Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cinder Kitten Winner!

You guys did NOT make this easy. While there were some entries that I tossed out immediately because they didn't follow the rules or (quite honestly) made my eyes bleed, it got harder and harder to narrow them down as I zeroed in on my favorites. At the end, I spent a solid two hours flipping back and forth between two sets, looking at the submitted pictures as well as reconstructing them in MogIt, weighing what I liked about each one and what I liked less, trying each outfit on different races and genders. I finally settled on which one I liked the most, but before I get into that, I want to recognize some honorable mentions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Transmog contest and Cinder Kitten giveaway!

I've been planning this since the Cinder Kitten was announced a few months ago, yet I still find myself completely unprepared. Now I'm trying to thrash out a post between orders at work.

Blizzard's new Pet Store offering is the Cinder Kitten, inspired by Majordomo Staghelm and the equip effect from the staff he drops for Feral Druids which adds an awesome fire effect to their cat form when in combat. Not only is it adorable, but through December 31st, 2012, all proceeds from the Cinder Kitten sales are being donated to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief. Since I have in-laws in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, this is a pretty sweet deal for everyone.

I'll be holding a Transmogrification contest with a Cinder Kitten awarded to the winner.

 - Submissions must be emailed to by Friday, December 14th at Midnight PST (so anything after 12:01AM on Saturday will be late) and include a picture of the outfit you've assembled as well as a list of the items used. If there's something you feel you need to explain about your outfit (such as being modeled after a specific NPC or your thoughts behind it), include that as well.
 - Submissions must be follow all Transmogrification rules enforced in game, so no Rogue tier on your Paladin or Draenei wearing Warlock gear and all items must be available (or at one time available) in game. I will smack you if you submit something using Frostmourne.
 - Winner will be announced and displayed here and then contacted via the email address used for the submission. No email addresses or personal names will be given away or sold. No personal information will be posted without the winner's permission. Everything will be completely confidential.
 - First place winner will be chosen based strictly on what I like. This is a completely subjective judging process where I will simply pick the one that I think looks prettiest.
 - I'm allowing a maximum of 3 submissions per person, but it's quality over quantity here.
 - MogIt and ModelViewer screenshots are perfectly acceptable. I'm judging the outfit, not your luck with loot drops.

EDIT - EU submissions seem to be an option since it looks like I can get through the purchasing process on the EU Blizz Store.
 - Mized armor types (Warriors wearing Leather/Mail) aren't viable options for Transmogrification as it's not a viable option for gearing anymore. If this was an "RP Outift" contest, it would be a different deal.

While none of these will disqualify someone outright, here's a few guidelines for a good submission:
 - Large, high quality pics in good lighting make the outfit easier to see and judge.
 - "Bonus points" (there is no actual points system) for outfits that mix and match items that were otherwise never intended to go together. Simply putting on your Tier 6 isn't particularly creative.
 - While I have a fondness for an exposed belly, the "I'm basically going into battle naked" outfits don't hold much ground with me. I'm looking for creativity and a well assembled outfit that works, not a centerfold.

Feel free to email me with any questions or ask them in the comments.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SimCraft: A Walkthrough

One of the things I often harp on people about is to avoid basing their gear, gems, reforges and enchants on the best-in-slot profiles that simulations are built on. The reason for this is because stats don't always scale linearly and some can be garbage in low gear levels while also being amazing at high gear levels. A prime example of this was Enhancement Shamans during Wrath who, after a certain gear level, were stacking Haste above everything else even though Attack Power had been better for them earlier in the expansion. On the opposite end of the scale, we also had Armor Penetration which was unquestionably the strongest stat any physical DPS spec could get until the hard cap. Once you were hard capped on ArP it became completely worthless.

Though Armor Penetration is gone from gear, we still deal with that sort of stat juggling today. Diminishing returns on Dodge or Parry, hard caps for Hit and Expertise, Crit capping, soft caps for Haste and Mastery and all other sorts of complexities and nuances to contend with when deciding how to reforge or gem your gear. The bottom line is that, while the 500 ilvl BiS profile for Destruction may show Mastery as it's top secondary stat (as a random example that I'm totally making up), it doesn't show that Haste is far better up until you're in that BiS gear. Haste breakpoints, talent choices and even encounter mechanics can throw a wrench in the status-quo and, if you really want to min-max your performance, can wildly change your stat priority.

The best practice is not to simply copy/paste what the Warlock thread at Elitist Jerks says, but to run simulations, get your own stat weights based on your gear, and base your gearing decisions on that. We're going to take a very basic look at how to go about doing that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Evolution of a UI: Continued

It's time for some more UI work. Last time we were getting a general overview of the current UI and laying out what works and what doesn't as well as picking out some annoyances that should be fixed in the next version.

The more I stared at screenshots and thought about placement and other factors, the more I realized that (some issues and annoyances aside) I generally still like and enjoy the overall concept of my setup. I like having the chat box, minimap, raid frames and action bars all together in a nice solid unit. I also like having them lifted slightly off the bottom of the screen to help keep my eyes centered on the action. The things I don't like are significant enough to be really annoying, though. Since one of my primary alts is my Resto Shaman, healing frames are important and large groups like battlegrounds and LFR meant that my attention was down in the corner of the screen instead of on what I am or am not standing in. The buff bars that I've been using for the last four years are becoming gratuitous as raid buffs are consolidated more and I've learned to monitor the important ones (trinkets, Bloodlust, big CDs, etc) in other ways. I don't really need a huge list of buffs going off all the time when I generally only care if I have Kings and Brilliance or not. The HUD elements for monitoring my health and mana are somewhat irrelevant since, due to the theme/styling I chose, aren't visible when what they're intended to show me is most crucial. This means that I end up watching my Player frame for that information which makes the entire addon redundant. Combine that with other issues like bloat and clutter and I still have significant work to do, even if the end result won't look terribly different from what I'm already using.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Evolution of a UI

