A Brave New World.

Violet Hold, Dalaran's very own instance.

That’s right folks.  The time’s are a changin’.  And I’m ready to branch off into my second category- Master of Heroics.  Yes, the implications are shocking.  I’m not just talking about stuff now.  I’m running instances.  It’s pretty insane.  Although I’ve been sort of semi-farming heroics, today is the first day I’ve really put some time into it.  So, I’m taking a break from the dungeons to share my experiences so far.

Firstly, I’m not done with the Fresh 80 posts.  Although I’m ready to move on, I realize my posts there have been less than regular, and I’m not done walking you through all the basics.  I’ll still post there.  But the level at which I’m currently at in my PvE career is heroics,  so  I’m going to open up the next category about that.

So, to go over some of the beautiful events of the day thus far in a nutshell- I’m slowly starting to suck less.

I know, it’s a crazy statement.

The first heroic of the day, I nearly got kicked out of due to being the “drood with 900 dps lol”.  Yes, I am so amazing, that I nearly got kicked out of a random dunegon group.  I am just that awesome.  But, after wipping a couple times (NOT because of me, more on that in a latter post), I managed to get through it, and net some Emblems of Triumph AND frost.  Pretty sweet.  From there, it only got easier.

By the second heroic I was getting my feet under me, and managed an epic 1100 dps.  In PvP gear.  I was pretty proud of myself.  1100 damage every SECOND!  That’s incredible (not really, but just go with it)!  And although I was still doing pretty aweful, that time no one commented on my mad skillz.

The day has been going like that since.  I’m slowly using more mouse commands and less keyboard clicking/turning, which I’m sure is helping.  But, most importantly, I’m getting used to my class/spec.  The mamoth of complexity that is feral dps is slowly begining to make sense.  And that excites me immensly.  So far, I’m coming out at a steady 1600 dps, which I’m sure will improve as the day goes on.  Plus, I’m sporting my first piece of T9 gear, which should help too.

The really exciting thing is that it’s actually going okay.  I should be runing about in 232 gear in a couple weeks, and from there it’s 245, then some raids and… T10!  I’m pumped!

At any rate, I’m off to go annihilate some more heroic bosses.  I’ll drop another update later today on the results of my first day of heroic farming.  Happy pwning!

The Need of Addons (User Interface Part 2).

To pick up where I left off yesterday- there’s a debate that has been buzzing around the WoW blog-o-sphere for some time now.  Whether or not it’s essential to raid, or even to play, with addons tacked on to your UI.  Brigwyn, of the Hunting Lodge, thinks that it would be better if we all played the game ‘as it was intended’, whereas many other bloggers and WoW players feel that it was intended to be played with addons, since Blizzard allowed them.

So where do I stand?  I love addons, and I’ll always use them.  But that doesn’t mean have to.  Some mods like  Deadly Boss Mods, make things considerably easier in dungeons and raids, and if you don’t like the default UI, addons could be a good option for you.  But I don’t think anyone should be pressured into using addons because it will “make them better players”.  That’s a load of crap.  Being a better players will make you a better players, addons have nothing to do with it.

Sure, there are classes out there that benifit from a custom UI.  Feral druids being a great example.  It’s tough to raid with the default UI when you have so much to keep an eye on.  Does that mean it’s impossible?  Of course not.  People can raid with default UIs and still do more damage then raiders who pimp their UI to the max.  It’s a game of skill, not of robots telling you what to do.

But, on the same hand, if you like addons, why not use them?  I play with them, and I think I’d go a  little bit crazy without it.  More than a little, in fact.  But, addons are tools.  Never consider them something more than that.  They might help your game, and they might not.  But the thing that’s going to make the biggest difference- is you.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Look at User Interface.

A custom UI from Flairn's past.

I  love User Interface addons  (or UI mods, for short).  I always have, and from the very begining, tweaking my interface to suit my needs has been a fun part of WoW for me.  Above, you can see the interface I used to run with.  This is a shot from my very first raid (I ran Naxx 10 once, and Naxx 25 once with my guild- the extent of our PvE, a few months ago in the fall).

