Friday, July 31, 2009

Preparing for 3.2

I know I've read this over the past couple days, but darned if I can't find the reference now. But I'm gonna press forward and tell everybody what to do anyway. lol.

For those that have paid attention to the PTR or the patch notes or any Wow reporting site lately, you'll know that there's a new patch coming out, probably soon, and in that patch, among other things, there will be a new 5-man instance called Trial of the Champion.

This instance will drop a ton of purples on both normal and heroic modes. From my understanding (and again, not even having transferred a single toon over to the PTR this time), there are 3 events that drop one purple each. The first event starts out with jousting, so you may want to brush up on your skills there. Normal mode drops ilvl 200 and Heroic is ilvl 213.

Also on Heroic, each encounter awards you with a Champion's Seal. BUT... (and this is the part I can't find a reference for) you only get the Seals if you are a champion already. So, if you haven't done anything at all, you'll need to do the 4 daily quest for 5 days so that you can be knighted by your race. (Up to you if you want to be knighted by the other 4 factions as well.) And while the Champion's Seals won't buy you Tier 9 gear, they may provide some upgrades, or at the very least a pet you can sell on the AH. :)

So... if you've done nothing for the Tournament, you need to start today. You'll complete you're 5th set of dailies on Tuesday and then you can go do the Trial of Champion and get your Seals. Then again, that's assumming that 3.2 is going live on Tuesday. And being that they haven't closed the PTR yet, I'm guessing you probably have at least another week. But don't procrastinate too long.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hit Cap: Fast Track

Like most casters, it's important for a dps shaman to get spell hit capped. It doesn't matter if you're enhancement or elemental, you still need to not miss with your spells. For Enhancement Dranei shaman, the magic number is 420 (that's 16% hit against a level 83 boss).

One of the reasons my dps was so poor the other night was that my spell hit was so low. (The other reason was because of my horrible weapons, which I'm working on, but that's really a whole other post.) So if the magic number is 420, I was sitting at 143. That means that aproximately 10.65% of the time, I missed with my spells. Ugh.

So, I figured that I'd work towards getting closer to that number. Little did I realize that 2 days later, I'd be hit capped.

Now, I get to cheat a lot as a Jewelcrafter. I get to create a Figurine - Twilight Serpent and throw in 2 Rigid Dragon's Eyes to get an instant 96 Hit rating. The Ring of Scarlet Shadows with a +16 hit gem in it produces another 54 spell hit. Throw in a belt buckle and another Dragon's eye gem for 27 more. Then add some Dragonstompers for another 26 to make a total of 362 hit.

Wow! And I didn't even set foot into a single instance for those upgrades. BUT... that still doesn't get me to 420. I'm still about 58 short. So, I'll still miss about 2.23% of the time.

So, what does one do? He recommits his wife to run instances with him (3% hit from Misery) and then I'm actually 20 spell hit over cap. I guess I can change one of the gems to an expertise gem.

And THAT, my friends, is how you get hit capped. lol.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Off-spec Gearing

Here's yet another post that will probably alienate a number of people, but at least this one is Wow related. And it won't alienate them as much as have them rolling their eyes thinking, "Yeah, duh! We've done that for years."

Let me start off by giving some background. I've been playing Wow for over 4 years now. During that time, I've had exactly 1 main, my mage, Leiandra. I've also leveled various alts, mostly on the same server. My mage always hit level cap first with each expansion, but I've had these alts as well. My priest hit level cap back in Vanilla Wow. Both my Shaman and Priest hit level cap in TBC. And so far, just my Shaman has hit level cap in Wrath. Besides the actual leveling process, I haven't done much of anything else with these toons except to level them to level and sometimes profession cap.

Now, as I've mentioned, I've been focusing on my shaman quite a bit and having a lot of fun doing it. From 70 to 80, I leveled him as enhancement, but started looking for resto quest rewards at around 78, because that's where I wanted to eventually end up. So, now I have this hybrid toon. My first one. So while I have my main spec of resto, I have this other spec of enhancement. Now the logical gear choice probably would have been to be elemental for my other spec, but it still would have required gear, and if I want a ranged DPS, I might as well just use my mage, right?

So, I've done a decent job of researching my resto set. I know there's still a lot of upgrades that I need, but I've got most of my stuff pretty well tied up. Enchants are fairly in order. Proper gems, including my jewelcrafting gems. My resto set is doing quite well.

Well, now I have this semi-neglected set. And as the case would have it last night, I went on a run with a bunch of friends. And the usual healer is a dual spec'ed Disc/Holy Priest. She heals. That's it. We had enough DPS to cover my crappy DPS, so I wasn't worried about that. I even played the hybrid role and threw a few key heals. I even off-tanked a mob that was beating on the priest for a bit. And at the end of the run, when I asked how my dps was, I wasn't even surprised that the tank had done more damage than me.

