World of Warcraft: Rogue at 90 But Massively Frustrated Again

I made a big push to get my rogue to 90 today. That’s make my 9th level 90 toon, leaving only my priest and monk. I think I’ll probably just not bother with my monk, seeing how much time and effort leveling the rest of my toons took. But overall, I will say that it was a pretty frustrating experience overall towards the end in both leveling a rogue and gearing her.

I prepared quite a bit before hand, locating both BoA daggers in the Dread Wastes to give her a slight head start while leveling. With my cloth wearing spell casters, it’s been massively easier because I had crafted a ton of leveling gear while working on my tailoring professions. That allowed me to provide tons of ilvl 415 blue hand me downs as well as some good Inscription staves I either crafted or purchased off the Auction House.

In the case of my rogue, it was tougher gearing her, despite the daggers since I didn’t gear her up as much in Cataclysm, nor did I have enough crafted goods for her. But while you’re leveling through the Jade Forest, gear doesn’t play as much of a factor in that stage. Most of the creatures won’t hit you too hard and you can do some reasonable damage with the gear you receive.

Once you pass that point and enter the Valley of the Four Winds, things start to pick up immensely. The little rabbit humanoids are real pests and tend to quite a bit of damage, not to mention cluster irritably together in tight formations. If you manage to bypass the first two little zones in the Valley of the Four Winds, you’re almost home free. But moving forward, you’ll be constantly plagued by hard hitting NPCs. And the rogue is just so squishy so you’ll have to figure out ways to survive.

After I hit 90, I used my own guide more or less to try and outfit her. That’s when I started to realize just how much Blizzard seems to hate rogues (along with Enhancement Shamans). Trying to find some decent crafted gear on the Auction House showed me just how unpopular the rogue is compared to other plate wearing classes. Maybe I came on a bad day but it just felt like a royal pain trying to get anything that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Then when I was checking out the DPS meters, I saw that combat rogues were almost dead last. In one of the theorycrafting sections, the combat rogue was dead last. It’s pretty sad since rogues in general used to be one of top damage dealing classes around. But I noticed that my rogue would take a ton of damage but had a hard time really dolling damage out while leveling. This completely contrasted Cataclysm where I could be shit geared and do reasonable DPS.

But the gear and DPS aspects are not the only things that upset me. It’s that a lot of the way your abilities work aren’t well tested when it comes to certain encounters. I managed to find quite a few really frustrating bugs and issues when I was trying to just do my normal rotation in certain encounters. For instance, I discovered that your Ambush would bug you out and kick you if you assaulted a creature in the air (like those mutant moths in the Valley of the Four Winds). My rogue “fell” through the landscape indefinitely then was completely booted out. After logging back in, my rogue still was “falling” through the landscape and ended up near a graveyard (fortunately she didn’t die).

Another fucked up issue is that you really can’t use your Vanish ability to your advantage. Supposedly, in your rotation, you should be employing Vanish in conjunction with Ambush to both build combo points and do DPS. But if you’re in a solo encounter, using Vanish will end up causing the monster to evade. Obviously, Vanish is supposed to drop aggro but if you’ve blown your cooldowns outside of Preparation and/or Vanish, then your actual abilities that you can use in a given encounter are greatly reduced. That’s pretty fucked up in my book, especially if you have to fight a stupid elite (because for some idiotic reason, Blizzard enjoys sending Elites in quests). At any rate, how does a squishy rogue compensate in these situations?

Then the LFR loot issue came up again. I really believe that when patch 5.3 came out, the drop rates reverted back to pre-5.2 days. Meaning that I think Blizzard wanted people to get loot more from their charms since they incorporated that Bad Luck Streak bonus. However, I argue that something didn’t get tested thoroughly. Since there’s no way to tell when you have a Bad Luck Streak, you have no way of accusing Blizzard of wrongful doing. Still at least for older LFRs, you would think that the rerolls should at least be buffed up since the whole idea is to get people into Throne of Thunder.

Either way, it’s been a pretty frustrating overall experience. I feel that Blizzard once again lied to us, the customers and have put up a bunch of walls to protect themselves. But I think that loot is far too important of an aspect to let them get away with murder like this. They really need to make the system more transparent rather than this black hole jackpot gambling mechanism. I mean, honestly, at this rate, you’re better off going to Vegas because at least you have a better shot of making real money as opposed to dealing with this time sink.

World of Warcraft: Easy Gold with Embersilk Bags

If you have a tailor who is level 90 and can do reasonable AoE farming, then this quick guide is for you. In Deepholm, there’s a section where you have numerous troggs engaged in a perpetual battle on the south western corner of the map. You can find anywhere between 4-10+ mobs gathered around. These mobs drop a fair amount of Embersilk cloth, which you can also use for improving your tailoring or selling straight out on the AH.

So the idea here is to nuke down these groups of mobs. I use a Mage and blast them with Arcane Explosion. They hardly do any damage to you and go down in a few well centered hits. With a reasonably sized group, you can find up to 10+ Embersilk pieces. Along with some greens.

If you have a tailor (and enchanter), you can farm this area for some time, disenchanting the greens then using the dust to create your Embersilk bags. I think these can go for around 200-400+ gold on the Auction House. Even without using the Auction House, these mobs still will drop a few pieces of gold and gray items that will net you some decent gold. I haven’t tested exactly how much gold you can make an hour just on the drops alone but it is a very nice source of money overall. Also, I haven’t really seen too many people farming in this region and the cluster of groups along with their low level make it far more efficient than slaying the ghosts in Tol Barad.

Computer Tech: Why I Refuse to Buy Dell and Alienware Anymore

At one time both Dell and Alienware were held in high esteem both as solid computer makers and (in the case of Alienware) the top-of-the-line gaming system manufacturer. Once I started speaking with people about Alienware, I came to realize that I made a huge mistake in picking up this turd of a system.

A little over a year ago for my birthday, I decided to buy myself the gaming machine that I’ve always wanted. The thing is that I have a tendency to buy older, cheaper products because top-of-the-line end up falling under the rules of Moore’s Law. But I figured what the hell, I was making decent money and I wanted to treat myself to something special for once. The gaming platform I ended up getting was an Alienware Aurora R4. The picture showed a really nerdsexy box with some cutting edge colors and components. The thing was that I figured that if I were going to be paying good money, why not invest in something that could theoretically take me for a good few years without worry?

Here’s a little dirty secret that I’ve noticed about Dell products over the years: they’re built intentionally with flaws in them. For instance, I bought a Dell laptop back in 2005 around the same time as another friend of mine picked one up. It was nearly identical. Around the same time both of our hard drives failed. It was horribly maddening since I had a ton of data that I could not easily recover on my drives. Of course, they failed roughly around when the warranty was going to expire, leading me to suspect that Dell secretly had put a time bomb in their drives to get paranoid tech unsavvy people to get feared into picking up the upsell.

This time with my Aurora R4 it didn’t take a year before I noticed things starting to fall apart. First, the wireless just stopped working. I had to jiggle it to fix it which is really odd because I never really have moved my system after I purchased it. Not only that but it’s just a cable located just slightly off from the fan. So how in the world did the wireless fail based on movement?

Next, the Blu-Ray drive has stopped functioning. I don’t know if this is due to me not putting back all the components in the correct manner after fixing the wireless problem. If that was the case, then I will say that the maze of unnecessary complexity inside of the case is ridiculous. I had a horrible experience just trying to get beneath the layers of panels that hid the motherboard. Pretty much unless you have squirrel paws, there isn’t any simple manner to delve into your case without possibly causing some other damage that you don’t know about.

Now, for no apparent reason, I went to boot my system up and found out that I’m getting a system level failure. It seems like the motherboard might be going. The system gave a pronounced and disturbing beep while slowly loading Windows up. Afterwards, I ran the diagnostics software which mentioned that I had an RTC Accuracy Test failure. I really have no idea how and why this error has occurred outside of the fact that I had a few power failures that inadvertently shutdown my system. I don’t know just how severe the random shutdown could adversely affect my computer or if, indeed, the power failure was responsible. It could simply be that the motherboard in general is crap and that most of the components are crap.

Around March, I got a call from Dell who got me to extend my warranty. Seeing that I paid a certain amount, I figured that I should get some additional life just in case these situations happen (and the fact that I just don’t trust Dell anymore). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they do this because I believe that they know internally that their systems are absolute crap. So fortunately, I did extend the warranty a few years as I’ll probably end up getting a new system eventually.

That said, after learning of this issue, I decided to contact their tech support. Guess what? They’re only open between 8am-12pm CST. Oh and on top of all this there’s a little note saying that my product does not qualify me for additional support. WTF?!?!?!! Isn’t that what the warranty is for?

Either way, this is the last straw for me with Dell. It’s obvious that the reason why the company is failing is because their products and support are absolutely worthless and that their only intent is to continue to upsell to you so that you’re in this loop of constantly breaking systems. I have no sympathy if the company gets put out and the fact that they’re so desperately trying to sell off to improve themselves demonstrate even further what a soulless behemoth the company has become.

