Thursday, January 31, 2008

No Arena Points

My 3v3 arena team Old Buggers had a disaster land on us this week - we were awarded no arena points, despite the fact that we played a hearty and enjoyable ten games. We achieved our best weekly result ever too, 8 wins and 2 losses, and reached our highest rating since we started, 1496. At least that little bit of ass-kicking makes me feel a bit better.

The problem is that we played our games Tuesday night Australian time, just before the server restarted for maintenance. We hadn't managed to find time to play earlier in the week, so we hopped on and bashed them out, expecting that they would be counted for the week that was just ending. If they didn't count, then obviously they'd count for the coming week, which would save us from having to do them then. Right? RIGHT?

Apparently not. It seems that there's a "dead zone" for arena games just before weekly maintenance, where games won't count towards the current week OR the coming week. Although our rating and season win/loss ratio were successfully updated, the points just... vanished, which is a real pain. Naturally I checked with a GM, and when he started his conversation with "Note that I can't make changes to arena points or ratings, now how can I help you today?" I realized we were boned.

Now I understand that in a giant, networked system with thousands of concurrent players and millions of pieces of data swirling around in a giant ethereal hurricane, weird and bad things will occasionally happen. I do work in software in real life, after all. I also understand that giving GMs the power to change arena ratings is a Very Bad Thing, open to abuse and distortion, particularly in a system that essentially shuffles arena points from one team to another to change ratings.

What sucks is the way the game carried merrily along, adding points and updating our ratings - giving us every indication that what we were doing was completely valid. If there's a black hole for arena games before maintenance, show it! Disable rated matches, don't update our week's win/loss ratio, or (duh) carry the games forward to next week. Any software system has limits, so point them out and we'll try to work with them.

The painful lesson of this episode is don't play arena games on Tuesday evenings, Australian time. My foggy memory tells me that we were playing after honor had ticked over for the day, but before the server went down for maintenance. This shall forever be known as the Dead Zone time, when madness descends upon the land, foul spirits rise and arena points are swept into the darkest nether reaches.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I'd been planning a post on resilience, with cool information on exactly what the stat does, and possibly a nifty little table. Well, WoW Insider beat me to it, and did it so much better than I could have ever done. They even have sections for gems and items that give resilience bonuses, including a number than can be gained from drops and quest rewards. There's also a good WoWWiki page on Resilience, which is where I'd started to pick things up a while ago.

To summarize, resilience does three things:
  • Reduces PvP crit damage against you
  • Reduces PvP DoT damage against you
  • Reduces the chance you will be stuck with a critical hit in PvP
The last one is the biggie - if you're facing off against a good-looking Orcish Hunter with 31% crit (anyone we know?) and you have 160 resilience, his crit will go down to 27%. This significantly reduces the chance of you copping his beloved steady/auto/arcane triple crit special to the groin. The same 160 resilience will reduce crit damage by 8% (not bad) and DoT damage by 4% (meh).

I'm still gemming my PvP gear for raids (8ag red, 8crit yellow, 4crit 6stam blue) because a lot of it will be reused in my raid set when I get bit more hit rating. My Gladiator's Chain Spaulders could possibly be re-gemmed, but it hardly seems worth the effort for 12 measly points of resilience. Still, that's 0.3% crit off whoever is attacking me. Hmmmmm.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Bosses

Last week was quite industrious - The Endless downed Void Reaver again, and beat The Lurker Below to a fishy pulp as well. Both fights are reasonably fun, essentially tank and spank with extras, and no ridiculous crap that randomly wipes the raid.

Void Reaver makes things interesting by firing Arcane Orbs at random players, which sail out and explode for around 5000 damage in a 20 yard radius, and silence for 6 seconds. Running away from these is the best option, as they don't track - they land where the player was when the orb was launched. Deadly Boss Mods has an excellent warning for this - the targeted player gets a skull over their head, and automatically says a warning message. The tricky thing is that there will be multiple orbs in the air at once, so fleeing from one may lead you into the path of another. Keep alert and watch where you're running - remember that you can always run backwards if there are several landing in your immediate area.

The Lurker Below is a little more tricky - his spout should be avoided by diving in the water, and the adds must be dealt with quickly before he surfaces. One thing I did notice is that when in the water, it's possible to swim down deep enough to keep shooting. Of course I had a pretty great group with a resto shaman and a shadow priest healing me constantly, but that allowed me to continue dpsing hard pretty much the entire time. Another thing I learned is that when the adds swim to the islands, they don't become "active" until they finish their little walk. One sauntered right over my Freezing Trap, stopped just on the other side, and started attacking us. Make sure that trap is right at their destination point. It's also good to pop a Misdirection on whoever is tanking the Coilfang Guardian closest to your island, to make sure that they don't go wandering off and hit squishies.

