Where the view is always better.

Raids

Zero to Hero with Dark Days

About a week and a half ago, I entered a Firelands progression raid for the first time. I had been there before for trash farming (without much success other than getting my reputation to Honored with Avengers of Hyjal). At that point, I had come back after three months without playing, so I wasn’t sure about my raid awareness from being away for so long.

Incredibly, our ragtag group of ten members, most of whom had not raided together previously, were able to kill every single boss leading up to Fandral Staghelm. Five out of seven on our first raid night together? I’d say that’s pretty impressive. After some discussion at the end of the night, we decided to return the following day to try our hand at Staghelm and Ragnaros. We killed Staghelm on our second attempt after becoming familiar with the mechanics the previous night. Ragnaros? Well, we killed him on our eighth attempt. Firelands cleared in one week!

So let’s back up a bit. How was this possible? It’s all thanks to the leadership of an acquaintance, whom I met earlier in the expansion, in a newly formed guild called Dark Days. Previously, my guild Near Death had become stagnant for quite some time, after our guild leader (who was also a raid leader) disappeared, leaving much disarray in our rosters as well as our progression. After several months of piggybacking off several guilds’ progression raids (during which I got my Defender of a Shattered World title), I decided to take a leap of faith and change my guild for a permanent spot.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with guild frustration. If you were a reader of this blog during Burning Crusade, you may remember my frustration with tier 5 content. One thing I’ve learned all these years is to stop becoming too attached to the guild I am in if it stifles my personal progression and enjoyment. On Friday, we went back to Firelands for my first 25-man raid since Black Temple. Of course it was chaotic, but it was also very nostalgic to think back to 25-man raiding in Outland.

Although we only managed to kill Beth’tilac and Shannox this time, it was a nice change of pace from the 10-man raiding we’ve all become accustomed to. The difficult part in transitioning into 25-man raiding is giving instructions to twice as many people, and we are still learning how to keep everyone under control in Ventrilo. However, having a raid leader who can push my progression limit is very rewarding; I’m happy with the transition that I’ve made.

I myself am surprised that I can still compete for the top DPS with an item level of only 366 when some others are already above 370. I’ve decided to take a break from Marksmanship for a bit and go Survival. It’s been serving me well.

Dark Days is recruiting experienced DPS classes of all types, though our highest priority are ranged casters. We are going to continue with 25-man raiding from here on. If you are on US-Eredar, Alliance side, or are looking to transfer a character, feel free to drop me a word (here or in-game), and I will send you to the person to speak with.

We’re already getting a lot of attention for our success, and we’ll try our best not to disappoint.


Updates from the Front

It looks like the pre-reset daily reset was indeed a bug. I was still able to gain a few extra marks on Wednesday night, but no longer on Thursday. Blizzard probably admits among themselves they made a mistake on this bug, but reverting tames and Marks on the numerous people who unknowingly stumbled upon this bug would cause a giant mess.

It is no longer possible to complete some daily quests more than once a day by turning them in during a small window before the standard reset time.

When I returned to the Molten Front the afternoon after I got in early, I went back to see which beasts were still up. Skarr had respawned, and Deth’tilac seemed to have been tamed. However, I returned again about an hour before the rush began when everyone would arrive at the Front. Immediately, someone beckons me over to the Forlorn Spire area, where Deth’tilac had respawned. Initially, I was hesitant to take the effort to kite him for so long in order to tame him, but when I started, it seems that person called over his friends to help me kite the spider. What ensued was 10 minutes back and forth with Deth’tilac, getting rooted, trapped, etc.

I’m still waiting on Karkin to spawn whenever I’m at the Front, but I think having three of the five spiders is enough. I don’t have room in my stable anymore.

Firelands has been fun, though I’ve only been doing trash runs and not bosses. Last night, I managed to hit honored with the Avengers of Hyjal, so a nifty new cloak and belt were in order for me. No epics have dropped from trash for me yet, though.

If you have not already, you should try getting to the top of this spider hill. This is probably one of the most fun achievements in the game right now. I bet you could even make some sort of game out of this.

How have the Molten Front and Firelands been treating you?


PTR 4.2: Firelands and Baradin Hold

Firelands was opened for testing yesterday for approximately 2 hours on the Public Test Realms. Beth’tilac, a lava spider boss, was the subject of the test, and Blizzard made it easier for eager testers to experience the encounter by removing all trash mobs from the raid area. About an hour prior to the raid’s opening, I joined Matticus and his guildmates from Conquest to prepare for a tour of Firelands and the new Baradin Hold encounter.

The raid environment of Firelands is very new and different from what we’ve all seen in Molten Core. From the lava pools to the fiery spider webs, the texture of the landscape was visually refreshing. Beth’tilac has a mechanic somewhat reminiscent of Magmaw, except with tiny spiders instead of maggots. We were able to learn that these spiders have predefined spawn points near tiny eggs around the edge of the room. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to be killed before a server shutdown was initiated.

You can find more details about the encounter at Wowhead News.

Eager adventurers await the opening of Firelands in front of Sulfuron Spire.

Firelands has a very innovative environment and is very different from the Molten Core we are all familiar with.

Beth tilac, the first encounter of Firelands, will probably serve as a gear check for this raid and has some very new mechanics.

After Firelands was closed for testing for the day, we dashed toward Baradin Hold before a server shutdown to dip our feet in the Occu’thar encounter. (You will notice its name is quite similar to Immol’thar in Dire Maul.) Its 54 million HP, which is more than Beth’tilac, can make you buckle in your knees. We still do not know much about how to defeat it, except that it spawns eyes and void zones. Our last attempt had us try the mechanic used against Theralion when dealing with void zones.

Not much is currently known about Occu thar, the new boss within Baradin Hold. However, unlike Argaloth, it is not to be taken lightly with 54 million HP.

It’s definitely a refreshing experience to enter raids blind, not knowing what abilities bosses have. Each attempt is a learning experience, and we definitely were tested in our ability to be aware of the raid environment and learn from previous encounters as well.

