taken. At least when I'm on a Monk, people are less likely to accuse me of "Gearing for DPS."

  I have not played Windwalker since the very early levels, so I'm going to have to start from scratch there. Fortunately, gearing for tanking and DPS is fairly similar. I just have to drop some Expertise.

  I tried Mistweaver for a while wile leveling in BC dungeons, and it's a nice healing method, very different from the others. I'm looking forward to trying Mistweaver out in raids as well.

  Oddly enough, I have not put together a transmog look for my Monk. I have been thinking of just using the red or purple versions of Riverblade Armor. It could be called a lazy transmog, but these are beautifully detailed, sleek, and practical looking sets. I would even say that MoP armor easily rivals BC armor in beauty, not just for the better graphics, but the better design.

  Leveling a Monk, in retrospect, was kind of fast compared to others, but not that much faster. For me, the bonus XP buff Monks get, Enlightenment, was more like a constant Rested buff. I tend to level in bursts, so I go through rested XP fast. I would probably benefit more from Inner Peace, if I played a Pandaren.

  After my level 74 Dwarf Warrior, I'll have Druid, Warlock, and Mage left to level. I've got mostly Dwarves so far, and one each of Human, Tauren, and Troll at 90. I've recently started leveling My female Tauren Druid, after making peace with that stereotypical combination (yes, I will also be an Herbalist). I can't play a female Troll. I just can't embrace the ugly. That leaves me with the options of going across the server on Proudmoore to roll Dwarf Mage and Warlock, choosing from the Horde races, or for Mage, rolling a Pandaren of either faction.

  For me, the race, class, and gender of a character kind of have to click into place. When I deleted my Druid and Warlock when transferring my Pally and stuff over to Proudmoore, I kind of regretted it a bit, but I wasn't going to spend that much on transfers. My female Tauren Druid felt right just after getting Glyph of Stars. Though I'm playing around in battlegrounds on my new Druid as Feral right now (it's fun), I'll probably go back to healing/ranged DPS soon. My male Blood Elf Warlock felt right from the start. Normally I'm averse to playing elves in WoW, but just this one guy is my guilty pleasure. I expect to level him third, after finishing my Warrior and leveling my Druid.

  What hasn't clicked for me is Mage. So, what to pick? First off, my goal for gender balance is achieved so far, with 5 males (Hunter, DK, Pally, Monk, Lock) and 5 females (Priest, Shammy, Rogue, Warrior, Druid). My Mage can be either gender. As for server balance, I have 6 Ally and 4 Horde. 2 tank classes are Ally, 3 Horde. 2 Healing classes are Ally, 3 Horde. 2 pure DPS classes are Ally, 1 Horde. 3 ranged DPS are Ally, 1 Horde. Yes, I'm over-analyzing it. It's fun sometimes. Anyway, my general impression is that I should roll as Horde on Proudmoore, especially considering that's where all my heirlooms are now.

  I won't play a female Troll, but a second Male troll is possible. Their casting animations are great. FRAWST SHAAAAAWK!!!! (Although the racial ability does kinda suck.) I won't play a Forsaken. It's just not happening, they're evil. I leveled a female Pandaren for a bank alt, and to experience the Pandaren starter zone. It was fun, but I'm not likely to level a Pandaren. Goblins and Orcs don't really interest me either, though the scarcity of Orc Mages could get me to reconsider. I'm not really motivated to roll another Blood Elf, but female Blood Elves also have good casting animations.

  I guess I'll roll a male Troll and play it a bit, then go back to my female Blood Elf,  and compare the two. I have time to figure it out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Lazy Repost of My Own: Prot Pally Stats

I never get tired of talking about Prot Pally stats. I posted the following on one of my Guild's websites, so I'm reposting it here, primarily in the interest of eliciting feedback. If I'm wrong, please, tell me. So, on with the repost:

Prot Pally stat priorities seem to elicit many conflicting opinions, and there also seems to be much confusion over what different priorities are for.

  1. A Control/Haste priority aims to generate as much Holy Power as possible to reduce spike damage as much as possible.
  2. A Control/Mastery priority balances steady Holy generation with the passive damage reduction from Block.
  3. "Survival" or any other Avoidance heavy priority is wrong.

