500 Valor

Upon logging in on Friday, I was surprised to see a new buff amongst the normal ones on one of my characters: Heart of the Valorous.

This, after I logged in on Tuesday on my Resto druid and promptly spent 30,000 Timeless Coins to get my other toons (who are somewhat more “Offense-ive” or “DPS-ish” characters than my healer) the Valor of the Ancients buff.

It’s all good. It’s all good. Friday was a good fine whatever time to plop that buff down…

Seriously, though, it’s a crazy good buff. It’s even better when you add it to the Valor of the Ancients buff. The first toon that I finished the Empowering The Hourglass weekly with, Mushan, on Saturday got 500 Valor Points from it!

Here’s how that works:

Heart of the Valorous = +100% X (Normal Valor Reward 200 VP): you get twice as much Valor;

Valor of the Ancients = +50% X (Normal Valor Reward 200VP): you get 50% more than base Valor.

The (probably unnecessary) ‘equation’ looks something like this (where x = 200 VP in this case):

2x + x/2 =

500 Valor Points for turning in a quest.

It was awesome!

Think about it: it’s kind of un-frickin’-believable. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve never seen this (a potentially 500 VP turn-in) before in WoW. I remember when the Barrens weekly was active; I posted something on Twitter about how I VP-capped my hunter, which allowed me to get 300 points per turn-in on my alts; someone replied that I was a genius… (You could also do something similar with the weekly Champions of the Thunder King on Isle of Thunder for 225 points with the buff.) But this is different. This stacks, so any Valor you earn once you have both buffs is 150% more than usual.

With this buff, along with the initial use of Deeds of Valor to cap my druid on Tuesday, I managed to cap five toons this week without too much effort. I killed one raid boss with my hunter on Friday, finished single LFR wings on my mage and DK, and otherwise earned the bulk of my VP by doing the Shaohao daily (leading up to Empowering The Hourglass, of course) on Timeless Isle. With the mage and hunter, this is a piece of cake, and with the warrior and DK tanks, it’s still not much trouble. It was nice, considering the current incentive provided by the extra eight ilvl upgrade points available on 5.4 gear.

* * *

I should qualify the apparent noobishness of this post by saying that I’m reading WoW news about once every week or two. I can’t hang daily on Blizzard’s every tweet/reveal… I just can’t: I don’t have it in me to do so when there are so many months left before Warlords becomes a reality, and there isn’t even a beta yet. So when the Heart of The Valorous buff arrived in my interface, I had little more than a vague recollection of reading about it somewhere, whereas it turns out that most people I follow were expecting it with 5.4.8, or any day now…

Oh well. I guess that’s part of what comes from being willfully ignorant in the face of nothing new being playable, for all intents and purposes. It was certainly a nice surprise.

A couple of days later, I learned that this buff was temporary; apparently it ends during maintenance on June 10th. So this week is the second and final week that I will cap five toons with very little effort. Once the buff drops off, I’ll resume cherry picking which toons I want to focus on, which will likely vary since I don’t have clear outcomes in mind for any but Mushan (cap upgrades, start killing some heroic bosses when/if possible). My alts are gravy, so at that point I will probably go back to spending more time with my new hunter on the different server.

In the meantime, this week is about capping those five toons. One will be via Coins. The others will be via those two Timeless Isle quests, for the most part. I’m glad I happened to be back during the time that this was happening, since it’s like I can ‘make hay while the sun shines’ with respect to the upgrades without burning myself out again.

Hopefully.

* * *

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!


Psynister’s heirloom guide (pre-Warlords)

For anyone who’s interested in leveling alts between now and when everything turns upside-down for Warlords of Draenor – and hasn’t seen Psynister’s heirloom guides yet – and is looking for information on “what to buy” when picking up heirlooms for power-leveling an alt, GO HERE:

FireShot Screen Capture #013 - 'Guide to Heirlooms_ Mists of Pandaria I Psynister's Notebook' - psynister_wordpress_com_2011_05_02_guide-to-heirlooms-4-1

[Psynister's Guide to Heirlooms]

Amazingly enough, I recently started a new dwarf Protection paladin (to the complete/genuine shock of the entire world, I know…), and I immediately went to Psynister’s site for heirloom info. Psynister, to my knowledge, doesn’t play WoW on a regular basis anymore, but he has made attempts – at least, up through the enchanting changes in 5.3 – to keep his heirloom guide up to date.

