Archive for July, 2012

The Mists are Clearing

Mists of Pandaria

It’s official folks, Mists of Pandaria will ship on 25th September.

Pre-orders are now available via your account:

  • Standard Edition (priced at $39.99/£29.99/€34.99)
  • Digital Deluxe Edition (priced at $59.99/£39.99/€49.99) – Comes with an “exclusive” mount & pet

EVE Update

I’m pretty much exclusively playing WoW again, but my EVE accounts are still active; one expires 21st August, the other 28th August (I can’t remember which way round they are.) Since I’ve pre-paid for them I’ve decided to continue training my characters but have elected to deviate from my original plan and have been training both Jez & Jhiqui to fly a pair of Ravens.

I had to essentially start anew as neither had any skill points in missiles or Caldari ships. I set myself the goal of achieving a minimum of rank 3 in all the missile support skills before training Cruise Missiles and both are now about a week away from being about to board a fully fitted ship and start tearing stuff up.

Here’s the fitting I’m going with (resistances are tuned for Serpentis):

When my training plan is complete I should be looking at about 6-700 combined DPS vs my current 450ish DPS from Jez’s Navy Megathron. Alternatively, I could leave Jez in her Mega and buy Jhiqui a Navy Raven to get the most bang for my buck (probably closer to 800 DPS), I’d just need to find someone selling a CNR cheap! I’ve included a Tractor & Salvager mainly for BS wrecks and I’ll take a view on bringing back the Noctis for smaller hulks on a case by case basis.

I realise I could significantly increase the tank by equipping an X-Large Shield Booster II (I do have the skills for it) but I’m more comfortable being cap-stable until I get used to flying Caldari. Once I’m in the ships, I’ll continue training Cruise Missiles to rank 5 to gain access to Cruise Missile Specialisation & Cruise Launcher II which should take me roughly up to the end of my pre-paid time. Shield Boost Amplifier II requires a further 12 days training so will have to wait.

Only problem is, I’m not really all that sure when I’ll get a chance to try out my new toys.

Arrogance In Random Groups

Since coming back to WoW I’ve been running random dungeons (and raids) quite a bit and I’m gradually reaching some conclusions about a lot of the people that I encounter.


The Problem

The problem seems to stem from the fact that a lot of people don’t want to heal or tank. Both roles are, generally, more work than simply going DPS…

  • Gear choices are more critical
    While you can probably get away with slightly sub-par gear as DPS who wants a tank that gets one-shot by the first boss they meet or a healer that goes OOM on the first group of trash you pull?
  • Situational awareness is arguably even more important
    There’s any number of boss mechanics that are designed to catch tanks and healers out. Massive (AoE) damage spikes, debuffs that require tank swaps etc.
  • Lack of “measurable” performance
    DPS have tools like Recount or Skada to gauge their performance against each other. Healers can arguably use the same tools to see how they’re doing, but healing assignments in 25 player raids often make this less clear. Tanks on the other hand have nothing.

What this causes is a notable imbalance in the population with significantly more people electing to play the “easy” (*) option of DPS. Because there are more DPS in the pool when you come to queuing for a dungeon tanks and (to a slightly lesser extent) healers are always in demand meaning that DPS have a significantly longer wait time for a group. A LFD group requires five players with a ratio of 3:1:1 (DPS:Heals:Tank). In reality, I’d guess that the population is probably closer to 30:2:1, maybe even worse. (I’ve waited for an hour on Wizzbit only to alt over to Jezebelle/Wizzadora and get instant queues.)


(*) I refer to DPS as being the easy option but I acknowledge that this isn’t always the case. Many players put in just as much effort playing DPS as tanks and healers do, in a few cases possibly more. For example, a well played Hunter can off-tank adds, crowd-control mobs, taunt stray mobs off other party members and misdirect them to the tank all while doing significant damage to the boss.


The Solution

In an attempt to combat this imbalance, Blizzard incentivise whichever role is currently most needed in LFD by using the “Call to Arms” system, offering Satchel of Exotic Mysteries as an additional reward for completing instances. I’m really not sure to what extent this works. If I’m queuing for a random it’s because I want something for the alt I’m queuing with and  I’d guess the same could be said for a lot of people.