Later today, we will go back to the PTR to have a try at Lord Rhyolith. If you would like to have a glance at the encounter, join us on Conquest’s live stream at 6:30 p.m. Eastern (3:30 p.m. Pacific).


Breaking the Heroic Ceiling

Despite the seemingly lack of hunters (and hunter bloggers), the hunterdom environment is actually quite the opposite from what I have observed. In my realm of Eredar, there is an abundance of hunters walking about Stormwind.  As I pass by the streets of the Dwarven District, I see numerous pets out and hunters in their level 85 gear. You could say that being a hunter has never been more attractive with the slate of new abilities and pets made available.

Why then is it so hard to break the heroic ceiling and enter raids? On Eredar, there are a few guilds who are searching for good hunters to fill their core raid spots. Does this indicate a lack of hunters? No, it indicates a lack of raiding hunters.

Yesterday, a guildmate mentioned that raiding content in Cataclysm lacks hierarchy, which I found true after some consideration. Compare the three raid instances available now to the first tier raiding content in the previous three installations of the game. Molten Core, Karazhan, and Naxxramas were all massive instances with a dozen or so bosses. Now we have instances with two, four, and six bosses. Did you notice that the total number of encounters is still a dozen?

One would think that spreading out raids like this will allow more players to break the heroic ceiling because shorter instances seem less daunting. However, it appears this might be the contrary. Previously, players are required to go through the predefined progression set by Blizzard in raiding instances. There was a linearity in raiding. Currently, players can explore different raid encounters and achieve “progression” without having to enter the same instance over and over again. This is the irony of Cataclysm, the expansion that many have complained as being too linear.

Having reached the heroic ceiling, players find themselves unable to determine which path is the best to enter the raiding scene. After having put through a series of linear zones, they are thrown into the chaotic world of raiding where three instances mean four initial encounters to learn at the same time: Magmaw and Omnotron in Blackwing Descent, Halfus in the Bastion of Twilight, and the Conclave of the Winds. The task seems daunting, and even heroic gear does not seem sufficient to meet this challenge.

The key to break the ceiling, then, is focus. Make a decision in which instance you will make your initial progression in raiding. While linearity in questing is something new we have learned to dislike, linearity and hierarchy in raiding is something we are familiar with. By focusing on your personal progression, you will soon enter the “club” of players with item level 350 and above.

Remember that it is more important to be a competent player in a raid than to be a player who can pull big damage but disregards instructions. Strengthen your raid competency and you will soon find yourself in the raiding scene with raid leaders who are more than willing to explain the encounters to you.


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.


Remember That Word?

Many people have started getting back into raiding, and that brings back one word into our vocabulary: performance.

WoW Web Stats has come into use again for analyzing performance in a raid. As far as I know, there are no other methods for combat logging that are as widely used as WoW Web Stats. (I’m not counting Recount because you can’t upload the parse for future analysis.) But regardless of what method of combat logging you use, they still do not provide the whole picture of the raid.

This is not about the uncontrollable situational circumstances that change from raid to raid.

Wrath of the Lich King brought new means of improving your character through glyphs. Hunters probably received more complex changes than the other classes. Each type of pet provides different abilities and opportunities for different talent trees.

Combat logging already includes the effects of these glyphs and talents, so a raid or class leader who is looking at combat reports has to remember to ask his or her raiders what types of glyphs they are using (and/or their pets’ talents) in order to make recommendations. Every single amount of DPS will count now that Blizzard believes hunters are doing too much damage.

It is the responsibility of the raider to find out information about his or her optimal setup. Write down a clear plan for yourself so that you can reason your way into what you’re doing. Every decision you make must have results that will contribute to your performance and to the success of the raiding team.

“I will not be dead weight. I will not be cholesterol.”


“We Wiped on Chess”

On Saturday night, I was sitting around in Shattrath bored after doing my cooking and fishing dailies when I saw in trade: “LFM Kara, have good tank”. I thought to myself, I haven’t run Karazhan in months. It’d be nice to back in there again, and I’d be able to kill Tenris Mirkblood.

So I decided to hop on the group. After about 15 minutes of grabbing the DPS and healers, we all started heading out to Deadwind Pass. The buffs and mana biscuits were given out, and we were on our way. Of course, the conversations on Vent were pretty much active with how we used to have to do this and that but now we can do this and that. And of course, raid leader joked that if anyone did not actually know how to kill Attumen, he would promptly give the boot.

  • Attumen himself was quite a joke, as we didn’t even care that we were all spread apart, and he was charging everyone.
  • Tenris Mirkblood didn’t take too long either, but I died because I had not fought him before and didn’t stay away from red spheres. (Note to self: stay away from glowing red things.) [Arcanite Ripper] drops, but I lost the roll.
  • Moroes’ additional mobs were not tanked and were taken down by AoE.
  • Maiden of Virtue died in 55 seconds.
  • Romulo and Julianne died at the same time while the warrior tank and a rogue was on Julianne, and the rest of the raid was on Romulo.
  • Nightbane became a tank and spank while staying away from Charred Earth.
  • Curator could have been killed before the first Evocation, but raid leader decided to hold back on DPS because he wanted us to reach Evocate just for fun.
  • Shade of Aran was dead immediately after one Arcane Explosion.
  • Illhoof only made two Sacrifices.
  • We stayed through Netherspite’s first banish phase, and he was dead at the end of it.
  • Chess Event was our most troublesome part, sadly. During our first attempt, I couldn’t move my controlled footman, and neither can King Llane, so he stayed and died in the flame. During our second attempt, I could only move my footman once. When my footman died, I could not move from the platform in the room, and neither could our druid. He logged out and in but still could not move and had to hearthstone out and be summoned. I had to close WoW and get back on to get unstuck.
  • Prince Malchezaar was dead after two infernals.

Never have I used Volley and Explosive Trap so many times before. After this run, I have come to the conclusion that I will never see [Legacy] drop, nor will I ever see another [Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix] drop (after the one I got on my first Karazhan run back in March).

