Mar 182014
 

I know I’ve reached the end of an expansion when spreadsheets don’t revolve around rotations and DPS, but rather center on options for using my level 90 boost. The bonus to auto-leveling two professions to 600 has me leaning towards using the boost on a high level character. I hit up Twitter to find out what two professions I should take.

Many of you responded and the recommendations were essentially all of them. A few of you highly recommended Engineering. I have Engineering on Darkbrew, and my goal is to have two max level professions that I don’t have elsewhere.

I don’t have Blacksmithing or Inscription on any toon, so this is the logical choice to make. The caveat is that I don’t feel like leveling anything else right now. I have an 85 Druid with Enchanting and Tailoring. They’re almost to Cataclysm max, so I would need to level him and the professions. I also have an 85 Hunter with Skinning and Leatherworking, so same thing there.

I’m also thinking about using the boost on my Shaman, which means if I took say Tailoring and Enchanting I’d be duplicating what exists elsewhere.

I’ll probably boost the Shammy with Blacksmithing and Inscription and then just level up the other two toons.

This should put in me pretty good shape for the expansion. Three level 90 Alliance Hunters, a Druid and Shaman, and all the professions maxed out. I need to make some gold in WoD. I’m tired of being poor.

Mar 122014
 

fallen_prot

One of the tenets of doing great dps is the ABC rule; Always be casting. There are times, though, when it is to your benefit to stop casting.

I’m not talking about halting what you’re doing to move out of the stupid. I’m referring to clearing the way so that you can do important things like casting interrupts without your other abilities getting in the way.

I’m part of an interrupt rotation on Embodied Gloom on heroic protectors. If Gloom gets off a Corruption Shock it’s bad news for your raid. Letting one get through won’t wipe you, but there’s no reason you can’t get them all.

In order to guarantee that I get my interrupt off when I need it, I use the following stopcasting macro.

#showtooltip Counter Shot
/stopcasting
/stopcasting
/cast Counter Shot

This macro stops whatever I’m doing and ensures that I’ll fire Counter Shot without delay. Why the two stopcasting lines? One is to cancel any spell in progress such as Cobra Shot, and the other is to stop my auto shot that might be going off.

Use this and you’ll never again be a victim to your own over activity.

Mar 052014
 

sotw_725Each week we’ll look at the history and utility of some of the greatest abilities in the Hunter’s arsenal

This week I’m digging deep into the spell book and presenting you with our unique ability, Beast Lore. That’s right, Beast Lore. I know it’s not a DPS ability, and I get that it’s not something you use often, if at all.

If there’s a time when you want to break this one out and have it handy it’s for the Warlords of Draenor beta. Petopia is an awesome resource, but Blizzard doesn’t just send them the data. The list of tameable pets is the work of players like you who go into the beta, wander around and cast Beast Lore on everything.

Beast Lore allows you to collect information on any beast that you run across. When you cast Beast Lore it puts a debuff on the target that lasts for 30 seconds. If you pull up the target’s tool tip you’ll get information such as if it’s tameable, its diet, and any tamed abilities it has.

beastlore

Notice that the Ancient Spineclaws on the Timeless Isle are indeed tameable, and once Warlords of Draenor arrives and you hit level 91, you can go back and get one.

If you’re lucky enough to get into the beta, be sure to spend some time finding out which new pets we can add to our stables.

Feb 272014
 
IMG_0005

Where it all began five years ago.

On March 17th the Brew Hall will turn five. I can’t believe I’ve been at this for five years now, but then again, World of Warcraft is about to turn ten. Who could’ve thunk that? The time has flown by so fast, that in many ways, I feel more like rookie than a veteran of WoW blogging.

The Brew Hall was born while I was on vacation in St. Thomas. I’m once again on vacation in St. Thomas and, in between Margaritas, I’m doing a little reminiscing, and some thinking about the way forward.

Former New York mayor, Ed Koch was famous for standing on street corners and asking passersby, “How’m I doin’?”

So today, I stand before you on this virtual street corner and I ask you, How’m I doin’?

