Archive for the 'Raiding' Category


Current raid status and how it is affected by the new tier of raids

With patch 5.2 about to drop and bring a new raid tier, my guild finally completed Mogu’shan Vaults on normal mode this past week.  We’ve definitely been far behind the curve in this expansion.  This is very different than our situation in Cataclysm, when we kept up with the raid content (normal mode) as it was released.

This time around we’ve been hurt by the dps checks.  We spent a long time on Gara’jal before we could beat his enrage, and then another long while on Elegon with the same problem.  Our raid dps isn’t up to par (separate post coming on that) and as a truly casual, friendly guild, we don’t try and pick and choose our raid composition.  We take who wants to come, for better or for worse.

This week we will be setting our first steps into Heat of Fear, and we won’t see Terrace of Endless Spring until some time after that.  The new Tier 15 raids are in the more distant future.

Unfortunately, our experiences in the remaining tier 14 raids will be somewhat disappointing for a couple of reasons – one that is raidwide and one that is personal to me.  Here’s the point of view of a truly casual raid guild on the current situation.


For the raid, the challenge of HoF anf ToES will be vastly diminished on two fronts.  First, they are getting nerfed by 10% in the upcoming patch.  While we could disable the nerf, it makes no sense to do so.  Guild morale will be improved by quicker progress through the raids, and it catches us up to current content faster.  Its just a shame that we won’t see the fights as they were designed.

In addition, the new T15 raids will soon be available to us at LFR difficulty.  That will allow our raid members to get higher iLvL gear, further reducing the challenge of the tier 14 content.  It took us three months to get through Mogu’shan Vaults.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we finished the next two T14 raids together in half that time.

On a personal level, I refuse to enter an LFR raid until I have seen it on normal mode first.  I have yet to ever see a single boss from Heart of Fear or Terrace of Endless Spring.  I won’t do the new raids on LFR either.  My raid-mates don’t have the same stance on this, and they will be gearing themselves up in LFR.  As a result, I will personally fall behind them in gear.  (although I still expect to lead the raid in dps, for what its worth).  That’s disappointing in the short run, but it will all work out eventually.


I think that our current position is not that uncommon.  We are currently ranked #43 on our server and #11,155 in the USA.  There are still lots of guilds behind us in progression.  Here’s the question: is this situation damaging to casual guilds?  Will we see guild defections to move to more progressed guilds?

Next week, when new gear is dropping and people are getting new items from the new raids, it can certainly generate gear envy.  In a guild that is still working on T14, a jump to a T15 guild might be appealing.

I don’t think this will happen in our guild, since we are a pretty tight knit group.

WoW hasn’t really had the “feeder guild” issue since Burning Crusade.  The difference between then and now is the presence of LFR.  Back in BC, if you were in a Karazhan/Gruul-level guild, your only chance to see SSC and then Black Temple was to guild-hop.  Today, you can see all available content on LFR difficulty.  Will that be enough?  I really think so.  Time will tell.


Auction House – another gearing path

I really hate to buy gear. There’s no real logical reason for this, other than it fits into my own personal version of the way the game should be played.

I know that I’m in the minority – the large majority of players just want their iLvL to get higher, no matter what path they take.  Its like their own personal scoreboard for WoW. For me, though, I play the game in a certain way.  I won’t run raids on LFR until I have first cleared them on normal mode with my guild.  I don’t repetitively grind heroics to cap my valor points every week.  I try to earn the gear I get.

This has put me in a bit of a bind, lately, as far as weapons go.  Specifically, daggers.  We’re four months into the expansion and I am still using two blue level 463 daggers.  Until very recently, I was raiding with a 450 dagger. There are no daggers to be purchased with Valor Points.  The Stone Guard, the first boss of Mogu’shan Vaults, has stubbornly refused to drop a dagger for me.  I had no luck even getting the dagger that dropped from the Greench daily during Winter’s Veil.

I’ve got all the gold I need to buy anything I want, but I have always felt that I shouldn’t resort to buying gear.  This week, I finally gave in to frustration.  I bought myself a Miniature Winter Veil Tree from the auction house. That got me to thinking – how well geared can a rogue get using strictly the auction house to buy items?  That means BoE drops and crafted items which can be sold.

Overall, if you’re willing to spend a couple hundred thousand gold and be patient until all these rare items show up on the AH, it looks like you can get yourself to about iLvL 470, although that includes some pvp pieces which are not optimally itemized for raiding.  That’s a lot of gold for little reward, because you can easily do better than that through some dabbling in dailies and heroics and maybe a trip or two into LFR.