For all the assholisms that Steve Job might’ve portrayed, the one thing is that at least he demanded standards. I don’t know if other leaders in the industry feel the same way, but I feel at this point in time, the computer manufacturing world is in utter shit. I don’t know if Tim Cook really gives a crap enough to continue pushing Apple to be the leader but I do know a lot of people just shook their heads when they saw the next generation of iOS being a Windows Mobile clone. Man, if these companies just care about bottom lines, what’s going to save us when we really need good products?

Why Girl Gamers is a Great Thing for the Industry

Having grown up during the era of the Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and $0.25 arcade games, it was a real rarity to see gamer girls around. Usually, if you found any gamer girls they would either be Asian or some tomboy type. Some how like many things girls ended up getting pegged as people who still were relegated to cooking, cleaning, sewing and having children.

And it’s a strange thing too because the image of most traditional gamers is the Revenge of the Nerds stereotype, where you had some skinny kid with glasses who knew too many annoying trivia facts (or these days some morbidly obese hippy living in his mom’s basement while munching on Hot Pockets, sipping on Energy Drinks and doing things to damage his body in worse ways than being drafted directly for a war in a radiation zone). So you would think that if anything the traditional gamer would welcome the entry of females, especially hot ones, into their realm.

Not so.

In fact, somehow girl gamers still get treated like trash and are looked not at their raw skill but other aspects that ostracize them from a lot of circles. That isn’t to say that all guys treat female gamers in a trashy light, but I tend to find gamer girls struggling far to prove themselves, just like in the office, sports and many areas of life.

While there are those that have attempted to take advantage of their image to do things like gain viewers for their live streams, many just want to have fun and do their best. A lot of the mentality of relegating female gamers to the status of the house wife demonstrates the immature mentality that parts of the world, especially spots like America still have within their culture.

The other day I was watching Yoni’s stream and someone commented how the chat reminded him of the ECW arena. Sadly, that comment was quite poignant and often I’ve felt that in watching various female streamers, the only thing these viewers care for half the time is just trolling them with indignant commentary that at times make me believe ECW was a huge cultural mistake in America that can no longer be covered up.

Yet having girl gamers is great for the industry and for people as a whole. First, you have more people who can participate in games like a World of Warcraft. You have more points of view to share. And for guys who are seeking their soul mates, it gives the possibility of sharing a passionate subject.

Many girl gamers that I’ve seen ended up becoming involved because of their boyfriends or brothers. Yet this might change even more in the future where girls aren’t simply given a Barbie doll in order to train her for the real world (and let’s face it: that’s what toys are often designed to do). Parents will be providing games to them at early stages of their life. As a result, they’ll become tech savvy and perhaps go into careers of programming or other technical aspects that relate to the technology of games. And it’s something sorely that the tech industry needs on a whole.

The thing for someone like myself is that I have moved far past the whole, “Oh wow you’re a girl gamer!” mental state. Instead, I want to see how they perform. My expectation is high no matter what. I want them to perform on equal footing. If they beat me whether it’s in a PVP battle, doing DPS, etc., it doesn’t matter because they’ve earned it just like anyone. And guys who slack will similarly earn my wrath because they do nothing to prove themselves.

I hope that more people move beyond this novelization of female gamers and treat them on equal footing. If they fuck up, tell them. But if they do great, compliment them. It’s all the same and it improves the world to be more equal on a whole.

World of Warcraft: Was Wrath of the Lich King the Best Expansion?

I know a lot of people ended up panning Wrath of the Lich King, with old timers calling people starting in that era “Wrath Babies”. People criticized the instances as being too easy, ICC as allowing casuals to participate, allowing people to purchase gear using badges and even some of the dumbed down quest design. Yet universally when you listen to a lot of people directly, quite a few will admit that Wrath of the Lich King ended up being their favorite expansion. Why is this, why did it happen and what exactly made Wrath an overall better experience than Cataclysm and Mist of Pandaria?

Wowcrendor has a great video explaining why he does not play World of Warcraft as much:

His summary talks about what ended up burning him out on Mist of Pandaria (the dailies) and the diminishing feeling of Cataclysm. The points he made are pretty valid and I think touch on some of most important aspects of why a lot of people dislike the current expansion. But as someone who started in Wrath of the Lich King, I would like to offer my interpretation to describe what made Wrath of the Lich King a great expansion for myself.

Many people point to the lore of Wrath of the Lich King having an incredibly epic feeling since those playing Warcraft 3 dealt with Arthas and saw his evolution into the Lich King. Now, we had the opportunity to take our toons and combat him. On top of that, the continent of Northrend added a huge amount of atmosphere, leading towards the encounter with the Lich King. The two elements really embodied the immersion aspect of MMORPG games.

However, the game was starting to mature overall with the game maker fine tuning ideas in the game like more fluid questing hubs, methods for making gold and allowing raids to become somewhat more accessible. Also, there was just a lot of fun things to do at max level (80) that could be done on a daily or weekly basis. For instance, you had your raid of the week, which attempted to motivate people to do older Lich King bosses. Much of the game allowed you to experience the content in different manners so that you weren’t funneled through a single path each time.

But one thing about the game being more accessible meant that you had more willing people who could come along to participate. That implied getting groups together on your server and create bonds because the content by this point wasn’t as frustrating. It still would require dedication but you had a better chance. And when people are given the illusion of moving forward (i.e. progression) then they will want to try new things out. Overall, I think it was this social experience where you had a lot of friends who felt invested in both the storyline and each other feeling like they can make progress which made Wrath of the Lich King a success.

I think everyone is in universal agreement that Cataclysm was a fucked up expansion. I think the makers looked towards high end loyalist raiders who probably felt that their space was invaded and decided to revamp the game to cater towards them. Of course, I have my little insider story where Cataclysm was going to be the last expansion (which didn’t happen apparently). Yet ignoring the politics inside of Activision/Blizzard for a second, it feels that Blizzard looked at the ICC instances as the new model for instances and adding more mechanics to challenge people.

That began a huge turn off since the casual atmosphere for LFG now was replaced by cynical people who resorted to name calling, thus discouraging a huge group of people. People who once saw the game as something that would be doable by taking an hour or two per night no longer would feel invested because the difficulty ramped up and the people who were running things frequently and thus knowing these encounters were chastising them. Having such a huge barrier to do anything else, there really wasn’t any motivation for the average player to continue.

The other thing about Cataclysm was the destruction of old zones. I think this was such a horrible idea because it prevented new people from experiencing older content. On top of that, I really believe that a lot of people simply were not interested in leveling new toons just to see older content. In fact, I think that by destroying older content zones it killed a lot of the nostalgic aspects that can never be recovered. It really was an act of futility overall.

Lastly, the lore of Catacylsm was pretty drab. You had a few new and old enemies but everything had such a mixed mood. Goblins were like bad comic relief and just an adversary to help annoy the alliance similar to gnomes. But there really wasn’t any emotional investment. Here, randomly Death Wing comes out of the water, nukes half the world, Thrall disappears, we get alpha male as the new undemocratically chosen one and things go to hell around the world (of Warcraft). There wasn’t any continuity nor theme that held that expansion together outside of Death Wing is gonna fry your ass. And it was more annoying than anything (except for those who desired the Darwin Award achievement).

I know a lot of people panned Cataclysm even more because of the introduction of LFR and the last two fights for Death Wing. But I think LFR wasn’t a bad thing, just an idea that needed (and still requires) a lot of fine tuning. The problems that resulted in the end of Cataclysm was probably just the direction of Blizzard. It felt that the company was going through a lot of turmoil both in struggling to keep up with their massive success of World of Warcraft over the years, the release of Diablo 3, the upcoming Starcraft 2 and handling the disastrous results of subscriber loss from Cataclysm. Blizzard’s PR likes pointing to Asia (most notably China) as the cause for subscriber loss, but let’s be honest. The game itself was really suffering in Cataclysm just because of poor decision making all the way through. And it didn’t start to recover until patch 4.3 where instances and LFR made the game feel accessible again.

But why did patch 4.3 get so heavily knocked? People describe the last two fights as being horribly disappointing where you fight Japanese hentai tentacles and Death Wing’s zits. However, I seriously doubt where the real frustration existed. The problem with Cataclysm at that point was that they planned on releasing nothing new because by that point they already were on Mist of Pandaria. To me that was plainly admitting that they fucked up and wanted to erase the memory of Cataclysm. In turn, people ended up farming Death Wing and those of us who relied on LFR, we were forced to deal with assholes who griefed us from time-to-time.  Thus, when you’re forced to handle something for a long period, naturally you’d become sick of it. It really didn’t have much to do with the fights, but the memories of the negative aspects from LFR like loot ninjas, griefing, stupid easy mechanics that people screwed up on and doing these things over and over again until we were blue in the face.

When Mist of Pandaria came out, I think everyone really welcomed the change of pace. The new raids of Mogu’shan Vaults was something new and presented new scenery. Then we would receive Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring, all of which presented new mechanics, encounters and atmospheres. Yet to get to these points, we had a very long road to grind towards.