The Brew Hall is and will always be Hunter blog, and I believe you’ve come to appreciate that. I don’t plan on changing that, but are there Hunter topics you would like me to cover? One thing I will say is that I’m not a theorycrafter. I love the work that theorycrafters do, and I’m happy to talk about their work, but it’s just not my arena.

Aside from theorycrafting, are there other areas of WoW that you would like to read about here? Perhaps opinions on Garrisons, the level 90 boost, and so forth?

Do you like the tone of the posts? Am I too nice, too mean, too neutral? In real life I tend to be very non-confrontational, so if my posts read like I’m not trying to piss anybody off, that’s why. But again I ask, would you like me to stir the pot a little?

Are the posts too long, or too short? Do phrases intended to make you laugh, make you laugh? Would you like me to try and be more funny or less funny?

Do you want more images in posts, or do you not care? Are you dying to see a picture of my hairy wrists? Do you want to see more Internet memes, or do you find that they’re overused and you’re sick of them?

Is the site easy to use? Do you have trouble commenting on posts due to captcha? Do you find the posts worth commenting on at all? Perhaps you don’t like to comment on any blog? Do you subscribe to the RSS feed and just read the posts in your reader and avoid coming here at all?

I track a lot of blogs via RSS, and I love hit, however, it also prevents me from going to those sites and commenting.

I don’t need comments, but the goal here it to engage you in discussion, and to get you thinking. So I ask again, what types of posts get your juices flowing and your gears turning?

I started this because I love my Hunter. The goal was to teach, to learn, and to discuss. I still want to do that, so I ask you, how’m I doin’?

The gates are open!

Feb 262014
 

sotw_725Each week we’ll look at the history and utility of some of the greatest abilities in the Hunter’s arsenal

This week I’m covering another of our talents, Biding Shot. It’s a tier 2 talent that you can get a level 30. It’s purpose is utility and not DPS, and I use it all the time in PvE. Here’s what it does.

“You fire a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 5 yards of the landing arrow for (11 sec – 1) sec.

If targets move 5 yards from the arrow they are stunned for 5 sec (3 sec PvP) and will be immune to the effects of Binding Shot for 10 sec.”

Essentially it’s an AoE stun that can be used on unlimited targets. When you think of stuns and roots PvP first comes to mind, but there are many applications for this ability in PvE. In Siege of Orgrimmar I use it on the blobs in Heroic Immerseus. It’s perfect the for the green oozes in the Dark Shaman encounter. It will stun the bloods in Paragon’s of the Klaxxi. It can also be used on the small add in Sha of Pride.

Basically, if you find yourself in a situation in which there are adds running around that you want to control then Binding Shot is the perfect tool for the job. It was one of the better additions in Mists of Pandaria.

How are you using Binding Shot? PvP comments just as welcome as PvE.

Happy Hunting!

Feb 252014
 

Raid encounters are fast-paced, hectic and chaotic. We do our best to mitigate the madness with alerts and warnings. We carefully plan our strategy, and communicate using Ventrilo and Mumble. When the boss is pulled, the bolts start flying, and things begin to go South, are you in control?

Does your adrenaline start rushing as victory is in site? Do your actions and demeanor change when the health bars of your comrades start moving in the negative direction? Do you fight Garrosh with the same aplomb as you do the target dummy?

Do you stay in control, carefully executing your rotation, or do your react as if your hands suddenly doubled in size as you fumble to press the right buttons?

Is vent a calm place or a picture of anarchy? Do you hit push-to-talk and in a soothing voice say, “attention healers, deterrence and cookies are on CD, we have no way to mitigate this next empowered whirlwind. Assistance needed.”, or do you send cats running from room by yelling, “HEAL ME, HEAL ME NAO!”

I think back to the “Miracle on the Hudson” and the actions of Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger and air traffic controller Patrick Harten. The calm and composure they displayed in the face of this dire situation is nothing short of remarkable.

When you listen to the cockpit recording (see below), what you hear is training and professionalism executed to perfection. You’d think that commercial planes ditching into bodies of water was something that happens several times a day.

As NTSB board member Kitty Higgins said, “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, no lives were lost.”

