My favorite raid encounters as a hunter in Mists…

All of them.

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

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

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok

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

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

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

Lei Shi

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

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

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


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

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

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

So, so condescending. I love it.

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

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

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

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

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

Me and my Thunderhawk

Me and my Thunderhawk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alt appreciation: Dungeon Week

Droignon has Haze of Hate! Eh, I went with it. :D

Droignon has Haze of Hate! Eh, I went with it. :D

Preface: Laeleiweyn suggested recently that we altoholics could collectively celebrate alts, either on blogs, Twitter, or by starting/playing them in-game, over the course of eleven weeks starting on August 19th, and ending November 3rd. Each week will be themed by class – week one for DKs, week two for druids, week three for hunters, etc. 

It’s a fantastic idea, although I do not have an alt for every class. Furthermore, while I love the idea, I don’t have the interest in playing or doing things in-game with certain alts just because it’s a focus during a certain week. It’s just not how I operate.

Nonetheless, I’m an altoholic, and I have several alts that I play on something of a regular basis. I have 7 90s, for goodness’ sake. So while this week is #HunterWeek – and there are sure to be a ton of great hunter-related things going on in-game and around the interwebs (check out the hashtag all week for the latest news!) – I’m putting my own spin on it this week, because my hunter is my main, and the love of my WoW-life, and he gets appreciated here at Mushan, Etc. so much that he’s developed a bit of a complex at this point!

Therefore, without further ado…

…this week is Dungeon Week in my world.

With Patch 5.4 now just a week away, I’ve been prepping the troops. With goals in mind for some of them – some of which are long-held ideas, while others are newer (*cough* @ the mage) – I’ve been getting ready for 5.4 in several ways.

Goal #1 is to get the toons I’m interested in playing in 5.4 Valor-capped. While Mushan has been capped for weeks, I’ve been working the DK pretty hard, buying him the Shado-pan trinket last week and then capping, with 800 to go to hit 3000 this week. I have three other toons that are close to the cap, and I think I should have no trouble VP-capping them all before the 10th.

Goal #2 is to get as many Justice Points on these toons as possible pre-patch. This includes Mushan, for reasons I will describe below. Disregarding him for the moment, the reason for this is that pre 5.2 Valor gear will be purchasable with JP in 5.4. And while this means less than nothing to Mushan, my alts are each in a position to use some of this gear in some way or another; even my druid and warrior, who won’t sacrifice set bonuses for “Justice” gear, have off-specs that can use that level of gear to fill in OS slots.

With these things in mind, I offer a completely self-interested look at my main/fave toons and their states of preparation, and my plans for them for this week.

Mushan (SV hunter – duh? :P ); ilvl 535; 3000 VP; 543 JP; 3908 HP

Mushan has been a pretty bored archer lately. Not much raidin’ goin’ on, no new gear when he has raided, and so on. However, I recently took him to Stormwind in order to swap as much JP as possible for Honor, because one of the changes coming in 5.4 will be that it takes 500 JP to buy 250 Honor, which is a nerf to JP, I suppose. I haven’t PvP’d much at all since 5.2 dropped, but I don’t want to completely discount the idea that I may actually want to do so in 5.4. So I’ve put myself in the best position possible regarding Honor: I’m almost capped, should be able to pick up 2-3 496 pieces right off the bat after the patch, and then continue to fill out the PvP set from that point on.

Since he’s already Valor-capped, it’s highly likely that he will not work to snag any more JP through dungeons or any other means this week, but I’ve maxed out my conversions at this point anyway, so the rest can come once I actually need more JP for more post-nerf conversions…

Droignon (Prot warrior); ilvl 507 (prot) 477 (fury); 2765 VP; 1808 JP

Droignon hasn’t gotten much love lately. Since playing him is somewhat arthritis-inducing (/nods at Hass for the reference), and I’ve been working on the DK lately, Droig has mainly done his Halfhill stuff and not much else. However, he’s still someone I take seriously – he is a frickin’ huge night elf warrior, after all… I kid, I kid – and so I’ll be making sure he’s VP-capped. Seriously, it’s not going to take much effort. I’ll probably get there solely from Halfhill Ironpaw dailies and tripping over rares on the Isle of Thunder. And the fury spec is a joke, the way I play it, and not of much importance. So he may sit out of dungeons this week, but you never know – I may take him into a couple on the short path to the cap, in order to get a few more JP.

