Friday, October 29, 2010

One Cataclysm Averted

Fulguralis woke up with a pounding headache. Rather, there were voices screaming in his head, causing it to ache. Frenzied voices. Chattering voices. Smooth voices.  Sexy voices.  What is this?

*     *     *

Spaz: Looklook!  He's-baaaaack!
Midnight: Mmm, thought we almost lost you there, Tiger. 
Sparkie barks happily at his master.
Berry Blue: Smoooth move, killin' the LK, man. TBC is really pissed off now.
Deegee: Dude, that was fly as fel.  Totally legit.
The minions stand around Fulguralis roughly in a circle, glowing green line crisscrossing the floor, connecting each of them. 
Fulguralis: What are you talking about?
Spaz: YouyouYOU!  You-keel-King-of-Liches!  You-LichedtheLich!
Midnight: I believe what he's attempting to inform you of is that you gave that Arthas fellow a sound whipping.
Deegee: Fo'shizzle.
Berry Blue: Man, you're so Red right now.
Deegee: STFU Berry Ballsack.
Berry Blue: Don't make me come over there.
A sharp pain causes Fulguralis to gasp.
Fulguralis: Shut up! You two are giving me a headache.
Midnight: Well, I should think so.
Fulguralis: Huh?
Midnight: We are in your head, as it were.
Fulguralis looks down, noticing for the first time that he is all in black, floating in the center of the shape made by the lines in the floor.  From above, it is seen as a pentagram.
Fulguralis: My head?
Berry Blue: Where else you think we be chillin' when you ain't lettin' us out?
Deegee: Yeah, dawg.  You tell 'im.
Berry Blue: Can it, Reddy.
Deegee: Whatevs.
Fulguralis looks around at his minions, and the hazy chamber that is, apparently, his mind.
Fulguralis: So, why am I in here and not... out there?
Midnight: Sugar, you took a swan dive off the platform of the Frozen Throne.
Berry Blue: Yeah, plus you were bleedin' somethin' fierce.
Fulguralis: Am I dead then?
Spaz: NonoNO!  Not-Dead.  If-you-were-dead-thanwe-would-notbe-stilhere.
Midnight: Surprisingly coherent for the little guy.
Spaz: I-havemy-moments.  Zoom-zoom-zoom! Gogogogogogogo!
Deegee: WTF, dude.
Berry Blue: Chill.  We'll be back in the act soon enough.
Fulguralis: What do you mean?
Midnight: It's quite simple really.  You cause enough pain to someone and their mind fractures.  Warlocks are especially vulnerable.  
Fulguralis: So my mind is broken?
Deegee: Nah dude.  Check it.  Does it look busted to you?
Deegee gestures vaguely at the four walls of the room.  There don't appear to be any cracks.
Deegee: We had to hold this bitch together, ya know what I'm sayin' brah?
Fulguralis: No, I really don't.
Berry Blue: It's like this, you crack up, we get tossed back to the fiery pits most of us cats call home.
Midnight: Right, it's decidedly more pleasant here, even if we have to put up with you.
Berry Blue: You wouldn't believe how many blokes be tryin' to get in on this gig.  Hell, while we were shoring things up, they damn near pulled the ole switcheroo on us.  We weren't too sure we was gon' make it back in time.
Midnight: Lucky for you we decided the pain was worth it.  Mmmm, pain. 
Spaz: And-the-candy! Ohsomuchcandy! Candy-candy-candy!
Deegee: And brewskis.
Sparkie yips happily.
Midnight: He said, "and mages."
Fulguralis looks at each in turn.  It was odd to see them so happy.  His near death experience must have been quite a scare for them.  Not that he was thinking too fondly of his minions, mind you.  Just well, um... 
Fulguralis:  So, ah, how do I get out of here so that we can all just get back to the way things were?
Berry Blue: Just wake up.
For some reason, to Fulguralis that last bit came as a growl out of his minion's mouth.
Fulguralis: What was that?
Midnight: Wake up
A growl again.
Spaz: Wake up.
Deegee: Wake up.
Sparkie:  Wake up.
Did Sparkie just talk?

*     *     *

"Wake up," the voice growled again.

Fulguralis's eyes snapped open, and he found himself staring directing into the - muzzle - of a wolf.  Big teeth glistened in the moonlight.  So many teeth.  Yet, strangely, they didn't continue downward to devour his face.  

"There you go," the creature spoke, and, even more oddly, smiled.  It grasped him around the shoulder and helped the Warlock into a sitting position. 

"Who - what - who, are you?"  Fulguralis asked.

"Call me," the creature said, pausing for a moment, "Mr. Wow."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

DK Specs, Fuu's Debut, and 310% Flying Cheap(er)!

The above represents perhaps the most auspicious title I've ever had around here.  I mean, usually I stick with one topic, or go with some form or "Randomness is Random" title.  Here I have three distinct, and pretty much unrelated, writing points.  Could be crazy.  You've been forewarned.

Why am I rambling about the title?  Well, as you may have surmised, the title is generally what draws people in.  Also, it makes for easy search and find via a service like Google.  That's why for information that I want to get out to more than just the regulars, I tend to have a more mundane heading.  People search for things like "4.0.1 class spec", and not "Ful's Cavalcade of Hilarious and Insightful Talent Spending."  Not that I'm in any sort of position to give other burgeoning bloggers advice... it's just something to keep in mind as we go into Cataclysm and are looking to get helpful information in the hands of the people looking for it.

With that said, no one is likely to search for "Fuu's Podcast Debut", so what's that doing in there?  Well, she mentioned it earlier in the week, and it's now up!  For you tanky types out there, I'm sure it's worth a listen.  I haven't even gotten to hear it yet, so I'll be perusing it with the rest of you when I get a chance to hit up the link.  There is a link right?  Yes, I'm sure and I'll pop it in here as soon as someone can get it to me at work (I'm, of course, blocked), or we find it at home tonight.

edit:  There were a few issues with the podcast being available on iTunes. It finally showed up. Here is the link to his website at The Guardian Tank. I believe that it starts working with your main media player (Quicktime, Windows Media Player, etc.) If you would like to download it directly to your iTunes or Zune, you can search for the Program; The Guardian Tank. The Episode is called: Tanking Mastery 3 (Master Tank: Fuubaar). Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns, issues finding/ downloading. <3 Fuu

Fuu is the podcast queen.  If there is a podcast, she's probably listened to it.  I, on the other hand, am terrible about listening to podcasts.  It's probably why I've never been invited to one. I've tried, I really have, but I'm just a reader through and through.  I love talking to others, but just listening is like torture to me.  I want to interact!  Moral of the story: direct all podcast questions to Fuu.  I'm just the odd scribe she lets out of the dark cupboard under the stairs every now and then.

If you're here for the prospect of 310% flying at a discounted rate, I have great news.  Commenter "Ben" tipped us off last week that you could potentially get the required training for a much more modest 4k gold at Valiance Keep (for Alliance, Horde I believe is in Warsong Hold or something).  Of course, the discount comes from having an exalted reputation with the folks out there.  I know it's one of the Wrath groups, not sure which one though.  I earned exalted with all of them through the Argent Tournament a while ago.  In any case, there is a trainer right next to the flight point in Valiance Keep that will give you the same training as the dude in Dalaran, only with a 1k discount if you're exalted.  Totally a deal, and got me my 310% perhaps two weeks earlier than I'd thought at the rate I'm going.  Big thanks to Ben for the great tip!  

Finally, if you're here for DK specs, I've been a bit busy with Warlocky stuff and haven't really gotten to spend much time with my alt-DK.  I have, however, worked out some preliminary specs.  I've only used the DPS one in game so far, running around doing some dailies.  I'm rather scared to try out my tanking now that I have to go to a whole new tree.  Plus, I still only have DW weapons and there really isn't a DW tanking option.  I suppose you still can (and I will until I lock down a solid 2H weapon), but it's not nearly as cool or "niche" as it once was.  In any case, I wanted to pass along the links for both of these specs for any interested parties.  I'm definitely looking for feedback and will be updating those guides in the upcoming weeks as well.  Warlockery comes first 'round here, but I don't plan to abandon my PvP toon and alternative tank.

