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Personal Progression Review and Preview

As I have said before, Cataclysm is the first expansion where I have been able to complete PvE content in its entirety from start to finish. Today I found out that on both WoW Heroes and WoWProgress, I have the highest gearscore of Alliance hunters on Eredar. Moreover, I am tied for third overall in the server and am the only Alliance hunter in the top 10.

Those of you who have heard of Eredar may know it because of our local celebrity Lore of Tankspot. Eredar is a PvP realm and leans favorably toward the Horde, especially in endgame content. While the Alliance has had its fair share of successes and has its own healthy progression, we sometimes bang our heads hopelessly against the Horde that outnumber us in every zone and Tol Barad battle.

Although Eredar is one of the oldest realms, having been available since launch, the number of players active over the past few weeks have dwindled. Some may return for the first few months of Mists, but one can feel that the Alliance raiding scene has always featured the usual people and their alternate characters.

I had previously contemplated a transfer to a more active realm, but I have some attachments to Eredar, especially because it’s where I started playing with my friends who are no longer subscribed to the game. Sometimes I still hope that they will someday return, but it has been years since they have logged into the game.

Admittedly, I can also a bit of an elitist. (I think it comes with the fact that as bloggers we sometimes feel special and have some level of authority.) I don’t deny that seeing myself at the top of rankings excites me as an achiever, and I wouldn’t necessarily be able to achieve the same level of success with another guild in a different realm.

I started this blog as a way to chronicle my own journey in the game. As I looked back on my older entries from the Burning Crusade era, I am sometimes surprised at how my view of the game’s content has changed. I think part of the reason is that I no longer have many friends I would consider close who are still playing the game. What has been driving me in the past few months has been the desire to finish what I started in this raiding tier. It satisfied me to say at the end of our last Dragon Soul on Friday that we have finished Cataclysm.

That’s why I hope tonight launch of Mists will return me to that feeling of a child’s curiosity and distract me from doubts on the state of my own progression. Mogu’Shan Vaults opens on October 2, and the earliest my guild can raid will be October 5. I don’t know at this point whether I will be raid ready by then, but I want to believe that new content will reinvigorate my gameplay.

It’s time to shed the old hesitations and push forward to greener grass.


Hunter Midnight Launch Reminders

With less than 24 hours to go (and less than 12 hours in Europe) to a midnight launch, those who have pre-purchased Mists of Pandaria will want to go over their final preparations for exploring the continent of Pandaria. Tips are already abound from the blogosphere, such as this one from Tabana at the WoW Hunters Hall. Frostheim also recently wrote up an overview of hunter leveling to 90.

If you are still looking for more tips to make your hunter’s midnight launch go smoothly, use this brief checklist as well.

Bring one or two pets with you only. While it may be tempting to bring five pets in your immediate stable to be able to use stampede as soon as it becomes available, Pandaria has a whole slew of new pets and models to tame. This will enable you to immediately start tracking the new rare pets if you come across their tracks instead of figuring out later which pet you want to abandon. If you are only bringing one pet, take one that can be multipurpose for DPS in dungeons and tanking for solo questing. Otherwise you can bring a dedicated ferocity and a dedicated tenacity pet.

Check your talents. Many testers have already said that the three specializations don’t make a difference during leveling, so choose one that comes to you naturally. Pick up talents that you think will be useful for your own leveling method. I will be leveling as Marksmanship.

Toggle Trap Launcher on. You may have noticed this in the weeks since Patch 5.0.4  rolled out, but Trap Launcher can now be permanently toggled on such that you do not to click the ability every time you want to launch a new trap. If you haven’t already done so, now will be a good time to begin getting used to using it for easy access during leveling.

Are you doing anything special to prepare for your midnight launch?


Guide to Pet Tanking Heroic Morchok

Just over a week ago the video above appeared on YouTube showing Lazyguide of Ner’zhul pet tanking 10-man Heroic Morchok. I already had an inkling this is possible after the Warcraft Hunters Union on Icecrown took down Morchok on normal mode with a 10-man hunter group in July, but I never researched it any further at the time.

Because the video appeared after my guild’s weekly Dragon Soul run, I had to make my own attempt a week later on the next lockout. We had already planned to try new things on this raid because our paladin healer wanted to try single healing Heroic Ultraxion (which was also successful), so convincing them that Heroic Morchok can be pet-tanked was not difficult. After all, I already had a reputation on my server as the hunter who tanked Argaloth back in tier 11. (At one point I pet-tanked Argaloth every week for over a month.)

Our kill took five attempts or so after playing around with group arrangements and positioning and improvising pulling strategies, but it was successful. With one lockout remaining before Dragon Soul is no longer considered “current”, this guide should help anyone wants to try out this encounter for the final week of Cataclysm.

Before we start, I do want to make one disclaimer:

You do not have to choose the Beast Mastery specialization to tank Heroic Morchok.

I personally pet-tanked with a Marksmanship specialization because I can use the hard-hitting combination of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot to generate more Misdirection threat to my pet.

Preparation

Although all pets can now be a tenacity pet, I would still recommend using a turtle or a beetle because of their respective abilities Shell Shield and Harden Carapace, which can reduce damage taken by 50 percent for 12 seconds.

One talent is required in pet tanking this encounter: Spirit Bond, which gives the hunter and his/her pet passive healing. Blink Strike can also be useful for your pet’s quick positioning, but is optional if you are already comfortable with pet management.

Three major glyphs are also required: Glyph of Misdirection, Glyph of Animal Bond, and Glyph of Mending (not to be confused with Glyph of Mend Pet).

Finally, you will want to create a Misdirection macro to go along with your glyph. A simple example is below. (Nanghul is the name of my beetle, so you will want to change that.)

#showtooltip Misdirection
/castrandom [target=Nanghul] Misdirection
/yell Misdirecting to Nanghul!

