Soloing Chillmaw

Sometimes, it can be hard to find a group for the Threat From Above quest in Icecrown, where you take on and hopefully defeat Chillmaw, the giant Frostwyrm that circles endlessly. Two days ago, Stormshaper found herself in that position. There were no takers to join up to defeat Chillmaw. Only one thing for it, drop the totems, use Feral Spirit and the Fire Elemental and see what happens.

What happened was truly immense.

I know that the shaman class is able to perform incredible burst damage, but this was amazing. Chillmaw and the three cultists who ride it around were dispatched, literally in seconds.

When you use your spirit wolves using Feral Spirit, they immediately spawn and attack your target. They last for 30 seconds, and in that time, they gain 30% of your attack power as a buff, and also heal the shaman (and themselves) for 150% of the damage done. This means that any damage caused by Chillmaw or her cultist riders was pretty much negated.

With the Fire Elemental blasting out fire nova and fire blast at the opposition, Shamanistic Rage popped early on in the encounter, when it was all over, and it was all over very, very quickly, all that remained were Stormshaper, her totems and the elemental. Everything else was destroyed.

I’ve tried this same quest on my hunter and my death knight, and neither of them have been able to do this solo. On the hunter, I have a Beast Mastery ‘tank’ spec, where the hunter, when fully geared has over 35K health from armour and buffs. His pet is a turtle, the best tanking pet in the game, but I’ve found that I can’t get the pet to last through the damage caused by Chillmaw despite healing from my hunter. Once the pet goes down, that’s at least 40% of my hunter’s DPS finished and inevitably a ‘Feign Death’ is called for.

On the death knight – I’ve tried this battle as blood spec, unholy and even frost tank spec. Each time, the death knight can get Chillmaw down, but won’t have enough survivability to last through the cultists. It’s been close a couple of times, but Stormshaper walks away with full health and mana. It really is no contest at all.

Stormshaper has a few group quests left in Icecrown, the rider quests that are given as part of the Ebon Blade storyline. I might take her and test her ability on these quests, as each in turn is quite a tricky fight. I’m interested to see how she performs in these tussles.

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Using the Combat Log to Improve Your DPS

The last few days, Stormshaper has been taking part in 10 man content. There hasn’t been a lot of success in terms of drops – in fact, not a single piece of gear has dropped that she can use. No matter, this is all good practice for improving her DPS.

As well as in-game items, such as enchants and gems, another way to increase your DPS is by studying the content of your combat log. There are a few ways to do this, and one particularly easy way is using an on-line service, such as World of Logs, or, my preference, WowWebStats.

How these online services work is, they allow you to upload your combat log, or a portion of it which pertains to the time you spent raiding, and it breaks down every event in the combat log, and presents it to you in an easy to read format, showing any number of things that you might be interested in.

I’ve been using WoWWebStats for a few years now, it’s fast, its easy to read their output, its a decent method of improving your overall performance.

I’m going to write a couple of posts on how to use WowWebStats, and what you should be looking for, as an enhancement shaman taking part in a 5, 10, 25 or 40 man raid.

WoW Web Stats

Okay, if you don’t have an account with them, you should make one. There’s a link to the account creation area on their main page. There’s no catch to this, you receive no spam from them at all, its just to allow you to logon to their service, save raid reports, and a myriad of other things. You can find out more about the services available though WowWebStats here When you’ve created an account and verified it, you’re away.

The next thing you need to do is download their Java client. The Java client will present you with a dialog for you to select your combat log.

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Once selected, you can give it a comment, such as “10 man Trial of the Crusader” or whatever, something meaningful for you. Once you’ve done that, simply click “Host Report” and the Java client will start its parse of your combat log, upload it to the WowWebStats website where you can then review any number of reports about the content.

Here is an overview of our 10 man raid that took out XT-002 Deconstructor in Ulduar as part of the weekly raid quest available in Dalaran.

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As you can see, the fight lasted for a total of 2 minutes and 39 seconds, and Stormshaper was present for 95% of the fight. (This means it took her a few seconds to run across and get in the correct position for her to start whaling away at the XT-002 Deconstructor and his exposed heart. In the time she was active, she caused 941854 damage to XT-002 Deconstructor, amounting to 16% of the overall damage.

That’s a fairly easy to follow report, and it shows you some key components such as overall damage, your percentage of the raid damage, your overall DPS (6,586 DPS for Stormshaper – go go raid buffs!).

You can drill down into the report to get some in-depth information about how your damage was done, i.e. what attacks you used, and how much damage they did. To view this report simply click the name of the player in the raid you want to view (yes, the report contains all the information for every player in the raid, not just you), and you will see the more detailed screen.

If anyone bothers to click my name, you’ll see that I have a tremor totem down, for no good reason other than we went to Ulduar after doing Faction Champions in Trial of the Crusader and I never changed my totem set up back to how it should be. *BLUSH*

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Okay, so, we know looking at that, that Stormshaper’s DPS could have been improved by her using a Strength of Earth totem rather than a tremor totem. She could also get an improvement if and when she completes the achingly long quest chain to unlock the incredibly boring Sons of Hodir dailies to get her shoulder enchants. That’s a given. However, she was doing over 6K DPS without those two items.

So, what else contributed significantly to her DPS? Her swings caused 267,700 damage, or 29%. More tellingly 9% of her swings missed the target which would account for approximately 24,000 damage. A significant amount. So, looking at that tells me that Stormshaper’s hit rating needs a slight adjustment. Windfury and Lightning Bolt attacks were her next highest attacks, rattling up 13% and 11% damage.

