Thursday, July 31, 2008

Apanthrope, a definition

I'm a word snob. A linguaphile, if you will. I don't apologize for it, but I do apologize that I forget that not everyone else is.

So, for the record:
Apanthrope (AH-pan-throwp): A person who does not feel any compulsion, positive or negative, toward other people and does not actively seek out their company.
See also apathy.
Contrast with misanthrope (a person who wishes other people harm) and philanthropist (a person who helps other people).

Now you know.

As far as pronouncing it ... the last part is one solid syllable. The stress is on the first syllable. If I can get Blogger to embed a Flash Audio clip of me saying it, I'll do that. If it's easier for you, think of it as AHP-ahn-throwp. It's NOT:
  • ah-PAN-throwp (should be first, not second syllable stressed)
  • ah-pan-thro-pee (pseudo-Latin?)
  • ah-pan-thro-pay (French?)
  • AY-pan-throwp (should be a short "ah", not long "ay")
So you can see why my blog is titled "Apanthrope, Shadow Priest". The "Apanthrope" is both my character name, as well as a description.

Update: Well, I can't include an MP3, but it will do video. Goofy, but there you go.
video

Addon: Baldrick

Do you do your dailies? Of course you do.

Get Baldrick.

Baldrick adds a single button to your interface, along with a single (changeable) keybind. But it's a very smart button:
Baldrick
All of those dailies that you do that require some random item? Baldrick automagically changes to suit whichever quest you are working on. It is geo- and context-aware. If you are near Oshu'gun, Baldrick becomes the Multiphasic Goggles. If you are doing your cooking quest, Baldrick becomes the pot. If you are bombing Skettis, Baldrick becomes the ammo. If you are running Quel'danas ... well, you get the point. Baldrick is immensely helpful.

All with a single button that disappears when you don't need it. Never fumble around in your bags again for dailies.

(To be clear, the first shot with the "Nothing to do" tooltip is Baldrick in debug mode. Most of the time, you don't even see it.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Addons: wowmatrix

Let's face it -- WoW is great, but it's missing quite a few features. Blizzard made an interface UI for a reason. I'm going to start doing posts about addons. I've recently started the massive undertaking of cleaning out some of the 200+ addons I had been running. I figured it probably would benefit a few people to see some of the more helpful and obscure addons. Sure, everyone knows Auctioneer and Questhelper. But there are so many more.

Before you can start seriously playing around with addons, you need to get a good addon manager. You can't just install an addon and forget about it. When Blizzard has their patch Tuesdays they almost invariably change something that some addons will depend on. Those addons then need to be updated to account for those changes. Most addon creators are pretty good about updating regularly, but some take a few days. You don't want to have to go out to Curse.com or WowAce.com or whatever your favorite addon webiste is and check to see if anything new has come out.

If you are running even a single addon, you need to be running an addon manager.

I've messed around with a few of them. Don't bother with the Curse manager, it's bloated and buggy and overkill. I used WAU2 (WowAceUpdater2) for a long time, as it is very good at what it does, and very fast. But it doesn't catch all of the non-Ace addons that I use. So, nowadays I use wowmatrix from wowmatrix.com.
wowmatrix
One of wowmatrix's main selling points is that, like WAU2, it is a stand-alone application. There's no installer -- you just run the app and go. You will have to point it at your WoW installation folder, but after that it just does its thing.

Get in the habit of running wowmatrix before you login for the first time each day. I find that it will catch a few out of date addons each day, and dozens after a patch Tuesday. It will automatically check for updates when you run it, so you just need to give it a minute or two to do its thing, then click the "Update All" button. Easy.

The other nice feature of wowmatrix is that you can install more addons without having to fire up a web browser. Click on the "Get More Addons" tab and do a search. Sure, it's not going to be aware of every addon ever developed, but you'll find that it will handle the vast majority of them. And, even better, if you manually install an addon that it doesn't already know about, it will do its best to try and keep that addon up to date.

My only complaint is that wowmatrix is on the slow side. Post-patch Tuesday updates where several dozen addons are being updated can take up to 5 minutes. Maybe I was just spoiled by WAU2 which was lightning fast.

Oh, and wowmatrix works for all you Mac users. Yay!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Magtheridon, round 2, fight!

Tonight was Magtheridon with Origin.
Magtheridon up
Long story short: we totally win at the WoW.
Magtheridon down
I got #5 overall for damage done, and #7 for damage on the final try. I might have taunted the other SPriest, Casprin, a bit too much about not mashing his buttons hard enough. After beating him squarely on the initial attempts, he got me by 3k damage, or about 0.7%. Still, I'm extremely pleased with my performance. I still need to work on my rotation under pressure, but I'm getting noticeably better.

Also, I am now completely convinced that SWD is uber for raids. WWS says that I did 31k self-inflicted damage, but healed myself for 61k. If I'm reading it right, I also gave each of my party just about 20k in mana, or the equivalent of 7 Super Mana Potions each, or 160 MP5. Win!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Practice: Black Morass

We ran regular Black Morass again twice for some more people that needed the Kara key quests. This time, I was pure DPS and tried to work in SWD as much as I could. My rotation wasn't perfect, but it seemed pretty good.

I feel like I've learned something and maybe progressed a little ... but I would also like to hear from someone who has more experience reading WWS reports. How did I do?

The first run with the Paladin tank was rough. He just couldn't regen mana fast enough to hold aggro in the beginning, so was doing a low-mana rotation, which was in turn making it harder for him to outpace my threat. (With Salv and no damage buffs.) Around the fourth portal I told him that the conservative route just wasn't cutting it (I was spending more time /dancing than doing damage), and told him to go all out. That enabled me to put up VE, which got him heals and thus mana, and everything moved on quite a bit faster. Threat was still a problem, and I ended up pulling aggro in the last 10% more than once, but we had the DPS to burn them down.

The second run with the Druid tank was a 4-man effort, but was actually a little easier. The tank had a much easier time holding agrro, so I was really able to go all out on all of the portals.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Imba?

I just realized that I've been sustaining a rolling 300 +Shadow gain per month pretty much since I started the game. If I was a naive idiot, I would say that means that I only have 6 or so weeks until I down Kil'jaeden.

Yeah, right.

Seriously, though, thanks to my be.imba.hu profile, the gear threads on shadowpriest.com, and my own data mining, I can see that 1100 +Shadow is realistically attainable. At this point, all it would take is gold for enchant mats and gems.

But here's the thing: I have the raw power, but not the control.

That 1100 number might get me a spot in a TK raid, but quite frankly my skills aren't up to it just yet. I need to practice. Not just practice going all out (Dr. Boom), but also practice running around and dealing damage when I can. Kara runs are good for that, as there is a nice variety between the boss fights — stand-n-spam for Maiden, run-n-dot for Nightbane and Shade, back-n-forth for Prince, multitask for Moroes.

Problem being, it's a week before you can do them again. And how well is your party going to take it if you ask “hey, can you all just stop DPSing and wipe, because I really need the practice”?

I haven't set foot in ZA yet, but maybe it's the same?

Actually ... as I type this out, a thought occurs to me. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it, as it is kindof a “duh”: I really just need to PUG (or, preferably, guild-assist) every frickin' thing I can. Kara, ZA, Mags, Gruul, and any Heroic I can get into. Is that the answer? Brute force it?

Not that I mind, of course. I've yet to run into any content that I am tired of doing. Heck, I still do 15-25 dailies every single day. I'm even looking forward to revisiting BRD for Brewfest, and I hated BRD when I was leveling.

I don't know where I'm going with this little self-deprecating diatribe. Just still feeling like I've fast-tracked myself to stuff that I'm not ready for. Worried that people are going to figure out that I don't actually have a clue what I am doing.

So ...

Enchants to get me past 1100:
Enchant/ItemDmgGoldSPS
10g
LPS
25g
GPE
11g
Fi
27g
Wa
25g
Ma
17g
Sh
25g
Ne
50g
Runic Spellthread15/+10220g101
Bracers, Spellpower15462g666
Gloves, Spellpower15318g666
Cloak, Subtlety-262g428
Runed Crimson Spinel x218/+8185g
Total:+481447g4128661681

That would drop me at 1106. No, I am not including Soulfrost for now — the mats are ridiculous for the extra spell damage, and I'd rather wait until I got my Badge or Arena (ha!) blade.