First off, I don't worry about the Big Hits when I tank, since class balance and encounter design typically coincide to allow every tank to handle Big Hits with various cool downs (especially Pallys!). So, the steady physical damage taken from boss and add melee is my primary concern. In light of this, I'll share my own stat priority and explain each one:

  • Hit 7.5%=Expertise 15%>Stamina>Haste>Mastery>Parry>Dodge

I cap Hit and hard cap Expertise. This guarantees steady Holy Power generation, and that Shield of the Righteous (SotR) lands, which is the main source of physical damage mitigation. I have been using Ask Mr. Robot to get me as close to the cap as possible, without going over too much. Note that sometimes Hit and/or Expertise are not perfectly capped, and a good argument for this can be found on a post from the Ask Mr. Robot blog. Note that where he says "Do you want to take your 50% chance, and add some damage to it?”, read it as "add some damage mitigation to it." I'm personally convinced by this argument for normal mode bosses, but now that I'm getting into heroics, I'm back to capping for sure. Every SotR counts.

I stack Stamina to the sky. There is a series of posts I'd like anyone who thinks I'm wrong to read before telling me I'm wrong: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.) If the math is too much, it can be skipped, just be sure to read the part at the bottom under Conclusions or Summary. I am open to different opinions, but I won't listen to the hand-waving away of facts. Anyway, I have so far been stacking Stamina because I want a maximum amount of survivability. The group I'm running with has great DPS, so I'm not going to quickly sacrifice survivability for more DPS. However, this is the one point I am most flexible on, and I'm going to review some logs before our next heroic Jin'Rok attempt to see if I can safely trade some health for DPS, i.e. if I never dipped below 20%, I'll drop about 10% health.

After Hit and Expertise caps, Haste is the best secondary stat for both DPS and for damage smoothing. What I mean by damage smoothing is reducing the amount of spikes in damage I take. Damage smoothing is what guides are referring to when they label a stat priority as "Control." Haste helps smooth damage primarily by by increasing the amount of Holy Power generated, thus increasing the up-time of SotR. There are four things to note here:
  1. Prioritizing Haste requires timing SotR well, and consistently executing the Holy Power generating rotation. Make too many mistakes, and much of the benefit of Haste is wasted.
  2. If Sacred Shield is kept up, and time on target melee swinging away is kept up, Haste passively boosts survivability very well by increasing the number of Sacred Shields, and increasing the number of Seal of Insight procs.
  3. The damage absorb from Sacred Shield and the healing from Seal of Insight deal with all incoming damage, not just physical. These abilities become especially advantageous when dealing with bleeds, diseases, poisons, ect.
  4. The damage mitigation from haste is the primary concern here, so think of the extra DPS as a nice bonus, comparable to a Disc Priest's Atonement.

Mastery has two active and one passive components:
  1. "Increases the damage reduction of your Shield of the Righteous by X%." SotR is your primary damage reduction, and it scales well with Mastery. Choosing between Mastery and Haste comes down to whether you want more SotR up-time, or a stronger SotR.
  2. "Adds X% to your Bastion of Glory." This is our only major health return other than Lay on Hands, and it also scales well with Mastery.
  3. "Increases your chance to block melee attacks by X%." This is the passive side of Mastery, as it just reduces damage taken overall without much, or any input from the Pally.
I have two Mastery on-use trinkets that I use on the beginning of taunt swaps, or on packs of adds, so I feel comfortable reforging for Haste over Mastery. Some tanks stack Mastery over Haste, which is fine, just know what your goals are. I'm also flexible on this point.

Parry and Dodge are less optimal for Prot Pallys in principle and in practice. By in principle, I mean that mitigation is better than avoidance, simply due to the unpredictability of avoidance. A bad string of un-avoided, unmitigated melee swings can and will kill a tank. Although avoidance does reduce total damage taken, it leaves that damage taken spikier. Spike damage is what kills tanks, not total damage. So, in practice, Hit, Expertise, Haste, and Mastery reduce spike damage much better than Parry or Dodge. This is the point I am much less flexible on, since I consider avoidance stacking to be a rejection of the Prot Pally play-style, or at best, lazy tanking. Did you read those posts?

Finally, Crit is useless for Prot for survivability. However, I take any gear that is a significant ilevel upgrade, even if it has Crit, as my Thunderforged shoulders do. The extra Stamina, Strength, and Armor going from 502 to 528 more than make up for the loss in secondary stats. This is an unusual circumstance, I think, since I'm relatively new to the team and I'm taking the upgrades where I can get them.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting Ahead of the Curve

  I'm taking a happy break from boring anyone who actually reads this. I'll continue proposing 4th specs later and get to what I really care about: Killing Lei Shen before 5.4. (Which I did, Thursday night.)