So, it’s been a fairly annoying couple of weeks in regards to gaming and Internet access. Right as I was getting settled down from the post-launch rush and coming back to writing, escrow finally came through on our new house and, with renters lined up and waiting on our old property, we had to move as soon as possible. I very quickly found myself in a new house (woot!) with no Internet access (boo!) for two weeks until the Verizon guy could make it out. A few hours after I got back online, my video card melted down. Good times, right?
Anyway, I said all that to preface the point of this little series I’ll be working on over the next couple weeks. With my new video card I will almost certainly be toying with a higher resolution and other tweaked settings, so it makes for a good time to overhaul the UI I’ve been using and start from scratch. I’ll take a look at my existing UI and pick out what I like and what I want to fix. I’ll look at what aspects are essential to me based on preferences, group role, regular activities and how my brain processes information and try to reconcile it all with my alts, my addiction to symmetry and my somewhat limited screen space. I’ll also probably spend some time in Photoshop creating custom textures just to personalize things a bit more.
Now, let’s look at my current UI and pick it apart:
Click to zoom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm not dead . . .

I'm just checking in. The last few weeks have been a fairly brutal grind with the race to 90 and the push to get geared and ready for raiding. Even after hitting 90 there was the daily grind (I didn't mind it at first, but I'm really starting to hate the way they gated two reps behind Golden Lotus and tied VP gear to reps) as well as leveling professions and running heroics for gear. Fortunately, my guild started raiding again last night and I'm sporting a respectable 466 item level after my belt upgrade from Stone Guard. LFR is also out now which provides another gearing route so I can safely neglect doing things like Angler's and Cloud Serpent dailies in order to cap my VP. All in all, things are starting to slow down and that's a welcome change. It'll be nice to get back to my more casual activities like farming transmog gear and mount hunting. I also have a stable of level 85 alts that are getting lonely.

Anyway, I still have a couple posts rolling around in my head that I'll be working on soon, including some tips for heroics, updating the Demo/Destro guides for 90, a look at Felguard weapons in MoP, an AoE post and (when we get some more time on deeper bosses) Mogu'shan Vaults pointers. I'm also working on a guide to using SimulationCraft that I'm hoping to have up by the end of the day tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pre-raid Warlock Gear

Everyone likes gear. No one wanders through this game, sees an item drop for them and says "Eww, an upgrade! I don't want that crap!" Whether you're the most casual of the casual or the hardest of the hardcore, you probably still like the idea of your character being more powerful. Personally, I love gearing up. I like making the shopping lists and gathering mats, comparing which items are available to me and going after them. Even on my fifth or sixth character to reach level cap, if I'm even remotely interested in doing organized play with them, I still get excited about picking out weapons or trinkets. So, naturally, I've been looking at loot tables and reputation factions in order to get an idea of where to go and what to do at 90.
I've picked out some options for each slot that you may want to track down for your own use. I've focused mostly on gear that is relevant to level 90 characters getting ready to raid, so I'm not looking at drops from normal mode Temple of the Jade Serpent, for instance. Know that some are locked beind rep grinds or will be ludicrously expensive for several months, so plan accordingly. I'm also including Brewfest drops since it will be active as most of us are still leveling and gearing. I should note that this isn't a complete list since a lot of items on Wowhead's database have little to no information about how to go about getting them.
Yup, it's a boring gear list. If you're trying to gear up and raid on the first week, just grab what you come across rather than trying to focus on building a "best in slot" set. Knowing what is "best" is helpful, but with the RNG of drop rates and the fact that rep grinds will always take a certain amount of time, it's unrealistic to expect that you'll be able to get all (or even most) of it in the short time you have. Go for what's in front of you and try for the better stuff when you have time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How's your bucket list going?

Mists of Pandaria launches in a few short days. Many people take the last few weeks of an expansion to get their affairs in order, gather mats, clean up their bank space or finish off those last few pesky achievements and I'm no different. A few weeks ago I posted my own bucket list and have been making better progress than I'd hoped, but I still have a lot to do.
  • Heroic Madness - Done. I've only actually downed it once due to a variety of obstacles and I didn't get the Lifebinder's Handmaiden, but I'm running around Orgrimmar with "Savior of Azeroth" over my alt's head and that's all I really wanted. I'm done with content before it's replaced for the first time in my WoW career. I'm pretty happy about that. 
  • Heroic Ragnaros - Done. Oddly enough, I actually had to buy this one. Pugs and OpenRaid groups only wanted people who had killed it before so getting in there was proving to be a challenge. I wanted to get it done before the drop rate on the Pureblood Firehawk was nerfed and I didn't want to risk a losing roll, so when a guild on my server started selling kills at a pretty reasonable price (a fraction of what we'll see later this week) I jumped on it.
  • Glory of the Firelands Raider - Almost done. The only thing that stands between me and a Corrupted Firehawk is a group that can dodge tornadoes on Alysrazor.
  • Level Alchemy on two more characters - Never even started and probably won't in the next few days. 
  • Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade - Done. Even went out there on my bank alt Paladin and got one for her. 
  • Cap Honor/JP on my main - Mostly done. She's capped on Honor, but I still need about 2,000 more Justice Points before Tuesday. Since my 5.0.4 lag issues seem to have finally cleared up it shouldn't take me more than a couple hours grinding dungeons. 
  • Decide which character I'm going to level after my Warlock - Done, I guess. I like playing my Hunter and there's no time that is more profitable for gathering professions than the first few weeks of an expansion, so her Herbalism is going to be very nice to have early on. But the same can be said of my Shaman and Skinning. So, while I haven't really decided yet, I've at least narrowed it down to two instead of 8.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

5.0 Intro to Demo

I’ve been playing around with Demo pretty heavily the last couple days in order to get a feel for the spec and make sure that I wasn’t going to be pulling random stuff out of thin air when I sat down to write this. I’m happy to report that this spec is crazy fun now.

