Monday, August 31, 2009

For Pony!

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Wewt for nerd pop culture references. Also, love LFG comic. If you haven't checked it out yet, definitely recommend it. Good stuff. Richard may or may not be my idol (along with every other warlock ever).

This week will probably be more picture oriented (if I can help it) since I'm off work for the week and pictures are pretty. (I normally can't access a whole lot of pictures at work due to being, y'know, at work.)

So here's two from the archives that I like:
Buuuuuuurrn!

It really doesn't get any better than standing in front of Ignis' forge after waterboarding him repeatedly in order to get information about Ulduar and it's contents. Oops, did we spray too much water in your face? You's be dead. Mah bad. What's left to do but mount up on your flaming horse and show off? Amirite?

Mister, mister! Your pony is on fire!

Remember that mister-mister dude? Yeah well I think I just killed him. (Anyone get the movie reference? Bonus points awarded...) Then I went and collected a bounty a few dozen times and got myself a sweet pony mount for my squire. It may look small, but that pony hauls ass. Plus, he'll like, do shit for me. Yahtzee! Granted it's only once every 4 hours and lasts for 3 minutes and I can only pick one thing (srsly, the pony hauls so much ass when I run around that he should be able to run errands more than every 4 hours, but it's still cooler than nothing). 150 seals will net you that little guy. Totally worth it.

Oh yeah, and my Dreadsteed is totally a show-off. What do you expect from the coolest mount in the game?

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Second Chance

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A particularly fat flake of snow drifted down, swirling around the support column and landing lightly upon the death knight's arm as she leaned against the thick wooden beam. She looked down at the flake, expecting it to melt on her skin and run down her arm in a jubilee of water escaping from its more rigid, prison-like form. Instead, the flake just sat there, unchanged upon her cold, pale skin. She shivered, but not from the cold.

It had been nearly a year since she'd been forcibly employed by the Lich King. Not long after her conscription into the legions of the undead, she had freed herself of Arthas' domination and set off on her own to plumb the depths of her new existence. As time had gone by, memories had returned. She began to realize who she was and what she'd done. She shivered again.

Poking her head out around the column, she surveyed the scene before her with a critical eye. The heavy, wrought iron gate was still shut. Several adventurers loitered around outside, impatiently waiting for the seemingly possessed gate to decide to respond to the level that they repeatedly pulled. High above, a Dwarven guard sat astride a gryphon and snickered. A few of the adventurers began to grow unruly, banging loudly on the gate and demanding entrance. Vehement curses escaped their lips, chasing away the guard's grin and encouraging him to tighten his grip on the hammer he kept strapped to his side. He was there to keep the peace, but peace seemed to have ideas of it's own at the moment.

The warlock, Fulguralis, had been inside for several minutes now. Decedereful didn't usually make a habit of waiting around while her prey frolicked inside with friends, testing his mettle along with the other champions. Once he went in with a group, she usually found a cozy place to curl up near a fire and try fruitlessly to absorb some warmth into her perpetually frigid body. It's not that it was uncomfortable, the cold. No, it was that, like a lost limb, the tingle of the memory of warmth tugged at the hazy corners of her mind, making her itch for something that had turned to dust many months ago.

Besides, a woman ought to be soft and warm, right? Decedereful found the cold, hard life of a knight of death to be the antithesis of femininity. In truth, she hated it. Loathed what she'd become. The only benefit that she could see was the power. Oh, the power. The strength. it was the one thing that lent her hope that some day she might be repaid of what was stolen from her.

It was partly due to this spirit of reclamation that she had sought out the warlock. Alone, she doubted she had any hope of realistically assuring reparations for the wrongs wrought on her kind. She needed the help of powerful adventurers that she could trust, and her quest began with the warlock. Powerful he was, but also perhaps the only person in Azeroth that she could ever hope to trust. She needed his guidance now more than ever.

A muffled cheer wafted over from the gathered group of adventurers as the heavy gate squealed open. Decedereful peaked around the column just in time to see a cowled figure retreat quickly around the nearest corner of the coliseum. He may have donned his hood, but after following him for week, she easily recognized the garb of the warlock.

Without hesitation, she slipped out from behind the column and hastily followed. As she made the turn, she caught a glimpse of her prey walking quickly down the stairs to the practice field and off towards a row of tents. The snowfall seemed to thicken as the warlock disappeared among the canvas structures, swallowed up by fluffy white sheets.

Decedereful jogged over to the row of tents, looking first left and then right, hoping that she had not lost her target in the gathering gloom. He normally headed home after visiting the coliseum for the night, but his behavior on this snowy eve was different. She needed to know why. She need to know what he was doing, who he was, where he was going. It was irrational, but she needed to know if he was still the same boy that she'd drudged up from her murky memories.

There were no people out among the tents at this hour, but any footsteps were quickly filled in by the heavy snow fall. Though it was an isolated area, she could not decide which path the warlock had taken. To her right, a tuft of snow stirred, disturbed by the passing of a long robe. Decedereful went towards it.

Hesitantly, she rounded the corner made by the vertical canvas wall of a soldier's tent. The flap of the tent settled shut even as she was processing the new scene. Quietly, she stepped up to the entrance and reached a trembling hand to pull the flap aside. The robed figure of the warlock stood motionless in the center of the room in front of a table, his attention apparently fixated on an object on the table. Unnoticed, the death knight entered the room.

Taking two faltering steps towards the figure, she reached out a gauntlet covered hand, preparing to tap the warlock on the shoulder and see the man she'd been steeling herself to face for weeks now. Startlingly, the cloth robe fell away from the figure that wore it, revealing the svelte back of the person beneath. Dark purple wings flared out from shoulder blades, opening up impressively and forcing Decedereful to take a step back. A distinctly feminine giggle filled the room as the succubus shook out her wings and wiggled her butt as if covering herself for even a short amount of time had somehow made her demonic skin crawl.

"Who..." Decederful started to ask, but fell silent when she felt the cold, sharp tip of a blade slide up under her throat.

"Why the hell have you been following me, death knigh?" an obviously angry voice growled. Decedereful recognized at once that the voice belonged to the warlock and her eyes began burn with the tears she would never be able to cry.

She started to try to turn around to see his face. "Don't even think about it," Fulguralis cautioned.

"But, Boy, it's me..." Decedereful cried out in a voice thick with emotion.

Even as she said it, she heard the hollow timbre of her voice and died a little more inside as she realized that the person who meant the most to her in the world would not even be able to recognize her by sound. Trembling, she felt the strength go out of her knees and she knew she would soon topple foward, running the dagger through her throat in the process.

Curiously, she realized that at this point, she didn't even care.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DW Fail Tanking

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Last night, I got the opportunity to put my DW tanking build to the test. I was whispered and asked if I'd like to go to Heroic ToC and tank. "Sure, why not," I answered. After completing the jousting portion of the event, I go in for the pull. One whack, two whack, three whack, dead. Right.

So I was pretty much a fail tank last night. Now, for anyone really wondering, I logged out in my tanking gear last night (Decedereful), and it's pretty much awful. I really had no business attempting to tank that instance... heck I'm still just shy of the heroic defense cap. I don't have the huge health pool that DK tanks require (only around 23k right now). I'm still in half blues. I'm wearing a DPS bracer. I think I have some PvP gear on too. Ugh! (And I totally warned my buddy).

In my defense, I do have the tier hands for tanking. I do have good raid drops for helm, shoulders, and boots. I'm not completely hopeless. Fuu even bought me a shiny tanking ring that she said will last me well into Ulduar. I wasn't completely hopeless, was I?

Okay, I probably was, but nothing ventured nothing gained, right? I definitely need to work on my tank gear, but my first priority is topping meters as a warlock, so I'm fresh out of badges and time right now. I only run my DK when requested/needed. I'll get it done eventually.

So, while I have actually run through some instances as a tank just fine... heroic ToC is going to have to wait. In fact, later in the night we nearly gave it another shot. We were short a tank. I said I was totally fail tank tonight, but we had a really well geared healer that wanted a challenge. Then, we thought better of it and brought him on a tank, swapped a pally to a healer (who wasn't very well geared and warned us as such) and tried to go with the weak link being the healer.

Again, we made it through jousting, and again we failed on the first bosses. You just can't survice ToC with a weak healer or a weak tank. I know you're thinking: "Well, duh. Of course you shouldn't do ToC with undergeared healers/tanks." We know this, we just wanted to try. I have some very good guildies, and one of the reasons is because we all like to challenge ourselves. We don't always take optimum groups or fill raids completely, because we'd rather being doing stuff together than waiting around for the perfect group to fall in our laps.

