Focused Grimness

My desire to play WoW is down even more than usual lately.

I’ve written about being burned out occasionally over the past couple of months, and that doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Since almost nothing has happened recently, there hasn’t been anything substantial to write about; nothing, at least, that has inspired me to write.

There’s one thing that I’m not feeling burned out about, and that’s playing Mushan. I still look forward to the weekends, when we raid, and I still feel at home when I’m playing him.

But I don’t feel like doing dailies or otherwise earning Valor*. I don’t feel like stepping into LFR**. While I don’t mind doing heroic dungeons, I’m not particularly motivated to do them. Killing rares has gotten very old, very fast. PvP? not feeling it at all right now. Soloing old stuff? same. Archaeology? Pet battles? RP? Scenarios? Achievements? Aggressive Auction House jockeying? Yeah… no thanks.

*I did pick up my Valor belt after reaching Revered with the SPA this week, so I’m done using Valor Points for anything until 5.3 arrives – I figure that if I’m capped by the end of next week, I’ll be fine to start item-upgrading whenever that becomes available.

**That being said, I have done three wings of ToT LFR this week. Primordius has some very nice gloves that I’d like to get my hands on… er, into. Although he hasn’t been generous about it so far.

And that’s on the hunter – the familiar toon; the well-oiled machine; the toon I love. The other toons? forget it. I have no desire to tank anything right now on the warrior. No desire to play the mage. No desire to get the final 27 bars on my paladin. To play my lil’ project hunter. To level my DK, who’s in Grizzly Hills at the moment.

Additionally, I feel somewhat disconnected from the community right now, which is sort of weird, because I have more people consistently reading my blog now than I’ve ever had before. I’m generally disappointed with Twitter as well – without getting into specifics – so I’ve been avoiding it for the past couple of weeks, aside from a couple of random posts here and there.

I’m just in a different place right now, I suppose. 

On the whole, though, there’s almost nothing going on that I’m really enjoying unless I’m raiding.

Raiding went well last weekend, considering we were down a healer. We had a friend bring his mage, and we patiently worked our way through the first three bosses of ToT again, with two healers/six DPS instead of three and five.

We spent a long time on Sunday working on Tortos, which is a fight that I’m worried about because I’m one of only two ranged DPS, so downing the Whirl Turtles is proving to be somewhat challenging. Everything I read about hunters on that fight seems to say – and I paraphrase – “Go SV, you’ll do shit-tons of AoE damage on the bats on that fight…” And that totally doesn’t seem appropriate for our raid composition. Because of the makeup of our guild/team, we’re faced with the challenge of getting bosses down with what we have. We don’t have a bench, swap out players based on role, and so on. For the most part, it’s a 10-person, 10-toon team, and we adjust based on the limited versatility of those players’ classes – and that’s it.

While topping the charts is fun – and I can certainly top the charts on Tortos in LFR, which is inherently more forgiving and doesn’t mind if you just pick what you want to do and then do it – I will not be doing so as we make progress on our Tortos attempts. I will not be ‘spreading serpent’ all over those god-forsaken bats like it’s my m—– f—— birthday. I have an assignment, and it’s Whirl Turtles, and it’s a responsibility and challenge that I will rise to with determined grimness.

Of course, there’s no hunter spec that’s great for that role. Other than being able to cast on the move, my ability to consistently burst stuff down is still kind of anemic (see upcoming hunter buffs in 5.3). And with a somewhat melee-heavy 10-man group, there is little room for error or weakness in that situation. I’ve made my gear set – my greatest asset – about as strong as it can be, given the circumstances. So I’ll bring that, along with some grim focus, and we’ll see what happens.

– – –

One bright spot for me, personally, was that I successfully switched to Beast Mastery on Sunday for the Council of Elders encounter. BM is a spec that I have never used in a raid before, and I don’t enjoy it. But I practiced the crap out of it during the week, and ultimately I did enjoy not killing myself when Kazra’jin was empowered. My overall “DPS” went down a tick or two, with the reduced AoE damage. However, I was satisfied with the situationally focused damage I was able to do, particularly as we burned down Sul during the first portion of the fight.

