Mushan is 3 years old today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday, Mushan!

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

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

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

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

I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

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

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

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

I’m A Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soloed: Halion (10H)

Heroic Halion (10) down!

Heroic Halion (10) down!

This past Sunday afternoon, looking to do something challenging yet fun, I decided to give Heroic Halion a shot.

I had never defeated Halion before. I only ever attempted him once toward the end of Wrath with a raid group, and it was one of those things where we’d get to Phase 3 and then start dropping like flies. And I never tried soloing him during Cataclysm, because I assumed that the whole twilight realm portal thing would reset the boss. Maybe I was right, maybe not… but at any rate, it is soloable now, as was brought to my attention by this video from Cinnamohn (props to Cinnamohn for the idea and the strategy!). Check it out for the details!

I soloed him as SV in my questing spec setup (Spirit Bond, Blink Strike, Glyphs of Mending and Misdirection). It took me five attempts to get my head in gear and not stand in the crossfire forever (facepalm!), not get hit by the Twilight Cutter, not out-threat my pet, and so on, and to get him down. Because he heals himself for a sizable chunk every five seconds in Phase 3 (from 50% health till death), the majority of the fight is spent in that phase, doing more damage to him than he can heal through. Like many soloing fights, the trick is basically to execute the mechanics of the encounter while still doing enough damage and keeping the pet alive – while also keeping threat on your pet so that you don’t have to Feign Death, which will reset the boss – and Halion certainly tests that combination of skills and awareness on Heroic mode for modest soloists like myself.

It was pretty cool to attempt and defeat a boss that I’ve never seen before on Heroic, and had never defeated before. Sometime, I’d like to attempt the 25-player version, but I don’t know if I could handle that. Perhaps on normal mode…

– – –

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

Low-level dungeon soloing: an Unconventional Leveling project

For over a year now, I’ve had the desire to level a toon unconventionally.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some iteration of this, whether it be perma-death, Ironman, or something else along those lines. However, doing a perma-death toon has never seemed to keep my interest for long. I’m not sure why, but there was a lack of focus for some reason, and so my unconventional leveling itch has remained unscratched.

However, recently I got the itch again – call it pre-5.2 doldrums, or something – and one day at work, I was inspired to start another hunter. Yes, I know… but hey, another hunter: that’s good, right?

Bresmaster Hadlun: a transmogger's delight, am I right?

Brewmaster Hadlun: a transmogger’s delight, am I right?

From that moment of inspiration came the idea of low-level dungeon soloing.

I’ve got to be honest: the rules aren’t set in stone. However, I did come up with some standards that I’m following at the moment.

– No BoA/heirlooms used during solo dungeons. Any other gear is acceptable, including dungeon sets, BoEs, quest rewards, crafted gear, Auction House items, etc.

– No pre-buffing by other players.

– Professions are in full effect!

– As are consumables!

– Any other buffs are allowed, including scrolls/elixirs, potions, profession buffs, foods, enchants, bandages, buffs from pets, racials, etc.

– Addons are allowed. I’m mainly using NeedToKnow to keep Mend Pet rolling on my tank.

– As this isn’t perma-death, there is no death penalty other than that which is already in the game.

– – –

Leveling is insanely easy at lower levels of the game. I donned the heirloom shoulders, chest and cape early on this time, because I wanted to get to the level 15 dungeons ASAP, and the levels flew by. I was in Deadmines before I knew it, and I capped XP after that run, because I was already 17. I’ve run several dungeons since then; at 17, Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, Shadowfang Keep, and Wailing Caverns – which the Dungeon Finder seems to love to put me in – are available, and I’ve been able to put together a nice set of mostly blue pieces. On Sunday, I uncapped XP until I hit 19, and that’s where I plan to stay for a short time. I’ve also done a little questing to supplement a piece here and there, and will likely continue to do so as I progress.

Hadlun (armory link) – click to enlarge:

Hadlun - Armory

Hadlun – Armory

This past Sunday, with a few lesser pieces equipped than what you see above – some of them unenchanted – I decided to tackle Deadmines by myself. I’m specced into Beast Mastery since I want the pet to have a DPS/threat ability.

It was scary, at first!