It can be frustrating, it can be costly, but it can also be full of learning and fun if you do it right. What did I learn? #1 ToC is much harder than "normal" heroics. #2 Preparation is key, you can be good, but no amount of skill will help a one shot. #3 Jousting is fracking dumb. Srsly, I had to joust TWICE and got absofrickinlootly nothing (yes, "lootly", it's funny in my world).

We will be back for you, heroic ToC, mark my words. And then, I'll shove a lance right in your... *Shakes Fist*

So, field testing of my DW spec in heroics is on hold right now, pending a gear upgrade or two. I'm starting to learn a rotation though: DnD, apply diseases, OB, hit Rune Strike whenever it's up, watch for glowing howling blast, frost strike if you get extra RP (but don't do too much and miss an RS)... little rules like that are popping up. It's more of a reactionary playstyle than the planned out rotation of DPS life. It's pretty fun.

Finally, if you're interested in Aion... here's a reposting of a reposting of the dates for the upcoming Open Beta: September 4 (Friday). There are other important dates at that link too. I'm getting excited about this one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Website Updates/I'm Lazy

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No post today other than to point out that I updated the links on the right hand side with the new, post 3.2 information. The warlock articles didn't change since there was really nothing to affect what we do as affliction 'locks. The DK stuff definitely did, as I switched to a DW build and my rotation changed up a bit. The link is now to the newer article. I also added a link for my DW tanking build article thingy. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frost DW Tank Spec and Glyphs (3.2)

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The Case for Dual Wield Tanking
(If you're looking for a rotation, go here)

I've decided to take a small plunge into the world of Death Knight tanking. In fact, this plunge is going to be a very pointed one. We all know that DK's can tank just fine, but I want to dual wield tank. Yes, you heard me, DUAL WIELD. In addition, I want to be a frost dual wield tank. Why? Because it's atypical and fun for me. What more reason does one need?

I want to start by defining the scope of the article. I'm not trying to say DW tanking is better than other tanking, I'm merely making the case that it is equally viable as a form of tanking. Thus, please keep that in mind when reading. I'm not trying to disprove other methods of tanking, only trying to prove mine by association and comparison.

The whole concept of dual wield tanking has been taboo for some time. Ask any seasoned veteran elitist and they'll probably spout off some diatribe about the parry-haste mechanics on bosses. For those of you that don't know, this mechanic is that each time a boss parries one of your attacks, he gains a temporary haste for his attacks, meaning you take more damage. This is why we force melee to the back of bosses (so they don't contribute) and why expertise capping is a must.

Note that I didn't say hit capping there. Hit capping has NOTHING to do with the chance for a boss to parry you. That's all expertise, baby.

Anyways, at first I thought this was going to be an uphill battle, filled with complicated maths to be able to be respected by the otherwise skeptical tanking community. Luckily, Mr. Vick (nothing to do with dogfighting, I'm sure, unless he wants to roll a worgen) commented the other day about a Tankspot discussion that debunks the theory that DW tanking for DK's is completely unviable. I went and found that discussion, read through the whole of it, and what follows now is my interpretation of the data and what it means for DW DK tanks everywhere.

First things first: the spec. 
With the new DW friendly talents that Blizz gave us in 3.2, it's very important to be sure you're specced correctly for any sort of dual wielding. This means basically for DW you must get the following two talents: Nerves of Cold Steel and Threat of Thassarian. You can see if you'd like to click that my 8/53/10 spec reflects these. Additionally, I've taken many of the traditional frost tanking talents.

Now, I mentioned that I thought the DW part was going to be the harder sell. However, I think with the recent nerfs of the frost tree while buffing DW talents, it may in reality end up being the fact that I'm going to be a frost tank and not a blood or unholy tank. Still, while frost may be the least attractive at the moment, there is no obvious taboo on using it as your tank spec. Plenty of people still Frost tank with a 2H. Thus, I'm not going to try to justify the frost part here, this is mainly to address the issue of dual wielding. If you have a problem with frost, that's fine. Just don't give me crap about my DW.

Glyphs
Secondly, it's important to note that I'm going with the following glyphs:
Then, I snatched up two Teldrassil Protectors from the Argent Tournament, because these seemed like a good place to start for 1H tanking weapons. The fact that they have defense and parry is really good for a DK DW tank. Most 1h weapons may waste some points on block, which is obviously useless for us. The rest of my gear is your typical DK tanking fare.

These get me to around 535 defense, which is the heroic defense cap. I'd like to get to 540, which is the raiding defense cap, but I'll need to work on my gear a bit more to get there. I've maxxed out the enchants and such that I can use to help my gear.

Runeforging
Finally, I headed to the runeforge to get my weapons to glow. I was a bit saddened when I learned I couldn't use Stoneskin Gargoyle to bump my defense some more (duh, it's only for 2h weapons), so I slapped one with Swordbreaking and the other with Spellbreaking. It may behoove me later to pick up an enchant for Blade Ward, since from all reports this looks like a good one, especially for DW DK tanks (since we both hit more and rely more on our own parry).

Okay, so now on to the more mathy portion of this post, since I've covered the initial setup.

I mentioned earlier about Expertise and Hit capping. For hit, with the Nerves of Cold Steel talent, we only need to gather a paltry 5% hit. "But wait!" you may say, "I thought DW imposed a penalty that means you need a whopping 27% hit in order not to miss." Yea, I say to you, that is indeed the case for white noise hits. That is most certainly NOT the case for melee based special attacks, where we need 8% (minus the 3% from the talent gives us 5%). Now, we do gain some benefit by going higher, since we rely on spells and they don't cap until 17% (minus 3% gives us 14%)... but you really don't see as much of a threat/dps gain from hit after 8% than you do from stacking other important stats. If you can pick up more, fine, just don't sacrifice better stats for it.

Also, to quote myself from earlier: Hit capping has NOTHING to do with the chance for a boss to parry you.

Like I said, that's expertise. The number we need to shoot for there is 26 "skill" (not rating). This is the so-called Dodge Cap. The prolific Splug from the tankspot forums explained it pretty well and was venerated by his peers, so I'll quote him:

"Getting over the 6.5% dodge cap [26 skill] is very efficient for threat, and by that point the parry-haste contribution becomes overshadowed by the raw avoidance gains from dual wielding tanking weapons [Splug]."

Yes, therein lies our first right hook at the jaw of the DW parry-haste myth. You see, one of the benefits of dual wielding is an increased contribution by your extra weapons to avoidance in the form of more parrying. Thus, it is argued that at the dodge cap, your expertise is enough to minimize the amount the boss is parrying you, while granting you enough avoidance that you reach a tipping point where the boss mechanic is overshadowed by your avoidance. Yes, that is just a restatement of the quote above, but it is an important point not to miss. This is one big feather in our cap for the viability of DW tanking.

Now, we can get more expertise, which will further decrease our chance of being parried as well as help with threat generation, but once we get to this cap, we should again not sacrifice other essential stats. This is just another benchmark similar to hit capping that we want to hit prior to throwing ourselves out in LFG saying "hey, I can haz tank!"

Along this line, we need to remember that we'll be parrying a bit more ourselves with two weapons. The increase in parry for a dual wield tank is significant not only for avoidance, but also for threat generation. Remember, parry doesn't suffer from diminishing returns like many other stats, and DK's start out with more than our fair share of parries anyways.

What does this mean? Well, recall that DK tanks have an ability called Rune Strike. This is the very cornerstone of DK tanking. Check it out via that link if you haven't heard of it. It is important to note that not only is it high threat, but it is also activated every time we parry an incoming attack. Didn't we just say that a DW tank will be parrying a lot more do to having more parry and an extra weapon (more attacks)? Why yes, we did. Quite simply, this means we'll be doing more Rune Strikes than our 2H counterparts.

Let me assure you that Rune Strike seems to proc almost constantly when you DW tank. I just tried it this last weekend in a heroic, and was amazed at how often that button lit up. I basically had to press it between each spell/special cast. If you've read that tooltip or are familiar with the ability, you also know that Rune strike is both UN-parriable AND it replaces parriable white noise attacks. Thus, not only are we increasing threat generation by DW, but we're also decreasing that nasty parry-haste mechanic contribution even further.

If the above is not enough to convince you, lets put this in a little perspective. After all, a DW DK tank is probably still going to be parried more than a 2H DK tank, if we're comparing apples to apples. Let's bust out the oranges though! That is, lets look at another flavor of tanks: Warriors. They have to deal with the same parry-haste mechanic we do.

Again, it was done better in the tankspot forum discussion, so I'll quote the enlightening and math-centric Satorri (2S is two slow weapons, 2F is two fast weapons, 1S is one slow two-handed weapon, just FYI... warrior is your typical warrior tank):

"So let's adjust the table from above [which did not take into account replacing white attacks with Rune Strikes]:
#attacks  #parries(no Exp) #parries(26 Exp)
Warrior =     72       10.1             5.4
DK-2S =       58        8.1             4.4
DK-2F =       80       11.2             6.0
DK-1S =       31        4.3             2.3
So, notice now that while you will get more parriable swings, and more parries with dual wielding than a 2-h as a DK, DK's also start way ahead of the curve for parriable attacks, and in fact, dual wielding tank weapons can only marginally increase your risk of parry-haste over that of a warrior with the same Expertise. And after expertise we're nitpicking on half an actual parry (which is only relevant in a giant number statistical average) [Satorri]."

