Warlords of Draenor cinematic, release date, and other miscellaneous thoughts

It’s been quite a while since I chimed in here…

But now, with November 13th now solidly penciled in on the calendar, we have some long, long,

LONG…

-awaited closure with respect to the Warlords of Draenor release date.

As I mentioned back in March, the 11/13/14 release date means, since it is indeed after October 21st, that

“Warlords will have both A) taken the longest time-after-previous-expansion to release of any expansion in the game’s history and B) given players the greatest amount of down-time after the previous expansion’s final content patch in the game’s history.”

So, we’ll have to see how this expansion unfolds, with respect to measured content updates and shorter downtime between final patches and new expansions. That will be another year or two (or more). Blizzard says that they are already working on the next one, but we’ve heard that before. They’re still bleeding subscriptions, and they failed to solve that problem this go-round, so we’ll see.

The question is, how many of us will see…

* * *

Anyway, how about that cinematic? I have to say, I loved it, in spite of the exclusion of anything other than male orcs and a demon. The setting was compelling, the production spectacular, and the action was thrilling. I absolutely loved the flying-Grommash-axe-to-the-head killing of Mannoroth.

I’ve watched the cinematic approximately twenty times. It makes me want to do two things: re-read Rise Of The Horde, and read all of the books post-The Shattering – in particular, War Crimes. That’s something to put on the list of things to get done within the next three months.

It was quite possibly the best cinematic yet. As good as Cataclysm’s seemed at the time, this and the trailer for Mists absolutely destroy it, in my opinion. Wrath’s was awesome too, and I loved the original WoW trailer as well. Darkbrew published a list of his favorites, and mine would be similar.

Here’s a recurring thought I have every time we get the expansion trailer: Blizzard should make a complete movie with CGI. I’m willing to be impressed by the live-action movie that will grace us in a couple of years, but I would love to see something killer like the past couple of cinematics become a major motion picture. Perhaps the cost/risk would be too great – I don’t know about these things. But hey, a guy can dream, right?

* * *

I’m still playing, although I basically stopped raiding near the end of June. My job has been stressful, and I wasn’t finding it a productive use of my time to come home from work and promptly beat my head against a wall until a couple of hours after midnight, particularly when I would have to be back at work early the next day.

In fact, I’m becoming convinced that my raiding days may be behind me. Barring a change of circumstances, I’m not going to have the time and focus to commit to raiding and raiding well. Real life comes first, and I am at an age and in a situation where I can’t let structure in WoW interfere with my future. The idea of not raiding can be a painful one, but the way I’ve felt the past few months, I don’t know that I can do it going forward.

With that (and other things) in mind, my plans for Warlords have been shifting over the past couple of weeks.

I had already planned to not race to level 100. What’s shifting may surprise the socks off of some of you…

I’m thinking of leveling a different toon first. As in, not Mushan.

* * *

Why not Mushan? I know, it seems anathema to lifelong hunters out there, but I’m not the average WoW hunter. I’ll be honest: I’m not terribly happy with what I’ve read about the changes to Survival. It seems like it’s a shadow of its former self. I know that’s a simplified way to look at changes to the spec – and I’ll certainly try it out when Patch 6.0 goes live – but I’m not feeling it right now.

And, while I feel a little better about Marksmanship than SV, it seems like, pre-numbers-pass, Beast Mastery is the way to go. And (here’s where I know I differ from other hunters) I don’t enjoy BM. To me, it’s like being a guy with a water gun and a remote-control car, and you shoot your water gun and remotely control your car, which sometimes gets stuck on a rock in the dirt or some other protrusion and ends up getting stepped on. Perhaps this reflects the true lack of skill I have in the game, but I’ve never enjoyed playing a hunter less in the post-mana era than when I went BM for Council of the Elders in ToT.

Anyway… *washes hands of the issue* I’ll be able to better make a decision on that when the patch goes live and I’ve had a chance to try out each spec to see if I like one of them.

* * *

As for what I’ve been up to in WoW, there hasn’t been much of note.

I’m steadily making cloth for Royal Satchels: So far, Mushan and my druid, Anacrusa, are fully Satcheled-up, with a few other Satchels on various other toons. Now that we have a release date, I’m certain that I will not have full Panda-bags on each of my main toons, but I won’t need that space immediately since I am not racing them all to 100 ASAP, so I will probably leave Modhriel (my Tailor) at Halfhill for the foreseeable future while that project is going on.

I’ve taken up PvP on my druid, which has been interesting. With a gear set largely composed of Timeless Isle gear, about a week ago I stepped in and started losing a lot of random BGs. Compounding the gear problem was my inability to play the spec well, and vice-versa. It’s been a long time since I PvPed regularly on my druid – three years or so – so there has been a lot to learn. I felt a bit guilty for holding my teams back, but I shouldn’t have – I wasn’t the main problem. Most games, we were getting crushed. Ana in full Prideful gear wasn’t going to turn most of those matches into wins, believe me.