And while the first time through Mist of Pandaria was wonderful, the thing is that there is just too much of a funneling, linear experience that takes place. We started to see this aspect in Cataclysm and it looked as though they partially backed away from this. But leveling would become a horrible chore. While the lands of Pandaria were beautifully sculpted, the truth is that once you enter through the experience once, you really wanted to get passed everything so that you could focus on working on end game content.

Yet what Blizzard discovered in Cataclysm with the Molten Front daily system, they decided to go full force. However, if you look at everything Pandaria from the highest view point, people describe it as the numerous gates at almost every level. The dailies gate gear, which are further gated by valor points and the quest givers at times are gated behind other quests or reputation. Everything is just layers and layers of meaningless progression. And they are not exactly things you can do in 10 minutes. But to really maximize just one toon, you’d be forced to play for a few hours to really do everything.

The whole extremely slow progressive system while varied wasn’t something people wanted. They want options, the ability to move quickly and do things at their pace. You cannot argue that Mist of Pandaria lacked content to interact with because certainly there’s a lot. In fact, it’s quite the opposite where you are overwhelmed in trying to keep up. Ghostcrawler’s analogy of “enjoying things slowly like a fine wine” cannot apply because you really aren’t here to enjoy things on a molasses pace. You want to get things done and the way you want it.

I think right now, it’s gotten a lot better because there are more options but I would argue that the speed of progression still can be frustrating and the time investment is still far too high. Still, the damage has been done and when people finish this expansion, they’ll remember mostly the daily grind, long queues and stupid mechanics like Durumu or Garalon rather than a beautifully painted world.

You could argue that the game now favors the solo casual player. This is true but it still isn’t the experience that I feel a lot of people are looking for. I like having the option for both depending on my time allotment. The real aspect Blizzard needs to figure out is the time/work-to-reward ratio which is lacking in this game and balance that around how players can interact with each other. Somehow Wrath of the Lich King sounded like it was the closest in this regard. Of course, that all could be just nostalgia but just based on what I’ve read and heard, this case seems to hold true.

Game Streamers and My Pet Peeves

Normally, I try to say positive things about streamers I enjoy following. However, I was one particular person (who I won’t name here) and some of his actions really made me disgusted. The issue was over giveaways and the idea of being disqualified for giveaways for those who leave the chat for whatever reason. I suppose he has his rights to decide what people to give to but it was his attitude and the way a lot of the gaming community on these streams are evolving into in order to attract followers.

Now, I do think it’s great for streamers to do things to increase participation for their streams. But I felt in this case and in others that there’s something missing like sincerity and integrity as well as the intention of just making it one’s permanent job to livestream non-stop. While watching it disturbed me about his attitude towards viewers and reminded me dangerously more of a TV evangelist begging people for money to support a false doctrine.

I’m a huge supporter of the gaming industry and I think it’s great that there are now ways of creating avenues for people to do things that they are passionate about. At the same time, I think some people take it too far and let the little bits of fame get to their heads. It’s a real turn off for someone like me who enjoys good commentary, a sense of community and being able to learn something by watching a decent gamer/streamer.

The other thing is that I kept thinking to myself, “What is this industry coming to?” I don’t want to watch someone play just in the hopes of getting some freebie. That seems pretty shallow. And I think it’s equally shallow that many of these streamers do things like that. Not everyone who does a giveaway might be shallow, but when you look at streamers such as those on the Diablo 3 channel, most of them are just copy cats. For myself, I like people such as Archon the Wizard, whom I feel has done one of the best jobs at creating a very good community and has done a great job innovating the participation/social aspects and not just behave in the Johnny-come-Lately manner that so many other Diablo 3 streamers are doing (and he’s a nice guy to boot).

I suppose my anger is similar in some ways to how Steve Jobs grew angry over Android and Google. While Apple have done their fair share of stealing ideas, I think Steve really wanted Google to innovate on their own, considering all the talent that they supposedly possess. With regards to streamers, I feel a bit angry in that manner because there really isn’t much to differentiate each person. Everyone wants partnership and they like doing stupid giveaways in desperate attempts to gain more followers en route to a partnership.

Yet like one of the key lessons in product development that I learned while working for Demand Media, the thing about streaming is that you have to develop your own voice. In the case of product development, the people over at Demand Media (at one time at least) described the key ingredient for building something is adding “soul” to it.

Most streamers in their quest for partnership don’t really have much of a “soul” so to speak. It feels that a lot try to sell out in the interest of what they think is easy money.  I think that method is insincere and just adds to the mass of white noise in the Twitch universe.

For myself, I enjoy people who really attempt to set themselves apart somehow. For instance, I really love Yoni’s stream (aka Rabbitbong). What makes her stream awesome for me are the people. There’s a lot of raunchy, adult humor embedded but she lets most of it slide, which gives a nice edge. Some of her highlights are really simple but funny such as her eating a popsicle or her laughing after getting excited over a timeshare. To me those are elements you can’t replicate because those are experiences she’s able to create on stream with her own tone, followers and cohorts.

Also, she wanted to be different by purposely avoiding a sub button. Although she’s partnered with Twitch and probably can easily get one, I think her attitude towards not being so focused on having the sub button is refreshing.

In another situation, I just started following a Japanese World of Warcraft streamer. The guy doesn’t have many viewers but as far as I can tell, he’s the only Japanese speaking streamer around who does both PVE and PVP. As a person who has been severely out of practice with his Japanese listening, it’s a great way to get me involved by adding the element of interest into the equation.

These are just some examples of various people I follow and enjoy watching. The streamer does not have to be a high end streamer but just someone who has good content and provides something unique. I want to have fun in these streams and feel like I’m part of something. That to me is where those that just do giveaways or focus mostly on increasing viewership rather than improving the quality of their stream make the biggest difference.

World of Warcraft: DPS Class/Spec Review for Patch 5.3

Mike Preach has come up with some interesting videos discussing whether you should roll a certain class or not. I felt inspired by a lot of his commentary and wanted to throw my two cents into the mix by examining the DPS roles of classes and specs I’ve played in this expansion so far.

Retribution Paladin

A while back Mike Preach described the Retribution Paladin somewhat clunky. I think part of the problem goes back to when classes like the paladin started to get their own resource management system. In the paladin’s case, they received Holy Power. Back in Cataclysm, generating Holy Power was pretty frustrating for the most part until you received your tier set, which allowed Judgments to generate Holy Power. Until then you had a long cooldown in the form of Crusader Strike, which you could bring up only slightly by pushing your haste up.

I think they figured out that the Holy Power generation was poorly handled, which caused them to permanently have more abilities like Exercism and Judgment to further generate Holy Power, especially when you’re forced to keep Inquisition up as your highest priority. The thing is that things still are silly in the way this setup works. First, you have Boundless Conviction, which allows you to store 2 additional points of Holy Power up. Unfortunately, the way the UI is setup, you have to either remember how many points of Holy Power you have total or depend on an add on to tell you. But the way things work is that people say that it’s better to store up all 5 Holy Power points rather than use Templar’s Verdict at 3 points. That way you can generate one more Holy Power for a quick, near double Templar’s Verdict shot.

However, this situation can be frustrating since you still have to deal with Inquisition. What if you have 5 Holy Power stored up and your Inquisition is about to fall off? A lot of the issue involves this horrible system of juggling these things around, which makes the class feel awkward at times as you have to use your better judgment (no pun intended).

Even more frustrating is the AoE aspect of a Retribution Paladin. Gone is our friend Consecration, now left only to Protection Paladins. Instead, we too get Hammer of the Righteousness along with Divine Storm. While that’s a nifty little AoE ability, the real problem occurs in deciding when to switch your Seal of Truth to Seal of Righteousness. There is an “optimal” manner for deciding each situation all based on the number of mobs. But you’re also supposed to keep Inquisition up too. So as you can see, the situation is not very straight forward and boils down to three different scenarios in the least.

Beyond that there’s the issue of cooldowns. I think they’re slowly attempting to make cooldowns line up in a more sensible manner. Before, Avenging Wrath, one of your big cooldowns, was gear dependent. Now, it’s baseline and in the future patch your Guardian of the Ancient Kings will also decrease in terms of its cooldown.

That all said, the Retribution paladin can be a fun class. I don’t really find it holding as much utility as say a shaman or druid, but the key thing I’ve found is that Retribution Paladins have a knack for survival. They share a fair number of really good defensive cooldowns, which allows you to prepare for emergency situations. You can off tank on occasion with your heavy armor, threat generation abilities and defensive capabilities. But they also do pretty good burst DPS. Unfortunately, you’re still pretty gear dependent and most abilities just feel slow and plodding as you wait for things to come off of cooldown.

Beast Master Hunter

I typically go Beast Master whenever I solo things. In fact, Beast Master for the most part has been the de facto solo spec for hunters throughout the history of the class. Most people who solo things end up using a Tenacity pet, which acts as a mini tank with its ability to hold aggro and have some AoE abilities and a fair amount of health. However, I think since Cataclysm, the Tenacity pet has lost a significant amount of its aggro holding abilities and I’ve on numerous occasions found myself running around while my pet would try it’s hardest to grab aggro back.