Psynister is a long-time leveling aficionado, whose articles I have devoured for a long time. He loves leveling, and it was through him that I learned (after a short hiatus from everything-WoW) about the Ironman Challenge (after it kind of had already happened…) in 2011. Every piece of heirloom gear in this post is linked to Wowhead, which makes it a very nice resource for checking out the pieces for yourself and finding the vendors and required currency for said items.

I generally don’t use heirlooms – particularly during what is, for me, the leveling sweet spot of questing (TBC/Wrath) – but I’ll often use them to get to that point. Whatever your PvE-leveling method, Psynister’s site is a great resource for gear info, so I thought I’d pass it along. Check it out!

* * *

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


RNG has a funny sense of humor

The day finally arrived. Friday was the day that my girlfriend finished making 21 Hardened Magnificent Hides, so we got together and exchanged mail belts in the evening.

First, she made the belt for me on her druid…

My Gorge Stalker Belt - yay!

My Gorge Stalker Belt – yay!

Then, she switched over to her shaman, and I made her the Int Mail belt…

Krasari Prowler Belt

Her Krasari Prowler Belt – yay!

And then, I finally ditched my Tier 15 2-piece gear by equipping some new shoulders and making myself the mail legs. I figured, what the heck – it’s just a game, and these hides couldn’t possibly mean more to me if used for anything other than new hunter pants, even if only for a short while.

This trade was necessary because, betwixt my two Leatherworkers, I still had not learned the belt pattern on either (in 50 days X 2 worth of cooldowns). It worked out, because she was able to help me and I was able to make her a belt to compensate her – she was able to get her belt as soon as she was able to make it, and I was able to get mine in the face of possibly never learning the darn pattern. As I said in a previous post, there’s something fun and immersive – and elusive – about mutually beneficial activity when it comes to professions, and I’m glad I waited for the experience, rather than just buying a belt at the Auction House.

Of course, the next morning, this happened:

"Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!"

“Congratulations, you have learned a now-virtually-useless pattern!”

*and palm met face*

Ah well, at least we each got our belts – no harm, no foul. Although, regarding the legs, I fully expect to win the tier legs or some Warforged ones during the next week, now that I’ve used four weeks worth of mats to make the crafted ones. That’s how RNG works, right? Manipulative, playing with our emotions, torturing our hopes and dreams, laughing in our faces… It would not surprise me in the least!

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!


That elusive crafted belt pattern

Most hunters with Tier 16 set-bonus considerations are probably only looking for one of the new 5.4 crafted pieces. While the legs would be a not-insignificant upgrade, I’m not terribly excited about the prospect of using my hard-earned mats (28 Hardened Magnificent Hides) for something that could be replaced by a tier piece. With that in mind, I’m basically aiming for the belt.

As luck would have it, I’m all set on Int-mail, Int-leather, and Agi-leather patterns as of this morning. Yay…

Of course, since I’m a hunter and this is not World of Wear Whatever (WoWW), I’m not interested in those patterns. I have two Leatherworkers: two chances a day to proc the pattern I need.

Granted, the chance that I get that one belt pattern is small – smaller than it is for any other current-patch daily crafting cooldown, in fact. The Hardened Magnificent Hide cooldown teaches 82 patterns, minus the one you possibly learn the first day. Blacksmithing (41 patterns) and Tailoring (40 patterns) take a great deal less time to complete, which is understandable since there are only three PvE spec-types for BS (tank, melee, heal; and only melee and heal plate for the PvP gear) and two for Tailoring (caster, heal), as opposed to LW (Agi-leather, Agi-mail, Int-leather, Int-mail). Without going into the probability math, it’s safe to say that Leatherworkers have, in general, the smallest chance of getting the pattern they’re looking for as soon as possible.

There’s a profession design post somewhere in that last paragraph, but I’m not going to write it – it’s been written by better writers than me, on both blogs and the forums. Some people, however, may not realize that there’s a lack of equality in the mechanics of epic-pattern-learning.

Anyway, that’s not why I’m here talking about this today. Well, it sort of is, because, between my two LWs, I’ve got 3 of 4 belt patterns on the hunter…

...And belts for all... almost.

…And belts for all… almost.

…and 3 of 4 leg patterns on the druid…

Hehe... britches...

Hehe… britches…

…but no Agility mail. Yet.

Since we’re well past the point where these items can be crafted – September 30th was the first day belts could be made, and October 7th the first day for legs – I’ve thought about other options.

35k? Drop in the bucket.

