Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cataclysm Shaman Talent builds

Check these two builds out: Resto (0/21/55) and Ele (55/21/0).

Dual-wielding caster builds.

I think I may just resuscitate my shammy.

EDIT: Hrm, not so much.  Looks like every caster weapon in the game is Main Hand, not One Hand or Off Hand.  A shame, that could have been a very impressive boon to the oft-shorted Elemental build.  Though I'll admit a Resto pimping Earthliving and Flametongue on each weapon might have been a tad powerful.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Leveling Feral

So with moving to a new server, one of the first things I did was to get started on an alt.  I mean, I'm not going to fork out the cash to server transfer everyone off Burning Legion just so I can have the benefit of having most every useful profession available to me.  What can I say, I miss my Tailor, Alchemist, Inscriptionist, and my still-in-training Jewelcrafter, so I'm going to have to replace those sooner or later.  Plus, a guy needs something to do in between raids.  So, I cashed in some emblems for a shiny new Repurposed Lava Dredger, and popped out a Druid.

Oh boy.

I'm now 33 and alternating between speed crushing Scarlet Monastery and prowling around Nessingwary's camp in Stranglethorn.  And I gotta say, it's good to be leveling a class with a decent variety of tools again.  I haven't had this much fun questing and world PVPing since I brought up my shaman last year.  I mean, the last two toons I spent any decent amount of time leveling recently were my priest and warrior, both of whom I brought up almost exclusively through the LFG tool.  Within those instances, they were like unto tiny godlings, unleashing their terrible vengeance from Gnomeregan to the Sunken Temple.  Good thing, since questing with either of those was a gruelling exercise.

Not so with the druid.  Sure, I like the occasional instance for some quick and easy blues to speed up my leveling, but really I could do just fine with only questing if I really needed.  I gotta say I'm a bit surprised to admit that, with how haphazardly the old world quests were laid out compared to the Outlands and Northrend options.  I mean seriously, spend some time in Thousand Needles, you'll hate yourself for it.  But yeah, Stranglethorn and Tanaris I can do.  And do well, for that matter.

But that said, I do still throw the dice and use that LFG tool any time I'm due a particularly useful upgrade.  And as often as not, I'm covering for a lackluster tank or healer who thinks they can queue as arms tank or retribution heals.  I mean, I'm under no delusions that I'd be able to solo feral heal, but I at least am able to fill in the gaps on huge pulls.  It's not like I'm able to AOE DPS yet anyway, popping a HOT on the tank is just about the most useful thing I can do in those situations.

And world PVP. Oh boy, world PVP. Prowl and Nature's Grasp just make it totally unfair. Ravage, shred, rake, and rip, then bounce back out of range while nature's grasp has him rooted, instacast a healing touch, and then either finish em off with some wraths while the bleeds do their work, or pop back into cat and refresh my bleeds.  That formula has worked every time so far.

And that's really what I'm looking for in a truly enjoyable class.  A solid variety of CC and utility powers to supplement the damage or healing output.  Something to be able to deal with an overpull.  Something to tilt the world PVP in my favor.  As close to fully self-sufficient as you can get, while also able to adjust to unexpected situations on the fly.  Some classes just have utility in spades; druids and shaman seem right on the sweet spot, as are frost mages and death knights, but rogues, priests, and warlocks are just awful.  Paladins, on the other hand, package up all that utility into one simple bubble that trumps all the rest of their tools.  I mean seriously, with a tool like divine shield, why even bother with hand of freedom, cleanse, or art of war-procced flash of lights.  I'm probably the only paladin on the planet who wouldn't mind seeing it go in Cataclysm, as was hinted with the class preview.