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few pieces of Grievous, and the weapon will be next (and a huge upgrade). Things are getting better: I’m getting the hang of the spec, which is my #1(a) goal, with #1 being to have fun doing something that is both old and new.

Aside from that, I’m casually grinding Valor on my warrior, druid, DK, and paladin. My mage has had horrible luck getting a weapon to replace his T14 Sha-Touched sword, so I’ve basically given up on that (and on grinding other gear and Valor) with him. When he finally gets to Draenor, he’s going to destroy mobs anyway, so I’m not terribly worried about it. Frickin’ guy has a 544 ilvl, so I think he’s going to be just fine, even in spite of his 491 weapon…

I’ve also been hitting up some old raids on Mushan. A couple of friends and I went into Ulduar last weekend and wiped the floor with 25-player mode, which scored me a boatload of achievement points. Before that, we did the same in ICC-25. I also finally completed my Valorous Cryptstalker set on my hunter (at least to a point where I could use the gear), which I may talk about in the near future.

* * *

Without making this a book, these are just some miscellaneous bits from the world of Mushan.

Etc.

More, soon. :)

* * *

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


Revisiting Outland with a new hunter

Ah, the low level greens

In my “free time” – which, in World of Warcraft, generally constitutes time spent “not advancing” my level 90 characters or professions in some shape or form – lately, I’ve been leveling a new hunter.

Now, there is no need for me to make a new hunter, at least for the sake of hunters per se. I already have three hunters on my realm, and two of them are max level. However, I do love the class, and so when the time came to work on a new project, it was a fairly easy choice for me.

Anyway, I’ve got this new hunter. And this hunter has a purpose. Due to this purpose, it’s extremely likely that he will never reach max level.

* * *

If I think about the history of my experience in WoW, with an eye toward my favorite parts of the leveling experience, something interesting happens.

Some people love(d) Vanilla WoW. And, the truth is, I did too; I didn’t start playing WoW until the month after TBC launched, but I did spend a ton of time leveling through the “Vanilla” parts of the game when I started playing – I didn’t have my first level 70 toon until just over a month before Wrath launched! And while there were frustrating and faulty aspects of that part of the game, I have a lot of good – fuzzy, but good – memories from that time.

However, that part of the game is gone. Forever.

It’s not 100% gone, of course: there are areas of the game that survived the revamp (the “kill 10 Young Stranglethorn Tigers -> Stranglethorn Tigers -> Elder Stranglethorn Tigers”-type questlines come to mind, for one), but they’re relatively few in number. As a whole, the Vanilla WoW experience no longer exists.

As such – and this is the interesting thing that I realized – the earliest “nostalgia-era” content that is still available in anything collectively resembling its original form is The Burning Crusade. And Wrath follows that, of course… and those two zones are the reasons that I made this new hunter.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, as well as some of those from before, you may know that I’m at something of a crisis point as far as the game goes with me. A lot of times, what’s needed in these situations is a break from the everyday endgame experience (or lack thereof), and that’s what I’ve been looking for lately. Looking at the game, I realized recently that I had no characters that could play in Outland at-level – seven 90s, an 85, and two toons at or below 30. One of those lowbies is a hunter, and the other a shaman. I don’t enjoy the shaman as much as I had hoped, and the other hunter is reserved for a different project, should I ever return to it.

Anyway, I decided that, while I’m not a fan of leveling the revamped content on Azeroth, I wanted to take another toon into Outland and Northrend… and I didn’t feel like leveling a second DK (not that that isn’t fun, but my DK is the last toon I leveled, so I’d like to give DKs a bit of a rest for the moment). So, hunter it was.

But, why Outland?

When I look back at the past few years and think about the toons I’ve brought to max level, starting with Mushan and including a (now deleted) mage, warrior, replacement mage, second hunter, and DK, I realized that my favorite zones to revisit during the leveling process are Outland and Northrend. They were the continents/expansions that I played before I raided, which means “back when I sucked.” Back when I had no idea what was going on, or how to play. Back when the world was a complete wonder to me. When things were scary and new.

For some reason, nostalgia brings me back to those zones, to those expansions’ content. To a simpler time. That’s the number one reason. The revamped Vanilla content was okay for the first play-through, but there are certain aspects to the leveling process that make the experience uninteresting to me, including the lack of virtually any challenges along the way and the updating of the content to the current-as-of-Cataclysm time period.

* * *

I’ve set some parameters to encourage discovery, exploration, and learning… and also to ensure that I do not simply blow through to the higher levels like I usually do.

