My alt and profession mindset for Warlords

Many alts

On Wednesday, I wrote a ton of words about nerfing myself for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Today, I’d like to elaborate more on some of the more structural changes I’d like to make, with respect to some other aspects of how I play the game.

I’ve reached a point in my life where the rat race like the one I embarked upon in Mists of Pandaria isn’t appealing, practical, or enjoyable. At the time, I did it, but I was looking forward to better times – and they have certainly come, to some extent. But the way I played in Cataclysm and MoP – many level-capped alts, all ten professions capped (sometimes more than once), seven full farms, plenty of Auction House action, and so on – is something that I just don’t have the energy or interest in anymore. So, while I still farm those farms, post those auctions, use those profs, etc., I am winding down as the expansion does, with an eye toward a more streamlined experience in WoD.

Originally, I had intended to write this post in point-by-point sections, but with the nature of alts and how I play/use them, everything is connected. So, one section it is.

. . .

Like many players who have several alts and most/all professions, I use my professions to support both my raiding toon(s) and each other. Miners provide ore for Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting. Skinners provide leather for Leatherworkers. Herbalism provides herbs for Alchemy and Inscription. Tailors, um, tail stuff, or something. And all of those profs benefit each of my toons, directly or indirectly. Additionally, they support my gold-making activities. And while I am no AH expert, and do not use addons for that activity, I’ve done well for myself casually auctioning my wares.

In fact, I’ve done so well this xpac that I could probably not sell anything on the Auction House for the entirety of WoD, spend gold like I usually do (which includes paying for all of my own repairs, by the way), and still have more than I need left.

In the absence of an active interest in the gold-making meta-game, there are diminishing returns the longer someone like me continues to fight the AH fight. Unlike some of my peers, I don’t do much wholesale raw material buying, flipping, min-maxing my profit margins, and so on. I’ve done a little bit of that in isolated circumstances, but for the most part I’ve sold what I had/farmed/made, and left it at that. Going further – toward anything remotely approaching the gold cap – just doesn’t interest me much. So with a tidy savings in the bank, I think it could be time for a rest.

With that in mind, I’m planning to chop the number of professions that I max out in WoD to less than half. I currently have 15 primary profs maxed over eight toons, so I’m thinking six-to-eight total would be good…

Before I go further, I’ll also say that that number will correspond approximately with the number of toons that I take to 100, or even into Draenor. Of my current seven 90s and one 85, only three or four of them will likely be heading to 100. Certain profs will hit the chopping block as a result of this.

My 85 druid scribe is the first to come to mind. I’ve never really enjoyed Inscription, other than the concept itself and the convenience of making my own glyphs. I don’t really need a second druid any more, since I made her for the express purpose of leveling as a healer back in the day, and now that I heal on Ana, the other druid has no purpose other than those conveniences and the fact that she has a guild bank. I haven’t decided if I will delete her – for now, she stays, but that could change on a whim. But I’m done putting any effort into Inscription – that much is certain.

Anyway, one of the themes of the next expansion for me will be, as I wrote in my notes for this post, “Less alts. Period.” I should have written “Less alts at max level with maxed profs. Period.” but… I knew what I meant when I wrote it. When something is as much of a time/energy drain as alts have been this xpac, you don’t forget.

Aside from Inscription, I don’t necessarily dislike the other professions, since I finally got an Engineer (DK) to max-level. That was a rough one to level, but now that it’s up there, I don’t hate it. But it won’t be a priority in WoD, in part because my DK will itself probably not be a priority.

. . .

My priorities, in fact, will look something like this:

Mushan – hunter, main raider; LW/BS.

Anacrusa – druid (healer), potential raider; LW/SK.

Droignon – warrior (tank), potential raider; BS/MI.

Those toons will be my three level 100 toons in all likelihood. And, because I probably won’t be able to resist, I’ll probably level my mage (TA/JC) at some point, because I like playing him. But he’s not a priority. His profs will also not be a priority.

