Author Archives: Darkbrew

Patch 6.2 – My Hunter

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Patch day is here, which means in a few hours we’ll have a whole slew of new content to conquer. A new questing zone, a new raid, and new gear. All arriving just as many of us are departing for the Summer. I kid, but not really.

So Hunters have changed again. Not drastically mind you, but there is some housekeeping that I will need to tend to before stepping into Hellfire Citadel this evening.

In Patch 6.1 my two specs were Beast Mastery and Survival, and Survival was only there because I needed something for a second spec. I ran Beast Mastery the whole time, and I was all in. I had fever flare fever with Mastery and Haste on everything I could get.

For Hellfire Citadel, I’ll be Beast Mastery and Marksmanship, and this time I’ll actually use both. As I get new gear, especially the tier, I’ll lean more towards Marksmanship than Beast Mastery.

On our last podcast, we talked about going Marksmanship right out of the gate, but my gear and stats are all geared towards Beast Mastery, so that’s where I’m going to stay until I get a few new pieces.

Aspect of the Fox is gone, so that’s a free spot on my toolbar. I’m curious to see how many people in my raid realize that Fox is gone. I suspect not many.

I’m looking forward to playing Marksmanship again, especially since Focusing Shot will be a good talent option with the tier gear. I really don’t like playing without a pet.

Speaking of pets there are several new ones to tame. The green Fel Wolf from the new taming challenge is definitely on my list. The Iron Horde Wolf, and Hulking Diretusk are on my tame list as well. My stable is completely full though, and I’m finding fewer pets that I want to abandon. I’ll find a way to fit them in.

That’s my Hunter in Patch 6.2. Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and a few additions to the stable. While you wait for the realms to come back online, I recommend you listen to Episode 219 of the Hunting Party Podcast for some additional tips for Patch 6.2.

KOTFE: The Fate of the Smuggler

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I am a hero of the Republic. I am also a Smuggler. You know, a rogue, scoundrel, pirate and gambler? I once walked into the Star Cluster casino with 10,000 credits and rode out atop a rancor. Only on Nar Shadaa right?

The great war is over. The Galactic Republic and Sith Empire lay in ruin. Not at the hands of each other, but felled by the mysterious Eternal Empire of Zakuul. Whoever they are.

I missed out on all the “fun”, but I’m back now. Maybe I’ll hunt down this Eternal Empire, or maybe, just maybe I’ll return to doing what I do best – smuggling.

With a new galactic overlord in town and the Republic and Sith in full retreat, people are going to need things. Things that only a guy like myself can get.

Blockades will need breaking, medical supplies will be in, well, short supply. Food, water, adrenals, and spices. If you need them, then you need me and I promise to deliver.

War takes a toll. Being a hero takes an even a greater toll. I gave at the office, and now it’s time make the dream of that mesa resort on Makeb a reality. What? The planet still has a few nice spots left, and it mostly stable now. Mostly.

I can’t do this alone. No to pull this off I’m going to need a crew. Not just any crew, but one to rival the great smuggling contingent started by Hylo Visz during the Great Galactic War.

So who do you get to help you build the most successful smuggling ring in all the galaxy? Meet my dream team.

Nico Okarr
Nico’s is an old-time smuggler who has been doing this a long time. Longer than me anyway. The knowledge and “wisdom” he brings is invaluable. I may be an old dog, but I can still learn new tricks and Nico has a bunch up his sleeve. What do you say old-timer, are you in?

Mako
You don’t get anywhere in this galaxy without being able to slice into computer systems, and there isn’t a system that this pretty little lady couldn’t crack.

She has ties to Nar Shadaa and the underworld. She’s worked closely with the Sith Empire. While they may no longer be a threat, her knowledge of their systems and inner workings is invaluable.

Mako is used to working with Bounty Hunters and helping them track down their prey. Smuggling isn’t that much different. We don’t hunt down people, we hunt down things, and things don’t shoot back. Well, most of the time anyway. Welcome to crew Mako!

Tano Vik
Slicing your way into places is nice, but for some jobs you don’t have the luxury of doing things real quiet-like. I like having a demolitions expert on hand for those times when the only way to get to the inside is to destroy the outside.

Explosives are dangerous and blowing things up is an art. You don’t want just any ordinance handler, you want someone for whom this is their passion.