Unless it becomes totally stupid for me not to, I will continue to use SV on single target progression fights (like Jin’rokh, although he’s certainly not progression), because it fits me like a glove; and, because I am not a great player, I have that problem where I play better with the spec I enjoy the most (rather than playing the “best spec for the DPS”). I can move better as SV, because I have many hundreds of hours of doing so under my belt, and that can be very important at times. BM feels like I am slapping the buttons, while SV is smooth, allowing me to have better raid awareness. But in the case of Kazra’jin, BM works for me, giving me the freedom to go all-out on something that would otherwise kill me if I did so as SV.

At any rate, it’s a game, and if I can do some sick damage and play well as SV, and it allows me to enjoy the only part of the game I’m having any fun with right now, then I’m going to do so whenever I can.

– – –

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

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Soloed: Halion (10H)

Heroic Halion (10) down!

Heroic Halion (10) down!

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

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

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

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

– – –

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


Giving up the illusion

Another first kill... while dead.

Another first kill… while dead. In LFR.

There’s something empowering about World of Warcraft. There’s something empowering about being on a 5/8 H Dragon Soul team.

There’s also something empowering about being a small part of the hunter blogging community; and indeed, about playing a hunter. It basically just rocks, which feels great, which makes the game fun for me.

However, I think that being a part of that 5/8 H DS team, and being there as a hunter, fostered false impressions that I have of myself as a player and as a hunter.

Playing a hunter is a unique experience. As a hunter, I can do anything, and handle anything, if I know what I’m doing and approach it with a plan, or at least with proper preparation. But this post isn’t about the hunter class and its greatness.

This post is about me and the illusion of greatness that I have about myself, and about how I’m not really all that great. Nobody else thinks I’m great – I’m sure my guild sees me as a good player, moderately skilled and mostly effective. But not awesome.

And my ideas of awesomeness are severely tempered by massive doses of self-doubt, which are in turn fueled and exacerbated by failure.

Heroes

However, part of what makes many great games so good is that they make you feel awesome.

I remember when I first played a death knight. They were overpowered when Wrath came out, and I was absolutely crushing stuff when I went to Outland on that toon. Whereas my paladin, my other plate-wearing toon at the time, felt squishy but viable, the DK was AWESOME. “Death Grip, demolish, repeat!” is what I felt like when I played that long-since deleted toon. DKs were soon brought back down to earth, power-wise, and when I went back to try him later on, the overpowered nature had been diminished, and, having tasted that awesomeness, I found myself no longer interested in him. I recently made a new DK, and, being a much better WoW player now than I was two expansions ago, I’m having a lot of fun with him. He doesn’t need to be super OP for me now. But I’ll never forget the awesomeness that was…

At any rate, OP or not, each class is designed to be great. We’re considered heroes to the NPC-folks in game, and over the years we’ve taken care of problems ranging from repelling bandits to finding lost pets, to the destructions of the Lich King and Deathwing. We’re heroes, and we can do things in WoW that are pure fantasy in scope.

The short history of Mushan

When I started Mushan in summer 2010, it had been months since the Lich King fell to the combined might of Tirion Fordring and our old guild team. At the start of Cataclysm, I was a hunter that wanted to raid, but had nowhere to go. I had one or two raiding options that I knew of, guild-wise, but neither option was a pleasant one. So I missed Tier 11, other than a couple of experiences as a pug, in its entirety. I was late coming to Firelands, but managed to join up with Nos Consensio (and several old friends!) in time to get guild first kills on (at least) Alysrazor, Domo, and Ragnaros. That was a lot of fun, and Ragnaros was a particularly enjoyable fight for me as a hunter. However, real-life issues soon trumped WoW life for me, and I took what amounted to about a five month break from raiding, missing out on normal-mode Dragon Soul.

