Saturday, April 26, 2008

On-Use Macro of Pure Win(TM)

At some point we start using trinkets that have an "on use" ability in addition to (or in lieu of) an "on equip" ability. Usually these "on use" abilities are quite nice, only restricted by a cooldown timer and the fact that you actually have to remember to umm, actually use it.

I'm currently using (the slightly-outdated) Ancient Draenei War Talisman for the crit attributes, but usually totally neglect it's "on use" ability: increased 200 AP for 15 seconds on a 1.5 minute cooldown. The thing's been on my action bar for weeks, so it's not like I don't see it - I just get lazy and keep putting off using it. And there's something about the cooldown that makes me feel like I should save it for something, but when that something happens I usually completely forget about it.

Here's where the On-Use Macro of Pure Win(TM) comes in:

#showtooltip Stormstrike
/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/use [harm,nodead] Ancient Draenei War Talisman
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/script UIErrorsFrame:Show()
/cast Stormstrike

This macro replaces my regular Stromstrike hotkey and pops the Talisman every time it's cooldown is up. Automatically. No needin' to think 'bout nothin'. Awesome.

I can't take credit for coming up with this fancy macro, but when a guildee posted something similar for popping trinkets before each and every Shadow Bolt, it got me thinkin'. So now with this macro and all my various other abilities proc'ing (Darkmoon Card Crusade, dual Crusader enchants, Stonebreaker's Totem, etc.), I can actually go from my base AP of 1150 to over 2000, and that's NON raid-buffed! Woot.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pickup Yer Totemz

At level 30 we get a fancy new spell called Totemic Call, which destroys all active totems and returns 25% of the mana spent on them. I use this spell so much that I have it bound to the Y key.

Now here comes the rant part of the post: I've seen lots of Shaman who, for some reason, just leave their totems behind and/or let them die a natural death. There are several problems with this: totems aggro patrolling/re-spawning mobs, you lose out on free mana, and it's just plain messy.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Magister's Terrace

Last week we had a chance to visit Magister's Terrace, the new 5-man instance on Sunwell Isle. Having read so much about it's high crowd-control requirements and general melee-DPS unfriendliness, I wanted to wait until I could enter with mostly guildees.

Our party consisted of a Feral Tank, Mage, Hunter, Holy Priest and myself. A pretty solid group, geared mostly from Karazhan and PvP rewards. Nothing extraordinary, but no slackers either. :) We took it generally slow, and had relatively smooth-sailing up until the infamous final trash pull, more on that later.

Pulls were usually a mix of casters and melee'rs, easily-controlled encounters by using the usual best practice methods (CC, marking kill order). As a Shaman, it's important to use Earth Shock against the Blood Knights as they heal as well as DPS. Against Physicians, use Poison cleanse totem. For encounters with too many casters to fully CC, Grounding Totem is very effective.

Selin Fireheart
First thing's first: get everyone into the room at the same time! A magic forcefield locks players out who don't immediately come into the room. We wiped here not knowing that, as only our tank and one other made it into the room. Even on the second attempt, full well knowing about the forcefield, the hunter still got locked-out. Heh. Cannot emphasize this enough: all in right away. Other than that, it's pretty easy. We managed to down him with only 2 DPS. Same story as the final Steamvaults boss, destroy the crystal power things as soon as they're attackable.

Similar to Karazhan's Curator, this guy sends blobs of Pure Energy into the room that need to be burned down ASAFP. (like that? I just came up with that last week, been using it ever since!) It was hard to locate them, so spamming this macro (hotkeyed to your keyboard, just like Cartman recommends) might help:

/target Pure

Our tank managed to down Vexallus himself after everyone else wiped around 1%. See? Bare durid iz 4 fite 2! :)

Princess Delrissa
The infamous 5v5 PvP fight. Everything you've read is true, there is no attack table, so tanking does basically nothing here. In fact, kill order didn't seem much help either as it was pretty chaotic. We wiped a few times but manged it in the end. It seems good to start with a CC strategy, then just be prepared to go with the flow of the fight. Glance at the party's health every now and again, backup healing can be helpful here. (that means you, Shaman!)

