Update: Specs and Such at 85

Posted December 15, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Leveling, Niainde, Warcraft

So Niainde’s been sitting at 85 for a few days now.  Last night I ventured into a Heroic Deadmines with a group of guildies; we were all wildly undergeared and unprepared, wiped repeatedly on the Foe Reaper 5000, and finally packed it in after a couple of runs at Admiral Ripsnarl and trundled off to run a regular Halls of Origination instead.  It was hard and it was insanely fun for being so hard — it’s really, really nice to be in challenging 5-man content again.

Nia is running with a Survival spec for PvE purposes at the moment, and it is swell.  Her DPS is terrific — between 8 and 11k last night in her crummy gear, depending on the boss fight, she handily topped the epeenometer — Serpent Spread + Explosive Trap offer great AoE damage on multi-pulls, and Wyvern Sting adds a really nice manageable CC option in addition to Freezing Trap.  We had more than one pull last night in which we had a sapped mob, a trapped mob, and a Wyvern-stung mob waiting in the wings whilst the tank juggled their livelier comrades.  Crowd Control Saves Lives, my friends.  And it’s really exciting to see it back in play after its long sad Wrath hiatus: it should be an integral part of any hunter’s toolkit, and back in Burning Crusade the tricksy double-freezing-trap was a Niainde Special in places like Heroic Steam Vaults.

Here is the spec.  With it I am using Prime Glyphs of Explosive Shot, Serpent Sting, and Kill Shot.

For soloing purposes, Nia’s running with this Marksmanship specImproved Steady Shot is a powerful talent in raids/against bosses, but when you’re out questing or soloing, nothing’s going to live long enough to make it really worthwhile.  Meanwhile, as I’ve mentioned before, the combination of Rapid Killing (a talent not that exciting in raids/against bosses) with Rapid Recuperation means you should always have plenty of Focus on the go.  Marked for Death gets you all the attack power boost of Hunter’s Mark without wasting a GCD on something that’s going to be dead in a few seconds anyway.  Snagging Hunter vs. Wild from the Survival tree is a good idea for solo-play in the brave new world — have you seen how hard some of this stuff hits?  As for glyphs, my Primes here are Arcane Shot, Steady Shot, and Kill Shot again.  More important, perhaps, for the solo-spec, is the Major Glyph of Misdirection — Niainde can Misdirect onto her pet all day long, so pulling aggro is not an issue.

Nia’s Leatherworking is skill-capped once again at 525, and her Jewelcrafting is wending its way upwards, sitting at 480 at the moment.  I was able to make the random-drop quest trinket Figurine – Demon Panther yesterday, so that was a nice little boost.  I’ve collected the epic Leatherworking patterns I’ll need — Dragonkiller Tunic, Corded Viper Belt, sundry leg armors — but now comes the matter of getting my hands on the mats for them.  I also have yet to make a loot list from Heroics, so at some point I need to go over that and figure out what I’m gathering and from where.

Meanwhile, I understand that Yule Festival has begun in LotRO, so I will probably wander thataway today to visit the festivities.  Winter Veil just began today in WoW.  Happy Imaginary Holidays, my internet friends!

To Regem or Not To Regem, That is the Question

Posted December 3, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Raiding, Warcraft

Not to Regem: That is the Answer.

I mentioned this last week on Twitter but didn’t note it separately here.  Since a guildmate just asked me about it, I realize it might still be salient information, and so will re-note for posterity and you:

Yes, Patch 4.0.3a broke our DPS metagems.  Yes, they now require more blue than red gems to activate.  Yes, this is nonsensical.  And yes, Blizzard is fixing it.

