Archive for March, 2009

31
Mar
09

Pre-raid fury gear, part 3

This time round we’ll be tackling the final bits of kit before we get to the weapons themselves. No point in dillydallying, so:

The legs

There are, perhaps surprisingly, several decent pairs of legplates out there, however I’ll be picky and say: there is really only one pair of legplates you really want, namely:

These will serve you well when you enter the raids. They will be bested by several pairs you can find in there, but as a piece of kit from the 5-mans, they are hands down the best legplates you can find. They drop from Ingvar in Utgarde Keep, which is one of the quickest heroics you’ll find. Am I advocating grinding an instance? You bet.

The feet

There are a few choices for boots, but again, one pair stands above them all.

The Death-Inured Sabatons and Spiked Titansteel Treads are epics, rep reward from the Ebon Blade and crafted respectively. The rest are drops from the Violet Hold, Nexus and Utgarde Pinnacle respectively. The clear favourites are the epics, due to their stats and gem sockets. It should be noted that come 3.1, the armor penetration of the Obliterator Greaves might make them more useful than today.

My personal favourites are the Death-Inured Sabatons. It’s yet another grind of course, but while you’re grinding out Heroic Utgarde Keep, you might as well wear the Ebon Blade tabard. If you’re not into that, the Spiked Titansteel Treads are most likely your best bet, even if they come at quite a material price.

The fingers

Rings, rings of roses, rings of glittering gold and shiny baubles. Now, I’m purposefully going to leave out some very good rings…namely the various bands of the Kirin Tor. Why? Because they’re expensive, and if you’re like me, you’ll spend money on the chopper instead.

Non Kirin Tor rings are:

Two crafted rings, two quest reward and three drops. The T.I.B is likely to increase in value if Armor Penetration is increased in value. The Hemorrhaging Circle has yummy expertise which makes it a given “Need” if you see it drop (I made that mistake, and it never dropped again). The Ring of Scarlet Shadows and the Mobius Band have hit rating, so they are worth getting if you find yourself short. The remaining three are all full of crit rating and AP and perhaps slightly less interesting. However, two of them (Bridenbrad and Jagged Ice Band) are quest rewards, so you get them for free basically.

The trinkets

Ra-kaw, preeetty triinkets yes. The list goes as follows:

I debated whether to put the Darkmoon Card in the list, since if you’re not a scribe you will bleed through the nose to get it. But, if you have a scribe, then you’ll be able to theoretically get it for free. It’s the best trinket, period, there currently is. If you see one for a couple of gold, don’t wait around. For those of us who’d rather have the chopper, the Mirror of Truth is hands down the best trinket there is. It’s the third of the must-buys for emblems (the other two being T7 chest and gloves).

The last three come down to whatever drops for you really. The Incisor Fragment probably edges ahead, with the Whetstone bringing up the rear. The Sphere has hit rating, so if you’re short (the ever present mantra), it will help you out. The Incisor Fragment has the weaker Equip bonus (in my mind), and the Whetstone the weaker proc.

That’s it for this time. Next time we’ll look at the weapons that you’ll be lugging around. We’ll also cover non-plate bits of kit that you could consider picking up.

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30
Mar
09

Steerage class raiding

Also posted on BigHitBox

This topic has been on my mind, subconsciously, for a while, and it was sparked into life yesterday. The basic premise is the question:

Has Blizzard created a classed society of raiders by making 10 and 25 man raids, and creating different loot tables therein?

The answer: yes

Hold on a minute…how can I state that so bluntly? Because, in my mind, that’s exactly what they have done. Now, many people will disagree, and many will also call me a whinger and QQ’er. Fair enough. Do me a favour then, and read this to the end before commenting “Less QQ plz”.

