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.

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?

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.

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

Cataclysm Ranged Weapons: Review and Preview

This morning’s update on MMO-Champion included the latest addition of weapons added to the Firelands loot, which includes an epic 384-item-level bow. This means tier 12 content will see one of each type of ranged weapon being added. However, that doesn’t actually change the balance of ranged weapons currently in place in Cataclysm.

Let’s take a look at all ranged weapons with item level 333 and above. Notice also that we have a throat needler, a chicken splitter, and a hole puncher. What silly name will the developers come up with next?

Bows

Bows are the most abundant ranged weapon in Cataclysm, with almost as many bows as there are crossbows and guns combined. Many players seeking to enter heroic dungeons start out with a bow. Soon, the new Zul’Gurub bow will replace the varying 346-item-level weapons as the new standard for entering raids. Don’t we have too many bows already? Moreover, Arathar will be the new best-in-slot weapon for tier 12 raiding.

Crossbows

So far, crossbows remain limited in this expansion, with only three weapons on live and one in development. They are also more difficult to obtain for the casual player because one cannot simply enter heroic dungeons daily for that drop. The three crossbows listed here are created by engineering, bought with Tol Barad Commendations, and drops from a raid boss. Granted, Dragonheart Piercer is a best-in-slot item for tier 11 raids, but that’s only a single crossbow.

Guns

While it is true that no epic level gun has yet appeared in game, guns are actually just about as rare as crossbows in Cataclysm, with only three available on live and one in development. At the very least, one can easily enter Vortex Pinnacle every day to get a decent gun, unlike crossbows. As much we like the addition of the new gun in the 4.2, we’ve also come to realize that it is only the new superior level weapon and doesn’t compare to anything that drops in Firelands.

Scopes

It has been pointed out that [Flintlocke's Woodchucker] is an homage to a series of webcomic strips from 2008 that make up Episode 7 of Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth. It explains why not many people understand the reference because the golden days of WoW webcomics and blogging have ended. If you would like to compare how the new scope holds out against the [Gnomish X-Ray Scope], head over to Rapid Fire to see the mathematical comparison.

Hunter Enchantments with Maelstrom Crystals

With the arrival of patch 4.1, [Maelstrom Crystal]s are now more easily accessible to the common hunter. This, in turn, provides hunters seeking to enter raids with more access to upper-level enchants that previous were reserved for the best endgame raiders. Some of these options will be vastly superior to their predecessors, while others may only be marginally better.

Boots

The best enchantment available for hunter boots is obivously [Major Agility], which provides an additional 35 Agility. However, those interested in more mobility (perhaps for PvP situations), [Assassin's Step] is now available at a more affordable price. It provides 25 Agility and slightly increases movement speed.

Bracer

Hunters who are also leatherworkers benefit from [Draconic Embossment - Agility], which provides a whopping 130 Agility. For the less fortunate, we usually use [Critical Strike] (50 critical strike rating), [Speed] (50 haste rating), or [Precision] (50 hit rating). Maelstrom Crystals give us access to three additional enchantments: [Agility] (50 Agility), [Greater Critical Strike] (65 critical strike rating), and [Greater Speed] (65 haste rating).

Chest

Like our boots, our chest piece usually only has one option for an enchantment: [Mighty Stats] (15 all stats). Maelstrom Crystals give us access to the more rare [Peerless Stats] (20 all stats).

Cloak

While the cloak enchant [Critical Strike] (50 critical strike rating) is the most recent enchantment added in Cataclysm, many hunters opt to use the older [Major Agility] (22 Agility) as it provides a more direct effect to one’s DPS numbers. The new crystals will provide a significant boost to the current enchantment by making available [Greater Critical Strike] (65 critical strike rating).

Gloves

Cataclysm hunters lament at the lack of an Agility enchant for gloves and revert to using the older [Major Agility] (20 Agility). However, we are also presented with strong options for this expansion: [Haste] (50 haste rating) and [Mastery] (50 mastery rating). New epic enchantment materials give us access only to [Greater Mastery] (65 mastery rating) as an upgrade.

Not a Hunter Trinket

Dear inexperienced hunter,

I understand that you find it difficult to replace trinkets while leveling in Cataclysm. I had the same problem as well when I started the expansion. After all, it’s hard to let go of some of those nice trinkets you got from Icecrown Citadel.

When you started entering Cataclysm dungeons, you may have picked up [Grace of the Herald] from Blackrock Caverns. While it’s a good starter for hunters, don’t think the heroic equivalent is that good. You’ll eventually run into other items such as [Key to the Endless Chamber], [Schnott'z Medallion of Command], and [Blood-Soaked Ale Mug]. None of this, however, is as good as [Tia's Grace]. Even its name sounds deadly!

You’re lucky if you can find [Heart of the Vile] early on, but if you’re not, don’t settle for a cop out like [Left Eye of Rajh]. Using that and [Heart of Solace] will just make you a laughing stock. Do yourself a favor and get [Skardyn's Grace] instead. Now you’re all set and can start doing heroics to get the heroic version of those two trinkets.

