Archive for 2008

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Guest Post: World of Snarkcraft – Husband Edition episode II

December 30, 2008

A/N:  Jov’s spent the past week-ish without net access, and has houseguests this week as well.  So, due to her complete inability to pre-plan posts, she’s relying again on Mr Jov to provide content for today.

So last time when Jov was taking a break, I wrote you all from the other side of the fence about all those things healers do that drive tanks crazy.  But, thankfully, all is not doom and gloom when it comes to Tank – Priest relationships.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to witness (and be the beneficiary of) some good themes that keep the fire burning so to speak.  With that in mind, may I offer you Simple Things A Healer Can Do to Keep The Tank Happy.

  1. Please don’t die. This sounds so cheesy, but as I alluded to in episode 1, we tanks have a huge complex when it comes to healer death.  So, more so than for selfish reasons, please do exercise caution.  We would much rather die first – at least that way we did our jobs – than be standing there with a dead healer on our hands.  Remember always that you are special, and with great specialness comes great responsibility – to choose life.
  2. Show the love. I have stressed that tanks are sensitive.  We understand.  We are the “strong silent type.”  We’re the friend you would come to if you woke up in the morning and found yourself in a raid with 23 other people staring an angry ancient power from the dawn of time.   “We get eaten so you don’t have to” would be written in Latin on the Tanker’s Union sign if we had a sign and enough brain cells left over from our beatings to conjugate an irregular verb in the future perfect tense.  Because really,  a little /hug or /flirt can brighten the spirits, but when it comes from a healer it means so much more.  DPS just doesn’t have the same touch as a healer. The warlock may have a pretty face, but we know that it is just skin deep.  Do I have to mention the self-destructive tendencies?  Seriously, Life Tap?  So not cool.
  3. Remember the Tank off the job too. Whether it is going to a heroic or dressing down on an alt, remember that your tank isn’t just there for raiding.  Nothing shows genuine appreciation more for a tank than getting an invite somewhere from one of their healers.   It can be hard to trust a PuG group as a tank because the cost of failure is so high (and unlike the DPS, we can’t grind out money like it is going out of style), and going somewhere with a healer you trust makes a real difference.  How much of a difference?  Having the healer you know along with you as a tank is like the difference in a fight between having a broken bottle and an AK-47. This is even true if the tank is not on the tanking character at the time.
  4. Try tanking yourself. This is not an invitation to pull agro, but give tanking a try by either respeccing for a little while or trying it out with a test realm pre-gen.  Most tanks (myself included) consider our job to be the hardest in the raid group and we get a big boost out of knowing our fellow raiders have at least tried to walk a day in our heavy plate boots.  Who knows, you might even like it.  But, at least you will appreciate more the challenges of tanking – particularly when it comes to working with your healers. If you haven’t done it, I guarantee you’ll look at your tank differently next time you’re in a raid together.  Perhaps better yet – they will look at you differently too.
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Seri sez: Search terms fail… or do they?

December 25, 2008

magnifying_glassI felt a lot of pressure this week to produce something profound to compliment Jov’s musings on enchantments. I don’t respond well to pressure, so at most you might consider today’s topic to be profoundly… silly.

Since Jov and I started World of Snarkcraft, I’ve become something of a stat junkie. I check our stats almost every day, sometimes twice a day, because I’m curious what posts are popular and how folks are finding them. (Would you believe that 5 of our top 10 search terms of all time are Shadow-oriented?) Occasionally, people will get to us using the strangest search engine terms. I thought you might get a chuckle at some of these… and maybe I can pre-emptively answer some questions for the next person to stumble across us by mistake.

more desirable hunter or rogue wotlk – Personally, I’d say rogue. Jov would probably say hunter. However, hunters are about to get nerfed and rogues have it pretty bad at the moment in PVE. Is there a third option?

resto druid flask and food buff wotlk – Short answer: Yes. Long answer: There are a lot of options. You can probably get some tips from Jov’s Consumables Guide even though it’s Priest-oriented.

everfrost chip coordinates - No idea, but if you find some please e-mail me.

how to get out of applying to 2 guilds a – I assume this was cut off and finishes with “at once.” Just a thought: “I’ve accepted an invitation from another guild, thank you for your interest.”

northrend tanks exalted rep screwed – Er, what?

wow arachnophobia naxx - *wince* Sorry, mate.

erp scarlet crusade – For the love of Jaina, no. No no no! This is not the blog you’re looking for. I know exactly which comment thread resulted in this particular search engine hit and I’m blaming YOU Tarsus.

wotlk sound crackling – Is the sound only crackling in WoW? If it happens in other applications, it’s not a WoW issue. If it IS only happening in WoW, try the WoW Support Forum. And, uh, good luck.

maximum hit rating wotlk casters – For offensive spell casters vs raid boss mobs (level 83), the cap is 17% (~446 hit rating). The amount of hit you need may be less depending on your talents and available debuffs from your raid group. See Wowwiki’s spell hit entry.

“meeting stone” coordinate violet hold - There is no meeting stone for the Violet Hold.

Well, I hope that clears some things up. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Jov sez: You’ve got the gear- Now what? (Part 2)

December 23, 2008

So, in my last attempt to educate myself (and anyone else who wants to listen in) I started on some of the more permanent things you can do to your gear to make your job easier.  This week, I’m finishing it with enchants and other item enhancements.  And, since it seems the most logical way of doing things…  we’re starting at the top.

Head

Arcanum of Blissful Mending:  30 Spellpower, 8 mp5.  Requires Wyrmrest Revered (and 150g).  I personally feel this is a much stronger enchant for priests starting out.  I don’t know about you all, but my regen as a new-80 makes me want to cry.

Arcanum of Burning Mysteries:  30 Spellpower, 20 crit rating.  Requires Kirin Tor Revered (and 150g).  If your regen is good, get this one.

Shoulder

Lesser Inscription of the Crag:  18 Spellpower, 4 mp5.  Requires Sons of Hodir Honored (and 75g).  (Identical to Aldor Exalted Greater Inscription of Faith.  Scryers give a bit more mp5, a bit less spellpower.)

Lesser Inscription of the Storm:  18 Spellpower, 10 crit rating.  Requires Sons of Hodir Honored (and 75g).  (Identical to Aldor Exalted Greater Inscription of Discipline.  Scryers give a bit more crit, a bit less spellpower.)

Greater Inscription of the Crag:  24 Spellpower, 6 mp5.  Requires Sons of Hodir Exalted (and 100g).

Greater Inscription of the Storm:  24 Spellpower, 15 crit rating.  Requires Sons of Hodir Exalted (and 100g).

Back

Enchant Cloak -  Greater Speed:  23 Haste rating.  Costs 24 Infinite Dust and 12 Greater Cosmic Essence.  This is the best option for non-tailors.

Enchant Cloak – Wisdom:  10 Spirit and minor threat reduction.  Costs 30 Infinite Dust, 30 Greater Cosmic Essence, and 6 Abyss Crystals.  Totally insane mats for a relatively small effect.  This needs to be skipped.