If you would like to create a safety margin for your pet’s health, bringing along a Flask of Steelskin might not be a bad idea.

Encounter

This encounter can be done with two or three healers, depending on how comfortable your healers are with healing your pet. You will want an additional tank to pick up Morchok’s twin Kohcrom.

The pet should make the initial pull with Misdirection from the hunter. The other tank should not use taunt abilities for the first phase of the fight. This is because once Morchok splits into two, he seems to maintain the aggro table from the first phase. We would like to avoid an accident where the other tank finds himself tanking Kohcrom and Morchok at the same time.

Because Morchok splits to the right, the hunter (blue circle in the blueprint above, with the pet marked in orange) should be positioned to the group on the right. One healer should be assigned to each group. The third person in the hunter group can be another healer or a DPS which can drop his own aggro table (I will explain why later).

Once the other tank has stabilized Kohcrom’s position, the remainder of the encounter can now begin. Stomp does not affect the hunter pet, thus it can be entirely avoided with everyone in the hunter group staying at least 25 yards away from Morchok. Additionally, with more people on the left group, the damage from Stomp can be split across more people.

Two people must remain with the hunter because Resonating Crystal splits damage among three people in 10-man. (Damage is split among seven people on 25-man difficulty, so at least a 19–6 group split will be necessary in that encounter.)

The tricky portion of the encounter begins when Morchok and Kohcrom draws everyone in with Earthen Vortex. When this happens, the hunter pet appears to despawn and drop all aggro from the boss, thus prompt reapplication of Misdirection toward the pet is necessary. This is when the other DPS with the hunter should use his aggro reset ability to make it easier for the hunter pet to regain aggro. Not doing so may result in chaos.

Pets are also not affected by Black Blood of the Earth, so send it toward Morchok immediately after Earthen Vortex is over. This and prompt reapplication of Misdirection will help the pet gain aggro quicker.

Once Black Blood of the Earth is over, the encounter repeats itself. As long as no one in the hunter group is within range of Morchok to take damage from Stomp, the encounter should go on without a problem.

Occasionally you may find that Resonating Crystal is placed within the Stomp range. If that is the case, you will want to either reposition your pet quickly or stay away from the Resonating Crystal until after Stomp has finished casting.

Afterthoughts

It is theoretically possible for two hunters to individually pet tank Morchok and Kohcrom if Kohcrom can be immediately picked up once he is summoned. Because their mechanics are identical, it might also be possible for a 10-man all-hunter group to defeat the encounter using the principles I described above.

If an all-hunter group is not possible, bringing along two healers (one for each group) should suffice, with an even 5–5 group split between Morchok and Kohcrom.


Primal Leg Reinforcements

If you recently leveled leatherworking prior to Patch 5.0.4, you might want to check your recipe book again.

About two months ago I decided to drop one of my two gathering professions for a crafting profession. I decided then to choose the standard skinning–leatherworking combination to benefit from the extra agility in the bracer enchant.

However, I didn’t bother replacing [Dragonscale Leg Armor] with the leatherworking enchant because I had already been using the heroic Tier 13 leggings for quite some time. The enchant provided the same benefits of +190 Attack Power and +55 Critical Strike, so I skipped the extra effort and materials.

When I checked after the patch, however, the leatherworking enchant had been converted to Primal Leg Reinforcements, which provides +95 Agility and +55 Critical Strike. On the surface, it looks equivalent to the old version because, for hunters, 1 Agility is equivalent to 2 Ranged Attack Power.  However, the 95 Agility also provides some Critical Strike bonus, edging out the crafted leg armor in DPS value.

So if you haven’t already, switch your leggings enchant now. It will only cost you an easily obtainable Eternium Thread.


Hunters at the End of Cataclysm

Patch 5.0.4 information is everywhere, and it’s nearly impossible to include everything, so I will point you to Battle.net and MMO-Champion for a top-down view.

We have a month between patch 5.0.4 and Mists of Pandaria to analyze the effects of the new changes. I have never been an expert in analyzing things forward, so I will analyze what has already happened. How has Cataclysm been for hunters?

RaidBots began collecting combat log data since the last days of patch 4.0.6. Unfortunately, we don’t have much perspective from the early days of Cataclysm, but this will suffice.

From the data it collected, it is clear that Marksmanship dominated the combat logs for the majority of Cataclysm. It is also not a surprise for us now that Survival has been the dominant build on the raiding scene since Dragon Soul opened. What is surprising to me is how wide the DPS gap has become over the patches.

Balance is an abstract concept, but other patterns can point us to reasons why it is so hard to achieve. In an true environment of balanced talent builds, any hunter is free to choose his or her own build without impairing the ability to play the game. But what if that game is raiding? Then clearly a DPS gap indicates that the talent builds are in no way balanced. Moreover, a widening gap over a period of changes indicates that all attempts to balance the field have failed.

Patch 4.2 was seen as the nail on the coffin for Beast Mastery. It made the build’s viability in raiding worse, and Beast Masters began thinking they have really been neglected. Their nominal DPS did not reach the patch 4.1 peak until it had passed the middle of 4.2. Marksmen and Survivalists continued their steady upward climb.

I spoke about Survival’s silent comeback in patch 4.3 some time ago. It is obvious now that the comeback is not so silent. Survivalists came back with such a vengeance that the maximum hunter DPS was pushed higher until it reached a plateau of about 53,000. This is a 47 percent increase over the peak DPS in patch 4.2. No one would have foreseen in December.

Marksmen, on the other hand, suffered terribly. Their numbers dwindled, and hunters began switching their talent builds to Survival in droves. In the end, their final nominal DPS was only slightly higher than the patch 4.1 peak.