The thing about the Beast Master hunter is that it can either be a lot of fun to play or just a downright pain. And a pain not just because of something you might do but in cases where another player inadvertently or underhandedly attempts to cause grief in group situations. From a group oriented point of view, I find that the Beast Master really isn’t all that great of a spec. The only possible distinction between themselves and the other two specs is that ability to use exotic pets, which allows you to use a core hound and there by add another bloodlust option utility to a raid group.

From a DPS point of view, the Beast Master works pretty well when you’re in a single target mode. But the AoE for a Beast Master all depends on using multishot, which triggers your pet to hop around and bite everything in site. Compared to the survival hunter, AoE for the Beast Master sucks ass. In addition, the moment your pet dies, you must spend an action reviving him. While you do have a cooldown that instantly rivives your pet, you still lose a second of DPS. In some fights, your pet will die multiple times, really hindering your DPS. In some solo quests, you will not have the option of utilizing your pet, which goes to show just how bad this spec can perform in anything beyond a simple solo scenario.

Of course, there is one situation where Beast Masters can trump the other two specs and that is in soloing certain mobs, including the possibility of bosses. A good Beast Master Hunter can kite for long periods and manage to keep his pet up. Your CC and slow tools are immense so this is a very special area that few classes and specs can perform easily.

Survival Hunter

Once I heard that Survival was the king spec for DPS, I decided to permanently switch my main spec back over to Survival. Survival is a great raid/group spec and is pretty easy to play. Since you are not tied to your pet, you can still do a fair amount of damage if your pet inadvertently dies during a fight. The thing I like about survival is that it’s straight forward and clean. During Cataclysm I switched from Survival to Marksmen because the Explosive Shot proc never really worked. You would get the proc, but the ability would be on cooldown from what I remember and not really give you the chance to use it. I think they cleaned that aspect up and it smoothed a lot of the play out.

Another aspect that makes Survival an easy favor over Beast Master in group situations is that their AoE damage is awesome. Your multishots instigate serpent sting on your targets as well, so you get dots everywhere. Add your explosive trap and how multishot has a more fluid cooldown compared to the other hunter specs and you can see how Survival can rocket up the damage tree quite quickly. Not to mention the rotation makes sense.

The only aspect that you have to worry about is your pet. While your pet dying won’t cause the same level of hindrance as a Beast Master hunter, the situation still knocks a fair amount of DPS from you. You still have tools to help prevent this from happening so it ends up being more of an annoyance than a make-it-or-break-it situation.

Marksman Hunter

I haven’t played Marksman since Cataclysm so I’ll comment based on what I’ve seen back then. My primary reason for choosing Marksman back in the day was hearing how it was a top DPS spec. Survival had that one issue with Explosive Shot that I pointed out but there was another thing that I did not care for in Survival: the lack of self-healing. You could take the Spirit Bond talent but it felt low and again forced you to depend on your pet. Not to mention it wasn’t a good talent choice for Survival Hunters.

Marksman though had a self heal built into their rotation with their Chimera Shot so to me that had some appeal. The thing is that it felt more like a mediocre spec. There’s always been this confusion about PVE end game raid specs when it came down to Marksman vs Survival. Beast Master would only be thrown in once people complained that they wanted to play the spec in raids. However, Marksman and Survival seemed to trade between PVE and PVP.

However, I think both specs are redundant of one another. Mist of Pandaria essentially made both specs almost non-distinguishable from one another since Survival at one time had a melee component. I think the original designers for Survival had the image of Legolas in mind since Hunters, back in the day, could wield and even dual wield melee weapons. That allowed Marksman to be the sole breadwinner as the supreme archer spec and giving it a sense of RP identity.

At the moment, neither really stand out from each other. One seems to focus more on burst while the other is dot based. One works with traps and proc’ing off those traps while the other depends on cooldowns and spamming certain abilities to trigger the big ability. Yet in reality you don’t really feel the difference that much since Survival tends to work off of Black Arrow for the “trap” and the other has a slightly more confusing two scenario rotation.

For myself I prefer the cleaned up Survival spec over all. However, in the upcoming 5.4 patch, the one aspect that will make Marksman stand out once again is the return of Silencing Shot as a spec only ability. Quite frankly, they really need to look over both specs and overhaul them rather than giving one spec a utility ability just to make that class stand out in very specific situations.

Overall, between hunters I find the class to be a real mixed bag. I like the massive utility you get such as stripping away spell buffs from the enemy, your CCs and slows. But it’s a class that you can easily fuck up in so many ways because it still is an awkward class to really master. That’s probably why hunters will always be known as “huntards.” But I feel that like most problems in the game, it’s primarily a UI issue.

Balance Druid

When I finished Cataclysm on my Druid, I geared her for the Balance spec. Feral druids had a notoriously over complex rotation that involved managing numerous bleeds and positioning for maximizing your DPS. On the other hand, Balance druids were all about either managing dots or dealing with your solar and lunar energy. Towards the end for me, my Balance Druid ended up being a lot of fun because of the sheer utility she brought in group situations. Person died in combat? Battle rez. Need AoE heals? Tranquility. Missing a healer because asshole pulled early? Drop a quick HoT on yourself or the tank. Need to GTFO from a spot? Switch to cat form and run.

Unfortunately, all this time I feel that Balance Druids have suffered immensely in the DPS department. Eventually, your DPS will improve once you have good gear but compared to say an Arcane mage, you will find yourself constantly struggling, especially in single target situations. And while the main single target Balance rotation is easy to master, it feels cumbersome. Here, you face four issues: 1) moving back and forth between solar and lunar power; 2) dealing with the horribly slow Starfire casting time; 3) having a nonsensical AoE (Starfall) included in your AoE rotation; 4) dealing with high movement encounters where instants matter.

Your rotation in tank and spank fights is very straight forward, especially when your target doesn’t move. However, as we’re seeing far and more high movement fights, you can really suffer since you’ll probably be relegated in reapplying your dots just to get a few points of damage out (but again that’s the problem about the design of those fights). The real problems I’ve found is in solo encounters.

In solo encounters, more than likely you’ll add Typhoon into your mix as you’ll want to maximize the distance between you and your enemy while you cast your slow ass spells. Typhoon is one of these mega retarded spells that can either be real fun or a horrible pain in the ass. Here, it becomes like an erectile dysfunction in situations where other mobs are around. Add your stupid Starfall into the mix and you’ll more than likely pull a ton of mobs around you and die a Darwinian death. The thing is that you have two options in these cases: 1) pull everything and die; 2) do terrible DPS while watching a mob hammer your face in. In short, you cannot win. As a result, Boomkins for soloing most encounters simply sucks ass.

Boomkins do rock in AoE encounters. Their hurricane channeled AoE is possibly one of the best AoE abilities around. I would argue that their simple AoE rotation is highly attractive with the only drawback being that you utilize a tremendous amount of mana each time you cast a hurricane. But the real sweet deal for Boomkins are when you see between 3-6 mobs so you can use your DoTs. This is where a Boomkin can really shine as you will gain tons of proc’s for your Starsurge ability, thus seeing some serious, high damaging free bursts of nukes.

Still, that won’t make up for the overall cumbersome feeling of playing a boomkin. Once patch 5.4 hits though, boomkins practically will dissolve into nothing. You’ll see an increase in damage since your moonkin form no longer will reduce damage by 15% (although I read that their armor will increase; not sure how this all will play out), some of your abilities will increase in mana cost (again not sure how this will play out at lower levels, although you will generate more solar/lunar energy in return). But the main thing for me is that I don’t see anything that really boosts the boomkin’s damage. In PVE without top gear, they really are garbage. Sure you have certain utility aspects like HoTs but I just find the spec to be something I’m shelving for a while.

Feral Druid

I made the mistake of not gearing up as Feral once I hit 90. It was such a stupid mistake in Mist of Pandaria because I figured that I would be doing more LFR than anything. And the last expansion made Ferals pretty much worthless in group situations. Boy was I wrong!

Right now, I feel that melee classes have it a lot better overall than ranged classes, definitely with a lot of the Throne of Thunder fights. With regards to the Feral Druid though, I just feel it’s in a far better situation than the boomkin. That’s why I ended up switching back to my Feral and I’m already seeing good results despite the fact that my Feral Druid isn’t as geared as my Boomkin. That’s just saying how bad Boomkins are imo.

Although I hate dealing with the energy resource, Feral Druids feel a hell of a lot easier to play these days. You still have to manage your bleeds but with a good add on that becomes a non-issue. Also, the positioning problem pretty much has been negated since Mangle and Shred have closed the gaps. Your AoE rotation won’t ever be as good as your boomkin counterpart but those situations tend to focus more on trash mobs. For solo play, your Thrash and Swipe tend to take things down pretty fast.

The only time I ever have problems with my Feral Druid is when I accidentally screw up my rotation and do something stupid like cast a non-instant heal, which will revert me to my normal form, or perhaps hit the wrong finisher (because of how many abilities you end up having to manage).

