Archive for the 'Raiding' Category



12
Mar
13

Rogues in patch 5.2

How patch 5.2 going for everyone?

This is my busiest time of year in my life outside the game.  My son’s baseball season is in full swing.  My work responsibilities are more significant in this part of the year than during other seasons.  I can barely find time to sit at my desk at home.

I’ve logged on enough to do the Isle of Thunder dailies once and have two nights of raiding in MSV and HoF.  That’s all the time I’ve spent in WoW so far since the patch.  I had to figure out a lot of changes by trial and error since I have not had time to keep up with them.

Right away in MSV, I noticed that my Combat spec did less damage than normal on Stone Guard.  That’s because of the change to Blade Flurry in the patch.  It now hits for less damage, but affects more targets.  On Stone Guard, when you’re hitting two or three dogs, you’re not getting the most out of Blade Flurry.  Damage is good, but not as spectacular as it once was.

I also noticed that my single target damage in Assassination spec was a little higher, but not much.  Assassination got buffed a bit in the patch.  I hear that Subtlety got a small buff as well.  I expect Blizzard to keep giving us small buffs until more people play rogues.  For those of us who still play our rogue mains, it just makes us that much more awesome.  However, I will also note that I wasn’t as far ahead on the damage meters as I usually am on some MSV fights, like Elegon.  I suspect that other classes got buffed as well, and maybe more than we did.

I was really surprised when I went to use Ambush as an opener and I teleported to directly behind the target without using Shadowstep.  That’s when I remembered that there were talent changes in the patch.  Preparation was removed as a talent, and now all rogues have it as a baseline ability at level 68.  Instead they added Cloak and Dagger in Prep’s old spot on the talent tree.  It works like Shadowstep built into your stealthed openers.  It essentially gives your openers a 30 yard range.

A change that I noticed while I was fighting Elegon was for Cloak of Shadows.  It now has a shorter cooldown (1 minute), but its no longer reset by Preparation.  That surprised me.  I usually use Cloak-Prep-Cloak to mitigate damage at the end of the fight when we’re burning Elegon down.  Didn’t work this time.

I was, as usual, dismayed when our raid got to Will of the Emperor.  I don’t like that fight.  At some point in that fight, I always end up far from my target with Vanish and Sprint on cooldown.  This time I specced into Shuriken Toss.  This gave combo points and also made my autoattacks into ranged shuriken throws.  I don’t think it was very effective, but it was fun.

Also on the Will of the Emperor fight, when we all grouped up to AoE heal through the Titan Gas phases, I threw down my Smoke Bomb.  It was just given a new ability – reducing incoming damage by 20% on everyone in its range.  I have a defensive raid cooldown!  That felt good.

There’s another talent change that I tried.  Versatility was removed as a top-tier talent and replaced with Marked for Death.  This gives 5 combo points to start with on the fight, so its much like the Premeditation ability on steroids.  A major difference is that when your target dies, Marked for Death resets.  That makes this good for burst damage in target-switching situations, since you can start with 5 CP on each new target.  Its not useful on most boss fight in PvE, but good in fights with a lot of adds that need to be bursted down.  That said, I tried to use it on Garalon’s legs, and the cooldown never reset when a leg died.  Is it because the legs don’t really “die”?  Is this a bug?  (not Garalon himself, but the lack of cooldown reset).

Most of the changes were not very noteworthy, although a lot of rogues are affected by the alterations to the talent tree.  The Smoke Bomb change is nice – I wonder how long it will take everyone to realize that it is there, so that raid leaders call for it at times of high incoming damage.

11
Mar
13

Trash – thumbs up or thumbs down?

Trash_heapA trend that has been taking over WoW since its creation is optimization and efficiency.  We want to find an optimal talent build, optimized reforging, and optimal gear.  We want to find the most efficient gearing path to get us through our raids as efficiently as possible.  In the early days of WoW, this was an ongoing process.  Now, with online tools, optimizing is just a few clicks away.

How much does the game benefit or suffer from this?

This tendency toward optimization has been adopted throughout WoW by Blizzard.  They call it “quality of life” improvements, and they are changes put in to make the game play more smoothly and with fewer frustrations.  Some are awesome, but others can oversimplify the game and (in the minds of some) de-emphasize things that once made the game fun.

What does this have to do with trash (the title of the post)?

This all came to mind when I was reading some other blog posts about trash mobs in raids.  The posts in question had complained about trash pulls in MoP raids.  That got me reminiscing.  Skipping past raiding in vanilla WoW, which everyone agrees was over-the-top, I used to enjoy trash pulls.  As time has gone one, it seems like a lot of people would prefer to get rid of trash.  That, to me, is just another aspect of the optimization trend.  Trash doesn’t drop epics or get you an achievement, so any time spent on trash is time not spent on progression and therefore it is undesirable.  Blizzard has followed these desires by changing trash in raids over time.

