Monday, March 28, 2011

I cheated to get this

...I specced Survival.

It's probably the first time ever that I've had to respec specifically for a raid, since a small DPS loss doesn't tend to wipe raids and usually that's all that you lose if you're the "wrong" spec.

For Magmaw, on the other hand, my raid counts on me to handle the parasites... and after the raid wiped repeatedly due to me not being able to keep aggro on them and also not having enough overall raid AoE DPS to get the first pack of worms down before the second pack arrived, I was forced to admit defeat - something I absolutely hate to do.

I'm the BM-spec-since-beta girl, the one that managed to Rhok all her demons entirely as BM (if you have no idea why it was so hard to do that quest chain as BM back then, pretend you have no talents at all, not use your pet, do only 60% of the DPS of your average hunter - because pretty much all raiding hunters were MM back then - and then try and kite an elite with Serpent Sting and nothing else. Even then, you're still cheating because we can now auto-shot on the move :P).

I do not like to give up on things, just because I'm a different spec. I don't mind if it's harder; in fact I revel in the challenge. I just don't like it being next to impossible (and keep in mind... I don't have anything against Survival itself. In fact, if it wasn't for exotic pets, my two specs would be MM and Surv).

Fixing Multi-Shot next patch is something I'm really looking forward to, because I hate not being able to do something in the spec I want. .. and with a 250% buff on Multi-Shot, hopefully it'll be enough for me not to have to respec again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest post on Warcraft Hunters Union

Apparently I've paid my dues, because Frostheim over on the Warcraft Hunters Union blog has honoured me by asking if I would do a guest post on his site... so if you'd like to know about how to get the most out of PuGs, go check it out:

Pain-Free PuGging for Hunters

Surprisingly, he let me post the whole thing - I always ramble on way too long! :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cataclysm Pet Control: Part five - Organizing your pet bar

This is the final post in the Pet Control guide, updated for Cataclysm.

Part 1 - Attack, Follow and Move To
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 Sonic Blast (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, 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 (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 pets are usually 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 usual Ferocity DPS pet bar:

In order, I have Call of the Wild, Dash, Cower 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 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 Cower because you can use it when your pet is taking too much incidental damage (which doesn't happen often in a raid situation, but may do for specific boss abilities like bleeds).


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 - Sonic Blast 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 on there and leave the species-specific spell on autocast, for example).


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, Shell Shield, Cower, Thunderstomp and Last Stand, leaving Growl on autocast (I don't have the other active talents; if I did they would replace Thunderstomp). If my turtle had Taunt, I'd put that on the first slot and shift Shell Shield and Cower down one, because you're more likely to want Taunt in an emergency and on an easy-to-reach hotkey than the other abilities.

For the same reason, I recommend putting species-specific spells in the first slot for easy access and macroing Intervene and Roar of Sacrifice to put on your player bar.

And that's it for the Pet Control guide! 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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cataclysm Pet Control: Part four - Species-specific pet abilities

To recap:

Part 1 - Attack, Follow and Move To
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 bonus 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***

Raid buff or debuff replacements:

Bear: Demoralizing Roar (and Rest)
Devilsaur: Terrifying Roar (and Monstrous Bite)
Dragonhawk: Fire Breath
Hyena: Tendon Rip
Fox: Tailspin (and Play)
Raptor: Tear Armor
Ravager: Ravage
Rhino: Stampede (and Horn Toss)
Serpent: Corrosive Spit
Shale Spider: Embrace of the Shale Spider (and Web Wrap)
Silithid: Qiraji Fortitude (and Venom Web Spray)
Spirit Beast: Roar of Courage (and Spirit Mend and Spirit Walk)
Sporebat: Spore Cloud
Tallstrider: Dust Cloud
Wind Serpent: Lightning Breath
Worm: Acid Spit (and Burrow Attack)
Wolf: Furious Howl

Most of the straight buffs and debuffs can be left on autocast, as you will want these to be up at all times. However, if there are adds in particular fights that die quickly and your pet is required to switch targets frequently, it may be better to keep pet debuffs on long cooldowns (such as Fire Breath) off autocast so that it can be fired on the main target as soon as possible.

For the pets with extra abilities (mostly the exotics), some care is needed in using them.

Ancient Hysteria, the equivalent to Bloodlust/Heroism and Time Warp (and sharing a cooldown with these), can only be used once per fight, so you will need to determine exactly when this should be cast and be ready for it. Keep in mind that if your core hound is incapacitated or in the middle of casting another ability (eg. Bite), it may not cast and you'll need to spam the ability to make it work.

Utility spells (Spirit Mend, Horn Toss, Venom Web Spray, Web Wrap and Burrow Attack) should be off autocast. I recommend pulling these onto the pet bar to use as appropriate; Horn Toss, Venom Web Spray and Web Wrap to CC adds and Burrow Attack for AoE.