Two and a half months into the expansion, I finally ran LFR for the first time.  I ran on my resto druid because that is who I am raiding on, currently.  Just did the first three bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults.

It is a cakewalk, but not a total faceroll because a lot of people don’t know the fights.  Our LFR group didn’t explain the fights to anyone.  The tanks just ran up and pulled.  For the first fight, that was not a problem.  Everyone can clearly see stuff not to stand in.  On the second fight, it was a little tougher as people didn’t know what to do when they got the fire debuff.  The third boss actually caused a wipe, as no one knew to go into the spirit realm.

My druid healing is not great these days.  The priest and paladin in the raid totally blew away my healing numbers.  I can’t tell if its me or the class – I’ve heard people saying that druid healers are not too effective right now.

The loot system was disappointing.  On all three fights, all I got was a bag of gold.  I would prefer to see what dropped so I had some sense of closure on the boss.  That’s the way boss fights go – we show up, we do our thing for five minutes, then the boss dies and there is epic loot.  Without the loot at the end, it seems so anticlimactic.

So I got nothing from my run, and I didn’t see what other people got.  This does not inspire me with excitement to go back again.  I guess I will, but not with any real excitement.


Ready to raid in three days with no dailies

The topic of “mandatory” dailies has had a lot of legs.  These discussions go on and on and don’t die.

Personally, I’m tired of dailies.  However, I see that in my gaming style they are not mandatory so I simply stopped doing them.  My main is Revered with Golden Lotus and Klaxxi and Exalted with Tillers.  That’s it.  I’ll continue working on rep very gradually on my main over the next few months in between other activities, and that’s good enough for me.  I won’t do the dailies at all on my alts.

My raid team is short a healer.  In order to fill that gap, I took time off from my rogue to level my resto druid.  I hit 90 with him late Monday night.  He needs to be geared and ready to go in short order.  How do I do that without dailies/VP gear?

In the span of three days I got him from quest greens to raid-ready without doing any dailies.  Here’s how:

  1. First, I did quested out the entire Dread Zones area.  That gets me an iLvL 450 shoulder and belt as quest rewards.
  2. Crafted:  Wildblood Vest and Wildblood Gloves (iLvL 476).  Expensive if you have to buy them, but cost is minimal to craft them yourself if you have the 11 Spirits of Harmony, as I did on my rogue leatherworker.  Note that I had previously done the rep grind on that toon to get that recipe.  If I was totally avoiding dailies on all characters, I’d need to find someone else to craft it for me.
  3. Crafted:  Band of Blood x 2 (iLvL 450) and Tiger Opal Pendant.  Also somewhat pricey to buy, but cheap to craft yourself.
  4. Justice Points used to purchase iLvL 458 bracer, cloak, and legs  (4750 JP total, so I bought two then grabbed the third after running a few dungeons for more JP)
  5. Did the Sha of Anger world boss to get iLvL 476 boots
  6. Purchased Ghost Iron Dragonling (iLvL 450) and cogwheels from the AH for just a few hundred gold
  7. Ran the Arena of Annihilation scenario to get an iLvL 450 weapon
  8. My one big ticket purchase was the off-hand Inscribed Red Fan (iLvL 476), which ran me 4500 g.

These items are specific to my healer, but there are equivalent items for every class.  All that got me to an overall item level in the 450’s.  Then I ran a few heroics to fill in what I was missing and get me to the 460 mark where I can run LFR.  I still could get a tier drop from Sha of Anger.  I could also buy the Relic of Chi Ji to get that extra iLvL boost, but that’s about 23k gold on my server.

All of this took three days after hitting the level cap, and didn’t even cost much gold except for the off-hand.  I haven’t done any dailies or worked on any rep.  If I hadn’t been able to craft the Wildblood pieces myself it would have cost a bit more.

Now, if I were aiming to push progression and get into heroic raids quickly, then I might be more concerned about rep rewards and VP gear.  However, for a player who is aiming to start in LFR raids and then move into normal mode raids, what I’ve done shows that dailies and rep grinds are not mandatory.


Crazy Assassination Damage

I suspect there may be some nerfs incoming for assassination rogues.

Why?  Let me show you.

Background… I haven’t played my rogue in months.  We’re short of healers, so I have raided exclusively on my resto druid for the past few months.  When patch 5.0.4 dropped, I read up on the changes to my rogue but didn’t get a chance to try them out in the game.  They weren’t major changes, in any case.