The facts then, or what may pass as facts:

  • Blizzard wants to support small raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants to support large raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants two parallel raiding progressions going on
  • It’s not Blizzards intention that you gear up in 10’s for 25’s (re the parallel progression)
  • Blizzard wants reward to match difficulty
  • It is generally agreed upon that 10mans were tuned harder than 25mans

If a normal and heroic raid are supposed to be tuned to be roughly equally difficult, why does the inclusion of 15 extra people yield significantly better loot? Blizzards intention of increasing difficulty via hard modes does nothing to alter that scenario really. Ghostcrawlers comment that hard mode 10-man loot is better than standard 25-man loot is a small pittance tossed to the 10-man crowd. The current situation is that you get better loot for the supposed extra headache of having 15 extra people to organise/control.

The result of that may well be that 25-man raiders do the 10-mans when fully geared, both for the achievements and for the loot, before heading back to tackle the 25-man hard mode. This leads to 10-man raids as nothing but achievement suppositories for heroic raiders. The normal raiders don’t get to do the reverse however, so if you’re solely a 10-man raider, good luck trying to get those extra achievement points.

Another point is that people who actively prefer 10-man raiding, for whatever reason, are forced to never be “the best they can be”, something that bothers many and ultimately leads to ambitious players migrating to the larger raids. Skill is worth nothing without gear.

Furthermore, you can argue that the 10-mans, if properly balanced, are going to become ez-mode raids when fully heroic geared people start running them. Even now we see this trend, where people gear up in the heroic raids, only to own the normals. Except that the normals currently are vastly harder than the heroics. When Blizzard fix that however, the end-user experience for a 10-manner is more than likely to be diminished if they have to bring heroically geared people. The challenge simply goes away…and some of us do like challenges.

In their attempts to incentivize both forms of raiding, they are setting the stage for 10-mans slowly bleeding to death as a separate entity. Instead, they’ll become the “kiddy pool” of raiding, where the undergeared or the “too casual” people hang around. Anybody worth their salt is in the “proper raids”. It might be painting a dark picture some will argue, and to a certain extent I agree. However, the question remains fully valid:

Why must I feel like a lesser raider, solely because I consciously choose to raid with my guild rather than a larger group?

While some of my guildies only raid 10 mans, others dont, and the gear disparity is visible, since heroic gear is better than normal gear period. So because I don’t PuG, or have a raiding group, I’m forced to perform less, to pull my weight less?

Quoth my favourite crab monster ( Bluetracker and full thread):

If your contention is that 10 player raiding is harder than 25 player raiding, then we disagree. The logistics of managing 25 players in our minds outweighs the “marginalizing individual effort” that you mention. I could see a way to have 10 and 25 drop the same loot but also share a lockout. Anything else will just kill 25 player raiding IMO, which is not something we want to do. We do however want to support 10 player raiding, and that means making the difficulty more appropriate for the rewards. If that isn’t challenging enough for you, we do have the 10 player hard modes.

The above is a Ghostcrawler quote. Here, he proposes a solution that would eliminate most of my problems with the current raiding situation. It has drawbacks as well of course, so let’s have a look at some of the pro’s and con’s:

A shared lockout will preclude people from raiding as much as they could possibly like. If you’ve done one, you’re out for the week. End of story. Critics will call this “enforced casualness”, and yes, that’s what it is. If you clear it all in two nights, you have nothing else to do for a week, and yes, with the current amount of content, that plainly sucks if you want to raid 5 days a week. However, there are quite a few more raids upcoming, so the raiding blight will not last forever.

A shared lockout will preclude the heaviest emblem farming, as well as shard farming. It’ll increase prices on shards, and it’ll mean less epics from emblems. So you can’t gear up your alt as quickly by being pulled through Naxx anymore. Big deal.

It’ll furthermore force people to actively make a choice with whome they raid. Yes, that’ll probably kill off a lot of PuGs off the bat, but in the end you’ll still be able to PuG your favourite raid.

The burning question is then: What incentive is there to continue doing heroic raids? Well, achievements for one thing. Titles another? A third alternative could be a cosmetic difference to the tier loot. 10 man is bluish and 25 is reddish perhaps? “My character looks horrible in blue, but red…oh yeah baby!” Vanity oh vanity…don’t we all love thee. Before anybody starts pointing fingers, look at the multitude of people who grind away to receive that title, or that mount, or even that special pet…I know, I’m one of them.