You can see my UI which looks nothing like the default one.  I was actually a big fan of this UI, largely because I made it my self- it’s 100% original (I didn’t write the addons, mind you, but the design was mine).  That UI is the product of a couple weeks work, tweaking this, adding that.  It was a lot of fun to play on.  Of course patch 3.3 dropped while I was away from WoW, and on my return they were all outdated, and I had to reset my UI.  I haven’t had it in me to re-do the old one, for several reasons.

First, the UI was very clunky.  It didn’t fill my whole screen, but the lower half was dominated by it.  Also, it wasn’t tailored to my spec at all.  The HUD (heads up display, the bars in the middle) was perhaps the only thing that really pertained to feral dps (which I knew nothing about, at the time).  Also, it lagged me out a lot.   I run WoW on a laptop (which isn’t the best  idea, I know) with a built-in chip set for graphics.  I just couldn’t handle big 25 man raids, with spells flying everywhere, and a gigantic number of addons running in the background.

So, I’ve tried to make my current UI as light as possible.  I’m using the default frames, just moved with Move Anything, and I’m running a few feral addons:  Feral By Night (which isn’t working for me, oddly, I’m still tinkering), Bad Kitty, and Grid for my raid frames.  It makes WoW a lot smoother and less laggy.

Now, if you understand what I’m talking about, good.  If not, don’t worry.  I haven’t forgotten the ponit of this blog.  I want to teach you the basics.  Now, I don’t have the time here to explain everything about User Interfaces here.  But No Stock UI is a great ressource.  I love it, and for all your addon needs, hit it up.  I’ve been meaning to do a guest author bit about addons 101 for Matticus down there (*ahem* three months overdue *coughs* still working on it *sneeze*).  But, for UI in a nut shell- here it is.

The default blizzard UI, (that is the way the screen looks when you play with no addons) is not the limit of the appearance of WoW to you, the player.  You can customize it with addons called… addons.  They do everything you can possibly imagine, from changing the font of your chatbox, to moving player and target frames, to creating frames  that weren’t even there originally.  You can check gearscores, track cooldowns, and assign keybindings with the greatest of ease (sometimes- other times it’s a royal pain).  If you’re interested, go to wow.curse.com and donwload addons.  There are other sites (WoWInterface, being another excellent one), but you can get pretty much anything you need from curse, in my experience.

Now, like I said, I don’t have time to explain everything UI here, but check  out the official blizzard forum dedicated to the topic, or just hang around sites like No  Stock  UI.  The real purpose of this post is to adress a growing topic in the WoW community, whether or not you NEED addons to play WoW.  Now, this post has gone too long as is, so I’ll cut it here, and finish up with a part two (sometime, probably later tonight).  For the time being, enjoy shifting through my rambling, and happy UI-ing!

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Basics- A look at rotations.

So, as promised, I’m going to begin taking all your new 80s out there through some of the basics.  If you’ve done any dungeons, or groups quests while you were leveling (which is likely, especially with the advent of the dungeon finder), you probably  know a little about rotations.  Simply put, for pretty much all roles (with the possible exception of  healers) rotations are pretty important.  They’re the order in which you use moves to maximize your dps.

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on every class.  If you want specifics on a rotation right for you, hit up places like WoW.com or ElitistJerks.  They’re great resources for class-specifics, if you want to learn more.  But, basically, you want to use all your abilities in the most efficient way.  Whether that means clicking the pretty lit up buttons (I’m looking at you, Ret paladins), or going through a cycle of DoTs (locks, big and small, especially affliction ones) it  really varies depending on your class and spec.  Even tanks have rotations.  The difference being that they want to incorporate  moves that give them the most  possible threat, not the most possible damage.

Now, if this seems confusing, and you feel like you’re a little over your head, you have a couple options.   First, you could hang around here, and read my posts as they come out, hopefully getting a good understanding of some of the basics.  Look for “The Basics-” posts.  Or, (if you want to get up to date more quickly) you could hit up forums like ElitistJerks, or sites like WoW.com for everything you could ever want to know about your class.  They’re great tools for getting off the ground a bit.

Now, before I hear any of you complaining, I don’t want to hear it.  I’m dealing with a feral cat dps  rotation.  For those of you seasoned veterans out there, you know exactly what that means.  There is no rotation.  Instead we have a long and complex priority-based algorithm.  Yes, you heard that right.  Please don’t make me repeat it, I don’t think I could spell it again.  But it’s around 15 lines long, and about as complicated as it gets.  So don’t tell me you can’t deal with a rotation of moves.  If I can deal with feral dps, anyone can learn rotations.

