Monday, March 31, 2008

Hey There Little Red Riding Hood

We went to Karazhan yesterday. At first we were kind of nervous because a lot of the people who went this time had never gone before, and could probably still be considered a little undergeared.

But I guess we shouldn't have worried:

Attumen: One-shotted
Moroes: Two-shotted
Maiden: One-shotted
Opera - Big Bad Wolf: One-shotted
Curator: One-shotted
Chess: Free badges!

So at this point, having completely demolished the first half of Karzhan, we were all feeling really high off of our successes. All you other bosses, bring it on! We were on fire.

...soon to be literally.

We had two wipes on Illhoof before deciding to skip him. This was rather hilarious actually, somebody cried out "If you run far enough away he resets!" so off about half of us went, running throughout the entire tower with millions of little imps following us as one by one Illhoof plucked people away from their flight and sacrificed them. Pretty soon we were down to only me left, so I feigned death-- I don't know if that's what got me out of it or not but I do know that by the time he finally reset I had 40 HP left and was the only one still alive.

With that guy out of the question, we headed over to Shade of Aran. It was all sort of Leeroy Jenkins-ish: After an initial mishap where three people got too close and started the event with the rest of us still standing outside the closed doors (the panicky screams over Ventrilo were priceless), we all gathered together and had the two people who had done it before spend about ten minutes explaining the nuances of the fight to us in detail, we ran in, and... we blew up. At that point, the paladin was soulstoned but was literally laying at Aran's feet, it was super late, and everything decided to respawn, so we called it for the night.

Still, I gotta say it was a very successful night overall. I think the fact that we've got the first half of that place "on farm" isn't too bad for a scrappy group of roleplayers who have never stepped foot inside before until a few weeks ago. Oh, and no hunter loot, though our healers (and to a lesser extent, the rogue) really hit the jackpot. As I often say though-- I'm here for the fun. The loot is just the gravy. Also I think I did really well this time (that's the link to the anonymous WWS report-- I'm Thetys, Locke is Snooper, and Jitte the Mysterious Rogue is, I'm pretty sure, Moroes' garrote. No idea why it's showing up as a player.)

I was feeling kind of bad the last Karazhan run because I wasn't anywhere near the top and I sort of started to worry that I was "losing my touch" and not pulling my weight. So it was nice to do so much better this time. I was even tops on Curator! All the tips people started giving me musta helped. Oh and I was wearing my hunter shirt. Maybe that worked too. +100 Agi, +100 Ranged Attack Power, +100 doing-well-in-a-video-game.

/nods

...hey, you didn't think I'd letcha go without a movie, now did ya?

This is the Big Bad Wolf version of the Opera Event. It's basically a tank 'n spank with one little gimmick: Big Bad Wolf randomly turns people into Little Red Riding Hood and you have to run around in circles while he chases you, because you're silenced and can't do much of anything except run. Now as a wise man once said, if you Feign Death, he loses aggro on you and you don't have to worry about it (except for the fact that you are still slienced and can't do anything). Fortunately, my Feign Death, well... worked. =P

video


Music: The Revs - Turning Japanese

And yes, bad, bad, naughty hunter at about 1:20, pulling aggro like that. Now in my defense, Omen failed to give me any sort of flashy advance warning like it usually does... but still. Bad hunter.

/sits in corner

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Once Upon an Alterac Valley

A small sample of my thoughts from yesterday, after trying out the New AV on both Tawyn and Lunapike:

"So lemme get this straight... on my Alliance character's battlegroup, Alliance has apparently collectively decided that "Zerg Drek" is the new key to victory, leading to games that are a mere ten minutes long which usually end in an Alliance victory...

...and on my Horde character's battlegroup, Alliance still sucks at AV.

...this is the happiest day of my life *tears of joy*"

Momentary euphoria aside, the lag is horrendous on Bloodlust right now. I have never seen battleground lag that bad. In one game I was kicked off the server right as the "All in" call was given for Drek, I couldn't connect for about ten or fifteen minutes, and when I finally managed to get in... I was in the same spot I'd been when I disconnected and Alliance won about ten seconds later. Took 15 minutes to kill Drek even with the Relief Hut. DoTs became the key to victory for most people, because they would at least keep ticking when you couldn't move or cast spells or attack anything. People were joking that Horde had decided to revolt and use an "Alliance lag mod", though I think things were just as bad for the poor Hordies.

The face of AV really has changed though, it seems, in Tawyn's battlegroup anyway. Ever since the last time they changed AV, Horde has completely and thoroughly dominated AV in our battlegroup. But now... well, I played probably eight games or so yesterday, and six were wins (and I sort of think the other two would have been wins if it weren't for the lag-- in both cases, we had Drek down to about 30% health, or less). No more people spending the entire battleground arguing about what "surefire strategy" was the one that worked. No more 45-minute long painful battles of being killed over and over as you watched the Alliance reinforcements dwindle to zero while Horde still had 497 or something. Nope. Completely different.

Now the second I get into a AV, battleground chat has typically been taken over by one or two people saying "Rush to Relief Hut, take towers as you go, capture the Relief Hut, and kill Drek. Do not stop to fight Horde." over and over. And there are no questions. No arguments (other than from the occasional person who is perhaps playing AV for the first time since the new patch). Everybody sticks to the plan. Nobody takes Iceblood Graveyard (which is still a surreal concept to me. No... Iceblood...?) Nobody even thinks about Galv. A couple people take towers along the way but for the most part you get some 35 people at Frostwolf Relief Hut and then four minutes later you've got 35 people in Drek's fort. It seems as though the Horde has a similar strategy going on; there were many games where I never saw even a single Horde player and the BG announcements made it clear that they were busy doing the exact same thing we were: rushing to the end to see who could kill the boss first. And it most cases, it was Alliance who managed to pull it off.

