Posts Tagged ‘WotLK’

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Jov sez: Search Engine Fail (part 2)

May 19, 2009

I know, you guys are probably thinking I’m such a follower.  After all, Seri did this for Christmas.  But it was MY idea that she stole (like every other good idea she has…) so I feel absolutely zero guilt in stealing it back.  Besides, some of these are really full of wtf’ery, and need to be shared.

  • funny good morning – Obviously you guys have never seen us in the morning.  It’s not particularly funny, unless you think laughing AT us before we’ve had our respective early-morning wake-up beverages is a wise decision with an eye toward future life expectancy.  Let’s just say we’re not morning people and if you don’t want us turning our guns on you, leave it at that.
  • wotlk heroic keys – That information will cost you.  Send 50,000 gold to Joveta @ Scarlet Crusade US and I’ll send you all the heroic keys for this expansion.  *cough*  No, really, there aren’t any.
  • wotlk leveling as disc – Perfectly viable, though doing it as holy is better.  Check out my How2Priest series for more detailed information.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
  • blood elf priest – Well, I suppose you’ve come to the right place.  We’ve both got blood elf priests.  There’s a picture of blood elf priests in the header of our site.  We talk about priests throughout the course of this blog.  I’d say that actually might have come to the right place.
  • warsong offensive quartermaster – There isn’t one, really.  Warsong Offensive is serviced by the Horde Expedition, which is the meta-faction.  The quartermaster is in Warsong Hold in Borean Tundra.  The chick is named Gara Skullcrush (pretty awesome orc name, if I do say so myself).  She’s on the second floor.  If you take the elevator down from the flightpath, she’ll be right in front of you where you get off.
  • shadow priest spell rotation wotlk – Not that kind of blog.  But short answer: VT > SWP > DP > MB > SWD > MF per MaxDPS.com.
  • fissure – This one is Seri’s fault.  You want her void zone post here.  If you’re looking for something else, gtfo this blog.
  • illidan – I’m not entirely certain what’s up with this one.  This is the most consistent hit that  comes here (and has been one of the top searches every week since we started this blog) that doesn’t have “snarkcraft” in the search phrase anywhere.  He’s a fun fight, and an interesting character lore-wise…  but he’s not a contributor to this blog.

I hope that cleared some stuff up, when it didn’t just totally muddy the waters even more.  Apologies for the sudden WoS downtime last week.  We were both laid up sick (I had food poisoning, she had some weird manbirdpig flu or something.)

And finally a personal note:  Axiom is Recruiting! I know there are a lot of guilds out there looking to add members for Ulduar, but if you’re Horde, in a US CST-friendly timezone, and shopping for a guild, you should definitely check us out.  (And while you’re at it, check out the guildie blogs listed to the right in our blog roll, just so you know what you’re getting into.)  Current needs are 1 druid of each type (trees, bears, and boomchicken, oh my!), a holy pally, a holy priest (*nudge nudge*), and 3 ranged DPS of any type.  You can check out our official recruitment post for more information on times, loot, progression, etc., or just mosey on over to our forums to apply.

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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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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: Wrath, Week 2

November 25, 2008

Stats: Joveta, lv 74 Holy Priest, currently specced 14/46/5 for ease of questing, getting shunted into DPSing instances surprisingly often, and pwning healing instances the rest of the time.  I’m going to continue with the potpourri “everything” updates, simply because there’s so much out there and I have no idea where to focus.

Wolvar Rock

wolvar

Nothing much else needs to be said.  How much more amazingly great can you get than little badger/wolverine people?  They’re fierce, they’re adorable, and they’ve got bushy tails.  The first time I saw one I was riding through Dragonblight picking up flightpaths.  I just stopped, squealed, and let them beat on me for a bit while I went off to Tarsus how completely adorable they are. (Disclaimer:  My favorite class in D&D is druid.  Whenever I play a druid, they have a Badger or Wolverine as their companion.  I’m not hugely fond of the “real thing” as far as those particular critters go, but for whatever reason, they’re just my pet of choice in any given game situation.  I’m not a fanatic badger-lover, I’m a GEEKY badger-lover.)

