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.


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


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.


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!

Revised plans

Vale of Eternal Sorrows

Vale of Eternal Sorrows

We’re a week and change into Patch 5.4 as of this writing, and if there’s one thing that’s become quite apparent about the patch, it’s that there is no shortage of Stuff To Do.

While I went into 5.4 prepared on some fronts, I did willfully remain ignorant about certain features that were coming, including the Timeless Isle and its quests/coins/etc. and Proving Grounds (which I tried the other night when I was bored, and found to be a nice challenge). However, I did have plans that were falling into place over the course of the last three weeks, and some of those sort of went into the toilet about 90 minutes after I logged in on Tuesday night.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, with loot tables remaining uniform aside from item level (and heirloom weapons) in all formats of Siege of Orgrimmar, I felt that it was my duty to take my hunter into SoO LFR once a week, in order to try to acquire upgrade items such as Assurance of Consequence and any of the 528 weapons. While the quality of LFR started out poor and has gotten worse over the course of the expansion, I was hoping for some positive experiences, at least on Tuesdays early on in the patch.

However, I was disabused of that fantasy after a 48 minute wait to get into Vale of Eternal Sorrows on Tuesday. The group was on Norushen and had apparently lost almost all of its original members, according to what I could gather from chat. There were four stacks of Determination, which I didn’t notice until after we wiped once on said encounter (at which point, five stacks…). At that point, I decided to use a flask…

Take 2 for me – Take 6 for the group – was a success, and we managed to one-shot the Sha of Pride. But it was rough going: it was as if we were still in Throne of Thunder LFR two weeks ago, rather than something new. The truth is that Flexible Raiding seems to have further decimated the ranks of LFR raiders, making the transition from ToT LFR to SoO LFR a fairly seemless one, unfortunately.

“Maybe you just hit a bad group,” one could say. And that person could be right – and is probably correct, actually. But I’ve seen enough.

So my plans for raiding on my toons are being revised.

Mushan in LFR

On my main, Mushan, I’m going to relax and be satisfied that it’s not going to make much of a difference if I don’t get anything out of LFR this tier. Time to put that “I feel forced” feeling in the grave. I’m not going to have fun in LFR, so I’m not going to do it – Assurance of Consequence be damned.

Will that come back to bite me down the road? It’s hard to tell at this point, but given that I’ve completed the legendary and acquired my T16 two-piece bonus already, Assurance of Consequence (528) is a very minor upgrade over my normal mode trinket, and a downgrade from my Thunderforged one, so I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

Now, Haromm’s Talisman (528, Kor’kron Dark Shaman) is a definite upgrade, so I may feel a tinge of regret if I have problems scoring that one in Flex at some point…

…but then again, I might not, after all.

One of the things that I noticed when I started putting together gear lists for my hunter was that with three levels of raiding (raiding, FR, LFR), your overall Warforged Seal “spending power” is diluted if you run all three every week. So, for instance, if I’m targeting certain items like weapons, tier pieces, and trinkets, then choices have to be made as to which pieces I will take a bonus roll on. Since I plan on running Flex every week anyway, I’ll want to save my Seals for that – or for normal – rather than LFR, since I’ll definitely be looking for weapons/trinkets/tier there until I replace my ToT gear. So LFR would provide only one opportunity per boss, no matter what, since I’ve made that decision and have the FR/normal opportunities. And if LFR continues to largely be the way I experienced it on Tuesday night, it’s a drop opportunity that I’m generally willing to forego.

Alts in LFR

As I thought over all of this after my foray into LFR, it suddenly hit me that this will also affect my plans for alt play.

Originally, I was planning to regularly take my Resto druid and my mage into SoO. However, now I find myself not looking forward to taking either. This doesn’t mean I won’t; however, I no longer think I’m going to make doing so a priority. I’ve still been having fun playing both toons, the mage in particular. However, I may have to find some other avenue for them, although right now I don’t know that I have that many options that appeal. For the druid, at least, I can generally count on short queues, which, in my experience, reduce the overall stress level going into an LFR. However, I’m not going to commit to doing it regularly with either toon, like I had previously done. I just think that doing so has the potential to ruin my enjoyment of the game / those toons, and I don’t really want to do that.

