Gearing down for Warlords

The new Mushan?

The new Mushan?

Yes, I wrote that correctly…

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

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

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

Mushan's end of MoP dungeon set

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

^^Possibly my last screenshot of the old Mushan?

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

Some thoughts:

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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


My favorite raid encounters as a hunter in Mists…

All of them.

Ok, well not really – that’s just my own predilection for hunters shining through!

Today, The Grumpy Elf wrote about his three favorite raid encounters as a hunter in MoP, and Delirium followed with his top five. As I read each of those great posts, I got to thinking about some of the fights I particularly enjoyed because I was playing a hunter, even if I wasn’t in love with the fights themselves. Here then, in no particular order, are some favorite moments/mechanics:

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok

  • Disengage to the furthest shield during Force and Verve on Platform 1? Check.
  • Continue rotation uninterrupted – by casting on the move – while avoiding discs during Attenuation on Platform 2? Check.
  • Quickly change targets to burst down Converted players on Platform 3? Check
  • Combine all three on the floor in Phase 2? Good fun.
  • Jump-Disengage from platforms –> Deterrence to avoid Pheromones of Zeal damage when transitioning between platforms? Check.

T14 was a butt for my raid team. We struggled to get past certain bosses like Stone Guard, Elegon, Blade-Lord, Garalon… yeah. It was rough. But I had fun on Zor’lok.

I used to try to Disengage directly into my assigned shield during Force and Verve. The first time I did it, I called it a ‘three-pointer,’ although it was more like a hole-in-one. It’s the simple things, right? Not an amazing feat, but fun nonetheless. But while Zor’lok wasn’t necessarily a ‘use all the tools in your toolbox’-type of fight, I really appreciated being a hunter on that fight.

Lei Shi

Let’s see here… how about I start with running while casting during Get Away! ? Yeah, that was great. I enjoyed that benefit while playing my hunter, but my appreciation for cast-on-the-move grew when I took my frost mage and resto druid into ToES. What a difference.

I also got to use Wyvern Sting to CC Animated Protectors during Protect, because it was instant / more reliable than Freezing Trap.

On the other hand, one of the more annoying things was having virtually nothing to do during Hide. Watching mages and warlocks rain down ice and fire made me nostalgic for good ol’ Volley in that case. And, in general, that fight was a pain with all of the phase changes and so on, so I didn’t necessarily enjoy it. However, being a hunter certainly served me well against Lei Shi.

Thok

Thok has “hunter fight” written all over it. Both Grumpy Elf and Delirium wrote about how great that fight is for hunters, and with more detail and expertise than I could. Nonetheless, it has to be mentioned here. Casting not interrupted? Jump-Disengaging with Posthaste when Fixated, while still damaging Thok on the move? Tranq Shot if necessary on the adds? The fight is a lot of fun for hunters. I’ve only ever done the fight on one other toon – my resto druid – and it’s a complete pain in the ass. But for hunters, Thok is definitely a good time.

* * *

I could continue with my list, but most of it would just rehash the posts that inspired it. I have to agree with Grumpy Elf that Sha of Pride was great for hunters. Additionally, I absolutely love his ‘welcome’ speech:

“Come, face me. Give in to your pride. Show me your ‘Greatness’.”

So, so condescending. I love it.

So many other fights were good for hunters. Gara’jal, Tsulong, and Immerseus come to mind immediately when I think about taking out adds in something akin to a turret-style manner. There are many abilities one can use during Will of the Emperor for add-control. Disengage is handy in so many fights, from Feng to Sha of Fear, Jin’rokh to Lei Shen, and throughout SoO. I’ve used Deterrence a lot on Stone Guard, H Jin’rokh, Dark Shaman, Lei Shen, and so on; Concussive Shot on Tortos, Will, Immerseus…

It’s been great to be able to interrupt/silence, slow, root, and otherwise impede mobs in raids – while almost continuously dealing sweet, sweet damage – throughout this expansion. It’ll be interesting to see how that kind of thing pans out in Warlords with a less diverse toolbox. In the meantime, it’s fun to look back and remember how, in spite of variable class balance *cough*, Mists has been a pretty fun expansion in which to play a hunter.

Thanks to The Grumpy Elf and Delirium for the inspiration for this post, and for sparking some good memories!

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


500 Valor

Upon logging in on Friday, I was surprised to see a new buff amongst the normal ones on one of my characters: Heart of the Valorous.

