Thrall’s new top knot

This past weekend, we were treated to some new models – including several beasts, ancients, pets, mounts, and some faction leaders – from the Warlords of Draenor alpha, courtesy of Datamining. One of these is a new Thrall model.

My first impression was that, in general, I liked him. Upon reflection, however, there are definitely aspects of this new model that irritate me, and cause me to have questions that will probably never be answered to my satisfaction.

Much has been made (correctly) of the male-centric-ness of this brutish new expansion that we’re awaiting. The announcement page at Battle.net has a header with seven male orc legends on it, and further down there is a “meet the big bad (or good) dudes” section, which features ten males: the seven orcs, plus Prophet Velen, Vindicator Maraad, and Khadgar. It’s like the ‘The Stone Age meets the Steroid Era in pro baseball’ expansion, with a couple of good guys thrown in. Oh, and there’s ONE (1) female Draenei paladin Champion that we don’t know much of anything about. Things are very male and barbaric and stuff, at any rate. Hopefully that imbalance will be alleviated somewhat once we get involved, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, with that in mind, here’s a picture of Thrall’s new model (via MMO-Champion):

Thrall, WoD Alpha (via MMO-C)

Thrall, WoD Alpha (MMO-C), April 2014

For comparison purposes, here’s a model from April 2011, from Blizzard’s 4.2 ‘Elemental Bonds’ preview:

Thrall model, Elemental Bonds preview, April 2011

Thrall model, ‘Elemental Bonds’ preview, April 2011

This second model is the one we saw for a good portion of Cataclysm’s life cycle. He appears in basically this form in the Elemental Bonds questline, the Hour of Twilight dungeon, Dragon Soul, his wedding to Aggra, and at the Maelstrom, striving to hold the world together.

Finally, for the sake of further comparison, here is a picture of (the old) Thrall at the Argent Tournament (screenshot taken by Jocelyn at DK Diaries):

Thrall at the Argent Tournament (via DK Diaries)

Thrall at the Argent Tournament (via DK Diaries)

In between this time and the second shot above, Thrall went to Outland and met Aggra and began his growth/ascent into less-Warchief/more-uberShaman-ness, and ended up holding the world together at the Maelstrom while we found the pieces to the pillar in Deepholm, and so on. He emerged at the beginning of Cataclysm in his new shaman garb, with upright posture and some long braids. This is the Thrall the vast majority of us have known since he ceded his position to Garrosh and went on to address the bigger, more urgent problems that Deathwing caused.

At the time, the old model was fairly impressive, although artist renderings were more impressive than his in-game model, which was a very common Orc model with unique Thrall trappings. The Thrall of the past two expansions has been more reflective of his new position in society – a hero to all in the world (rather than just Orcs/Horde) regardless of faction, a shaman of great power, the substitute Earth Warder – as well as his visibility and importance in the game.

As for this new Thrall, I can only speculate.

I can tell you one thing: I miss the long hair/braids. This new shaved-head-with-top-knot look does nothing for me. In fact, if we look at the WoD Orc faction leaders that I mentioned in the beginning, three of the seven – Kilrogg Deadeye, Ner’zhul, and Grommash Hellscream – also have top knots. This leaves me to wonder if there is some explanation for this.

Does Thrall travel to the old Draenor and decide that he wants to look more brutal? He seems to have dropped some, but not all, of his shaman garb and slapped on some, but not all, of his plate armor. Perhaps he anticipates more hand-to-hand combat, and wants to be prepared… or, perhaps he thinks he looks more intimidating this way, with plate armor, a weirdly-hemmed cloak, and his top knot.

Honestly, if that’s the case, I would have left the hair the way it was before WoD, ditched the cloak, and definitely equipped the ol’ black pauldrons, because that would have looked way more badass than this does. But if he (or someone advising him) thinks this is both more impressive-looking and more statesmanlike, then so be it. I don’t personally know any old-world Orc leaders, so I’m not sure what impresses/intimidates them.