In Cataclysm, Demonology always felt like it was working against itself. The RNG of Molten Core procs (which, in turn, fed the RNG of Impending Doom) could make a significant impact on your DPS and whether or not it wanted to play nice could make or break the attempt for you. I played Demonology exclusively during H-Ragnaros progression and I would often swing from the bottom of the meters to the top depending on procs and RNG. Sometimes I wouldn’t see a single proc until phase 2, other times my Incinerate button would be lighting up faster than I could press it. Sometimes I had to sit through a full three minute cooldown on Metamorphosis, other times it would be available again mere seconds after the last one expired, essentially giving me back-to-back usage. I’ve never been a huge fan of the spec and generally only relied on it for the group buff or situations when it’s too useful to pass up so I’m sure that someone more comfortable with it would have had better results, but the whole experience was infuriating beyond belief. Add in obnoxious (if unintended) mechanics like pet-twisting around the Moonwell Chalice and I soon hated the spec with the fury of a thousand angry deities. By the time we were progressing Heroic DS, I had sworn that I would never touch the spec again . . . until we got to Heroic Spine and I realized that Destro and Affliction didn’t have the appropriate burst required.

Thankfully, all of the RNG of the spec is gone. Molten Core procs are still fairly unreliable, but stack instead of overwriting themselves so it’s not a huge deal if you can’t or don’t get to it right away. Touch of Chaos and Hand of Gul’dan no longer have a cast time which makes Demonology (formerly the spec most hindered by movement) incredibly mobile. Most importantly, you have all the control over Metamorphosis and how often you’re in it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sulfuras #3

I'm fairly certain that not too many people have a legendary weapon on their bank alt. That's how I roll.
Current tally:
Dragonwrath: 1
Thori'dal: 1
Warglaives: 1-1/2 sets
Thunderfury: 2
Sulfuras: 3
My hunter has both bindings, so she'll have her Thunderfury as soon as I find someone to smelt my Enchanted Elementium bars.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

5.0 Intro to Destro

I wasn't sure about doing one of these, but part of the process of getting any sort of guide together (if I want it to be at all useful for anyone) is research . . . a lot of research. As a progression oriented raider, I need to be able to switch seamlessly between specs from tier to tier or even from fight to fight in order to maximize my DPS and take on the hardest content in the game. Being able to do that also requires research, so forcing myself to sit down and write out a guide to each spec that everyone can use not only helps the three or four people who will read it, but it also helps me to be a better Warlock. Win-win.

The introduction of Pyroclasm and Pandemic as well as level 90 scaling will change this up a bit in a few weeks, so I'll try to make a point of making any needed changes to this when we get there.

Destruction: Thematically
Chaos Bolt
Destruction is, to put it as simply as possible, all about blowing crap up. Fire, explosions, chaotic energies that threaten to rip you apart if not harnessed. While it has ranged from a one-button "spam Shadowbolt" spec in BC to one of the hardest specs in the game in Cataclysm, it has never lost it's essence. Nukes and explosions. Shadow and flame. Making ugly things go "boom".

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Addon Fun: TradeForwarder

I haven’t done one of these in a while. With so little happening in the game until September 25th, now seems as good a time as any to talk about another cool little addon.

One of the design goals for Mists of Pandaria is to get people away from major cities and back out into the world. Profession trainers are scattered around the continent, world bosses are back, the daily cap is gone and there are tons of new ones for us to do in addition to Pet Battles, farms, etc. However, the problem with being out in the world is that nagging feeling that you’re missing an Ulduar or Onyxia run that you’ve been waiting for. Since the Raid Finder doesn’t support old content (and no one uses the raid browser window), the only way to quickly connect with other players for these types of runs is through Trade chat which, in turn, leads to a lot of sitting around in Orgrimmar or Stormwind.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get Trade chat anywhere? Well, now you can!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Handy macros for 5.0.4

Yeah, I folded. I'm a horrible person.
Now that 5.0.4 is live and we're all getting used to the new spells and mechanics (or, if you're like me, have spent the last two days trying to cobble together something resembling a workable UI since all of your favorite addons broke), I'm looking forward to MoP and what I'd like to accomplish with my little corner of the internet.

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of great resources out there to find "the basics" for each spec like the general "rotation" or how you should be gemming/reforging, but it's the more advanced mechanics and practices that make the difference between a bad player and a good one, and even still the difference between a good player and a great one. Most warlocks who specced Demonology in 4.3 because they were told "it's the best spec" never heard about having a Mastery set or learned how to pet-twist. Should I macro Felstorm into Shadowbolt so that it's always being used as soon as it's available or should I hold off a couple seconds to time it with Dark Soul? What stats make my Doomguard stronger and when is the best time to use it? These are the things that intrigue me and what I will probably focus on for Mists of Pandaria.

I may still do some "Warlock 101" stuff. It will just depend on how pleased I am with what a few other sites do. In the meantime, I have a couple useful macros for your 5.0.4 Warlock.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I miss being a Blood Elf . . .

