A Quick Update

What the title said; I’m trying to post more regularly.

The raids with the guild actually went great, much better than expected. We finished OS with only one death – not wipe, death – and then recruited a disc priest who had been a PuG member, who seems very nice. Recruiting a healer is a big deal for my small guild! Naxx also went without a hitch, and we killed not only the planned Spider quarter, but also cleared out Plague, which was great considering half our people had never seen Heigan before. We’re hoping to start running things regularly now.

I got the Midsummer pet on Vel after going to the Northrend fires, which I was tipped off about by a commenter over on Darth’s blog. On my mage, I’ve also now got the pet, and as we speak I’m getting the brazier, having decided not to go for the title from the meta-achievement.

Didn’t get the leveling video done after all, it’ll be done soon. Unfortunately that’s a Blizzard-type soon… But I’ll have a job to keep me busy, which will be good, because I need money.

That does remind me – going to be buying the 16k gold mammoth soon (not a Blizzard trademarked soon, a real soon), as I finally decided that I’d be better choosing utility over aesthetics and good looks. Alas, the chopper will just have to wait.

Vel.

Of Mages, Midsummer and Mounts

Just some quick updates about what’s been going on with me, since I’m realising how impersonal this blog is when all I do is review patch notes and write guides!

So being bored of level 75 on my mage I decided to spice his life up by doing all the Midsummer fire quests – I don’t like Zul’Drak, and Sholozar only goes so far. After extinguishing and honouring my way across all of the Eastern Kingdoms and half of Kalimdor, I’d covered the 7 or so bars to 76, and after finishing Kalimdor, Outland and the 4 Horde cities, I was about 6 bars into that – the xp was very good, equivalent to a normal quest which might take much longer, and I enjoyed grabbing flight points and seeing some of the older areas for once.

From this I also netted around 250g and a huge 587 blossoms, which will probably go towards a pet as I don’t think I want the achievement on this guy. Following that I spent the rest of the day killing seemingly random animals in Sholozar and helping Mirtai configure DBM (God save us all), and eventually hit 77, which was undoubtedly the best level for him so far. Except perhaps for when I got Blink at 20 or something, ‘cos I’d been looking forward to that.

When he hit 77, I was sitting on exactly 28005g server-wide – the plan had been to get to 30000 before spending any just to say I’d had that amount, but the Cold Weather Flying Trainer looked at me with big puppy dog eyes and a few minutes later I was 6800g worse off after purchasing regular and epic flying, plus Cold Weather training.

Now I had been planning the mount I wanted upon reaching 77 for a very long time – the Magnificent Flying Carpet. It cost hundreds of gold to level the ridiculously expensive skill that is Tailoring, but all the mats were there ready and waiting for me, and 10 seconds of FRAPS later I had the ideal mage mount and I was zooming out of Dalaran and floating around Crystalsong testing it out. Next up, Storm Peaks and level 80!

On Veliaf, I’ve been running heroics with my guild every day for a week to attempt to gear up our members for our first guild WotLK raids, the first of which is going down tonight in the Obsidian Sanctum. We also have Naxx planned for tomorrow. Hopefully it will all run smoothly, even if we have to PuG some members, and at the very least we’ll finally see the fights together and get some experience (I’ve cleared all this content before, and even seen Ulduar a bit with some PuGs, but the guild is pretty casual and so we’re only just getting into the swing of things now). Planning the raids is also proving to be fun, as I don’t often get a chance to raid lead – if you’re lucky I might even post some of the Venn Diagrams I drew to work out which members were doing what! Darned dual-specs.

Additionally, Veliaf has also done the Fire Festival and got the achievement and accompanying title in about 2 hours, though in fairness he’d done many of the fires last year. Now that the bug seems to have been fixed (?) I might go back again to the others for blossoms, as doing the dailies won’t get enough for the pet, which I’d quite like – more pets means closer to the achievement for getting 50 after all. Certainly more useful than the brazier.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping you updated as to the raid progress and with any luck I’ll get that level 10 video done at some point. Hopefully this weekend, as I’m starting a job this Monday and then it’ll never get done.

Vel.

Leveling a Warlock: Level 8

Level 8!

NB: This guide, whilst explaining some terminology, assumes you’re not new to the game and understand its basic principles.

Now, at level 8 as a Warlock we’re going to learn two spells. Both of these are fairly well known Warlock spells, and you’ll use both as Demonology.

The first spell is Curse of Agony (CoA). This is a curse (like Curse of Weakness (CoW)) which you place on the enemy for an effect. In the case of CoA, it gives the enemy a DoT which deals damage over a period of time, starting off slowly and getting faster and more powerful. For this reason it’s especially important not to refresh this DoT before it expires, during longer fights, as most of the damage is dealt towards the end of the duration.

