Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hold the Fort

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Something epic happened to Fuu and I last night. That's right, we were present when the Alliance on our server, Lothar, actually held the defenses of Wintergrasp. Amazing! Cue Trumpets!

Why is this such a big deal, you might ask. Well, it marks the first time I have been a part of a successful defense. I've been party to plenty of successful assaults, but the defending part appears to be much more difficult. It was pretty neat to hold out the whole time. I even contributed 60 HK's to the effort.

It took TONS of people playing their hearts out and ended up in a massive celebration inside the partially ruined fortress. Fun times.

So... It CAN be done.

Otherwise, Happy New Years from us. We'll be killing ourselves slowly with alcohol tonight :-).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Distractions

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The holidays never fail to provide me some sort of distraction from the normal routine. This year, as with most in recent memory, the distraction took the form of Best Buy gift cards. Thus, I am the proud owner of two new console games: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Resistance 2.

Why does this matter, you might ask. Well, it is a large part of the reason my posts are lacking. Its not like I'm taking a break, I still get on WoW almost nightly, but I just don't do a whole lot. Fuu and I are in a holding pattern. We've hit 80, but most of our guild hasn't. They're all pretty casual (read:slow), which brings me to the heart of the issue and the reason for the post.

Fuu and I are starting to wonder if we will actually be able to field a raid team this time around. There has been a lot of upheaval surrounding the whole expansion thing, and its left us with a very bare bones membership. We're hugely short on healers and tanks. Most of the remaining members don't have the time to put into the game either. It's quite sad because we love our guild and the people in it. It's not anyones fault, RL just gets in the way sometimes. However, I know that at some point something is going to have to happen.

Fuu and I want to raid, if we can find that outlet without having to leave our guild, that'd be great. We refuse to PuG through it. Epic pass on that noise. We do have other chances on our server through an alliance, but they seem to be having similar issues, so I'm not hopeful about it. I have friends on other servers. My cousin specifically was trying to recruit us over the break. They have need for our DPS and tanking skills respectively. It was a very attractive offer, but we're loathe to leave our friends. Server changing is such a big step, IMO. I suppose that all depends on the people surrounding you, but we've been very fortunate in that area.

So, like I said, we're in a holding pattern right now. We've got some short term goals that will keep us busy in game and give our guild the chance to catch up. I just hope they do. I felt the urge to write this because I have the distinct feeling that I'm not alone. There are probably a lot of you out there who are contemplating making some changes in the game you love. Perhaps it helps to read we face similar dilemmas. Perhaps not, but at least I tried. /pat.

If you're like me, then, and looking for some distractions out of game as well. Resistance 2 is a great game to pick up. There is some good co-op online group play. It's a lot more "real time" than an MMORPG as Fuu is finding out, but there are still very common roles: a tank, a damage dealer, and a healer. In the game these are the Soldier, Special-Ops, and Medic classes respectively. I've found it fun to bring the grouping mentality to a FPS type game. If such things interest you, it may be worth your time to check out. It may even help you to look at group roles in a different light and refresh your passion for a particular role, who knows?

I haven't done much with the Star Wars game yet, but I'm an old school Star Wars nerd, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Give me a lightsaber and watch me degenerate into a child... yeehaw!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Laziness

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Because I'm still being lazy for Christmas, I went around looking for good post material to link this morning. That's right, link, not write about, because I'm lazy. :-)

I came across a really good affliction warlocking guide over at the The Warlock's Den, which I suggest you take some time to read if you are interested. As with all guides, you will need to apply a bit of brain power and make decisions for yourself on how YOU want to play, but I felt this lays out the information nicely for you and minimizes the editorials.

As I am growing more comfortable with my rotation now, I may even give immolate a try. Probably not, but maybe.

A major point to note is the existence of the "Glyph of Siphon Life". I seem to use this spell quite a bit as it is instant cast and returns health. This is useful both in PvP and PvE. Thus, I could see where the Glyph improving the spell might be quite useful. The maths seem to support this. I will probably go out and pick this one up to replace my Glyph of Shadowbolt since mana is not really an issue. I'd rater have the DPS boost for a spell I use so much.

Oh, and if you visit the den soon after I post this, you may see the nice little dual spec Q&A with blizz on there. I didn't feel the need to repost it, but it is mildly interesting, though its nothing concrete yet.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Came!

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Just wanted to make sure y'all had stopped by Ironforge and picked up your gifts. It's probably worth it for any toon over 20, but that's up to you. That's about all Fuu and I have done over the past few days, so I don't really have any post material. We've been travelling and doing the family thing.

Yes, travel kills, especially when your gaming rig is decidedly not your laptop. Thus, its like playing blind for us. No addons, not fluff, just the game as Blizz intended it. Sometimes it is fun to get back to your roots. Other times... frustrating. Are we really that addon dependant? For questing, I'd say no. For instances and raid... most definitely. You're definitely limited by what you can do when you can't run all the addons you want. If this is your situation, we feel your pain over the holidays.

Oh, and if you live anywhere in the northern Indiana area... watch out for the ice... we feel your pain there too as well. :-(

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Can Haz PvP Skillz?

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Okay, so you caught me. I've taken a sudden liking to PvP. This isn't to say I'm running BGs or looking into doing arena, 'cause I'm not. PvE is still where it's at as far as this warlock is concerned. However, Wintergrasp is just so damned fun. I can't get around it.

I look forward to the countdown, run back to Dalaran, and SIEGE TIME! It provides a great little break between running quests or whatever else I'm doing and tends to keep me on task. One of my favorite things to do at the end of the night is go hit up a WG. It seems to be the perfect length of time to not feel too long or too short. Plus, did I mention its just fun?

You don't really get a whole lot out of it. Maybe some nice cash if you complete the dailies there and a cool bear mount if you save up your shards. But, the actual Wintergrasp marks of honor are worthless right now, and you can get the shards from instancing just as easily. And I still love to instance when we can get enough people on, so shard saving isn't really the goal.

No, there really is no excuse for my sudden liking of PvP other than enjoyment. And I've found its carrying over into other aspects of the game for me. Now that I've gotten my feet wet with a little PvP action in WG, I find myself more likely to flag out in the world just for grins. When I see that annoying message pop up in the local defense channel about being attacked, I come running to see if I can help. It's fun. You got some daily quests that'll permanently flag me PvP? Bring it on! Horde heads are gonna roll!