Additional profs that have potential to be leveled at some point include Enchanting (2nd hunter), Alchemy (paladin), and Engineering (DK). However, unless I decide to level the DK instead of the warrior for tanking purposes, all three of those toons will be sitting in SW collecting dust for the foreseeable future, and their professions will be leveled incidentally (particularly Enchanting, because of, you know, Disenchanting…) if at all.

So, with those things in mind, if I level the three main toons, I’ll have five different professions maxed. Six if I’m able to level Enchanting while my worgen hunter sits on his butt in a tavern. Eight if I level the mage’s professions. Eight is enough… right? Right?

. . .

It’s my hope that by not letting gold/prof concerns drive my playing activities, I will cut down on wasted time and enjoy a higher percentage of my playing time. I pretty much hate playing the paladin, the 2nd hunter will be unnecessary, and the DK will be dormant until some unknown point until I get very bored. Cutting out a lot of that “toon-bloat” should make me something more of a lean, mean playing machine, or something.

And anything I need that I can’t make myself or have made by a friend, I’ll buy. I sold all that stuff for a reason. This will be the time to use the proceeds.

. . .

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


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!


Revised plans

Vale of Eternal Sorrows

Vale of Eternal Sorrows

We’re a week and change into Patch 5.4 as of this writing, and if there’s one thing that’s become quite apparent about the patch, it’s that there is no shortage of Stuff To Do.

While I went into 5.4 prepared on some fronts, I did willfully remain ignorant about certain features that were coming, including the Timeless Isle and its quests/coins/etc. and Proving Grounds (which I tried the other night when I was bored, and found to be a nice challenge). However, I did have plans that were falling into place over the course of the last three weeks, and some of those sort of went into the toilet about 90 minutes after I logged in on Tuesday night.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, with loot tables remaining uniform aside from item level (and heirloom weapons) in all formats of Siege of Orgrimmar, I felt that it was my duty to take my hunter into SoO LFR once a week, in order to try to acquire upgrade items such as Assurance of Consequence and any of the 528 weapons. While the quality of LFR started out poor and has gotten worse over the course of the expansion, I was hoping for some positive experiences, at least on Tuesdays early on in the patch.

However, I was disabused of that fantasy after a 48 minute wait to get into Vale of Eternal Sorrows on Tuesday. The group was on Norushen and had apparently lost almost all of its original members, according to what I could gather from chat. There were four stacks of Determination, which I didn’t notice until after we wiped once on said encounter (at which point, five stacks…). At that point, I decided to use a flask…

Take 2 for me – Take 6 for the group – was a success, and we managed to one-shot the Sha of Pride. But it was rough going: it was as if we were still in Throne of Thunder LFR two weeks ago, rather than something new. The truth is that Flexible Raiding seems to have further decimated the ranks of LFR raiders, making the transition from ToT LFR to SoO LFR a fairly seemless one, unfortunately.

“Maybe you just hit a bad group,” one could say. And that person could be right – and is probably correct, actually. But I’ve seen enough.

So my plans for raiding on my toons are being revised.

Mushan in LFR

On my main, Mushan, I’m going to relax and be satisfied that it’s not going to make much of a difference if I don’t get anything out of LFR this tier. Time to put that “I feel forced” feeling in the grave. I’m not going to have fun in LFR, so I’m not going to do it – Assurance of Consequence be damned.

Will that come back to bite me down the road? It’s hard to tell at this point, but given that I’ve completed the legendary and acquired my T16 two-piece bonus already, Assurance of Consequence (528) is a very minor upgrade over my normal mode trinket, and a downgrade from my Thunderforged one, so I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

Now, Haromm’s Talisman (528, Kor’kron Dark Shaman) is a definite upgrade, so I may feel a tinge of regret if I have problems scoring that one in Flex at some point…

…but then again, I might not, after all.

One of the things that I noticed when I started putting together gear lists for my hunter was that with three levels of raiding (raiding, FR, LFR), your overall Warforged Seal “spending power” is diluted if you run all three every week. So, for instance, if I’m targeting certain items like weapons, tier pieces, and trinkets, then choices have to be made as to which pieces I will take a bonus roll on. Since I plan on running Flex every week anyway, I’ll want to save my Seals for that – or for normal – rather than LFR, since I’ll definitely be looking for weapons/trinkets/tier there until I replace my ToT gear. So LFR would provide only one opportunity per boss, no matter what, since I’ve made that decision and have the FR/normal opportunities. And if LFR continues to largely be the way I experienced it on Tuesday night, it’s a drop opportunity that I’m generally willing to forego.