Anacrusa (Resto druid); ilvl 506 (resto) 480 (guardian); 2588 VP; 1186 JP

Like Droig, Ana has been keeping a low profile lately (/glares at Saldrahn…). And my biggest problem with her in 5.4 will not be gear, but rather learning to use Swiftmend as the insta-heal that it will solely be at that point. Nevertheless, I’ve been debating how I will go about actually reaching the cap with this one; this may be hard to believe, but she has healed exactly zero dungeons in MoP. I’ve healed scenarios and Champions of the Thunder King groups with her, but the vast majority of my healing experience has come in Raid Finder this expansion, which is why my JP-fund is so anemic. The Guardian spec, which is my questing spec, is in need of some hole-filling, so JP will still be important to some extent. So I may try to take her into a few dungeons this week, in order to grab some extra JP for that gear set. Because seriously, folks, questing as a guardian sucks extra-hard, and the better the DPS I can pull / the more mobs I can handle at once, the better.

Modhriel (Frost mage); ilvl 486; 2192 VP; 2077 JP

This is where the dungeon-running is going to get extra-serious. This is where Mushan’s Dungeon Week comes into its own.

Modhriel has, with very few exceptions, been sitting at the furthest, loneliest end of the bench since 5.2 happened. For proof, checking his armory shows that he has killed each of the first six bosses in ToT-LFR exactly one time. And that’s it. While I did open up Isle of Thunder with him, I set him down before I had enough VP and rep to buy anything. He has exactly zero pieces of 522 gear on. Poor guy…

With all of the time I spent on my hunters, warrior, druid, and DK during this tier, Modhriel took the back seat, limiting the sum total of his activity beyond April to Halfhill and cloth cooldowns. However, I jumped on him this weekend and ran a few dungeons, and MAN was it fun! He hasn’t gotten any gear in months, but he still absolutely ripped face. And I remember him doing well the couple of times I took him into ToT as well. I realized that I missed him this past weekend, so I think that, with my raiding picture a bit clearer now (since Ghilleadh the Worgen Hunter is done raiding), Modhriel is going to be back in play in 5.4. I’d like to cap his Valor and Justice this week, so that he can be on the road to being eligible for LFR as soon as it launches.

Good times…

Saldrahn (Blood death knight): ilvl 480; 2200 VP; 390 JP

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a lot of fun with this toon. I’m a death knight fan now. However, this toon is a fun, casual toon, and I’m looking forward to playing him in dungeons in 5.4.

My personality, though, is one which compels me to gear him as fast as possible, even though there is no pressing purpose for doing so. I’m fighting this compulsion with everything I have. The last thing I need is to hit a complete roadblock with yet another toon, held back by LFR and LFR alone. He’s not a raider, and he’s not a sub, and he’s always been for fun, so I’m going to take it easy with him post-patch. However, since there is almost nothing going on right now otherwise, I’ve been working hard recently to get him some gear and get him Valor-capped for 5.4 (I can’t help that!). The JP can come now or later, though. I don’t really care which. So I may do some dungeons if I get bored toward the end of the week. Or I might save him for later. Either way, I win, because it’ll be fun to continue to progress him casually.

Level 90 toons “not pictured:” other hunter (going somewhat dormant); paladin (is always dormant).

Ghilleadh is done with normal-/heroic-mode raiding. I’m back to only raiding on weekends with Mushan and my normal team, and that’s it. So in a 100% anti-#HunterWeek fashion, I’m relegating him – my “other 90 hunter” – back to “make enchants for me, farm turtle meat, and do Fatty Goatsteak dailies”-status. And I’m fine with that. For several reasons – some of which are completely unrelated to him, but others of which are definitely all about him – I haven’t enjoyed him anywhere close to as much as I enjoy Mushan.

And the pally is, as I mentioned above, always dormant. Always there to make flasks and potions and do transmutes for me, but otherwise, yeah… dormant.

I have no qualms about either of those situations.

So the plan for this week is to get three toons VP-capped, picking up some JP along the way. I like heroic dungeons, and queues don’t seem to be long right now even for DPS, so it should be a fun week.

I’ll shut up now. This turned into quite a long post!

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

Thinking stat-less gear while fighting H Tortos

The past few weeks, I’ve been filling in with a heroic raiding guild on my alt hunter, Ghilleadh.

Ghilleadh isn’t the best geared wolf out there. While his ilvl has risen to 508 over the past few weeks, with a Thunderforged weapon and 2p T15 bonus, he has nothing from the legendary questline, still has two blue pieces, and so on. Compared with Mushan, he’s still almost a tier behind, average ilevel-wise. And of course, he is way behind on the legendary.

The experience of bringing this alt with that guild has been mostly positive, with large doses of caveat-ish-ness stemming from the fact that it feels like I’m playing with my arm tied behind my back. I get absolutely smoked on the meters, which is symptomatic of the fact that I simply do not have the kind of power that I am accustomed to playing with, relative to the content.

Other symptoms include feeling like I am shooting the adds on H Horridon with a wet noodle, shooting the turtles on H Tortos with a wet noodle… in other words, Mushan has many advantages – although those advantages are largely the result of many months of persistence and hard work – over Ghilleadh when it comes to gear and power and so on.