I may even be somewhat decent at it (probably not). Yesterday, someone thought they were being cute by attacking a lower level area in Northrend (Amberpine Lodge) and all the lowbie alliance were just standing around watching him. Unfortunately for this individual, the angel of death (me) swooped in on his newly acquired epic mount and wtfpwned his ass. In this persons defence, I'm sure they never saw me falling from the sky on top of them while hitting deathcoil, dotting him, then fearing him to death. There was really no recourse for this person. They may have trinketed out of the fear, but I had another coming in on its heals, as I've learned to do. Dots were already up and ticking. I had had the element of surprise.

He died, I /spit, mounted, and left. I'm sure the lowbies were probably sitting there like wtf just happened. At the very least, I had a good laugh and really enjoyed myself doing something completely unproductive. I did not camp, this wasn't a greifing thing. I just am not letting you attack my cities without an attempted response.

And I got to thinking. Wow, maybe I've picked up a thing or two regarding PvP by all this WG nonsense. And maybe these things have made me understand my class a bit better. And now I know why warlocks hate Paladins who bubble and clear all their hastily applied dots before three wacking the slow clothie (I wish we had blink).

In short, PvP has been a valuable learning experience for me. Perhaps it could be for you. This isn't to say I'm some god at PvP, because I'll get wtfpwned just as much as the next guy, it just can add a dimension of fun knowing that, even as a clothie, you can take care of yourself againts other players.

However, if you're going to do some PvP, keep these things in mind:
  1. You're going to die, a lot.
  2. You're going to feel like a complete noob sometimes.
  3. You're going to feel godly sometimes, don't let it go to your head and refer to #2.
  4. You may not feel productive if you're used to just PvE. But is it FUN?
  5. Ever play rock, paper, scissors? That's kinda what PvP is. If you're throwing paper and someone is throwing scissors, you're going to get cut up every time. Try throwing rock(s).
  6. A good PvP fight may be decided in the first few seconds, pay attention to what you did/didn't do, and maybe you'll learn something. See above rock, paper, scissor analogy.
  7. Don't be a PITA in a BG. You're supposed to be working as a team, keep that in mind. If you're off gathering while I'm protecting the base, I'm gonna be pissed at you.
  8. It is perfectly acceptable to use your environment. That's what it's there for. We're not the redcoats marching at each other with drums and hoping the first bullet doesn't hit us in the front lines. Hide behind that wall after throwing out a dot FTW.
  9. Fear, Fear, Fear. As a warlock, you're gonna die if you don't make them pull out their hair in frustration and throw their keyboard against a wall first.
  10. Dot, Dot, Dot. Instant dots are the best. Jump out, throw a CoA, Corr, SL and jump back into hiding. Oooh that pisses 'em off. Just be ready to fear when the come around the corner looking for you.
  11. Retreat is always a valid strategy, just don't leave everyone else hanging, coordinate that shit.
  12. Winning against your opponent feels good. Revel in that.
That's about it, just some thoughts I've had recently that I wanted to share in case some of you were thinking of dabbling in PvP. It CAN be done just for fun and on occasion. AND you might get something out of it without grinding for gear or rep. It's not a complete waste to go, have fun, and learn how to play your class. I can bet that if shit hits the fan in your next heroic instance and you can fear, kite, dot, and run a single mob to death, people might think you're the coolest thing since sliced bread. Maybe not, but at least you gave yourself a shot at living, right?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

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Sensing a lack of posting material due in part to the approaching holiday, but also in part to having spent some quality time with my Death Knight lately, I headed over to The Warlock's Den for some early Sunday inspiration as I often do. A casual inspection might lead one to this little tidbit regarding some of the new stuff that is currently on the test realm:

Glyph
  • Glyph of Felguard - Increases the Felguard's total attack power by 20%. (Up from 10%)
  • Glyph of Felhunter - When your felhunter uses Devour Magic, you will also be healed for that amount. (Old - Increases the critical strike chance of your Felhunter's Shadow Bite ability by 6%.)
Also, a message from Ghostcrawler:
Look, I know you’re impatient. I would be too. It’s totally understandable. We do have changes in store for warlocks. Changing shards is one of them, of which the new summoning mechanic is but a very early first step.

Woot, new Glyphs. Are those Major or Minor? I'm happy with my Majors, so I'm hoping minors. Those might be too... useful for the trend our minors have been setting, though. Finally, GC is asking us to again be patient. I'm actually kind of discouraged from instancing because I feel completely out-DPS'ed. Perhaps I'm just not as good as I thought I was, and I'm running with some good people, but I remember I used to be able to hold my own. I'm not gonna sit here and QQ because I still love my class and spec, so its not like I won't make the best of it. I just am having a nostalgic moment here...

Anyways, that's just the quick update. I've also got the DK up to 62 now and am having a whole lot of fun playing it. Running with 5 DK's through ramparts was just... OP. No healer, five DKs, and destruction. Horrible organization and mechanics. No plan. Yeah, we Death Knoobed it. It was fun, but I think I'll fare much better in a raid environment, as I schooled DPS when we were organized, but when people just started pulling all willy-nilly-like, I spent more time trying to keep people alive and couldn't focus. Such is life as a DK I guess. Recount told me my DoT uptime was consistently the best though... warlock-DK FTW.

Finally, thanks goes out to Abigore over at fear.win and his guild for a warm welcome of two wandering vagabond Tauren druids. You may have heard about the server issues that Blizz blamed on Comcast, but I can't explain why it only seemed to affect us on our main server, and not Sisters of Elune. I'm not too mad though, because we had a wonderful time meeting some new people, and may try to stop by to dabble in the RP a little bit from time to time. Though I think we all discussed how much beer we were drinking Friday night and didn't do a whole lot of IC-type interaction. Check out his guide for the translation there :-).

There was a somewhat humorous point of the night where Fuu and I were grazing in the cow starting area and a much higher level came up to us and asked if we needed assistance in a very IC manner. Being new, Fuu and I looked at each other and shrugged. She asked if she should moo. I decided I'd have a go and responded in kind, bowing at the end (I'm a fan of bowing even when not on the RP server). It was short and easy, not awkward as one might think, and definitely kind of fun.

