Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The new phonebook's here!

Oh baby....

You sooo good to me... (crit will be about 25% when I get weapon skill to 350)

Now... I have to be alone. Leave me with... my precious...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dear god...

For some reason, there's a dearth of decent hunters on my server.

One of the more annoying alliance guilds is recruiting a "dps" hunter. This guild sucks in so many ways, and are on my KOS list. Still... they pvp, which is more than I can say about my guild...

Anyway, they posted to the realm forum, and here, in a nutshell, is a truly huntard response. BRK might get a kick outta this...

"The requirement to compete DPS wise needs to be held in light to the classes we are competing against. I understand that hunters join a party to perform a DPS roll, but i don't feel as a hunter thats our strongest strength. Especially with high lvl mages and rogues. I think the hunters main strength is the ranged pull and aggro control. Aggro control is like crowd control only it doesn't take the mob out of the equation but direct the mob to where you want it. You have a single target off-tank with pet, misdirection, frost trap, and scatter shot all used to stop a mob from attacking casters. The ability to wear mail just makes us able to take a few beating while those skills are on cool down. Thats our one true strength. The secound thing I think a hunter is good for is a short duration of massive single target DPS (i wish the aoe traps and volley were a bit better) but for around 15sec I can boost my DPS by an additional 150. I throw traps down I click trinkets, rapid fire, i go all out and if it turns out being a wipe I'm happy knowing I took a large part of the adds out before going. The rest as a hybrid class just makes us a jack of all trades. which means a hunters real role is support. to support the master of that trade. Have the hunter support the DPSer's have the Hunter support the guy killing adds, if we were shamans we would support healers. hunters boost a party over all. thats my 2 cents in what one should look for in a hunter."

-Hajatil of Lightninghoof....

Proud creator of the term... "strongest strength"


Today... after the patch (assuming it's today...) I get my baby... screenshots to come. And we went 8-2 in 5v5! Pank, our GOOD ms warrior (mace spec, reflexes like a pet on aggressive...) was on, and we completely pwned...

The lesson... play on monday nights.. you get the people who left arena til the last minute, and had to PUG to fill their group :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Auction House and You...

I was fiddlin around leveling the mage this weekend, when I got a distress call from Herk (ArmsandFury)... Two locks were camping him in southern zangarmarsh...

Now south zangarmarsh is like 2 minutes via elite flying mount from shatt... where Mabd is more or less parked these days. So I log onto Mabd, fly up there, and do counter ganking operations. (CGO)

The two locks were seasoned world pvp'ers... doin all the tricks. Rezzing under bridges, in a lake.... whatever it takes to hide long enough to get health and buffs back... and eventually Herk and I decorated every inch of the road from the CE to Shatt with their skeletons.... but they aint the point of the post.

While stomping them for being useless cowardly gankers (2 on 1 vs an innocent warrior... the shame...) a 70 ne hunter shows up to help them.

Now, by this time Mabd is one day away from the arena x-bow. I don't play much, and, despite the handful of 70 instances I've run (arc over the weekend, just need BM for kara now...) have no nice blue 70 hunter drops. Still, I wipe the floor with this clown. Over and over again.

I die twice, once because I got so arrogant that I attacked all three of em without Herk, and with all my cooldowns blown already, the other a rez death. But still... the prancing elf eats dirt a half dozen times, if not more.

Combat log shows my auto-shot hitting him for 50% more damage than he was hitting me. And the worst part... HE WAS BM. (48/10/3... come on, what the hell is there in the BM tree that you would take over GftT?)

So, afterwards, I look him up on armory. And to my shock, found the only 70 hunter in azeroth running around with a green ranged weapon.

His bow did less damage than the bow Mabd went into outlands with... now, that was an epic level 60 bow, but still... that's just silly. Fer god's sake people... get to know the AH.

Now, you can equip yourself perfectly well with quest items from 60-70. Doing the new nessingwary Nagrand quest series gets a perfectly servicable blue gun at level 67 or so... but if you don't have the time, or knowledge... hit the damn AH up.

