Saturday, 31 May 2008

Because Heaven Forbid We Should Use Them

Warning: QQing ahead!

So I was flying around doing the Oggle The Special Effects daily in Nagrand when I was reminded of one of the reasons Engineering sucks.

Oh, don't get me wrong; Engineering is great fun and very cool in places... it's just that it's also got a few pretty serious problems.

Back to the daily; you've got to equip those silly goggle thingamajigs (wow; the spell-checker didn't complain about that word... but is complaining about "didn't") before you can see the... um... things you have to take readings of.  So you strap 'em on, find a wandering ball of fire, go to take the readings...

That item is not ready yet.

I'm sorry, but who in Blizzard thought it was a clever idea to put a 30 second cooldown on a freakin' quest item?  I mean, what's the point?  All it does is make us stand there stupidly for 30 seconds, re-organising our bags.  I know the whole point of WoW is to waste time, but this is just a little blatant.

But it's like this with any equippable item that has a "Use" effect.  You equip it, and it gets a 30 second cooldown triggered on it.  Now the reason it does this is to stop people from chaining trinkets endlessly.  Except, oh wait, you can't swap trinkets in combat anyway.

It's annoying when you're doing the Nagrand SSO daily, but it's downright infuriating if you're an Engineer.  Most of the actually useful things Engineers can make are trinkets or bits of gear with a Use effect.  The thing is that part of Engineering's charm is how specific some of these things are.  For example:

Rocket Boots Xtreme
Binds when equipped
Feet Leather
196 Armor
Durability 50 / 50
Requires Engineering (330)
Equip: Increases attack power by 80.
Use: Engage the rocket boots to greatly increase your speed.  They sometimes have some serious backfire.... (5 Min Cooldown)

Now who in their right mind is going to walk around with that equipped?  No one!  It's too situational; it's not until you're already in combat that you're likely to think "I really wish I had those equipped so I could get some range."  And that's the problem right there.  90% of the Engineering gear is incredibly situational.  There's no way you know you're going to need it ahead of time.  It doesn't help that your regular gear for those slots are so much more generally useful that there's no good reason to even equip your Engineering toys.

One extreme example of this problem is my [Parachute Cloak].  I've had people rag at me before for having a cloak with such crappy stats on it before.  But here's the thing: if you're flying around the BEM plateaus and Rivendark decides to start taking pot shots at you, there's no way you can equip and use this thing before you hit the ground.  Frankly, I use it so often that every time I unequip it, I inevitably kill myself because I dismounted half a mile up and it didn't cool down before I hit the ground.

It's the same for a lot of my gadgets; I've built some trinkets and gear that I have never used despite carrying them around with me, simply because I had no idea when I was going to need to use them.

And Engineering is the only profession affected like this.  Take Alchemy for example; imagine if you could only have one kind of potion, elixir or flask "ready" at any given time, and you had to wait 30 seconds to switch.  And that's out of combat: you're not allowed to switch once you're in combat.  Elune help you if you decided to ready your mana pots earlier and you suddenly need a health pot!

What Blizzard should have done was make it so that equipping any item with a "Use" effect activates a 30 second cooldown on being able to change the item in that slot, and something similar with the item's cooldown: you can't unequip it if it's cooling down.  This would have just as effectively prevented chain-using trinkets, and allowed Engineers to actually make use of all their crazy toys.  And while they're at it, allow gear-swapping during combat, but disallow unequipping.  That prevents people from stripping their gear to avoid durability penalties, while letting me throw on my [Rocket Boots] at a moment's notice.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

You Learn Something New Every Day

Being an engineer (the fictitious in-game type, not the "my best friend is a slide rule and I can recite Pi to thirty decimal places" type,) one of my favourite, completely unnecessary maneuvers is to fly high above an enemy, dismount, and blast at them as I fall, using my [Parachute Cloak] to avoid falling damage.  The only issue with this is that my pet won't spawn until I physically hit the ground, and even then I'm looking at about a second and a half before I can control him.