Alts in LFR

As I thought over all of this after my foray into LFR, it suddenly hit me that this will also affect my plans for alt play.

Originally, I was planning to regularly take my Resto druid and my mage into SoO. However, now I find myself not looking forward to taking either. This doesn’t mean I won’t; however, I no longer think I’m going to make doing so a priority. I’ve still been having fun playing both toons, the mage in particular. However, I may have to find some other avenue for them, although right now I don’t know that I have that many options that appeal. For the druid, at least, I can generally count on short queues, which, in my experience, reduce the overall stress level going into an LFR. However, I’m not going to commit to doing it regularly with either toon, like I had previously done. I just think that doing so has the potential to ruin my enjoyment of the game / those toons, and I don’t really want to do that.

So, we’ll see what happens, how much time I have, and how much desire I have to take them in at some point…

Flex

We did the first wing of Flex last weekend. It wasn’t bad – we took 13 people, and five!! of them were healers.  After wiping on a sloppy first pull of Immerseus, we ran the table up through Sha and called it a night. Many of us got some nice upgrades; I actually got three pieces, although only one of them – the tier chest – was usable.

Although we were healer-heavy, it was easy to see how Flex is different from both LFR and normal modes. I think Blizzard struck a nice balance between the three levels. To my eyes, though, Flex is going to be about the gear for people like me, and not for the challenge.

I’m not the raid leader, so I don’t know what the plan is, but I am hoping that we at least go in and try Immerseus this weekend on normal mode. I do think that there is a benefit to taking time to run Flex as a team for a few weeks, because we’re not a team that is going to out-play most raid bosses’ mechanics. The gear will help us progress, particularly for our newer and lesser-geared players who are coming from a little bit behind. That being said, however, I’m itching to raid. Last week we were missing a couple of key people, so we didn’t, but I’d prefer to be the team that killed Jin’rokh the first week of 5.3 and went 12/12N in ToT before 5.4 than to not kill bosses for a few weeks, particularly since Fallen Protectors is not supposed to be the wall that Horridon was at the beginning of the patch. We’re not world-beaters or progressive, but we are competent, and I’m itching to raid.

Then again, when am I not?  :)

Thanks for reading this post 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!


Alt appreciation: Dungeon Week

Droignon has Haze of Hate! Eh, I went with it. :D

Droignon has Haze of Hate! Eh, I went with it. :D

Preface: Laeleiweyn suggested recently that we altoholics could collectively celebrate alts, either on blogs, Twitter, or by starting/playing them in-game, over the course of eleven weeks starting on August 19th, and ending November 3rd. Each week will be themed by class – week one for DKs, week two for druids, week three for hunters, etc. 

It’s a fantastic idea, although I do not have an alt for every class. Furthermore, while I love the idea, I don’t have the interest in playing or doing things in-game with certain alts just because it’s a focus during a certain week. It’s just not how I operate.

Nonetheless, I’m an altoholic, and I have several alts that I play on something of a regular basis. I have 7 90s, for goodness’ sake. So while this week is #HunterWeek – and there are sure to be a ton of great hunter-related things going on in-game and around the interwebs (check out the hashtag all week for the latest news!) – I’m putting my own spin on it this week, because my hunter is my main, and the love of my WoW-life, and he gets appreciated here at Mushan, Etc. so much that he’s developed a bit of a complex at this point!

Therefore, without further ado…

…this week is Dungeon Week in my world.

With Patch 5.4 now just a week away, I’ve been prepping the troops. With goals in mind for some of them – some of which are long-held ideas, while others are newer (*cough* @ the mage) – I’ve been getting ready for 5.4 in several ways.