I guess that is my little plug for "don't diss it 'till you've tried it" or some such. Mostly, I think if you enjoy the game, it's good to see different perspectives, especially if you're a leader in your guild. More perspectives can only help you understand your players better, even if none of them are RP'ers. If you only ever did one thing, how boring would that be?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tagged, Portals, and Snowmen

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In a show of solidarity with the blogging community at large, I suppose I must continue this game of tag.

Abigore over at fear.win was gracious enough to include me in this game of cyber-tag. Therefore, as per the rules of engagement, I must find my first commenter and tag 5 others. This may be rather difficult (not the first commenter part as I only have to go back to October), as we're on about the third day of this and I'm pretty sure there are "no tagbacks" as we used to say in the schoolyard.

Be that as it may, my first commenter happened to be the lovely Saresa over at Destructive Reach. Go there and see... gasp! She doesn't appear to have been "tagged" yet. Well then, we'll have to fix that, lets see who else I read regularly that hasn't been tagged in hopes that maybe they'll see my tag...

Holla if you're in my five:
Saresa @ Destructive Reach.
Grumble N Autumn @ the blog of the same name.
Psychonia @ My Life As A Cartoon.
Skeleton Jack over at his blog.
Tigerfeet @ Secret Agent Cat.

Good luck finding your tag at my little watering hole :-). I enjoy all of those blogs though, so in any case the linkage is good stuff. I was introduced to blogging by a druid so I have a soft spot in my heart for that community, even though they decidedly do NOT kill things slowly. The DK shout out is more understandable. And yay for blogging warlocks. We seem to be the few, the proud.... the sinister?

In other news, I found yet another use for the portal spell in my quest to justify its existence. So if for some reason you wanted to try and solo (then later duo with your pally) regular Shattered Halls AND you don't have the key, there is an old warlock trick you can do. Namely, you use that clever emo fire spell that shoot waves of heat out from you and kills you at the same time. Then ghost through the gate to raise on the other side. It would be a pain if we had to do this every time, so leave your portal there and then, Viola!, instant access. You can come and go as you please for the duration of the spell. It's a stretch, I know, but at least I felt clever.

And finally, if you haven't been a snowman yet, I suggest you try it on for size:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's a Long Way To The Top

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I promised some vertigo inspiring photographs, so today I will fulfill that obligation.

The first comes with a back story besides just being cool looking. If you are paying any attention at all to the holiday quests, you may have noticed that one requires you to "Bomb Them Again". To unlock this daily quest in Blade's Edge Mountain requires a rather lengthy chain of quests which finds you becoming king of the ogres among other things. As a fresh new 80, these old 70 quests are child's play.

EXCEPT... at one stage you need 5 people to summon one of the elite boss-types that you have to face. I though Blizz was doing away with all these "require ## to summon" in old content? You'd think they'd revisit this quest specifically for those of us who didn't do it prior to the holiday quests. I mean, not everyone got the attunement with the skyguard, etc.

Nope, still need 5 people, even though two 80's can easily smoke this guy. But wait, maybe we can get by with 4? To give you an idea of the puzzle, here's the arial view:

The idea is that someone stands in each of the swirling circles, forming a pentagram, and an evil ogre is summoned for the killing. We were having trouble finding 5 people who wanted to travel out to BE for some stupid old chain quest, so we eventually were able to round up only 4. That's okay, we've read it can be done with for on WoWHead FTW. Lets give it a try.

That's when Fuu had a brilliant idea: "Hey, don't you have that new portal-spell thingy and can zip real quick-like betwixt two circles?" OH YEAH!
/facepalm

/cast portal
Everyone gets in position... and then: ZAP ----> Portal...

Did it work? ...NO!
W... T... F.... I'll just run back to the other one and try again.

/spawn
Oh, NOW he shows up.
/pwn ogre

So it CAN be done with 4, but apparently your portal thingy won't help... Just run between the two on a mount. In any case, Fuu and I were able to finish the rest of the chain after that with no problems and greatly enjoyed the bombing run on reindeer. Just try not to get knocked off by the cannons. Evasive flying FTW.

The other two pictures don't have nearly as exciting of a story, but see if you can figure out where they are located, shouldn't be too hard.


#1

#2

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Holidays

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I'm doing the requisite "Happy Holidays" post today. The reason I felt so inspired today (as opposed to next week) is that last night Fuu took me on a whirlwind trip to help her get the Merry Maker title, and I got a pair of good pictures. The one I'm particularly fond of being located just to your left. Stereotypical reindeer with gnome crossing the moon...check. Even so, I don't particularly care for the title: I'm a warlock. However, there are cash and prizes involved, so I'm game. Killing stuff? Added bonus, though it seems sacrilege to waste precious game time on something as silly as holiday cheer.

Blizz puts a lot of thought into their seasonal stuff, though. Even though people may complain about the sameness from year to year, etc, I have to disagree with that angle of QQ. I have played a fair number of other MMO's, and not one of them were nearly as seasonally friendly as WoW. Sure, some of them had festivals and what-nots, but seasonal excitement is yet another area where Blizzard sets the bar for polish and inventiveness, though there is room for improvement. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, but don't look a gift-mount in the mouth, as they say.

So, with that in mind, I'll partake in some limited time, seasonal events. Why not? I can always go back to the "real" game later. Plus, like I said... cash and prizes.

As such, I grabbed a few clever screenies for your viewing pleasure. If I were more ambitious, I'd print this out and insert them with my Christmas cards IRL to freak out the fam at how nerdy I've become. Let's just keep that betwixt you and I though, mmmkay?

This is Fuubaar and Ful (and our buddy Opti), wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday season:

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zoom Zoom Zoom

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Nothing nifty to post today. I have a couple great vertigo inspired screenies for tomorrow, but I forgot to load them up to the storage in the sky today. Thus, no access at work. Or, as my old German teacher used to say:

"Es ist verboten in der Schule!"

...only sub "Schule" with "Arbeiten" and you have it. If you know any German that is. I thought that always sounded really intimidating and final; German is not the language of love. Of course, my teacher was a very short, old, white-haired, grandmotherly type. She was extremely nice, cute as a button, but grew up as an orphan during WW2. As you can imagine, she had some spunk! Awesome lady. Used to tell us stories in German about getting in fights in the school yard. Imagine Mrs. Claus fist fighting in her youth and you about have it.