Pretty sad though. But what do I expect with level 75 quest reward items (with a couple purples and greens, but mostly blues) that are gemmed with green gems and no enchants against a full purple tank? And since we're all friends, it was no big deal, but on a normal run, I'd be that guy. Then again, to be fair.. in a raid, I'd probably be healing, but still... I don't want to be that guy. I don't need to be top dps in my off-spec either, but I certainly want to be above the tank.

So, in a way, with one toon, it really feels like I have to spend twice the amount of time on him. That's twice the researching. Twice the farming. But at least it's only 1 raid lock out. lol.

Oh, and not to mention that the research is much more difficult when I'm now looking at 3 armor qualities instead of just cloth as before. Sure, I'd like to be in mail, but that's not always what drops. In fact, it's almost too much math. Like I just want somebody to tell me at each drop if that's an upgrade. 'Cause not only might it be an upgrade for one set, but possibly also for my other set!!!

Wow. I finally have a whole new appreciation and understanding for the raiders that we had that had gear for both of their specs.

Project Chicken Coop: Complete

Okay, here's a warning up front: this post has absolutely nothing to do with Wow. It's completely personal, and it may bore most of you to death. That said, it is my blog, and so I'm gonna post about it.

For those of you that know me, you probably know that we decided that our family just wasn't a dog and/or cat family, so somehow we settled on buying chickens. For quite some time, I've been working on completing the coop for the chickens so they could eventually live outside in it. When I was mostly done with the coop (thanks to much help from my father-in-law), we purchased the 4 chicks at the beginning of June. My wife blogged about it here.

Then I've been working on the chicken run (think dog run, but for chickens). With trips to Legoland and other life things that have gone on (not to mention the demotivator of the heat), it's take me a bit of time, but the run is finally finished as well. (See completion post here.)

I've never been much into building things, more of a computer programmer-type guy. So, I'm really proud of what I've been able to pull off, with a good bit of help from my father-in-law and a friend/neighbor. So for anyone still wondering: No, we don't live in the "country". And yes, chickens are legal where we live. We can have up to 6. We have 4. And somewhere between another 2 to 4 months, we should start having fresh eggs.

Now back to our regularly scheduled Wow blogging.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Definitive Definition: Casual and Hardcore

Darraxus got me thinking about the age-old debate of Hardcore vs. Casual. I think most of us have probably bent the meaning of those terms in one way or another so that it fits our current needs. Heck! Look at the name of my blog. I didn't consider Primogeniture "Hardcore", but for a long time I don't think I could really call us "Casual" either. So, we were really just a shade of gray, but probably on the Hardcore side. (We may want to consider a scale of 1 to 10 here, and at one point, I was probably about an 8.)

So here it is. I've spent countless years hours minutes researching, contemplating and calculating so that I can give the true definition of a Casual and Hardcore Wow player.

  • If you consistently clear the highest level content, you may be hardcore.
  • If you have an arena rating above 2000, you may be hardcore.
  • If you have the Title of Seeker or Loremaster, you may be hardcore.
  • If you've never sold a single thing on the AH, you may be casual.
  • If you've never obtained a mount, you may be casual.
  • If you have an active account, but log in only once a week... maybe... then you may be casual.
Basically, it comes down to this: there are certain actions that will you put you in the Casual or Hardcore camps. Heck, having a level 80 toon would be considered a "hardcore" activity for somebody that's just starting. But just because you have one hardcore or casual activity, it doesn't mean that you are always that way.

I think everybody goes through phases. Even the guys from [insert World First Guild Name here] usually take a break once everybody has all the loot they want out a dungeon. My wife, who I would consider pretty casual atm, has a level 80 toon and has even killed 3 bosses in Ulduar.

The point is, that you're almost always going to find somebody with more (or less) /played time than you. You're almost always going to find somebody with better (or worse) gear. The Casual / Hardcore debate isn't black and white. It's gray. Gray as the ocean is wide. The important thing is that you have fun while wading through this grayness. If you get black every once and awhile, good for you. Just make sure that you balance it out with some white. Maybe throw some leftover snowballs at the rogue that's about to sap a target. Trust me... it's great fun.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mage UI: First Step - Nostromo Game Pad

I've been thinking about what I can do to free up space on my screen. I'm just not happy with the way everything is currently laid out, and I know I can do better. Will it increase my DPS by insane amounts? Will it make me out heal the uberest of uber-geared folks? Of course not, but it's really something I'd like to do.

So.... since I've had a Nostromo game pad since Christmas... of 2007, I figure that I should finally put it to use. Phaelia over at Resto4Life had posted about how she uses (or used as the case may be) the game pad here. For a mage, it's basically a starting point. At least for me it was. I can't really get all of my spells to fit in the 29 slots that she's suggesting. Nonetheless, it gave me some great idea for both my mage and my shaman (which I'll go over at a later date).