There are a ton of nice BOE blues that drop all the time, sell for next to nothing (keep an eye open, you'll see em for 40g or less, unless your server is radically different than mine) and can radically upgrade your combat effectiveness until you can run the 70 five mans for better gear. Here's what Mabd is still wearing...

Valanos's Longbow
Breastplate of Rapid Striking
Pathfinder's Band

The reason they're so cheap? Cuz most hunters can get better just by questing... so there's a limited market. I saw as many five of the bows at the AH at one time.

More expensive, but still worth it... (I see these for 60ish every so often)
Crystalforged War Axe
Scales of the Beast

It may take a few weeks of shopping once you hit 65 or so... but check the AH often, and don't be afraid to buy something you can't use for another 4-7 levels. You'll find it at a decent price if you wait long enough.

Cmon, people. Decent gear isn't just a good idea. It's the law!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sadists and psychotics...

TJ and BRK have another bet. TJ has to grind winterspring faction to exalted for the elite mount. She has 2 months. If she wins, she's certifiable. Either way, BRK is a sadistic monster...

Which reminds me... you know who your real friends are when you find yourself naked, on fire, and running down the street chased by a rabid pack of dogs...

Your real friends will be laughing their asses off while everyone else tries to help you...

I was unable to do 5v5 last week... so Melvin, Magebert and I did 3v3... and went 8-2. Lost one to a disconnect even. So next week... I get the reaper, the x-bow of x-bows. I'm looking for the crit scope now, so as to be ready... have most of the mats :)

Also finally ran SV. No wipes, no hunter drops, but revered with CE, WOOT! 3 Friends and a pug priest. Our good arena team ms warrior (who hasn't been online enough to help in arena lately) tanked with his 31/30 arms fury build... and did splendidly. The pug priest was quite impressed with all of us. Mabd topped damage, even with her poor collection of greens, natch... and I'm getting better at trapping with the practice. Now have the helm buff (and +hit finally near enough to 80 for me to ignore, along with RAP finally over 1300...) plus those loverly loverly elite ce arrows. White damage dps is now around 280, and I still have greens. Oh crit is almost 24%. (I AM pvp spec/gear after all... when I get sparky, theres no way fleabag will hold aggro offa me :(

Also got nother kara key part. Prob get attuned this weekend. Not sure how to feel about this. I can't really survive the lack of sleep kara raiding will entail...

Some notes on arena...
2v2 is very simple, and easy to develop the basics of teamwork for arena. However, the paper/scissors/rock factor is strong with 2v2. A bad class matchup can doom you before you begin. And gear can outweigh even decent teamwork at this level...

5v5... teamwork is critical, but team composition less so. So tactics are less important that ability to adapt on the fly... and if one team member is off, it won't doom you. The critical point for 5v5 is spotting the key enemy team members and taking them out. We win most of our 5v5's when the other side beats on our priest and ignores the pom mages and bm hunter :)
We lose when the almost useless warrior is ignored till the end.

One silly melvin thing... the fool can't spot good gear. Whereas most of us have played enough to lust after the tier 4 or 5, or merciless gladiatior gear for most classes... and can spot a 70 wearing a new item and go WHOA! /inspect... Melvin doesn't. So when time comes to squash the warrior decked out in full gladiator kit before the lock in greens... melvin will pick the lock. Cuz... as a mage... melvin fears locks and not warriors...

Target selection is key to 5v5. The other basic... team composition... comes down to one of two choices... 1 healer/ 4 dps or 2 healer/ 3 dps. Tactics are a bit more murky, and depend strongly on play style. If you have people that are... well... "cautious" then an aggressive play style will backfire. In 5v5, teamwork is less important than having people who can play their class/gear their character.

Man, I so need to put up a long shaman post...

The there's 3v3... the teams are large enough to let teamwork beat good gear... and small enough to make tactics workable and simple. Also, healing is still optional at this point.

