Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thinking Without Portals

Kitty is thinking with portals.
The latest buzz in WoW is the disappearance of portals from Shattrath and Dalaran.  A lot of people are complaining that it will make traveling to any city much worse.  But how often do we need to go to the cities?  Let us look at what we go to the cities for.

Use 1: Class Trainers - Yes, when leveling up, you should visit your trainer every few levels.  But look at what they are changing in Cataclysm.  You will get a talent point one level alternating with skills every other levels.  So really, at the most frequent, you should go over 2 levels.  If you are leveling fresh from 85, this means you would go a grand total of 42 times to get skills.  Take into account that druids and death knights have ways to get to their trainers in Ebon Hold or Moonglade without going to the city, and it becomes even less.  In addition, you don't get enough skills to warrant visiting every 2 levels.  You could probably go once every 10 levels and be okay when leveling.  This cuts the times down to 8.  Not a really good reason to have a hearthstone in a city. And after level 85, then what.  You never go back to your class trainer unless you respec.

Use 2: Profession Trainers - Most people power level their professions anyway and just buy the mats and use professions that make sense with each other.  You can go to a city once and level a profession up to 525, which is what I'm guessing the next profession cap is going to be.  In addition, things that take multiple mats level you up faster.

Use 3: Hubs - Just because there is no central city in Cataclysm doesn't mean there won't be a hub.  You have the PvP Wintergrasp like zone that will likely be a HUB.  In addition, each city is bigger than any of the central cities before.  It will cut down on lag if everybody in your faction is in one to two cities.  I have a super powerful system and I still only get 30 FPS in Dalaran. 

Use 4:  Battleground Masters - Since you can queue for battlegrounds from anywhere in the world, this is pretty much a non-issue.

Use 5: Guild Bank - Taken care of in guild rewards.  Start a raid, summon the bank, get your flask, etc.  Keep going.

Use 6: Flight Hub - With the addition of buying 310% speed for 5k in Cataclysm, your mount has become faster than the flight paths (and more direct too, but that is another issue entirely.)  You can fly there faster yourself than you can with a flight path.

Use 7: Switching Continents - It is true, this is probably a reason you will come back to your central city because they are the ways you travel to the other zones.  Unless you can find a mage, this is probably unavoidable.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out with new mage portals. Plus, they could just do what they did with getting to the Dark Portal and just add a portal to say Dalaran in each city or portals to the other continent.  And not all of those paths are through cities. (Hello Wetlands, we have not forgotten about you.)

Use 8: Auction House - Ah, the most brilliant part of the plan by Blizzard.  Auction House is the one legitimate reason to go to the cities still.  Unless you have the remote AH, you have to go to the city.  But taking away the portals makes it harder to go to the city.  You are in the middle of Hyjal at level 82.  Your bags are full with stuff you want to sell.  What would be easier?  Go to the city.  Or just go to the local home, get resting XP built up, sign off for the night, and then just do your AH stuff away from the game.  You come home, your bags are empty, and you are ready to keep going on questing.  In other words, Blizzard incentives you to start using the remote AH by taking away portals.

So as you can see, cities are not as important in WoW as they are now.  And they will become less important with the addition of flying.  The only reason I left out was Trade Chat, and honestly, who wants to spend any amount of time in there.  So there is no reason to freak out yet.  Especially considering we are probably still about 2 months away from Cataclysm, this could be changed back still.  I'm not counting on it, but it may happen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Redhawk's Gaze - Coming Soon to a Podcast Near You

In the past week or so, I have had two invitations to come on podcasts.

The first podcast is one I have already been on once and is run by some guild mates of mine, which is Leet Sauced, for a second show.  The first show was great and hopefully will be out soon.  I typically don't get drunk, but after about 4 drinks, I was feeling it by the end of the podcast.  Plus, from my first episode, you will hear the story of the greatest motor vehicle accident of all time.  Not in damage, but what occurred during and after.  Also, check out their first episode with The Bossy Pally

The second podcast I have been invited to come on is the next Raid Warning round table, which is Shift Happens:  A Druid Roundtable.  Since I have started listening to Raid Warning, which was around episode 2, and listening to their first roundtable, I was hoping they were going to do a druid roundtable.  I can't wait to sit down with some of the Balance druids that I use as references including Graylo, Lufitoom, and a lot of others (Too many to list here) and talking about the current state and future of the Balance class.  I may also end up on the feral tanking section, but we will have to see for that part.  Also, if you go back to the other roundtables, you can hear my guild mates, The Bossy Pally and Matticus, on their respective roundtables.  (Hopefully, I'm not missing any of my guild mates who have also been on their roundtables.)  I also would encourage you to e-mail questions to raidwarningpodcast@gmail.com or go to Epic Advice and there will be a thread with a place to put questions about druids in general.

So I encourage you to check out both of these podcast out and I'm hoping this will be the first couple in a bunch of podcast that you will hear me on soon.

