My alt and profession mindset for Warlords, Part 2: Changes

With little information about professions other than that “change is coming” and some other small points, I’ve stood pat with respect to my current professions, for now. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been considering some rearrangement…

However, with Celestalon’s recent tweet (H/T The Godmother) stating that primary stat gems are gone in 6.0, my thoughts on changes I will make at that point are becoming more cemented in my brain. More info will determine whether I make these changes a reality, but right now they seem fairly certain to happen.

What are they, you ask?

Well, in light of my earlier post about how I will be paring down the number of toons I level to max by almost half in WoD – and thus, paring down my profession burden – I have been thinking practically about which toons I want to rely on for mats, especially when considering that farms will not be coming with us to WoD. Even if, as The Godmother suggests, professions make no raid-valuable gear in WoD, I’ll still want max-level profs on the toons that I will be playing, for various reasons. But with the expected re-tooling coming, the way I’ve crafted for the past couple of years will change, and the ‘no primary stats on gems’ theme is a perfect example of a good reason to review what I do on which toons.

Hunter

Case in point: my hunter, who is my main and the toon that I am likely to play far more than any other in WoD, is currently a Leatherworker. I used to have that paired with Skinning, but changed it in Cataclysm for Blacksmithing and the superior 2-extra-Agi-gem bonus. While this has obviously served me well for raiding purposes, it’s been a tad inconvenient in terms of supplying my own leather. My alternatives for leather included the farm, my druid, and leveling my extra hunter – none of which is quite like supplying your own leather.

As such, I’m seriously leaning toward switching Mushan back to a LW/SK. I’m going into the xpac with a different mindset than previous ones, and I plan on immersing myself in playing this toon, rather than getting several profs off the ground ASAP, and trying to make a ton of gold at the AH, and so on. So self-sufficiency on the leather front will be nice, while I should be able to provide for myself financially otherwise. The hunter will lead the way. The rest will follow in their own time.

Druid

Speaking of the druid, I’m considering making Ana an Herbalist instead of a Skinner. She’s a Leatherworker, but since I mainly play her as a healer, it would be nice to have a profession that doesn’t rely on killing mobs in order to gather anything in significant numbers. Additionally, since I’m thinking of retiring my paladin, it would be nice to have a source of herbs.

Having two LWs would be redundant, but I have a hard time changing her main prof to, for instance, Alchemy (and hence deleting the thus completely redundant paladin), because I have years of rare and epic recipes on her that I am loathe to get rid of. The option is not entirely off the table, but it would be a very hard thing for me to pull the trigger on.

Warrior

Droignon is a Blacksmith and a Miner. He shall remain so: both professions are well-suited to a Prot warrior, regardless of any forthcoming changes.

Mage

Currently, Modhriel’s a Tailor (which he will continue to be) and a JC (which is up in the air, but which he will probably continue to be). I don’t have any plans for this one; at any rate, he’s low on the priority list).

* * *

The main point is that my hunter is likely to become a Skinner again after more than three years away from the profession. In the spirit of simplifying things and not being as hardcore and nit-picky about the game – and in the interest of complementary professions on my main toon – I like the way this feels. Assuming that Skinning still boosts Critical Strike chance in Warlords, the profession is useful in that regard, so I don’t feel that I’m giving up too much by doing so. And the interplay between the professions feels more natural to me than having the two crafting profs. And that’s how it felt the first time I ever paired the two.

* * *

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


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!


That elusive crafted belt pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…And belts for all… almost.

…and 3 of 4 leg patterns on the druid…

Hehe... britches...

Hehe… britches…

…but no Agility mail. Yet.

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

35k? Drop in the bucket.

35k? Drop in the bucket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tank belt!

Tank belt!

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

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

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

/sigh…

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

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

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

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

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


Timeless Isle: you go there, and you kill things. A lot of things.

WoWScrnShot_091313_003201

What’s happening? I’ve been “not blogging”… aka playing Patch 5.4!

