Archive for Gear

Completing the Jigsaw

With Stormshaper equipped extensively in Tier 9 DPS gear it is becoming increasingly difficult for her to get gear from the 5 man heroic dungeons. To this end, I’ve been using Rawr and Wowhead’s Item Comparison tool to try and plan out what items Stormshaper can get from 5 man heroic dungeons and/or emblems (note not Emblems of Frost) from those instances.

The table below shows the best items that are still available to her.

Neck Ancient Pendant of Arathor from Heroic Trial of the Crusader.
Back Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak which is purchasable with 25 Emblems of Conquest.
Wrists Essence of Suffering from heroic Forge of Souls.
Feet Treads of Dismal Fortune. (These are leather rather than mail, but they give outstanding DPS for Stormshaper). She can also equip Spiked Toestompers, but with Armour Penetration, these are geared more specifically for a hunter.
Finger Band of Stained Souls. There are Ashen Verdict rings available if I want to grind out that reputation killling endless trash mobs in Icecrown Citadel, or there are Kirin Tor rings available if I want to spend thousands of gold. Seeing as I want to do neither of these tasks, the Band of Stained Souls is the best option.
Finger Dexterous Brightstone Ring purchasable with 35 Emblems of Triumph.
Trinket Needle Encrusted Scorpion from Heroic Forge of Souls.
Weapon Black Icicle or another Nighttime

The Needle Encrusted Scorpion entry is a mystifying entry in the trinket table as it’s aimed more towards armed warriors, druids and marksman hunters who really benefit from the armour penetration buff. Enhancement shamans don’t get any benefit from armour penetration so there’s no real reason for Rawr to rate it so highly. I’m going to run a few simulations with it using Enhsim to see what it gives to the baseline DPS predicted by the simulator.

However it goes without saying that if you are fortunate enough to win the trinket, the critical strike buff it gives you isn’t going to do your performance any harm.


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The Shock of the Lightning

Stormshaper is pretty well geared now. A couple of weeks of doing heroics – not farming heroics – just doing them on an “as time permits” basis has been enough for her to get four pieces of Tier 9 shaman armour. Of course, there have been a few choice issues with rude players, incompetent players, rude incompetent players and so on, but if I am honest, I’ll say that only about 40% of the dungeon runs she’s been on have been negative. Overall, not a bad percentage, all things considered.

Late last night, Stormshaper completed 140 quests in Icecrown, which means she got the zone achievement, and as I’ve done previously, I’ve moved zones, so she’s in the Storm Peaks now, doing the starter quests there, which will ultimately lead to the Sons of Hodir reputation grind. Not something I’m looking forward to, but a necessity due to the shoulder enchants that they have available from their quartermaster.

Quite why Blizzard haven’t retro-fitted a tabard for these giant dwarves (there’s an oxymoron) is beyond me. They have, in the shoulder enchants, something that every player wants. I know you can farm the relics of ulduar, and buy honour with badges, but a tabard would have put an end to one of the most tedious reputation grinds since the original Wintersaber faction grind in Winterspring.

As Stormshaper needs nothing from the 5 man dungeon runs, I’ve adapted her dungeon finding a little bit. I know that I’ll get badges from completing dungeons whatever happens, so I’m now purposely selecting the 5 man instances that were added after WoTLK came out, so that means Trial of the Crusader, Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection. Trial of the Crusader I’m doing in heroic mode only, the others are normal and heroic, because there are items available in both versions of the dungeons that Stormshaper can use. Just today, for example, this dropped for her, on only her second run in Forge of Souls.

Having recently equipped two Ironforge Smasher’s this is a magnificent DPS upgrade and I’m hoping to reap the benefits when she steps into Halls of Reflection for the first time next week.

In the meantime she’ll continue doing the 5 man runs until she can equip either another Nighttime or, if she’s lucky, a Black Icicle!

I put the Berserking enchant (500g – ouch) on her new axe as soon as I left the instance. It looks sick!

Now – Berserking. I decided that once Stormshaper had equipped two epic items of level 200 or higher I would enchant both her weapons with Berserking. This enchant is beastly for melee DPS. When it procs, which is often, it increases your attack power by 400. The trade off is reduced armour, but shamans can self-heal so this isn’t too much of an issue. Besides, by the time you’ve unleashed on your target, they’re not going to cause you too much damage. Remember this is on both of her weapons, and yes, the enchant will stack if both weapons trigger the berserking proc!!

