Gearing down for Warlords

The new Mushan?

The new Mushan?

Yes, I wrote that correctly…

In the wake of the Warlords of Draenor announcement at Blizzcon 2013, I wrote a few posts about my desire to approach the leveling process differently. One of them described my desire to self-nerf: to gear down, as opposed to “gearing up” for the expansion.

There was some discussion about the subject here at the time, and then I put it on the back burner. My preparation for Warlords over the past year – gear-wise –  has basically consisted of keeping a reserve of Timeless Isle tokens on an alt so that, at the least, I could slap that gear on and be done with it.

At the time, Quelys suggested going in with T14 gear, but I got rid of those pieces as I replaced them, for the most part (basically, I kept Fang Kung, Tao’ren, and the DMC). I was thinking I would probably just go with Timeless Isle gear, as I didn’t see myself putting too much effort into it. However, with Patch 6.0 drawing near, over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself soloing MoP heroics, painstakingly assembling a dungeon set. Of course, being the behavior-driven nerd that I am, I found myself upgrading that gear once I discovered that I was Justice-capped. This, in turn, set up a nice cycle for me, where I drove myself to get both the gear that I wanted and the JP to upgrade it.

Mushan's end of MoP dungeon set

Mushan’s end of MoP dungeon set (almost)..

^^Possibly my last screenshot of the old Mushan?

As you can see, as of today, my mission is almost complete. I’m having no luck to-date with respect to pants and helm, but I do have some time before leveling begins. And if worse comes to worse, I’m going with the Golden Lotus JP pants and the 476 PvP crafted helm. The goal is to get down to an overall ilevel of 471 (463 plus upgrades, on average), and I think I can get there with that combination if I can’t come up with those last two pieces.

Some thoughts:

  1. In this set, I’m doing roughly 60k DPS single-target (casually, un-buffed) on a raid dummy. It’s interesting how many times-over the damage multiplies from the beginning heroic dungeons to the end of the expansion. Additionally, I’m sitting at about 55% of my SoO health level.
  2. I’m unclear about how my health level will translate with the stat squish, particularly with respect to mobs on Draenor. However, I’m still confident in my ability to handle them, even though…
  3. I’m planning on leveling as Survival. While part of me wants to try leveling as Marksmanship (and that was my plan previously, because I’d love to try “one-shotting” stuff), it seems to be the new (and only) hotness as far as hunter specs go (thanks Obama Blizz). On the positive side: as gutted as it is, leveling as SV could present me with some challenges, which is something I am definitely interested in. I’m looking for an epic experience, and playing hunter with no Kill Shot and no Multi-Strike… will most likely make killing mobs more challenging, if not epic.
  4. I’m planning on carrying my raid gear with me for dungeon purposes, particularly at the lower levels. I don’t necessarily know that I will run dungeons along the way, but the possibility is definitely there. And if I do run dungeons on occasion while I level, I will not be causing my group any extra anguish brought on by my self-nerfing activities.
  5. I’m still going to level like I have in the past in new expansions with respect to buffs, enchants, gems, etc. I’ll be appropriately specced out, have consumables with me, use drums, etc. I just won’t be starting out grossly overpowered like I used to.

* * *

I mean no offense by this, but I get a chuckle whenever I read about people specifically “gearing up for WoD”… and doing so by raiding. Needing that cloak, needing that heirloom, needing that 4-piece. I fully understand the players who are looking for those items because they’re great to have, but I’ve seen many, many people who are frantically chasing after those pieces for their alts… “for Warlords.” On Twitter. Blogs. WoW Insider.

More power to them, but to me it seems unnecessary.

Think about it this way: I am very, very far from being among the best players in the world… But when I level a new toon, I don’t stop at level 80, get a bunch of raid gear, and then proceed to 85, get some more raid gear, and then proceed to the next endgame; I simply go to the new zone and start tearing it apart. All of my level-90 alts that are between ilvl 510 and 550 are very prepared, gear-wise, to romp through the opening levels of WoD before they start to get some gear… and none of them have either heirloom weapons or legendary cloaks.

It just seems like when we do that, we’re actually “over-preparing to overpower”… like we’re trying to get the biggest hammer possible in order to smash a sandwich with it.

