Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The relative craziness of the holidays (no pun intended) comes to an end tonight at midnight, with the closing of another calendar year. Lack of posting activity has been due to a flurry of usual year-end activity, and I look forward to getting some more in-game time and blogging time during the next few weeks. (WTB Naxx10)

May 2009 bring you phat loots and downed bosses, and a buff to Elemental Shaman DPS. ;)

Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Walk softly and...

...carry a big epic mace!

While I'm still not 100% sold on staying Elemental, the Titansteel Guardian still makes a decent mainhand for an eventual alternate Resto spec, so I scrounged up the mats and had a guildie craft it. Woot! Spellpower has gone up into the 1500 range, which is nice - feels closer to where I should be, but I really need to work on that hit cap.

A Bit About Hit
Looks like Draenei Elemental Shaman need 342 hit rating to not "miss" a level 83 boss. We do have a few Shadow Priests in the guild, so with their lovely Misery talent I can knock almost 80 rating off that number, down to 265 or so. Currently I'm sitting at a miserable 150-ish.

In Other News
Did my first two heroics yesterday: Utgarde Keep and Violet Hold Pretty fun stuff - came away with a few blue upgrades, even though they were cloth and leather. Also ran a bunch of non-roic regular 80 instances and was able to pull ~1300 dps, so the numbers are improving somewhat. Still not fantastic, but keeping in mind that I can instantly flip over to offhealing when things go sideways, I'm liking the flexibility.

Oh, and did I mention the awesomeness of Hex yet?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reputation Rewards: Shaman

With 80 right around the corner, I've turned some of my attention to getting ready for Naxx and endgame in general. As many of us know, hitting the level cap is far from the "end" of the game - a newborn 80 is a very different character than one who's well into raiding.

One of the first steps to preparing for Naxx is to make sure you're wearing a healthy amount of high quality "blue" gear. Some of this Item Level 187+ gear can be purchased from various Nothrend faction quartermasters after certain reputation levels have been earned.

Matthew Rossi over at WowInsider wrote a nice breakdown of rep gear for Shaman, but it's in paragraph form and was hard for me to scan, so here's the list in tabular form, complete with Wowhead rollovers:

Northrend Reputation Rewards: Shaman

Regardless of whether or not I decide to stay Elemental or go back to Enhancement, the two reps I'm already interested in are:
  • Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enchants
  • Wrymrest Accord for the dragon mount

From there, I have some decisions to make, spec-wise. Hopefully 3.04 will be released soon and Elemental will get their much needed buffs, but from what I've been reading it's not looking good. :( Some math is showing equally-geared Elemental Shamans doing 2/3's the DPS of a Mage or Hunter. That's 66%. Ouch. Give me 80% or 90% and I'll close the gap by working extra hard at gearing up, but c'mon Blizzard... 66%?


Monday, December 8, 2008

Elemental Macros In Depth

As mentioned in my prior post, my main pew-pew buttons are macros which are bound to the 2-3-4 keys, making DPS a muscle memory and cooldown-watching exercise rather than a frantic click-fest.

Bumwaller and D-Form posted some comments/questions after the last post, so I'll attempt to answer here by posting the actual macros and breaking them down line-by-line.

Lightning Bolt w/Trinket Pops
#showtooltip Lightning Bolt
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/use 13
/use 14
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast Lightning Bolt

The first line (showtooltip) forces the macro to display the spell/ability/item you specify - making it "look right" on your toolbar. Otherwise it just picks the first item in the macro (slot 13 in this case, your first trinket slot). Sound_EnableSFX 0 turns off your sound in anticipation of "that item is not ready yet" audio, which gets annoying after a while.

Use 13 and 14 are your two trinket slots, and if the first one is on cooldown it'll attempt to use the next slot. UIErrorsFrame:Clear() will remove the potential "item is not ready yet" from the display. So after re-enabling sound effects with Sound_EnableSFX 1, we can finally actually cast the spell: Lightning Bolt.

Since the only thing that triggers the global cooldown is the spell itself, the macro becomes "spammable," meaning you can press it over and over again (after waiting on the cast time of LB, of course).

Flame Shock + Lava Bursts
/castsequence reset=14/target Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Lava Burst

In this macro, I'm not using showtooltip specifically because I want to watch Lava Burst's cooldown in my action bar. Instead, I use a castsequence to cast Flame Shock, then Lava Burst, then I'll do some other stuff until the second Lava Burst becomes available. (I use this glyph to extend Flame Shock's duration so it covers two Lava Burst cooldowns.)

The reset number tells the macro to reset the sequence after that amount of idle time has elapsed. (The /target right after it also resets the macro when I switch targets.) Now back to the timer: every time you press the macro, the timer starts over. The reason I'm using 14:

Lets look at the timeline of this macro (assuming zero latency and no haste):

at 0 seconds: Flame Shock instant-cast (18 sec duration w/glyph)
at 1.5 seconds: first Lava Burst
at 9.5 second: Lava Burst

After the 2nd LvB, a 3rd would be available at 17.5, but that's cutting it too close to the end of FS's 18 second duration, which you always want up on the target. Working one global cooldown backwards from 17.5, we're at 15 seconds which is the ideal time to re-apply FS. My macro is listed at 14 because I want to give myself some wiggle room - and if I cast it a smidge too early it's not a big deal since the guaranteed LvB is more important than a tick or two of FS.

You may be asking yourself: "but if 14 is idle-time-since-last-keypress, wouldn't the macro wait too long to reset to Flame Shock after the 2nd LvB?" Luckily, the macro seems to respect the "castsequence" part and will reset back to FS after the last LvB. :)

I chose not to use a trinket here since I generally open with a Lightning Bolt (either for a long-range solo pull or to let the tank get a bit of aggro before unloading). Also didn't use Elemental Mastery since having Flame Shock on the target already causes Lava Burst to crit - and I'd rather save Mastery for the relatively expensive Chain Lightning.

Chain Lightning + Lightning Bolts
#showtooltip Chain Lightning
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Elemental Mastery
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/castsequence reset=6 Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt

In this macro, I'm doing some of the futzing with the sound effects and UI errors around the casting of Elemental Mastery, which takes the mana sting out of Chain Lightning. The two Lightning Bolts after it (when added to the CL) comes to a total casting time of 5.5 seconds for the whole sequence. The reset of 6 matches the cooldown of CL, so if I only use this macro once or twice on a pull, CL will be available again after the cooldown.

I'm not using reset=target here since the reset has everything to do with CL's cooldown, as opposed to the FS+LvBs macro where I always want to apply FS first on new targets.

Macros Aren't Everything
Due to the dynamic nature of many fights/encounters, sequences can easily get out-of-sync, so be prepared to fire off these abilities manually by using other available action bar slots!

Haste Changes Everything
There's a certain amount of haste that will undoubtedly have an effect on Elemental rotations, but until I actually get a bunch of haste gear I'm not really sure how things will get affected. My priorities as I head to level 80 raiding are some balance of spell damage, crit and hit. For the moment, haste just helps me deal with a small amount of latency/server lag.

What's with the Propeller Hat?
I have no idea. I just think they're funny.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Elemental FTW

Exelus hit 77 tonight, and finally got his wings back!