35k? Drop in the bucket.

For instance, the belt I’m looking to make – Gorge Stalker Belt – is on the Auction House. It’s 35-40k gold, depending on the day. At this point in the game, I would normally drop that kind of gold for new gear without the slightest regret. In fact, I’ve dropped way more for that in the past. I like getting gear upgrades, whatever the method. I dropped 22k on the Ranseur of Hatred 4.2 (and again for my druid), 40k on the Lava-Bolt Gun Sound Maker Crossbow in 4.2, and much more than that on several Darkmoon trinkets early in this expansion. But there’s something different about this…

There’s something about making your own gear. It’s not a very big part of the game right now. We only get a couple of pieces per tier, and other than PvP/starter/leveling gear, there isn’t a whole lot else that really makes a difference. Which is kind of boring, given the huge amount of recipes that one learns (see the “82 pattern” thing from above). And this is the second time this expansion we’ve grinded this number of patterns through daily CDs.

However, despite the problems that exist in profession design, I do enjoy crafting. I especially enjoy crafting for myself. There’s something particularly satisfying about crafting: getting the last piece(s) you need for an item, watching the materials disappear as they turn into the item, and then equipping and enhancing it as necessary.

Reading back through that last paragraph, it seems like a pretty boring thing. And perhaps it’s nigh impossible to explain why I get a small bit of enjoyment out of that particular activity, but when I make a piece of gear for myself, it gives me a feeling of fulfillment, and lends to feeling a little more immersed in the game. That feeling may not last long, but it’s certainly not something I don’t care about.

As it stands, with no pattern to make anything useful with yet, there are only three options: 1) wait patiently for the pattern to happen; 2) toss aside my desire to make it myself and buy the item on the AH; 3) find a way to trade with someone.

I’ve already managed Option 3 one time this patch, and it was on a plate piece. Due to a combination of luck and, oh, the fact that there is a smaller pool of Blacksmithing patterns to learn than Leatherworking, I learned all six 553 patterns on my warrior fairly quickly. I had made a deal with Somb, my teammate, that if I learned the melee DPS belt before he did, I’d make it for him if he made me a tanking belt once he had learned that one. We had ourselves a deal, and so, on the Saturday night before last, I made him the DPS belt. Then, this past Thursday morning, I opened my mail to find this:

Tank belt!

Tank belt!

Now the fact is, even if it had taken him a month or two to get the mats, I wouldn’t have minded since my plate tanks are somewhat dormant alts right now. I wanted to make him the belt, because we’re good friends and because it helps our team. The fact that he was able to get a belt back to me so soon was a bonus.

Trading is certainly an attractive option for me. Why? Because, as much as there is satisfaction in making something for yourself, there is even greater pleasure in mutually benefiting from crafting items for one another. It’s a bond-strengthening experience, and it involves interacting and working together, which is a big draw of the game for me.

However, unlike the Blacksmithing situation, I don’t know any Leatherworkers who have the pattern and would be willing or able to trade me a Gorge Stalker Belt for a similar item. We have a resto druid who is a LW, but he only has two patterns, neither of which either of us can use. And the worst part? I found out this morning that my girlfriend’s druid LW has the Gorge Stalker Belt pattern(!!), but when I asked her how many pieces of leather she has, she said “Oh… four.”

/sigh…

I was all ready to suggest a trade – “I’ll make you the shammy belt/druid belt if you make me the hunter one…” – but no. At the rate she is remembering to do the daily CD (lol!), I’ll know the belt pattern before she has enough leathers to make me one.

But if she did have the mats, I would have been happy making the trade, and she would have been happy with a new piece of gear as well. There’s a positive (and partly intangible) element to trading crafted items that I feel Blizzard doesn’t allow us to fully explore with crafting (on a certain, “epic” level…).

I could certainly just buy the piece and be done with it, if I were impatient enough. But it’s not a BoE drop, and it’s not a weapon, or a big enough upgrade that it’s almost essential. And so I am determined to have the pleasure of either making one for myself or trading a crafted leather/mail piece for one with a friend. I’m determined to have that small slice of satisfaction from a portion of the game that could provide so much more of it.

Is this the best decision from a pure-performance standpoint? No, probably not – and I begrudge nobody’s decision to do so. But because I could soon make it myself, performance is not an important-enough reason to just spend the gold. If the wait proves to be worth it, on a good-for-the-soul level, then I’ll take the wait.

