Friday, 28 August 2015

PvP spec choice

Well, there it is. You know, the start of WoD was the first time I'd properly considered main switching from my shaman. Elemental was in a particularly sorry state, and resto wasn't really an option for me as the guild had a wealth of healers. I really didn't want to change, but up until the last moment it seemed like the logical decision to switch to my hunter. Fortunately, we received numerous bandaids along the way to keep us above water in PvE, so I didn't have to.

But the situation in PvP never improved, so for that I did make the main switch. I find shaman PvP frustrating at the best of times, but having elemental lose everything that made them workable in the past, I just couldn't do it, and committed to playing my hunter instead. This tweet, suggesting nothing will change until Legion at the earliest, completely vindicates that decision.

In 6.1, I grinded out all the nemesis quests in Ashran, earning Warlord of Draenor, something I would never have stuck at on my shaman. So I've got mixed feelings - I know I made the right decision, but I'm still unhappy that I couldn't PvP on my main without hating it. And I'm a little angry with Blizzard's continuing apathy.

As for a spec change? Playing enhance doesn't entice me, particularly when their effectiveness seems to be limited to 1 or 2 compositions in arena, which I do not enjoy. Resto is bearable if you've got friends to peel off you - hard to come by. Now that I've 'finished' Ashran on my hunter, I can be effective in there by free casting heals in the middle of a pack of 30 players, but it is not very engaging or rewarding. However, resto is totally unsuitable for farming Bloody Coins - up to 1350 out of 2000 on my hunter. Getting that many killing blows as a healer, while transformed, would take me a decade.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


Earlier this year, one of my priorities was to get Shadowmourne on my death knight, and because my mind was already focused on that, I'd go in and kill the Lich King on my other max level characters as well, for a chance at the mount. But once I got Shadowmourne, other priorities took over and I stopped doing it for the most part.

But after reading a tip from Big Bear Butt I figured I'd take in a couple of characters that I ordinarily wouldn't clear the whole instance with as it'd be too slow - my moonkin (that was my WoD free boost) and my 92 warlock. I hadn't played my lock for some time - it has been sitting dormant waiting for flying so I can level it - but figured I could stumble my way to a kill.

The first attempt, I forgot to dismiss my demon pet, and didn't set up a demonic circle of course, so I got dropped off the edge by a valkyr. It was pretty slow going, as I tried to remember what buttons to press and deal with all the adds I ignore completely on my geared 100s, but eventually he went down and in addition to the achievements for killing him, there it was. Invincible's Reins.

It's not like it was my first kill ever, but there was some amazement and satisfaction at getting it on my first kill on that character. Unfortunately my lock is over on Barthilas and it was about midnight, so no-one was on to see it happen. But I quickly jumped back onto my shaman to check it out.

Now normally, by the time I've farmed the heck out of a place, using the mount is actually secondary to not having to run the instance again. For instance, after getting Mimiron's Head, I started using it just for the jealousy factor, but it didn't suit my cow much and the noises it makes are annoying, so I quickly put it away. But despite the inevitable tauren clipping issues, Invincible has gone straight into my favourite mounts list.

It's no longer really prestigious - there were a stream of people flying into ICC solo, and, well, if my lock can kill it without a struggle, anyone can. But it looks great, is recognisable, pleasant to ride around on, and I can cross ICC off my to do list. Ohh, how good is this? (reference)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The 1 percent

We've had some interesting new boss kills lately. A couple have been 1-2 players left standing, bringing relief that we didn't miss it by that much. And we also had a few progression kills on the 'last attempt for the night'. It is a pleasant surprise when you figure attention would be wavering and performance slipping at that point. Sometimes with some luck, you just pull it off.

Fel Lord Zakuun is one of those fights where it doesn't take much learning to reach the 'enrage' part of the fight, but then everything gets hectic and being down a couple of players or low on healer mana matters. It then needs time to improve the execution of the fight as a whole to ensure a kill. So it seemed a natural fight where it might happen again.

