Archive for April, 2009


Shout Out to Norfin

You meet a lot of people in this game.

Correction – you don’t really “meet” many of them.  You interact with them through purely indirect means.  Typically its through typed chat, which is about as impersonal as you can get.  Other times its through Vent discussions, which is a little more personal.  However, the people in the game are mostly just voices and avatars, hidden behind pseudonyms.  Usually you don’t know much about the person behind the toon, other than a few superficial details.  Sometimes people use this anonymity to be jerks.  Most of them are casually friendly, but in a reserved, small-talk kind of way.

However, every now and then you run into someone in game who is so nice that it puts the rest of us almost to shame.

Norfin is an officer in my guild.  He was the de-facto leader of the guild that we merged with back in our BC days.  He’s always been a nice guy in chat, a good person to talk to in Vent, and a great helper in running the guild.

He is an inscriptionist and herbalist.  Last week he was busy farming herbs in Sholazar Basin.  He had spent hours there accumulating many, many stacks of herbs.  In chat he said that he was working on making a Nobles Deck for his significant other (who plays a feral druid).  That’s nice.  Its the kind of thing that you do for your partner.  I’d do something like that for Aellkynne (my wife) if she wanted me to.

I lamented in chat that I was going to have to fork out big gold to buy my Nobles deck because I don’t have a character with inscription.  I’d been saving up my gold, since the deck typically goes for 7-9k on my server, and I had nearly enough.

Norfin whispered me that I should hold off on buying the whole deck.  He said that he was almost done making the current deck, and he was bound to get some extra Nobles cards in the random card-making process, and he would give them to me.

That’s pretty generous.  Each Nobles card goes for between 300-1000 gold, so he was giving up a fair chunk of potential profit.  I thanked him and told him I would wait to see what he got.

The next day, he sent me two Nobles cards.  I was very appreciative, since my card investment had just decreased by about 15-20%.  I considered this a very nice act.  However, that’s the sort of thing that good guildmates do in this game.  Over my time played, I have given away thousands of gold worth of leatherworking products, donated thousands of gold worth of farmed mats, and “loaned” thousands of gold to needy guildmates.  After all, they are only pixels.

The next day when I logged on, there was Norfin in Sholazar Basin again.  When I asked what he was doing, he said that he was farming more herbs to make me more Nobles cards!

In WoW, the only real currency is time. Gold, epic loot, ore and herbs are there for the taking in unlimited supply.  All it requires is the time spent.  When Norfin gave me the first cards, those were byproducts of previous efforts – just unintended outcomes of the RNG.  While they were nice, they did not represent any extra effort on his part, only his generous nature.  Now that he was farming on my behalf, that is a whole different level of generosity.  Now he’s spending precious hours of game time purely to benefit someone else (me). Not a few minutes (like helping with a quest) or an hour (like running an alt through Deadmines) but hours and hours.

Over the course of several days he farmed literally thousands of herbs (he announced his totals in chat), made dozens of cards, and gave me more than half of the Nobles deck. Looking past the gold, he dedicated his own personal play time toward the goal of benefiting someone who he only knows through an in-game avatar.

That’s about the nicest thing anyone has done for me in-game.  He wants no repayment, no epic pixels or virtual gold for his efforts.  So I’m using my forum here to give Norfin some recognition.  Thanks, man.


Expertise and Ulduar

How’s your expertise looking?  Mine’s not what it should be.  There is coming a time, soon, when I will want to make sure I’ve paid some attention to my expertise value.


Expertise 101:

Expertise is different than hit rating.  Increasing hit rating reduces the miss chance.  That is, of course, a Good Thing.    However, hit rating does not affect the chance for you to be dodged or parried.  Those come from expertise.

When fighting a raid boss, he has a base 6.5% chance to dodge and a large chance (greater than 10%, maybe as high as 16%) to parry your attacks.  At face value, that is a huge issue… that’s more than 16-20% of your attacks!  However, we can a large chunk of that out immediately by attacking from behind the boss.  When you are behind the target you cannot be parried, only dodged.  So now only 6.5% of your attacks are subject to this problem.  Whew!

