My Chars

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fire Spec

So, a while ago I finally broke down and respecced from Frost (10/0/51), which has been my spec for I think pretty much since I got to 60, to Fire (10/48/3).
There were two reasons for this:

  1. I wanted to improve my DPS standing in the guild, at least relative to other classes. I don't mind other mages being higher than me, but I don't want the raid leaders to think "oh I better take that hunter, Solidstate does crappy DPS". Not that my DPS was so low, it just wasn't very high. In a 25 man raid, say 6-8 are healers and 2-4 tanks. So let's say at least 13 are DPS. To be 7th or 8th place out of 13 isn't too good, especially as of those not all are DPS-ing all the time (except for Gruul fight, but even if all 13 are nuking, 8th place is low for a mage).
  2. I want to raid with my mage. That's his main point. Looking at TBC raid instances, Fire is a good spec to have, except for Al'ar. Since I want to contribute the most to my guild and be the best raider I can be, it makes sense to switch to Fire. Frost made sense pre-TBC since MC and BWL were bad for Fire. But now, keeping Frost just doesn't make sense. Not that Frost can't do do high damage, especially if you have good gear and maybe coupled with some points in Arcane - but Fire simply makes it easier to get those high crits and high overall DPS.
So how is it now?
Well my DPS has increased, I am now regularly in the top 5, sometimes top 3 of the DPS-ers. Of course not for every fight, sometimes I die, sometimes the fight requires that I keep a mob sheeped all the time... But when I DPS, I rock.
Yesterday I upgraded my damage even more, making and equipping Spellfire Robe and Spellfire Belt. With some nice +dmg gems, I now have even higher +dmg and expect to climb even higher in the DPS list. My Mana and Health both took a hit, but that can't be helped and I think I still have enough. Health is a bit low and that worries me, but except for instant +8k dmg hits I should be okay in a raid setting, with buffs and pots bringing my health up to an acceptable level. I still haven't raided with the new gear, am looking forward to it to see what it is like. My biggest problem will probably be agro.

However, questing and killing mobs are harder now. As a Frost Mage, it was much easier to keep the mob away from me. Even when it reached me, I had Ice Barrier to soak up a few hits and Ice Block as a panic button.
Playing a Fire Mage is very different. for one thing, I can't slow the mobs, so they reach me quickly. For someone used to watching the mobs run to me in slow-motion, seeing them suddenly barreling at full speed can be disconcerting. Also, I have no Ice Barrier, so until I can kill it, I have almost no way of keeping the mob from hitting me. Frost Nova and Dragon's Breath both last almost too little time to make a difference. The result is that I get hit a lot more and spend a lot more time eating.
Worst was doing the "Wrangle More Aether Rays!" Daily Quest - since I can't kill the Ray, I have to ever-so-gently DPS it down below 20%. With my huge crits and the Ray's small health-pool, I've killed several Rays by mistake. On the other hand, I've had a single Ray take me down to 50% life... :(
The good news is, the higher your DPS, the better being a Fire Mage becomes for killing mobs. With my new items, I can usually kill the mobs in the Netherwing Ledge Mines (typical level 71 mobs) either before they get to me or before the manage to hit me a lot. Add the T4 two-item set bonus that prevents me from loosing Fireball casting time from damage and the result is I had a fairly easy time killing mobs, as long as I can open with a large crit and from a distance.

I think the change was well worth it overall, even the massive gold expenditure to buy the mats for the Spellfire items. For now I don't plan on getting the gloves, I'd lose I think too much from giving up my T4 gloves, even though the Spellfire set bonus rocks (more damage ftw :)). Fire is definitely a spec that works better the more spell damage and crit chance you have.

My biggest problem will be farming Primal Fire in the future. As a Frost Mage, I could farm Primal Water from the elementals below Halaa, those aren't immune to frost. But all mobs that drop Motes of Fire are immune to Fire :(

Oh well, you can't have it all...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Faith in Karazhan

Last evening I logged in, fully expecting a quite evening of farming, fishing and an early bed. Solidstate already has both T4 pieces from Karazhan, so I wasn't expecting to be invited to the raids (we have 2 going now).
But group 2 was missing a priest and I happen to have Solidfaith, a Holy Kara-Attuned Priest. So a few tells, a quick relog, and Solidfaith was on his way to his first ever Kara run :)

I was a bit nervous, I've only had experience healing in 5-mans up till last evening, so I wasn't sure if I was good enough. To help me out, I popped over to the AH and bought a Flask that gives 20 MP5, still had mana problems during the longer fights but was okay otherwise.