Of course, our 2 POM mages are a nasty 3v3 component. They can usually burn down one of the enemy team members at the start of the match, then sheep another and it's all over. Mabd, as a non controllable dps, can beat down the locks and shadow priests that usually are the bane of mages...

We're giving serious thought to adding a boomkin to the 5v5. We have 2 ms warriors, one who isn't terribly serious, and another who can't get on at the right times (but who kicks ass in arena... damn I wish he had a better connection...)... so till ArmsandFury gets offa his lazy butt and runs Herk to 70, we stuck with a sub par 5v5 group. A boomkin would add nice crit to the mages, another sweet buff to the group, and some backup healing for the shadow priest...

Dunno... without a ms warrior, we'd need to switch a mage (magebert, cuz melvin can't handle it) to cc in mid game... easier to pile damage on a mortal strike and laugh as the pally tries to keep up. However, burst damage would be even higher... and for some reason boomkin draw as much misplaced aggro as shadowpriests...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Say hello to my little friend..

Goblin rocket launcher... range of 45, 900-1300 damage (modified by +spell)
To all the hunters out there... a la Diehard
"Now I have a rocket launcher... ho ho ho."
Correction: the tooltip reads 960 to 1440 fire damage. And a 3 sec stun. AND +45 sta.
My current modifier is +26 spell damage (I'm enhance, pity me)
Forums say that it gets the benefit of +fire (and +spell in general) talents, not sure about +spell damage adds. I know more when I got pvp resto at 70, till then...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mages are an agility class...

No, really. Swear to god!

First, the non sequitor of the day. Melvin, Magebert and Mabd were doin 3v3 arena, workin with me directing in vent. I need practice, but Melvin seems to think it helps a lot. OTOH...

"You're very excitable... I thought I was listening to Sam Kinneson."

I doan know how to take that.

ArmsandFury is playin a mage, and wants some advice. Well, three classes I know... Mages, Hunters and Shammies...

Mages are an agility class. No, really. Swear to god.

They shouldn't be. And they aren't, kinda, sorta, anymore. But just like if you study the human form, you'll find all sorta weird things (male pattern baldness, appendix, vestigal tail bones)... if ya study the mage DNA, you find...


This is cuz Blizzard, like all game companies, sucks. It isn't their fault. But still, when it came to design the first mage, they thought...


And since wands are a ranged weapon...


So, mages rack up agility from level 1-70. And all sorta weird cloth items drop with agility. (Like all sorta weird cloth items drop with strength. But that's a priest/warlock post)

What don't mages get? Stamina. What happened when people first started doin the first runs for tier 0? Mages grabbed warlock items, and druids grabbed rogue items. (But again, that's another post...)

What did blizzard think mages wanted? (in this order)
Int. (40-50%)
Spirit. (20-25%)
Sta. (15-20%)
Agility. (10%)

You begin to see the problem?

There actually was a bug in the improved wands talent that let mages (who were still, at this point, getting RAP bonuses to wand damage) do decent damage when Blizz put wand auto shot into the game.

(BRK, if the worst thing hunters now face is the insanely low number of pet stable slots, our class is truly blessed... LOOK how damn long it took them to put wand auto shot into the friggin game...)

Blizz then immediately nerfed imp wands. Cuz a mage class that aint sitting and drinking water 30% of the time don't fit the BLIZZARD VISION!

I know this game. I am a veteran of a thousand psychic wars. (someone, someday, will google this. We must keep the powder dry and the past alive!) And I have seen things that would rend your souls asunder. Most of them insanely useless blue boss drops.

Anyway, to play a class, it kinda helps to know where it's been. And mages, deep in their dna... are an agility class.

So... mages are the escape artists of azeroth. More so than rogues. Rogues just vanish. Mages root, snare, blink, sheep, and all that before breakfast. It helps to read the works of Jack Vance.. but here in a nut shell is what the essence of a mage is...

If you got mana, you got life. You got more tricks up yo sleeve than David Copperfield, and you got more damage than the Wrath of God. What you don't have is... time. When playing a mage, if you can't kill them in 10 seconds, you gonna run outta luck. There's nuttin sadder than a mage with no mana, and everything on cooldown.

