Saturday, 29 November 2008

[Guide] Northrend Faction Rewards

Originally the concept for this post came from my desire to take a look at the various faction rewards to plan out gear and rep grinding for my toons. Hopefully you will find it a useful resource for doing something similar.
I'm going to list every item offered by neutral (i.e. not Horde/Alliance-affiliated) quartermasters in order of reputation level required, adding both the item type and what sort of role it would best suit (healer/dps/tank - my opinion), or the relevant profession.
I won't be going over how to get rep with these factions, you can find that information elsewhere and I haven't experienced enough to be able to make good calls on this.
If you notice any errors, please let me know.

The Argent Crusade
Frenzyheart Tribe
The Kalu'ak
The Kirin Tor
Knights of the Ebon Blade (technically not a Northrend faction :P )
The Oracles
The Sons of Hodir
The Wyrmrest Accord

The Argent Crusade
Tabard of the Argent Crusade (75) - Tabard
Arcanum of the Fleeting Shadow (80) - Head Enhancement, Shadow resist
Cloak of Holy Extermination (78) - Back, Physical DPS
Special Issue Legplates (78) - Plate Legs, Tanking
Standard Issue Legguards (78) - Plate Legs, Healing
Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector (80) - Head Enhancement, Tanking
Argent Skeleton Crusher (80) - 2H Mace, Physical DPS
Battle Mender's Helm (80) - Mail, Caster DPS
Design: Guardian's Twilight Opal - Jewelcrafting
Fang-Deflecting Faceguard (80) - Head, Plate, Physical DPS
Purifying Torch (78) - Wand, Healing/Caster DPS
Zombie Sweeper Shotgun (80) - Gun, Physical DPS
Boots of the Neverending Path (80) - Feet, Leather, Tanking/Physical DPS
Helm of Purified Thoughts (80) - Head, Plate, Healing
Polished Regimental Hauberk (80) - Chest, Mail, Physical DPS
Signet of Hopeful Light (80) - Finger, Caster DPS/Healing
Pattern: Brillian Spellthread - Tailoring

Frenzyheart Tribe
Design: Reckless Huge Citrine - Jewelcrafting
Nepeta Leaf - Misc
Roasted Mystery Beast - Misc
Azure Strappy Pants (78) - Legs, Leather, Physical DPS
Design: Jagged Forest Emerald - Jewelcrafting
Discarded Titanium Legplates (78) - Legs, Plate, Healing
Giant-Sized Gauntlets (78) - Hands, Plate, Tanking
Muddied Crimson Gloves (78) - Hands, Cloth, Healing/Caster DPS
Scavenged Feathery Leggings (78) - Legs, Mail, Healing/Caster DPS
Sparkly Shiny Gloves (78) - Hands, Plate, Healing
Stolen Vrykul Harpoon (78) - Thrown, Tanking/Physical DPS
Disgusting Jar - Non-combat Pet
Frenzyheart Insignia of Fury (70) - Trinket, DPS

The Kalu'ak
Design: Seer's Dark Jade - Jewelcrafting
Freshly-Speared Empreror Salmon (75) - Misc
Cuttlefish Scale Breastplate (76) - Chest, Mail, Physical DPS
Cuttlefish Tooth Ringmail (76) - Chest, Mail, Healing/Caster DPS
Ivory-Reinforced Chestguard (76) - Chest, Plate, Tanking
Pattern: Dragonscale Ammo Pouch - Leatherworking
Pigment-Stained Robes (76) - Chest, Cloth, Healing
Turtle-Minders Robes (76) - Chest, Cloth, DPS
Whale-Skin Breastplate (76) - Chest, Leather, Tanking/Physical DPS
Whale-Skin Vest (76) - Chest, Leather, Caster DPS
Whalebone Carapace (76) - Chest, Plate, Physical DPS
Design: Defender's Shadow Crystal - Jewelcrafting
Pattern: Trapper's Traveling Pack - Leatherworking
Totemic Purification Rod (78) - 1H Mace, Healing/Caster DPS
Traditional Flensing Knife (78) - Dagger, Physical DPS
Whale-Stick Harpoon (78) - Polearm, Hunter DPS
Mastercraft Kalu'ak Fishing Pole (70) - Fishing Pole, Fishing
Nurtured Penguin Egg - Non-combat Pet

