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...