I started raiding again when Nos was 1/8 H DS, and we proceeded to progress through four more bosses over the next couple of months before giving up for the summer, which I believe I’ve documented here at Mushan, Etc. It was the first time that I’d ever really demonstrated that I could play at a heroic mode level while content was current.

But then again, as countless people have commented dismissively elsewhere on the interweb, Dragon Soul was a faceroll, right?

MoP

In this, the most “dumbed-down” (right, naysayers?) version of WoW, I am struggling the most; or at least, more than I have since Naxx, which is where I went through my intro to raiding and the ensuing growing pains.

There are several factors that go into those struggles, including team personnel changes and the fact that there haven’t been nerfs on current content, like there were in ICC and Firelands and DS.

And, in truth, I don’t know that our current team is necessarily struggling any more than our old team did in ToC, where I don’t remember killing Juraxxus by the end of the second week. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe I’m not. So it’s not like I’ve never struggled like this in raids before. And Horridon is still not an easy boss for players/teams at my skill level.

But here’s the thing: after the success that was our team in heroic Dragon Soul – even knowing at the time that it was an easy tier relative to most of the previous ones – the success was real enough. I owned it. And I came to expect it, I think; like I had reached the next level of raiding and had nowhere to go but up.

This… despite the warning signs: easy tier would not be repeated, some pretty good people left the team, we are a casual guild, teammates didn’t all race to a raid-ready state at the same pace, etc.

Now, in the second raid tier of MoP, I still have those expectations ingrained in me. I still expect that I’m going to play well, that the team is still going to make significant, palpable progress most weeks. And it’s not happening. Certainly, we’ve had our good weeks, and we’ve had our bad. We finished the last tier 9/16, which is something. It’s not was much as I wanted, but we definitely progressed.

What has disappointed me the most, however, is that I feel that I am not playing at the level I need to play in order to really help the team. This, in spite of the fact that I might possibly be playing at a higher level personally than I ever have.

Horridon

A few months ago, “too many buttons” was a hot issue in the hunter community. At the time, I chipped in my two cents, which was that I didn’t mind the massive amount of buttons because I liked the “active” playstyle that the hunter required. I felt the same way about my warrior tank, although I began to feel that prot warriors suffered from “button-itis” even more than hunters. However, as time has passed, I’ve begun to see the wisdom of arguments by Grumpy Elf and Frostheim and others a little more clearly: how having too many buttons dilutes the value of our most valuable shots.

I feel less powerful as a hunter right now. As SV, it seems particularly bad, because, while I feel like I’m prioritizing my abilities correctly, I’m not executing them perfectly, and I don’t know if I ever will, and I don’t know if, at my level, it even matters. With the priority system, certain shots don’t line up correctly a lot of the time. I try to optimize Black Arrow so that it’s applied on CD, keep Serpent Sting up, use Glaive Toss and Explosive Shot on CD, utilize my long CDs to give me the largest advantage, and so on.

But fights like Horridon expose some of the weaknesses of the spec that are hidden by the more obvious strengths (traps/kiting, movement, Serpent Spread/AoE, overall “damage-meter-ness,” etc.). In particular, burst-on-demand (along with interrupting) is somewhat difficult, in my opinion. In a fight where the priority is to burn down several different types of adds, with different size health pools and different types of abilities that can harm the raid team, I feel that I am struggling to contribute like I want to.

I know that this is not a problem that hunters alone have, but in some ways it feels like the “take your time to slow-cook a bunch of DPS ingredients into a delicious, high-damage chili” SV recipe isn’t very optimal when your goals switch around rapidly from “burn/interrupt the baselisk” to “burn the wastewalker” to “burn the second wastewalker” to “burn/interrupt the dinomancer” to “burn the rest of the adds, including the remaining 1.5 wastewalkers and two-three baselisks and the other dudes.” If LnL procs, well that’s nice. But a LnL won’t burn down any of those adds, and it’s not always a reliable proc anyway, because the OT is moving the adds away from Sand Traps, so Explosive Trap might be a wasted BA CD, but Black Arrow on the wrong add could be half of a wasted CD if it dies quickly, so I could put it on Horridon, but it would be nice to have BA on your focus target because that’s more damage on that target…