You can further reduce this with expertise.  Note that there is a difference between Expertise and Expertise Rating.

Each point of Expertise reduces the chance to be dodged AND parried by 0.25%.  That means that if you can get 26 points of Expertise, you will reduce the dodge chance to zero.

Expertise is gained from Expertise Rating.  At level 80, every 8.2 Expertise Rating gives you 1 Expertise.  Therefore, if you have 216 points of Expertise Rating, barring other effects from talents and such, you will be at 26 Expertise.   This is made a little more complex by talents.

  • In the Combat tree, the Weapon Expertise talent gives you up to 10 Expertise.  So combat rogues only need an additional 16 Expertise from their rating points.  That’s just 132 expertise rating.
  • Humans get 3 Expertise when using a sword or mace.   So a human Combat spec rogue wielding a sword or mace already has 13 Expertise (from the racial and 2/2 Weapon Expertise) and needs only another 13 from rating points.  That’s just 107 expertise rating.


kologarnSo why is this important now?  Many rogues ignore expertise rating in favor of hit rating.  We’ve been conditioned over the years to think that hit rating is the most important stat, and old habits are hard to break.  Besides, when the base miss chance is 28%, but the base dodge chance is only 6.5% its easy to see why we put more value on hit rating.

An upcoming fight is going to bring this issue to the forefront.  In Ulduar, there is a boss called Kologarn.  Because of the positioning of the fight, and the fact that the boss is the size of a building, melee cannot get behind him.

That means that instead of just the 6.5% dodge chance, we now also have to deal with the parry chance.  If you allow 16-20% of your attacks to be avoided, your dps will suffer greatly.  Expertise reduces both dodge and parry, so you will want to have a gear set with some expertise, even if its just for this fight.  While the expertise cap listed above (26) is reachable, you are not likely to be expertise-capped when standing in front of the boss because the parry chance is too high.  But when you are in front of the boss, expertise > hit rating.  Gem and enchant accordingly.

Good sources of Expertise:

That’s a partial list of the highest expertise items.  For a thorough list, click here to see Wowhead’s item rankings.  Also don’t forget that you can enchant your bracers with +15 expertise rating and your gloves with +15 expertise rating.  I wouldn’t recommend replacing good AP enchants with those unless you were really hurting for expertise.  In addition, gems with the Accurate or Precise cut have +expertise rating.

I have a few of those items in my bank, since I have since replaced them with better items.  I’m glad I didn’t throw them away.  I’ll carry them with me when we start progressing through Ulduar.


Noblegarden… /yawn

poleThis is me.

Note that I am staring at a post.

There is an egg that spwns at the top of that post.

I’m waiting for it to spawn.

Yep.  Just… waiting.  I did that for over an hour and a half today.  Just… waited.  For eggs.  To spawn.

When Blizzard revamped Noblegarden, I think they envisioned people running carefree and willy-nilly all around the starting zones, gathering up eggs with gleeful smiles.  Count on the WoW community to suck the fun out of everything.  People just camp the spawn points, which forces me to camp a spawn point too if I want any shot at eggs.

(I found a much better spot than this in another town where I am standing among three egg spawn points)

Complain all you want about the drop rate on the Love Fool quests.  At least it was a little exciting.  When I was short a couple of candies of the meta-achievement, I really felt the pressure.  As the time left in the world event ticked down, I made sure to go for a bag of candies at every opportunity.  Each time I opened a bag of candies I got a rush of anticipation (usually followed by a slap of disappointment).  Still, it wasn’t dull.

So thanks for the effort, Blizzard.  Unfortunately, this holiday has turned out to be dull.  To cater to those who whined about the drop rate of the candies, Blizz made everything purchasable with chocolates.  If you have patience to stand and stare at a pole for hours and hours, you too can get the Noblegarden title.  You don’t even have to move.


