My Chars

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alchemical Blood

There are reports of a new passive ability in the WotLK beta called Alchemical Blood. If it stacks with my Redeemer's Alchemist Stone it will be a very nice effect.

I do wonder about the description though. Except for more mana/health from mana/health pots, what could the description mean? More int and spi from drinking an Elixir of Draenic Wisdom? How much more? The mind boggles at the possibilities... :)

I really like where professions are going so far in WotLK, e.g. the ability to sell enchants in the AH. I am really looking forward for that, not so much as a money maker but as a way to enchant my alts. Plus now this Alchemy buff will be great for my priest.

Good times. Now just buff fishing and make me happy! :)

Solidd Updates

I tanked SP Heroic 2 nights in a row.

First night was horrible, we had 2 rogues and a hunter as DPS and a Shaman as healer. The 2 sapped mobs kept breaking together, immediately make a beeline for the shaman and kill him, and wipe the party. I was using a crappy "spam taunt" tanking method and my taunt was always on CD just when I needed it. We managed to finish the run after 2 hours and so many wipes I stopped counting.

After the run the hunter, who is a friend and who's main in a paladin tank, spoke to me and educated me about when to use taunt and when not to.

Then last night I went with another group to Heroic SP, we had a paladin as a healer, and a warlock, mage and shaman as DPS. This time the healer obviously drew a lot less agro, plus I saved my taunts for when they were needed. Result- a very clean heroic run with only 1 wipe. It helped that the mage and lock could continue their CC for as long as needed.

The one wipe was due to the first pair of Defenders, we knew they hit like trucks but they killed me so quickly the healer was just surprised. After that wipe we used a strategy of having the shaman pull the other defender while using Earthbind Totem to slow it down, letting me tank only 1 defender at a time. Work beautifully :)

My point in all this:
- if at first you don't succeed, try try again :)
- if you have 2 rogues, make sure 1 remains in stealth to keep 1 mob sapped otherwise you will quickly have a dead healer.
- Earthbind Totem works well on Defenders in Heroic SP but be careful they still hit like trucks.

Oh and I managed to level to to 364 in Leatherworking. "Only" 11 points to go! :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Best... AoC... Review.... Evah!

I don't usually post about other games but this one had me in tears it was that damn funny :) Enjoy :)

Tanking Heroic Botanica

Last evening the Daily Heroic was Botanica. A couple of guild mates (mage and fury warrior) were looking for a tank and I thought I would give it a chance.
We were joined by a healer and a hunter from other guilds but good ones, so I knew this would be a good PuG.

Even so, Heroic Botanica is a hard instance for a druid tank, with many pulls consisting of large groups (4, 5 or even more mobs). The 2 CC did the best they could of course but it was hard going all the way and the run took about twice the time a well geared group with a Paladin tank would have. The BoK and Commanding Shout buffs helped me of course, together with a Flask of Fortification and a food buff I had just over 17k life which was sufficient most of the time.

First time we wiped was while fighting a group of 3 mobs too close to the end of the path of a patroling robot. After that you can bet I made sure to stay far away from patrols :)
I don't think we wiped again on trash but we were pulling/killing a bit slowely. The low DPS worked in my favor as a tank, since I could hold agro more easily, but it didn't make the run any faster. Also sometime people died here and there and we had to wait till they were ressed and ready for the next pull.

The first boss was actually easy, our DPS was high enough so that only one group of adds had time to spawn and I managed to get agro on them so that there was no problem taking them down after the boss.

Botanist Freywinn also didn't present us with any problems, everyone knew the tactic of running to the corner so that the lashers would have to follow us, DPS was again high enough that after ~3 repetitions the boss was down.

Thorngrin wiped us once. I pulled, the fight started okay, then the paladin healer got Sacrificed. No problemo, he simply bubbled... only then the boss proceeded to Sacrifice him twice more in a row, with predictable results. After we all ressed and were ready again, I positioned the paladin out of LoS and tanked the boss in the center of the room. The frequent loss of agro right after he casts Sacrifice was annoying and I kept having to run out of the AoE fire but otherwise the fight was straight-forward and we got him down.

Another wipe was on Laj. The first time I tried him, I got up on the podium when you first see him and tanked him there. I started taking really insane amounts of damage whenever the adds would come up and so did the fury warrior (hunter and mage were assigned to the adds). After we wiped, the warrior suggested he take the add while the mage nukes the boss, making the healer's job easier. In addition, I stayed off the podium, meaning almost no damage while the adds were up (Laj goes back on top of the podium whenever adds are summoned), so the healer's job was much easier. It also helped that the hunter put up his Nature Resistance aura. Turned the fight into a very easy fight actually :) Only other thing I noticed - near end of the fight Laj did an expanding cloud/ring of poison that was centered on my location, and I started taking large amounts of damage from it, so I moved from it after a while. Maybe that was what killed me first time...

