Friday, March 27, 2009
With a futuristic helicopter in one hand and an icicle made of thunder in the other, my rogue is more than ready for Ulduar. From our Naxx 25 pugs, he's in best-in-slot gear except for two minor upgrades I could still grab. With this spec and a 4s/5r rotation, glyphs of SS, blade flurry, and rupture, and gemming for agility, I can pull 4k dps average on bosses, with more like 4500 on Patchwerk with decent raid buffs (still never had a feral druid for the bleed debuff, where are all of them?) I see reports all over EJ about other classes, particularly DKs and hunters, blasting off 5-6k dps with gear that can't possibly be any better than mine, though. At first, it made me wonder what I might be doing wrong. I know I wasn't getting Hysteria, and had no other rogue to trade Tricks with. Maybe I was missing a few more buffs, and maybe I could time my cooldowns better with my buff procs. Then I saw the list of rogue buffs and DK/hunter nerfs in the 3.1 patch notes and realized my mistake had been made at the character select screen, not in a raid. I cannot wait to see what I can do when the patch hits!
But having written that, I wonder: why should I have bothered talking about it? I always enjoyed Tobold's (and others') "WoW Journal" posts where they write about what they've been doing in-game. There's some voyeuristic enjoyment there in seeing what the neighbors are doing, and comparing it to your own experience a bit. But would anybody get enjoyment out of what I just posted? Unlike Tobold's posts, my experience is hardly representative of the average gamer's experience. Judging by sites like wow-heroes, only a tiny fraction of wow players have achieved my level of dps or gear. So will others get interest and enjoyment out of me talking about my life, or will they just not care (or worse, be turned against me by jealousy or whatever)? I know from experience that mentioning my dps or gear publicly is an easy way to turn people against me. In one recent comments section on another blog, I got attacked based on a series of untrue assumptions that went well beyond what I had revealed. Because I did high dps and dared think that was more valuable than poor dps, I became a strawman scapegoat, being attacked and blamed for grievances the other commenters had against either people from their past, or elitists (who are somehow, at the same time, ignorant of all the wisdom the poor player is privy to) they imagined. There are some I've met who have a deep-seated, ingrained hate for anyone that performs well, as though we are ruining it for everyone else and deserve to get cut down to size. I've never really understood it. Maybe I'm coming off as elitist and egotistical right now and will turn some people off. Sadly, I can't tell, and am just going to write what I want to rather than worrying about it.
So my rogue is anxiously awaiting Ulduar, with a Webbed Death and a new spec waiting in the wings for when dual-weapon spec dies its silent death. We are so getting the rusted proto-drake! I like downing easy bosses as much as the next guy, but man, the fact that Algalon the Raid Destroyer doesn't even have a normal mode (only hard!) gives me a brain-boner.
My guild has been quietly debating how to deal with the new dungeon, along the same lines as Ixo's and Tobold's posts on the subject. Do we go in cold and figure out the strats on our own? Do we research the strats ahead of time so we can clear the place as fast as possible (what can I say, we like prestige)? Or something in between?
We've pretty much landed on wanting to mostly learn the fights ourselves, though we may stumble upon a spoiler here and there while reading MMO-Champion or something. But there's one wrinkle: we have a Human Spoiler. Most of my guildies are mature, and this guy is technically an adult, but he has this need to prove his knowledge to everyone else. He's that guy who will jump in and try to answer every question first just to show that he knows it. His main hobby is debate team, forchrissakes. He seriously does live with his mom. You know the type: one of those argumentative nerds who is a nice guy, and quite booksmart, but has no social skills whatsoever. He views everything in terms of whether or not it makes him look knowledgeable and "right". He's a good guy, and an excellent player, but his personality can grate sometimes. And he's been known to act as a sort of WoWInsider/MMO-Champion dictophone, like some sort of demonic automatic text-to-voice malware that got hacked into our vent server. You probably have one of those in your guild too:
"Hey guys, a new patch just came out on the PTR! Let me read every change to you, even though you can read it yourself and probably already have and most of the changes don't interest you!"
"Well this is interesting"
[Waits for response, no on responds because it's an obvious fish for attention. If it's interesting, tell us what it is instead of trying to bait us and get us to ask you what it is that's so interesting.]
[proceeds to read you something from WoWInsider that you already read, that for the record wasn't even that interesting the first time you read it.]
This is also the same guy who will jump on you every time you slack off because he needs to prove he knows more about your class than you do.
"Hey, why didn't you use [obscure move only EJ readers know] here?" [You usually do, but didn't bother this time.]
"Hey, I know we are in the middle of an intense attempt on Sarth plus 2 drakes, but I noticed that our resto druid wasn't using the lulls in healing to melee Sarth to get mana back from my judgment of wisdom! I better clutter vent by telling the druid to do that in a voice that implies I think the druid is stupid (since I don't have any other tone of voice). At least people will notice that I'm doing something they didn't think of!"
Anyway, this Human Spoiler WILL know the fights ahead of time, and will be desperate to show us all how well he can read Stratfu summaries and parrot them back. Honestly, the only counter I as raid leader have against him is to know the strategies myself, which I don't really want to do. So I'm stuck trying to figure out if I'll participate in this spoiler arms race, or figure out some other way of dealing with this . . . challenging quality of an otherwise good guy.
