Friday, December 14, 2007

"The Don"

So I've been trolling various hunter forums looking for information on ranged weapons. Since my Steelhawk Crossbow dropped in Kara, I haven't really had a sniff of an upgrade. We're still not consistently getting to Prince, so the bow is not a given upgrade for me any time soon.

Mostly I've been poking around TKASomething and ElitistJerks. (Not gonna link 'em... feeling lazy today.)

Current wisdom for a Beast Master spec'd hunter seems to be that the gun from the Big Bad Wolf in Karazhan -- the [Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle] -- is the shizznit when it comes to weapons right now, outclassing the bow from the Prince and a few other weapons with higher reported "DPS" values. The problem? It's a low drop rate off a boss that only shows up once in three weeks of Kara runs -- if you're lucky. I haven't seen him in two months. (My guild dropped him this week when I wasn't available. No gun, though, thankfully.)

The issue with the reported DPS on weapons is apparently that faster weapons hit more often and therefore can be more effectively weaved into shot rotations. I tried a shot macro for a while, but it didn't work for me. I still try to use an Auto/Steady rotation for most boss fights, but throw in an Arcane every so often and multi when I can and think it'll do some good. I'm just not a min-max'er and can't be bothered worrying about that perfect rotation. I'm typically 2nd or 3rd on the DPS charts in Kara -- behind better geared rogues, usually -- and am often the top DPS'er when you look at just the boss fights. As it should be, I guess.

In my quest to find a new weapon that I have more control over getting, many of the forums talk about [Don Santos' Famous Hunting Rifle]. Really? The "paperdoll" DPS reported is only 73.7. My silly crossbow from Attumen -- at 79.1 -- beats that, right? Apparently not. "The Don" is apparently one of the best weapons until you start doing SSC and TK and my guild is nowhere close to those instances right now. Even then, the weapons that beat it are from the end bosses, primarily.

Based on all the various reports, the Don Santos' rife and the one from the Big Bad Wolf are neck-and-neck for DPS. The math still hurts my head. The big thing with the Don Santos' is that it has this nifty proc on it which increases RAP by 250 for 10 seconds. That 250 RAP is conservatively, about 17 DPS, which means that the 73 reported by the tooltip becomes more like 90... when the proc is active. Again... based on reports, that happens about 30% of the time, so the real up-time on the proc adds about 6 DPS, which puts it basically tied with the Wolfslayer if you just look at raw numbers.

I'm still not sure I'm even explaining this right, so I think I'll shut up now and leave it up to you to decide. The wonderful "Cheeky's Spreadsheet" can provide a wealth of information, and while it's telling me that the gun is better, I'm not sure the slight boost that it's reporting offsets the cost. I paid 1100g for the gun, but haven't yet soulbound it. WoWHead lists a typical buyout of 1700g, so I figure I got a bit of a deal. I don't spend gold in WoW easily. (I had nearly 6000g when I bought the gun and still don't have my epic flyer.) If you're a hunter out there in the know and can offer any advice about "The Don", please speak up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PVP Gear for Upgrades...

My guild has kind of been in a holding pattern until this week. We've been getting deep into Karazhan, but either time or bad luck or class composition has prevented us from downing the Prince. This week, that feat was accomplished, albeit without me.

Raid sign-ups have been light enough and my schedule hectic enough -- holidays and all -- that I simply haven't bothered to sign up. I never know when another holiday event will pop up unexpectedly, so I haven't signed up so as not to be a tool and make them hold a spot when I can't come. Monday night, after having spent two previous nights during the week clearing the early bosses, I got bumped by at least two people who either hadn't signed up at all and/or hadn't participated in any of the "clearing" runs. Oh well. One was a healer and was needed. One was a DPS'er and had signed up. My fault for not signing up. Still kinda sucked to miss a guild first after having put in all that time in Karazhan for so long. I'll get over it.

I guess the point of this was that because I had gotten all the purple love that I was going to get out of the bosses that we had on "farm status", I started doing PVP. We formed a 2v2 team and that's going OK. We don't do it much, so we're hovering around the average 1500 score. Still gets us about 250 points per week and in a few weeks, I will have enough to get something. I've also been doing my daily PVP quests (when it's not WSG), and trying to put in two or three rounds of some battleground to get at least 1000 honor per day. I'm up to around 12,000 honor, but I'm short some marks for what I want, so I'll continue to build up a bit of a bank.

Pending what happens in Karazhan this week, I think I'm going to spend some honor/arena points. We won't be doing Karazhan for another two weeks because of sparse attendance during the Christmas/New Years holidays. Here's what's on the list:

[Vindicator's Chain Girdle] - This is probably first on my list. I'm still using a blue belt from Shattered Halls. It's OK, but nothing great. This is a pretty hefty boost, isn't too horribly expensive, and we're not even trying Illhoof yet in Kara, so getting the belt from him is unlikely any time soon.

[Gladiator's Chain Helm] -- This is my 1B option. If Prince goes down and I'm lucky enough to get my T4 token, this can go on the back burner, but I don't really want to wait another month for a shot at a Kara boss while I can be upgrading and earning more honor. If I can acquire about 30K honor *and* don't get the T4 helm, I'm getting both this and the belt. :)

[Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe] -- This nifty little item showed up on Hunter's "radar" everywhere with the advent of Season 3. It's only 1000 arena points, requires no rating, and is Hunter-only. Pretty nice stats when equipped with a +35 Agility enchant (or +70 AP, I suppose). Not sure I want to splurge and drop 1000 arena points yet, but I'm getting sick of how goofy Legacy looks and this axe is just mean looking. There aren't too many upgrades beyond Legacy in sub-25-man content, so I might just have to get this.

Anyone else using PVP rewards to fill in gear "holes" from their raiding gear? Comment away! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Such a deal! Buy two! :P

I suppose complaining about a silly computer is along the lines of "there's no such thing as bad publicity", but I'll do it anyway. Not really complaining, I guess, just surprise. Dell has just announced (as reported over on WoWInsider) a pair of XPS "Gaming" laptops themed for World of Warcraft. $4500. Ouch!

Granted, these puppies sport some neat stuff like SLI video and 2GB of RAM and some sort of LCD panel -- I haven't seen detailed pictures -- akin to the one on the Logitech G15 gaming keyboards. I'm guessing this will show things like who's speaking on Ventrilo or TeamSpeak and be configurable to show other things. Again... I haven't really looked. Once I saw the price tag, I pretty much lost interest.

Wow... they have WoW pre-installed, some neat graphics on the case, and a couple of nice features. For $4500 they should be cooking my breakfast and one-shotting Kara bosses.... at least.

There's no such thing as a "gaming laptop". I bought a laptop about two years ago. I did splurge for a dedicated video card with the intent/hope that I would be able to play games. For some older games, it's perfectly fine. For WoW, which isn't exactly power-hungry when it comes to CPU or GPU, it's marginal. I can play solo fine in most places. Cities are iffy. Raiding is not so good. It's manageable, but FPS are quite low and that can cause enough delay and lag in fights like Shade of Aran or Prince to actually kill you and contribute to wipes. For any newer games, forget it. Granted, I only spent about $1000 on it, but that's still a good chunk of change (for me).

A $4500 computer with dual video cards will *never* sit on your lap. :) You can call it a portable computer if you like, but it's not a laptop, unless you're 100% certain that you're done procreating or have legs made from asbestos. My $1000 laptop is too hot to sit on my lap and it's not putting out half the heat this beast is going to.

For that much money, unless you travel a ton and have to have your WoW fix along with you, you'd be better served getting a *really* extreme desktop PC that would probably be about as portable as that laptop. But... if you buy one and have some spare change, feel free to send one to me. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

I have a blog?

Oh, yeah... how 'bout that... I have a blog. :)

For my two "regular" readers, yes, I'm still alive, but have been so busy with real life and work that my time to play is very limited. I could spend that time here typing stuff up for the two of you to read, but instead have chosen to actually play WoW, and a couple of other things. Since WoW continues to be mostly Karazhan until we can gear up enough to hit Zul'Aman -- we *want* to go, but don't think we *can* go -- I'll offer up a slight change of pace.