Necessary Jerkiness - When Tanks Should Be Jerks

This weekend, I hit the first of my two major duelboxing goals.  I got my paladin/shaman to level 60 pretty much using only LFD.  Doing that, I found some things that will just stop me from tanking a LFD all together until it is rectified.  Is it a jerk not to tank for your LFD group?  Yes.  But you have to do something pretty bad to get to that point.

Before I talk about the things that will make me stop tanking for you, let me talk about what will not.  For 5 mans, I don't care about buffs.  If a hunter wants to misdirect mobs to me, great.  But it is not necessary though in a 5 man.  I also don't care if I out DPS you.  I take it as a point of pride if I can.  Also, in LFD, I don't charge for tanking.  Typically, I'm not a jerk about tanking.  However, there are some sins if you do them, I will let  you burn in multiple mob hell.

Sin 1:  Pulling Ahead of Me - If you start pulling stuff ahead of me as the tank and I do not authorize it (I'm starting to love DKs who can pulls casters in my consecration as a paladin), I'm assuming you want to tank and you don't need me. 

Sin 2:  Pulling Aggro Off Me - Sometimes it just happens and it is an accident.  I completely understand.  But if it is constantly happening, it is a problem that should be corrected.  It may be me if you are levels ahead of me, but you can control it while I still have to tank.  Also, I do love it when I see people doing it now, because they are royally screwed when patch 4.0.1 comes out.

Sin 3:  Uncontrolled Pets - If you cannot control your pet, you can get out.  I give a pet one time running ahead of me.  If it happens a second time, I will stop tanking and ask the person to drop group or I will vote him out.  And yes, if a mob starts to run away, you can call your pet off.  That is not an excuse.

Sin 4:  Not Following Me - Especially in the old instances, I may not have known the way to go the first time.  If I'm going the wrong way, you can speak up.  However, the last thing I want is a healer and a DPS going off the wrong way when they should be following me.  That is how extra mobs are pulled or I pull mobs and get no heals and die.

Sin 5:  Constantly Dying to Trash Pulls - As a general rule for tanks, healers should be able to heal a tank that pulls a group of mobs, which is usually 4 - 6.  Most instances are very well laid out to pull only about 4 mobs at a time.  If we are constantly dying to trash pulls and I have tanked the instance before successfully, the issue is not me, it is the healer.  If it happens too often, I will just stop tanking and tell the healer to drop group so we can get someone who can heal.

I am very willing to admit when I make mistakes or I pull too many mobs.  But my errors are errors that happen once and I learn from it.  If you keep doing something, I will call you out and tell you to drop group.

There will be a second blog post today when I start to line up the details, but I'm going to be on a couple podcast this next week for stuff you can look forward too.  The announcements will be coming soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

100th Post Celebration - The Best of Redhawk's Gaze

4/14/10 - The day that I decided to start my own WoW blog.  Who knew in a little over 5 months that I would be sitting here with my 100th blog post.  I didn't even know I had this much to say about the game I love.  I hope in doing this that I have been informative with some humor thrown in and lots of lolcats.

So to celebrate my 100th post, I wanted to go through some of the things that you, the readers, have found most interesting.

Most Viewed Blog Posts
1) Moonkin DPS Rotation - Present and Likely Future
2) To Starfall or Not To Starfall (Actually That Is Not A Question, I'm Going To Use Starfall)
3) My Raiding UI - What You See and What You Don't See
4) Emblem Gear for the New Level 80 Part 1:  The Mage
5) How To Lead a Pug Raid - A Guide

Most Commented on Blog Post (Not Counting the Contest)
1) Signs of a Bad Moonkin Player
2) To Starfall or Not To Starfall (Actually That Is Not A Question, I'm Going To Use Starfall)
3) Sickness and WoW - When to Sign Out for the Night
4) WoW As A Scapegoat
5) Operation Gnomergan: How It Should Have Been Handled 

Finally, I want to throw out some thanks.  First, I want to thank all the people who have been guest bloggers on the site, which would be Samsaric Warrior, Variant Avatar, Lufitoom, Natrii, and Viktory.  I also want to thank all the people who post cat pictures on the internet that I borrow on a routine basis.  Also, for all my cat picture editing, I want to thank Trollcats.com for creating their Trollcat Generator.  I also want to thank every blog or site that links to my site which is too numerous to name, but I know who you are.  I also want to thank the community in general for everything they have done.  Whether interacting through the blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook, it has been incredible.  So thank you very much and I hope to bring you more content as we roll in Cataclysm.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is $2.99 a Deal Now? And Other News

I haven't done a quick news rundown lately, so let me go through some of the latest headlines from WoW.

1) Remote Guild Chat - Finally, Blizzard adds the function that makes it worth the $2.99 to buy the remote services.  Remote Guild Chat.  This could be awesome.  If you need gems made or an enchant made, you can just ask somebody in your guild to send it to you.  Or you can just talk to your friends.  Or if they want to make an alt raid, you can get word of it anywhere.  Now, if they will just add remote in guild trading, it will be perfect.