New Trinket – Pyrite Infuser

flameleviathanNormally, the best gear drops in the hardest instances, or from final bosses.  However, every now and then you get a real surprise that drops from an easier opponent.

As everyone should know by now, Flame Leviathan is the first boss in Ulduar.  Despite the higher difficulty of Ulduar, Flame Leviathan by itself is not too bad, and kind of fun.  If at all possible, you should try and get into a 10-man run of him every week.  He drops a surprisingly good trinket for rogues – the Pyrite Infuser.

Its another AP proc, much like Mirror of Truth, but with a higher number (1234 AP for 10 seconds).  In addition the trinket gives an enormous amount of hit raitng (95) on equip.  Hit rating is never a bad thing.  In particular, if you have been gemming for +hit to get you to the poison cap, then this item will allow you to re-gem for other stats.

The various loot ranking systems (Loot Rank, Shadowpanther, Gear Wish List) rank this trinket higher than all of the pre-Ulduar trinkets except DMC:G and Bandit’s Insignia, and right around or slightly higher than Grim Toll and FFF.  That’s not bad for a drop from the first boss in a 10-man raid.

I don’t know if Flame Leviathan is reliably puggable yet.  It may take a month or so before enough people know the fight to make it something I’d pug.  But even if your guild isn’t ready for the whole of Ulduar yet, try to get them to go in just for 10-man Flame Leviathan and see if you can’t get this great item.


Raiding – ready to step up?

Raiding is in an interesting place right now.  A lot of bad habits have been formed during the months in Naxx.  Focusing dps, marking pulls for kill order, crowd control, and using utility abilities have all fallen by the wayside in favor of the group-em-up-and-nuke-em-down approach.

I think that Ulduar will quickly dispel that.

Its not just the basic raiding skills that need to be restored.  Players are severely lacking in patience.  In Naxx, if a grouped wiped a couple of times on Anu’rekhan, typically you would see people dropping out of the raid to look for a better raid group.  I saw the same thing in an Ulduar pug, and its just ridiculous.  Its unreasonable to expect a pug to walk into a new, harder raid and get through it quickly.  Get ready for some wipes to learn the fights.

We are spoiled.  Time to wake up.  Raid teams that maintained some sense of discipline during the Naxx months will adjust quickly.  The rest will get used to disappointment, and slowly remember what it meant to raid pre-WotLK.  This is not to say that we will revert to the BC days where only the elite got to Black Temple.  On the contrary, the Naxx experience has filled everyone with the confidence that they can participate in endgame.  Sure, a lot of PuGs will fail.  But they will still exist in large numbers.  In the end, as PuGs start to fill up with better geared players, then Ulduar will ease up and more will get to enjoy it.


Our guild took a few token attempts at Razorscale this past weekend.  We hadn’t really prepped for the fight so most of us didn’t know what to expect.  A few of us had looked at videos online, so we at least knew the boss’ abilities.  Still, the too-loose organization was simply not going to get us anywhere on that fight.  Our tanks will have to be on the ball, healers will need to stick to assignments, and dps needs to pick up the slack.

As always, its not the destination, its the journey.  I look forward to learning each fight.  I expect that our guild will take acouple of months to get through Ulduar.  Some bosses may take us weeks to learn and overcome.  That feeling of accomplishment is what I have been missing for the past several months.


We’re not sprinklers anymore

I haven’t had much time to post lately.  My free time has been spent in the game, not writing about it.  As the post-patch excitement dies down now, I’ll return to a more regular posting schedule.



As much as I love Fan of Knives, when we used it I couldn’t help but think we looked like rotary lawn sprinklers, only tossing around tiny daggers instead of water.  Now that has changed to something more dagger-ish.

What does anyone else think of the Fan of Knives animation?  The daggers are more clearly drawn, but they move too slowly.  It looks cartoony, even for WoW.  I’m not sure which one I liked better.  Ah well.  As long as its doing lots of damage on trash packs, I’m happy.