So what's the point here? Well, I haven't noticed any Warrior tanks being shunned from groups for parry-haste mechanics, nor has that mechanic been a particular problem for them. Yet, DW tanking for DK's is on par with warrior tanking when it comes to the same mechanic. Sure, 2H DK tanking may be better from a very selective perspective, but DW tanking has it's own perks as well (more parries, more avoidance, more rune strikes... the threat may end up being a wash since you hit harder with 2H weapons, but more often with two weapons). Also, I'm not trying to answer the question of if DW tanking is better, only if it's viable. I'm trying to debunk the myth that DW tanking suffers from too much parry-haste. Clearly, I think I've shown that it is just that... a myth. So, to answer the question...

Is dual wield Death Knight tanking viable in the 3.2 World of Warcraft?

My answer is an emphatic: Yes.

(Edit: I tried to clean this up a bit to make it easier to browse.  Also, if you're looking for more... I go into detail about my rotation and such things here.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Decrypting The Con

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If you're like me and overwhelmed by the amount of information that came out of BlizzCon this weekend, then perhaps this post is for you too. I'm going to attempt to gather the major talking points that I've heard, and decompress it for you in a nice, bulleted list. I will try to keep my own thoughts to one liners, but will more than likely fail. I will also try to give credit where credit is due, but will probably fail at that as well, so please don't think too poorly of me. There was just a plain blizzton of information. We're talking lots of blue crap all over the windshield. Like someone walked into a hotel room in California and nuked the smurf village. Or maybe had a lot of blueberry pie. Mmmm, pie.

Keep in mind that many of these are merely *planned* changes. That means some may never again see the light of day. Some may be abandoned. Some may get altered. All in all, we're not likely to see all that we think we are. The ray of sunshine here is that we can really get a feel for where the developers want the game to head. The means may change, but they're going to try to go the same direction to the same end. If you really really want the minutia, MMOChampion does a wonderful job of breaking it down. I'm just going to try and hit the general high points.

So, without further ado, I give to you:

The Promise of Tomorrowland (in Warcraft)
  • Streamlined Stats - Blizz wants to eliminate the overabundance of stats we have now. Back to basics is going to be a recurring theme. Look to only have to choose between a few stats, and these will be your main ones (think, getting rid of all that green crap and sticking with the base stats).
  • Warlock Soul Shard changes - This has become somewhat of a priority. They've apparently been sandbagging us... giving us only small changes now while having a huge change in store. Look for the class to become more Death Knighty... that is, to have shards stop being something that is collected, and become more of a reusable resource to manage. I think the operative word they used here was "blowing cooldowns". Could be fun, could suck horribly.
  • More on the soul shard thing - They'd probably end up working in conjunction with other spells as sort of a "special attack". I hope we get some new, cool animations with this
  • Guild leveling - Somehow, someway, guilds are going to be able to be levelled. They'll get experience points through a variety of means. Still very vague, but look for the nature of guilds to change. I think their goal is to really enhance the team play experience of guilds, to reward guilds for sticking together instead of individuals jumping around and "getting theirs". This could be a very welcome change.
  • Icecrown is coming, will probably have ~12 bosses.
  • Onyxia is still on for a revamp.
  • There is an expansion, Cataclysm is its name... where have you been?
  • No new classes, two new races Ally Worgen and Hordy Goblins. Have their own starting areas and special stuff.
  • Old Azeroth will get a revamp, woot for flying mounts.
  • Battlegrounds will get some changes, perhaps a rating system - I think the point here is to create more synergy between arena and BG PvP'ing. I'm sure this implementation will be tweaked a lot.
  • Blizz wants to reward individual character progression as well as guild progression too... thus, there is this whole Path of the Titans thingy. It looks to be a mechanism for unlocking different skills and options as you progress. Could be interesting.
  • There'll be a couple legendary items coming our way, one for DKs in Icecrown, one for casters in the expansion... hopefully.
  • Phasing will be used more in the expansion.
  • The level cap will be 85 in the expansion.
  • Talent trees will not be expanded but will probably be reworked for the x-pac.
  • There will be one new secondary (the professions for everyone) profession (archaeology), and most professions will see some changes for the x-pac.
  • You'll get the usual host of things in the x-pac: new BG, new dungeons and raids, new bosses (some revamped old bosses), new pieces of lore and lore changes.
I think that about covers it. There are tons of little things that I didn't mention, but I think a lot of it is definitely subject to change. The big points to take away from all the proposed changes are that:
  1. Blizz is adopting a "back to the basics" sort of approach. In fact, I suspect that line is displayed prominently on a whiteboard somewhere. Some people may say this is "dumbing it down", but lets be honest... we were a bit stat crazy. WoW is not EvE. We're all gonna use Pawn or something like that anyways.
  2. They want to encourage and enable better team play. They seem to be trying to shift the paradigm away from the pervasive selfish attitudes by rewarding sticking it out with a team/guild.
  3. They have not abandoned the "something for everyone" appeal of the game as nearly all parts of the game are receiving attention. There is new, revamped old, PvP, PvE, levelling, exploration, lore, gear, you name it. The game will continue to be well rounded.
I think, if Blizz stays true to the goals, we could see some very nice and welcome changes. The game could have a lot of appeal on a lot of different levels. It's also going to stay healthy for a while still, Blizz is certainly not abandoning it (not with the sweeping changes in mind). You're gonna have QQ, you're going to have folks leave in frustration, but overall, the game should be better off as long as they stay true to the direction they've so prominently announced. At least that's my take on it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Turning the Tables

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A chill wind howled through the tournament grounds, catching tent flaps and snapping them forcefully to create a canvas applause that echoed across the nearly empty fields. Fulguralis pulled his violet cloak tighter around him and clutched the stack of mail he carried tightly to his chest as if worried that the malevolent wind would reach down and attempt to make a delivery of it's own to recipients unknown. His wife would be quite angry if he inadvertently lost the fruits of her labor.

He scowled at the thought. He loved his wife with a fiery passion that consumed his sharded soul, but being married to a being of the Light had it's downsides. Mostly, she always insisted on doing things the right way. There was no cutting corners or taking shortcuts. For a warlock, it was torture. Torture, when done right, could be quite pleasurable, however.

That's the succubus talking, Ful, a voice in his brain warned. Fulguralis shook his head as if to remove the unwelcome thoughts by force. Consorting with demons did strange things to one's mind, and it was a constant struggle to remain true to one's sense of self. Fulguralis knew that if he did not keep his mind right, he would be become the minion instead of the master.

Beside him, his succubus let out a mirthful, seductive laugh at her master's struggle. Fulguralis didn't take it personally. He knew she was just teasing him, reminding him that she was there. She didn't like it when he turned his attentions elsewhere. He eyed the winged she-devil with a look of admonishment. She grinned back shyly, glancing over her shoulder as if to say: spank me, I deserve it. In response, the warlock just glared at his minion.

The mailbox stood in front of him now, and he carefully withdrew the letters from inside his cinched cloak. Depositing them in the slot, he turned around and squinted up at the coliseum that dominated the landscape. A single white flake drifted down and lit upon his upturned face, sending a shiver down his spine. It appeared as if they were going to get some more snow.

"Great," he muttered aloud, "just what this place needs. More snow."

As if on cue, the skies opened up and white flakes began to descend in earnest almost as if the clouds themselves had grown tired of flight and longed mingle among the beings on the ground. Fulguralis pulled his hood up over his head and glanced at the succubus beside him. She was twirling around with her tongue out in some kind of girlish display of pure ecstasy. It was as he was observing her odd behavior that he noticed two burning blue eyes watching him from the darkness of one of the coliseum corridors.

"It's her again," he whispered at no one in particular. "I've had about enough of this."

Turning to his minion, the warlock gave a quick order under his breath and she came to his side instantly, eyes alight at the opportunity for mischief. Fulguralis spun on his heels, his red cape flaring out dramatically behind him and began to march towards the coliseum, succubus in tow. He was heading for the entrance on the far side of the arena where he'd been sneaking away often to challenge other champions alongside several fellow adventurers. He knew that his stalker would follow him to the doorway and then sometimes wait outside for the event to end. He planned to use that knowledge to his advantage.