On our last attempt, we wiped below 1% for the second time of the night - the agony and humour in seeing the last man fall certainly provides a spark to the raid. These close calls make for memorable boss kills when they come, which I'm certain will be next raid.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


I picked up the Hexcells pack on Steam during one of the sales recently. Hexcells is a relaxing puzzle game that involves using logic to uncover a blue pattern in a hex grid in a way that is reminiscent of Minesweeper.

The primary mechanism is a grey cell type that contains a number showing how many adjacent cells are blue. The game introduces further mechanics as you progress through the levels, such as the number of blue cells in a given row, and the pacing is pretty good.

Each puzzle gives you a starting point, and while there is some freedom in how you solve it, for the most part the solution unfolds logically. Completing a puzzle rewards you with a predetermined number of hexes, which are required to unlock later puzzles. If you make a mistake, this is subtracted from the hex reward count, however the unlock requirement is quite lenient. You can play at your own pace, there are no timers or real score mechanics, so there is no need to guess; the satisfaction comes in finding the logical solution and solving it with no mistakes.

The first game is relatively simple, and short as a result - expect to finish it in a couple of hours. The puzzles get more complex from there so you'll get more time out of those, and the third game adds a random seed mode that I have yet to try, and mid-level progress saves that are sorely missed in the second game.

The game has an ambient background noise that when combined with the notes played when uncovering cells creates a relaxing soundtrack, but it gets repetitive particularly when you get momentarily stuck. I'd have liked an option to disable the background track, in addition to a complete mute button.

This type of game is right up my alley, requires thinking but isn't stressful, and can be played in short bursts. I would recommend the pack (I got it for under $US 3) and playing through them in order, over picking up just one installment.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

All the wrong upgrades

New raid week, we started upstairs first and Iskar dropped Surefooted Chain Treads (socketed) which are heroic BiS even without the socket, would have been stupid not to take them. Later, clearing the earlier bosses, Kormrok dropped protector helm and no-one else needed it. I had normal helm so again it would have been stupid not to take it. Both great upgrades, but neither filled the gaps and there goes my EP advantage.

So off to Archimonde normal tonight, and we one shot it. Hoping again for the gavel or class trinket, used my last coin and got nothing but gold.

Off to work on heroic Xhul'horac, made steady progress throughout the night and killed it for the first time on our final attempt. Protector shoulder and Voidcore Greatstaff dropped. The shoulders would be a solid upgrade via a gear shuffle. But the staff was a 685/705 to 715 upgrade with the right stats - a definite priority.

Here's the beef. Tier goes up for bids first as usual, and I bid pending the weapon result. I would have won it, but given an option to take it or leave it, I passed in favour of the weapon. Unfortunately, one of our warlocks also wanted it and, due to the above upgrades, he now had priority. Walked away empty handed and a bit jaded, but got over it soon enough, just gotta take what you can get.

Still need to do something about the weapon though. Was planning on running Kazzak's tomorrow night for Felblight but maintenance has thrown those plans out the window too. Fully expecting Kilrogg to finally drop his weapon the moment I bite the bullet and craft, thus why I'd rather farm the mats than buy them. Just seems a bit silly crafting at this stage when theoretically, so many other options should be available to me.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Personal loot

My guild is currently considering a change to personal loot from master loot. This is commencing with a trial in normal runs, and whilst the change would not occur mid tier in heroic, the idea has received a favourable reception from those that spoke up about it.

The up front reasoning that it is better is that a) it drops more loot, and b) it makes looting quicker and removes any loot drama. I totally buy into the second point, and it is a strong positive. However I was skeptical about the first being beneficial, and didn't want to take it at face value.

A fairly lengthy discussion took place that then made me look like I'm more for master loot than I actually am. Rather I wanted to understand why personal was better rather than just rely on anecdotal evidence.