  The way this expansion is going, it seems to be analogous to clearing ToC in Wrath, or Firelands in Cata. It's not the end of the game, it's not the beginning, it's just that middle raid that breaks up the weak teams that couldn't clear the first raids until after nerfs and higher ilevel gear come out. As a casual player with a varied work scheduled, I happen to fall in with these teams at times. I don't like that. I'm no elitist, but I do want to play with people who don't give up easy, who accept criticism (or even better, self-evaluate), who are on time and ready with gems, enchants, a good reforge, who have looked up the fights and know what they should do, and who are willing to do something different if something's not working. I like players that are dedicated and have what I personally call scientific humility.

  Humility is too often, I think, defined in a self-effacing way. To say "No, I'm not that good" when in fact, you are deserving of whatever praise comes your way, that's false humility. Real humility must include honesty, so when someone compliments you, just thank them and move on. Also, when you think you know better, have courage and speak up. Humility is not remaining silent, it's offering solutions or other useful information in a dispassionate, matter-of-fact way, then letting raid leaders do with it what they will. The focus should be on the fight, it's mechanics, and how your team can meet them. Usually people define humility as "Put others needs before your own." I define it as "Face the facts with honesty. The truth is bigger than you."

  These two qualities, determination and real humility, are necessary qualities to a successful raid team. They need to be present in each raider, too. If a raid leader lacks humility, they restrict the raid from offering new solutions to problems. If a raid member lacks humility, they're prone to finger-pointing, may be resistant to criticism or different strategies for a fight, and may not come prepared, thinking they can wing it. If any raid member lacks determination, they hold the team back in many ways, especially on 10man, often in the form of low DPS or heals, or low performance mitigating damage as a tank.

  There are a few warning signs to a bad group that I've noticed. I think calling it quits for any of these reasons is justifiable:
  • The raid leader takes an unannounced hiatus, especially if they're a tank. Don't bother gearing up an alt to replace them, since they'll shortly return from hiatus and assume their old spot. Just find a team with a more committed raid leader.
  • A consistently under performing raid member (i.e. less than half the average dps of others) is a friend of the raid leader, and never improves no matter how much gear they get. Good performance comes first from skill, then gear. If you don't have skill, you cannot ever perform well.
  • The raid leader calls the night early after only a few wipes on a new boss. That's just being a quitter. Don't follow a quitter.
  • You consistently go 10+ minutes between each attempt on a new boss, without any productivity. You should not be taking time out of your day to be at a lazy raid leader's beck and call.
  • A lack of progression is blamed on Blizz or the WoW Devs, or the changes in MoP. This frequently coincides with "How much better it was in Classic/BC/Wrath." Call bullshit on people who are unwilling to stick with it and learn something new. I played Classic in 2006 and Wrath from 2010 up to now. Classic sucked. Walking everywhere sucked. Leveling by grinding mobs sucked. Simple rotations sucked. Talent trees sucked. Hybrids sucked. 40man felt epic sometimes, but it mostly sucked. Farming 5 hours to prepare for raiding for 8 hours sucked. Reagents for 2-10 minute buffs sucked. Ammo and Soul Shards sucked. Wrath sucked. Arpen and +defense sucked. Bloated talent trees sucked. Spamming AoE in frenzied heroic "Pull the whole instance" runs sucked. Reagents, Ammo and Soul Shards still sucked. The game has been consistently getting better and better, anyone who says otherwise is probably too lazy to keep up.
  • The healers stop healing you, specifically. (Not including when you intentionally wipe it up.) Use an addon like Deathnote that tracks the actions leading up to a death. If you receive nothing other than splash heals (e.g. Atonement, Echo of Light, ect.) for 10-15 seconds before dying, something's probably wrong. If you think healers have given up on you, start gathering data, and when you are confident with your data, either bring it up with a raid leader if you care to before quitting, or just quit. Don't expect healers to change their mind, though. Even if a raid leader corrects them, just face it, they've given up on you.
  • You get passed over on gear without discussion or a roll. Quit on the spot. No good can come from staying with people that don't value your participation enough to let you even roll on gear you can use. This is not rage-quitting. This is facing the fact that you aren't wanted. Don't stay, because you will get passed up again.
  • Horribly offensive speech and/or bullying. Personally, I draw the line at being called a faggot. That's a very generous line, I think, and crossing it is the mark of a total douchebag. To be precise, it doesn't offend me to just hear the word, but to be personally called it is unacceptable. To hear others called it, or to hear objects or situations called it, i.e. "Garalon is being a real faggot tonight" or "This shit is so gay", all this wears my patience thin very quickly. I will immediately quit if I am called a faggot. I will eventually quit if I hear the word too often and in particularly bad ways. Draw your own line, and announce it if you have to. If it's crossed, leave. If you keep pushing the line back just to avoid quitting, you're in for heartache.