2) Return to Graveyard Button - After spending half an hour trying to find the entrance to Maraudon, I would have been more than happy to push a button, go back to the graveyard, and take the durability hit and the rez sickness to just get the heck out of there.  Otherwise, I don't know how helpful this will be. (Certainly not as helpful as MMO Champion is letting on.)

3) 10/25 Man Shared Realm First  - And queue the QQers.  I give it about 2 days ago before the QQing started from the hardcore guilds saying it is just making the game easier.

4) Minigames - This all depends on what type of rewards you get for playing these minigames.  I am a fan of Plants vs Zombies, but I don't know if I want to take my WoW time to play it as a minigame in game.  If they give some special benefit, it might make it worth it.

5) Worgen Mounts (Or Lack Thereof) - While I feel bad for the worgens, I feel even worse for the druids.  They better bump our travel form up to full mount speed that is able to scale like the worgens.  If all the worgens can run faster than travel form druids at riding level 150, we have a problem on our hands.

6) Tier 11 Previews - Too soon for comments.

7) Two Parts Down In Background Downloader  - My guess is there is one part to go.  We were talking about this in guild last night.  I would not be surprised to see this patch one week after Blizzcon.  I definitely don't see it coming out before Blizzcon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

7 Rules for Pleasing a LFD Tank

While running Maraudon (again) on my pally/shaman duelboxing combo, I ran into the first instance in LFD of someone telling me to go faster and make big pulls.  When I asked him if he was the tank, he decided to be a smartass and start pulling ahead of me.  So, I told him knock himself out.  He was a pally healer and so I thought I would just sit back, eat up 3 times the XP as everybody else, and eventually watch him kill himself, which he did.  With both of my characters being the only other rezzers in the group, I essentially told  him that I was not going to rez him and he would be better dropping group.  Eventually, the entire group decided to vote kick him and we get another healer.

However, this experience made me think back to my main and all the LFD groups that I have tanked with him.  Yes, we all run into the people who wants us to go faster or pull bigger because they want to get through an instance faster.  And I understand the mentality of getting through an instance quickly.  However, speed and efficiency are not the same thing.  Don't believe me.  Remember trying to go quickly through the section up to Loken after the lightning boss when you first started heroic Halls of Lightning.   Those pulls were about efficiency, not speed.  To this day, I see undergeared people wipe constantly in Halls of Lightning because they choose speed over efficiency.

So, whether you are a DPS or a healer, how do you keep your LFD tank happy?  Let me give you the ways to keep a LFD tank happy.

1) Tank Decides the Speed of the Instance - I personally don't care if you want me to pull the whole room in front of the first boss in Drak'theron Keep.  I'm the tank and I'm doing what is good for me and the group.  If  you don't like the speed I'm going, too bad.  You can either drop group and wait for the next queue or you can live with it.  Besides, Wrath instances are nothing like older 5 mans and none of them take long anyway.

2) Healers Must Speak Up - I'm focusing on nothing but the next pull.  If you are the healer and you need mana to heal, you better speak up.  Nothing is worse for me as a tank than pulling and 5 seconds after I pull, I see the healer say in party chat "Mana".  If we wipe because of it, that usually will lead me to starting a vote kick against the healer.

3) Healers Priority:  Tank -> Themselves -> DPS - As the tank, I will protect you, but you better heal me as first priority.  Unless you yourself are at low health, you should heal me first because in any 5 man instance, we can kill the boss as just the tank and healer.  It may take a while, but we can do it.  After that, if DPS is being stupid, you can heal them.

4) DPS Should Not Be Stupid - This is more than the obvious things like don't pull, etc.  This means drop aggro if you grab it.  This means that if you don't have a way to, run to the tank, not away so that I can get aggro back.  Don't stand in stupid stuff like slime puddles, etc.

5) DPS Should Out DPS Tank - Now, I know, tanks cheat a little bit on trash with this because we all have really powerful AoE attacks.  But the tank should not be the number one on DPS on bosses.  Now, yes, I understand some people in LFD are not geared and are trying to gear up.  That is fine and I'm happy to carry those people.  But if you are equal with me on gear, you better out DPS me.

6) Think About the Tanks Needs - More than heals and buffs, but think specifically for each type of tank.  On my druid tank, I just need to get rage.  I can shape shift until I get 10 rage or just enrage and start pulling.  As a paladin, I need mana, at least while leveling.  As a DK, I may need to let my runes regenerate.  Also, if the tank is just starting and you overgear the tank, you may want to wait because you will likely pull aggro.

7) Know the Fights - If there is a fight that will incapacitate the tank for a bit, you better know what to do.  The instance that I'm thinking of is Zul'Farrak.  There are mobs in there that polymorph the tank into a frog.  During that time, don't be insane.  Just wait and survive until the tank comes back and gets aggro.  Also, if you have a way to cleanse the status effect, clear it so that I can continue tanking.  The more you know about the fights, the easier for the tank.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Request To Blizzard From A Duelboxing Level 42 Paladin/Shaman

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, differentiate Maraudon's 3 instances.  Make them more like the ICC 5 mans with 3 seperate entrances and a definite stop and finish. 