This, after I logged in on Tuesday on my Resto druid and promptly spent 30,000 Timeless Coins to get my other toons (who are somewhat more “Offense-ive” or “DPS-ish” characters than my healer) the Valor of the Ancients buff.

It’s all good. It’s all good. Friday was a good fine whatever time to plop that buff down…

Seriously, though, it’s a crazy good buff. It’s even better when you add it to the Valor of the Ancients buff. The first toon that I finished the Empowering The Hourglass weekly with, Mushan, on Saturday got 500 Valor Points from it!

Here’s how that works:

Heart of the Valorous = +100% X (Normal Valor Reward 200 VP): you get twice as much Valor;

Valor of the Ancients = +50% X (Normal Valor Reward 200VP): you get 50% more than base Valor.

The (probably unnecessary) ‘equation’ looks something like this (where x = 200 VP in this case):

2x + x/2 =

500 Valor Points for turning in a quest.

It was awesome!

Think about it: it’s kind of un-frickin’-believable. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve never seen this (a potentially 500 VP turn-in) before in WoW. I remember when the Barrens weekly was active; I posted something on Twitter about how I VP-capped my hunter, which allowed me to get 300 points per turn-in on my alts; someone replied that I was a genius… (You could also do something similar with the weekly Champions of the Thunder King on Isle of Thunder for 225 points with the buff.) But this is different. This stacks, so any Valor you earn once you have both buffs is 150% more than usual.

With this buff, along with the initial use of Deeds of Valor to cap my druid on Tuesday, I managed to cap five toons this week without too much effort. I killed one raid boss with my hunter on Friday, finished single LFR wings on my mage and DK, and otherwise earned the bulk of my VP by doing the Shaohao daily (leading up to Empowering The Hourglass, of course) on Timeless Isle. With the mage and hunter, this is a piece of cake, and with the warrior and DK tanks, it’s still not much trouble. It was nice, considering the current incentive provided by the extra eight ilvl upgrade points available on 5.4 gear.

* * *

I should qualify the apparent noobishness of this post by saying that I’m reading WoW news about once every week or two. I can’t hang daily on Blizzard’s every tweet/reveal… I just can’t: I don’t have it in me to do so when there are so many months left before Warlords becomes a reality, and there isn’t even a beta yet. So when the Heart of The Valorous buff arrived in my interface, I had little more than a vague recollection of reading about it somewhere, whereas it turns out that most people I follow were expecting it with 5.4.8, or any day now…

Oh well. I guess that’s part of what comes from being willfully ignorant in the face of nothing new being playable, for all intents and purposes. It was certainly a nice surprise.

A couple of days later, I learned that this buff was temporary; apparently it ends during maintenance on June 10th. So this week is the second and final week that I will cap five toons with very little effort. Once the buff drops off, I’ll resume cherry picking which toons I want to focus on, which will likely vary since I don’t have clear outcomes in mind for any but Mushan (cap upgrades, start killing some heroic bosses when/if possible). My alts are gravy, so at that point I will probably go back to spending more time with my new hunter on the different server.

In the meantime, this week is about capping those five toons. One will be via Coins. The others will be via those two Timeless Isle quests, for the most part. I’m glad I happened to be back during the time that this was happening, since it’s like I can ‘make hay while the sun shines’ with respect to the upgrades without burning myself out again.

Hopefully.

* * *

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


Crossroads

Things have been quiet lately, here at the blog. Not apologizing for that… just acknowledging it. I know that there are people who regularly read what I have to say, and I’m grateful to you. The truth is, I’ve not said anything lately because I haven’t known how to say what I want to say… (the BBB post notwithstanding: that was a special circumstance, where distractions fell by the wayside in lieu of “I need to write this – now”).

There’s a reason that things have been quiet. There’s been something of a small cataclysm within my raid team lately, personnel-wise. It’s something that I won’t talk about in detail on the blog. The personnel changes don’t specifically pertain to me – I’m still there, with the other members of the core – but they have hit me very close to home nonetheless. And so we’ve gone from a team rolling with the changes to a team trying to rebound from some big changes.

Changes, meaning defections. Or, rather, abandonments.