Kirin Tor

Tabard of the Kirin Tor (75) - Tabard
Arcanum of the Flame's Soul (80) - Head Enhancement, Fire resist
Helm of the Majestic Stag (78) - Head, Leather, Caster DPS
Lightblade Rivener (78) - Dagger, Physical DPS
Shroud of Dedicated Research (78) - Back, Healing/Caster DPS
Spaulders of Grounded Lightning (78) - Mail, Shoulder, Physical DPS (PvP)
Arcanum of Burning Mysteries (80) - Head Enhancement, Healer/Caster DPS
Flameheart Spell Scalpel (80) - Dagger, Caster DPS
Girdle of the Warrior Magi (80) - Waist, Plate, Healing
Mind-Expanding Leggings (80) - Legs, Leather, Physical DPS/Tanking
Stave of Shrouded Mysteries (80) - Staff, Druid Tanking
Boots of Twinkling Stars (80) - Feet, Mail, Physical DPS
Fireproven Gauntlets (80) - Hands, Plate, Tanking
Ghostflicker Waistband (80) - Waist, Leather, Caster DPS
Robes of Crackling Flame (80) - Chest, Cloth, Caster DPS/Healing
Design: Runed Scarlet Ruby - Jewelcrafting
Pattern: Sapphire Spellthread - Tailoring

Knights of the Ebon Blade
Design: Deadly Huge Citrine - Jewelcrafting
Tabard of the Ebon Blade (75) - Tabard
Arcanum of Toxic Warding (80) - Head Enhancement, Nature resist
Dark Soldier Cape (78) - Back, Caster DPS
Pattern: Nerubian Reinforced Quiver - Leatherworking
Toxin-Tempered Sabatons (78) - Feet, Plate, Tanking
Unholy Persuader (78) - Fist Weapon, Physical DPS
Design: Wicked Monarch Topaz - Jewelcrafting
Arcanum of Torment (80) - Head Enhancement, Physical DPS
Reaper of Dark Souls (80) - 1H Sword, Physical DPS
Runeblade of Demonstrable Power (80) - 2H Sword, Physical DPS
Spaulders of the Black Arrow (80) - Shoulders, Mail, Physical DPS
Sterile Flesh-handling Gloves (80) - Hands, Cloth, Healing/Caster DPS
Wound-Binders Wristguards (80) - Wrists, Leather, Healing/Caster DPS
Pattern: Abyssal Bag - Tailoring
Belt of Dark Mending (80) - Waist, Cloth, Caster DPS/Healing
Darkheart Chestguard (80) - Chest, Leather, Physical DPS
Death-Inured Sabatons (80) - Feet, Plate, Physical DPS
Kilt of Dark Mercy (80) - Legs, Mail, Healing/Caster DPS
Design: Glowing Twilight Opal - Jewelcrafting

The Oracles
Design: Vivid Dark Jade - Jewelcrafting
Oracle Secret Solution (70) - Misc
Slow-Roasted Eel (75) - Misc
Design: Sundered Forest Emerald - Jewelcrafting
Fishy Cinch (78) - Waist, Cloth, Healing/Caster DPS
Glimmershell Shoulder Protectors (78) - Shoulders, Plate, Death Knight Tanking
Glitterscale Wrap (78) - Waist, Leather, Physical DPS
Gold Star Pauldrons (78) - Shoulders, Plate, Physical DPS
Sharkjaw Cap (78) - Head, Mail, Caster DPS/Healing
Shinygem Rod (78) - Wand, Caster DPS
Toothslice Helm (78) - Head, Mail, Physical DPS
Mysterious Egg (70) - Non-combat Pet
Oracle Talisman of Absolution (70) - Trinket, DPS

The Sons of Hodir
Arcanum of the Frosty Soul (80) - Head Enhancement, Frost resist
Giant Ring Belt (78) - Waist, Mail, Physical DPS
Lesser Inscription of the Axe (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Physical DPS
Lesser Inscription of the Crag (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Healing
Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Tanking
Lesser Inscription of the Storm (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Caster DPS
Pattern: Mammoth Mining Bag - Leatherworking
Spaulders of Frozen Knives (78) - Shoulders, Leather, Physical DPS/Tanking
Reigns of the Ice Mammoth (60) - Alliance Mount
Reigns of the Ice Mammoth (60) - Horde Mount
Broken Stalactite (80) - Dagger, Physical DPS
Giant-Friend Kilt (80) - Legs, Leather, Caster DPS
Spaulders of the Giant Lords (80) - Shoulders, Plate, Physical DPS
Stalactite Chopper (80) - 1H Axe, Physical DPS
Greater Inscription of the Axe (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Physical DPS
Greater Inscription of the Crag (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Healing
Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Tanking
Greater Inscription of the Storm (80) - Shoulder Enhancement, Caster DPS
Reigns of the Grand Ice Mammoth (60) - Alliance Mount
Reigns of the Grand Ice Mammoth (60) - Horde Mount
Design: Smooth Autumn's Glow - Jewelcrafting
Pattern: Glacial Bag - Tailoring

