Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So, Athpal and I set up a 2v2 Arena team last night for fun, In Hoc Signo Vinces (should have ran a search on the name before settling on it :P). I thoroughly enjoyed PvP before the 2.0 patch and look forward to it again now that I've hit 70. Ath did a bit of PvP with me back in the day, but doesn't have a great deal of experience with it. Anyway last night we did our first matches and discovered, unsurprisingly, how much work we need to do to even be competitive.

Match 1 put us up against a shaman and a warrior. I went for the Shaman while Ath got eaten up by the warrior. I managed to get the shaman down, but Ath fell to the Warrior who quickly made short work of me.

Match 2 was the same match up, might even have been the same players. Anyway they both focused on Ath and then then cleaned the floor with me.

Match 3 was a Rogue/Warlock combo. In my idiocy I tried to sap the Warlock instead of the Rogue. Anyway we died fast.

Match 4 put us up against a druid/pally combo. They had roughly the same gameplan as us, namely DPS down the softer target while the Pally heals. So, for about the first two minutes the druid and I just smacked each other while our respective pally healed us. I think I had the advantage here as my Wound Poison reduced the effectiveness of their healing dramatically. The druid decided somewhere in there to focus on Ath and try to burn him down. I kept smacking on him while Ath kept himself alive. I got the druid down eventually, but then the opposing Pally got a Hammer of Wrath on Ath and took him out to the game, leaving me with a 1v1 vs. a Paladin. I think this match was in my favor and I burnt him down through one bubble and two life bars. I ended up having dealt over 70k damage in that match, it was funny.

Anyway, we decided to end our night with our win and vowed to run many, many BG's to get some blue PvP gear and figure out what we need to be doing.

Things that stuck out to me about what I need to be doing better is 1) Cloak of Shadows, don't forget I have it 2) Blind whenever it's up and 3) I have preparation, abuse my cooldown abilities. The dynamics have changed a lot since November, and I think it'll take a bit before I feel as comfortable with it as I used to be.

On Styles of Play

This post over on Tobold's Blog got my thinking about the different types of players that Blizzard has to keep happy. Initially I think one can use three broad variables to look at players. Now, this is completely off the top of my head and everything therein is arbitrarily assigned.

  1. Amount of play time.
    Simply the raw numbers of hours you put it. I know several people in my guild play less than 10 hours a week, where as I probably play around 30 hours a week. I'm sure that individuals with minimal RL obligations could put in many more hours. I'd be willing to guess that the 'average' player puts in around 20 hours a week. If you wanted a numeric ratings, 0=5 hours of playtime, 10=40 hours of playtime. I'd put myself at 7-8 here.
  2. Frequency of RL 'interruption'
    As I mentioned, I probably play ~30 hours a week, however that time is very broken up with a variety of things. Wife needs a hand with something, son wants to play outside, food on the table, etc. About the only time I get more than an hour of uninterrupted play is if I stay up much later than my wife and son, and RL prohibits that accept on Friday night. On the other end of that spectrum is an individual who can realistically sit down and play for 5 hours with little more than a bio break. Again I'd suggest that the average player is somewhere between the two, perhaps being able to put in two uninterrupted hours when they do play. A rating here would represent the average amount of time one can play without serious interruption (one taking more than 15 min), 0=0 minutes without interruption (aka could be AFK at any time), 10=5 hours of playtime. I'd rate myself at a 4, I can reasonably expect 90 min uninterrupted.
  3. Attitude towards Warcraft
    Now, this one is a little bit more difficult to measure, and I may be presenting it all wrong. When I log into Warcraft it's to relax and have fun. I'm much less concerned about gear, advancement, or thinking I'm 'the best' than I am about just kicking back. On the other end of that spectrum are individuals who's basis for playing is advancement. I'd say that most, if not all, serious raiders play primarily for advancement. I'm not saying that's bad, just that it's not my thing. 0=Social gamer with little care of end-game, 10=extreme desire to be at the cutting edge of advancement. I'd assign myself at 4 here, I enjoy getting upgrades, but it's not my motivation really.
Now, of course this is an overly broad example and I'm sure there's plenty of cases that would contradict what I've proposed, particularly with my horrible category 3. However, I think they're good enough for the rest of my discussion. Blizzard has a vested interest in all ends of each of these spectrum. Let's see what is targeted by each type of activity in the game (for simplicity
  • Raiding
    I would say that Raiding is targeted primarily at those players who are concerned about in-game accomplishment (category 3), have large amounts of uninterrupted time (category 2), and moderate to large amounts of play time (category 1). I think it's most appealing for people at a 6 or higher in C3, but requires a 7 in C2 and 4 in C1.
  • 5-Man dungeons
    Appeals to a broader segment that Raiding. Takes less time (generally) and with fewer people involved can be more forgiving of interruption. I'd say it's targeted at people with between a 3-7 in C3, at least a 2-6 in C1, and a 4-8 in C2.
  • 5-Man non-dungeon content (particularly the new 2.1 content)
    More targeted at the 'casual' then the dungeon content, also generally requires less time. I'd say is mostly focused at 0-5 C1, 2-6 C2, 2-6 C3.
  • Daily quests and level 70 solo questing
    Again even more casual then above. 0-3 C1, 0-5 C2, and 0-4 C3.
So, with the examples above let's look at what patch 2.1 is offering:
  • The Black Temple, obviously targeted at the hardest of the hardcore raiders
  • Large amounts of non-instanced 5-man content, should be great for all the non-hardcore. As the content seems to tie into existing dungeons the appeal here should be broad.
  • Daily quests and solo content with the new factions, should be great for the most casual players out there.
I think Blizz is doing to hit a home run with this patch. BT may be coming too soon as only one guild has cleared SSC and nobody has cleared TK. But baring that I think the timing of the new 5-man content is nice as I'm sure it will appeal to a large segment of the non-hardcore population.