To try out the enchant when Stormshaper had her two Ironforge Smashers equipped, I ran her around Jotunheim, doing the “Leave Our Mark” Ebon Blade daily quest where you plant 15 banners in slain Vykrul. Seriously, they were lining up in front of her, getting halfway through their smack-talk and then dying at Stormshaper’s feet. “I’ll eat your face” – smack/unleashed rage/smack/berserking/smack/Dargon’s Blood/smack/gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

I’ll take her through there later on to see what Nighttime brings to that particular party.

In other news, Stormshaper has moved into a mature guild, finally. A guild that has been around on the server for over three years. This is brilliant news. A mature guild with a membership that know each other and are friends in and out of the game, and do regular events. Isn’t THAT what World of Warcraft is all about? Happy days!

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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Vault of Archavon. Free loot for everyone. You know the drill. Get 10 or 25 people together, go inside, spank down some trash, spank down some bosses who stand there and let you, loot, roll win.

Tonight, Stormshaper went into Vault of Archavon for the first time. In there, she took down the new boss, Toravon the Ice Watcher and Koralon the Flame Watcher. Two nice achievements to be had, all well and good.

But that isn’t what this post is about.

This post is about the remarkable reaction some people have to winning loot. You see, Toravon the Ice Watcher dropped these. Nice aren’t they?

Anyway, in the group of 25 there were 5 shamans. The raid leader and master looter said “Main spec roll” and with that, every shaman rolled. Stormshaper rolled 95, and Stormshaper won the boots.

Now, that is normally where it ends. Loot distributed, move to next boss.


Not when you have a shaman in your group called Pamphilos. You see Pamphilos has thousands of PvP kills, therefore, Pamphilos believed that as he rolled the second highest roll, the loot should go to him.

I got an immediate whisper.

“If you were a nice person, you would give them to me.”
“Eh? But I won them fairly.”
“No. You ninja’d them. You have only 66 PvP kills. You don’t PvP, you should give them to me.”
“Umm, no. If I had 0 PvP kills, you could say I don’t PvP, but I have 66, so I have actually PvP’d on this character.”
“No. You should give them to me.”
“No I shouldn’t. I rolled fairly and won.”
“You ninja’d them. You should not roll on PvP gear.”

In the raid, people were arguing.
You should give them to Pamphilos.
You ninja’d that loot.
No she didn’t ninja the loot she rolled and won.
You have twenty people here who think you’re a ninja.
We’ll never group with you again.

“Fine.” Says I. “This is my care face. Can you see me caring?”

By now, Koralon is engaged.

“900G for the loot”
“No thanks.”
“You fucking prick”
“Excuse me?”
“You fucking ninja prick”
“I didn’t ninja anything. I won them fairly, deal with it.”
“You’ll never get invited to somerandomguildname
“But I don’t want to be invited to somerandomguildname
“Ha! You fucking noob. They’re ranked 3/4 on the realm.”
“Okay, good for them. I still don’t want to be invited to somerandomguildname.”
“You’ve made enemies here.”
“Eh? Enemies? Where? What are you talking about?”
“You’re a ninja and you’ve made enemies. I’m serious. I’ve got over 10,000 PvP kills. Those boots should be mine.”
“These 10,000 kills, did you QQ them to death?”
“Fuck off. Prick.”
“You had no right to roll on that loot.”
“I had every right to roll on it. I was part of the raid that killed the boss. I did my share of damage, that gives me the right to roll.”
“No it doesn’t. You should not roll on PvP gear.”
“Says who?”
“Well, you’re not the raid leader or master looter, and you didn’t make the loot rules up.”

By now we’d taken out Koralon. Another achievement. Yay.

I couldn’t tell you if any loot dropped off him that I could use, I was too staggered by what was on my screen. I found it hilarious. Such a devastating reaction.

Time passed and the raid ended. I was in Dalaran.

“I’m not your mate.”
“Mate, give me the loot, I really need the upgrade.”
“No chance.”
“They’re PvP and you’re not going to use them.”
“How do you know? How do you know I’m not going to use them? You don’t know that.”
“You can’t use them in PvE.”
“Yes, I know. I’m not going to use them in PvE. I already have a full tier 9 set for PvE.”
“Oh! Oh here it comes. Okay, lets get the nerd rage out of the way.”
“I’m going to kill you.”
“How exactly are you going to “kill” me?”
“I will duel you.”
“Okay, and then will you loot my still warm corpse for the footwear?”
“STFU Noob.”
“Ha! You’re hilarious.”
“You’re a prick. You fucking noob.”
“Ha! Ha! Got any more? How about ‘Your mother’ jokes? Got any of them?”
“Look, this is your last chance, seriously. Give me that loot.”
“Eh? Last chance to give you the loot that I won fairly and squarely? What will happen if I don’t take that last chance?”
“I’ll kill you. When I find you.”
“Well, I’m on the flight path in Dalaran.”
“I can’t kill you there.”
“Well, technically, you can’t kill me anywhere, but don’t let that stop you trying.”
“You’re dead. You’ve made loads of enemies today.”
“Hmm, cyber nerd rage enemies? I’ll live.”
“You prick.”
“Okay, you’re boring me now.”

