Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Death Knight leveling spec

A comment from David made me think it might be useful to write about my DK build and share my experiences with her so far. While I hope someone finds this useful, I didn't really have the time/gold to experiment with the different trees or even different Unholy builds, so it's quite likely that there are better ways to go about this. Also, as I'm writing this the Armory is down, so I'm going off my (shoddy) memory.

So let's get down to the interesting(?) stuff. From what I heard about DKs before starting playing one, I figured Frost was the relatively low DPS "tanking" build, Blood was more single target DPS, and Unholy had pretty good single target DPS with better AoE. Also, Unholy lets you control your ghoul like a pet and removes its limited duration, thus either helping you DPS or your bank account (Corpse Dust might be cheap, but if you have to use one every 2 minutes it'll add up). I ended up with this spec at level 71, with this being what I'm going for at 80.

Now, in general, while questing I've had pretty much no downtime between fights and hardly any problems with group quests, so I skipped over most of the "defensive" talents in favor of more DPS. This might change in Northrend, but it's working pretty well for now.

The Talents

These are the Tier 1 Unholy talents (numbers in parenthesis represent how many points the talent is):
  • Vicious Strikes(2) - More and better crits for some very of the most often used spells.
  • Morbidity(3) - Better Death Coil (runic power dump) and lower CD on Death and Decay (15 seconds instead of 30, for a 10 second spell). Basically, the 2 skills defining DKs from Warcraft 2 get improved. How can you go wrong?
  • Anticipation(5) - 5% dodge, not much to say.
As I said, there's no real need for extra dodge while soloing, and the other 2 talents are pretty good so it was a pretty easy decision.

Tier 2 brings us:
  • Epidemic(2) - Since you always want to have your victim as diseased as possible, having to renew them less often definitely helps.
  • Virulence(3) - Spell hit might be a problem against raid bosses or in PvP, but not an area I've had a problem with so far (especially with all the +hit on Outland gear). Making the diseases harder to dispell is strictly a PvP thing. Could be a good place to stick some filler points, but I ignored it in my build.
  • Unholy Command(2) - Better Death Grip mostly means better tanking. If you're soloing you don't usually need it.
  • Ravenous Dead(3) - Since we'll soon have a ghoul without limited duration, making it stronger is not a bad idea.
For Tier 3 we have:
  • Outbreak(3) - Increased damage for Plague Strike (one of the diseases) and for AoE damage spells. Pretty useful when fighting more than 1 mob.
  • Necrosis(5) - More DPS, plain and simple. Good filler, unless you prefer Virulence.
  • Corpse Explosion(1) - Seemed like a good idea at first so I picked it up, but then I ended up not really using it as it's a little too situational. It also uses up a rune, which can mess with your rotation (assuming you have one), so not exactly my thing. I suppose I could think of uses for it for PvP, maybe even raiding/instancing, but not that useful for soloing.
As you can see in my spec, I ended up filling all 5 points in Necrosis to move up the tree, but again - if there are other places you feel will be more useful for your points then go for it.

On to Tier 4:
  • On a Pale Horse(2) - 20% faster mounted speed? Sign me up. The shorter stuns are a nice bonus, but not such a big deal (unless you PvP).
  • Blood-Caked Blade(3) - More DPS again. Again, good for filler.
  • Shadow of Death(1) - More strength and stamina are nice. Turning into a ghoul when you die also has its uses, but not such a big deal. Most importantly, this is required for Master of Ghouls down the line, and we will be getting that.
So 3 points are no-brainers, another 2 in fillers, and we're moving on to Tier 5:
  • Summon Gargoyle(1) - Very helpful for long fights (mostly group quests). Get your runic power to 100, summon your gargoyle and watch it blast whatever's around. Just remember not to use your runic power for anything else while he's out.
  • Impurity(5) - More DPS for spells... I haven't tried it as it didn't strike me as such a good talent at first, but now that I think about it it doesn't look that bad. Let's tag this under filler too.
  • Dirge(2) - No, not that one. This one is actually useful, as opposed to just spamming your trade channel. More runic power never hurts.
Again, 3 points in new talents and 2 in fillers, and now we get to have a real pet in Tier 6:
  • Magic Suppression(5) - The reduced magic damage isn't that critical, and the improved Anti-Magic Shell isn't either, at least not while soloing. Feel free to skip this one. It is required if you're aiming for Anti-Magic Zone, though, so if you want that you'll have to fill this up.
  • Reaping(3) - Death runes can basically count as any rune, so getting 3/3 here really opens up a lot of new possible rotations, and gives you some flexibility when things aren't that straightforward.
  • Master of Ghouls(1) - Full control of your ghoul and no more limited duration. If Warlocks are Hunters in dresses, we're Hunters in plate. Yay, us!
We're almost there, Tier 7:
  • Desecration(5) - More DPS and helps catch up with those pesky runners. Pretty useful.
  • Unholy Aura(2) - The aura part isn't that interesting, and you get Unholy Presence at 70. Still, I hate having to switch presences all the time and I run with Blood Presence, so I decided to take this as well. I won't blame you if you put these 2 points somewhere else, though.
In Tier 8 we have:
  • Night of the Dead(2) - With Master of Ghouls we don't need a reduced CD for our pet (maybe for PvP, but I still don't see it) and we don't get Army of the Dead until 80, so this is really a waste of points.
  • Crypt Fever(3) - More damage for diseases, and required for Ebon Plaguebringer a little down the line. Especially good for AoE, as a lot of the damage is caused by diseases spread to other mobs using Pestilence.
  • Bone Shield(1) - Taking less damage isn't such a big deal for me, and although the extra damage is nice, it seems like 4 charges and a 5 minute duration would just make this too much of a bother for me. Still, it looks like a lot of people are picking this up, so maybe it is worth it.
So 3 points in Crypt Fever and 2 points to finish up the previous tier (unless you skip Unholy Aura, in which case you have yet more filler). On to Tier 9:
  • Wandering Plague(3) - More damage, especially if you're AoEing. It does depend on your crit chance, though, so keep it as high as possible.
  • Ebon Plaguebringer(3) - We took Crypt Fever for a reason. Now our diseases are even stronger, and the crit chance goes nicely with Wandering Plague.
  • Scourge Strike(1) - More damage than Death Strike for the same cost, this should replace it most of the time. You should still use Death Strike to heal up, though.
Must've been Christmas with all those goodies there, I almost feel bad that it only takes 5 points to move up to the next tier. With only 1 talent, Tier 10 doesn't give us much choice, but it's a good talent so I can't really complain:
  • Rage of Rivendare(5) - A little expertise for our PvPers, and more damage to our spells for everyone. Pretty good investment.
And finally, sitting pretty at the top, our 51-point talent is:
As you've probably noticed, there are still some points missing in tiers 9/10, which I decided to fill out and I put another point to finish off Blood-Caked Blade. If you prefer that point somewhere else, go for it - it was filler anyway. Now, you'd think we were done, but we still have some points left on our way to 80, so let's move across to Blood.

In Tier 1 we can have:
  • Butchery(2) - Getting runic power after kills isn't as useful as getting them while you're still fighting, but still pretty good. Definitely better than putting it in Blade Barrier (unless you're tanking).
  • Subversion(3) - Higher crit chance on a few abilities, pretty decent.
  • Blade Barrier(5) - Useful for mitigating damage, if that's what you're going for. But we already know that it isn't.
Then, Tier 2 brings us:
  • Bladed Armor(5) - Good thing we wear plate. It makes this talent really useful.
  • Scent of Blood(3) - I know I said more runic power is good, but not at the cost of 3 talent points when it's this unpredictable.
  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization(2) - More white damage. OK, I guess, but I prefer Bladed Armor.
If you've been paying attention, you'll see this is where currently am, with 3/5 Bladed Armor. That means that as untested as this spec was so far, it'll only get worse for these last couple of levels. So, off we go into the unexplored Tier 3:
  • Rune Tap(1) - Without Improved Rune Tap, this feels pretty weak (especially with a 1 minute CD). Even with IRT, though, it's a 20% heal every 30 seconds, at the cost of a much needed rune.
  • Dark Conviction(5) - Extra crit is good. With Wandering Plague, it's great.
  • Death Rune Mastery(3) - Looks pretty good, and definitely something I would have taken if I were going Blood, but having Scourge Strike means this probably won't see much use.
With our last points, we go to Tier 4:
  • Improved Rune Tap(3) - Obviously, we can't take this if we don't get Rune Tap. And I don't plan to, so that makes it a "no".
  • Spell Deflection(3) - Parrying spells should be really useful for PvP. In solo, I don't see it making that much difference.
  • Vendetta(3) - It's not much, but I don't usually need much health at the end of fights. Seems like a good investment for my last 1/2 points.
So there you have it. Comments are welcome, and so are completely different spec suggestions.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Now what?