The Wyrmrest Accord
Tabard of the Wyrmrest Accord (75) - Tabard
Arcanum of the Eclipsed Moon (80) - Head Enhancement, Arcane resist
Bracers of Accorded Courtesy (78) - Wrist, Plate, Healing
Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions (78) - Back, Tanking
Fang of Truth (78) - 1H Sword, Physical DPS
Sash of the Wizened Wyrm (78) - Waist, Cloth, Caster DPS
Ancestral Sinew Wristguards (80) - Wrist, Cloth, Healing/Caster DPS
Arcanum of Blissful Mending (80) - Head Enhancement, Healing
Breatplate of the Solemn Council (80) - Chest, Plate, Tanking
Gavel of the Brewing Storm (80) - Mace, Caster DPS
Sabatons of Draconic Vigor (80) - Feet, Plate, Tanking
Pattern: Mysterious Bag - Tailoring
Dragonfriend Bracers (80) - Wrist, Leather, Physical DPS
Grips of Fierce Pronouncements (80) - Hands, Mail, Healing/Caster DPS
Legplates of Bloody Reprisal (80) - Legs, Plate, Physical DPS
Reigns of the Red Drake (70) - Mount
Sandals of Crimson Fury (80) - Feet, Cloth, Caster DPS/Healing
Design: Glimmering Monarch Topaz - Jewelcrafting

NB: I'd suggest that spirit and MP5 are more healer-centric stats, but DPS do need them to some degree, and some items without them are still good upgrades for healers, since the prominence of "Healing/Caster DPS" and "Caster DPS/Healing".
Also: anyone noticed how few of these items have sockets? Grumble...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Best Place to Farm Borean Leather

Ok for some reason I'm getting a lot of Google hits by people looking for places to farm Borean Leather in Northrend, I'm not quite sure why, since I haven't talked about skinning much, but I'll quickly address it here.
First off, why are you people even searching for this? There are so many things to skin in Northrend. If you'd been looking for Saronite or something, that would've been understandable. Well, I guess Leatherworking takes a lot of leather to level up.

You should be able to get a lot of leather just by leveling through Northrend. If you start in Borean Tundra, right off the bat you can grab leather and Nerubian Chitin from the things skittering around Warsong Hold, as well as Arctic Fur (I'd like to point out that Arctic Fur has a random chance of being skinned off every mob). In fact by the time you leave Borean Tundra, your skinning should be pretty much maxed, owing to the Nerubeans, the odd wolf or Caribou and the plethora of mammoth roaming the Tundra. Since killing the mammoths isn't directly a quest goal, and they travel in packs, it should be easy to kill a bunch and skin them (even Rogues, Shamans and Feral Druids will get AOE in the next big patch). Just stay away from the D.E.H.T.A. if you're on a skinning spree.

If you started in Howling Fjord, then there's Shoveltusks and a few wolves to skin as you quest, but mostly you'll be fighting Humanoids so the pickings for leatherworkers are leaner than the Tundra (much better for cloth though).

Grizzly Hills is also good for skinning, but Sholazar Basin, for those high enough, really stands out for Leatherworkers. Most things can be skinned, and there's also Drakes for Icy Dragonscales. Additionally, in the Basin, the mobs are high enough levels that you won't be skinning scraps.

If you want to try something else, you can get a decent amount of Leatherworking materials from running instances. Violet Hold is good for Icy Dragonscales and Borean Leather, and Azjol'Nerub is great for Nerubian Chitin. Since you'll probably be running stuff with at least two DKs you have a decent chance of being the only skinner, and if you're a Druid or Shaman then the fact that everybody in Northrend is looking for a healer means you'll have an easy time finding groups (tonight during a two hour session there were two groups "LF Healer Utgarde Keep" in Howling Fjord).

I hope that helps all you Skinners who have been directed to Udder Madness.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

New Oceanic Realm: Saurfang

So Blizzard finally admitted that 2000+ queues on all Oceanic servers was kind of silly, and we now have a new server: Saurfang. This goes a way towards disproving the theory that Blizzard hates players and just wants to roll in their money.
I transfered my Death Knight across, leaving my other toons on Aman'Thul so I can do stuff with the guild once the queues go away. Naturally I'm not the only one who thought of this, and Saurfang seems to be about 80% Death Kniggets, coming from a variety of backgrounds, but predominantly Jubei'thos, Frostmourne and Aman'Thul, from what I heard while questing last night.
A further note in Blizzard's favour: transfers were really fast, taking about 2 minutes to appear on Saurfang.
And I have no idea what battlegroup it's in. Obviously I could look it up, but that would involve effort and right now....................................................... (<- that's all I feel like doing, the spaces where my teeth were are really sore).
I'm sure I had other stuff to say, but now I'm gonna take the cotton buds out and go swallow a nurofen.

Update: Saurfang is currently closed to character creation, unless you already have a transfered character there. So this server is pretty much restricted only to those who transfered toons there during the transfer period.
It should open up to toon creation in a few weeks.

