Thursday, July 29, 2010

Extra Emblems of Frost? How to Make Some Tasteful Purchases and Prepare for Cataclysm

As we come to the end of Wrath and the end of another Tier of raiding, I am having a real question come up for the first time.  What to do with all of these extra Emblems of Frost?  Since this is the first time I have been in a hardcore raiding guild in WoW, I'm getting Frost emblems left and right.  Just last night in 10 man ICC, we got 10/12 bosses in one night, plus the extra valkyr before Dreamwalker, so we ended up with 21 Emblems of Frost.  The night before, we went through all of RS, which is 5 Emblems of Frost, plus the Deathwhisper weekly, which is 5 more Emblems of Frost, plus we went 8/12 in 25 man ICC and the valkyr, since we are doing HM Putricide this week in 25 mans, which gave an additional 17 Emblems of Frost.  That is 48 Emblems of Frost in 2 days.  And that is not even running the random 5 man for the day.

Well, here is a small shopping list that encompasses all of the things I have ever bought for myself with all my emblems.  This list will change based on what your professions are, etc.  For example, my mage is tailoring.  If I get to the point where I am getting that many Emblems of Frost on my mage, I will want to buy primordial saronite to get some tailoring recipes.  I could even transfer the saronite from my main to my mage.

1)  Main Spec Tier Gear - This was my first priority on my main.  I ended up buying all 5 pieces of Tier gear because it gave me some flexibility to use some of the 277 gear I would get from HMs.

2) Idol of Lunar Eclipse - I needed to get my Tier 10 idol.  It basically increases your critical strike rating by 220 and is necessary for you to hit the Lunar Crit Cap.

3) Belt of Omission - I have talked about this before, but I needed this belt to get rid of the Shard of the Crystal Heart 245 trinket because of the hit.  Since we are clearing ICC 25 man hardmodes now, I may switch to a 277 hit neck to get a better belt.

4) Off Spec Tier Gear - I needed my Tier gear for my tank spec.  I got everything except the chest piece because I got the Sack of Wonder from Lootship. (Still waiting for the next heroic version to drop to pick it up, since it is BiS for feral tanks.)

5) Idol of the Crying Moon  - Needed to upgrade from the 226 Idol of the Corrupter I have been using for tanking.

6) Corroded Skeleton Key - High stamina trinket with a good on use.  It will hold me over until I can get the top two trinkets, which would be the heroic version of Unidentifiable Organ and the normal or heroic version of Sindrigosa's Flawless Fang.

At this point, I have already bought everything listed here.  From this point on, this is a list of the stuff that I am likely going to try to purchase or purchase more of.

7) Primordial Saronite - This is what I have been spending my current Emblems of Frost on.  I just sold four on the AH for the price of 750 gold each, making a cool 3k gold in the process.  This is how I'm going to try to prepare for Cataclysm.  I have very little interest in doing PvP except for honor to buy gems, etc.  I will never downgrade my Frost badges to buy gems because it is easier to do it with Triumph badges.  This means my Frost badges for right now are for making money.  Ideally, I would like to have about 10k - 30k gold going into Cataclysm.  The other option is to buy the saronite, give it to my mage, let her finish leveling up tailoring, buy the ICC recipes, and then sell 264 cloth gear on the AH to get even more.  I'm not certain which is better yet, because my mage is still about 50 points away from max level tailoring.

8) PvP Gear - Getting this arena seasons gear with Frost emblems is an option and if Cataclysm doesn't come out until November, I might definitely get into some PvP.  But this will likely be my last purchases before Cataclysm hits.  Plus, to have only one level of PvP gear behind the current arena season at 85 will be pretty sweet.

Just a reminder, if you want to remember Wrath with your very own FigurePrint, you have until this Saturday to enter the Christmas in July contest.  Please sign up for your chance to win some free stuff.  Finally, check out my new sweet mount for getting Glory of the Icecrown Raider (10 Man).  Thanks to the Wednesday night 10 man crew at Conquest for helping all of us to get the mount.  Our next target in 10 man, HM LK and Bane of the Fallen King.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

World of Blizzard - What Does Starcraft II Mean for WoW?

 Cat Depiction of a Zerg Rush

I, like so many of my fellow World of Warcraft players, picked up Starcraft II yesterday. (Actually, I had the Collector's Edition sent to me by Amazon.)  I have not had a chance to actually get into Starcraft II yet, but I did play some in the beta.  If  you want somebody to royally beat in Starcraft II, just add me as a RealID friend,, and I will try to play some games.

However, the interesting thing in all of this is how will the only other Blizzard game in over 5 years affect their biggest hit ever.  I was listening to The Instance, where they were discussing what they thought would happen.  They thought people have been waiting so long for this, that many people will give up WoW to play Starcraft II, especially considering it is near the end of an expansion.  I actually tend to think the answer is a little more complex.  The effect of Starcraft II on WoW will very heavily depend on what type of player you consider yourself.  I want to look at it from three different perspectives; the hardcore, the semi-hardcore, and the casual WoW player.

The Hardcore - Starcraft II may cut into some farming mats time or dungeon running time, but it will not likely pull people away from raiding or the game.  My guild is still downing hardmodes in ICC and I don't foresee any hardcore WoW players canceling their WoW subscription to play Starcraft II.  I think for them, it will be a nice distraction from WoW (We added a Starcraft II channel in our vent), but will not replace it.

The Semi-Hardcore - This is most dependent on what you are doing in WoW right now.  If  you just downed LK and have no interest in doing hardmodes, it can be reasoned that you would cancel your WoW subscription to play some Starcraft II.  However, if you are on the last few bosses of ICC or are getting into hardmodes, you will likely play Starcraft II on the side until that is completed.

The Casual - This is where I could see the most people going to play Starcraft II.  They likely play WoW to hang out with their friends.  Now they have a new game to play with their friends and so will not likely want to play WoW, but play Starcraft II.  In addition, there is no charge for playing Starcraft II, so they will want to save their money on WoW.   

Now, there are some exceptions.  I'm sure there are some hardcore WoW players in places where Starcraft is a sport (mainly Asia) who have just been waiting for the next Starcraft and will likely devote their time to this game and cancel their WoW subscriptions.  Also, players who have downed heroic LK will likely cancel until Cataclysm.  However, I do not foresee most hardcore WoW players giving up WoW for Starcraft II.  And honestly, that is what Blizzard wants anyway.  If they can get you to play Starcraft II and WoW at the same time, they have done their job successfully.  And just wait until next year when they want you to play Diablo 3 too.

Just a reminder, Saturday is the last day to enter the Christmas in July contest for a chance to win some great prizes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dungeon Armor Sets (a.k.a Nailed It)

When they announced hero and valor points replacing badges a few months ago, I talked about the possibility of bringing back pre-raid tier gear, which was known at one time as the dungeon armor sets.  Well, it appears that this is going to happen according to the latest information from MMO Champion.

From the data mining of the latest Cataclysm build, they have found the cloth armor sets for what appears to be the dungeon armor set.  With this information, there is some likely information that can be taken from this.

1)   Will Be Attainable One of Two Ways - MMO Champion stated that this gear will likely be drops in the 5 man heroic dungeons.  I tend to disagree with this.  Blizzard has set up a standard of buying one Tier behind gear with hero points and buying the latest raid gear with valor points.  My guess is that these will be buyable with hero points with the possibility of making them stronger with drops from 5 man dungeons, like tokens.  However, it is still possible that you will have to get the dungeon tokens to get the initial dungeon gear.

2)  Will Not Have Set Bonuses - I tend to think that Blizzard believes that the raiding sets of gear should have bonuses for classes.     With pre-raid gear, I would not be surprised if they put no bonuses on them.  This means that any class of the same cloth type will likely have the same gear.  A shadow priest, mage, and a warlock should all be wearing the same pre-raid dungeon gear with the only differences in gemming and enchants to show their preferences in stats.

3)  Will Make Dual Specs More Important - If you have easily attainable pre-raid dungeon sets, you will have no excuse to not have gear for both your sets.  Now some classes, like mages, can likely use the same dungeon armor set since there will be no set bonuses to warrant using two different sets of gear.  However, with druids, I will likely have my moonkin set and my bear set.

4) Will Set a Bare Minimum Standard for Raiding - In other words, if you at least don't have the pre-raid dungeon set, don't show up for raids because you are not going.  Naxx made it very easy for you to go in with blues and be somewhat successful.  I have a feeling this will not be the case in Cataclysm. You will need the dungeon armor set in order to get in and start raiding.

Of course there are some unanswered questions still about gearing in Cataclysm.  When will the Tier 10 gear be replaced with new gear or will we enter new raids and heroic dungeons with Tier 10?  If it is dungeon drops, will it be classed based like tokens currently are?  Will there be heroic dungeon gear that will surpass the dungeon armor set or will we get all 5 pieces of the dungeon armor set?  Hopefully, these questions will be answered sooner rather than later.

