My personal list of realistic short-term gear goals

My current boot upgrade options.

My current boot upgrade options – list generated at AskMrRobot.com.

Last night, missing two spots on our raid team, we put together a group of 30 (…) to down Sha of Anger. It was fun, getting people out of mind-control without all of the extra DPS, but we didn’t have too much trouble.

The bright spot of the night was that I was able to acquire the Tier 14 legs via bonus roll, which was awesome! I immediately upgraded them and reforged everything (the pants actually cleaned up my reforge, which I had been at odds with Mr. Robot about previously), and they’re good to go. It was a big upgrade, so that made me happy.

I’ve been thinking about possible upgrades quite a bit lately. The combination of my personal gear progression and our raid team’s slow raid progression has thinned out the list of possible upgrades I can reach for before 5.2 drops, so I decided to sit down and re-analyze what’s available and how likely it is that I can acquire better gear.

This post/list is completely self-serving, is not a guide or a BiS list, and is not a “complete” gear list. It’s just… something that I enjoy doing.

Current items are listed with ilvl and where I got them in parentheses; possible upgrades for each slot are below, with (ilvl), +relative upgrade value according to Mr. Robot, and comments on the value and the likelihood of  my acquisition of them.

Helm

Current: Hawkmaster’s Headguard (489; VP)

Crown of the Doomed Empress (496) – +499, good upgrade, better than Tier without another T14 piece, likely won’t kill Shek’zeer.

Yaungol Slayer’s Headguard (496, T14) – +344, slight upgrade without another tier piece, won’t kill Sha of Fear.

Realistic goal: none.

Neck

Current: Amulet of the Hidden Kings (489; Spirit Kings)

Pheromone Coated Choker (496) – +59, minimal upgrade, higher likelihood of dropping (Zor’lok).

Choker of Unleashed Storm (496) – +38, minuscule upgrade, drops from Blade Lord.

Realistic goal: either/both, although neither would be very impactful.

Shoulder

Current: Windwalker Spaulders (489; VP)

Wingslasher Pauldrons (496) – +327, Wind-Lord, unlikely to kill.

Yaungol Slayer’s Spaulders (496, T14) – +340, (more with another T14 piece), won’t kill Lei’Shi.

Waterborne Shoulderguards (496) – +505, Protectors, unlikely to kill.

Realistic goal: none.

Cloak

Current: Arrow Breaking Windcloak (489; Feng)

Legbreaker Greatcloak (496) – +77, Garalon, we may or may not kill it.

Realistic goal: none, really. Even if we kill Garalon, we won’t kill him very many times.

Chest

Current: Raiment of Blood and Bone (496; LW)

Yaungol Slayer’s Tunic (496, T14) – -544, likely won’t kill Shek’zeer. However, would be an upgrade with another T14 piece.

Realistic goal: none.

Wrist

Current: Stonemaw Armguards (489, Stone Guard)

Realistic goal: none, unless we kill Heroic Stone Guard several times.

Gloves

Current: Yaungol Slayer’s Gloves (496, courtesy of Sha of Anger)

Realistic goal: none.

Waist

Current: Fetters of Death (489, Gara’jal)

Shadowgrip Girdle (483) – +12, Sha of Fear LFR, not worth the bonus roll.

Chain of Flaming Arrows (496) – +296, VP/Revered with Shieldwall, small upgrade.

Ranger’s Chain of Unending Summer (496) – +393, won’t kill Lei Shi.

Shadowgrip Girdle (496) – +670, won’t kill Sha of Fear.

Realistic goal: Chain of Flaming Arrows, if I get to the point where I have enough VP and it’s my best upgrade, before something better becomes available in 5.2.

Legs

Current: Yaungol Slayer’s Legguards (496+8, courtesy of Sha of Anger)

Realistic goal: none.

Boots

Current:Treads of Ardent Antagonism (476, Claw of Anger quest reward)

Wildfire Worldwalkers (476) – +112, Feng LFR, not worth the bonus roll.

Wildfire Worldwalkers (489) – +751, Feng, I bonus roll these every week!

Odlaw’s Everwalkers (496) – +265, VP/Revered with Shieldwall, small upgrade.

Monstrous Stompers (483) – +543, Amber-Shaper LFR, good upgrade.

Monstrous Stompers (496) – +1166, unlikely to kill Amber-Shaper.

Realistic goal: Feng, you will give me boots! Absent that, I’d take the LFR 483s. I need boots.

Rings

Current: Seal of the Windreaver (489, quest reward from Klaxxi exalted); Anji’s Keepsake (489, VP).

Painful Thorned Ring (496) – +75-104, minimal upgrade, unlikely to kill Wind-Lord.