I think I'm in the middle of learning an expensive lesson. Several months ago I made a fairly impulsive decision to faction and server transfer in order to get away from a few people in my guild. It wasn't quite a "rage transfer" as I'd been mulling it over for a while, but still pretty impulsive as I kind of just woke up one day and said "Screw it, I'm done". I could have just left the guild itself but I didn't want to deal with harassing whispers or anything of that nature. In addition, I felt like I could use a fresh start to clear my mind and take some time off. The small amount of time I played in Vanilla was as a Night Elf and I found myself starting to miss the streets of Stormwind and the trees of Darnassus, so I took the opportunity to not only change guilds and servers, but also factions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Talents and Flavor Text

So, there's something that's been on my mind lately. Early on in MoP development (around the time of the Press Release in the spring) observant players would have noticed that certain Warlock talents had flavor text attached to them on the talent pane. Generally, they were quotes from famous Warlocks (in lore or in the community) that said something fairly fitting for the talent it was attached to. I've included a more complete list below, but here's an example:

Sacrificial Pact - "Let someone else pay the price of your recklessness." - Zelfrax

Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking ahead to Pandaria

I won't be raiding this week due to in-laws sleeping on my couch about three feet from my computer (they don't like me yelling at the computer at 2AM while they're trying to sleep - they're funny that way), so outside of some transmog runs or LFR stuff after work, most of my gaming time will be playing Clash of Clans on my phone or Ocarina of Time on the Wii in the bedroom.

That's ok, though. With 5.0 less than a week away and the expansion launching in about a month, I'm finding it very hard to justify logging on right now. I'm too bored with Cataclysm and too excited about Mists to spend any time working on my side projects. Why grind rep when the daily cap is going away? Why farm UBRS for Blackblade of Shahram when AoE looting will make it easier and more lucrative next week? Why bother fine tuning my Mastery set when I probably won't even need it in a few days?

I think a few days off is never a bad thing. I'm already starting to reflect on the expansion, what went wrong on a more personal level and how I'd like to remedy that for Mist of Pandaria.

Consider these my "New Expansion Resolutions".

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grimoire of Sacrifice just got a lot more interesting

Going back and looking at it, it seems that the information that I was reading off of Wowhead's MoP Talent Calculator was not what some people might call "up to date", leading to a lackluster presentation of Sacrifice on my part. The information was correct at one point, possibly even when I started working on the post a few days earlier, just not when I hit that "Publish" button. That's what I get for going off of a third party site instead of looking directly at the beta client.

I bow humbly before you and beg your forgiveness.

During the last talent preview I mentioned that I wasn't sure how they were going to balance the three level 75 talents without some extensive mechanical changes. It seems Blizzard agreed with me because Sacrifice has undergone a transformation of sorts that, while still maintaining the essence and flavor of the talent, manages to make it much more compelling both in its damage increase and its utility.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I’d like to see change in Mists of Pandaria before launch

5.0.4 has been announced and given an official date which means that beta testing is definitely in its final stages (not like that's a surprise or anything). For the development side of things, we're unlikely to see much more than number balancing and bug fixes rather than large sweeping changes to mechanics. That said, no project like World of Warcraft is ever truly finished and, while Mists of Pandaria is as close to "done" as we can realistically expect, there are still some changes I'd like to see before September 25th. 

Disclaimer: I'm not a game developer and have an extremely limited knowledge of what actually goes into a complex system like WoW. In short, I know enough to know that I know nothing and that what I'm asking for in this post could be anywhere from a ten minute fix to a 3 month project that requires an entire team.

Search Function for the Mount Pane - Once 5.0.4 hits live servers and mounts are shared across all characters (with some exceptions), I will be sitting on around 150 mounts. A quick scan of Wowhead shows another 68 mounts in the Mists of Pandaria files. Combine that with the 20 or so mounts already available in game that I don't have (as well as a few that are no longer obtainable) and the idea of someone having over 225 mounts in their collection becomes . . . not impossible. Now, that's not to say that everyone will have that many, but I think even the 50 mount mark will be pretty easy to hit with minimal effort (42 just from currently existing Horde/Alliance factions). This means that finding "that one mount" in your Mount & Pet pane will be more than a little difficult. The pet tab has a handy little search feature to find "that one pet", can't we have something similar for mounts?

On that note, I'd also like a way to see which mounts that you don't have (again) similar to the pet tab. Currently, you need addons for this sort of thing and I don't see why that should be necessary.

Shivarra 1H Functionality for the Glyph of Felguard – I love the Glyph of Felguard. Anyone who's read some of my other posts knows this pretty intimately. I love visual customization so the changes to minor glyphs, along with Transmogrification as a whole, make me giggle like a school girl. It is by FAR my favorite part of the expansion. That said, it makes me a little sad that I'll only get to use it in my Demo spec (if I have one - as a progression raider I don't always have that luxury). This fits squarely in the "this may be a far bigger project than I'm assuming" category, but what I would like to see is the Glyph of Felguard's functionality extend to the Shivarra, allowing us to change the one handed weapons that she carries. Not only would this add more flavor and fun to the glyph, but it would also make it a viable option for Affliction and Destro locks, if only those specced into Supremacy. The Talon of Azshara model is cool and all, but I can think of a few others I'd also like to see.

Easier Dual Wielding for the Wrathguard - On the same note, I love that you can use the Glyph of Felguard to change both of the weapons your Wrathguard uses. However, every time I've seen someone talk about how awesome it is to dual wield (typically in a video game setting, of course) the discussion usually revolves around dual wielding two of the same weapon. Currently, the only way to get your Wrathguard to sport two copies of the same weapon is to have two copies of the same weapon in your backpack. This seems an unnecessary and needlessly tedious mechanic for something that is intended to be nothing more than simple fun. Transmogrification doesn't require you to have two copies of a weapon to alter both of your equipped ones, why should the glyph? Especially since the coolest ones are incredibly rare or hard to get. What I'd like is for it to default to dual wielding the same weapon if there is only one in your backpack, but keep the random choice when there are several.