Let me set the scene:  I'm flying back to Ruuan Weald from pilfering the etheral's mana cells for my sweet bag of goodies.  I'm pretty high up, and think "what the hell, let's see how close I can get to the flight master."

I wait until I'm nearly over him, and dismount.  So there I am, plummeting towards the ground like a sumo wrestler dropped out of a cargo plane, when the game starts to stutter.  "Oh bugger; it's swapping!  Damnit, pull!"  I mash my "gadget" macro to activate the parachute.  In my panic, I also accidentally hit the button next to it: my pet control macro, which casts Call Pet.  Imagine my surprise when Tiddles dutifully answers the call and pops up below me, chasing after me as I sail overhead.

Just when you think you know what you're doing, the game turns around to remind you that you really don't.

You know, I completely missed the flight master, though.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

The Pew-Pew Macro

So I sometimes have people ask me why I have so many damn macros and addons.  "I can play just fine without any!" they cry.  I know you can; back when WoW first came out, I didn't even know you could make addons.  Oh wait... when WoW first came out, you couldn't.

That's beside the point; the important thing is that while you don't need addons or macros, they do help you play more effectively or efficiently.  Even really simple things can make the game a lot more fun and/or less annoying.

I thought I might share one of my Hunter macros today.  I don't think it would be an understatement to say that this macro has not only made grouping easier, but has saved both myself and my group a number of times.

So, let's cut straight to the macro itself.

#show [mod:alt]Parry;[mod:shift]Flare;Auto Shot
/stopcasting [mod:alt]
/stopmacro [mod:alt]
/startattack [nomod:shift]
/stopmacro [nomod:shift]
/stopmacro [target=focustarget,noexists]
/target focustarget

The function of this macro is three-fold, depending on which modifiers I'm holding down.  For the purposes of this post, assume the macro is bound to the '1' key.  The macro's functions are:

  1. It turns auto shot on (1),
  2. it stops me shooting (Alt+1) and
  3. it makes both myself and my pet attack the target of my focus (Shift+1).

"But," I hear you say, "I already have a button to turn auto shot on and off; it's called 'Auto Shot.'"

Aah, not quite.  The regular auto shot button doesn't turn it on or off, it toggles it.  It's an important distinction.  With this macro, you can spam 1 all you like to start auto shot up.  But more importantly, you can hit Alt+1 to not only turn auto shot off, but cancel whatever you may be casting at the time.

Imagine you're trying to pull a mob off someone that's pulled aggro and draw them on to your trap.  You're blasting away, trying to generate threat, when the mob aggroes on you.  It's sailing towards you, and you need to stop shooting it or you'll break your own trap.  Without this macro, I would often toggle auto shot off and then back on again by accident, or not cancel my steady shot in time.  With this macro, it's much harder to mess up.

You can also use it to do things like hit a mob in a Freezing Trap with a Scorpid Sting without risk of breaking the trap itself (hit Scorpid Sting followed immediately by Alt+1.)

The last function is basically building an assist-like command into the button.  The way I use this is to have the main assist (or failing that, the tank) focused.  This means I can instantly start attacking their target, and sick my pet on it, by hitting Shift+1.  This is actually harder to do than it sounds.

Y'see, WoW does a lot of things to "help" the player.  For instance, if you get within range of a mob, but don't have it targetted, and hit an offensive spell, WoW will automatically target the closest mob for you.  Nifty, huh?

Umm, no.  Not when the closest mob happens to be the one you right just five seconds ago trapped.  Bam.  Bye-bye trap, hello irate mob.  You would not believe how many times I nearly wiped groups while trying to work the kinks out of this macro.  "It's OK, I'm sure it's working this ti... yeah, OK, I think I know what went wrong.  Hang on..."

So, if that all sounds handy, you can copy and paste the macro code into one of your character's macro slots, and off you go (make sure to select the "?" icon.)  If you'd rather know how the macro works before using it, read on.