Remember, 7/31/10 is the last day to enter the Christmas in July contest.  As of right now, there are 6 entries so everybody is winning something.  If you enter, you will have a very good chance of winning something for just posting.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Humor: Top 5 Blizzcon Wishes

With the announcement of the Blizzcon internet stream, my opportunity to watch Blizzcon this year has finally opened up.   Besides the in game pet, I like to think about what could be coming from Blizzcon this year.  Here are my top 5 wishes.

1) Korean Filter for Starcraft 2 - They consider it a sport.  We need some help so we don't run into professionals.

2) Real ID Boss - A PUG only boss in Cataclysm that if not beaten quickly enough will share your info with the PUG, starting with your name, then goes to your e-mail, your billing information, your social security number, your mother's maiden name, and finally, your bank account info.

3) Automatic raid ignore if GearScore is mentioned in raid chat - Combined with the guild leveling perks.

4) Diablo 3 Final Boss is the Super Devil

The Super Devil is at least six inches taller than the devil, rides a flying motorcycle, and carrys a jar of marmalade which is believed to cause adultry.

5) New IP is a remake of The Lost Vikings - Featuring John Cleese as the voice of all 3 vikings.  "I tell you this parrot is no more.  It has ceased to be."

While those are not likely, what is likely is a release date for Cataclysm if it has not been released yet.  Speaking of that, just another reminder to enter the Christmas in July contest.  The contest will close on 7/31/10 so get your entries in.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Welcome to the New Redhawk's Gaze

If you are a long time reader of my blog, I'm sure you have noticed the first of many changes on this site.  The first thing you will have noticed is the new design.  A little darker colors with a starry background to bring more moonkinness out of the site. 

In addition, I'm sure you have noticed a few other changes that have been made.  The first one is I have incorporated Google Conversation Web Elements to give a chat room for the site.  This is a place where you can post WoW questions or just talk to others about anything.  Come in, post your thoughts, and have some fun.  I had someone ask about turn around time for questions.  I will try to get to them daily at least if not more than once a day.

Also, you will notice the new music tab.  While most people give you just a few songs they like, I like to give you whole stations to listen to.  You will notice that I have three stations currently, but will be added to this once I find more stations.  In addition, you will soon find my Last.Fm channel there as well.

Next, you will notice the screenshots section.  While this will mostly be for my screenshots, if you see something interesting in game and you want to send it to me, you can use the Contact button on the end to send me an e-mail. 

Also, you see the WoW blogs and WoW twitter list.  I'm going to be populating those with some of the blogs that I currently read, but if you have a blog or a twitter that you would like to promote, please leave a comment in that section.

The final thing is the contact section.  I'm still open to getting some more RealID friends. (No stalkers please.  Unless women stalkers. Just kidding about the women stalkers too.  My girlfriend would kill me.)  You will also find a list of all my characters if you have any questions in game and want to get in touch with me.

So I hope everybody enjoys the new site and I would love some feedback on things to do or changes to make.  Also, remember to enter our Christmas in July contest.  You have less than a week to enter to win some great prizes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aggro - How Much of An Issue Is It Still?

With Wrath of the Lich King, the focus was taken away from the use of CC and into more complex strategies for bosses.  One of the things that is occasionally overlooked in all of this is aggro management.  But in a game with misdirections and tricks of the trade, is aggro that much of an issue anymore?  I prefer to look at aggro management in 3 different lights.

5 Mans - Aggro management is still huge in a 5 man setting.  While all of the tanking classes have the ability to hold aggro on multiple mobs at once, an overzealous DPS AoEing can pull aggro off of any tank.  And I do mean any tank.  You can be in 25 man ICC HM tanking gear and a DPS could pull off of you.  This is why in 5 mans, it is especially important to wait for tanks to get aggro.  If you overgear a 5 man, it may be less of a concern, but it is a concern still.

10 Mans - Aggro management may be an issue in 10 mans.  A lot of this is determined by your raid makeup.  If your 10 man does not have a rogue or a hunter, then watching aggro becomes much more important since all aggro built is tank aggro.  In that case, it is important to wait for the tank to get sufficient aggro before opening up on him.  Also, I made an important discover last night in my 10 man on LK.  We had a rogue who was doing Tricks of the Trade to the tank.  However, if the gear is not comparable, a higher geared DPS can overtake a lesser geared Tricks of the Trade.  I ended up pulling LK because my DPS was higher than his Tricks which lead to my death and a unnecessary wipe.  So just realize that if you out gear and out DPS your hunter or rogue, you may need to still hold off on DPS to let the tank get full aggro.

25 Mans - Aggro only becomes an issue in select circumstances.  Since almost every 25 man will have at least a hunter and a rogue, you should not have an issue pulling aggro off the tank if they are doing their jobs correctly.  In a few circumstances, you will still want to wait.  One of the biggest examples of aggro management in 25 mans is the raging spirits during the LK fight.  I can't tell you how many DPS died because a raging spirit spawns off a person and they don't wait for a tank to pick it up before opening on it.  Another major instance is HM Deathwhisper, where the adds can one shot a non-tank.  Wait until the tank gets aggro on the adds.  Also, in HM Deathwhisper, taunting does not work for Deathwhisper, so aggro has to be carefully managed between the two tanks usually through a combination of Tricks and misdirects.

So,  if you are close to pulling aggro, how do you drop it really quick?  Every class has a few ways to do it, but I'm gonna just talk about the druid's ways to drop aggro.  These tactics rage from really quickly to really slowly, but they will all work.

1) Stop Attacking - This it the most obvious, but it is also the one that is least likely to work.  Usually by the time you find out you need to back off, the mob is headed your way anyway.  If the tank is not able to get aggro back, you will have to use another tactic.

2)  Go Bear Form - If the mob is headed your way, you can always go bear form.  If you are DPSing in cat form, you may even be able to tank it for a second since you would pick up the uncrittable talent anyway.  If you are DPSing in boomkin, it will still only take two hits to kill you if you throw up Barkskin as well, but it is better than one.  Ideally, you want to go bear and then do some slight kiting until the tank gets the boss back.

3) Cower - One of the overlooked druid talents, but incredibly handy.  You just change into cat form and then use cower.  This helps you drop all aggro on the mob and lets it go back to the tank.

4) Shadowmeld - For all the night elves, you can use Shadowmeld, which will drop aggro on the mob.  The one catch to this is you will gain it back the second you come out.  However, this may give time for the tank to pull the mob away and get back a aggro lead or have his taunt off cooldown.

5) War Stomp - For the Tauren, your ability is not as good as Shadowmeld. (Sorry)  However, if the mob is stunnable, you can stun them and then use some other tactic to drop aggro.  It gives you a second, but it may be the second you need to drop aggro.  Of course, this will not work on bosses.

So overall in the game, aggro management is still important.  Maybe not as much as it was at one point and time in the game (remember the Karazhan mobs that the tanks had to be number 1 and number 2 on the aggro table due to him freezing one of the tanks), but still important enough to pay attention to it especially in 5 and 10 mans.

Please remember to sign up for the Christmas in July contest.  You only have 9 more days to sign up to win some free stuff.  I feel like early in August, we are going to start getting some announcements about Cataclysm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Pre-Cataclysm Raid Achievements Bucket List

I'm sure with more and more coming out about Cataclysm every single day, we are thinking about what are the things we still have left in this expansion that we would like to get done.  I personally feel we will see Cataclysm in the next 4 months.

I just wanted to list my personal goals before Cataclysm.  I'm sure everybody has their own, but this is just my personal list of what I feel is unfinished in this expansion.   

Redhawks   Heroic:  Storming the Citadel (25 Player)
                   Heroic:  The Plagueworks (10 and 25 Player)
                   Heroic: The Crimson Hall (10 Player)
                   Heroic: The Frostwing Halls (10 and 25 Player)
                   Bane of the Fallen King (10 Player)
                   The Light of Dawn (25 Player)
                   Heroic:  Fall of the Lich King (10 and 25 Player)
                   Full House (25 Player)
                   I'm On a Boat (25 Player)
                   Dances With Oozes (25 Player)
                   Flu Shot Shortage (25 Player)
                   Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion... (25 Player)
                   Portal Jockey (25 Player)
                   All You Can Eat (25 Player)
                   Been Waiting a Long Time for This (25 Player)
                   Neck Deep in Vile (25 Player)
                   Glory of the Icecrown Raider (10 and 25 Player)
                   Heroic:  The Twilight Destroyer (25 Player)
                   Stokin' The Furnace (10 Player)
                   Firefighter (10 Player)
                   I Love the Smell of Saronite in the Morning (10 Player)
                  Glory of the Ulduar Raider (10 Player)
                  Observed (10 or 25 Player)
                  A Tribute to Insanity (25 Player)
                  Call of the Grand Crusader (25 Player)
                  The Immortal (25 Player)
                  Earth, Wind, and Fire (10 or 25 Player)

Redrobin    The Plagueworks (10 Player)
                  The Crimson Hall (10 Player)
                  The Frostwing Halls (10 Player)
                  The Frozen Throne (10 Player)
                  Fall of the Lich King (10 Player)

I would also like to get my DK, Redider (It is a palindrome), and my warlock, Redeagles, who are both in the 60s to level 80.  However, these are the last things on my list because we are likely going to see a decreased leveling curve so it will be faster to level them later.