TL;DR version - feral droods r hawt.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Goodbye US-Burning Legion. Hello US-Deathwing

So I bit the bullet and grabbed myself a server transfer last week.  It was a tough call to make, I had a lot of good friends on Burning Legion, and I wasn't able to say goodbye to each of them, but in the end it was a call I needed to make if I was going to keep playing through Cataclysm.
  1. Lack of established raiding guilds which match my schedule.  When I started playing the game, I promised myself that I would be scheduling my WoWing around my RL commitments, and I'm glad to say I've held to that pretty damned well.  This was one of the reasons I tried to start my own raiding guild in 3.2; no better way to match a schedule that to set it yourself, or so I thought.  Suffice to say, I learned the hard way the flip side of that coin.
  2. Burning Legion is on the Vindication battlegroup, which includes the three Latin American servers. I know there are a few quality guilds on those servers who truly know their stuff, but as a general rule, I had to stifle a groan any time I saw a tank from one of those three servers. I don't care how good you are, playing with the 1300 latency from Brazil is going to impact your performance. Add in the language barrier, and all those random PUGs just got a lot less fun. I kept a level 77 green weapon to use exactly in those situations, because I knew I couldn't rely on the tanks or healers to be on top of things enough for me to go full-throttle.
  3. Plain old burnout.  I needed a change of scenery.  The same old people and same old guilds can get, well, old.  And with the amount of turnover guilds have there, the people who I enjoyed raiding with over the past 18 months are scattered over a dozen guilds nowadays.  And that's not even counting the others who've jumped servers before me.
  4. Latency.  The server farm hosting the Vindication battlegroup is located in Houston; Boston's data center is the closest to me.  I checked it out, I can cut my latency in half by moving to a Boston-based battlegroup.
So I did my research, and after a fairly exhaustive search, I have found myself a new home.  US-Deathwing has pretty much everything I'm looking for in a server: PVP, slightly favors horde, medium population, located in Boston.  The guild impressed the hell out of me.  It's a large guild, with amazing longevity, having been around since vanilla.  Accommodating to casual players, but gets down to business when it's raid time.  And those raid slots are competitive as hell, they'll rotate in new players when they need to, but excellence is expected in the main progression raid; they're sitting at 8/12(H).  Very reasonable (and perfect for my availability) two-day raiding schedule, plus SIX (!) ten-man teams go at various schedules during the week.  And the last big selling point to me was the minimum age requirement of 21.

I figure that with the pre-expansion lull and summer lull hitting at the same time, now's the time to make the move.  I'll be looking to earn my roster spot over the next few weeks; there should be plenty of time for me to lock it in before the expansion.  This will honestly be the first real test for me, to see if I'm up to the challenge a world-class guild can offer; I like to think I am, but this will be the time to show it.  I'll miss a few of the folks back on Burning Legion, those who are left there, but this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ruby Sanctum melee trinket.

So the loot tables for the new Ruby Sanctum encounter being released in the next patch are being leaked.  And wouldn't you know it, we melee DPS get another garbage ArPen trinket.

Well, at least this will keep the warriors away from our Whispering Fanged Skulls.

Monday, May 17, 2010

52 bosses.

Larisa posted an interesting topic this morning: a ranking of all 52 raid bosses in Wrath of the Lich King, sorted by difficulty.  Well it seemed like a fun exercise, so I gave it a go.  Here's my completely subjective rankings.  Note that only Normal modes were compared, as I've only had a spattering of experience doing hard mode content.

52. Flame Leviathan, Ulduar - This fight is so simple, it can be two-manned.  After the hell of other vehicle fights earlier in the expansion, this one was so undertuned as to make it downright laughable.

51. Loatheb, Naxxramas - Nothing will incite the DPS to interrupt their rotations more than the promise of an instantaneous DPS jump.  No need to collect a handful of these things before any benefit is obtained, instant 50% crit AND elimination of threat generation, right then and there.  The healing prohibition might have been an issue if he did enough damage to come anywhere close to threatening tank survivability, but it didn't.

50. Archavon the Stone Watcher, Vault of Archavon - Don't stand in clouds, and taunt off when the tank gets picked up.  Pretty simple.

49. Sartharion, Obsidian Sanctum - Normal mode was outright laughable.  Dodge the fire walls, and blast away for a few minutes.  *Yawn*.

48. Heigan the Unclean, Naxxramas - Individually, mastering the dance and staying alive may have been a fairly difficult task, especially for folks with higher latency.  However, thanks to being one of the few encounters in Wrath without an enrage timer, not everyone needed to stay alive.  In fact, our first kill was a 25-minute endurance test with 6 people left standing at the end.  And with how pitifully weak he hit, even if a tank went down in the dance, anyone wearing plate could effectively tank him.  Keep a totem down to take care of diseases, and forget about it.