Let's pull this puppy apart to see how it works.

#show [mod:alt]Parry;[mod:shift]Flare;Auto Shot

This line just controls what icon is shown for the macro.  I prefer to have each unique action have its own icon, as a kind of visual reminder to myself that the modifier keys actually do something.  It will show the Parry icon for the "stop shooting" action, Flare for "assist" and your gun's image for "start shooting."

/stopcasting [mod:alt]
/stopmacro [mod:alt]

These three lines are how the "stop shooting" bit works.  First of all, we use /stopcasting (if Alt is held down) to cancel the current cast.  We then use /stopattack to turn off Auto Shot irrespective of modifiers.  Finally, if Alt was being held down, we stop the macro (we've already done our job.)

But wait... why stop auto shot?  Because we don't know if it's already on or not.  We explicitly turn it off here so that we know what state it's in.

/startattack [nomod:shift]
/stopmacro [nomod:shift]

Now, we do the "start shooting" part; we turn auto shot back on and stop the macro if Shift wasn't being held down.  One nice thing is that this /startattack cancels out the previous /stopattack, so the auto shot timer won't reset if you spam this macro.

/stopmacro [target=focustarget,noexists]
/target focustarget

Now for the "assist my focus" part.  First of all, we stop the macro if our focus doesn't have anything targeted.  This is what prevents WoW from simply finding and targeting some random mob in front of us.  We then manually switch our target to our focus' target, send the pet in to attack, and turn on auto shot.

And that's all she wrote.  Not too bad, huh?  Admittedly, it took a bit of trial and error to get all the commands in the right order, but at least I've already done that part.

So there you have it: one instance where some macro magic can make life as a hunter a lot easier.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Hunters in WotLK: Addendum

What?  No, I'm not obsessively refreshing the WotLK leaks wiki.  I wouldn't do that?  It's not li...

Oooh, ooh!  Hunter changes!

Oh stop looking at me like that.  Like you're not just filled with an ulcer-inducing, burning need to know what's going to happen.  It's why so many people waste their time with rubbish like horoscopes and telephone psychics.  Not that I would...

Where was I?  Oh yeah.

  • Scare Beast's tooltip now shows the correct cast time.

It's nice to know that Blizzard isn't afraid to think big with the expansion.  Maybe we can get the The Beast Within tooltip ammended.

  • Damage caused by the pet ability Bite has been reduced, it's Focus cost has been reduced as well, and it's cooldown has been removed.

Hmm... considering that this means that Bite can now be cast ~6.7 times faster, I'd call this a buff.  What's interesting is that this is the niche currently occupied by Claw.  Maybe Blizzard got sick of Hunters complaining about how there are all these pets running around focused like an orbital laser doing heart surgery and no way of using it.

Note to self: complaining works!  /thumbsup

  • Screech renamed Demoralizing Screech.

Again, another visionary change from our dark, blue masters.

  • Furious Howl's buff range increased to 20 yards.

Ok, this one is a bit... I'm not sure.  Meh?  I mean, look at what Furious Howl does right now:

Furious Howl Rank 4
60 Focus
Instant 10 sec cooldown
Party members within 15 yards of the wolf receive an extra 45 to 57 damage to their next Physical attack.  Lasts 10 sec.

So the only classes that benefit from this are melee classes and hunters.  What's the maximum range on an untalented hunter again?  35 yards?  I don't think Furious Howl was ever really designed to buff the hunter; it's supposed to make the pet bestest-buddies with the melee dpsers.  But what boss is so huge that they needed to increase the range to 20 yards to make sure they got everyone?


  • Shell Shield no longer reduces your turtle's attack speed.

Yes!  Buff turtles!  I'm still waiting on this, though:

Spiky Shell Rank 1
40 Focus
Instant 10 sec cooldown
The pet begins blocking attacks with its shell, causing 25 physical damage to all attackers.  Lasts 10 sec.
  • Steady Shot's bonus damage slightly reduced. Scaling unchanged.

