Alts: what do you do best, and where?

Second attempt on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

Second-attempt kill on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

During each week, I have certain priorities that I like to complete on my main:

  • Cap Valor Points
  • Kill a Celestial and Ordos
  • Be supplied and ready to raid
  • Raid

Additionally, there are professions to take care of on a daily basis:

  • 2 Blacksmithing cooldowns
  • 2 x 2 Leatherworking cooldowns
  • 1 cooldown each for Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting
  • 2 Tailoring cooldowns
  • 7 x farms
  • Check raid/food supplies and shuffle items accordingly

Beyond that, though, my time is basically mine to use as I wish. Since the second week of 5.4, I’ve mainly used it to play my Resto druid, although my Prot warrior has gotten some love lately, and I’ve played my mage on and off. One thing I’ve noticed is that, although I’m moderately proficient with each of these toons in certain areas, there are certain places where I do well, and others that I enjoy less.

Healing

This really started to come to mind when I began taking my druid into heroic dungeons for Valor Points recently. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had healed exactly zero dungeons. I had tanked a couple of dungeons early on in the expansion with that toon, but virtually all of my healing has come in LFR. Since the druid is an alt – and therefore Valor Points are not vital – I’ve simply gotten my healing fix in LFR and left it at that.

However, I have healed a few dungeons recently. And there have been mixed results.

Don’t get me wrong – I am overgeared for these dungeons. Grossly overgeared. I’m geared enough that I can heal in wing #1 of Flex (and have done so, a little) and not do too badly. This means that when I go into a dungeon, usually one of two things happens: A) if the tank is overgeared for the dungeon, I’m bored. B) if the tank is grossly undergeared for the dungeon, or does things he/she can’t handle relative to his/her gear, that tank can still die… much to my chagrine.

In my limited experience thus far, I’ve mostly run into tanks who are fine and can handle whatever they try. However, last night I ran into a Prot paladin who had 387k health (buffed), but played like he had twice as much.

Pro tip: if you’re at the level where most of the gear that drops for your spec in heroic dungeons is still an upgrade, and you’re the tank, chain-pulling and repeatedly going out of line-of-sight of the healer is not going to be a good recipe for continued survival.

Things came to a head in this instance – which was Heroic Scarlet Halls – when we got to Armsmaster Harlan. I was still halfway up the stairs across the hallway when this tank jumped down into the pit and lost almost all of his health. I barely made it into the room before the door shut, and kept him alive, but then he was smart enough to get caught up in Blades of Light (and died). He also did this on the second pull, although the DPS managed to still kill the boss. The DPS then kicked him, and we finished the dungeon with our DK, who switched to Blood and pulled things in a more manageable fashion.

Anyway, I was frustrated with the tank, but I was also frustrated with myself, because I couldn’t keep him alive. Then again, I suppose that even great healers might have a problem with a tank in bad gear playing badly.

LFR/raiding is a different story. I think I enjoy it more. Perhaps I would feel differently if I were running dungeons with friends, but that doesn’t happen anymore in my circle of friends/guildies – if any such grouping happens, it’s usually for LFR. And whether I’m running with friends or not, I generally enjoy LFR more on my healer. LFR still sucks – don’t get me wrong – but since it’s not imperative that I finish it, and I’m doing it because I want to rather than because I have to, I can just go in and do heal-y stuff and not worry about it too much.

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Tanking

Things are pretty much totally opposite for me when it comes to tanking.

I’ve always preferred tanking dungeons to tanking raids, especially LFR. I can generally tank just fine in any situation, but I prefer dungeons because I’m in control. It doesn’t matter if there’s someone there with a legendary cloak or if everyone else’s average ilvl is 450: the dungeon will be completed if the tank is moderately skilled, around or above ilvl 500, and doesn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

As a tank, the group goes through at my pace, and I’m comfortable enough with both the dungeon and my own familiarity with Protection warriors that I can gauge how much we can pull at one time, which way we’ll go, and how to handle emergency situations on the fly.

Of course, I’m to the point where I’m tired of all of these year-old dungeons, so I’m not the dungeon-running nut that I would like to be at this point in the xpac. However, if I’m in the mood, I can do a few, snag some VP, and have a decent time along the way.

This is my preferred tanking mode. I’m just not interested in tanking enough to do so in LFR. I expect many tank-players feel the same way. If necessary, I would tank in normals or flex, but that would involve coordination with familiar players, which has its own enjoyable qualities. And at this point, I’m not needed for tanking.