So, we’ll see what happens, how much time I have, and how much desire I have to take them in at some point…


We did the first wing of Flex last weekend. It wasn’t bad – we took 13 people, and five!! of them were healers.  After wiping on a sloppy first pull of Immerseus, we ran the table up through Sha and called it a night. Many of us got some nice upgrades; I actually got three pieces, although only one of them – the tier chest – was usable.

Although we were healer-heavy, it was easy to see how Flex is different from both LFR and normal modes. I think Blizzard struck a nice balance between the three levels. To my eyes, though, Flex is going to be about the gear for people like me, and not for the challenge.

I’m not the raid leader, so I don’t know what the plan is, but I am hoping that we at least go in and try Immerseus this weekend on normal mode. I do think that there is a benefit to taking time to run Flex as a team for a few weeks, because we’re not a team that is going to out-play most raid bosses’ mechanics. The gear will help us progress, particularly for our newer and lesser-geared players who are coming from a little bit behind. That being said, however, I’m itching to raid. Last week we were missing a couple of key people, so we didn’t, but I’d prefer to be the team that killed Jin’rokh the first week of 5.3 and went 12/12N in ToT before 5.4 than to not kill bosses for a few weeks, particularly since Fallen Protectors is not supposed to be the wall that Horridon was at the beginning of the patch. We’re not world-beaters or progressive, but we are competent, and I’m itching to raid.

Then again, when am I not?  :)

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

Getting the alts settled

As Tuesday – and Patch 5.4 – approached, and arrived, I felt that I was in a pretty good position.

My hunter is always my priority, and I was looking forward to new challenges with him, as well as the legendary cloak. Aside from that, which alt might get “priority” (using that term very loosely) was up in the air. The four alts I’d been prepping for play, post-patch, were the Resto druid, Prot warrior, Blood death knight, and Frost mage. All but the druid were Valor-capped (and she was within 250 points), gear was updated as much as I was willing to update it, and so on.

Additionally, I was well-stocked with crafting materials for both personal use and for sale, and I’d especially stocked up on flasks, potions, and food for the hunter. In fact, you could say I over-stocked him. But that’s just my nature.

Anyway, with the newness of the Timeless Isle wearing off after a few hours each day, I’ve tended to find my thoughts drifting back to those alts. And, if you had asked me a month ago what I was planning to do with each of them, the answer might have been something along the lines of:

  1. Druid: SoO LFR each week, perhaps Flex. Top “priority” alt.
  2. Warrior: No idea. Be ready to tank, but if not, whatever. I can play him, or not.
  3. Death knight: Run H dungeons with him. Have fun.
  4. Mage: Take him into SoO LFR from time to time, but no priority here.

I’m not going to be tanking LFR unless my raid team goes with me and I’m tanking with a friend as my fellow tank. I just don’t care to – it’s just not something that interests me much. So things will be fairly casual with the plate toons.

The mage? Well, he’s a damage dealer, and for me, ranged damage is easy and enjoyable. However, I already do ranged damage all the time, so while the mage plays differently than the hunter, the similarities are still there.

The druid, however, is a different story. Healing requires a fairly different mindset to play, which is something that I find value in. I love my hunter, but healing gives me a different perspective on fights, even if it’s just for LFR. And it’s a new set of challenges, and one that I’ve tackled less than any other role (ranged/melee/tank) in the entirety of my WoW experience.