Lesson of the night: Never assume the impossible. We joked that we would wipe on Chess, and we actually did.


Discovered: Ahn’Qiraj

For some of you, Ahn’Qiraj may be a trip down memory lane. But for me, it was like a legend: the infamous Twin Emperors, a relentless C’Thun, and an epic movie.

But no longer.

[Temple of Ahn'Qiraj] was unlocked on Wednesday night.

The Prophet Skeram greets the Temple visitors.

The Prophet Skeram greets the Temple visitors.

Am I seeing double?

Am I seeing double?

Premature wipe from C'Thun's Eye Beam.

Premature wipe from C'Thun's Eye Beam.

Preparing the final charge.

Preparing the final charge.

last moments.

C'Thun's last moments.

No battle tank for me, but walking through the entire raid instance itself was impressive. I can see why pre-BC players would miss this place.


Experience and the Reduced Difficulty Raid

Easy Street by Andrew Beierle

Zul’Aman.

Once the source of the prized [Amani War Bear].

Now nothing more than an antiquated and nostalgic raid instance.

Yesterday was the second time I’ve logged in for Patch 3.0.2. At first I just wanted to try out some battlegrounds for the night and maybe get a chance to complete some of the achievements. But I decided to put myself up in LFG for Zul’Aman, thinking people would have nothing to do on a Saturday night. Lo and behold, after 20-odd minutes in Alterac Valley, I got the call for DPSing Zul’Aman. After getting ourselves together for 10 minutes or so, summons went out, and we started the timed event in no time.

Akil’zon. Nalorakk. Jan’alai. Halazzi. This is only my second time killing all four of them. Then Hex Lord Malacrass went down. About 10 minutes after that, Zul’jin: my personal first. No wipes on bosses. All 4 timers complete. Instance completed in an hour and a half. I was not expecting such an efficient run. In one night, I got [The Savage's Choker], [Shadowhunter's Treads], [Trollbane], and [Tiny Voodoo Mask].

Zul'jin is defeated.

The Amani troll leader is defeated.

So this begs the question: Does experience in a raid instance really matter anymore?

For this run, I asked for explanations of Hex Lord and Zul’jin fights because my knowledge was minimal at best. But, really, they were barely needed at all. DPS the marked mobs and don’t die. It has now become as simple as that instead of position juggling and saving up on mana. My guildmate lamented how people are basically running instances for epic gear that will soon become useless come Wrath.

But remember the days when people were complaining that they don’t get to see upper content? You can essentially mostly PuG a raid now and still do fine without the coordination you find in a guild run. Raiding becomes individual experiences in doing their own jobs rather than communicating with others on what went wrong with the encounter and how certain aspects can be improved. For example, there was one time when a split-second mispositioning at Halazzi would almost certainly have cost us the last timed chest pre-3.0.2. But this time, we one-shotted him.

Will Wrath bring this kind of raid experience? We’ll have to wait and see.


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.


Keeping Up With the DPS Race

You’ve encountered these bosses before. The raid tries to keep up its damage dealt against the enrage timer. Sometimes a fluke happens and you fail. Sometimes the fight becomes a simple tank and spank. Welcome to the DPS race.

Watching some of the best badminton players in the world makes me think how similar their gameplays are to a DPS race. Badminton now is not the same badminton from the last summer Olympics. The game has been modified to make it more fast-paced and suitable for television viewing. As such, you have more quick shots and attempts to force the opponent to commit errors. Every time you make a mistake, not just when the opponent makes a scoring drive, you give a point to them and have to make up for it. Just like with every death against Gruul, you have fewer people to keep up with his Grows.

These high-powered matches will keep up at the edge of your seat, just like the feeling that your raid will make the enrage timer with just seconds to spare. You look at the enrage timer; you look at the boss’ health; you look at the timer again.

What can we take away from these players?

The key to the DPS race is momentum. Try not to step back on your DPS because you will have to make up for it harder and faster towards the end of the fight. It’s like an unpaid debt that you pay only the minimum amount each month. Over time, it becomes unmanageable. On the other hand, you should also never tell the raid to “step up the DPS” if you are perfectly on target. Stepping up DPS puts more pressure on the damage dealers. Casters will burn through their mana faster, forcing them to rely on mana potions to keep mana up and may unconsciously impose a mindset to conserve mana. Your brain then has a conflict between spamming your macro more often and a mana conservative macro (i.e. 1:1.5 rotation versus 3:2 Steady/Auto rotation).

You technically can’t “DPS faster”. That phrase is counterintuitive to DPS and misleading. The DPS that you do on a normal raid is the DPS you will have. You can’t DPS faster than what you already have without better gear. In addition, accelerating DPS means you were wasting time in the beginning of the fight and letting that enrage timer gain on you. When you accelerate your gameplay in badminton, your opponent will always try to counterattack by slowing down the returns. In the end, you made no gains except by tiring yourself out.

So the key point is to keep your DPS steady. Fluctuations in DPS upset your balance and throws off the entire momentum of the fight. Slow and steady wins the race, well maybe not always the “slow” part.


Progression Thrills, Gorefiend Dead

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.

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. :-)


Improving Pet Raiding: WoW Web Stats

It would seem that I have neglected to clarify on the configuration of my WoW Web Stats reports and how I analyze them, particularly regarding pets. The Stoic Guardian‘s Gothyelk did an analysis of his pet’s performance using WWS, and he was keen in observing how much his pet “missed”.

Why did I put that word in quotes?

The reason is because WWS sometimes has confusing terminology. When you click on the Columns bar, there are options for All Miss and Miss. All Miss includes attacks which did not produce damage or critical damage, which means parries, misses, dodges, blocks, resists, etc. Therefore, Miss is a subset of All Miss.

Want a proof? All you need is a screenshot. This is from Nalorakk in Zul’Aman.

From the image above, you will see that the number of Miss, Parry, and Dodge add up to the (All) Missed column. (For the hunter himself, it doesn’t matter that you choose All Miss because ranged attacks generally miss and not parried or dodged, which is why I chose the summarizing column.)