Since I generally queue as those roles that get offered bags anyway and I hardly ever think “Oh, that role is on Call to Arms. I’ll alt!” so it’s not really an incentive at all, just a nice extra reward for something I was going to do anyway. For example; Yesterday I logged in Jez to cap out her Valor Points for the week. I checked LFD and tanks were Call to Arms, bonus! I finished the dungeon (End Time), thanked the group and checked my bag… 55g and Parrot Cage (Hyacinth Macaw) (the least common item to get in the bag) – Current market price on Eitrigg? 20k gold. Thanks Blizz!


The Outcome

What happens is that you get people who (for whatever reason) want to play DPS but realise that the queue times are significantly longer. While people complain about this on forums, they generally suck it up and go farming or do dailies while they wait. Unfortunately, there are a few that don’t and instead queue for roles they’re not really suited for. Here’s a few examples I’ve encountered recently:

  • Hour of Twilight: Pally tank in full DPS gear with a 1h sword, no shield and Ret talents. This guy didn’t even attempt to pass himself off as a tank, he literally queued as a tank and tried to get away with it.
    Outcome: Vote Kicked after wiping on the first boss.
  • Well of Eternity: Druid healer in feral (cat) gear. His guild-mate was queued as DPS but insisted on running around in bear-form taunting off me. The original tank had seemingly left after the first boss and we wiped on a trash pack between the first and second bosses.
    Outcome: After wiping again on the second boss I left the group.
  • End Time: Priest healer in full crafted PVP blues. First boss; he went OOM part way through the fight and died at around 10-15%, boss died anyway. Second boss; he went OOM almost immediately and died. Druid battle-res’d him and he promptly died again. (I don’t know how but we managed to kill the boss without the healer). Final boss, I died right after the pull as I didn’t get any heals at all. We did (just) manage to kill the boss, but we needed to use all 5 turns of the hour glass mainly due to the healer going OOM.
    Outcome: Completed, but painful
  • End Time: Unholy DK, it’s not all tanks/healers either as this guy showed. The first trash pull he popped Army of the Dead and still managed to be bottom of the damage meter by a significant margin. First boss (Sylvanas) he died early on, got battle res’d and almost instantly died again. He then spent the remainder of the fight begging to be res’d rather than releasing and running back in.
    Outcome: Vote Kicked after a repeat performance on the second boss.
  • Hour of Twilight: I joined a group in progress (never a good start), clearing trash between first and second boss. The tank had seemingly left mid-pull and the healer left just as I joined, instant wipe ensued. As we were running back a Priest joined, his first comment on seeing us all dead was “Oh, another fucking Pally tank, that’s why you’re all dead!” Someone mass-resed us and the priest got agro just as I hit accept. With no possible time for me to react, he died and immediately started spouting off further:
    He: “Tank, wtf was that? You just fuckin stood there and let me die!”
    Me: “Umm… I was dead?”
    He: “No you’re not fucker”
    Me: “…”
    He: “Fucking tank is shit, probably not even geared for this, VK his ass”
    Me: “Go fuck yourself kid” (Uncalled for I know, but he got my goat)
    Outcome:  I left the group, took the 30 minute LFD cooldown and alted to Wizzadora. I’m not about to spend my Sunday afternoon having someone talking shit to me.


My Conclusion

In general, I have encountered more bad groups when I’ve been queued as a tank than when I’ve been queued as a healer. This leads be me conclude that there is more arrogance in the healer population than any other group in WoW.

I realise that this could be a personal problem and that I might actually be a bad tank. However, without wishing to sound arrogant myself, I don’t believe this to be the case. I’ve been tanking for 5+ years, I read as much as I can about fights, I ask questions of more experienced players if I’m unsure of certain aspects and I spend (an obsessive amount of) time ensuring that I’m in the best gear I can be. I take pride in my knowledge of the game and try to pass this knowledge on to others when I can.

Generally, I see more healers giving people people shit in party chat than anyone else. Tanks and DPS seem to get on with their jobs while I frequently see healers pointing out low DPS or calling people out for missing mechanics. I admit that, when I’m healing, I do tend to notice people standing in fire a lot more (I’m the one that has to keep them alive after all) but I at least try to relay this to them in a constructive way: “Can you try and move when the boss casts that” rather than “Get one of the fire, idiot!”