Once you start accumulating valor points, do yourself a favor and buy [Fluid Death]. No, you may not have [Unheeded Warning] from the guild bank! If you’re that desperate, stop complaining about cost and spend that time collecting money for [Darkmoon Card: Hurricane]. Don’t even think about wasting commendations on [Unsolvable Riddle]. Your thinking of doing that is a riddle itself. Only once you get [Essence of the Cyclone], will you be all set.

And for the love of Elune, why are you wearing an [Elementium Moebius Band]?

Studying Sockets

When armor and weapons with gem sockets were first introduced in Burning Crusade, they were an entirely new concept. For the first time, players could customize the statistical priorities of their character. Customization eventually gave rise to what we know today as theorycrafting, a study of how to best optimize the numbers that form your character’s statistics. This was further enhanced through the introduction of reforging in Cataclysm.

Gem Variety

Today, we look at some of the basic things to look for when socketing your armor with gems. There are seven types of gems in the game, six of which represent each portion of a color wheel. The final gem is called a meta gem and can only be activated if certain colored gems are already socketed in your gear. For hunters, here are the gems that are of interest (but not necessarily optimal) for hunters:

Although there are six gem colors, there are only three socket colors: red, blue, and yellow. The three secondary colors (which are combinations of the primary three) can be socketed in either of its primary color sockets. For example, a green gem can be placed in either a blue or yellow socket.

As mentioned above, there are also meta gems that can be activated if you have certain colored gems socketed in your gear. Meta gems of interest for hunters are:

Meta gems are currently only used on endgame helm armor only. There is also a final type called the prismatic socket/gem, which means that it can be matched with any color that is available except for meta.

Optimizing and Maximizing Sockets

Each piece of armor or weapon with sockets have a certain socket bonus, a certain statistical value that will be added to your gear for having the correct color gem in the socket. For most people, the obvious choice would be to gem for the socket bonus. They would choose the color appropriate gem and balance the statistics on their character. However, this method of optimizing your sockets (by obtaining the socket bonus) doesn’t necessarily maximize their usage. A hunter’s gemming priority for calls for maximum Agility, our primary statistic.

In some cases, the optimum is better than the maximum, such as the [Windhome Helm], which has a meta socket and a yellow socket. One should not use the maximum agility gem in this case because of the socket bonus. Using the agility meta gem and a red gem will give you 94 agility from gemming alone. However, if an orange gem were used, the agility bonus from gemming increases to 104. Clearly, achieving the socket bonus is very important.

However, there are times when going for the maximum is better than achieving the optimum. When you look at the socket bonus of [Lightning-Charged Legguards], 20 additional agility is very appealing. Unfortunately, it uses two yellow sockets. If one were to use two orange gems, the total agility gained from gemming is only 60. Compare this to using two red gems, which provides a total of 80 additional agility. Achieving a socket bonus is not important in this case.

There are also rare cases when the optimum case is also the maximum. This is true for [Voltage Source Chestguard] and [Tunic of Failed Experiments], both of which have a red and a blue socket. When using a red and a purple gem, the total agility gained from achieving the socket bonus is equivalent to using two red gems and not achieving the bonus. The upside to using the blue socket goes back to the idea of customization. By playing around with reforging and gems, you can find a hit rating that is the closest to the cap value of 961. If you are already at cap, you can use a different purple gem that provides a stamina bonus instead.

A Note on Theorycrafting

Although customization allows the hunter to freely socketed gems, most of the gems listed above will never be used by hunters because they do not provide the greatest boost in DPS. Current gemming preference indicates that crit gems are more attractive than haste gems, which in turn are more attractive than mastery gems. As such, the orange agility/crit gem is often seen on hunters.

However, one could also say that hunters are often expected to be updated on their theorycrafting, thus everyone is merely following everyone else and not actually analyzing what gems are better suited for them.

Stifling Progression or Sustaining Progress?

Within the first week of Cataclysm‘s release, bloggers and podcasters alike have been raising a topic that no one would have seen coming in the days of Burning Crusade and vanilla. It seems Blizzard now has a tendency to put a cap on one’s ability to move forward within the game, whether it be high-end dungeons or guild leveling.

Larísa at The Pink Pigtail Inn raised the issue of using Item Level to prevent players from entering high-end dungeons. I first noticed this when I hit level 80 on the hunter and yet was not able to use Random Dungeon to enter the Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons because my average Item Level was too low. While I understand Blizzard is using this to control the number of undergeared players from ruining others’ experience in high-end content, I believe the absolute Item Level threshold is somewhat unreasonable. A player’s skill cannot be judged by the Item Level he or she wears. An undergeared player may also have the most to gain from the rewards of these dungeons.

At the most recent All Things Azeroth podcast, Shade revisited the method of “gating” to one’s progression in dungeons and equated this to the current system of guild leveling and guild reputation. She estimated that for the most active guilds, players would reach exalted status at the same time that their guilds reach level 25, which amounts to over 4 months. Before we knew it, we were playing on Blizzard’s schedule instead of our own schedule.