Not that I’ve had the opportunity to do trash damage lately.  In Ulduar, all of the damage up to and including the first boss is done in the vehicles.  No need for our abilities there.  Then there is no trash to clear before the next bosses.  Is this good?  Raiders have always wanted less trash.  Does that make them happy?  No trash at all?


Rogue’s Guide to Emalon the Storm Watcher

emalonThis might be premature.  I’ve only defeated him once and there may be parts I haven’t learned yet.  He is easy to find.  Go into VoA as usual, but turn right after the first adds instead of straight.

Emalon comes with four adds.  There is no point in killing them – Emalon will just summon replacements immediately.  They can all be off-tanked by a single tank.

The main tank grabs Emalon, and you TotT to give him threat and then get your dps cycle going. Save your burst abilities for now.

You need to watch for a couple of things while attacking…

  • Emalon casts a Chain Lightning, so you want to stay somewhat spread out from the other melee dps.
  • He also casts Lightning Nova, which is a big AoE very much like Loken in HoL.  Watch his cast bar to see it start.  It has a fairly long cast time, so you have a few seconds to turn and run out of range to avoid the damage.  If you’re late running out, you can Cloak to avoid the damage.  Its not instant death if you take the hit, but its a sizeable chunk of your health.

As you are dpsing the boss and running out to avoid Lightning Nova, watch for the raid warning that says that one of the adds is getting overcharged (I forget the exact wording).  When that happens, one of the adds being off-tanked gets bumped up to full health and starts to grow.  All dps needs to go take it down.  The longer it lives, the more damage it does, until eventually it will take out the off tank and wipe the raid.  Use any burst talents that you have to hit it hard and fast.

Its helpful here to have a macro for /assist your offtank so you can pick up his target quickly.  The adds are in a bunch and they all look the same, so if you tab-target you’ll be slow getting to the right one.

Once that add dies, Emalon summons a replacement, and the off-tank needs to grab it so it doesn’t go after healers.  Then you go back to dpsing Emalon and avoiding Lightning Novas.  Repeat this cycle until the boss dies.  Since you are switching targets periodically, threat should not be a huge issue.  If your tank has a big threat lead, use your TotT to buff another dps class.

Once we found the rhythm it was fairly easy.

He drops the T8 hands, legs, or chest.  He also drops several Season 6 Furious Gladiator pvp pieces, and two Emblems of Valor.  Good luck with your drops!


First Night of New Stuff

So I got online at about 10 P.M. Eastern time.  I allocated my talent points in the same spec I had before the patch, only with Master Poisoner instead of Turn the Tables.  I was busy at the practice dummy testing if the new poison proc-per-minute mechanic would allow me to switch out to a slower dagger without a loss of dps.

Then someone suggested we go try the new boss in VoA.

Honestly – in all the fuss over Ulduar, I had completely missed that fact that there was a new VoA boss.

So we formed a 10-man raid, zoned in, and had at him.  It was fun.  Playing on new content without the aid of endless strategy guides and videos was enjoyable.  Each attempt we got a little closer until we finally got him down!

He dropped hunter and warlock gear.  At least one of the pieces was iLvL 219.  I didn’t check the other.  He also dropped Emblems of Valor rather than Heroism, even though it was a 10-man raid.

DPS report – niiiccee.

My opening sequence has changed.  I opened with a Garrotte to get the bleed going so I could hit Hunger for Blood.  Then I use my first combo points to get SnD up, and then an Envenom to refresh it.  I am watching my Ruptures more closely to make sure that I have one going when HfB needs to be refreshed.

When I read the new HfB description it seemed like you had to have a bleed up all the time to get the buff.  In playing, it looked like you only needed the bleed up when it needed to be refreshed, and you kept the buff even if the bleed dropped off.  I guess its possible that the buff lost its effect when there was no bleed.  I’ll have to play with that some more at the practice dummy.