Goal #1 is to get the toons I’m interested in playing in 5.4 Valor-capped. While Mushan has been capped for weeks, I’ve been working the DK pretty hard, buying him the Shado-pan trinket last week and then capping, with 800 to go to hit 3000 this week. I have three other toons that are close to the cap, and I think I should have no trouble VP-capping them all before the 10th.

Goal #2 is to get as many Justice Points on these toons as possible pre-patch. This includes Mushan, for reasons I will describe below. Disregarding him for the moment, the reason for this is that pre 5.2 Valor gear will be purchasable with JP in 5.4. And while this means less than nothing to Mushan, my alts are each in a position to use some of this gear in some way or another; even my druid and warrior, who won’t sacrifice set bonuses for “Justice” gear, have off-specs that can use that level of gear to fill in OS slots.

With these things in mind, I offer a completely self-interested look at my main/fave toons and their states of preparation, and my plans for them for this week.

Mushan (SV hunter – duh? :P ); ilvl 535; 3000 VP; 543 JP; 3908 HP

Mushan has been a pretty bored archer lately. Not much raidin’ goin’ on, no new gear when he has raided, and so on. However, I recently took him to Stormwind in order to swap as much JP as possible for Honor, because one of the changes coming in 5.4 will be that it takes 500 JP to buy 250 Honor, which is a nerf to JP, I suppose. I haven’t PvP’d much at all since 5.2 dropped, but I don’t want to completely discount the idea that I may actually want to do so in 5.4. So I’ve put myself in the best position possible regarding Honor: I’m almost capped, should be able to pick up 2-3 496 pieces right off the bat after the patch, and then continue to fill out the PvP set from that point on.

Since he’s already Valor-capped, it’s highly likely that he will not work to snag any more JP through dungeons or any other means this week, but I’ve maxed out my conversions at this point anyway, so the rest can come once I actually need more JP for more post-nerf conversions…

Droignon (Prot warrior); ilvl 507 (prot) 477 (fury); 2765 VP; 1808 JP

Droignon hasn’t gotten much love lately. Since playing him is somewhat arthritis-inducing (/nods at Hass for the reference), and I’ve been working on the DK lately, Droig has mainly done his Halfhill stuff and not much else. However, he’s still someone I take seriously – he is a frickin’ huge night elf warrior, after all… I kid, I kid – and so I’ll be making sure he’s VP-capped. Seriously, it’s not going to take much effort. I’ll probably get there solely from Halfhill Ironpaw dailies and tripping over rares on the Isle of Thunder. And the fury spec is a joke, the way I play it, and not of much importance. So he may sit out of dungeons this week, but you never know – I may take him into a couple on the short path to the cap, in order to get a few more JP.

Anacrusa (Resto druid); ilvl 506 (resto) 480 (guardian); 2588 VP; 1186 JP

Like Droig, Ana has been keeping a low profile lately (/glares at Saldrahn…). And my biggest problem with her in 5.4 will not be gear, but rather learning to use Swiftmend as the insta-heal that it will solely be at that point. Nevertheless, I’ve been debating how I will go about actually reaching the cap with this one; this may be hard to believe, but she has healed exactly zero dungeons in MoP. I’ve healed scenarios and Champions of the Thunder King groups with her, but the vast majority of my healing experience has come in Raid Finder this expansion, which is why my JP-fund is so anemic. The Guardian spec, which is my questing spec, is in need of some hole-filling, so JP will still be important to some extent. So I may try to take her into a few dungeons this week, in order to grab some extra JP for that gear set. Because seriously, folks, questing as a guardian sucks extra-hard, and the better the DPS I can pull / the more mobs I can handle at once, the better.

Modhriel (Frost mage); ilvl 486; 2192 VP; 2077 JP

This is where the dungeon-running is going to get extra-serious. This is where Mushan’s Dungeon Week comes into its own.