By my count, we’ve lost eight people (more if I include substitutes) since we started raiding in November 2012. In business terms, we’ve had more than 80% turnover in the past year. This isn’t an entirely accurate number, since there is one tank position and 3 DPS positions that have been constant since the very first week. But if we had gone through that many people at the company I work for, it would be classified as more than 80% turnover. And it’s a lot of turnover.

Nonetheless, in World of Warcraft, on a “casual guild” level, it’s not necessarily unexpected. People come and go. It’s the nature of the game.

However, there is a personal nature to several of these departures. While Roy and Ben left of their own accord (Roy simply retired from the game; Ben left to go to dental school), I have a hard time not feeling responsible for others leaving. I can’t necessarily prove that I am responsible… but I find myself feeling guilty about them all the same, and all I can do is play on and try to contribute, in spite of all of that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that people left – and if it wasn’t one of the two above-named peeps, it was mainly because of substitution issues**, which is also a common thing around the game.

**In a conversation recently, Squid noted that most of these issues would have been moot if Flexible-Normal had rolled out with MoP instead of WoD. If that had been the case, we likely wouldn’t have lost a few of our teammates along the way.

The most recent cases of abandonment have seriously left us in the lurch. It has now been three weeks since we killed Nazgrim in 10N, and we haven’t been back. On Blizzcon weekend, we killed the first seven bosses in one night with some friendly substitutes from around the server, and had to cancel the second night due to lack of attendance. This past weekend, courtesy of Somb and his affinity for OQueue, we killed Malkorok through Siegemaster Blackfuse with 10-12 people in Flex…

…And, you know what? We had more fun than we’ve had in weeks and weeks, and weeks. We brought seven of our normal peeps – the most recent defectors had weeded themselves out. Sunday night, the seven of us joined with three friendly peeps from Uldaman-US and an extra healer, and spent a short evening learning the Siegemaster fight. And – I’ll be honest – it felt really good to get that kill. We had a good time, communicated well, learned the fight, made adjustments… and it felt like progression. And there was no drama.

I’ll confess, there were things about this past raid weekend that were awesome, and things that sucked on a personal level. We had fun and made progress – 12/14 flex, with 4 new bosses down that we’ve never seen before – but the gear thing…

Yeah… I know I’m probably alone on my team in this way, but I’ve only got two pieces as low as 540 (base ilvl) right now. So, while the Flex kills are very rewarding – and I did have fun getting them – there’s really almost no gear that I want out of Flex.

I find that I’ve got that typical “I’d like to bring my alt” feeling creeping in from time to time when it comes to Flex. I certainly don’t make it an issue, because I can help the team most, 99.99% of the time, by bringing my hunter. But there is still a nagging feeling that I’m overgearing it… and so I think, “hey, I could bring my resto druid; she could use the gear, but is already geared enough to contribute…” which is something that is, at this point, somewhat hard-wired into our brains as raiders, as the carrot on the stick that makes raiding that much more special on a personal-character level.

Of course, that’s all silly: my favorite toon is Mushan, and I love playing him, and my team probably needs him more than it needs the druid. And I had no problems playing him in Flex. I’m just saying there’s that itch to bring the druid…

(anyway…)

(OK, it’s gone… for now…)

Ultimately, killing those four new bosses was progression for us. It was fun and rewarding on an achievement level. But the fact remains that there are relationships that have been harmed as a result of recent events – and that sucks.

And that’s why it’s been quiet here lately. While I can speak in generalities and evasively, as I have in this post, I have otherwise not really known what to say. And the “has affected me personally” thing has really affected me enormously, to the point where I’ve been considering taking an indefinite sabbatical from the game itself. Any thought of blogging about WoW has been out-shined by all of these raid-related things that have affected me so. And so, while I’ve come to WordPress with fully-completed posts over the past week or so (twice, before this one) where I address Warlords of Draenor, I haven’t been able to polish and publish them. Every time I’ve tried to do so, I’ve found myself attempting to instead avoid despair and inner conflict regarding the subject (which drives me away from the keyboard and to some other activity, for my own emotional well-being), as well as trying to avoid saying something that I could regret later. And those feelings are not going to magically go away for a while yet.

At any rate, I’ve pulled into my shell a little bit, lately. I’m leveling a new hunter. I’d like to talk more about him later. I’m raiding whatever my friends can raid. But I don’t know what the future holds, beyond the start of the next xpac. At this point, I’m taking it little bit by little bit, enjoying the company of my friends and doing other things as the spirit moves me.