I could not discern how the quantity of the loot was of primary concern, and not that to get more loot, we have to give up any say in how it is distributed, and give in completely to the roll of the dice. More loot is not important, only more useful loot (upgrades). And personal loot increases the chance of receiving loot that is not useful.

I also questioned why Blizzard would want one loot system to be superior to the others, but arrived at the conclusion that it would simplify and reduce the number of loot related support tickets they receive. So it wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

I was directed to this watercooler discussion where changes to personal loot in 6.2 were highlighted. This basically smoothed out the rewards from boss to boss to give more consistent results, so experiences prior to Hellfire Citadel should not be considered. Some of the other points discussed included:

  • Minor upgrades more likely to be used - people don't "waste" GP on small stat increases, to save it for the big ones.
  • Raid doesn't get loot no-one can use - for example, rogue gear and our lack of rogues.
  • Can't assign gear to most needed or deserving, or for tier, those completing set bonuses.
  • Can't send BoE gear and disenchanted gear to the guild bank - less gold available for guild repairs.
  • No incentive to turn up on time or stay for the whole raid.

Given there are valid reasons for both systems, the crux of it seems to be that the increase in total loot received needs to be greater than the increase in duplicate/downgrade loot received, otherwise it is a net loss.

As this ratio decreases with every rewarding boss kill, it would make the most sense to use personal loot for the first 2 or 3 kills of a boss, and switch to master looter for farm kills to assign loot efficiently and still feed the guild bank.

If EPGP were abandoned under this system, any competition for master looted drops would have to come down to loot council, or a roll. However, it could still work with EPGP - we just may need to compensate in some way for the upfront increase as a result of not accumulating GP for the first few weeks.

Of course, the luckier ones who get more of their loot via personal loot will have higher EPGP and therefore preference to master looted gear, but luck is already a significant factor with bonus rolls, and it tends to even out over time.

I can't say I'd be in favour of a complete switch to personal loot, but utilising it to maximise opportunities on progression kills, and minimise loot distribution delays, makes sense.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Normal HFC cleared

With the portal to bypass Gorefiend now open to us, there was the possibility of reaching Archimonde on our Sunday normal run. Tyrant only took 1 go, and Mannoroth 2, so we got some time to learn it. It was pretty much straight to phase 3 from the get go, but from there it was untidy. The officers determined we would do better to continue on him the next night with our heroic raid team, rather than trying heroic Xhul'horac. Finally, a chance to spend my EP and get a class trinket, jahaha!

I feel like I've been slipping on performance a bit, relatively, so there were 3 upgrades I was banking on; weapon, tier shoulders (to make 4-set), and the aforementioned class trinket.

For the weapon, I'd been waiting on Fallen Warlord's Mindcarver from Heroic Kilrogg, leaving Kormrok's dagger and Gorefiend's staff (both mastery items) to others - but it hasn't been dropping. I was considering the crafted weapon but went with bracers instead, as I already had a pair with the right stats that became BiS when fully upgraded. It has now reached 'take whatever you can get' stage.

For the tier, I was after the shoulders as I'd already picked up a Jungle Flayer's Chestguard (socketed) for off piece. We went to Xhul'horac first and two protector tokens dropped, but I was outrolled by 2 hunters. Later on, after they picked up 4-set off Socrethar, I was outrolled again on the Mannoroth chest but passed on it for me - not ideal but 4-set nonetheless, I couldn't refuse the gesture. The other chest piece remains in my bags for now.

And so Archimonde... still a chance to pick up a much needed trinket or weapon. We managed to kill him on the last pull of the night, with only a couple of people left standing. We weren't aware that if 3 people don't soak the Nether Banish, Archimonde heals for 5%. Someone made the call for a tank to eat it solo, and it very nearly could have been a sub 1% wipe as a result.

