Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kitties Rhok

Being a hunter and a blogger, it would be remiss of me not to at least mention BRK's latest post. However, most hunter blogs would already have done this particular topic to death considering his popularity, and the internet really doesn't need another post about it.

So instead, I present to you one of my earliest screenshots:

It isn't THE oldest (I have a few from WoW beta), but it's the first to really show off my "oldest" pet - the one that has levelled with me from level 10 through 80 (although admittedly went through a slight skin change in Stranglethorn Vale); the one that has been to battlegrounds, Arena, raids and dungeons alike; the only one I'll never dismiss; and still one of the prettiest pet models around.

"BM spec since beta" would not have been complete without a faithful shadow to trail me, fight with me and die for me, and Shadow has done more for me than any other pet.

Here's a /salute to the kitties of the World of Warcraft; you most definitely Rhok.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Arena match breakdown - Play-by-play

Although I don't have a high-level mage, I do somehow manage to keep up with the basics of how to play one - probably because I've always had an affinity for ranged caster classes in any game I try.

Even so, you really don't know the ins and outs of a class until you've spent a significant number of hours on it.

In a previous post concerning the epic efforts of the Korean mage Orangemarmalade in a 1v2 Arena match, I had noticed him casting shields and timing his DPS to perfection, but I had also downplayed his opponents' efforts in taking him down, citing cockiness as a major factor.

Well, from watching this video, I think I was a little hard on SK Korea - they may not have played quite as carefully as they could have, but this play-by-play vid detailing the exact spells and talents Orangemarmalade used to survive and then take out Kwana (SK's mage) has me even more impressed.

Now, if only someone would do this for all the hunter matches!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stayin' alive for Survival

I've been playing around with different 3.1 Survival specs recently, trying to find one that is not only useful for Arena, but (being the eccentric person I am) also fun for elite soloing.

However, there really isn't much choice if you take a standard 51+pt Survival build - "non-mandatory" talents aren't any more interesting than the others, so you can't really deviate much from the cookie-cutter basics: Explosive Shot, Scatter Shot, Trap talents, Aimed Shot etc.

Well, some of you will remember that when WotLK came in I initially chose a Readiness/BW build even before everyone found out how good it was DPS-wise, just because I thought double immunity would be an absolute blast.

What I *have* been thinking about... just a crazy idea, nothing more at this point, although I'm starting to like it more and more... is a Readiness/Wyvern build.

Before all the Survivalists start screaming at me for even contemplating a Survival tree without Explosive Shot, allow me to explain:

MM tree - pretty standard stuff.

  • 3 pts in Imp Arcane, because if I'm going to exclude Explosive Shot, Arcane (which shares the CD, as well as benefits from all of the Survival talents) needs to be good.
  • 3 pts in Imp Stings, mainly for the Arena angle (dispelling).
  • 1 pt in Go for the Throat, so my pet has enough Focus.
  • The rest are no-brainers.

Survival tree - CC talents and Arcane Shot instead of Explosive.

  • No Black Arrow. Lock and Load procs off traps, and I can live with Trap dancing *if* I ever need to (I can't imagine I would; the only time I'd be Survival in PvE is to CC mobs or for Replenishment, which would be extremely rare). Instead, 2 pts in Point of No Escape.
  • All of the standard CC talents.
  • Token pts in Hunting Party (for Replenishment) and Expose Weakness.
  • No T.N.T. - Don't have Black Arrow *or* Explosive Shot, so useless. The rest of the talent points that buff Explosive Shot also buff Arcane Shot.

Will this build be viable? I don't know. Missing out on Explosive Shot seems crazy, and the DPS drop could be huge... but will the CC capability make up for it in Arena?

(Before you even comment - yes, I know going full MM for Silencing/Chimera is probably better utility-wise than Wyvern in Arenas. However, I'd prefer keeping Wyvern for the PvE CCing fun)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ruby Void-ed

One of the harder heroic dungeon Achievements is Ruby Void, where Eregos in heroic Oculus must be killed without a red drake.

I hadn't really expected to get this Achievement without some dedicated strategizing with a guild group, but last night I was pleasantly surprised when I landed one of those rare PuGs where everyone in the group was skilled, geared... and most importantly - quick learners.