After Delrissa came the seven mob pull that we just couldn't manage. /sigh. Maybe if I had been replaced with another DPS/CC, we could've tied up another mob, but it just didn't work out. We even replaced the Feral Tank with a Protection Paladin, but the seemingly random targeting of the Ethereal Smuggler and his nasty AOE proved too difficult to contend with. I probably spent too much time running after him, should have been dropping more Grounding Totems and interrupting casters, me thinks.

Can't wait to take another shot at this one. :) Bottom line for Enhancement Shaman though, don't be shy, you can be very effective here. Just adjust your tactics a bit. More grounding, more interrupts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PvP Gear for Badges

Eonar entered Phase 3 of the Sunwell Isle progression, and now all sorts of neat gear is available for purchase via Badges of Justice or Tier'd tokens.

I've been languishing with Boots of Savagery since the mid-60's (months!), if only because it's hard to find raw strength on mail armor - most seem to be lolhuntergear, with non-scaling attack power and mp5. Yucky.

So after another Kara run or two, looks like I'll be able to buy Veteran's Linked Sabatons for a mere 40 badges - and more importantly, I can completely avoid EotS to get them! :)

The Attack Table

On more than one occasion, I've read that Enhancement Shaman should value critical hit chance over standard "to hit" bonuses. This advice always seemed counter-intuitive to me... "If you don't hit, you can't crit, right?"


It appears that WoW uses a single-roll system to determine hits/crits/misses, rather than a two-roll system (first to see if you hit, second to see if you crit). And for those born in the 90's: this "roll" refers to pen & paper RPGs where you physically rolled oddly-shaped dice. Anyone remember THAC0 and the insta-crit natural 20 roll? I digress... has a nice Enhancement worksheet for examining this single-roll attack table. Notice that all possible scenarios are accounted for as a percentage: hits/crits, misses/parries/dodges, etc. If you fiddle around with Crit %, you'll see that having more crit improves the quality of your landed hits by taking percentage points away from regular hits.

Since so many Enhancement abilities (Flurry, Shamanistic Focus, Unleashed Rage) are triggered by crits - not to mention raw DPS - it's important to be crit'ing as much as possible. Sure, having more +hit is nice, but having more crit impacts your overall DPS significantly more.

Note that you can also remove Dodge/Parry misses from the attack table by positioning, so always try to attack from behind!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Prince Pwnd

This past week in Karazhan has been unusual for me - unusual in that I was actually able to attend all three nights and "finish" the instance (at least from a quest perspective). Woot! Last night we picked up at Chess, continued on to Prince, then back-tracked for an attempt on Netherspite. Again, some notes from an Enhancement Shaman's perspective:

The Chess Event
I've read strategy notes, seen the videos, but it makes much more sense after having done it once. This is a fun encounter where you basically choose a chess piece to "become," then you do battle against Medivh's pieces. (It reminded me of the quest The Fel and the Furious, where you become a Fel Reaver for a bit and your action bars get replaced with Fel Reaver-specific actions.) I chose a pawn, simply because I didn't really know what to expect - and thankfully it was pretty simple: move or attack. Funny thing is you can move sideways, so don't expect strict chess rules here. My pawn died, so after 30 seconds I ran back to the board and chose another to control. Pretty straightforward, nothing Shaman-specific here.

Prince Malchezaar
Mean Mr. Malchezaar is the objective of A Demonic Presence, so I was pretty excited to get to him and have a chance to finish the quest line. We wiped a few times due to unlucky Infernal drop locations, but in the end got him down. Being a melee DPS'er, the thing to watch for is his Enfeeble ability, which drops you to 1 hit point for seven seconds (during which you are unhealable). The strategy here is to run away from the Prince immediately as he follows up with an AOE (you'll also want to avoid the infernals). I found that facing the direction to run was the best approach while I fought, so I didn't waste any time turning before running.

The 2nd phase is when things get hairy for the tank, as the Prince summons axes increasing his melee damage and applies Sunder Armor's. This is the phase when I chose to pop Heroism and Fire Elemental, for faster heals and increased DPS - getting past this phase ASAP seemed pretty critical. The third and final phase is pretty much a DPS race, as the rate of infernals dropping increases.