Regail’s Band of the Endless (496) – +323, unlikely to kill Protectors.

Signet of the Shieldwall (496) – +140, VP/Revered with Shieldwall, small upgrade.

Realistic goal: the Shieldwall ring, a long time from now, if I still need it.

Weapon

Current: Taoren, the Soul Burner (483+8, Sha-Touched with gem, Lei Shi LFR)

Fang Kung, Spark of Titans (489+8) – -52 with +8 upgrade, unlikely to kill Emperors many times but it’s not an upgrade.

Taoren, the Soul Burner (496+8, Sha-Touched with gem) – +1477 (+3201 with +8 upgrade), won’t kill Lei Shi.

Realistic goal: none.

Trinket

Current: Relic of Xuen (476+8, Darkmoon reward, BiS); Bottle of Infinite Stars (476, Elegon LFR)

Arrowflight Medallion (496) – +293, VP/Revered with Shieldwall, minimal upgrade for a trinket/for the VP cost.

Bottle of Infinite Stars (489+8) – +700 (or +1155 with +8 upgrade), unlikely to kill Elegon many times.

Terror in the Mists (496+8) – +749 (or 1266 with +8 upgrade), won’t kill Lei Shi.

Realistic goal: Bottle of Infinite Stars, if we can start getting Elegon to drop on a weekly basis.

– – –

If you read all of that – and you’re forgiven if you didn’t! – you can see that, based on how progression is going (very, very slowly), there isn’t much further for me to go, gear-wise, in Tier 14. I’ve needed boots for months now, and so I will faithfully use bonus rolls on Feng until he complies. The other major upgrade that might be attainable is Elegon’s trinket; we’ll have to see about that.

I’m still enjoying the slice of raiding that we get to do for now, but we’re going to be entering a period of urgency in 5.2. There is a strong collective desire to experience this new and historic raid content to its fullest, combined with the fact that one of our core members is facing a major life/career change that will end his time with WoW in about six months. With those things in mind, we may have some new personnel with us in 5.2 in order to make that happen.

In the meantime, I’ll be optimizing and gearing and playing as well as I can, in order to be ready when it’s time to assault the Throne of Thunder!

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


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

Expertise. Yeah.

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

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

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

Here is @HunterSalty’s tweet:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PING pong. ping PONG.

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

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

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

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

The error of a personal absolute

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

This is a generalization, of course.

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

We wore what dropped

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

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

If we wore what dropped, today

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

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

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

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

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

Possible required changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choice

As a side note…

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

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

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

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

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

“Eliminates the need to go to external sites…”

Let’s do a little Q&A…

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

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

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

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

Closing

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

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

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

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


Item Level Upgrades now viewable on the Armory

Good news!

I just noticed that Blizzard has implemented the update to the WoW Armory that allows you to see Item Upgrades on character profiles. I had just upgraded my second item tonight, and when I reloaded my armory page, I noticed that, while the ilvl next to the item is the original, the tooltip for an upgraded item shows what you see in-game after an upgrade.

This means that when you load your character into wowupgrade.com, any fully-upgraded items are moved to the bottom of the list, and the next highest upgrade is moved to the top. Additionally, we may see these features become automatic (as opposed to adjustable, as it is currently) at places like askmrrobot.com, making reforging very simple if using an in-game addon (or long-form math) is not your thing.

For those who don’t know, wowupgrade.com is a great resource that lists all of your upgradable gear in order from the highest impact to lowest. If you were ever not sure which item to put your Valor or Justice Points into, this can help – although you also want to take into consideration factors such as how soon you are likely to be getting a better piece of gear in that slot, so it’s not a one-stop answer machine. However, it’s still worth checking out!

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


Item upgrades: the new progressive nerf?

I’ll admit that I haven’t had my ear as close to the ground as I should lately, as regards what others are talking about around the blogosphere and on forums and podcasts. I’ve been busy working and playing, and not as busy writing and reading… So perhaps this has been discussed already, and I’m just oblivious to it. If so, I apologize ahead of time.

However, I did read MMO-Champion’s summary of Ghostcrawler’s recent interview with the fine folks at All Things Azeroth, where he mentioned that current raids may not see a progressive nerf until after patch 5.2 drops. At the time, I simply read and filed that bit of information, but after processing it a little, it occurred to me that progressive nerfage is already beginning to happen, post-5.1.

Item upgrades with Valor Points

With the introduction of the Item Upgrade system in 5.1, players can theoretically continue to improve their gear for quite a while – even if they don’t continue to get new pieces of gear.