You want the kind of person that sleeps with their toys and names them and talks to them. Each bomb, missile, and mine is an incendiary child that you’re raising for a singular, important purpose. They don’t have a job, they have a destiny.

No one is better at this than Tano Vik. Another product of Nar Shadaa, Vik served as a member of the Republic’s famed Havoc Squad. Now that the Republic military has suffered its ultimate defeat, I imagine Vik might be looking for work.

If you’re interested, I’m hiring. Just one rule, no smoking while on the job.

Akaavi Spaar
If you travel from one end of the galaxy to the other you’re bound to run into the Mandalorians. These run-ins tend to get violent and bloody. I’m no stranger to any of that, but sometimes you just want a nice easy charter. Know what I mean?

Akaavi is a tough warrior and she’s a Mandalorian. She understands their ways and customs.

When we encounter Mando’s we send in Akaavi and keep our blasters crossed that it won’t get violent. Of course, it always does so I have a plan B.

Bowdaar
Everyone? Meet plan B. Every good smuggler needs muscle. Blasters are great, but having a good Wookiee at your side is better.

I try to avoid violence whenever I can, but there are times when my charm and good looks just aren’t able to get the job done. If it looks like I’m going to get my handsome face kicked-in, I send in the “Killer from Kashyyyk.”

Bowdaar is tough, loyal, and furry. Seriously, he sheds a lot and is always clogging up the refresher. I don’t even want to talk about what he smells like after standing in the rain.

Still, he’s got it where it counts and is the reason why I still have teeth.

Gault Renow
I know I’m asking for trouble here, but this is a brave new world and I need people that can think outside of the box.

His pro is that he’s a con. A very good con. He’s a master at separating people from their valuables, and we’re going to need all we can get.

He’s got vast connections, but he’s also one of the most hated men in the galaxy. He may be through with his past, but his past may not be through with him. He’s a risk, a huge risk.

He’s entertaining though, and life will not be dull with him around. Of course, that won’t matter if we can’t stay alive because of him. I’m going to regret him aren’t I?

Risha
Ah, Risha. Dear, dear Risha. She’s a carbon copy of me only prettier, wealthier and smarter. We were quite the team back in the day, and I hope we can be again. I wouldn’t be surprised if she chose to leave and branch out on her own. She really is the brains of the operation, and she’s good at fixing the ship.

Let’s just hope she can’t bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of her site. It really is my only hope.

That’s my new crew. It’s a dangerous galaxy of opportunity and my pockets are almost empty. Risha? Prep the hyperdrive and let’s hit it.

Oh, and to the Eternal Empire, stay out of my way. I may be smuggler, but I might have a teensy bit of hero left in me.

The Fates of Our Heroes

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It’s been four days since the big announcement and trailer release and I’m still giddy with excitement over Knights of the Fallen Empire.

In an interview with Polygon and in a post on the forums, we learned a little bit about our fates, as well as the fates of our companions, going into Knights of the Fallen Empire.

I will leave it spoiler free for now.

All of it has inspired me to delve into what might have happened to each of the eight heroes after the great war. With the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire defeated and in shambles, the repercussions for each hero type varies greatly.

A trooper without a military. A Dark Council member without an Empire to rule. A smuggler in a post-war torn galaxy where supplies are in great need. A bounty hunter in a target rich environment of the galaxy’s most-wanted wartime traitors. A Knight at odds with the Jedi Order.

The possibilities are endless, and in the coming days I will explore the possible fates of each of these heroes. The first article, KOTFE: The Fate of the Smuggler will be released tomorrow.

See you then and thanks for reading.

Ion Hazzikostas on Aspect of the Fox

Staying true to his word, Blizzard designer Ion Hazzikostas took to the forums to answer many of the questions he didn’t get to during Saturday’s Q&A.

This included an explanation of why Aspect of the Fox was removed in Patch 6.2. In short, he felt it made ranged classes too mobile and gave them an unfair advantage over melee classes in raid encounters. He also noted that chaining Aspect of the Fox only compounded the problem.

Additionally he stated that Hunters were given this ability because there was concern they would have trouble securing a raid spot if they did not provide something other than DPS. Something that has not held true.