47. Grand Widow Faerlina, Naxxramas - Speaking of keeping a totem down.  This may have been somewhat difficult with a tank in blue gear; Faerlina did hit fairly hard during her enrages.  But considering you had two extra tanks twiddling their thumbs after the adds were burnt down, losing a tank was certainly not a wipe.

46. Gunship Battle, Icecrown Citadel - Ah, the lootship.  I swear, the quirkier the mechanics of the fight, the easier they tune it.  Malygos excluded of course.

45. Maexxna, Naxxramas - The web wrap during enrage was a nail-biter, but in the days before dualspec, you always had an extra tank or two in reserve.  As long as you weren't going for Immortal, one tank death here was hardly a worry.  And even if you were, it was easy to pop an appropriate CD right before the wrap.

44. Gothik the Harvester, Naxxramas - Assuming your raid leader balanced the sides well enough, this should be a three-minute snoozefest.  And even if an add eats the face off an overzealous DPS towards the end of the intro phase, it's not going to wipe you.
43. Lord Jaraxxus, Trial of the Crusader - There's a lot of stuff flying around here, for sure, but Jaraxxus's health pool is laughably small, making this fight laughably quick.  In your typical PUG, things may barely be starting to get out of control about two minutes into the fight, but by then the boss is down to 10%.  Double the Eredar Lord's health, let us deal with the chaos a little bit longer, then this would be a challenge.  But really, in those first few days of ToC, any group that could down the Beasts could down Jaraxxus.
42. Valrithia Dreamwalker, Icecrown Citadel - Okay, maybe I'm biased on this, since every time I've ever run the fight, we've had a pro Holy pally on staff... me.  But come on.  Dreamswimming takes no time to master (especially if you've been melee DPS on Malygos), and as long as the kill order is understood outside, there's no reason in the world this fight should keep you from Sindragosa.

41. Patchwerk, Naxxramas - Mechanics-wise, you can't get much easier.  I mean, he was basically a target dummy with dual-wielded axes.  But Patch served very well as Naxxramas's gear check, on all fronts.  If the tanks couldn't take the hits, the heals couldn't handle the hits, or the DPS couldn't deliver the hits, it was going to be a wipe.  This fight held us up for a week or two back in the day.

40. Toravon the Ice Watcher, Vault of Archavon - The taunt-off mechanic is incredibly forgiving, the healing requirements are well below the rest of the tier, and the enrage timer is nowhere close to being an issue.  As long as you have a paladin or shaman for frost resistance, and the ranged can do a simple target switch, this can be pugged by literally anyone.

39. Anub'Rekhan, Naxxramas - In the days before a 60-yard Beacon of Light, having your tank healer silenced during Locust Swarm was a very real possibility.  If the tank fell during the swarm, Anub Jr. had an annoying tendancy to wander into the middle of the room just long enough to silence the rest of the healers, and eat a few ranged before an offtank could pick him up.  From there, recovery was a questionable proposition.

38. Noth the Plaguebringer, Naxxramas - Curses.  They're not like diseases or poisons, which can be just totemed off without a thought.  Or magic, which can get popped off in giant AOE batches.  Nope, you're looking at one-at-a-time single targetting debuff removal, one which the two most popular healing classes (at least by my experience) can't take off.  And if you show me a mage who remembers he even has the spell, much less uses an addon that aids its speedy use, and I'll show you a mage with a healer main.

37. Razorscale, Ulduar - Lots of fire, multiple phases, scores of adds, taunt-offs, and a quartet of malfunctioning ballistae.  And this is the second easiest fight in Ulduar?  It was far too easy to lose DPS or healers to marauding adds before everyone overgeared the content.  This fight effectively halted progress for thousands of raiding guilds when Ulduar first dropped.