While there are certainly differences between MoP and previous expansions – with Valor gear from reputation, bonus loot rolls / LFR loot changes, and stuttered LFR releases – things were still progressing fairly normally pre-5.1, all things considered. Now, however, the shelf-life of your gear has been greatly lengthened by the ability to upgrade it – the people behind Ask Mr. Robot recently pointed out on their blog that it would take approximately 24 weeks to upgrade every slot once!

So what I’m thinking is that this is a subtle substitute for the regular and progressive nerfs that Blizzard has applied to raids over the past couple of years or so – or, if nothing else, it’s an experiment in doing so, in part anyway.

To illustrate…

Let’s look at an oversimplified example:

Let’s say that, in this completely made-up example, all of the normal raid encounters are very killable (or even easy), while all of the heroic encounters are really difficult, for an average-skilled and -geared raid team. The team decides to knock on the heroic door, but proceeds to get its collective skull crushed repeatedly and mercilessly by the first heroic bosses. Where there’s probably a skill gap, there are also elements of the fight that may be able to be overcome with better gear: damage and health.

In the past few years, Blizzard has solved that problem by a) progressively nerfing the boss encounters (Firelands, Dragon Soul) or b) progressively buffing the players (Icecrown Citadel). This serves to let fledgling raiders see the normal content, normal raiders see some heroic encounters, and heroic raiders perhaps get past a wall and maybe even achieve heroic end-boss kills, before the raid itself is no longer relevant content.

With the current system, Blizzard is slyly giving players opportunities to slowly but progressively buff themselves. It’s a more subtle process than the ICC buffs, and takes it down to the individual level with individual pieces of gear.

To get back to the example, perhaps the upgrade system is just what the average Example Team needs to make it through a particularly tough phase on their first heroic boss. They kill the boss, and then they can presumably kill that boss repeatedly, which leads to gear from that boss that increases the raid team’s collective power and can also be upgraded, allowing them to move forward through the instance over time.

– – –

Whatever you call it – a boss nerf, a player buff – it’s basically the same thing. Player/team power vs. raid boss damage/health can be represented by a scale. The boss starts out with more power, while the players/teams usually start out over-matched. As players gain power (gear; not accounting for knowledge or experience), the scales start to move from “overwhelmingly in the boss’s favor” to “more evenly matched” at any particular skill level, increasing the likelihood that the team of players will prevail over the boss at some point.

This is not to sit on any side of the argument about whether raid nerfs are bad or good for the game. This kind of thing simply gets my mind working – I’m interested in certain aspects of how Blizzard designs this game. Reading Ghostcrawler’s comment sparked this idea in my head, so I thought I’d throw it out there to see what you think about it.

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


On the procurement of epic weapons

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Soon-to-be-gemmed, Taoren the Soul Burner is mine!

When hunters who are gearing up for raiding take a look at any comprehensive list of / source for gear information, they can see many available upgrade options – even for epic items – for most slots.

For instance, if I look at a list of available rings, even with the Valor and Klaxxi-exalted rings (ilvl 489) equipped I have six possible non-heroic/non-elite upgrades. And when my second ring was still the Headless Horseman’s seal, there were more than twice as many options. This is true for most of the other slots: there are choices from Valor gear, reputation quest rewards, drops from Raid Finder and raids, BoE drops, crafted pieces (and better crafted pieces!), and as of patch 5.1 there are even possible drops from scenarios. Players have a wide variety of ways to put together a gear set.

However, when looking at the most difficult slot to fill in order to become Mystically Epic (or, more importantly, to improve your performance), getting a weapon can prove to be the toughest task, relatively. It has, hands down, the fewest epic options for hunters when compared with all of the other slots.

Non-raid weapons

For those who don’t / won’t / can’t raid or run LFR, the only epic drop is Klatith, Fangs of the Swarm. This ilvl 476 bow, which is itemized very well for hunters, unfortunately has but a minuscule chance to drop from Raigonn, the final boss in the Gate of the Setting Sun heroic dungeon. Before I got an epic weapon, I had begun to run this dungeon at least once per day in hopes of seeing this one drop, although I knew my chance was very low – back then (October), Wowhead put the drop chance at 0.02%, although when checking for the purposes of this article, that number has changed to 0.04%. Either way, with a drop rate under 1%, it can be extremely elusive, as you can imagine.

The only other non-raid epic available is Flintlocke’s Blasthammer, a sweet ilvl 476 483 gun with a killer name and stats to match. This item periodically shows up on the Black Market Auction House, which means that it can be difficult to attain due to RNG (is it there today?) and cost (potentially many tens of thousands of gold) and competition (how many people are bidding, how high will the bidding go, will I have the high bid) etc.

