Sunday, December 20, 2009

What to do when benched for raids

Start soloing Molten Core, duh.

Lucifron was first, and easy:


Gehennas was third, and also easy:



Magmadar was second... and easy.... but damn, his trash is annoying:



I basically had to resort to using Vanilla WoW old school hunter tricks - Feign Death, Pet Passive and drink - because for some reason, the Core Hound trash packs just wouldn't die.

They wouldn't rez either, which is what they're supposed to do - they just stayed on the ground, getting hit by ticks of Volley but not actually despawning.

Not only that, but if I was too reckless (as I so often am!) and died, the Core Hounds actually *did* fully respawn and I'd have to start over.... so I had to do the entire room plus Maggy himself without dying.

Sadly, Garr was next and apparently my regular BM spec and raiding gear (but with T5 gloves and shoulders) didn't cut it - he does hit rather hard. I'll have to go back again later, perhaps after either tweaking my turtle's spec or changing my gear somehow (I'm too lazy/cheap to respec myself... and besides, where's the fun in that? Plenty of people have soloed MC in full "tank" spec, so I know it can be done already!).

I would have kept going at Garr awhile, but a level 79 guildie who I'd promised to help get a Core Hound pet logged on, so we spent some time figuring out how to do it.

(If you're wondering, I had my turtle tank the Core Hound a little and then set him to Passive/Stay while my friend beat on it. After pulling aggro, he chucked on a Draenei heal and started the tame from range. I'd been ready with a bandage in case he needed it, but he didn't)

Next time, Garr goes down... and I'll finally be exalted with Hydraxian Waterlords to boot!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Looking For Chat Channel

The new Looking For Group setup is great for getting quick daily dungeon runs.

It's also great for alts - my tauren druid managed to get a group for Ramparts in all of about 10sec as a healer, which was convenient as I only had less than an hour to play at that time.

What it *isn't* good for - and an annoying one for me - is allowing you to be on alts while you wait for raids to form.

To explain a little further:

I'm a high Achiever. I like to say I've done everything - as of this post, I have 8140 Achievement points, and a lot of those points were from PuGs.

I don't, however, care about Achievement points, gear, reputation or experience on my alts - I play them rarely, I'll do all the class-specific quests and get the "essentials" such as fast mounts, but I don't spend gold to gear them up or buy expensive Profession recipes.

The problem? I can no longer play my alts while keeping a lookout for raid groups forming for my hunter unless I sit in town. Non-80 alts can't even sit in the LFG raid tool, because they're not high enough - people can't see you to invite you and you can't see/"hear" them LFM.

Also, even if you *are* on your main, not every group will stick themselves in LFG, especially if they only need a couple of slots filled... meaning you're doomed to sit in a major city just so you can monitor the LFG chat channel.

I probably wouldn't have minded so much being doomed to sit in town months ago, but I already have Old Ironjaw, Old Crafty and all the Dalaran Fountain coins, so what exactly can I do now? Join the travesty that is Trade Chat out of boredom? Surely not...

Monday, December 14, 2009

It took awhile...


...but I finally finished Glory of the Hero, with the last one being Make It Count (man, have they nerfed that place...). I'm quite amused by people who still refuse to run Oculus when it's so easy now, but I guess not everyone likes the jousting/mounted combat system.

Hooray for another mount!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Upgraded Kirin Tor rings!

Among all the Patch 3.3 madness, don't forget you can upgrade your Kirin Tor rings again - I don't think it was in the patch notes, so I thought I'd remind everyone.

Mine was a only a small upgrade, but hey, better than nothing! It again costs 1000g and your old (Etched) ring.

Runed Band of the Kirin Tor

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Southern Wardens vs Yogg-Saron

A couple of things about this vid...

1. It's not really a "here's what to do in this fight" vid. I haven't put too many comments detailing strats, so if you're relying on this to tell you, you'll probably die. I Frapsed this with the intention of showing non-brain room guildies what the rooms looked like from my point of view... so most of the comments are humourous or explain why I'm doing what I'm doing on the screen.

2. I don't usually make vids, but my fairly new computer means I can now run Fraps in the background. If you have any feedback on whether I should do more (and what you would like to see if you do), please feel free to comment/email.

3. I had originally intended to make a proper Hunters Rhok flashy intro etc, but I realized I don't have the time right now... hopefully I'll get around to it later; perhaps early next year.

With that said, here's my guild's first kill of Yogg-Saron on 10man:



Friday, November 27, 2009

Casual vs Hardcore: TotC vs Ulduar

The other day, I managed to talk my way into my second PuG for Trial of the Grand Crusader 10 (ie the heroic version of the raid).

We managed to make it all the way up to a near-kill on Twins before someone DCed and didn't come back - 39/50 attempts left on the clock; DPS was high enough to have a shot at Anub and possibly even A Tribute to Skill.

It got me thinking... everyone has their thoughts on why it's so easy to PuG raids now - fights aren't as hard as they were in 40man Naxx, gear is easy to get even just running heroics, it's easier to get 10 people together than 40, everyone in the game has just generally gotten better at staying out of fires.

Well, I do think it's a combination of all of these... but I also think it's mainly because of time investment.

Right now, the dungeons with the best gear are Onyxia's Lair, Trial of the Crusader and Trial of the Grand Crusader, as well as the Vault of Archavon. A wipeless run in each of these places takes maybe half an hour - well within the means of a previously "casual" player who can't afford to stay online for more than 2-3hrs at a stretch, including waiting time to actually form the group.

Hard mode Ulduar is now harder to get done than hard mode TotC, even with everyone wearing better gear, simply because no-one wants to run a dungeon that takes so long.

Whilst I agree that TotC is nowhere near as fun as some of the other raids (I can certainly understand the raider burnout from guilds being in the same room for 3-4hrs a week clearing all 4 versions of TotC), I do think that Blizzard did a very good job of catering to casuals this time around, which is a good thing from my point of view.

It's nice not to have to spend too much time in a dungeon for the one boss that drops your upgrade, and it's definitely nice not to have to spend too long sitting in LFG for the group to form up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Roast hunter

Something I found randomly this morning:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGlLEbbpe6Y

Careful, PvE servers.... that roast turkey on the ground could just be a flagged and feigning hunter!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yogg can Hunter


For the uninitiated, Rapid Fire is on a 5min cooldown (untalented) and one of our most important DPS boosters in a fight... figures Yoggy would want to waste that one first!

(For the setup - someone in my raid accidentally started the fight when I had only just zoned into Ulduar; I immediately went insane while still mounted at Expedition Base Camp)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Didn't stand a chance

If you, like me, are having problems getting this Achievement, I think I've figured out the best way to go about it:

1. Try and enter Wintergrasp at a time of day when the opposing faction has as few stacks of Tenacity as possible. If you're on Proudmoore-US where Oceanic Horde are almost non-existant, this means do it when the Yanks are still awake, preferably on the weekend.

2. Enter Wintergrasp before the battle starts and get ready to claim a cannon. Don't bother entering a tower beforehand, as you'll likely get ported out. However, do mount up - you'll have a few seconds before you get knocked off your flying mount to fly into position.

3. Try to get a fairly central cannon - I usually like either the middle guns (if Horde are likely to get a couple of walls down) or one of the tower ones.

4. Even if there is absolutely no action on your side of the keep, don't give up your cannon. Yes, this may mean you get stuck with less honour, zero HKs and therefore less than 3 tokens for a win at the end, but if you give up your gun someone else can and will take it.