It's quite amazing how quickly raid performance improves once people start getting the hang of a fight. The first few Lurker attempts were a mess - people were getting spouted all over the place, adds were sprinting off and killing healers, and the Coilfang Frenzys even respawned halfway through an attempt and completely chewed our faces off. Every attempt was an improvement though, and soon people worked out where they needed to be and what their roles were, and soon the Lurker was fish food. Grats.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Casual Arena

Some people assume that because I'm running around with a Vengeful helm that I'm spending all my WoW time in the arena. This is a very long way from the truth - I do my minimum 10 matches a week, in either my 2v2 team Wandering Monsters, or my 3v3 team Old Buggers. With our rating hovering somewhere in the 1400s, this earns me around 250 arena points a week. Vengeful armor pieces cost 1875 points, which means eight weeks of play for me to pick one of those lovelies up.

Needless to say, this is a really great deal. The items are fantastic and the time investment is tiny. We'd be unlucky to spend a single hour a week doing our 10 matches, which is nothing when compared to the many evenings we've all spent collecting Heroic Badges, running instances for gear, raiding, grinding and collecting Honor Points in battlegrounds.

The other thing that makes arena great is that it's actually really fun. People are running all over the place, pets are growling, spells are whizzing by, everyone's yelling in vent and (hopefully) the enemies are hitting the floor. We got completely pulverized the first week we played (1 win and 9 losses) but we still had a great time. The next week we won 6 and lost 4, and much cheering was heard across the internets. Every game is different, which makes it about as far from a grind as can be. Naturally PvP gear, a vent server and good class selection helps, although even getting pummeled ten zip each week earns points, and you can always make a new team if your rating gets too low.

So there we have it - arena, it's not just for sociopathic teenagers anymore.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Current PvP Gear

When switching to my PvP gear from my raid gear - I only have to swap four items. I'm sure this will get more complex as I continue to assemble more PvP gear, but for now it's easy.

Gladiator's Chain Spaulders These are the old Season 1 Arena shoulders, now available for 11250 Honor Points and 20 AB tokens. Typical PvP gear, with good stam, decent resilience and a bit of crit. Good sockets too.

Gloves of Quickening These drop in Kara, from the Maiden of Virtue. They're really a PvE item, but their strong crit gets them a nod in my PvP set for now.

Vindicator's Chain Girdle One of the new Season 3 battlegrounds items, this belt is classic PvP. Excellent stam and resilience, with solid agility, crit and intellect too. Costs 17850 Honor Points and 40 AB tokens.

Gladiator's Chain Leggings Another S1 piece that I bought with Honor Points on the opening day of Season 3. Massive stamina here, along with excellent resilience and more good all round Hunter stats. Two pieces of Gladiator gear adds a further +35 resilience as well, which is excellent. Costs 14500 Honor Points and 30 WSG tokens.

My Vengeful Gladiator's Chain Helm should probably be mentioned too, since it's technically the best PvP item I have. It's good enough in enough areas to be in my raiding gear, but PvP-wise it has insane stam, great crit, great resilience and solid other stats. Its only drawback is that it looks goofy, so I hide my helm to prevent people pointing and laughing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Current Raid Gear

Like many players, I have been accumulating more than one "set" of gear. At the moment, I have a PvP set that I wear for PvPing and day to day questing, and a raid set that I use for raids and instances. To be strictly honest, I only swap four items to switch sets, because the rest of my gear is pretty good for both activities. Since I walk around in my PvP gear, my Armory Profile nearly always makes me look like some kind of crazed PvP bunny, so I thought I'd list my raid gear as a point of interest.

The first thing you'll notice is those sexy pink and red gloves. No idea what the Blizzard item designers were thinking there - they certainly don't look the kind of gloves a stealthy Hunter would wear when he stalks his prey. Neither do the shoulders really, with their gem-encrusted ceremonial gridiron player pastiche, but let's move on.

Vengeful Gladiator's Chain Helm This took me about six weeks of casual arena (1875 points) to acquire, and it's a great piece of gear for all weathers. I recommend raiding Hunters keep their HP above 8000, and the +61 stamina on this item helps. The +12 hit rating is the crowning glory though. Very nice.

Shoulders of Lightning Reflexes These are my pride and joy. I was lucky enough to find their LW pattern on the AH for less than 200g, and then insanely lucky to have a generous buddy give me the two Hearts of Darkness I needed to craft them. Those hearts are BoE drops from Black Temple, so they usually go for upwards of 300g each. These shoulders are the first item I've nabbed with haste on them; +37 haste rating translates into 3.52% increase in attack speed. Great for longer fights, but not much help in PvP.