Darkglow Embroidery:  Chance to restore 400 mana on spellcast.  This is like an Insightful Earthseige Diamond.  Unfortunately, you must be a lv 400+ tailor to use it.

Chest

Enchant Chest – Powerful Stats: 10 to all stats.  Costs 15 Infinite Dust and 4 Abyss Crystals.  This is good, but a bit expensive.

Enchant Chest – Super Stats: 8 to all stats.  Costs 4 Infinite Dust, 2 Lesser Cosmic Essence.  This enchant is cheap, and the best easy choice we’re looking at.

Wrist

Enchant Bracer – Exceptional Intellect: 16 to Intellect.  Costs 10 Infinite Dust.  This is a cheap enchant, and potentially useful if you’re attempting to balance your int and spirit.

Enchant Bracer – Greater Spellpower: 23 spellpower.  Costs 8 Infinite Dust, 4 Lesser Cosmic Essence.  This is the best option for ease and effect.

Enchant Bracer – Major Spirit: 18 to Spirit.  Costs 16 Infinite Dust, 12 Greater Cosmic Essence.  For some reason, it’s more than twice as mat-expensive as the Int enchant, for almost the same effect.  Potentially useful to balance int/spirit, you’re likely better off spending the gold on Spirit Scrolls.

Enchant Bracer – Superior Spellpower:  30 spellpower.  Costs 24 Infinite Dust, 16 Greater Cosmic Essence, 2 Abyss Crystal.  This is the big brother to Greater Spellpower, and massively more mat-intensive to boot.  If you’ve got the gear and gold, go for it.  I’m probably going to be sticking to the +23 for the time being.

Hands

Enchant Gloves – Exceptional Spellpower: 28 spellpower.  Costs 4 Infinite Dust, 1 Lesser Cosmic Essence.  This is dirt-cheap, and a very solid enchant besides.

Enchant Gloves – Greater Blasting: 16 crit rating.  Costs 30 Infinite Dust, 1 Dream Shard.  If you desperately need or want the crit, this is a potential.  It’s hard to justify vs the cost difference between crit and spellpower, however.

Waist

Eternal Belt Buckle:  Adds 1 socket to a belt.  Costs 4 Saronite Bars, 1 Eternal Earth, 1 Eternal Water, 1 Eternal Shadow (and either a friendly Blacksmith or just buy it off the Auction House.)  This is a prismatic socket, and any color gem can be placed in it.  Also can be added to a belt already containing sockets.  The gem color you place in the belt buckle does not affect any potential socket bonus of the item.

Legs

Azure Spellthread: 35 Spellpower, 20 Stamina.  Costs 2 Crystalized Fire, 1 Iceweb Spider Silk, 3 Eternium Thread.

Shining Spellthread:  35 Spellpower, 12 Spirit.  Costs 2 Crystalized Life, 1 Iceweb Spider Silk, 3 Eternium Thread.

Brilliant Spellthread: 50 Spellpower, 20 Spirit.  Costs 8 Eternal Life, 1 Iceweb Spider Silk, 3 Eternium Thread, 1 Frozen Orb.

Sapphire Spellthread: 50 Spellpower, 30 Stamina.  Costs 8 Eternal Fire, 1 Iceweb Spider Silk, 3 Eternium Thread, 1 Frozen Orb.

Feet

Enchant Boots – Greater Spirit: 18 Spirit.  Costs 12 Infinite Dust, 5 Greater Cosmic Essence.  I have this enchant and love it.

Enchant Boots – Greater Vitality: 6 hp5, 6 mp5.  Costs 14 Infinite Dust, 4 Greater Cosmic Essence.

Enchant Boots – Icewalker: 12 Crit rating, 12 Hit rating.  Costs 8 Infinite Dust, 1 Crystalized Water.  This is a surprisingly cheap crit enchant (And the bonus +hit to help a heal land through the tank’s plate/bear blubber is a nice bonus too!)  (And yes, I’m joking.)

Enchant Boots – Tuskarr’s Vitality: 15 Stamina and minor speed increase.  Costs 40 Infinite Dust, 10 Greater Cosmic Essence, 1 Abyss Crystal.  If your guild requires speed enchants (as mine did pre-TBC) this is the one you’re looking for.  (And if they require it, see if they’ll subsidise some of the cost!)

Rings

Enchant Ring – Greater Spellpower:  19 spellpower.  Costs 8 Infinite Dust, 1 Greater Cosmic Essence.  A cheap enchant, though as with TBC, only accessible to enchanters.

Weapon

Enchant Weapon – Exceptional Spirit: 45 Spirit.  Costs 30 Infinite Dust, 2 Dream Shards.  Not a bad enchant, though I tend to prefer straight spellpower enchants to weapon.

Enchant Weapon – Exceptional Spellpower:  50 spellpower.  Costs 10 Infinite Dust, 2 Greater Cosmic Essence.  Relatively cheap, it’s a very good choice for any healer.

Enchant Weapon – Mighty Spellpower:  63 spellpower.  Costs 40 Infinite Dust, 20 Greater Cosmic Essence, 6 Abyss Crystals.  I’ll admit, the mats to this one make my eyes bug out a little bit.  As with bracers, I’m likely to stick with the lesser version of this one for a while.

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Seri sez: Eight WoW web tools that will change your life forever.

December 18, 2008

hammerOk, so maybe the title is a smidge over the top. Did it get your attention, though? It did? Great.

I’m always interested in new web-based tools that enhance my WoW experience. Whether I’m theorycrafting, reviewing applications, conducting performance evaluations or just doing a quick check of what gem I have in my gloves, I like to have the tools at my disposal to do the job quickly and efficiently. I’m very pleased that most of my favorite tools have made it through the expansion to be fully updated and feature-rich, but there are a few new tools I’ve recently discovered that are pretty darn handy too.

Here’s a list of my top 8 WoW web tools (in no particular order), all of which are fully compatible with WotLK and the recent Armory overhaul:

1. WoWJuju Reputation Calculator

pie!

This is a great tool for seeing your (or someone else’s) reputations at a glance and determining what you need to do to get where you want to be (and how long it’s going to take to get there). I used a tool similar to this (wowreputationcalculator.com) in TBC, and while I liked the interface a little better it hasn’t been fully updated yet for WotLK. The WoWJuju calculator does fully cover WotLK factions and their repeatable quests. Plus, pie charts! Who doesn’t like pie charts?

2. WoW Heroes

This tool is something of an armory ‘quick look’ tool but also provides gear rankings and suggested instances for the gear level. If you ever used WoW Armory Light or Be.Imba you’re familiar with these concepts. Three cheers for one-stop shopping? It’s not a bad way of giving someone a quick once-over and loads a bit faster than the official WoW Armory. Also includes quick links to item upgrades on Wowhead.

3 & 4. Warcrafter & Chardev Character Planner

These two tools do basically the same thing but with two very different interfaces. Enter your character name/server and it’ll populate talents/gear for you. What do you do then? You can swap out talents, gear pieces, gems, enchants and buffs to see how it changes your stats. This is very helpful, both for tweaking what you already have and seeing how upgrades will affect you. Personally, I prefer the Chardev Character Planner interface. I’ve always found Warcrafter to be extremely cumbersome, but I’ll use it if Chardev is down for maintenance or something.