5. Try and predict where your target will move to when you fire. This is especially important when they're far away (and if you have the dreaded Oceanic latency) - if you fire directly at them, they'll have moved on.

And finally,

6. Fire randomly into crowds, at vehicles, at popular paths and at the workshops whether you can see any mounted players there or not - you might get lucky.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm jinxed

4th PuG for 25man Trial of the Crusader that managed to get past Twins but not Anub, even though most guilds would probably consider Anub to be easier than the previous bosses.

I probably wouldn't be half as annoyed if I didn't need the kill to even consider zoning in to 25man TotGC (the heroic version)... although I suppose I haven't seen many PuGs for that anyway. Still, I'd like to have the option at some point.... preferably before everyone starts ditching it for Icecrown.


(And before you tell me to get a guild, noob!, my guild is trying to recruit because we don't have enough for 25s right now... so I'm stuck with PuGging for the moment)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heal-less Horseman

We wasted one Headless Horseman summon where I didn't have my hax T5 pet healing bonus equipped, but I soon rectified that for a fairly smooth 4 kills of the poor guy with me tanking (with my turtle Koopa) and doing most of the healing to boot:


Not something I'd recommend - I did have to ration Beast Within, Rapid Fire, Shell Shield and Last Stand to make sure my turtle stayed alive - but then again, I was still in my usual raiding spec and I hadn't done any elite soloing lately, so it was pretty fun.

I was also extremely amused to see that my healing done was so high compared to the ret pally who was attempting to heal my pet - T5 is still the best thing since mage bread for this kind of thing!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Descent into Madness

Having finally managed to get a PuG for the last part of Ulduar 10, I've decided that it's actually harder than any of the bosses in Trial of the Crusader.

Why?

If you touch a cloud in Yogg-Saron's room, you spawn an add. This means that, unlike most fights where stupid people kill themselves when they do something wrong, they stay alive and continue to be stupid.

My PuG broke up after a few attempts on ol' Yoggy due to firstly people touching clouds and spawning adds, and later people avoiding clouds but not actually managing to DPS at the same time. I could hardly believe that phase 1 of Yogg would defeat a group of fairly well-geared people (at least a few of them had a mix of T8-9 when I inspected them), but a couple of the more seasoned Uld10 PuGgers just got sick of the "noobs" after awhile and quit.

Ah well, at least we managed to one-shot Vezax, which seemed a pretty fun fight. I'll have to keep trying for another PuG or wait for a long-running guild Uld10 to catch up (the ID has been extended for at least a month so far to try and get enough people to finish it; we're mid-keepers so not too far off).

On another note - Yogg was the first fight in a LOOOOOOONG time that I've felt Hawk Eye was actually useful in a raid - I found myself out of range quite a few times while dodging clouds, so I'm pretty sure our failure to get past the first phase was partly due to everyone else not having the luxury of my 41yd range.

Well, that or all the DPSers were the type of people that do zero DPS on the dancing phase of Heigan because they can't do 2 things at once, which was also possible. It was a PuG, after all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I finally have a helm pretty enough to show...

...but it doesn't go with anything else I'm wearing. Bah.



I mean, Dragonstalker armour wasn't all that great, but at least all 8 pieces matched.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Please let this make it in....

From the 3.3 PTR:
Deterrence: Now also increases the chance for ranged attacks to miss the hunter by 100% while under its effect
If this change goes through, it basically turns Deterrence into a pally bubble except we can't DPS while in it, which I'm sure will attract numerous complaints... but I was REALLY getting sick of not having any defense in PvP against my own class!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LFtank for UBRS

Because it's hard.


(No, they weren't joking. They were advertising for quite some time and I think they may have meant to continue on to BWL afterward)

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to get a good PuG

I've blogged about general tips for PuGging before, but I just thought I'd go into more detail on exactly how to get into good quality PuGs.

1. Always make sure to be in LookingForGroup chat (and Trade chat if possible).

This means joining as soon as possible when you log on. One line of missed Trade chat - "LF1 ranged DPS for Ony10" - could mean a missed opportunity. If you're on a bank alt or you don't want to be in any specific raid in the LFG tool, join via a level-appropriate zone (eg. Elwynn Forest for low levels or Storm Peaks for 80s) so you can at least watch the chat.

2. When in LFG for a specific raid, have a personal note.

There will be 3 others of your class sitting in LFG if it's a popular raid (particularly if you're a hunter like me!); you need to stand out. Having a note that says you're well geared, do 6k DPS or have the Achievement for the raid you're after can help distinguish you from others.

3. Sell yourself.

Most PuGs will ask you to whisper your Achievements to gauge whether you're competent. If you don't have the Achievement, link what you DO have - 4/5 or even 3/5 for Trial of the Crusader can be enough to get an invite, since it at least shows you can get past Faction Champions. Alternatively, offer your experience - "I have a main that has cleared this place", "I haven't done Ony yet, but I've killed Algalon".

If you don't have any experience, you'll have to wait for PuGs that don't ask for Achievements (some will just ask for stats and spec), or you can try and persuade them to take you by saying you've read the strat and watched a vid of the fight. If you come across as confident that you won't stuff up and aren't just a 6 year old kid, sometimes they will take you.

In any case, if you haven't already got the Achievement for killing the boss, remember that they are taking a risk with you - if you say you do 6k DPS even if your stats are low, make sure you do 6k DPS, otherwise you'll get a bad reputation. Don't make the same mistake twice - your guild may tolerate you dying to Ony's Deep Breath every fight, but if you stand out to a PuG as a noob, you're not doing yourself any favours for next time.

4. Know your guilds and fellow PuGgers.

If you PuG frequently, you'll start to recognize some of the other PuGgers. Try to remember which are good and which bad so that you can avoid getting locked to a raid that may not get completed. Similarly, if the people are from a reputable guild (good raiding progress, no history of ninja-ing), you can take a chance on them even if they look undergeared or Achievement-less.

5. Pick your groups.

If you're hoping for Keepers onward in Ulduar, don't immediately join a fresh run unless you have plenty of time or you know it's a good group. Sometimes it's better to wait for a chance at a half-cleared run, as you don't have to spend time on the first few bosses.

Make sure at least one person in the group (preferably the raid leader, but not necessarily) takes charge and knows what they're doing, like organizing tank/healer assignments or outlining the strat for the raid.

6. Inspect people.

I generally do this with every other hunter in the raid, if only to gauge my chances of getting loot. Inspecting the raid leader can also be useful; if they're severely undergeared and under-Achieved they may be looking to get carried through fights and not actually know what they're doing. If I can see a certain problem that keeps cropping up with one person (eg. a tank or healer), I'll inspect them as well. Knowing where your fellow raiders are at can help you decide to stay or go.

7. Know when to stay or quit.

If you're in a terrible PuG, it will usually fall apart by itself. However, if it doesn't and you can see that that the reason you're wiping is because of some key event - not enough DPS on adds to get them down in time, tank always dies at the same point in the fight, the same 3 people always die at a certain point in the fight and leaves the raid short-handed - leave the raid and be polite about it.

If you're in a raid where it's slow going but you can see an improvement with each wipe, think about sticking it out. I've been in PuGs that wipe several times on bosses, but manage to pull through in the end after getting more experience. Sometimes you can even help - point out where things are going wrong and suggest a solution, but again, remember to be polite.

And finally:-

8. Take a chance.

You'll get your share of terrible PuGs, but you'll also get your share of really good ones. Be willing to risk your week's raid ID for a chance at getting something beneficial out of it; if you get one piece of loot, one more boss to add to your Achievements-in-progress or even just experience with the fight, you have one more thing you can use to try and get into a better PuG next week.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fed your pet lately?