One could speculate two ways as to why this is occurring. The first is that Blizzard wants to ensure that players go through as much content as possible before progressing instead of skipping around, giving way to content linearity. The second is that Blizzard is trying to sustain its player base instead of seeing people finishing as much content as possible in the least time possible, especially for those players who are accustomed to the becoming the “world firsts”, and then moving on to a different game. This is very possible in light of revelations that the subscriber base during Wrath never really moved much from the 11.5 million mark. New players roughly equaled outgoing players in the 25-month period of that expansion. I could even see this in the mass exodus of bloggers who had started writing in late 2008 only to quit the game by middle of the following year. Only on the eve of Cataclysm did the number finally break 12 million.

We may never know what is Blizzard’s true intention, but it is likely that these changes are here to stay until a newer system can take its place. Whether it is for better or for worse we have yet to find out.

Oh, and if you have not heard, Marksmanship has been dethroned; Survival is king now. We’ll talk hunters more another time.

Fighting For A Cause

Tuesday was Veterans’ Day in the United States. It’s a bit late, but I dedicate this entry to the veterans, not just in the military, but to those who have fought in the battlefields of Azeroth.

Tabards.

They are more than just ornaments for your armor.

At the end of Burning Crusade, the Shattered Sun Offensive tabard became widely popular. Some people like wearing it for the design. But for me, wearing that tabard meant something more. It was a sign that the races of Azeroth banded into one front against Kael’thas and Kil’jaeden to prevent the Burning Legion from returning to the world.

Suddenly, the importance of the guild tabard paled in comparison to the new cause we were fighting for. It was a sign that that I participated and lived to tell the tale of how Alliance and Horde worked together to build the Shattered Sun Offensive into a formidable fighting force.

The Shattered Sun tabards became somewhat of a symbol for those who were able to progress far enough to have contributed to the Offensive’s efforts. Remember when Patch 2.4 rolled around and transformed Shattrath into a staging ground for a full-scale assault? It is no more different that Patch 3.0.2 transforming the capital cities into staging grounds for Northrend.

Together, we ended the Burning Crusade.

Now, as I wait patiently for the next boat to carry me to the icy continent, I proudly wear the Argent Dawn tabard. It is in remembrance of the Scourge attacks on our cities and our people. It was a reward for helping the Argent Dawn rebuild its forces in preparation for an expedition to Northrend.

It is a promise and a commitment to fight for the good of all Azeroth and confront the Lich King and his forces in Northrend. We will take the Argent Crusade to the heart of Icecrown.

Arthas, we are coming for you.

Proof I Am A Pack Rat

I wrote up this post about a month ago, before Patch 3.0.2, so the some of the items in the bank and action bars don’t exist anymore. The main message of the post remains: I collect things.

Pike wanted to see our bank after showing hers. I guess there’s no harm in doing that. I think she had it easy though. So here it is with full bags open. If only you could see my bank alt. I keep a lot of junk on my main.

Bank Row 1

Bank Row 2

Bank Row 3

Bank Row 4

Bag Slot 1

This bag contains mostly gear. The most notable items in this bag are the 4 out of 5 pieces of Beast Lord Armor that I possess. I’m only missing the [Beast Lord Mantle].

Bag Slot 2

Tokens and tabards go into this bag. Battleground tokens, Halaa tokens, Honor Hold tokens, and turn-ins for Consortium, Kurenai, Ogri’la, and Netherwing reputation. The [Competitor's Tabard], [Green Trophy Tabard of the Illidari], [Tabard of the Summer Flames], and [Guild Tabard] are also in this bag.

Bag Slot 3

A bunch of things I find from fishing, bottled nethergon from Tempest Keep, Shattered Sun Offensive consumables, and a [Sundered Chrysoprase].

Bag Slot 4

Items I have used at one point or another to complete or as part of a quest. One example is the [Faded Photograph] that references the Legend of Zelda.

Bag Slot 5

Cooking materials. Some cooked, some uncooked.

Bag Slot 6

A bunch of random stuff from festivals and other toys. There are the only two pieces of resilience gear I have for PvP and fire resistance items. You can also see [Fists of Mukoa] and [Band of Devastation] from Black Temple, but I don’t find them as fitting for my current gear, hence they go in the bank.

Bag Slot 7

This bag contains most of the trinkets and interesting quest rewards I keep as trophies.

Are World Bosses Obsolete?

Doomwalker, Doom Lord Kazzak, Azuregos, Highlord Kruul, the Dragons of Nightmare.

World bosses of Outland and Azeroth.

These bosses, especially the dragons, were once critical components of the game. It was even featured in the first official screenshots of the game and on the game’s display boxes.

Sometime after Patch 2.4 was released, WowJutsu redesigned its boss progression scoring to remove Burning Crusade world bosses from the table. It was a sign that the game was moving away from the idea of world bosses are true signs of progression. I’ve actually not seen anyone try to kill either Kazzak or Doomwalker while I was in Outland.