* * *

I’m looking to stretch myself a bit as a player – perhaps for the last time in this game.

I may have mentioned this on Twitter briefly a few weeks back, but I got another promotion in September – my second in the last five months – and, where my free time was limited over the summer, it’s downright precious now. I’ll be very surprised if I raid at all in Warlords, and once I get done playing through Draenor, I don’t know that I will keep going. However, that’s a decision to be made sometime down the road.

As such, I’m looking to have an experience on Draenor. Discovery, story, taking my time and enjoying the scenery. Testing my skills as a hunter. Talking with my friends about it all, here and on Twitter, as time and energy permit. I’m looking forward to it!

* * *

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


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!


Assurance of Consequence

The idea for this post came to me several weeks ago, when I first looked through the list of hunter-eligible gear from raids on WoWDB.com. At that time, I made a list of pertinent gear – that is, gear that I have a chance to get, gear that is potentially an upgrade over my own. And I was struck by one particular piece. No, it wasn’t the heirloom weapon…

It was a trinket called Assurance of Consequence.

Assurance of Consequence

Assurance of Consequence

This trinket drops from the Sha of Pride, the final boss in the first wing of Siege of Orgrimmar. Which means it also drops in the first wing of flex, which is named Vale of Eternal Sorrows. This is also the name of the first wing of Siege of Orgrimmar, LFR edition.

The skinny

According to Perculia at WoWhead, the latest news on which abilities have reduced cooldowns is that, as of last week, all six abilities have been named for most, if not all, of the potential specs. Since I play Survival, I’ll list the abilities for that spec (to date):

Black Arrow, Camouflage, Disengage, Feign Death, Rapid Fire, Stampede.

It’s a pretty good list, although for PvE, Camouflage does very little for me. But the 35%-plus cooldown reduction of the other abilities with any and every version of this trinket (the reduction improves as the trinket’s ilevel goes up) makes it very tasty.

Of course, the effect is called Readiness

The drop

When I found out about these trinkets, I knew that I wanted to write this post… but I wanted confirmation on something first, so I put it on the back burner.

That confirmation came this week. The Siege of Orgrimmar raid release schedule was announced. The Normal, LFR, and Heroic mode release schedule is exactly the same as it was in 5.2. Click the link if you haven’t seen it yet.

The aftermath

My best hope, or dream-scenario, is that the flex version of this trinket will drop for me next week, and I will never have to set foot in LFR in hopes of getting it.

My reasonable hope is that it drops for me over the next few weeks in flex or LFR.

My reality is that I will probably be grinding out LFR and flex for the next ten weeks, praying for a drop that never comes like I did with the T14 shoulder token from Lei Shi. I fought her to the bitter end on Mushan, and never saw it. I hope it doesn’t come to that with this thing.

Thoughts

Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This trinket looks so good that it seems like a must-have for the performance improvement it potentially affords. As such, until I have one in my grimy clutches, I will be farming the crap out of it.

I didn’t want it to be this way. I wanted to avoid LFR totally on my hunter this tier, and had already made the decision not to chase tier tokens in SoO LFR. But since Blizzard made no alterations to the release schedule, and that trinket becomes a potential LFR drop only a week after the patch starts, I will at least be running LFR for that one. It’s a no-brainer.

Those skeptical of my logic may ask, what difference does it make? They release LFR on 9/17, or they release it a month or two later: either way, you don’t have to run it! Either way, if you can’t/don’t run it, you have the same gear…

I understand that logic.

But I feel a responsibility to making my team the best that it can be. And if being able to move better and do more damage faster – sooner – means I slog it in LFR against my desires, than so be it. I consider myself a leader on my team, at least on the offensive side of the ball, and as a leader, I try to be my best. And this trinket has both DPS and tactical implications that I want to be able to take advantage of as soon as possible: more Rapid Fires and Black Arrows and Stampedes mean more DPS, more Disengages mean possibly more self-healing and better movement options, more FDs mean better survival. So bringing that better Mushan to the table – to the team – is important to me.

Now, if Blizzard had decided to either hold back the release of LFR or not put potentially game-changing items in LFR, then of course I wouldn’t worry about it. But if a piece of gear can help my team, I’m generally going to chase after it every time. I would have a hard time foregoing the opportunity when it’s there. It feels different going into a 10-man team with a goal of progressing without doing your homework than it does knowing you did everything you could to prepare, in my experience.