Elemental has continued to be a lot of fun, especially after a respec (thanks Aaron J) and a slight modification to my soloing DPS rotation. Here are my current key bindings:

2) Lightning Bolt
3) Flame Shock > Lava Burst > Lava Burst
4) Chain Lightning > Lightning Bolt > Lightning Bolt > Lightning Bolt

All are macros which include things like Elemental Mastery and automatic trinket pops. Keys 3 & 4 have resets that match the respective cooldowns of Lava Burst and Chain Lightning. Taking down a mob looks like:

2, 2 - two sequential Lightning Bolts (flight time ftw)
3, 3 - Flame Shock then a Lava Burst crit
4, 4 - Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt
5 - Earth Shock finisher (if needed)

The mob is usually dead by the fourth or fifth key press. :) And of course, Thunderstorm is available if I need to push back multiple mobs and/or get a spell off.

Sidenote: anyone else notice that quest reward armor matches much better than the clown gear we got in TBC? Aesthetics FTW.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gone (Ele)Mental

I may have gone insane. Exelus went Elemental last night. This (somewhat) calculated move happened for a few reasons:
  • Level 75 brings Lava Burst, unfortunately not part of the Enhancement rotation
  • Incoming Elemental buffs are making the spec more and more attractive
  • My old level 70 Enhancement epics are being slowly replaced by quest gear anyway
  • An eventual Elemental/Resto dual spec is likely to have more synergy than Enhancement/Resto, both in playstyle and gear
  • If Exelus has ranged DPS and heals covered by dual-spec'ing, then my DK can cover melee DPS and tanking - all bases covered by two toons!
So after a quick visit to the trainer in Exodar, I found myself staring at the talent screen, totally clueless. :)

Talent Selection
Here was my initial talent selection at 75, which is very likely to change. Sure insta-cast Ghost Wolf is nice, but maybe not at the expense of other pew-pew talents in Elemental. Also I didn't notice too much in the way of mana issues, so I will likely let go of Shamanistic Focus - and I'm not sure if Elemental Weapons is worth it at this point. TBD. I do like Thundering Strikes still though, since Elemental seems to be such a crit-heavy build.

Probably tonight I will re-do it all so I can get Thunderstorm - seems like a very nice talent for soloing multi-mob encounters (and PvP?) after the loss of my favorite two emergency buttons.

DPS Rotation
After some trolling at Elitist Jerks it seems that the Elemental rotation is more of a priority system:
  1. Keep Flame Shock ticking (the glyph is mandatory for Elemental)
  2. Lava Burst when it's up
  3. Chain Lightning when it's up
  4. Lightning Bolt spam to fill time
Here's how I distilled that down to two macros, bound to my "2" and "3" keys:

2) /castsequence reset=6 Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Lava Burst
3) /castsequence Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt

These spells are all bound to other keys as well, but these macros let me mostly alternate between just two keys which reset themselves upon Flame Shock and Chain Lightning cooldowns.

When soloing, I tend to open combat with a regular LB since it has "flight time," then immediately hit 2 twice, then 3 a few times and close with an Earth Shock kill shot ("4" key). In groups, it's similar (usually without Earth Shock), but I keep more of an eye on cooldowns and the overall situation (offhealing, interrupts, etc).

General Impressions
After killing a few hapless mobs in Dragonblight to get my rotation down, I went off to UK and then OK with some guildies and had a great time. It was kinda weird to stand in the back, but there are some advantages - better view of the overall battle, etc.

My gear is pretty lame at the moment, mustering just over 900 spell damage, but I still managed to stay roughly on-par with other DPS while spot-offhealing. Mana didn't seem to be too much of an issue, which was a nice suprise.

I will likely contine this experiment for a while... the 4k Lava Burst crits are sweet, and it's fun to try something new. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progress Report

  • Exelus to 75: check.
  • Culling of Stratholme: check (kinda, barely hit anything).
  • Collecting caster gear for Resto dual-spec: check.
  • Haelus to 72: check.
  • Broke after the Flying Carpet: check.
  • Codus to 64: check.
  • Mining to 300+ on the DK: check.
  • Doing my part to "stimulate the economy" by ordering an early holiday present: check.
  • Another lame excuse for a post: checkity-check.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shamantic Briefs

  • Ambassador Exelus to 72: check.
  • Haelus to 71: check.
  • Utgarde Keep: check x6.
  • Azjol Nerub: check.
  • Ahn Kahet: check.
  • The Nexus: check.
  • Healer shortage still in effect: check.
  • Too busy in-RL and in-game to write a real post: check.
  • Too many checks: check.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend of the Lich King

With a cleared schedule, I took a wowcation and played an unhealthy amount a great deal of WoW over the weekend. :) A brief breakdown and first impressions:

Death Knight
Wanting to get the blue rested XP ticking right away, the first thing I did was roll a Death Knight. Of course everyone else had the same idea, but thanks to the new "phased" instance-like starting zone, the mob/quest ganking was kept to a minimum. I managed to plow through all the starting quests until arriving in Stormwind at level 58 (ready for Outland!).

Later in the weekend, I took him into Hellfire and started on quests, and even managed a four-DK run of Ramparts with some guildies. I think I left him around level 60. So far he feels rather overpowered for the content, but I expect that to even-out closer to 80. The jury is still out on whether or not he will become my tank, however. He's currently Unholy spec but that may change (Blood/Frost maybe?) - I don't really like the Ghoul pet. Kinda creepy.

Starting Zones
Figuring I should see what this "Northrend" business was all about, I took Exelus north into the Borean Tundra and encountered all sorts of lag, mob/quest ganking, and a fairly meh first impression of the zone. It wasn't until I took Haelus into Howling Fjord that I had that feeling of, "oooh aahh."

The quest quality seems fairly similar between the two, but the atmosphere is distinctly different. The Fjord is like landing in Scandinavia, whereas the Tundra is more reminiscent of... Siberia?

Ding 71 (twice!)
I got Exelus to 71.5 via questing and a single run though Utgarde Keep, but have already run UK with Haelus five times or so (LF1M healz pls!) and have reached one bubble into 71. So the plan of leveling one via questing and another via instancing seems to be working out fairly well. However, with the promise of dual-spec'ing on the horizon, I'm a bit torn: Ex would be able to DPS or heal as needed... maybe I should just work on him exclusively for the time being?

Ciribrus the druid is, for the moment, semi-retired in Shattrath. He was closest to 70 when the guild needed another healer so it was natural for him to go Resto, but am not sure what role he will fill (if any?) going forward. Maybe tank if the DK doesn't feel right?

Utgarde Keep
The "first" instance in Lich King is awesome, and tons of fun. It seems to be tuned just right: a healthy challenge for new-ish 70s yet still not a complete cakewalk for Kara-geared 70s. The boss encounters are reminiscint of Kara too: the first boss is a caster that likes to freeze people (a la Illhoof's Demon Chains) and the second is a Romeo/Juliet-like encounter where both need to be burned down at the same time. The final boss is a tank/spank with the exception of some nasty tricks: resurrects with a big AoE, a melee smash effect (tank and melee should run 10 yards), and a spell school lockout if you happen to be casting during his roar (instants seem to be fine though?). All in all really fun, look forward to coming back in heroic mode!

Goals for the coming days: get Exelus to 73 or so, take peek into Nexus... sell over-inflated Frostweave and Cobalt ore for profit!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On Achievements

As part of the upcoming Wrath expansion, Blizzard has added an Achievement system to WoW: a method to track one's accomplishments in-game. The way it works is fairly simple and requires no additional interaction from the user: complete an achievement and you get a "ding" of sorts, an announcement in guild chat and a few points earned.