* * *

@gloriaboboria wrote a post this weekend called Thrall – What Happened, Man? over at Corgi Island, lamenting Thrall’s descent into Human-ness. In it, she describes Thrall’s new WoD alpha model, and compares it, side-by-side, with the new Orc model and the regular human male model. (Her post is a great read, by the way – check it out!)

And she has this to say about it (with visual comparison below):

“The model is of a vaguely orc-like looking guy in a trenchcoat…robe…thing. The outfit is interesting, but now Thrall stands completely erect. Shoulders back, neck held high. The main thing that marks Thrall as an orc at this point is his green skin. He actually looks more like a human than an orc. If you don’t believe me, here’s a side-by-side image comparison of the new male orc model, Thrall’s new model, and Gilbert the improverished (. . .) human warrior.”

New Orc / New Thrall / Human comparison, via @gloriaboboria

New Orc / New Thrall / Human comparison, via @gloriaboboria

The picture illustrates how well Thrall stands apart from other Orcs, while looking more like a human (in the general male, He-Man-ish way that males tend to look in WoW anyway).

However, while @Gloriaboboria and others express dismay at the new model and its Human-ness – and while I see her/their point – I would argue two Things:

1a) The new model is structurally almost identical to the old model – the one we’ve seen for the past three years. His straight back, high neck, slender-er torso, etc., are evident all over Cataclysm in the places I mentioned in the beginning of this post, and in the picture from April 2011. It can also be seen in this rather recent video (WARNING: Siege of Orgrimmar spoilers…):

1b) As such, his “Human-ness” looks exaggerated in the new model because the old “new” model was already so human. Rather than having the Roid-lats and hulking shoulders that the common Orc model has, Thrall circa Cata and MoP has a very Human body as well. Add all that thick plate armor – sans shoulder plates – and that hulking appearance is lessened even more. Take a look at (Human) King Varian Wrynn, another faction leader and warrior (via WoWWiki):

Varian Wrynn in 5.1 (via WoWWiki)

Varian Wrynn in 5.1 (via WoWWiki)

This isn’t the best pic for this illustration, but I’m currently on break from paying for WoW, so I grabbed this one for convenience’s sake. It shows something that I’ve noticed about Varian for a while, which is that the combination of his belt and chestplate serve to somewhat smooth out the tapered-torso/huge lats/big shoulders (Varian’s huge shoulder plates notwithstanding) look that many of the male races sport in WoW. His torso also seems to stick out in the front a bit more than I think it should, but I’ve always chalked that up to the cartoony-ness of the game.

In a similar way, on top of Thrall’s established (Cata-forward) model, Blizz took away his hood, gave him a trench-cloak, slapped his plate back on him, and gave him (something of) a midlife-crisis hairstyle. Upon putting that armor on, Thrall’s silhouette evolves even closer to a cylindrical shape, and less orc-like. Here’s that new-model picture again; in particular, you can see what I mean in the image on the left:

Thrall, WoD Alpha (via MMO-C)

Thrall, WoD Alpha (via MMO-C)

(I personally think it makes him look short…)

(I also think his huge boots make him look like the Hero of Oakvale in the first Fable game… but I digress.)

So, I would argue that, other than refined textures and new armor/hair/cloak, Thrall’s basic model is actually the same as it has been for the past three years. Of the in-game models, I personally like the current in-game shaman look best.

 

* * *

I like Thrall. He’s a fairly polarizing character… and his wedding annoyed me because I was thinking “Why isn’t other, more interesting lore about Thrall in the game instead?” And also because it basically marked the beginning of the end of players interacting with Aggra, who I think could be written as a prominent, enduring, strong female character. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will see that for a while, from what I’m reading…

But despite Thrall’s many critics (and critiques), I still enjoy learning about his life experiences and seeing what he will do next in the game. That holds true for Warlords, in spite of all of the likely social justice-related mis-steps in the expansion that are bound to stick out like awkward boners. I still like Thrall. But I think his WoD alpha model looks a little stupid, and that’s in part* because Blizzard’s artists didn’t flex his figure (OR his armor) to make his wearing of plate look more proportionally appropriate. (To me, humans and Thrall and others sometimes look like they’re wearing huge shields on their bodies instead of custom-fit chest armor.) In this instance, not doing so diminishes the silhouette and the general figure of Thrall as we go forward.

