Friday, August 22, 2008

One last drive through the suburbs

Gweryc's once again packed his things away in boxes, moving along with his guild Nerglish to the PvE server Anvilmar. I'll let our guild master speak on behalf of the guild regarding the reasons for the guild's move, but I was personally motivated to follow them for no other reason than to continue playing with the group of friends I had made in the guild.

I've played on RP servers for years. It's a truly discomfiting experience to play on a non-RP realm again. I'm essentially suffering culture shock. In a way, it's a lot like moving to the Big City after being a farm boy your whole life. There are people everywhere -- loud people, all vying for attention. Trade chat spins by at a ridiculous clip, a street filled with hucksters ready to sell me one of the many fine watches secreted away in their trenchcoats. The auction house is filled to bursting, a veritable mega-mall that puts The Scryers's humble general store to shame. PvP queue times are thick, a congestion of traffic. People have strange names; elves carry monikers less Darnassian than Shadowrun. I'm constantly preening my ruffled feathers, reminding myself that the flood of out-of-character names, chat, guild tags, aren't reportable offenses.

I entered into several AVs my first night, helping the Alliance to win a majority of victories. In the end, I had accumulated enough honor from AV to buy a new Thrown weapon, in addition to finding a Truestrike Ring for sale at a good price, and trading some badges in for the Bloodlust Brooch. Three epics in one night isn't a bad haul, not at all. Hopefully this is the start of a trend for the guild as a whole, an omen of good fortune for our new home.

WotLK Forecast: Inscription, misc. changes

More fun! The previously mentioned improvement to Aspect of the Beast, the buff to melee AP, now increases pet AP as well. Kill Command, however, has been changed from a 5 sec cooldown to a full minute. Ouch.

There are finally some known hunter glyphs worth talking about. No decreased cooldown on my melee attacks as I'd hoped, but still some worth noting:

Aspect Glyphs
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Beast: Increases the attack power bonus of Aspect of the Beast for you and your pet by an additional 2%.
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Monkey: While Aspect of the Monkey is active, each time you dodge you gain 30% increased movement speed for 6 sec. This speed does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Viper: You regenerate mana from Aspect of the Viper as if you had 15% less mana in your current mana pool.
Attack Glyphs
  • Glyph of Bestial Wrath: Decreases the cooldown of Bestial Wrath by 20 sec.
  • Glyph of Deterrence: Decreases the cooldown of Deterrence by 20 sec.
Trap Glyphs
  • Glyph of Immolation Trap: Decreases the duration of the effect from your Immolation Trap by 6 sec., but damage while active is increased by 100%.
  • Glyph of Snake Trap: Your Snake Trap creates 2 additional snakes.
There are others, of course, but I found these the most relevant. There are interesting options for both tanking and dps roles, though I'm really looking at dps as my fixed role in Lich King. With the addition of a fourth tanking class, the death knight (of which there will be 23857628 per guild, come the expansion), and the improved ability of hunters' Tenacity pets to tank, I don't think there's any need to try to fill a tanking role, especially with the wonderful melee dps buffs I'll be getting.

I can't say what glyphs I'll want to run with yet, especially since it's not known which of the glyphs are greater, lesser, or minor. And I still have hope that there might be a Glyph of Raptor Strike. For sheer dps, looking at what's available, I can say I'll at least want the Glyph of Aspect of the Beast. I wouldn't say no to the Bestial Wrath and Glyph of Immolation Trap options, either.

Monday, August 18, 2008

WotLK Forecast: Pet spec

Daniel Whitcomb of WoW Insider recently covered the pet talent trees in the Wrath beta. He proposed a build for Ferocity pets that I largely found palatable, but I disagree with his choice of using the pet-rezzing talent Heart of the Phoenix. Blizzard seems undecided on how to implement the spell at this time, with a number of players expressing concerns over its mechanics. In any event, the talent seems somewhat superfluous to me for a hunter already specced into Improved Revive Pet. It seems far better to me to invest that point in the group utility talent Call of the Wild, leaving us with this build.

Jeder lacht über dich

Never let it be said I lack a sense of humor.

I was reading about another oddball melee-only character, Triops, the melee Warlock. I noticed he was level 12 and went to check his armory entry; I was curious how he was spending his talent points. Turns out he hadn't spent them yet. The funny thing is, when you haven't spent your talent points and are a high enough level to have an armory entry, you don't come up as "Talent Specialization: None," or anything like that. You're tagged as "untalented."

Somebody at Blizzard has a wry sense of humor to have done that, and I got a good laugh out of it. Well, given that I've been accused of being "untalented" myself, I offer this screenshot for the ages -- proof that I am, in fact, untalented.


Friday, August 15, 2008

WotLK Forecast: Melee Hunter Spec

The Survival tree has undergone some big changes. Survival Instincts has jumped up to a Tier 2 talent, and the new talents "T.N.T." and "Hunter vs. Wild" have been added. Wowhead doesn't have entries for the new talents yet, so I'll list them here:
Rank: 3/3
Requires 5 points in Survival Talents
Your Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap, and Explosive Shot have a 15% chance to stun targets for 2 sec when they deal damage, and increases the critical strike chance of your Explosive Shot and Explosive Trap by 15%.

Hunter vs. Wild
Rank: 3/3
Requires 5 points in Survivalist
Requires 20 points in Survival Talents
Increases you and your pet's attack power and ranged attack power equal to 30% of your total Stamina.

That's some pretty neat stuff, especially Hunter vs. Wild. I'm a little wary of the stun proc on T.N.T. in PvE, but I'll just have to be careful about when I lay down traps.