I wish the game was a little different. But I understand the reasoning behind / arguments for why it is the way it is.

In reality, I have nothing major to complain about. While I personally would prefer that LFR be moot for my main toon for an entire tier, it’s exciting that there will be things to do again, and fun new gear to acquire. I do enjoy playing my hunter over any other toon, after all!

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!


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!


Things I’m excited about in Patch 5.3

I had a somewhat busier work week last week, so my posting took a hit. I wrote about the one thing I really enjoyed doing, which was a diversion from the norm in some ways, but there wasn’t that much else going on, so I didn’t really have much to write about.

This week, Patch 5.3 “Escalation” goes live, so I’ll now have stuff to do on my hunter – that is, non-raiding, non-Halfhill stuff – if only because I’ll have a place to spend Valor Points again. I was thinking about writing a post about that, but I didn’t feel like writing at any time yesterday.

This morning, while maintenance is percolating, I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to write about until I read the following tweet by Big Bear Butt:

Today is patch day. Not to piss on anyone’s enthusiasm, but I feel no desire to start another grind, the patch does nothing to interest me.

And then, I knew what I wanted to talk about.

Everyone is in his or her different place in this game. Doing his or her own thing. As such, excitement levels may vary.

For me, there are two key things in 5.3 that I am immediately interested in with respect to my hunter:

1. Aspect of the (Iron) Hawk will buff Attack Power by 25% instead of 15%. I’ll take an 8.69% base increase in my total Attack Power any day. Am I excited about that? HECK YEAH I’m excited about it!

2. Item level upgrades are back. 500 VP for 8 ilvls per piece. I am capped and so ready to do this now. Doing anything that rewards Valor Points has that much more meaning for my main toon again.

There are other changes. A couple of changes – Blink Strike(s) / Intimidation, more room in the stable, some pet special attack cooldown changes, etc. – mean virtually nothing to me, because they won’t affect my raiding play or my DPS. Binding Shot being gone is sort of crappy, but once again, I rarely use it. So, as far as class changes, I’m really looking forward to raiding as Survival with Mushan in 5.3.

There is a new weekly quest area in the Barrens. That’s fine. It will be nice for alts, since it means 489 gear. However, I don’t imagine it will be much of a grind for raiding mains. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not quite another Isle of Thunder or Molten Front, grind-wise. I could be wrong though.

There’s also a new part of the legendary quest line. I’ve been ‘behind’ on that thing since the beginning, and am still collecting Secrets of the Empire. From my perspective back here in Behind Land, it’s nice to see that there is more stuff to do down the line. I’m not immediately excited about it, because I’m not there yet, but I am salivating over those ilvl 600 cloaks: the stats on those babies are just mind-boggling!

There are new pets, and pet battle changes. Nice, but don’t really care. New arena and battleground: don’t really care. Mounts, shirts, heirloom changes: don’t care. New/Heroic Scenarios? I’ll probably do them at some point, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t really affect me either way.

I find the PvP stat changes interesting, but I don’t know how I feel about them. I’ve only done a few dozen BGs this xpac, so it’s not a large part of my game. I do, however, like the Battleground Roles feature. It’s been “time” for that to happen since, well, forever.

One thing I’m feeling… well, not excited about… but I guess “relieved” is a better word for it: the nerf to Pandaria leveling XP requirements. When I finally bring my herbalist pally through the last 30-some bars to 90 and get her her flight license, my journey will be so much easier. 

On the other hand, the new Loot Specialization tab for choosing which spec you want loot for in raids and LFR is going to be great to use on my druid and warrior. I’m definitely excited about that for those toons.

I love the game, but I really live for raid success on my hunter. As such, the Aspect of the Hawk change and the return of Valor upgrades have me excited about raiding with the new-and-improved Mushan. Since this is a non-raid patch, there is understandably not as much for me to be excited about as there was in 5.2 with Throne of Thunder and all of the potential new gear.

Patches like these bring, among other things, quality of life changes, story progression, class changes, more stuff, and so on. As such, they’re less exciting in general than big raid patches like 5.2. Maintenance is still happening as I write this, but I don’t foresee ‘new grind’ being a big feature of this patch. Legendary grinds were a given; stories with some grinds are a given. To me, it’s part of the package.