The surprise here is Beast Mastery. I had seen a small yet persistent group of Beast Mastery hunters continue with their talent build. They have continued against the odds and eventually overcame Marksmanship hunters in nominal DPS. The question, then, is what kept Beast Masters interested in their build that the Marksmen did not have in theirs?

Back in November, I pointed to a blue post on the official forums which should have indicated that the three talent builds are balanced. The story of the past nine months, however, have indicated otherwise. Assuming that Blizzard was correct, what changed the mathematics?

The answer should be player behavior. For reasons which I have yet to see articulated, hunters shunned the two talent builds which are not the top to a greater degree in patch 4.3. The fact that nominal DPS continued to rise steadily through patch 4.2 meant the ratio of players for each talent build and the rate at which they gained new gear remained constant. This status quo was thrown away when patch 4.3 arrived, and I have yet to rationalize how and why this happened.

We can assume that Blizzard already has this data because it constantly monitors players’ progress in the game. They may already have the answer to this puzzle, and if they do, I hope they will attempt to prevent this from repeating in Mists of Pandaria.


Mists of Pandaria Cinematic Trailer in Chinese

I’m sure you have all seen the Mists of Pandaria cinematic trailer countless times by now. Do you want to watch it again with a new perspective? I recommend watching it in Mandarin Chinese, whether or not you actually understand the language.

While you’re at it, why not watch the rest of the cinematic trailers in Chinese as well?

These are all from the Taiwan version of World of Warcraft.

My ears are already trained to recognize the sounds of the Chinese language, so these trailers are as epic to me as their English counterparts. One of the reasons I enjoy watching these is because the Chinese language has a way with words that make some statements carry deeper meanings. Tonal accents allow certain parts of statements to have greater emphasis in their message. This is true even for the Mists of Pandaria trailer.

For an expansion that encompasses all cultural aspects of the Sinosphere, it’s only natural that this one must be translated carefully into the Chinese language. Because certain aspects of Pandaren culture (e.g. balance and harmony) may have parallels with Sinic cultures, translations must be accurate so that they convey the appropriate meaning.

Personally, I would love to be able to play this expansion using a Chinese-language client to fully immerse myself in the environment.


Glyph Conversion in Mists of Pandaria

50 days! Are you ready? One of the upcoming changes in the Mists of Pandaria pre-launch patch is the glyph system. These are the general changes from the Public Test Realms (PTR):

  • Prime glyphs no longer exist. All prime glyphs have been converted to major and minor glyphs.
  • Currently, all glyphs require only level 25 to learn. This might only be for testing purposes and can change at launch.

Hunters will have a total of 35 glyphs in Mists of Pandaria, an increase from 31 in Cataclysm.

Cataclysm Type Mists of Pandaria
Glyph of Aimed Shot Prime → Minor Glyph of Aspects
Glyph of Arcane Shot Prime → Major Glyph of Camouflage
Glyph of Chimera Shot Prime → Major Glyph of Chimera Shot
Glyph of Explosive Shot Prime → Major Glyph of Tranquilizing Shot
Glyph of Kill Command Prime → Major Glyph of Mend Pet
Glyph of Kill Shot Prime → Minor Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah
Glyph of Rapid Fire Prime → Major Glyph of Pathfinding
Glyph of Serpent Sting Prime → Minor Glyph of Tame Beast
Glyph of Steady Shot Prime → Major Glyph of Scattering
Glyph of the Dazzled Prey Prime → Major Glyph of Animal Bond
Glyph of Bestial Wrath Major Glyph of Endless Wrath
Glyph of Concussive Shot Major Glyph of Distracting Shot
Glyph of Deterrence Major Glyph of Deterrence
Glyph of Disengage Major Glyph of Disengage
Glyph of Freezing Trap Major Glyph of Freezing Trap
Glyph of Ice Trap Major Glyph of Ice Trap
Glyph of Immolation Trap Major Glyph of Explosive Trap
Glyph of Master’s Call Major Glyph of Master’s Call
Glyph of Mending Major Glyph of Mending
Glyph of Misdirection Major Glyph of Misdirection
Glyph of Raptor Strike Major Glyph of Mirrored Blades
Glyph of Scatter Shot Major Glyph of Scatter Shot
Glyph of Silencing Shot Major Glyph of No Escape
Glyph of Snake Trap Major Glyph of Snake Trap
Glyph of Trap Launcher Major Glyph of Marked For Death
Glyph of Wyvern Sting Major Glyph of Icy Solace
Glyph of Aspect of the Pack Minor Glyph of Aspect of the Pack
Glyph of Feign Death Minor Glyph of Fireworks
Glyph of Lesser Proportion Minor Glyph of Lesser Proportion
Glyph of Revive Pet Minor Glyph of Revive Pet
Glyph of Scare Beast Minor Glyph of Stampede
None Minor Glyph of Aspect of the Beast
None Minor Glyph of Direction
None Minor Glyph of Fetch
None Minor Glyph of Marking

Four glyphs have new effects while keeping the same name.

  • Glyph of Chimera Shot
  • Glyph of Deterrence
  • Gylph of Disengage
  • Glyph of Snake Trap

Nine glyphs have not changed in their effects.

  • Glyph of Aspect of the Pack
  • Glyph of Freezing Trap
  • Glyph of Ice Trap
  • Glyph of Lesser Proportion
  • Glyph of Master’s Call
  • Glyph of Mending
  • Glyph of Misdirection
  • Glyph of Revive Pet
  • Glyph of Scatter Shot

The ten prime glyphs have been converted to seven major glyphs and three minor glyphs. With the addition of four new minor glyphs, Mists of Pandaria will have a total of 23 major glyphs and 12 minor glyphs.

Because the IDs of all old glyphs are being re-used, you will not have to re-learn the equivalent new glyph if you have learned the old version prior to the patch. You will, however, need to acquire the four new glyphs yourself.