As he approached the entrance, he glanced furtively over his shoulder to ascertain that he was, indeed, still being followed. He was rewarded by the sight of two burning blue orbs floating as if disembodied in the soft white blanket that had been cast across the grounds. There was no doubt about it, death knights just did not make good spies. The whole glowing eye thing sort of took away from the stealthiness.

Stepping up to the large iron gate, he pulled the rusty lever set in the wall to the right, expecting the gate to raise immediately and admit him. Nothing happened. He pulled again, nothing. He glanced up at the rafters in anger and spotted a gyphon-mounted guard huddled under the eave. He was apparently trying to escape the sudden onslaught of snow.

"My friend," Fulguralis hollered, "what's wrong with the gate? It used to always open straight away."

The guard, a rough looking Dwarf, shrugged and hollered back, "Yeah, yeah. S'pose yer gonna be cursin' the gods too. Tis been like that what with the influx o' champions. The builders keep promsin' ta get it a fix, but ne'er do. Yeh'd do well ta find yerself an ale and settle in, could be a while."

Fulguralis glanced around at several other adventurers that were sprawled drunkenly around the entryway. He was about to ask where the ale could be found when the heavy gate rattled open on it's own accord. Apparently the gates no longer responded to the command of operator or guard, but worked on a schedule that seemed entirely their own. The warlock shot the guard a questioning glance, eyeing the arena beyond the gate. The dwarf just shrugged.

Quickly, before the gate could mysteriously shut itself again, Fulguralis entered the coliseum. No sooner had he entered than the gate crashed shut behind him with a resounding clang. There were a few groans from the other adventurers that were The sound echoed off the stone building, but was swallowed whole by the fluffy monsters that spawned from the clouds above and drifted down from the sky to aggro on the ground. Fulguralis turned and glanced back through the gate, wondering if his plan would work and the death knight would wait around to see what he was up to.

At first, he saw only the shadows of the corridor and the white curtain drawn across the world beyond. Then, faintly, two blue orbs glowed at him from the darkness, quickly extinguishing as their owner hid herself back behind one of the many columns that supported the structure.

The warlock grinned and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Calm Before The Blizzcon Storm

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...Or the Cataclysm if you will.

That's right, everyone and their brother has jetted to the west coast for some crazy Blizzard hosted shindig. By everyone, I mean just about every damn blogger I know. Except for me of course. And Jessabelle. And Larisa. And perhaps a few others. In any case, it's far shorter for me to attempt to label those left behind in this Blizzcon induced rapture than those who are going. I hope y'all have fun, but not too much. Y'hear? I mean, report for sure, but like, don't make me feel any more left out! (Aw hell, who am I kidding, twist the knife! It refills my mana bar IRL anyways).

In my defense, I DID get married this year and that pretty much soaked up all of my vacation time. Oh yeah, and the money. A wedding is the ultimate money sink. If Blizz really wanted to annoy us and take our money, they'd introduce in-game weddings. (The totally had these in Final Fantasy, and they were expensive as hell there too. Here's a quick reference article. Funny thing is, we had those same rules at our RL wedding too. Note that you can bring a monster, just as long as you don't release them).

Anyways, as a consolation prize, I totally sent my Alliance GM with the instructions to try and find cool bloggers and throw my name around. He's like my little spy. So if you see a social awkward vorkish (yeah, totally made that word up, board it) man skulking around... wait, on second thought, just let him find you. (This brought to you by the what he said to me the other night: "Guys, I'm so NOT Vork". Lol, we love you anyways, bro... now go wash your cheerleader skirt for the trip).

In any case, I'll be with y'all in spirit. Keep me posted and tip one back for Fuu and me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm So Full Of Twit

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So I finally caved. Yep, I got a twitter account. Let the stalking commence.

My initial impression is that it's like going to a party to meet some friends and finding the place frickin' off the hook (as it were). Then you get inside, somehow avoiding all the obstacles on the lawn, and begin to search for your friends. Unfortunately, you begin to realize that said party is taking place in like, the biggest mansion of all time (maybe the Playboy one, since I did get a rather random so-and-so referenced you and here is a picture of two girls making out so click here...). You begin to wander from cavernous room to cavernous room with no really idea or indication of where your ultimate destination might lie. Oh yeah, and you're drunk.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

L2Meta and a Strategy that Bombs

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Only two more short thoughts today as my life continues to heat up around the edges (leaving me less time than I'd like for my more decadent pass times).

First, I can personally vouch for Abi's Demo guide. I've been dual specced in demo for a while now just for fun. It also seemed to make dailies quicker and easier. Last night was really the first time I decided to run an instance as Demo. My lock has actually never completed heroic Hall of Lightning (thought my DK has, weird how that sometimes works), so I got with a group of guildies who needed it. Plus, 'blems are 'blems right?

In any case, having raided Ulduar as Affliction for the last few months, I suspected that a heroic Hall of Lightning run might not be the challenge for me it once was. As such, I decided to try running it in a completely unfamiliar spec: Demo. I'd read up on it, followed Abi's guide, even practiced a bit through dailies and on a dummy. It's a fun spec. It also is way burstier than Affliction. If makes running old crap that you can roflmaostomp in your nightmares a helluva lot of fun too.

Freaking your tank out as a big purple demon is just plain fun. Watching the group burn and stealing aggro to scare your healer because: "wtf is burst?" Actually dusting off the ol' Soul Fire spell and watching it crit for like 15k. Yeah, good times. Crit all over your face, Loken. Nova this.

Where with Affliction I would hover around the 4k DPS mark in raids (it would drop to a more abysmal 2-3k in old instances where we rolled over trash and boss alike), I was consistently up around 3.7k in the heroics I ran (we hit up ToC afterwards). The nice part was that I was really peaking with trash, which is a new feeling for me on my lock. Plus, I know I was completely sloppy and terribad at the rotation and all (what with being new to it). So, in short, it's a blast to play and definitely has the potential to put up some respectable numbers if you follow Abi's advice.

My second and final point of contention for the day is more of a WTF-type question...

Why the hell do we keep the stack of bombs right next to the gate in the new Battleground? Who came up with that bright idea? Did we like, consult the Arthas from CoS on that one?

Us: "Hey, Prince of Noob, where should we strategically place the bombs in the future?"

Arthas: "I don't f-ing know. Like, near the gate or something. $h!t, your tank is up there tanking! I gotta go screw that up. Stop asking me dumb questions! Just like zerg them and you'll have no problems... that's what I do."

And then we all said: "So shall it be. And we'll let Thrall in on this little trick too, just out of a sense of fairness. In fact, let's like share blueprints and junk."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Random Monday Post

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I have a strange feeling this is going to degenerate over the life of this posting. Mostly because I'm catching up on the 30 or so blog posts I missed over the weekend, but also because it's Monday.

For you DW DK's out there, if you're just starting off like I am, pick up 2x's the Reaper of Dark Souls. You can get them for a decent price from the Ebon Hold Quartermaster if you're revered+. They're good, slow weapons. The ones I had linked before were most definitely fast, and that is no bueno for our DPS talents/abilities. Slow ftw. Want to know why? The short version is this... if each weapon does a the same DPS according to the tooltip and yet one is slower than the other, it means you're getting more damage per hit with the slower one. More damage per hit means a bigger hit for your abilities. This is good.

DW DK tank spec incoming. I know DW tanking is a terribad idea because of the parry mechanics on bosses, but I'm still going to do it. I'm not a main tank and I don't plan on tanking a raid any time soon, it's just for fun and to be available for the occasional heroic which we overgear. Thus, if you're interested, I'll be doing some backwards thinking around here soon (I need to get glyphs and have some time at home to pull my spec over to my post... home time has been at a premium right now).

For Affliction Warlocks, it's business as usual. It looks like we got a minor buff in the patch, but nothing to go crazy about. I'm still performing about the same, though with my glove upgrade, I jumped appreciably. After I get the mounted squire, I'm so done with dailies, though the new ones haven't been as bad, IMO.

For people looking for Cataclysm news, look elsewhere. I'm neither a credible source nor a irresponsible (as the case may be) journalist. I'm also not a regurgitator... plenty of folks have good coverage of this rumor mill elsewhere. My favorite? My boy Abi does a good job (he also updated his demonology warlocky stuff, and it's wonderful as usual). I, for one, hope it's true. I would love to see the old world revamped. I'm not hell bent on new continents with every expansion. Having a catastrophic event that irreversibly alters the landscape of Azeroth is epic win in my book. I don't give a shit what the rest of you say, it's just good juju. You can complain about "old content" all you want, but a face lift is needed if the game is to continue, IMO. Besides, what other continents can there be? A new "Inturf"? A "Southrip"? WTF do you want?