I’m trying not to let it bother me when I run with these people, and, in all honesty, it’s relatively easy to do so for farm content, where my under-geared presence doesn’t necessarily hamper their evening.

However, on heroic progression content, each person’s damage matters. And when poor damage directly affects mechanical performance during the fight, my predicament with Ghilleadh and his poor gear is laid bare.

Case in point: H Tortos.

Last week and this week, we’ve been smashing our faces against H Tortos. As a ranged player, my responsibility is to ensure that turtles die. As the worst damage dealer (by a long shot), my other responsibility is to ensure that turtles are kicked at appropriate times. And as a person on the team, my third responsibility is to ensure that I get a Crystal Shell on me in enough time that it can be fully charged before each Quake Stomp.

There is no priority for this. They are all my number one priorities…

I’m fine with the Crystal Shell. Although there are times when the turtles are buttholes and knock me around while I’m trying to have my shell charged, it’s something I can generally handle.

Kicking turtles and killing turtles are a little more difficult. By the way, this is not because I stink at kicking turtles, per se. I’ve been kicking turtles just fine for weeks, and when I consider all of the experience I’ve gotten with them, the isolated act of aiming and kicking is pretty simple. However, since I am not very powerful, it takes longer than I would like it to, just to kill them. I mean, I pop CDs on turtles in order to help us not wipe on the first Ferocious Stone Breath. And although we can almost always accomplish that, there are the other turtles to deal with – including the fact that sometimes, they will take me out right when I’m ready to interrupt the breath, in spite of my best efforts to make them think I’m not going to be there (at the point of the kicking) when the time comes. This is the joy of H Tortos; or rather, it is one of them.

I have a hard time not believing that if I were attempting the same task with Mushan (and his much-better damage), Skull Turtle would be long-dead, and X Turtle would be dead – or close to it – by the time I needed to interrupt the first breath.

This is what I mean when I talk about gear affecting mechanical performance.

Last night, during our many attempts on this repair-bill-piñata, I started thinking about my situation (under-geared heroic raiding) and its relevance to the far-fetched (for WoW) notion of getting rid of stats altogether, and the raid tuning issues that could come from massive changes to the way WoW works in this regard.

(It may have been a huge stretch, but bear with me, because even if it is, I still thought about it!)

As the game stands, here’s what I bring to the table with Mushan: a good player with generally good awareness, knowledge of the fight, properly gemmed/enchanted/reforged, and appropriate gear level.

With Ghilleadh, it looks similar: same player, same awareness, same knowledge, same gemming/enchanting/reforging, not very close to the proper gear level.

With Mushan, whose gear is fairly close to the levels of the other toons, I would fit in seemlessly. I am at the same level, relatively, in almost every regard, to the other team members – including having reached the end of the legendary questline to-date.

With Ghilleadh, there is one glaring issue. Mentally I fit in, but physically (in game) I just cannot approach the level of power that the rest of the team has.

OK, I think that’s fairly clear.

So I was thinking: what if, in a vacuum, Blizzard demolished the idea of stats on gear, while leaving the raiding structure the same? Meaning, of course, that leveling < heroic dungeons < Raid Finder < raids < heroic raids, as far as the hierarchy of group content goes…

The reason behind this thought was, if it was all about skill, and I were a good enough player, I could take my other hunter into a heroic raid, learn the fight, and perform as well as my main hunter would. (Ah, the simplistic thoughts we think sometimes…)

I could kill turtles just as fast, kill adds on Horridon just as fast… There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…

Wait, what? Sorry, I was fading off there for a moment…

It couldn’t actually happen in a vacuum, obviously. While some people have advocated for such a change in WoW, Ghostcrawler has consistently maintained that gear progression is so ingrained in the game that it would be tough to remove it. (I’m paraphrasing here).

I don’t have a quote for that, but I know that I’ve seen his short comments about it here and there, and my interpretation of those comments has always been something along the lines of “Yeah, I guess people are so used to looting and bringing their item level/gear score up that it would take a huge chunk of fun out of the game, and I guess they’d have to come up with new ways for us to get our power, and, ah, yeah, (I guess I don’t care about this enough to think about it much more than I already have)…”

But last night, as I was thinking about it, I realized that, on the surface, GC’s words (as I remember them) only hint at how this would affect the game. Because the truth is that this would fundamentally change the game at its core.

At its core… beyond the “me want lootz” nature of WoW as we have always known it. :)

Changing WoW to a game without stats on gear would not be as simple as we might think. The tuning process for everything combat-related would have to be rebuilt. This includes PvP, where, in a vacuum-like situation (with the game as it is), if we just took all our armor off, wore tuxedos and/or holiday/RP (stat-less) clothing, and fought one another at level 90 with starting zone weapons, players might never die. We’d have a lot less health, but we’d have much, much less power.