I still absolutely love tanking, but I’m gradually moving towards the possibility of making my Priest my main when MoP rolls around.

Hunters Suck

Fresh from the Mists of Pandaria Beta…

Glyph of Fetch

What more proof is needed to show that Hunters are the ultimate farming class?


PS: I have a Hunter/Farming post in the works so stay tuned!

Dragon Soul – Differing Prespectives

I’ve run Dragon Soul a number of times with Wizzadora now and figured that I had a fairly good handle on what was going on. So, on Friday, I decided to make a concerted effort to get Jezebelle geared enough to queue as a tank and give this a try.


Getting In

My average item level was 370 (you need 372 to queue in LFR) so I started off running the 5 mans as this seemed to be the best source of gear for those slots that were pulling my iLevel down. I made a point of letting my groups know that this was my first time tanking those instances and actually had some decent runs…

Arrora (Resto/Balance Druid, Guild Master & Real Life Friend) joined me for End Time and, aside from a Rogue who ran off and got himself dead (*), the run went really smoothly. The last boss died in record time and everyone parted company with thanks all round. Nothing useful dropped for me, but it was good experience.

Arrora had to leave before Well of Eternity so I queued solo (tanks were on Call to Arms so I got a Satchel of Exotic Mysteries out of the deal.) The run went really fast, and I picked up a tank ring which I realised after was only a side-grade.

Lastly I ran Hour of Twilight which was probably the most interesting group. I stated it was my first time tanking the instance and was reassured that it wouldn’t be a problem (it wasn’t). As we progressed to the first boss I quipped that when I healed it a couple of days before the tank and been a Pally in DPS gear with a 1h sword, no shield and Ret talents. The Shaman in the group replied with “Hey! I was in that group too!!” and we all had a good laugh. The run was quick & clean and I picked up a new cloak & sword which bumped my iLevel a whole 1 point leaving me at 371.

Saturday morning I hit the instances again and after a couple of runs through LFD finally managed to snag a trinket for my Ret spec that let me cheese over the iLevel requirement for Dragon Soul.


(*) Side Note: The Rogue’s death was totally avoidable… We got Jaina as the first boss and while the group started clearing trash the Rogue decided to stealth off to the far side of the room and try to collect the staff fragments. As soon as he dropped stealth a pack of trash mobs saw him and he was dead. Here’s the bit that pisses me off though: He refused to release and run back because, you know, why bother when the healer can res him, right? He was the complete other side of the room with 4 trash packs between us. So he just laid there while the rest of us cleared wasting everyone else’s time.


We’re In!

The iLevel requirement well and truly cheesed I queued for The Siege of Wyrmrest Temple and almost instantly got a fresh group. Here’s my impressions…

  • Morchok: Pretty straight forward fight; My first time healing I worked out most of the mechanics, so wasn’t expecting too much that was new. The only thing I hadn’t noticed previously was the stacking sunder armor debuff he applies to the current tank. Pretty standard mechanic so without discussion, I let the other tank get four stacks then I taunted off him. He returned the favour at four stacks and we kept flipping back and forth from there. The boss died on the first attempt and I snagged my tier helm token, happy days.
  • Warlord Zon’ozz: I managed to pull agro off the main tank within the first 10 seconds of the fight and he never made any attempt to taunt back off me so I figure this is one-tank able, which was fine by me. I knew most of what was happening from healing so I just sucked it up and let the DPS do their thing. I threw out Divine Guardian during the AoE phase, since I know that’s the only hard part to heal through. The boss died and I collected some new bracers. Two bosses down, two upgrades!
  • Yor’sahj the Unsleeping: This time I communicated with the other tank, he suggested trading agro at 3 stacks which I agreed despite not really being aware of what the debuff was. No worries though, I quickly figured out he was referring to Void Bolt and after that it was all gravy. Boss fell over, on to the next.
  • Hagara the Stormbinder: I’ve seen this entire encounter single-tanked so I just let the other tank get on with it. During the first phase, I dutifully rounded up adds and brought them to the middle of the room to be AoE’d but aside from that I could probably have gone Ret. (I didn’t since I figure in LFR the other tank is an unknown and might die to the first Focused Assault the boss casts.)