Now if you were considering whether or not to spend more talent points on Animal Handler, what you want to look at is the number of actual misses, not all missed attacks. Unfortunately, we can’t control the parry and dodge chances of a mob. However, positioning our pets at the back of mobs generally reduces the chances to block and parry.

Brajana of Mend Pet also has a great overview on pet management and pet healing to supplement this entry. Pet management is an important skill to have for all hunters, not just Beast Mastery ones. Without our pets, hunters lose half of their whole.


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.

Random Question to Readers

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.


When You Have Raid Fright

I’ve made a lot of hunter-related posts lately. I figured I should write something different today so I wouldn’t bore my readers who aren’t hunters.

I’m fortunate to have been able to raid a bit more the past week. It’s starting to look like a regular cycle of weekend Serpentshrine Cavern, Monday Karazhan, and Thursday raid with the guild. Knights of Redemption made its progression kills on Hydross and Lurker last weekend, and we were there for both of them. After a few attempts on Tidewalker, they may actually down him this weekend (though I won’t be able to make it). My guild made more attempts on Archimonde on Thursday to no avail, and we also found out one of the guilds in the server that’s a bit ahead of us took 7 hours to down Archimonde on a Hyjal run that night.

As I’m raiding throughout the week, I’ve been noticing something in my performance. It’s similar to stage fright. I call it raid fright.

In my guild, I’m usually a standby raider, helping fill in empty slots if they need an extra DPS. It’s been my general attitude towards the guild for a while. I will do instances with them from time to time, but I mainly stay for the company. That’s why I PUG a lot and raid with other guilds.

Normally, I’d say I’m pretty on top of things when I go into an instance or a raid. There are rare days where I may be off in my performance, making accidental pulls, being sloppy with crowd control, etc. But in general, I perform my best during these PUG situations. One of the raid leaders of KoR thinks I’ve been doing well and is eager to get me into 25-mans whenever they are able to raid. But as I raid more regularly with my guild when needed, I’m starting to see differences in my performance that I didn’t really notice before. Earlier this week, I managed to pull extra packs of mobs with my pet in Karazhan, pulled aggro on several occasions throughout the night, etc. In Hyjal the other night, I was very sluggish and slow during trash waves. My response time was longer than what I’m used to. The same happened for Rage Winterchill and Anetheron. (I was subbed out for Kaz’rogal and Azgalor.) At Archimonde, I was too slow to activate my Tears of the Goddess during air burst and died first during one attempt and not running to a decurser because I didn’t notice I had Grip of the Legion on me during another attempt. It was pretty disheartening.

Why do I think raid fright happens?

For one, it happens when you’re thrown in a situation you’re not familiar with. In my case, I leveled my way through PUGs and meeting people outside my guild. I didn’t really start running instances with guildmates until I arrived in Outland. At that point, during Slave Pens, a guildmate commented on how well I was doing at chain trapping. In PUG situations, you want to leave a name for yourself, hence you try to perform your best. However, if you are having bad day, a slightly sloppy performance doesn’t really harm you since you most likely won’t see the other people in the group ever again. In a guild raid, you still want to perform your best to put your name out there, but when you are among the core raiders, you’re afraid of making a mistake. You become so afraid that it begins to distract you and actually hampers performance instead of improving it. Despite having been explained the fights, you become so cautious that a sudden change in the environment that requires immediate action causes you to panic.

I think the other reason raid fright happens has to do with the environment of the raid itself. If a raid team sets its expectations too high for a relatively new raider, it may perceive him/her as an actual hindrance rather than a member of the team, however temporary. The team must understand when they pull in others who do not regularly come, they will not know what kind of expectations it has of them. I’m not talking about not being a general idiot. I’m talking about the raid’s attitude towards a wipe and mistakes. If the raid is intolerant of these occasional things, it will alienate the new member and make him/her feel even more uncomfortable. There is too much pressure than the person is used to, and it’s even more difficult in mentally tasking encounters.

How can you cure raid fright then?

Much like stage fright, the only way to cure it is more practice. But practice alone is not enough. The effort has to be mutual. The raid team can’t go under the impression that the new member will perform his/her best the first few times around because they are still getting used to the environment. Raid leaders must be in a positive attitude rather than yelling at people for performing less than spectacular. Encourage the raid members. The more positive experience the new member has, the better he/she will perform. They will not feel as much that they are under the lens being reviewed of their actions.

In all honesty, I envy people who can just come into a group and still perform very well the way they do normally.


Improving Hunter Raiding: WoW Web Stats

This guide was inspired by Nibuca of Mystic Chicanery. She saw the need for guides on how each class could improve their raiding performance by looking at WoW Web Stats reports. The original version of this guide was written by Arwin of Con O Sin Semilia at the Spanish-language blogging community website TodoWoW. It has been rewritten into an English version with permission.

When a hunter goes raiding, the primary data from which performance is judged upon is DPS. But what’s in a DPS number of a hunter?

We went to fight Gruul the Dragonkiller and recorded out first WoW Web Stats report ever. The catch is, Gruul is not a simple tank and spank boss fight. There’s a lot of movement required because of Cave Ins, Ground Slam, and Shatter. But since we can’t always choose what bosses we fight, we’ll take this report as a sample fight.

WoW Web Stats displays a player’s performance in a raid in a conveniently customizable way, so you can rank people by healer or damage dealers. We will focus on hunters, and because we are a Marksmanship hunter, we’ll be able to compare our performance with a Beast Mastery hunter as well.

WoW Web Stats report for top 5 damage dealers.

“Lapetus” is the Beast Mastery hunter, and “Phobos” is us. We put in 9% of the damage dealt to Gruul with 829 DPS, putting us in fourth place and close very close to third. In order to look at a specific player’s performance, click on that player’s name, and it will display attacks broken down into abilities.

Phobos, Marksmanship hunter abilities broken down.