However, when I dusted off the mage at the very end of 5.3 for some dungeon fun, I found that I was having a ton of fun with him, and so he’s back in the rotation now. He’s quite undergeared, and if it weren’t for the fact that yesterday I bought three 522 Shado-pan Assault pieces and two 496 Shieldwall pieces for him, and made Timeless shoulders and bracers for him, he’d be far from qualifying for SoO LFR when it opens. But now he’s at 498, and even though that means LFR will be a challenge for him, I’m not terrible at playing him, so maybe we can make some magic happen…

…yeah! I went here.

I also picked up a pair of 522 legs for the druid (she’s 509 now), 522 chest and cloak for the warrior (511), and made a couple of pieces for the DK (490), so things are starting to look like they’re settled as far as being able to spend points on gear pieces for a while.

At any rate – and this could change from week to week, for all I know – my new priority seems to be:

  1. Druid. I really want to become a better healer.
  2. Mage. Oh man, I think I’m going to have fun with this toon!
  3. Warrior.
  4. Death knight.

The only thing that sucks about the druid is that her OS is Guardian, and her gear for that spec isn’t that awesome, so questing and doing things on the Timeless Isle is slow. However, that might not really be a problem, because as long as she has the ability to get her three Warforged Seals for bonus rolls every week, she might not even need to go “Timeless” all that much. Although the skinning there can be amazing if you go at the right time, and she is a skinner…

(There’s a pun in that last sentence, somewhere…)

With so much on the horizon with my main, and the busy season at work kicking into gear very soon, I don’t know what kind of time I’ll have for alts. But they’re never far from my mind, even when I’m otherwise occupied, because they represent a break from my main endeavors, which is never a bad thing.

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!

A couple of thoughts on item level

Last week, The Grumpy Elf wrote a thorough (as always) post about ilevel and how it doesn’t always translate to results, given the skill or effort of the player / the actual quality of the gear itself.

Coincidentally, this past week I got to see firsthand a couple of different examples of maxing out ilevel versus maxing out output, and it further illustrated to me, again, how the un-weighted ilevel can be deceiving.

The first came when I jumped into the second half of Mogu’shan Vaults on my druid for some healing action and ‘easy’ VP. At the time, her ilevel was sitting at 503, which is obviously a very comfortable place to be when considering how it trivializes the content I was running. I didn’t check out the other healers initially, although I did notice that one of the other druids had significantly more health than I did once the buffs were distributed.

Through the first two bosses, I noticed that I was handily at the top of the ‘current fight’ heal meter. Since a) I’m still a relatively novice healer, and b) this other druid presumably had better gear than I did, I was surprised by this. There were trash pulls where I didn’t top the meter, but I don’t generally care about trash as long as people stay alive*.

*I generally don’t care about ‘topping the heal meters’ on bosses either, other than as an acknowledgment that I’m doing some things right.

So before Will of the Emperor, I looked up this druid on the armory. He/she had an ilevel of 517, which was all I could discern before I needed to get back to healing on Emperor. Nonetheless, I was kind of baffled. I figured this druid should be crushing me on the charts.

The Will of the Emperor ended up being a tough fight. DPS was low, meaning the fight was longer. I was using my cooldowns – trink, Innervate, happy tree, etc. – as responsibly as possible, and I managed to not be in danger of bottoming out until after the third Titan Gas. At that point, Innervate was on cooldown and mana was getting low.

The reason I was low was in part because this other druid was out of mana, and had been since the second Titan Gas. I repeatedly glanced at my DBM spell CD timers and noticed that I was the only druid with Innervate on cooldown (there were three resto druids total). The healing meter showed that I was doing about 25% of the total heals, and that number was rising, as was the number of healers whose mana bars were clanking on empty. Things were getting serious. I found myself concentrating on the tanks while trying to keep a few Rejuves and Wild Growth bouncing around the raid, but time seemed to be running out. I wanted to type “DRUIDS INNERVATE YOURSELVES!” in /yell, but I didn’t feel I could risk it without a tank dropping dead. So I persevered.

We killed the boss, and in the end, I had done 28% of the healing. 517 Druid had done 14%, and everyone else fell in line  after that.