Any mage reduced to spamming AE in a fight... has run outta ideas.

So... mage builds.

Unlike most classes, there are actually a coupla decent mage builds per tree (cept arcane...). Saying "Ima x/x/x mage" doesn't always explain the character...

Which is one reason I like the class. Lets admit it. As far as hunters... If you tell me the points, and you have a clue, I pretty much know exactly what you have. But a deep frost or deep fire pvp build is completely different from a deep fire or frost pve build. Frost can go single target, or aoe mastery. Fire can be mana efficent raiding, or burst pvp. Arcane...

Well, remember the comment on Mage dna? All mages are now arcane mages. In the BAD OLD DAYS, arcane explosion, the class's signature ability, was a 1.5 second casting time spell. There was an arcane talent that reduced this to instant. There was also an arcane talent that gave mages a full mana regen every 8 minutes... as a result... every damn mage had at least 11 points in arcane to get both of these. And lets face it. If you HAVE to have a given talent to be effective, something is wrong with the class.

So Blizz made both AE instant and evocation a regular spell. And pure arcane builds lost their definition. Arcane should be what survival is for hunters, a big bag of goofball tricks that just make the class neater to play. Instead, its the source of +damage adds, mana efficiency talents, and no damn soul. Dragon's breath... super sweet. Water elementals... old skool classic.

Slow? Yeah. Right. Sorta useful... against.. er...
PVE? Well, yeah, you can kite things you can't normally kill in 6 seconds, almost like you have a frost build... watch out L70 elites!
PVP? Yeah. Cripple all those casters that don't rely on instants (you know... the *special* ones)... and pretty much do the same thing to melee that your ice armor does. Oh wait! You can hose down hunters!... at least the ones without BM builds, or silent shot, or wyvern sting.

Well... Imp blink = Reduced mana cost? OMGWTFBBQPWND!
Imp mana shield = reduced mana cost! WHOOO!

You see the trend? Anytime talent developers give a skill a reduced mana cost... it means a stunning lack of insight, or suggests a raid build. Since mana shield and blink are *NOT* raid spells...

Warriors get friggin reduced cooldown on intercept, and we get... reduced mana cost blink. Screw it. Double the damn mana cost, and reduce the damn cooldown.

At least fire and frost still have a soul. Although it seems blizz gave up on the idea of fire/frost (elementalist) hybrid builds.

You either go deep fire or deep frost, or you dilute with some arcane to add the 3 min uber burst damage and/or the additional spell crit damage.

I'm not going to go into the various talents... the class forum has an excellent sticky on them. But I will make a few points.

Get used to the idea of respeccing every ten levels or so. New talent tiers tend to alter the utility of previous talents. This is especially true of fire, where imp fireball is great for low levels, but less useful once imp scorch becomes available.

The fire/frost talent trees all hang together. Frost doesn't really shine until you can get imp blizzard (for aoe grinding) or imp cone of cold (for pvp/burst pve). The main attack form (blizzard or cone of cold) requires different supporting talents... one of the nicer things about frost.

So look carefully at the talent trees, especially a few levels ahead. Get a sense of how you expect to grind, and what you'd like most... control or mass damage. Read the forum guide, and you should get a sense of what mages are capable of.

My personal point on mages. I die more as a mage, early on, than any other class I've played, and I've played them all. This is usually because of overconfidence. A mage is the most powerful char in the game, and you know it. Frost nova and blink assure escape from the most hairy of situations... hence an overwhelming tendency to bite off more than you can chew. This, of course, is the hallmark of a most entertaining class!

Anyway... arena scores...

If ya haven't done arena... look at the elapsed time. Arena, like life in Azaroth, tends to be brutal and short. Not even enough time for them to /spit on your broken corpse.
These were three of the four wins the group had with me. Note a trend? (Foruth win, Magebert AoEed himself to the top of the damage chart...)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New Banner!

Thanks to Sony, ArmsandFury's better three quarters for the new banner... she made fleabag look almost useful!