  To counter balance all this negativity, I also propose some tense moments not to quit over:
  • When someone loses patience, yells, blames one or a few people for the last 5 wipes, or otherwise acts like an asshole for a moment. If it's just for a moment, fine. Take a deep breath and don't let it bother you. If it's not typical behavior, just a little outburst here and there, take it in stride.
  • When someone wipes the raid 3 times in a row due to the same mistake. It happens. Be patient. WoW has moved from lots of performance based fights (DPS/healing checks) to mostly gimmick fights (dance around a little, click the button, fly around a little, burn phase, run away! run back!) Sometimes it takes a few tries to learn.
  • Not horribly offensive speech and/or teasing. Teasing is often slightly offensive, so just be tough and hit back. It's a team building exercise of sorts. If you're really not cool with it, though, just say something. Good people will know to stop. Also important, I think, is that the difference between teasing and bullying is that we tease the people we love, but we bully the people we hate.
  • You get told to shut up on vent. I get told this all the time, because I love discussing minute details of all the things that interest me. I'll talk all night long if a raid leader doesn't tell me to shut up and pull. 

  These lists are by no means complete, just what I can think of off the top of my head. I'm open to criticism on any of these points, of course, or just differing opinions. I always strive for real humility.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fourth Spec for Hunters

  OK, so continuing on my last post, I'm going to put more meaningless ideas out there. Really, I don't expect for a minute that any class other than Druids will get a fourth spec, since there's no need to do so. Guardian and Feral were separated for balancing issues, not to add to the game. Giving fourth specs to other classes would add a lot of new balancing/debugging issues, and would use up development time and effort that could go towards the Dance Studio and ponies. We were promised ponies!

  Anyway, onward into the realm of imagination

Saturday, July 6, 2013

RE: Fourth Spec Blues, a Fourth Spec for Warriors

   This started as a comment replying to an article on WoW Insider, but expanded to my whole take on it. This is kind of fun.

  I tend to view the variety of tanking classes in terms of how they deal with incoming damage (especially the active mitigation component), not necessarily what weapons they equip, whether or not they can block, or what major cooldowns they have. My short summary with major mastery effects noted(m) is:
  • Warriors -  Increased block(m) or a universal absorb, a small self heal.
  • Paladins - A universal absorb, physical damage reduction(m), some self healing.
  • DK's - A physical damage absorb(m), a lot of self healing(m).
  • Druids - Increased dodge or major self healing, other self healing, high armor(m).
  • Monks - Increased parry and dodge, stagger(m) and purify, some self healing.

  Looking at it this way, I'd say we have 2 avoidance heavy tanks (Monks and Druids), 2 absorb tanks (Pallys and DK's), with Warriors having both an absorb and increased block. The new tank spec would have to be unique enough from each of them, while also bringing something new to the table. Let's go with the author's Blademaster (Blade), dual wielding.

  First off, I think mastery would have to be unique. Compensating for the lack of block with a different kind of block (blocking with two crossed weapons) based on mastery as the article suggests is, with all due respect to the author's greater Warrior background, inelegant when tied to mastery. It's too much of a block clone, bringing nothing really new to the table. I suggest instead having the crossed swords mechanic (which is totally cool, don't get me wrong) made a passive effect. Be in Defensive Stance, and the effect is always mitigating damage. As an aside, crossing swords is not an effective technique in real life.

  I think a more unique mastery effect would be better tied to two active mitigation abilities:

  First, an attack that casts a buff when it lands, boosting dodge/parry simultaneously. Lets call it Wind Blade (WB), and give it a 60 rage cost, as Prot Warriors active mitigation has. This would be like a combination of Monk's Shuffle and Druid's Savage Defense in principle. What's new is mastery having an effect on this type of active mitigation, as Paladins and DK's have on theirs.