See that?  That’s blue text up there at the link.  Word of Blue says that they will revert the meta requirements in a future patch (apparently it’s too big a deal for a hotfix).  It is really, really not worth regemming right now.  It will be expensive, it will probably hit your DPS (because blue gems are dumb), and you will only have to redo it all once the fix is live.  For now, we will have to just live with our sad relenting Relentless Earthsiege Diamonds.  It will all be okay soon.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Roll More Hunters

Posted November 25, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Isalith, Leveling, Warcraft

So the Shattering is upon us, and with it come so many decisions.  I spent early Tuesday evening waffling woefully at the character creation screen: Gnome priest?  Yes!  Wait, dwarf shaman.  Oh, no, human paladin.  (Human paladin?  Seriously, me?)  Aargh.

Finally I gave in and did the only really sensible thing under the circumstances: I rolled another hunter.

You are so surprised, I know.

So this is Isalith.  She is approximately the 19,057,302nd human hunter to have been rolled on my server Tuesday evening, if the scene in Northshire was anything to go by.

Despite the presence of her 19,057,301 starting-zone colleagues, I was pleased to note that much of the early stuff that had been hinky when last I visited the beta (which, admittedly, was some weeks ago) was all ironed out flawlessly.  By way of example — as I noted in an earlier post, it used to be that because newly-minted hunters cannot control their pets until level 10, when you got the quest to use your new skills against a target dummy in Northshire at level 3, you couldn’t get your (default-defensive, uncontrollable) pet to stop attacking the target dummy once you were done, and had to run out of range to despawn it.  In the live world, this has been elegantly addressed by making the Northshire target dummies extremely feeble.  You attack the dummy, the dummy dies, your pet comes back.  Hurray!

At level 13, I went to Gilneas to collect a white fox pet.  I took the Tram to Ironforge, jogged to Loch Modan, and was hoofing it into the Wetlands when I remembered that my level 80 rogue on my second account has a freaking chopper.  Good morning.  Running halfway across the world is for chumps.  So I logged Inkie in, she swung by and picked Isa up, and off we (both of me) went to Gilneas.  Note that if you elect to get to Gilneas as a baby human hunter, whether by chopper or rocket or shoe-leather or what, unless you are extremely wary and extremely careful, you are going to die.  Hillsbrad is fatal to baby human tourists.  The Horde have the whole zone now, they’ve got guards at all the choke points along the road, and they managed to shoot Isalith right out of the sidecar at the Silverpine border.  Ouch.

Our minimal PvP misadventures aside (yes, I guess I am using the Royal We), we made it into Gilneas, abandoned Isa’s mangy starter wolf pet, and collected a white fox right there in the northern woods of Gilneas.  Easy, peasy.  Note that if you don’t want a white fox and/or don’t care about your fox’s color one way or the other, you can just stick it out in the south until level 15, at which point you can get a brown fox in Redridge or a red one in Loch Modan.  At level 18 you can collect a black Redridge fox, or if you are a lucky lou and level 16+, there is a solitary rare gray fox available in Loch Modan.

Other new lowbie pet options include the miraculous chameleon hounds, also from Gilneas, which will change color variously each time they’re summoned, the Tirisfal blue demon dogs, or, you know, a monkey with an axe from the Deadmines, if axe-monkeys are your thing.  I’m also kind of taken with the new look of the condors in Redridge and Loch Modan.

I’ve started leveling Isalith with a Survival spec for the moment.  As I advised a guildie the other day, once you hit level 49 and can grab Rapid Recuperation, Marksmanship is probably the way to go for leveling because you will never, ever be focus-starved when out and about questing or exploring.  Kill a mob, regen focus — it’s like magic!  At Isalith’s current wee level, though, I’m not particularly worried about focus starvation, since (especially in heirloom gear) she is basically one- or two-shotting everything she meets.  Her current rotation is pretty much: Explosive Shot, loot.  As she trudges her way up the leveling ladder, we’ll see how that goes.

The Light’s Vaunted Justice

Posted October 30, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Niainde, Raiding, Warcraft

Our guild’s first Lich King kill.  Marksmanship spec, ravager pet for raid buff, 11k DPS.  And a swank new title.

No crossbow, though.  (Next time!)  Our very deserving rogue and feral druid made off with the dagger and the 2H mace, instead.  And lo, there was much rejoicing.