Burning Crusade

Karazhan trash was really fun and challenging.  The way the respawn rate on the ghosts before Attumen pushed you to pull quickly.  The mix of elites and non-elites in the packs of dancers before Moroes.  The ghosts that could almost one-shot a careless tank in the hallways outside Nightbane’s area.  The pairs of trash mobs that were immune to CC and would freeze the tank in the hall before Opera.  Exploding ghosts.  Mana drains.  Sometimes a trash pull took as much strategy as a boss fight.  Those were great.  However, they did take a long time.  You couldn’t just nuke them down the way trash is usually done now.  This was in the tail end of the age when raiding was still though of as something for the elite players, although Karazhan did a lot to overcome that mindset.

Later BC raids had a lot of trash (not counting the shorter Gruul and Magtheridon raids), often very challenging and time consuming.  Upper tier raids like Black Temple, Hyjal Summit, and Sunwell were generally only for dedicated raiders, though, and time-intensive trash was considered just an unpleasant part of the raiding process.

Wrath of the Lich King

The raiding model changed a lot during Wrath of the Lich King.  This is when Blizzard took steps to make raiding accessible to all.

Trash in Naxxramas (v.2, in WotLK) was not terribly challenging, although early in the gearing process it could slow you down.  It wasn’t so hard that it was a roadblock, but it took some time and pulls had to be planned.    There was less of it than in Karazhan, and some of the trash packs had unique abilities (I hated the Dark-Touched Warrior in the construct quarter).  It almost seems like the trash was there in quantity similar to prior raids, but undertuned to make it less of an obstacle.

Ulduar – considered by some to be the best raid Blizzard has ever made – had much smaller amounts of trash.  Most trash pulls between bosses were short (except before Freya).  They introduced unique mechanics like the vehicle combat before Flame Leviathan.  Typically, though, there were only 2-3 trash pulls between each boss encounter.  This is less than Naxxramas had and much less than the BC raids.  Ulduar’s boss fights are memorable, but most of the trash is not.

This push for efficiency came to a head in WotLK’s Trial of the Crusader raid, which was all bosses, no trash.  Not only was this a total departure from previous raid models, it also fit very poorly into the storyline (in the middle of a war with the Lich King’s army, lets have a tournament!).  It was received very poorly overall.  So there is a point where too little trash bothers us.

Icecrown Citadel moved back toward Ulduar’s model – a couple of trash packs between each boss.  One aspect I liked about trash in ICC’s was that it sometimes helped prepare you for the boss’ abilities.  In some cases, the trash mobs before a boss would have abilities that mirrored those the boss would use.  This is the concept that Blizzard seemed to like.

Cataclysm

Bastion of Twilight had some interesting trash.   There were a few pitfalls for the unwary if you took them lightly.  That was fun.  There were some areas where the trash was plentiful – at the start of the raid and before Twilight Council and even before Cho’gall.  Most of it was just AoE nuking, though.  In contrast, Blackwing Descent had almost no trash, but Blizzard pulled it off better than they had in previous raids with little trash.

Firelands followed the Bastion of Twilight model, where there were lots of trash pulls, but they were not terribly difficult.  This frustrated some people.  I remember a lot of complaints about all the trash pulls before you could even engage the first boss of the raid.

Cataclysm eventually introduced the Raid Finder, which (in my opinion) was the death knell for interesting trash.  Since you never know what type of player you’re going to get in the random group, the developers can’t expect a raid to have coordination, concentrated dps, or viable crowd control.  Thus, raid trash is now dull and uninteresting.    [As an aside. the trend away from CC had already happened in 5-mans due to the Dungeon Finder.]

In Dragon Soul, the groups before Morchok were just group AoE.  The tentacles before Zon’ozz were easy.  The only trash that carried any kind of unique challenge in DS were the slime packs before Yor’sahj and, for groups with low dps, the dragonlings before Ultraxion.  On top of that, after Ultraxion, there was no trash at all between Ultraxion, Warmaster Blackhorn, Spine, and Madness.

Mists of Pandaria

I’ve only personally done Mogu’shan Vaults and the first boss of Heart of Fear.  MSV trash seems almost like an afterthought.  The AoE trash packs before Stone Guard, the packs of trolls before Gara’jal, then the groups before Spirit Kings are all non-events, there to be nuked down.  Only the last pulls before Elegon have any risk to them.  They seem to be there just because they are expected, not because there is any development behind the trash encounters.

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My personal opinion is that I liked the trash in Karazhan and in ICC.  The Karazhan trash was interesting and varied.  I’d rather do that than nameless mass AOE trash.  In ICC the trash mobs were not as plentiful but had a definite connection to the boss that followed them.  At times they seemed like part of the story.

What do you like?  The extensive, challenging trash in Karazhan and BC raids?  The plentiful but easy trash in Bastion and Firelands?  The non-existent trash in Trial of the Crusader?

04
Mar
13

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.

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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.

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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.

31
Jan
13

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.

18
Dec
12

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.

22
Nov
12

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.

10
Sep
12

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.




Armory

Dinaer - 96 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 91 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 91 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 100 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
April 2015
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