It is interesting in a time when everybody starts getting bored with the expansion, there is still so much to do to finish it up.  Some of the things on this list will be achieved as early as tonight during our ICC 10 man on my main.  Others will have to be after we down the last 3 heroic bosses before LK on 25 man.  Some will actually involve us beating heroic LK.  And people who are getting bored with the expansion I'm sure have a list just as long, if not longer.  So instead of focusing on how boring it is to keep doing ICC, focus on what you haven't done yet and set it as a goal.

Also, want to remind people about the Christmas in July contest.  You have 10 days left to enter to win free prizes.  Also, you will notice that there are sharing options at the bottom of all the post now.  If you want to share this post through Facebook, Twitter, etc.,  you have that option now.  I hope you take advantage of it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To DoT or Not To DoT? - A DPS Question

Note:  Thanks to this blog goes to Qieth (see sidebar for his blog) who made a comment about DoTs on the moonkin DPS rotation.  He started me thinking along the lines of this blog.

I mentioned a few post ago about the DPS rotation that I'm using for my moonkin.  However, even with that rotation, there will be small changes based on the situation.  The best moonkin players realize they may have to make some small alterations to their rotation based on the situation.  We try to minimize alterations and get in our standard rotation, but there are times where you just can't help it and have to change.

One of the things I have been thinking of personally is are there times where you will not want to apply your DoTs?  Could your DPS actually be hurt by applying DoTs?  While I'm still doing some personal research, the answer I'm coming to is yes.

Now, on actual bosses, there is no question.  You apply Faerie Fire, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm like you are suppose to.  As was mentioned in the comments on the moonkin DPS rotation, Faerie Fire should be on at all time, Moonfire should be on during a Lunar Eclipse, and Insect Swarm should be on during a Solar Eclipse.  That is the optimal DPS for bosses.

However, not all fights have just bosses.  Some fights have adds.  Does this mean we should DoT up every add before going into our Eclipse rotation.  I'm gonna make an argument for no.  Here are my reasons why:

1) Adds Die Too Quickly - Take the Dreamwalker fight for instance.  All the adds in this fight die really quickly.  By the time you use 2 global cooldowns to apply Faerie Fire and Moonfire in anticipation of your first Lunar Eclipse, they are dead most of the time, which hurts our DPS.

2) Adds are Not the Same Level of Bosses - Our hit cap is based on what is required to hit the boss 100% of the time.  However, adds typically are not the same level as bosses.  Most adds I have seen are 83 Elites.  Now with moonkins, we get 4% hit from our talents.  A moonkin should also be at 10% hit on their gear.  For bosses, our extra 3% hit comes from either Faerie Fire or a Shadow Priest's Misery.  However, since trash is lower level than the bosses, they do not require the extra 3% hit from Faerie Fire.  This gives a reason not to cast Faerie Fire on every add.

3) Time Is of the Essence - Take LK for example.  In that fight, there are 3 instances where adds must die quickly.  First is the raging spirits.  Second is the valks.  Third is the vile spirits.  Putting DoTs on adds that will die in under 15 seconds does not really help out anything.  Just start casting Wrath and hope for a Lunar Eclipse.

4) Adds Don't Require a Lunar Crit Cap Hit - You want bosses to be hit with a critical Starfire everytime during a Lunar Eclipse.  This requires that your DoTs be on the boss.  Adds die so quickly, you don't need to hit them with a Lunar Crit Cap Starfire.  Also, since bosses are lower level, they are easier to crit, so you will still likely get 100% Starfire crits during a Lunar Eclipse.

5)  Massive AoE - In some fights and trash especially, you are just going to be casting Hurricane and maybe Starfall if it is safe.  This is more of a reason not to put DoTs on because you will be channeling during Hurricane.

I only have anecdotal evidence of this, but I saw my DPS double in World of Logs from about 3k DPS in Dreamwalker (for some reason, they look at each individual mob DPS instead of encounter DPS with Starfall, etc.  My personal Recount had me at about 7k DPS.) to 6k DPS by not casting DoTs on the adds during that fight and just focusing on Eclipse rotations.  I know it is not strong evidence, but it was enough to convince me to not worry about casting DoTs on adds and focus on our nukes. 

Again, this likely will change in Cataclysm where our Moonfire will have a nuke capability.  I wouldn't be surprised if we just cast Moonfire on adds in Cataclysm since it will be our moving nuke.

I want to remind everybody about the Christmas in July contest.  You only have 11 days left to enter to win some great stuff.  Also, check out WoWCentric on the side link and show them your love.   

Monday, July 19, 2010

Twitter Dev Chat from 7/16/10 - My Thoughts On Blizzard's Thoughts

Blizzard decided that after the insanity that was RealID and with the addition of 31 point talent trees, it was time to do another Twitter development chat.  Here are some of my personal thoughts about the general and druid specific things from that chat.

1) For the Love of God, Stop Asking About Guild Housing - Blizzard has done this chat a few times now and every single time, someone thinks it would be a good question to ask about guild housing.  Blizzard has said no, it is not going to happen.  If you are that hard up for guild housing, go play Age of Conan with nobody else.

2) Glyphing Has Become Interesting - Giving the description of the new glyphs, it is starting to sound like that some passive abilities are going to become new glyphs.  This means that maybe Omen of Clarity is not dead.  My guess is passive abilities will either become Prime or Major glyphs.  Minor glyphs are going to be the fun glyphs. (Like Polymorph: Penguin)

3) Mastery Capping Will Not Happen - I'm thinking by their descriptions that only 7 pieces of gear will have mastery on it (Head, Chest, Wrist, Hands, Waist, Legs, and Feet) and there will be no mastery gemming or enchanting. Thus it will be impossible to hit a mastery cap.  I could see shared items like weapons, rings, cloaks, trinkets, and neck pieces having mastery, but I still don't think it will be cappable.  That being said, you will still want as much as mastery as possible regardless of your class.

4) Blizzard has A LOT to Do with Druids Still - Only to get me as close to a heart attack as I have ever been, I thought that Omen of Clarity, Typhoon, and Moonkin form were all being taken out when the 31 point talents came out.  Thankfully, those were more errors than anything.  Omen of Clarity may be out, but Typhoon and Moonkin form will come back.  They said they have a lot to do with all the classes, but it really seems like all the druids still need a lot of work.

5) Welcome Back, Moonfire - Moonfire is going to become the Balance druid's friend when moving.  We are going to be spamming it on the move since it will have a new nuke capability as well as its normal DoT ability.  Plus, with some of the suggested talents, it will be refreshed by just moving.  Don't even have to spam it to get more effect out of it.

6) Eclipse Will Be Awesome - From their description, an Eclipse will last until either the Balance bar either returns to center or 45 seconds.  So, it does not sound like you will be able to store up a Lunar Eclipse and then use it for a boss.  However, 45 seconds is a lot of time to move and then start casting.  What we don't know is how much solar power we get for each Starfire cast.   We know that if we critically hit with either a Starfire or Wrath, we get 12 of the appropriate power per the talents.  I'm also guessing that when moving from a Lunar Eclipse to a solar eclipse that 1 Solar Power = - 1 Lunar Power and vice versa for a Solar Eclipse.  These means we have to subtract out 100 Lunar Power to get back to center during a Lunar Eclipse.  Another thing with Eclipse is possibly finding ways to prolong the Eclipse.  If you get near center, you may cast Wrath a few times in the middle of the rotation to get a few more Lunar Eclipse procs in the 45 seconds.  And mastery will affect how much damage we put out during our Eclipses.  I think the balance druid's new goal will be to get an Eclipse, make it last 45 seconds, and then get to the opposite Eclipse.

7) Duel Speccing Will Be Earlier and Cheaper  - Thank God.  If you are going to tell people they have to put their first 31 talents in one tree, you have to provide a way to duel spec earlier.  I'm hoping either level 10 or 20.  More likely, it will be level 30.

8) Spec Specific Talent at Level 10  - Awesome.  I think it will make every spec a viable leveling spec, whether you are leveling doing quest or just LFG.  (I'm trying to level my DK while staying in the DK starting area and just DK tanking with heirloom gear.)  Balance druids will have Eclipse.  Feral druids will have Mangle.

9) Intellect Stat is About to Explode - End game raiders currently have around 3-4k spellpower unbuffed.  When asked what the conversion rate is, they basically said it is 1 intellect for 1 spellpower.   That means one of two things.  Either they want to decrease how much spellpower everybody has or they are about to have a lot of intellect on gear.  I tend to think it is the latter.

10) Hybrid Specs Are Still Not Back - I was hoping for a combination feral spec that could do good kitty DPS and tank.  Apparently, that is not happening.  They are actually making it a point that a DPS feral spec is different enough from a feral tank that it cannot be combined.  Also, goodbye Restokin for PvP.  But that is okay, because between Starfall, Moonfire Spam, and our AoE silence, moonkins will be incredible in PvP.   