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


I came home from vacation for this…

I went to visit with family last week, so I didn’t play WoW until the weekend. It was a happy break away from the game, the news, and the community; time was, instead, spent enjoying great food, ridiculously good weather, several walks around my old hometown, meeting a future family member, helping my father out with some home maintenance, and having lots of good conversation.

As such, the blog has been quiet, as has my Twitter account. It was a nice little vacation.

As of the weekend, I was back at work, and back to my favorite thing, which is raiding with my friends. Of course, the fun was somewhat diminished by my best friend spending a combined two hours over the course of post-raid-time Sat. and Sun. bitching about a drop that was lost to another player on a roll…

We use the /roll system. That’s it. Whoever wins the roll and qualifies for the item wins the item. Exceptions to this are very rarely made. And since we’re supposed to be mature adults, sometimes we see a player pass on an item because they just won something else. For instance, we killed Sha of Pride last night, and both the 2H sword and the Protector chest token dropped; Somb won the sword, and then passed on the token “until next time, since I won the sword,” because that’s the kind of guy he is. I won the token; which is amazing, because, since we have two shaman, two warriors, a hunter, and a monk, I was rolling against four other people. Anyway, examples of deference such as this are common, but aren’t mandatory, and it’s been this way for years with this group.

When someone gets as pissed off about the perceived unfairness of the system as this person did, I get annoyed. Last night (and the night before), I was embarrassed. I tried to insert some soothing words into the conversation – followed by some less-than-soothing words – but it was like trying to stop a rapidly oncoming train by stepping on the track: useless.

So now this person is talking about leaving. It may be bluster, or it may be real – it’s hard for me to tell right now. But in my mind, under this system, if anyone has such a massive fit over loot and the “selfishness” of others, to the point where that player’s own selfishness is bringing down the enjoyment of just about everyone* else involved, that person can fuck off.

*The sad part of all of this is that the person who won the item was, and, I believe, still is, oblivious to any drama… never mind, check that; this person didn’t need to know. I’m glad they don’t know. They are better off not knowing, feeling angry or guilty or resentful, or anything like that. The whole point of me saying this was that this kind of drama sucks.

Those who know what I’m talking about may be surprised by my saying this, but I hate having my enjoyment of the game ruined by people being assholes, regardless of whether I’m friends with that person.

In my experience, you lose a roll now and then. Sometimes, it really stings. So, what do you do? You bring your m***** f****** A-game. You prove – constantly and emphatically – that, in spite of your perceived slight on the loot-side of the game lately, you’re still the best. I’ve done this many, many times.

I remember doing this in Firelands, when the other hunter “put dibs” on the ridiculously good cloak from Rhyolith. I made a deal with him when he did that: fine, you take the cloak the first time it drops, but I get the bow from Ragnaros the first time it drops. He accepted my offer (for some reason). Sure enough, the cloak soon dropped, and I really wanted it, but I passed, because we had a deal and because I was looking long-term. In the meantime, one week when he was out, another hunter filled in, and of course the boots dropped off Baleroc, and the substitute hunter won them… and I burned inside! But I let it go rather than making a scene – because gear isn’t worth being a dick to your friends and causing drama – and focused the fire from that low roll on proving that I was still the force to be reckoned with.

And eventually, I got my bow. And my cloak. And my boots.

If topping the meters is part of the game that you get enjoyment from, make your own enjoyment. Top the meters. Find a way. Find a tactic or a strength that you didn’t realize was there, and use it to make up that perceived shortcoming. Most of us raiding at my level aren’t playing perfectly anyway, so if the gear isn’t forthcoming, use it as an opportunity to up your game.

At least, that has been my mindset, and it has caused me to become a better player. And becoming a better player can make as much of a difference as – or more than – a piece of gear.

***

Due to various circumstances – mainly time and personnel circumstances – we are still 4/14 normal // 8/14 Flex for the tier. Which is fine, I guess. I’ve been fortunate with gear drops so far: 2-piece bonus, both Haromm’s and Assurance trinkets from Flex, and the normal-mode crossbow from Protectors. I’m still one of the top 25 geared hunters on the server, and I’m having good fun playing my hunter.

With the set bonus and trinkets, I’m basically sticking with Thrill of the Hunt for the time being. I still don’t like the spam-happy playstyle it tends to engender in players like me, but then again I do need me some Rapid Fire uptime, so I’m not complaining!