The trash just before the last boss were really impossible for me to tank, as there were just too many for swipe to be any good and therefore the others easily got agro. The poor squishy mage died twice (once per pack) but thankfully we didn't wipe on them.

Warp Splinter himself was hard, we wiped/reset 2 times before taking him down. First time, mage pulled agro, pulling the boss to the group. I taunted but the mage had already blinked to me, which put him far from healer. Since Warp does AoE damage, the mage was soon dead and our DPS became too low and we had to reset. Second time we took him down to 1% before healer went OOM and died and soon after I died too. Last time was the charm, we gave it all we had and the boss went down :)
Warp is pretty annoying to tank as he stunned me every few seconds during the fight which made it really hard to build/keep agro. This also affected our DPS since both me and the fury warrior were stunned a lot during the fight. My main mistake during the fight was not turning Warp around, his Arcane Volley did quite a bit of damage to the group meaning the paladin had to work really hard. Ah well, live and learn :)

At least in terms of badges the instance was worth it - 4 badges + 2 from daily, but sadly I didn't get any new tanking gear. Maybe next time...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Swift Flight Form

The Swift Flight Form quest line is well documented and there are even complete guides out there. From personal experience I can give the following advice regarding preparations:

  1. You'll need the Artisan Riding skill in order to start the quest line. Say "bye bye" to 5k gold :)
  2. Prepare around 1-1.5 hours for doing the chain up to the Chasing the Moonstone quest (#15), which is the last quest before having to do Heroic Seth. Halls. At least this is what it took me. A lot of it is flying around and I also spent some time going to IF in the middle of the quest line to buy some of the below elixirs. Buying everything before starting will save you time.
  3. 10 Ancient Lichen and 10 Dreaming Glory for quest #2.
  4. An Earthen Elixir shouldn't cost too much and is a big help for quest #11. Buying a nice battle elixir to boost your DPS should also help.
I can't talk about the last 2 quests because I haven't done them yet, but here are my impressions from the first 14 quests:
  • One of the most fun chains I've done, these quests will use your druid skills to the max. One note is that it seems that as a resto you'll have some problems soloing this chain from what I've read, better bring a friend. As a feral all stages were fairly easy.
  • In quest #2 I wasn't ready for the explosion and before I had time to shift to flightform I hit the ground and died. I would say about 50-75% of the plants exploded so be ready with that quick shift to flightform.
  • I wasted 10 min in quest #4 because I somehow missed the spirit. When you return quest #3 don't follow the man to the alcove, follow the spirit outside! Bloody annoying :( Otherwise just make sure to cast an occasional HoT on the ghost as he really does have very low HP.
  • Prowl worked well for me in quest #9 just make sure to prowl right up to the bird before casting the net since as soon as you start casting to and become visible the birds will try to fly away (and they are fast). I didn't think of pouncing and stunning the bird before casting the net but as it turns out I didn't need to, the first cast was good enough :)
  • I did exactly what wowhead suggested for quest #10 and except for a few mobs I didn't have to do any fighting to this part.
  • I used bear form for quest #11, plus the Earthen Elixir and Demo Roar for reducing the damage from the adds. Worked great.
  • Cat form for quest #12 worked very well, I used Maim as suggested in wowhead to interrupt his knockback spells but otherwise I let him cast since I didn't want to waste my rage or combo points and not have enough to stop the knockback. One time I had enough combo points (stun was long enough) to shift out and heal myself, so really was a pretty easy fight even though I was a bit slow (had 11 debuffs on me at the end :)).
  • Used caster (Night-elf) form for quest #13. Naturally #13 was the hardest for me as a feral but if I managed to do it with my crappy caster gear, I guess anyone can :) However it really is important to keep him rooted at all times, he hits hard in melee! Also make sure your gear gives you enough mana, mine (with various cloth pieces) gives me ~9k mana which was enough. He resisted my root spell several times so I had to heal myself quite a few times but again went smoothly.
Quest 15 should be doable/easy, I plan on using a Free Action Potion just before the start, as I don't have the PvP trinket. As for heroic Seth Halls, I've seen it done enough times to know what to expect. Will be interesting to see if I can tank it though...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Solidd Gear Plans

I've started looking at gear from instances to replace what I have. I'm a bit surprised to see that even my initial gear is pretty good for tanking, compared to what drops.
For example my 3-item crafted set seems pretty hard to replace from drops, even items from heroic instances I've seen look more like side-grades (e.g. more stamina but less armor).