In some ways, this is all really very ridiculous. I remember saying rather incredulously on Vent after a couple games: "I only have 3 honorable kills but over 1000 honor" and then the similarly incredulous replies from my guildies (which resulted in everybody going to try AV themselves, and getting the same result as I had). To me, it seems as though the new "Horse Race AV" (as I've heard a few people call it now) has sort of defeated the entire purpose of PvP. I can't help but wonder how long this is going to last.

So it's a bittersweet victory; yes, we win now, yes, I'm getting tons of marks and honor, but the victory is meaningless and hollow.

At least there are still epic battles on my hordie's battlegroup. The Horse Race mentality has not spread there (yet, anyway) and Horde still wins by 400 reinforcements after super long matches. Victories take longer but it's much more fun. (Oh, and no lag.)

How has everybody else's AV changed? Or has it for you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Giant Robots? Check. Fuzzballs? Check.

My guild went to Karazhan on Saturday-- I unfortunately was unable to go-- and they managed to get past the Opera Event in what I hear was an epic fight (something about six people dying, the tank kiting stuff around for five minutes while the healers regen'd mana, and eventually four-manning it) but then got stuck on Curator.

So... we went back. When I was available!

This fight, for those of you who haven't done it before, works something like this: There are these electric fuzzballs that aggro on random people that you have to kill. Every so often, Curator, a giant robot, turns all blue which means he takes double damage from everyone and that's when you have to focus on DPS'ing him.

Here's the final video I made-- after three or four false starts:

video


Music: Cyborg Jeff - F-Zero GX Dr Stuard Jeff & Toad Air Team Challengers OC ReMix; Jean Jacques Perrey - Brazilian Flower

(I know the last song is ridiculously silly. Bear with me when I say it's an inside joke of sorts. And makes the fact that the tank and Curator died within about a half second of each other even funnier.)

I'm not sure if this is a difficult fight for a hunter or if it was just hard for me because I'm not used to it. I know I do my best when I get to stand still and really dig into my shot rotation and let the crits flow. But for this fight I hardly got a chance to get in one or two shots on each fuzzball. For this reason, I had the snot beaten out of me in the DPS charts. I don't mind though. I had fun, I had the killing blow, and I got something shiny out of it:



Feels good to have some Tier 4 on my Armory, lemme tell ya.

At some point I'd like to write detailed guides to playing a hunter in each of the Kara fights but that's a ways off yet, right now it's just a blast to run around and check out all the different bosses. It sort of has a "rogue's gallery" feel to it. These are the bad guys that I've been hearing about since I started playing WoW about a year ago. It's so neat to finally go "meet" them.

We went to the Chess Event after this and then called it a night. Yes, we won Chess. I'd been informed that we'd be disowned if we didn't, so I guess that's a good thing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Beast Mastery and the Zen of Shot Rotation

The other day I sat down and figured out how to do WoW Web Stats, having been inspired by Aspect of the Girl (a fun new hunter and new blog!) and BRK's commendable help guide. Then I WoW Web Stats'd a normal Steamvaults run that me and a few guildies did to help my boyfriend get Cenarion rep.

This is a very useful tool that lets you analyze yourself and see what you did right and what you did wrong and get hard data for just how often things like Improved Aspect of the Hawk or Ferocious Inspiration are proc'ing. It also tells you your DPS-- I managed 613 throughout the duration of the instance and 820 on the final boss fight. I've noticed that boss fights are where I really shine in DPS, because I don't have to be focusing on trapping things and the like. Not to say that I don't like crowd control, in fact, I actually tend to get a bit miffed if I'm not "Lead CC" in a particular group. But if you're looking for MQoSRDPS and nothing but MQoSRDPS from me, you probably won't find it quite as much on trash mobs.

However, I'd like to use some of my WoW Web Stats data to teach you a little about the Beast Mastery Shot Rotation. My previous "Kindergarten" post went over very well (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with still being in kindergarten by the way!), so I thought I would bring you another one.

For starters: What is a shot rotation? Put simply, it is the order in which you use your special shots. It goes beyond that, though: we hunters have an Auto Shot that is constantly going. If you right click on a mob and do nothing else, that is your Auto Shot hard at work. Pew. Pew. Pew.

Auto Shot is interesting, though. It has a hidden timer to it. You can fire most instant cast shots and not interrupt that timer (Arcane Shot comes to mind), but if you fire Steady Shot (a non-instant-cast-shot) at the wrong time, it "clips" your Auto Shot. You don't get that Auto Shot in and you've just cheated yourself out of a lot of DPS.

In order to maximize DPS, hunters have to come up with a shot rotation that takes things like the speed of their weapon into account. This way they can come up with an order to fire their special shots in without clipping their Auto Shots. A lot of us call this "weaving your shots", because you are basically weaving your special shots around one immovable standard: the Auto Shot.

Marksman and Survival hunters often have to come up with very long and complex Shot Rotations that involve Steady Shots, Arcane Shots, and Multishots all done in a very specific order. It takes a lot of hard work to calculate out a big rotation like that and I /salute those of you that do it.

Beast Mastery hunters are a special case though. Why?


Serpent's Swiftness.

Taking 5/5 in this talent ups your ranged attack speed by 20%. This means that we don't have the time that hunters without it do, to weave most of our shots into a rotation. In fact, with a ranged weapon with optimum BM speed (about 2.80), we barely have time to squeeze in one Steady Shot between our Auto Shots.

...but that's not a bad thing as some people might think right off the bat.

The two most mana-efficient shots for a hunter are Auto Shot (which obviously costs no mana) and Steady Shot. Both of these get you your most damage-per-mana-buck. So the Auto-Steady rotation is not only more mana efficient than other rotations (and thus lasts longer), but the fast speed at which you are firing more than makes up for the slower (but usually damage-heavier) shots of a non-Serpent's-Swiftness-hunter.