Now, if only I could learn that damn belt recipe from my LW cooldowns…

This week, I am determined that there will be more than one post. Hopefully, I can come through on that!

***

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


Firing Rapidly with Assurance of Consequence and the Tier 16 2-piece bonus

General Nazgrim

General Nazgrim

On Saturday night, we took a team of eleven players into Siege of Orgrimmar Flex, and managed to clear the first eight bosses (all that were available to-date) in about three hours. That represented four new Flex kills, a nice improvement over the previous week’s work.

Due to some luck with rolls and drops in the first couple of weeks of the patch, I had decided that my bonus rolls this week would be as follows: the crossbow from Protectors-normal, Haromm’s trinket off the Dark Shaman in Flex, and… a roll to be determined later, depending on how much progress we made in normal modes.

With that in mind, I contentedly declined bonus rolls last night – all the way up until the Dark Shaman encounter – but to my surprise, I won the Assurance of Consequence trinket from the Sha of Pride. A quick trip to Ask Mr. Robot confirmed that it was indeed a significant upgrade over the normal Bad Juju, so I popped it in, no reforging necessary.

After the Galakras fight, where I was on the tower team, I started leading the damage meter by a significant margin, to the point where I was asked by my girlfriend – who was playing Elemental last night – if I had gotten a new weapon…

See, normally, if she’s healing, I’m on top of the meters, but when she’s DPS, she can smoke me if she gets the right combination of procs revolving around her ridiculous Crit trinket. So she was a little confused.

I replied: “I’m using the same weapon as last week.” (wink, wink)

She: “Oh, I was just wondering, because you’re doing way more damage than before.”

What she had apparently forgotten – which I had told her upon winning the trinket – was that I had gotten the Sha trinket. As in, THE Sha trinket that I’ve talked about with her before. The trinket that, among other things, lowers the cooldown for Rapid Fire by more than a minute.

Yeah.

Additionally, I’m using the trinket in conjunction with the two-piece bonus, which lowers the cooldown of Rapid Fire by 8 seconds every time I fire an Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot as SV.

Without doing a lot of math, here’s how this changes things from where I was a few weeks ago:

  1. Rapid Fire’s base cooldown is 3 minutes. [3 minutes]
  2. Assurance of Consequence lowers that by more than a minute (actual change depends on which version you have). [-1 minute; new CD ~2 minutes]
  3. With the 2p bonus, shooting 7 or 8 AS/MS over the course of a minute basically reduces the cooldown by another minute. [-1 minute; new CD ~1 minute]
  4. New Rapid Fire cooldown: approx. 1 minute.

Theoretically, you could realistically have Rapid Fire up more than 20% of the time most of the time, if even more AS/MS are being fired per minute.

(With Rapid Fire “cooling down” less, I guess you could say it was “hotter, more often”… right? No? Yeah, that was really bad; sorry.)

Anyhow…

When we reached General Nazgrim – an add-heavy fight – I thought back to a conversation that I’d had with Kheldul of Hunter-DPS last Monday on Twitter. He was playing around with using Thrill of the Hunt, combined with the set bonus, and said that he’d gotten on some crazy streaks. So I ditched Dire Beast for the fight and decided to give TotH a try with the set bonus and the trinket. It seemed like a good time to try it with so much of the fight about focusing adds, which often means more Arcane Shots than usual.

The results were pretty awesome. With the Rapid Fire cooldown almost always less than a minute, and TotH proccing like it normally does, I was able to do fairly consistent damage to adds, burn the boss when he was in Berserker Stance, and so on. Focus generation was rarely a problem, although I didn’t manage it as well as I will with more practice. And we got Nazgrim down on the second attempt.

Incidentally, here’s how the damage looked. Keep in mind that there are significant portions of the fight (Defensive Stance, etc.) where we lay off the boss in order to keep his Rage levels down.

Damage for General Nazgrim

Damage for General Nazgrim

(I also died during the fight – killed by a bastard Kor’kron Assassin – and was rezzed about 20 seconds later. For reals.)

We had two tanks, six DPS and three heals – our normal raid team plus an extra Shadow priest – on the fight. As I said, I used TotH, as well as Blink Strikes and Glaive Toss, and I played as SV. It’s a great fight for hunters: there’s a lot of target-switching, and the class is just wonderful for that. That class strength, along with the trinket and the two-piece, make for a pretty powerful combination in this type of situation!