Now we can see the fight from our point of view in terms of numbers and percentages. As a Marksmanship hunter, we can see that the primary damage dealers we have are still Auto Shot and Steady Shot. Keep in mind that we are hit-capped. The percentages displayed above are also slightly off because we are taking away Shatter from the calculations (because that is damage dealt to raid members, not to Gruul himself).

  • 39.2% Auto Shots compared to 23.8% Steady Shots of total damage.
  • Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot together deal approximately equal damage to Steady Shot.
  • Our pet makes up for 12.8% of our DPS.

Let’s take a look at our Beast Mastery friend and see the difference in performance.

Lapetus, Beast Mastery hunter abilities broken down.

Compare the types of damage dealt (ignoring Shatter for reasons mentioned above and Arcane Strike, the Scryer proc on [Shattered Sun Pendant of Might]).

  • 40.6% Auto Shots compared to 30.9% Steady Shots of total damage.
  • Pet contributes 26.6% to DPS, more than twice the contribution of our pet as a Marksmanship hunter.
  • Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot contribute 1.9% to total damage as filler shots.

Unfortunately, our friend is not hit-capped, so he missed opportunities where he could have done more damage. Regardless, the Beast Mastery rotation is easier to analyze, so we’ll take a look at it first. The generally accepted shot rotation for Beast Mastery hunters is the 1:1 Auto/Steady rotation. What the selected report above doesn’t show is the number of critical strikes per shot. They are available by changing the following settings. Select the Columns button and change your settings to the following.

The total number of attacks for each ability is the sum of the values in the Hits, Crit, and Missed columns.

As you can tell from this report, the number of Auto Shots outnumber that of Steady Shots for this Beast Mastery hunter. This is likely because repositioning during the fight causes Steady Shot to fire less often due to the casting time. If clipping is avoided from things like lag and bad macros or rotations, the total ratio of Auto to Steady should be near 1:1. Due to fight mechanics, it will probably never be exactly 1:1. For a 3:2 rotation, there should be more Steady Shots than Auto Shots in the report.

Another thing to notice in this report is the activation of Kill Command. The report above cited a total of 61 critical strikes. While it is impossible to activate Kill Command for every single critical strike, a good macro and latency should make the ratio of Kill Commands to critical strikes closer to 1. During this fight, the ratio is 25/61, or about 41%. Anytime the ability is not activated after a critical strike, we lose valuable DPS for the raid. A problem is also present if the fight is pet-unfriendly. Because pets contribute upwards of a quarter of a beast master’s DPS, not using a pet reduces one’s DPS significantly. If this were the case, a marksman is likely to overtake or equalize the DPS since his/her pet only contributes about one-eighth of the DPS output.

See also Improving Pet Raiding: WoW Web Stats

For the discussion of using Arcane Shot versus Multi-Shot as filler shots, we’ll look at a different report: Hydross the Unstable. During this fight, our build is slightly different in that we’ve added Improved Barrage and removed Improved Aspect of the Hawk.

Using these two shots are actually more of a matter of preference and playstyle rather than anything else. The only way to learn which one you prefer is to make comparisons.

  • Arcane Shot is a single-target ability, while Multi-Shot is used against multiple targets.
  • Arcane Shot does magic damage. Multi-Shot does physical damage, which is more likely to be mitigated.
  • Multi-Shot has a much longer cooldown than Arcane Shot.

However, other factors that count are the talents Barrage and Improved Barrage. Because Beast Mastery hunters are unable to obtain these talents with a 41/20 spec, I’m under the impression that using Arcane Shot is more efficient. However, a Marksmanship hunter will find that Multi-Shot can easily out-damage Arcane Shot with fewer shots if those two talents are utilized, as seen in the report above.

Other things you can also check for are how often cooldowns like trinkets and abilities (e.g. Bestial Wrath) are used. Divide the length of the fight by the cooldown time. If these abilities are used very little compared to the number you obtain, that means you could use these abilities more often to increase your DPS.

Most of all, I cannot once again stress the importance of the hit cap. It’s very important, so I have to say it again. Any shots missed because we are not hit capped is a loss of DPS, and any extra DPS is very valuable in some boss fights.

So go ahead and try to record your own log by typing /combatlog before a raid begins (to start) and after it ends (to end recording) and see what you can improve upon. You combat log will be stored in your World of Warcraft program folders, and you can upload them onto WoW Web Stats. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments. I will also try to answer any questions if you have them.


Marksmanship Pet Selection and Synergy

The synergy between a hunter and his or her pet doesn’t stop when you spec away from Beast Mastery. Pet selection is also critical for various situations when you are a Marksmanship hunter. Although we’re often accused of not paying enough attention to our pets, in truth we need our pets just as much.

Selection

There are several ways to approach pet selection when you are a Marksmanship hunter.

One way is to go the traditional tanking pet method where your pet should be generating enough threat that you will not have to go into melee combat or reposition yourself. The problem with this group of pets lies in the fact that after some time, all the mitigation these pets have will not become useful if they cannot hold aggro in the long run. The longer the fight, the more likely you yourself will pull aggro and turn the role of the hunter around.

In a PvE environment, selecting a pet with an ability that can be used as a focus dump is essential. It is generally acceptable to use a Cat or a Ravager because both Claw and Gore, respectively serve as focus dump abilities with a cost of only 25 focus. When used with Go for the Throat, focus dump becomes more important for a pet so that it can sustain its damage output. Windserpents are also viable for marksmen because Lightning Breath scales with attack power.

Utility is one of the most important aspects of a PvP environment. If a pet has any ability that can impair the enemy, it’s very preferable.

The Numbers

As a marksman, you have several talents at your disposal to make your pet a more valuable companion. Let’s compare using Armory Light two sample hunter profiles: one a beast master, the other a marksman.

Sample Marksmanship hunter.

Sample Marksmanship hunter.

Sample Beast Mastery hunter.

Sample Beast Mastery hunter.