When I first heard about this system I was resoundingly meh'ed. Just another useless carrot-dangling mechanic that fuels the OCD in all of us (as if we don't have enough of that in us as MMOers!). Very few of the achievements actually do anything for us in-game... a few titles here and there, an epic mount after collecting some insane number of mounts, etc. Again, meh. There are goals within the game that I mentally keep track of, but you won't see my dwarf running off to Teldrassil just for some exploration achievement.

However, what I didn't anticipate was the team-building and community aspect, which so far has been an overwhelmingly positive thing. The guild chat announcements encourage conversation ("grats!") and cooperation ("LFM SFK!"), even from our quietest members. Another benefit of the system is that it helps keep track of certain goals you may already have, like playing through every instance in the game.

So in the end, I have to give kudos to Blizz for adding a mechanic that you can either take or leave, with no real impact on your ability to play the game well (e.g.: kill mobs faster). It's an added grind only if you want it to be, but doesn't have to be if you could care less...

Like with Fishing.

Or Cooking.



Monday, October 27, 2008


First impressions are everything, and there's certainly was a lot of wow factor (no pun intended) pulling this out of the box. It's pretty awesome... a bit larger than I expected (a good thing), and the colors are just right: not too dark, not to cartoon-y or bright. The detail is rather impressive, from the physical features (fingers, face, etc.) down to the printed-on detail of the armor and weapons.

These photos do not do the FigurePrint justice, as the flash reflects off the powder material these things are printed from, making it look dusty or sparkly. Under normal natural light, it looks great, and the "dust" is not visible.

Minor nits: the name plate and the base-surrounding Warcraft label do not exactly line up, and there's a red splotch on the back of one of Ex's blue shoulder pads - but I don't plan to spend a lot of time looking at the back of this model anyway.

Would I recommend getting this to a friend or guildie? The answer is: depends. A lot of us spend a fair amount of time playing this game, so it's great to have a physical representation of your character, but the price feels a bit high. Hopefully they'll lower the price soon?

I'm already contemplating which toon to get made next, likely at the end of Lich King. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Haelus 3.0

Many moons ago (1.5 years), on a far-away land (PvP server), Haelus was born to the world (of Warcraft) as Exemel (yes, pronounced XML). This is what I will refer to as Haelus 1.0, who was conceived to be a healer in a triumvirate (avoiding the word: threesome) of intrepid adventurers (RL buddies). Over time, the fellowship scattered and Hael pondered his next move (WTB server transfer?) and settled into a period of deep meditation (several months of rested XP).

During this time of deep self-reflection (working on a Shaman main), Haelus' thoughts slowly drifted towards the darker side (emo dwarf), drawn by promises of unlimited power (face melting!). So when he finally arose from his sabbitcal (server transfer), he fully embraced the Shadow (respec), found a new band of adventurers (Chivalry) and temporarily took on the name Ordus (paid name change). This was to be the era of Haelus 2.0, a period filled with death and destruction (moar dots) as he rampaged across Azeroth, sealing the fate of those (mobs) who would seek to impede his progress and exploration (questing).

One day (last week-ish?), Haelus (2nd paid name change) stumbled upon the Dark Portal and discovered a new world of wonder beyond (Outland). As he began to explore this new land (ugh, Hellfire gives me vertigo), a change began to take hold in Haelus, as he realized that the powers of Light had grown within him (patch 3.02) and that his gifts (spells and talents) could be used to not only smite (Holy Fire and uh... Smite) down his opponents in battle, but also to (gasp) heal! In fact, these abilities were so sought after that those all across the land (trade chat) began to send word (/whisper) that his powers of salvation ("u healz rite?") and prayer ("buff fort!") were desprately needed ("plz!").

So began the era of Haelus 3.0 (Disc/Holy respec), where even his physical appearance began to morph as he gravitated towards the Light (Shave and a Haircut). To his suprise, he found that even in personal combat, mixing the powers of Light and Shadow (DPS rotation: Holy Fire, Devouring Plague, SW:P, Smite x2, wand) was highly effective (lol pwn u) and his enemies (mobs) fell rapidly, maybe more rapidly than before (woot insta-Smites) with great efficiency (can't let go of Spirit Tap). And when confronted with large groups of enemies, he could blast the powers of Light to simultaneously heal friends and harm foe (Holy Nova FTW).

His story continues to be written, as rumors of trouble in northern Azeroth (zomg expansion) begin to fill the minds of adventurers (must hit 70 before Nov 13th!).

To be continued...

Friday, October 17, 2008

3.02 Level 70 Enhancement DPS Rotation

The introduction of new abilities (and tweaks to existing ones) has undeniably changed what our maximum DPS rotation is going to look like. First, a quick overview of how my keybinding is/was set up, as it has some bearing on the hot DPS action:

Your default action bar (bottom left) is already set up as 1-through-equals sign. To keep things within reach, I've set the bar above it to use shift-number key.

Pre-3.02 Keybinding and Rotation
In general, I set up the keys to follow the standard DPS rotation:
  1. auto attack (sometimes you want to start off mellow)
  2. storm strike macro of doom (pops a trinket, /startattack, /cast storm strike)
  3. flame shock macro (/startattack then /cast)
  4. earth shock macro (also /startattack then /cast)
  5. frost shock (mostly for pvp and threat gen)
DPS was as easy as 2, 3, 4, repeat. The /startattack business ensured that if you started melee with a shock (during grinding for example), you'd also start melee'ing.

Post-3.02 Keybinding and Rotation
In a nutshell: we want to SS whenever its up, Earth Shock whenever its up, Lava Lash whenever it's up, and insta-Lightning Bolt (or Chain Lightning or Heal) whenever 5x Maelstrom Weapon is up. (Note that Flame Shock has fallen out of temporary favor since our enhanced spell damage improves ES more, but that may change when Lava Burst is introduced at 75.) The new keybindings:
  1. auto attack
  2. updated storm strike macro of doom (see below)
  3. lightning bolt (shift-3 as Chain Lightning)
So now we're proposing to let our SS macro do more work for us, and manually weave-in Lightning Bolts/Chain Lightning (or a heal) whenever 5x Maelstrom Weapon is up. The improved storm strike macro of doom:
  • pops a trinket
  • /startattack
  • /castsequence reset=8 Stormstrike, Earth Shock, Lava Lash, Earth Shock
And therefore DPS becomes: mash the 2 key until 5x MW, then hit 3 (or some other instant). Situationally, flame/wind/frost shocks are still very useful, so they're close at-hand at 4, shift-4 and 5 respectively.

Honorable mention for the tilde key (`) as it's now bound to /petattack for our newfound Feral Spirit friends. :)

3.0 Pocket Guide
Castsequence Macro

Thursday, October 16, 2008

3.02 First Impressions: Druid & Priest

The last post focused on my main, an Enhancement Shaman. This time, some initial impressions of Patch 3.02 from my alts points of view: a Resto Druid and Shadow Priest.

Resto Druid
After a bit of agony that Insect Swarm is no longer reachable for Trees at level 70, I still took 11 points in Balance to get Nature's Splendor. As the tool tip states, it increases the duration of some over-time spells, most notably Lifebloom. (More on this later.) The rest went into Restoration, skipping the Healing Touch talents (which I may go back for later, since HT is now castable in Tree and I got a handy glyph that converts it to a nice Flash Heal-type spell).

I had a chance to test out the new build during an Onyxia run last night, which we easily 7-manned for fun and profit (and achievement). Our Paladin tank is rather uber, so he wasn't taking a ton of damage anyway, but I was able to keep him at full health rolling Lifebloom and Rejuvination exclusively.