Timeless Isle

It’s late at night as I start writing this, which means I’ve reached the point in the day where I’m quite tired of shooting anything and everything on the Timeless Isle.

Playing around on the Isle approximately three hours per day, I’m sitting at over 22,000 coins – and that’s without really playing smart. If I were smart, I’d be on top of rares, have completed all of the chest achievements, and so on, but I haven’t. I’m simply running around, killing stuff, and casually working on quests, Shaohao rep, and achievements, as the spirit moves me.

I’ve found this somewhat liberating, in one sense. Timeless Isle is not really a place where I am going to get any upgrades, other than from the Celestials and Ordos. Sure, the elusive Burden of Eternity can give me a 535, but from what I’m hearing, there’s a damn good chance that the stats will be “Agility-Stamina-Hit,” which, for a 535, is not an upgrade for any piece of gear that I have on my hunter. I’m not certain if this is a reasonable strategy, but since Tier slots are out for me, weapons are not an option, my cloak is Legendary, and various other pieces have tasty sockets on them, I think I’m going to use any Burdens I get to try to upgrade my Sign of the Bloodied God (Haste/Mastery ring). Any upgrade will be small if I can get something with two non-hit/expertise secondary stats, but an upgrade nonetheless. Then again, the chances of that happening are likely to be slim. (Stupid hit and expertise… for serious.)

At any rate, I’ve just been having fun romping around the new area. The real gear interest doesn’t happen until I either a) win something off one of the Timeless Isle bosses or b) start winning stuff in flex or normal Siege of Orgrimmar. Since I’m Valor-capped, I have no reason to quest otherwise. However, all of my romping has the potential to provide some sweet upgrades for my alts. Right now I’ve got all of my Timeless pieces sitting in the bags and mail of my other hunter, waiting for a time when I decide to try them out on various toons and see what I get. Since I have six other 90s, including four that I actually care at all about, gear-wise, it gives the gear-acquisition nut in me something to look forward to… even if those Timeless things are somewhat akin to playing the lottery.

Legendary Cloak

I logged in on Tuesday as soon as the servers were up. Before I knew it, I was on the Timeless Isle, and was in a raid group to start killing Celestials within seconds, literally. And those poor things went down pretty quickly – other than Niuzao, who took a couple of trips around the courtyard during the fight. Anyway, once I had the celestial achievement…

Smashing the Celestials!

Smashing the Celestials!

…I started my journey to 5000 Timeless Coins. I didn’t do it the smart way, because as much as I am usually all about getting it done NOW, I also wanted to get my bearings and the lay of the land, so I ran around and explored, killed a bunch of things (of course) for a half-hour or so, and then I made the rounds to the chests. The coins were collected in no time. After that, I finished up the cloak quest at the Seat of Knowledge in the Vale of Eternal Sorrows.

The best "storytime with Lorewalker Cho" ever!... from a personal perspective, at least.

The best “storytime with Lorewalker Cho” ever!… from a personal perspective, at least.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about it, but to me the experience was pretty thrilling. My first legendary! It was a ton of fun to be there with some of the most hardcore people on the server, taking down the Celestials as a group, and then getting my legendary. It was way more fun than just about any other part of the expansion-long questline, and it made all of the work totally worth it.

Anyway, after that, it was back to the Isle for…

Ordos

I don’t think I was in the first group on my server to kill Ordos; it was probably the third or fourth. Nevertheless, a lot of the same people from my Celestials kills were in my Ordos raid group. The extremely-brief-then-BAM!-pull instructions we got were something about stacking and get out of the raid if you get the Burning Soul debuff or something – whatever, who cares, right? We’re legendary, y’all!!! So it was chaotic, but it also wasn’t too bad. Raid instincts took over, and we all survived, and it was a fun fight.

