Friday, 22 August 2008

Is There Someone Else Up There We Can Talk To?

(The Battle for Alterac Valley has begun!)

(The valiant Alliance forces ride south to Frostwolf Keep.)




"... hello?  Who is it?"

"It is King Bronzebeard, and these are my officers of Stormpike.  Whose keep is this?"

"This is the keep of my master General Drek'Thar."

"Go and tell your master that we have been charged by Blue with a sacred quest.  If he will give us food and rested XP for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Honor Token."

"Well, I'll ask heem, but I don't think he'll be very keen.  Uh, he's already got one, you see."

"... What?"  "He says they've already got one!"  "... Are you sure he's got one?"

"Oh yes, it's-a very nice!  (I told them we already got one!)  (sniggers)"

"Well... erm... can we come up and have a look?"

"Of course not!  You are Dwarvish-types!"

"Well what are you, then?"

"I'm an Orc!  Why do you think I have this outrageous accent you silly king?!"

"What are you doing in Alterac?"

"Mind your own business!"


"If you will not show us the token, we shall take your keep by force!"

"Youuuu don't frighten us you Dwarvish barstools!  Go and boil your bottoms you hairy subterranean wombats!  I blow my nose at you so-called Magni King; you and all your silly Stormpike hhhhhhofficers!"

/target King Magni Bronzebeard



"What a strange person..."

"Now look here, my good man..."

"I don' wanna talk to you no more you... empty-headed animal food-trough water!  I /fart in your general direction!  Your captain is a hamster, and your daughter smells of elderberries!"


"Is there someone else up there we could talk to?"

"Uh, no; now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!"

"Now, this is your last chance.  I've been more than reasonable..."

[Orcish] "Fetch the Tauren."

[Orcish] "Huh?  More work?"

[Orcish] "Fetch the Tauren!"

"...if you do not agree to my commands, then I shall..."

(Boing!)  /moo


(Sound of a Tauren landing on a heavily laden gnome, quite possibly causing severe bodily injuries.)




(Sound of Blizzards, Rain of Fire, Frost Traps, Snake Traps, Consecrates and lots and lots of belligerent orcs chopping up the Alliance offensive as it pours into the narrow path into the keep.)

"A.F.K!  They're turtling!"

This really happened the other day.  Granted, it may not be exactly word-for-word correct, but that was the general gist of it.

Every AV game I've played has been about the offense.  We rush to Vanndar, they rush to Drek'Thar; whoever kills 'em first wins.  But the other day was the first time I'd ever seen the Horde turtle.

To be honest, the offensive games are a bit boring.  We take some ground, we lose a little, we take some back... the majority of the fighting basically boils down to running into the fray and trying not to die really, really fast to AoE.

This time, I randomly decided to go on defense (I tend to split it 70/30, with the 70 being me going on offense.)  A scant few followed me in to the keep, and I dutifully set my trap and flare down and waited.  As time went on and the Alliance forces began engaging the Horde stragglers, taking graveyards on the way, more and more Horde started coming to my side of the battlements.

By the time our last tower outside the keep fell, I'd say about 25% of our forces were on defense inside the keep itself, with most of the others fighting scattered battles outside.

Wave after wave came at us.  Rogues kept sneaking past and trying to cap the relief hut, or take out the two towers either side of the gate, but we kept pushing them back out.  Eventually, they forced almost the entire Horde army inside the gates.

For a while, it was nail-bitingly close.  I don't think we were more than 40 or 50 reinforcements ahead of the Alliance.  And then the worst happened.

They summoned Ivus.

Now, I don't play a lot of AV.  I've certainly never seen the elemental dudes spawned.  So I was under the somewhat erroneous impression that Ivus was our guy.  I rode out to see him flatten the Alliance forces.

"Oh crap.  Giant, angry tree.  Run away.  Very fast.  Entire Alliance army behind him.  He has a 3-stack of Lifebloom.  We're boned."

But someone had a plan.  Not, on face value, a very good plan.  "Kite him to Drek!"  This, to me, seemed like a fairly iffy plan; wasn't that what the Alliance was trying to do?

But kite him they did, with the sea of red text charging behind him.  I put down a Frost Trap; I really can't say whether it helped or not.

Into Drek's room he went.

And then the Alliance made a horrific mistake.

I don't know what happened, but from where I was standing, it looked like they waltzed into Drek's chamber and started breaking out the celebratory crackers and cheese, patting themselves on the backs for a job well done.

They didn't appear to notice the Horde forces standing in the middle of the room turning their healers into smears on the wall.  They just stood there while we tore them apart.  And with their healers toast, we turned on Ivus.

Incidentally, Drek makes an awesome tank for a Shammy.

And Ivus went down.  All that effort, and we just creamed him.

At this point, the Alliance went limp.  I killed a priest outside the keep who just stood there and took it.  I think I might have gotten a point in 1H Sword skill.

Then we rode out of the keep, took back our graveyard thankyouverymuch, and won by a fairly considerable margin.

It was the damn longest AV I've ever been in, but it was an absolute blast.

And you know what made it all the sweeter?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Beta Impressions: Welcome to Northrend

No, I'm not going to be posting about the beta exclusively from now on.  This is just a result of nothing of interest [1] happening on live this last week and a bit, while lots of interesting things happened in the beta.

I've decided not to post much in the way of concrete details on the beta content.  I want to keep this blog relatively spoiler-free; to the extent that instead of describing the details of a quest or NPC conversation, I'll probably just mention the general concept and move on.  Maybe the odd landscape screenshot or the like, but nothing really spoilery.

One aspect of that are the letters from Northrend; they let me poke fun at the beta content without having to explicitly talk about it.

So, impressions of entering Northrend for the first time; what can you expect on day one?

Crash, Bang, Boom!

Hopefully what you do not experience are error dialogs telling you that the data files are corrupted, that they cannot be repaired, and you have to sit through an hour and a half install again.

For the eighth time.

Because that's how many times I've had to reinstall Wrath so far; that's not even counting the times that I tried to install and had it fail.  I don't know what Blizz has done to their installer, but it's garbage at the moment.  It looks like it's not bothering to validate that the files it installs are actually valid; so when you get to the latest patch an hour later, you find that a random file's been corrupted and you have to reinstall.

(Incidentally, that's what Its' "fainting" problem was a symptom of.)

For now, I appear to have a reasonably stable install, which is nice.

Welcome to Northrend, Here's Your Axe

The first time you step into Outland, there's a real sense that you're not in Azeroth any more.  Outland is weird and alien; that made it exciting the first time, but nowadays the only Outland zone I still really like is Nagrand, which is ironically the most "normal" zone there is.

Northrend is completely different.  It doesn't feel out of place in Azeroth; Blizzard could have shoved it in next to any existing Azeroth zones, and it would have fit right in.  The difference is that the Northrend zones feel more... polished.  More epic.  Bigger and better.

Outland's zones were, I think, better designed, but suffered from a very alien art direction.  Northrend is even more well-designed in comparison to Outland, but returns to a more classic Warcraft art style.

It also, as I said, feels more epic.  For example, the first time I flew from Orgrimmar to Warsong Hold, I had to wonder whether the hold had been built into the side of a massive canyon... only to realise I was just in an utterly colossal building.  There's also the conversations with the NPCs themselves.  As your character "grows up," you are very much a nobody.  You're not a big hero like Jaina or Thrall.  You're just a freelance warrior among the multitudes.