I don't know if it's related to not posting for a while, being busy, or what, but I'm having a really hard time finding things to post about. Well, that's not entirely true - I have lots of ideas, but they all seem too small to justify a post all by themselves. Thing is, with Christmas and New Year's, over the next couple of weeks I've got a vacation in Guam (sun and sea, yay!), a ski trip (snow and ski, yay!) and probably a business trip to China, so that means that even though things at work are finally getting less stressed, I still won't have time for anything. BUT... I'm going to go ahead and make myself post about stuff, even if it is only so I can say I posted something and try to get over it. You have my apologies for all the half-baked boring posts that will probably follow.

So why not start my "half-posts" with what happened over the weekend? My DK dinged 70 in Nagrand and went on to clear Blade's Edge. I must say playing an OP class is a lot of fun - there's hardly anyone else out there except for me, but since I can pretty much solo every quest* without help that's not a problem. I'll probably do Area 52 and Shadowmoon Valley too before going out to Northrend since I haven't quested in either of them, so it should be fun. I did get a chance to go to Northrend, though - I hopped on a boat at 68 to go train my trade skills. Can't say I had a chance to actually enjoy the place, though. I'll do that when I finish with Outland.

* OK, so I didn't try Durn... And I had a group for the Ring of Blood. There's a limit to even what a Death Knight can do. I think.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going to see the mistress

Like every Wednesday since the dawn of time, the EU WoW realms had their weekly maintenance yesterday. Since I was bored and didn't have anything to do, I decided to take Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning out for a spin. With one day, 5 alts and 2 making it all the way to level* 7, I figured I'd write a little "comparison" post. For those who aren't really interested, feel free to skip the rest of this post, but don't worry - I'm not leaving WoW any time soon.


Starting the game for the first time, you get to the server selection screen. Nothing special there, except that when you choose an RP realm, it pops up a screen with the RP Realm "code of conduct" and you have to agree to it. Other than the obvious annoyance (only once per server, so it's not really that bad) it gives me hope that RP realms will get better treatment than they do on WoW. From there we move on to the character creation screen. You choose one of two sides - Order a.k.a Alliance or Chaos a.k.a Horde. You can't have characters of both factions on the same server, regardless of whether it's a PvP* realm or not. Each faction has 3 races, each having 3 or 4 unique classes* to choose from which are sometimes limited by gender as well.

The game basics should be familiar to all of you - a lot of mappings are the same, and the basic fighting/casting mechanics are also similar. Characters all have Action Points, which are similar to a rogue's energy or pet's focus - skills use Action Points and they are regenerated fairly quickly throughout the fighting. On top of that, each class has its own distinguishing "mechanic" -
Squig Herders have Squig pets, Witch Elves have Combo Points*, etc. Leveling up you get to train new skills* - so far it looks like you get access to one new ability per level, which is nice since it gives you a chance to learn how to use it instead of dumping 20 skills on you and leaving you to figure out what to do next. Starting at level 11 (theoretically - haven't gotten there yet), you start getting talent points*, which are put into one of 3 trees*. From what I can tell, they're not actually trees, more like lines - everyone who puts the same number of points in a certain tree should have the same bonuses. At least that's what it looks like, I guess I'll know more if and when I actually make it to 11.

Phat Lewts

Items in the game are split into several categories (no surprises here):
  • Quest items - these items have a tab of their own in the inventory screen, and don't take up bag space. Yay!
  • Equippable - Armor (that you can dye), trophies (little adornments to your shoulder armor or belt that have no effect but are still nice) and jems*. Basically anything you can put on in some way or another.
  • Ruined Armor - From what I've seen you don't get actual "working" equipment from looting mobs. Instead you get ruined armor that you can repair at any merchant giving you the actual equipment.
  • Potions.
  • Trade Mats.
  • Trash.
The armor works more pretty much like in WoW, too - random drops are usually BoE, quest rewards BoP. There doesn't seem to be any craftable armor/weapons, which takes us to the next part - Trade Skills.

Trade Skills

Every character in WAR can learn one crafting skill and one "gathering" skill. Two crafting skills to choose from - jewelcrafting and alchemy* (also used to create dyes. Did I already mention that you can dye your armor? Yay!).

Gathering skills are also split into two types. Butchery and Scavanging allow you to "skin" animal and human mobs, respectively, after they're looted to obtain trade materials that can be used for either crafting skill. Cultivation lets you grow herbs (for alchemy) out of seeds and spores that you can loot from mobs, and (Magical) Salvaging lets you turn salvagable items (also looted from mobs) into items used for talisman making.

So, all in all, not as much variety as in WoW here, but I don't have enough experience with this yet to figure out how useful the trade skills actually are.

Moving Through the World

Finally, we get to the really interesting stuff. Each character has a "book", detailing the quests you're on, your achievements, all the usual stuff, but also tells the game's story from your character's viewpoint. Each zone is actually a "Chapter" in the story of one of the races, and they are added to your book as you progress in the game. I think this is really nice - it lets you those who are really into the story go read it at their own time/pace, while not burdening those who just want to get to the level cap (which is 40, BTW).

Each chapter has a Rally Master - an NPC that serves as WoW's innkeeper and faction quartermaster at the same time. Every chapter has its own reputation*, with its own rewards - so far, the first tier lets you select a potion, second lets you select a piece of socketable armor and the third gives you a choice of green armor (much better than other quest rewards in the same chapter).

As for things to do, you have the usual quests and BGs* (for which you can queue up anywhere. Too bad that although I was queued the whole time I didn't get to play any. Not enough people, I guess), but you also have Public Quests. Public Quests are quests that take place in a certain area of the map, where any player can contribute to their progress while they are there - for example, killing 100 whatevers in that region. Killing mobs for the quest grants reputation for that chapter, and when the objective is completed the quest advances to the next step in the quest chains. If any step is failed, or after the quest chain is complete, the whole quest resets and goes back to stage 1. Of course, completing a PQ chain nets you loot - one chest that is rolled for by everyone who took part in the quest (basically, it's like a scoreboard of who contributed the most with another random roll thrown in for the fun). All in all, they were a lot of fun so far, even though I couldn't complete most of them. Additionally, practically every zone has World-PvP objectives that grant certain bonuses to anyone in that zone, but I still didn't get a chance to check it out and figure how exactly it works.


The game UI still has quite a few bugs and issues, although they are fairly minor ones (no crashes or anything that actually "stops" you from playing), and I'm sure they'll all get fixed eventually. The general interaction feels a little clunky and not as smooth as WoW, but that could be psychological. I would have liked to see some more players, but I'm already used to being all alone especically in the middle of the week. All in all, it was pretty good, and definitely has potential as something to replace WoW if I get tired of it, but we're just not at that point yet - neither me nor the game (it wouldn't have hurt them to wait a little longer and polish things up a little more).

* I figured I'd write this post in WoW lingo. For the appropriate WAR terms, see the list below.
  • Alchemist - Apothecary
  • Battleground - Scenario
  • Class - Career
  • Combo Points - Frenzy
  • Jem - Talisman
  • Jewelcrafting - Talisman Making
  • Level - Rank
  • PvP - RvR
  • Reputation - Influence
  • Skill - Ability
  • Talent Point - Mastery Point
  • Talent Tree - Path

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trading in my Holy Priest for an Unholy Death Knight

So, yeah... Busy, have I mentioned that? I'm hoping things will ease up sometime next week. Anyway, in the meantime I did get a little time to play, so I might as well blog about it.

First, it seems like I pretty much abandoned Alierah (the priest) in favor of Alierah (the DK). I tried, I really did. But when every time I tried logging on to her, I could never seem to make up my mind as to what it is I should be doing next, so I relogged on my DK.
I guess that means I should fill you in a little about her, so let's start with the basics. She's human (can't beat Diplomacy), miner/herbalist and she's 64 already (no matter what the armory says). After finishing up the Death Knight starter zone*, I quested in EPL until 60 and then went on to level my gathering professions (and getting the some exploration achievements while I'm at it). From there it was on to Hellfire Peninsula, which seems to be infested with Death Knights (not that that's surprising really), and is now sitting in Tereldor waiting to keep going in Zangarmarsh.
In case you're wondering, yes, DKs are ridiculously fun to play (read: OP). I could solo all the group quests in Hellfire without dying or using a potion. I did, however, use up 1 Bone Dust when my ghoul accidentally died one time.

In other (more ammusing) news, I've had a fairly ammusing "encounter" one of these days. I was questing around minding my own business, when there was there was another DK on the same "kill X mobs" quest as me. So we group up - makes sense, no? And then she had to share this very appropriate and relevant piece of information:

Now, I ask you, WTF? I mean, not that talking about that kind of thing bothers me or anything, but seriously, I've never seen you in my life, I dont know you**, why do you feel the need to tell me something like that? You don't see me going around advertising that I'm cranky 'cause I can't get it up, do you?

Anyways, that's what I've been up to lately. How about you? Anything interesting?

* Which is really great fun, and very nice story-wise. Highly recommended for everyone, even if you don't plan on ever logging on to your DK again in his/her life.