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


Patch 5.4: Over before it arrived?

With Blizzcon drawing nigh, there is a lot of excitement and buzz about the unveiling of a new expansion to come. And with the announcement that the new MOBA – formerly Blizzard All-Stars – will be called Heroes of the Storm, which was trademarked in September, there are no actual titles out there…

…taunting us with their “I’ve been trademarked, so I could be the title, but nothing’s official” statuses at this point.

I’m personally having a hard time getting excited about all the speculation. In fact, I’m fighting this feeling inside – the feeling that the current expansion is already done. And I’ve been fighting it for a couple of months now.

Don’t get me wrong: I do certainly think about the next expansion. I’ve variously referred to it as “BC2,” “6.0.Whatever,” and “World of Warcraft: 100” in previous posts that have touched on a smattering of topics that relate to what’s coming in the future. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels like Patch 5.4 came out and was “over with” in a week.

  • August: Blizzcon buzz starts to really pick up steam, along with “when is 5.4 coming?”
  • September 10: Patch 5.4 released. Lots of commentary over the next week or so about Siege of Orgrimmar, Flex, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle, Timeless Isle…
  • September 17: LFR wing 1 and Heroic SoO released. The race to world first becomes almost secondary to the rapidly-ongoing transition from Timeless Isle and LFR to the next expansion amongst the community.
  • As weeks pass, most of what I read becomes about the next expansion. I’ve never seen a major raid patch swept under the rug as fast as this one…

Obviously, this is just a general impression, not hard numbers. Nonetheless, it’s the impression I’ve gotten.

This contrasts to where I am in-game. In Siege of Orgrimmar, we’re 8/14 and making our typical “march to the end-boss” – and we’ve still only done the first eight bosses in Flex. And so on. At any rate, there’s a lot more raiding to be done before we complete the tier/expansion.

So for me, the story is still going on. We’re going at our own pace. And since we’re less than two months into the patch, it feels like we’re in a fairly normal place.

But it seems like all of that is moot in the big picture. More than with Dragon Soul, and even more than that compared with Icecrown Citadel, it seems like this particular “final raid patch” has happened under the cloud of future content.

I’m not criticizing the community, by the way. Rather, I think that this probably stems from two basic circumstances:

1) The calendar vs. the game. Blizzard released 5.4 two months before Blizzcon – the first Blizzcon in two years, by the way – and the several months before Blizzcon are usually abuzz with speculation about what they’re going to announce, quite understandably. As a result, Blizzard has somewhat drowned their own content by releasing it under the cloud of anticipation about the announcement of more new content – content, by the way, that more people are interested in than what is happening in the game right now.

This is a consequence of pushing content out at this pace after taking forever to release patches/expansions in the past. This year, the calendar has lined up unfavorably for Patch 5.4.

2) More than ever, it seems that people are looking to the next expansion as something of a “make or break” expansion. Fairly or not, since MoP continues the downward trend in subscription numbers since Wrath and has had it’s share of problems, people are looking to the new xpac to cure those ills. If too many problem-aspects of the current game remain, people will leave. If the theme and/or story and/or raids aren’t awesome, people will be disappointed.

There are legitimate problems with the game, and many players are anxious to see how Blizzard is going to fix them. And to look at it from another view, people love the game and are simply excited to see where the story will take them. I am definitely in both of those camps.

Speculation is a natural part of this whole experience, and I am no exception. As I said, this post is not intended as any type of criticism of current community discussion. Speculate on! I know I will, to some extent. However, I can’t help feeling like 5.4 was over before it started – like Mists of Pandaria is already over, already on the back burner in the minds of many – and that feels like a shame to me. Perhaps it’s just the calendar/release schedule, or perhaps it speaks to the flaws in the game and things like the Timeless Isle, but this feels different than it felt in the past for me.

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


Raiding update: 13 months in

Iron Juggernaut goes down in a plume of oily smoke.

Iron Juggernaut goes down in a plume of oily smoke.

This is a late update, but as of last Sunday (October 20th), we’re now 6/14 in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Last week, we aborted our normal “Saturday Night Flex” run when someone dropped after one wing and we found ourselves with just our core 10-person group. The suggestion was made to burn through the first four bosses in order to finally spend some quality time on, and get past, Galakras. Said suggestion was readily agreed upon, and said mission was duly executed that evening.