Was there luck involved in here? Absolutely, but because these people stayed focus and didn’t panic when hundreds of lives were in the balance, they gave themselves the opportunity needed for a positive outcome to occur.

I think it’s safe to say that screaming, panic, hesitation and uncertainty would’ve meant certain doom for the passengers and crew of flight 1549. 

Garrosh is a great example of a fight that requires everyone to stay alert and focused right up until the end. On normal mode any team can easily wipe at one percent or under. There are specific tasks that need to be executed that don’t involve DPS’ing the boss and everyone needs to communicate. If there was ever a phase that rewarded keeping one’s composure, this is it.

I would argue that most wipes in this phase occur because folks are flustered, trying to react too quickly, playing with tunnel vision, and not focused on key mechanics. They simply are not raiding with the control and precision needed to win.

I can honestly say that I’m mixed. If I had a copper for every time I thought I was hitting deterrence only to then see myself fly backwards across the room because I hit Disengage, I’d be a rich dwarf. I’ve tried to fire abilities that were on CD, abilities where I didn’t have enough focus, and I’ve hit Kill Command a split second before I hit Bestial Wrath. All because I was in a hurry, and felt rushed. All because I was wrapped up in the moment. All because I immersed myself into the perceived dangers of the fight and the need to win as quickly as possible.

I’m in no way saying that raiding is as important or even remotely comparable to handling an emergency flight situation, but I believe there are lessons that can be applied here.

If people can learn to stay in control when hundreds of real lives are on the line shouldn’t we be able to keep calm in the face of few Internet dragons?

Feb 242014
 

Hey everyone, Darkbrew here, blogging live from Margaritaville. I’m not drinking Margaritas though; not yet anway. No sir, the drink of the day is the Pain Killer. For those wanting to drink along, here’s how you fix one up.

#showtooltip Coconut Cup
2-4 oz. of Pusser's Rum
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. orange juice
Grated fresh nutmeg

One thing that’s missing from the recipe is that it’s important to stir the drink with your finger. Especially if you’re making one for someone else. Deeeelicious. I don’t know how many are recommended for one sitting, but if it’s less than four, we could be in for an interesting ride here today.

It’s Monday and back home my compadres are heading into Siege of Orgimmar to punch heroic Immerseus in the face, or is it the other way around? I forget. He kind of reminds me of a big ‘ole barracuda I saw swimming today. In addition to being a hit song by Heart, Barracudas are sleek, shiny and scary as hell. I’m pretty sure I can’t out swim a barracuda, but I know I can out swim my wife, and that’s really all the matters in those kinds of situations. Thankfully it didn’t come to that as I’ve mastered the art of swimming casually. You know keeping your distance, but not looking like you’re keeping your distance? Works every time.

But back to my friends and their endeavor to down Heroic Immerseus. Last week we went in there and it was wipe, after wipe, after wipe. I couldn’t wait to get hell out of there, but now, for some odd reason, I miss them, and I feel bad for not being there.

Last week, I was ready reach into my bank and grab and old wood-cutting axe, a relic from the days Hunters used melee weapons, and use it on our Resto Tree, who I was certain was responsible for 99.999% of the wipes that night. It was his birthday and he had been “celebrating”.

He kept dying, which led to a chain reaction of the rest of us dying. I kept wanting to yell at him and say, “I get that you’re a tree, but you know you’re not rooted to the ground like an actual tree? Right?”

Then I wen to Warcraft Logs and watched a replay of our fights, and saw that he wasn’t rooted like a tree, but rather he jumping around like a tumbleweed in the wind. His movement patterns so seemingly random. He was prancing about like a figure skater trying to draw a Jackson Pollock masterpiece on the ice. Only the end result wasn’t a priceless masterpiece, it was death; nothing but gold sucking death.

That’s how I felt that night, but right now, I don’t feel that way at all. For some reason I feel guilty. I’m ashamed with myself for wishing I had brought my Mastiff pet so he could run over to Tumbleweed and greet him with a hearty leg raise to the trunk.