Remember that a pet’s attack power scales with the hunter’s attack power. Because a marksman usually has at least 200 more ranged attack power due to Trueshot Aura and talents like Combat Experience, Careful Aim, and Master Marksman, the scaling of pet attack power is much larger for a Marksmanship hunter. This data is obvious when you are using Armory Light to see the profiles of a hunter. From the two sample hunter profiles (approximately equivalent, though the Marksmanship hunter has slightly better gear), you will notice the significant difference in Pet AP.

Synergy

The key to using of a pet for Marksmanship hunters is to minimize the length of a fight with an enemy. The longer the fight, the more problems you will have in management.

Because Growl no longer scales with the pet’s attack power after Patch 2.4.3, Marksmanship hunters will experience more occurrences where they draw more aggro away from their pets. It’s important for our pets to get at least several seconds of head start for Omen Threat Meter to read at least 1000 threat generated by your pet. Usually this is achievable within the first 3 seconds of a fight. Your attack power and damage are your assets. Use your highest damage abilities first (i.e. Multi-Shot, etc.), then slowly increase the damage output using other special shots. By doing this, your threat is actually more manageable. The reason being is that when you put your highest damage shot out first, you will dramatically increase your threat to nearly the same level as your pet’s.

Ranged attackers will draw aggro when they have achieved 30% more aggro than the “tank”. If you were to start shooting with Auto, Steady, and Arcane, you will incrementally build damage in the beginning and risk the chance that a critical strike on Multi-Shot puts you way above the 30% mark and immediately draw aggro, forcing you into melee combat. Incremental increase of threat following an attack of massive threat will reduce that risk. Your pet will more easily sustain its threat generation if you are using lower threat abilities towards the end of the fight. It is also somewhat noticeable that because your pet has more attack power than normal, it will easily pick up an enemy again if you suspend of hold back your attacks temporarily. Splitting the attention of your enemy minimizes damage to both at the same time.

In the PvP environment, our pets are not as much of an annoyance as a big red beast clawing at your enemy. Marksmanship PvP hunters are well known for their utility and ability to manage with just about any class. Beast Mastery hunters can keep their big red pets. One of the most common PvP pets is the Scorpid family. Using a scorpid allows the use of Scorpid Poison, a Damage over Time ability much like Serpent Sting. Using these two makes yourself a formidable opponent by maximizing what you can do with a pet. Night elf hunters can also use Shadowmeld and activate their cats’ Prowl ability to surprise unsuspecting enemies. By stacking your abilities with those of your pets’, you will be able to work as a cohesive team. Again, the Marksmanship hunter makes short of his job with the help of a pet. Aimed Shot a healer, dispel using Arcane Shot, interrupt with Silencing Shot, and stun with Improved Concussive Shot. Manage your pet well while using all your abilities as needed, and you can very well hold out against many players.

Final Thoughts

While we do not provide our pets with as many abilites as Beast Mastery hunters do, we can work just as well with our pets. I recently moved my talent points in Improved Aspect of the Hawk to Endurance Training, and the survivability of my pet is much more noticeable. 10% of health increase towards pets while trained with the proper resistances greatly improves raid performance.

Marksmanship hunters must see their relationship with their pets as a two-way road. You contribute to each other’s performance. Beast masters will always send in their pets first into the chaos, but we have to analyze when is the perfect time for us to use our pets. We can’t risk sending them into a dangerous environment if we are using Focused Fire. It’s like a protective parent who can’t risk sending a child into battle. I’m more than willing to take the force of the attack if my pet is in danger.

Whether you are a beast master, marksman, or survivalist, you’re still a hunter, and you need your pet regardless of your preferred talent tree. Learn how to manage your pets, and you will be on your way to becoming a successful hunter. If you find you have some problems, a bit of Misdirection also helps.


BM Pets for Any Occasion

Boomstik here! I know it’s been a while since my last post and that I’m not doing a great job splitting writing responsibilities with Loronar (finally got my epic mount and exalted SSO!), but today I’ll write a post that I’m sure all of you hunters are experienced with (especially if you read a certain site, like you should). Pets!

This post is based largely off of a comment from one of Loronar’s posts. Also, Loronar wants to talk about MM pets, so I’ll try to let him do that.  Here, I’ll describe pets for BM hunters, given whatever situation.

Max DPS:

There are really only 3 pet families (unfortunately) that give the highest DPS. Cat, Raptor, and Ravager. All three can eat meat, with Raptors being the most picky (only meat). Pros and Cons of those 3? Well, Raptors arguably look coolest. Who didn’t want a dinosaur pet growing up? Unfortunately, it’s got the least amount of learnable skills. Cats can learn Prowl, which increases their initial attack against a mob. Quite handy when trying to build up aggro or just increasing overall damage. They also have the least punishment towards their HP. However, they have the lowest armor rating of the three, which isn’t a big deal for pure DPS, but not that handy when trying to momentarily hold aggro (eg, saving a squishy til the tank gets there). Lastly, there are the Ravagers. Personally, I use a green one. They learn Gore, which has a 50% chance to do double damage, potentially increasing their damage output over the other three. Cons? They have the least amount of HP and are kinda funky looking.

Some people use Windserpents since their Focus Dump, Lightning Breath, is Nature based and ignores physical defense. I don’t crit enough for my pet to get enough Focus and I’m not really at the point where LB outweighs Gore, but it’s an option for you!

PVP:

I don’t PVP. At all. I, personally, considered it a waste of time and ammo since I’d rather see Blizzard’s content then shoot at players. At least until I saw the S4 gear, whoo boy, that stuff is spicy. But, if I DID PVP, you’d bet I’d have a Scorpid for a pet. Sure, Birds, Owls, and Carrion Birds are big and bulky and interfere with targeting, but Scorpids have a stacking poison that must be Cleansed before your Viper Sting can be cleansed.

