Wrath of the Lich King in review: Part 1

•May 28, 2010 • 1 Comment

As this expansion begins to wind down, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I liked and disliked about it. There’s a lot to talk about: from general thoughts, zones, quests, and raids to mechanics, items, and of course the evolution of the hunter. I’ll likely have to break this down into parts, but I’ll start with one of the main things I think Blizzard got right.

First, let me say that WotLK was miles and miles better than TBC. And the most important thing that made it better was this:

Story.

WotLK has a story that weaves through it’s starter zones all the way through it’s final boss: The Lich King. From the moment players step foot on Northrend, we feel the taint of Arthas’ madness. We confront his corruption throughout our leveling process; we battle his minions for the majority of the expansion. Sure, the story detours and weaves now and again into other stories like Malygos, or the power struggle within the Horde (sorry, I’m horde and I’m biased) or the tale of the Titans and Ulduar (which is in itself another fantastic story based in part on Norse mythology), but for the most part we are locked in constant struggle with one main villain and his machinations.

Unlike TBC, where really, we just leveled and fought bosses for …well, the hell of it as far as I can tell. Why exactly did we go to the Outlands again? Someone remind me why the naga are pumping the water out of Zangarmarsh and why I care. Refresh my memory on why Illidan had to die (other than simply being a raid boss and having fat loots): as far as I can remember, he was just chilling in the Black Temple and not really threatening all life as we know it.

Don’t misunderstand, there were parts of the TBC I liked (and some I didn’t obviously) but looking back, it just feels like it was a grind. To me it had almost no cohesive story. There was no submersion in the events surrounding me. It was hard to suspend my disbelief.

With WotLK, it feels like I am inside a fantasy book (yes, I am a nerd. I am comfortable enough with who I am to admit it) and my actions directly affect the world around me. I often tell my non-WoW playing friends that’s what keeps me coming back: It’s like being inside a good fantasy book. It also probably doesn’t hurt that Arthas reminds me a bit of Darth Vader and come on, who doesn’t like (original non special edition bullshit) Darth Vader?!?

The story is also one I’ve been searching for in my reading for awhile now. As I told my guild mates, I enjoy the Hero’s Journey archetype as much as anyone else, but I also tend to have well… a darker side. For some time, I’d been looking for a book where instead of the young farm boy learning from the old wizard, then saving the world and getting the girl all while whining about how hard it is being the “Chosen One,” the farm boy learns all he can from said wizard then blows him to bits, creates a rampaging army, enslaves the world AND gets the girl whether she likes it or not.

You know, just as a change of pace from seemingly every fantasy book ever published.

Arthas’ story is kind of that story. And it’s pretty well done. It’s kept me entertained for the last two years (yea, yea: along with actually playing the game!)

A good story goes a loooong way for me. I think Blizzard did a fantastic job with the main storyline for this expansion. I hope they can continue this trend for some time to come!

Taz’Dingo!

- Lash

I ain’t dead, yet.

•May 17, 2010 • 10 Comments

I’ve been neglecting my little corner here. I’m ashamed.

Between researching heroic ICC strats, learning new heroic ICC fights, and wiping on new ICC heroic fights over the last few weeks, I just haven’t had too much to share here. I’m sure no one who reads me (someone does read this occasionally right?) really wants to hear me bitch about how bad H Lady Deathwhisper sucks. Vengeful Shades are bad, mmmkay.

I’ve also been trying to juggle what passes for my personal life. I think I’ve been stretching myself a little thin: learning some new software, experimenting with some things…blah, blah, blah. Suffice it to say, I’ve been trying to keep busy.

I have not intentionally been ignoring things here, I’ve just found a few other things taking up my time. I hope to brush away the dust here and get back to more frequent posting.

In the meantime, I recommend all hunters read this excellent post from Rilgon. It may be second nature to some hunters, but it’s a great way to introduce newer or less experienced hunters to some of our thought processes for squeezing out DPS on bosses.

And, finally, I thought I’d share one of the projects that’s been keeping me busy:

SUNFLOWER

Some of the elements incorporate the Fibonacci Sequence and I listened to Tool’s Lateralus while working on it. A lot. A whole lot. Final dimensions ended up being 4ft x 4ft on canvas, mounted on wood frame.