So let's take a look here and see this in action. Let me show you a small excerpt from the combat log on the final boss in Steamvaults. This is just me: it doesn't display my party members or things that they did, nor does it display things that Locke did (except getting focus from me); this explains why you don't see any Kill Commands:

07:12'17.500 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1354
07:12'18.015 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'19.609 Tawyn gains Quick Shots
07:12'19.718 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 544
07:12'20.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 603
07:12'21.484 Tawyn gains Ferocious Inspiration
07:12'21.937 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1072 (53 blocked)
07:12'22.328 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'22.546 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 614
07:12'24.734 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1370
07:12'25.125 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'25.531 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 586
07:12'27.265 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 537
07:12'27.843 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 604
07:12'29.671 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1221 (53 blocked)
07:12'30.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 566
07:12'30.390 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'32.187 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 582
07:12'32.984 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 621
07:12'34.593 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 562
07:12'35.187 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1420
07:12'35.609 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'37.000 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1381
07:12'37.250 Tawyn gains Quick Shots
07:12'37.609 Locke gains 50 Focus from Go for the Throat of Tawyn
07:12'37.937 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 617

So did you see what I was doing there with my shots? Here, let's take out the procs so you can get a better look:

07:12'17.500 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1354
07:12'19.718 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 544
07:12'20.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 603
07:12'21.937 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1072 (53 blocked)
07:12'22.546 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 614
07:12'24.734 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1370
07:12'25.531 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 586
07:12'27.265 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 537
07:12'27.843 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 604
07:12'29.671 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1221 (53 blocked)
07:12'30.375 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 566
07:12'32.187 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 582
07:12'32.984 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 621
07:12'34.593 Tawyn's Steady Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 562
07:12'35.187 Tawyn's Auto Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1420
07:12'37.000 Tawyn's Steady Shot crits Warlord Kalithresh for 1381
07:12'37.937 Tawyn's Auto Shot hits Warlord Kalithresh for 617

Notice that? I am weaving Steady Shots inbetween my Auto Shots and that is the foundation of a Beast Mastery Shot Rotation.

Elitist Jerks, theorycrafting community extraordinaire, has an excellent picture illustrating this, where the little orange box represents using Kill Command if it's available (and I hope they don't mind if I borrow it-- I'd be glad to remove it at their request):

(Click to enlarge)

So. You've got your Auto Shot, you've got your Steady Shot (if you are level 62 or higher, that is) and you've got Serpent's Swiftness, and you're ready to learn how to do your shot rotation. There are a lot of different ways to do this; some people swear by using a timer addon, others just jump straight into the macro (which I will discuss later). Me, I find that learning to weave your shots is pretty instinctive. I went out after getting Steady Shot and played around with it and after a few minutes I just had this "Ohhhh..." moment where everything clicked and suddenly the mechanics of playing-my-hunter changed forever. I don't know if everybody has a moment like that or if it's just me. But basically, I recommend that everybody learns how to manually weave their shots first before hitting up a macro or timer-- I just think it's a good foundation.

For me, I have discovered that if I watch my character very closely... if I hit the Steady Shot button immediately after she fires an Auto Shot... well, that'll do it. After a couple shots are fired you'll fall into a rhythm and you don't have to watch quite so closely. (Note: I've found that the bow animation sometimes looks funky when you do this. That can be hard to get used to, at least, it was for me. Using a crossbow or gun isn't so bad though.)

It takes a bit of practice to start weaving in your Kill Commands, too. You can use Kill Command after you crit (if you are level 66 or higher). Kill Command has its own little cooldown, though, so you can't just spam it. Nor can you use it if you are mid-Steady-Shot cool-- erm--- up? (Opposite of cooldown >.>) Pretty soon you will get accustomed to keeping track of when you've got a Kill Command in queue and you will learn to use it between Steady Shots. It might take a little practice though.

There you have it. That is the BM secret to MQoSRDPS. I know a lot of people probably think it's easy-mode, and that may be true, but honestly I think it's all in how you look at it. One hunter's easy-mode is another hunter's "functional and elegant". And that last phrase really describes it to me.

Now, one more thing to touch one before I letcha go. The Macro. The Macro. It looks something like this:

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot
/cast Kill Command
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

Yes, I've got it on my secondary action bar alongside all my tradeskills and various rarely-used Aspects. I've got it there because sometimes everything just starts lagging really really badly and we're mid-boss-fight or something and it becomes near impossible for me to time my own shots just because of the lag. So that's when I pull up the macro, shed a little tear, and start spamming it.

What's the macro do? Well, it times all your shots for you and completely eliminates human error, meaning it will probably up your DPS.

Why don't I like it? Because for me, playing my hunter is about having fun and The Macro is just not fun. You sit there and press it over and over again. There is no timing involved. There is no concentration involved. There is no opportunity to enter the little zen-like state I do when I'm deeply in tune with my rotation. It's just... boring. Not to mention the macro tends to make me do weird things like break CC. I like having more control than that.

Now I'm not trying to decry The Macro. If you like using it, then great! Go ahead and use it if it's fun for you. But it's not fun for me. And that's why I don't use it. Fun > maximum-possible-DPS. It's a game, after all. (And besides, I rather pride myself on my ability to often out-DPS hunters who are using The Macro =P)

Well, I hope I have helped a little when it comes to explaining the mysterious Shot Rotation (I say mysterious because I really had no concept of what this was for the longest time when I was starting out my hunter, and I always wondered about it). The whole Shot Rotation playstyle, which really does involve a lot of timing and concentration, is one of my very favorite aspects of the hunter class. Good luck to all you newer hunters when you attempt to go and master it-- I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Class Dismissed!

Homework & Further Reading:

Drotara's Shot Rotations for Dummies
Elitist Jerks Shot Rotations Illustrated

Friday, March 21, 2008

It was the best of times... it was the worst of times...

You wanna hear a story? Come gather round and I'll tell you a story.