36. Northrend Beasts, Trial of the Crusader - Gormok the Impaler re-introduced the threat of insta-gib tank death to raiding, the likes of which we hadn't seen since the days of Crushing Blows.  And between fires, interrupts, paralysis, and a giant charging yeti of death, there was plenty of other fun times going on outside of Gormak's spear range.

35. Lord Marrowgar, Icecrown Citadel - The gatekeeper of Icecrown.  To your typical current-tier raider, the fight is an absolute cakewalk, but its difficulty is fairly in line against the other raids' gatekeepers, XT-002 and Northrend Beasts.  We're just more used to the way Wrath's raids work now.

34. XT-002 the Deconstructor, Ulduar - If there was a healer hell last April, this was it.  When you consider that the most intense normal-mode healing most healers had faced to this point was Kel'Thuzad's ice blocks, getting slammed with that level of damage raid-wide shocked the hell out of anyone spending the fight staring at raid frames.  This fight marked where all the BC healers re-learned their craft for Wrath; mana efficiency be damned, throughput became king this day.

33. Koralon the Flame Watcher, Vault of Archavon - The fight was pretty standard fare for Wrath.  Burst tank damage, then burst raid damage, all with random fires on the ground.  I think we've all gotten quickly used to (and sick of) this sort of encounter.

32. Assembly of Iron, Ulduar - I have to say, this is my favorite fight in all of Wrath.  It's generously tuned compared to the rest of Ulduar, but it's easy to let it run out of control.  Full throttle DPS takes a back seat to interrupts, spellstealing, and cleansing.  Incoming damage is high, with an exciting mix of the predictable and the unexpected.  And with how long the fight is, this is one of very few fights where healer mana can actually become an issue.  I think this fight hits that sweet spot of excitement and chaos where the later multi-boss fights (Twin Valkyr, Blood Princes, Faction Champs) miss in one direction or the other.

31. Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Citadel - Barring the end bosses of Yogg-Saron and the Lich King, Deathwhisper's adds are arguably the toughest in Wrath.  The fight is more or less the same as Razorscale, just make the adds tougher (and sometimes raise from the dead), and add in mind controls.  And much like Razorscale, once the adds are gone, the fight is a cakewalk.

30. Onyxia, Onyxia's Lair - Speaking of add fights.  Honestly, the only reason this fight is even as high as it is is because it's usually being attempted by random groups of uncoordinated PUGs.  I don't know about you guys, but I stopped doing it the second I got my bag and my head.

29. Thorim, Ulduar - I didn't know of any group that could get Kologarn, Auriaya, and Hodir down that couldn't get Thorim down.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the fight, but he was undertuned.

28. Grobbulus, Naxxramas - The fight's biggest challenge, honestly, was keeping people connected.  This fight had more disconnects for us than any other in Naxxramas, so nearly every time we ended up with a plague cloud dropped somewhere horrible.  Before we started drastically outgearing the place, this was a major stumbling block.

27. Gluth, Naxxramas - Four words: "We lost a kiter."

26. Kologarn, Ulduar - I honestly don't know why we always had such problems with him, but we always ended up losing people to eye beams.  And that lead to not enough damage on gripped people, and that lead to more deaths, and eventually a slow and agonizing wipe.

25. General Vezax, Ulduar - I don't know what to say, we never had any issues with this fight, ever.  It was several orders of magnitude easier than Mimiron or Freya; hell, he was even easier than his trash.

24. Deathbringer Saurfang, Icecrown Citadel - Before Hellscream started helping, this was quite a challenge for our melee-stacked team.  It was no sure bet that we could down those blood beasts before they started devouring our ranged.  But now, with the Warsong buff, we just send our melee to town on the things.

23. Ignus the Furnace Master, Ulduar - Shattering golems was a logistical nightmare.  So unsurprisingly, we opted for the burn method on this boss as soon as we had the output to support it.

22. Festgut, Icecrown Citadel - Sure, he's a loot pinata now, but before the Warsong, hitting that enrage timer was quite a feat.

21. Auriaya, Ulduar - Still the hardest pull to execute in the expansion.  As long as the pull is managed effectively, the fight is a simple one, so it's a testament to its difficulty that the pull alone puts the fight this far down on the list.