Now, again, this is not because I am some elite healer; in fact, I’m far from it (I get out-healed regularly by other druids). And I didn’t care about how I did against the priest, the paladin, or the shaman. I was interested, though, in how I did against the druids.

The third druid had very low gear. So that was that. No need to look at that any further. However, 517 interested me quite a bit.

Going back to the armory, I looked at the profile more carefully. 517 had a ton of 522 Valor gear – like, every piece you can buy. A 516 weapon. Some 502 ToT gear to fill in the gaps. At a glance, a respectable assortment.

Given the druid’s obvious mana issues, I looked at gems. Yep, Spirit in there, ok. That’s good. Correct enchants and trinkets. The druid had about as much Spirit as me.

I was still confused. Then, I looked one more time. And two things stuck out to me: a) zero tier pieces and b) ridiculous amounts of Haste.

Because I am still gearing up – I still have the LFR T14 2P (483), 476 Qin’xi trinket, 476 offhand – I’ve constructed my stats around the lowest Haste soft cap (3043 Haste). This translates to a little more than 7% Haste unbuffed.

This druid, on the other hand, had Haste maxed out. Anywhere Haste could be reforged into, Haste was reforged into. Gems were Spirit, Spirit/Haste, or Int/Haste. This druid was sitting at more than 18% Haste unbuffed, a number that I think I would have trouble reaching with my gear – if I even wanted to.

Ok, that explains some of the running out of mana. Faster expensive direct heals all over the place will eat your mana for lunch. Combine that with being lax with the Innervates and wasting heals, and that could explain spending half the fight out of mana. Additionally, having no tier equipped is probably a mistake. I have two 2p bonuses going right now, and they’re pretty damn strong. Sacrificing them for ilvl is likely only hurting this druid.

I’m far from a great healer, but I doubled the heals of a druid 14 ilvls above me on Will of the Emperor. Judging by this druid’s setup, it looked like the player was going for the absolute best ilevel that one could attain without being a raider. And if that’s your aim, you want the Valor legs, chest, gloves and Shado-pan Assault Exalted shoulders, I suppose. However, ilevel isn’t helping this person like it seems it should, although using Innervate on cooldown certainly could…

I’m not looking down at this other druid. I just found it interesting that there were such opposite disparities regarding ilvl and results. I’ll say more about that at the bottom of the post.

The second example came on my hunter this past weekend. Going into the weekend, my ilvl was 527.30 (according to WoW Progress).

On Saturday, we cleared the first six bosses – the extent of our previous raiding success. On Sunday, we worked through Durumu, one-shotted Primordius, and managed to down Dark Animus after several attempts.

The key for me was that I picked up the tier legs off Ji-kun on Saturday. This set off a late-night gear-swapping, gem swapping, reforging extravaganza as I moved from having the T15 2p (522 gloves, 502 chest) to the 4p (522 gloves and legs, 502 chest and shoulders). In the course of this, I dropped my Thunderforged legs and my 522 shoulders, which had both been upgraded, for lower ilevel tier gear, while also swapping out my necklace and cloak (which I seem to do almost every week or so, depending on what stats I need).

In the end, after picking up Durumu’s belt (Thunderforged) on Sunday, I managed to drop almost all of my excess Hit and Expertise. I picked up the 4p bonus and some gem sockets. And my SimDPS (new feature at WoW Progress) improved by about 7600 points.

And my ilvl dropped 1.17 points to 526.13. Which isn’t much – and it doesn’t really matter – but it still feels a little ‘aw shucks…’

For perspective, over the course of two days I dropped from the 15th to the 22nd ‘best geared’ hunter, by ilevel, on my server. Normally, I would be somewhat chagrined about this. But my gear is, without question, better than it was at this point last week.