Monday, April 23, 2007


So, I hit level 70 Saturday night after a day of questing in Netherstorm. Most of the quests were easy, only a few necessitating the assistance of a level 70 Warlock chum of mine. I was impressed with a number of the rewards I picked up, particularly the X-52 Pilot Leggings.

Upon hitting 70 I promptly flew over to Shadowmoon Valley and bought myself a Snowy Gryphon. Flying is pretty cool, as I'm sure many of you already know, but it wasn't as impressive as I expected. I don't know why, but for some reason I expected it be game changing. While it is not doubt very cool, it doesn't feel as cool as my first level 40 mount did, but perhaps my opinion will change over time.

Anyway, now that I have leveling out of the way and my first mount purchased, I need to decide what to focus myself on. I think my first objective is going to be hitting exalted with the Aldor for my Vindicator's Brand. A crazy 20 DPS increase of my current weapon (I side-graded to a Nexus Claw, the .3 speed difference was big enough to offset my Mag'hari Fury Brand's higher DPS). The .2 speed difference will drop my AP contributed damage by around 18, but the average damage per hit will still net me more Hemo damage, not to mention much more white DPS.

After that I believe that I'm going to focus on leveling my Leather working to 375 so that I can start working on my Primalstrike set. The bracers should be easy to make with minimal farming, the other pieces are going to require heroics though, so that'll take a while.

A fiend of my, who plays a Holy Paladin, should be hitting 70 tonight, if he didn't last night. We're going to start a 2v2 arena team for fun. Both of us enjoy PvP, but don't need to be 'the best' to have fun, so it's a good combination. I'll spend some of my time in BG's to improve my PvP 'set', but doubt I'll take it too seriously. I don't often reference other blogs, but sounds like Ming is now thinking about a 23/0/38 build for 2v2, which is very close to what I've been thinking. May end up trying it out, but I love Shadowstep for grinding...

Other than that I'm looking forward to 2.1 as there appears to a lot of very casual friendly content. I like that it's non-instanced as I lucky to do one instance a week. The new 'daily' quests sound fun. An enjoyable rep grind would be a pleasant change.

Not much to report on the Dreanei front. Completed 4 (I think) initial quests in The Hinterlands, then made the run into the Searing Gorge. Ran the escort quest and was dismayed to find it bugged (the assassinated dwarf's parchment never spawned), 45 min and one GM later it looks like we'll have to abandon it and re-do it. Didn't expect much else, but man does that dwarf walk slow...

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Macros

So, not much going on this week.

Sakuran hit 69, bought some new gear (Fel Leather Boots and Legs) and promptly bought and socketed the wrong gems. Crit > Spell Crit... Also respecced back to Shadowstep/Hemo. 11/21/28 was nice, but I don't think that its DPS gain was worth the diminished fun that comes with Shadowstep. So, Sakuran is sitting 19/0/41 I think which should work much better than the combat/shadowstep I tried before.