Aion closed beta 6 ends today. It's the last of the closed beta test runs. I participated and enjoyed myself. I only got to level 15 over the course of the betas, which I guess turned out to be a good thing since people were apparently behaving asshatedly at higher levels. Samodean over at Massive Nerd does a good job of ranting about it... This is really the first negativity I've seen en masse from the community. I'm still excited about the game. I expect it to be different than WoW, that is why I'll play both. It seems so counter-culture to enjoy and invest in more than one MMO game at a time, but that's what I'm going to do. Sometimes I just need a break from WoW. Not the month long variety, just a day here and there. It keeps me fresh and un-bored. I suggest you QQ'ers try it.

Can someone please explain the draw of Twitter to me? I really, honestly don't get it. Seriously, no one wants that level of detail of my life. And I don't want that level of detail of your life. Sorry, but it's true. Perhaps I just feel that life advice from celebrities has spoiled me on the whole idea...

Supposedly there's some sort of Blizzard Conference thingy going on. I'm not entirely sure though... (No, I won't be there. No vacay time for the wicked).

When the hell am I going to raid this week? The world (... of Warcraft) may never know. Football takes a helluva a lot of time! Still, planning for Friday night is sorta similar to getting ready for a raid. I mean you have to choose your team (depth charts), gear/skill up (literally and via practice), get a good strategy going in on how to minimize the boss' (other team's) abilities, and then execute. Raid leading = Coaching. You heard it here first.

That's enough for today I think.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Shadow of the Past

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I'd been shadowing the Warlock for months now. I could tell you about his habits, his new wife, and his minions. Oh god, His minions! How could anyone stand the constant bickering? They were just so annoying. At least my ghoul can't form words. If it did, I'd probably cut it's tongue out. And eat it. Tongue is a delicacy, you know.

Wait, that's not very lady like is it? I swear, before this whole undead stuff, I was far more lady like. I mean, the memories are pretty hazy, but I can just barely remember myself with long blond hair, beautiful green eyes, and soft cotton clothes. Now it's black hair, burning eyes, and plate armor. Arthas is such a bastard. If I ever get the chance to rip out his tongue, well... well... well done is the only way it's going down.

Breathe Dece, you're gonna cause a scene, and the Warlock is sending out some mail again. You don't want to scare him away before you've had your chance.

I watch as he gazes longingly towards the Coliseum. I know he's been super busy lately, running chores for that Paladin wife of his. Don't let him fool you though, he's totally been moonlighting at the jousting ring inside that huge arena. Smaller groups don't make it all that secretive, Boy. You still have to walk through the front doors.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to stalk the guy. I mean, I am, but I'm not. At least, not in the way you probably think. Trust me, that'd be creepy. I just really need to tell him something. He'd want to know who I am, right? Or would he be happier just thinking I'm dead? He had to still care.

I mean, he just left me there. I was so little! What did he think I was going to do? Catch myself a nice man and settle down? That's never been my style. Then again, I guess he never stayed around enough to find out. Settling down isn't really his style either. That's why I was so surprised to find him with a wife. She must be pretty damned tough if she can put up with all his crap.

I'm sure he'd want to know though, right? Even if I've been turned into... this?

I know I've probably changed quite a bit since he last saw me, even without the whole rising from the dead thing, but I'm not that horrid, am I? He saw me a few days ago, I know he did. Our eyes met, and he stared at me, and saw... something. Did he recognize me? Did he think, my stars, they've turned her into a newt? Er, a knight, sorry. Or, was my face just so appalling to him that he didn't want anything to do with me?

I guess he did leave me, so maybe he never really cared after all. I can't say I really blame him, look at me. I'm a freak. Even then I was a freak, but now it's even worse. At least those Horde death knights have the other undead kids to fraternize with. Alliance? We got nothin'. Even the Gnomes look down on me. And that's sayin' something.

Shhh, Dece! Quiet! He's looking!

Wait, I wasn't saying anything, this is all in my head. Geeze, I'm losing it. Probably need to eat some more brains. You are what you eat, right?

There it is again! It's like he recognizes me, but doesn't want to admit it. I should go over to him! I should tell him! But... I can't. I'm too scared. What if he doesn't want anything to do with me? I think I'd die for a second time. Add courage to the list of things Arthas stole from me.

That sonnofabitch is gonna pay.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gobs of Emblems, Kologarn Tips, and Aionic Betas

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I was already able to pick up that first piece of loot on my warlocky gear list, so that's cool. You earn emblems at an alarming rate when you really go for it. That was a huge upgrade for me too, netting me the "epic" achievement. Go me. Now I feel the urge to find a new trinket, but I'm not sure where that'll come from. I'm still sporting Je'Tze's Bell, which is good and all, but *shrug*.

The new dailies are pretty good, all in all. They vary enough to keep you on your toes, yet there's enough repetition that you can knock them down pretty quickly. Also, I like how they're pretty much in two areas, and then one "abroad" as it were. I sort of wish one of the pre-champion quests matched up with the post-champion quests, since it was nice to just kill 15 of one thing and get a turn in for both, but I guess that is mostly icing on the cake.

I'm hoping our Ulduar team gets past Kologarn tonight. We've been steadily slogging away at the bosses, learning about one new one every few weeks. It's a decent pace, especially for an ultra casual alliance such as ourselves. I won't be present tonight, but I have every confidence that they can carry on in my absence. I hope to pop in later on to maybe help if someone calls it an early night.

Warlocky tip of the day for Kologarn: Don't stand anywhere near where the rubble adds are being tanked.

Their AoE is nasty and will kill you right quick. Hell, I didn't even know they did an AoE damage aura because in 10-man it's relatively mild. In 25-man, however, it'll jump up an bite you. I didn't realize why I was dying so fast (there is a lot of raid wide damage on that fight) until I went over my combat log and saw some mysterious aura that was killing me. Anyways, it's a good thing to keep in mind that they do.

In addition, you would ideally have a tank with good insta-aggro abilities, as dropping a consecrate or DnD early sometimes means the rubble will run through without receiving a tick (or enough ticks) to lock them to your add tank. Warriors would be ideal. If you're a DK or Pally though, you should probably attempt to time your AoE ability for when they appear, dropping it right away to get that initial tick instantly and thus being the first one on their aggro table (hopefully you won't get an unlucky huge heal at the wrong moment too). However you do it, having this guys running amok among your caster is bad juju and their aura will make an already difficult encounter that much harder.

Finally, I wanted to point out that the final Aionic Closed Beta will be going on this weekend, kicking off at noon PDT on Friday. That should be a blasty and then some. In particular, while reading about the beta, this line caught my attention (from AionSource):

We want to conclude closed beta testing on a high note, so we are arranging a series of story-driven in-game events, in part hinting at some of the much-anticipated content forthcoming in with our massive release day patch. Keep that F5 key handy, since more information on these live events is headed your way later this week!

Woot for "story driven in-game events", whatever those may be. I will ashamedly admit that it took me a moment to realize the F5 key is the refresh key and that's what they were referring to. I was trying in vain to understand how selecting the fifth member of a party would equate information, then I realized we're talking IRL... or at least out of game. Man, I'm losing touch with reality.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Auction House: How I faired thus far

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Hi everyone!!!

Sorry that I haven't given all of you the scoop of how I'm doing with my new experiment. I took a bunch of screenies to show you what I did and how I was doing at the time.

Meet Baggons

/wave

He was created long ago to be a bank alt but I never really got into using him. I sent Baggons 1,500 gold and let him run with it. He bought all of his bags and bank slots. I sent him all of the useful herbs that Fuubaar had in her bags (which wasn't much). With the remaining gold, I tried to buy out all reasonably priced herbs on my server.

Lichbloom
Frost Lotus
Icethorn
Goldclover
Eternal Life

Since Fuu fishes, she gets MORE than enough Pygmys to convert to oils.

With these ingredients, I can make the 4 major Flasks and rejoice. Well, atleast this was my plan from the beginning. Now I knew that the set up was the longest process and I would have to agree. My biggest problem was when I started, the "reasonably priced" herbs were few & far between. I probably spent around 300g on the first day just doing the prep work.



What I did was buy everything I could and sent everything to Fuu to alchemize. At the beginning, it was normally only a few of each flask. Sent the remaining mats & new flasks back to Baggons. He would pick everything up, put the mats away in his bank and post the new flasks in stacks of 3. I'm not sure why I started putting them at 3 but it truely seemed to work out.

Many times I would send everything to Fuu and produce until I ran out of mats. This became VERY frustrating. I had tons of Icethorn & Lichbloom but I would be out of Frost Lotus. Frost Lotus normally runs around 30g each which is pretty much what makes or breaks your profit. I've been really trying to watch the Trade Channel in Stormwind for cheaper mats.

One day, someone was just having a hay day with the Lotus prices & marking them up by 120-200%. There was NO way I was going to pay for that so I tried to advertise buying Frost Lotus by the stack. I figured if I flashed a big number around, someone would bite. I found one guy that seemed interested but he wouldn't go for the price that I wanted so I went about my day with no more Flasks to produce.