My girlfriend is excited about the new pets she can farm in old raids. She loves pets, pet battles, mounts, killing rares, and so on – they provide a nice ‘other side of the game’ when she’s not kicking major ass with her raid team. So for her, the patch is a bigger deal than it is for me.

What I mainly care about is that the hunter class is getting some love in the form of the Attack Power boost, and that I have a means to improve my toon in the absence of better raid drops. Because of this, I am excited about the patch.

But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary! :)

MMO-Champion has a nice roundup of Patch 5.3 info – check it out to see all the new features!

Hunters: Tabana has posted a concise summary of the 5.3 hunter changes over at WoW Hunters Hall. Check it out! And thanks, Tabana!

Thanks for reading these musings by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


My issues with Auto Shot

55,688,203 Damage; 10 mins. 7 secs; approximately 91.7K DPS

Skada: 55,688,203 Damage; 10 mins 7 secs; approximately 91.7K DPS

Last week, The Grumpy Elf wrote that he found he could do 38k DPS simply by letting his hunter Auto Shot in LFR. It’s a great post, and was highlighted on last weekend’s Group Quest podcast.

Then, Tuesday, Big Bear Butt wrote a post about how he listened to that podcast on Monday, and their discussion on Grumpy Elf’s post caught his ear, and, in short, he started thinking about how he wishes that all caster DPS specs had an auto attack. His post on the subject, which is also great, goes on to describe how having no auto attack can be problematic for his non-hunter casters – his moonkin in particular.

I definitely recommend checking out both posts, as well as the podcast.

Meanwhile, I’m writing this post, this reaction to the reaction. This is how it goes sometimes. :)

One great thing about these two posts is that they bring up a topic that has been bothering me for a long, long time, and even more lately.

I have issues with Auto Shot.

Both the concept and end results of Auto Shot bother me, and, unlike Bear, I would like to see Blizzard do away with it, or at least marginalize its impact on our overall damage.

What Auto Shot looks like today, Survival Edition

I spent 10 minutes on the dummy today, and the results looked fairly similar – proportionally – to what I would see on a typical single target boss fight (see screenshot at the top of this post).

This is with no buffs (other than my hyena) or food, and no tier gear at all – because I’m currently not using any tier gear – so there’s no 5% extra damage to Explosive Shot, or extra chance to proc LnL. This is just regular non-tier gear with normal stats.

The nice thing to see is that Explosive Shot looks like it’s doing a nice chunk of my damage. There is usually some percent deviation in all of these results, due to various elements of RNG and the fact that there is no boss fight that I simply stand in one spot for (and I’m far from perfect in raids), but usually ES will be on top. The next top four attacks are usually in the top four on bosses, also. In fact, usually I see SrS and Auto in either of the 2-3 positions (you can see they were in a dead heat here), but sometimes my pet attacks sneak in there, or Arcane Shot will sneak in there, particularly if I forget to switch my talent from TotH to Dire Beast.

Now, this is obviously not a complete sample (and it’s only one, but it’s fairly representative). There are times where Serpent Sting needs to be applied to an add or other boss, via SrS or Serpent Spread. There’s Kill Shot, of course. Sometimes there’s Explosive Trap, Multi Shot, and Improved SrS. It depends on the encounter, of course, and those things can change what a damage breakdown looks like. However, one thing seems to be constant from boss to boss, and that’s the presence of Auto Shot in my top 2-4 damaging abilities.

Now, how do I feel when I look at a table like this? Well, I can tell you right off the bat that I am usually frowning in silent frustration when I look and see that Auto Shot – something I had almost nothing to do with, other than to have something targeted and be using other abilities against it – is about 10% of my total damage, and that it’s one of my top abilities.

Think about that for a minute. It’s one of my top damaging abilities.

Is that fun? And, does that take much skill at all?

No.

In fact, it takes an undefined amount of extra skill to even shoot an Arcane Shot, because it requires pushing a button. Auto Shot is, by definition, automatic. It requires no skill; only that you have a working computer that has internet access, WoW downloaded and patched and subscribed to, a non-broken ranged weapon equipped, and the ability to engage monsters.