I was dualbox tanking the instance starting off in Purple Crystals from LFD. (I should say at this point, I'm level 42 with only one flight point in the old world.  Thank you.)  Once we killed the one rogue boss whose name I don't remember, it highlighted that we were done, but we saw more area to explore.  We started walking around  and ran into the area with the slimes and the creatures that look like a combination of druids and deer.  We ran into the second boss who constantly summons their treants.  We downed him with no problem.  However, little did we know what the next part had for us.  We started tanking the hydra and found we hit our limit.  A level 42 pally tanking a creature that is 4 levels higher plus was an elite that dropped aggro constantly.  After we got killed by 4 hydra at once with the hydra tossing us everywhere, we decided the group was done, though technically, we cleared our part of the instance much earlier.

After doing research afterwards, I figured out that the whole 3 instances are connected together with us starting in the lowest one and then moving to the Orange Crystals and then moving to the Pristine Waters, which was 5 levels higher than anybody in the group.  It doesn't even come up in my LFD specific dungeons.  And although I did do it on my druid back in the day, I have forgetten how frustrating it is to run into a part of the instance you are not ready for.

I'm even okay with them running back to back like in the ICC 5 mans, but ending up in an area that is too tough for you in the same instance is a little rough.  Just make some way to differentiate the areas better.  I know the level 30s will appreciate in Cataclysm since a lot of them are going to be bringing up worgen and goblin alts.

Also, one more note about Maraudon.  Can you please make the run back after a death a little easier?  That place is a maze.  I had to consult a map to get into an instance so I could get my body back to leave the group because it has been so long since I have been there.  Thanks for your help with these.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Brief Experience in the PTR - Lessons Learned

I finally was able to get into the PTR and play around with the 4.0.1 moonkin changes (albeit through streaming while downloading).  Also, thanks to whoever took Redhawks.  I had to name my character Reddhawks on the US PvP PTR server. Here are some of the things I have learned so far.

Lesson 1 - Wow, this is going to be a huge download.  Thankfully, they had the thing that allows you to play and stream parts of it while it is downloading because if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be able to do anything on the PTR.  Thank goodness the Background Download is already running for the live client.

Lesson 2 - Moonkin DPS is equal to current or maybe even higher.  I was able to top over 10k on a practice dummy in Stormwind with a higher than normal latency and only about 15 frames per second.  This makes me think that it could even be higher than I thought.

Lesson 3 -  The Eclipse Bar is cool.  I love having a little more control over the Eclipses and it has a long cooldown so you can move.  Now, if someone can come up with an addon that makes it movable, that will be great.

Lesson 4 - Starsurge is incredibly interesting.  Just with my own personal testing, if you cast it during an Eclipse, it pushes it backwards allowing a little more time to Eclipse.  I could see this working in either one of two ways and it all depends on damage output.  Either it will be cast during an Eclipse to push it backwards and get you more Eclipse time or it can be used after you stop moving to regain some of the Eclipse time you lost.   

Lesson 5 - Our mana pools are gonna be huge post patch.  Currently in the PTR with my moonkin gear, I have over 30k mana unbuffed.  This is only gonna get bigger leveling up in Cataclysm.  Of course, my HP is also above 30k as well. 

Lesson 6 - I like the new Glyph system.  Assuming you can find someone to make all the glyphs.  As it happens to be, I only have my current glyphs and the new glyphs. 

Lesson 7 - Treants and Starfall are still not affected by Eclipses.  I was hoping they would be, but my personal damage output does not show it is true.  What will be more than likely true is you will want to cast Treants while moving towards the Lunar Eclipse but outside of the Solar Eclipse to push it further towards the Lunar Eclipse and you will want to cast Starfall while moving towards the Solar Eclipse but not during the Lunar Eclipse to push it further towards the Solar Eclipse.  Of course, it may just end up like now where you just cast them on cooldown outside of an Eclipse.   

Lesson 8 - If you are currently not on the PTR, good luck.  The Launcher started weirding out on me when the Background Downloader for the Live Client started downloading the patch.  If anybody can help tell me where I can download the rest of it, maybe like on FileFront or something so I can run it better in the PTR.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How To Level A Druid - Resto vs Balance vs Feral

I received some interesting questions via my Twitter feed lately about what is the best way to level a druid.  Honestly, it is an interesting decision, even more so with Cataclysm coming out and getting class defining abilities at level 10.  Let me go through each of the specs and give the pros and cons of leveling that way.

Restoration - The advantages of leveling restoration is that  you get pretty quick queue times in LFD.  The disadvantage is that you really can't do much else.  You may be able to kill some mobs for quest with some balance spells, but they will be nowhere near as effective.  Unless you really want to level as a healer as a challange, I would probably avoid this one.