But who knows? Perhaps the design will change between now and Warlords. There’s always a chance…

*And in part because of his hair. Did I mention his hair?? :P

* * *

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!


Alts: what do you do best, and where?

Second attempt on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

Second-attempt kill on Armsmaster Harlan. Yes, you read that right.

During each week, I have certain priorities that I like to complete on my main:

  • Cap Valor Points
  • Kill a Celestial and Ordos
  • Be supplied and ready to raid
  • Raid

Additionally, there are professions to take care of on a daily basis:

  • 2 Blacksmithing cooldowns
  • 2 x 2 Leatherworking cooldowns
  • 1 cooldown each for Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting
  • 2 Tailoring cooldowns
  • 7 x farms
  • Check raid/food supplies and shuffle items accordingly

Beyond that, though, my time is basically mine to use as I wish. Since the second week of 5.4, I’ve mainly used it to play my Resto druid, although my Prot warrior has gotten some love lately, and I’ve played my mage on and off. One thing I’ve noticed is that, although I’m moderately proficient with each of these toons in certain areas, there are certain places where I do well, and others that I enjoy less.

Healing

This really started to come to mind when I began taking my druid into heroic dungeons for Valor Points recently. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had healed exactly zero dungeons. I had tanked a couple of dungeons early on in the expansion with that toon, but virtually all of my healing has come in LFR. Since the druid is an alt – and therefore Valor Points are not vital – I’ve simply gotten my healing fix in LFR and left it at that.

However, I have healed a few dungeons recently. And there have been mixed results.

Don’t get me wrong – I am overgeared for these dungeons. Grossly overgeared. I’m geared enough that I can heal in wing #1 of Flex (and have done so, a little) and not do too badly. This means that when I go into a dungeon, usually one of two things happens: A) if the tank is overgeared for the dungeon, I’m bored. B) if the tank is grossly undergeared for the dungeon, or does things he/she can’t handle relative to his/her gear, that tank can still die… much to my chagrine.

In my limited experience thus far, I’ve mostly run into tanks who are fine and can handle whatever they try. However, last night I ran into a Prot paladin who had 387k health (buffed), but played like he had twice as much.

Pro tip: if you’re at the level where most of the gear that drops for your spec in heroic dungeons is still an upgrade, and you’re the tank, chain-pulling and repeatedly going out of line-of-sight of the healer is not going to be a good recipe for continued survival.

Things came to a head in this instance – which was Heroic Scarlet Halls – when we got to Armsmaster Harlan. I was still halfway up the stairs across the hallway when this tank jumped down into the pit and lost almost all of his health. I barely made it into the room before the door shut, and kept him alive, but then he was smart enough to get caught up in Blades of Light (and died). He also did this on the second pull, although the DPS managed to still kill the boss. The DPS then kicked him, and we finished the dungeon with our DK, who switched to Blood and pulled things in a more manageable fashion.

Anyway, I was frustrated with the tank, but I was also frustrated with myself, because I couldn’t keep him alive. Then again, I suppose that even great healers might have a problem with a tank in bad gear playing badly.

LFR/raiding is a different story. I think I enjoy it more. Perhaps I would feel differently if I were running dungeons with friends, but that doesn’t happen anymore in my circle of friends/guildies – if any such grouping happens, it’s usually for LFR. And whether I’m running with friends or not, I generally enjoy LFR more on my healer. LFR still sucks – don’t get me wrong – but since it’s not imperative that I finish it, and I’m doing it because I want to rather than because I have to, I can just go in and do heal-y stuff and not worry about it too much.