Since this was within the first two hours of the patch, pretty much everyone in the room had a legendary, and the average ilvl had to be somewhere between 535 and 540. One thought I had at the time was, “Man, this is probably the most powerful raid group I’ve ever been in!” The DPS was insane, compared to what I’m used to…

Damage on Ordos

Damage on Ordos

…and, based on what I’m seeing here, it looks like hunters might be in an OK place.  :)

Raiding

I’m getting antsy. I want to raid. We don’t raid until the weekend each week, but I want to see new bosses. However, I’m trying to be patient.

My patience is being tested, though, on two fronts. For one thing, my girlfriend’s raid team has already killed the first three bosses, and her ilvl is up to 545. Jealoussss!!! But I can handle that – it’s the way things have always been for me this expansion. However, this is all being made worse by a hunter friend of mine, who leads one of the better raid teams on my server. He keeps whispering me updates about both his boss progress and the gear he’s getting – “got the 3rd boss to 19%, so close” – and I try to be magnanimous, but my comments have declined in quality over the past couple of nights from “awesome, good luck in there!” and “you’ll get it tonight!” to “nice. :)” He has no idea how much this is annoying me! Ah well, I just have to chuckle about it and let it go.

However, I may have to wait longer than I had originally anticipated. We have two people who declined the invite for Sat and Sun this week, including our off-tank. This highly annoys me. There’s a disconnect between my mindset – “woot, new bosses, must kill!” and the mindset that we’ll just get to it when we get to it. I’m sure that sounds dickish, but it seems logical to feel that way. However, I understand that a) people have outside commitments, and b) this is what I chose when I chose to stay on this team.

So I have to take what I can get.

Hopefully, we can find a substitute and at least smash through flex on Saturday. I’ve basically given up the idea that we could down Immerseus on normal mode this week, which is a shame, because the fight looks relatively simple, and was designed that way. I’m confident that our group could do it. We probably won’t, however. Unless something changes and we find a tank, we might not even do flex this week. Another week of sitting on my hands, raid-wise.

Sorry, I’m just annoyed. I’ll shut up about this.

Professions and the Auction House

Since I am in no hurry to – I don’t know – whatever… (see “Raiding” above), I made an effort to get all of my major crafting toons over to the Timeless Isle on Tuesday, in order to get their new recipes while picking up some coins. With two Leatherworkers, two Blacksmiths, a Tailor, and an Engineer, that meant that I had four toons over there. Fortunately – and this was grueling on my Prot Warr and Blood DK – I was able to get all of my drops on Tuesday and start on daily cooldowns. The Frost mage wasn’t bad, though: he’s at 489 now, but was blowing stuff to smithereens as usual.

Additionally, I’ve made small windows of time over the past few days to get crafted items – gems and enchants, mainly – from seven toons posted on the AH. Patch time is always a favorite for me, since I can make a huge amount of gold in a concentrated time period, and then not worry about it much thereafter. This may not be a lot for you AH pros out there, but I’ve pulled down well over 100k gold in less than 72 hours, and reached a new all-time high as far as overall gold that I have sitting amongst my toons. I’m going to keep at it over the next several days, but I accomplished my goal, which was simply to “make a boatload of gold this week.” Enchants – particularly cloak enchants, for obvious reasons – have sold briskly, but so have leg enchants, belt buckles, and gems… oh gems. Man, have I been blowing through gems!

I’m not a pro, but the nice thing about this is that I’ve been able to pad my supply of gold over a short period of time, and won’t have to worry about it much once things die down. I’ll still hit up the AH a few times per week, as usual, but I would be comfortable for a long time even if I neglected it entirely from now on.

Randomly-placed hunter thought…

After about 10 minutes on the Timeless Isle, I swapped Dire Beast in for Thrill of the Hunt. With no Tier 16 gear yet, and Arcane Shot now costing 30 focus instead of 20, I would accidentally be out of focus because of Arcane Shot spam. So I took that away and added the Beast, in order to force a shift to a more balanced use of my abilities, and it has largely worked out very well for me. Although I have to say that proccing a 50-ft-long Death Adder was startling, to say the least, every single time! They’ve since nerfed the size of the adder Beast, thankfully. Anyway, I didn’t think I would make this change while questing, but Dire Beast makes for smoother focus generation overall, which can be nice to have when fighting some of those 92 Elites.