Lastly, you still have some utility like battle resurrection, better interrupts, a very cool symbiosis table and some CC ability. Your heals, outside of performing them on yourself, won’t be as good but you’re more focused on survival. And that sometimes outweighs things in the scheme of things.

Frost Death Knight

Just how yummy is a Frost Death Knight? It’s like having an ice cream Popsicle in terms of deliciousness with their top notch DPS, simple rotation, interrupts, etc. This is one class Mike Preach mentioned that he felt is in line with a smooth play style and for the most part I agree. You have three main things to worry about in your rotation: 1) keeping your diseases up; 2) managing your runes; 3) runic power.  Keeping your diseases up is pretty straight forward as one of your abilities will cast an AoE of putting Frost Fever up on your enemies. So in essence, you mostly have to manage one disease, which tends to go on for a fair amount of time.

The real issue is just figuring out when and where to use your two core DPS abilities in Frost Strike and Obliterate. Obliterate is your main nuker and where you will see those huge 200k+ crits once your Killing Spree is proc’d. However, spamming it alone isn’t necessarily the priority and can cause you to mismanage your runic power easily, thus leading to a DPS loss as opposed to the trickery of just seeing big numbers show up on screen.

Beyond that is your AoE abilities. The two you probably will use the most are Death and Decay and Howling Blast. For people into really maximizing things, you can use your pestilence to spread your plague onto others in a group as well and perhaps throw in a Blood Boil here and there as well. But for the most part Death Knights have a pretty straight forward AoE rotation that does splendid damage.

Yet to sweeten the pot, you get a fair amount of raid utility thrown into the mix. With a non-tank Death Knight, you have the responsibility of getting your tanks and healers back up (if anyone outside of your #1 DPS ever begs you to battle rez them, DON’T! This is an absolute strategic error in PUG situations). You have some CC and good interrupts to boot as well as a nice group defensive cooldown in Anti Magic Shell. For the really savvy Death Knights out there, you can function as an off tank in the situation where your main tank goes down and you need someone to pick up aggro and go on the defensive really quick. You do this by moving into Blood Presence, using your taunts and switching to Death Strike to keep yourself up and perhaps sacrificing a minion in the heat of a moment. Lastly, you can help everyone walk on water with your Path of Frost.

Either way, as you can see, playing a Death Knight can be loads of fun and the best Death Knights out there will know how to get every inch out of their toon. Finally, the Death Knight just is ridiculous when it comes to DPS. I suspect that the simple rotation and the burst DPS you get allows your Death Knight to just nuke everything when you’re starting out. Once you get geared, you will constantly find yourself near the top of the damage charts. Overall, this is generally a great DPS spec to play.

Enhancement Shaman

I’ve always been about the Enhancement Shaman. At first, the class felt awkward for me because I was struggling back in Wrath of the Lich King. When Cataclysm rolled up, I created a new Enhancement Shaman with the BoAs on my current server and never looked back. The first thing I noticed was just how awesome the burst damage was. Gone were the days of having to deal with managing your mana. Then you started being able to use Stormstrike and dual wield rather than wait until level 40 or so to get those abilities. The reworked spec was leaps and bounds better.

However, I started really noticing how awesome the Enhancement Shaman was during patch 4.3 with the Hour of Twilight and Death Wing LFR. I felt as if the End Time last boss was made just for the enhancement shaman. It was such a fun fight to do since you would be managing the group’s lust, throwing out chain heals and healing rain if your group got low (or if you healer died during the fight), you could turn into your ghostwolf form and quickly run up to the boss, blow your cooldowns along with blood lust and just own the whole encounter. Or if the guy managing the hourglass forgot to hit it at the right moment or died, you could transform, run over and reset everything.

With Pandaria, you lost some aspects like many of your totems but you still have tremendous utility. I don’t know how people can hate an enhancement shaman because of how much potential he can bring to your group. Right now too you’ll see that enhancement shamans are pretty up there in terms of damage. And here’s the thing that I’ve found: even if you toss out healing rains or chain heals, you still can be doing top notch DPS.

If I had one major complaint about the enhancement shaman it’s that their AoE rotation really blows. The main thing outside of tossing down your Magma Totem, is that you are required to have your Flame Shock up on a target on all times. If you have a bunch of enemies that go down quickly, you more will have trouble getting your Lava Lash up, which is the next step before hitting your Fire Nova. Forget chain lightning unless you have your Maelstrom Weapon proc up. But the thing is that I’ve found the management of this rotation to hardly work in many cases. You really are required to have a target with a lot of health surrounded by enough smaller targets to make this rotation worth anything.

Outside of that the remaining complaint I have regards gear, namely their weapons. Getting two weapons of any kind is a real nightmare. So imagine trying to get the same weapon twice. What’s more frustrating is that the range of decent weapons for an enhancement shaman is smaller than you can imagine. Most of us look for fist weapons, one handed maces and axes but daggers can qualify too as something we can use. However, they are not ideal because we’re supposed to use slow weapons to get the really heavy hits in.

So sometimes to compensate we’ll have to look towards the crafting route. Here, crafting weapons really do not exist for enhancement shamans. It’s a notorious matter that other enhancement shamans on the forums complain about all the time. You’ll see an insulting agility one handed sword but no hammers, fist weapons, maces nor axes. Some people will ask, “Hey, why not just give Enhancement Shamans axes?” Why indeed? I mean, the other day my mage received the Sha Touched intellect one handed sword. Since when do mages wield anything beyond a dagger, wand or staff? It’s one of those things that make you believe that Blizzard secretly hates Shamans, despite the fact that Thrall is the greatest Shaman around. Go figure.

Before going on, I will say that I have yet to play an elemental shaman. Right now, I’m gearing up his elemental side in the hope of one day just giving it a shot. Some people have remarked that elemental is pretty up there right now. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I found a video showing how a tauren elemental shaman would knock people from their mounts using their Thunderstorm ability. Even without that, I still would like to try one out so I can write a commentary on my experience.

Demonology Warlock

The Demonology Warlock spec was one of the most overhauled specs around. I think for the most part they did an excellent job in trying to make sense of a spec that probably was far too complex than intended. This spec to me is your solo Warlock spec and extremely powerful in my experience when it comes to solo’ing creatures as well as doing pretty decent raid DPS. On top of that it’s pretty fun to boot and visually a very unique spec and style to play.

Gone for Warlocks are the universal Soul Shard resource. In the case of the Demonology Warlock you have Demonic Fury as one of your primary resources along with Mana. Most of the time you will be managing Demonic Fury through both the accumulation and expenditure of this resource, going in and out of your demon form during this process.

While this class does have a dot component, it doesn’t feel the same way as say a boomkin, where the dot application feels smoother. Part of the thing is that you constantly are moving in and out of your demonic form and handling two separate action bars. If anything I find this constant change to be a little on the awkward side. In some ways, you feel like a boomkin because you’re balancing a resource.

But unlike the boomkin, the way you manage it is not automatic. Once you have the optimal amount of fury, you can exceed or even waste additional fury by not changing over. And knowing when to change is the whole key to optimizing your DPS. The main thing is that your demonic form causes you to do a lot more damage with your Soul Fire and that your Shadowbolts become instant cast Touch of Chaos. Just hitting maximum Demonic Fury then switching to Demon form isn’t really the optimal way to go, unlike a boomkin who simply changes from Wrath or Starfire and vice versa. Part of managing your Demonic Fury and switching is in applying your dots and maintaining them. That’s where all the real hidden complexity in this class comes in and where you might end up suffering on the DPS end.

That said, even if you have difficulties managing the fine details of your rotation, you can get away with just hitting maximum Demonic Fury and switching to Demon form, etc. and do reasonable DPS. I wouldn’t encourage this option but for lazy people or those just starting out, it’s an easy way to just get used to some of the basic concepts.

The Demonology Warlock also plays like a hunter since you do have a pet who does some serious damage. However, just like a huntard, a Demonology Warlock n00b can completely screw up and do something like leaving their pet’s taunts on and screwing up a raid encounter. Hey, everyone is guilty of doing something silly but you should definitely learn your pet’s abilities and focus on managing them.

While your pet can occasionally screw up do things like taunt mobs off a tank or grab additional mobs by accident since it does possess some AoE abilities, the thing is that your pet will do a pretty good job of holding aggro. Honestly, I find that the Felguard does a better job at times than my hunter pets.

One thing I do like about the Demonology Warlock is their AoE. Immolation Aura is just a really nice and simple AoE with some good perks. Once your pet locks a group of mobs down, just saunter over and destroy them with your Immolation Aura. It’s far simpler than the weirder or more awkward multishot (and something that has pissed me off ever since they removed Volley from Hunters).

Destruction Warlock

One consistent thing you’ll see in raids are more Destruction Warlocks. Why? Awesome DPS! Warlocks are one of those classes like Hunters who have their flavor of the month spec. Right now, it’s Destruction. Once I found out that the top DPS were Destruction Warlocks who had similar or even lesser gear than my own, I decided to make the switch and dedicate group situations to Destruction. And the results have definitely been great.