But there are times in Northrend where the NPCs stop and say "wow; I can't believe you really did that.  You're awesome!"  When you have the leader for the Horde forces in Northrend praise you for your efforts, organise an honour guard for you and give you one of his wolf mounts to get you to the front lines, you start to feel like an actual somebody.

And it's bloody fantastic.

"I seek the holy grail!"

Quests are also much better in Wrath than in either vanilla or BC.  Sure, there's still the "kill N of X, Y and Z," "gather Q of J" and even a few dreaded "escort M back to N" quests in there.  But they feel more polished.  I'm yet to come across a quest where I groaned and felt like putting off doing it because I could see it being a real pain.

Take the kill quests for example: normally you get something along the following lines:

Deathstalker Biggles wants you to kill 5 Fluffy Penguins, 6 Harmless Penguins and 14 Baby Seals.

But now, most of the quests look like this:

Deathstalker Biggles wants you to kill 20 Fuzzy Defenceless Critters.

There's still a number of the "old style" there, but they tend to be much easier to accomplish, and won't see you running around half the zone trying to find the type of mob that, inexplicably, only spawns about 5% of the time.

And then there are the vehicle quests.  I've seen a number of people complaining that the addition of vehicles is going to turn WoW into a glorified online Halo clone, but it's simply not true.  Do you know what the first "vehicle" I encountered was?

A horse.

Seriously; there's a quest to steal yourself a horsie.  You go up to it, and it has the "enter vehicle" cursor on it.  You click on it, and your character jumps on (quite literally, I might add; you don't just appear on its back in a puff of smoke) and you ride off with it.

Really, the vehicle system is just a way for Blizzard to make it so that you can hop on or into some other object in the world, be it a mount, a vehicle or a structure, and use special abilities that apply to just that object.

And unlike the bombing quests from BC, each of the vehicle quests thus far has been different.  I've ridden on the back of a stolen horse, driven around a field of battle on a tank, flown on a wyrm, and manned a static gun emplacement.

I also want to go out on a tangent briefly in order to highlight a moment from Wrath.  This has very light spoilers in it, so I'm hiding it in a little spoiler box.  If you want to see it, click in the box (you'll need JavaScript enabled) or simply disable styling on this page.

You're down on the beach near a small outpost with a scant few tents.  A much larger outpost lies just up the coast, shrouded in mist.  The place looks completely abandoned, and you're told that it was attacked by some nameless force.  The Tuskarr near one tent seems reluctant to name the attackers, apparently out of fear that invoking their name will summon them.

You are tasked with getting back some of his possessions, as well as the standard death and destruction that goes with attempting to recover any outpost.

But before you go, they tell you to be careful: they've already sent a number of people into the mist... and none have returned.

So I'm standing there, thinking that this is just a load of rubbish.  Thanks to my goggles with built-in zoom feature, as well as Eagle Eye, I know the place is deserted.  Maybe there's some sort of debuff for entering the mist?

Ah, who cares?!  I run forward, figuring on just running around to grab the quest items and...

...and then my vision narrows, the corners of the screen whiten out, and the NPCs disappear from sight.  Everything goes slightly foggy and then I see... something moving in the mist.  What the...

I back out of the mist; the NPCs return, and whatever was in the mist disappears.  OK, so Blizz is trying to mess with me, are they?

I head back into the mist, and carefully make my way in to meet the enemy...


I have to say that whilst not the most original idea ever, the execution of this particular enemy species is exceptionally well done; especially with the spooky atmosphere!

So those of you out there who love questing, I think you're going to be very happy with Wrath.

Lowbie Tanking Ninja Turtle

Another thing I can't help but have noticed are the changes to Hunter pets.  I won't go into excruciating detail on these right now, but I wanted to get this out:

My turtle is not only usable, but arguably a better levelling pet than my cat.

Here's the thing: back in vanilla and BC, turtles sucked.  Yes, they had excellent mitigation, but that couldn't offset their laughable damage output and threat generation.  They basically couldn't hold aggro off a baby kitten.

They couldn't tank in instances, they couldn't out-dps a fairy with a slightly damp tissue, and no one ever seemed to sell food they would eat.

Which is probably why Bisque ended up falling about 20 levels behind.

However, with the changes to Hunter pets in Wrath, Bisque is now a better levelling pet than Tiddles for one simple reason:

I can't pull aggro off him.

And he's two levels below me.

Tiddles' threat generation is more or less on-par with what he currently does, maybe a bit higher.  But Bisque's is through the roof.  Unless Wrath has bugged out and re-enabled Cower again (oh, how I hate that) or I've started going all-out before he got the first hit in, it's really hard for me to pull aggro.  The little guy just keeps on truckin'!

And he's got a lot of awesome toys now: a taunt, intercept and of course his shield.  Tiddles still blows Bisque out of the water in terms of damage output, but Bisque can now actually hold a mob's attention.

As I said, Tiddles is still pretty much still Tiddles.

There have been a few major changes to my Dragonhawk, Smaug.  He now has a focus dump, so he does decent DPS.  Fire Breath still makes me a little nervous in crowded areas, but he seems to make a pretty decent levelling pet.

Replacing Skill With Button-Mashing

And then there's the Steady Shot change.  Let me just say first off that it had to be made.  Hunters were penalised more than any other class based on their network latency.  But manually weaving my shots was part of what made being a Hunter exciting for me; knowing that I had to actually get my timing right to maximise my DPS.

And before you say it, no a macro would not have worked just as well.  Using a macro led to a 10% loss in DPS; please leave your raving zealotry at the door.

But with this change, Hunter DPS really does just boil down to "mash X until it's dead."  I know Blizzard isn't finished with our class yet, but I really hope they come up with some way of complicating our DPS that doesn't depend on network conditions or some other factor outside our control.

On the whole, Wrath looks to be shaping up really nicely.  Blizzard are clearly raising their own bar on this one, improving (even if in just a small way) on pretty much every aspect of the game.

Also, if you have any questions about Wrath, feel free to ask them, and I'll do my best to answer them.

[1]  I didn't think a Kara run that got called on Moroes, a Gruul's run I didn't go on and farming Mudfish for a few hours qualified as "interesting."  :P

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Northrend Letters (Part I)

Dear mum and dad,

Well, I seem to have landed up in the less-entirely-hospitable-than-I-would-have-liked continent of Northrend. You see, I was approached by some representatives of our mighty Warchief Thrall, who asked me if I would be willing to participate in a little scouting "expedition."

The first warning sign should have been the way they said "expedition," complete with air-quotes. They do not appear terribly accustomed to subterfuge. In any event, they made their case and I agreed.

Also, they gave me sandwiches. Really nice ones with pork and just enough gravy so's you can taste it, but not so much that the bread goes all soggy.

The zeppelin ride over was largely uneventful, apart from when a gang of pirates attempted to board us. This did not go so well for them considering that we were in a zeppelin and they in a boat. But I must give the Bloodsail Buccaneers credit for enthusiasm, if not for deductive reasoning.