That all has nothing to do with WoW though, other than maybe my German roots are what draw me to my appreciation for the castles in WoW. Icecrown is quite impressive, hence the new picture of my character even though I don't really like the hood. It is cold out there though.

Also, Fuu and I picked up our epic flight skill/mounts last night. Wow, they're fast. For someone who was used to doing every quest on the slow old bird... ZOOOOM!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled dailies in Icecrown to try and afford a cooler looking mount. Maybe even a magic carpet!

I picked up glyphs too: Major Glyph of UA and Minor Glyph of Souls to round out my glyphs at 80. The majors are pretty useful with Corr, SB, and UA all adding to some better DPS. The minors are pretty useless with Enslave Demon, Souls, and Unending Breath. They're situationally nice, but that's about it. I hope we see some cooler ones eventually.

Oh yeah, and if you're doing the holiday stuff, perhaps the easiest hat drop to get is from the Grand Magus in Nexus. We ran through there with some 80's and no healer like $#*! through a goose. Good times. Sucks she only drops one that you need to roll on though...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Flock of Seagulls and Portal Usage

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No, I'm not talking about the band or the haircut. This is about a rather humorous glitch. If you've been questing in Icecrown, you may have noticed this. I will keep with my policy to try and not spoil story lines in my explanation, so don't worry about that.

So if you go over to the far left side of your map (NW of Icecrown Citadel), you may find a nifty perch on the face of a cliff that contains some Knights of the Ebon Blade who will offer you some questing opportunities. One of these quests requires that you fly to the nearby Scarlet Onslaught enclave and steal a gryphon from one of their air patrol.

Completing this task will give you a quest item in your inventory that lets you summon a fast gryphon. This alone is pretty fun, especially for those of us without an epic flying mount. However, that is not the fun part of this quest.

In stealing our gryphons, Fuu and I happened to be accosted by other members of the onslaught that did not agree with our methodology of acquisition. So we fought them. We could have run away, but where's the fun in that? While we dispatched of these heathen, our recently summoned quest-bird floated faithfully nearby.

We thought, let's just hop back on, and tried to no avail. Well... lets try using that quest item again since it's still in our bags. Wahoo!
/mounted.
But wait... the other bird is still there? No we have two birds. I wonder...

/dismount
/use quest item
/spawn new bird... making that three birds
Oh boy! A glitch! Do they follow us?

/fly away
birds = /follow

Yippee! Look at my flock!

So we each spawned about 10 birds and flew around like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. It was pretty fun, so here are some pics so you can see what I'm talking about.


Squadron... Charge!

Oh... You only wanted one? Um...

You shouldn't be worried about the dead body, instead... SCUBA birds?! Swarm the Shark!

Needless to say, Fuu and I had a bit of fun with our flock of birds.
To make this post more worthwhile for the warlocks out there, I thought I'd also mention one very clever usage for that level 80 'lock portal spell. I can't take credit, rather it was a clever demo/destro lock that helped us out in a heroic last night that I noticed doing it, but I thought it was worth relating.

Basically, before every boss fight he'd set his portal somewhere in away from the action, but near enough to where he was fighting to be able to use it. This came in handy when the tank died (poor Fuu) and the boss ran at us. We were able to kite some of the slower ones around while keeping it insta-dotted and the portal was a key component of this method to give us space. It allowed us to save a couple of boss fights from being a wipe, even with all ranged DPS (no OT-types).

It may be good practice to do this "just in case" at the start of most fights, similar to making sure you have a soulstone up. Who knows, you just may save the day!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ding 80

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Short Sunday post: I finally hit 80! Go me. You get a lovely little package when you reach your 80th season, so I tried to get a picture of a firework on the left to celebrate.

The next goal involves saving up to 5k Gold so I can finally train my epic flying skill. This shouldn't be too hard now that all quests are giving me straight cash. We'll see how long it takes though.

The only other good thing about hitting 80 (besides being done levelling) is that you get the nifty warlock portal spell. I'm not exactly sure what use it is in PvE, but I already dueled a few people to give it a try in PvP and it is quite fun. It's very useful for giving yourself some breathing room against a melee class, perhaps letting you get an extra fear off or drain some life for a bit to keep you alive longer. I wish the range was a bit further on it though. PvE it'll be situational at best. I got a little shot of me testing it out in Stormwind there to the right. I like the color scheme.

I'm still planning to try and finish up Icecrown before I do anything. Our guild only has 4 80's a this time, but we have a couple more right on the cusp. This means guild heroics soon and easier rep grinding. I really like the whole tabard rep system and am looking forward to getting going on that.

Finally, I'll leave you with a little holiday-esque pic that I took while Fuu and I were being silly:

Santa is really grumpy today, Fuu, I don't think we can sit on his lap :-(.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pally Power: Remembering Your Roots

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Gear has always fascinated me since lvl 1. I still remember that first time I soul bound my pioneer green to Fuu. It paved the way for my hunger for more of these pretties. Once it touched my 12 slot bag, I was hooked. I found myself running up to a new questgiver just to see what joys they could offer me by just killing 10 of these or collecting 15 of those. Whoopie!

As the dings flew by, I became more and more infatuated with making sure that my greens were shiny and new until that one fateful moment: BLUE…. Oohhhh ahhhhhh.

My first blue, like many of yours, came from Deadmines (or Ragefire Chasm for you hordies out there). This was the moment that I was really excited about my class. Obviously at lvl 15, you don’t really quite understand what you are getting yourself into, but I was bright eyed and bushy tailed during my noobish age. I then persisted to rip through instance after instance for those breathtaking blues. 40’s, 50’s, 60’s swiftly streamed by in a mad blur. I was so eager to reach that key lvl of 70 that Fulguralis and I frightened our guild members with our speed.

The first time Generations took down Gruul, guild chat went into an uproar with excitement and cheering. I wanted so badly to partake in these events and feel epic.

At last, our “final” ding had occurred and we were met with, “When do you guys wanna run Kara?” I felt like Ful & I’s adventure had just begun within our guild.

I wanted to be as active as possible so that I could learn as much hands on tanking as I could. If you remember from my previous post, our guild did not have a raiding lvl pally tank that was active. The majority of the heroics and Kara’s that we ran consisted of our Affliction Lock, Holy Priest, me as my Prot, usually a druid tank (hurray a furry butt that I get to stare at), and some other uber DPS from the guild.