  This leaves non-physical damage still unaccounted for, and I think this is a great place to incorporate self healing. All tanks self heal to some degree or another, but none so much as DK's do. I think there's room to share this concept.

  Perhaps mastery can buff a Blademaster's self healing using abilities already present in the Warrior toolkit, along with some new kind of self heal for 60 rage. Let's call it Burning Blade (BB). This would make Blade's active mitigation mirror Prot's. Where Prot has block (Shield Block) or absorb (Shield Barrier), Blade has dodge/parry (WB) or self healing (BB).

  Now before you say "Congratulations, you just invented a Druid with parry!" first consider what we could do with BB. Let's make it an attack that casts a buff when it lands, causing all damage done to be copied as a self heal, modified by a percentage that works out so that it doesn't overshadow WB in all circumstances. I think it would stack well with Berserker Rage.

  What we have then is a dual-wielding Warrior tank, with a flat amount of a different kind of block, one active mitigation that uses mastery, and a second active mitigation that uses mostly strength, mastery, hit, and expertise. Also useful to a certain degree would be haste and crit. Too many stats? Let's fix that.

  We can make 7.5% hit and expertise caps valuable by making so that both WB and BB must land to cast their respective buffs, while also making them unable to be parried. Hit and expertise would be boosting the amount BB heals for significantly. While haste and crit would also boost BB healing, they would likely not be as powerful contributors as mastery, if balanced correctly. What we then have is all strength plate being useful to Blade tanks, but with a probable stat priority of mastery>7.5% hit/exp>dodge/parry>crit/haste.

This really is fun. Next I'm going to talk about how Hunters should be able to tank.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Death Strike Mystery Solved

A couple weeks ago, I got into a somewhat heated discussion about the healing from Death Strike. No cries of "noob!" went out, though, we kept it civil. I maintained that, since patch 4.2 (it was actually 4.3), Death Strike has always healed and casted Blood Shield, whether or not it hits. The other player (another Death Knight tank, not a noob), maintained that it had to hit for the heal and shield to both proc. We went around in circles for a few minutes, discussing how to interpret the tooltip of Death Strike, whether it implied that it had to hit or not. He pointed out the new addition in MoP to the tooltip, "This attack cannot be parried." I maintained that this was a moot point, as Death Strike heals and cast Blood Shield based on damage taken, not damage done.

I've only done a few alt runs on this character, not even killing a boss twice on normal mode, much less completing the raids. My Paladin and Rogue are the ones getting it done, so my Death Knight has been very much an alt. I was not studied up completely on MoP changes to Blood Death Knights. We had both read the same tooltip, and come to very different conclusions, with significant stat-priority related concerns:

Presumption #1: If it does not heal when it does not hit, we must cap hit and expertise at 7.5% each for a significant boost to threat/DPS, but more importantly to boost survivability by ensuring every Death Strike heals and shields.

Presumption #2: If it always heals, even when missed or dodged, then we have the option to cap hit and expertise up to 7.5% for a significant boost to threat/DPS, and a boost to survivability via Scent of Blood, level 75 talents (Blood Tap, Runic Empowerment, or Runic Corruption), and by ensuring Outbreak does not miss, which would cause us to loose a Death Strike by using 2 runes to set up diseases. That last one is very minor, but still worth noting.

If Presumption #1 is true, capping hit and expertise is mandatory. My main in MoP so far has been my Paladin tank, and I'm not going to evangelize capping hit and hardcapping expertise on a Paladin in order to ensure Active Mitigation runs smoothly, only to then reject Active Mitigation on a Death Knight. That would be irrational and idiotic.

If Presumption #2 is true, then capping hit and expertise is optional. It's a strong option, since tank DPS matters, especially with high vengeance, and even more so with Riposte coming in 5.4. However, it is still optional. We can drop some threat/DPS for more mastery and/or avoidance, for an overall boost to survivability.

So far, I have been playing under Presumption #2, but still capping hit and expertise. This was because I was using a blue weapon for the longest time, so I really needed the threat. As soon as Bo-Ris dropped, though, this issue came up.

I did not admit defeat in that first argument, but the change to the tooltip was nagging at me. Self doubt sucks, but we should all have the humility to accept that we might be wrong. I decided to double check my sources.

Wowhead comments were silent about an MoP change.

Wowpedia was silent.

WowDB had one user comment that it always heals (anecdotal).

