Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mists on the horizon

Firstly, the Legendary dudes stole part of my blog name for a show they're doing called "After Dark!" This makes me unreasonably and unbearably despondent. Sad enough to use an emoticon. :-(

Moving on.

This week was the final Dragon Soul run for me. I got to tank heroic Madness one last time, and now it's just a clear run towards Pandaria and the raids waiting for us on those distant, misty shores. The two hour clears of Heroic Dragon Soul were almost getting to be fun, but I'll be happy not to step into that place for a long, long time.

Unlike Wrath of the Lich King, my sets are all kinds of all over the place, distributed between three specs and while all of them are very well geared, none of them are complete. The side-effect of raiding with 3 specs, I suppose. And given my luck with loot, I went the entire expansion - the entire expansion (some 20+ Madness kills in normal or heroic mode) without seeing a single Souldrinker. Bravo, Dragon Soul, you have gotten one over me after all. You win this round, RNG.

Also, no heroic mounts, not from Ragnaros, not from Dragon Soul, not from Alysrazor... I've seen maybe 12 rare mounts in total drop from the bosses in all of Cataclysm and didn't win any. So it goes. I'm not too disappointed, though a Ragnaros mount would have been nice.

I don't have too many regrets about Cataclysm, but I'm just eager to put it behind me and look towards Mists, especially now that I'm trying to settle (again) into my new role, getting excited about tanking. After prepping for Retribution for a couple of months, it's a bit of a gear change, but I'm happier in this role than any other by far, and the weight of a shield on my arm is far more comfortable than the feel of a great heavy axe in my hands.

But the changes to tanking in general and the Protection Paladin toolbox in particular have been significant and I'm still getting used to them. We have a large number of keybinds and being a support class, it's well deserved. There are a tons of buttons we must necessarily have close at hand at all time. This is taking some tricky maneuvering of binds, add-ons, and re-training my hand and muscle-memory a bit, while trying to incorporate a ton of auras to track what ElvUI was doing for me, till it slowed my laptop to a crawl and had to be ejected. So now I'm stuck making my own UI, more or less, from SUF, Bartender and Weak Auras. Maybe that's worth throwing up here to help anyone making their own Tanking UI.

In a shocking bit of news for nobody, Tanking 25s is pretty different from 10s. The amount of specific information I had in 10s is missing (the smaller number of people meant that I could specifically call out to people for specific buffs or help) though that could just be me being new to the guild (not really, I've been here for over a month already.) Point being that I got myself killed a couple of times because I didn't exactly know who to call on for help - I'll need to make sure I correct that.

The other thing is that now I'm getting exposed to the new Vengeance mechanic  and its never-ending climb to the stratosphere thanks to the removal of any cap. Do you know how much AP you get after eating an Impale? A ton. Like, six-figures of a ton. Holy shit. I have a feeling if I was tighter and better with my rotation I'd be wrecking meters left and right. But not all bosses are going to hit like that - and besides, it just makes tank swaps a nightmare. Maybe some kind of macro is necessary.

/cancelaura Righteous Fury
/cast Hand of Salvation

In more sad news, the removal of Righteous Defense is such a handicap that I didn't even realize it until I saw two or three adds peeling off and, as I'm want to do, I switched targets and my ring-finger spammed my ages-old RD macro-bind and the adds just continued on their merry way. It was a sad moment, and I paused to mourn the passing of an old friend whilst the loose adds gored on the bodies of my companions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mists of Pandaria pre-raid Plate Tank gear

So. Um.

My Warcraft life is in such an upheaval that as soon as I settle into a role and set my expectations, I get a, "Well, actually....", and wind up changing my role.

So far, I started Dragon Soul as Protection, swapped to Retribution (1) when we got a second tank in, swapped to Holy (2) when we needed a 3rd reliable healer for Heroic Zon'ozz, swapped back to Retribution (3) until we hit 6/8 heroics, switched up to Tanking (4) again for Heroic Spine, back to Retribution (5) for a couple of months, and now, back to Protection (6) for Mists. I count SIX spec changes in one tier. Holy crap. But this is a really good change, I'm excited about it, and I'm hoping that I'm up to the challenge and that the change sticks. We'll see how it goes in a few weeks but I'm hopeful. Assuming my laptop behaves.

Anyway, because of said change, I wound up making another list, and so here it is. This one is for all the plate tanking gear that you can get pre-raid.

One big difference from the DPS gear list is the lack of Justice gear - not to worry, there is a complete set of BoE tanking gear that you can craft with what look like relatively cheap materials, if you have access to a Blacksmith. There is also an especially good Valor trinket that I plan to pick up pre-raid for sure.


All the benefits of easily gearing up to 450 iLevel with crafted gear comes back to bite us when we look at weapons and shield. No bones about it, we're kind of screwed.

For the weapon, we're dungeon farming for this one sword that you'll share with every single SMF Warrior and DW Frost DK. Good luck. It's either that, or using the one-hander reward from the Arena of Annihilation Scenario. It's one full tier behind the Dungeon gear. Ugly.

If lady-luck spurns you and you don't mind having a sword with Crit and Mastery, here is the solitary crafted one-handers that you could potentially sub-in out of sheer desperation. Have fun paying a few thousand gold for it, assuming you're on a high population server with some options. Low population servers are likely to see this thing go for tens of thousands for the first few weeks.

The shield situation isn't much better - but at least there is a decent crafted shield that is pretty cheap to make. Otherwise you're left farming for this dungeon drop from Heroic Shado-Pan Monastery.

Basically, make friends with a Blacksmith. Like, really good friends. In case you're wondering, yes, I have a  Blacksmith. And I can be your friend. For a price. A very high price*.