There would have to be major changes to how players get their power. There has to be some power in the game, after all. It might be a system similar to talents, like in other video games where you put points into abilities you want to use, or where you fill up a strength or magic or skill bar with experience until it is full.

There would have to be major changes to bosses and boss progression. In my example, while Mushan is geared for heroic T15 content, Ghilleadh is not. In our new version of WoW, it seems to me that boss fights would have to be based less on power and more on skill. People might complain about “the Dance (TM)” in the current game, but our new WoW’s bosses would be all about strategy, skill, execution… heroic bosses couldn’t be X times as powerful as normal bosses, because we might not be X times more powerful than we were when we took on their regular counterparts, because we weren’t getting “better” gear.

Now, I could see some change where, in a 12 boss raid, you get a slightly more powerful weapon when you kill the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth bosses, each with more power than the one before, allowing for some power progression. But ultimately, boss fighting would become even less about power and more about skill and execution than it is now, possibly vastly more so.

I’m just scratching the surface of this topic. And, while I wrote the first half-dozen paragraphs of this post last night after two hours of smash-face-against-H-Tortos, I don’t remember everything that went through my mind during and after the raid, unfortunately.

But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I understand that the notion of a stat-less gear version WoW is a notion of a very different game, to the point where if it happened, it would probably have to happen in a WoW 2 or something.

People float the idea of getting rid of stats on gear from time to time, and it’s an interesting idea. However, the amount of work that would have to go into it is difficult to fathom from this side of the dev/player divide, because of how such a fundamental change to how we kill things in-game would affect so many parts of the game, including how drastically the things we kill would have to be changed as well.

Additionally, it would be a huge change for players. After years of progression, in part, through gear – at every combat-related level of gameplay, from leveling to HMs – such a change, if pulled off by the devs, would still be a massive shock to players’ familiarity with WoW. Financially, it would probably not be a good idea, both from the perspectives of “time investment vs. moving the game/story/action forward” and whether all of that work would be worth the money for them as a company / attract new players / retain old ones…

…although it sounds like a fantastic idea for a new game.


The item squish theme is making the rounds again in the worldwide WoW community, and many are predicting that it will be a significant feature in 6.0 and the as-yet-unannounced next expansion. I don’t generally have any pressing thoughts about the subject, because I would rather hear what the devs have to say now – as opposed to what they were saying about it two or three years ago – before I ponder it too much. I am interested to see where they go with it, if it is indeed something that we’re going to see in the near future.

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

Lei Shen!

Nos Consensio, victorious over Lei Shen at last!

Nos Consensio, victorious over Lei Shen at last!

The month of July saw my guild methodically work through the first nine bosses of Throne of Thunder. All nine bosses, all the trash, all the fun. Again and again.

With progression in mind, Squido decided to extend last week’s lockout in order to put some time in on Iron Qon. After a late start on Saturday night, we downed IQ in just a few tries, one-shot the Twin Consorts (unsurprisingly), and pulled Lei Shen a few times.

On Sunday night, we started at our normal time. I didn’t think to keep track of how many pulls we made, but I think it was around 10 or 12. Each couple of pulls, we made significant progress – tanks coordinating taunts and movement, people handling their quadrant assignments better and better – and on one of the final pulls, we made it out of the end of the second intermission, only to suffer massive deaths at or around the first Thunderstruck on phase 3.

Then, it all came together. We lost a healer at the beginning of phase 3, when the server lagged hard for several seconds. We thought all was lost… but when the server caught up to us, 9 were still alive, and we persevered through the Lightning Whips and Thunderstrucks and Ball Lightnings and Gale Winds to take him down!

In addition to my teammates who were seeing the fight for the first time rapidly familiarizing with the mechanics, what was great was the level of communication over vent. In spite all of the calls for stacks and taunts and so on, it never got really chaotic on that final attempt, and so the communication was extremely effective.

Despite the fact that I’ve already killed Lei Shen with friends in another raid group a few times, killing him last night and getting the guild first was the most epic boss kill experience I’ve been a part of in MoP! Just getting it done with my friends was awesome, but overcoming that lag spike in phase 3 made it that much more thrilling, and I was super-pumped!

After a very slow start to the expansion – we started Tier 15 having gone a grueling 10/16 in Tier 14 – we are just about where we need to be going into 5.4. It’s great to see the true progress we’ve made in the last several months. This is what we play for!

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

The return of Kharta!

Due to the makeup of our raid team, I’ve usually been tasked with bringing Aloysius the Sporebat for the billion damage to bosses in their man-parts spell haste buff. On rarer rogue-less/dk-less occasions, I’ve used Dimples the Hyena. And on one super-rare occasion, where we had no mage (and we never run with a windwalker or cat/bear druid), I got to bring along my old friend Basil the Wolf.