I think Mike Preach doesn’t really care for the Destruction Warlock and he had a few pretty valid complaints about it. The main thing for me though is that it’s just an easy spec to produce good, solid numbers. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Prior to Mist of Pandaria, I would argue that Destruction Warlocks along with Feral Druids and Demonology Warlocks were some of the most complex classes to really maximize, having a ridiculous number of things to include into their rotations.

Right now, it feels that Destruction Warlocks have roughly 5-6 things to deal with in a single target encounter. It’s really not a dot class and I heard the comment that Destruction Warlocks “are like fire mages.” Because I haven’t played a fire mage thus far, I cannot reply to that idea. But I will say that the play style is pretty straight forward, just burn things up, get Burning Embers and have a few big burst moments. It might seem pretty boring, which is why some people probably prefer Affliction of Demonology because of their more complex methods. But as a result oriented person, Destruction suits me fine.

That said, I want to talk about their single and AoE rotations. While most of the single target rotation is fine, the thing that burns me up (yes pun intended this time) is the inclusion of Rain of Fire. I don’t get it. You’re focusing on a single target. Why are you spamming an AoE spell? This is just a bad idea much like the inclusion of Starfall in the boomkin’s rotation. For me, it just makes no sense. And it’s really awkward at times because of how you’re forced to place the Rain of Fire. Let’s say that you’re in a boss fight where there’s a ton of junk on the ground and you cannot easily spot the placement market. You will spend a needless amount of time trying to place the market on the right spot just to do a few points of damage. They consider it a buff but I consider it a pain in the ass.

AoE rotation is equally pointless. Here is where I completely agree with Mike Preach. The idea is that you need to do three other things prior to launching your Rain of Fire. In some ways, it’s like a Shaman’s AoE rotation where you need to do something prior in order to proceed. In this case, you’re not as limited because you can just launch a Rain of Fire without starting an Immolate. But it just seems so stupidly useless and pointless at the same time.

When it comes to the overall feeling of Destruction, the thing is that you can get a lot of it for almost nothing. You can fudge a bit on your rotation without dire consequences and there is a bit of room for margin of error. Most of the problems I’ve seen involve managing your Burning Embers, which isn’t hard to build up, and deciding when to throw your Chaos Bolts out. Since I use an add on to help manage my rotation, I still occasionally discover situations where it feels Chaos Bolt is a better choice than Incinerate. But some of that also is the result of the poor UI queues in the normal system. Unlike say Frostfire bolt, Chaos Bolt isn’t one of those instant proc type of abilities so it’s a matter of judgment.

At any rate, Destruction spec to me is just something to get me by for the moment. It’s okay to play just like boomkins back in patch 4.3. It’s not something I feel all that passionate about.

Affliction Warlock

I think this is the spec that most people think about when you hear the word Warlock. It is the premier dot class and the class that probably defined the whole idea of dots more than any other in the game. For myself, I ended up switching away from Affliction to Demonology and Destruction. I played it towards the end of Cataclysm, finding the simpler rotation to be easier to breeze through the end game instances and LFR.

However, I think that it still wasn’t a class that really suited my play style. At that time, I didn’t master the dot strategy. Affliction Warlocks enable you with a ton of control over situations and the classic dot strategy that most people preferred as Affliction was dot and fearing mobs. At this point, I probably could do that a lot better but I don’t see many situations where I really want to do that. It feels like too much micromanagement involved and it’s just not the play style that I enjoy.

Even now, there’s little incentive for me to play Affliction because it’s not really at the top when it comes to DPS. It feels like it’s a better PVP spec. I prefer the other two specs for soloing and group content. Without a purpose then, this spec really doesn’t do much for me at the moment, especially since the other two specs are far more straight forward than ever to play.

Fury Warrior

Warriors can be some of the most fun classes you’ll ever play. The two movement boosts in Heroic Leap and Charge and the self heals are elements that bring a lot of life to the warrior class. Fury Warriors add to the interesting aspect because of their two handed dual wielding capability. Visually, you get some real menacing fury warrior, especially Tauren having imposing armor and bearing some of heaviest weapons around.

What about DPS? A friend of mine described the Fury Warrior as being brutal for leveling during Mist of Pandaria because of the expertise and hit issues in Dual Wielding. Traditionally, warriors have been gear dependent and I can easily still see this trend going on. It’s not as hard as before when it comes to getting the basic two stats of expertise and hit capped since they lowered the numbers to a flat 7.5% respectively. Yet the thing that hurts the most is obtaining good weapons. That part is probably the most frustrating aspect as a fury warrior and at times made me consider moving to Arms.

The thing about the Fury Warrior is that your damage is far too gear dependent. After that a lot of problems I’ve encountered is mostly through managing your rage properly. While you have a priority rather than a rotation, most of the time you’re focused on waiting on cooldowns and having enough rage. The worst feeling in the world is having no ability on cooldown nor having any rage while being low on health. And there are quite a few situations where you’ll see yourself in this condition.

One of the positives I’ve discovered about Fury Warriors is that you will be able to macro a lot of abilities together. I really like how their cooldowns line up nicely. So you can easily create a pair of macros to handle both sets of cooldowns. That will eliminate a lot of useless hot keys and make things far more manageable. Of course, people like Swifty have created things like one shot macros but I haven’t given that aspect a try.

That being said, I would like to try Arms out some day. Arms is something I looked at once but couldn’t figure out and ended up switching to protection and Fury. My main goal in trying Arms will be to figure out how it feels compared to Fury.

Frost Mage

Here’s a class that probably has a lot of bias due to one of the lead designers supposedly having a main as a Frost Mage. For myself, Frost Mages supposedly have been the solo class. Now, I believe they are at the top of the DPS, or at least compete with Arcane in that spot. What makes a Frost Mage good at soloing?

The main aspect of a Frost Mage is CC’ing and slowing opponents. You have a few pretty decent abilities to slow single or multiple opponents while you focus on nuking them from a distance. Once you have your opponent snared, you can get various proc’s depending on if you used your pet’s CC and/or if you use Frost Orb. These proc’s give you some nice nukes. If your opponent gets too close, you also have the option of Blinking out of site. And if things get really hairy you can just invoke your Invisibility to escape. Combine that with your Blink ability and you should be able to escape harms way while mobs reset.

That said I honestly hate the Frost Mage spec to death. And the main reason is that I hate the stupid elemental pet. I really don’t see a great use for him in solo conditions. He doesn’t have any aggro holding abilities and the main thing you use him for is snaring opponents so you can either Deep Freeze them or firing off a proc’d Ice Lance. Doesn’t sound bad? Well, the Water Elemental is pretty much retarded and I’ve found myself attracting more mobs because the little fucker (like The Shining Danny Little Fucker) just stands around useless firing off bolts while mobs wander right into him. It would be nice if the elemental did something useful in solo situations, I don’t know maybe actually taking mobs off of me for once so I can nuke them. It’s just a really useless pet for the most part.

To aggravate you even more is the fact that you probably will take the Ice Lance glyph to boost your damage. In raid situations, this is great. In solo situations, there’s a good chance that you will do something idiotic and end up causing far more mobs to assault you than you’d like. While having the occasional free cleave is nice, I’d like it to be under more controlled circumstances.

In raid situations, the elemental is again pretty useless. Your ability to freeze opponents is negated thus rendering your free Ice Lance proc into bean fart. That means you’re forced to depend on Freezing Orb for your procs. Of course, you probably don’t have to worry as much about threat so you can just focus on Frostbolting your enemies to death, but the free proc’s still feel like a huge DPS loss in theory.

Lastly, there’s the whole AoE debacle. What is with AoE these days? I really feel Blizzard is dropping the ball on this aspect by making it far too complex and in many cases fucking insane. And not in the good colloquial usage. What can I say about the Frost mage other than BLIZZARD IS NO LONGER PART OF THE CORE ROTATION. WTF!?!?! How can the defining AoE ability, the thing that made you want to bring a mage along not be considered part of the fucking frost mage rotation for AoE? Instead, we use arcane and fire, but not a cold based spell? Does this make any fucking sense whatsoever? Should Arcane Explosion just go to the Arcane Mage while Flamestrike belong to the Fire Mage? Why are these part of the core AoE rotation but not Blizzard?

This is where you really want to take the designers for these specs/classes, put them on a spread eagle type of torture device then repeatedly punch their nutsack in until they develop a natural vagina. The premise of having to do something in order to do something really wears on my patience. It feels as if people try to overthink these things when in fact it’s just meaningless business work at the end of the day.

Either way, I really hate playing this spec. I feel like I’m forced to at the moment because the other choices really aren’t much better.

Arcane Mage

Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. That’s what became of the Arcane Mage. In Cataclysm, there was a nice elegance to the Arcane Mage where the rotation was pretty simple, focused and what I think more classes should eventually move towards. Pretty much you spammed a single button and used a few cooldowns or filler spells to bring your mana back up. I think the fact that most people got bored supposedly just pushing their number 1 key is why the Arcane Mage got so much flack.

