New hunters: where to go for help/advice/info

On Monday, I got my first ever hit via Reddit.

Wait… what?

That’s what I said to myself when I saw that. As far as I know, I have never been linked on Reddit before. Since I was curious, I followed the link back, and it was to a thread by someone who is new to the game and chose to roll a hunter.

The link to Mushan, Etc. was put there by my friend Cheap Boss Attack, who referred to my blog as “a nice hunter blog.” To which I say, thanks! and /salute! @ Cheap Boss Attack. :)

But at the same time, I was troubled, for two reasons…

1) While this may be a decent blog – and perhaps even fun to read from time to time – I don’t know that I have much specifically helpful hunter content to offer a new hunter here; and

2) There is no longer quite as long of a list of places to send a new player/hunter for advice.

Nonetheless, in case other brand new players come to my blog looking for guides or whatever, there are a few places that I can, in turn, recommend.

Resources for new hunters/players (Not a complete list by any stretch!)

Scattered Shots – the hunter class column at WoW Insider

WoW Insider is a wonderful site. It’s extremely active, with many new posts a day concerning most aspects of the game. There are weekly class columns for most of the classes, including hunters. WoW Insider is also a great source for up-to-date news, lore, commentary on the design of the game, daily Breakfast Topics to promote reader discussion, raiding and PvP columns, a weekly podcast, and much more. It’s a site with something (or many things!) for virtually everyone, and has a very large base of active commenters. Additionally, there is information in the form of new-player “getting started” guides there for new players (of any stripe), which can be very helpful for someone just beginning to explore this huge game.

Scattered Shots – specifically – is the hunter class column. It has been written by different people over the years, and went through a long hiatus during the spring and summer between columnists. However, it is currently active and is being written by Adam Koebel, who seems to be doing a great job. The previous columnist, Brian Wood, wrote Scattered Shots for several years until this spring, and although the game tends to change from patch to patch and expansion to expansion, the pre-Adam posts are definitely worth the read if you’re looking to get a feel for the history and culture of the class and the hunter community.

WoWhead

If you’re looking for a site that is chock full of information on gear/items, quests, NPCs, professions, loot tables, and more information than I am willing to categorize in this post, WoWhead is your place. It’s a massive database/news site/blog that has a just a ton of info on just about anything you could need to find. Definitely a place to bookmark and visit often.

Icy-Veins

For good basic guides on how to raid with your class once you hit the max level – as well as dungeon/raid boss guides, news, forums, reputation guides, lengthy quest lines, etc., Icy-Veins is a great resource for any class.

The Brew Hall

Darkbrew (The Brew Hall) not only blogs about hunters, but he’s a co-founder of the Hunting Party Podcast, which is the podcast for World of Warcraft Hunters. He posts each episode on his site, and you can also find podcast information at OutDPS!, which Darkbrew recently took over when the podcast’s co-founder, Euripides (founder of OutDPS!), retired. The Hunting Party Podcast is both entertaining and informative, and listening to back episodes can provide a further look into the history of the hunter community, and of the game itself.

MMO Champion

For all the latest news, datamining, first looks at new gear/quests/mounts and pets/blue posts and changes, etc, MMO-Champion is a great site. Not only do they have frequent posts (and updates to those posts) with info on the game as it changes, but there are also forums with helpful guides to many aspects of the game. Additionally, in the past couple of years they’ve put together a great site in WoWdb, which is, among other things, a comprehensive item database with some excellent search-filtering features. Another great resource.

Petopia

Have a question about hunter pets? Wondering what special abilities certain pets have, which pets are best in certain situations, or which pets bring which buffs to your group? Want to know which food you can give your pet without him spitting it back at you? Petopia is your one-stop shop for pet info!

El’s Extreme Anglin’ – World of Warcraft FIshing Guide

Fishing can be both an enjoyable and profitable activity. If it interests you, or if you need to find certain fish, or have any other questions about anything fishing-related in WoW, El’s Anglin’ is the top resource. He cover’s fishing, cooking, achievements, and related topics on his site.

WoWpedia

WoWpedia is the wiki source I use whenever there’s something I want to know about the game that I feel they might cover better than most. There’s information on almost everything – I tend to use it most for lore and history, but over the years I’ve gone there for information on just about anything you can think of.

Ask Mr. Robot

Looking to optimize your gear and character for end-game raiding, dungeons, or PvP? Mr. Robot can help you gem, enchant, and reforge your gear, as well as find upgrades, and also has an in-game addon for all of that. There’s a lot to explore on Ask Mr. Robot – I use it all the time. Check it out!