This spell, in conjunction with Corruption and Immolate, makes up the trio of DoTs which a Demo ‘lock will use most often – it’s rarely worth using CoW, as it’s better just to kill things faster with CoA. On that note, you can only cast one Curse on an enemy at once, per Warlock; casting a second will knock the first one off. If you have multiple Warlocks though, each one can cast a Curse on the same enemy.

Secondly, we learn Fear. When used, this will cause the opponent to ‘run in fear’ for a period of time (10 seconds at level 8), during which they can’t control their movement, cast spell, use abilities, or really do anything at all. This is great for keeping mobs away from you, as you won’t take damage if they’re not hitting you! You can only Fear one target at once, though. So when you’re jumped by more mobs than you can handle, a quick Fear onto one of them will lessen the damage you take and help keep you alive. Unless, of course, the feared mob runs into more mobs…

That’s the downside of this ability. If a mob is under the effects of fear, and it runs around and gets too close to another hostile mob, the second mob will very often aggro and attack you as well, just as if the first one had run away due to low health. For this reason, be careful about where you use Fear – generally, instances are a bad idea, due to the tightly packed mobs. Don’t worry about it when fighting another player though, as other players won’t exactly aggro other players – that would just be silly.

Until level 10, good luck Warlock-ing!

Warlocks in 3.2

So having seen and reviewed the changes which affect Warlocks in 3.2, I’m pretty happy. I feel Blizzard has definitely taken steps towards improving us as a class, and though there are some things in the patch notes I don’t like, I can’t really complain about these.

Let’s take a look at the relevant patch notes:

Resilience: No longer reduces the amount of damage done by damage-over-time spells, but instead reduces the amount of all damage done by players by the same proportion. The other effects of resilience (reducing critical chance, critical damage and mana drain effects) have not changed.

Ah ha! We just got hugely buffed in PvP, compared to other classes and their abilities. Now, resilience, that oh-so-hated-by-DoTing-Warlocks stat, is going to reduce all damage taken, instead of just the damage from DoTs. This means that while our DoTs are still partially mitigated, so is every other damage spell anyone casts, so for us it’s a buff while for everyone else it’s a nerf. Good times!

All pets now receive 40% of their master’s resilience and 100% of their master’s spell penetration. In addition, if a player is at their appropriate spell hit chance or hit chance maximum, their pet will be at the maximum for spell hit chance, hit chance, and expertise. If they are below the maximum, their pet will be proportionately below those maximums.

Another good buff, this time applying to pets. They ought to now have significantly more survivability in PvP, thanks to gaining 40% of our resilience (I have around 700 off-hand, so my Felguard will be getting a whopping 280 of that). Additionally they get the same amount of spell penetration as we have, which is pretty tasty for the Imp and Succubus I guess, and they also share the same hit % as we have – effectively this means that if you’re hit capped, your pet will be too, which will buff our dps in PvE a lot. Just another reason to get capped!

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric TouchJudgements of the WiseHunting PartyEnduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

Destro Warlocks have their replenishment ability nerfed, but it’s happening across the board, so it’s not really aimed at Warlocks. Still.

Banish: Effect will now be cancelled if Banish is recast on a banished target.

This might actually be quite handy – if you want to free a target from the CC, you can recast the spell instead of waiting for the CC to wear off. I know that back in TBC it was quite irritating when you banished something and it was still banished for 20 seconds after everything else died – most Warlocks resorted to using Rank 1 for the shorter duration. The only downside I can see to this change is if you accidentally cast it on something you want to keep banished, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Dreadsteed: Can now be learned at level 40.

Felsteed: Can now be learned at level 20.

These changes are being made in line with the mount changes for the patch, so that we learn the class mount spells at the same time as we can learn to ride normal mounts.

Soulshatter cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, down from 5 minutes

This makes me want to sigh inwardly a little, in exasperation… What this is, is Blizzard attempting to help our threat management issues by reducing the CD of Soulshatter to be similar to things like Invisibility. Hence, we can reduce threat more often. But in my mind, this isn’t enough – 3 minutes is still a long cooldown, and the ability still costs a soul shard, whereas most threat reducing abilities cost nothing except perhaps a small amount of mana. The devs are heading in the right direction with this, don’t get me wrong, but they need to take it further.

Pandemic: Now also increases the critical damage bonus of Haunt by 100%.

Good buff for the Affliction guys, more dps.

Fel Domination cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, down from 15 minutes.