5. Loot Rank

scale

Loot Rank is a very powerful tool that allows you to search for gear based on stat weights that you specify. With that said… I haven’t really figured out how to use it. The ‘weights’ make very little sense to me, but I’m not a hardcore theorycrafter either. Of course, I understand the concept of weighing stats and prioritizing some over others but what exactly does it mean to have a 28.3 haste weight and 14 crit weight? Yeah, no clue where these numbers come from. It does provide some sample templates for different classes/specs but opinions vary as to whether or not they’re optimal. You can probably find more information about weight templates for your class on Elitist Jerks. I think of this as the tool I know I would love if I just knew how to use it.

6. Zusterke’s Int & Spirit Regen Tool

I believe Jov mentioned this one in her recent Int vs Spirit discussion, but I thought it worth mentioning again. This tool will help you see where your regen currently stands and help you figure out whether you’re better off adding Int or Spirit to improve it. I’m not sure why we need a tool for this, it’s good enough for me to know that I need to shoot for a 1:1 Int to Spirit ratio… but if you like lots of numbers and equations and need to know what’s behind that guideline… this is the place to go!

7. WoW Web Stats

Wow Web Stats is (mostly) updated for WotLK now and is a great tool for post-raid examination and reflection. If your raid group isn’t using WWS, it should be. What a lot of people don’t know is that anyone can run this and post reports. If your raid/guild officers aren’t using WWS or aren’t posting links to reports after raids for whatever reason, you can start saving your combat logs and uploading them yourself just for your own edification. One of these days I’ll get around to posting a guide for self-review with WWS. If such a thing would be interesting to you, let me know. It might motivate me to actually do it.

Last minute edit: Wednesday evening someone mentioned Wow Meter to me as an alternative to WWS. Supposedly, it is the up and coming bigger and better raid analysis tool… YMMV.

calculator

8. Zaltu’s Spell Haste Calculator

A Rogue blog is probably the last place anyone would think to look for a spell haste calculator, but Zaltu over at One Rogue’s Journey has just that. He wrote it for a friend of his and figured he might as well throw it up on his site for the general public. It’s pretty spiffy, and I recommend it for all your spell haste calculating needs.

Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Have a tool to suggest? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

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Jov sez: You’ve got the gear– Now what?

December 16, 2008

First of all, Ding!  I made it early Saturday afternoon turning in HoL quests.  Tars followed a quest or two later.

80

Last week we covered the consumeables you could look at to give you temporary boosts and aid.  This week, we’re going to start on the more permanent side of the equation: gems, enchants, and other item enhancements. This week, we start with gems.

Gems

Gems are very much a balancing act of stats.  A lot goes into determining what gem you should choose:  what you’re needing to increase, the socket bonuses, and meta requirements.  There’s a lot more we’re needing to keep our eye on in Wrath, so there’s no simple rules for gemming like there was in TBC.  As always, you need enough regen to last the fight, and enough spellpower to keep people up.  Beyond that, you need to also work on haste, crit, and balancing to maintain that 1:1 int to spirit ratio.  Aim for 10% haste and 20-25% crit unbuffed.  After that, your ilevels are better used back on spellpower and regen.

redRed — Runed: Teardrop has been discontinued, but that old caster-friend Runed’s straight spellpower makes this a good choice.  Available as Runed Bloodstone (14 spellpower), Perfect Runed Bloodstone (16 spellpower), and Runed Scarlet Ruby (19 spellpower).

orangeOrange — Luminous: That old favorite is back and better than ever. This time available as Luminous Huge Citrine (7  spellpower, 6 int), Perfect Luminous Huge Citrine (8 spellpower, 7 int), and Luminous Monarch Topaz (9 spellpower, 8 int).

orangeOrange — Potent: This is a new choice for priests.  We used to consider crit to be a pally stat, but with the current changes, a spellpower/crit gem is now an interesting option.  Available as Potent Huge Citrine (7 spellpower, 6 crit), Perfect Potent Huge Citrine (8 spellpower, 7 crit), and Potent Monarch Topaz (9 spellpower, 8 crit).

orangeOrange — Reckless: Another gem we’re stealing from DPS, Crit/Haste is also a new option.  Available as Reckless Huge Citrine (7 spellpower, 6 haste), Perfect Reckless Huge Citrine (8 spellpower, 7 haste), and Reckless Monarch Topaz (9 spellpower, 8 haste).

yellowYellow — Brilliant: I’m socketing int.  I am.  Being a spirit-junkie, even with AI, my spirit is higher.  These are good gems for me.  Available as Brilliant Sun Crystal (12 int), Perfect Brilliant Sun Crystal (14 int) and Brilliant Autumn’s Glow (16 int).

yellowYellow — Quick: If you’re needing haste, this gem has it and nothing else.  Available as Quick Sun Crystal (12 haste), Perfect Quick Sun Crystal (14 haste) and Quick Autumn’s Glow (16 haste).

yellowYellow — Smooth: Likewise, this gem is pure crit.  Available as Smooth Sun Crystal (12 crit), Perfect Smooth Sun Crystal (14 crit), and Smooth Autumn’s Glow (16 crit).

blueBlue — Sparkling: There is still only one blue cut really worth mentioning.  Available as Sparkling Chalcedony (12 spirit), Perfect Sparkling Chalcedony (14 spirit) and Sparkling Sky Sapphire (16 spirit).

greenGreen — Intricate: A balance of haste and spirit.  Very interesting gem overall.  Available as Intricate Dark Jade (6 haste, 6 spirit), Perfect Intricate Dark Jade (7 haste, 7 spirit) and Intricate Forest Emerald (8 haste, 8 spirit).

greenGreen — Misty: Crit and spirit.  I’m curious about this one as well.  Available as Misty Dark Jade (6 crit, 6 spirit), Perfect Misty Dark Jade (7 crit, 7 spirit) and Misty Forest Emerald (8 crit, 8 spirit).

greenGreen — Seer’s: My favorite of the green gems, this gem is perfect if your int and spirit are in balance, you’re just needing more of both.  Available as Seer’s Dark Jade (6 int, 6 spirit), Perfect Seer’s Dark Jade (7 int, 7 spirit), and Seer’s Forest Emerald (8 int, 8 spirit).

purplePurple — Purified: Another old favorite reappearing as a better self.  This is available as Purified Shadow Crystal (7 spellpower, 6 spirit), Perfect Purified Shadow Crystal (8 spellpower, 7 spirit) and Purified Twilight Opal (9 spellpower, 8 spirit).

purplePurple — Royal: I know, I know, mp5.  But as has already been covered, it’s not necessarily bad, especially for Disc spec.  I wouldn’t (and didn’t) recommend the straight Lusterous mp5 gems, but these aren’t so bad.  This time available in Royal Shadow Crystal (7 spellpower, 2 mp5), Perfect Royal Shadow Crystal (8 spellpower, 3 mp5) and Royal Twilight Opal (9 spellpower, 3 mp5).

Metas

Metas are, quite frankly, a headache and a half.  So I’m gonna say get Insightful Earthseige and be done.