The Orange Box: This is the greatest deal in games right now, particularly if -- like me -- you haven't played Half-Life 2 yet. My machine just wasn't up to the task until recently (see below), so I never played this game. I'm still working my way through the single-player game of HL2 and haven't even dipped into the expansions. Just the 3 Half-Life games are a bargain at $50, but the Orange Box also includes Team Fortress 2 *and* a game called Portal. Portal is a different kind of shooter, in that the only thing you can shoot are portals. It's hard to describe without posting screenshots and you can find those elsewhere. Suffice to say that for $50, this is gaming goodness in a box. With the "silly season" approaching, if you have a gamer friend who hasn't played these titles, you might have a very happy friend were you to pick up this box. :)

Mythos: This game is still in beta test -- invite only and no I don't have any. It's by the same people that made Hellgate: London. I haven't played that game -- and don't plan to -- but Mythos is in beta and will be free. The guys from H:L are several ex-Blizzard employees who were instrumental in bringing the Diablo series to life, including Bill Roper. Mythos is akin to Diablo, but is only played online. Not sure how the zones and such are instanced, but towns are populated with other players and you can group. You'll eventually be able to form guilds and such. It's addictively fun and simple and reminds a LOT of Diablo, which is a good thing.

Crysis: I haven't bought the game yet, but have played through the demo *at least* three times, trying out different tactics and generally ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the graphics and the environments. Me playing *any* demo more than once is a major time commitment, so to do it three times is an indication that it's pretty good. :) If you have a decent machine, it's worth checking out the demo at least. Big download, though. You've been warned.

Anyway... that's a quick update. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting WoW-wise to post in the next few days. Back to Karazhan for Curator and beyond this evening.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hallow's End events...

Hallow's End is upon us, and there are some fun things to do in Azeroth for the next couple of weeks.

The best new events involve the Headless Horseman, pictured at right with his head still attached. Hmm.... The "newb" event involves being in some of the starter villages of Azeroth (Razor Hill, Brill, or near Silvermoon, for the Horde) when the Headless Horseman attacks. He flies into the town and throws flaming pumpkins onto buildings. You form a "bucket brigade" and help to save the village. It would seem that when the fires are out, he lands and can be attacked. (I'm not sure if this is timed or because of the fires being put out.) After killing him (he seemed to be one-shot when I did the event), everyone in the area can loot his head and it gives some silly items for you to use with very short timers. Have fun with them.

The "uber" event involves getting four level-70-ish friends and heading into the Scarlett Monstary's Graveyard wing. (Its the far left -- northern? -- door for those that haven't been in there in a while). You interact with a pumpkin shrine and a grave and start the event where you need to defeat the Headless Horseman -- and friends -- in order to win the loot.

I won't spoil the details and you can find information about the event on WoWWiki and elsewhere if you really want. It's a pretty fun event and can be repeated daily by each member of your party. It counts against your 10 daily quests. The loot is actually quite good (3 epic rings and an epic plate helm, primariy) and there's the chance for a couple of fun items, including various magic broom mounts (ground and flying) and a Hallow's End-themed non-combat pet.

If you haven't been back to Azeroth in a while, it's worth a trip to have some fun in Hallow's End. Don't forget to trick-or-treat innkeepers, too!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Patch 2.3 PTR Highlights...

Yup... I'm still here. For my few regular readers... sorry 'bout the hiatus. Not sure how much my posting pace will pick up in the next few weeks, but I'll try to get some more info up.

For those that don't follow this stuff until it comes out, I thought I would post my thoughts about changes that jumped out at me from the recently posted patch notes for v2.3 of WoW. These changes are on the PTR now. I'm still in the process of getting my character(s) copied over to have a quick loot. I'd actually like to try to get into Zul'Aman and learn the first boss or two to help my guild prepare.

Now... on with the highlights:
Experience: The amount of experience needed to gain a level has been decreased between levels 20 and 60. In addition, the amount of experience granted by quests has been increased between levels 30 and 60.
Well... this is just awesome. Whether you're new to the game or just waiting to level an alt -- like me -- this is a welcome (and frankly much-needed) change. Reports are that the decrease in experience needed is on the order of 15% and the increase to quest rewards around 30%. Not sure how much that reduces the total time to level -- math is hard -- but it should speed things up pretty dramatically.
Pets will try to get behind their targets when engaging in melee combat.
I can see this being both good and bad. We'll have to wait and see. My guild got to -- but didn't down -- The Prince in Karazhan this week. My pet being behind the Prince put him in range of the Infernals sometimes and meant I had to pull him out of the fight to keep him alive. Not sure what other fights this may affect. Gonna take a "wait-and-see" on this one.
Arcane Shot (Ranks 6 and above) now dispel 1 Magic effect in addition to their normal damage.
This is clearly a boon for PVP'ers. Not sure how much use it has in the raiding world. It's not really in my usual Aimed/Auto shot rotation, but I do pop it off occasionally. May have to start using it more and seeing if it helps. Can't think of any Kara fights where we're dispelling bosses.
Serpent Sting: The total damage dealt by this sting is now also increased by 10% of your ranged attack power.
This same change -- the RAP boosting damage -- is being made to most of the traps as well. I don't often drop traps for the damage they do, so this one is "meh" from a raiding perspective. Again... appears to be a PVP bonus and I'm betting that Survival and even Marksmen hunters are going to like this.
Players can now track fishing nodes. This ability is learned from a journal sometimes found in crates obtained through fishing.
Having recently levelled fishing up to usable levels, this will be great. I've moved on from Terrokar fishing and am into Nagrand, but I still need to fish in Terrokar to get [Golden Fish Sticks] for my friendly neighborhood Priest (and other healers as I have time).
* Stylin' hats no longer require Zhevra leather.
* Greatly increased the radius of the Drums of Battle, Drums of Restoration, Drums of Speed, and Drums of War.
* Removed the casting time from the Drums of Battle, Drums of Restoration, Drums of Speed, and Drums of War.
* Slightly increased the radius of Drums of Panic.
* Reduced the casting time of Drums of Panic and added a global cooldown equal to the casting time.
* Drums of Speed and Drums of Restoration are no longer world drop recipes, and can now be obtained from the Mag'har and Kurenai faction vendors with revered standing.
* A new recipe is available from Grand Master leatherworking trainers to create glove reinforcements, providing a substantial armor bonus. Reinforcements are a permanent enchantment and cannot be placed with other permanent enchantments.
* New recipes are available from Grand Master leatherworking trainers to make 20 slot quivers and ammo pouches.
* New recipes are available from the Honor Hold, Thrallmar, and Lower City quartermasters to create 24 slot quivers and ammo pouches.
Leatherworking is 2nd only to Engineering in the needs-a-little-love category, so these are some decent changes. They still need to add a bit more. I'd like to see some stats on quivers maybe that only LW'ers can use or just a little more "umph". I'll stick with it for now, even though re-spec'ing to Engineering is so tempting with their new mount.
The Chess Event chess in Karazhan now has a tap list so it can only be looted by players who were involved in the chess event.
This kinda sucks. In a few cases, we've summoned folks up to be able to loot an item. It's usually a raid member on an alt that needs/wants something. I guess this means more void crystals. Ppphhttt.
Aether rays can now be wrangled earlier.
Thank heaven! Hate getting off a (un)lucky crit and killing the buggers.
Items that have cooldowns will now display the base cooldown time in the item tooltip.
Guess I won't need OmniCC anymore?
You can now send up to 12 items in a single mail message.
Another add-on bites the dust! :)
Corpses that belong to someone in your party, but that you cannot loot will say in the corpse mouseover who has loot rights on that corpse. This will help skinners who want to know who to talk to in order to skin their corpse, as well as master looters when special loot drops on a normal monster. Everyone will then see that there is a monster that the master looter has loot rights on.
As an occasional master looter for my guild, this is awesome. Helps to see if something is sparkly because there's something *I* need to loot, or if someone's just being lazy about picking up their horse tails. :)

What's your favorite change from the patch notes?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Rig...