After several hours of flying north, we arrived at the Forsaken port of Vengeance Landing in the Howling Fjord. Various persons had informed me that this place represented the first look at the Forsaken's own style of architecture, and thus was an important milestone in their cultural development.

However, I cannot help but think that they did not design their buildings with conventional properties such as structural integrity or aesthetics in mind. It appears they designed each structure to provide the maximal electrical conductivity. One cannot walk from one end of the settlement to the other without having to comb one's hair.

Upon arriving, I noted that Tiddles' fur was standing on-end. At first, I surmised that he must have detected the odiferous scent of cheese nearby, for you surely remember Tiddles'... aversion to cheese.

I changed my theory when his tail spontaneously caught fire. He now refuses to go anywhere near the town lest he combust again.

Sadly, I am yet to go out into the wilds and assess the situation here. There appears to be a problem of some kind whereby any time I attempt to walk south of Vengeance Landing, I suddenly pass out and wake up later back at the town.

Last time it happened, I woke up with a damn pencil stuck up my nose! Personally, I suspect those bloody apothecaries; they're always up to no good.

In any event, I shall make sure to write to you both again when I have more to say. If the fainting issue cannot be adequately resolved, I shall likely go to Borean Tundra and try my luck there.

Your now and, for the foreseeable future, present son.


Paper texture courtesy of BittBox.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Advantages of Being an Addon Developer

Please don't hate me...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


Big Bear Butt recently posted about how there's an awful lot of content out there in vanilla WoW that most players haven't seen before.  Every time I log on, I see people complaining about how they're bored, and that Blizzard needs to hurry up with Wrath because there's nothing to do.

To paraphrase BBB: rubbish.

A few weeks back, as I said previously, I joined OathBound.  Within 60 seconds of being invited in, I was asked if I wanted to come to ZG.  Yes, Zul'Gurub; the guild was having a fun-run.  ZG was one of the few raid instances I'd done back in vanilla WoW, so it wasn't like I hadn't done a few full clears.  And it's not like there's much of anything you can get from ZG that's still useful at 70.

But I went along, and I had a blast.  I can't describe how good it felt to not just one-shot Bloodlord Mandokir, but to completely destroy him.  Fighting Hakkar again was great fun, and I even got to kill Gahz'ranka, who I had never seen before.

The week after, the guild was in Molten Core.  We only got as far as Baron Geddon before calling it, but again it was just so enjoyable to run around tearing these once-feared bosses to ribbons.  I remember having to decurse the Lucifron fight on my druid.  On dialup.  Without Decursive.  Needless to say, it's a hell of a lot more entertaining when you're just in charge of bringing the pew-pew.

And this week, the guild headed over to the Dread Citadel itself.  Unfortunately, it didn't go so well.  The major issue seemed to be a lack of people.  With no upgrades for them, most didn't seem interested in coming.

I was absent for an entirely different reason: I'd reached my broadband quota a few days earlier, and was speed-capped.  Which means that while I can do just fine on a Kara run, I was disconnected inside Naxxramas within 10 seconds; instantly if someone entered combat.

I'd really love to see Naxx.  And BWL.  And AQ.  All the places and fights I never got to see back before BC.  I suppose I find it hard to understand how someone can invest time into this game and not want to see and do as much as they can.

Sure, there's no upgrades to be had from MC or Naxx.  But those pieces of gear that drop out of BT or Sunwell; the ones you covet so much... WotLK is going to make those obsolete.  You'll be back at the bottom of the food chain again.  If all you get out of playing WoW is better gear, then you'll have nothing to show for all that effort.

On the other hand, I'm coming away with something worth far more; something you won't find on any loot table: memories and fun.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

I Think I'll Go For a Walk

You're not fooling anybody.

So, I was just standing there when a spaceship full of Fire Bears flew down and abducted the 'e' key from my keyboard.  Unable to form a complete, correctly-spelled sentence, I was left unable to blog until I was able to order a replacement in from Norway (where they grow keyboard keys in large underground caves.)

What are you looking at me like that for?  Don't you trust me?  Would I lie to you?

Ok, yes, I would.  Great big whoppers, at that.  But at least you can always tell when I'm making stuff up!

Not at all suddenly changing the subject:

Two weeks ago, I finally changed guilds.  The old guild, <Fury> was more or less a social levelling guild that had kinda fallen apart as the higher-level members started moving over to raiding guilds.  I'd stayed there because I wasn't sure whether I was going to be transferring Its to another server soon or not.  In the end, I decided to stay and applied to <OathBound>.

A few days of waiting, a few quick questions online, and I had a new tag.

A week ago, I got in to my first Karazhan run.  As in, ever.  Despite getting my first toon to 70 within a few weeks of BC's launch, I never ended up raiding for a variety of reasons.  It was a huge thrill to head in there for the first time and see all these bosses that I'd read about and seen in videos.

And I only died a few times!

It was quite fun; even when we got to Opera and the rest of the group said we were going to do the "hunter thing" as a form of "initiation."  Luckily, the event was Big Bad Wolf, so I didn't die and I got to laugh at their failed attempt to get me killed.

As for the bosses, we managed to two shot Big Bad Wolf  (on the first attempt, the order of Little Red Ridinghooding went Main Tank, Off Tank, Main Healer, Other Healer, One Of The Tanks Again which made things somewhat unstable.)  We had to take four tries at Aran [1] before he went down, and a bad infernal drop combined with marginally inaccurate positioning caused us to wipe once on Prince.  Aside from the optional bosses (which we didn't end up having time for,) we one-shot everything else.

Oh yeah, and this dropped:

Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle
Binds when picked up
Ranged Gun
149 - 278 Damage Speed 2.70
(79.1 damage per second)
+15 Agility
Durability 90 / 90
Requires Level 70
Equip: Increases attack power by 32.

The other hunter was a troll, and was holding out for a bow, so I ended up getting it.  I'm still adjusting to the change in weapon speeds; I went from a 1.74s shot rotation to a ~2.0s shot rotation, so I still hit Steady Shot slightly too early some times.

One other final bit of gloating, though: I went in to Kara with one purple ([Surestrike Goggles v2.0],) two greens ([Core of Ar'kelos] and [Leafbeard Ring]) and with the rest of my gear being blue.  The rest of the party were in, more or less, Kara or higher epics.

(In the interests of full disclosure, those meters are from Curator on.)

Damage meters aren't everything; but to get up there on my first run with "crappy" blues... I'm a happy little hunter.

(Incidentally, there was going to be a funny picture of Its posing with the Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle, and Tiddles thinking about how Its is probably just compensating for something... except WoW Model Viewer doesn't seem to like my new machine.  You'll just have to imagine it on your own.)

  1. And no, I didn't move during flame wreath! ... I just got caught in the blizzard repeatedly...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Its' Baseless Speculation Time!

So, you might have noticed a little bit of hubub in the last day or so when Blizzard lifted the NDA, kicked off the open beta of WotLK, and information started pouring out.

Happily, we've finally gotten a look at what new talents and abilities Hunters will have come WotLK.  Since it seems to be the "hip" thing to be doing right now, here's my take on some of the changes:

Being Talented

Master's Call [NYI]
Rank 1/1
7% of base mana 40 yd range
Instant cast 1 min cooldown
Your pet attempts to remove all stun and movement impairing effects on the target, and cause them to be immune to all effects for 4 sec.