Modhriel has, with very few exceptions, been sitting at the furthest, loneliest end of the bench since 5.2 happened. For proof, checking his armory shows that he has killed each of the first six bosses in ToT-LFR exactly one time. And that’s it. While I did open up Isle of Thunder with him, I set him down before I had enough VP and rep to buy anything. He has exactly zero pieces of 522 gear on. Poor guy…

With all of the time I spent on my hunters, warrior, druid, and DK during this tier, Modhriel took the back seat, limiting the sum total of his activity beyond April to Halfhill and cloth cooldowns. However, I jumped on him this weekend and ran a few dungeons, and MAN was it fun! He hasn’t gotten any gear in months, but he still absolutely ripped face. And I remember him doing well the couple of times I took him into ToT as well. I realized that I missed him this past weekend, so I think that, with my raiding picture a bit clearer now (since Ghilleadh the Worgen Hunter is done raiding), Modhriel is going to be back in play in 5.4. I’d like to cap his Valor and Justice this week, so that he can be on the road to being eligible for LFR as soon as it launches.

Good times…

Saldrahn (Blood death knight): ilvl 480; 2200 VP; 390 JP

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a lot of fun with this toon. I’m a death knight fan now. However, this toon is a fun, casual toon, and I’m looking forward to playing him in dungeons in 5.4.

My personality, though, is one which compels me to gear him as fast as possible, even though there is no pressing purpose for doing so. I’m fighting this compulsion with everything I have. The last thing I need is to hit a complete roadblock with yet another toon, held back by LFR and LFR alone. He’s not a raider, and he’s not a sub, and he’s always been for fun, so I’m going to take it easy with him post-patch. However, since there is almost nothing going on right now otherwise, I’ve been working hard recently to get him some gear and get him Valor-capped for 5.4 (I can’t help that!). The JP can come now or later, though. I don’t really care which. So I may do some dungeons if I get bored toward the end of the week. Or I might save him for later. Either way, I win, because it’ll be fun to continue to progress him casually.

Level 90 toons “not pictured:” other hunter (going somewhat dormant); paladin (is always dormant).

Ghilleadh is done with normal-/heroic-mode raiding. I’m back to only raiding on weekends with Mushan and my normal team, and that’s it. So in a 100% anti-#HunterWeek fashion, I’m relegating him – my “other 90 hunter” – back to “make enchants for me, farm turtle meat, and do Fatty Goatsteak dailies”-status. And I’m fine with that. For several reasons – some of which are completely unrelated to him, but others of which are definitely all about him – I haven’t enjoyed him anywhere close to as much as I enjoy Mushan.

And the pally is, as I mentioned above, always dormant. Always there to make flasks and potions and do transmutes for me, but otherwise, yeah… dormant.

I have no qualms about either of those situations.

So the plan for this week is to get three toons VP-capped, picking up some JP along the way. I like heroic dungeons, and queues don’t seem to be long right now even for DPS, so it should be a fun week.

I’ll shut up now. This turned into quite a long post!

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


The luck, and the lack thereof

T14 4p - Woot!

T14 4p – Woot!

On Monday morning, I was playing my mage – doing my farming at Halfhill, actually – when the call went out for a Sha of Anger group. I took the invite and, upon using my bonus roll, was awarded the Tier 14 leg token.

Now, my luck on this mage has been pretty good, if I may say so myself. Playing him casually, compared to the hunter, I’ve managed to get him up to ilvl 481. With the 4-piece bonus. 

Mushan, on the other hand, has three pieces of T14.

Sonofa…

I can’t get T14 Protector shoulders to drop from Lei Shi to save my life, in spite of faithful weekly kills and rolls, just like I can’t get Feng (FENG!)** to to cough up his mail boots. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining or bitter, because I’ve had some pretty nice luck with Mushan, with a Sha-Touched weapon and gem, three tier pieces (including two 496’s from Sha of Anger and the 496 helm from Sha of Fear), 489 belt-amulet-cloak-bracers from Mogu’shan Vaults… considering what we’ve killed, I’ve made out very well.