Sunday night, we managed to kill Galakras, and then Iron Juggernaut died as well. After a prolonged delay – when one of our healers went afk and never returned – we then spent some time checking out the Kor’kron Dark Shaman encounter. I think it’s not going to take us a whole lot of work to get that fight. Having ten people will help…

I like Siege of Orgrimmar. I feel we could be further along, but I’m happy that we’re not stuck. It’s not my favorite raid ever, but it seems to be going well.

Outside of raiding, the game has slowed down quite a bit for me. This is mainly, I think, due to the fact that a few of my friends only play on raid nights / weekends, along with other factors such as the ‘lack of new dungeons’ thing and other issues that I have with Mist of Pandaria’s end-game. Also, the expansion has been out for 13 months as of today, and I’ve put a lot of time into it.* So there’s that.

*See: my last year’s worth of posts.

While I don’t decide what we do on raid nights, I’m hoping we can take a week off from Flex and work on maybe getting seven bosses down this week, so we can start working on Nazgrim. This will depend, of course, on who shows up and other factors, but we shall see…

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


I came home from vacation for this…

I went to visit with family last week, so I didn’t play WoW until the weekend. It was a happy break away from the game, the news, and the community; time was, instead, spent enjoying great food, ridiculously good weather, several walks around my old hometown, meeting a future family member, helping my father out with some home maintenance, and having lots of good conversation.

As such, the blog has been quiet, as has my Twitter account. It was a nice little vacation.

As of the weekend, I was back at work, and back to my favorite thing, which is raiding with my friends. Of course, the fun was somewhat diminished by my best friend spending a combined two hours over the course of post-raid-time Sat. and Sun. bitching about a drop that was lost to another player on a roll…

We use the /roll system. That’s it. Whoever wins the roll and qualifies for the item wins the item. Exceptions to this are very rarely made. And since we’re supposed to be mature adults, sometimes we see a player pass on an item because they just won something else. For instance, we killed Sha of Pride last night, and both the 2H sword and the Protector chest token dropped; Somb won the sword, and then passed on the token “until next time, since I won the sword,” because that’s the kind of guy he is. I won the token; which is amazing, because, since we have two shaman, two warriors, a hunter, and a monk, I was rolling against four other people. Anyway, examples of deference such as this are common, but aren’t mandatory, and it’s been this way for years with this group.

When someone gets as pissed off about the perceived unfairness of the system as this person did, I get annoyed. Last night (and the night before), I was embarrassed. I tried to insert some soothing words into the conversation – followed by some less-than-soothing words – but it was like trying to stop a rapidly oncoming train by stepping on the track: useless.

So now this person is talking about leaving. It may be bluster, or it may be real – it’s hard for me to tell right now. But in my mind, under this system, if anyone has such a massive fit over loot and the “selfishness” of others, to the point where that player’s own selfishness is bringing down the enjoyment of just about everyone* else involved, that person can fuck off.

*The sad part of all of this is that the person who won the item was, and, I believe, still is, oblivious to any drama… never mind, check that; this person didn’t need to know. I’m glad they don’t know. They are better off not knowing, feeling angry or guilty or resentful, or anything like that. The whole point of me saying this was that this kind of drama sucks.

Those who know what I’m talking about may be surprised by my saying this, but I hate having my enjoyment of the game ruined by people being assholes, regardless of whether I’m friends with that person.

In my experience, you lose a roll now and then. Sometimes, it really stings. So, what do you do? You bring your m***** f****** A-game. You prove – constantly and emphatically – that, in spite of your perceived slight on the loot-side of the game lately, you’re still the best. I’ve done this many, many times.

I remember doing this in Firelands, when the other hunter “put dibs” on the ridiculously good cloak from Rhyolith. I made a deal with him when he did that: fine, you take the cloak the first time it drops, but I get the bow from Ragnaros the first time it drops. He accepted my offer (for some reason). Sure enough, the cloak soon dropped, and I really wanted it, but I passed, because we had a deal and because I was looking long-term. In the meantime, one week when he was out, another hunter filled in, and of course the boots dropped off Baleroc, and the substitute hunter won them… and I burned inside! But I let it go rather than making a scene – because gear isn’t worth being a dick to your friends and causing drama – and focused the fire from that low roll on proving that I was still the force to be reckoned with.

And eventually, I got my bow. And my cloak. And my boots.