** Not entirely true. About 15 minutes before we met, she was crying in general in all caps that some quest or another was bugged. She didn't take it very nicely when I said there's a known issue where you can't complete the quest with you caps lock turned on... Well, sorry, I was only trying to be helpful, sheesh.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back, but still busy

So I finally got back to Japan on Sunday night, and have been too busy for my own good since. Between having quite a lot of catching up to do at work and having to study for my Japanese exam next week, I didn't get much time for blogging or logging in to the game.
I did have a few hours here and there when I was back home to log in, which I used to make a new Death Knight and see what that's all about, but I have yet to make the trip up north. Hopefully, things will settle down a little next week, so Alierah can go have some fun with walruses (or whatever it is people do in Northrend, I don't know).

Monday, November 10, 2008


I'll be going back home for a couple of weeks' visit on Friday, so I'm not sure if there will be any posts until the end of the month. If there are, good. If not, don't say I didn't warn you.

I wonder if in some perverse sub-concious sort of thing I planned it when Wrath hits on purpose so I could pick it up in Israel (can't find anywhere that would ship the EU version to Japan). Then again, does it even matter?

Where did my weekend go?

I was certain there was supposed to be a weekend between Friday and Monday. Somehow, it just flew by without hardly noticing. I guess time does fly when you're having fun. Define fun? Well, let's see what I did over the weekend:

  • Logged in to Alierah to do some dailies. No, that's not the fun part yet. While I was doing my thing, someone was looking for a healer for Durnholde, and since I've never been there I gladly joined them. The run was "normal" - not too good, not too bad, but still fun. Managed to get the Crown of Endless Knowledge which, other than being an upgrade, just looks great.
  • Decided to quest through the zones I haven't done in Outlands, starting with Blade's Edge Mountains. Pretty much finished all the quest at Thunderlord Stronghold, when I got a whisper asking if I want to do the quest chain to unlock Ogri'la. Finally! You may now address me as "Queen Alierah". =)
  • Played around with Cawti a little. Did the lockpicking quest, picked up all the Deadmines quests, and tried to get a run going. After a few false starts, I headed back to Bloodmyst. Logging on again last night, I managed to find another group, already halfway through*, and together we took care of VanCleef. Got some nice upgrades out of the whole thing - Blackened Defias Belt, Cape of the Brotherhood, and the quest reward Tunic of Westfall. Also got some green weapon upgrades which didn't hurt, and Cookie's Tenderizer which I'm not sure whether or not I want to use (won it on a greed roll). Now I'm getting ready to do the poison quests, and go gather up some Stockade quests. Don't know if I'll actually do it, but it can't hurt to be prepared.
Also, in the "nice but totally unimportant" category - clams stack now. I'm not sure how many you can stack in one slot, but at least 5. Thank you, Blizzard.

* Which was fine, since I managed to finish up all the other quests in the previous runs that fell apart.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Master of Anatomy"? Is that some First Aid skill?

After realizing my noobish mistake*, I took Cawti (human rogue Cawti, not Blood Elf pally Cawty) back to Stormwind to catch the boat to Auberdine and on to Bloodmyst. I was starting to run around killing things, and skinning them while I was at it, when all of a sudden I get a message that I discovered "Master of Anatomy (Rank 1)". So now I have a slightly better crit rating thanks to my leet skinning skills. Got me wondering what the other professions had, until I got another message for discovering Toughness. While it's not as good as the talent, it's still a nice "freebie". Of course, that means Herbalism should also get something, and it did - Lifeblood. Seems pretty nice since, at least for the moment, it heals more than my bandages and doesn't require any cloth. Too bad I didn't know about it when picking professions... Still, no complaints. The copper is selling pretty well on the AH, and I'm even starting to get some tin and make bronze.

So now Cawti's sleeping at the inn, halfway through level 13. I'll probably get her to 16, when I can get the lockpicking quests, and then head back to SW temporarily to do that and maybe catch some Deadmines runs. As always, time will tell if that plan actually works out.

Also, with all the "excitement" of playing Cawti, I didn't get to do dailies last night. You know what? It doesn't bother me too much. It's nice to know I am not enslaved by the race for more gold (at least not yet).

* Hey, when I passed through SW I saw someone else who was just as surprised/confused as me about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's been a while...

Wow, how time flies. I haven't posted since dinging 70... Better do something about that, don't you think? So let's see what we have for today.


Since dinging Alierah's been keeping busy doing dailies, some BGs and a few instances when she can find them. I got her some epics - 2 rings from the headless horseman and 2 pieces of armor from the Argent Dawn for helping to stop the scourge invasion. Other than that, I'm slowly working on getting the Primal Mooncloth set (I somehow forgot about the 4-day cooldown on making Primal Mooncloth, so I only have the belt for now) and leveling up Enchanting. Tailoring is at 374, but should "ding" 375 once I make the shoulders, and Enchanting is currently at 340 waiting for some mats from my bank alt. One very nice potential upgrade I found is a PvP staff, but I need too many AV marks and honor to get it, so I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon. Still, nice to have something to strive for.


I have some confessions to make. First, I'm cheating. Please don't tell WoW - I don't want to hurt it's feelings, but I just got LittleBigPlanet and Eternal Sonata, and they're managing to take up ridiculous amounts of my time.

Second, I've gone and done it again - I started a new alt. Cawti (yes, I sometimes recycle names, deal with it) is a Human rogue on Moonglade. It feels really good being back in Moonglade after so long - even just listening to General and Trade channels feels so much more RP and I donno... Mature? than other servers, so it's really nice. Of course, I started out practically broke there (just had enough money to get 2 Netherweave Bags), so I'm working on getting some money with Mining and Skinning*.

The last one is a little embarassing. Cawti finished up all her business in Elwynn Forest at level 11, and I decided to take her to Bloodmyst Isle to get her up to 20. So I headed to Ironforge, took care of business (like banking all my armor) and ran out to Menethil. So far, so good. When I got there, I decided I might as well get the Theramore flight point, so I did that too. But then I sort of got "stuck". I couldn't find the boat to Auberdine. I've been playing for almost 3 years, rode that boat countless times, and now I couldn't do something as simple as getting to Kalimdor. I went to the dock it was always at, and waited for 10 minutes, but the boat didn't show. Talking to the NPC standing there, he said something about getting the boat to Northrend from there. Obviously, that's not going to happen until Wrath hits, but it left me with an even bigger question - How on Azeroth do I get to Kalimdor? So I looked in the official site, but it seems it wasn't updated yet. Good thing we have WoWWiki to tell us that the boat was moved to Stormwind. So, yeah. That was a waste of time, running all the way to Menethil. /sigh


Doing the dailies with Alierah got me thinking about several things. First, I was thinking about making a guide not so much on which quests are available or how to do them, but what order to do them in to save time. Not sure it's worth it, though, since most people (myself included) probably won't be doing them once Wrath hits.

The other thing is, it reminded me of a friend of mine. He doesn't play WoW, and every time the subject comes up he says something along the lines of "I already have a job, I don't need another one". Up until now, I could easily say that WoW wasn't work, but with dailies that's exactly what it is. Not only that, but it's work for virtual money**... So, I don't know. I'm not sure if I'll keep doing them or not.

Little Touches

The 3.0 patch notes were around the length of a regular novel, but still they did not include all the changes. Most of the things that didn't make it into the patch notes are things that don't really have much effect on most people, but are still nice. For example, boats and zeppelins now have crews. Some have vendors (or vending machines), and you can even repair there. I never liked the old "ghost ships", so personally I think that's just cool. And there are other small things like that. I don't remember them right now, but they're there, and I applaud Blizzard for taking time to put in these little touches even though they don't actually matter to 99.9% of the players.

* Yes, I know that with Inscription, herb prices should be really high right now. Still, I think I prefer Mining.

** I suppose you could say that all money is virtual. After all, the paper that bills are printed on isn't worth that much - its worth is determined by what you can obtain with it. In that sense, WoW gold does have value in that I can buy things in-game to (hopefully) make me happy. Still, it's not the same as real money.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yes, it finally happened - Alierah dinged 70. I finished up the quests in Nagrand with around 2 bars left to make it to 70 and didn't feel like starting a whole new zone, so instead I went trick or treating. It started with Outland, going to get all the flight points I haven't been to and continued with Kalimdor. So not only did I get the achievement and lots of candy, but now I'm probably one of the only people in the world to ding 70 in the barrens (Camp Taurajo, to be exact). That makes her my first 70 ever, second to reach the level cap (after Dorni dinging 60 pre-BC) and my 3rd in Outland.

Now, the question is "what do I do next?", as suddenly it feels like there's too much to choose from - not only is there all the level 70 content, but I have Hallow's End and the scourge invasion to take into account. Last night I finished trick or treating, respecced, went to a BG (Arathi Basin for the daily), did one SSO daily in Nagrand and was whispered by someone who was organizing a raid on Darnassus. Having never raided a capital city I decided to go for it, although it was a little disappointing. I don't know if Tyrande and the other faction leaders were balanced for level 80, or if it's just because we made a complete mess, but we wiped miserably. Twice. That was enough for most people, including me, so I left the group and went to explore Teldrassil*. Then I hearthed back, worked on my Enchanting and Tailoring for a while and called it a night. You'll notice I didn't even have time to go get my flying mount anywhere in there, but I was overwhelmed by everything I had to do and wasn't thinking straight - I'll get it first thing today.