Icy-Veins says about hit/expertise: "A viable alternative is to prefer Hit and Expertise above Dodge and Parry. This is a small (practically negligible) survivability loss at the expense of a rather considerable (roughly 10%) increase in DPS, which can help if the DPS requirement of the encounter is very strict."

Elitist Jerks is contradictory in their Blood DK article:

Under Stat Priority, it states: "Note however that even if Death Strike should fail to land, you will still gain the shield and heal from it so if you just want to cap for Death Strike, you should reconsider (it still helps with Scent of Blood and smoother T5 [level 75 talents] procs though; you will never waste a GCD and lose RP if your Rune Strike fails to land for example)"

More specifically, under The Value of Accuracy Stats: "With Death Strike healing and shielding even if it fails to connect, accuracy stats do not offer as much for survival as they did before that change. In general, if you are gearing for accuracy you do it because you care about your DPS since the uncapped Vengeance makes actually landing your abilities much more important (the downside of Death Strike always shielding and healing us is that the Runes get consumed even if Death Strike fails to land and does 0 damage."

Under Timing Death Strikes, subsection The effect of avoidance and low/high damage periods on our timing,it implies a missed Death Strike results in no heal or shield: "Final notes: I strongly recommend gearing for accuracy because at times you will deliberately take as much damage as you comfortably can in your Death Strike window to get a big Blood Shield out of it. If you cannot guarantee that your next Death Strike will land, you will be in a very vulnerable situation and risk death."

Under the Class Specific section of What's New in 5.0?: "- Death Strike is back to it's pre-4.2 incarnation: If it misses or is avoided, you don't lose the Runes but neither do you get the heal/Blood Shield. In return though, Death Strike cannot be parried anymore so once you gear for the spell hit cap it will always land (that's 7.5% Hit and Expertise each)."

So which one is it? Time for ctrl+F "Death Strike" and into the comments.

"Death Strike is currently bugged and continues to give the shield on dodges and misses. Here is a lot i threw together proving it. You can see my shield is refreshed at the exact same time stamp as DS is dodged. World of Logs - Real Time Raid Analysis" - Reniat, 8/29/12 (patch 5.0.4)

"Can someone explain this to me: even when my deathstrike misses or is dodged, i still get a heal, but it is smaller than the heal i would get if the ability would land - about 60-70%. I can understand deathstrikes not healing if they miss, i can understand them healing even if the ability does miss, but what's this 60-70% heal then? Can anyone explain the actual current mechanics regarding death strike hit/miss/dodge?" - Khiandor 12/04/12 (patch 5.1)

"My testing confirms that missed/dodged Death Strikes don't interact with Scent of Blood (they neither consume the stacks nor benefit from them)". - Malacar 12/06/12 (patch 5.1)

Nothing further is stated relating to Death Strike missing and either healing or not healing.

As a note about Scent of Blood, the guide states under The effect of Scent of Blood stacks on our gameplay: "Simply put: It has none."

It seems to me that I was right. Death Strike always heals. Even if it heals less without Scent of Blood hitting, it will still heal greater based on damage incoming, and will cast/refresh Blood Shield. This bug may be fixed eventually, so I'll be paying attention for that possible change. In the meantime, I'll continue capping anyway, since tank DPS matters, but with the option of shifting to a higher mastery build.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Knocking on Lei Shen's Door

  I pugged with <Egalitarian Misanthropes> on Proudmoore last week for a Dark Animus kill (and a few Iron Qon attempts) and they invited me back this week. We did up through Megaera Thursday night, with only some trouble on Tortos, and tonight we went up through Twin Consorts. We even 1 shot Primordius. After the run, they made me Haunted Steel Greathelm. One person expressed reservation, wondering how long I'd stick around, but it was overruled. I gave them 32k for it anyway. A solid tanking helm is worth the investment, and I'll be upgrading it ASAP next week along with the well itemized legplates that dropped. They initially offered to make the parry/mastery helm, so I had to have the "Conversation" about Prot Pally stats. No one called me a noob right off, so far, so good.

  They post logs, so tomorrow I'll be able to start critically assessing my performance. This is something I have not been able to do up until now. My computer can't handle logging. Mostly I'll be looking for how well I mitigate melee damage. The big hits have big cooldowns, and I have plenty of those. Cooldown usage is not an issue. How well I actively mitigate the real tank killer, spike damage from melee, depends on how well I generate and spend Holy Power.