This apparently is replacing Animal Handler.  For the life of me, I cannot see how Blizzard is going to rationalise this.  I mean, it's cool and all, but how exactly does an animal make someone immune to movement impairing effects?

Believe it or not, Tiddles is actually not at all qualified to perform amputations...

Perhaps it's best not to ask...

Cobra Strikes
Rank 3/3
You have a 60% chance when you critically hit with Arcane Shot, Steady Shot or Kill Shot to cause your pet's next 3 special attacks to critically hit.

I find this interesting since it basically increases your pet's ability to keep Frenzy up (heck; maybe we could drop another point from it!)  But by itself, it's not that incredible.  That's why I want to pair it with:

Rank 2/2
When your pet scores a critical hit with a special ability, you instantly regenerate 2% mana.

Let's do a little light theorycrafting.  Currently, I have ~20% crit, and an attack speed of 1.74 seconds.  Averaging that out, that means I'm hitting a target ~1.15 times a second with a 1:1 rotation.  Taking a 20% crit rate, that's 0.23 crits per second.  Which is 0.14 Cobra Strike procs per second.  Now, let's assume that Cobra Strikes doesn't proc again until our pet has gotten his three specials off.  We'll also assume we have a focus dump, and that we can supply him with enough focus to keep using it.

Combined with 2/2 Invigoration, three crits per Cobra Strikes proc, 0.14 procs per second and a base of 6200 mana, that's:

~0.14 procs per second × 3 crits per proc × (2% of 6200 mana) per crit = ~51 mana per second

That's about 256 MP5.  You'd need to be able to supply your pet with 17 focus per second; according to Cheeky's spreadsheet, I'm currently at 24 focus per second.  What's interesting is that also according to Cheeky's, I use 69 mana per second during my 1:1 rotation, which is about 347 MP5.   Let's switch on Viper, which gives me (in the average case) 87 MP5.  That means if I got just 4 MP5 from other sources, I'd never actually run out of mana...

Beast Mastery [NYI]
Rank 1/1
You master the art of Beast Training, teaching you the ability to tame Exotic pets and increasing your total amount of Pet Skill Points by 5.

This, right here, is huge.  Let's deal with the second half first.

... increasing your total amount of Pet Skill Points by 5.

For those that aren't aware, loyalty and the Training Point system is being thrown out for a simpler talent-like system.  Starting at level 20, pets will get one Skill Point every four levels to spend in their talent tree (each pet family has access to one of the three pet talent trees that will be available.)  That makes for a total of 16 points at level 80 (not 15 as most people seem to think; they're forgetting the point you get at level 80.)

This means that BM hunters will have access to 21 points.  But there obviously has to be somewhere to spend those points.  Additionally, I don't think Blizzard will have the talent trees set up in such a way that allows BM hunters to completely max their pet out, so we can probably assume that pet talent trees will have at least 26, maybe 31 points you can potentially spend in them.  The only question now is whether this will allow BM hunters to "back-fill" their pets' talents, or go deeper into the tree into some 21-point über talents.

The other half is also really interesting.  As you should be aware, there are various beasts that are simply not tameable by hunters.  For example, there is no tameable basilisk or mana wyrm in the game, despite these being beasts.

Some have speculated that this will allow hunters to tame any mob categorised as a "beast," but I don't think that's likely.  For example, Marsh Walkers are beasts.  Now, having one of those as a pet would be so far off the "awesome scale" that we'd have to get a rocket scientist in to figure out where the needle went, but I really doubt Blizzard would allow it.

Also, notice how "Exotic" is capitalised; that makes it a proper noun which suggests that instead of the current "Tameable/Not Tameable" status of beasts, it'll become "Tameable/Not Tameable/Exotic."

None the less, whether or not this is as awesome as it sounds depends entirely on what pets Blizzard makes Exotic.  Remember that in the new system, every pet will have access to a particular talent tree and a family-unique ability.  Some ideas that spring to mind:

  • Basilisks: tanking tree, Hypnotic Gaze ability.  Depending on how long the gaze ability works, you could even make Basilisks utility pets, and have them as a form of temporary, emergency CC.

  • Hyppogryphs: dps tree, Wing Flap ability, or maybe Swoop.  And tanks think wind serpents are bad!  These could actually be pretty horrible (for the opposing team) in PvP; you could use them to knock players away from yourself if they get too close (or to throw defenders off the cliff at the Lumber Mill or the bridge in AV...)  Or if they had swoop, it'd give BM hunters a semi-frequent spell interrupt.

  • Mana Wyrms: utility tree, Mana Burn ability.  Yes, a mana-drain pet.  Just imagine the QQing that would result from caster arena teams...

There actually aren't that many pet families that aren't already tameable and aren't obviously ridiculous.  But who knows; maybe there'll be some utterly awesome pets in Northrend that only BM hunters can tame!

(Of course, it could also be pointless where all the Exotic pets are inferior to regular pets in every respect, but let's not be too negative!)

Careful Aim
Rank 3/3
Increases your ranged attack power by an amount equal to 100% of your total Intellect.

That's pretty interesting; being in the second tier of Marksmanship, it'll allow hunters to stack a bit more Intellect.  The problem is that in terms of stats, Intellect "costs" twice as much as Attack Power.  For example, for any gem that gives you +8 Intellect, you could have gotten a gem of the same quality with +16 Attack Power.  Still, even if you don't stack more Intellect, it's an extra few hundred AP.

Improved Tracking [NYI]
Rank 5/5
Increases all damage done to targets that are being tracked 5%.

This is exactly eight kinds of awesome.  That's how many things we can track.  It basically boils down to a flat 5% increase in all damage on everything except things that are invisible (which we can't really shoot anyway,) and unclassified things like bugs.

Even better, it's a first tier talent in Survival.  I'm seriously considering dropping Aimed Shot and Rapid Killing to get this puppy...

There are more talents than the above, but they're the ones that interest me as a BM-centric hunter.  If you want to play around with them, MMO Champion have a hunter talent calculator.

L33t Pet Skillz

As I said before, pets are now moving on to a talent-like system.  In addition to the three talent trees (DPS, tanking and "utility,") there is also going to be one family-specific ability for each family.  Thanks to Wowhead's WotLK subsite, I've managed to put together a list of all known family-specific pet abilities:

  • Bad Attitude - there's no apparent limit to the number of times this can happen, so I suspect this is going to work as reactive damage.  Combined with Crocolisk's +10% bonus to armor, could Blizz be intending them to be the AoE tanking pet?

  • Dust Cloud - This looks to be a pretty powerful debuff, exclusive to Tallstriders.  Averaged out, it works out to be a 12% reduction in chance to hit.

  • Gore - Now exclusive to Boars.  Sorry, Ravagers...

  • Nether Shock - Can you say "tactical deprivation of heals in arena?"  Sure, I knew you could.  At least now Nether Rays are useful!

  • Pin - Well, it's got a crab for an icon, so I assume this is what crabs are getting.  It's interesting; a combined root and dot that also roots the pet.  This could make for an interesting tanking ability for saving squishies and stopping runners.

  • Ravage - Being able to stun with your Ravager would be great for saving squishies or just legging it.  Sadly, this also means that Ravagers lose Gore.  But then, I've never been fond of the Spiky Nightmare Clowns, so I'm not terribly fussed.