Hopefully, they will have even more answers for us as we get closer and closer to Cataclysm.  Speaking of Cataclysm, if you think you know when the release date is going to be, enter our Christmas in July contest for some cool free stuff.

Finally, I mentioned WoWCentric not to long ago.  Well, it is up and running now and you can find a big link on the right side.  You will find druid and raiding content from me as well as great content from a bunch of other bloggers, podcasters, etc.  Bookmark it, visit it daily, and see some great content.

Friday, July 16, 2010

How to Lead a PUG Raid - A Guide

Not too long ago, I did a post about what a PUG should do if they are in a guild raid.  Today, I want to take the reverse of this.  What if it is a true PUG raid and you are the one leading it?  Here are some of my guidelines if I'm leading a PUG raid.

1)  Make Your Requirements Clear -  I am fine with the leader looking for people who have the achievement or even a certain Gear Score.  Even for stuff as dumb as VoA.  Just make it clear up front what your requirement is.

2)  Set Your Requirements at a Reasonable Level - Here are my thoughts on requirements leading a PUG raid:

Naxx, OS, VoA - Can you push buttons and move?  Do you have a heartbeat? (If you go for 3 drakes, the requirements are higher) 

Ulduar - Can you follow basic directions from a raid leader? (HMs require more of course)

Malygos - Are you proficient in following directions?

ToC - The achievement and 4k Gear Score or no achievement and 4.5k Gear Score.  Also, gear must be gemmed, enchanted, proper for your spec. (a.k.a proper gear requirement)  Must be able to follow exact directions correctly.

ICC 10/RS 10 - Minimum 5k Gear Score with proper gear requirements and must provide adequate DPS. (Tanks should not be higher than DPS on bosses)  Must also follow raid leaders instructions exactly.

RS 25/ICC 25/TotGC 10/25 - Minimum 5.5k Gear Score with proper gear requirements and at least be able to do 6k DPS.  Must also follow raid leaders instructions exactly.

HM ICC/RS - Would never, ever, ever, ever, ever PUG. (Exception is Lootship)

3) Establish a "No Fail" Policy - The best PUG raid leaders I have seen have always established a "No Fail" policy.  What does it mean by "No Fail".  If you get hit by Icehowl in the first fight of ToC during a charge, you are out if we wipe or you get no loot if we finish, regardless of what you roll.  If you do not target Bone Spikes during Marrowgar, you are out or get no loot.  As a member of my PUG raid, your job is to make my job as easy as possible.  If you don't, I can find someone else who can.  Especially considering I have a whole guild of people who would like to come in.

4) Don't Establish Your Raid Based on What You Can Get - It is really annoying to see a PUG raid leader in trade chat saying that a certain item that someone wants is on reserve because they or a friend wants it.  There are reasons to keep running a raid instance to get emblems and other gear.  The other way I see this happen is in VoA.  In a 10 man VoA, I have seen the raid built around the fact they only want one of each class in the raid so that they have a better shot at getting a drop for them.  I would much rather build a raid quickly and take 2 mages then waiting around for a rogue that isn't around to come anyway.  Also, make sure of what you need. I had one VoA PUG leader build a raid with no tanks.  That makes people leave and makes people think you are an idiot. 

5) Use Vent Where Appropriate - I would say the Vent worthy raids right now are Ulduar, ICC, and RS.  If a person does not have Vent, that is reason in my book to kick them.  Why you ask?  Because then they have an excuse if they fail at something.  I do not want them to have any excuses for failing.  I want them to hear the instructions clearly so if they fail, they do not have an excuse for it.

6) Loot Rules - In a PUG raid, I think that random rolls are always the best loot policy.  I would also specify main spec first, then off spec second.  If nobody wants either, it would go to a roll off for an abyss crystal or for AH if BoE.  If someone rolls main spec on a BoE, I would require them to equip right there.  And you can inspect to make sure it is equipped. Also, for orbs, primordial saronite, and trophies in ToC, they should be done on a /roll 25 and given to the person in that spot on your raid frames.  It is much easier than trying to go through 25 random rolls.  For tier pieces in ICC 25 man, use MS the OS rolls as well.  To make it fair, I also try to limit gear to one MS piece for everybody then you can roll on a second MS.  When it comes to OS, I don't really care.   For profession patterns, make them link their maxed out profession and then roll in case there is more than one.

7) Troubleshooting - If I'm leading a PUG raid and they leave after one wipe, welcome to my ignore list.  If I replace you for doing inadequate work whether healing, tanking, or DPS and you whine and complain about it or go to trade chat to complain, welcome to my ignore list.  If we make it through the raid and you are not up to standards I expect for a player at that level, I will not put you on the ignore list, but I will remember  you the next time I build a PUG raid.

8) Achievements Outside of Clearing a Raid are the Discretion of the Raid Leader - Full House on Lady Deathwhisper is fun, but don't expect my PUG raid to go for it though.  In a PUG raid, I want to get through as quickly as possible, not go for extra achievements, etc.  Now if we get an achievement during a PUG raid, like I've Gone and Made a Mess during Saurfang, great.  But I'm not aiming for achievements.  If you have a problem with, you can find a PUG raid that will do the achievements. (Good luck with that.)   

9) Be Stern, but Not An Ass - This is tough.  You are building a 10 man ICC PUG.  You start off by saying they have to have this achievement and this amount of Gear Score.  You get the raid built.  You get to Marrowgar and down him.  However, you noticed a healer who was under performing in that fight.  There is a way to tell him to improve or he will be replaced without coming across as an elitist asshole.  Tell him that he is not eligible for loot from this boss due to under performance.  Give him until the next boss to improve.  If he doesn't, he is replaced.  You have to hold to the guide, but you can hold to it with tact.

10) If You Call the Raid, Don't Insult People, Thank Them - At that point when a raid is called, insulting the stupid hunter who kept pulling aggro and not using feign death does nothing.  Thank him for coming then put him on the ignore list and don't bring him to your next PUG raid.

Hopefully, following these simple guidelines, you will have a good PUG.  If you start off by building a strong PUG, the better your chance of success are.

Remember, you still have time to sign up for the Christmas In July Contest.  Contest ends on 7/31/10. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Getting the Non-Heroic Achievements for Glory of the Icecrown Raider (10 Man)

Last night in my 10 man raid, we decided to try to get all the achievements for Glory of the Icecrown Raider and get some sweet 310% mounts.  Eight of the ten of us had already gotten all the heroic wings achievements when they went 10/12 HMs in one night and got heroic Sindy on 10 man the next week so all they needed were the achievements.  I was on vacation the night they went 10/12 HMs so I still need 10 man HM Festergut, Professor Putricide, Blood Council, Blood Queen, and Dreamwalker to get my mount.

If you are interested in getting your sweet mount from 10 man ICC (You can see the mount's on my guilds website on the right side bar.  We are currently recruiting a mage.), let me walk you through each of the achievements and how to get them.  As mentioned above, you also have to beat all the bosses except LK on HM to get this achievement and get the mount.  However, these achievements can be done in normal mode.  Also, if you notice a link in the achievement name, I have tried to link the cultural reference with the achievement. 

Boned - You may have gotten this one already in your dealings with Lord Marrowgar.  It is pretty simple with good DPS and on non-heroic mode.  Just kill all the bone spikes under 8 seconds.

Full House - Just like in poker, you will need 3 of a kind and a 2 of a kind for this Lady Deathwhisper achievement.  For the 3 of a kind, you will need all 3 different types of fanatics (cult, deformed, reanimated).  For the 2 of a kind, you will need both types of adherents (cult, reanimated).  You will also need to keep them up for the entire Lady Deathwhisper fight.  This is probably the second hardest achievement to get.  You will need a hunter to kite the deformed fanatic.  One of your tanks can handle the other 4 adds.  What this means is that you will have only one tank tanking Lady Deathwhisper the entire fight.  You will need misdirects from hunters (if they are not using it themselves on the deformed fanatics) and tricks of the trade from the rogues so the tank can keep aggro due to the stacking debuff.

I'm On a Boat - On lootship, you just have to make sure that no person goes to the opposite faction's airship more than twice.  This really should be done on normal mode to just kill the ship as quickly as possible.  You are going to have to split your tanks and DPS into two groups.  Each group will stay over for two ice mages.  By the time, the opposite ship should be going down in flames.  Also, if you're in the last group that goes over, you can stay on the other ship because it will teleport you up to Saurfang once it goes down.

I've Gone and Made a Mess -  Probably the easiest achievement of the bunch.  If your DPS is sufficient and good at minimizing Saurfang's gaining of Blood Power, you will easily kill him before 5 Marks go out.

Dances with Oozes - It is amazing how fast you can kill Rotface on normal when you don't have DPS going around and trying to combine slimes.  The goal of this achievement is to make sure that you don't get an ooze explosion or in other words, combine 5 slimes.  The easiest way to do this is just burn the boss, move out of slime spray, but don't kite.  If by chance, two of the slimes do get together, have the OT pick up those two slimes and kite away from the other slimes.  I don't even think we got 5 mutated injections.  This is really a test of your healers being able to keep up people with slimes hitting them.