However, I do wish that it was be just as easy to PuG for them just like Gruul and Magtheridon. Although they’ve been neglected, they still have a decent loot table. [Scaled Greaves of the Marksman] drops from Doom Lord Kazzak is a pretty nice pair of pants for pure DPS. The red gem slots are sure to satisfy any survival hunter who wants to maximize agility.

The famous [Barrel-Blade Longrifle], found from Doomwalker, is also one of the fastest epic ranged weapons. It was also considered one of the best hunter weapons in the early days of the Burning Crusade expansion.

Oddly enough, gear from these two world bosses have a high amount of gem sockets compared to gears from other bosses. It allows for more customizability for various classes.

Personally, I’d feel that a variety of raid boss encounters is necessary, so why not make world bosses more prominent in the game? I think the problem lies with the fact that if Blizzard were to make these bosses a requirement for progression, you would run into problems with groups camping these bosses. These would especially get hairy if both factions are waiting for the bosses. Raiders would effectively have to be on standby for these bosses to spawn.

The non-instanced nature of these boss encounters can also be a positive or a negative feature. Because they are not on a weekly timer, you can kill them as often as you’d like during the week. On the other hand, as I mentioned previously, you will have competition for spawn times of these bosses.

However, while there are negative side effects to the world boss encounters, they should still become a more integral part of the raiding scene. It provides variety and some fun to take away from the typical raiding scene.

We paid our respects all right. And Teron Gorefiend is dead on the floors of Black Temple. (You’ll see me on the right.)

The Hand of Fate kills Teron Gorefiend.

It was my first time taking part in a progression kill with my guild. It wasn’t too shabby either. We got him down on the third try, and I didn’t blow up the raid with constructs. The last time we were in here last week, I think I screwed up partially by just being a bit slow. This time, the raid just DPS’d away as I got the debuff. I didn’t even realize Gorefiend was down until everyone was yelling in chat and on Ventrilo because I was too focused on the constructs.

We walked away with [Shoulders of the Hidden Predator] from Shade of Akama and [Softstep Boots of Tracking] from Gorefiend himself.

I must say, there’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve taken part in a progression kill.

Blanking and Karathress

I’m blanking out. Not really sure what to post because I was out of town all weekend. Any ideas I might have had were erased while I was enjoying time off.

The guild went into Serpentshrine Cavern today so we can get the ball rolling on Black Temple attunements to get the shadow resistance neck piece. We downed Hydross, Lurker Below, and Leotheras without much problem. Karathress took 5 tries, unfortunately, due to blunders and mistakes. We walked out with [Ring of Lethality], our first upgrade from 25-man content!

Next week we’ll be going into Tempest Keep with our sights set on Al’ar. Here’s to hoping that [Arcanite Steam-Pistol] and/or [Talon of Al'ar] drop. Marksmanship hunter beauties. If we decide to go to Void Reaver as well, I hope the tier 5 shoulder token drops. :-)

Tweaking for Raiding: 7/45/9

A bit over a week ago, I respecced from my solo/grouping spec into a full raiding spec because I’ve been doing a lot more raids lately. However, it wasn’t to the spec I previously recommended.

I’ve made several adjustments to the original build based on several considerations and made the following changes:

• Stamina and Health. Looking at all the hunters I raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep with, they have at least 9000 health. I had just over 8100. The problem is, I don’t PvP, so it’s unlikely I would reach that mark without some help. After reviewing Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Haste for marksmen, I decided to drop it for Endurance Training.
• Utility. I’ve noticed not many Beast Mastery hunters pick up Improved Hunter’s Mark, so we’ve taken things into our own hands and picked it up. (You win, Lienna.)
• Mana Efficiency. I’ve come to realize that without Efficiency, Improved Arcane Shot would consume too much mana too fast. Therefore, we’ve dropped the talent in favor of better talents.
• Downtime Management. Rapid Killing helps me manage my DPS downtime better. I’m more aware now how much time I spent repositioning and will try to start shooting before the buff ends after killing a mob.

Some preliminary results, based on several raid encounters over the past week and a half.

• Extended survivability, given full awareness of the surrounding environment, observed at Archimonde in Hyjal Summit. Most attempts, I was one the last standing after Soul Charges because I am now also over 10,000 health when fully raid buffed.
• In a melee heavy group, Improved Hunter’s Mark adds to expediency of a boss fight, observed at Maiden of Virtue in Karazhan. 3 melee players and 3 hunter pets. A fight that lasted 1 minute and 50 seconds.
• Multi-Shot does considerably more damage then Arcane Shot due to Barrage and Improved Barrage, recorded at Hydross the Unstable in Serpentshrine Cavern. 15% of damage recorded is from Multi-Shot, while 11% is from Arcane Shot, with Multi-Shot producing a critical strike 38% of the time I used the ability.
• Pet damage contribution increased by 50% after taking up Go for the Throat. Comparison between fighting Gruul the Dragonkiller and Hydross the Unstable.
• After taking up Rapid Killing, I recorded 100% activity time against trash mobs in Tempest Keep. There is no point in time during the raid when I did not contribute something.