  • Savage Rend - One of my mum's hunters has a pet raptor.  Named "Wally."  I just can't stop laughing at the thought of something being torn apart by a vicious raptor named Wally.

  • Serenity Dust - Something to note about this one.  It says "moth" in the tooltip.  We can't tame moths.  Well, I guess come WotLK we will be able to tame them (although whether they'll be "Exotic" or not remains to be seen.)  Aside from that, it's a pretty amazing buff; +10% AP and a 2415 HoT once every 2 minutes.  I'm not sure where this will place moths in terms of being a tanking/grinding/raiding pet though.

  • Snatch - First of all, I can see this really annoying rogues.  This is a good thing.  This is for owls, so this should make Tux (and Pike) happy.  Owls get this in exchange for losing Screech; though you can sort of think of this as a single-target version of screech...

  • Sonic Blast - Basically Ravage, except it does slightly less damage, it does nature damage instead of (presumably) physical damage, and it's icon is a bat as opposed to a gaping, blood-soaked maw.  Since there aren't any hedgehogs in WoW, I suppose this must be for bats.

  • Spore Cloud - Only does 6 DPS, but I suspect the 700 armor reduction is more the point.  It's also fairly obvious that this is for Spore Bats; this will make them pretty damned effective against casters.

  • Swipe - Aside from being another ability starting with "s," this is the family ability for Bears.  They're like baby durids!

  • Tendon Rip - Pretty simple snare; likely to be popular in PvP since the pet could potentially keep it up 30% of the time.  Pity it's only available on Hyenas...

  • Web - How I shot web?  Spider is shot web!

If I haven't mentioned a pet family, it's because it's ability is already in-game.  It looks like we're going to have way more choices for viable pets come WotLK.  It's also worth mentioning that every pet has either Dash or Dive, as well as one of Bite, Claw or Smack.

That said, Wowhead has a number of other pet abilities in their WotLK database that aren't family-exclusive:

  • Bullheaded - After having Tiddles get netted by those bloody Sunfury Archers, I say: bring it on!

  • Call of the Wild - Sadly, nothing to do with making the target run around trying to find a bathroom...

  • Carrion Feeder - Man, and I thought Cannibalise was nasty...  I mean, the health is one thing, but regenerating happiness?!  Just imagine this in PvP, though...

  • Charge - Strangely, what used to be the defining ability of boars is now available to Cats, Hyenas, Raptors, Tallstriders and Wolves... but not boars.  Poor piggies are being hit with the nerf bat pretty hard lately...

  • Dying Bite - This is the last thing you need to be worried about if you've killed my pet.

  • Heart of the Phoenix - One thing BRK has advocated before is putting points into Improved Revive Pet for high-end raiding, since losing your pet early in the fight translates to a 30% drop in DPS.  This may make that unnecessary.

  • Intervene - I'm sorry; I just can't take this ability seriously when it's using a picture of a turtle.

  • Last Stand - Remember when BRK had that big thing about not needing tanks come WotLK?  Yeah, I'm beginning to think he might have been right.  All hail the Panzer Turtle!

  • Lick Your Wounds - This + Mend Pet + Moth = Invincipet!  (Yes, I realise it's channelled; I just wanted to say "Invincipet.")

  • Rabid - The only way this could be cooler was if it actually turned your pet into a Rabbid.

  • Roar of Fortitude - A nice little buff for the melee peeps.

  • Roar of Recovery - ... Are we even going to need mana pots come WotLK?

  • Swoop - this one's for carrion birds and "undefined."  More un-announced pet families, methinks.

  • Taunt - Wow; snap aggro for pets.  Very nice.

  • Wolverine Bite - What's odd is that it only has one rank, and it's available at level 30.

We're Gonna Have To Find More Action Slots...

You may have noticed, while reading about the Hunter talents, that two abilities are mentioned several times:

  • Bear Trap - So a combination of Freezing Trap and Immolation Trap.  Plus, it's got an awesome name: Bear Trap.  As Forthus suggested, disarming a Bear Trap should trigger every Bear Traps in a 40 yard radius.

  • Kill Shot - For comparison, under normal circumstances, this does less damage (both over time and per mana) than Arcane Shot, on the same cooldown.  Against wounded targets, it does way more damage and becomes incredibly mana-efficient.  Awesome.

So that's about it for mechanical changes to our class thus far.  That said, there might still be a few surprises down the line for us considering that Hunters were one of the last classes to be worked on.  Only time will tell, but right now things are looking pretty good.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Fur Is Not Chainmail

Update: a few minutes after publishing this, I found a pretty nasty mistake in the spreadsheet's workings.  Basically, I was taking the difference between the base armor/resistance mitigation and the full mitigation in the wrong place, throwing the results way off.  I've re-written my conclusions appropriately.  This is why one shouldn't be theorycrafting at 6AM, even when suffering from extreme insomnia.

There's a serious problem with pet talent calculators.  Something I'd half-expected Wowhead to get right, but apparently not.

The problem is that while they go to all that trouble to give you a pretty talent window with shiny icons, and making sure you don't spend more points than you have...

...none of them tell you what the talents do.

Oh sure, they'll tell you that Rank 10 of Great Stamina gives your pet an additional 40 stamina.

Great.  Fantastic.


It's a bit like going into a quaint little bakery in a small town, and asking of the proprietor the contents of his pies.  He then launches into an in-depth exposition on the low-level chemical composition of the pies, what particular local supplier he purchased the meat from, etc.

And then you say, "that's all well and good, but what do they taste like?"

The baker replies: "I have no idea."

This is not, on the whole, desperately helpful.

This looks like a job for theorycrafting!  After a number of hours of fiddling randomly with a spreadsheet, as well as referring to Petopia [1], I came up with the Pet Calculator.  This should work in pretty much everything except Microsoft Office; if you're using that, you might want to try the OpenDocument Format plugin.  If there's demand, I'll try to rig up something for the Excel users, but without a copy of Excel, there's only so much I can do.

Before I go further, I just want to point out that the working in this spreadsheet could be, and the first time I published this was, wrong.  That said, I've now double-checked it a few more times, gone over my reasoning again, and can't see anything obviously wrong with it.  If you do find something wrong or just suspicious, please let me know.

Usage is pretty simple: on the first sheet, you plug in the various bits of information it demands of you like so:

These are the details for Tiddles and myself.  You just need to edit the non-bold cells to match you and your pet's stats.  Once you've told the spreadsheet all this, it will update the output section with the results.

The first two, "Pet Health" and "Pet Armor" should be pretty close to what's reported in-game.  I've seen a few points difference here and there, but it's possible that it's just rounding differences.

"Effective Health" is talking about how much actual damage your pet can take, after taking armor and magical resistances into account, before going to the big stable in the sky.

"Absorption contribution" tells you how much of that effective health each of the Greater Stamina, Natural Armor and Resistance pet talents are responsible for.  For stamina, this is just done by applying all the various modifiers to the stamina granted by Great Stamina and then converting it into health.