Complaints about my spec aside, rotations are very important.  The all important DPS (damage per second) and tanking aggro (the threat that makes mobs attack you)  is based heavily on how well you use what you’ve got.  All the gear in the world won’t make you better at playing your class.  Only practice can do that.

So, what are you doing sitting around here for?  The whole wide world of  random dungeons await.  Take  a moment, check some of the sites I recommended, or just run a google search.  Get a rotation that works for you down.  Now, before you can talk yourself out of it, go run heroics (if you havent’ been already).  The rotation is the place to start, and you should get all the practice you can get.  Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.  Lack of practice will only come back to haunt you later.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Here we go…

Feral druid skins (aren't they pretty?)

So I haven’t posted in a long time, and I’m sorry about that.  The truth of the matter is I picked up a resto off spec for PvP and I’ve spent the last weeks gearing it up, and getting in touch with my inner arena healer.  Either way, I’m sitting pretty around 800 resil (still not great, but passable) and I’m going to take a break from that and get back into PvE (which is, after all, the poin of this blog).

My sudden leap to tree-dom means a couple things for this blog.  Firstly, I’m no longer going to be PvEing as a boomkin, since my balance spec had to go away (I had no intention of dropping my feral main spec).  That means that I’ll be going at it as a kitty, and delving into the mysteries of feral dps.  I realize I did a whole post taking you through my boomkin gear… but you’ll just have to ignore that.

One small draw-back to my feral spec is that I don’t exactly have what you might call… a PvE set.  I have a motly collection of deadly PvP gear (I haven’t worked on that spec in some time, since back in November.  Deadly was all the rage back then).  So, I’m going to be running my first few heroics in PvP.  Not exactly ideal, but I can get by.

So, I don’t have time for a massive post right now, but rest assured that I’ll be posting more soon, and that this blog is not, by any means, dead.  I’m using this post to officially start my PvE adventures, and  I’ll update it shortly with the first wave of heroics.  I’ll try and make this a guide that with apply to fresh 80s the world over,  and hopefully my adventures and misadventures in the big, scary world of raiding, will be useful to someone out there.

Thanks for bearing with me, and wish me luck.

I’m probably going to need it.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Thoughts on 3.3.

Icecrown Citadel, home of the Lich King

3.3 has brought about a lot of changes in the World of Warcraft, most notably (in the case of my PvE gearing-up)- the random dongeon finder.  I haven’t had a chance to hop in game quite yet and test it out, but from what I’ve heard it seems to be a pretty awesome thing.  Because of this new feature, instead of gearing up largely through running a whole bunch of ToC and ToC heroic 5 mans, I’m going to simply hopping in game, and finding a random dongeon.

So what does this mean, exactly, for us brand new 80s looking to nag some gear?  Simply that gearing up just got a whole lot simpler.  Finding a heroic group (at least for me, in my past experience) can take upwards of 20 minutes to a half hour, by the time you’ve found everyone and flown out to the instance.  Now you’ll be simply ported into the dongeon, across realms, and paired up with a group.  I’d say it’s pretty much guaranteed that at any given time, 4 people somewhere out there also want to run a random dongeon, so in theory you should be able to just keep on jumping in.

Also there’s no cap on the number of times you can go into a random dongeon, so if you don’t mind the odd Occulus (a nortoriously bad instance, for those of you not in the know), clicking random again and again until you’re little bloodthirsty heart is satisfied seems to be a viable option.  On top of the emblems you’ll get from simply running the instances, you’re going to get rewards for running a random instance.  From what I gather, the first random dongeon of the day will award you two Emblems of Frost (the current high-tier emblem, again, more on this soon).  That’s pretty nice, considering you’re only running a quick, simple, entry-level heroic.   The alternative manner to amass Emblems of Frost is by stepping foot in Icecrown Citadel (the hardest raid currently in the game), so that’s a pretty nice reward.