Thrill of the Hunt helps, because if it’s up and LnL procs you can do some decent damage to a target with Explosive Shots and Arcanes (or the occasional Multi-Shot). But if they don’t proc in a particular situation, it’s like a small burst followed by relatively weak DoTs, a Cobra Shot or two, and so on. Even with Ice Trap down and CDs like Rapid Fire and Lynx Rush in use, I feel frustrated by those adds, given the limited time available between spawns.

– – –

So anyway, that’s just an example of one of the frustrating things about playing that I’ve been dealing with. I’m wracking my brain and scouring the internet for ways to improve my contribution on this fight. Kheldul (at Hunter-DPS) has a great post with strategies for hunters on Horridon, and I ate that up late last week (thanks a ton, man!!). Watched a lot of videos for possible raid strategy tweaks. I’ve been pretty aggressive about gearing, given my limited options, in order to give myself the best chance of putting out some heavy damage on this fight.

And we did well as a team last night, improving enough to get to the third door once or twice (whereas last week we almost always died on the first). Definite progress on a tough fight, and I’m proud of my team.

But I am definitely feeling the “Mushan, dude, you are not awesome” feelings. I’m feeling somewhat limited by both my class and my level of skill. I certainly don’t feel like a hero.

Maybe I’m being too closed-minded, and every other class is struggling with my struggles as well, and finding ways to overcome them. If that’s true, then that’s even more evidence that I’m not doing my job correctly.

– – –

Being a small part of the hunter blogging community, as I mentioned before, contributes to this. While empowering on some levels, it also adds a bit to my disappointment because I came to the blogosphere’s (and by that, I mean you, the reader’s) knowledge as a hunter working on heroic content.

Well, I am not at that level, folks. And that makes me feel sheepish, and I hope that none of my readers thinks that I am some awesome hunter, because I’m not. I want to be, but I’m not. And while it was never my intention, if someone thinks I used to be awesome, the truth is that I’ve generally always been a passably good hunter (since I started Mushan), and I continue to improve – and I’m way better than I was in 2011! – but my level of play is not what you may have thought it was.

– – –

To close, I don’t feel awesome about my play right now, and I’m not sure what to do about it except to keep doing the things I do (practice and research) to improve my contribution to the guild’s efforts. This doesn’t by any stretch mean that I am thinking of changing toons – although watching the damage our Frost mage can do to the adds is fun – because there is no class I could play as well as this one. And even if I could, there is no toon that I have that is anywhere close to as geared as Mushan. But that doesn’t matter: I’m a hunter, so class is a non-issue.

It just means that I am struggling with feelings of frustration with my own personal limitations. The illusion of awesomeness within me needs to fade soon, because I’m tired of feeling like I am under-performing and being disappointed with it. The reality is, I am where I am, both self and situation, and, while that doesn’t mean that I can’t/won’t strive to improve, I need to curb my expectations. Yes, we succeeded at easier content. It was easier, pure and simple. This is the real, no-nerf, no-cakewalk WoW world we are dealing with, and I can’t expect to make the same progress that I did at that time.

Hopefully some parts of this post made sense to someone.

– – –

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


The wrong motivation

A while ago, I ranked on Feng-10N as a SV hunter.

I’m not going to deny it – it was awesome. It was particularly so because I was not expecting it to happen. It was the first time I had ever ranked, and you can only ever have that first time once.

Since then, I haven’t ranked on anything. For a short time, this caused me to wonder if my damage was going down, but it hasn’t been. There are just more guilds beating Feng – and therefore more hunters – and so I can’t seem to crack the top 200. Which is fine, because that’s not my motivation.

Ranking again would be cool. Killing more bosses would be way, way cooler.

However, last night something happened which caused me to consider doing something this weekend that, upon reflection, seems asinine.