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Gekkan bites it in a timely fashion

Tanking

Things are pretty much totally opposite for me when it comes to tanking.

I’ve always preferred tanking dungeons to tanking raids, especially LFR. I can generally tank just fine in any situation, but I prefer dungeons because I’m in control. It doesn’t matter if there’s someone there with a legendary cloak or if everyone else’s average ilvl is 450: the dungeon will be completed if the tank is moderately skilled, around or above ilvl 500, and doesn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

As a tank, the group goes through at my pace, and I’m comfortable enough with both the dungeon and my own familiarity with Protection warriors that I can gauge how much we can pull at one time, which way we’ll go, and how to handle emergency situations on the fly.

Of course, I’m to the point where I’m tired of all of these year-old dungeons, so I’m not the dungeon-running nut that I would like to be at this point in the xpac. However, if I’m in the mood, I can do a few, snag some VP, and have a decent time along the way.

This is my preferred tanking mode. I’m just not interested in tanking enough to do so in LFR. I expect many tank-players feel the same way. If necessary, I would tank in normals or flex, but that would involve coordination with familiar players, which has its own enjoyable qualities. And at this point, I’m not needed for tanking.

Ranged vs. Melee DPS

I play a hunter. I’m pretty good at it. I enjoy the ranged aspects of playing the class. I also enjoy not having to be up close to the boss’s hit box* in order to be doing damage.

*Obviously, you have to be close to the boss to tank. But if you’re tanking correctly, the boss wants to be close to your hit box, so it’s a win-win situation.

While mages have a different toolkit than hunters, I do enjoy playing my mage, in part because it’s also ranged, so I don’t have to deviate much from my positioning habits in general as I play. With both my hunter and mage, I am proficient at both raids and dungeons. So I don’t necessarily have a preference, although I will say that I’ve usually taken my druid into LFR rather than my mage, in part because of queue times. But if I’m going with a group of friends, I’ll bring the mage along, and he’ll do fine.

Melee, on the other hand, is a different story. At this point in the game, just about the only melee I enjoy playing is as a tank. Perhaps it’s because I’m out of practice, or because I’ve only tried it on a warrior this xpac (I suck at warrior DPS, period). But in general, I’m not a fan of the limitations of melee. Perhaps it’s something I should explore more, perhaps in PvP…

Anyway, if I’m going to DPS at this point, I’m either going to DPS at range, or I’m not going to DPS at all.

“Conclusion”

Things are pretty clear for me, with regard to the alts I play the most.

DPS: I like ranged, without question; doesn’t matter where.

Healing: I’d rather be raiding, but I can heal dungeons I suppose.

Tanking: Dungeons all the way – unless I’m tanking with a friend-tank. Which rarely happens.

Here’s my question for you. What do you do best, and where?

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


Should hunters really be first in line for a 6.0 revamp?

...or should warriors top the list?

…or should warriors top the priority list?

Much has been made over the past few months about how hunters need to be seriously revamped in 6.0, and the next expansion (which is something that I am referring to with tongue in cheek as BC2). Many hunters have voiced opinions and concerns about this, ranging from The Godmother to Arth and Frost at the WHU, people on the forums and twitter, and other fine bloggers.

Among the topics: hunters have too many DPS buttons. Hunter specs are too similar to one another. Hunters aren’t top DPS, and one of their specs is at or near the bottom, but we’re “pure DPS” so that sucks. Hunters don’t bring a raid-wide cooldown. Pet issues abound. And so on. All valid issues.

The list of issues is long. Arth at WHU is working on a Hunter Community Expansion Revamp Project (HCERP), whereby the community collectively brings issues and suggestions to the developers’ attention in a mature and organized manner, which is a fantastic endeavor. And Ghostcrawler has even said that they are likely to look at revamping some classes in a manner similar to the warlock overhaul in MoP, and that hunters are possibly at the top of the list.