At level 19, hunters don’t have many key abilities and features that make extreme soloing so great for them. Here are some pertinent ones that are unavailable:

  • Pet: Thunderstomp
  • Glyphs, including Glyph(s) of Marked for Death, Mending, Mend Pet, Animal Bond, Revive Pet, etc.
  • Any talents other than Tier 1
  • Any real AoE
  • Misdirection
  • Deterrence
  • Feign Death
  • Any traps, other than Narrow Escape
  • Any DPS cooldowns
  • Any stuns or silences, other than Scatter Shot
  • Kill Shot, Tranq Shot, Distracting Shot, Master’s Call, Camo, Stampede

So, without all of that (and more), why even do this? Well, because it’s fun, and it’s a challenge.

As I said, I stepped into Deadmines on Sunday, at level 19, to see what I could do. I took my pet bear – the same one I had when I made the toon – as my tank.

The worst thing is definitely the trash. I made the decision early on, knowing that I didn’t have all of the power from gear that I wanted, that I would go until things just got too rough. And I did die a few times along the way, but I managed to make it to the pirate ship.

Glubtok, Helix, and Foe Reaper, the first few bosses, were actually pretty easy. Stay out of bad stuff, keep heals on the pet, shoot/KC until dead. The trash before Foe Reaper was pretty tough, as was the trash after. The trash before Admiral Ripsnarl wasn’t bad at all, because you can use the cannons to kill most of the pirates. However, Ripsnarl was where it all came apart.

I made three attempts. At my level and with my gear, I didn’t quite have the firepower… or the Stamina. Ripsnarl hits hard, meaning that it’s imperative that Mend Pet stays up. Additionally, the Vapors can become overwhelming. So I didn’t complete the dungeon, but I got quite a bit further than I thought I could.

– – –

The plan is coming together. I plan to gear up my character at certain levels and see what I can solo. It makes a nice change from what I’ve been soloing recently on Mushan, which, since I’m not that good of a player, has been Naxx-25, Onyxia-25, Sarth-10 3d, and the like.

I also have a small list of dungeons that I haven’t ever completed, like Dire Maul. I’m hoping that this will give me some incentive to finally run places like that.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this project. It’s a pure-fun challenge to take on, and I’ve always enjoyed the gear game, so the ‘no heirlooms’ rule gives me the opportunity to do that.

It’s difficult to look at the things that become available soon and not salivate. Intimidation and Go for the Throat at 20, along with Thunderstomp! The gear I can get out of Stockades and Blackfathom Deeps! Plus, I’ve rolled Engineering, so I can level that higher at 20 for better bombs and so on… but no, I’ll wait. This is why I’m doing this, after all. Starting a new toon certainly lends to an appreciation of certain abilities a bit more, particularly in a situation like this. But I’ll take my time doing it, since time is not of the essence.

I’ll check back in periodically to let you know how it’s going!

– – –

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

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

Expertise. Yeah.

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

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

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

Here is @HunterSalty’s tweet:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PING pong. ping PONG.

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

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

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

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

The error of a personal absolute

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

This is a generalization, of course.

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

We wore what dropped

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

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

If we wore what dropped, today

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

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

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

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

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

Possible required changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


As a side note…

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

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

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

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

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

“Eliminates the need to go to external sites…”

Let’s do a little Q&A…

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

– – –

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

Mandatory Feeds: WoW Hunters Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(new subject)

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

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

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

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

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Icecrown Citadel: Lord Marrowgar-10 down

Friday last week (the 15th), looking to try something new, I decided to head over to Icecrown Citadel and goof around in there for a while.

Since I leveled Mushan in the late summer / early fall of 2010, I never took him to ICC when it was current.  I did recently go back in with a guild group of about nine people (pre-Diablo III), and we cleared ICC-25 up through Sindragosa (we just didn’t have enough people to handle the whole Val’kyr situation with the Lich King).  However, that was the first and only time that Mushan had been there.

So I went in, figuring that, if nothing else, I could work on my fledgling reputation with the Ashen Verdict.

It took me about 20 minutes to clear the trash, including tripping three of the four Spirit Alarms.  It was then time to tackle Lord Marrowgar himself.