Ultimately, raiding should be about choice of format/people rather than a gear-choice. Bring the fun, not the gear. Currently, the normal raids are the “second class” of raiding, perhaps harder than the “first class” (though not by design), but always with worse loot. It seems the inevitable fate of every 10-man group to ultimately lose their best and brightest to the better rewards of the heroic raids.

26
Mar
09

The Throne Of Lies

Everybodies favourite crab monster ventured into yet another thread yesterday. I don’t know about you, but it did make me think about the near-Sisyphean task that Ghostcrawler has undertaken by posting on the forums, reading and replying to thousands of fans.

Blizzard have reiterated countless times that a “blue post” in a thread does not mean its the only one they read. And they’ve reiterated that people should not take things out of context. Of course, that’s exactly what happens. People take things out of context, ask unrelated questions, do generally silly and/or stupid things, which then consequently mucks things up and clutters useful posts with random garbage and trolling.

Now, asking people to stop acting like trolls, leprechauns, or beavers isn’t going to work. And indeed, it would stop people from exercising their freedom of speech, which the internet gives us a playground for. So we come to the crux of the matter: Ghostcrawler has taken it upon himself to do the impossible, to fight the windmills while rolling the stone up the hill. He is attempting to discuss, post information and give the fans what they want, despite many of these fans doing their utmost to muck it up, or even do things that would cause lesser people to give up and say “I give up. I’m not going to waste my time.”

What’s the point of this rambling of mine then? So far there has been nothing but restatement of old facts. If you scoot over to the bluetracked thread I linked above, you’ll see a Ghostcrawler speak his mind about things. He explains how hopeless the task is, how much detail people get into over things probably taken out of context.

Context.

No matter what Ghostcrawler says, does, or posts, people will misquote him and take it out of context, either through ignorance, or to further their own message. And no matter how hard he may try, it’s never going to be good enough for some people.

When did people on the internet shed their regard for reason and sensibility, and start demanding without giving? When did people forget that Ghostcrawler is a man, not a demi god. The internet cloaks us in anonymity, frees us from the shackles of courtesy and good behaviour, allows us to act like the bloody spoiled kids that we are. It’s an anarchistic and rebellious society, with people from all over the spectrum.

The point here, to keep well in mind when harcelating over Blizzards lack of attention or cruel and evil behaviour towards your class, is that: They are not demanding that their forum visitors stick to a draconian forum code, nor do they demand proper punctuation or grammar (although it certainly helps). Ghostcrawler meets us all on the factory floor, on our terms, sifting through our garbage. So who are we to bicker, whine, and complain about when and where he does it?

The linked thread contains some pretty sensible statements from our favourite crab monster. These statements, while humourous and flippant, do hint at an underlying message. That perhaps even Ghostcrawler might tire of the constant, let’s be blunt, trash that permeates the forums, that he might be at his wits end and not know how to reply to all of the pointlessness. Will Ghostcrawler one day throw in the towel? Your guess is as good as mine. I personally doubt it very much, since they are clearly getting good feedback inbetween…but why risk it?

[NOXROMULUS]

24
Mar
09

Pre-raid fury gear, part 2

This time round, we’ll take a look at cloaks, chests, bracers, gloves and belts available for the pre-raid fury warrior. Some of the gear will require farming in heroics while some will require rep grinding. But, without further ado, let’s get on with it.

Some will undoubtedly take a look at the suggestions (and those from last time) and say: “Leather and mail gear offers far better stats, so it’s better”, and they’d technically be correct. However, I still believe in the viability of plate gear, and I try to gear up in plate whenever possible. And to sound like a Blizzard-o-phone, that’s also the intended way, and one which Blizzard is trying to support. But, to those that want suggestions for non-plate gear, I beg you to have patience. I’ll cover some choice non-plate items in the final episode.

The cloak

Everybody loves to be warm and comfy, and for those of us without company, the cloak is the best thing to do that. Don’t care about furlining? Care only about hurting things? Then we have just the things for you:

The Bloodied Waters Cloak is a zone drop from Zul’Drak, and the Ice Striker’s Cloak is a crafted Leatherworker item (and it’s epic to boot). The Bloodied Waters has a good amount of crit rating, whereas the Ice Striker’s has haste rating and attack power, in addition to the crit rating from agility.