For a similar chart of glyphs for other classes, check them out at The Stoppable Force.


The Week After

A week has gone by since the surprise announcement of Mists of Pandaria‘s release date. Momentum is slowly building toward the release, and one can definitely see the increasing urgency to wrap things up in Cataclysm.

On Friday, two days after the announcement, I finally achieved something I have never done before: complete an entire expansion’s worth of content while it is still current. Our 10-man raid defeated Heroic Madness of Deathwing for the first time, resulting in a spree of cheers and congratulations all-around. Coincidentally, our victory came exactly six months after we first defeated Madness of Deathwing in normal mode.

Although I started Cataclysm a month late, I worked through all of its raid contents while they were still relevant. Somehow I was entering newer content earlier and earlier, and by the time Dragon Soul hit, I was raiding regularly from the first weekend. I think last week’s announcement gave our raid team a real sense of urgency now that the end is in sight. We needed to finish this expansion after breaking our backs over Heroic Spine of Deathwing for three months.

It really is a strange feeling when I realize I have completed the Cataclysm expansion. A few elusive achievements remain, but this is the first time I can truly say that I’ve beaten World of Warcraft, at least for now. I can finally move on to the next chapter in the story. Thrall’s words in the original Mists of Pandaria preview really spoke to me because I have been there for all the previous events in Azeroth’s history and because I was also facing the Destroyer himself when the preview was released.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid all information from the beta, but I think I’ve read enough to interest me in the next expansion and yet haven’t spoiled myself too much to feel like I am stepping into content that I am already familiar with. I wanted my experience to be fresh and awe-inspiring, just like the moment I entered the portal into Outland, and just like the moment my ship entered the canyons of Howling Fjord.

Mists of Pandaria is personally exciting for me because it is based on a culture that is familiar to me. I can’t wait to see how Blizzard will be tying elements of Oriental cultures into the Warcraft universe. I am already impressed at the artistic elements which have been added into the beta. I anticipate I will be devouring as much of the new content as I can. Many people in the Western world only think of dragons, knights, and princesses when thinking of the fantasy genre. They do not realize that fantasy is also a vibrant genre in the East, filled with mysticism and legends. As a professional working in cultural competency and awareness, I am excited that World of Warcraft can become a platform for introducing new cultures to people.

If you told me two years ago that I would be able to reach the pinnacle of end-game content in this expansion, I would not have believed you. If you ask me now what I will have done at the end of Mists of Pandaria, I do not know. But I do want to know, thus when I set foot on Pandaria, I will open my eyes and ears to any opportunity that will allow me to immerse myself further in the contents of the game. I don’t know where the blog will go in the two years to come, but I hope you will let me take us on this new adventure together.


Mists of Pandaria: 9/25/2012

Available in Digital Deluxe Edition and Collector’s Edition


We interrupt this broadcast…

Image

…to show you the coolest non-hunter thing to drop on the PTR! It looks more gorgeous in person than in videos and screenshots. Trust me. This makes me want to finish leveling my druid for Mists.


That Kiril Moment

As many hunters (and druids) know, the proc effect of [Kiril, Fury of Beasts] actually causes some annoyances. For example, Bauxite of Aspect of the Dork had this to say about it over the weekend.

I went to do a Keepers of Time reputation run at Durnholde Keep on Saturday when Kiril decided to proc right before I entered the orc camp houses. Of course, I had to wait for the effect to wear off until I could fit into the doorway and set off the incendiary bombs.

Another moment is when I transformed into the Sandstone Drake right after Kiril proc’d and then realized I couldn’t fit through the open door in Corp’rethar: The Horror Gate. That was a bit silly.

I’m sure there are others who want to share their quirky Kiril stories with those who understand it best: fellow Kiril users. What’s your Kiril moment?


The Blue Child

There is a picture from an MMO Champion thread that making its rounds among lore enthusiasts.

As a Burning Crusade baby, I never realized that Azeroth once had two moons. The sky I have always seen in Azeroth is that with a single moon, the White Lady. However, the one pictured above, the Blue Child, will soon make its return in Mists of Pandaria. According to lore, the Blue Child was sent away by the Earthmother prior to the arrival of the Burning Legion. Its return now must mean that Azeroth is safe from the Burning Legion for now.

I’m still playing. Most of the time I will only log in for our weekly raids, in which we recently killed our fourth heroic boss, Warlord Zon’ozz. Aside from that, I’ve started doing a lot of PvP and gathering some gear for it. Continuous environment changes such as the one above is one of the reasons I will continue playing World of Warcraft as long as I can because even older continents get some love in the newest expansions.


That Lame Duck Period

For some reason, the new year has brought a “lame duck” aura over Cataclysm, where we are just waiting for the release of the next expansion. This is actually the first time that I have cleared raid content for an expansion while it is current. Loronar, Destroyer’s End, killed Deathwing two weekends ago. Now I’m beginning to focus on my somewhat neglected alts to see if I can get them to 85 before the next expansion.

Cataclysm moved surprisingly fast. The final raid content was released within one year of the expansion’s release, staying true to Blizzard’s commitment at quicker expansion releases in the future.

This may be somewhat concerning for casual players because they may feel that game content is moving at a much faster pace than they can keep up with. Even I’m still trying to catch up on finishing the Argent Tournament. The speed of this expansion really hit me when I realized I can remember last year’s Lunar Festival like it were yesterday.

So what does a hunter do at end of his hunting season? I don’t intend on hanging up my weapon anytime soon, but perhaps putting more time into those neglected alts of other classes will continue to bring new perspectives into how to improve my hunter gamelay.

What will you do?


Survival’s Silent Comeback

It probably says something when six of the top ten Alliance hunters on my realm is raiding as Survival over Marksmanship. Here is how the rankings look as of this morning.