Udder Madness: Now with less teeth

Went to the dentist today, had three teeth removed (16, 26, 35 for the record) in order to make room for orthodontic movement.
Not at all a pleasant experience, and now there's quite a bit of blood and discomfort. Nurofen is awesome, but I like to limit my use of painkillers, we'll see if I can stand it.
Overall this year I'll have spent over 9000 dollars on dental and orthodontic treatment, which is pretty mindboggling.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

2000+ (queues, not rating)

All the Oceanic servers seem to have 1000+ queues, around the clock.
Last night I joined the queue at 9:30ish, by 11:30 I was still in the queue and by 12:30 I'd been disconnected from the server.
And tonight there's a 2112 person queue, and Aman'Thul isn't even listed for transfer, so can't pull the DK off...
After coming home from working 8-12 hours this feels worse than being in overcrowded unstable starting zones.
And explains the complete lack of content for Udder Madness :(.

Apparently getting to 80 should be pretty quick though, judging from the fact that the world first to 80 (a French Warlock) came a couple of days ago, and there's even a level 80 DK now (both European). And TwentyFifthNovember, the merger of the elite gaming guilds SK Gaming and Nihilum, has beaten all the PvE content available. Pretty short expansion, and thanks to queues my mains are still not a single bar over 71, and the DK is lingering at 58.

Oh look, only 154 minutes left in the queue...

EDIT: screenshot fixt.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Universe Doesn't Want Me to Play

After working a long day selling stuff to people at Big Boys' Toys yesterday, and my normal library job today, I finally installed Wrath at around 1830 tonight. Then I went to make dinner, and came back to this:
And 15 minutes later:
Seriously. Wtf?
I'm gonna transfer server.
And one more try:
TWO AND A HALF HOUR queue? Jeez. Remind me never to log out again if I do get in.
And Aman'Thul isn't even up for transfers, so can't move a Death Knigget somewhere else. And with the expansion freshly installed I'm really not that interested in playing a <20 alt somewhere else.
Seriously, where are all these characters coming from? Or has Blizzard limited the servers to 500 people in Northrend to keep em stable :S.

Apparently Red Alert 3 is good.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

[WOTLK Spoiler] Borean Tundra vs. Howling Fjord?

NB: If you came here looking for places to farm Borean Leather, go to
this post.

So, unlike the jam-packed entry to Outlands, we have two [jam-packed] places to enter the Frozen Wastes of Northrend (in around 24 hours time unless the servers totally blow up):
Howling Fjord:
This place isn't exactly the icy wastes that spring to mind when we think of the frozen North. I mean there's farms and stuff. And also a heavy Alliance presence in the form of a keep that Arthas' abandoned men built, and to a lesser extent, Forsaken waging their own war against the Scourge.
And a humongous keep, smack bang visible as soon as you get off the boat (and a bit of a walk away if you came by zeppelin). In fact there's a nice battle going on all the time, between Alliance, Horde, and the vrykul from Utgaarde Keep.
Beta reports I've read suggest that scenery, music, and, for Alliance, the questlines are better than 'Boring' Tundra, but this is coming from the faction that takes Gnomes seriously, so I'm not sure how much I can trust Alliance opinion ;).
But yes, Utgaarde Keep is the first instance in Northrend, so being near it is a nice plus point to this zone.

Let's take a look at what Borean Tundra has:
Tuskarr live here, and they breed penguins (I just hope they don't look as stupid as the ones you get from polymorph)! That's pretty much win right there.
Also there's Rhinos for all the hunters out there who have an inferiority complex (I will get one for PvP at some point) and there's a lot more opportunity to farm leather for all the leatherworkers out there (leatherworking hunters win). Where else would you expect to get Borean Leather?
Borean Tundra is a bit more what you'd expect that far north, lots of ice and random creatures and random bad guys (a few trolls and scourge and stuff), although it does border on a jungle that's basically Un'goro in the arctic circle: Sholazar Basin (which, apparently, is a really cool place place with Nessingwary and an anti-Nessingwary faction).
And did someone mention Gnomes? There's totally a Gnome airfield there, much easier to get to than the one in Dun Morogh. And it's totally asking for every Hordie within the zone to come trash the place. Totally.
Here's a quote taken from some other place from someone who's been to the Tundra:
"This zone had snowy shorelines with huggable, walrusy Tuskar (Kaplan described them as little Wilford Brimleys, which was the right thing to do), flat frost-burned plains, pockets of evaporating water that looked like a sinister environmental reclamation project, volcanic terrain, an area that was covered with a magical "mist" that I mistook at first for the realm of the dead, a Gnome airfield, and a crashed Necropolis with tons of displaced Scourge milling about."
So basically if you're a Horde Leatherworking Hunter, you deserve a prize, and Borean Tundra is your place to be.

Can't decide? Don't worry, it's pretty simple to get from one to the other: on the back of a giant [riding?] turtle (there's a platform on the back of the turtle - it may or may not be supported by 4 elephants). In all seriousness though, it's a carrot powered turtle... It has a carrot dangling in front of it (for the movespeed bonus?).

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. There's a third place to enter Wrath of the Lich King territory: Acheron the Ebon Hold in Eastern Plaguelands. I'm going to level me a DK (somebody has to).