Alchemy, however, does not

25 Elixirs and Potions of green and yellow skill for one skillpoint.    Saying that again, it took me TWENTY FIVE items (not counting procs) of level which should have me getting a point every 5ish at most to go from 414 to 415 Alchemy.  You can bet I was ready to kill something.

In the spirit of full disclosure

And to counter the razzing I’ve been giving Seri for abandoning the Priest Path of Good Stuff…  Our guild is rather abruptly looking at a future with no Resto Shammies on the roster.  This means (after some discussion with the guild leader) my Resto Shammy side-side-side project might be seeing a bit more raiding time than originally planned.  I’m not entirely certain how I feel about this; I enjoy Shaman (though not as much as my beloved Priests) and I did bring it up to the Guild Leader as a “just in case,” I suppose without really realizing how likely the “just in case” could be…  In the meantime, I’m left frantically scouring PlusHeal‘s Shaman forum, EJ‘s Class Mechanics forum, and Too Many Annas to try and de-noobify myself as much as possible.  For a just in case.  Yes, I’m like that.

faceless

Old Kingdom is the best instance since Shadow Labs

And for much the same reason.  Time for Fun was my favorite fight until I got to Herald Elephanthead in Old Kingdom and…  I don’t care if he’s got tentacles, he’s my new favoritest favorite thing ever.

And finally,

Different isn’t bad

Really, it isn’t.  Since Wrath released, through various communities, fora and general “word on the street” level chatter, everyone’s been bitching at everyone else over the stupidest stuff.  If you level faster than me, you’re a loser with no life.  If you level slower, you need to suck it up and l2p.  If you’re a hardcore raider, you’ve got it in for casuals.  If you’re a casual, you’re ruining the game for the hardcore.

Do you see how stupid that all sounds?  (Of course you do…  the class of person reading this blog is much higher than the bitchy idiots with nothing better to do than piss and moan over what other people are doing in the game.)  Just…  remember it.  What should have been drummed into everyone’s head in kindergarten when we were learning to share and using the Crayola “you couldn’t cut yourself with these if you wanted to” scissors was just because someone or something is different than me, doesn’t make them bad.

Seriously, people.  Grow up.

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Jov sez: Notes on Wrath

November 18, 2008

Ready for it?  The quick and dirty recap of my first few days in Wrath.

Stats: Joveta, a lv 71 Holy Priest, currently specced 14/43/5 for maximum familiarity + damage boost.  My first upgrade is in my bags waiting on another 1/2 level (Life-Staff of the Web Lair from Azjol-Nerub to replace my BT priest onna stick.  I’m not worried about the health nerf too much).  I’m currently hearthed to Dalaran and totally in love with it.

Dalaran

Wrath is like Disneyland:  pretty, fun, and full of lines.

So there I was, on the Ancient Lift wondering what was up with it and where it would take me.  I step on a gondola and off we go down the mountain!  It was fast!  It was pretty!  It was full of people!  I couldn’t resist a /yell of “WHEEE!” on my way down.

And at the bottom?  Walrus-people.  How awesome is that?  I know I’ve been on that ride at Disney Land before…

(Also, Grizzly Hills is Frontier Land.  I don’t care what any of you say.  It totally is.)

Dear Pack of Power-leveling Noobs:  Please stop stealing my quest mobs.

The primary reason Jov is still lv 71 is because I HATE fighting for quest mobs.  Seriously, I hate it.  I’m not a terribly competitive person, and I hate the meanness of the “every man for himself, tag stuff as quick as possible, SWD spamming” attitude I have to take to get anything done.  I’ve said from the start my primary plan is to sit out the first week, let all the crazy power-levelers get ahead of me, and then do my questing and leveling in peace.

I’m sticking to that.  The only quests I’ve done for the most part are chains leading to instances, or things that don’t have me waiting an hour to kill something for a quest.  Lots of delivery, lots of “go here, do that” and the like.  Most of my XP has probably honestly come from discovery and instancing.