From there, assuming no gear upgrades, it'd be 300g for each of 12 Runed Crimson Spinel and +3 damage. Oh, yay. I can't express how much fun 3600g is going to be to farm, all in the name of getting to 1142. And along the way, I'll hopefully be getting new dropped gear.

Oy.

But it's good to at least have a plan, right? It's worked out well this far.

Oh, and I've noticed that I'm getting dead less and less in BGs lately. To the point where it's kindof creepy, actually. In the last couple of days I've managed to take down several Warriors, Rogues, Druids, and Mages much faster and easier than I was expecting. I've had a few zero-death runs. When my Prot Warrior guildmate and I run BGs it's sick how well we work together and the path of carnage we create. Sure, I hit quite a bit harder than I used to, but maybe I'm actually getting better at it?

Kara on Crack

I got an invite this evening to do a badge run in Kara with some guys from Gank This. A scant two and a half hours later I had 22 badges in my bag and my new Handwraps of Flowing Thought.

Yeah, two and a half hours later. W. T. F?

I'm sure it's probably not a world record, but it's certainly a new one for me. The group was, obviously, wicked OP. The Druid tank had 22k health and didn't stop for anything. People went AFK and then had to run to catch up because the rest of us kept moving. The healers were bored, and only one of them ported out with less than 77 Mana Biscuits on him ... and he had 76.

With the exception of my Shackle and the Hunter's Freeze Trap on Moroes, we didn't use any other CC at any point.

I died a few times, but not excessively. Sometimes from my own stupidity (like not waiting for the red beam to hit the tank on Netherspite), sometimes from bad luck (on the trash before the Opera). I uploaded the WWS for the entire run if you'd like. No, I still didn't use any SWD, but based on recent comments, I certainly will now.

Oh, and after the gear upgrade and some more regemming, I am now sitting on 1058 +Shadow. In theory, I could get into TK right now. I don't see that as likely, but it is possible.

Again, I say: W. T. F? How did I get here?

I honestly never thought I'd make it this far before Wrath. And yet ... I keep progressing. It's awesome, albeit very surprising.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Personal WWS Reports

For better or for worse, I've decided to start uploading and making public my WWS reports. Given my limited raiding experience, I'm hoping to use them to see how I could improve.

First item of business: use more Shadow Word: Death. I know, I know. It's hard, healing my way through to 70, then switching to Shadow and expecting healers to keep up with me as I periodically hit myself upside the head. Especially on fights where we're not sure if the healers are going to go /oom before the end.

Yeah, I get that more DPS == more mana for healers, but I'd need to see some pretty definitive numbers showing that there wasn't a net loss in mana due to extra healing before I'd be okay with it. For fights like Lurker where I am guaranteed to not get aggro, sure, maybe. But other new stuff? I'll need to work up the courage, first.

Raiding with another guild

Because of my views on raiding guilds, I end up running almost all of my raids as the only non-guild player in a guild-sponsored run. Lately I have been running with Origin, but last night I needed to get a bit of Kara in and got an invite to run with Alliance Homicide. They needed more DPS for Netherspite and the Prince, so in I went.

Being the only non-guild player in a run has the potential to be tricky. I find that it can generally go one of two ways. If the guild group is at a similar level of progression and has a good RL, then I will normally just STFU and do my best to fill my role. This is by far the easiest, and for me the preferred, outcome.

The other path is the tricky one. If the guild group is new to the content or the RL isn't quite where they need to be, I have a hard time with things.

But I'm starting in the middle. Let me back up.

Why don't I do the raiding guild thing? I used to, just not in WoW. I've played a few other MMOs, but by far the heaviest was Dark Age of Camelot. In DAoC, I progressed to being not just a GM, but one step beyond: the GM for the guild that led the largest raiding alliance on the server. In DAoC, for those that aren't familiar, guilds could join forces into an alliance, giving a shared alliance chat channel and other niceties. Raiding in DAoC was also a very different thing than in WoW — we'd regularly get 200+ people on a raid.

If you think coordinating 25 or even 40 people is rough, try coordinating 200 from 8 different guilds. Multiply your typical guild drama x8. So, after 3-4 months, I burned out. How could I not? Now, with WoW, I'm here with friends to just have fun.

Back to my story.

The problem is that I can lead. I really try not to, as I like being the anonymous face that helps but isn't noticed. But I do know how. When I am raiding with a group that the RL isn't stepping up to do what I think should be done, there is much gnashing of teeth as I try to bite my tongue. Instead, I offer up encouragement and try to motivate instead of pointing out what I think is missing.

Everyone has their own style, and far be it from me to assume that mine is any better. And, especially when running with a guild, I really don't want to step on their toes or make them look bad. The guild is supposed to look up to the RL for guidance, and I don't want to do anything to tarnish that image.

It's rough. Generally, even when I know that we're going to wipe, I'll continue to STFU and let us wipe. I know, that sounds horrible, but I am also a firm believer that wipes are a good thing, as they help everyone learn what not to do.

You're expecting me to say that the RL from the Alliance Homicide was bad, right? You'd be wrong.

The RL, Dytinn, actually did a pretty good job. Several of the players had never been to Netherspite or the Prince, and several were woefully undergeared, and yet we were able to down Netherspite and get the Prince to 2%. That's not bad! And, really, as it always is with the Prince, we didn't wipe due to lack of skill, we just got a few really bad Infernal drops. We kept an eye out and moved proactively instead of reactively, but we just had bad luck.

Through it all, I did my best to STFU and DPS.

But ... there was one thing that Dytinn needed to do that he didn't: he needed to get everyone on Vent. Eight out of ten were on Vent, but that just didn't work. The other two asked if they needed to get on Vent, but were told that it was no big deal. Sorry, but that's the wrong answer. Explaining complex fights like Netherspite and Prince to people that have never been there simply cannot be done effectively over chat and voice at the same time. Invariably, one of the groups is going to miss something. A few of our wipes happened because the non-Vent people weren't getting to where they needed to go.

In the end, my leader-nature got the better of me and I started outlining the main points in chat. "1. Don't ever pull aggro off the tank, so watch your Omen. 2. When you get Enfeebled and turn purple like me, run to the healer. 3. ..." I hope that it helped, but I am not so sure. It's a tough call, deciding where the line is between trying to help and looking like an overbearing know-it-all ass-hat.

I catch a lot of flak for being a non-guildie in a guild run. Some people think I am taking up a slot that could/should have gone to a guildie. Some people think that I am riding on the coat-tails of the guild. Some people are made uncomfortable by my very presence — like they can't talk with an outsider around.

It's cool. I swear. I'm here to do a job. I'll try to disrupt your lives as little as I can. Pretend I'm not here, and just know that the mana, health, DPS, and shackles are coming.

Bad day in WSG

It's never a good sign in your BG when the n00b SPriest has the highest kill count and damage.

Monday, July 21, 2008

SSC, take 2

This weekend marks my second foray into Serpentshrine Caverns. I am not in a raiding or progression guild, but the good people in Origin have been kind enough to invite me along for their last two runs. Good times!

Our Main Tank and guide for SSC was Luxora of Tempest, the #1 Horde guild on our server. She and and Vigaut, her MH, had been brought in by Casprin, the Origin GM.

Let me just say this and nothing more about Luxora: if you want 20+ people, mostly young guys, to STFU and do what they are told, have a smart woman with a soft British accent whisper in their ears, giving orders and telling them to stay calm and that they can do it. It helps if she can tank and hold aggro like superglue. 'Nuff said.

The Friday night run was for The Lurker Below. We'd wiped a few times on him last week, as we couldn't quite get the rhythm down. This run was similarly frustrating, but for a different reason: one of the adds kept bugging and going into Evade mode, teleporting around and one-shotting casters until the raid wiped. This happened twice, and we never could figure out what was causing him to do it.

Our third attempt looked like it was going to be another wipe. Luxora took a bad knockback and went out of LOS of the healers, going down at around the half-way mark. Honestly, though, it was the best thing that could have happened and pretty much guaranteed a win—it freed her up to talk everyone through the encounter. She issued concise orders, calling out timers and targets. The OTs were picked off one by one, but we adapted and knew we had it.