Preliminary 4.0.1 Death Knight Tanking Spec Here.  Some notes:
  • Talents were hard for me to pick here, seemed like there was a lot of good stuff.
  • I focused on things that would give me survivability (not worried so much about threat right now).
  • Blood Boil could be a great AoE spell for us (as opposed to relatively trivial before).
  • Epidemic seems important to me to pick up.
  • Since I specced for survival, I tried to glyph more for threat.  Seemed to work out best.
Preliminary 4.0.1 Death Knight Frost Dual Wielding DPS Spec Here.  Some notes:
  • I've yet to really figure out a rotation, it seems like I'm constantly rune starved.
  • I made this spec with PvP (BGs) in mind.  Thus, some of the talent choices reflect that.
  • Glyphing seemed easier or this than the tank, just buff your DPS.
  • Diseases seem to last a heck of a lot longer, plus we have that new strike that refreshes them.  I've not been able to fit it all together nicely yet, but haven't had a lot of time to spend with it either.  Advice appreciated.
I don't usually get to do nearly as much research for my DK as I do for my 'lock.  It's just the way things go.  Still, I wanted to post up my spec plans with the hope of getting feedback.  At the very least, I think they're good starting points.  Death Knights saw a huge amount of change with the 4.0.1 revamp, so it's going to take me a bit to get my mind around them all.  It just doesn't feel very smooth right now, but that could simply be due to lack of practice as well.  I hate feeling clunky, don't you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HAOW: 4.0.3a Aff'lock Pet Choice And Stat Priority

At this point we've covered speccing, and will soon cover glyphing and rotating. That leaves us really with two remaining fundamentals to cover what I would call the basics: Pet Choice and Stat Priority. With so many minions at our disposal, it's important we know how to use them in the correct situation to maximize our effectiveness.  Also, it's imperative that we understand what changed with stats in 4.0 if we have any hope of gearing correctly come Cataclysm.

Pet Choice Guide
As usual when creating guides, I find myself wading through the EJ forums to see what they've mathified.  And, also as usual, the choice is hardly as clear cut as some might have you believe.  In fact, there seems to be little in the way of new information.  DPS-wise, minions appear to have been left relatively in tact by the 4.0 patch.  Before we get into that, let me start with a baseline explanation on how I approach pets.  Copied from posts 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 (as affliction) 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 the Affliction 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: Succubus, Felhunter, Imp, and Voidwalker.  The Infernal and Doomguard are still with us, but they don't replace a pet, come our for 45 seconds, and share a 10 minute cooldown.  Thus, they're almost more of a trinket pop than anything else right now.

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 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 - First for AoE situations.
  • Doomguard - First for Single Target situations.
  • Succubus - Especially if you pick up the low hanging fruit (talent) in the Demo tree.
  • Felhunter -However, remember what he may lack in pure DPS... he does provide a buff.
  • Imp - Untalented for me.  When this guy is talented as in a Destro build, he gets a lot better, but I'm inclined the let the Destro's have him. 
I mentioned about the Infernal and Doomguard, but I continued to list them above just to give an idea of where they stand.  For their short duration, they will provide a significant DPS boost, and they won't replace our regular minions.  It's really a win-win.  Thus, we must know when to call them forth. I find it helps to think of them like poppin' a healthstone. You're generally only going to get to do it once a fight, 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.  Using it during a Heroism: perfect.  Makes the decision simple.  If you don't have a Heroism, just use your big warlocky brain.  Try to make sure you bring them out so that they get the full 45 seconds of fight time, but otherwise, it's always going to be a boost. The cast is instant now, so you don't really have to worry too much about mucking up your rotation.

Trick of the trade: When the first AoE hits for the Infernal, 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.

For the regular minions, I generally run with the Felhunter. With the addition of Demon Soul to our arsenal, I've found that this pet synergizes the best with my Affliction playstyle.  I believe the Succubus may still take top honors in a pure math contest, but in my comparisons, the Felpup is better.  Since the Demon Soul benefit for your pup is a straight bonus to DoTs (as opposed to a bonus to shadowbolts), I think it makes sense.  I'm probably not the best S-bolt weaver, but, by the Shadow, my DoTs shall run uninterrupted!  Thus, you can consider me a Felhunter guy.  The Succy can be useful for solo'ing with her CC utility, which I've made extensive use of, but if I'm in a dungeon or raid, the Felpup is coming out. 

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 air phase), 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'm not sure he overtakes a talent Succubus, but I haven't gotten at any concrete numbers yet.

Also, recall that all pets are "free" now.  No longer do we need to watch our shards when having "learning" nights, still only to be left at the whims of our Imp.  Hoorah!

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

Pet Choice Hierarchy
  1. Infernal - When you want a quick AoE boost.
  2. Doomguard - When you want a quick single target boost.
  3. Felhunter - When you aren't running with a Mage and a Priest, and if you find it works best with you Affliction playstyle.
  4. Succubus - When your raid doesn't need your buffs, especially if you talent/glyph 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 along 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 that got me started down the road to simplicity. Nibuca, who has long been my favorite affliction warlock did the gruntwork for us many moons ago. You can find that particular article here. It's one of my faves (still and still).

She does a wonderful job of explaining things, and I have found using a similar method to be very effective. The simplest way to get started, in my opinion, is to get the addon Pawn, use "good" 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 understanding of what's going on, even if we use an addon to make life easier.

In that spirit, lets look at what the 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 weigh in differently for how they effect our DPS. Ignoring the weights for everything except for major stats, we get the follow weight relationships.

Warlock_Affliction_PreRaid   Sta=0.0262  Int=2.9937  SP=2.4187  Hit=1.5690  Crit=0.9617  Haste=1.2767  Mastery=0.9037

I pulled the numbers from the EJ simulation thread found here for 4.0.3a.  The author indicates it's from a "pre-raid" geared Affliction Warlock*, and this was the simulation run that most closely mimics what I believe to be my spec.  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) > Intellect > Spellpower > Haste > Crit > Mastery >> Stamina.

Recall that spell hit cap is 17% raw.  Mousing over the stat in your character screen now not only gives you percent, but also lets you know what your misses will look like at the next three levels (important for raiding).  For Affliction Warlocks, we want 17% straight up.  That'll let us hit everything we need to hit.  For non-warlocks, melee hit cap is 8%, 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, or reforge to supplement your gear and "overstack" as little hit as possible.

It's interesting to note how far Spellpower has fallen.  It used to be our best stat.  Now, you want to hit up Int (and all the stats in between) first.  Also note that Int is nearly double Crit for Aff'locks.   Thus, if you're looking at two pieces and one bumps you up by 1 Int but the other bumps you up by 2 Crit, you would get nearly the same DPS gain out of each piece.  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.

Haste is a neat case too.  DoTs have changed how they use haste so that now you have certain "plateaus" of increased damage.  The scaling goes up in a stair-step look rather than a smooth line.  Check out this great post from Cynwise for a lot more (wonderful) information on this phenomenon.  The short version, though, is we'll probably shoot for a certain amount and tweak other stats once we get just over that stair step.  I'll try to follow up with that number when it solidifies.  For now, you're not going to having anything bad happen by stacking haste as usual.

Finally, it's important to note that Spirit does not show up on that list.  It is now, officially, worthless to us Warlocks.  Dump it.  Regem it.  Reforge it.  Do whatever you need to do to get rid of it.  Sure it might help with mana regen, but due to stacking Int we should have a huge pool, and we always have Life Tap.  Spirit stacking is to Warlocks what melee attacking is to Hunters.  Just don't do it.

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 (Pawn does this for you based on what's in-game): 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.

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 this sort of breakdown.  Thus, we should always be able to find our way in the dark.

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. 

*Note: Better gear changes stat weights because of diminishing returns and other miscellanea. You'd really have to download, install, and run your own Simulationcraft to get your personal, perfect 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 or BiS lists: to some extent gear choices will not always work the same for everyone, though we can pretty much all end up in the same place.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tanking Mastery Podcast!

Hey gang!

I'm extremely excited to inform you that I will be a guest host tonight on a top notch Podcast specificially aimed at tanks. It is called, "Tanking Mastery"!

The host, Eldoric, first started doing, "The Guardian Tank" segments on the infamous podcast, "The Instance" for a while when he got a ton of positive feed back and created, "The Guardian Tank Podcast". This podcast is focused on Tanking 101 type stuff and Eldoric asks for people who are new to tanking to come on and be a listener host and ask questions. Really great stuff!

Since "The Guardian Tank Podcast" became so popular, he made a branch of the podcast to focus more on higher level tanking (perhaps a level 400 class?). "Tanking Mastery" is still a pretty new show (only two other shows have been published) but I'm extremely pumped to be a part of it!