Flu Shot Shortage - Very easy achievement to get here, but can be tough if you get to the Pungent Blight.  The first set of people who get spores moves away from everybody.  So does the second set of people.  For the third set of spores, everybody stacks up so that everybody in the raid has 1 to 2 stacks of the inoculation.  If the RNG is cruel and somebody gets picked for spores twice in a row, they will not be able to get the third stack and must move out of the raid.   If it does get to Pungent Blight (it did not happen for us), then people will need to use cooldowns to keep themselves alive. 

Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion - This is where having very high DPS will help you out immensely.  The main key to this achievement is that the OT in the abomination will not slow down Professor Putricide's unstable experiment slimes at all.  The way we handled this achievement was to set up on the right side of the room.  When the green slime comes out, we blow it up immediately.  When the orange slime comes out, we have range get on it early and kill it.  The quicker you can get through phase 1 and phase 2, the easier this achievement is.

The Orb Whisperer - If everybody is doing what they should do in the Blood Council fight, you probably already have this achievement.  The key is nobody can take more than 23,000 spell damage from a single hit in 10 man mode.  This means three things.  One, nobody near each up during empowered shockwave.  Two, the person targeted with empowered flame has to run and kite through as many people as possible.  Three, kinetic bombs must be kept up.  These are all things you should be doing anyway during the fight.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy - This is the achievement that will require you to do Blood Queen twice, but it is pretty simple.  One week, you have to beat her while a vampire.  The other week, you have to beat her while you are not.  If you run with a regular 10 man, you will likely find that the healers and tanks need to be bitten and the DPS does not for your entire raid to get the achievement.

Portal Jockey - This achievement wins the award for the most confusing description for an achievement.  Reading it at first glance, it appears that everybody has to enter both portals.  That is not the case.  The key to this achievement is that the healers must enter all available portals.  For 10 man, there will be two portals.  Just make sure your healers are communicating which portals they are going into so they hit all of them.

All You Can Eat - Far and away, this is the hardest non-heroic achievement in this meta.  During the Sindragosa fight, nobody can get more than 5 stacks of the mystic buffet debuff.  The key here is the tanks have to clear their stack on every other iceblock.  The easiest way to do this is to have the tanks on opposite sides of Sindragosa.  Yes, you do run the risk of a tank being tail swiped, but that should not happen to often. During Phase 3, you will drop the very first ice block on the side with the tank who is tanking her at the start.  DO NOT DPS the iceblock.  When the OT clears his initial stack, he will run to the other side and taunt.  At this time, two things should be happening.  One, the second iceblock should be moving to the OT side.  Two, the first tank should be clearing his stacks behind the first iceblock.  After he clears his stack, you can DPS the block down.  From there, you just alternate sides with the tanks letting them clear their stacks every time before DPSing the iceblock down.  The tanks will likely get about 3-4 stacks each time, but they will be able to clear in time.  It may take a few times to get this right, but once you do, it will be achievement unlocked.

Been Waiting a Long Time for This - And,  yes,  you will have to wait a long time for killing the LK to get this achievement.  You have to get a stack of necrotic plague during phase 1 of the LK fight to 30.  Note that once you do get the stack of 30, you can clear it then and still get the achievement.  Rule 1:  No AoE.  The OT will need all the ghouls he can get his hands on to pass along the necrotic plague.  This also means no Starfall during Phase 1. :(  Rule 2:  Only the first person who gets necrotic plague will run to the OT's mobs.  Everybody else will run the opposite direction to have it cleared.  The reason for this is having two necrotic plagues on mobs kill them so quickly that you aren't able to stack the first necrotic plague.  Rule 3:  Burn the LK down to about 75% and then stop DPS.  You will be waiting for the stacks of necrotic plague to build up.  Once the OT mobs hit 30 stacks, burn LK down to 70% to initiate the transition to phase 2.  From there, you have to kill LK.  This is a really tough achievement if you have not gotten to the point where you can one shot LK on normal because you will have to do this all again if you wipe, which means more waiting.       

And this is all the non-heroic achievements that you need to get Glory of the Icecrown Raider.  After this, you have to beat all the bosses except LK in heroic mode to get your nice shiny mount.

Speaking of shiny stuff, make sure to enter the Christmas in July contest for your chance to win a free FigurePrint or a World of Warcraft mouse or a PrintWarcraft poster.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Goodbye Omen of Clarity And My Likely Balance Raiding Spec at 85

Yesterday, they finally decided to release the new 31 point talent trees.  Before I go into what I feel the raiding spec will be for balance druids, I feel like I need to do a eulogy for the druid's friend, the one thing all druid specs had in common, Omen of Clarity.

Omen of Clarity, you were a good talent.  We enjoyed the free actions that you allowed us to have.  Whether it was a free Shred in kitty form, a free Mangle in bear, a free Starfire during a Lunar Eclipse, or a free Rejuvenation, you were the druid's best friend.  Now Blizzard has decided it is time for you to go out to pasture.  And while I'm sure we will see your ghost in Tier set bonuses again, it will not be the same without you.  Thank you for two expansions of love to us druids.  You will be missed.

Ok, sadness about Omen of Clarity over.  Here is what I feel the level 85 balance spec will look.  Again, this is based on just what we know now and nothing else.  Also recognize that you must spend at least 31 points in a tree before taking talents from other trees.  This definitely changes how leveling will work, but will do nothing for our end game raiding spec.  Just remember to put your first talent point in the balance tree or you will be paying a respeccing fee. 

Tier 1 Balance Talents:  Nature's Grace, Starlight Wrath, and Genesis are all worth taking in terms of raid utility.  Nature's Grace will increase haste.  Starlight Wrath will decrease cast times.  Genesis will increase DoT damage.  I would max out everything in the first row.

Tier 2 Balance Talents:  I HATE our Tier 2 Balance talents with a passion. On one hand, we have Moonglow which reduces the mana cost of our spells.  On the other hand, we have Lunar Justice, which only affects targets that give experience and honor.  If I had to guess, Lunar Justice will be used for leveling and Moonglow will be for raiding.   I also think you will have to max out Moonglow because the Tier 2 Restoration talents are not things we need or want as balance.

Tier 3 Balance Talents:  Honestly, from this point, you are going to take and max every balance talent left.  Blizzard did a really great job at taking out the unnecessary talents from the balance tree.  Improved Eclipse is an easy choice.  It gives us more lunar or solar power with critical strikes and gives up more if we are hit by something.  Starsurge is one of our new spells that when combined with Lunar Guidance in Tier 4 will give us an interrupt and give us lunar or solar power.  Balance of Power is also in this tier, which gives us 4% hit plus changes 100% of our spirit to hit.  With no more improved faerie fire, this will become much more important although every piece of caster leather gear is going to have spirit on it.

Tier 4 Balance Talents:   I already discusses why you are going to want to take Lunar Guidance in the Tier 3 explanation, but the biggest reason is more solar or lunar power when you need it.  At first, I thought that Solar Beam was going to be more of a PvP talent due to its silence.  However, after doing Ruby Sanctum, I'm almost certain we are going to be using this a lot in Cataclysm.  Gale Winds will be good for trash mobs that don't require CC and will help Typhoon as a knockback.  Also, it increases our Cyclone range, which we will be using more for CC as well. 

Tier 5 Balance Talents:  Tier 5 starts with Euphoria, a.k.a the reason I hate our Tier 2 talents even more.  Besides getting more lunar and solar energy, we get 12% of our mana when we hit an Eclipse.  Considering how often we hit Eclipses now, we are not gonna run out of mana unless we are AoEing.  And if Hurricane counts as a nature spell, we seriously are never gonna run out of mana.  From there, it is our treants, which we would pick up anyway and Owlkin Frenzy which increases our spell damage.

Tier 6 Balance Talents:  Overall, moonkins are getting alot in Cataclysm.  In just the Balance tree, we get an interrupt, a silence, and now a slow with Fungal Growth.  Wrath of Cenarius is interesting in that it likely means we will be casting Moonfire alot more and moving since we will get this buff refreshed when we are moviing.

Tier 7 Balance Talents:  Starfall.  Get it.  Love it.

Feral Talents:  Yeah, sorry feral talents.  There is literally nothing I could want from your tree for my moonkin although I will point out two things.  One, mangle is becoming a standard attack across all druids because it is not in the tree at all.  Second, props to Blizzard for naming a talent "Nom Nom Nom".  Please keep it that way Blizzard.

Restoration Talents:  With 5 points left out of the 41 points, I would pick up Blessing of the Grove for the Moonfire damage increase in combination with Wrath of Cenarius.  I would also pick up Furor to increase our intellect which will in turn give us more spellpower.  You could argue to take Perseverance instead of Moonglow to decrease damage taken by 6%, but it is still not a great talent.  Plus, you still have to put at least 1 point in Tier 2 of balance to get to Tier 3.

Some time later, I will come back and look at the feral tank and the mage.  Mage is going to be tough though because we don't know which will be the highest DPS yet.