Obviously, specced as a prot, I was about as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop and most of the time I would just throw down a consecrate and auto attack. Since our druid tank was almost ready for Black Temple raiding, he was just there to teach me some extremely useful techniques that weren’t really class specific but were tank specific. These wonderful people were the biggest part of how I received my uber lootz and my appreciation for my class and spec.

Epic loot aka “The Purple Stuff” (not the stuff in the back of the refrigerator in a Sunny- D commercial) can make a man giddy. I was so nervous about making double sure that it was better than my questing blues and triple checking to loot the proper gear from the dead boss lying on the floor. I was actually shaking a little… I know, I know… NERD!

This grew a flame in my belly so deep that I couldn’t help but want to ask to run another instance, or join in on a raid. Once I got a few Karazhans under my belt, I started running 25-man raids with a friend of mine. All of my questing blues were long gone by then, and these runs where just to see how hard I could push myself to witness higher and higher endgame content.

When WotLK went live, people were finding it very hard to digest that the blood & sweat they put in to gearing up for ZA and the Sunwell was being replaced by questing greens. Shouldn’t this be one of those exciting moments that we had previously realized during our first greens? What’s so different now? Is something being ripped away from us? Is it the many hours of Kara runs for that single drop or was it many body runs that you had to do to get that final boss to hit the floor? Whatever your reasoning behind the replacement frustration, it's completely understandable but just think... at 80, we have a chance to experience all of the new content and replacing that hard to get gear from before with the new purples will be just as exciting if not more.

Now I know by now that the original shock has long worn off but do not forget all of those exciting moments of your first gorgeous greens, your brilliant blues, and your perfect purples.

Gear will come and go, but that moment of excitement will last you until you are senile.

Friday, December 12, 2008

News Galore!

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So with the PTR release notes, the blogging general public is going crazy trying to report all applicable changes to their respective classes. In that spirit, I'm going to try and really narrow my window down to the two main classes I'm interested in right now: Blood-spec Death Knights and Affliction-spec Warlocks. If you want more complete lists, there are plenty out there, but what I'm listing is what strikes me as significant. I'm also going to link the blogs where I first found these. As I've noted, at work most of the "official" sites are blocked for me, so I'm pilfering these from abroad. Feel free to check out each of these sites as they do a more complete job than me.

Also before I start, disclaimer time (yay!): These are PTR notes, they are subject to change! Find my original comments in italics, the rest has been pilfered and hopefully sufficiently noted source-wise. I'm not trying to be lazy here, I just don't see the need to redo what's been done.

Leading off, from
Death in a Tin Can we have some Blood DK news straight from the notes:

  • The healing of Blood Aura, Blood Presence and Death Pact has been doubled ~Wahoo! More healing is good!
  • Heart Strike – we overhauled this ability. It no longer has a haste debuff but will now be able to strike two targets like a cleave. It still hits for more than Blood Strike, but you can still use Blood Strike if e.g. you don’t want to break CC. ~This is one of the suspects to not go live, if it does though... yippee DPS boost!
  • Bloody Strikes – the bonus damage from Pestilence has been moved here to help Blood AE slightly. ~Buff = Goood
  • Pestilence — no longer has a 10 sec cooldown. ~Never had a problem with this, but I'll take it.
  • Raise Dead — now split into two spells: Raise Dead now raises a ghoul or pet ghoul (if talented). Raise Ally now raises a fallen party member (at no reagent cost). ~Hmm, okay... fair enough
  • Unholy Blight, Dancing Rune Weapon and Hungering Cold – cost reduced from 60 to 40 runic power. ~Cheaper is good I suppose, though you'd still probably want to wait for a full bar to maximize uptime of DRW at least.
  • Vampiric Blood — in addition to its current effects, also adds 20% health temporarily. ~Cool, kind of like a bubble.
  • Many death knight glyphs have been changed. In many cases the negative consequences were removed. ~Check local listings for this one... Removing negatives = positive?


On deck, from Deathknight.info:

Numerous people have mentioned the new Character recustomization, and DKI does a good job of reporting the pertinent FAQs, thus the post link. I, personally will not use the service as I'm very fond of each of my characters and a lot of thought went into making them the way I did. Changing their sex would really freak me out as I've grown to know each of their personalities as I've played them. Maybe weird and little bit too RP for my non-RP PvE server, but caring for your characters makes for a more rewarding game experience, IMO.

Also from DKI, another pasting from blue regarding Dual Specs:
The idea is to let you swap glyphs and action bars along with your talents.
It will be trivial to do in town.
You will also be able to do it out of towns, but not as trivially.
We hope to have this done for the next major content patch, but it’s a big feature and takes some time.
~Cool cool, this sounds like an interesting and potentially positive way to implement this.

In the hole, pilfered from over at fear.win:

  • As mentioned before, all player spells that cause a mob to become aggressive to you will now tag them. ~Yahoo! IC DoT tagging FTW!
  • Ritual of Summoning will now create a summon stone that party members can re-use for 5 minutes. ~Yay stones! Much more shard efficient!

And finally, completely unrelated to patch notes...

Autumn commented on my post yesterday as part of a Blog Azeroth shared topic, which led me to check out her site and I was quite impressed. Her and her hubby have a very interesting niche: random fun items! My Fuubaar absolutely adores all the holiday stuff, fun pets, and odd trinkets, so this was mostly for her. However, if that kind of thing is your bag, I recommend checking out Grumble and Autumn's Blog. They also have some pretty neat artwork.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Catfood

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In honor of dinging 79 last night and finishing "The Empire of Zul'Drak" Achievement, I'm sharing a series of screenies that depict the story line in the latter half of the zone:



Mmm. Catfood.

It's not that the zone is bad, far from it, the story line is quite interesting. You're just kind of at the whim of numerous "gods" doing whatever they think up. For once, there is no cameo by the Lich King here. It was kind of a nice change of pace, to get away from being taunted and "spared" by the hulking ice man. It's also interesting to see the effect of the scourge on other civilizations besides the few we've grown used to. Apparently we're not the only ones getting all messed up over his royal lichiness.