Like that furry bottomless pit would ever run through fire for me...

A lesson in drama...

A problem with not being a souless monster... every so often things get to you...

Two things this last week. First, the arena team did badly. How badly?

AFTER the matches, two of the team respecced. We went 5-10. We should do better.

Afterwards, Melvin respecced his elemental shammy to the 40/0/21 build. Bout damn time. He rather likes the new build, I'm hearing much less bitching than after his mage respec...

And our MS warrior... who went Fury without making this clear to *ME*... went back to MS after our arena failures... Melvin knew about Pog's switch to fury, but Melvin doesn't know why they're called "MS Warriors." In arena, if you ain't MS, you ain't trying. To make it worse, Pog was still swinging his 2h sword... with his fury build. I just kept wondering where the MS debuff was in all our battles...

To add to the misery, Pog was bragging about being the last one standing in most of the fights. One of which, while I watched, Pog was alone against 5... and let loose with an intimidating shout that might have saved the match for us if used earlier... One clue for those that can't understand my depression at this boast... the last to die is USUALLY rated the least threatening by the other team. Nothing to brag about...

Pog also managed to finally get his pvp trinket this weekend... after the arena had been done, natch. He saved the pvp trinket for last, after all the HWL armor, weapons, cloak, ring, amulet... such is his order of importance.

Plus our shadow priest has been running a damage meter during the fights... and it doesn't show my pet. So he thinks I'm useless... I'll modify this post to show three of the four victory screenshots, once I get home...

So we go 4-6 in the first ten. And then they decide to do another 5 to get one of our mercs his games (without me). And they go 1-4 (cuz the merc dc's twice...)

We rapidly running to bottom of the ratings. And might have to reform the team. When you reform (at a cost of 150 gold) your rating goes back to 1500. Which at this point would be another 50 arena points a week. Which means Spanky would be mine one week earlier!

So far, hunter has been doin quite well arena wise. Two man with hunter would be problematic. But 3v3 and 5v5... hunters hold their own.

Melvin is still a hoot. Melvin confessed he will never be as good a player as I am, because he isn't "hyper-competitive" like I am. What brought this on? Me trying to show him how to turn on the "show target of a target" option in the advanced interface raid/party options.

Again, Melvin runs with our guild's kara progression team.

So, the guild of guilds has managed to make me ashamed this week. First of all, the progression team beat the Prince. Our guild's hunter leader, who has been a raiding MM hunter since MC, AQ and ZF... for ages... does a hellova job, old school. I burnt out on raiding the fiftieth time my pet got dusted in MC. (Wolf with pure fire resist and sta buffs. Furious howl for the rogues... and still couldn't live before Blizz fixed em...) Grats to the guild of guilds! Priest got her tier 4 helm, and a nice healing hammer dropped as well. And machunter got a nice +hit ring.

But I'm gonna have to get keyed. Melvin tells me the guild needs me. And I, with heavy heart, agree. K., the guild's self proclaimed second hunter... is killing the kara rotation team. Hes a 0/48/13 build. With zero +hit. 1350 AP. Lest we forget, this is the hunter who waited a month after hitting 70 to get misdirection... cuz of the 7g cost. Notable K. quotes...

"I'm pwning this KTM thing!"
"Damn, I meant to mark that thing, not shoot it..."
"I have NOT been drinking, so shut up in vent you jerks!"

So projects for poor mabd... get revered with cenarion. Move along with the key fragment quests for kara. Do a damn sight more aldor quests and get to friggin exalted with those freaks. I want the premium shoulder buffs! While I can think of a thousand things more interesting to do than Kara, I kinda owe this guild... something...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Natural gamers, unnatural gamers, and just damn fools

Poor mabd has finally begun end content, running SL for the first time. It was a blast, and utilizing many of the fine techniques preached by the BRK, Mabd proved the utility and lethality of the greatest of races and classes.

Two wipes, one when our healer got feared through a wall and outta the universe, and another on a disasterous pull (warrior was pulling.)