Alas, a trinket was not to be. The raid had favoured personal loot instead of EPGP for that kill, and predictably the rolls did not go my way. Hopefully this week.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Demon Hunters

When death knights were introduced, a lot of people planned on rolling one straight away when WotLK landed, and potentially main change if they liked what they saw. From what I remember at the time, the enhancement shaman community in particular took a hit because the DK could fill a similar role and style, with their recent design (shaman having not received a class review), plate armor and hero class status making them superior. We can expect that there will be a similar influx to demon hunters, but I wonder if rogues and demonology warlocks will be impacted more than other classes due to role or identity?

The announcement suddenly made more sense of some 6.2 spec changes. Demonology locks were hit by the nerf bat pretty hard, and the reasoning given was that they didn't like the way it played, and to promote the use of the other 2 specs. They were in a pretty strong place in BRF, but players couldn't make sense of the severity of the nerf, and speculated that it was a scaling or tier/class trinket issue in Hellfire Citadel. But in hindsight it seems that it was because demon hunters would be taking some of the identity of the spec, and having demo really strong/popular at the time of the announcement would have taken more shine off it than otherwise.

That might seem a bit of a stretch in isolation, but survival hunters were also nerfed heavily, and it would seem now that was because they had plans in place to rebuild it as a melee spec, and it's just easier if it isn't FOTM. Not that I agree with the approach, but it makes more sense looking at it that way.

I had expected any new class addition to the game would be a mail wearer, because there are 3 classes for each type of armor except for mail, which is only shaman and hunter. Blizzard this weekend explained that they considered mail for demon hunters but it didn't fit the class identity, and that having 4 classes wear leather won't be an issue because of personal loot. Interesting, as we still use ML/EPGP... would like to see stats on that.

On the other hand, demon hunters will be put on the conqueror token, making 4 classes on each. Not that it impacts our current raid group, having 0 mages and rogues, and over half the raid on protector tokens.

The class concept and lore is pretty cool I admit. What they play like, we only have a glimpse so far, but the standout features are listed as 'unrivaled' mobility, metamorphosis, and spectral sight. For mobility, they have the ability to double jump, glide, and 'vault in and out of combat' - probably Metamorphosis and Demonic Leap straight out of demonology. However I can't help but think of Shadowstep as well. I don't see double jumping as gamebreaking - anything other than clearing small obstacles would get patched out pretty quickly, especially in PvP. Gliding sounds like a steerable moonkin flap (which I love - but probably just because it is cute). Spectral sight is likely to be an activated ability that is only useful in arenas.

I also saw a note today that demon hunters would get glaives as a new weapon type, coming as a pair that fills both weapons slots. Now that will work fine for artifact weapons given weapon drops won't be available, but I can't imagine the idea of a weapon type for only one class existing beyond that. Enhancement shaman getting Doomhammer as their artifact are reportedly dual wielding a spectral duplicate of it, perhaps that will operate similarly to glaives when equipped.

All up, I am slightly intrigued and will inevitably use my 12th character slot for a demon hunter, but I'm a shaman through and through. I will roll one long past the initial rush is over.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Tiny Terrors

I've only just this weekend started looking at the Tanaan Jungle pet battles. I have some reservations about pet battling, but primarily it was just because I had other priorities, like the reputations and the shipyard. But I've long since cleared those up and the PvP pet battle event reminded me that I should take a look at them.

My doubts were confirmed when a guildie, who is a really experienced pet battler, said you can basically use one team of pets to defeat all of the new battles. It's less that one team can do so that is the problem, more that there are few alternatives that work. The encounters are made difficult by introducing abilities outside the base ruleset (like Elite and now Fel Corruption) that have the unfortunate side effect of rendering most pet teams incapable of defeating them, even if they counter the pet types. So pet battling to me just becomes an exercise in research - I don't enjoy it enough to self-impose a "no Google" rule. With an addon like Rematch or PetBattle Teams I don't even need to remember what works.