Heirlooms

No heirlooms past level 58. I did use several heirlooms through level 57, because the goal here was absolutely to zip through large chunks of the pre-58 content at a time. Once I hit 58, I did away with them, replacing them with quest greens I had saved for exactly that purpose. I even equipped a level 15 (ilvl 22) cloak as I prepared for Outland, because that was the last one I had saved. Not that that mattered – everything has been nerfed, so the simple fact that I had something appropriate equipped in every slot ensured that questing would still be very easy.

I’m also not in a guild, for guild perk reasons (including the bonus XP perk).

Locking XP

Based on past (post-4.0) experience, a player can hit Hellfire, Terrokar, Nagrand, and SMV or Netherstorm, run a couple of dungeons along the way, and easily be 68 (and ready for Northrend) before completing any zones, and skipping the vast majority of the Outland content. My aim with this toon is to spend time in Outland, so skipping content is anathema in that scenario. Therefore, I went to Wowhead and looked up the required levels for quests in each zone. For instance, virtually all of the quests in Hellfire are available by the time players hit 61; thus, when I hit 61, I lock my XP. This means that, once I finish the zone, I can unlock my XP, move on to Zangarmarsh, and continue gaining XP until I get to 62 (when all quests in Zangar become available). Then, when I finish Zangar, I can start Terrokar with unlocked XP and re-lock it again at 64 for Nagrand. This preserves some semblance of “I’m playing at-level,” which is another goal that I have. I could do each zone and run each dungeon without locking XP, but I would quickly outgrow each zone well before I finish it if I did it that way. I’m likely going to spend more time in Outland with my XP locked than unlocked, but that’s ok.

By the way, I discovered the other day that locking XP also interrupts the accrual of “rest,” which, for these purposes, does not disappoint me. Knowing that I won’t be out-leveling a zone quite so fast makes for more fluid progression within the zone than 30 bars of rest would – to a point, of course.

Mounts

Ground mounts only. Some people may think this is crazy, but I’m determined to play it very much like I did when I first took Anacrusa through it in 2007-08. And I couldn’t fly back then. Taxis (flight paths) are allowed, of course.

Additionally, while I do have a vendor mount, I will not use it with this toon.

Dungeons

There are quests in zones, once you get to a certain point/level, that send you to a dungeon that corresponds with the story; in Hellfire, it’s Hellfire Ramparts. In the interest of playing through the story, I will run the dungeons. However, I will only do this while XP-locked.

It’s fairly clear, at this point, that managing the throttling of XP-gain is a large part of this endeavor. Part of this is an experiment to see how it affects immersion; I’m of the opinion that while going back several times to Stormwind to (un)lock XP is a slight annoyance, it’s no more immersion-breaking than any other non-core activity in the game, such as doing my farms every day on max-level toons, or raiding the same instance every week.

* * *

It’s an imperfect science, obviously: there are several aspects of the game that are impossible to recreate. LFD didn’t exist back then, there were group quest elites, stats and specs and talents have been revamped, glyphs have been added, and things have been heavily nerfed. There’s no way to go back 100%, but that’s something I was fully aware of as I began the project.

The goal is to immerse myself in Outland. Revisit and enjoy the lore, and experience it as authentically as possible from a playstyle perspective. Revisit some memories of formative times in my WoW-childhood. There really isn’t a way to completely and accurately replicate that experience any more, but I can do things to mitigate the hyper-leveling paradigm that plagues** old content.

** “Plague” indicating a certain perspective; I know that there are many who are absolutely done with Outland in every way, but I also know that there are a lot of people who love TBC and love spending time there. So for my purposes, leveling quickly is the opposite of what I’m interested in. However, for others, it’s a necessity.

At any rate, along the way, I am taking a lot of screenshots, reading quest text, and completing each zone the best I can.

By the way, I’m leveling as Marksman on this hunter, which is what I leveled Mushan and Ghilleadh with back in the day. I don’t play Marks anymore on those toons, but it is absolutely killer for leveling. I approach the mob. I plant, and (unglyphed) Aim, and Shoot. 95% of the time, the mob either dies from a single shot or is critically injured (and is subsequently finished off with a Kill Shot). For elites or higher-level-than-me mobs, I do the “Aimed/Chimera” combo, and if it doesn’t kill them, it usually does serious damage. Even without heirlooms, the damage is punishing if it crits, and with Careful Aim, that happens quite often…

Playing this way makes me feel more like a ranger than just about anything else in the game. And that’s a fun aspect of this project, too.

* * *

As I mentioned above (and in a previous post), there’s no way to 100% accurately replicate the experience of playing WoW or a new expansion for the first time – once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. However, there are ways to revisit it. I’m a leave-my-poor-arms-at-the-emergency-room-afterward raider, but I also love leveling, and I love some of the old parts of the game. It’s fun and relaxing to lose myself in my new character, imagining him seeing this content for the first time and experiencing that wonder and awe with him. I’ve seen it before, but I also like seeing it again. And perhaps I’ll learn something new along the way.