Larger Weapons for the Wrathguard – Perhaps this is a persistent bug, but the Wrathguard weapon size/scaling has always seemed . . . underwhelming. While the standard Felguard gets to keep his massive and intimidating weapon, the same item in the Wrathguard's hands shrinks to a fraction of it's original size. Even the really large weapons like polearms are smaller in his hands than in my characters, and some of the smaller swords or axes look more like daggers when he's holding them. I realize that there may be some clipping issues involved in his attack animations, but can we get even a slight boost? Maybe 30%? It just bugs me that the upgraded version of my biggest and baddest demon carries around weapons that are as small as or smaller than what I use. As an analogy, the change should be like going from Arms to Titan's Grip, not from Arms to Subtlety.

Unfortunately, the Supremacy demons are bugged and cannot be summoned right now, otherwise I would have some screenshots to demonstrate.

Points Dump – Not to be a snarky douchecanoe, but haven't we learned this lesson already? We had a way to dump Emblems/Honor into gems in Wrath, BoE's to buy with VP and trade goods to buy with JP/Honor in Cataclysm. However, like in the beginning of Cataclysm (which involved an emergency patch-in of a trade goods vendor because people needed a way to dump excess points), we are now without a way to dump excess points. Once we have everything we need from JP, Honor or VP and the tier continues on, we'll quickly find ourselves capped on points with nothing to spend them on. Maybe I'm missing something (I fully acknowledge that possibility), but I see no BoE's from Valor, no trade goods or gems from JP or Honor. Transmog gear from previous expansions will only take you so far. We need something else to spend points on. 

Again, I may just be missing something. I hope that I am.

A Couple More Minors for Priests – This definitely falls in the "too late" section. Some specs have been pretty spoiled so far with regards to Minor Glyph options, but not all of them. Healing Priests in particular are a bit short. So far we have four glyphs that are not specific to a particular spec. One that is specific to Discipline, one for Holy and four for Shadow.
  • Confession - Kinda cool, I guess. Had potential to be much more interesting (at least in terms of the confessions you could get out of it), but mostly a novelty item that I feel will lose its flavor quickly.
  • Shackle Undead - Which we use . . . how often?
  • Heavens - Kinda cool, but a pretty minor visual change that most people probably wont even notice.
  • Holy Resurrection - Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to really see this one yet, but it sounds cool.
  • [Holy] The Val'kyr - Pretty cool.
  • [Disc] Borrowed Time - Not bad, reminds me of something someone would put into a PowerAuras set up.
So, all said and done, after you've gotten bored with Confessions and realized that you haven't had Shackle Undead on your bars since ICC, A Holy or Disc Priest will be left with Holy Res, Heavens and Val'kyr/Borrowed Time. That's not much to choose from.

Side note: Warlocks are also pretty unbalanced with two options specific to Affliction, one for Destro and five just for Demonology. However, they have quite a few that aren't specific to a spec so it's not as much of an issue.

Wider Trade Skill Window - It’s just time to do this. It's already been done to the quest log and the result was beautiful, but the trade skill pane is still smashed into a cramped little window. Let's go to a double-wide format like the quest log and make everyone happier. To see what I mean, check out the addon someone created to do just this:

Seriously, once you start using that addon you'll never go back. There's no reason why this couldn't be a default aspect of the standard UI.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7/8 Heroic

I need to get up for work in 3 hours, but it was worth it. 

By this time tomorrow I should be a Savior of Azeroth.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Talent Choices for Warlocks: 75 and 90

I've tried to make some sort of talent guide on several occasions, but the old talent tree format meant that an in depth analysis of each talent would make for something more akin to a text book or stereo instruction manual than a guide, so I've been putting it off for like three years. Now that the old 31 Point system is going away and being replaced with a total of 18 talents, it's much easier than it was before. It also means that I can wrap up this little series on the third post rather then the 24th and less of me talking is something we can all be happy about!

Let's look at the fifth and sixth tiers, the homes of the most interesting talents in our arsenal this time through. 

 On a side note, I love that doing my research for these posts has helped me uncover and report several bugs in the beta, some of which are fairly bizarre. So, to everyone reading this, thank you. Both of you. You're helping Blizzard make a better game.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's a tad warm today

I ever mention how much I hate summer? No? Well, I really, really hate summer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Talent Choices for Warlocks: 45 and 60

We've already looked at level 15 and 30 talents and discussed the various situations where they might be useful, now it's time to move further down and look at the 45 and 60 talents. Sorry, I don't have a clever intro this time.

Tier 3 - Level 45

Where Tier 1 was themed exclusively around various methods of health regeneration, this tier is all about damage mitigation and, as such, can have some nice synergy with Tier 1. Again, there is no "wrong" choice here in most situations and what you pick will be based on your your level, group composition or the context of the fight mechanics. These talents had some really awesome flavor text early on in MoP development that has since been removed. I wish they'd kept it.

Running out of time . . .

There are only 7 full lockouts left before we're all heading into Pandaria to go plant crops, kill manifestations of negative energy and make small creatures fight each other to the death. The Mists of Pandaria pre-patch has not hit live servers yet but we can probably expect it to go up at around the end of the month, give or take a week. That leaves 3-5 weeks to finish your Pre-5.0 bucket list. That's . . . not all that long.