My dps seemed to be higher than it was before.  I was well ahead of the mage who is usually neck-and-neck with me in dps.  So either she had an off night or I got some buffs.  That’s with the old glyphs, too.  No one has the Glyph of HfB or Mutilate yet.

I did the fishing daily and made a bunch of gold on the AH.  All in all a fun first evening.


Back for More

I had my Spring Break last week, and I used it to get away from all of my responsibilities – including blogging – for some relaxation.  Now I’m back to the work grind, and prepping for what may be Patch Day.

Some things to catch up on that I have overlooked for the past week or so…

  • The common expectation is that Combat is going to overtake Mutilate as the raid spec of choice.  I hope not.  Back in the BC days I was forced to switch to Combat because it was a very sizeable dps increase over Mut.  It was such a large difference that I couldn’t ignore it, even though the Mut playstyle is so much more fun.  If the two specs turn out to be comparable after the upcoming patch, I’ll stick with Mutilate.  Any slight differences in theoretical dps are overshadowed by skill and technique, anyway.
  • In fact, I have positioned myself so I am really stuck with mutilate.  I have routinely passed on every sword and fist weapon that has dropped in Naxx.  Our guild saw Calamity’s Grasp drop last week and I let it go to a hunter.  I didn’t want to see it languish in my bank, and I have no intention of playing anything other than daggers.  The only epic weapons I own are daggers.
  • My guild has cleared 25-man Naxx, but didn’t manage to get Heroic Malygos down.  We learned the fight fairly quickly in our first all-guild night in EoE, and if we had another week to make attempts we’d have a real shot.  If the patch drops this week, then we’ll likely pass in favor of Ulduar.
  • I’ve had a lot of fun playing my Disc Priest lately.  I have no trouble at all healing regular instances.  We did speed runs through reg HoL and I had no mana issues and we had no deaths.  But put me into a heroic instance and everything goes downhill.  Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but with 1300 spellpower it just seems like I can’t heal fast enough to keep up with the damage on boss fights in heroics.  I want to do more regular level 80 instances to get better pre-heroic gear, but no one wants to run anything but heroics…
  • Leveling tailoring is a chore.  I thought that would be a nice way to gear up my priest at level 80.  But making spellweave, ebonweave, and moonshroud on a 4-day cooldown is tedious.  I had a much easier time getting leatherworking maxed.
  • I didn’t believe it would work, but its true.  You really can make gold by buying Eternal Fires, splitting them into crystallized fires, and reselling them.


Samueltempus over at Slice and Dice tagged me with the Honest Scrap meme about a week ago, and I’m finally getting around to addressing it.  He says nice things about me, so its only polite that I respond to it.  Here’s the meme:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

10 Honest Things About Me

  1. I am a physics teacher in real life.  I teach at a very good public school with bright students.  The students make my job easy, much like having good guild members makes being a guildmaster easy.
  2. I never wanted to be a guild master.  When our guild’s original GM and his co-GM bolted for a progression guild, the rest of us had a meeting on vent where we decided to continue on without them.  I was about to suggest someone as the new GM, but he beat me to the punch and nominated me first.  I was voted in, and took the job reluctantly in the interest of keeping the guild together.  That was almost two years ago.
  3. I am an electronics junkie.  I have an iPod Touch that I use every 5 minutes or so for whatever reason I can think of.  At my desk at work I have an electric pencil sharpener, electric stapler, and even an electric three-hole punch.  If there is an automated way to make something easier, I am there.
  4. Despite what I said above, I actually do not own a cell phone or blackberry.  When I am out, I like to be alone with my thoughts.  Cell phones interrupt that.  I also see so many people that rudely answer their phone at any time no matter the circumstances, and I don’t want to be one of those people.
  5. The one thing I like more than WoW is baseball, and the New York Yankees in particular.  I have followed the Yankees since 1977, and have stuck with them through good times and bad.
  6. I once watched hours worth of Australian Rules Football and Curling on television to see if I could figure out the rules without having them explained to me.  I managed to figure those sports out, but I have never understood Cricket.
  7. When my daughter was very young, I used to sing her the Sun Song by They Might Be Giants.  It was my hope that she would amaze her kindergarden teacher by describing the sun as a mass of incandescent gas or a gigantic nuclear furnace.  She had the song memorized by the time she was four.  The plan didn’t work, though.  She was too shy to speak up when her class talked about the Sun.
  8. I have a very large book collection of mostly sci fi and fantasy books.  When I moved to Florida, the collection that I brought with me was larger than that of the local library’s scifi/fantasy section.  (they have since acquired a larger selection)
  9. My favorite television show is Big Bang Theory.  Since I majored in physics, I knew a lot of those type of people in college.  In almost every episode there are little side jokes that you would only get if you know physics.  On Tuesdays, my co-workers sometimes come find me and ask me to explain the jokes that they didn’t catch.  The spherical cow joke is a classic.
  10. My wife and I have been together since high school.  Fortunately for me, she shares my interests – D&D back then, followed by other RPGs like TORG, and now WoW.  If she didn’t agree to play WoW with me, I probably wouldn’t still be involved in it.