What happened was that a player I know ranked ridiculously high on Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. When I heard about it, I checked WoL and found that this person – normally a situation-appropriate SV/BM hunter – ranked as MM.

It was an interesting temptation. My girlfriend said, rather flippantly, “I guess if you want to rank, go as MM.”

Yeah, I thought. I could spend a couple of days practicing, and then bring a new MM version of Mushan into Mogu’shan Vaults, etc. on Saturday night. Most people don’t play MM anyway, right? If I applied myself, I could probably get my name on a few of the charts. My heart was momentarily excited.

Then, within a few short moments, I came plummeting back down to earth and realized that that was probably one of the dumber ideas I had had in the past year or so.

Yes, maybe I could rank on a few fights. Maybe I could rank on Zor’lok, too.

But would we even kill him, if I fought him in MM spec?

– – –

As a guild, we’ve defeated Zor’lok three times. The last time he died, which was last Sunday, it was the closest we’ve had to a full guild run / our regular team. He’s still rough – we’re fine until the floor phase, and then it gets shaky. I’m playing as close to the top of my game as I can, trying to avoid damage and deal as much damage as possible myself. Everyone is the same – we’re all playing with lightning at our finger-tips, dancing around and fighting as well as we can, trying to kill him before he kills us.

Taking MM Mushan into a fight like that would be a bad thing for several reasons.

1. It’s a selfish, stupid f@%king reason to play a spec like that. For serious.

2. I’d like to play MM again someday, but I’ve played SV consistently for more than a year now, and even with the changes the spec/class has gone through, I’ve been constantly familiar with it – SV fits me as close to a glove as any spec could in this game right now. On the other hand, even the idea of playing MM seems foreign to me right now, and at this time I don’t necessarily think I really even want to play the spec.

3. Making my teammates work harder to kill any of the bosses – even the “easier” ones – goes against how I view my role in raids, ethically and even morally. And it’s almost certain that I would be less effective playing Marks than I am as SV.

4. Who really gives a crap if I rank on anything in 10N? Or on any fight? You don’t, do you? No, you don’t. None of the other hunters, whether they themselves rank or not, cares if I rank. My guildies really don’t care if I rank. Nobody cares if I rank.

I don’t even really care if I rank, to be honest.

5. Ranking as MM would feel hollow.

I know that BM is supposed to be the best spec, but SV is the best spec for me, and I bring my best “me” to my raid team when I’m playing SV.

And the truth is that most hunters are playing SV or BM, which is evidenced by things such as the fact that the threshold for ranking as MM on Zor’lok-10N, as of last night, was only 64,268 DPS(e) – a number that, as SV, I regularly top by a good 15-18K. The threshold for ranking as SV was 94,523 as of Sunday night, which is a full 47% higher than the MM threshold. There is an obvious disparity there – the true competition is in the SV/BM ranking charts. And so, really, I don’t even know that I would feel good at all if I managed to rank on anything as MM – as a “bigger fish in a relatively smaller pond” – particularly when taking into consideration the potential detriment that my inexperience with MM and my lack of usual performance could hurt my team.

So it turned out to be a pretty bad idea. Thankfully, I didn’t try it.

– – –

To those who love and excel at playing Marksmanship, I salute you. I would love to play MM and play it well, but right now I’m sticking with SV, rankings be damned. SV feels right, and it also feels like the right thing to do. Someday, I’m sure I’ll pick up MM and give it a whirl, but it will be for the love of the spec and the game, not because I want to try to faceroll* onto an ultimately meaningless rankings chart.

*Not saying I would definitely faceroll onto the MM charts – I’m just self-directing some sarcasm with that comment.

– – –

Thanks for reading this (description of a thought process) by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


The luck, and the lack thereof

T14 4p - Woot!

T14 4p – Woot!

On Monday morning, I was playing my mage – doing my farming at Halfhill, actually – when the call went out for a Sha of Anger group. I took the invite and, upon using my bonus roll, was awarded the Tier 14 leg token.