In my mind, the Bloodied Waters is the clear winner between the two. It has more crit rating and more AP than the Ice Striker’s, and it is most likely going to be cheaper to acquire than the Ice Striker’s. That’s not to say that the epic is a bad cloak, not at all, but you are likely to replace it in the raids anyway, so the higher cost is simply not justified.

Of course, if you find a bargain Ice Striker’s, don’t wrinkle your nose at it. Buy it.

The chest

The chestpiece is probably, along with the helm, the most “central” of gear bits. Dont ask me why, but getting a new chestpiece is just a good feeling. There are a few to choose from before the raids, although only one is really important:

Yes, the Dreadnaught is T7, but its buyable for sufficient Emblems of Heroism. This is one of three essential purchases you’ll be making with your Emblems.

The other two chestplates are good and solid pieces that will serve you well until you can get your epic. Despite the two sockets on the Bonegrinder’s, the Breastplate of Undeath (found in heroic Drak’Tharon Keep) is perhaps slightly ahead due to its huge amount of hit rating and agility.

The bracers

Bracers are the invisible items. You never see them much on fully kitted out characters.

Both work out decently, although the Vengeance Bindings are the favourite, so get thee to thy favourite blacksmith. They’re crafted, so there really isn’t much fuss about getting them.

The gloves

There are a number of gloves to be had, but on the whole, one pair outshines the rest:

The T7 gloves are going to be one of your very first purchases, along with the chestpiece. The reason is simple, namely the 2-piece set bonus. Until then, any of the others will do the trick. The Gauntlets of the Culling are the only ones not needing farming, since they’re a quest reward from the Culling of Stratholme. The last two drop in the heroic Oculus and heroic Violet Hold.

Unless you prefer not to do the Culling of Stratholme at all, I would recommend those until you have the emblems. They may not be the best pair, but I wouldn’t bother farming actively for the rest. As usual though, if any of the others drop in your lap, and you don’t have a decent pair of gloves, grab them.

The belt

Searching our wardrobe, we find the following:

The Verdungo’s Barbarian Cord is a vendor-bought item costing 40 Emblems of Heroism. Not worth the Emblems at first. It’s better to go to the heroic Nexus for the Flame-Bathed Steel Girdle, or to hit heroic Halls of Lightning for the General’s Steel Girdle.

The Flame-Bathed Steel Girdle is the clear favourite in this race, with the General’s Steel Girdle coming in second. The General’s has hit rating, versus the crit rating of the Flame-Bathed. Again it comes down to two items, one with either stat. And again I’ll say, go for the crit rating unless you need the hit rating.

Thats it for this time. Next time we’ll be tackling the legwear, boots, rings and trinkets.

22
Mar
09

Pre-raid fury gear, part 1

Everybody has to start gearing up at some point. In my mind, gearing up is a nice on-the-side thing while levelling up, but it’s not at all central. So, the gearing race starts the moment you hit level 80. That’s the time where you begin to figure out “what do I need to raid?”, which is what most people do these days. Even if you don’t, nice gear is a good thing.

So, what are the pieces that you, as a freshly minted level 80 fury warrior should be gunning for? Let’s have a look.

The head

There really only is one item of note here:

I wish it were otherwise, since I do dislike every character looking identical, but it isn’t. The Spiked Titansteel Helm is the fury helm to get before you enter the raids. It’s expensive, but you’ll be wearing it a long time. If you arent’ turned on by its looks, turn off the showing of it. But do get it. It’s just that good.

The neck

There are two main choices here:

The Titanium Impact Choker is crafted by a jewelcrafter, and the Necklace drops in the heroic version of the Violet Hold. Both of these will do what you want them to do. There is a third choice, namely the Pendant of the Outcast Hero, available for 25 Emblems of Heroism. The Pendant is statswise a direct upgrade from the Necklace, so if you have the Emblems to spare, go for it. However, for the first Emblems, I would spend them elsewhere (namely on T7 gloves and chest) at first.