Ode to Lorem:  Nerf Paladins

Our server-first 80 is a Ret Paladin in my guild.  I don’t feel too bad about my lack of levels comparatively; he’s also the guy I’ve seen take alts from 1-60 in a week.  He’s always crazy-fast about leveling.  (He could totally make a mint selling his services to power-leveling companies. *cough*)

OMGSPIDERS! And other tales of instancing in Wrath.

It’s usually a good idea to read up on boss strats before going into an instance, as we learned from Azjol-Nerub over the weekend.  We downed the first boss, killed a few waves of trash (“Where are they all coming from?!”  “That one did a yell calling for reinforcements.”  “Oh good, I thought I’d ass-pulled!”) and then Seri tabbed out to look up the boss strat.  The spider boss.  Who decided to eat my face as she was reading us the strat over vent.  (“I was tabbed out and all of a sudden heard Jov going ‘EEEEEEEEK’ so I tabbed back in and..  hello giant spider!”)  (Also, Jov is severely Arachnophobic.  So I felt justified in screaming on vent like a little girl when the giant spider ran up and tried to eat me.  Shaddup.)

Tarsus fails at falling.  He was the only death on the way down the hole after the second boss.  We’re trying to get that added to his guild note.

Utgarde Keep is…  neat, but some strange combination of boring and a pita.  It’s quick, it’s linear, but the bosses are annoying and all the trash is exactly the same.  I really love the “Hall of the Mountain King” feeling to the architecture, however.  (I do wish I’d remembered to take a screenshot of myself with Currant at the meeting stone, however.  I’m certain he was wondering who the crap the belf priest who was waving, hugging, and cheering at him was…)

Nexus is my new favorite instance.  It’s Dire Maul/Botanica feel, coupled with actual FUN boss fights (each of the bosses have gimmicks, but they’re FUN gimmicks) make it feel faster and lighter than Utgarde.  Of course, that could also be the lighting.

Who is this rogue and what has it done with Seri?

One nice thing about Seri focusing on leveling her rogue is the fact we actually get to instance together.  Not that Seri turned down opportunities to go lawlsmite and stick me on heal duty in the past, but the group we’ve been running with since the Expansion released of Warrior/Priest/Rogue/Mage/Wildcard has felt like an unstoppable instancing machine.

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Seri sez: Shadow for the Holy CL, revised (patch 3.0)

October 16, 2008

As promised, I’ve updated my guide for reviewing Shadow Priests for patch 3.0. If you read the original, this will probably seem very familiar! Although much of the wording remains the same, the details about gear rankings, spell hit cap, stat balance, talents and spell rotations have changed significantly.

At one time, I had 10 Priests under my purview. Although there have been a few casualties, we are still legion; the Priest class is the largest in our guild and it’s my job to evaluate both the Holy and Shadow Priests. I’ve always been Holy, so when I took on a class lead role I knew I had my work cut out for me. Fortunately for you, you can now benefit from all of my hard work. By following these guidelines, you can whip those Shadow Priests into shape… or at least find out what sort of shenanigans they’ve been getting away with.

Reviewing Gear

Reviewing any character is a multi-step process. I like to start with their armory profile. Have a gander at their gear, and determine if it is appropriate for the level of content that you’re running. ShadowPriest.com has a great gear list that you can use to see if they are missing easily obtainable upgrades. Just keep in mind that just because something is higher on the list than something else doesn’t necessarily mean it is more desirable; it depends on what else the SP is wearing and what their over all stat needs are. There is a ‘big picture’ here and you have to take that into account.

Spell Power: T6 Shadow Priests should have at minimum 1100-1200 Spell Power–more if you’ve been deep in T6 content for a while.

Hit Rating: Shadow Priests hit cap at 289.55 Hit Rating, with 3/3 Shadow Focus and 3/3 Misery (more about that later).

Critical Strike Rating: One of the big changes in 3.0/Wrath is that Mind Flay can crit. (Also, spell crit chance is being added to DoT damage in the beta, so that may go live eventually too. If you have 20% crit rating, your DoTs would do 120% damage every tick with this change.) Critical Strike Rating is now much more valuable to Shadow Priests, but most won’t really have a chance to start stacking it until Wrath due to the increase in hit rating requirements.