The Spec

Finally reaching 70, I had already decided I'd respec to a more healing-oriented build. I still have a lot of solo content to see, so solo viability is important too, but I'll probably get a lot more chances to heal now (whether in BGs or instances). Instead of going with a deep Holy build, I decided to go with a 25/33/3 Disc-Holy hybrid that will hopefully give me a good balance between soloing and healing. The basic idea was to get Improved Divine Spirit in Discipline, Spirit Tap in Shadow and then go down the Holy tree, preferably with talents that affect my DPS as well as my healing. It's going to take a while to get used to this it - whether I'm healing or soloing, I have to get used to Inner Focus, to watch out for Surge of Light or Holy Concentration proccing, and just generally finding out what works and what doesn't. But hey, that's part of the fun.

So, now what? I have a lot to do with Alierah, and hopefully I'll stick to her for a while, but I also want to finally level a Rogue past its 20s. If I do, it'll probably be human - there are oh so many factions in the world, that the Diplomacy racial just gets more and more valuable. But we'll see... For now I think I have enough new toys to play with with Alierah.

* Well, I was already there, not exploring it would have been silly. If I ever decide to go for the world exploration achievements, that takes care of the most hard to reach zone on the map.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Miserable weekend

I thought my first post this week would be about hitting 70... That didn't quite work out as I spent most of the weekend in bed with a nasty cold. I did get to play a little Friday night, though, so I made it to 69. I managed to clear quite a few quests in Nagrand, including the Nessingwary hunting quests, and finally got some gear with spirit on it.

Hopefully, I won't feel as "dead" this week, so I should be able to finally "get there". Stay tuned to see how that works out. =)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just. A little. More.

I didn't have a lot of time to play these past couple of days, but I pretty much finished with Terokkar and moved on to Nagrand. Man, that place is beautiful. First time I've ever gone there, and I think I'm really going to enjoy questing there (even if I do have to kill 30 of every mob type for Nessingwary and his friends). While I was running around slaughtering the local wildlife, I got a whisper asking if I want to heal the Ring of Blood quests, and after hearing about them so many times I gladly accepted. Still, just hearing the name doesn't mean I knew anything about what was going on, but the rest of the group were very understanding and gentle for my first time. =)

The quests themselves involve a series of 6 fights, 1 fight per quest, each giving around 17,500xp and 11 gold and earning a bunch of potions, bandages and a blue weapon to wrap it up. All in all, very nice for 10 minutes' work. The only complaint I have about these quests is that out of 6 weapons to choose from, not 1 has any spirit on it.

I mean, really... Is there a spirit deficit in Outland or something? The last time I had a quest reward with spirit on it seems like a distant dream, with all the items supposedly meant for healers getting mp5 instead. Don't get me wrong, mp5 is very nice, but not at the expense of spirit - especially if you go to the trouble of speccing into Meditation. Most of the items I get now give me more mana, health, damage and/or crit, but even if they have mp5 it's usually less than what I would get from my spirit gear. Even if it does give slightly more mp5, it still gimps my non-casting mana regen and as a result how much use I get out of Spirit Tap*.

I donno, I'm not really sure what to do about this whole thing... If this keeps up, I might follow in Cynra's footsteps and respec Discipline. Respeccing is fine, as long as I don't "break" and reroll.

* Speaking of Spirit Tap, what happens when you hit 70? Since killing doesn't give XP, it seems like this talent becomes useless for PvE, but there's still a lot of solo questing to be done. That seems like a big problem, potentially...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vampiric Touch and 3.0: Good for soloing?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I finally took Vampiric Touch for Alierah and am a little disappointed with it. I'm going to try to analyze it here, to figure out whether or not it's actually worth the extra talent point and using in fights, and you're going to read through it because... Well, because you're here. Too bad, suck it up. =)

Oh, and I'm looking at the whole thing from a soloing/leveling perspective. While leveling, you'll usually heal in groups, making this spell irrelevant, and I have no experience with raiding...

What Does It Do?

Still with me? Good. So let's start at the basics, with what the new spell actually does. The tooltip is really confusing and unclear:
Causes 450 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.25% of their maximum mana per second when you deal damage from Mind Blast.
So we have a DoT - so far so good, we all know about those. But VT is really about replenishing mana, not about the damage, so let's see if we can figure out what the rest of the tooltip means. When you deal damage with Mind Blast up to 10 party/raid members get a buff that regenerates 0.25% of their mana per second. For how long? The tooltip doesn't specify, but it seems to be a 15 second buff.

In other words, simply using VT on your target and Mind Flaying it to death will work, but not replenish any mana. Once you Mind Blast, you get a buff that in total will regenerate 3.75% of your mana.

The DoT

So let's start by looking at the DoT itself, and compare it to the others available to us. Since spell costs aren't constant anymore, but rather a percentage of your base mana, we're going to measure damage per percent of mana (dppm from here on) instead of damage per mana. Also, since the bonus damage from Shadowform applies to all of our DoTs*, I can ignore it in my calculations.

So let's start with my basic DoT - Shadow Word: Pain (Alierah is currently using Rank 9). 25% base mana doing 906 damage, for a ratio of 36.2 dppm. With Improved Shadow Word: Pain (Haven't seen a Shadow priest without it) increasing damage by 6%, that's 38.4 dppm.

Next we have Devouring Plague (currently at Rank 6). 28% of base mana doing 904 damage, or 32.3 dppm. Not as efficient as SW:P, but the health regeneration makes up for it nicely.

And finally we have Vampiric Touch (currently at Rank 2). 18% of base mana doing 600 damage, or 33.3 dppm. So it's a little more efficient than DP, but does less damage overall and takes 1.5 seconds to cast.

For comparison, Mind Flay (Rank 6) gets 36.3 dppm and Mind Blast (Rank 10) an average of 30.1 dppm, but they can crit making these numbers lower than the actual ones.

Bottom line? Very mediocre DoT. It's not very mana efficient, and doesn't do enough damage to justify being part of the rotation if the mana regeneration buff isn't used. So let's move on to the mana regen...

Mana Battery? Not Really

As I mentioned above, causing damage with Mind Blast on a target afflicted with VT will give a 15 second buff regenerating 3.75% of your maximum mana. According to Alierah's armory page (which still shows her at 63) her total mana is 6254 while her base is 1749, roughly 3.5 times larger. So the buff would regenerate around 13% of my base mana over its duration. That's starting to sound better, but we have to remember that to get that buff we have to cast both VT and MB, for a total of at least 37% of our base mana (assuming it's neither is resisted) so you still end up paying 24% of your base mana rather than gaining mana.

OK, so this is definitely not a way to replenish mana, but maybe it's still worth using from a mana efficiency point-of-view. VT and MB cost 24% of base mana, and do 600+572=1172 damage (average damage used for MB), getting 48dppm. You know what? That's actually not that bad. It's better than SW:P, which was our most efficient spell, and does eoughly the same amount of damage. The only downside is the total casting time, but if you open with VT it shouldn't be much of a consideration.

Final Thoughts

So VT isn't all I'd hoped it to be, but also isn't as bad as I'd felt. It is a little annoying that it only procs off Mind Blast, though. Considering that I hardly used Mind Blast until now, I now have to add 2 spells to my rotation. Not only that, but it sort of messes up the synergy between talents - right next to Vampiric Touch we also have Pain and Suffering which procs off of Mind Flays.

But overall, now it actually looks decent. Doing a rotation along the lines of: SW:P -> DP -> VT -> MB -> MF or SW:P -> VT -> MB -> MF -> MF, and finishing up with my wand should, in theory, work very nicely.

* I'm not going to talk about Holy Fire. For shadow priests it's irrelevant. Other priests don't have Shadowform anyway, so they don't get a bonus either way. Heck, they don't even have Vampiric Touch.

Weekend Report

So how was your weekend? Productive? Mine was... After a very disappointing start*, I managed to do a gazillion things on Saturday and Sunday.

I started Saturday at 63 or 64 (don't remember exactly) in Zangarmarsh. Did some quests and got invited on a Ramparts run, which turned into Ramparts -> Blood Furnace -> Slave Pens -> Underbog. The group consisted of me healing, a rogue, a mage, a hunter and a druid tank (2 actually. We had to replace our tank after finishing Hellfire Citadel), and everything went pretty smooth. The hunter didn't seem to speak much English, and was a little overzealous for our tanks, but I'll give him this - he was EXCELLENT. He trapped, he interrupted enemy spellcasters (Intimidation? Charge? I don't know how things work with hunters now), used every ability imaginable, whenever I'd pull aggro his boar would charge and growl the mob before it even got to me - it was amazing to watch him. Other than that, I got several compliments on my healing, which is always nice. While I didn't think too much of it in Hellfire, since I was a little high, healing Underbog at 65 without any problems was very nice. At one point, our bear commented that I did a good job, and when the mage** said "You'd never know she was Shadow, huh?" the tank was shocked. /grin It's very nice knowing I can still heal easily until I reach 70 and (probably) respec.