So there we are in Heroic Mech. By now we've got the thing memorized and we could run it in our sleep. We're goofing off in Ventrilo and a couple of us aren't even in Ventrilo cause heck, it's just Heroic Mech, right?

...I think we took things just a wee bit too casually. We were dying left and right on random crap, we made about a million dumb mistakes, and worst of all, The Sword that Can Not Be Named managed to elude our poor tank for the thousandth time.

But amidst the chaos there was one high point to our otherwise horrific run.

Gatewatcher Iron-Hand
, a sort of mini-boss you fight after the first big robot guy. Ya know him? Him in all his "RAISES HIS HAMMER MENACINGLY" glory?

We're fighting him and the tank dies when the boss is still at about, oh, 30% health or so. (Yeah I told you this was an off night. I swear we can do this heroic in our sleep when we're trying. Honest!)

Tank is gone, we've got a holy paladin, a warlock, a rogue, and me and Locke. Boss comes charging to me first so I feigned out of it (I honestly thought we were all going to wipe in a matter of seconds) and he turns and heads towards the warlock, who proceeded to load him up with as many DoTs as he could before his inevitable death. By now I'd realized the group was still alive and kicking, and had jumped up pretty quickly and resumed pounding on the boss as best I could. This whole part here is mostly just a blur, all I know is that Locke tanked him for ten seconds or so before falling, and then the warlock died, and it was down to me, the pally, and the rogue with the boss still at about 15% health.

The rogue managed to keep him occupied long enough for us to chip him down even further until he was at about 10% health, and then there were two: me and the pally.

Now the pally wasn't in Ventrilo at the time because he was watching a movie or something. So I heard myself shouting with my brain, hoping he could somehow catch the mental vibes: "BUBBLE TANK IT! BUBBLE TANK IT!!"

And he did. Bubbled and tanked the guy while I sat there and auto-steady-auto-steady'd (and ran around and arcane'd cause he kept moving)...

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the bubble ran out and our healer hit the dirt. I think at this point the boss was at about 4% or 5% health.

Tawyn vs. the world.

Bring it on.

He raised his hammer in the air menacingly...

...meaning he just stood there and didn't move...

Pew... pew... pew... longest 4% of a boss in my entire life...

4%...

3%...

2%...

1%...

Killing Blow.

You'd better believe I danced on his corpse.

Take a drink... of chocolate milk

First he met my challenge and developed The Shaman Gear Drinking Game.

Then he made the BRK blog Drinking Game.

And then... Znodis made the Aspect of the Hare Drinking Game.

A couple examples:

- Take a drink for each character Pike mentions in a post. (That could get you drunk right there.)
- Take another drink if it’s not a hunter

...

- Take a drink if she talks about RP’ing.
- Take a drink if she actually starts RP’ing on the blog.
- Take a drink when she mentions Linux.
- Take a drink because no one really likes Windows.
- Turn off your computer and go get really drunk if you have Vista installed. When you sober up, uninstall it and get Linux because if you run into a problem at least you know someone can fix it.

...

- Take a drink if you wrote this drinking game in a subtle attempt to get Pike to draw you one of those cool custom avatars even though you’re not a hunter superstar.

Znodis, you may be disheartened to know that I still don't drink (unless we're talking about chocolate milk, or Mountain Dew when I'm feeling adventurous) BUT I think you'll be happy to learn that, just for you, if you e-mail me a screenshot of your character (in your favorite gear) and pet, I'll whip something up for ya. No guarantees on how long it will take, but I'll do my best. Oh, and if you have a specific location you'd like for the background... let me know that too. *nods* (I left this as a comment on your blog too, but I'm having trouble figuring out if it actually went through or not).

I'd love to be able to make avatars for the rest of my readers-- unfortunately time is still an issue-- but I often find myself trying to think up a way I can finally give you all your own little custom avatar. So hopefully someday I can make it happen. ^_^

In other news, my guild's got another Kara run lined up for tomorrow. I... have to work. /cry Fortunately I've been informed that best efforts are going to be made to line up the next-after-next run with my work schedule (which has been irritatingly inconsistent lately...) and besides, I never really figured I'd get to go to all the Kara runs. We've got dozens more ahead of us anyway, I'm sure. And lots of people who want to go. So it doesn't bug me too much.

... /sniffle

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ode to Locke

This is my cat, Locke.



Formerly known as Rak'Shiri, Locke was tamed at about 4am server time while I was wearing the Leper Gnome Halloween costume. I'd wanted Locke for a while. He is teal, after all. Teal is my favorite color and basically the main reason I rolled a night elf-- teal hair. Teal hair!! So I camped out for him (he's a rare spawn) and finally managed to nab him.

We were level 57 then; today we are both level 70 and he is my Official Grouping Pet. This is mainly because a few people have taken issue with Tux's immense wingspan and I don't want to be a pain-in-the-butt, so I use a pet with a somewhat lower profile. (It's also helpful because I can keep Tux spec'd more for PvP and Locke for PvE.)

Locke has successfully "emergency tanked" two dragons: the last boss in Hellfire Ramparts and the last boss in Old Hillsbrad. He usually manages to somehow double the DPS output of any and all other hunter pets that happen to be in the group. And he has really come to be loved by our little group of instance-runners. He has become our willing guinea pig more than once: "Hmm, do you guys think we can jump here? ...hey Tawyn, have Locke go check it out!" And he has spawned many a guild inside joke. One is that one of these days mid-Heroic Mech run, he is going to randomly disappear and then replace Patheleon the Calculator as the new end boss. (We decided that he is going to be wearing a monocle when this occurs. "When", not "if".)

The other big inside joke is that if anything bad happens and there's no apparent scapegoat-- it's Locke's fault. Many a mysterious wipe or pull-gone-bad has been irrevocably decreed Locke's fault.