Haste Rating: Shadow Priests shouldn’t start stacking haste until they are up around 1400 Spell Power fully raid buffed. However, once they get to that point, haste is love.

Enchants: Make sure they have an enchant for all enchantable slots (helm, shoulders, cloak, chest, wrist, gloves, pants, boots, weapon) including rings if they are an enchanter. They should have spell power for bracers, gloves (hit or crit also acceptable depending on individual needs) and weapon, though Soulfrost is also good to see (and as far as I know still exists in 3.0). Chest should be +6 Stats or Mp5. I require Subtlety and Boar’s Speed for my Shadow Priests, but your policies may vary.

Gems: Rather than simply gemming for max spell power, Shadow Priests now need to balance spell power with hit, crit, spirit and (eventually) haste. Gem choices may vary a little bit depending on individual needs, but if you see anything wacky like Spell Penetration wield your clue-by-four with impunity!

Reviewing Spec

Next, tab over to their talent sheet. There isn’t a heck of a lot to look for here, because if you opened up your Shadow tree and face rolled on your keyboard you would be bound to get most of your points in useful talents. It’s not uncommon to see Shadow Priests sink 50+ talent points in Shadow. However, an optimal raid spec will make room for key Discipline talents. Things to look for:

PvP Talents: Make sure the Shadow Priest isn’t raiding with a PvP build, which will be characterized by things like Imp Psychic Scream, Silence and Psychic Horror. The jury’s still out on Improved Shadow Form. It can be situationally useful in PVE, but at level 70 a Shadow Priest really doesn’t have enough talent points to pick it up without losing something more useful.

Twin Disciplines/Improved Inner Fire: Remember I mentioned that Discipline tree? Twin Disciplines is a must, as it directly affects Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death, Mind Flay & Devouring Plague. That’s something like 95% of a Shadow Priest’s spell rotation right there. Improved Inner Fire only becomes important at level 71, when Inner Fire grants a spell power bonus as well as an armor bonus. Not terribly important as of 3.0, but something to keep in mind come Wrath.

Shadow Affinity: Threat reduction? Yes, please.

Improved Vampiric Embrace: Although Vampiric Embrace is required for Shadow form, Improved VE is completely optional for raiding. VE generates a ton of threat, making it only situationally useful. If your Shadow Priests are putting points in Imp VE, make sure they’re not neglecting something else.

Shadow Weaving: This talent was reduced from 5 points to 3 points in 3.0, and all 3 are worth having. This debuff now only affects the Shadow Priest rather than the entire raid. Nonetheless, it’s a debuff no Shadow Priest will want to do without.

Shadow Focus and Misery: As mentioned earlier, with 3/3 Shadow Focus and 3/3 Misery, a Shadow Priest hit caps at 139. This is almost double the hit cap from pre-3.0, with 5/5 Shadow Focus. Although the hit cap is higher now, it’s still possible to reduce the # of points spent on Shadow Focus/Misery (though why you’d want to reduce points spent in Misery is a mystery to me) if there is a surplus of hit rating.

Spell Hit Caps (courtesty of SP.com):

* 289.55 hit is the cap with 6 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 314.78 hit before you can go to 5 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 341.02 hit before you can go to 4 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 367.25 hit before you can go to 3 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 393.48 hit before you can go to 2 points between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 419.71 hit before you can go to 1 point between Shadow Focus and Misery
* 445.94 hit before you can go to 0 points between Shadow Focus and Misery

Reviewing WWS

If you are a serious raider, you’re probably already familiar with WowWebStats. If not, well, this section might not make a lot of sense but hopefully you can follow along. WWS reports are a bloated with information, and either adored or reviled by raiders. While I enjoy digging around in WWS to look at stats, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. WWS takes a lot of flak for creating unnecessary competition between raiders, but for me it’s a great tool for performance evaluation. The trick is knowing what to look at and what to not care about.

Forget Trash: When reviewing your Shadow Priests, drill down to individual bosses. While it might be useful to take a quick glance at the trash stats, trash is not optimal for performance tracking for casters–especially casters that rely on DoTs and channeled spells for a lot of their damage.