My +heal with raid buffs was +1250, give or take, so my GH do about 4k and crits for ~6-7k. I don't crit a lot, so by myself I would have failed as MT healer, but luckily I was just there for buffing and backup healing. The two raid paladins had most of the burden of healing.

Attumen was a snap. Moroes was harder since I had to keep one add shackled all the way to the end of the fight. This being my first time I had to use shackle so extensively, I messed up and the add kept getting loose and going after the close-by pala. Luckily for the raid, the pala is harder to kill than a squishy like me and I managed to re-shackle with no serious harm done. Later a hunter helped with Freeze Trap so once when my shackle broke the trap got him :)

Moroes down, although a bit messy, and we continued to Maiden. We made good progress on the trash, but wiped on our first try, not enough healing on MT :( (yes, partially my fault)
But we quickly pulled ourselves together and managed to take her down, this time with only 2 people down.
From Maiden we went to the Opera event, got "Romeo & Julianne". I prefer R&J over Big Bad Wolf, I hate getting turned into Little Red o_O
Jul got a couple of heals through but otherwise we did the event by the book, very clean and no deaths. Even better, Jul dropped Masquerade Gown, a very nice priest chest. Actually it wasn't that much of an upgrade over what I had, but the proc happens often enough that I think it makes this a good chest.
We were very pleased with our progress so far and decided to continue to The Curator.
Trash was actually easier than usual as we had 2 locks and 2 mages, so plenty of AoE on the eel packs.

I was assigned to heal the MT by the RL (pala), luckily for me the other pala /w me and told me he would keep his target (the OT) topped up and help me heal the MT, that made me a lot less nervous.
During this fight as a mage I usually stand far away from the Curator so I have a clear view of the entire fight and how everyone is doing, as a MT healer I was standing in line with him, next to Curator, so I didn't see the rest of the raid at all or how the DPS were handling the adds. I was okay with healing but pala helped a lot since I was running low on mana during the entire fight and even drinking mana pots like crazy barely helped. In any case the MT never got too low and we managed to down the Curator without any problem, which made us all very happy :)

We had originally planned to get only to Curator, but we had made such good progress we downed him early and after voting on it decided to continue to Aran. I was actually a bit skeptical, lots of new ppl and at least 2 alts (me and a lock) were in the group, and Aran is a fairly hard fight for Kara.
Aran, as a mage, is bloody annoying. I don't have a lot of health, so if the healers aren't quick enough to top me off and he targets me, I have a good chance of dying. I've spent many an Aran fight dead on the ground mid-way through... Furthermore, mages need to stand in order to DPS, and Aran sure likes to make you run around...
This time though, I was the healer, so keeping me topped off wasn't a problem. With 2 locks, the adds weren't as much of a problem as they usually are, and from my perspective, the fight was not that hard - just keep alive and stay ahead of the occational Blizzard. Again mana was a problem, but I guess that can't be helped, I'll have to get used to chugging mana pots :)

Well we got Aran down and tired but happy broke off to sleep. Today the guys will only have Illhood, Prince and the 2 dragons left, a challenge but I'm they will be up to it. Alas, I already know I'll be logging late today so I couldn't register for more Kara fun with my priest.

Maybe I'll get that fishing done... ;)

The only other thing to note is that the other Kara group, having dropped Attumen, got the Fiery Warhorse's Reins. Our GM, who was in that group, bid 100 DKP and won, and I was really happy for him, he's worked hard for our guild and I think deserves such nice rewards. But later when I saw him in Shattrath I was a bit disappointed. At a quick glance the horse isn't very different from a warlock mount. Also, the horse is scaled to human proportions, like a regular horse. So a Night Elf riding it looks a bit like a human riding a pony in RL... I think all Blizzard have to do is make the horse bigger and that alone would make it more drool-worthy. Giving it a speed boost over 100% would make it even more epic. As it is, it's not something I personally would spend 100 DKP on. However, our GM goes to practially every raid and so has a lot more DKP to spend... :)

All in all I'm very happy, got some nice new gear (forgot to mention the new ring from Violet Eye) and better yet had a fun time doing it with people I like, chatting and joking around in TS. Life couldn't get much better... (cue the Swedish Bikini Team... :))

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Knowing More Things: Useful In-Game Mods

There's a nice post over at The Hunter's Mark detailing useful websites for WoW information.