Of course, this dovetails somewhat nicely with the idea that it’s nice to see Outland as it was a couple of years ago on the eve of Warlords of Draenor, since a great deal of that lore (along with that of the relevant books) will be somewhat pertinent to that expansion as well…

* * *

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


Mushan is 3 years old today!

Mushan - created August 22, 2010. Shown here in Blade's Edge on September 22 of that year with Korak, his trusty gorilla. (I still have that pet!)

Mushan – created Aug. 22, 2010. Shown here in Blade’s Edge on Sept. 27 of that year. He was level 67 then.

Three years ago, I created Mushan, who is my third*, and oldest surviving, hunter.

It was the dog days of Wrath, when I was long done with raiding ICC, and there wasn’t much to do that was more important than finally leveling a hunter. I had been listening to the Hunting Party Podcast for a good portion of the year, and was really getting excited about the class. So I decided to create and level Mushan, and it was basically the most fantastic leveling experience I have had compared with any other toon.

I loved his name, and the way he looked, and the way the class played (I leveled as MM). He was so much fun to run dungeons with as I leveled, with the added benefit that it was relaxing and enjoyable to step away from melee range for a while and just shoot things. It was great to level through the old world zones one last time on what would turn out to be my all-time favorite toon (and the toon that I’ve played the best). He gave me a renewed energy for the game; in reality, he saved me from letting the game peter out for myself.

Mushan is the realization, the fruition, of my affection for hunters. I had had hunters in the past, and I had loved various aspects about them, but he and I paired up for what became, and continues to be, an epic run. We’ve leveled, we’ve done extreme soloing, we’ve raided, we’ve PvPed together, we’ve explored the game together in many, many ways.

Additionally, without him inspiring my imagination and my play, I don’t know that I would have ever created this blog – and if I had, it would probably be a very different animal!**

So, wherever I may go, and whatever other toons I play from time to time, he is the one whose birth and growth I remember the most fondly. We’ve had great times together, and will continue to have many more!

Happy Birthday, Mushan!

Notes about the picture: 1) Love that old guild tabard, although the one I came up with later on was even better; 2) Stupid melee weapon…; 3) He’s pictured with his trusty gorilla, Korak. I still have that pet – he’s just a regular gorilla, but he’s still badass!

*The first two were deleted; the first, early in Wrath, had languished at level 63 for a long time; the second, during the middle of Cata, was only 24, and I immediately used his name for another hunter, who still exists. :)

**Droignon, Etc.? The Balm of Ghilleadh? um… I really can’t think of anything good. I’m really, really bad at naming blogs, obviously!

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


I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

Frostheim, co-creator of Warcraft Hunters Union (and all that that site has done for us hunters), progenitor of WoW Hunters Hall, long-time Scattered Shots (WoW Insider) columnist, long-time member (and poet laureate) of the Hunting Party Podcast, writer of several amazing odes to hunters, staunch defender of facts and math and balance, advocate for cool new stuff for hunters, recoverer of his own cloak, and generally fun and awesome guy, announced last Saturday on the Hunting Party Podcast – and later that day on WHU – that he is retiring.

Given his recent stretches of absence from the WHU and the HPP, to say that I didn’t see this coming would be incorrect. And he is not quitting the game, but is shutting down his personal commitments to his blogging / podcasting activities in order to devote his time to other ventures. He’s also apparently going to put away his white-quality weapons and lessen the amount of time he spends shooting at target dummies as if they’re trying to invade his city, and actually devote more of his WoW time to playing the game! This is a good thing.

Personally, though – and I know I speak for untold numbers of players out there – I Will Miss You, Frost.

I’m A Hunter

I wasn’t always a hunter. But one of my earliest toons was a hunter back when I started playing shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, although since I was a terrible player (and that’s all the info anyone needs) back then, I failed to get him to level 70.

During the spring of 2010, when the Lich King was dead and we were in the midst of the longest stretch of meaningful-content-less boredom in the history of the game, I started listening to the Hunting Party Podcast. I forget how it happened; the best I can remember is that, as a reader of WoW Insider, I liked Frostheim’s Scattered Shots posts more than just about anything else on the site.

(I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably ready for a change at that point… but anyway, to continue…)

Of course, the header on each of his posts mentioned that he was from Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast, and so I checked them out. And let me say, when someone charismatic like Frostheim is available to be both read and listened to, it can be a powerful combination. I wasn’t much of a podcast-listener in those days – my only constant at the time was the WoW Insider Show, which I haven’t listened to in almost a year now, and I had tried out several others that either didn’t grab me or didn’t stick around. So when I found Darkbrew, Euripides, and Frostheim, I was hooked. I downloaded and listened to every single episode that was available on iTunes, and they were my companions that summer and fall as we inched our way toward the launch of Cataclysm.