And for those who want to know where to go at which point, here's a list of the Northrend Zones, together with rough level brackets:
Borean Tundra - 68-72
Howling Fjord - 68-72
Dragonblight - 71-74
Grizzly Hills - 73-75
Zul'Drak - 74-77
Sholazar Basin - 75-78
The Storm Peaks - 76-80
Icecrown - 77-80
Wintergrasp - 77-80 PvP Zone, requires flying mount
9 zones, which by my count is 2 more than TBC.

Man, how messed up was that maintenance?

So, in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King launching in under 24 hours, Blizzard went ahead and broke the servers during Tuesday maintenance. At least it seems that way.
All the mail got lost in the place that "the cheque is in the mail" letters go to. So there was an emergency extended maintenance that lasted about 10 hours longer than planned, and then we got an in-game mail saying that the lost stuff would be mailed back to us some time during the next few days.
During this period of "we have nfi when the servers will be back up. Lol. Check back in two hours", the forums also went offline, disappearing into the ether together with some stuff I bid on.
And the arena vendors totally broke. A bunch of stuff is free, like the Brutal Gladiator's Hatchet and apparently S2 Priest and Warlock gear. A bunch of S4 weapons lost all rating requirements despite statements saying that this wouldn't happen. And two days after I bought a gem for 800 points (because the arena vendors were meant to disappear during this maintenance) the Brutal Gladiator's Waraxe turns up for 600 points (and no rating requirement).
Forums are now in Read Only mode.
AND I found out that I can get pink wasps outside of RNG luck in Underbog.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

BRK does it again

Well that intrepid dwarf hunter has impressed once again.
In honour of Ezra Chatterton, BRK organised a bull run: a thousand young Tauren on Argent Dawn sacking Stormwind City, and making donations to the Make a Wish foundation.
The server pretty much crapped itself the whole time, and died completely before Stormwind was reached.
End result: complete mayhem, and ALL the servers are now having problems authenticating.

EDIT: servers up again.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

[Which Pet?] Part 1: Which Pet does the most DPS?

Welcome to Which Pet? a series of undetermined length and quality, released at sporadic intervals, concerning the Hunter pets of patch 3.x.

Which pet does the most dps? I wasn't sure so I compared a few different pets and their dps output. Here's some results and notes about my method.
Being too lazy to actually get stuff to 70 (I actually leveled a Boar from 48 to 70 in 2.3, almost exclusively in Nagrand, which took aaaaaages), I tamed a bunch of 65 pets and let them loose on a level 60 training dummy. So these numbers aren't representative of anything you should expect, but are solely to compare different pet families.
My current spec is 51/10/0.
Each pet was completely unbuffed (no Hunter's Mark even) except for the 25% Happiness bonus, and was allowed to hit the dummy for a few minutes (long enough to get over 50k damage).
Each pet used only it's focus dump, plus it's special skill (prioritising the special), and in the case of Cunning pets, Wolverine Bite (although I don't think the dummies dodged much). So none of the specials like Rabid etc were used.
The Cunning pets were spec'd thus: link.
The Ferocity pets were spec'd thus: link.
The Tenacity pets were spec'd thus: link (admittedly less than ideal).

Results (rounded to 2 s.f.):
Silithid (X) (65): 270 (62.5% melee, 27.5% FD, 10% Venom Web Spray DoT)
Dragonhawk (65): 290 (66% melee, 22% FD, 8% Fire Breath DoT, 5% Fire Breath DoT)

Core Hound (X) (66): 300 (70% melee, 21% FD, 9% Lava Breath)
Devilsaur (X) (65): 350 (70% melee, 22% FD, 8% Monstrous Bite)
Wasp (65): 300 (70% melee, 17% FD, 10% Sting)
Cat (65): 320 (67% melee, 20% FD, 7% Rake DoT, 6% Rake) - NB with Longevity, the DoT gets overwritten with 2 seconds left, reducing DPF (damage per focus)
Beathooven in Catform (70): 750 (35% Melee, 25% Mangle, 23% Rip DoT, 14% Rake DoT) - NB: This pet cannot currently be tamed, presumably NWAI (not working as intended). Besides 750 dps on a level 60 target is quite pathetic, since I can probably do twice that as a Moonkin (but Moonkin aren't beasts).

Gorilla (69): 340 (58% melee, 25% Thunderstomp, 12% FD) - NB: Thunderstomp was only used on one target

So what pet does the best DPS?
The clear winner is the Devilsaur, the 9% increase from Monstrous Bite is just nuts.
Of note is the fact that the Wasp's Sting has an armour debuff component, which will increase hunter dps by quite a bit as well.
The Gorilla's Thunderstomp will quickly become top of the table with 1 extra target, and will go insane with 5-6. Also Gorillas are a lot more awesome than some shrunken anachronism from a giant outdoor Science Fair experiment.
For those that aren't 51+/x/x who want a high-dps pet, Cats will probably be the best choice, and are the most popular pet in the game.
Other pets can be tested if requested, and may synergise better with the Hunter. These are just the five I had on me, plus a couple running around Eversong Woods (testing done in Silvermoon City).