I think I'll do some research while working on my CE rep. Earthwarden is a sure upgrade atleast :)

Here's what I've found so far, in no particular order:
* Forestheart Bracers - Warchief Kargath Bladefist, Heroic SH
* Band of Determination - Vexallus, Normal MgT
* Argussian Compass - The Black Stalker, Heroic UB
* Commendation of Kael'thas - Priestess Delrissa, Heroic MgT

From all that I've seen, my best bet is to get to a level where I can tank heroic instances and then farm badges since the best gear by far is all badge gear... big surprise ;)

Speaking of rep rewards, Earthwarden is about as good as it gets. Sure I want to get Honored with Keepers of Time for the PvP gloves but apart from the SSO Pendant there really isn't any rep reward worth getting. Kinda sad when you think about it - all that grinding for almost nothing...

Of course there's always the option of grinding BGs for those S2 items... but as I already said, I hate PvP.

Solidd dings 70, let the gold flow!

It finally happened, Solidd dinged 70. After reaching 95% on the XP-bar from various instance runs, I went to Terokkar when 2 green quests and a few mob kills were enough to bring me the rest of the way.

Dinging 70 meant a huge cash outflow for me. First and foremost was buying the epic flying riding skill and a mount, a cool 5.2k gold right there. Then there were gems to socket new gear, mats for enchants and armor enhancements, new gear to buy from vendors... the gold just flowed and flowed. I have basically sucked all of my characters dry :)

I can really appreciate now why tanks are the first and foremost to cry about lack of gold. It's not the repair bills so much as the massive amounts of gold you spend on gear. As a dps char, it doesn't really matter if you don't immediately get the best gem. As a tank, it's practically a matter of life-and-death ;p

Even worse, every new piece of gear means not just costs for it, but costs for previously enchanted and gemmed gear. Got a new ring with +defense on it? Guess what, you just need to spend another cool 100g to replace some defense gems that are no longer needed! It's enough to make a grown bear cry... :)

For druids who wish to have a decent DPS set apart from the tanking set, it becomes even worse. I have un-gemmed DPS gear that I just don't have the gold to socket now, at least not with blue-quality gems. As for my caster gear, that's a complete joke...

Still I don't want to make this post a whine-fest. I'm happy with my druids and happy to spend the gold on a good cause. In bear form I now have around 13.5k life and 17k armor (self-buffed with MotW), 22% dodge and am crit-immune. These are great starting stats for normal instances and in fact last night I tanked SV, twice, once after the other.

There were no over-powered chars on these runs. I, a new bear, was the tank. Healer was a Shaman with good healing gear but not exceptional (~ 1.3k bonus healing). DPS for the first run consisted of 2 hunters and a mage, and both the mage and one of the hunters were level 69. Yet we only wiped once in the entire run, nor did we have any particular trouble. The only wipe was at the last boss since the DPS forgot(?) to kill the water-tank and the boss got his double-damage buff and promptly killed me.
On the second run the mage was replaced with a good 70 rogue who did great damage, that run was even faster and we finished it cleanly and without a wipe. I hit revered with CE and so have only 21k rep till my Earthwarden, yey :)

All-in-all I'm very happy. Having my own tank char is a great feeling. I will have to take some time now to grind gold, which means due to my lower play-hours that I will not be doing instances on those days. But that is not a problem and I've already proven to myself that making even 1kg per week is very doable. That should give me a nice buffer to have the gold to enchant/gem my tanking gear as required. I might even splurge and waste a bit on my DPS gear :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Solidd dings 69

I actually dinged 69 a couple of days ago but I was too lazy to blog about it ;)

I am now well on my way to 70 (~35% left to go), due to running several instances during the weekend. A particularly fun run was doing normal Arcatraz with a T5/6 Hunter and priest, with a good level 70 druid tank, and myself and a 70 warlock as secondary (and pretty low) dps.

The hunter was tanking/killing smaller mobs by himself while the druids tanked the bigger mobs and bosses. It was a fun run because I had little to worry about, it was fast, and I actually got to be useful... In the room with the 2 bosses, Dalliah and Soccothrates, there are several mobs that need to be cleared and this has to be done carefully as there are stealthed ones too (the Temptress). Anyway the druid was a little hasty and managed to pull at the same time 3 mobs, 2 of them Temptresses. Mind Control confusion abounded, and in the meyham, the priest got killed. Que your quick-thinking druid, I managed to both battle-rez the priest and to OT (in bear form) one Temptress untill the other mobs could be downed by the team. Good fun :)

WotLK Beta Patch-Notes - Mage section Impressions

I was going to do a detailed review of the mage notes, but Christian Belt has done such a good job summarizing the changes, I can only link to his post and say I totally agree.