Well, last night – for what was quite possibly the first time in all of my normal mode raiding* for this expansion – I summoned the rarely seen but still mighty-as-time frostsaber, Kharta…

Kharta the Frostsaber

Kharta the Frostsaber!

…and for a brief moment, it was like old times. I raided with him quite a bit more in Cataclysm, before cats were reduced to bringing the mastery buff. It may fit, lore-wise, I suppose… but with all of the paladins and shaman out there, giving mastery to cats was a giant kick in the balls to both cats and 10-man raiding hunters all around the world of Warcraft. It’s a crime and a damn shame, and I’ll stick to that story till they change it, which will probably be never.

*LFR doesn’t count, and I usually bring Dimples in LFR anyway, because I figure that if all of the rogues/dks/other hyenas (yeah, like people actually choose to use hyenas in LFR haHAHahahaha…) die, I’ll still have a haste buff.

So what’s so special about Kharta? Nothing other than these two cold hard facts: he looks awesome, and he is awesome. He’s not an exotic – I tamed him (along with two or three other cats) back when I was doing the Frostsaber Trainers dailies in Winterspring during Cataclysm, and he became my favorite pet. I like how he looks with my hunter, too – the bits of purple trim on my Gryphon Mail and his frosty purple glow are very complementary, in my opinion.

And of course, I have a matching mount for him, too!

Hopefully, I’ll have more opportunities to raid with Kharta, even if, like last night, it’s simply because all of the buffs that I could bring are covered by the rest of the raid. It’s not as if raiding without him is ruining my raid experience – at this point, I’ve even become somewhat fond of Aloysius and Dimples – but there’s nothing quite like an awesome cat at the side of a night elf hunter.

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

Growing pains on Heroic Ji-Kun

When doing H Ji-Kun last week on my alt hunter, I made a lot of stupid mistakes as part of nest group 2, as I mentioned in my previous post. These mistakes led to wipes at times, and I was beyond frustrated.

My frustration was probably exacerbated by the fact that, while this group has killed H Ji-Kun several times, and I had no real experience with the fight, I was expecting to be successful without much experience. In reality, I hadn’t gone through the learning process at the same time they did. I was, in fact, way behind. And on heroic fights, not having mastered mechanics is even less forgiving than it is on normals, and I was making all kinds of dumb mistakes. The worst was not jumping down to nest two (also nest eight) correctly. I would not get the jump off the platform correctly and miss the nest entirely, resulting in periods of pulling at my hair helplessly while my hunter spun upwards towards death during Quills. As I said in that post, it was very, very frustrating. My self confidence was pretty low at that point.

It was probably a somewhat unreasonable way to think about myself, but, if nothing else, it motivated me.

After the fact, I reflected on it, and reminded myself that it was really my first time. And I thought about some fixes to my problem, with the idea that I would make staying alive and correctly getting to nests my top priorities the next time we did the fight.

Last night, after spending three hours wiping on H Tortos the previous night, I got my chance to prove that I had learned something. And in one pull, I proved to myself that I had somewhat overreacted (internally/emotionally) to my failures during the previous week’s attempts.

The keys to my successes/failures were two-fold: 1) I needed to use or take advantage of a speed boost when going to lower nests, and 2) I needed to have an awareness of which nests I was responsible for.

Part 2 was easy enough. Nest team 2 only has four nests, and so once I got into my head that nest 9 is both upper and lower, and watched my timers, and kept track of the tanks, I was fine.

Part 1 was an execution thing, and I managed to get it down just fine. On the first lower nest, I used Darkflight. On the second one, I ran with the Down Draft and got a nice jump. And aside from that, everything went fine.

It was kind of lame, probably. But I had to go with what I had.

For the upper nests, I found that jumping down and then disengaging onto the main platform was a perfect solution.

The end result was a one-shot – in spite of my still-pathetic damage on that toon – and I didn’t die! I was very happy with the results. Sometimes, the best thing is to step back and think about the situation again, and make adjustments, rather than expecting that ramming yourself against the barrier will somehow produce a different result at some point. I’m glad that I gave it some thought, instead of going in and hoping that I’d simply ‘make the jumps’ this time.

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

Through success and failure

In a post last week, I told you about how I was trying to speed-gear my “other” hunter, Ghilleadh.

There’s a story as to why that was happening, and since that story is winding down, I figure I can talk about it with more than a “this is what I’m going to try to do*” vibe to the post.

*One of my blogging faults, in my opinion.

Over the past month or so, our raid team has missed a couple of weeks. With that in mind, I brought Mushan to a couple of runs with a better-progressed guild, which I have written about already. I got my first full clear, first H Jin’rokh kill, and a couple of nice pieces along the way.