So I've done the circuit twice and it already feels like a grind. I started off thinking that if I could do these 15 battles daily, it would only take 4-5 months to get the Draenor Pet Brawler achievement/monument (laughs). But without flight, it takes at least 90 minutes to go around, making it unlikely I will complete the circuit every day.

The reward for defeating each pet is Fel-Touched Pet Supplies - the tooltip explains it. I opened all 15 at once and noted the contents:
There are 4 pets to be earned randomly from the bags, and I suspect once I have got them all, I will stop doing the pet battles - the other rewards are not worth the time. The bandages in particular just seem to stack up, because the garrison menagerie bonus makes Revive Battle Pets a 4 minute cooldown, so by the time you defeat a pet and run to the next one, it is available to use again. The bandages may be useful once flight is available, however.

I don't know what could be done to keep these pet battles difficult, but require a more varied pet collection to defeat. But doing so would provide a lot of motivation to collect and level some of my other pets. It seems a shame that I have 533 unique pets in my collection but only need a handful for battling.

By the way, I used my Ultimate Battle-Training Stone from the weekend bonus event to level a Zandalari Anklerender, which happens to be a member of one of the Tanaan capable teams.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Legion reveal

I was considering staying up for the expansion announcement all week, the schedule had it at 2am AEST which was a bit of a stretch for me on a work night, but doable. This was until a guildie pointed out that they usually draw out events like this and it could be hours until the reveal occurred. But, I was still wide awake come 1am so I committed to finding out, and fortunately the wait wasn't that long.

There was skepticism leading up to the announcement, what could Blizzard possibly do to right the ship, what could they announce that would get people excited at this point. The answer seems to lie in the quantity. They aren't just tackling one of the popular expansion ideas, but seemingly many of them.

In our small late night guild gathering, the reaction was one that quickly moved from blasé to acceptance to amazement, as Blizzard pulled a Demtel and kept reeling off features that seemed to cover so many of the theories and long standing appeals for future expansion content.

"But wait, there's more"

It is an ambitious list, some questions arise naturally about whether they can pull it off that only time will tell. Will the quality stand up, will adequate attention be given to all the locations and lore, or will we see features cut and storylines resolved in short questlines?

And then there's the when. WoW expansion betas have lasted between 3 and 6 months in the past, so with the Legion beta starting "later this year", it is unlikely to make a Christmas release. The only expansion to date to be released in the first half of the year was the Burning Crusade, and that was a date slipped for quality control. The Blizzard of today seems unlikely to do this, so it'll be interesting to see what their target dates are.

For now the main question I have regards the location and size of the Broken Isles. Based on past representations, it was a chain of small islands, some of many, that surrounded the maelstrom. Other times it has been considered part of the South Seas, where Pandaria now largely occupies. In the announcement, it is described as a new continent 'at the heart of Azeroth' - wherever that is. From what we saw of the maelstrom in Cataclysm, it may just be a case of it being over-represented on the old maps, and with a little 'adjustment' the new continent fits in easily. Or has the Broken Isles' location been retconned to sit somewhere else completely, such as on the opposite side of the world from the maelstrom?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fulmination chain

I've had 2 pieces of tier 18 for a week or so now. The elemental 2-set bonus states:
Your Earth Shock has a 45% chance not to consume any Lightning Shield charges and to have its cooldown instantly reset.
What this means is that when you earth shock, to drop your lightning shield stacks into a fulmination, a proc allows you to instantly cast it again for the same effect. The extra cast also gives the set bonus another chance to proc, meaning you can get lucky and chain multiple earth shocks/fulminations in a row.

These are independent events, meaning two procs in a row, resulting in 3 earth shocks, has a 0.45 x 0.45 = 20.3% or roughly 1 in 5 chance of occurring. This continues as follows:
4 in a row - 9.1%
5 in a row - 4.1%
6 in a row - 1.8%
and so on.
The first time I had 6 earth shocks in a row I was briefly shocked, until I got a moment to think about it and realised you could easily experience that a couple of times in a raid night. When I had 9 in a row, I thought I probably wouldn't beat that for a while. But on our heroic iskar attempts, I had a new personal record of 11 earth shocks in a row.