Balance - I love raiding as a balance druid.  Leveling is a bit more difficult, at least until Cataclysm.  You don't get Moonkin Form until you are deep in the Balance tree.  You don't get Eclipse until you are deep in the Balance tree.  You don't get Starfall until the very end of the Balance tree.  In Cataclysm, this will change.  The advantage is once you get all of these things, you can start to kill stuff quickly.   But that is not until level 60.  Nothing better than Starfall, Barkskin, and Hurricane a pack of mobs.  Of course, you also have downtime regaining mana, even with Innervate.  Also, using LFD may mean some wait time, especially before you get duel spec at level 40.

Feral - My raiding love will always be Balance, but my leveling love is Feral.  Why is that?  First, there is very little downtime.  If you are questing, you go cat form and like a rogue, you can kill stuff before it even turns around.  If I am using LFD, it is instant tank queues.  It is by far the fastest leveling spec definitely before level 60 and more than likely after level 60.  And in Cataclysm, it will still be the fastest way to level since everybody will want to be in LFD to see the new content.  Second, you have the forms from level 20 on.  You can start tanking at level 10 as a bear and you can start DPSing as a cat at level 20.  Third, you can change their color by going to the hair salon.  I love my white polar bear.  Finally, people love bear tanks.  Swipe spam plus glyphed Maul means most DPS can burst out AoE immediately.  The only tank I have seen it similar with is paladin. 

So what does this all mean.  Here are my recommendations.  Pre-level 60, no question, it is Feral all the way. (At least until Cataclysm).  After level 60 and you can pick up Starfall, you can Feral or Balance, but I still prefer Feral in my opinion for speed.  Resto is for the people who want a challenge while leveling.  Not necessarily the fastest, but still okay.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moonkin Gearing Decisions - A Case Study

Being a pharmacist, I loved it in school when they would give us a case study, or a question wrapped up in a situation and we had to determine the best answer.  I actually had a great one happen to myself last night while we were raiding.  Hopefully, you will enjoy this.

Situation:  We just downed Valethria Dreamwalker on 25 man ICC HM and Frostbinder's Shredded Cape drops.  Here are the major important stats for this cloak.

Intellect: + 78
A Yellow Gem Slot (With +5 SP bonus)
Critical Strike Rating Improved by 68
Haste Rating Improved by 60
Spellpower Increased by 100

A few weeks ago in 25 man Ruby Sanctum regular, I got the Cloak of Burning Dusk.  Here are the important stats for this cloak:

Intellect: +73
A Red Gem Slot (With +5 SP bonus)
Critical Strike Rating Improved by 56
Haste Rating Improved by 64
Spellpower Increased by 104

Here are my current stats:

Intellect:  1498
Critical Strike Rating: 968
Haste Rating: 1035
Hit Capped
264 Idol

Quiz Time  

Question 1: My guild runs a loot council where you can specify if you want a drop for your main spec and it is a major upgrade (Main), whether it is a side grade but you are still interested (Pass), or whether it is an offspec item (Off).  You can also say nothing and just pass on this item.  What would be the correct action in this case for my moonkin spec (My offspec is tank so he would never use it)?

Question 2: Knowing the new info about Cataclysm, it is unlikely that we will actually complete hardmode Ruby Sanctum.  Does this change your answer?

Pencils Down.  You get to grade  your own paper so you will make a 100% anyway, but lets go through what my decision was in the moment.

Question 1:  I said nothing although I would have accepted Pass as an answer.  Saying nothing is the ideal answer though.  Looking at my stats, I am hit capped, soft haste capped above 408, lunar crit capped at 968 plus the 264 idol.  Although the 277 cloak is a higher iLevel, trading it out would mean an increase in my critical strike rating, which is not really needed, and a decrease in my haste, which is really not needed.  In addition, the 271 cloak from Ruby Sanctum is better itemized with the red gem slot because regardless of the cape, since it is only +5 spellpower.

Question 2:  I would argue that this cape is still better even if we never do hardmode Ruby Sanctum.  I mean, the hardmode version of this cape is best in slot for pretty much any caster, but I'm thinking in my circumstance that the regular version is better than the ICC HM cape.  This means that this cape is likely the one I use until I replace it at level 83.

Going back to several blog post I have made in the past, I have talked about gemming within the caps.  When you are upgrading your gear, it is important to look at your caps as well.  When you are above the Lunar Crit Cap, haste becomes slightly more important than critical strike rating.  This is the reason for gemming with spellpower  plus haste gems versus spellpower plus critical strike gems when you are above the Lunar Crit Cap.  If I was not above the Lunar Crit Cap, my decision would be to go with the 277 iLevel cloak to get more critical strike rating.  However, since I am, I know it is more of a sidegrade and is arguably a downgrade.

Looking at the gear list I get from Gray Matter, whose blog is listed on the side, she mentioned the HM Dreamwalker cape is higher than the 271 RS cape.  However, that is for a specific situation.  In my situation, where I value haste over critical strike rating, I chose the 271 cape.  This is why gear list are guides.  You still need to know your caps and what you are going towards when choosing your best gear.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Site Update and Suggestions for Moonkin Videos

I'm sure if you are a regular visitor to my blog, you probably have noticed a couple of small changes.