Probably the most gadgety of all gadget fights I've seen, this encounter was pretty wild. Netherspite is a big ol' dragon that calls three portals which shoot buffing beams at him. A red beam that tanks should intercept (by simply standing in front of), a blue beam that DPS'ers should interecept and a green beam that pretty much anyone available should intercept PDQ, since it heals Netherspite at some insane rate. We didn't actually get him down, but it was clear that having beam assignments (with backups for each assignment) was the thing to do. More research is warranted, but it seems like any non-mana-dependent class would be good for the green beams since you lose mana while in it - but Enhancement Shaman are also good since we can regain more than half our mana within 15 seconds by using Shamanistic Rage.

Hopefully in some future post I'll be able to report on downing Netherspite and a few other bosses that I've yet to see/finish (Nightbane, Big Bad Wolf), but it's been great to get this far and I'm definitely feeling like any future Kara runs I get to go on will be gravy. :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Head on my Shoulders

Despite Alterac Valley being far more, uhm "balanced" after 2.4 (no more easymode honor), I managed to slog through enough matches tonight to finish the 14.5k honor needed for my 2nd Season 1 armor piece: the Gladiator's Linked Helm. With the two-piece bonuses (from both Gladiator's Linked and Seer's Linked armor sets), I'm now up to almost 200 resilience, which has made a notable difference in my PvP survivability - but I still (at some point) should get the movement-freeing trinket.

But for now, I'm done with BGs. Getting the axes, shoulders and helmet have been the very definition of grind, and not really a very fun one. All the unsportsmanlike commentary and juvenillia has really gotten on my nerves. (Sure, I know juvenillia's not a word, but it should be.)

Anyway, the whole point of getting welfare epics was to gear-up for PvE, and I think I've accomplished what I wanted to for now. Sure my boots are 6 levels outdated and I need a better crit trinket and cloak, but I figure these other bits will just have to come from lucky drops. Or from impulsive auction house purchases.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beyond Curator

Tonight was the first chance I've had to participate in the 2nd night of a Karazhan run, thanks to some raiding schedule rearrangements. :) Being able to finally experience Kara content beyond Curator was great: tonight we downed Shade of Aran and Illhoof. These fights seem a little more melee-DPS friendly than others, and here are some notes from the Enhancement perspective:

Shade of Aran
First of all, this guy is just plain tough. He's a caster who does crazy damage if you let him - we actually wiped three times before finally downing him. As a Shaman you'll be on spell interrupt duty for either his fireballs or frost bolts. The funny thing is, it seems like his casting frequency goes up if you interrupt too much, so we actually tried interrupting every other cast on the final attempt. This seemed to go better, but more research is warranted...

Flame Wreath seems to have the potential for being the biggest wiper, but with DeadlyBossMods you'll get plenty of warning beforehand. As melee DPS, you need to make sure you're in range of Aran before FW lands - afterwards everyone must temporarily stay put or very bad things will happen. If you get stuck out of melee range, throw a few heals or lightning bolts in the meantime. Take your hand off the keyboard so you don't accidentally move.

Another nasty trick is the pull-in followed by a huge AOE blast. You must run immediately to a wall after being pulled-in and wait for the AOE to go off (similar to Murmur's sonic blast). If you don't make it and die, just make sure you don't attempt to reincarnate in the middle of his blizzard spell... wait until it passes. -_-

I'd also recommend waiting to pop Heroism and Fire Elemental until at least 1/3 the way into the fight - just to make sure things are going pretty well before blowing your long-cooldown abilities.

In summary: interrupt spells, stay in melee range, avoid the nasty AOE, reincarnate wisely.

This satyr boss and his imp have some interesting dynamics, as you'll be switching targets often. The best scenario for melee DPS seems to be tanking them just on the edge of the green circle, so you can minimize running around between targets.

First, it's important to have a "/target Demon" macro hotkeyed to your keyboard (do I sound like Cartman?). I used the letter V as it's very easy to hit during a hectic fight. Periodically Illy will target a random raid member and shackle them in Demonic Chains, rapidly draining their health. ALL DPS must burn down the shackle ASAP or the shacklee will die (exceptions are Paladins and Mages who can bubble/ice block to escape). It's reminiscent of the final boss in Steamvault where you have to burn down the water tanks as soon as they're attackable. Melee DPS is made for stuff like this, so make sure you're in range for a quick re-target, use that macro and Stormstrike/Earth Shock for burst DPS.