I’m satisfied for now with my current build. Perhaps if the circumstances change, I will respec again. The Marksmanship tree is fluid and always changing according to circumstances.

How many of you have seen [Talon of Al'ar] drop in Tempest Keep? I’ve been looking at it all day and thinking how awesome it would be for a Marksmanship rotation. My guild has never seen it drop, but we are going back in again next month for Black Temple attunements. So now I’m hoping it will drop.

Haste: A Balancing Act

If you remember hunter gear before Patch 2.4, you may recall that there were very few Haste gear pieces available for us. In general, many of these Haste items are now available from the new Shattered Sun badge vendor, from Magister’s Terrace, and from Sunwell Plateau.

If you’ve read Howitzer’s guide to marksmanship hunters, you might notice that he strongly shies away from Haste rating. Why is this so? Feanoro from Trueshot Aura can explain Haste mechanics and how it factors into the 1:1.5 marksmanship shot rotation. Because by the time your hunter is level 70 you will be using a quiver or ammunition pouch with 15% increased weapon speed, a marksman’s attack speed is cutting very close to the optimal attack speed for a 1:1.5 shot rotation.

In considering some of my gear choices, I’ve decided to stay away from two things:

1. Patch 2.4 Haste gear, and
2. Ranged weapons with less than 2.90 attack speed.

These two considerations go hand-in-hand. If you’ve done theorycrafting, you will know that the formula for actual attack speed is:

$\mbox{Attack Speed} = \frac{\mbox{Weapon Speed}}{\displaystyle \prod_{n} (1 + \mbox{Haste Pct}_n)} \times \frac{\displaystyle 1}{\displaystyle 1 + \frac{\sum_{n} \mbox{Haste Rtg}_n}{1570}}$

(LaTeX is awesome. Can you tell I’m an enginerd?)

Without any haste gear, you may drop the second term in its entirety. This leaves you with only the first term taking into account any skill-based attack speed increases such as quiver/ammo pouch effects, Rapid Fire, Quick Shots, etc. If you are using a 2.90 weapon, you will find that your attack speed is approximately 2.52 with a quiver or ammo pouch that provides 15% increased speed. Using a 3.00 weapon, this number is approximately 2.60.

With the proc from Improved Aspect of the Hawk, you are reduced to 2.19 and 2.27, respectively. The faster you shoot, the harder it is to keep a 1:1.5 shot rotation. This is why I’ve considered taking the 5 points from this talent in the Beast Mastery tree and putting it into Endurance Training instead for raids. (Readers: Good idea or no?)

Although the 1:1 rotation does fine to keep up with our DPS when we are low on mana, we can’t always tell when the Quick Shots proc will kick in. It’s best that we are able to control ourselves by using Rapid Fire or through the use of [Abacus of Violent Odds].

I’m not saying Haste is bad. As a matter of fact, hunters who use a fast shot rotation will benefit from it. But if you are a marksman, you’re sacrificing the ability to use the damage dealing special shots that we specialize in. We want to be able to minimize this as much as possible and to control our environment.

So what does this mean? No [Crossbow of Relentless Strikes] and its 2.80 attack speed, at least for now. Choose [Tunic of the Ranger Lord] over [Hauberk of the War Bringer]. Sure, Heroic Magister’s Terrace is more a pain than normal, but it’s better for you in the long run. A lot of these new itemizations will benefit the beast master more through their fast rotation and 2.0 attack speeds. There are many, better items for marksmen (especially since Intellect also adds to our attack power).

Use Haste at your own discretion. There technically is no wrong way to do it. You just need to be aware of what it does.

Frenzy No More

Remember what Tranquilizing Shot does?

Well, now I do. This seemingly useless special shot “attempts to remove 1 Frenzy effect from target”. What’s Frenzy you ask? Frenzy is different from Enrage in that it increases attack speed, not the attack power or damage.

This past weekend, I had to use it more times than I ever used it in an entire year. Tranquilizing Shot was mostly used in endgame instances in pre-BC, so you really wouldn’t get to see the use of it until you start doing upper level Outland instances.

Zul’Aman was where I used it first. One of our guild tanks was nice enough to put together a run for those who wanted to see the instance but can never get into the weekly speed runs. Unfortunately, we missed the timer on Nalorakk because one person disconnected from a power surge, and another got lost on the way back from resurrection. I also had to learn how to pull the Amani Tempest using me pet so that the Akil’zon gauntlet would stop coming. We 2-shot both bosses and made progress by learning slowly, especially since it was my first time there.

Halazzi was where Tranquilizing Shot was needed. In one of the shapes he shifts into, he goes into Frenzy every so often, and you would have to tranquilize him. We would have had him on the third try, but it was getting late on Sunday night, so we called it.

I picked up [Akil'zon's Talonblade] out of the run.

