Archive for January, 2010

Shamanistic Rage and a Call to Arms

Stormshaper reached level 50 thanks to quests in Searing Gorge and Ashzara. As her primary talent tree is Enhancement, she was finally able to select Shamanistic Rage. This is a great talent for Enhancement Shamans, instant cast, it reduces all damage taken by 30% and gives your successful melee attacks a chance to regenerate mana equal to 15% of your attack power. Oh, and you can cast it while you’re stunned too.

What’s not to like?

Upon reaching level 50, various NPC’s in the capital cities will present you with the quest “A Call To Arms”. In Azeroth’s past, this was the end game zone. Now, it is the final zone before you pass through the Dark Portal and set foot upon the alien world of Daenor.

Plaguelands is the hub of the scourge invasion. A once beautiful land, now destroyed and barren. Towns, villages and cities lie in ruins. The whole area is infested by scores of ghouls, hideous undead, vile abominations and demonic litches.

Small parts of the Plaguelands are defended stoutly by the Argent Crusade, and the more extremist Scarlet Crusade. Home to Scholomance and the burning city of Stratholme and once the home of the dread citadel of Naxxramas, Plaguelands will be a real test of Stormshaper’s shamanistic talents.

Before then though, a Shaman quest called Stormshaper to a small ruin just outside Tarren Mill. There, a friendly Troll needs a spirit totem, so the spiders and bears of the Plaguelands will be picked off first.

Wish me luck in this plague-riddled land.

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Random Dungeon Finder?

Stormshaper is now level 46. As well as tying up loose quest chains (Southshore, Arathi Highlands, Duskwallow Marsh), she is now questing in Searing Gorge.

In between questing, I’m using the Random Dungeon Finder, which isn’t quite as random as it seems. Five times on the bounce yesterday I was plunged into a pool inside Maraudon. Five times we killed Princess Theradras, and five times we killed the giant crocodile. Oh, and as a reward, I received five pairs of mail boots via the satchel of helpful goods!

Today, I’m hoping the random number generator is a bit kinder and throws me into Zul’Farrak, or even another part of the Maraudon complex. Just not the same place continually, over, and over, and over.

In terms of performance, I was in there with a level 48 mage and a level 48 hunter at various times, and the DPS Stormshaper threw out was significantly better than their DPS. I thought it might have been down to the BoA gear which does give a boost, but then I noticed the mage had BoA robes, shoulders, staff and a trinket. The hunter came with a BoA bow and chest piece, so I’m not too sure why I should be significantly higher DPS than players two levels above me.

I picked up a couple of items from Princess Theradras via high rolls. One is okay, the other is not optimal for a Shaman; Gemshard Heart can be used I suppose, but with the spirit on it, it makes it more a healer/shadow priest item rather than shaman specific. The Blackstone Ring is decent though. A nice attack power boost, stamina increase and significant (at this level) hit rating too.

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Unleashed Rage and Lava Lash

Tidying up a few loose quests, and doing my first run in Zul’Aman saw Stormshaper reach level 45. At this point, I have added talent points in Unleashed Rage and Lava Lash and I’m going to discuss these talents in this point.

Unleashed Rage is a very handy talent to have, both for yourself and for any raid party you find yourself in. It increases your expertise at all times, and boosts the attack power of all nearby party members whenever the shaman has a critical hit. At the moment, I have two points in Unleashed Rage, and I aim to maximise it as soon as I reach the next level.

Unleashed Rage gives 1 expertise and 4% attack power increase at level 1. At level 2 expertise is increased to 6 and attack power is increased by 7% and at level 3, expertise is increased to 9 and attack power is increased by a massive 10%.

At higher end raiding, this buff will not stack with a Death Knight’s Abomination’s Strength buff, or with a Hunter’s Trueshot Aura, but for levelling up, you should be welcomed heartily by any party you find yourself in because your fellow members are going to benefit significantly each time you have a critical strike.