Meanwhile, I started a few hunters. Mushan stuck, and the rest is history (which I’ve laid out in previous posts). Playing the hunter that summer and fall, leveling the hunter, doing dungeons on the hunter, was every bit as fun as I had imagined it would be while listening to the HPP. As a player who now had some general skill, I didn’t have any of the problems I had had in 2008 with my long-deleted original. I was topping meters, learning to use my utility abilities, enjoying playing the movement/Auto Shot game, and seriously thinking about making Mushan my main. Which eventually happened.

I was “Ana” back in the day, but now I’m “Mushan,” and that is indescribably largely due to the influence of one Frostheim.

Things lately have been quieter on the Mushan/HPP front. I often work on Saturdays, so I don’t get to listen in live when the show is recorded anymore. And the shows have often taken weeks to come out on iTunes, and so over the past several months I’ve only listened a handful of times, and I expect that to continue.

But I’ve always enjoyed listening to Frostheim, and I’m going to miss that. He has given so much to the hunter community at this point that it’s almost a cliche to say so, but I don’t care. Why?

Because without Frostheim, it’s almost certain that there would be no Mushan. And that’s of some importance, at least to me. He literally rejuvenated my WoW experience by unknowingly reintroducing me to the hunter class. He changed the game for me. Without Frostheim, I might not have switched over to a hunter. Without Frostheim, I might not even be playing the game anymore. At the very least, without Frostheim, this blog would certainly not exist in this form.

The first paragraph of this post probably makes me sound like a bit of a fan-boy. Am I a fan-boy of Frostheim? Hell yes! I think my previous paragraph does a pretty good job explaining why.

And so, to Frostheim, Thank You for all you’ve done for hunters. You’ve been a gift to us these past several years, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be following whatever you do in the future – stay in touch!

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


The wrong motivation

A while ago, I ranked on Feng-10N as a SV hunter.

I’m not going to deny it – it was awesome. It was particularly so because I was not expecting it to happen. It was the first time I had ever ranked, and you can only ever have that first time once.

Since then, I haven’t ranked on anything. For a short time, this caused me to wonder if my damage was going down, but it hasn’t been. There are just more guilds beating Feng – and therefore more hunters – and so I can’t seem to crack the top 200. Which is fine, because that’s not my motivation.

Ranking again would be cool. Killing more bosses would be way, way cooler.

However, last night something happened which caused me to consider doing something this weekend that, upon reflection, seems asinine.

What happened was that a player I know ranked ridiculously high on Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. When I heard about it, I checked WoL and found that this person – normally a situation-appropriate SV/BM hunter – ranked as MM.

It was an interesting temptation. My girlfriend said, rather flippantly, “I guess if you want to rank, go as MM.”

Yeah, I thought. I could spend a couple of days practicing, and then bring a new MM version of Mushan into Mogu’shan Vaults, etc. on Saturday night. Most people don’t play MM anyway, right? If I applied myself, I could probably get my name on a few of the charts. My heart was momentarily excited.

Then, within a few short moments, I came plummeting back down to earth and realized that that was probably one of the dumber ideas I had had in the past year or so.

Yes, maybe I could rank on a few fights. Maybe I could rank on Zor’lok, too.

But would we even kill him, if I fought him in MM spec?

- – -

As a guild, we’ve defeated Zor’lok three times. The last time he died, which was last Sunday, it was the closest we’ve had to a full guild run / our regular team. He’s still rough – we’re fine until the floor phase, and then it gets shaky. I’m playing as close to the top of my game as I can, trying to avoid damage and deal as much damage as possible myself. Everyone is the same – we’re all playing with lightning at our finger-tips, dancing around and fighting as well as we can, trying to kill him before he kills us.

Taking MM Mushan into a fight like that would be a bad thing for several reasons.

1. It’s a selfish, stupid f@%king reason to play a spec like that. For serious.

2. I’d like to play MM again someday, but I’ve played SV consistently for more than a year now, and even with the changes the spec/class has gone through, I’ve been constantly familiar with it – SV fits me as close to a glove as any spec could in this game right now. On the other hand, even the idea of playing MM seems foreign to me right now, and at this time I don’t necessarily think I really even want to play the spec.

3. Making my teammates work harder to kill any of the bosses – even the “easier” ones – goes against how I view my role in raids, ethically and even morally. And it’s almost certain that I would be less effective playing Marks than I am as SV.

4. Who really gives a crap if I rank on anything in 10N? Or on any fight? You don’t, do you? No, you don’t. None of the other hunters, whether they themselves rank or not, cares if I rank. My guildies really don’t care if I rank. Nobody cares if I rank.