Now, for some people this can be scary, if you don’t see the problems, or don’t care about them and just want to play the hunter you love. For others, these issues are of vital importance, because they are issues that frustrate them about the class as it is today, both for themselves and for other players.

I’ve written about a couple of issues that I hope can be fixed, but I’m generally not contributing to the conversation at the WHU because I don’t think that I have anything original to offer; nor do I feel that I can explain things better than some of the folks who are more heavily involved in contributing. I generally just state my opinions here at Mushan, Etc. as the spirit moves me, and leave it at that. We’ll see what happens.

***

Meanwhile, outside the bubble that we hunters tend to live in, there are other classes that are hurting.

I read an interesting post on Monday by Zellviren, at Unwavering Sentinel [Edit: Zell has consolidated Unwavering Sentinel into Bastion of Defence; the link has been changed and still works], whose main is a Protection warrior. In it, he talks about how the Prot warrior has sort of fallen off the map as a preferred tank.

For those of us not in the know, there appears to be a general consensus that monks, death knights, and paladins are the tanks of choice. Druids are viable… and warriors are viable too, but druids generally have a distinct DPS advantage – which comes into play on fights with tight enrages – as well as self-healing advantages over warriors. For much of this expansion, warriors have been at the bottom of the DPS and self-heal totem poles, and the changes in 5.3 and 5.4 to warriors and tanks in general haven’t really changed the fact that warriors are still struggling.

In his post, Zell laments Ghostcrawler’s comment about Blizzard’s intentions for the hunter revamp, in light of the most recent hunter population data compiled by Cynwise. According to Cyn’s research, hunters are the most popular class in WoW. This is completely understandable, since hunters are easy to level and generally very fun to play. And on the other end, rogues and warriors have serious problems. If you’re not familiar with the problems that warriors have been having, go read the last several months of The Care And Feeding Of Warriors columns by Matt Rossi at WoW Insider. I can’t go into them all here, but he does a good job talking about all of the specs. This post in particular, which is something of a Call to Arms / plea for warriors to get out there and tank something/anything, illustrates how things have been so bad for warriors this expansion that the perception has become even worse than it should be (when people are surprised that a warrior is tanking a dungeon, things have gone too far).

And getting back to Zellviren, here’s that telling comment from his post:

“My class of six years is broken.  As most of you know, I’m always complaining about warrior design and we arrive at the Siege of Orgrimmar to find that, actually, it’s not been fixed.  Sure, the class is doing better than it was but it still suffers from endemic design problems that are going to persist into the next expansion as well.  Blizzard seem happy enough with the gutting warriors got in Mists and there was a blue Tweet saying that they intend to put most of their design iteration into making hunter specs feel more different.

“No, you read that right.  The game’s most popular class is going to get the most design time.”

Obviously, his post/comment is drenched in understandable disappointment. And I feel a lot of sympathy for his position and his feeling of resentment. This is just one person, but he is vocalizing a sentiment that has become common among warrior players. I’ve read about many warriors who have switched to tanking with DKs or monks, or paladins. While warriors have myriad issues, monk tanks are very strong, with some even calling them the best designed tank in the game, followed closely by DKs. So there is definitely a problem: warriors are frustrated with warrior tanking, while other players see them as weak, and/or inferior choices for progression tanking.

At any rate (read the post, and Cynwise’s post, and check out Rossi’s stuff, for reals), I have to wonder if Blizzard will actually make hunters a top priority for 6.0/BC2. Generally, we’re going to see lots of changes to all of the classes, but I wonder if making hunter spec-uniqueness a top priority is really the best thing for the game in general when there are some core problems with warriors (and other classes) that probably need to be fixed – for the overall good of the game – before hunters are revamped.