Armor and magical resistance is a little trickier: these are computed by working out the effective health (including base armor, armor and resistance from the hunter, etc.) followed by the effective health assuming we didn't have any points in Natural Armor of one of the resistance talents.  We subtract the latter from the former, and this gives us the extra absorption spending those points give us.  It's important to do it like this because the benefit provided by armor and resistances aren't linear; computing them by themselves would give an inflated result.

Finally, "Absorption per point" just takes the absorption contribution and divides through by the number of training points you spent on that talent.  In this case, we can see that magical resistances are incredibly point-efficient compared to stamina and armor, by a full order of magnitude in the case of the former.

This lets you play around with theoretical set-ups; for example, investing 150 TP into Greater Stamina will give you just over half the absorption that those same points in Natural Armor would have given you.  But of course, that's only in the case of physical damage.

Magical Resistance is also interesting.  Rank 5 of any magical resistance will give you almost four times the absorption of stamina, at just under half the point cost.

That said, the resistance talents seem to give the biggest bang for the buck.  Taking a Sporebat as an example, max ranks of Stamina and Armor only provide 5% and 8% of the final absorption respectively.  That said, with rank 11 of Great Stamina, max rank Magical Resistance provides a whopping 30% of the final absorption.

Now, generalisations are always bad, and you should take your own circumstances into account, but it seems that in general:

  • Natural Armor is better mitigation for the points than Great Stamina is, assuming you're only interested in physical damage.  That said, since the amount of absorption armor gives is relative to the amount of health you have, Great Stamina actually increases the effectiveness of Natural Armor.  Might be interesting to set up a graph of the two...

  • That said, choosing to put points in one or the other exclusively, Stamina and Armor end up being about the same effective health for physical damage, but with Stamina also boosting your effective health against magical damage.

  • Irrespective of that, Magical Resistance blows them both out of the water and into orbit.

So there you go.  Plug your pet and yourself in and see what happens.  If you're looking to max out your pet's health, and just want numbers to plug into the pet training window without having to read all of that pesky text; assuming a baseline pet (like a Sporebat) with max-rank Bite or Claw, Rank 2 Avoidance and Rank 1 Cobra Reflexes plus 15 TP spent on a family-specific talent (leaving 266 TP to play with):

  • Rank 11 Great Stamina and Rank 5 Natural Armor seems to give the best physical absorption.

  • Rank 9 Great Stamina and Rank 5 Magical Resistance seems to give the best magical absorption.

If you want a bit of both, you'll just have to decide for yourself.

Again, if you spot anything wrong with this post or the spreadsheet, let me know.

  1. Some have claimed that Wowhead's introduction of pet comparison tables, pet talent calculators, etc. have made Petopia obsolete.  This is complete rubbish; where, pray tell is Wowhead's detailed tables of base pet statistics, or their pages on the formulae underpinning hunter pet health and armor?

    Don't get me wrong: the new Wowhead stuff is very cool.  They've got the best pet talent calculator I've seen, and the tables are much easier to use than static ones on Petopia.  But Petopia is still t3h awesome.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My You Eye

Originally, I was going to do this post using an awesome interactive SVG that you could zoom in on, and you could mouse-over any UI element to see a tooltip of what it was, why it was there, and a link to download it.

Except that, despite being a seven year old standard, IE still doesn't support it.  Instead they'd rather support their proprietary WPF format, which is almost the same thing.  I hate Microsoft so very much at times.

For the love of all that's good and fuzzy, please stop using IE.  You're making the web developers cry.

Anyway, enough politics.  Here's my UI in all its needlessly complicated glory; note that if you see a little   WowAce icon, it means that addon can be updated with the WowAce Updater (which, rather depressingly, requires Internet Explorer to install unless you want to be tricksy, but... no, not going off on a tangent!)  On to the UI!

Here's a relatively low-resolution shot of my UI, for reference.

Or you can view a 960 x 600 version (192 kB) or 1920 x 1200 version (967 kB).

  1. This is my Outfitter bar.  It lists various outfits that I can switch between by clicking on the appropriate icon.  Shown on the bar at the moment are two primary sets: "Birthday suit" and Normal.  The remaining icons are for "accessory sets" which simply change certain slots and don't define a complete set.  These are my fishing, grinding, max-dps, fire festival, parachute and raiding sets.

  2. This is the quest tracker provided by QuestsFu, which is part of   FuBar 3.0.  I hate this quest.  So very much.  It takes hours upon hours to complete, and you get a stupid rejuvenation potion for your trouble.  Why do I even bother with that thing?

  3. This is a neat addon called   Nudge.  Basically, if I'm out of range it's red, if I'm in range it's blue and if I'm in melee range it's green.  I've made it exceedingly wide so that I can always catch the colour in my peripheral vision.

  4. These are my item cooldowns, provided by   Cooldown Timers 2.  These bars aren't in this spot any more; they're over by #5; I just haven't taken a new screenshot since then.

  5. This is   Elkano's BuffBars.  What's cool about this is that, although you can't see it here, you can filter different buffs/debuffs into different groups.  Each group can then either be free-floating, or anchored to another group.  Above the list of buffs is a (presently) empty Paladin block that shows up all the various Paladin auras, blessings and seals.

    Let this be a lesson in always making sure you make changes in the right profile, or your hunter will end up with a Paladin-centric buff display.  Oh well.

  6. Again, this is Cooldown Timers 2, this time showing my ability cooldowns.  Of course, the main point of this is to show how long until your traps are ready (which you can't see here since I didn't drop one.)

  7. This message is generated by   TopScore Fu.  The addon keeps track of your highest damage (and/or healing) records with individual abilities and overall, with and without crits.  But it also does something way cooler: it can be configured to take a screenshot when you get a new record.

    Why is this so awesome?  Because you'll end up with a massive collection of screenshots documenting your character's progress in the game.  It's awesome to be able to go back years and reminisce.

  8. Here be   Quartz.  The main bar is the cast bar (with the red area denoting what my current latency to the server is,) the red "blip" above that is my GCD timer, and the white bar above that is my autoshot timer.

    And before anyone mentions it, yes the cast bar was pasted in from another screenshot, since you'd be surprised how hard it is to get all of this crap on-screen at once...

  9. This is Kharthus' Hunter Timers [1].  This shows the duration of things.  The real draw card for this is that it shows you how long you have left on your traps before they disappear, and how long until a trap's effect wears off.

  10. My primary unit frames are taken care of with   PitBull.  The middle two are fairly obvious: myself and my target.  To the left is my pet and my pet's target, above that is my focus and my focus' target and to the right is my target's target and target's target's target.  Above and to the right, which isn't visible in this shot, is the unit under my mouse cursor, and their target.

    What is this excessive of which you speak?

  11. My party and raid frames are done with   Grid.  I used to have larger frames until I realised that I didn't really need them.  In this particular case, I've got Grid along with Grid Mana Bars.  The little red dot in the upper-left corner of K's frame denotes that he has aggro.  Since he has a rage bar, this is a good thing.

  12. The experience bar (or in this case, reputation bar) is courtesy of Trinity XP (part of Trinity Bars 2.)

  13. The bottom area of the screen is carved out and given a little sprucing up thanks to Sunn Art.  Specifically, I'm using the Tribal texture (which is part of the base Sunn Art package, although there are a number of additional art packs.)  I love this texture because of the gilded golden border at the top which is just right for fitting my XP/reputation bar into it.