Considering the direction of where Blizzard has been taking these encounters, I’m wondering if the same people would continue to complain. The thing is that Blizzard, once again in their obsession for this idiotic notion of resource management in a fucking RPG, decided to add a little more complexity to the Arcane spec. So now Arcane forces you to do a little more than before.

But the real retardation part comes in with the idea of Rune of Power. Here’s where Mike Preach and I are completely on the same page. Rune of Power is completely retarded “talent.” It’s not even a talent per se, more like an insult to one’s sexual preference because this will make you believe that the world is gay for forcing you to take this idiotic talent (and I’m not really bashing gay people either; just mis-appropriating the terminology for my demonic schemes). The thing is that the fights force you move around a lot these days. So you’re constantly casting and re-casting this stupid ability. For say a Frost Mage, this isn’t too big of a deal because your mana doesn’t get depleted so badly by comparison.

Yet for an Arcane Mage I can see how this can be a ludicrous and completely unnecessary thing. Arcane Mages suffer intensely because of how mana dependent they are in order to do big damage. You get two mana regenerative abilities in the form of the aforementioned Rune of Power and your Mana Gem. Your Mana Gem will be on a cooldown while your Rune of Power is not but does require you to be positioned correctly as well as having an irritating cast time and positioning element.

Arcane Mages are best for immobile encounters because as people are describing it more or less turrets. Once an Arcane Mage is forced to move, they pretty much are fucked since their main spell, which is Arcane Blast, has a nasty casting time. I have read a few complaint threads about how a few encounters essentially screwed over Arcane Mages because of the way their abilities work.

With all that said, it seems that for the moment, you really are better off sticking with a Frost Mage all around. If you do want to switch, the main penalty is that you’ll have to reforge and gem your gear again. So you might as well just go with one spec.

I would talk about Fire Mages but like Arms warriors and Elemental Shamans, I just never had the chance to play one. The one thing I will say is that they seem to be lacking in the DPS charts. As Mike Preach mentioned that they are gear dependent and face RNG consequences as a result of the variability from critical hit chance, I really would advise avoiding them unless you just enjoy playing them.

As for rogues, shadow priests and monks, I’m going to skip them as I still have to finish level my remaining guys up. I have worked on my rogue just a little bit, focusing on Combat as my spec. Thus far, my only comment is that I really like playing rogues for leveling since they can avoid a lot of unnecessary encounters.  Stealth will always remain one of my all time favorite abilities and Vanish on Rogues are the ultimate get away move. Once I finish those two up (and maybe a monk some day), I hope to publish my remaining thoughts on those classes/specs.

 

Diablo 3: Nice MP5 Farming Route for Barbarians (Act 1)

I managed to upgrade my barbarian slightly recently, which is allowing me to handle Monster Power 5 Act 1 just fine. Stat-wise, he has (unbuffed) 38.8k health, 640 all resistances, 6.5k armor, 1.1k life on hit and is around 113k DPS. I use a Scoundrel as my companion for the increased critical hit chance. Unless I get supremely unlucky or play sloppy, I have very little problems staying alive for the most part.

Currently, the way I farm Act 1 involves areas which is well documented as mob dense zones. I start by hitting the Cemetery of the Foresaken and backtracking to The Weeping Hollow. Depending on your luck (or lack thereof), you can find anywhere between 2-4 elite packs and possibly a treasure goblin. It’s up to you whether or not you want to handle a treasure goblin prior to having 5 Nephlam Valor stacks but more than likely he’ll teleport out unless you have the damage output.

Once I clear most of The Weeping Hollow, I port over to the Festering Woods. Here, you can find anywhere between 3-5 more elites and/or an event as well as an occasional treasure goblin. If you can you should probably hit the two underground zones to get the guaranteed elite. By the time you finish, you should have your 5 Nephlam Valor stacks.

For the next part, head over to the Fields of Misery. With your 5 Nephlam Valor stacks you can hunt down the Keywarden. I tend to try and clear most of the zone. The dungeons are optional as I find the meat of the area to be above ground.

From here, you have the option to restart the game or do a Whimseyshire run. Why Whimseyshire? Outside of having several elites and champion packs, you also have the slim chance of finding a unique that may drop a Spectrum or Horaldric Hamburger. If those are well rolled, you can make a good hundred million gold or more depending on the damage output.

Regardless, this farming route focuses on a few goals. One is to kill numerous white mobs at a reasonable Monster Power and thereby receiving some decent experience for your paragon leveling. Next, you want to get your Nephlam Valor stacks to 5 for both Key farming, better drops and the experience boost. Next, as stated just before, you can farm for your Key (I’ve been lucky each time and it dropped every single time). Finally, beyond killing elites in the hope of finding legendaries, doing these runs on the higher Monster Power will, indeed, help boost the rate of finding legendaries not just on elites and champion packs, but on white mobs as well. On one run, I found three legendaries as well as the key.

Also, for a barbarian most of these mobs are pretty safe and easy. The biggest difficulties I’ve encountered thus far have been getting an unlucky mix of affixes on elites and champion packs that wiped me out. But the white mobs themselves are not dangerous for the most part and only if you play sloppy will you see any danger. I’m considering bumping up the Monster Power to see how I can fare at the next level. But so far this route has proven quite positive and yielding a few decent legendaries as well as boosting my experience fairly quickly.

World of Warcraft: Some Cheap Tricks to Get Easy Stuff at Level 90

I consider myself a casual and lazy player. But not lazy as in “I just want to sit on my ass and be handed stuff while sleeping and eating pizza simultaneously.” Lazy as in “I want to play smart with doing minimal effort but maximizing what I can do with my time.” Sometimes, I feel that just banging your head needlessly against a boss or situation is not good use of your time. The whole idea of this post is how to play “smart lazy.”

Easy Key to the Palace of Lei Shen

The treasure room is one of my favorite areas since patch 5.2. Free gold and items. But how can you get a quick key? By far the easiest way to obtain a key is to find a rare mob on the Isle of Thunder. And the two easiest rares to locate are Goda and Lu-Ban. Goda is a turtle sitting in its shell inside a tree hollow close to the entrance of the palace of Lei Shen while Lu-Ban is a mogu type of humanoid forging items near one of the daily quest mini bosses. Because of their spawn points, you pretty much can check one or the other with relative ease. If one isn’t up, you can hop on over to check if the other one is up. There might be a few other rares that are simple to find, but these are pretty accessible.

Usually, once I find a rare, I’ll announce it in chat to try to get others to lend me a hand. Since these mobs can be looted by both alliance and horde, both can participate without worry of faction tagging. If you run multiple alts like myself, you can even just camp them. In my case, for my alts that haven’t completed the scenarios that unlock the entrance to the island (because my alts might be a little weak), I’ll have them camp right on the rocks near Goda. Then throughout the day, I’ll check up on them. Sometimes a chest spawns inside of the little tree hollow, which can also contain a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen.

Pet Battles for Lesser Charms of Good Fortune

Do you hate dailies but can’t figure out an easy method for Lesser Charms of Good Fortune? Do you want to pass time quickly and yet accomplish something? Are you sitting in an 20+ minute queue just reading trade chat in the Shrines? Well, you’re the primary target for Pet Battles!

Pet Battles have a chance to grant your level 90 Lesser Charms of Good Fortune, which these days can be pretty tedious to come by. If you’ve pretty much become sick of dailies and want a stress free method for getting these Charms, then Pet Battles are one of the easiest and fun ways to obtain them. The great thing about Pet Battles is that you can level up tons of pets, find new pets, especially rares and do it all over again. It might sound grindy, but it’s pretty easy.

For myself, I like building up a variety of pets so that I can plan to eventually handle most pet encounters. One of the better resources, I’ve found on the subject is from warcraftpets. Probably, the most handy resource from the site is their cheat sheet when it comes to the advantages/disadvantages of pets.

By having a variety of pets handy, you can ensure that you will have a constant stream of lesser tokens available as well as some other activity outside of grinding dailies. Also, try aiming for collecting rares while you’re at this. The idea again is a low stress activity to get a few low hanging fruit type of items while you’re waiting for something else.

Dailies for Easy Gold, Valor and Lesser Charms of Good Fortune

If you aren’t too burnt out from dailies, then they are probably the best method for earning gold in the game. Even if you have maximized your reputation, you can look at dailies as ways to earn gold, valor points and lesser charms. In the case of the Sunreavers, Golden Lotus and Tillers, you can get a few more rewards from completing your dailies. The trick is determining which dailies to do and which ones to avoid.

For instance, there’s a Tillers daily that requires you to speak with four people in town which takes approximately a minute. At most, you’ll have to burn 2 gold in return for roughly 18 gold (after the transaction). How much easier can that get? Imagine if you have 10-11 level 90 alts all parked at the farm. That’s a little over 180 gold just for talking to people for roughly 10 minutes!