A friend of mine, who’s pretty PvE savvy, claims (and mind you, I can’t confirm the theory yet), that in two or three days of heroics (say a weekend or two) you can be all decked out in reasonably viable raiding gear, and be all but ready to start clearing new content.  And, after all, that is sort of the point.  As fun as running heroics can be.  Now, like I said, there’s no guarantee that’s actually how long it takes.  And also, I’m certainly not suggesting that in order to gear up you must dedicate a weekend of your lives to the cause and play nothing but WoW.  If you feel so inclined, be my guest, but I don’t expect anyone reading this to play all day long, as I certainly have no intention of doing so.

Another big change in 3.3?  Icecrown Citadel.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the World of Wacraft for the past couple months, you know this is the latest raid Blizzard has released for our pwning pleasures.  I (obviously) haven’t been in there (since I’m still worried about running heroics) I have to say it looks pretty awesome.  And there’s really nothing cooler than the concept that shortly, we all may be in a possition to finaly kill the Lich King.  And taking him down is going to pretty epic, I’m sure.

So yes, all in all 3.3 is looking pretty epic.  And I can’t wait to get my feet wet.

Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 3:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Look at Gear.

Mal'Ganis, the final boss of the Culling of Stratholme instance.

So, before we begin, I’d like to just quickly go over my gear.  You’ll notice, that there’s a disturbingly large number of blues there.  But rest assured, phase one of my plan to get rid of them.  Now, while I am going with the theory that this guide is for completely fresh 80s, no this isn’t quest gear.  I’ve run a few heroics, and half of Naxx 10 once to get this.  Trust me though, I’ve put barely any work into my PvE gear, and the epics I do have would have been considered passable in patch 3.0, but not anymore.

So, in the head slot I’m currently packing: Gaze of the Somber Keeper.  This is a leather head piece that drops from ToC normal 5 man.  Back in 3.2 when I got this gear, ToC was mostly the way to go for gearing up.  But the point here is that it was a major upgrade from the blues I had.  It’s got okay stats, but nothing really great.

Neck = Evoker’s Charm.  This is probably my best piece of gear in terms of item level.  I bought it for Emblems of Conquest (more on that later) which I saved up while I got my other gear.  It has some solid stats and a thrilling item level (again, more on that later) of 226.  This will be one of the last things I replace since it’s already a tier above my other gear.

Shoulders = Purehorn Spaulders.  A blue leatherworking piece of gear.  I believe it requires a leatherworking of 420 to make, but I got mine off the AH.  This is pretty bad gear, and I only have it for lack of better caster shoulders.  It’s at the top of my replace list, along with the other blues.

Back = Cloak of the Gushing Wound.  A cape that drops in Heroic Violet Hold.  Don’t even get me started.  This is a piece of feral gear that I actually used in PvP when I first dinged 80 (remember I PvP feral).  It’s not caster gear at all, and it’s only there because I don’t have a caster cape.  Obviously, it needs to go.

Chest = Tunic of the Unduly Victorious.  Another blue piece of caster gear that actually is quest gear, picked up somewhere along the line in the Icecrown quests while I was leveling.

Wrists = Plague-Infected Bracers.  These drop off the last boss in Heroic Culling of Stratholme.  They’re not bad, but again, only very entry level epic.

My weapon is the Jailer’s Baton.  Another piece of feral gear that I need to replace.  My Idol is Harold’s Rejuvenating Broach, which I picked up while healing some instances while I was leveling (in Outland, I think).  It’s totally useless for dps, so it needs to go too.  Gloves are Awakened Handguards, which are caster gear at least, but still not very good.

And from there I’ve got Binding of the Tranquil Glade, Leggings of the Winged Serpent, and Boots of the Follower, which are all entry level epics.  The belt and the legs came from ToC and the boots are from Naxx 10, but they’re all item level 200 gear.

I’ve also got some rings and trinkets I picked up from Brewfest and Hallow’s End, which I’m not going to go into, since they’re both long gone for another year, and since Cataclysm will likely be out by the next time they roll around, you’ll probably not have a chance to pick them up.  Use whatever trinkets and rings you’ve got for now and replace them with better gear when you get a chance.

So why am I giving a list of all my gear?  The point is that my gear is pretty awful, but I’m still going to make it work, until I can improve it.  Now if you’re an honest to God fresh 80, and are in quest greens and blues, that’s fine too.  The entry level heroic dungeons are meant to be doable for brand-new 80s.  I ran a handful of heroic dungeons, half of Naxxramas 10 man normal (the lowest level raid in this expansion) and  spent a couple hundred gold on the AH to get the gear I’ve got now.  But you don’t have to spend anything, just hop right into some heroics and get to work.  The gear will come.