If you haven't manually cast Feed Pet to raise your pet's happiness in a long time due to Bloodthirsty and/or the minor glyph, I recommend you do. There is an absolutely brilliant new animation for it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pet Control: Part five - Organizing your pet bar

This is the final post in the Pet Control guide - a long time coming, but better late than never!

Part 1 - Attack, Follow and Stay
Part 2 - Aggressive, Defensive and Passive
Part 3 - General pet abilities
Part 4 - Species-specific pet abilities


To begin: there are 4 slots for pet-specific spells on our pet bar.

For me, the 2 left-most slots are the easiest to reach (Ctrl-4 and Ctrl-5), so the abilities I have here are both important for timing and on long(ish) cooldowns, such as Ravage (for timed stuns in PvP) or Call of the Wild (to coincide with burst DPS - Heroism/trinkets/Beast Within etc).

The right-most slots, if not required for the more important pet spells, are either emergency spells such as Heart of the Phoenix or Last Stand, or abilities that I need to make sure aren't on autocast (due to the bug where pet spells turn autocast on and off randomly if not on your pet bar), such as Growl for my raiding pets and Cower for my tanking pets.

Spells that do NOT need to go on your pet bar include things like Bite/Claw/Smack and Cower or Growl (ie spells that can be left on autocast ALL the time).

Anything left over that needs to be cast manually and you can't fit onto your pet bar, you will unfortunately have to macro and pull onto your player bar.


Prioritizing pet abilities for the pet bar

Ferocity

Ferocity pets are almost always used for DPS and not much else. Almost all of their abilities can be left on or off autocast due to their short cooldown, so you generally won't have problems organizing these.

As an example, here's my raiding wolf's pet bar:



In order, I have Call of the Wild, Dash, Growl and Heart of the Phoenix.

Call of the Wild and Dash (for moving pet in and out quickly) are really the only two spells that I need on the bar, since they need to be cast at specific times. Every other spell (Furious Howl, for instance) is on a short enough cooldown for me not to have to watch it.

To fill the last 2 slots I chose Heart of the Phoenix so I don't have to look for it when my pet dies and Growl because you REALLY don't want that spell on autocast in the middle of a raid and not notice. If you have Lick Your Wounds, I'd put that on the bar instead of Growl.

Do make sure you watch your pet's Focus though - occasionally I've found Bite to be turned off (due to the autocast bug), so if you see that your pet isn't using up Focus like it should be, just check and make sure that all the pet spells are casting appropriately.


Cunning

Depending on what purpose your Cunning pet has, you'll need to have a look at your most important spells.

For PvP, this is usually the species-specific spell, since most people choose PvP pets according to these - Ravage or Pin, for example. Of the family-specific spells, Dash, Bullheaded and Roar of Sacrifice are common in PvP specs; you may also have Roar of Recovery.

Wait a minute - that's too many for the pet bar!



Well, if you have all of these, the best one to macro and pull onto your player bar is Roar of Sacrifice. This is mainly because to cast the spell, you need to be targetting someone to cast it on them - using a mouseover, focus or specific player macro can be more useful than having to target someone manually to cast it from your pet bar.

As for Carrion Feeder, it's an out-of-combat talent and it's therefore not essential to have ready access to it. PvPers are unlikely to have this talent anyway, since there are more useful places to spend a talent point; if you're using your Cunning pet for farming you can rearrange your pet bar accordingly (have Growl/Cower on there and leave the species-specific spell on autocast, for example).


Tenacity

For me, this is the worst pet bar to organize in terms of how many active talents you can get.

In the talent tree, you can get Charge, Last Stand, Intervene, Taunt, Roar of Sacrifice and Thunderstomp all at the same time if you feel like it, plus your species-specific spell and general pet abilities.

Personally, I only use my tenacity pets for farming or difficult soloing. My turtle's bar therefore looks like this:



In order, Last Stand, Roar of Sacrifice, Growl and Shell Shield, leaving Thunderstomp on autocast (I don't have the other active talents; if I did they would replace Growl).

If you're PvPing with a Tenacity pet (a crab, for instance), you will definitely want to macro Intervene and Roar of Sacrifice for your player bar, with Charge and your species-specific ability (Pin for a crab) on your pet bar.


Well... that's it for the Pet Control guide, finally! Feel free to post questions/comments (or email me) if you think I haven't covered something and I'll make sure to get back to you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arena gear for raiding

After hearing so many times that Ulduar vehicles scale with gear, you'd think I would realize Arena/PvP gear works too, not just PvE pieces... but hey, better late than never!


If you don't know what I'm talking about:

Currently, the honour-only non-set pieces start at ilvl 226, with last season's Arena armour at ilvl 232 and weapons at ilvl 239. If you're lucky enough to get drops from Koralon (or good enough at Arena to get the current season's rated Relentless Gladiator gear), the ilvl starts at 245 for non-set pieces and goes up to 251 for weapons.

PvP gear is relatively easier to get than waiting for drops in raids, so if your raid is going for Flame Leviathan with towers up and having trouble, you may want to check if swapping in pieces of your PvP set is actually better than wearing your raiding gear!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

MLG tournament

I know it's a little late - a lot late, in fact - but I've only just managed to watch some matches from the last MLG WoW 3v3 Arena Tournament in Dallas.

Let me tell you, if you like Arenaing, you should watch these.

Not only is there significant hunter action (yes, really. Go watch because you may never see this many in LAN tournaments again!), but these were some of the closest Arena matches I have ever seen.

Since there are so many (I haven't even seen all of them myself yet), I'll recommend some highlights so far:


eMg vs anything

This team, comprised of hunter/enhance shaman/pally or priest (dubbed the "beast cleave" setup due to shaman ghost wolves and hunter pet), eventually won the overall competition.

In their first match (against Fnatic) there is a fairly decent stretch of hunter kiting, although the MVP of this team was definitely the priest/paladin Kintt (yes, the one that used to play for team Pandemic) - his instincts were flawless, particularly in the later matches.


Button Bashers vs anything

This Korean RMP, also known as HoN, is still the most aggressive and dynamic 3v3 team I have ever seen, even though they didn't make it through the round robin heats.

Anyone who follows the Arena scene will probably remember the mage Orangemarmalade; he hasn't dropped his game one bit and both his teammates Numberone (priest) and Hannival (rogue) have their moments too.

Match highlights are winning two 2v2s against a mage/priest (2 different teams) as both a mage/priest and a mage/rogue - not quite as spectacular as the 1v2 Orange pulled off in a previous tournament, but still very impressive.


The finals - eMg vs x6tence

It may not have been that close in the end, but who wouldn't want to watch not one, but two hunters in the finals of an Arena tournament - ZOMG!

They played key roles in winning their matches too, since more than one Freezing Arrow hit its mark - who would have thought it'd be worth the risk to use this spell instead of Frost Trap?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

At least he was polite


I'd love to know how a level 1 could manage to get gold to me in 5-10min when I'm in Ulduar.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I've reached that point

My latest gear acquisition has finally pushed my stats to the point where my PvP-oriented Survival spec is out-DPSing my PvE-oriented BM spec on paper.

I'd thought this day would come... my penchant for stacking Agility over AP probably helped, but since a PvP-Survival spec isn't too different from a PvE-Survival spec, it was only a matter of time, really.