If topping the meters is part of the game that you get enjoyment from, make your own enjoyment. Top the meters. Find a way. Find a tactic or a strength that you didn’t realize was there, and use it to make up that perceived shortcoming. Most of us raiding at my level aren’t playing perfectly anyway, so if the gear isn’t forthcoming, use it as an opportunity to up your game.

At least, that has been my mindset, and it has caused me to become a better player. And becoming a better player can make as much of a difference as – or more than – a piece of gear.

***

Due to various circumstances – mainly time and personnel circumstances – we are still 4/14 normal // 8/14 Flex for the tier. Which is fine, I guess. I’ve been fortunate with gear drops so far: 2-piece bonus, both Haromm’s and Assurance trinkets from Flex, and the normal-mode crossbow from Protectors. I’m still one of the top 25 geared hunters on the server, and I’m having good fun playing my hunter.

With the set bonus and trinkets, I’m basically sticking with Thrill of the Hunt for the time being. I still don’t like the spam-happy playstyle it tends to engender in players like me, but then again I do need me some Rapid Fire uptime, so I’m not complaining!

Now, if only I could learn that damn belt recipe from my LW cooldowns…

This week, I am determined that there will be more than one post. Hopefully, I can come through on that!

***

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


Firing Rapidly with Assurance of Consequence and the Tier 16 2-piece bonus

General Nazgrim

General Nazgrim

On Saturday night, we took a team of eleven players into Siege of Orgrimmar Flex, and managed to clear the first eight bosses (all that were available to-date) in about three hours. That represented four new Flex kills, a nice improvement over the previous week’s work.

Due to some luck with rolls and drops in the first couple of weeks of the patch, I had decided that my bonus rolls this week would be as follows: the crossbow from Protectors-normal, Haromm’s trinket off the Dark Shaman in Flex, and… a roll to be determined later, depending on how much progress we made in normal modes.

With that in mind, I contentedly declined bonus rolls last night – all the way up until the Dark Shaman encounter – but to my surprise, I won the Assurance of Consequence trinket from the Sha of Pride. A quick trip to Ask Mr. Robot confirmed that it was indeed a significant upgrade over the normal Bad Juju, so I popped it in, no reforging necessary.

After the Galakras fight, where I was on the tower team, I started leading the damage meter by a significant margin, to the point where I was asked by my girlfriend – who was playing Elemental last night – if I had gotten a new weapon…

See, normally, if she’s healing, I’m on top of the meters, but when she’s DPS, she can smoke me if she gets the right combination of procs revolving around her ridiculous Crit trinket. So she was a little confused.

I replied: “I’m using the same weapon as last week.” (wink, wink)

She: “Oh, I was just wondering, because you’re doing way more damage than before.”

What she had apparently forgotten – which I had told her upon winning the trinket – was that I had gotten the Sha trinket. As in, THE Sha trinket that I’ve talked about with her before. The trinket that, among other things, lowers the cooldown for Rapid Fire by more than a minute.

Yeah.

Additionally, I’m using the trinket in conjunction with the two-piece bonus, which lowers the cooldown of Rapid Fire by 8 seconds every time I fire an Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot as SV.

Without doing a lot of math, here’s how this changes things from where I was a few weeks ago:

  1. Rapid Fire’s base cooldown is 3 minutes. [3 minutes]
  2. Assurance of Consequence lowers that by more than a minute (actual change depends on which version you have). [-1 minute; new CD ~2 minutes]
  3. With the 2p bonus, shooting 7 or 8 AS/MS over the course of a minute basically reduces the cooldown by another minute. [-1 minute; new CD ~1 minute]
  4. New Rapid Fire cooldown: approx. 1 minute.

Theoretically, you could realistically have Rapid Fire up more than 20% of the time most of the time, if even more AS/MS are being fired per minute.

(With Rapid Fire “cooling down” less, I guess you could say it was “hotter, more often”… right? No? Yeah, that was really bad; sorry.)

Anyhow…

When we reached General Nazgrim – an add-heavy fight – I thought back to a conversation that I’d had with Kheldul of Hunter-DPS last Monday on Twitter. He was playing around with using Thrill of the Hunt, combined with the set bonus, and said that he’d gotten on some crazy streaks. So I ditched Dire Beast for the fight and decided to give TotH a try with the set bonus and the trinket. It seemed like a good time to try it with so much of the fight about focusing adds, which often means more Arcane Shots than usual.