In that small bit of experience, there was some learning going on, on both sides. They learned that I was a competent player. I learned that they were good people to play with. And somewhere along the way, a couple of members of that team thought I was the full-time replacement for their recently-departed hunter. Of course, I was not.

However, getting to clear more content has been awesome. And so the idea was eventually floated, once certain people learned that I have two hunters, that we could gear up the second hunter fairly quickly, to run with them full-time on Tues-Thurs, with Mushan still running with my weekend team.

So last week I ran with them on Ghilleadh.

It was a largely frustrating experience.

Even going in at ilvl 486 – way below everyone else – I had a difficult time being carried. Being a non-contributor is tough for me. Perhaps that’s a personality flaw, at least in this situation, since I was not expected to contribute much. My biggest contributions that first day seemed to be kicking turtles on Tortos, the occasional well-timed Silencing Shot, and not doing dumb stuff to wipe the raid. In general, though, my DPS was, as expected, below the tanks’, despite my best efforts. The worst part, though, was when they decided to do H Ji-kun.

I had very little experience on that fight, and we just went into it, and I was assigned to the second nest team. And I failed all over the place on the nests, for dumb reasons. They are fixable issues, and I’m confident that I’ll be better for the experience when we tackle them this week. However, at the time, I was failing all around, and I hated the way I felt.

In spite of me, they downed Ji-Kun after several attempts, and we finished up the raid a couple of days later with few problems. Along the way, I got six pieces, including the Voice of the Quillen… which means that Ghilleadh already has a better weapon than Mushan. Which irks me. Of course.

Last weekend, my normal team raided, clearing up through Primordius on Saturday and spending most of Sunday night working on Iron Qon. Iron Qon, FYI, is a wall for our team. Just gonna say that right now. And as it stands, it’s on the docket for the entirety of this coming weekend, as we’re extending the lockout. Hopefully we can make some progress.

After the raid on Sunday night, one of the things I noticed was that my arms were very tight. This isn’t uncommon, since I tend to play a little more intensely than is perhaps good for me. However, with it being my fourth day of raiding in this lockout, as opposed to the second, the tightness and pain were a little more pronounced. And I started to think about how I was scheduled to raid again in less than 48 hours…

And I started thinking that a bad RSI (repetitive stress injury) might be in my near future with this type of schedule, which weighed heavily on my mind over the past couple of days. Because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was probably going to have to make a choice.

My choices were:

1) Continue as planned.

2) Pull Mushan out of Nos Consensio’s run and make the weekday raid my regular raid.

3) Decline the opportunity with the other guild and continue running with Nos Consensio, as I have for the past year-and-a-half-plus.

Choice 1 would be the easiest choice, socially. And not so much, physically.

With choice 2: I’m good friends with a couple of people in that guild, and becoming friends with a couple of others. And they even adjusted their raid time slightly to accommodate my potential work schedule. Those factors, combined with my natural predisposition to avoiding being a source of frustration to people (more than I may already be), made choice 2 tempting if choice 1 was going to be off the table.

That, and the fact that my best chance to kill Garrosh Hellscream before Christmas would be with that group, if we’re being totally honest here.

However, there are stronger ties in choice 3. Nos Consensio has given me a home for almost two years now. There are four people on that team (and one occasional substitute) that I’ve been raiding with for more than five years. I’ve built relationships to some degree or another with almost everyone else on the team as well. But the overwhelming factor is those four people in particular.

We are five people left from a splintered Wrath-era guild/raid team. We are good friends and good players. We have a good, long history. And there are two things I feel about playing with those people: a) I am personally committed to them, and have invested much time with them; and b) I want to play with those people.

I decided that I’m going to stay with the Nos Consensio run. I let the other guild know last night, and the raid leader respected my decision. It was tough, because killing at least some current content at heroic level is something I really want to be a part of. However, since I don’t think my hands will be able to handle the weekly stress for very long, and I have to make a choice, there really is no choice.

My girlfriend suggested I play more relaxed during raids. I don’t know if I can do that. If raids were easy mode – and our team was a great team running barely-challenging content – I could do that. Faceroll city would be a great raid for that. However, the point of all of this is to overcome challenges together, and I make sure that I do my part for our team. I don’t know how to not play intensely.

By the way, playing intensely doesn’t necessarily mean I am slamming (or spamming) the keys and mouse buttons. I just think that I am on edge, and my muscles are tense and poised to react, during raids. Sometimes I feel the tension up into my shoulders and neck. And I think that I probably need to have four or five days every week where I take a break from that type of sustained competitive tension.

I still took Ghilleadh with them last night, since I didn’t exactly give them much time to find an alternative. I got my first H Horridon kill with them on our second attempt (the wipe was a healer-DC issue), and did pretty well handling the pink elephant. And I’ll be running with them for the rest of the week, and I assume they will be looking at someone new next week. They have two people to replace by the time we descend on Orgrimmar, so they’ll want to get a look at someone as soon as possible.