**From Convert to Raid. Awesome, awesome podcast. Listen to it, or you’re missing out on the awesome.

It’s just funny how things work when it comes to RNG. My mage has, at most, a third of the effort put into him that has gone into Mushan in this expansion, and he’s got the 4-piece. Of course, he doesn’t have a nice purple weapon, and his gear has some holes here and there, but he gets by. He gets by just fine.  ;)

After dabbling with Fire for a short bit and being seriously turned off by how sluggish it felt compared to my hunter, I’ve been full-on Frost DPS on Modhriel since shortly after I hit 90. I enjoy it very much; it plays fast, which makes it a lot of fun, and I’ve found that I can hold my own in situations like LFR, dungeons, or Sha groups. It’s great that all three mage specs are generally viable now, because, since I enjoy the way that Survival plays – pretty active – Frost mage is a nice approximation, at least as far as pacing goes. The mage isn’t a raiding toon in the strictest sense, but I think I could raid with it, and while I don’t have the level of expertise (and I use that term relatively) and experience with mages that I do with hunters, I still feel comfortable enough that I could jump into Mogu’shan Vaults, at least, and be effective.

So… this isn’t a bitter post, by any stretch. I’m very happy with where my hunter is, gear-wise, so I write this from a happy place. I’m thrilled that this toon has the 4-piece – how could I not be? I just think it’s funny how RNG works: I grind and grind for a couple of things on the hunter, over the course of months, to no avail, but the mage is like, “Yes, I’ll take one of those, and one of those…” It makes me chuckle!

Good times in Pandaria. Indeed.

- – -

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


Please don’t. A rebuttal to “Please remove reforging”

Expertise. Yeah.

One of the topics that seemed to come up a few times in my reading during the past several weeks has been the idea that Hit Rating and Expertise Rating are essentially redundant – which Matthew Rossi wrote about in October at WoW Insider – and that there may be changes in the future around those two stats.

Of course, any commentary by a developer will bring out all kinds of internet people suggesting drastic changes and issuing ultimatums (for example, “if you don’t ________ I’m going to unsub for good” is a grossly-overused classic). Regarding this topic, “Please remove reforging” is one such sledgehammer-to-the-game suggestion, lifted from a twitter exchange on December 6th between Ghostcrawler and @HunterSalty. I picked it up by reading MMO Champion’s blue tweet highlights on December 28th.*

*Not sure why this came up over three weeks later on MMO-C’s blue tracker, but I digress…

Here is @HunterSalty’s tweet:

@Ghostcrawler @Saraphite Amen. Please remove reforging. Also eliminates need to go to external sites to tell you how exactly to reforge.

For the full exchange, click the link above to see how ping-pongy a conversation can go on Twitter… or, here’s me paraphrasing it:

@Saraphite says: Gemming, reforging, enchanting, upgrading is too much stuff to do.

@Ghostcrawler says: We agree. Back in the day, you wore what you got.

@HunterSalty says: Amen. Remove reforging, etc. (see above)

@Ghostcrawler says: Actually we like reforging except for hit and expertise.

@CM_Zarhym says: Actually, I look forward to getting new gear and reforging between stats and hit/expertise.

@Zarasz says: Many people enjoy it. If it’s not fun for you, don’t do it.

@Ghostcrawler says: Can you explain how reforging is fun? Many players use a spreadsheet to make those decisions.

PING pong. ping PONG.

It’s a real conversation, and yet it’s all over the place. Yes, all of that is too much. No, reforging is fine except for hit/exp. Wait, how do you find it fun?

Wait, Greg Street. “Fun” is a broad term. An extremely broad term. I suppose my answer to your question would be that, on a process level, I like the challenge and process of using what parts and pieces I have available in order to come up with the best possible stat combination for me. And on a meta level, I like that the freedom to do so is available. Is that good enough? I’m not so enamored with mathematical challenges that I feel the same feeling – exhilaration, or whatever – that I feel after a new boss kill; nor am I so in love with the look and feel of Mr. Robot’s website that I just can’t wait to go see if I can use it again. So it’s not fun in that sense. It’s interesting, and it provides satisfaction, and it’s currently a (somewhat passive) part of the recipe for betterment, so I like it from those standpoints. But no, I don’t think to myself, “It’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll go on a reforging binge” or something like that, like pet battles or PvP weekends or chain-running heroics with friends on our alts on New Years Eve.

Yeah, that’s what I did on New Years Eve. It was most definitely a lot of fun.