2pc T7.5 + 2pc T8 is still more DPS than 4pc T8 for my BM spec, but 4pc T8 is now superior for my Survival spec. Basically, the order is:

BM 4pc T8 < BM 2pc T7.5 + 2pc T8 < Surv 2pc T7.5 + 2pc T8 < Surv 4pc T8

There isn't *too* much difference between BM and Survival - 40-60 DPS assuming an absolutely perfect shot rotation and raid conditions, so I'm not worrying too much yet, especially since paperdoll DPS never turns out to be the same as actual DPS.

If, however, it ever gets to the point where I'd do significantly more DPS with my PvP spec.... I might have to think about raiding with it as well, or at least change something in my BM spec to make it more raid-optimal.

Probably the former; I get attached to certain talents/glyphs; I don't know if I'd want to give those up!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Faction Champions - Hunter tricks

I decided to compile a list of hunter abilities used in PvP - a) for raiding hunters, because quite a few don't PvP and simply forget about the fact that you can use "X" ability, and b) for raid leaders, because to organize people to CC for this fight, you need to know what each class is able to do.


The Beast Within - Save for coordinated burst DPS or to get out of being CCed

Intimidation, Scatter Shot - Use to interrupt a cast or stop a mob beating on someone

Silencing Shot - Use to interrupt a cast

Distracting Shot - Use to taunt a mob off your raid members (eg. a healer). If your tanks are taunting, it may be best to leave it to them as this shot is in the same diminishing returns category.

Wyvern Sting - Sleeps a mob; will leave a ticking sting on the target so you won't be able to CC it immediately afterward unless you replace the sting with Scorpid Sting

Scorpid Sting - Use on physical DPS mobs to make them miss

Chimera Shot - Use this after Scorpid Sting to disarm melee

Frost (or Freezing) Trap - Drop one as soon as the cooldown is up. Frost may be more useful overall for people to kite targets, particularly if you have Entrapment

Snake Trap - Chance of slowing target; if snake poison is on a target it will break CC, so may or may not be useful depending on strategy

Disengage - Use to kite melee (in conjunction with a snare if possible), or get into/out of range of a mob (or healer)

Deterrence - Use while being focussed

Feign Death - Use while being focussed or to break a spell cast (eg. sheep)

Master's Call - Use to break snares (eg. Frost Nova, Chains of Ice)

Wing Clip, Concussive Shot - Use on melee to slow their movement (towards any raid member; not just yourself)

Tranquilizing Shot - Dispell as much as possible (particularly the DPS target) to purge HoTs and buffs

Aimed Shot - Keep one up (particularly on the DPS target) for the Mortal Strike debuff to healing

Scare Beast - Usable on the hunter's pet

Counterattack - Very few hunters would have this (even the PvPers), but use to stun melee


Random notes:

- Certain pets have CC abilities (eg. Crab Pin, Ravager stun, Spider web, Nether Ray spell interrupt) and talents to help mitigate damage (eg. Roar of Sacrifice, Intercept)

- Certain hunter talents can also help (eg. Concussive Barrage), although a raid-specced hunter is unlikely to have them

- Keeping DoTs up (eg. Viper or Serpent Sting) will keep the rogue from vanishing and important debuffs from being purged; a Flare may help with the rogue as well

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pet Control: Part four - Species-specific pet abilities

To recap:

Part 1 - Attack, Follow and Stay
Part 2 - Aggressive, Defensive and Passive
Part 3 - General pet abilities

Each "species" of pet has a unique ability. Some of these are tailored for DPS, others for PvP, others for tanking... and some are just random abilities that suit the pet but aren't as useful. Below, I've separated the various abilities into specific uses for comparison.

***Note: I am NOT going to argue the pros and cons of each pet here. There are plenty of other places where you can find out which pet is best for what purpose; this guide is about pet control only***


Single target DPS:

Boar: Gore
Cat: Rake (and Prowl)
Devilsaur: Monstrous Bite
Dragonhawk: Fire Breath
Raptor: Savage Rend
Rhino: Stampede
Scorpid: Scorpid Poison
Spirit Beast: Spirit Strike (and Prowl)
Wind Serpent: Lightning Breath

Moth: Serenity Dust
Wolf: Furious Howl

All of the above are pretty standard single-target DPS spells except for Furious Howl, Serenity Dust and the bonus ability Cats and Spirit Beasts get, Prowl. On the whole, these abilities (apart from Prowl) can be left on autocast, although since some of them are DoTs you may need to be careful if you want to use crowd control.

For Prowl, I personally have a macro on my player bar:

/cast Shadowmeld
/cast Prowl

....since I like to use my cat for camping nodes in battlegrounds.


AoE DPS:

Bear: Swipe
Crocolisk: Bad Attitude
Sporebat: Spore Cloud


Swipe and Spore Cloud can both be left on autocast, as their cooldown is quite short. However, keep in mind that Swipe only affects mobs in front of the Bear, and Spore Cloud acts like a Paladin's Consecration - it will only affect the area where it's dropped.

For Bad Attitude, I'd recommend pulling this onto the pet bar and leaving it off autocast, as it's a fairly long cooldown.


PvP Utility:

Bat: Sonic Blast
Bird of Prey: Snatch
Chimaera: Froststorm Breath
Core Hound: Lava Breath
Crab: Pin
Gorilla: Pummel
Hyena: Tendon Rip
Nether Ray: Nether Shock
Ravager: Ravage
Serpent: Poison Spit
Silithid: Venom Web Spray
Spider: Web
Wasp: Sting
Worm: Acid Spit

As these stuns, snares, debuffs and DoTs are all situational and important to cast at the right time, I'd recommend pulling them onto the pet bar and leaving autocast off.

In some cases (Sting, Poison Spit, Lava Breath and Froststorm Breath, for instance), the spells are on fairly short cooldowns, so you may be able to get away with leaving them on autocast. However, you still run a risk of not catching your opponent out if your pet runs out of Focus or the autocast is mis-timed and wasted.


Miscellaneous:

Carrion Bird: Demoralizing Screech
Tallstrider: Dust Cloud
Turtle: Shell Shield
Warpstalker: Warp

Demoralizing Screech can be kept on autocast, as it's a fairly short cooldown.

Dust Cloud, Shell Shield and Warp are all situational and should be pulled onto the pet bar to use manually.


Now that all the pet abilities have been covered, the fifth and final part of this guide will focus on how to organize the million and one pet spells onto 4 measly spell slots on your pet bar!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flying by the front paws


Apparently when cats Levitate, they do the swimming animation instead of hovering.

When running forwards, they run normally (although a foot off the ground), but as soon as you stop they go back to swimming - very odd!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I have never said this before

1. Blood elves can be hunters? Bugger, wish I could have joined the Horde under Sylvanas Windrunner.
Never mind, I've spent so much time on my hunter; I don't want to make another hunter.

2. You can only use ONE potion in combat? Bugger. I guess Alchemy wasn't that useful after all; should have taken Engineering.
Never mind, at least I still use quite a few mana and health potions while soloing/raiding.

3. You can change Factions now?
Never mind, I've spent a lot of time on this server with my guild; I won't change to Blood Elf.

4. Level 60 Onyxia is no more? Yikes, what about the Sinew for Rhok?
Never mind, hopefully Blizz will keep the quest in but make the sinew drop somewhere else; off black whelps perhaps.

5. Forsaken hunters and Night elf mages? Bugger. Wish I could have been those classes.
Never mind, I've spent so much time on my night elf hunter in a friendly guild and server; I won't change now.

6. Hunters will no longer use mana?


For the first time ever, I will join the millions of whiners that seem to think WoW should be made for their own ideals and no-one else's to ask:



Seriously... I made Phyllixia for the pet, the ranged, the "caster" with mana, Shadowmeld and Rhok - now, mages have a pet (water elemental), are ranged, are a caster with mana and can cast Shadowmeld as a night elf. And then there's druids, which can be a tank, healer AND two different types of DPS; how's that for flexibility?