Okay, I’ll do a review, but really, Insightful is all you need.  Seriously.  Really.  Okay, fine.

There are two meta gems which have a number of cuts available.

earthsiege Earthsiege

Beaming Earthsiege Diamond: 21 crit rating, +2% mana.  Requires 2 red, 1 yellow.  At lv 80, with 15000 mana, that’s another 300.  Kinda meh.

Bracing Earthsiege Diamond: 25 spellpower, 2% reduced threat.  Requires 2 red, 1 blue.  I don’t know about your tanks, but…  I don’t need reduced threat.  And 25 spellpower is roughly equivalent to a bracer enchant.  Also fairly meh.

Insightful Earthsiege Diamond: 21 int, chance to restore mana on spellcast.  Requires 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue.  This is the best option. The proc is 5% chance to restore 600 mana with no cooldown, so the chances are high of chaining procs.  It’s very snacky.  Even if you’re having problems with too much int, shed it from somewhere and snag this one. [edit: corrected values-- thanks Crutch!]

skyflare Skyflare

Ember Skyflare Diamond: +25 spellpower, +2% intellect.  Requires 3 red gems.  This one, quite frankly, is better for a paladin or shaman.  We need to balance int to spirit, and a percentage increase makes that difficult.  And as mentioned above, 25 spellpower is kinda meh.

Revitalizing Skyflare Diamond: 8 mp5 and 3% increased critical healing effect.  Requires 2 red gems.  Okay, I’ll admit it, this one is kinda interesting.  The mp5 is nothing terribly special, but the 3% bigger crits could be interesting.  Or they could just be 3% more overheal.  Your mileage may vary, I’d advise against.

To sum up:

  • Gems aren’t so easy anymore.  While you can still use the old rules of thumb for gemming, you’ll be potentially ignoring the stuff you need.  This doesn’t mean every gem is good, but all of the gems I listed at least make sense.  Pick and choose between them to get the mix of stats that works best for you.
  • Except for Metas.  Get the IED.  Seriously.
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Seri sez: World of Repgrind – Must-have reputations for level 80 Priests.

December 11, 2008

handshakeAh, the reputation grind. So we meet again. Whatever did we do with ourselves before we had reputations to grind? The truth is, there have always been reputations to grind but they were mostly optional back in Classic WoW. I mean, sure, all raiders needed Fire Resistance gear for Molten Core but not everyone in the guild had to grind Thorium Brotherhood reputation… all you needed was a few crafters of each type and you were golden. But somewhere along the way, Blizzard realized that reputations can fill a vital role in WoW: Giving level-capped players Something To Do™. A dear friend of mine once dubbed this the ‘World of Repgrind’ philosophy.

TBC changed the way we look at reputation forever. No longer was reputation something you could pick up if you wanted to, it was something you had to pick up in order to get past a certain level of content. (Anyone else remember the Revered requirement for Heroic keys?) What’s more, all the factions seemed to have something for everyone including actual gear that could compete with instance drops for quality. I won’t even go into the insanity that was purchasable flasks if exalted with 3 particular factions. Oh wait, I just did.

Although Blizzard learned a bit from the heroic key debacle, WotLK continues the trend of making the reputation grind all but mandatory for less-than-casual players. Most of the factions offer epic items at Exalted, and let’s not forget those helm/shoulder enchants we’ve all come to rely on for optimal minmaxing of gear. With the introduction of so many new factions and the changes to how grinding reputation works in WotLK, World of Repgrind can be a confusing and intimidating game to play.

But fear not, gentle readers! I’m here to help you plot a course through these unfamiliar waters. By the time we’re done here, you’ll know exactly what you need and which palms you need to grease to get it!

How the reputation grind has changed.

The level 70 repgrind is much different from the level 80 repgrind. Back in the dawn of TBC, reputation was gained primarily through running instances. Each instance was associated with a faction, and killing things in it yielded reputation gains for that faction. Quests also increased your reputation, but there was only so far you could go with questing alone; there weren’t any dailies that would reward reputation until the introduction of Skettis and Ogri’la.trophy

In WotLK, there are three ways to earn reputation:

  1. Quests. Just about every quest hub in the game is linked to a faction, and doing their quests will reward you with reputation. Most of the factions require a certain amount of questing to get to Friendly, which is when Quartermasters and Dailies (if any) open up.
  2. Dailies. Every faction in Northrend that has reputation rewards has daily quests. They’re scattered all over Northrend in the various ‘home bases’ for the factions, so you’ll have to do a bit of traveling to get to them.
  3. Championing. Some factions will sell you a tabard that you can wear in level 80 instances (heroic and normal) to gain reputation with them. This is called Championing and is completely new to WotLK. Factions aren’t linked to instances the same way they were in TBC. If you’re not wearing a tabard in a level 80 instance/heroic, you’ll get reputation for the Alliance Vanguard or Horde Expedition (depending on your race). The factions that sell tabards are: Argent Crusade, Kirin Tor, Knights of the Ebon Blade and The Wyrmrest Accord.

Meet the factions: The good, the bad and the @(#)$# Sons of Hodir.

Alliance Vanguard (Vigilance Keep, Borean Tundra) & Horde Expedition (Warsong Hold, Borean Tundra)

These factions are the first you’ll encounter when you set foot in Northrend, but if you decide to grind rep for them you may not be doing a lot of work with them directly. Each faction has four sub-factions that do their grunt work, so doing quests for the sub-factions will net you overall Alliance/Horde faction. The Alliance Vanguard sub-factions are: The Explorer’s League, The Frostborn, The Silver Covenant and the Valiance Expedition. The Horde Expedition sub-factions are: The Hand of Vengeance, The Taunka, the Warsong Offensive and The Sunreavers.

Their quartermasters are located in their respective bases (Vigilance Keep and Warsong Hold).

Argent Crusade

Argent Crusade (Argent Vanguard, Icecrown)

The Argent Crusade is a merging of the Argent Dawn with the remnants of the Knights of the Silver Hand and the scattered sane few that broke off from the Scarlet Crusade. You’ll meet them first in Dragonblight and Zul’drak, but their quartermaster is in Icecrown. You can do quests in either place (or both) to gain reputation with them. Most of their dailies are in Zul’drak, but they have one in Icecrown as well. Once your rep is up to Friendly you can purchase a tabard for instance repgrinding.

Frenzyheart Tribe (Frenzyheart Hill, Sholazar Basin) & The Oracles (Rainspeaker Canopy, Sholazar Basin)

You’ll encounter these two factions in Sholazar Basin. Much like the Aldor & Scryers, these two factions are sworn enemies so earning faction with one will gain you enmity with the other. Choosing between them is not a simple matter; it involves a lengthy quest chain (starting here), at the end of which you choose which one you want to align with. On the up side, you’re immediately bumped to Honored with the one you choose. Both factions have dailies at their villages in Sholazar so you can grind rep further. Quartermasters can also be found at their villages. Sadly, neither has a tabard.