Other than those two relative rarities, if you’re looking to improve upon that Tempestuous Longbow or Firebelcher Hand Cannon or Amber Sprayer of Klaxxi’vess or Houndmaster’s Compound Crossbow you’re clutching, you have to jump into some type of raid – and you have to kill bosses that drop weapons, obviously.

Raid Finder drops

In Raid Finder, this means you have two options:

The Will of the Emperor loot table includes Fang Kung, Spark of Titans; also known as Generator of Songs that Stick in Your Head and Dealer of Badass Damage. This ilvl 476 bow, which has great secondary stats for hunters, doesn’t have a drop rate listed on Wowhead, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the drop rate of Klatith.

In Terrace of Endless Spring, Lei’Shi drops Taoren the Soul Burner. This ilvl 483 gun contains a “Sha-Touched socket” in which you can place a Crystalized Dread, adding +500 Agility to the weapon, once you’ve completed the first phase of the Wrathion legendary questline. This gun is a sizeable upgrade over all other Raid Finder-quality and lower weapons in the game right now.

Of course, these two items are the Raid Finder equivalents of normal-mode weapons of the same names, which are even better!

Bonus loot rolls

One factor that makes these two weapons interesting is the new bonus loot roll system in MoP. With up to three new roll chances available every week, prioritizing bosses which drop weapons over other bosses improves your chances to see one of these appear in your bag,

When I hit 90, I immediately got the 450 weapon from Arena of Annihilation. I soon replaced that with the heroic Houndmaster’s, and ran with that while I was attempting to get Klatith. However, I prioritized my bonus rolls for Elegon (trinket) and Will (Fang Kung) around that time, and soon won both.

Since Terrace became available in Raid Finder, I’ve prioritized Lei’Shi for bonus rolls, because I wanted Taoren. The week before last, I used all three rolls on her, to no avail. This past Friday, however, I was overjoyed to see Taoren float into my bag on my second kill/bonus roll of the week! I am now in possession of a weapon that will, once I get my final Sigil of Wisdom next week, provide me with some very satisfying damage for a while to come.

All of that to say this: If you want an epic weapon*, your best bet is to be both persistent in your running of Raid Finder and smart with your use of bonus rolls.

*Obviously, if you’re already killing these bosses on normal mode or better, you may already have a better weapon, in which case this may not apply to you. :D

Closing

Blizzard wanted to make epics feel more epic. In order to do this, they made epic weapons much more difficult to obtain than they have been in previous patches. This was a smart move, because, while the rest of the WoW world is just swimming in purple gear, the dearth of purple ranged weapons really whets your thirst if you can use one. As such, when you finally win one of these weapons, it feels awesome! And yes, RNG may make it a long, frustrating grind. But in general, I’ve found this to be the best way to get one of these – it’s worked for me twice now.

Good luck as you hunt for that next killer weapon!

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


Operation Shieldwall: on second thought… maybe I’ll pass

On Thursday night, I tried to do these new dailies for the second time. You know, the ones for the new 5.1 faction Operation Shieldwall (or Horde equivalent).

Thirty minutes later, I was here at WordPress, furiously banging out a post that basically laid out, in rant-form, how this new faction can go ook itself.

I did not post it, though. Sometimes I like to let things settle and allow some sense of reason to set in, so that I can decide if I really want to waste everyone’s time convincing my readers that I’m a completely bitter / cynical / negative / grumpy old man, or something.

Upon reflection, as it was written, I won’t be posting it.

However, I will make a couple of points about it.

– – –

After my post from last Tuesday, I can honestly say that when I logged in to the game that afternoon, I wasn’t exactly excited about turning in the breadcrumb quest that I received. After messing around fixing my addons, and various other activities, I eventually went down there. I was so underwhelmed by the opening crap with Varian* and Anduin (etc.) that I didn’t do anything after I opened up the dailies.

*This part, by the way, was just awful. I don’t know what… I just hated it. It was one of the lamest openings to a faction or questline in the game, in my opinion.

Well, I actually did pick up the dailies. Then I looked at them for a moment in my Log, and then I abandoned them… and I proceeded to go on what has turned out to be a week-long LFR-running binge, interrupted for any significant amount of /played time only in order to level my mage the last 34 bars to 90.

Fast forward to Thursday… I was feeling a little bit annoyed with myself about not doing these new dailies. So I flew down to Krasarang and gamely picked up that day’s duties.

The quests for Thursday required me to go to the mine and do a bunch of crap. I figured, what the heck; I’ll kill a bunch of things, no big, right? So I descended, and killed things, and killed more things, and killed them again, and again, and again. Reliquary dudes were respawning the instant I killed them, every time, without fail. I was never out of combat. And every Mogu spirit was tagged. There were as many player-nameplates down there as there were mobs. It was a complete cluster.