Grumpy Elf’s post makes some great points about the fallacy of ilevel. Particularly interesting to me is the idea that not all pieces of the same ilevel have the same output value, and in some cases the disparity is remarkable**. This is certainly not new news, but the fact that this still exists suggests that there is still a ton of progress yet to be made regarding how much information most raiders need to research outside the game. I like math, but I’m not motivated enough to do all of the math required to figure out if getting a 4p bonus by ‘downgrading’ my ilevel on two pieces is better than going for the bigger number. I can certainly just assume that pieces with bonuses are generally better, but without looking at guides, Mr. Robot, and so on, I can’t be certain.

**Also of interest is the idea that a 522 weapon is the same ilvl as a 522 ring or neck. Obviously, the difference in true value is quite stark, particularly for DPS and healers.

I wonder if we will ever see a better in-game ranking system for gear than ilevel. My guess is that we probably won’t. And in the end, I personally have nothing against looking outside the game for information on tweaking my toon’s gear – in fact, it’s a fun component of this hobby for me. But it’s safe to say that a large number of players don’t do that, or don’t even know that they can. (Perhaps that’s the case with the druid that I described above.)

I suppose we’ll see, as changes in future expansions are unveiled…

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

Trying a different strategy on the route to the ‘Valor of the Ancients’ buff

Last week, I managed to get all three of my favorite toons Valor-capped. Not only that, but they were all capped by early Sunday.

I want to say that I don’t know how that happened, but I do. Basically, I raced to the cap on Mushan: weekly Barrens quest, heroic scenario (A Brewing Storm can bite it, by the way), some dailies, a heroic dungeon, and a section of LFR, and I had 605 points by Tuesday night. Tuesday night! Soon after that, he was capped, and my druid and warrior were also on their respective ways to the cap.

Saturday night and Sunday night, we raided. But on Monday, I was completely bored; as such, in addition to writing the bulk of three blog posts – two of which were posted on Monday and Tuesday, and the other one is slated for sometime in the not-so-near future – I took Mushan out to the Barrens again and quickly farmed up all the items needed to turn in the weekly Barrens quest for this week. Yes, I was that bored.

Then on Tuesday, I had a weird day at work that caused me to have a massive headache all night. So once again, I didn’t want to do too much. I farmed my Barrens stuff on the warrior, did Sha and Galleon on the druid with a couple of guildies, and called it an early night.

Wednesday, I woke up without a headache, thankfully. But I found myself still not interested in doing Isle of Thunder on the hunter, or waiting in long queues for LFR. I need exactly zero pieces in LFR. The only things I need from there are the Titan Runestones that drop from the final six ToT bosses (supposedly – apparently they are hard to come by, and I saw zero last week).

It’s a very different feeling from last week. For some reason, I just don’t have the energy. So I decided to take a different tack, one that I didn’t ever think I would want to take: cap on the druid first this time.

So, as of this writing, I’ve done just that. On Wednesday, a guildie and I ran three wings of ToT. I turned in my Barrens weekly that night. Thursday night, I did some quests after work, but when Squido asked me to run some LFR with his shaman, I just had to take the hunter in there, because it was likely to be the only chance I had to get relatively quick queues as a DPS. The rest of the evening was dedicated to running the final three wings of ToT with him, and that was about all that I had in me, so the druid got no more attention.

Friday, I finally capped. Some dailies in the morning, and four wings of T14 LFR at night, brought me to 1,000 VP on Anacrusa. Meanwhile, Mushan is at 597 going into the weekend.

He’ll cap – there’s no question there. No problem.

“Now, why would you do that,” you might ask?

The reason I decided to try this different tack is because we raid on weekends. With the reset on Tuesday, capping on Mushan before we raid means that I get exactly zero VP from our normal kills. This normally doesn’t bother me; I just wanted to see if I liked doing it better this way.

Additionally, since all that I need from ToT is the chance at Titan Runestones on Mushan, it seemed like a novel idea to try to be more fervent about getting gear for toons that can actually use it. It makes sense, in theory… in general…

However, now that I’m here, I don’t know if this is something I will repeat any time soon.