I don’t even really care if I rank, to be honest.

5. Ranking as MM would feel hollow.

I know that BM is supposed to be the best spec, but SV is the best spec for me, and I bring my best “me” to my raid team when I’m playing SV.

And the truth is that most hunters are playing SV or BM, which is evidenced by things such as the fact that the threshold for ranking as MM on Zor’lok-10N, as of last night, was only 64,268 DPS(e) – a number that, as SV, I regularly top by a good 15-18K. The threshold for ranking as SV was 94,523 as of Sunday night, which is a full 47% higher than the MM threshold. There is an obvious disparity there – the true competition is in the SV/BM ranking charts. And so, really, I don’t even know that I would feel good at all if I managed to rank on anything as MM – as a “bigger fish in a relatively smaller pond” – particularly when taking into consideration the potential detriment that my inexperience with MM and my lack of usual performance could hurt my team.

So it turned out to be a pretty bad idea. Thankfully, I didn’t try it.

- – -

To those who love and excel at playing Marksmanship, I salute you. I would love to play MM and play it well, but right now I’m sticking with SV, rankings be damned. SV feels right, and it also feels like the right thing to do. Someday, I’m sure I’ll pick up MM and give it a whirl, but it will be for the love of the spec and the game, not because I want to try to faceroll* onto an ultimately meaningless rankings chart.

*Not saying I would definitely faceroll onto the MM charts – I’m just self-directing some sarcasm with that comment.

- – -

Thanks for reading this (description of a thought process) by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Upside down and forward thinking

Nobody else is probably interested in this, but I am.

Even before my latest post, it occurred to me that I could certainly level all the way to 90 with my ilvl 397 gear on my hunter, including the Tier 13 set bonuses.

However, I’m actually thinking of doing the opposite.

With the two-piece set bonus and the talents from the level 60 talent tier, I am swimming in focus. As SV, ever only using Cobra shot singly, mainly to keep Serpent Sting up and to occasionally get my 28 focus or whatever the shots give with the bonus, it is very easy to be focus-capped way too much.

It strikes me that, at level 90 in Mists of Pandaria, since that gear will be gone, replaced by more powerful gear – but at a character level that will once again dilute the power of combat ratings – focus will become much more of an issue. By that, I mean that it will actually be something we have to manage and strive for.

With our Cobra and Steady Shots back to giving 14 focus, hunters will be using them more often. And if I forget to use Dire Beast or one of the other abilities that replenishes focus as close to on-cooldown as is appropriate, it is going to cost me DPS because I won’t be getting the benefit of said focus.

With that in mind, I think that I will begin replacing my gear right away, as soon as I start picking up new gear during leveling. Not necessarily all of it, but certainly the tier slots.

Why? you say…

Well, I’m somewhat anal-retentive when it comes to thinking about quirky things like this, and I think that I could benefit from this. In 4.3, every class got sweet set-bonus buffs, and one of ours was focus related, and the other was haste related, and that played right along with the frenetic pace of fights like Madness of Deathwing and heroic Dragon Soul content. However, people won’t be using that tier gear in end-game MoP, because they’ll sacrifice (a lot of) power for focus, which is almost certainly a loss.

Now, post-5.0, we almost get the old two-piece bonus amount (18 focus) from one Cobra/Steady (14). And the set bonus still doubles it.

I’ve run some dungeons post-patch, and the hunter is fine. But I think that I will be better off eschewing the T-13 style of play as soon as I set foot into MoP dungeons as I level, and I’d like to get accustomed to “14 focus per Cobra Shot” sooner than later. I’d rather learn as I level, rather than hit the wall when I’m close to, or at, 90 and instinctively wonder why my hunter feels doubly slow.

I think it will help me work Dire Beast into my rotation, too. I’ve been horribly sloppy with it since the patch, both in dungeons and at the dummy, and part of that is because I am usually closer to full than to empty on the focus meter, so it’s easy to forget about it. And higher levels will mean lower combat ratings, proc rates, and so on, so I’ll be able to set myself into a more reasonable rotation.

Maybe you disagree, and think I’m talking out of my butt. That’s fine. But I think replacing gear as soon as I can will make me a better MoP hunter sooner, because I won’t be playing MoP dungeons with Cataclysm’s proc-tastic / focus-tastic gear.

We’ll see how it goes.

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


Mandatory Feeds: WoW Hunters Hall

As of today (Friday, August 23), we’re four weeks and change from the release of Mists of Pandaria. While this blog has been kind of dead for the majority of the summer, I am still very excited about the expansion – particularly excited for the thought of reuniting with my raiding friends as we sink our teeth into the first tier of raids that will come along with it.

