Archive for September, 2012


Midnight Launch and WoW vs FIFA

At the local Gamestop, there were two midnight launches on the same night.  Both WoW and FIFA 13 were available on September 25th.  As release time approached, there were about 15 WoW players and about 10 FIFA players waiting around for the games to go on sale.

The launch event was small.  The one for Cataclysm, while not huge, was bigger than this one.  A lot more people are opting for the digital download.  As for me, as long as they hold launch events I’ll keep attending.  I like to hang out with other people and share the excitement.

Also, I managed to win a raffle for a stand-up cardboard Pandaria store display.  🙂

As a humorous aside, the store clerks were able to profile each customer who came in as either a WoW or FIFA player.  They were 100% accurate in their profiling (except for the one guy who came in to buy Dead or Alive 5).  I tried to observe the people to figure out what gave it away.

I understand that this is a very small sample size, and so no broad judgements are valid.  However, here’s what I noticed:

1. age

The WoW players as a whole were generally older than the FIFA players.  There were a couple of early-20’s WoW guys, but most of us looked to be in the 30’s (and I’m in my 40’s).  For FIFA, no one was over 25.  I wonder if this is a general trend for console vs PC gamers.

2. gender

Every FIFA player was male.  Out of the 15 WoW players, 3 were female.

3. hair

The FIFA players, in general, had nicely styled or combed hair.  Often it was cut very short.  The hair that was not short had gel or other styling products.  It looked like they paid attention to their appearance.

The WoW group, fitting the stereotype, was more slovenly-looking.  Its not that we were slobs, but there was a higher incidence of long hair, or hair that looked like it could use some combing.  I don’t think any of us used hair gel or similar styling products.  Also – definitely more facial hair among WoW players.  I don’t recall a beard or mustache on a FIFA player.

4. sneakers

FIFA players almost all had new-looking, brand name sneakers.  WoW players generally (with some exceptions) wore old sneakers or sandals.

5. weight

100% of the FIFA players were at a healthy weight.  They all looked like they could go out and run a mile or actually play a game of soccer.  The WoW group was more… diverse in their body mass.

6. shorts

Being in Florida, everyone wore shorts except the ones who came straight from work.  The FIFA guys mostly wore athletic shorts.  The WoW guys wore mostly denim shorts with some khaki shorts mixed in.

I noticed that there was not a single WoW-themed t-shirt among the customers.  That surprised me.  I expected some horde-vs-alliance arguments to break out.  Conversation was generally civil and not even about gaming most of the time.  Much of it was reflecting on past midnight launches and gamer lifestyle.

I felt out of place, to be honest.  Most of the people there were true gamers.  The conversation shifted from WoW to Skyrim to Borderlands to MLB: The Show in rapid succession.  I couldn’t take part, because I just play WoW.  Its truly the only game I play.  (I dabbled in Diablo 3 for a bit, but only until I defeated Diablo on normal mode).

Of course, now that I own the game I won’t even get a chance to play until this evening.  Getting there at midnight was for the fun of it, and not because I’m in a hurry to rush into the game.


Rogue Hit and Expertise Caps in Mists of Pandaria

This is a rewrite of my past posts on hit rating.  I have updated this with each expansion, reworking the numbers each time to reflect the new figures.  This one applies to level 90 rogues in Mists of Pandaria.  

Mechanics have changed with Mists of Pandaria.  If you understand the mechanics, or if you just want the numbers, then scroll to the bottom where there is a chart.


The attack process has been relatively unchanged for a while, ever since combat ratings were introduced.  We were on a one-roll system that determined with a single random number if you hit, missed, crit, or glanced.  Now, in Mists of Pandaria there is a two-roll system.  The first roll determines if you hit, miss, or glance and then the second roll determines if you crit.  The fundamental hit mechanics have not changed, though.

When looking at relative weights of stats, the first priority for any rogue is to get to a point where their attacks will hit reliably.  Since we dual wield, we suffer a significant hit penalty.  We likely won’t get to a point where we never miss.  However, it is possible to get our stats so that our special attacks (e.g. sinister strike, mutilate) and our poisons never miss.  That is vitally important, because our special attacks give us our combo points, crits, procs, and energy return, and poisons (especially for assassination rogues) are a huge portion of our dps.

While leveling, its nice to get some hit rating, but you don’t need to focus on it. Once you get to 90 and you are doing endgame heroics and raids, then you will want to find gear with hit rating. How much do you need?

Rather than just throw numbers at you, here is an explanation of how hit rating works, along with the numbers that we need to aim for.  (FYI – I am a teacher in RL.. I can’t help it)

Warning, some math to follow. Pass this point with caution.