Taz’Dingo!

- Lash

Monday Randomness

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I haven’t really had much on my mind. We’re still chipping away at hard modes (both 10 and 25) and I’ve just been trying to keep up.

I did get my 2nd hunter, Lashaar, to 80 sometime in the last couple of weeks and have been jumping into some alt friendly raids. At first, I tried out a survival spec but between being way out of practice, not finding a keybind setup that worked for me, and just plain ol laziness, I went and spec’d him marks. Then I imported all of my troll’s keybinds. And his powerauras sets. And his macros. And his bartender, azcastbar, msbt, and dbm profiles. Ok, so I basically just imported my troll’s complete UI. See, laziness is easy.

And believe me, I’ve gotten strange looks and comments from guildies. They just can’t seem to understand why I wanna play 2 of the bestest class in WoW. Or that not only would I give them similar names, but that I’d also name their pets the same. It makes it easier to write macros!

I wonder what they’d say if they knew I was thinking of race changing him to another sexy troll? ;)

Now it’s like I just get to play the same toon twice as much! I don’t have the gear (yet!) to pull off an effective marks spec, but I’ve been holding my own. I think.

And speaking of gearing, put your tinfoil hats on. I’ve decided that Blizzard is prejudiced against the most awesome of ranged weapons – bows. In all the heroics that are designed to gear up new players for raiding the last 2 tiers of content (mainly Trial of the Champion, Forge Of Souls, Pit of Saron or Halls of Reflection – which all also refuse to drop decent melee stat sticks for me too by the way), only one drops an “epic” bow. And 2 drop guns! Guns are for smelly and vertically challenged dorfs.

Now, unlike some hunters, I won’t be hypocritical (or demeaning) and refuse to use the best ranged weapon available to me all while extolling the min/max philosophy. I won’t do it. So while I love me some bows, for now I’m stuck with a gun. Too bad tank guns are so expensive at my Auction House.

Ah, enough rambling.

Happy Monday!

Taz’Dingo!

and

Lok’tar Ogar!

- Lash

Developer Chat

•April 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

Friday’s Developer chat didn’t have much hunter specific news:

Q. Will there be any new pet families added, or will we simply see more additions to existing ones?
A. We’re not sure yet whether we’re adding new pet families or not. It’s possible. Expect to see some monkeys, foxes and other new pet possibilities though!

Q: Does the Marksman mastery (Double Shot) work like the Wild Quiver talent (provide a free autoshot) or like the Lightning Overload talent (a free whatever spell you just cast)? In other words, can Double Shot fire a second Chimera Shot?
A: Double Shot is a half-strength autoshot. Wild Quiver will increase the damage of the autoshot to 60-70% (or something similar). Lightning Overload (the talent) will likewise increase the magnitude of the Elemental Overload mechanic.

Meh, I had figured that double shot was just based on autoshot and was similar to Wild Quiver. No way they’d let us do something cool like chain together kill shot (man, that woulda been fun: Kill Shot > Readiness > Kill Shot > (Double Shot) Kill Shot). Just as well, we’d likely not have the focus to pull it off anyway ;)

On a non hunting note, I’d like to take a moment to show my support for those druids unhappy with the announced change to Tree of Life.

I’ve stated before that I am a big fan of druids and am constantly amazed at seeing what a well played druid can do. I may not fully understand the class, but having a “shapeshift” ability (which is a pretty core mechanic of the class) become a cooldown makes absolutely no sense to me. I mean if bear, cat, and chicken aren’t “cooldowns”, why would tree be? Don’t get me wrong, I read Blizzard’s justification that they felt it was unfair to trees to give up utility in order to heal well, but, in my opinion, that argument just doesn’t hold much water. I mean a bear or cat gives up utility to be a bear (he can’t cast spells without shifting, right?) Forgive me if my analogies are unsound, and druids correct me if I’m wrong, like I said, my knowledge of what you all can and cannot do is pretty limited. The whole change to the tree mechanic just sounds so weird to me though. For those opposed to the change, this is one hunter who’s got yer back, mon!