Probably the change I like the most, this will help solve issues with pets being killed too easily in PvP, since even if the enemy take the (now increased) time to kill our minions, we can bring them back every 3 minutes. I presume talents still affect the CD, too, so it could be even less than every 3 minutes, which would be great.

Empowered Imp: The warlock’s critical hit chance is increased to 100%, up from 20% for the next spell cast after the Imp critically hits a target.

This is good for those PvE Destro ‘locks – if the Imp crits once, it will crit again on the next spell. More dps there too.

Fire and Brimstone: Reduced to 2/4/6/8/10% increased damage from Incinerate and Chaos Bolt on targets afflicted with Immolate, down from 3/6/9/12/15%.

A slight nerf to damage if you have/had this talent – admittedly there is an issue with burst damage at the moment, and Destro is part of that.

Character names can now be colorized according to class in the chat frame through an interface option in the Development settings.

We gonna be purple, mon.

Macros and scripts will no longer be able to target totems by name.

Goodbye totem-stomping macros! I’m an awful Warlock and never used one anyway, but this change means it’ll actually require effort to kill those dastardly Shaman totems.

Glyph of Lifetap: Duration of the buff from this glyph increased to 40 seconds.

What do you get when you take one of the best PvE dps glyphs a class have and improve it? This. I know that personally keeping the buff up (which currently lasts 20 seconds) was a chore if I didn’t actually need to Life Tap, such as earlier on in the fight, because I wouldn’t normally be using Life Tap then and it’s annoying to work into a rotation. This change ought to improve that problem as we only have to Tap half as much to keep the proc active. Also, if you forget about it, it now might still be there when you remember and you won’t lose dps.

Players can now use Blink, Shadowstep, and Demonic Teleport while participating in the illusion events in the Yogg-Saron encounter.

I’ve never killed Yogg-Saron, and so despite having seen the fight I’m really not sure how this will help. It’s my understanding that you port inside the thing’s mind, kill adds and then attack the brain before leaving again. Maybe this means you can teleport around the mind by dropping a Circle? Don’t know if that would be useful but perhaps this is more of a bug fix.

So that’s it for the moment, though I expect to see more changes coming soon, especially once the Warlock Q&A goes live.

Vel.

Leveling a Warlock: Level 6

It’s that time again!

NB: This guide, whilst explaining some terminology, assumes you’re not new to the game and understand its basic principles.

The level 6 video:

At level 6 we learn two spells. First up is Shadow Bolt (Rank 2) – essentially this is the same spell as the Shadow Bolt spell we’ve already learnt, except that it’s more powerful, being the second rank as it is. Throughout the game you will find that many spells have higher ranks which make them more powerful, or, in some cases, add additional effects.

The other spell we learn is an important one we call Life Tap, the core reason we Warlocks are often called ’emo Mages’. Basically this takes some of our health and turns it into some mana, which helps with regen issues, especially at lower levels or during long fights. When you first learn this it will turn 27 health into 27 mana, but this amount will increase as your spirit increases, which happens automatically as you level and then will probably sharply increase once you get good gear with +spirit on. The thing to remember here is that, while you can’t kill yourself with Life Tap (more on Warlock suicide in a future post), you can theoretically get as low as 1 health, and if something was to attack you, you’d die pretty fast. So be careful, and Life Tap responsibly. Don’t Life Tap and drive.

Level 8 comin’ atcha before long!

Raiding as a BM hunter

Continuing on with my tale of Mirtai and her sudden desire to raid efficiently, I spent a few hours putting together an email for her with a load of useful information about raiding as a Beast Mastery specced Hunter (this was after she pinned me to the floor with her feminine, Dwarvish arms and asked whether crit was more important than haste). However it seems like a partial waste for only her to see it and benefit, so I thought I’d adapt it and post it here, so everyone can access it.

So for one night, and one night only, ladies and gentlemen, I present you with der Jägerthe Hunter.

Basic tips for improving your dps:

1. Make sure you have an optimal spec. Whilst a Survival build is the best Hunter dps build out there at the moment, the best BM build (according to my research and EJ) is this. A video for this BM spec can be found here – the spec in the video is slightly different to the one I gave a link to, so compare the two and see what you prefer. I think the difference is just a choice between points in MM and Survival, but I’d be more inclined to go towards the one I listed first, as opposed to the video.

2. Ever had your dps drop sharply and suddenly? Chances are, your pet died. As a Hunter or Warlock it’s VERY important you keep your pet alive. I think I heard somewhere that Hunter pets do about 40% of your dps as BM? Also, remember to use cooldowns whenever you can, provided you’ll have them for bosses, and combine this with on-use trinkets and the likes.