As I sit here gulping my fifth Pain Killer, I’m suddenly appreciative of the fact that his magical healing branches allow me take four and five stacks of Swelling Corruption, and live to tell about it. He is the reason I don’t have to lose precious DPS time popping deterrence to avoid Swirl. He’s the reason why I can finish that Cobra Shot cast while standing in the puddle.

I don’t hate Mystic. I love you man. I love my whole raid team. I love my whole guild. I love my readers, and all of the Hunters. Even the Hunter that killed King Krush while I was mid-tame. That’s right dude, this sixth Pain Killer is for you. IT’S FOR ALL OF YOU!

Feb 222014
 

There’s a lot of information beginning to circulate about Warlords of Draenor. A French site Judge Hype posted an interview with Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas in which it was revealed that players will be required to earn a silver medal in the Crucible to queue for Heroic 5-man dungeons. For those that don’t know the Crucible is the updated version of the Proving Grounds introduced in Mists of Pandaria.

Watcher chimed in with some clarifications on the requirements (full post here).

  • We will have Normal and Heroic versions of our max-level dungeons. (Note that we did not have Normal level 90 dungeons in Mists.)
  • There will be no special requirement other than basic level/ilvl requirements on queuing for Normal dungeons or LFR.
  • Level-up quest gear will get you into Normal dungeons/scenarios, and Normal dungeon/scenario gear will get you into LFR.
  • Heroic dungeons will be more challenging than the Normal version (not brutally difficult, mind you — just somewhat more demanding).
  • You will need a Silver Proving Grounds medal in a given role in order to queue for random matchmaking for a Heroic Warlords dungeon. If you form a premade group, you can zone in regardless and no such requirement applies.

How do I feel about this requirement in Warlords of Draenor? Simply put, I approve this message. It’s a step up from the whole ilevel requirement that we have now. It does force players to do content they might otherwise choose to skip, and it requires them to do it pretty early on.

That’s not something I would consider a hardship or problematic in any way. In the current Proving Grounds, a silver medal in your role is not difficult to obtain. I personally didn’t have that much difficulty achieving gold, and as we know, a skilled Hunter can even achieve Gold in the tanking role.

The big question is can the Proving Grounds be an accurate test of skill? Proving Grounds are solo content, not group. If the Proving Grounds aren’t updated to reflect some of the challenges we’ll face in heroic dungeons then this will be akin to the SAT. Passing gets you in the door, but the exam doesn’t really prepare you for what lies ahead. A point not lost on Ion when he said, “we realize that by formally using Proving Grounds as a qualification, it will be incumbent upon us to further refine their balance and mechanics. We’ll be updating them for Warlords, and we’re confident that we can make them a fair test of baseline ability within a given role.”

Let’s assume that Blizzard gets it right and Proving Grounds become an accurate test for Heroic dungeons, will they change the pug experience? Will it prevent a group from forming with, as Ion put it, “a tank who may literally have never tanked before”? Will players pay attention? Will they read the dungeon journal or watch a video before entering the dungeon for first time? If a boss needs to be interrupted will the group communicate and determine who will be responsible for that? Will players take it upon themselves to assume that duty?

Proving Grounds as test is a great concept, but if it doesn’t weed out the bad, if it doesn’t improve the dungeon experience, then the benefit is lost. I’m dubious that it will have a real impact on the quality of LFD runs.

If Warlords plays out like Mists did, then it won’t be long before players out gear the dungeons, and the difficulty becomes trivial. In other words, this Proving Grounds requirement only applies to the first tier of the expansion, and mostly only the first few weeks of it’s life. The long-term benefits will diminish as the expansion pushes forward.

What’s curious here is that it does not apply to LFR. Now maybe that while 5-man Heroic dungeon difficulty is going up, LFR difficulty will go down? Unlikely, and nothing to that effect has been stated, other than the gear requirements to run LFR (i.e., normal dungeon gear) seem rather low.

If the ilevel to get into LFR mandated that you have gear from Heroic dungeons, then by default everyone who runs LFR has met the qualifications to run Heroic dungeons, ergo, they have achieved Silver Medal in the Crucible for their role. Makes sense on paper anyway. That’s not the case though, and LFR is excluded from this requirement.