Well actually I do have a comment about Incanter's Absorption, I think it will proc off magic-resistance based absorption, not from any shield. But a comment on wowhead says differently, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

This concludes my short review of the short mage section of the current beta patch notes :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

WotLK Beta Patch-Notes - General section Impressions

Here are my thoughts about the newly released info shown on wowindsider about the WotLK Beta patch notes, General section:

  • "Hit Rating, Critical Strike Rating, and Haste Rating now modify both melee attacks and spells." - this will definitly improve the mess that is the current ratings system, not to mention be a huge benifit for classes that rely on both melee and spell damage, such as paladins. Still you got to wonder, will we see e.g. rogues in PuGs now rolling on caster gear because of haste/crit/hit ratings on it? I smell yet another excuse for ninjas and loot-whores to run rampant! But in all seriousness, this is a change for the better. Thumbs up.
  • "Spellpower" - I like this change as it will make tooltips shorter :) Also, it will be a bit weird to have only e.g. +1k spellpower on my priest instead of +2k healing. Will have to wait and see but especially during leveling for example of my priest this will be a definite help. Thumbs up.
  • Transportation to Northrend - I'm sorry, but why do Horde get transportation from 2 major cities, while Alliance get one from Stormwind and one from... Menethil Harbor?! Since mages can now teleport/portal to Theramore, it would have been a better choice IMHO. Having transportation from SW and another major city such as Darnassus would have made even more sense. Thumbs down :(
  • Dungeons - there are already 2 starting-level (70-72) instances, compared to only Ramparts in TBC. Win all-around and a solid Thumbs up.
  • Classes - I'll make a seperate post for each class I play.
  • "Macros and key bindings are now saved server-side" - I only play from one computer so this has never been an issue for me, but a nice buff for people playing from multiple comps. Thumbs up.
  • "Shift-clicking to loot mail" - about time :) Thumbs up.
That's it for now, I'll cover classes and loot in a seperate post. Looking good for now but too little info at this stage, I guess we'll all have to wait for more info.

Small updates, WotLK beta

Due to RL I haven't had much time to play lately, just a few hours here and there. So I'm letting Solidd sit for a while and gain rest XP so that when I do the final push from level 68 to 70 I'll have double XP the whole way.

Meanwhile the other Solids have been busy grinding daily quests in order to get the 5k gold needed for the epic flying mount skill for Solidd. As soon as he hits 70 I want to get him up to speed, haha ;p Also been grinding some primals for my tailoring and transmutations and the odd instance run for rep and badges (Solidfaith is not yet exalted with all of the important factions).

WotLK beta has started and information is starting to come out in the major WoW related websites. I'm not in the beta but I intend to read the available material and post my thoughts here for posterity :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project Lore

5 dudes.
4 cameras.
World of Warcraft videos (*).

Fun stuff. Go watch it :)

(*) Actually they have guides, a blog etc. but I haven't read any of them. Just saw the Ramparts episode 1, good quality video, although I think they should have explained things a bit more.

Here's the video I watched, for your viewing pleasure:

patch 2.4.3

"Zoning into an instance on a PvE realm will now drop your PvP flag"

Awesome! No longer having pvp infection in your raid or 5-man party :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blizzard wins "Glider" lawsuit

As the original site where the story broke seems to be slashdotted, you can read about it on slashdot (ironic isn't it ;)). Some of the comments are interesting too.

I don't usually blog on stuff outside of my personal WoW experiences but I wanted to mention this because I hate the hackers, gold spammers/farmers, bots and other such low-life ruining the game experience for the rest of us and I'm glad Blizzard won this case.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Solidd dings 68, Flight Form very cool :)

Yep I dinged the big 6-8, went to trainer and have been flying around ever since.

What can I say, it is very cool to be able to fly around for quests instead of having to wait for level 70 like the rest of my chars :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

355 LW, Scryer+Sha'tar, WotLK Beta

After a bit of grinding leather in Nagrand and thanks to some additional leather I was sent by a friend, I got to 355 LW and was able to make myself the Heavy Clefthoof Leggings. So now I have all 3 set items. When I get to 69 I'll enchant and gem the 3 items to be ready for level 70.