Ranged vs. Melee DPS

I play a hunter. I’m pretty good at it. I enjoy the ranged aspects of playing the class. I also enjoy not having to be up close to the boss’s hit box* in order to be doing damage.

*Obviously, you have to be close to the boss to tank. But if you’re tanking correctly, the boss wants to be close to your hit box, so it’s a win-win situation.

While mages have a different toolkit than hunters, I do enjoy playing my mage, in part because it’s also ranged, so I don’t have to deviate much from my positioning habits in general as I play. With both my hunter and mage, I am proficient at both raids and dungeons. So I don’t necessarily have a preference, although I will say that I’ve usually taken my druid into LFR rather than my mage, in part because of queue times. But if I’m going with a group of friends, I’ll bring the mage along, and he’ll do fine.

Melee, on the other hand, is a different story. At this point in the game, just about the only melee I enjoy playing is as a tank. Perhaps it’s because I’m out of practice, or because I’ve only tried it on a warrior this xpac (I suck at warrior DPS, period). But in general, I’m not a fan of the limitations of melee. Perhaps it’s something I should explore more, perhaps in PvP…

Anyway, if I’m going to DPS at this point, I’m either going to DPS at range, or I’m not going to DPS at all.

“Conclusion”

Things are pretty clear for me, with regard to the alts I play the most.

DPS: I like ranged, without question; doesn’t matter where.

Healing: I’d rather be raiding, but I can heal dungeons I suppose.

Tanking: Dungeons all the way – unless I’m tanking with a friend-tank. Which rarely happens.

Here’s my question for you. What do you do best, and where?

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


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!


Low-level dungeon soloing: an Unconventional Leveling project

For over a year now, I’ve had the desire to level a toon unconventionally.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some iteration of this, whether it be perma-death, Ironman, or something else along those lines. However, doing a perma-death toon has never seemed to keep my interest for long. I’m not sure why, but there was a lack of focus for some reason, and so my unconventional leveling itch has remained unscratched.

However, recently I got the itch again – call it pre-5.2 doldrums, or something – and one day at work, I was inspired to start another hunter. Yes, I know… but hey, another hunter: that’s good, right?

Bresmaster Hadlun: a transmogger's delight, am I right?

Brewmaster Hadlun: a transmogger’s delight, am I right?

From that moment of inspiration came the idea of low-level dungeon soloing.

I’ve got to be honest: the rules aren’t set in stone. However, I did come up with some standards that I’m following at the moment.

- No BoA/heirlooms used during solo dungeons. Any other gear is acceptable, including dungeon sets, BoEs, quest rewards, crafted gear, Auction House items, etc.

- No pre-buffing by other players.

- Professions are in full effect!

- As are consumables!

- Any other buffs are allowed, including scrolls/elixirs, potions, profession buffs, foods, enchants, bandages, buffs from pets, racials, etc.

- Addons are allowed. I’m mainly using NeedToKnow to keep Mend Pet rolling on my tank.

- As this isn’t perma-death, there is no death penalty other than that which is already in the game.

- – -

Leveling is insanely easy at lower levels of the game. I donned the heirloom shoulders, chest and cape early on this time, because I wanted to get to the level 15 dungeons ASAP, and the levels flew by. I was in Deadmines before I knew it, and I capped XP after that run, because I was already 17. I’ve run several dungeons since then; at 17, Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, Shadowfang Keep, and Wailing Caverns – which the Dungeon Finder seems to love to put me in – are available, and I’ve been able to put together a nice set of mostly blue pieces. On Sunday, I uncapped XP until I hit 19, and that’s where I plan to stay for a short time. I’ve also done a little questing to supplement a piece here and there, and will likely continue to do so as I progress.

Hadlun (armory link) – click to enlarge:

Hadlun - Armory

Hadlun – Armory

This past Sunday, with a few lesser pieces equipped than what you see above – some of them unenchanted – I decided to tackle Deadmines by myself. I’m specced into Beast Mastery since I want the pet to have a DPS/threat ability.

It was scary, at first!

At level 19, hunters don’t have many key abilities and features that make extreme soloing so great for them. Here are some pertinent ones that are unavailable:

  • Pet: Thunderstomp
  • Glyphs, including Glyph(s) of Marked for Death, Mending, Mend Pet, Animal Bond, Revive Pet, etc.
  • Any talents other than Tier 1
  • Any real AoE
  • Misdirection
  • Deterrence
  • Feign Death
  • Any traps, other than Narrow Escape
  • Any DPS cooldowns
  • Any stuns or silences, other than Scatter Shot
  • Kill Shot, Tranq Shot, Distracting Shot, Master’s Call, Camo, Stampede

So, without all of that (and more), why even do this? Well, because it’s fun, and it’s a challenge.