We were in Heroic Mech the other day and after one of these "Locke's fault" occasions, we all sort of had a good laugh about how ironic it was that nothing had ever really truly been Locke's fault. Nothing in recent memory, at least (because I recall a few slipups in Dire Maul and Scholo). Locke has always performed his duty masterfully and has never caused any issues unless it's my own mistake. Hunter pets seem to get a bad rap a lot-- but Locke? Nope. He's pretty much got a halo on his fuzzy teal head.

...we spoke too soon.

A couple hours after we'd finished Heroic Mech we made a new group and headed to Heroic Underbog. We were about halfway through, working our way up one of the ramps and slowly and carefully pulling naga mobs out from behind a little open door. Everything was going as intended and I sent in Locke to attack skull, as is customary. And then it happened. I send Locke in to the mob, he somehow manages to position himself so his butt is pointing towards some other naga-- and they must've not been amused because suddenly these extra naga were targeting Locke and charging over to him.

Well you can probably guess what happened next. We already had our hands full with our current pull-- the extra nagas were the death of us. Not to mention I was petless, with Locke having met his untimely demise due to an unfortunate and accidental mooning-incident.

It was all partially very funny and yet also partially very embarrassing and shocking to me. For once, it really had been Locke's fault.

Yet another guild inside joke of ours is that if you make some silly mistake or screw up, you are informed "And that's why you're not going to Zul'Aman." And Locke was not spared. He was informed that he's not going to Zul'Aman and that Tux is going to get to go instead.

Poor Locke. Tux is givin' him heck in the stable, I'm sure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stats for a Hunter

I decided to whip up a little guide about the game's attributes and what a hunter should be looking for in regards to them. Yes, I'm sure this is kindergarten for most of my regular readers-- but I enjoy writing guides that might help out newer players, and I hope this guide will be of some use to somebody who maybe just started playing the game or just started playing a hunter.

The stuff in italics has been taken from WoWWiki and is occasionally cut for clarity or length.

Strength:

Increases attack power with melee weapons. Hunters gain one melee attack power per point of strength.

Strength does not affect your ranged attack power. And if you are a hunter and you're melee'ing, you'd better hope I don't catch you! =P This stat can be completely 100% ignored. And if an item has strength on it, it's probably not for you. (Although of course, there are some items that are still fantastic for hunters even if they have strength. My much-loved Ice Barbed Spear comes to mind. But once you hit level 70-- if it has strength on it, it's probably not for you.)

Agility:

Increases attack power with ranged weapons (not including wands) or melee weapons for certain classes. Hunters gain 1 melee attack power per point of agility. Increases armor by 2 per point. Increases chance to score a critical hit with a weapon. Increases chance to dodge attacks. This is dependent on both class and level.

Repeat after me: "I love agility." Say it over and over. It is your mantra. Perhaps not quite as much as it used to be... back in the "old days" before I started playing, one point of agility was equivalent to two RAP (Ranged Attack Power) instead of just one... but this is still by far the most important stat for a hunter. Survival hunters in particular. But all hunters should love the agi.

Here's what agility gets you:
-One point of agility will get you one attack power (there are still people who haven't played a hunter lately who think it's two attack power. I've run into those people. Sadly, they are mistaken, the times have changed.)
-If you are level 70, 40 agility will get you 1% crit.
-One point of agility will get you 2 armor points. Your pet's armor scales based on yours so this will also make your pet less squishy.
-If you are level 70, 26.5 agility will increase your chance to dodge by 1%. Now, we're no rogues; we shouldn't be taking many hits and thus dodge isn't a huge deal-- but this is definitely helpful for things like PvP. So it's a nice little bonus.

Go for agility above all other stats. If an item has +agi, +stam, +int, and possibly +attack power, and is mail (or some sort of two-handed weapon; most likely a polearm), then that is bona-fide Hunter Loot and you're allowed to ask for it. (If anyone has an issue with it, tell 'em they can take it up with yours truly!) Really your only competition will be from enhancement shammies, and c'mon... isn't there already enough shammy loot out there? =P (The Shaman Loot Drinking Game needs to be invented if it hasn't been already. Good thing I don't drink or I woulda been completely wasted months ago. Shammy gear... shammy gear... shammy gear... *twitch*) Edit: My challenge has been met! Znodis's Shaman Gear Drinking Game.

Stamina:

Stamina provides 10 health for each point for all Classes/Mobs/NPCs (except from the first 20 points of Stamina that provide 1 health for each point instead). It also increases health points of a player's pet for classes with pets.

Stamina is good because it lets you live longer. In PvP, Stamina is king; in PvE it's probably not as important as your "main stat" (unless you're a warlock or tank, in which case it is a main stat) but it's still very important for all classes.

If you are a hunter, your pet's stamina scales with yours so more stamina for you will also improve your pet's staying power, health-wise.

If you are gearing for PvE, it's definitely okay to forego stamina for something with agility; in fact, you should be doing that in most cases. But you don't want to neglect it entirely. A dead hunter isn't going to be doing a lot of Sustained Ranged DPS. There are things you can do to help with your stamina if you need to, for example, you can use [Nethercleft Leg Armor] instead of [Nethercobra Leg Armor] until you feel that your stamina has reached a decent level. (That's what I'm doing right now, in fact.)

Intellect

Increases mana points. Each point of intellect gives 15 mana points (except from the first 20 points of Intellect that provide 1 mana for each point instead). Increases chance to score a spell critical strike. This increase varies by class and level; in general, the relationship is linear as intellect increases, with a small amount of base crit chance. The rate of increase is generally based on the amount of intellect a class is expected to have at a certain level. As of 2.4, Intellect will increase the amount of MP5 generated by Spirit.

Hunters don't cast spells (at least, not "normal" ones) so we can ignore the bit about spell crit. What's important for us is that the more mana we have, the more shots and other special things we can use before we have to use a potion and/or switch to Aspect of the Viper. Don't underestimate the value of mana and intellect. If you have ever ran out of mana in a battleground or something you'll understand how powerless it makes you feel. (For this same reason, I feel a sort of twisted pleasure in putting Viper Sting on every hunter I can find in PvP. Forgive me, my fellow hunters.) Intellect should not supplant Agility and Stamina as the stats you want to focus on but you should still definitely pay attention to it. Note: Marksman hunters will, in general, love the Int more than usual. Because they've got a lot of shots to put into their rotation.