OK, somehow I got on another tangent there.
On the flip side, I've been going back to my DK alt a bit. She's been 80 for a few months now, and over that time I've gathered a pretty good pair of kits, one for dps and one for tanking, from a mix of heroics, guild alt runs of naxx, and pug voa/os runs. Just to highlight the class differences a bit more, my DK is at least a tier below my rogue in gear, and yet I can do about 3500 dps on average with 25 man buffs (with this spec). I know I'm playing both classes reasonably well and getting similar buffs, so I'm definitely seeing some justification to buffs to rogue raid dps. But that's just from my perspective.
I've been very excited about my tanking set ever since I offtanked our 8-man near-Undying (one death to ice block on KT in the entire run). I got a very nice axe off KT (note to Blizz: that's how you itemize a DK weapon!), and wanted to make sure all of my gear was maxed out in case I was needed for more achievement runs, and because min/maxing my character is part of the game's fun for me. Since my rogue is sitting on 75 emblems of valor with nothing to spend them on, I picked up the epic tanking boe bracers (to replace my crafted blue), and ran a voa 25 on the DK to get the last two valor emblems I needed to pick up the tanking cape, replacing the crappy armor cape off maexxna 10.
DK's were given two big boons in the most recent live patch to help them reach the necessary uncrittability defense number of 540 defense skill: a rune and a sigil (note this sigil has a 100% chance of a 30 second buff, effectively granting a passive 53 defense rating). But the math seems to show that the other tanking runeforge enchant, which gives 4% parry, offers much better overall tanking value, particularly because it's not subject to diminishing returns like parry and dodge ratings are. Since I'm hitting a ridiculous 54% combined dodge/parry during combat in just my naxx 10 level gear (that will go down by 10 in 3.1), diminishing returns are becoming a real concern. So I decided to pick up the +defense enchant to cape and replace all my blue stam gems with green def/stam gems, and all my green gems with yellow +def gems. I ended up also having to sacrifice one of my expertise gems for a def/exp gem, but I just barely managed to stay at defense cap while switching runes on my weapon. The net effect is that I traded a small amount of health for a nice big chunk of parry (which also acts as a threat stat!). This is made even better by the fact that I tank as unholy (here's my current spec), meaning I focus on avoidance to keep Bone Shield up as long as possible.
My threat was a little low in our naxx10 run compared to the paladin main tank (yeah, he was better geared, and I know pally threat is a bit high right now, but whatever, I'm a perfectionist), so I also focused my build a bit around threat and aimed to pile on some +hit and +expertise (it's a big problem for my cycle when plague strike is dodged, let me tell you). I'm not anywhere near the cap, but wherever I didn't need +defense, I stacked expertise, and I chose gear with +hit on it. I managed to only be about .07% below the melee hit cap and reach 18 expertise (25ish is the cap). Not bad, but that's one area where better gear would make a major difference. Right now I'm struggling just to stay at defense cap without having to change my runeforge back.
Finally, there's my leveling projects.
Also, being a huge Penny Arcade whorefanboy, I have an ongoing habit of trying to play on the Alliance side of the Dark Iron server (where there's a set of allied guilds all started by the group who played there with Gabe and Tycho back in the day). I also love Draenei. So seeing an opportunity, I forsook the old level 30 shaman I had on that server from my TBC attempt to join the PA Alliance, and Hatchthulu the Draenei Blood Death Knight was born!
Meanwhile, my old druid alt is slowly climbing through Northrend (74 right now). He was pure resto at 70, and had been leveled as a Moonkin. Though I played a feral druid as my main all the way to AQ40 in vanilla wow, I just didn't have the heart to set up all the buttons and macros that would be needed to manage bear and cat forms with my control setup. Last week, I had a hankering to try kitty levelling, and now that I've spent an hour getting every button on my keyboard doing three different things depending on what form I'm in, I haven't looked back. The leveling feels much faster than Moonkin, but maybe that's just me.
Besides, I get enough caster gameplay out of my Mage, who finally hit 68 and ventured into Northrend 2 nights ago. He's rocking 3 heirloom items and just blasting up the levels while seemingly invincible with a deep, deep Frost build. I never played a clothie before, and never thought I would enjoy a mage, but shatter combos are pretty fun, and I'm still psyched about the idea of playing Arcane when I hit 80. The complexity of the rotation and the ability to tailor your damage to your desired mana consumption is intriguing, as are the PvP possibilities of instant invisibility and a major instant-cast Arcane Barrage. I anticipate that much like my dual-Unholy DK, I'll be dual-speccing my mage into two different Arcane specs.
Unfortunately, there's no time to play all of these characters and also have a life, so it will be months if not years before I've gotten them all to 80 and gotten to experience the really fun part of doing 5-mans and raiding with new characters that freshen the game experience for me. And that's not even touching the hunter, warlock, paladin, or warrior that I leveled with Recruit a Friend!
WTB hired help that will level my alts for me, PST.
Wow, one could write an entire blog post just about the implications of that statement. But I think it's time for me to actually start the Laziness part of my Friday. White Horse, here I come!