As I noted above, this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of resources. There are also some important links to resources that I didn’t include on this list at the right side of my blog, so feel free to check them out. Additionally, check out resources you can find on other peoples’ blogrolls, and links to great sources of info in articles on the sites I mentioned. There’s a lot of info – and fun stuff to read – out there, and I don’t even know about all of it!

World of Warcraft is a big game – and by that, I’m not referring to how many copies it sells or subscribers it has. What I do mean is this: we’re four full expansions past the game’s release, and looking at possibly a fifth during the next year, which is also the 10th anniversary of the game’s release. That’s a lot of lore and history and community and commentary to discover: you could theoretically lose yourself for hours on some of the sites I mentioned above, and for days on others!

I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I’m not a guide-writer or a theory-crafter, and I’m not even a nine-year “been here since WoW-beta” veteran. But I’ve been around a while, and have found all of these tools useful. Hopefully, sharing them with you can open your eyes to new things as well.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


Vale of Eternal Blossoms: a memorial in pictures and words

From the Gate of the Setting Sun, you make out the Golden Pagoda and even a few things beyond - in spite of the mist!

From the Gate of the Setting Sun, you can make out the Golden Pagoda and even a few things beyond – in spite of the mists!

Introduction

The Vale of Eternal Blossoms represents different things to different people.

In fact, it represents different things to the same people, too.

At level 87, leveling players do a short questline at the Temple of the White Tiger which leads to their participation in the opening of the Vale by Xuen and the other celestials. Once this veritable paradise is opened, visitors, heroes, and refugees alike are treated to wonders both natural and constructed: majestic waterfalls and sparkling water, brilliant autumnal colors, colossal statues, magnificent buildings, and a beautiful soundtrack. The opening of the Vale represents opportunity, hope for a new and better existence, for all who enter (including players).

To many players, the Vale also represents the brutal Golden Lotus reputation grind. Players spent weeks, doing more than a dozen quests per day for a pittance of reputation per quest. (I know that it was mid-November before I myself reached Exalted.) The Golden Lotus became the poster boy for the complaints about dailies leading to burnout due to the gating of gear behind reputation requirements. I remember finishing my Golden Lotus grind, getting my necklace, and swearing off that faction for a while. And mine was one of the kinder reactions: many players finished and never looked back.

This is unfortunate, because Blizzard’s basic design for the Vale as a questing and dailies zone was extremely well-crafted. We got to know the Golden Lotus pretty well, and their story was vital to the telling of the story of Pandaria itself. It’s a place and faction rich in lore, and tied in with raids in both tiers so far (and will, of course, with the 5.4 raid as well). Blizzard crafted more than 80 quests that made it into the game in the form of dailies, which is really just phenomenal, and the Golden Lotus questline as a whole was very interesting if one both a) cares and b) can look beyond the brain-numbness that the daily grind brought to so many of us.

In truth, while the rep gear gating and the resultant grind were a bit of an overreach, it was an honest attempt on the part of Blizzard to ensure that players had plenty to do when the leveling process was over. And the result was a fantastic zone and faction that were, unfortunately, tarnished by the amount of repetitive slog that players felt forced to put into them for the sake of gear.

The Vale and the Golden Lotus at the end of 5.3

As our time with Mists of Pandaria pre-5.4 drew to a close, I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to take a bunch of screenshots for posterity and memory, since we know that Garrosh is going to do something today…

(We players are a prescient and privileged bunch, aren’t we!)

…and then on Sunday, Matthew Rossi of WoW Insider tweeted this:

…and I thought that was an excellent idea. So I, Mushan, went back out into the Vale and dutifully did every Golden Lotus daily available that day. It was fun and fairly easy, and as I quested, I visited with old friends in the GL, thought about how I felt about the places I visited, and recalled some of my memories of times of yore (such as when killing Thundermaws was a perilous undertaking early on…).

That was a great experience, and I’m completely glad that I did it. But in doing so, I almost forgot to take screenshots.

I would have regretted that error, so on Monday night, I decided to buckle down and take some screenshots, which was an adventure of its own. I took 58 pictures, and then I remembered that, while I have a decent computer, I typically run with custom settings for better performance during raids, since I’m not running a top-of-the-line rig. So I stuck all of those shots in a folder, moved my settings to high/ultra, and took another trip around the Vale to the tune of 64 more screenshots. They turned out beautifully, and I’d like to share a couple dozen of them with you.