Yesterday, I went to Heroic Black Morass for the first time. I had been responsible for adds on normal mode before, but I’ve never done it on heroic. Fortunately, there was no big difference except that the waves of dragonkin had more health. We barely made each rift keeper after finishing adds.  In this instance, Tranquilizing Shot is used on the last boss Aeonus. I actually had completely forgotten about him even though I’ve read about it before. Fortunately, the raid warning called out a frenzy alert.

I’ve never tried the shot on a Beast Master’s pet that has Frenzy active, but it should work.

So the bottom line is, Tranquilizing Shot is highly situational. More often than not, you won’t use it, but try to keep in the back of your head when you can use it.

No Screenshots, But It Happened!

First of all, welcome to those who are visiting from Mania’s Arcania. We hope you will find interesting information about Marksmanship hunters and other hunter quirks.

Now, moving on. There’s a saying “Screenshot, or it didn’t happen.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a screenshot, but it did happen. For once, Alliance forces completely demolished the Horde in Arathi Basin. That battleground has grown on me. I like it more than any of the other battlegrounds. There’s a lot of action regardless if you’re winning or losing.

Alliance went out to claim the Stables, Blacksmith, and Mine in the beginning. Horde forces claimed the Farm and Lumber Mill and then moved on to attack the Stables. Some calls were made early to leave the Stables for the taking, and Alliance moved on to the Lumber Mill. In the meantime, I helped defend the Mine with a shaman and held off several attacks.

Lumber Mill fell, then Alliance assaulted the Farm while the Horde assaulted the Blacksmith. The Alliance assault was successful, while the Horde failed their mission. In the last minute of the match, Alliance retook the Stables and capped all five flag points before we were declared victors. It was the most amazing battleground victory I’ve ever seen. I don’t even think there were any premades on the Alliance side. I didn’t even die once.

We got into a Karazhan badge run yesterday and managed to get just enough badges for [Gauntlets of Rapidity].

I’ve neglected to voice my endorsement for the Twisted Nether blogcast, hosted by Fimlys of Asleep at the WoW and Breana of Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick. It’s the hottest podcast of the Blog Azeroth community! Episode 5 is now live with Pike from Aspect of the Hare as their guest. I’ve also been helping them with setting up the Twisted Nether Wiki.

Kael’thas Smacking

Over the weekend, I decided to splurge a bit and spend my newly acquired 100 badges on [Leggings of the Pursuit]. As far as I know, that thing is about T6 equivalent. It was the biggest upgrade for me, so I couldn’t resist. I’ll work my way back up to the 150 badges for [Crossbow of Relentless Strikes].

The gear-tastic weekend didn’t end there. I went into Heroic Hellfire Ramparts and Heroic Sethekk Halls. From Ramparts, [Valanos' Longbow] dropped, and [Leggings of Beast Mastery] dropped in Sethekk. Since I no longer had use of them, they went to a good hunter friend of mine. Two world drops in one day! I also picked up [Garona's Signet Ring] from Curator in our weekly Karazhan. We one-shotted everyone and finished in just over 2 hours.

Yesterday was Heroic Magisters’ Terrace daily, so I decided to hit up the LFG channel and see if anyone was interested. Several hours later, a rogue whispered me to see if I was geared for the heroic, and I said I only had 2 blues or so. A minute later, I got an invite and hopped onto a group that consisted of a paladin tank, the rogue, myself, a warlock, and a holy priest. We tore up the place…literally. It was my first complete Heroic Magisters’ Terrace run ever, and we had finished it in under 50 minutes. Every single boss was one-shotted, including the 5v5 matchup. I never had to trap anyone except for the blizzard-spamming mage during the third fight.

At Kael’thas, we burned him down faster than anything I’ve seen in regular or heroic. It was nuts. The phoenix was tanked by one of the Sisters of Torment that the warlock had enslaved. Everything was flawless. With only one death (the priest) on trash mobs, I’d say it was the most successful PuG I’ve ever been in hands down.:-D

When the dust had settled, I walked away with [Tunic of the Ranger Lord], aka the only reason I would ever run Magisters’ Terrace. With that piece, I officially retired my Beast Lord armor set. T5-quality item is amazing.

Two hours later, some guildmates asked if someone could help them with Kael’thas on normal mode, so I hopped on. It was pretty straightforward also, but all of us died except the paladin tank at 15%. All he had to do was kept healing himself and just smack Kael’thas when the gravity lapse was down. At 2%, the gravity lapse went down, and our tank had a 2000 critical hit and ended the fight. That was pretty incredible to watch too. It reminded me of the time when a restoration shaman solo’d Kael’thas from 10% on during another fight.:-)

I think Kael’thas should have learned his lesson by now.

Trophies of a Hunter, Part 1

If you’re like me, when you watch a movie that has some kind of adventurer like Indiana Jones, you wish you had a trophy case or wall on which you could display your great collection of items proudly. I’m a pack rat. I have a hard time throwing out stuff because many things have sentimental value to me.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten to see more content in WoW than I originally thought I ever would. In the process, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of really random things that I find too good to throw away.