With that, I flew off from Dalaran to hand in a daily in Argent Tournament.

“Yeah, go on, fly away.”
“I have.”
“You prick.”
“Okay, here’s a suggestion. If you really, really want the feet that dropped, go and round up all your buddies, and farm VoA, the same as everyone else does.”
“STFU noob.”
“Okay. Well, don’t cry too hard, they’re just pixels, and there’ll be more soon.”

And with that, I logged out.

So Stormshaper has made a whole slew of enemies now and will never be invited into somerandomguildname. I wonder what will become of her?

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Set Bonus and Talent Rebuild

When Stormshaper got her second piece of her tier 9 DPS set, she triggered the following set bonus.

At this point – it was time for Stormshaper to redo her talent tree specificiation, because while levelling her to 80, I neglected to put any points at all in Static Shock.

This was Stormshaper’s old talent tree:

And here is her new talent tree:

So there are a few subtle differences, which we’ll discuss here.

In the Elemental Tree, she removed the point she had in Elemental Focus as it wasn’t giving her any benefit whatsoever, and put that point into Call of Flame, meaning that she’s maxed that talent. Doing this increases the damage done by her Fire Nova by 5% and Lava Burst by 2%. As she doesn’t use Lava Burst that much, the latter isn’t that relevant, but the increase from Fire Nova is substantial.

In the Enhancement tree, she’s dropped three points from Ancestral Knowledge, meaning her increase in intellect has dropped from 10% to 4%. The three points have instead been moved into Static Shock. This is a nice little bonus to a shaman’s burst damage. With the 2 piece bonus, the chance to trigger Static Shock is increased with an additional 3% taking that up to a 9% chance to trigger.

So, with her two piece set bonus and her talent tree sorted out, Stormshaper is ready to go!

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Tanking Irritants? Tanks Are Irritating

I read this post today from Can Tank Will Travel. I would love to find a tank like that. No, really, I would probably pay gold to have a tank like that when Stormshaper zones into her latest instance.

Do they even exist? I have to ask because I simply have never seen anyone do anything like that. Not at all.

One thing I want Blizzard to change in Cataclysm is the ability for parties to absolutely blast through heroics without any thought. This is not fun and it’s led to the current state of PuGs and the tanks that “lead” parties through them.

What you get is this:

The “Speed” run.
The tank zones into the instance, doesn’t even look around or acknowledge the party, wait for buffs or any of that. He steams into the first mob he sees, aggro’s it and then instantly runs to the second mob with the rest of the group trailing behind him trying to take down the mobs that are following all over.

Now – this can work – if your healer is bang on the money. However, if your healer isn’t quite up there in terms of full tier 9/10, perfect trinket usage and mana management, it all turns to shit pretty damned quick as the healer runs out of mana, the tank runs out of heals and the weight of numbers overpowers everyone.

A variation on this theme is the “Speed” run where the tank thinks he’s much better than he really is.

A case in point, last night, Stormshaper zoned into Utgarde Keep – the entry level WoTLK heroic. Our tank zoned in and ran straight for the first two guards atop the stairs, running past them, he aggro’d the mobs by the giant anvils – but his threat was for shit. He didn’t use Death and Decay once. Instead he spent his time running around and around and around trying to round up the mobs who were all over the healer. The sheer weight of DPS blitzed them down. As we went through the room with the proto-drakes and their handlers – he did the same thing. Drakes came from everywhere as they flung party members far and wide.

Stormshaper died on the small mob of three that are just through the doors before the first boss. She was beating up the tank’s target, then cast chain lightning on five stacks of Windfury. This caused the other two mobs to turn around and smash her down while the tank single-targetted the one mob of the three.

His response “LOL! U SUK!”
I asked him about his aoe threat – “LOL! HIT MY TARGET NUB”
So I show him I was hitting his target, it was my AOE talent that caused the other two to smash me to pieces.
His response “LOL!”
I say “What about Death and Decay?”
“What about Obliterate? Dark Command?”
So, rather sarcastically, I said – well if you are a single-target tank, would you like us to sheep the square and frost trap circle? You’ll have to use markings to achieve that.