Initially I thought this was a sucky change... and it still is.  But remember that Steady Shot actually scales with both weapon damage and your RAP.  Wouldn't it be nice if Steady Shot was just as awesome at level 80, but cost the same amount of mana.  Maybe that's how Blizzard intends to "fix" Hunter mana issues.

Or maybe they're just dropping the effectiveness of Rank 1 so they can charge us extra mana with Rank 2 to get back to where we were.  Accursed pessimism!

So yeah, no sign of talent trees or the like.  I get the impression that Blizz is probably busy tweaking the classes where they know what they want to do.  I don't think there's much point in worrying about the lack of 51 point talents since it's still early days.

On a side note, if Blizzard doesn't make a vanity pet of the mobs on the bottom of this picture, I'm going to be a very sad panda.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Hunters in WotLK

So as you've no doubt heard by now, some sneaky peoples have gone and leaked information from the friends and family alpha of  WotLK.

I've already seen some very good posts by Phaelia and on what the changes mean for Druids, but I thought I'd pour over the changes leaked so far for Hunters: that means going over every single last leaked spell and talent.  Are you ready?  Let's go!


Yeah, so there aren't any.  But hey, as the executioner said in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, "no noose is good noose!"

Sunday, 18 May 2008

My New Favourite Toy

What?  No, I still love you, [Parachute Cloak].  You know I'd never give you up.  But, you have to admit... you're kinda useless indoors.  Oh stop crying, it's not like I'm breaking up with you.  Besides, you're not even sentient!  How can you possibly be upset when you have no emotions?

OMG, emo much?

Where was I?  Oh yes, new favourite toy.  Behold the awesomeness that is:

Frost Grenade
Requires Engineering (325)
Use: Blasts enemies for 75 to 125 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 5 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect. (1 Min Cooldown)

Look familiar?  If you've played a mage at some point since 2.0 went live, it should.

14% of base Mana 35 yd range
Instant cast 25 sec cooldown
Blasts enemies in a 8 yard radius for 74 to 86 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 8 sec.  Damage caused may interrupt the effect.

That's right; Frost Grenades are a mini ranged Frost Nova in-a-can.  Well OK, it's less a can and more of a highly volatile explosive device with a hair trigger, but no one said Engineering was without its risks.

But what about them makes me love them so?  For those who aren't aware, without talents or set bonuses (bonusii?), hunters cannot trap a mob back-to-back.  The problem is that our Freezing Trap lasts for 20 seconds, but all our traps have 30 second cooldowns.  This is why good hunters pre-trap whenever possible: drop the trap early so that the cooldown can at least partially clear.  That way, you can drop the next trap sooner; in extreme cases where the mob resists, you can drop your next trap immediately.

But no matter how careful you are, there are going to be times when things go, excuse the Klatchian, librarian-poo.  That is, your druid tank accidentally pulls by Moonfiring your trap target, or the first trap resists and the cooldown isn't up yet, or some silly paladin didn't watch where he was dropping his consecrate.

None the less, hunters of all specs have a few tricks up their sleeves for times like these.  Beast Master hunters can use their pet's intimidate to root the mob for a few seconds, Marksman hunters can Scatter Shot, and Survival hunters have increased trap duration and so much damn agility that they can practically evasion tank [1].  That's not even mentioning Concussive Shot and Wing Clip kiting.

But some times that's not enough.  Enter the Frost Grenade.  This puppy will root the mob for five seconds (which is half of the difference between our trap durations and cooldown,) giving you enough time to get to distance and drop a new trap.

In a Steamvault run earlier tonight, these things got used on four occasions.  Twice was for keeping a mob occupied while I got a new trap ready, once to save the healer from a mob that broke free of the tank [2], and once on those bloody gnomes.  I hate those things; hold still and die!