None of our wipes were wasted; each new suggestion was put into place and no-one made the same mistake twice. The final strategy ended up as follows:
  1. 3 bronze, 2 green drakes - you can (and should) buff them with player buffs. We only had a druid.
  2. Bronze #1 starts channelling Rift (Note: this does not aggro Eregos).
  3. Everyone else starts the fight by Lancing/DoTting (see below for Bronze DPS cycle).
  4. As soon as the boss aggros, everyone starts a timer. There is a default Blizzard stopwatch (accessed via clicking on the minimap time and enabling "Show Stopwatch").
  5. At ~13sec, Bronze #1 hits Time Stop. As whelps appear every ~15sec or so, this should prevent whelp spawns.
  6. At ~27sec, Bronze #2 hits Time Stop.
  7. If the DPS cycle is going as planned, Eregos should phase shift soon after, with either no or one whelp group spawn.
  8. Green drakes DoT up the whelps, but they are ignored for the rest of the fight.
  9. If the timing is right, Eregos will phase back and enrage soon after (yell: "Such insolence..." etc). At this poing, Bronze #3 hits Time Stop.
  10. After this, it's a DPS race to kill Eregos before you wipe to whelps. Time Stop is hit on cooldown for all drakes.
DPS Cycle
  • Bronze #1 starts the fight channelling Rift, #2 and #3 Lance.
  • When Bronze #1 has a 10stack, Bronze #2/3 channel Rift. AFTER this happens, Bronze #1 Lances.
  • The Lance from Bronze #1 should do enough damage to the boss to give Bronze #2/3 an almost immediate 10 stacks. Bronze #1 should then channel Rift. AFTER this happens, Bronze #2/3 Lance, then start Rift again... and the cycle continues.
Our final attempt wasn't perfect - I had aggro near the end (I was on Bronze, not Green like the screenshot implies!) and died - but we did get the Achievement, some new people to put on our friends list, and an agreement to get back together to do Make it Count. PuGs Rhok!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Easy raids and guild recruitment

On the Proudmoore forums today, more than 30 out of the 50 most recent forum threads were of raiding guilds (including a lot of the top guilds on our server) requiring a healthy mix of tanks, healers or DPSers... even a couple specifying hunters, which you'd never expect to happen.

This isn't, however, restricted to just my server - I've been seeing a lot of bloggers posting about their raider shortage lately, and if they're anything like me they'd really rather be posting about something else and only do so out of desperation.

(And speaking of desperation: Southern Wardens needs DPS; visit our guild forums if you're interested. Please. Trying to get a full raid to try Sarth2D/3D is like a PvEer trying to hit 2000 Arena rating at the moment)

So... where are all the applicants?

Personally, I'm blaming Blizzard's new raiding design.

You couldn't really PuG the 40man raids at 60 (except maybe MC/Ony), therefore you needed to join a guild. You couldn't really PuG 25man BC raids (pre-nerf, and not counting Gruul/Mag) at 70 either.

On the other hand, PuGging WotLK raids is so easy that I often see LFG notes indicating they'll only join if there are 2+ drakes up on Sarth, or that they have the key for Malygos and the Achievement for killing him.

Non-guilded casuals aren't forced to join a guild to raid like they were in pre-WotLK times; you can raid when you like and still get gear from Emblems if you have bad dice.

I'm even guilty of doing it myself - my only kills of 10man Malygos have been in PuGs, and I have one of the best (and best-looking!) hunter melee weapons to show for it. I've also been known to PuG 25mans when I know my guild isn't doing it that week.

Will Ulduar be hard enough to force people to start applying to guilds? I don't know. On the one hand, I hope so, because my guild needs raiders. On the other hand, I don't, because I like having the option to PuG stuff if I want to.

Of course, I can always hope that there are enough people on Proudmoore to be able to have both....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Solo hijinks

Over the past few weeks, raiding has become routine - any other Achievements my guild has yet to complete only involves hitting stuff faster and harder, and not any extra personal skill.

Of course, this doesn't help my restless nature in the least... so in my spare time I've been having some fun soloing stuff.

What stuff? Well...

ZG - High Priest Venoxis (Snake) and Bloodlord Mandokir

Heroic Slave Pens (except the 2nd boss; the bleed is too hard to heal through with Mend Pet and 2pc T5, although that may change with the pet buffs in Patch 3.1)

Heroic Auchenai Crypts

I also duoed/trioed some other 70 heroics with guildies, and finally completed Outland Dungeon Hero. Not a bad effort, really... and much more fun than polishing a helm.

I know I should try and get to Revered/Exalted for Sons of Hodir and stock up on herbs for Ulduar, but... I just need a couple of runs in AQ20/40 to get to Exalted Cenarion Circle. And, you know, wouldn't it be great if I could manage to do it solo?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

3-hunter Raz tanking abolished

I'm not entirely surprised with this change, although I'm a little disappointed:

Taunts from players and pets are now on a shared diminishing return, meaning the strategy of using 3 hunters to ping-pong tank Razuvious using Distracting Shot won't be possible.

I realize the change was more for other bosses, where tanks could decrease damage taken by running the mobs around with taunts, but the Raz encounter really *does* require some actual coordination and concentration between the hunters to achieve it. Not to mention - all those guilds who use this strat because of a lack of priests will be totally out of options when the patch comes around.

Oh well - I suppose those guilds coordinated enough to do the Raz fight with 3 hunters will probably not need to do Naxx once Ulduar comes in anyway. I'd have liked to have a go at it myself, but my guild's priests are fairly reliable and we don't want to waste too much time on farmed content (we still haven't tried Sarth 2D or 3D yet), so it's not likely I'll get a chance before it gets nerfed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Never say die

Although I'm a fan of Arenas, I wouldn't usually highlight a match that a) had no hunters and b) has plenty of coverage on other web sites.