There is no magic number. Some classes try to be hit-capped, meaning that they will never miss. For rogues (and fury warriors, ret paladins, and dual-wielding shamans) that’s out of reach for now. Get as much as you can without making huge sacrifices to Agility, Crit Rating, Haste, etc..  Lets look at the “caps” in our ratings.

There used to be  three separate miss chances – one calculation for white damage, another for special attacks, and a third for poisons (treated as a spell).  However, in Mists of Pandaria, the poisons use the melee hit chance.  That simplifies things for us into just two hit chances – white damage and everything else.

Special Attacks and Poisons

In MoP, for special attacks the chance to miss is 7.5% against raid bosses.

White Damage

Dual wield classes get a 19% penalty to their hit chance on autoattacks (white damage).  The base miss chance is 3% and you add or subtract 1.5% per level difference between attacker and defender.

Translated to simple percentages, that will mean a 22% chance to miss against a level 90 foe, a 25% chance to miss against a level 92 boss (heroics) and a 26.5% chance to miss a level 93 raid boss with your autoattacks (white damage). So, to be completely hit-capped you would have to have enough hit rating to reduce your chance to miss by 26.5%.

Pause, take a deep breath. More math coming.

The amount of +hit% that you get from hit rating changes with level. That’s one way that Blizzard scales the combat system. The numbers that you got used to pre-Mists are no longer valid.

The conversion from hit rating to hit % is now this: For a level 90 character, 340 hit rating = 1% reduction in chance to miss for melee combat.

Here are the +hit numbers to look for:

  1. The most important +hit milestone is to reduce your chance to miss by 7.5%. That will mean that your special attacks and poisons never miss on raid bosses. To do that you need  2550 hit rating.
  2. The next one is to never miss with auto-attacks (white damage). You would need 26.5% for that, which is a whopping 9,010 hit rating . You could eat some +hit rating consumables to get that figure down, but you still aren’t going to be hit-capped any time soon.

Hit rating is immensely important up to the special attack and poison cap (+7.5%).  That’s called a “soft cap” because you can still increase dps by going above it.  However, any hit rating above the poisons cap only helps your white damage, so its not as important.  Most experts will recommend that you stop adding hit rating after you reach 7.5%.

The white cap is called a “hard cap” because there is no benefit at all if you exceed it.

These numbers seem very high to us compared to what we are used to in Cataclysm.  Stats on gear will be quite inflated by the time we reach level 90, so getting these soft caps should not be difficult.

The best advice is make sure you are above the special attacks and poison cap (+7.5% hit), and try to be at the expertise hard cap (+7.5% expertise, assuming you are attacking from behind) to get rid of dodges. After that, you’re probably going to want to work on agility, mastery, and haste rather than hit rating, because you don’t get as much benefit from stacking hit rating.

A note on expertise:

A lot of people read a blog post from Ghostcrawler that said that spells have a 15% miss chance.  It is worth noting that this does not apply to rogues at all.  Poisons have been moved to the melee hit chance, and rogue attacks do not use the spell hit at all.  Traing Dummy testing by Elitist Jerks and other places has confirmed this.  Poisons are no longer considered to be a spell.

That said, expertise is a valuable stat for all rogues.  Dodged attacks are bad.  Will it need to be capped?  Testing and theorycrafting will tell how its value compares to haste, crit, mastery, etc…  It doesn’t hurt to have it, though.


TL; DR Summary:

Specials and Poisons Hit Cap (7.5%) 2550
White Attack Hit Cap 9010
Expertise Cap (7.5%) 2550

Reputation Rewards for Rogues in Mists of Pandaria

**Edited to reflect that Justice Point gear had its reputation requirement removed in a hotfix after launch**

This post is based on what I know as of a week before launch.  I’ll update it if I learn more or if things change.

As you level, you’ll earn reputation with many of the available factions through the questing that you do.  Once you reach the level cap there will be a large number of repeatable quests with most factions to grind out rep.  Interestingly, none of the factions require you to reach Exalted to buy their armor.  You get the rare (blue quality) items at Honored, and then the epic (purple) items at Revered.  The reason to get to Exalted is for vanity gear like mounts.

Also keep in mind that you no longer earn reputation by wearing a tabard in dungeon runs.  In MoP, its all questing and dailies.

Here’s a rundown on what you’ll look for.

The Klaxxi

This faction is found in the Dread Wastes.  It provides a blue quality wrist item that you can get at HonoredCruel Mercy Bracers , a blue quality one-handed mace at Revered – Amber Sledge of Klaxi’vass -and a purple neck item at Revered – the Choker of the Klaxxi’va as well as a purple waist slot item, the Klaxxi Lash of the Borrower and a purple leg slot, the Dreadsworn Slayer Legs. It also has a lot of blacksmithing plans and a scorpion mount at exalted.  Oddly, there is also a blue quality dagger at Exalted – the Amber Slicer of Klaxxi’vess.

