Friday, 30 September 2011

Assorted bits and pieces

Hey Hey all. Anyone out there? If you’re still reading, I’d love you to drop a comment or two just so I can be sure I’m not talking into thin air. Moving on to the business of the day, let’s take a quick break from our raiding guides to take a peek at what Blizz has been up to over the past few days.

First of all we had the Firelands nerfs. When I first read about this my reaction was somewhere along the lines of ‘WTF *** ***** *** **** ... (this went on for several minutes) ... ****** morons’. I was not pleased. After I cooled down a bit, and ranted at several people I knew, I took another look at the conundrum. Why exactly did this piss me off so much? The reasons are several:

·         This, from my perspective, partly invalidates any content I have not yet done. It’s now much easier than it was intended to be. It takes some of the fun out of it, but more on that later.

·         This is going to supercharge my guild’s progression. Before the nerf, we were sitting at 5/7 and were getting ready to hit domo. Now, we’re going to burn through the remaining content and get onto heroics, something which I wasn’t counting on happening for at least another month. The stuff is so easy now that there is no fun to be had in stopping for a few weeks to farm up gear, with a 15% nerf to heroic modes, that’s just not necessary, and there is absolutely no challenge left in the content. Speaking of Heroic modes...

·         WTF. HANDS OFF THE HORIC MODES. This is what shocked me more than anything else; although I think I can see the reasoning behind it. With the nerfs hitting the harder end of the normals, the jump between Normal rags and the heroic modes would have become too great. Guilds that would have normally just about reached rags, maybe even get him on farm, will now be hitting that point much sooner, and then have nothing to do, which would have led to a lot of qq further down the line. So, the reasoning is understandable considering we won’t be getting 4.3 till November.

·         The other point, and the one I suppose is the one I’m most iffy about, is that it invalidates content I’ve already done. I worked hard to down those bosses, the gear on my back is proof of my efforts regarding that, and now Blizzard is opening that up to a lot more people, who probably are less skilled. They are removing perceived value from my character, which is a big no-no in the MMO world. Now, I was OK with this at the end of 4.1, because I knew that the gear I was wearing was invalid anyway, the new stuff was all that now mattered. But this is happening halfway through a tier, and the gear is still a valid status symbol. Hence my irritation. In addition to that, I can see this perspective, and it also irritates me that other people can think this of me, when I start toting around my Heroic gear. Blizzard has removed a source of pride for me, and I resent them for it.

I waited to make this post until I had actually raided under their effect, and now I’m glad I did. I’ll tell you something, it is HORRIFIC. Worse than I imagined. To illustrate the point, an example: We started an hour late this Saturday. It took us an hour and a half to clear up to domo. Alysrazor is ridiculous now, on a side note. You can actually catch up with the twisters, I almost cried over all the effort we put in learning it only for this to happen. I did it while it was hard, just about, and I can be proud of that fact. Anyway, there we are, facing off against domo. Now, just ot be clear, we put in precisely one attempt on the boss the week before, wiping at 60% and then calling it a night. We one-shot it. I couldn’t even feel satisfaction at the kill. I simply felt bitter. Now, Domo isn’t exactly a hard fight, but one-shot? We then had over an hour left to attempt rags, and we got him down to 60%. I was actually pleased with that, because even with a 25% nerf, coordination and skill are required, those sons of flame still wipe your raid if you mess up. But I have no doubt that He’ll be falling over next week, and then we’re stuck with the heroic modes and 7/7 farms each week till 4.3. Shannox and Ryolith are pushovers now, or so I’m told by some of my friends who’ve experienced the content so far, but hopefully after those two we might be able to find a bit of challenge in our weekly foray into the Firelands, we’ll have to see. Overall, I’m not sure how to feel. This is certainly going to push our progression up a notch, which I suppose, is good, but I’m not sure I like the feeling that I’m getting handed this. I’m sure that the Heroic modes are still hard, and that they still require skill and coordination, but still, I’m left with the lingering feeling that I’ve been cheated. It’s not a nice feeling.

Anyway, we’ll have to look back at that in a week or two. Onto something infinitely more interesting, the motivation behind this change. The company line is that Blizzard looked at the rate of progression in Firelands, noticed it was a bit slow for their liking, and they nerfed it to speed things up. More likely, I think, is that this is a dry run for what they’re planning with the raid finder. If they don’t want this thing to crash and burn, they need 2 things, they need people to enter the thing geared, and they need to see the effect it has on the community for a tier to be puggable in the middle of a content arc. Hmmm. So they nerf T12N for this reason, and then nerf the Heroic to provide a progression outlet for the guilds whose progression got supercharged past Ragnaros. Suddenly this all makes a bit more sense. Anyhoo, speaking of the raid finder...