Lava Lash is a relatively new talent that was added in patch 3.0.2. It requires 36 points in the Enhancement Tree before the Shaman can learn it. The tooltip says that it instantly deals 100% of off-hand weapon damage. Damage is increased by 25% if the weapon is enchanted with Flametongue.

Reading the tooltip, this means that my offhand (currently a dagger) really needs to be a slower weapon (an axe or a mace) and that weapon will need to be imbued with Flametongue Weapon at all times to get the 25% damage increase. That means that Lava Lash will grant me 125% weapon damage straight off the bat, which is not to be sniffed at.

The cost of Lava Lash is 4% of base mana (not the mana you have when you use Lava Lash, your total base mana), so it could be quite mana-intensive. However, it does have a six second cooldown, so in the shorter boss fights encountered while levelling up, you might get one, or maybe two Lava Lash strikes off before the boss dies, which might not be so bad.

I’m queued for Maraudon, so we’ll see how it goes in there. I’ll also have to work out a rotation to include Lava Lash as and when it’s available.

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Talent Trees

So, a Shaman is a hybrid class. That means that they can be a jack of all trades. They can melee DPS, they can be caster DPS, they can heal, they bring buffs to the raid and they can interrupt like mad. They are a good all rounder.

According to WoWWiki, it was the class designer’s stated intent that Enhancement would be the levelling tree for the Shaman class. As the class designer knows far more about the class than I ever will, I decided that would be good enough for me, and I put my talent points into Enhancement as soon as I reached level 10.

Utilising the talents in this tree significantly boosts your damage output. Over the levelling period, as I gained more and more totems to assist me, I could take on mobs of three and four at a time without any difficulty at all. The amount of damage being thrown out by the shaman was amazing.

Up to level 40, I carried a 1H mace and a shield. I never bothered buying a shield at any level, I would basically use any green items that dropped or were rewarded for completing quests. The dropped/reward items were more than adequate for my levelling needs. I decided that as soon as I reached level 40, I would learn dual wield and go with two Bind on Account weapons from this point onward.

The Bind on Account weapons I went with are the 1 handed mace Venerable Mace of McGowan and the Balanced Heartseeker dagger.

Shamans learn temporary weapon enchants as they level up through the ranks towards 80. Your initial temporary enchant is Rockbiter weapon which is a straight DPS increase. Different forms of these elemental enchants become available over time offering various enhancements. Flametongue weapon, Windfury Weapon, Frostbrand Weapon and so on.

On the mace I went with Windfury Weapon as the mace has a significantly slower speed than the dagger which was imbued with Flametongue weapon.

As the Shaman’s weapon enchants are temporary they stack with permanent weapon enchants such as Crusader or Mongoose, and their procs can trigger the permanent weapon enchant too. On the 1H mace, I have enchanted it with Crusader. The dagger has an agility enchant on it which is a useful statistic for melee classes.

You should be aware that Bind On Account weapons have an item level of 1 regardless of what level your character is, so enchants like Mongoose that require a minimum weapon level cannot be applied to them.

So, with my dual wield talent in place, my talent tree looks like this: WoWhead Talent Calculator

The next couple of levels I’ll add to Unleashed Rage and gain the Lava Lash talent. These appear to offer me and any raid I’m in a few nice attacking buffs.

I’ve got to get some weapons that are more attuned to a Shaman. The BoA weapons I have are fine and serve me well, but I want to get a couple of Shaman-specific weapons to see if I can utilise the temporary weapon enchants, and get a better knowledge of their mechanic.

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Tradeskills

When I decided I wanted to create a shaman, I was aware of the the Draenei gemcutting racial bonus which increases Jewelcrafting by five. As I don’t have a jewelcrafter on any of my characters, I decided to take advantage of that free racial and a jewelcrafter she became. To go along with Jewelcrafting I picked Mining as the gathering skill, and to be honest, I am glad I did because the Draenei starter areas are flush with copper and tin nodes. Really, it became a joke, I had mined so much copper from Azuremyst Isle and Bloodmyst Isle that I was overwhelmed. I sent over 1000 copper ore to my bank character to store because I simply had no more space for the amount of ore there is on those islands. Tin was less common, but I still managed to mine about 50 tin ore before leaving the isles.