Achievement gained, on to The Fall of Deathwing…

  • Ultraxion: I joined a group that had clearly already wiped to Ultraxion at least once given that there was no pre-boss trash to clear. We buffed, pulled and wiped. People started cussing each other out and the other tank kindly explained the mechanics to me in whispers. Turns out I was doing it wrong! I was treating it the same as when I heal and hitting Heroic Will during Hour of Twilight. Second attempt started with only 3 healers in the raid so you knew it was going to be bad. Still, I watched for Fading Light and hit Heroic Will with about 3 seconds left on the debuff. I died and got a b-res from a kindly Warlock. The other tank died twice and it was all over. Some very vocal DPS started spouting off about tank fail (the other tank started the fight) so I figured if I’m gonna get VK’d I’ll give them some feedback and pointed out that there were only 3 healers in the instance and that I was <10% health before the boss even cast Fading Light on me. A couple of people acknowledged this and then turned on the Druid tank, someone pointed out he was wearing all PVP gear and he promptly got the boot. Another Paladin tank replaced him (boo) and we got the boss to 5% before wiping again. More insults were thrown and anyone doing under 15k DPS got kicked. Last attempt went smooth as silk and the boss coughed up his epics.
    I have to say that I think Ultraxion is the hardest boss in Dragon Soul, the level of raid coordination far exceeds anything else in there and the slightest fuck up can quickly result in a wipe. That said, it’s also probably my favourite fight for those exact same reasons.
  • Warmaster Blackhorn: Another fight with a sunder that requires taunting. I taunted on the third stack this time as it was applying a 20% debuff each stack rather than the usual 10%, this seemed to work well enough. Unfortunately, the first attempt resulted in a wipe, mostly because too many people were taking avoidable damage. No one really complained this time and we rebuffed and pulled again. One other difference I spotted was the stacking Brutal Strike that gets applied in phase one. I found I could let this reach about 20 stacks (60k damage per tick) before the healers started to have trouble keeping my up at which point I hit my Divine Shield to wipe the stacks. The boss died on the second attempt and I picked up a new shield.
  • Spine of Deathwing: Spine feels as easy as a tank as it does as a healer. I mostly concentrated on rounding up bloods while the other tank took care of the amalgamations. We one-shotted the fight and moved on to Madness.
  • Madness of Deathwing: I think Madness is more of a healer fight than a tank fight. As long as you can get here, all it really tests is how long your healers can last. There wasn’t any aspect of the fight that I couldn’t handle tanking without much thought, I let the other tank handle Deathwing while I hung back to pick up the Mutated Corruption as soon as it spawned. He’d then taunt off me as soon as I got impaled and I’d fall back ready to pick up the Regenerative Bloods during Hemorrhage. We wiped on the first attempt as people were taking too much AoE damage on the fourth platform. Second attempt was flawless and we downed the boss with the whole raid alive.

All told, I’d say that Dragon Soul is more interesting as a tank. As I pointed out in guild after, you have much more awareness of what’s going on when you’re tanking vs when you healing. I think that this experience will be useful the next time I heal the raid as it gives me a better idea of *why* people are taking damage spikes at certain points in fights. Rather having to pop a cooldown and react to something that has happened, I should be able to have a big heal ready to roll on-queue.

I like both aspects of the raid as they each have their own challenges and I’m looking forward to having a DPS toon geared enough to run it from that perspective soon.

How do you make your gold?

I had a conversation with a guild-mate yesterday about the different ways we make gold.Seemingly we have a few things in common…

Like me, he’s just come back to WoW after having quit in the autumn (he left to play SW:ToR). Unlike me, before he left he gave away virtually all his gold leaving each of his toons with 100g. This puts him an interesting position as he flat out refuses to accept “charity” (our guild master tried to give him back 10k gold he donated to the guild bank and he refused it!) instead he plans to rebuild by farming & trading and he tells me that so far, he’s not doing too badly. His main source of income is from Jewelcrafting & Enchanting (hey, that sounds like a familiar concept!) however he’s doing something very different to me.

We both buy and prospect Elementium Ore (currently trading around 35-40g a stack) and on Sunday we each purchased about 100 stacks of Elementium for a cost of around 3.5k gold.