After that, I finished up Zangarmarsh and logged off for the night. Sunday started with leveling my Tailoring, currently stuck at 339 - the damned Bolt of Imbued Netherweave is refusing to give me that 1 final skill up to 340. The rest of the day was spent questing in Terokkar, finishing most of the quests there and logging off at 67. Yes, you heard right - 67. Alierah is now officially my highest level alt. I also found 2 Jack-o'-Lanterns, each replacing one of my Netherweave Bags and giving me another 4 bag slots (and that's not even counting the extra bank slots). Of course in between there was also some Hallow's End merriment, although I figured I'd wait with the achievements and scouring all the inns in Azeroth till I ding 70 - according to the calendar there's plenty of time left before the seasonal event ends, so I'm not too worried about that.

And that's pretty much it. This morning I finally found an Arcanite Rod so I can keep working on my Enchanting - that should be fun (and clear up some much needed storage). I am, however, starting to get "that" feeling again. You know what I'm talking about - wanting to roll a new alt (even though starting a new alt now is bordering on criminal). I'm trying to figure out why, and I think part of it is to blame on Vampiric Touch. I'll make a separate post about that, but the bottom line is that I broke down and took it, and I think it's pretty much a letdown. And now that I'm starting to see "the end" and realize that the number of talents I'll be getting is limited makes it even worse. I'm thinking about respecing, although that seems like a waste of money right now - I just had a free respec less than a week ago and the current plan is to spec Holy at 70 which isn't too far off, but if that's what it takes to make sure I actually get to 70 then it might be worth it.

* Internet was dead all Friday. While it means I didn't get to do much work, it also means no WoW.

** Who died in that particular fight, but there really wasn't anything I could have done - he was gone in a second while I was in the middle of a heal on our tank.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So, those of us playing in the EU finally got the patch - only to be greeted by unstable realms that keep crashing. I did get a couple of minutes to take Alierah on a short test run, and so far I like most of the changes.

General Changes

First, having macros saved on the server instead of locally is really nice. No need to worry about backing them up when reinstalling the game, no need to keep my laptop and PC macros synced. This is long overdue, and even though it won't matter to most people I'm very happy with it.

The calendar and barber are nice. That's about all I can say about them... They'll both probably see some limited use, but for the most part will be irrelevant (for me. If you have an obssession about your hair, have fun). The achievements look like they'll be providing lots of wasted time, though. Maybe not the really crazy ones, but I can definitely see myself doing the world expoloration and dungeon achievements.

Threat warnings are nice for a couple of reasons. Even though I use Omen, it requires other people in your group to have it as well. Now there's something that "always" works. Also, I'm assuming a lot more info about threat is available through scripting, which means that Omen (and other threat meters) should be able to get much more accurate results and not require everyone to have them installed.

Focus control and being able to set a key to cast a spell directly on your focus are very welcome changes. Looks like I'll have to rethink my Nostromo bindings and work it in somehow.

UPDATE: Ooh, I just noticed something. There's an option to track low-level quests! How awesome is that? And why didn't anyone tell me?

Priest Changes

Logging in to Alierah, I was faced with having to choose a spec. I ended up chickening out and going Shadow again - you can see my spec here. After visiting the trainer, and getting Hymn of Hope and Devouring Plague, I was on my way out to Hellfire Peninsula. Hymn of Hope looks like it'll come in handy for instances, but it's a Holy spell so it doesn't mix well with Shadowform*. Devouring Plague is pretty neat - pretty similar to Shadow Word: Pain, with the added bonus of healing. While I'm not sure I'll use it as part of my "usual" solo sequence (to preserve mana), it'll come in handy when I need to heal (along with Vampiric Embrace and the bonus damage from Shadowform, it should get me back on my feet in no time) or when there's more than one mob beating on me. Hey, if I get Vampiric Touch I can almost be like a Warlock with all those DoTs.

UPDATE: After actually playing with it a bit more, I realized that the CD on Devouring Plague is 24 seconds, so you can't have it on more than 1 mob at a time... On the other hand, I started using both Devouring Plague and SW:P in my fights, and still don't have any mana problems.

The other side of the "racial issue" is losing Mana Tap (true for all Blood Elfs, not just priests). Not such a big deal, since it really didn't drain that much mana to be noticeable, but it has some "unwelcome" side-effects. As it happens, I was trying things out against mobs that gain 75% damage reduction to the type of damage of the first spell cast on them. With Mana Tap, I could start with that causing them to get a lot of Arcane damage reduction, and then burn them down with Shadow spells. Now, the only spells I have "available" are Shadow. Either that or I keep switching in and out of Shadowform. Still, not really a big deal, since this kind of mob isn't what I'd call common.

And now we get to the good parts. First, my damage has gone up, and it has nothing to do with the spell power. Mind Flay can crit now, shadow priests around the world rejoice. Second thing, which is all kinds of awesome, I didn't see mentioned anywhere - wands no longer trigger the GCD. Yes, you heard me right - no more having to stop wanding and waiting 2 seconds before you can cast a spell. Just hit that spell button any time and you're good. This makes me so happy, you can't imagine. Finally, it seems like my mana is in a much better state now - I keep finishing fights with almost full mana. This is probably due to the change in spell mana costs and the removal of spell ranks, but I'm not complaining. Being able to throw more spells in a fight without having more downtime is definitely a good thing.

So that's it for now. I'll go try to log in again, and see if I find something else interesting to mention. Y'all should do the same instead of wasting your time reading this. ;-)

* It's also channeled now, so not ideal for soloing. Yes, I know Mind Flay is also channeled, but since HoH is more of an emergency button I don't think it's wise to count on being able to bubble when you need it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

3.0 Priest spec

Had me some free time today to mess around with the talent calculators, and think about what I'm going to do with Alierah when 3.0.2 hits tomorrow. Right now I'm using this Shadow spec (yes, I dinged 61) - it has the "obligatory" 14 points in Discipline, with Wand Specialization, Improved Power Word: Shield, Inner Focus and Meditation. On the shadow side, there were 1 or 2 points I wasn't entirely happy with, but they were used as fillers anyway, so weren't such a big problem. Now, however, everything is going to change - whether or not I stick with Shadow. So let's play around with the different trees and see if I can come up with something I like.


With Improved PW:S moved down to the 3rd tier, it seems like getting the goodies from Discipline will require more points to get to the goodies. Add to that the removal of Wand Specialization, and it means a lot more filler... I'm hoping that Twin Disciplines will justify the 5 points to it, at least*.

On the Shadow side, things remain fairly similar to my old spec. Spirit Tap now only takes 3 points to max, and while Improved Spirit Tap doesn't look like it'll be that useful, it still beats Blackout for PvE/solo play. The next change is in only taking 4/5 Improved Mind Blast this time. I don't use Mind Blast as much as I used to, relying on Mind Flay much more, so I probably won't miss that extra 0.5 second it takes for the CD to finish. Shadow Weaving will still get 3 points, except that now that's the maximum, instead of being 3/5 - nice bonus. The rest is pretty similar - Shadowform, Vampiric Embrace (and Improved VE), 4/5 in Darkness and Shadow Power, and finally 1 point in Misery. The bonuses in Improved Shadowform seem nice, but don't really strike me as must-have's. So here's what I've got for Shadow at level 61, now let's see about the other trees.


Looking at the Shadow spec, and seeing 16 points (well, it might be 17, if I decide to get Inner Focus as well) got me considering a Discipline spec. So, let's see...

First off, I still want my Spirit Tap, especially now that it's only 3 points. Hooray!

The bottom part of the Discipline tree looks fairly similar to the Shadow build - I don't want a PvP build and I prefer "soloing" talents over healing talents so there isn't much choice there. I will get Inner Focus, though. 3 points in Mental Agility will get me past the next tier so I can get Divine Spirit and Improved Divine Spirit - more mana and more spell damage is very nice. For the next 2 points, I'm a little undecided on whether I should finish off Mental Agility or get 2/5 in Mental Strength, but it doesn't seem to be that important for now. Next, Focused Power for that little extra umph and Enlightenment for stamina and spirit. Now we have Reflective Shield and Rapture right down from it, both of which seem very useful.

This brings us to level 52. The options now seem to be between continuing down the Discipline tree, which seems to mostly have more survivability/"emergency" talents, or to get some Holy talents for better smiting... I think I'll go with that for now. So that gives us this spec.


Finally, let's give a shot to a Holy spec. Again, start with Spirit Tap and some Discipline, and then start working on the Holy tree. Again, going on the principle that I want to improve my offensive spells, there aren't too many choices here. I went with Holy Specialization, Improved Renew**, Divine Fury, Blessed Recovery, Searing Light, Spiritual Guidance, Spirit of Redemption*** and Surge of Light. And that's it... There aren't any more talents to help with mana regeneration or with doing more damage - everything else is for healing.