Kirin Tor (Dalaran, Crystalsong Forest)

The Kirin Tor are the folks responsible for the great Dalaran Relocation Project of 2008. (You did know it used to be in Hillsbrad, right?) These dudes don’t mess around; they’ve brought their whole city to Northrend to prove they mean business. Considering that said city is currently floating a few thousand feet above the ground and has 99% of Azeroth’s heroes hearthed there… you really don’t want to piss them off. Fortunately, it’s not terribly hard to make friends with them because they will sell you a tabard at Friendly for instance grinding. You can also earn Kirin Tor rep by doing the cooking daily as well as the dungeon dailies (normal & heroic). The Kirin Tor quartermaster is located at the Violet Citadel in Dalaran.

Knights of the Ebon Blade (The Shadow Vault, Icecrown)

The Knights of the Ebon Blade are Death Knights that broke free of the Lich King’s control and have joined forces with everyone else who has a bone to pick with him. Their base of operations is the Shadow Vault in Icecrown, an area that you have to open up via quest chain. The chain starts with a quest called “It’s All Fun and Games” on one of the flying ships in Icecrown. If you’re Alliance, go to the Alliance ship. If you’re Horde, go to the Horde ship. (Cold weather flying is required.) It’s a fairly short quest chain, doesn’t take very long to complete. Once you’re Friendly with the Knights, you can buy a tabard for instance grinding from their quartermaster at the Shadow Vault. The Knights offer dailies at the Shadow Vault and Death’s Rise in Icecrown for additional repgrinding.Frost Giant - Aiee!

Sons of Hodir (Dun Niffelem, Storm Peaks)

Ok, let’s rip off the proverbial band-aid and get this over with. By the time you reach Exalted with Sons of Hodir you will be ready to drive out to Blizzard HQ and punch someone in the face. For some reason, Blizzard decided to put all the shoulder enchants for all the classes/roles under the same faction AND not give us any way to grind it besides dailies. Not only are these dailies needed by every raider on your server, thus ensuring you will be competing for quest mobs for weeks on end, but they are designed in such a way that anyone who wants to be a jerk can interfere in new and creative ways. As if that weren’t enough, they put the faction behind an extremely long quest chain as a final ‘screw you’. Ready for a road trip yet? If you’re passing through Texas, pick me up.

Anyway, you need shoulder enchants so grinding Sons of Hodir rep is a necessary evil. You can get by with the Aldor/Scryer ones in the meantime, but if you haven’t already started working on your Sons of Hodir rep you need to start now. Well, maybe not now; finish reading this first, then go get started. Got it? Ok, moving on.

The quest chain you need starts in K3, Storm Peaks with a quest called “They Took Our Men!” (Yes, there is actually a goblin town called “K3″ in southern Storm Peaks, it’s not just some unfamiliar coordinate for a map mod no one uses.) You need to have Cold Weather Flying to quest in Storm Peaks, but hopefully you’ve taken care of that already. If not… um… yeah. Go take care of that.

The Sons of Hodir quartermaster is at Dun Niffelem in Storm Peaks. Just be warned… until you get far enough along in the quest chain, they’re hostile to you and if memory serves they’re also elite. And giants.

[Edit: Tarsus pointed out Everfrost Chip turn-ins as another way to gain rep with the Sons. I hadn't heard of them before so I looked them up... apparently they are random ground spawns in southern Storm Peaks, sort of like the Netherwing Eggs of yore. Keep an eye out for them while you're out and about doing your dailies! They're worth 350 Sons of Hodir reputation.]

The Wyrmrest Accord (Wyrmrest Temple, Dragonblight)

The Wyrmrest Accord is the alliance formed by the Red, Bronze, Green and Black dragonflights to battle the Blue dragonflight (currently crusading to wipe every magic-user from the face of Azeroth). They’re a bit snooty, but they’ll let you do some of their grunt work while you’re stomping around Dragonblight, and once you’re Friendly you can buy a tabard from their quartermaster at Wyrmrest Temple for instance grinding. They have a few dailies too, but only one of them is at Wyrmrest Temple. The others are out at Colderra in Borean Tundra (the island where The Nexus is). It’d be a good idea to do Aces High! a few times to prepare to face Malygos too, for what it’s worth.

TuskarrThe Kalu’ak (Moa’ki Harbor, Dragonblight)

Last and, well, sort of least are the Kalu’ak. The Kalu’ak are tuskarr, the chubby walrus people you’ve probably bumped into a few times, who seem to spend most of their time fishing, hazing tourists by sending them out to check crab traps in shark-infested waters, and being victimized by nefarious outside forces that just can’t let a walrus dude fish in peace. Their quartermaster is located at Moa’ki Harbor in Dragonblight, while their 3 dailies are split between there, Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra. They also have various quest hubs in the three zones whose quests are worth rep all the way up to Exalted.

So where do I start? (TL;DR)

The first thing you should do is get your Sons of Hodir quest chain done so you can start grinding their dailies. This is the most painful rep grind in the game currently and you cannot weasel out of it; it’s the only way to get your shoulder enchant(s)! The quest chain is lengthy and will probably take a couple of hours BUT… it is also rather fun, so it could be a lot worse. In fact, this quest chain contains my all-time favorite quest to date. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that it involves mounted combat and harpoons. You’ll know it when you get there.

Once you’ve got your Sons of Hodir dailies open, turn your attention to The Wyrmrest Accord. They have a spellpower/mp5 helm enchant (Arcanum of Blissful Mending), bracers (Ancestral Sinew Wristguards) and a nice 1H Mace (Gavel of the Brewing Storm) at Revered. Alternately, (or in tandem) you might consider grinding Kirin Tor reputation for their spellpower/crit helm enchant (Arcanum of Burning Mysteries). It really depends on what your needs are; I’d suggest you grind for them both eventually because you never know quite how your stats are going to balance out.

As for the rest… it’s really a matter of personal preference, spec and gear needs. Here is a list of the items from the various factions that may be of interest to you as a healing Priest:

Of course, the factions also have recipes/patterns for various professions too! Check them out on Wowhead or Wowwiki for a full list.

[Hey Ayslin, were you thinking of this too?]

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Jov sez: A Quick and Dirty Guide to Consumables at 80

December 9, 2008

Stats: Joveta, lv 78 holy priest currently specced 14/50/5 for ease of instancing (I’ve actually healed more than DPS’d in the past week!  Yay!) and tasty spirit tap procs while questing.  We’ve caught up a bit from Thanksgiving, and should be hitting 80 this weekend.

Now that the basics are out of the way, on to the main event!

Consumables are (for this post, at least) considered anything you do to give yourself a bit of a buff…  which doesn’t actively involve buffing yourself (or having a friend buff you).  I’m also not going to cover the more permanent enhancements (enchantments, armor kits, etc) because I’m lazy and I want something to milk for future content.   This is a quick and dirty guide, so I may miss some things, but we’re going to cover:

  • Potions
  • Elixirs
  • Flasks
  • Food
  • Weapon Buffs

potionPotions

Gone are the days of chain-chugging.  All potions included in this list are subject to potion sickness.

Replenishment

Runic Mana Potion : The Northrend version of your old favorite; restores 4200-4400 mana with a 1 minute cooldown.  As in TBC, 20 can be turned into an injector.