Also, remember our Christmas in July contest.  We are getting some entries now, but you still have a good chance to win a FigurePrint of your character.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Naxxramas - How the Mighty Has Fallen

 In the original World of Warcraft, Naxxramas was considered the most difficult raid instance ever.  Requiring 40 players and insane amounts of strategy and coordination, only the top guilds in the world could go in there and be successful.  Even at the end of Burning Crusade, you still needed quite a few people to go in there because of the mechanics.  I, unfortunately, never did Naxx in its prime.  I didn't even start playing until Burning Crusade.  However, you talk to anybody who has played World of Warcraft since the beginning and they will tell  you how difficult it was.   I was excited that they were bringing back Naxx in Wrath of the Lich King.  Of course, any original raider said it was not going to be anything like it once was.  And for the most part, they were right.

I am not usually one to be nostalgic so  you are probably wondering why I'm being so today.  Last night during our raid, one of our warriors is building a block tank set so that we can go for heroic Anub in 25 man TotGC.  He had a laundry list of gear that he needed to get.  Since we cleared 25 man Ruby Sanctum and 10/25 man ICC, we decided to have a retro raid night and go help him get the block gear from Naxx. It was when we got to the first boss that I realized how much this raid had fallen.  We defeated Anub'Rekhan before the first insect swarm.  And this was just the start.  Just to highlight a few other things that occurred in our 25 man Naxx raid.

Defeated Heigen without having to do the dance once.
Defeated Gluth without a decimate. (Precious and Stinky, which are trash mobs, are tougher than Gluth now)
Defeated Grand Widow Faerlina without an enrage.
Defeated Noth without a teleport.  (We had done this when he was the weekly.)

As far as I know, no fight lasted longer than 3 minutes in the entire Naxx raid.  We thought we had a good shot at the Immortal achievement until Instructor Razuvious where we lost one of our tanks and our chance at the Immortal achievement.

While losing the Immortal achievement on the last wing before the Frost wing was tough, what was even tougher was seeing what Naxx had been reduced to.  Once the greatest raid instance in the entire game now reduced to nothing but World of Logs fodder.  (By the way, pretty much every single one of our DPS ranked on every single fight in Naxx.)  Even Ulduar has some challenge still left in it with hard modes.  But Naxx literally has nothing left.  When you have people who can go in solo into 25 man and defeat two of the bosses in the plague quarter, you know that raid has become nothing.  Stuff like this did happen in Burning Crusade when the game wide nerf hit before Wrath in Karazhan and Zul'Aman.  Now, this has happened before Wrath is even done.

So to Blizzard, please do not rehash anymore raid content.  What you even described at one time as the best raid dungeon ever has been reduced to nothing now.  I do not want to see Sunwell as a level 85 raid that will be beaten repeatedly and then just embarrassed after the new highest tier of raiding comes out.  Take some pride in your raids.

Please remember the Christmas in July contest and enter for some cool stuff.

Monday, July 12, 2010

WoW Economy - a.k.a Was I An Asshole?

Not a whole lot gets on my nerves in game, but one of things that will get me slightly upset is if I get a whisper from a level 10 whatever wanting a port to Dalaran.  Maging ain't easy though.  I usually do it for about 10 gold, but of course lower levels won't have that much, so if the player is less than 80, I take much less.  I will explain my reasoning behind this later.

I had a level 80 while in Ironforge ask me for a port to Dalaran.  I told him my fee was 10 gold and he said no thank you.  Actually, if he would have said no thank you, that would have been nice.  Instead, he called me out for charging 10 gold for a port to Dalaran.

Now, to understand my reasoning behind this takes a little bit of understanding of my job.  I hate it when I tell people I am a pharmacist and they immediately label me as a pill counter.  No, I'm not a pill counter.  I actually work in a hospital as a clinical pharmacist as well as working with the pharmacy informatics.  I actually very rarely count any pills.  The robot we have is a pill counter, not me.  I am a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist.  The reason I bring this up is if I was just a "pill counter", you could pay me less.  However, the other skills I bring to the table make it where you have to pay me more for my services.

Now getting back to the mage, here are the reasons I charge 10 gold.  First off, for a level 80, you should crap 10 gold for breakfast.  You can turn in one Argent Tourney quest and get 23 gold.  The second reason is that, as the goblins say, "Time is money".  I am saving you time so you can get back to Dalaran and do whatever you need to.  That is paying for my service plus the cost of the reagent.  Also, it is supply versus demand.  I'm the only level 80 mage here, so you want it, I have it, and I can set the price.  Third, and the final reason that made him finally shut up about it, is I am willing to barter.  If the guy I was dealing with was not an asshole about it, I would have let him pay me 5 gold or even less.  This is a service that in no way benefits me, but benefits the person who is receiving it.

However, I can also see where my line of logic could get into trouble as well.  I am sure we have all ran across the asshole elitist tank who says that he will tank this instance for 100 gold from each person to cover possible repair cost.  Yes, tanks do have more repair cost than most other classes.  However, the difference between this and what I do is the tank still gets a benefit from running this 5 man.  He still gets Frost emblems and Triumph emblems, which even if he doesn't need gear, he could use for rep, gems, or heirlooms.  Plus, I would say that 75% of the WoW players still need some ICC gear likely from the vendor.  I'm still trying to get the tank neck with Frost badges.  After that, I will probably be buying some primordial saronite to sell and make some money.  There is probably no one in this game right now who cannot benefit from 5 mans.    

So, what should be services to charge for and what should not.  Here is my list of things to charge for and things to not charge for:

Charge People (At Least Tips) For
Cutting Gems
Armor/Weapon Making
Portals (If not in a raid instance)
Elixirs/Potion Making
Do Not Charge People For
Summons into Raid
Joining a guild (Although the GM paying for signatures is okay)
Gear Drops (I am okay in guild runs to charge for mounts though, like Sarth+3)

 Really, what it comes down to is the benefit of yourself and the uniqueness of your service versus the expectations of a group.  A group expects you to tank or heal.  A group expects you to summon into a raid.  However, if you are a tailor and somebody wants you to make something and has the mats, they should be willing to pay a small gold fee for you to make it.  It would be the equivalent of  you taking hamburger meat to a local fast food place and asking for free hamburgers.  It is not gonna happen.  They have to pay for their equipment, employees, etc.

I would love to hear your opinion about this.  Do you just charge tips or do you charge a flat fee for your profession services?  Also,  have you seen people charge for raiding/5 man services like tanking or healing?

Also, broken record time, remember the Christmas in July contest.  We have two entries which means you have a great chance of getting some free stuff.

Friday, July 9, 2010

RealID Part 3 - Victory for Privacy and the Community

I usually don't do two blog post in a single day, but the announcement just came from MMO Champion,, and Blizzard that the forums will not require RealID.  I feel this is a victory for the players of the game.  Hopefully, Blizzard saw that putting peoples real names on the forums will not cut down on trolling.  For an example of this, just look at Penny Arcade from today.

I would be curious to see the statistics on the number of canceled subscriptions that lead to this change of heart.  It had to be an extremely high number for Blizzard to change their mind.  If only a few people said they would do it, I don't think it would have changed their minds.  The only other thing I could have thought of is that the litigation must have been lining up to take shots at the RealID on the forums and they backed off.  That is the only two ways I could see Blizzard changing their mind on this.

However, the biggest victory here is the community.  From Twitter to blog post to official forum posts (which I hope someone from Guinness World Records was watching because I'm sure the speed of posts was a record.), the WoW community united against this in a fashion unlike anything I have ever seen in gaming before.  The companies do not have to dictate the players.  The players can and should dictate the companies.  If they are not happy with something, be vocal about it.  And while some people got into the realm of QQing, I think a lot of people presented reasonable arguments against it.

So go into this weekend WoW community and celebrate this victory for your privacy.  But always be ready.  The next attack is always around the corner.  May not be Blizzard, but someone else will be suggesting this for something else soon.

Alts and Raiding - What to Do?

I have recently run into a very interesting circumstance lately.  I have my level 80 mage who I have geared up to the point of being able to step into early ICC.  Not the highest DPS by any stretch, but can step in.  I still want my moonkin as my main raider.  However, my guild is in the middle of running HMs for both 10 and 25 mans and my mage is not geared for that (except heroic lootship) and I need my geared moonkin for HMs.  In other words, how do you gear an alt when your main is required for your raids?

This question is something that I'm still very much working on myself, but here are a few ideas that I have come up with.

1) PUGs - Where my moonkin will most definitely be needed for my guild's main raids, I could easily get into some PUGs with my mage.  Of course, at this point, you run into PUG issues. (people leaving after the first wipe, complaining about loot, ninjaing, etc.)

2) Another guild with different raid times from your main - My main raids 25 mans on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and 10 mans on Wednesday.  This means that finding a guild that raids on Sunday would be perfect for my mage.  Ner'zhul is also a PST server.  I could also find an EST server that raids earlier (say 6-8 EST) and still make it for my main raids.

3) Come in on farm content - Unfortunately, with the exception of heroic lootship, I don't know if we have any HMs on farm yet.  We have been downing HMs left and right (Conquest is currently 7/12 in 25 man HMs and 11/12 HMs in 10 mans), but I wouldn't classify it as on farm yet.  Plus my main still needs gear from some of the HMs.  I am still a little ticked that my mage got heroic Spyglass before my main did on 10 man heroic lootship.