I know all of you mages are sitting on the edge of your sit wanting to know how I'm going to set up my keys, so here goes:

12Icy Veins / CombustionMirror Image
13Use Mana GemSpellsteal
14Dragon's BreathArcane Missiles
21Fire BlastIce Lance
22CounterspellRemove Curse
24Living BombScorch
25Frostfire BoltPyroblast
31Fire WardFrost Ward
32Arcane IntellectArcane Brilliance
33Dampen MagicAmplify Magic
34Mana ShieldArcane Explosion
35BlinkFrost Nova

This still means that I have a pool of spells I don't have bars for (Arcane Blast, Fireball, Frostbolt, Mage Armor (I'll let SmartBuff take care of that one, could probably remove Arcane Int/Brilliance as well), Ice Armor, and Cone of Cold). There's also set of spells that I'll have off on the side somewhere such as Professions, Portals, and other non-combat essential items. (I suppose Slow Fall is debatable on that list, but it's in there nonetheless.) I also have potions on that list. I know, I know... they would be combat "essential" but with everything being freed up for non-clicking, I figured those two items wouldn't be a big deal. So, I'm off to install Bartender to see if this setup will work for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making a Difference

I've told a number of my friends how much I've enjoyed playing my shaman. Heck, I think I've mentioned it here in this blog as well. I obviously really enjoy playing Wow. And I really enjoy playing the game with others, hence why MMO's in general have such a big appeal to me. But the thing that's really appealing to me lately is being able to make such a substantial difference as a healer.

Now, by that last sentence, I am not professing to be some uber healer. I have mostly blue gear. I probably overheal a ton. But I enjoy doing it.

Last Saturday night, we ventured in to Ulduar. We took down Flame Leviathan pretty easily, but that's really not role or class specific. You could walk in there with 10 mages and still down it pretty easily. What we were lacking for the next fight (Deconstructor) was a healer. We had 2, and with our group, we knew it would be a challenge. I kept volunteering to grab my shaman (I was on my mage), but the raid leader wanted me on my mage. (He knows how blue my gear is on my shaman, maybe he really didn't think I could help out, who knows. lol.) After a couple of wipes on Deconstructor, I grabbed my shaman. We had one wipe after that, but it was more of a communication error, and then we took him down easily. Also Razorscale went down easily with me helping to heal.

So, after the struggles we were having with only 2 healers, I knew it was me healing that made the difference. (Again, I'm not trying to take credit from the other 2 healers, I'm sure they did a much better job than I did.) It was the difference between a night of wipes and downing just 1 boss, and success with the short amount of time we had and downing 3 bosses.

And I guess that's also why I like PvE. In PvP, there's a winner and a loser. While you don't know your opponent, there's still a human controling that toon. With PvE, it's a bunch of friends playing against a computer. So all human partipants win with the boss dies. Partly the same reason I like games like Rock Band and Guitar Heroes, and sports games where you can play against a challenging computer opponent with your friends.

At any rate, healing a group has been a lot of fun, and I hope to do it a lot more in the future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My UI Sucks

That's the funny thing about inspiration: you never really know when it's going to hit.

I was playing Wizard101 with my kids last night. (I think I've mentioned that I play that on occasion before.) It's a very whimsical game. The combat speed is good for my 5 and 7 year olds. At any rate, it's a very minimalistic UI. As you can see from the Screen Shot here on the right, there's really not much to it. You have your basic health and mana in the lower left corner. You have your xp bar in the bottom center. Chat and interaction buttons are found in the upper left. A compass and the options button (that also opens up all spellbooks and gear and such) is in the bottom right. (This picture is actually a little old since they've added your various "hearthstones" near the compass.) And I have no idea what it is in the upper right corner; mine is a link to go buy the game or get a membership. (We've always just bought areas when we're ready to go to the next area.)

So, it may not be fair because the combat system is completely different, but after putting the kids to bed, I logged on Wow and started to compare. Holy crap I have a lot of buttons! With 12 standard ones, then another 24 laid across the entire screen just above those, and then another 24 on the right side... And with my shaman (as with my mage for that matter) every single one of those is taken up with something important. Which is actually quite humerous since I know I'm not casting 60 spells!

So, let's focus on the shaman for a second. 3.2 will take care of a lot of these problems since I have a lot of extra buttons just in case I need some random totem. Then, I'm not really sure I need all 3 shock spells. (Well, technically there are 4.) Especially when I'm in Resto (which is only when I'm in a group in an instance).

I know I've put off completely redoing my UI because on my standard screen (non-wide) there's just not a lot of real estate, but really... that's exactly the reason why I should do this.