Yay! I've been a little absent from the blog for a few days (a week?) mostly because I've been spending a lot of time spec'ing out and now building a new computer. My existing desktop machine is a 5-year-old+ hunk-a-junk. Well... it's OK... it's just not cutting it anymore, even in WoW which isn't terribly demanding on hardware. My newer laptop does OK, but was having some difficulty with dropping me from WoW in certain critical spots (Karazhan for one). Another guildmate with a desktop computer had problems in the same spot and neither of us can figure it out. My household *needed* a new computer. I was starting to worry about losing years worth of digital photos and other items and it was just time.

I finally got the go-ahead, made up a list on NewEgg, and managed to get up the gumption to hit the "buy" button. (I don't spend money well.)

Parts all came yesterday and after about a 2 1/2 hour build, I was up and running with Vista -- yeah, I know -- and a new rig. Haven't had the chance to try anything too fancy in WoW yet, but lets just say it's like a whole new game when you can actually crank up all the fancy graphics settings *and* still get 60+ FPS. Quite nice. The world looks all new and shiny. 'Course the WoW install took longer than Vista with 8 CDs (versus 1 DVD) and a giant patch to get me from Burning Crusade to v2.2.2.

So far so good. I'll have a more directly related WoW post soon... I hope. I'm off for home to finish installing stuff. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saying "Hi" to the Prince...

Holy crap, I'm tired. Not sure if it's allergies or a cold or a little too much WoW the last few days, but the coffee is not doing a thing this morning. The blog has also been a bit neglected. I have a dozen posts in my head, but can't manage to get any of them down on "paper". There's only about two of you nice folks reading this anyway, but I'll try to get you some content. :)

Our band of misfits heading into Kara again this past Monday. After Sunday night and with Curator down, we ran to the ramp above the "gazebo" and formed up. The run through the trash went mostly fine. Our main tank died a couple of times for unknown reasons. Just seemed to get hit harder than expected I guess. The off-tank was able to quickly pick-up the mob in these situations. I'm pretty sure the deaths were minimal on the run-in.

Since the Shade can't be tanked, our main tank swapped to his Warlock (for Banish and Fear) and our off-tank swapped to his mage. First shot went unluckily, I think. We were doing OK. I don't think we had any early deaths (maybe my pet, which hurts, but is mostly my fault). But... as luck would have it, we got hit with the polymorph and the elementals at the same time. There might have been a blizzard in there, too? Any
way... we were broken out of the sheep by the elementals beating on us. Without being sheeped, we couldn't heal up, so when he hit us with his fireballs, much of the raid went down in one volley. Wipe.

We had the right group, so we just formed up again, buffed up and went at him. This time, DPS was much stronger than the first time. His health was at least 10-15% below his mana for most of the fight. We managed to get the elementals early enough to deal with them, and our warlock did yeoman's work keeping them occupied. We managed to kill one, even, and the others were feared and banished. I think Aran
was very low on health when the sheep came. This time we were OK and stayed woolly for long enough for everyone to heal up fully. By the time he broke us out of it, I believe he was below 10% health. Once I saw how many had survived the sheeping, I knew we had him. The last few percentages of health went down quick and he took the eternal (or at least weekly) dirt nap. It's a little hazy, but the Shade drops were Pendant of the Violet Eye which went to our main priest and Pauldrons of the Justice-Seeker which went to our holy Paladin. Everyone who could, got the book as well.

The best part was that we got this done fairly quickly and didn't have to worry about respawns in the library. We went on to the Chess Event and despite losing most of our pieces, we took out most of Medivh's, too, including the king and managed to win with about 3 pieces standing and everyone else watching. Drops were Legplates of the Innocent which also went to our Pally and the Girdle of Treachery -- hehe... a girdle -- which went to one of our rogues.

We also had three random drops during the run. The same pair of leather DPS gloves dropped twice and our off-tank walked off with the Boots of Elusion. (Now... how come I remember that item and not the one that dropped twice?)

We waved at the Prince and called it a night. Well... OK... he killed us twice, but we were just trying to say "Hello". Jeez... what a grump.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One Priest + Moroes = Hunter Heart Attack

My guild decided to add a third Kara night to the week... at least this week. The secondary goal is to get some new players and/or alternate characters into the instance and clear some of the early bosses. The primary goal was to get *at least* Moroes dead, which clears the way to Opera. This allows us -- with our typical 2 to 2 1/2 hour run times -- to get to Curator on the second night and then *really* push content on the third. We haven't had a real solid chunk of time to try the Shade of Aran, and he's been a thorn in our side so far.

So... we grab just about everyone who's online in the guild last night and summon them all to Karazhan. Seven or so of the attendees were regulars, but a few had swapped to different characters (either for needs or wants) and we had a few relative newbies in the group.

The big loss? Our main healer priest... and his shackle. Uh oh.

Clearing through the trash mobs was fine. We had one unlucky break where the MT missed a disarm on those hard-hitting two-pulls in the banquet hall. This resulted in a couple of deaths, but didn't slow us up too much.

The real fun began with Moroes and his four little friends. I don't claim to be a great hunter, but I usually do OK. With my recent luck with gear, I can bring the hurt and usually do a good job trapping and playing my role. I mentioned on the the guild forums that I thought -- with some backup from a Paladin for fear -- that I could keep a mob trapped for the fight to make up for the loss of the priest. I was right... but it took a couple of tries to get the system down... and it was nerve wracking. *pant*

First pull coming. OK. I'm nervous. Trap down. Cooldown almost up. I give the OK. The pull starts. Pet attacks the "skull". I trap my mob. Blast away! Going OK... skull almost dead... and... the pet dies. The mob is dead, but so's Qantaqa. Dang. That's gonna hurt a bit. So... I watch my trap cooldown like a hawk, reposition myself as needed, and start dropping more traps. The second kill target is down and we're all onto Moroes. Things are OK, but DPS is a little slow. Duh... your pet is dead, dummy. He's 30+% of your DPS. Dang. I'm on about my 6th or 7th trap and I'm up against the cooldown. I barely got that trap down. I warn the raid -- particularly the Paladin -- to pick him up for a fear. He does. Awesome. DPS is still a little light and now I'm a Garrote'd. Dang. Paladin bubbles me because I'm needed as a CC'er (nevermind my DPS), but the fight is taking too long. Too many people have Garrote and can't get it off. Wipe. 10%. Dang.

Second attempt went about like that, except my pet lived this time. Unfortunately, at about 10%, Moroes killed the off-tank, blinded the main tank, and made a bee-line for me. Stabby, stabby. I'm dead. Trap is down, but the tank can't find it to pull the "loose" add onto it. Moroes down to like 2%, but the raid wipes because the tank is taking double hits and a few are already dead from Garrotes. Double-dang.

One guild member swaps from a shaman to a paladin. Gives us one extra way to remove Garrote and an emergency undead fear should both a trap and a first fear break somehow. This time, things are much better. We've got a system down. The first two adds drop pretty quickly and we can shift to Moroes. My traps are holding. Same deal. Get to about the 7th trap and I'm calling for the Paladin to help out. This time, though, Moroes is *much* lower on health than the last time and we've got it. Not sure if we had just a little more luck or if the second paladin really made that much of a difference. I don't recall having to call for him. I think we just "figured it out" with the group we had. Drops were useful to folks. Yay.

For good measure, we went and killed Attumen, too. :)

Mission accomplished. The way is clear to Opera and Curator for Sunday and then a full blown 2-hour shot at the Shade of Aran on Monday. We're gonna get him this week!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Second Heroic: The Mechanar

It's going to end soon, right? My luck has to come crashing down on me like some giant Elekk taking a dump on my head and squaring karma with the world (of Warcraft). Doesn't it? :)

I've always said that if it wasn't for bad luck, my characters would have none at all. I've been playing WoW since beta and my account goes back to "Day 1". Drops usually eluded me, if not forever, for a long time. Every hunter in my guild or raid would get bows and guns before me. It wasn't exactly a running joke among my guild, but people noticed. The only exception to this rule I can think of was lucking out on a Beastmaster piece on our first successful completion of UBRS "back in the day".