However, this particular match has an absolutely brilliant display of talent by a mage that appears to be someone who shares my philosophy of never, EVER, giving up.

Background to the vid:

Competition - Intel Extreme Masters global finals. These 2 teams beat the best from Europe and the US for an all-Korean showdown.
Competitors - SK Gaming Korea (AKA Council of Mages - includes priest "Hyoga") vs H O N (includes mage "Orangemarmalade")
Round - 4 of a best of 5, SK Gaming lead 2-1.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7duX4QpVaAQ&feature=channel_page

Note that rules of the competition state that if the match is not over in 20min, the win goes to the team that has done the most damage.

With that said, part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HACPLr4_La8&feature=channel_page

And if you want to see H O N cleaning up in the 5th and final match: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsMbtqDStng&feature=channel_page

Random notes from watching this:

  1. Korea dominates Starcraft, Warcraft 3, and now WoW 3v3 Arena. So much for the US and Europe.
  2. Kill E A, another Korean team, was actually meant to compete instead of SK Gaming Korea... meaning that you *could* say the top three 3v3 teams in the world are from Korea.
  3. All three Korean teams are Rogue/Mage/Priest.... either RMP is still the best, or Koreans can just play better than everyone else with a well-rounded and proven 3v3 comp.
  4. Don't get too cocky (watch Hyoga wanding Orangemarmalade just before his mage dies)
  5. Never give up. Not only did Orangemarmalade save his team the round by going 1v2, the team went on to win the next match (probably due to SK Gaming still being in shock). Bloody awesome /props to him!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My glyph is ruined

If the post title sounds familiar, I'll save you the search and remind you of that other blog post I made when my Bestial Wrath/Readiness build went out with the trash.

Among the latest PTR notes is this little line:
Glyph of Aspect of the Monkey: No longer works while under the effect of Aspect of the Dragonhawk.

Did Blizzard decide to make a range of twink-only glyphs or something?

This was my favourite glyph - I had been reserving a spot for this even in my PvE raiding build when dual specs came in, because of the gleefully fun proc - and it's basically useless now.

Not only that, but hunter glyphs (PvP and minor glyphs in particular) are mediocre at best; it's a case of "which glyphs suck the least" rather than the "there are so many choices I can't decide" problem some of the other classes have.

I'll talk about PvP more in a separate post, but for now, I guess I'll have to resign myself to the cookie cutter BM raiding build in 3.1 (except Hawk Eye), with cookie cutter raiding glyphs. /sigh.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's the little things...

I came across something in a random forum thread today that had me giving huge /props to Blizzard for consistency:

Nefarian has a DK class call.

Apparently, our old friend Nef has now added a raid-wide Death Grip to his repertoire, complete with a yell a la Mortal Kombat's Scorpion: "Death Knights, get over here!"

Sure, it may be one of the more harmless class calls he does (I swore every time I forgot to hit my unequip macro before he broke my bow), but it's great to see Blizzard hasn't forgotten to update the old content.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

WoW language packs?

The above chat took place in a 10man Malygos PuG I joined, where the raid leader had warned me (and another guy) that they would occasionally be typing in Japanese.

I had expected them to type English characters for the Japanese sounds - eg "Hajimemashite" - but what showed up instead was the bolded "?".

Until now, I hadn't realized there were additional language packs for WoW (or not the US version, anyway.... I'd expected the EU people to have French/German/English on the same servers).

Pretty nifty way of communicating with your friends, I'd have to say - unless someone else has that particular language loaded on their version of WoW, they won't be able to tell what you wrote!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hyjal fun

This week, my guild absolutely flew through Naxx, OS1D, Malygos and Archavon.

With a spare couple of hours, I decided to lead a small retro raid through Hyjal (Archimonde being the only BC end boss besides Sunwell that I hadn't killed).

Raid details:
  • Ignored NPCs for the most part (tried to involve Jaina/Thrall for bosses where possible)
  • 10-13 people - a few sub-80s, including the OT, 2-3 healers
  • 1 shot everything except Archimonde, even with quite a few who had never seen Hyjal before
  • Archimonde took a few goes, but went down fairly quickly, even with a couple of deaths towards the end of the fight

It was surprisingly easy; I have no doubt you could do it with less than 10 people, if they were well geared and knew the fights (particularly Archimonde). 15+ level 80s would blitz the place.

After the success of last night, I'm keen to try BT (I still need rep) and Sunwell (for Thori'dal) too, although I'd be wary leading a raid through the latter - I'm not the best raid leader and I tend not to volunteer to lead raids unless I know the place fairly well.

However, it's rare that the guild officers will initiate retro raids (they're probably burned out from leading our normal raids, which is fair enough!), so if I want my legendary bow I'll probably have to bite the bullet (arrow?) and lead the raid myself.