For Spirit Mend in particular, a macro may work better, as this ability needs to be cast on a friendly target. For example:

/cast [@mouseover,help] Spirit Mend(Exotic Ability)

...will cast Spirit Mend on your mouseover target.

For Prowl (and Spirit Walk as well, if I ever manage to tame a Spirit Beast), 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.

Play and Rest are bonus abilities, which I tend to leave in the spellbook and manually find when required.


Bat: Sonic Blast
Beetle: Harden Carapace
Bird of Prey: Snatch (and Trick)
Crocolisk: Ankle Crack
Chimaera: Frost Breath (and Froststorm Breath)
Crab: Pin
Dog: Lock Jaw
Gorilla: Pummel
Monkey: Bad Manner
Moth: Serenity Dust
Nether Ray: Nether Shock
Scorpid: ClenchSpider: Web
Turtle: Shell Shield
Warpstalker: Time Warp
Wasp: Sting

For almost all of these, I would recommend pulling them onto your pet bar and manually casting them as required. Frost Breath and Ankle Crack could possibly be left on autocast due to the short cooldown, but you really want the rest to be ready when you need it.

Trick is another bonus ability and as with the others I'd leave it in the spellbook and save your slots on the pet bar for something else.

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!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2v2 in Cataclysm

It's pretty well into the season for Arena now, and I thought I'd share some observations about the 2v2 bracket:

Firstly, when Blizzard stated they weren't going to balance around 2v2, they really meant it. Most of my Arena matches are incredibly one-sided; all-caster teams get pwned even before they run out of cooldowns, but all-plate teams will almost always come out on top (unless they're *really* terrible, anyway). Rather a different mindset to previous seasons where there was always a chance you could win.

Druids are as annoying as ever - if they can kite well, they can last for ages (or at least a good 10min after their partner dies, particularly in the Dalaran Sewers).

The rogue ability Smoke Bomb is incredibly annoying, as I'd predicted when Cataclysm was still in the beta stage - not only can you not target the enemy, your healer also cannot target you. Not brilliant when your Disengage cooldown isn't up and you're disarmed, although the next patch should help with that (when Deterrence no longer requires a melee weapon, meaning you can cast it while disarmed). It's also very difficult to tell where the smoke is, since there are no bright colours involved in the spell.

I'd really like to try some 3v3 at some point to see how balanced it is, but it's difficult to find a time when everyone is free. Plus, I'd have to figure out some new strats because I'd have new classes to deal with; my old 3v3 partners (rogue, mage and occasionally hunter to go along with my current pally partner) don't play any more.

Oh well, at least my gear is improving - 1 purple a week that I can even wear to raid is pretty hax considering!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cataclysm Pet Control: Part three - General pet abilities

See Part one (Attack, Follow and Move To) 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 - Generally, you should have Growl on autocast when your pet is tanking and off if not.

One exception to this would be in PvP, where Growl can be used to your advantage by manually Growling at player pets, taking their focus off the player until your opponent redirects them.

Cower - You can leave this on autocast if your pet will be taking some damage and you don't want to worry about it, although I highly recommend not doing so.

The main reason is because if you don't have Improved Cower, your pet will take a 50% movement speed hit - not good if you're trying to switch targets or pull your pet out of danger quickly.

The second reason is that Cower will only autocast when your pet's health dips below 40%. Occasionally there will be times when you can pre-empt incoming burst damage to your pet, so you may want to save the cooldown for those times.

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 - These aren't pet spells, but talents that are common and useful enough for most people to have at least one pet specced into. Keep autocast off, otherwise the ability will get used every cooldown and waste Focus even if your pet isn't moving.

Tenacity-specific abilities:

Thunderstomp - For AoE tanking, this talent 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 [@player] Intervene

...for yourself, or perhaps:

/cast [@mouseover] Intervene; [@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 an easy-access place on 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.

Wolverine Bite - 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.

Ferocity-specific abilities:

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

Rabid - See above for Wolverine Bite.

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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's a Vicious Circle

...literally, because this season's Arena gear is called just that - "Vicious". :P

So does anyone remember Arena Season 4?

I was 2v2ing quite happily with a pally, Brutal gear was the latest fashion and everyone was wearing it because it was by far the easiest way to gear up.

Well, I'm finding myself in that place again: My paladin partner is back, I'm now wearing 8/16 pieces of PvP gear - exactly half - for my best PvE DPS set and it's by far the easiest way for me to gear up.

It's probably because my guild started raiding a little later than usual, meaning I haven't had much of an opportunity to gain much raiding gear, but still... it's a good thing I enjoy Arenas, or I'd probably still be stuck with blues; as it is, I'm well on my way to Cataclysmically Epic, with only 3 slots to go.

Plus, I guess the hunter PvP set does look way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the stupid murloc outfit!