My collection is taking up a decent amount of space in my bank, but I don’t want to throw it away. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about their pre-BC gear. If I had my hands on [Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers] or [Lok'delar, Stave of the Ancient Keepers], I wouldn’t throw it out for anything.

So what kinds of stuff do I keep as trophies?

Armor/Weapons

• The [Wrathtide Longbow] drops from Warlord Kalithresh in Heroic Steamvaults. Yesterday’s run was the first time I’ve seen this bow drop, and I’ve done the instance many times (and have reached exalted with Cenarion Expedition last week). This bow has one of the slowest speeds and is quite good for a Marksman or Survival hunter before you head into Karazhan. It’s not good for Beast Masters because it’s way to slow for MQoSRDPS if you are using a 3:2 shot rotation. The catch? The drop is quite low since, as I mentioned, even I’ve only seen it once.
• The [Recoilless Rocket Ripper X-54] is probably the closest thing there is to a rocket launcher in WoW. I keep it mainly because it looks just plain awesome. I’ve seen a lot of pre-Kara tanks use this gun because of the stamina buff. I only wish the ammo is rockets, not bullets.:-P
• [The Hands of Fate] is a plate gear for paladins that’s a reward from one of the quests in a chain originally needed for attunement for Tempest Keep. The reason I keep this piece is because my guild name is “The Hand of Fate”, so it’s nice to keep around.
• I actually don’t have the [Malefactor's Eyepatch] yet, but I have the quest that provides it as a reward. It’s definitely going to be a keeper in my collection. Come on, how can you pass on something that makes you look like a pirate? It’s even made of mail instead of leather for the other eyepatches in the game!

Trinkets

• An [Argent Dawn Commission] is needed to collect Scourgestones from the Plaguelands. I visited the Plaguelands area not long before I headed into Outland. Keeping this trinket still opens the possibility of my increasing my Argent Dawn reputation. I also have an inkling that the Plaguelands may come into play again during world events prior to the release of Wrath of the Lich King.
• The [Chained Essence of Eranikus] is needed to complete a dead-end quest in the Swamp of Sorrows. The quest chain takes you to the Temple of Atal’Hakkar. Eranikus is a green dragon who tried to fight the Nightmare in the Emerald Dream. I’m keeping this because the poison effect is pretty nifty. I didn’t want to lose it to a dead end quest that Blizzard may extend in the future.
• [Power Infused Mushroom] is a reference to Super Mario World, where you get 200 points from stomping on mushrooms. Initially, I found this trinket to be somewhat useful when I had mana issues in the early 60s before the +Intellect gear started coming in.
• The essential [Carrot on a Stick] is a quest reward of killing Gahz’rilla in Zul’Farrak. It’s one of the first trinkets you will be able to receive once you hit the 40s. Mount speed increase is nice when you’re still on the slow mounts.
• Now I never was able to test how well a [Hypnotist's Watch] works in reducing threat because I had better trinkets, but it’s an interesting use effect, so I’ll keep it around anyway.
• [Mark of the Chosen] was useful back in the 40s when I was still learning how to keep aggro on my pet. At least when I went into occasional melee, I had a chance of receiving the nice buff.
• At first, I had a hard time in choosing [Devilsaur Tooth] over [Devilsaur Eye], but the effect was unlike any other trinket I’ve seen, so I decided to keep the Tooth. The Eye is easily replaceable with any of the AP trinkets from Outland (although the Hit rating is nice). I feel like the Tooth would benefit Beast Masters more during those pre-BC levels.

Now if only I could keep the heads of each of the elite beasts I had to hand in to Nesingwary and his son. Those would be 8 items I will proudly keep in my bank.

Next time, I’ll talk about some more random items I’ve collected as trophies or just because they were cool.

Five Hundred!

With the help of Pathaleon the Calculator in Heroic Mechanar, I’ve finally reached 500 Agility! [Handguards of the Steady] dropped during a random run when I was replacing a dps slot. It replaced my [Beast Lord Handguards]. Fortunately, I still have two pieces of the Beast Lord Armor to keep the trap cooldown bonus.

Looking forward to 100 more badges for [Crossbow of Relentless Strikes].

Who is Valanos?

Just exactly who is Valanos, the namesake of [Valanos' Longbow]?

A quick search on Google won’t give you the answer, but a search on Google Images does.

Kodo and stag? HA! Try hunting clefthoof and talbuk.

Valanos is a Draenei hunter (presumably one of the best). This makes sense somewhat. The design of the Longbow has the same rounded blockiness effect that Draenei structures have (e.g. Shattrath). Given that the Draenei were given the power of the Light and its abilities, it also makes sense that the bow has an intellect buff. The quote above indicates that he is most likely from Outland rather than Exodar. However, his pet is apparently a bear, which is not native to Outland. The only other bears I know of in Outland are kept by the Mag’har and Rexxar, Champion of the Horde.