This weekend I finally got to raid DS on my rogue.  I had not spent any time on a target dummy in advance, so I was a little nervous going in that I would mess things up.

This is the parse from heroic Ultraxion…

Its not the damage totals that are important.  Its the percentages.  That rogue below me is combat spec.  (he doesn’t have the legendary daggers yet – he has the stage 2 epics).

The assassination damage was crazy.  The legendary daggers proc all the time.  I got the Fury of the Destroyer buff from the daggers 7 times during the 4:44 fight.

As we start to level, the effect of the legendary dagger procs will go away once we replace them with MoP gear.  Still, my damage output on this fight was 50% higher than anyone else in the raid.  I’m not 50% better than the other players who were there, and I was not this far ahead before the patch.  While not shown, my damage total for the entire raid was similarly unbalanced (30% higher than the next best dps, even including fights that favor ranged).  Something here is out of whack.  When there’s that much disparity this early in the expansion process, experience tells me that it usually leads to some nerfs down the line.

Enjoy it while it lasts, my rogue friends.


Playing a Rogue in Mists of Pandaria

Now that the expansion release is looming before us, we can expect that the way the class is playing currently in beta will be very close to the way it plays when MoP goes live.  That means its a good time to look at what has changed. For the most part, the rogue will play as it has played in the past.  The main combo-building attacks and finishers are mostly unchanged.

Changes to Talents and Abilities

The largest change is the new talent system.  We still have our assassination, combat, and subtlety specs as always, but the choice of spec impacts the baseline abilities, not the talent tree.  In the shared talent trees, the choices are aimed at utility rather than damage increases.  As a result, there will be very few “mandatory” talents and there should not be a cookie-cutter build that everyone uses.  I anticipate that there will be a number of talent choices that will be changed from one raid boss to the next depending on the specific needs of the fight. All rogues will have the same talent trees to select from.

The things that make each spec unique are no longer from talents (like Mutilate and Blade Flurry were talents previously).  These abilities have been rolled into the base abilities for each spec. Here are the base abilities which are unique for each spec (these are not all the rogue abilities – just the ones that distinguish the specs from each other):

Assassination Combat Hemorrhage
Assassin’s Resolve (passive) Ambidexterity (passive) Hemorrhage
Improved Poisons (passive) Blade Flurry Master of Subtlety (passive)
Mutilate Vitality (passive) Sinister Calling (passive)
Envenom Revealing Strike Find Weakness (passive)
Seal Fate (passive) Combat Potency (passive) Premeditation
Dispatch Adrenaline Rush Backstab
Venomous Wounds (passive) Restless Blades (passive) Honor Among Thieves (passive)
Cut to the Chase (passive) Bandit’s Guile (passive) Sanguinary Vein (passive)
Blindside (passive) Killing Spree Energetic Recovery (passive)
Mastery: Potent Poisons (passive) Mastery: Main Gauche Mastery: Executioner
Vendetta Shadow Dance

There are a few changes and a couple of new abilities (detailed below) but most of these should be familiar from the current game. A lot of people have complained that the talent system is “dumbed down” in MoP.  However, when you look at the lists you can see that the talents that everyone would have selected (Mutilate, Blade Flurry, Premeditation, etc…) have been turned into baseline abilities. With the main attacks and distinguishing moves rolled into baseline abilities, the talent system is pared down to a smaller number of interesting choices rather than a huge list of mandatory clicks.

This is the talent tree that is shared by all three specs.  Note that you only select six talents – one every fifteen levels.

The big brouhaha in the rogue community is over the level 60 talent tier, where we have to choose between Preparation and Shadowstep (or Burst of Speed, but I don’t think that will be popular).  These are both abilities that have been the heart of the subtlety spec for a while, and now they are available to all specs (but only one out of the two!).  Shadowstep is great for leveling, but I think that Preparation will be enticing for raiding or pvp.  You can change your talent choices from one fight to the next at any time using a reagent made by scribes.

I think that we will find that there is no “best” spec.  Your choices will depend on your preferences and playstyle and on the mechanics of the fights.  For example, in the level 90 tier, Anticipation is useful to prevent wasted combo points, which is most likely to happen on single-target fights, while Versatility improves your Redirect, and that will be helpful on target-switching fights.

Also – Prime Glyphs are gone.  Prime glyphs that were “mandatory” have had their effects rolled into the base abilities.  Most Major/Minor glyphs are for utility or personalization.