Agility, Stamina, and Intellect are really the trinity of stats for hunters and you will learn to love them.

Spirit


Increases health and mana regeneration. Spirit affects all characters' mana and hit point regeneration rates in and out of combat. Health regeneration from spirit is not active while in combat, except for trolls who gain 10% of their normal health regen in combat from the racial ability "regeneration." Mana regeneration is active in combat except for the five seconds immediately after casting a spell (the five second rule). Some class talents and spells allow some mana regeneration during this period.

Spirit is an interesting stat; it's obviously not nearly as vital as the afore-mentioned trinity, but I also don't see it as being a necessarily useless thing to have. It will decrease your downtime between fights, even if not by much, and I don't see how that's a bad thing.

That said, for the most part, this stat can be ignored if you're a hunter. If you wind up with something that has Spirit on it, then hey, it's not gonna hurt anything. But if you have a choice between Spirit and Agi/Stam/Int, well, I hope you're gonna pick the latter. (And if you have a choice between Spirit and Strength, you're gonna pick the former. *nods*)

Well, it's getting close to midnight as I write this and I've had a rather long day, so I'm going to post this and hope it doesn't have any major glaring errors. But, as always, if you do find one or otherwise want to make a comment or ask a question, please feel free to do so!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Seeing It From The Other Side

So what's a hunter do the second she hits level 51?

Head to the 51-60 AV bracket, of course.


Not bad for being the lowest level they letcha in. I think so anyways.

It seems like it was just yesterday when Tawyn hit her early-50s and snagged herself Ice Barbed Spear. Well, today it looks like yet another of my hunters has achieved that rite of passage.


/cheer
/dance

It only took two games to do it, too. Just two! On Tawyn it took like eleven.

It was so weird playing this battleground from the Horde side for the very first time. It sort of felt like Bizarro-AV. To be honest I still can't figure out Horde's secret for winning. I was sort of hoping it would all be made clear, but honestly it seems like when I'm playing Horde we do the exact same thing as Alliance (only in reverse) and yet we win heartily rather than lose decidedly. Very odd. Clearly this requires further study.

Gosh I love leveling hunters.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

All About: The Kill Command Bug

Something strange happened to me yesterday in Heroic Slave Pens. I was in the middle of "Totem Duty" on a boss fight when suddenly my Kill Command button seemed to get stuck. You know what a button looks like when you're pressing it down and using it? It was stuck there.

No biggie, right?

Actually, yes.

See, the Kill Command Bug is a mean, horrible monster. The Kill Command Bug says "NO AUTO SHOT FOR YOU!" and then points and laughs as you cry.

Yes, so long as that Kill Command button looks like that, you cannot Auto Shot no matter how hard you try. You can Arcane. You can Steady. You can Multi. But you don't fire any Auto Shots. And that, my friends, is Not Good when you're mid-boss-fight in a Heroic.

Fortunately, amidst my panicking on Ventrilo, my boyfriend picked up Totem Duty for me as I sat there spamming Steady Shot over and over, feeling a bit like a lost and confused kitten. Auto Shot is the solid, unshakable rod that you weave your other shots around, and when it suddenly disappears, the defining aspect of playing a hunter-- the shot rotation-- just crumbles. It was a horrible feeling.

But then, suddenly! The button got unstuck and everything worked again! Hooray!

I wrote it off as a glitch caused by lag or something and didn't worry about it. I got some new epic pants and spent basically the last of my gold gemming and armor-kit-ing them and went to bed satisfied.

This morning I went to go farm motes to make up for all the gold I'd spent on my new pants the day before. I figured I'd level a lowbie pet while I was at it; it makes things more interesting.

And then it happened again. The Kill Command button locked up and Auto Shot disappeared. Helplessly I watched my poor level 67 wolf's health plummet as the level 71 Air Elemental pounded on him; some 40% of my DPS was gone and I couldn't kill the mob fast enough. Barely he survived that thing. *shudders thinking about it*

This is when I alt+tab'd and turned to Google for help. It turns out the Kill Command Bug isn't just something that happens to me, it happens to other hunters too. It occasionally happens with other things, like Rapid Fire. And so long as the bug is active, you also cannot feed your pet or log out.

And apparently, currently the only way to fix it is to crit.

So I ran around using Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot and Steady Shot until finally one of them crit. Ding! Auto Shot comes back home to me and everything is fine again.

It didn't happen again for the rest of that playing session but lemme tell ya, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the Kill Command button the same way again, at least not for a long time. It sits there taunting me. Just waiting to pounce. Just waiting to catch me unawares and pull the Shot Rotation Doormat out from under my feet again.

So what do we know about the Kill Command Bug? We know that Blizzard is aware of the problem although it doesn't look like it will be fixed until the next patch (it's in the "issues list" for patch 2.4).

We know that so long as the bug is active you cannot fire Auto Shot, or feed your pet or log out.

We know that the bug is "fixed" if you crit or if you forcibly restart the game (/reloadui does not work. It was one of the first things I tried too.)

It has been suggested that the bug is caused by hitting Kill Command too quickly after your Steady Shot. Guess that's what I get for making Kill Command a hotkey and honing my reflexes so I pound it basically as soon as I can. =P I suppose I can take the bug as a compliment then?

Until the patch hits, hunters, be on the lookout. The Kill Command Bug could be coming for YOU next, when you least expect it.

Muahahahaha!


*huddles in the corner and whimpers*

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Know Your Main Is a Hunter When...

You Know Your Main Is a Hunter When:

- You instinctively back up and try to get range when you're playing a caster class (or any other class, for that matter).