First off, this blog is now listed on the Twisted Nether Wiki.  Now, since it is a wiki, anybody can edit the info.  Unlike most people, I'm gonna encourage you to go and update my wiki for me.  I started off but I would love to see what you could come up with.

The second thing is I have moved all of my alts to the Reds Alts section.  This is where you will find the Armory links for all of my alt characters so you can follow them and follow their progress to where they will eventually be level 85.

The final thing is the the thing that I would love to hear the community feedback on.  Beside the WoW Screenshots is the WoW Videos.  I have got the setup to start recording video in WoW but I would love to hear feedback as to what you would like to see.  Would you like to see starter WoW videos on basics of a raiding moonkin?  Would you like to see raids from a moonkin perspective?  Any help from the community would be greatly appreciated.

Also,  you noticed that the Twitter Roundup is gone.  The main reason it is gone is because there is someone out there who is doing a much better job of it than me and I would encourage you to go check them out.  It is Psynister's Notebook and he has a list of pretty much everybody who has a Twitter about WoW.  I would encourage you to go check it out.

Final thing. I tried to get on the PTRs last night but they are crowded to say the least.  I will try to get on the PTRs today so that I can give you some updates from 4.0.1.  Stay tuned because the countdown to Cataclysm is on. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Easter Eggs in WoW: When You Find One That Seems To Be Just For You

Let me introduce you to my new favorite NPC:

His name is Toby Zeigear and he is from Operation Gnomergan.  I missed him when doing this the first time, but when I went back on my gnome, I saw him.  I know other people may have caught on to it, but a lot of people probably missed it.  When I mentioned it in guild, nobody said a word making me think they have not watched The West Wing.  Let me show you his TV show counterpart:

Toby Zeiglar from The West Wing (They even made him look a little like him).  He was one of the Presidential speechwriters for President Bartlett on the show.  I loved The West Wing, so finding this Easter Egg just made me so happy.  At the time, it seemed like it was one for people who loved the show.  Doing a Google search, other people know about.  However, when I heard people around me talking about it, they were talking about the speeches from movies or the ending of the quest chain.  At the time I found it, it seemed like it was in there just for me.

So have you found any Easter Eggs in WoW that seems like you were the only person to get it at the time.  What are some of your favorite ones? 

Also, MMO-Champion is starting to report some stuff about timelines so if you are competing in the "Christmas in July" contest, get ready.  We are about to get a lot of info.  If not this week, Blizzcon is coming around the corner.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Operation Gnomergan: How It Should Have Been Handled

Last night, I stayed up past our raid time to finish Operation Gnomergan.  My impression of it was kind of nonchalant.  Think about the epic quest lines that have occurred in Wrath of the Lich King.  Wrathgate.  The ICC 5 Mans.  The trolls and Drak'Tharon Keep/Gundrak.  Even the Black Knight quest line was better in my opinion than Operation Gnomergan and that was mostly making fun of Monty Python.  Yes, it did have its funny moments like the speeches from Bravehart and Independence Day, but the payoff does not equal what I went through.  Especially considering it is going to be an endless loop until Cataclysm.  And what did I get for my effort.  Some gold, a novelty item that turns me into a gnome, (I'm wondering what it will do for my gnome mage) and a cloak.

So looking back, could it have been handled differently?  Maybe.  Here are some of my thoughts on how it could have been handled.

1) Level 80 Heroic 5 man Dungeon - Wouldn't it have been much better to do all the lead up to open up the heroic 5 man dungeon version of the event.  I don't even care if it drops higher than ICC 5 man gear, but it would have seemed a lot more epic.  Plus, it would be like the ICC 5 mans where you would have the High Tinkerer with you instead of Jania. 

2) Phased Event - Ok, so your first foray into Gnomergan left it to where you were exploded out of the area and back to Ironforge.  Fine.  Don't end the quest line there.  Make it to where you have to figure out what you need to take care of the bomb.  There can even be multiple stops along the way, but don't just stop it until most of your goal is succeeded.  I felt like at the end I did all of that for nothing except some cheap laughs and a little gold.

3) Make More Tie Ins With Cataclysm - Imagine the reason that the gnomes did not get further is because of a massive earthquake that backed them up to the surface instead of a bomb going off.  It would have seemed better if there was more of a tie in to what is going to happen.  Even Blizzard said this is part of the Cataclysm world event.  It should feel like it.

4) Make Rewards More Valuable - If I got more than a novelty item, I would have said ok.  Maybe some Frost badges (not that I need them on my main) or an epic shirt even with no stats.  Or even a pet or a title would have made it worth it.  It just has to seem that the reward is worth the time I invested in it. 

I have not done the troll event so it might be better, but as of right now, I was sorely disappointed with Operation Gnomergan.  I'm really  hoping Blizzard comes out and says this is only part 1.  I really am hoping.

Also, I am going to be on Leet Sauced tonight, which is a new podcast that is being started by some guys in my guild.  I would encourage you to check them out when the episodes start coming out. I will add the site to my links soon.  Also, any other podcasters out there, I'm open for coming on your show as well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WoW As A Scapegoat

We all see graphics like this and get a LOL out of them.