Moving back to a Premed build led me to fixing a bunch of my macros. For all my openers I'm using somethig along the lines of:

  • /showtooltip Cheap Shot
    /cast Pick Pocket
    /cast Premeditation
    /cast CheapShot
It's a nice way to automate a lot of things. You'll never run out of lockboxes and Premeditation will always be on cooldown.

After finishing my openers, I thought I'd play with my finishers a bit. I'd tried also having my trinkets tied to my openers but I wasn't able to get a working macro. Seemed like trinket use would take you out of stealth, so might as well put them on my finishers. I ended up with:
  • /showtooltip Eviscerate
    /use 13
    /use 14
    /cast Eviscerate
This bad boy first tries to pop my fist AP/15 second trinket, then my other one, then cast Eviscerate. My theory being that I almost always end up with two finishers while grinding, so this should trigger after the first one and hopefully I'll gain the full benefit of it while finishing off the mob. There's a shared 15 sec cooldown on the trinkets, so the second can't trigger within 15 sec of the first, thus if I can hit my second finisher before the 'Ferocity' buff fades, I'll not waste a cooldown on a finisher that actually takes me out of combat. Didn't get a chance to play with this one, but I know that the trinket does trigger before the finisher. It gives the unpleasant error sound a lot, but I'll see what I can do about that...

Also, having Preparation is very nice, but only if you take advantage of it. I went ahead and tied my Vanish, Evasion, and Sprint to castsequences with Preparation. Thus if I try to Vanish and Vanish is on cooldown, I'll instead use Prep, a second press getting my vanish off. It automatically resets to Vanish when it's cooldown is up. As I'm typing it occurs to me that I no longer have Imp. Sprint, so Sprint probably isn't worth wasting Prep's cooldown. I may revert to a plain Sprint.
  • #showtooltip
    /castsequence reset=210 Vanish, Preparation

Zydari and Zydaria both dinged 45 after a full clear Zul'Farrak run. The rest of the party was slightly above 50 which helped immensely on the time. I think we were finished in a touch over two hours. I'm looking forward to the 2.1 patch as the Prot Pally changes should nice. Also bought several blue tanking items for Zydari's future. Don't recall what they are specifically, that's what I get for posting away from the game. Oh, I also replaced Zydari's Green Tower with the Blackskull Shield. An amazing 600 armor increase, at the expense of about 8 STA I believe.

Laic did a Jailbreak run the other night. I'm not sure if I posted it here, but I ended up respeccing him out of Survival to try BRK's BM/MM build. It's nice, and I have noticed a DPS increase, but I really miss Wyvern Sting. That's just one of those abilities I really got used to. A buff pet is nice, but I don't know how long I'll stick with it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

67, Durn the Hungerer, Ring of Blood, and Influenza

So, as I'm sure you've noticed, I haven't posted in a while. RL has kicked my butt for about the last three weeks. My wife came down with the flu in the end of March, then we got about 24" of snow which shut everything down for a few days, then I got the flu and had to stay home sick for a week. This week's just been crazy catch up for the 8 days I ended up missing all together. Finally got to the point where I have time to post, so hear goes. (of course as I type this my wife called to let me know she's going to the doctor to see if she has pneumonia, wonderful)

So, anyway, I was able to play some WoW while I was out. The two snow days I managed to get from level 64 (IIRC) to 66. Picked up Cloak of Shadows, which is just lots of fun. For those who don't know, it's a 1 minute cooldown ability that will remove all magical debuffs (basically anything but a rend) from me and increase my magical immunities by 90% (I think) for 4 seconds. Ignoring the amazing utility from a PvP perspective (haven't PvP'd in a while), it's a great PvE ability. It's nice to be able to effectively 'cleanse' myself while grinding, otherwise I'd have a lot more downtime as I waited for things to run their course.

Last weekend, when I actually felt well enough to spend a good amount of time in game, I hit 67 and made myself a few items: Fel Leather Gloves and Primalstorm Breastplate. I could have/should have down the Breastplate at 65, but hadn't gotten around to respeccing my LW (used to be Tribal, pre-BC). Both are pretty nice, though I wish the Breastplate had sockets. I just think I like everything more with sockets :P. I also bought a Mask of Veiled Death of the AH for around 25g, pretty nice. The lack of AGI is always conscerning, but it makes up for it with crit and AP, which is all AGI gives you anyway (well, that matters, I don't count dodge and armor as important for a rogue).