Runic Healing Potion : Health, the Northrend version.  Restores 2700-4500 health with a 1 minute cooldown.  Personally I’ve always preferred mana potions to healing, as a mana pot + Binding Heal/Desperate Prayer seems a much better use of resources.  As in TBC, 20 can be turned into an injector.

Powerful Rejuvenation Potion : Rejuv grew on me in TBC when I used Mad Alchemist’s pretty frequently.  This version restores 2475-4125 mana and health, and might be handy to keep around for those times when you’re down both health and mana and don’t think you’ll have time to bring yourself up in other ways.

Potion of Nightmares : This may look like the old Dreamless Sleep, but it’s got a bit of a bite.  Instead of a dispellable sleep effect, this one restores 5400 health and mana while putting you under an uninterruptable stun for 6 seconds.  The effect is very handy, but it’s probably a bad choice unless it’s a raid situation where other healers can cover your slack.

Buff

Potion of Speed : 500 Haste for 15 seconds.  This caters more to DPS than healers.

Potion of Wild Magic : 60 crit rating, 180 spellpower for 15 seconds.  Again, this is more for DPS than healers.

elixirElixirs

Double-up!  As always, you can use both a battle and guardian elixir when you’re needing that extra oomph.

Battle

Elixir of Deadly Strikes : Crit is nummy, isn’t it?  This elixir is tasty, too.  45 crit rating for 1 hour.

Elixir of Lightning Speed : I’m not as sold on haste as I could be, so I’m kinda meh on 45 haste rating.  For those who love it, however, this is a good choice.

Guru’s Elixir : +20 to all stats.  If you need to keep even buffs to both int and spirit, this is debatably a stronger choice than TBC’s Draenic Wisdom (though since that’s Guardian, they would stack).

Spellpower Elixir : My personal favorite of the available Battle Elixirs.  The others are nice, but I’ll take the 58 spellpower any day.

Guardian

Elixir of Mighty Fortitude : 350 health and 20 health/5 is really only useful for gimmicky fights where you need a health boost, unless your health is just remarkably low.  It’s there, but it’s safe to ignore it.

Elixir of Mighty Mageblood : 24 mp5 makes this the little brother of the flask version, with the obvious benefit you can make up the difference with use of a battle elixir.  Very strong choice for healers.

Elixir of Mighty Thoughts and Elixir of Spirit : I’m including these together because they’re really all about balance.  45 Int and 50 spirit respectively, these are a great way to bring your ratio closer to the golden 1:1.  Determine what your stats are like, and what buffs you’re likely to get in a raid environment, and if you can’t get 1:1 with buffs and gear, use one of these.

flaskFlasks

Some prefer these to elixirs for the death-persistance.  You can usually get better effect through dual-elixirs than flasks, but the new Northrend flasks are very mat-friendly making them good for everyone.

Flask of Pure Mojo : This is the new Restoration flask.  38mp5 for 2 hours persistant through death is nothing to sneeze at.  In light of the Regen changes, a very solid flask for any healer, especially one just starting out.

Flask of the Frost Wyrm : For those times when you’re just not quite hitting hard enough, this is an exceptionally snacky +125 to spellpower.

foodFood

I’m not talking about the stuff the mage gives you that you use between pulls, this is food that goes the distance and brings something new to the table.  *cough*

Spellpower

Shoveltusk Steak : 35 spellpower/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Smoked Salmon : 35 spellpower/40 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Firecracker Salmon : 46 spellpower/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Tender Shoveltusk Steak : 46 spellpower/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Regen

Pickled Fangtooth : 12 mp5/40 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Rhino Dogs : 12 mp5/40 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Mighty Rhino Dogs : 16 mp5/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Spicy Fried Herring : 16 mp5/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Haste

Roasted Worg : 30 haste/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Shoveltusk Soup : 30 haste/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Baked Manta Ray : 30 haste/40 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Imperial Manta Steak : 40 haste/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Very Burnt Worg : 40 haste/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

Crit

Succulent Orca Stew : 30 crit rating/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Wyrm Delight : 30 crit rating/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Poached Nettlefish : 30 crit rating/40 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Spiced Wyrm Burger : 40 crit rating/40 stamina, purchased through cooking daily.

Spicy Blue Nettlefish : 40 crit rating/40 stamina, purchased through cooking daily.

Multi

Great Feast : 60 AP/35 spellpower/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Dalaran Clam Chowder : 60 AP/35 spellpower/30 stamina, taught by cooking trainers.

Fish Feast : 80 AP/46 spellpower/40 stamina, purchased through the cooking daily.

oilWeapon Buffs

Weapon Oil doesn’t exist anymore, sadly.  Per Blizz:

Sharpening Stones and also Wizard Oils have been discontinued. While they were something nice to use once in a while for most people for many raid guilds they were simply another burden to the cost of raiding. They also caused some issues in that they only helped certain classes and took away some of the uniqueness of other classes who were able to imbue their weapons with temporary enchants such as rogues and warlocks.

They were a quick, easy way to give yourself a bit of a buff.  I was very sad when I upgraded my priest on a stick at lv 76 and suddenly my oil didn’t work.  I knew it was coming, but to you, Weapon Oil, I /mourn.  RIP

For weapon buffs, make friends with a shammy.  Flametongue is the caster’s new best friend.

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Seri sez: Now you pay da ogre! – Signs your Class Leader is an idiot.

December 4, 2008

WTFA good Class Leader is like a savory cheddar: firm but yielding, sharp but subtle and aged to perfection. Or, in my case, like a croissant: A bit flaky, but versatile. Unfortunately, as with any specialization, we have our share of so-called “experts” who engender more confusion than confidence, more contempt than respect, and… dare I say it… more “WTF” than “OIC” (as the youngsters say).

Fortunately for you, I’m not afraid to call an apple an apple. I grit my teeth and stand up in defiance of this nonsense, shaking my tiny fist at the sky. Knowledge is power, you see, and the better able you are to recognize these impostors the sooner you can knock them from their pedestals and pour a bitter draught of reality down their throats. Or, if nothing else, you’ll be better prepared to do damage control. Be alert for the warning signs!

They don’t practice what they preach.

You know the type. They yell at you for DPSing, but you see them Smiting during trash pulls. They insist you get an expensive enchant, but don’t get it themselves. They tell you to use buff food and elixirs/flasks, but don’t use anything themselves. They harp on you about buffing, but never do their share. They expect you to be on time, but they’re chronically late. This is perhaps even worse than the straight-up ignorant Class Leader. I recommend flogging, unless they’re into that sort of thing. If they are, collaborating with your Hunters for Misdirect hazing may be your only option.

They’re rolling/bidding against DPS casters on hit gear… for their healing set.

This just in from our global news source: Heals don’t miss. If you fail to heal someone, there’s not even a legendary item that’s going to make you any less fail. Sure, there may be occasions where the item is an upgrade for you just based on the other stats on it but there’s no reason you should be competing with a DPS caster for hit gear.

They’re socketing Mp5… as Holy.