There was a bit of chaos as Lurker went down, as too many people were busy celebrating to remember that we still had adds to handle. Yours truly was the last fall, excepting only a Rogue who Vanished.
Origin downs The Lurker Below in Serpentshrine Caverns
We called it for the night, as it was late and everyone was pretty well fried.

Saturday night found us back at SSC. First target: Morogrim Tidewalker. This fight is similar in nature to the Lurker fight, in that it's all about getting the rhythm down. Luxora called out when the murlocs were about to spawn and we all paused DPS to let her get aggro so that they could be AoE burned down. People cleared Vent and called out when they were hit with the Watery Grave (Priest bubble FTW). We really came together as a group. It took us another 2 wipes to really get it, but again on the third try we got him:
Origin downs Morogrim Tidewalker in Serpentshrine Caverns
While I wasn't the last to fall on Tidewalker, as about half of the raid stayed up, I fell only two seconds before he did. (I suspect that, again, too many people were pre-emptively celebrating and not paying attention to what was going on around them, as I got rushed by what looked like several dozen murlocs.)

From there we moved on to Leotheras the Blind. Unfortunately, the Tidewalker fight had taken quite a bit out of us. I think we were all a little too burnt out and should have left Leo for Sunday, but I am not GM or RL so what do I know? The Leo fight didn't go nearly as well, with another 3 wipes before calling it for the night. Most of us had been told that we would be doing Hydross, not Leo, so almost no one knew what to expect.
Leotheras the Blind downs Origin in Serpentshrine Caverns
But, of course, it was still fun. Thanks again to the guys and gals at Origin (and Tempest) for having me along!

Good weekend, but very long

For now, I am too tired to go into details. Highlights:
  • I am now at 1010 +Shadow, unbuffed, thanks to a major regemming. Yay, 4 digits!
  • We downed Tidewalker in SSC, and got in a few good shots at Leotheras.
  • We ran an amazing Heroic Shattered Halls and got our Trial of the Naaru: Mercy quest done. I still need to go back for the Kalynna's Request questline, though. Bummer.
There's probably more, but I can't remember it right now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gear Longevity Chart, Beta 2

I've mentioned before that I've been working on this tiny little data mining project ... that just happens to now have ten thousand characters in it.

Long story short, it has undergone significant upgrades, and is now interactive! There are currently versions for: Shadow Priest, Holy Priest, Beast Master Hunter (Agility or Ranged Attack Power), and Protection Warrior. Gee, which specs do you think my guildmates are?

All of the versions start off showing you just Quest rewards and Crafted items, but can be expanded to include every kind of item available to that spec. Play around! Tell me if you break something.

Unfortunately ... it doesn't work in Internet Explorer 6, and is tricky in Internet Explorer 7. Sorry, folks, but I don't have time to work around busticated web browsers. Use Firefox or Safari or Opera or just about any sane web browser, please. Or, post the CSS workarounds as a comment and I'll update them.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Primal Priest

A comment on yesterday's entry struck home:
"I can see no end in sight to the endless farming for primals"

Yeah. Pretty much.
GearFireWaterShadowManaEarthAirTotal
FSW Shoulders210214
FSW Boots412420
FSW Robe716730
Belt of Blasting1515
SS Hood155155545
SS Legs155155545
Black Void336
Nimble Thought41216
Total624816451010191

191 Primals. Yeah, that's a ridiculous number. Don't try to figure out how much that would cost you on the AH—it would only depress you.

That 191 number assumes Shadowcloth specialty and making your own Spellcloth. If you can find a Spellcloth Tailor that will make it for you for only the mats, you lower your cost for the Spellstrike set by 28 Primals.

In theory, if you are proactive enough, you could specialize in Spellcloth first, before you can even wear the FSW gear. You'd make the 24 Spellcloth you need (12 trips), then respec to make Shadowcloth. The 150g respec cost would almost certainly be cheaper than the 28 Primals you'd save. But if you do that, then you need to not make any Shadowcloth during that time, as you'll be losing the Shadowcloth bonus. I'm not saying it's a good idea, but it is a theoretical possibility.

Unfortunately, I can't really offer any comforting words here. It is what it is. What I can say is that you probably won't farm all 191 of them. Instead, farm enough to get your FSW pieces as they become available to you. Once you hit 70, do dailies instead. Even as a fresh 70, you can pull in 75g+ per hour doing dailies. You won't have to buy all of your Primals, as you'll get a few motes as you do the dailies:
  • Fire: The Throne of Kil'Jaeden quests involve killing Fire elementals.
  • Shadow: The Multiphase quest puts you by Oshu'gun and all of the Void Reavers around there.
  • Water: When you do the Fishing quest, make sure you fish out any pools of fish, especially the Pure Water ones.
  • Mana: The Mana Wyrms in Bash'ir Landing drop these while you are collecting Mana Cells. Or, when you go up to Netherstorm to get your Sunfury Attack Plans, stop by the Violet Tower and kill a few elementals in the area.
  • Earth and Air: Grab these from the elementals in Nagrand when you are doing your Skinning and/or Cooking quests.

At each stop, make yourself hang around for an additional 10 minutes and farm a few more motes. They'll add up over time.

Don't get frustrated with another SPriest or Lock comes along and says something dumb like "omg you can get more primals/gold if you do ...". Ignore them. Almost invariably, people with that attitude have forgotten what it was like to be a fresh 70 with only 500-600 +Shadow. Farming sucks. Period. It doesn't get "easy mode" for SPriests until roughly T5-level, right about the time you don't need to farm Primals any more.

Yeah. /sigh.

There is one exception. Before I started this blog, I made a short 1-minute video showing how Shadow Priests can farm motes of water with a surprising efficiency. Even before level 70, you'll be good enough at it that the spawn rate of the mobs will be the limiting factor, not your skill.

Oh, and as a general rule:
it is very worth it to take the time to make Primal Mooncloth while you are making your Shadowcloth and Spellcloth.
Healers and bag-makers will trade you straight up for it. The primals to make it are almost always cheaper than buying the Shadowcloth or Spellcloth off the AH. As you pass through Shattrath, do a quick advert in /Trade: "WTT your Spellcloth or Shadowcloth for my Primal Mooncloth". If you get a bite, take a few minutes to complete the trade. If not, no harm done and no time wasted.

(Edit: Updated to include Bracers of Nimble Thought.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Downgear, Upgear

We ran regular Shadow Labs last night, as it was the daily and our guild's Hunter is lusting after the [Sonic Spear]. That, and I like Shadow Labs. It and Slave Pens are probably my two favorite 5-mans.

So there we were: a Heroic-geared Paladin healer, SPriest, and Mage, a Kara-geared Hunter, and ... a pre-Kara Warrior tank. Oh, and post-patch server lag that froze several people any time a mob was looted or a trade window was opened.

Long story short, I had to downgear for the first time last night. I ran almost the entire dungeon in my PvP gear (such as it is), which drops me down almost 80 spell damage. Even with that and me doing not much other than DOT and /dance, no MB except for bosses and counting to three between MFs, I still managed to get aggro a few times, even with Pallie Salv. I ended up hiding Omen and just winging it as I got tired of it screaming at me.

It was fun and all, and bosses went down fast and hard, but still quite a bit more work than I had anticipated.

...

On the flip side, I embezzled a bit from the guild bank and gemmed up the [Spellstrike Hood] I had made last night. I still have a bit of regemming to do to supplant all of the old +SpellHit gems I used to need, but I am pretty much done with my crafted gear for now. From here on out it is Badge and Tier loot.

I'm sitting at +926, but I think I can hit +950 on my current gear if I fix my gems and enchants. Not bad for a guy that just hit 70 two months ago, I think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Metareference

I got my first "this is going to be on your blog tomorrow, isn't it?" comment on Vent last night.

Happy to oblige, but I honestly don't remember what it was in reference to.

First Arena: 1-9

I am a squishy SPriest, and I have the resilience of tapioca pudding.

In 9 of 10 matches I was the very first target. Normally, I was stun-locked and dead before I could get a spell off, my Shadowguard being the only thing to produce damage. I did manage to get a single kill—a paladin, i think. SWD FTW.