So now I can either keep going with Holy, improving healing or I can put my remaining 5 points in one of the other trees. There's nothing that useful in Shadow right now, and the first 2 points would pretty much be wasted anyway, but Discipline has some very attractive offers. Another 5 points there are just enough for Divine Spirit, so going with Inner Focus and 3/5 Mental Agility, or 4/5 Mental Agility could be a pretty good choice. So here's the "final" level 61 spec. I suppose you could say that being 21/28/3 makes it more of a hybrid spec than a Holy spec, and you'd be right - but like I said, there aren't really any other choices in the Holy tree for soloing.


So there ypu have it - 3 experimental specs, 2 of which are for trees I have no experience with at all. Are they any good? I guess that at least for 1 of them, I'll find out soon enough. For the rest, I guess it's up to you. What do you think? Are they good/bad/ugly? Will they work? Have any suggestions for improvement?
Oh, and I really hope the links will still work after the patch goes live. :)

* I wonder if the bonus applies to Vampiric Embrace, too. It's instant, and it heals - it's just not a direct HoT. If it does, it might make it slightly more attractive for Shadow priests.

** Yes, I know it's not an offensive spell, but I needed somewhere to put the points and it'll probably be used very often (especially with the bonus from Twin Disciplines).

*** Not so much for the spirit healer thing, but more for the spirit bonus.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outland, here I come

Last night Alierah dinged* 60, making her my 3rd character to reach Outland and the 1st on the Horde side. Like Dorni, she dinged in the Eastern Plaguelands, turning in one of Tirion Fordring's quests. Leveling her so far was actually kind of nice - I even managed to completely avoid questing in Stranglethorn Vale, which is quite an achievement**.

It's not all fun, though. As expected, entering Outlands and finishing quest I'm getting some nice quest rewards with very nice stats, except for Spirit. Not that they don't have any - they do, just not as much as my "Azeroth" gear. Now, the other stats are a huge improvement - lots more Intelligence, Stamina and spell damage, but when it gets to mana regen it looks like I'll be suffering. I guess I could start using Mana Oil instead of Wizard Oil, but it really doesn't look like it'll make that big of a difference - 8 mp5 would regenerate less than 100 mana a minute, which is practically useless.

Another thing I've noticed is that mobs hit a lot harder here, to the point where my Power Word: Shield usually isn't enough, even with Improved Power Word: Shield maxed out. That means I can't just Mind Flay quietly while sitting in a bubble, so I have to figure out how to make it through fights. I guess it's a good thing we'll all be getting a free respec soon - I might want to switch around some of my talents once I figure out which spells I actually use and which talents will be more useful. With the patch supposedly coming this week, that gives me 2 days to figure it all out.

* I wonder, is it "dinged" or "dung"? /grin

** Hmm, I wonder if there's an achievement for that in WotLK...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Healing set? HA!

Despite the fact that I chose the "easy" way to level Alierah and went Shadow with her (despite the recent forays into Discipline), I get quite a few chances to take her to instances and heal. And I'm enjoying it, too*. And, as anyone playing a healing class will tell you, you need a healing set**.

So like a good little girl, Alierah's been collecting lots of equipment with +heal on it and using it when healing. So, yeah, it definitely makes my heals bigger, but it also has a lot less Spirit than my usual soloing gear. That basically means I have to heal a little less (heals are bigger, so I don't need as many of them), but I hardly regenerate any mana during the "down time" in fights. So instead of having 10 seconds of downtime with good mana regen, I have longer to rest between heals but regenerating a lot less mana. I mean, I suppose if I was healing non-stop and couldn't keep up with the damage the tank was taking, but that's far from being the case...

I noticed this when I forgot to switch out of my soloing gear on a BRD run. While I've been starting to have trouble healing in my +heal heavy set, doing it with tons of spirit was a piece of cake. So yeah, instead of healing for 1600 with Greater Heal, I only healed for 1500. Does anyone really think that makes that much of a difference?

So that decides it for me - no more healing set. I'm sure my bags will thank me.

* Still, due to the time difference, I spend most of my time soloing so I don't plan on going Holy any time soon.

** Yes, I know that's precisely the reason Blizz are turning +heal and +spell damage to one stat. I don't have that much spell damage either.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Soloing shadow priest - Mana regen and spirit

Today we make a brief foray into theorycrafting land, take a look at how shadow priests regenerate mana after solo fights and try to figure out just how much downtime we have between fights. I know it's probably not the brightest idea to write up something like this less than 2 weeks before patch 3.0, but from all I've seen so far I don't see any changes that will effect this. If there are... Well, guess I'll have to make a new post then. Or not. Deal with it. /grin

UPDATE: As pointed out by The Gaming Diva, this can relate to non-shadow priests as well, as long as they get Spirit Tap. Good thing it's a 1st tier talent.

The Basics

First off, why am I writing this? Well, I tried to find some analysis about mana regeneration for priests soloing their way through Azeroth, but didn't find anything. It seems to me like other than leveling specs (which are also hard to find sometimes), there is usually a lack of information on how to actually play the different classes while leveling - much less in depth anlyses and theorycrafting. So I couldn't find the information I needed and had to go through the math myself (joy of joys), and figured I might as well post it here, right? This way at least I can read it on my PC at home when the laptop I'm writing this with is off. =)

So, let's start from the basics, and lay down some assumptions for our leveling priest:
  • Being the fragile creatures that we are, we wouldn't want to risk breaking a nail hitting a mob - that means most* of the damage we will be dealing will be through spells and our wands.
  • One of the first talents** we will be getting, if not the first is Spirit Tap. Since our main down time will be caused due to having to regenerate lost mana, this is arguably the most important talent in the shadow tree for a leveling solo priest.
  • The general fight sequence will involve starting with Power Word: Shield, followed by some face melting and finally wanding the last 5 seconds or so to make the best of Spirit Tap.
Now, Wowwiki teaches us that mana regeneration outside the Five-second Rule is linear to our spirit - double your spirit and you double the mana regenerated. That means that Spirit Tap, coupled with lots and lots of +spirit on our gear, lets us regenerate a lot of mana after the fight if we're "not casting". It also means that 50% the regular mana regeneration at double spirit lets us keep casting at the usual "non-casting" regen rate - so while we try to end with wanding to get the double regen, with enough spirit that may not be such a big issue.

The Numbers

By now you must be thinking "how can this be a theorycrafting post if there's no number crunching?", and I agree. So for now, let's take a look at Alierah as an example. Here's a screenshot of her Armory profile:

According to this, Alierah gets 189 mana every 5 seconds when not casting. With Spirit Tap active that rate would double to 378 mana, and over the 15 seconds of Spirit Tap she can regenerate 1134 mana. That means that assuming I end the fight with 1134 mana less than my total, I'll get back to full in 15 seconds. But is that enough?

Well, let's see - my usual fights consist of shield, Shadow Word: Pain, 3 Mind Flays, and wanding the rest of the way. With the current ranks I have and with 3 points in Focused Mind that means I use 355 + 385 + 3 * 115 = 1085 mana. That's kind of nice - it means that Spirit Tap by itself is enough to recover my mana, limiting my downtime to 15 seconds between fights. Cool.

Is That All?

No, it isn't. If that was all, I could have just said "Spirit Tap is cool" and have been done with it. But now that we've covered that, we can go ahead and start playing around with it. For a start, let's try to see what happens if we have take downtime between fights.

So I just killed a mob, and gained ST for 15 seconds. However, instead of the usual 1134 mana, I will only get half of that back - 567 mana beacuse I'm already casting again. That's a little harsh, as it means I'll run out of mana after 5-6 mobs. But that's not entirely true, you see. How long do you actually spend wanding that mob down? Exactly 5 seconds? I doubt it. In my case, it usually takes around 10 shots to finally kill the mobs. With my current wand speed being 1.90, and not having any haste, that means 19 seconds wanding (sure doesn't feel that long, but hey, who am I to argue with numbers?). Round it up to 20, and it means you get another 15 seconds of good-old mana regeneration during the fight, giving us another 567 mana and making the total regenerated mana per fight 1134 again.

Now that's cool. At this rate, it means that using this rotation I can keep on going indefinitely. And if you add it all up, you find that killing the mob takes around 40 seconds. A mob every 40 seconds? Yup, definitely cool.

Does it actually work in practice? Well, for the most part, yes. Since it implicitly assumes fighting only 1 mob at a time (maybe 2, if your shield can take it), there is some downtime for looting and getting to the next mob. And of course, some mobs are tougher than others ("tanks") while some are more fragile (casters, usually) - so you have to adjust the rotation to fit the mob. Sometimes you'll need 4 Mind Flays, and sometimes only 2. And you know what? Waiting 15 seconds for your mana to fill up completely once in a while won't kill you.

Of course, this is very gear-dependent, but I don't think my gear is "uber" in any way - I don't buy things off the AH, and only make do with what I can make or find on my journeys. Then again, I just got out of Sunken Temple with some nice upgrades. Still, I think it's pretty "average" gear all in all.