4) Change my alt from PvE to PvP - Mages are pretty good at PvP.  I have thought about just running heroics to get enough triumph badges to get PvP gear and use the Stone Keeper Shards to fill in extra slots and just be a PvP mage.  It is easier to get gear doing that than raiding.

5) Realize Cataclysm is close and get another alt to level 80 - From the looks of some of the initial gear in Cataclysm,  I will be replacing raiding gear fairly quickly with quest rewards and dungeon gear.  My DK now has his heirloom gear to be able to tank dungeons up to 80 fairly quickly.  Then maybe my warlock, who also has heirloom gear now.

So what do you do with your alts when trying to gear them up?  If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear them.  Also, I'm gonna be a broken record, but I want to remind you about the Christmas in July contest.  Just take some guesses at some release dates and win cool stuff.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Moonkin DPS Rotation - Present and Likely Future

Note:  While part of me wants to continue about the firestorm that is RealID and another part of me wants to discuss the change to 31 point talent trees, I'm doing neither.  For RealID, what has been said has been said.  It will either sway Blizzard or not.  For the 31 point talent trees, I want to see an actual moonkin talent tree before I comment.

A lot of people who do not understand moonkins say that the moonkin rotation is very simple.  You probably hear people say it is just alternating between two buttons like 1112222222222222222221111111.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There is a little more complexity to the moonkin rotation than that.

Now, everybody is going to have a slightly different rotation, but here is my rotation for my current situation.  Note that this rotation is for a fight with no adds, little movement, and no mechanic to limit casting, like normal Festergut or normal/hard Blood Queen.  In some fights, you may want to wait just a second more for Starfall or not use it all depending on the situation.  Also, if you are moving a lot in a fight, you might want to apply DoTs just a second before they fall off, especially if you can use Gift of the Wild to proc your 2T10 bonus.

Treants > Faerie Fire > Wrath > Insect Swarm > Moonfire > Wrath until Lunar Eclipse procs or Spyglass proc is up to 10 > Starfall when Spyglass proc is up to 10 > Starfire until Solar Eclipse procs > Reapply DoTs and use Starfall/Treants on cooldown in between procs > Keep alternating between Lunar and Solar Eclipses

Here are some of my particulars in my rotation.  One, I open with Treants because I want to start getting damage on the boss as soon as the tank touches him.  All my other spells have the potential to pull aggro off the tanks except for treants.  That is why I open with that.  However, opening with treants means they come to you first unless you give them some direction.  That is one of the jobs of Faerie Fire.  It directs the treants where to go in addition to apply Faerie Fire.  Unless the fight is an incredibly long fight like LK, you should only have to apply Faerie Fire once.  If you do have to reapply, I considering it a DoT to reapply.   I cast Wrath next before the DoTs (Insect Swarm and Moonfire) because I want Earth and Moon on the target to make it easier to start getting Eclipse procs.  Plus, it provides a damage buff to the DoTs.  After my DoTs are on the target, I just start casting Wrath.  I will only pause casting Wrath for two reasons.  One, if I get a Lunar Eclipse proc, I will start casting Starfire.  Second, I have the Muradin's Spyglass, which stacks up to 10 increases in spellpower.  If I hit my stack of 10 with the Spyglass, I will go ahead and cast Starfall for maximum damage with Starfall, which is based on spellpower.  After that, it is just alternating Lunar and Solar Eclipses while reapply DoTs and using my Treants and Starfall on cooldown until we have a dead boss.

As I said, this is my current rotation for what is essentially a tank and spank fight.  I can see where a few changes might occur before Cataclysm though.  For example, I would like to get Dislodged Foreign Object and Phylactery of the Nameless Lich.  This means that I would likely use Starfall sooner in my rotation versus where I use it now.  We also don't know what will come in Patch 4.0 that will change this rotation.  I'm not foreseeing anything in 3.3.9 that will affect it though.

When it gets to Cataclysm, I think our rotation will begin to change drastically depending on the new Eclipse mechanic and the new spells that will grant Lunar or Solar power.  Who knows what it is going to be (especially with the news of the new 31 point talent trees), but I'm almost certain you are going to see faster changing between Wrath and Starfire and a lot less dependency on random chance for Eclipse procs.  In addition, the new spells that give either Lunar or Solar power will almost certainly be added into the rotation somewhere, likely at the beginning and maybe even replacing Wrath to proc our Earth and Moon.  Whatever happens, I think it will add more complexity to the moonkin DPS rotation.

Just a reminder, the Christmas in July Contest is still going on.  Please check it out so that you can win some great prizes.  I'm gonna sound like a broken record, but I really want people to enter and then get the word out about this blog.    


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

RealID Part 2 - One Step Too Far

Damn you Blizzard.  The day that I finally get around to posting a blog about RealID and you have the balls to release something that almost makes me change my mind about RealID.  In case you missed the firestorm yesterday, Blizzard announced that the WoW forums will use the RealID and show people's actual names.  Parts of this sound fine and part of it sounds like the worst idea possible for Blizzard.

Here is my initial thought on this.  Blizzard is doing this to cut down on trolling.  How likely would you be to call Blizzard a retarded dumb piece of shit if your name was associated with your comment?  Probably not.  This goes back to what I mentioned yesterday about the John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory.  You take out the anonymity and you take out the dickwadness of the forums.  This sounds like a great idea and I'm sure it will cut down on the trolling although it will not eliminate it.  For proof of this, check out Warcraft's Facebook page where people post their Facebook picture and still troll.  However, it may also backfire and cut back on airing legitimate concerns about any Blizzard game.

Second, a lot of people are complaining that this is taking something that is voluntary and making it involuntary.  To a certain extent, I agree.  However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Every WoW player is going to or already has somebody in their RealID.  Even more people have Facebook where your name and picture can appear on a complete strangers "People You May Know" just because you share a few friends.  Even if you have your privacy settings to the max, they can still see your picture and name, which is even more than what WoW is doing.

One of the legitimate issues I have heard about RealID is players who roleplay.  As weird as I think it is to always pretend you are your character in game in actions and speaking, I can see where having your real name versus your character name on the forums would kill a roleplaying experience, no matter how little of it goes on anyway.  

The biggest issue that I think Blizzard is opening itself up to is litigation.  Now, it seems weird that I would mention this, but here is my theory behind it.  World of Warcraft's ESRB rating is T for Teen, which means children as young as 13 could be playing this game and posting on the forums.  As much as I like to think that no pedophiles play WoW, I would be naive to say that is true.  I could see a situation where a teenage boy or girl starts being stalked by someone because their RealID is on the forums and it leads to a situation that Blizzard would never want to happen to any of its players, especially teenagers.  If something did occur, it would just open up Blizzard to a civil lawsuit over something they could do nothing about just because they forced the RealID on the forums.  Add in the negative publicity of a situation like this and the cost to settle a civil lawsuit and you could be looking at the end of Blizzard in a worst case scenario.  Hopefully, something like this would never occur, but they are opening themselves up to it.

So is there a solution?  I feel that there is a solution that would work and involve two things.  One, make it an opt in.  Give players the option for their RealID to appear on the forums.  As I mentioned before, I personally wouldn't mind because all the places where my info is currently anyway in social networking so I would opt in if I actually posted on the forums, but a lot of people wouldn't for understandable reasons.  The other thing they need to do is make moderators moderate.  This would cut down on trolling drastically and not make RealID a necessity in order to cut down on trolling.

Also, I want to take this time to remind you about the contest we have going on right here.  I would encourage everybody who can to participate.  Either that or I'm getting a WoW mouse, FigurePrint, and PrintWarcraft for myself.            

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Christmas In July Contest - Win Free Stuff From Redhawk's Gaze

I saw a tweet from one of the people I follow that their guild was doing this.  I thought it would be a great idea to do this on my blog.  They are having a pool on the release date of Cataclysm with prizes, etc.  Here are the rules for the Redhawk's Gaze Christmas In July Contest.

1) Leave a comment in this post with the following information.

- E-mail
- Name (Just cannot be Anonymous)
- Character Name
- Date that Cataclysm release date is announced
- Patch 4.0 release date
- Cataclysm release date

2)  This contest is working on what I call the Price is Right principle.  You cannot be over on your guess.  If Cataclysm release date is 12/1/10 and you guess 12/2/10, you will not win for that question unless everybody guesses over and we then move to whoever guess the closest and is over.  This is true for all three questions.

3) Since there is no chance of Cataclysm or any other of those dates being released in July, all entries must be in by July 31st, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST.  If by chance the Cataclysm release date is leaked in July, that question will become null and void.

4) The person who gets to the closest on all 3 release dates will win the grand prize.  If you get 2 of the 3 closest and somebody else gets the other 1 of the 3 the closest, the person who guessed 2 of the 3 closest will win even if they guess over on the third one.