A more recent event that I'm quite proud of was someone advertised selling 68 for 25g each! Holy cow! I was pumped. So I talked to this girl (the toon was a girl) and she opened up trade & threw 68 Frost Lotus into it. I actually freaked out a little from the sight of this. "How much do I owe you?" "1,700gold please."



NOTE: In the second picture where the arrow is, is the EXACT reason why I choose to watch the trade channel alone :D

After that transaction, I had a whopping 93gold to my little banker's name but I had FROST LOTUS! I quickly sent everything I had over to Fuu so I could start making some gold. Nothin was holding me back.

I made my gold back & much more from my investment. I am currently sitting at around 3k gold within a week. To be honest though, I thought I would be making more than this.

Since 3.2 hit, I've been doing my Transmutations with the new epic gems. It stinks that you can't make more at a time but 1 transmutation a day is still bringing in an additional 100-150g (or 700-1050g a week). I have no clue what will happen to the price once the market settles down. I hope it stays up for a little while longer so that I may partake in the fruitful market.



What I may end up doing is continue to transmute the gems every day plus the flasks. I think this will continue to bring in a steady income with pretty much little effort on my part.

TOTAL GOLD ON ALL TOONS: around 7k

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conquest Emblem Affliction Warlock Gear Wish List

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I took some time last night while waiting to be graced with the opportunity to instance (that is all I'll say on the painful subject), to look through all of the Conquest Emblem gear in an effort to prioritize my future spending. It seemed to me that a lot of the pieces are curiously absent of spell hit, which means I'll have to start gemming for it again, plus will hopefully get large chunks of it from pieces like the T8 chest. In any case, I wanted to share my shopping list (in order of priority for me):
I also went back and spent my last 25 emblems of valor of the Disguise of the Kumiho since it was a slight upgrade over what I had. I'm sitting on a cape drop from the new 5-man instance that has some hit on it along with decent stats, in case I'll need it in the future. In addition, I got a great drop from that instance for my helm to: the Gaze of the Unknown. It looks to be better than the T8 helm, which is why that token isn't on my wish list. It also depends a bit on where I stand on hit as I start replacing things. Right now I'm over by quite a few points, so I'll need to remedy that anyways.

The problem is, running all these 5-mans that I outgear, I don't really get to see my full DPS potential, so I can't tell if I'm helping myself or not. *Shrug* The stats are trending upwards I guess...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

3.2 Frost DK DW DPS Run Down

13 comments
Over the weekend, I took the plunge and dove into respeccing and regearing my Death Knight. For those who may not know, Death Knights got a full refund of talent points necessitating a revisiting of my spec. I was rather enjoying the playstyle I'd found, so I didn't wanna switch things up too much. However, I did want to see if the new changes in favor of dual wielding panned out like they were intended.

With that in mind, I went with a 14/57/0 spec. I filled up the "Nerves of Cold Steel" talent as well as the "Threat of Thasarrian" talent. I removed two points from Two Handed Weapon Specialization and kept almost everything else the same.

It's important to note that my aim is to be able to do two things well with this spec. The first, I'd like to be able to DPS in a PvE environment competitively. The second, I'd like to feel competitive in PvP Battlegrounds. Thus, some points are chosen for that sort of utility, even though I know it makes my spec not "the best" raiding spec or "the best" PvP spec. It's a hybrid spec. For instance, my PvP needs are what entice me to spec into both Rune Tap and Chillblains. Keep that in mind in your criticisms :-).

This also reflects itself in my choice of glyphs. You can see from the link above that I'm going with:
  • Howling Blast - To spread Frost Fever and, thereby, Chillblains. Awesome for keeping melee away from demolishers, etc.
  • Disease - One button, one rune refreshing of diseases. Totally a must for DPS as it lets you throw in a lot more Obliterates
  • Rune Tap - For the self/group heal. This is a utility thing that I enjoy. If you're looking for more DPS, go with the Glyph of OB as it is totally worth it.
  • Horn of Winter - These three minors are pretty much "no duh" choices.
  • Pestilence - for the obvious
  • Raise Dead - for the obvious
So, basically, in switching to a Dual Wield spec, I dropped my old glyph of Death Grip (which is great for levelling, but not all that useful in end game stuff, even if I really love the ability) and picked up the Glyph of Disease which is just essential for your rotation. I'm still ironing it out, but it ends up looking something like:

IT > PS > OB > FS > BS > Pest > OB > OB > FS (repeating basically Pest, OB's, FS as they come up and making sure my diseases never fall off. Also, I throw in a HB whenever Rime procs... looking for the shinies around your player)

It's pretty simple, fun, and puts up respectable numbers. With the addition of the glyph, I was doing better DPS than I was pre-patch right away even using my 2h weapon. Then I switch to my DW weapons and saw my DPS go up ~100 more on the same dummy. This is certainly not battle tested, but I would argue that my 2H weapon is far better than my 2 DW weapons, yet still I was putting out more DPS as a DW. It seems to me to confirm the general rumors I'm hearing that DW >> 2H for the Frost tree DPS spec.

I know that in the course of my research, it was tough to figure out what DW weapons to use. I know you want a slower weapon in each hand, but it was still hard for me to find "easy to get" 1H DPS weapons. I didn't want to farm anything, just purchase some stuff because I wanted to test it before I took the plunge. This basically limited me to emblems, seals, and/or currently achieved rep items. In the end, I settled on:
These replaced my two hander Death's Bite.

I'm also working on a DW tanking spec too, but I'll reserve a separate post for that.

So now that I've thrown all this out there, please feel free to shoot me advice and critique. I'm sure I've missed things or could have done things better. In particular, I would love advice on what to look for as far as DW stats on weapons. I find that I don't really understand that stats on them so much right now. Just keep in mind that I'm choosing to run with a hybrid spec for fun, realizing it means I'm not going to "top the charts" DPS wise in a raid. That's not the point of what I'm doing. I want to maximize this spec while retaining the utility in both PvP and some PvE (mostly heroics, maybe some low-end raiding). Thanks in advance!

(edit: In response to some comments and further research, I posted an update here with some clarifications about the IIT buff and how it affected my rotation.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

On The Outside Looking In

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The roar of the crowd startled Fulguralis from his sleep-deprived musings as he paced towards the mailbox outside of the large tent. He had just finished up another set of dailies and had been tasked by his new bride to take care of the mail. Kicking at the dirt path, he glanced longingly towards the coliseum that towered over him on the tournament grounds.

Having been recently completed, the coliseum was a hive of activity with busy bees buzzing in and out of the massive structure, going about their business as if they had been there all along. Fulguralis reminded himself how empty the grounds had been until late, and felt a distant pang of regret that he and his adventurers alliance were not yet prepared to preform in front of the tournament crowd. They still had work to do elsewhere in Ulduar.

Having been reunited with his heart, bound though it may now be, he was nevertheless happy to hear it racing at the visions of glory and adventure glancing at the massive structure brought to mind.

"Someday," he muttered, returning his focus to the approaching mailbox. "Hopefully it's sooner rather than later."

In the days following his marriage to the Paladin, Fuubaar, he had found himself quite busy with the mundane. It seemed that one could not take an extended vacation in Azeroth without accumulating mountains of work upon one's return. It would be a while before this Warlock was back in full action.

The mailbox materialized in front of Fulguralis, and he glanced down at the letter he was carrying. A dab of pink wax had been dripped, pressed, and hardened to close the letter, and he studied the embossing left in the wax. It read: Seal of Light Postage.

"Paladins," he sighed, then shrugged and dropped the letter along with several others like it into the mail slot.

Looking towards the future, Fulguralis tried to puzzle out how he was going to fit his daily chores into his already reduced raiding schedule. Somehow, he knew he also needed to take some time with a few close friends to check on some old dungeons. Rumor had it that activity had picked back up inside, and he could always use the emblems awarded from clearing those cesspools out. Besides, killing stuff was far more fun than preforming "Last Rites" on some dumb dead walruses. Or is that walrusi?

One thing was for sure, next time he was in Dalaran he was going to stop by the gear shops and check out what new wares there were offering, as well as write down a list of gear he needed before he could hope to take on the challenges in the colesium. He knew he needed quite a bit.

He began to mount up with that aim in mind, reminding himself to be sure to stop by home and let Fuubaar know what he was up to. She seemed to get upset when she didn't know if he was safe, and he certainly didn't want to deal with a righteous fury. Demons were one thing, but an angry wife was quite another.

As he was mounting up, two burning blue eyes fixed on his from across the path, momentarily arresting his thoughts. I know that woman, he thought, but couldn't quite place from where. Of course, the eyes gave away that the woman in question was a death knight, but as far as he could remember, Fulguralis hadn't fraternized with any of the undead. In fact, he purposefully tried to steer clear of these new additions to his majesty's regiment of mercenaries if only because he found their unrefined abilities to be somewhat of an annoyance. He also found it vaguely amusing that they attempted to inflict their enemies with diseases. If only they knew how to really corrupt!