Now getting back to Nature's Splendor: the 2 second increase combined with a few points in Gift of the Earthmother made it noticeably easier to roll HoTs on the tank and spot-heal the raid. (Before, it always seemed like I was under-the-gun, barely able to squeeze raid heals just before LB was about to bloom.) Of course, the real test will come later if I get to run Kara or ZA with this build, so TBD.

On the DPS front (sum treez are 4 fite?), my former DPS gear set is now looking like vendor fodder. Unbuffed, I'm just below 1k spell power, not too shabby. I'll have to run a daily or two on the isle to see what kind of numbers come back, but I have a feeling Resto DPS is not as awful as it used to be.

So the big news (besides finally getting a real rez zomg!), is the Night Elf racial Shadowmeld - which acts as a temporary aggro dump as long as you don't move and wait long enough for someone else (hopefully the tank) to grab your newfound friend's attention. Let me repeat teh awesomeness of this: NE Resto Druids now get a free racial Fade! Woot! No more Barkskin + pray or relying on a weaksauce trinket + "/y halpmeh!" macro.

I know some have complained about the normalization of tanking and healing specs, but I say phooey. Normalization just means more inclusion when determining party/raid line-ups. We should all be seeing more instances while playing the class/specs that we like, and this is absolutely a good thing. GG Blizz.

Shadow Priest
While the overall fate of my Spriest is still in question, as I admitted in guild chat last night, I may be only leveling him for the flying carpet. Heh. (Dinged 325 tailoring last night, and he's only 57.) Anyway, first impressions:

Mana efficiency is up, which is great. I used to end up with half mana after a mob fight (even though it recovered quickly with Spirit Tap) - and now, if I'm around 75% mana after a single mob pull. Not bad. This is probably partially due to the fact that...

Mind Flay has a new graphic! wait, I meant to say: Mind Flay can now crit!

The previous yawn that was Mind Flay spam is now more like playing slots: "c'mon crit baby, crit!" Haelus is my third ranking toon, so I don't spend a lot of time trolling Elitist Jerk's Shadow Priest forums, but it'll be interesting to see if crit becomes more of a thing for us to aspire to. Methinks yes.

Also Mind Flay now refreshing Shadow Word: Pain is awesome. I only have 2/3 talent points in Pain and Suffering so far, but 66% high enough to keep the DoT ticking, as it "rolls" on each Mind Flay tick.

I have yet to try out any Holy stuff... maybe in a few levels when he reaches Outland. :) I wonder if Holy DPS has been improved? Hmm...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3.02 First Impressions: Shaman

Yesterday was full of excitement, and not just on the WoW front: Apple announced the latest round of upgrades to their Macbook and Macbook Pro lines, with great news for gamers. The new integrated graphics chip (even on the cheaper models) are reportedly 5x faster than last gen's, which should mean dramatically better WoW performance on these affordable machines. And the Pro model actually has both the integrated graphics chip (for better battery life) and a full-fledged GPU for powerhouse graphics performance. Hott!

Anyhoo... what's this blog about again? Oh yeah... Shamantics.

After playing World of Patchcraft for half the night, I finally got into 3.02. Here's a quick rundown on first impressions:

New Login Screen and Intro Music
Honorable mention because it's refreshing to be greeted by something new. As usual, Blizz hit a home run with the new graphics and music - you really get the feeling something is coming, and you better grab a coat. Brr.

Sharper/Brighter Graphics
The game world seemed somehow clearer and more colorful than before. Certain colors and textures really popped, am not sure if this was a result of some graphics modeling updates or the installer changing my settings, but whatev. Thumbs up.

New Talents
Of course all our talent points have been refunded, so the first thing I did was go visit the Shaman trainer in the Exodar (I like the zen of that city) and buy up all the ranks of new spells like Wind Shock (a replacement for spell-interrupting rank 1 Earth Shock, but also reduces threat!). I immediately abandoned my initial plans of going partway into Elemental and went full 61-point Enhancement - there's just so many goodies in there:

Lava Lash
I'm not sure that the mathletes have fully vetted this talent yet, but I took it just for my own unscientific testing. This is the first of a few significant Enhancement changes, as it clearly favors WF/FT rather than WF/WF. I spent the rest of the night using this new combo, and I have to say it was refreshing to have another insta-attack available rather than the prior scenario: SS, Flame Shock, wait for it.... wait for it... wait... ok now Earth Shock! I'll keep experimenting with this, but it seems like a good thing.

Maelstrom Weapon
I had misunderestimated (sic, lol) the power of this talent when reading about it earlier. After a few seconds of beating stuff up, you find yourself able to insta-cast several key spells. In real-world (of Warcraft) use, this seems to be made of win. This gives you ability to weave-in Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning (and later Lava Burst) into the DPS rotation, or to throw an insta-heal on yourself or those around you, without gimping your DPS for more than a GCD. Awesomesauce.

Feral Spirit
I feel like a nerf is incoming on this talent... cuz it's crazy good. The wolves act in tandem, and have a pet bar - and therefore can be directed at specific targets or set completely loose. They seem to do a fair amount of DPS while (at the same time!) healing you. Lolwut?! They even seem to have that pouncy-looking attack that Cat Durids have now. OP!!1

Shamanistic Rage
I didn't notice this, but I think they buffed the crap outta this one. I'm now able to get all my mana back in about ~6 seconds. It's like Innervate on steroids (kids: don't use steroids, they make your nuts shrink).

So between Feral Spirit and Shamanistic Rage, we now have two nice emergency buttons for getting health or mana back quickly. Sweet.

Strength of Earth now buffs Str and Agi, which is all-win. Windfury is now a physical haste totem, and to my suprise, was showing the buff as active in addition to my weapon imbues. Since my totem mod was broken, I quickly re-worked my castsequence totem and was off-and-running:

/castsequence reset=9 Strength of Earth Totem, Windfury Totem, Mana Spring Totem, Searing Totem

On paper (err, interweb) this addition seemed totally superflous and geared towards the quest-completing OCD types. Which it is. But it's also more fun than I imagined. Anytime a player gets an achievement it's broadcast to /guildchat, so from a community perspective, it's also a win as it encourages communication ("grats!" or "how did you do that?") and cooperation ("anyone for SFK?") within the guild. Now, how do I sneak my blue-tailed-butt into Orgrimmar for RFC?

Without changing any gear or enchants/gems, my attack power went up by roughly 7% - likely due to AP-from-Int changes and the hunter gear I was already wearing. Crit went down 1%, but that can easily be made up for... for example, there's a glyph that adds 1% crit for your Strength of Earth totem, not a bad buff for the 10g I paid for it.

The Net Effect
After quick run-throughs of SFK and SM (with a visit to the Grand Canyon, fka: Dalaran), I went off to Sunwell Isle to try all this stuff against level-appropriate mobs. Again, no math yet, but it certainly felt like things were going down faster than before. Windfury seemed to be proc'ing less with it only on the mainhand, but it didn't seem to affect the speed at which mobs were dropping. Having Lava Lash and insta-bolts in the DPS rotation was a lot of fun, and the insta-heals came in handy a time or two. And the Feral Spirits: awesome. Set them on mob 1 while you work on mob 2, and by the time you're done, the wolves have just about taken down mob 1 and have been healing you the whole time. Overall, combat seemed more dynamic, less waiting for cooldowns (which is exactly what Blizz was intending, I believe).

So all things considered, I'm really stoked about the new abilities and am looking forward to trying them in a raid scenario. :) Next task is finding the optimal DPS rotation!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dual Spec Hybrids: The End of Raiding Alts?