Taz’Dingo!

- Lash

The times they are a-changin’

•April 9, 2010 • 2 Comments

Here it is, the preview of the “Cataclysmic” hunter changes.

New Hunter Abilities

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

Uh, don’t we already have multiple shots that deal damage other than physical? Grats Beast Master Hunters…I guess.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

How do we decide which trap gets placed on the “launcher?” I guess we’ll get a “totem-style” bar to manage along with the our pet bar we already have to manage? Great more buttons!

Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

“It is *not* stealth. Your enemies will never wonder where you are. We’re trying to use the new Cataclysm water effect to put a shimmering PREDATORy visual on you. It’s protection from ranged attacks and it gives you some combat bonuses, but it’s not like Shadowmeld or rogue / druid stealth where players can’t find you.

As most of you know, we tried Camo once before, but because it was true stealth it was very hard to balance, plus it felt like we were just handing out the same cool abilities to every class instead of coming with unique mechanics. Hunters were so overwhelmingly excited about the basic idea that we wanted to try it again, but not as stealth.” – Ghostcrawler

Are you fucking kidding me? How many bosses in the game are they planning on having shoot arrows / toss throwing stars at us? I guess if you are mainly a PVP hunter you don’t have to worry about warriors or rogues killing you from range anymore…oh wait. If, in PVE, it can be used in combat, another button. Great! Seriously, what the fuck kind of ability is this?

Resource Mechanic Change

Here we come to the meat of the upcoming hunter changes.

Hunters will no longer use mana; instead the class will use Focus. Focus generates much like Energy, by building up. It will not be affected by Intellect at all. Haste will improve its generation. Hunters will generate roughly 6 Focus per second, slightly less than rogues’ Energy generation rate of around 10 Energy per second. Below, we have listed some examples of how we intend Focus costs to operate:


Steady Shot/Cobra Shot: No cost. Generates 9 Focus per shot (or 12 per second instead of 6).
Arcane Shot/Chimera Shot /Explosive Shot: 45 Focus.
Aimed Shot/Multi-Shot: 60 Focus.
Concussive Shot/Tranquilizing Shot: 35 Focus.
Rapid Fire/Master’s Call/Disengage: 30 Focus.

So now I’m a ranged rogue with no combo points and no finishers? Why the hell does Master’s Call and Disengage even have focus costs? Sorry PVP hunter’s, looks like if you choose to actually, ya know, deal damage and someone gets in your deadzone your only choice now is to basically run like a little girl while you wait for focus to regen. Good Luck!

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the resource change and new abilities listed above, we intend to make adjustments to some of the other abilities and mechanics you already know well. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we’re going for with each spec.

A major change coming for the hunter is the removal of ammunition. Guns, bows, and crossbows will now do damage without consuming ammunition at all. There will be no more ammo slot on the hunter’s character display. Any ammunition that a hunter has at the time of the change will become gray sellable items. Existing quivers will be converted into large bags — though each hunter can only have one and non-hunters will not benefit from this change — and we will not be making any additional quivers.

I’ll never bitch about not having to spend gold to DPS. Seriously though, in the year or so since it was announced that ammo was going away this is the best you could come up with? If all you’re doing is making sure that ranged weapons will have what used to be “ammo-damage” baked in, why couldn’t you have already done this? Guess I can be happy I don’t have to collect different ammos like some other silly hunters have suggested.

Pet management will also change. Hunters will now have two types of attainable pets: active pets and stored pets. Hunters will be able to have up to three active pets (perhaps five for Beast Mastery specialized players) and will have the ability to switch among these pets any time they are out of combat, without going to town. They will also be able to have a large number of pets in storage at the stables. In order to swap a pet from active to passive, a hunter will still need to visit their local Stable Master. However, this should afford ample storage for the many Spirit Beasts wandering the lands of Azeroth.

Wait, don’t I already have access to all the pets currently in my stable while out of combat and without having to visit a town in the form of Call Stabled Pet? Is this a fancy way of saying that we’ll get even more stable slots? Bet it will still cost gold to get ‘em though huh?