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


Raiding again! First kills in Siege of Orgrimmar

Siege of Orgrimmar

Siege of Orgrimmar

This past weekend, after more than a month where our raiding activity has been sporadic, we finally entered Siege of Orgrimmar for some normals-action… and it was sort of by accident.

Attendance boss tangent

We have a guy on our team who, as far as I know, is done raiding with us. He was out the Saturday night of the week we killed Lei Shen; we got something like nine bosses down the first night with a friend filling in, and the decision was made to bring that substitute with us the second night to try for the full clear (in fairness to the sub), and we got it… and since then this guy has been salty. Other than the next time after our guild took down Lei Shen, he has declined every invite. He plays all the time, and then the morning of the raid he declines the invite and is nowhere to be seen at raid time.

Whatever. Shit like that pisses me off, particularly when excuses are made to the raid leader, things are shrouded in secrecy, rumors are going around, and him not being available means I don’t get to raid. It all stinks of bull crap to me. So I’m calling it as I see it, based on what I know… I’m done with it. Moving on.

At any rate, this past Saturday, we were also missing our resto druid – a planned absence – and so after a long delay, we grabbed some friends and hit up Flex again. We managed the first wing with no problem, and then ran into the wall that is Galakras… and since we had started so late, we called it after a couple of pulls and planned to regroup on Sunday.

Sunday arrived, and we were at nine people. I was ready to call it after waiting almost 40 minutes for someone to log in when a healer popped online. A quick discussion later, we determined that having four healers and four DPS wasn’t the best situation for the Galakras fight. So we agreed to go give Immerseus a try.

And, with that, we had backed into the place I actually wanted to be… by accident…

Yes!!

I was happy.

Immerseus

Immerseus down

Immerseus, purified

The fight worked as intended. It was a typical Morchok/Jin’rokh-type of intro fight: fairly simple once you know what you’re doing as a group. My girlfriend, who was one of the healers on this fight, was scoffing at our ability to do it, even after I pointed out that the group had nice symmetry for floor coverage, and we had four very strong, Legendary-cloaked damage dealers, even if there were only four. Whatever – I was proven correct as we downed the boss on the second attempt. We had healers spread out to all four quarters of the floor, DPS similarly, and we had absolutely no problem beating the berserk timer.

With that, it was on to

The Fallen Protectors

Fallen Protectors, relieved of their corruption

Fallen Protectors, relieved of their corruption

Unlike Throne of Thunder, Siege doesn’t have a Horridon, a second boss that is a completely epic and impenetrable wall to keep us from progressing normally. Instead, we get the Fallen Protectors, which is a busy fight but really isn’t that difficult. We one-shotted it.

It wasn’t the prettiest kill: for instance, I almost bit it when I got Inferno Strike and took it into the group killing the add we were working on, only to have people move out of range. I didn’t die, but I lost about 85% of my health when it exploded. I think from now on, we will either execute that correctly, or I’ll try to Deterrence through it alone. Things like that made the fight a little bit of a wild ride, but having done it on Flex a couple of times and knowing what to look for certainly helped.

Anyway, with that, we made our way to Norushen. We made several attempts, but failed to get the boss down. We’ll make some adjustments next week, and should have our druid back, so I don’t foresee that boss being much of a problem next weekend.

What could have been a lost weekend ended up being a pretty successful one. We were all happy to have gotten a couple of normal kills in, and are looking forward to further success.

Personally, it was a good week. I picked up the Warforged Smoldering Eye from Ordos and the tier gloves from Xuen on Tuesday, Death Lotus Crossbow from the Protectors in Flex on Saturday, and the Puddle Punishers (boots) from normal Immerseus on Sunday. I couldn’t really have hoped for a better week, loot-wise.

Raiding again is exciting! Looking forward to more.

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


I miss new dungeons

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, part of my preparation for 5.4 included a running a few heroic dungeons, both for fun and for Valor/Justice. I took both hunter and mage into various random heroics, building up full bank accounts on each in anticipation of spending spending spending.

At this point, dungeons which are tuned for around 440-470 are a cakewalk for my toons, with my biggest problem usually being trying to hold threat when tanking because there is usually someone (like me) doing absolute truckloads of damage on my targets. But I haven’t tanked much lately, so that’s fine.

I find dungeons fun. Since the VP rewards are skewed awkwardly – /glares at heroic scenarios… 120 VP? for reals??? – they’re a fairly efficient way to get some quick VP, since players with even a modicum of ToT gear should be able to blow things to smithereens in them. Usually, the person in the group that is being ridiculous is me, which I’ve come to accept. Other times, it’s someone else, which makes things even easier, because since I’m quite capable of smoking the meters myself, that means we destroy the dungeon, take our points, and bid a silent farewell with little time lost.