WoW Heroes is a quick way to check realm rankings because it can quickly parse guild rosters according to specific classes, so all I needed to do was update the hunter rosters of the Alliance guilds that have entered Dragon Soul on Eredar by cross-checking with WoW Progress.

Incidentally, I am ranked 22nd as of this posting as Survival. The first Beast Mastery hunter appears in 26th place. This is a marked difference compared to just a few months ago when as many as nine out of ten were Marksmanship.

RaidBots is reporting as of this morning that in the top 100 normal 25-man combat log parses, Survival median DPS is dead even with Marksmanship at just over 35,000. Although 25-man raiding is where groundbreaking progression is usually made, one should not ignore 10-man raiding data. RaidBots reports that in the top 100 normal 10-man combat log parses, Survival median DPS exceeds Marksmanship by over 1,000 — at 30,000 to 28,800. Beast Mastery median DPS rounds out the normal 25-man data at 30,600 and 27,300 at normal 10-man.

But reading numbers don’t really mean anything. What conclusion can we draw from this?

The most important factor for a certain class/specialization combination to appear on these DPS aggregators is raid representation. If there are more people playing these specific combinations in the top 100 parses, the more accurate the sample will be and the higher that combination will place on the DPS rankings. RaidBots tells us just how accurate the sample representation is for these combinations.

At normal 25-man, Marksmanship appears in 1,068 samples; Survival appears in 986 samples; and Beast Mastery in 854 samples.

At normal 10-man, Marksmanship appears in 1,095 samples; Survival appears in 1,064 samples; and Beast Mastery in 881 samples.

Upon brief inspection of the ratio of samples for the respective raid compositions, one can estimate that Survival hunters are more likely to raid in 10-man rather than 25-man, even if only slightly. The increased representation of Survival hunters in 10-man raiding means they are also receiving more upgrades, pushing Survival median DPS higher and allowing it to exceed over Marksmanship.

Of course, there are still more people raiding as Marksmanship as can be seen from the sample sizes I previously mentioned. Why is Marksmanship median DPS not higher then?

The answer is because more top hunters are raiding as Survival over Marksmanship. For example, the Eredar realm ranking I initially posted in the beginning of this entry may not represent the entirety of the situation, and Marksmanship could still represent 60 percent of the population. But if the cream of the crop and those on the groundbreaking edge of progression are using Survival, its median DPS will skew toward a higher value.

Marksmanship may still exceed Survival DPS in theory according to ideal simulations, but live data show otherwise because of players’ behavior.


Speaking of Rage

On the first night that the second half of Dragon Soul opened up on Raid Finder, I was lucky enough to have the [Vishanka, Jaws of the Earth] drop for me. This meant I had access to the best-in-slot ranged weapon pre-progression raiding.

Of course, the purpose of this entry is not to brag. It is to investigate the proc damage that is done by this bow.

Your ranged attacks have a chance to deal 7040/7950/8970 damage over 2 sec.

The tooltip may lead you to believe that this is a static damage caused by the bow. This is, however, not the case because the damage is not physical damage, but magical damage. More specifically, it is fire damage.

It will appear in your combat logs as a buff called [Speaking of Rage].

Yesterday, <Dark Days> overcame the big stumbling block that was Ultraxion, with three healers even. As I’ve been logging (almost) all of our progression fights since the new patch dropped, I was able to get a sense of just how strong this weapon is. According to my combat log from the Ultraxion encounter, which is very static and has no movement involved, Speaking of Rage procced 16 times, accumulating to 160 ticks of fire damage.

This means every proc of Speaking of Rage produces 10 ticks of fire damage in just two seconds. Compare this to three ticks of fire damage per Explosive Shot in two seconds. Of course, the damage is less than than of Explosive Shot, but those are some very fast ticks.

Another detail you may observe is that ticks of Speaking of Rage can make critical hits. During this fight, 33 out of 160 ticks (20 percent) did critical damage to Ultraxion. While this may not be too surprising given previous behavior of the [Flaming Arrow] proc from the two-piece bonus of tier 12 armor, it is information that cannot be derived from the tooltip alone.

The final detail you may observe is that Speaking of Rage is hitting harder than it should in my case. With an average of 891.1 damage per tick, Speaking of Rage does 8911 damage per proc of the bow. Because I have been running Dragon Soul primarily as a Survival hunter, this is leading me to believe that mastery buffs the damage of Speaking of Rage.

So let’s do some mathematics.

With my mastery at 14.38 according to the Armory, it would have increased magical damage by 14.38 percent. Dividing the average damage value by the damage gain will provide me with the average base damage.

8911 ÷ 1.1438 ≈ 7791

This calculated base damage is still above the 7040 advertised by the tooltip, which leads to the conclusion that Speaking of Rage must have a damage range. As I did not have Recount running at the same time of the log, I was not able to determine this range at the time of writing.

However, if Speaking of Rage does indeed scale with Survival mastery as this preliminary data suggests, it could have an interesting implication where the bow can actually do more damage in the hands of a Survival hunter. Given equal gear and skill among three hunters utilizing the three different trees, Vishanka would have the best added value for the Survival hunter.


Pradzha of Piercing Shots on Twisted Nether Blogcast

If you are into podcasts and getting to know other hunter bloggers, I invite you to tune in to the Twisted Nether Blogcast tomorrow (Saturday) evening at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (UTC−8), or 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (UTC−5).

Pradzha (US-Thorium Brotherhood) of the hunter blog Piercing Shots will be this week’s guest. In his own words, “Piercing Shots is all about playing a PvE hunter, with no restriction on spec or level, although I do concentrate on end-game raiding.” Pradzha’s writing makes complex topics in the game easy to understand, from outlining the thought process to solve what I call Focus panic to analyzing top guild Paragon’s comments about haste.

