Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On Hiatus

Most of you have taken my lack of posting as an indicator of my complete and utter immersion in the new 2.4 content. Unfortunately, that isn't true. I'm taking time off from WoW for health reasons. No really, I'm serious - I have a bad back, and I'm not talking about "oooh I'm a little stiff after powerlifting a brace of tauren prot warriors". I'm talking about the kind of pain that destroys your life. It went bad back in January, and I've been writhing in pain, doing exercises, paying for scans, seeing specialists and ingesting fistfuls of painkillers ever since. The strangest thing about it all was that I would get steadily better, and then plunge back into the pit of pain. Eventually I started a pain diary, and noticed that things usually went bad first thing on Tuesday mornings. What was I doing Monday nights that was wrecking my recovery? Well, Monday is raid night... ohhhhhhh crap!

To cut a long story short, I stopped playing (uninstalled all my games, no need to feed temptation) and my back started getting better. Now let's be clear - it's not really WoW messing my back up - it's my crappy desk and chair setup. The ultimate solution is to create a lovely ergonomic gaming station, so that my dodgy back is coddled and pampered in the manner that it deserves. While I would give up WoW (and PC gaming entirely) if it was required, I'd like to avoid it if I can.

I recognize that it's a bit ridiculous posting on a WoW blog about taking a break from WoW, but I wanted to at least say something. Look after your backs too - spend a few dollars on a better than average gaming setup and your spine will thank you. See you later!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Solarian down

Following our success with Al'ar, we surged on to Solarian and taught her a lesson about sun safety.

Solarian is actually pretty straightforward, as long as no-one blows the raid up when they have Wrath of the Astromancer cast upon them. Deadly Boss Mods and Bigwigs are useful, but they're no substitute for staying alert and reacting quickly. A few times we had healers concentrating a little too hard on everyone's health meters, and blam, it was raining men. Well, orcs, taurens, elves, trolls and undead at least.

It also appears that Solarian is like Aran in the way that she casts spells against random targets, including pets. For hunters this means that your pet will probably get clocked and may need copious heals, but it also means that Solarian will target snakes from a Snake Trap as well. 6-8 decoy snakes copping her arcane missiles instead of raiders can save a lot of healer mana, and maybe even a few lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good

After many attempts and frustrating evenings, The Endless finally downed Al'ar. Victory always tastes best with eleven secret herbs and spices.

Our biggest improvement was in picking up the adds in the second phase. Great work offtanks!

Al'ar didn't drop the Arcanite Steam-Pistol, but he did drop the Talon of Al'ar, a hunter-only trinket that at first glance looks amazing, but is actually pretty lame - the damage bonus doesn't apply to Auto shot. All three hunters in the raid passed on it, so it went down to a random /roll. The rolls were appallingly poor (reflecting our total lack of interest) but I managed to win the race. Hurrah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Now What?

My guild The Endless are in TK and SSC at the moment, giving Lurker and Void Reaver a weekly belting. We don't have the tank resist gear to handle Hydross just yet, but we have been concentrating on Al'ar the Phoenix God - or as I like to refer to him, The Big Chook. Al'ar is a bit of a pain, but we've steadily improved our strategy and execution against him. Our best attempt is currently 17% in his second phase, and considering the way people are improving their gear and co-ordination, I think we'll get him down very soon.

The worrying thing is that if we don't get Al'ar down before 2.4 drops, we might not get him down at all. Since the attunement limitations for Hyjal and BT are being lifted, will we persevere with the big chook when we could be taking potshots at Rage Winterchill or High Warlord Naj'entus? Word on the street is that both these bosses are easier than Al'ar, and much much easier than crazy fights like Kael'thas or Lady Vashj. Is gearing up on the BT bunny bosses and then returning in triumph to roast Al'ar over an open flame the way to go, or are we jumping too far ahead? Even if one's guild is devoted to the noble goal of downing every boss in the game, it would make sense to knock off the low hanging fruit and then tackling the more difficult bosses with better gear.

In many ways the brave new attunement-less world of 2.4 is a dangerous one. I can see guilds breaking up over it, as the standard path of progression vanishes and leaves the kind of rudderless freedom one experiences during a drug-fuelled bender or national revolution. What can we do? Anything! We should we do? I have no idea! Let's shoot that guy and set him on fire! Yeah!

Monday, March 17, 2008

So You Want to PvP

PvP in Wow has certainly evolved from the days of random mass gankings in the shadow of Tarren Mill. Battlegrounds and Arena are now integral parts of the game, with torrid action and excellent item rewards attracting legions of players, casual or otherwise. The big problem for new players is that right now, everyone you're going to be fighting has at least some PvP gear. Plus, anyone with any sense wears their PvP gear while running around questing, which can make world PvP fairly lethal. Add in PUG premades often only letting in members with a certain resilience, and it's a hostile world for someone new to PvP.

The good news is that there's help on the way in patch 2.4, with the addition of new PvP Rare Item Sets. Items from these sets are purchasable from faction vendors at Honored reputation with Keepers of Time, Thrallmar / Honor Hold, Lower City, Cenarion Expedition, and The Sha'tar. This provides a relatively easy way for new players to get some basic PvP gear before stepping into the ring and having their faces pounded into mush.

Looking at the hunter set, it's pretty clear that the Stalker's Chain Battlegear isn't as good as the Gladiator's Pursuit in terms of stats and bonuses, but it does provide 86 points of resilience, and 35 more from the 2 piece set bonus. 121 resilience is an excellent starting point for a newbie PvPer, and its decent chunk of stamina doesn't go astray either. Good hunting!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Closer and Closer

With parts of the 2.4 on the Blizzard background downloader, let's take a quick look at the small list of hunter changes that will be hitting the live realms shortly. Apart from a few animation and display fixes, we have:
  • Hunter's Mark: Hunters with Improved Hunter’s Mark will now properly overwrite Hunter’s Mark cast by Hunters without the talent. Wow, this might be enough to undo part of my recent rejig and get Improved HM again if I can actually tell which mark on a boss is which.
  • Improved Mend Pet now has a 25/50 chance to remove one Curse, Disease, Magic, or Poison effect, up from 15/50%. Very nice for BM hunters, this stops situations where it's easier to let your pet die and rez him clean than deal with unpleasant debuffs.
  • Multi-Shot: This ability will no longer strike any secondary targets which are under the effect of crowd-control spells that break on taking damage. i.e. Polymorph, Sap, etc. I'm not sure I like this one - talk about easy mode! Note that the change says secondary targets, which I translate as meaning that multi will still break CC if you target a CCed mob directly, but it will certainly make multi a lot more useful in raids, instances and even PvP, where at least one enemy is CCed.
  • Track spells will now persist after death. This isn't particularly earth shattering, but it makes life easier, particularly in battlegrounds.
That's it for 2.4 for hunter mechanics - not a lot, but a few interesting ones. The multi change dumbs things down a bit, but to be honest multi-shot was fairly underused in most circumstances. This change will make it more popular, and stop huntards everywhere from embarrassing themselves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I'd had the Belt of the Black Eagle on my shopping list for a while, and I'd expected to either buy the pattern off the AH or have it drop for me, and then wrestle hordes of guild druids for the vortexes in SSC or TK. What I didn't expect was to see the belt itself on the AH for 800g, and actually have enough cash in my Shiny Items Fund to snap it up right then and there.

Obviously the Vindicator's Chain Girdle is better for PvP, but the Black Eagle will do very nicely for my raid set thank you very much. I fully expect that now that I have the item, the pattern for it will drop in tonight's raid, but that's okay.