However, we’ve reached a point where things can get pretty crazy. Case in point:

Flameweaver Koegler meter

Flameweaver Koegler meter

This is the meter from the Flameweaver Koegler fight during the Scarlet Halls run I did on Thursday night. I’m Modhriel, the mage, capable of doing yeti-sized diaper-loads of damage himself. This isn’t evident from this meter, since our “tank” was an ilvl 553-geared Frost DK…

…yeah. It gave new meaning to the word “ridiculous.” I started casting spells, and it was over. Books weren’t burned; flames weren’t breathed. The fight started, and it ended, and I still had FIFTY FOUR MINUTES on my Arcane Brilliance buff that I had thrown at the start of the instance.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way about the state of heroic dungeons in MoP. Whenever I take my hunter into a heroic, I know it’s going to be a disaster for the dungeon itself: we wipe the floor with the mobs, the dungeon is over, and I feel a little bad for it (for the dungeon). However, we had five decent players in this one, and yet it was something like it will likely be when the Denver Broncos meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL Week 6 this season…

It was a complete and utter joke in every way. And this isn’t surprising: I’ve been able to solo many of the heroic dungeon bosses for a while, so I’m not surprised that this DK wanted to wipe the floor with mobs and get it over with.

We need new / more / better dungeons.

Blizzard decided that they wanted to hold to a “get content out faster and more consistently” ethos this expansion, but they found that they had to sacrifice something in order to do so, and so, once the dungeons for the release were finished, any new dungeon ideas were put in a freezer-grade baggie and shoved unceremoniously into the back of the company freezer.

While I admire their commitment, and have enjoyed raiding this expansion’s content, I am of the opinion that dungeons have been needlessly shelved. I’m happy to read that Ghostcrawler thinks that dungeons are missed this expansion, because I am one of those who miss them. Looking back at Cataclysm, while I felt they overdid / over-tuned the initial dungeons for random groups, I particularly liked the 4.3 Dragon Soul dungeons in the Caverns of Time. I ran them regularly in 4.3, particularly on alts, and felt that they were well-tuned for people like me who were geared at an appropriate level, but also were not a complete and absolute faceroll for groups with a raid-geared DPS in them.

Many have voiced opinions about the free loot / early Christmas on the Timeless Isle since September 10th, but the reality is that the vast majority of gear there is ilevel 496, and comes with a random enchantment. If you’re lucky enough to get a piece enchanted with two whole secondary stats, that gear is still 57 ilvls lower than what is dropping in normal Siege of Orgrimmar, 44 ilvls lower than Flex, and 32 ilvls lower than LFR. To contrast: the End Time dungeons  dropped 378 gear to compare with 384 in LFR and 397 in normal, for a total spread of 19 ilvls.

(Certainly, there is better gear there as well from world bosses, the Burden of Eternity, and for 50,000 coins, but it’s in a distinct minority. You are only guaranteed one Burden of Eternity, and any others you get involve some grinding and quite a bit of luck. So for the most part, it’s a 496 town over there once your weekly Celestials/Ordos kills are complete.)

And so my newest alts, which in the past two expansions would be running new dungeons and able to step into raids with only a little catch-up to do, are sitting around the 500 mark. Impressive? I don’t really think so.

While the item level gap from drops has “necessarily” widened due to the spread of raiding content available as compared to two years ago, it’s still a gap.

Obviously, I am biased, because dungeons have been a core part of my WoW experience for years. It’s one of the reasons I still make a point to run them: I enjoy them! And I want Blizzard to see that people are still interested in them, despite the fact that they are truly a joke, and that all it takes is one decent raid-geared player to make any particular run so.

Much of the content development for those who would normally run dungeons for fun/VP/JP/gear has been redirected into LFR and scenarios. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows how much I like LFR… and I’m not a fan of scenarios, either. The one positive word I can think of to describe scenarios is “neat.” They’re neat – the term used dismissively, as in “Yeah, sure, it’s a neat concept, it tells a story, that’s nice…” – but I rarely enjoy them. The ones I’ve enjoyed the most, Crypt of the Forgotten Kings and Arena of Annihilation, are kind of like dungeons with three people (go figure). I’ve run most of them, a handful of times, and they largely make me feel meh. And so unless someone asks me to help them with one, I usually avoid scenarios, in spite of the VP and the potential for way-better-than-dungeon loot.