The raid finder. I’m going to be honest, I LOVE this idea. If it works, it will solve SO many problems. What I was happiest to hear was the way they’re now dealing with tokens. It all drops off raid bosses now. If I could hug blizzard I would. You’ll be able to get tokens out of the LFR, and there isn’t a lockout, so you can farm for your 4pc T12. The loot is going to below normal level loot, but the tier pieces can be mixed and matched. Offset pieces are now going to be sold for valour. Again, I approve. All my dreams have been answered. So, instead of farming 5-mans for tier, I can farm 25mans... 5 times the noobishness, 5 times the pain; or maybe not. We will have to see. I am hoping against hope until proven otherwise.

Finally, the mage T13. I think it looks awesome. It’s going to look extra awesome on my gnome. I’m gonna look sexy steam-punk awesome. More importantly, the set bonuses look really fun:

·         2P -- Your damaging spells have a 30% chance to grant Stolen Time, increasing your haste rating by 50 for 30 sec and stacking up to 10 times. When Arcane Power, Combustion, or Icy Veins expires, all stacks of Stolen Time are lost.

·         4P -- Each stack of Stolen Time also reduces the cooldown of Arcane Power by 3 sec, Combustion by 4 sec, and Icy Veins by 6 sec.

So a 10stack of stolen time is 500 haste rating, which is just under 4% haste. That’s nothing to be sniffed at. At 30% chance per cast, that’s gonna be 30-40 casts to build up a full stack, so you’re looking at 40-60 seconds of casting to build up a full stack. But wait, there’s a catch: when your major DPS cooldown expires, the stacks fall off. So, for fire that’s every 2 minutes, frost and arcane every 1.5 minutes. However, fire will also stack more slowly as it has a longer cast time on its primary nuke. Frost and arcane is going to be close, arcane casts faster, but has to interrupt to cast arcane missiles, frost has a LOT of procs going for it, which all count as casts. Opening up a fight as arcane with a hero burn just got more interesting, that’s going to stack up like nobody’s business. This probably pushes haste a bit further ahead of mastery for arcane in terms of weighting. The 4pc though, makes it even more interesting. Each stack gained reduces the cooldown on your primary nuke, up to a third of its normal cooldown. Obviously this is all still open to change; it’s only just on the PTR.

That’s all from me for now; I’ll be chucking up more raid guides soon.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Coming Soon

Good news everyone! (insert Futurama Professor Voice). As of Last week My Guild has Alysrazor down (quite a slog that one, hardest of the first 5 bosses), so I'll throw a guide up on that, and Ryolith, over the course of the next week, and Majordomo should be up by next week Monday (fingers crossed). After that, I'll be taking a segway, and take a look at each of our 3 specs in turn, both for levelling, PVE and PVP (I have yet to decide on a format for these, and whether I’m breaking up the posts by topic, I'll have to see where we go). I'm anticipating Ragnaros will take a week or two to get down, but I should have him up here by the start of October. Where we go from there I have yet to decide. I'll be throwing up Heroic guides as we take them down, and I have some other material in the pipeline, but nothing else concrete yet, so we have that surprise to look forward to.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Firelands Update: Baleroc

Right, let me start off for apologising for two weeks of radio silence. RL got in the way for a bit, then my raid leader lost the plot and decided to spend a week raiding about 16 hours, as opposed to our usual 4 (fun, but left me with no free time), then more RL. But I’m back, and today we’re going to take a look at Baleroc, one of the first 5 bosses in the Firelands. This is the third boss our guild took down, we’ve had him on farm for weeks now, and yet he still obstinately refuses to drop my shoulders. Much like Atramedes. I got 15 odd kills on the damn blind dragon and yet he still refuses to drop shoulders. It’s absurd. I still do him every week out of principal, and will till he drops them. Then I’m going to put them in my bank, as a souvenir. But I ramble on. From a DPS perspective, this fight is a walk in the park on normal mode. It’s the Chimaeron of this tier, designed to put the healers through their paces, and for us mages, it’s as close as you’re going to get to a patchwork fight in Firelands. Let’s get straight into the post shall we?