New Abilities

In the lower levels, assassination rogues have been given Dispatch.  This is an execute-phase attack, much like Backstab became in Cataclysm.  Dispatch hits hard when the target is below 35% health.  However, this attack has another role.  The Blindside ability (gained at level 70) gives assassination rogues the chance to proc a Dispatch at any time in the fight (and it costs no energy!).  Thus, the assassination attack sequence will not be a set rotation, but instead will have to be modified on the fly due to Dispatch procs.

While the other specs have been tweaked and had some abilities shuffled, they haven’t gained anything really new at lower levels.

Of course with the new expansion come new abilities for all specs.  They are:

  • Shroud of Concealment (level 76): Extend a cloak that wraps party and raid members within 20 yards in shadows, concealing them from sight for up to 15 sec.
  • Crimson Tempest (level 83): Finishing move that consumes combo points on any nearby target to slash at the flesh of all enemies within 8 yards, dealing Physical damage based on combo points and causing victims to bleed and suffer an additional 30% of the initial damage over 12 sec.
  • Shadow Blades (level 87): Draw upon the surrounding shadows to empower your weapons, causing your autoattacks to deal pure Shadow damage and your combo-point-generating abilities to generate an additional combo point when used.

Those are pretty interesting.  Crimson Tempest is being hailed as a new era for rogue AoE.  No longer must we just spam FoK or start Blade Flurry and watch our combo points and debuffs drop.  Now that FoK generates combo points, we can FoK and then mix in Crimson Tempest for a true AoE rotation.

Shroud of Concelament will be useful for bypassing trash in dungeons with your whole group – especially useful in the Challenge Modes.

Shadow Blades is a dps cooldown.  The shadow damage will allow your autoattacks to bypass armor, which is nice but not awe-inspiring.  Each spec will manage that differently depending on their procs and other cooldowns.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this buffed a bit before it goes live.

Weapons and Poisons

One thing that rogues will notice right away in MoP is that their thrown weapon slot is gone.  Now rogues have a Throw attack (replaced by Deadly Throw perhaps or Shuriken Toss at level 90) but no dedicated thrown weapon.  FoK uses the equipped melee weapons (and their poisons).

Also, there are no more fast and slow daggers.  All daggers are now 1.8 speed.  This is to smooth the proc rate on poisons and get rid of the advantages to having a slower main hand and faster off hand.

Most surprisingly, the poison system is overhauled.  No longer do you actually apply poison to weapons.  Now, poisons are a buff to the rogue.  You can have two poisons – one lethal and one non-lethal.  Both poisons can proc from either or both weapons since they are a buff to the rogue and not the specific weapon.  Lethal poisons are Instant, Deadly, and Wound.  Non-lethal poisons are Crippling, Mind-Numbing, and – if you spec for them – Leeching and Paralytic.


From my little time spent in beta, gameplay as a MoP rogue is very similar to gameplay as a Cata rogue.

I will say that having Shadowstep in any spec is a big gamechanger, and adds fun to questing and soloing.  Since I’ve never played subtlety for any length of time, I was like a kid with a new toy, popping around Pandaria.

As an assassination rogue, you’ll still use Mutilate as your main combo point generator, and envenom as your  finisher.  You still keep Rupture going for the energy return from Venomous Wounds.  Your Envenoms still refresh SnD.  The big difference is that Blindside procs let you hit Dispatch in between your other attacks, which adds some variation to your rotation.  Cold Blood is gone, but there are two damage cooldowns – Vendetta and Shadow Blades.  In beta, there are a lot of comments about assassination being energy-starved.  We’ll have to hope that problem clears up by the time you reach the level cap.

Combat rogues will play exactly the same way they play now.  Sinster Strike and SnD/Rupture/Eviscerate are still the finishers.  None of the major abilities or cooldowns have been removed.  Rupture damage has been buffed so it is a higher priority finisher than Eviscerate.  Revealing Strike now has a chance to proc an extra combo point, which makes it more attractive to use.  Bandit’s Guile now follows you when you switch targets, which is convenient.  Still, this will be the same cooldown-based spec that we are all familiar with, using Adrenaline Rush and Killing Spree liberally and now including Shadow Blades.

Subtlety rogues are losing exclusive rights to Shadowstep and Preparation.  Other than that, the general style of play is similar to the way they played in Cataclysm, but the rotation is somewhat streamlined.  Backstab/Hemorrhage are still the main attacks.  The most important change is that the energy gain mechanism from Energetic Recovery has been shifted from Recuperate to SnD.  That means you won’t have to keep Recuperate up anymore.  That’s one less finisher to juggle.  Rupture and SnD will have longer duration, making it easier to maintain their uptime.  Hemorrhage now applies a DoT to the target, but no longer increases bleed damage.  Sanguinary Vein has been buffed, so Rupture uptime is vital.  The other cooldowns remain the same – Premeditation, Shadow Dance, and now Shadow Blades.  Sub rogues will be happy to have FoK/Crimson Tempest as viable AoE in Mists.