Did the run with the guild of guilds best healer (a truly rightous cat who dropped his raiding rogue to level up a pally for Kara), one of their best tanks, magebert, and melvin's shammy. I think I impressed everyone, I damn sure impressed myself. The best part came with murmur, where the party decided that the poor hunter pet would keep murmer in melee during the arcane blasts to avoid wipetude. The pet was expected to die.

The pet didn't. (They come to kill the kitty... but he ain't gonna die, no he ain't gonna die!)

Pally:"Jesus, what is he made of?"
Mabd:"90% arcane resist, and half damage from AoE. Oh and a LOTTA damn fish."

Mabd and fleabag topped the damage chart, natch, even tho magebert is uber equipped... heh. Melvin's shammy wasn't even in the running.

So, some fun observations... on shammys. There will be a long long post upcoming on beloved Unbound, and the history of the shammy in the Blizz battle/viability pantheon, but that's a painful subject, so not today.

The run started because after work I called melvin and talked him through a shammy talent build using the WoW community site talent generator. (Which neither he nor magebert were familiar with... I talked magebert through a similar talent exercise when I convinced him to switch from a 21/40/0 mage build to a 33/28/0 one.)

Now melvin suffers from extreme noobitude. And the problem with noobitude and talent builds (we've all done this with our first few characters) is that you spend point by point, instead of planning where you are going, and more importantly... where you want to end up.

So, melvin has an elemental shammy with around 48 points in the elemental tree, and the rest, 13, in resto. Since the 9th and ultimate talent tier in elemental is one of the most useless in the game (I'm told the warrior fury tree has something just as useless, but that's from Armsandfury, and he never stops whining about how tough warriors have it...) I've been pushing melvin to go 40/0/21, and get that sweet sweet nature's swiftness.

Instacast chain lightning (or healing wave). And the 5 points before it give another 5% crit chance to lightning and healing spells... And presto! Uber raiding/pvp spec. Now... one of the major bones of contention with melvin and his shammy... melvin simply doesn't understand the way elemental shammies were set up, nor the basic issues plaguing the class/build. To wit... mana efficiency...

In a nutshell. All shammy builds are pretty damn useless till about level 40 or so, when you start getting to the cream of the talent tree. For enhance, this is stormstrike. For elemental, you get massive decreases to the casting time of lightning spells... for resto... well, why bother talking bout something that hypothetical? Like anyone plays resto before 70... Anyway, shammies tend to be insanely mana inefficient casters. You correct this with talents. Enhance shammys get a 9th tier talent that allows a 25-35% regen of mana every 2 minutes. Elemental shammies, OTOH (much earlier on, but pointless until you get the +crit talents,) get a 60% discount on spell mana costs after crits. So, in order to maintain a lightning barrage of any real duration... you gotta crit. Like a damn fiend. More so than any other caster class (with the possible exception of holy pals, and for the same bloody reasons...)

Melvin doesn't quite understand this. He is too used to his mage, and thinks that a point of crit for a shammy means the same as for a mage, especially since he plays them the same damn way....

Sigh... eventually he will learn. We all did.

But it takes him longer than others... like, say ArmsandFury.
That ms foo and I go way way back. I was the bastard that first talked him into WoW. (He used to play on a system that would rarely top 8fps... it was surreal watching it...)

My rogue used to pwn his first warrior. Yep, got that right... a warrior walking round in terror of rogues...

But we gamed together before that... namely... HE got ME into warcraft 3, so he'd have decent competition...

"The local crew just aint cuttin it. I'm too good. I'm just a natural gamer."

Oh well... we can't have THAT can we?

So I go online, and read every guide on warcraft 3. What works, what kills, and "what to do if"... Then we play. And the problem is... ArmsandFury really is a natural gamer. He has reflexes like a rattlesnake dropped on hot cement. But, at this point... he didn't understand the concept of the metagame... he won the first two. And nothing after that.

The lesson children?

Age and treachery will beat youth and beauty every time.

And if youth and beauty wants to live to be nasty and old... youth will listen and learn, oh yes...