After a few matches I did start to last longer than 10 seconds. I got my head on straight enough to Mass Dispel a Paladin bubble and an Iceblock. I finally remembered to Fear whenever the cooldown was up. Chain-dispelling Druids is fun.

But the one thing I am having trouble with: not tab-DOTing everyone there. I know that if I do that then the CC efforts of my team are in vain. But ... staying still and uninterrupted long enough to get off a MB? Riiiight. I did get a few MFs off, but the big blue frickin' laser beam made me a target every time. "Oh, you're still standing? I can rectify that."

And Proximo went crazy on our last game. I'm going to hope it was just a bug and not a hack, but it effectively disabled us as our coordination went out the window.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New trick: Focused Chain Shield

I ran Heroic Shattered Halls this weekend. We had a good group of guys, but we may have been slightly undergeared for it. Two of us needed it for our Trial of the Naaru: Mercy quests—which we didn't get because we wiped far too many times and missed all of the timers.

But it was still a good run. I learned quite a bit on those dozen wipes. I can appreciate a few wipes when learning an instance, and actually prefer it to a one-shot run. When I run it later with a few of my guildmates I am going to know what not to do.

And I figured out a new trick.

The Shattered Halls run had a Mage who was good and was keeping an eye on his threat, but with the number of mobs he was bound to get aggro eventually and often. Especially since we had a Druid tank, instead of a Paladin.

I've been running with a Shaman main healer lately. He's a great healer, but due to the specifics of Shaman healing (lack of HOTs and instant-cast heals) damage and healing tend to be spikier than with other healing classes. When we run with DPS that don't watch their threat, Mages especially, even the fastest reaction from the Shaman might not keep them up.

After we had to rez the Mage a half-dozen times or so, I got to thinking about what I could do to help. I was getting used to throwing out more bubbles lately, as the Shaman healer is overpowered and overgeared for much of what we have been running and tends to pull aggro off of most tanks. I could watch Pitbull for the Mage's threat to go red (meaning he got aggro), but bubbling him meant stopping what I was casting, targeting him, and throwing out a bubble. The Shaman could take a few hits, but the Mage was exceptionally squishy and kept getting one- or two-shotted.

Then I remembered that really neat Shackle macro that we use.

Sure enough, this did it:
/stopcasting
/cast [target=focus] Power Word: Shield

Better yet, the way I have my UI done up, the focus target goes above my own health bar, and is big and prominent. When it flashes red, I can't help but notice it no matter where else I am looking at the screen. I bound the macro to a single key and kept an eye out.

It made a noticeable difference, especially on the last boss fight. The Blade Dance that Kargath does wasn't one-shotting the Mage, but if the Mage already had aggro from one of the adds, he was guaranteed to go down. In that fight I had to step things up even further—instead of being reactive about the bubble I essentially chain-cast it throughout the entire fight. I watched for the Weakened Soul debuff to time out, then as soon as the shield went down I threw up another one, whether or not the Mage currently had aggro. After that, the Mage never went below 50% health.

Yeah, I went out of mana with 5% left on Kargath and ended up wanding my way through the end, but we all stayed vertical.

So now I have a new tool in my toolbelt. I just have to remember to use it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Exalted, two new areas, one long night

Thanks to running the SSO dailies for the past two weeks, last night I got this nice message:
You are now Exalted with the Shattered Sun OffensiveWhich also means that I now get these goofy messages from the NPCs:
But that's not even the big news. Last night, thanks to knowing people who know people, I made it into some new content.

I was literally one minute away from logging out for the night when Udevil got on vent and said that Origin was running a Lurker raid (SSC) and had several open slots due to a scheduling snafu. (They had both Kara and SSC down for the same night.) I glanced at my whiteboard and saw that the Spell Damage requirement for SSC was 900. I just got my [Spellstrike Pants] the day before and hadn't had a chance to properly gem them, but I was standing at 856. I had just finished a boatload of dailies and had some 350g and 20 Badges on me. It was a theoretical possibility that I might get close to 900. I asked Udevil to confirm that 900 was the requirement, which he did, and the guys thought I should go for it.

Ranii stepped up and offered to cut some gems for me, as the selection on the AH was pretty thin for reds. 300g got me one [Crimson Spinel], and 15 Badges got me a second. Slons offered to whip up some [Mystic Spellthread], and Ranii had the [Primal Mana] for it.

Holy crap, this might actually happen.

Skipping to the good part, it did happen. I was summoned and within a minute had two [Runed Crimson Spinel] and my spellthread. I got off the second elevator in SSC with exactly +900 Spell Damage.
Serpentshrine Cavern 1Hi, ma!Serpentshrine Cavern 2Wicked cool, eh?

Unfortunately, 4 wipes later we still hadn't downed Lurker. On the first 3 wipes I was in the last 3 or 4 people to die (being the very last on the first wipe), so I felt pretty confident that I had it down. But then 90 seconds into our fourth attempt I was the first one down. I was falling into the water as the Spout hit me. I hadn't tried to cut it close -- I jumped as soon as I heard the call. But I hadn't been paying enough attention to DBM and thus didn't have enough warning, as I was only a few degrees off from the tank that bought it at roughly the same time. We were the only two down, but the truth is that we just didn't have enough DPS.

Eventually the RL called it, as the fish had respawned. Everyone ported to Shatt and was told to head up to Gruul's. Awesome!

Maulgar and his crew took three attempts. There was some confusion as to healers and tanks and Hunter misdirects, so the Mage tank kept going down. I macroed a PWS for my focus, set it to the Mage tank, and spammed it whenever the timer was up. I doubt it helped all that much, but every little bit, right?

On to Gruul!
Gruul the DragonkillerGrr! Arrgh!

Gruul was a one-shot. We didn't have much time left on his Enrage timer, and the tank got to the point where he was being hit for almost 10k a shot, but the healers kept him up and the band played on. I managed to avoid most of the cave-ins, only missing the animation on two of them. I ran out of mana literally as Gruul went down: a Flay was cut short with an oom message (stupid bug), so I know I had exactly one left. Gruul dropped a second into it. That was just too cool for words.

I came out in DPS just behind the other Shadow Priest, Caspin, who was the raid leader. For it being my first time at Gruul and not being sure of myself, I'm not unhappy with that.

It was a long night, but it was fun. I honestly didn't think I'd make it into SSC any time soon. I'd been hoping for a Gruul PUG, but this worked out so much better.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crafting Cooldowns FTL

I've been farming and saving for a week to get my mats for my Spellstrike set. Not being an Alchemist, I didn't know that Transmute: Primal Might has a 20-hour cooldown. D'oh!

wtb TEN Alchemists that can transmute Primal Might.

Long story short: when you start to work on your Spellstrike set, do the transmutes as you get the Primals. Don't save them all up for one big orgiastic transmute party. Because, you know, it won't be.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What (not) to wear, Public Beta 1

Here's the first semi-real version of the chart I mentioned last time. It is essentially a "how long am I going to wear this, and when can I expect to get it?" chart for SPriests. This image just shows the Feet for now so that you can get a feel for it.


  • Horizontally along the bottom you can see the +Shadow damage of the character wearing the specific gear.
  • The vertical orientation is meaningless—it's just an order to make a pretty layout.
  • The width of each gear bar is the +Shadow range for which people are currently wearing that gear. There is at least one person at the very beginning of that range, and one at the very end of that range. (Except for the perfect squares, which mean that only one person has it equipped, but I didn't want a zero-width sliver.)
  • The color theme tells you where you get the item. Bright yellow gear, for example, are quest rewards, while the darker gold are crafted.
  • The color gradient shows you how the players are distributed within the range. In this example, you can see that the Footpads of Madness, while they cover a large range, really only have a few small clumps of players wearing them. On the other hand, FSW Boots are worn pretty much consistently across the range.

I have, for now, intentionally left out how many people are wearing the gear. I thought about scaling the bars vertically based on popularity, but I'm not sure what that would communicate. (And, really, I don't think I want to tackle the logic to wrangle a much more complicated layout.) In most cases you can infer how many people are wearing the gear by looking at the distribution gradient.

I'm hoping that this will help the "what gear should I go for next" and "should I swap out X for Y when they are basically the same" type questions over on shadowpriest.com. I'm sure it won't completely eliminate them, but it's bound to help someone other than just me.