How funny is that?  LOL.  People who play WoW can't have normal relationships, friendships, etc.  Graphics like this are done by one of two people.  Either people who don't play WoW and want to insult those who do or someone who plays WoW and actually believes it. 

To the people who don't play WoW, sorry, but you are jerks to think that all WoW players are in a certain stereotype.  Maybe you don't like high fantasy and prefer FPSs  (P.S.  We will get to you in a second.) but it is no reason to demean millions of gamers.  People who love FF7 as the "greatest game of all time" look down on WoW players.  I could never understand jerk's mentality, not that I would try to. 

To the people who do play WoW and believe this is true.  STOP.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  If you want a girlfriend, get a girlfriend.  If you want lots of friends, get friends.  Find something you like to do and do it.   When I was ready to have a serious relationship, I signed up for eHarmony.  I signed up and now found a girl that I'm deeply in love with and she is deeply in love with me.  And guess what, I still play WoW.  And, yes, she knows I play WoW although she does not play herself.  Yes, you may not find a girl for you in a bar. (And honestly, would you really want to?)  That is why I never went to them.  But there are so many other things you can do.  Don't make yourself believe that just because you play WoW, you can never have normal relationships, friendships, hobbies, etc.  You can easily do that.  But don't use WoW as a scapegoat for your shyness, lack of motivation, or lack of self esteem. 

Let me give you a better example.  The days after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came out, there were over 2 million people playing on Xbox Live at its highest point by Microsoft's estimates.  I'm sure that after Cataclysm launches, the highest will probably be about 2 - 6 million playing at one time.  Would anybody make the same jokes about Modern Warfare players as they do about WoW players.  Absolutely not.  And even if they did, do you think MW2 players would stand for it.  No, they would defend themselves.  And you had MW2 players taking days off of work after it came out to play the game as well.  Just like WoW players.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Obsessions are trouble.  If you feel you are obsessed with WoW and cannot do anything but WoW, get help.  Obsessions are typically a form of mental illness.  Obsessions do take away from having normal friends and relationships.  And that can be regardless of the obsession, whether alcohol, drugs, or WoW.  If you are obsessed with WoW, you may honestly need help to overcome that.  But in that case, WoW is not the problem, it is the obsession.  And some people have obsessive personalities so even if they weren't addicted to WoW, they would be addicted to something else.

In the end, WoW is a game.  A fun game that has many areas of enjoyment.  However, WoW does not equal a lack of social life unless you make yourself believe that.           

Friday, September 3, 2010

7 Habits of Highly Effective Raiders

In my time as what I would consider a hardcore raider (albeit 9 hours a week), I have picked up some things that differentiate the people who are effective raiders and the people who want to make everybody pull their hair out.  I wanted to take today to point out those things.  These things are pretty  much regardless of what raiding tier or expansion we are in but this will be more focused on guild raids and not PUGs.

1) Prepare - There is no excuse for not coming prepared to a raid.  You should have flask to last the entire time allotted.  You should have reagents for buffs.  You should have your gear gemmed and enchanted with the best possible enchants/gems for you.  You should have a basic understanding of fight mechanics and any proper addons necessary.

2) Readiness - When you first come into a raiding guild, you may not be pulled in for every fight especially depending on where your gear is.  You may come in for farming fights and then be put on the bench for progression fights.  One of the best ways to show you are willing to do what it takes is to step up, be in Vent, and be ready when they say they need you.

3) Optimize - This goes for a few different things.  One, your gaming setup should be to the point where you are not constantly disconnecting during 10 or 25 man raiding, depending on what you are doing.  You may not be able to run your settings on Ultra but can run them on Good.  That is fine.  It takes being in a raid setting to get those video settings right.  Optimization is also looking at what you have and build the best possible combination.  If you have a PvE and a PvP piece of gear that are both the same iLevel, you should be using PvE gear in most cases (tanks being the notable exception).  Programs like Rawr can help with this optimization.

4) Research - If you are coming in for a new fight, research the mechanics.  Seeing any video of a Professor Putricide kill will tell you that you should not get hit by Malleable Goo.  In addition, you should research and know your rotation, what to do in certain circumstances, and how you can be most effective.  Your gear may not make it where you will top the damage charts, but you should be competitive.

5) Learn - Learning can come from two ways - education or experience.  In this case, both are invaluable.  If you see someone who is the same class as you and is outperforming you, ask for help and learn from them.  The other way you can learn is from your mistakes.    Admit you were wrong to yourself or your raid if you need to and then correct it.  If you are not certain how to correct it, ask.  Every raider makes mistakes from time to time, but admitting it and learning from it is the only way you can get better.

6) Observe - Raid awareness is key to being an effective raider.  If you know that HM Sindy is about to pull in, you need to make sure your stacks of Unchained Magic clear before  you get pulled in so you don't explode the raid.  Or if you get unbound plague during phase 3 of HM Professor, you need to possibly back off and purposely die to get rid of the plague out of melee, where it could affect the tanks.  Observing what goes on around you is critical to being effective in raiding.