Golden Lotus

Located in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.  From this group you can get a blue quality neck item at HonoredAmulet of Swirling Mists and a blue quality hand slot at HonoredSurehand Grips.  There is a mastery trinket at Honored also with an interesting ability (PvP?) – Mogu Rune of Paralysis.  They have a lot of leatherworking and tailoring patterns at Honored as well.  At Revered you can get an epic ring – Anji’s Keepsake, epic boots – Softfoot Silentwrap – and an epic shoulder – Imperion Spaulders.

You need to get to Revered with Golden Lotus to start dailies with the August Celestials and Shado-Pan.

The August Celestials

This group has a lot of stuff.  You’ll find their quest hub in the Krasarang Wilds, but you unlock them by getting to a certain rep with the Golden Lotus.  At Honored you can get a blue cloak (Bladesong Cloak) and a blue quality chest (Refurbished Zandalari Vestment).  At Revered you will find the purple Fingers of the Loneliest Monk for your hand slot, Tukka Tuk’s Hairy Boots for your feet, and Quillpaw Family Bracers for your wrist.  There are three enchanting recipes at Revered, and two mounts plus a tailoring recipe (28 slot bag!) at Exalted.


This faction – found in the Townlong Steppes and another follow-up after the Golden Lotus – has a few good rogue items.  At Honored you can buy the blue quality Mark of the Dancing Crane for your finger slot or the Tough Mushanhide Leggings for your legs.  Once you hit revered you have access to the epic Blackguard Cape, Red Smoke Bandana for your head, and Hawkmaster’s Talon trinket (look at all that agility!).  Plus they have some enchanting recipes and mounts.



Here are the reputation items available for the various slots:

Note the general lack of daggers and swords.  Other than quest rewards, you’ll have to run instances to find those, or watch the auction house and be prepared to pay big-time gold for the few BoE weapons around.

There are an absolute ton of daily quests for these factions that open up at level 90.  Blizzard has removed the cap on the number of daily quests you can do each day, so be prepared to get to work.


Rogue Challenge Mode Gear

I really like what Blizzard is doing with Challenge Modes.

Any time they implement a new feature, they have to find a suitable reward to make people want to play with that feature.  The Challenge Mode rewards are very creative.  Finishing with a Bronze gets you a title.  Finishing with Silver gets you a mount, and finishing with Gold gets gear.

The gear that you get has no stats, so you don’t use them as part of the gearing-up process.  They are strictly cosmetic and used to transmog your existing gear.  The pieces have interesting visual procs that go off during combat.  This makes them very desirable because they are attention-grabbing, but they do not disrupt game balance.

Here is a video.  You’ll see two procs – one from the dragon shoulders, and a smoke effect during combat.

Very cool!  Blizzard thinks that gold will be hard to get, so if you manage to obtain that gear you will really stand out from the crowd.


Plans for Mists

One of the truly great things about WoW is the way that this game can be enjoyed by vastly different players.  Raiders, altoholics, pvp lovers, achievement chasers, and gold goblins all have a niche.

Case in point – the well-known blogger Matticus is working on his leveling speed in beta.  He got to level 86 in 3.5 hours of gaming (wow!), and is pretty sure that he can cut his time down.  Clearly, his goal is to zip through the leveling content and get straight to endgame.

I point this out not to make a criticism of Matticus, but just to show him as a counterpoint to my own plans.  I plan to enjoy leveling.  Raids will still be there if I start them next week or two months from now.  I’m not gunning for any firsts (as if I could while playing on the same realm as Premonition).  I feel like the story that is told in the leveling and questing process needs to be savored.  This content is going to last us two years so I don’t feel a need need to fly through it.

In addition, I do a lot of crafting.  Depending on drop rates, auction house prices, and the availability of mats I may need to play my crafter toons to get the raw materials I need.  I doubt I will focus on my main 100% for the first week or two.  I originally thought that I would be forced to play my crafting alts a lot to get Spirit of Harmony.  However, the number of recipes that require this reagent has dropped tremendously, so its now more optional than mandatory (except for Darkmoon Cards).

My plan:

  • Tuesday I don’t expect much, since servers are typically finicky on release day.  I originally considered trying to get a realm first in inscription, but I no longer feel like taking the day off from work to sit by my computer waiting for server troubles to clear up.
  • Wednesday I am off from work, so I should be able to play all day.  I will work on my main a bit, but probably spend more time crafting/selling monk glyphs and bags and leveling professions.
  • On the weekend I will have nothing to do but play, so I should be able to make progress leveling my main.  The initial glyph and bag rush will be slowing down, and there will be a lot of people online which means a lot of raw materials on the auction house.  Also, players will be hitting the level cap which creates a need for enchants and other gear enhancements.  I should be able to make some serious gold.  Also, I hope that my wife will be able to play, so I will do some leveling with her on one of my toons.