I haven’t been writing much about hunters this summer. Since my iMac went down for the count on June 26th or so, I haven’t been playing Mushan much at all. I have, however, finally gotten my new mage (mentioned in previous posts) up to 85 (as of the middle of last week) and close to max level for both Jewelcrafting and Tailoring. so I am good to go with respect to leveling those professions once MoP drops.

However, my hunter, despite the lack of attention, is still my great love, and my greatest interest in the game, come Pandaria.

As such, I must pass along, without further ado, a must-see site if you are looking for hunter info for patch 5.0.4 (August 28 pre-xpac patch) and MoP (9/25):

http://wowhuntershall.com

WoW Hunters Hall (Tabana = curator; follow her!!) has been amazing over the life of this pre-expansion period, and her collection and linking activities have really increased quite rapidly over the past couple of weeks. A lot of bloggers and theorycrafters have been putting a great deal of time into testing out hunter specs, glyphs, new abilities, gear, and stats, as well as raiding and pvping. There is a wealth of information on WHH, and Tabana has been working very hard to bring all of that and even more discussion to your eyes and mine.

And I haven’t even mentioned the work Tabana has put in when it comes to gear lists and general MoP hunter guides. She has a living, quickly-updated set of guides available, and as new info comes out that pertains to hunters, she is on it immediately, culling and presenting it to you and me and thousands of other lucky players.

She also has a great list of hunter resources, including blogs, hunter Youtube channels, podcasts, forums, theorycrafting resources, tools, and other references for just about anything you need. It’s really the mandatory hunter portal for serious hunters in World of Warcraft.

I’ve definitely benefited from following WHH. So add the site to your RSS, follow it on Twitter, do whatever it takes to make WHH a constant part of your WoW-related reading if you’re a hunter. I’ve personally been salivating over the gear list, glyph info, updates on buffs and nerfs and changes, and the thoughts of my fellow hunters as we blog and play our way into MoP and beyond.

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(new subject)

I’ve been trying to decide how I’m going to replace my iMac’s corpse, and I’m leaning toward building my own PC. I’m going to hazard a guess that this will (financially) become reality around Sept. 15th, at which point I will hopefully be re-downloading all 23GB of the stinkin’ game and getting things set up. Once I’ve accomplished that, I will absolutely be playing my hunter more, and will be able to include screenshots and what-have-you in my posts again, and all that good stuff.

I have plenty of writing material on my mind, and will be playing my hunter hard-core – and he will be the first toon that I level through MoP, of course. In addition, I’m also excited about leveling my warrior and druid tanks, and I may post about this in the coming weeks. Active mitigation is an idea that fascinates me – as do the reactions of those players who feel negatively about it.

At some point, I will think about a monk. I’d love to level a Brewmaster, but I’m afraid that doing so will make me forget about my warrior. Is that weird? It probably is. But it is what it is…

Anyway, go visit WoW Hunters Hall today. You won’t regret it!

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


Back to Naxxramas (Thaddius-10 & Sapphiron-25)

Last Saturday, I made my way back to Naxxramas with a couple of goals: Thaddius-10 and Sapphiron 25.

First, the Construct Quarter:

Thaddius, April 28, 2012

With Patchwerk basically on farm and Grobbulus a pushover, I used the Gluth bug (Snake Trap + dismiss pet + FD = no more zombies) to turn him into a high-health trash mob.  That was a first try success, as it should have been.  Gluth legit is a fight I do want to work on at some point, but I had a terrible headache on Saturday that would not quit, so I wasn’t feeling up to it.  Once he was down, I jumped right into the Thaddius fight with no real plan, other than the knowledge that I had to try to kill Feugen and Stalagg somewhat close to the same time.  I basically brute forced that part, healing through the charge damage.  Then I made the jump, set to work on Thaddius, and soon he was down for the count.

After this, I decided to try Sapphiron-25, since Sapph-10 is so easy.  Sapphiron-25 – now that was a challenge!  It was admittedly more of a challenge than it probably should have been, but my headache was raging, so it was difficult to really give it my best for multiple long attempts.  It’s a long fight; Sapphiron has more than 200% more health than the 10-player version (13M-plus compared to 4M-ish), and the 15-minute enrage timer and constant Frost Aura damage made it necessary to do around 16K DPS overall while healing and using pet cooldowns, and including the time spent entombed in frost from Ice Bolt.

Our alt-raid was scheduled to start at 9:30PM, and after taking a short break, I decided to give my final try.  Right after I started the fight, the raid began to come together, so I was whispering the raid leader during air phases, telling him that it was my last attempt and so on.  Amazingly, I managed to pull together the right combination of trinkets (I did end up using Veil of Lies), pet heals and cooldowns, tightening up Chimera Shots to get the most out of my healing, and keeping up strong enough DPS while avoiding Chill, and I got him down!  It was a pretty awesome kill, and timely, as I was able to hop to my druid right after the kill and be on time to the alt-raid.