Sadly, it is not a live show so you dear readers cannot come to mock my noobishness in a chat room ;-)

When it becomes available for download, I will let you know. I encourage you to give it and all of the Happy Nerd Media podcasts a listen especially those of you who are tanks, want to know more about tanking, or those of you who have no clue wtf your tanks are doing...

Wish me luck tonight!

<3 Your Friendly Neighborhood Fuubaar

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Points of Interest

I actually played a felton over the weekend. A metric felton. I got dailies, got HH runs, got WG runs and dailies, hit up a few BGs, and even had time to finish up my the last "Classic" achievements in my bucket list (Classic Dungeonmaster and Argent Dawn Exultation).  All around it was time well spent.

I also picked up an addon called Auctionator at the behest of the Fuubaar.  With Auctioneer being out of commission at this time and me putting my little toes in the AH waters to see if I can tolerate it (since it is the best way to make money), she badgered me enough that I finally caved.  I'll be giving in the ole college try this week, but I hear it makes posting relatively brainless.  You tell how much you want to undercut, and it does the rest for you.  We'll see.

I'm actually fairly close to the gold mark I need to get 310% riding on my main toon.  With the addition of the fishing daily to my ICC dailies, I average almost 150g/day for an hour spent.  If I get a valuable reward from the fishing daily (nabbed a Str gem the other day), then the profits rise (sold it for 100g).  It's not the most efficient way, I know, but it's pretty solid for a small daily commitment (and not having to worry about "finding a niche").

The decision to top off my Argent Dawn rep came directly from my runs to finish off the Classic Dungeonmaster achievement.  I'd been wanting to take a day and knock out that achievement for a while, since a lot of those dungeons are going to change.  I'd actually done many of them before, but it was so long ago that I'd not gotten credit.  Stratholme was one such instance.  It's also a big one to farm for a mount/rep.  Thus, Fuu came with me on the off chance of a mount to drop (she gave the mount a good 20 runs a while back before deciding luck was not with her... it apparently drops about 1 in 420 some-odd runs, so she was pretty sure it'd land on her 421st run).  In any case, she had the route down for a quick clear, but what we didn't realize was how freaking efficient low dungeon running is with a Demonology Warlock in tow. 

You see, if you're specced for it (which you should be), you have mobility-enabled Hellfire.  This spell is absolutely killer for old instance farming.  Especially with Fuu on her Priest.  She would toss me a hot and off we'd go.  I'd just keep hellfire up and we'd literally run through the instance.  No stopping.  No looting.  Just running.  Efficient as hell for rep (and getting to the final boss quickly).  It probably took me 15 minutes to run the dead side of Stratholme, netting about 1500 rep in the process.  Hence why I decided to just top off the AD rep.  I did stop to loot the Corrupter's Scourgestones off of the bosses for the rep turn to speed the process even further.  There are 6 big guys that drop a Corrupter stone every time, and each stone turn in nets you about 150 rep (more if human).  Thus, it didn't take long to finish out.

Which brings me back to my newfound love of all things Demo.  I've been spending a lot of time playing in the spec.  Lack of raiding combined with the pure pleasure that is Demo right now has contributed very directly to a marked absence of Affliction experience.  I don't want to update my rotation stuffs until I actually get to give it a good, raiding test run, so I may try to work on my Demo stuff this week.  We'll see how it goes.  A business trip may or may not get in the way.

For now, I wanted to point you at Abi's great post here.  I will likely be regurgitating a lot of what he says and does (and, fwiw, have come independently to a lot of the same conclusions that he lays out).  I'm also planning to take a closer look at Affliction stat weights later in the week.

To wrap up this randomness, I wanted to post a rather striking screenshot.  I took it during my random travelings to get all my dungeons wrapped up in the old world.  I'm sure we've all noticed the new water texture, but have you seen the sun's rays?  And then seen them combined?  It really is quite breathtaking, and really makes me excited for the landscape changes in Cataclysm proper.  If they give every bit of texture a similar facelift... we'll it really will be like Warcraft 2.0.  Check it out.

I'm a sucker for sunsets on the beach.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Time's A Charm

So I took my DK for a spin yesterday for the first time.  I'll follow with a spec post soon, but I've been basically trying to do the Headless Horseman every day.  I mean it's a quick 20 gold, right?  Then I remember I had an 80 alt, might as well run it twice.  Apparently, I had never run HH on my DK before.  So the achievement said.

Then a second achievement popped up beneath it.  One that was completely unexpected.  I guess the first time is a charm?  (Amazingly, two of us got the elusive reins at the same time.)  Afterward, I decided to terrorize the skies some on my new mount.

Ful is quite jealous of his little sister.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

HAOW: 4.0.3a Affliction Warlock Raiding Spec

Time to update my series, How to Afflict Others with Warlockery, for 4.0.3a.  As I get to them, they will cover such basics as speccing, glyphing, rotating, petting, and gearing.  Some of those may sound dirty, and they are, but not in the way you think.  As usual, the best place to start is with the spec, so off we go on the HAOWay to Hell...

The Spec
The most recent simulations preformed over at the Elitist Jerks forums point to our Affliction Warlock spec being the top dog, raid wise (at a T11 gear level).  However, the simulation also reveals an exciting parity amongst the specs that really hasn't been seen before.  It really does seem like all three trees are almost equally viable.  Having said that, it's never really been a choice for me: Affliction is my bag, baby.  As such, the spec I'm using at 85 is 32/1/8, a variation of the "affliction" spec in the simulation. 

Here's a picture for those of you that might not be able to access the link:

The affliction tree is loaded with all sorts of goodies, and I'm not going to break down each individual talent as they all seem pretty self-explanatory to me: pick the ones that increase damage.  Feel free to leave a question in comments if you have one, but most of them give very straight forward damage increases to our staple spells.  With the new, pared down tree system, we start by putting 31 points into the affliction tree to get Haunt and open up the other trees.  We end up putting most of the remaining points into the Destruction tree. 

I skipped the two fear modifier, because I don't find them useful (the glyph is enough), and I didn't pick up Curse of Exhaustion for the same reason.  The only points spent on a talent that didn't obviously buff damage was in Improved Life Tap.  You'll need to spend those points somewhere in order to advance the tree, and I figured more mana returned translates to less tapping, hence a DPS increase. 

I used one discretionary point to fill up Seed of Corruption talent (1/1) and also topped off Nightfall (2/2).  I also chose to fill up Shadow and Flame before Bane because of group make up.  You may want to do it the other way around, as Bane is probably the better talent for personal DPS, with S&F being better for a group if you don't already a similar buff (replacing Improved Shadow Bolts).  Eventually, you'll want to fill up both talents though.

I also dropped my last point into the Demonology tree.  First time ever that I've done that.  There wasn't anything that would immediately help my DPS at that point, so it seemed like a good idea to get the extra stamina and make myself a bit more hardy.

The pared down trees really make it easier to hone in on a spec.  I wouldn't call this "cookie cutter", by any means, but there are only a handful of points that can be juggled around.  Mostly, that juggling can be done based on preference and situation.  This is what I'm going to be using for raiding, feel free to leave your own suggestions.  Once we all start leveling in Cataclysm, I'll revisit this and update it again, but I wanted to get it up and linked on the left side.  Thanks to everyone who gave me input on my first cut at the spec, it really helped to clarify a couple of choices.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

QOTD: I Need 5k, No Donations Accepted

That title sort of rhymes if you say it out. Unintentional, I assure you.  I'm going to keep today's post short and spec-free, as I work to update my guides and try to get some time with my DK so I can talk somewhat competently about that.  I have a rather simple question, but I will need to tack on some modifiers after I ask it.

The question:
What is the best way for me to get to 5k gold?

I want to purchase the 310% riding and need about 3k to get there.  Now, I've never been a money maker.  Crafting, Auction Housing, and Farming is not my thing.  I've always simply made my money through questing.  I'm pretty frugal, choosing to gather whatever I need for upgrades and then coercing guildies to help me out.  It's a big help that my wife enjoys the whole profession scene, so she's got just about everything I don't have.  Personally, I have max level Tailoring, Enchanting, Mining, and Engineering across two toons. 

However, like I said, I'm not a farmer.  Nor am I a crafter.  Nor am I an AH playa.  I would much rather kill 15 Icecrown mobs than farm 5 pieces of ore.  Currently, I just hop on every day and do the ICC dailies.  It nets me a little over 100 gold, plus crusader tokens, and I'm not unhappy with it. I mean, it only takes me about a half hour to make 100 gold.