  14. As far as I'm aware, all of the various chat modifications I have are done by   Chatter.  Except for blacking out the names: that's done in an image editor.  :P

  15. Mah pet bar, thanks to Trinity Bars 2.

  16. Mah main action bar, again thanks to Trinity Bars 2.  This is more complex than it first appears.  If you look carefully at the letters on the buttons, you'll see they read:

    1, 2, 3, 4, R, F, V, C, X, Z, -, =

    Now, imagine you've got your fingers resting on the normal WASD movement keys.  Ignoring the last two, look at where those keys are: they're the keys that wrap around the movement keys.  This means I can hit any action on that bar (except for food and drink) without moving my left hand.

    But there's more: there's a second, separate set of actions bound to those keys plus the Ctrl modifier.  If you count the pet bar (which is bound to Ctrl+Shift+[1..Z]) I can hit any one of 30 actions without moving my hand at all.

    What's more, most of those actions are themselves macros that have different behaviours.  For example, 2 is a macro that fires Serpent Sting normally, or Scorpid Sting if I hold down Alt.  F doubles as both regular Arcane Shot and my pull-shot.  I think the only one that isn't a macro of some kind is Multishot, and that's only because I've never needed Tranquilizing Shot, nor do I have any macro slots left...

    And people wonder how I run circles around them while smacking them with instant shots and stings while micromanaging my pet...

  17. This here be   FuBar 3.0.  The modules (all of which are, as far as I know, available on the WowAce Updater) you can see, from left to right, are:

    • MoneyDetailFu — tracks where my money is coming from and where it's going.
    • MoneyFu — tracks how much money I have on each and all of my toons.
    • Omen — surely you know what this is, right?
    • Grid — just another way to access Grid's configuration.
    • Cooldown Timers 2 — one of the few ways to access CDT's configuration.
    • Visual Themes — ditto.
    • Skinner — as above.
    • ToFu — actually redundant with Quartz, shows how long left on a flight.  A.k.a. the "can I make a coffee in time" timer.
    • LocationFu — GPS for WoW.
    • DurabilityFu — now you have no excuse to turn up with damaged gear.  Well, except for the "I'm a dipstick" one.
    • AmmoFu — can haz boolets?
    • SpeedFu — surprisingly, this actually has a legitimate use: working out if your flying mount is level or not!
    • GarbageFu — firstly, it shows a list of all vendor trash in my bags when moused over, as well as their individual and total value.  But that's not the best part: if I Shift+Click on the icon, it will drop the contents of the least valuable inventory slot.  This way, you can minimise your losses when you run out of bag space.
    • SunnArt — see #13.
    • FishingBuddyFu — honestly don't use this much, since typing /fb is faster, and the rest of Fishing Buddy is mostly automatic.
    • DPS — don't really use this either since I have #26...
    • TopScoreFu — see #7.
    • QuestFu — see #2.
    • BagFu — tells me how many slots I have left before I have to drop my partial stack of Malfunctioning Basilisk Livers.  The horror!
    • RestFu — shows rested XP on my army of alts.
    • ExperienceFu — good for estimating how long until I level on an alt.  Also used for figuring out how long the elves around the mana-forge have been studiously not dropping those bloody plans.  Stingy bastards...
    • Elkano's BuffBars — configuration for #5.
    • ClearFont2 — basically does a bunch of font substitution jiggery-pokery to make text in-game nicer to read.
    • ClockFu — lets me know how long ago I was supposed to have gone to bed.  Bad Its!
  18. A miscellaneous bank of buttons controlled by Trinity Bars 2.  Mostly contains food, random quest items, macros, etc.  The lower nine buttons are bound the numeric pad.

  19. Mah minimap.  It was repositioned and resized using simpleMinimap.

  20. The mini menu bar, again from Trinity Bars 2.

  21. What a surprise: more Trinity Bars 2!  This set of three columns map to my Logitech G15's G keys.  The original, blue-backlit one, not the "I'm going to have to kill someone for this" crappy orange version.  Specifically, each column is a different mode's worth of G keys.  The actual binding itself and stylish red border showing the active mode are done using Its' G15 Binder.

    Modes 1 and 2 contains various things that doesn't actually get used all that often and mode 2 is the one I'm generally in.  Specifically, since G13-G18 can be reached with my pinky finger without having to move my left hand too much, it tends to contain the most oft-used things.  Most notable are my "God Mode" macro on G13, bandages on G16, my Zapthrottle Mote Extractor on G17 and my I Has Macro Lol macro on G18.

  22. It's another Trinity Bars 2 button!  This is my "panic" button; it's bound to numpad 0, which is nice and big, and very easy to hit with my right thumb.

  23. This is in two parts.  The upper row of buttons are my "quick" buttons.  Various things that I need quick access to, but don't want to hit by mistake.  From left to right, they are my mount macro, my pet control macro (combining Mend Pet, Call Pet and Revive Pet,) my gadget macro, my über trap macro and my powerup macro.

    The bottom row is basically the "stance" bar from Trinity Bars 2 that depends on my class.  For my hunter it's aspects, for a paladin it's auras and for a druid it's forms.  It's not actually bound to anything for Its, but for non-pet classes, this bar takes over the Ctrl+Shift+[1..Z] bindings.

  24. Amazingly, these two buttons aren't from Trinity Bars 2!  In fact, it's TrinketMenu.  If I mouse over the buttons, I can switch out trinkets with the left and right mouse buttons.  The buttons are also bound to Shift+5 and Ctrl+5, which activates the trinket in that slot.

  25. Well, that didn't last long: it's back to Trinity!  The left one is a pop-up bar; mouse over the hammer, and a vertical bar of professions shows up.  Saves a hell of a lot of space, that's for sure.  Other uses include Paladin seals, or Shammy totems.  The bag button, unsurprisingly, opens my bags.

  26. Here's   Recount.  Look at those numbers.  Beautiful, aren't they?

  27.   Omen.  If you don't have this, and you ever group with other people, you should hang your head in shame.

And now for the other things you can't see.

  •   ArkInventory: this thing is a God-send.  Here's a screenie so you know what I'm yammering on about:

    Basically, it pools all your storage into a single bag.  You then create a bunch of groups.  To each group you assign one or more categories or rules.  AI (ArkInventory, not Artificial Intelligence) will then sort your items into those groups for you.

    Take that screenshot for example.  I can find anything in my bags very quickly because things are always grouped together logically.

    That said, AI is not for the faint of heart.  It's incredibly time consuming to configure, and has a bad habit of not only getting confused about where a particular item is supposed to go (sometimes requiring you to either hand-edit or nuke your configuration to fix it.)  It's also one of the AddOns that can reportedly cause the "block too big" memory errors that will bring WoW to a screaming (followed by flaming and violently exploding) halt.  Usually six seconds after you start a boss fight in an instance.

    I've found that using /reloadui after each boss mitigates that.

    So yes, it's finicky, and makes WoW somewhat unstable, but that just gives you an idea of how unbelievably useful it is.

  • Beast Training: basically an improved beast training window that looks less like a trainer's list of skills and more like a talent window.

  • Bookworm: records any book (or plaque) that you read, and where you read it.  You can then go back and read them later on.  Gotta read 'em all!