Anyway… when I started this article on Dec. 28, the GC “fun” tweet hadn’t been made yet, and my thought was “Thank God Ghostcrawler is smart enough to take the ‘absolutes’ that people tell him on Twitter as what they are – individual perspectives.” Now, however, I don’t know what the hell to think. At any rate, I started writing this post, and I intend to finish it, keeping in mind the nature of Twitter conversations and their inherent limitations.

The error of a personal absolute

I find it both amusing and tiring when I see people, both in-game and on the World Wide Webinator, get all upset about reforging. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past several days, and for me, it boils down to this: if you play competitively – that is, whether you PvP or raid or Brawl or extreme solo, etc. – you’re min-maxing anyway, shuffling gems and weighing enchant options and deciding which side-grade has slightly better stats for you and whether last tier’s 4-piece is better than this tier’s 2-piece. Reforging further allows you to squeeze as much power as possible from your set of items by refining your available stat pool to knife-edge perfection. And if you’re not playing competitively, then it matters quite a bit less, and you’re probably not working to maximize your output, because it doesn’t matter as much for quests and so on.

This is a generalization, of course.

However, so is “get rid of reforging” – it suggests a thorough hammer-smash treatment for a game feature that someone doesn’t like, even though that feature is something that many people find fun (O.o, see “fun” part above), interesting, and challenging. Reforging has been part of the game for more than two years now, and is as big of a component as gemming and enchanting and gear selection, more or less, to varying degrees.

We wore what dropped

I remember back in Wrath, when (for instance) I would get a new piece of gear that had Crit and Haste on it, and I would have to make a decision about whether to use it in place of something that had Hit and/or Expertise on it. Deciding either way could at times mean that I sat down with a piece of paper and made a diagram of each slot and its secondary stats and sockets, and figured out whether I could swap in enough Hit or Exp gems without losing too much Armor Pen, or whatever, and still have the piece be a DPS upgrade. Now, I didn’t necessarily dislike this process; in fact, stat management has long been one aspect of WoW that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

However, with the advent of reforging in 4.0.1, things changed quickly. It was like the stat world opened up, and a whole new realm of possibilities with it. Instead of building something with only big blocks and small blocks like before, you now had big blocks and small blocks and blocks that you could cut into two pieces so they would fit better, making for better optimization and giving players more choices when it came to setting up their gear.

If we wore what dropped, today

If reforging didn’t exist today, but everything else remained unchanged, the following circumstances would be real and brutal in my own WoW life:

1. My hunter would be way over the Hit cap, and way, way under the Expertise cap. I would subsequently be missing (dodged) a lot and hitting with less power, less frequently, with less chance to crit, due to all of the stat budget wasted on excess Hit Rating.

2. My prot warrior wouldn’t have a chance in hell of even approaching the soft Expertise cap, making active mitigation much more difficult due to the dodges and parries of even quest mobs, and his passive mitigation/avoidance stats would be extremely unbalanced (not enough Mastery and Parry, too much Dodge).

3. My mage would likewise be way under the Hit cap. See above.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that a reversion to reforging being non-existent would require massive changes that would approach the scale of the gear changes that took place in 4.0.1 and Cataclysm.

Possible required changes

(A tip of the hat to my friend Squido, who reminded me of some key points on this issue when I was discussing this post with him last night.)

If reforging were removed from the game, there would have to be big changes to gear, and perhaps to classes, in order to make things work. It’s easy to imagine that – taking for granted that, for instance, most (if not all) DPS specs need to be at either 7.5% Hit/7.5% Exp (physical) or 15% combined Hit/Exp (spell) – stat itemization would have to be adjusted fairly radically in order to ensure that players had a fair chance of meeting caps. And for tanks, there would have to be appropriate amounts of avoidance stats on gear…

Which leads us to an even greater issue: that of class individuality as it relates to both gear and stats. For example, as many people know, different tank specs prioritize different stats. Regarding secondary stats, my warrior prioritizes Hit/Exp to caps > Mastery > twice as much Parry as Dodge, in general. On the other hand, Squido’s paladin looks at stats very differently, with Haste, which is virtually worthless to prot warriors, having some benefit for prot pallies.