I will be in the middle of a guild raid, but I will still be hanging out in chatroom with other members of the Blog Azeroth community. Join me in supporting this exemplary member of the hunters’ union.


The Bombardment Mess

On Tuesday, Blizzard reverted one change that had snuck into patch 4.3 without much notice from the hunter community.

Reverted a bug fix that caused Bombardment to be consumed by the next Multi-Shot. Fixing this bug proved to be a significant dps loss, so Bombardment once again lasts for its full 6 second duration regardless of the number of Multi-Shot casts. The tooltip will be updated in a future patch to reflect that this change is intended.

Why did this happen? Last Thursday, some time after the official patch, Blizzard snuck this addition onto the patch notes.

Bombardment now only affects the next Multi-shot cast.

If you don’t remember, Bombardment is a fourth-tier Marksmanship talent that reduces the focus cost of the next Multi-Shot by 50 percent when you critically hit with Multi-Shot. It sounds pretty straightforward right? Well, not quite.

Judging by the wording on the initial change in the 4.3 patch notes, the developers had not foreseen the current usage of Bombardment, where Marksmanship hunters would blow all their focus with sequential Multi-Shots, regenerate it with Steady Shot, and then repeat the process.

If one were to logically read the tooltip for Bombardment, it would be assumed that every Multi-Shot has a chance to proc the Bombardment effect. This meant that if it were to proc consecutively, one could fit in four Multi-Shots before depleting all 100 focus.

Multi-Shot (original, 40 focus)
Multi-Shot (Bombardment proc, 20 focus)
Multi-Shot (Bombardment proc, 20 focus)
Multi-Shot (Bombardment proc, 20 focus)

Apparently this was not Blizzard’s intention. They did not intend on allowing the reduced-focus Multi-Shot to proc Bombardment, meaning one could only fit in three Multi-Shots at maximum.

Multi-Shot (original, 40 focus)
Multi-Shot (Bombardment proc, 20 focus)
Multi-Shot (original reset, 40 focus)

Upon initial inspection, one would think this reduces DPS. Well, it did, so the change was reverted.

But the confusion doesn’t end there. Why mention a six-second duration? There was no indication whatsoever that Bombardment has such a duration. Although I don’t have a definite answer since I have been unable to test this, I have one speculation.

Under extreme haste conditions, one may be able to fit in as many as five Multi-Shots in a row because by the time you consume 100 focus for the initial four shots, you will have regained another 20 while under haste. Bombardment procs when Multi-Shot hits its targets, which is typically at the end of the first global cooldown. Spamming four more Multi-Shots that are all affected by Bombardment uses four 1.5-second global cooldowns, which total up to six seconds. This is the maximum duration of Bombardment because you would have to regain focus again after it is depleted by using Steady Shot.

Bombardment remains one of the least studied abilities of Marksmanship hunters, and there isn’t much data available on it at the moment. However, I don’t think this will be the last time we see its effect come into discussion because the ability will also feature as a Marksmanship passive ability in Mists of Pandaria as well.


Ultraxion in Numbers

Ultraxion will be a stumbling block for many guilds who don’t raid Heroic Firelands. It was for us on Saturday night. Our best attempt was 10 percent, and while we kept inching closer and pulling every trick up our sleeves, we conceded he was too much, at least for now.

Defeating Ultraxion is all about numbers. Can you put out enough damage in time to kill him? Can you heal enough before he enrages? Let’s take a look at the numbers for 10-man raiding.

56,688,720

Ultraxion’s health

6 minutes

Ultraxion’s hard enrage timer

5 minutes 30 seconds

Ultraxion’s approximate soft enrage timer

157,469

Raid DPS to beat hard enrage timer

171,784

Raid DPS to beat soft enrage timer

13,123

Average tank DPS to beat hard enrage timer

14,316

Average tank DPS to beat soft enrage timer

26,245

Average damage-dealer DPS to beat hard enrage timer

28,631

Average damage-dealer DPS to beat soft enrage timer

The assumption is that the DPS value of a tank is on average one-half of the DPS value of a damage-dealing class, using two tanks, five damage-dealers, and three healers for the standard 10-man raid composition.

Actual 25-man Dragon Soul for <Dark Days> begins this Friday. If you are looking to transfer realms, why not choose Eredar and join us on the Alliance side? We are looking for competent and experienced DPS and a few more healers.


Some Observations from Dragon Soul

<Dark Days> tried its luck with 10-man Dragon Soul on Tuesday night, though we only had time to kill Morchok. Color combinations on Yor’sahj were not in our favor that night, and we had skipped Warlord Zon’ozz, so we’re only 1/8 before we head into 25-man this weekend (at least that’s the plan right now as far as I’m aware).

However, I decided to go back in a couple more times through the raid finder to see how I could improve my hunter progression raiding. I’ve made a couple of observations for the first four bosses, which could be helpful if you often “spec dance” (as opposed to an “aspect dance”).

Morchok (and trash)

  • Boulder Smashes from Earthen Destroyers are hard to see sometimes, especially since they are swirling white things on the pale blue snow. Keep on your feet. It probably doesn’t hurt much to just be on Aspect of the Fox and run around, especially if you’re pulling two of these at the same time.
  • There aren’t many trash mobs before Morchok, so Marksmanship or Beast Mastery might be a better choice than Survival here.
  • As a single target fight, Morchok is more favorable for Marksmanship and Beast Mastery. If you are assigned as someone who has to take a Resonating Crystal, being in Survival will hurt because as you are moving around from crystal to crystal, you won’t have the extra Cobra Shot crit from Sniper Training often.
  • Remember that you can position yourself during Black Blood of the Earth such that you can still shoot while behind a shards.