Hopefully, they can do it all: improve classes like warriors and rogues while also giving hunters some constructive love. But I’ll be honest and say that, while I do think hunters need some work (and I’ve written about some of the issues, as I said), I also feel like we’re in a nice, competitive place right now. Hopefully, Blizzard will get things “more right” next time, giving players more freedom to play exactly the class that they want to play while also making the improvements and changes to the game that are supposed to make the next expansion Awesome(TM).

***

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!


It’s time for a relaxing week

The last couple of weeks have been busy.

Toward the end of the first of those weeks – during which I VP-capped three toons – our guild downed both Megaera and Ji-Kun for the first time. Then last week, I capped 2 toons (and got a third to 750 VP), and we re-killed the first six bosses in ToT this past weekend.

Then, on Monday night, Squido and I jumped into a raid with our friends in a much more progressed guild to help them clear the last several bosses (they spent all week working on early heroic modes). They hadn’t killed Ji-Kun yet, so I had to off-tank that with the warrior, and Squido brought his shaman. It was fun to bring the warrior into something current.

Downing Ji-Kun

Downing Ji-Kun

Once that was over, Squido and I switched to our mains for the rest of the instance. We only had one wipe, on Iron Qon, prior to stalling out late in the evening on Lei Shen. It wasn’t a bad run for a group with four people who hadn’t really seen the fights aside from LFR, and was a lot of fun.

And this is nice to see…

Mushan's kill record at WoWProgress

Mushan’s kill record at WoWProgress

It’s not necessarily impressive, but it still feels good! :)

I didn’t get any significant loot – I rolled with all my might on Durumu for the crossbow, but no dice (all puns aside, or something…) – but that’s ok. It was just a lot of fun to a) successfully defeat those five bosses, and b) be an important part of it (meaning that I held my own on the charts and generally performed well, all things considered).

At any rate, the net result was that two busy weeks culminated with three normal-length / normal-intensity raid nights in a row, and I’m tired. As in, both my body and my mind could do without another week like that right now. So with that in mind, I’ve decided that this will be a “one-toon-capped” week.

While I’m glad that I had a geared warrior to plug into a necessary spot, I generally don’t need to work very hard to gear the warrior and the druid. They’re toons of secondary importance in the raiding sense, and it still does take a lot of time to cap them when I’m also capping the hunter.

Therefore, this week I will only cap the hunter, and I will do so at a relaxed, leisurely pace. And I may do some cooking dailies and so forth on other toons, but I will purposefully be avoiding playing them with any urgency. In the end, I think my arms – and my brain – will be grateful.

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


Pet taunts on the Isle of Thunder

With Patch 5.2, I got rid of my rarely-used PvP off-spec and set up a questing/soloing SV spec, glyphed and talented for pet healing and a little bit more utility. With the Isle of Thunder containing clusters of mobs with higher health levels, quest “bosses,” rares, solo scenarios, and so on, I felt that it would make my life a little bit easier, and it definitely has.

Pet Growl is great in MoP – very effective in situations like this. Because I’m a lazy hunter, I usually just leave Growl on. Lots of other hunters do the same thing, which makes it kind of humorous when you’re fighting a rare with two hunters on it and the pets keep taunting off one another.

However, I’ve been learning (again) that, when hunters do this in certain situations, it’s not as funny on the other side of the ball.

While the knowledge has always been there, this was really brought home to me over the past week with my warrior tank. Stage 4 opened last week, bringing more “boss” quests per day, and more rares to kill. A couple of these bosses, including Itoka, Master of the Forge, and Metal Lord Mono-han, put a lot of bad on the ground in the form of energized metal, roaming electric sparks, electrified water, and so on. These things are obviously good to get out of, and likewise, kiting the boss out of or away from them is imperative.

As a prot warrior – and hence, on the other side of the ball with regard to the relationship with tanking pets in these situations –  I’ve repeatedly been frustrated when hunters keep Growl on when it’s pretty obvious that I’m tanking the boss. It’s pretty annoying when, as a tank, you can’t kite the boss out of persistent bad because the pet is taunting him immediately after you do, every time.