It has been just under two weeks since the idea was hatched. In that time, I’ve put a lot of work in on Ghilleadh, between the raids and other gearing/Valor capping activities. And I’ll admit: right now, speed-gearing another hunter hasn’t been all that fun. The Valor cap, queue times, RNG, reputation gates on gear, and just the feeling of “been there, done that grind on a hunter already” lessen the general awesomeness that I felt taking Mushan through much of what’s happened in MoP.

And that’s not even considering that I’m so far from a legendary cloak on that toon that it’s not even worth thinking about any time soon.

I am certainly going to have regrets about this decision. I’ll get to sit aside as my girlfriend is killing bosses that I won’t see for weeks or months. I won’t be a part of that. But that won’t be a new experience for me, so I’m OK with it.

The toughest part of deciding the way I did was my fear of making those people angry. As I said, I have a strong aversion to causing disappointment or frustration. It was tough to not delay the decision, but nobody else was going to make it, and so being forthright was the best option, in my opinion.

Ultimately, I’m going to continue to be frustrated by my guild’s slow but steady progress, but if and when I have to choose, I wouldn’t trade raiding with Somb, Squid, Rain and Hass for a better progression opportunity unless they either came with the package or they were no longer playing. And I decided the same thing when Convert To Raid was starting up its guild(s). I only have so much energy, and I prefer to spend it with them, through success and failure.

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

(No estimated average queue time)

Yes. Yes indeed.

Let the fun begin.

It’s been a week or so since my last post, but you haven’t missed much for me not writing. There’s nothing all that exciting going on in my gaming world right now. Last week, I raided with my guild on Mushan, worked on some leveling/gearing things, farmed my farm, farmed food mats/leather, did Barrens on three toons, and so on. Just ho-hum stuff.


One of the things I’ve been working on over the past week or so is speed-gearing my second hunter, Ghilleadh. Sort of. This has slowed considerably, over time, since I started it nine or ten days ago, thanks to my own lack of patience with queue times and low tolerance for, well… more on that below.

Some good. Some not-so-good.

Some good. Some not-so-good.

Ghilleadh reached 90 several months ago, but he’s been sitting in the mid-450s since then, since I already play a hunter and other alts, and since the main purpose for having him at 90 – having a hunter to farm leather with – doesn’t require extensive gearing. Last week, however, I outfitted him with the 496/522 crafted gear, the 522 neck, and some other pieces in order to get him eligible to run Raid Finder. The nice thing was that, in doing so, I was able to jump right into Heart of Fear and Terrace at that point, and got a few pieces to get him into Throne.

However, my experience in gearing him has been more complicated than it was with the druid, my most recent gearing project. Since he’s a damage dealer, there are some queues at certain times that aren’t bad, but there are others where I get the “you’ve been in queue for X minutes (but there is no estimated queue time)” crap.

Frankly, if I get that kind of message, I find it disheartening. It wasn’t as bad before I hit the Valor cap on him, because I could just work on other things while waiting. However, once I was capped, I found that I didn’t have the patience to wait some undetermined amount of time. I farmed turtle meat (and leather) in VotFW for parts of those times, but there’s only so much repetitive turtle slaughter one can do before becoming completely bored.

As such, I didn’t do as much Raid Finder as I had intended to. I ended up completing the T14 raids last week, as well as the first three ToT bosses and Ji-kun. There were other queues that I aborted for lack of interest / patience, ultimately. Hopefully, this week I can hit up ToT early and get it finished and out of the way before things go too sour.

Anyway, I ended up with no gear from ToT – unsurprising, given that I only killed four bosses. I did get a few pieces from HoF and Terrace, the crossbow from the Houndmaster in Scarlet Halls* (first try!), and a set of gloves from a heroic scenario. Ultimately, he didn’t get as much gear as I would have liked, but his level did go up 20 points in the last seven days alone, so I guess I can’t complain.

*Oh, fun times in Scarlet Halls last night, by the way. Doing Armsmaster Harlan, the tank ran in and jumped straight down to start the fight. I started shooting as I ran to my preferred position, then I typed “time warp” in /say. You’ll never guess what happened then… oh wait, you did guess? Yes, you were right, Time Warp never happened, at all, in the entire dungeon. And if there was ever a group that needed Time Warp on Harlan, this group was it.

So on the first Blades of Light, the tank and a DPS bite it. Harlan’s at about 40%, so while he’s finishing up his whirly-time, I put away Shad the Hyena and bring out Kurmokk the Gorilla (the only tank-specced pet I had on me). I had no illusions about it… there was a very high chance that we might wipe. But I did it anyway, kept pumping glyphed heals into him, and the boss eventually went down. It was great! I love doing stuff like that. Not that anyone in the group noticed…. :P

All in all, it was a good week for Ghilleadh, but I have to say that I have mixed feelings playing him. On one hand, it’s nice to jump into a raid or dungeon setting being completely familiar with the class and just doing things intuitively. However, it kind of stinks to play a less-powerful hunter when I’m accustomed to doing mad damage. Just kind of, though – I still prefer it to playing my mage, for instance, or other classes as DPS. The familiarity is nice.