I spent I guess over 2 hours today grinding Firewing Signets, by returning them I got rep with both the Scryer and Sha'tar factions, so good use of my time there I think :) I still need more signets though and as there are none on the AH, I'll have to grind some more... sigh...

Blizzard's billing site was king enough to be working today so I managed to signup for the WotLK beta. I'm really excited about all that I've read, from mage and priest new talents to the entire DK class and I'm looking forward to testing it out. I hope I get lucky and get chosen, keeping fingers crossed :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

350 LW, CoT and some other stuff

Last night I started with using all the leathers I skinned in Nagrand previously to skill up to 350 LW. Got my last recipes from the LW trainer in Shattrath and waved /bye to her. Goodbye trainer, hello faction recipes, AH and world drops :)

I took a look at the AH to see if I could find anything interesting, and saw a Heavy Clefthoof Vest being sold for about 240g bid. The time was short so I placed my bid and soon after won the vest. As I already have the boots (a friend gave them to me), all I have left to get from the set are the leggings. Based on the price for Thick Clefthoof Leather on my server (about double the price listed on wowhead) I think I made a good deal. I may have paid more than the item was worth in terms of mats but not that much, and I saved myself a fairly long grind.

Happy with the evening so far, I got on the LFG channel, for either CoT or Seth Halls. As it happens a CoT: Durnholde Keep run was what I got (as dps, the group already had a tank). The PuG was okay, tank and healer knew what they were doing and the run went smoothly. The only bummer for me was that the tanking ring dropped from the first boss but I didn't win it and the dps cloak dropped from the last boss, and again I lost the roll. Sigh...
Well at least I got to friendly status with Keepers of Time.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Druid tanks beginner's set - plan for Crit Immunity

Okay, so now that I know I need 156 d.r. to become crit immune, how am I going to get it, relatively easily, when I ding 70?
Well, here's one plan. It can (and probably will) change according to which gear I get between now and 70, but it's as good a starting point as any:

  1. The Strength of the Clefthoof set will give me a total of 74 d.r., 4 blue sockets and 4 yellow sockets.
  2. In these 8 sockets I can put Enduring Talasite, giving me 32 d.r (and 48 stamina too! :)).
  3. I can enchant the chest with a +15 d.r. defense enchant.
  4. My mage can make Cloak of Eternity, which has 23 d.r.
  5. I can enchant the cloak with Steelweave, giving another 12 d.r.
The above will give me: 74+32+15+23+12 = 156. Ding! :D

As I get other defense gear, I'll be able to switch gems and enchants to stamina/agility gems and enchants.

I'm not sure what I'll do regarding gear with resilience. As I hate doing BGs, the above saves me from having to grind resilience gear. However the s2 gear does have some really sweet stats, so I may end up trying to get it anyway.

If I do get resilience gear, obviously I'll take it into account when re-gemming/enchanting my gear in order to get the most stamina/agility possible while staying crit-immune. However I have decided that for the moment I will not actively work to replace defense with resilience, for the simple reason that defense gives a boost to miss chance and dodge chance while resilience doesn't.

Solidd dings 67, pawns Nagrand animals

Last night I decided to dedicate to grinding leather in order to skillup my LW up to 350 (currently at 345). In order to combine it with a little XP, I took the 3 first Nesingwary quests and started grinding them.
Luckily for me, a friend of mine who is leveling a hunter was doing the same quests (although he was a bit in front of me in the chain). So we teamed up and this made the going much faster.

We did take a break to go on a Heroic UB run with some guild mates, I went on my mage and went all-out with AB spamming, damn it's fun seeing those 1.5s cast times :)

Once the run was over my friend and I went back and continued the chain. The 3 "animal bosses" were no problem for us - my friend's pet played the part of "tank", I healed him, and my friend provided the DPS. Sure the mob took a bit more time to take down and a feral druid doesn't make the best healer, but those mobs aren't very hard in any case :)

For the last boss, Tusker, we got a couple of friends who were in the area to join us, all 4 of us were DPS but this time I switched to bear form in order to taunt the beast and this gave the other 3 enough time to quickly nuke her down. Massive DPS ftw :)

My friend got a nice new gun which made him happy. All I got was a healing idol, not much use for a feral druid, but I can't complain - by the end of the day I skinned around 80 Knothide Leather, which will probably be enough to go up by 2-3 LW skill points. I also dinged 67 and am looking forward to new gear and new instances I can tank.

All in all, not bad for a single evening :)

Druid tanks beginner's set - cont'd

Gah, I need to l2read!