3. Use resources available to you to research things. A list of possible resources I’ve found:

  • Elitist Jerks’ BM raiding forum thread. The original post is the one to look at unless you’re interested in all the discussion which has affected how the original one has been updated. Information here should be fairly easy to follow, but pretty advanced.
  • TribunalxHunter’s blog. This guy plays a BM Hunter and is the bloke from the video I linked above. Information from here might be basic to moderate.
  • The Scattered Shots weekly column from WoW Insider. May not have any relevance at the moment with regards to specific specs as it only recently restarted and so might not include specs for 3.1 yet, but a good read regardless and it may contain useful information. In particular, two posts from it that you may want a look at are their list of Hunter resources and one about fixing your dps. Info here could range from basic to advanced.
  • Be.imba is a great website which rates your gear and stats and tells you what can be upgraded. It also tells you how far below the hit cap you are, and whereabouts on the chart of heroics and raids you ought to perform well. Definitely worth a look to easily see what to improve.

4. Download one or two essential raiding addons you may not have, which most raid guilds would require you to have. The first two listed here are non-negotiable, the third is a little more optional depending on your damage at the moment, but highly recommended:

  • Recount. It takes very little configuration and is easy to set up. Seriously, this is an invaluable addon. Not only can you see everyone’s dps for yourself, but it will be useful for testing your dps on target dummies, etc. Also, something I didn’t realise until very recently – when an addon like Recount records dps, it records it from the combat log. However the combat log only has a certain range and so if something is outside this range (like a player) it won’t be recorded. Hence, the most accurate data about yourself is always going to come from YOUR version of Recount, as you’re always in range of it. This is why there are sometimes discrepancies between different versions.
  • DBM (Deadly Boss Mods). As far as I remember this is completely out-of-the-box, so it needs no setting up. What DBM does is basically provide you with timers relating to the fight. For example, in VH it tells you how long until the next portal will appear. Or in AN, on the last boss, you can see the CD on his ‘Pound’ ability (which is obviously useful for healers, as they need to know when to cast a bigger heal on the tank because there is more damage incoming), and it also tells you the CD on his ‘Summon Scarabs’ ability (i.e. when he summons the little adds) so you know when to prepare to AoE.
  • Omen Threat Meter is also a good idea if you don’t have it – whilst, at the moment, you probably won’t ever be out-threating the tank at all there will be times when you’re maybe attacking an add that the tank isn’t, such as during an AoE pull, and you might pull aggro. With a threat meter you can see your level of threat on the mob compared with everyone else that’s attacking / healing, and so you know when to slow down to avoid pulling the mob off the tank.

5. Hit. Hit. Hit. Hit. Hit. Hit. Hit. Gear until you are hit capped. You don’t have a choice in the matter. Until you’re hit capped, the stat which will increase your dps the most is HIT. There is food for +hit, such as the Worg Tartare, and alchemists can also make elixirs which give hit rating. The more hit you have, the less you miss, and so the more dps you will do. You want to improve your dps, do all you can to raise your hit rating. Gem for hit. Enchant for hit. Gear for hit.

6. Make sure you have the right glyphs. In addition, as mentioned above, get appropriate enchants and gems, and other gear enhancements, for every piece of gear you can improve – it may be slightly costly, but it’s worth it when your dps goes up. Also linked to that and to the above lecture on hit rating is buffs and consumables – potions, food, etc. It all improves dps.

7. Knowing the boss encounters beforehand will actually increase your dps. If you know when to move, when to stop dps’ing, when to kill adds, or whatever, you won’t be learning on the spot and everything will be more efficient. Simply Googling the fight will usually turn up sites with information as to the fight, and when it comes to learning raid bosses there are some good sites but they don’t cover heroics which is what we’re doing at the moment. For a reliable website for boss strats, try WoWWiki. Additionally, this will help with pugging, when groups may not be as forgiving with regards to explaining things, especially if it’s a heroic run (theoretically, you ought to have done the encounters in normal). This is also linked to #2 above – you’ll know when the best time to use CDs and trinkets is if you know the fight.

8. Keep running instances for gear upgrades, and remember that the EoH can be spent on upgrades. Also, check reputation vendors, etc, and remember that the Armoury as well as be.imba can list potential upgrades. Just look at all the listed ones which don’t come from raids.

9. Know your goals. I believe that the average dps needed for heroics is approx. 1500, which is still fairly low. Don’t be satisfied until you’re pulling about 1600 on a target dummy though (the extra 100 could be lost in a real fight through movement, dealing with adds, etc). For the first lot of 10-man raids (Naxx, VoA, OS), you need about 2000 dps when raid buffed. I’m not sure what you need for the next level (those raids in heroic mode / Ulduar and EoE 10), but I do about 2800 dps when 25-man raid buffed and that almost always gets me in the top 5 dps at least, if not higher.