  •   Cartographer: replaces the standard WoW map.  Among other things, it allows you to scale it, move it, show unexplored areas, add notes, make it transparent, and more.  When combined with   Cartographer_Data,   Cartographer_Herbalism and   Cartographer_Mining, it'll give you map locations for pretty much every herb and mineral node in the game.  Just like Gatherer, except without the annoying "having to find everything" step.

    However, also combine this with   Routes, and you can build up optimised mining/herbing routes for farming runs.

  • Clique: I'm still adjusting to using this, but I use it on my healery-type characters.  It lets me, for example, Shift+Click on someone to cast a full heal, Ctrl+Click to cast a HoT, or Ctrl+Right Click to dispell.  Pretty damn nifty.  That said, I do think I prefer mouse-over healing more (ie: set up your healing spells to cast at your mouse over target) since it allows me to not only heal people via unit frames, but I can also just point at them in the game world to heal them.

  • DoubleWide: because the normal cramped quest log is not fun.

  • EquipCompare: when you mouse over something that's equippable, it shows the tooltip for what you currently have equipped next to it.

  • ExpressMail: shift-click on a mail to loot an attached item.  Damn I love this thing.  Tekkub rules.

  •   GemHelper: used on Por; lets you filter your gem list based on colour, stats, quality, etc.

  •   GemList: one of those interactive "whisper me to search for gems" dealies.  That said, it doesn't look like it's maintained any more, so you might want to try   CraftList2.

  •   I Has Macro Lol: basically, this addon rewrites a particular macro slot depending on where you are.  This is hugely useful for daily quests.  By dragging the IHML macro to an action button (M2G18 in my case,) I can push that to take readings in the Spirit Fields, drop bombs in Skettis, phase shift in BEM, or plant the banner on IoQD.

  • Its' Happy Snaps: this basically takes a screenshot every 10% of a level, or when you ding a new level.  I wrote it so that I'd have a more complete history of my alts levelling up.  It's not published anywhere, but let me know if you're interested and I'll toss it up somewhere.

  • LightHeaded: basically, it's Wowhead's quest database, but accessible in-game.  Useful when you're on one of those quests with really vague and obtuse instructions.  Or, you know, ones where the directions are just outright wrong.

  •   MobHealth: because knowledge is power.  Or something.

  • OPie: this is a new addition to my UI.  Basically, I have it set up like so: I push a key combination, and a ring of actions shows up around my cursor.  I flick my mouse towards the action I want, let go of the key binding, and OPie executes that action.  As an example, I used to use the numpad for switching aspects which was a bad idea because it requires me to remove my hand from the mouse to do it.  Now, I have them arranged in a ring bound to Ctrl+E, so I don't need to move my hands.  I'm still getting used to it, but it's very promising at this point.

  •   PallyPower: obviously not visible in the screenshot for obvious reasons, this lets you track and manage Pally blessings.  Por would have gone mad if not for this.

  • Pawn: see my post on Pawn for more info.

  • PetEmote: because pets is peoples too.  Note that you'll probably want to re-write most of the emotes, since they're apparently translated into English and as a result, most of them sound... wrong.

  •   RatingBuster: summarises the difference between the item you're looking at and what you've got equipped.

  •   Skinner: no, not the principal.  It's what gives windows in WoW that nifty black gradient look.

  • TourGuide: I have four 70s, two per faction.  I've done, basically, every soloable quest in the game.  Repeatedly.  Levelling up is honestly nothing more than a chore for me because I've done it all before.  TourGuide is fantastic because it boils levelling up down to a list of "go here, do this" instructions that you can follow while more or less unconscious.  'Tis brillig.

  •   VisualHeal: a little bar that shows incoming heals on you and whoever you're casting a heal on; also shows what their estimated health will be when the heal completes.

  •   VisualThemes: makes stuff in WoW go whoosh.  Is pretty.

Well, that's most of them.  Yes, I said "most" as in "there are more."  But that should cover all the ones that are actually useful to other people.

  1. I realise that it's actually called "Kharthus's Hunter Timers," but I refuse to type such blatantly awful grammar.  Oh damnit!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

It's a Pity Enchants Don't Stack

Admittedly, it would be a tad overpowered.  I mean, that crappy pair of white bracers I have would make excellent T7 tanking gear with all the bonus stamina it'd have...

So in 24 hours, Porphyrria went from 65 enchanting to 250.  She'd been soloing lowbie instances for a while, and DE-ing the drops, so she had tons of dusts and essences to play with.  That said, about half of the skillups came from buying stuff off the AH.  Farming for enchanting mats becomes progressively less feasible the higher you get.  Not simply because the instances get harder, but because the drops get fewer and far between in longer and more complex instances.

I tried running ZF for some mats the other day, and spent 70% of my time chasing after casters.  In ZF, they have this nasty habit of running away at low health, but not coming back.  They just stay wandering around at extreme range, occasionally casting at you.  I once spent 20 minutes searching for one mob that had glitched up to a high bit of static geometry.  Since it wouldn't come back like most mobs do when they flee, even if it couldn't see me, it took another 5 minutes to kill it.  I couldn't really move on until I did because the damn thing was keeping me stuck in combat.

In the end, it was easier to simply buy the mats off the AH, or buy appropriately-levelled green gear off the AH and DE that.

As it stands, I need to get Por another 50 points in Enchanting before she can DE the massive stockpile of ilvl 115+ greens I have.  That's a problem because those 50 points require 400 Dream Dust (oh, and 10 Greater Nether Essence.)

This is either going to take an awful lot of dungeon runs, or a colossal number of monies.

That said, one good thing has come out of all this.  If you've ever tried to powerlevel enchanting, you know how much of a pain it is.

Move to left side of screen, click "Enchant," move to right side of screen, click item, move to top centre of screen, click "Yes."  Repeat until suicidal.

See, enchanters can't just queue up a dozen enchants, click "Make" and then go off and craft a cup of coffee or a sandwich.  We have to do them one at a bloody time, repeatedly telling the game that, yes, we really do want to enchant that.  YA RLY!

But I've found a way around it.

Macro the first: "Craft-It™"

/click CraftCreateButton

Macro the second: "Yes, Damnit™"

/click StaticPopup1Button1

Here's how you use them: put them both on buttons next to each other.  Open up the enchanting window, pick an enchant.  Now, enchant an item in your inventory.  I'm not 100% on this one, so make sure you're enchanting an item that's already enchanted; if it's not, enchant it once then do it again.  Click "Yes" when the dialog asks you.

Now, if you want to repeat the enchant on the same item, press the first macro followed immediately by the second.  No need to pause or anything; drum your fingers across if you like.  The game will dutifully repeat the enchantment you have selected on the last item you enchanted, and dismiss the confirmation dialog without ever actually showing it.

Now, you could probably combine those two macros together by pasting the contents of the second macro after the contents of the first macro.  The only reason I've used two macros up there is because that's what I tested with, and didn't think of combining them until two paragraphs ago.

When you've got to do 20 Greater Defense to Cloak enchants in a row, those macros are a God-send.

P.S.  This is my first attempt at using an SVG image.  There's a fallback for people using antiquated software created back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Ansett was still in the air (I'm looking at you, Internet Explorer!) Let me know if there are any issues.