Additionally, hunters will now start with a race-appropriate pet at level 1 and will be able to tame a different pet at level 10. We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below

Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).

Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy’s Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability Blood Frenzy).

Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).

Awesome news for level 1 hunters, really. Pretty neat niche for pets to be more than just an extension of a hunter’s dps as well. Which pet will give the weaker version of Bloodlust / Heroism?

Stings and other periodic effects will now benefit from haste and critical strike ratings. Hasted damage-over-time abilities do not lose duration, but instead add additional damage ticks.

Finally! Thank fucking Christ.

Viper Sting will now restore 9 Focus every 3 seconds.

What about Aspect of the Viper?

We are reinforcing hunters as a ranged class. To this end, the class will now start with ranged abilities at level 1, and we will be removing some melee abilities, such as Mongoose Bite.

Neat coupled with the level 1 pets I guess, even though we already start out with a ranged ability…the ability to auto shoot a fucking bow.

New Talents and Talent Changes

Beast Mastery hunters will have a new talent called Careful Aim, which increases the damage of the next Steady Shot or Cobra Shot, but also increases the cast time of these abilities. The intention is to make the combination of spells into a decent damage opener, especially in conjunction with the new ability Camouflage.

Beast Mastery hunters will also have talents that make Cobra Shot superior to Steady Shot, such as Longevity reducing the cast time of Cobra Shot to 1.5 seconds.

Rapid Recuperation will cause Rapid Fire to give 20/40/60 Focus immediately and will cause Rapid Killing to generate 3 Focus per second.

Efficiency will reduce the Focus cost of Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot.

Thrill of the Hunt grants Focus when you land a critical strike.

Hunter vs. Wild increases the hunter’s Focus generation when his or her pet is snared, stunned, or rooted.

Only time will tell, I guess, how these changes will affect what I think is a lackluster (so far) resource system. Never in a million years did I think I’d be sad to see hunter mana disappear, but so far I am not thrilled about “focus.”

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Beast Mastery
Ranged Damage
Haste
Pet Damage

Marksmanship
Ranged Damage
Armor Penetration
Double Shot

Survival
Ranged Damage
Ranged Critical Damage
Elemental Damage

Pet Damage: Many of the passive benefits to pet damage will no longer be available in the Beast Mastery talent tree. However, these will be provided through the new Mastery mechanic.

Double Shot: The hunter will have a chance to launch a free attack off of the global cooldown for 50% damage.

Elemental Damage: Hunter abilities such as traps, Black Arrow, and Explosive Shot will do elemental damage of the following types: Improves the Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature or Shadow damage of abilities like traps, Black Arrow and Explosive Shot.

Oh neat, they basically are regurgitating the same philosophies we already have. A beastmaster has increased pet damage? No. Fucking. Way. A marksman gets a double shot? Hmm, get the fuck out! Survival hunters..well you’re on your own as a hunter-mage with no mana I guess!

Look, I know it’s just a preview and we’ll only be able to gauge the impact these changes will have on hunters once we get to test them out. But, a few gems aside, these are pretty lackluster. Nothing innovative and some shit that’s been dangled before us before.

I’m not scared of change, really I’m not. And some people think that changes (for better or worse) keep the game “fresh”, and I am ok with learning new things – I’ve had to adjust my thinking with the release of the last 2 expansions. I’m not going to whine and say the sky is falling. I’ll most likely buy the expansion and continue to play a hunter. I’ll give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt because, lets face it they’ve made a pretty fantastic game so far. But, I am not looking forward to relearning the class from scratch. And thats what a lot of this is.

Along with a good deal of fluff, in my opinion.

Taz’dingo!

- Lash

Of bows and bank space

•April 2, 2010 • 7 Comments

I am a bit of a pack rat. I also have a fairly obsessive compulsive personality. I tend to spend a fair amount of time organizing…well, to be honest, junk.