Another thing the report tells you is the damage done by your pets. So you can see Spirit Wolves accounted for 68,289 of Stormshaper’s total damage. Her Fire Elemental accounted for 110,345 damage. Substantial by any means.

This is a high level overview of the information offered by combat log parsers. In the next post I’ll delve into other issues, such as how long were totems up for. In a fight like XT-002 Deconstructor, the totem times will be pretty near to Stormshaper’s total time in the fight. On a fight that requires a bit of movement, like Krick and Ick in Pit of Saron, these timings will be less, as you have to evade the poison and the explosive charges rather than standing there smashing away at the boss. So we’ll see what can be learned from static versus mobile fights as an enhancement Shaman.

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When Small Things Matter

With Stormshaper becoming less dependent on 5 man heroics for her gear, she is slowly and unwillingly (on my part) moving toward end-game raiding. Inevitably when you hit the end-game raiding field small things start to matter.

Once, not such a long time ago, I was in a casual raiding guild with my hunter, and it was a lot of fun. We went to Naxxramas. We went to Ulduar. We wiped often, but it was fun because no-one went crazy if/when a wipe occurred. It was relaxed, and you’d logon and there were friendly people ready to talk and chat and it was everything a guild should be.

Then, one day, it wasn’t fun any more. The focus of the guild changed, literally overnight. We had two raid teams and team 1 was seen as the “progression” team. We left Ulduar (still not completed) and we went to Trial of the Crusader and we did that fro start to finish on our second attempt. This was the point when the whole ethos of the guild changed. All of a sudden, our guild master saw us not as a social guild with reasonably skilled, mature players, but a bleeding edge raiding guild.

Squeezing every last piece of DPS from your character became all consuming. Talent trees were analysed, combat logs were poured over. Inevitably you’d see comments like “If I remove a point from talent ‘x’ and put the point in talent ‘y’ and then you move the Draenei into group 1, I’ll gain z% DPS”. In my raid team, we had a Draenei mage who was told to buy a racial change to gnome, because the racial intellect buff from gnomes will offer a DPS increase.

So, here I am, three months later and Stormshaper is in good form and ready for 10 man/end game raiding. Of course, being a shaman, she won’t need to go through a racial change for a DPS increase. Not that I would do that anyway. But there are things I need to do to make sure that her performance meets the minimum required for 10 man raiding.

We know that there are gear improvements available to her. Yesterday’s post shows what she needs and where she can improve on that score. The next thing to look at is my raid UI and what I want and need from it so that it can help me with Stormshaper’s performance.

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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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Call My Gearscore Bluff

Elderfantazy. Look at him. Look at all that high level hear. I bet you his Gearscore is amazing. I bet you, having a Gearscore like that will get him a VIP pass into every 10 and 25 man pug on his realm. You simply can’t do anything except awe at the gear he has on his character.

When I saw he was going to be the tank for my party in Violet Hold today, I thought to myself – oh, this is going to be super quick. We’re going to be in here, smash everything in our path and get out again. No problem at all.

How wrong I was.

Firstly, one of the party asked for a few seconds before we started the instance. No, Elderfantazy was having none of that, and started the instance, and we engaged the first mobs a man down. But that wouldn’t be a problem. I mean, look at his gear. Check out his Gearscore. He could hold aggro all day long and we’ll just kill the mobs. Might take a few seconds longer, but that’s all.

No – forget that.

Let me say that marking was non existent. Let me say that threat management was none existent. Let me say that holding aggro was none existent. Mob after mob after mob after mob would engage anyone in the party except for Elderfantazy. Then he would suddenely jump into life and join the party after the mobs were running all over the place.

Xevozz – you know that annoying boss you kite all over and avoid the orbs? Well, for whatever reason he didn’t do that. He just stood there and died. Pretty damn quick really, considering his imba gearscore. You see, despite all the high level gear and the high level attitude, he didn’t know the tactics, and never bothered to tell us that he didn’t know the tactics. So he stood there like a complete noob and died while our healer worked her ass off trying to keep him alive. And because he didn’t know and was too arrogant to ask us, we wiped.

Look at that gear he’s wearing, and he caused a wipe in Violet Hold! Why didn’t Gearscore tell me he didn’t know the tactics for a 16 month old 5 man instance that he must have run on normal at least more than once?

We rejoined the instance.

“What now?” he asks.
“We start again, and this time, kite the boss”
“OMFG! Start again?”
“Have you done this instance before?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“So you know how it works?”
“Well, I’ve never wiped in here before.”
“First time for everything. Do you know the tactics for that boss?”
“No.”
“So you didn’t think to tell us, so we could tell you?”
“I don’t need tactics. If the DPS was good enough, he’d go down.”
“Nothing wrong with the DPS, it was you that caused that wipe, by standing there when the orbs spawned.”
“I can’t believe we have to start again.”

Second time – he did as we asked and the boss died in seconds. As he should, when you have a tank who knows what he’s doing.

We dropped the boss – despite Elderfantazy never managing to keep aggro for any length of time. Then, the final nail in the noob coffin. He “Need” rolled on the Staff of Trickery and then left the group instantly. Classy guy.

Completely rubbish tank, really arrogant manner, no idea of tactics, ninja looter, but hell yeah, look at his Gearscore!

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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.

No.

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.”
“Nice.”
“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?”
“Me.”
“Well, you’re not the raid leader or master looter, and you didn’t make the loot rules up.”
“STFU.”

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.

“Mate.”
“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.”
“Noob.”
“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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