Still on mine
  • Kill Heroic Madness - We got to the third plate on H-Spine last night. The DPS is consistently there (we've killed the first Tendon in one lift a couple times . . . /flex), we just need to get better at handling bloods in later phases and stop dying to stupid crap. We'll get there if people stay interested and keep showing up every week. I need to save my roll-fu mojo for the mount when we finally get the kill. There isn't enough time to farm the kill and get everyone their own before 5.0 and the possible removal of it's 100% drop rate. I really don't want to go back to DS every week to farm that mount after spending 10 months in there.
  • Kill Heroic Ragnaros - My guild at the time just gave up on him well before DS was released. Yes, I'm still bitter about that since I know we could have done it if a certain someone would have stopped whining about how hard it was and actually tried to be constructive for once. I really want to get a Pureblood Firehawk while it's still guaranteed. Even if I don't get the mount, few titles are as fitting for a Destruction Warlock as "Firelord". Firelord Revynn. I like the sound of that.
  • Finish Glory of the Firelands Raider - I'll need Openraid for this one. No one on my server is interested in doing normals anymore and the few achievements I need are either impossible or much harder on Heroic. I want my purple bird, dagnabbit!
  • Level Alchemy on two more characters - I'll have a total of 5 Alchemists ready for Mists of Pandaria. Living Steel cooldowns ftw.
  • Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade - With no official word and Scarlet Monastery being revamped, this is still in the "no one knows" category of things that may or may not be going away. I'd like to get my hands on it before it's too late. (Status: Done!)
  • Cap JP/Honor on my main - Yeah, I know. I haven't needed anything from VP in months and I'm clearing DS every week but I still only have a couple hundred points to my name. Blame the ability to convert PvE and PvP points and the fact that I want several PvP weapons for my felguard.
  • Decide which character I'm going to level after my Warlock - This is the problem with having 8 85's. Elemental and Resto have managed to be more fun in MoP (in my opinion at least) than it is in Catalcysm, but I've always loved my Hunter. There's also that whole thing with farming alts and not being able to fly until 90. I suppose this will happen after the pre-patch when I get to play with all my characters with all my normal addons. Trying to get the feel for a character is noticably more difficult when none of your macros or keybinds are there and everything is in wierd spots.
  • Finish leveling Skinning on my Shaman - Formerly an herbalist, I recently dropped the profession since she's now on the same server as my Druid and it doesn't make sense to have more than one character with the same gathering profession. I picked Skinning because leather can be good cash, but it's really obnoxious to level.

The "would be nice but probably isn't going to happen" list
  • Get my Rogue and Mage to 85 - As an altaholic, it's bugging me that those two characters aren't max level yet. I might be able to get my Mage done, but my Rogue requires more leveling through Northrend and . . . ugh.
  • Finish Frostbitten/Bloody Rare - Cross realm zones are going to increase competition for rare spawn mobs significantly in old and vacant places like Shadowmoon Valley and Zul'drak. I just doubt I'll have the time and patience to camp 10-15 rare spawn mobs in the next couple weeks. Oh well, I got the one that matters.
  • Get Fandral's Flamescythe for my Druid - She's still using the crappy 353 from ZG that she's had since T11. I don't play her enough for it to really matter but I want to be a flame kitty while I can. Her gear kinda sucks though (at least in comparison to most people these days, she still outgears pre-nerf normal modes) so it's unlikely that anyone will be willing to take her along.
  • Find a guild for my alts - The problem with late night progression guilds is that they tend to be pretty vacant outside of raid times. I'd like to find a social/casual group that raids on weekends for funsies. However, I'm not the type to just strike up random conversations with strangers so I tend to just lurk in social guilds and be that creepy quiet guy in the corner that no one cares about.

It's going to be a busy couple weeks.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Talent Choices for Warlocks: 15 and 30

Part of the natural expansion cycle is the introduction of new spells, talents and abilities. Some seem really cool at first but end up being a considerable source of frustration for all involved. Others appear less useful initially, but become a staple of the warlock toolbox. Mists of Pandaria will be no different. In addition to the massive class overhaul affecting all three Warlock specs, we're also getting a new toy and a completely revamped talent system.

Opinions on the existing talent system vary heavily. Blizzard feels that it's an archaic "bad trap" that serves only to separate people by their Google-fu, rather than their skill as a player. While I tend to agree with Blizzard (I don't feel that plugging in a build that the guys at Elitist Jerks came up with and forgetting about it for the rest of the tier is compelling gameplay), there are those who are claiming that the removal of talent points as we know them is removing all sense of customization and individuality from the game. I disagree, but I at least see their point on this. No longer will we have one-off Fel Emberstorm builds or Dual Wield Unholy DK's. You will no longer be able to subspec into Affliction (instead of Destruction) as a Demonology Warlock if you want extra survivability for leveling or soloing. In any case, the old system is going away.

Rather than removing choice, the new talent system is intended to be all about choice. A lot of the options don't provide a clear DPS or survivability increase because they are all supposed to be strong in their own way. If all goes according to plan, then play style, preference and fight mechanics will affect your talent choice more than what is simply "best". Like the Hunter Pet revamp of Cataclysm, there will be no clear "best" anymore if the tuning is correct. Even still, one of the most common questions I see in Trade on the beta is still the same old "What is best?”

Due to the class revamp, I'm expecting to see a flood of new or unshelved warlocks at the start of the expansion. In light of that, I want to take some time to look at the different talents that we're getting and take a look at what talents are “best" for you as a leveling, raiding or PvPing Warlock as well as their pros and cons, whether you're level 12 or 86 or 90. At no point will I tell you to pick one talent over any other in all situations. Instead my hope is to provide context of when, for example, Burning Rush may be a better choice than Unbound Will and when it may not. This will be fairly in depth, so I've had to break it up into multiple posts (again) to keep it from being overwhelmingly long.

Beta is beta, subject to change, blah blah blah . . .

Saturday, July 28, 2012

That whole "Base PvP Defense" thing

One of the things that has always annoyed me (and a lot of other people) about PvP is the barrier to entry. Sure, you can go out and spend a few thousand gold on crafted resilience gear, but that's a substantial price to pay for someone who's not even sure they'll enjoy the activity yet. They could also convert their Justice and Valor Points into Honor and Conquest and buy some of the more current items, but those points represent a significant time investment to most players even this late in the expansion and, unless they're swimming in points with nothing to spend them on, can probably be better spent somewhere else. The only other option is one the majority of players will take. Put on your best PvE gear (and maybe a piece or two you grabbed from Baradin hold) and queue for a random battleground. After all, why spend the gold or points on something you may hate when you can try it out for free first?