Ebon Netherscale Breastplate This is part of the Netherscale Armor set, crafted with Dragonscale Leatherworking. This set is amazingly easy to make, and extremely good for a Hunter. It lacks pure agility, but makes up for it with lashings of crit, AP, +mana/5 and plenty of sockets. It has a great +20 hit set bonus too, which is great for raiding.

Ebon Netherscale Bracers Another part of the Netherscale Armor set. A bit lacking in Intellect, but plenty of goodness elsewhere. It doesn't even need a Primal Nether to craft - they're practically giving this one away!

Gauntlets of the Dragonslayer A drop from Gruul, these are excellent all-round Hunter gloves. Two red sockets are very nice too, and mean they can be loaded up with +8ag gems for Survival Hunters who need to stack lots of agility.

Ebon Netherscale Belt The last piece of the Netherscale Armor set. Very nice, and as with the other pieces, available from the trainer at 375 LW.

Shifting Camouflage Pants G'eras in Shattrath gave me these for only 75 Badges of Justice. The 2.3 changes really helped me here, with Kara bosses also awarding badges in addition to Heroic bosses. 75 is an awful lot though.

Boots of the Crimson Hawk Another LW pattern that drops in SSC / The Eye that I bought from the AH for a few hundred gold. Very healthy stat bonuses for Agility, Stamina and Intellect, with a bit of crit and AP to round them out.

Vengeance Wrap I bought this pattern for a Tailoring buddy of mine, and he made the item for free when he got hold of a Primal Nether. Lots of crit and and AP, but no stam at all, so I'm working on swapping this out in PvP in the future. Great for raiding though.

Violet Signet of the Master Assassin The top-level physical DPS ring from the Violet Eye. Good AP and decent stam, but no crit at all. It does have +25 hit though, which is pretty sexy. I'll probably swap this out for better damage stats when my overall hit rating improves.

Ring of Arathi Warlords This ring costs 25 Heroic Badges, and is a good starting point for a raiding Hunter who has just started running Heroics and Kara. No agility, but good crit, stam and AP, and 25 badges won't seem impossible.

Vindicator's Pendant of Triumph The only current piece of PvP gear in my raiding set, bought for 15300 honor points and 10 Eye of the Storm marks. Solid crit and AP, and huge stamina, as should be expected from a PvP item.

Bloodlust Brooch The standard trinket for Kara-weary raiding Hunters. Excellent for boss fights, particularly when coupled with Rapid Fire. Costs 41 Heroic Badges.

Skyguard Silver Cross I use this trinket for its pure crit bonus when clearing trash mobs in raids. Note that that the bonus +140 AP only has a chance to pop when I or my pet deliver the killing blow, not anyone else in the raid. Obtainable from the Sha'tari Skyguard at Exalted reputation.

Darkmoon Card: Crusade This trinket is made for boss fights, where the bonus +120AP is built up quickly and remains in place for the entire fight. Quest reward for collecting the Darkmoon Blessings Deck.

Sonic Spear The classic 2H weapon of so many Hunters, which drops off Murmur in the Shadow Labyrinth. For pure damage output, the Blackened Spear is probably a teensy bit better, but lacks 30 stamina and more importantly, 5 hit rating.

Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix The top-grade Hunter ranged weapon from Kara, that drops off Prince Malchezaar. Great damage, nice agility bonus, and a bit of AP as well.

In total I've got one Arena piece, six crafted items, one drop from Gruul, three Heroic Badge items, one item from Honor Points. one normal instance drop, one Kara drop, one quest reward and two reputation rewards. I didn't realize how many crafted items I have, and I like it - high level pattern acquisition, sale and gathering of materials makes levelling a profession worthwhile.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Onwards and Upwards

Last night I had my first Void Reaver run with The Endless, followed by my first serious Gruul run. It was all very exciting, and made even more so by our successful deactivation of Void Reaver, and our termination of High King Maulgar and his cronies, and finally Gruul the Dragonkiller.

Hunter loot wise, the rather nice Void Reaver Greaves dropped off VR, and after a short bout of DKP bidding, they went to a senior Hunter in the raid. I was fairly happy with this, firstly because it was my first raid with the guild and I'd feel like a dick sailing in and grabbing loot, and secondly because they're only a tad better than my current raiding undies, the Shifting Camouflage Pants. Those things took me weeks of Badge farming anyway, and replacing them so soon would probably give me a heart attack.

I had more luck with Gruul though, where I managed to snag the Gauntlets of the Dragonslayer, which are an upgrade from my current T4 gloves. A little more stam, a little more int, a few more points of AP and a little more crit. Not a bad evening's work at all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


So, here we are. My very own World of Warcraft blog, dedicated to things Huntertastic, where I can spout wisdom, knowledge, opinion and pure lies and feel joy for doing so. Some small sliver of it all might even help someone, somewhere to enjoy WoW a little bit more, or provide fleeting entertainment to the eternal Internet peanut gallery. Huzzah.