Friday, 19 September 2008

Warning: Contents May Occur

Ok, so it's been a few days since I last made a post. And even longer since I made something actually worthy of the title of content. So prepare for quite a random sprouting of stuff. And quite a bit of it.
Why the delay? The usual suspects of an essay, and a test, and some arena to do. And generally having to sort out my future, my education, finding possible solutions to various problems (oil alternatives, fresh water alternatives, and the epic fail that is NZ politics at the moment).

Prepare for a reasonably long post. It was originally so big (well, cluttered), I've added a table of contents. Normally each issue would have a separate post, but I don't want the blog to become cluttered simply because I have a couple of hours I can dedicate to writing, and quite a bit to cover. But, knowing the importance of organising stuff nicely, I've added in sections and subsections.

Also, rather than my own takes on stuff, I'll post quite a few links to other peoples' posts.

Table of Contents:
Section 1: Wrath Stuff

Subsection 1.1: Latest Update (8962) - mostly links
1.1.1: Druid updates
1.1.2: Crafting

Subsection 1.2: Other Stuff
1.2.1: Hunter Pets
1.2.2: Personal Plans in Wrath

Section 2: Not-Wrath Stuff
2.1: Review of the PvP Bible (aka: What Not To Buy)
2.2: Should I finish 'Gearing a Druid Tank'
2.3: My Addons
2.4: Other

Section 1: Wrath Stuff

Subsection 1.1: Latest Update (8962)
So, the newest patch (8962) hit the Beta realms yesterday (or maybe the day before :S), and naturally there are a few changes, many of which I won't discuss, mostly because there's going to be a new patch soon anyway (I hope) and lots of people are bound to have discussed the changes relevant to their class.

1.1.1: Druid updates
Since for me the important question at the moment is what is life going to be like for my druid, I will summarise what I read: bears got buffed, moonkin got rearranged, and trees got nerfed. Oversimplification, but for me this was the essence. Phaelia, in her straightforward manner, did a very useful analysis that can be found over at Resto4Life and she also provides further links for the non-resto changes. The bear changes are quite good, in my opinion, and will probably see me tanking, rather than healing (unless I really like tanking as a Death Knigget, apart from making silly Monty Python references, I don't know what else I'd do with a DK... bite peoples' legs off?) and Runycat takes a good look at them (with innuendo) at Unbearably HoT.

On the note of druids never going oom... my 2v2 (druid/hunter) fought warlock/druid last night. The druid was PvE geared and spec'd, by the time my druid was oom and had used Innervate, the other one was at about 6k/9k mana, despite a masked Viper Sting. Then he ran off, in Treeform, to try to Cyclone my partner and oops... lock died (about the only time I've had an advantage in Ruins of Lose), then it took me another minute to kill the druid, since he'd regen 220 mana a tick, and I had no mana myself (had to save up mana for Aimed Shot+Silencing Shot+burst). Apparently gear != skill, who would've thought?

1.1.2: Crafting
Some more details on WotLK crafting have emerged. Horns at Locksucks did a nice summary a few days ago, and MMO Champion has the details on the 8962 changes. My Hunter, who will likely be my main in Wrath, is currently a leatherworker, and the idea of a LW-only wrist-enhancement, although pretty strong, paled in comparison to the profits that other crafters could make (I didn't sell nearly as many Armorkits in BC as I'd have hoped, mostly made them with a lot of my mats for guildies), but more BoEs seem nice. Hopefully we get some snazzy BoP stuff too, because I wasn't all that impressed by the Ebon Netherscale gear, although the Breastplate was good.

Subsection 1.2: Other Stuff
Couple of other points I want to mention, not directly related to 8962.

1.2.1: Hunter Pets
If you haven't heard/seen/been told yet, hunter pets are the bees' knees in Wrath (foshizzle?). They are sheer awesome. Proof? BRK solos a Fel Reaver (remember those massive screen shakers that would ambush you in HFP?And 3 shot fresh 70s?) and shows off two other pets in this movie.