I really need to go look up my blogging friends' posts. I know I've seen a couple people that have had some great approaches to fixing the UI. Then again... maybe I can put it off so that 3.2 doesn't break all my add-ons. lol.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Browser Usage

Today's post is almost completely non-Wow related. I was reading about Google's new operating system and decided to check out Chrome. It's pretty schnazzy, but Firefox is still my #1 choice. One of the big bonuses is that Chrome seems to load everything really fast. But Ad Block-up Plus (an add-in for Firefox) means that I never have to see all the advertisements... also means that they don't actually load. So, I'll be sticking with Firefox for that reason alone. (Doesn't look like there's a way to block those yet for Chrome. I could be wrong.)

But it seems that I'm not alone in this. According to a small sampling of data from Analytics from my Blog, I.E. isn't the clear cut winner as the media would make you believe. Then again, I doubt the average WoW player (or at least the ones that would be searching for anything they would find on my blog) is anything like the average Internet user. I'm guessing that we're just a slightly be more technical. And with just under 50% of us using Firefox lately, I'm sure that's the case.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Midsummer Festival Flop

I'm not really big on the whole holidays achievements. I think it's really cool that there are holidays in Wow that change the game up a bit, but they're simply not my cup of tea. And every time a new holiday comes out, I forget that for a bit, get all excited to get the achievements for that holiday.

Midsummer Festival was no different. I was all excited about getting this achievement done. With our truly more casual raid schedule, I knew I'd have plenty of time to get it all done. I got the Tabard for both Leiandra and also for Zanderfin. And I even set out to extinguish all of the fires. The key word there being "set out". I got the one in Orgimmar. And then the ones outside of Exodar and Darnassus. There was even going to be the bonus that I could finally finish the Explorer Achievement... which I've never gotten around to doing.

There's a reason I've never done the Explorer Achievement. Because running around the world for these meaningless points is boring. And unless it's a really cool title like "Leiandra, Slayer of all that is Evil"... I'm probably not too interested either.

So, once again, I didn't get the achievement for the holiday. And I'm okay with that. A lot of people enjoy those, and that's fine. It's just not a part of the game that I'm particulary into. I do like however, that you can go back and see when you did certain things. I can tell you when my toons hit 80, for example. Or when I first cleared a certain dungeon. Very cool. But the points for the sake of points... I'm just not that into it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Healing Through: The PvP Edition

In my attempt to gear up Zanderfin, my resto druid, a bit faster, I've resorted to looking at some PvP gear choices. The thing is: it's not going so well. I find that I feel like the Black Knight after his arms have been cut off. I still try to do something, but it feels rather ineffective. With Earth Shield still up and Riptide cast every chance I get, I'm still just prolonging the inevitable when I'm the only one left guarding a point in AB.

Honestly, I really don't know what to do as Resto besides heal. As a mage, pvp was so much easier when I had a pocket healer. It certainly makes sense that I need to have the same as a healer. But I'm finding that Pug pvp is probably as frustrating as Pug groups. People running all over the place and no organization... It's just frustrating. I guess the only thing that makes it slightly less annyoing that running instances with a Pug is that it usually doesn't last as long.

So, I'm really looking for suggestions here. If I can't get anyone to stick by me, what do I do? I'm thinking the best thing may be simply to start Resto ('cause that's what I want to do), but if nobody will stick by me or leaves me in the dust, whatever... I should use my dual spec and go back to Enhancement. Sure the gear's not quite as good, but may seem to make more sense.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Putting the Casual Back In Raiding

I really don't know where to start with the whole 3.2 Patch. Everything that I hear about it seems to be good. I'm sorry, but if there's somebody that's whining about Emblems of Conquest being handed out in Heroics (and all the lower raids) and Emblems of Triumph being handed out through Daily Quests... well... what did you expect? You're obviously Hard Core... and better than all of us (see whut I did thar)... and you'll get your upgraded epics way before the rest of us. So, simmer down, clown.

But one of the best things for casual guilds is the ability to extend raid lock out times. Honestly... one of the best things ever. Take our casual guild now. We run once per week, and generally about 3 hours. It's enough to clear Ulduar's first 4 bosses. And that's about it. There's no way we'd be able to clear Naxx in that amount of time. But in two weeks, completely possible. On our schedule, we'd be "clearing" Ulduar forever and still never see progression in. (Well.. we can skip bosses, but that's not the point.)

The hardcore people still get to be hardcore, but it really opens up some of the deeper parts of raid instances to more casual players. Great move, Blizzard. I wish I would have thought about this myself. (And if I wasn't lazy, I'd dig up the link where I did think this up, 'cause I'm 95% sure I posted about it. I'm 100% sure I've thought that it should have been done before now.)