As I said, I stepped into Deadmines on Sunday, at level 19, to see what I could do. I took my pet bear – the same one I had when I made the toon – as my tank.

The worst thing is definitely the trash. I made the decision early on, knowing that I didn’t have all of the power from gear that I wanted, that I would go until things just got too rough. And I did die a few times along the way, but I managed to make it to the pirate ship.

Glubtok, Helix, and Foe Reaper, the first few bosses, were actually pretty easy. Stay out of bad stuff, keep heals on the pet, shoot/KC until dead. The trash before Foe Reaper was pretty tough, as was the trash after. The trash before Admiral Ripsnarl wasn’t bad at all, because you can use the cannons to kill most of the pirates. However, Ripsnarl was where it all came apart.

I made three attempts. At my level and with my gear, I didn’t quite have the firepower… or the Stamina. Ripsnarl hits hard, meaning that it’s imperative that Mend Pet stays up. Additionally, the Vapors can become overwhelming. So I didn’t complete the dungeon, but I got quite a bit further than I thought I could.

- – -

The plan is coming together. I plan to gear up my character at certain levels and see what I can solo. It makes a nice change from what I’ve been soloing recently on Mushan, which, since I’m not that good of a player, has been Naxx-25, Onyxia-25, Sarth-10 3d, and the like.

I also have a small list of dungeons that I haven’t ever completed, like Dire Maul. I’m hoping that this will give me some incentive to finally run places like that.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this project. It’s a pure-fun challenge to take on, and I’ve always enjoyed the gear game, so the ‘no heirlooms’ rule gives me the opportunity to do that.

It’s difficult to look at the things that become available soon and not salivate. Intimidation and Go for the Throat at 20, along with Thunderstomp! The gear I can get out of Stockades and Blackfathom Deeps! Plus, I’ve rolled Engineering, so I can level that higher at 20 for better bombs and so on… but no, I’ll wait. This is why I’m doing this, after all. Starting a new toon certainly lends to an appreciation of certain abilities a bit more, particularly in a situation like this. But I’ll take my time doing it, since time is not of the essence.

I’ll check back in periodically to let you know how it’s going!

- – -

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


Stuff in my bank: Lamenting the loss of screenshots (Oh, and the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade)

One of the many things that I’ve lost with the death of my iMac is a lot of screenshots.  While I’m not necessarily a screenie-holic, I did have several that are not really replicable.  Some of these I was saving for future posts, and had prepped them in iPhoto, but never uploaded them into WordPress.

One of my favorites happened when I ran Scarlet Monastery recently on my hunter to, among other things, get the achievement.  As everyone probably knows, one of the most coveted, and rare, drops in there is the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade.  Many have farmed the crap out of that place to no avail, including me (on my druid) – and I think I’ve seen it drop only once, when I was on a low-level alt, and I lost the roll, and never saw it again.  Wowhead claims it has a 2% drop rate, which is pretty low, but I pretty much never see it.

That is, until this recent trip.

When you kill Herod at the end of the Armory wing, a flood of weenies comes down to exact revenge, or whatever.  So I killed Herod with a headshot, and these guys came down, and I promptly destroyed them.  While I was looting them, I was overjoyed to find that one of them had a Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade on him.  Woo hoo! – screenshot.  Yes!

So I finished looting – oh!  Wait a minute!  Look at this!  Another Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade!

Yeah.  Usually, it just doesn’t drop.  Hardly ever.  I’ve tried to get it many times before, since I’m a tabard hoarder on my druid.  And it just doesn’t seem to drop.

Until this time, when it dropped twice at the same time.

I got an error message telling me that I couldn’t loot another of those items, so I took a screenshot of that too.  But those screenshots are both gone now.

At some point, I plan to crack the old machine open and attempt to extract certain kinds of files from the hard drive, including screenshots.  However, that likely won’t be for a while.  In the meantime, I’m S.O.L. with screenies until I get a new computer and start taking more of them.

On the plus side, I now have the Scarlet Crusade Tabard, although I will probably never use it on Mushan.  Now, if my warrior had it, that would be a different story, since I have a sweet new plate transmog that I plan to use in Mists of Pandaria, and that tabard would go well enough with it (it has some red in it, which is good enough for me!).  Ah well.  Maybe someday…

- – -

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


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