When I got on the boat to Darkshore, I’d hit 100 in Jewelcrafting and mining without even trying. If you are rolling a Draenei character, consider mining as a gathering skill because there really are so many nodes available to you, you can get a good financial boost by the time you decide to visit Kalimdor or Azeroth.

So, what can a Shaman get from jewelcrafting and mining?

Well, mining gives you a rather nice passive “Toughness” buff which increases your stamina slightly. Currently my shaman has level two toughness which gives her five extra points in stamina. This might not seem much, but it isn’t to be sniffed at while you are levelling. Each point in stamina is equal to ten points of health, so my shaman gains 50 extra health permanently just because I mine ores as and when I see them.

Jewelcrafting allows me to craft my own necklaces and rings. I can also prospect ores and find gems within. However this consumes five ores at a time, so can be quite costly in terms of ores, especially when you move away from common ores like Copper and Tin and head towards rarer ores such as Mithrill and Thorium.

The objects I’ve crafted for my shaman are as follows:

Inlaid Malachite Ring
Simple Pearl Ring
Malachite Pendant
Brilliant Necklace
Bronze Band Of Force

I tried to craft items that would give me stamina and agility which at low level would increase my critical strike rate somewhat. I’ve tried to keep to agility/stamina/intellect in most of my gear choices as these I feel, will benefit the Shaman most. Most of the other items I have crafted I’ve either sold off, or sent across to my Warlock to disenchant because low level enchant materials go for much more than the items themselves.

So there we go. Reasonable Jewelcrafting experience, nice Toughness boost. Now I’m going to finish up a few low level quests around Theramore before going back to Southshore and picking up from there. I don’t like to leave loose-ends lying about. Over and out.

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Welcome

Okay, my name is Stormshaper, and I am a Draenei Shaman who plays on the Darkmoon Faire (EU) server. I started this weblog because I wanted to document the process of playing a class up to end game raiding.

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for a few years now, and have a number of “main” characters who are currently raiding end game instances. My hunter is currently trying to take down Algalon on 10-man in Ulduar. If this comes off, it will be a server first. Yay! Go team! Go Hunter!

I also have a Death Knight, who’s cleared Naxxramas, and is currently clearing Ulduar, but is on a hiatus. Basically, Death Knights are a lot of fun to play, really a lot of fun to play, but they’re played (badly) by some of the biggest idiots in the game, and so their reputation is in the toilet. They have, to a large extent, superceded the Hunter as the class to hate. No doubt this will change when Cataclysm is released and I’m guessing Worgen Rogue and Goblin <anything> will take that mantle.

So, with a Hunter and a Death Knight at maximum level, I thought it would make a change to play a class that people actually want in their raids.

To that end, I rolled a Warlock, bought him some Bind on Account gear and facerolled my way through Azeroth and Outlands, all the way to Northrend. Now, the Warlock is a decent class to play and it brings a few nice buffs to your raid. When you’re soloing content, you get your own tank to take all the aggro, shield yourself and DoT the enemies down. Nice and simple.

The Warlock also hit 80 soon enough, but he’s not end-game raiding, and to be honest, I don’t think he ever will. I simply don’t have the dedication to the class to optimize him because I don’t get enough enjoyment out of it. The class has too many things in common with hunters for my liking.  For example, you get a pet who holds your mob up and you destroy it from ranged distance. The hunter needs ammo, the warlock needs soul shards. The hunter can change aspect into Viper and regen mana. The warlock can use his own life force to increase his mana.

Away from the esthetics, there’s not enough difference between the classes (for me).

The Death Knight is a completely different animal.