With Itoka, the roaming sparks are a constant nuisance, and Metal Lord’s “Toss Energized Metal” is similar, although in his case the danger circles are static. In either case, constant re-positioning is fairly mandatory, and, as someone who enjoys tanking, I like moving the boss around to give everyone the best chance to do damage and to take a minimum of damage themselves. This is virtually impossible when the hunter either ignores this concept or is completely unaware that it’s a problem.

I do take solace from the fact that, on several occasions, hunter pets have died during these fights, and I’ve been able to resume controlling the boss’s position. But here’s the bottom line about hunter pets constantly taunting off the tank and standing stationary in bad stuff, regardless of whether hunters care about their pets dying:

IT TAKES LONGER TO KILL THE BOSS THAT WAY.

Potentially a lot longer.

When the pet has either of these bosses, and the hunter isn’t spending any time re-positioning it like a normal tank should, the original tank and any other melee DPS cannot do their normal damage to the mob. They could, theoretically – but that would involve taking boatloads of damage due to spending way too much time being hit by electrical charges of one form or another, and likely dying if they didn’t get out in time. The AoE damage on these fights is no joke; even as a decently geared tank, it’s virtually impossible to stand in one of these circles for the entire fight and survive. And even if there is no AoE around for the moment, a tank taking no damage is building up zero vengeance, so his/her damage for that time period is going to be pretty anemic.

And pets don’t have a vengeance mechanic, so there’s absolutely no “win” in pet tanking when there’s someone else there that wants to tank the boss for you.

There have been several occasions over the past week where a hunter pet has taken control of the boss, and I’ve been forced to stand outside the circle, telling the hunter to “please turn off Growl” (if the hunter is Alliance) and tossing Heroic Throw because I can’t otherwise reach the boss. I try to make it obvious, without resorting to being unpleasant, that I. can’t. do. anything. And neither can that ret pally or DK or rogue standing next to me. And the boss loses health at a much slower rate, and it’s just a huge pain in the ass, because nobody can do what they would normally be doing in that situation, other than the hunter.

So, a word to wise hunters: please keep the Growl button on your pet bar. Know when to turn it off – and if you don’t know when to turn it off, it’s any time you don’t need to be the tank on a rare or a quest “boss.” And use Glyph of Stampede, so that it turns off Growl on all of your stampeding pets as well. Because if you don’t, you’re needlessly making your own dailies – not to mention others’ – take a bit longer to complete. Which sucks, because dailies take enough time as it is. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Bad pun intended.

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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!


Patch 5.2: Looking at the new gear; being sort of ready; being sort of not ready

Disclaimer: this post is anecdotal only; there is no 5.2 gear info here, just me talking about me, which is what I do a lot on this blog.  :)

I’ve been sick with the flu this week. I felt it coming on at work last Sunday, and it’s gotten progressively worse all week. One thing that something like the flu does is make me feel weak and achy – and I don’t feel like doing anything – and so I have not written one word in service to a post for this blog in that entire time. I haven’t done much in-game since Tuesday, either. I’ve played, but I just haven’t had the energy to chain-run dungeons or LFR, or to do a ton of quests, and so on.

I did have a good night last Sunday, in spite of a splitting headache. We had almost no issues at all in clearing Mogu’shan Vaults, collectively, in a timely manner. We worked a bit on Blade Lord, and I’m hoping we can get him down the weekend after next, which is likely to be the next time we try that one out (if I’m prognosticating correctly).

At any rate, I’ve taken it slow in-game this week. I’ve gotten some heroics in on my warrior Droignon, and am 93% to VP cap on Mushan going into the weekend, which is good. And… not much else.