Why is Blizzard conceding 10% (or more) of our damage to us just for engaging the target?

Tangent

I used to play a cat, back in Lich King times. As a melee DPS, staying up on the boss’s ass was critical to maximizing damage.

I started moving away from that toon when they changed the Savage Roar damage buff to only apply to white swings in 4.0. With a subsequent nerf to bleed damage, it became clear that Blizzard wanted more cat damage to come from positioning and uptime. For a while, it became arguably better to stack Haste than Mastery or Crit, because Haste + uptime + that sweet buff to white swings equaled Nice. SR has changed since then, but the damage was done; I leveled a hunter, and that part of my life is long gone now.

Nonetheless, I’m not a big fan of the whole concept of white swings for player characters. One of the things I like about my mage is that everything I do is caused by myself or my pet. I’m not also smacking the boss. Everything is a result of pushing a button.

Anyway, back to hunters.

Button bloat

This is actually something of a misnomer, in this case. It’s actually “ability bloat.” As Frostheim has described the problem of button bloat on the Hunting Party Podcast, the WHU, and in comments elsewhere: the more abilities there are, the smaller the piece of the damage pie each ability can take up.

There’s only 100% of the pie. And there is only one pie. Here’s how I look at it (the pie is “your total damage” and the people are “your damage abilities” in this analogy):

If there are six people over for dinner, there can only be six pieces of pie if everyone has one piece and they collectively eat the whole pie.

If there are eight people over for dinner, then there can only be eight pieces of pie if everyone has one piece and they collectively eat the whole pie.

The pieces can be different sizes, of course, but the pie is gone when everyone has left for the night, and it’s likely that, if more people came to dinner than expected, some of them may not have gotten enough dessert.

What I don’t like about this is that, not only is ten percent of my damage coming from Auto Shot, but it’s also one of my stronger “abilities.” Yes, Black Arrow procs LnL, so there’s a direct damage correlation there. Yes, Dire Beast increases my focus regeneration, so I can shoot more Arcanes and less Cobras. That’s nice and all, but Auto Shot is scoring too highly for my comfort.

And there’s not really anything I can do about this. I can’t minimize the damage Auto Shot does: it’s automatic after all, and it scales with Attack Power and crit chance. Higher Haste means faster attack speed, which means more Auto Shots. One of my Auto Shots on this dummy session hit for 55k! So, while perhaps it’s true that gear levels that are insanely higher than mine could theoretically pull Arcane Shot a marginal distance ahead of Auto Shot due to higher levels of Mastery, the difference wouldn’t be enough to mean that Auto Shot has become much less significant.

Removing or drastically reducing Auto Shot

If Auto Shot takes up roughly 10% of the damage pie, and it were removed** (in, say, Patch 6.0), and classes were re-balanced to be reasonably close in damage output, then it would be like saying, “Well, Bernice doesn’t want any pie, so does anyone want to have a little more?” (Of course someone does – it’s pie, after all.) The pie is eaten, 100% of it is gone.

**or significantly marginalized…

Removing Auto Shot would mean that Blizzard would have the damage that Auto Shot currently does available to redistribute to other abilities. Perhaps a stronger average Black Arrow tick, or increased crit chance on Explosive Shot, or something to that effect. I don’t know where the best place to put it is, but I do know one thing:

It would have the potential to make some or all of the abilities do a higher percentage of the overall damage, because there would be one less ability crowding the others out in that “100% of total damage pie.” It could mean higher burst damage in situations where it’s needed. It could mean that executing the priority system better than someone else would mean more overall damage, as well as a larger gap between those who do so and those who don’t.

It could mean that Grumpy Elf doesn’t finish 10th on the damage meter on a pull in LFR just from auto-attacking and doing 38k DPS, causing him to wonder what the heck people are doing that make them perform even worse than that while he’s tabbed out… (read his post!)

I am possibly the only person who feels this way, and I could be totally wrong.

But it seems that, if there are a lot of abilities now, and if there is yet another ability added in the next expansion, something should go, and Auto Shot seems to me to be the best candidate.

Additionally, then ranged DPS would be slightly more equal, mechanically. Not perfectly equal, of course, but that one distinction / disparity would be gone (or close to gone).

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


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