Archive for October, 2009


Hallow’s Grind

I’m normally good about doing holiday achievements.  Its a fun sidetrack while I’m online for the times I’m not involved with anything.  We’ve now been doing the whole achievement thing for about a year – enough time for people to do the entire holiday circuit and get their violet proto-drakes.

I’m still missing a few holidays.  I didn’t do Children’s Week because I refused to do the PvP achievement.  I missed the Winter Veil achievements just because I wasn’t into achievements back in December and I didn’t find the Winter Veil activities to be fun.  And I skipped Hallow’s End completely.

Hallow’s End and the Love is in the Air achievement sets are the grindy-est.  Logging on every hour to trick-or-treat?  I have better things to do with my day.  Killing the Headless Horseman over and over and over and over to get a drop or two?  Yeah – not interested.

Last year when this came around, I quickly decided I wasn’t interested, and tuned out the entire holiday.  That means I didn’t even get enough of them done to make it tolerable this year.  Now I look at the list and I’m undecided if I want to be bothered.

I may or may not eventually get all of the holiday achievements.  If I do, I think Hallow’s End may not happen until 2010.


How the Other Side Lives

I enjoy the casual raiding style.  I can raid if I want, or go do “real life” things if I need to without worrying about repercussions.  No attendance requirements, no fear of losing my raid spot for some odd reason, no arcane loot distribution rules.

That said, though, I always show up for my raids.  I always have consumables.  I earn my raid spot, not by being the GM, but by putting out the top dps, not standing in fire,  and knowing the strategies.

The downside of casual raiding happens when a bunch of people don’t show up for raids, and we have to do a 10-man raid on a night we should be doing 25-man runs.  Or when people log in an hour late and expect to have a raid spot.  Or when people don’t play for a week, then show up to a raid with no consumables.  There are definite drawbacks.

Sometimes I wonder if I could hack it in a hardcore guild.  I wonder if I could even get accepted into a hardcore guild.  Its not like I’ll have a chance to try – I’m the GM of the only guild I’ve ever been in, and the guild has been around for over two years. I’m not going to leave to test the waters.  So this is just thinking out loud.

If I were guildless, would I have the guts to put in an application to a top guild?  If I got accepted, would I be able to handle the pressure to perform?  I am confident that I know my stuff, but could I enjoy a raid if I thought that every little error was being scrutinized?  Last week I failed to get out of the way of a Deep Breath in Onyxia.  Yes, I FAILED.  In my guild, that’s a simple “Sorry guys, I won’t do that again next time.”  In a high-end guild, do I get yelled at?  Kicked from the raid?  Lose my raid spot?

How do top guilds choose people, anyway?  What could I say in a guild application that would make me stand out?  Yes, I do a lot of dps.  I can explain the pros and cons of all of my talent choices.  I know the strategies of the bosses I fight.  Would that be enough to get me into a hardcore guild?

I’m just wondering out loud.  If anyone in my guild reads this (hi guys) I’m not even considering leaving.  I’m just speculating on the hardcore style of gameplay which I have never (and will never) experience.


Of Shadow Priests and Shockadins

Lately I’ve been spending more time on my alts.  I am specifically avoiding anything that resembles a rogue playstyle, so no melee toons for me.  I only have two alts that I play regularly, so I am far from being an alt-oholic..


My priest has been level 80 for a while.  I’ve talked in the past about the troubles I’ve had with healing in Discipline spec.  I’m improving, but still have a lot to learn.  I’m at the point now where I can heal any heroic 5-mans except heroic ToC.  I can tank-heal in Naxx or Ulduar 10, but still have trouble raid healing if there is a lot of raid damage going around.  I have yet to try healing as holy spec, because… well… I hate giving up.

I’d like to get him better gear to overcome my personal defiencies, and we have a lot of good healers in the guild so I don’t get into many runs.  I got him a shadow spec to allow me to run as dps.  This has been an interesting experience.  I find that my AoE dps with Mind Sear is fine.  However, my single-target dps is… meh.  I can generally do 2500 dps on a heroic 5-man boss, which is just OK.

Actually, its a lot like playing an assassination rogue.  When I play my rogue, I have a build-up time while I get SnD up, get a bleed going, get HfB up, and build up a poison stack.  Once that’s going, I don’t have any cooldowns to use for a boost so its all sustained damage and time on target.

As a shadow priest, I have the same attack structure.  I have to get a Vampiric Embrace cast, get Devouring Plague up, get SW:Pain on, and then I can start with Mind Flay and Mind Blast and SW:D.  There are no cooldowns I can use to boost the damage, so its all about keeping DoTs up and time on target.

I’d rather be healing, but having the dual spec gets me into more runs.


My paladin is at level 77.  I am really enjoying playing him as a shockadin.  Its a shame I won’t be able to keep that at level 80.

The shockadin build gets most of its damage from Holy Shock and Exorcism.  With Seal of Light and Replenishment, I am constantly regaining both health and mana, so I can typically finish a fight at >90% of both, and have minimial downtime.  I can easily take on large groups of mobs, especially undead, so questing is a breeze.

The only downside is that my damage is mediocre.  At level 76 I’m doing about 800 dps.  Sure, it will go up as I get closer to level 80 and get better gear, but I don’t see this being a spec that I can bring into instances or raids.  It is fun to play, though.  Its like a mage with armor.

When I get him to 80 I’ll get a Protection dual spec and give tanking another shot.  I tried tanking back in Karazhan at levle 70 and didn’t like it.  Maybe its changed since WotLK came out.  In any case, it will be nice to have another tank in the guild to step in when we lose people to boredom.