As much as the Holy Trinity of tank-heal-damage has been decried over the past several years, it has a certain charm for a person like me who enjoys content oriented toward that type of paradigm. And so it’s sad for me to see the heroic dungeon become an afterthought this expansion. Ongoing development of heroic dungeons throughout previous expansions made the heroic dungeon as an activity continue to be relevant for a larger subset of players for a longer period of time. Of course, that got chopped in order to speed up the releases of other content, and I understand that. That being said, I hope that the developers can find a way to incorporate dungeons into a better overall balance in the next expansion.

Besides, having a toon with 496 gear, a 476 weapon and a piece or two of 553 tier gear is just weird. :P

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


Getting the alts settled

As Tuesday – and Patch 5.4 – approached, and arrived, I felt that I was in a pretty good position.

My hunter is always my priority, and I was looking forward to new challenges with him, as well as the legendary cloak. Aside from that, which alt might get “priority” (using that term very loosely) was up in the air. The four alts I’d been prepping for play, post-patch, were the Resto druid, Prot warrior, Blood death knight, and Frost mage. All but the druid were Valor-capped (and she was within 250 points), gear was updated as much as I was willing to update it, and so on.

Additionally, I was well-stocked with crafting materials for both personal use and for sale, and I’d especially stocked up on flasks, potions, and food for the hunter. In fact, you could say I over-stocked him. But that’s just my nature.

Anyway, with the newness of the Timeless Isle wearing off after a few hours each day, I’ve tended to find my thoughts drifting back to those alts. And, if you had asked me a month ago what I was planning to do with each of them, the answer might have been something along the lines of:

  1. Druid: SoO LFR each week, perhaps Flex. Top “priority” alt.
  2. Warrior: No idea. Be ready to tank, but if not, whatever. I can play him, or not.
  3. Death knight: Run H dungeons with him. Have fun.
  4. Mage: Take him into SoO LFR from time to time, but no priority here.

I’m not going to be tanking LFR unless my raid team goes with me and I’m tanking with a friend as my fellow tank. I just don’t care to – it’s just not something that interests me much. So things will be fairly casual with the plate toons.

The mage? Well, he’s a damage dealer, and for me, ranged damage is easy and enjoyable. However, I already do ranged damage all the time, so while the mage plays differently than the hunter, the similarities are still there.

The druid, however, is a different story. Healing requires a fairly different mindset to play, which is something that I find value in. I love my hunter, but healing gives me a different perspective on fights, even if it’s just for LFR. And it’s a new set of challenges, and one that I’ve tackled less than any other role (ranged/melee/tank) in the entirety of my WoW experience.

However, when I dusted off the mage at the very end of 5.3 for some dungeon fun, I found that I was having a ton of fun with him, and so he’s back in the rotation now. He’s quite undergeared, and if it weren’t for the fact that yesterday I bought three 522 Shado-pan Assault pieces and two 496 Shieldwall pieces for him, and made Timeless shoulders and bracers for him, he’d be far from qualifying for SoO LFR when it opens. But now he’s at 498, and even though that means LFR will be a challenge for him, I’m not terrible at playing him, so maybe we can make some magic happen…

…yeah! I went here.

I also picked up a pair of 522 legs for the druid (she’s 509 now), 522 chest and cloak for the warrior (511), and made a couple of pieces for the DK (490), so things are starting to look like they’re settled as far as being able to spend points on gear pieces for a while.

At any rate – and this could change from week to week, for all I know – my new priority seems to be:

  1. Druid. I really want to become a better healer.
  2. Mage. Oh man, I think I’m going to have fun with this toon!
  3. Warrior.
  4. Death knight.

The only thing that sucks about the druid is that her OS is Guardian, and her gear for that spec isn’t that awesome, so questing and doing things on the Timeless Isle is slow. However, that might not really be a problem, because as long as she has the ability to get her three Warforged Seals for bonus rolls every week, she might not even need to go “Timeless” all that much. Although the skinning there can be amazing if you go at the right time, and she is a skinner…

(There’s a pun in that last sentence, somewhere…)

With so much on the horizon with my main, and the busy season at work kicking into gear very soon, I don’t know what kind of time I’ll have for alts. But they’re never far from my mind, even when I’m otherwise occupied, because they represent a break from my main endeavors, which is never a bad thing.

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


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