7) Communicate - End game raiding is not for the silent.  If you are about to do something like battle rezzing or Ankh, communicate.  If you are about to accept the battle rez, communicate.  If you are a healer and you get taken off during the valk phase of LK, communicate.  If you are a warlock with a portal up and you do not need us to DPS your valk, communicate.  The better the communication is, the more effective the raid team is. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Site Update - Thanks and Topic Suggestions

Short post today because I have to go to a football game this afternoon and watch my Cocks play. 

First off, I want to thank everybody who has been coming to this site.  In August, we surpassed July in page views, visitors, and absolutely unique visitors.  We have also passed over 5,000 page views since June 1st.  I could not have asked for more from the community and sincerely thank everybody who comes here on a daily basis.

Secondly, I know I have been talking about subjects that I have thought the community found interesting, but I would love to hear some feedback from you.  What topics do you like or would you like to know more about druids or raiding or anything related to WoW?  Any topic would be fair game.  I would love to hear some recommendations from you.

So again, thank you for the success of the site and I look forward to hearing some suggestions for topics you would like covered. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Managing the GCD - How Should It Affect Your DPS?

The GCD, more commonly known as the global cool down, can be important in figuring out what order to use abilities during DPS.  Yes, your Starfall may be off cooldown, but you just procced your Lunar Eclipse.  Which is more important in terms of your DPS?  This is not an easy question to answer and a lot of different factors can play a role in it.

The first and most important factor is how much DPS will you gain or lose out of doing one action in a GCD versus another.  Lets just look at some normal numbers at what occur.  These are close to what my numbers and depending on where  your gear is, it may or may not be close.

Ability Non Critical Strike Hit Critical Strike Hit Affected by Eclipse
Wrath 8k 15 - 20k Yes
Starfire 8k 22 - 30k Yes
Starfall 2k per Star 2k - 5k per Star No
Treants 800 per hit 1k - 1.5k per hit No
Insect Swarm DoT
Moonfire DoT

Now that we have a base idea of numbers, lets look at different conditions: 

The first condition is during no eclipse.  This means at that time, the critical strike rating is anywhere from 37 - 42% depending on cool downs, etc.  Also, remember, that Starfall is not affected by Eclipses.  This would mean the best time to use Starfall would be when no Eclipse is up and there are multiple mobs up.  Same thing for treants.  They are not affected by Eclipse bonuses.  Also, DoTs have the potential to proc an Eclipse, but are not affected by one.  In other words, it would appear that the best time to apply DoTs, Starfall, and use your treants are when there is no Eclipse.

The second condition is a Lunar Eclipse.  At this point, your critical strike for your Starfire goes up to 100% (assuming you are Lunar Crit Capped).  This means that Starfire would give you more DPS even though it is slightly higher than the GCD (My Starfire is currently at a 1.66 second cast time).  This means that even if DoTs fall off or Starfall comes off cooldown, it is better to keep casting Starfire because of the damage increase.

The same holds true for the third condition, a Solar Eclipse.  Although it is not possible to get 100% critical strikes for Wrath, you can get up to around 60% during an Eclipse.  Wrath is also equal to the GCD when you are above 408 haste so in two GCDs, you are likely to get around 35 - 40k worth of damage, which would be better than even a multiple mob Starfall.

It would appear that all your abilities are cut and dry when to use except for the fourth condition, which is moving.  If you are moving, you are not able to cast Wrath or Starfire, so you are only left with all of your other abilities.  If you have to move during a Lunar Eclipse, you can still use Starfall or treants while moving or refresh your DoTs to get DPS on the boss.  

The fifth condition is what I would call situation specific.  For example, during phase 3 of the LK fight, you have to DPS down the vile spirits.  Even if I don't have an Eclipse currently and the Starfall just came off cooldown, I will wait until right after the LK calls out the Vile Spirits so that we can DPS the vile spirits down easier by me casting Starfall.  Or even if I just procced an Eclipse, the Vile Spirits dying is more important than 100% critical strike on LK.  But I will be able to use the Lunar Eclipse on the Vile Spirits as well.  And if you want to break my heart, let me proc a Lunar Eclipse and get Unchained Magic at the same time during phase 3 of HM Sindy on 25 man.  I have all this power and can't use it due to the AoE effect of Unchained Magic.

There is also one exception to all of these rules and it is Faerie Fire.  Now, in 25 mans, where  you will probably have a feral druid and a shadow priest, you may worry about it a little less or not at all, but you need that 3% hit to be hit capped.  If nobody else can cast it, you have to.  And hitting the boss every time is more important than your 100% critical strike Starfires during a Lunar Eclipse because you will not hit the boss with full effect or may even miss the boss entirely.

So hopefully, this will help you in giving you a guide when to use abilities based on the GCD.  There are other factors that play a role, like trinkets, etc. but this should be a general guide for you.  And this holds true for all the classes.  Everything is based on how much DPS or healing or threat you can do per GCD and how to maximize it.