I spent some time yesterday browsing the Petopia list of Pet Skills in WotLK, with an eye on possible PvP pets once the pre-Wrath patch hits. While the Core Hound's Lava Breath looks awesome, especially against Paladins and Shamans, the Chimaera's Froststorm Breath is also pretty impressive - with the right talent it should have a cooldown of 7 seconds, and slows by 50% for 5 seconds, which sounds pretty nice, especially if it stacks with Concussive Shot. I very much look forward to using my favourite spec in Arena, Marksman just doesn't do it for me.

1.2.2: Personal Plans in Wrath
So, what am I going to do in Wrath of the Lich King? Well once it comes out I might just level my 42 Paladin to escape the crowding in Northrend and Eastern Plaguelands. Well, maybe. I'm really looking forward to levelling my Hunter as BM (ty 4 da love, Blizz) and getting an earlier start in arena (started 3/4 of the way through Season 3 in BC). My Druid will also be levelled at some point, and will probably end up being a Bear, because at the moment Resto isn't too appealing to me (BC Resto really spoiled me, especially for PvP), and I suppose a Death Knigget is compulsory, especially since I am a big fan of WoW lore (if I wasn't a Hordie, I'd totally play a female gnome DK with pink pigtails, 4lols).

Actually, there's a good chance I'll just take Darksentinel through the Old World, taming everything in sight.

Section 2: Not-Wrath Stuff
Stuff not directly related to the upcoming expansion, and therefore not as interesting...

2.1: Review of the PvP Bible
I bought a guide the other night, the PvP Bible. The site is impressive, the promises were extravagant, the price (I thought) fairly reasonable at $37US (moan, crappy NZ dollar, moan) and I thought it'd give us a nice chance to see 1600 and get that S4 chestpiece (feel free to laugh, or /golfclap). I paid, downloaded it, read it (skimming sections), thought about it, and became slightly pissed off.

The guide is an impressive 237 pages in the form of a 20MB pdf. Over 130 pages (i.e. more than half) are about duels, and to me dueling is a fun pastime to be undertaken outside Orgrimmar or in Gadgetzan. Among its more stellar points are a 4/41/16 Hunter build touted as "the best talent build" (note that the 4 BM points are in Improved Aspect of the Hawk) and the comment that "Warlocks have a tough time against Mages". Now, I don't play a Mage, I don't play a Warlock, but from those people I know who do play them the general sentiment I hear is "the only way a mage will beat a warlock is if the Warlock is AFK, has no pet and has res sickness, and even then you might want a rogue to help". Again, I might be wrong, but I dug up this old WoWInsider post (god, that thing is lols) and it roughly confirms my view.
Now I know the disclaimer on the site states: "The website disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy of the content of this website. Visitors assume the all risk of viewing, reading, using, or relying upon this information. Unless you have otherwise formed an express contract to the contrary with the website, you have no right to rely on any information contained herein as accurate. The website makes no such warranty." (i.e. I'm a sucker for buying it), but I'll briefly list here the things that occured to me just while I was reading it, and only in relation to Hunters in 2v2 and 3v3, and just basic points:
- vs. a Warrior or other melee it is imperative that you keep Wing Clip on them at all times
- a Viper Sting macro (and liberal use thereof) is compulsory for draining
- Frost Trap is vital to aid a partner to kite melee.
- a Scorpid pet is necessary to mask Viper Sting from dispel effects using Scorpid Poison
- a Hunter should use Aspect of the Viper against Healer/DPS, and have two weapons with +30 int enchants macro'd for regen phases
- when Rogues Vanish, be ready to Flare them out.
- using your trinket on Cheap Shot is generally a bad idea, because it will always be followed by Kidney Shot
And this was only some of the really obvious stuff I thought should've been in there. A lot of other errors abounded, such explaining how to tank the Marshals in Vann's/Drek's room in AV, without stressing the importance of despawning them by capping towers (and getting 63 bonus honor). There is one focus macro, but no explanation on how to actually use focus. I could go on, for quite a long time, in fact.
i actually emailed the author of the PvP Bible with a lot of these points and got the following response "Thanks for the feedback. It’s much appreciated. I’m looking to continuously update the guide so you can expect all these points noted." Hmmm...