Warlord Zon’ozz (and trash)

  • Once again, trash mobs favor Marksmanship and Beast Mastery because they’re static and are spread apart, so you won’t be able to do much area damage.
  • Marksmanship may be the favored talent choice for this fight because of the shorter Rapid Fire cooldown, so you can activate it every time Zon’ozz goes into his diffused phase. If Rapid Fire is not ready by then, you still have Readiness.

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping (and trash)

  • Survival is nice for the trash here since every pack of three globules are close together, and area damage can probably help kill them faster.
  • For Yor’sahj himself, you’d probably want to go Marksmanship or Beast Mastery. When the globules form, I often use an Aimed Shot to open as Marksmanship since it can drop the globules’ health a couple of percentage points immediately after they spawn, especially with Careful Aim in effect. This should make killing your globule faster. Beast Mastery could probably use Bestial Wrath when it’s off cooldown to help as well. The amount of movement also makes this fight unfavorable for Survival in my opinion.
  • If you get a black globule, put down and Explosive Trap on his feet. It will help with killing the additional mobs faster.

Hagara the Stormbinder (and trash)

  • Obviously Survival will shine during Hagara’s trash because there are so many of them.
  • Hagara herself is another story, however, as I think Marksmanship would be the most viable talent of choice for the fight. For some reason, my pet always dies during the storm phase when everyone is trying to connect the Lightning Conduit. At this point, I’m going to assume that pets themselves can act as a conduit, so they’re also conducting and taking damage but not receiving enough heals from just Mend Pet. I’ve not tried if Beast Mastery pets can survive this phase, but I think the amount of target switching in this fight makes the talent a less favorable choice anyway. Once again, more movement also means less time spent with Sniper Training active as Survival.

None of these observations have any scientific backing to them. They are just my gut feeling, but feel free to let me know other hunter pointers or observations any of you have made.


Hunter Gear in 4.3 Caverns of Time Heroic Dungeons

While everyone will have their eyes on Dragon Soul, Raid Finder, and their shiny gear drops, hunters should not forget that upgrades are also available from the new Caverns of Time heroic dungeons for those who were not able to obtain 378 item level gear from Firelands.

Caverns of Time: End of Time

Caverns of Time: Well of Eternity

Caverns of Time: Hour of Twilight


Dawn of Twilight

Patch 4.3 arrives. It has been 22 weeks since our last content update, and 51 weeks (almost one year) since the release of Cataclysm. This is the mother of all patches because:

Our intent is to start acting even more on our Mists of Pandaria philosophies of encouraging players to approach the content they want to, how they want to, and be able to work toward meaningful player progression.

That statement is a side commentary that accompanied yesterday’s announcement about Conquest point reward changes. All the changes in 4.3 are pointing toward the envisioned gaming philosophy for the next expansion.

Changes for hunters primarily come from buffing the Beast Mastery and Survival talent trees. It appears that the changes to Focus Fire and T.N.T. never made it to the official patch notes that was posted before the entire Battle.net site went down for maintenance. For now, I will mark them as undocumented until they have been confirmed in-game.

Beast Mastery

  • Animal Handler now increases Attack Power by 30%, up from 25%.
  • Focus Fire now lasts 20 sec, up from 15 sec. (Undocumented)
  • Widow Venom now reduces the target’s healing received by 25%, up from 10%.

Survival

  • Explosive Shot damage has been increased by 15%.
  • T.N.T. now has a 10/20% chance to proc, up from 6/12%. (Undocumented)

Pets

  • Burrow Attack (Worm ability) now does approximately 20% more damage, and has an increased area of effect.
  • Froststorm Breath (Chimera ability) now does approximately 20% more damage, and has an increased area of effect.
  • Monstrous Bite (Devilsaur ability) now reduces the target’s healing received by 25%, up from 10%.

Although there were no changes planned for Marksmanship (which indicates just how strong the tree is already), there is a puzzling change that affected Marksmanship’s Trueshot Aura buff. Results are still inconclusive as to how this affects the DPS balance between hunters and other melee classes.

All raid and party buffs which grant group members 10% increased attack power have been changed slightly. They continue to provide 10% increased ranged attack power, but now provide 20% increased melee attack power.

  • Trueshot Aura: The melee attack power bonus from this raid buff has been increased to 20%, up from 10%. The ranged attack power bonus remains 10%.

If you are part of a progression raiding guild, it’s time to dust off that guild standard because it’s gotten a bit more useful.

Guild Standards are again useable in Firelands. Duration has been increased to 15 minutes, the effect has a 100 yard radius, and now affects dead players.

For the rest of the patch notes, visit the Battle.net blog entry.

What is the first thing on your to-do list when the realms go live? I’m going to transmogrify my ranged weapon to the classic [Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix].


Thank You, and an Invitation

Today’s entry is brought to you by the 2011 Blog Azeroth Thanksgiving Event. Please support other bloggers participating in this event, as well as other members of the Blog Azeroth community.

Blog Azeroth Thanksgiving Event 2011Giving thanks sometimes can feel like a very superficial thing these days. We thank others when they congratulate us after earning an achievement. We thank raid leaders when they loot us that shiny epic we really need to increase our just-as-superficial item level. We thank our random party members for finishing a dungeon run without any problems. We thank our new friends and colleagues when we join a new guild. World of Warcraft bloggers thank each other for commenting on our posts, sending in e-mails, and listening to our podcasts.

Even so, allow me to say once more. Thank you.

When I returned to the game a year ago, the hunter blogging landscape had completely changed. All of the familiar faces of hunter blogging from Burning Crusade were nowhere to be found. I had to relearn my way through the community again to pick up where I left off. Of course, the friendly faces of the Twisted Nether Blogcast did not change much.