Quick! Everyone kill the Warlock!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Preparing for Mists of Pandaria

Well, it's official. We have a release date. For some of us that means you can safely sit back on cruise control for the next 2 months and do whatever suits your fancy. For others (like me), the clock is now ticking to get all that crap done that you've been putting off for the last two years. It may be a Heroic: Madness kill, a meta-achievement, or finally finishing your Legendary. However, as September 25th nears it will stop being time to finish your bucket list and start being time to get your affairs in order. I'm going to take a look at some things you may want to take care of before stepping onto the ship to Pandaria.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Transmogrifying your demon - Part 5: Cataclysm

I noticed an odd trend while going through MogIt and AtlasLoot for Felguard weapons. Classic (despite having a lot of bland leveling weapons) and Wrath of the Lich King had way too many cool choices and had to be pruned down pretty heavily in order to keep the posts to a reasonable size. Burning Crusade had a lot of interesting and exotic looks, but a lot of them didn't agree with me or weren't suitable to be carried around by a massive demon. For Cataclysm however, I really had to scrape and grind together to barely fill out the list. I can wax philosophical about the shrinking loot tables from the 10/25 merger, compare the amount of bosses in Firelands and Dragon Soul versus Icecrown and Ulduar or a number of other things, but at the end of the day those things would not cover up the "problem" (quotes because it's only really a problem in the context of putting together something like this post and realistically has little to do with the quality of the expansion). There just weren't that many gearing options to choose from in Cataclysm.

We all remember the problems with filling the range slot in T11 (a BoE trash drop from a raid with no trash, Warriors had to make do with a leveling green or spend a small fortune on a BoE) or how hard it was to get a decent set of bracers. Plate DPS will remember how their Tier shoulders were literally the ONLY way to upgrade that item slot in Firelands. There is no such thing as a 410 item level cloak in Dragon Soul, leading tanks to still hit up Heroic Rhyolith for their best-in-slot, despite being an agility item. I'm not usually one to sit back and pick on Blizzard and point out all the things they did wrong, but I think we can all agree that they really dropped the ball on itemization this time around. As for how it affects this topic at hand: where there is a lack of items, there is a lack of weapon models. Still, I managed to pick out a few winners.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ambermist said so . . .

My name isn't actually Revynn and I don't have demonic minions.

Recently, Ambermist at Battle Chicken put out a challenge to WoW bloggers everywhere to stop whining about Rogue mechanics or fussing over broken spell effects and to spend some time revealing things about themselves. I know I've only been at this for a few weeks, but I'm going to pretend that other people besides my wife are interested in me personally and follow suit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Transmogrifying your demon: Part 4 - Wrath

It's time for another look at the redesigned Glyph of Felguard and eligible weapons. This time we're going back to Northrend.

Has nothing to do with Felguards or weapons, I just like the picture.
Despite first creating my WoW account back in Vanilla, right around when guilds were preparing for Blackwing Lair, I was a very casual player and eventually had to take time away from the game to tend to my new marriage. I didn't really begin playing again until the early days of Wrath of the Lich King, so while I remember seeing Necropoli floating outside Thunder Bluff and Darnassus and fighting off undead spawning at the city gates as part of the Naxx40 release, I am for all intents and purposes a "Wrath Baby". It's for this reason that raids like Naxxramas and Icecrown Citadel evoke a very special sense of nostalgia to me. It was while fighting the drakes of Obsidian Sanctum that I learned the importance of "not standing in stuff", I learned how to position a boss and tank swap in Naxx and how to dot-and-run in Yogg's Brain Room.

Because of all that, it's no surprise that some of my favorite weapon models in the game are all waiting to be ripped from the hands of the Lich King and his minions. Let's take a look at a few that I want to have my Felguard and Wrathguard carrying in Mists of Pandaria. As always, these are just my all-stars and there are dozens of others that I've chosen to leave out for one reason or another. MogIt and AtlasLoot are your friends.

To catch up, check the links below:

Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Classic WoW
Part 3: Burning Crusade

Monday, July 16, 2012

Transmogrifying your demon: Part 3 - Burning Crusade

I've been looking at the redesigned Glyph of Felguard coming in Mists of Pandaria and some of the weapons I'll personally be chasing down for my own use.

To catch up, check the links below:
Yes, I know this isn't a BC weapon.
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Classic WoW

While Vanilla WoW had a lot of fairly bland gear design (even a lot of Molten Core drops were recolors of leveling gear), things took a turn for the exotic when we packed our bags and ventured into Outland. Rather than every quest reward weapon being a variation of "long silver pointy stick", we began to see eye colorful and sometimes eye twisting designs like the Honed Voidaxe. This makes for some interesting choices when deciding what your Felguard or Wrathguard should be using to hit things in the face (or ankle, in the case of raid bosses). Besides, what place is more fitting to provide you with a demonic weapon than Outland?

Anyway, let's jump in.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Giggity . . .

I had plans today to get back to my Felguard weapons articles, but then this happened:

That's just my luck, though. Despite farming for the Blackblade of Shahram on my warlock for several weeks now, it just figures that I would finally see it drop on my new DK's first run through UBRS at level 59. After months and months of clearing ToC25 with my guild while it was relevant content, my best-in-slot trinket didn't drop until I took a couple weeks off of raiding well into ICC at which point it dropped three weeks in a row and went to alts and off-specs.

Now, despite having several alts parked in Storm Peaks on multiple servers so I can quickly and easily camp him whenever I have an hour or so to kill, this punk finally showed up when I decided to go farm Saronite on a whim.