NB: this was a pretty unscientific test, and the results should be considered as a relative comparison only.

So Big (it doesn't fit on the screen)! (It shrunk loooads when tamed :( )

[NZ] I Voted, Did You?

Voting booths directly next to work, went during morning tea break.
Go on, vote.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Spanking Heroic MgT and Target Dummies

So I came home from a miserable medsci examination experience and decided that I really needed some WoW time. Once the computer was vacated I jumped on and gamed for a few hours, contrary to all the promises I’d made to myself about taking a break until the end of exams. One reason for this is that I really wanted to test out some new stuff, Darksentinel has been only a Beast Master since the patch (51/10/0 and 50/11/0) and Beathooven has mostly been resto in order to heal random stuff (with a quick stint as Balance to test the new Spell Power changes. I wanted to test out Marksman and Survival, retry Balance and go Feral for the first time since hitting 70. So, prepared to spend a couple hundred gold, I headed to the training dummies. Well, actually first I did a couple of quick BGs, 1 AB and an AV, and concluded that one BM hunter can beat one arcane mage, and can almost beat 2 arcane mages. And ret still does way too much damage. But BM doesn't quite seem to be able to blow stuff up as it seemed to a few days after the patch when I did some druid/hunter arena and gibbed stuff.

First I tested Darksentinel, as the basic BM build he had (50/11/0), with just my current level 68 (69 now) Gorilla pet. Obviously this pet isn’t ideal for dps but then it turned out that a lot of the time he refused to hit the [training] dummy anyway. Oh yeah, here’s a comic about target dummies.

With a pet that refused to hit stuff, BM pulled in at around 700 dps (hunter only), which is pretty pathetic, really (using no cooldowns and only using a simple Steady Shot spam-based rotation).

MM topped out at 850 or so pet-less DPS, opening with Serpent Sting (omg), use Chimera Shot (why is the shot called 'chimera' but the beast is 'chimaera'?) whenever it's up, then spam Steady Shot and if Improved Steady Shot procs, use Arcane Shot (unless Chimera is about to come off cooldown). So probably on par with BM, or slightly ahead, depending on what pet is being used. I think MM scales better with crit than BM, thanks to Marked for Death (and I have a lot of crit, thanks to PvP gear).

SV has a whole bunch of nifty talents such as Lock and Load and some massive boosts to crit chance, but seems lacking in straight-up single-target dps (seriously, Point of No Escape and Sniper Training, how does that work?). It's pet-less dps was around 700, so presumably lower than BM (since the pet will deal less damage). But the mana regen is really sweet, especially when you get Thrill of the Hunt returns from free Lock and Load procs.

I will try to do more testing later (try a different pet, see if it will attack the dummy), although with Wrath only a week away it's not really worth it.

Basically the hunter is a bit meh now (except for Gorilladin grinding), too much PvP gear (10.5k hp, 27% crit, but only 1600 unbuffed AP), or I just really suck at playing the class.

So then it was Beathooven’s turn. First, I tried Balance. Hmmm. So many talents, and then there’s stuff in resto as well. Now how do I effectively rotate Wrath, Starfire, Insect Swarm and Moonfire, all the while taking into account Eclipse procs (which will also be Nature’s Grace procs)? I muddled around a bit, and seemed to do ok and ended up with a dps of 1000-1200, which is basically on par with my hunter (slightly higher, even, pet or no pet), who should be a lot better geared and is also the highest PvE dps class in the game. Hmmm. But after dragging the Moonkin into AV I decided that while it’s a powerful spec, I wanted to try Feral, cos it’s been a few months since I’ve been a proper cat or bear spec. New emphasis on the or, since some talents are pretty much good for only one form, cat or bear. I ended up with a 0/54/7 spec or something similar, focusing heavily on the tanking talents.

After that I spent a good 30 minutes sorting out gear for cat and bear, since I’d picked up a lot of off-spec pieces while resto. I ended up having 14k hp, 33% dodge and 14k armour. Now when I’d last been a bear I had 13.5k hp, 22% dodge and 22k armour, and my items were quite a bit worse. Numerically I actually seemed worse off, but with Protector of the Pack and a full group, my mitigation and avoidance were quite a bit higher (although it’s really annoying, now that stuff is 3 man-able, that you need a full group to have optimal Bear form mitigation).

So, I was a tank. Now to find something to tank. I joined a pug for Gruul with Arianwyn, but it quickly became obvious that this was going to end badly (by the time we had 20 people we only had two healers, one of whom was a Shadow priest, and while I don’t know exactly what tanks are needed for HKM, I’m pretty sure we didn’t have all of them either). Instead I convinced four guildies to run Heroic Magister’s Terrace, something I’ve never done before.