Without further ado, here we go. (Click pictures to enlarge.)

The Summer Fields/Mogu’shan Palace

The lake in south-eastern Vale, with the Shrine of Seven Stars in the background

The lake in south-eastern Vale, with the Shrine of Seven Stars in the background

View of Mogu'shan Palace from the south

View of Mogu’shan Palace from the south

The lake just north of Shrine of Seven Stars, looking down toward Mogu'shan Palace

The lake just north of Shrine of Seven Stars, looking down toward Mogu’shan Palace

The short waterfall from said lake...

The short waterfall from said lake…

Mogu'shan Palace has an amazing front yard!

Mogu’shan Palace has an amazing front yard!

Here's a closer look...

Here’s a closer look…

Jaluu the Generous has an awesome place to sit

Jaluu the Generous has an awesome place to sit

The Horde had this view a lot

The Horde had this view a lot

The little lake on the north side of Mogu'shan Palace. Such a tranquil place...

The little lake on the north side of Mogu’shan Palace. Such a tranquil place…

The Golden Pogoda/The Emperor’s Approach

The Golden Pogoda

The Golden Pogoda, with Shrine of Two Moons in the background

I'm going to miss you, friends... in spite of having to work so hard for your favor. Others of you... I'll be bringing my friends to fight against you.

I’m going to miss you, friends… in spite of having to work so hard for your favor. Others of you… I’ll be bringing my friends to fight against you.

The view west from the Pogoda, to The Emperor's Approach / Whitepetal Lake

The view west from the Pogoda, to The Emperor’s Approach / Whitepetal Lake

The largest Mogu statues ever!

The largest Mogu statues ever!

We fought Mogu ancestral spirits here...

We fought Mogu ancestral spirits here…

... and here's the view from the opposite side.

… and here’s the view from the opposite side.

Mistfall Village/Whitepetal Lake

Looking at Mistfall Village from the north east side of town

Looking at Mistfall Village from the north east side of town…

...and again from the west side.

…and again from the west side.

Whitepetal Lake

Whitepetal Lake

The lake is quite deep!

The lake is quite deep!

Perfect, pristine, beautiful.

Perfect, pristine, beautiful.

Ruins of Gou-Lai/Setting Sun Garrison

Ruins of Gou-Lai (and quest-givers)

Ruins of Gou-Lai (and quest-givers)

The approach to Gou-Lai Halls

The approach to Gou-Lai Halls… with sun-shafts!

Gate of the Setting Sun

Gate of the Setting Sun

Setting Sun Garrison, viewed from high above the wall.

Setting Sun Garrison, viewed from high above the wall.

Thankfully, from what I understand, Setting Sun Garrison will be untouched by the coming destruction. Because, you know, they don’t drink water there, and stuff.

And finally, a bonus…

This waterfall at the northern edge of Valley of the Four Winds - where we do the 1000-Year Water quest - pours Well of Eternity-colored water into the valley. Will that stop flowing now? Hmm...

This waterfall at the northern edge of Valley of the Four Winds – where we go to do the quest “1000-Year Water” for Nana Mudclaw – pours Well of Eternity-colored water into the valley. Will that stop flowing now? Hmm…

Closing

When the coming destruction was first announced, I watched the video and looked at the pictures, but that was months ago. I know what some of it looks like, but I will be seeing it again with new eyes when I log in later today. I’m looking forward to it… but I’m not looking forward to the awfulness, if you know what I mean.

The changes to the the Vale are devastating and probably irrevocable. They are also not phased, so every player will see the same thing, even those opening the Vale for the first time post-5.4. The Vale may heal at some point, but it will never be quite the same. I wanted to document how the Vale used to be for posterity, so that I can tell the young night elves about it when I am an old one.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and my amateur photography. This is a sad day, but we press on. Garrosh will fall!

Saya from Heals n Heels posted a haiku yesterday that is fitting for how many of us feel about what has happened and what is to come. Check it out here.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Operation Shieldwall: on second thought… maybe I’ll pass

On Thursday night, I tried to do these new dailies for the second time. You know, the ones for the new 5.1 faction Operation Shieldwall (or Horde equivalent).

Thirty minutes later, I was here at WordPress, furiously banging out a post that basically laid out, in rant-form, how this new faction can go ook itself.