5) Here are the prizes for this contest:

First Place Prize:  FigurePrints of any of your characters - $130 value
Second Place Prize:  A WoW Official Razer Mouse - $80 value
Third Place Prize - A PrintWarcraft Poster of any of your characters - $18 value

I will also be choosing 3 random people who reply in the post who will get an authenticator (unless they won one of the bigger prizes).  If you would not like to be considered for that because you have one, just put in your entry that you are not interested in the authenticator.  That way, it can help somebody who does need it.

6) In the event of a tie, the person who posted first will be the one to get the closest point for that question.

7) This is open to anybody who is interested in this contest.  I was thinking about limiting it to US only, but two of the prices can be sent as a gift certificate sent to your e-mail and the mouse is the only one that has to be mailed.

So there is not much else to say about this contest.  Have some fun.  Spread it to your friends and guild mates and tell them to come check out the blog and get some free stuff in the process and have some fun.

RealID - Why It Is Not That Bad?

First off, I would like to thank all the guest bloggers from last week, which were Natrii, Samsaric Warrior, Variant Avatar, and Luftitoom.  I would encourage you to go back and read their articles since it contained some great stuff as well as check out their great blogs.

In working with them, I have also been able to add them to my RealID and even some on Facebook. Since RealID has come out, there has been a lot of controversy about how it may decrease privacy since it displays your real name.   In my workings with it, I have not seen such a problem with the system.  Here are some of my thoughts on the new RealID system.

First, I have absolutely loved it.  I have thought it was great to see which characters my friends are playing on currently and see what they are doing, whether it is raiding or PvPing.  I have friends who were working on LK so I can stay on my server and give advice on how to handle LK while still playing my own game versus jumping off my character to go to a character on that server or even jumping in their vent.

Second,  I thought about all the ways I have already given my information out.  Let me just go through a few of them.  I have MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter all through the same e-mail address as my RealID e-mail adddress.  If you go to my profile on Blogger, you will find my e-mail address.  If you go to my Facebook page for this blog, you will likely find out which one is me in just a few minutes.  And I have the same amount of control over RealID as I do Facebook.  If I don't know the person, I don't have to accept them.  If I do, I can add them.

Third,  the only thing that even causes me some pause is the friends of friends feature.  However, it is not the easiest function to find and I have a feeling that it will likely be cut soon.  In the meantime though, I don't foresee this as an issue.  They can see my name, but they still have to request to be RealID friends and so I still ultimately have control.  I also cannot see their e-mail from the friends of friends screen.

Fourth,  this RealID may provide some accountability.  For my reason for this, you have to see John Gabriel's (from Penny Arcade) greater internet dickwad theory.

If you take out one part of this equation, you lose the ability to be a dickwad.  In this case, you take out the anonymity.  Again, you don't have to give out your info or accept RealID request from people you don't know.  However, knowing that people in the game do know who I am almost completely prevents me from being a dickwad ever.  I really don't have the personality of a dickwad anyway as anyone in my guild can tell you.  However, it is good to know that I have something backing up the fact that I can't be one.

So, overall, I really like the RealID system.  There are a few kinks that I wish they would work out, but overall, I'm very satisfied.  So if  you would like to hit me up on my RealID, just send me a request through my e-mail,  And you have the option to put a note in the request, just drop me a note in there about who you are and I will try to add you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting Started in PvP as a Balance Druid - A Guest Blog by Lufitoom

So, you are a fluffy, feathery Moonkin and you want to start pvp-ing and you aren’t sure where to start.  I completely understand this.  When I went from an unkillable tree in battlegrounds to a Moonkin that seemed to day way too often, I had to rethink my play style and strategies.  With improvements to our survivability and our offensive skills, we are now viable and even dominating in battlegrounds.  I hope that these tips can get you started in the right direction and you find as much fun and satisfaction in melting faces as I do.

I am going to focus more on battlegrounds and world pvp rather than arenas.  Battlegrounds are the best way to get your feet wet and become comfortable with pvp.  They will also allow you to accrue honor and pick up some nifty off pieces that will increase your resilience, spellpower and stamina.  I am a firm believer that different people can excel with different builds and gear but there are some things that work best.

Getting the Right Spec and Glyphs

The first thing I suggest if you are interested in being the best you can in a battleground is to create a pvp spec.  If you are interested in seeing my spec, you can view it at here. There are many variations, however I suggest the following as “must haves” that are not used in pve much or at all:

Brambles:   Put 3 points into this skill.  It increases the damage of your Thorns and Entangling Roots by 75% (you will be amazed at how many Warriors and Rogues kill THEMSELVES on them) and increases the damage caused by your Treants by 15%.  In addition, while you have Barkskin up, the attacks done to you and done by your Treants have a 15% chance to daze the target/attacker.

Owlkin Frenzy:  Attacks done to you have a 15% chance of sending you into a frenzy that not only makes your wings/hands glow a sexy fiery red while you let out a loud Moonkin bellow, but increased your damage by 10%, stops any pushback of balance spells, and returns 2% base mana every two seconds.

Gale Winds:  Some people use this, others say it’s a waste.  I personally love having the extra 4 yards added to my Cyclone range and the 30% extra damage to Typhoon and Hurricane can be extremely handy.

Typhoon:  Some people use this in PvE, others don’t but it is so important in pvp.  The knockback and daze can get you away from a bad situation and also knock enemies away from teammates.  Oh, and let’s not forget the satisfaction of knocking enemies off of high cliffs.

Now on to glyphs.  I have tried almost every combination that you can imagine and when I finally stuck with these three glyphs I saw my damage and survivability increase substantially.  I highly recommend that you give them a whirl even if you “love” the glyphs you have.

Glyph of Focus:  Yes, it reduces the radius of your Starfall by 50% but it does increase the damage by 10%.  Back when Starfall stunned/dazed and broke people out of stealth the large radius in battlegrounds was great.  Now, the increased damage is what you are looking for and this will be one of your biggest and best killers.

Glyph of Starfall:  This reduces the cooldown of your Starfall ability by 30 seconds.  This is HUGE.  Starfall does a ton of damage and being able to use it so much more often will be so important for you in battlegrounds.

Glyph of Monsoon:  You will use your Typhoon spell more than you think and this glyph will reduce the cooldown by three seconds.  Doesn’t sound like much but it really is.

Gearing Up

I highly suggest grinding out at least a full Furious set.  You will need the resilience and the set bonus (Wrath of Elune) gives your Wrath casts the chance to reduce the cast time of your next Starfire by 1.5 seconds.  As for your idol, I suggest using your favorite pve one since the pvp ones are earned in arena and in my opinion, sorely lacking.  I won’t go into any more on gear since most of it is earned and this is just to get you in there and started.  Just remember, have ~6% hit and at the least, 74 spell penetration.

Tips For PvP Play

Now for the fun part.  Getting into the battleground and making the other team cry.  Some of these might make you groan and say “Duh!  I knew that!” but you would be surprised at how many people miss a few of these.

Cyclone, Cyclone, Cyclone!  This ability is so important.  Sure, it will let you get away or stop the damage on you but it does so much more than that.  Save a teammate from a pesky Rogue, stop a healer from healing, stop the hots from ticking on a target, stop another Moonkin’s Starfall, etc etc.  Don’t forget to Cyclone Shadowfeinds.  It stops the Priest from getting any of its benefits.  There are probably a million scenarios where a Cyclone is called for so DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE IT!

Don’t over-extend yourself!  I don’t know if it is our size or what, but we tend to run in like tanks.  You are ranged.  Get close enough for Starfall and to use your spells but STAY RANGED!

Hots and Nourish!  You can heal yourself but your first choice should be to cc the target first.  Cyclone, Entangling Roots, run like Hell.  But don’t forget to heal yourself.

Heal Others!  Battlegrounds are a team sport.  Don’t be stingy with your hots.  They might not be big heals but they might just be a life saver.

Buff the Raid!  It’s pvp.  Don’t just toss a Gift of the Wild before it starts.  Throw Thorns on everyone and their pets.

Be Prepared with Extra Buffs!  If you are world pvping or in battlegrounds, you can’t always depends on a Priest or Pally to be there to buff you.  Buy (or make) Runescrolls of Fortitude and Drums of Forgotten Kings.

Flask it Up!  Flasks are relatively cheap and it’s always nice to have the buff from Flask of the Frost Wyrm.

Stop the Mana Burn!  Priests will be one of the most (if not the most) annoying adversaries.  Shapeshift to Bear or Cat when you are getting mana burnt.

Warstomp and Shadowmeld.  Don’t forget you have one of these abilities.  If you are Tauren, warstomp to stun and get away/ranged.  Night Elves, this is so handy in situation like when you are versus a Mage.  Arcane Barrage?  Shadowmeld!

Abolish Poison/Decurse!  Do it.  To yourself, to your teammates.

Starfall!  Do it well and do it often.  Single target, multiple targets. 

Innervate!  I usually innervate at about 30%  Any lower and it causes mana problems for long fights.

Pvping as a Moonkin is a blast.  You will learn your own tricks as time goes on but this should get you in there and causing your enemies to drop dead around you.

Oh, and don’t forget to /dance every now and then.  It’s what we do!

You can find Lufitoom at