So, now that I’ve established just how little good gear I have, the next step is… getting good gear!  So on with the show!

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Looking Ahead.

Invincible, Arthas' faithful steed... for now.

Before I jump right into the dungeons, it’s probably worthwhile to take a look at where I’m planning on ending  up.  When am I going to draw the line?  Well, right now I honestly can’t say for sure where I’m going to end up.  But, my eventual goal, if ever I had one, is no less than Invincible.  For those of you not familiar with it, you can see this beauty of a mount in the image above.  I’m not sure whether it’s the amazing audio track blizzard released along with the mount for the anniversary (go check it out, it sounds amazing), or just the mount itself, but that thing seems to me like the most epic mount blizzard has made so far.

Now, I realize that it only drops from the Lich King, the final boss in this expansion.  And yes, only on the 25 man heroic mode.  Yes, I realize that is the hardest boss on the hardest difficulty.  I’m aware.  It’s also entirely possible that I’ll never make it that far.  But, I’m shooting high.  And I’m seriously determined to give getting there a shot.  You know what they say.  Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.

Sound corny?  It is.  Extremely.  But I’m cool with that.  So, although short-term, my goal is to get into some kind of moderately okay raiding gear, my long-term goal is nothing short of invincible’s reigns.  Sound like a plan?  Good.  Now stick with me, and we’ll see if I get there.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Begining.

A bolt-throwing 'Boomkin' (AKA turkey of doom) in action.

Allow me to paint for you all a familiar picture.  My name is Flairn, and I’ve been out of things in the World of Warcraft for a long time.  I haven’t played since well before patch 3.3 dropped.  In fact, I’ve been without WoW since late November ’09.  And I dinged the big level 80 in mid October.

Now that seems like plenty of time to get acquainted with the end-game, but I played things a little differently.  My guild, is almost entirely PvP.  And I love PvP, big time.  It’s by far my favourite part of the game.  But I decided recently that I wanted to try out PvE.  So in the sense of raiding and boss-killing, I’m essentially a fresh 80.

Now, in my quest to learn more about PvE, I’ve been looking at blogs and all the ressources out there for WoW players.  But  I haven’t really found anyone who can take you from the very begining.  And even if there are some out there, those players are few and far between.  Most players have been at this for so long now, that they’ll simply tell fresh 80s “Go farm heroics.  You’ll get gear.  Then go raid.”

Well, I’m sorry but that really isn’t enough for me.  I realize that raiding requires gear.  That’s a big shocker.  But what do all those extra stats mean?  Haste?  Armor penetration?  Some things are obvious like, crit.  But what exactly does armor pen do?  Do I need that as a caster (I PvE a boomkin, although I PvP feral)?  After all, I’m still shooting spells at people with armor.

So my goal with this is  to take all of you good people of the internet through the entire process from step one.  I’ll explain spellpower, and haste, and why you don’t need that stamina gem, since you aren’t a tank.  Some people assume all these things go without saying.  But I’m not going to do that.

Now, I will assume that if you’re reading this blog you probably already play WoW.  You may (or may not) already have a level 80 character.  Keep in mind this blog is meant to explain the game from the point of reaching level 80.  If you want a leveling guide, or a complete walkthrough, look elsewhere.

So, the way this blog is going to work is simple.  If you’re reading this sometime in February 2010, then I’ve just started.  You can follow me through as I make my way through the world of PvE.  If it is later in the year, then I’ve been going for a while.  Check out the categories for the complete guide.  Every category will be a phase in my playing, from ‘Fresh 80′ all the way to ‘Elite Raider’.  Everything may not be completely jam packed with new info, it is, after all, a blog, but it’s worth reading, or at least skimming the category you feel you yourself are at, and then from there on.  I don’t have them all named yet.  You’ll just have to work it out for yourself.

At any rate, I’m going to cut things off there.  That’s it from me for now.  This is the official begining of Flairn’s Great and Epic PvE Adventure!  And I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a  pretty wild ride.

~Flairn (druid extraordinaire).

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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