We ended up as retadin, feral tank, rogue, enhance and resto druid. And it turns out that I’m still a pretty terrible tank, especially where casters are involved. In my defense I’ve only tanked a handful of times, and the most recent of those was Durnholde Keep as a 66 bear back in August. Also, Growl was only working around half the time (although 20 yards IS nice). We wiped once on a trash pull where I pulled a pat slightly early so his friends came along, otherwise the massive amounts of dps carried us through (hence the title: more spank than tank), although I did pull off a cool battle res during the gravity distortion phase on Kael. All up it was a lot easier than the runs I’d done on my hunter in normal difficulty, back in the days of 2.3 and 2.4. Oh and just to show that the loot gods don’t reward excellent performances (but rather have their own sense of humour, see: Sonic Spear), the Priestess dropped Commendation of Kael’Thas, and since we didn’t have a mage I got it (anyone else see the article where a mage outrolled a tank on this, shortly after 2.4 came out?).

After the run (which took just over an hour) Darksentinel, still Survival spec, headed out to go see what all the fuss with the scourge is about, and collected some Necrotic Runes for the Paladin-on-a-Stick. No mail dropped, but with S2 shoulders and legs, S3 chestpiece and S4 gloves, it didn’t really matter (plus the non-S4 PvP gear looks a lot better). And that was it for last night (i.e. this morning).

A lot of today was spent killing scourge on Beathooven, healing a retadin tank (including a 4-shadow pull), and then getting down on all fours and doing it bear style. After clearing two spawn areas I ended up with a full 4-piece set of leather, and a full 4-piece set of cloth, plus the trinkets, the Burning Steppes flight path (first time I’ve ever been in that region on any character), and a few bits of Thorium. The leather was really nice and the new druid has 15.3k hp, 16k armour and 32% dodge. A bit of target dummy testing put cat dps at ~500, which is a bit low, but there's a few more buttons to press now that Rake and Tiger's Fury are actually useful, so I'm probably not using an optimal rotation.

The rest of today’s wow-time was spent getting my paladin to 52, tanking the last boss of OHB for a guildie and doing Gorilladin-stylez as Survival. Oh and drooling over BRK’s mammoth movie.

So in conclusion, I think Darksentinel will level as a Beast Master, and Beathooven as a Moonkin. And it's really nice that a lot of abilities that were previously pretty useless are now very useful, even if it does add complexity to my already over-taxed brain (this happens easily). Now I just wish someone would explain Gore to me (WHY? It does less damage than Bite).

Servers have just gone down, so enjoy doing whatever it is that you do during this period (sleeping, probably, you need at least 8 hours a week to survive ;) ).

Monday, 3 November 2008

[Pics] 7000 words on Druids

Lately I've been posting a lot on Hunters. And, let's face it, post-3.0.2 they're even more awesome than they were before. But let's also face the fact that Druids are really really cool. Especially Tauren druids (cows turning into bears/cats/different cats/storm crows/anthropomorphic rotten broccoli/inflatable giant chickens - what isn't there to love? Except the fact that Tauren druids in cat forms won't close their damn mouths).

Actually this is just an excuse for showing some stuff from my Screenshots folder and pretending people are interested in it. At the time of posting I should be busy attempting to waffle my way through my Medsci 314 (Immunology) exam, for the second time, and probably failing miserably.

Shows how bad Hunters are in arena: they lose to off-spec bears.

Does it get anymore Druidy than this? 4 70 druid helping a 64 through normal Slave Pens. Bullishnek, Ariia and Beathooven are all resto, Meellow respec'd Balance (from resto) just for the sake of this run, Ankka is Feral. At one point everyone but Ankka and myself DC'd. While not a challenge, certainly a lot of fun.

3 inc LM... wtf are you guys doing?
My 2v2 arena partner and I relaxing, for the horde.

Sin'dorei Druid, courtesy of the Dimensional Ripper. Shifting into Moonkin alters what you appear as when you have the 'Transporter Malfunction' debuff, but shifting into anything else removes the debuff entirely. Generally the Tauren armour skins mess up the appearance (e.g. as a female Orc the goggles replace the eyes).

Dwarven Druid: how silly.

Experience to level 70: 2.

Posting e-peen BG score-charts stopped being cool ages ago. But this is a pic from close to 6 months ago, and shows probably the highest dps I've seen in a 40-minute BG. At the time Nutrage was a T6 geared Boomkin, who went around 2-shotting everything.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

[Hunter] I want more stable slots

So, I journeyed into the land of trolls. I figured since I am a troll, I might be able to survive. I did, and made it back here, but I left small parts of my soul and sanity behind. Seriously, the new 'Damage Dealing' forum is insanely busy, and full of annoying people. It takes between 10 and 30 minutes for a post to disappear off the first page. Anyway, I digress.