The main challenge with Marrowgar is handling the Bone Spikes.  The deal with them is that he won’t spike the person highest on the threat table.  Unfortunately, if you’re doing your job right, that person is not normally the hunter.  So the key to the fight, without question, is hitting him with Distracting Shot at the beginning of his Bone Spike cast.  The rest of the fight is typical hunter soloing stuff: staying out of AoE, keeping the pet alive, managing threat, and so on.  Bone Storm isn’t much more than an annoyance at this stage – with my gear, I just tried to minimize damage by avoiding Cold Flame and Bone Storm as much as possible.  And with Spirit Bond and the heal from Chimera Shot, he wasn’t significantly hurting me.

After eight failed attempts, during which I worked to get over my inability to taunt consistently – at the beginning of every Bone Storm cast – for five minutes without a mistake, I put together a solid streak of taunts and got the kill.  And with the lockout reset, I killed him again on Tuesday night with little trouble at all.

Boned (10-player), June 15, 2012

After that, I headed on up to see about Lady Deathwhisper…

Marrowgar-10 down, June 15, 2012

But after killing the trash, I remembered the whole Curse of Torpor thing, and figured that wasn’t going to happen.  And it didn’t.  And I thankfully didn’t screenshot it.

I know that there have probably been hundreds and hundreds of hunters who have soloed Lord Marrowgar at this point.  However, it was fun and challenging experience nonetheless!

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Sartharion-10 down on an otherwise off night

Last night, only about half of the people showed for our alt raid, so Anacrusa ended up having to sit this week.

Since there wasn’t much else on the agenda, I decided to finally bug my girlfriend to help me defeat Shadron in Obsidian Sanctum.  For those who don’t know or remember, Shadron is the one Lieutenant of Sartharion that forces you to go into the Twilight Realm to defeat his acolyte.  It’s impossible to solo Shadron – when the Twilight portal opens, you have to send someone in because he’s immune during that time –  so, because of that*, I had never tried to solo Sarth before.

*Also because, basically, I’m lazy.

However, last night she helped me with Shad, and then she left to solo Attumen the Huntsman on all of her toons before the lockout reset, and I stayed to attempt Sartharion.

Sartharion, May 14, 2012

It was very easy.

I was having an off night, and ended up flubbing all over the place – even getting hit by two firewalls because I just wasn’t paying attention – but the fight is simple, and I really overgear it, like I do with Sapphiron-10 and others like it.

After Sarth, I went back to Naxxramas to try Gluth.

The Gluth bug is not working for me.  I’m either not doing it right, or it’s been stealth-fixed.  I’d be willing to believe that it was just a result of me being stupid, except for the fact that I can’t get the Crypt Guards to despawn for me when I FD on Anub’Rekhan either, and that worked for me several weeks ago.  So I’m not sure what to think.

Anyway, I decided to give Gluth a few tries with a legit strategy, but I didn’t do very well.  Durendil calls Gluth the second-hardest boss in Naxx, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too badly.  However, I do feel badly.  I usually move pretty well in raid situations, but I was kiting like a jackass, and I just wasn’t getting much past the first Decimate on my best attempts.  So I decided to leave that alone.

Ever have a night where you feel like you completely failed at competently using skills that you normally use without any problems?  I’ve had a few of those nights recently, and this was one of them.  It’s frustrating on a certain level.  For me, letting it go for a couple of days usually does the trick.  So I guess I’ll rest a couple of days in order to clear up any residual fatigue from working on Heroic Dragon Soul last Sunday, before I attempt any raid-like activities on the hunter.

I think that – fatigue from bringing my A-game for progression attempts on Sundays – contributes to a lot of my problems on Mondays…

Anyway, on the bright side, I got the glove token from Sarth on my first try, so now I just need the chest, legs, and the complementary pieces (belt, boots), and I’ll be ready to rock the Heroes Cryptstalker look whenever I decide to do so!

I also picked this up, of course:

By the way: the names of Sartharion’s lieutenants – Vesperon, Tenebron, and Shadron – are, in my opinion, three of the cooler names in WoW.  Just had to throw that out there.


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

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

First, the Construct Quarter:

Thaddius, April 28, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus cost

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

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

Concussive Shot

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

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

Other reversions of note

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

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

Key changes

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

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

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

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

Tier 14

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

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

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