Wrap It Up Already

This is starting to get a little long now, so let's start wrapping up. First, just to "cover my ass" - my current gear also gives me 4 mp5, which is not affected by Spirit Tap, but does show up in the mana regeneration info on the character sheet. Still, the difference isn't that big, and I didn't feel the need to make the calculations even more complicated than they already are. Well, OK, that's a lie. I just thought of it halfway through the post, and didn't feel like going back and fixing it since that would have ended up with even more mistakes.

Now, there's still a lot to of "unexplored" territory here - what's the "cap" for having no downtime? How much spell damage equates to 1 spirit (since doing more damage means having to cast less)? Who's still reading after this wall of text?

For the Spirit "cap", I don't think there's a good answer that would work for everyone since we all have our personal rotations and fight sequences. For spell damage, I might just write a post about that as well, once I get into Outlands and start seeing a lot more spell damage gear. As for who's still reading... Well, you tell me.

* I say most, because just 2 days ago I ran into water elementals who were immune to my wand's frost damage. Good thing I keep my staff skill relatively high (why do you think Blizzard put critters in the game?)

** The first 5 talent points often go to Wand Specialization, delaying Spirit Tap for a couple of levels. That's fine. Also, Wand Specialization seems to have been dropped in the beta, so I expect this to become a moo*** point anyway.

*** "It's like a cow's opinion - it's "moo"". Yes, I liked "Friends" and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What happened to Nopet?

There was supposed to be a Nopet post here, but due to circumstances which were out of my control I didn't actually get to play him this week. What circumstances, you ask?
  1. Playing Alierah was just too much fun. She's 45 already, and wreaking havoc in Feralas with her Mind Flay.
  2. After reading so much about it, I had to get the Bejeweled add-on. You can fill in the rest. /sigh
  3. Thanks to the wonderful people over at Good Old Games, a lot of time was spent with Fallout (in preparation for Fallout 3 coming out this month, of course).
  4. My girlfriend decided she wants me to teach her how to play. Since her English isn't too good, that means having to do a lot of explaining. Not to mention that, being a Japanese girl, it took her a whole hour (yes, an hour, I'm not exaggerating) to decide what her character should look like and to find a name that wasn't already taken. But Tsubaki, her Blood Elf hunter made it out of the newbie zone (levels 1-5) and to the first inn.
So you see? It wasn't my fault, really.

Bejeweled Away

Anyway, on the subject of Bejeweled, I can just see it now. It starts with people saying on their blogs "I got Bejeweled". Then they'll start recommending other people download it. And then, inevitably, they'll start posting Bejeweled tips under the guise of WoW blogs until all the WoWosphere* is only blogging about that instead of the game. In fact, since PopCap are working on a new and improved version of Bejeweled, if they're fast enough to release it before WotLK, they might actually cause the downfall of WoW - imagine that.


Yes, languages again. The one area of the game no one in their right mind actually thinks/cares about. This time I was thinking about the whole business with Horde and Alliance not being able to communicate. I can understand not speaking any common languages. I can even understand how all goblins can speak fluent Common and Orcish. But Warlocks seem to be able to understand demonic. Why shouldn't Alliance and Horde 'locks be able to talk to each other? What, demons have different dialects depending on who's enslaving them? And demons in the wild also adapt according to who's coming to fight them?

Stupid Things

As a last note, I'd like to send a note to myself. Self, next time you happen to get the chance to be present when Vol'Jin goes for a drink and get a 10% XP buff, please try not to go into a BG. If possible, try to avoid long trips just to get some new flight points as well. Thanks in advance,You.

* I'm not sure, is that a real word? Am I allowed to use it? Do I need to credit someone for it? How does this work?

Monday, September 29, 2008

More money? Yes, please

We all know that in order to get by in life it takes money, and that's true for living in WoW as well, even though you can get by with pretty little of it. However, being an altaholic and having to finance every new alt can be a little draining, especially when you don't have a 70 to do dailies with. This is where this post comes in - this is going to be about how I make money. Note the italicized "I". This is what works for me, doesn't take too much of my time and suits my playstyle. YMMV.

A Brave New World

So I've just rolled on a new realm. Maybe it's because there's a new one, maybe I want to try out a PvP realm again, or maybe I just ran out of room on the current one I'm playing. First order of business is to get enough money for some decent bags. There aren't too many options here - get to level 5, take 2 gathering professions, and start selling the mats on AH. And, you know what? Just doing this, and putting up greens/blues you come across as you level should be more than enough for learning skills and getting your mounts at 30/60.

But What About Having Fun?

So, yeah, that's enough but probably not enough to "live large". If you want to get yourself the occasional gear upgrade from the AH or have a crafting profession, you're going to need something extra. For me, that "something extra" is made up of 2 parts:
  1. Buy recipes/manuals from traders and sell them on AH - while this can be very lucrative, I don't want to spend too much time running around getting this stuff. When I get to a "new" place with a character I buy 1 or 2 of whatever I can find there and send them to my bank alt. It's not such a big profit, but it's something.
  2. Resell low-priced rare weapon/armor - there's a very large potential here, depending on how safe you want to play it. For me, I usually only buy things that Auctioneer thinks are priced at less than half of what they should be and whose average price across servers is high enough*. Usually, I can find 1 or 2 items worth buying a day, with the profit for each being anywhere between 10G and 200G.
As with any investment, you have to know the market. For recipes, it means knowing that Formula: Enchant Chest - Minor Mana isn't going to sell no matter how cheap you can get it. For armor and weapons it means knowing to avoid items that are easily craftable (especially JC rings), items that you can see multiple auction of despite being "Rare", and maybe most importantly - items that you got stuck with before and couldn't sell.

The Bottom Line

What's the bottom line? What can you get from this post? Well, nothing much, probably. Everything I talked about here today is fairly common techniques, and it is far from being an exhaustive list of how one can make money. It is, however, what works for me in the sense that I can make enough money for what I need and doesn't take too much time. Feel free to try it out (at your own risk) or make suggestions for improvement (also at your own risk. /grin) if you like, but don't expect any revelations here.

* This helps to avoid cases where Auctioneer prices are skewed, which happens a lot.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My very first WotLK post!

Messing Around

Alierah's made it to 35. Not a very exciting level, except for neing able to equip the Gurubashi arena trinket, and train artisan enchanting. I managed to find some cheap Vision Dust on the AH, which got me all the way up to 220 - the highest I've ever gone with enchanting. I've also done some more BGs and got a nice Senior Sergeant's Insignia. Considering I didn't have any neck item before, it's definitely an upgrade, and both the spirit and stamina are good for me, so yay.

And I still haven't been able to find a group for SM, which is kinda strange. SM is usually a pretty popular instance, with very nice drops. Probably has to do with the time difference and the fact that it was the middle of the week. Hopefully, I'll have better luck over the weekend.


Everyone's talking about WotLK, quite understandably, and whether or not everyone get it doesn't even seem to be a question - of course they're getting it. And, you know, I don't blame them. It's very easy to get excited about a new expansion for a game that you really like but is starting to get old. So I went* to pre-order it, and was at the check-out screen when it occured to me - I'm not sure I really want it. /gasp

Since I've been trying to figure out the reasons for and against buying it. The "against" column is pretty simple - why waste money for something that won't really do me much good? So that's not too much help, it just means I have to think about what I'd be getting and whether or not it's worth it. OK, what am I getting? What's new in WotLK?
  • First, and most obvious, raising the level cap. Not much use for me right now, considering that I don't even have any 70s yet.
  • New leveling areas, instances, raids - well, same thing. Without a 70, I won't be going to Northrend or Dalaran anytime soon. Hell, I don't think I've seen half of Outlands.
  • Inscription - coming in the next patch so it will be available to everyone, regardless of whether or not they get the expansion. The same is true for the new talents and trees.
  • Death Knight and DK starting areas - A new class is, indeed, a nice benefit for an altaholic like me, and I enjoy questing in new areas. However, ihis seems to be the only actual addition that I'll be have access to if I get the expansion.
So in essence I'll be paying to get Death Knights, and trying to level in their starting region along with the rest of the world - lag, difficulties getting to quest mobs, you know the drill. Do I really want that? I mean, at the very least, I could wait a while until the DK starting zones "settle down", and maybe even get a 70 by then. That seems reasonable, doesn't it? I guess so. Now, if I could only control my impulsiveness and actually manage to do that, that would be awesome...

* Well, metaphorically went, since it's an online store.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So what have I been up to?

Ooh, how time flies... It's been almost a week since my last post, which is bad. So here I am, with a brand new post.

So what's new this past week? Well, first my WoW instability issues seem to have been solved. I still had a crash after I finished downloading the patch data, but a quick "repair" seems to have done the trick. So now I can, once again, actually play the game.