I made the following post:
I, and pretty much every hunter out there, want more stable slots.
Pets that come to mind that I might want at 80:
1: A Worm, for any 10 man without a warrior (presumable won't happen in 25 mans)
2: A Wolf, for any raid without an AP buff (again probably 10 man)
3: A Gorilla, for AOE grinding, and tanking stuff
4: A Rhino, fo'shizzle
5: A Devilsaur, for raid dps as a 51pt BM
6: A Spirit Beast
7: A Spider or some-such, for non-Beast Mastery, non-drain PvP
8: A Scorpid, for drain PvP (yes I know dispels will now remove the whole stack, but it's still a 50% chance of masking your Viper Sting as dispels currently stand)
9: A Core Hound. White.
10: A cat or something for raid DPS, when I'm not a Devilsaur-taming spec
11: My Elder Mottled Boar, because Hunters are a sentimental bunch

Just looking at raid (10-man) min/maxing I'd foreseeably need to choose between Worm, Wolf, Devilsaur and something else. And for arena if on a given night there's a lot of casters around, a Core Hound might be nice, or an Owl/Silithid/Spider/Chimaera if it's melee-heavy. Sure I could go tame something new, but it'd involve considerable inconvenience in obtaining and possibly leveling a new pet.

Adding more stable slots would not particularly imbalance the game in any way, since it doesn't directly affect Hunter performance. It would act as a gold sink. And it'd make people happy (well, happier, we'll always find stuff to QQ about)

Self explanatory really.
Charge me 200 gold per slot, and I'll buy another 5.
Charge me 1000 gold per slot and I'll still try to buy at least 1 or 2 more.

And on the plus side, I found the ignore button in the forums. Now I just wish there was an "ignore level 1 alt" button.

Shenanigans in Shadow Labs

Shadow Labyrinth is an interesting instance. I've run it more than any other instance in WoW.

My first 70 was my hunter, Darksentinel, and he'd heard tales of a mythical weapon of great power dropping from a behemoth who resided deep in the Shadow Labyrinth. The creature Murmur was defeated multiple times, but apparently favours only casters with the gear it leaves for its vanquishers. Eventually my hunter decided that this supposed Sonic Spear was merely a tale from the taverns of the Lower City, and (with a reasonably modicum of effort) upgraded his Sha'tari Longsword of the Bandit (from memory 28 Agi, 43 Stam, 56 AP) to a weapon most mighty and fabulous: the Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe. Yet even after this, the Shadow Labyrinth continued to entice the hunter. A Blood-Elven priestess, Arianwyn, sought to become exalted with the elements of Shattrath's Lower City, and he aided her in vanquishing the various orcish minions in the First Room, and, his desire not completely doused by the mighty axe in his hand, he continued to search, in vain, for the legendary Spear.

Following in the footsteps of this hunter, the druid Beathooven chased his own dream in Shadow Labyrinth. Being of a healing and restorative inclination, this young Tauren had heard that one of the most powerful Idols in all of the shattered realms of Outland was in the hands of a demon near the entrance of the Labyrinth: the famed Idol of the Emerald Queen. Much like his troll friend, Beathooven found that despite multiple victories against his demonic adversary he remained with an empty Idol slot - although he did end up with various Hallowed Raiments (and rejoiced in his ability to cast his non-existent Binding Heal with a 30% increased resistance to interruption), and even the Sonic Spear found its way into his hand (his hunter friend was mildly amused).

After numerous attempts (including healing a pick up group while being rather Feral) he even convinced his arena partner, the Warlock Stupidcow, to help him, and with a lot of effort the two managed to defeat all opposition up to and including Ambassador Hellmaw. While once again no Idol dropped, much fun was had.

Close to despair, Beathooven teamed up with several friends and using the most sacred techniques of Right-Click-Player-Portrait-and-Choose-Dungeon-Difficulty, ventured into a heroic version of the same Shadow Labyrinth that had defied him all this time. Although altogether more difficult than its non-heroic equivalent, his powerful allies from the Quantum Butterflies made short work of all the foes in this new Labyrinth and Beathooven was richly rewarded with the Idol of the Emerald Queen - if he'd known that was all it took, he'd have attempted heroism much earlier.

Although seemingly finished with Shadow Labyrinth, Darksentinel returned. After the powers-that-be decreed the presence of 3.0.2, the troll noted that his pets appeared much more powerful than earlier, and wished to test this out. And where better than the instance that had defied his early days at maximum level? With his friends Gurney (the huntery version of Stupicow), and the young, not-quite-70, enhancement shaman Mok at his side, he took his faithful companion LoveMe (once an innocent boar in Durotar) to once again challenge the might of the labyrinth and it's denizens. Despite later learning that LoveMe appeared addicted to the use of Cower, strategical trapping and misdirection, plus the occasional heal from the shaman, the trio downed the much-abused Hellmaw once again. Although afterwards they decided that the next room was not best suited to the abilities of a piggy (possibly ok for a gorilla), and called it a night.

These are my adventures in SLabs.

Shadow Labyrinth: TIME FOR FUN!