Other than that, hopefully you have a kickass raid leader who will call out the current focus, as it changes frequently between the Imp, Illhoof and the shackled person. We two-shotted this fight, a nice change after Aran's beating. :) Hopefully I can finagle my way into a 3rd followup night, as I believe Chess is up next!

In other news, I tried Recount as a replacement for DamageMeters tonight. Way more options than DM had, and it reported an astonishing 1,000 ZOMGDPS for our first-place Warlock. My DPS seemed to be neck-and-neck with the mage, around 600 DPS. Fun stuffs. :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

2.4 Respec

Being the type of player who like to dabble in the various aspects of WoW, I tend to favor the jack-of-all-trades approach to both gear and spec. A typical night usually involves dailies, a raid/instance and PvP. If you're a min/max'er, those are distinctly different scenarios, but given my class, playstyle and interests, flexibility is key so I'm always trying to find the right balance.

With the advent of 2.4 and my increasing PvP activity, I've been tempted to spec into insta-cast Ghost Wolf (as well as improving raid utility) so last night I switched from 0/45/16 to 0/47/14.

Basically I took points away from cheaper totems and gave them to Improved Ghost Wolf*, since I tend to only drop one or two totems while soloing, and mana is not an issue in groups. Having instant travel form is pretty fantastic, especially on the new dailies where it's a race to tag your mob first. PvP gains a lot from this talent, like immunity to sap and faster maneuvering on smaller maps like WSG and EotS. I also took a point away from Anticipation and max'ed Improved Weapon Totems for raid utility (Windfury for all FTW).

On the resto side I moved the first five points from cheaper heals to faster heals - usually when I'm healing it's in PvP or in some other emergency basis, so faster seems better for the moment.

*Note that if you're pre-62 (when Water Shield becomes available) and don't do a lot of PvP, I still wouldn't recommend Imp GW over Imp Lightning Shield (or Anticipation).


Last night's Karazhan run went very well: just about 2 hours to down Curator, passing through Attumen, Maiden, and Romulo/Julietta along the way. Died a few times on trash (oops, L2Omen), but managed to stay alive during all four boss fights (a tribute to our uber healz!).

The big news from last night was Curator's dropping of Gauntlets of the Fallen Champion, which can be used to buy Tier 4 Shaman gloves.

Now backing up a bit... the first time I made it to Shattrath and found Asuur, I started control-clicking the various bits of armor to see what the Cyclone set would look like on Exelus (look at those shoulders!). Thinking that I'd never really be able to get any of the this stuff, I /sighed and he eventually just became my repair vendor.

Fast-forward to the present (or last night), when our Paladins started passing on the token. A quick analysis showed that the Cyclone Gauntlets had more raw strength than my current Felfury Gauntlets, so I opted for the token.

Due to Felfury's gemming I actually lost a bit of AP and crit, but gained scalable AP (through strength), ~1% hit and 240 mana, so while technically not a huge upgrade, it's a step in the right direction. Especially if (when?) I get a 2nd piece of Cyclone, since the bonus would grant an additional 12 strength on my Strength of Earth totem.

Gruul's Lair, are you in my future?!?!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Complaint Registered

Yesterday's daily PvP was Warsong Gulch, which already ranks as my 2nd least-favorite battleground below EotS. I gave it three solid attempts, but alas came away with only three marks and a pittance of honor.

On the final game, the Alliance went to 0/2 caps. General disorganization, a complete lack of offense and no defense seemed to be the cause. Ugh. Since everyone was busy dying midfield, I grabbed the flag solo and ghost-wolfed it back to our flag room. Suddenly cries of, "let them win" and "drop the flag" went up over chat. Another chimes in with, "lets get this over with, I have #%?# to do." I angrily drop the flag and type, "pfft nice attitude."

Then I see Complaint Registered.

Are you kidding me? Someone effing reported me for wanting to win?!

Now in some BGs, there does come a tipping point when "just let them win" becomes appropriate. Like in Arathi Basin when you find yourself holding 1 node to their 4, with a 1,000 resource point deficit. OK fine, let them win. Warsong Gulch, however, is not AB.

L2WSG, quitters.