Granted, because of the flexible nature of my work schedule, no two weeks are exactly alike. And this week has been somewhat busy, between work and real life responsibilities. So it’s not a truly equal contrast or comparison between situations, but nevertheless, I think I actually like my usual way of going about this better than this experimental week.

There are several reasons…

1) Everything goes better with the hunter. While the queue times can be longer if I don’t go with a healer or tank, the play just flows. And questing is a breeze. I can be farming the Barrens or doing dailies while sitting in queues for heroics and LFR, and make a seamless transition whenever the queue pops.

2) In comparison, the druid, which I quest with as a guardian, is slower. There are advantages to going this route with her: as a tank, I can round up several mobs, build up a lot of vengeance, and survive while I complete quest objectives. However, given the approximately 50-ilevel difference between the hunter and the druid quest-spec gear that I have, there’s still no contest: the hunter blows stuff away with all deliberate speed; the druid plows through it slowly and methodically, like an ox.

3) Healing. Healing is great, and I have a lot of fun with it. However, it comes with its own set of stresses. I’ve already got that ‘I can’t let him die, even if he’s doing something really really stupid’ mentality that healers have, which can lead one to a point where it feels like it’s time to take a break. So while chain-queuing as a healer sounds like a great idea, it doesn’t always turn out to be the most enjoyable option.

4) Bottom line: compared to last week, I’m behind. My warrior has… zero VP. The hunter will be fine, but the warrior is not going to have the kind of Valor I want for him by the time Monday night rolls around. He’s usually the hardest for me to cap anyway, because the way I play him (prot) can get a bit slow and intense. But a week with almost nothing to show for it on that toon isn’t all that fun for me, even though it looks like this could be one of those weeks with him. We’ll have to see.

Maybe “wasting” raid VP isn’t a bad thing when I think about it this way: if I’m going to grind, I’d rather do the lion’s share of it on the hunter – raid VP be damned. Doing it my normal way makes the other toons feel 30% less grindy, which helps me enjoy them more.

As I said, this week and last week aren’t ‘apples to apples,’ but I won’t be surprised if I go back to my normal Valor Point Acquisition Strategy when next week rolls around. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t use take this road again, some other time. I’m just not going to make it my main path.

She isn’t my hunter, after all.

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

So… alts?

This past Monday, Bashiok let us all know, via a Twitter response, that 5.3 would not be dropping this (current) week.

On the surface, this was bad news for some people. People like me, who have been Valor capped on their mains and/or basically done with Isle of Thunder for a little while now, without much meaningful to do without getting into some avenue of the game that they enjoy less (like PvP, pet battles, etc., etc.).

On the other hand, there are people who feel that things are moving too fast, that there is not enough time to do everything they want, who play lots of alts and want more time for them, who want an extra week or two to hit the VP cap before Item Upgrading becomes available, etc. For these folks, it was great news.

I’m among those in the first group, with Mushan. I’ve been max-VP capped since the 3rd or 4th of May, have nothing to spend VP on, have been done with the Isle of Thunder story for a while, and so on. For me, the wait has been frustrating. I went from trying to let go of the grind to having almost nothing in the game that has real progressive meaning without killing new raid bosses. So I was disappointed when 5.3 didn’t happen this week.

So… alts?

For me, the answer is yes. And, this past weekend, I had a certain alt in mind…



Yes folks! I shook a boatload of dust off my druid last Saturday.

This is the same druid that has largely remained parked at the Stormwind Auction House selling leg enchants, or at Halfhill farming motes to make those leg enchants with.

Now why, you might ask, would I want to do such a thing?

Well, you can’t discount aesthetics, for one thing. I mean, just look at that killer transmog she has going on. It’s one of my favorites! (And it took some serious farming to put those pieces together back in the day, too!) Plus, she’s a female night elf, and they look pretty badass anyway, especially with the particular tattooing/facial structure combo that I chose for her at the character creation screen.