His trading card is part of the Through the Dark Portal card set from the TCG. The sigil on Valanos’ head is the effect of the Gift of the Naaru racial ability. Interestingly enough, he isn’t pictured with his bow. Anyone know what swords he is holding?

Unfortunately, we don’t know where he is in World of Warcraft. If his bow is a world drop, it may be that he’s no longer alive. Speculations?

Respect the Marksmen

In lieu of our friend Rilgon, I’ll make a rant post on behalf of marksman hunters.

This past weekend, being a holiday weekend and all, I was able to get myself raiding again for the first time since spring break. It kinda helps now that summer vacation has started again, and schoolwork isn’t constantly breathing down my neck.

I’ve been wanting to dip my feet into Gruul’s Lair for sometime, but my guild’s raid schedule hadn’t been working too well for me. So as I was sitting in Shattrath after doing the daily heroic, I hopped on at a chance of joining a PuG for the raid. Lately, I’ve sort of been following a “don’t ask, don’t tell” in terms of my dps viability in a raid. I don’t want to announce I’m a marksman. Trueshot Aura may give it away sometimes, but that’s up to the raid leader to decide. I don’t want people to be babbling about respeccing a BM hunter. Why? Because my dps right now is hovering 585-590 (though some of my gear aren’t enchanted yet). So this PuG needed 2 hunters for the 25-man raid. I didn’t want to compromise my chances. The other hunter was indeed a BM. Both of us were assigned to tank Kiggler the Crazed during the Maulgar fight. After a quick rundown from the leader of what I was supposed to do, we pulled. Two false starts (partly due to the lack of using Ventrilo) caused us to wipe. The third pull worked like a charm.

So what did I notice? The point of having hunters tanking him is that our damages are high enough that we can almost certainly toss aggro back and forth between each other without him aggroing other members of the raid. Sound easy? The problem is, as a marksman, I’m obviously getting more threat with my massive amounts of damage. I’d say for most of the duration of our tanking Kiggler, I had the aggro instead of the BM hunter. I can tell the healer was having a ball trying to keep my health up. I had to use Feign Death a couple of times just to avoid getting stomped.

I also wanted to go back to Kara after some time. I had been late for the guild run, but another guildmate was putting another group together with some of his friends. I hopped aboard the group with a few PuGs. It was a pretty efficient run. Even with a false start on Maiden, we still managed to down her with just 2 deaths. We had a problem with Nightbane, and since we wanted a quick run, we decided to skip it after a wipe. At Shade of Aran, we got him down to 1% and wiped. The second try was much better. It was also amazing to see arcane resistance on my cat at work.

Again, I was in the group with only 1 other hunter, a BM. The druid in our group kept complaining that someone is using Aimed Shot in their rotation. At first I thought it was the other hunter who was doing it because I don’t use it except for opening shots sometimes. And then after he kept complaining, I realized he was doing so because he was seeing the healing debuff on the mobs. I did open some rotations with an Aimed Shot, but I only do that for single mobs that take a lot of damage to kill. He claims that using Aimed Shot even at the opening is a lame idea. Seriously? Marksmen rely on high damage output. I’m constantly higher in damage output than any BM hunter I’ve raided with, and my dps is only 5 points below them on average. And this is even with most of my things not enchanted and them having all epics, while I still have some dungeon blues and a green.

Shot rotation macro? No, thanks. This druid continued to pester me about having a shot rotation macro. Personally, I advocate no macro so that I can actually have a feel for the rotation itself. (This is probably one of the few things I agree with BRK on.) What good is a shot rotation macro if all you do is press 1 or 2 buttons and can’t adapt to sudden situations. How many times have I been able to use a Silencing Shot in dungeons in time to interrupt a Polymorph or AoE spellcast? Our shot rotation requires more attention than the 1:1 Auto/Steady rotation. The fact that we also rely on high damage from Arcane and Multi Shots makes learning to put them into a good rotation that much more valuable. People need to stop assuming that everyone who raids is a BM and has to use a macro to maximize dps.

The other people in the raid were with me on this, and it seemed they were pretty annoyed with the druid’s complaining also. I ran too far ahead of the group and aggroed a mob group too early and got stomped. Sure enough, the druid decided to point out my carelessness. Everyone else just said, “You’re just jealous you’re not the one who did it.”

[Leggings of the Fallen Hero] from Gruul and [Drape of the Dark Reavers] from Aran dropped, but I got outrolled by the other hunters by 1 on both instances. /cry

My upgrade of the weekend was 25 badges for [Blood Knight War Cloak].

Return of the Hunter

Finally done with exams, so I can play again!

I logged on today and went to Mechanar for the bottom half of the Arcatraz key. After that, I went to Arcatraz itself. Very efficient PuGs. I’m happy, even though I didn’t win the roll on [Abacus of Violent Odds].

I also forgot today was Gruul’s night for the guild. I happened to be on when they were doing invites, so I hopped on the board. Unfortunately, we were short on DPS even after looking in the channels. We had all the tanks and healers needed, but no DPS… We called it off after trying for a while. I guess I’ll have to try my luck another time.

Follow