Melting Faces

Most of my time in-game was spent on Alierah - she's 33 now, has a purple chicken, and is at around 210 enchanting. She's also been doing some BGs and Brewfest dailies, and having quite a lot of fun all in all - I think I'm starting to dig this whole Shadow Priest thing. I also wanted to get some SM done, but managed to end up in a group with a shaman and 3 other priests twice. Needless to say, not having a tank was painful*. Oh, and I managed to get the Gurubashi Arena chest one time - it was 6AM server time and I was the only one in there. Surprisingly enough, it's the first time I've opened the chest and it didn't have bracers of any kind in it.

Let The Experiment Begin

Other than that, I've started my "no pet hunter" experiment. Nopet the Tauren Survival Hunter has actually done the pet taming quests, but hasn't tamed a permanent pet for traveling through Azeroth. I really wonder how it will go with him - can he make it out there, how hard will it be, and what does it mean if he can? For now, things haven't been that difficult, but then he's only 13 and just finishing up with Mulgore. For most of that you can't have a pet yet, so it's not surprising that things are still going well. We'll see how he feels in 10 levels or so.

But even in the little time I've had with him I've already had some insights into technique, gear, talents, etc. While I originally thought I'd have to stack up on Strength for melee, it seems that Strength and Agility both add 1AP per point, while Agility also adds RAP and dodge, so it still seems much better all-around. I would, of course, have to stack more Stamina than usual since I have no pet to tank for me, and using cloth is out of the question but that's not unexpected.

The other "big" insight was about shot order. While it's not usually much of a concern, since you usually get over the get-as-many-shots-as-you-can-before-mob-get-in-melee-range at level 10, but since I won't have a pet it becomes quite important.

Most hunters I've seen around, start the fight with Concussive Shot, to slow down the mob and buy them some time. That's obviously a good idea, but I have a couple of problems with it. First, it starts off with an instant ability. Of course, I don't have Aimed Shot or Steady Shot or anything that takes time to cast, but the way it works is if you start with an "ability" the first Auto Shot happens a "shot" after the ability. But since the ability is instant anyway, there's no reason not to start with Auto Shot and stick the ability right on top of it, gaining an extra Auto Shot in.

The next thing I've noticed was that if you do the Concussive Shot - Arcane Shot - Serpent Sting sequence, the mob gets in melee range just before that second Arcane Shot goes off CD. That's a shame, as an extra Arcane Shot would be a nice bonus to the ranged damage, so I tried to see if I could do anything about that. As it turns out, if you start with an Arcane Shot, and then fire off the Concussive Shot, you can still squeeze in the same number of Auto Shots (at least with my current gun - might be different with other weapon speeds) and have Arcane Shot off CD just in time to fire another one before introducing the mob to the business side of your axe.

Of course, there are also some things I'm still undecided about, too. Should I, in fact, be going down the Survival tree (which is the most melee-oriented of the three), or should I go with MM so I can do the most damage up front**? Is it worth the mana to start the fight with Aspect of the Hawk and switch to Monkey when the mob gets in melee range? Or maybe Monkey isn't worth it at all, who knows? So, yeah, I've got plenty of things to check and to play around with, so it looks like it'll be a fun experience.

* For other people, mostly, as I made sure I generated less threat than everyone else and ran out when it was obvious we were going to wipe.

** BRK would probably have a fit if he saw an MM hunter with no pet. =)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

When the world hates you

It seems like these past couple of days, the world in general and of Warcraft specifically don't like me very much. Ignoring all the non-WoW related stuff, here's a recap of the last week or so:
  • Somewhere around last week, the WoW Launcher announced that data for the next patch is ready. Since then, it hasn't been doing a very good job downloading it - I usually get really good speeds for patch downloads, but this one is at around 20% and changes between not downloading and downloading at a whopping 3K/s.
  • WoW has recently decided that it would be appropriate to randomly freeze at the character selection screen, be it right after login or when logging off a character. Though it seems highly unlikely and I can't find the connection, it started at about the same time I started downloading the patch... I think I'll just stop downloading it on my PC and get it on my laptop instead, and hopefully the problem will work itself out after the patch. For now, the whole thing is very annoying.
  • Monday night the Internet in my apartment just stopped working. Very surprising, considering that in the 2 years I've lived there, not only have I not had a problem, but the connection was so good that to this day I'm still not sure exactly how fast it is. Now, the connection itself is not "private" (it comes with the apartment), so there's no tech support to turn to or anything. Then, yesterday, it seemed to work but with fits and starts. I guess it's a good thing I'm supposed to be moving soon-ish.
  • When I did finally manage to log in to WoW, and get past the character selection screen to play around with Alierah a little more, nothing seemed to go right. I intended to get to Ashenvale to quest a little, and kept forgetting to do things like going to the bank, or actually putting everything I'd intended in it, or buying food, or repairing or a million of the other kinds of things you do when you're in a capital city.
  • Even questing didn't go as smooth as usual, starting with Sharptalon. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Sharptalon is a level 31 Hippogryph. Kill it, loot its claw and start a quest. Together with 2 other named mobs in Ashenvale, they make up the local "Tauren hunting quests". Now, 31 is pretty high, but usually you just have to take him on close to the Undead, uhmm... Reasearch post? I don't know what it is. But anyway, with the NPCs' help it's a piece of cake to kill it. So that's what I did, except that apparently I didn't do enough damage and so couldn't loot it when I was done.
  • Next I went tried to do Torek's Assault - you have to escort a group of Orc warriors and help them take Silverwing Outpost, while making sure Torek doesn't die. Quite easy, if you know what you're doing. Except that, for some unknown reason, Blizz decided to make Torek PvP flagged, and just as I was in the last fight inside the outpost, and almost done with the quest, a stupid NElf hunter runs in and kills all the raiders. Quest failed. I suppose I could've metled his face to pay him back for his kindness, but really didn't feel like it, so I just moved on.
  • Finally, another quest called Vorsha the Lasher. You escort an NPC called Muglash to a little rock out in sea, extinguish a brazier, fight 2 waves of 3 Naga, and then a Hydra, all the while having to keep the NPC alive (of course). Again, not too hard if you know what you're doing (eat/drink between the waves, get the healer first, etc.), and if the quest isn't bugged. But last night WoW decided it would be fun to send the second wave out again together with Vorsha. While I happily killed them all, leaving them in a smoldering heap of melted faces, Muglash died and I failed the quest.
At that point I pretty much decided it just wasn't my day, and called it a night. Didn't even hearth - just logged off right there on that rock. And, of course, WoW froze again at the character selection screen. /sigh

So, yeah, the world hates me. I'm just hoping it finds somone else to hate that's more ammusing soon.

One last thing - due to recent changes at work (nothing bad - not that it got busier or anything) I'm thinking of switching to a 2-3 posts per week schedule, instead of my post per weekday. I'll give it a shot and see how it feels.

UPDATE: So I'm downloading the patch on my laptop from work using a "normal" Torrent client (uTorrent), and it's downloading at an average of 500KB/s. Hooray for fast Internet. Hopefully, that should solve my first 2 problems. In case you want the .torrent (and not some mirror that who knows what file you'll actually be getting), go into your WoW dir, open "Cache" and you should find a .torrent there. Have your way with it. ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oops, I did it again

Had a long weekend here in Japan, which is just perfect for starting a new alt... So in comes Alierah, my new Blood Elf Priest. She's also a tailor and enchanter, although I still haven't gotten any advantages out of either of them.

As expected, I'm going down the Shadow tree for now, trying to find a good way to manage more than 1 mob. Single mobs are a piece of cake, and I practically don't have any downtime, but 2 mobs or more are a little problematic. Not that I die or anything, it just feels a little "random" - I don't have a plan for casting and killing more than 1 mob, and just go with whatever's off CD, so that's obviously not the best I could do. Well, guess it's time to hit the books.

Also, despite her shadowy take on life, I really had no problem healing anything from RFC to SFK even when I was a little low for the instances. That's good, at least. And with all the instance running, I have gear that should last me for quite some time (in case I have trouble finding decent PUGs) - Robes of Arugal (no belt, though), Feline Mantle and Slime-Encrusted Pads to name a few.

The long weekend even gave me time to go into some BGs, with a roughly 50-50 ratio, so it wasn't too despairing. I guess my biggest problem with it was that although I tried to do my part and heal the people around me, they hardly ever took the time to actually help me stay alive. I also got a chance to do a Mana Tap jump-shot on a hunter that was chasing me* one time - I just love the irony. /grin

So last night, I parked her back in Tarren Mill, after going through some of the quests there and training my level 26 skills. I guess next stop is SM. And that's about it - I have some other random stuff that happened this weekend, but I can't remember them right now, so they'll have to wait for tomorrow.

Ha, tricked you. You though I was done, didn't you? That'll teach you not to trust me. Anyway, I had this crazy idea to try and level a hunter without a pet. Why? Well, why not? Call it an experiment. Not sure if I'll actually go through with it, but if I do you can be sure you'll hear about it.

* That didn't change the fact that he killed me, but I did manage to last long enough to bring him back to the farm to die, and cleared the lumber mill for someone else to take. Then again, no one actually took it, so it just means I died so some other people could get an HK. Hmph.