Those are all nice sites and I use all those he mentioned, but I also think there are 2 in-game resources worth mentioning that will help you appear all-knowing, without even having to alt-tab to Windows :)

The first is Cartographer. It is a modular, lightweight, and efficient (Ace2-based) framework for manipulation of the world map. The base mod is already useful, but throw in the various addons such as Cartographer Quests and it becomes a really powerful resource, e.g. for C. Quests you can see at a glance where there are Quest-givers in an area and what their name is and the quests they give.
Download C. pre-compiled databases and you'll have almost too much info :)
Another cool feature is that any guild mate using C. GuildMates (? forgot exact name) will have an icon on the map showing his/her current location, so that you can see at a glance where in Shattrath that guild mage of your is that you want to trade for water, without having to be in the same party. Not a must-have, but Very Cool :)

The second is LightHeaded. It adds a window to your quest log that displays quest information and comments from WoWHead, eliminating the need to Alt-Tab when you need info for a quest. Even better, for every quest, the name of the NPC who is the start/end of the quest is a link to another page that has the coordinates for that NPC. Every coordinate is a link that when clicked, draws a way-point arrow on your screen, showing direction and distance of that coordinate relative to your current location. Mega-useful feature :) In fact, for most quests, leafing through the quest comments, you'll usually find a post that says something like "the mobs can be found at [x-coord,y-coord]" where the coordinates will be a link just like the NPC link, arrow and all. I just love this mod to pieces :)

Using these 2 mods will really help you appear all-knowing :)

Supersolid has hit 51

So around noon yesterday I decided I wanted to do ZG, I had a bunch of quests there and I figured with those and the XP from mobs, I'd get to 51.

At first I asked the guild chat for alts or a free level 70, but no one responded. So I put myself in the LFG and pretty soon found a PuG, not a good one though as one DPS was only level 44 which is about as low as you can be in ZG.

Just as we were about to enter ZG, suddendly I get a /w from a level 70 guild mate who tells me he can come help me. I figured it would go faster with him, apologized to the PuG, left and teamed up with him.

He was also a hunter, so I was a bit afraid at first of wiping on large groups, but we were taking them down so fast, it was no problem. Even in melee range he was doing some serious damage :)
I pulled too much agro on the pyramid event, died and had to run back. There were several respawns (patrols) on the way back to the pyramid, I had to FD twice but in the end I made it, just in time to kill the last mobs, loot the quest mobs I needed and kill Bly. Lucky me :)

Didn't get any serious gear upgrades, just a necklace and later a nice ring from a quest reward. Most importantly though, I dinged 51 so that made me really happy :)

Later that evening I had more free time, so I continued from Gadgedztan down to Un'goro Crater. My quest log was getting a little sparse in terms of yellow quests and Un'goro seemed just the right level to get a new bunch of them.
Right after entering Un'goro there's a quest NPC, he gave me 2 quests, already a good start :)
I continued in the direction of the flight point, hugging the mountains (alas, no veins that I spotted). On the way I saw a big level 54 elite rex, figured, what the heck, I'm feeling confident :) Alas, he turned out to be too much for me. For one thing, he kept fearing NotAllThere (my cat). For another, he hits *really* hard. With improved Mend Pet on full time my pet's life was still going down way fast. In the end he killed me but I got him down to 10%, not bad for trying to take down an elite 3 levels higher than me. He'll be seeing me again once I hit 52 for a rematch :)
I got to the north-east corner and started killing apes for the pelts, drop rate was pretty bad but managed to finish it. Continuing to the flight point, I passed the tar-pits. As I had a quest for the "super-sticky tar" that drops from the mobs there and they were just regular level 54 mobs, I figured they wouldn't be a problem for me to take down. They weren't but it was a bit slow. Coupled with a low drop rate, I was there for a while killing them. So after I finished I went up to the FP, grabbed the quests there, took the bird back to Gadg to return the "super-sticky tar" quest, get rested-XP in the inn and logged for the night. Now I have a bunch of yellow quests, a fun area to run around in and am looking forward to hitting to 52 in a couple of days. Too bad I won't have much rested-XP, but I just can't wait to get to 58 and outlands :))