- You send your imp in to attack first when you play a warlock, and then wonder why he keeps dying or why he can't hold aggro.

- You constantly shoot things with your bow. On your rogue. (Ranged Rogues: As bad as Melee Hunters?)

- Anytime you see a cool looking creature you reach for the Beast Lore icon and then get all disappointed when it isn't there.

- Playing a cat druid or watching somebody else play a cat druid confuses the heck out of you. Because they are tracking humanoids with the track beasts icon.

- You keep reaching for the freezing trap/feign death/wing clip button or hotkey, and panicking when it isn't there or doesn't work.

- Not being able to track things makes you feel naked. (You will probably take up mining or herbalism as a profession, simply to semi-compensate).

- You miss having a pet so much that you go buy one of those little vanity pet cats from the Crazy Cat Lady in Elwynn, or a dragonhawk from Silvermoon, and you almost always have it out.

- You do horrible things to lowbie hunters who duel you. Like stand on their toes and not let them have range. Because you know what it's like, don't you?

- You feel pangs of jealousy when you see hunters run by with their pets.

- You buff hunters and their pets. Always. (Unless it's Arcane Intellect). And pets get Thorns if you're playing a druid. Pets, not the hunters. They need it the most; they're the ones getting attacked (hopefully).

- You inspect the gear/talent tree of any and all unsuspecting hunters that happen to be standing next to you.

- ...did I mention the instinctively backing up to get range thing? People tell you over and over you don't have to do it, and yet I bet you do it anyway.

- Oh gosh you mean all my minions and I level at the same time?? /squeal of happiness

- You tell the newbie hunter in Deadmines to put their pet on passive and turn growl off and not use Serpent Sting before trapping something and NO DON'T HIT IT WITH YOUR AXE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? /sob Oooh sorry, went overboard there. /blush

Well I don't know about you guys, but I am guilty of every single one of those points, and probably countless more...

Alts are fun. But I think hunters will always be home.

(That said, I think I'm gonna try leveling a druid. No guarantees on how far I get before Hunteritis sets in again. But I promise I'll try my best!)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

They're Gonna Put Me In the Movies...

...all I gotta do is act naturally!

Yeah, I figured you guys might want to see a little more than just screenshots!

video

Our little guild's second ever try on Moroes; the first try doesn't really count, I think, because somebody got disconnected and the pull was a complete accident. Now I'm no BRK; watching this movie there are a few things I would have liked to have improved on, but overall I think I did a pretty good job that I can be proud of. Me and the other hunter were sort of bouncing traps off of each other during the second half; what you don't hear in the movie is the two of us on Ventrilo discussing how we're backing each other up.

About four minutes into the movie is a sort of funny moment as you can see both us hunters trying desperately to get green triangle into one of our traps... he was pretty heavily planted onto the off-tank at that point though.

And yes, the song is indeed "Scatman". Partially because the other hunter requested that song, partially because it fit perfectly with the length of the movie, and I won't deny, partially because this song has long been one of my favorite songs to WoW to. It's overdone, but I like it.

Enjoy!

(And I realize the video is pretty small; I may try to see if I can post up a bigger, higher-quality version, if enough people would be interested.)

Karazhan: Liveblogged.

Tawyn & Locke and her guild (and a few non-guildies) vs. Karazhan:

This is going to be edited frequently throughout the night:

4:25pm: Having a roleplaying guild meeting and trying desperately to fill out our group because we had a few people drop out...

4:40pm: At the summoning stone. Tying up last minute details. Let it be known that I am really, really nervous.

4:55pm: The Boyfriend/Guild Leader is giving the Pre-Kara Peptalk.

5:05pm: Goin' in!

5:25pm: Standing in front of the first boss, getting ready for him. I chain trapped something and was proud of myself. ^^

5:35pm: Attumen the Huntsman down. I got some bracers; [Stalker's War Bands] (I'd link 'em on WoWHead but I'm in the middle of a raid! =P)

6:00pm: We're currently in the room with Moroes. I successfully pulled off four chained traps in a row a little while back, I'm glad I'm managing so well so far! =D

6:20pm: First wipe on Moroes; we had a horrible accidental pull and someone got disconnected, and still managed to kill some of the mobs and get Moroes down to about 11%. I kept some guy trapped for a while until I wound up too close to my trap and he got a hit on me; killed me in one hit cause my health was already a bit down. Still, definitely not a bad first try.

6:35pm: Moroes down on the second try. Me and the other hunter had some tag-team trapping action going on throughout most of it and it was pretty fun. I recorded it too! =D

7:03pm: Wiped on a trash pull where we accidentally grabbed two more adds than we wanted; we still managed to take down three which I thought was pretty good considering the fact that we're in some tiny hall and there was very little space to move around or trap and stuff. Currently sort of taking a small break while people rez, repair, and/or grab stuff to eat.

7:19pm: Standing in front of Maiden.

7:25pm: I died about ten seconds after starting Maiden; whoa, had no idea Holy Fire did that >.> So yeah, that one was a wipe.

7:37pm: Holy Fire and Repentance at the same time! The tank and I both died when she was at about 50%. Offtank picked up and got her down to about 30% before another wipe. The Deadly Boss Mods announcements are a big help though.

7:57pm: Third try, third wipe. Healers keep getting stunned...

8:10pm: ...and again. Sheesh. x_x We keep getting her to about 30%ish.

8:13pm: New plan, going to Opera.

8:25pm: The priest disconnected without us noticing and we did a pull expecting a shackle which never came-- this was followed by more adds then we wanted and this resulted in a wipe. My gear is all yellow... might have to repair soon. A couple people have to go so we're working on grabbing some replacements!

9:00pm: Unexpected issues with a lot of people having to leave, so we're going to call it for the night. We may or may not be back tomorrow. Either way, I had an awful lot of fun and got some new gear out of it. (Oh, and topped DPS. Just barely though. We had a fantastic group!) =D

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Getting Ready

So I'm going to Karazhan on Saturday. For the first time. I think that these next few days are going to be spent getting as ready for it as I possibly can.