Both of those classes are what I *almost* chose over a hunter, with me wanting to be a night elf and doing a "test of skill" quest for Rhok being the deciders. Similarly, my expected liberal use of mana and health potions was the decider for Alchemy over Engineering.

Of course, there's a small problem with rerolling: My Achievements. And I don't just mean the ones you get points for - I also mean things like soloing Onyxia, being able to chain trap and kite forever as well as DPS and of course getting Rhok as BM spec.

I've spent a lot of time on Phyllixia the Night Elf Hunter and I can't really throw that out.... but I guess it will depend on whether I'll like the new "Focus" system or not.

Hopefully I will, although I'm still going to mourn having even less use for potions than I did previously - maybe I should switch to transmute or elixir mastery....

Friday, August 21, 2009

4pc T8 bonus fail

Can someone explain why 2pc T7.5 (Valorous Cryptstalker) and 2pc T8.5 (Conqueror's Scourgestalker) is actually better DPS (theoretically) than 4pc T8.5?


Bonuses:

2pc T7.5 - Your pet deals an additional 5% damage

2pc T8.5 - Increases the damage done by your Serpent Sting by 10%
4pc T8.5 - Your Steady Shot has a chance to grant you 600 attack power for 15 sec


No, it's not just because I'm BM.

On the hunter DPS spreadsheet, my Survival spec also comes out on top if I pick the 2pc pet bonus over the 4pc Steady Shot bonus (although admittedly not by much).

The only thing I can think of is that because Survival uses a lot less Steady Shot, the bonus doesn't proc as much. For BM, while Steady Shot is used often, my pet is more important for DPS.


I mean, I know both of my specs are far from optimal DPS in either case, but seriously... stop giving us @#$% tier bonuses, Blizzard!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pet Control: Part three - General pet abilities

See Part one (Attack, Follow and Stay) or Part two (Aggressive, Defensive and Passive) for pet commands and stances.

Besides pet commands and stances, your pet will have several "active" abilities or talents that you will need to control. Some will be species-specific (such as Prowl or Pin), but most will be shared abilities between all pets, or within the pet families of Tenacity, Cunning and Ferocity.


Shared pet abilities:

Growl and Cower - Generally, you should have either Growl *or* Cower on at any time, as these abilities will help with your pet's threat control (for either tanking or DPSing, respectively).

One exception to this would be in PvP, where threat control is rarely needed. In this case, however, Growl can be used to your advantage by manually Growling at player pets, taking their focus off the player until your opponent redirects them.

Bite/Claw/Smack - Every pet has one of these abilities, which are pretty much all the same spell. This is a "Focus dump" ability, which means any spare focus your pet may have will be used by casting this spell.

Usually, you would want this on Autocast, as the other pet abilities that cost Focus have a longish cooldown and the Focus would be wasted. However, if for some reason your pet is constantly out of Focus, or you want to make sure your pet will have Focus for when you really need it (a stun or CC ability in PvP, for example), you can turn Autocast off.

Dash/Dive or Charge/Swoop - Keep Autocast off, as this ability will get used every cooldown and waste Focus even if your pet isn't moving.


Tenacity-specific abilities:

Thunderstomp - For AoE tanking, this can be kept on Autocast. If some kind of crowd control is required (or if you don't want your pet pulling aggro on mobs), this needs to be turned off.

Intervene - You may want to macro this, as you need a friendly target to cast it on. A simple macro may look something like this:

/cast [target=player] Intervene

...for yourself, or perhaps:

/cast [target=mouseover] Intervene; [target=player] Intervene

...which will cast Intervene on your mouseover target or yourself if you don't have a target.

Roar of Sacrifice - See above for Intervene. This is also a Cunning ability.

Last Stand - If you expect to use this in a hurry, I would recommend pulling this out onto your pet bar, or creating a macro and pulling it onto the player bars instead. Although it won't be used often, trying to find it in your spellbook can be annoying.

Taunt - See above for Last Stand. In addition, make sure your pet is attacking the target you want it to Taunt before you hit this spell.


Cunning-specific abilities:

Carrion Feeder - Unless you use this a lot and don't need all four spaces for pet abilities, you can leave this one in your spellbook.

Bullheaded and Roar of Recovery - See above for Last Stand.

Roar of Sacrifice - As above for the Tenacity talent.


Ferocity-specific abilities:

Heart of the Phoenix, Call of the Wild and Lick Your Wounds - See above for Last Stand.

Rabid - In general, this can be left on Autocast as for Bite/Claw/Smack. Again, if you find you need to save Focus, you can turn Autocast off.


That's it for now. Stay tuned; I will be covering species-specific pet abilities and how to organize your pet bar (Blizzard really needed to give us more than 4 slots on that thing...) in another post.

(Sorry it's taking so long for these info posts to come out, but I've been rather busy!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Who's the tank?


Gotta love PuGs.

Surprisingly, we didn't wipe, although the 3 DPS frequently pulled aggro (the other two were shaman and warrior, so I was the only one with a decent threat reduction ability).

Good thing most people are overgeared for 5mans now (it was heroic Drak'Tharon Keep); that paladin tank wouldn't have survived the run if the rest of us weren't smashing the place!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I finally caught up


I've now killed everything in the game except the last few bosses of Ulduar and beyond... not counting all of the various hard modes and Achievements, of course.

I will have to go back to Sunwell again though... KJ still has my bow!

I'm in ur raidz, PvPing ur bosses

While everybody else is either busily speculating about the next WoW expansion involving Worgen and Goblins or the fact that the Icecrown raid will have at least 31 bosses, my interest was drawn to a less significant revelation in the latest Blizzcast episode:

In the Trial of the Crusader, which is the 10- and 25-player raid, we have some interesting new mechanics for us. One of the encounters is sort of the raid version of the Priestess Delrissa encounter that was in Magister’s Terrace..........here in this encounter you’ll actually be able to use pretty much everything. So you can sheep them, stun them, snare them, so it’ll be an opportunity for players to use a lot of abilities that they don’t normally get to use in raids, which is really exciting for us.

I know a lot of my (PvE server) guildies will probably hate it with a passion, but I love this kind of thing. Any PvE encounter that involves some sort of dynamic challenge where your skills need to extend beyond doing a perfect DPS rotation gets a thumbs up from me, whether it involve kiting (Gluth, Hyjal trash), chain trapping (Moroes), PvP (Delrissa) or heavy coordination (Achievements in heroic Oculus).

Bring it on!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pet Control: Part two - Aggressive, Defensive and Passive

Part one of this guide covered the pet commands Attack, Follow and Stay.

Once you have that under control, we move onto the pet "stances" - Aggressive, Defensive and Passive, in that order as the three right-most spells on your pet bar.

As for Attack, Follow and Stay, the default key bindings for these spells are rather awkward to reach, so you may need to re-bind them to a different key and/or make a macro:

/petaggressive
/petdefensive
/petpassive


Using Pet Aggressive

Having your pet on Aggressive is usually not a good thing, as it will randomly attack anything within a small radius without you having to control it. However, there are situations where it is useful.

In PvE, this usually means places where there are lots of adds and you don't have to worry about either loot (you need to "tag" each mob with a spell to get loot from it) or pulling aggro.

Examples of this would be the stair event in Zul'farrak or perhaps (if you're careful) Gothik in Naxxramas, although I wouldn't recommend having your pet on Aggressive in raids and dungeons unless you're absolutely confident that you can control it (and not forget to switch it back to Passive/Defensive later!).