All the way through the instance, he aggro’d more and more mobs with limited threat generation. I moved Omen to the centre of the screen and ended up casting from range so that I could protect the healer while he ran around like a chicken with no head, simply aggro’ing things to attack us the party rather than him the focus of the threat. Even on the final boss, he never taunted once, however he did cast Army of the Dead and had the boss spinning round and round which was interesting when he did his Dark Smash attacks.

Stormshaper also hit another variation on this – the speed run where we aggro no bosses at all unless we can’t avoid them.

Zoning into Drak’Tharon Keep, the tank sped into the instance, aggro’d everything running past mobs chaining them behind him, the DPS is incredibly high so everything falls down very quickly. Trollgore is taken out in seconds. The tank then runs right past Novos The Summoner, activating his battle but proceeds through to the room with the bats – all the zombies that spawn to protect Novos run in – so they need to go down as well – so we kill all the mobs, but not the boss! Then we run down past King Dred, taking out the trash, but not doing the boss here – before finally up the stairs, more and more trash – does the tank stop for mana? What do you think?

Straight up to the last boss, Prophet Tharon’Ja, he takes a while as everyone is out of, or low on mana. As soon as boss goes down, tank zones out – no loot, no thanks, nothing.

This is a fundamental flaw in the reward system available through the dungeon finder.

People are absolutely abusing the gear levels they have achieved through farming badges making an absolute mockery of the game.

The WoTLK heroics are now an unfortunate obstacle on the way to getting more badges rather than a test for people who want to run the instances. There is no challenge to the dungeons at all. Using, or mis-using the random dungeon finder in this way, people are blasting through content, as they single-mindedly farm emblems. And if you are guilty in any way of slowing them down, you are kicked without a second thought.

Stopping for mana breaks? I had a tank tell me “Mana is for the weak”. Seriously.

I pointed out that mana is what helps the healer keep his arse alive – to which he replied – I don’t need a healer or DPS to do this.

The other side of the speed run is the undergeared, poorly researched tank who has decided that rather than wait 20 minutes for a random dungeon as DPS, he can simply switch stances or move into frost spec and he’s away. So the tank will aggro a mob and die in seconds because he has no mitigation talents. That’s just painful and unfair to the other players he’s burdened with his own laziness and/or ignorance.

One thing Blizzard could do to try and remedy this situation is remove the Emblems Of Frost from the daily random heroic because this would make heroics less attractive to over-geared players who are running the heroic for those emblems and nothing else.

Removing the emblems of frost would kill off a lot of over-geared players abusing the random dungeon finder, and the other players in the group as they speed their way to the two badges they want. This would leave heroics for people who need gear from the dungeon, or from the emblems that you get from the dungeons. If you are stunningly overgeared for the content, then you don’t do it. There aren’t many groups of 80’s blasting through Burning Crusade heroics, because the rewards aren’t relevant to them any more.

(Not to say these “imba” players couldn’t learn a bit about how the game used to be when it was tough – bring back the Burning Crusade heroics scaled up to today’s gear levels, that would dent a few out of control ego’s).

Removing the emblems of frost wouldn’t make the wait for groups over-long. At every level of the game Stormshaper has managed to find a group in a reasonable timeframe. However, that’s a reasonable time frame for me. Someone else who wants badges and wants them now, might find a 10-15 minute wait intolerable.

The emblems of frost/triumph/valor/whatever currency has worked to a degree because people can get gear very, very easily compared to Burning Crusade, but the level of the gear that’s freely available has made a mockery of the heroic dungeons, and with the random dungeon finder in full swing, it has turned the game into little more than a random dungeon chain, day after day after day.

It has got to the point now where a player doesn’t need to do quests, doesn’t need to see content. None of that is relevant any more. All a player needs to do is spend 15-20 minutes blasting though a heroic that they’re obviously not interested in and care little about so that they can accrue emblems and buy higher iLevel gear and if anyone is guilty of adding precious seconds to the time spent doing these annoying heroics, then they meet with volleys of abuse along the way.

That in my experience is the game today.

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Have you seen the forum post which offers a little bit more information on the forthcoming “Mastery” system that will come along when Deathwing reappears? Reading through MMO Champion’s BlueTracker system reveals a few more follow up posts from the developers.

Back at the Blizzard DevCon, the developers announced that the talent tree system was going to receive a complete overhaul with some talent selections going away, to be replaced by passive bonuses. This would simplify the talent trees for each class significantly. The passive bonuses would be activated as you spent your talent points in various trees.