Anyway... so it's a rainy Saturday in my area. No real plans. Family is busy, so I clear a mid-afternoon Mechanar run with my wife and off we go. I haven't done this instance in a while and it's only my second ever heroic. It goes great. No serious problems. We had one wipe (Feign, FTW) and one more close call, but got the two mini-bosses down and the 1st boss and collected 3 badges. We vote to continue on, skipping the 2nd "boss" and going to the last one. He's got two things that I want. The [Abacus of Violent Odds] and the [Beast Lord Helm]. The helm is probably a sidegrade but gives me an option if something else drops in Karazhan to replace either my chest or legs. The Abacus is on my want list. I didn't even check the heroic drops.

We fight our way down the hallway, and use some hit and run tactics (and the elevator) to make things a little simpler, and get to the final pull. Goes fine, and the boss comes running at us. That goes great, too. We've got a great group. My guild's MT, main Holy Paly, Shadow Priest and a PUG Mage. We loot the final boss and this item to the right pops up. I didn't see the helm or the Abacus, so I was a little disappointed... at first.

I didn't even notice the gloves. Then everyone was saying "grats". Huh? "The gloves, Annai." Oh. "The gloves?" "Yeah... you don't want 'em?" Hmm.... ::blush:: "Yeah... I guess I do. Thanks!"

Often when you loot stuff -- at least for me -- with something like RatingBuster, there's a decision to be made. "Yeah... it has more +Agil, but I lose X and Y." This was a no-brainer. I've been getting along fine with some decent quest reward gloves, but these new ones are better *in every category*. Doesn't happen that often, so it's a happy day. (Yeah... it's a dumb screenshot, since I didn't compare it to my existing gloves. Trust me... it's better.)

I'm running Recount in the background for this run, not really paying attention. I didn't gear-check the mage. The rest of the run is from our normal Kara group, so people are geared OK. I was pretty pleased. I had to do a bit of trapping, but still managed to keep the hunter gods happy by bringing -- as BRK puts it -- massive quantities of sustained DPS. I have more detail and a couple of more detailed screenshots, but I think I'll save them for another post. Gonna try more math.

(NOTE: Forgive the names on the images. For some reason, I thought I was in Botanica. :D)

Friday, September 14, 2007

First Heroic: Sethekk Halls

Another request from a guildmate this week on our boards. He had completed all the lead-ins for his Epic Mount quest (Druid) and needed a run through Heroic Sethekk Halls to get it done. We didn't have a ton of options for guild members to bring on this as we have a bit of 'alt-itis' going on and only a handful of folks were keyed for the Auchindoun instances. The group ended up with myself, the Druid, our near-full-time Warrior MT, our uber-holy Paladin and... we waited. We have a couple more keyed folks, particularly a rogue which would have been nice to have, but after waiting nearly 30 minutes for someone to log on, we finally hit our /friends list and LFG. Found an Elemental Shaman and in we went.

(Nice touch with the new instance portal graphic on a Heroic, Blizzard.)

Overall the run went pretty well. I died on the *very* first pull when the leader didn't realize that the mobs could not be CC'd. Ran right over the trap, poked me in the face, and down I went. The first boss was actually a pushover, and I've remembered multiple wipes on him in non-heroic runs. You have to kill the adds in a heroic on this boss. Focus fire. Get 'em down. You'll be fine.

Trash clearing was going pretty well until we got to the 4-pulls in the second to last room before the final boss. (The room with the packs of non-elite birds.) Our first pull or two were OK, but we weren't completely sure of the abilities (added) of some of the mobs and we got wiped out by a chain-fearing mob (whose name I now forget). We changed plans a little and gave me a different trap mob and the next couple of pulls were fine. On the last pull in that room, we got unlucky with another fear, and ended up pulling in two more adds. Luckily (at least for me), I lived long enough to kill one and feign away from the rest, and that made the recovery pull easier. I think the rest of the trash clears went fine in Anzu's room. (Anzu is the summonable Raven god and Druid epic mount boss.)

Anzu really wasn't hard at all. He's mostly a tank-and-spank. The druid needs to keep HoTs on these statues (or something) in the room that summon 3 helpers which provide damage mitigation, AoE damage to the adds, and speed boosts. At 66% and 33% the boss self-banishes and summons a bunch of adds. We really didn't have a problem with the adds or the boss and he went down on the first try. Yay for our Druid friend!

Unfortunately, we lost our Holy Paladin after this fight. We tried to continue on to the last boss with a new Rogue, but I think we missed the Paladin's heals a bit or something. We tried the boss twice, but I had to log off. Thankfully, the group was able to pull in another friend and downed the boss after a couple more attempts.

"Props" to our Druid how is also an alchemist and was very appreciative of all the help he was getting. He passed out bunches of potions and elixirs at the start of the instance, several of which I actually saved for Kara runs, since I was worried about over-DPS'ing and pulling mobs off our tank, which I did on the first couple of pulls and learned my lesson. :)

TIP OF THE DAY #1: If you're a heroic group with only a Hunter for crowd control... DON'T BREAK TRAPS! Mages can just re-cast Polymorph. Priests can just re-cast Shackle. Warlock pets can re-cast Seduce. (I know these classes might only take one hit from some heroic mobs to be killed, but....) Hunters need to wait upwards of 30 seconds to re-trap. That time is a death sentence in a heroic. Pets cannot tank a mob for long, even with healing.

TIP OF THE DAY #2: If you're a hunter planning on progressing to Karazhan and/or heroic instances, get yourself at least 2 pieces of the Beast Lord set. That 4 second extra cushion may not seem like much, but it *really* helps. It was clearly noticeable by me in Sethekk last night and I was able to chain trap much more easily with a 20-second trap on a 26-second cooldown just by moving my position and giving that 6 second cushion for space.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Math is hard...

So... a guildmate is trying to hit revered with Thrallmar and asks for some help with a Shattered Halls run last night. I'm not really busy. Shattered Halls is not my favorite place. But... he's our guild's Holy Paladin and is basically awesome at his job... keeping me and *especially* my pet alive. Oh yeah... he heals the tank, too. :) He needs rep... we're going to go help him out. We fiddle around and finally find a 5th, a fairly well-geared Frost Mage from an allied guild. We've run with this guy a million times in Zul'Gurub and he's great and cool and will do awesome and not complain about occasional sheep breakage or anything else. We're all set. Warrior, Holy Paladin, Mage and 2 Hunters. This is *NOT* e-peen stroking, but more of a request for comment on whether this silly trinket -- [Romulo's Poison Vial] -- is worth continuing to use.

I was going to post the total damage image I cropped for the run, but there no real value in that, so here's my detail from the run:

Number 6 on that list is Romulo's Poison Vial damage. 2.2% of my damage? Really? For an epic trinket? When I rolled on that item, no one seemed to want it. The rogue in the run had already taken the fist weapon from the Big Bad Wolf -- I think it was that run -- so I rolled. Supposedly a good DPS trinket and does proc on both ranged and melee attacks. But is 15K damage for a run where I hit for over 900K really worth it? I guess I need to actually run the math, but "math is hard". The +Hit on the item is really nice, but I can pretty much max that out (at least for Kara bosses) with other trinkets and items. Unfortunately, the other trinkets that I have right now are all on the same cooldown for their "Use:" skill, which is why I've been using this and the [Core of Ar'kelos] as my primary trinket pair. (Yes... I know... it's green, but I don't seem to have better.)

I almost feel obligated to use the Vial because I rolled on it, but I did nearly as much *melee* damage during the run for cripe's sake as I did with this trinket. I guess 2% is 2%, but if I had another trinket -- now I forget what I have -- that boosted my +Crit, would that make up the difference? I guess it's time to get Excel or a calculator out and do the math. :P

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

8 Percent

Back into Karazhan last night and through the "soul destroying" trash.

(I love that quote. Thanks, Gerka!)

We decided to head to the Chess Event and collect our "free loot" first. In hindsight, this might not have been the best idea. Unfortunately, a duplicate pair of Fiend Slayer Boots dropped in addition to a pair of Shaman leggings. No Shaman in the group, though, so our long trip up to Chess ended with a bit of a letdown and resulted in 2 shards. I was almost convinced to take a second pair of the boots and socket them differently, but I couldn't bring myself to loot *another* purple. I don't gear-swap much at all anyway.