That’s all folks! Hope this helps, and we’ll be returning to the ways of wickedly whimsical Warlocks next time. I might even finally get that next video done now that RL has lightened up.

Vel.

The Curious Case of Mirtai

Before you ask, the title is obviously not a rip-off of a story about a paladin blogger called Ferraro.

And so the story begins…

It was a dark and stormy night when I logged onto WoW yesterday, with cliches abound and bad storytelling running through the veins of the populations of Azeroth. Not knowing what was soon to happen, I merrily spoke into the guild chat channel, unaware of the dangers lurking around the corner. Mechanically, I asked my guild a simple question, but one which could have had many answers: “What are you all up to then?”

The fright of my life was soon to follow when a fellow guildie, a hunter called Mirtai, replied with “Not much, can we do some heroics?”

=== Story break for narrative passage ===

Now, before you all say “So what?”, perhaps I should explain the kind of person Mirtai is. *

The TLDR version would be ‘very casual’.

Prior to yesterday, she had only done VH heroic, out of all the Northrend instances, and her hunter leveled to 80 months ago. She never PuGs, has never seen the inside of a raid of her level, and isn’t wasn’t interested in gearing up or hit caps or the amount of dps she does. She also has about 4 level 80 alts, and tends to spend her time leveling yet more. Because of all these alts she also does a huge and excessive amount of dailies each day – oh, and she’s practically never stepped into a BG in her life, but that’s another story.

=== Resume story ===

So, you can imagine my surprise when the least hardcore person I know asked to run through a few instances. Anyway, I suppressed my fears about what could have prompted an answer such as this and agreed. We picked up a few other, equally shocked, guild members and friends, and off we went – only, where to go? Well, since it had been her suggestion to go, I queried Mirtai. And when the reply came, it chilled me to my core – she wanted to go to the places that dropped the best gear upgrades for her! I might have staggered backwards and clutched my heart whilst goosebumps broke out all over my skin; I don’t remember, it’s all a patchy blur.

After I recovered, and our companions found their lower jaws again, we travelled far and wide, from the Nexus to Violet Hold to Drak’tharon Keep and finally Utgarde Keep, throughout all of which I failed at dps’ing because my fingers were shaking so much from the circumstances surrounding the runs. The greatest shock was still to come, however.

Following the UK run, we decided that was enough for one evening, and I returned to the inn in Dalaran [to log out] for a much needed break – chocolate and caffeine were on the menu. To my surprise, as I passed by the EoH item vendors, who should I find lurking in a darkened corner looking at the items therein, but Mirtai! Tentatively I approached, but before I could utter a word she lashed out, holding up a necklace in a now unfamiliar hand and saying “I still need 7 more emblems for this! We have to run more instances!”. Stunned and gasping for air, I ran.

Down steep stairs, along windowless corridors, through dark alleyways and across tiled plazas I fled, ducking under forbidding trees, weaving amongst the placid crowds of shoppers, adventurers and explorers, knocking over gnomes and mailboxes alike, all the time with shouts of “I’m still 5% away from the hit cap, not good enough!” and “When is the best time to use Bestial Wrath?” ringing in my ears.

Eventually I escaped the city through the use of a device called a ‘Logout Button’, which I snatched from a goblin, and foolishly thought myself safe. This was not to be.

Upon logging in this morning I was appalled to be greeted with a seemingly sweet smile and the dreaded words: “Our friends will be on later this afternoon and are up for some more heroics then. Will you come? Be.imba says I’m almost geared for 10-mans.”

As I write this now I fear for my safety, for the safety of us all. In the wise and watchful words of one of my officers – “Nobody don’t know what Mirtai can do when she done gone got herself into theorycrafting, ‘specially not if she be going to the next town over. We best be watchin’ her closely with our peepers, mon.”

I don’t know what has brought on this strange affliction which has so affected her, and I don’t know where it will lead us. How can such a casual and relaxed player become so twisted that they care about being ready to raid and want to run instances of their own accord? Before this weekend I had no idea that Mirtai knew what an EoH was, let alone what they were for or how to spend them. The causes may not have been identified but the symptoms surely have. Mentions of Diablo – yes, another game outside WoW – alongside a tutorial in setting up a Battle.net account. Knowledge of itemization and, to an extent, min-maxing. The idea of looking for certain glyphs on the AH. Beware.

Vel.

*Everything in this article about Mirtai is said with the best of intent and I don’t mean anything derogatory by it. Love you Mir, and hope to see you in our raids before long, whatever your reasoning in your sudden change of heart!