I did not post it, though. Sometimes I like to let things settle and allow some sense of reason to set in, so that I can decide if I really want to waste everyone’s time convincing my readers that I’m a completely bitter / cynical / negative / grumpy old man, or something.

Upon reflection, as it was written, I won’t be posting it.

However, I will make a couple of points about it.

- – -

After my post from last Tuesday, I can honestly say that when I logged in to the game that afternoon, I wasn’t exactly excited about turning in the breadcrumb quest that I received. After messing around fixing my addons, and various other activities, I eventually went down there. I was so underwhelmed by the opening crap with Varian* and Anduin (etc.) that I didn’t do anything after I opened up the dailies.

*This part, by the way, was just awful. I don’t know what… I just hated it. It was one of the lamest openings to a faction or questline in the game, in my opinion.

Well, I actually did pick up the dailies. Then I looked at them for a moment in my Log, and then I abandoned them… and I proceeded to go on what has turned out to be a week-long LFR-running binge, interrupted for any significant amount of /played time only in order to level my mage the last 34 bars to 90.

Fast forward to Thursday… I was feeling a little bit annoyed with myself about not doing these new dailies. So I flew down to Krasarang and gamely picked up that day’s duties.

The quests for Thursday required me to go to the mine and do a bunch of crap. I figured, what the heck; I’ll kill a bunch of things, no big, right? So I descended, and killed things, and killed more things, and killed them again, and again, and again. Reliquary dudes were respawning the instant I killed them, every time, without fail. I was never out of combat. And every Mogu spirit was tagged. There were as many player-nameplates down there as there were mobs. It was a complete cluster.

I was never in any danger of dying. I have good gear, and they don’t hit that hard, and so on. But it was a horrible place to try to get anything accomplished.

So I ran back to the top, feigned death (I didn’t bother with fighting my way out; I just jogged and brought the mobs with me), handed in my Reliquary and Pandaren Spirit quests (which I had completed the equivalent of “many-times-over”), and abandoned the others. And I flew back to the Shrine, and started writing my about my disgust.

It didn’t take me long to come to terms with the fact that, in spite of my claims in my post from Tuesday, I won’t be hammering these out every day. I will not be prioritizing this rep, these dailies, or this gear.

- – -

The rewards are higher-level gear than what I have, in every slot. But they’re not the best-itemized pieces. The non-trinket items all have mastery on them, and they’re not high stat-budget (legs/chest/helm/weapon) pieces. The trinket seems to be nice, so I’ll give Blizzard credit for that. However, I’m just not feeling strongly enough about these pieces to deal with the horde of people doing them all at the same time, in such a confined space, with antiquated tag mechanics** in place.

**It seems like every patch, there is something that everyone needs, but only the first to tag can get credit for the kill. And eventually, Blizzard does a “my bad, y’all” and makes those mobs “quest symbol” mobs that can be shared. I don’t understand why they don’t make this the case at the beginning of the patch, when the tagging problem is the worst because the most people are working on the rep…

My main aim in this game is to raid – to raid well, and to raid with my friends. And my gear set, which is currently one of the most complete in the guild, is not one of the larger problems our raid team has right now. So I’m feeling like making the process of attaining these pieces a priority is not necessarily a high-leverage way to spend my time in-game.

And it’s not like I can just avoid the crowds by doing the dailies at 2am. While there are times that I do stay up that late, I’m never in the mood to do dailies when I do. And because of the way my work schedule is heading, I don’t imagine that I’ll be doing that very much since an early morning wake-up is less pleasant with less sleep.

I’m not going to be brash and proclaim that I will never ever do this rep grind. It may happen, eventually, and gradually. However, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m not going to give myself too much grief about not making this faction a priority. I’d rather just raid right now.

- – -

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Life in Post-Revered Pandaria: everything in moderation

We conquer together

In the couple of weeks since I became revered with every Valor Point-vending faction in Pandaria, I’ve noticed that my in-game hunting life has become more balanced.

As we’ve only just started raiding, I’ve had more than five weeks since level 90 to finish repping up the four pertinent factions, run Raid Finder several times, grab gear and VP from heroic dungeons, and get my Way of the Wok cooking squared away. And since hitting revered, I’ve taken time to work on other toons – including doing dailies on them.

In the beginning, it was all about the dailies, with some heroics thrown in. Then, on October 9th, it was dailies, Raid Finder, and some fill-in heroics. And more Raid Finder the next week. And so on.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself in the comfortable position of being able to pick and choose what I want to do.