My raid usually has four to five Hunters and we rarely take advantage of Aspect of the Fox. It’s never fun to have abilities like this removed, but I do agree that it wasn’t necessary to secure a raid spot for Hunters.

A compromise would have been to give Aspect of the Fox a heroism like cooldown, but instead they opted to remove it outright. I predict that it won’t take long for raiders to forget that this ability ever existed.

The big tragedy coming in 6.2 is not the removal of Aspect of the Fox, but the removal of Survival. Ba dump bump!

You can see his full explanation below.

Ion Hazzikostas

Q: Will hunters and mages get a new raid utility in 6.2? – @Garfurion
A: No. At this point, while we may still be making numerical adjustments, I wouldn’t expect new abilities or class functionality in 6.2. We removed Aspect of the Fox from hunters because they simply did not need it to be unique, viable, and in fact highly desired. It also contributed to elevating ranged classes above melee in many cases, by offsetting one of most casters’ main weaknesses. One of the strengths of melee classes is that they can move along with their target and continue to deal full damage while on the move, while most casters’ throughput suffers if they can’t stand still. In encounter design, we create mechanics and phases with this constraint in mind, with the expectation that a ranged-heavy raid will have its throughput suffer during something like Hans’gar and Franzok’s Stamping Presses phase, or Blackhand’s Massive Demolitions. Each additional Aspect of the Fox eroded this natural melee advantage, and contributed to raid composition and balance issues.

Even without Fox, Hunters are unique in that they are the only ranged DPS that can do nearly everything while on the move, which naturally makes them well-suited to specialized roles on a number of encounters, aside from naturally thriving in high-movement environments. On top of that, Deterrence, Feign Death, Misdirection, and Disengage all allow them to assist with handling mechanics in ways that many other classes cannot. As for Mages, Amplify was not nearly as impactful, but neither was it necessary to justify the inclusion of a class that already brings a versatile toolset, burst damage, control, and useful immunities. A particularly odd feature of both Aspect of the Fox and Amplify Magic is that neither ability had any apparent use whatsoever when solo, which contributed to their awkwardness.

In short, we added those abilities in 6.0 because we were concerned that mages and hunters might not be well-represented without some new and unique raid cooldown, but having observed how they have played out in practice, those concerns were likely unfounded, leaving us with two new niche abilities at a time where we have otherwise been trying to streamline the contents of class spellbooks. Thus, we’re removing them in 6.2.

The Tanaan Jungle

Have you watched this video? No? You should. It’s only about 15 minutes long and provides a wonderful overview of all the things you can do, and all the rewards you can get from the Tanann Jungle.

I did not spend much time on the PTR. The main reason is that without my keybindings, addons and UI I’m completely dysfunctional when it comes to this game. I simply can’t play it.

This preview has energized me, and I find myself looking forward to uncovering the secrets of the Tanaan Jungle.

Combined with the Hellfire Citadel raid I’m beginning to think that Patch 6.2 is indeed the influx of content I’ve been waiting for.

The Timeless Isle and now the Tanaan Jungle style adventure area is clearly how Blizzard wishes to present end-game content to players outside of raids. Other than its duration, I thought the Timeless Isle worked well and the Tanaan Jungle looks as if it’s an improvement.

Mounts, toys, gear, reputations, and battle pets. It’s all there waiting in the Tanann Jungle.

Let’s set sail, shall we?

Thoughts on Knights of the Fallen Empire

The presentations are complete. The information is out there, and the hype is over. Now the reality of what is actually being delivered in Knights of the Fallen Empire is starting to set in.

Story, and lots of it. Star Wars: The Old Republic has been referred to as the greatest single player MMO of all time, and Knights of the Fallen Empire would seem to do little to help the game shed that moniker.

Case in point, take this snippet from the official news article for the expansion.

Additionally, many of our existing Flashpoints and Operations are being scaled to 60+, giving you many more Elder Game options at Level 65.

With the focus clearly on story, little or no resources are being spent on new Flashpoints and Operations. Not even solo or tactical ones. Players wishing to engage in end-game PvE will now be forced to play through recycled content albeit at a renewed difficulty level.

I’ve raided enough over the years to know that part of what makes raiding fun is overcoming new boss challenges and mechanics. Gear and power are just one aspect that makes defeating bosses possible. The other, and arguably most important, is the learning that comes from repeatedly doing each encounter.