What’s this Ruptureless Cycle?

The buzz among rogue theorycrafters recently has been the emergence of a ruptureless cycle for Combat rogues.  Lets take a look at this.

Traditionally, Rupture has been a must for rogues.  Every attack cycle tried to maximize Rupture uptime.  Why?  Because Rupture is that good.  For a mere 25 energy, a 5-point Rupture (glyphed and with points in Blood Spatter)  is going to drop a big chunk of bleed damage on your target, ignoring armor.  Your Eviscerates, on the other hand can do good base damage, but not as much as Rupture and the hits are mitigated by armor and cost more energy.

In a traditional Combat cycle, Rupture gets priority over Eviscerate.  That’s why the cookie-cutter Combat spec doesn’t put points in Improved Eviscerate – its not used enough to make those points worthwhile.  In my time spent in Combat spec, almost all of my finishers were used for SnD or Rupture.

That changed with T9 gear and armor penetration.  Instead of ArPen being a stat occasionally found here and there, at the T9 level its all over the place.  If you’re accumulating iLvL 245 gear you can build up lots of ArPen.  When you’re gemming for ArPen, eating ArPen food, and using Grim Toll and/or Mjolnir Runestone, your total armor penetration rating can go through the roof.

With enough ArPen you can reach the point that your Eviscerate damage basically ignores your target’s armor.  At that point, and with points in Imp Evis, Eviscerate can out-perform Rupture.  Thus, the Rupture-less cycle is born.

So how much Armor Penetration is enough?  That’s hard to say exactly.  Armor Penetration is a very math-y stat (which is why its being removed in Cataclysm).  Most online guides advise you to put your gear in a spreadsheet and play around with the numbers.  The general guideline is that you want to be over 1000 Armor Penetration rating.

If you have Grim Toll or Mjolnir Runestone, then you don’t have to be that high.  They each have a proc that gives over 600 ArPen.  Since the cap (100% armor penetration) is 1400, then its a waste to be over that.  If you have either of those trinkets, then you will want the ArPen from the rest of your gear to be between 700-750.

Also, keep in mind that mace spec gives 15% armor penetration.  So if you’re sporting maces your numbers are different.

So, the million-gold question… how do you get 1000 ArPen?

If you’re not regularly clearing 10 or 25 man ToC, then you have little chance of getting to the required level of armor penetration.  Sure, there are some nice ArPen items in Ulduar like the Cindershard Ring and Winter’s Icy Embrace.  But to get to the big numbers you’ll need T9 pieces and items from ToC such as Steel Bladebreaker and Gloves of the Silver Assassin.  You’ll be filling your gem slots with Fractured Cardinal Rubies (+20 ArPen), which will get you pretty far toward the cap.  Then you can eat some Hearty Rhino for another 40 ArPen.

Once you’re at the required level of armor pen, your rotation is simple.  Get SnD going.  Build up 5 combo points, Eviscerate.  Repeat as necessary.  Refresh SnD at the last possible moment before it expires, no matter how many combo points you have at the time.  That’s it.

Is this useful for Mutilate rogues?  Not as much.  Assassination rogues depend on Hunger for Blood, so the target must have a bleed effect.  Sure, you can depend on druids and warriors to put bleeds, but I’d rather rely on myself.  Also, Envenom already ignores armor, so the Ruptureless cycle is only for assassination rogues that want to use Eviscerate.  There is some theorycrafting that shows that this might work, but they also include weapon-swapping and other inconveniences.


Losing to the Boredom Boss

I’ve talked about my great guild before.  I think I’ve been very fortunate to play with a group of like-minded players who enjoyed the game for the fun of playing and had a casual attitude toward playing.

The majority of the guild’s core could be categorized as Explorers on the Bartle Test.   We thrive on seeing new places and learning new things.  We love to progress through raids but not for gear or keeping up with the other guilds.  We move through raids to see new environments and learn new encounters.

This mentality places some limitations on our gameplay.  Once we have seen and defeated a raid zone, there’s not a whole lot of motivation to go back and farm it for gear.  As an example, I think I’ve only killed Kel’Thuzad three or four times, depite the fact that we had cleared Naxx pretty early on in WotLK.  Also, we don’t generally try hard modes.  Its not that we can’t do them.  Rather, we don’t feel like artificially putting up obstacles when the only reward is slightly better gear.  Gear is not our motivation.

That Explorer approach has brought us through Naxxramas, up to Yogg-Saron in Ulduar, Obsidian Sanctum, Onyxia, VoA and through ToC normal.  We’ve seen just about every boss there is to see in the game.  What is left to do?  Heroic ToC?  For the die-hard Explorer, there’s not a great motivation to do that since we have already seen the whole zone on normal.  There’s nothing new to find or discover.  Ulduar hard modes?  While that would get us to Alganon (the only raid boss we haven’t seen) the reward is not really worth the time investment.

In light of this, its not a surprise that we’ve seen our numbers dwindle.  No one is leaving the guild, but people are logging on less and less.  A month ago, we had 14-18 online on any given weeknight.  This week, there have been 5-8 on at most times… often not even enough to run a heroic instance.

I haven’t been posting much to the blog because I haven’t been doing much in game.  Most nights I log on, run a heroic or two, play on an alt for a while, and log off early.

I anticipate that we’ll see a resurgence among our members once Patch 3.3 comes out.  We’ll have to catch up a bit when that happens.  Since we have not been farming ToC, we won’t be as geared as we might like when the new Icecrown instances open up.

Can we beat the boredom boss?  Its a long, tough fight.  We’ll see…


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)
October 2009
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