I need more data. Many of these items are only equipped by a single person on our server, which doesn't make for a good statistical population. If anyone would like to drop a comment and suggest a particular server that I should include (this data is from Bleeding Hollow), I can do so.

Also, what do you think? Too much clown vomit? Not enough cowbell?

On Priest CC

I'm sure I am not the only person who has a lot of “if I could get others to understand just one thing about my class” moments. In fact, WowWiki has a whole series on it. This week's lesson that I want to shout from the hills is simple:
Mind Control and Shackle Undead work just like every other form of CC.

I know, it sounds like a duh kind of thing, so let me explain.

First, yes, I can pull with either. Just like a Polymorph or Hibernate pull, there are times when you want to take a mob out of the fight from the very first moment, not giving them a chance to do absolutely anything. And, just like both, some mobs are Immune. With Mind Control, I can probably even do a little extra with the abilities that I gain from the mob. It may be nuking or melee or healing, or in very rare cases buffing.

But that's not the problem. Everyone gets that part. The second part is what non-Priests seem to have the hardest time with.

If the Priest is not pulling, then Priest CC is more like Hunter CC than Mage CC.

Wait, what?

Yet again, the Priest shows a bit of flexibility and versatility. Think for a moment about the difference between how a Mage does CC and how a Hunter does CC. For a Mage, gaining the mob's attention before CC is almost always a Very Bad Thing. For a Hunter, almost all of their CC relies on getting the mob's attention. If the Hunter cannot get the mob's attention, then traps become much harder to work, and we're back into Very Bad Thing territory.

Having said that, let me repeat: If the Priest is not pulling, then Priest CC is more like Hunter CC than Mage CC.

Let me break this down by spell. Shackle Undead is the easiest to explain:

Shackle Undead is the Priest's version of a Freeze Trap.

Just like you expect a Hunter to get the mob to rush them, you need to get used to the idea that a good Priest will do the exact same thing. We'll probably tap them on the shoulder with Mind Flay (the blue frickin' laser beam). Yo. What up? Can I talk to you over here for a second?

Wait, wait, I know: “But you're squishy!”. Very, very true. Unlike a Hunter, we don't have a pet for backup. We're definitely putting ourselves at extreme risk. But, that's just how it is done. We've got our bubble and we're smart enough not to bother channelling all 3 seconds of our Mind Flay. The Shackle will come. Just be patient.

We tap the mob for the same reason the Hunter does: when we Shackle, we want the mob to be as far from the action as possible. We want the Mages and Paladins to be able to AoE without fear of breaking the Shackle. We want people to be able to tab-target without accidentally hitting our trapped mob. We also want to be able to keep our eye on it. Unlike a Freeze Trap, we can preemptively re-Shackle our target. In fact, most of us have a beautiful macro that lets us re-Shackle without ever taking out eyes off of our DPS target. (Ever tried to do Moroes without a Shackling Priest? It's a much longer and trickier fight, I assure you.)

So when the mob you've marked for Shackling runs right past you because it's got a blue laser beam hitting it, don't panic. We've got it under control. Pretend it's heading for a Freeze Trap and that the blue laser beam is just a really, really pretty arrow.

Mind Control works almost the exact same: we need to tap the mob first.

In the case of Mind Control, we're tapping the mob for a different reason: range. See, Mind Control is tricksy. Every tick that goes by the mob has a chance to break the Mind Control early. That chance is increased by the range between the Mind Controlled mob and my Priest body. The first thing a good Priest will do after applying a successful Mind Control is run the mob back to stand next to his Priest body.

Yeah, I know. We're back to that whole squishy thing. But again, it's got to be done. It's better that we take that risk than the bigger risk of letting the mob out of Mind Control early.

Wait, there's something you might have missed. Think about the implications of the range problem with Mind Control.

If you want us to melee with a Mind Controlled mob, you need to kite your mob to our mob.

Yeah, sorry, you have to come to us. We can't come to you. If we're standing around at the back of the fight doing nothing, it's probably not because we're /afk. It's probably because our mob doesn't have any ranged abilities and you've got your target too far away for us to feel comfortable running to.

We know that we're supposed to help out by using the mob's abilities. Promise. You don't need to tell us. But help us help you. We'll come a little towards you, maybe 10 yards, but that's it.

Last thing. I'm almost done.

When you ask us to “chain MC”, expect to hear our teeth grinding and a bit of a sigh. Some Priests will do it, but some won't. You've essentially stepped up from asking us to put ourselves at extreme risk to asking us to tank in our squishy cloth. Yes, really. See, did I mention that Mind Control is tricksy?

Chaining Mind Control is more of a theoretical possibility than a proven reality.

Let's go slow-mo here for a moment and recap what needs to be done to chain Mind Control:
  1. Walk the mob as far from us as we can without accidentally breaking the Mind Control as per the rules above.
  2. Cancel existing Mind Control.
    We could wait for it to end on its own, but at the level you are probably asking us to chain, we'd rather be exactly sure when it will happen. If it breaks even a second too early, we could get turned into paste pretty quick.
    No amount of Fade will help us here. Mind Control creates more threat than Fade can deal with on its own, as we're probably the only one on the mob's threat list.
  3. Bubble.
    We have to do this, as we know that we'll never get the next Mind Control off with the mob pounding on us.
  4. Wait for the GCD.
  5. Cast Mind Control.
  6. Wait 3 seconds.

It's that last step that is, sometimes quite literally, the killer part. Mind Control has a 3 second cast time. Sure, in way, way endgame scenarios (Hyjal, Sunwell) we might be stacking enough Spell Haste to reduce that to as little as 2 seconds. But any time before then, probably not.

In most cases, the mob is free to beat on the Priest for a full 4½ seconds.

Yeah, maybe a little less if we've walked the mob far enough away, but not much. For caster mobs, that's 4½ seconds to nuke us, or sheep us, or whatever. For melee mobs, that's 4½ seconds to tear down our bubble and interrupt our casting. If the mob can Kick, Silence, or Counterspell us, it may well be Game Over.

But wait, it gets worse.

Mind Control is subject to diminishing returns with many mobs, just like most other CC. Since we have little way of knowing when the second Mind Control will break, we're really hesitant to do it. So please, please appreciate why we're reluctant to chain Mind Control. It can work out okay, but the vast majority of the time it does not.

And, of course, just like a Freeze Trap, Polymorph, or other CC, the mob is going to come straight for the CCer when either Shackle or Mind Control is done. Please get the mob off of us. kthxbye.

Remember:
  • Blue Beam → Pretty Arrow
  • Don't Panic. Wait for it.
  • Kite to the Mind Controlled mob.
  • Chain Mind Control is almost always a Very Bad Idea.

Raid and Heroic timers

One of those things that they never officially explain to you is how timers work for the 10-man-and-larger raids and Heroic dungeons. The problem is compounded by the fact that many people that have been doing those types of things for a while and seem to have forgotten that not everyone knows it.

Long story short: raids and Heroics are on lockout timers. Once you have downed a boss, any boss, you are "saved" to that instance of that dungeon.

Being saved, in this sense, means this: until the timer resets, you will enter the dungeon in the exact state in which you left it. (This is true as far as bosses are concerned. Different instances have different rates at which trash respawns.)

You can check your saved instances by opening up the Social window and going over to the Raid tab:



The 5-man Heroics are on a 24-hour cycle and reset at the same time each day. The 10- and 25-man raids are on a 7-day cycle and reset the same time each week, except Zul'Aman which is on a 3-day cycle.

Saved instance timers can be both good and bad. For Heroics, they mean that you can run a particular dungeon every night of the week if you want to. Or, if you need a quest item from a dungeon, which presumably doesn't involve downing a boss, then you can have someone from a cleared instance invite you into the raid to get just that item. On the other hand, if you happen to be in the dungeon as the timer is resetting, you get kicked out and the instance resets.

Implications

When you get to the 10- and 25-man content, however, the implications get a bit more insidious. Remember that the rule is that once you down a boss you are saved to the instance. It doesn't have to be the first boss, nor does it have to be the last, just any boss will do. You have to be careful when PUGging the larger raids then, as you need to communicate with the group as to which bosses have been downed, which they will be doing that night, and what the schedule is going forward.