Tanking:

You may be wondering why there’s a tanking section, seeing as how our pets aren’t that great at tanking. Well, I would personally like to see pets being able to decently tank in Wrath as one of the Pet Talent Trees. In hopeful preparation, I’ll say that I like Boars, Bears, Bats, Owls, and Carrion Birds. Boars because of Gore and Charge (even though Charge was nerfed); these skills should help it get large initial aggro and hold onto it. Bears are good because of unpicky diet (Bread, Cheese, Fruit, Fish, Fungus, AND Meat? Don’t bring em to a buffet!) and because of the fairly high armor and HP values. Lastly, Bats, Owls, and Carrion Birds all have a pet version of Demo Shout! How cool is that? Works pretty well too! Did you see this video? Or this one? You can’t do those things anymore, but the Screech (Demo Shout) was probably crucial.

But in the end, your pet should kinda make a statement about you too. You’re going to be with it for a long time! And you’re supposed to lovingly name it! Plus you get 3 stable slots…which admittedly isn’t enough…even I want like 6 pets. So I recommend getting a DPS pet for raids, but look at Petopia and really find one you want hanging around with you. I did that and I love Bigwhitebar and Imaspikyroar. They love me back right guys?

*two angry growls*

….AAAAAaaaaanyway, what pets do y’all have and why?


Forward to the Past

Well, it seems Thursdays are my lucky days. I got to raid with my guild’s main raiding group again because they needed DPS. This time, we went to Hyjal Summit to see if we can get Archimonde down. The raid team had gone into Black Temple again on Tuesday to finish off High Warlord Naj’entus, Supremus, and Shade of Akama. The count is now 4/5 SSC, 3/4 TK, 4/5 Hyjal, and 3/9 BT.

This run, we got all of the first four bosses one-shotted, minus a few wipes and partial wipes on trash mobs. The furthest we got Archimonde down to was 79%, and it was the best attempt the guild has had in several weeks. I believe their best ever was 52% from what I was told. After 10 wipes, we called off the raid because people needed to go to sleep. Hey, at least I used my [Medallion of the Alliance], the only reason I did battlegrounds.

But the best part is when your screen flashes with:

Aggro from Archimonde.

That made my day. :-D It’s not every day you get to see something like that.

More pictures below. (more…)


Allow Me to Clarify

When making a performance comparison between Marksmanship and Beast Mastery hunters in a raid, be critical in how you compare the two.

In a Karazhan run for his hunter, Big Bear Butt compared the performance of his young Beast Mastery hunter to a Marksmanship hunter in partial epic gear. BBB boasted a solid 664 DPS, while the Marksmanship hunter put out only 514 DPS. While I’m sure his learning of hunter play from BRK contributed to this performance, sometimes a gut instinct is also correct. BBB considered two possibilites how this performance gap could have happened:

  1. Something is wrong with the player, or
  2. Something is wrong with the spec (0/41/20).

From the looks of it, Rannan, the Marksmanship hunter, seems to know what he’s doing for PvP when looking at his gear and enchants. He has a 3-set of Gladiator armor, as well as several PvP reward items. Stamina enchants and a Mongoose enchant are commonly seen in characters geared towards this type of play.

Let’s compare the basic hunter stats. Rannan has 1689 RAP when Aspect of the Hawk and Trueshot Aura are active, compared to BBB’s 1313 RAP with only Aspect of the Hawk. However, Rannan also has 303 Agility, while BBB has 413. It was noted that Rannan survived the fight against Prince Malchezaar, but BBB did not. This is evident in that Rannan has nearly twice BBB’s Stamina. A PvE Marksmanship hunter of Rannan’s level should probably have at least mid 300s Stamina instead of 500s.

Finally, take a look at Rannan’s spec. This 0/41/20 build is far from being a PvE build. For one, there are no points in Ranged Weapon Specialization, which is essential in PvE. Improved Stings is definitely a PvP talent, as well as Deflection.

Bottom line is: If Rannan were a PvE hunter with PvE gear and the equivalent PvE enchants, I don’t doubt that he would have been able to out-DPS BBB in that Karazhan run.

However, DPS is not necessarily indicative of a Marksmanship hunter’s performance. Case in point, myself in Magtheridon yesterday. During the attempt where Magtheridon went down, the final damage meter indicated that I was about 5th in DPS (approximately 760), but I stil did the second highest damage, not far behind a Beast Mastery hunter who put out ~820 DPS. The reason? My cat died at the beginning of Phase 2, so I took the time to resurrect and heal her before sending her into the fight (because I need her for Focused Fire to achieve its bonus). So for almost 2 minutes, I did not do any damage to Magtheridon. But yet, I was still able to climb through the damage meters and still contribute a large amount to the raid. This is what Marksmanship hunters can do.

If you take nothing else away from this post, remember that it’s not only about the DPS and damage meters. There are other factors that differentiate a Marksmanship and a Beast Mastery hunter. You’re not comparing two things that are similar. Hunter talent trees aren’t like brothers. They’re more cousins of each other.


We Are the Champions

Loronar, Champion of the Naaru

You may call me Loronar, Champion of the Naaru.

We logged in today to get an invite from Knights of Redemption for a 25-man raid. Since we didn’t have enough for either Hydross or Void Reaver, we went ahead and PUG’d a few people for Magtheridon and Gruul’s Lair. The token for [Demon Stalker Shoulderguards] dropped, but we lost the roll. But we were happy with the title!

Be Imba! also says we’re in top shape for raids.

Wrath of the Lich King can come any day now.


From Auchindoun to Hydross

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve found a place where I can raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep.

I’m currently on the raid bench of Knights of Redemption, a two-month-old guild that’s just venturing into Tier 5 content. I first came across this guild while levelling my melee weapons, particularly swords, so I could dual wield [Quickening Blade of the Prince] and [Akil'zon's Talonblade] with +20 agility enchants when I don’t need a hit cap. Hitting Cabal Agents outside of Shadow Labyrinth, a paladin came to level his two-handed axe skills. As we continued to hit NPCs for the next 30 minutes or so, we had some fun chatting (including what would happen is someone came to level their Warglaives and fending off a Horde rogue who kept coming out from farming mines in Shadow Labyrinth. At first I didn’t ask him about his guild, but I got curious and looked them out. Lo and behold, they were looking for friends to raid with them if they don’t have enough people for 25-mans.