He stood motionless in locked gaze with the woman for a moment that seemed to stretch into the abyss. A sad look appeared to run across her face as she broke eye contact and melded into the crowd. I know her, he thought, frustrated by the tantalizing nature of the elusive recognition. He stared for a few more seconds at the spot where she'd been standing before shaking his head and mounting up. Kicking his heels into the sides of the dragon, the beast thrust it's muscled wings downwards, stirring up the dust on the dry dirt path and launching animal and rider into the dreary sky that hung ominously above the grounds.

Fulguralis adjusted his hood as the chill air rushed across his face, stinging his exposed skin. Suppressing a shiver, he thought of the warm arms waiting for him at home and smiled.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Lifetapping, Extended Raid IDs, and the Emblem Changes

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When scrolling through the patch notes the other day, I apparently missed this little gem:

Glyph of Lifetap: Duration of the buff from this glyph increased to 40 seconds.

That's a pretty huge increase and will be awesome I think. I'm pretty certain you should be able to fit a lifetap comfortably in your rotation every 40 seconds. In fact, I would wager that it's almost necessary on a boss fight to prevent going OOM. The key is to space them out to keep the buff up while minimizing how often you need to do it so you don't hurt your DPS. I'm thinking, for me, it'll probably end up being a tap about every other pass through the rotation.

Your goal should be to end a boss encounter, having never gone OOM throughout, as near as possible to empty on mana, minimizing your downtime. On a perfect encounter, you'd be able to sprinkle life taps into your rotation within 40 seconds (but as close to 40 seconds apart as you can), slowing your mana drain to end the fight with your last cast consuming your last mana. That'd be nearly impossible to gauge, as there are so many variables, but if you keep that goal in mind, you can probably hone your skills a bit. This change may increase the usefulness of talenting the "improved life tap" since the fewer taps you have to do, the better... especially if you can space them out to keep that buff up.

Still, the idea holds that you don't want to put
too much emphasis on keeping this buff up that you let DoTs drop off or stray from the basics. It's the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

In other news, I ran the new Crusader dailies last night, and they're pretty fun. Nothing ground breaking, but the new landing area up north is decently interesting. If you can catch it, there is a crazy Lurker-like boss that spits at some dudes on a boat. I'm not quite sure what that is all about yet, but it's cool looking. Blizz is also setting the stage for the Black Knight's return, though you could probably guess as much from the patch notes. Still, I think I expected something a bit more epic to that end, but it was really just investigative grunt work. In any case, I like the long, over-arching story lines, so I'm not going to trash on it.

My first purchase was to pick up the tabard that'll let me "hearth" it to the tournament grounds. Totally going to be worth it as I plan to do the dailies at least until I can upgrade my squire. They did put in a summoning stone to facilitate getting groups to the instances, but I think it'll still be nice to be able to teleport there on my own as well. I look forward to running some heroics and testing out the new emblem system. Conquest emblems hit me right where I need it, as we aren't near putting Ulduar on farm and I've not gotten a whole lot of gear upgrades from there. Thus, the items purchasable with the Conquest emblems are a good upgrade for me.

I think the ID and emblem changes are really casual guild friendly. Say what you want about "easy mode" or whatever, but as an officer it really opens a lot of doors for me. What with the summer exodus and just normal guild atrophy, we've been a lot smaller as of late, raiding only with our alliance. We also probably couldn't commit to more than one 10-man day per week. Before, there wasn't a lot of interest in running nightly heroics or starting a 10-man team because you couldn't really get anywhere with that. However, with extending raid IDs and getting emblems from heroics, this allows us to progress at our own pace, not forcing us into a repetitive weekly cycle. We can actually get somewhere!

Needless to say, I think this may re-energize our guild and lead to a lot more group work, which can only be good. I would suspect a lot of small to medium sized guilds find themselves in the same boat. I know you can make cases about the negatives of the moves Blizz has made, but I'm going to go ahead and side on the positive for these changes. From where I'm sitting, it's a smart move and done well. I just wish they had seen fit to offer the extra server capacity needed for the sudden onslaught of heroic instancing. We wanted to get in and run a quick VH, but definitely couldn't as "additional instances could not be launched at this time". That sort of messages makes me want to set fire to baby bunnies. Granted, that's just plain fun, but all the same...

In any case, we're going back into Ulduar tonight, and I'm really hoping my addons are functional, or it could get messy. Of course this weekend is extremely busy for me, so I won't get to spend the quality time with the patch that I'd like to. I'm hoping next week to have experienced the new PvP stuff, analyzed my DK respec, and thus be able to write about that a bit, so stay tuned if that's your thing. That's where the real changes are anyways. Also, it'd be REALLY nice to get into some 5-mans, maybe even the new one, but some of that may be dependent on servers. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

3.2 Frost DPS DK Patch Notes

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Word on the street is that Frost DPS has become the new dual wield spec. Looking at the patch notes, I'd tend to agree. The problem now is that I don't have two good one handed weapons, so I can't really test this myself. Anyone know of any I could pick up? It's seemed to me that one handed DPS weapons are hard to come by. I actually would enjoy DW though.

Frost fever got buffed which is nice and should increase your focus on keeping that one up especially. I feel like the other changes are relatively minor, a couple cooldown talents were tweaked, but I'll have to play with it a bit before I know what it means for me. Remember, I'm going with more of a PvE and PvP hybrid here (slanting more towards PvP), so my playstyle is probably decently unique.

I don't like the change to Frost Strike, as it was pretty sweet in PvP, but I guess it was probably warranted. PvP saw a ton of changes in this patch, so I really have no clue about how it's going to feel until I've mucked around with it for a month or so. I'm not sure what I'll do with my free respec either, since I may swap around some points and try something different. I'm relatively sure I'll try to stay in the Frost Tree though, because I just enjoy the playstyle I've grown accustomed to.

Anyways, I've copied the pertinent points below. Feel free to consult the full notes elsewhere, I'm just trying to break it up into small chunks and give you an idea of what I'm looking at.

  • Chains of Ice: Now reduces movement by 95% instead of 100%. The main effect of this change will be that targets of Chains of Ice will not have to re-issue a movement command to continue moving.
  • Frost Fever: Damage done increased by 15%.
  • Frost Strike: This ability can now be dodged, parried, or blocked. Weapon damage bonus reduced to 55%, down from 60%.
  • Icebound Fortitude: Cooldown increased to 2 minutes.
  • Blood of the North: Reduced to a 3-point talent. Increases Blood Strike and Frost Strike damage by 3/6/10%. There is now a 33/66/100% chance whenever you hit with Blood Strike or Pestilence that the Blood Rune will become a Death Rune when it activates.
  • Lichborne: Duration reduced to 10 seconds, and cooldown reduced to 2 minutes.
  • Threat of Thassarian: New 3-point talent. When dual-wielding, your Death Strikes, Obliterates, Plague Strikes, Blood Strikes and Frost Strikes have a 30/60/100% chance to also deal damage with your off-hand weapon. Off-hand strikes are roughly one half the effect of the original strike
  • Toughness: This talent now grants 2/4/6/8/10% armor instead of 3/6/9/12/15%, placing it in line with similar abilities of other classes.
  • Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    3.2 Warlock Patch Notes

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    It's official! 3.2 is live! I finally got some "for real" patch notes. I'll be trying to talk about them in chunks over the next few days in a schedule that may look something like this: today = warlock (because there aren't very many), tomorrow = frost DK, Thursday = PvP stuff, Friday = Misc. Depending on how those go, I may combine or divide if it turns into a giant or teeny post. We'll see, but I just wanted to put the requisite "it's here" note up since I know all my readers read me and only me forever and ever or else. *evil cackle*

    Warlocks

    • Banish: Effect will now be cancelled if Banish is recast on a banished target. - Umm, k? Spell check on canceled (minion peeve of mine). I didn't have a problem before... but okay.
    • Dreadsteed: Can now be learned at level 40. - dumb but no surprise here.
    • Felsteed: Can now be learned at level 20.- dumber
    • Shadowflame: The angle of the cone effect on this ability was inadvertently very small, making it difficult to use. Its cone is now the same size as similar spells, such as Cone of Cold.- I'll take it... it was kind of a PITA.
    • Soulshatter cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, down from 5 minutes - This will be put to good use, I promise.
    • Talents
      • Affliction
        • Pandemic: Now also increases the critical damage bonus of Haunt by 100%. - Buff, small but better than naught.
      • Demonology
        • Fel Domination cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, down from 15 minutes.- awesome, now you can "revive" your pet in combat without too much hassle.
      • Destruction
        • Empowered Imp: The warlock's critical hit chance is increased to 100%, up from 20% for the next spell cast after the Imp critically hits a target. - score one for the little guy.
        • Fire and Brimstone: Reduced to 2/4/6/8/10% increased damage from Incinerate and Chaos Bolt on targets afflicted with Immolate, down from 3/6/9/12/15%. - nerf, I guess destro was just that much better. I guess it'll bring affliction and destro more in line.
    All right, that's it for now. Like a classic rock radio station, you just got a two for Tuesday. Hope you enjoyed it.