The results were pretty awesome. With the Rapid Fire cooldown almost always less than a minute, and TotH proccing like it normally does, I was able to do fairly consistent damage to adds, burn the boss when he was in Berserker Stance, and so on. Focus generation was rarely a problem, although I didn’t manage it as well as I will with more practice. And we got Nazgrim down on the second attempt.

Incidentally, here’s how the damage looked. Keep in mind that there are significant portions of the fight (Defensive Stance, etc.) where we lay off the boss in order to keep his Rage levels down.

Damage for General Nazgrim

Damage for General Nazgrim

(I also died during the fight – killed by a bastard Kor’kron Assassin – and was rezzed about 20 seconds later. For reals.)

We had two tanks, six DPS and three heals – our normal raid team plus an extra Shadow priest – on the fight. As I said, I used TotH, as well as Blink Strikes and Glaive Toss, and I played as SV. It’s a great fight for hunters: there’s a lot of target-switching, and the class is just wonderful for that. That class strength, along with the trinket and the two-piece, make for a pretty powerful combination in this type of situation!

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


Raiding again! First kills in Siege of Orgrimmar

Siege of Orgrimmar

Siege of Orgrimmar

This past weekend, after more than a month where our raiding activity has been sporadic, we finally entered Siege of Orgrimmar for some normals-action… and it was sort of by accident.

Attendance boss tangent

We have a guy on our team who, as far as I know, is done raiding with us. He was out the Saturday night of the week we killed Lei Shen; we got something like nine bosses down the first night with a friend filling in, and the decision was made to bring that substitute with us the second night to try for the full clear (in fairness to the sub), and we got it… and since then this guy has been salty. Other than the next time after our guild took down Lei Shen, he has declined every invite. He plays all the time, and then the morning of the raid he declines the invite and is nowhere to be seen at raid time.

Whatever. Shit like that pisses me off, particularly when excuses are made to the raid leader, things are shrouded in secrecy, rumors are going around, and him not being available means I don’t get to raid. It all stinks of bull crap to me. So I’m calling it as I see it, based on what I know… I’m done with it. Moving on.

At any rate, this past Saturday, we were also missing our resto druid – a planned absence – and so after a long delay, we grabbed some friends and hit up Flex again. We managed the first wing with no problem, and then ran into the wall that is Galakras… and since we had started so late, we called it after a couple of pulls and planned to regroup on Sunday.

Sunday arrived, and we were at nine people. I was ready to call it after waiting almost 40 minutes for someone to log in when a healer popped online. A quick discussion later, we determined that having four healers and four DPS wasn’t the best situation for the Galakras fight. So we agreed to go give Immerseus a try.

And, with that, we had backed into the place I actually wanted to be… by accident…

Yes!!

I was happy.

Immerseus

Immerseus down

Immerseus, purified

The fight worked as intended. It was a typical Morchok/Jin’rokh-type of intro fight: fairly simple once you know what you’re doing as a group. My girlfriend, who was one of the healers on this fight, was scoffing at our ability to do it, even after I pointed out that the group had nice symmetry for floor coverage, and we had four very strong, Legendary-cloaked damage dealers, even if there were only four. Whatever – I was proven correct as we downed the boss on the second attempt. We had healers spread out to all four quarters of the floor, DPS similarly, and we had absolutely no problem beating the berserk timer.

With that, it was on to

The Fallen Protectors

Fallen Protectors, relieved of their corruption

Fallen Protectors, relieved of their corruption

Unlike Throne of Thunder, Siege doesn’t have a Horridon, a second boss that is a completely epic and impenetrable wall to keep us from progressing normally. Instead, we get the Fallen Protectors, which is a busy fight but really isn’t that difficult. We one-shotted it.

It wasn’t the prettiest kill: for instance, I almost bit it when I got Inferno Strike and took it into the group killing the add we were working on, only to have people move out of range. I didn’t die, but I lost about 85% of my health when it exploded. I think from now on, we will either execute that correctly, or I’ll try to Deterrence through it alone. Things like that made the fight a little bit of a wild ride, but having done it on Flex a couple of times and knowing what to look for certainly helped.

Anyway, with that, we made our way to Norushen. We made several attempts, but failed to get the boss down. We’ll make some adjustments next week, and should have our druid back, so I don’t foresee that boss being much of a problem next weekend.