I was never in any danger of dying. I have good gear, and they don’t hit that hard, and so on. But it was a horrible place to try to get anything accomplished.

So I ran back to the top, feigned death (I didn’t bother with fighting my way out; I just jogged and brought the mobs with me), handed in my Reliquary and Pandaren Spirit quests (which I had completed the equivalent of “many-times-over”), and abandoned the others. And I flew back to the Shrine, and started writing my about my disgust.

It didn’t take me long to come to terms with the fact that, in spite of my claims in my post from Tuesday, I won’t be hammering these out every day. I will not be prioritizing this rep, these dailies, or this gear.

– – –

The rewards are higher-level gear than what I have, in every slot. But they’re not the best-itemized pieces. The non-trinket items all have mastery on them, and they’re not high stat-budget (legs/chest/helm/weapon) pieces. The trinket seems to be nice, so I’ll give Blizzard credit for that. However, I’m just not feeling strongly enough about these pieces to deal with the horde of people doing them all at the same time, in such a confined space, with antiquated tag mechanics** in place.

**It seems like every patch, there is something that everyone needs, but only the first to tag can get credit for the kill. And eventually, Blizzard does a “my bad, y’all” and makes those mobs “quest symbol” mobs that can be shared. I don’t understand why they don’t make this the case at the beginning of the patch, when the tagging problem is the worst because the most people are working on the rep…

My main aim in this game is to raid – to raid well, and to raid with my friends. And my gear set, which is currently one of the most complete in the guild, is not one of the larger problems our raid team has right now. So I’m feeling like making the process of attaining these pieces a priority is not necessarily a high-leverage way to spend my time in-game.

And it’s not like I can just avoid the crowds by doing the dailies at 2am. While there are times that I do stay up that late, I’m never in the mood to do dailies when I do. And because of the way my work schedule is heading, I don’t imagine that I’ll be doing that very much since an early morning wake-up is less pleasant with less sleep.

I’m not going to be brash and proclaim that I will never ever do this rep grind. It may happen, eventually, and gradually. However, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m not going to give myself too much grief about not making this faction a priority. I’d rather just raid right now.

– – –

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


Patch 5.1: Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!

Patch 5.1 goes live today, and with it comes some new content and features. Some of the content is stuff I’m interested in, and some of it is not. I’ll get into that in a minute.

For a more comprehensive list of hunter-related changes, check out Tabana’s Patch 5.1 This Week post over at WoW Hunters Hall.

New gear and the Item Upgrade system

New gear usually tops the list with any new content patch, and we get a double dose of that, so-to-speak, with four new pieces (waist, boots, ring, trinket) available at either Honored or Revered with the new factions (Alliance – Operation Shieldwall / Horde – Dominance Offensive) along with the introduction of the Item Upgrade system. If you’re unfamiliar with the Item Upgrade system, read the summary of new features in 5.1 over at MMO-Champion.

From my perspective as a raider in a guild that only started raiding two and a half weeks ago, new gear is great. My opportunities for drops in normal raids have been extremely limited – 3 bosses down, 4 total kills – so my gear set is currently made up of more Valor items, Mogu’shan LFR pieces, and even 463 gear than I would like at this point. As such, without looking at any theorycrafting, I can see that the boots – at the very least – could be an upgrade over the Sha of Anger quest boots. I’ll have to look at the other three pieces before I make decisions on them.

The big thing for me, though, is the Item Upgrade system. I’m ready to log in and upgrade my weapon, like, yesterday. Mr. Robot also has a blog post today about the item upgrade system, although it looks like it may be a short while before the features are fully implemented there. I’ll be interested in knowing, going forward, whether item upgrades will be better than valor purchases for certain items.

I think the item upgrade feature is great – it provides continued uses for VP once the “OMG I’ve got to buy this item” phase of each tier starts to ebb, and it allows people who are having bad luck with drops or are in a guild that is slow in its raid progression (both situations that I’m dealing with at the moment) to continue to progress personally with their gear.

New faction(s) and dailies

On the other end of the spectrum, the new Alliance faction, Operation Shieldwall, brings – along with its Horde counterpart – a bevy of new daily quests. This is where the title of my post comes into play, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Tongue-in-cheek, because I knew that this would happen.

Since raiding with my friends is my endgame, it’s likely that I’m not the primary target of this faction from Blizzard’s standpoint. Like the Molten Front grind in 4.2 (and the deluge of dailies in Mists of Pandaria already), this is part of Blizzard’s attempt to expand upon the escalating Alliance vs. Horde story that exploded with Theramore in 5.0 and has since moved to Pandaria, providing more content and ways to get gear for those non-raiders/non-PvPers/lore-&-questing lovers who still play their max-level toons every day. So I understand that, and salute what they’re doing in that regard.