    Affliction Warlock Gearing 102

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    I wanted to revisit a topic that is probably an old hat for most of us: gearing. By this stage of the game, you have probably done your homework and have a pretty good idea of what stats you're looking for. If you're still unsure, here's the short version of the story: get to spell hit cap as quickly as you can, and then try to snag up as much spellpower as possible. It's really that simple early on.

    Now, I'm not talking about folks who are far down the gearing ladder. Gearing 101 would be for the folks who are levelling or just starting our their lives at 80. It's my belief at that point that you really can keep it that simple. Don't worry too much about hit when you're levelling, but it's good to start collecting it for when you hit 80 and want to start running group things. Keeping things simple = good in my book.

    The point I wanted to bring across today is what starts to occur after you've gotten the basics covered. There will come a point sometime when you're nearing the end of Naxx that you'll start to realize you're not seeing as many "big" upgrades. That is to say, where before you were probably finding pieces that were just better across all stats than your previous pieces, now you're probably starting to see that some trade-offs must be made.

    For instance, perhaps you have a piece drop that will only give you like 1 more SP, but is loaded up on Int and Haste. Or you are debating whether to keep your hit talents to make up that extra 3% when you could just gear for it and spend those talents elsewhere. The point here is that you're going to eventually reach a threshold where "keeping it simple" is no longer "simple". What happens then? If you're like me, you don't really want to overcomplicate things and do tons of spreadsheets and lists and maths. There are some people that love to do that kind of thing, and there are plenty of gear lists out there to consult.

    In my experience, however, I've found that since my playtime is pretty limited, I don't have time to go after all the "best in slot" pieces. I pretty much have to make the best of what drops come my way, and I can't always plan them out in an organized, spreadsheeted manner. So how do we keep it simple in this case?

    The easiest way is to be sure you understand the weights of each stat as it goes towards our DPS. You don't have to do tons of research to break this one down. In fact, I'll give you the link where it's already been done. Nibuca, who has long been my favorite affliction warlock did the maths for us several moons ago. You can find that particular article here. It's one of my faves.

    She does a wonderful job explaining things and I've found that my playstyle and gear levels usually end up being very similar to hers, so I'm choosing to take most of her calculations at face value*. The simplest way to do things is to get the addon Pawn, use Nib's values, and, for the most part, trust the numbers that it kicks out. The addon even lets you compare two pieces. However, I never want to advocate blind usage of an addon, and we should strive to at least have a basic understand of what's going on, even if we use an addon to make life easier.

    In that spirit, lets look at what Nib's stats are really telling us. Pawn basically allows the user to add a weight to each stat, so it can calculate how they go together and give you a simple value for comparison. Obviously, different stats will weight differently in how they effect our DPS. Ignoring the weights everything except for major stats, we get the follow weight relationships.

    Int=0.17, Crit=0.69, Spirit=0.67, Hit=1.5, SP=1.37, Haste=0.77.

    These numbers are mostly arbitrary, in that it's not so important what they are, but whats vital is how they relate to each other. Thefore, we can set a simple priority ranking of stats that looks like this: Hit (until capped)>SP>Haste>Spirit/Crit>>Int, and we can look at the relative weights in order to make an informed gear choice.

    It's interesting to note that Haste is really our second best stat after we're hit capped and is roughly half of the DPS gain that SP is. Thus, if you're looking at two pieces and one bumps you up by 1 SP but the other bumps you up by 3 Haste, pick the haste piece ftw. That's a very cut down example, but it illustrates what we're looking at I think. An addon like Pawn makes this very simple, but we can also keep in mind the relative weights and make an informed decision on our own. It make take a little more work, but at least we know what's going on.

    I mention haste specifically, because I think it is an often overlooked stat for us. It really is that good. Yes, better than spirit. Even with the 1/3 to SP conversion. That is taken into account with these weightings.

    You can apply the same principles to talents and gem slots. If they increase a certain stat, you can check out the ratings and compare your trade-offs. I don't have specific numbers for talents, but gems are a bit easier to compare (Nibs actually gives pawn values for these, which is nice): you just need to figure out what gem you'd like to put in, and then you'll know the stats you're looking at, and it's back to a basic stat comparison. If you, for instance, always put in +19 SP gems, you can just take that on to the other stats when you're doing your comparison.

    I would certainly recommend proper usage of the Pawn addon as well as a perusal of Nibuca's wonderful article, but the point here is that we obtain a basic understanding of what is really going on with these things. Thus, if, say, patch 3.2 hits and stuff gets changed, you can adapt your thinking, find some new numbers on the intrawebs, and get on with (fantasy) life.

    I don't know about you, but I certainly prefer to maximize my playtime... without sacrificing the top spot on the meters of course ;-).

    *Note: Better gear changes these weights because of diminishing returns and other miscellanea. You'd have to download, install, and run (there's a great guide at the Den too)your own Simulationcraft to get your personal numbers. I don't do this, but rather "ballpark" it to try and make an intelligent decision. This is also why I don't blindly rely on pawn. Nibs gives several gear level examples in her article, and the important thing to note here is that the relationships mostly stay the same. In fact, haste seems to get more weight as you gear up. I'd be somewhere around the T7 set curve now, so I should probably modify my pawn numbers, I just haven't yet. If you're going to use her numbers, keep in mind the gear level she's advertising. If you prefer Elitist Jerks T8 values, you can find those here, as they do the same kind of thing with a lot more mathiness.

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Mic Check

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    I did a lot of Aion beta-ing over the weekend, so I don't have a whole lot of WoW news to talk about. Besides, what really IS there to talk about in WoW lately? We're all waiting for this stinking patch, and some people are progressing in raiding, but not a whole lot is going on it seems. Since high school football season is starting, I'm down to only one raid night a week (two if I'm lucky), so my toons are pretty stagnant as well.

    I did get on WoW to do some PvPing this weekend, and it may be just me, but did the Ruin server group get together and decide to take Alliance stupid pills? I mean, I know the Alliance isn't normally the pinnacle of PvP awesomeness, but this weekend we just seemed especially bad. I mean, I lost four Alterac Valleys. We NEVER lose AV. I couldn't win a WSG to save my life. At least we seemed to still keep Strand of the Ancients close. I don't know what was up, but it was like we were just doing stupid stuff at every turn.

    Anyways, I wanted to go with a more general MMO discussion topic today in light of the lack of specific stuff to talk about. Like I said, I did a lot of Aion beta playing this weekend with two goals in mind. First, we wanted to try out putting a Legion together (WoW Guild) just to see how it works. In Aion this will cost you around 11k Kinah (think copper in WoW, but no other tiers of money, so if everything were in copper. Or, if you've been to Mexico, think pesos to dollars). It's looks bad, but it only takes you about a level of questing between three people to build that kind of cash up. Not too bad.

    The second aim was to experience the game with the addition of the voice track. They hadn't added the voices up until now, and, honestly, I hadn't really noticed that they were missing. I mean, something in the back of my mind must of noticed their absence, but I guess in a beta test, I'm not playing critically. That is to say, I'm expecting it to not be completely polished.

    After experiencing the addition of the voice track, it was sort of like a revelation to me of just how important that sort of thing is to the feeling of immersion and the vibrancy of the world. I may not have realized it wasn't there, but I certainly noticed what it added. All of a sudden, I wasn't just demoing some game, I was a character in a fantasy realm.

    I'm not gonna make the claim that Aion's voice track is stellar. If anything, it's probably pretty average as far as those things go, but it's done well and adds a lot to the game. In particular, the voice overs were added for the quest cut scenes, and those go a long way to pulling you in. It's something I would have liked to see WoW do more (random cinematics), even if it's just little snippets here and there.

    So I wanted to ask today: just how important is the voice track to you? Is it something that you're highly critical of? What are your favorite parts of WoW's voice track?

    I have to say, for my part, I think the minion voice track for Warlocks is one of my all time faves. I mean, the random sayings usually still make me laugh. Especially since I've really been questing around with my Felguard for the first time, having specced demonology just for random world questing and fun. Also, if you're an old school Warcraft fanboy like me, you have to love the random run ins with classic characters like the ghost footmen or peasants that have the same voices you remembered and loved in the strategy games.

    "Right-o."