Don’t Forget Mobility: A lot of boss fights are about mobility, and the more time folks spend repositioning themselves the less time they spend DPSing. Pick low mobility fights as your ‘benchmark’ fights when looking for raw DPS numbers.

Spell Rotation: Shadow Priest spell rotation is done by priority rather than casting things in a set order. The idea is to keep Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague up at all times, Mind Blast whenever the cooldown is up, Shadow Word: Death whenever it’s safe and otherwise Mind Flay. Ideally, the SP should be using a DoT timer and refreshing DoTs right as they wear off. For example, VT has a shorter duration than SWP; it should be refreshed whenever it needs refreshing rather than waiting until SWP wears off. When looking at an individual Priest’s stats, look for the ‘Dots’ field for all DoTs. These numbers should be the same if not close to the same. If there are large variations here, the SP is not staying on top of their DoTs. Bad SP, no biscuit!

Calculating DoT Uptime: DoT Uptime is defined as ‘the amount of time DoTs are kept up’. This isn’t something you’ll want to do after every raid for every boss, but I like to spot check folks here and there–sort of like a pop quiz for Shadow Priests. The formula is pretty simple (it’d have to be, because I suck at math):

DoT Uptime % = (# dot ticks * 3) / fight-duration-in-seconds * 100

So, let’s say a fight is 4 minutes long and during that 4 minutes a SP had 80 ticks of SWP:

80 * 3 = 240
240 / 240 = 1
1 *100 = 100%

There you have it. 80 ticks of SWP in a 240 second (4 minute) fight is 100% DoT uptime. That’s pretty optimistic though, let’s take a real world (such that it is) example:


These screenshots are taken from an actual WWS report, for a Teron Gorefiend fight. This particular priest died during the fight, but was present for 97%. We’ll use the amount of time she was alive for our calculations… after all, we can’t really hold her accountable for keeping DoTs up after she died. As you can see from the first picture, she was alive for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, which is 227 seconds according to my calculator widget. Next, look for the SWP ticks on the ‘dots’ column of the damage out breakdown: 71. Plugging it in:

71 * 3 = 213
213 / 227 = .938(ish)
.938 * 100 = 93.8%

So, for this Gorefiend attempt this Shadow Priest’s DoT Uptime was 93%… I should give her a cookie. I love to see DoT Uptime over 90% but anywhere in the mid-80′s is acceptable for mobility fights (which Gorefiend is not).

What else can WWS tell you? All sorts of things. Just looking at the above images, you can see that our guinea pig’s DPS for that fight was 1264 and that her VT/SWP ratio was pretty close. If anything, I’d suspect that she was waiting for VT to wear off before re-casting. Since VT has a casting time, you can start casting it before VT actually wears off (without clipping the last tick) as long as you’re watching the dot timer. WWS will also show you buffs gained, so you can tell whether someone was using a flask, how often they used buff food, mana potions, their Shadowfiend and more.

Personal Observation

Last but not least: the often underestimated personal observation stage of the review process. Does the SP show up for raids on time and stocked with all the consumables and reagents that they need? Do they help with buffing Fortitude and Shadow Protection as needed? Are they dying a lot, and if so is it because of threat issues or poor situational awareness? Are they following instructions? Going AFK frequently? Zoning out on trash? Managing their mana/cooldowns well? Set them as your focus target for an hour or so if needed to keep an eye on them.

Final Thoughts

Even though we Holy Priests are healing specialists, that doesn’t mean that we have to be ignorant about how the ‘other half’ lives. My studies of Shadow Priest tactics/gear have made me a stronger player in general, not to mention a stronger Class Lead.

Although patch 3.0.2 is now live, Blizzard is still rigorously testing talents for Wrath and beyond; changes are bound to be made in the coming weeks. I’ll keep revising this document whenever it seems necessary. Your comments and suggestions are welcome; past comments have already contributed to improvements in this revision!

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Jov sez: Looking Forward

October 14, 2008

I try to not spend too much time focusing on Wrath in or out of blog.  It’s not because I’m not looking forward to it (because I am) or because I’m trying to exist in a bubble of spoiler-free existence (I saved that for my media lock-downs during Harry Potter releases.)  No, the reasons I try to avoid expending too much attention and focus on Wrath can be summed up quite simply:

  • I don’t have a beta key.
  • Beta is a time of flux, I don’t have the brainpower or stamina to keep track of every change.
  • I don’t want to spend so much time looking at next month that I forget to have fun with this one.