Plus, fire trees.

So anyway, that’s settled… it’s been a joy to get to see that gear in action this week.

Aside from aesthetic appeal, playing Anacrusa represented some very new territory for me in MoP. Thus far, I’d leveled two tanks (including this toon), two hunters, and a mage to level 90. Now, this is not necessarily one-dimensional play – I know several people who have four or five max-level DPS toons and nothing else, and that is certainly not me. With those toons, I have three of the four bases covered (yes, I finally put together a Fury spec for the warrior… and it’s NOT pretty, folks): tank, ranged DPS, melee DPS. Additionally, I have my Prot pally and Blood DK in the wings… so in some ways, that’s more of the same. It’s probably also part of the reason the DK is still waiting for me in Grizzly Hills…

Lately, though, I’ve been wanting to do something different. And I may have known that subconsciously, but it took me a while to conjure up an active realization – along with some balls* – that I wanted to do something related to healing.

*I have a rough time jumping feet-first into certain things that require some responsibility that I might fail to live up to, and it’s always been that way. Takes me some internal argument to take a new toon into PvP, for instance. To heal. To tank important stuff. It’s just my nature – I am a timid one at heart, I suppose.

For a while, I thought about my options. I could finish leveling my pally, but I don’t really feel like doing that right now (and haven’t for some time). I could level a priest or shaman, but I really don’t feel like doing that either. Same with a monk. So that left the druid.

Finally, last weekend, I dug her out of the mothballs. I put together something of a really bad PvP set, thinking to myself that I could do some BGs and get some gear. But I never made it into a BG, or at least I have yet to do so. She had over 2000 Valor stored up from doing cooking dailies over the last several months, and was well on the way to some nice reputation with certain factions, so I started working on that a little bit, with the idea that I could build up a set and step into LFR to try things out. Along the way, I made her the 496 crafted pieces, along with the 502 Reborn mace, and I bought her the 476 off-hand, the Darkmoon trinket, and the 522 Valor necklace. I made some more “Crafted Gladiator’s” pieces, and soon stepped into Mogu’shan Vaults.

Over the past seven days, I’ve gotten her ilevel up from sub-450 to 481! All but three pieces are epics as of this writing. Other than a couple of bad experiences (along with the bosses in ToES being very stingy), the T14 Raid Finder raids were fun and rewarding. I grew leaps and bounds as a healer throughout the week – which is good, because I was starting at about as close to the bottom as someone can be without not having actually healed before**.

**I’ve healed before. Not much, though, and not for quite a long time. And never in raids.

The goal, once I got into it, was to be eligible to run some ToT LFR by this weekend. As of this morning, mission accomplished. I ‘stayed Klaxxi’ consistently enough this week to get the Exalted (Shadows of the Empire) ring today, and I also hit Revered with the Kirin Tor Offensive, which enabled me to grab the cloak from their vendor. And getting a couple of Keys to the Palace of Lei Shen enabled me to stay well-stocked in coins, so I was able to roll on every relevant T14 boss and get a few nice pieces that way.

So Anacrusa is now a Resto druid, for the time being. Awesome!

I quested as Guardian, which may seem odd, except for the fact that I already had a full set of guardian gear from when I was leveling, etc. that was good enough to be daily quest-worthy. I found that I was able to pull multiple mobs at once on Isle of Thunder with little problem. It was also much more enjoyable than doing it as a boomkin would have been.

Overall, I’ve had fun with her this week. It was a very fun diversion from the norm and the tedium, and brought new life into my enjoyment of the game. Plus, it was great to get back on my old main and have fun playing her for the first time in many, many months.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the hunter, as we attempt to make some progress in ToT for reals this weekend. I do hope to get Anacrusa through a couple of wings of ToT LFR before the reset, though, because there are a couple of Shado-Pan Assault items that I’d like to purchase for her, but I need to be Friendly with them to do so. We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, I need to make sure that I can still remember how to play Mushan!

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