However, because I’m in a casual guild that hasn’t jumped on progression like I would have liked to in this tier, I’m stuck in a weird place… where I started working on maxing out my reputations (and Valor-capping) from the first week of the expansion, which meant dailies dailies dailies, and jumping into Raid Finder as each new instance opened, and have bought/made BoE gear for myself, and have been ready to go for a while now. And so I’m in this place where I’ve seen all the raid content in Raid Finder, but I’ve only seen the first three bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults on normal mode, but I’ve been doing dailies for two months now, and the last thing I really give a damn about is the Alliance-Horde conflict/story at this point. But I’ll do them because, you know, new shinies…

In reality, though, this may simply be a personal problem. Blizzard releasing more content – whatever it may be – more quickly is something that needs to happen in the greater scope of things. And my choice of guild is my choice, and given the scope of my efforts to be ready to raid seven weeks ago but not being able to run with Nos until more than a week into November, it’s not Blizzard’s fault that their design for VP and casual end-game players has made me sick and tired of their design for VP and casual players*.

*The funny thing is, when I’m playing my warrior – with whom I do not raid – I generally don’t mind the daily grind, particularly now that I am done with dailies on my hunter. For the warrior, the dailies thing is perfect, and now that I’m not doing those same dailies two or three times per day, I enjoy them on him. But on the hunter, I’ve got dailies burnout big-time.

All of that to say, I am not looking forward to doing a half-dozen new dailies each day for Operation Shieldwall. But I will. Because, you know, gear. And because I’ve killed 37 normal or LFR bosses (and used at least 7 coins) since November 8th without a single usable drop. So I probably need those boots.

Hunter class changes

The big change for me here is that Aspect of the Fox has been removed and Cobra/Steady can always be cast on the move. I’m not a Marksman, but Aimed Shot can also be cast on the move if you glyph it.

This change will hopefully result in a very slight DPS increase for Survival. I’ll be honest – with the number of instant casts we have, I’ve found that I rarely have to cast CS on the move. Usually, there is a Lock and Load up, or Dire Beast/Black Arrow/whatever is off cooldown, or I simply have enough focus to throw a couple of Arcane Shots out there, while I move to where I have to drop my flame on Feng, for instance. However, there are times when this could be a great thing (Get Away! phases during Lei Shi in Terrace come to mind). I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out over the next several days.

Once again, for a full list of changes, check the post at WHH linked above. I don’t play Beast Mastery or MM, so I won’t comment on all of the changes.

Closing thoughts

This is not a comprehensive 5.1 post, but I wanted to share some thoughts on where 5.1 sits with me personally. Overall, I’m glad it’s happening today, because I want the ability to upgrade some pieces and to earn some new pieces of gear. I’m not thrilled about the new faction and dailies, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I still don’t care about pet battles, and the Brawler’s Guild seems to be prohibitive as far as getting invites goes (and provides no epic gear), so I’m not excited about either of them. But I’ll be interested to see how the new hunter mechanics impact our ability to be effective as a class at higher levels of raiding, as well as how they affect my play personally.

– – –

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


Revered

(Aka A short progress report; or Thank God that’s over; or some other similar title.)

Last Saturday, I hit Exalted with the Klaxxi.

(I also hit Exalted with the Anglers that day, but that is of little consequence with respect to gear.)

Sunday, I hit Revered with the August Celestials, and had reached that level a day or so previously with the Shado’pan.

Thank you, Unburdened buff!

Got to Revered, then got lazy.

With the AC and SP revered reps – along with the fact that I bought the Valor Point necklace as my first item purchase, not knowing about the neck that you get for completing the Golden Lotus questline at exalted before I did so – I now stand at revered with each of the four VP-gear-related factions. So my days of grinding each daily for each faction on Mushan are over for the time being.

It’s a nice place to be. And it means that I have to find different ways to cap Valor Points each week. Given that MoP has been such a daily quest grind once I hit level 90, heroics have gotten the short end of the stick due to time constraints. This week, I am finding them to be a somewhat refreshing change from the previous status quo.

Now, I hadn’t been completely neglecting heroics while Valor-capping by Friday every week. I’ve still been running them – just not every day. And I’ve done more Raid Finder than I’d care to discuss in detail. Now, I’m sitting in a good spot as we near our first normal attempts this weekend (fingers crossed that that will actually happen).

As gear goes, here is where I stand:

Only three blue 463 (heroic) pieces left: helm, pants, and bracers.

Only one 470 item: Seal of Ghoulish Glee, the Headless Horseman’s offering.