It's rather obvious that I favor hybrid classes - there's a utility to them (even when performing offspec roles) that makes them very compelling for me to play... and I think most who play Shaman/Druids/Paladins/etc. would agree that flexibility is a key to what makes these classes fun.

For TBC, I ended up with two raid-capable toons: an Enhancement Shaman (melee DPS) and Restoration Druid (healz). With LK incoming, I've been working on a Priest to take over healing duty at the next endgame.

However... it just occured to me that this third toon may be totally unnecessary? It largely depends on how dual-spec'ing will be implemented, but news from Blizzcon is that players will be able to swap specs even during the middle of a raid... lolwut?!

Pure DPS'ers (Rogues, Mages, Locks, Hunters) would of course still need alts if they wanted to tank/heal - but for hybrid players like me, Tanking/DPS/Healing may largely become an issue of gearing and L2play over having distinct characters to individually level-up to fill specific roles. (Also unified spell power makes things somewhat easier in the gear dept. too, at least for casual raiders.)

Hmm. I suppose if you want a PvP/Arena spec and a PvE spec you'd still need alts to fill other roles, but personally I tend to lean PvE anyway - so I'm more likely to use dual specs to fill two distinct PvE roles (DPS or heals for example). This provides more flexibility for what the guild needs on any given run...

Anyone want a level 57 Priest? :) Haz 298 Tailoring!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lookin' Ahead: Toons

With Wrath and the 3.x patch looming on the horizon, I've been doing some pre-planning for my characters:

will stay Enhancement for leveling in Wrath. For some possibly RP-related reason, I just can't see him as anything other than a two-fisted bringer of teh pain. Since's he's melee DPS with limited CC, he'll likely be solo'ing his way to 80. I'd like to get him raid-ready ASAP (to be followed by Ciribrus) so that I have both melee and ranged DPS available to the guild.

has been collecting DPS caster gear in anticipation of specc'ing back to Doomchicken for leveling. Beta testers are saying that healing 5-mans with a caster offspec is still viable, so am looking forward to LFG'ing either as DPS or heals.

is working his way to 60-ish, hopefully to catch the wave of leveling Death Knights and other alts working their way through Outland. A respec to Holy/Disc is likely at that point, but have another 10 levels or so to go yet. While I don't anticipate focusing on him initially, I'm trying to maneuver him into a position to be able to raid heal if the guild ends up light on healers.

the Death Knight has yet to be "born," but am hoping to roll one as my tank alt (along with everyone else and their brother!). While I have a 40's Paladin and an even younger Warrior in the wings, starting at level 55 has it's obvious advantages. As with Haelus, Unnamed will likely not be my main focus until some sort of raiding routine has been established, but we'll see.

So whether or not I stick to this general plan, am mostly just posting this for posterity - might be fun to look back on this 6 months from now to see how things panned out. :)

Ofc, I might be playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure instead, y'never know...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I ended up missing my last lottery pick with FigurePrints (was right around the time my MBP needed a rez), so when I got another congratulatory email last week, I figured I should jump on it. Timing is pretty good too, as this little piece of art will be a good snapshot for what Ex looked like at the end of the Burning Crusade. Final price came out to $163.39, a little on the steep side, but having a physical representation of something virtual is worth something IMO.

Ironic that the best-matching set of gear is his PvP gear, but whatevs. :)

Pics to follow upon delivery.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is Just Theorycraftin'

Boy do I like teh chart above (source), as it bodes well for both Exelus and Ciribrus (who will likely go back to Doomchicken in Wrath). Ofc it's all speculation in the World of Mathcraft (BETA), but I sure do like them purty bars.

Moar. DPS. FTW.

Nerf bat inc.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Honor Points and Macs

Looks like our saved honor points will be reset for the upcoming expansion, which means any plans to save them for Wrath welfare epics are now foiled. Not all is lost, though: I had previously held-off on buying the much-needed PvP trinkets in favor of armor/weapons, so now it's finally time to pony-up and spend my remaining honor on them before I lose 'em.

In other news, I'm considering a new computer purchase in preparation for Wrath... Currently I play on a "Santa Rosa" MacBook Pro (2.2ghz Core Duo 2) hooked up to a 23" Apple Cinema Display - which works great - but I have to constrain framerates in order to limit heat on the machine. It's a great portable/backup machine, but I want moar powah!

Up for consideration are the 24" iMac and the Mac Pro. Both machines, when equipped with the Nvidia video option, appear to be full of awesome, well capable of running the game at full settings at high framerates. I like the all-in-oneness of the iMac, and would prefer the 20" over the 24" (just obnoxiously big), but the 20" only comes with meh ATI video. Then there's the issue of what to do with my ACD, no longer would be needed.

The Mac Pro would go nicely with the monitor I already own, and would be more future-proof, but is pretty dang expensive: the config I'd want costs around $2,500. >.< Although the 24" iMac is no bargain either at $2,000, but at least I could sell the ACD...

Hmm, decisions...

And no, I'm not considering PCs. Pfft.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pre-Wrath Update

Well shiver me timbers, if it ain't National Talk Like A Pirate Day! First, my favorite knock knock joke of all time:

knock knock
who's there
impatient pirate

Thank you, I'll be here all week. :P

So with the announcement of an official release date for Wrath of the Lich King, I've made my pre-order of the collector's edition and will likely be taking a Wowcation for a day or two after the release. Funny, I remember doing the same when WC3 The Frozen Throne came out.

Being that Exelus is as geared as I'm willing to invest in currently, I've been working mostly on the Druid lately, practicing the art of healing as much as possible. He's been to Kara a few times now, and has made it past Curator to Illhoof and Aran. This weekend's followup will likely bring the challenges of Netherspite and Prince. Oh, and ezmode Chess. :)

Stats-wise, Ciribrus was heading over 1700 +heal but was feeling light in raw stats dept, so I made a few adjustments to gems, keeping the +heal over 1600 but inflating survivability and longevity (stam and int, respectively). His MP5 is around 140-ish, which seems reasonable given the efficiency of Tree healing.

Also found the rare Ace of Beasts on the auction house for the bargain price of 299g, which was the final card needed for Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon. Woot! This level 60 trinket has a proc that returns 100% of your regular mana regen for 15 seconds... so unless they change this item, its one of the few (only?) cards that will scale all the way to 80! Perfect for both grinding and healing during long fights, methinks. :) It's like a mini-innervate!

Now, the dilemma I have is my level 48-ish Priest, who recently took on the name Haelus from my deceased Resto Shaman project toon. The general plan is to level him Shadow till 60, then park him in Outland and level him by healing instances packed with Death Knights. In a way, this frees up Ciribrus from healing duty, as I may be transitioning him back to Laser Chicken for Wrath. Being able to root indoors, plus all the new Balance goodness means that Moonkin should be able to compete with Mages for ranged DPS spots in 5-mans more easily.

So anyway, do I save the Darkmoon card for Haelus instead? Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and I just heard the mammoth mount is going to cost 16,000 gold? Ouch.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Big Weekend

This past weekend was huuuge on the GTD front, both from a guild perspective and a personal in-game goal perspective. First, let's talk about our guild's First Full Karazhan clear!

On Tuesday we did our usual "first half" clear through Curator, no issues, no wipes, all good. Then Friday we one-shotted Aran, collected our free epics from Chess and proceeded to Prince.

Prince, what a PITA.

After several attempts, we just couldn't seem to pull it off... between super-unlucky infernal drops and being a little light on DPS, we had to call it and regroup on Sunday.