So why ask?  Well, generally I shoot to play for about an hour each night.  Some nights are more, some not at all, but when I play it's usually at least an hour.  I think that's the ideal amount of time to just be able to knock out something simple and unwind.  If doing the ICC dailies takes me only a half hour, what do I do for that other half hour?  Thus, my question.  I'd like to make 200 a night or more, averaging about 100 every half hour.  Is there a better way for me to do this? 

I want the money to be pretty steady too.  Recently, Fuu took me on a farming trip into Zul'drak, which could be pretty lucrative if you want to sell the coins from there.  We pooled out loot and she put it up on the AH.  Then the bottom dropped out of the price over the weekend, so most of them still haven't sold.  She's keeping on it, but even if they sell for a couple hundred, the aggregate time involved in both farming and selling these has begun to add up.  Plus, if she weren't doing it, I would hate every moment of it.  I'm just not a big fan of trying to do rudimentary market analysis in a video game, even with addons.  I'm not saying it's awful, it's just not my thing.

So I guess what I'm asking is:
What are some fun ways of making money?  Have you found a lucrative quest hub apart from the ICC dailies?  How are you planning to get to 5k (if you don't have a 310% mount already)?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preliminary 4.0.1 Demonology Spec

As we continue deeper into patch 4.0.1, I've found that it's time to deal with my second spec for my Warlock.  Traditionally, I've gone demo, and this shall be no different.  I love having a more utility/survival oriented off-spec for times when just killing isn't enough.  To be honest, my demo spec is the one I prefer to run around the world in, doing dodgy quests and the like.  It's just so much fun to round up stuff, pop demon form and Immolation Aura and watch the bodies hit the floor.  In any case, today is a preliminary look at my demo spec.

Eventually, I plan to rework all of my guides on the left and update them for 4.0, but our first two quick spec posts here have generated a lot of great discussion (and should lead to better guides), so I like going with a "prelim" post first.  This means I would love feedback.  My goal is to start here, and then as information becomes more readily available at theorycrafting sites and such, to compile that information into an updated guide.  So, for now, please read, consider, and respond.  Leaving links to your sources of research would help me a ton too.  In other words, I'm not claiming to "know it all" yet.  Like most of you, I'm just trying to use the information as its presented to make the best choices I can.

When reviewing this spec, recall my aim isn't necessarily to be the top DPS raid spec (demo rarely is that), but to have a solid spec that offers playability, survivability, and some fun AoE damage for when you want to pwn face.  This doesn't mean you can't tell me where you're going to put your raid points, I'd love to hear that and it might help others.  I just don't want to see the "you're an idiot" comment from someone who thinks the only thing there is to do in this game is raiding.  It is always important to understand your overall goal before you spec.  Raiding is only one goal.

Shut up, Ful! Spec already.  K, here 'tis:

I updated my spec based on feedback.  I'm not updating the above image, but a better spec can be found here.
In filling up the tree, I left out Improved Health Funnel, Mana Feed, and Master Summoner.  For IHF, I just generally don't use health funnel.  In PvE, it's usually not a big deal.  If you're an PvP person, this might be more useful for you.  For me, regular funnel works fine in a pinch, though I did end up glyping it because there isn't a whole lot to choose from for minors anyways.

I didn't take Mana Feed because I feel like I have a ton of mana right now.  I can't see taking anything to help with mana consumption, because I'm hardly even life tapping as it is.  As for Master Summoner, demon summons are now made instant by burning a soul shard.  Thus, I didn't feel like taking this talent either. 

I did fill up Bane and Improved Immolate.  I plan to use both spells a lot.  As I level, the difficult choice is going to be whether to go for Improved Corruption or Shadow and Flame next.  I like both talents, but am leaning towards S&F at this point.  Corruption just isn't as big of a deal for non-Affliction 'locks.

For Prime I picked up Immolate, Metamorphosis, and Felguard.  Immolate is a no-brainer as long as we're using the spell.  We should also be using our Felguard exclusively, so that one is pretty simple too.  I chose to go with Meta since I love the spell and it should be a nice DPS boost.  It may be better to roll with BoA here though, or something else to improve a less situational spell.

In the Major slots, I ran with Soul Link, Shadowflame, and Fear.  Soul Link is great to improve surviveability, which is why I went with that.  For Shadowflame and Fear: I tend to run around the world in my Demo spec.  That means if there is ever any random PvP, or if I choose to PvP, it will likely be in my demo spec.  Plus, I solo in demo.  I think this goal makes picking up these utility glyphs a pretty obvious choice.  It'll also give me a good chance to try out the new Fear mechanic to see if its worth it on my main spec (for Cata dungeons, if the vaunted use of CC does, indeed, return to us).

Our Minor glyphs still pretty much suck.  I nabbed Drain Soul like I did for my raid spec, then I grabbed Health Funnel as mentioned above.  I figured might as well.  Finally, I ended with the 'lock staple minor: Unending Breath.  It really is the coolest of the minor glyphs, though how often do we find ourselves in a river thinking: "Yeah, I would love to go just a small bit faster here.  Not a lot, heavens no, we're not a sealform Druid.  A little is nice though."  I think they should make Unending Breath put us on a demonic Jet-Ski, but that's just me.

Pre 4.0 I was going with this:

Curse > Corr > Immo > S-bolts (Above 35%); (Below 35%) keep Corr and Immo rolling for Molten Core procs and spam Soul Fire as soon as you can get a Decimation going.

So far, I don't think a whole lot has changed.  We now can do both BoA and CotE, so I would throw both of those at the front.  (You may want to use Bane of Doom, I haven't checked the numbers yet, but make sure stuff will live long enough for it to pop).  You want to watch for procs the same way you did previously.  When molten core pops, I tend to go with an Incinerate.  It can slightly improve your DPS.  I believe they lowered the Decimate mark from 35% to 25% health, so check the tooltip for that.  Obviously, that'll just mean that we have a small window of "Decimate Phase".  Since Soul Fire can be made instant by burning a shard, I would use that combination to initiate my Decimate phase, but a Shadowbolt will always work too. So now we have this:

CotE > Bane > Immo > S-bolt (above 25%); Immo > Soul Fire (below 25%); Watch your procs, use Meta appropriately.  Use Hand of Gul'dan to refresh Immo when you can.  

(edit: modified after reading Abi's post and comments. Basically I want to drop Corruption and make sure to use HoG'd when appropriate.)

Metamorphosis still functions like a "super trinket", so pop it whenever you feel like being a hero.  Or just pop it to scare kids, your choice.  It opens up several abilities, but the most useful is the Immolation Aura.  This, along with the new Hand of Gul'dan and our normal AoE abilities can make for some great AoE numbers.  For single target, these spells aren't as useful, but on groups they're great.  Just be careful of pulling aggro, because you'll probably end up tanking if you throw all these together.  Great out in public, bad news in a raid.

For a single target boss, it's still a good idea to pop meta, charge in, pop Immo Aura, and then keep your rotation going.  I like to back load all my damage, so I tend to save meta for the end.  Finishing power is fun.  Additionally, if the fight is long, you want to pop an early meta so you can potentially use it twice.  You're going to have to gauge that for yourself, though. 

This is how I'm rolling.  I probably won't raid with it for a while (while I relearn Affliction), but I've already been using this out doing dailies and the like.  It doesn't seem like the "feel" of the spec has changed too much.  It still offers great survivability, better up-front damage than Aff'locks may be used to, and a fun, proc-based rotation.  Whereas Affliction may be more of a trance state of sustained death, demo to me feels more like a Captain Mayhem approach.  How are you demo 'locks out there doing it?  Similar?  Different?  Let me know.

(Edit: After I finished this, I headed over to Abi's site and he has a deeper look than I do.  We came to a lot of the same conclusion, which is good because he's always who I've patterned my demo playing after.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Fall of The King

There are some things in life that are so significant, so cataclysmic that they forever alter the course of history.  Like a giant boulder tossed into a river, the flow of time is forever changed, swirling around the event and reshaping its pattern downstream. Years later, men and women will recall exactly where they were and what they were doing at the exact moment the course shifted.  Grown adults who were but children at the time will recall vivid thoughts and emotions that should have been lost forever through the sieve of human memory.  The spot in time will shine forever bright, a bastion of clarity in the haze of collective human recollection.

There were Gnomes, plotting, planning, and amassing to take back their stolen city.  There were Dwarves, buried deep in Ironforge, drinking ale to chase away dark memories in somber taverns.  There were Night Elves, tending to the whims of their natural ways, struggling to hold onto past tranquility in a rapidly decaying world.  There were Draenei, displaced as refugees on a strange world, fighting to find their noble place in a battle that has spilled across the stars.