As a bonus, the materials for making them aren't too expensive; 1 Primal Water, 1 Mote of Fire, 2 Motes of Earth, 2 Netherweave Cloth, 10 Fel Iron Casing and 10 Handful of Fel Iron Bolts (80 Fel Iron Ore in total) will net you 50 grenades.  They're made in lots of five and stack up to 10, so I'm keeping a stack on myself and one in the bank.

If you're a hunter and an engineer, I strongly suggest you check them out.  Best of all, the recipe is taught by your friendly neighbourhood master engineering trainer (335 skill required.)

[1] I do not recommend or endorse hunters attempting to evasion tank simply because they have agility coming out of their eyes...  Now there's an idea for a WotLK talent: agility eye lasers!

[2] Admittedly, the mob was nearly dead anyway and I kinda accidentally ended up rooting it right next to the healer.  But it's the thought that counts, right?  Right?  Guys?

Random Musings

I'm really beginning to hate Avenger's Shield.  Every time there's a Pally tank or OT in the group and I have to trap something, my target gets smacked with a flying plate of freshly-baked threat, and I have to stand there nuking it to get it back.

And then I inevitably forget to turn auto attack back off and break my own trap.  Arrgghh!

I wasted about 25gold today trying to enchant my bracers.  I find an enchanter with one of those nifty "whisper me and I'll tell you what I can do" addons.  I figure out that I want Assault which will give me an extra 24 attack power.

I go buy the mats from the AH and log back over to Its.  I get in contact with the enchanter who informs me that it's 8 Arcane Dust, not 6.  Guess I must have stuffed up; I log back over to an AH alt, buy two more, mail them back, and log back over.  I hand him the extra dusts and my bracers.  He says he can't enchant them... stupid hunter, Assault is for gloves!


Then a nearby enchanter who had overheard the conversation (my enchanter was saying all this out loud for some reason,) told me that I'd gotten it wrong and that the bracers version needed 6 dusts.


So I hand back the six dusts and the bracers.  The enchanter does his thing.  Interesting fact: when someone enchants your gear through the trade window, it shows up the name of the enchant, but not its effect.  So, having been convinced earlier that Assault for bracers didn't exist, I didn't think twice when I saw "Brawn."

Yeah, I only found out that he'd actually given me a strength enchant later.  Turns out that [Enchant Bracer - Assault] does exist, and requires six dusts.  Sigh.  So I ended up finding an enchanter that could actually read his own enchant list to do it.

The bit that really peeved me off?  That I tipped the first guy 20gold for wasting his time.

I really wish Cheeky would hurry up and release an version of her spreadsheet.  The OOo version is kinda broken and out of date.  The really worrying bit is where it's telling me that

Consortium Blaster
Binds when picked up
Ranged Gun
111 - 207 Damage Speed 2.40
(66.3 damage per second)
+15 Stamina
Durability 75 / 75
Requires Level 70
Requires The Consortium - Revered
Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 7 (0.32% @ L70).
Equip: Increases attack power by 28.

is better than

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.

I mean, Hunter itemisation can't be that screwed up... can it?!

P.S.  Many thanks to Phaelia over at Resto4Life for writing WISP.

Dear Adobe,

I was really looking forward to trying out your Premiere Elements product.  It was the right price, looked to have the right features, and I had some cool ideas I could use it for.  In short, I all but had the credit card in-hand.

But when you went and hid the trial download behind mandatory registration, it put me off.  What right do you have to my private information just so I can decide if I want to buy something from you?  But I persevered; I found a working login at Bugmenot, and started the multi-gigabyte download.  Sadly, I do not have super-high-speed internet access, so I had to pause the download the next morning.

And what do I discover upon attempting to resume said download?  That your pain-in-the-arse server invalidates download links after a short amount of time, corrupting what I had already downloaded.  There is absolutely no reason why this should ever happen.  HTTP/1.1 has had support for this since at least 1999; every server I've ever used has had support for this.  I cannot believe this is the result of ignorance or stupidity, so my only recourse is to ascribe it to outright malice.