/recruit Mages,Warlocks,Hunters

Sunday rolls around and we're one DPS short, but luckily a guildy knew a very-well geared Mage who graciously agreed to come. :) Our guest's abilities and strategy advice proved invaluable the rest of the night.

First we one-shotted Illhoof, /target Demon Chains ftw. Our offtank picked up a very nice cloak, grats! Then we went to visit Netherspite, a boss that the guild has maybe downed once? Not that it's particularly hard, it's just VERY gadgety. Beams, phases, aggro resets, it just takes a bit of coordination. After a few tries we got the timing down and he fell. :)

Feeling good, we went up the tower to re-visit Prince and tried the usual tanking spot, far left against the wall. Bad luck with infernals and range issues had us looking for a new tactic, so we made another attempt with the Pandadin tank along the right wall, with ranged in the doorway. This time we got lucky and were able to apply enough DPS, Prince downed!

Our guest had the urn to summon Nightbane, so even though it was late and not many of us had done the fight before, we crammed on the strategy and... one-shot big nasty Bane. /cheer! Even made out with some nice hunter loot.

By this point, I had 103 Badges of Justice... just 2 shy of Vanir's Lolfist. Out-of-the-blue I got a /w from a friend-lister and off I went to Heroic Blood Furnace. It was a bit of a struggle (putting it mildly), but we persisted and made it through.

/beeline Isle of Quel'Danas
/buy Vanir's Right Fist of Brutali-tay

/apply Mongoose

Since buying Vanir's freed up the honor I'd been saving for the PvP fist (no longer needed), tonight I'll be able to replace my last blue item with this one. Woot!

Ciribrus the Durid Alt also managed exalted with Shattered Sun Offensive and has just over 3k gold, working towards epic flight... maybe in a few weeks?

In other RL news, the Seahawks got crushed by the freakin' Bills. /cry

Friday, September 5, 2008

Karazhan Loot Watch List

Even though Wrath is only a few months away, those of us still running KZ for fun and profit will likely be able to continue using our epics into the first few levels of Northrend, making raiding as worthwhile as ever. So better late than never, below is a list of Karazhan loot to watch for as an Enhancement Shaman!

A few months ago I would have left out the "hunter loot," but with upcoming changes to how we get our attack power, having Intellect will no longer be as worthless as it is today. Also your mileage will vary depending on what you already have and have access to - for example, some crafted and PvP epics will definitely outrank items listed below. Use EP and RatingBuster to determine what works for you!

Now on to the list!

Trash Mobs
  • Grips of Deftness and Zierhut's Lost Treads - normally we like leather because it often comes with stuff like hit/crit, but these gloves and boots have decent raw stats and may be an upgrade for whatever you're currently wearing.
  • Belt of the Tracker - pass on this for hunters in your group, but take it in lieu of disenchanting and bank it. Depending on what gear you have when Wrath hits, you may gain some attack power from Intellect.
  • Edgewalker Longboots - nice stats, sockets, hit rating, a definite upgrade from Zierhut's.
  • Royal Cloak of Arathi Kings - seems tailor-made for Burning Crusade-era Enhancement Shaman. Strength, Stamina, hit rating = win. Slap on an agility enchant.
  • Formula: Mongoose - this drop gets special mention because dual-Mongoose on your weapons are considered best until super high-end raiding (T6/Sunwell).
  • Big Bad Wolf's Paw - ugliest weapon in the game, but decent stats and nice slow speed will tide you over until you can get a PvP or badge weapon.
  • Romulo's Poison Vial - there are way better trinkets for us, but if everyone passes, take it - especially if you're low on hit rating as it may improve DPS on boss fights.
  • Beastmaw Pauldrons - more hunter loot, but take it if it's an upgrade.
  • Fool's Bane - PvP and badge weapons are better, but this is very decent if you have neither.
  • Girdle of the Prowler - sigh, more hunter loot, maybe take it for Wrath.
  • Bladed Shoulderpads of the Merciless - argh, been waiting for these to drop for a while! AP, crit, hit, sockets, it's all good. And they're rated above the T4 shoulders for us enhancers.
  • Girdle of Treachery - kinda kitty or rogue, but may be an upgrade - at least the two red sockets (which should always be filled with pure strength gems) will get you the agility bonus.
  • Fiend Slayer Boots - huntery, but not terrible with the two gem slots.
  • Mithril Chain of Heroism - raw stats FTW. Maybe slightly better than the SSO neck if you aren't Exalted with Aldorks yet.
  • The Decapitator - still a very nice weapon, but has since been out-itemized by S2 PvP and badge weapons.
  • Farstrider Wildercloak - there are likely far better blue-quality cloaks out there, but if it drops, no one wants it and it's an upgrade, I guess /roll on it. Totally meh.
  • Ring of a Thousand Marks - another very nice compliment to you Violet Eye ring, has all the good stuff on it.
  • Helm of the Fallen Champion -> Cyclone Helm - grats on your next piece of T4! The 2-piece set bonus grants an additional 12 strength from your totem - not great, but not terrible.
  • Chestguard of the Conniver - looks to be a fairly decent piece, if you can wrestle it away from rogues and cat druids. Even better though, is the Shadowprowler's Chestguard with it's 3 slots, another LW pattern available at the Violet Eye quartermaster.
  • Ferocious Swift-Kickers - decent boots given the two gem slots, and they visually match the rest of our T4 stuff.
  • Scaled Breastplate of Carnage - healthy does of Int makes this a hunter piece (do I sound like a broken record yet?) but may come in handy in preparation for Wrath.
That's it for now, happy hunting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Has WoW Jumped the Shark?

MMO Champion is reporting the confirmation of a new mechanical mount for Wrath of the Lich King, "the Hog."

OK, I'm not a hardcore RP'er or anything, but to me, this is a fairly significant break in the fourth wall, blurring the lines between WoW and real life. It's a question of suspended disbelief, a literary tool that helps us immerse ourselves when watching movies or playing video games.

You might argue that the current flying mount is a roflcopter with jet engines attached, but at least 1) it comes from existing Warcraft lore and 2) nothing designed like that would actually fly in our world, so it still "fits" the genre IMO.

There are tons of different directions Blizzard could have gone with this - there are lots of great steampunk and DaVinci-esque inspirations a mechanical land mount could have taken on. To me, a recreating a motorcycle just shows a distinct lack of imagination.

Flying carpets, on the other hand, get the Shamantic thumbs-up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

On Endgame Jewelcrafting

When I pull up teh beloved Shaman on the armory and examine him in all his T4ish-ness, I see (count 'em!) one epic Jewelcrafting trinket that he uses for raiding.

One. Uno. Ichi.

...and it's a Rogue item. >.<

Most of his gems are Bold Living Rubies, all of which were bought off the auction house since the pattern itself sold for ridiculous amounts on the AH. Also, I tended to level his JC'ing in spurts since mats took a while to accumulate, so he never really benefited from crafting his own wares, either. Sure, he made some money with JC'ing, but also spent a lot of money leveling it.

This is all in stark contrast to Leatherworking/Skinning, which I have on teh Durid. While leveling up, I generally also leveled LW since mats were readily available - which meant Ciribrus wore much of what he crafted. From an arpee perspective, I like the idea that he makes his own stuffs.

Currently at level 68.9, he's well on-track to be able to craft the complete Windhawk armor set before hitting 70. This means right-off-the-bat, he'll be able to equip three crafted epics and get a huge jumpstart on raiding/heroics.

With Wrath approaching, the question is:
"Should I stay or should I go now?"