The Shade of Aran fight was definitely a learning experience. The first attempt went OK and we got him below 30%, but all the reading and video watching can only prepare you so much for a fight like that. We lost a person or two to Arcane Explosions and some to Blizzard, but the end result: Shade 1, EoC 0.

I think our second attempt went about the same. The third attempt was the best by far. I was having some issue with running away fast enough from the explosion, though, and died too early. Needing my DPS, the Druid was kind enough to blow his battle rez, but it still wasn't enough. We managed to pull him all the way down to 8%, but at that point, we had only 2 players left and once he sheeped them to drink, it was pretty much over. It healed them, but when they came out of the blast, they were too low on health and the druid was in cat form. Bummer.

On the final attempt, I was once again caught with my head up my rear end and was killed within the first minute by an explosion. I'm going to blame this on my old, decrepit PC. I seriously need to upgrade *something* until I can replace the rig. I just wasn't seeing the cast bar or the "pull" soon enough to get out of the way. Was very depressing and I felt like I let my guild down... a lot. I'm still pissed about it this morning and can't wait until next week and a chance to redeem myself.

The end result was Shade 4, EoC 0. The group did clear Maiden before I got on to "warm up" and we did Chess -- albeit without any real reward. Total of 6 bosses/events killed and one new one attempted. Next week, I think we're going to make a few more attempts at Aran or maybe even attempt to clear to him and hit him a few times on our first night. The trip to Chess -- and the interminable death run to Aran -- meant we could only make 4 attempts before the re-spawn got us and forced us to have to call the run.

A good learning experience, I guess, but folks were pretty bummed out when we called it and started to log off.

We need to add a third Karazhan night, but that's another topic.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now I'm scared...

My guild is getting pretty good at this Karazhan thing. :)

Two weeks ago, we had to do some swapping of characters to bring our DPS up to the point of having enough for The Curator's Astral Flares. This week, our "set" group just owned Curator. (We won't mention the three tries on Big Bad Wolf. :D)

Basically the same classes were present, but the flares were going down very quickly and we had no problem with the 10th of each wave and swapping DPS to the boss during his Evocations. DPS was so good, that we only saw two Evocations. (I know this is "normal" for seasoned Kara groups, but this is only our 3rd time even getting to Curator.) The speed the fight was going was weird enough that I had to yell out in TeamSpeak, "He's enraged... go all out!" I think a few others were as surprised as I was that we only saw two waves of flares.

So we managed to take out Moroes (1-shot), Opera (:cough:), and Curator (1-shot). We were up against our self-imposed time limit and lost a player, but we did decide to back-track quickly and take out Attumen to try to get a hunter alt a crossbow and also to clear the way to the blacksmith for repairs.

Tonight we will make our first attempt at Shade of Aran and collect our "free" Chess event loot. If we're able to, we may even poke our head in on The Prince and say "Hi".

Nifty new banner/signature tool is out there. Here's mine:

EDIT: Oh... almost forgot. Here's one to file under the "Good Deeds are Rewarded" folder. My guildmate was running Botanica. (I've been in there a bunch. Never got the drop(s) I wanted.) It's a Sunday afternoon. I'm normally not on, but the weather was crappy and the family was tired. He calls out that they're losing their DPS'er just before the last two bosses. I figure, "What the hell?". I'll help out a guildmate and help him finish off the instance. He was working on rep or looking for a drop or something. I didn't even care. It was 30 minutes at most and I could help out. We drop the "plant boss" with no problem and move on. Not even sure I looked at the loot. We get to Warp Splinter and he does down with very little trouble. Cleanest kill I've ever had on him, actually. What drops. You guessed it... [Beast Lord Cuirass]. While not an enormous upgrade, it does give me two pieces of the set, which gets me my trap bonus. I also had the mats lying around for a +6 to all Stats enchant and found some cheap but decent gems on the AH, and it pretty handily out-classes my previous chest piece. My luck continues with drops. It's really scaring me now.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Slow week...

Not much to report this week, but I do have a few things going on. Karazhan was a no go for me this week. The guild had to cancel one run for lack of numbers and on the second night, I ended up hanging out with my family. That's a good thing, but I've got a little Kara-withdrawal going on. My run of good luck with drops has got to end sometime soon -- it's so UNLIKE me -- but [Legacy] and the [Worgen Claw Necklace] have eluded me in Kara so far (of the bosses we've been clearing for a few weeks). Several others have gotten the necklace, and it's not a huge upgrade. Legacy is another matter. With either Savagery or the +35 Agility enchant, that's a monster weapon. Tough deal there, though, since it's a 1 in 3 shot to even get the right boss (The Crone) and then you have to hope she drops it. I've never actually *seen* the Wizard of Oz event, although the guild has done it once, I think.

In other Hunter news, I've been training up a scorpid, which seems to be the "flavor of the month" pet for hunters. BRK had a good write-up on why a few weeks ago, so I won't go into excruciating detail as to why everyone likes them. They're do for a nerf anyway, given the numbers some are seeing with them on boss fights, so I don't expect it to last.

Basically, the deal is that you get a level 70 Scorpid *but* you down-rank the Scorpid Poison skill you put on it. (Silithus scorpids have this one, for the record.) Instead of putting Rank 5, which does a little more damage, but has an 8 second duration and a 4 second recast time, you put Rank 4, which also has a 4 second recast but a *10* second duration. The poison also stacks up to 5 times. The advantage of the 10 second timer is that the pet can actually miss once, but not have the stacking effect go away. They'd have to miss twice in a row to lose the stack. The other thing about the poison is that it gets a bonus based on attack power trinkets and skills *at the time of the first hit*. So what the "big boys" do is send in the scorpid without Scorpid Poison on auto-cast, hit all the trinkets and skills they can hit to boost their AP, *then* turn on the poison and let it start to stack. If you can keep your pet with enough focus and don't need to use Growl or other skills, the pet can get the stack up to 5 and keep in there. This means the poison is proc'ing for 300-400 damage per second (with decent trinkets, buffs, etc.). Provided you can keep the pet alive and he/she/it doesn't miss twice in a row applying the poison, you can keep that damage up indefinitely. I have yet to try it on a boss fight (forgot last night in Black Morass), but it's supposedly pretty impressive. I have tried it on regular mobs, and it's fine, but requires a lot of micro-management. Not sure I'm up for it.

(Well... that was longer than intended.)

In Warlock news, I continue to plug away at the mats for the rest of my Frozen Shadoweave set. I've actually done much of the Primal water farming on Annai as I was working on getting the scorpid up to snuff, so it's been sort of a two-birds-with-one-stone approach. I can do my dailies up in Skettis, too. The Primals are actually going quickly, but the timer on the Shadowcloth is going to be the sticking point. I may have to check the AH and start making the other special cloths and trading them. It's a long haul, but since my warlock is not really getting in on the Karazhan runs yet, it's not horribly important. I'll keep at it. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Curator... Dead! Check Mate!

This is a couple of days late, but my guild managed to down both The Curator and fight our way to the Chess event on Monday night. Yay for us!

We had cleared Moroes, Opera, and Maiden on Sunday and that left us a quick kill of Attumen and then into the side door for our run to The Curator. Attumen went down like the sissy he's become and we regrouped (a few people swapping alts for mains) at the back door. The trash to Curator was downed pretty quickly, and we made our first attempt.

We were doing significantly better on this attempt than in the previous week and were keeping up with the flares pretty well. We were still marginal on DPS, though. Our shadow priest was complaining that his big hitting spells had too much cast time and his DoTs not enough time to run. We got to the 4th Evocation or so, and started to have healers running low or out of mana and it resulted in a wipe. An "improved wipe", but still no sparklies.