Overall, the first three days of 5.4 have been a great deal of fun. I’m loving the Timeless Isle… my girlfriend loves it even more, because Pet Battles and Collecting Things! The legendary is awesome. Gearing alts is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m making tons of money selling crafted stuff.

It may take a while for me to get any raiding action in, but I’ll have to deal with that. Life is good. :)

I could write a heck of a lot more about the week so far, but I’m already over 1700 words. Enough is enough. Hope everyone is having fun out there!!

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!


An in-game excuse to slack off

(Writing this on Wednesday evening.)

This past week-plus has been spent not doing quite as much as I normally do over the course of a day or week in WoW, following my previously detailed realization that I am suffering burnout due to over-exposure to the Valor grind(s).

While I continue to cap my hunter, I’ve been purposely slacking on every other toon. I spent a good deal less time doing just about everything that I normally do last week, except for raiding, than I have in a long time, and that was good.

Raiding

We skipped last week’s Friday night alt raid due to some absences, which was totally fine by me. The main group finally stepped back into Terrace and cleared that for the first time, which was nice. We downed Garalon. We’re planning on finishing up HoF this Friday if we can get enough people (Easter this weekend means, for good reason, that our weekend raid is cancelled). We can clear Jin’rokh every week, basically, so that’s good, because many of us need the gear he drops. But Horridon will wait until April, which is fine.

Isle of Thunder and The Thunder Forge

This raid lockout – while still “young” – has been kind of fun, since Stage 4 of the assault on the Isle of the Thunder Throne is now open. While doing my dailies on my hunter on Tues., I finally got to see The Thunder Forge, get my quest to learn how to make Lightning Steel Ingots, and start working on building up a store of such ingots to put toward creating some cool “reborn” weapons.

For some reason, I got all excited about this – perhaps it’s because I’ve been learning recipes for gear from making Magnificence of Leather and Imperial Silk since 5.2 Day One, so it’s nice that my two Blacksmiths (hunter and warrior) can finally start doing the same. Not sure why Blizzard made Blacksmithing this way, since the weapons that can be made after 29 days look like they will cap out at 489, which is hardly current raid levels. I imagine that this might be their reasoning – which I think is flawed, since there’s really no grounds for the penalty – but even if it’s not, I don’t have the interest or energy to hunt for an official answer. At any rate, I’m happy to be able to do those “transmutes” now, since I have a couple of toons that can use weapons of that level – appreciating that, at this point, my interest in gearing up alts via Raid Finder is at something of an absolute all-time low.

Shado-pan Assault rep and 5.2 Valor gear

Last week’s announcement that Patch 5.3 will see the Item Upgrade NPCs returning from their respective vacations was one that, at the time, merely sparked my interest. The reduced costs (500 VP for an 8-ilvl increase per item) mean that upgrades will be more flexible and user-friendly – more like putting a gem in a piece of gear (although not exactly like it) and less like buying an entire new item. Easier to commit to.

That kind of thing, I find interesting, whether it’s the old model or the new one.

However, things were thrown into a different light this evening as I neared the “Honored” threshold (of my ongoing quest to gain rep with the Shado-pan Assault) on Mushan.

When the Valor gear was initially revealed, I glanced at it. Wow, nice trinket. Lot of Hit, but nice proc. Other pieces… most of them upgrades. Nice. No helm or boots… but those can be crafted at a later date. That’s good. Etc.

I bought the neck immediately, and shortly thereafter I purchased the trinket, then the ring and the bracers. Everything was good there – my Hit Rating was a little high for a short while, but it’s under control at the moment.