Do I put trust in Blizzard to make endgame Jewelcrafting more like a primary profession? Or do I powerlevel him to 350 in something else now, in preparation for Wrath's endgame?


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who Sez Chickens Can't Fly?

Obsessive compulsive disorder hard work and focus got Ciribrus to level 68 yesterday, and with that came Flight Form - woot! The first thing I did was take a running leap off Aldor Rise, hitting shift-F (my flying mount hotkey) halfway down. Insta-cast FTW! I think I'll be enjoying this new virtual sport (Base Jumping), but also sure that at some point, I'll attempt it with the wrong character and go splat. Heh.

And having been spoiled by epic flight on Exelus, I now have another thing to obsess over work towards: Swift Flight Form. Boo that I can't work on that quest chain until 70!

In other news, Ciribrus also ran regular Mana Tombs as healer yesterday - overall I think it went fairly well... just one wipe on an overpull and then another during the escort quest. Oops. -_- Keeping the Pally tank up with HOTs was fairly easy to do, but the insta-cast Healing Touch w/Nature's Swiftness definitely came in handy once or twice. The DPS was a little wobbly though, under-geared and under-leveled - complete with an AFK rogue who readily admitted (proudly!?!) to alt-tabbing out during trash after I caught him standing still on multiple pulls. Ugh. Congrats on making my ignore list, jerky.

But, as my capable and patient guildy tank reminded me, "it's only Mana Tombs." :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Shamantic Lull

Not too much has been going on in the world of Exelus... funding Ciribrus' leatherworking endeavors (need moar Thick Clefthoof Leather, plskthx) and the occasional heroic/Kara is about all he's up to. AV weekend came and went, and I totally flaked on grinding honor for that PvP fist, opting instead to practice battle medic'ing with Ciri and gaining 10k honor for him in the process.

Although yesterday while doing dailies, I did notice an Elemental Shaman running around two-shotting mobs on the Isle. Upon inspection I saw the expected purple haze of gear, but was pretty impressed nonetheless. Maybe Ex will try out Elemental on his way to 80? ...or not, as I just heard a rumor about a 2.9 speed green axe in the beta. 0.o WTB!

Speaking of which, have you seen the new weapon designs? Awesome.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Notes to Drood Self

When on healing duty, do not enter an instance without plenty of:
  • water
  • mana potions
  • reagents
Do not:
  • forget to Innervate self
  • forget to battle rez when appropriate
  • allow major pulls to start with Nature's Swiftness on cooldown
So much to remembers... >.<

Buuut, Ciribrus now has Lifebloom after dinging 64. Woot!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shamanistic Update

KK, this is supposed to be a blog about Shaman'ing, so here's teh latest update on the adventures of Exelus.

Several days ago, he and some guildies assaulted Magister's Terrace - still a challenge in T4-ish gear in regular mode. Cleared up to the 5v5 PvP boss with relative ease, but weren't able to complete it. The chaos of this encounter really requires a different mindset/playstyle and it's something that will require more practice. :) The coolest part though, was learning the Priest's trick to thinning out 4-5 person pulls: mind control FTW. The Priest strips down and MC's someone in the mob group, which promptly gets burned down by their compadres. Of course the priest then dies too, but a Shaman can has rez. The key is to have the rest of the party far away though, so they don't enter combat and get aggro'ed as well.

Yesterday's heroic was Black Morass/Dark Portal, and being one of my favorite instances I was in-like-Flynn. Four guildies and a guest Rogue resulted in only one wipe and five badges. (The wipe was a simple tactical error on Temporus, where we didn't pay enough attention to the adds, and the healer was stuck in combat from the previous fight and couldn't drink beforehand.) And of course, the Hourglass did not drop. Not that I really need it anymore, but it's still on my list. *shakes fist*

Badge Watch '08: only 50 more to go... /sigh

In crafting news, Exelus seems seems to have developed an expensive gambling habit in the form of creating Brilliant Glass. Which, out of of dozens of attempts, has only yielded one epic gem (and not a very good one at that). Needs to break this habit and focus more on dailies so he can support Ciribrus' leatherworking endeavors (ding level 63, LW 360, honored @ CE yesterday!).

Friday, July 25, 2008


The Druid alt recently dinged 62 (shouldn't that technically be "dung?" lol), and made another spec tweak while visiting Moonglade. (That free port spell is oh-so-handy when you need to get to Darn/AH without blowing your hearth!)

After some research, it appears that the Dreamstate build is still viable for healing regular 5-man content - and conveniently, leaves enough points in Balance to do some damage as well. This build would seem very appropriate for what I'm trying to do at the moment: get to 70 via soloing/questing and instancing as healer or DPS.

Lolwut is Dreamstate?

The idea behind the Dreamstate build seems to be maximizing MP5, as Druidic healing is a constant affair: re-applying HOTs in a continuous cycle. Dreamstate is a Balance talent that grants 10% of your Intellect as MP5, and when combined with the early Resto talent Intensity (30% mana regen IFSR), would seem to keep a fair amount of mana coming back during combat.

So for the moment, Ciribrus is working a Dreamstate-lite build: with just enough points into Resto to get the insta-nuke-heal from Nature's Swiftness. In a few levels he'll be able to max-out the namesake talent, all while keeping Doomkin form.

I'm thinking that the NS insta-heal is one of the more important tools that was missing from the healing arsenal during those early Hellfire runs... am looking forward to trying out this new build, especially armed with an emergency oh-noes-tank-be-dyin' button. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WotLK Overload

I realize its been a while since The Burning Crusade, and a lot of folks are burned-out on the old content, but geebus there's such a flood of Wrath info that I'm starting to get burned-out on Wrath itself! Wowinsider, Elitist Jerks, just about every blog I see out there is all abuzz.

The issue I have with all this speculation and pre-analysis is that the thing's merely in BETA at this point, with so many changes/tweaks yet to come. Yes, it's neat to check out talent trees, speculate on the economic impact of Inscription and watch videos of DK's pwning Orcs in Terokkar, but isn't there something to be said about waiting for the real deal?


Monday, July 21, 2008

Gearing your 70

Now that I've got the lolchicken to 60 and questing/instancing in Outland, it's causing me to reflect a bit on the gearing-up process that Exelus went through on his way up to (and beyond) 70. There are several tactics that can be used to outfit your character depending on what you want to do in-game (PvP, PvE, or both).

On the way to 70: Quest Rewards and Drops
With the sheer number of quests and instances available in Outland, you'll likely find a number of great class-and-spec-specific blue quality items that you'll continue to use at 70. The trick is knowing which items are worth pursuing/keeping, and luckily there are great resources out there, like and Kaliban's Loot List (see Sample Builds).

Also on the way to 70: PvP Epics
Currently one of the best investments for a 70 Enhancement Shaman are the Arena Season 2 Merciless Gladiator weapons (36k honor, 40 EotS tokens for both). Since honor and tokens don't degrade or expire, you can begin working on them several levels before 70. Get the Axes if you're an Orc, otherwise take your pick of the Fists, Axes or Maces. These weapons are great for both PvP (resilience) and PvE (hit rating). Just be sure to take the 2.6 speed version for your offhand. :) Definitely worthy of Mongoose, or Crusader if you can't afford it yet. Note however, that the 45-badge Vanir's offhand is definitely better than a S2 offhand, and is also relatively easy to get if you run Kara or heroics with any regularity. Other classes can absolutely benefit from PvP epics in the same way: Ciribrus certainly has his eyes on the S2 caster staff.