A couple of members decided to swap characters. Our shadow priest went to his hunter and our holy paladin went to his shaman. This appeared to make all the difference. The extra hunter DPS on the flares -- and the pet -- allowed us to down the flares in that magical 8-9 second window and we were able to put the 10th one down in time to get DPS on The Curator during Evocation. The shaman has those great totems and nice chain healing ability to keep up with flare damage. On the first Evocation, we dropped him to about 66% -- right on schedule -- and went back to killing flares. Most of what we'd read/heard indicated that he should drop somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd Evocation. Second Evocation went well, too. No deaths to this point and he was down around 35%. Back to flares and we continued to time these well. On the 3rd Evocate, we really poured it on, and got him below the enrage point before he came out. Yay... no more flares and just DPS the snot out of him. He went down. No one in our group did. We went from smashing our faces into him a week ago, to smashing his face with no deaths. Cheers for us!

As luck would have it, [Garona's Signet Ring] and the Paladin/Rogue/Shaman T4 Glove token dropped. Our holy paladin was bummed out, having missed the drop since he swapped characters, but at least he was on his Shaman. The protection paladin won the roll anyway, and -- as luck would have it -- I won the roll on the ring. Uh oh... that's two epics in two nights. Should I have not rolled? My assumption was that since everyone from "night one" had gotten either an item or a purple shard and that the loot was "reset". After further discussion this week in our guild forums, no one seemed upset with me and it was a fairly nice upgrade from the blue ring I was sporting.

As many guilds/groups find... the trash leading into the Chess Event area is -- as my guildmate put it -- "soul destroying". There were a few complaints but we managed to get through it. We suffered one wipe very near the end when line-of-sight got us through a doorway. Other than taking a lot of time and our raid leader losing his notes on the mobs and their charms, things went well albeit slowly. On a Monday night with The Curator down, no one was willing to give up until we got our "free loot" at Chess.

The Chess Event took us two tries while everyone figured out how to move and fight, but the second time was easy, even if Medivh did cheat... twice? The chest was opened and wouldn't you know it... more hunter loot. The [Fiend Slayer Boots] and [Ring of Recurrence] dropped. I was sure the other hunter in the group was going to roll on the boots, but as the timer ticked down for disenchant, the other guy indicated that he had better boots in his PVP reward item. I rolled. I was still wearing -- on-and-off -- either a blue or a green pair, and these were clearly an upgrade, even un-enchanted and un-socketed. Holy cow! Three epics in two nights.

I was tired and feeling a little guilty the next morning, but after 'splaining myself in our guild forums, no one seemed fazed. I have nearly perfect attendance for raid nights and since I'm gearing up and growing DPS, there's no reason for items to be DE'd. So... I'm up to 6 Karazhan epics and really noticing the improved damage output. I still have to get gems and enchants on the boots and enchant my spear (still trying to decide whether to enchant my [Sonic Spear] or my Thrallmar rep one).

Anyone out there with thoughts? :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

I think my guildmates are getting mad...

Not really... but am I hearing a few more, "Damn, more hunter loot" comments over TeamSpeak. Last week, I was along for my first (guild second) completion of the Opera event in Karazhan. We downed Romulo and Julianne and I ended up with [Romulo's Poison Vial]. Still deciding whether it's worth the trinket slot, but no one else seemed to want it and I didn't want to see it DE'd. We use a simple /roll system, so no DKP to be spent. The guild would rather see the same person get 5 items a run (if they're upgrades) than see things turned into shards, so it's all good.

This week, we had another good run. Dropped Moroes on the first attempt. My lag was horrible, and my framerates not much better for some reason (too many addons?), and I died about 30 seconds into the fight. Not even sure what killed me as I never saw it. Thankfully, I had done my trap duty before I took a dirt nap, so....

On we went to Opera, and got the Big Bad Wolf for the first time. People seemed a bit unprepared for the Little Red Riding Hoof (LRRH) debuff, so we had 2 wipes, but managed to get him down on the third attempt, albeit with only half of us still standing.

Quick Hunter Tips:

1. You can Feign Death when you get the LRRH debuff. Trick is to stay "dead" until it wears off. It can also be resisted, so pay attention.
2. The same person can get the LRRH debuff twice in a row. As a hunter, if this happens to you, you'd better run, because your Feign cooldown will not be up.
3. (General Tip) Don't rub against the walls or the props. It will slow you down and may let him catch and eat you.

Back to our story. So we resurrect everyone and loot the wolf and [Big Bad Wolf's Paw] *and* [Beastmaw Pauldrons] drop.

Thankfully it wasn't the [Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle] and the shoulders, or I think I would have been excommunicated. I took the shoulders and the rogues fought over the paw. It's not a dedicated Hunter item, but could be an upgrade for some with a decent off-hand. I don't really like dual-wielding (yet). When they release the +20 Agility enchant, I might change my mind, but right now I think the RAP and general stats you get from the 2-handers -- particularly polearms -- are much better than dual wielding.

We were running out of time for the night, so we backtracked to Maiden and killed her for fun, although she did get us once too. :) (Unlucky bit that. Our priest got hit with Holy Fire *just* at the wrong moment.) Amazing how hard that fight seemed just a month ago, and now that we've gotten the dance down, she's almost what I would consider "farm" status.

Tonight, we're going to tackle Attumen quickly for access to the blacksmith and then smash our faces against the Curator for another 90 minutes or so. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kara key for warlock: Check!

My guildmates were nice enough to run my warlock through both CoT:Durnholde and CoT:Black Morass is pretty short order last night and I got my second Karazhan key. We don't currently have a "regular" warlock in our Karazhan groups, so this'll give us options when encountering certain bosses or even when clearing trash.

Durnholde was a piece of cake. We were kind of overpowered for it, but did have a 68 along. Feral druid, Holy paladin, Frost mage and two warlocks made pretty short work of it. I had already done this instance once on my warlock, but had missed talking to Thrall and my questline didn't advance. Grrr.... Drops were less than stellar for our group, including *2* leather shoulders that the Druid didn't want/need and a mail Shaman item. Would be nice if they could weight the loot tables a *little* more towards the group, but I guess it could be argued that the leather drops were appropriate. But two shoulders?

Black Morass also turned out to be easy. Our 68 Warlock had to leave, but another guildmate (the GM, actually) stepped up after having just run BM with *another* group in the guild doing it for keying.

NOTE: WOOT! to the guild for having two simultaneous 5-mans going. (I told you we were kind of small... but feisty! :D)

He brought along his 70 Warlock, so we had gobs of DPS. The GM took the adds and the rest of us smacked the hell out of the Rift Keepers. Didn't really even have any close calls -- death-wise -- until the last boss. The second -- and usually most difficult -- went down easily. The tank managed to lose the stacking debuff, and after that it was simple. We lost the 2nd 'lock on the last boss. Think he pulled agro and couldn't get the big ol' dragon off him soon enough. Might've been a Time Stop in there, too, preventing a heal. We had to 4-man him down from about 75%, but it still was relatively simple. Slower, but simple.

Got a nice pair of shoulders (although too small on my Orc) that's apparently a re-colored Tier 2 item. I got the robe from Steamvault the previous night, so I'm looking a little less like a color-blind pimp and a little more "cool". Rest of the drops ended up DE'd, too, including some nice tanking pants and a sword. Bear tanks don't like plate.

Black Morass is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of places. I have to admit I waffle myself. When I complete it successfully, it's damn fun. When you wipe or it bugs out -- like it did to "Team 1" last night -- it's incredibly frustrating. Last night was fun.

N.B. Picture of Medivh -- as "The Prophet" -- from WoWWiki and Warcraft III, I think, for my one (and only, currently) commenter. Enjoy. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Closer to 2nd Karazhan key...

My guildmates were nice enough to lead my warlock into Steamvaults last night to get the last key part that I needed. Good (not great) run. We had problems with double "pack" pulls on two occasions. Not really anyone's fault. LoS and other issues in there make pulling not that much fun. After that, though, things went great. We got the key and then decided to keep going. First two bosses were one-shot, but we had to take a second attempt on the last boss. He's a pain and a bit of a dance routine with the tank (the good one) and the tanks (the bad ones). Our paladin sort of pathed the boss in front of the fishtank on the first attempt and made it hard for us to target it, which resulted in us *not* destroying the tank, which results (almost always) in the tank dying to the enraged/buffed boss. Wipe. Second try was much better and everything went as planned. Silly Beast Lord item dropped, while I was on my warlock, of course. Luckily, I already had that piece on Annai. The shadow priest with the alt-hunter was less pleased, as he had never even seen a Beast Lord item.

