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.