As Jov kindly pointed out on Tuesday, there’s no reason for a Holy Priest to socket Mp5. A Disc Priest? Sure. Maybe. It depends. If your Class Leader is a Holy Priest socketing Mp5, it is your biological imperative to laugh at them. If they start waving their lustrous blue gems in your face, run and tell an adult. It’s just indecent.

They get 90-100% of their Priest Class information from the Official WoW Priest Forums.

QQ, this way!There are so many sources of awesome Priest information out there… unfortunately, the Official Priest Forum is not one of them. Sure, there is probably a ‘how to priest’ sticky there somewhere that is of help to novices, but if you’ve been Priesting/raiding for a while you’re not a novice and neither is (I hope) your Class Leader. I don’t bother reading ANY of the official WoW forums, because 99.5% of the time it’s just full of whining. It’s demoralizing as hell, and nothing will make you feel like your class (whatever it is) is broken and Blizzard hates it quite as much as browsing the official class forum. Good Priests look elsewhere. That’s why you’re here. That’s why we’re here. To cut through the clutter.

They think MMO Champion is a breakfast cereal. *rimshot*

(If it were, I’d still read the back of the box every morning.)

Ever wished that someone would just yank all the useful information out of blue posts every day and put it somewhere you could read it without slogging through the mire of whining and ’133t-speak’ that is the WoW forums? I’m about to make that wish come true. Every Class Leader should be in the habit of checking MMO Champion … if not daily, then at least once a week. It should not be your only source of information, but it’s a great way of staying on top of the most recent WoW-related news. I usually just read the news page, but if you’re particularly ambitious you can browse the BlueTracker.

They’re Shadow.

Okay, okay, Shadow Priests can make good Class Leaders too, but you might be surprised just how many of them used to be Holy, burned out, and now have zero interest in Holy Priesting. (How dumb is that?) This particularly breed will usually panic at the first implication that maybe they might have to heal again (even temporarily). Try it sometime when you see them gathering outside the instance portal, just to watch them scatter. It’s a hoot, kind of like chasing pigeons in the park. What, you don’t chase pigeons? Do I have to teach you EVERYTHING?

They don’t read World of Snarkcraft.

Okay, so maybe our brand of tough love isn’t necessarily for everyone. But beneath our bitter and sarcastic exteriors lies… okay, probably just more bitterness and sarcasm. What was I saying? Oh! Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to blog and… he may just learn something. Or drown in the archives. Either way, it’s a win.

What did I miss? Comment freely! Viva la Revolution!

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Jov sez: Priests: Regen and You

December 2, 2008

Stats: Joveta, lv 75 Holy Priest, currently specced 14/47/5 for questing, STILL getting shunted to DPSing instances (wtf healer shortage??  Where?!) and occasional heal-pwning.  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday with the in-laws, almost no time was spent this week on leveling.  The only major accomplishment was finally finishing up Tars’ Netherwing Rep, enabling him to have a shiny dragon, too.  Go Tars!

I’m not continuing my “everything” posts this week, as I’m fully aware that I’m now approaching the minority to have not at least crested the Cold-Weather Flying benchmark, and raiding is regularly happening.  I’m posting this now to try and get information together and out there.  None of this originated with me, and I am providing links to all of my sources.  It’s pretty safe to say that most of it comes from EJ, however.

Please note: when I say Discipline Spec, I’m assuming a talent spec containing at least 51 points in Discipline; likewise for Holy.

spiritIn Which Jov Eats Crow

Regen ain’t what it used to be, and straight mp5 isn’t necessarily the devil.  There comes a time in a priest’s life where they may find themselves taking mp5 over spirit.  This is not a bad thing.  Especially since deep-Discipline is raid-viable, mp5 can seriously outweigh the benefits of Spirit.  Quoting from the WotLK Healing Compendium on EJ,

For holy, 9 spirit = 4 Mp5, ignoring spellpower gains entirely. Given spellpower gains, a 2:1 ratio is acceptable.
For disc, 5 spirit = 2 Mp5, with no spellpower gains. Convert cleanly, and make your decision.

What does that mean to you, Mr. Non-Mathcrafting Healing Priest?  Essentially, Spirit is twice as important to a Holy-specced priest than it is to one who is specced Discipline, and most of that is due to the bonus Holy gets to spellpower. If you’re weighing the regen between an item with 20 spirit or 12 mp5, Discipline will do better with the straight mp5.  Use the weights above, and take the item that nets you more regen.

I feel so dirty typing that.

Also, spirit has been nerfed.  The old spirit based regen figures were

5 * 0.0093271 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

But now we’re looking at

5 * 0.005575 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

Which means that generally speaking, we’re getting less regen in general.  Ghostcrawler has earned the enmity of the spirit-based healers at large with the following response:

As a few players have referenced, we thought mana regen got to a point at the end of BC where players could just generally ignore it and assumed that mana was just a system you eventually graduate out of (kind of like experience).

We don’t want you to be out of mana constantly, but we do want the risk of that to exist. We balance some spells based on their mana cost for example and when you can always use your most expensive, least efficient spell without consequence, then your cheap and efficient spells don’t compete.

Mana is a resource to be managed, much like health or cooldowns.

Basically, we’re not supposed to be never-ending founts of infinite mana and never were.  The removal of downranking and the nerf to spirit-based regen was done to reflect that.  To Ghostcrawler (on this and other things) I say thbbbt.

replenIntellect is a Regen Stat

Um, it is now.  Thanks to Replenishment and our new reliance on crit, Priests want Int.  Yay Int!

Thus: (ignoring gains in mana pool size)
Discipline: 132 intellect = 1% crit, 31.3 Mp5
Holy: 150 intellect = 1% crit, 30.9 Mp5

Comparatively:
Discipline: 132 spirit = 40 Mp5
Holy: 150 spirit = 46 Mp5 + 43 spellpower

Replenishment is a nifty tool.  Living in the days of “Base Mana” everywhere, it’s really nice to face something that’s based on maximum mana.  Essentially, if you’ve got a Ret Pally, a Survival Hunter, or a Shadow Priest, you’re getting the Replenishment buff.  It’s a 15 second buff which gives you 0.25% of your maximum mana back per second.  How much is that?  Well, it depends entirely on how much mana you can get for yourself.  You get more regen the more mana you have, so buff up!  (And yes, Discipline Priests have an advantage here with Mental Strength.)

Crit is also interesting.  Current theory holds that 20-25% is the “magic number” to aim for when getting crit rating.  It’s not a direct regen stat, but it snags you time Oo5SR through Surge of Light and Holy Concentration procs.  Why 20-25%?  That’s 1 cast in 4-5. Put simply, with that much crit, you’re looking at potentially one Surge of Light proc per tap of CoH.  Needless to say, that’s pretty snacky.

intIntellect vs Spirit

So with the addition of Replenishment, and the fact that Spirit isn’t so OP, you may be thinking to start stacking Int for all your regen needs.  If you are, stop right there! Zusterke from PlusHeal (all my healing readers also read Plus Heal, right?  Right?!) made an awesome post outlining exactly why you should not be focusing on one stat and ignoring all the others.  For the healcraft-averse, the TL;DR can be summed up as:  Don’t stack!  You want a 1:1 ratio between Int and Spirit! That applies to any spirit-based healing class: Trees, Discipline, or Holy.