There were Trolls, searching for an identity and a home of their own.  There were Tauren, struggling to keep their nomadic tribal roots from being torn from an earth that no longer seemed to care.  There were Blood Elves, addicted to the very magic that betrayed them, striving to rebuild from the brink of mass extermination.  There were Forsaken, touched most visibly by the necrotic hand that threatened to sweep life from existence, yet retaining themselves through sheer force of will. 

And at the heart of it all, there were Orcs and there were Humans.  The two races that started it all.  A dichotomy of unrestrained passion and undeniable manipulation.  Two forces, loosely bound by a common foe.  A foe created by the mistakes of each, festering in the past, embodied in present flesh. 

A foe that was, at this very spot in the bloodied path of history, falling.

Twelve million souls looked to the skies as Azeroth shuddered in relief.  Twelve million; raceless, ageless, factionless; because to whom does a soul belong?  Twelve million, and more, freed from the oppressive knowledge that, even in death, could their bodies be used against them.  Twelve million to begin the healing.

Light shone down on the Citadel that day.  It pierced clouds that seemed a permanent ceiling over the land, and bathed the tallest spire of the blackest tower in pure radiance.  It could be seen for many leagues, a beacon of hope, a glowing rod of justice, reaching down to touch that darkest corner of Azeroth.

The Light's heroes had prevailed.

*      *      *

Abigora stepped from the portal onto the streets of Dalaran.  Her eyes took in the scene before her.  It seemed like thousands crowded the street and balconies, staring off into the distant skies.  Beside the Priest, her childhood friend's parents stood rigid like the rest of the masses.  Staring.

Her eyes found the shaft of light along with everyone else, lingering in the distance.  It pointed to a place that was well known in this city.  Even from a distance, they knew the light must shine on the Throne in Icecrown Citadel.  There was a hushed silence as vendors, urchins, adventurers, and officials alike looked on in awe.  

"The Lich King has fallen!" yelled a voice in the distance.  "The Lich King is no more!"

A cheer went up.  It was slow at first, subdued as if unsure of itself.  Yet soon it built into a tumultuous roar as the streets of Dalaran broke into frenzied celebration.  Streamers were tossed from balconies.  The sky seemed to rain color as fireworks exploded overhead.  People danced in the streets.  So long had the city lived in the shadow of Icecrown that the jubilation burst forth like an overburdened dam. 

Abigora found herself hugging strangers next to her, tears streaming down her face.  She didn't know why she was crying, but it didn't matter, she was caught up in a torrent of emotion.  It wasn't that she doubted the moment was inevitable in coming.  Logically, no king ruled for ever.  However, it wasn't a time for logic.  It was a time for celebration, because the future suddenly seemed a lot brighter.

*      *      *

Decedereful climbed off the ship as it docked at Valiance Keep, one arm around Mr. Wow beside her keeping him from falling down.  She looked at his pale face.  It was still sickly, but some color was returning even as they took their first steps on solid ground.  Next time, she would pay a Mage for a portal.  Heck, she'd even visit Jaina again if she had to, and that was saying something.

She lurched to a stop as she almost ran over the person in front of her, who had stopped suddenly to stare at the sky.  The Death Knight shot the person an annoyed glance as she maneuvered around the blockage.  Something in the man's face gave her pause, though.  There was such a look of rapture there, of joy.  

Decedereful looked around, observing the situation for the first time.  Everyone was stationary.  Everyone was gazing skyward.  Dockworkers, soldiers, adventurers, even errand boys.  Enraptured.

The Death Knight found her burning blue eyes sweeping skyward, following the masses.  In the distance, she saw it.  Light.  Perhaps the Light.  Dismantling the perpetual haze that hung over the sprawling Citadel she knew was out there.  Pulsing a promise back at her.  It was so beautiful.  What did it mean?  What did it mean?

"The Lich King has fallen!" yelled a voice in the distance.  "The Lich King is no more!"

Silence.  Astonished faces turned toward one another.  Could it really be?  Somewhere in the eerily stunned crowd, Decedereful heard a clap.  Then another, joined by another.  It began to spread, each person taking up after the last.  The sound of applause grew, amplified off the walls like the sound of a thousand tears of joy falling on hard stone.  Shouts, cheers began to lace the deluge of clapping.  Decedereful found herself pounding her palms together until they hurt, her friend next to her, all sickness apparently forgotten, whooping and hollering.  

It had been done.  The tyrant had been toppled.  Decederful wrapped her young friend in a suffocating embrace, kissing him fully on the lips.  The world spun around her, and, for a moment, she forgot her suffering at the hands of a monster.  For, in that moment, a bright light had chased out a very dark out of a corner of her mind.  She was free.

*      *      *

Fulguralis woke up, pain flaring through his body, racing down each limb like wildfire.  Grunting, he propped himself up into a seated position and took inventory of himself.  His robes were ripped, blood trickled down one arm, and his head throbbed as if used as a training dummy.  Yet he was not cold.

No, the platform where he sat was just as he remembered before Arthas had... Arthas!  Where is he?  Fulguralis jumped to his feet and spun around in a circle.  He immediately regretted the decision, as dizziness threatened to overwhelm him.  He was not in good shape.  

The Warlock was alone.  The platform where he stood was bathed in warm light.  It was almost so bright as to hurt Fulguralis's eyes.  Where were his friends?  Where was his wife?  There was a hole in his memory.  He recalled Terenas... wait, Terenas?  Terenas was dead?  How could that be?  They had done... done something.  

Fulguralis glanced towards the Frozen Throne.  It was once more a solid block of ice.  Whatever they'd done must have worked.  In fact, Fulguralis felt lighter already.  But he was tired, so tired.  The blood trickled beneath his robes, running down his legs to pool at his feet.  He was bleeding from an assortment of wounds.  He knew he needed to get them looked at, but he wasn't too concerned.  Thoughts came slowly to him, as it through a thick wall of fog.  

Where was his wife?

Fulguralis stumbled to the edge of the platform and looked down.  Bad idea.  Vertigo overcame him, and darkness danced at the edges of his vision.  He teetered, tottered, and felt himself falling forward.  It feels good to fly, he thought disjointedly. I'll just get some rest on the flight, and then I'll find her, he told himself with the air rushing around him and whipping his robes.  It's a bit chilly, a blanket would be nice.  Then the darkness overcame him, bubbling up and drowning his thoughts.  

The world went black.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Kissed A Raid And I Liked It ('Lock Update)

We got our first chance to raid something last night. What with many of our addons still busted, and most of us feeling like we no longer know how to play our class, we decided to aim low and hit Ulduar up last night. We figured it was a good middle ground of non-faceroll and not too hard (also not requiring us to reset our LK ID).  Thus, I got two hours of very good practice in last night.

The first thing I noticed is that I do feel a little lost in my Affliction rotation right now.  Just enough has changed that it's throwing me off.  That, and the fact that my X-perl is broken, so I'm forced to go to the backup timers in Fortex, which aren't bad, just not what I'm used to.  Necrosis is also broken.  Those were two biggies for me.  The things I miss about Necrosis is just the convenience of the wheeled, pull out menus.  With demon summoning getting a built-in pull out, this isn't such a big deal.  However, I miss the all-in-one buttons for healthstones and soulstones.  I may just write up a macro for these when I get some time.  I'll pass it along if I do.  For X-perl, I loved the bigger personal debuffs with countdown numbers, plus I don't really like how the deault UI handles buffs and debuffs. 

Does anyone have a clever addon that deals with only these things and doesn't replace the raid frames?  I'm not altogether displeased with the out-of-box solution that Blizz provided, and the free colored flares are awesome for raid leading.  Made fight explanation a lot easier (i.e. you stand on the green flare, we'll stand on the blue flare, go team!).  Also, the role check is nice too.

Otherwise, overall I'm actually rather happy.  For the first time since Wrath dropped, it feels like they've made Affliction harder to play.  Not only are you juggling one more DoT (since you can chose both a Bane and a Curse), but you have decisions to make near the end of each mob.  Do you soul swap?  Do you drain soul?  Do you blow a shard to empower your drain soul?

On a single boss, the answer is easy: Drain Soul as usual.  Apart from adding BoA to the mix, your approach should really remain unchanged.  Under 25%, swap in DS for your Sbolt spam.  Make sure to keep your Shadow's Embrace up, but otherwise it's all DS.  When you can begin to anticipate a long "spam session", (that is: when your DoT refreshes are lining up so that you can spend an extended time not worrying about them) that's when it's a good time to blow a shard, empower your DS, and go to town.  I was getting huge numbers doing this, but it was rather difficult to weave in, and you really only get one shot at it on a typical raid boss due to the empower cooldown.  Thus, it's important to choose the spot wisely.