Fuu and I are moving over to Icecrown now for the final push to 80, which will be completed this weekend with any luck. I really really really want to get my epic flying mount, but I'm just scraping even in costs right now with leveling crafting and questing. I'll be happy again when quests just give a straight pay out.

Random Thoughts
  • Is the achievement for the dragon riding quest impossible or what? There seems to be no way I could do that in under two minutes.
  • Like I said, we're heading to Mordor next... I mean, Icecrown... right Icecrown.
  • Spend enough time in Zul'Drak and you will be sick of people clearing the Amphitheater of Anguish. Does he really have to yell every time someone wins?
  • Azjol Nerub is really short. Especially when you are over levelled. This also really shows a glaring difference between affliction warlock on trash and OP hunter on trash. He was hitting numbers like 4k DPS using AoE, I was struggling to break 1k. :-( I know, I know, incoming nerf... I'd rather they buffed me than nerfed them though.
  • Any of you think the Skybreaker in Icecrown resembles something from a Final Fantasy game? Being an old FFXI player, I kinda like it.
  • That rhino outside of Gundrak can really lay down a beating when he's pissed.
  • Fuu is ill but was working on another post, this one is more of a commentary about why she actually likes replacing gear, even though she's put in a lot of time to get it in the first place. I can see both sides, it is really hard for me to hit the "DE" button on some of my better epics when a greenie is taking its place :-/

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not To Say "I Told You So", But...

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I was reading Nibuca's post regarding haste over at the MC, and, as usual, she has done a wonderful job explaining the maths behind the game. It got me thinking, hey didn't I write an article about this same topic once upon a time? Yes, I did, well over a month ago.

Now, I'm not trying to say "I told you so" here, but Nibuca points out another very valid reason why haste is becoming the new hotness for Warlocks everywhere. For those of you counting, the reasons are:
  1. Stat stackings on Warlock Specific Gear - The old analysis from the Warlock's Den that I linked in my original article was looking at this. Apparently, Warlocks should get more than their fair share of haste on the items that are made specifically for us. This should pop a flag in your head.
  2. The new Spellstone now adds haste - When Blizz, reworked the way our stones function, they added a healthy dose of haste to our Spellstone. The flag should be fluttering a bit.
  3. One of our new deep affliction talents is Eradication - This talent was recently added as well and also deals in healthy haste bonusfor us. Is the flag waving yet? See a trend here?

Haste is cropping up more and more, especially for warlocks. You can draw your own conclusions, but here is how I'm valuing stats on gear at the current point in time: Hit (until cap) > Spell Power > Haste > Else. Honorable mention goes to Stam, because I will give stam some priority if I feel too squishy in raids. Spirit and Intellect are nothing to scoff at either, as they can give you SP and Crit respectively (which also indicates crit isn't all bad either). However, by the time I get done looking at those first three, I'm usually pretty confident whether the item is an upgrade or not.

If those stats don't make it clear, or I feel I need more balance, I will stray from that selection guideline, but that is why it is a "guideline" and not "the ultimate word from the creator".

Also, I haven't filled out Eradication yet; it will be the last thing I do with my talent points as I wanted to get other first. However, I DO believe it deserves the points now, despite my earlier doubts.

Nibuca's fine math proves the benefits here. Especially when you think not only of the basics like GCD and S-bolts, but start thinking about haste improving your channelled spells and AoE's as well. It's going to make everything faster, and faster means you can fit more in, and more spells means more DPS. Huzzah!

I left a comment to this effect over at the MC, but felt that it justified a post of its own. Thus, Viola, a post!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gundrak

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Last weekend, we went and ran Gundrak, making it the highest instance I've completed to date. To the left, you can see the sole picture I took of the encounter, but it really is another gorgeous instance.

If you don't know where Gundrak is, head to Zul'Drak and look for the huge temple with a giant rhino wreaking havok out front. Its pretty hard to miss.

The instance itself has two entrances; a front and a back. This will probably only be apparent if you die, because the graveyard is near the back entrance. Otherwise, the instance is laid out in a large circle, so starting from either door will end you up in the same place.

There are three bosses you must face before you unlock the way to the final boss. Each of those bosses are pretty much tank and spanks. The hardest one, imo, is the large golem looking guy (Drakkari Colossus), who will spawn a large "mojo" (elemental looking thingy) at two points in the fight. You just have to switch between the two targets, but there is an aggro drop, so you must take care as a DPS not to invite the wrath of the destroyer. We got squished once because of that... oops!

Otherwise this instance is a cakewalk. You'll face the final boss who switches between a human form and a rhino form (no aggro drop), but is otherwise a tank and spank himself. If you have a good tank and healer, this is easy mode for DPS. The suggested level is 76-78, and you should be more than fine anywhere in that range.

I didn't feel the need to go into detail because it really is that easy. Don't get me wrong, its a really fun instance, the fights just aren't so gimmicky as to warrant explanation. As long as your DPS is up to snuff and you play with basic tanking principles, there isn't much to read up on. Each boss has a talent to watch out for or heal through, but nothing that will blow your mind.

So, in an effort to blow your mind, check out EXTREME GEEKDOM at Typhoon Andrew's and puzzle out your code. You've probably seen other references to this, but I'm the only one who is giving it an all caps link. Oh, here, try to figure it out before you head over there:

M:HuWl78-Af, Alt:HuDK60-Bl S:Lothar-US-PvE, G:Generations, PvE+, Y:2008.2, D++C, Ori-BRD, TBC-SSC, WLK-Gun, L+, C:Pa+, RP, :-D, V0.1

Yeah, your mind was just blown by my geekiness.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Return to the Skies

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I can't complain with the variety of flight masters that Blizz has given us. While you're leveling, you get to ride in everything from a bomber to a red dragon.

Additionally, you can tell they really kept in mind that people love to fly, as there are a plethora of breathtaking scenes that can only be viewed from the air. Not to mention seeing a scourge mothership everywhere you look. Seriously, where is the ship yard they use to build all this things? How do they fly? Can they shoot a cool beam down like the ships in Independence Day, because they look like they should be able to.

Take Off Every Zigg!

In any case, it makes for some good random pictures.

Despite the quality of the commercial airlines, it was still a relief to hit 77 and return to the skies on my own mount. Sadly, I have not yet amassed enough gold to purchase the fast one, so it is the much slower, normal mount. However, it is still very nice to be able to fly wherever I want. For the most part, that is...