Let's say, for example, that you get in a PUG for Kara that starts with the Curator. If you down the Curator, then you will be saved to that instance. You will have to wait until the following week if you want to go back and hit up Attumen or Moroes or any of the other bosses that had already been downed.

Worse yet, if the group breaks up right after downing the Curator, then you are pretty much up a creek for the rest of the bosses. If you are smart, you will take down the names of the others that were saved to the same instance and try to get as many of them back the following night to continue the raid. You'll probably have holes to fill, at which point you are going to have a harder time as there are now even fewer bosses that other non-saved players can down, and thus fewer loot drops.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What (not) to wear

The Quest Progression Chart was fun to do, and it taught me more about the game than I probably would have had the patience to scroll through in the tiny little quest window. When people say "I'm stuck on Zuluhed", I actually know wtf they are talking about.

I also learned a very key lesson: doing that kind of thing by hand completely sucks.

Since I've been working on doing data mining of our server's SPriest population, I thought I could put that to some use. To that end, here's a teaser of what I am working on now:



Of course, the final version will include all gear slots, not just feet.

This time it's completely automagically generated. But ... right now it's only seeing around 450 SPriests. I'd like to open it up to get a better sampling of the population, but that takes time.

We'll see how it turns out.

For every Good PUG, there is a bad one

Got into an Heroic Slave Pens PUG over the weekend. Still lovin' it.

We had a bit of a surprise, though. The MT and Healer group-quit and left after the first boss. No warning, just looted and ran. It wasn't even a ninja-loot: they only took Badges.



WTF? Really?

Kazard of Tempest and Dojin of The Fearless.

Now, a bad PUG is one thing, but this wasn't a bad PUG. We were making pretty good progress, despite the fact that the MT was Fury-specced and in full PvP gear. No one was arguing. As near as I can tell, there was no reason for the two guys to do it. And yet ... they just chose to be jerks.

But wait, it gets worse.

As I was pretty irked, I Armoried both of them and looked around to see if I could find an officer of each guild to let them know that their guildmates were trashing their rep. I spoke with Rabidewok of Tempest, and he was nice but it was pretty much obviously a dead end. I then spoke with someone with The Fearless and was told, flatly, to not even bother: no one cared. I hadn't even said what the problem was, just that I was looking for an officer to talk about a problem with one of their guildmates. I was nice. I was respectful. And in both cases I was blown off.

There's also a half of an epilogue.

Last night in /Trade I saw Dojin spamming for a Tailor. I cannot convey to you how strong the urge was to reply in the affirmative, as I'm sure he has no memory of who I am, then take his mats and tell him to please go fetch my missing Badges. Oh wait, they're Soulbound. Good luck with that.

But I didn't. I'm not that guy. There are times when I want to be, but I'm just not. (And I would have had a hard time defending my behavior to a GM.)

Either way, I don't think I'll be accepting anyone from The Fearless into any of my PUGs any time soon. It's a small revenge, but it's about all I can really do.

Magtheridon!

I managed to get into a Magtheridon PUG this weekend.



Seeing as how I wondered if I'd ever get into any 25-man content, I was pretty stoked. I did my best to read up and and not make a total n00b out of myself, and think I did a pretty good job. I helped take down the channelers in the correct order. I moved when the AoE hit. I kept up my DOTs. I even kept an eye on the cubes to do backup-clicking as people started to drop.

And I have to say a big Thank You to Ranii for the wicked heals. Every time I looked up, I was at full health and was Ranii's target. Thanks!

We wiped twice before the MT went all emo had computer problems and DCed, leaving his girlfriend on Vent to tell everyone that we were abandoning. Oh well. It was still cool to be there.



And, for the record, I was at roughly 850 +shadow, unbuffed, when I went. I felt just about appropriately geared for my first time. There were a few people that were geared significantly better, but there were also plenty of people that weren't. Unfortunately, I was the only SPriest, so I didn't have another to check out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

PvP epics versus PvE epics

I posted yet another rant on shadowpriest.com:
Cassock wrote:
Shadowpriests can craft all of their gear, so they don't have to PVP for it. Other classes can't, or can't as easily, so the enormous ilevels from the PVP gear is pretty enticing.

Okay, I hear that excuse quite a bit but I don't in any way buy it. Please don't take the following as a flame, as it isn't, inasmuch as it is a wall-of-text rebuttal.

First, and most obvious, is that plenty of people seem to have made it to 2.4.x and all of the progression bosses without needing to be in full PvP gear because it was their only option.

Second, let's break down the first part of that argument about SPriests being lucky about craftable gear. Sure, I'll grant you that FSW is epic in many ways and probably OP for when we get it. But let's look at the rest ...

Instead of using the Casual Gear thread, which hasn't been updated in a while, let's use this list.

Spellstrike: A boatload of Spellcloth, another boatload of Primal Mights, and a pair of Primal Nether. Primal Mights take 5 Primals each, and are thus the easiest to get ... for a definition of easy that means "farm, baby, farm". Primal Nether are quite a bit more expensive when you can find them on the AH, presuming you don't pony up the 10 Badges for them. 10 Badges? Yeah. Each.

Battlecast: No Spellcloth, but don't think you are saving yourself any farming -- you need roughly as many Primals. Still need those Primal Nethers, so there's still a 20-Badge hump in addition to farming for gold/Motes.

Sure, 20 Badges isn't too bad for a two-piece gear set. Okay, it's dirt cheap. But stop and think about when your SPriest is working on this -- probably while gearing up for Kara/Heroics/ZA. Thus, figure a +shadow range between 700 and 1100? Given that kind of range, how much gold can you make per hour? I figure 100g to 150g per hour if you really crank it, based on personal experience. Farming Motes will get you to Primals without the AH, but I'd argue that the "per hour wage" would be equivalent. That's roughly 5 Primals or one Primal Might per hour, right?

For each item in those two sets, we're looking at 10 Badges (two Daily Heroics) and 5 hours of farming. Per piece. You can't tell me that other classes can't spent the same amount of time and get an equivalent piece of gear. If they can't craft anything and must buy Badge gear then those 5 hours can go to Heroics. In even the worst PUGs, no Heroic will take more than 2 hours. Thus, 10-15 more Badges in those 5 hours, for a total of 20-25 Badges in the same time period. Hey, look, 25 Badges -- that's where the gear starts.

Belt of Blasting ups the ante to 2 Nether Vortex at 15 Badges each, for a total of 30 Badges and 15 Primal Fire. If we go with our rate of 5 Primals per hour, then that's 3 hours of farming, or converted into Badge-hours, between 5 and 10 Badges. The belt is then worth 35-40 Badges, even more than the other pieces.

From here on out, we're pretty much done with the crafting. If we go all-out and fill the rest of our slots with Badge gear, what are we looking at?

SPriests will spend between 341 and 569 Badges to get the best gear. A fully Badge-geared tank will spend 541 Badges. A Druid will spend between 410 and 745 Badges depending on spec.

Point being, we're not much better off as far as how many badges we're going to farm versus any other class. And, I'd argue, we make up for that time farming gold or mats for the FSW.

So what about PvP gear? Does that really take less time to get?

For a full set of S2 Warrior gear you're going to need 65250 Honor and 130 Marks of Honor. That's a per-piece average of 13050 Honor and 26 Marks.

BG farming will run you between 1000 and 2000 Honor/hour, so we'll be nice and say that you could meet the honor requirements for one (average) piece after 7 hours of BG farming. If you played only premades and always win you could probably farm 8-10 marks an hour or so? Thus, the limiting factor there is definitely the honor. Also remember that Honor-farming and Mark-farming are somewhat inversely related: sure, you can premade a zerg win, and you'll get Honor and Marks for the win, but you'll be missing out on the Honor for the kills. It averages out.

But, oh look. What did we say? A minimum of 7 hours of Honor-farming per piece. Scroll up. Look familiar?

Thus:

The argument that PvP epics are easier to get than PvE epics is completely false. It all takes roughly the same amount of time, whether Badge-farming, Honor-farming, or mat-farming.