Applying these passive bonuses as talent points are spent in each tree would move people away from hybrid talent spreads, where they try to unlock talents from across all three available talent trees. The game has moved on somewhat from when you could do that and remain viable in your chosen role (tank/dps/healer).

One thing it could possibly lead to is all the various classes having pretty much the same talent spread with little or no deviation. I know that they’re bringing in the forging talent to alter stats on gear slightly (not dis-similar to the bonuses available from gems), but will the condensing of the talent trees lead to all healing paladins having spec ‘x’, all Enhancement shamans having spec ‘y’, all unholy death knights having spec ‘z’?

If so, won’t that make the game a little less challenging, and very, very samey?

The developers seem to be really buzzing about this change in the talent system, so I’ll wait and see what’s coming along. For myself, the only caveat I have is that as long as it doesn’t make every player uniformly the same no matter what, with talent spreads only dictated by class balancing then that’s fine. If talent spreads are going to be dictated by alterations on patch day then that’s not really going to be much fun at all.

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Bringing The Deeps

Things are starting to fall into place with Stormshaper. Slowly, inevitably, she is accruing the badges to buy tier 9 gear. As you gear up, its important to read up on what brings you the best DPS you can muster. With a hunter, you’re looking at armour penetration, agility and hit rating. With a Death Knight, you’re looking at strength, expertise and a bit of stamina thrown in for good measure, to make sure you can survive any big hits that come your way.

With an enhancement shaman, its a little bit of both. Expertise is one of the statistics an enhancement shaman needs to get to the maximum level as quickly possible because expertise reduces the chance that your attack will be blocked/dodged/parried. If your attacks are hitting home, you’re causing damage, which is giving you maelstrom weapon procs, which stack up rapidly, and on five stacks you can let go instant cast chain lightning or lightning bolts, which means your DPS is going to go through the roof.

Another statistic an enhancement shaman needs is hit. Not because hit gives you crit, but because hit means you are going to miss less. Less missing means pretty much the same as above. Hit and expertise together will mean that you’re smacking your target on pretty much every swing and that’s what you are after.

So, last night, after Stormshaper picked up her second piece of tier gear, Nobundo’s Grips of Conquest, I powered up Rawr, and proceeded to do a lot of ‘what if’ analysis, going through various gems and enchants, in order to see what combination of both will give Stormshaper a significant DPS increase.

You can follow the socket bonuses available from gem slots on gear, but, truthfully? You don’t need to, and sometimes it benefits you enormously to ignore those available bonuses.

In Stormshaper’s case, the gem that gave her the best DPS in each slot were those gems that gave her expertise. So in her gloves and shoulders went a Precise Cardinal Ruby. Both of these gems give Stormshaper the best DPS over all the other gems available in the game, and no, they don’t match the socket, so she does lose the socket bonus, but 4 agility and 8 attack power is small potatoes in comparison to the DPS increase from the gem alone.

To see if I could prove this point, and find out the overall effect one of these gems would have on Stormshaper’s overall DPS, I used Enhsim and Rawr together to perform two simulations. One with the gem, and one without.

In Rawr, I disabled all the buffs available apart from those from racial and tradeskills, and ran a simulation which showed that with the gem equipped in her glove socket, Stormshaper was doing an estimated 2097.60 DPS. Then, with the gem removed from the glove socket, I re-ran the same simulation which resulted in her doing an estimated 2086.01 DPS.

According to Enhsim therefore, one Precise Cardinal Ruby adds 11.59 DPS to Stormshaper, given her current equipment. Certainly a lot better than a socket bonus of 4 agility.

I pressed on with the expertise and hit gemming and in Stormshaper’s boots and chest piece went Accurate Ametrine, again the chest piece socket bonus is missed, but 2 mana every 5 seconds? Who’s going to miss that? This gem in the boots enables the socket bonus, so that’s all well and good.

After gemming, I sauntered along to the target dummies and spent a little while attacking them, trying out various attacks. I could see that the DPS increase was significant, – perhaps not as clearly as Enhsim shows, but certainly the numbers were higher than previously, and significantly so.

There is a lot of improvement in Stormshaper’s performance now, but even with level 200 blue-quality weapons and a level 70 enchant on each one (Mongoose), she’s still doing 2.4K – 2.6K DPS in heroics, which isn’t too shabby by any standards.

By the end of the week, Stormshaper will be in four piece tier gear and she’ll exploit the four set bonus, which increases damage done by her shock spells by 25% which is a significant jump, so I’m aiming for her to be around the 3K – 4K mark before she progresses on the weapon front.

Let’s see how it pans out.

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