You see, apparently, there are some "no-fly" zones and Dalaran is one of these. Take care, or you will be ejected from your mount. The good part is that they saw fit to equip your private aircraft with a parachute. The bad part is that you can't control your descent in any way. As such, in my first attempt to get a picture of Dalaran, I, umm, overshot the city and ended up with this: a painstakingly slow trip to the ground.

Wide Right

Not exactly a Kodak moment. On my second try though, I was able to hover at the edges of the no-fly zone and think I got a pretty decent picture of the magical city of Dalaran.

Stay Out of the "No Zones"


What a wonderfully designed city. Not only does it look pretty, but its well laid out as well. Its not too difficult to find anything, and the shopping district is easy to get around in. Also, there are many banks just around the corners. Much easier to navigate than Shattrath, even though Shatt wasn't all that bad.

Fuubaar, of course, loves the pet store. I can't say I see the draw, but I guess that's because I'm used to ordering my pets around as slaves and not just having them there because "they're pretty". Besides, my puppy doesn't eat treats, he eats mobs. He also does not like water: they don't have water where he comes from.

The first thing Fuu did? Fed and watered her chicken. Then proclaimed it in gchat for all to see. If you're going to discuss what you do with your chicken in public, be prepared for the snarky remarks :-).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Phase Praise and Violet Hold Breifing

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Like I said, I'm pretty sure Alexstrasza can take care of herself. If you haven't done Wrathgate yet, don't worry, I'm not going to spoil it, but this picture was too good to pass up.

Remember Me? /nervous smile

It has been said that if you do no other quest chain in WoW, you should do this one, and I quite agree. Blizz has done a great job introducing the concept of "phasing" into this expansion. If you're not hip to the game design lingo, "phasing" is just when there exist separate "instances" of the same world area for the purpose of creating an epic, changing feel. If you've done the Death Knight starting quests, they use phasing here as well. The basic concept is that it lets the player experience changes based on their personal place in the story line without effecting others. It's basically just a "before" and "after" shot of the same place (with perhaps some stuff in between), where "before" contains only the people who haven't done the quest and "after" contains the people after the quest has been completed. The only downside to this is that there must be a concrete ending, so that everyone ends up at the same place. However, it's neat that it lets you feel like you're doing something truly epic and effecting the landscape of the world. I would love to see more of this concept introduced, even though it is difficult to implement.

Also, before you do the last part of the Wrathgate chain (which you start at Wintergarde Keep in Dragonblight by rescuing villagers), be sure to reset any damage meter you may have. You will get some ridiculous numbers through the last part of that quest due to the nature of the storyline. Trust me on this one :-).

Finally, in continuing with my dragon trend, we were able to run violet hold in the last couple of days among other instances. The advertised level for VH is 75-77 and there is a quest you can pick up outside the instance that will give you the key. This is a very fun dungeon located right in Dalaran that is similar to Black Morass in the Caverns of Time.

When you enter the instance, you will talk to one of the nearby guards to start the event. Once you begin, the clock starts and you will be taken all the way through the event. Basically, you're going to have portals spring up in the room and then have to kill the guys that come out. There are 18 portals, none of which are too difficult.

Interspersed with the 18 portals are two bosses randomly chosen from a selection of 6. We did the Core Hound and the Arakkoa. I won't detail all the fights as there are just too many and they're pretty basic. If you'd like to know specifics to watch out for, visit the WoWWiki entry for Violet Hold using my links on the right side, it's pretty good. Basically though, you should fare well with a tank and spank approach to all of these.

After you get through the portals, you'll end up facing a dragon from the Azure Dragonflight. This dragon does not appear to do tail swipe like every other dragon in the game, so don't worry about positioning too much. Just don't stand in front of her with the tank, as she does a conic AoE attack. She'll also cast a random blizzard on someone which they should move out of, and do an Arcane Grip attack. The grip will pull you in and wipe her aggro table, so have your tank be prepared to pick her up right away. Unlike Shade of Aran, there is no crazy explosion that follows this attack.

Get A Grip

This really is not a difficult fight, and if you just keep your heads throughout the instance, you'll end up with a dead dragon. Remember, at this time, if you die you cannot re-enter the instance, so don't body run. There is time in between some of the fights to pull off a quick rez though, so all is not lost. Blizz may change this at some point in the future, but that's the deal right now.

I have some more random pictures that I'll try and post tomorrow that are not Dragon related and I'll leave you with this little tidbit from the official WoW forums regarding pending changes to warlockery as we know it:

Ghostcrawler:
We have been talking about a couple of different approaches to warlock rotations. One is to try and make more of the dots last around the same duration so you aren't watching them quite so much. Another is just to lower the standard rotation from having so many dots. These are both things we are working on but it's too early to say what the changes will end up being.

So stay tuned! The winds of change are blowing!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dragon Day Dreams

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Because there are no vampires in this game, I had to find another outlet for my affections. Thus, I've settled on dragons. Prior to Wrath, dragons were only rarely involved with us puny humans. Wrath has changed this in a big way. You can't seem to go very far without running into a dragon, and I, for one, love it. I can't wait to be able to fly on one (once I hit 77 and get some rep). The daily at the temple in Dragonblight is just freakin' cool. Dogfighting on a dragon... Yes please.

This is Red 5, I'm Going In

I also have to say, many of the female dragons are scantily clad. Fuu would quietly call them skanks, but I figure if you're alternate form enables you to have wings and rip heads off, you can safely get away with being a little on the provocative side. It's not like you can't take care of yourself.

Alexstrasza Is Not Impressed, Human

I just love the dragons. You can't tell me you weren't a little sad when you had to kill Keristrasza in Nexus. That was a great quest line!

Though Fuu and I are 76, we're still only in Dragonblight. We're trying to get the loremaster achievement and figure we might as well hit the quests while we can still get some experience out of them. Plus, Wyrmrest Temple is just a pretty cool place. Very... spacious.

Hello? hello...hello...hello...


In any case, we're enjoying the quests and can't wait to pick up our flying mounts again. It was nice to use my pretty, flaming horse again, but I'm ready to take to the skies on a dragon!