Soul Swap adds another interesting mechanic to trash and fights with adds.  Since I'm glyphed for it, it means that when I use it, I basically make a copy/paste of my DoTs instead of the default cut/paste.  Thus, it's a good idea for me, when a trash mob is close to dying, to make sure I get a Soul Swap in there (it is even if you're unglyphed, though you want to make sure the thing is going to die or suffer the wrath of a RL).  The length of time you "hold" the DoTs is longer than you'd think, and the cooldown is shorter than you'd think (at least how it felt to me), so it really seemed effective at keeping my DPS up on fights where I used to completely suck (read: Razorscale).  It's important to note that, if you're using a typical rotation, Soul Swap will only swap three spells: Corruption, BoA, and UA.  Therefore, I usually start right away with a CotE and Haunt, then get right into S-bolts.  It might even be advantageous (if you've got the AoE CotE) to pop elements on the last target to die so that you're not having to reapply it.  It's an interesting thought I'll have to play with some to get used to the range and such. 

I'm thinking about changing my starting salvo to work better with soul swap.  I found myself trying to get DoTs up on quick dying trash because, thereafter, I could soul swap and get three spells for the GCD of one.  It's a great trade.  Also, I think I want to get used to putting CotE and Haunt first, then follow with two s-bolts to get SE up, just to get in the habit of it.  That way, when I swap, I'll already be reaching for those buttons.  Hence, my starting rotation is working towards something like:

CotE - Haunt - SB - SB - BoA - Corr - UA - Refresh - Spam - Under 25% DS, empower at a good spot

For quick dying trash, I may just try to get my DoTs up first, I don't know.  The goal is to get comfortable with something, so I can spend less time staring at my debuff timers, and more time watching the fights.  I did get a chance to throw in some DSs when the boss was above 25%, and they didn't really seem as effective as shadowbolts.  The under 25% bonus really makes them worthwhile, plus the empowerment makes you see some really huge numbers (I think I got average crits around 30k!  Plus I was critting more than normal ticks).  I just used the recount data to analyze these things, so hardly anything concrete and scientific, but still, it's something.  My most significant sources or damage were my three main DoTs (mostly Corr) and Sbolts, as one would expect.

My damage output appeared pretty decent.  When comparing my normal position on the charts (running with roughly the same group of folks), I was pretty much in the same place: fighting for the top spot.  Mages, S-priests, even Hunters still looked pretty solid.  Ret Pallies got sucker punched it seems, though one of our resident ret pallies seemed to kick it into high gear near the end of the raid.  I think, perhaps, the class has just been made a bit more complicated.  He said he really had to work on being more precise with a rotation/priority systems.  I think I feel like my overall DPS might have been lower than normal, but also, we're hardly running at 100% efficiency at this stage of the game.  Learning is still an issue, so is getting my setup back to where I want it, so I'm not sure where that leaves me in the grand scheme of things.

I think Affliction is in good shape overall.  I worry that across the board we might all have gotten a slight nerf at 80, which may negatively effect raiding.  I'm hoping that the all the new spells and utilities help out.  I'm certainly enjoying mine.  Even on trash/add fights, my DPS is far more consistent, which is pure win.  Not having to worry about shards for things like summoning (both demonic and human), health stones, and soul stones is win as well.  I didn't get a chance to try out the addition of a Doomguard or Infernal yet, but they're on my bar (just had other things on the mind).

I plan to update my Affliction guides within the next week to reflect 4.0 changes.  I've already done some of the preliminary research that I need to do, and I wanted to pass along those links for those of you chomping at the bit.  For the 4.0.1 EJ Simulationcraft data, go here.  I will pull my new pawn values from here, and use that to figure out what the new stats mean to me.  Affliction is coming in a close second to Destro, so it looks like a good balance.  I'm more of the "affliction_drain" spec they have on there, if you look, but we've touched on the fact that I'm picking up things like S&F first because of the group utility it provides.  In my typical ten man group, it's useful.  You may decide otherwise.  Finally,  I've read that the pet comparison really hasn't changed all that much, though I haven't really seen the numbers to back it.  I need to read more of this thread here at EJ.  For now, I'm using my Felpup because he's my fave.  I think the Succubus is a few (like 50) DPS higher.  You should probably be using one of the two as Affliction. 

That's all for now!  I'm going to have to save up to 5k gold so I can buy 310% flight speed.  I'll probably just do a bunch of Argent dailies.  Especially the kill quest.  That'll help me get used to the new-ish rotation.  I also need to give my demo spec a run.  I'll be giving a look at that early next week as well.  I haven't even specced my DK yet.  Oh, and also, I'm missing all of my non-80 toons from my login screen.  The server still thinks I have 5 toons, but they don't show up.  Anyone else having this problem?  I'm thinking a ticket is in order...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Protection Paladin: 4.0.1 Spec & Glyphs

Hey Gang!

So, the madness has finally arrived and once again Paladins have been thrown into a blender full of Hopes, Dreams and a dash of Fail. If you've been a paladin for more than just Wrath of the Lich King, what the Developers have done to us shouldn't surprise you in the least. Many of us logged on last night (8pm EST for us) when the servers came up to find all of our addons broken and the ground shaking (literally). I had huge notifications YOU ARE UNTALENTED! Well thanks Blizzard, let the whole world know that I suck... *mumbles* bastards *grumbles* jerkfaces....


I wanted to hit on a few major changes that Protection Paladins will experience for the first time logging into 4.0.1:WARNING: This is not at all an exhaustive list nor should everything that I put here be taken as "The Word" When I do some real raiding and get my grubby little hands on this stuff, I'll post about my findings.
  • We get a new resource called Holy Power (or as many people will probably refer to it as Holy Powah! and then proceed to do a ninja kick in the air HI YA!) This is acquired by using various spells (Mainly Crusader Strike) and using them choosing which ways you want to spend these Holy Powahs! You can have a total of Three at one time. From my poking around last night, it seems that if you want threat, you use it on your Shield of The Righteous. I'm in mostly ICC 10-man gear with Tier 10 stuffs and when I was getting three stacks of Holy Power, my Shield of the Righteous was hitting for around 9k. T'was yummy :-) You can also spend it on more survivability using Word of Glory which is a 0 mana costing heal that its potency scales with the stacks of Holy Power. Overall, it should add quite a bit of spice to our once extremely predictable rotation. R.I.P. 969 LONG LIVE 939?
  • Holy Shield is no longer part of our rotation. It is now a passive ability that procs off of our other abilities. It also has sluffed off the 8 charges that it used to for a straight % to block for the time that it's up. I'm going to guess it's unlimited blocking for that period of time?
  • Consecrate is an extremely mana expensive spell that we can't just use frivolously anymore. The cooldown is longer than it's on the ground so this means, that if you want to use it, use it wisely.
  • Avenger's Shield is now a High TPS ability. It still silences targets & still looks like Capt. America. The neat thing about this is that you can proc a free one every so often within your rotation. I believe that it's a chance off of a Talent Called Grand Crusader. Blizzard implemented a "Power Aura" like feature into the game. When you get your Avenger Shield Proc, it lights up like Christmas and Santa is yelling at you to MASH YOUR KEYS NAO! Best way to describe it is James Woods from Family Guy, "Oh! Piece of Candy! Oh, Piece of Candy! Oh! Piece of Candy!" I love it! Prot Pallies have never been a spec that worked around Procs. Really awesome stuff :-) I just hope that procs are for fun and are treated as a bonus not as a certainty or a requirement to live/ keep aggro on the Boss.  
  • Forbearance... I'm not even going to talk about this right now... It gives me a head ache. Something to think about though: some things that used to give Forbearance don't give it anymore, others are well... yeah. I'll make a post about this when I get all of the facts. *eyes twitch*
  • Sanctuary is now a Talent that gets us Crit Immune since we no longer have Defense as a Stat. Similar to Bear Druids. NO MORE DEFENSE! *Confetti*
There is so much to talk about but I really want to get into my spec that I chose for the moment.  I'm still working on the Lich King with my guild so I needed a practical spec for raiding. This is what I've come up with. I created this from  PS: The "Use it ingame!" feature is pretty snazzy. I believe that it does a /run command and throws it at your toon's talent tree like a pie with out the whole messiness... and pie part. Damn it! I want Pie now!