Since I waited so long to respond to this meme, I think it is past its prime and I’m not going to tag anyone else.  I guess I am violating the rules, and so the meme gods might frown upon me.  Like any good rogue, I will avoid confrontation and /vanish.


#&%!# trinkets!

qqThis is a QQ post.

I’m getting desperate.

My gear is pretty good. Gradually, over the course of many raids, I have accumulated iLvL 213 items in every slot but my chestpiece, trinkets, and main hand dagger.

The chestpiece is not so worrisome.  I have already passed on the T7.5 chest because someone else needed it more than I did.  I’m sporting the Tunic of Dislocation which is not too shabby.

The dagger is just because Blizzard made the Librarian’s Paper Cutter so powerful that I can’t find an improvement.  If I could get an Omen of Ruin or a second Webbed Death I would upgrade, but I haven’t been so lucky.

But those darn trinkets.

I’m still sporting Meteorite Whetstone, and even that took me forever to get.  I’ve run Naxx endlessly, OS a ton, and all the heroics, and I can’t get a drop.

Grim Toll drops off of four bosses in Naxx.  I’ve seen it drop twice, but didn’t get it either time.

Fury of the Five Flights drops from Sartharion with no drakes.  I’ve seen that drop no less than three times.  I still don’t have it.

We’ve killed Sapphiron only twice on heroic mode, so its not surprising that I haven’t seen Bandit’s Insignia drop.  I’ve been holding out on taking any gear so I’d be in position to pick this up.  Alas…

The Incisor Fragment comes from King Dred in heroic DTK.  I’ve never seen it drop.  Its only iLvL 200, but its still a nice upgrade from what I have.

Even Loatheb’s Shadow (also iLvL 200), which drops in 10-man Naxx, has eluded me.  I’ve never seen that one, either.

I’m at the point where I am pugging OS and DTK to try for the trinkets.  I never PuG, so this is a measure of my desperation.  Ulduar is going to come out and we won’t be running these raids anymore.  That means I’ll be competing with the whole raid for the new shinies, reducing my chance to get an upgrade.

I know I’m just a victim of the RNG.  But it feels like I’m cursed.

It reminds me of my quest to get the Dragonspine Trophy back in BC.  I did finally get it, but it was just before WotLK after we had killed Gruul many, many times.  And that was just one item, so by making that my goal I was setting myself up for repeated disappointment.  In my current situation, I have several possible drops that would be improvements, and I am still waiting.

Maybe this will be the week.  Maybe we’ll kill Malygos and the Mark of Norgannon will come to me.  Maybe my PuGs will pay off with FFF or the Incisor Fragment.  Maybe I’ll get in on a 10-man Naxx pickup just for Loatheb.  Or maybe I’ll just settle for buying an Undeath Deck to get the Darkmoon Card: Death.


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
April 2009
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