Now, my luck on this mage has been pretty good, if I may say so myself. Playing him casually, compared to the hunter, I’ve managed to get him up to ilvl 481. With the 4-piece bonus. 

Mushan, on the other hand, has three pieces of T14.

Sonofa…

I can’t get T14 Protector shoulders to drop from Lei Shi to save my life, in spite of faithful weekly kills and rolls, just like I can’t get Feng (FENG!)** to to cough up his mail boots. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining or bitter, because I’ve had some pretty nice luck with Mushan, with a Sha-Touched weapon and gem, three tier pieces (including two 496’s from Sha of Anger and the 496 helm from Sha of Fear), 489 belt-amulet-cloak-bracers from Mogu’shan Vaults… considering what we’ve killed, I’ve made out very well.

**From Convert to Raid. Awesome, awesome podcast. Listen to it, or you’re missing out on the awesome.

It’s just funny how things work when it comes to RNG. My mage has, at most, a third of the effort put into him that has gone into Mushan in this expansion, and he’s got the 4-piece. Of course, he doesn’t have a nice purple weapon, and his gear has some holes here and there, but he gets by. He gets by just fine.  ;)

After dabbling with Fire for a short bit and being seriously turned off by how sluggish it felt compared to my hunter, I’ve been full-on Frost DPS on Modhriel since shortly after I hit 90. I enjoy it very much; it plays fast, which makes it a lot of fun, and I’ve found that I can hold my own in situations like LFR, dungeons, or Sha groups. It’s great that all three mage specs are generally viable now, because, since I enjoy the way that Survival plays – pretty active – Frost mage is a nice approximation, at least as far as pacing goes. The mage isn’t a raiding toon in the strictest sense, but I think I could raid with it, and while I don’t have the level of expertise (and I use that term relatively) and experience with mages that I do with hunters, I still feel comfortable enough that I could jump into Mogu’shan Vaults, at least, and be effective.

So… this isn’t a bitter post, by any stretch. I’m very happy with where my hunter is, gear-wise, so I write this from a happy place. I’m thrilled that this toon has the 4-piece – how could I not be? I just think it’s funny how RNG works: I grind and grind for a couple of things on the hunter, over the course of months, to no avail, but the mage is like, “Yes, I’ll take one of those, and one of those…” It makes me chuckle!

Good times in Pandaria. Indeed.

– – –

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


No, and yes. A tale of two raid weekends

The weekend before Christmas was pretty terrible for our raid team.

We killed a grand total of three bosses in almost six hours of raiding on the nights of December 22 and 23. I am trying to decide if I even want to talk about it in detail. It was frustrating, having to substitute some less-than-optimal players for those who either were AWOL or, in the case of one of our friends, had a really sick dog. The substitution game resulted in some pretty unspectacular results when combined with the fact that we really only have the first four bosses in Mogu’shan on farm at this point.

All in all, it was a mostly forgettable experience. And that, my friends, is all I’ll say about the first weekend. On to the second (better) part of my tale.

Last Saturday

So this past weekend (December 29 and 30) was a different story, for the most part. While we made no real progress in Heart of Fear (1/6), we had a breakthrough in Mogu’shan Vaults. A breakthrough, a success – but there’s a catch. More on that later.

On Saturday, we were missing a damage dealer (our monk, who may have quit the game for all we know). With no real options for DPS substitutes that night, we invited Daggan, a friend of ours who tanks for / leads my girlfriend’s main raid team, which is one of the better teams on the server (but wasn’t running that week due to the holidays). We had two tanks already, so we had our DK tank switch to Frost, and proceeded to have little trouble killing our Mogu’shan farm bosses, clearing to Elegon, and having a few goes at him.

Since their guild is already well into heroic modes, Daggan was able to explain the Elegon encounter in a way that helped some of our raiders who probably weren’t as comfortable with certain mechanics, including killing sparks and pillars, clearing stacks, and so on. After a few tries, during which Daggan was encouraging and instructive, we ironed out some things before calling it a night.