The main thing for me is focusing on easy daily hubs that take little time but give a decent amount of rewards for your effort. The ones that fit this criteria are the Tillers (most of them), August Celestials (especially the ones at the Jade Temple and the Temple of the White Tiger), the Anglers and the Order of the Cloud Serpent. I find that you can do each of these hubs in roughly 10-20 minutes max. The others like the Golden Lotus, Klaxxi, Shado-Pan, Isle of Thunder and Dominance Offensive really depend on what the quest of the day is. Isle of Thunder, in my opinion, is mostly a waste of time because the work-to-reward ratio is horrible. Half of the Golden Lotus dailies are pretty much garbage and wastes of time. The first part is worth doing but the follow ups can either be frustratingly bad (like the little village) or pretty easy (such as the lake). Dominance Offensive are 75% decent and only the cave is practically useless. Finally, the Shado Pan is at most worthless except maybe 1 or 2. But most are pretty bad and a horrible waste of time.

That said, you still can earn around 800-1000+ gold/day for maximizing all of this. But if you have a good route that eliminates the time wasting ones, you probably can still get anywhere between 400-500 gold/day for an hour or two worth’s of work (with the most time consuming issue being the flight travel). That’s not that bad, especially if you’re having gold issues. And this is all guaranteed gold beyond the Charms and Valor rewards.

Maximizing Your Farm

I’m on my 8th alt with a maxed out farm. If I manage to gear up my guys and have more time, I would probably spend most of my time focused on the farm and maybe some dailies for gold. But once you have maxed out your farm on several level 90 toons, you can easily become an industrial powerhouse. Some things you can do are:

  • Planting all herb farms and focusing on obtaining golden lotus. I haven’t really checked golden lotus cost on the AH, but I found that even with one toon dedicating their farm to herbs, I’ll get around 5-6 golden lotus. So imagine having 8-10 toons just with all herbs. You can then do things like focusing on transmutation for all your green gems then selling that on the AH. Or even just selling the Golden Lotus on your AH straight out. But I wouldn’t use the herbs for inscription. If you have a druid, you’re far better off just running around the Jade Forest and Valley of the Four Winds finding herbs.
  • Planting all enchanting materials. This would probably be my #1 focus down the road. If you have an enchanter with the weapons and bracer enchants, you will realize just how much money you can make selling those on the AH. The problem is that coming up with enough materials (most notably Sha Crystals) can be a very difficult task. So the only way to compensate is through dedicating as much materials to hand off to your enchanter so that they can upgrade the materials back into Sha Crystals. If you have a lot of toons, you should be able to get enough materials for this purpose.
  • Planting all leather crafting materials. I really wouldn’t go this far. You really just need one dedicated resource if you have a leatherworker and you no longer are killing mobs and skinning them. Generally, I find that one farm provides enough materials to allow my leatherworker to do his daily. My suggestion as a strategy for a leatherworker is to focus on Spirits of Harmony and having a separate toon be dedicated for a leather crafting materials farm. That way, you can craft epics then sell them on the AH.
  • Planting ore crafting materials. This is something I wouldn’t do and I think it’s a complete waste of a farm. Valley of the Four Winds and Townlong Steppes provide a lot of mining spots. If you do have a blacksmith, you’re better off setting him up with Spirits of Harmony and mining.
  • Planting Windwool. I think just one farm is more than enough. You won’t need Spirits of Harmony for the most part since Imperial Silk is sufficient. You mostly just want to have enough materials to craft your daily. So this isn’t a good one to mass produce.
  • Banquet materials. This would be great for leveling up your cooking but beyond that, your only bet is to sell off excess materials on the AH. But I feel you’re far better off using your farm once your cooking is maxed out for other crafting materials.

My overall ideas here are to maximize on your toons proficiencies and future profits by getting enough materials to craft and produce anything you want. From there you can try selling the materials and/or crafted goods for a nice chunk of change.

Easy(ier) Sha Crystals

If you do not have the luxury of numerous alts who have maxed out farms and can help dedicate enchanting materials to your enchanter, then you can still obtain Sha Crystals through running older LFRs. Let’s say you have a fairly geared up toon with enchanting and you’re trying to get more gear from Throne of Thunder. Doing older LFRs will allow you to get more Valor Points, some gold and potentially help garner you epics. Now, although I do think that the drop rates get reduced for people who have decent gear, you still have the possibility of using Elder Charms of Good Fortune. So that makes getting the Key to the Palace of Lei Shen still relevant. From there, you can just reroll on each boss and use the epic you find for Sha Crystals.

At any rate, you might be asking yourself, “Hey none of this sounds particularly easy!” Yes, it does involve some degree of labor and time. But you can’t just sit around Orgrimmar waiting for things to drop in your lap. The vast majority of things that I’m proposing here is how to streamline your game play a little easier and hopefully drop some hints on ways to get items in a guaranteed manner once you hit 90 and possibly have numerous alts. BTW the pay off ultimately is pretty big so give it a shot.

Diablo 3: Itemization Design Ideas

There was some talks on the Itemization patch (aka Loot 2.0) with a nice summary on the Diablo Fans page. The three big ideas are 1) making legendaries have unique properties; 2) making items upgradable (and thereby non-tradeable); and 3) more attention to less used class talents/skills. While the last part is yet to be seen, the other two items are more relevant since the current legendary and set items are pretty specific with regards to which are heavily sought after.

That said, for the relevance of this blog posting, I want to delve into some design ideas when it comes to itemization. First, I want to discuss the upgrade idea. Right now, the reference to upgrade is pretty obscure outside of the fact that it will happen. The question becomes the implementation. In World of Warcraft, there are two methods for upgrading and changing items: 1) using Justice or Valor Points for 8 ilvl upgrades; 2) reforging stats. In the current format, only certain stats are currently worth anything, namely all resistances, critical hit, critical damage, attack speed, physical resistance and armor. These stats are outside of the four main stats. A few other stats like gold pick up radius can be useful but at times is relegated to being class specific (like in the case of certain witch doctor builds) or specific elemental resistance, which mostly is for One With Everything passive monks. The remaining stats for the most part are useless unless it involves a resource reduction or additive bonus for a class skill.

Currently, the issue about items is that the vast majority of items dropped are useless, having so many random stats that most people end up selling them off, converting them to materials or not even bothering to pick them up. While the crafted gear did help provide a way for people to obtain better gear, you still had to farm the materials and spend quite a bit of gold before you could craft a decent piece with ideal stats. The only thing guaranteed though was just one main stat. The rest was simply a gamble.

My idea for upgradeable item is to reduce the gambling factor and make items more reliable in terms of what ideal stats you can place on something. Part of the idea comes from the notion of reforging from World of Warcraft, where you can move certain stats to another stat. In the case of reforging from World of Warcraft, reforging involves partially moving a stat over rather than completely removing the other stat. The thing with Diablo though is that I suspect there is a limitation on the number of stats that you can have on an item. So the problem about using the World of Warcraft method is that you would end up not having enough room to convert over useful stats.

One idea to handle this is to make a full conversion of a stat more costly somehow. The cost could be gold, materials or even finding a rare recipe. Either way, it would penalize someone for doing a full conversion of a single stat. Perhaps the sacrifice could be a brimstone or several brimstones for instance as obtaining them can be difficult (you can buy them on the AH or purchase legendaries on the AH but it still will cost a great deal of gold and doing this might pump up the cost of brimstones on the AH). Either way, doing a partial conversion might cost a lot less comparatively, requiring less materials or maybe no special book to learn.

The other idea I have for making items more useful is doing a stat upgrade using materials from a similar item with the stat you want. Say for instance you have bracers with all resistance of 50 on them. You want to pump up that value so what you need to do is find other bracers with all resistance. If you manage to find another all resistance bracers, you can then perhaps swap the stats (say the new bracers had 80) or take a percentage of those stats and convert them over. So maybe every 5 or 10 levels provides 1 point in the conversion process. If you want to increase the challenge aspect of this, you can make it so that you are required to find recipes for the specific stat and item type in order to make the conversion work.

Still the problem about item upgrades is that you still have certain ideal stats, potentially making a lot of rares useless. And since only a few builds are feasible or worth anything, you’re relegated to just focusing on damage, survivability and critical hits to make your abilities work. This is where the talent/skill redesign is imperative but at the same time it must work hand-in-hand with a re-thought out item stat system. While the example of “Call of the Ancients” lasting forever sounds appealing as an ability exclusive to a legendary, it does little to address useless stats like item invulnerability, the various resistances, thorns, etc.

To me you can still have those types of stats on items but they must work closer with a class’ abilities. For instance, let’s say you’re a tank and your function is to absorb damage. My inclination is to make thorns more appealing to a tank by creating a massive AoE effect that increases dramatically in damage. Perhaps, thorns amplifies certain auras like Storm Armor. Or other stuff can do more to reduce cooldowns like Rain of Vengeance or resource generation.

My main emphasis is in defining playstyles and specific build types rather than attempting to focus on single skills/talents and stats. Like having a bowling ball Demon Hunter, Hulk-like Perma-smashing Barbarian, auto army creating Witch Doctors, etc.