The most useful PvE use of Pet Aggressive is to nab highly-camped mobs - standing on the spawn point with your pet on Aggressive will usually help you tag the mob before anyone else in the area unless there are 20 mages spamming Arcane Explosion around you.

In PvP, having your pet on Aggressive is incredibly useful for flushing out stealthers - your pet will usually be able to see rogues and druids before you do even if you have Track Hidden and a Flare up, so use it's best to use it when you know those classes are around.


Using Pet Defensive

If you're comfortable with controlling your pet, it's easiest to leave your pet on Defensive most of the time. This ensures that when you're attacking, your pet is also attacking.

However, you still have to keep an eye on your pet and make sure it's attacking the mob you want it to - as I mentioned in Part one under "Using Pet Attack", pet AI isn't exactly genius. Some fights are better done with your pet on Passive, even if it means more micromanagement; your pet will often turn and attack a mob with an AoE attack that hits your pet rather than sticking to the mobs you're attacking yourself (Assembly of Iron's Stormcaller, for instance).


Using Pet Passive

This is what I would recommend you have your pet set to all the time if you want to be safe. The only downside is that if you're not on the ball with Pet Attack, you'll lose DPS.

Pet Passive is also useful for pulling your pet out of danger. In particular, it can be used in conjunction with Master's Call if you need to get your pet back fast - pulling out of Sartharion flame walls, for instance. On the flip side, it can be used to get your pet back into range for Master's Call - often in PvP your pet will be too far away to cast it.

Finally, as mentioned in Part one, you will need to have your pet on Passive and Stay if you want to Misdirect them and don't want them attacking when you shoot.



That's it for Part two - Part three will be coming as soon as I finish playing with all of the new 3.2 stuff!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So close...

...and yet so far.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pet Control: Part one - Attack, Follow and Stay

I first realized the importance of pet control way back in WoW beta, when a friend of mine (who was more intuitive about gameplay than I) asked why my low level hunter wasn't sending my pet in to attack mobs.

Prior to this, I had been using my pre-level 10 "rotation" of Concussive Shot, Serpent Sting, Autoshot and Raptor Strike when the mob came into melee range. Back then, of course, pets on Defensive only attacked when a mob hit you... so it wasn't until the mob was half dead that my pet came to help.

From then on, it was clear to me that learning how to make sure my pet was active and attacking a mob - preferably keeping said mob off my hunter at the same time - was a priority.
So: on to the content!


How to make your pet Attack, Follow and Stay:

The 3 leftmost buttons on the pet bar are Attack, Follow and Stay in that order, with the default keys being Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2 and Ctrl-3.



Now, unless you have an unusually-shaped hand (or perhaps have long fingers), these combinations are extremely awkward to hit as keybinds.

There are 2 ways you can change this to work.

Firstly, you can alter the default options for the Blizzard interface. This can be found by pressing Escape for the Game Menu -> Key Bindings, and scrolling down to Secondary Action Buttons 1-9. Pet Attack is actually given a second default keybinding, found further down and defaulting to Shift-T, which you can change as well.


Secondly, you can use macros.

/petattack
/petfollow
/petstay

Some people like to combine these commands with other spells so that their pet attacks at the same time as casting:

/cast Hunter's Mark
/petattack

However, I don't recommend this myself, because I always prefer not to link spells (so I can cast Hunter's Mark *without* sending my pet in, for example).


Using Pet Attack:

Pet Attack should be one of your most-used pet spells, particularly in raids and dungeons or when grouping. You really want your pet to be attacking the main DPS target, which it doesn't always automatically do.

If your pet is on Passive, it will not attack anything unless you use Pet Attack. In this case, you will need to use this ability every time you change targets.

If your pet is on Defensive, it will automatically attack the first target you hit and switch to other targets if the first one dies. In this case, you need to be careful - occasionally your pet will NOT be hitting the target you want it to be hitting, so you still need to use this ability fairly often to make sure it's DPSing the right target.

This is especially the case in raids, where your pet will hightail it for a target that's casting spells, but you don't want it to be DPSing. For example, your pet will often want to whack Freya after an add dies, so you want to make sure it's hitting the next bunch of adds. In addition, your pet will follow Razorscale around after a group of adds has died and not be able to reach her while she's in the air - something you don't want to happen, as your pet will often end up standing (and dying) in blue fire.


Using Pet Follow and Stay:

Pet Follow brings your pet back to your side, but unless your pet is on Passive, it will run off and continue attacking, so I tend to just hit Passive for the times I want to recall my pet (Pet Follow is generally the default state). I only tend to use Pet Follow after using Pet Stay.

Pet Stay tells your pet to stay exactly where it is, meaning it won't run back to your side. This is extremely useful for different situations where you don't want your pet to be next to you.

For example, if you're pulling to a tank using Misdirection, you can use Pet Stay to keep your pet out of the way - particularly useful for a fight such as Auriaya, where there is a possibility your pet may be insta-gibbed by her adds if you don't get behind the wall on time.

Another important use is if you have to jump off ledges. Pet AI is quite advanced these days compared to what it used to be, but you still need to be careful in dungeons and raids (particularly in places like Gnomeregan where jumping off without dismissing your pet tends to mean your pet takes the long way around and pulls every mob on the way down). Instead of Dismissing your pet, you can use Eyes of the Beast, jump your pet down, use Pet Stay, cancel Eyes of the Beast and then jump down yourself.

Finally, one of my favourite uses of Pet Stay is when doing difficult soloing. You can use Eyes of the Beast to park your pet away from you, Misdirect mobs to it, run past the mobs and then Feign Death once far enough away from them, thus avoiding having to kill them. You can also put a Frost or Freeze Trap in between the mobs and the pet so that they'll be even slower getting to your pet.

Here's an example screenshot in Slave Pens of what I mean:

That's it for this section, stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The ins and outs of pet control


My proud "BM spec since beta" tag originally came about because when I joined my guild, I was horrified that pretty much all of the hunters had the attitude that their pet didn't matter (this was around the time of MC when you either specced MM or weren't taken seriously).

Having rolled a hunter partly for the pet, I put myself on a steep learning curve with the intention of teaching my guild a lesson - you *could* keep your pet alive in raids, you *could* out-DPS MM hunters as BM (particularly if they didn't bother using their pet) and you *could* do the Rhok quest as BM without any outside help.

So... I thought it was about time I did a series of posts on pet control. Some of this will be relevant to other pet classes as well, but for the most part it'll be from a hunter-specific point of view.


Part one will cover the 3 pet handling skills - Attack, Follow and Stay
Part two will cover the 3 pet "stances" - Passive, Defensive and Aggressive
Part three will cover general pet abilitites, including Ferocity/Tenacity/Cunning talents


These posts will be coming over the next couple of weeks, depending on how much free time I have.

Also, if there's anything in particular you'd like covered in these guides, please leave a comment/question and I'll try and address it - I may, for example, have additional post(s) covering family-specific spells (such as Prowl for cats or Shell Shield for turtles) if there's any interest.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hunter soloing vids

I haven't had time to do any challenging solo stuff on my hunter lately, since I've been spending some time on a lowbie priest duoing with a friend who decided to try WoW out.

I've definitely been missing the excitement of dying endlessly while working out how to do stuff though, so I've decided to give a quick update on other hunters that have been having fun:

Dysphoria and Haiatu I've mentioned before, but two other hunters that have been posting their soloing exploits more recently are Skhope of Icecrown (going by the name chanc6) and Tribunalx of Whisperwind (TribunalXHunter).