Here is the list for the rest of the armor. I've highlighted the crafted set a bit so it's obvious:

And here it is as an open Google Doc for you to copy and change as you wish, and the broken down lists on WoWHead:
Okay, I'll hit up Mail, Leather and Cloth next, as soon as I get through some stuff in the next day or two.

* - the price is materials.

Friday, September 7, 2012

First week of raiding in 5.0.4

Man, that raiding thing is a different animal.

I was churning out huge freaking numbers in dungeon all last week and then in raid, my output just plummeted, for any number of reasons. It has me pretty bummed out about my own performance, because nobody is a bigger critic of my numbers than me. I'm in competition with myself, and I have a certain expectation of what I want to see. When I fail to meet those expectations, the disappointment drives me figure out how I can fix the situation and perform better.

The reasons I came up with are the following:
  1. My laptop just couldn't keep up with the add-ons and the 25-mode graphics. The first night was more or less a wash due to this - I couldn't just turn off all my add-ons as I had very specific bars setup and was trapped. Trying to run about and stay alive and keep DPS up at less than 10 FPS wasn't pretty. The second night was better, once I pared the add-ons down to, er, DBM, SUF, Hearkitty, FCFS helper and the loot system add-on, ran Fullscreen after turning all the bells and whistles down. But I do need to figure something out to keep 20 - 30 FPS going with graphics running at a decent level with the add-ons I want. If you have any suggestions or can offer any help in this area, please let me know. I'm running on a Laptop which makes it a bit more complicated.
  2. I ran with Holy Avenger the first night as it's a net DPS gain but goddamn, it was so hard to find places where I could sit still for a long enough time to get good use of it for burst. Not to mention, I kept getting locked trying to get it to line up with Avenging Wrath. Argh. The second night I switched to Divine Purpose and that felt significantly better. I'm going to test with the dummy and if I can get the same damage out of both, I'll run consistently with DP instead.
  3. This is probably a minor factor, but I didn't Reforge anything as I wasn't sure where our stat priorities lay. Next week, I'll throw everything I have into Haste because there were long stretches where I had nothing to press and got antsy and thanks to Sanctity of Battle, Haste helps with nearly every one of our HP builders. This should help out a bit. I was dismissing the Haste thing through the end of Cata as being irrelevant for Retribution, but I suppose I'll eat my words and my haste.
Those factors aside, my DPS was pretty dismal and I really need to work to elevate it.

Speaking of dismal DPS, last night my old guild was looking to go do some mix of normal  and heroic DS so I hopped onto my Warlock that I hadn't played in a while, let alone prepared post patch. I stuck with Affliction as it seemed the least changed on beta, and quickly assembled a UI and read up the rotation while we zoned in. It took me most of the night to realize some basic things like, oh, I don't know:

My performance was even worse there. At least I got 3 items of gear, including the Madness staff and I bought another 2 with Justice points so my iLevel jumped up to 389. Yay? Yay.

I'm hoping that by fiddling with my UI and cleaning up my WTF/Interface folders, I can squeeze some more performance out of my laptop for next week. And

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mists of Pandaria pre-raid Retribution DPS gear

As the expansion gets closer, I'm swimming in one of my favorite things to do - running filter after filter on WoWHead to generate interesting lists of gear I might want, and while the Raid gear is the best stuff that I'm drooling over, it'll take me some time to collect it all, and besides, I need other gear just to get started raiding. So I thought I'd make a list of potential stuff I want, where to get it, how to get it, etc.

Show me the shinies!

This list should apply to any Strength using class. It just shows the PvE gear, I didn't include any of the PvP stuff, as, well, I'm not a fan of using PvP gear in PvE, and it's easy to build those lists anyway.

There we go. Good? Good.

Okay, maybe not, here is the full list as an open Google Doc (just copy it to your Google Drive or to a local spreadsheet if you want to modify it), and here are the different lists at WoWHead:
The WoWHead filters aren't complicated enough to let me do complex And/Or query-strings, though I imagine that would probably churn for a while on the server.

I didn't include the Heroic Dungeon gear as that gear will come on its own pace and is subject to RNG, but there is no doubt about this gear - you can get every item here with some effort. I know those crafted chest and hand pieces are calling my name, as are the quest rewards. That's some easy picking right there.

But where are my weapons?

The best I could do was this list.

Unfortunately,  it looks like we're stuck with Heroic dungeons to grind out the weapon - thankfully there are quite a few options. In case one has the absolute worst luck with drops, there is a craftable sword with the same iLevel as the Heroic Dungeon gear and it looks fairly cheap to make, but that depending on how common Spirit of Harmony winds up being (remember it's, ugh, BoP.)

And for Retribution, I'm still not sure what our stat priority is going to be - either Mastery or Haste - but we can split the difference and settle on this kind-of badass looking mace: Mograine's Immaculate Might as being best for us pre-raid.

I'm no brawny plate-wearer (or Dude, Where's My Dress?)!

Just click the lists on WoWHead above, toggle the strength field to Agility, Intellect or Spirit, the armor type to your chosen type, and either remove or filter the Dodge/Parry into something you'd rather avoid (like Spirit, for instance) you can easily build more lists.

Just keep in mind the filters are all on an AND conditional - the OR conditionals are finicky at best, and only useful with two parameters.

Easy! Right? Erm.

Well, what's next?

I'm not going to make any BiS lists or anything till our stat balancing gets finalized, but maybe I'll give that a poke. I've been thinking about actually getting into some serious theorycrafting and building my own Retribution DPS simulator but that involves a lot of development time... but maybe.

It seems like a fun project, and as I'm getting back into C++ again, maybe I could use the project as an excuse to learn the new 2012 IDE...