Unfortunately, since I abandoned ship so quickly, I forgot to take a screenshot, but since it would have looked the same as the Sapph-10 kill, I wasn’t terribly concerned.

Overall, it was a productive evening in Naxx.  I’m working on putting together the Heroes Crypstalker set, so I’ll be going back often – although not necessarily every week – and gradually working on some of the harder fights.  I’m currently 10/15 in 10-player, with KT, the Military Quarter, and Maexxna still to conquer.

It’s ridiculous how achievements rack up in old raids!

Oh, yeah.  I also tried Razuvious.  I made it to the point of having the understudies killed a couple of times, died horrible deaths, and then dropped that in favor of Sapphiron.  That fight is going to really suck, so it was a good decision, I think!

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


MoP Beta Build 15640 brings some clarifications, reversions, and Tier 14 set bonuses for hunters

Via WoW Hunters Hall via MMO-Champion, we have a list of the changes to hunters in the latest beta build.  From what I can see, the picture is becoming clearer as far as how hunters will play when the expansion goes live.

One of the nice things that we’re seeing is that some of the talents that were “mandatory” in Cataclysm are finally baked into abilities where they previously weren’t.  Here’s what things look like for Marksmanship and Survival hunters in particular:

Focus cost

  • Arcane Shot’s focus cost is back down to 22 focus;
  • Black Arrow now costs 35 focus;
  • Explosive Shot now costs 44 focus;
  • Chimera Shot now costs 44 focus.

It’s great to see the changes to focus cost for these abilities.  The un-talented focus costs in MoP beta were difficult to see as anything other than “they forgot to bake those talents in” rather than as new design, so it’s nice that they’ve finally clarified that for us.

Concussive Shot

  • Concussive Shot is back.  Glyph of Arcane Shot (which gave a base Concussive Shot effect to Arcane) is gone.

There was a lot of discussion about the disappearance of Concussive Shot and the new ability to glyph it to Arcane, and most hunters were not happy about it.  This separates the two, bringing back the no-focus, no-damage, and (as far as I can tell) run speed benefits that many hunters were eulogizing in the past several weeks, and frees up a glyph spot to boot.

Other reversions of note

  • Trap Mastery now also effects Black Arrow (cutting its cooldown by six seconds).
  • Black Arrow, with Trap Mastery, has been entirely reverted to its current talented state mechanically: instant shot, damage over 20 seconds, shares a CD with fire trap spells, procs Lock and Load.
  • Explosive Trap now procs Lock and Load.
  • Serpent Spread is back.

With these changes, the great SV reversion is in full swing, and it’s for the better, in my opinion.  The SV rotation has worked brilliantly in 4.3, and these changes bring back much of the flavor, mobility, and adaptability that SV hunters love about the spec.

Key changes

  • Powershot now deals 400% weapon damage, plus 100% weapon damage to all enemies between you and the target, which are four times the previous values (100%, 25%).
  • Silencing Shot now has a 40 yard range, up from 35 yards.
  • Call Beast has been renamed. It is now Dire Beast.  The tooltip is otherwise basically the same.
  • Rapid Recuperation no longer gives additional focus to Rapid Fire.
  • Glyph of Distracting Shot now directs the target to your pet for six seconds instead of to you.
  • Glyph of No Escape no longer effects Ice Trap.

And many of our important abilities have been buffed.  Please see the collected info at WHH for the complete list and tooltips.

Sad face on the Rapid Recuperation change, although this may simply be a balance issue.  I like the Silencing Shot change – outer range increase is never a bad thing.

The change to Glyph of Distracting Shot is extremely interesting, because it allows us to customize an important situational ability.  Sometimes, you know you want to pull something away from a tank, your pet, or a teammate, and Distracting Shot is great for that.  On the other hand, the glyph gives us an additional, temporary way to direct threat away from ourselves.  Either of these can be important in the right situation.  Extreme soloing applications (like Deathbringer Saurfang) and other ping-ponging situations come to mind.

Tier 14

  • 2-piece: Your Kill Command deals $10% additional damage, your Chimera Shot deals 15% additional damage, and your Explosive Shot deals 5% additional damage.
  • 4-piece: Increases the duration of your Bestial Wrath ability by 6 sec, increases the chance for Black Arrow to trigger Lock and Load by 20%, and increases the ranged attack speed granted by Steady Focus by an additional 10%.

It’s always interesting to see the set bonuses for a new tier, and there’s no difference here.  I’ll be interested to see how this actually looks in game – at this point, tooltips show different values for spells than what they are live, and as this is beta, it’s a safer bet that things will change than that they won’t.  However, all things being relative, these look reasonable for the time being.

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


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