In the meantime, however, I’ve had some decent luck with a couple of other slots. I got the Thunderforged legs (528) on our very first Jin’rokh kill. Our third kill resulted in the shoulders (522) on a bonus roll. I’ve gotten several pieces in Raid Finder, but the only piece I’m able to use right now is the cloak (502) from Ji-Kun. Nevertheless, I’ve got some decent gear going for me right now, which is helping me stay competitive and contributing to our team.

However, the combination of gear that I’ve acquired from Valor and drops means that I’ve suddenly run into a weird wall. Because of the fact that I still have the T14 2p bonus going on (helm and gloves), and the legs I got are so good, and there’s so much hit (or blue sockets) on the gear that is available to me, I’ve reached a point where my need for Valor Points is rapidly diminishing. Having just reached SPA-honored, I’m seeing a small upgrade with the cloak, which I’ll buy on Thursday. However, the legs are a direct downgrade from my 528s, while the gloves would break my set bonus. So for the next month or so, I really do not need much in the way of VP.

This looks to continue to be the case once I hit revered. At that point, the belt is totally sweet – and will be a must-buy – but the chest is loaded with Hit, Expertise, and two blue sockets with a +120 Agility socket bonus. For real, Blizzard? Beg pardon, but… are you shitting me?? So that’s a big kick in the sack – although it’s still a minor upgrade as things stand with my gear right now, believe it or not, because of the Agility bump. I’ll have to reevaluate when I get there, but I can see myself going “no thanks” when the time comes. And at exalted, the shoulders (with a 700g cost?) are a slight downgrade from Jin’rokh’s, so I’ll probably pass on those too.

All of that to say that my need for VP is likely to diminish rapidly, and is likely to stay that way until 5.3 arrives and upgrades return. I’ll be hitting those babies hard when the opportunity to use them finally arrives.

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A side-note about all of this – and, incidentally, the title-theme of this post – is that this could possibly go a long way toward momentarily easing my demand for VP on my hunter. With no demand for Valor – and I’m talking almost no demand for several weeks – I could possibly just forego questing on that toon for a while. This would open up more time to play other toons for fun, or to simply not play them much at all. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing at this point. I’ve got a strong desire to dig into that copy of Kingdoms of Amalur that’s been staring at me for a while from the shelf.

All I have to do is make sure that I have enough VP to buy the cloak, buy the belt, and be capped for upgrading purposes when 5.3 arrives, and I will be all set. Depending on when that happens, I could conceivably have that taken care of just from raiding, which would be nice. That’s my favorite end-game thing to do on my hunter anyway.

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


Letting go of the grind(s)

Hahaha... achievements.

Ha ha ha… achievements.

Early last week, I got a call from my mom, letting me know that my grandma was not doing well, and that she and my dad were driving across the state to see her later that day.

I hadn’t seen my grandma in so long, I’d be embarrassed to admit it here. So I won’t. The tough part was that it was Tuesday, the first of five scheduled work days in a row, because my boss was on vacation (so I was taking up some of that payroll). It really stressed me out, because when my grandfather died in 2008, I had never made it up to visit him in his last years.

Fortunately, I was able to find some schedule flexibility at the end of the week, and after a short shift on Friday morning I made the 315-mile trip to see her. She was, by that time, doing better, and we had a very nice time visiting and talking, watching a baseball game together, and so on. I left mid-afternoon on Saturday, blessed by the experience, and was home in time to raid at 9:30 pm.

It was a hectic week, all told.

This, of course, affected my weekly race to the Valor cap. Or, more than one Valor cap. See, not only have I maintaining a capped-pace on my hunter every week since I hit 90, but I’ve also been trying to cap on my warrior, who tanks for our new alt run on Friday nights.