We brought death to many Cabal Agents.

We brought death to many Cabal Agents.

Two weeks later, it was their time to venture into SSC, and I got to tag along.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen: Marksmanship hunters can out-dps Beast Masters (Tanisra), warlocks (Lottadots), and mages (Solarious). And this is with my bad latency.

We made 7 or 8 attempts on Hydross. The furthest we got him down to was 30%. Every attempt was better than the previous one. At one point, we lasted through the entire Enrage timer, so we know that we definitely can survive for 10 minutes. The next item on the list was to tweak our strategy so that we have enough DPS to down Hydross while still dealing with adds. Attempt after attempt, something always happens that caused one of our two tanks to die. It got a little too much for some people, so we had to replace a few. Before we started to lose more, the raid leader called it for the night. We’ll try again next week to see if we’ve improved after the break. I’ve never been a progression raid for a guild other than my try at Naj’entus, but I’d say that’s a pretty normal pattern of wipe and learn. (I think?)

Face-to-face with Hydross the Unstable.

Face-to-face with Hydross the Unstable.

To be honest, I was so anxious in going into SSC that I practically stocked up on consummables, making sure I didn’t make the same mistake when I went to Black Temple. Three stacks of healing and mana potions, 10 mana oil charges, a stack of agility elixir, and more food for the pet. Since this is a guild progression fight, every single buff counts. I read up on both Hydross and Lurker (in case we got that far) fights and got the basic gist on how each one was supposed to go.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of my experience with 25-mans and DKP (we have DKP!!). I think they may be attempting Void Reaver on Sunday afternoon. Funny how one little encounter can change the course of your raiding career (if you can call it one).


Naj’entus Down. Almost.

Ever get the feeling you’re going somewhere you shouldn’t? Last night I did.

Our guild made its first foray into Black Temple after delaying another try at Archimonde. About an hour before the raid, everyone was told to look at the boss videos to make sure we know what we were doing. Of course, since I was never on the A team for 25-mans, I ignored this and PUG’d for Heroic Sethekk (which was the daily for the third time). Surely enough, they were lacking people, so they pulled me and my friend in while we were midway through the instance. I normally don’t abandon my groups, but this was too good to pass along.

It was a good thing that I had just finished regemming the day before for my newly acquired [Fiend Slayer Boots] and getting hit-capped again. Of course, since I didn’t bother about anything about Black Temple earlier, I was thoroughly unprepared with very little consummables. I only had a handful of mana potions and 2 stacks of health potions, no buff food, and no pet food. I also had half a stack of agility elixirs. Oh well, into the raid we go.

When I stepped into Black Temple, the Illidan loading screen gave me shivers.

The Hand of Fate comes face to face with High Warlord Naj'entus.

The Hand of Fate comes face to face with High Warlord Naj'entus.

When I said they were lacking in DPS, I really meant that we had 2 slots empty, and this is after we brought in everyone, including those who had mostly Karazhan gear. We had two or three partial wipes on trash mobs, but we kept chugging along slowly. The annoying part was that the Aqueous Spawns come back pretty fast after they’ve been killed, so every time we wipe, we end up having to kill one or two that have reappeared. It took us about 45 minutes before we reached High Warlord Naj’entus because we kept having to resurrect and rebuff.

The first Black Temple raid wipe.

The first Black Temple raid wipe.

I stand by my words that 25-man raids are organized chaos. Everyone was pretty finger-trippy for the first couple of tries on the boss. We had positioning and response time issues for the first three tries or so on Naj’entus. The fight basically is a tank and spank with the exception of a few things. Naj’entus does Frost damage AoE, so the paladins have to put up Frost Resistance Aura. He does a Tidal Shield every minute or so and throws out 2 Naj’entus Spines at people. These spines have to be picked up by someone else near them quick before it does too much damage. They will then be used simultaneously (like cube-clicking for Magtheridon) to bring down the Tidal Shield. When it comes down, everyone gets 8500 Frost damage. The trick is to not have less than 8500 health when the shield comes down or you will die. It’s kind of hard trying to keep yourself up with cooldowns on bandages, potions, and healthstones. Your mana isn’t unlimited either.

Wiping and learning how to fight Naj'entus.

Wiping and learning how to fight Naj'entus.

In our final two tries, we managed to fill all 25 slots as people came online. We ended up in a group that had 4 hunters (3 beast mastery and myself as marksman). It was pretty ridiculous. We brought in every single DPS we could find. Fortunately, another one of my friends who has a shaman healer also logged on, so they pulled him in. He basically kept spamming Chain Heal for everyone.

The furthest we got Naj’entus down was to 26%. It was pretty exciting, though hunters always seemed to be one of the first to die. The last attempt, although only to about 45%, was a better experience for the healers because they were able to coordinate better. I did stay alive longer. We called the raid when most of the trash mobs on the way to Naj’entus respawned about 3 hours later. The only thing that dropped was an [Empyrean Sapphire].

So this means I just totally skipped Tier 5 content right?

Some analysis: Because my lag is horrible in 25-mans, I’ve decided to use macros for my rotations, as provided by QQPewPew. I figured it wouldn’t do me any good if I have to weave shots manually with the bad latency that I have. I was pretty satisfied with the results. From what I could tell, I only missed one or two Kill Commands compared to a few more if I do a manual click/button hybrid. While a mishap resulted in no parse of the fight from last night, I felt that the shots were weaved and timed much more nicely than if I had tried to do it by hand. I was actually keeping up with our beast mastery hunters in dealing out damage. I went ahead and tried it again later on in a PUG Zul’Aman, and the results were phenomenal. I was a close second in damage output (I blame the lag), though there was no actual DPS meter, so I couldn’t tell how much the improvement was.

The only problem I had with those macros is that Multi Shot did not seem to kick in at all when using the second macro. I’m not sure why. I probably could have come out with more damage in Black Temple, but that surely would have caused aggro problems in Zul’Aman.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.