Jaspers, Alicites, Hessonites & Nightstones get turned in to rings and necks (Jasper Ring, Alicite PendantHessonite Band & Nightstone Choker) All four of these patterns have a chance to proc a blue quality item with improved stats. Green items get disenchanted and any blues are either disenchanted or sold intact depending on the current price of Heavenly Shards (currently around 150g each so DE is the favoured option).

We both agreed that Zepherites are a waste of space and end up getting vendored (why are these so useless Blizz?)

This leaves Carnelians which we handle very differently: He turns his in to Carnelian Spikes which he disenchants (they have a decent drop rate for Greater Celestial Essences) whereas I transmute mine in to Inferno Rubies (between prospecting and transmutes I usually net at least 50 Inferno Rubies from 2000 ore).

Now we’re both left with a bag full of blue-quality gems and this is where we really differ: He turns all of his in to The Perforator which (you guessed) get disenchanted for more Shards. I on the other hand sell cut gems.

Whatever our strategy to this point, we’re both left with a big old pile of enchanting mats. He sells his on the auction house at whatever the prevailing rate is (less a reasonable undercut). Once again, I take a different route and produce enchanting scrolls. Some scrolls, with the additional purchase of a Maelstrom Crystal for 150g, can sell for up to 3k gold a pop (Assassin’s Step).


We compared notes and our respective returns on investment. Bearing in mind an identical outlay of ~4k gold (ore + settings)…

  • He anticipates he’ll get 5-6k gold from selling his enchanting mats. A profit of 1-2k gold.
  • I on the other hand conservatively estimate I’ll make between 8 & 10k from cut gems alone (Inferno Ruby cuts sell for 130-150g each which accounts for ~7k, plus whatever else I can get from the rest). I’d then expect to make a further 5-6k from enchanting scrolls (depending on how many weapon enchants I sell and with the addition of a few crystals). This gives me a potential profit of 13-16k gold.

Quite a significant difference don’t you think?!

Making Plans

Since I’m playing WoW again, I figured I should make myself a plan of things I want to accomplish this time around.

I’m going to assume that Mists of Pandaria is likely to ship mid to late October. (This date is based on nothing other than a complete guess on my part.) Based on this, I figure I have around 3 months to achieve the following:

  • Alts:
    All alts levelled to 85 with their professions maxed.  Here’s my current progress of alts in the order I’m likely to level them:

    • Jezebelle – Paladin – 85 – Jewelcrafting (525) / Enchanting (525)
    • Wizzadora – Priest – 85 – Alchemy (525) / Herbalism (525)
    • Wizzbit – Warrior – 85 – Blacksmith (525) / Mining (525)
    • Satu – Hunter –  85 – Leatherworking (525) / Skinning (525)
    • Vixetta – Deathknight – 85 – Mining (525) / Herbalism (525)
    • Gomjabbar – Rogue – 84 – Engineering (525) / Mining (511)
    • Torall – Mage – 80 – Tailoring (525) / Alchemy (525)
    • Kinetick – Warlock – 80 – Inscription (525) / Herbalism (497)
    • Mirax – Shaman – 80 – Alchemy (525) / Herbalism (416)

    I’m fairly happy with which professions I have on my alts, the only real exception is Vixetta who has two gathering professions. My current thinking there is that I’ll drop Herbalism in favour of Engineering or Blacksmithing. All three of my Alchemists are Transmute spec’d and I intend to keep this, especially given the way alchemy cooldowns look to be shaping up in MoP right now.