A plate-wearing, melee spellcaster. What’s not to like? I had a total buzz playing the Death Knight. I was one of the lucky ones who rolled a Death Knight on the first night WoTLK was released, and I facerolled my way across Outlands and Northrend in no time at all thanks to the amazing overpoweredness of the class when it was first released.

Playing the Death Knight was a complete revelation. Mobs that posed enormous difficulty to my Hunter simply got smashed to pieces by the Death Knight. I think I died four, maybe five times going from 55 to 80. Seriously. Self healing as I killed, able to take allkinds of damage and mitigate thanks to the plate I was wearing and talents such as Anti-Magic Shield. Disease-based DoTs and an ability to spread disease as I melee’d mobs, the Death Knight was so much fun for such a long time.

However, as with most things in World of Warcraft, the popularity of the Death Knight quickly became its downfall. All you needed to do was level a character to 55 and then you could start a Death Knight. It was conceivable that you could actually level a Death Knight to 80 without actually doing any kind of raiding at all. You could solo so much content, level so fast that you could be in Northrend and ready to step into Utgarde Keep in just a few days.

With such a temptation on offer, many players did just that. Which is why so many Death Knights simply have no clue about raiding at all. As soon as they leave their starter zone they’re facerolling the Hellfire Ramparts instances, honing all their bad habits and racing towards Northrend.

I enjoyed the Death Knight so much, I thought I’d try the nearest class to the Death Knight that I could find, and as a result, I chose the Shaman, and this is where this weblog starts.

There are Shaman weblogs out there. Just as there are weblogs out there for every other class. However, I purposely steered clear of all these resources because I wanted to find out about the Shaman from scratch, just as I did with my Hunter. I wanted to study the talents to see what they gave me as I progressed. I wanted to look at the different specs available and see what I fancied.
So that’s what I did.

The only concession I made was to buy my shaman some Bind on Account gear for her. Once I rolled her and completed the starter zone quests, I mailed her the BoA gear and then proceeded to do as many quests as I could in Azuremist Isle and Bloodmist Isle. I stuck at the quests, followed the quest line to its conclusion and surprisingly earned myself a Tabard of the Hand for my endevours.

Now, after two weeks of playing my Shaman off and on (while holding down a job, a family and of course doing my end-game raiding) I find that she’s level 40 and this is where my story starts.

Anyone can level a shaman from 1-40. It doesn’t take much really. I did it pretty much part-time. All you need to do is follow quest chains to their logical conclusion and do all the quests you can find in a zone before moving to the next one and eventually you will hit the 40 mark.

The path my Shaman took to level 40 was as follows:

  • Draenei Starter Zone
  • Azurmist Isle
  • Bloodmist Isle
  • Darkshore
  • Redridge Mountains
  • Darkshire
  • Wetlands/Arathi Basin
  • Southshore
  • Menethil Harbour
  • Theramore Isle
  • Dustwallow Marsh

Right now, I’m finishing up some quests in Dustwallow Marsh and some more in Southshore. When they are done, I should be around level 42-43 and ready to step into the Hinterlands and/or Swamp of Sorrows and Blasted Lands, where she’ll stay until she’s ready to step through the Dark Portal and into Outlands. I don’t want this character to head back to Kalimdor, however, if she gets a chance to run Maraudon in the Random Dungeon Finder, I’ll of course take her there, although she’ll have no quests to complete in there. It will be a run for completeness more than anything else.

So, why start a blog at 40?

Well, in the new World of Warcraft, level 40 is the new level 60, so to speak.

At level 40, I have the ability to buy a fast ground mount which gives me the chance to cover a lot of ground quickly and of course level faster. No more running around until level 30 then buying a slow mount with all your savings as it used to be. At level 40 I’ve also run through 40 levels to familiarise myself with the basic mechanics of my class. Right now, I’m “okay” at playing a Shaman. I’m at the midpoint of the levelling process and there are some interesting quests ahead of me.

So that’s the first post on this weblog. Over and out.

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