Anyway... on to Caverns of Time. I need to re-do Durnholde, unfortunately, since I messed up the first time and let someone else talk to Thrall thinking that would advance my questline. Duh. Then it's on to the "fun" of Black Morass. Actually... given the gear levels of most of the people in my guild capable of helping with a Black Morass run, it should be a piece of cake. Famous last words....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This curator is equipped for gallery protection... SHUT UP!

Grrr... stupid Curator. We're a casual guild and don't have several hours each night we schedule raids (currently Sunday and Monday) to beat our head against a single boss over and over again. We try to limit runs to 2 hours -- sometimes a bit more.

This past weekend, we had a great run into Karazhan.

On Saturday, we decided to attempt to make a beeline for the Curator, so we hit Moroes first. One shot. Woot! We head for Opera next. Now... my guild has taken down Opera once without me, so it's not exactly a guild first, but damned if we didn't one-shot Romulo and Julianne, too. (It's our second week in a row getting this event.) It's the first time I had seen them die. I had my fingers crossed for the Beastmaw Pauldrons, but they didn't drop. Instead, Romulo's Poison Vial did. There was some chatter on TeamSpeak about this being a great DPS trinket. My +Hit was already pretty good, but I figured I'd roll on it. The only other melee/ranged DPS class in the group was the rogue, and he had already gotten the dagger from Moroes. Didn't do the casters any good. I didn't figure the tanks would want a trinket like that, so...

/roll 100
Annai rolls a 100

LOL! I am -- without a doubt -- the worst roller in WoW. Every time something comes up that I *really* want, I typically roll in the single digits. PUGs along for the ride with 8-9+ of *my* guild members have gotten both the crossbow and wrists from Attumen ahead of me in Kara. Random numbers hate me. Anyway... I wasn't even sure I *wanted* the item, but felt I should roll anyway. OF COURSE I BLOW A 100 ROLL ON THAT! I felt bad because even if someone else *did* want to roll, it's kind of useless to roll against that.

After reading up on the item, I'm not sure it's that great -- reviews are mixed -- but it did give me a 2+% DPS boost on the last Maiden fight (more later). At least that's what Recount said. So... I'll probably continue to use it until something better drops.

So... wonder of wonders. Both lead-ins to The Curator are down and it's only an hour into the run. We ran through the now open stage door, heading through the remainder of the Opera Hall area and on to the Broken Stair area. Got to the pre-Curator pulls and did mostly fine with them. And... there he was....

...and we wiped. Spectacularly. Didn't even see the first Evocation on the first attempt. The flares were murdering us. We tried twice, I think, and were stuck with some re-spawns and some guild members who needed to log.

No problem... we've got another *whole night* to try him out. The next night, we cleared the first trash mobs up to him and gave it three more tries. We got slightly better each time, but on each attempt, we had lost at least one raid member before the first Evocation and we weren't keeping up with the flares so not getting in damage during the Evocations. A few different strats were tried, but my thinking is that we didn't have enough class diversity. No warlock. No druid. No shaman. We were missing some buffs and potential tools there.

So as not to make the evening end on a bad note, we decided to back-track to Attumen and maybe Maiden. Attumen went down like a ton of bricks and dropped a couple of upgrades. The good thing for us is that people still need some things from him, so it's not just a rep kill. We lost the other hunter, but decided to press on to Maiden. I've only seen her go down once, and would you believe we actually one-shotted her, too, with 9 people. Pretty scary for our little band of casual misfits. :)

WUU! Wuuhuu!

Neither of my computers are exactly speed demons. A 4+ year old desktop and a nearly 2-year-old laptop. As such, I don't run a ton of mods in WoW.

That said, keeping them up-to-date and running -- on two systems -- even when Blizzard is not particularly speedy with updates and patches is a royal pain in the can. I tried several weeks ago to use WoWAceUpdater (WAU).

The first problem was that at the time, everyone was up in arms because they had added an advertising image linker to their updater. That... and I couldn't get the foolish thing to run. It would start, but not get out to the inner-tubes and just didn't work. So, I gave up, marked all my mods as "Load Out of Date" and moved on.

The second problem is that WAU only works with Ace mods. While I tend to gravitate towards the Ace mods in the hopes that they deliver what they advertise as being lightweight and generally less processor/memory "hoggy", I still have a couple of mods that I haven't found adequate replacements for through Ace.

The third was that their recent crash and downtime was problematic since that was the time period that I was looking to get my mods updated.

Enter WoW UI Updater! WUU!

This little baby seems to do what I need it to do. It updates from Ace, but also from all of the other major UI sites (Curse, UI @ World of War) and has some direct links to mods that aren't posted to the other sites. Auctioneer and a few others.

Last night I finally cleaned out my entire AddOns folder (including some really old stuff) and started the process anew. I quickly on WoWAce found replacements for the things that I feel are required or that are recommended by my guild for raiding (Karazhan only so far). I grabbed Omen. I grabbed Recount (to replace SWStats). I grabbed BigWigs. I had been using BigWigs for a couple of weeks and like it better than DeadlyBossMobs. I grabbed SCT, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep that. I grabbed a few other essentials. I'm not 100% of the way there yet, but my UI generally feels zippier. Omen I particularly like, although I only tried it with my pet and not in a group situation. Hopefully it continues to work as smoothly.

The best part -- for me -- was that WUU lets you export your mod listing to an XML file and import it back in on another computer. So I was able to get everything setup in one place, export the listing, and then move it to the other computer to keep them in sync. The only thing that's not happening right now, is that individual settings for each mods are saved on each machine. I think (99% sure) there's a way to fix this, too, but I need to dig a little further.

If anyone stumbles across this blog and hates managing and updating WoW AddOns, look no further than WUU. It's a SourceForge project, so I'm reasonably confident that it doesn't have adware, spyware, or keyloggers, but I also don't run it while WoW -- or anything else for that matter -- is running and I only give it access to the 'net when I'm doing updates. Great tool!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Warlock milestones...

With the help of my guild and a member who had kept his Warlock epic mount materials, I was able to get my epic mount. Saves quite a bit of gold and at Level 69 (with help of a few 65+'s), it was pretty easy, but still fun to see the event.

A day or two later, I ding'd 70 while doing the precursors to the Karazhan key chain in front of the tower itself. My machine lagged bad when I hit 70, so my screenshot didn't come out. Oh well. :)

With all the gold saved from not having to buy the ground epic riding skill, I was just a little short to get the flying mount, so my hunter loaned the warlock 150g and got it done. Helps so much with questing, and I still have all of Netherstorm *and* Shadowmoon Valley to quest in, so I should make that gold up *very* quickly.

To top the week off, I had one of the greatest runs through Shadow Labyrinth (hate that place) that I've ever been a part of. I thought it was me that was cursed. Maybe it's just my hunter. Was me (70 'lock), a shadow priest, mage, holy paladin, and our guild main tank. We were probably a little over-geared for Shadow Labyrinth at this point -- at least the tank and the mage -- but we simply destroyed the place. Under 90 minutes. No deaths. Unfortunately, the drops were terrible and most got sharded, but it was an awesome run. I'm sure other groups have done it faster, but we were pulling like machines and barely needed to speak on TeamSpeak to get stuff done. Great job, guys!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Maiden eats the floor...

This is a bit belated, but my guild managed to finally take out the Maiden the other night. We've been close several times, but always seemed to have bad luck in one way or another and never quite finished her off. This week, after having one wipe on Attumen -- who is otherwise on "farm status" -- we blew through both Moroes and Maiden with one-shots.

We had two PUG members from allied guilds. They've run with us a time or two before and one is a former guild member. Not sure what the difference was in this fight, and our group make-up was actually a little strange for Karazhan, I though. Two hunters, two paladins (?), two mages, two priests, a tank, and a rogue. None of us are geared all that well, since we've only ever downed Moroes a couple of times and "farmed" Attumen half a dozen or more.

The fight was smooth as can be. I think we lost two people -- one midway through the fight to a Holy Fire and our guild priest very near the end. I still don't have a handle on the difference in that fight. Having two paladins with Blessing of Sacrifice probably helped, and one of the paladins is Holy to help with the healing. Having two priests able to dispell Holy Fires helped, too.