Ran Heroic Mech yesterday-- our little instancing group decided we really need to get back into shape instance-wise because we haven't been running them as often as we used to-- and I maintain that Panthaleon the Calculator must really love me, because last time he dropped my gloves and trinket, and this time he dropped my gloves again (they got disenchanted) and also [Beast Lord Helm]. Now, I'm currently wearing [Gladiator's Chain Helm], and when I've got both of them all gemmed up and stuck a [Glyph of Ferocity] on them... Beast Lord Helm gives me about 2 extra attack power and a little mana regen, and Gladiator's Chain Helm gives me over 1% crit. Not to mention the stamina boost-- I'm sitting at about 6700 HP with Beast Lord. I feel like the world's flimsiest glass cannon.

You may be asking "Why say goodbye to so much crit and stamina?" And the answer is: The two-piece Beast Lord set bonus: Set: Reduces the cooldown on your traps by 4 sec.

I have always seen Crowd Control as being my #1 job in a party. CC comes before DPS on my little priority list. Always. (Unless everybody else in the party can CC-- but when I'm with my normal group, I'm always main CC.) And this trap cooldown is something that I see as being essential for Kara, especially as I have been informed that I am going to be one of the main providers of CC (alongside a priest). I'm glad I managed to snag this helmet before the weekend.

So now I've gained a shortened trap cooldown but lost a bunch of crit. What to do about this? The answer, I think, comes in the form of a list:

1.) Slap a [Stabilized Eternium Scope] on my bow (replacing +10 damage, which is on there currently).
2.) Get the exalted Scryer shoulder enchant (I've got the honored one already, but the exalted one gives a little more crit and some attack power)
3.) Replace the +7 agi enchant on my gloves with the +15 agi enchant.

I want to get those three things done by this weekend. Can I do it? ...I've no idea. I'm only Honored with Scryer (getting close to Revered though, I've been grinding rep in Shadowmoon and Netherstorm these past couple of days) and I've spent several hundred gold these past few days mostly on gear enhancements and the like, so I'm questioning whether or not I have the money for the new scope and glove enchant.

But you'd better believe I'm gonna try my hardest. I want to go into Kara feeling as ready as I possibly can be.

By the way, I think I'm going to borrow a page from Matticus and "liveblog" my first Kara run. What I'm trying to decide is... should I type it all up as I go along and then hit the "Publish Post" button after we're done for the night? Or should I publish it first thing and edit it throughout the run? I'm sorta thinking the first option is the best one, because I doubt anyone is going to be sitting at the edge of their seat refreshing my blog. =P But, we'll see!

Monday, March 3, 2008

World of Warcraft on Kubuntu Linux

I was looking at my site referrals and I've noticed that my biggest referrers (aside from Google) seem to be screenshots that I took of myself playing on Linux. Well... those screenshots are quite outdated and there were only two of them. So I figured I'd take some more, hopefully demonstrating a little bit more than just "Look I can boot it up"!

I'd like to note that I normally play in the fullscreened version of Windowed Mode, but I decided to take my screenshots using a much smaller window size so you can see a little more of the Linux environment.

The screenshots have also been resized to 1024x768 (my normal size is 1280x1024) so I apologize if some of the text is hard to see!


It's true-- I never logged into Tawyn on Windows until after she hit 70.


Latency and framerate in Stormwind on a fairly busy day. 27fps is more than playable. Also I would like to note that I don't quite understand why, but I experience more latency natively on Windows than via Wine in Linux.

The program in the background there is Amarok, which is definitely my favorite music-playing software (and is currently only available for Linux/Unix, although I hear a Windows version is in the works). I wanted to demonstrate that I can listen to music and play WoW (with sound effects intact) at the same time. Note: If you are using Linux and wish to do this too, you have to go into winecfg and make sure you are using ALSA and not OSS. Some people have issues with ALSA though, so be warned!


Framerate while flying in Netherstorm; it's gone up to 51fps. It was actually up to about 60 but the screenshot program slowed it down just a bit.



Linux, meet massive quantities of sustained ranged DPS! While listening to Scatman, of course. (It actually randomly happened to start playing here because my playlist is always on randomize. Good timing, I thought.)

So there you have it-- not only can you play World of Warcraft on Linux, but you can listen to music while you're doing it, and, judging by what I've got minimized, you can also chat on IRC, Instant Messenger, and browse the web. All at the same time. Really the only thing I've yet to do on Linux is chat on Ventrilo. =( Someday, though. Someday!

For more information you can check out my previous posts on WoW/Linux:

The Linux & WoW Q&A
Answering Questions (Mostly of the Linux Persuasion)

As well as The Official Ubuntu WoW Guide (Very helpful!)

And remember, no matter what Blizzard says, there is indeed a Cow Level:

I am alive!

I apologize for my lack of updates these past few days. I've been a bit busy and had some stuff going on. A couple days ago I went and had allergy testing done because I've been having some allergy issues and I figured it was about time I did something about it. The good news is-- the hunter is not allergic to animals! The hunter is, however, allergic to the wild outdoors, as apparently I am severely allergic to all grasses, weeds, and molds. I'm having further testing done to determine whether I'm allergic to anything else aside from the basics. Lemme tell you though, I'm actually finding myself wishing Aspect of the Wild could be used in real life. I could use some nature resistance against those level 72 elite bales of Timothy Hay that like to crit me when I'm feeding my guinea pigs.

I'm also a little behind in my blog-reading, so if I respond to one of your posts a few days late, well, that's just me tryin' to catch up!

Anyways, I have a few different post ideas planned for the near future and oh, I suppose I do have one little tiny thing of importance happening this Saturday, March 8.

I'll give ya a hint. It starts with a K.

/grin