Gear doesn't give you defense skill, it gives defense rating (d.r.) - which is only worth about 0.423 defense skill. So to become uncrittable I need 156 d.r.

I didn't find out the above by myself, BBB was kind enough to answer an email from me and point out the difference, and the article where he explains it. The article also explains where the 156 number above comes from. Us druids need 65 d.s. to become uncrittable, which equals to 65/0.423 = 154 required d.r. However the article also point to an Elitist Jerks thread that suggests 156 instead, which is what I'm going to go with.

Since the Strength of the Clefthoof set only gives me 74 d.r., I will still need another 82 d.r. to become uncrittable (or about 55 resilience - I'll leave the boring math as an exercise to the reader) . I just knew it couldn't be that easy!

Still at least I found another nice article by BBB: Gearing your bear tank from 70 to Karazhan! It lists (relatively) easy to get equipment for every slot, saving me the trouble of having to do all that research. Thanks BBB! Now I know what I want to get/do before level 70 and I just have to actually do it :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Druid tanks beginner's set - gloves

Note to self - it will probably be easier to start off at level 70 with the Verdant Gloves, seeing as I would only need to do a quest line to get them, compared to the grind for getting the S2 gloves. More armor, lower stats, much easier to get :)

Druid tanks beginner's set

In order for a Druid Tank to become crit immune, assuming s/he has taken 3/3 SotF, said tank needs another 2.6% crit reduction. 2.6%/0.04% = 65 defense rating needed on top of the 350 defense every level 70 player gets.

The Strength of the Clefthoof crafted set, a fairly easy to craft/buy 3-item (legs/pants/chest) LW set, gives 74 defense rating, making you crit immune just from those 3 items (and then some ;)).

The first (yellow) comment on the wowhead page of the set threw me off a bit as it quoted different numbers and said that the set itself was not enough. Until I relealized that the comment was from 2006 and no longer relevent. Someone should update it :)

I'm also thinking of grinding enough BGs in order to get some of the S2 feral set items now being sold for honor points and BG marks (since s4 started) - specifically the gloves, helm and shoulders. The Merciless Gladiator's Maul also looks very interesting, at least until I get started with heroics and save up 150 badges for the Staff of the Forest Lord. All of the PvP resilience will be wasted since I'll already be crit-immune, but the armor+stamina numbers look very nice indeed :)

Of course it all depends on what items I'll pick up from instances/quests/etc. along the way to 70 and at 70, since I find BGs both boring and a seriously slow grind (alliance in my battlegroup almost never win any BG).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mage Musings

There's a new post over at WoW Insider called "How to fix Mages". To summarize, the author asks for more DPS.

There's around 130 comments on that post, so obviously this is something the community cares about. Skimming through them, I've seen comments both for and against the argument that mages need buffing, both by mages and non-mages.

Well since this blog is called Arcane Blaster I really should post my thoughts, even if I am more of an altoholic these days then a proper mage :)

First of all, there are several logical holes in the author's points. I'll list the points here and give my personal opinions below:

  1. There's no mention of PvP at all. Given that PvP is a big part of WoW for many players, if not the main, this is a glaring omission. Saying "but this post is about mages in PvE" just doesn't cut it, since it is well known Blizzard balances classes as much for PvP as for PvE. Therefore any discussion of mage shortcomings in PvE must consider also how they do in PvP in parallel or risk being irrelevant.
  2. There's no mention of where/how mages are not the top DPS. Is it when soloing? 5-man instances? 10-man raids? 25-man raids? SWP only? The author makes a claim but it is too general, leaving it up to the readers to guess what exactly it is that he is saying. Of course, different people guess differently, based on their experience/knowledge. Some are saying mages only become underdogs in SWP, others claim we are fine, yet others are saying we under-perform even in Kara. Without clarifying exactly what his means, the author's rant becomes too general and therefore less effective (unless you believe mages are broken everywhere).
  3. The author claims mages are broken because we can be replaced by other classes and these classes will do our job better - so obviously he's referring to raids. Yet he fails to specify exactly what these roles are and as for the top-DPS role, the author makes the extreme claim that "no less than 5 other classes" can best us at "the highest levels of the game as it currently stands".
Here are my thoughts/opinions:

Regarding point (1) above: I don't PvP much personally but PvP/Arena is a big part of WoW for many players. It is well known that Frost Mages do well in Arena. In fact, in the 3v3 Arena, a combo of Rogue/Mage/Priest won the Korea World Wide Invitational 3v3 tournament. Oh, do you know what the team name was? "Council of Mages" :) As for Arena in general, I don't know how well mages do in comparison to other classes, but at least in 3v3 and 5v5 the latest Armory analysis seems to show that mages are gaining. So, don't talk about "mages are broken". Say instead, "mages are broken in PvE", if you must!