  I'm hesitant, since I've been burned before, but what's different about this group is that, though they call themselves casual, they progress. I checked them out on wowheroes, and they have plenty of raiding experience, not just 6+ kills on Jin'rok and 2 Horridon this tier, or just 1 kill of the last boss of previous raids. There isn't any bad DPS being blatently carried, and mistakes are owned up to immediately. I know a good group when I see that fingers don't have to be pointed.

  So wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ignore the Trolls, Have Fun

  First, I'll have to admit the inherent hypocrisy of saying "Ignore the trolls" then launching into a review of a troll.

  It's getting about that time in the xpac cycle that all this crap gets recycled. When I started back up mid-Wrath, all this was in full swing: "Catering to casuals, dumbing down the game, welfare epics". Then mid Cata, with LFR on the horizon: "Catering to casuals, free epics for everyone, class homogenization". Now in mid-MoP: "Catering to casuals, raiding made easy for noobs, talents mean nothing anymore". OK, so I'm a hypocrite here too, since I bitched about Tier gear dropping in LFR.

Like a dog returns to it's vomit:

  What brought this to my attention was Big Bear Butt's post, and he reams this guy a hell lot better than I could, so check it out. I also want to ream him a little myself, so here we go with a few quotes from the video:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Second Horridon Kill

  What I anticipated being the main/alt setup is now reversed. My tank was on a weekday ToES run, my Rogue did this weekend's ToT run. Neither are a proper 3rd group, and both are in a state of flux. Uncertainty is present.

  Anyway, onto the Horridon kill numbers:

  My DPS continues to be low during the gate phases, jumping up from #6 to #3 during the end burn phase. I was intentionally not using cooldowns at all during the gates, since I was focused more on surviving. I'm the only DPS that has to worry about 110% threat threshold as opposed to the 130% threshold ranged gets. I die a lot, almost always to melee attacks. Sometimes from debuffs, but that hasn't been too much of a stumbling block for our group.

  Tricks only can be used every 30 seconds, so I try to use it for sure on every pair of the high priority adds each gate, again on large packs. I hit Tricks and spam a few Fan of Knives ending with a Crimson Tempest. This actually drops my DPS since Fan of Knives is usually replacing Mutilate only when there are 4 or more adds and Crimson Tempest is not a part of any standard Assassin AoE rotation that I know of. I'm considering taking it off my bars and just sticking with Envenom. The goal instead is just to help establish threat on multiple targets. When I don't have Tricks up, I try to single target only the highest kill priority until dead, then spread 3-4 point Ruptures on adds that the tank has good threat on, then Marked for Death> Envenom on adds that are about to die.

  Marked for Death is working out well, but it's best benefit isn't actually it's small but visible DPS increase. I observe that there are less stragglers to deal with after crashing a gate and moving to the next one. Killing off these lower priority adds has been an improvement for the whole group of course, but on my end of it, I think the extra 5 point Envenoms are exactly what's giving me the little bit of burst to contribute to that part of the fight.

  Overall DPS on adds, however, is not improved greatly. All through the fight, my DPS is between 50k-60k DPS. It more than doubles during the burn phase, since I'm synching up cooldowns with good effect, so perhaps gate phase DPS can also be improved with judicious use of cooldowns. Typically one would want to burn the Dinomancers, but I'm actually on orb duty, so no burst there. I suppose hitting a cooldown on the pairs of adds would help, but still, survival is paramount.

  Which leads me back to my initial problem: I die a lot, almost always to melee attacks. Every time I die, I think it may be decreasing the likelyhood healers will heal me. Raid healers prioritize, and people who die a lot tend to be seen as bad investments of mana, which is a finite source for them (tank healers, not so much). I use meters to gauge how healers respond to relatively higher damage taken by DPS players by comparing Damage Taken with Healing Taken. If the place on the list is within a position or two, no problem. Healers are responding proportionally to damage taken. If Damage Taken is much higher than Healing Taken, then there may be a problem.

  In each of our attempts and in our kill, I was in the same relative place on both meters, and I am encouraged by this. This means that if I focus my efforts on what I can control, i.e. better burst DPS and better survivability, then what I can't control, i.e. healing received, will continue unabated.

  There's still the uncertainty concerning scheduling and grouping to address, but that's something I have very little control over, and is too close to airing out laundry. I only hope that soon a group or two will settle into a steady routine. I don't care who leads, or which team gets my DK or Rogue. I just want to raid.