I find this odd, because it seems to go against the philosophy they’re trying to establish, as Watcher said, “In the past, challenging content and random matchmaking have often not gone so well together… Everyone has to learn somewhere, but we’d rather not have that learning come at other players’ expense.”

Obviously Blizzard does not consider LFR to be challenging content or they would tack on the Silver Medal requirement. Scrambling an egg is not challenging. I put some butter in a pan, crack the egg, scramble it around, put it on a plate, and then eat. I know how to scramble an egg. Now if instead of cooking it on a stove I chose to go outside in the noon day sun and hold a magnifying glass over the pan, I might not get the same results. Therein lies the problem. LFR done by the book is not challenging, but it is seldom done by the book, and players have an aptitude to make their own hard modes.

This is why if it were up to me, I’d make some form of Proving Grounds medal a requirement for all PvE matchmaking content. Scenarios, normal dungeons, LFR and the like. If the difficulty and challenge were solely dictated by the content this would be fine, but unfortunately players often have a way of making content harder than it should be, regardless of the design.

Where do you stand on this change? Do you like the idea of Proving Grounds used to actually prove yourself? Should the requirement be lowered to Bronze or raised to Gold? Should it apply to more than just Heroic 5-man dungeons?

Let’s get this party started!


Hunter Durendil  getting tanking gold.

Durendil – You're doing it really wrong (Gold Tank)

Feb 212014
 

The final piece in this series is the workhorse of it all, my rig. I bought my computer in 2011, replacing a system that I bought in 2008. This one is almost three years old now and it’s standing the test of time nicely. Once upon a time I built my own systems, but my wife made me get out of that business. I can’t say that I miss it, and I’ll likely continue to buy ready made computers from here on out. I purchased my system from Ibuypower.

The system is very reliable, although I do get the occasional blue screen. My overall experience with them was good, and I’d have no problem buying from the again. Here are the basic specifications.

systemspecs

 The hard disk information in the image above is misleading. I actually have three hard drives in my system. My C: drive is 120GB SSD. I use this for the OS and most of my software. I have a little data stored on here, but not much. For my data I have 1TB IDE 7200 RPM HDD.

When I first bought the system I had plenty of room for both World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but as those games have grown over time, I needed more space. I added at 476GB SSD which I use for WoW, SWTOR and a couple of other games.

Despite being almost three years old, this system still runs very fast. I’m able to play WoW and SWTOR with all of the graphic set to max, and I don’t spend too much time on loading screens, and I rarely suffer from lag in raids and operations. Even though LFRs are seldom smooth, my system’s performance usually is.

I haven’t kept up on the latest improvements in PC hardware, but I’m sure things have gotten better in the last three years. That said, I don’t see any need to upgrade my system, something my wife is happy to hear me say.

What are you guys running on?

 

Feb 202014
 

razer-naga-2014-banner_785

The Razer Naga 2012 is the most under utilized tool in my arsenal. This is due in large part to my Logitech G510 keyboard. A lot of what I could use this mouse for is farmed out to the keyboard. That said, not everyone who has tried Logitech keyboard has liked or even chosen to use the G-keys. If you’re looking for an alternative to keyboard input, the Razer Naga could be the tool for you.

This is a powerful gaming mouse, and like my keyboard it now has an upgraded version. The latest version has title scroll-wheel and more pronounced buttons so you’re less likely to fat-finger the wrong thing.

It has 12 programmable keys which you can use for just about anything. I use it for push-to-talk, auto-run, and Counter-Shot. If I were inclined, I could program any number of abilities or commands to these buttons.

I purchased it with the best of intentions, but I just couldn’t train myself to push all those buttons on the side. Eventually I’ll get around to binding a few more things. It definitely takes some practice training your thumb to know where the buttons are and which ones to press.

It has an in-game addon that you can use. It’s not compatible with other bar addons like Dominos, so I’ve chosen not to use it, but I like the fact that they’ve gone out of their way to support World of Warcraft.

Overall this is a good product, but due to overlap in functionality with my keyboard, my preference is to use that for most things.