In WoW, this means that I stare at my bags and bank way more than I should. I sit in Dalaran sometimes and constantly move things around in my inventory; making sure all my tabards are in one bag, all my seasonal crap (winter clothes, fire festival garb, lovely dresses, tuxedos, etc) are in another. I still have my entire set of Arena Season One Hunter Gear because I think it’s the coolest looking set ever. I still have my full Gronstalker set and various matching offset pieces because it was the first set of hunter armor that I completed. I have things like Grasscutter (which I never even enchanted or equipped) because I am simply fascinated by it’s legend and the story in the Usagi Yojimbo comics that are inspired by and share a name with it.

Of all the things that I’ve collected during my time in Azeroth nothing is more important to me than my collection of ranged weapons. It’s not a large collection by any means but each one has a special place in my most trollish of hearts. To be honest, I’ve never even shot some of them; I either acquired them after I had something better or I saved them from a shard (or a Rogue!) to at least commemorate the victory through which they were obtained. I’ve parted ways with some over the years (I needed the bank space and they were my least favorites, and by this I mean guns!) but the ones I’ve kept, I plan to keep until my adventures are done.

These are my favorite ranged weapons I still have in order of their importance to me:

1. Master Hunter’s Bow – The most important bow in my collection. I remember questing through Stanglethorn on my hunter alone as all the friends I started playing with on Draenor had moved on. I love Stranglethorn, although I know most hate it. It is the ancestral home of trolls (even if most have gone bad and are slaughtered in mass numbers these days, mon) and the jungles are where we belong. I solo’d all the Nesingwary quests up until Big Game Hunter which I banged away at solo with no success for what seemed like an eternity one day. As I was about to give up, a 60 troll hunter named Foz happened upon me and asked if I needed to kill Bangalesh before he tamed him. In short order, I had my new shiny bow and that Hunter gained a lifetime of respect for helping out a fellow troll. I even named my baby troll shaman after him in honor.

2. Bristleblitz Striker – The first bow I got after transferring to Llane and joining Monolith. It dropped on our very first Archimonde kill and I was honored that it was awarded to me (maybe Beru and Brade just took pity on me because I was still using Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix deeeeep into T6 content.) In my opinion, it’s still the 2nd best looking bow in the game.

3. Mandokir’s StingTHE BEST LOOKING BOW in the game in my opinion. Very trollish. Very Sexy, mon. Even if I had to slaughter thousands of my brethren to get my hands on it.

4. Frenzystrike Longbow – Another great looking bow, this one is important to me because it dropped on our very first completion of Trial of the Grand Crusader 10. Which meant I could ditch that ugly ass crossbow from Jaraxxus. To my knowledge, I am the only horde hunter on Llane to have this bow. (Yes, I looked!)

I have others  [Rhok'delar (obtained at 80 for the sheer reason that I just wanted it), Arrowsong (the first bow I got in WotLK after using a few guns, yuck!), Siren's Cry, Skyforge Crossbow (crossbow, ewww!)] wasting away in my bank, but those four were, and still are, very important to me. I think they will all be on my person (in a bag I carry around at least) when the time comes when I no longer want to shoot arrows at Azeroth’s most vile villains.

Now I just have to convince Beru she still needs the Sunwell Achievement so I have a chance to get my hands on Thori’dal!

How ’bout you guys? Are you pack rats? Are there things you just can’t bear to part with?

Taz’Dingo!

- Lash

No King Rules Forever, Mon

•March 29, 2010 • 5 Comments

After a lot of attempts over the past few weeks (and I do mean a lot, mon), and a poorly implemented (at least in my opinion) and unannounced change last week, The Lich King finally fell to Monolith last night.

We’ve “beaten” this expansion.

Yes, we still have hard modes to work on, but when such an iconic villain as The Lich King, even normal mode, falls beneath the combined might of your steel and magic, you feel a sense of closure. And make no mistake, Arthas is one of the most iconic and best villains in Warcraft lore. More so than Ragnaros, any dragon (even Deathwing!), old god, or even Illidan.

At least to me.

He is like the Darth Vader of Warcraft lore, a young and promising lad with the power and drive to do anything to save those he loves and who goes to far. He just can’t overcome the darkness within him and finally succumbs to it. I’m a sucker for good guy gone bad stories.

Good luck to all still working on him. It truly is the most epic fight in the game to date.

Taz’Dingo!

- Lash

 
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