Speaking of traps, Trap Mastery has been reduced to a single-point talent, with a description that reads "Design not implemented (do not report)." Presumably this will provide a 10% decrease in chance for enemies to resist trap effects, as the old Trap Mastery(Rank 2) did. I've passed on this talent, given how infrequently mobs in PvE resist traps anyway. I've also passed on Deflection and Counterattack, given their limited usefulness in a dps raiding role.

Over in the BM tree, Spirit Bond has been changed to increase healing to you and your pet by 5/10%, in addition to the old effect of 1/2% health regen per 10 sec. I admit, I've always been a fan of Spirit Bond. In PvE, I consider one point in Improved Mend Pet sufficient, to enable the cleanse effect, and the passive healing from Spirit Bond useful for both hunter and pet. With the improved heal effect, I'm that much happier to spec into Spirit Bond.

Bigger news: the +hit effect on Animal Handler has, blessedly, been rendered obsolete in PvE. There is no excuse for a dedicated player to fall short of the hit cap. That said, class designer Koraa has said that the plan now is for pets to be given the master's +hit%. This is true of both warlocks and hunters. Since I must be hit capped, it follows that my pet will also inevitably be hit capped. This means that Animal Handler is now primarily a PvP talent, where it can be used for the reduced cooldown on the base ability Master's Call.

For now, I've passed on the mana-efficiency talents Resourcefulness and the new Invigoration (When your pet scores a critical hit with a special ability, you instantly regain 1/2% mana.) Until I have a reason to think otherwise, I'm assuming that my own mana pool will remain obscenely large for my attack rotation's limited scope. That leaves me free to put 5/5 into both Lightning Reflexes and Serpent's Swiftness, resulting in this build.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WotLK Forecast: Pet System

Pets will be differentiated less by species than by category: Cunning pets, Ferocious pets, and Tenacious pets. Each of the three categories has its own talent tree: Cunning, Ferocity, or Tenacity. It seems that Cunning is a utility tree, Ferocity a DPS tree, and Tenacity a tanking tree. Pets will each belong to one of these three categories. Additionally, each pet family (e.g., wolves, tallstriders, etc.) will have one unique ability available only to that family. For example, crabs have Pin, worms have Acid Spit.

I am not interested in Tenacious pets. But it's a hard call between Cunning and Ferocity. When I'm looking at a build, either for myself or my pet now, I have to consider both my own dps, and the buffs I can bring to a raid. It's nice if I can do the same damage as a ret paladin, but I don't exactly bring raid-wide utility to the table the way they do. Ferocious Inspiration only goes so far. So, what can my pet bring?

If I'm considering a Ferocious pet for pure dps, Furious Howl may be the best I can offer. The Cunning pet offers seem poor, but I can imagine a spore bat's Spore Cloud being useful for the armor reduction, especially since the effect would be raid-wide, not just applied to my party the way wolf buffs are. The bigger draw to Cunning pets comes from the mana problem I may have by running in Aspect of the Beast instead of Viper.

Say I take my wolf Cafall and make him my dps pet in Lich King. His build might look something like this. He'd have Furious Howl, Ferocious Inspiration, and Call of the Wild for my party. That's pretty good.

But let's consider a spore bat. We'll call him... Jularlmin, just because. Between Feeding Frenzy and Cornered, Jularlmin's build has the potential to deal more damage than Cafall would. And I pick up Roar of Recovery, a kind of hunter Innervate, which seems like a good way to address the issue of no longer running with Aspect of the Viper. This, in addition to the Spore Cloud ability.

In reality, I'm probably not going to have mana issues, any more than I do today. Since I won't be spamming Wing Clip anymore, the frequency with which I use mana-burning abilities will pale in comparison to a ranged hunter. And it's hard to argue that Jularlmin would be a better choice than Cafall in a raid setting. Although the Spore Cloud ability is a raid-wide effect, reducing the armor of a target by 700, I just don't think that's going to compare to the dps increase of buffing my party with Furious Howl and Call of the Wild. So while I'm using a ravager today, it looks like Cafall may be coming out of retirement in WotLK along with Gweryc himself.

WotLK Forecast: Attack Rotation and Aspects

Gweryc is growing fat and lazy these days, enjoying an extended rest and a good bit of fishing. Meanwhile I'm playing melee hunter on paper, tracking Wrath of the Lich King changes. There's some interesting stuff going on right now.

Cayl of Dentarg pointed out a couple things:
The Aspect of the Beast change is astounding and completely unforeseen. As DPS today, I run with Aspect of the Viper up. No other aspect is worthwhile. This is good, because it lets me focus on collecting agility/AP gear, whether or not it has int on it. My mana pool today is really no consideration. In the future, I'll clearly want to keep Beast up instead of Viper. This means that I'll have to be a lot more careful about the size of my mana pool, and I may be forced to use mana pots instead of haste pots during long fights.

The superb Mongoose Bite change will completely alter my DPS rotation. It's nice to note that Mongoose Bite scales with AP. And both Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite, as my staple attacks, will benefit from from Savage Strikes, ensuring a reasonably steady stream of Kill Commands.

But what in the world has happened to Wing Clip? It's been consolidated to a single rank, no longer deals damage, and costs 6% of the hunter's base mana. The old Wing Clip(Rank 1), at a cost of 40 mana, would have basically been free when you consider the increased size of our mana pools in WotLK. With this change, Wing Clip is completely useless to me in a PvE DPS rotation. No more spamming it for procs. This is a horrible disappointment.

Taking all this into consideration, my DPS rotation should look something like: Immo trap, Mongoose Bite, Kill Command, Raptor Strike. Of course, I'm efficient (lazy), so I'll probably cram all the melee attacks into a /castrandom macro or something.