On the Upswing

Posted October 20, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Niainde, Raiding, Warcraft

We got a hotfix.  Go, us.

Ran ICC again last night, a little more comfortable now with the rotation and changes, and saw a cheery uptick in the numbers.  I was using a Ravager pet for the raid buff rather than my trusty kitty, and everything still looked fine.  I’ve gotten into the practice of switching specs quickly between trash and bosses — no more waiting for 18K mana to regen, dual-specced life is much easier — and Survival is a beast on AoE trash.  I shamed our friendly Canadian demo lock last night a few times.  Still using Marksmanship for bosses.  Things are looking up and up.  Huzzah.

Pet Flowchart

Posted October 16, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Raiding, Warcraft

By the way, a great flowchart for selecting your raid pet for buffs/debuffs, courtesy of One Man Raid.

The Preliminary Verdict

Posted October 16, 2010 by Niainde
Categories: Cataclysm, Niainde, Raiding, Warcraft

I was tempted to make an Ashen Verdict pun in the title but I did not.  You’re welcome.  I can hear your gratitude from here.

So last night was the first of The ICC Experiments with my new Marksmanship spec & c.  (Bear in mind  that I am a 10-strict raider, so all this information is relevant primarily in a 10-man environment, and/or in 10-man gear.)

The main takeaway, I think, is that it wasn’t a crushing disappointment.  I was fully prepared for crushing disappointment, based on some of what I’ve heard from other hunters at the moment.  Niainde is no longer the AoE Goddess she once was in the halcyon days of Volley-spam: no more breaking 20K on geist-packs, cackling maniacally all the while.  In fact, our demo warlock, who took a raid-break after Naxx and has only recently rejoined us (and got geared in record time, since she dove straight in to ICC), put most of us to eye-bugging shame on trash.  I imagine she was cackling maniacally.  Or would have been, were she not a very polite Canadian.  She probably cackled quietly.

Single-target, though, Niainde’s numbers were not much changed from pre-patch.  On single-target trash — the Bone Wardens, Precious and Stinky, etc. — she safely and handily broke 11K.  On bosses, she led the meters on Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Rotface, and Professor Putricide (which was as far as we cleared; we did Lower Spire and Plague), and put in an abysmal showing (for her) on Festergut because I got Vile Gassed Every. Single. Time. No joke.  On the other hand, even on the fights she led, her numbers themselves were not notably higher than usual (though definitely not lower).  On the fights where the rogue in our group (an Assassination rogue, and a damned good one) led the pack (Saurfang, Festergut), her numbers were off the hook, as I believe the kids say.

 

Lady Deathwhisper

 

 

Rotface

 

I am used to not topping Saurfang, because of course I am befriending Blood Beasts like mad whilst my roguish colleague gets to stand in place and stab a bloke repeatedly, but I am used to coming in second on that fight, even in a Survival kiting offspec.  I was fourth, last night.  How embarrassing.

In any event, though, because raiding isn’t all-meters-all-the-time: yes, it was still fun.  Yes, I still got to do what I like best: shoot things in the face.  Hard.  Learning to efficiently Multi-Shot trash packs is a little more frustrating and finicky than just Volley-spam and cackling, but it isn’t the end of the world either, contrary to a glum colleague’s assessment from his own ICC run the night before.  And a lot of last night was also about learning the damned priority.  And learning to do it on the move, efficiently.  All the usual stuff you need to master when learning to play Marks (or to play hunter at all) — my hotkeys are in slightly different places and require a different order.  My attention is on new and different things.  I botched priority; I made some boneheaded and inefficient movement-decisions.  Buffs were not optimal because we had some (very) last minute roster changes.  It was quite far from a flawless run.  It was New.  I very much believe that once the novelty of it all wears off and the movement and the order and the cues are all as second-nature to me as they were in the 3.x world, the numbers will only go up from here.  So now that we have seen that the meters are not a crushing disappointment, I am going to put my own meters away for a little while and just work on the learning.  It is new and slightly uncomfortable, but it only gets better, right?