I don’t have a beta key, and I’m alright.

No, really, I’m alright.  I don’t really want a beta key, so I’m perfectly happy not having one.  This has very little do with leading a spoiler-free existence.  Seri has a key, I read plenty of bloggers with keys, some of which include movies (BRK’s Rhino Bowling is a favorite), and I consider myself plenty “spoiled” to many of the surprises in Wrath.

My happiness being key-free is all about time.  I’m still raiding regularly (we just officially moved to a 3-night schedule from 4, though I still participate in the occasional 10-mans) and between 3-5 nights a week in-raid, I don’t want to spend more time poking around things I’m going to be poking around in a month.  Wrath is coming, I’ll be here when it gets here.  It’s a very zen thing.

Beta is all about change.

This isn’t about anything but me being lazy.  I really don’t see the point in keeping track of each and every tiny change, tweak, or buff while it doesn’t even affect me.  I’m not talking about the large, sweeping changes (I’m as annoyed with the death of downranking as anyone, but it’s intended and Blizzard isn’t going to change their design principle because I add my voice to the QQ), but the gradual process of balancing and rebalancing that every class is currently facing.  What does it matter if a change suddenly has me doing 12% more DPS than every other DPS class out there when it’ll be normalized in a week?  I’m not going to base a build on it, just because I know I’ll need to rethink and rebuild in the next patch.

This probably is also a good reason I’m not a beta-tester.  I’m too lazy for feedback.

I want to focus on the game I’m in.

Currently, I’m playing World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.  It’s a fun game I’m playing with my friends.  I’m currently raiding Black Temple and Sunwell Plateau, and in my off-time, I’m leveling a hunter and warlock.

Oh yeah, Burning Crusade…  Sound familiar?  That’s the game that we’re still playing for a month.  That’s more resets of the current raid instances to focus on.  More dailies, quests, alting, crafting.  More time to prepare for Wrath, yes, but focus on the game that is, not the game that will be.

And all that being said, what am I looking forward to most in Wrath?

  • Naxx — I can’t help it.  We’d only started poking at it before TBC was released, and thanks to rerolling, I never got attuned on Jov to participate in the few and infrequent pokes into there my guild made.  However, my impressions of Naxx were entirely positive (Hey, tanking Razuvius?  That was AWESOME.)
  • Dual-specs — I know, I know, not in Wrath, but in one of the early content patches after.  Seri teases me that my specs are going to be a single-target deep discipline healing spec and an AOE heal spec.  She’s not far off.  Being able to do swap to fill a need without having to go respec to do it will be awesome.
  • Dance Studio — Again, I know it’s not going to happen in November, but it’s still really exciting for me.  I love seeing new things, and opportunities for customization are awesome.
  • Quest chains — I’m not a big quester.  I’m also not terribly knowledgeable on Lore.  All that being said, the big, story-driven chains really float my boat.  Nesingwary be hanged, I want more reason for killing 50 pieces of local wildlife than just proving my worth as a hunter (Hello, Mr. Nesingwary…  I’m not a hunter.  I’m a priest, see?  Staff, robes, wand, massive healing powers…  Priest!) and chains in general feel more thought-out and interesting than simple grinding.

So, yeah, there’s my list.  I’m going to try and continue to keep things in perspective while dealing with what is currently on my plate, which means I’m probably not going to talk much more about these things until Wrath actually hits.  I’m not living in the past, I’m living in the present.

I know I promised a continuation of my Aargh Numbers! post, but Dwarf Priest has created a much better post than I ever could.  I strongly encourage all of you to check it out.
(Seriously, if you’re a priest and haven’t poked it yet, for shame! Go now!)

I would like to observe a moment of silence.  Holy Nova is now an in-class ability, and thus my Holy Nova-free existance is at an end.  /mourn  (You can make me take it, Blizzard, but you can’t make me use it! /mad)

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