Not that I'm complaining . . . .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What a difference a guild makes

I'm going to say something that I never thought I would say. Ready? Here it goes:

I had a lot of fun in Dragon Soul last night.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Transmogrifying your demon: Part 2 - Classic WoW

I already talked a little bit about the upcoming Glyph of Felguard a few days ago and I have to admit that I'm having a lot of fun with it on the Beta. A quick romp through Molten Core followed by a trip to the PvP vendor (who is currently accepting gold instead of honor for testing purposes) got me an Obsidian Edged Blade and a few other flashy weapons to play around with. As a side note, despite being much easier at 90, you can still die in there by pulling multiple raid bosses while soaked in debuffs.

What I want to do now is take a quick look at some of my favorite eligible weapons that you may or may not also want to start farming for your own collection. Even with the leveling scene in WoW being comprised mostly of fairly bland weapon models, Blizzard has had 8 long years to make plenty of really cool weapons for us to choose from so I'm going to break it up by expansion so as not to make this a novella.

Note: Some of these weapons are locked behind bosses that are impossible or very hard to solo, meaning that you will likely be in a group when you see it drop. Keep a link to the glyph handy and state your intentions before you start pulling trash. You may or may not be able to actually hit the "Need" button and a little communication beforehand will prevent your prize from being disenchanted.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Addon Fun: Windows Instant Messenger (WIM)

Very often it becomes easy to miss that distinctive pink lettering while you're working the auction house, grinding archaeology with the music playing or just not paying attention. Amidst the endless Thunderfury spam and guild advertising macros of most servers trade channel, a whisper can blaze through your chat box as if it was never even there.

Other times, you may be forming a PuG for an old Transmog/Mount run and get multiple whispers at once from people interested in tagging along. And how many times have you had multiple conversations going at once with different people, but had trouble keeping track of it all? Enter WIM.

WIM or WoW Instant Messenger, is a fairly simple addon, but it's simplicity is its beauty. It does little more than take your whispers and fly them out into their own seperate window. It doesn't seem like much, but it's a small change that has huge implications. By having each conversation in its own box allows you to carry on multiple conversations with ease. It also acts as sort of a voice mail program for when people whisper you while you're AFK since the whisper won't get flooded out of your chat box by guild chat, trade spam or group messages while in a dungeon.

I've had WIM installed since the first time I saw it back in the early days of Wrath of the Lich King, and it's become one of those Addons that I simply cant live without anymore. It never fails or breaks, it never clashes with other addons and works seamlessly with other chat modifications like Prat or Chatter. It's been my voicemail service, my Jewelcrafting order queue when I had 7 people lining up for cuts, it's helped me form pugs and keep in touch with old friends from other servers.

If the default Warcraft-themed skin isn't for you, there are several other options you can download and try out as well. I've been enjoying the cleaner look of the WIM_ElvUI skin for some time now.

Seriously, give it a shot. You may never go back.

Download WIM here:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Transmogrifying your demon: Part 1

I'm pretty excited about a lot of things coming in Mists of Pandaria. As a mount collector I'm pretty happy to see a plethora of new mounts added to the game and, as a chronic altaholic, I like that I'll be able to use all of my mounts on all of my characters with a few exceptions. As a PvE focused player I'm looking forward to the new raids, dungeons, PvE scenarios and hundreds of daily quests being added. However, even with all of that (and much more) coming with the new expansion, I think I'm most excited about the newly redesigned Glyph of Felguard.

Glyph of Felguard: Your Felguard will equip a random two-handed axe, sword or polearm from your backpack.
I love visual customization in a video game. Whether it's creating a seven-foot-tall mutant teddy bear in City of Heroes or picking just the right outfit in Tony Hawk's Underground, it's a gameplay mechanic that I've always been able to lose myself in, so Transmogrification in WoW has been a pretty big hit for me. It's also no surprise that, when told I would be able to choose the weapon my Felguard carries around, I instantly started digging through my various addons, programs and favorite websites looking for the "the perfect weapon" . . . or at least a sizeable collection to pick and choose from.

The biggest problem with this glyph I see is simply that no one seems to know about it. Even dedicated warlocks I know that are actively playing on the beta are giving me "Wait, we can do what?" type responses when I bring it up. That said, I felt it time to sit down and talk about this little piece of awesomeness.
  • It does exactly what it says it does. ANY two-handed Axe, Sword or Polearm. It doesn't even need to be soulbound so you can grab a cool looking green off the Auction House, use it and relist it if you feel the need.
  • The wording is important. The glyph specifically pulls from weapons in your backpack, meaning the standard 16-slot bag that everyone has and cannot be replaced. If it's in another bag that you have equipped, it won't work. This is actually kind of nice as you can carry around multiple weapons to change things up while still having control over which one your demon uses. Just keep the one you want in your backpack and the rest in another bag.
  • It works with both your standard Felguard and your Grimoire of Supremacy Wrathguard. The Wrathguard, however, is a dual-wielding pet and will pull two different weapons out of your backpack and have a different one equipped in each hand. As of this current beta build, if only one weapon is in your backpack it will equip it in the main hand and leave the off-hand unchanged.
Personally, I would like to see the Wrathguard dual-wield your weapon of choice when only one is in your backpack. I suspect you might be able to force this by having two copies of the same weapon, but that seems a somewhat tedious mechanic for something that is intended to be nothing more than a fun cosmetic option. It's also possible that the glyph simply isn't currently functioning as intended and will be changed before launch.

In any case, this is looking to be a very awesome addition to the game and fits perfectly with what the developers have stated they want to do with minor glyphs. Next time, I'll start taking a look at some of my favorite weapons and the ones I'll personally be hunting down for my own use.