Regarding point (2) above:
  1. Mages are fun. Like the author, I too have played a mage in WoW for 3 years (with small breaks here and there for me). I too love the class and enjoy blasting mobs. so do many (most) other mages. Therefore, unless we have serious trouble with soloing, we are not broken- for soloing.
  2. Are we broken for 5-man instances? Hardly. First of all, food/water is important and a mage's table is a very welcome sight for most 5-mans. Secondly, sheep is one of the best CC spells/abilities, arguably the best. Sap is a one-time shot; Once it breaks, you have a loose mob. Banish is repeatable but the warlock must wait till the banish full duration is over, and the mob breaks free, before he is able to re-apply it; The results can be... messy. In addition there are simply less banishable mobs in instances compared to sheepable ones. A hunter's Freezing Trap is a nice thing.. until it is resisted or for some reason broken, at which point the hunter's ability is usually on CD and you have a free and angry mob next to you. Shadow Priests have Mind Control, but this has severe range limitations and can often result in the death of the priest when the MC duration is over due to the astronomical amount of threat it generates. They also have shackle for undead; This too is less useful compared to sheep, due to a lack of undead mobs compared to humanoids/beasts. Boomkins have Cyclone, with obvious limitations. DPS Warriors and Shamans have no CC. To sum things up, currently, mages have the best form of CC. Will things be different in WotLK? Yes. But that is in the future and I believe the author was trying to imply mages are broken now...
  3. In addition to the best/most-widely-usable CC ability of any DPS class, mages also have the ability to remove curses, i.e. "decurse". Of all DPS classes, only Moonkin have this ability and Moonkin hardly compete with mages when it comes to DPS.
  4. Are we broken for raids? In blog after blog, forum post after forum post, WWS log after WWS log, I've gotten the same picture. Mages in SWP raids are doing lower DPS than other DPS classes. But he's the point - it is only there, and at the last few bosses of BT, that you see such a problem. To claim the entire mage class is broken because we don't live up to our top DPS role in content that is seen by less than 5% of the entire player population is just silly. Yes, those mages have a problem and that needs to be addressed. But in the words of the movie, for the vast majority of mages, the correct response should be "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" :)
To summarize, mages still do amazing DPS and provide essential support (both CC and decursing) in 90% of the content in WoW - from Hellfire Ramparts in normal mode up to MH/BT fights.

Regarding point (3) above, if you're going to make extreme claims, at least provide some evidance of your words. 5 other classes can do more DPS? I've never seen anyone else claim that.
Raid survivability? With the changes to Ice Block making it trainable by all specs, claiming that mages lack survivability is ridiculous at best. Agro? T5 mages have the highest DPS/agro potential of any class, bar none. And while we lack the agro-dumping abilities of rogues, hunters and to a lesser extent warlocks and cat druids, we're still way better off than Shadow Priests, Moonkin Druids and DPS warriors and Shamans. Furthermore, while Invisibility is not ideal and frequently can be broken in mid-cast, it is there to be used, and when it works it's a 100% agro dump.
In all honesty, I don't think anyone but Blizzard can claim to know whether a class is actually doing well with regards to it's DPS. Everyone knows that Shadow Priests have low DPS (but very high utility), but are mages really inferior to warlocks? or rogues? Have you compared their gear? Raid makeup? Party makeup? Is the encounter tuned for more melee or ranged DPS? static or dynamic? There's almost no end to the variables that affect a person's DPS and many are highly personal, dynamic or situational. To make a sweeping statement that mages, as a class, are broken, is just mistaken IMHO.

Ding 66, MC retro

Solidd ding-ed 66 yesterday. This meant 2 major things:

1. I could learn Lacerate, a core Bear-tanking ability. I haven't had a chance yet to try it out in a real instance run but I did try it while helping a friend do a couple of group quests around my level and it definitely helped generate agro.

2. Goodbye Zangramash, hello Nagrand. Yes, I still have a couple of last quests in Zangramash that I want to do and yes, I did skip Terokkar Forest completely. However I wanted to grind Kurenai rep to honored in order to get a LW recipe that I thought would help me level up my LW. According to its description, Drums of Speed is a 345 LW recipe, and since I'm level 345 now and all of my "easy" recipes are yellow or green I was sure I would get a fairly easy orange recipe to level with. Alas, either because of a Blizzard bug or on purpose, this recipe was yellow as soon as I learned it, meaning this was no great help.
Still, the other nice thing about Nagrand is that it is a skinner's heaven, so it will be a good area to stay awhile and just skin like crazy. I really do want to get to 350 LW before I hit 70, even if it means making a bunch of fairly useless Drums of Speed.