If you’re looking for a detailed fight explanation for this one, I’m afraid you’ll have to go elsewhere; because here tactics and abilities are near enough irrelevant to mages. The fight can be one or two tanked, and two or 3 healed (although 2 healers is a stretch to put it lightly). On 10man there are going to be 2 shards (on 25man there are more, but the tactic doesn’t differ wildly, so I’ll give the gist of the idea for 10man and leave the specifics up to whoever is leading your raid). Basically you are going to have 2-3 people manning a shard. The shard channels a stacking dot onto the target. The healers heal the target, when the stacks get too high, you swap out, and get a debuff increasing shadow damage taken and reducing healing done for 40 seconds. Thus, only DPS are going to be handling the shards (tanks can’t really because the boss also does shadow damage), and you can take a shard once your debuff is off. When we do it, we have 2 people per shard, because the more stacks of the shard you take, the better it is for the healers (it increases their healing on the tank when they heal you, basically). Thus we have a rotating set of 4 people (for us 2 hunters, a boomkin and a dk, but your setup may vary), which means that we have 2 dps who just stand there and nuke the boss (love this fight on arcane, generally manage a decent 25-27k, unless I have to step in to take a shard. Damage reducing cooldowns do work, so Iceblock will allow you to soak the damage, and the healers will still get buffed for healing you, but unless the shard disappears before the block wears off, or you pop it at 6 or 7 stacks (essentially a waste) you’ll die when it drops off because your health will drop like a brick when you have 15-17 stacks. Who the shards spawn on seems to be random; if there is a pattern we’re missing it. There will be a DBM warning, and then a purple ring will appear on the ground, from which you need to run unless it’s your turn to soak. The shard will stack on the nearest person, so stay away from them unless you’re supposed to be taking over. If no one is nearby they will pulse a lot of AOE and wipe your raid within a few seconds, which is bad. For mages that’s pretty much all there is to it.

Like I said, It’s a good fight for arcane if you’re not soaking the shards, because you can pretty much stand still and turret the boss. Even if you are soaking, run in, blink out, movement is very minimal, although you will have to focus when it’s time to swap around, and the stacks mount very fast, so watch out for that. You should be using mage ward and mana shield at higher stacks of the debuff, so incanter’s absorption might be a good talent here. Frost is nice for soaking as well, although you should swap to mage armour for the resistance buff, and pop ice barrier and mana shield as it stacks up. Cold snap will also be able to refresh ice block, and you can ice block and soak the shard even if you have the debuff if there is no other choice, but you will die soon afterwards if you are not relieved before ice block breaks, and the debuff will be refreshed. Fire has no real advantage, but on a movement light fight like this, where arcane is so powerful, you’re unlikely to be in fire unless you’re doing it on principle (/cry). There is no burn phase; hero will likely be popped near the start so you can pop all your cooldowns then. The enrage on 10man is quite lenient, although you might hit it on your first few attempts. Be prepared to spend some time wiping on this fight while the healers figure out what to do. Quick tip, if you’re 10manning it, it may seem counterintuitive, but it’s easier to heal with only one healer on the tank at a time, so if you’re having problems be sure to mention it.

Tactics out of the way, let’s have a look at some loot! Baleroc drops a few magey pieces, some better than others.

Molten Scream: Offhand DPS piece. From my experience, most mages seem to be lugging staffs around this Tier, likely because they are so readily available (there’s one off trash, one off Beth, and ofc the legendary stage one) so likely you won’t be needing this. If you are carrying around a volcanospike (good on you, that model is my favourite sword model, I don’t think I’m ever going to have a different looking mainhand after 4.3 drops) this thing has crit and hit. Decent for most specs, for arcane you’re going to be reforging to mastery, frost and fire will likely leave it as is. It’s an offhand, so meh, I really can’t make myself care about these ever, I get more excited over my ranged slot. Throw on the 50int enchant and never think about it again.

Necromantic Focus: Right, DPS trinket with 383 intellect. So far so good. But the effect is where everything kicks off. It gives you a stacking mastery buff up to +390 mastery (lasts 10 seconds), but there’s a rub, it stacks off periodic damage. So, for starters, the effect is useless for arcane. Frost and fire on the other hand should be drooling over this one. For fire, it’s a flat 320 mastery, since it’s always going to be up (if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong), so it’s a marginal (just under 5%) increase on dot damage, which is always nice. For frost, you SHOULD have this up most, if not all the time, from FFB’s glyphed DOT. This should be very easy to keep up with the 30% BF chance you get with 4p T12, and for frost it’s mastery, which we love (big hug extra frost damage). So yeah, nice for frost and fire, for arcane you’re going to have to check whether the intellect is worth it for whatever trinket you’re dropping, and no, I calculated it, it’s not worth it to interrupt your rotation to put dots on the target to keep the mastery buff up, not to mention annoying and prone to failure. If you have this as fire, wait with combustion till you have your 10 stacks of the buff up.

Mantle of Closed Doors: Cloth DPS offset shoulders, with a yellow intellect socket, Crit and mastery. Chuck in a red gem, the Therazane enchant, and reforge crit to hit/haste if arcane, mastery to hit if frost, and mastery to haste/hit if fire. Done. Now all I need is the drop. Sigh *shakes fist*.

That’s it for Baleroc. Fairly simple fight for caster DPS, but get ready for a night of wiping while you wait on the healers.