Also, if you haven't done it, when you're 76ish, head on over to Zul'Drak and do the new "ring of blood" quests. This time you're in a crazy amphitheater and feel like Maximus in Gladiator. They even added crowd noise. Pretty cool fights and some good experience. Nothing that should trip you up as they're all pretty much basic tank and spanks. Also, the staff reward from there isn't too shabby.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

(Shadow)flame On!

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So I dinged 76 last night and spent the 100+ gold to train all my crap up. Then, I noticed I got a new spell: Shadowflame. Apparently I missed that I was getting a new spell at 76, because this surprised me. Maybe I'm just not as well read as I thought, but I don't believe there has been much said on this spell.

What the hell good is it? Especially for an affliction 'lock. It's an instant cast, conic spell with initial shadow damage and a fire damage DoT tacked on the end. If you took every warlock spell we have and mixed it in a giant cauldron, then dumped the contents out, I'm pretty sure you'd get this spell.

So, I ask again: What good is it? How am I supposed to work this one in? I have a few thoughts...
  1. Being that it is an instant cast direct damage spell, it could be useful in tagging mobs. The DoT isn't so useful here, but it doesn't hurt. The short range could be a problem here, but its better than other choices.
  2. AoE attacks. This would seem like an obvious use for it, but where would I throw it in and what makes it better than my previous two choices of SoC and RoF? I suppose an AoE DoT application is pretty cool. I could see doing this on trash before resorting to my heavier hitters. The problem here is getting close enough to use it. I like to sit back and watch the carnage, not run up in its business. Also, wouldn't direct initial damage be bad, as you want to let your tank build up some aggro? I guess for solo purposes this wouldn't be an issue.
  3. It looks cool. Yeah, the crazy head pops out and spits crazy colors at you... I'm not complaining about the looks, its a fun thing to do when you're evil. Heck, I'll run around SW and do it just to freak people out. Yahoo!
All those reasons are well and good, but does it justify a place on my action bar? I don't know, I've let it clickable for now. My complaint isn't at getting a cool new spell, its just that I don't see how it fits. Perhaps I'm missing something here, so please inform me if you know better. I suppose I could see how it works better for destruction people, as they love the fire. Fire and shadow mix to do special things for them. As an affliction lock though, I'm not so sure. I've tended to shy away from fire. I don't use Immolate. I've said it before. It just isn't worth the thought and time to cast, imo. It isn't a question of the math, it's just that it doesn't seem to add a lot to my rotation.

Which brings me back to this shadowflame. Is it just another of those wacky spells for those zany destro 'locks? If so, maybe I'll become more friendly with it when I get my dual speccing figured out. I'm still not sure how useful it would be to other 'locks as well (more than what they've already got that is), but whatever.

What is the point of this spell?! It is deliciously fun though...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Confetti Thoughts or DPS Status Update

3 comments
Today I have just a couple scattered thoughts I wanted to share.

First, has anyone else noticed that warlock scaling has seemed better as we level? I know this is to be expected, and I'm just somewhat relieved to actually see it. Lately, just questing around the world I've seen numbers as high as 1500DPS at level 75. This was on some of the longer fights, but I've also noticed things aren't dying when my tank breathes on them. Again, I know this was to be expected, it's just nice to start noticing it.

I've heard the warlock community in general bemoan the loss of our lock (pun intended) on the top DPS spots on raid damage meters. Kara in particular was rough when viewed pre- and post-patch. I mean, one day we're respectable on trash and smoking bosses, and the next everything is dying far too fast for us to make our presence felt. It's nice to see that we appear to be scaling properly, though we may have quite a bit of competition at the raid level for the top DPS honors. This is not a bad thing. Plus, it is still nice to hear other people being excited to "beat the warlock" in their respective groups. However, we do have a reputation to uphold, so it's imperative that we stay sharp!

My second thought follows sort of along the same lines. You may have read elsewhere that Blizz intends to, at some point, implement a "dual spec" feature. While details aren't exactly hammered in felsteel (are they ever?), the goal is to allow people to carry two specs without spending gold to swap between them. On one hand, this is great news. It'll let you try out specs and, as a warlock, maybe carry one burst-damage-for-trash type spec and one killing-em-slowly-for-bosses type spec. You may or may not be able to switch on-the-fly, but at least you'll have options. The downside to this for warlocks is that we are not a hybrid class. How much better, then, is this dual speccing for a hybrid class? I mean, look at the utility they can bring to a raid. If the pure DPS classes aren't more than pulling their weight in DPS, how would one justify the utility loss?

Now, perhaps that is over dramatic, but it does kind of put a sour note on this whole "dual spec" business for me. It all depends on how they implement it. Say, if you had to pick your spec before starting a raid, then that's fine. Spots would still be chosen based on need. However, if you can swap on the fly, you might start to see some of the normal "DPS generic" spots become "DPS utility" spots. Then you'd have the same number of DPS people fighting for fewer spots (in the case of pure DPS classes). These utility spots would be hard to justify giving to a pure-DPS class, because you lose so much utility to the raid. Need another healer for just one fight? DPS utility. Need an extra tank? DPS utility.

Would this be a huge issue? No, probably not. However, I'd like to feel at least that I'm compensated for my lack of being able to tank/heal, by continuing to be the best at what I WANT to do: DPS. I wouldn't have chosen a pure-DPS class if I had been interesting in tanking and healing, but I know what I like: killing things. With prejudice.

In any case, a recent post from Ghostcrawler sort of reassured me, as this goal I believe is a good one. Depending on implementation, I think it can be a real benefit to game play:

Ghostcrawler:
Our goal with dual-spec though is more that you can tank heroics on weekends and raid as dps during the week, not that you tank the trash then switch to dps for the boss. Doubtless players will still do the latter, but we aren’t designing raid encounters knowing that players have access to dual spec. Don’t expect to see 12 tank fights or that sort of nonsense.


In any case, we probably won't see this in a patch for a month or two still, as they're obviously still tweaking it. I'd like to try Demon Form when it finally does show up, and then probably work out a more "burst-centric" spec without losing my Affliction roots. The goal would be to have an "off-spec" for those occasions where burst damage is really a necessity. For instance, that fight with the floating lady in ATOK. Its rough killing those sacrificial minions before they get to her circle when you're DoTting. That would be a great use of a "burst spec".

I also hope that my hard work and studying up on my class will pay off in the raid scene, justifying the fact that I will only do one thing: kill.