In other news, Solidstate went on a retro Molten Core run with a bunch of guild mates and friends. We were between 10-13 people during the run and had no problem clearing any of the trash or bosses. The first pack of Core Hounds gave us some trouble untill we conviced people to stop doing single-target DPS, and soon after the hounds were dropping like flies, hehe :)
The only problem was, only myself and a friend has the Eternal Quintessence required to douse the runes in order to be able to fight Majordomo. So after a great run we had to stop at Majordomo, his room was empty :(
The run was a lot of fun and reminded me of old times, I'm not sorry I went even though the loot is no longer interesting and we didn't clear Majordomo and Ragnaros. Here are a few pointers from the run for those interested in doing this for themselves:

  1. Make sure to bring at least 3 people, pref 4 (unless you enjoy waiting) with the Quintesssence, otherwise you will not be able to summon Majordomo (assuming you don't do the instance really slowely ;)).
  2. For most of the instance we had 2 Paladin tanks aoe-tank all mobs, adds and bosses and there was no problem with that. Make sure they are well geared and you have at least 2 good healers and you should be fine. Firelord spawns should still be killed ASAP, no other trash should give you any trouble except for the Core Hounds, see above. FR gear for the tanks, especially the tank doing Baron Geddon, is a must.
  3. Lucifron is a pushover and his formerly annoying and dangerous curse can be totally ignored @70. However his adds with their Mind Control ability should be killed ASAP.
  4. A Fear Ward on your tank is nice to have when doing Magmadar, but not really essential. Our tank actually had to stand a bit in some flames to get some extra damage so he could get some mana back from the healing.
  5. Gehennas' Curse still needs to be decursed, as 75% reduced healing is no joking matter. As I was the only mage and there were no druids, I spent nearly the entire fight decursing :(
  6. Garr and all his adds were AOE tanked by our paladin tank and we killed Garr first and the adds after. Exactly the opposite of the tactic used @60 but works great @70.
  7. Baron Geddon quickly killed 3 melee guys who thought they could eat his fire damage just because they were 70. Our tank had 375 fire resistance gear so stayed in melee range but anyone without FR gear should not stay in melee range! Otherwise all I can say is, it's fun being Da Bomb!
  8. Shazzrah, like Gehennas, is still a fight where you need to decurse. And even at 70 her AOE damage to the group was no joking matter. So I spent 100% of the fight decursing :( I think I would not be wrong in saying Shazzrah was the hardest fight in MC in last night's run.
  9. Sulfuron's adds are still best killed one-by-one, by taking the add far away from his friends. We tried to AOE kill them in a group but they simply out-healed our dps.
  10. Golemagg was a pushover even at 60 and this doesn't change at 70.
Of course all of the above is correct for a 10 man MC run, 20 people will probably have an even easier time (assuming they know what they are doing).

One last note, at least 2 people who came were not attuned to MC, but a guildmate took them through BRD in about 3-5 minutes using a shortcut and I tagged along to learn the route:
  • Enter BRD and turn left, open the gate (you must have the Shadowforge Key).
  • Go on straight until you get to the T-junction and turn right. Avoid all mobs/patrols.
  • Run straight forward untill you get to the Black Anvil. You can kill Lord Incendius or skip him.
  • Jump from the left side down to the lava and swim onto the left edge. Run along forward until you have to swim and continue by swimming untill you get to a small island.
  • Heal up, continue swimming forward to another small island guarded by 4 elementals. You can avoid them by staying on the edge of the island. Heal up.
  • Continue forward a short distance through the lava until you get to just below The Molten Bridge. You should be able to sneek past the 2 groups of 3 elementals guarding the bridge and get to the shard which is the quest objective of the ATC quest. Gz :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Solidd dings 65, still in Zangramash

I dinged 65 last night, another marker on the way to 70. I'm beginning to plan the gear I'll want to buy/get when I hit 70 :)

Amazingly, I still have quests to do in Zangramash even though I'm already 65. This is actually a good thing as I want do to as many CE-rep quests as I can so I can get to exalted with them ASAP - Earthwarden makes little druid tanks cry ;)

I'll also need to do CE rep quests in Terrokar Forest and BEM but once those are done I'll have to do SV to get rep, which means it will take a while to get to exalted.