Whatever. She's dead; we're not.

As a follow-up, we went in and gave the Opera event a try the next night. Unfortunately, we got Romulo and Julianne as our event, which is supposedly the hardest of the bunch. Our first fight was actually our best, and after our third attempt, I was disco-d and could not get back in because of the authentication servers being down. Another member was lost and although the group was able to replace us, they were not able to complete the event. I think our mechanics were good and our class mix (different from the above) was fine, we just didn't execute all that well. We'll get 'em next time. :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King

Like a million other bloggers right now, I guess I'll make at least a quick post about the new expansion that Blizzard is in the process of "unveiling" to the masses at BlizzCon right now. The name (and more) has been leaked for a few days from various places. Guess you can't keep secrets from a rabid gaming populace like that of WoW forever, huh?

Looks like we'll get to go to Northrend and eventually battle Arthas (as the Lich King). We'll level to 80. We'll replace all those "l33t 3piX" from current 25-mans (not that I'll ever see 'em) with the 3rd quest we do in the Northrend "newb" zone.

I'm torn.

After getting all excited and starting this blog, I'm in a fairly severe WoW "slump". Don't really want to play. My guild is making progress in Karazhan and I've missed the last two weeks worth of runs. What's wrong with the game? Nothing, I guess. Not sure if I've finally hit the WoW wall. I was hoping news of the expansion would really perk me up, but even though I'm refreshing the live blog over at WoWInsider every 2 minutes....

I guess that means I'm excited, huh? It's sort of muted, though. More later....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Instance from Hell

I was having a brief discussion -- through blog comments -- with Sal from the Elune's Grace podcast and she mentioned that she hated The Steamvault, the level 70 instance in Coilfang Reservoir. I guess "hate" is paraphrasing and it's a strong word, but she indicated dislike for the place. It kind of surprised me. Of the many instances that I've run in Outland, that one didn't strike me as particularly dislike-inducing. :)

The worst of it as far as I'm concerned are the first 20 minutes. Clearing the naga packs as you move around and hug the right wall are the worst. A few spots in there you're almost fighting blind with all the plant life. Once you clear the nagas, though, and that one elemental pack most groups clear, it's pretty smooth sailing from there. The first boss can be a pain if you're not watching for the AoE and/or you can't take down the adds fast enough. The second boss is pretty easy, and even the final boss is not much of a problem once you understand the mechanics of the fish tanks. When properly run with a minimum of deaths, you can get that place cleared in about an hour. (Yes... I'm sure you uber folk clear it in under 60 minutes.) The end boss is great for us hunter-folk, since two pieces of our Beast Lord set drop in there. I've still only managed one piece after probably nearly a dozen runs, but....

The place I dislike the most -- and I've heard this echoed by many, so I know I'm not alone -- is Shadow Labyrinth. That place just has a huge combination of annoying situations and pulls that make it actually warrant that "hate" word. The first room or two are OK, and the first boss can usually be handled without problem by dragging him into a hallway to limit his fear-bomb. After that, things get rough. The 5- and 6-pulls before Blackheart the Inciter are horrible, and even after they reduced the number slightly with one of the patches, it's still not a fun place. Add to that getting jumped from behind by the stealthed *elite* assassins and an already difficult 6-pull can turn into a nightmare wipe as the add goes right after a cloth-wearer. Blackheart is no treat either, and the fight actually becomes *harder* the more well-geared you are because you spend half the fight killing each other with your own upgraded gear. After that room, things mostly settle down, but Grandmaster Vorpil can give groups fits sometimes. Murmur can also be a group-buster if you don't have the right combo of if the wrong person gets flagged as the "bomb" one too many times. The number of times I ran that place trying to get my spear made me dislike it more and more each time and my guild continues to run it as we help our members get their Karazhan key parts. As luck would have it, after I gave up running it for my spear and bought the reputation reward from Thrallmar, the spear dropped on my next trip in there helping a guild-mate. :)

I can't think of any other instance in the game that draws as much of a groan (collectively) in guild chat when someone asks for a run in there.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moroes! Dead!

Yeah... maybe that image is a little too small to see any detail, but it was the best of the bunch that I snapped after my guild's downing of Moroes this past Monday.

We've taken to running Karazhan on Sundays and Mondays now. Our guild is fairly small -- but growing -- and we consider ourselves pretty casual. Mostly older folks, several married and with kids, so we can't raid 7 nights a week for hours on end. The second Kara night was just added and we have guild nights on Thursdays as well.

Anyway, we had actually tried Moroes a couple of times on Sunday, but I wasn't around for the attempts and was not sure what happened. The RL decided to tackle him again on Monday night, after they had downed Attumen the night previous. (We continue to "farm" Attumen and gear a few people up.)

On this night, the WoW "gods" were with us, I guess. We had two poor attempts, one ending before it began. I had been on a couple of failed Moroes attempts with other guilds, but never actually seen him drop. We had the requisite dual priests and me as the hunter. On the final attempt, they decided to use me for an emergency trap should shackles break. After the pull, I sic'd my pet on the first-kill target and dropped a trap at the priests' feet, and went back to DPS'ing the first add. Kept the pet up and on Growl with Mend Pet and she went down pretty quickly. Our Pally had been off-tanking the second-kill target and we quickly got her down as well and switched DPS to Moroes. Our priests and other healers were doing an awesome job of keeping those with Garotte alive. I'm not sure how many times Moroes vanished, but I think we got lucky and he put the Garotte on the same person a couple of times -- thank goodness it doesn't stack. It was a close thing in the end, with a couple of people dropping as Moroes dropped under 10% health, but we managed to keep enough DPS alive and took him out. I survived an agro-pull (got nervous and forgot Feign Death was cooled down), by the skin of my teeth.

Our Maiden attempt was less fruitful, and we seem to be a bit stuck on her, but also never seem to have enough time in our allotted runs -- we try to keep them to about two hours -- to make several tries. This week we only managed two attempts and had her under 35% when bad luck struck. Our Paladin's Blessing of Sacrifice was put on a rogue, who then died, so the Pally didn't get snapped out of Repentance and the tank went down *just* as our other healers came out. Bad luck, that, but we'll get her soon. We're so close we can taste it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's "an-EYE"...

The inspiration for the blog's name comes from this nifty little video:

I kinda like the double-meaning of the title. Maybe my character's "eye" to the outside world?

Many of my guildmates still have trouble saying my name in TeamSpeak/Ventrilo even after I posted and [bumped] a link of this video to my guild's forums. Oh well... I answer to numerous variations and don't get cranky about it. Much. :)

I've used the character name in MMOs all the way back to the original Asheron's Call. It should be spelled "An'nai", but WoW is finicky about using apostrophes in your name. You can do it, but try getting someone to /tell or /whisper you. There's some arcane numberpad shortcut for doing it. (I'm surprised the spammers haven't taken advantage yet.)

I recently had to remove the apostrophe from my guild forum name, too, as it was causing the parser for our raid manager to cough up furballs. So there you have it....

Annai (an-EYE)

For the true geeks out there, the name comes from Tad William's wonderful "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" trilogy. (Most of my character names come from there.) If you haven't read it and like fantasy literature, it's worth at least picking up at the library and giving a try. The first book -- The Dragonbone Chair -- starts out a little slow, but things pick up fairly quickly. An'nai should technically be an elf, but who wants to play those goodie-two-shoes anyway?

Also, credit for the avatar goes to the Looking for Group comic. They offer up those thumbnails for forum avatars. Hopefully it's OK to use 'em for blogs, too.

Tap, tap, tap...

So... the venerable BRK ( gave me the inspiration to start my own blog. This won't be a daily diary, but more of a journal of my ongoing adventures with my Level 70 Tauren Hunter, Annai (an-EYE), and the guild he belongs to, Embers of Creation on US-Alleria.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on "all things hunter", but just write about things that I encounter elsewhere or that cross my mind about playing a hunter. I may also sprinkle in some warlock stuff, since I have a nearly-70 Orc Warlock as well. Something about those pet classes....