However, I did take time out on Tuesday and Wednesday nights to work on getting a feel for some of the upgrades available in 5.2. I parked myself at wowdb.com – which I was liking more than Wowhead’s database at that moment, because some of the gear had a corresponding boss listed right in the tooltip – and made a pretty extensive list for the hunter. It was a long list, with possible upgrades from appropriate sources (excluding heroic modes, for instance). And when the list was done, I was already tired of it, and I set it down for the time being. I plan to do some serious math*, so I can begin to set goals and plan a path for spending VP and bonus rolls.

*Frostheim wrote a Scattered Shots article, posted to WoW Insider on Thursday, discussing the top pieces of 5.2 hunter gear for each slot except for trinkets, which he apparently plans to tackle next week, since various proc rates, ICDs, etc. were released this week as well. His gear articles are always something I check out, but they are less exhaustive than I would like to see. Appropriate for WI, but I like to dig a little deeper. And I also like to see more info on in-between gear – like LFR gear – rather than “Here are the best two or three, and this one is the best of those.” Nevertheless, check out his article if you’re interested!

Wednesday night, I was feeling very achy from the flu, and, hence, didn’t feel like playing much. So I dragged out my notebook again and made a similar list for my warrior.

This list is both less extensive (I likely won’t be tanking regular Throne of Thunder, so I didn’t include that gear) and more so. We’re hoping to start a second raid team to run on Friday nights, and unless there is some personnel miracle between now and then, I will likely have to tank. So Droignon is looking like my main alt in 5.2, supplanting my mage, whose fortunes are uncertain due to the less-than-pleasant changes mages are undergoing in 5.2 on the PTR.

Since we’re looking to start raiding in a few weeks, what’s old is new again, as far as gear. I included gear from MV and HoF normal modes on the warrior gear list, since he’s never set foot into either place.

While Droignon’s been a distant third on the priority list thus far in MoP, he’s moving up. I’m trying to tank stuff for people in my guild several times a week, in order to get a little bit more accustomed to using my defensive cooldowns. And he’s almost geared enough that he should be able to enter ToT LFR soon after it opens up. I think the gear games for each toon will be pretty interesting, and I’m looking forward to both journeys.

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Also this past week, Blizzard announced that Valor Points would convert to JP when the patch went live, so I began making plans to get some use out of mine before the conversion. Then, they reversed course and said that we could carry them over, which feels like a good move.

One thing that’s interesting is how that change, along with the new gear becoming available, shapes my thinking on the Item Upgrade system, which is going away. Since the new raid/VP gear is so much higher level than the current fare, maximizing the number of upgraded pieces has become a lower priority. Other than weapons, which aren’t necessarily something that we can count on replacing right away, there don’t seem to be cut-and-dry “must-haves” in that department. It looks like, rather than upgrading any more pieces, I’ll just try to take an amount very close to the cap into 5.2 on each of my toons, and go from there.

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I have to say, I’m both ready for 5.2 and not quite ready. There’s been discussion about the fact that 5.2 is coming too soon for people who want to finish off heroic modes, or regular modes, or whatever they’re working on. With 16 raid bosses, challenge modes, and everything else that there has been to do since the launch of Mists, it does indeed seem like the extreme opposite of the 8-boss finale to Cataclysm and the ensuing months of horrible boredom…

So it sucks to feel rushed when you’re enjoying chasing your goals. Personally, I’m in a different place. My guild has finished Mogu’shan Vaults-10. We’re knocking on the door to getting Blade Lord down. We likely wouldn’t get the tier completed if the patch dropped during the third week of April, in all honesty.

Part of me wants to wash my hands of this tier – I’m chomping at the bit to see ToT, and to start downing some bosses in this awesome new place – but part of me doesn’t like leaving the job unfinished before moving on. So the result is that I’m somewhat ambivalent on the subject of “too soon?” I think Jasyla is totally right in the article that I linked above, and if I were in her position, I would feel exactly the same way she does. However, since I’m not, I’m kind of ready for a fresh start, a clean slate.

I’m looking forward to looking more closely at the gear in the coming weeks, and otherwise prepping for 5.2.

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


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