You wasted my time, you wasted my bandwidth, and you've wasted a customer.

Go and jump off a cliff,

 – Its.

I'm conflicted.  Jewelcrafters have 120 recipies that require reputation with someone, thus ensuring something new and exciting from virtually every end-game faction.  Engineers have four, two of which are from Zul'Gurub reputation and can thus be safely ignored.  The other two I already have.

I'm not sure if I should be upset that Its gets virtually nothing out of reputation grinds, or happy that he doesn't have to grind with every single bloody faction in the end-game to get all the recipies.

Then again, Porphyrria is a Jewelcrafter, so I suppose it evens out either way.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Running of Da Bulls Video

OK, so the editing quality ain't the best, but it's done.  Head over to the video's page here.  This is a video of my friend Forthus and I's run for the race.  If you watch it, you will notice a complete lack of Durotar, Tirisfal, Silverpine and Hillsbrad, with an unusually high amount of Dustwallow Marsh and Wetlands.  It also includes the raid on Ironforge and sort of includes the raid on Hogger.

Below is the lower-quality streaming Google Video version.


If there's any interest in having the "higher quality than WCM has" version, let me know, and I'll see if I can find somewhere that'll let me post a ~200MB video...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

I Wonder If He Sings...

It's funny what counts as "progression" for some people.

I had this idea a while ago, to get a non-combat pet to match each of my combat pets.  For Tiddles, I would need a [White Kitten], which is somewhat tricky to get a hold of Horde-side.  I'd also just gotten Smaug, a dragonhawk, and I knew I could buy a [Red Dragonhawk Hatchling] from the Blood Elf zone.

The trick would be to get a turtle.  The only time you can get one of those is during Children's Week.  Without that, my set wouldn't be complete, so I just put it off until I forgot about it.

But now that Children's Week is here, I finally got a chance to pick one up.  Behold:

Part of me wishes that I'd named Bisque "Lethargic" or some such, or that I'd tamed one of the green turtles.  But overall, I think this is pretty cool.

Now I just need to get my hands on a kitteh to play with Tiddles...

In other news, I think I've more-or-less figured out how to put together the various clips I have of the RoDB, but need more time to actually do it.  Owing in no small part to the epic suckinessof Windows Movie Mangler, I'm having to manually process all the clips first.  Urgh.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Running of Da Bulls

So this morning (my time) was BRK's Running of Da Bulls. I was there, along with my friend Forthus, and Fraps'd most of it. Before I can upload the video I have, I need to find a program that edits video (and doesn't suck like Windows Movie Mangler,) and teach myself to use it.

So it might be a while.


Until then, I've uploaded the screenshots I took of the race. Sadly, there aren't that many of my actual run, but there are quite of few of the after-race raid of Ironforge, and the post "WTH? Why did we all get ported to Elwynn Forest?" raid on Hogger.

Edit: If you're looking for the video, head over to here.

Friday, 2 May 2008


Originally, this post was a lot longer.  It had some good jokes in it too.  Really good jokes.  Seriously.  And then Nvu crashed.  For the second time.  /dramaticsigh.  Oh well, I'm sure you can figure out the significance of these pictures; there will be a test.

Wing-ed Porphyrria on her horsie. Barbie Blood Knight action playset sold separately.

Not too shabby for a character I originally made just so I could see what the M'uru-related Blood Knight quests were like before they got changed, eh?  I'm pretty sure 12 days /played is a new record for me, too.

This one doesn't have any significance, I just thought it was pretty.  You know, in a "I just slaughtered a bunch of things and arranged them decoratively" kinda way.

Who says art and mindless violence are mutually exclusive?! 

Incidentally, has anyone noticed that at level 70, we need over one million XP to get to 71?  We better be getting crazy XP in WotLK...