QED.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fresh Frozen Shadoweave Gemming

I wanted to expand a bit on my last Frozen Shadoweave post, particularly on the gemming. I had said:
You've probably been reading quite a bit on shadowpriest.com about how your #1 stat is Spell Damage, right? And how if you are putting anything other than red gems in your gear then you are nerfing yourself? Ignore that advice for now. Come back to it later. The first thing you need to work on before you start worrying about Spell Damage is Spell Hit.

I stand by this 100%. Yes, long term you are going to put in a bunch of red gems and go for max damage. But you must hit-cap yourself first.

I'm not speaking from theorycraft — I'm coming at this from experience. There's nothing more frustrating then seeing a bunch RESIST messages flash by and watching your mana bar drain down. (No damage == useless VT.)

Think about the point at which you are putting together your FSW set. If you've been on the ball, you should already have your shoulders and boots by the time you hit 70. I did it, without a raiding guild to fund me, and it wasn't that much farming. (I am certainly not going to say it was fun — but the first few minutes of running around in my FSW completely made up for the hours of farming.)

But let's say you don't. Let's say that you ground your way to 70 without giving your FSW a thought. Where does that put you?

You've only run Hellfire, Coilfang, and Auchindoun, as Tempest Keep only just now became available to you. The gear in those first three sets of instances is okay, but it's nothing stellar. Certainly not when compared to FSW. As a fresh 70, you can't even look at Kara without keeling over and having to corpse run.

Odds are, you don't have any purples. Okay, maybe one or two, but almost certainly nothing with sockets. If you've been grinding your level instead of your FSW mats, you probably haven't been worried about your rep yet, either. That means no purples from rep rewards. (Who grinds rep before 70? Why?)

With that kind of history, there's only a slim chance that you are hit-capped. You might be, but it would be really odd. It's not like you're going to get hit-capping blues or greens while grinding the mats or gold.

Thus, your first gems in your FSW will probably be yellow, not red. Sure, the reds will come along soon enough. But for now, play by the rules and put the right gems in your FSW. When you do your first Kara run and only get a few resists instead of one after another, you'll know you did the right thing.

But, again, this comes with a disclaimer. Everyone is different. I'm speaking in wide generalities here. Maybe you have gotten some really lucky drops or have been consciously working on hit-capping yourself before getting your FSW. It's certainly possible. I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to the guy behind you that got to 70 and said "now what?".

Friday, July 4, 2008

My first respec

I may min-max a little when it comes to gear, but I don't when it comes to spec. I assume it comes from the comfort in the fact that I was able to heal my way through 70 even with full Shadow spec and gear. Your spec may be important, but your skill is more important.

So, as I leveled Shadow, I put points into what I thought would be useful, not necessarily what some cookie-cutter spec progression told me to. Yeah, I had points in [Improved Renew] and [Healing Focus]. I'm sorry, but no matter what anyone tells you, those two skills are far more useful to a leveling Priest than [Meditation] and [Inner Focus]. Don't get me wrong,Med and IF are great, but they just aren't that useful until raiding beyond 5-mans.

Here's a fact: I almost never ran out of mana mid-fight in dungeons before 10-mans. Even when healing. And I almost never had to use mana pots. Yeah, it happened occasionally, but it was always a good sign that our strategy wasn't working. Med and IF would only have prolonged the agony.

Sorry, I'm a little bitter.

In a Heroic PUG this weekend I had a pair of people gang up on me and get up in my business about why I didn't have Med and IF. I explained, very politely, that I was still in my leveling spec and hadn't yet respecced for raiding. Instead of moving on, the two went all holier-than-thou on me talking about how they have SPriest alts and I am nerfing my spec if I don't have IF/Med, etc, etc, etc. I, again politely, told them that it wasn't like I was going to keep this spec forever, but that it had served me well thus far and I'm not the type to respec before every group. That wasn't good enough, and the verbal abuse continued for about 10 minutes.

And yet ... there I was. I was pulling my weight and getting it done, even with my nerfed spec. Go figure.

I keep coming back to the fact that I've been able to surprise people with my skill level, despite being a n00b when it comes to the content. It happened in Kara. It happened in Heroic Sethekk. If I can do that, does my nerfed spec invalidate that? Of course not.

I have an entire post brewing about how too many people in this game are looking for the “one true spec/gear” and forget that there's a progression involved.

But, eventually, I did end up respeccing. The truth is that I don't heal nearly as much as I used to, and [Improved Vampiric Embrace] was getting me into more trouble than it was worth. So, I am now a 14/0/47 cookie-cutter SPriest. Huzzah.

Maybe it's just bitterness, but I am not all that impressed with IF. It's one free spell every 3 minutes, maybe with a bit more crit to count it as a spell and a half. That's not going to make or break a fight. Med is arguably more useful, kicking me from something like 5 MP5 while casting up to 56. That's two free MF per minute, or a free SWP.

But for that, I gave up a 70% chance to get off a heal while getting beaten on. Is it worth it? I'm not entirely sure.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quo Vadimus

Where are we going?

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm trying to see as much as I can before Wrath. To that end, what is the gear that I am working towards? Well, it starts with a few rules:
  • 25-man loot doesn't count
  • 10-man loot doesn't count (I'll do the 10-man content, but I can't rely on the drops)
  • I won't be picking up Engineering
  • Presume that I can farm an infinite number of Badges, mats, and gold

In other words: stick to stuff that I can pretty much guarantee. Given those rules, how far would I get?

For the following table: PD=Pseudodamage, Dmg=Actual bonus spell damage, Hit=Spell Hit, Sock=Socket, Ench=Enchant added damage.

EDIT: Table removed because I am an idiot. It will return.

Two! Ha, ha, ha!

I did not one but two (!) heroics last night: Mana Tombs (Daily) and Slave Pens.

The Heroic Mana Tombs run was a PUG (for me) with four guys from Grateful Undead. They have a small guild of IRL friends, just like ours, and struggle with finding comparably-able players to fill slots in their groups, just like we do. It was simultaneously comforting to see another guild working the same problem, and also a little bit of a bummer. Long story short, it was a very good fit. (And they spoke in complete sentences! omg!)

It took us a little while to get past Pandemonius. Okay, 3 wipes. After the second wipe we saw that the Druid tank was just taking far too much damage, and was getting 3-shotted. The Shaman we had healing just couldn't keep up with that kind of damage. Given that mana and DPS weren't the problem (the Mage was putting out enough DPS for both of us), we saw that I needed to put on some healing gear and off-heal.

We did wipe one more time. But I immediately saw that it was my fault -- I hadn't gotten into a healing mindset and hadn't been able to keep up, either. (You try switching from DPS to healing and doing it exactly right the first time.) It was frustrating, but we gave it one more try.

The fourth run went as smooth as chocolate silk pie. I kept a Renew, PWS, and a PoM on the tank at all times, then threw out GH and FH as necessary. I even got to practice a few GH dekes as I saw that the Shaman was able to keep up. When I had a few spare seconds, I DOTted and Fiended. Smooooth.

The rest of the run was a cakewalk, and we one-shotted everything else. It's nice to work with proper villains heroes.

But there was a downside.

I really, really had my A-game on for that run. We had a kick-ass team and the synergy raised the bar. I can honestly say that I think I performed better on that run than any other dungeon run I've done. I don't mean in terms of DPS or total damage or any other stats. I mean that I went above and beyond.

I was dispelling Immolates and Silencing left and right. (Recount said I had 52 Dispels by the end of the run.) If it looked like the Shaman needed an extra half-second to get off that Chain Heal, I blew a bubble on whoever needed it. If we started taking massive AoE damage, VE went up on my next cast. If the Shaman started taking aggro or got Silenced, I bubbled him and popped Shadowform to heal for a second, then popped right back in and kept going.

I didn't have to be told to do anything. I just did it, and it made a noticeable difference. I was frickin' heroic, dammit.

So what's the problem?

I thought I had been bringing my A-game before, but it turns out it was more like my B-game. Now I realize I've been slacking off. I need to be this on top of things all the time, not just when I get a good group.

Anyway ... it's something for me to think about.

The PUG for the Heroic Slave Pens run (which I am beginning to love) was both the same and the exact opposite.