To be honest, I was at first skeptical with the presence of the new hunters on the block like Frostheim and Euripides. Over time, I realized the dedication they have to the hunter community. Although Warcraft Hunters Union has become a powerhouse, Frostheim wants the rest of the hunter blogging community to thrive as well. Maintaining both OutDPS and Hunting Party Podcast must be a good amount of work for Euripides.

There are also those who are up-and-coming bloggers who may never reach the same fame among the average players, but their contributions to the blogging community have also been invaluable with thought-provoking observations and comments. A simple thank you to Dakona, Durendil, Faeldray, Garwulf, Gavendo, Jcsway, Laeleiweyn, Lyraat, Morynne, Peregrina, Phyllixia, Quori, and Zanbon just for your writing. This list is as exhaustive as my reach can be, but don’t feel left out if your name hasn’t reached my ear yet. If you keep writing, it will in due time.

But Thanksgiving is not just about thanking; I would also like to give back.

I realize there isn’t much I can do personally as an individual, but I would like to get to know my readers and other bloggers better. If you are interested in connecting, I would like to add you as a friend on Real ID.

This means, if you are an Alliance player, I am willing to utilize the cross-realm party function and run dungeons with you. Sometimes connectivity is the best form of support among bloggers, and if we aren’t glued to our own blogs, we are usually glued to our characters. I’ve always believed that the best way to get to know World of Warcraft bloggers is to observe them in their own environment, which is why a long time ago I visited Pike on her home realm. Even if you are a Horde player or a non-hunter or a non-blogger, you are welcome in my circle as well.

While this is an open invitation, understand also that there is a certain level of privacy that should be observed connecting with people who are previously strangers. I hope all of you know how to respect this.

With that said, feel free to send an e-mail with your information to 35yards [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will reply when I’ve added you as a friend in-game. Thank you in advance if you are accepting my invitation. Even if you won’t accept it, I still thank you for supporting the community by reading this post.


Observations of Hunter Spells in Mists of Pandaria

There’s something about having an official talent calculator available for us to play with to prepare for a new expansion that makes people want to try out potential builds for Mists of Pandaria. While talents are the meat of this new content, looking at hunter spells is also important because this is a dramatic change of the old game philosophy where you learn your abilities from your talent tree when you are building it.

  • The first thing you will and should notice are the passive weapon skills. The tooltip on this passive trait has been reworded from the current version in Cataclysm. Instead of saying that hunters can use certain melee weapons, the new version states that “hunters perform best” using ranged weapons. Additionally, they will be able to equip axes, daggers, fist weapons, polearms, staves, and swords. This clears up any and all misconception about the removal of the ranged weapon slot. What will actually happen is that all classes will see their third weapon slot (currently used for ranged weapons, relics, librams, idols, etc.) removed. Specifically for hunters, our ranged weapons will become two-handed weapons much like the way we use staves and polearms today.
  • Something we usually take for granted at level 85 is Mail Specialization. This is currently acquired at level 50, a ten-level gap between the time you are able to train wearing mail armor and the time you acquire this passive trait. That means if you are able to obtain a full mail armor set prior to level 50, you receive no benefit from it. In Mists of Pandaria, this armor specialization is automatically given to you at level one. Oddly enough, you still cannot wear mail armor until level 40.
  • Another curious implementation is the Focused Aim passive trait, which reduces pushback while casting Steady Shot or Cobra Shot by 70 percent, given at level one. Why reduce something if you don’t get a chance to experience the non-reduced deficit in the beginning?

Now let’s look at the class-specific spells.

  • Noticeably absent from the Beast Mastery spellbook is the Ferocious Inspiration raid buff. There has been no indication as to where this has gone, especially when Trueshot Aura and Hunting Party remain available to Marksmanship and Survival hunters.
  • It’s nice to see situational talents like Concussive Barrage from Marksmansip and Entrapment from Survival make it into their respective spellbooks.
  • Another noticeable change is that Careful Aim will be now an exclusively Marksmanship hunter trait and thus no longer provides any benefit for Cobra Shot.
  • For Marksmanship hunters specifically, it appears Improved Steady Shot will disappear for good, allowing for a less rigid shot rotation than the one we are currently forced to employ.

Do you have any favorite spells that missed the cut? Unfortunately, we still won’t be getting Eyes of the Beast back. Next week will be a special presentation as we explore the new talent tree tier-by-tier from every day from Monday to Saturday.


Chuck Norris, Hunter?

As of yesterday, hunters around the world gained themselves a new mascot: Chuck Norris. In a cryptic narration, the announcer explains that despite being a hunter, he does not hunt because “hunting would imply the possibility of failure”. One has to wonder why hunting would even imply something like that.

Blizzard unveiled the newest of its “What’s your game?” line of advertisements yesterday afternoon on U.S. national television. Because it also aired during a major sports event, it is assumed that millions of viewers across the country watched the commercial. I’m sure this is a strategic move because it provides maximum exposure on a weekend when many families are considering gifts for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The message from this advertisement takes a different approach from the older members of the line because Norris generally has a more respectable image compared to previously featured celebrities like Mr. T and Ozzy Osbourne.

Real-life implications and Chuck Norris “facts” aside, the advertisement itself does not accurately portray hunters very well, but it can also show a potential direction for us as well. The developers of the game began shifting the class away from melee abilities after Burning Crusade with the removal of many melee talents from the Survival tree. This led to the demise of many melee hunter experiments, including the highly publicized blog of Gweryc Halfhand from that expansion. With Mists of Pandaria fast approaching and talent trees redesigned once again, will there be an opportunity for the return of melee hunters?

There is a bright side to Norris’s portrayal of hunters. His white tiger pet, one of the most unique cat skins in the game, is depicted as a comrade whom Norris can trust to protect his back. This reinforces the image that hunter pets are not merely tools but also lifelong friends.

What do you think of Chuck Norris’s portrayal of hunters?


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