Ramping up the difficulty of existing content removes the learning curve and the challenge becomes acquiring the gear necessary to defeat the encounters once again. One begins to feel like Sisyphus pushing that same boulder up the same hill.

I’m curious to see what impact this has on the game once players have completed all sixteen story chapters on the army of characters they’re building.

The other piece that may not go over well is the handling of the Republic and Empire. Knights of the Fallen Empire takes the two factions and tosses them to side.

The Sith Empire and Galactic Republic have fallen. The Jedi and Sith have retreated to their temples. No one remains to stand between the Eternal Empire and the utter destruction of all we hold dear.

If there is one Star Wars story that people love it’s the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire and the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Even the makers of The Force Awakens are smart enough to know this and are embracing that concept.

I would have loved to see more done with these two factions. Now it looks like there will just be one, and at least for the moment, we’ll be facing this singular common enemy – The Eternal Empire.

The one benefit of this is that we should now get a single coherent story. I enjoyed the Shadow of Revan and Ziost storylines, but I didn’t like that there needed to be different versions for each faction. The stories were essentially the same, but with subtle differences that left me having to choose which “reality” I liked better.

A couple of other things that stood out to me today were the mention of a level cap increase to 65 and the ability to create a level 60 character. There was no indication that a level increase would come with new abilities or another tier of points to spend. It would seem odd to just increase the level and get nothing more than increased stats, but you never know.

With the ability to create an insta-level 60, I can’t help but wonder if I’m wasting my time with the epic story boost. I also don’t know what this means for class stories and other content. World of Warcraft has their level 90 boost, but the story prior to Warlords of Draenor is mostly irrelevant to ones character. This is not the case with SWTOR.

Finally, there is the new cinematic. It’s over four minutes long and it does not disappoint. I know I shouldn’t draw a correlation between the cinematic and The Force Awakens, but I’m going to anyway.

If a game company can produce a Star Wars cinematic of this high quality, I feel like it’s almost impossible for J.J. Abrams and crew to make a bad Star Wars movie. My hopes for Episode VII are soaring even higher now, but I digress.

I’m doing my best to look at Knights of the Fallen Empire in the context of the content that has preceded it. When it comes to telling a story, BioWare is the best. I have no doubt that the story will be gripping and there will be moments where I sit frozen at the screen with my mouse hovering over option one and option two knowing that no matter which one I choose, I’ll wish I had gone the other way. I’m expecting many an Ava Jaxo moment this time around.

It’s going to be good. Really, good. I know I’ll look forward to spending many an evening logging into The Old Republic as if I were opening up a good book.

The problem is I tend to read alone, and I don’t know that I want that experience from an MMO.

Michele Morrow as Alleria Windrunner

Congratulations to Michele Morrow who is voicing Hearthstone Hero Alleria Windrunner. I’ve been a big fan of Michele’s and always enjoy having her as a guest on the Hunting Party Podcast.

She has been a great ambassador for World of Warcraft and the Hunter class over the years. She also has a great love for the Windrunner sisters, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving to voice Alleria than Michele. Here’s what she had to say about getting the part.

I’m humbled and effing stoked to announce that I am voicing Alleria Windrunner, new hunter Hero skin in Hearthstone. I guess this means I’m Alliance… But at least I’m a Windrunner :)

Welcome to the Alliance Michele!

Knights of the Fallen Empire

I did a couple of things today. First, I read through all of the information that’s been leaked about Knights of the Fallen Republic. Second, I rewatched the three CGI trailers that were produced for Star Wars: The Old Republic. They’re still amazing to watch.

If you’ve seen the images that have been leaked, it sure looks as if there is going to be a new CGI cinematic. I’m almost as excited about that as I am the proposed expansion content.

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Despite someone from BioWare letting the bantha out of the bag, there is a lot we don’t know about the upcoming expansion. I’m hoping tomorrow’s big E3 event is more than just officially releasing that information. Some explanation is certainly needed.

By all accounts, it looks like BioWare is poised to take their storytelling to the next level. In the leaked content, there was an overwhelming emphasis on choices that matter. These choices could range from leaving the Empire or Republic to even killing your companions.

What was missing from the leaked content was any mention of Flashpoints, Operations, class changes or a level cap increase. It’s looking like this is could just be a major story based expansion, with all the features revolving around the choices and decisions we make as we progress.