This spec offers every TPS/DPS increase that I could get for level 80 plus some really nice survivability. A few key things about it: I've always felt that Divinity was pretty expensive (talent wise) for the lack of usefulness that you get out of it for Protection Paladins. Yeah, more healing on you is nice I guess but 3 Talents for 5%? Lame-o in my opinion. I'm going to see how often the Holy Power Proc off the other one works. If it seems to be pretty unnoticeable, I might switch my points over to Divinity but I wont be happy about it  /angry face. Other than Hammer of Justice (which, the more I'm thinking about it, I might go back and spec into it so that I can take care of the Val'kyr's), I took the remaining Talents in Prot. They all seem extremely useful and I'm extremely excited about that. What I'm really liking about our tree is that it actually does offer some bits of flavor. You can invest one talent point here to dig deeper there sorta thing.  
The Glyphs I chose are specifically for the LichVal'kyr duty after the Lich King is safely dropped off at the pool (aka our Druid picks his ass up). I need to Daze them giving our DPS more time to burn them down. Hammer & Shield of the Righteous are mainly just straight 10% Damage increase so why not. Seal of Truth is for our Expertise Cap. I've also found that as long as you're under the Hard Expertise cap (52 Expertise I believe), this is actually a pretty decent threat increase. The Minor Glyphs are pretty much SAVE 50% on your favorite Spells! Redeem this coupon every time you cast them. See your Local Paladin Trainer for Details. Other rules my apply. Prices on glyphs my vary from server to server. If you are unhappy with the minor glyph options, that sucks because you can't get anything else...

In conclusion, everything that I've just told you is subject to change at any time and as I'm writing this right now, I'm finding stuff that I didn't know before. I will continue to do research and find the most optimal spec for me and what I'm currently working on. Once we get the LK down, I'll be switching my gears towards a leveling spec and 5-mans. If you have comments, suggestions, flames, or anything that's on your mind about Prot Pallies, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! ALL CAPS CAUSE I'M FOR SERIOUS! I love to know what you have experienced thus far in game, Beta, or PTR. All of it! My brain feeds off of this stuff! You don't want my brain to shrivel & die do you? *Focuses pure guilt into your hearts!*

For further information and much more in-depth Theorycrafting, please head over to my favorite resource site: Maintankadin. This link is the one that the main theorycrafter, Theck, is creating just for 4.0 purposes. It's ultra mega nerdy and it's just the way I like it! &lt;3 Theck!

&lt;3 Your Friendly Neighborhood Fuubaar

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Preliminary Look at the 4.0.1 Affliction Warlock Spec

With patch 4.0.1 on our e-doorstep, it's finally time for me to acknowledge the existence of change around here. If you're a regular reader, you know I've pretty much avoided the pre-cataclysm buzz, favoring to focus on the here and now. Well, the here and now means respeccing in a completely redesigned talent tree.  Eventually, I plan to rework all of my guides on the left and update them for 4.0, but until I get time to do it properly, I want to throw out some preliminary thoughts about class setup (speccing and glyphing mostly).

It is important to note that these are preliminary.  That means I would love feedback.  My goal is to start here, and then as information becomes more readily available at theorycrafting sites and such, to compile that information into an updated guide.  So, for now, please read, consider, and respond.  Leaving links to your sources of research would help me a ton too.  In other words, I'm not claiming to "know it all" yet.  Like most of you, I'm just trying to use the information as its presented to make the best choices I can.

The first spec we're starting with is, as promised, my Affliction Warlock raid spec for 4.0.  Prot Pallys, Demo 'locks, and DK's will follow shortly.  The goal of the spec I'm presenting today is to be ready to continue raiding now.  This is not a Cataclysm leveling or raiding spec (there may be changes between now and then).  We're still raiding, so all of my choices are made with this (and my current group makeup) in mind.

So, without further ado, the big reveal:

Fixed the link here.
I'm not going to go through every talent I chose, but rather touch on those I avoided.  Since I'm using this to raid, my primary goal was to do whatever I can to maximize my DPS.  I choose all talents that obviously did that.  I skipped the two fear modifiers, since fear is rarely used in raids, and I didn't pick up Curse of Exhaustion for the same reason.  What I see as the only optional points when filling up the tree were the points spent in Improved Life Tap.  You'll need to spend those points somewhere in order to advance the tree, and I figured more mana returned translates to less tapping, hence a DPS increase.

Does anyone know what happened to Dark Pact?  Obviously it's not in the tree.  If I can still demon tap, I may put the points spent in ILT into one of the fear mods, since that might be more useful.  This is something I'll need to do some research about.

After I filled up my Affliction Tree, then the option to spend points in other trees becomes available.  I went right back over to look for my old friend, Bane.  You'll see a somewhat newish talent next to it called Shadow and Flame (which is mostly a re-skinned ISB, but including fire).   I actually opted to fill up S&F first as it makes a target weak to spell damage.  I'm assuming this would benefit all casters in the group (same as the old ISB), so it's a great raiding talent to pick up.  I plan to fill Bane out by 85.

Recall that you only get 1 talent point per every 2 levels, so the level required for this spec shows up as 79.  This is by design.  (I forgot about this and at first thought there was some sort of glitch).

The glyphs I chose are as noted:
Perusing the offerings, I found myself easily able to narrow my choices to four for Prime and Major.  The Minor glyphs are still pretty slim pickings for us, so I just went sort of how I've gone in the past.  I won't waste words on those. 

For Prime, Agony and Haunt are no brainers.  Corruption has always been a minimal (~50DPS at 80) DPS gain, but I don't know how much decreasing the cast time of UA would give me either.  I enjoy more Nightfall procs, so I went with Corr.

For Major, Soul Swap is a lock (I expect to love this new spell).  I also plan keep using my Felpup for as long as his DPS is a solid choice for Aff'locks.  Thus, the Felhunter glyph seemed to be a solid choice.  Finally, I decided to go with Shadowflame over Life Tap.  I'm hoping the slow effect on Shadowflame might work on the Valks for the LK fight.  If nothing else, it seems like a fun modification to a situational spell, and I'm already improving my Life Tap. 

Lately, I've been doing this:

Shadowbolt > Haunt > CotE > Corr > UA > Refresh as needed, when not: bolt filler > LT as needed > Sub in Drain Soul for the last 25% filler.

It is important to note that Soul Shard mechanics have been changed, and I haven't even looked at how to use those properly yet.  For the sake of this preliminary look, I'm going to assume them to be a bit situational, or something you throw in every few rotations, or a modification of what we'll use anyways, and not a staple.  A.K.A - I'm going to ignore it for now until I understand it better.

With that said, the key change to note is that we should now be able to cast both Bane of Agony and Curse of the Elements.  Additionally, we'll have Soul Swap to use when popping between targets.  There also seemed to be some minor mechanics changes to Drain Soul and Death's Embrace that may make it worthwhile to use DS all the time (or none of the time, or just woven in with bolt filler).  The operative here is that I don't believe DS gets a special bonus for under 25% (edit: was moved till tooltip, still plan to use DS under 25%).  All of our spells do via Death's Embrace (and Drain Soul gets a buff when we're low).  I'm not sure how the numbers will work out, but I would think we'd need to keep S-bolts going to utilize the buffs we picked up in the Destro tree.

My plan is to start with my current rotation and squeeze the new stuff in.  The major mechanics don't really seem to change, but we may need to revisit this.  So, in 4.0 it'll look more like:

Shadowbolt > Haunt > CotE > BoA > Corr > UA > Refresh as needed, otherwise fill with S-bolt to keep S&F/ISB buff up, otherwise DS > LT as needed > Soul Swap before target dies if you're going to switch to another target.

What do you guys think?  I would love links to theorycraft numbers/data (and plan to run over to the Den and EJ when I get some time).  All in all, I'm pretty excited about the changes, though I haven't even touched on the soul shard mechanics yet.  Or the stat changes (just rolling with the gear I've got).  Or mastery (you can get the baseline at 80).  Sheesh!  The blogosphere should get mighty busy here.

Also, side note: we did some research and soul shard bags are going to be "converted" into a normal bag of "roughly equivalent" size.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what that means.

(edit: if you want to see some great counterpoints and further discussion, Poneria does a great job here.)

Monday, October 11, 2010


I finally got promoted to Silver league on Starcraft II. It took me 32 games, winning just slightly over half of them. I think I'm sitting at 23-19. Then I played a few games in my new bracket.  The first thing I noticed is that it did seem like the competition was a bit better.  I lost the first few quickly, before I began to adapt to the new pace of play.  It seems that Silver players are just quicker than Bronze players, flat out.  Strats didn't really seem to change, however.  Actually, if anything, they got worse.