One crafted piece: Gloves of Earthen Harmony (476).

Both Fang Kung, Spark of Titans and Bottle of Infinite Stars, the Raid Finder bow and trinket, which I picked up last Sunday and this Tuesday. Which is awesome. No more running Gate of the Setting Sun every single day for the seemingly infinitesimal chance of a Klatith drop!

A total of seven ilvl 476 pieces.

Four ilvl 489 pieces (three VP items (neck, shoulders, trinket), plus the Klaxxi quest ring).

Overall, I’m happy with where I am. It’s taken a lot of hard (and sometimes mind-numbing) work to get to this place, so I should be in good shape when we line up to face the Stone Guard. I’m hoping that we can get enough people to start raiding this weekend; prepping myself for the upcoming fights, should they happen; working on capping VP each week; working on alts…

More soon!

– – –

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Fingers crossed… and Raining Blood!

Ready to summon

Just over four weeks into the expansion, we finally have a target date for heading into Mogu’shan Vaults.

As I wrote in my previous post, our guild has a bit of a balance problem. We have more than enough people to raid, but most of them are melee DPS: three warriors, a couple of DKs, a rogue, and a monk. At the moment, Ela and I are the only ranged DPS even close to 90*. As it stands, we’re full on damage: two of the warriors and Ela and I are holdovers from DS/FL, and we have a rogue who ran with us part-time on his druid during Cata. We have one tank, Squido, and one healer, Bensen, from before.

*We’re both 90. Nobody else is close.

It looks like we have two DK tanks to choose from, one of whom is both amiable and skilled, and will hopefully pick up a little more gear and be ready to go. We have a healer who used to be a priest in Wrath. He doesn’t like healing as a priest, so he’s been power-leveling a druid. We’re hoping he can get the rest of the way up over the course of the next week, although he’s 80 at the moment and taking a couple of days off before leveling through Cata and MoP. At least, I assume he is.

We also have this monk who was one of the first to 90 in our guild, and he is geared to deal damage, but has been working on a healing offspec.

The healers are both wild-cards. Our target date is November 4th.

I really hope that a) the druid can keep up his leveling pace, and b) the monk is amiable to the idea of healing for us. If he’s interested in raiding with the guild, we don’t need more damage – particularly since we’re already melee-heavy as it is.

The idea is to get into the damn place. We’re not a world-wrecker guild by any stretch. But I’ve been itching to raid since the week after MV came out, so just getting some work in will feel good. It’s too bad that we had a tank and healer quit playing, because we had a pretty good team in Cataclysm. But there is a core of skilled friends here, and the goal is to raid together. I’m looking forward to it. Like I said, fingers are crossed.

That feeling is particularly strong after my attempt to complete the second half of Raid Finder last night. My first queue was Will of the Emperor, so I turned it down. My second queue was Elegon, so I took it, and we managed to one-shot it (from the time I joined, anyway). Only two people died when the floor dropped, which helped a lot.

The final boss was a different story. On four attempts (including one that brought them down to 29M health), we had to wait interminable amounts of time between pulls as about half the raid would leave each time. It was awful. If we could have started each pull a few minutes after each wipe, that would have been bad enough. But the long wait times really tested my patience, and I decided to bail after the 4th. 70 minutes for four attempts – with almost half the time down-time – was more than I was willing to stick around for random members for.

We’re running RF on Sunday as a guild, which will be better. I’m keen on getting the bow and the trinket, though, so I gave it a shot. But seriously… it was absolutely no fun.

By the way – what part of the “brez the tank” concept includes “brez the mage” anyway? I see a lot of that kind of crap in there, and it ends up wiping us way too often.

If nothing else, I’m looking forward to running with (mostly) mature adults who know how to follow strategies and execute fundamentals.

– – –

Not much has changed for me. I haven’t written because I haven’t felt that there’s been much to write about. I’m playing – a LOT – as well as working and so on. But nothing earth-changing has been going on.

Well, “dailies” has been going on, and we all know how exciting that is.

I’ve been moving along with my Klaxxi dailies, and find myself only two days away from exalted with them. I’m excited about the questline at the end, which will give me a very useful ring. Additionally, I’ve been enjoying the Klaxxi dailies more than probably any of the others. Need a reason? The heavy metal song-named buffs you can get from the various paragons.

Raining Blood!

My absolute favorite of these, as a hunter, is Raining Blood. Raining Blood is an enhancement given by Xaril the Poisoned Mind, and it reads like this: “Attacking enemies has a 100% chance to inject enemies with Unstable Serum.”

There are two awesome parts of this enhancement.