In Cataclysm you had to level up in order to max your professions.  It looks like leveling professions is much easier in Mists, and I think I level all the way to max skill level at level 80.  It will take a lot of gold if I’m not gathering my own raw materials, but that’s an acceptable cost of business.

I expect that by the end of the first week, my main will be at 86 or 87, and one of my alts will be at 86 from playing with my wife.  I hope that my professions – at least inscription and jewelcrafting – are at or near maxed and I am doing some auction house sales.

Raids?  Heroics?  Challenge modes?  I am excited about them, but I’ll get to them soon enough.  For now, I can read Matticus’ blog to hear about them.


Theramore Scenario and lack of pre-launch event

I ran the Theramore scenario last night on two characters.  It was a nice little distraction.  It was quick, taking only about 20 minutes or so.  When I queued alone I had to wait about 8-10 minutes for a group.

When I went in on my rogue, I was in a group with another rogue and a druid.  Since all three had stealth we were able to quickly move about and avoid some fights to complete the objectives efficiently.  The druid died once, but neither rogue got below 50% health.

The scenario doesn’t require a tank or healer.  The enemies don’t hit very hard, so you can take on a small group without concern.  If you do happen to pull multiple groups then you could get overwhelmed without a healer, so pull carefully.  I made sure to keep Recuperate running since we didn’t have a healer and I was taking some damage on group pulls.

I expect this to get a little harder when it is tuned for level 90.  Right now, all three of us in the scenario outgeared it significantly.  At level 90 without raid gear we’ll have to be more careful.

When I ran it on my druid it was a little slower but easier.  Having a healer made it simple.

When Blizzard first advertised these scenarios, they said that they wanted to be creative with the encounter design and try to avoid simple tank-and-spank fights.  However, that’s pretty much what this turned into.  One boss did have a ground-target mechanic that had to be avoided, but mostly it was all-out-dps to burn them down.  I didn’t see any real innovation.


That said, if this is a substitute for a pre-launch event I’ll be sorely disappointed.  I’m not usually one to call out Blizzard on things that I don’t like.  I’m aware that each player has their own preferences and you can’t make all the people happy all the time.  However, Blizzard has set the precedent themselves.

Before the first expansion (the Burning Crusade), the Dark Portal opened in the Blasted Lands.  It was a simple event, where demons would stream out of the portal.  There were a couple of quick quests with it.  It was not involved, yet it was immersive.  Also, it was huge amounts of fun.  Having hundreds of players – most who flagged themselves for PvP – in one place was a blast.  It set the stage for the upcoming expansion and created some excitement.

Before the second expansion (Wrath of the Lich King) there was a much more involved event – the zombie invasion.  This event, where players could be infected and turned into zombies, had a gradual rollout and multiple phases.  It also had a lot of detractors who felt that it interfered with regular gameplay.  This event must have taken a lot of time and effort on Blizzard’s part, and it had mixed reviews.

Before the third expansion (Cataclysm) there was an elemental invasion choregraphed by the Twilight’s Hammer cult.  This was optional (unlike the zombie invasion) and had multiple parts, including elemental boss fights in you elected to do that.  It took place in capital cities, but you could avoid the cities if you didn’t want to participate.

What made these events so iconic is that they were (1) related to the upcoming story, (2) in your face, and (3) gave us something to do.

By making them related to the story, they prepped the players for what was coming.  They gave them some motivation and buy-in for the lore that is about to be presented.  They built anticipation.  By pushing it in the face of everyone, it was unavoidable.  It wasn’t something that people could simply ignore or, even worse, be unaware of.  Giving us something to do was the most important part, as most of us were struggling to find a reason to log on.

The Theramore event fails on these, in my eyes.

It is related to the upcoming story, in a way.  However, I think most of us are more interested in the Pandaren right now rather than the horde-vs-alliance conflict.  Horde vs-alliance is old news, while the Pandaren is new and interesting.  I’d rather see an event that introduces us to the new race.

Even worse is that this is not noticeable in game.  You have to queue for it.  There isn’t a town crier in Stormwind lamenting the destruction of Theramore.  If you don’t actively queue up for it, its like it hasn’t happened.  This is a big mistake.

Finally, it doesn’t really give us much to do.  Its a 20 minute distraction with no replayability.  It wasn’t even that immersive.  I couldn’t name one of the bosses I killed.  They were generic.

We still have a week until launch.  Perhaps Blizzard has something up their sleeves.  If not, though, then they have no one to blame but themselves for the discontent.



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.


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)
September 2012
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