This did cause a 'holy shit' moment, where I had to bring up the calculator and figure the probability of that happening - 0.034% or a roughly 1 in 2940 chance. I hope to beat that at some point, although I suspect it might be a once in a raid tier level event.

For now I will save my thoughts on the set bonus until after I get my fourth piece and I can see the interaction with the 4 set bonus.

A quick final note, last night I ran LFR to get the last 5 Tomes of Chaos I needed to form the legendary ring Nithramus. I look forward to trying it out, but I am only aware of 2 others in our raid team having it so far, so the full effectiveness won't be visible just yet.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


A little bit about my WoW history.

My main is my first character, a tauren shaman named Crooked. I started off on Barthilas, in a guild with a bunch of players from my previous addiction, Wolfenstein/Enemy Territory.

I was a reluctant WoW player at first, having seen friends 'disappear' into it, but eventually succumbed towards the end of vanilla. I first started raiding as resto in Karazhan, and continued with Ostralyan Pain (OP) throughout the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. I levelled to 80 as enhancement with the intention to raid, but changed to elemental as the raid team already had 2 enhance. And I've been ele main spec since.

Making a good early case for transmog

I enjoyed my time with OP, raiding in both a 25 man group and a 10 man group. But when the cataclysm came and made both raid sizes the same lockout, the guild was divided, and many left to form a 10 man guild. The remaining old guard lost interest, and OP bled to death*. At this point I quit the game, returning in 5.4 to check out a discounted Mists of Pandaria. It was then that mozzey, an old guildmate, suggested I transfer to Saurfang and join him, and that's how I ended up in Frostwolves.

(*OP was deserted, but has since been resurrected with new blood for WoD by a couple of returning players).

I enjoy most aspects of the game barring arenas and "world pvp" - having experienced both PVP and PVE, I now much prefer PVE servers.

I am a moderate achievement hunter and completionist. I persist with things I mightn't otherwise if there is an achievement at the end of it, but I have little desire to grind things out for the sake of it. As an example, I love trying to collect pets, but I only level what I need to defeat opponents and get achievements.

I have a passive interest in the 'state of shaman' and shaman theorycraft as a result of playing and raiding on my shaman for a long time.

I have a number of alts including at level 100 a death knight, hunter, druid and paladin on horde, and recently I reached max level for the first time on an alliance rogue. I have a few more that are parked that I am considering levelling up once flying is available in Draenor.

You can view my armory here.

Monday, 3 August 2015


I've been considering starting a blog for a little while, and the timing of the announcement of the next wow expansion provided a good opportunity to just jump into it instead of perpetually holding off. If it turns out it's not my thing, so be it.

I still feel it's a bit of a precarious time to be starting a warcraft related blog. Firstly, the game is over 10 years old, and whilst the idea of a new expansion holds a lot of hope, so did Warlords of Draenor, and myself and many others have been disappointed by that in many ways. There seems to be more doomsaying now than ever. That said, I'm still playing and still enjoying it, so I simply decided to not give the blog a wow related name. That way I can blog about whatever has my interest at the time - which, lets face it, will probably be wow. More on that later.

I don't personally believe anyone wants to know the daily ins and outs of what I'm doing. But I envision dumping thoughts on whatever is happening at the time, and hopefully improve my writing skills in the process. I don't write much, and whenever I have tried it might turn out okay, but it is very slow going. Even when it comes to things like work emails, it takes me a while to translate my thoughts into words, and I am overly meticulous and critical. I hope this is just being out of practice, and would like to develop the ability to do quick, sharp, interesting posts. However, I have resolved to not be attached to it, for it not to become a chore, and therefore won't be setting any real targets.

Next up, a bit of history.