What could have been a lost weekend ended up being a pretty successful one. We were all happy to have gotten a couple of normal kills in, and are looking forward to further success.

Personally, it was a good week. I picked up the Warforged Smoldering Eye from Ordos and the tier gloves from Xuen on Tuesday, Death Lotus Crossbow from the Protectors in Flex on Saturday, and the Puddle Punishers (boots) from normal Immerseus on Sunday. I couldn’t really have hoped for a better week, loot-wise.

Raiding again is exciting! Looking forward to more.

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


Ranged hunter pets: a possible solution to pet-pathing and range issues in raids

Me and my Thunderhawk

Me and my Thunderhawk

Has anyone had the problem where your pet gets itself out of range on Immerseus and disappears, requiring a re-summon?

I have. The first time I noticed it was in LFR. I had to re-summon my pet several times on that fight, and, since I was paying attention to damaging the boss and then downing all of my adds, I couldn’t figure out why. At first, I thought it might be because the back of the boss is so far away from where I was standing, so I moved to an area behind the boss when we did it on Flex on Saturday, and it still happened twice.

I was stymied. The only other possibility I can think of is that perhaps, when Immerseus “splits,” his physical model technically collapses below the ground. This reminded me of how sometimes, in spite of attempts I would make to force him to follow me, my pet would still “chase” one of the heads of Megaera, sometimes way down the length of the place where the water met the ground, when a head would submerge, and would eventually disappear. This also required a re-summon, and thinking about that this weekend made me wonder if the pet is chasing the Immerseus model below the ground when he “splits.”

I generally think the problem, though, is that the boss is simply so large that if the pet is on the other side of the hit-box, you can get too far away from it if you Disengage or otherwise move out of range.

Blizzard has commented in recent months that they can’t fix all of the pathing issues, since they’re more about specific fights or terrain than about the pathing skills of the pets themselves. While I’m skeptical about how true that ultimately is, I’m willing to accept that argument if they’ll consider real solutions to the problem, in order to give hunters the opportunity to not have to waste (potentially several) GCDs re-summoning pets on certain encounters.

My proposal is to take pathing and range issues out of the equation entirely by creating a new subset of pets that can attack at range, by your side or wherever you place them. This subset would be special in that it would consist of pet families such as birds, wind serpents, dragonhawks, bats, sporebats, and other relatively similar creatures. There would be enough different families that all raid buffs could be brought, and would be non-exotic in order for every spec to be able to use them.

We’ve already seen this in other parts of the game. Hunters with the T15 2-piece bonus occasionally summon a Thunderhawk to fight for them; the Thunderhawk stands next to the hunter and casts spells at the target. Outside the hunter class, there are Frost mages with their water elementals and warlocks with their imps, standing at range, faithfully casting Water Bolts and Fireballs, respectively. And the Bad Juju trinket procs Voodoo Gnomes that cast a Chain Lightning-type attack for any class that can use the trinket: hunters, shaman, druids, rogues, monks… so there are certainly examples of the mechanic already existing in the game.

I’m not proposing that all current and future hunter pets would be ranged pets – which would be kind of silly: “Go, uh… stand here and get ’em, Hyena!” – and I’m also not proposing that we move to a ranged-only pet system. However, it seems that providing the option on open-/large-terraine boss fights would be a nice quality of life change for a class for which managing a pet can be a nightmare, due to certain boss mechanics – and in this expansion, the biggest culprits seemed to be “boss submerges,” “huge hit-box bosses,” and “boss flies to other side of large room” mechanics.

We could even have an additional command button for pets to “Attack at Range” or something to that effect, giving us the option, for appropriate pet classes, to either send the pet in with the infantry or hold it back while still attacking, with no damage penalty for not being in melee range.

Perhaps I’m the only hunter who feels this way. Maybe I’m the only one seeing these problems on Immerseus, but I know that I’ve read a lot about problems hunters have had on Megaera, and basically Blizzard’s response was to shrug and apologize, without hope for a solution. My proposal would generally negate the need for Blizzard to fix “every pathing issue on every single boss,” and could be done while staying true to the basic context of the game: war done with all kinds of magic. If kept to pet families that could believably attack at range, such a concept isn’t far-fetched, shouldn’t really be that difficult to develop (since the mechanics are already there in other places), and would still allow skilled hunters to control exactly where the pet needs to go and what it needs to target.

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