Skhope covers Attumen, Ahune, and various bosses of ZG and MC, whilst the more interesting vids of Tribunalx include soloing AQ40 trash for mount drops and normal Nexus (the majority of his vids actually cover a broad range of hunter topics unrelated to soloing, as he has his own general hunter blog).

Hopefully I'll get some time to kill these bosses myself at some point - I always make it harder for myself by being lazy and not respeccing out of my general raiding BM spec to buff the tanking potential of my pet, but I'm sure I can do it - Attumen is definitely one I want to try, since it'd be fairly quick to farm for the mount!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to Hunterify your WoW experience

Casters:
  • Pull mobs from the furthest your spell range reaches
  • When running from mobs, jump-kite (jump, spin between 90-180 degrees to face your target, cast and spin back before landing) to cast your instant spells (eg. Moonfire, instant Shadowbolts, Fireblast)
  • Strafe away from mobs (or around mobs, if they're hitting someone else) in between wanding/casting, without losing any time in between shots apart from the global cooldown

Melee:
  • Back up until the furthest range the hit box of the mob allows
  • If stuck at range through snares/nova, use your ranged weapon at every opportunity, taking care to never run out of ammo
  • Back mobs away from other CCed mobs in between attacks to increase the distance the CCed mob has to run to get to you, thus keeping the CCed mob out of action for as long as possible

Vehicles:
  • If jousting, strafe sideways immediately after a melee hit to use a ranged attack before the mob closes the distance


....Don't tell me you hunters don't do this on your alts. You know you do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm not OC, just... organized

I'm one of those people that likes everything to be just so. I'm not quite OC, but it probably seems like I am at times, or at least mildly. For example, as of writing this post I have:
  • Achievements - 6840 points
  • Mini-pets - 87
  • Mounts - 82
  • Tabards - 1, but I've "collected" 25 for the Achievement on the tabard vendor
  • Novelty Trinkets - more than 2 bags' worth
  • Novelty or seasonal gear/items - 3 bags' worth
  • Cool-looking hunter-specific gear - 1 bag's worth
...with all of the items grouped together in appropriate categories in my bank.

My bags are similarly organized, with the first 2 bags taken up with consumables and useful gear (eg. fishing pole, port items), bandages and food in the 4th and spare gear in the backpack. Each item never moves from its appropriate slot, which means I can usually find everything straight away and won't vendor anything accidentally.

My bank alts have a different bag for each item type (skinning, mining, cloth, enchanting etc).

I'm sure I'm not the only neat freak/collector out there, because there are plenty of Achievement hounds with more points than me. I don't suppose I'll ever be able to catch up to them since my PvP skills, raiding opportunities and time is limited, but at least I can keep our guild bank tidy...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Resistance to change

After putting it off for more than half a year, I finally made the decision to transfer my 76 human warlock Allevia, formerly of Ner'zhul, over to Proudmoore to join my hunter.

Sure, Ner'zhul was pretty much dead for the Oceanic time slot, but I kept making excuses for why I wanted my warlock to be there:

  1. It's a PvP server, which is much more fun and challenging (well, I think so, anyway...) than a PvE server!
  2. It costs (gasp) real life money!
  3. There are people on Ner'zhul that won't be able to find me if I leave!


All good reasons. However:
  1. Being on a PvP server is great if you actually have people to PvP with/against... which I didn't, unless I logged on during US peak times on the weekend.
  2. If I feel like a gankfest, I can always log onto Frostmourne horde.
  3. I've subscribed to WoW for so long and I'm not totally broke.
  4. The people on Ner'zhul I met online won't remember me because I rarely play my warlock
  5. My RL friends who have characters on Ner'zhul a) don't have BC, let alone WotLK; b) decided that they don't like Alliance; and c) are more likely to re-roll on a different server when they re-subscribe for a month or so, since that's what they always do.... and I can always make a Death Knight.

So... why was it so hard?

I think the main reason is... I just don't like change.

I would never change my character's name (I was extremely happy that "Allevia" wasn't already taken on Proudmoore), I don't change my character's hair (I changed it back after getting the Achievement on my hunter) and I didn't like moving Allevia from what has essentially been her home for 4 years.

Am I weird? Perhaps. Blizzard didn't put in a barber shop on a whim. I do spend a lot of time at the character creation page, so maybe it's just that my characters are perfect already.

Or maybe it's because I kept accidentally picking the wrong talents for my Diablo 2 sorceress (you couldn't unlearn skill points in that game; you had to start over completely) too many times and never got over it...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Stars come out to play

And apparently, the best and brightest are in China.

Congratulations to the Stars guild, who managed to beat both Europe and the US to the Heroic: Alone in the Darkness Achievement while:

  1. Playing on another country's servers (Taiwan, while China's own WoW servers are stuck in limbo)
  2. Starting WotLK one week after the EU/US servers
  3. Doing it legitimately, unlike a previous false alarm

You have to hand it to these pro Asian gamers; they really are dedicated. I'm definitely looking forward to the upcoming 3v3 Arena competition at Blizzcon to see if the Koreans can repeat their success from competitions earlier in the year, or whether the US and Europe will fight for top placings as they did in Blizzcon 2008. In particular, I can see SK Gaming USA's RMP team as looking quite formidable after they took out both the Blizzard US regional finals and MLG Columbus.

Monday, July 6, 2009

You know you've done a good job when....

...someone randomly whispers you in the middle of a heroic VoA PuG and asks if BM is the new top DPS spec.

Obviously, it wasn't a particularly well-geared group - I'd usually be behind top DPSers in my guild as well as in PuGs (rogues and mages lately, although I'm never entirely sure whether it's because of the class or the players) - but at least I know that random will PuG with me again!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For the.....Horde?

While Blizzard's announcement that you will soon be able to switch Factions didn't really surprise me, from a lore point of view I'm rather horrified.

After all, I may not be an RP'er, but I still do think of Phyllixia as an individual with a personality, allegiances and a history; changing Phyllixia's race, class, name or faction would change her entire character.

From a practical point of view.... well, a few of my guildies (and, I'm sure, many others) are excited about the prospect; there will probably be a few more alts in our guild when the option becomes available.

Personally, I wouldn't switch - not only because of the friends and acquaintances I've accumulated while PuGging and raiding with my Alliance guild, but also because "Phyllixia" is a night elf, not a blood elf, and she serves Tyrande.

Of course, if Blizzard ever decides to add Forsaken hunters, Tyrande had better be prepared to argue her case to keep me!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

3v3 Arena Weekend

GotFrag has finally released videos of the MLG Columbus WoW 3v3 Arena tournament some weeks ago, which includes full coverage of every single match.

While there weren't any brilliant 1v2s a la Orangemarmalade, some of these were definitely worth watching (you could probably skip most of the voiceover commentating if you're just interested in actual Arena footage, but the commentators were actually quite amusing in between games).

Rogue/Mage/Priest teams of course still dominate, although there are a couple of Rogue/Lock/Shaman and cleave teams thrown into the mix.

Unfortunately the single hunter (in a holy pally/DK/hunter team) didn't have a very exciting role, so there isn't much hunter action.... but then, this is Arena; besides that one European team with Nihilum's Cherez in Season 2, hunters just aren't a good fit.

In other related news, this weekend is the Blizzard regional finals for WoW and WC3, and the European site is streaming all of the action live.

I was interested to see that some of the competing 3v3 Arena teams are using totally different compositions (Shaman/Hunter/Mage and Priest/Pally/Shaman, for example), so I'll be keeping an eye out for how well these teams do against the dominant RMP.