The story looks dark too. It’s not clear if it picks up right after Ziost or if there will be more to that story between now and when Knight of the Fallen Empire is released.

Based on the cinematic images that have been released, Both the Republic and the Empire appear to be in rough shape.

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The EA press conference is scheduled for 4 PM Eastern tomorrow. I may just have to sneak out of work a wee bit early to catch this. I’ll have more to say on Knight of the Fallen Empire after the announcement.

For now, I find myself giddy with anticipation.

A New Taming Challenge in 6.2

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The Burning Legion. Yeah, we hate them. When we traveled back in time to Draenor we inadvertently resurrected them and now they are once again a serious threat to all life on Azeroth. Oops, my bad.

Since we had the Iron Horde to deal with we let things slide when they started corrupting a few space goats. After all, they were space goats and not real goats. But then they started messing with the real goats or in this case wolves.

Now even though we’re sick of wolves, we’d prefer to choose not to tame them rather than be denied the opportunity.

We’ve waited long enough and now it’s time to invade the Tanaan Jungle and free our beloved beasts from clutches of their demonic captors.

It won’t be easy though. To start with we’ll need to defeat one of those corrupted space goats I mentioned earlier – Fel Rangari Anaara.

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If you were beginning to think that your hatred towards space goats was misguided, she will do nothing but reaffirm the darkness in your heart. Clutch that hatred close to your bosom because you’re going to need it along with every skill in your Hunter arsenal. Prepare to Dwarf-up!

When she charges you, make her keep her distance with Concussive Shot, Ice Trap or Biding Shot. When she tries to heal herself, hit her with a Counter Shot. If she takes the cowardly approach and stealths, root her out with a flare. Oh, she wants to buff herself? Dispell with a Tranquilizing Shot. Did she put your pet to sleep? Wake him up with Bestial Wrath or Master’s Call.

Did she summon a deadly fel pool underneath you? Stand in it and die because after ten years you still haven’t learned that standing in the fire is not a DPS buff.

There is nothing she can throw at us that we cannot counter, but that does not mean she is a pushover. Once you have defeated her, take her Vial of Fel Cleansing and make your way to the Temple of Sha’naar. There you will find Felbound Wolves. There you will find your new companion.

A big shout-out to Bendak who put together an amazing guide on how to tame a fel wolf. Another shout-out goes to Petopia who held a contest to see who could be the first Hunter to tackle this challenge. Congratulations to Qraljar who was the first to do it.

The State of My Game

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Everyone. lookee now. we have a “post.” Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything about Hunters and World of Warcraft, but I wanted to weigh in on the state of my game.

Ladies and gentle dwarves? The state of my game is good.

This is due to the fact that the two things I enjoy most about the game are in a good place right now. Can you guess what they are?

Hunters and Raiding.

Both are better off than they’ve been in any expansion to date. Neither are perfect, but when you hold things this close to the vest you will undoubtedly notice every little imperfection.

Flexible raiding has been an absolute godsend. We always have more than ten and fewer than 25 players each raid, and the number is seldom the same. We have yet to call a raid, and we have yet to bench anybody that didn’t want to come along.

In any other expansion, we would be benching people. We would have drama and people would be leaving the guild to find a permanent raid spot elsewhere.

Then there are Hunters. Yes, there are some issues, but there are always issues. Survival in 6.2 is dead. Exotic ammunitions is an underpowered talent. Marksmanship AoE is an abomination.

Beyond those flaws, Hunters have been amazing this expansion. At one time or another I have used all three specs. I’ve run with pets and without. I’ve brought pets to raid because their utility was needed and I’ve brought pets to raids because I wanted a specific companion by my side for the night.

Hunter DPS is competitive, and Hunter’s mobility has qualified them to take on all of the gimmicky tasks required to defeat the Warlords’ bosses.

In short, the state of the Hunter class is good, if not great.

As for the rest of Warlords of Draenor, I feel a little bit like Coren Direbrew when you defeat him in Hearthstone, “Whoa! What’s ha…? I don’t like it, but it’s happening anyway!”

Are Hunters and raiding all I want out of World of Warcraft? No. Are they all I need to keep on keepin’ on? For now, yes.

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