The other thing I don’t like is playing as a worgen. The crit bonus is nice – not that I notice it. But I don’t like the way he moves, all herky-jerky and so on. Comparatively, I love how smooth it feels moving around on night elves. However, it is what it is. At this point, it’s unlikely that I will level another hunter in this expansion, due to Time and such. So I’ll get used to it.

It’s time to move on (from Mogu’shan Vaults LFR)

Anyway, last night I jumped into Mogu’shan (RF) for a chance at the weapon. The screenshot at the top of this page was the first real conversation in Instance chat, and it set the tone for the entire run. The Instance Leader was a resto druid on my server who apparently has a lot of fun talking trash and putting people down. By the time we got to Emperor, I had put him on ignore, which cut my chat window activity down by about 80%. I also noted his guild, and that it would not be one I would like to be a part of if it’s mostly comprised of the likes of him.

However, his initial statement was about as spot-on as it could be – not because of the boss encounters, but because it really was just a group of people flailing about on the screen for an hour and a half, with very few exceptions. We made it through – barely – but it was the opposite of fun. It’s likely that I will never do Mogu’shan Vaults part 2 (RF) again, on any toon, regardless of gear needs. Almost ten months after its release, it’s a virtual/digital dumpster fire at this point.

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

Ahead of the Curve (T15) and other bits

This past week, with at least three people from our raid team scheduled to be out due to travel and whatnot, I was invited to run with my girlfriend’s guild, which is 3/13H, but has suffered some attrition recently. They ended up bringing three people from my guild for the bulk of the run on Tuesday.

Waiting for that final person, pre-H Jin'rokh

Waiting for that final person, pre-H Jin’rokh

Due to that attrition, we didn’t do a 3-heroic-kill run. Rather, we downed H Jin’rokh, which was fun, and made a few attempts on H Ji-kun, although we didn’t kill her (note: I suck at the nests. Horribly.), and otherwise farmed normal mode. When it was all over on Tuesday night, we had killed up through Dark Animus with few problems, all told.

9 of us died at the end of the Jin'rokh heroic kill, due to the nature of the heroic Ionization mechanic...

9 of us died at the very end of the Jin’rokh heroic kill, due to the nature of the heroic Ionization mechanic… as you can see in the corner of the screen, I didn’t do too badly!

Thursday night, they filled their raid team with eight normal team members, a substitute from their guild who would be a star on our guild’s team, and myself. We managed to down the final three bosses in slightly more than an hour – which was great, because it was my first-ever regular kill of Lei Shen, which got me the Feat of Strength “Ahead of the Curve: Lei Shen.” Sweet!

Additionally, we managed to grab another achievement along the way, on Twin Consorts…

From Dusk Till Dawn, Twin Consorts

From Dusk Till Dawn, Twin Consorts

And here’s a Lei Shen screen…

Ahead of the Curve: Lei Shen!

Ahead of the Curve: Lei Shen!

At that point, we’d been running for less than 70 minutes. People were tossing around big ideas (“Let’s clear H ToES!” “Let’s try H HoF!”), but after a couple of people expressed the desire to log for the night, we finally settled on snagging this bit of fun from the Protectors of the Endless:

So we killed Regail last... so we got an achievement... yay! :)

So we killed Regail last… so we got an achievement… yay! :)

Of course, with this team (of eight of us at this point), it was a pushover. But easy raid achieves are fine by me, especially with a group like this, which runs on all cylinders.

And finally, to cap off the screenshot spam in this post, I managed to get my final Titan Runestone on Wednesday evening, which allowed me to then get the Heart of Lei Shen, complete Wrathion’s (er, Yu’lon’s) challenge, and acquire my ilvl 600 cloak that night. Man, adding a 600 anything to my gear set at this point is nothing less than awesome!

Mushan, proud owner of the Tigerfang Wrap - courtesy of Wrathion, RNG, and persistence/hard work.

Mushan, proud owner of the Tigerfang Wrap – courtesy of Wrathion, RNG, and persistence/hard work.

*Note: I chuckled at how they just went ahead and actually mentioned Patch 5.4 in the next quest!!! ^^

All told, it was pretty great! I accomplished two goals that I’ve been working/wishing for:

1) the 600 cloak

2) Lei Shen (N) killed pre-5.4.

In the end, it was an exciting week playing Mushan. A couple of nice pieces of gear, a few nice achievements, and a great raiding experience overall. 

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