20. Emalon the Storm Watcher, Vault of Archavon - People forget how tough it was when this boss first went live.  I think I heard, "Vault is no longer puggable" at least a dozen times that week.

19. Twin Valkyr, Trial of the Crusader - Every player lost early was one less player piling on the damage on those shields.  With the incredible amount of raid damage going out, healers had to be on full-throttle from the pull to the kill.  Remember what I said earlier about mana efficiency versus throughput?  Yeah, this is the illogical extreme.

18. Hodir, Ulduar - I wanted to kill this son of a bitch so bad for stealing a month of my life away with his wretched dailies.  But yeah, so many ways to die, and a very tight (for the tier) enrage timer.

17. Rotface, Icecrown Citadel - I have yet to be part of a group to kill him with more than 10 people standing at the kill.  This is the level of difficulty Jaraxxus would have if he had a semi-decent health pool.  The chaos of the encounter picks off one person at time, which just accelerates the chaos.  It's a thing of beauty.
16. Sapphiron, Naxxramas - Again, this was healing while people were still concerned about efficiency over throughput.  And the bug where iceblocks on a slope didn't block LOS properly caused more deaths than I care to remember.

15. Thaddius, Naxxramas - "lol, MT missd the jump"

14. Instructor Razuvius, Naxxramas - I am not a priest.  I don't know how the mind control spell differs from the crystals you use in 10-man.  Regardless, it's apparently very difficult to control them without the spell dropping prematurely.

13. Faction Champions, Trial of the Crusader - Honestly, this could go anywhere from #10 to #30 based on what composition of opponents you happened to pull.  God help us if we faced the Pally/Shaman/Tree healer combo, with mostly melee DPS.

12. Blood Queen Lana'Thel, Icecrown Citadel - Maybe it's just that I haven't had enough work on this in 25-man, but god damn, it is tough avoiding MCs in this fight.

11. Blood Prince Council, Icecrown Citadel - I've had very similar experiences with this fight as I've had with Rotface.  We get the kill, but only after half the raid is already down.

10. Four Horsemen, Naxxramas - Of all of Naxxramas's fights, this is the one I would have wanted to see the most in the old 40-man.

9. Anub'Arak, Trial of the Crusader - I might be over-ranking this fight, I may just have my perceptions shattered by the many TOGC attempts when it was current, and the failpug trinket runs when it wasn't.

8. Freya, Ulduar - I was part of the realm first Deforestation achievement.  Total accident.  Came from utterly failing on the adds.

7. Kel'Thuzad, Naxxramas - Mind control on the offtank.  Melee standing too close to the main tank.  Mana explosion OOMing a healer.  Healers eating iceblock.  So many Immortal attempts down the drain.

6. Professor Putricide, Icecrown Citadel - Good news everyone!

5. Sindragosa, Icecrown Citadel - A wonderful update on the old Sapphiron fight.  Like I said, I love any fight when you're supposed to not unload 100% DPS full throttle.  I have a feeling when the Warsong goes up to 20%, this fight will be in the same place for us as Rotface and Blood Princes are now.

4. Mimiron, Ulduar - The gold standard for survival fights.  Another wonderful encounter that is yet another reason why Ulduar is my favorite raid, period.  Plus... rocket train!

3. Malygos, the Eye of Eternity - Fuck drakes.  I bet that the ease of Gunship and Flame Leviathan are directly the result of feedback Blizz received from Maly.

2. Yogg-Saron, Ulduar - I've killed him exactly once, making him my least frequent boss kill (tied with Sindragosa).  But damn it, I got him.  And damn it, he's tough.

1. The Lich King, Icecrown Citadel - Gods!  Defiles, Infests!  Adds!  So many adds!  Arthas is certainly a tier above the rest of Icecrown Citadel, and I shudder to imagine him on Heroic.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fail PUG is Fail

Complete AN run.  Love my daily randoms!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

LK Still Up

Not much to say here.  Sindragosa is still dead, Arthas is still alive (sort of).  Last night's raid didn't happen.  Looks like the pre-expansion blahs have already started around these parts.

We've extended the lockout again, on my shaman alt so it's not a huge loss if we can't get a solid 10 together.