Sunday

Sunday night, one of our warriors was a scheduled absence, and his scheduled replacement never logged in (the story of our lives, at this point), so we scrambled for a bit before picking up a warlock named Des, also from my girlfriend’s raid team. This excited me to no end, because these guys are very good, and have great gear. I got some comments about having someone to compete with on the charts, but – and I don’t know if some people think I am happy to be doing 10%-50% more damage than everyone else on our team, but I’m not – I was very interested in seeing how we could do with a powerhouse DPS in the raid.

We started with Elegon, and, on our third attempt…

Elegon, December 30, 2012

Elegon, December 30, 2012 **

—we got him!

/queue cheering!

It was awesome. With Des there providing experience and firepower, and by working together as a team, we executed the strategy almost to the letter on the kill. We did have a couple of casualties toward the end, but it was a very satisfying kill, all things considered.

We then proceeded to one-shot Will of the Emperor. Not much to say about that – Mogu’shan Vaults 6/6.

We spent the rest of the evening in a series of epic battles against Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, ending the night with a kill where he died, and then the last living raiders died. Yes, it was one of those… but it was nice to at least end with a kill rather than getting so heartbreakingly close and failing, as we seem to be doing so often on that fight.

A personal achievement

Something happened on Saturday night which I never imagined would happen.

A little back story: we started logging our raid nights at World of Logs several weeks ago after Squido asked me to do so, in order to have a better idea of where we go wrong in certain areas of our individual and collective play. At the time, Squido told me that his biggest problem with WoL was forgetting to start recording the combat log, and that has come to be the biggest problem for me as well. As such, if you were to check out our guild at WoL, you’d see that some nights are not logged, and others are missing the first boss, or the first two bosses. /sigh. But overall, it has been interesting to be able to look at my own performances and use the information to tweak and improve my play.

Anyway, after Saturday’s run, I uploaded the log, and soon noticedHoly crap, I ranked on Feng!

As I said a few sentences up, I never imagined that I would ever rank on a fight. I didn’t rank “high” – but apparently I did well enough to show up on the Survival hunter list. Whatever it means to whomever, it was exciting for me. I don’t try to “rank” when I play, but I do my best to execute both strategy and damage to serve the needs of the team from fight to fight, and so this was a nice result to have within that context.

“The catch”

All in all, it was a good weekend. It was nice to break the wall down and finally finish up Mogu’shan for reals.

However, the catch is that we have to replace one of our regular DPS with another, and we won’t have Daggan or Des with us again, since they were back to business as usual with their own team last night. Even going back to our normal roster would mean that we’d have a great deal less damage and a much less experienced tank, so I wonder if we’ll be able to replicate the feats of last weekend any time soon. We shall see.

It was really nice to run with someone who could smash the charts on Sunday. I was happy to be able to relax, play my game, and know that there was someone killing it DPS-wise – and I think I played better because of that.

As I’ve said before, doing a bulk of the damage on boss fights has become something of a heavy burden for me. Of course, that’s easier to swallow when we succeed. But progression has been slow this tier, and while the ups make me feel somewhat heroic, the downs make me feel like I’m not doing enough. It’s not necessarily logical to feel that way, but in the absence of change, “it is what it is” means that I need to keep pushing myself.

Hopefully we’ll continue to have some success before this tier of raiding becomes irrelevant. Patch 5.2 is probably close enough that we won’t clear T14 by the time Throne of Thunder opens up. And I’m all kinds of excited about Throne of Thunder – which is purportedly “the new Ulduar” – but that excitement is tempered by the heavy doses of reality we suffer from week to week.

I’ll say it right here: I want to defeat every boss in Throne of Thunder. Normal mode, not Raid Finder. We’ll see what happens in the near future.

** My UI looks a mess in that screenshot, I know. But a third of that stuff is hidden in combat, so it’s not really as bad as it looks. ^-^

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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.

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