It’s worth noting that the Titanium Impact Choker has Armor Penetration (ArP) on it. So far, ArP has been a slightly undervalued stat, but this might change come 3.1. It’s certainly worth keeping in mind, and not drop the Choker out of had because of it.

The shoulders

There are four pairs of shoulders to be had:

The two former have crit rating, the two latter have hit rating. Which of the two you’ll want depends on your current need. If you aren’t in dire need of hit rating, the Spaulders of the Giant Lords is likely to be the best pair. If you still need to boost your hit, either of the two latter will work. Both come from the normal Halls of Lightning, although the Mantle of Volkhan is a quest reward and can be completed on heroic mode. So it can nicely coincide with farming for the epic axe that also drops there (see the weapon section).

Coming up in the next part of our pre-raid gear check: cloaks, chests, bracers, gloves and belts.

Also posted on BigHitBox

20
Mar
09

The DPS commandments – week 4

Following the template from the previous 3 sermons, this weeks topic is:

IV. Focus your Fire by assisting and following the kill order. ALWAYS.

A commandment that doesn’t really need much analysis. It’s really that simple: follow the dotted line, or in the case of raid markings, the order of the floating winegums.

Except, life is not always that simple. Eh wot? Did I just dare utter my slight disagreement with the commandment? Short answer: Yes ,with a but…

Long answer: No, with a however…

99.9% of the time, any melee DPS’er will not go outside the kill order, and they shouldn’t. If they do, they’re likely to get killed and/or get other people killed, i.e. not be worth their salt. And to those that say “But Imma offtank, so I needs to have aggro to save teh healurs” I reply: “Then why arent you bloody in tanking gear?”

There is, quite honestly, no excuse for melee DPS’ers to not follow the kill order. Unless you see something that the tank doesn’t, and you move to temporarily save the healer from certain death. In other words, if the tank is really unable to cope, due to either being CC’ed or dead or whatever, it is okay for you to neglect the kill order. Melee DPS’ers are more resilient than most casters and healers, so we will last those few seconds longer than they will.

Now, you can argue that ranged people have all the CC in the world, so why can’t they deal with it? They can. And if they’re worth their salt, they will. But sometimes, you do have that poor healer who needs to survive, and there are no others to help. Hello emergency offtank.

The lesson to be learnt from this week is: be disciplined, but alert.

19
Mar
09

Set bonuses for T8

MMO Champion lit up with the set bonuses for T8 earlier.

  • Warrior T8 Protection 2P Bonus — Increases the critical strike chance of your Devastate ability by 10%.
  • Warrior T8 Protection 4P Bonus — Shield Block also grants you 20% reduction to magical damage taken.
  • Warrior T8 Melee 2P Bonus — Heroic Strike and Slam critical strikes have a chance to grant you 150% haste rating for 5 sec.
  • Warrior T8 Melee 4P Bonus — Increases the critical strike chance of Mortal Strike and Bloodthirst by 10%.

I’ll leave the analysis of the tanking bonuses for more competent tanks than I.

The 2-piece DPS bonus leaves me in doubt to be honest. Doubt as to what exactly Blizzard mean by it. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? However, depending on which way you read it, your 3.5 weapon will become a 2.3 weapon for 5 seconds or your 100 haste rating become 150 haste rating for 5 seconds.

The former is a solid buff to white damage. One that should help rage generation in light of the TG nerf.

The latter is entirely pitiful. And its dependent on you having haste rating to begin with, and it’s entirely possible to not have any haste rating at all, which in effect makes the 2-piece set bonus completely useless.

However, I’ll not get up in arms about that before it has been cleared up.

The 4-piece set bonus is a buff to one of our staple abilities. Roughly, it’ll work out to 1 more BT crit a minute. In other words, a decent set bonus. It’ll remain to be seen whether it will be outclassed by the non-set items in Ulduar. I wouldn’t discount it just yet at least.

So there we have it. My joy at the BT buff is marred a bit by the, in my mind, inexact wording of the 2-piece bonus. Clarification will come however, in time.

Also posted on BigHitBox