In order to make a non-reforging world work as well as a reforging one does, some combination of these changes might have to happen:

1. They homogenize role specs to the point where they value the same stats. “All Agility classes value Crit over Haste,” etc… I can’t imagine how wrong and how utterly boring that would be. That would be a big step in the wrong direction, in my opinion.

2. They make a lot more pieces of gear available from each boss, as well as from Valor Points, etc. in order to cover all of the statistical bases if they don’t homogenize similar role specs. That way, there’s a chance, however minuscule, that the perfect piece will drop for you. Then again, that means every boss will be a loot pinata with a loot table approaching the size of Sha of Anger’s or Argaloth’s or Archavon’s. How many people will have super pissy-fits in that type of situation, due to the fact that, while their piece drops off this boss, it never drops because there are so many things that it could drop that the common drop chance is diluted? I know, right?

3. They put less passive stats and a lot more gem slots on gear, so that each piece has some level of customization, so that those players that don’t get “the perfect piece” (and there will be a lot of those) can still add stats to make up any shortfalls dealt them by RNG while still allowing them to raid competitively.

4. Absent these things, they make bosses “easier” since hardly anyone will have the opportunity to optimize their gear. Or…

5. Absent these things and keeping bosses at current difficulty levels, there is less progression, leading to less raiders, more frustration among the player base, and, eventually, lower subscriber numbers, due to a massive design downgrade.

Ghostcrawler obviously understands this, and so it’s likely that whatever solution he and his team working on won’t be a knee-jerk, hammer-smash change that certain people in the Internet think will be just jolly-good-fine. At least, I hope that’s the case…

Choice

As a side note…

Contrary to the beliefs of some, reforging does allow for choice, even if that choice can be stunted by the need to meet caps for Hit and Expertise.

Jasyla has written about how she doesn’t max out her Spirit on her resto druid, preferring to enjoy the mana management game and concentrate on throughput, whereas many healers I know of are loading up on Spirit like going-out-of-business Twinkies.

Tanks can choose to maximize Hit and Exp to smooth out their mitigation rotations, or they can take a walk on the wild side and max out their passive mitigation stats and ride the spike-damage coaster.

Certain DPS classes can prioritize Crit over Haste, or Haste over Crit, with little difference in results but a big difference in playstyle.

So there is choice, within limits, and it’s not quite as contingent on that next gear drop like it was before.

“Eliminates the need to go to external sites…”

Let’s do a little Q&A…

Q: How many classes have best-in-slot gear lists and rotation/priority advice written about them on blogs and forums for each patch?

A: Come on, really? All of them. In spades.

So yes, if reforging were removed, people wouldn’t have to go to the Internet to reforge, logically. I’ll give you that. But they’d been going to blogs and forums and sims and podcasts for several years before reforging was available. WoW is a game where many people spend a lot of time on the game outside of the game, and it’s been that way for a long time. So it won’t stop if reforging is removed.

In fact, with reforging removed, gear lists – both their sizes and their viewership – would likely go through the roof, along with gemming strategies and other related topics, because of #2 in the above section on Possible required changes. So if there’s a “problem” with people going outside the game for information – which is, by this point, a time-honored tradition – then getting rid of reforging will certainly not “fix” it.

Closing

I just don’t see how reforging is so bad that it needs to be removed. I don’t think that most of the progression raiding/PvP playerbase thinks that way, either. Maybe I’m completely wrong. If so, then I’ll just be wrong.

There may indeed be changes on the distant horizon with regard to Hit and Expertise, and when the time comes, I’m interested to see how they solve their perceived issues with it. But I don’t think reforging is the problem. Hit and Expertise are the problem. (Edited for poorly used quotes, etc.)

I see reforging as a very valuable tool that’s preferable to what came before, and I also think that it helps to smooth out some of the RNG issues that, while still frustrating, can be mitigated to a certain extent through “stat-swapping.” I was happy when it arrived, and I don’t want to go back to when it wasn’t.

- – -

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers