Monday, December 28, 2009

See You Guys On The Flip Side

1 comments
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go... and while I'm not leaving on a jet plane, there will be a lot of hours logged on the inside of a car.  Married Christmas is a lot more difficult than Normal Christmas, on account of necessitating two extended stays with two extended families.  It has often been said that family is both a blessing and a curse, and at no time is this more true than around the holidays.  Sure you picked up your mother's genetic disposition for binge cookie eating, but that doesn't mean you want to make your oddity even more apparent by shoveling snickerdoodles down next to her. 

I love my family, don't get me wrong, but I think most people would agree that Christmas visits are often a double edged Blade of Truth.  Especially when you no longer possess a WoW-capable laptop and there isn't going to be a WoW-capable workstation provided at your destination.  Basically, for us it means that we spend the duration of the visit mostly unplugged.  We'll watch some football.  Eat lots of good food and just generally share good cheer.  There will be awkward moments and I'm sure someone will lose their temper.  That's how these things go, am I right?  Come to think of it, isn't it a little similar to what we experience in guilds?  For "just being a game", WoW bears a remarkable amount of similarities to Real Life.  But tell that to my mother.

My point to all this is two fold.  The first one is a rather deep thought: does gaming make one less inclined to travel?  Is it just me, or does everyone else around here semi-dread any looming trip.  It's not all bad, I mean I still get excited about exotic vacations and relaxing resorts.  It's just that... I have to steel myself because I know I will be sans computer for most of these.  Sure I could invest in a laptop, but hotel wireless is often horrible, and when you're with family, perching in the living room with cartoons beating on each other is sometimes frowned upon.  Unless your one of those lucky people who have converted their parents.  Kudos to you I say.  My mother, on the other hand, is hopeless.  I'm still trying to get her to type with two hands.  Still, she makes a mean snickerdoodle.  And I'm not going to trade a delicious holiday treat for purpled fingers. 

The second point here is that I'll be rather scarce for the next four days.  We plan to return late on Friday, so regular posting will resume the following Monday unless inspiration strikes me or Cataclysm becomes the next Christmas Miracle.  Or I guess it would be New Years miracle at this point.  Sort of like waking up and actually remembering the ball drop from the night before.

So yeah, I'm off for a bit.  I hope you've been enjoying your holiday so far and have a wonderful New Years celebration.  If you're in the Chicago area, that's where we'll be when the ball drops.  Somewhere in the large, windy city.  At this point, I'm not even sure what hotel we're staying at.  I suppose I should print that email before we leave, because who knows the status of the old familial unit?  Oh, and I'll want to back my computer tools that, you know, we all have a plethora of, being dubbed the Familial Tech Person.  Playing Video Games is apparently code for I-Can-Haz-Mad-Computer-Skillz.  In all fairness, I'm often able fix many of the simple, muggle computer problems.

No, Mom.  The USB cable doesn't go in the PS/2 port.  I know that's where your keyboard plugged in before, but this is a new one.  Trust me, it'll work just fine.  (To which she probably responds something like: I don't even care, just get it to work). 

Let's end this little randomriffic foray of holiday musings shall we?  Here's a great article from Nibs over at the MC that discusses whether to use CoA or CotE.  It's a point I've often wondered about and has certainly been in a state of flux what with all the small buff changes going around.  I never know who stacks with what and in what situation the third moon from Jupiter aligns to give us a bonus crit percentage.  It's all numbers to me, but Nibs, as usual, does a wonderful job of breaking it down and keeping us informed.

I, for one, took her advice and started using CotE when not in a group with an unholy DK or a crit chicken.  I actually did a bit of raid testing on this as well.  We were doing attempts on Lady Deathhag last night and I was on mana shield burn duty.  Thus I pretty much stood still and casted my sharded soul out.  An ideal situation to test CoA vs CotE, thought I.  CotE definitely won with numbers mirroring Nibs own dummy tests.  On my own, in raid, I was seeing on average a couple hundred more DPS with CotE than with running CoA.  So I will now be using CotE most of the time.  What's not to like?  It increases our DPS and is easier to keep up.  It also doesn't seem to hurt our Drain Soul ticks at the 25% mark any, so that's an added bonus.

So there's a tidbit of warlocky goodness to savor for the duration of this week.  Try it out, see what you think.  I may or may not be able to respond to comments (depending on the home connection), so feel free to leave 'em but don't be sad if I don't get back to you right away.

And having a Rockin' New Years.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

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Ful: I snuck some dead things in! Merry Xmas, dead things.



Dece: Look, I'm a glowy ornament! Happy Christmas!


Fuubaar: May your days be merry & bright... like my wings of JUSTICE!


Abigora: This thing is cold! *awkward smile* Have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Not A Creature Was Stirring

3 comments
Twas the eve before Winter's Veil, when all through the house
Not a minion was stirring, not even a mouse;
Ful: That's probably because I killed it.
Dece: *giggles*
Fuu: Shh, I'm reading here!
The stockings were hung on the chimney with care,
In hopes that someone would fill them.
Abi: That doesn't rhyme
Fuu: This is the short format.
Abi: I have the real version. 
Fuu: I like this version better.
So we're all asleep, and everything is peaceful,
Then, there was a really loud noise.
Ful: You're making this up as you go, aren't you?
Fuu: Shh!  Let the minions enjoy the story for Lightssake!
Well, naturally I jumped up and ran to the window,
To see what was the matter.  It was my duty after all.
I mean, Protection is what I do.
And down below, you wouldn't believe what I see,
But a dozen pretty reindeer, staring back at me.
Abi: And now you're switching verb tenses.
Fuu: Do you want it to rhyme or not?
Ful: Damn mounts are munchin' on the holly again I see.
Fuu: Shut it.
Dece: *Snickers*
Just as I was looking at these magical reindeer and thinking:
WTF are they doing here, and who's going to take care of them...
Ful: Not to mention the poop.  Reindeer poop is-
THIS BIG RED GUY comes popping out of nowhere.
It was as if the Light himself had created this man, how he shone.
His face was all rosy and he cried in a loud tone:
"On Metzen!" (And some other names I don't remember).
Those reindeer, well they were hooked to a sleigh,
And flying quickly and nimbly they came.
Abi: Oooh a slant rhyme.
They landed on the roof, with much to-do,
And the big-man dismounted and waited a few.
Then he picked up a large magical bag,
(And it was expensive, I could tell,
You can't find it easily at the Auction House, I looked.)
And headed for the chimney with all of the swag.
When I turned around, I was amazed to see,
That down he had come and was looking at me.
Abi: You used that rhyme already.
Fuu: Yeah well, stick with what works.
Ful: This big guy fit down our chimney?  Seriously?  
Have you been getting into the holly too? 
Fuu: Umm, hello?  Magical chimney is magical.  Duh.
Dece: Oh, burn!  Frostbite even. 
Ful: Girl, watch yourself, I'll come over there and-
SO! As we're having this stare down,
He gives me a wink.
Ful: What's he doing winking at my wife?! I swear I will-
AND a smile.
Ful: Oh, it's on big guy.  It's ON.
And he starts to take toys out of that bag he's had all the while.
He said to me then: "It's a good thing those minion are all quietly asleep in their beds.
With visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads,
Or I might not have been able to leave Dusty these new threads."
Abi: That's three in a row.
Fuu: I can count, thanks.
Ful: What the fel is a sugar-plum?
I just nodded, because what do you say
To a man that refuses to allow a chimney to hinder his way?
I watched as the gifts, beneath the tree he did lay,
Ful: And then I made things out of clay, and went to play down by the bay.
And jumped in some hay.  And-
And he told me that: "I would have liked to get Ful something,
But he's been a bad 'lock, so he only gets this Fel Ore."
Ful: Yesssss!
Fuu: *Sighs* You're hopeless.
So then, with his quest now complete, 
He went up the chimney and back into the street.
I watched from afar and from the window I did wave,
And he told me: "Make sure those minions all behave!"
So I gave my word, as any good Paladin might,
While he mounted up and prepared to take flight.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight:
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Abi: What's Christmas?
Ful: I know! It's an alcoholic beverage sold by that wine vendor: Christi.  
Merry Christimas all, let's drink!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Poll: What should Fuu level next?

4 comments
Hey gang!

As you can see, I added a new feature to the blog on the left hand side. I've been pondering for a while about what to do next in the game regarding my alt problem.

Here's the thing, I LOVE rolling new toons. I've rolled a new toon on atleast 5 different servers Horde & Alliance to try out the new starting zones that I've never experienced. I currently have 9 Slots filled on Lothar right now and I was saving that 10th for a Worgen when they drop in Cataclysm. I actually deleted my very first toon a few weeks ago that I didn't feel attached to what so ever (It was a Frost Specced mage that barely made it to 18 before I wanted to throw my keyboard out the window). In her place I rolled a baby human warlock that I decked out in BoA gear. She's kinda fun and I believe that if I stuck with it, I could totally get into it.

here is what my Lothar Server looks like right now:

Fuubaar- 80 Protection Paladin Main. She has an off- spec that is ret. I have a few pieces for T9 for ret but I pretty much suck at it. I very rarely if ever get to use my ret spec so I never really get to practice. Her professions are maxed Alchemy (Elixer)/ Herb gathering.

Abigora- 80 Discipline Priest. She has an off- spec that is Shadow. She very rarely (again) gets to use her shadow spec but when she does, I'm total fail at it because I only run as a healer & dont really have the hit gear for DPS. Her professions are maxed with Jewelcrafting/ Skinning.

Tamedfuu- 62 Beastmaster Hunter. She does not have an off-spec because she's been so on & off. She was the toon who recieved my Recruit -a -friend lvls from lvl 40 to 60. I took her out over a month ago to give her a spin with the new lvls and I just felt so out of it with her. Hell, I was trying to remember how to tame something & I totally forgot. She was shelved after that embarassing huntard moment. I think if I actually did some reading again on a good lvling spec & rotation, I could eventually get back into that but until then she's hanging out in Honor Hold half naked because I gave her BoA stuff to my Shaman.

Uvaafuu- 60 Unholy Deathknight. The only Male toon I've ever rolled before in the game (except for my banker but since he's only a lvl 1, he doesn't count). I rolled this guy with Decedereful when DKs where the new hotness. He was sorta fun to play with but I just didn't feel anything for him once I got him to outlands.

Mavrafuu- 27 Feral Druid. I really enjoyed this toon a lot. A lot of situations needed to be thought out because if I pulled more than one, would I be able to get them down in cat form or would I have to switch to bear form? If I needed to heal myself, I could pop out of cat form & cast. Being able to flip through your forms & make quick decisons was something that brought a lot more to the Questing grind. I'm not quite sure why I put her aside.

Raenillia- 18 Elemental Shaman. She is my first and only twink. I've really enjoyed playing with her and pvp really wakes you up. If I know that I will only have a short time to play wow, I'll hop on her & run a few Warsong Gulches pwn a few newbs and go about my evening. I plan to keep her at 19 for a while and shut off her XP gain. I do not plan to lvl her to 80.

Tylina - 7 Warlock. She is my newest creation. The reason why I wanted to lvl her next was because she is a pet class and is a pew pew only sorta gal. My hunter was the only other class that I could get out of the starting zone that couldn't heal. I've ALWAYS found it easier to lvl if you can cast some sort of heal on yourself. (this is probably also why I hated my mage). I feel that pet classes have a distinct advantage when soloing, Duh right? Have your critter take it to the face while you pew pew or escape while he dies for you. I believe that Warlocks have a higher survivability than lets say a mage just become of this reason. I also took herb gathering on this toon so that I can take advantage of the HoT you get as a perk. This will not only allow me to life tap more often but also save my little human butt if I'm in trouble.

Baggons- 1 Rogue. the hottest banker EVER! Will never leave Ironforge (unless there is a good deal going on in SW). He's carved out a path between the bank, the mail box, the AH, & the guild bank. He suplies all of my toons with what ever mats or items that they require.

Ok, since I'm not at home, I think this is all of my toons on Lothar. So, I lied, I only have 8 lol.

So here's what I want out of my next toon.

-I want it to be a DPS ONLY CLASS! If I roll a hybrid type, I'm afraid I'll probably end up healing or tanking on that toon.

-I want to roll a class that is easy to level solo. I may delve into some instancing on my way up but it will not be the majority of my time.

- This toon should be fun & unique to play. Since I already have a plate tank & a healer Clothie, any sort of DPS would be a huge change.

-I would like to have a bursty DPS type. I've leveled my Priest as shadow but when I'm in heroics that everyone over gears, my DoTs dont do enough dps before the mob dies.

So I ask you dear readers, What do you feel would be the best class for me? Would it be a hunter since it's easy to level & it's already a 62? How about a DK because plate is hearty and melee DPS is quite bursty and is lvl 60 already? A Druid for the ability to adapt to any situation with the ability to heal? Or the baby warlock that has a long way to go?

If you could use the poll and vote for your favorite, that would be wonderful. I would also suggest that if you do vote, please make a comment as to why you voted that way. Also, pointing out useful sorces for that Class would be greatly appreciated.

<3 Fuu

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few Random Links and Thoughts

5 comments
Major patches certainly bring out the bloggers. There is always a ton to cover, and we always want to try and cover it all. And when our own fingers are bleeding and our brains are mush, we resort to links! Yaaaaay link day!

So, yeah, today is gonna be a quick, random post.

First off, Abigore (not to be confused with his namesake priest that resides among us here) over at Shadow Word: Blog has updated his Demonology guide.  I've been using his Meta/Ruin spec since dual specs were first introduced.  I have to confess that I love it.  His guide has done a wonderful job of preparing me to play like a veteran of the spec, and I can put up some very good numbers with it.  I'm not leaving affliction as my main raiding spec any time soon, but for those easy heroics we're all OP'ing our way through right now, affliction isn't the best spec: stuff dies too fast!  This is where a demo off-spec really shines, and if you follow Abi's advice, you'll be throwing our insane 20k soul fire crits and feeling like an AoE god.  Good stuff.

Second, my afflicted inspiration (the original warlockery as far my life in the blogosphere is concerned), Nibuca, has gotten some time with simulationcraft to come up with her 3.3 pawn numbers.  I shall be tweaking mine shortly to match.  Numbers are always dependent on gear level, and Nibs, as usual, appears to be right around the same gear level I am.  If you are having problems spending your fel-loads of emblems, maybe Pawn can help you out... but only if you feed in the right numbers.  Garbage in, garbage out, and all that jazz.

Finally, less of a link and more of a picture, we have this from the land of Atreia:

Yes, that is me flying, and next to me... my pet!  Spiritmasters rejoice!  Christmas has come early for us; our pets can finally fly!  They're still slow, but at least you can use 'em in an aerial battle.  Heck, I even got to test this out, as some jerk was sitting and ganking lowbies right outside of Primium Fortress.  I had gone out just to test the pet functionality and they had mistaken me for a low level toon.  One dead pidgeon later and lesson learned.  Also, pet tested, pet approved: Nom!

Also, if you haven't heard, Aion is having double experience weekends from now until the end of the year.  Log in, kill stuff, get 2x experience.  Merry Christmas.  I haven't been able to take advantage as my weekends have been pretty busy.  Then I haven't been playing Aion during the week because I've been experiencing Icecrown and trying to get my Frost emblems by religiously running the dailies.  As stuff starts to settle down, I'll get back to leveling in Atreia.

There is also a recruit a friend program going on right now where you can hook a friend up with a free trial.  Anyone looking to try Aion for free?  All you need is an email address and some free time.  Which, if you're chain running heroics like every other WoW player, you probably don't have.  We saw someone in all greens and full tier 9 yesterday.  It was sort of humorous.

That's all for today.  The next few days will probably be short posts and maybe even not happen as I get geared up for our holiday travel.  I still have a few last minute gifts to get too!  Yes, bad bad warlock.  :-)

OH!  I almost forgot.  Check out the anniversary quiz/post/awesomeness over at S&S.  There are a few KeS questions over there!  I know one for sure is in my About Us page, as awful and incomplete as it still stands.  Grats to S&S on their blogiversary: job well done!  Here's to many more posts to come!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Raid Gear Enchantment Lists

15 comments
A side effect of the success of the new LFG system is the ridiculous amount of emblems that people are having come their way. The new system makes "gearing up" almost a joke. As Miss Medicina pointed out to me on vent the other day: Hitting 80 today, you could gear up to top end raiding in three days if you wanted. Three "normalish" play days. Not a 36 hour session (but not a single hour session either). Gear is just easy to come by.

Well, with great gear comes great responsibility.  That responsibility is in the form of gemming and enchanting your gear.  Being an enchanter m'self, I've always tried to have the best 'chants on.  I may not always grab the exorbitantly priced epic gems, but I will have the good enchants, by the Light.  Or Shadow, in my case.

Since I'm sure everyone else is experiencing the same Maximum Gear Flow that I am, I figured I'd make a handy little list here for reference.  So without further ado...

[Edit: I will update these for level 85 eventually, but for now they mostly hold true at 80 and for leveling]

Affliction Warlock Enchantment List (remember, spirit is useless)
DPS Death Knight Enchantment List (Nitro Boosts go on your belt now)
Tank DK Enchantment List
Did I miss any?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sharded Bells

1 comments
Fulguralis looked with disdain at all the hustle and bustle that surrounded him in the Dalaran Market District.  Vendors were crying out, hawking their wares, while the throng of last minute shoppers scurried about in the streets.  Like demonic gnats drawn inexoribly towards a fel flame, the crowds always came out this time of year as the denziens of Azeroth prepared for a proper Winter's Veil celebration by finding that perfect gift.

Usually, Fulguralis tried his best to ignore the holidays and continue with his business, unbothered by the varies traditions of the season.  He was most certainly not a Merrymaker.  This year, however, things had change.  He was married, and the demonic realm hath no righteous fury like a wifely paladin left out in the cold during the Winter's Veil celebrations.  Luckily for the warlock, his wife had given him a very explicit list of gifts to acquire for the season.  She was at least honest about his shortcomings when it came to merry-making, and had taken appropriate steps to ensure his compliance with her holiday plans.  It was a very immasculating experience for Fulguralis.  Had he no say in his own life anymore?

Still, if one wanted a taste of the Winter's Veil eggnog, so to speak, one must put up with the observation of other traditions as well.

Fulguralis unrolls the scroll and views the list:
  • For Decedereful - An iPwn.  I think it's one of those Gnomish portable music thingies.  She likes to rock out as she's going into battle.  I hear her singing something about being "Back in Black" all the time.  Maybe you can find one of these at the Black Market?
  • For Dusty - If there's one thing a Ghoul needs, it's new clothes.  They always seem to be in rags.  Visit Talismanic Textiles, they'll know his size.
  • For Abigora - The complete "Schools of Arcane Magic" collection.  If you can find one, I'm sure she'll be thrilled.  The only place I know to look might be Curiousities & Moore.
  • For Berry Blue - Go see Christi Stockton, she'll know just the thing.
  • For Midnight - She requested some new undergarments from Legendary Leathers.  Try not to blush too hard.
  • For Sparkie - A mage chew toy.  Breanni probably has these.  If not, a hunter chew toy will do just fine, though they're not as stimulating for the little guy.
  • For DeeGee - He's always on the go.  Something from Like Clockwork would probably be of use to him.
  • For Spaz - Anything from Wonderworks.  He'll break it in a week anyways.
  • For Pablo - I heard he's taken a second job helping to maintain the Archmage's garden.  I guess he burns the weeds away or something.  He's one hardworking infernal.  Anyways, maybe Dorothy Egan at the Herbalists' Greenhouse will know what to get him.
  • For Fulguralis - I'm sure you want a gift card to the Beer Garden again.  Just... please stop harassing the Brewmaidens.
  • For Fuubaar - I refuse to tell you want to get me.  Ask the Light.
Apart from a rather lengthy stopover at the Beer Garden, Fulguralis had done quite well.  He had gotten nearly everything on the list.  Everything except the gift for his sister... and his wife.  What the fel was he going to get her?

He wandered away from the crowd and headed for the ramp that descended to the Underbelly.  His last stop was to be the Black Market to see if he could get the crazy Gnomish device for his sister.  Word on the street was that the devices were pretty popular, so he might have trouble finding one in stock.  He didn't care who's soul he had to drain, Fulguralis was getting the gift his sister wanted.  It was their first Winter's Veil together since the Light knows when.

The Light.  Ask the Light.  What a silly suggestion.  Like the Light was going to answer in some sort of Elven intermittant latern flashing code: SOS.  Three shorts, three longs, three shorts.  Don't ask him why he knew that.

"Hey watch where you're shining that thing!" Fulguralis belows as a rather seedy looking man dressed all in blue holds a candle in the warlock's face.  "You could have singed off my eyebrows!"

"Apologies, my friend," the crafty looking fellow says.  "I sought only to gain your attention."

"For what purpose?" Fulguralis asks warily.

"To show you this," he says, drawing back his cloak to reveal a rather fiesty looking animal.  The thing was about the size of a bear cub, but was dressed quite oddly.  It appeared as if he was wearing a shield on his head.   "It's a Pandaren Monk," the main explains.

Despite it's oddity, it struck the warlock as being kind of cute.  Certainly something that his wife might appreciate.  She was, after all, the queen of cute.  She had droves of cute little critters in her magical manger back home.  "How much?" Fulguralis asks.

"Well, see, there's the tricky part," the main says with a sparkle in his eye.  "What you'll need to do is ask your maker very nicely for ten dollars."

"What are dollars?" Fulguralis asks.

The man smiles and says cryptically, "Just pray for it, and it shall be yours."

"So you're telling me if I just say some prayers, you'll give me that guy?"  The warlock asks, still skeptical.  He wasn't sure if he was being swindled or not.  I mean, the guy was wearing all blue.  Who wears all one color?  What a weirdo.

The man simply nods in response, a cheesy smile dimpling his face.

"Well, I'll need a bit to think about it," Fulguralis says.  Normally a swindler won't let you leave, and in any case he did need to review the situation for any potential pitfalls.

"I shall be here when you receive your answer," the man proclaims.

"Fine, whatever," Fulguralis says, waving a hand and walking away.  He had a decision to make.  Up until now, he had no idea what he was going to buy his wife.  Yet here was the perfect gift and for a prayer!  Ask the Light, right?

Still, thought the warlock, praying is hard.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3.3 Dual Wield Death Knight Tanking

38 comments
This will be the last of my guides for the immediate future. I try to limit myself only to specs that I'm playing, basically just trying to pass along the research I'd do anyways.  Recently, I've been spending a lot of time tanking (wow, is it easy to get into heroics this way or what?) and I know that there was a good amount of interest in my first cut at a DW DK tanking build.  I have various articles scattered around here, so this is my effort to bring them together in one convenient location, plus update for the 3.3 patch.  Anyways, let's get down to business.

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 8/55/8 spec reflects these. Additionally, I've taken many of the traditional frost tanking talents.

I didn't modify this spec for 3.3; I didn't see the need (edit: I actually did change a few things, see comments below. Still the same basic spec though).  I'm also continuing to go Frost because I love the AoE abilities that the spec gives me.  I don't think I can function without Howling Blast.  Plus, since I'll be DPSing as a Frost, staying similar as a tank helps decrease the retardation of my fingers.  I don't know about you, but when I switch specs, if similar spells aren't in similar places, I'll spend the first few pulls looking like a newb.

In any case, there isn't a whole lot of science or math going into my tank spec.  I just tried to take all the damage reduction abilities available to me.  It was really that simple.  If you, the reader, can see obvious flaws or trade-offs, please let me know in comments because I'd love to fine-tune this spec now that I'm using it more.  As I mentioned in my DPS guide, DK's are still something I feel that I'm learning.

The Glyphs
Secondly, it's important to note that I'm going with the following glyphs:
Disease is a must for AoE pulls.  Love spreading my corruption, even as a DK.  Unbreakable Armor is also very useful as you should be using your tanking cool-downs religiously.  I finally caved and went with Howling Blast.  For AoE pulls, getting the single disease spread quickly is going to be very useful I think.  I'd used both Rune Strike and Obliterate glyphs before for the single target threat, but I don't think ST is going to be an issue.  I'd like to buff my AoE ability and the last major glyph choice does this.  The minors are the same I used for DPS and for the same reason: extending the horn is good, free ghoul is good, and larger disease area is good.  Simple enough, right?

Stats, Gear, and Runes. Oh My!
If you're just starting out, pick up two Teldrassil Protectors from the Argent Tournament, because these are a great 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.  You're looking for defense first.  You need to cap at 540 before doing any sort of raid (535 for heroics, but I would suggest even being 540 here, as most randoms will expect at least this).  After cap, defense isn't completely wasted (a la hit), so you shouldn't be afraid of being over cap, but it certainly devalues quite a bit.  At that poing, you'll really want to start looking at your other stats.  Let's list them out in semi-particular order:
  • Defense (D) - First priority is to hit cap, then if it comes, it comes.
  • Armor (D) - Stick with plate and you should be fine.  Armor should increase as you upgrade.  The point here is just don't go with anything that's not plate.
  • Stamina (D) - You need a good amount of health to absorb damage.  I think I'm sitting around 33k right now.  This will vary greatly with buffs, but this is a great stat to gem for.
  • Dodge (D) - This is a great avoidance stat since you'll elude 100% of the dodged ability's damage.  It's been said that you want to shoot for between 20-25% before you start experience diminishing returns and think strongly about other stats.  At that point I'd choose Parry over Dodge.  Those yellow gems slots are great for this once you're defense capped.
  • Parry (D) - As a DW DK tank, this is a great stat for us.  Our Rune Strike (great threat ability) procs off of parries.  Plus a parry allows us to avoid damage and when we parry, we hit faster (parry/haste mechanic).  So this is a good all around stat.
  • Expertise (T) - This will help your melee hits land without being parried or dodged by a boss.  It's not essential that we get capped as a tank, but it will certainly help with threat generation and is good to have.  It will also cut down on the parry/haste mechanic (it works both ways) for bosses.
  • Strength (T) - Strength will boost your parry AND help your threat, so it's great to have.  If you're balancing your defensive stats above, this along with hit are probably the only offensive stats you should look for.
  • Hit (T) - You don't want to have some of your key abilities miss, so hit is a good thing.  It sucks when a PS or IT misses and you have to waste a second GCD on the ability.  Hitting more will also really help your threat.
I say "semi-particular" because these are listed in a rough priority of what I value.  I also labelled then with either a (D) or (T), indicating "Defensive" or "Threat" stats, respectively.  Tanking is a lot different from DPS, though, as I believe you really have to strive for a stat balance rather than stacking one or two to the exclusion of all else.  You need to be able to withstand a wide variety of attacks, and different attacks will be affected differently by each stat.  Thus, what may be great in one boss encounter may not be all that great in another.  Also, if you go all defense and cause no threat, you're not going to be a very good tank.  So really, you have to evaluate your own performance and stats on a daily basis (or however often you run) and decide what you need to stack now.  This doesn't mean you have to re-gem and re-enchant every five seconds, but it will make you choose different weightings depending on what gear drops when.

You've probably heard 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.  For expertise, 21 is our cap with the Tundra Stalker talent, but racials based on weapon type also decrease this.  You shouldn't worry too much about hitting either of these caps (except maybe the 5% hit one), as the other stats are more important.

Finally, you're going to want to head to the runeforge to get your weapons to glow.   I was ecstatic that Blizz introduced Rune of Nerubian Carapace with patch 3.3.  DW tanks were definitely at a disadvantage for lack of a tailor-made tanking rune.  First thing I did was slap one of these on each weapon.  I've got a healthy buffer on my defense cap, but the stam boost is also good and I'll be able to focus on my other stats for a bit.

The Rotation
Just because tanking is more reflexive doesn't mean that we shouldn't go in without a plan.  As usual, our plan must be two fold: one for AoE situations and one for single targets.

Single Target
The very first thing I try to do here is put on diseases.  After that, I'll Obliterate and Frost Strike as I can, keeping the diseases up. I don't want to FS too much so as to leave myself with enough RP to hit Rune Strike whenever the button lights up.  Remember, Rune Strike is proc dependent (on a Parry), which we should be doing a lot of as DW tanks.  Also, it's one of our best threat attacks. You really should be doing a lot of rune strikes, basically hitting it whenever that button lights up.  Since RS is not attached to your GCD and doesn't really have a cooldown, it shouldn't really effect your tanking "rotation".  Just hit it and go about your business.

An easy way to make sure your Rune Strike is always used is to attach the following macro to all of your commonly used spells:

#showtooltip
/cast Normal Spell Name Here
/cast !Rune Strike

The above macro will activate your Rune Strike whenever it's available and allow you to pretty much forget about it, while keeping it active as much as possible and pushing your threat to untold heights!

Since I have the glyph of Disease on my tank but not the Howling Blast glyph, I do have to pay attention to my Icy Talons buff to try to keep that refreshed for the good of the raid.  I'm not as good about this on my tank as I am on my DPS spec, since I have other, more important responsibilities, but it isn't really that bad as you may not want to AoE in single target situations anyways.  Plus if you have RS macro'ed to IT, you're killing two tickbirds with one key button press.

Multiple Targets
For multiple target situations where you have to hold aggro over AoE attacks and for other reasons, different skills will come into play.  It will also make a rotational approach more cumbersome, as you'll run into some cool down issues and such.  I welcome suggestions on how to weave this stuff together better, but I think it's just how it goes when you're trying for high AoE threat.

A big part of any AoE trash-zerg is going to be the initial burst threat.  With the ease of trash and threat generation in this expansion, DPS have been taught to be impatient on pulls and just open up right away.  As a tank, you'll need to be prepared for this and front load your approach accordingly.  Thus, I lead off with a DnD immediately followed by a Howling Blast.  These spells represent a good combo of both burst and non-burst threat generation, giving you a great set up that usually keeps trash locked on you until death with little or no more threat needed.

However, if it's going to be a longer fight, then I'll try to put up diseases and use Pest to spread them. Usually it becomes a bit awkward with runes at this point, but I usually have enough of a lead that I can use some of my RP dumps to pump up threat on a single target.  I might even jump around with a tab target to spread out some FS's.  After that I just try to keep up diseases and throw in a HB whenever I can, not really returning to a DnD cast unless there is a fresh wave of mobs joining in.  DnD is a great spell, it just takes a lot of runes away.

Speaking of waves (thing Gothik in Naxx), the approach there has to be a bit different as well.  When I know I'm going to be getting waves, I'll just save enough runes to try and keep up my DnD/HB combo with each waves, just mixing RP dumps in between or auto-attacking.  Waves usually die fast enough that the initial aggro is enough, but it can be tricky.

In all situations you'll want to spread out your cool-downs as well.  As frost DK's, we have three we want to be aware of: Anit-Magic Shield, Unbreakable Armor, and Icebound Fortitude.  The Anti-Magic shield is great for when your group is getting AoE'ed or attacked by, you guessed it, magic.  The last two are going to decrease incoming damage in general, so are great to stagger to give you healers a break or when you can anticipate a big hit from a baddy.  They have pretty short cool-downs, so should be used more often than you'd think.  Knowing the tough parts on fights is key as a tank, and saving these abilities accordingly can be the difference between success and failure.  Know what they do, and try to figure out when to use them.   Communicate with your healers.

Other than that, it's mostly a priority system more than a rotation: just try to use the right skills at the right time. It's been my experience that a tanking "rotation" is better off being flexible since you have to react a lot more but is also more forgiving since you don't have to be perfect to generate good threat. You just have to do the right things at the right time and stay alive.  

Wrap-Up
That's how I tank, in all it's gory.  I mean glory.  I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I've done it well enough in both raid and heroic situations to enable the group's success.  This is a role I'm still learning how to play and will be for some time to come.  I usually rely on Fuu for gear/stat advice and just try to adapter her Lighter thinking to my shadowy ways.  It's really an unholy combination.  Well frost, but also unholy.  You get what I'm saying.  (Boy, DK puns are fun).
Thanks for reading and suggestions/comments are always welcome.  Feel free to tell me to l2tank, cuz I probably need to.  Above all, you stay classy, WoW tanking community.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

3.3 Death Knight Frost DPS Methodology

51 comments
Everything you want to know about ("casual") Death Knight Frost DPSery, right here, in one article.  Similar to what I've done with my Affliction Warlock HAOW series, only in one marathon of information.  Why?  Well I just don't have as much to say about Death Knights.  It's my alt.  A raiding alt that I really enjoy playing on, but an alt all the same.  There are subtle differences in the way I treat my alt compared to my main.  Chief among them: I'm not as serious about my alt.  This toon is designed to be respectable and fun, not the top dog.  If I want to /flex, I'll go on my 'lock, but that doesn't mean I want to look like noobsauce on this toon.

The Spec
With that in mind, I went with a 15/56/0 spec

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 useful 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.  You may want to take the points I "waste" there and put them in Virulence or filling up Dark Conviction (for example).

The Glyphs
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.  Also great to spread out the deeps.
  • Disease - One button, one rune refreshing of diseases. Totally a must for DPS as it lets you throw in a lot more Obliterates.
  • Obliterate - If I'm going to be trying to use more of these, it makes sense to buff it.
  • Horn of Winter - Nothing like extending your horn.  Think Hodir-ish puns here.
  • Pestilence - Spread your disease like a bad brothel.
  • Raise Dead - Free Ghoul, 'nuff said.
The Rotation
I'm no where near perfect with it, but when I'm playing well, it ends up looking something like:

IT > PS > OB > FS > 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.  Watch for your procs and try to be flexible.  The more OBs, FSs, and Rime procs you can fire off with buffs up, the better, but don't do it at the cost of running your diseases out.

I know that in the course of my research, it was tough to figure out what DW weapons to use. So here's the easy answer: you want a slower weapon in each hand in order to maximize the damage of your special spells.  Since they're calculated with respect to your base damage, and your base damage is directly relational to the weapon speed, you want two slow weapons.  Why?  Let's say you have two weapons, each with the same "DPS" but one is fast and the other is slow.  In order to equalize the DPS, the slow weapons has to have more damage per hit.  Since specials are calculated on damage per hit, I think you can see why we say "go slow".

A second important pointer here is that there are only two things that refresh your Improve Icy Talon talent: Icy Touch and Howling Blast.  Refreshing the disease with Pest does NOT do it.  Usually, I get rime procs often enough that my HB's keep IIT refreshed, but if I see it fall off, I will do a manual refresh and start the whole thing over.  You may lose out on some personal DPS, but the benefit to your raid as a whole is usually worth it.

I don't really change up the rotation for AoE situations except to use HBs in place of OBs when I can to maximize my damage.  You still will want to put up and spread your diseases first, then weave HBs and RP dumps.  As a DK that's specced into HB, AoE situations really let you put up some good numbers.  A lot of DPSers will throw in a DnD too, which is good, I just always feel like it screws up my runes.  Watch your aggro though, because you can be quite bursty, plus DnD does high threat.

The Stats
Hit (until cap) > Str > Expertise (until cap) > Crit > Haste

Ewww numbers: Melee hit cap is 263 raw (8%).  With Nerves of Cold Steel, we only need to hit 164 (8-3=5%).  More hit will still help, as our spells can go all the way up to 17% before cap.  Virulence helps with this.  Our spells include HB and IT, so after melee cap this stat weight only falls slightly for us, probably being in between Crit and Haste until Spell Capped.  Expertise cap is 26 - 5 (Tundra Stalker) = 21 Expertise.  Different from "rating".  Racials also factor in depending on what weapon you're using, so check that out too.

It's also good to rune you weapon with Fallen Crusader (MH) and Razorice (OH).

Wrap Up
That's it for my DPS DK.  Pretty short and simple, which is how I do my lone raiding alt.  She's a great change of pace and I love to PvP on her, but mostly I raid on her because sometimes I run into save issues on my 'lock or just to knock out old content with newer raiders.  It gives me something else to gear when there's "nothing" in it for my 'lock (really, there's always emblems, but like... I've got those coming out the fel ears now right?).

I'm sure a lot of you could come up with better pure raid specs, feel free to leave 'em in comments to help others out who stop by.  Also, if you're a frosty DK like me, do you roll with the same rotation?  Same basic set up?  This is one toon where I know I still have stuff to learn.

What is your Toon's Theme Song?

2 comments
Since the interweb dog ate Fulguralis's post today, I'd like to bring out the some of the ideas that pour out of my head.

Ok, let me set the scene:

I was driving home from work and I had the radio blaring out to keep my mind off of my hour commute. I was flipping through my XM stations until all of a sudden, one of my favorite rocking out bands came on.

The song begins with Air Raid alarms then it leads into some Drums & Guitar that are crankin the airwaves.

Another mission
The powers have called me away
Another time
To carry the colors again
My motivation
An oath I've sworn to defend
To win the honor
Of coming back home again
No explanation
Will matter after we begin
Another dark destroyer that's buried within
My true vocation
And know my unfortunate friend
You will discover
A war you're unable to win

I'll have you know
That I've become...

Indestructible
Determination that is incorruptible
From the other side
A terror to behold
Annihilation will be unavoidable
Every broken enemy will know
That their opponent had to be invincible
Take a last look around while you're alive
I'm an indestructible master of war

Another reason
Another cause for me to fight
Another fuse uncovered
Now, for me to light
My dedication
To all that I've sworn to protect
I carry out my orders
With not a regret
A declaration
Embedded deep under my skin
A permanent reminder
Of how we began
No hesitation
When I am commanding the strike
You need to know
That you're in for the fight of your life

You will be shown
How I've become....

Indestructible
Determination that is incorruptible
From the other side
A terror to behold
Annihilation will be unavoidable
Every broken enemy will know
That their opponent had to be invincible
Take a last look around while you're alive
I'm an indestructible master of war

I'm...

Indestructible
Determination that is incorruptible
From the other side
A terror to behold
Annihilation will be unavoidable
Every broken enemy will know
That their opponent had to be invincible
Take a last look around while you're alive
I am indestructible (indestructible)

Indestructible
Determination that is incorruptible
From the other side
A terror to behold
Annihilation will be unavoidable
Every broken enemy will know
That their opponent had to be invincible
Take a last look around while you're alive
I'm an indestructible master of war


This inspiring song is from Disturbed called Indestructible. This is exactly how I feel when I enter a dungeon with Fuu.

What song do you feel fits your play style and toon?

(From Ful - I'm unbelievably angry at the workplace firewall right now... It's one thing when you get a post eaten, it's another when it's a guide with pictures and links and stuff that, ya know, takes time to do.  Not that normal posts don't take time, just... you know what I'm saying. F workplace firewalls, srsly.  Look for the Frost DK DPS post tonight.  Tank tomorrow if all goes well.  Then we can get away from the boring stuff XD).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3.3 Protection Paladin Spec

50 comments
Hey Gang!

I wanted to give all of you a break from Fulguralis' "Warlockery" and get in to some good ol' fashioned Tankin fun!

/spits into a spittoon

*bing*

My goal is to do similar posts that Ful has done but in a more "light-filled" way ;)

The Protection Paladin Spec that I will be using for finishing up ToC & coming along with me into ICC is this:



This spec has everything from mitigation/avoidance/high TPS/ & yes even DPS. I know a tank worried about DPS right? Well, the higher my DPS the higher my threat so there! I'm not terribly selfish... am I? Here's the link if you're interested in playing around with it further in Wowhead.

I just respecced to this for our raid last night. Previously, I had a few things flopped around.

Changes (Out with the old & in with the new):

I had 5 Points invested in The Seal of the Pure in the holy tree. I took those out & invested those to get deeper into the Ret tree instead. Taking Vindication (2 Talent points) & digging down to get Crusader (3 Talent Points). I feel that the crit & increase on my overall DPS will really shoot my TPS through the roof while increasing the raid's DPS along with it.

Now, with this new build I'm running with, there is 1 single talent that freaks me right the hell out. Ever since I was a young paladin learning to tank, I was always taught to only invest 1 point into Improved Judgement. If you invest two points, this will decrease your cooldown by one full second & ruin your WHOLE DAMN ROTATION! Knowing this information, I feared for my life and NEVER I mean NEVER invested more than one until I read this:

Improved Judgements - At least one point in this talent is mandatory to maintain our 969 rotation. Note that 2/2 Improved Judgements, while not part of the core, also won't break your rotation.

Link to Maintankadin one of the best resource sites for old & new Paladins a like. Two thumbs up!

Speccing into the retribution Tree was always a headache before I knew this. I throw 5 mandatory points into Parry, move down a lvl, and put my single point into Improved Judgement. Now what?

At least all of that is behind me now :)

Now for the goodies: Divine Sacrifice/ Divine Guardian

Yummy goodness has fallen from the heavens like Hot Hot Manna! Since the change in 3.3 it has now become a viable option for Main Tanks to use it as a Shield Wall for the raid without Dying (or any real fear of it rather) Here's why:

Macro:

#show
/cast Divine Sacrifice
/in 0.5 /script CancelUnitBuff("player","Divine Sacrifice")

Again, I found this gem over at Maintankadin. I would give you the link but I found it once wrote it down, and now I cannot seem to find it for the life of me. If anyone finds this over there, could you please send me the link so that I may put it into this post? Thanks :D

Note: Found the Forum Link. This is the very discussion that went on in my brain. Obviously with less people of course ;)

Regarding what this Macro actually does: If you read the tooltip for Divine Guardian, it says that it will put up a raid wide shield wall reducing 20% of all damage when you activate Divine Sacrifice. The little tidbit that actually makes me *squeee* in Real Life is that if Divine Sacrifice were canceled from the paladin, Divine Guardian would still be active. Meaning, the raid gets the 20% damage reduction & the paladin doesn't feel the incoming pain. Voila! Obviously, you are losing out on the redirection of the 40% of your party's damage but if you are taking a heap of damage from tanking, it's probably for the best that you aren't making the healers sweat.

Last night, I used it a few times. Once during the Faction Champions, once during Anub'arak during the third phase, and once during Onyxia's First phase because someone ass pulled the whelps ;). I asked if the healers noticed any difference ... they didn't say anything. So I'll definitely try using it a few more times & then switch to using the Real thing & see what the difference is. If the healers say anything, then I'll call it a success.

Glyphs:



My glyphs didn't really change. The only thing that makes me sad is the Lay on Hands Minor glyph. Since I'm unable to use it on myself, who cares if its cooldown is only 5 minutes. I've found that I'm mainly using it on a party member now instead of myself. Damn the selflessness! I want the HEALTH! I've found myself hitting it a few times thinking that it would save myself from certain death when come to find out that I still have to wait 45 seconds on my Forbearance. Whelp, there goes Fuu... dead on the floor.

The Crowd Boo's Blizz for their shitty decision to nerf that. This is PVE Retards! Give me back my Oh Shit button!

Ok Now I must attach a warning label to this spec. THIS IS NOT FOR 5-MAN HEROICS THAT YOU OVER GEAR! Let me repeat: This is NOT for 5-man Heroics that you OVER GEAR.

I'm Divine Plea'ing with you (CwatIDiDther?) that if you run heroics that you vastly over gear, you will run out of mana so fast that it will make your head spin. Last night after clearing ToC & Onyxia 10-man, I wanted to run the Daily heroic before I went to bed. It was Hall of Lightning. Easy as Pie right?

Lots of adds means Consecrate, consecrate=mana drainer, 0 mana = you can't tank worth a damn! My Divine Plea was on cooldown for the entire run & I was still runing around 1k mana. Just enough to occasionally produce that annoying "Not enough Mana" spew out of my Toon's mouth. Now, I have it MUCH easier since I'm an Alchemist & I have the Endless Mana Potion that I can use but last night was sorta ridiculous. I started judging Wisdom to ease my mana pains. Still not enough, so I switched my seal to Wisdom and that kept me about even. This does drop your threat significantly so let your party know that you are having mana problems.

If you do find that you run far more 5-man heroics than Raids, then I would really suggest investing both points into more mana returned when healed & mana reduction talents. If this doesn't seem to really cut it, replace one of your major Glyphs with the one that gives you 2% more mana. If this doesn't work, start taking your tanking gear off & replace it with Festive Gear. If your healer asks why you have your Santa Suit on, say that it helps get you into the Christmas spirit.

Once they kick you from the group, No more Mana Problems ;)

Anyways, if you have come here looking for "your spec" I really suggest taking my tips to heart but not as an End all Spec. You know what works for you and I suggest making your tanking spec fit with your playstyle not the other way around.

Please let me know if you have questions or want to learn more about this topic.

Thanks!

<3 Fuu

Monday, December 14, 2009

HAOW: 3.3 Aff'lock Pet Choice And Stat Priority

25 comments
At this point we've covered speccing, glyphing and rotating. That leaves us really with two remaining fundamentals to cover what I would call the basics: Pet Choice and Stat Priority.  Then we'll know what spells to use, what gear to wear, and what minion to call.  What else does a warlock need in life? 

Pet Choice Guide
As with last time when I attempted to create this guide, I meandered over to the EJ forums (I don't have the link, but plan to go back and see if there are updates tonight... then I'll pop the link in here) to see what they'd mathified.  And again as last time, the choice is hardly clear cut.  Before we get into that, let me start with a baseline explanation on how I approach pets.  Copied from my post before, here's my mantra:

Do I always have the "best" pet out? No. Some nights I just run with what's simple so I don't have to think about it. At most, warlock pets are only going to give you a couple hundred extra DPS over the course of a raid night. It's nothing to scoff at, but it's not absolutely vital either. I like to think of it along the same lines as bringing the right elixirs or buff foods. They are things that some would call a "must" to every raid, and they certainly help, but you really have to know your class, spec, and rotation first before getting the most out of those littler bonuses. It depends a lot on the seriousness of your raiding/playstyle.

This guide is going to focus on the pet choices from the standpoint of a deep affliction specced warlock. If you are thinking demo/destro, you'll have to look elsewhere (though some of this may help you as well). What this means, is that we're looking at the following choices of pets: Infernal, Doomguard, Succubus, Felhunter, Imp, and Voidwalker.

We can immediately eliminate one of those choices right off the bat: the Voidwalker. While this pet can be quite useful solo'ing, it is basically a tanking pet, not a DPS pet. It really has no place being out in a raid unless in extreme/strange situations. (I personally have seen a warlock take it upon himself to VW pull every mob in a VoA run, but I wouldn't recommend it).

I'd like to find some concrete numbers that compare the pets, but everything I've seen so far is highly dependent on what talents you're taking and other details.  As such, here is what I believe the hierarchy of pure DPS to be, highest listed first:
  • Infernal -Clear First
  • Doomguard - Close second
  • Felhunter (with full DoT set up) - There is some debate here.  I'm talented to support my hunter a bit, but there also have been rumors that a glitch in how the Shadow Bite works really makes this guy's DPS tank.  I think, for affliction locks, this guy's going to eventually come out on top, because it seems that Blizz is really pushing it as our choice with the love they gave it in 3.3.  If there is a glitch, I'm sure they'll hotfix it at some point, but I'm going to try and keep my eyes open to the numbers.
  • Succubus - Untalented for me, better the FH pre-3.3.  I'm not so sure now.
  • Imp -Untalented for me.  When this guy is talented as in a Destro build, he'll beat both the FH and the Succy.  If you like this guy, talent him up and use him if you have points to spare.
The Infernal is obviously king. Recall, however, that he will only stay out for a short (one minute) period of time. Thus, since we can't choose him all of the time, we must know when to choose him. I find it helps to think of him like poppin' a pot. You're only going to get to do it once a fight (at most), so you want to save it for those critical times when you're trying to beat an enrage timer or could really use the extra boost. The cast is an AoE, so you don't really lose out DPS while you're summoning this guy if you do a good job of working it in when you would be shadow bolting.

Trick of the trade: When the AoE hits, it can stun non-immune mobs. This can be quite useful in situations. Think last wave of the Halls of Reflection.  The Lich King is breathing down your backs and you're, literally, up against a wall.  You've got adds all over the place and your tank is probably crapping themselves. You drop this big guy right on the group, stunning them, damaging them, and giving the little boost your group needed to victory, escaping the LK's clutches one more.

The Doomguard is ranked number two on that list, quite a ways ahead of the rest of the pack. He'll hang around for a solid 10 minutes before running away, so he's a bit more useful. Basically, you'll get him for one whole boss fight. Pull him out before you start and let him do his thang. You'll want to try to use him on fights where there isn't a lot of movement to maximize his DPS. Patchwerk is the textbook usage of the DG. Grobbulus is not. It's pretty simple, but hardly set in stone.

Remember that summoning a DG takes a bit of time and four others to click (one of which will randomly take some damage) if you've done the quest chain to get the Ritual of Doom. Thus, you don't just want to surprise people with this right before a particularly nasty boss. It's probably best to try and do the ritual about a minute or so before your tank starts the pull. It's good to communicate for this guy. Surprise death is never good unless you're administering it personally and purposefully.

Third on the list is the Felhunter. He clearly got buffed in 3.3, but as I mentioned there is some debate about just how good he is now.  I really think Blizz is pushing Affliction warlocks towards this guy and he's long been my favorite pet, so he'll probably be what I run with the majority of the time until I'm able to find some math that shows otherwise. The talent won't help his DPS a whole lot, but will make his buff better. Remember, the Felhunter buffs spirit and intellect, and can be quite useful at times. However, if you have a mage and a priest, their buffs will mostly likely overwrite yours. The buff IS worth it, especially if you talent for it, but mages and priests both buff better. Besides, warlocks are about killing shit, not helping others, right?

Fourth is the Succubus. She won't buff you, but she will put out a solid amount of DPS. She has some good talents hidden in the Demo and Destro trees that can buff her into the prime spot.  If this seductress floats your boat, then by all means bring her out, talent her, and use her.  She also has some minor utility as a CC'er, but I've never found much use for this myself, and it doesn't really factor into my debate for use.

Bringing up the rear is the Imp. This guy does two things that may make you consider using him. First, he'll give everyone some bonus health. This does not seem to stack with the Warrior buff, but sometimes is worth having when you're sans Warriors. Secondly, he's ranged. Sometimes, your melee pets just aren't going to cut it (aka Onyxia), so you need a ranged buddy. That's when you should think Imp.

It's important to note that the Improved Imp talents do quite a bit to help the little guy's DPS. I am not personally specced that way (it's a Destro lock thing), so if you are or want to be, you will probably have to modify my advice a bit. I think he may just take the top spot when talented. Also, remember that he's "free". Sometimes if you're low on shards, that can be a factor.

And that's that. Quick recap for those of you in the cheap seats:

Pet Choice Hierarchy
  1. Infernal - When you need a "DPS Pot".
  2. Doomguard - On stationary, DPS intense bosses.
  3. Felhunter - When you aren't running with a Mage and a Priest, or if you're me.
  4. Succubus - When your raid doesn't need your buffs, and if you talent it.
  5. Imp - If you need ranged or you decide to talent for it.
Stat Priority
The second part of today's article is going to focus on Affliction Warlock stat priorities.  This is meant to guide your gear selection criteria.  I'm not big on gear lists, as I usually just make the best of what comes to me (though I will sometimes pass long my emblem purchase wish-list).  If you're the type that likes to farm an instance to get that Best In Slot item, then by all means, have at it.  Where I'm playing, I can get by with smart choices on not so best in slot gear, and preform admirably.  A simple understanding of stats is really all you need to decide on just about anything.

I maintain that the easiest way to keep gearing simple 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 (still).

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 a good warlock'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 for everything except for major stats, we get the follow weight relationships.

Warlock_T9_55_00_16 Int=0.2949 Spi=0.9831 SP=1.7729 Hit=1.9071 Crit=1.2081 Haste=1.8701 (Edit: Numbers Updated from EJ thread found here.  The notation indicates it's from a Tier 9 geared Affliction Warlock.  This is the top DPS for the simulation run.)

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. Therefore, we can set a simple priority ranking of stats that looks like this:

Hit (until capped)>SP>Haste>Crit>Spirit>>Int.

Recall that spell hit cap is 14% (368) with three talent points in Suppression, or 17% (4--something, I need my notes, but they're at home).  For non-warlocks, melee hit cap is 263, fwiw.  Everything after spell hit cap is completely wasted.  Not like defense or other "capped" stats where it's still kinda useful just marginally less.  Wasted.  As in, you get no more benefit.  Therefore, a good thing to do is try and swap in gems and enchants to supplement your gear and "overstack" as little hit as possible.

It's interesting to note that Haste is really our second best stat after we're hit capped and is nearly equal 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 2 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, better than crit (though crit is increasing it's role as well). 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 tack 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, Cataclysm hits and stuff gets changed, you can adapt your thinking, find some new numbers on the intrawebs, and get on with (fantasy) life.

There are looming changes with Blizz talking about revamping and simplifying the stat system in Cataclysm, but for now, this strategy still holds true.  Personally, I really need to update my Pawn with some new values since I've geared up a lot since I last entered numbers.  I'll need to do some more searching around (*pokes Nibs*) to find some newer, higher gear level numbers.

The good part about the newer Tier Trend is that Blizz is making all of the pieces available and then just allowing you to upgrade them through raiding.  I really don't like the T9 pieces as they seem to be using a lot of their item points on Crit stats, which just aren't that good for Affliction 'locks and more friendly to our Destro brethren.  The T10 stuff looks better, so my goal is going to be 4 pieces of T10 gear ASAP.  With emblems dropping like candy and the new random daily LFG being a smash hit, it shouldn't be too hard to get there.  I'll use the Triumph emblems gained in the process to update my other pieces of gear (trinkets, rings, back.

If you understand the stat weights, it's simple enough to come up with your own "shopping list" for the emblem gear.  I can often be found at the vendors, comparing the boosts from different pieces.  It's not uncommon to find that higher ilvl gear isn't as great as what you already have because of how you're doing your stats.  That's pretty much how I felt about the entire T9 set.  Where'd the haste love go?

Got any questions or comments about these two topics?  Hit me up in comments and I'll do my best to respond, even if it's quite lengthy (see yesterday's comments, ugh).  What else would you like to see as part of my How to Afflict Others with Warlockery series?

*Note: Better gear changes these weights because of diminishing returns and other miscellanea. You'd have to download, install, and run 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 T8 set curve now. If you're going to use her numbers, keep in mind the gear level she's advertising.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Tough Being An Alt

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For once, the dining room table is populated by someone other than minions.  Fulguralis gazes at the faces around the small, circular wooden table in the house he shares with his Paladin wife.  His sister, Decedereful sits across from him, her frosty blue eyes appearing frustrated this morning as she picks absently some dry Flesh Flakes.  To his right, Fuubaar leans leisurely back in her chair, satisfied with the stack of fluffy pancakes she has just devoured.  Across from her, Abigora, the most recent addition to their little coven, sits quietly contemplating a worn tome.

Abigora was some sort of distant cousin of Fuubaar's that had just sort of shown up one day.  She didn't talk a whole lot and seemed to prefer spending most of her time nose-deep in a book.  Fulguralis had asked his wife about the new addition, but Fuubaar had simply and resolutely told the warlock that her cousin was staying with them, and that was the end of it.  Whatever the paladin had been told by the priest was in confidence, and creatures of the Light were loathe to break such sentimental bonds.  Though it frustrated Fulguralis, he knew better than to try and change his wife. 

"Well I feel great!  Better than I have in months!" Fulguralis exclaims, breaking the silence.

"Me too! How about you guys?"  Fuubaar adds. 

Decedereful scowls in response, "I feel about the same."  The death knight seems nonplussed by this whole line of conversation. 

Abigora lifts an eyebrow, keeping her eyes on her tome.  "I feel like singing more often, that's about it," she says simply.

Ignoring bland reactions of the two across the table, Fulguralis turns to his wife and says, "It's exciting isn't it?  I mean I picked up a couple new glyphs, dusted off the ole spell book, and am really feeling stronger.  Plus, we get to work alongside Jaina Proudmoore.  I mean, I don't normally care for mages, but she's got really big..." he holds his hands up, searching for the word. "Ouch!" Fulguralis rubs his side where he wife had just poked him rather roughly with the butt of her sword.

"You were saying, honey?" Fuubaar inquires sweetly.

"Just that she's really powerful.  Big spells, ya know?  Even a badass warlock such as myself has to respect that," Fulguralis shrugs.

"I'm sure that's what you were gawking at last night... her spells," Fuubaar chides.

"What?" Fulguralis asks a bit defensively.  "Oh.  Oooh.  You're jealous!  Ha!  I mean, don't worry, she's totally not my type, being a mage and all.  Plus, she's huge!  I mean have you seen how tall she is? It's freakish!" Fulguralis appeals to his sister for help.

"No, Boy, I haven't," Decedereful answers, clearly annoyed.  "Would you poke him again for me?"

"Ouch! What was that for?" Fulguralis yelps, rubbing his side.

"You've been out chipping away at that damned Lich King while I've been stuck here watching the damn house!" Decedereful grates in her tinny voice before standing up and stalking from the room.

"Man, what crawled up her butt and lived?" Fulguralis asks, bewildered. 

Fuubaar glares back at him, her mood having been soured once more by a blond.  Though she wouldn't admit it, being a creature of the Light and all, she had a deep seated hatred for blonds.  They just pushed all of her buttons.  She, too, stands up and leaves the room, ostensibly to look for her shield.

Fulguralis looks across the table at the book worm, "Geeze, her too.  Is this related to those fabled lunar cycles or something?"

Quietly shutting her book, Abigora stands up and leaves the room on silent feet.

"What did I say?" Fulguralis asks the empty room, standing.

Just then, the room shimmers in and out of focus, but Fulguralis appears not to notice this.  The warlock reaches out and puts one hand on the table as if to steady himself.  Somewhere, deep within the warlock's spell book, a subtle change is made. 

"Whoa, I just got light headed all of a sudden," he says, shrugging.  "Must have stood up too fast."

Walking out of his front door, he looks around for something to vent his recent frustration on.  On the path that runs by the warlocks house, a young hunter strolls by, pet in tow.  Unfortunately for the hunter, his pet suddenly chooses to go chasing after a squirrel, despite the pleas of it's master.  Also unfortunate for the hunter, the squirrel happens to be in the warlock's front lawn.  Fulguralis flicks a hand at the hunter's pet, instantly corrupting it's soul.  The rogue animal cringes and wilts like a flower, falling to the ground with a thud. 

"Hey man, what'd you do that for?!" The hunter sputters, helplessly looking at his dead companion.

"It's fun?" The warlock answers.  " Besides, your cat's been leaving droppings on my lawn lately."

Baffled the hunter replies, "But this is the first time I've been down this path!"

The warlock waves a hand, "Eh, you hunters all look the same to me."

"Well you didn't have to kill him like that!" The hunter yells.

Fulguralis thinks about it for a second, "You're right, I should have drawn it out more."

Disgusted, the hunter stalks away, wanting nothing more to do with the powerful warlock. 

Fulguralis walks over and examines the corpse left behind.  "Hmm.  The spell seemed stronger last night. Curious."  The warlock looks suspiciously at his surroundings as if some strange, unseen presence might be observing him.  "Curious, indeed..."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HAOW: 3.3 Affliction Warlock Glyphs and Rotation

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So we've already covered speccing.  Next we need to talk glyphing and rotating.  This second installment on How to Afflict Others with Warlockery will cover the art of slapping stickers on your spell book, as well as how to spin in circles with enough intensity to cause others to puke (no easy feat, I assure you).

The Glyphs
Previously, I had been running with the Corruption, Haunt, and Life Tap for majors.  Unending Breath, Souls, and Drain Soul rounded out my minors.  3.3 brings more of the same, with one minor exception.  Here's the breakdown.

Majors
  • Glyph of Haunt - Chosen for the simple, spell wide damage increase.  If you're specced haunt/ruin, this one is a no-brainer.
  • Glyph of Life Tap - If you're going to cut yourself, you should do more damage.  That's my motto.  This glyph gives you a nice little damage increase (working almost like a trinket automatically tied to your normal mana-regen spell).  Totally worth it and it only takes a tap, tap, tap-a-roo.  It's all in the hips.
  • Glyph of Quick Decay - The newcomer to the miasma of warlocky glyphs, this should be stapled onto any good affliction warlock's spell book.  Corruption is our bread and butter spell; it should be up on everything; and this glyph is a straight damage increase for it.  I swapped out the Glyph of Corruption for this because I'm still going to get some nightfall procs from talents, plus the DPS increase is relatively minor (maybe around 50?) and easily overshadowed what you're going to get from Quick Decay (anyone have the DPS number for this one?).  I've read that preliminary maths support this.
Minors
  • Glyph of Unending Breath - To swim quicker I guess.
  • Glyph of Souls - I at least get some usage out of this even if it's totally not important.
  • Glyph of Drain Soul - Might as well get an extra shard every now and then.  See a theme here?  Yep, warlock minors still suck completely.  None are really gonna help your game, so just pick what you'll use.
The Rotation
Now that you've got your stickers on your spell book, let's bust open the blasted thing!  As we've come to expect, Affliction Warlockery will continue to be dominated by rotational thinking.  Some classes may rely on reactions to procs, but we are all about premeditated murder on this side of the spectrum.  If you've made it this far, you probably already know that aff'locks are for dots.   That's what we do and we do it well.  So here's the carousel of disease.

Above 25% Health, Single Target
Corruption > Curse > Haunt > Unstable Affliction > Shadowbolt.  Spam SB until a refresh of each disease is needed (monitor them individually with a DoT timer.  Fortex or Xperl is great for this).  Life tap as needed, but try to space 'em out so that you tap roughly once for every two haunts you cast. 

In the past, and if you want to be really finicky about it, I've published the rotation like this: Corr, H, SB, UA, Curse.  The different order is due to mere technicality.  If you're raiding on the bleeding edge, it's probably something you want to look into, but the basic idea is that there exists a mathematically superior way in which to order your spells so as to line them up with the least amount of potential trouble down the road.  This "perfect rotation" has been a discussion among warlocks for ages, and I'm sure it will continue to be.  What it comes down to for me is playability.  I'm not bleeding edge and I'm fair from perfect, so I'm not going to complicate the issue needlessly.

I want to throw up my instant casts first while I'm running into position.  After that, I want to get haunt and my remaining dot up quick in case I'm required to move again.  If I happen to get a nightfall proc in there, I'll definitely use it.  Otherwise, I'll cluster all my shadowbolts together later.  After you get your stuff set up, you should be able to just watch a dot timer and refresh as needed (Corruption should always be refreshed by Haunt or a Shadowbolt, but if you let it fall off, then make sure you get it back up).  Even if I were trying really hard, I realize I would never be able to perfectly line my spells up.  Not matter how I slice it, I'm still going to end up watching timers for each spell individually.  I mean, what if fire spawns under me, then it's all gone to shit unless I sit still and literally DIAF?  No, this way makes sense to me, but feel free to swap up the order as fits your playstyle, what matters is that you use all of the spells mentioned above and keep them ticking the best you can with minimal down time.  How you execute best is up to you to decide.  (I can definitely offer tips and suggestions if you want to email or comment!)

For life tap, I've found that if you use it roughly every two haunt refreshers, you'll keep yourself at a pretty good mana level over a long fight.  In addition, you'll be able to constantly keep the glyph buff up on you.  Basically, the goal is to life tap only enough so that at the very end of a fight you're Out Of Mana (without having any downtime before that) and have kept the buff up the whole time.  Any extra life taps are lost DPS to Global Cool Down.  The benefit to tapping right after casting haunt is that you'll generally beat the fly time for the haunt spell and thus get a nice little heal to offset some of your tap.  Not freaking out healers or wasting the health regen is a good thing in my book.  I almost never succeed in the gold standard OOM, but I'm not usually over 50% either.

Your choice of which curse to use should be between either Curse of the Elements or Curse of Agony. (edit: due to some wonderful research done by Nibs here, the new Rule of Thumb is to use CotE unless it's 13% buff is provided elsewhere: by another 'lock, by an unholy DK, or a Boomkin).  If you're not on CotE duty, then use CoA.  Affliction talents buff this spell enough that it'll be better for us than Curse of Doom.  It's really this simple.  Also, don't forget you have Curse of the Tongues if you're on Crowd Control duty for Faction Champions.  It's a good one to remember for any PvP like shenanigans.  Oh, and absolutely do NOT clip CoA when you use it.  You've probably heard it a million places, but the last tick does almost half of the spell's damage, so you'd be missing out on a lot.  Just try to time your refresh for when it's over.  It'd be better to have a bit of downtime for the spell than to clip it.  (The other dots are not so prissy, but CoA must run it's course prior to a refresh).

Under 25% Health 
The rotation stays the same except at this point you'll want to start using Drain Soul instead of your SB filler.  Don't worry about keeping the Improved Shadow Bolt buff up either.  DS will be doing a hell-ton of damage if your other dots are up.  So keep 'em up.  The only caveat here is that if the baddie is about to die in the next 21 seconds, you shouldn't refresh CoA as it won't have time to run it's course.  Other than that, keep haunt (which should refresh Corr) and keep UA for sure, Curse if you've got more than 20s of battle left. It's also good if you can try to time your refresh casts to be immediately after a Drain Soul tick.  Just look for the abnormally large damage number on your screen.

Multiple Target Situations
If there are three or more targets, you should be thinking "Area of Effect" spells.  Now, this hinges a lot on your tank and the difficulty of the mobs.  If aggro is a problem, or if it is deemed best to down one target at a time (maybe CC is being used, maybe the leader wants a quick burn, whatever), then we'll just do our normal single target rotation.  The difference in this case would be that you might be able to get away with throwing corruption up on the other targets, depending on the situation (the extra chance at nightfall procs is fun).

Also, proper target switching can really help your DPS as well.  Back in the day (which was a Tuesday), when people used to use CC, it was key to know when to switch targets.  Switch too soon and the first guy might not die, or the tank might not be ready and you'll find yourself munching mud.  Switch too late and you're gimping your DPS and taking longer to kill things (which I guess, given the name of the blog, isn't all bad, but we still want to do our job the best we can).  Being dependent on damage over time spells, Warlocks need to be highly cognizant of when to switch.  There is no hard and fast rule, but the goal should be that your dots would have started dropping off the instant the baddie hits 0%.   Thus, if it's got like 5% health left, dropping fast, and you don't have anything to refresh, you'll probably want to get set up on the next target.  Especially if you know you're not going to be able to squeeze a 3 second drain soul tic in there.   The sooner you get rolling on the next target, the less DPS you'll lose.  Switching targets counts as downtime!  Just don't switch before the tank is ready, or leave a mob hanging at 1%, hacking away still at you and yours.

Some of this may seem like a lost art to old warlock hands, and the Wrath world (... of warcraft), a vast majority of your muli-target pulls are going to be simple AoE groups.  I wanted to point out the more controlled, rarer multi-target situations first because it's important for us to know, but lets be honest: we want huge baysplosions of damage.  For Affliction Warlocks, we have two choices: Seed of Corruption or Rain of Fire.  Gone are the days when fire damage was gimped, leaving seed our only choice.  Now, both spells are equally valid choices.  I'm not exactly sure how the new, still confusing, cap mechanics work (they changed this in the patch, recall, to be tailored for a maximum of 10-mobs), but they'll affect both spells equally, as well your spell stats.

It's my belief then, that Seed of Corruption is better damage, but not as easy to control.  The explosion area of seed can often reach outside of, say, a Paladin's consecrate and cause you to get unwanted aggro.  Thus, our AoE spell choice should be highly dependent on the situation.  If the tank clearly has everything locked down and you're not going to get stragglers, definitely make use of seed.  It will explode all over the tank-led dance party and cause you much glee.

However, if you have other adds wandering around, not clearly in the tank's control, use RoF.  It's sized to perfectly fit on top of a consecrate (or DnD), so if you're running with one of those tanks, you should be able to just rain on top of their aura with little fear of pulling the mobs off.  You may have to be careful not to just spam if your gear is significantly better than the tank, but, for the most part, the aura abilities of a tank can outstrip our RoF.  If you're running with a Warrior or Druid tank, just try to center your RoF on them as they lack for visual cues.

Summary
So it's simple: In good AoE situations, use SoC.  In shaky AoE situations (where you want more control), use RoF.  Both will yield good damage results.  If you've got a crazy situation where AoE is probably a bad idea, don't be afraid to switch to your ST rotation (maybe scattering some dots around).  After all, a live 'lock has far better DPS than a dirt napper.  For single targets, get your dots up, s-bolt spam, and refresh as needed.  Make sure to use: Corr, Haunt, UA, and the appropriate Curse.  Under 25%, switch from SB to Drain Soul.  Sho'nuff you'll be toppin' da meters (or at least doing your job). 

As always, questions/comments are welcome and I'll do my best to clarify anything I may have failed at in this attempt at 'splainin.