Now, I admittedly only played a handful of games in my new bracket, but the general strat being used seemed to be all-out rush.  It didn't even matter the race.  Heck, I had one Terran opponent come in with a marines and all of their SCVs.  It was the poker equivalent of "all in".  Unfortunately for that individual, I had void rays waiting to counter-attack, and a second fortified base.  I killed all of his stuff, and his remaining force couldn't kill mine (which was still producing the entire time: it takes a long time to wipe someone out).  In any case, you have to be quick, or you wind up dead pretty quickly.  After that, I'm still trying to play fluidly, keeping my opponent scouted so that I can react to what they're building.  I'm not always the best at it, since things like a mass of marines seems particularly hard to counter early on as Protoss.

In unrelated news, rumor is that the big 4.0.1 patch is going to drop tomorrow.  With it comes the much anticipated, much dreaded, much lauded... tree changes.  The plan here at KeS is to get my preliminary Affliction tree up ASAP, then follow it with Fuu's Prot Pally, and then our others.  I'd like to get all the preliminary tree suggestions up first, hopefully get good feedback, and then modify before I update all the guides I have linked here.  It will get busy around here if the patch drops as expected.

Some things to keep in mind:
  • Shards are going away.  Use 'em up now or delete them later, your call.
  • Paladins who are Protection or Retribution specced will no longer be able to Cleanse Magical Debuffs (edit from comments: Cleanse itself is still a baseline spell all specs get but only a Holy Paladin can spec into Magical Debuff removal. For further information Go here!)
  • Holy Power will become a new Resource for All Paladin Specs. 
  • When your Toon hits level 10, you will be stuck in the tree that you put your first talent point in until 31 points are invested (True for all specs for every class)
  • There will be no such thing as a DW Frost DK tank: sad day.
  • A whole bunch of stuff is going to change: stats, talents, etc.  We'll figure it all out soon enough though.  Heck, I'm sure the beta folks are already well on their way.
  • 4.0.1 Will not bring the New Races, World Terrain Changes (right away that is), or Level 85.
Stay tuned!

Friday, October 8, 2010


Fulguralis hit the platform hard and rolled to his feet. He glanced over his shoulder as another Val'kyr plummeted off the edge, trailing smoke behind it as it screeched death. Rips in the Warlock's robe from the thing's claws made clear the fate he had just barely escaped.  He glanced over and nodded his thanks to the hazy shadow Priest beside him, who barely paused in the midst of slinging darkness to acknowledge the gesture.  Fulguralis rejoined the fray, adding his own brand of shadow to the mix.

The fight was not going as planned.  With Tirion frozen in a block of ice, their group of adventurers was left to face the Lich King alone.  Ten brave souls standing against the might of the Frozen Throne.  More Val'kyr screamed overhead and large, pieced together monstrosities and spirits lumbered among the good guys, bashing at shields and plate armor.  It was barely organized chaos. 

"Defile!" the call went out.

The group scattered as Arthas opened up a dark patch of death on the floor.  It roiled menacingly, begging to nip at someone's robes, yet, as one, the group avoided.  A Val'kyr took the opportunity to swoop in and grab one of their Paladins, but several arrows answered the screech and took the thing in the chest.  The Dwarf dropped like a rock, clanking to the ground.  He hefted a shield toward his Hunter friend, quickly cleansed the Elf of disease, and then turned and charged back into the fray.

Rinse, repeat.  It seemed like they had been doing the same things for months now, though Fulguralis knew the time could be more accurately counted in minutes. Yet, it didn't feel like they had even so much as dented the Lich King's spiky armor.  Fatigue and strain was starting to show on all of the adventurer's faces, and yet Arthas looked as cool as ever.

Fulguralis focused in.  He furiously weaved spells together in a never-ending thread, occasionally sending bolts of shadow streaking toward the heart of the battle.  Flashes of light burst among them.  Arrows rained around them.  The deadly dance twirled on.

A deep, guttural grunt surprised the group of adventurers.  Fulguralis saw that his wife had somehow slipped Arthas's defenses and had pierced flesh.  Drops of dark red blood spilled to the floor.  The Lich King had been wounded.  He could bleed, just like the rest of them, and that meant, he could be killed.

With one mighty swipe, the attackers up close were knocked backwards in a clattering wave of armor.  Arthas pointed toward the sky, and the entire Citadel began to shake.  Spirits swarmed overheard, chattering maniacally in the cold air.  What magic was this?  The group redoubled their efforts.  The fall of the Lich King was close now.

Fulguralis froze as the Lich King pointed his long sword at the Warlock.  He felt an invisible rope, as if tied to his chest, pulling him inward.  A Priest, Druid, and Shaman frantically sent healing his way, while the rest of the group fought on, hoping their pressure would elicit Fulguralis's release.  The sword crept ever closer.  I'm going to die, Fulguralis thought. 

Arthas's eyes burned before the Warlock, and he could see a sneer of hate through the faceplate of the Lich King.  The tip of Frostmourne was pressed against his chest now, steadily increasing in pressure, slicing through robes, making it's way inevitably towards...

Light, all Fulguralis could see was light.  This must be what it's like to die, he thought.  Yet, the light faded.  Fulguralis was still on an icy platform.  Jagged rocks ringed the edge, and the sky... the sky was crossed by glowing blue chains.  Is this what it's like to have your soul captured?

Fulguralis was startled to find a shimmering form standing next to him.  What was this place?  The person was familiar, and yet the Warlock found it hard to believe.

"King Terenas?" he asked unceretainly.

"Just Terenas, son," the spirit smiled.  "No one is king forever."

"Then why do you still have your crown on?" Fulguralis observed.

Terenas frowned, "Do you want to get out of here or not?"

*      *      *

On a boat, just off the Northrend continent, Decedereful gazed at the approaching coastline.  She couldn't shake the unsettling feeling that she was arriving too late.  Mr. Wow retched loudly beside her, leaning over the railing.  She couldn't help but smile at her new friend's misfortune.  She was still a bit miffed that he'd found her so easily in Stormwind.  She'd stumbled out of the inn the following morning, the bright sunlight stinging her bloodshot eyes, and he'd been there waiting patiently as if there were nothing better to do.  Of course, his clothing was a mess as usual, but she hadn't been in a condition to judge.  The fact that he'd laughed as she complained about a headache was what provided the current situation such sweet justice.

"We're almost there," Decedereful said soothingly.  She had to admit she did feel slightly bad for the bloke.  It was not a short boat ride.

He stood up and wiped off his mouth, "Great.  I've never been so happy to see land before.  That hold was pretty stuffy."

"You didn't have to sleep down there, you know," Dece pointed out.  "My cabin had an extra bed."

"Didn't want to puke all over you," he said, turning slightly green again.

Suddenly, the there was a rumbling sound in the distance.  Decedereful swore she thought she saw the entire continent of Northrend shake.  Even the seas seemed unnerved by the disturbance.  The boat heaved around them.  Mr. Wow hung his head back over the side and did his own imitation of a Shadowflame.

Decedereful stared worriedly off into the distance.  "We'd better hurry," she said to herself.    

*      *      *

"There!" Minerva said.  "Perfect!"

The Undead woman was balanced precariously on a chair, arranging the last of the curtains she'd hung.  Captain Melvin Brightrune sat nearby, sipping a brown beverage.  Abi peeked above her book from where she sat on the couch.  She had to admit, the curtains did make the room a bit less... warlocky.

A light clinking of the chandelier was all the forewarning they got before the house began to bounce around as if it were on the back of a giant Mistsaber.  The Captain crossed the room in the blink of an eye to catch his wife in his arms as she toppled off of the chair.  After the rumbling subsided, he set his wife down softly.  Abigora calmly marked her place, set her book on the table, and stood up.  She cocked her head sideways as she observed the elderly couple eyeing each other.

"Faith," the both said simultaneously.

The Captain looked at Abigora, "We're going to Dalaran.  Now."

Recalling the speed with which he'd crossed the room, Abigora observed, "I thought you were a Paladin."

"I gave up following the Light long ago," he admitted.  "I'm just a plain Warrior now."

Abi nodded, and then looked toward the former Priest, "And that would make her..."

"A Mage," Minnie finished, waving her arms and producing a portal to Dalaran out of thin air.  "In now, dears, I don't want to have to hold this forever."  

She shooed them in.