It also started off with a few wipes, but they were dumb accidents. Several of the others were on Vent, but I wasn't given the info so I just did my thing to a mostly-silent chat channel. But ... that was okay. Vent is great for coordinating, but sometimes it is overkill. It was getting late, and I now feel like I have HSP down pat, so I appreciated being able to work in silence.

Hello. My toon's name is Apanthrope. Duh.

The bosses were all one-shots. I got a nice healing belt that no one else wanted, as well as my second [Primal Nether] for the evening. The entire run, including the dumb wipes at the beginning, took just over 45 minutes. Wicked.

But that was pretty much it. There were no tales of heroism for the second run. It was a nice, quiet way to end an evening, but with a few more Badges and mats in my bag.

Archbishop Benedictus down!

At some random early-morning time this weekend, Miller Time pulled together a raid to kill Archbishop Benedictus in Stormwind and the Gnome King in Ironforge. I was on and had nothing better to do so I joined up. Having for the first time seen the inside of Ironforge the day before to get the bonfire, I figured it would be nice to see more of it.


I doubt I was much help beyond being another target, but it was amusing. And I did get to see a bit of Stormwind, as well, which helped me orient myself for the bonfire run later that day.

(I didn't remember that I had [Mind Soothe] until I hit Stormwind, the last of the 4 bonfires I needed. D'oh!)

No screenies of the Gnome King because I R DUMB and forgot. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I do it on the daily

My Daily rotation doesn't require any rep grinding to start, nor any group quests. (Ogri'la and Netherwing Dailies require a bunch of group quests before you can get to the daily quests.) It does, however, presume that your server has unlocked all of the SSO quests.

Start in Shattrath. Pick up:
  1. [Maintaining the Sunwell Portal] from Nasuun at the Quel'danas portal (10g)
  2. [The Multiphase Survey] from Haronem on the upper tier by the BG ramp (9g)
  3. [Gaining the Advantage] from Mordin by the flight point (16g)
  4. [Sunfury Attack Plans] from Torvos right next to Mordin (10g)

Fly to Nagrand.
  1. Fly to Oshu-gun. Don your [Multiphase Spectrographic Goggles] and get your 6 multiphases.
  2. If you are a skinner, while at Oshu'gun, kill any [Aged Clefthoof] or [Clefthoof Bull] mobs you see. Fly back toward Garadar and kill more clefthoofs until you've got all of the [Nether Residue] you need. You should also get a few [Oshu'gun Crystal Powder Sample], [Clefthoof Meat], and [Thick Clefthoof Leather] which are good for Halaa and the AH.

Approximate time: 15-25 min.

Fly to Blade's Edge.
  1. Head north to Bash'ir Landing.
  2. Kill ethereals until you get your [Bash'ir Phasing Device].
  3. Phase, then kill [Phase Wyrms] and pick up [Smuggled Mana Cell]. You should get a few [Mote of Mana] and [Apexis Shard] Save the shards for the Ogri'la questlines later.
  4. If you need to farm [Mote of Fire] for crafting, head east and kill off a few [Searing Elemental].

Approximate time: 15-25 min.

Fly to Area 52.
  1. Run west to Coruu and kill BElfs until you get your [Sunfury Attack Plans].
  2. If you need to grind Consortium rep, head south and kill ethereals to get [Zaxxis Insignia]. It's not worth any gold, but it does convert to rep.

Approximate time: 5-10 min.

Hearthstone back to Shattrath and turn in those 4. The whole trip should get you 45g and several mats for crafting or the AH. If you're lucky, the whole trip will take 30 minutes. If the drops aren't so good, it might take an hour.

Port to Quel'Danas. I'm not going to bother detailing the SSO Daily quests here, as they are all on one place.

Approximate time: 60-90 min. Revenue: 105g.

Pick up two more quests before you leave Quel'Danas: [Ata'mal Armaments] (18g) and [Rediscovering Your Roots] (14g).

Hearthstone back to Shattrath.

Fly to Shadowmoon Valley.
  1. Fly out to Ata'mal Terrace.
  2. Kill Shadowmoon orcs until they drop enough [Ata'mal Armament].
  3. Fly to Skettis.
  4. Pick up [Fires Over Skettis] (12g) from Doryn.
  5. Bomb the eggs.
  6. Land and talk to the Skyguard Prisoner to pick up [Escape from Skettis] (9g).
  7. Help the Skyguard Prisoner escape, then fly back to Doryn.
  8. Fly to Razorthorn Rise.
  9. Kill [Razorthorn Flayers] until you get a [Razorthorn Flayer Gland].
  10. Use the gland on a [Razorthorn Ravager] and get it to dig up [Razorthorn Root].

Approximate time: 25-45 min. Revenue: 21g.

Fly to the Throne of Kil'jaeden in Hellfire Peninsula.
  1. Talk to Seyla to get [Blood For Blood] (12g) and [Blast the Gateway] (10g).
  2. Use your [Sizzling Embers] so that your [Fel Flare] is out as you kill 8 [Fel Spark].
  3. Kill [Wrath Herald] to get [Demonic Blood].
  4. Use the blood on the [Felblood Initiate] to de-elite them, then kill them.
  5. Use the flare to blow up the gateway then turn in the quests.

Approximate time: 15-25 min. Revenue: 22g.

Fly or Hearthstone back to Shattrath. Port to Quel'Danas and turn in the last 2 quests for 32g. Use the [Darnarian's Scroll of Teleportation] to get back to Shattrath.

Total quests:20 Dailies.
Total revenue:225g, several greens, some crafting mats.
Total time:2h 15m to 3h 45m.
Realistic time:3h.
Wage:70g-80g per hour.


While you can certainly farm for stuff that will AH for more than 80g per hour, call it 100g per hour including all of the extra motes and greens that you get, it won't be nearly as varied and far more boring. It also probably won't get you nearly as much rep as the Dailies will. You get a ton of SSO, some Skyguard, and even some Consortium if you kill a few extra things along the way.

During the Midsummer Fire Festival, the Daily [Striking Back] is good for 7g and can be done in under 5 minutes including travel time while you are in Hellfire. If you make it back to a main city at any point, you can also do [More Torch Tossing] for 12g and, if you have enough skill, [More Torch Catching] for another 12g. If you are geared and can get a good group, you probably want to do [Summon Ahune] on Heroic for the extra badge instead of one of the torch quests.

That should leave you with 2 free Dailies. One, of course, should be the Daily Heroic for the Badges. The other, also of course, should be the Daily Battleground for the Honor. If the Daily BG is AV, I suggest you take the time to do it before all of your other Dailies. You have a better chance of getting Biscuits in AV than any other BG, and an 80-stack will easily last you the rest of the day.

Yesterday was a "WoW day"

You know what I mean. Yesterday was one of those days that you want to remember and put on your "Top 10 Best WoW Moments" list.
  • Helped get our last guildie up to 70 and made her a 3-set of Tailored gear that should last her a while.
  • Got my [Belt of Blasting], which hit-capped me.
  • Helped another guildie get what may very well be the last cloak he ever obtains.

In short: I did stuff that made me realize that for all intents and purposes I have already beaten the game.

What do I mean? Two things, really.

Thing One:
  1. I finally have Dailies figured out, which means that I pretty much have an unlimited supply of gold.
  2. I finally have Heroics figured out, which means an unlimited supply of Badges.
  3. Combine unlimited Badges and unlimited gold and I can get the gear that I won't be able to surpass before Wrath, without ever stepping foot in a 25-man.
  4. At the rate that I can farm Badges and gold, I have a very real chance of being geared enough to see at least some of the 25-man content before Wrath.

So, yeah. While I may not be full-T6, I've already won — the rest is just a matter of time. If Blizzard shut down the game tomorrow, I would still feel completely fulfilled.

That's a pretty good feeling. But I have something better for you.

Thing Two:

Now that I've already beaten the game, I can make serious strides towards helping my friends beat the game, too.
Need gold? No problem.
Need mats? No problem.
Need contacts? No problem.
Need to know where to go next? No problem.
Need another body? No problem.

Yesterday I was able to help two of my other guildies log off feeling good about the game and looking forward to coming back tomorrow. There's a pretty good chance that I will continue to be able to do that. My own progression is fun, but it's a means to an end.

The ultimate goal is to drag my friends along to every last corner of the game. I want to /point and say "Look at that, isn't it cool? They made this for us".