Here is what my time spent on my hunter has looked like recently:

1) Mogu’shan Vaults RF, both halves, on Tuesday (and usually again later in the week with guild members). I no longer use bonus roll tokens in here. However, on Tuesday, it goes very fast generally, which means a quick 180 VP.

2) Heart of Fear RF. Ideally, I do this on Tuesday too, but maintenance and work may prevent that from happening from time to time. I got lucky and won the cloak in there last week.

3) Ironpaw daily, every day. I’m too lazy to farm fish to turn in for Ironpaw tokens, so I do the quest each day on all three of my 90s. Since I haven’t been raiding all along, I have a nice stash of these tokens saved up for when things get real and I need to make a lot of the best food.

4) Heroic dungeons. I try to do one per day. Most of the time, unless we get Shado’pan Monastery or Seige, they go really fast for a quick 80 VP. SV hunter AoE gets pretty sick in some of these, and it’s even better when there’s someone else doing mega-AoE damage along with me.

5) Cloud Serpent dailies, if I feel like it – and only the ones that award VP. I’m in no hurry to get exalted with them. Not that I don’t want a mount, but I’m not going to grind it religiously.

6) Sha of Anger, if it works out. I’ve been lax about this, and at this point I’ve only killed him three times where I probably should have killed him twice as often. But I did win the Tier 14 gloves on a bonus roll on this boss last week.

7) August Celestials dailies, if I feel like it, because I actually enjoy them.

8) Shado’pan dailies, if I’m really, really bored.

9) Raiding. Started last week. See previous post. We’ll get there…

While there has been, and continues to be, a lot of uproar about the gating of Valor gear behind reputation, I find myself of an interesting mindset about it, for two reasons. First of all, now that I’m revered across the board, what’s really holding me back is the Valor cap(s, both weekly and overall) rather than the reputation. Secondly, I’m finding that my situation provides for a varied and relaxed playing experience as I work on, among other things, hitting the cap each week.

The way in which the Valor caps affect me most is in the decision-making. 3,000 VP is a tight cap. I’ve already bought one piece, which represented 1.75 weeks of VP work, that I’ve replaced (trinket), and I’d rather not do that again if I can help it. Today, as the reset has occurred, I’m sitting 760 points short of the cap, and I have to make a decision soon. Right now, my best choices, +DPS/VP, are the legs, helm, bracers and ring, in that order. What bothers me is that, in any of those cases, I’m afraid that I will immediately replace them with a drop that has, in most cases, heretofore eluded me. You know what I mean. For instance, if I buy the VP bracers, bracers from RF Stone Guard would make me cringe, while bracers from normal Stone Guard would make me highly annoyed if we are successful in there this weekend. Similarly, the legs from the RF Spirit Kings will almost certainly drop the next time I run it after I purchase them. You can see where I’m going with this.

And what happens with Tier gear? What happens if I buy something and then I get the tier drop in RF Heart of Fear? Or what if I get lucky on the Sha of Anger?

Ultimately, what will happen will happen. I’m just being anal about making the best decision, but it seems like it, and all of the research I’ve been putting into the making of these decisions, will all come down to what amounts to a gamble – or, more (metaphorically) accurately, a roll of the dice.

This week, I’ll kill 12 bosses in RF at least once (hopefully – we’ll see how 2nd-half HoF goes), and most likely the Sha of Anger. I may do a  heroic dungeon or two, and a few dailies, but I may purposely stay a couple hundred points below the 3,000 point cap before we raid in case we do kill Stone Guard on normal, so that I don’t have to buy anything before hand OR waste any VP. Then again, this strategy may alter if I pick up a couple of useful pieces in LFR or from the Sha – in particular, if I get the legs from either the Spirit Kings RF or Un’sok RF (Tier!), I’ll probably go ahead and buy the helm before we raid. We’ll see how the next couple of days shake out.

At any rate, I’m sitting in a good place, where my next purchase will put me a hair away from 480, and any additional usable drops this week will be a bonus. And if I want to do some dailies instead of dungeons, I can. And if I want to do some dungeons instead of dailies, that option is there. As I said, it’s a relaxing way to go about it. Much more fun than back in 4.1 when I was banging my head against the Zandalari heroics for both drops and VP (before I was in a raiding guild).

The daily grind isn’t necessarily always fun for competitive raiders, particularly at the beginning. However, I’m finding that I’m not burned out on heroics like I was at similar points in past expansions, and that is a good thing, in my book.

- – -

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


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