Wednesday night I was able to get groups together to finish Durn the Hungerer and The Ring of Blood, as such I replaced both of my weapons. My Shadowrend Longblade and Footman's Longsword with Mag'Hari Fury Brand and Hungering Bone Cudgel. That's about +10 DPS on my mainhand and +8 on my offhand. I just have to work now at getting my fist and mace skills up. Sitting at 319/290 right now, so I've my work cut out for me :P

If you check out my Armory Profile right now, you'll see where I'm at stats wise. As I type I'm sitting at 967 AP, 21.5% crit, +12.36% Hit (with 5/5 Precision), and 6.6k HP. You'll also notice that I've adopted a bit of an odd spec. At 67 I'm 11/21/26 instead of my prior experiment with 5/11/42. That old build put well over 1100 AP with 5/5 Deadliness and 5/5 Sinister Calling. Coupled with Shadowstep made for a very fun build. However, I really felt the lack of 11 points in Assassination. Relentless Strikes is simply a must have talen, and I don't think any build without those 11 points is worth doing, which is sad really. So I wanted to grab 11 points in Assassination and could have pulled them from Combat, but I liked the solid white damage combat gives, okay, not the way I had it, but you get my drift. So while researching builds I saw several references on Elitest Jerks about an 11/21/28 build. It gives the key 11 points in Assassination, solid talents in Combat through Blade Flurry, and a lot of the utility of deep Subtlety. I lost Shadowstep (/cry), Sinister Calling, Dirty Deeds, Master of Subtlety and Premeditation. It was a difficult adjustment process, but I picked up 5/5 Precision, 5/5 DW Spec, Blade Flurry, and Relentless Strikes. So far I think the trade off is worth it.

I'll discuss a couple of oddities of my build. First, I have 2/2 Imp. SS and Hemo. Typically they are viewed as mutually exclusive talents because very few talent build that have more that 5 points in Combat have 25 points in Subtlety, so you either get one or the other. Now, pre-BC you could get very slow (2.8, 2.9) one-handed weapons, as Hemo is non-normalized, it was effectively and extra 40-50% DPS contribution from AP for 5 less energy (if you had 100 DPS from AP, you'd net 40-50 more damage from AP per attack). This led to a lot of scenarios where Hemo could offer higher damage per energy than Imp. SS, if not simply more damage. However, in BC there are no rogue weapons slower than 2.7, making it much more difficult to overcome the +98 damage a max rank SS gives you. That being said, Hemo does offer faster combo point generation, and the Hemo debuff (which should not be ignored), so it does have it's uses.

Against like level mobs I'm usually hitting one 5-CP finisher and 1 3-CP finisher (on average). On my openers I have 2-3 CP (CS with Initiative), Hemo till 4 CP, Ghostly Strike for my 5th (about this time they break the CS, so I benefit from the increased dodge) then Eviscerate when I have the energy. Now generally speaking they've lost a lot of their life and it's unlikely I'll get back up to 5-CP so I switch to SS, which nets me higher damage per hit. I haven't sat down and done the math, but I think there is room in this build for both, so I grabbed both.

I've also spent 4 points reducing all my cool-downs significantly. Vanish, Sprint, and Evasion are at 3 minutes and blind is at 90 seconds. Coupled with Preperation, I'm never unable to use abilities as needed. I need to set Vanish/Sprint/Evasion up on /castsequence macros:

  • /castsequence reset=180 Vanish, Preperation
  • /castsequence reset=180 Sprint, Preperation
  • /castsequence reset=180 Evasion, Preperation
I've also got a nice Blind macro:
  • /cast Blind [target=none]
This allows me to blind an add without changing targets. I always forget I have it, but have used it with success a few times. Having Sprint as a root break should be nice, but again, I forget that it can do that. Having played without that utility for a year now will do that.

I anticipate getting back into PvP at 70. Anything other than the most casual raiding is out of the question for me, so PvP will again occupy my time I'm sure. Though the with Blizz releasing more PvE 5-man content in 2.1 I could be busy with that. Needless to say I haven't really touched any of the end-game PvE content yet, so who knows what the future holds. If I do get back into PvP in a significant manner, I'm not sure if I'll keep my current spec. Shadowstep for non-Arena PvP (which is what I see myself doing) is great. Allows you to pick and choose your targets in a manner previously only dreamed of. However, if I'm still doing significant PvE, I think my current build offers more pure PvE DPS. Gosh, who knows, I could end up going back to daggers, though at this point I'm hoping not to...