Newly at 70: Reputation Gear
If you've been completing quests and running the occassional Outland instance, you'll likely have reached Honored with most major Outland factions. With this, you'll have access to some quite good level 70 blue gear, albeit PvP-oriented. (This is still great filler gear even if you're doing mostly PvE.) For many classes, there are also quite nice epics availble at Revered/Exalted: a musket and caster sword at Honor Hold, Feral Druid mace at Cenarion Expedition, etc. There's also some excellent gear available from the Shattered Sun Offensive vendor (something for almost every class/spec/profession), and is totally solo-able by just doing dailies. It's like getting paid for grinding reputation to be able to buy epics. Brilliant!

Crafting/Buying Epics
The aforementioned SSO faction dailies on the Isle of Quel'Danas is a ridiculous moneymaker. In 45 minutes you can easily make 100 gold or more, and earn reputation at the same time. With all this cash flow it becomes feasible to level crafting professions and/or just buy epics right off the auction house. At this point Exelus has bought a chest, cloak, (mats for) gloves and a trinket directly off the AH. The gear list at has little icons next to each item to reveal their source: some are excellent BoE crafted items! As a Jewelcrafter, Exelus was also able to craft one of the best DPS trinkets in the game, thanks to a few badges and gold. Each profession may have several BoE/BoP items that are now much more attainable thanks to dailies. (Many high-end recipies can now be purchased directly from reputation vendors.)

Raiding/Heroics and Badge Gear
With a mix of high-end blues, PvP gear, reputation gear and crafted/purchased gear, you may find that upgrades will only come from raiding drops and badges. At this point you're certainly geared for most heroics, which can be fun and challenging, and a great source of extra badges if you do the daily heroic quests. Many of the badge-purchasable gear rivals the best stuff attainable in the game (Black Temple/Hyjal/Sunwell level), and there are some bargains to be had as well. The Stonebreaker's Totem is the first thing Exelus bought, a staple of raiding Enhancers and dirt-cheap at 25 badges. He's currently got his eyes set on Vanir's mainhand, but still needs 60+ badges. Ouch. :)

So as you can see, there's numerous ways to get your character geared, and I've found that doing a little bit of each of the above combines into a decently-geared character without having to become a hardcore raider. Exploring the various paths also makes for a fun and diverse gameplay experience, and also makes for a well-rounded player.

Happy hunting!

Healing Ramps

After dinging 60, Ciribrus the wonder chicken ported himself to Moonglade to learn some new skills and respec. Since there are so many great instances in Outland, and since healers are always in demand, I figured I'd try a Balance/Resto hybrid build. Specifically, I was gunning for the 15 points in Resto to pick up Subtlety, reducing threat by 20%. Seems like a pretty decent talent (if not required) for both healing and pew pew in groups. The remaining points went all back into Balance for now, can't quite give up the chicken for a tree just yet. :)

I tried out this build on a regular Hellfire Ramparts run, and was happy to find that it worked pretty well. The only times I drew aggro were on the accidental overpulls, but I think that's to be expected. For the majority of the run, though, it was fairly easy going. A little pre-HOT as the tank pulled, then just re-applying Rejuvination and Regrowth as needed. I don't think I had to cast a single Healing Touch, so mana efficiency was excellent.

Pretty fun, and I plan on going back to Ramps soon (as healer or chicken) before completing too many more Hellfire quests. (Ramps continues to give out HH rep until Honored, I believe.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is Outland Ready for This?!

Tonight was a big night for Ciribrus the Lazer Chicken alt. After dinging 58 in Eastern Plaguelands, he made a beeline for the Dark Portal and Honor Hold. Those early Hellfire quests are amazing: in less than an hour he gained a half level and got some neat early quest rewards, like the Staff of the Twin Worlds, which totally beat the crap outta my old level 50-ish of-the-Eagle staff.

His Skinning was already up to 300, so in the interest of not falling too far behind in Leatherworking I also spent some time powerleveling him up to 300. He chose Tribal Leatherworking, natch, as a caster. Someday perhaps, Windhawk Armor? :o

Also discovered the beauty of the Focus CC macro while grinding Turtle Scales. This ingenious bit of code will cast the CC of your choice (Roots or Hibernate in this case) and set the target as your focus. You can then move on to other targets (friendly or otherwise), and if the CC breaks/ends, simply hit the macro again and your original focus will be re-CC'ed:

/focus [target=focus, exists, nodead] focus; [btn:2][] target
/cast [target=focus] Entangling Roots

With that little gem, I was able to nuke down a turtle, root it around 25%, cast Insect Swarm and move on to the next mob while the turtle died a slow horrible death from DOTs.

Genius! :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Laser Chicken

In the past few days, I've gone back to working on my original main, a (formerly Feral) Druid who has gone Balance since 47 or so. Thanks to a boatload of rested XP, he's now sitting at 54 after not too much effort. While leveling Balance has been noticeably slower than Feral, I decided to try it out as a caster playstyle experiment. Also, since our guild already has several excellent Feral Druids, going Balance with an eye on Resto seems like a natural fit.

The thing that draws me to hybrid classes of course is flexibility - being able to sling spells, cure stuff, throw a few HOTs around then going back to DPS is right up my alley.

Another reason for leveling said Druid is Leatherworking, which I'm envisioning could be useful in helping out my Enhancement Shaman... For example: I've been seeing a Cloak of Darkness float around the AH recently, which would be a fantastic DPS cloak for Exelus, but at 1500g, it's more than I'm willing to spend as a marginal upgrade from Aran's Drape of the Dark Reavers. Buuut, if Ciribrus can eventually make a few nice things for Exelus (esp during Wrath of the Lich King), then all the better, right?

Or, what I could do is get a 2nd account for the level grind from 70-80, transfer this Druid over and autofollow Exelus around and toss HOTs as needed. :O Hmm, this idea has merit...


UPDATE: just read up a bit on Moonkin DPS, where a theorycrafter puts Starfire and Wrath spam up against a Mage's Fireball. Interesting! Also learned that Insect Swarm does roughly the same DPS as a Priest's Shadow Word Pain, at about half the mana cost.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm at work, banging my head against a particularly frustrating .NET/Safari bug - because you apparently can't debug Safari using "attach to process" from Visual Studio... WTF Microsoft? (Do you like how I blame MS rather than Apple? Yep, that's how I roll...)

So instead, I'm going to write a post about my shiny new Blizzard Authenticator. :) This little bad boy arrived yesterday in the mail, despite all the talk about out-of-stockness and shipping delays. (I must've gotten my order in just before the madness.)

After pairing it to my account at (there's a serial number on the back that creates the association from your device to your account), I'm now required to press a little button on the keychain device to retrieve a temporary PIN to enter along with my user name and password. It's like having a second password that changes every minute or so. Brilliant!

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that I'm 100% hackproof, but my limited knowledge of application security tells me that my WoW account is way more secure than it was 24 hours ago. The fact that many corporations and financial institutions use these seems to support the notion that multi-point authentication with physically-held security devices are the way to go.

In other news, iPhone's 2.0 software was released today, which now officially includes support for third-party applications. (ZOMG gamez!) Super Monkey Ball is superhard and superfun and super-better-graphics-than-I-expected. I now have something productive to do while flying from Darnassus to Gadgetzan. (Or from Seattle to Vegas?)

So given the surprising graphics and processing capability of the little iPhone, is it too much to expect we'll see some sort of mobile gaming experience from Blizzard? How about a 2D side-scroller-jump-n-shoot game in a Diablo/Starcraft/Warcraft theme? WTB!!!