There are no sweeping changes to the rogue class.  Blizzard has long maintained that rogues are well-designed, and they have not made large-scale changes for a long time.  Despite this, the number of rogues declined during Cataclysm.  Will Shadowstep for all rogues help bring some players back to this class?


The Attunement Debate

There are two big debates going on right now in all of the WoW-related forums.  One is about the merit of attunement quests, and the other is about the pattern of gradually nerfing raids.  Today I’ll give my take on attunements, and my next post will be about raid nerfs.

As someone who has played since vanilla, I’ve lived through the ups and downs of attunements.  I didn’t raid in vanilla, but I did go through the attunement for Molten Core.  In Burning Crusade, I did the attunement quest chain for Karazhan since we actively raided there.  Later, I did the attunment chain for Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern, but I did them primarily to get the Champion of the Naaru title, not to do the raids.  (In fact, as I remember it I completed the attunements the last week before they removed the ability to get the title pre-WotLK)

Karazhan-style attunements

To get attuned for Karazhan was relatively painless, but time consuming.  It involved running nine instances after you had hit the level cap.  This had good and bad implications.

  • The good: you learned the story behind the raid.  The quest chain told you through the backstory of Karazhan, which made the raid itself more interesting.
  • The bad: it slowed everyone down.  If you leveled a toon, then once you hit the level cap you had to get guildies (pug groups were hard to put together back then) to do nine instance runs with you before you were able to do the first raid tier of the expansion.  It took a week, if you were lucky and put a burden on everyone in the guild to run content that had no reward for them.

I think that the LFG system in place today would make this method much more palatable, however, in the current setup it is someone useless.  Blizzard doesn’t need to force players to run instances.  In Cataclysm, with the LFG system in full force and gear level requirements, everyone will run heroics for JP or VP gear before they start raiding.  There is no need to put an attunement quest chain in place because people are going to run the instances anyway!

TK/SSC/MH/BT-style attunements

This is where the real debate is happening.  To get attuned for Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Caverns (tier 5), you had to run the raids from the previous tier (Gruul, Magtheridon, and Karazhan).  Then to get attuned for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple (tier 6) you had to run SSC and TK.

That means that a player who just hits the level cap HAD to run all of the tiers (Kara, Gruul, Magtheridon, SSC, and TK) to get to the highest raid tier.  There is no skipping a tier.

One side of this debate says, “That is good!  It gets the players raiding experience before they get to the harder tiers!”  However, its more complicated than that.  Think of your recent guild raids.  While you were running Dragon Soul, how often would your guild go back and run Blackwing Descent?  How about Baradin Hold?  Throne of the Four Winds?  Probably never.  Would you want to?

In reality, here is what happened in Burning Crusade.  Guilds became farm systems.  I know because my guild was on the low-end of the system, and I remember it well.

The high-end guilds would advance to the most current level of raid content.  If you wanted to join one of those guilds, they insisted that you should already be attuned because they didn’t want to run old content.  That meant that you had to join a guild that was still running old content.

Players would join my guild while we were running the Gruul/Magtheridon tier.  Once we were able to clear those raids, some players would leave our guild to jump to a guild that was in the SSC/TK tier.  Once the players had cleared those, they would try to jump to a top guild in BT/MH.

At this point, some would ask, “But why didn’t your guild just keep progressing past that tier so you could get to the higher tiers?”  Its hard to do that when you keep losing players.  And every time we lost players, in order to replace them we had to go back and run old content to attune them.  It was a terrible cycle and actually prohibited progression for all but the top guilds.

And that is why that attunement style cannot be brought back.  It created a nearly unbreakable caste system in the game.  (of course, the elitists want exactly that, which is why they argue so strongly for attunements)


There is probably a middle ground to this, but with the LFG making heroics and JP/VP gear so accessible and all but required prior to raiding, I think its not needed.  The devs should be able to wrap the backstory up in the heroic instances and it would accomplish most of what an attunement chain could do.  I’d suggest to add maybe one or two solo pre-quests before the heroics as a story hook, because once you’re in the heroics the go-go-go crowd can make it hard to stop and read quest text.


Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
September 2014
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