In other words, for me the PvP Bible was not a lot of help. In fact after reading it, I did arena and lost some rating (although don't blame the PvP Bible for that), and I really feel it doesn't deliver on what it's marketed as (yes, I did read the disclaimer, but I have yet to find the "3 hours of tutorials", although I am notoriously bad at finding things even after I trip over them, like a stepladder at work the other day...).
On the POSITIVE side, I think the guide could be quite good (if a bit overwhelming) to someone new to PvP and arena, who doesn't know their class and really is interested in the correct spell rotation required for a Warlock to beat a Rogue. But between WoWWiki and ArenaJunkies, you can get most of that (and more, and more reliably) for free and you don't even need to brave the WoW Forums.
I'm fully tempted to write my own quick guide to Hunters in Arena. And despite me having around 900 less rating than what the author of the PvP Bible claims he has, I will say that I'm confident that in terms of Huntering my guide will be better than what I downloaded. I'll even email him a copy.
Conclusion: from what I've seen, for anyone with some arena and PvP experience, the PvP Bible is not worth the cost of the bandwidth used to download it, and for everyone else it's not worth the cost of purchasing it and then taking the time to read and learn it.

2.2: Should I Finish 'Gearing a Druid Tank'
Self explanatory, really. This refers to part one of my guide, "New Druid on the Block: Gearing a Bear Tank". Part two, which is in the process of being written, is actually about the items that an adolescent feral tank should consider when beginning tanking.
But. Wrath of the Lich King is what, 8 weeks away? Is anyone intending on hitting 70 as a Druid during this time who wants to tank and won't be dragged through Kara and Heroics to get gear? If there is, let me know, especially if you think continuation of the guide might help you (or them). Otherwise there's a good chance that I'll work more on feeding other teams in BG9 my arena rating, and the guide will go to the same place that New Years' Resolutions go. Yes, my sense of timing is sh*t.

2.3: My Addons
Now, my system resources are limited to whatever Dell sold me in 2003. They're so bad that I ended up buying both an AGP and a PCI-E graphics card before realising that my mobo had, in fact, slots for neither (I do have 3 PCI slots, which don't match the 4 slots cut into the case).
In short, this means that if I run X-PERL unit frames in EOTS, I get about 2 fps. So I can't use a lot of addons. What I do use has been carefully selected:
- Omen. The must-have Threat Meter. To anyone who wants to know if they're winning on threat, this is for you.
- Recount. A nicely detailed dps meter that has around 2^16 other functions (margin of error, 2^17).
- Lootlink. Less commonly used, but I really like this addon. It keeps track of items you've seen and allows you customised searching while in-game. Almost as good as an in-game WoWHead for items. Sort of. As long as it doesn't reset.
- Outfitter. My favourite Addon, helps me keep track of the 5 sets my Druid uses (cat dps, tanking, moonkin, PvE Heal, PvP Resto). And an interesting method of encountering my personal vocabulary of obscenities when it resets.
- Cartographer. Useful for viewing Instance Maps, coords, keeping track of key points and a few other things.
- Cosmos UI. A collection of addons, but currently I only use the 'clock' addon, which shows a big clock (surprise) with tooltip information so I can see how much I've procrastinated/how much sleep I've missed.
- Grid. A recent addition, following the debacle of me trying to use the default UI to heal Kara and BGs. This thing is pretty lightweight (compared to say, the Perl derivatives), very nice and customisable, and Phaelia provides a great tutorial that is pretty much a must-see for any Druid who wants to use Grid to heal.

2.4: Other
Thanks for bearing with me so far. In conclusion, Draenei are awesome (they have the best questline EVER, you learn a new language, get transformed into a beautiful, fast, invisible cat and free some baby Furbolg who are locked in cages - I found this out when Aman'Thul went for it's two-hour maintenance on Tuesday, although three hours later it still wasn't up so I went to bed) and I hate Ruins of Lordaeron (we went something like 15-11 yesterday in 2v2, and we won about 3 of the 12 matches that took place in the Ruins). For now, I'm going to sleep, and I'll reread this post tomorrow, correct all the stupid erorrs that crept in and probably delete large chunks.

If you have any questions, requests, comments, arguments, flames, feel free to comment (a reasonably level of maturity is encouraged) on this post, or send an email to (maturity optional):

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