EDIT 12/3 : Zusterke has published a tool to let you calculate exactly how much regen an upgrade/consumeable/anything else will net you.  Available at Zusterke’s Corner: where undead test their brains…

So to sum up:

  • Spirit isn’t what it used to be.  Dependent on spec, you may find mp5 is better.
  • Smart Priests choose Int!
  • But not too much, you’re aiming at a 1:1 ratio between Intellect and Spirit for best regen.
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Seri sez: Account Security – If you’re not paranoid, you should be.

November 27, 2008

Sorry folks, no pictures this week… just a big wall of text. Really, I’m lucky I got this much done with the NaNoWriMo deadline looming. 12.5k to go!

I’m not sure if there has been a rise in WoW account theft/hacking since the expansion or if it’s just sheer coincidence that two people I know were hacked in the last week. Nonetheless, it is a matter that deserves community attention.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that pretty much everyone knows someone whose account has been compromised. Horror stories abound, from characters deleted/transferred/liquidated to guild banks emptied and candy stolen from babies. The sad and inescapable truth is that there are a lot of truly despicable human beings (and I use the term loosely) out there who think nothing of preying on others for personal gain.

Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean no one’s out to get you.

While the theft of virtual valuables may not be quite as extreme as busting kneecaps for ‘protection’ money or swindling old ladies out of their retirement fund, it can be a violation on a very personal level… kind of like coming home to find your underwear drawer empty and your cat missing.

To safeguard your account…

Choose a secure password and change it regularly. 8 characters minimum. No dictionary words. No dictionary words done ’133t’ style. Use a mixture of letters and numbers, upper case and lower. Throw in a symbol or two. Don’t use your birthday! If you have trouble remembering the password… great. It’s a lot less likely to be guessed. Eventually you’ll have it memorized, I promise.

Don’t use the same login/password combination for multiple online services. One of the most common methods of gaining login/password information is for a savvy hacker to trick you into following a link to a fake login page for a bank or other common online service (eBay, Paypal, Amazon, etc.) and use that login/password combination at other common online services to see if they work. Of course, you can’t change your WoW account username, but using a different password than you use for other online stuff will protect you against this sort of attack.

Always be suspicious of links in e-mail and web forums. Speaking of links, you should never click blindly on links you’re given in e-mail/forums (or even blogs, really). A link may not be necessarily what it claims to be. It could send you somewhere entirely different from where you’re expecting, and you might not realize it until it’s too late. This is how keyloggers are commonly spread, and how malicious e-mails trick you into visiting fake web pages as mentioned previously. When in doubt, right click the link and there should be an option to copy it. Paste it manually into your browser address bar and look at it before you hit enter to load the page. Is it supposed to go to eBay? Why does it go to ‘hahahackers.it/ebayspoof’? Check the domain name. If it doesn’t match where you’re supposed to be going, don’t load the page!

Don’t open attachments from untrusted sources. (And think carefully about who you trust!) Viruses and keyloggers are often spread through attachments. If you don’t know who it’s from, don’t open it. Caution may be warranted even if you do know the person, if they are what you would consider to be technologically challenged.

Don’t share your login/password. When you give someone your login/password, you’re not only trusting them to not give it out you’re trusting that their security precautions are as rigorous as yours. All the security in the world won’t help you if you give your buddy your account info and he has a keylogger.

Invest in an authenticator. These little things are a marvelous way to keep your account safe for a small one-time investment. When your account is protected by an authenticator, even if a hacker gets access to your login/password they can’t log in unless they have the code from your authenticator, which changes every minute or so. The down side? If you lose it or don’t have it with you, you’re locked out of your account until you find it (or until you contact Blizzard and jump through whatever hoops they require). Also, if you do share your login/password with someone you’ll have to give them the PIN from your authenticator and they’ll need to enter it in quickly before it expires. Note: For the International audience, authenticators are also available for Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Latin America, Europe and Korea.

Run virus/malware scans regularly and update your virus definitions religiously. (Especially if you use Windows.) You can never be too careful. Get yourself a scanner and schedule it to run automatically overnight so you don’t have to remember to run it yourself. No, I don’t really have any to suggest… I’m a blogger not a security consultant. I use ClamXAV on my Mac. YMMV.

To safeguard friends, family and guildies…

Be at least peripherally aware of their habits and/or alert for strange behavior. I once noticed a level 70 guildie had been hanging out in Azshara for hours, so I sent him a whisper just to ask how he was doing. He replied, and I was relieved. I told him that I had been concerned because he hadn’t said a peep in guild chat since logging on and he’d been hanging out in Azshara for hours… something very unusual for him. He was thankful that I’d been looking out for him!

If they ask you to log them in, ask them to change their password first or remind them to change it when you’re finished. It may seem silly, but what is it they say about an ounce of caution? Yeah. If nothing else, it gets them to change their password if they haven’t been.

Submit a ticket if you are suspicious. Although a GM will never boot someone or restore gold/items unless the request comes from the account owner, it’s good to start a paper trail in case they need to build a timeline. You won’t get anything but a canned response, but that’s OK. It’s all about due diligence.

If you are a guildmaster…

Take extra precautions. You are more vulnerable than anyone in your guild if your account is hacked. A GM friend of mine logged in the other day to find out that not only had her main character been stripped bare, others had been deleted and her guild had been disbanded. When I was a guildmaster, this sort of thing was my personal nightmare. I still worry about it, due to the sheer amount of time I have put into growing my characters, though at least now the fate of a guild isn’t in my hands.

Set withdrawl limits. The only person who should have unlimited access is the Guildmaster, who should be rigorously following the aforementioned account security suggestions. Remember: Even with limits, the more characters a player has in the guild the more an intruder can steal from the guild bank.

Review your transaction logs for suspicious activity. You don’t have to keep track of everything everyone takes out, but get in the habit of checking the transaction log every day just to make sure no one is making mass withdrawls. If you are suspicious about someone, bump them down to a rank that has no withdrawl access until you get a chance to talk to them and verify all is well.

Picking up the pieces.

If your security precautions ever fail you, don’t panic. Blizzard can and will restore your items once the account is back in your hands. Here are a couple things to note:

  1. It may take several petitions to get everything restored. I hate to say it but… GMs can be lazy. When one of my officers was hacked earlier this year it took several weeks and numerous petitions to get everything back. They just kept leaving stuff out.
  2. Check your billing info. Someone I know once had his account hacked and didn’t realize that they’d changed his account to bill to a stolen credit card. A couple months later, Blizzard locked his account and it took a lot of jumping through hoops and a cashier’s check to get it turned back on.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t this overkill?” That’s really for you to decide. Just by reading this and thinking about it you’re already way ahead of the curve. If I’ve said even one thing here that affects (or reinforces) the way you approach account security, then I consider this article a success. We’ve all put in the time and the effort to get where we are, and while stolen items/gold/characters are only temporary losses they are still an interruption of our enjoyment of the game. Don’t let it happen to you!

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