  • Questing:
    I want to fully quest through each of the Cataclysm zones at least once. Starting with Twilight Highlands (which I’m half way through) then Uldum, which I don’t think I’ve done any quests in yet. I’ve also never finished Icecrown on any of my alts, so should head back to Northrend and do that. At some point, I’d like to go back and do all the new old-world quests, but this is lower on the priority list as it could take a while.
  • Gearing:
    There’s really no great point to spending massive amounts of time or gold getting my characters geared as gear resets have become a standard part of expansions. The first zone in Pandaria is likely to offer green quest rewards on par with current tier epics so why bother? This said, I would like to finish gearing my priest via LFR and maybe do the same for Jez and a couple of DPS toons. A large part of this is to be able to say I’ve experienced the content from all 4 positions (Heals, Tank, Ranged & Melee DPS) however I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a certain amount of ego involved in doing this.
  • Transmogfigication:
    I buy it, Transmogrification is cool. I was a little unsure when it was announced, but now it’s in I like it. My priest wants the tier 6 set and there’s probably other items that would be cool to have as well (for example the sword from 4 horsemen for my DK) so I’ll need to sit down sometime and make a shopping list. Again, as with questing, this is probably going to end up being kind of a long-term goal.
  • Mists of Pandaria Preperation:
    I’m intending to hit professions hard in MoP. It would be cool to think I could get the Realm First for max Jewelcrafting. Given the prices of ore in early Cataclysm (and previous expansions) this could be a costly endeavour, but then again it would repay for its self several times over by having access to gems cuts no one else does. I need to get a better handle on how professions are going to play out and start stocking up supplies to help with this.
  • Other Random Goals:
    Thunderfury will be mine! I run Molten Core weekly on Jez and have one binding so far but, week after week, Baron Geddon refuses to give up the second. By the same token I want the eye from Rag to make my Sulfuras. Once I get these suckers I’ll probably never want to set foot in Molten Core again as long as I live!

It Happened

We reactivated our WoW accounts!

We had last week off work as holiday and decided to take advantage of the Scroll or Resurrection promotion. The free 7 days you get with that finished on Sunday morning and we paid for a month. It’s probably not the best decision we’ve made (we both have fairly addictive personalities) but I have to say that I am enjoying playing again.


As I’ve previously mentioned, my wife is all about levelling alts and some things haven’t changed. A day or two in to our free time, she said she wanted to create another Hunter (she already has 2). I suggested that she try another class and she agreed to give a Warrior a go. She’s tried Warriors in the past and always deleted them because she didn’t get on with the class mechanics, this time she’s really enjoying it and has already got to 51.

I’m really glad she’s liking her Warrior better this time around, I love playing Wizzbit so it’s good to see her enjoying the class. She’s gone with a Fury build and, while I’ve given her a few pointers, I’m letting her level and discover the class at her own pace running her through dungeons when needed. (Next up, I need to get her to embrace the dungeon finder!)


As for me…

I’ve been busy gearing my Priest through LFR. I did a full run on Sunday afternoon where I didn’t win anything, then went again on Wednesday which was much more fruitful. I won the tier leg token and a set of bracers in The Siege of Wrymrest Temple and then got the tier shoulder token and off-hand from Fall of Deathwing. Three really solid upgrades and one (the bracers) that was kinda meh. Mr Robot rates the bracers as 5th on the BiS list, just above my existing 378 set, so I’ve not bothered equipping them as I really want the get the crafted ones only I’m too tight to spend 10k gold on them. If I see a pattern going cheap I’ll snag that for my Mage and make them myself (the pattern’s been as low as 500g on Horde side so I might have to work something out if it comes up for that price again.)

I’m 200 VP short of a new helm, which I’ll get today or tomorrow and then it’ll take me another 4 weeks to get the belt, ring & neck (probably in that order, though I’m not totally sure yet as they’re all about equal upgrades).

I realised that I’d never taken my Priest to Deepholm, so I spent a few hours and quested through the zone to get access to the Therazane dailies. I should hit exalted here in a couple more days and then have access to the epic shoulder enchants.

I used the Scroll of Resurrection level boost perk to skip my Shaman over Northrend, which was handy as (to be honest) I wasn’t really that excited about levelling her. She also got free epic flight and a full set of gear, frostweave bags and some other stuff out of the deal, so that was nice.

Lastly, I dusted off my Hunter and levelled her to from 77 to 80. In doing so, I discovered that I actually rather enjoy playing her so I’ve carried on levelling and hit 84 last night. I’ve run around 6 LFD groups with her in the last couple of days and have been able to top the meters in every group so I don’t know if that says I’ve had crap groups or that I’m playing her well (I’m spec’d Marksman currently). I’m going to go with the latter as it’s better for my ego!


Oh also, I’ve made around 20k gold in the week since we’ve been back, so that’s good. The gem market is still moderately buoyant, even this late in the expansion, though there’s a lot more competition about with a few new names on the scene. This said, I’m still turning good profit with Jewelcrafting accounting for half my income. The rest has come from a combination of Enchanting scrolls (~2k), the questing I’ve been doing (~2.5k in quest rewards) and selling random crap I’ve been lucky enough to pick up.

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