First of all, it’s a stackable debuff. When the debuff hits eight stacks, the serum explodes for somewhere in the area of 200k-300k damage. This usually kills the enemy, unless it’s an elite.

Secondly, the visual effect is really sweet for hunters. Each time you hit with a ranged attack, a blood-colored poison attack follows. Taking it up a notch, when you Multishot at several enemies – the more the better – you get a spray of blood coming from your weapon. If you haven’t tried it, I’d definitely recommend it. It makes doing dailies in the Dread Wastes so much more fun than they would be without it.

Anyway, aside from Klaxxi, I’m also revered with the Shado’pan – who have some of the least fun dailies in the game right now – as of yesterday. So thank goodness for that.

On the other hand, I spent some time this morning updating my personal gear goals with regard to their cost, the places they drop, and so on, now that raiding is more than a twinkle in the eye. As a result of that, I confirmed (thanks to Ask Mr. Robot) that the Hawkmaster’s Talon, the trinket that becomes available from the Shado’pan at revered, is by far my biggest possible purchasable upgrade at the moment, so I’ll be picking that up tomorrow when I have 75 more Valor Points. As it stands, I have a three-page breakdown in my notebook just for potential gear upgrades over the next several weeks, so I have my work cut out for me.

Although – I must say – it’s getting to the point where I’ve picked up most of the higher-value VP gear relative to what I’m wearing. After I pick up the trinket, ring, helm, and (if necessary) legs, there are no more items that have a value of more than half a point of DPS increase per Valor Point. If we are successful enough to make some progress in Mogu’shan Vaults and pick up some gear, I might not find myself working as hard for valors for some of those pieces.

As for Justice Points… I’m going to be capped once I run another heroic. I think I’m going to have to convert them to Honor and buy some PvP gear, even though I haven’t set foot in a BG since 5.0.1, because I don’t know what else to do with them.

More soon!

– – –

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Upside down and forward thinking

Nobody else is probably interested in this, but I am.

Even before my latest post, it occurred to me that I could certainly level all the way to 90 with my ilvl 397 gear on my hunter, including the Tier 13 set bonuses.

However, I’m actually thinking of doing the opposite.

With the two-piece set bonus and the talents from the level 60 talent tier, I am swimming in focus. As SV, ever only using Cobra shot singly, mainly to keep Serpent Sting up and to occasionally get my 28 focus or whatever the shots give with the bonus, it is very easy to be focus-capped way too much.

It strikes me that, at level 90 in Mists of Pandaria, since that gear will be gone, replaced by more powerful gear – but at a character level that will once again dilute the power of combat ratings – focus will become much more of an issue. By that, I mean that it will actually be something we have to manage and strive for.

With our Cobra and Steady Shots back to giving 14 focus, hunters will be using them more often. And if I forget to use Dire Beast or one of the other abilities that replenishes focus as close to on-cooldown as is appropriate, it is going to cost me DPS because I won’t be getting the benefit of said focus.

With that in mind, I think that I will begin replacing my gear right away, as soon as I start picking up new gear during leveling. Not necessarily all of it, but certainly the tier slots.

Why? you say…

Well, I’m somewhat anal-retentive when it comes to thinking about quirky things like this, and I think that I could benefit from this. In 4.3, every class got sweet set-bonus buffs, and one of ours was focus related, and the other was haste related, and that played right along with the frenetic pace of fights like Madness of Deathwing and heroic Dragon Soul content. However, people won’t be using that tier gear in end-game MoP, because they’ll sacrifice (a lot of) power for focus, which is almost certainly a loss.

Now, post-5.0, we almost get the old two-piece bonus amount (18 focus) from one Cobra/Steady (14). And the set bonus still doubles it.

I’ve run some dungeons post-patch, and the hunter is fine. But I think that I will be better off eschewing the T-13 style of play as soon as I set foot into MoP dungeons as I level, and I’d like to get accustomed to “14 focus per Cobra Shot” sooner than later. I’d rather learn as I level, rather than hit the wall when I’m close to, or at, 90 and instinctively wonder why my hunter feels doubly slow.

I think it will help me work Dire Beast into my rotation, too. I’ve been horribly sloppy with it since the patch, both in dungeons and at the dummy, and part of that is because I am usually closer to full than to empty on the focus meter, so it’s easy to forget about it. And higher levels will mean lower combat ratings, proc rates, and so on, so I’ll be able to set myself into a more reasonable rotation.

Maybe you disagree, and think I’m talking out of my butt. That’s fine. But I think replacing gear as soon as I can will make me a better MoP hunter sooner, because I won’t be playing MoP dungeons with Cataclysm’s proc-tastic / focus-tastic gear.

We’ll see how it goes.

– – –

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