If you can't watch live, WC3 replays are up on the site already, but expect to wait weeks for the 3v3 Arena videos, if last year is anything to go by!

**Edit: 3v3 Arena vids are actually going up right now. Props to the Blizzard web team!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vice Versa

Lately I've been feeling rather amused - or maybe wistful - at the thought of how my "main" (BM) and "off" (Survival) specs have been playing out for me.

Occasionally - fights with adds in particular, which is actually quite a few Ulduar fights - my PvP-Survival spec (which I was using either for Replenishment or because I've forgotten to switch out) has out-DPSed my PvE-BM spec.

On the flip side, my all-DPS 3v3 Arena team benefits more from theburst damage of BM than the CC my Survival spec provides.

What to do? Should I switch to using BM for PvP and Survival for PvE (keeping the same talents I already have, of course - I'm not "BM spec since beta" for nothing and I'm certainly not going to start speccing the latest fashion now!)?

I'm pretty sure my BM spec would still out-DPS my Survival spec in fights where mana and adds aren't an issue (Replenishment and AoE capability put Survival way ahead of BM in these cases, even when it's a PvP spec), but it's hard to tell when my guild doesn't use the same raid composition from week to week.

Or... maybe I should switch specs according to fights - BM for fights like Ignis and Hodir; Survival for Razorscale and Freya, for instance?

Hmm... now that I think about it, that actually sounds like fun. It'd be a challenge trying to keep my shot rotation straight if I'm switching from one spec to another every other fight - perhaps I'll try that in one of my guild raids and see how I go!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Deterrence/Hearth

Deterrence, while great in theory, is extremely awkward to use.

People tell you it's "bad" to keyboard turn and back up - and it is - but to use Deterrence you have to do exactly that to make it work.

Thankfully, a Blizzard post has given me hope it will be changed to 360 degrees, which would enable us to do what we do best - run out and get range - without having to face our opponents:
At this point we are probably likely to keep RoS as is (though we may have room to lower the cooldown a little) but buff Deterrence by removing the facing requirement. Deterrence is supposed to be your survival tool and RoS is supposed to be a cool bonus ability.
The Roar of Sacrifice change had me complaining in my previous post, but a Deterrence change would definitely go a ways towards making up for it - the only thing we'd have to worry about while protected by a 360deg Deterrence is facing another hunter.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Patch 3.PvP

Patch notes for 3.PvP, a.k.a. 3.2, are up.

Why 3.PvP? Well... most of the changes I thought were interesting are related to PvP, with only a couple of PvE changes making me sit up. Let's see....
The newest season of Arena gear can only be purchased if you meet the requirements with your 3 or 5-player team rating.
Wow, what a blow to 2v2ers. Sure, it's a bit more of a scissors-paper-rock bracket than the other two, but I've always found that bracket fun. There wouldn't be any reason for "hard core" Arena-ers to do it any more.
Players with experience gains turned off who compete in Battlegrounds will face off only against other players with experience gains turned off.
Well... it's now easier for twinks to *be* twinks... but when you enter the battleground you're not really "twinked" compared to the other twinks, are you? I'm sure we'll see twinks trying to get around this to join the "regular" battlegrounds.
Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead.
One of two major non-PvP changes that made me think. If heroics drop Conquest, there may be less people going to Naxx/Maly/OS... not great for PuGs, although it's good that heroics will be visited again.
All items that provide "X mana per five seconds" have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second.
The other non-PvP change... and a nerf. What hunter has more than a token few Mp5 points from gem(s) on their gear?!
All pets now receive 40% of their master's resilience and 100% of their master's spell penetration.
About frickin' time, but what about armour penetration? And is 40% really enough Resilience?
The time that traps will exist in the world after being put down has been reduced to 30 seconds, down from 1 minute.
This will make setting up chain trapping slightly more difficult, since you won't be able to set it up early and wait for the trap cooldown.
Traps now have separate 30-second cooldown categories: Fire (Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap and Black Arrow), Frost (Freezing Trap, Frost Trap) and Nature (Snake Trap). A hunter can have one trap of each category placed at one time.
OK, not bad at all. Survival hunters in particular will have an extra Entrapment from Snake + Freeze/Frost, and be able to use Black Arrow to boot. Guess I'll have to move some of those traps back onto my bar.
Roar of Sacrifice: Redesigned. This ability can now be used on any friendly target to make that target immune to critical strikes, but the hunter pet takes 20% of all damage taken by that friendly target. Cooldown increased to 2 minutes.
Buff to PvP.... major nerf to PvE. Using it to reduce incoming damage when doing elite soloing just got that much harder.
Alchemy
  • Added a new pattern for Flask of the North, usable by players with a high alchemy skill. The recipe is purchased from Northrend trainers. Flask of the North increases your spell power, attack power or strength for 1 hour and is usable in Arenas. It is not consumed when used.
  • Endless Healing Potion and Endless Mana Potion no longer usable in Arenas. Amount of health and mana has been increased, and the cooldown reduced.
Had to add this one in, since I'm a Herb/Alchy - I'm not sure whether I should call this a buff for Arena or not. Stats are definitely nice, and the Endless potions definitely needed a buff in terms of how much HP/mana they gave you, but sometimes that extra HP boost was enough to keep me alive.

There were many other changes that interested me, but aren't hunter-related as such, so I'll refrain from discussing them here... this post is a pretty huge wall o' text as it is!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Epic upgrade IRL

Before:



After:

When we're not madly AoEing, my new computer gives me up to 70-80fps in Ulduar, an instant (rather than - literally - 5-10min) load-in time for Dalaran and the ability to run (and tab out to) other programs running in the background without the 5min wait.

I've also discovered that my character's shadow isn't actually a small dark circle on the ground, which was rather disconcerting at first, but it's definitely growing on me - my drake flapping against snow was a good couple of minutes' entertainment.

Hooray for a better WoW experience!

(In case you're wondering - the settings for my old computer are fine for raiding; y0u won't miss any important boss spell effects. You could even lower the settings further than what I had)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

To die or not to die

When I started in WoW, there were many reasons I rolled a hunter rather than any other class.

A pet. A ranger. Shadowmeld. Sylvanas Windrunner.

One reason I didn't was Feign Death.

However, once I did train the spell, it was like a drug with no side effects. One that made you invincible.

Soloing group quests? Have a go and if it doesn't work out, Feign Death and start over. Aggro too many mobs? Feign Death and run away. Dazed off a mount? Feign Death, re-mount and continue. Spot a herb? Let my pet get aggro, gather the herb, trap the mob, Feign Death, mount up and get the hell out.

Unfortunately, my alts, which aren't hunters, don't have Feign Death.... and boy, do they pay for it.

I think, though, I'm starting to break free of my hunter habits and play classes as they should be played. For example, I'm finally confident enough on my mage to pull a group of melee mobs and AoE them down rather than killing them one at a time. My warlock has less downtime than my hunter while farming. Even my druid rarely dies after learning hotkeys for Swiftmend and Nature's Swiftness.

Of course, some things I still can't handle - I tried several times to solo Princess Tempestria on my druid, but always ran out of mana and health by the time I got her adds down and had to give up (I'm still certain it can be done; I'm just not as capable with the class yet... and my unusual spec probably didn't help either) - but my alts don't die nearly as much as when I started.

So, I'm happy I've weaned myself off the addiction
. Feign Death isn't a drug any more, it's a car.... and if I'm on a character that can't drive, at least I've trained myself to take the bus!