With patch 5.2 having dropped, here is a short list of the stuff I “have” to do:

  1. Isle of Thunder dailies (etc.) on the hunter, warrior, and maybe another toon each day.
  2. Run Throne of Thunder (Raid Finder) on the hunter, at least.
  3. Run heroics / RF / scenarios and/or do dailies to cap on the hunter and warrior.
  4. Saturday and Sunday night raids with the main team (hunter).
  5. Friday night alt raid with the warrior.
  6. Tillers: 5 level 90s at 16 plots per, plus a level 88 toon with four plots, that I try to hit each day.
  7. Living Steel, cloth, Sha Crystal, and Magnificence of (—) daily cooldowns.
  8. Somewhat consistent AH activity, although that doesn’t take much time.

This does not include having fun with alts – and right now, that mostly means playing my DK in Outland from time to time.

At any rate, the above list represents a lot of grind. And grind equals time spent, and grind doesn’t always mean fun. And time spent neither making real money nor having fun can become time wasted.

So last Friday, for the first time since I took a trip to visit with family last October, I completely ignored all of those grinds. I didn’t log in at all, because I had to go to work and then drive for more than five hours afterward. Part of me felt a smidgen of “but I need to make time for that before work!” while the rational side of me dismissed that notion as completely ridiculous.

Because it was completely ridiculous.

This may be a relatively alt-unfriendly expansion, but I have six toons in Pandaria in spite of that. I farm 84 plots per day. The Isle of Thunder can be a time sink when you get quests that are negatively affected by long re-spawn timers – or are just dumb quests, like “squash 150 roaches for 5 VP and the chance to kill the final quest boss if you actually do it.” Plus, the rares are fun, but I can’t always afford to let time get away from me while waiting for them to spawn.

I’ve been religiously farming those plots. Religiously doing those dailies. Religiously hitting up Raid Finder. Religiously capping on the hunter, and sometimes the warrior. It has felt like a duty that I was always going to be glad that I completed when I did, each week and with each positive raid result.

However, as I began my drive north last Friday, I had to chuckle to myself. I was free! No dailies today! No raid tonight! It’s sad to say, but it was actually nice to have that time off from raiding, even though it was just one day and I’d only raided twice before on the warrior.

Since Saturday night, when I came back, I’ve slacked off on some of that grind, and I think I will be better for it.

Despite new content with the recent patch, I have been starting to grow… I don’t know… bored? tired? of the game. This is probably a sign that I’ve been playing it too much, for too long. While the content is new, the game is basically the same, the way that I have been playing it: lots of grinds.

However, whereas I’ve usually spent days off playing WoW all day when there was nothing else pressing to do, lately I’ve been finding something else to do with some of that time. This is definitely a good thing.

But the best thing is that I am letting go of some of the grinds. I am not going to bust my butt – and test my own patience in the process – by putting my warrior through the same paces that I put my hunter through each week, just to ensure that I can get that next piece of gear as soon as possible. I’m not going to concern myself with getting that sixth toon to 90 unless I feel like it, even if it will help me gather herbs more easily with flying, and will get me the Quintessential Quintet achievement (yes, yes… I have two level 90 hunters). I’m not going to go out of my way to make sure that I have enough mats to use each cooldown, every day, without exception. I’ll still use my cooldowns when I can, but I won’t fret if they go un-used for a day or two, or three. I won’t let myself be bothered if I list auctions each and every day, because I have plenty of gold.

I’ll still play my hunter like I do, getting those dailies done and running RF and raiding and so on. And I’ll still farm my plots most days. But I need to take a break from the job that keeping a well-rounded stable of max level alts has become. I want to spend more time enjoying other aspects of the game – like leveling my DK or other toons, and working on my low-level hunter soloing project some more (sadly, he’s still 19). I also have other games I want to play, and books to read, and guitars to play, and good weather to enjoy, and spring cleaning to do, and… so on.

I’m super glad that I made the time to see my beloved grandma last week. I’m also relieved to have been forced to abandon the game and the grind for a couple of days. I think that letting go of some of the job-like aspects of MoP will allow me to enjoy the game more when I do play, and will make me happier overall.

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


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